My LDFs and I are headed to Virginia Beach for the Shamrock Marathon on March 20. I am very excited to have the group together (there are 8 of us going- three of us for the marathon, the rest for the half). It’s not often we can all commit to the same race because of crazy work and kid schedules. Exotic locations were considered, but slowly eliminated and we came to agreement on Virginia Beach. It’s no Big Sir or San Francisco, but hey we can all wear green and drink Yuengling (the sponsor) after the race—when in Rome…
The weather this winter has been a real test of this commitment. Doing a 20 mile run in 15 degrees (wind chill says -3), because that’s what the training schedule dictates, just kind of sucks. So you go in two pairs of tights, 3 shirts, 2 gloves, neck scarf, hat and if you happen to have them in your running cubby (which I did—yeah), Hotties for your toes and hands. We ran the Icicle 10 Miler Race for a change of pace that had icy roads, and turned out to be mostly uphill– oh, come on! Today was a balmy 26 at the start of an 18 mile long run. The roads are crazy because sidewalks have disappeared under mountains of snow. Cars are coming too close for comfort and drivers are less than enthused about our zealous outing on the road. Thanks to Yaktrax, the warm sunshine breaking through, and the distracting stories of LDFs, we made it through. But man, it’s tough out there. Whatever doubt I had about my commitment after a less than successful running year is slowing disappearing. Because frankly, if this is a test, we are passing. Take that Mother Nature!
So here are some of the training rituals/tips that are getting me through this weather:
1. Being flexible during the week, but staying true to my long run. I have had to move runs around because of snow storms. I check Weather.com daily to re-assess what can be done. Long runs are the exception. Those are obligatory and must be looked at differently. It’s more about coming up with ways to survive the long run rather then re-schedule it. We do, however, start later and slow down (icy roads are easier to navigate in daylight and at a slower pace).
2. Yaktrax!I simply would not be able to run in all this snow and ice without them. They provide sure footing and traction.
3. Layers. 15 degrees requires more layers that 26. Sometimes it’s hard to know and I have to strip down mid-run, but I hate being cold. My 15 year-old son gave me an pair of Asics arm warmers for Christmas and I wear them over my base layer and under my jacket. They provide arm warmth without an extra layer on the chest, which is great when I start warming up. Here is a recent Runner’s World winter running tips breakdown…this is helpful:
30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears). 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights. 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket. Windbrief for the fellas. Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava. Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, says Arribas, “Stay inside.”
4. Coconut Water–my newest obsession. I am not as thirsty in the winter so a bottle of Coconut Water is providing noticeably better hydration. I just tried Zico coconut water with pomagranate mid long run today and really liked it.
5. Pre-run grease up: Full facial sunscreen and lip balm before EVERY run on my face. This seems to protect my skin and acts like a barrier to the cold… I use Neutrogena Age Shield FACE spf 70 and peppermint Chapstick. Also, don’t forget to Body Glide up on all the right places or you will suffer with all those layers on the long runs.
6. A really warm hat that covers my ears and a neck scarf. I have a Nike fleece hat that is so awesome because it covers my ears and provides lightweight warmth.
7. Strip! I have to strip out of my clothes as soon as the run is over! I have an old pair of warm sweats that I transfer into if I am away from home for the ride back or if I have to get the kids going at home before a shower. And there just isn’t anything like a cup of strong, hot coffee after a cold run…heaven. [click to continue…]
A little fun first…this video is for all you fall marathoners out there. I was out for a run with my long distance friends yesterday, some of them had run the Chicago Marathon and they were back on the road. They are experienced marathoners and each have their own recovery methods. It’s amazing how great they looked. Here are five tips for recovery:
1–Keep moving after the race: walk as much as you can right after the race. A walk back to the hotel is great. A nap or at least a rest before hitting the town is also good. I am usually so excited it’s over that the adrenaline keeps me going until I collapse happily into bed. I feel like the more I move around (slowly) after any race, the better I feel the following week.
2–Re-hydrate immediately and eat as soon as you can: after all that goo/liquid during the race, it is sometimes hard to get it down but it is important for recovery. I usually eat a half of protein bar with a bottle of water/or a recovery drink (chocolate milk is good) until I can stomach dinner. A meal high in carbs with a little protein is perfect. A goat cheese, artichoke and roasted red pepper pizza with a glass of wine comes to mind…
3–Relieve muscle soreness/pain (right after): I always take an Advil right after a marathon. It takes away some of the muscle soreness. If I am really hurting in one area, I follow the RICE ( Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) routine. I am not one to jump into an ice bath, but I know runners that say it helps. I prefer a warm shower and some cozy clothes.
