Tag: training

You did it! Building an off-season program

 

You did it! Building an off-season program.

If you just ran the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon (or 10K or 5K) or are soon running a different fall half marathon or other goal race, you have trained hard and tapered carefully for the race. To stay healthy and injury-free, it is equally important for you to follow a good plan for recovery in the days and weeks following your race.

3-7 days post-race

  1. Continue with light activity – walking and/or short bouts of easy jogging are perfect.
  2. Follow the “one mile per day” rule: On any given day, don’t run more miles than days after the race. For example, one week after the race, do not exceed seven miles running on that day.
  3. Expect more deep fatigue than earlier in the week. The adrenaline rush of finishing the race may be wearing off, so don’t be surprised if your soreness and/or fatigue increases during this period.
  4. Expect Post-Race Syndrome (see below).

The mental game – Prepare for Post-Race Syndrome

You may be surprised at how you feel mentally after your half marathon, 10K or 5K, especially if it was your first race at that distance and/or you ran hard and achieved a personal record. Instead of feeling excited about your accomplishment, you may feel depressed or anxious, or you may feel like you don’t have any motivation. This is common and stems from your depleted physical state in combination with the fact that you have lost one of the major goals and sources of structure in your life (your race training plan). Here are some tips on how to break out of Post-Race Syndrome:

  1. Analyze your race result and process – this will help you determine what you need to do differently (and/or the same) in your next race.
  2. Set another goal (not necessarily a race or running goal). You need to restore the structure in your life that you have lost now that your race training is over. You may not want to do another half marathon or other race as your next major goal, but set some kind of new goal. Perhaps a shorter race or an accomplishment in another sport or hobby.
  3. View rest as part of your training plan. Remind yourself that during this month of recovery, you are following a plan – a recovery plan. This plan is every bit as important as your ramp-up of your long runs. It is critical to follow the recovery plan to avoid injury and allow your body to recover from the stresses of the race.
  4. Ease into some cross-training. Be gentle, but starting a new and different physical activity will help break up boredom and spark your interest in something new. Physically, this will also help prevent overuse injuries that might arise from more running.
  5. Continue to eat a healthy diet and hydrate to aid your physical recovery as well as your mental recovery. Strenuous racing can deplete your immune system and other body processes and a healthy diet is crucial to the repair and recovery of these systems. In addition, feeling better physically will aid in your mental recovery. 
  6. Appreciate your accomplishment. This is key – take some time to think about what you have accomplished and how special it is. You worked hard to complete your goal race and you deserve to feel great about it.

1-3 weeks post-race

Ease back into your training – this will be similar to your taper, except in reverse:

  • Stick with easy work the first week – 25-35% or normal mileage (or less if you really pushed it during the race).
  • Continue to follow the “one mile per day” rule discussed above.
  • 35-60% of normal mileage in week 2.
  • 60-80% of normal mileage in week 3.

It may take 2-3 weeks for you to achieve a full recovery, especially if you raced hard. As you ease back into training, continue to focus on fueling your body:

  • Eat a healthy diet. As discussed above, your body needs high-quality fuel for the repair of tissue. This continues to be the case for a month after a strenuous race. 
  • Hydrate. Your body continues to need adequate hydration to flush inflammation from the body and for the repair and rebuilding of tissue.

4 weeks post-race and beyond

Now is the time to start thinking about your winter training plan. If you followed the recovery plan above, you should be back to your base running mileage – probably 2-4 days per week and 12-20 miles per week. If you want to get a jump start on spring racing, it is best to maintain this base mileage throughout the winter. Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Limit speed work during the winter. Give your body a break from some of the stresses of race training.
  2. Continue with (or start) strength training. This will help you get stronger and avoid injury in preparation for your spring racing season.
  3. Continue with hill training. This will build strength as well. 
  4. Prepare for the elements with a plan to layer for outdoor running or by finding a good indoor track or treadmill for your winter training. Edward-Elmhurst Health and Fitness has a great indoor track. 
  5. Consider maintaining a longer run every two weeks through the winter. This will keep your endurance high so that after an early spring ramp up, you can run a spring half marathon (and maybe further ramp up for a late spring marathon). This long run should not exceed the length of your longest training run for your fall Naperville race. 

Now is also a good time to start thinking about your first spring goal race. This race should use your just-completed fall race as a springboard. Depending on your fall race result, you can target your spring race to accomplish new goals:

  • If your goal for this past fall was to finish your race, for next spring try running the same race distance with a time goal. Target for a 5-10% time improvement, depending on race distance. To achieve this, your spring training plan will need to include speed work 1-2 times per week starting in mid- to late-winter. 
  • If your goal this past fall involved a time, you can set a more aggressive target. Again, a 5-10% time reduction should work, depending on how aggressive you were in your fall race. Your spring training plan will need to include appropriately challenging speed work in this case as well. 
  • If you want to work on endurance, consider a spring race that is a longer distance than your fall race. If you ran a fall 5K, move up to a spring 10K. If you ran the 10K in fall, try a half marathon this coming spring. To achieve these goals, you will need to increase your weekly training mileage starting in mid to late winter. Most importantly, you will need to ramp up the length of your long run in anticipation of your goal race. You will need to plan to ramp up your longest training run to 12-14 miles for the half marathon or 6-8 miles for the 10K. 

For all of the above goals, consider hiring a running coach to create a personalized training program or try following one of the online training programs that are widely available. Choose one that matches your time and distance goals. 

By following these tips, you will get through winter ready to ramp up for spring racing. Have a great winter – see you next year!

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

No surprises: Planning for race day

 

No surprises: Planning for race day

You’ve done almost all of your training and your Healthy Driven Naperville or other fall half marathon (or 10K or 5K) and it is coming up soon. That’s very exciting — and probably a bit scary. Here are some tips to get you ready the night before and day of the big race.

Fueling and hydration. Hopefully, you have been keeping track of your hydration and fueling the night before long practice runs and determining what works best for you. If you haven’t, here are some general guidelines:

  • Food: Your night-before meal should be balanced. Aim for 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 30 percent fat. You can eat slightly more than normal, but don’t go crazy. Avoid fried food, red meat, dairy, nuts and other high-fiber foods for 1-2 days before the race to prevent gastric distress during the race. I also recommend that you don’t sample any new foods or drinks at the race expo. On race day, keep any eating light, or use Gatorade Endurance or a similar sports drink to provide pre-race fueling and hydration. 
  • Hydration: Continue to hydrate well. Your daily intake should be approximately 0.5 ounce of water per pound of body weight every day (including the liquid in food). As a rule, for race day, two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before you run, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.

