Tips for Trail Running

tips for trail running I have to admit, as a relatively new runner, the idea of running trails made me a bit nervous.

Throughout my life – during the teen years, especially – I tended to twist/sprain my ankle easily. My mom always said I inherited “weak ankles” from my dad. (Is there even such a thing as “weak ankles”? ) Anyway, the potential for sprain or worse freaks me out on the trail. I always envision myself rolling my ankle on a rock or on uneven terrain.

But, say the experts, I’m worrying a bit more than necessary.  “Your body does an amazing job anticipating and making corrections,” said running coach Lauren Evans, owner of Fizio in Reno, NV.

Tina Vindum, founder of Outdoorfitness.com, agrees. “Your brain is recording,” she said. “Trust yourself.”

Kinesthetic Awareness

As a matter of fact, it’s a neurological process, and there’s a name for it. Proprioception. Simply put, it’s the body’s sense of self. Proprioception is guided by receptors  (skin, muscles, joints) that connect with the brain through the nervous system so that even without sight, you know what your body is doing.

Here’s a simple demonstration. Close your eyes, then try to touch the tip of your finger to the tip of your nose.  No problem, right?  That same kinesthetic awareness helps you in trail running.

Focus Forward, Not Downward

Both Evans and Vindum suggest keeping your focus 10 to 15 feet ahead of you.  “Don’t look down (at your feet) because…your head’s 8 to 10 pounds and that’s going to mess up your center of gravity,” Evans said. Vindum added, “You can’t run a trail with your neck craned down looking at your feet, you’re going to hurt yourself.

“Your brain records upcoming terrain,” Vindum continued. “It’s like driving down the freeway, you’re not staring at your hood ornament. Look up and see what’s coming.”

Running Downhill and Uphill

When running downhill, the natural tendency is to lean back and use your heels as brakes.. Evans and Vindum both warn against this, as your feet can easily slide from underneath you. They both suggest leaning forward when running downhill. “What I say is I want your nose over your knees, and your knees over your toes,” said Vindum. Keeping your hands in your peripheral helps you keep balance and also helps you slow down, said Evans.

When running uphill, you want to take “short steps, and keep your cadence up high,” said Evans. If it’s a very steep hill, though, it may be better to walk. “Step out, put your hands on your knees and give yourself a little boost. It really helps”.

Happily, these tips have given me a bit more confidence in trail running. I’m looking forward to exploring my “backyard” this summer.

What trails do you like to run? What tips can you share for running trails? Please share your comments.

 

How To Keep Running Healthy with Stretching and Core Workouts

 

So you’re getting out there and running/walking/ wogging a couple of times a week, are you? Good for you! Have you added stretching and core work to your exercise routine?

Hold up a minute, you exclaim. I’m running/walking/ wogging a couple of times a week, isn’t that enough?

Well, no.

One thing we runners are notorious for neglecting is our stretching. It’s easy to forget…and I’m not sure why…maybe we’re anxious to get out there to run; or ready to hit the shower when we finish. New runners as well as seasoned ones are guilty of forgetting to stretch. However, abnormal tightness in muscles and tendons can be the cause of various running injuries.

And core work? Well, your core what keeps your torso upright when you run. Strengthening your abs, back and chest also improves balance and helps your lower body work with your upper body.

“Flexibility and core strength are two of the biggest factors to keep any runner healthy and running strong,” Coach Lauren Evans explains*. Coach Lauren encourages her athletes to implement stretching and core exercises into their training one to three times weekly.

Here are some stretches from Coach Lauren for both before and after your run.

Before the run

Stretching is best when muscle fibers are warm. Stretching cold muscle can result in small tears of muscle fibers and fascia, which can lead to pain and stiffness.

The best stretching for cold muscles is dynamic stretching. An example of dynamic stretching, says Coach Lauren, is the Leg Swing.

Leg Swing

Flexion/Extension
Stand next to a wall, with your weight on your left leg and your right hand on the wall for balance. Swing your right leg forward as high up as you can, and then backward as far as you can. Swing 10 repetitions on each leg.

Cross Body Flexion/Abduction
Facing the wall, lean slightly forward with both hands on the wall and your weight on your left leg. Swing your right leg to the left in front of your body, pointing your toes upward as your foot reaches its farthest point of motion. Then swing your leg back to the right as far as comfortable, again pointing your toes up as your foot reaches its final point of movement. Swing 10 repetitions on each leg.

During or after the run

Static stretches after your run help your muscles to heal and restore them to resting length. Within the first 15 minutes or so after your run is best.

Deep lunge

This deep lunge is actually more of a range of motion stretch, and not a strength activity. Stand tall with both feet together (starting position). Keeping your back straight, lunge forward with the right foot approximately 1 to 1 1/2 yards. Your right thigh should be parallel with the ground, and your right lower leg vertical to the ground. Hold this position. Raise your left arm toward the sky, and perform a sideways lean toward your right leg, keeping your body upright. Hold this position. Do this for 5-10 repetitions, then repeat with your left leg.

