Saturday, December 31, 2016

Run for the Lakes Marathon and Half Marathon


Run for the Lakes Marathon and Half Marathon - April 29

Cost: Probably the best part of this race is its value. It's only $55 for the full marathon before Dec. 31, and raises incrementally to $80 by April 28. The half marathon is $50 before Dec. 31 and raises incrementally to $75 by April 28.

Gear and food: I've liked my finisher shirts both years I've done this race. The food at the finish line is also pretty good.

Weather: The weather at this one is usually good for marathoning, though it has snowed and rained.

Aid stations: The aid stations are just the right distance for most people.

Scenery: If you like trees this is your race. The marathon is two loops through wooded areas-- I did find the second loop to be a bit tedious as far as scenery goes. If there was more to see than mostly trees, it'd be better.

Crowd support: This is not the race for you if a lot of crowd support is important to you. There are very few people cheering out on the course. It is, however, fairly easy for your own spectators to see you several times on the course.

Though Run for the Lakes isn't my first choice for a spring marathon, it's a decent course and a great value. All in all I would recommend this one if you're looking for a lower-priced race. The course is fairly flat, so it's reasonably fast.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Earth Day Half Marathon


Earth Day 1/2 Marathon - April 22

Cost: Registration is $50 through Jan. 8.

Gear and food: I've been happy with the finisher shirts for the years I've done this race. The food at the end is good--they definitely give you enough.

Weather: The several years I've done this race the weather has been good--cool but not too cold.

Course: I enjoy this course--it's got a lot of variety and has some decent scenery, especially along the river. There are some rolling hills on this race, but nothing real long and steep.

Crowd support: For the size of St. Cloud, this race has pretty decent crowd support, especially at the start and finish. It's also pretty easy for your own spectators to see you several times during the race.

I've always had fun at this event and definitely recommend it for a spring half marathon. It's a little earlier in the season, so it's a good one to use as a tune-up race for a spring marathon or half marathon. It's also late enough, however, that you cold use it as a goal race. If you're looking for a spring half marathon with an easy-ish course, this is a good one.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fargo Marathon and Half Marathon


Fargo Marathon and Half Marathon - May 20

Cost: The marathon is $85 before Dec. 31, and raises increments up to $100 by May 16. The half marathon is $65 by Dec. 31, and raises in increments up to $80 by May 16. 

Gear and food: I've been happy with the shirts for this race, and the finish line food has been good both years I've done the races.

Weather: In the two years I've done these races, the weather has been almost opposite. In 2015 the weather was almost perfect--cool at the start and throughout the race and overcast. In 2016 it was warm--not too bad for the half marathon, but tough conditions for those running the full marathon. Wind can be a factor in this one, but it wasn't in the last two years.

Course: One of my favorite parts of this race is that it starts and finishes in the Fargo Dome. This means you are warm at the start and don't need throwaway clothes. The course itself is nice and flat and goes through several college campuses and gives decent views of the area.

Crowd support: Though it's nothing like bigger city marathons, there's still decent crowd support. There are also quite a few bands along the course which is nice. If you have your own spectators it's pretty easy for them to see you along the course.

Of the dozen plus marathons I've run, the Fargo Marathon and Half Marathon is one was one of my favorites. There are a lot of big positives to this race, so if you're considering a spring marathon, the Fargo Marathon is a good one. There is also a half marathon distance. All in all this is a great race and I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a spring marathon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Goldy's Run 10 Mile

Goldy's Run 10 mile - April 9

Cost: $55 through Jan. 1

Gear and food: This one gives out nice long sleeve tech shirts. It's been awhile since I've done it, so I don't remember the post-race food.

Weather: The years I've done this one the weather's been decent, but as with any mid-spring race the weather can be hit or miss.

Course: A challenging, hilly course that runs through areas around the Mississippi, so somewhat scenic.

Crowd support: There's not much on the course, but the race finishes in TCF Bank Stadium where there's a good amount of people.

The years I've paced this race have been fun. The weather's been nice, the organization has been good, and the course presents a good challenge--lots of hills. If you're looking for a PR, this race probably isn't the one for you. Gold'y ample hills make it a good early season test of fitness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Gifts for Runners


Looking for a Christmas gift for a runner in your life? I could make a whole list for you, but I'll just give you a few suggestions. While most of my suggestions are safe bets, be aware that some runners are very particular. I'll give some ideas of how to get around that in my recommendations.

Socks: The classic groaner gift for kids, runners will actually enjoy socks--here's the caveat for particular runners: They may like only a certain type of socks. That might mean a brand, a level of cushion, or a length (no-show or ankle). Still, most runners aren't extremely picky, and would probably use a sock that's a bit different from what they have. It would, however, pay off to find out what your runner likes.

Technical Shirt: This one's probably a surer bet than socks. Most of my tech shirts are from races, so I pretty much wear what I get. I don't know a lot of runners who are real particular. Just make sure to get a shirt that doesn't have cotton.

Shoes: These would be near the top of the price range as most running shoes are $90 or more. Make sure you know the exact brand and model your runner wears. Knowing just the brand isn't enough to get them the right shoe. You'll need to know the model as well.

Running Watch: This one could be hit or miss. Most runners use GPS watches, and they're pretty pricey.  If your runner already owns a GPS and are looking for a new one, it's probably a good idea to let her or him pick one on their own. If your runner has never owned a GPS watch and their just looking for something basic, some models can be found for less than $100.

Gift Card: Here's the safest bet. Get your runner a gift card to a local running store or an online retailer. A gift card may seem less personal, but your runner knows what she or he likes, and a gift card is usually appreciated.

If you're looking for more ideas, check out Gift Guides for Runners from Runner's World. It contains several lists, including thirty running gifts for less than thirty dollars.

Run well.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Treadmills


It's that time of the year again--running on treadmills. Though I got out a couple times this past week, Friday night was a bust. I was planning on running six miles, but the snow on the sidewalks was too deep. I only ended up running three and a half miles.

Though I'd prefer not, treadmills are sometimes the best option in the Midwestern winters. You can almost always dress warm enough to run in the cold, but running in snow deeper than an inch or so is pretty difficult. Snow kept me inside five of seven days this week, four days on the treadmill and one on an indoor track.

The biggest complaint I have about treadmills is they are boring. Still, there are things you can do to mitigate the boredom. Many fitness centers have televisions built in to their treadmills or on the wall. I listen to audio books to take my mind off running in place for forty five minutes or more.

