How to Set Your New Year’s Running Resolution (and stick to it!)

It’s easy to say “I’m going to run more in 2017”… but sticking to New Year’s resolutions is a lot harder than just saying them out loud.  Whether you’re looking to run your first half marathon, your first 5K, or just hit the treadmill at the gym more often, we’ve got some great tips to give your stick-to-it-iveness a kick in the rump, runners’ style!

Bribery Will Get You Everywhere

And don’t be stingy. Two bribes are better than one!

We suggest a pre-resolution shopping trip—snag some good gear to go running in. Stuff that makes you feel stylish, speedy, and psyched up: a good pair of shoes, some quality running socks, a supportive sports bra, and a great running outfit.  When you look good, you feel good—plus you’ll have looking sleek to look forward to when you hit the track. One rule: no lounging in your exercise gear!

But you want a goal to work toward as well.  Is there a blu-ray box set you just haven’t been able to justify buying yourself? A spa trip? Set mini-goals, and as you achieve them, put some in your Treat Yo’self Fund.

Put Your Reputation on the Line

Okay, maybe that’s putting it a little dramatically, but committing to a charity run or a race is a great way to make your resolution a little more resolute. It’ll also give your training a bit more focus, which can help motivate you.  If you’ve got friends and colleagues sponsoring you for a February Sweetheart run for breast cancer, you’ll have even more of a reason to get out there and get moving!

Two’s Company

Letting ourselves down is easy—that’s why resolutions are so hard to keep. But knowing your buddy is sweating away on the treadmill at the gym by herself because you decided to sleep in is a little harder on the psyche, in a good way. Plus, having an exercise partner is just straight up good for you (and them!).  Misery loves company (and so does triumph!).  Pick a partner you’ll love to commiserate with, and one you’ll love celebrating with, too.

Take a Secret Selfie

You might be feeling down on yourself after the holiday binge-stravaganza that the season’s social scene foists upon us, but trust us on this one. Having a before picture is a great motivator, because it’s tough sometimes to see progress day to day—it’s just so gradual! But when you’ve been jogging off the pounds and tightening up those glutes for a few weeks, you’ll treasure the ability to make the comparison.

Put Some Sizzle in Your Social Media

Otherwise known as fake it till you make it: Be enthusiastic about your resolution. Whether you’re sharing progress and workouts through an app that posts to Facebook, or Snapchatting your post-running smoothie with a sweaty smile, be loud and proud about your resolution! When you accept being a runner as part of your identity, you’ll realize it’s something you’re doing, not just something you’re “trying out.”

 

Love a Runner? Here are 5 thoughtful ways to show the runner in your life you care

Not many exercises call to mind the pure simplicity of fitness better than a run. It’s a fantastic way to get your exercise, with a laundry list of benefits for both your body and your mood. Good for everything from joint stiffness to depression, with the obvious inclusion of fitness, it’s like the universal remote control of feeling good about yourself.

It’s trendy but, with the freedom to do it wherever you want, without the need for specific outfits or equipment, also extremely accessible. Seriously – it never goes out of style. If you aren’t already doing it, chances are you know someone who is.

Maybe it’s the special someone in your life. Maybe they really love it. And maybe you’ve been looking for that special way to tell them you care.

Hey; don’t even worry about it – we’ve got you covered:

HERE’S WHY YOUR ARM SWING MATTERS

In the context of running, much of our attention is put on the lower half of our bodies with respect to what we’re doing with our feet, legs, and hips. But, there are actually some important things happening on our upper bodies that — with a little attention and help — could improve our running economy and enhance performance. In our last post, we discussed running and posture; here, we’ll talk about the importance of arm swings and how it affects our balance and stability. (hint: it actually still has a lot to do with your posture).

Five Tips For Staying in Shape This Winter

Five Tips For Staying in Shape This Winter

Your training season is over. You ran your last race a month ago, and winter is here. We all know the temptations of the Christmas season: food, parties, and alcohol. On top of that, you have snow. It is so much easier to look out at the cold and pull your blanket up over your head. Here are five tips to help you avoid the slump & stay in shape this winter:

It’s Not The Off Season

If you want to improve as an endurance athlete, you need to stop calling it the “off season.” In off season, we sit on the couch a lot. We binge-watch whatever we can find on Netflix while eating mounds of chocolate.

