How to Fuel Your Training Runs

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By Kim Doerkson

Regardless of whether you’re training for a road or a trail race, if you’re racing for over an hour, it is worth looking into how to fuel your training runs.  It may seem counterintuitive to eat during a run, especially if one of your goals is weight loss.  When the time spent running increases, it’s beneficial to have some kind of fuel to keep energy levels up.  Think of it like driving a car: if the tank is full, there’s no risk or fear of the vehicle breaking down; on the other hand, if the gas level gets low, it could damage the engine and leave you stranded on the side of the road.  The same is true for running.

So what is the best thing to eat during a run to avoid hitting the wall / bonking?  Like anything, it’s personal, but there these are a few go-to’s for runners:

  • Gels. These are widely available at any running or outdoor sports store and are the most common sources of fuel during races.  Essentially just little packets of sugary goo, gels are an easily digestible sugar source that can also include electrolytes and / or caffeine depending on the type.  There is a large selection of flavours, and they’re conveniently pocket-sized, making them the most runner-friendly.
  • Chews / Chomps: Exactly like they sound, chews are the runner’s version of gummy candy.  Much like gels, they are made with sugar and can have electrolytes and / or caffeine to help boost your energy levels during a run.  Unlike gels, chews require a bit more work: they needed to be chewed (hence the name), and more of them need to be consumed to match the caloric intake of a gel.  Typically 4 chews are equivalent to 1 gel; this is great if you prefer to eat throughout the run, and not just in bursts like you would with gels.  Just make sure to try a number of types are some get stuck in your teeth more than others!
  • Candy: Sugar-highs in children after eating sugar is the result runners are looking for; but maybe not to the extreme of the sugar-crash and crying after.  Most people have a favourite candy, so it’s a good start to fueling during the run.  Bringing wine gums, or any gummy candy keeps blood sugars up if they start to falter, and taste good at the same time.  Their only downfall is that they’re straight-up sugar.  Chews and gels will have a mix of electrolytes in them too which helps to keep electrolyte balance in check when sweating out salts on a run.
  • Dried fruit: Simple and natural. Taking a ziplock bag of dried dates, figs, raisins etc. is a great option while out for a long run.  Natural fruit sugars are readily accepted by most stomachs as an easily digestible fuel source.
  • Energy balls: These are most common during big train runs as there is more opportunity for slower paces while trekking up hill, and typically take longer than a road run due to technical terrain and elevation changes. Easy to make at home, energy balls consist of a mixture of dried fruit, nut butters, chocolate, coconut, and various seeds.  All natural ingredients with good fats, sugars, and a little protein goes a long way when out for a long time!

For all of these options, practice goes a long way.  Don’t show up to race day and decide to take a gel or eat during the race if you haven’t practiced in training.  It takes time to get your body used to fuelling while running, so include it into your training plan.  Also be sure to research what in-race fuel is available and if it’s not what you’re used to, make sure to pack what your need before getting onto the start line.

The Importance of Running Communities

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By Kara Leinweber, Ultra Runner

We are road runners, trail runners, elite and amateur runners. Some of us are 5k runners and others are  100 mile finishers. Whether you run fast or slow or in-between, we are all runners; we all chase post run glow, runners high and celebrations with new friends at the finish line. We are part of incredible run communities and crave connection with like minded individuals.

I love crushing both road and trail miles and compete in several road and ultra trail events each season. I am also the Race Director for The Lewiston Ultra (; a new event to celebrate community, connection and adventure. I am wild about run community and want to create opportunity to connect to something bigger, experience the power of community, float on gorgeous trails and take in an incredible finish line celebration. When we allow ourselves to be supported and support others, we have incredibly clear moments to push further and reach a higher level of focus in run.

