Archive for the tag - running

Is Running Backwards Good for You?

The London Backwards Running Championships

I’m a big fan of movement – regardless of the form that it takes. Your body craves movement, and it’s an essential element in a healthy, productive and balanced lifestyle.

So what’s the deal on backwards running? At some point or another, you’ve probably tried it. It’s just like running forward – only in reverse. And though it’s not quite as popular as barefoot running, it’s gaining many new converts.

Why?

For one, backwards running requires more energy. And more energy means more calories burned. Researchers at the United of Milan in Italy concluded that backwards running is less efficient, and thus requires 30% more energy than running forward at a given speed. If you’re looking to lose weight, that’s a huge benefit.

Beyond burning more calories, running backwards requires a stride that results in less impact. A recent study found that backwards running is an especially attractive option for individuals with bad knees.

Because it’s not our natural stride, it’s also believed that backwards running can help improve balance. In fact, according to an article in The New York Times, it’s often used as a therapy for Parkinson’s patients.

At the very least, it’s a great way to mix up your workout or to try something different. I’d recommend starting with just a few minutes of backwards running so that you can learn the movement over time. And since you can’t really see where you’re going, be cautious. It’s safest to walk or run backwards on a track wherein you’re able to use the painted lane lines to guide you.

The bottom line: If you’re looking to burn some extra calories, have knee issues, want to improve your balance or are just in the mood to do something new, backwards running may help you put your best foot forward backward. Either way, it’s better than sitting on the couch.

Is It Okay to Run with Sore Legs?

Dear Davey,

I’ve started a new lower body workout, and it leaves me sore for a few days thereafter. I know you’re not suppose to strength train muscles that are still sore, but is it okay to run with sore legs?

From,
Matthew

Well, there are a few points that need to be made here.

First, there are two types of soreness. There’s delayed onset muscle soreness (called DOMS) which occurs 12-48 hours after you complete your workout. It’s normal to experience DOMS – especially when you start a new workout regimen.

The other, less-desirable type of soreness occurs immediately and is often asymmetrical (i.e., it occurs only in one leg or one hamstring), and it’s most-often injury related. If your soreness is injury related, then you need to avoid using the injured muscle until you’ve recovered.

If you’re experiencing a low-level of DOMS in your legs, it may be okay to do some cardiovascular training. Ensure that you do a warm-up and proper stretch before engaging in your cardio. If the soreness or discomfort increases during your cardio, then you should stop immediately – as the increased pain may be indicative of an injury.

Keep in mind that DOMS typically fades within a month or two of a new routine, so you probably won’t be dealing with issue long-term. As you become more accustomed to your routine, the soreness will dissipate in subsequent workouts. And remember: Soreness isn’t required for muscle growth.

The bottom line: If you’re experiencing a slight amount of DOMS, then it’s okay to engage in cardio so long as it doesn’t exacerbate the soreness. If your soreness is injury related, avoid cardio until you’ve healed.

How to Build Stamina for Running: 7 Tips.

Hi Davey,

Whenever I go for a run or walk, I get winded and lose my breath within 30 seconds. I don’t have asthma, I’m in good shape and I eat well. Any advice?

Thanks,
Matt

Hey Matt,

Running is one of my favorite activities – and few things are as exhilarating as the resulting endorphin release and runner’s high.

But, as avid runners know, the stamina and endurance required to power through a run isn’t something with which we’re born. Endurance must be built over the course of time – and it can be a very gradual process.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Set a goal. It’s always helpful to set some sort of goal for yourself. It helps establish accountability and it gives you a way to measure your progress. Perhaps your goal is to run 1 mile by the end of the year without stopping.
  2. Pace yourself. When running longer distances, it’s important to pace yourself. You don’t want to start your run in a full sprint. Instead, start at a moderate but sustainable pace. Otherwise, you’ll burn out too quickly.
  3. Breathe. As it turns out, breathing is extremely important. As breathing keeps your blood oxygenated, I recommend inhaling for 2 or 3 counts – and then exhaling for 2 or 3 counts. Eventually, you can establish a breathing rhythm that will help get you into “the zone.”
  4. Don’t give up. If you’re winded after 30 seconds, don’t give up altogether. Walk for a few moments, catch your breath, and then run again. Continue until you finish your mile – or whatever goal you’ve set for yourself.
  5. Gradually, run more and walk less. Over time, you’ll notice that you’re not winded as quickly. Instead of running for 30 seconds, you may be able to run for 40 seconds. And then 50 seconds. Build on these gains to increase the amount of time you spend running versus walking.
  6. Try intervals. Intervals are a great way to mix things up and make speed gains. When performing intervals, you’ll alternative between sprinting for a set amount of time and jogging for a set amount of time. When I do intervals, for example, I jog for 60 seconds and then sprint for 60 seconds – and I do this for 15 minutes. In addition to incinerating body fat, this will make the perceived exertion in your regular run seem significantly less.
  7. Rest. Of course, it’s important to give you body plenty of rest to recover. Don’t run every day, and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep.

