It's not uncommon for you to get nervous before a race you've been working towards. It really doesn't matter if it's your 50th marathon, your first 5K or just your longest workout ever, being a little nervous is almost part of the journey. Being a little worried is fine but dealing with it and making it less of a problem is ideal. Here are a few things to think about.
1. Trust your training - Remember all the months of work you've done, how hard you've worked and all of the improvement you've seen. It never hurts to look back over your training log to see the workouts you've put in the mileage bank and realize that you are ready! I always do this and it's relaxed me more than once when I'm thinking I'm not really ready.
2. Do something that has always relaxed you before - Read, do yoga, watch a movie or anything else that helps you feel like you are ready to go. For some reason, my friends and I like watching silly sports movies especially Run, Fatboy Run before a big race. I also have a playlist of music that I listen to even though many of the songs on it most people wouldn't find relaxing, like Pat Metheny's Zero Tolerance for Silence.
3. Only concern yourself with what you can control - You can't control the weather or how other people around you will run or many other aspects of the race so focus on what you can take charge of. Sleep, nutrition, and what you drink are all easy to control. Having a packing list and getting it in order a couple of days before the race goes a great way towards alleviating your worry about forgetting something. Use our handy race-tested packing list to make sure you have what you need.
4. Make a race plan - Even if it's your first race and you only want to finish, having a plan will help you be more in control of the positive outcome. Talk to one of your running friends, stop by the store and talk to one of us, use online resources or write down your goal. Even if all you write is "FINISH!", reading that will give you the positive thought and banish the doubts.
Use the above to help yourself relax before your next race and most of all remember to have a great time!
With the continued hot weather going on, here's some more advice that can help you to get your workouts completed with less distress.
First, it's best to try to exercise at the coolest time of the day. This is usually around sunrise. And although getting up earlier may not be what you like to do, keeping cooler and being able to get your workout in is something you like to do.
Finding a trail with shade will also help to accomplish the same. And even though running back and forth on a shorter part of a trail might get boring, you can stay cooler by doing that. Combined with an earlier time, this is a great start to staying cooler.
Now also isn't the time to be overly modest. The lightest and loosest clothing you have is going to help you dissipate some of the excess heat that's going to accumulate quickly. Headbands will work better than hats, singlets better than shirts, and shorts better than half tights.
Since your body going to be trying to cool you off more than during a run in cooler weather, it's also a good idea to not eat a lot before your exercise session. Making your body have less to do, like digest, while it's trying to cool your body down might seem like a little step but combine it with an earlier run and lighter clothing and you have 3 factors that you are using to get cooler. (And a really long sentence to read.)
Don't increase your intensity or duration a lot during hot times. It's best to go by feel and make the effort feel like it does when you are running in cooler temperatures. The same effort will still give you benefits while also letting you get your next workout in. It's also not a bad idea to increase your rest time between intervals or run less of them.
Finally, running a loop course where you can stash some extra water or have access to a cooler with ice water in it can help. You can drink the water but also having some available to pour over your head will also keep you cooler.
It's hot out there but by combining some or all of the above you can still get some great exercise sessions in. Be smart about your exercise and you'll still be able to enjoy what you like to do.
So is it worth setting a goal for your running or walking? Personally, I've decided that for me, I'm going to set a goal for this year's running that is probably the most challenging that I've attempted in a long time.
I've wanted to run a faster half marathon for a while and a friend and I were talking about races we'd always wanted to run and the NYC Marathon came up. As everyone knows, it's hard to get selected because it's a true destination race and popular with every level of runner. Poking around on their website, we noticed that there is a non-NYRR time qualifier guaranteed entry that will let you skip the lottery drawing. Sounds great, right? Until reality sets in and you see the time that you have to run. For me at 61, it's 1:40 even. Faster than I've done in a long time but not so much faster than I ran in 2020 that it's impossible. It's just barely possible and that's if everything I can control like running, core work, lifting, yoga, recovery, and diet go right. Then the other variable that I can't like weather also has to be right as well.
I think that I've discovered the reason that lots of people don't set goals for many things in life. Not hard to figure out that the chance of failure can make one only set achievable goals. But as my favorite lyricist Neil Peart wrote "From the point of ignition to the final drive, the point of the journey is not to arrive."
So, I'm willing to set out on this journey with knowing in advance that it's going to be tough and somewhat tougher because I'm letting everyone know what I'm doing!
But I'd rather set a goal that I might not get to than set an easier one that I know I'll meet. I figure at the worst I'll learn what not to do in the future which would actually be good and at the best I'll run faster than I have before even if I don't hit the 1:41:00 time. Only time will tell. Literally and figuratively.
Want to follow how I'm doing? I'm on Strava as mike t. You can also join the Jenkintown Running Company Strava as well.
Hope to see you out there and that you'll set some harder goal as well whether it's faster times, slower times, more mileage, losing weight, getting stronger, building friendships with others, or anything else.
