STRENGTHEN WITH AN OBSTACLE COURSE RACE TRAINING PLAN...THERE’S NO NEED TO ANSWER THE “CALL OF THE MUD”. Entering and competing in an obstacle course competition is NOT required for this sixth challenge!!! When resistance training is combined with aerobic exercise the health dividends are increased. A 6-week obstacle course training plan will be offered for those who are looking for a structured approach to incorporating strength work into aerobic sessions.
Earned Runs will feature a plan developed by Pete Williams that was released in 2013 by womensrunning.competitor.com. It was updated in October 2016, and presented in the article “Train for An Obstacle Course Race.” It’s designed to be performed outdoors.
The plan can be downloaded; it comes in 2 portions, weeks 1-3, and weeks 4-6, Monday to Sunday. The exercises are clearly meant to prepare trainees to function under conditions presented on an obstacle course: Burpees, pull-ups, mountain climbers, push-ups, triceps dips, planks, squat jumps, and monkey bars, to name some.
The workouts are defined as “Park Bench Routine” (PBR), “Interval Run” (IV), “Obstacle Run” (OR), “Park/Beach/Playground” (PBP) workout, “Active Recovery” (AR), and “Rest”. The total amount of workout time, spent repeating the exercise and run sequences, begins at 25 minutes and increasingly lengthens to 65 minutes. Each workout is different.
The Williams article is a good read. He spills the “dirty little secret of these races”, that “many participants walk the majority of the course”. Last summer, when I had completed only 1.5 weeks of his 6-week plan, I learned why. Performing the exercise sets, especially those with Burpees, left my legs so wobbly that the running sets were nearly impossible and even fast walking was difficult.
I followed Williams’ plan for the purpose of adapting it for use by those who won’t be aiming to finish an actual obstacle course. The Earned Runs ADAPTED PLAN is an alternative activity for someone who enjoys performing strength exercises outdoors during or after a walk or run, in a park or area with benches or structures that can be used to perform certain moves.
Changes were made to make the elements lower impact: 1) ‘run’ sections were changed to ‘run/walk’ sections, but the option to ‘run’ all remains; 2) jumping moves have been swapped-out with those that do not require hopping or bounding. The program is friendly to challengers who seek to strengthen, but not competitively test, the functional limits of their bodies. And to those who need to be kind to their joints.
My trial of this program during Summer 2018, while recovering from knee and calf injuries related to osteoarthritis, was a timely confidence booster. I wasn’t able to run at that time and wasn’t sure I would ever run again. Walking had replaced the aerobic exercise that had been my favorite for the past 40 years. It felt slow and much less rigorous than running, and I felt much older and rickety.
The addition of obstacle course training to walks dialed up the intensity of my workouts; it forced me to complete a number of tough new strength exercises nearly every day while still outdoors. There wasn’t the opportunity to become distracted or lazy and skip them after returning home. When finished, feeling tired and dirty from getting down in the beach sand, but accomplished, I headed back with the day’s fitness work DONE!
Even in rainy and foggy weather the obstacle training sessions were great experiences. However, there was a new difficulty to face. Embarrassment was the biggest obstacle to climb over/get around on the obstacle course. There were people out and about the park and walking paths all summer long, including parents with children enjoying the small playground that held equipment I needed for some exercises.
Each time I set out I hoped no one would see me drop to the ground to perform push-ups or hold planks, or struggle to hang from monkey bars and rings. I positioned myself to be as far away from the little tykes as possible, sometimes on the sandy edge of the play area. Over time my reticence to exercise in public diminished, especially with improvements in form and strength and a slight tan.
The 2019 Summer Challenge VI suggests committing to the Williams’ obstacle race training plan or the alternate Earned Runs Adapted Plan version. Another option is to customize one of these plans to fit your personal needs and abilities with your own changes; the Earned Runs Adapt Plan can serve as a model. (see NOTES below).
Commit to begin on Monday, June 3 and finish the first full week of July. After one to two weeks of rest, repeat again to stay in top shape all summer long into the first full week of September. Or begin whenever ready.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Of course, feel free to tinker with it and swap out exercises, change the repetitions or timing as you like.
Earned Runs 2019 SUMMER CHALLENGE VI Obstacle Course Adapted Plan calendar PDF
[Updated from 2018]
LONELINESS WAS A TOPIC OF TWO EARNED RUNS BLOG POSTS IN 2018 (May 9 and May 11, 2018). The first post introduced a suggested use for Earned Runs bibs, in response to newly released, nation-wide Cigna Health survey results that revealed roughly 54% of Americans who had completed it would be considered lonely.
The survey cited lack of ‘in-person’ contact as a major factor. Research has shown that lack of social connection is a health determinant, increasing the risk of premature death, even in youth. The survey also revealed that the generations most likely to score higher on the loneliness scale were those 18-22 years old and then 23 to 34 years of age, Generation Z and Millennials, respectively.
The second post discussed the survey in greater detail as well as scientific literature which examined loneliness as a significant health risk. The risk, some scientists contend, may be more serious than obesity and could potentially reach epidemic proportions in the Unites States.
Earned Runs announced that it would trial a new SUMMER CHALLENGE to bring exercising people into closer contact with one another and encourage “in-person,” connections during less-than-highly-vigorous exercise sessions, in which conversation is possible.
I trialed that first “BUDDY-UP!” challenge in the summer of 2018 and found it succeeded in increasing my personal conversations, if not face-to-face contact, with family and friends during fitness activities. The conversations added to the enjoyment and healthy vibe of outdoor, summertime exercise opportunities. Some were scheduled phone-fitness sessions. Others resulted when unexpected calls were received. At these times I had gear ready to go for a brisk walk while talking.
The goal of SUMMER CHALLENGE V: “BUDDY-UP!” is to replace at least one weekly solo exercise session with one performed alongside, or on the phone in conversation with, another person, a buddy. During each of the 14 week season, Memorial Day to Labor Day in the USA. Challengers are encouraged to request or print Earned Runs bibs and to use them to record the days in which “buddy-up” sessions are accomplished.
The Cigna survey showed that persons who feel that they spend MORE THANTHE DESIRED AMOUNT OF TIME EXERCISING tend to be LONELIER than those in whom the time is just right and even those who think this time is less than desired! That this finding wasn’t a surprise was a warning sign that I needed this challenge.
One suggestion for a “BUDDY-UP” session would be to ask someone to power walk with you at lunch-time instead of running alone, or calling a friend or loved one during that vigorous effort and asking them to also walk, albeit in a different location, while you both talk.
For those with more discretionary exercise time, lacing up the shoes and heading out-the door as soon as the phone rings might work if an agreement was made beforehand to do this when either of you walks. Running or jogging at a slow pace in-person with a partner could be an excellent buddy-up activity as long as the exercise session was conducted at a low enough effort to facilitate friendly exchanges.
Last year I wasn’t certain the physical and social logistics of such sessions could be arranged for the sake of increasing connected-ness. However, I learned 'buddy-up’ exercise could be reasonably accomplished with a little effort and initial awkwardness; it was difficult to admit to others a need to boost social connections without using social media!