Activity. Limit activity the day before the race. Unless you are an elite runner, you probably don’t want to run at all the day before. In addition, limit any other physical activity.

  • Don’t do any big house projects or lift heavy items. If you feel like you need to do something the day before your race, go for a short walk (0.5 mile to 1 mile) and leave it at that.
  • If you go to the race expo the day before, try to limit the amount of walking you do while there.
  • If you stretch regularly, some light stretching the day before will help you feel less stiff and sluggish.

Generally, try to relax the day before the race. Watch a movie, read a book, do whatever relaxes you and will get your mind off of the race. The mileage taper might leave you feeling antsy, bloated, irritable and possibly achy and stiff. Make sure you move around periodically throughout the day before the race to avoid getting too stiff. 

Homework and preparation: The following plan-ahead tasks will ensure a worry-free race day.

  • Review the course map and weather forecast. Make sure you know the course, including the locations of the hydration stations. Prepare to bring any hydration or nutrition that isn’t offered on the race course. Determine if you will need any extra layers or rain protection before or during the race.
  • Lay out clothing and equipment. The morning of the race you will be nervous and forgetful. Lay out everything you will need the night before (if not earlier). This includes:
  1. Your race outfit. This should be the outfit (top, bottom, socks, shoes, hat/headband/ponytail holder, sunglasses, watch or smart watch, etc.) you used for long runs so you don’t get any unexpected chafing, blisters or discomfort. Lay out your Bodyglide or similar product if you use it. Attach your timing chip (if your race uses them) to your shoe per the instructions and pin your race number to your shirt or shorts. If you pin it to your shorts, make sure you can get the shorts on and off with the race number pinned on them. You might need to use a port-a-potty on the racecourse, and you won’t want to be unpinning and re-pinning your number during the race.  If your race number has the timing chip on the back, make sure you pin the number on your clothing right-side-up – some chip readers don’t read these chips if they are sideways. 
  2. Cash/credit card and ID.  Always bring these when you are racing – you may need to find your own way home. Some of the larger races are very crowded at the finish and it may be difficult to find your friends and family after the race. Make a plan with your support team about exactly where you will meet after the race. You might also consider bringing your phone if you have trained for the race while carrying it.
  3. Gear check bag. Consider bringing throwaway clothing layers (in case it’s cold before the race), a plastic garbage bag (you can make holes for your head and arms and wear it in case it rains or you can sit on it before the race if the ground is wet or damp), toilet paper, Bodyglide, sunscreen, bug repellent, masks, hand sanitizer, morning and pre-race hydration and fueling and a course map for last-minute reference. You will be able to check your gear check bag filled with any unused items at the start line before the race. Include some of those extra layers in your gear check bag for after the finish. Make sure you don’t put anything too valuable in your gear check bag.
  4. Your (car) keys. Set your car keys next to your gear bag for the morning if you are driving yourself to the race. Also, be sure to check the directions and route and determine where you will park. Note that some roads will be closed on race morning so plan accordingly. It never hurts to have a back-up place to park. 
  • Set two alarm clocks. You can go to bed a bit early, but no more than an hour early. Don’t expect to get a great night’s sleep the night before. Don’t worry, you will be sufficiently rested from the nights leading up to the race. You can always take a nap on race day afternoon after you get home.

Careful planning and preparation will allow you to wake up on race morning, get dressed and grab your gear bag without worrying about forgetting something. Get to the race location early so you have time to find parking, use the port-a potty and warm up. Finish your pre-race hydration and fueling and then relax and get ready to enjoy the race.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

The final training weeks: What you need to know

 

The final training weeks: What you need to know

By now, your long runs are getting a lot longer. Depending on your training plan, your longest training run may be 12-14 miles for the half marathon, 6-8 miles for the 10K or 3-6 miles for the 5K. It’s time to start final preparations for your race. Here are some tips for these last few weeks.

  1. Use the final long run (or two if you have time) as a rehearsal for race day. Here’s how:

·            Meals. Dinner the night before your long run and your morning pre-run meal should be exactly what you plan to eat before your race to make sure it will not upset your stomach and/or cause unplanned bathroom visits. Make sure the meals fuel your muscles sufficiently for the long-run effort with a balanced mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Use the last few long runs to experiment with quantity, type and timing of food to determine what works best for you.

·            Hydration. Similarly, fluid intake the day before and morning of your long run should mimic race-day hydration. As a rule, for race day (and long-run practice days), two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before you run, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.

·            Fueling and hydration during the long run. During the long run, drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes. Adjust this as necessary based on your own “sweat rate.” For half marathon long runs, consider replacing half of the water with an equal amount of electrolyte drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) You can mix the water and electrolyte drink for convenience and digestibility. Here again, mimic the quantities and frequencies of fueling and hydration that you will use on race day. Pay attention to the location of the water stops in your goal race and the type and location of nutrition (sports drinks, gels, etc.) that will be provided during your race. This information should be on the race website and on the course map. Practice with the specific brands of nutrition prior to the race to make sure they agree with your stomach. The Naperville Half Marathon serves water and Gatorade Endurance Formula and will have six hydration stations approximately every two miles (they are marked on the course map.) The half marathon will also have Cliff Shot Energy Gels at mile 8. The Naperville 10K will offer water and Gatorade Endurance formula at aid stations at miles 2, 4 and 6. The Naperville 5K will serve water and Gatorade Endurance Formula at one water stop near mile 2.

·            Attire. For your long run, you should wear the outfit you plan to wear during the race: shorts/tights, tops/jog bra, socks and shoes. Also practice with hat/headband, sunglasses, smart watch, face mask and/or hydration belt/pack if you are planning to use any of these in the race. I recommend using a fairly new (but broken in) pair of shoes for the half marathon or 5K. A common strategy is to wear a new pair of shoes for one or two of your shorter, mid-week runs, then use them for one or two of your longest runs and then wear them for the race. This will give you shoes that are broken in but still with plenty of cushion and life. Make sure you wash any new clothing and practice with all race day clothing to ensure you know how to combat chafing and blisters with your chosen outfit. Bodyglide is a great product to combat chafing, but you will need to practice with race day clothing to determine where and in what quantity to apply the Bodyglide.

