Archive for tips – Page 2

metabolism – myths and facts

via The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RD, LDN

Why can one person eat like a growing teenager and not gain a pound, while another person’s every indulgence shows up on the scale?  Chalk it up to individual differences in metabolism, muscle mass and physical activity. Metabolism is the process by which our bodies convert what we eat into the energy we need to survive and function. It powers everything from breathing to blinking. A fast metabolism is like a hot furnace that burns through fuel (calories) quickly. A slow metabolism needs less fuel to keep a body running.

It’s tempting to throw up our hands and blame weight issues on a slow metabolism, but there are ways to support metabolism and maintain a healthy weight.

Claim: Our metabolic rates can’t change.

The truth: While it’s true that genetics help determine our metabolic rates, we can boost metabolism by increasing lean muscle mass.  Muscle burns more calories per hour than fat, which means that people with lean, muscular bodies need more calories to function than people with a higher percentage of body fat.

Our muscle mass decreases as we age, which slows metabolic rates by 2 to 8 percent per decade. But you can counteract this process by picking up the weights. “Having good muscle mass, especially towards your 40s and 50s, is important,” says Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, CSSD, registered dietitian. “If you start with a good baseline, your metabolism isn’t going to decrease as much.”

Claim: A diet of green tea and chili peppers will boost metabolism.

The truth: No magic food will speed up metabolism. Some studies have shown that green tea and hot chilies temporarily boost metabolic rates, but the lift isn’t enough to offset eating too many calories.

“Just because you’re putting a lot of chili peppers in your food doesn’t mean you can eat more of it,” says Villacorta. The path to healthy weight loss is through portion control and a balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich foods, not through a diet doused in chili peppers.

Claim: Eating late at night slows metabolism.

The truth: It’s the extra calories – not when you eat them – that cause weight gain. There is little evidence to support the fact that eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain. However, you may be more likely to snack mindlessly in the evenings while watching television. Calories in these snacks add up, and that can cause weight gain.

Claim: Very low calorie diets and skipping meals can jumpstart weight loss.

The truth: Weight loss is all about creating an energy deficit – ingesting fewer calories than your body expends each day – but creating too large of a calorie deficit can backfire. Our bodies are smart, and programmed for survival. Severely limiting calories can make your body think it’s entering a famine, and that it needs to do more with fewer calories. Your body adapts to the restricted caloric intake, and uses fewer calories to perform the same tasks.

“We encounter people who are burning lots of calories, but not eating much, and they can’t lose those last 10 pounds. Their metabolism is essentially on lock down,” says Villacorta.


spring training 2014

Editor’s Note: Happy New Year ladies! We are very excited to work with you and see you moving forward towards your goals! For you ladies who are starting or re-starting a running and/or walking routine, being healthy and happy is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. You’ll see results and feel much better taking small steps every day toward a more active lifestyle.

Here are a few tried-and-true tips on setting and adjusting goals:
· Check with your health care provider before starting a fitness or wellness program.

· Be honest with yourself. Accept yourself as you are and where you are. Ask yourself, “What is my ideal happy, healthy lifestyle?”

· Review the past year and make a new list. What worked? What failed? Why? What can I build on? What should I let go? What were my best and worst decisions? Have some fun with it and use humor; it helps!

· Make time to fully focus on the new goals. You want to get momentum going forward and keep it – building on small improvements and small victories, because they will add up.

· Be flexible. If you want to run a marathon, you have to build a base of miles over time. You can’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles. The same is true for most goals. You have to take responsibility for your life, health and happiness. Change doesn’t always come quickly or easily.

That’s life – there is never a direct path to success. It’s a journey and an adventure. Develop your sense of humor and your improvisation skills! Let’s make it happen! 

Beginning Half Marathon (13.1 miles) Training 

Let’s Begin!

If you are considering a half marathon – you probably already know that a running workout is a great calorie crusher, mood enhancer and has many other benefits.  You don’t have to be a maniac runner to reap all the many benefits!  Stepping up to a half marathon is awesome for women, so awesome in fact that nationally women represent about 65% or more of the participants in half marathons around the country!  The most important thing is to have fun with it and make it your lifestyle!  So, let’s begin!

Before Starting

Before starting a half marathon training program, you should make sure you are healthy enough to undertake the training.  The half marathon training should not be taken lightly.  Consult your medical professional to ensure you are ready for this important next step!  You should be able to run comfortably for at least 30 – 45 minutes before beginning a half marathon 16 week training plan.

Recommended 14 Week Beginner Half Marathon Training Program

* Saturday and Sunday “long runs” may be either day – with the other day being a rest day.

** XT is cross training which can include biking, core workouts, upper body workouts, yoga, pilates, stretching, etc.

Tips & Terms

The following is the running terminology used for training – obviously, the more experience you have – the more training options and speed/track workouts you will use for form, technique and conditioning.

