Simple Habits to Become a Better Runner

If you want to become a better runner, increasing your distance, beating personal records, reaching new goals or to get healthier physically and mentally, all you have to do is to cultivate some simple habits of successful and effective runners.
There are some essential habits that runners can follow and include in their daily schedule to become more efficient and motivated runners.

  1. Switch to Morning Runs

Everyone has very busy lives. There’s always something in our daily schedule that affects our regular schedule. Between work, social obligations, family busy schedule, most people don’t have time to include regular runs in their daily life, to keep a running routine for the long haul. To start running in the morning will make a huge difference, it gets your run out of the way before your busy life schedule gets in the way.

  • To exercise first thing in the morning will make your training more consistent.
  • You will be setting a positive mindset for the rest of the day, which will help improve productivity, energy levels and alertness. For runners that are “night people”, if you can keep a regular night run schedule- no problem. But running first thing in the morning can make a huge difference for most people.
  1. Set a Variety of Goals

To set some goals is very important, it will keep you motivated and consistent. Some efficient goals is planning a race you would love to run; a half or full marathon or trail race, these are great long-term goals. Make sure you register for a race to set up a goal. Increasing your performance can be another annual goal, to beat some PB times, or run longer distances.
Short-term goals are very important as well, these goals can include adding a speedwork session once/week, a long run on the weekend.

  1. Dynamic Warm-Up Routine Before Every Run and Post-Run Stretching

Another important habit is to look after our body, starting doing dynamic warm-up moves before each run will make a huge difference. Pre-run dynamic warm ups can help raise your core body temperature and heart rate, but also prepare your joints and muscles for intense work. Do a 5-minute warm up routine to activate your essential muscles.
In your running routine, you also need to add some post-run stretches. You need to stretch your running muscles- Hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, also stretch your shoulders and chest to release the tension in that area.

  1. Take Care of your Body

Running can affect your body with certain side effects, chafing, cramps, blisters, overuse, injuries. Running can put some pressure on your body and mind, taking care of your body is a very important habit, especially if you are a consistent runner. You need to add recovery as a habit as well to avoid injuries, support your performance level, avoid over-training and fatigue.

  • Schedule recovery runs weekly in your training plan.
  • Never run through pain.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly.
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • Change your running shoes every 600-800Kms.
  • Cross-train to strengthen some important muscles and use it as active recovery.
  1. Add Strength Training

Resistance training is crucial for runners. It fixes muscle imbalances to prevent injuries, builds up power and speed, improves running economy (the total sum of oxygen you need while running). Strength training sessions will help build and maintain a proper running form. Adding at least two sessions/week in your training schedule should be one of your habits. If you are pressed for time, you can do some essential exercises post-run or at home- three sets of 25 push-ups, 30 squats, 20 lunges, and 1 min plank.

  1. Join a Running Group or Run with Friends

One of the best way for staying committed to a running routine and enjoying a lovely run is running with others. Either joining a running group, or with people you enjoy running which will make a huge difference. Research has shown that people who exercise with others, are more likely to stay consistent with their training program. Running with others can help build up a nice support system.

  1. Eat Healthy

A healthy diet is crucial. Even for athletes that train non-stop, they would never be able to sustain training with an unhealthy diet. Building up and maintaining life-long healthy eating habits is one of the main habits for runners. First what you consume before, during and after your run influences your performance and training process. Pre-run fueling should include some light and easy to digest foods with healthy carbs. Fueling and hydrating during longer runs is also very important as well as post-run recovery fueling. For recovery, your body needs some carbs and protein to refuel properly.
The main diet should be healthy and clean with lean protein, healthy carbs, healthy fats and lots of vegetables and some fruits, to maintain an overall health and proper weight to support the running performance and strength.

  • Don’t let your body starve, eat some healthy snacks (nuts, fruits etc.)
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. That will help organize a healthy daily diet.
  • Cut out processed food, sugar and junk food.
  • Try to eat more home-cooked meals.
  1. Hydrate and Drink Lots of Water

Being well hydrated is a crucial part of any workout program, water is vital for most of every bodily function. Adding hydration to your daily habit is a must. Build a habit of drinking lots of water, not soda or juices. The minimum amount of water to consume per day is 2L, but 2.5L is much healthier. If you run in hot weather or humidity then you need to increase the number of liters of water and add some electrolytes. Drinking enough water is also very important for healthy weight or weight loss.

