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JackRabbit Journal Training

8 REASONS YOU SHOULD HIRE A RUNNING COACH

8 Reasons to Hire a Running Coach - JackRabbit

Welcome to the JackRabbit Journal, a digital (for now!) publication where we’ll be taking some deeper dives into what it means to be a runner, how to support your running lifestyle and exclusive interviews with runners from all walks of life.

This week, let’s talk running coaches with our resident journalist, Brian Metzler.

RUNNING COACHING FOR THE EVERYDAY ATHLETE

Do you have a running coach?

You’re a runner, which means you’re an athlete. And it’s well-known that athletes in all sports benefit from having coaches guide them to better performance. So yes, if you’re a recreational runner of any ability level, you should consider hiring a running coach to assist you on your journey.

No matter how long you’ve been running or how fast you want to run at your next race, hiring a running coach can be a huge benefit on the way to achieving your 2021 goals. You might be a first-time marathoner or an experienced trail runner or someone who wants to improve your personal best in the half marathon.

In any of those cases, a running coach can provide you with assistance in ways you might not expect — for example, assigning proper workouts, avoiding injuries, reducing stress, providing day-to-day support and assuring your body is optimally recovering. 

We checked in with Kristen Mohror of Microcosm Coaching, Jason Fitzgerald of StrengthRunning.com and Yassine Diboun of Wy’east Wolfpack for their input about some of the reasons you should consider hiring a running coach.

1. BEGINNERS AND LIFELONG RUNNERS ALIKE

You might be a new runner or a novice runner and are wondering if any of this applies to you. Should you get a coach if you’re just starting out? You can certainly benefit immensely if you do and avoid first-timer mistakes and challenges. If you were new to golf or tennis or skiing, you’d very likely considering taking lessons to get started, right?

Think of a running coach in the same way and you’ll be able to get through some of the unforeseen challenges that no one talks about when you buy a pair of running shoes or sign up for a race. At the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve been running for years and have reached a plateau in your training or just haven’t reached the goals you have hoped to, then you should definitely connect with a coach for your upcoming running objectives.

Sometimes as runners we tend to get complacent or are adverse to making changes or are afraid to try new things. “And those are the things that might be able to make a difference in your training,” Diboun says.

2. WEEKLY GUIDANCE

Why hire a running coach? “Because a running coach can help you reach your goals better than you’re able to on your own,” Mohror says. “They can assist you and guide you with workouts, advice and things can come up.” Unless you’re a veteran runner who’s been training for years — and heck, even if you are — a running coach can help you smartly build your fitness, inspire you to train to your fullest, keep you motivated during difficult lulls and help you avoid overtraining. Y

ou might think training for a marathon is a tall order — and it is! — but having a coach guide you can take some of the pressure off, especially on a long-term basis. The guidance and training plan you get from a coach can help turn your long-term goal into short-term tasks that can be approached day by day, piece by piece.

3. RUNNING SMARTS

Hiring an experienced running coach will allow you to benefit from his or her experience. Those coaches have been through all sorts of scenarios in their own training, but also with the many runners they have already coached. That coach understands they type of workouts and mileage you should be running in your fitness build-up and can adjust for your own personal needs as injuries, fatigue or work stress impedes your training.

Without a coach, you’ll likely do your own types of runs and workouts based on whatever you feel like doing or based on what your friends are doing or, gulp!, based on workouts you read about on your social media feed. “An experienced coach knows what works and how to adapt workouts to your personal fitness and abilities,” Fitzgerald says. “That’s so much more effective than a trial-and-error approach on your own.”

4. INDIVIDUALIZED TRAINING

How much you spend per month and what you get out of the coach you hire depends on the level of service you want or need. Generally speaking you might pay as little as $20 and as much as $250 per month for a coach. (Or you can pay even more for truly personalized training if you have the budget for that.)

At the more affordable end of that spectrum, you’ll get training plans and coaching input that’s generally geared toward a group or a specific goal race (for example, the Chicago Marathon) in somewhat of a one-size-fits-all approach with a limited ability to reach out to that coach with questions. 

But if you’re paying slightly more every month, you should be able to get more individualized coaching that includes weekly adjustments and adaptations based on your fitness or fatigue levels and the ability to have direct interaction with that coach (even if it is by email). The best way to ensure you’ll get personalized coaching and some sort of individualized attention is to hire a coach in your region that has a training group you can run with on a semi-regular basis.

Having a coach watch you go through workouts and the ability to engage face-to-face can provide numerous benefits. Going with a local coach instead of an online coach shouldn’t necessarily increase the fees you’re paying.

HOKA Mach 4 Review

5. ACCOUNTABILITY

When you’re training for a big goal like a marathon, you sometimes need an extra bit of accountability to keep you focused and motivated. When you’re training on your own or even with friends, it can be relatively easy to inadvertently reduce hard workouts or shorten a long run without any recourse.

But when you hire a coach, you give yourself an extra layer of accountability. Sometimes it’s necessary to adapt workouts (and a coach can help you do that), but hiring a coach can create a certain pride and accountability tied to following a training plan.

It’s natural that sometimes you might wake up feeling unmotivated or perhaps you’re having a hard work day or traveling. “Having a coach to report to and a training plan to follow can help you get through those challenges,” Mohror says. “I tell all of my athletes, ‘I’m here to help, support and keep you going!’”

6. IMPROVING PERFORMANCE

If your goal is to break 3 hours in the marathon or run a sub-40 minute 10K or qualify for the Boston Marathon, a running coach can help immensely, Mohror says. Not only can the coach provide a good training plan that provides both long-term and short-term development markers, but he or she should be able to guide you to a proper training vs recovery balance, she says.

Having a coach will keep you in check from working out too hard too often and overtraining with too much volume. But a running coach will also make sure you rest and recover so the proper training effect can take place. Your muscular, cardiovascular and neurological system adapt to training during rest when your body is recovering, Diboun says.

The continued stress of training without proper rest breaks will lead to overtraining, fatigue, illness and injury, he adds. “There’s a basic equation for growth, whether you’re an athlete, artist, or businessperson, etc., and that’s Stress + Rest = Growth,” he says. “I like to take on challenges and make myself uncomfortable (stress), and then follow those challenges with recovery & reflection (rest). Then rinse & repeat, with a slightly greater or different challenge or goal.”

7. REDUCING INJURY RISK

As runners, we often keep on running despite small bouts of soreness or pain. While sometimes that’s OK, sometimes it’s not, Fitzgerald says. And when it’s not, it can lead to serious, long-term injury.

Having a coach to talk to about those bits of soreness or pain can be helpful to understand how to proceed. Should you keep running? Should you see a physical therapist? Are there additional things you can do — for example, icing, stretching, cross-training — to help keep a serious injury at bay? How do you know when and what to do? Those are all things your coach can advise you about to keep you as healthy as possible. 

Overuse injuries are common for runners but often they can be avoided or reduced in scope and intensity. A coach isn’t meant to be a doctor or medical professional, but their experience and understanding of running injuries can be a valuable resource, Mohror says. Sometimes it might just come down to taking more rest and seeing how your body reacts in a few days.

A good coach will sometimes have a better long-term perspective than an athlete because it’s not vexed by the eagerness to reach goals, she says. Avoiding those injuries and staying healthy is a key factor in the ability to make it through your training plan to the starting line of your goal race. “The ability to understand what a runner is going through during any given week is one of the key benefits of having a coach,” Fitzgerald says. 