It worked, however, and I’ll be trying again this summer.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOTE: Why doesn't Earned Runs encourage joining an exercise class or running/walking club? In my experience these meet-ups tend to be either intense, physical activity sessions in which every attendee is focused on performance or a convenient gathering of like-minded enthusiasts. There aren’t opportunities to talk at length or in-depth, one-on-one. Conversations are, by necessity and intent, brief and casual.
It seems better to choose to connect with a specific friend or family member with whom there is the chance of a relationship than with a chance acquaintance in a group. Especially if most family-friend contacts have tended to be text messages or social media encounters. This ‘Buddy’-Up’ challenge is intended to fight loneliness, a feeling that can occur even in the midst of a crowd.
Segment 1: Astoria to Portland OR
Segment 2: Portland to Hood River OR
WELCOME CHALLENGERS! TOMORROW You are starting this virtual 3700+ mile journey in Astoria, Oregon.
The tour route trip starts in the city, but before getting on the road you might want to jump in a virtual car and take a ~30-mile ride southwest to Cannon Beach, to see the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock, made famous in the 1985 classic kid cult movie, “The Goonies” (released June 7 that year).
Astoria*, located in the northwest corner of the state, lies “near the mouth of the Columbia River where it meets the Pacific Ocean” according to a Wikipedia entry. This entry reports that “the city was named after John Jacob Astor, an investor from New York City” whose fur company founded a fort at the site in 1811. The route takes you along the Youngs River, through the beautiful Clatsop State Forest, and along winding roads to the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway into the city of Portland.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered near Portland. You’ll come to learn that this exploration group is part of the history of quite a few places along the first part of the journey.
The next segment from Portland to Hood River follows the course of the Columbia River Gorge along a highway that separates the state of Oregon from Washington. The TREK Travel bike tour description indicates that small hikes can take travelers to many spectacular waterfalls that are near this scenic route, including Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Multnomah Falls.
Mt. Hood is a potentially active but currently dormant volcano about 50 miles southeast of Portland and 15 miles south of the city of Hood River (on our route). It is the tallest mountain in the state of Oregon, rising to an elevation of over 11,200 ft. Possibly you will recognize its frequently photographed image. The ‘WEST’ sticker of the Earned Runs Across America challenge displays it
Although this is a virtual tour, looking at images of and reading about the astonishingly beautiful geographic features of these two segments inspires me to put Oregon on my “Top 100 List” of places to explore in real life.
Crater Lake is another natural feature of the Cascade Range that is much farther south of the Across America route in Oregon. It is known for the clarity and blueness of its waters and seems to be worth mentioning, as long as we are traveling electronically to the area and there isn’t much effort required to take a detour to mention it.
You might end the week with a viewing of “The Goonies”, “Kindergarten Cop”, or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 2 and 3” that were filmed in Astoria.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SEE RESOURCES page for Itinerary, calendar, and Map segments.
*Travelers may wish to read:
“10 Don’t Miss Spots on the Oregon Coast” for ideas of sites to see and visit. https://www.travelastoria.com/trip-ideas/top-10-dont-miss-spots-on-the-oregon-coast.html
"Astoria: 20 Reasons to Love Oregon’s Historic City on the Columbia River” http://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2015/04/astoria_20_things_to_love_abou.html
IMAGE By Zach Dischner - Mt. Hood, CC BY 2.0,
August 7, 2012
THIS WALKING, RUNNING, CYCLING, OR AQUATIC-WALKING CHALLENGE HAS SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH BACKING! [Updated from 2018]
What’s the definition of a sports championship 'series sweep'? It’s one team winning the first 4 straight games of a 7- game series, without a loss. Because the team that first wins 4 games total goes on to the next step or takes the championship outright, it’s the shortest path to the top spot. The longest, toughest battles for supremacy in a sport occur when each team has 3 wins apiece, and the 7th game must decide the move up or champion.
Why has this summer challenge been designated the HIIT “Series Sweep”? It aims to help you achieve championship level fitness as fast as is possible with aerobic, high intensity interval training sessions on 4 days of a 7-day week. It’s a weekly ‘series sweep’.
This challenge starts with science. In 2004 Dr. Hiroshi Nose at the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan led a team of researchers who studied the effects of a 5-month long high intensity interval walking program on the fitness and health of older adults.
There were 3 groups, averaging 63 years in age, comprised of 60 men and 186 women: 1) non-walking, 2) walking at a continuous moderate level 5 pace (on a scale of 1-10 in intensity), and 3) an experimental high intensity interval group walking at a level 4 pace for 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of a harder level 7 pace, for 5 or more cycles. Each group was instructed to walk at least 30 minutes, in total, during these sessions and to do so at least 4 days each week.
In the high intensity walking training (HIWT) group there were significant increases in isometric knee flexion and extension (measures of thigh muscle strength) and in peak aerobic capacity for cycling and for walking, as well as a reduction in resting systolic blood pressure. These were the findings when results for HIWT group were compared with those of the moderate intensity continuous walkers.
In 2016, Dr. Nose and his group (S. Handa, S. Masuki, T.Ohio Y. Kamijo, A. Takamata) published the results of a similar study, in which middle-aged and older women who performed HIWT in WATER for only 8 weeks were compared with women who performed HIWT on LAND. The water-walkers were “able to perform exercise at a higher metabolic rate than on land due to improved subjective feelings, which for these women resulted in greater gains in physical fitness.” The AQUATIC fitness gains were the same as measured in the 2004 study: peak aerobic capacity for cycling and for walking, and isometric knee flexion and extension (measures of thigh muscle strength).
Taking the findings of this research into account, the SUMMER CHALLENGE IV was constructed for people who enjoy moderately easy walking, running, bicycling, or aquatic fitness sessions for exercise. It copies the Japanese research study protocol that led to walkers’ improvements in aerobic capacity, thigh muscle strength, and blood pressure. Challengers are invited to change their regular routine of continuous movement at a moderately easy pace to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, over at least 30 minutes each day, for most days of the week.
Committing to this SUMMER CHALLNGE IV can provide motivation to work towards a goal that helps aerobic exercisers become stronger and healthier. To SWEEP this ‘championship series’, by Earned Runs rules, means committing to the minimum 30-minute HIIT protocol on at least 4 of 7 days of the week, EACH WEEK from May 28 to September 5 without any ‘losses’ (skipped weeks). That’s only 14 weeks*.
Land walkers, as well as runners and bicyclists and water-walkers can participate. It’s a matter of spending 3 minutes moving at a moderately easy level of intensity followed by 3 minutes at a more vigorous intensity and repeating the 6-minute routine at least 5 times to reach at least 30 minutes of total effort.
By the way, the original research paper by Dr. Nose and his research colleagues was published in 2007. A follow-up paper in 2014 showed that middle-aged and older persons were able to adhere to this protocol successfully for 22 MONTHS!!! Although the Earned Runs SUMMER CHALLENGE IV requires several months commitment, it is do-able by young and old over a much longer time period. Therefore, is a reasonable goal as proven by scientific research!