You can also do workouts on treadmills. Varying the pace and the incline on a treadmill can break the run up into smaller segments that can make the run more bearable. Read "Four Great Treadmill Workouts" from Runner's World for some workout ideas.

Run well.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fred Kurz 10 Mile


Fred Kurz 10 Mile - TBA

Cost: $10 MDRA member, $20 nonmember

Gear and food: Another bare bones race, but there are awards (MDRA gear) for age groups along with food at the end.

Weather: A mid-spring race, the temperature is usually good for racing, but Minnesota weather is unpredictable this time of year.

Aid stations: I've only done this one once, and I can't remember if there was an aid station. I can't find information about aid stations on the website.

Course: Flat and fast, most of it on the Luce Line trail, a nice surface of granular clay. The scenery is also decent, running through wetlands and along a couple of lakes.

Crowd support: None along the course other than the occasional encouragement from other trail users.

This one is an interesting race. You send in a few race times, and the organizers estimate your finish time and give you a start time. The idea is that all runners finish around the same time, and it's also fun to try and beat your estimated time.

I think this one is a great race. The course is flat and fast which makes for a PR course, and the uniqueness of the handicapped start makes for a fun event. I'd highly recommend this one.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Intense Exercise

In previous posts I've mentioned the benefits of exercise, as well as setting goals about exercise. While I still think 20 minutes is a good minimum to aim for, there is some research to support the benefits of shorter bouts of exercise ranging from seven to thirty minutes.

If you feel really crunched for time or 20 minutes of exercise seems like too much, you do have another option: intense interval training. Here's a seven minute workout from the New York Times:



The trendy new interval workouts are called high intensity interval training, or HIIT. This type of exercise means doing an intense interval of exercise followed by a rest interval. Research on the benefits of this exercise includes improved cardiovascular fitness and blood glucose control.

Though HIIT can be beneficial, as of now there is not consistent evidence that HIIT is superior to longer periods of moderate exercise. So, while I would still recommend 20 minutes or more of moderate exercise, those who feel that's too long or are really on a time crunch could benefit from HIIT training.

Read more about the potential benefits of HIIT Training in this article from NPR.

The best takeaway from the above article and from my own experience is: the best exercise is one you relatively enjoy and can stay committed to.

If you're interested in trying out some HIIT, here a a couple you could try:


Run well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ron Daws 25k


Ron Daws 25k - Date: TBA

Cost: $5 preregistred MDRA members, $15 nonmembers, $20 for all on race day.

Gear and food: Another bare bones MDRA race--no shirts or medals, but there are cookies and race rolls at the finish.

Weather: Totally unpredictable. It's been perfect weather, freezing weather, and crazy windy in the past few years.

Aid stations: You go by an aid station with water several times.

Course: Incredibly hilly and challenging. It goes through neighborhoods, so nothing scenic.

Crowd support: None to speak of.

This is a great race to test your fitness. The course is tough and makes for a good challenge. I also enjoy racing a 25k--the extra 4k compared to the half marathon makes pacing interesting.

Monday, December 12, 2016

MDRA 7 Mile


MDRA 7 Mile - March 25

Another of the MDRA nonstandard distances, it makes pacing a little more interesting. It's also another race that comes free with a Minnesota Distance Running Association membership. You can sign up at Join MDRA.

The MDRA 7 Mile is a great race if you like a low-key event. Although it's bare bones and a pretty small field, there are a wide variety of runners, so whether you're running fast or slow you'll probably find at least one person to run with.

Another big bonus is that race day registration is in a church basement--it's great staying warm and being able to use an indoor bathroom before the race. If you're looking for a challenging yet low-key race, I'd highly recommend this one.

Cost: Free to MDRA members.

Gear and food: No shirts or finisher medals for this one, but there are usually cookies at the end.

Weather: The years I've done this one it's been good--usually cool, sometimes cold. It is early spring, however, so the weather can be pretty unpredictable. 

Course: Hilly and challenging. It runs mostly through neighborhoods, so if you're looking for scenery, this isn't the race for you.

Crowd support: Not at this race.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter Training


The dreaded "W" word is upon us in Minnesota. The change in weather means training in cold, snow, and ice -- at least it does for my Midwestern readers. The temperature was 4 degrees on my eleven mile run this morning.

However, just because it's cold doesn't mean you have to abandon your outdoor training. There's lots you can do to have a successful winter of training and maintaining or even improving your fitness. Here's some tips to make winter running successful (and maybe even enjoyable):

Dress for Success
Some essentials here are warm socks, gloves, long sleeve tech shirts, and a windbreaker. If you're going to run in very cold weather, a face covering of some sort is helpful. Make sure you avoid anything cotton. Runner's World has a nice tool to help you decide "What to Wear" based on the temperature and conditions.

Traction for Your Shoes
If you're looking for cheap, effective traction, trying turning some of your older running shoes into screw shoes. Detailed instructions can be found here, and more information on screw shoes can be found here. There are also several other traction options that can be placed on your shoes, such as Yaktrax Run. I find screw shoes work best on packed, shallow snow and ice, and Yaktrax work better on more powdery snow.

Lights and Reflective Gear
Winter means fewer daylight hours. With that in mind, it's good to have reflective gear and a headlamp. If you're running in a city with lots of streetlights, you're not going to need a real powerful headlamp. I mainly use mine to shine at cars in intersections so I know they can see me and won't roll into me through a stop sign. There are many options for reflective gear--hats, pants, jackets, or a reflective vest you can put on over your clothes all work well.

Start You Running Into the Wind
Try to start out the first part of your run going into the wind. It's a much more pleasant experience to be a little cold at the start of your run and finish with the wind at your back. Also, if you start with the wind you may get sweaty and warm, potentially making the run back a cold, miserable experience.

You can read more of my thoughts on winter training here, here, and here.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Lake Johanna 4 Mile

Lake Johanna 4 mile - March 18

A nonstandard distance, the Lake Johanna 4 Mile is a fun race on a reasonably challenging course. With the hills and the nonstandard distance, picking a pace to run consistently is a nice challenge in and of itself.


This is one of the several free races included with a membership in the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA). Like the other races, I think this race alone is worth the MDRA membership, which also includes a bimonthly magazine, discounts at several local running stores, and discounts to several other races. To join MDRA, go to: Join MDRA.

Cost: Free for MDRA members.