Instead, divide the winter into post-season and pre-season. Post-season is all about recovery, especially if you raced long distances like a marathon or Ironman. Recovery doesn’t mean sitting on the couch, though. Keep running, but run fewer miles and a little less frequently. To maintain your fitness, most coaches recommend doing a minimum of three runs per week. In pre-season, you work on base training. You slowly increase your mileage so you are ready to go when training season comes again.

Do Form Drills

It’s always a good idea to improve your running form, but Winter is an ideal time to fully evaluate your form, to make major improvements, and to start doing those form drills you know you should be doing. The better your running form is, the faster you will go with less effort. Incorporating running form drills will help you get faster in race season without interfering with your races.

Add Strength Training

We all know we should be doing strength training. It’s on every training plan you read on the internet. Remember when you started lifting two weeks before your big race? Your muscles hurt so much that your time suffered. Winter is the perfect time to add in some strength training with enough room to let your muscles get used to it before training season.

You can also use strength training to address any imbalances in your body. If your left leg isn’t as strong as your right, you can work on balancing things out without worrying about it affecting your racing form. Try out these strength evaluations to see what you need to work on. Stronger runners get fewer injuries.

Try Cross Training

During the training season, we spend so much time running that we can’t do other things. Instead of going to your gym to do the same old workout, try signing up for a class that piques your interest. Play some basketball or squash with your friends. Try out yoga or spin. It will help your training, too. Our bodies get used to the same old workouts, so new motions and activities will shock them into better fitness gains. Plus, you might find something you really love.

Just Keep Running

A lot of people stop running completely once the temperature gets below 40 degrees. It might seem obvious, but running through the winter is a great way to stay in shape, and you miss out on some of the best running of the year. Many runners prefer winter running to summer running. You can always add more clothes, but there’s a limit to how much you can take off. When you learn how to dress for the weather, you can stay comfortable no matter the temperature. Plus, there is nothing like a crisp day after a snowfall with a running path all to yourself.

It can be hard to motivate yourself to stay in shape over the winter, but the winter season is an important part of an athlete’s preparation for next year. Take advantage of these tips, and you may not only stay in shape all winter long, you might get performance improvements next year.

How to use Running for Stress Relief this Holiday Season

It’s no secret that the holiday season often brings on a downward spiral of stress and fatigue.  You might notice that you feel exhausted or frazzled as you pass by hundreds of Christmas cards and plastic-wrapped gift sets at the mall, or maybe you find yourself a little more easily angered now that the season of pumpkin spice lattes and beautiful fall colors have passed their prime.  To make matters worse, it’s getting harder and harder to fit in your daily run or workout amidst all the hustle and bustle as the new year approaches.  Regardless of how stress rears its ugly head in your own life, this holiday season is a great time to get back on track with your running program.  It’s not just for weight loss and heart health: running has been shown to be a potent stress-buster and mood-lifter and might be just what you need to keep a level head over the winter and beyond.   Here are a few ways to use running as therapy to decrease stress and keep your mental health in check during the tense holiday season.

Little By Little

You’re probably familiar with “runner’s high”, a term used to describe a euphoric feeling that exercisers often experience during periods of moderate- to high-intensity exercise.  While there are several theories as to which neurotransmitters are actually responsible for creating a “runner’s high”, there’s no question that you’ll feel more powerful, optimistic, and full of energy on the days you choose to go for a run.  Stress can wreak havoc on your energy levels and cognitive function, but research has shown that hitting the pavement for as little as ten minutes can kick stress and moodiness to the curb and boost your energy levels for the rest of the day (Hansen, Stevens, & Coast, 2001).  Even if you think you’d rather stay inside wrapped in a blanket than lace up your sneakers for a quick three-miler, remember how you good always feel once your cool-down starts and it’s time to head home: it’s always worth it.    