REQUEST OR PRINT EARNED RUNS BIBS NOW; you’ll receive 4, which allows you to ask someone in your family or at work to join you. Or, keep all 4 yourself and encourage the others to request their own free bibs. Keep track of the days you followed the protocol on your bib.
SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: SUMMER SERIES SWEEP
Perform the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Protocol 4 of 7 days each week, from May 28 to September 5.
Warm-up: 5 minutes easy walking, running, bicycling, or water-walking
Cycle 1: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
First 3 minutes: move at LEVEL 4 PACE, on a scale of 1-10 in intensity, 10 being highest intensity
Next 3 minutes, move at a harder, LEVEL 7 PACE
REPEAT cycle 1 at least 4 more times (for a total of 5 or MORE cycles),
to equal at least 30 minutes HIIT
Cool-down: 5 minutes easy walking, running, bicycling, or swim-walking
You can do this! Try for every other day at first, as your legs may be a bit sore afterward. The protocol and a calendar are available for download, and also on the RESOURCES page.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
*NOTE: The original Japanese study continued about 22 weeks; Challengers can opt to add an additional 8 weeks to this summer program by finishing on October 28, 2019, to parallel the 2004 research study protocol that ran from May 18 to October 15. The water-walking extended only 8 weeks, so a shorter course may be adopted in that exercise, as desired.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28418999 (2017; full article not available)
FASTEST 5K OR SUMMER OF FUN 5K’S.
OPTION ONE: Consider making your summer challenge all about being FAST. Spend these next few months training to turn in a personal best finish time in a 5K RUNNING OR WALKING race near summer’s end. At least set your sights on achieving a PR in your own version of 'modern history,' This is not a challenge to recreate the glory days of high school cross-country team fame.
Why try for a PR? Because it’s difficult to IMPROVE on a previous best in so many other areas of life, that being able to do so in running or walking would be monumentally uplifting and encouraging. Well, maybe at least a confidence booster.
The chances of success in this challenge are greater if you have NOT previously incorporated speed work, hill repeats, tempo runs, or long runs into your training plan for this distance race. Come to think of it, if you have NEVER specifically trained for a 5k you have the potential to be faster. Adding strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility work will likely contribute to a speedier you also.
“Fastest 5K” plan:
In 2018 my 5k was completed solely by power-walking (no attempts to run). I set a base time as a walker that summer. I’m not sure whether I’ll train as a walker or runner in 2019; the decision will depend on the condition of my joints!
Learn from my mistakes! If over 40, add extra days to your training week, like the now retired champion marathoner Meb Keflezighi advises, who stretches his to 9 days rather than 7. Don’t double up on workouts if you miss a day. If you begin to hurt, stop running, re-evaluate, and take sufficient time off to prevent further injury.
OPTION TWO: “Summer of Fun 5ks” plan:
This is for runners and walkers who are regularly covering training distances over 4 miles. Identify races all through the summer that you wish to walk or run just because they promise to be enjoyable.
Choose events because the theme is fun or has meaning, the location is unique or amazing, the date is one of general celebration, or others are available to join you, etc. Continue to practice safe running and walking training practices to avoid injury. The purpose of this summer challenge is to ‘FINISH NOT TO PUNISH,’ to fill the summer months with personal or organized fun 5ks.
Earned Runs will post items that offer training advice for faster running and walking performance and highlight fun races when possible.
REQUEST or print Earned Runs bibs to plan and custom design your own 5k's.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Hal Higdon offers these options:
RUN/WALK/BIKE ACROSS AMERICA FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
[Updated from 2018]
Start: Memorial Day, May 27, at Astoria OR
Finish: Labor Day, September 2, at Portland ME
Rather not train all summer for yet another a long-distance race in the fall? Bored by the thought of exercising without a purpose or destination? Hoping to involve your friends or children in running, walking, or cycling with you toward a shared goal?
Take a VIRTUAL journey ACROSS AMERICA on foot or bicycle, approximately 3,730 miles long, in this challenge! Enjoy the ‘sights’, learn the geography and history of parts of America you’ve may never have visited. Use this challenge to hold yourself to a fitness schedule of RUNNING, WALKING, and/or CYCLING all through the summer months. Earned Runs has created a calendar adapted from a bicycle tour (see *acknowledgment) that involves committing to 2 to 3 sessions/week.
Participants will choose how they wish to “scale” the miles (1 real mile run/ walked = 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 100 miles on the map). There is an itinerary chart that shows the distance to be traveled for each of 39 segments over 15 weeks by each scale calculation.
The scale system was created so that each person could run/walk/bike the entire ‘distance’ according to their fitness level. Persons of different abilities can participate in the challenge together, by each using a different scale.
Segment 1 takes travelers from Astoria, Oregon to Portland Oregon. The actual distance on the map is roughly 100 MILES. The distances participants can choose to run/walk/bike on this segment are:
- 10 miles (10:1 ratio; for every 10 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 5 miles (20:1 ratio; for every 20 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 3.3 miles (30:1 ratio; for every 30 miles on the map you run/walk 1 mile)
- 2.5 miles (40:1 ratio; for every 40 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 2.0 miles (50:1 ratio; for every 50 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
- 1.0 mile (100:1 ratio; for every 100 miles on the map, you run/walk 1 mile)
Use Earned Runs bibs, the ACROSS AMERICA Calendar, or a log to record completion of each segment!
Each Sunday there will be a BLOG post about that week's segment, providing a bit of information on the ground to be covered. You might be inspired to research more deeply into the sights, topography, environment, people, and culture of that part of the trail.
If you know the part of the country the challenge will be traveling through, share your knowledge and expert insights with everyone else by adding a comment.
Hopefully this challenge will work well for families, as younger children can use a different scale than parents or older siblings. All are able to run/walk/bike distances best suited to their fitness and ability, in order to meet each day’s goal. It may be that in some families the parents will require the highest handicap!
This challenge is a simple way to track progress made exercising over the entire summer. The cumulative miles will allow ‘travel’ from west to east across the broad expanse of the northern United States, through different regions. It’s a fun way to learn more about what’s there!
Having a planned ‘itinerary’ provides structure to the summer’s running, walking, or cycling fitness activity. The scale system makes it possible for each participant to choose how strenuous this ‘trip’ will be. The ACROSS AMERICA Calendar and Itinerary drafts ARE POSTED on the RESOURCES PAGE for you to preview. Check out the SEGMENT MAPS, soon to be posted there also, which are free for download.
My experience: I took up this challenge in the summer of 2016 and started by running all my miles on the 10:1 scale. I was training for a 5K race in early August as well, and doing the STREAK running challenge too. Eventually I found it easier and more enjoyable to walk some miles, if I could not get them covered by running, on certain days. This was true for 2017 too. In 2018 I walked but did not run any miles to recover from an injury and completed some by cycling on a fat-tire bike. This year I will use the combined efforts of walking, running, and fat-time bicycling to complete each week’s mile commitment.
