Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Running Motivation

Running is a very demanding sport, both physically and emotionally. Although the benefits often outweigh the negatives, sometimes you just start feeling burnt out and need a little extra motivational kick to get back in the swing of things. Here are a few ideas to try next time you find yourself feeling uninspired on a run.

Try a new routeRunners, like anyone, get stuck in their routines. Just like people cycle through the same 12 dinners for years, runners will cycle through their same 3-4 running routes until they could run it in their sleep. No wonder they lose motivation! It’s important to keep your mind stimulated while running and give yourself new turns, sights, and mile markers to look forward to. If you’re limited by where you live, try driving or riding your bike a few miles away on the weekends and beginning a run from a new location, or have a friend or family member drop you off a few miles away and run home.
Volunteer at a RaceAlthough many runners sign up and participate in races, far fewer give back and volunteer. Most races depend heavily on volunteers, and you’re not likely to ever be turned away if you offer your time. Volunteering lets you feel the rush of positive energy and enthusiasm of races without having to train and run in it. Seeing runners of all ages and athletic abilities working hard, achieving their goals, and celebrating at the finish line emits an extremely contagious good feeling that is bound to get you excited about your own training once again. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself signing up for the same race you just volunteered for.

Go shopping!Although shopping is not always recommended as the go-to boredom buster, few runners can deny the remarkable feeling a new pair or running shorts or shoes (or, if you’re on a budget, just a headband or fun colored shoelaces) can provide. Perhaps all runners secretly want to believe that new gear might make us faster runners, but honestly, whose to say it can’t? It’s all about attitude, after all.
Read a book about runningThere are countless inspirational books on running out there. We are all inspired by different types of stories, but here are a few to get your list started: Born to Run by Christopher Mcougall, Ultramarathon Man: Confession of an All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes, Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek, Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison and Don Allison, or Once A Runner (the only novel in this list) by John L. Parker. It would be nearly impossible to read any one of these books and not want to get back out there with a freshly inspired perspective.

Take a week offIf all else fails, maybe you’re just burnt out mentally and physically. Listen to your body and give it a break. Get some extra rest, catch up on your ‘to do’ list around the house, read a new book, and just relax. It never seems to take runners more than a week to start itching and reaching for their running shoes again.
Runners of all ability levels experience some motivation loss at times but, thankfully, it’s a very fixable problem. What are your motivation secrets?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

High-Altitude Training: Fact vs. Fiction

Before we get to the article, about 3months ago I moved to >6,000ft of elevation from sea level.  I wanted to think that I would work hard to acclimate to

1. The change in air pressure (it's not a difference in O2 content, as is commonly thought).

2. The hILLs ;).  A simple road commute to work is a ~10miles run with almost a 1/2 mile of cumulative UP.  This is with start and stop points differing by a few hundred feet of elevation, so the rolling hills are what's doing it.  It's not just rolling, i can leave my house and run ~15miles and be at the top of pikes peak with a cumulative climb of 10,000'!

3. The god-send, aridness!  Being from the midatlantic, the concept of convective cooling is not in our vocabulary.  In order for sweat to cool you evapoartively, the atmosphere has to be able to be capable of taking on more water.  This is usually directly linked to the dew point.  Running in humidity is like growing a new limb.  A cool day you send vast amounts of blood to your working muscles.  In heat+humidity it's your skin that gets priority.  The biggest organ in my body (sorry Mrs Paleorunner, I mean my skin) needs the most blood first!

During this 3month process, there's been moving and a new job cutting into my training a bit.  But I finally had a chance to compare my fitness a little (albeit unscientifically).  I was in Florida for business and I thought, aha - more air pressure, NO hills I should blaze through a run.  Then, the heat+humidity had a different plan for me :).  But I was able to maintain a zone 2,3 run at my 6month ago marathon pace for ~7miles.  Good sign as it was relatively easy.  Then after 5 days in FL, back to colorado on the relatively flat trails behind my house.  Let's compare my performance. (same runner, same shoes, days apart, same relative perceived effort (RPE))

Distance: 7.45 miles
Pace: 9:41 / mile
Cumulative Elevation Ascent:  1600 feet
Temp/Humidity: 79 F / 23 %

Distance: 8.61 miles
Pace: 7:19 / mile
Cumulative Elevation Ascent:  25 feet
Temp/Humidity: 82 F / 80 %

Heat is a big factor, but running uphill is bigger!  

Now on to the fact/fiction from Active.com:

Many athletes use altitude-training programs to enhance their physical performance. However, utilizing these concepts for fitness purposes can be a little tricky. Here are some of the common thoughts, right or wrong, regarding high-altitude training and how it can help or hurt you in your fitness pursuits.

Training at altitude is beneficial because the air is thinner.

It’s not the lack of oxygen that makes your body work so hard at altitude. It really has to do with the barometric pressure. Even at 10,000 feet, there is still 29 percent oxygen in the air, and out of that 29 percent you only take in around 10 percent of the oxygen you breathe. The big challenge is your ability at altitude to extract the oxygen and get it into your bloodstream at altitude.

The Effects of High-Altitude Training
At sea level, your body uses air pressure to its advantage. It allows all of the weight from the atmosphere to help push the air into your lungs, moving the air from an area of greater pressure to lower pressure.
The same happens at a cellular level, where the pressure then allows the air (including oxygen) to be pressed into your bloodstream.
When you work at a place that is higher than sea level, you start to experience less barometric pressure. Thus the air is not forced into the bloodstream as easily, making the body work harder.
Over time, the body will grow more red blood cells to help ease the struggle of getting oxygen. These cells help carry oxygen through the body, which will result in better fitness/sports performance.