By following these 7 tips, you’ll certainly make huge gains to your stamina over time.

Remember: It’s important to be very consistent in your training. If you take a week or two off here and there, you’ll stunt your progress. Keep with it, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the results!

Love,
Davey

Does Running on a Treadmill Burn More Calories than Outside?

Studies show that there may be a slight caloric advantage to outside running.

There’s no doubt about it: Treadmill running is convenient. Rain, sleet, snow or shine – treadmill runners are untouched by weather conditions (unless, of course, you lose power). But for people looking to lose weight, how does the calorie burn of treadmills compare to running outside?

There have been a number of studies comparing treadmill running to outside running. The studies generally find outdoor running to be slightly advantageous when it comes to calories, though the extent of this advantage varies by speed. For individuals running between 5 and 9 miles per hour, running outside burns somewhere between 0% and 5% more calories. For individuals running at 10 miles per hour and above, running outside burns up to 10% more calories.

If you burn 400 calories inside, it would likely require an additional 0 – 40 calories (depending on your speed) to replicate the same workout outside. All in all, the difference is quite slight – but even small changes add up over time.

Treadmill running burns fewer calories because it’s easier. For one, the treadmill belt assists leg turnover, making it easier to run faster. When you run outside, you must propel your body forward to move. Moreover, when you run outside, you experience wind resistance – a condition that isn’t replicated with treadmill running. To account for these differences and better simulate outdoors running (especially if you are training for an outdoor running event), many people add a 1% to 2% incline on the treadmill.

The bottom line: Regardless of calories, select the type of training that works best for you, your schedule and your personality. Treadmill running isn’t for everyone; many people find it monotonousness and mind-numbing. Likewise, people with joint issues may prefer the extra cushion provided by treadmill running. Whether you do it outside or indoors, running can be a great way to get your cardiovascular exercise.

3 Best Leg Stretches for Runners.

If, like me, you spend a lot of time running, you’ve probably noticed tightness in your legs. Runners have notoriously tight leg muscles – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, if – through stretching – you’re able to increase your flexibility, you’ll likely see improved results on the treadmill or track. With an improved range of motion, you’ll take longer strides!

There are any number of great leg stretches, but I put together this video with three of my favorites. Just make sure you warm up before trying any of these at home; warmed up muscles stretch better and more safely.

The Dehyrdation Myth & Running.

Nearly half of runners drink too much water. Are you one of them?

There’s no question that water consumption is critically important – and obviously necessary for survival. And, in fact, many of us don’t consume the recommended amount of H2O. But a recent study by Loyola University Health Systems found that nearly half of recreational runners might be drinking too much water during races.

Consider, for a minute, our early ancestors. When chasing or hunting down a meal, our ancestors didn’t encounter tables with small cups of water marking each mile – as a modern marathoner might. There wasn’t time to stop and get a drink; the hunt was on, and so the body evolved to run distances without hydration.

According to the Loyola study, which was published in the June, 2011, issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “Many athletes hold unscientific views regarding the benefits of different hydration practices.”

Drinking too much fluid while running can lead to a potentially fatal condition called hyponatremia. When runners consume too much fluid, the sodium content of the body’s blood can drop to dangerously low levels. In fact, the study’s co-author, Lara Dugas, PhD, references 20 recent documented or suspected deaths from hyponatremia. It’s not theoretical; it happens.

To avoid hyponatremia, experts recommend that runners only drink when your body craves it. While marketers have warned us about the dangers of dehydration, runners need to find the appropriate balance. Dugas concludes:

We have been trained to believe that dehydration is a complication of endurance exercise. But in fact, the normal physiological response to exercise is to lose a small amount of fluid. Runners should expect to lose several pounds during runs, and not be alarmed.

Bottom line: Listen to your body and only drink when it is signaling thirst.

Is Barefoot Running a Good Thing?