All that it takes is one tough run in the heat to realize that you may need to figure out how to hydrate correctly. However, there are many different hydration options available to runners and fitness enthusiasts and sometimes the number of options can be overwhelming.
It may not seem obvious to everyone but plain water is the place to start. If you start using multiple hydration products all at once and you don't feel well, how will you know what product caused the distress? We suggest starting with plain water to see if that might be just what you need. In all honesty, for most runners and walkers water is enough if you are exercising less than an hour and the temperature is cool and humidity lower. If you're going out for less than 40 minutes or so you could even go without hydration but it's not a bad idea to have some anyway just in case.
It's important to begin your run or walk already hydrated. It's good to drink about 16 ounces a couple of hours before your run so you will be well hydrated before you start. It's not the best idea to drink a lot in the last hour before your session unless you have access to bathrooms along on your route.
While running, around 9 to 12 ounces an hour is what most research says you'll need. However, just like the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day, following those guidelines blindly can be wildly inaccurate for you. A person that weighs 160 pounds drinking 12 ounces an hour is entirely different than a 110 pound person drinking the same. Start on the low end at around 9 and then increase or even decrease as you get used to what works for you. Remember that it's better to drink smaller amounts more frequently than to drink it all at once.
If you're going to be running longer than an hour or in hotter or more humid conditions, you should add some type of electrolyte to make the running easier. Sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium are all electrolytes that you can get from either your solid nutrition or hydration products. The levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high when the amount of water in your body changes, which it will when you are exercising longer, in hotter weather, more humid conditions or a combination of any of the three. Supplimenting your hydration with the added electrolytes that you can get from gels or an electrolyte product will help you to have a more successful and enjoyable run or walk.
Electrolyte options are available in several different combinations that you can choose from. The most common are powders or tablets you mix with plain water
or electrolytes mixed into energy chews and gels. What you decide to use depends upon what you want it to taste like, the consistency you like, how you plan to carry your hydration or nutrition, and how long your run or walk is going to be. In reality, this all is an experiment to figure out an electrolyte replenishment strategy that will work for you!
A tablet like Nuun mixed in 16 ounces of water will give you the electrolytes that you need as would Gu or Honeystinger gels or chews. Howerver, it's important to remember that if you're going to be out for longer than an hour or racing that you'll need to have some additional carbohydrates to continue at the intensity you start at. Since I don't want to have blog that takes you an hour to read, I'll tackle those requirements soon in another post.
For more information about nutrition, check our our earlier blogpost or come in for some in-person advice. We also have a full range of hydration bottles that will work for any situation.
If you've ever wanted to discover some new trails in Montgomery County and do it with some other runners and walkers, we've got the opportunity for you! Starting in June, we're going to be having Saturday runs at one of the 15 trails that you need to visit in order to complete the entire challenge.
This is a great way to get some exercise done in a different place than where you usually go and have some fun with other like-minded people. With over 92 miles of
trails that connect greenways, waterways, and heritage, this is an interesting way to get to know more of Montgomery County.
We'll have signup cards available at each run but if you want to get started on your own you can register here. You can even register your dog if you'd like to!
You don't have to walk, run or bike the entire trail to get credit for this challenge, you only have to visit and enjoy the trail while writing down what symbol is on the special trailhead marker. Our plan is do do around an hour run on each trail but you can always go for more or less time if you want to.
We're planning on going to every trail by the December 4th deadline and hope to see you there!
People often wonder if they need more than one pair of shoes. It's a common question and depending upon your needs, it is something to consider.
First off, there are two pretty distinct points of view about shoe rotations. You have a group that believes it's a sales gimmick so that people will buy more shoes that they don't need and you have a side that believes you need a different pair to improve in different workouts and to keep from injuring yourself. Any regular customer at ORC knows that one of our first questions is what are you using the shoes for and that we actively discourage buying a shoe that won't help you especially if it costs more and will only offer you minimal or no benefit. However, there are certain types of situations where having more than one type of shoe is a benefit.
There are several different shoe rotation patterns. We usually focus on the two shoe, three shoe, recovery, and terrain-based rotations. Read on to find out more about each.
We suggest starting with only one shoe. If you're a beginner or prefer running for pure enjoyment, getting fitted for a daily trainer is where you should begin.
Two shoe rotation
With a two shoe rotation you are essentially using a shoe for everyday runs and another for faster runs. As I said above, getting your everyday trainer right is what you should do before branching out to multiple shoes. After your daily trainer is established and you want to pick up the pace more with faster runs each week, you might consider adding a second pair designed for that purpose. These lighter shoes, usually with less protection and cushioning, are designed for quicker speeds and feel faster. Used primarily for tempo runs and speed workouts, this is a good second shoe to add to the rotation. Not only can it work for faster runs but you can also use it as a racing shoe for most distances.
