IT'S YOUR MOVE! Consider training for a Thanksgiving Day Race in 2020, likely to be virtual.
CHECK OUT THE TRAINING PLANS (see PDF links below or RESOURCES page) for beginner runners and walkers in 2020, designed to help first-timers prepare to participate in one of the many Thanksgiving Day events that are likely this year to be held as virtual events across the USA. Not much has changed from 2019 except that they are a week shorter. As before, runners have the option of training on a 400 meter track one day a week.
The first day of each plan is tomorrow September 21, 2020. There’s no time to ponder making the decision in advance of the start this year, due to the lateness of our posting. With no preview, consider jumping in and performing the first day’s scheduled workout of either one, letting that experience help you commit to the full 9+ weeks leading to November 26. The running plan was adapted from one developed by Mario Fraioli for Competitor.com (now organized as PodiumRunner.com). The walker plan was adapted from plans offered free online by Hal Higdon.
The fact that Fraioli ‘s 5K running plan had a track day scheduled each week was one of the reasons it was selected by Earned Runs for beginners. The TRACK DAY option provides motivation to investigate where to find a regulation track and take advantage of the potential benefits to be gained from feeling comfortable using one to train. The following is an updated explanation for this choice that was initially posted in 2017.
“Why TRACK DAYS?”
A TRACK IS A TYPE OF FITNESS EQUIPMENT
Many beginning or would-be runners, may not have ever run, trained, or walked on a standard track. They may not know where the nearest or most accessible high school, college, or community facility is located. It may seem to be a training site that is off bounds to them, and more appropriately used by younger or more ‘serious’ athletes, who are fast, highly competitive, and in top physical shape. I felt this way about myself as this type of runner until 2014.
In my experience as a recreational walker/runner, there are three characteristics that make a track an essential piece of equipment that all runners and walkers should learn to consider a training ‘home’.
A track is MEASURED, SAFE, and ATHLETIC.
Specific distance assignments in a plan can be difficult to mentally assess for those accustomed to ‘just running’ rather than training, especially shorter rather than longer stretches. A car can be used to chart a road course in miles, and a mobile device app to determine shorter distances, but it’s not always easy to be precise with lesser distances on paths or trails. Marking exact distances by these methods is problematic too, as rarely are there memorable physical features at needed points to help runners visually recall the start and end of a set distance. (“Which tree marks 400 meters?”). If a training plan calls for varying distances the measurement difficulties are compounded.
A standard track lap or fraction of a lap is a limited distance that looks the same every time you run or walk it. Memorizing a series of landmarks isn’t required to determine the exact distance run or walked. Mentally it’s nearly effortless to use.
The track’s straight lengths are easily distinguished from the curved ends. The time it takes to cover specific distances is relatively easy to measure with a clock function on a watch or a phone app. Using a track regularly for training helps your body to develop a ‘memory’ for different distances too.
Safety is a life quality that has several dimensions: training safety, weather safety, endurance safety, traffic safety..
Training: A running surface can be more or less safe from a training injury prevention perspective, especially when workouts will be performed at higher speeds or in adverse weather conditions. A running track used for competition tends to be even, consistent, textured, slightly cushioned, and appropriately drained. This type of surface, designed specifically for officially certified events, is more likely than others to be safe for running faster-paced, precise intervals.
Weather: A running course can offer more or less protection from harsh weather elements, especially when environmental conditions are extreme or are expected to change over the duration of a single workout.
On days in which the atmosphere might be hotter, colder, windier, or wetter than is desirable for performance or health a track session may be the top safety pick. Although running or walking multiple loops of a neighborhood street course has been my preferred approach on such days, a track will do nicely when one is not readily available.
On the toughest weather days a track may beat a street course because hydrating fluids, nutrition, and dry, cooling, or warming clothes can be stowed in a bag and left in full view at the edge of the track or on bleacher seats, only a single lap away. Or, support items can be made more accessible in a nearby parked car.
Endurance: When a runner/walker is uncertain about being able to complete a given workout in its entirety, especially if longer or more difficult than previously experienced, the track can be a great place to safely test individual limits of endurance. You aren't as likely to find yourself miles from the end of tougher than expected finish during a never-before attempted session.
Traffic: Personal safety in traffic is another concern of outdoor runners and walkers. Compared to busier urban thoroughfares, a track open only to foot traffic poses minimal to no risk of bodily harm from accidents caused by faster moving vehicles. Especially now that dedicated lanes near the street curb have been marked off for the use of bicycling commuters, rush hour exercise requires environmental awareness of all traffic dangers including those related to poor visibility in lowlight conditions.
Some runners and walkers prefer isolated paths or suburban and country roads for avoidance of crowds. However, in cases of emergency these are places where the likelihood of receiving timely assistance from passers-by is diminished. A track can also be unsafe if in an area that is poorly lighted, out of the sight of others, or without security monitoring. Checkout the active.com article by Lauren Hargrave, which provides personal safety tips for runners.
