running

Guest Post – Sprint Workout: How to Maintain Muscle and Still Lose Fat

When you are sprinting, you always feel accomplished even if the sprint lasts for a split-second. Sprinting is one of the most intense workouts known by man. Olympic sprinters are capable of covering a distance of 100 meters in less than 10 seconds meaning that they output a lot of energy, concentration, and power.

Sprinting is a great workout strategy for persons looking to burn fat but maintain their muscle mass. Although it does not burn a lot of calories within the short period of the actual work, it is an effective fat-burning exercise after the workout.

Sprinting stimulates your metabolism level on a great scale and therefore after the sprint, your body burns a lot of calories and fat for close to some hours after the intense sprinting workout is over. Here we look at the basics of sprint workout and its effectiveness in helping you lose fat but maintain muscle.

Why is Sprinting Considered an Effective Workout?

Sprinting is effective in maintaining the muscle mass in your body and losing fat due to its nature of being a power-based workout. When sprinting, you make use of all your three energy systems i.e. aerobic, glycolytic and anaerobic.

Sprinting is considered as an effective workout as it not only burns fat in your body effectively but also pushes you to your absolute mental and physical limits. It requires you to fully focus on the workout at hand and push through the oxygen deprivation and muscular fatigue thereby making you become a powerful athlete in the end.

Important Instructions for Your Sprint Workout Sessions

Before starting on your sprint workout, it is essential to take part in a thorough warm up. This is very important as it prepares you both physically and mentally for the training session ahead while decreasing the chances of suffering from injuries. Here is an important guide to follow when warming up:

  • Low-intensity Cardio: You should have a CrossFit jump rope that you should use for jumping for about 4-5 minutes in order to break a sweat. Jogging could be another great alternative for a great warm up session.
  • Precise Sprint Drills — you should perform a series of skips (power skip, side skip, and front skip), lunges (stationary or walking) as well as leg swings (side-to-side and front/back). You can do these sprint-specific drills for about 4 — 5 minutes.
  • Accelerations and Plyometrics — you can do some light plyometrics like squat jacks, high knees, and skater hops as well as 10, 20 or 30-meter accelerations again for about 4 — 5 minutes.

Your warm up sessions are geared towards activating your body muscles and sharpening the reaction time in order to generate speed in a quick and safe manner. After warming up for 15 minutes, you will be ready for the sprints.
Sprint Workout

It’s possible to choose your preferred number of sets to take part in for an effective sprint workout. Here are some sets that can be used in a sprint workout:

– Four sets where you cover a distance of 40 meters at 95%, walk back to where you started and do another sprint. The sets should be done after every two minutes before taking a five-minute rest after doing all the four sets.

– A single set of 400 meters, where you should sprint as fast as you possibly can before taking a two-minute rest.

– Four sets of 100-meter strides where you take easy strides and cool down before walking back to the starting point for another set.

You can jog for half a mile and stretch a bit as a form of cooling down. Beginners should sprint once a week but athletes can do it twice in a week.

Other Ways of Burning More Fat and Maintaining Muscle

Apart from sprinting, you should also incorporate weight lifting in your workout program. Investing in a good Olympic weight bench will be important in ensuring you lift weights safely. Lifting heavy weights and sprinting very fast increases your body’s fat mobilization as well as muscle maintenance.

It is important to chart your progress in the weight room to note any reduction in strength as it could point towards a probable muscle loss. You can also invest in the best treadmill to build up your sprinting power and speeds for an effective sprint workout.

Tips to Becoming a Sprint Workout Pro

In order to become a pro in sprint workout, you ought to start slowly with shorter distances and work your way up. At the beginning, you should take adequate time to rest but as you get better the rest period should be decreased slowly. Sprint for the shortest period of time at your best speeds since it will be more effective than sprinting for long but at a less velocity.

References

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-maintain-muscle-while-losing-weight/

http://www.builtlean.com/2016/05/09/sprint-workout-burn-fat/

http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/how-to-lose-fat-without-losing-muscle/

Annie Jones is the main responsible behind the BoostBodyFit.com. She started off a bit on the chubby side, but went through the transformation and now enjoys the great health and looks great.

