Tag: running

Staying Motivated in Relation to Running

  1. 5 min rule – if you don’t feel like running, but know you should, tell yourself you will just go out for 5 min. Regardless of how unmotivated you are, go outside and run. If you feel better after 5 min… keep going, if you still feel lousy, head back…you know you tried.
  2. The mental block – you are exhausted mentally and physically…or your just not sure how you are feeling… but often, it is just mentally…apply the 5 min rule!
  3. Go early… If you are finding the evening runs are challenging…rearrange your schedule and get up earlier… it will relieve that extra stress you always have on yourself by the end of the day.
  4. Find a friend… when someone is counting on you… you show up!
  5. Run a different route… switch up your routes to eliminate boredom (running the streets)
  6. Get off the treadmill
  7. Set training goals… running a certain numbers of miles each week, time goals, etc.
  8. Focus on your long term training goals… (hanging on the fridge)…think about what lies ahead (the race) think about the excitement of race day and all you have accomplished along your journey thus far.

Oh Those Nasty Shin Splints

Whether you are going after general fitness or you are training hard to prepare for a certain sport, if you train with any purpose, then you are probably training hard. And when you go hard, you are bound to run into a few “wear and tear” problems along the way. These issues do not need to take you off course and should not keep you from reaching your goals!

One common issue I’ve heard of lately is shin splints. If you’re jogging around outside, training for a race, or participating in a boot camp class, you’re at risk of a common, running-related injury called shin splints. Referring to pain along the shin (tibia) or the large bone in the front of your lower leg, the pain is caused by an overload on the shinbone and the connective tissues that attach your muscles to the bone. This overload is often caused by specific athletic activities, such as:

  • Running downhill
  • Running on a slanted or tilted surface
  • Running in worn-out footwear
  • Engaging in sports with frequent starts and stops (ie. basketball and tennis, or agility training and plyometrics)

If you have shin splints, you may notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner or sometimes outer part of your lower leg and mild swelling. At first, the pain may stop when you stop running or exercising. Eventually, however, the pain may be ongoing.

Most common among runners, many times they can also be caused by training too hard, too fast or for too long.

TREATING SHIN SPLINTS:

  • Rest. Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort, but don’t give up all physical activity. While you’re healing, switch to non weight bearing cardio such as biking, the elliptical, or swimming.
  • Ice the affected area. Apply ice to the affected shin for 15 to 20 minutes after you train.
  • Wear proper shoes. Be sure you are wearing shoes designed for the sport in which you participate. Invest in a pair of shoes that will enhance your performance and protect you from injury. Also consider the age of your shoes. Athletic shoes will last you the equivalent of 350-550 miles of running, depending on your body weight, running style and surfaces on which you train.

*It’s also important to resume your usual activities gradually. If your shin isn’t completely healed, returning to your usual activities may only cause continued pain.

PREVENTING SHIN SPLINTS:

  • Choose the right shoes. As previously mentioned, wear footwear that suits your sport and replace them as necessary.
  • Lessen the impact. Cross-train with a sport that places less of an impact on your shins, such as swimming or biking. Start new activities slowly and increase time and intensity gradually.
  • Add strength training to your workout. Try foot strengthening along with calf raises. You can perform this exercise with added resistance by sitting on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop a wide resistance band around your toes. Flex your toes toward you and extend outwards for 2-3 sets of 10 reps. Leg presses and other exercises for your lower legs can be helpful as well.

Seattle Athletic Club Downtown fitness programs incorporate athletic training to build strength, endurance, and agility. Training this way strengthens joints, tendons and connective tissues along with the major muscle groups. Strong muscle attachments and joints that can bear the stress of heavy training are essential in the prevention of injuries. However, even the fittest athlete can encounter wear and tear problems! By taking the right steps, you can minimize the pain and long term effects and get back to your normal routine in no time!

A cure for when you hit a Training Plateau and the Running Blues

Feeling like you have hit a plateau in your training or just getting bored with running the same route at the same pace every time?!?! Then it is time to mix up your training! Here are a few different fun run workouts to incorporate into your weekly training that will not only help your running funk, but also help increase your speed, strength and power.