·            Terrain. Mimic terrain/running surface, elevation changes, climate/temperature and especially the time of day of the race for your long run. If you are currently running in the afternoons, now is the time to switch your long run to a race time start (7 a.m. for the Naperville races). If possible, run part or all of your long run on the actual course (traffic permitting, of course) or run it on a similar surface (primarily asphalt for the Naperville races).

·            Pacing. If you are going for a specific goal time for the half marathon, 10K or 5K, practice your race pace for at least the final few miles of your long run. Also, practice an even or negative split (running the second half of the long run faster than the first half.) This type of pacing will help you maximize your performance and not burn your glycogen reserves too early in the run. If this is your first half marathon or 5K, you should not have a goal time and instead focus on finishing with an even pace.

  1. Be smart about sleep.
  • Shift your sleep schedule to race-day wake-up time requirements over the final week before the race. That way when you wake up on race morning, your wake-up time will feel natural.
  • Try to get adequate sleep during the weeks leading up to the race. For most people, this is 7-8 hours per night.
  1. Keep your exercise program the same within 4-6 weeks of the race. Specifically, avoid starting any of the following:
  • New sports
  • New cross-training mode
  • Major, physical house project
  • Weight training (Note: If you already weight train, maintain current weights, repetitions and sets for the 4-6 weeks prior to the race. Don’t increase weights, etc. Stop weight training 5-7 days before your race.)
  1. Try to limit significant life stresses during the weeks prior to the race. If possible, avoid job changes, household moves, significant travel and other disruptions to your normal lifestyle.
  1. Fine-tune running mileage.
  • Follow a two-week taper for the half marathon. During the taper, even though you are decreasing mileage, maintain the intensity (speed) of your runs. The runs will just be shorter. Here’s what your two-week taper should look like:
  • Week 1: 30% mileage reduction
  • Week 2: 60% mileage reduction
  • Run little or no mileage 2-3 days prior to the race. If you feel you must run to loosen up the day before the race, don’t run more than a mile.
  • For the 10K and 5K, you can do a one-week taper, reducing your mileage for the week before the race by 40-50%, again keeping your speed the same as prior to the taper. 
  1. Get fueling and hydration on point. Prior to the race, either follow your normal diet (during which your mileage reduction will allow you to store glycogen) or a carbohydrate-loading approach (where you slowly ramp up carbohydrate consumption and decrease protein and fat consumption during the final week before the race). The carbohydrate-loading approach is probably unnecessary for the half marathon, 10K or 5K unless you ran into problems maintaining your energy level during your long runs. Regardless of which approach you take, follow these guidelines 2-3 days before your race:
  • Stay well hydrated throughout the week.
  • Drink water freely and often during the 24-48 hours before the event.
  • 2-3 days before the race: Eat low-fiber, low-glycemic index foods.
  • 1-2 days before the race: Consider avoiding fried foods, red meat, dairy, nuts or roughage to avoid gastric distress during the race.

Bonus tip. How will feel during the taper? The reduction in physical workload during the taper will take an unexpected toll on you. Your body is used to exercise and your body will react to its absence. You will likely experience symptoms such as:

  • Feeling “antsy”/hyperactive/anxious
  • Feeling bloated, fat and sluggish
  • Irritability
  • Muscle twinges, aches and tightness

If you feel any or all of this, good job. Your taper is going according to plan and you’re on track to be able to do your best on race day. More important than anything, stay relaxed. Do a bit of stretching to loosen any tight muscles. Consider scheduling a sports massage a few days before the race, but only if you have previously had this treatment in your training program.

Practicing these elements during your final long run and weeks of training will help you maximize the best strategies for you and reduce your race-day anxiety by ensuring you are as prepared as possible.

In my next post I will have some more detailed race-day preparation tips.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

Four Weeks Left – Finishing Strong

 

Four Weeks Left – Finishing Strong

By now you have probably been running regularly for at least a few months and may be having trouble staying motivated to keep consistent with your running plan. Now is not the time to let up on your fall race training plan, so I’m sharing my best tips to help you stay on track. Hopefully, a few (or a lot) of these ideas will work for you.

Add cross-training. As I discussed in my recent blog post on injury prevention and care, cross-training can help preserve and improve your fitness when you are injured and can’t run. Cross- training helps in other ways, too. It not only improves overall fitness, but can also keep your running from feeling stale and monotonous. Mixing up your workouts and including cardio other than running can really help you stick to your overall running plan and avoid boredom.

Focus on self-care. Taking care of yourself can help reduce mental and physical stress. Less stress allows you to stay motivated and committed to your running plan.

Get yourself out the door. Sometimes, just taking the first step is the most powerful thing you can do. To make sure you complete each run in your plan, consider the following:

  • Schedule it. Put each run on your calendar – on a specific day and at a specific time. Include the duration (including driving, changing and showering time, as necessary) and location. Your runs need to carry the same importance in your life as your other meetings and obligations. By committing to a specific time, you can avoid scheduling conflicting activities and stay on track for your runs. If an unavoidable conflict arises, don’t just cancel your run. Reschedule it to a different time or non-running day later in the week.
  • Prepare. Make it as easy as possible to go on your run. Lay out your clothing, shoes and accessories the night before or some time in advance of your run. Charge your smart watch and/or phone in advance so that you are ready to go. Set aside your pre-run hydration in the refrigerator so you can easily grab it and hydrate before your run. Have your sunscreen and bug repellent handy for when you leave the house. (I keep mine on a table in the garage so that I can apply it on my way out the door.)

Have a goal (race). Training for a specific event will always increase your commitment and motivation to stick to your running plan. If you aren’t already training for one of the fall Healthy Driven Naperville Races, choose one of them or a goal race that is a reasonable distance and calendar date for your fitness level. Tell friends and family about the goal race, put the race on your calendar, post your plans on social media. Do anything you can to make it more real and tangible. If you are not interested in running in an actual race with other people, lots of races (including the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon, 10K and 5K) have a virtual option.

Keep variety in the mix.  Make sure you include runs on different paths and trails as well as different distances and paces so you don’t get bored with your running plan. Mixing up the terrain, running surface and pace will provide variety for you mentally, as well as give your muscles a more varied workout, which will make you physically stronger. In addition, make sure you train on surfaces and terrain that are similar to your goal race terrain. For the Healthy Driven Naperville races, choose training routes that are slightly hilly and on asphalt. Be prepared for a variety of weather and temperature conditions since the race is in October and it could be cool or warm on race day.