Training on road and trail can be daunting and the mental toughness, commitment and accountability can be isolating. While I do complete many training runs solo in the pain cave, many of my training miles will be shared with running partners and run clubs. This has given opportunities to connect with runners that share the same pace, training ideas, gather the latest & greatest on run gear and create forever friendships. When you’re spending hours on the road or trails with a run buddy, you’re bound to chat about anything and everything. When I race ultras and run alongside a new friend for hours, we start sharing things that I wouldn’t even share with my closest of friends. You fight through the challenges together and there is nothing sweeter than rising up to be part of each other’s race success. I swear it is better than therapy. For all these reasons, I included an option in The Lewiston Ultra for relay runners to complete as many legs as they fancy with their relay team or with a soloist. I want to encourage the incredible bonds that are formed over the miles.

Stop by your local run store to connect with local run clubs and find out about race events. I have joined more run clubs that I can count and most will post the distance, route and pace prior so you know what your running into.  There are several types of run clubs: recreational, trail, triathlon, marathon, ultra marathon, track, stroller, etc. Run clubs are welcoming, encouraging to new members and ready to share stories and the runventure journey. Get out there and find your run community.



How to go from rest to workouts

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Once the holiday season is over, and the nausea from any festive hangover has subsided, the drive to workout tends to come rushing back.  Whether it’s because of a New Year’s resolution, or the urge to get back into a routine, it’s important to return to workouts with realistic expectations.  But how do you go from laying on the couch, to intense workouts?

Today’s society has instilled a norm of instant gratification.  Unfortunately, with running and working out, it’s hard to see results immediately after a workout.  Building back into fitness requires time and patience, but that doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself early in a training block.  Here are a couple things to keep in mind when jumping back in to workouts.

Keep things in perspective

Taking a break, whether it’s over the holidays, or as a part of a training cycle, requires a check-in before getting back into the swing of things.  If the time off has been filled with lying on the couch watching Netflix with no amount of activity, the amount of fitness lost is going to be greater than if there’s been some kind of activity during the break.  Be realistic about the break you took, and don’t expect to jump back into training where you left off.  A few weeks off won’t decrease your fitness too much, but it will set you back a step of two.  Easing back into workouts, doing shorter long runs, and taking additional rest days will reduce the risk of injury when returning to a routine.

Walk before you run

If returning from an injury, make sure that it’s pain-free to walk for 30-45 minutes before attempting to run.  If the break was scheduled into a training cycle, or occurred because of the chaos the holiday season brings, ease into a run by walking for 5-10 minutes before setting off.  Walking helps to warmup muscles, tendons, ligaments, and get joints moving smoothly.  Incorporating a good warmup by walking or hopping onto a stationary bike for 5-10 minutes will make the run feel less creaky than if you just started right out the door.

Keep cross-training

Getting back into running doesn’t mean that cross-training has to stop.  Keeping different activities in a training regime until you get back into shape will help build an aerobic base and will stave off injury.  Strength training, helps to maintain muscular strength that carries over into running, especially when focusing on fundamental exercises.  Core work, glute strengthening, and plyometric exercises don’t require gym equipment and can easily be done in the comfort of your own home.  Create a routine that’s efficient and accessible so there’s a higher chance of adhering to the program.  Adding in various aerobic exercises will bring cardiovascular fitness back without requiring too much additional impact on the body.  Choose cycling, swimming, elliptical, or pool running as great options that can improve fitness and reduce the chance of injury.

Hit the trails

If it’s been a while since you’ve pounded the pavement, think about hitting the trails or a rubberized track for some of your runs.  The impact of the roads is far more than soft surfaces, and can take a toll on an unconditioned body.  Opting for the track allows for flexibility in distance.  If you get tired at 5km when you planned for 10km, stepping off the track to hop into your car or on the bus is far easier than having to walk 5km back home on a route that takes you away from your starting point.

Don’t be a hero

It’s hard to not to get caught up in the excitement of getting back into a workout routine, especially if it’s associated with an end goal.  However, the body can only handle a certain amount of training everyday, and may require additional rest days at the beginning.  Sore muscles are not uncommon when getting back into training, so make sure to take easy days easy, and don’t try to hammer in a workout every time.  Rest days, or easy days, give the body time to reap the benefits of the work that’s been done, and allows for positive adaptation.  Trying to do too much all at once can result in injury or burn-out,  either from getting worn out, or from compensating in workouts due to fatigued / sore muscles.  Taking rest days won’t set you back, if scheduled properly, they can enhance your training.