Training at altitude will make me more fit.

Professional and Olympic athletes have known the benefits of altitude training for years. After all, there is an Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a very good reason. If someone trains at altitude, they will see improvements in their maximal oxygen uptake (the ability to take oxygen in and move it into the blood stream), increased lactate threshold (the ability of the body to get over the “burn”), improved power output, and better sleep (which helps repair the body). These benefits are all a result of the red blood cell production caused by the adaptation to low-barometric pressure.

If I train with a mask that restricts airflow, it will simulate training at altitude.

As stated before, the benefits of altitude training are not found from areas that lack oxygen, but from areas of lower-barometric pressure. Restricting airflow does not simulate training in altitude. In fact, training with reduced oxygen can cause serious problems like hyperventilation, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
Better use of altitude training would be sleeping in a hyperbaric tent. These tents create an enclosed, simulated altitude that allows the body to see results of altitude training while residing at sea level. These tents can be purchased or rented and assembled in your own bed. Some places offer hyperbaric chambers that you can visit for a fee. The “altitude” is adjusted slowly as the body adapts, and it has been proven to yield positive results.
Though air-restrictive masks may prove beneficial for some athletes whose sport requires working with low-oxygen levels, the masks pose danger to those using them to "get fit.”

If I train at altitude, then race at sea level, I’ll see better performance.

Well, this is a tricky one. Depending on the environment, it could backfire on you. If you spend time training in Colorado, which is high and very dry, then do a marathon in Florida, which is low and very wet; you may experience some problems because of the humidity. However, generally, you should see better times, strength and recovery if you train at altitude (or simulated altitude), and then perform at sea level.

If I train at sea level and plan to do a race in the mountains, then it’s probably a good idea to get there a few days early to prepare for the race.

When you’re not accustomed to altitude, you have two choices: do the race immediately—within a day—or wait 7 to 10 days before racing. If you get to an event a couple of days before, your body has time to figure out that you are in a different environment, and then it will start making the necessary changes it needs to survive at altitude. Your body will become stressed, and then it will show in your performance.
If you do the event immediately, it will not have time to start adapting, and you should not see terrible challenges to your pulmonary system. If you get there 10 days ahead of time, your body will have plenty of time to fully acclimate.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Roseto effect - know your neighbors

We're healthy people.  We concern ourselves with exercise, diet,... things we do to mimic our ancestor, take advantage of our adaptations.  But you can eat right and exercise, and run like the persistence hunters we evolved to be and STILL miss the boat.  

Healthy social aspects are needed for humans' longevity.  We are MORE community-oriented than you'd think.  In a time where noone knows their neighbors and people are sicker than ever (or require more medical intervention than ever).

The town of Roseta, PA had remarkably less non-infectious diseases and long life spans than any other neighboring towns with same diet and other factors.  Roseta had a social structure that mimicked ancestral cohesion and when that was gone, their mortality rates matched their PA peers.

From the piece:

This remarkable pattern suggests systematic differences between the two neighboring communities over the course of at least 30 years-years for which there are many indicators of greater social solidarity and homogeneity in Roseto and no evidence of differences in coronary risk factors.15 The social changes that occurred in Roseto in the 1960s are reflected in sharply increased rates of heart attack among men under the age of 65.

Executive Summary:  

The Roseto effect: a 50-year comparison of mortality rates.

OBJECTIVES. Earlier studies found striking differences in mortality from myocardial infarction between Roseto, a homogeneous Italian-American community in Pennsylvania, and other nearby towns between 1955 and 1965. These differences disappeared as Roseto became more "Americanized" in the 1960s. The present study extended the comparison over a longer period of time to test the hypothesis that the findings from this period were not due to random fluctuations in small communities. 

METHODS. We examined death certificates for Roseto and Bangor from 1935 to 1985. Age-standardized death rates and mortality ratios were computed for each decade. 

RESULTS. Rosetans had a lower mortality rate from myocardial infarction over the course of the first 30 years, but it rose to the level of Bangor's following a period of erosion of traditionally cohesive family and community relationships. This mortality-rate increase involved mainly younger Rosetan men and elderly women. 

CONCLUSIONS. The data confirmed the existence of consistent mortality differences between Roseto and Bangor during a time when there were many indicators of greater social solidarity and homogeneity in Roseto.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

First Real Run in B2R Trail Shoes

Using the new B2R Trail Shoes:
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I see these peaks out of my kitchen window:  (peak on the left index finger, smaller summit with a house on it, then the top of the Incline Trail.)
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So I make it up to that First Peak: (looking down at my house)

Then I run to that house on the shorter peak.  Most of the time I feel like i'm following a trail, but I keep losing it.  I eventually end up on a driveway, I zig zag that dirt road for a while, finally just bound / bushwhack down a loose gravel/dirt hill, run on a paved road until I find another dirt trail!  Then I head to a geometrical shape I see on a neighboring peak.  Looks like a pill box or something.  Along the way I find a lantern, seems old.  The 'pill box' turns out to be a torn down house's foundation.  And after visiting it, I see it's the 'end' of the red mountain trail.

The shoes did GREAT.  I have not taken them through water crossings yet.  but the way the dust sifts through, you can tell they will drain quickly (and therefore dry quickly).

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I did have to stop a couple times to pull out cactus needles from my foot.