Perfect your Run this Spring

I’ll begin this post with patience. We all get sucked into running too much on those fantastic spring days, going out because friends are, or to try and keep up with Strava! Often we sign up for a race, or get overly inspired by the weather, and run too fast, too far, too soon. This is not conducive to injury-free running. What is? Patience. Only add on mileage when your previous week felt good, and only add a little (maybe 5 more miles to your total week, or a few minutes added onto each daily run). Even if you walk an extra mile at the end of each run, that will eventually lead to your ability to run farther. Be patient, fitness will come in time.

That leads me to consistency. Before you can run a ton of injury-free miles, you need to be consistent with your running. If you are able to run 5-7 days a week without pain, and without feeling drained by the end of the week, then mileage can be added. Too many people skip weekly runs, just to hammer out way too many miles on the weekend. This isn’t sustainable in the long run. It is good to have days and even weeks off, but not every weekday, leading to a major catch up on the weekend. 

Now onto recovery. I often have a training cycle, which for me means, I run 2 or 3 weeks adding in mileage-followed by one “off” week. For example, if I run 75 miles week 1 then I will run 80 miles week two, 85 miles week three, and (depending on how hard I ran those miles) 30-50 miles on week 4.  In each of those weeks I also work in some easy days. If Monday I run 16 miles hard, then Tuesday I may just jog or even walk and jog 5 miles. That Tuesday is my recovery day, so I let my body dictate how far I will go by feel. I also put food under recovery because it helps our bodies recover. I like to make a smoothie with whole foods after my runs, my standard is frozen berries, frozen banana, coconut milk, juice, ginger, cinnamon, spirulina, avocado and some greens. I think eating a lot of whole foods, and still having your favorite indulgence once and awhile is key.


A strong core, good posture, and correct form are also important to stay uninjured when ramping up your mileage. As we get tired, our gait tends to become sloppy, and a sloppy gait is a recipe for disaster. Planks, single leg squats, and bridges are just a few of the core exercises I try to do on my workout days. For me, a correct gait is standing tall with a neutral pelvis, landing mid foot, and letting my heel softly touch before push off. This can also be called “natural” running. 

Finally there is love, or drive, or determination, or whatever you want to call it. There has to be a reason you are getting your shoes on to get out there and run. Without it, there can be no consistency or patience, or really any injury-free mileage gains. If you are out there grinding out miles and not having any fun, you will sabotage yourself. This is also why flexibility is important. Cycling, swimming, pilates, barre, yoga… help your fitness. Be flexible and allow yourself to try other types of workouts. Perhaps you are stuck in a rut, or the weather is just terrible..don’t force the run day in and day out. Try something new, allow yourself to really miss running when you aren’t training for something specific and feeling a slump coming on.

I hope this inspires you to get out there and go further than you have in the past! Happy Spring!




Rachel Bell Kelley loves to explore new trails and new vegan foods. With her background in landscape painting she is drawn to, and inspired by, the beauty of the outdoors. She can often be found running with her husband, friends, and favorite trail dog, Emmit. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and her blog Trail Wisp(erings).

Top Apps for Runners

This is a guest contribution from Jared Harris.

Running helps reduce stress. This is something you probably already know, and it may be a big reason you run on a regular basis. When I started running on a regular basis, stress reduction was a big reason behind doing so. But this activity can be tedious, and sometimes it can be hard to get a sense of progress and carrying around a pen and paper to track how you're doing is inconvenient.

Fortunately, there are mobile apps that can help you to track progress, have fun, see new routes, and more. As mobile devices become more prevalent, I'm sure there will only be more running apps released in the future. And because our mobile devices can cause a lot of stress (like having to deal with constant emails, texts, tweets, etc.), I thought I'd list some good stress-reducing running apps.


Zombies, Run!


Zombies have taken over pop culture, so why not include the undead in your jog? This story-based running app was co-created with award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman. Working via your phone's GPS, the app tracks your progress as you run from hordes of zombies, giving you instructions along the way. Just like a "real" zombie chase, if you speed up, you'll put more distance between you and the creatures, but if you slow down...well, you can guess what that means. It's $3.99 for Android and iPhone.



Runkeeper


This intuitive, convenient app lets you map out your routes, log how far you've gone, keep track of your current/average pace, and compare your previous runs. You can also log your goals and track your progress in regard to speed, distance, weight loss, or total miles. Plus, this one's free, and it's available on Android and iPhone.