Find a community. Having a group (or a buddy) to run with can really help you stay focused and accountable and stick to your running plan. If large groups aren’t for you, try to find one person to run with consistently. Someone with similar goals and capabilities is ideal. Also, keep in mind that your running buddy can be your dog! If you are a more social person, there’s no denying the benefits of a running group or community. Here are my favorite reasons for lacing up with a friend or friends instead of hitting the road solo:

  • Commitment. The most important aspect of your training is consistency. You’re more likely to get out for your run if you feel you’ve committed to others who expect you to be there. Even if you run in a group, be accountable to one or two specific individuals for each run. The thought of letting someone else down will make it hard to sleep in or skip your run.
  • Camaraderie. Sometimes, when we run alone, time can drag and our runs seem to take forever. The camaraderie and distraction of being with others can really help you stay with your running plan. As your runs become longer, the “we’re in this together” feeling becomes even more important.
  • Safety. We’ve all heard that there’s safety in numbers and it’s true for runners, too. If someone gets hurt, others are there to get help. Larger groups ward off wildlife visitors or humans up to no good. Groups of runners are more likely to spot trail hazards – like obstacles or holes in the road – and warn others. Lastly, your group is less likely to get lost while together, but if you do, you have each other to develop a plan to get back home. 
  • Creative stimulation. A running community is helpful outside of actual runs, too. It’s helpful to have others to discuss ideas with or find a creative solution for a training issue.
  • Motivation. Running with others makes it hard to quit mid-run. You’re more likely to finish and reach your goals in a group. Being with others also makes you feel that if they can do it, so can you. 
  • Performance. A little friendly rivalry or competition can be a good thing and improve your running performance. Just make sure you don’t make every run a competition. Remember to keep your easy days easy.
  • Networking. You never know who you’ll meet in your running group. They just might end up being contacts and confidants who will help you with other personal, career or philanthropic goals. 
  • Social/friendships. Some of my best friends over the years have been my running friends. Long runs are a great opportunity to really open up with someone and get to know them on a deeper level. I have running friends who retired from running years ago, but I’m still in close contact with them. Running friends are friends for life.

As you can see, there are lots of techniques you can use to stay on track with your running plan. Try a few or all of these tips to build your consistency, achieve your racing goals and finish strong.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

Self-Care for Runners: Making Time for Recovery

 

Self-Care for Runners: Making Time for Recovery

Running is hard on the body, especially if you are new to running or training hard for a race. The longer the distance of the goal race, the harder the training demands on your body. To stay healthy and prevent overtraining, incorporating self-care is just as important as following your running plan. Here are some key areas on which to focus:

Sleep. Sleep is one of the key ways your body recovers from the demands placed on it by your running program. Everyone is different, but generally, you need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to properly recover from your workouts. Going to sleep at the same time every night, staying away from screens (tv, phone, computer) for a few hours before bed and eating dinner several hours before bedtime are all helpful tactics to promote restful, restorative sleep. It’s also best to sleep in a cool, dark room. If you have anxiety at bedtime or trouble “shutting off” your mind, consider a weighted blanket. 

Eating and nutrition. Eating enough calories and the right nutrients provides the building blocks your body needs to recover from training and injury. It is important to pay attention to total calories, macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to ensure that you are getting enough of each. There are several phone apps (My Fitness Pal, My Plate, Fooducate) that can help you keep track of your food intake and make sure you are getting adequate nutrition. 

Alternatively, you can consult a registered dietitian for a meal plan tailored to your specific needs. As you ramp up your training, monitor your weight. Unless you are on a specific weight loss plan, your weight should be staying stable within a 3–5-pound range. If you are consistently losing weight as you ramp up your miles, add some additional high-quality protein and carbohydrates to your daily diet. 

Hydration. Adequate fluid intake goes hand-in-hand with proper nutrition in giving your body the tools it needs for training recovery. Make sure you hydrate properly before every run: two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before you run, drink another 10 to 12 ounces. During your run, drink approximately 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10-20 minutes. Adjust this as necessary based on your own “sweat rate.” For half marathon long runs, consider replacing half of the water with an equal amount of electrolyte drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) You can mix the water and electrolyte drink for convenience and digestibility. In addition to your running-related hydration, try to stay hydrated throughout the day. Everyone’s daily hydration needs are different, so the easiest thing to do is pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale or clearer usually means you’re well hydrated. If it’s dark, you probably need to drink more fluids. However, be aware that other things (vitamins, food, medication, etc.) can influence the color of your urine. 

Stress management. Running stresses the body, so it is important to minimize other sources of stress during times of intense training in your running program. It is difficult to avoid stressors in life, but if possible, avoid things like moving to a new living space, job changes and other disruptions when you are in the most difficult portions of your training and in the weeks leading up to a key race. Since life disruptions are difficult to prevent, try some stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing or general relaxation. There are lots of stress management phone apps available (Calm, Headspace) that can help you learn to relax and meditate. These practices can help improve your recovery from training.

Body work (massage, physical therapy, etc.). One way to increase your work capacity for running is to seek active recovery services from a sports physical therapist or certified and licensed massage therapist. Modalities such as compression boots (Normatec, Rapid Reboot), vibration massage (Legiral, Hypervolt), manual therapy (from a physical therapist or sports chiropractor) and massage therapy (from a certified and licensed massage therapist) are great ways to accelerate your recovery from hard workouts.

Time management. Running takes time out of an already-busy schedule. A big part of self-care is managing your time so that your life isn’t overbooked and you have time for everything important in your life. Keeping a calendar (readily available on your computer and phone) is a great way to manage and evaluate your priorities and activities. Make sure you schedule your runs on your calendar and include free time in your schedule. Your calendar will give you a structure from which to turn down activities that overburden you and/or are not high priority.

Cross-training. Running works your muscles in a very specific way. Cross-training (exercise other than running) helps to balance the muscles of your body. I discussed strength training in this injury proofing blog post. Additionally, low-impact or upper body-intensive cardio (such as cycling, rowing or the elliptical trainer) are all ways to give your running-specific muscles a break while continuing to elevate your fitness. 