Three shoe rotation
The classic three shoe rotation adds a racing specific shoe. Getting a racing shoe will not be for everyone. If you're looking for faster times that will let you set personal bests or place in your age group or overall, the current trend is toward carbon-plated shoes that will help you run faster with essentially less overall effort. However, these are going to be more expensive options and also will be less durable than your daily trainer or lighter speed shoe.
If you do a lot of specific training involving tempo runs and intervals, sometimes you might consider adding a shoe that's more cushioned than your everyday trainer for slower recovery runs. Part of using a lighter shoe or a race specific shoe on a regular basis is experiencing some muscle tiredness. The benefits of a lighter or racing shoe also has the downside of offering less protection for your body overall. A typical recovery shoe would be softer with a generally thicker midsole that will reduce impact forces.
Terrain based rotation
Depending upon the terrain you run on, you may need a different type of shoe. If you do a lot of trail running, you could consider adding a trail specific shoe to your rotation. Although we don't recommend a trail shoe for every type of trail, if you're running across streams or up rocky trails where you need more grip, a trail shoe is something to consider.
An example rotation
As an example of a shoe rotation, I use the following currently:
Everyday runs - Asics GT-2000 or Mizuno Inspire.
Faster shoe - Hoka Carbon X.
Trail shoe - Brooks Catamount.
Race shoe - Hoka Carbon X for road and Brooks Catamount for trail.
Recovery shoe - Hoka Gaviotta or Mizuno Horizon.
If you're considering branching out to different types of shoes, come in and we'll help you find the best combination for your needs and running style wheter it's one or multiple shoes.
Now that it's getting closer to spring races and after having a couple of years without races, it's a good time to gather what you might need for a race kit. Use our checklist to make sure that you have every item you need to make your race a success. I usually put everything in a large travel bag and then put what I need at the race in a smaller bag and take that to the race. In warmer weather you can leave out some items like a long-sleeved shirt but most of the time I pack everything anyway just in case.
Most of the items here are ones that are self explanatory but I've given reasons for why I pack each although some are pretty obvious. You can print out the list without the explanations by clicking here.
1. race number and pins - I usually pin the number to the shirt or singlet I'm using for the race the night before so I'm not trying to do it in the morning in the cold, rain, dark, or even perfect conditions at the race itself.
2. race instructions, map, ect. - having the race information where I can easily access it is really useful. Now most bigger races will have a lot of this information online and you can just save it to your phone.
3. shoes - pretty obvious but you should use a pair you are used to running in and not something new on race day.
4. socks - comfortable socks that you've used before are essential.
5. shirt - pack a short sleeved shirt that you can run the race in or to use for your warmup before changing to a singlet.
6. shorts - depending upon your level of modesty and the length of the run, pack a pair that will work with your race plans. For a longer race I'll pack something with pockets for gels and other nutrition. If I'm at the race alone I'll also need pockets for my car key.
7. long sleeved shirt - I'll usually pack a shirt because even when it's warm out, it's usually a little cool hanging out before the race begins.
8. long pants - I'll do this for the same reason as the long sleeved shirt.
9. gloves - My hands are usually a little cold so I use gloves most of the time.
10. hat - If it's raining or misty I'll use a visored hat.
12. 2 bottles water - Having some water to drink is usually a good idea especially if you are in the corral for a long time.
13. energy bar - I'll eat this for a quick meal about 4 hours before the race so I pack it in the big race bag.
14. gels - These are in a small plastic bag so that they are easier to find when I need them for the race.
15. newspaper to sit on - I don't like getting wet before the race starts so I'll pack some to sit on.
16. shoe tag - If I'm running by myself I use the shoe tag to store my key and medical information.
17. vasoline/body glide - This is pretty much self explanatory.
18. sunglasses - Squinting is never good in a run since you don't need any additional tense muscle groups. Also, sports specific sunglasses work better than prescription lense glasses.
19. toilet paper - Everyone has had the no paper situation occur at a race and I'd rather not experience that again.
20. sunscreen - Getting sunburned and then trying to enjoy the post race experience isn't fun.
21. headband - Headbands let your bodyheat escape from your head while still keeping sweat from getting into your eyes.
22. race bottle - In races longer than a 5K I like drinking when I want to so I usually run with a 10 ounce bottle.
23. racing flats - I'll warm up in regular shoes and then change to a more race oriented shoe if it's a goal race that I'm wanting to run a good time in.
24. band aids - Although bodyglide usually is enough, band aids can be useful for more extreme things like a sudden blister.
25. stick - I won't take this to the race but I'll use this to massage out any trouble spots before the race.
26. arm sleeves - for a chilly race I'll use these for a little extra added warmth.
27. leg compression sleeves - good for recovery or possibly solving a medical issue, I'll pack these and use them as needed.
25. pace band - Although I'm pretty good at calculating the splits, I'll use a pace band in longer races so I don't have to waste any time doing the math.