STRIDES: Strides are a gradual build or pick up that ends in about your 5k pace (or 85% perceived effort). Usually they are anywhere from 10-30sec long taking a full recovery between each walking back to the start of the stride, which can be anywhere from 1-2 minutes making sure you are starting your next stride not breathing heavily. The purpose of a stride is to work on your run mechanics and quick leg turnover. They are an easy way to incorporate speed work into your running without it being hard on your body or causing injury. The things to think about when doing strides are: forward body lean from your ankles, relaxed body position, picking your ankles up, mid-foot strike, and quick leg turnover. Great times to include strides are; at the end of an easy recovery or aerobic run to work on a quicker leg turnover, before a track workout to activate and recruit those muscles before you ask them to do a fast and hard workout, or on race day as a pre-race facilitation to help warm up your muscles.

FARTLEK: Otherwise known as “speed play”, fartlek runs are great on mid to longer runs. During a fartlek run you are alternating our pace between a slower easier effort and faster bursts of varying distances. It is key to pace yourself on your hard efforts so that you are running your last effort as fast as your first. Make sure that you recover between your fast efforts so you are not breathing heavily when you are starting your next hard effort. This is a great way to build speed and strength. Be consistent and try to add speed into one of your runs each week.

HILLS: Running a hilly course or hill repeats is a great way to build your muscular strength and endurance, as well as your mental toughness. When running hills make sure to work on that quicker leg turnover and do not bend at your waist, keep a nice tall body again leaning into the hill from your ankles, not bending at the waist, lifting and driving your knees into the hill. When you feel your form is going bad slow it down or choose a less difficult grade of hill. Recovery is running down the hill with a quick and light leg turnover. Just be careful to not overdue the hill training as it can be an easy way to get injured.

TRAIL RUNNING: Not only is it scenic and beautiful to go out and run on trails, but there are great benefits to your running as well! Running on trails is more challenging than running on the road and is a great way to build strength in your running. Trails are also soft and are easier on your joints as opposed to running on hard asphalt as the soft surface of the trails absorb more of the shock. Because of the variable surface, you are naturally adjusting and changing your stride and can become more explosive with it. As your body moves to adapt to the changing terrain you will begin to “find” and strengthen your core. When you move from trial running back to the road, you will notice how much “easier” it is.

Try incorporating one or more of these fun runs into your weekly running routine and as long as you stay consistent with it you will see improvements in your overall running. It might also be the cure to your running blues and just what you needed to help bring enjoyment to your running once again! But remember, CONSISTENCY is key!

Tips to Improve Your Running Form

Getting the running shoes on and out the door is just the first step… Most people don’t realize that running is not just about putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward, there are many small nuances and techniques to running that create better run efficiency, power, and the ability to run injury free. Just sit at Greenlake one Saturday afternoon and you will see it all, the good the bad and the otherwise. Proper run form is the key to increasing your speed as well as to help you from getting injured. Here are a few proper run form technique pointers:

  1. Posture: You should run tall and erect, shoulders level, back straight with a neutral pelvis.
  2. Forward Lean: Lean forward from your ankles. Many times you will see people running hunched over from their waist or their shoulders (I blame it on computers and being hunched over at a desk all day) this can tighten the chest and restrict breathing. The other extreme is the puffed chest runner I like to call a peacock runner. They literally lead with their chest. Proper form: You want to be tall when you run while leaning from your ankles creating a light forward angle to your body. Helpful hint: think about looking forward about 20-30 feet on the path you are running, this will naturally give your body a slight forward tilt. Looking directly down will make you hunch and looking way up at the horizon can lead to almost a backwards tilt – you want to lean forward in the direction you are going, let the natural forces help you not fight against you.
  3. Relax! Relax your shoulders relax your hands! Let your body fall into a natural rhythm. Running tense is wasted energy and as you start to run long you will feel the effects whether you realize it or not.
  4. 90degree arms: keep elbows at a 90degree bend. If you are breaking this it means that you are “hammering” with your arm and loosing efficiency. Arm should swing from the shoulder joint not the elbow. Hands should brush by your waist not be tight up by your chest which can cause tiredness and tightness in your shoulders and back.
  5. Midfoot strike: (though this one is often up for debate…) Land with your foot striking directly under your center of mass and roll off the ball of your foot. Heel striking often means that you are over striding which affects run efficiency and means you are “braking” causing you to actually run “slower” and may lead to injury because of the impact on your joints. If you are running all on the balls of your feet, your calves can get tight and fatigue quickly and or you can develop shin pain.
  6. Run cadence: this is the frequency of your foot strike. Ideally run cad is around 90 (or 180 steps per minute) though many elite runners and triathletes will run at a cadence 100 this is very high for most. Running with shorter strides uses less energy and creates less stress on your muscles and impact to your joints. To count your run cadence, during any portion of your run choose one foot and count how many times it strikes down in a minute. If you are much under 90 this could mean that you are either over-striding and or your foot is spending too much time with impact on the ground (anywhere from 88-90 is great). You want to think light and airy when you run not thumping down heavy footed. Run as if you are running on a hot surface: quick, light and with short strides. NO bouncing! Bouncing = wasted energy and too much impact on your muscles and joints.

Next time you put those sneakers on and head out the door for the run think about “how you run” and how you can improve your run efficiency by following the above pointers.

Interested in learning more about running or to just have some buddies to run with? Run Club leaves from the SAC lobby every Wed morning at 6:30am!

Strengthen your GLUTES!

When you think about the best exercises to strengthen your glutes, squats, lunges, and step ups may come to mind. But all of these exercises can get a little boring, and some of them are not recommended for folks with knee injuries. Luckily, there is an exercise that you can do with minimal equipment that isolates your glutes and hip abductors that delivers greater returns on your gym time than squats, lunges, and step ups combined. This exercise is the X-Band Walk.

To complete the X-Band Walk:
For equipment, all you need is a resistance band. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart stepping on the resistance band. Cross the band (make an “X” with the band) at the knee joint and hold the band in each hand with your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Keep your knees slightly bent. Step out to the right for 10 reps, then step backwards for 10 reps, then to the left for 10, then forward for 10. Always face forward, so that you step in a box formation and return to your starting point.

How does the X-Band Walk benefit your back side?
Unlike other more popular glute exercises, the X-Band Walk isolates the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. Although most of us are familiar with the gluteus maximus muscles (they form what we call our “butt”) the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius play a key role in the stability and power that we generate from our back sides.

Move to the Beat… Tune Up Your Workout Playlist!

Music is everywhere. We hear it when we go to the grocery store, in the elevator, while driving in the car, you name it. The soft tones, depending on the music choice, help to ease the mind, creating a more pleasant environment or shopping experience. Music helps to low anxiety levels and allows the mind to relax. This can also be useful during most exercise activities. At the gym we listen to music to help pump us up, block out unwanted stimulation (other conversations, weights crashing, etc.), and it helps to keep us motivated and moving. There is a reason why the theme song from Rocky tends to play in your head while running up a huge flight of stairs. It has been shown that positive experiences and mindsets produce positive feelings and a desire to repeat the activity. It has also been shown that lyrics that are related to determination and strength may also enhance motivation to exercise more intensely and/or for longer.

Music can be used to motivate you in the gym and help to keep your heart rate and energy up while taking an intense class. It can also be used to enhance your physical performance, making you work harder without thinking about it too much. All you need to know is the total beats per minute (BPM) for the songs you want to listen to. It is extremely easy to find the BPM of a song from your iTunes. Simply follow the directions below to find out which songs will have the BPM listed in your music library.

  1. Find the song you wish to know the beats per minute for in your iTunes library, and select the song by right-clicking on it. A long menu box should appear directly under the song.
  2. Click the button that says “Get Info”. This will take you to a larger pop up box where you can locate various information about that specific song.
  3. Click the tab on the top of the box that says “Info”, and look under the box that says BPM. If the box is blank, it means you will have to manually enter the beats per minute of the song. If you know the tempo of the song, you can type in the BPM yourself.