8. RACE-DAY PREPARATIONS

Are you already nervous about the race that you just signed up for, even though it’s still months away? That’s normal, no matter if it’s a 10K, marathon or an ultramarathon like a 50-mile trail race, Diboun says. The ability to manage that stress and excitement is important as you start to train toward that goal, he says.

If you hire a coach who has a lot of races under his or her belt, you’ll be able to benefit from their personal experiences and reduce the stresses of race weekend. Getting tips and insights about tapering, rest, travel, nutrition and preparation will go a long way to achieving your racing success, Diboun says.

Even if you’ve been through the motions before and have run several half marathons or marathons, having a coach serve up those reminders can be a huge benefit. (The nerves and excitement of race weekend often cloud our thinking!) Most of all, having your coach help you develop a smart race strategy appropriate to your level of fitness and expected race-day conditions will be enormously helpful.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - trail running
Categories
Reviews Running Gear Training

BEST RUNNING SHOES FOR MARATHONS

Best shoes for marathon running

Brian Metzler rounds up the best of the best for your virtual race months.

There still aren’t many races in the U.S., but they’ll be back! However, you can still create your own opportunities to run fast on your own — either through virtual races, personal time trials or simulated race efforts with your running pals.

To run your fastest, you’ll need a lightweight, speedy pair of shoes. Here are five of the best shoes in a variety of price categories that will keep you on pace for fast times and inspiring new goals for 2021.

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Hoka Carbon X 2 Review 2021

HOKA CARBON X 2

The HOKA Carbon X returns after the successful first edition won races and set records. It proved itself among the best of the initial crop of long-distance racing shoes built with carbon-fiber plates embedded in thick, cushy midsoles.

The Carbon X 2 is a maximally cushioned neutral-oriented speed shoe. It has a staunchly rocker profile and an energetic vibe that promotes fast-cadence running ready for race day and tempo runs ahead.

Read our full review of the Carbon X 2 here.

Weights: 8.5 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.4 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (39 mm heel, 34 mm forefoot)

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BROOKS LAUNCH 8

A $100 running shoe? For racing a half marathon or marathon? Is that a mistake? Heck no! The Brooks Launch 8 is an energetic and well-cushioned shoe that also comes with an affordable price tag. With a relatively light and snappy demeanor, the Launch is somewhat of a unique ‘tweener. It falls between the category of performance trainers and the wide range of high-mileage trainers that are about a full ounce lighter. But if your race goals are modest or just want to complete a 10K, half marathon or marathon at your own goal pace, this can be an ideal shoe is for you.

Plus, it can also double as an affordable, do-everything trainer shoe that’s versatile enough to endure long runs and also quick enough to run faster, shorter workouts like tempo runs, fartlek runs and track intervals.

Weights: 9.2 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (26mm heel, 16mm forefoot)

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HOKA Rincon 2 - Marathon

HOKA ONE ONE RINCON 2

$115 While Hoka One One’s Carbon X is an exceptional long-distance racing shoe, we’ve chosen to focus on the fast and light Rincon model for this roundup of racing shoes instead.

Why? First, it’s a great shoe for running fast over all distances from 5K to the marathon. It’s also because it’s much more affordable too. The Rincon 2 is unfettered and fast, but it still has a lot of cushioning in every stride thanks to the full-compression EVA midsole.

The Rincon doesn’t feel like a stripped-down racing flat, but the soft, smooth and energetic demeanor allows it to perform like one when you want it to. It’s light and fast enough to be an energetic performance trainer for fast workouts. It also enough cushion and protection to be a long-run shoe or even an everyday trainer.

Weights: 7.7 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (men: 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot; women: 26mm heel, 21mm forefoot)

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New Balance 860v8

NEW BALANCE 890V8

$120: New Balance has several racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates embedded in their midsoles. But the 890 is the brand’s tried and true featherweight performance-oriented trainer/racer. It has always been known for its light, agile and very energetic vibe.

The New Balance 890 has been overhauled in recent years. It now includes a high-rebound FuelCell midsole, a supportive yet comfortable knit upper and a gusseted tongue for a snug, race-day fit. It has a semi-firm feel and a slightly lower to the ground geometry. This gives it excellent feel-for-the-ground proprioception and a lively feel in every stride. The 890 is fast, light, versatile and capable of taking you race-day goals. Even if your race is a virtual event or your own personal time trial!

Weights: 8.4 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (25mm heel, 19mm forefoot)

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Saucony Endorphin Pro - Men's Style

SAUCONY ENDORPHIN PRO

$200: The Saucony Endorphin Pro is a top-tier long-distance racing shoe. It features a carbon-fiber plate embedded in a soft, very resilient midsole foam. It debuted on the feet of Saucony pros at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in February in Atlanta, including women’s second-place finisher Molly Seidel. It represents the best of Saucony’s engineering and design efforts. It’s built on SpeedRoll technology, a forward-leaning geometry that propels you forward. It has a feeling of continuous momentum, so you can run faster and more efficiently without running harder. It feels light, firm, energetic, efficient and smooth, especially at faster speeds.

Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot)

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Nike Tempo NEXT%

NIKE AIR ZOOM TEMPO NEXT%

$200: The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% mixes durability with a design that helps push to a personal best. The result is a shoe built like a racer, but made for your everyday training routine.

Nike ZoomX foam in the footbed delivers energy return as you move forward. A visible Zoom Air unit provides responsive cushioning, giving you an additional spring with your stride.

The rubber outsole features a design created using data from hundreds of runners. That information helps place traction where your foot needs it most, giving you grip on multiple surfaces.

Weights: 9.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (46mm heel, 36mm forefoot)

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maurten sports nutrition

FUELING MARATHON RUNS: MAURTEN NUTRITION

Maurten sports fuel is easier to tolerate for athletes. The pioneering sports-fuel company has found a way to encapsulate high concentrations of carbohydrates in hydrogels.

Anyone who has experienced ‘gastric distress’ due to excess sugar in an endurance event will know nutrition is key to how a race will unfold.

Incidentally, the winners of the last twenty major marathons have all grabbed a Maurten bottle at on-course drinks stations. Think they might be on to something? With the mantra, never try anything new on race day, pick up some Maurten hydrogels and sports drink mix and give them a try during training.

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Categories
Brands Reviews Training

UNDERSTANDING NEUTRAL VS. STABILITY RUNNING SHOES

Neutral and Stability Running Shoes

WHAT TYPE OF RUNNING SHOE YOU NEED?

There’s been a tidal change in the running shoe world in recent years, with a major shift from stability running shoes designed to control your feet to shoes that let your feet move more naturally and uninhibitedly.

Statistically speaking, we’ve gone from 70 to 75 percent of runners wearing some kind of stability running shoe for training and racing less than 10 years ago to about 70 to 75 percent wearing neutral shoes in 2019.

Why such a drastic change? What is best for you? And how do you know how to find the right shoes for you?

Stability and Neutral Running Shoes

HOW DO NEUTRAL AND STABILITY RUNNING SHOES FUNCTION?

First things first: Whereas neutral shoes have no stabilizing features, but instead allow the foot to flex and move without any guidance, stability shoes and motion-control shoes are designed to help offset excessive pronation, or the inward rolling of a runner’s feet after impact with the ground.

Every runner naturally pronates to some degree and that’s OK, but excessive pronation can lead to common overuse injuries like Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome, and patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee).