Performing a workout on a track is one way for beginners to feel and act like the athletes they aspire to become. Acquiring this mental attitude will help a runner persevere in the tougher training regimens and possibly adopt healthier eating and sleeping habits.
The track is also a user-friendly place to perform pre-run dynamic stretching and mobility routines and to get in post-run static stretches as well as body-weight strength exercises (step-ups and step-downs, plank variations, and push-ups, etc) on benches and stairs. Holding to the rule that you cannot start the running portion of the workout or depart from the premises before completing necessary routines increases the chances they will NOT be skipped.
In some races the finish line is located on a track and the very last portion of the race includes a partial lap. Performing some workouts on a track can help beginners to visualize a successful goal race finish.
Despite the encouragement of Earned Runs, the track may not be a desirable place to train for some. The Track Day Schedule identifies the approximate distances that should be run that day to help you accomplish the session goals without utilizing a track.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
RUNNERS PLAN FREE PDF
WALKERS PLAN FREE PDF
2019 TRACK DAY SCHEDULE
2017 Mintues to Miles calculations
ARTICLES EARNED RUNS LIKES that might be of interest:
Simple mantra to try if you’re new to meditation while walking or running, or have been resistant to adopting this healthy practice. The featured poem is only 8 words in length.
https://www.shape.com/weight-loss/tips-plans/weight-loss-tips-boost-post-workout-calorie-burn The concept of ‘afterburn’, a phenomenon known in sports research as EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) might provide motivation to try: strength training with compound exercises, heavier weights, or heart rate monitoring; HIIT sessions that use cardio activities or resistance exercises; or exercise routines that ramp up physical effort.
Serious fitness walkers might like this review of exciting shoes that don’t have the usual solid look of “walkers”. If you’ve never run before and are thinking of trying, consider alternating walking and running to get started, a method made famous by Jeff Galloway.
Several of these reviewed shoes could serve both purposes if you decide to try running. I purchased the ultra-cushioned Hoka One One Bondi 7 shoe, which became available September 1, and have just begun to wear these shoes on longer run/walk/run sessions.
SOLO CHALLENGE: FASTEST KNOW TIME
Establishing an individual fastest time record (FKT) on a nearby or favorite course of your choosing could be what motivates stepping up your fitness activity in the time of COVID-19, when avoiding even small crowds has become a necessary habit.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac (established 1782) prediction for milder weather in winter 2020-21 is discussed in terms of what it means for outdoor exercise. The last few sentences of the article state that generally the accuracy of the predictions made by this organization is about 80%. There’s no explanation of how accuracy rate is determined calculated for each region.
On the other hand, the Farmer’s Almanac (established 1810) predicts a colder winter for at least half the United States. If you like to follow these kinds of forecasts as entertainment, like I do and cheer for the outlook that suits my purpose, rather than day to day assistance in activity planning, check them out. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/extended-forecast
Hope something here offers inspiration or motivation as the fall season begins. I tend to think of the beginning of each school calendar as my 'new year', as in my student years autumn brought the promise of crisp cooler weather, allowed resumption of school friendships, and offered the excitement of new teachers and subjects. Have a great week!
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
GET OUTSIDE AND LOVE IT! WITH SHORTENING DAYLIGHT HOURS AHEAD AND COOLER AUTUMN TEMPS AND PRECIPITATION ON THE WAY it’s time to think about wearing jackets during outdoor exercise. Not only for protection from the elements but for safety in traffic, which basically involves being highly visible in lower light environments.
It may be possible to get by this season wearing a jacket that’s already hanging in your closet. However, to best serve you during harsh outdoor weather sessions the item should be constructed specifically to provide weather protection and adequate ventilation for moderate- to high-intensity exercise activity that will raise body temperatures roughly 15-20 degrees. https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20803133/what-to-wear/
If you can afford to splurge a little, a tech jacket is something to start shopping for now. To help motivate saving consider setting up a personal ‘reward’ system now, while the weather is beautiful, that enables you to putting aside a fraction of the full price each week that can go toward this relatively expensive purchase.
In the RunToTheFinish blog article, Amanda Brooks put together a selection based on her testing a variety of outerwear for different weather conditions including wind, rain, and winter cold, and for darkness. Some prices may seem high, but for technology that delivers breathable apparel, some runners will find the cost is justified.
I believe this because for decades I ran wearing extra-large sized windbreakers from my husband’s cast-off pile layered over warm, bulky, non-tech clothes. Realistically we did not have excess funds to spend on the best fitness gear for ourselves while raising children who seemed to outgrow whatever they were wearing for school and sports. No one saw me in this unattractive get-up in early mornings, and I don’t think the fitness apparel industry offered as much back then.
The shortcomings of my budget sports wardrobe became apparent during long weekend winter runs when I began training for half marathons in my early 60’s. Thus attired, I would be alternately sweating under the unventilated windbreaker then freezing after shedding and tying it around my waist. But, in this way I managed to cool off and warm-up in cycles on a budget.