There’s something romantic about running barefoot. It’s a minimalistic return to our roots; after all, man ran barefoot for millions of years. Modern running shoes, on the other hand, didn’t come about until the 1970s. But is running barefoot a good thing? Or a utopian pipe dream and recipe for disaster?

When I first started lifting, I used weight lifting gloves. While the gloves increased my grip strength, reduced callusing and provided additional wrist support, they do so at a price. Since the gloves are doing much of the work for you, your muscles don’t have to work as hard. In other words, they limit real gains in grip and forearm strength. For that reason, I stopped using weight lifting gloves.

Can the same logic be applied to running shoes? By running in shoes, are we limiting muscle development in our feet and ankles? As of yet, there’s not much data on the subject. But according to Craig Payne, DipPod, MPH, a senior lecturer in podiatry at Latrobe University in Melbourne, Australia, “[There is not] any evidence showing that running shoes weaken the muscles of the foot.”

Barefoot running does have one important efficiency working in its favor:

Oxygen consumption is typically 4% to 5% lower in barefoot running, which is attributed to factors including moving the shoes’ weight (energy demand increases about 1% for every 100g of additional mass on the foot), the bending resistance and friction of the sole, midsole energy absorption, and energy lost to metatarsophalangeal joint stiffness.

From the little data that does exist, any differences in running barefoot vs. with running shoes don’t translate to increases or decreases in reported injuries. Running-related injuries haven’t decreased with the development of modern running shoes, so it seems that footwear (or lack thereof) isn’t the largest determining factor in injury risk. Payne notes, “Barefoot running reduces heel strike and the impact associated with it, but there is not one piece of evidence that links high impacts to injury. The most common running injuries—patellofemoral pain syndrome and fasciitis—have nothing to do with impact.”

If you are looking to incorporate barefoot running into your program, know that most runners use it to add variety. It’s almost never the staple of a runner’s workout; instead, it’s used as an alternative approach. And barefoot running is certainly not recommended when running along sidewalks or in urban areas where you might encounter debris such as broken glass. If runners want to incorporate barefoot running, they are advised to do so in small increments – which can be increased slowly over time – so that the body can adjust accordingly.

But what do you think? Have you tried barefoot running? Share your experience in the comments below.

7 Best Tips & Tricks for Runners!

Lycra shorts and pants aren't just sexy - they're functional, too! They can help prevent chaffing for avid runners.

No trip the gym feels complete without a good run (and subsequent sweat) on the treadmill. I’ve been running for more than a decade – in fact, I first started running for my high school’s indoor track team – and I’ve learned a few tips from coaches and experts along the way.

Here are 7 of my absolute favorite running tips and tricks:

  1. Reduce stiffness. Feelings of tightness are common for runners, but a simple warmup strategy can help reduce stiffness. I jog for 3 minutes before my run; the jog heats up my muscles. Muscles stretch best when they’re warmed up – so immediately following my jog, I engage in some stretching. Then, I’m ready for my run!
  2. Eliminate blisters. Blisters are likely the result of loose shoes or bad socks. Ensure that your sneakers fit tightly and that the laces go through every eyelet. If your heel is moving inside the sneaker, then the sneaker is too loose. Moreover, make use of a running-specific sock. My favorite is Lululemon’s Ultimate Running Sock. They are anatomically constructed, moisture-wicking and don’t bunch up or slip while running.
  3. Boosting motivation. Experts often recommend creating a public goal to help boost your motivation and increase your accountability. If you announce to friends and family on Facebook, for example, that you’ll be running a 5k in 2-months, then it may help get you moving a little more often. Take it a step further and invite other people to join you at the 5k. Shorter term, a good playlist or workout buddy can help, too.
  4. Prevent joint pain. Many things can contribute to joint paint – but the easiest way to reduce your risk is to replace your running sneakers regularly. Running sneakers typically last 400 – 500 miles (use this formula to calculate how long your sneakers will last). When you buy a new pair of sneakers, use a magic marker to write the anticipated expiration date on the inside of the shoe.
  5. Stop chaffing. Many runners experience chaffing of the inner thighs due to the friction of skin-on-skin contact. To reduce chaffing, you can make use of any number of creams or powders. Even using petroleum jelly can help. If the problem persists, it may be worthwhile to invest in a pair of lycra or spandex shorts or pants to wear under your running clothes.
  6. Breathe properly. Most experts recommend a breathing rhythm of 3:2 wherein the runner inhales for three footstrikes and exhales for two. An easy way to remember this technique is to breathe along the five-syllable mantra, “I’m get-ting strong-er.”
  7. Catch your breath. Speaking of breath, if you’re having trouble breathing or catching your breath, simply slow down. You’re going too fast. Slower and steady wins the race; it’s never a good idea to start a longer run with an unsustainable sprint. Over time, you’ll build up your endurance and speed.