Gear and food: This race is a low-key event--no finisher shirts or medals--but there are cookies at the end.

Weather: The years I've run this race the weather has been perfect, but like every spring Minnesota race, the weather can be unpredictable.

Course: I really enjoy the course--rolling hills around Lake Johanna. The hills make it a challenging course, but not overly so.

Crowd support: There'll be a decent amount of people at the start and finish.

If you're looking for a low-key and challenging early season race, the Lake Johanna 4 Mile is a good one.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Get Lucky 7k, 14k, and Half Marathon


Get Lucky 7k, 14k and Half Marathon - March 11

I've done this race a few times and have been a spectator a couple of other times. The race isn't spectacular, but it is a good early season test of fitness.

Cost: TBA

Gear and food: Team Ortho is known for it's gear and most people like it. The downside for this one is that a "Get Lucky" sweatshirt's double entendre may not play well in all settings. Food at the end is average.

Weather: Generally cool, but Minnesota springs are inconsistent. There was one year with snow and ice. Another year was sunny an warm--especially difficult for an early season race after training in cold and cool weather.

Course: There's not information on the course as of this writing. The course has been changed several times, though it usually contains several rolling hills.

Crowd support: Not a whole lot along the course, but a decent crowd at the finish.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Spring Races

Looking for a race this spring? Over the past six years I've had the pleasure of racing or being a pacer at quite a few Minnesota races. I included the date and cost of these events unless they haven't released them. For several races, I used the cost of last year's race, so the price may be different this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you're not from Minnesota or you're looking for a different race, check out Running in the USA's calendar to search for races.

You'll notice several of these races are free or discounted for MDRA members. I highly recommend a Minnesota Distance Running Association membership for Minnesota runners. Any one of the member benefits is worth the price alone. Not only do you get free or discounted races, you also get a bimonthly magazine, a running log with a race calendar, and discounts at many Minnesota running stores. I've been a member since 2010, and I've got my money's worth every year. Sign up at Join MDRA.

  • Ron Daws 25k - April 1 - $5 MDRA preregistered, $15 nonmember, $20 for all on race day
I'll be posting reviews and more detailed information about each of these races over the next two weeks.

Run well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Motivation and Races


My last post on motivation gave some tips for getting and staying motivated over the holiday season. Though there are lots of great ways to get motivated, the best motivation for me has always been racing.

When I've got a race on the schedule, the first thing I do, sometimes even before I sign up, is write a training plan. Nothing gets me more motivated than looking at my training schedule and having a daily workout.

The prospect of completing your first 5k, half marathon, or marathon, or of running a new best time, may be the perfect motivator for you as well. Knowing that following that schedule gives you your best chance of doing your best might get you out the door better than anything else.

So, if you're looking to stay motivated, stay healthy, complete your first race, or run a new best time, consider signing up for a race. If you live in the Minneapolis area, check out my post on winter events if you want to do a race soon.

In my next post I'll share some of my favorite spring races, then highlight those races in individual posts.

Run well.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Motivation


With Thanksgiving come and gone and Christmas just around the corner, holiday weight gain looms large. Research suggests that Americans gain an average of one to five pounds over the holidays, which doesn't sound bad, except research also suggests that weight stays on.

You can avoid that weight gain, or at least burn those extra pounds off, by getting in some extra exercise. Sometimes the hardest part of running is getting out the door. If you're having trouble getting motivated to run, there's a lot you can do to get motivated and stay motivated.

Read, "The 12 Habits of Highly Motivated Runners" from Runner's World for some in-depth tips to get motivated. If running's not your thing, substitute running for any exercise. Here are some highlights from the article:
  • Run in the morning. I know it's hard--it's easy to hit that snooze button to grab another 20 minutes of sleep. Consider, however, that you're not really getting anything out of that short amount of sleep anyway. Resolve to go to bed a little earlier, and before you know it getting up early and getting out the door for a run will become routine. 
  • Speaking of routine, set one. Set a goal to run however many days a week that works with your schedule. I'd recommend at least three days to reap the cardiovascular and muscular benefits of running.
  • Run with others. Having a training partner means someone else is counting on you to get out for a run. Or, join a running club or training group. I always notice the miles tick by quicker when I've got someone to chat with.
I know motivation can be tough--especially in the Midwest where this time of year means shorter days. Running in the dark is definitely not as fun. Still, I've never felt bad about getting out for a run.

Run well.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mental Health and Fitness - Part 2

In a previous post, I wrote on the many benefits of exercise in regards to mental health. Since then, I conducted further research on the benefits of mental health, and I wanted to share some of what I found.
Running usually puts a smile on my face

I have been diagnosed with both bipolar and generalized anxiety disorder. While I will most likely be on medication for bipolar for the rest of my life, there's a good chance I will be able stay off medication for my generalized anxiety disorder--a big positive considering the side effects of anxiety medications, one of which is a rebound effect that leads to even more anxiety.

Why will I be ale to stay off medication? Exercise. Studies have shown that exercise is as effective as medication in treating mild depression and anxiety. While this may not be true for all people, even if exercise is not effective in managing and preventing anxiety and depression, one will still reap the physical benefits of exercise. Read more in "Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress" from the Mayo Clinic.

So what's the key to using exercise to mitigate or prevent anxiety and depression? The first thing I'd suggest is setting some goals. A simple goal could be to exercise at least 20 minutes five times a week. Or, if you're feeling more motivated, 20 minutes every day. I'd suggest 20 minutes as the minimum, especially for cardiovascular benefits, but you could certainly do more or less (check out some shorter workouts here and here).

What works best for me is signing up for a race. Once I have a race on my schedule, I write myself at training plan, and that seems to work best for getting myself motivated.

The next step in using exercise to improve your mental health is making exercise work for your schedule. Take some time to look at your schedule and consider what you could cut out to make room for exercise. I would suggest cutting out some T.V. watching, surfing the internet, or other sedentary activity.

Once you've picked something to cut out, the final step in your exercise regiment is consistency. For some people, it works best to have a set time for exercise. I will say it's often harder to motivate yourself to exercise after work, but early mornings are also hard for some people as well. Even if you can't exercise at the same time every day, you could try to set up a weekly routine--something as simple as saying you're going to exercise certain days of the week.

So, to sum up, set a goal, make time to achieve that goal, and make exercise a part of your routine.