Guest Post: Running Tips For Beginners

The beginning is always the hardest. But once you start you’ll forget how hard it was. Almost all runners have similar stories from their beginnings: they almost died in the first two hundred meters, and then it happened by chance that (considering that they are still feeling alright) they become long-distance runners, and today those moments remember with a smile on their faces. Whether you start in order to lose weight, be active, you want to do something about physical activity, or because of something else, running is the simplest, most natural and least expensive way to secure yourself a permanent good feeling. Here are some tips for this.

Start with walking and short running

Do not go fast because you will burn more quickly. Here’s a rule – slowly but surely. In this way, you prepare your body in a collision and at a certain point, you will feel when it is time to run. This will also keep you from injuries. Start with a slow addition of running to your walk. Walk four or five minutes, then add running to walking, but so that every time you refresh while you walk. Even those experienced runners are recommended to introduce parts with walking.

Listen to your body – what does it say?

Once you learn to listen to your body, you become a coach to yourself. It’s completely normal to feel pain or fatigue in the muscles, but take care when or if during or after running experience mild dizziness, pain in the chest, legs or back happen. In this case, continue to walk or stop training and rest until the pain stops. Over time you will learn to listen to the signals your body sends, when it’s time to stop, and when you can continue. You will have to pay more attention to what you eat. Some habits might have to change. Make sure you are eating light and healthy meals which are in accordance with your new physical activity.

Slower at the start – faster at the end

It is important to slowly build the base, your pace, and you will quickly get to full enjoyment in running that will later be easy. To ensure yourself a constant progress, it is better to run three to four times a week for 30 minutes rather than two hours twice a week. And that is why it is important to have a proper plan that will gradually lead you to larger distances and build your tempo. When you finish training, and you say to yourself “maybe I could have a little more” – it’s a sign that you’re running the right pace.

Heating and cooling

Heating is important because with that you are sending a clear message to your body that it is preparing for physical activity. The heart and legs are getting ready to move. Ideal heating is when you run a little bit, and then walk, and so on for a few minutes. When you are finished with your workout, do not stop suddenly, but slow down completely, and end up by walking. Be sure to stretch. Heating and cooling are important because those reduce muscle pain and possible infection, and in that way, the whole body constantly works to prevent injuries.

Set a goal and watch your real success each day

Having a goal in most cases is a safe way to persevere. If you specify the goals and timeframes, you have a clear time vision, a clear motivation, and responsibility towards yourself and your given word. You open a circle which, when you close it, brings you an amazing feeling of your own achievements. With that, you will find yourself in one of the best and most important project which aims to: health, good feeling, self-confidence, self-management, sometimes a team work, some weight loss, a change, new experiences and new people.

Change the surface where you run

Runners usually have a strictly defined path where they run. The best solution for a beginner is to simply change the running tracks. Soft surfaces are not always the best. Treadmills seem softer and therefore safer, but they also have disadvantages. Earth tracks for running are generally uneven, may have holes and other obstacles, which can be dangerous. Feel free to change: sidewalk one day, the next day a paved road, a dirt road on weekends etc.

The rule of 10%

Add as much time or distance as you need to improve your form and save yourself from injuries. But be careful, do not increase the time or the running speed for more than 10% per week. If you run 90 minutes this week, next week run 99 minutes.

We hope the tips above are helpful, but you have to bear in mind that all you really need is the will which serves as an incentive for every action of yours. Where there is a will, there is a way for everything and you will be ready for every challenge that may come across.

Vanessa Davis is a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at www.diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic-based recipes for herself and her kids.

Guest Post: Why Every Runner Needs Proper Cross-Training

So you want to become faster this year? What should you? Most people simply start running more. However, unless you’re an elite athlete, you don’t really need to run more than three (or maybe four) times a week.