26. tape for pace band - Since I'm making my own band, I need tape to put it on my wrist. I've used band aids when I forgot the tape so I guess that would be another use for the band aids.
27. singlet - In any race over 40 degrees, I usually wear a singlet or sleeveless shirt since I know I'll heat up.
28 rain shoes - Although I usually don't have to use them, having a waterproof running shoe paid for itself in my opinion during rainy Broad Street runs and other wet conditions.
29. rain jacket - Mostly used to stay a little warm before the race, if it's raining a lot this is great to have.
30. space blanket - Using one of these mylar blankets helps to keep you warm before or after the run.
31. small towel - Used to sit on or wipe off sweat after the race.
32. race tattoo - not needed at all but for years I've worn some type of running oriented stick-on tattoo for races just to have more fun.
34. watch and charger - I frequently run without looking at my watch in training runs but usually look at it some during races. With longer battery life, you might not need the charger but it's always good to be prepared just in case.
35. spibelt - If I'm running the race by myself I'll usually have the belt to store essentials that I don't want to lose.
36. shoelaces - Pack an extra just in case you break one at the race.
Get Your Resolution Back on Track
About a month into the new year only about 35% of people are still keeping their resolutions going. Need some inspiration and ideas to keep yours moving forward or to get it going again? Here are a few ideas that can get you back on track.
Join a group - there are plenty of formal and informal groups around that will give you motivation and other people to run with. Group accountability gets you out there! From our store sponsored group, The Growlers, at 6:30pm every Wednesday at the store to more informal groups like The Blueberry Crew who meet at the Byberry parking lot on the Pennypack Trail at 7:30am on Saturday mornings, there is a group out there for every type of runner or walker.
Run a different route - try running in a place that you haven't been to before so that you get experience a new route. Use an ap like Strava to find places in your area that look interesting and try them out.
Run your normal route in reverse - if you always run the same route in the same direction, try doing it in reverse. You'll be amazed at how different it looks when approached from the other side. That hill you don't like that much turns into a fast sprint down, the weird landscaping of your neighbor's house suddenly makes sense, and you also create a new route to run.
Run at a different time - if you usually run in the morning, try an afternoon or night run. If you're a night person, get out early one day. Like running a different route, this also gives you a different perspective on your running
Hit the trail or road - changing the surface you exercise on can also mix up your running in a positive way. Using your running muscles in a different way, varying surfaces and seeing more of nature can invigorate your exercise sessions in a positive way.
Take a day off - if running or exercising has become a little stale, change the days that you usually take off to a different day. Sometimes doing a different activity or even nothing can give you a little refresh that helps to get you going again.
Do a reward run - start your run close to your favorite restaurant or coffee shop and reward yourself with a treat after you finish your run. The doughnut tastes better knowing that you earned it by running or walking that day!
Change the intensity - run faster or slower or even do both during the same run. Mixing up your paces gives you some variety that can make your sessions feel entirely different.
Get some new gear - sometimes all it takes is a new hat, shirt or tights to get you out the door. Although new gear won't make you faster, it can make you feel that you are!
Change up your playlist - if you listen to music, try a different style than what you are used to listening to. Different choices can make a run feel new and refreshing.
Use one of the above to get your running or walking back on track!
First and foremost - check the weather forecast. Find out not only how cold it is but the windchill (feels like) temperature as well. It's also a good idea to see if rain or snow are likely as that will not only change what you wear but could also change where you run.
Warmup correctly and start your run slowly. Winter is a great time to build up endurance but it's also an easy time to develop an injury as cold muscles need to warm up to a good exercise level before doing faster workouts.
Think about reduced daylight and dress for the conditions. The temperature can drop quickly if you start in daylight and end in darkness and the other way around if you start in the dark and finish in daylight. Consider getting a headlamp to use and also remember to use good layering so that you keep your body temperature balanced. It's a good idea to start feeling a little cool so that you're comfortable a few minutes into the run or exercise session.
Let people know where you'll be running and when you'll be back. You can also consider using an ap like Strava that will let you send a text link that lets someone follow along where you are running in case something unexpected happens
When you are out in the conditions there are a few things you should think about while running or walking. If it's snowy or icy, it's best to be in an area that you know well. Roots, rocks and uneven road or sidewalk surfaces are often harder to see when covered with snow. Always remember to watch for ice as well.
Wearing appropriate shoes is also important. When the ground is snow covered it usually isn't the time to break out your racing shoes and try to run your fastest workout ever. If you have an essential speedwork session that has to be done, try to find a well-cleaned street or treadmill to run on. From experience, I know that even with heavy snow, the entrance road to Warminster Park is almost always cleared and good for speed sessions even with heavy snow. Some of the snowplows used for that area are garaged on that road so on the way in and out they scrape everything down to the road surface. Plus since it's an entry to a park, traffic is pretty minumal so running on the road is about as safe as it can be.