Consistency is key

Getting back into training doesn’t need to be rocket science.  At the end of the day, if you’re training consistently and putting in the work most days of the week, your fitness will return.  That doesn’t mean doing longs runs everyday, or doing anything out of the ordinary.  It can be as simple as doing 30 minutes of some kind of activity everyday, whether its running, yoga, strength work etc.

strength training

Benefits of strength training for runners

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We’ve all heard how strength training will give us an edge and enhance our running. However, when push comes to shove, strength work is the first thing out the window in a time crunch. Most runners will instead opt for an easy run, or workout, if they only have an hour or two to train. While workouts like intervals, hill repeats, and tempos are great for functional muscular strength, working on fundamental strength is advantageous for any runner looking for an edge.

What kind of strength training is the most effective? There are many components to a comprehensive strength routine including core strength, flexibility, general strength, and functional strength.

Core strength

When people see the word ‘core’, they automatically think of abs and six-packs. They’re right to some extent, but there’s more that makes up our core than just abdominal muscles. The core encompasses the muscles that act to stabilize and move our spine. Our core is essential for a variety of things: maintaining posture, especially when fatigued; reduces the stress placed on the lower body which prevents injury and tightness; and a strong core helps generate more speed and power over short distances. Utilize exercises that strengthen the core in a functional manner by doing planks, hip stability work, and dynamic movements, instead of traditional sit-ups.


As a runner, being as flexible as Gumby isn’t an advantage.  While there’s a lot of controversy on what the ideal level of flexibility is, the general consensus is that some, but not too much is great. Static stretching is somewhat frowned upon as it’s counter-productive.  Dynamic stretching and running drills on the other hand is applauded.  Drills accentuate general running form, so it works on flexibility in a functional way.

General Strength

Compound exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, step-ups, and upper body exercises are great as they’re multi-joint exercises. They work the movements we do on a daily basis, and make us stronger in everyday life.  Utilizing weights help to build muscle, and is great for base training in pre-season.  During racing season, runners don’t want a huge amount of muscle bulk. Any muscle atrophy that comes from increased mileage, and decreased strength training won’t be as detrimental when you start with a higher muscle bulk.

Functional strength

This encompasses both bodyweight exercises and plyometric exercises.  Running requires the athlete to move their body over a specific distance as fast as possible. As there are no external constituents, it’s just bodyweight that needs to be moved.  Using bodyweight exercises helps in recovery and maintaining strength during race season. Adding in ballistic movements that are required in plyometric training. These are incredibly helpful to runners as they aim to develop strength and speed by training the neuromuscular and elastic characteristics of our muscles. Therefore, they can generate more power through quicker muscle contractions.

Whatever kind of strength is added into a running program, it’ll be worthwhile.  These sessions don’t have to be long.  Even 30 minutes 1-2 times a week is enough to have benefits. So, next time you’re about to sit on the couch and have a Netflix binge, do some kind of workout for the first 30 minute episode, and your strength workout for the day will be done!

running while travelling

Running tips while travelling

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When away on vacation, going for a run may seem like too much effort.  Where is there to run? Who will run with me? What if I get lost? There are a lot of variables when running in an area that you’re not familiar with. However, if you do the research, and have the motivation to lace up your shoes while away, there’s no reason for missing runs while travelling.

Be prepared

If the thought of running while on vacation has flickered through your mind, make sure you pack the essentials. Depending on where you’re travelling to, pack the necessary gear to be able to run comfortably in the destination’s climate. Looking at the weather forecast will help you avoid over-packing. Grabbing a versatile pair of running shoes, and a couple outfits should be enough to get you through the holiday.

Scout out popular routes

Thankfully, like most things in the world, there’s an app for that. Many runners have some kind of GPS watch that will record their running route. If they upload this data into any app such as MapMyRun, Strava, Garmin Connect etc., it can be available to the public to view. In addition, some sites have heat maps that show the most popular areas to run. Stick to previously run routes, or ‘hot’ areas, so the likelihood of having other people around increases.

