Road Running

As I ponder what to write for this post, it crosses my mind to include a few key ideas shared with me from some top level minds in coaching the great sport of running. i will try to connect them so they flow naturally from one to the next and follow a train of thought. Here are some abbreviated ideas.

Idea 1. Stay off the roads! Paved roads are hard packed and do not absorb impact well. This means that the force from every single step you take goes elsewhere…namely, you. Ever wonder how the Kenyans and Ethiopians can run so well with relatively few injuries? One reason is that they run on meadows, not roads or paved surfaces. Meadows provide natural cushioning for the body as the impact of the foot strikes gets absorbed by the moss/grass/dirt they run on. If the impact is not absorbed by the soft ground (ie running on a hard surface), the force must go through the body. This leads to aches and pains, tight muscles, and eventually, an injury. So get on the grass or trail and save running on the road for race day!

Idea 2. Change your shoes! Regular wear and tear on your shoes means they need replacing on occasion. connected to idea 1 above, if you run on pavement of any kind, the shoes get beaten up faster than they would on softer surfaces. Careful tracking of your mileage in a pair of shoes and knowing the design of the shoe and its expected life, you can make sure to keep your shoes up to date and reduce risk of injury.

Idea 3. Have a plan and know your route! Be it the heat of summer, or the cold of winter (especially here in Manitoba), knowing things like where shelter, water, and emergency help are can be important if such need arises. One step further than that, is telling someone your route, and run plan, if you choose to run alone. Or run in a group and make sure you use a buddy system or have small groups to ensure everyone is accounted for. In winter, wear reflective clothing so others can see you. In summer, make sure you hydrate enough and avoid mid day runs in the high humidity if possible.

Happy running!!

 

 

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Commitment

Ah yes, the ‘C’ word. Lots of people tremble in fear of….commitment…of ANY kind. Don’t like your cell phone? Get a different one. Want different TV options? Switch packages. Your house isn’t exactly perfect? Get a different one. (popular TV home makeover/real estate shows do not help people see the light on this one). Tired of the same person? Get a divorce and spice up your life. Tired of your car…lease a new one. Trainer making you do a workout you do not like? Find a different trainer.

I could go on for days, but I’m sure you get my point. We do not have to follow through with anything any more, and it makes sticking to any of our original goals very difficult at best. Especially if our media sources and friends are on the bandwagon of ‘change is always better’.

What do you do if you have a bad workout or you do not feel like doing a workout but you have made a commitment (to yourself, and maybe to a club, team, coach, or trainer as well)? Character is not how you act when people are watching,  it is how you act when no one is watching. Commitment comes from a style of character that is fading in this Western world of ours.

At the recent WSS 4, there was a presenter who talked about who talked about the mental capacity of athletes and how that effects performance. It was concluded that having the mental capacity to stick to a commitment is a determining factor in those who succeed versus those who do not.

So how does one go about committing to things in a world that no longer values this? Write yourself a note explaining why you need to follow through with your commitment, find a friend who can be an accountability partner for you, remind yourself of the end goal, track progress to keep your motivation high, and try to enjoy to process as much as the goal. Routine can help, so why not use it to create a healthy lifestyle, from workouts, to nutrition, to managing stress.

Commit to you, commit to better!

1%, yes its important

Coaching is a science, and an art. The science is knowing that there are good ways to squat (proper form, reduce risk of injury and gain strength), and bad ways to squat (putting the body in a vulnerable position, increasing risk of injury).

The science is teachable, the art is how well a coach learns their athlete and can apply the science in artful forms to said athlete.

Part of learning your client is to know as much about them as possible. Work habits, sleep patterns, stress levels, etc. But the details can also add up. Things like what side of the couch they always sit on to watch TV or movies, how high the desk is in relation to the chair they use at work every day, how many peas were on their plate at supper that got eaten, if they are getting drunk and dancing naked on the tables at the club or keeping it to one or two drinks, how much time was spent wake boarding at the lake on the weekend including how many times they fell off and in which direction, if female-what kind of bra they use, the type of pillow you sleep on, etc.

You see, if I am able to improve your life in each and every area by just 1%, it will add up to a great improvement in your training. Take your pillow for example, if you test out 30 different pillows with different kinds and shapes and sizes, etc, and find the BEST one for you, use only that pillow instead of any that are not the BEST. It will improve your sleep by 0.1-0.5%. You may say that is not very much. True. But if you then go and find the optimum position to have the seat in your car, it adds another 0.1-0.5% to the quality of your ‘training’. I say training because everything you do in life will either help you reach your goal, or set you back further from your goal. Yes, everything.