It’s all about the JOURNEY in this challenge. Employ any aerobic exercise form that helps you achieve weekly goals. Use a treadmill, stationary bike, rowing or elliptical machines if preferred. I have some equipment in my garage. With the door open on bad weather days my workouts have the feel of outdoor sessions but not the discomfort or danger if thunderstorms threaten.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
1. Change the mile ratio as needed, adjusting the scale you as you go, anytime. Start with one ratio and drop down or move up to another if the effort is harder or easier, respectively, to fit into your week than you first calculated.
2. The Calendar segments are scheduled Monday -Friday, to avoid taking up family and friend time on precious summer weekends. Use Saturdays and Sundays when necessary.
3. Take as many days as you need to complete each segment. Even if you fall behind, finish as much of the journey as is possible. It will still be fun. and possibly educational too. Pick up the trail next summer at the location where you stopped.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The route is an itinerary for a bicycle tour that’s been publicly posted on the internet. The TREKTRAVEL company worked to develop it, and hosts the tour and many others. In 2016 and 2017 Earned Runs contacted the company through email every year to provide notification of our use of the plan.
Check out their site, especially if the real trip is something you are interested in completing!
EARNED RUNS 2019 ACROSS AMERICA ITINERARY WITH SCALED SEGMENTS
EARNED RUNS 2019 ACROSS AMERICA CALENDAR
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A PHYSICAL GOAL TO ACHIEVE THIS SUMMER? One that doesn’t involve training for a race, because it’s what you do all other months of the year? A challenge that doesn’t require learning complicated workout routines? An activity that won’t strain your exercise budget? A commitment that transforms you from being a ‘sometimes’ walker, jogger, runner, or cyclist, into a disciplined daily exerciser?
Streaking could be the challenge that encourages a summer of regular exercise for you without consuming all available time for fun. Earned Runs suggests you try walking, jogging, HIKING, running, or bicycling 1 mile, without breaks from Memorial to Labor Day, on each day of summer. The distance can be longer, but must not be shorter than a mile.
In 2016, Earned Runs introduced ‘Streak Running’ as the very first Summer Challenge. In researching the topic, we learned there were global organizations that register and keep track of people who have completed at least 1 year of running, 1 mile each day.
The official website of the Streak Runners International, Inc. and US Running Streak Association, Inc., defines a running streak as the running of “at least one mile (1.61 kilometers) within each calendar day. Running may occur on either the roads, a track, over hill and dale, or on a treadmill.”
To become a member of this organization, a runner must have a streak of one year and pay a $20 fee. If you extend the Earned Runs Summer 2019 challenge beyond Labor Day and streak for a full year you are eligible to have your name placed on the SRI/USRSA running streak list. And then on the retired list once you stop. The groups sell singlets and T-shirts through the website link.
The website no longer appears to link to an article by co-founder and member John Strumsky, “Caution: The Dangers of Streak Running”. It defends the activity, provides an opinion on minimum fitness requirements, and offers advice on how to remain a healthy runner despite the absence of running breaks. (The article link can’t be found on the official website, but access it through: http://www.runeveryday.com/news/TheDangersofStreakRunning.htm)
Streak running was one of my summer challenges in 2016,and 2017. I did it to experience what Earned Runs was asking of others the first year. Initially I did not like this daily run at all, and whined about it in blogs. The most difficult aspect was fitting one running mile in on travel days. An early flight could mean leaving for the airport by 3 or 4 am. Upon arrival at my destination it might be late afternoon or evening before a change into running clothes/shoes was possible especially if a meeting was scheduled, and a run managed.
One night, after returning home from a trip, I finished my mile just before the chime of the clock at midnight (we actually have a clock that chimes the hours). Then I immediately started the next day’s run because of a full schedule that day and more travel. It was weird. BUT, when one of those travel days was my undoing and I missed a run, thereby ending my streak weeks before Labor Day 2016, I was terribly disappointed in myself. I had not anticipated receiving a daily boost of pride and a sense of accomplishment when from meeting that single goal. I very much missed it when my personal streak challenge was busted.
In 2017, I again took up the SUMMER CHALLENGE I: STREAK RUNNING, this time resolving at the outset not to complain and to look forward to this activity every day. It started 2 days after the spring/vernal equinox because I wanted to go extra-long, over the entire astrological summer season to the autumnal equinox on September 22. My streak was again busted before my private goal finish, before the official Challenge Labor Day finish on September 5, 2017. It ended on July 11, because of an injury.
In 2018 I resolved to walk rather than a mile each day, but even this was made difficult on a 3-day Amtrak train trip. Counting steps on a walking loop between the railroad dining car and our reserved seat car, and when possible on a few station stops, was the best effort I could make those days.
In early 2019 I started a walking Winter Streak on January 3, determined to “get it done” before Memorial Day. There have been many unsatisfying days when the commitment required a treadmill session. Worse yet there were days I relied upon step-counts. Extreme cold was the reason on several days, but travel situations again presented problems. I have not yet decided whether to end it on May 26 just before Memorial Day, transition the Winter Streak to a Summer Streak, or simply start fresh.
The Atlantic.com ran an article, “People Who Can’t Not Run” by Katherine Dempsey in 2014. Dempsey recounts the experiences of long-term “streakers” and raises the question of whether such a goal is a good thing. She leaves it up to the individual to self-assess.
Streaking for only a defined period of time, like in the Earned Runs Summer Challenge I, doesn’t seem to be likely to drive someone to physical or emotional ruination. But there is a real risk of overuse injury when rest days aren’t an option.
Possibly a safer streak can be undertaken when the 1 mile each day is covered alternately by walking, running, or cycling? The point of the Summer Streak challenge I is to enjoy the season in an active but not excessive way, and to perhaps re-capture the carefree days of our younger years in the process. Not to risk injury.
My previous Summer Streaks were fun and very rewarding in spite of each ending prematurely. Hopefully I’ll do better in the Summer of 2019, if I take on this challenge. For others who are uncertain, a short trial might help with the decision.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
[Updated from 2018]
INTRODUCING THE LINE-UP OF SIX EARNED RUNS SUMMER CHALLENGES FOR THIS YEAR. [UPDATED FROM 2018] Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is the unofficial holiday date that bookends the start of the summer season in the USA, which closes on the Labor Day Holiday, the first Monday in September. There are potentially 14 weeks to unloose an inner carefree spirit and disrupt the rigid schedules that traditionally anchor the rest of the year to school and work.
Yes, ‘summer’ is a state-of-mind, a mostly mythical period of imagined golden fun, the reality of which can never measure up to the magical experience we want it to be. However, with planning, the likelihood of actively enjoying the great outdoors, in ways that differ from what we do during the rest of the year, can be increased. If summer is going to be a memorable one, we must work a bit to make it so.
Earned Runs will be introducing and explaining some physical activities that are designed to fill the summertime weeks and make them special. Alone or with others. The reasoning that no one else wants to “come out and play” won’t provide a valid excuse for inactivity. [This was a childhood lament when my mother would ask why I wasn’t outside doing something fun.] Having a formal ‘play-date’ or a group of like-minded, similarly available buddies isn’t a requirement for these challenges. However, others might be enticed to join after noticing how much you’re enjoying this summer!
Check out the options below, briefly explained. Each will be detailed, featured in a separate later post. Initially, challenges only involved running, then walking; eventually all were re-worked to allow participation by running/walking/biking whenfeasible.
