Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

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While I was training for the half marathon last year, I was fortunate I didn’t have to experience any extreme temperatures or humidity. The day of the race I think it got close to 70 degrees . . . in December.

This time around I’m having to experience extreme Memphis heat and humidity. It doesn’t matter if it’s 6 am, 12 noon, or 8 pm, it’s always hot and muggy. Even when I’m done with my run and get cleaned up I still can’t seem to stop sweating for at least 2 hours.

I completed a 5 mile run last week and I felt as if I’d run a marathon. Even with all the Gatorade and water that I carry with me on my runs, the hot weather is a formidable adversary.

In order to keep up with my training obligations, I’ve been reading up on how to run SAFELY through the hottest parts of the year. Here are some tips that have come in handy:

  1. For long runs that are held on Sunday, preparation should begin on Saturday. Eat light and drink LOTS of water.
  2. Slow down. When it’s extremely humid outside, sweat won’t evaporate as easily.
  3. If you’re new to running in the heat, start in the hottest part of the day, and start slow. Take a short walk or run a few easy miles a couple of times a week for the first few weeks. “Spending all your time in air-conditioning and then expecting to run well outdoors in the heat is not going to cut it,” says William Roberts, M.D., former president of the American College of Sports Medicine and the medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon.
  4. Wear socks made of synthetic fibers that wick moisture away from your skin to help prevent blisters and athlete’s foot.
  5. Drink adequate fluids 30 - 45 minutes before you exercise and then a cupful every 10 - 15 minutes while exercising. After exercising, drink more fluid than you think you need. Sport replacement drinks are superior to water, especially if you’re running longer distances and times (over 60 - 90 minutes). The electrolytes and carbohydrates in sport drinks will help speed your recovery from the stress of fluid loss and your long distance run. Sport replacement drinks also taste great, encouraging you to drink more than you otherwise might.
  6. Dress lightly and wear light-colored clothes. Avoid cotton t-shirts, which will become soaked, heavy, and prevent evaporation, which is how your body cools itself.

Word Power

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A great trick I have employed to keep me focused during my runs is to repeat several buzz words over and over. The idea came from Jeff Galloway’s running bible, ‘Galloway’s Book on Running’. Galloway calls the motivational technique “magic words” because of the positive psychological effect this technique holds. The simple process involves picking three words that will inspire you during a run and then repeating the words over and over in your head during different parts of a run or race. For example, Jeff likes to use the words “relax“, “power“, and “glide“.

Perhaps you’re feeling the heat or the intensity of a difficult run and your brain is trying to convince you to stop completely and quit the race. Saying “relax” repeatedly at this moment in time will push away any negativity in your brain and help you to slow down and relax. Likewise, if you need to pick up the pace during a run and motivate your mind and body to push forward, saying “power” to yourself over and over can help keep you focused and confident.

The words aren’t magic themselves. They come alive and make better connections as you associate each word with experiences in which you overcame specific problems. The more experiences, the more magic.
Jeff Galloway

The same strategy can be applied to any word you choose, not just Jeff’s words. I have used the words “speed” and “gazelle” for example to help me psychologically through some difficult runs. If you’ve never tried this technique before, give it a try the next time you run and come back and share any powerful words you think might help readers of this blog.

Nike+ Gym Equipment at 24 Hour Fitness

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Forbes reports that 24 Hour Fitness will soon begin outfitting selected gyms with Nike+ iPod enabled equipment.

“24 Hour Fitness, the largest fitness club chain in the U.S., is the first to offer new Nike + iPod enabled gym equipment in select clubs across the country. Nike and Apple worked with major gym equipment manufacturers to make their cardio equipment Nike + iPod compatible so gym members can easily track and record workouts on cardio equipment like treadmills, stair steppers, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes.”

We wrote about the Nike+ Gym tie-in back in March, along with Endgadget, Gizmodo, and others.  It’s nice to see some promised new features coming to pass.  Now let’s see about that Nike+ iPhone integration . . .