Run well.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Healthy Habits - Results



The healthy habits challenge is officially over, and based on the results from the poll on readers' favorite healthy habit, exercising regularly and eating fruits and veggies took first place. Two awesome healthy habits for sure.

The lucky winner will receive a prize of a custom training plan. Thanks to all the readers who participated in the challenge and voted in the poll. Remember: it's always a good time to start a healthy habit or break an unhealthy one.

Run well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Healthy Habits Challenge


We're almost there. In four days I'll be running the PNC Bank Milwaukee Marathon. Four days from now will also mark the 66th day I've tried to limit myself to one bowl of cereal per day. Though I've missed that goal a couple times, I've done reasonably well.

Honestly, it's been difficult, and I don't know if I've really formed a habit yet. I still eat a bowl cereal every day, and the first thing my brain tells me when I've finished one bowl is to eat another bowl of cereal. Perhaps I need to give up cereal altogether for a few weeks to form a new healthy habit.

How are your healthy habits going? Several readers have responded with their healthy habits, and they've all been great. There's still time to vote for your favorite healthy habit. If you're having trouble voting with the poll above this post, shoot me a message with your vote and I can add it to the poll.

Run well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Mental Health and Fitness - Part 1

General fitness is an excellent goal in and of itself. However, a healthy weight, a strong cardiovascular system, and strong bones and muscles are not the only benefits of an exercise regiment.

Physical fitness  also leads to mental fitness. In the U.S., around 19% of adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness in a given year, and around 4% will be severely limited in one or more life activities by a mental illness. Around 21% of youth 13 - 18 will be diagnosed with a mental illness within those six years (source: Mental Health by the Numbers, NAMI).

The other day, I published a post  on my other blog about my struggles and successes with bipolar. Besides bipolar, I've also have a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, and at times these illnesses have greatly reduced my ability to function. I have, however, maintained a reasonably normal life, and besides amazing support from family and friends, physical fitness has played a huge role in managing and preventing symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, taking care of your physical needs is a major part of treating and preventing mental illness. Healthy eating, good sleep, and physical activity can help to both avoid mental illness and mitigate the symptoms.

Physical fitness, specifically running, has been a huge help in limiting symptoms of my bipolar. The high energy that accompanies mania and hypomania can be avoided or reduced by burning off energy through vigorous running and strength training.

The depressive cycles can also be managed and prevented. Running can release endocannabinoids into the brain, bringing on a feeling of well-being. The lack of motivation that often accompanies depression can also be improved by running. It's sometimes hard to get out the door for a run--especially when I'm feeling depressed. However, I usually notice an improvement in my mood and motivation following a run.

You don't have to suffer from a mental illness to reap the benefits of exercise. Exercise can also help manage stress, improve mood, and prevent the occurrence of mental illness. So, besides being physically healthy, exercise can also help you be mentally healthy.

Run well.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Upcoming Winter Events

Here in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, there are all kinds of running events. While there's many more to choose from in the spring, summer, and fall, there are also races in the winter.

Below are some of my favorite winter runs in the Twin Cities. These races are listed in chronological order, not by favorites.

2014 as a pacer with Nate

Polar Dash (Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, 1600m)
January 1
 I served as a pacer twice for the half marathon and volunteered a couple times. Every year it was very cold (below zero wind chills, and there's something that makes you feel extra tough about running in that kind of weather). Team Ortho, the race management company, serves hot chocolate at the finish and the sweatshirt they give out is usually pretty cool. Here is my race report from 2014.

Meet of Miles (1 mile)
January 17
There's something exciting about racing a distance that makes your lungs want to explode.  Miles are run in heats based on goal finish time, so it's nice being in a race with runners your speed. I was able to run my indoor mile PR at the Meet of Miles, and it definitely helped having a group of runners right at my goal pace. Here's my race report from 2012.

Finishing the mile

Securian Winter Run (1/2  Marathon, 10k, 5k)
January 18
I've run this one three times. Once, it was a balmy 34 (that really is balmy for January in Minnesota), and the other two times it was very cold. The last time I did Securian, it was also icy. Are you sold on this one? It's actually a fun event. Securian opens up their building so you can wait for the start inside where it's warm and return after the finish. You also get a sweet mug.
Here are some race reports from my blog: 2014, 2012, 2010.

2012 with Nate

Valetines Day 5k

February 11
I'd ran this one a couple times, once all-out racing and once while recovering from a broken leg. This one is a fun event for sure, and there's a discount for couples. The year my wife and I ran this one together she wore an "it's complicated" sign while mine said, "taken." At least she didn't choose the "single" sign. The race also comes with some hot chocolate before and after and some sweet treats at the end. Here's my race report from 2012.

2012 with my wife, Laura

Thinking about training for one of these races and want a training plan? Check out my coaching options page for a training for as low as $10.

If you're looking for other winter events, check out Running in the USA Races or Eventbright for races in your area.

Run well.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Compression Gear

In a previous post, I discussed the possible benefits of kinesiology tape. Though kinesiology tape may be useful, evidence for its effectiveness is scant. Compression gear, on the other hand, does have more evidence of effectiveness.

Compression gear is also a more economical option than kinesiology tapes like KT Tape and Rocktape. While its more expensive upfront, compression gear is an investment you can use for years rather than sticking on tape that will be thrown away in a few days.

Compression socks have been prescribed by doctors for years to improve circulation, mainly to reduce ankle swelling, but they're also a useful tool for athletes.

Unfortunately, compression gear has not been shown to increase performance. It has, however, been shown to aid recovery and decrease perceived muscle soreness. Plus, compression gear looks cool.

I generally wear compression calf sleeves for hard workouts and races, then wear compression socks afterward. The compression gear seems to help decrease my muscle soreness in the following days.

While you can buy compression gear online, I'd recommend going to a specialty athletic store, getting measured and trying on the gear.

Here's some further reading on compression gear and kinesiology tape:

Compression Socks and Kinesio Tape
The Verdict Behind 5 Popular Running Tools

Run well.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Healthy Habits: Two Weeks to Go

Starting in September, some of my readers and I have been working on healthy habits: making a healthy habit or breaking an unhealthy one. My goal was to limit myself to one bowl of cereal per day and 2-3 sweets per week. It takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit, and we're down to the final two weeks.

I've missed my goal a few times--I had cereal at breakfast and again as an evening snack a few times. There were also a couple times I had probably had 4-5 sweets per week. I didn't keep track of those too well. For the next two weeks, I will limit myself to 2-3 sweets per week and one bowl of cereal for sure.

