Non-running training tips for runners

If you’re a trail runner training for a race, there are some important non-running training tips to include in your plan to make sure you do and finish the race feeling strong, healthy and mentally tough, so both your body and brain are in their comfort zone. You need to train for your strength, brain power, nutrition and fueling, and finding the right gear.  Once you’ve sorted out every aspect of a race, it will make it more enjoyable, less stressful, which will increase your energy, positivity and endurance. Avoiding stress will protect your body from many negative issues that stress can affect (physical, digestive and emotional).

  1. Strength Training

Adding some strength and core training sessions at least 2-3 times/week will help you run faster and longer feeling healthy and avoid injuries. Especially during long-distance races, once your body senses some fatigue, your running form can get imbalanced and you might start dealing with some muscle issues. If your full body muscles are strong, your core, arms and legs, your energy power will be higher during a long-distance race. You can add some basic core at home workouts to make it easier with some busy schedule. If you don’t have access to a gym you can do it all at home with a set of dumbbells. Include some good glutes strengthening exercises to build up a great strong running form.

  1. Hike

Hiking is part of most long-distance trail races, hiking up all the steep inclines is crucial to make it to the finish line and keeping a steady pace. Pushing too hard during the climbing can make it challenging to finish the race. Power hiking is a skill, and it must be practiced and part of your training. It is important to get comfortable into switching between hiking and running during a long race. Also, another great benefit of adding hikes, is spending more time on your feet and legs, by improving their endurance and strength. Hikes with family and friends are also good training sessions for long-distance races.

  1. Nutrition and Fueling

Finding the right nutrition and fueling according to your training schedule and races is very important. Feeding your body with the right nutrients in the right amount will maximize your energy levels and recovery. You need to eat according to your training intensity and distance, as your training changes, you should readjust your nutrition. During long-distance or high intensity training blocks, you need to increase your calorie and carbohydrates consumption slightly to ensure your body has adequate fuel. Nutrition timing is also the key to helping with your training. Before runs or workouts you need to reduce the fat, fiber and protein intake, carbohydrates are crucial for long-distance or high intensity runs. But after training sessions, protein, healthy fat and some carbohydrates will help with recovery and promote essential muscle repair. Part of your training should also include testing what you need and can eat before, during and after a long-distance run. Short-distance runs mostly need hydration and electrolytes. You need to test what your body will tolerate best, in which type (solid, liquid, gel), and which flavor your body will like. During long-distance races, our body often appreciates having access to different flavors. To add or mimic the conditions of your race into your training, will allow you to get comfortable with the right nutrition and fueling and give you the greatest chance of having a great race feeling strong.

  1. Find the Right Gear

Finding and testing the right gear for a specific race is crucial in order to avoid any pain, chafing, blisters, injuries.
Shoes: One of the most important gear is shoes. Wearing the right type of shoes according to your foot type, size, pronation, the distance, the course (more technical trail, more concrete) will make the whole distance feel comfortable and happy.
Racepack: Another important gear to find the right size and fitting is your hydrapack. Finding a pack that fits properly (no chafing), is not too heavy, gives you easy access to all your fueling and gear, the right size for your race will make it much easier and fun to run a long-distance. You need to test your pack for a few long runs to make sure you find the right one.
Socks: Another important gear to look after our feet and toes are socks. Finding the right fabric and brand for our specific feet and shoes will save you from suffering from blisters and save your toenails.
Shorts:Another important gear are shorts, if you run long-distance, you need to find the right fitting shorts, with great fabric quality. Even if you apply anti-chafing gel or cream, if your shorts don’t fit you right, you will get intense chafing.
You need to train all these gears to save your race.

  1. Mental Training

Your brain is the strongest muscle in your body, and you need to train it as well. For runners, spending time visualizing yourself being strong can convince your brain that you can do anything. When running long-distance races, for most runners, after reaching 50K, your brain has to take over to keep you going feeling strong and motivated. When you train, take time to remind yourself how strong you are, how you can climb and climb without stopping, and visualise yourself crossing the finish line. Also make sure you train your brain to break down the course section by section, so you will always find some power to make it to the next checkpoint.