So in addition to running, you should do some proper cross-training as well. Cross training will surely keep you motivated to get all of your workouts complete. There are numerous advantages of cross training, including (but not limited to) avoiding burnout and injuries.

What’s more, if you start focusing on a completely different group of muscles (that you may not work enough when you’re running) will ensure that you will become a better and stronger athlete from top to bottom.

But is every cross training technique helpful? As it is with anything in life, cross-training has its downsides. So before you start hitting the gym, you need to ask one question – does this exercise involve moving your pelvis?

The Proper Movement of the Pelvis

This is simply the most important part of healthy running. The frontal and transverse planes of your pelvis need to move properly (it moves sort of like a seesaw, from side to side).

If you spend too much time on exercises that hold it still, you’ll eventually start moving more slowly and become more prone to injuries. Also, keep this in mind – your brain memorizes movements. So if you manage to strengthen your muscles and learn all the right movements, then you’ll be both strong and mobile enough to run better.

Naturally, if you want to cross-train properly, you need to make some serious lifestyle changes, including changing your diet, timing your meals and getting used to careful meal prep.

But let’s get back to the topic at hand – first you need to learn about the right exercises – because if you learn and practice the wrong ones, even if you manage to strengthen the right muscles your training will still be useless. So let’s look at a short list of some cross-training activities, and see how they’ll help you become a better runner.

Why Every Runner Needs Yoga

  • The Big Benefits

Yoga can improve your strength and mobility, especially of your hip joints and core, especially in warrior poses and sun salutations. And if you pay special attention to all the different kinds of movement your pelvis makes, and allow it to move more, yoga will be even more effective.

  • The Possible Downsides

While there are no huge downsides of yoga, you don’t actually need to spend more than two to three hours a week practicing yoga. Only a small amount of it will do the job – so don’t overdo it.

Why Every Runner Needs Swimming

  • The Big Benefits

Freestyle swimming is great for runners for one main reason – it helps them line themselves up from foot to head. But you’ll maybe have to consult a trainer; because you’ll need to do everything properly (proper freestyle involves rolling side to side and lengthening one side first and then the other).

  • The Possible Downsides

However, the effectiveness of swimming mostly depends on what stroking technique you use. For instance, some strokes that doesn’t involve a lot of turning like the butterfly and especially breaststroke are actually not beneficial at all.

Why Every Runner Needs Strength Training

  • The Big Benefits

Most strength enhancing exercises involve spiral movement, balance and of course, turning – all of which are essential to running. And when it comes to pelvis movements, one great exercise for this is pulling a cable and creating resistance while you turn – this will move your pelvis a lit and strengthen your core.

  • The Possible Downsides

On the other hand, you need to pay special attention to small details, because training on machines that don’t move your pelvis at all can be bad for your running abilities. So before you start using certain machines, you’ll need to evaluate the equipment and learn what it does for your body.

Final Thoughts

Those are just a couple of reasons why every runner needs strength training. So what do you think about our list? Do you maybe have a different cross-training routine? If you do, you should definitely leave a comment in the section bellow and share it with the rest of us.

Vanessa Davis is a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast, mother of two and content writer at www.diet.st. She’s originally from Long Island, New York, and when she isn’t cooking up some new health and fitness article, she enjoys doing yoga and figuring out new, delicious organic-based recipes for herself and her kids.

It’s A Long Summer Run Ahead

Getting out and about and exercising during the summer months is so rewarding. We get nicer weather to make the most of, longer days to utilize and everybody tends to feel a lot happier about themselves. It’s a one-way ticket to success if you start your workout regime at this time of the year, but few people tend to see that. They stick with the idea that starting off at the gym and getting fit and healthy in January is the way to go. Who wants to push their body to the limits in the cold when you’ve got the option of embracing nature and the outdoors when the temperature starts to rise?

Make The Most Of The Weather

We get summer for a few months each year. There are places all around the world that are lucky enough to have it almost all year round, but for the majority of us, we are stuck with the seasons. And who can begrudge that? It offers variety to our training regime and ensures that we are not bored on a day to day basis.