While the minimalist revolution of the early 2000s led to many shoes with little or no cushioning or protection, it also cued shoe brands and their designers to build both neutral shoes and mild stability shoes with slightly fewer guidance features that are lighter, more nimble, and more flexible—ultimately shoes that allow feet to move more freely and naturally through the gait cycle.

The advent of mild stability shoes helped melt away the old-school belief about the need for rigid control in running shoes, and as a result, the motion control category — maximum support/stability shoes that greatly limit how a foot moves while running — has become almost non-existent and stability shoes have become less domineering to a runner’s stride. And generally speaking, those changes have been a good thing.

“For years, the running shoe industry was focused on building shoes that control how a foot moves and limit how a foot moves,” says physical therapist Jay Dicharry, MPT, director of the REP Lab in Bend, Oregon, and a leading biomechanist, running gait expert and shoe company consultant. “Fortunately, we’ve gotten away from that. The more we can stop using words like stopping and limiting and controlling when it comes to running shoes, the better off we’ll be. Wearing shoes that allow the feet to move and flex naturally is the best starting point for most runners.”

But, Dicharry says, some recreational runners do need more support in their shoes than others, either by way of mild stability shoes or neutral shoes with after-market insoles that offer enhanced stability. And, he says, most runners can benefit from a bit of stability in the later miles of a long run or a marathon when the muscles in the feet and lower legs fatigue and can’t continue to maintain good running form.

Saucony Guide - Stability

BEST STABILITY SHOES FOR RUNNERS

Some of the best mild stability shoes for runners include:

Brooks Glycerin 19 - Neutral Running Shoe

BEST NEUTRAL SHOES FOR RUNNERS

Some of the best neutral running shoes include the following:

Do you need a stability or neutral running shoe

DO YOU NEED A NEUTRAL OR STABILITY RUNNING SHOE?

So how do you know what’s best for you? And how can you find the right shoe for you?

Start by visiting your friendly neighborhood JackRabbit running store and work with an expert shoe-fitter to understand your gait. (Your running gait is the distinctive way your body moves as you run—especially between your feet and your hips. It’s entirely unique to you based on your anatomy, almost like a fingerprint of your running stride.) If that’s not an option, you might get help from a running-oriented physical therapist who can help decipher how your body moves.

“Everyone has their own individual running form,” says David Gettis, the store manager for JackRabbit’s Hoboken, N.J., store. “The best way to prescribe shoes for someone is to understand what their running gait is all about. Often we’ll perform a gait analysis to see what’s happening with a runner’s foot strike and what the degree of pronation of their foot is as it rolls through the gait cycle. If a runner is an overpronator, we generally try to put them into mild stability shoes to help offset that.”

You can also have a friend use a smartphone to video your stride while running, either on a flat surface or a treadmill and play it back in slow motion. When you’re watching the playback, look to see if your feet and knees are tracking straight ahead or excessively rotating inward (or rubbing) when you run. If there is noticeable inward rotation, you’re probably overpronating to some degree when you run and could benefit from stability shoes.

Other telltale signs of needing stability shoes include an excessive wear pattern on the inside (or medial) edge of the bottom of your current running shoes. If that side is considerably more worn than the outside (or lateral) edge, it’s probably a sign that you’re overpronating and need stability shoes.

Lastly, the age-old “wet test” can also be helpful, although not as decisive as it was once thought. Lay a clean piece of cardboard or kraft paper (from a grocery bag) flat on the ground and then wet your feet and step onto the paper and bend your knees and sink into a partially squat before stepping off.

This low-tech test will determine if you have a high, medium, or low arch and generally, but not always, people with lower arches need stability shoes.

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Categories
Gifts for Runners Training

GIFT GUIDE: TOP CROSS TRAINING GEAR

When you don’t want to run, switching up your routine with cross-training helps to keep you active. This year for the holidays, pivot and try different things when it’s too cold for a run or other outdoor sports.

For a wide selection of ideas for the essentials for cross training, we asked our UX Designer, Destini. She loves lifting weights and trying different things in her active lifestyle – from powerlifting to triathlon, she’s done it all.

Destini the Cross Trainer

ESSENTIAL FACE COVERING

If you’re going back to the gym this season, Most places are requiring a face covering. With my weight training wearing a mask was very difficult for me, especially during my lower-body days. Finally, I found a face-covering that didn’t tire me. 

My recommendation is the JackRabbit Bunny Chute ($15). It’s lightweight, breathable, and can wear in many ways. 

Bunny Shoot
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TECHNICAL HOODIE 

In the winter, I love a transitional piece to be able to layer up and take off in the gym. When I leave the gym body is still hot from my work out, I prefer outerwear that’s not too heavy or too light. It’s soft, versatile, and great for the gym. I would recommend going to your local store because I found more colors and size options. 

My recommendation is Women’s Vuori Performace Hoodie ($90).

Cross Training Hoodie
VUORI PERFORMANCE HOODIE

ATHLETIC TANK

No matter what you are doing, a good tank is great for any workout. I prefer a looser tank so I can maximize my range of motion during workouts.

My recommendation is Nike Yoga Luxe Tank ($45). It’s highly breathable with great iconic Nike material. 

Women's athletic tank
NIKE LUXE TANK

RESISTANCE BANDS

During quarantine, I kept up my strength training by using resistance bands and hiking outdoors. They are great for when I don’t want to get into the gym but still want to get a pump in. I found the Adday Resistance Bands in the store. 

My online recommendations are the JackRabbit Pro-Tec Resistance Band ($15) & Nike Resistance Band Light ($18).  Having these two sets allows you to perform various exercises at home or the gym. 

Exercise Bands

CROSS TRAINING SHOES

Often, I see people lifting weights in cushioned shoes. I can’t help but cringe. A flat base gives you more stability to push off of the ground when your performing squat, lunges, and deadlifts in particular. The largest barrier for someone getting flat shoes is comfort.

I find the Reebok Nano X ($130) to be a very well rounded cross-training shoe. It’s a cushioned flat sole training shoe that can transition from the gym, cross-training, and light running. I love using it for workout days when I am squatting, deadlifting, and doing overhead presses. 

Cross Training Reebok Nano X
Categories
Gifts for Runners Trail Running Training

GIFT GUIDE: NUTRITION FOR RUNNERS

If there is something all runners have in common, it’s that we could do a little better pre-, during- and post-run nutrition.

This year for the holidays, help yourself and the runner in your life stay on top of their nutrition game with these easy items.

Ultra-runner Laura knows a thing or two about the how prep, fuel and recover from a run. Ready on to learn her best nutrition offerings available at JackRabbit to fuel your next adventure.

laura cortez - fuel the run

PRE-RUN NUTRITION

There’s about a 50/50 split between runners who eat before every run and those who can’t fathom the thought.

Which camp do you lie in?

Picky Oats

Pre-run-food lovers

Eat now, thank us later. The Picky Oats Performance Oatmeal has some of the cleanest ingredients around and contains the perfect amount of carbs, sugar and protein to make every run just that much better. Plus, these are made with beets which studies have shown to potentially help running performance over a period of time.

Waffles

I-refuse-to-eat-before runs, runners

If you don’t like stoopwafels, you probably just haven’t had one yet. These Honey Stinger Waffles are the perfect size for any stomach.

Trying to procrastinate your run? Pro tip: warm this sucker up over the stove or coffee.

DURING-RUN NUTRITION

Virtual raise of hands for those who eat during their runs. Hardly any? That’s what we thought.

After about 90 minutes your body becomes more or less depleted and needs additional sugars and energy to remain efficient.