Run Well, Train Well, Feel Great!
 KATIA

Hiring: Design Marketing & Communications Manager

About TGR Trail Running

TGR Limited also known as The Green Race is a Hong Kong-based dynamic events company organising running races and running retreats around Asia. Established in 2015 TGR organises events and retreats in Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, China, Japan and India. Find out more about TGR Trail Running events at tgr.run.

Job Description  

TGR is looking for a Design Marketing and Communications Manager to take the lead on all design aspects of events, our website and social media platforms as well as manage communications and marketing of various events and retreats.

This is a hands-on role and the position is suited for someone who is forward-thinking, flexible, creative and has a can-do attitude. The Design, Marketing and Communications Manager must be passionate about design, customer service, and marketing. Our events are held on the weekends and so you will be required to come in as well.

Responsibilities

The successful applicant will report to the Race Director and Operations & Events Director as well as work closely with all staff to ensure tasks are completed in a timely manner. He/She will also accept the following responsibilities:

  • Be a flexible team player — Every day can be quite different!
  • Be present on event days to assist with events.
  • Is self-disciplined has a positive attitude and pays attention to detail
  • Support the corporate sponsor deadlines
  • Work in tandem with all staff to ensure tasks are completed on time and up to expected standards
  • Develop and prepare creative event deliverables including t-shirts, maps, graphics, backdrops, race bibs, medals etc.
  • Point of contact for art review to ensure accuracy and adherence to brand standards
  • Manage communication between clients and TGR through emails and social media platforms
  • Manage various social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram and create content and schedule for social media campaigns
  • Manage the event media campaigns working with a number of print and digital media organisations
  • Follow projects through all its stages from ideation to delivery
  • Interact regularly with clients, creative partners and other team members as needed for completion of assigned projects
  • Take ownership, lead initiatives and successfully execute through all stages of creative development on time and within budget
  • Is an organised self-starter with strong time management skills and ability to multitask
  • Ready for ad hoc work including working at events on the weekends and some evenings

Required Skills

The duties and responsibilities described above are the essential functions of the job. The qualifications below are representative of the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities required:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a discipline related to functional work or role with 2+ years of relevant work experience at an agency, corporate in-house design firm or events company
  • Proficiency in WordPress, web design
  • Fluency in written and spoken Cantonese and English
  • Expert knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Knowledge of Indesign is a plus
  • Strong organisational and creative skills
  • Sporting background with experience of doing running races with knowledge of the local and international running community is desirable

Salary & Benefits

Negotiable based on qualifications and experience

To Apply

Applicants should forward their resume/CV, sample works/portfolio or any questions to:  team@tgr.run.

How to Improve your Trail Running Technique

When running on the road we have to deal with and repeat the same motion and impact. For trail runners, a good running technique is important. To be a good trail runner, you will need the right technique for uphills, downhills, and technical terrains. You have to adapt to different foot strikes, taking smaller steps and longer strides, also landing on your toes or your heels. Some essential running techniques can help dealing with tougher and more technical terrains.