Sign up for a race

This is the easiest way to get a run in. Even if it’s not a goal race, you’ll get to see the city without worrying about traffic, and possibly get a good workout in!  Even looking up other race maps can give some ideas on where to run too. After the race, knowing some of the areas that you ran through can give some insight on other areas to check out on a subsequent run.

Connect with the locals

Most cities will have run groups either out of running stores, or with local clubs/crews. Check out their websites, or ask a local running store about your options and hop in with the group. It’s a great way to run with others, see the sights without worry, and learn some good routes.

Ask your hotel

Hotels are a wealth of knowledge. Typically staffed with locals, the concierges or receptionists will likely know of local parks or popular areas to run in even if they aren’t runners themselves. If all else fails, utilize the hotel’s fitness centre. Most hotel will have at least one treadmill to get in some extra miles, even if it’s not the most scenic of options.

Look on a map

If you’re in a city, either check out a guide book, or look online at a map of the area. Local parks, trails, stadiums, and schools will likely be listed and can give insight to what’s available. If you need to get a workout in, there’s usually a track that’s available for public use.  It may not be rubberized, but it’ll be 400m of undisturbed running.

The internet is going to be your friend while travelling. From running apps, to online maps, and city pages, everything you need to know will be on there.  If you don’t feel like researching, just lace up your shoes, write the hotel’s address on your hand, and get outside.  Someone will be able to help you if you get lost!

eastside course

Your Guide to the Under Armour Eastside 10k

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We know the feeling all too well, you signed up for your race ages ago and now it’s snuck up on you with less than one week to go. Here’s everything you need to know to get ready for race day:

UA Bandit banner ad
What to wear:

Make sure you’re prepared for whatever mother nature has in store for race day, whether it be hot, cold or raining. If you’re in need of new pair of running shoes, our sponsor Under Armour has shoes suitable for any type of running style and gear to keep you one step ahead of the elements. If it rains, make sure you layer up, wear quick drying gear, and wear a hat to keep the rain out of your face. In order to make sure Eastside 10K participants have the best gear possible, the top five fundraisers will receive head-to-toe Under Armour running gear and entry into the 2018 race.

Who to look out for:

On race pack pick-up day, Canadian marathon record holder and Olympian, Lanni Marchant will be on site taking pictures and signing autographs for her fans from 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m..

How to share:

Did you even really do the run if you don’t have a picture to prove it? Share your experience with fellow runners before, during, and after the run using the hashtag #UAEastside10K. Not only are we excited to see the run from your perspective, but we want you to show the world why the Under Armour Eastside 10K is the best run in Vancouver.

Who you are supporting:

The Under Armour Eastside 10K is a run in, for and with the Eastside of Vancouver. The run has partnered with three amazing charities, the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, and PHS Community Services Society.

We look forward to seeing you all on race day!

Top Contenders UA Eastside 10k

Top contenders for the 2017 Under Armour Eastside 10k

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From defending champions to Olympians, the contenders for this year’s Under Armour Eastside 10k will ensure it will be a great battle for the top spot on the podium.  Here are the top four women and men to watch out for:

Leslie SextonLeslie Sexton –

Returning to defend her 2016 Eastside 10k title, Leslie Sexton has been putting in the mileage this summer.  Upwards of 200km per week, her Strava account tells no lies about the work she’s been putting in.  Winning the Toronto Waterfront 10k this past June in 34:48, Sexton is gearing up for this fall’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon where she will try and break her personal best of 2:33:00.

Lanni MarchantLanni Marchant –

An Olympian in both the 10,000m and marathon at the Rio Olympics, and the Canadian record holder in the marathon, Under Armour athlete Lanni Marchant will be racing in her first UA Eastside 10k.  Battling health issues earlier this year, Marchant was unable to compete at the 2017 World Track and Field Championships in the marathon this summer, but has her eyes set on hitting a fast marathon in Berlin this fall.