SUMMER CHALLENGE I: STREAKING
The original summertime challenge, it is also the easiest. Run, walk, or bike a mile every day of the summer, rain or shine. This challenge requires the least amount of mental energy. You know what is required, and you must do it every day. Record each effort with a tally mark on your Earned Runs bib or another log. It’s amazing how much satisfaction can be derived from this simple activity. It also is very simple to present as a shared or group challenge to others .
SUMMER CHALLENGE II: RUN/WALK/BIKE ‘ACROSS AMERICA’
Want to complete a virtual trek across the North American continent on a trail that extends coast to coast from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to New England? Adapted from a TrekTravel bicycle tour route, this 3,730+ mile journey requires following a weekly distance schedule that is determined by the participant’s choice of mileage scale (map miles ratio to actual miles run, walked, biked = 10 to 1, 20 to 1, 30 to 1, 40 to 1, 50 to 1, or 100 to 1).
A higher or lower number of miles can be covered by each participant. Even after starting, the scale ratio can be adjusted to fit the desired level of effort, easier or harder! There will be BLOG posts describing nearby “sights”. This challenge can provide an opportunity to learn about the geography, history, and scenery along the cross-country route. Family fun!
SUMMER CHALLENGE III: FASTEST 5K OR SUMMER OF FUN 5K’S
This activity is for those who like to compete. Running or walking. Organized races or custom designed personal events. It’s alternative to preparing for 10K or longer distance competitions as might be your routine throughout the fall, winter, and spring. Consider taking a break and only signing up for fun 5k’s, or training to set a personal best in one special short race. It could be a ‘miler’ (1 mile)!
SUMMER CHALLENGE IV: HIIT SERIES SWEEP
Introduced in 2017 in mid-summer only for walkers, the ‘Series Sweep’ now invlves following a 30-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) routine: 5 cycles of 6-minutes (3 minutes easy-moderate pace, followed by 3 minutes of moderate to vigorous pace) when walking, jogging, or biking, on 4 days of each full week (7 days) all summer long.
This activity encourages the kind of higher intensity physical effort that has been shown to increase aerobic capacity, build thigh strength, and lower systolic blood pressure in older adults. Without a specific plan, just walking, running, or biking might be performed at a level too low to yield health improvements. It’s for those who wish to ‘up’ their usual aerobic exercise efforts. It can be performed on an elliptical, stationary bike, or other gym equipment.
SUMMER CHALLENGE V: BUDDY-UP
Obtaining ‘in-person’ contact time is the objective in this activity, which was initially ‘trialed’ in the summer of 2018. It’s intended to be a hedge against the development of loneliness for those who tend to spend more time than desired exercising alone. The concept is simple but the reality is a bit more difficult.
Syncing up with another person such that an in-depth conversation is possible while walking, biking, or running is the activity. The other person can be beside you, in person, or on the phone (if done safely). Each activity performed while reaching out to someone is tallied on a bib or other log. At summer’s end, challengers can hope to have developed stronger relationships and a log book page or bib full of tally marks for their efforts.
SUMMER CHALLENGE VI: OBSTACLE COURSE TRAINING
Entering and competing in an obstacle course competition is NOT required!!! When resistance training is combined with aerobic exercise the health dividends are increased. A 6-week obstacle course training plan will be offered for those who are looking for a structured approach to incorporating strength work into aerobic sessions. It can be performed outdoors.
Earned Runs will use a plan developed by Pete Williams released in 2013 by womensrunning.competitor.com. Potentially 2 six-weeks sessions can be scheduled in one 14 week summer period, between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
NOTES: Memorial Day doesn’t need to be the kick-off date. Plan your own schedule such that chances of persevering and completing a goal challenge are highest. Work around your vacation, weekends; don’t allow anxiety about a challenge ruin these most important times.
If you have not yet requested a set or self-printed Earned Runs Bibs, do so soon. Bibs can be used to run/walk personally designed races, for training purposes, and for charting progress toward a challenge goal.
Look for in-depth discussion on each summer 2019 challenge in the next few weeks..
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Screen shots of two products demonstrate confusing labels. 'Natural' cocoa powder provides far more anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory power than 'Special Dark" powder subjected to alkali-processing (Dutching).
FIGHTING INFLAMMATION In her article “11 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Cocoa Powder” for healthline.com, author Elise Mandel explains a number of positive effects that scientific studies indicate may be obtained from this substance.
The protective benefits of cocoa powder that Mandel details are many and include improving the health and functioning of blood vessels (vascular system), brain (central nervous system), and skin (integumentary system), management of body weight and blood glucose (metabolism), and protection against cancer (immune system).
An article by David L Katz of Yale University and colleagues provided much of the information for this post as well as other articles with links embedded and identified below.
WHAT IT IS: Cocoa powder is made from cocoa liquor, the basic paste created by the grinding of roasted and shelled cocoa beans that have first been fully fermented and dried.
Cocoa liquor consists of non-fat cocoa solids (NFCS) plus cocoa butter. The quoted “percent cacao” of a food product on packaging is determined by the amount of cocoa liquor it contains. Thus, it is the percent cocoa liquor (mostly % NFCS) in a product that determines how “dark” it is in terms of its nutritional benefit, not the deepness of its color!
Cocoa powder is produced by the removal of some of the cocoa butter from cocoa liquor.
Chocolate is a solid food made by adding sugar and more cocoa butter to cocoa liquor.
Cocoa powder treated with an alkali-wash process known as “Dutching” has a dark brown appearance and is often labeled as “dark” cocoa. However, although untreated ‘natural’ cocoa powder is a lighter reddish-brown color, it has not undergone Dutch-processing and contains many more healthy anti-oxidant compounds (read discussion below) than the Dutch-processed darker-colored powder!
An important difference between and cocoa powder and chocolate is fat content and caloric value. Recall that cocoa powder is cocoa liquor minus most, but not all, of its cocoa butter. Chocolate, on the other hand, contains all of the cocoa butter of cocoa liquor plus additional cocoa butter and sugar too!
The higher fat and sugar content of calorie-dense chocolate raises concerns among nutritionists who do not wish to recommend solid chocolate as a health food, because eating more than small amounts each day may increase the risk of weight gain. Even scientists admit that chocolate craving is real. Cocoa powder may or may not induce craving in spite of its slight bitterness, but without the addition of high calorie ingredients to increase palatability it can be an obesity-safe nutritional supplement.
Which brings us back to the topic of the numerous proposed health benefits of cocoa powder.
HEALTH BENEFITS It contains biologically active compounds which include vitamins, minerals (high in magnesium, copper, and iron), some fiber, and other chemicals called polyphenols.
Polyphenols are the health-boosting, plant-derived compounds found in fruits and vegetables that are responsible for their health benefits and, often times, their attractive bright colors. Flavanols are one type of polyphenol. The main flavanols identified in cocoa are epicatechin, catechin, and procyanidins.
The Known Benefits of Cocoa Result from a Few Basic Mechanisms of Action.