Tips for Trail Running Technique

  1. Pick up your knees- To lift your knees appropriately on the trail, will save you from rocks, roots, and any other issues on technical terrains. Never drag your feet to make sure you don’t trip. Often, once we start to get tired or depleted of fueling we tend to not lift our knees and have more chances on tripping.
  2. Shorten your stride- Keeping your steps short and light over technical terrain will help you react and hop more easily without overstriding. Overstriding can put you in a compromised position, especially if you land on an unstable surface- very frequent. Focusing on smaller strides will protect you from falling and staying upright.
  3. Land on your midfoot- Midfoot landing on the trail will maximize balance, help you stay over your center of gravity, help you control your speed, maintain balance, and avoid injuries.
  4. Head position- Looking at your feet or beautiful scenery while running, can cause some tripping or falling issues. Keep your head up and shoulders relaxed, this not only helps with the running form but with the breathing as well. Look forward, keep your eyes centered and front and look 3-4 meters ahead to avoid any obstacles.
  5. Arms and shoulders- Having an efficient arm swing will help build upward and forward momentum through the entire body, not only relying on your legs. Swing your arms in short and sharp movement when you’re running uphill. Straighten your shoulders and align them with your back, keep your elbows a bit wider for extra balance on the more technical trail.
  6. Uphill technique- Gravity is a main opponent when running up a hill, which requires extra work to overcome it. Gravity forces your body to recruit more muscle fibers to conquer it and carry you up.
  • Lean forward on the uphill, keep your body straight from the ankles. This will bring your center of gravity forward.
  • Keep your feet under the body and lean your body towards the incline to improve your drive uphill.
  • Keep a light and quick cadence. The steeper the hill the smaller the steps This will help maintain a good rhythm and prevent from getting overly tired. Big steps on the uphill has more impact and creates more muscle fatigue. Quick and light steps will help avoid strains to the glutes, calves, hamstrings and Achilles tendons.
  • Keep your breathing, arm swing and step in equal motion to your cadence. When running uphill, use your arms to help power you up. Swinging them both forward and back.
  • It’s ok to walk uphill. It is often important for energy saving, especially in long-distance runs. Power hiking is efficient in trail runs.
  1. The downhill technique- Going downhill is not easy, and a lot harder on the body. Running downhill with the wrong running form can cause knee pain or injury, quad impact, ankle sprains. To protect your body, make sure you focus on the proper downhill running form.
  • Pay attention to the downhill course. Look 1-1.5 meters ahead where you’re about to step.
  • Don’t overstride. Overstride running downhill will add hard impact when reaching out too much in front. It will send a lot of shock through the muscles and joints.
  • Embrace the forward down, let yourself loose and don’t use brakes on the impact.
  • Land midfoot. This will reduce the impact on the knees and quads, minimize the braking effect, and help prevent injury. Make sure your feet land under you.
  • Raise your head and widen your elbows lightly to improve the control and balance.
  • Keep your arms moving freely. This will allow to keep your balance by counterbalancing your legs. Move your arms back and forth, but not across the body, this will help support the leg movement.

It is important to keep checking your running form regularly to maintain good trail running techniques to increase your strength, speed and avoid injuries.

Run Well, Train Well, Feel Great!
KATIA

Benefits of Dark Chocolate for Runners

One of the great Superfoods for runners is dark chocolate 85% or more, but above 90% is even better with less sugar and more antioxidants. The darker the chocolate the better, 100% dark chocolate is actually not chocolate, but 100% cacao. Dark chocolate can boost your energy and is a good fueling option. The quality of dark chocolate can make a huge difference in the benefits and taste, organic dark chocolate is more efficient and delicious.

Benefits of Dark Chocolate

  1. Increase your VO2 Max– Consuming dark chocolate can help improve your VO2 max, how efficiently you can use oxygen. Research has found that even for sedentary people who consumed 20g of dark chocolate daily for three months, their VO2 max increased by 17%. What helps to improve their VO2 max is epicatechin, a flanavol in cacao, which helps the mitochondria (powerhouse of cells) function more efficiently. Even small amounts of dark chocolate are very efficient and healthier.
  2. Reduce Inflammation– The dark chocolate antioxidants (flavonoids) also help reduce inflammation in the muscles and joints, eating a few bites of dark chocolate pre- or post-run or workout, can help reduce inflammation and soreness. Flavonoids are also very beneficial in boosting the brain and cardio health. Flavonoids have many benefits for runners.
  3. Settle your Mind– Eating dark chocolate can make you feel better. Cacao contains serotonin, a mood-balancing hormone. The darker the chocolate the more you get. People who have some depression issues and eat dark chocolate can reduce the risk of depression or anxiety by up to 70%. For runners, to balance our mood-hormones can be helpful with tough training sessions. Eating a bite of dark chocolate before a run or workout can boost your energy level and creates positive mindset. To feel more positive can improve our level of stamina and endurance.
  4. Run Longer– Caffeine found in dark chocolate may help support a long-distance run. Caffeine enhances both strength and endurance, and consuming caffeine with carbs found in dark chocolate can help increase muscle recovery post-run. Taking a bite pre-run and post-run will have several benefits.
  5. Antioxidants– Antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage. Antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemical helpful plant compounds. One of dark chocolate’s most impressive attributes is its high-antioxidant content, which is why it is one of the top 10 high-antioxidants foods. Two groups of antioxidants prevalent in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols. Dark chocolate’s cocoa has actually been shown to have the highest content of polyphenols and flavonoids, even greater than wine and tea. So, the higher the cacao percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more awesome antioxidants you’ll consume.