Good self-care will allow you to train harder without breaking you down with illness or injury. Focus on these areas to ensure training success.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

Off track? 5 ways to get back on plan (and stay there)

 

Off track? 5 ways to get back on plan (and stay there)

You have been training for your planned fall Healthy Driven Naperville race and have been following your training plan. And then life happened. Whether it was travel, illness, work, family, injury or some combination – now you are off-track. So now what? Here are five tips for getting – and staying on – plan. 

  1. Get back on an adjusted plan. Getting back on plan will be easier the sooner you act. If you were busy and missed a few runs during the week but you completed the week’s long run, you should be fine to continue your plan. If you have missed a few runs (including your long run) but did not miss a full week (and are not injured), just repeat this week’s running plan next week and proceed from there. However, if you find you have missed a full week of training runs (due to a reason other than a running-related injury), ease back into your plan by repeating the previous week in the plan and proceeding from there. In this case, you will probably need to ramp up the distance of your long runs more quickly since you have effectively lost two weeks in your training plan. To do this, add one extra mile to your next long run and then add an addition mile (total of two) to the following long run and continue with the two added miles until you reach your planned maximum distance run (about 14 miles for the half marathon, eight miles for the 10K and four miles for the 5K). 
  1. Pick a new goal distance. If you have missed a full week of training or more due to a minor running-related injury or you have missed two or more full weeks of running training not due to injury, you will likely need to adjust your race goals. If you are a beginner, the easiest way to adjust your goal with the Healthy Driven Naperville races is to drop down to the next shorter distance. If you had been training for the half marathon, drop down to the 10K. If you had been training for the 10K, move to the 5K. If you were already training for the 5K, consider a run/walk or a slower race time goal. Then, transition to a different training plan for your new race distance – look for one online or consult a running coach or running group. If you are an experienced runner and you want to stick with your original race distance, you should adjust your race time goal to something slower. 
  1. Pick a new race date. If you are more seriously injured and/or any pain persists when you return to training after following the above steps, you should seek a doctor’s advice and work with a trainer or running coach to regroup. It is likely you will need to choose a different goal race and allow yourself more calendar time to recover and train safely. You will also need to work on injury prevention. One positive note – Healthy Driven Naperville races will let you defer your race to next year (for a fee) through the end of August.
  1. Focus on key workouts. Now that you are on a new or revised plan, try to avoid future training adjustments due to missing multiple runs. The best way to do that is to make sure that you run at least one or two of your planned runs each week, especially your long weekend run. This way, if you miss a few other runs in a week, you’ll still be on track for your overall race goal. 
  1. Prevent boredom. Once you are back on track with your new plan and race goals, you will want to redouble your efforts to avoid boredom and burnout to avoid missing key workouts. Here are some tips for keeping the doldrums out of your training plan:
  • Ease up (or race!). Take an assessment to determine if your burnout stems from overtraining or from staleness/boredom. If you show symptoms of overtraining – higher than normal resting heart rate, chronic muscle and/or joint aches, persistent fatigue, difficulty in completing normal workouts – it’s time to ease up on your training volume and/or intensity. On the other hand, if you’re feeling bored with your running workouts, it might be time to schedule a short race. A 5K a month or two before your fall race is fine. This short race should help you hone your performance and lift the enthusiasm for your fall goal race.
  • Plan long run rewards. Choose a reward that you give yourself only in relation to your long runs. This might be a special pre-run meal, post-run treat or activity, or a special new audiobook or music download to listen to during your run.
  • Mix it up. Make sure your training plan has a good mix of pacing, run lengths and terrain. Change the type of cross-training you do occasionally to ensure you don’t repeat the same workouts day after day, week after week. 
  • Release the pressure! It’s okay to have time goals in key races, but if you find you’re putting undue pressure on yourself to meet time goals in every workout, it is probably time to ease up for a while and focus on just enjoying your runs. 
  • Create a support system (and use it). Make time for running group activities, they allow you to connect and commiserate with other runners and can give your training a big boost. You can find a running group at your local running shoe store. 

Follow the tips above and you will be back to race training in no time.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

Your Injury-Proof Training Plan

 

Your Injury-Proof Training Plan

Injuries are a concern when running, especially as runners increase mileage or train for a race. The risk is even higher for new runners and runners training for their first race. As you train for this fall’s Naperville Half Marathon, 10K or 5K, consider the following five steps to minimize your chances of getting hurt.

1. Build a solid foundation. Follow a professionally created training program that increases your mileage slowly and methodically from your current fitness level to a level that supports your goal race distance and your time goal. There are several reputable websites that offer running programs (some are free and some involve a fee for ongoing coaching) that you can tailor to your needs. Alternatively, work with a certified running coach to have a customized program created just for you. They key is to follow a program that:

  • Starts from your current fitness level.
  • Increases your workload gradually – no more than 10 percent mileage increase per week or per session.
  • Includes a slow, methodical increase of long runs to a run length consistent with your goal race. For example, half marathoners should ramp to a long run of 12-14 miles, 10K runners should increase to a long run of 6-8 miles and 5K runners should ramp to a long run of 3-5 miles.
  • Includes a slow increase of speed training based on current fitness level. If you are a beginner, your initial running training program should contain no speed work.
  • Includes runs of different length, speed, running surface/terrain and hilliness – variety is important to prevent injury.

Also, be realistic. If you are a new runner, build your running base and run regularly for at least three months before attempting your first 10K race and for at least six months before attempting your first half marathon race. 

2. Be consistent. Now that you have your training plan, follow it closely. Consistency is one of the keys to preventing injury. This doesn’t mean you can’t miss a workout occasionally, but if you find yourself missing a week of runs, this can be a recipe for injury. Try to stay consistent by keeping the number of runs and miles per week close to your plan. If you miss a full week of training, ease back into the plan (possibly by repeating the previous week in the plan and proceeding from there) or work with your running coach to get back on track safely. If you miss more than one week, you will definitely need to repeat previous weeks in your training plan; work with a trainer or running coach to regroup and possibly change your race goals and/or goal race distance. 

3. Develop good running form. It is difficult to “force” yourself into perfect running form and it can be dangerous, especially if your muscles aren’t prepared for that method of running. However, to prevent undue force on the body, landing with each foot underneath your body – instead of in front of your body – is usually associated with lower ground forces on the body resulting in lower injury rate.