Natasha WodakNatasha Wodak –

2016 Olympian, and the 10,000m Canadian record holder, Natasha Wodak will be contending for the top spot on the podium at this year’s Under Armour Eastside 10k.  After placing 16th at this summer’s World Track and Field Championships in the 10,000m, Wodak has shown she’s back to her top form after being forced to take a break this winter after having surgery on her foot.

Rachel CliffRachel Cliff –

After hitting the Olympic standard last year, Rachel Cliff has proved again and again that she can contend with the best in the world.  Improving her 10,000m time by 15 seconds to 32:07 which put her on her first World Track and Field Championship team this summer in London. Cliff went on to improve that time in London by 7 seconds, for a new personal best of 32:00.  She will be a force to be reckoned with at this year’s Under Armour Eastside 10k.

Geoff MartinsonGeoff Martinson –

Geoff Martinson is the defending champion of the 2015 #Uaeastside 10k.  Martinson has a history in specializing in shorter distances, with a semi final appearance in the 1500m at the 2011 World Track and Field Championships.  With many podium finishes at local road races, he was the former BC Champ in the 5k, the 10k will cater to Martinson’s speedy side.

Dylan WykesDylan Wykes –

One of Canada’s fastest marathoners, Dylan Wykes is a past champion of the #UAEastside10k.  Although Wykes is known best for his blazing marathon times, notably his 2:10:47 at the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon, and his 20th place at the London 2012 Olympic Games, don’t discount him on being able to knock of a speedy 10k.

Kevin CoffeyKevin Coffey –

A recent resident to Vancouver, Coffey made the move out west for better training opportunities and more temperate running weather.  His efforts haven’t been for naught.  Clocking personal bests in both the 5000m and 10,000m, Coffey’s consistent training has steadily lowered his times showing he will be a sure contender on the 2017 UA Eastside 10k start line.

Theo HuntTheo Hunt –

Working as a full-time teacher during the school year, Theo hasn’t let that deter him from training and achieving personal bests along the way.  In 2017, Hunt has bettered his personal bests in the 3000m and 5000m, and has produced competitive times on the local road running circuit too.  Having the speed work in his legs from focusing on track this summer, he’ll be looking to translate that onto the roads at this year’s UA Eastside 10k.

recovery properly after a race

How to recover properly after a race

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As soon as you step over the finish line, it’s important to think about recovering properly after a race.  It’s usually overlooked, but is a crucial component of one’s training program.  Accomplishing any race distance is certainly something that should be celebrated with post-race festivities, and a little rest and relaxation.  But what happens after that?  It’s easy to get through the pre-race taper, hit the ground running on race day, and bask in your success. But what’s the best way to get back into running?  How long does recovery take?  What’s the best way to recover?

Immediately after:

As soon as you cross the finish line don’t stop moving.  Keep walking towards your medal, post-race food, and to see any friends and family that have come to support you.  Working hard during a race causes your heart to pump blood and oxygen rapidly through your body, and will continue to do so even after you cross the line.  By walking around for a good 15-20 minutes afterwards will help to avoid any blood from pooling in your extremities if you were to stop abruptly.  Moving will help to flush out the metabolic waste that’s accumulated in your muscles from the race, and will aid in active recovery.  Continue to move for the rets of the day too – nothing crazy, but after you’ve had a nap opt to go for a short walk in the evening to keep your muscles from tightening up.

Within one to two hours

Get some fluids and food in you as soon as you can.  Burning through your energy stores, and sweating throughout a race can leave you depleted.  Races will have some post-race food that will be great to bridge the gap between the end of the race and your next meal.  Try to get a good amount of carbohydrates and protein to feed your exhausted muscles.  It’s important to rehydrate with 16-20 oz of water for every pound of body weight you’ve lost during the race.  Add in electrolytes, or grab a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating.  The amount you have to drink to rehydrate will depend on your sweat rate, the heat/humidity of the day, and how much you hydrated throughout the race.  Keeping an eye on the colour of your urine is a good indicator: light yellow/lemonade is the colour to strive for.  Try to avoid alcohol immediately after the race, or at least until you’ve had some water/electrolytes.  Having depleted your body’s stores, the effects of the alcohol are much greater post-race and can impede your recovery.