Winter is also a good time to concentrate on developing some better aspects of form. When in running in snowy conditions, it's commen to shorten your stride. This will keep your feet under your center of gravity and keep you upright. If you want some more information about form development, check out our still under construction youtube channel.
Ever start a hard workout and it seems like you aren't really in the groove and running well until you are a third of the way in? You can get the most out of your workout by having a warmup routine that lets you get the entire benefit or your hard run instead of using part of the run to warmup. The goal is to have your 5 mile tempo run actually be a 5 mile tempo run and not a 1 mile warmup and a 4 mile tempo run. Starting the hard part of your workout already warmed up will let you get the maximum out of your workout while also reducing your chances of injury and being a more realistic race simulation.
A good functional warmup includes slow running, some active stretching exercises, a little speed and some nutritional choices. I've used the schedule below for a few years with minor modifications and it's a good basic warmup that can be used for races and workouts of all distances.
Walk 5 minutes
Run 1 mile slowly
Stretch/Take gel or nutrition (Change into race singlet and shoes if you want to)
Walk 5 minutes
5 50 meter accelerations 5 minutes before race.
Go to the start
I'll write this out on an index card or sticky note before a race with the times I need to do each step included. So for a race that starts at 9am my card would look like this:
5 - Eat energy bar
6:23 - Last drink
8:23 - Walk 5 minutes
8:28 - Run 1 mile slowly
8:40 - Stretch/Gu/Change
8:50 - Walk 5 minutes
8:55 - 5 50 meter accelerations
8:58 - Drink 8-16 ounces of water
9 - Start race
In a later blog, I'll explain more about how I drink and eat before a race but generally I'd recommend experimenting and finding out what works for you.
Now that we're deep into summer, it's a perfect time to explore some new running routes. One of the best choices for seeing nature and experiencing a lot of different views is to get out on some area trails. Two easy-to-use resources that can help you find nice places to run are the Montgomery County Trail Challenge and Circuit Trails. Either resource will give you details about the trails you're interested in. You can also drop by the store to talk about area trails as we've run on most of them. Another great source are other runners that you will see out on the trails.
Once you get to the trails there are a few simple rules you might consider using. First, it's important to remember that runners aren't the only people using the trails. You'll see bikers, walkers, hikers, bicyclists, dog walkers and nature lovers of all types. All of those are going at different speeds with different attention spans and different ideas about what appropriate use of a trail is. In our area, there are some trails that are wide enough for all to easily coexist while there are also ones narrow enough that when two people meet, one has to yield to the other.
Common sense is the way to go here when encountering someone on a trail. I usually think of three things that are all related to each other in some way; effort level, who has the harder terrain, and who is out of control. You should usually yield to a person at a higher effort level, like someone doing speedwork or hiking at their maximum effort. Harder terrain would be someone going uphill while you're going down, a person crossing a stream right when you're getting to it, or children trying to keep up on a bike ride. Out of control could be the person flying down the hill while running or on a bike, new trail users unfamiliar with these unwritten rules or totally distracted people who are out of control of either their emotions, dogs or people they are with. A fourth, entirely different, factor is the person who assumes what they're doing is more important than what you're doing and will follow none of the rules above. You usually don't have all four of these conditions occuring at the same time but if you do you should definately yield!
If passing from behind, it's good to give a verbal warning of some type so that the people in front of you know that you're coming up on them. You usually pass on the left just as you would if driving a car. A lot of the time if I'm running at a faster pace like speed work I'll also use a hand signal like pointing the direction I'm passing in so that if someone is coming up behind me to also pass, they'll know I'm moving to the left to pass or back to the right after passing. That keeps me from suprising the bike rider out for a quick spin and they'll appreciate not wondering what you're going to be doing next. If you're group is running towards someone, it's best to move to a single-file line until you get past them and then you can go back to your group formation.
It's also a great thing to greet fellow trail adventurers as well. I'm known as the Peace Guy out on the Pennypack trail as unless running some faster speedwork, I always give the peace sign to everyone I see.
Finally, remember to follow all trail signs. You may think it's okay to run on a trail that looks safe but there is usually a good reason that it's closed. In a later blog, we'll get to some essential trail gear and now to make sure that you aren't damaging nature while on the trails.
What do I wear?
One question we're frequently asked is how do I know what to wear when I run or exercise? Today there are a lot of different choices in apparel that will work well in any temperature or type of weather.
What most people don't realize is that you are generally helped more by what you don't wear than by what you do. The human body works great as a furnace but not so great as a refrigerator. As a result, once you get too hot it's hard to get cooled off while if you're too cold you can easily add more to warm up. Generally, if you feel a little cool at the start of a run, 20 minutes in you'll feel perfect. I usually head out dressed like it's 20 degrees warmer than it really is. If you follow our guidelines below you should be able to run comfortably in any type of weather. I've used these to run in 3 degree weather in Chicago and 104 in Tampa and both runs ended up feeling about the same.