Run to the Beat

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Run to the Beat

Listening to music via your iPod when you run is more than just multitasking or an opportunity to listen to music you simply enjoy. There’s actually a science behind how music can motivate and inspire a runner to greater achievement.

Recent research has shown that although music does not reduce the perception of effort during high intensity runs, it does improve the experience of the run. So while listening to music will not necessarily make a run any easier, it’s likely that the overall experience will be pleasurable, and may even trick the mind into believing that your body is not as fatigued as it really is.

Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Brunel University and head of the Music in Sport Research Group, has been investigating the influence of music on exercise performance for almost 20 years. He is so convinced of the positive effects of music while running that he has helped mastermind Run to the Beat. This unique, half marathon race will take place in London on October 5 which aims to be the first race of its kind that will play carefully selected music at 16 points along the event’s 13-mile route in order to motivate and inspire runners.

“Our research has shown that lively, upbeat music stimulates the part of the brain associated with locomotion - the motor cortex,” says Costas Karageorghis. “It also needs to have a strong rhythm and, ideally, should have some association with physical activity, either through the lyrics or by association.”

Simply listening to fast music on its own however won’t magically make you become a fast runner. To really benefit, runners should listen to music with a tempo similar to the pace at which they intend to run, so that a runner’s stride can be synchronized with the rhythm of the music. A perfect example of this was when two-time 10km Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, from Ethiopia, reputedly listened to the song Scatman by Scatman John when Gerbselassie broke the world indoor 2km record 1998. This song has around 135 beats per minute.

So next time you’re preparing your playlist in iTunes before you go out on a run, make sure your music is carefully selected. Good tunes with the right bpm might not only make your run more enjoyable, but may even shave a few extra seconds off your personal best.

More information:
Run to the Beat race site
Tune in, work out (The Guardian newspaper)

Training to Ruin a Marathon

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This week’s Onion includes a running related opinion column that’s too funny to pass up.  It’s a piece that describes the trials and hardships involved in training for “the ultimate physical challenge: ruining a marathon.”

“Now, I know what you’re thinking. Sure, everyone would like to ruin a marathon, but who among us has the discipline and energy to get up at the crack of dawn morning after morning, through rain, sleet, and snow, and practice handing out cups of vinegar to the frontrunners? Me, that’s who. Yes, there are some mornings when it’s darn near impossible to keep going—when you feel like you just can’t chip one more pothole in the course with a pickax. But endurance ruining is all about pushing through the pain. And when the big day comes, and you make it over that final hurdle, dodge the cops, and shove an old guy into the bushes, you’ll know all that training was worth it.”

Head over to The Onion to read the full article.

Nike Reaches Out to Frustrated Blogger

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Brian Morrissey of The Internal Pigdog politely expressed some frustrations with the accuracy of his Nike+ SportBand over the course of a few posts in mid May.

On May 18:

“So far, I’m underwhelmed. The chart above shows my run today. After nine years of running, I figure I have a pretty good sense of pace. There’s no way it was that slow. I ran today more at 7:30 or a little below. The graph also has all these peaks and troughs that don’t make sense.”

Again, on May 19:

“To test the accuracy, I ran to the park, then started Nike+. I did the four-mile loop (technically, a USATF-measured 4.04). Nike+ told me 3.71 miles. I was pretty much exactly right about the distance. My internal odometer kicked Nike+’s ass.”

Nike responded directly to Brian’s concerns in the person of Blogger user PLe1, the director of Nike’s RUN NYC program.

“Brian, just for the sake of disclosure I’m the director of Nike’s RUN NYC program. I just want that out there so it’s not like I’m hidng the fact I work for Nike.
Out of the box it’s 90% accurate and set for 8 minute pace but it’s designed so that every runner can make it work for their particular cadence by calibrating it.”

Make sure to check out Brian’s article and the article’s comments thread for the whole story.