4-Rest: Take the next few days (or a week) off from running. Handle yourself with care. Your resistance will be down as your body recovers from the race. Eat good food and continue to hydrate. A massage feels great once the initial soreness goes. I like to stretch everyday (slowly-ouch!) to loosen muscles. [click to continue…]
Being a runner over 40 has presented new areas of interest (and concern) for me on the road and more importantly in my training & recovery off the road. I love to run and it’s great to see research being done on older runners…the Stanford study that shows that running slows aging or the Yale study that shows that older marathon runners (women in particular) are improving their running times more than younger runners.
I would like to share some insights and tips that I have learned along the way. Many of these tips can apply to all runners, but they definitely take on a new perspective as the years go on and we get older, wiser, and perhaps, faster…
(we are affiliates for some of the products listed w/ links below, however, we only recommend products that we personally use and enjoy)
1. Adding Miles:SLOWLY! Use the 10% rule. Add no more than 10% increase of the mileage each week. Here’s more detailed explanation and chart from FitSugar. 2. Warmup:As we get older, the body needs time to get going and giving it that time will help avoid injuries. See “The Perfect Warmup” from Runner’s World.
3.Cross-Training: Is a must for any runner, but as you age the relationship between cross-training and running becomes even more important. For a different, low impact, cross-training option, see our recent post on Aqua Running (or Pool Running). Core exercises have become another essential, here’s some good ones from Runners World.
4.Strength Training: There is a lot of information out there on lifting weights and strength training, but being careful to start this in the “right” way is important as we get older. Running Planet has done a nice job w/ laying out “The 8 rules of Strength Training”. We have some good videos on our Resources page.
5.Stretching/Yoga: Another must for the aging runner (and this has certainly been debated by many). Dara Torres proved this in her Olympic effort that stunned us all. She adhered to a strict resistance stretching regime (see previous post – Doing the Home Stretch with Dara Torres). I am not a huge fan of yoga, but here’s a good article by Runners World about a runner w/ a ITB injury who didn’t like yoga at the beginning, then became a convert. My always injury free LDF swears by power yoga!
6.Rest: This has become one of the most important parts of my training. If I don’t get enough rest, my body begins to break down. Listen (very closely) to your body.
7.Massage: Another Dara Torres staple and one of my personal favorites. It does not matter if you have a fabulous husband like I do or get from a pro, it works to relieve the stress of training and tired muscles. You can even do it yourself w/ some videos by Rich Poley who wrote “Self Massage for Athletes”.
8.Set a Goal: Having a goal or a race to strive for makesthe training have a purpose and keep me focused.
9.Training Programs: A little planning goes a long way. If possible, try to plan your training to run more often on softer surfaces like trails, dirt roads, grassy parks, or even the track. A few good programs are on our resource page. There are many good ones out there–find one that suits you.
10.The Track: Most marathon training programs will include track work as it helps develop the fast twitch muscles to build speed and lung power during a race…getting older does not mean getting less competitive:) If I am training for a marathon, it really makes a difference for me especially in the later miles of the race. Good article from Runner’s World called “Running in Circles”.
11.Injury/Recovery: This one is hard for me as I have had many… at 46, I still like to run fast. There are several common injuries to running and I think I have had them all. See “Coming back from an injury” posts. I have learned to recognize my body’s warning signs and back off. Many of these tips (see Rest, Diet, Stretching/Yoga, Massage, Weight/BMI, Orthotics, and more) are meant to help avoid injuries or help w/ recovery.
12.Running with Music:Running with music can help motivation and provide a needed distraction. There are many studies showing how music can improve your performance. Obviously, you also need to be aware of your safety and surroundings when running, but most runners can practice common sense here. If you make a playlist, be aware of a song’s BPM (beats per minute) and be sure the songs you choose are not too slow as you may unconsciously slow your pace to the beat. Find out more about BPMs and find over 30 hrs of music specifically selected for running here: Bold Pace Music
13.Weight/BMI: It seems that fast marathoners have a low Body Mass Index (BMI). Marathon Guide has a quick tool to calculate your BMI. Knowing yours can help to find the “right” BMI for your best running performance. See also post: “What’s the ‘right’ BMI for a woman marathoner?”
14.Running in Different types of Weather: I am not a treadmill runner, so I will run in anything short of a blizzard. With the right layers of clothing this is possible. However, if you are training in summer for a fall race, beware of weather differences. The weather during your race may be very different then when you are training. Don’t be discouraged if you are not able to run 17 miles the way you think you should when you are in 80-90 degree heat and high humidity. Here’s some good tips for running in the rain.
