The advantages of morning runs

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If you are not a morning person, starting an early morning run habit might be the solution for that problem.

Waking up earlier for a run might seem too much of an effort, especially if you have those 30 minutes after-work where you can do the exact same thing, but doing it right after waking up has its benefits.

It provides extra psychological and physiological benefits that help speed your progress. Here are some actual benefits that you can take advantage of from a morning run:

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Choose music that suits you and your workout

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Searching for music to incorporate into training and competition should start by considering the context in which you will operate.

What type of activity is being undertaken? Some activities lend themselves particularly well to musical accompaniment, for example those that are repetitive in nature: warm-ups, weight training, circuit training, stretching.

In each case, you should make selections (from a list of preferred tracks) that have a rhythm and tempo that match the type of activity you’ll be doing. Since everyone has a different ideal pace and intensity, determining exactly what tempo works for you may be a trial-and-error process.

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Running Tours – City: Porto

Today our blog guest is Sérgio Miranda, founder / Chief Running Officer of Porto Running Tours. A keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide since 2015.

Porto Running Tours provides ‘city familiarization’ for active travelers: private tours for individual or small groups of runners in and around Porto. History & culture combined with a running workout: a running tour is a unique, fun, healthy and sustainable way to discover a city in running shoes for tourists, solo business travelers and also corporate groups & events.

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© Porto Running Tours

A running tour is the most effective type of sightseeing I know. Of course you can argue “OK I am on holidays and the last thing I want to do is to be effective and optimize”. But here is the deal: during 90 mins we run and see all the main sights in Porto (and no, we don’t rush – Porto simply is a compact city). In addition, people return to their Hotel or apartment with a full supply of tips and recommendations on what to do in the city… and high on endorphins! 🙂
As a local but also as an History enthusiast, I like to encourage people to learn more about Portugal and the evolution of the city throughout the centuries while looking at – even passing through! – some iconic buildings, wide open squares and the winding narrow streets of Porto. We’re always on the lookout for the smallest details that help unveil the greatest and funniest of stories (!). Because some of those stories involve their countries of origin, this sparks curiosity and divergent conversation topics, which makes it also genuinely interesting for me, as I get to learn a lot from the visitors I run with.

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© Porto Running Tours

Here’s where I must make a confession: there was a time when I was a regular flyer with a running habit. In a past existence as a corporate employee there were many occasions where I left the hotel door to run in a new city in Germany, Austria or maybe France, haunted by the strange feeling I might get ‘lost’ and wouldn’t be able to get back in time to attend that first business meeting of the day… The fact was I always had limited time and no real possibility to learn more about the city.

All I could do was squeeze in a run, sometimes between the last meeting and a dinner appointment with colleagues. I remember one particular occasion in Paris when I ended up running in circles around the Eiffel tower, afraid I could not find the way back to the hotel, just a couple of blocks away… Don’t get me wrong: the backdrop for this run was perfect but the whole experience was truly poor and frustrating, considering it was my first time visiting the ‘city of lights’… Which leads me to one of the main reasons why I started Porto Running Tours: help fellow enthusiast runners enjoy their first – or next – visit to Porto to the fullest. Even if they are in Porto for work!
Back to the topic of tourism for runners: events like marathons and trail running races are now acknowledged to be major local and regional attractions. One of my challenges as ‘running tour evangelist’ is to convince runners that they can also enjoy Porto even if they were not able to register and be here during the Porto marathon weekend. In fact, they can get cheaper flights and rooms, choose a date they want, have their running groups run together (instead of meeting only after the race) and see more of the city without the competition stress.

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© Porto Running Tours

Another challenge, a very personal one, is that I have to be fit and stay injury free all year long…! Of course this should be a goal for every person on the planet, but it really becomes important if you’re running a running business (did I just repeat myself?:)). Being an amateur runner since I began college – meaning end of last century/half my life, I’ve had my share of lesions and visits to physical therapists, something which I now use to my benefit: I learned the hard way that a healthy running routine has to include strength workouts and technique exercises. And that’s not just for the legs, it’s for the whole body.