Choose your nutrition below:

Gu Gel

Gels: For those who just want the nutrition to be over with. GU Energy Gels are a runner’s staple with the variety of flavors and calories to meet your needs. A JackRabbit fave flavor? Lemon Ginger GU

Honey Stinger Energy Chews

Snack: For those who want to take their time or maybe munch over a longer period of time, try these Honey Stinger Energy Chews. They’re like gushers but for running and minus the gel filling.

POST-RUN NUTRITION

After running, there’s about an hour long recovery window to get the nutrients your body needs at a rate that is most effective.

Ideally, your body will be taking in carbs and proteins within an hour after your workout.

Cracker Bar

Snack: Try the Honey Stinger Organic Cracker Bar – packed with tons of flavor and organic ingredients, it’s the ideal pick-me-up.

Skratch Recovery Mix

Recovery drink: Get all the protein and carbs in one delicious drink. The Skratch Labs Sport Recovery Drink has been a go-to drink for us after long runs and hard workouts.

DAILY NUTRITION

Consistent nutrition and hydration intake during the day is also essential to being at the top of your running game. UCAN has a great Hydrate Electrolyte Mix that’s easy to drink throughout the day.

UCAN

Runners, we’re just scratching the surface here. There are myriad other ways to get your calories and your recovery on at JackRabbit. We’ve spent years mixing, chomping, chewing and digesting (yes, the latter is probably the most important of all) many different types of sports nutrition for all types of adventures.

Check out all the running nutrition options at our virtual ‘Nutrition Kitchen’ at JackRabbit.com.

SHOP ALL RUNNING NUTRITION AT JACKRABBIT
Categories
Injury Prevention / Health Clinics Pilates, Yoga & More Training

YOGA FOR RUNNERS: FOCUS ON FEET

How yoga is beneficial for your runner’s feet

Most of us know the ancient practice of yoga has myriad benefits for the body, mind and spirit.  Add to that, yoga offers some serious perks for runners, like improving flexibility and helping with recovery from long runs.

Adding a simple yoga routine to your weekly training regime tailored specifically to the biomechanics of running and the stresses put on a runner’s body, can have beneficial impact.  The pluses are aiding recovery and prevention of strains and muscle fatigue in the long run.

Many runners (myself included) are quick to state the lack of time to fit in a yoga session to our already busy lives.  We’ve drawn upon the knowledge of JackRabbit team member and yoga instructor Vincent Gerbino, to share his tips on a few yoga poses any time-crunched athlete can fit into their day for maximum benefits.

This session, we focus on an area special to all runners – feet.  They support us and take much of the running load.  They can be prone to ailments such as plantar fasciitis, tightness and general aches and pains.

Read on to learn three key yoga poses for feet easy to incorporate into your day to keep your feet stretched and importantly build strength.

3 YOGA POSES FOR FEET

(and preventing plantar fasciitis)

Yoga Instructor, Vincent Gerbino

‘These are poses familiar to anyone who attends my yoga classes. A little yoga each day goes a long way in terms of strengthening your body and bringing you to amore blissful every-day state. You’ll need to be barefoot to reap true benefits of these poses, plus, doing so will help you have better connection and control on your feet when your running shoes are on.

It is best to use a yoga mat, mostly for safety’s sake and to get good grip to hold the positions for Fist Lunges and Fist Toes pose. Toes stands can be done wherever you have a stable & hard flat surface.’

Yoga for Runners - Lunge pose

LUNGE POSE

Lunge Pose: Start with the lunge, at it activates the whole leg, from the hip socket down to the ankle and foot. Start out standing at the top of your mat (known in yoga as Mountain pose).

Drop the hands to the floor and stabilize them under your shoulders, bring your weight to your right foot and step your left foot straight back. Keep right knee directly above right ankle. Dig the ball of your left foot gently but firmly into the mat, so that you are pushing down behind the big toe.

Let the toes spread and push down behind each of the smaller toes. Hold the lunge for at least 20 seconds. Step back to the top of your mat and repeat the exercise on the other side.

Yoga for Runners - Fist Toes Pose

FIST TOES POSE

Fist Toes Pose:  Start out standing at the top of your mat. Drop the hands to the floor and stabilize them under your shoulders. Step left foot back and then the right foot to make a right angle with your legs and your torso (known in yoga as Downward Dog pose).

Feet should be hip-width apart and hands shoulder width apart. Flatten the back and align arms with the torso. Flip the feet and make fists with your toes; toe knuckles will dig down into the mat as the tops of the feet and fronts of the shin stretch.

This pose takes some getting used, to start with short intervals, not holding the pose for more than ten seconds. Repeat three or four times. At you get used to the mechanics of the pose, lengthen the intervals to 20 seconds.

Yoga for Runners - Toe Stands

TOE STANDS

Toe Stands: Toe stands can be done in stationary fashion, or you can also walk aroundSimply stand and then raise your heels off the ground.

Push down behind your big toe and let the toes spread enough so that you feel stable pressure behind each of the smaller toes as well, and don’t let the ankles roll in or out.

You can do longer stints for toe stands as this movement flows the pattern of normal plantar flexion, the motion we do when walking and running. You can walk around the house or hold the pose in one place. Make sure you remain connected to how the movement feels if you are walking around.

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Categories
Interviews Reviews Training

RUNNING A VIRTUAL MARATHON & THE BEST SHOES TO DO IT

Virtual Boston is in the books for 2020. With in-person marathons out, runners all over the world have been encouraged and inspired to run their virtual marathon anyway.

This month we checked in with two runners from Colorado who chose to run their ‘Bostons’ in two very different places.

Meet Kara Diamond-Husmann, who ran her race up Vail Pass in Colorado (ok, she’s is also an ultrarunner!) and Jess Gillman, who ran a fast, flat race to celebrate what would have been her very first Boston.

Go forth on your own virtual marathons and races, and celebrate the journey. As theses ladies clearly demonstrate, 2020 is all about the journey.

Kara - Virtual Marathon in Vail
Running Vail Pass as the ‘Boston Marathon’

KARA RUNS ‘BOSTON’ IN VAIL, COLORADO

by Kara Diamond Husmann

Boston Marathon holds a special place in my heart! My first Boston Marathon was in 2007 during the infamous Noreasterner. I’m usually a one and done on race courses; I want to race so many places. But, after the Boston bombings I decided I’d run the Boston Marathon every year after and nothing has stopped me from running it even a tibial stress fracture one year. There was no way I was going to let Covid-19 stop me!

Planning for the virtual marathon I knew no PR’s were going to happen, so I designed my course in a town that holds a special place in my heart, Vail, Colorado.

I love the trails, but there was a 6 hour time limit to get a medal, so I knew I needed mostly road. But, I wanted to climb; I love hills! All my life I’ve passed the Vail pass bike route, so I thought this was the place to set my marathon route. Add to that I’ve always wanted to hike Shrine Trail Ridge at the top, so, because I was in charge, I incorporated that in my route too!

On the drive up to Vail, I actually started to get some pre-race jitters. As we drove by the virtual marathon course I mapped out, I was thinking, ‘What? This is steep!’ The elevation of the run starts at 8,700 feet and climbs to 11,900 feet. And, then I’d need to run it all the way back down and I know what downhill running does to the body.

PRE-RACE VIRTUAL MARATHON

The night before we pretended we were having dinner in the North End of Boston and made pizzas for authentic race preparation.