  1. Take a Recovery Break

Part of your training is making sure you include some weekly recovery day. After long-distance runs, you always need to take some days off, even if you feel fine. Taking some days off after a long race will not affect your fitness level, but will help your body, brain, muscles heal and recover. A long-distance race is a big stress not only on the body, but on the brain as well. After a long race, you can take one week off running, you can add some stretching sessions, yoga, or some mild core exercises after a few days. Always listen to your body and your heart!

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!

Essential Supplements for Runner

Supplements are a great support for runners and athletes, but the first best vitamins and minerals “supplements” is a healthy balanced diet. The reason why runners and athletes have to add vitamins and minerals supplements to their daily diet is to give your body some extra nutrients it might be missing, give your body some energy and support your recovery. For long-distance runners, their body gets depleted of many vitamins and minerals during long-distance runs. It is crucial to replenish your body to make sure you recover and avoid any injuries or health issues. Supplements are no “magic pills” but they can support your body and increase your energy level and performance. Once your body is depleted of some vitamin or mineral in can affect your overall health, create fatigue, low energy levels, and weak muscles. Taking supplements should go according to your diet, training effort and distance. These are the basic most essential supplements your body will require as a runner, to help support your training and overall health.

  1. Caffeine: Pre-Run

There are many pre-workout energy supplements, powder, drinks, you have to test them pre-run. These supplements often have side effects such as stomach discomfort, higher heart rate, dizziness or lack of sleep. The most natural pre-run energy boost is caffeine, before your run you can have a small coffee or green tea to activate your metabolism in a natural way. Some runners feel energetic once they wake up, so they don’t need to take any energy boosting supplements.

  1. Probiotics

Every part of our body is interconnected, a healthy gut is crucial to look after our overall health. Gut health can affect our immune system, nervous system, and hormones. If our level of gut bacteria is low, it can increase inflammation in our body. Taking probiotic supplements daily will provide good bacteria in our system to help with digestion, absorption of nutrients, fighting of bad bacteria to keep us healthy.

  1. Calcium

Calcium is another key supplement for runners to look after runner’s joints and bone health. Low levels of calcium can cause stress fractures, knee issues and many other types of injuries. Once our body is depleted of calcium, our system will pull calcium from bone storage, then our bones will get depleted, bone loss will occur, followed by injuries. Runners need to take calcium supplements, especially due to the constant impact on the joints when running long-distance.

  1. Vitamin C and E

There are a few vitamin and mineral supplements runners should include in their daily diet, but vitamin C and E are the basic ones that are very important. These vitamins are great antioxidants, vitamin C helps fight the oxidative damage caused by long runs and environmental toxins. Vitamin C also helps the body process collagen to support the muscle tendons and ligaments. Vitamin E helps support your heart and cardiovascular system, it also helps the body fight free radical damage caused by long-distance training. Multivitamins supplements are also very important for runners, to make sure our body doesn’t get depleted of any vitamins or minerals.

  1. Magnesium

People don’t realize how their body often is depleted of certain vitamins and minerals which can cause some serious side effects, like fatigue, muscle ache, heart issues. Magnesium is one of the most common one and one of the most important for runners. Magnesium promotes bone and muscle strength, helps with muscle recovery, and support the cardiovascular health and nerve function. Other vitamins that high percentage of runners get depleted of are vitamin D and B12. Iron is also very common especially in women.

  1. Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 is essential to help absorb the calcium. People get depleted of vitamin D due to stress, lack of sleep and dehydration. Vitamin D helps support the energy level and support bone health.

  1. BCAA’s

When runners train regularly or run long-distance, the body gets into calorie deficit. Once our body is lacking calories due to long training sessions, we start getting leaner and losing muscle mass. The body starts breaking down fat and muscle tissue, rather than making it, BCAA’s will help maintain some muscle mass, by providing amino acids, which will help build more muscles, provide extra energy to your muscle cells, reduce fatigue, increases protein synthesis and stimulate muscle growth after your run. You can take BCAA’s before, during or after your run or strength training.

  1. L-Glutamine

Glutamine is part of our blood plasma and muscles, it provides fuel to our immune cells. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, due to intense or long-distance training, glutamine gets depleted of the plasma, which can cause illnesses. Glutamine helps with muscle growth and recovery, promotes a healthy digestive system, helps with rehydration and endurance. This supplement is another important one for runners. Take it after the run.