Those are my 7 best and favorite tips for runners – but please share your own in the comments below!

    6 Tips to Run Longer!

    Hey Davey,

    I’ve always loved running but I tire out quickly. How can I run longer distances (more than a mile) without slowing to take a break?

    From,
    John

    Hey John,

    As an avid runner myself, I do have some advice for you! Try these 6 tips to boost your running endurance.

    1. Create a goal. First things first, it’s helpful to set a goal. Since it sounds like your goal is distance-based, you may want to target something like 1.25 miles.
    2. Slow down. Reaching your goal may require that you slow down a bit. It’s very difficult to maintain a sprint pace, for example, but much easier to maintain a jog. So, if you’re overexerting yourself – it may be beneficial to take your pace down a few notches.
    3. Decrease breaks. Even after slowing the pace, you may still find that you need to take a break to catch your breath. That’s fine. But once you catch your breath, start running or jogging again. Get back up to your pace speed. Over time, slowly try to take shorter breaks – and eventually eliminated them altogether.
    4. Train regularly. Most importantly, you’ll need to stick with it. Running endurance can be built fairly quickly – but it also fads fast. Make running part of your routine, and you’ll notice that you’re able to build on your gains.
    5. Mix it up. Every now and then, switch up your distance-based cardio workout with something different – like interval training.
    6. Modify goal. Eventually – once you reach your distance goal of 1.25 miles – you may want to work on slowly increasing your pace. Or, you may want to extend the distance to 1.5 miles and go from there. Set a new goal for yourself.

    If anyone else has any tips to run longer distances, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

    I hope that helps!

    Love,
    Davey

    Running Inside Vs. Outside: Pros & Cons.

    Matthew McConaughey getting his outdoor jog on.

    I’m in Palm Springs for a few days, enjoying a nice little vacation from winter. The lovely hotel at which I’m staying doesn’t have a treadmill, and so I’ve decided to take my cardio out of doors.

    Running outside is a totally different beast, and so it begs the question: Is it right for you? The answer depends on a number of factors, and there are pros and cons for each.

    Running Inside (Treadmill)

    I love treadmill running for one reason: It’s easy to clock speeds and distances. It’s totally measurable. Nothing is left to guesswork, and if you set the treadmill to 9.5 MPH then that is the speed at which you will run. Moreover, the course is entirely customizable. You can add in hills whenever you want. Treadmills give a lot of control to the runner. And, they can be used any time of the day, any day of the year – rain, sleet, snow or shine.

    But treadmill running isn’t all sunshine and roses. Many people find it painfully monotonous, even if running with headphones or watching TV. I actually enjoy the monotony; it feels like a meditation to me. But beyond the repetitive nature of treadmill running, many running enthusiasts will notice that the belt does provide some running assistance – and that there is no wind resistance indoors. If you’re training for a running event, you’ll find it much harder to achieve treadmill speeds outdoors. Adding a slight elevation to the treadmill (even 1%) can help overcome the belt’s running assistance and lack of resistance.

    Running Outside

    I think the biggest advantage to running outside is the ability to enjoy the scenery. But actually. I had so much fun running up and down the desert streets of Palm Springs, checking out the architecture and viewing the landscapes. It was gorgeous – and my cardio time literally flew right by. When running on the treadmill, time tends to stand still. Outside, it’s quite the opposite. In addition, outdoor courses are the real thing. There are hills, ups, downs, turns and wind resistance. If you’re training for a running event, nothing beats actual pavement experience.

    Unfortunately, however, it’s much harder to determine running speed, keep track of distance, etc. Unlike the treadmill, outdoors running isn’t measurable – and the runner has little control. And snow, ice, rain or darkness can make for dangerous running conditions.

    Conclusion

    If you’re just running for exercise, and provided you are not completely bored by indoors running, then the treadmill is probably your best bet. If, on the other hand, you’re training for a competitive running event, there’s really nothing that can beat actual outdoor training – or at least a mix of indoor and out.

    Do you run inside or out? Why? Let us know in the comments below.