Because I have no professional background in this area, I rely on someone else to prepare my weekly training sessions. In addition I casually try stride or bio-mechanics tests to check if my form and fitness levels evolved. This is also why I am so interested in the new generation of running wearables and, in particular, why TUNE caught my attention.

The guys at Kinematix really put their heads together and developed a smart product: it allows any runner to monitor running form, with hard data being instantly delivered to their smartphone. No matter if you’re trying to improve speed, running economy or prevent lesions, from the TUNE mobile app you get valuable input about your running form and dynamics, helping you adjust your training and make future decisions.

It even builds a fitness plan suggestion based on the data it gathers from both feet individually. Heel strike, as an example: its percentage is measured throughout a training session and gives you a precise idea of how, for instance, fatigue affects your running form. It also let’s you perceive, with hard numbers, the effects of every new drill or change you may include in your training plan. Cool, right?

Well this is it from Porto Running Tours headquarters today. Hope you found this reading interesting and keep running healthy for many years to come!

Thank you Kinematix for the opportunity to freely express myself here and for your efforts in helping runners with TUNE!

 

Why you should check your running form, and what you can do to change it

This week we welcome Randall Wharton as our guest blogger. Randall is a real sports nut, he loves marathons and ultra marathons. Last year he has been featured in the top 10 UK running blogs.

To summarize in 3 words, a very passionate runner. Enjoy his blog!

 

When I took up running a few years ago, and began training for my first marathon, I was a magnet for injuries. I was constantly pulling muscles, tweaking hamstrings, suffering from knee pain, and getting pins and needles in my feet and toes. I also suffered extremely bad cramping after my long runs – so much so, that on several occasions I had to be helped into my car at the end of my long runs!

This was not only painful and unpleasant, but it meant that my training blocks for each race were being interrupted as I stopped training to recover, meaning that I was going into races undertrained, risking further injuries. I knew I had to do something.

I began to read up on running form, and noticed some interesting things about how I ran. Firstly, I used to wear the heels of my runners at an alarming rate. I could wear the heels completely off a pair of runners in 150 miles. Another thing I noticed was that race photographs showed that I tended to slump my body to one side late in races. I also noticed that, when I was running beside other people, I tended to take longer, slower strides than they did.

My study of the information about running form led me to link all these things together, and realize that I had terrible running form – I had a long, slow, heel-striking stride, that was very inefficient, and transferred the shock of every landing up through all the joints of my legs.

 

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Shoes on the left have half the mileage as shoes on the right, but far more wear – the ones on the left are before I changed my running form, the ones on the right after.

 

I decided to try to change my running form, to see if it would help with injury prevention and fatigue.

This was easier said than done – firstly, since the Kinematix TUNE wasn’t on the market at the time, I had to devise ways of measuring any change or improvement in my running. I used a metronome app on my phone to measure my stride, and attempt to shorten it and speed it up. I bought a pair of minimalist shoes to force myself to land on my forefoot rather than my heel, and I made a conscious effort to keep my head up and forward to stop myself slumping when I got tired.

It was a long, slow, painful process. I discovered that transitioning from a heel land to a forefoot landing brought muscles into play that hadn’t been used before, and resulted in aching, burning calves until I built up resistance! I also found that running on rough Irish tarmac in minimalist shoes is a kind of torture, and leaves you with very bruised feet.

I persisted, and, after 4 or 5 months, I had changed how I ran.

The results were remarkable. I went from running 2 marathons and 2 ultras in 2014, with numerous injuries, and layoffs, to running 10 marathons and 3 ultras (along with a couple of triathlons and lots of shorter races) in 2015, with no injuries or layoffs. I also got PB’s in every distance I ran.

While I don’t think the results will be quite as spectacular for everyone (I had particularly bad running form to begin with), it is definitely worth while checking your running form, and I believe it is crucial if you are going for longer distances.

 

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Off on another run with the Kinematix TUNE

 

I wish I’d had the Kinematix TUNE to make the process so much easier, and to compare my “before” and “after” form, but at least I have it now to make sure I don’t slip into bad old habits!