Finally, after 40 years of running, I bought the Nike brand tech jacket I still wear now. It has neon yellow plus reflective surface high-visibility features. I still layer as needed in harsher conditions but this jacket plus a complementing selection of base + tech tops provide comfortable temperature control and easy mobility.
SINGLE VERSUS SEVERAL JACKETS
Some runners love to have a closet full of jacket choices. Others tend to prefer a single, well-tested favorite that can be worn alone in milder conditions or as an outer garment as indicated by thermometer readings and sun radiance.
Geographic regions that don’t routinely deal with snow and ice may have more predictable non-summer weather for longer running, walking, and fitness outdoor sessions. And choice of a snuggly fitting performance jacket specific for the day’s weather might be perfect for most workouts.
While residing temporarily in coastal Texas and Southern California I happily noticed that relatively little thought and effort was needed to dress for long outdoor winter runs. Living mostly in Michigan and Ohio had taught me to expect Great Lakes seasonal conditions that could change from bad, to worse, to better and back in a single session. So, I came to prefer layers of apparel with a means of shedding/adding clothing over several hours.
This preference has recently been boosted because the Jeff Galloway run/walk/run method I now use for training and competition requires a regularly timed changes in tempo, which can result in periodic body warming and cooling. Dressing for protection becomes a bit more complicated if you intend to significantly vary pace/effort at specific intervals.
Wind speed should be factored into apparel selection on any given late fall/winter day. The NOAA Weather Prediction Center provides a handy calculator. Before adding 15-20 degrees to the actual temperature to get an outdoor-conditions “feels like” reading to dress by, check wind speed to determine the impact moving air will have on your session. For example, a 40-degree Fahrenheit day with 8 mile-per-hour breeze drops the number to 34 degrees F.
An alternative to protective layering that covers all weather conditions is arranging a convenient apparel ‘change station’. A home or car, located at a central or convenient point along a long running/walking route can serve as a place to store emergency outerwear, as well as hydration and nutrition. A stroller* run/walk, performed when a carriage can be pushed over bike paths or roads cleared of ice and snow, is another way to dress for conditions on the go as it can serve as a mobile change station.
SAFETY MATTERS TOO
Previous Earned Runs fall season posts have discussed high visibility safety options for outdoor exercise. A reflective jacket like that by PYR reviewed in Brooks’ article (or a clothing strip) can be helpful when light shines on its surface but arranging to have more than one piece of gear/gadget for maintaining visibility is a safer practice.
My go-to morning jacket is half neon yellow and half reflective gray. Motor vehicles can be made aware of my presence by its reflected shine and cyclists can see the bright color in the dim light of dawn. A hand-held LED light that bounces with motion shows me the way and announces my approach to others in darkness. In winter, when tall snow piles at the sides of roads or heavy snowfall or rain can cancel other visibility measures, I wear a Noxgear brand Tracer 360 on flashing mode.
Preparing to be comfortable and safe while outdoors for the upcoming dark, wet, and cold seasons can be more or less complicated depending on personal exercise habits and geographic locale. Whatever your workout situation, Brooks’ article may provide guidance and excitement about trialing new gear. By organizing a wardrobe now to wear for more difficult weather you may increase chances of getting outside and loving it.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
NOW THAT TRADITIONAL SUMMER VACATION SEASON IS OVER, IT’S TIME TO LOOK BACK and write the classic first-week-of-school essay, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.” Ordinarily the during the days after Memorial Day and before Labor Day I would keep mornings open for fitness activities and scramble to generate ideas for and compose summer-themed blog posts in the afternoons. I spent a lot of time sitting for the cause of blogging. This summer, I decided to shutter the Earned Runs blog from June 1 to September 1, take a personal break from thinking and writing about fitness, and “do” fitness.
The main purpose was to enjoy more time outdoors being physically active than indoors creating scheduled posts.
Just prior to going blog-silent, in the last week of May, I had completed training and had run/walked my very first marathon. Ever. It was a significant victory, not just because it was an initial attempt at conquering this distance, but because physical limitations had seemed to put this goal permanently beyond my reach. Forever.
Two years earlier I had decided not to run ever again to slow the progression of damage from mild-moderate arthritis in my knees. Walking only, but not running, seemed the wisest plan going forward to avoid further disability and need for joint replacement in the future.
Then, in early 2020 I started to track my heart rate during walks sessions with a Fitbit device. The numbers indicated the intensity of my efforts were in the ‘fat burning’ range but not reaching the level of a decent cardiorespiratory workout. Was the tracker sensing mechanism defective? I decided to track my heart rate while running before returning/exchanging the Fitbi.
A brief jog generated a robust heart rate increase into “cardio” and above into “peak” range, proving the Fitbit worked as advertised, and indicating ‘just’ walking wasn’t the best aerobic workout for me.
Because advice from my orthopedic surgeon had NOT included restrictions on running (the decision not to run self advised), I investigated the medical topic more deeply. The results lead me to believe that, in absence of knee pain, I could safely give slow jogging, even running, a serious trial.