The easiest way to achieve this is to shorten and quicken your stride. If you find you are an “overstrider,” practice shorter, quicker strides with feet landing underneath you on a regular basis.

One way to do this is to practice “quick feet” running drills which increase your cadence (the number of times your feet hit the ground per minute) and minimize the amount of time each of your feet spend on the ground. Some people call this the “hot coals” drill since running on hot coals would certainly quicken your stride and shorten your foot strike time. Try practicing this drill a few times per week by doing 30 second intervals of “quick feet” followed by 30 seconds of “normal” running and repeat five times for a total of five minutes.

4. Strength train. Running is a very repetitive sport. As a result, it carries a high probability of overuse injuries. To prevent these injuries, strengthening and mobilizing key areas of the body are important preventive measures. Focus on these areas:

  • Core: Strengthen the lateral and anterior core with exercises such as plank and side plank variations.
  • Hips/glutes: Strengthen the legs, glutes and hip stabilizers with exercises such as lunge variations, deadlifts and glute bridge variations and with resistance band hip abduction work (such as clams). Also, keep the hips and hamstrings mobile with key stretches for those areas.
  • Ankles/calves: Strengthen the ankles and calves with exercises such as calf raises, jumping/plyometrics and banded ankle work. Also, keep the calves mobile with calf stretching. Try doing some of this foot and ankle work barefoot for added benefit. A strength training program for runners, such as RunSMART can help you work on all of these areas.

5. Make pace a priority. To avoid overtraining and injury, most running should be at a slow, conversational pace. Many people overtrain on their easy days and carry fatigue into their hard runs. Make sure you keep your easy days easy, even if you are a veteran runner. Following the pacing of your running program, as well as the distances, helps keep injury at bay.

These five steps will help you avoid injury and have a great race season. However, even when a runner follows all the rules, they can still become injured. Injury rates among runners are fairly high, primarily because running is a repetitive, high-impact sport. You may still become injured despite being careful to follow your program, eat right, get plenty of rest and strength train.

So, you’re injured. Now what?

See the doctor. First, any nagging or lingering pain needs to be properly diagnosed. A bit of soreness is normal after difficult runs, but if pain persists over a few runs, worsens when you are running, is keeping you awake or is significant in terms of intensity, it is time to seek help from a medical professional. Depending on the injury, they may do a manual exam, take X-rays and/or do other types of testing and analysis (MRI, etc.) to make a diagnosis.

Ask questions. Once you have a diagnosis from the doctor, ask some follow up questions:

  • Can I run? Chances are you will get a “no” to this question, at least for a while.
  • How long do I need to stop running? At this point, the answer to this question might be unknown.
  • Can I do other activities? What would those be? This is a very important question as the answer will allow you to formulate a cross-training plan to preserve your fitness.
  • Do I need physical therapy? Medication? Surgery? Immobilization/casting? What treatment options do I have along those lines?Depending on the injury, there may be multiple options. Your doctor may have a recommendation but be sure to ask what all the options are and discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • What are the next steps regarding medical follow-up? Make sure you make and keep any subsequent doctor’s appointments.

Follow the doctor’s plan. The doctor may prescribe medication (such as anti-inflammatories), immobilization/casting, physical therapy, meeting with a specialist, etc. Make sure you follow the agreed-upon plan.

Create a cross-training program. Based on your doctor’s recommendations about what activities are acceptable while injured, create an exercise plan. Being a runner and not being able to run can be difficult, but it is important to find exercise that you can do to preserve your fitness. This will help you return to running more efficiently once your injury is resolved. Ideally this exercise plan will include some form of cardiovascular exercise and some form of strength training. Alternative forms of cardio that your doctor might suggest could include biking, swimming, walking, elliptical trainer, etc. Strength training options from your physician will likely avoid the injured area. For example, you may need to do upper body and core strength training only for a while. It is important to maintain these muscle groups as you are recovering. You may be told to “let pain be your guide.” In that case, be aware that the pain may manifest itself during the activity or it may show up that night or the next day. In these cases, the offending activity needs to be discontinued or scaled back until it no longer causes pain.

Take care of your body. As you are recovering, it is important to stay well hydrated, eat nutritious foods and get enough rest. Be careful not to overeat (out of boredom or sadness over your injury) as weight gain while recovering from injury could hamper your return to sport. If possible, try to minimize any other stresses in your life. Your cross-training program can help with managing stress.

Return to sport. Once your injury is resolved and you receive your doctor’s permission to resume running, do so cautiously. Don’t jump immediately back into the training load you were doing when you got hurt. Depending on the amount of time you were injured, you may need to start back with a beginner’s program. Consult your physician for advice on how aggressively to return to running. You may also want to consult a running coach or fitness professional to help you create your return-to-running program. With a good plan and a little time and patience, you’ll get back on track.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

Why I Run for a Cause: Cliff Kalish, Path to Recovery Foundation

I’ve been running the Naperville Half Marathon every year and raising money for charity since 2017. Tragedy struck our family in 2016 and it means so much to me to raise funds and awareness to help battle addiction (substance use disorder). I grew up in Naperville with my parents and 3 brothers. I’m 45 years old now and I still live in Naperville with my wife and 4 kids. Here’s my story.

Monday morning May 16, 2016

The start of what I thought was a normal week. I was travelling to Ft. Lauderdale for work and the plane was getting ready to land. I noticed as soon as I powered on my phone it started buzzing as my wife Heidi was trying to call. I texted her and said I would call once I landed-she responded saying her and the kids were alright, but I should call as soon as I could. I immediately got that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that something bad happened. All I can really remember about calling back is the sadness in her voice shakily saying, “to brace myself, Randy had been found dead that morning from a drug overdose.”

Randy died of a heroin (fentanyl) overdose. He was only 29 years old. We didn’t know he was battling addiction so you can imagine what a shock this was to me and all my family. After he passed away, we found a card in his wallet for an addiction counselor which brought forth the realization that he was aware of his substance use disorder battle and he wanted to overcome it. Everyone deals with loss-that’s a part of life, but I think it was then I knew that I personally wanted to fight back and help those battling substance use disorder. I’ve always believed there’s a way back if you’re willing to fight for it.

At the time, I didn’t realize how big the opiate epidemic was becoming in our great country. Every day, almost 200 people die after overdosing on opioids including prescription pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl. Roughly 25% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. In fact, 80% of heroin users first misused prescription opioids. We believe my brother was one of those 80%.