Once you have an idea of the BPM, play with the songs and see which ones correlate with your running speed. You can challenge yourself by throwing in a few songs that are at a faster BPM than your normal gait. The idea is that you will continue to run with the beat without noticing that you are running faster. It has even been shown that when patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease listen to music at a specific BPM, they tend to walk more fluidly without as many stutter-steps that occur without music.

There have been some studies that show it is not always the most beneficial to listen to music while performing exercise at a competitive level. Elite level athletes need to stay focused on their task and all the different variables that occur throughout their competition. This can be as simple as a slight turn out of the foot or more complex such as respiration rate compared to heart rate. Not to say elite level athletes do not listen to music at all while exercise. Simply put: music creates a dissociative environment (the feeling of ‘zoning out’) which is what most people are looking for. Athletes thrive in the associative state and do not need the distractions as much, especially during competition.

Overall, music is an extremely useful tool for the everyday exerciser. If you find you are not enjoying your workouts as much, try some music to make the experience more entertaining. When you go for a run, try playing with the BPM to see what happens. You may find yourself running faster and more efficiently based solely on the music you choose!

Recovery Massage & Maintenance Massage: Two Applications of Sports Massage

Sports Massage techniques consisting of flat, broad-hand compressions, jostling, and kneading are generally done without oil with the athlete draped (under sheets) or in loose clothing/ athletic attire. Deep gliding strokes with oil can also be used, with the overall purpose being to clean and prime the muscles by increasing circulation. The difference between Recovery Massage and Maintenance massage is in their application. Recovery Massage facilitates recovery from competition or a strenuous training session and is applied soon after the activity. Maintenance Massage is received on a regular basis by athletes as part of their training regimen. Its purpose is to help athletes maintain optimal physical condition during training.

Recovery Massage is administered for the uninjured athlete soon after the activity. It should last no more than 30 minutes and is essentially a post-event Sports Massage. This somewhat immediate, shorter duration application can reduce the athlete’s recovery time from an event by half and is designed to minimize the physiological effects of the activity. Several hours after or the next day, the Recovery Massage could last as much as one hour, although post-exercise soreness may have already developed. Jostling coaxes the nervous system to let muscles relax, compressions and deep gliding strokes increase circulation, promoting better cell nutrition and removal of waste products.

Maintenance massage consists of general recovery massage on the entire body with specific attention to problem areas, concentrating on tight and sore muscles, stiff joints and former injury sites. Sports massage techniques are effective in addressing tension and improving muscle flexibility, thereby restoring normal Range of Motion. Although the jury is still out as to the cause of post- exercise soreness and pain, broad-hand compressions of Sports Massage can successfully alleviate this condition: pressure used is administered lightly at first, increasing proportionally as the pain diminishes, until all muscle discomfort is eliminated.

By increasing circulation of blood and lymph, Recovery and Maintenance Massage carry away waste products or metabolites, promote cell nutrition, reduce edema and expedite healing of damaged tissues. They calm the nervous system and restore Range of Motion. Afterwards, athletes should feel relaxed and refreshed.

Low Down on Running & Hiking Shoes!

With all the great weather on the way I’m sure you are looking to the outdoors to start some adventures; perhaps even looking at getting some new shoes. Then you go to the store and see the huge athletic shoe selection and go, “now what?” Well here are some helpful tips on what makes shoes different.

In general:

  • The running surface you are going to use will determine the kind of shoe you need…if it’s a hard/irregular surface you usually need more support and energy absorption.
  • Look to get the shoe comfortably snug with little to no heal slip.
  • The space between your longest toe and the tip of your shoe should be about a finger width…this is because when you put your body weight into one foot (like when you walk or run) your foot lengthens and need room in the shoe.
  • Most running shoes come with “stock” insoles. If your feet need babying, get a different insole and it may make your outdoor adventures more comfortable.

Trail-Running Shoes:
These are the beefed up heavy looking running shoes; they have aggressive outsoles for traction and fortification usually offering higher ankle support, offering support and sole protection from trail obstacles. Use these shoes if you think you will encounter roots, rocks, mud and animal holes during a run or walk.