Find A Rhythm

Creating a new positive habit or reinforcing an old one can work wonders on your mental health by helping you mark each day as a success.  Making a point of sticking to regularly scheduled runs during your week, even if they’re short, will help you feel a sense of accomplishment as you go to bed each night.  That sense of accomplishment will encourage and motivate you each day and soon you’ll have a healthy habit to keep you on the move and feeling optimistic even through stressful moments this holiday season.  Plus, it’s a few minutes that you can take for yourself, with no phone calls and no emails, during a time usually crammed full of caring for family, friends, and co-workers. Write your scheduled runs in your daybook or calendar so you have a solid reminder to take care of yourself and your needs, and let friends and family know how important it is that you stick to your plan.

Have A Sense Of Purpose

Setting and achieving goals can be therapeutic too.  A good goal doesn’t have to be lofty; its purpose here is to give you a focal point when the season around you seems blurry and unfocused.  Is there an area of town you haven’t explored yet?  Your goal could be to do at least one new running route each week.  Are you skimping out on speed work?  Make a point of scheduling fartlek sessions into your plan.  As you pass these small milestones you’ve made for yourself, your sense of success and accomplishment will soar.    

Sprint To The Finish

If you’re finding it hard to fit your runs into your busy holiday schedule, sprint training might be an option for you.   Adding some high-intensity sprints to your running program allows you to shorten your running time, plus get an added boost in cardiovascular and muscular endurance.  In addition, sprint training has been linked to an increase in memory and cognitive function (Praag, 2008), two qualities that tend to fall by the wayside while juggling the holiday season’s demands.  When you feel pressed for time, try implementing a session of interval, or fartlek, training: periods of light jogging interspersed with short, all-out sprints.  A typical session might consist of two minutes of light jogging with thirty seconds of sprinting and repeating five to ten times.  What used to be a light hour-long run can be easily shortened to 15 or 20 minutes while still keeping your heart and lungs fit and strong and your head clear and focused.  Even adding just one sprint session a week will make you feel like you have more time to accomplish your holiday chores.

Get Some Fresh Air

As the new year approaches, the days get shorter and shorter until it seems like the sun has completely disappeared!  You might find yourself getting a little bummed out from all the darkness, and there’s a reason: no exposure to sunshine means you produce a lot less vitamin D,  a micronutrient that’s been connected to seasonal affective disorder and winter moodiness (Kerr, et al., 2015).  Getting a run in during a sunrise or sunset can boost your vitamin D production and fend off those seasonal mental funks you might find yourself in.  If you’re cooped up in your home or office building all day, getting a blast of fresh air, even if it’s cold, can help you recharge and stay productive through your work day.  If you can fit a run in over your lunch break when the sun is at its highest, you’ll find yourself ready to take on the rest of the day with a whole new outlook.  You might even be able to convince a few co-workers to go for a dash with you for a casual, stress-free social event.

Get A Running Buddy

Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker if they’d like to do a few runs with you.  Our interactions with others during the holiday season tend to be task-oriented and attached to demands or requests.  Getting a running buddy gives you a chance to have some social interaction in a casual, friendly setting while still fitting your run into your day.  Talking together about the things you are looking forward to over the holidays this year can revive your positive mindset, plus the added company gives you some accountability to keep your running habit in high gear when things get stressful.  You might even be able to find a local running club to run with a larger group for the same benefits.

Even though the holidays bring stress and frustration on each year, it’s easy to use your running habit to your advantage as a way to lower your stress levels and elevate your mental health.  Implementing just one of these tips can make drastic changes in your productivity and will add a sense of accomplishment and relief to boost you forward into another successful training season.


References
Hansen, Cheryl J., Larry C. Stevens, and J. Richard Coast. “Exercise Duration and Mood State: How Much Is Enough to Feel Better?” Health Psychology 20.4 (2001): 267-75. Web.
Kerr, David C.r., David T. Zava, Walter T. Piper, Sarina R. Saturn, Balz Frei, and Adrian F. Gombart. “Associations between Vitamin D Levels and Depressive Symptoms in Healthy Young Adult Women.” Psychiatry Research 227.1 (2015): 46-51. Web.

van Praag, H. Neuromol Med (2008) 10: 128. doi:10.1007/s12017-008-8028-z

Lumo Run Success Story: How Lumo Run has helped this user shave 30 seconds off his mile time

Guest post by Lumo Run user Jose S.

