5 Rules for Hot Weather Running

As the summer marches forward, we are all dealing with some hot weather running. Well – most of you are. I’m in Ireland which doesn’t seem to go above 20 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, here are some basic rules on hot weather running:

  1. Hydrate yourself 2 hours before you go out. Whenever possible, have a few glasses of water before you head out, to ensure you are sufficiently hydrated to begin.
  2. Consider a hat. Not a regular baseball cap (that will trap heat next to your skull) but a running cap made out of wicking material. The sweat will wick away from you head, and the brim will give your eyes a break.
  3. Bring water. This may seem overly obvious, but it is that important. Once the mercury rises, you can no longer get away with not bringing water with you, no matter how short the run. This is doubly important for runs longer than 1 hour. In those cases, bring an extra bottle or two, or you can….
  4. Plan hydration stops on your route. Before you head out, figure out if there are functioning public water fountains that you can fill up at. Pro tip: Starbucks (at least in Toronto, Canada) are perfectly happy to fill up your water bottle with no fuss. I do that all the time.
  5. Have a proper cool down. This means two things. First, if your body temperature is up, hop into a cool shower or grab a couple of ice cubes for your face. Bringing your temperature down successfully is important when you are done your run. Second, the need to effectively hydrate doesn’t end when your run does. If you don’t continue to hydrate with water or gatorade following your run, you will likely get headaches from the dehydration. Keep it up with a glass of water an hour for a few hours after you are done.

What are your tricks for surviving your hot weather runs? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Running!

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Running Into The Unknown

Having arrived into Dublin a few days ago now, I think I’m mostly over the jet-lag. Last night’s run was fantastic, so I really slept like a baby.

While I’m here I’m running tech-less. It’s just me and my water bottle when I set out. I don’t have access to my beloved Nike+ and I can’t seem to find my Garmin charger. Once I lost those two, I felt like I should just ditch the iPod as well, out of solidarity.

So it’s back to the old tech version of planning out a route beforehand and then running out the door. This becomes doubly difficult in a city I’m unfamiliar with, with road names I can’t pronounce, and whose streets never go straight in any direction.

That said, running without tech and along completely unknown routes is exhilarating. It forces increased alertness and pushes curiosity. I think both are great things.

That said, it can lead to some interesting problems. Last night, being somewhat jet lagged and completely exhausted, a plotted out what I thought was a very easy 4k route. Just a quick jaunt to wake up my legs, my heart and my mind. The first 1k was pleasant, following the River Liffey, passing the Guinness Brewery.

Then the route curved off into the city, and, apparently up. And up. And up.

About 2k of a gentle but persistent slope upwards. The kind that leaves a dull ache in your calves. This is apparently a popular running route, as I found several significantly more capable runners than me blasting up the hill.

And thus, my short quick run was turned into a hill workout. Such is the joys of running new routes, in a new city.

I can’t wait to head out again tonight.

 

 

Route Change Up

Run

As you may know from reading my posts, I’m currently running and writing in Dublin, Ireland. This means I’ve had a BIG route change up, and am happily exploring new running routes and trails.

However, when I’m home I frequently find myself running the same routes, just out of habit. I know that this route, for instance, is a great 5k loop without many stoplights, or this one is a fantastic 20k long run that flows through many different interesting neighbourhoods.

When I first started running, I used it as a way to explore my city and truly see the world around me. I still do that, but occasionally I fall in to lulls where I use the same route, day in and day out. I’m here to encourage you not to do that.

Changing up your route has several benefits, the biggest of which is avoiding running boredom. Constantly seeing new sites and navigating new terrain keeps you aware and bright, both of which are good for your psyche and your run time. On a slightly darker note, the Toronto City Police also recommend running different routes, so potential predators will not be able to track you easily. It’s a sad thing that I have to mention this, but changing your running route can increase your overall safety. Of course, when selecting a new route, make sure you are not running down dark alleys at 2am next to minimum security prisons, etc, etc, etc.

If you have a system like Nike+, Garmin or any other GPS watch, its easy to head out the door without a plan. If you don’t, take 10 minutes before your run and map out a new route on Google Maps. If you’re stumped on where to go, contact your local Running Room. They have routes of different lengths and technical skills mapped out, all of which leave from their stores of course. And while you’re at it, maybe head out with one of their free Run Clubs!

Alright, enough planning. Go Run. Go Far. Go Enjoy. And Happy Running!

(Photo Credit: R A Pyke)

The 10% Rule

10-10-10

Today is a easy steady run for me. It will be short, and as per my training schedule, is meant to add some miles to my legs. The problem is, I’m really hankering for a nice long run. A good 2 hours where I can go get lost, explore some new territory and really push my endurance. Where afterwards I can be so dead tired that there is nothing I can do but be happy and bask in the sweaty afterglow of a good run. I don’t get to do that until Sunday, which is when it is scheduled on my plan. I mean, I could head out for a 20k session tonight but that would be actually not help me to reach my long term goals.

…which brings me to the 10% rule.

The rule states that you should not increase  your mileage week over week by more than 10%. Going over this rule increases your risk of injuries from over-training. Especially when you first start, this is very difficult, but a stress injury can sideline you for days, weeks or months depending. Over-training injuries include stress fractures, iliotibial band syndrome (IBTS), shinsplints, plantar fasciitis, and the common runner’s knee.