My whole family is heavily involved in this fight. I’ve been raising funds and awareness for a PATH to recovery Foundation in Naperville. My father, Don Kalish is the president and my mother, Roberta Kalish heads up the PATH grief support group. I’m a board member as well.

I’ve been the top fundraiser at the Naperville Half Marathon from 2017-2022 and collectively we’ve raised over $160K for the fight! I’m looking forward to continuing the cause for years to come (hopefully my legs will aid me 😊)!

PATH Information

PATH is a not-for profit foundation committed to supporting, educating, and promoting recovery for individuals and families struggling with substance use disorders. PATH now also provides recovery coaching services using a strength based, supportive approach designed to teach individuals and families how to sustain a healthy approach to their own recovery. All donations will be used to help us to continue to provide these to the communities we serve. Besides PATH family support services, donations enable PATH to provide free or reduced cost recovery coaching services to the individual or family in need of these services. Our program is 16 weeks and provides a great foundation of recovery. 

Also, if you or anyone you know is having addiction issues, I’m happy to discreetly put them in contact with the right people to get started on their path to recovery.

Hot weather, wet weather – training in the elements

 

Hot weather, wet weather – training in the elements

Many of you are probably training for the Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon, 10K or 5K (or another fall race). By October, the weather will likely be much more favorable for running a successful race. Unfortunately, your training plan calls for long runs in the summer, during the heat, humidity (and possibly rain and thunderstorms) of July through September. There’s also the possibility of elevated air pollution. Here are my top tips to successfully make it through your challenging summer runs:

Watch the weather. First and foremost, watch the weather forecast. If you learn in advance that your long run will fall on a day with less favorable conditions, adjust your plan accordingly (see my backup plan ideas below). Keep in mind that running performance drops below optimal levels when temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit and will fall 10% or more when temperatures exceed 80. And remember, outdoor runs are never safe during a thunderstorm.

Air quality matters. Canadian wildfires and Ozone have been causing more air quality issues than we have had in previous years. If you are sensitive to smoke and/or ozone, and especially if you have any lung or heart disease, check the AirNow EPA app and/or the AirNow.gov website. You can enter your location and get real-time and forecasted levels of ozone and PM 2.5 particles (including smoke). Armed with this information, you can plan your runs accordingly and create a backup plan if necessary. Both ozone and PM 2.5 (including smoke) can cause headaches, coughing and shortness of breath; so monitor the air quality and be on the lookout for these symptoms to see if you need to adjust your running schedule on days with poor air quality. 

Adjust to the heat slowly. You can acclimate to the heat of summer, but it will take 5-10 sessions of running in the heat at a much slower pace (and possibly for a shorter distance) than you normally run. Make sure you are well hydrated before and during these runs. Here’s how:

  • Two hours before the run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water. About 10 minutes before, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.
  • During the run, drink approximately 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes. Adjust this as necessary based on your own ”sweat rate”. If your run will last longer than 60 minutes, consider replacing half of the water with an equal amount of electrolyte drink (Gatorade Endurance which is served at the Healthy Driven Naperville races, Powerade, etc.). Mix the water and electrolyte drink for convenience and digestibility.

Beware of cramping. When you get a cramp or sudden pain while you are running, you need to slow or stop until the pain subsides. If necessary, stop or walk back to your starting point. Gentle movement (flexing of the foot in the case of calf cramp) will help it to subside. The next step is to figure out what caused the cramping to prevent it from happening again. Check out the most common causes and suggested remedies:

  • Heat and/or dehydration. Is it warmer than it has been in recent days? Did you drink less fluid than normal? If either of these is the case, then it is likely that you are dehydrated. Next time you run, make sure you pay attention to your hydration. Make sure you drink 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before you run. Then in the 30 minutes before you head out, slowly drink 10-12 ounces of water. If the cramping is accompanied by other symptoms of heat illness (see below), stop, and follow the tips in the heat illness section below. 
  • Inadequate warmup. If it’s not warm, you’re well hydrated and you were running at a moderate pace, it is possible your cramping came from an inadequate warmup. Make sure you walk for 5 to 10 minutes and do some movement and controlled range of motion exercises before you begin your runs.
  • Overdoing it. If cramping occurred while doing speed work, it is possible that you were going too fast for your current conditioning or you ran too fast too suddenly. Next time, try going a little slower and/or do a more thorough warmup before attempting the speed work.

If cramping persists into the next day or recurs the next time you run, consult your doctor or running coach as you may be experiencing chronic dehydration, electrolyte imbalances or other nutritional or medical issues that require professional diagnosis. 

Know the signs of heat illness. If you do run outside in the heat, watch for signs of heat illness (nausea, fatigue/weakness, dizziness, cramping, confusion). If any of these occur, stop immediately and cool your body (go indoors, hydrate, put cool water on your head, neck and body). If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.  For more details on heat illness, check this CDC guide

Beware of ticks. Hot weather means ticks. The CDC warns of an abundance of various types of ticks this season. Fortunately, they also offer great advice on avoiding tick bites.

In addition, here are my own tick-related tips for runners:

  • Clothing color is a mixed bag when it comes to ticks. Studies have shown that ticks are attracted to light and white-colored clothing. However, ticks are also easier to spot and remove from light colored clothing. Ticks are more attracted to the human body than to any clothing, so be sure to follow the post-run body inspection discussed below. 
  • Wear bug repellent that repels ticks as well as mosquitos. The CDC site offers some natural/herbal options if you are not interested in wearing chemical sprays while running. They also provide instructions for treating your clothing to repel ticks. 
  • Run on paved trails or crushed gravel rather than on dirt trails. Run toward the center of the trail as much as possible. If you must walk through long grass or brush, pick up your feet carefully rather than shuffling to minimize disturbing the ticks.
  • Avoid running near small trees and bushes. Ticks can brush onto you from bushes and trees as you are running. If you feel something small hit you, make sure you brush it away. It’s a good idea to brush yourself off anytime you have moved through brush or bushes. 
  • Make sure your socks are tight to your feet and ankles. Some types of socks (like roll-down anklet socks) provide a reservoir for ticks to fall between the sock and your ankle.
  • Follow the CDC recommendations to check your clothing and your body (check the areas listed on the CDC site and check your feet/between your toes) and shower right away (within 1-2 hours) after running outdoors.   Wash your clothing in hot water after each run and dry at high temperature for at least 10 minutes. Finally, shake out your running shoes and keep them outside (the garage is a good place) between runs. 