The Human Race

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The Human Race

What if all Nike+ runners could run in the same race, on the same day, no matter where they are in the world? The flexibility of Nike+ gives runners of all abilities the opportunity to do this. The race, to be known as The Human Race, will be taking place on August 31, 2008.

The 10km (6.21 miles) event will unite over a million Nike+ runners from all around the world in not just a battle of fitness, speed and stamina, but also a battle to raise money for three well known charities - The UN Refugee Charity, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, and the World Wildlife Fund. Each participating Nike+ runner can choose a charity to represent while they run, and every step in the race will earn money towards their selected charity. Starting in July, the Nike+ Web site will also allow runners to accept and manage personal donations from friends, family and colleagues.

400mToGo.com will be participating in this historic event, will you? More info and sign-up here.

Going for Gold

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Jordan Desilets, going for gold

An update to this article was posted on July 6, 2008.

We are delighted and honored to have had the opportunity to interview US-based steeplechase athlete Jordan Desilets. 27 year-old Jordan from Michigan in the United States is a national champion and will be taking part in the 2008 US Olympic Trials later this month. If successful, Jordan will be representing his country in the ultimate athlete’s dream — the summer Olympic games, which take place this year in Beijing, China.

  • Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Jordan! Could you give our readers some background information about your running level and experience?
    I started running the mile in the 4th grade and still hold the elementary record. In high school, I had a mile time of 4:15, and a 5k time of 15:16. I moved on to Eastern Michigan University where I was coached by John Goodridge and dropped my time to a 3:59 mile, 1:51 800m, 8:24 Steeplechase, 13:52 5k, and a 29:17 10k. I was a national champion in the steeplechase in 2004, and 6th at the 2004 Olympic Trials. I ran pro for 3 years for Reebok. I am now qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the Steeplechase and hope to fair well there.
  • What distances and races do you typically run?
    Mid-to-long distance, the mile, 3000m Steeplechase, 5,000m and 10,000m.
  • How often do you train?
    6-7 days a week.
  • What time of day do you prefer to run?
    In Michigan summers, I run first thing in the morning or at night… no one wants to run when it’s 90 out with 100% humidity.
  • Do you eat a special diet?
    Nope…but I probably should. :)
  • What advice would you give to runners wanting to improve their times and run faster?For most road warriors (weekend 5k runners), the biggest problem is that they don’t get on the track enough… They typically have a dedicated running regiment of a few miles per day but never actually get on the track for a work out. Running miles can only build-up your endurance strength, but workouts on the track will get you muscular strong. Even if you’re only getting on the track once a week and doing a simple work out of 8 X 400m with about 90 seconds rest, it will improve your racing substantially. Rest and the pace of a workout are very important. The rest and pace should always be accurate to the second to insure consistency when performing the same work out, this will help you judge your body’s small improvements over time. If you have a 5k goal of 15:37, which is 5:00 mile pace, then you should be performing your 400m reps. at 73-74 seconds, which is just a tad faster than goal pace. If you complete this workout with ease, then the next step would be to knock the rest down to 60 seconds instead of 90. Then, if this one went well, you can drop the 400m times to 71-72 and bump the rest up to 90 seconds again… Rinse and repeat!
  • What’s the best piece of running advice anyone has given you?
    Keep running!!! I applied this advice one time when my legs went numb and I was trying to finish my mile in under 4 minutes.
  • What motivates you to keep running?
    The desire to always want to better myself. I always have to set several small attainable goals so I can inch forward every race. When I first started running the steeplechase, I started at Olympics and worked my way back to slower and slower goals until I had a list of about 20 different goals, all for the steeplechase. I think one was the school record, maybe a few meet records, and some surrounding track records of places that I raced at often.
  • What goes through your mind immediately before a race starts?
    Lately its been “I’m just happy to be here.” After two foot surgeries in back-to-back years and over a year-off from running - and now having qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials - I am happy to be here. Every race seems like a blessing… until about 3 laps to go and my legs are jello, heh, heh!
  • Do you use any running technology, such as Nike+, Polar, Garmin etc… to track your times and/or heart rate?
  • Do you use any Web sites or computer applications to store and analyze any of your running data?
    No, but I was thinking about trying the Nike Web site. My wife uses Nike+ and it looks kinda neat. As for now, it’s standard running logs.
  • Do you stick with the same brand of running shoe all the time, if so, which one and why?
    No. All through college our sponsors kept changing so I ran in Mizunos and Adidas. I then got sponsored by Reebok coming out of college - just this past year I got a few pairs of Adidas and Brooks. I would have to say my favorite shoes were either Mizunos or the Adidas shoes. As for spikes, I actually bought a bunch of Adistar Steeple from 2001 that I still run in.
  • How often do you buy new running shoes?Well, the general rule of thumb is 500 miles or if you alternate day-by-day you can get 700 miles on a pair of shoes. I normally just wear them until they don’t feel good anymore or the tread becomes decently worn.
  • Do you have sponsorship? If a potential sponsor is reading this, would you like them to contact you to discuss sponsorship?
    As of now, I do not have any sponsorship but I would absolutely love one. As I said above, I have currently qualified for the Olympic Trials, which begin at the end of June through early July, and I am raising money through friends and family to help get me out to Eugene, OR. If anyone would like to sponsor me they can most definitely contact me. Here are a few track web sites for reference: http://www.eugene08.com/, www.usatf.org, www.iaaf.org
  • What events or athletes are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Olympics?
    I always watch the Olympics. I just love the whole process from opening to closing ceremony. I will be watching for anyone I know to be out there. It would be nice to see if Bolt can break the 200m record or re-break his new world record in the 100m. I would like to see someone break up Kenya’s 1-2-3 steeplechase sweep.
  • What are your running goals / dreams / ambitions?
    My goals are to make an Olympic team either this year or in 2012, make a world team, get sponsored again, race in Europe, hold an American record, and never get injured again :-)