Below are our recommended guidelines for what to wear.
70s and up - Use a singlet, skimpy top, or sports bra with shorts or quarter or half tights.
50 to 70 - Use a short-sleeved shirt or sports bra with shorts or quarter or half tights
30 to 50 - Use a long-sleeved shirt or a short sleeved with arm warmers, and tights or running pants
30 and down - Add protection for the hands and ears to what you used for 30 to 50. Another layer in extreme cold.
If it's raining and warm add a cap to keep vision clear but dress the same as for a warm day
If it's raining and cool add a cap and a water-resistent jacket.
If it's snowing add a cap if possible. Also make sure that you are running where you have traction for your shoes.
None of the above accounts for the wind but most long-sleeved tops and jackets are now wind resistent. If you know it's going to be windy and cold, it's best to start running into the wind so that you get warmed up and then have the wind at your back for the last half. If you run into the wind at the end, you'll probably be sweaty and end up getting colder.
Lots of people wonder about what to eat and drink before, during and after a run. Even more obsess about it to the point of worrying, which can negatively effect the fun and relaxation that a run often is all about.
The large amount of supplements that are available now can confuse anyone including us! To make it easier for you to figure out what you need to do, we've created an easy to follow chart that will help you to decide what you want to do. We've also included a few common sense suggestions that should help you with your pre, during and post run nutrition needs.
Many people just roll out of bed and hit the road or trail. However, having a little nutrition onboard before you start isn't a bad idea. About an hour before you start consider having a low-fiber, high carb snack like a banana, toast with jam, or handful of dried fruit combined with water or an energy drink. You'll want to experiment with this to figure out what works best for you as each person is different. A few easily consumed nutrition products that work well for this purpose are Honey Stinger waffles, Gu energy stroopwafels, and Nuun hydration. If you're closer to run time Honey Stinger or Gu gels or energy chews as they get in your system a little faster.
Most people take a gel or some chews about 15 minutes before beginning a run. Depending upon the intensity of the workout most will also take a gel or chews every 45 minutes during the workout. However, it's best once again to experiment and find what ratio works best for you. We currently stock 20 different gel and chew flavors from Honey Stinger and Gu with some having caffine and some being caffine free. It's easiest to pick a flavor that looks like something you might enjoy and try it on a run before buying a large amount of them. Experimentation with different flavors and timings will give you the best ratio. Currently I take a gel 15 minutes before and have found out that taking one every 30 minutes for the entire run works best for me. The flavors that work for me are caramel flavors or chocolate as anything fruity doesn't work well. However my sister uses only fruity as chocolate or caramel upset her stomach. That means she tends to use chews most of the time as they taste a little fruitier to most people.
As you can see, the choice between gels and chews is mostly personal preference. Chews have a solid consistency and are usually easier to digest and can be taken without water. However if you don't want to have to chew the nutrition, gels are the way to go. I find it tough to take chews when I'm running at race pace so I tend to use gels then. In the summer, I'll also tend to use gels as I take them with water which rehydrates me a little as well. Also, a gel left in the car is still usable but forgotten chews become a syrupy and unusable mess. In the winter though, when I'm generally just getting miles in, gels tend to thicken or freeze on longer runs so I'll use chews instead.
What to drink during a run is also highly personal. Some people like water while others use a Nuun hydration or Gu Roctane energy drink mix. Using water with gu or gels works well but you need to be careful about over-sugaring yourself if you combine a drink mix with gels or chews. Sometimes the combination can upset your stomach or make you nutritionally crash, also known as the bonk. It's a fine line between success in nutrition, average or feeling bad and like I've said above you need to experiment to find out what works best for you. Over the years, I've found that for drinking about 6 to 9 ounces an hour by sipping some every half mile works best for me.
After a run, in order to maximize any training benefits and to recover, having some properly timed nutrition is also a good idea. Most research points towards the optimum time being within 20 minutes but most people aren't able to do that unless they are ending their run close to home. As a result, within 2 hours is a good guideline to follow. Some good choices that will give you the carbohydrates and protein essential for recovery are greek yogurt, banana or a smoothie, cereal and milk, or a bagel with an egg. If you're running later or don't feel like breakfast foods a lean-meat sub like turkey or pasta with meat sauce can also do the trick. If you're running right before work and are rushed a little, a protein bar will get you started and then you can add in more after you get to work.
If all the above leaves you a little confused, stop by and we can go over your specific nutrional needs and make some recommendations that should get you started down the road to nutrional success. Getting it right can be challenging but once accomplished your running, mood and overall fitness will improve.
By Issy G.
I follow just about every running outlet on the Internet, so I had always believed that I was pretty in-the-know about all things running. Sure, I might have known every stat about the top runners in the nation. But I wasn’t aware of one of the most pressing issues in the running community. I didn’t understand why some of the girls around me looked so unhealthy, or why rising stars in high school fizzled out and faced injury after injury.