Despite this knowledge, if you are really needing an extra couple of sweat sessions, try some cross-training that uses a completely different muscle group. Pilates and yoga are favoured by a lot of runners because they increases core strength and provides a deep stretch. Just makes sure whatever you do, you really are letting your primary running muscles rest.

Happy Running!

P.S The weekend is almost here!

(Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks)

I Songza While I Run

Skullcandy Headphones

Among my running friends, the music we listen to, the playlists we create and the effort we put into finding that perfect mix is a subject of constant discussion.

Which is why, lately, I’ve been leaving it up to fate. Well, sort of. It would more accurate to say I’ve been leaving it up to the folks at Songza, and their delightfully surprising playlists.

If you’re not acquainted with Songza, it’s a website and app that provides streaming playlists for whatever mood you are in (from Energetic to Nocturnal) or activity you are doing (Girls Night Out? Lying Low on a Sunday Afternoon? Hanging out in the Man Cave?), as well as per the more traditional decades and genres. The possibilities are endless. And because Songza actually pays their staff to compile playlists, you end up with a good product.

And because Songza is an app, I can listen via my smartphone where I also track my run (with Nike+). Personally, the less stuff I can have strapped to my body when I head out the door, the better.

I tend to find a playlist I like and stick with it for a bit. Here are my favourite playlists for running, courtesy of Songza. Take a listen!

  1. Pick Up Your Feet
  2. Pop Kiss-Offs
  3. Beer in Your Water Bottle: Alt Rock Workout
  4. Guitars & PBRs
  5. Sunshine Indie Pop Workout
  6. Marathon Workout
  7. Massive Pop Hits: The Remixes

(Photo Credit: Brett Levin)

 

Gear Review: Nike Plus

This could just as easily be titled

An Ode to Nike Plus

Because, and this is so true, I am completely in love with the Nike+ app. (Pipe down, overly conservative mid-westerners, I am not suggesting marrying my app). This thing is awesome. I even have a basic Garmin and yet I head out most days clutching my smartphone so I can use the Nike+ app instead.

I should note that I am not in anyway getting paid by Nike, Nike+ or its affiliates to write this. But Nike, if you’re reading (ha!), I totally would. I’m just going to throw that out there.

The Nike+ app is a great product, especially for beginners in our sport. Although I had known about its existence for some time, I didn’t start using it until a friend recommended I do so when she picked up running. Like I said, I had a Garmin watch and I didn’t see the need for it. My Garmin is a highly accurate GPS tracker that also tells me my split times, makes sure I stay on pace and allows me to set intervals for long runs. What could the Nike+ app have on that?

Plus, the brand of smartphone I have (Google Nexus) makes it difficult for me to find an armband to lash it to my upper arm. I still don’t have one, but if you know of a good one worth ordering off of Amazon, please let me know.

The thing is, Nike+ is fast and easy to use, especially as the GPS tracker finds me very quickly. I live in a densely populated (read: skyscraper filled) area, so the GPS tracker on my Garmin could take upwards of 5 minutes to activate. Nike+ is free and available on all Android and iPhones, meaning many of my friends use the app already. Nike+ allows me to connect with them, through the app, and see how they are doing. Nike+ also publishes runs to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, if you are into those sorts of things. The social media and communication driven aspects of Nike+ are things the Garmin line of products, while more professional, just can’t keep up with. Finally, Nike+ is speaks to me throughout my run via my headphones, so I can automatically hear when I have hit the next km, what my splits are so far, and if I’ve just achieved a new milestone.

Frankly, using Nike+ is like having my own little cheerleader in my pocket. Ellie Goulding once came on over my headphones to congratulate me on my fastest mile ever.

Now, truth be told here, there are some things the Garmin does better than Nike+ is designed to do on its own. I don’t have the Nike watch, so maybe it fills in the gaps. Garmin is a far more accurate GPS tracker and is lighter than carrying around a smartphone with you. Its battery life also lasts longer, and the watch is waterproof-ish. Plus the elevation charts Garmin provides post run are second to none. Garmin also offers a full line of products from the beginner (which I have) up to the triathlete level watch. Nike+ just isn’t designed for it.

So come race day, I’ll have my Garmin strapped to my wrist. But for every day leading up to race day? Nike+ all the way!

Why Your Slowest Mile is Always the Same

Myrtle Cook of Canada (left) winning a preliminary heat in the women's 100 metres race at the VIIIth Summer Olympic Games / Myrtle Cook (à gauche), du Canada, remportant une éliminatoire pour l'épreuve du 100 mètres femmes, aux VIIIe Jeux Olympiques d'été

Yesterday I wrote, rather facetiously, that the second to last mile/km usually feels like the the longest of them all. It turns out that isn’t just something we all feel is true; it is true.

Israel Halperin at Memorial University in Newfoundland conducted a study which asked volunteers to exert the maximum amount of effort possible contracting their arms. Sometimes, they were told to do this for a predetermined number of reps, and other times they were not told how many they would be doing until the last rep. In each and every case, the effort would decrease with each rep until the last one. The last rep would either equate in effort to the first, or exceed it.

So what does this mean for us, as runners? It means that our bodies are programmed to reserve energy for a final effort, even when we are told to exert “all-out” effort prior to that. In other words, our brains are hard-wired to perform that last mile or km faster and with our reserve energy, even if we don’t plan on keeping reserve energy. We just can’t help it.

The take away is if you are trying to run even splits – each km or mile at the same pace through out – focus your mental game on maintaining your pace in the last few kms or miles of your run.

(Photo Credit: BiblioArchives)