My readers have made some great healthy habits. I'd like to award a prize in the next two weeks for the "best" healthy habits, but I don't want to pick. So, above this post are the entries. Vote early and vote often for what you think are to best healthy habits. Note: Sometimes these polls don't work on the mobile site.

Run well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kinesiology Tapes

<Image Credit>

My first experience with kinesiology tape occurred when I was dealing with some knee issues while training for the Rock 'n Roll St. Louis Marathon. I'd broken my leg eleven months before and began dealing with pain in that leg and knee about two weeks prior to the race.

I went to see a physical therapist, and she recommended KT Tape. After she taped me up, I did notice a bit of a difference, although it may have been a purely placebo effect.

Kinesiology tape is "usually made of tightly woven elasticated cotton (97%) and nylon (3%) fibres" (source: Running Physio). Manufacturers of the various types of kinesiology tape claim it can reduce pain, improve postural alignment, and increase athletic performance.

The evidence for these benefits is mixed. I've used various brands of KT Tape, Protec, and Rocktape. All these brands are readily available online and in many sporting goods and running stores. I've even purchased KT Tape at Target.

Now, I use compression socks and calf sleeves instead. First of all, compression socks and calf sleeves may be more expensive initially, but after you've worn them about 20 times, you've already come out ahead from one roll of kinesiology tape.

While I wouldn't recommend kinesiology tape due to the cost and the mixed research on its benefits, I will say that it did seem to help somewhat when I used it. I've been dealing with a bit of a calf strain lately, and I'm thinking of trying the kinesiology tape that I still have because it will stay on for a few days. Then, I don't have to wear compression socks around the house, etc.

Here's some further reading on kinesiology tape:


 Many researchers believe that kinesiology tape simply gives the athlete a placebo effect. However, a placebo effect is still an effect.

If anyone would care to comment on their experience with kinesiology tape, I'd love to hear about it.

Run well.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Making or Breaking a Habit

This past September I issued a challenge: Spend the month trying to make or break a habit. My goal was to break the habit of eating multiple bowls of cereal a day. Since a habit takes an average of 66 days to make or break, I'm down to three weeks of making or breaking this habit.

Click here for more information on healthy habits at Healthy Habit Lifestyle


How has it gone? I've definitely cheated a few days. However, for all of September I kept my goal. The past two weeks I've had cereal for breakfast a couple of those days and then another bowl in the evening.

Now, with three weeks left, I'm rededicating myself to eating one bowl of cereal a day.

I've only had three takers on making or breaking a habit, but they're good ones. The goals were to reduce sugar, pack healthy lunches, and limit cereal to two meals a week.

I'll be contacting one of the lucky winners soon, but there's still time to enter. Sixty-six days from the start of this challenge runs through November 5, so if you're interested in making a healthy habit or breaking an unhealthy one, comment on this post, Twitter, or Facebook and I'll throw you into the drawing.

Here's so more information on making or breaking habits:

September Challenge and Give Away
Make or Break a Habit

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara


I've run in Saucony Kinvaras from the Kinvara 1s to the Kinvara 6s. The Kinvara 7s are now out, and those will probably be my next pair of shoes for faster workouts and races.

I love the Kinvaras. Every pair has been a little different, but the basics of each version have been the same: a lightweight neutral shoe with a decent amount of cushioning and a light, breathable upper.

The downside of the Kinvara is its durability. Compared to other shoes, it's not going to last as long, as is the case with all lightweight running shoes.

Read more about running shoes here.


Shoe Review: Hoka Clifton 2


Since I found out about Hoka One One brand a couple years ago, I've been wanting to try them out. Their price is somewhat higher than shoes I've been running in, but after the Hoka Clifton 3s were released, I decided it was time to pull the trigger and a pair of Clifton 2s.

I'm glad a did. In the first 100+ miles of these shoes, I've been very impressed. Here's some pros and cons:

What I like: Though the sole of the Cliftons is incredibly thick, the feel very light. The rocker-shaped sole also feels like it aids in forward motion. The upper fits my foot shape well, and the cushioning feels perfect.

What I don't like: At first, the tongue seemed to press a bit against the top of my foot and front of my ankle. After a few runs, however, it doesn't seem to be a problem. The shoe's thick cushioning also took a bit to get used to--at first it felt a bit awkward, but now I'm used to it.

Overall, I really like the Hoka Clifton 2s. They fit well and they don't sacrifice weight for cushioning--for how thick the sole is, they're incredibly light.  I haven't used these for a speed workout as I prefer my Saucony Kinvaras, but they do work find for tempo and long runs.

Read a more in-depth review over at Runblogger.

Read more about running shoes here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shoe Review: Underarmour Speedform Gemini 2

Full disclosure: I received this shoe for free as part of my pacing assignment at the Fargo Half Marathon. I wouldn't have chosen this shoe on my own, but it does fall into the category of shoe that I would wear--a neutral, cushioned shoe.

I've now run over 150 miles in these shoes, so I've got a good idea of what I like and what I don't like.

What I like: The shoes have what appears to be a durable outsole. There is very little blown rubber on the outside of my Saucony Kinvara 6s and my Hoka Clifton 2s. I generally wear out the outsole on a shoe before the midsole, so the Speedform Gemini 2s look like they may last a bit longer.

What I don't like: The collar of the upper has a ridge that rubs my ankle just a bit. Honestly, I barely notice it anymore, and it's never given me blisters, so it's a pretty minor complaint. The other thing I don't like is that they're quite of bit heavier than my Kinvaras of my Hoka Cliftons.

Overall, these shoes are OK. I wouldn't use them for a race or for a faster workout due to their weight, but they seem like they're going to be a decent pair of shoes for easy and recovery runs.

Next up: Hoka Clifton 2s.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Running Shoe Rotation

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If you're currently in the market for running shoes, you might have some questions about where, how, and what to buy. Skip to the bullet points if you just want some practical tips for buying shoes.

Newer runners often ask themselves, "Do I really need an expensive pair of running shoes?" My answer: Sort of. Expensive is a relative term: look for last year's models, sales, and buy shoe that have worked for you in the past from an online retailer (especially around Christmas, when many shoes go on sale).

It's not cool, however, to spend time in a running store getting fitted and trying on shoes, only to leave the store and buy online.