Drop by RandRuns for training tips and advice for your first marathon or ultra!

 

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With my sons at the finish line of the 2016 London Marathon

 

SMART Goal Setting for Running

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There’s a SMART way to establish goals and objectives.

SMART is a mnemonic acronym that provides guiding criteria in the setting of objectives.

 

Figuring out exactly what you want to achieve is the first and most important step. Do you want to run further? Faster? Or just feel fitter? Set both short and long term goals – they are of equal importance to keep you motivated and engaged with your training program.

 

SMART means:

  • Specific: What exactly is it that you want? (How much weight do you want to lose? How far do you want to be able to run? Or how fast?)
  • Measurable: How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What measurements will you make and when?
  • Achievable: What is it that convinces you that you can achieve this goal?
  • Relevant: Why is it important to you?
  • Timely: How long will it take you to achieve the goal or goals?

 

Notice that these criteria don’t say that all objectives must be quantified on all levels. It is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Therefore you should focus on both and not just the objective.

 

Whether you’re aiming to run off a few pounds or setting your sights on a marathon, you’ve got a much better chance of achieving your goals by setting them the SMART way.

 

Goals give you focus. If you’re just running and you don’t have a purpose it is easy to become demotivated and lose sense of why you’re doing it.

 

Vague goals such as “to become a better runner” or “to train harder” do not focus your efforts.

 

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Set SMART goals in running:

 

  • Specific

Make sure that your goal answers who, what, and when. Simply saying that you want to “run faster” or “lose weight by running” are general goals.

A specific goal helps keep you motivated because you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish it.  As you move closer to your goal, you get excited and motivated by your progress, so you’ll work even harder to get to that end result.

Example of a specific goal would be: “I want to run my next 10k race in 45 minutes”, “I want to improve my PR in the marathon by two minutes in five months.”

 

  • Measurable

When choosing a running goal, make sure you also set criteria for measuring your progress. Making your running goals measurable will help you stay on track, maintain your motivation, and know when you’ve reached your target. To figure out if your goals are measurable, ask yourself things such as How much? and How many?

Example: I will measure my pace with weekly tempo runs to ensure I’m on target.

 

An example of a specific and measurable goal is “to run sub-6 minute pace for 10K by the end of the summer,” or “to run a minimum of 20km per week for each of the next 6 weeks.” Both a target and a time for achievement are clearly stated.

 

  • Achievable

While it’s good to set running goals, it’s important to choose ones that you’ll be able to accomplish if you’re willing to do the work. The best goals will require you to push yourself to achieve them. If a goal is too far out of reach, you probably won’t truly commit to going after it because deep down you know it’s not achievable.

To figure out if a goal is attainable, see how it compares to your previous running achievements.

Example: I have run for 45 minutes before and know I can improve my training/diet, so am positive I can achieve this.

 

  • Relevant

Just because you’re a runner doesn’t mean you have to set a goal that’s very popular among other runners. For a goal to be relevant, it should be something that you consider to be worthwhile and important, so you’re willing and able to work towards it. Your goals should represent you, so they shouldn’t just be something that someone else is doing or suggesting that you attempt to achieve.

Example: It is something I have always wanted to achieve.

 

  • Timely

Make sure you attach deadlines to your goals. Having a deadline will keep you motivated and prevent you getting bored or wanting to skip workouts. If you find that you’re ready to achieve your running goal way ahead of schedule, then readjust your goal and keep challenging yourself.

Example: I shall do this in 8 weeks’ time

 

Goal setting and recording your progress helps you see whether your training is working, allowing you to adjust accordingly. This gives you an amazing sense of achievement when you do finally reach your goal, whether they’re related to running or other areas of your life.

 

Running provides a boost to confidence by achieving goals previously settled. By setting and achieving goals, you can help give yourself a greater sense of empowerment that will leave you feeling much happier.

Running brings a feeling of pride that is unique to other forms of exercise. This sense of accomplishment and boost in self-esteem can keep you motivated.