24 hours after:

Getting a good night’s sleep after a big race is key.  It can be difficult falling asleep after big efforts due to achy and restless legs.  Avoid taking anti-inflammatories – your body elicits an inflammatory response as part of it’s healing process.  The sore muscles may suck initially, but it’s all part of the process.  If you’re having a tough time sleeping, look into taking melatonin. It is a natural substance created in our pineal gland that helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.

The day after a race, if your muscles are still sore and achy, take an ice bath.  This will help speed up the recovery process by assisting the body in reducing the inflammation in the tissues.  Use the day after a race to debrief about the race, go for a walk, and just relax.  The down time after a race is just as important as the hard work before a race.

The week after the race:

Going back into training doesn’t need to be done right away.  A lot of people will take a few days off, and go for walks/light cross training to keep their body moving and loose.  The rule of thumb is in the first couple weeks after a race, follow the structure of the taper week, but in reverse.  It’s a great guideline for easing back into intensity without overdoing it.  Avoid too much intensity until about 10-14 days after the race to allow your muscles to fully recover before getting back into the swing of things.  Also, don’t forget the importance of rolling and stretching.  Many runners will book a massage or physio appointment for the week after a race to help flush their legs out.  Both these options help your recovery by increasing blood flow to your recovering muscles.

Keep in mind that these guidelines are just suggestions.  Everyone takes different times to heal and recover.  Listen to your body to figure out the best approach for your return to training.

The do’s and don’ts of training while injured

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Runner’s are notorious for training through injury.  No matter how much this may be revered, doing this can do more damage than good.  The “no pain, no gain” mentality is a mindset many athlete’s have, but is a detrimental one.  There are times that training through discomfort is okay, like dealing with delayed onset muscle soreness from a previous workout. However, when the discomfort is actually painful, it’s worth second guessing your decision to train.  Many injuries start with a little niggle that gets pushed aside and trained through.  By not giving it a chance to heal, that niggle can escalate into pain, and then into a full-blown injury.

This is where listening to your body, and seeking professional helps comes in.  Getting injured doesn’t mean you’re sidelined from everything as there are many other cross-training activities that can help to maintain fitness.  Learning to train around an injury will not only help you to recover faster, it’ll keep your mind at ease.

See a doctor or sport-related practitioner to diagnose the problem, and use your own common sense and grit to keep training sensibly.  These are some of the most common mistakes of training with an injury, and how to avoid it from happening to you:

MISTAKE: “No pain, no gain.”
FIX: Listen to your body.

Our bodies are incredibly resilient and are able to downplay a lot of things.  We have nerve endings in our body that sense pain called nociceptors.  Depending on the area of the body that’s affected, pain that may feel intense in one area, may feel minimal somewhere else.  However, when any kind of pain is felt, it usually hurts for a reason and is a good indication that something is wrong.  The “no pain, no gain” mentality is a recipe for disaster.  When people push through these signals and continue doing the activity that causes pain, it’s not surprising that damage occurs.
So instead of trying to act like a hero, take time off from the painful activity.  This will allow any damage to remain minimal and heal more efficiently.  If the pain is significant or doesn’t improve after a few days of rest, consult a doctor or physiotherapist to assess the injury and determine the root cause.

MISTAKE: Consulting Dr. Google.
FIX: Consult a human professional.

Having the world’s knowledge at our fingertips can be a dangerous resource when trying to diagnose an injury.  What may be the signs and symptoms of a minor muscle strain, could look like the tell-tale signs of some rare incurable disease.  Unless you personally have a background in human anatomy and sports injuries, it’s best to leave the diagnosing up to the professionals.

Seek out a doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, or RMT who has experience with athletes and will understand your desire to get back to training as soon as possible.  Not only will they help to identify the problem, they’ll give a reasonable timeline, and be more understanding in their return to health plan.  Incorporating cross-training alternatives and maintenance exercises to prevent the injury from happening again, sport-specific practitioners will have you back in the game in a timely fashion.

MISTAKE: Thinking absolute rest is the answer.
FIX: Cross-train.