 

Ghost Race


No, it's not an app that lets you run from spooky ghosts. But here's what it can do: encourage you to hit the goal you've been wanting. The "Ghost" the title refers to is yourself. Here's how it works: you pick a distance or pace you want to hit and then you train against the ghost. Compare your current and previous performances and receive audio cues of your progress.

This one's $.99 and is only available on iPhone, though there is a free, less robust version.


S Health


You don't always have to download apps to phones from a store. That's why I've chosen to mention S Health: because it comes with a phone (the current Galaxy S4 and the soon-coming Galaxy S5). According to Verizon Wireless, you can "use S Health to track your steps, challenge friends, earn badges and get on-demand healthy eating advice." The social aspects of the app can help you stay motivated and committed to your runs while competing against your friends or just other runners who use the app in the area.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, because there are more and more of these kinds of apps being released on a regular basis. But these are a few ideas to get you started if you've never tried out a running app before.

Have you ever used any running apps? If so, which one is your favorite?



Jared Harris is a 20-something online writer who tends to tackle topics within the worlds of fitness, technology, and gaming. He often finds a way to make sure those three subjects cross paths in his work.

Skratch Labs joins #VegRunChat this Sunday

Thanks everyone for directing your attention here this week as we get the final touches complete on the new #VegRunChat site. Actually, the site is taking a little longer than expected due to some added last-minute features. But we believe you'll be very happy with the final product. That's right, we're saving a few surprises for the final launch. So stay tuned..

{Update: The site is complete! Follow the link above after you enter the giveaway.}

Topic

On #VegRunChat this week we'll be talking about "all-natural" hydration. Sure, Gatorade is technically vegan and vegetarian, and it offers loads of electrolytes (something we athletes need). But, does anyone actually like the taste of that stuff? Even more important, can you pronounce all of their ingredients (some which have been in the news recently)?

Hydration is vital to our performance in much the same way as food. And combining natural plant-based foods with water can replenish your body quicker than ever. This is why we're excited to have Skratch Labs joining us. They make hydration not only effective, but tasty!

"With just a hint of sweetness it's flavored with only real fruit and contains no artificial sweeteners, coloring agents or preservatives. That means it has everything you need and nothing you don't. The result is a simple and clean taste that you'll actually enjoy drinking." - Skratch Labs


Chat starts at 9pm ET Sunday night on Twitter. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below and we will be sure to help.

Sponsor

This Sunday we welcome Skratch Labs to their first ever #VegRunChat. With an assortment of all-natural hydration mixes, Skratch Labs has become a go-to resource for athletes looking to improve performance. And why shouldn't they? The founder of Skratch Labs himself is a sports science doctor who has coached a number of world class athletes.

How they started...

Seeing a need for a natural sports drink that actually tasted good (and athletes would drink without watering it down), Dr Lim got busy in his kitchen blending various formulas. I'd say he got it right - when demand grew beyond his inner circle of athletes, Dr. Lim partnered with a group of close friends to launch Skratch Labs in Boulder, Colorado. Today, Skratch Labs offers a variety of hydration mixes, athletic gear, and recipe books.

Visit their site to learn more!

Giveaway

Are you ready to try Skratch Labs hydration for yourself? If so, you're in luck. This week they're giving away three different giveaway prizes:

~ Assorted Drink Mix Singles

~ Waterproof Phone Bag with Drink Mix Singles and Stickers

~ Skratch Labs Cookbook and Drink Mix Combo

To get your name in the hat for one of these awesome prizes, simply use the widget below. All participants must reside in the U.S. and be present during Sunday's chat. Remember to come back each day for multiple entries, and better chances of winning. See you all Sunday!

Skratch Labs Giveaway

Is it motivation or energy you're lacking?

digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net
A common misconception among runners (and other athletes) is that because they don't feel like working out, they must not be motivated. For some this may be true, but for most there's another issue that should be addressed. If you're even thinking about working out, you clearly have some motivational drive - even if it's just to keep your PT happy. So what else could be holding you back? Why is it so dang hard to get out of bed each morning to tackle your workout?

 How about your energy levels?

As you know, I love talking food. And why not, it determines how we function as humans (and athletes). And the food you're eating could be negatively impacting the energy stores in which you rely to keep you going. 