I settled on a Jeff Galloway run/walk/run training and competing strategy, trained for a half marathon, and then the full 26.3-mile marathon event goal. I accomplished these goal races (converted to virtual versions because of health concerns) without injury or discomfort.
Feeling perfectly fine physically while maximally training in the last weeks before the Charlevoix Virtual Marathon, I also felt mentally and emotionally confident about running future endurance distance events. And thus, accepted the challenge laid down by Lazarus Lake (of the Barkley’s Marathon fame) to virtually Race Across Tennessee (RAT).
And that’s what I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION… I became a RAT!!!
I finished running/walking the 1000+km distance (634.8 miles) in less than 92 days on July 31 and spent all of August recovering and concentrating on strength work.
I focused on just this one RAT event/challenge during the summer of 2020 and proudly completed it. Considering that an average of 6 miles every single day was required to finish by August 31, the deadline for completion, each days’ miles goal dominated my fitness schedule.
To stay healthy, I spent nearly an hour prior to leaving the house performing foam roller, warm-up, stretching, mobility, and basic strength exercises. It was a no-brainer schedule and involved a simplified routine. It was perfect for a summer blown apart by pandemic precautions, shutdowns, and controversies. There wasn’t much mental effort expended.
I was greatly impressed with the sense of community created on Facebook by my fellow runners and walkers in the RAT and BAT (Back Across Tennessee) challenges, as well as the progress reporting of the organizers. So much so that when Laz Lake announced he and his friends were putting together a global virtual team race* that would follow up RAT, I created a multi-sport team in the name of Earned Runs to join up.
Because I enjoyed the RAT endeavor so very much, I hope the team race will help regiment my fitness activities at least 1- 2 years going forward, and that it will be as satisfying an experience as RAT. Sometimes athletes must look years into the future to plan out training programs to achieve a once-in-a-lifetime goal. I feel ready to try.
What did you do in your summer 2020 vacation? Was it forced upon you by the COVID restrictions? Did the activities change your thinking about fitness efforts? Will the experience influence your choice of challenges going forward? Tell your story to Earned Runs. It might help others find direction in a time that continues to be disrupted by global events
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
Race Across Tennessee (RAT). https://vacationwithoutacar.com
*A coming blog post will highlight CRAW. If you want to check it out now, look online for the Circumpolar Race Around the World.
THIS WEEKEND MARKS The TRADITIONAL USA END OF SUMMER & START OF FALL. Regardless of where you live, celebrate september's change of the seasons.
SEPTEMBER 1 MARKS THE START OF METEOROLOGICAL FALL in the Northern Hemisphere and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Wherever in the world you might live, it’s the beginning of a new season.
For those interested in fitness, this day can be used to kick-off a new healthy living regimen, start training for a race or to take on a new physical challenge. Why wait for the first day of January, the middle winter month in the North, to get serious about exercising and diet?
While weather conditions won’t remain relatively gentle much beyond October in many locations, these early days of autumn hold the promise of warmth during sunlit hours as dawn and dusk are still many hours apart. Natural outdoor settings display a range of color as trees and other elements of the landscape hold on to leaves and flowers that can be expected to brighten or deepen before finally falling.
The doors, yards, stoops, and porches of homes and windows and storefronts of businesses may soon become displays for orange, amber, khaki, and aubergine-colored autumn décor. It can be a lovely time of year to be walking, running, and cycling within and around parks, neighborhoods, and town centers.
Charming picture-book autumn scenes may not greet everyone attempting to exercise outside, however. Protests and other demonstrations over the summer have raised consciousness that a sense of security and well-being is a luxury that many cannot hope to enjoy. Shortened post-summer days may introduce a threat to personal safety in high-risk neighborhoods. Seasonal weather patterns increase dangers of excess heat, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, and derechos.
Might a resolve to do better, when it comes to individual fitness, provide the boost some of us need and are fortunately able to act on, to make it past the disappointments of Summer 2020?
It’s worth a try.
Although September 1st is not officially the start of the New Year 2021, consider using it as if it were the end of the 8 calendar months of 2020 that forced fear and inactivity on most of the world’s populations. Let’s begin 2020.67 knowing that human ingenuity and technology might help us circumvent discouragements brought on by widespread cancellations, closures, quarantines, and weather dangers.
We now have a somewhat bigger picture of what must be endured because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps we can begin planning, with care and hope, to reconfigure daily routines into those which allow moments of joy and normalcy. The first step, in the area of exercise and fitness is to decide that, with dedicated effort, it is possible to make a new start toward improving our bodies’ physical functioning this month whether it involve recovery, rehabilitation, strengthening, mobility, or aerobic capacity.
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
PS: What did you do on your summer vacation? Earned Runs will report on an upcoming post.
CONSIDER A SPECIAL 2020 SUMMER CHALLENGE
Spend 9 minutes of your warm-up or outdoor exercise session to reflect on the fact that because of race, lives can be unjustly threatened and sadly, lost. That people can be afraid to exercise outside their homes or neighborhoods and may not fully be able to enjoy what we runners say is the most accessible sport. And that there may be ways in which your action, voice, or attitude can effect a change. Do it just once this summer or periodically as you head out to exercise.