We see different things when we are out running and it gives s the chance to get creative with our routes. Stick to the same thing every single day, and you’ll soon begrudge the reason that you’re running and grow complacent and bored with what you’re doing. While the weather is fair and you can get the most out of your days, try and extend your running path a little further each time. Most marathons and training events happen over the summer, so entering yourself for one at the start of summer to complete at the end is a perfect goal to aim for.

Remember To Fuel Your Body

It’s easy to forget just how much more water your body needs when it’s warmer than it does compared to the colder months. It’s also easy to forget that you need to switch up your foods to cater for the fact that your body will naturally burn more calories in warmer weather.

If you are looking to run for weight loss rather than fitness; then supplement with something like Royal 21 Queen and ensure that you are eating a balanced diet. However, if it’s solely for fitness, then you need to make sure that you are taking care of your body in the way it needs to be taken care of. Eating the right food for your body is like fuelling a car; if you are running on gas, it’s silly to put diesel into it. It won’t work.

It’s the same with what you eat before a big run. If you are eating a lot of the wrong foods, your body won’t work in the way that you want it to. You need complex carbohydrates to give you a slow release of energy throughout. Make sure that you have drunk plenty before you set off if you are averse to carrying water around with you. Think about the treats that you can have after your run – the healthy eating binge doesn’t have to last forever!

Take Note Of Your Statistics

If you have a smartwatch such as a FitBit, it’s easy to keep track of how many calories you are burning, what your pulse rate is like throughout your run and how far you have traveled. It’s a good idea to take a note of these statistics and have them on file. There are a few reasons for this.

The first is that it’s a real motivation for you to see how far you’ve come from the start of the summer to the end. It’s a great feeling to look down and see that you’ve burned X amount of calories as well as running X amount of distance.

The second is to be able to gauge how many calories you are burning over a period of time to be able to fuel yourself efficiently.

The third is to notice any anomalies in what you are doing and bring them to attention. If you have noticed that your heart rate is deviating from the norm after you have reached a plateau, or are seeing that you’re not running somewhere as fast as you were and reached your destination in a time that reflects the amount of work that you’ve put into your training, it may be time to seek the help of a professional.

Even if it’s just a false alarm, it’s still a good idea to get checked over to ensure that you are doing everything right and there’s not something happening within your body. This can be harder to pick up on in colder months as your body has to continually adapt to the temperature outside and takes longer to warm up. Use the summer months as your motivation to finding out the cause of a problem, if there are any.

Get Social, Pick A Buddy!

The tremendous thing about running in the summer is that you will have people who are willing to do it with you. Whether they’re novices or advanced in their field, running with a partner in tow can do wonders for your motivation – and theirs. Remember to take it at a pace that suits the both of you, or pair up with other people who are on their level if they are uncertain that they’ll be able to keep up at all.

We all had to start somewhere, and it bodes well to humble yourself and remember that when trying to introduce other people to a sport that you may well be a whizz at. It takes a certain amount of dedication, a pinch of time and a whole lot of luck and talent to be exquisite at something, so nurture the person who decides to take this step and support them on their journey. If they don’t like it, don’t worry – it’s summer, and you are totally free to do what you want!

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Exercising? You Need These Nutrients

You need to eat well while you’re exercising. Otherwise, you’re simply not going to get all the benefits possible from your activities. But it’s worth finding out how precisely you should eat when you’re exercising.It’s not enough to say “eat well” – you need to know what nutrients your body actually requires!

Sodium

Many people may cringe upon hearing the word “sodium” in relation to health; they know it essentially means you need to think about the inclusion of salt in your diet. But isn’t that a big no-no? Actually, exercise makes you lose sodium very quickly, and if you don’t replenish that sodium then you can experience cramps. Low sodium levels in the long-term can cause hyponatremia. That’s why sports drinks have added salt in them!