If 10 aspects of your life can be improved by 0.1-0.5% each, that will add up to 1-5% improvement WITHOUT CHANGING YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE. Not one added workout and up to 5% performance increase just by making a few small changes to your lifestyle. (see my post, Train smarter, not more!)

I have lost clients over this, asking “too much personal information”. I have also had clients become much closer to me as they see I really do try to understand everything about them and get the very best result for them. And I have had clients laugh at me and carry on as they were. Different people respond differently and that is part of the art of coaching. The science is only half of the training equation, the art side is a lot messier but can be a lot of fun! So be artful in your training approach and the science of improving every aspect of your life by just 1% will help lead you to your training goals! And that is awesome! 🙂

Seasons change, healthy choices should not.

With summer winding down and fall around the corner, it is almost time to get back into routine. For many people in Manitoba this includes school (for yourself or your children..or both), regular hours at the office, and trying to work off some of the ‘summer specials’ from the amazing and vast array of food and beverage choices here in Winnipeg!

So remember to pick healthy food options, like adding a banana or apple, for your lunch (and the kids too), get into the routine of regular exercise by finding a fitness class or hitting up a scenic running route. Keep stress down by planning ahead and getting your schedules organized. And check your schedule to see that it is not overcrowded. Consistent and regular sleep improves quality of life too, and a schedule that does not allow adequate sleep is not a healthy schedule.

As I prep for the fall season and the clients I will be working with, I cannot help but get excited to see the vigor of the athletes as they prep, the new goals of the running groups, and the renewed energy of the fitness clients! Bring on fall!

Healthy living leads to a happier life, so keep on making good choices 🙂

Hydration

It is hard to overstate the importance of water to humans, and to human performance. The majority of the human body is comprised of water. Water helps with virtually every component of the body, starting with the brain. It takes a lot of water to keep the brain functioning optimally.

Joints are lubricated by water, lack of water causes muscles to cramp. Skin needs water, kidneys require water to perform the task of cleaning the blood. The liver needs water to flush toxins out of the body. The list goes on. So keep hydrated, especially as we enter into the warmer summer months!

Warm weather running

With the warmer weather comes some new challenges in running. Hydration is very important, and taking precautions to avoid the heat of the day when running in summer is wise. Also, planning a route where you know water, shelter from the elements, and a safe place to rest/recover if needed would be to your advantage.

Water is best for shorter runs under an hour. Sport drinks are best for longer runs as electrolytes need to be replaced in the body.

Wear light, loose fitting clothing. With all the advanced clothing technology, something that wicks moisture away to keep you dry and cool would be optimal. Reflective gear is still important for visibility to others you encounter, and a well fitted hat can help keep the sun off your head and out of your eyes.

Train hard but listen to your body. When it needs to rest or slow down from possible overheating, do it. Your body will thank you for adjusting to allow it to recuperate better.

Train smarter, not more!

The more I hear from top training experts on training, the more a common theme emerges: ‘train smarter, not more’. Nowadays there are no ‘seasonal sports’ as year round camps and indoor, outdoor, summer, and winter leagues create year round competition schedules. As mentioned in a previous post, this creates more income for those who put on endless camps, clinics and leagues and sell you fear. Fear that your child might lose their spot if they do not attend each and every camp, clinic, practice, and league  within a 3 hour drive of home.

This all appears to be great at first glance…more coaching, more playing time, more skill development… but a deeper look into the issue reveals some big problems.

Injuries. Injuries happen from one of two possible reasons. Trauma- instantaneous action leading to injury, like a tackle to the knee in football. Overuse- the gradual repetitive overloading of the muscular or skeletal systems that causes a breakdown over time, like a stress fracture in a runners leg.

More high school athletes are having surgeries for athletic overuse injuries than ever before. 25 years ago a high school athlete who had gone in for surgery was almost unheard of. Now its so common that most high schools have had someone have a surgery to fix some kind of athletic injury.

University coaches are having athletes come to them from high school, who already have college amounts of ‘mileage’ and wear and tear on their bodies.

So how does one deal with this? Train smarter, not more! Keep rest days rest days, and make sure rest days are in regular rotation (once a week for example). As a coach and trainer, I make sure to ask my athletes/clients “When does the body recover? Is it during workouts, or during rest?” Then I remind them that the rest must compliment the training they have just done. The quality of the work done in each and every workout should supersede the quantity of work done in each workout.

Train smarter, reduce risk of injury, and have better chances of long term success! here’s to training smarter for the win!!