I hadn’t heard of the term “female athlete triad” until my junior year of high school. The triad consists of three components: low energy availability with or without an eating disorder, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone density. These three components wreak havoc on the female body, and can lead to long-term or permanent damage such as broken bones or infertility. I think that it’s pretty revealing that I was clueless to a phenomenon that affects so many women and girls. In fact, around 78% of high school athletes experience one or more of the three components of the triad (Hoch). Why didn’t I know that the triad was especially prevalent among female endurance athletes like myself? It had taken me ten years of running to even hear the term, let alone understand its consequences and effects on girls in the running community.
At that point I had gone through what, in my opinion, was the most impressionable part of my life as an athlete: my body had changed as I hit puberty, and I had adapted. My perspective of myself and others in the sport was changing as well; I was much more conscious of the other body types I saw on the line. Although I made it through this time healthily, many female athletes are not so lucky. I’ve definitely dealt with my share of health issues, but they’ve always been manageable and relatively minor. I never developed an eating disorder or lost my period as a result of running. I’ve never had a stress fracture due to a lack of estrogen or nutrition. Not every female runner can say the same.
One of the most high profile cases of the female athlete triad is that of Mary Cain. In her New York Times Op Ed, she recounts how “an all-male Nike staff became convinced that in order for [Cain] to get better, [she] had to become thinner. And thinner. And thinner.” I had grown up hearing about Mary Cain’s incredible performances, and like so many others, I had simply accepted that she was ‘burnt out,’ and that her career was over. I never questioned who or what was responsible for the breakdown of her body, and thought that this was just what happened to high school phenoms. After watching her OpEd in the New York Times, I felt as though there was finally some light being shed on an issue I’d been witnessing for a while, an issue that had really shaken my faith in the running community. I hoped that people would begin to care about the long term well-being of female runners, and not just sit in awe of stars who burned really bright when they were still just girls. I hoped that young girls would be able to pursue their goals in a sustainable way, without putting their bodies on the line.
One of Cain’s allegations in particular stuck with me. When describing her time with the Nike Oregon Project, Cain says, “I got caught in a system designed by and for men, which destroys the bodies of young girls.” It’s not just one program or one coach that caused Cain’s downfall. Rather, the lack of regard for and miseducation about female bodies in this sport is what causes girls’ bodies to break down. Alberto and his all-male team did not adapt Cain’s training to be feasible or sustainable on the female body. Cain points to the lack of female coaches as one of the factors that made her feel so unheard and hopeless at the Nike Oregon Project. Again, this rings true across the running community, not just for the Oregon Project. According to a 2018 study, just ten women held head track and field coaching positions at NCAA Division 1 schools, compared to 83 men; for cross-country, 17 women and 86 men (Strout). I think that disparity is significant, and that with more female coaches, female athletes will be more seen and heard.
I don’t want to come off as offering a be-all-end-all solution to such a complex problem. I know that it’s not as simple as hiring more female coaches, or requiring coaches to learn about the triad and prevention techniques. But I do think that female athletes deserve to be heard and voice their grievances with a system that exploits their successes and then discards them when their bodies begin to break down. Cain’s story resonated with so many women in the running community, including myself. She helped to expose the flaws in the system, and has demonstrated how the stories that we tell can help to enact tangible, positive change in the running community. As I enter a more intense phase in my running career, I do so with hope. I believe in this sport and the running community to continue the narrative that Cain started. I believe that we can teach sustainability and health. And I believe that we can get really fast, on our own terms.
Hoch, Anne Z et al. "Prevalence of the female athlete triad in high school
athletes and sedentary students." Clinical journal of sport medicine :
official journal of the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine vol. 19,5
(2009): 421-8. doi:10.1097/JSM.0b013e3181b8c136
Cain, Mary. "I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike." The New
York Times, 7 Nov. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/11/07/opinion/
nike-running-mary-cain.html. Accessed 2 June 2020.
Strout, Erin. "American Running Needs More Female Coaches." Outside, 14 Sept.
Accessed 2 June 2020.
By Issy G.
When it was first announced that Indoor Nationals had been cancelled, the first emotion I felt was relief. Of course, other thoughts entered my mind; I was incredibly disappointed to hear that I wouldn’t have the chance to race against some of the best two-milers in the nation, or to see my friends and teammates run, jump, and throw their hardest. But with this cancellation, I realized that I would have to take pride in my fitness without proving it to others, which was a huge change to my training and my mindset as a runner.
I’ve been lucky enough to compete in many exciting, high stakes meets over the course of my high school career. The competition that I’ve raced against and the results that I’ve ran to are some of the best memories of my life. But I don’t think that we hear a lot about the other side of those meets, when things don’t go quite according to plan: the anxiety in the hours, days, even weeks leading up to a race, or the disappointment of a poor performance on a big stage. I’ve struggled with these anxieties and defeats especially in my senior year. Looking back, I realize that I should have been savoring every moment I had to run in a high school race and be with my coaches and teammates.