Zinc

When you don’t get enough zinc, your oxygen intake can become negatively affected. So if your exercise is focused largely on cardiovascular and endurance activities (and what good exercise routine doesn’t at least feature these things?), then you need to pay attention to your zinc levels. It’s also great for helping to keep testosterone levels up, which is something that will become increasingly important for men approaching middle-age! Chickpeas, spinach, cashews, and mushrooms are fantastic ways to get zinc into your system. (Psst – so is dark chocolate!)

Omega-3

If you’re working on cardiovascular activities, then you need to keep your heart healthy. And there are few nutrients out there better at protecting your heart than omega-3. To many, this means you need to consume fish and fish oil – something that worries vegetarians and vegans! But omega-3 can be found in abundance in berries, seeds, mangoes, and leafy greens. Precisely the kind of things you can combine in a Ninja blender to make a tasty and nutrient-packed smoothie!

Magnesium

When you exercise vigorously, you’re actually putting your bones through quite the ringer. Those frequent hard impacts that accompany running can cause problems if you’re not keeping up your bone strength. Calcium is usually considered the obvious nutrient when it comes to bone strength, but you mustn’t forget about magnesium. It also helps you retain muscle strength. After all, your muscles take similar punishment during rigorous exercise! Avocados and bananas are great sources – they’re also rich in potassium, helping you maintain your energy levels. (Psst – dark chocolate also contains a lot of magnesium! Seriously, don’t underestimate dark chocolate. But, y’know, don’t pig out on it, either.)

Vitamins B, C, D, and E

It might be a safe assumption that you need all the lettered vitamins when you’re exercising regularly. But it’s good to understand why these ones, in particular, are so important. Vitamin B helps you metabolize fats and proteins, an essential function for people who exercise. (Vegans will probably need to take supplements to keep their levels up!) Vitamin C helps prevent shortness of breath during and after exercise, so stock up on oranges and grapefruit!

Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – helps the mitochondria in your muscles regenerate energy during exercise. This helps you maintain endurance. As for vitamin E – well, vitamin E is just really good at preventing illness. And few things disrupt your exercise routine quite like being ill!

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Non-Running Exercises That’ll Make You Run Faster

A lot of amateur runners think that if they just run further or more often that they will improve their mile time. Unfortunately, they eventually hit a plateau, and no matter how hard they train, they can’t break through it and continue improving. The problem with this state of affairs is that it can sap motivation and lead to despair.

The good news is that you can improve your mile time. You just need to stop running and try something else. Here are some non-running exercises that’ll help you run faster.

Up Your Game With Rowing

To get better, our bodies need to be challenged in new and unusual ways. The problem for most runners is that they don’t challenge their cardiovascular system and instead run at the same pace during all their training sessions.

One way to mix up cardiovascular training is to try something different. According to https://bodygearguide.com/best-rowing-machine-reviews/ rowing machines are a great way to prepare for a triathlon. Why? Because they help to tax the cardiovascular system in different ways to regular jogging. While your body is trained to deliver oxygen and nutrients to your legs, it’s less used to providing the same level of service to your back muscles and arms. Forcing your body to adapt to rowing will help when you next go out for a run. Don’t be surprised if you find your mile time coming down.

Single-Leg Squat

When you think about it, running is actually a series of single-legged jumps, one after the other. These jumps put tremendous strain on your knee joints and leg muscles. But despite this, many runners never bother to train their legs. In so doing, they put themselves at risk of injury and cause themselves to have slower mile times.

Single-legged squats are a great way to train for running says http://www.runnersworld.com. Not only do they improve the strength of the knee joint and leg muscles, but they also help the body balance itself biomechanically. Runners who aren’t biomechanically balanced or strong enough often run in a sub-optimal way to compensate. Strengthening the legs can help  prevent suboptimal gaits and make your mile times faster.

Foam Roller Pectoral Stretch

The upper body is one of the most overlooked regions of the body for runners. But it turns out that the trunk region, as well as the upper chest, are critical when stabilizing a runner in motion.

The upper body is important for another reason too: breathing. A stiff upper body that lacks strength can lead to reduced muscle function, low lung capacity and slouching. All these issues can then result in further running issues down the road.