I packed all my nutrition GUs, Cliff Bar, Shot Blocks and 4 water bottles for the run since there would be no aid stations on this course. I’d also have to carry the clothes I start out with in the morning. Mountain morning air is chilly and there’s no throwing clothes on course when it’s your own route.

In the morning, I ate breakfast and gathered my gear and some signs I made for myself to carry. With my Bib number in hand, I drove off to my unofficial ‘Boston’ start line! The beauty of my start was an empty Porta-Potty line, I went to the bathroom and visualized being in Hopkinton walking to the start from Athletes Village.

I set my watch and off I went. No fanfare, just a beep.

The first mile I was uncomfortable and my breathing was off from being at 8,700 feet and a steep climb right away. I imagined myself at mile 1 in Boston and pretended to see the crowds lining Hopkinton and running down that steep hill instead of the climb. The miles ticked away and I fueled exactly like I do in real marathons and drank at miles I stop at aid stations.

At mile 9 I reached the top of Vail Pass at 10,600ft. I felt good. But mile 10 I started to feel the altitude and thought I have 1,300 feet more climbing to do before I reach the ‘WELLSLEY girls.’

I took my mind off the climb and looked around thinking how lucky I am to be in this beautiful place. Once I hit a two-mile single track I started seeing people out on a short hike. It gave me energy seeing people. They’d say nice things and I’d think to myself, do they know I ran from Vail Village up here!

Kara - Boston Marathon in Vail
Kara with the ‘Wellesley Girls’ on the top of Vail Pass

Being a self-supported race seeing people was a huge mental boost. By mile 13.1 I was running along Shrine Ridge and it was absolutely beautiful, I could almost hear the WELLSLEY girls offering their support.

The turn around was here and it was all down hill. Ouch! I took in a Cliff Bar; my stomach was churning from the GUs and needing some solid food. The run down was a mental game and I kept putting myself on Boston’s course to keep me running. Bikers would fly by and cheer me on; it gave me a motivational boost!

With one mile to go, I saw the Citgo sign in my head and could hear the crowds cheering as I ran in. Visualizing turning on Boylston and hearing the cheers I kicked it up a notch and sprinted to my car and stopped my watch!

I was on cloud nine!

I felt good and drove back to my condo where my daughters decorated the place. We celebrated the day pretending we were in back in Boston. I even put on my celebratory jacket and walked around Vail Village. A few people stopped to congratulate me and even a couple said they heard about me running on the pass earlier in the day running 26.2 miles and thought it was a CRAZY RUN!

I loved the day and another – albeit solo – Boston Marathon in the books.

Every Boston Marathon really does have a special story, and this one will stay with me forever.

Jess - Highline Canal
Jess with her ‘rabbits’

JESS RUNS ‘BOSTON’ ON THE HIGHLINE CANAL TRAIL, COLORADO

I think what pushed me to do a marathon on my own steam was the fact that I had essentially been training for the Boston Marathon since November of last year.  I’d put in so many long runs, hill repeats, strength training days to help me take on Boston in April of 2020 and the thought of letting all the preparation go to waste made me really sad to think about. 

As we all know, marathon training is no easy thing. It takes time and dedication in order to run a successful marathon and I for one was not going to let it being cancelled stop me from seeing what I could do on virtual race day!

Being from Colorado, we are really lucky that we have a ton of amazing paths we can run for miles and miles! I had several options leading up to my race day but ultimately decided to run a route where I knew other people would be on that morning.  Because we had to start so early (5:00 am) I wanted a route that would be pretty popular in case of an emergency.  Sadly, being a female runner we always have to think about our safety when we are running in the dark and also being in Colorado, we have to worry about the possibility of wildlife chasing us – which incidentally did happen on the ‘race’ at mile 9!

There was an awesome group putting on a small race called “Boston not Boston” so we used their course for the most part which made it easier because they mapped out where the restrooms were on the route in case they were needed and also trouble spots where traffic may be crossing.  I am very appreciative of this group for doing a lot of the dirty work for me! 

Jess Boston Marathon in Colorado
A ‘Boston’ race day jacket is just as sweet

RACE DAY AND RACE PREP

Did I have to dig deep for this virtual marathon?

For the race itself, no! For the training leading up to the race 100% yes. 

I remember being on some long runs in the summer heat thinking to myself, “Why are you doing this? You could be sleeping in or heading to the pool versus running 19 miles”. This is when I had to dig and really think about what I wanted and why I wanted to do this race. 

For the actual race, it was such a build up to that point for myself that I was ready. I had no goals in mind for time, no thoughts on outcome only that I wanted to be with my friends, talk, laugh and hopefully sit on a pace that felt comfortable so that I could run and coach my sons 3 year old soccer practice immediately after. 

I think when you have been working up to something for so long as an athlete, when it comes to game day you know you are prepared because you trained, you know you can run that race because mentally I had run that race over and over again! 

Mentally I was beyond prepared for this day, that moment!

SUPPORT CREW FOR A VIRTUAL MARATHON

My run crew came and ran with me! Holly and Emerald had been with me from the start of this road to Boston.  Both are former Boston Marathoners themselves (2007 and 2009) so they knew how magical this race is suppose to be. They wanted to do everything in their power to make this special for me even though we were not in Boston. 

Holly had planned to run the first half with me and Emerald was going to run the last half. Holly being Holly decided at about half way that she felt good and was going to keep going, she ended up running all 26.2 miles with me. 

Emerald is the gazelle in the group and she met us half way with nutrition and Advil! She kept us on pace and even doubled back because I was having an issue with my hydration pack rubbing my shoulder raw!

Both of these girls selflessly helped me achieve my goal and they did it with a smile on their face! To them I am immensely grateful and I hope others have such an amazing community of friends that can help support them. 

Additionally, a group called Run to Change Lives had set up small cheer zones along the route and so every now and then we would here a shout from someone saying, “Strong ladies, you’ve got this!”

It was small gesture, but felt oh so mighty!

BOSTON 2021?

I plan on applying for the Boston Marathon for 2021 when that application opens.  Until then, I am just running to run and have fun. 

I have unfinished business with Boston Marathon, and so I am determined to run that course and celebrate with 30,000+ runners when it is safe to do so. 

Until then, I am just going to keep on running. 

Best shoes for a virtual mararthon

TOP FIVE MARATHON SHOES IN 2020

Brian Metzler rounds up the best of the best for your virtual race months.

There still aren’t many races in the U.S. this fall. However, you can still create your own opportunities to run fast on your own — either through virtual races, personal time trials or simulated race efforts with your running pals.

To run your fastest, you’ll need a lightweight, speedy pair of shoes. Here are five of the best shoes in a variety of price categories that will keep you on pace for fast times and inspiring new goals for 2021.

Brooks Launch 7 - womens

BROOKS LAUNCH 7

A $100 running shoe? For racing a half marathon or marathon? Is that a mistake? Heck no! The Brooks Launch 7 is an energetic and well-cushioned shoe that also comes with an affordable price tag. With a relatively light and snappy demeanor, the Launch is somewhat of a unique ‘tweener. It falls between the category of performance trainers and the wide range of high-mileage trainers that are about a full ounce lighter. But if your race goals are modest or just want to complete a 10K, half marathon or marathon at your own goal pace, this can be an ideal shoe is for you.

Plus, it can also double as an affordable, do-everything trainer shoe that’s versatile enough to endure long runs and also quick enough to run faster, shorter workouts like tempo runs, fartlek runs and track intervals.