Each of the body systems, discussed above and identified in health articles like Mandel’s, that may be helped by the additional intake of cocoa in cocoa powder, are likely affected through a handful of physiological mechanisms that include:
Summary Benefits: the downstream effects of the biologically active components of cocoa include improving blood flow to body tissues and organs and dampening of the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidation which can lead to the initiation or worsening of chronic diseases.
WHY CONSUME COCOA POWDER?
The amounts of beneficial polyphenols in cocoa powder are the highest of all foods!
It’s anti-oxidant capacity lasts longer!
Foods with significant free-radical scavenging, anti-oxidant activities like green tea, have been known to lose activity over time.
Caution: mixing cocoa powder with sugar is likely to decrease its anti-oxidant punch. Some studies suggest adding milk may have the same effect, but others have not demonstrated this result.
HOW MUCH COCOA POWDER IS RECOMMENDED TO OBTAIN HEALTH BENEFITS?
There is not a good answer, yet.
A 2006 study of 470 older Dutch men without cardiovascular disease found “significantly lower cardiovascular and all-cause mortality”, about 50% less, in the group that consumed the most cocoa (more than 2.30gm/day) compared with the group that reported the least intake (.36 gm/day).
Another 6-week study by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut showed that men who drank 2 daily cups of a cocoa powder beverage containing 805mg flavanols (22gm cocoa powder) compared with placebo (0mg) demonstrated improved endothelial function. Improvement was noted when the cocoa was both unsweetened and sweetened, but the effect was less when sugar was added.
A 2010 article published in the Indian Journal of Science and Technology “A Comparative Phytochemical Analysis of Cocoa and Green Tea” used 2 tablespoons cocoa powder as a serving. Each cocoa powder serving, when compared with a serving of green tea, was determined to contain more total phenols/epicatechin (550 versus 168.8) and total flavonoids (566 versus 353). The amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in each were 140.16 in cocoa versus 104.4mg in tea, per serving).
A “massive” COSMOS study by Harvard Health is now underway, looking to obtain information that may help determine this and other details when it comes to prescribing cocoa flavanols for protection again “everything from heart disease, to stroke, to dementia”.
Researchers at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital leading COSMOS (COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcome Study), featured in a 2017 piece in The Harvard Gazette by Kai-Jae Wang, “are launching a four-year, 18,000-person, randomized trial to get at some of the truths behind the potential health benefits of cocoa”. The study is testing the effect of a daily 600mg supplement of cocoa flavanols (not chocolate they are careful to point out) over 4 years.
[If one gram of cocoa powder contains about 50mg of polyphenols, which include flavanols, approximately 12grams would contain 600mg polyphenols. This amount is roughly 2.5 tablespoons by my measurement.
The reference amount of a serving of specific chocolate and cocoa products customarily consumed, established by the United States Food and Drug Administration, is 5gm for cocoa powders both natural and Dutched, about 1 tablespoon by my measurement.
FYI: a serving of baking chips or unsweetened chocolate is 15 gm, and of dark or milk chocolate is 40gm. The powders have the lowest fat content and highest percent NFCS of the different products. Dark chocolate has 3 times as much fat and 75% less NFCS as cocoa powder.]
DOES COCOA POWDER BRAND MATTER? The amounts of antioxidants will vary in different cocoa powder brands, as determined by the amount of non-fat cocoa solids (NFCS) they contain. Among commercially available products in the US, the variation wasn’t found to be significant in a 2006 study analysis in which Hershey Company participated. Except for the Dutching process, “differences in cocoa bean blends and processing” were thought to be “minor factors in determining the level of antioxidants” in non-fat cocoa solid (NFCS) products.
In a 2006 study in which Hershey Company did not participate, three de-identified* brands of cocoa powder were tested for percent NFCS (CP-1 = 85.2%, CP-2 = 72.2%, and CP-3 = 87.3%), anti-oxidant capacity (875, 720, and 816 umol Trolox Equivalents/g ORAC rating), total polyphenols (~60, 45, and 51 mg/g gallic acid equivalents), and total procyanidins (~23. 19, and 22mg/g). All tested properties were at the highest level in the 3 cocoa powder brands analyzed, compared with other products (chocolate syrup, milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, dark chocolate, and baking chocolate).
WHY MIGHT COCOA POWDER HELP ATHLETES?
In addition to the obvious cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits purported to be gained from cocoa powder, how might we be helped?
Joints: One of the anti-inflammatory components identified in cocoa powder is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This polyphenol, which is also found in green tea, has been studied with green tea extract for its effect on osteoarthritis (OA). The evidence suggests EGCG may be able to reduce tissue damage associated with OA including “synovial hyperplasia, cartilage degradation, and bone resorption by modulating multiple targets in joints during the development of OA”.
Skin: Outdoor exercisers are exposed regularly to skin damaging UV light, a risk factor for common skin cancers. Although we all mean to re-apply sunscreen as recommended for protection, there are bound to be minutes and hours when coverage is less than optimal.
In Earned Runs opinion, natural cocoa powder represents a stable, convenient, relatively low-cost and low-calorie supplement with the highest values of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds found in foods, which promises to deliver protection against a number of chronic diseases. It can be used to make a pleasant, although slightly bitter drink.
Adding a beverage or two to the diet on most days, without also adding sugar or milk, may provide health benefits that otherwise would require the intake of much larger quantities of higher calorie food products.
With the Harvard Health COSMOS study in process, there may be more information revealed within several years with regard to specific ‘dosages’ of crucial bioactive compounds required to generate a positive health effect. I
In the meantime, a tablespoon of natural cocoa powder dissolved in hot water may be an appealing tonic to some. In the summer heat, poured over ice, it can be a cool, healthy, less expensive treat to substitute for a higher-calorie sweet coffee or tea concoction.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Ghiradelli, Hershey’s, Nestle Toll House
David L. Katz. Kim Doughty, Ather Ali. “COMPREHENSIVE INVITED REVIEW “Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease”
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR SUMMER VACATION?
The 18th and last week of the Half Marathon + ‘SAINTS DAYS’ Training Plan, which spanned January to May, will soon be completed. Participant runners and walkers will have accomplished their long-distance goal race by the end of this week and should be in recovery mode for 2-3 weeks.
WHAT’S NEXT? I tend to initially be elated and relieved only to experience a let-down after finishing such a long training plan. The feeling is comparable to the sadness of a “show-hole”. This slang term, which is said to have been invented by Amazon Fire and made fun of on a TV ad in 2015, describes the sense of emptiness that follows the ending of a favorite TV series. ‘Show-holes’ can be potentially be filled by another series. There’s always one more to become engrossed in and to binge-watch once you’re hooked.
However, I’ve never quite recovered from the conclusion of the Harry Potter book and movie series of the late 1990's and 2000’s. Coincidentally the finale of the HBO Series, “Game of Thrones” is scheduled to air this Sunday evening, May 19, which is sure to generate a show-hole for its numerous faithful viewers.
TTRAINING HOLES can occur with the completion of huge, multi-month preparation efforts. I’ve never trained for a marathon, but this post-race period would seem to be the perfect set-up for a major let-down.