Think of running shoes as an investment. I've run in Wal Mart shoes, and have also bought shoes simply because they were on sale. The result? A very sore foot after one run in the Wal Mart shoes, and feeling like I was wearing bricks when running in some clearance New Balance.

In high school and college, when I got a running shoe that worked well, it was mostly by luck. Since then, I've run in and tried on 100+ pairs of running shoes. Here's some advice for choosing the right shoe based on my observations and research:
  • The best running shoe for you is one that is comfortable.
  • Don't pick a shoe based on color.
  • A shoe that works for your buddy might not work for you. You have different running form, feet, weight, etc.
  • Wear the least amount of shoe you can get away with (read: Tread Lightly for an excellent primer on running shoes).
  • Jog around the store or use an in-store treadmill to try out a pair of shoes.
  • If you're stuck picking between two pairs of shoes, try one on each foot.
Another thing I'd recommend is having multiple pairs of running shoes, preferably different models. There are several benefits to having a variety of shoes: 

First, if you have a shoe that got wet due to rain or sweat, you have a dry pair of shoes ready to go the next day. Second, different shoes may be better for specific workouts (you may want a lighter shoe for a fast workout or more cushion for a recovery run). Thirdly, if a running shoe wears out, you have another pair to use until you purchase that next pair.

Most importantly, a recent study showed that runners who rotated multiple pairs of running shoes while training had a 39% lower incidence of injury as compared to runners who ran in the same shoe throughout the same time period. Read more at the following link: Study Backs Rotating Running Shoes to Lower Injury Risk.

For all my readers in the Twin Cities, here's a list of specialty running stores to buy your next pair of shoes:
  • The Running Room: Multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities. Good variety of running shoes, periodic sales and price matching (Disclaimer: I work here).
  • Fleet Feet Marathon Sports: Located near the chain of lakes and some of the best running in Minneapolis. Some college and professional athletes to help you out, and a treadmill to try out shoes in the store.
  • Runner's Gate: Periodic sales, a moderate selection of running shoes, and knowledgeable staff to get you in the right shoes.
  • Run MN: Formerly a second location of Run N Fun. A wide variety of shoes and a knowledgeable staff.
  • Run N Fun: Lots of clearance shoes, knowledgeable staff, and a wide variety of shoes and apparel.
There are others, but I've only been to the above stores. I've also heard good things about Mill City Running, and a quick Google search will turn up several more options.

For my Rochester readers, check out Terra Loco and The Running Room.

In my next few posts, I'll highlight some of the shoes in my running rotation, past and present.

Run well.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September Challenge: Make or Break a Habit

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In my last post, I wrote about how it takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit. For a start, I challenged my readers to pick a habit to make or break for September. If you're looking for some motivation and strategies, here are a couple of articles to help you along:


Interestingly, 66 days from September 1 will be November 6, the day of my next marathon. The habit I decided to break was eating multiple bowls of cereal per day. I was going to do the challenge for September, but with the date falling on marathon Sunday, I might as well try to make it all the way to then.

What habit are you going to make or break? It's not too late to start. You can join until the end of September, or go all out and aim for 66 days (use this website if you don't want to count the days on your own). Some habits readers are trying are reducing sugar, exercising at least 20 minutes a day, and eating five fruits and vegetables a day.

Read more about habits in my last post, September Challenge and Give Away. If you are interested, leave a comment on this post, Facebook, or Twitter. Those participating are eligible to receive a sweet prize.

Run well.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Challenge and Give Away: Making or Breaking a Habit


It's time for a September challenge! Comment on Facebook, Twitter, or this post with your September goal, and be entered to win a prize (it'll be awesome).

Some of my readers worked toward reducing their sugar intake as part of the August Sugar Challenge. Reducing sugar intake for a month is an awesome goal, but unfortunately researchers say that 31 days is not long enough to make or break a habit.

In 2009, researchers at the UK Heath Behaviour Research Centre found that it takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit. This seems like a long time, but there are many practical things you can do.

I'll use reducing sugar intake as an example.
  • Remove triggers: 
    • For sugary foods and beverages, the most basic step you can take is to remove sweets from your house. Some practical ways to do this are:
      • Don't go to the grocery store hungry. Go after a meal, or eat a healthy snack with some protein and fat.
      • If you do want to have a few sweets in the house, put them out of sight.
  • Order water or unsweetened tea or coffee. Make it a habit. 
    • If you're used to the caffeine and you think unsweetened tea or coffee takes terrible, give it time. Try some different kinds of coffee or tea, and add milk or cream. 
  • Create a substitute:
    • Pick a healthy snack you like. 
      • Fruit, carrots, celery sticks, sliced green peppers--there's lots to choose from.
      • Keep these snacks where you can see them--on the counter, in the front of the refrigerator, etc.
      • Use some downtime to create individual portions so when you're busy you don't have to spend time preparing your snack. 
For my September challenge, I'm going to do is focus on my worst sugar habit--sweetened cereal. All the cereal I buy now has less than 9 grams of sugar per cup, but I often eat two or three bowls a day, and those bowls are usually more like one-and-a-half cups. So, I'm going to try to eat only one bowl of cereal per day. I'm also going to keep limiting my sweets, but instead of trying to abstain completely, I'm going to limit myself to 2-3 per week.

I'd love to here from those who are taking the challenge. What habit are you going to make or break? Eating five or more fruits and veggies a day? Working out 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes?

Comment on Facebook, Twitter, or below this post and be entered to win a sweet prize.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Sugar Challenge: Fin


As of 11:59 a.m., I've completed the August sugar challenge. Besides one sweet to be polite and eating a little more Dark Cocoa Karma cereal than I should have, it went pretty well.

I'm going to be honest: I'm pretty pumped for some sweets again. I already took a couple of zucchini brownies out of the freezer, so they can be my first sweets tomorrow.

I'm not going to overindulge though. I'll myself to two sweets a week for the duration of my marathon training cycle. I am also going to take up a new challenge. More information on that tomorrow.

I hope your August went well. Here in Minnesota the end of August means the coming of fall and with it some great running weather.

If you did the sugar challenge--even part of it--I'd love to hear how it went. Comment on this post, Facebook, or Twitter.

Run well.

Monday, August 29, 2016

It's hot, but don't over-drink


In 1985, seventeen runners were hospitalized during the Comrades Marathon. It was hot, so you might guess most were hospitalized due to heat injury or dehydration. You'd be wrong. According to Science Based Running, "nine of them were overhydrated: their blood sodium levels were dangerously low. In the 1987 race, three runners nearly died of the condition, and some runners in the U.S. have indeed died of overhydration" (Science of Running).