Professional distance runner Marielle Hall provides material for us to ponder in those 9 minutes in a June 2, 2020 runnersworld.com article, “Racing to Stay Alive.”
As a black athlete, Hall shares her experiences and describes her reactions to learning of the dehumanization and violence suffered by “black and brown bodies”, especially when viewing the video of the attack on Aumaud Aubry. Aubry was out running when he was assaulted. She lays out the challenge of fighting such injustices in sport terms that we should be able to understand:
“Fighting racial injustice in America is an endurance sport. It is going to take time, and sustained focus, to galvanize our communities. Being tired is not enough. The race can be won, but it requires dutiful action from all of us.”
Marielle Hall in runnersworld.com article, “Racing to Stay Alive.”
Perhaps we don’t see ourselves as being part of the problem, can’t imagine ourselves acting like other horrible people do in videos that capture instances of injustice.
But if we dedicate part of one or more runs to focus on the issues faced by blacks and others* during an activity as peaceful as running, walking, or bicycling we might prevent our personal omission or commission of a future act which, although miniscule in scope and seemingly innocent in intention, upholds a hurtful system.
Earned Runs, striving to motivate and support personal athletic endeavors for all, hopes to help with winning the endurance race Marielle Hall has challenged runners to set as a goal. We’re promoting this special 2020 Summer Challenge, which involves committing to at least one 9-minute period of contemplation during outdoor exercise. Submit a request and receive special stickers with your set of competition bibs.
RUN & MOVE TO PROTECT BLACK LIVES
*It’s not an easy task to write about race, partly because it’s not always clear whether terminology will be unintentionally offensive, dismissive, or not inclusive of all who suffer racial injustices. If the use of “black” is objectionable, please comment on this post to explain and inform. I tried to use language in Marielle Hall’s article as a guide.
Patricia K Senagore
THE EARNED RUNS BLOG IS USING THE MONTHS OF JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST THIS YEAR AS VACATION TIME. Taking the advice that frequently is provided here, we are hoping to come back in September refreshed and re-invigorated from time spent enjoying the nicer outdoor conditions and longer daylight hours in activities that do not involve sitting. For me that might include gardening, preserving, hiking, cooking and baking, puzzle gaming, cleaning and organizing, to name just a few examples.
It is hoped that moderately vigorous physical movement will increase beyond that exerted in formal exercise, and that more effort will be made to build and stengthen personal and community relationships (within that which is allowed by recommended social distancing practices, of course)
In our 7th year of operation as a business and 6th year of regular blog postings, it seems a perfect time to take a ‘real’ vacation, especially as so many sports activities are transitioning to virtual experiences.
This summer will be one like no other, it appears, in which most of the elite running competitions have altered their spring and summer schedules and instituted virtual options for recreational participants. The 2020 Boston Marathon, at first postponed from April until September, has recently been cancelled; a virtual marathon will be held instead.
Many other less famous events have become virtual. The 2020 Charlevoix Marathon that I trained to participate in on June 20, was also cancelled. A virtual event was organized for registrants and others not yet registered. The Big 10 10K also announced a virtual version for the summer of 2020, which I may join as well. Fees are a bit less for virtual competitions, which makes them especially attractive for economy sake.
Another selling point of virtual races this year, in my opinion, is that the entire field will be accomplishing the goal distance remotely. We will all be in the same situation, attempting to remain together in spirit as members of the competing/running/walking/fitness community in a time of social restriction.
Event organizations severely stressed financially by the pandemic shutdowns can perhaps make a comeback if support is received by faithful participants through virtual race registrations. If you care about specific races, learn how you might help in this way.
Earned Runs has a new sticker (image above) that celebrates this virtual summer and all the summers that will follow. We think it’s likely that the trend will take off and continue strong into future seasons, even as real-time physical events resume operations when safe.
Earned Runs competition bibs can help runners and walkers and all other fitness enthusiasts train for summer or fall virtual events and can be used to compete is custom-designed personal competitions. Although blogposts will take a break, bib requests will be accepted as usual and sets mailed. Several stickers will be included. Check out the Summer line-up shown below. This summer we will accept requests through the CONTACT link for specific stickers. Please send complete proper mailing information.
Additions and updates will be made in other earned-runs.com pages, like RESOURCES and GEAR LOVE. All materials for the summer Challenges including “Run-Walk-Bike Across America 2020” Summer Challenge II can be found on the RESOURCES page.
Hopefully each of you can find a way to de-stress from the worrisome goings-on and dangers of the winter and spring. If not a full-stop vacation, at least one or a few long weekends. Thank you for your interest and support.
Please email to connect over these months.
See you in September...
RUN& MOVE HAPPY!