15.Travel Running: Always bring the running shoes along! Some of my best runs have been among the monuments of parks, cityscapes and beaches of sand. Hotels (see this post that mentions WestinRun) now will provide maps (and sometimes runners) to guide you. With the help of MapMyRun you can find a route from anywhere. Take a look at some of our Travel running posts. Become a MapMyRun.com Member and get access to Free Running Cue Sheets and Printed Running Maps.Type in City, State, and Zip to see maps here:
21. Running Clothes/Bra: I like my running clothes sporty–not funky, but this is obviously personal preference. A good running bra will go a long way…avoid cotton at all cost. I have learned that running skirts are the most polarizing of all apparel items. However, if you love wearing a skirt, check out the Skirtchaser Race Series…looks like fun!
22.Running Shoes/Socks: Running shoes are so personal the only way to really find a pair is to go to a running store and keep trying them on until you find one that feels comfortable. There are tons of shoe guides for different types of feet that are helpful in narrowing it all down. Learning about pronation and choosing a shoe that fits whether you have normal pronation, underpronation (or supination), or overpronation (or hyper-pronation) is key. Runner’s World has a good article along with videos on pronation here. I have changed my shoe once. I alternate pairs of three for marathon training (it used to be two but with my foot issues, it’s now three). Here’s Runner’s World’s “Spring 2009 Running Shoe Guide”. The Asics Gel Kayano 15′s are the “Editor’s Choice” winners and also the shoes I use. A few other quick tips:
Measure your feet: As you age, your foot size may gradually change. Make sure salesperson measures your foot while you are standing up
Shop later in day: As the day goes on, you feet get slightly larger.
Orthotics & socks: Wear socks you use and bring orthotics to store when trying out shoes. Find “dry-wick” type of socks instead of cotton.
Check wear: Most shoes give you between 300 – 500 miles of running. Keep track of the miles (see #23- Running Log). Replacing shoes can avoid unnecessary injuries. Check for wear on soles and inside the shoe as well.
Local running store: Find a good store that specializes in running shoes. Bring in your old shoes when looking for new ones. A good running shoe specialist should be able to look at old shoe and note the wear/fit when choosing a proper new shoe. As about return policy, many stores will let you run in the shoes and return them if they cause problems. Once you’ve found the shoes that work for you, you may be able to find the shoes again on-line at places like Runners Warehouse (a bold pace readers get 15% off), Overstock, or Holabird Sports.
Break in the shoe: Don’t wear a new shoe to a marathon, be sure you have had time to break it in. However, when buying a new shoe, it should feel good when you are trying it on.
Thumb-width: Have a thumb width between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I wear a 1/2 size bigger to make sure I have room in the toe box.
Get medical advice: If you have a persistent problem with your feet, get the advice of a medical professional. Believe me, waiting for a foot to heal can be agonizing. Don’t make it take any longer by waiting to get help.
23. Orthotics: I overpronate and could not live without these. If you have foot issues (plantar fasciitis, heal spurs, significant overpronation or underpronation, etc.), I’d recommend seeing a sports doc to consider orthotics as your new sole-mates:)
24.Running Log: Memory is not one of my strongest assets, so having a log to record my training keeps track of: weekly mileage, meals, shoe purchases (so I know when to retire shoes), favorite routes/runs, etc.
25. Running Watch/GPS: At heart, I am more of a zen runner (would rather not wear a watch or calculate each mile’s pace…just run), but the NYC marathon last year changed that for me. I went out too fast and had a hard time at the end. I now wear one again. There are great watches and GPS devices (see article from NY Times) that make it easy to calculate pace/time/distance. Another option in a marathon is to make use of “pacers” at a race…here’s Clif Bar’s Marathon Pace Team info.
26. Running Bag: See “What’s in your Running Bag? 10 Essential Items for Taking your Run on the Road”
27. Chaffing: Avoid blisters, use BodyGlide, Vaseline or new Asics Chafe Free. Apply anywhere that rubs…feet, nipples, etc. For more on Asics, see “The End of Run Chaffing?”
28. ipods: The must have for runners (even if you need to borrow from your child). I understand why a lot of runners do not like to use during races , but if you love music, this can be a great way to relax and keep going (ipods are now allowed at some races, see post “Music to my ears”). Be sure to choose songs that work w/ your pace/BPM. Want to get a weekly “running song of the week”? Follow @boldpacemusic on Twitter.
29. Reading about Running: There are so many fabulous books out there on running that are fun to read. They can motivate and excite you. We have a few posted on our Amazon Store.