Have a backup plan. If it looks like your long run is planned for a hot, humid day, a day with forecasted thunderstorms or a poor air quality day, consider these options:

  • Switch the day. Consider moving your long run 1-2 days earlier (or later) if your schedule allows. Your long run is your most important run each week, so moving or adjusting a couple of your shorter runs won’t hurt your training. The goal for the week is to have a successful long run.
  • Start early/switch the time. Starting at 5 a.m. can make a big difference in the amount of heat and humidity you face during your long run. Getting some or most of your long run in before the sun rises can improve your chances for success – and in the summer, sunrise is very early.  Air quality is usually at its best early in the day as well. Similarly, switching the time of your run to avoid thunderstorms will keep you safe. The weather app on your phone can be configured to detect lightning in your area; seek shelter immediately if lightning strikes in your area during a run.
  • Find the shade. A shady course can make as much as a 10-degree difference in ambient temperature and will help you to avoid the heat. Remember, shade is not an option to avoid thunderstorms.
  • Go indoors. Consider doing your long run on a treadmill or indoor track. It might be more tedious, but the conditions will be much more favorable. This will allow you to achieve your goal training pace more successfully than running outside in 90+ degree heat, during poor air quality days or during bad storms Avoid boredom by listening to music or a podcast or running with a training partner. 

Slow your pace in the heat. If all else fails, you have no other option and you must run in the heat and humidity (and you are not acclimated to the heat), hydrate (as discussed above) and slow your pace. One of the main purposes of the long run is to teach your body to handle exertion and energy expenditure over a long period of time. In the heat, exertion levels and energy expenditure will be much higher for a given running pace. Hydrate properly before your run and go as slowly as necessary to complete your long run, taking frequent hydration breaks (including both water and electrolytes) and walking breaks. If you have extra water (don’t use an electrolyte drink), pour some on your head and on the back of your neck to keep cool. Don’t worry about your pace or time; the training effect is occurring and in your next long run, weather permitting, you will do and feel much better. 

Keep sweat out of your eyes. Sweating is important in running; it’s how your body keeps cool. You don’t want to prevent or discourage sweating. To keep sweat out of your eyes, try a headband or an absorbent hat. There are baseball-style running hats on the market that do a good job of absorbing sweat and shield your head from the sun.  Some newer running hats even use fabrics with cooling technology such as UA Iso-chill. 

Prevent chafing. Chafing can really be an issue in the heat due to sweating. For chafing you already have, try a healing ointment such as Aquaphor. To prevent chafing going forward, try an anti-chafe balm such as Body Glide. Apply this to any areas where your clothing rubs against your body (or you have body parts rubbing against body parts.) Common areas include feet and toes, inner thighs, inside of upper arms, bra lines/seams for women, nipple area for men, etc. Apply before every run but especially for your longer runs. Anti-chafing products wash off very well in the shower after your runs.

Avoid hot spots and blisters. Running in the heat can aggravate blistering due to the extra sweating that occurs. To minimize blisters, make sure you have a good pair of properly fitting running shoes. If you are uncertain, go to one of the local running stores (Dick Pond, Road Runner Sports, Naperville Running Company). Next step, socks. I personally prefer double layer socks (Wrightsock is the brand I wear) as they are virtually blister proof. Body Glide or a similar anti-chafing product applied to the toes and other hot spots can help prevent blisters as well. For blisters you already have, if they aren’t serious (no broken skin), Compeed or similar blister cushions provide great relief. If you have already developed more serious blisters with broken skin and/or infection, seek medical attention.

Stay patient and confident through these hot, long runs and in the fall when the weather cools, you will reap the benefits of difficult training in summer weather. 

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

5K or 10K: Choosing the Best Race and Training Plan for You

 

5K or 10K: Choosing the Best Race and Training Plan for You

Now that the Healthy Driven Naperville races include both 5K and 10K options, you might feel like you have a tough decision to make between these two race distances. Here are some considerations to help you make your choice. 

New to running? Choose the 5K distance and select a run-walk or beginner 5K training program to prepare. This distance and approach will give you plenty of challenge while helping minimize the risk of injury, which can be significant for a new runner. 

If you have been doing some running recently and regularly, you have a tougher choice to make. Think about the following as you consider what’s best for you:

Training time. If you have been doing at least some running (3-4 miles, 2-3 times per week) for a few months, you have a couple of options. You are in a great position to continue your current training and can expect to run a solid 5K race. Alternatively, you have enough calendar time to increase the distance of your longest run to 6-8 miles and can consider running the 10K. If you opt for the 10K, select a beginner 10K training program. Keep in mind that training programs for the 10K will include a long run of 6-8 miles (vs. 3-4 miles for the 5K) and more total weekly mileage than a 5K program, so the 10K will require more of a weekly training time commitment. 

Speed vs. endurance. If you are a more experienced 5K runner with a few 5K races under your belt, you can either focus on speed and on improving your 5K race time for this fall, or you can consider improving your endurance and moving up to the 10K.

If you stick with the 5K, choose an intermediate or advanced training program which will include 1-2 speed work sessions per week to help you set a new 5K personal record or achieve a specific goal time. This more advanced program will also increase your weekly mileage and long run distance compared to beginner 5K programs. 

Some of you have probably been running 5K races for a few years. You may feel like you have gotten as fast as you can in the 5K race and are looking for something different or are hoping to increase your endurance. Perhaps you would like to eventually move up to the half marathon. If this sounds like you, the new Naperville Healthy Driven 10K race could be the perfect next challenge. Since this will be your first 10K race, choose a beginner 10K training program which will focus on increasing total weekly mileage and include building up to a long run of 6-8 miles. 

Regardless of which option you choose, the Naperville Half Marathon, 10K and 5K race organizers will allow you to change your race distance; you can move from the 5K to the 10K via an online registration change (for a fee) or you can move from the 10K to the 5K (for free) online, at the expo or even ad hoc during the race. (In this case you will have to swap your finisher medal at the awards tent.) So, if you change your mind on your race distance during training or your training doesn’t go as planned, you can always switch race distances. 

Now it’s time to choose a race distance and start training. The 5K and 10K race distances are both great goals to motivate you through your summer training.

Laurie Lasseter Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness
www.EEHealth.org/fitness

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