Weights: 9.2 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (26mm heel, 16mm forefoot)

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Hoka Rincon 2 mens

HOKA ONE ONE RINCON 2

$115 While Hoka One One’s Carbon X is an exceptional long-distance racing shoe, we’ve chosen to focus on the fast and light Rincon model for this roundup of racing shoes instead.

Why? First, it’s a great shoe for running fast over all distances from 5K to the marathon. It’s also because it’s much more affordable too. The Rincon 2 is unfettered and fast, but it still has a lot of cushioning in every stride thanks to the full-compression EVA midsole.

The Rincon doesn’t feel like a stripped-down racing flat, but the soft, smooth and energetic demeanor allows it to perform like one when you want it to. It’s light and fast enough to be an energetic performance trainer for fast workouts. It also enough cushion and protection to be a long-run shoe or even an everyday trainer.

Weights: 7.7 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (men: 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot; women: 26mm heel, 21mm forefoot)

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New Balance 860v8

NEW BALANCE 890v8

$120: New Balance has several racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates embedded in their midsoles. But the 890 is the brand’s tried and true featherweight performance-oriented trainer/racer. It has always been known for its light, agile and very energetic vibe.

The New Balance 890 has been overhauled in recent years. It now includes a high-rebound FuelCell midsole, a supportive yet comfortable knit upper and a gusseted tongue for a snug, race-day fit. It has a semi-firm feel and a slightly lower to the ground geometry. This gives it excellent feel-for-the-ground proprioception and a lively feel in every stride. The 890 is fast, light, versatile and capable of taking you race-day goals. Even if your race is a virtual event or your own personal time trial!

Weights: 8.4 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (25mm heel, 19mm forefoot)

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Saucony Endorphin Pro - Men's Style

SAUCONY ENDORPHIN PRO

$200: The Saucony Endorphin Pro is a top-tier long-distance racing shoe. It features a carbon-fiber plate embedded in a soft, very resilient midsole foam. It debuted on the feet of Saucony pros at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in February in Atlanta, including women’s second-place finisher Molly Seidel. It represents the best of Saucony’s engineering and design efforts. It’s built on SpeedRoll technology, a forward-leaning geometry that propels you forward. It has a feeling of continuous momentum, so you can run faster and more efficiently without running harder. It feels light, firm, energetic, efficient and smooth, especially at faster speeds.

Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot)

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Nike Tempo Next %

NIKE AIR ZOOM ALPHAFLY NEXT%

$200: The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% mixes durability with a design that helps push to a personal best. The result is a shoe built like a racer, but made for your everyday training routine.

Nike ZoomX foam in the footbed delivers energy return as you move forward. A visible Zoom Air unit provides responsive cushioning, giving you an additional spring with your stride.

The rubber outsole features a design created using data from hundreds of runners. That information helps place traction where your foot needs it most, giving you grip on multiple surfaces.

Weights: 9.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (46mm heel, 36mm forefoot)

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Categories
Training

RUNNING GUIDE 2021

10 WAYS TO APPROACH YOUR TRAINING FOR A NEW YEAR

Runner and writer Brian Metzler offer his running guide for 2021 with actionable tips you can adopt now to end off 2020 on a better footing.

By Brian Metzler

Good riddance, 2020! We can’t get rid of you soon enough! While there have been plenty of unsettling aspects of 2020 that we’ll never escape, we can go forward with a new attitude and a new approach to the new normal that is emerging.

No matter if you’re a new runner, a marathoner, a trail runner or a triathlete, here are few ways to stay positive and keep your training heading in the right direction until you have a chance to focus on a race in 2021.       

1. Look forward.

OK, let’s face it, 2020 has been a rough year no matter how you slice it. As a runner, it’s time to get over it and move on. When it comes to your training, it pays to always look forward and never look back.

Whatever new normal presents itself in 2021 won’t impact your ability to re-focus and train for something new. Yes, 2020 threw a wrench into everybody’s plans, but with a forward-thinking approach, we can make 2021 whatever we want it to be!

2. Focus on the Process.

Yes, even though there is a lot of unknown, you need to get back to setting goals — a new marathon PR, your first Ironman, completing a 50K trail race. But you won’t get there thinking about uncertainty of what lies ahead, only the success you wish to realize. To get there, focus more on the process than the goals. Focus on being consistent, going through the daily grind of training and keeping on, keeping on. Your fitness will come and, when the opportunity arises, so will your successful race results.

3. Be realistic.

Shoot for the moon when you make your goals. There’s no reason you shouldn’t go after a new PR. But also be realistic. For example, your marathon PR is 3:35 right now, there’s probably not a realistic scenario that you’ll be able to run 3:15. Aim for 3:25 and give it everything you have. If you’ve completed an Ironman in 14 hours, shoot for sub-13. Or if you’re relatively new, start by shooting for a fast half marathon or 70.3 triathlon first. The more you can focus on a smart, realistic goal, the better the chance you’ll have to achieve it.

Running Guide - train

4. Have fun!

First of all, whatever exercise you do on a regular basis — no matter if it’s running, hiking, biking or swimming — it should be fun! No matter what kind of training you’re doing, you’ve gotta enjoy it. Yes, you’ll have rough days and rough patches, but over the course of every week you should love what you’re doing. Lean into your tenaciousness. Relish in your fitness. Learn to love the feeling fatigued legs. If you don’t like the journey, you won’t like the destination.

5. Make your rituals to become routine.

We all occasionally deal with frustrations that hampered us: fatigue, soreness, wavering motivation, and feeling out of shape after taking a break. The keys to counteracting those down moments are planning the rest of your activities around your running, focusing on your strengths, and reducing or mastering the parts that are constantly a challenge. The transformation from ritual to routine is what makes running really a real pleasure, something that’s really special for people for their entire lives.

6. Rest more.

Remember that the only way you’ll improve as a runner or triathlete is by making sure you get sufficient sleep and rest to match your training intensity and effort. You can train as hard and as long as you want, but if you’re not getting enough sleep, rest and recovery, you’re never going to benefit from the training. Build in rest regular rest days, either with light cross-training or no training at all. And by all means, turn off your devices and screens and go to bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier than you normally do. Your mind and body will reap the benefits, and so will your fitness.

7. Do more alternative training.

If you want to become a better runner, you have to do more than running. Make time for fast workouts, form drills, stretching and even massage. (Either professional massage or self-massage with recovery implements such as a foam roller or Roll Recovery device.) Be diligent about doing strength work three times per week, no matter if it’s yoga, CrossFit, Orange Theory or even just a regular plank routine. Don’t think of it as an additional burden, think of it as a piece of your overall performance puzzle.

8. Be flexible.

As 2020 has taught us, things can go wrong. Unexpectedly wrong. Badly wrong. But the race — and, more importantly, your training —must go on. So if things don’t go as planned or if you suffer an injury or if it rains on race day, take a deep breath, deal with it and move forward. If you can’t run the marathon you planned, use that fitness for an epic long-distance trail run. If your triathlon is canceled, create your own multi-sport endurance adventure from your front door. Endurance sports aren’t about a singular moment, but how consistent and how much passion you sink into them over the arc of a long time — over the arc of your lifetime.

Running Guide - Food for runners

9. Eat better.

You know you can eat better. We all know we can eat better. But instead of forcing yourself into a extremely limiting regime change — such as off of a sudden following a vegan diet — make small, subtle changes. Choose a big, hearty salad over a burger and fries. Snack on fruits, vegetables and low-fast cheese. Avoid deserts except on one or two special occasions per month. You don’t need advice. You just need determined focus tied to your overall fitness goals. And remember, when you finish your goal race, you reward yourself by eating whatever you want!