Road-Running Shoes:
These shoes are the simplified version of the trail-runner. They are designed for pavement or the occasional trip to a wood chipped running track or groomed nature trail. They are usually light and flexible, made to cushion and stabilize your feet during your stride on hard, even surfaces.

Common Running Mishaps:
Pronation involves the natural inward rolling of the foot following the heel strike. The basic pronation will help to absorb impact, relieving pressure on the knees and joints. It is a normal trait of neutral, biomechanically efficient runners.

Overpronation involves an exaggerated inward rolling of the foot. This common trait can leave runners with knee pains and sometimes injury.

Supination involves the outward rolling of the foot, resulting in insufficient impact reduction at landing. This is not a common running trait.

Shoe Types:
Cushioning in shoes provide an elevated shock absorption with minimal arch support; and are great for runners with light pronation or supination. Cushioning can also be used for those neutral runners who go off-pavement more often (it give runners more variety, keeping them from getting repetitive motion injuries).

Stability in shoes helps decelerate basic pronation. These shoes are great for neutral runners or ones who have mild to moderate overpronation, and often utilize a “post” in the midsole.

Motion Control in shoes offers stiffer heels and a straighter design to counter overpronation. These are great for runners who exhibit moderate to severe overpronation.

Shoe Uppers:
Synthetic Leather is a supple, durable, abrasion-resistant material made from nylon and polyester. It is lighter, quick to dry and breathable, requiring no “break-in” time.

Nylon and Nylon Mesh are durable synthetic materials used to reduce weight and increase breathability.

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) overlays are small, abrasion-resisting additions used to enhance stability and durability.

Midsole Technology:
(This is the cushioning and stability layer between the upper and outsole)

EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) is foam found in running shoes. Cushioning shoes often use just one layer of EVA, or multiple layers if trying to force a flex pattern.

Posts are areas of firmer EVA needed to create sections of the midsole that are harder to compress. Often seen in stability shoes, they are used to decelerate pronation or boost durability. Medial posts reinforce the arch side of the midsole for those runners with overpronation.

Plates are thin, flexible material (nylon or TPU) that stiffens the forefoot of the shoe; and are often used in trail-runners to protect the bottom of the foot from impact with trail obstacles.

Shanks stiffen the midsole and protect the heel and arch. They boost the shoe’s firmness needed in rocky terrain.

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a flexible plastic used in some midsoles for added stability.

Now that you know about shoes and how they can be used for your body and exercise adventures, go get a pair and enjoy everything that Seattle has to offer. Look to utilize them with upcoming SAC hikes, mountain expeditions, trail running as well as the Run club every week. For more information on shoes and any outdoor adventure going on please feel free to contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway or Outdoor Adventure Coach Brandyn Roark.

Multisport and Running Season Kicks Off!

As the weather finally (at least we think…) starts to take a turn for the better, the local multisport and running race season commences! The first weekend in May brought the first multisport race of the season for many athletes racing in the PNW, as well as half marathon and marathon mania! It was a jam packed race weekend as SAC members participated in events from Vancouver Canada all the way down to California! With plenty of races came plenty of stellar SAC member performances!

Check out the what and where your fellow SAC friends have been racing!!!

4/30: Wildlfower Long course Triathlon, CA
A tough and challenging half iron distance course (1.2mile swim/56mile bike/13.1mile) with lots of hills and trail running thrown into the mix! Not only that, but what makes this race so unique is the fact that participants have to camp pre-race because it is nestelled in the middle of now where!!! What can we say, it adds to the “charm” and comraderie of the race!

  • Mark Webb – (OA: 5:15:35; 31:40swim/2:55:36bike/1:44:42run) A super race preping for Ironman Couer D’Alene!
  • Genevieve Priebe – (OA: 7:32:38; 41:32swim/3:51:39bike/2:46:52run) Her first triathlon ever and tackled a half iron!

5/1: Mt. Rainier Duathlon, Enumclaw WA.
A short course or long course option duathlon of super challenging porportions in the name of a huge climb called Mud Mtn. Dam in which the long course participants had to tackle twice!