It’s normal to think that resting an injury is going to help it heal faster.  The issue is when people rest completely, and cease any and all activity.  Unless you’ve been told by a practitioner to do nothing, there will be other activities that won’t cause any pain or do further damage. Exercise, in any shape or form, helps your body recover.  People’s cardiovascular health, metabolism and immune system are all influenced by exercise in a positive way.
So instead of becoming a couch potato when you’re injured, try different cross-training activities and use your extra time to do tedious physio exercises that will stave off any other injuries.  Modify workouts but adjusting the intensity, only working non-injured muscles, and avoid anything that causes pain.  You’ll be able to maintain fitness, gain overall strength, and keep sane during a time where you’re unable to run.

MISTAKE: Starting where you left off.
FIX: Ease back into it.

Being injured is bad enough, but it’s even harder when you’re allowed to run again but have restrictions on what you can do.  Trying to jump right back into training at the level you were at pre-injury, can set you back again.  While that fitness level might be the most fresh in your mind, it doesn’t mean your body is ready to do it.  Start back slowly and conservatively.  Avoid speedwork and hills for the first stage of recovery; don’t run on back-to-back days until you can run and have no pain before, during, or after; and increase your mileage by 10% per week.  Keeping these guidelines in mind will lessen the chance of reinjury.

Don’t give up! An injury is annoying and frustrating to deal with, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to run again.  Seek out help, be patient, and rekindle your love for other activities; it’ll make the recovery time go by much faster!

How Important is Sleep for Runners?

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Sleep is probably the most under appreciated tool in a runner’s toolbox as it helps to prevent injury and rebuild muscle.  But in a world where working into the wee hours of the night is considered a badge of honour, it could be negatively impacting your training.  Lack of sleep can affect us in many different ways and these are some of the most crucial effects to be aware of:

  • Brain function: anyone who hasn’t had enough sleep and has to go to work/school can attest to what a struggle it is to be productive.  The foggy-brained feeling can lead to a decrease in creativity, and increases the chance of giving up on a complex problem.
    Not only that, emotions and anxiety run high when we’re sleep deprived.  A lot of problem solving, decisions, and judgements are made while we sleep; if we don’t allow the natural processing of information, it can cause increased stress and lower cognitive functioning.
  • Tired eyes.  Nodding off during a boring lecture, meeting or while working on an assignment is a big indicator that you haven’t had enough sleep.  Having 6 hours or less of sleep triples your risk of being in a motor vehicle accident.
    When we nod off, it’s because we are actually having a “microsleep” where we actually fall asleep for a few seconds at a time.  This occurs especially during monotonous tasks like driving and can be incredibly dangerous.  Not only that, our hand-eye coordination is impaired, which is why a lot of note taking looks rather messy when you’re tired!
  • Altered diets.  When we lack sleep, our body tends to crave food as a of boosting our energy levels.  These cravings are usually for high-carb, calorically dense foods such as dessert, chips, pasta and bread.
    There are two important hormones that are released throughout the day that signal hunger and satiation: leptin signals to our body that we’re full; whereas ghrelin sends signals out that we’re hungry.  Leptin levels increase as the day progresses, and peak at nighttime.

    If you’re staying awake late at night, there is an increased ghrelin release to convince the body that it’s hungry, even when it doesn’t need more food.  This malfunctioning hormone signals put people at risk for weight gain if they’re continually sleep deprived.

  • Heart risks.  Chronic sleep deprivation can put increased stress on your heart and put you at risk of developing hypertension and increased blood pressure.  Sleep is when the most cell regeneration occurs, and as your blood vessels constantly regenerate, they are highly sensitive to any changes in that process.
    If the blood vessels aren’t properly repaired while resting, it can lead to stiffness in the arteries, and reduce your healing efficiency.  Neither of which are good things when you’re placing demands on your heart and vessels during hard interval sessions!
  • Impaired immune system.  Lack of sleep can boost the inflammation in your body.  Not only does that affect your chances of gaining weight, developing diabetes and increased heart risks, it can make you more vulnerable to getting sick.  Getting at least 7 hours of sleep can help ward off the seasonal cold.