Hamstring Stretch:

Lie on your back with your right foot extended in the air. Loop a towel or rope around the bottom of your foot and hold both ends. Pull gently and hold for 30 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat three times, then switch legs.

Traditional Calf Stretch:

Stand facing the wall. With one leg straight behind you and the front leg bent, push slightly against the wall and hold for 15 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat three times, then switch legs.

Lauren’s “Continuous Core”

Even more than stretching, one of a runner’s least favorite things to do is core exercise. But again, core strength is essential for running healthy.

Continuous Core is performing a core workout for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then going right into the next core exercise with no rest in between.

“Your core is constantly activated when you are running, without rest,” Coach Lauren points out, “so why would you get to rest during a core-specific workout?”

Start with a goal of 2 minutes of continuous core, then progress to 3, minute by minute all the way to a maximum of 12 minutes. “I like to keep a target of 6 to 8 minutes of continuous core three times per week with my athletes,” Coach Lauren added.

Here are some examples of core exercises that you can use in a “continuous core” workout:

  • Crunch
  • Crunch with legs straight up, reaching for toes
  • Bicycle
  • Reverse crunch
  • Side crunch
  • Front Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Supine Plank (tummy toward the sky)
  • Hold push-up position
  • Donkey kicks
  • Fire hydrants

Regular stretching and core work will help keep you running healthy and strong! If you are interested in a personalized plan or have any questions, please contact Coach Lauren. Her email is: lauren@fizioreno.com .

*Lauren Evans has been working in the fitness industry since 2009. She has coached 100+ athletes of all ability levels and helped them achieve their goals. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a personal trainer and is currently obtaining her Level 3 certification with USA Track & Field, preparing her to coach national/Olympic level athletes. Lauren and her husband, Ryan, are the owners of Fizio, a locally owned fitness center and athlete recovery lounge located at 400 Mill Street, Reno, NV. For more information about Fizio, please visit FizioReno.com or stop by for a free trial day.

How To Keep Running Healthy with Stretching and Core Workouts

How To Choose The Right Running Shoes

How To Choose The Right Running ShoesThe first and most important investment for a new runner should be a pair of proper running shoes. “Proper” does not necessarily mean the latest and top of the line; on the other hand, you probably should avoid the bargain basement brands. And while there are some truly beautiful running shoes out there, neither is this a fashion statement. Choosing the right shoe is important in preventing injuries, which can include anything from blistering and cramping to sprains and shin splints.

“Almost all shoes are good for something,” says Matt Balzer, owner of Reno Running Company, “but it is impossible to say any one particular shoe is good for a (specific) group of people”, whether beginners or seasoned runners.

So how do you know which are the best shoes for you?

Wet Test

You can get part of the story from a test you can perform at home, called the “wet test”. You simply wet the sole of your foot, then step onto a paper shopping bag or other piece of blank, heavy paper, and stand on that leg for a few seconds. Then step back and look down. The shape of the footprint tells a bit about your foot type. If you see around half of your arch region, you have a normal or medium arch. If you see just the ball and heel of your foot, you have a high arch. And if you see almost your entire foot, you have a flat or low arch. This self-diagnostic does give you an idea of the type of shoe you need, but it’s only one clue in the quest for the running shoes meant for you.

Gait AnalysisGait Analysis on Treadmill

The best thing to do is to have a gait analysis. You can can make an appointment with a physician who specializes in sports podiatry. Or, check with your local running specialty store to see if they can perform the evaluation on site. At Reno Running Company, for example, there are two treadmills with high-speed cameras aimed at the feet. The cameras are used to “analyze an individual’s foot strike pattern, along with ankle and foot mobility,” Balzer explained. “We look for the rate of pronation (the natural movement of the foot that occurs during foot landing) to help us fit each customer in the correct category of shoe for their individual needs.”

Following the gait analysis, Balzer and his associates spend time with the customer to find out what type of activity they will be using the shoes for: indoor or outdoor, trail or road, walking or running, etc. Based upon all of this information, they can help the customer choose from several options.

Most major shoe brands carry styles in three basic types:

  • motion control, for runners with low arches
  • stability, for those with normal or medium arched feet
  • cushioned, for those with high arches

It’s a good idea when you try on the shoes to walk – better yet, run – around the store to see how they feel.

The Investment

The cost of a pair of running shoes can be eye-opening. “Running shoes are an expensive investment,” says running coach and trainer Lauren Evans, “but it is well worth it.”
All of the major shoe brands have models that start around $50 and can go up to $150 or more. “The $50 shoe could meet someone’s needs just as well as a $150 shoe,”, said Balzer, but the less expensive shoes can wear out faster and you may be replacing them more often. The general consensus is that most running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles, so depending on how much you plan to run, that can mean at least a couple of pairs a year.