Overhydration, called hyponatrimia, is a serious and dangerous condition that can lead problems including confusion, nausea, muscle spasms, comas or death.

While all this sounds scary, there's a simple solution to this potentially dangerous problem. Exercise scientists and nutritionists such as Tim Noakes and Matt Fitzgerald recommend drinking to thirst. You've probably heard, "if you wait until you're thirsty to drink, you're already dehydrated."

This may be true to some degree, but your body is actually pretty good at telling you when its thirsty. We are all an experiment of one, so some may need to drink a bit more. I tend to miss my body's thirst signals, but sometimes seeing a water stop reminds me I'm thirsty. Still, it's better to err on the side of drinking too little than drinking to much.

By all means, drink water and stay hydrated, but as you're doing those long and intermediate distance runs, remember to drink to thirst.

For more information on training and racing in heat, check out the following posts:

Run well.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Tabata Workout


Here in Minnesota, the weather is perfect for running. I'm pumped to get in a long run in the cooler morning temperature, but a two hour workout isn't always feasible. If you're looking for a shorter, efficient workout, try a Tabata interval. The above video shows a Tabata workout for runners.

Tabata workouts are named after the a Japanese physician and researcher. Dr. Tabata was hired by a speed skating coach to test the efficacy of the team's training program. Read, The History of Tabata from Grokker.com if you're interested in more detail.

Now, Tabata has become all sorts of things--group fitness classes, circuit training with weights, and running workouts--quite a bit different than the original workouts done by speed skaters on stationary bikes.

The concept, however, is fairly simple: Bouts of intense exercises, with short rests in between the intense efforts. These workouts are also called high intensity interval training (HIIT). For a runner, this could be sets of sprinting followed by sets of jogging as follows:

  • Do a 5-10 minute walk/jog before starting.
  • Begin your workout with a 20 second sprint followed by a 10 second rest (walking).
    • Start by doing this 4-8 times
    • A set of 8 of these takes 4 minutes.
  • If you are newer to exercise, don't go all out on the sprints.
  • Try to find a hill to do this workout. 
    • Sprinting uphill reduces impact forces that can lead to injury.
  • Work your way up to doing more intervals, or more intense intervals.
  • Don't do this workout more than a few days a week, and always recover a day or two between workouts.
So how efficient is this workout? Those original speed skaters doing Tabata training showed more aerobic and anaerobic improvements than a group who did moderate training for a longer period of time. So, if you're crunched for time or would rather do something intense and painful rather than spending more time at a moderate pace, this workout might be a good one to try.

You can find all kinds of variations on this Tabata workout, or workouts like it, on You Tube. There's also many smart phone applications with a timer that counts the interval times. Here's a link to a Tabata application for Android: Tabata timer with music. Applications are also available for Windows and iOS.

Run well.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

August Sugar Challenge: One week to go


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I've heard from a few readers who have taken the August sugar challenge, and are limiting their sugar intake.

One of the best ways to reduce sugar intake is to eliminate sweetened beverages, or at least downsize. Do it for one week.

The American Heart Association recommends less than 36 grams of added sugar in one's daily diet. One medium soda or sweetened coffee drink can put you over the limit for one day. Read, Weight Loss Tips: Rethink Your Drink for more detailed information.

One week. You can do it!

Run well.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sugar Challenge Solutions


Going sweet-free in August hasn't been easy. As I wrote in my previous post, I have had a couple of lapses (BBQ sauce and extra servings of cereal), but I haven't ate a true sweet for 18 days now.

Temptations of delicious-looking brownies from Hy-Vee made it to our house this past weekend; a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream in the fridge; and samples of sweets in Target, Sam's Club, and Hy-Vee on our shopping tour of Apple Valley and Lakeville last Saturday--all of which have looked incredibly appealing.

Fortunately, the temptation to eat sweets seems to be diminishing, but I know the whole month is going to be a challenge. For a long time there was, and still is, a common myth propagated by the self-help industry that it take 21 days to make or break a habit.

Then, in a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that it actually takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to start to feel automatic. Read about it in "How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit" from The Huffington Post.

Here's a couple of things that have worked for me during this sugar challenge:

  • Alternative snacks: Rather than always going for sweetened cereal, I've been eating more fruits and some veggies for a snack. My neighbor has brought over some delicious cherry tomatoes from his garden, and we've been keeping washed blueberries and grapes in a visible spot in the fridge. Unfortunately, I've still succumbed to sweetened cereal, though all of it has had less than 9g of sugar per serving. 
  • Reduced Sugar Baking: I made some whole wheat and oatmeal banana bread last weekend, and I used Truvia rather than sugar. Truvia alone doesn't work that well in a lot of things--one of our friends described it and other alternative sweeteners as "hollow" tasting, which I think is right on. But, in banana bread it works fine. I think the natural sugar from the overripe bananas masks the absence of real sugar.
  • Out of sight, out of mind: Laura was kind enough to keep the Hy-Vee brownies in the back of the cabinet. There's a lot less temptation to go for a sweet when you have to look for one. 

That's all for this post. Stay tuned for another sugar challenge post in the near future.

Run well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August Sugar Challenge


As of noon today, I'm halfway through the August sugar challenge. I've heard from a couple of you who wanted to join in the August challenge, and I'd love to hear how you're doing. If you want to start now and go for the last 15.5 days in August, feel free to join.

Here's a summary:

Bronze:
  • Pick one sugary food or drink to eliminate from your diet for the month of August. 
Silver:
  • Limit yourself to one sweet a day, week, every other day, or whatever. 
Gold
  • "Eliminate" processed sugar from your diet.
Read all the details on the August Sugar Challenge post.

As for my challenge, it's hard to say where I am. I haven't eaten any "sweets" per say, but there's been a couple of unitential slip ups, along with a couple of lapses in self-control.

I wanted to limit myself to not eating anything with more than 9 grams of sugar, but I accidentally had chicken tenders with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce, and it has 16 grams of sugar.

As far as self-control goes, I've gone back for seconds on my Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma Wheat Biscuit Cereal a couple of times. If that counts as a sweet, and I'd say it does, I'm somewhere in between bronze and silver. 

So for the rest of August, I'm going to continue going "sweet free" as much as possible, trying to stick to the limit of nine grams. There is, however, the matter of politeness. So, if someone makes me some sort of special sweet treat, I won't say no.