Doing a pectoral stretch on the foam roller can help to reverse these problems and expand the chest area. Opening up the chest helps to stretch out the chest muscle, reducing the amount of rounding in the upper back.

Stretching out the thoracic is helpful too. To do this, lie with your back on the floor and put the foam roller under your lower back. You’ll notice a stretch in your core muscles.

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

The New Reebok Harmony Road Running Shoe

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Reebok. All opinions are 100% mine. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

When it comes to running shoes, I’m beyond picky. The right running shoe can help prevent you from various aches and pains. Like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, black toenails, etc. It can also weigh you down, change your footstrike, and lessen the impact of whatever surface you may be running on. Whether you’re a walker or a runner, you only have one pair of feet, and you need to take care of them. Which means paying attention to the shoes you put on them, here’s why I’m loving the Reebok Harmony Road Running Shoe.
Growing up, the importance of properly fitting shoes was always stressed to me. When I became heavily involved in running, it amplified even more, but I understand why. They’re the first thing to lessen the impact while running, but if they’re not right can cause an injury. I mean everywhere you go, your feet take you there, and since it’s the only feet you get; you need to take care of them. Thankfully Reebok has taken this all into consideration when designing their latest running shoe.

Reebok has always kind of been an underdog in running shoes. Many overlook them, but I’ve yet to try a pair that I didn’t love. My first pair of shoes that were only for running – back eight years ago – were Reebok, and it’s the brand I find myself go back to here and there. So when Reebok was looking for runners to try out their new Harmony Road Running Shoe, I was excited to see what they had come up with.

I’ve been testing out the shoes for about a week now, and I’m thrilled with them. I’m picky about my shoes, and even more so when they’re “road” shoes. They’re typically like cement blocks, and prevent your ankle from moving naturally. Something I learned the hard way when I stressed fractured my ankle a couple of years ago. Since I’m breaking them in, I’m wearing them most of the day, and can honestly say they’re one of the most comfortable running shoes I’ve had in a long time.

They’re super lightweight, have plenty of cushion with a shock-absorbing midsole, and have a sturdy outsole. Since they help stabilize and balance your foot, they’re perfect for the trail. Plus because of how light they are they’re great for fast intervals on the track.

The Harmony Road Running Shoe is super comfortable is because of how it’s made. The shoe is made from a synthetic mesh making it breathable, and the SmoothFuse upper is lightweight and won’t cause irritation. The midsole has a Kooshlan TPU foam that helps absorb shock and creates a more natural movement. Plus as you can tell in the picture above, they have a low-cut design allowing your ankles to move naturally, instead of restricting them.

Runner’s World is a registered trademark of Rodale, Inc. All rights reserved.

If you’re an avid Runner’s World reader like me, then you may have seen them named as one of Runner’s World 2017 Best Debut. It’s not hard to see why. The most important part of a running shoe is how it helps you run. The sole of the shoe is super flexible helping it to flex with your foot instead of against it. Making the transition from heel to toe nice and smooth, and more importantly; very natural.

If you’re looking for a natural ride running shoe that will hold up on the trail or the road and can be worn on the track. The Reebok Harmony Running Shoe might just be for you. To learn more and buy click here

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Guest Post: Healthy Sleep During Training is More Important than Getting Some Shut-Eye the Night Before Race Day

Do you really need a good night’s rest the night before a big run? The short answer is yes and no.

Of course getting adequate hours of sleep the night before a race is bound to make you feel ready to take on the world in the morning. And not getting enough sleep is bound to make you feel sluggish. But how much does healthy sleep or the lack of it really affect athletic performance?

A Single Night of Zero/Poor Sleep Has Little to No Effect on Physical Performance

Yep, you read that right. Getting healthy sleep the night before a big race isn’t actually that important for physiological endurance.

While it sounds crazy, it’s also backed by several scientific studies.

In one Dutch study, a control group of men who had healthy sleep and another group of men who had zero sleep the previous night were pitted against each other in 20-minute cycling time trials.