How to Fuel with Dark Chocolate
If you consume it the right way, dark chocolate is a great source of fuel. Dark chocolate is higher in fat and other carb sources. Fat takes longer to breakdown as fuel than simple carbs like sugar, or fruits. Make sure you eat the dark chocolate 1-2 hrs before your training. If you use it for recovery, eat 1-2 ounces, which will help replace the glycogen stores after training. Combine it with some protein, like nuts or nut butter, the protein-carb combo is essential for muscle recovery. Dark chocolate can trigger some acid reflux for people who suffer from this issue, if you feel symptoms like heartburn or indigestion during your run or training, then avoid dark chocolate pre-run fuel, use it for post-run recovery. Again, focus on the quality of the dark chocolate, organic and the darker the better for runner’s health and strength.

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!
 KATIA

 

The Importance of Sleep for Runners

A runner’s training program includes runs, speedwork, core and strength training. Another important part of effective training is having good quality sleep regularly. Sleep is often overlooked by runners or athletes, but it is important in preventing injury, building muscle, and recovery. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is one of the first thing to try when a runner experiences problems with injuries or endurance. By staying up too late and not sleeping enough, a runner makes it impossible for the body to adequately repair itself.

During training sessions, there is no muscle growth, after an intense speed session or long run, the muscles are actually broken down and contain micro tears. The body has the ability to repair the muscle and make it stronger so it can sustain the next training sessions, but the muscle repair and rebuilding occurs primarily during sleep.

When sleeping, the body’s temperature and heart lowers and the entire body enters the stage of relaxation. During the deepest stage of sleep (REM), the body releases growth hormones to repair muscle tissue. The muscles are paralyzed during this time to allow maximum repair.

Sleep is also essential for a healthy immune system. If the body is sleep deprived, the number of T-cells go down, these cells are important in activating and directing immune cells. That is why it is also very important to sleep well when we are sick.

REM sleep usually starts 90 minutes after falling asleep, and lasts an average of two hours. If a runner is overly stressed or has trouble sleeping, the REM stage might never be reached. Especially for ultrarunners, the sleep quality might be affected by long-distance runs and high elevation. After long intense runs, the resting heart rate is higher, which affects the sleep pattern. Usually after an Ultra race, it might take a few days for the resting heart rate to get back to normal. That’s why post-race recovery and rest is crucial.

Tips to Improve Sleep for Runners

  1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  2. Reduce caffeine consumption- Avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon, switch to caffeine free tea or coffee.
  3. Don’t train within 2 hours before bed time as it will increase your heart rate and affect your sleep quality.
  4. Limit the evening alcohol consumption- Drinking some wine, beer or alcohol before bed, even though you might feel more relaxed, will affect your sleep pattern. When we drink alcohol before bed, our liver has to process the alcohol, which will increase the heart rate. You might wake up during the night sweating and unable to fall back asleep. Drink only 1 glass of alcohol and no later than 7pm to protect your sleep quality.
  5. Don’t eat large meals before bed- The digestive system is too busy, creating more stress to the body and heart rate.
  6. Find a relaxing bedtime routine- Reading, taking a warm shower, drinking chamomile tea.
  7. Make sure you have a comfortable and good quality mattress and pillow.

Research has shown that runners who got some 8-8.5hrs of good sleep three days before a race, felt much better, stronger, and performed well.

Train Well, Eat Well, Sleep Well!
 KATIA