  1. L-Carnitine

This supplement is very popular to help burn body fat and weight loss, but for runners there are other important benefits. L-Carnitine helps improve athletic performance, it delivers extra energy by turning our own body fat into ATP (adenosine triphosphate). It helps produce maximal oxygen consumption by creating more red blood cells. Take it first thing in the morning.

  1. Omega 3’s

If you can eat enough food containing Omega 3’s- Fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel, seabass, trout, shrimp, oysters. Vegan: Flaxseeds, Chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, seaweed, edamame. For runners running long-distance or not eating enough of Omega 3’s food, taking supplements daily will help with muscle growth and recovery, improve strength and performance, it helps reduce the risk of muscle damage and soreness.

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!

How runners should look after their feet

When we run the impact on our feet is quite intense. For the average runner, there’s an impact of up to seven times of the body weight pressing down on every step. Imagine the intensity when running long distances! To look after your feet properly will save a lot of foot issues. Runners need to focus on different items that can affect their feet.

  1. Finding the right shoes

This is one of the most crucial item to sort out as a runner. Finding shoes that fit correctly will avoid many foot issues. You need to find shoes that are not too tight or not too loose, not to suffer from blisters. If the shoe size is too small you will get some black blisters at the end of your toes, or if it’s extreme, complete toenail loss. You can start with a gait analysis or pronation analysis. Most running shops now offer these analysis. You need to find the right shoes according to your running style and biomechanics. Wearing incorrect shoes can have such an impact on runner’s feet. You have to focus on the shape of your feet, bone formation and flexibility, wearing the wrong type of running shoes can lead to overuse injuries. Finding shoes that feel comfortable and natural is the best option, the shoe should feel snug in the midfoot, and a bit roomy in the toe box for your toes to have some space. You should find shoes with some good quality cushioning under the ball of the foot to protect from impact. You should also make sure you lace up your shoes more tightly across the widest part of your foot to prevent it from sliding forward and backward. Also make sure your shoes have good flexibility. Another factor that can affect your feet is wearing your shoes beyond their lifespans. Most shoes last for about 600-800 kms. After that they wear out and the form is no longer accurate. When you go shopping for running shoes, go at the end of the day when your feet are more swollen, similar to when your run, also if you have orthotics bring them to see how they fit into the shoes.

  1. Find the right socks

Wearing the right socks made of certain materials will save your feet from getting blisters. Depending on your type of runs, road or trail, short or long distance you should find the right type of socks. Each foot has about 125,000 sweat glands, so making sure you wear socks made of moisture-wicking artificial materials or merino wool will save your feet. You need to try different brands and style of socks to find the right one that fits your shoes and foot type.

  1. Look after your feet

After a run make sure you wash and dry your feet, moisturize them to reduce the risk of fungal infection. Always have access to two pairs of running shoes to alternate the use and make sure you wear dry shoes.

  1. Take care of your nails

Never let your toenails grow too long. You should keep your toenails clean and trimmed. For long-distance runners, a common issue is getting blood beneath your toenails. You can rub some peppermint oil or antibiotic cream. If the nail starts to separate from your toes, don’t pull them until they get very loose. Soaking your feet in Epsom salts is also very helpful. If you get large blisters, you can pierce them with a sterilized needle. Using anti-chafing cream or vaseline can save you from blisters.

  1. Plantar fasciitis

The connective tissue along the bottom of the foot that supports the arch often gets tight and sore due to overuse or wearing the wrong shoes. As soon as you start feeling that pain, stretching, resting and massaging the foot tissue can avoid more severe cases.

  1. Foot massage

One important routine to save many parts of your body including your feet is to perform a pre-run dynamic warm up to engage the essential muscles like glutes, quads, calves, hamstrings, ankles and your plantar fascia. After your run, it is also crucial to perform some basic stretches. To include a regular massage, even a self-massage after a run will help look after your feet. Tightness of other muscles can affect our feet, to massage and stretch our calves, hamstrings and quads which are connected to our feet will help avoid foot problems. You can use a foam roller to help release the muscles, for the feet you can use a golf ball, tennis ball or frozen bottle as a self-massage option.