FIND A FORMULA THAT ‘FEELS’ BEST TO IDENTIFY YOUR PERSONAL TARGET RANGES AND TO MEET FITNESS GOALS. There have been Earned Runs blog posts in the past about the hidden benefits of high intensity exercise with regard to improved immunity and decreased risk of dementia. One of the articles discussed, based on research in which data was collected more than 4 decades, measured exercise intensity using the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale.
Exercising participants subjectively described the degree of difficulty of a cycle ergometer session effort with an expression like “very light”, “very hard”, or “very, very hard.” that corresponded to a number on the Borg RPE scale (likely the original 0-21 scale).
The Borg RPE scale, the original or one of its two revisions, has been used successfully in many research studies. Runners and other exercising athletes may have used their own version of a perceived exertion scale without knowledge of the formal Borg research tool. Trainers and coaches would refer to this practice as running or training by “feel” to distinguish it from efforts measured objectively by heart rate.
Because the intensity level at which exercise is performed is increasingly seen as key to obtaining health benefits, like weight control and blood pressure and glucose management, how do we know by ‘feel’ that we are at the correct level to achieve a specific outcome? How do we know we are working hard enough or not overly hard when we use ‘perceived’ exertion measures to guide training?
Is a heart rate monitor required?
Probably not. However, if checking your individual perception of effort against a heart rate monitor number will help build confidence by taking away uncertainty, go for it. Use the Borg RPE scale to describe the subjective difficulty of a session and at that time record a heart rate monitor reading. Check that reading against a target heart rate range. After that, exercise mostly by ‘feel.’ Check a heart rate monitor intermittently as needed to allow for improvement or detraining. What feels hard at the start of a training program will be considered easy in later weeks. Conversely, what was easy during a training peak might not be so after months of not working out.
An article by Laura Williams, “What is My Max Heart Rate and How Can I Use It In Training?” for runnersworld.com helps with that process. Williams describes the pros and cons of using the popular and simple (Fox) method of calculating Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): 220 beats per minute - minus your age. She includes other formulas as well.
Multiplying your MHR by a desired percent effort will determine your training level target heart rate. The values for 65%-85% effort by age are likely to be generically posted on exercise equipment in fitness centers. Thus, the 65-85% effort range of a 20-year old person with a 200 bpm MHR would be 130-170 bpm, 114-149 bpm will be 65-85% range for a 45-year old with an MHR of 175bpm, and 98-128 bpm will be the range for a 70-year old with MHR of 150bpm. However, it is thought that this simple Fox calculation of MHR doesn’t take into account fitness level or gender. And the range posted on machines is likely too broad to help figure out intensity level/zone.
An article by Paige Waehner for verywellfit.com explains in detail how to calculate MHR based on your individual resting heart rate by using UPDATED formulas compared with the Fox formula. For men and women [206.9 – (0.67 x age)], the Tanaka formula has been developed, and, specifically for women [206 – (0.88 x age)], the Gulati* formula. Another article by the same author posts a Target Heart Rate Chart for low, moderate, aerobic zone, and vigorous intensity training based on the Tanaka formula (which for most purposes can be rounded off to 207 - (0.7 x age), according to age.
Another article on the topic, authored by John Bobalik for active.com uses the Fox formula to determine MHR and then the Karvonen method (which requires you to know your resting heart rate) to determine the various target heart rates for training/effort levels:
-aerobic range for fat burning (50-75% MHR)
-aerobic range for fitness (75-85% MHR)
-aerobic-anaerobic threshold (85-90% MHR)
-anaerobic range for fitness (90-100% MHR)
The math calculations are clearly explained with examples in Bobalik’s piece, and I found it the most useful of all the articles cited. A different site provides a calculator which will do this after you insert numbers for MHR and resting heart rate.
Some women may wish to use the Gulati* formula to determine their MHR. The maximum number is a bit lower and the target ranges of beats per minute per training level tend to run a bit lower. A 70-year old female’s MHR would be 150 bpm by the Fox formula and 144 bpm by the Gulati formula, which would lower the target goal effort for each zone.
Men and women hoping to get the most out of themselves may wish to use the Tanaka formula. A 70-year old’s MHR would be 150 by the Fox formula and 160 by the Tanaka.
Williams’ runnersworld.com piece reminds readers that however calculated, MHR formula-derived rates are estimates that should be used as guides to training. The target numbers may need to be adjusted up or down depending on perceived effort “as time goes on and you adapt to training”. Again, it seems that ‘feel’ plays a deciding role in how we train.
Do you want to avoid formulas, calculations, and target heart rates altogether when determining training effort intensity levels? The parting message from the NYT WELL blog* might be for you. “Everyone kind of has their own natural pace”, expert Dr. Tim Church is quoted as saying.
Keeping track of a number may distract some from sticking with an exercise program that’s enjoyable. Skip the math and work by “feel,” as hard and as long as you wish, if a non-formula approach helps you meet your fitness goals.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
*Tara Parker-Pope discusses the research that generated the re-calibrations for both men and women in a 2010 nytimes.com WELL blog. In Parker-Pope’s piece she identified the lead researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago as the source of the new women’s formula, Dr. Martha Gulati. The original publication in the journal Circulation was located by Earned Runs; see the very last section “Clinical Perspective” for explanation of the new formula.