If you would like to follow Jordan’s quest to represent the United States in the 2008 Olympics, here are some links to the event schedule and television schedule:

TV Schedule | Event Schedule

Mini Me

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MINI Me - Cory

Man, it’s been so long since I’ve had time to sit down and write I almost forgot my login. Nonetheless, I was able to navigate the archives in my head to bring you what I humbly believe is one of the greatest features of the Nike+ site. No, it’s not the new online training program (the one that will set a custom training program up for you), nor is it any of the various widgets that are available for download (desktop and screensaver flavors). It’s the “My Nike+ Mini“, truly the greatest thing since sliced bread.

To begin the creation of your little sidekick, click on the “My Nike+ Mini: Create Your Own” image, in the lower right-hand corner of the Nike+ website, beneath the “Last Run” dashboard (If you can’t find the link, try looking under the “Runs” menu). From there, the creation wizard makes it easy to customize the look of your Nike+ Mini. You’re able to customize from a stock selection of hair, eyes, mouth, nose, shoes, clothing and even facial hair.

After you’ve created your “Mini Me”, you have the option to download it as a screensaver or to add it as a widget to your Facebook account. All the more reason to pick up an iPod nano and a Nike+ Sport Kit. Who needs challenges when you can create a flash version of yourself? Note: likeness will vary.

I hope this is just a sample of many new features to come from the Nike+ website.

May Challenge Winners - New Challenges for June

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Congratulations to our challenge winners for the month of May!

  • simonji ran the Most Miles with 236.1 miles under his belt
  • robottino ran the Fastest 1 Mile with a time of 5′23”
  • Robi. LM picked up Fasted 3K honors with a time of 11′56”
  • SundanceKid ran May’s Fastest 5K with a time of 20′16”
  • lasabur is our Fastest 10K winner with a time of 44′09”

Keep up the great work, folks. Jump over to our Challenges page to get into the action for the month of June. May the best runners win!