Often times I see endurance athletes (on social media) complaining about not wanting to get out of bed. They'll often plead, "I just need someone to motivate me." Now, I know that these particular runners run 50-80 miles a week on average. Why would they think they need motivation? Oh wait... these are the same athletes that claim to eat entire pepperoni pizzas in one sitting. Or, they're the runners who share those awkward bar pics on Friday and Saturday nights. 

What appears to be happening is the word "Motivation" is being used synonymously with "I'm completely irresponsible with my health and therefore my energy is lacking."  Now don't get me wrong, if you enjoy a nice brew from time-to-time, that's perfectly fine. And if you enjoy highly saturated animal meats, that's your deal. I just want to clarify what the underlying issue really is. 


If you continually feed your body toxins, highly processeds foods, acid-forming animal proteins, and saturated fats, you're NOT going to feel good. But, provide your body with healthy, plant-based, cholesterol-free, whole foods, and your energy stores may surge to their highest levels ever. Yes, runners can find whole plant-based foods to fuel their runs!

One of the first things I noticed after switching to a plant-based (vegan) diet was that my energy skyrocketed. Some of this was due to the weight coming off and the fact that I no longer felt bloated from cheese and dairy. But eating raw fruits and vegetables (with the help of my Vitamix blender) gave entirely new meaning to the word energy. I even cut back on my consumption of coffee. I just didn't need the caffeine boost like I once thought.

The Bottom Line

I tell you all of this to say that making a few dietary changes can improve your energy from the inside out. And this energy may be all you're really missing. Don't blame lack of motivation for missing a workout here and there. Start your day off with healthy choices and your body will follow!

Runner of the Week 2/28/14

Today's runner is one I've been following for some time. He's been both an inspiration to me, and everyone in the #VegRunChat Community. Enjoy his story, and remember to show him some love in the comments below.


James Thorne
"I'm originally from the UK but now reside in Chicago. I started running about 3 years ago to help shed a few pounds and have been running ever since."

Thanks for stopping by James. Tell us a little more about how you got started with running.

When my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child, I decided to give up smoking and try to lose a few pounds. The running really took off once my daughter was born, she would fall asleep very easily in her jogging stroller, so we put in a lot of miles in her first year. Pushing a 30lb stroller is great strength training!

Are you Vegan or Vegetarian? For how long? Why did you decide to give plant-based a try?

I became a Vegan about 2 and a half years ago. I skipped the Vegetarian bit and went straight into Veganism. I watched the documentary Forks over Knives and decided there and then to become a Vegan. The health benefits of a plant based diet are overwhelming, less injures, more energy, quicker recovery times.

What keeps you motivated?

My curiosity to see just how far I can push myself physically and mentally

Do you have a favorite race length?

Marathon

If you could run with anyone (living/dead), who would it be?

Steve Prefontaine, his passion and enthusiasm for running and life were infectious.

What is your all-time favorite race? Why?

The Chicago Marathon, it was my first marathon.
It's a distance in which you experience so many different emotions, nervousness, excitement, doubt, pain and joy, over and over again. And to experience all that in my new adopted home town was very special. 


Do you have a favorite pre-race food?

Bananas and peanut butter, oh and coffee of course.

Post-race food?

Oat meal with more bananas and peanut butter.

What piece of running gear could you not possibly live without?

Some form of GPS running application on my iPhone. I like to track my distance and pace and how many miles I cover over the years.

Do you have any current goals? Races?

I am planning to make the step up from the marathon distance to ultras. Starting in April with a 50k (32 miles), and then a 50 miler in November. And if all goes well, a 100 miler sometime in 2015.

What advice would you give to someone who's new to running?

Amazing things happen when you run. It will take time, you may have bad days, you might hurt, you might doubt yourself, but if you put in the time and effort and keep persisting, the pay off's will last a life time.

Very well put! Thanks for stopping by James, and for sharing your passion for running with us. It's been a great pleasure getting to know you on a more personal level. I look forward to following your journey into ultra-marathon greatness!

If you would like to find out more about James, or just tell him, "Hey, I saw your story on Forks to Feet," you can find him on Twitter @TheEnglishVegan. Oh, and don't forget to leave him a comment below!



Are you a runner? We would love to learn more about you! Please click here and submit your information to be featured as our "Runner of the Week." We showcase a new runner every Friday!
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