Both show-holes and training-holes and are nothing to laugh about (well, maybe just a little). They are periods of time in which our schedules are perhaps uncomfortably wide open and there isn’t a programming slot or a daily workout to which other weekly activities are anchored. As much as there was to complain about the necessity of completing each weekend’s long run, walk, or tough training session, not having to it do now creates a void.
Many elementary school children and their parents must deal with a wide-open summer annually. Some break up the long stretch between the start of June and the end of August with a variety of music, sport, or theater camps. Or schedule stays with distant relatives. High school and college students take summer classes, enroll in travel-abroad study programs, or find jobs to earn extra spending money.
I recall moments of painful realization that, at the start of many summers of my youth and early adulthood, my closest friends were going to be traveling or involved in fantastic activities while I stayed home. Employed as seasonal labor at a variety of jobs, my vacations always seemed to be boring blanks rather than glorious breaks from routine. It couldn’t be helped; I needed to work to save money for upcoming school years. Although written and released long after those days, I came to consider the song “Cruel Summer” as theme music for those sad summer times.
The problem with training-holes and show-holes is that both may appear just as the summer begins, a time many associate with fun and enjoyment of the outdoors.
Lack of planned fitness activities can lead to anxiety about exactly how to enjoy these “carefree” days and other issues. It’s an effort to come up with novel recreational opportunities daily or weekly on the fly. Additionally, at summers end there’s a potential for even more disappointment when in retrospect nothing fun, exciting, or mildly awesome took place. Nothing that would help write that classic elementary school report about the season’s happenings, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”
Although adults without children at home may not feel the need to construct a schedule for themselves, perhaps it’s a good idea to establish one for exercise. Especially for those prone to summer depression.
Team sports like softball, baseball, kick-ball, and volleyball, as well as golf and tennis offer organized league activities. Those who enjoy running, walking, cycling, and fitness training might investigate special outdoor adventures that differ from the usual competitions of fall-winter-spring.
Earned Runs suggests that to fill a ‘training-hole’ you consider activities that ‘challenge’ tired old routines as well as physical fitness.
For example, if summers are usually spent training for yet another long-distance goal race that’s months away in the early fall, use 2019 instead to run/ walk/cycle frequently in a series of fun vacation-style 5Ks and 10Ks. Choose events held in quaint settings, with celebration themes, or spectacular views.
Take it easy; train just enough to be prepared to build-up after summer to take on a longer goal race in the mid-to-late fall. Follow a relaxed schedule that allows you to compete at those short race distances and enjoy the special places you visit. Search for scenic small town events with fewer rather than larger participant numbers.
Train for a middle-distance bicycle tour or hiking adventure. Attempt to become a morning exerciser if nighttime or after-work sessions interfere with summer socializing. Join a group that has a social purpose. Take strength workouts to the beach or park in the hours of the day before the crowds arrive; bring a few different weight dumbbells and use benches and picnic tables to perform various exercises.
To simultaneously fill a 'reading-hole’, try audible books. You can listen on the go, as you run, hike, cycle, or exercise. The “Game of Thrones” books by George R.R. Martin contain so much more intrigue and detail than the HBO series that its conclusion may not be so painful. Let the famous reader Jim Dale take you through all the Harry Potter books. “Read” the classics of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Twain this summer. Just as in your exercise life, you can challenge your entertainment routine as well.
Earned Runs will highlight several 2019 SUMMER CHALLENGES that might appeal to the kid in you that still wants summer to be special and magical. There will be follow-up posts to help kick-start planning.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK 18 HALF MARATHON 2019 TRAINING PLAN STARTS This is the very last week of the full plan for runners and walkers who decided to train longer. Congratulations to everyone who made it to this point or who ran or walked their race yesterday, today, or on a previous weekend. You committed and persevered.
YAY FOR YOU; WAY TO GO!
Make final nutrition, gear, and travel preparations for this upcoming weekend’s race and be sure to develop and follow a recovery plan. Runners, if you'd like to run instead of walking the day before the race, do so, but keep it short (20 minutes) and moderately intense, not race pace. Have fun and be confident. You can do this.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
POST HALF MARATHON RECOVERY PLAN If you are following the Earned Runs Half Marathon 2019 Training Plan, you will need to think in advance about RECOVERY after running the 13.1mile distance race.
[The following update was posted in 2018]
“There is wonderful advice on this topic, provided online by very experienced trainers and coaches. Some comes as math-style calculations demonstrated with graphs. Other advice calls on runners to listen to their bodies. There are various articles describing 7 tips, or 3 steps, or several stages of recovery. It’s a bit confusing if you rush through the titles and paragraph headings only, and don’t read the details. Most of the advice is similar and common sense. But it’s doesn’t come automatically to runners, and only seems ‘common’ to you if you have experienced a few races and recovery periods.
At the end of this discussion there are links to the articles used for this post should you want more details from a particular expert.
The advice generally covers 2 PERIODS of time after the race:
1) Immediately after finishing and later the day of the race
2) Days and weeks later
IMMEDIATELY AFTER CROSSING THE FINISH LINE:
Your thoughts should be centered on hydrating and eating something (a mix of protein and carbohydrates) to replenish fuel stores and help begin the process of healing damaged muscles and soft tissues. It’s best to prepare something before the race and keep it in a car or a checked bag. Leaving this to chance or to race organizers has resulted in disappointment in some instances in my experience.
Earned Runs suggestions:
Shortly after eating, an easy cool down run is recommended.
Other measures that can be taken a bit LATER IN THE DAY include:
- “Cooling” with ice baths or refreshing cool pool as needed,
- Massage or yoga session offered at the race,
- Foam rolling
- Compression apparel
The remainder of the day should be restful; use this time to celebrate your achievement and critically assess your performance in a positive light to help with future training and races.
Kristin Gustafson advises runners that they might experience an emotional reaction, which has a physical basis (post-endorphin release); a feeling of let-down is not unexpected at this time.
Sleep is also an important component of recovery, and a little extra the night of the race and over each of the following days is a good idea.
Try to skip the anti-inflammatory medications. Amanda Loudin has put forth the idea that recovery should be more “holistic” than it currently seems to be, that runners should EXPECT TO FEEL THE PHYSICAL EFFECTS of their effort and accept that discomfort as sign that progress will be made.
She incorporates advice from Steve Magness, author of The Science of Running and cross-country coach at the University of Houston. “If you look at how the body works, you realize you need to stress it to where it’s almost embarrassed,” he says. “The stimulus caused by damage allows the body to repair and adapt. This is where it makes its gains”. Hence, he cautions, dosing yourself with pain-blocking anti-inflammatory medications or ant-oxidants may subvert the natural healing that is meant to take place.
DAYS AND WEEKS AFTER THE RACE
Take it easy. This advice concerns when and how to start training again after the race. A general rule of thumb offered by several sources recommend not returning to HARD workouts for a time period that equals 1day/1mile of race distance. Roughly that translates to 2 weeks after a half marathon and 1 month after a marathon. Easy short runs are not a problem.