The healthy-sleep group clocked in an average of 7.68km during their trial. And while the researchers expected considerably lower results from the sleep-deprived group, they clocked in a near-identical average of 7.62km. Other physical measurements during the trial, particularly their average heart rate, also came out near-identical.

In another study in 2007, experts from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences analyzed a variety of existing studies on how sleep affects physical performance.

Much to their surprise, the experts found that even a few days of poor sleep translated to stable physiological markers of endurance. But while leg strength, oxygen demand at various speeds, and fatigue resistance were all unaffected by a single night of poor sleep, it was mental cognition that suffered.

And it wasn’t the first time that lack of sleep resulted in poorer mental performance.

The Brain is More Dependent on Sleep than the Rest of the Body

In a 2009 study, European researchers found evidence of decreased endurance in athletes who ran after staying awake for 30 hours. However, they also found that the 30-hour lack of sleep had a very limited effect on the test subjects’ actual cardiorespiratory/thermoregulatory function and pacing. Rather, the lowered performance was a result of their altered perception of effort.

The 11 men who were involved in this study completed 2 running trials. The first trial was after they had normal sleep. The second trial happened 7 days later, and after they were kept awake for 30 hours.

While the test subjects ran farther during the first trial, they reported feeling like they ran the same distance during the second trial. This led researchers to conclude that the decreased endurance was psychological and based mostly on their altered perception of effort (especially since they found evidence that a single night of sleep deprivation had limited effects on indicators of actual physical endurance).

Several past studies also indicate that short-term sleep deprivation can result in poorer memory, longer reaction time, and an unstable mood.

You’re certainly bound to not feel good and ready if you haven’t had enough sleep the night before a big race, but don’t let that feeling fool you. While your brain is telling you that you need sleep, your body could very well be as ready as ever to perform during race day.

If you’ve been training regularly and getting adequate sleep (at least for the past week), getting little to zero sleep the night before race day is unlikely to affect your actual physical performance and endurance.

More Sleep in General is More Important than How You Slept the Previous Night

Instead of the single night before your race, what you should really be concerned about is how you sleep on a regular basis.

In a 2011 study on Stanford basketball players, researchers found that extending sleep to 10 hours per night (for 5 to 7 weeks) resulted in increased performance metrics. They also found similar increases when the study was repeated in other sports like tennis, football, and swimming.

As Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory researcher (and study author) Cheri Mah explains, it’s not just about how you slept for one or two nights. Rather, it’s about “prioritizing sleep over the whole season.

While one night without sleep can be slightly detrimental to your endurance, there are some athletes who say that it makes no difference at all. One of these athletes is American long-distance runner Bobby Curtis, who won the NCAA title for 5,000 meters during his senior year on a somewhat irregular sleep schedule.

Curtis says that while not sleeping a few nights before the race didn’t affect his performance when he won the title, his training did suffer when he didn’t get enough sleep over the last couple weeks.

As Stanford’s Cheri Mah rightly suggests, it’s important for athletes to maintain a consistent sleep schedule that ensures they get adequate sleep.

So instead of worrying about how you’ll be too excited to sleep the night before your big race, focus on getting enough sleep during training. That’s when sleep really counts.

How to Pace Yourself

Learning to run properly can be challenging enough, which is why learning to how to pace yourself is important to get right.

If you’ve ever laced up your shoes and headed out the door unsure of what pace to run; you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you figure out how to pace yourself.

Whether you’re a beginner, elite, or anywhere in between, we can all face the same problem in any given week. The schedule says Tuesday should be hard, Thursday should be steady, and you have heard that most of your long runs should be at an easy effort. You find yourself asking as you run down the road, what is hard and how should this feel? How can a long run ever be easy?! No matter how slow I run, it NEVER seems easy!

Here’s an easy way to figure out and look at effort levels.

Contrary to popular belief this sport doesn’t have to be exhausting, and each run shouldn’t leave you tired for days. Your early runs where you’re learning to cover distance and time should be completed at the speed of chat. Meaning you should be able to talk to the person next to you while running. This is called the “talk test” and is one of the most common ways to gauge effort level.