Short course: (1.6mile run/14.4mile bike/3.8mile run)

  • Karen Jones – (OA: 1:42:30; 13:38run/52:03bike/32:55run) Getting the first race jitters our before HONU 70.3!
  • Bri Cooper – (OA: 1:39:47; 13:16run/51:14bike/33:13run) Super effort all around!
  • Teresa Engrave – (OA: 1:50:25; 13:37run/56:16bike/36:15run) Nice and solid race!

Long course: (5.1mile run/28.8mile bike/3.8mile run)

  • Vicki Boivin – (OA: 2:34:06; 37:10run/1:29:19bike/25:32run) 2nd overall female!
  • Amanda Camp – (OA: 3:19:35; 47:36run/1:51:32bike/36:15run) Pushed it till the end!
  • Tom Camp – (OA: 3:02:41; 41:13run/1:46:13bike/32:32run) Shaved 8+min off of his time from last year!
  • Ann Sloan – (OA: 3:28:08; 53:20run/1:52:15bike/38:20run) CDA Ironman watch out!
  • Bridget Jones – (OA: 2:36:09; 37:28run/1:29:19bike/27:23run) 3rd overall female!

5/1: Vancouver Half and Full Marathon, Vancouver Canada
A beautiful and scenic half marathon through the city and Stanley Park!

Half:

  • David Landers – (1:47:32) A personal best on a “fun” training run, not bad!

Full:

  • Patricia Nakamura – (4:05:06) A super effort gearing up for Ironman Canada later this summer.

5/1: Eugene Half Marathon, Eugene OR:
A fast and fun course!

  • Elizabeth Martin – (1:39:42) A fantastic result and a personal best!

5/1: Tacoma City Half Marathon:
A scenic city run with great support and cheer!

  • Chuck Cathey – (1:41:54) A stellar run that landed him 3rd in his division!

If you see any of these athletes roaming around the club feel free to give them a big high-five for their awesome efforts!

If you are interested in learning more about what the SAC has to offer in both multisport racing and running, please contact: Running Coach Bridget Jones-Cressmen

Running in Rome with Doug Haldeman

When I started running seriously several years ago, I never dreamed I’d get hooked on marathons – let alone in foreign countries! Yet there I was, lined up at the start of the Rome Marathon on March 20, feeling that strange mix of pre-race excitement and anxiety. To say that this wasn’t on my screen a few years ago is an understatement: I was happy, at first, just to make it the 2.8 miles around Green Lake in a half an hour.

But the more I ran, the more I wanted to run. I’d never been athletic as a younger man, but lo and behold, at almost 60 – discovered that there was an “inner jock” inside the whole time, just waiting for me to give him the chance to run free. At first, I set my sights on a 10-k; then a Half Marathon. And another. Before long, I was wondering: could I actually complete a whole marathon?

The first one (Vancouver) wasn’t pretty, as I followed someone off-course for two miles and ended up running 28 miles, collapsing in a heap at the finish. Since then, however, my times have improved (I won’t even tell you where I started, but I had a PR in Rome of 4:47) due to two things: great training and determination, or “pure stubbornness”.

I credit my first trainer, Jared Weigand, and my first running coach and mentor, Tim Koffler, with sparking my interest, and helping me find a deep belief in myself. I currently work with Joel Mitchell, who has kept me on track (pun intended) to improve my times by improving my conditioning. I like my training regimen; it’s the time I spend with myself, lost in my own thoughts, listening to music, or just enjoying the scenery. Joel has structured it so that I can improve my times and my endurance – very important in long-distance running. Could I do it on my own? Yes, but not with the results I’m getting with a trainer.

Rome was the race of a lifetime a sunny day with big puffy clouds and ideal temperature, and a cooling breeze. The race takes you through a different era in human history every mile. From the Colloseum to the monument honoring the unification of Italy to the Vatican to the touristed areas of the Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain, this race has a beautiful course and gentle, forgiving changes in elevation. The race motto was “start your dreams”. And I say, once you start, keep them going!