The specific source of the Tanaka formula was not provided by Parker-Pope although the work of University of Colorado researchers was mentioned.
(compares Fox, Tanaka, and Gulati and the Karvonen method)
(uses 206.7 minus (age x 0.67 formula)
Target Heart Rate Calculator chart using Tanaka MHR formula
(uses 206.7 minus (age x 0.67 formula)
(Karvonen calculator tool)
Explanation of resting heart rate, with fitness charts by gender, age
IN-EAR IPHONE-STYLE EARBUDS DON’T STAY IN MY EARS unless it’s cold outside and I am wearing earmuffs that, in addition to keeping my ears warm, help hold them securely in place. This situation is a double-down on a potentially unsafe practice, especially in high traffic situations on city streets and isolated areas in which muggings might occur.
Wearing the in-ear ‘marshmallow’ style or 'jelly' (silicone) buds is similarly risky for me, drowning out sounds that I might need to hear to stay healthy and whole. Plus, they tend to make annoying squeaking sounds when worn in my ears (anybody else have this problem?).
Whether listening to music while exercising is good or harmful for the body and soul is not the issue here. It could be a topic for debate if you feel strongly about being mindful of physical signals during workouts versus needing tunes to increase or maintain pace activity.
It’s about wearing a headphone set that can help with accessing a phone or device for any number of reasons. Sometimes I listen to app updates on pace and mileage during training runs/walks that require multiple changes over the course of a session. Other times I listen to audiobooks, especially on long easy runs. Most times I want to be alerted when family or friends attempt to connect.
Whatever your reasons for needing headphones, a bone conduction set may work when other types don’t deliver good results, under circumstances in which high-quality music sound is not terribly important and awareness of outside situations is wise.
The Aftershokz™ Air set I recently purchased employs Bluetooth™ technology, which allows amazingly easy listening and phone conversations without in-ear components or dangling microphones I haven’t tried other brands (or wired versions) and am not offering an endorsement of Aftershokz™ products over others. This set works well enough for my purposes.
Now I can look forward to a summer of running/walking in weather nice enough that earmuffs won't be necessary.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
IT'S EARNED RUNS' 2020 SUMMER CHALLENGE PLANNING TIME
NOTE: FOR ALL SUMMER CHALLENGES, INCLUDING THE “RUN-WALK-BIKE ACROSS AMERICA 2020”, EARNED RUNS will be using blog posts from Summer 2019 for Summer 2020.
Rather than modify language to reflect changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, which will be different from place-to-place and time-to time across the globe, we chose to go with links to the optimistic and enthusiastic posts of the preceding year.
The dates in the posts will be inaccurate, but that shouldn’t affect your ability to to get going and enjoy the outdoors in the coming months.
Have fun and take care to follow precautions issued by the health organizations and local /state/national officials.
Check the RESOURCES page for information and materials on each challenge under the heading of SUMMER CHALLENGES 2020!
RUN AND MOVE HAPPY!
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 in otherparts of the world 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 (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.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
SUMMER PLANNING: SHOW-HOLES, SCHOOL-HOLES, TRAINING-HOLES
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON YOUR 2020 SUMMER OF COVID-19 VACATION?
The 18th and last week of the Half Marathon + ‘SAINTS DAYS’ Training Plan, which spanned January to mid-May, has been completed. Participant runners and walkers will have accomplished their long-distance goal race and should be in recovery mode for 2-3 weeks.
After finishing a long training plan, initially I tend to be elated and relieved, only to experience a subsequent let-down. This feeling is comparable to the sadness of a “show-hole”, the slang term said to have been invented by Amazon Fire to describe the sense of emptiness that follows the ending of a favorite TV series.
‘Training holes’ can occur upon the completion of multi-month programs designed to prepare for big competitions like ultras, triathlons, marathons, half marathons and obstacle course events. 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 in some ways uncomfortably uncluttered and there no longer is a programming slot or a daily workout to which other weekly activities are anchored. As much as there was to complain about, the absence of such commitments creates a void.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE SUMMER OF COVID-19?
Many elementary school children and their parents must annually deal with a ‘school-hole’ at the end of the academic year, and faced with a wide-open summer. Some break up the long stretch between 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 secure jobs to earn needed funds. Friends and families break up the roughly 15-week period with weekend trips and vacations, both spontaneous and advance-planned.
Not his summer. Training holes are the least of our problems.
Daily test-positive infection case and death counts remind us that straying from quarantine recommendations may jeopardize health. The layering on of global health emergency-generated stay-at-home orders with government mandated restrictions on schools, businesses, restaurants, organized sports, and entertainment has compounded feelings that attempting to enjoy the summer of 2020 might be a lost cause.
We’re not sure what activities, other than virtual, will be allowed or safe. There is cautious hope that scattered attempts to re-open the world are successful and further easing might be possible. However, we are warned the situation potentially can worsen as fall approaches! Uncertainty about the immediate, near, and distant future saps strength, enthusiasm, and motivation.