I felt the pre-race-pressure especially before Footlocker Regionals in New York. I had expressed to my coach the week before that I didn’t even know if I wanted to run in Regionals. I emphasized that I wasn't sure about where my physical health was at, but in reality, I just didn’t know if I could take another race, mentally. I vented about my frustrations with how the end of my season had gone, and how I felt as though I had to get so psyched up for almost every race I competed in that last month. It was exhausting, I told him, to have my mind constantly thinking about my next race and the competition that I would face. I was especially anxious about the competition at Footlocker, and I felt as though I didn’t really belong there because of my last couple of performances at meets. That’s when my coach told me that he knew that I could qualify for Footlocker Nationals; in fact, he expected it of me. I was shocked. I had never really imagined what it would feel like to be among those ten girls who made it to San Diego, not really. I had fantasized during my summer training about crossing the line and qualifying, but I hadn’t ever really believed that I could do it.
My coach’s confidence in my abilities gave me the extra push I needed to make it to the line that day. However, I still didn’t really believe in myself. I felt like a fraud carrying around my Outdoor Nationals bag with its All-American patch. I told myself that my performance at Nationals was months ago, and that I hadn’t proved myself in cross country yet in the way that I needed to. I didn’t let myself feel pride in the fact that I had finally broken 18 minutes in the 5k, or that I’d won in meets against some of the fastest girls in the state. By not appreciating how far I’d come that season and believing my performance that day would define me as a cross country runner, I’d already lost my ticket to San Diego.
I finished the race in 12th. Two spots and ten seconds off qualifying, to be exact. I later learned that the 11th place finisher had been invited when another girl had to drop out. I had been one place away from making it to Nationals, and I was devastated. I couldn’t think about the huge improvements I’d made from last year in cross country without also thinking about how I had given up on myself before the race had begun.
The results of Footlocker Regionals stayed with me longer than I’d care to admit. I was frustrated and embarrassed that I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of cross country during my high school career (which, on reflection, couldn’t be further from the truth). I lost so much confidence after that race, and as a result, I had a pretty terrible start to the indoor season. I didn’t believe in my abilities as a runner. I let poor results snowball. I was tired of running in little circles, and I was a bit tired of running in general.
After what seemed like a particularly disappointing race at the Millrose Games, I sat down with my coach. Tears were shed over lots of things: my latest performance, my lack of confidence in my racing, and my uncertainty about the future. We made changes to my training, but also to how I approached my training mentally. Instead of fixating on how hard a workout was, I began keeping a journal where I would write down what challenged me and how I got through it in the end. It became my “confidence journal” (shoutout Kara Goucher!), and it was almost as important as my sneakers by the end of the winter season.
I was excited for Indoor Nationals. Really! I love the energy of the Armory in New York, and I was in great shape physically as well as mentally. But as I said before, I was relieved to hear that the meet had been cancelled. Although I had made so much progress with my mindset since the beginning of the season, I realized that I still needed time to get back to who I used to be as a runner. I have loved running ever since I stepped on a track at seven years old, and I really do mean that. But over those last couple of months, that statement seemed less and less true. Medals didn’t seem to gleam anymore, and every mile I ran, I wondered why I was still doing this.
I didn’t come here to write about how these cancellations are a ‘blessing in disguise,’ or something like that. They’re not. Of course, I understand why events needed to be cancelled, but that doesn’t make going on another solo run without my team any easier. This situation is frustrating and unfair, and I am beyond disappointed that it had to happen during my senior year, or even happen at all. With that being said, I’ll have the chance to run for almost seven months without racing, if cross country in the fall goes as planned. That means seven months of runs and workouts in my journal that I can look back on and take pride in. I’ll have seven months of Sunday long runs with my sister, who will also be (is also? Time is weird right now) my teammate at Harvard next year. Seven months to run just because I want to.
I am extremely grateful that I have at least a vague idea of what comes next with regards to my running career. I have a coach who is challenging me to use this time to adjust to new training and conditions to prepare me for my next season at college. I also have a pretty awesome sister: she is not only my training partner, but someone who I can lean on when I need advice or support. I’m so thankful that running has been one of the constants in my life right now to keep me (mostly) sane. And I’m not alone! It seems like everyone wants to run during a pandemic. I think it’s telling that the way so many people are getting through this uncertain time is by going out for a run. I can understand that. I’ve gotten through some of my most difficult days in the same way: by lacing up my sneakers and putting one foot in front of the other.
About the Author
My name is Issy Goldstein and I’m a senior at Germantown Academy. I’ll be attending Harvard University next year, where I’ll be running cross country and track. Along with running, I also love writing, and I hope to combine my interests in this blog!
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Since its founding, The Original Running Co. has been at the center of a proud community of runners in the Delaware Valley. This is a place where runners can come together and share their thoughts and ideas.