  1. Include foot stretches

Stretching your lower legs tendons and ligaments will save some problems in the feet. Perform some stretches for your shins, calves, feet to protect them from injuries.

4 Stretches: 

  • Sit kneeling with your knees together and your legs flat on the floor under your bottom, with your toes pointing backwards. Rest in that position for 30-60 secs.
  • Sit kneeling on your heels with your knees together but your toes tucked under your feet and pointing forward. Slowly shift your weight backwards to stretch the sole of your feet. Hold for 30-60 secs.
  • Stand on your toes on a step, with your heels hanging over the edge of the step. Push your heels upwards quickly then lower them down slowly, this is a good stretch for the Achilles tendons. Hold the stretch for 30-60 secs on each foot.
  • Lean against a wall with your weight on one leg, your knee bent and your foot flat on the floor. This is a good stretch for the calf muscle. Hold the stretch for 30-60 secs on each side.

Happy Feet, Nice Runs!

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!

Slower runs can help increase your speed and endurance

Adding slow runs to your regular training plan can actually help you run faster and increase your long-distance stamina. For some runners, running at a slow pace is challenging, especially for shorter distance runners. Running slow runs regularly has many physical and mental training benefits. First, find your own personal slow pace, when you can hold a conversation while running, and you should run at 65% of your heart rate.
Slow Pace Heart Rate Calculation Example: 
Find your maximum heart rate and resting heart rate then calculate.
Maximum Heart Rate (180)- Resting Heart Rate (50) = 30
Calculate 65% of 130 = 84.5 (130X0.65) =84.5
Add your Resting Heart Rate of (50) to 84.5 =134.5
Benefits of Regular Slow Runs:

  1. Fat Adaptation:As your body becomes more adapted to aerobic, slow runs, it will use more fat energy efficiently. During slow runs, the body uses about 50% of fat energy, while the remaining 50% is a combination of glucose and protein for energy. During faster anaerobic runs, the body uses glycogen from carbohydrates, but our body can only store glycogen for about a two hour faster anaerobic run, then our body gets depleted of stored muscle glycogen.
  2. Fat Oxidation:Fat oxidation requires oxygen, that’s why it’s very hard to run long distances at a very fast pace. Long distance slow runs are much easier to sustain. During slow long runs, your body has to constantly replenish the oxygen reserves it uses to continue to produce energy. Fat metabolism requires oxygen, you train your body to use fat as it main energy source rather than carbohydrates. This adaptation will allow you to run longer distances without having to refuel as much. Slow easy runs also train the body’s cardio, respiratory and muscular systems to work more efficiently, this will allow you to run with less effort during your fast runs.
  3. Slow Twitch Muscle Training:Slow runs train your slow twitch muscle fibers, the muscle fibers that allow you to run aerobically to support your pace during long-distance runs. Slow-twitch muscle fibers have a higher density of mitochondria, high levels of aerobic enzymes, and greater capillary density than fast twitch muscles fibers. During slow easy runs, you increase mitochondria and capillaries and blood flow to those muscles, so they increase their levels of oxygen utilization, which you need during intense runs.  Fast runs and speedwork sessions help build up fast twitch muscle fibers, which are more visible, but slow runs will help your tendons, ligaments, joints and bones adapt to the stress of long-distance runs. Slow runs will strengthen all the tendons, ligaments and bones without causing stress on them and avoid injuries.
  4. Better Running Form:Slower runs make it easier to focus on running technique. You can concentrate more and adjust your running form during slow runs, which will help avoid injuries, strengthen your essential muscles and make you run stronger. During fast runs the blood circulates away from the brain to meet the body and muscles oxygen demand, this lowers your ability to focus on your running form.
  5. Mental Training:Slower runs can help train your brain to adapt to spending much more time on your feet, and deal with the physical discomfort, muscle soreness, brain fatigue. All these side effects of long-distance runs will get easier to handle and switch to feeling familiar during your long-distance runs or races.

Every type of run includes benefits, fast run, uphill, speedwork, but long-distance slow runs can help you build up your mileage efficiently, train your muscles and running form properly and train mentally. Also runners should use slow runs as recovery runs and post-injury runs. Enjoy your slow runs!

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!