10. Challenge yourself and be brave.

You won’t get anywhere by softly going through the motions. If you want to run better, you need to train better. If you want to achieve greatness, you have to train that way. Make sure you get out of your comfort zone when you’re training. Your hard workouts should be hard. Long runs should be fatiguing. Strength workouts should leave you sore. But with proper rest and recovery, you’ll start to feel the results of your advanced fitness and that will lead to increase confidence and the ability to push yourself harder.

Once you get to your next starting line, trust your training and repeat the mantra “I am ready” and then go make it happen.

Be brave and challenge yourself with conviction and good results will follow.

Categories
Interviews Saucony Training

LAURA THWEATT: OLYPMIC TRIALS & 2020 RUN TIPS

LAURA THWEATT TALKS OLYMPIC TRIALS AND SHARES HER ADVICE TO RUNNERS

By Brian Metzler

Saucony athlete Laura Thweatt ran the fiercest, gutsiest race of her life on Feb. 29 at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Atlanta, finishing fifth place in 2:29:08 but missing a berth on the U.S. Olympic Team by a mere 18 seconds. Despite the disappointment of narrowly missing the team, that effort galvanized her resolve to return to the elite marathon scene after years of injury. (Prior to being hurt for part of 2018 and 2019, Thweatt ran a 2:25:38 personal best at the 2017 London Marathon, the sixth-fastest time in U.S. history.) But when COVID-19 swept across the world and changed everything, the 31-year-old marathoner had to reconfigure her approach to running and training like everyone else.

We caught up with Laura near her home in Boulder, Colorado, recently to talk about how she’s maintained her training, her favorite new shoes and how she’s looking forward to 2021.

Laura Thweatt - Running

Well, 2020 was going to be a new chapter in your running career anyway, right?

“Yeah, I started training with a new coach, Joe Bosshard, and a new training group, Boss Lady, after several years of great success under Lee Troop and honestly there was a lot of unknown going into the year. I trusted Joe’s coaching, but it took me a while to feel comfortable in training. Anytime you change coaches, you wind up doing things differently, doing different workouts, learning different ways to get fit and approach a race build-up. So that was hard. I was running the miles and getting fit, but it was a big change. Also, I was the only marathoner in the group.

The other women in the group are amazing — Emma Coburn, Cory McGee, Aisha Praught-Leer, Dominque Scott-Efrud —  but they’re all track athletes who run shorter, faster events. But it all worked out in the end and about a month before the Olympic Trials Marathon, I felt really good about my training and how it was working out.”

How did you approach the Olympic Trials?

“I was still nervous and a bit worried going into the race. I knew I was running a lot fewer miles than most of the women there. I was running about 80 miles per week and there were plenty of women running 100 to 110 miles per week, but ultimately I couldn’t worry about that. I did a great 27-mile run in my build-up and that gave me a lot of confidence to know that I was fit and that I had to trust my own training.

When I got to Atlanta, I knew that the race was going to come down to how well I could compete and how determined I was. And that’s what I did. Midway through the race, I felt really good, really strong and I kept fighting. I knew I was running a good race and, despite the ultimate disappointment of not finishing in the top three, I was really happy with how well I competed and the final results.”

What is your take away looking back on your result now?

“It was one of those things I wasn’t sure how to feel. On the one hand, I was really proud of the race that I ran and felt like it was the first race since London in 2017 that I was really able to get out there and race with confidence and strength and have the belief that I could do it. So that was really great, but it was also super heartbreaking to come so close and put it all out there on race day and realize it just wasn’t quite good enough.

But overall, I walked away feeling like there were a lot of positives to take away from it.”

What advice can you give to everyday runners who are dealing with the massive changes in the world because of COVID-19?

“Well, we’re all in this together. No matter if it’s elite athletes or recreational runners, we all have to find a way to make things work. I know it’s been a sad year because so many people have gotten sick and died and many more have lost their jobs.

Fortunately, we all have running that can keep us healthy and keep us focused. Running has always been my favorite form of exercise and my daily therapy too, a great time to think and figure things out. So my best advice is to tell people to stay after it, keep lacing up their shoes, keep showing up and keep running.

A daily run can go a long way in making everything else work out smoothly.”

The Saucony Endorphin Collection

Even amid the crazy year, Saucony released three great new shoes in 2020. How are you using each one?

“It’s been a great year for Saucony with the new line of Endorphin shoes. Each one of them is so different, but so good! The Endorphin Pro is what I wore in the Olympic Trials and it’s an amazing shoe — so smooth, so fast and so easy to run in. The carbon-fiber plate embedded in the midsole makes every strides so smooth and so efficient that you barely feel the shoe when you’re running.

I love the Endorphin Pro for racing and long, fast training efforts, but I think the Endorphin Speed is my favorite. It’s also very fast, but it’s very versatile too. You can run long runs, you run fast intervals and you can run easy runs in that shoe. It has amazing cushioning that feels soft and bouncy, but it’s resilient and quick and not soft and mushy like some shoes.

And then the Endorphin Shift is just a really good all-around training shoe for a marathon, ideal for long runs, recovery runs and even tempo runs.

They’re all really amazing shoes that have really changed the game and helped me train better every day of the week.”

How have changed your outlook since the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down?

“It’s been a crazy year since the Olympic Trials. I am so glad I had that opportunity to race because it was only about a week or two later that everything got shut down and races were postponed or canceled. I was going to take a break and then get ready for the spring track season, but once everything got shut down, I took about a month off from running to recover and also work on my strength.

I had hoped to come back and run the New York City Marathon in November and started training for that, but eventually that was canceled too so really I spent a lot of my summer training and being healthy without a real racing goal ahead of me. That was hard but we all have to make the best of it and keep looking forward to 2021 when things will return to some sense of being normal again.”

Have you been training this year?

“Everyone has really approached this year from so many different angles. Some athletes have taken a step back and shut things down. Other people have been trying to stay in some kind of competitive shape and have been jumping into racing opportunities as they’ve come up. And others have just taken the opportunity to train and get ready for next year. There’s no one way to approach it. It’s just all based on what’s best for the individual. And nothing really counts for much, but I know a lot of athletes want to stay sharp and have the experience of racing.

For me, I’ve been training pretty well, but I’m a big planner so it’s been hard for me to approach some of the races that have popped up, only because I like to map things out well in advance of a race. But that’s been hard to do this year.

It’s exciting that the London Marathon is still doing an elite race, but for my first thoughts were ‘Can I plan for that?’ and ‘Can I get over there?’ So it’s been a really strange year for all of us.”

Have you been doing anything differently?

“I think the biggest thing I’ve done differently is that I spent a lot of time at home making my own food and cooking more than ever. I haven’t really changed my diet, but I’ve experimented with a lot of things and tried new things and that’s given me a greater appreciation for the food I eat but also for the time and effort that goes into it. I haven’t made sourdough bread or anything, but I’ve enjoyed learning how to cook more foods and use more ingredients.

And like everyone else, I’ve watched a lot of Netflix but I’ve also read a few books too. It’s amazing how you pass time when everything seems to change.

Fortunately, I still have running to keep me sane.”

Laura Thweatt - Saucony Endorphin Speed

TOP TRAINING TIPS FROM LAURA THWEATT

What’s your best advice to recreational runners training for a half marathon or marathon?