In normal times, adults without children at home might not feel the need to construct a summer fitness activity schedule for themselves.
However, at any age lack of planned fitness activities can lead some to experience anxiety about exactly how to enjoy these “carefree” days and how not to miss out (FOMO); even mental health can be affected. Spontaneity isn’t easy; it can be stressful to come up with novel recreational opportunities on the fly.
At a normal summer’s end there’s potential for even more disappointment to set in when, retrospectively, nothing fun, exciting, or even mildly awesome took place that would help write that classic elementary school report, “What did you do on your summer vacation
In this abnormal “2020 Summer of COVID-19”, it may be critical to physical and mental health to establish a season long plan and follow a routine for exercise.
In previous non-COVID years Earned Runs has suggested that to fill an ordinary ‘training-hole’, activities that ‘challenge’ old routines should receive top consideration,
In the “2020 Summer of Covid-19” Earned Runs believes it is especially important to motivation and morale to change exercise activities that were used to fill fitness needs in the first months of the pandemic shutdown.
For example, if you walked or ran without a goal achievement or training plan in the first months of March-April-May you might:
Rather than expecting to test yourself over months with a grueling challenge, take it easy this summer. Expend enough effort to feel you are routinely physically active and not losing fitness ground, but frequently enough that you are able to tally multiple regular sessions in a log (or on a free Earned Runs Competition Bib). In September you’ll enjoy looking back at a season’s accomplishments, and write that report (“What I did on my summer vacation”)
Follow a relaxed but firm, no-cheating schedule that allows you to enjoy the time you are active. Consider injecting a bit of learning into virtual event efforts by ‘exploring’ the special locales in which they ordinarily would be held. Search for virtual events in small scenic towns as well as big famous cities around the world.
Another way to shake-up the summer might be to simply change the time of day in which you work-out, if possible, given that work schedules have been disrupted by the pandemic.
Attempt to become a morning exerciser if previously hitting the gym or road after work in the late day or evening. Take strength workouts outside to the beach or park in the early hours of the day before the crowds arrive. Bring a few different resistance bands or dumbbell weights, and use benches and picnic tables to perform various exercises.
Earned Runs will highlight several 2020 SUMMER CHALLENGES that might appeal to the kid in you that still wants this stressful summer to be special and magical. There will be a follow-up post to help planning. Check the RESOURCES page for materials.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
THE ABSTRACT OF THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE, “Nutritional strategies for maintaining muscle mass and strength from middle-age to later life: a narrative review” in the February 2020 issue of the journal Maturitassummarizes the results of a review by scientists looking for evidence that early nutritional interventions might improve later life circumstances when it comes to preserving muscle. Athletes looking to enjoy their sport as masters might wish to take note.
The findings of a number of scientific studies were examined in this study and discussed to help guide future dietary prescriptions aimed at maintaining muscle tissue and strength in individuals as they age, or perhaps, even reversing losses.
Nutrients discussed include:
Diet will help this process by supplying adequate amounts and types of building materials, as well as substances that allow effective synthesis of muscle tissue and which prevent excessive breakdown. The details of such research studies are what fuel some to follow certain whole food diets or shop for expensive concentrated supplements.
The bottom line appears to be that a magic dietary formulation for saving the muscle we have in middle age as we grow older has yet to be identified. Building and maintaining a healthy amount of muscle is likely always to involve persistent strength training. We will need to work at it over the decades, not just for a season or a specific competition.
Initially I was a bit disappointed by the conclusion; it wasn’t unexpected. Truly amazing findings would have made the headlines last year when the paper was e-published ahead of print. Many of us would have responded and cleared the pharmacy or grocery store shelves of items that promised to deliver easy results.
The hopeful news is that scientists are looking for shortcuts to healthy body function in old age now. They admit that the only proven remedy for too little muscle, up to this point anyway, is exercise. We have a chance to keep what muscle we’ve got if we pay attention to this fact and persevere with resistance training over time. This way we’re covered regardless of the results science delivers.
The thought of needing to strength train FOREVER in order be strong into one’s 80’s and nineties may be discouraging. However, the Earned Runs philosophy of physical activity to achieve significant and meaningful health benefits fits perfectly with this prescription. By committing regularly to consecutive challenges, sometimes planned a year or more in advance, hitting each mark, building on each success, the path to reaching that long-term goal is smoothed and made accessible.
Getting on this path is as easy as requesting a bib set and using to to record a year’s worth of progress and victories.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
Alfonso J. Cruz-Jentoft, Bess Dawson Hughes, David Scott, Carrie M. Sanders, Rene Rizzoli. Mauritas 132 (2020) 57-64.
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!
Remember to take time to recover from this long-distance endurance race (one day per mile); take a couple of weeks off from hard training runs/walks. Consider mixing up the summer with exercise that doesn’t focus on another endurance race. Earned Runs will be taking the summer “off” from blog posting, so the last few posts in May will offer suggestions.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
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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