For those who are more experience, running at “the speed of chat” is how your easy runs should feel in a training week. You should feel totally in control, relaxed, and able to talk while running. Easier to check while running with a friend, but if you’re by yourself, you may find you are running along the street talking to yourself; not a bad thing as long as it helps you gauge your effort! If you want to give this running a score as an effort level 1-10 (1 being the easiest), it could be a 6/10.

The next level

Steady running. This is the backbone of training for the more experienced. It’s not complicated but does require you to be completely honest. You can push this area too hard and run junk miles that leave you too tired for clever sessions that we’ll cover next. This area is perhaps a 7/10 on your scorecard and is still conversational, although the chat is slightly strained.

Threshold running

We can all train like Mo; even if you’re new to the sport, and this is how you do it. This is called “uncomfortable running” or “controlled discomfort.” The key is that you can still talk between each breath, but it’s only 3-4 word answer effort. If you can utter a couple of distressed words; you are working too hard, and conversely, if you can say most of a sentence, you’re not working hard enough. This is running uncomfortable, but with control! It’s certainly not sprinting or running to exhaustion.

You might only be ready to include a few 3-minute blocks of this in a run each week, but it can grow; you can build the volume over the months. We call this running the bedrock to becoming a better runner, and it feels like 8-9/10 and 3-4 word answer effort.

An experienced runner using a heart rate monitor might run near to 85% of their maximum heart rate to remain in this zone. To know exactly how high your heart rate should be; grab a lactate & Vo2 max test from your local Sports Science department or university.

A couple of examples of threshold running sessions are:

5 x 5 minutes at threshold effort built into a 45-50 minute run with a 90-second jog recovery between each block.

This can build to a 6 x 5 minutes then 3 x 10 minutes and eventually you could be running 25-30 minutes of continuous threshold in the last part of a 45-minute run each week. The key is to keep feeling like a 3-4 word answer pace and not progressively harder until you feel like you are in the final stages of a 5k or 10k. Stay in control.

Interval Training & 5K-10K race paces naturally follow on from threshold as being the next level of pain.

It’s time to visit the hurt locker; although if new to running, your 5k or 10k effort will be your easy running pace or maybe threshold if progressing and a few races further down the road.

To a certain point, how the 5K/10K effort or interval training feels is up to you. You could be wise and hold back slightly letting the pace and intensity prescribed build the pain for you, or you could be the headbanger who loves to hit it harder and hang on. The choice is yours but remember to be consistent in this zone.

It’s meant to hurt and sessions such as 6-8 x 1km or 6 x 4 minutes off 75-90 seconds recovery can hurt. They will boost your VO2 max, and make your heart stronger. Keep in mind though that you can’t visit this zone too often; maybe once a week in a training plan once already experienced, running threshold each week and feeling good.

Little Tip –

Join a running group, club, or friends to complete these sessions. Completing weekly interval sessions with others adds competition, company, and disguises the pain and mental strength required.

So next time you leave the house; have a planned route and know what you want from your training. Have a purpose and listen to your body.

Just remember these four levels/zones:

  • Easy Run – Fully conversational at the speed of chat and about 6/10 (60-65% max heart rate).
  • Steady Run – Conversational, controlled, but slightly strained and about 7/10 (70-75% max heart rate).
  • Threshold Running – Controlled discomfort and 3-4 word answer pace or 8-9/10 (80-85% max heart rate, but get tested to be sure!).
  • Interval Training & 5K/10K effort or quicker – No time to chat here and 9/10 or more as the session progresses. It’s 1 or 2 word answer time and perhaps more of a grunt (85 – over 90% max heart rate… ouch!)

Make every run count!

What’re Your Thoughts?

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

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Everyone can run faster if it’s something they really want. Whether you are new to the sport, or you’re a seasoned runner; there are many things you can do to up your game. Sure, you might not be giving Usain Bolt a run for his money anytime soon, but if you put the following tips into practice, you can run like the wind in no time.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

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