“My best advice is to train as best that you can and go into a race with confidence to run as well as you can, but also make sure you enjoy it and that it’s a happy experience. I see so many runners who dread running or are overly worried about a race experience and that’s not good.

We all get injured or sidetrack and sometimes don’t train as well as we could have, but there is no perfect training buildup. You can only do what you can do, but you should rely on that and trust your training.

Also, running should bring you joy, no matter if you’re an elite runner or a new runner just starting out. Make it the one thing in your day that is full of positive energy and you’ll be able to feed on that throughout the rest of your daily life.”

How are you looking forward in 2021?

“The pandemic has changed my outlook for next year, if only because I want to get a qualifier for the 10,000-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in June. So I’ll focus my first part of the winter on running a fast 10K and see how that goes and hopefully get into the Trials. [Laura was fifth in the 10,000m at the 2016 U.S. Track and Field Trials.]

After that, I’ll switch to marathon training and then hopefully run the New York City Marathon in the fall.”

How do you think running will rebound in 2021?

“Next year will be a huge year for running once things start coming back. I think we’ll have to wait and see, but it’s going to get better and things will return to normal and races will come back, even if it’s different.

It’s an Olympic year, so that will be exciting and just in general to have races come back that you can plan for and train for will be so refreshing after this year. Thinking about training for four months and then running through the streets of New York City is super inspiring right now; I think it must be for a lot of people who don’t have race goals.

If we can all keep that in the back of our mind as we go out for our daily run now, things will be OK.”

Follow Laura Thweatt’s adventures in Colorado and beyond on Instagram.

Categories
Mental health Training

TRAINING FOR FALL MARATHON SEASON, (WITH NO MARATHONS!)

Tips to Keep Training Even Though Your Marathon Was Canceled

By Brian Metzler

So this was going to be your big year to run a marathon, wasn’t it?

Well it was for me, too! Last December, I was stoked to make it through the Chicago Marathon lottery and get a spot in this fall’s race.

I circled Oct. 11, 2020 on my calendar. I organized a training plan that would start on June 1, but I actually started my training in earnest on Jan. 1. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and this was going to be my fourth time running it, and I was going to do everything I could to make it my fastest.

Chicago marathon - virtual only in 2020
The Chicago Marathon is all virtual in 2020

And then the coronavirus swept across the globe and wreaked havoc on everything, including marathons. In the spring, the Boston and London marathons had been postponed, setting up the potential for five Marathon Majors in a six-week span this fall — Boston, Berlin, London, Chicago and New York — but by mid-summer all of those races and hundreds of others had been postponed until 2021.

It’s a sad reality, but we all know that the health crisis that is still ravaging the world is much more important than our personal running goals. Still, it’s odd to face the fall without a race on the horizon.

Professional runners have found ways to compete as makeshift events with strict social distancing races have emerged. So like the rest of the running world, I’m forced to create a Plan B and make the best out of it. Instead of running a marathon through the streets of Chicago with 40,000 other runners on Oct. 11, I’ll be running a half-marathon time trial alone that day near my home in Boulder, Colorado.

We all have to keep running, keep training, keep testing ourselves, keep living our lives with passion and purpose.

That’s the advice of Dathan Ritzenhein, coach of the newly formed On Athletics Club in Boulder. He was a three-time Olympian and the fourth-fastest American marathoner in history with a 2:07:47 personal best time before retiring from competitive running this past spring.

“Yeah, it’s been a crazy year and I feel for all of the runners who had been training and gearing up for marathons,” says Ritzenhein, who placed ninth in the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing. “It’s disappointing that so many marathons have been canceled because of all of time, miles and commitment you have to put into preparation. I think all you can do is keep training, stay fit and keeping looking ahead to 2021.”

marathon training - coach advice
Olympian and coach Dathan Ritzenhein advises to keep training, stay fit and keep looking ahead.

TIPS ON KEEPING FIT, KEEPING TRAINING AND LOOKING AHEAD

1. Keep Running.

You can’t stop running because races have been canceled. Keep running as a part of your daily routine, but make sure it’s something you enjoy, Ritzenhein says. Not all of your runs will feel great — especially during the heat of summer or without the carrot of a goal race dangling in front of you — but if you make sure to remind yourself that running is something you love to do, you’ll continue to get a positive boost of energy from ever run, even amid the disappointment of not training for your fall marathon.

Need a inspiration to keep going? Run new routes. Strap on a hydration pack and go trail running. Run with friends (distanced). Try out those new shoe brands you’ve always wanted to. Now is the time to experiment with nutrition brands and fueling strategies.

2. Keep Training.

Don’t give up on yourself! Keep your body in the rhythm of training by sticking to a training plan and going through a variety of training stimuli and workouts, Ritzenhein suggests. Even if it’s not the training plan that would have led to your goal-race marathon, you should still engage in a variety of types of running every week — long runs, recovery runs and some kind of speedier effort like a tempo run or interval workout.

Training — as opposed to just running — will keep you physically, mentally and emotionally fit, Ritzenhein says.

Try some new workouts and reward yourself with your favorite meal if you hit your marks.

3. Run a Time Trial

Even though most races are canceled, you can still stay motivated to run fast. Consider planning for a half-marathon time trial this fall, perhaps on the weekend you had planned to run your marathon. Sure you can try to run a new PR for 13.1 miles, but even if you don’t run faster than you ever have before, the inspiration you’ll derive from training and the thrill of racing will give you something to shoot for.

Plus, it’s a lot easier to recover from a half marathon than a marathon and going through the motions of training and racing (in a simulated fashion) will keep you motivated for what’s next in 2021.

Not ready to race that long? Run a 5K or even a mile time trial once a month for the next few months and see how much you can improve. Need more motivation? Engage your friends to race too. Or enter a virtual race.

“Even if it’s not your goal race, any kind of racing is a good thing to get your competitive juices flowing,” says Lee Troop, a three-time Olympian for Australia who coaches 2021 U.S. Olympic marathoner Jake Riley in Boulder. “You’ve got to keep yourself sharp and time trials are a great way to do that.”

no marathon? try trail running
Try something new, throw on a pack and take to the trail

4. Trust the Process.

The world situation is going to improve and you will be able to run a marathon again soon, and hopefully as soon as next spring. Once the world is a safer place, marathon running will return with an incredible swell of excitement that will help motivate us individually and collectively.

In the meantime, continue doing the things you’ve been doing with consistency — running, training, eating healthy foods and getting plenty of rest — and you’ll be in a good position to excel whenever races return.

5. Think Positively.

This too shall pass! As frustrating as 2020 has been, running can and should remain a part of our lives as we start to see 2021 approaching on the horizon.

While the pandemic has been devastating, life will go on and so will running. There might be a new normal and new protocols for big-city marathons, but we will continue running. Just keep showing up in your daily life and keep running woven into the fabric of your healthy lifestyle and it will help guide you through this crazy time in the world.

“It’s been a crazy year, for sure, but first and foremost it’s important to remember that a lot of people have died, a lot of people have gotten sick and a lot of people are out of work,” Troop says.

“Life always has ups and downs, but it’s the person who rises up with their own strength that will truly persevere. The best thing we can do is keep moving forward, keep running and keep living a healthy lifestyle. Let your desire to race be part of the hunger and positivity that helps you maintain an optimistic mindset.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Metzler is the author of Kicksology: The Science, Hype, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes. (2019, VeloPress)

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