I love my new Lumo Run. It is completely unnoticeable attached to the back of my shorts. I wondered about the clip, but I forget it is there – usually until well after the run is over and I’m taking the shorts off. I’ve had zero problems with the app or syncing with my iPhone. The appearance of the app is sharp and easy to navigate. The videos and text on what the data are measuring are clear and easy to understand.

Most important though is the data it provides. I love numbers and collecting data on my runs, so I’ve purchased lots of gadgets searching for that extra bit of data that will help me improve my running. GPS, heart rate monitors, power meters, cadence, etc. With everything else, it was always initially interesting to get the data, but then what do you do with it? How do you use it to get better? This is where the Lumo Run is the best! It coaches you on which measurement needs the most work, and gives you specific drills to improve on that. The drills are short, simple, and the videos in the app make them easy to learn, but the best part is that they actually work! The first measurement it had me work on based upon my own running form was cadence. Using the drills and the voice over coaching I’m definitely getting closer to my goal, sometimes even exceeding it.

Best of all is that it’s not just the measurement that is improving. I really do think my form is improving. It still feels a little uncomfortable to get my cadence up to 180, but as I continue to do so I am seeing various improvements in my running. First off, my pace has increased. On a normal steady-state runs I’ve seen 20-30 second per mile improvement. On speed workouts it has been a little less, but still a definite improvement. In addition, this improvement has come without having to increase my heart rate. Second, I notice that my legs (upper hamstrings) and lower back are no longer sore after my runs. I am guessing that is a result of there being less pounding on the ground as my form improves. Another interesting benefit is that during my runs I seem to notice my fatigue less. I think some of that is psychological as I am not focusing on how I feel at the moment, but rather on getting that fast turnover in my training. I find I really have to concentrate on cadence to increase it, and that takes my mind off of feeling tired. In addition, instead of telling myself to “run faster” which of course you then hear yourself say “I’m going as fast as I can already!” I’m telling myself to speed up my cadence/leg turnover – this seems to be much more easily accepted by my brain at least.

I’ve only been using it for a month, so to see this much improvement already really has me excited. I hope the gains continue, and maybe even less injury as I continue to work on the other aspects of my form.

How to fall in love with running

Guest post from Harry Wilson, the author of GoodHealthPlanning

Running is the easiest and cheapest way to get fit fast and it’s unbelievably therapeutic too! But what if running just isn’t your thing? Growing up I was always much happier playing in a field with a ball or on a court with a racket than going on a run. Until I signed up for my first marathon in 2013, and after that I kept on running. It just clicked and now I can’t stop! Here are my tips on how you too can fall in love with running:

  1. Don’t time yourself or worry about pacing. It’s all well and good if you are a professional runner or training for a specific race, but if you’re spending your run thinking about how far you have still to go or how fast (or slow) you’re going, you won’t be able to enjoy it.
  1. Go somewhere new. 18 months ago I moved to South London to an area I barely knew. The way I got to find all the great places around was by running. Just put your trainers on and go and see where you end up. It’s a great way to explore if you’re on holiday or bored of your usual lap of the park.
  1. Music or silence. It’s one or the other for me. Either you want to be romping along to your favourite tunes (I recommend a classic 90’s girl-power playlist), or in silence, taking in what’s around you. A random shuffle of your iPod won’t do it, you’ll get distracted skipping through all those songs that you’ve heard 1000 times already.
  1. Run in the rain. Trust me on this one. When it’s wet and miserable and you’ve had a disastrous day at work the last thing you want to do is go out into the cold. But instead of stuffing your face and wallowing, force yourself to go out, even if just for 20 minutes! Letting go of all your stress and anxiety and getting soaked with rain and sweat is the best therapy. This is tried and tested, believe me.
  1. Run with other people. As with any experience, it’s all the more fun to share it with other people. Local running clubs, meet-ups or friends. Feed off that group energy and just see how much easier it becomes.

And, finally…

  1. Start calling yourself a runner. Being a ‘runner’ isn’t like calling yourself a Doctor, it’s just a mindset. I run an OK 5k, a sloppy 10k, an average half marathon and I barely made it through my first marathon on two legs! I’m no Paula Radcliffe but I call myself a runner because I love to run. Follow these steps and you might too!

 

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