And, again, there are some beautiful running shoes out there…so even though a fashion statement isn’t the top priority, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility!

There are many styles of running shoes to choose from

Beginner 5K – 7-Week Training Plan

Congratulations on taking your first step to running a 5k! You can do it!  To get you started, here is a 7-week training plan written by Coach Lauren Evans.* +

BEGINNER 5k TRAINING PLAN LAUREN EVANS

The goals of this training plan are to:

  • get you fitter
  • reduce your chance of injury
  • keep it fun!

The main elements of this training plan are:

  • walking (W),
  • jogging (J), and
  • cross-training (XC), including activities such as bicycling, swimming, yoga or strength training, just to name a few.

W = Fast Walk (3.5 + MPH)
J = Jog.

With this plan, do not worry about your pace, just get used to jogging faster than walking pace.  Although it may look complicated at first, you will catch onto the variations in pace. You may also be happy to note that you are not expected to run right away.
*Lauren Evans has been working in the fitness industry since 2009. She has coached 100+ athletes of all ability levels and helped them achieve their goals. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a personal trainer and is currently obtaining her Level 3 certification with USA Track & Field, preparing her to coach national/Olympic level athletes.

Lauren and her husband, Ryan, are the owners of Fizio, a locally owned fitness center and athlete recovery lounge located at 400 Mill Street, Reno, NV. For more information about Fizio, please visit FizioReno.com or stop by for a free trial day. If you are interested in a personalized plan or have any questions, please contact Lauren. Her email is: lauren@fizioreno.com
+Please consult with your physician prior to beginning any training plan.

Safety Tips for Running

Fizio Reno recently hosted a clinic for runners concerning safety on the roads and on the trails.

Sparks Police officer Eric Marconato and Fizio owner Ryan Evans demonstrate self-defense tactics for runners

In 10 years as a Sparks police officer, Eric Marconato has served on SWAT, worked undercover, and also serves on the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force. While he acknowledged the information he shared with us was common sense and not “all that groundbreaking”, his experience provided valuable insight for Reno/Sparks runners.

Staying safe

Run in numbers. “Numbers totally change the picture”, Marconato said. Most attackers are looking for an “easy pick”, and are less likely to pick you if you are with a group. One member of the audience relayed an incident where a group of friends was running along the river, and one of the woman was running several feet ahead of the group. An attacker attempted to go after the woman, but was scared off as the rest of the group approached.

Run during daylight hours. “It’s definitely safer… you can see more of what is going on around you, and there are more people out during daylight hours.” However, if you must run after dark, don’t skimp on lights and reflective gear. Run against traffic, and stay out of the street.

Stick to the planned route and avoid secluded areas. Alleys are probably not the best places to run.

Know your route and know your neighborhood. Marconato cited a popular Reno running path with tall willows on each side of it, an area familiar to most of the runners in the audience. To our surprise, he then described a community of men who frequent the area beyond the willows and solicit sexual favors. Marconato assured us that they likely are not violent predators, but they are out there. The anecdote illustrates that runners should always remain on alert.

Be vigilant. Run without earbuds, or with just one, so you can hear what’s going on around you. “If you hear a rustle in the bushes, don’t ignore it. Look back at it. It might be a raccoon, it might be the wind, or it might be somebody after you, and if you have that little of a jump on them, it’s going to help you.”

Look up. “Some people run with their head down, not looking where they’re going.” Scan the horizon, just as we were taught when we were learning to drive; ”don’t just look at the car in front of you, look ahead so you see a bigger picture. That will give you a reaction time.”

How about weapons?

Weapons are an option, Marconato said, but they can be cumbersome, and they require a level of responsibility and a commitment to use. There is always the chance a weapon will be taken away from you by an assailant in which case, Marconato said, you are not necessarily worse off than you would have been.

If you are attacked:

Scream loud, and “be obnoxious about it. You want to make a big deal so you get attention.” Marconato suggested yelling “help” or “stop” and repeating it loudly to ensure you will draw attention to yourself.

Defend yourself. As Marconato memorably stated, “go for eyeballs and balls”. Cause damage:  pull hair, scratch, claw, and leave marks. Remember: if they assault you, they probably have assaulted or will assault others. Scratching leaves noticeable marks, and also leaves DNA under your fingernails.

Report it. Don’t be embarrassed. Get the facts out there. Remember it’s not just you. Don’t wash or change clothes, as that would wash away any evidence. “Call the police, then go straight to them.”

Self Defense

In addition to his law enforcement experience, Marconato teaches defensive tactics and hands-on combat, and demonstrated some basic tactics to the group of runners. He is an instructor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and recommends the martial art for those who seek instruction in self-defense.

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Have you had any uncomfortable encounters while running? Please share your experience.

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