However, Coach Jenny Hadfield cautions against following a calculated return to regular training and hard workouts. Without using the word, ‘holistic”, she recommends following body and life signals rather than numbers. Hadfield QUALIFIES the 1day/1mile rule, indicating recovery needs can vary by race. Runners must be flexible, she advises, and base a recovery plan on “the flow of life and your body, not the calendar.” “Recovery is about healing from the overall stress in your life, not just from training or racing.” The coach provides personal examples and a couple case studies in her article.
Age is another consideration in planning your recovery according to these sources. The older you are, especially after age 40, the slower you might wish to go in recovering from a big race, especially a marathon. Rather than 1 month, Pete Magill quotes champion marathoner Tracy Lokken as saying it should be 45 days. You may wish to take that into consideration for your half marathon recovery time if you are over 40 years old (45 days for a full marathon x ½ = 22-23 days for a half marathon).
Remember that if you don’t do a good job of scheduling an adequate recovery your body is likely to help you correct your mistakes. You may find yourself with more unscheduled days off than you planned, due to a sluggish return, or worse yet, an injury.
Matt Fitzgerald recommends swimming for a faster recovery. He discusses the results of a research study that looked into this activity for recovery by triathletes, who train for their event with swim workouts! Nine triathletes initially completed an interval run then either lay down to rest or swam 2,000 meters (40 lengths of a 50 meter pool) . In addition to demonstrating better performance on a test run after recovery than triathletes who simply rested, those who swam were found to have lower blood levels of a marker of body inflammation 24 hours after that run.
It’s crazy to think that active recovery will be difficult to master, when over the past months you have driven yourself to follow a tough training plan. But it might. To preserve your ability to get back on a training schedule for another run in the fall, plan and follow a smart recovery.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
“7 Post-Race Recovery Tips by Kristin Gustafson for Active.com
“Re-thinking Recovery for Runners: Adopting A More Holistic Approach” by Amanda Loudin for Competitor.com
“What’s The Best Post Race Recovery Plan?” by Jenny Hadfield
“Faster After 40: Master Your Recovery” by Pete Magill
“Want to Recovery Faster From Running? Try Swimming” by Matt Fitzgerald
THE LAST MONDAY OF MAY is the Memorial Day Holiday in the USA, which marks the unofficial start of summer vacation season here. The Northern Hemisphere is beginning a wonderful period of long and bright daylight hours and warm weather. A shift of one to several weeks to frame an earlier or later time period would work just as well for those not inclined by nationality to recognize these specific celebrations.
Regardless of the day used to mark the beginning of the season, now is the time to plan a summer physical activity schedule.
School may have or soon will be dismissed for students for the entire summer or an inter-session break. Workplaces may be putting off regular meetings that interfere with the enjoyment of long weekends or extended noon lunch hours until after Labor Day. It’s a ideal opportunity for some to adopt a more relaxed and fun approach to exercise.
Why stick with a the same old, year-round workout/running/walking/bicycling, or swimming routines? Consider challenging yourself to try something new. It needn’t be the most physically demanding feat. Just different and a bit adventurous FOR YOU.
Ideally your challenges should take advantage of the great outdoors and the 'socialize-ability' (made-up word) of a season which entices many more of us to be out and about at all times of the day and evening. Think about trying hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, fat-tire or gravel biking, golfing, and open water swimming instead of grinding out 20-50 weekly miles of continuous running, walking, or cycling. Re-format indoor workouts and take them outside when possible.
Throughout the month of May, Earned Runs will highlight some activities in which you may be interested in participating. The Unites States' Memorial Day, falling on May 27 this year, will be identified in most cases as the ‘kick-off‘ date, but an alternate start will work just as well if scheduling is an issue or cultural differences make another date more appropriate.
The goal is to PLAN now, so the precious early days of summer aren’t squandered because of inattention and procrastination. Commit now to developing a solid program for yourself.
Like a summer camp or a playground/pool might do for children and adolescents on vacation from school, populate the calendar with specific adventures and workouts on specific days that might be paired with socially fun gatherings like beer runs, urban art tours, or even outdoor movie nights (plan to walk to the venue).
Below is a simple list, a draft preview, of potential Earned Runs 2019 Summer Challenges. The first 3 activities on the list were introduced in 2016 but confined to running. The 4TH challenge was added in 2017 for walkers. Two other challenges were added in 2018 and where possible challenges were adapted to include running/walking/cycling/fitness activities. Changes may be made this year as well as the final 2019 Summer Challenge line-up is still in development.
- Run/Walk/Cycle Across America
- Fastest 5K (or a string of FUN 5Ks)
- Summer Series Sweep
- Buddy Up
- Obstacle Course
If you have not yet printed or requested FREE Earned Runs Bibs (available to US and Canada addressees only; you’ll receive 4), do so soon. Bibs can be used to run/walk/cycle personally designed races, for training purposes, and for charting progress toward a challenge fitness goal. They can be used to motivate and inspire too.
Look for more information on each 2019 Summer Challenge during the coming weeks.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
WEEK 17 TRAINING BEGINS Some of you may be running or walking your race at the end of this week on Saturday or Sunday. Good luck if you are putting toes to the start line. If not, and you are racing the next weekend May 18 or 19 it’s important to carry on with the taper.
Take time to go review your nutrition plan the week and night before, and the day of the race. If you are flying to attend a distant competition, check out what food and fluid sources are available to you in the days leading up to the race, for meals before that day, and breakfast that morning. Consider checking a bag so you can stow non-perishable food items in it as needed.
Even if you have access to a car where you’ll be, grocery shopping may be challenging. Be sure local stores carry your brands and special dietary items. Although you may not regularly buy food items at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and other similar stores in your home locale, these businesses now carry perishables and may be convenient resources in big cities or small towns. If you are driving from home, bring with you as much of what you plan to eat and drink as is possible.
Staying with friends can be tricky. It’s usually not polite to hand over a list of specific food items to a host /hostess to obtain for you the week before arrival, but important not to disrupt your usual routine in advance of and on the morning of the race. So, do it and plan to bring generous gifts to make up for the extra work that will be necessary on your behalf.
Determine in advance restaurants you will dine in for meals if that’s the nutrition plan. Check menus online. Call ahead. Possibly service will change for a big race bringing in thousands of additional potential patrons on race weekend; ask if there are pre-race issues of which runners should be aware before arriving.
I once was shy in this regard when staying with friends for races. We weren’t on the same frequency about pre-race food and rest. I did not signal that I needed their help to eat and sleep according to plan. Consequently these were stressful events for me. My hostess for the next big away race was a runner. She went through menus with me before I arrived on her doorstep, gym bag in hand. Mary, you’re one of a kind! I hope to repay her kindness in the future.
Remember that those who are non-runners, or running the shorter 5K or 10K, may be in a party mood at a time when you must stay in training mode. Make your intentions to stick with a diet plan clear but promise that after the race you’ll join and even lead the fun.
In addition to nutrition, plan transportation and parking in advance too. If you’re walking or running a ‘neighborhood’ race, be aware that familiar landscapes can change ahead of an influx of runners and spectators.
Race day is almost here! Let the taper allow you to be fresh for the big effort and get all the travel details settled so your mental focus can be on performance.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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