Feel free to leave a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or at the end of this post to let me know how you're doing.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

August Sugar Challenge

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There's already plenty (too much) information on the internet about nutrition. The best I can say is to follow the advice of two of my favorite authors:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Michael Pollan, " In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto"

"Balance your energy sources... if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Matt Fitzgerald, Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners

I'll write more about this later in the post, but first I want to post a challenge: cut down on sugar intake. How and how much is up to you, but here are my suggestions, using an Olympic theme in honor of the upcoming games:

Bronze:
  • Pick one sugary food or drink to eliminate from your diet for the month of August. 
If you drink sugared soda iced coffee, or even a sugary sports drink, I'd go for that. Sure, the sugar will give you some energy, but why waste precious sugar calories on a drink? I'd prefer some sort of a dessert to a soda, but to each their own.

Silver:
  • Limit yourself to one sweet a day, week, every other day, or whatever. 
I've done this a number of times, and it works pretty well. When there are sweets in the staff room at work, I usually grab one. If I'm limiting my sweets, I have to ask myself, "do I really want to use my one sweet today (or this week, or whatever) on cupcakes from Target?"

Gold
  • "Eliminate" processed sugar from your diet.

This one's tricky, as everything from ketchup to whole grain cereal has processed sugar. You can decide to go all out and eat only whole foods and/or cereals and processed foods with no added sugar, but that's a tall order.

What I'd recommend it set a limit on how much sugar can be in something for you to be "allowed" to eat it. Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma Wheat Biscuit Cereal has 9g of added sugar--I'd say that's a decent baseline.

You can set whatever limit you want and then be reasonable about your food choices. Make sure to check serving sizes, but don't go nuts--it's not worth driving yourself crazy. Does one piece of dark chocolate count as a sweet? It's up to you.

"Cheating" or, "Succumbing to temptation"

Don't beat yourself up--it happens. If you want to try the August Sugar Challenge but are worried you can't do it, try it anyway. And if you "cheat," keep going. Olympic athletes compete for the gold medal, but even when they know it's out of reach, they usually finish anyway. Watch any Olympic event, especially the marathon, for confirmation of this fact.

If you'd like to try this challenge, I'd love to hear from you. Comment on Facebook, Twitter, or on this post and let us know you're trying the challenge. 

I'm going to start my August sugar challenge by going for gold. I'm setting my sugar limit to 9g so I can finish my box of Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma Wheat Biscuit Cereal (which is awesome).

I could expound on nutrition for runners, but this post is meant to be all-inclusive. There are countless iterations of diets out there from paleo to vegan, but the most sage advice involves a balanced diet of mostly plants (vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and grains), and mostly whole foods. 

Balancing your energy sources means getting enough calories through carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It doesn't mean eliminating entire food groups--don't do that. But eliminating processed sugar? I don't see a problem with that.  

Run well, and leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or below the post!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pace Yourself Part 5: Wind

This is part four of specific conditions to consider when pacing yourself during races or training runs. To skip to the specific tips, head to the end of this post. Here are previous posts on pace:

Source and interesting analysis of 2011 Boston wind
I've done many training runs where wind played a significant factor. The most vivid of which occurred back in 2002. On a run with two other steeplechasers, wind gusts had to be close to 40 mph on the fairly treeless landscape surrounding Seward, Neb.

The route we'd chosen was not ideal for the conditions. We ran in a lot of open space, and at one point we were running into the wind on a dirt road. After what couldn't have been more than a mile, our faces getting pounded with farmland dirt and dust, we decided to turn around--it was a much shorter maintenance run than the coach had called for.

Factoring wind into training runs and races is not easy.

I love the title of the Runner's World Article, "The Science (and guesswork) of Race Equivalent Predictors." In he article, author Matt McCue mentions the Jack Daniels calculations on wind's effect on pace.

To sum up, Daniels data shows an 18 minute 5k run into a 10 mph headwind is equivalent to running a 17:05. An 18 minute 5k run with the aid of a 10 mph tailwind? It's only worth a 19:38.

To factor in a specific time, check out this Running Calculator from Runworks. One of the variations it allows is for headwind and tailwind.

Of all the factors in pacing, wind is the most difficult to nail down. Rarely will you run straight into a headwind or tailwind for an entire race--even point-to-point courses are not straight, and wind directions often shift during the course of a race.

Two races I've run run where wind has played a significant factor include the 2011 Boston Marathon (see race report), and this year's Ron Daws 25k (see race report).

At the 2011 Boston Marathon
In the case of the 2011 Boston Marathon, wind aided my performance. The calculation given by the Runworks calculator indicates my time was improved by a few minutes. However, the temperature at that race was warmer than ideal, and the elevation profile was quite a bit different from the training I'd done--mostly indoors on a treadmill with little downhill running due to near record snowfall in the twin cities.

A tailwind also reduces the cooling effect of wind--a headwind or crosswind can increase that cooling affect, while the cooling effect of a tailwind is nonexistent or negligible--again, the factor wind plays is difficult to nail down.

At this years Ron Daws 25k, wind significantly hindered my performance. Several times it felt like I was running in place due to a massive headwind. And, due to very cold temperatures, the cooling effect of the headwinds and crosswinds made no difference.

With the myriad of factors to consider for wind's effect on pace (not to mention the other factors like temperature and hills), how do you go about adjusting your pace? Here's some tips:

  • Wind calculations are more useful after a race. Use them to see what you may have run with different wind conditions.
  • During runs, don't be married to the pace on your GPS. Plan to slow down due to a strong headwind, and factor in the cooling effect of wind on a hot day.
  • Wind, along with all factors, can be summed up by the following: run by feel. This takes experience but:
    • Easy runs should feel easy--don't push it just to keep a specific pace.
    • When external factors are significant, be OK that your tempo runs and intervals will be slower (or faster given ideal conditions).

There are things you can do to mitigate wind's effect on pace. In a race or when running with training partners, run in a group and draft off each other. Be nice about it and offer to take a turn running into the wind (see my race report on the 2012 Securian Half Marathon).

On training runs, find routes sheltered by trees--in the twin cities there are several trails in county and regional parks, along with the Big River Regional Trail and the Gateway Trail.

These trails offer some protection on Windy Days. Search for parks and trails, ask other runners, or consult running store employees to find some routes that may offer some shelter from the wind.

Run well.




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