Easy Runs

This means running totally comfortable and controlled.  When running alone or with your runhers training partner or group, you should be able to converse easily. You’ll likely feel as if you could go faster. Don’t. Here’s some incentive to take it easy: You’ll still burn about 100 calories for every mile that you run.

Walking & Taking Breaks

If you feel the need to walk or take a break in your long run or during any of your training runs, by all means do so.  Since you are just beginning the half marathon, with finishing as your goal, just listen to what your body is telling you.

Long Runs and/or LSD (Long, Slow Distance)

These are any steady run at or longer than race distance designed to enhance endurance, which enables you to run longer and longer and feel strong doing it. A great long-run tip: Find a weekly training partner around your pace and ability for this one.   You’ll have time to chat about anything that comes up.


This means bursts of running shorter than race distance, some at your race goal pace, some faster. This improves cardiac strength, biomechanical efficiency, running economy, and the psychological toughness that racing demands.

Race Day Rules

Run slower than you feel like you should be running over the first 6 – 7 miles. Look around; chat a bit with those around you. And walk if you need to through the aid stations, drink fluids, take a little break, then resume your running.





tips for staying safe on the road in the dark

by: team runhers

With daylight savings time ending and the shorter days this time of year, it is important to think through and to have a plan for running or walking in low light situations.  You can enjoy winter outdoor running and walking, whether you choose to run early morning or late evening, by following these tips and using as much common sense as you can muster!  Enjoy the seasons and run with joy!

  • Understand and follow all your local traffic-safety laws.   Allow a minimum of three feet between you and any vehicle.
  • Always let someone know where you are running and when you can be expected back.    
  • Wear high visibility reflective clothing, a reflective safety vest or put some reflective strips on your outwear.  You can also wear a headlamp or carry a light to be better seen. 
  • Have some form of ID on you – and carry a cell phone if at all possible. 
  • Run in well-lit areas if possible and try to avoid heavy traffic areas, intersections and parking lots.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and let your instincts guide you.  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.   
  • Be prepared to jump onto the sidewalk or shoulder of the road.
  • Avoid wearing your head phones or ear buds. If you must have music, leave only one in your ear.
  • Face traffic. It’s easier to see oncoming traffic, as well as easier for them to see you.
  • Approach hills, turns and other blind spots with caution.  Assume that the driver(s) can’t see you and behave accordingly.
  • At a stop sign or light, wait for the driver to wave you through–then acknowledge with your own wave.
  • If you are running with friends, running in single file on roads may make the most sense. 

For more women’s safety, we have assembled a comprehensive women’s safety guide, Designing a Safer Woman, which you can view or download here:

Finally, here is a 2012 article on running in the dark, “Embrace the Dark Side” –

a good way to start your day

Editor’s Note:  With fall in full swing, we get to thinking about nice welcoming mugs of goodness to warm our bones.   Research has shown a strong association of teas with long life and health in many ancient cultures.  After reading this WebMD article, you will find that green tea is very beneficial for your health.  We enjoy iced green tea in the summer, now it’s time to make it a year round drink, a daily ritual!  Drink it to relax, and for your health.  Enjoy the article!  Cheers!   

A cup of green tea is a good way to start your day.

By: Paula Spencer Scott A WebMD Feature

“It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink,” says Christopher Ochner, PhD. He is a research scientist in nutrition at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Green tea is beyond a super food.”

In the past 20 years, thousands of studies have shown green tea’s benefits.

Healthy Cells

Why is green tea so good for you? “It’s all about the catechin content,” says Beth Reardon, RD, a Boston nutritionist. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Green tea is not processed much before it is poured in your cup, so it is rich in catechins.

Healthy Heart

Green tea has been shown to improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.

Brain Health

What’s good for the heart is usually good for the brain, and your brain needs healthy blood vessels, too. In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains.  Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.


Green tea seems to help keep blood sugar stable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause, Ochner says.

Weight Loss

Green tea can help increase and even change your metabolism, so you burn more calories from fat. Studies show that green tea can also help you keep weight off once you’ve lost it.

It’s also a smart swap for sugary drinks. “All things being equal, if you sub 1-2 cups of green tea for one can of soda, over the next year you’d save over 50,000 calories,” says Ochner. That’s more than 15 pounds.

Cancer Role

Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed.  But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some indications green tea may help destroy cancer cells.

Less Stress

Sipping tea helps you slow down and relax, Reardon says. An amino acid called theanine found in green tea can provide a calming effect.

For a healthy cuppa:

  • Don’t add green tea to boiling water. You’ll kill helpful catechins. Better: 160-170 degree water.
  • Add lemon. Vitamin C makes the healthy compounds in green tea easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, makes it harder to absorb the catechins.
  • Levels of the healthful compounds in green tea can vary. Rule of thumb: Pricier teas usually have more, and canned green-tea drinks have less.

Aim for at least four cups a day, two with caffeine and two without. Even more than that seems to have little health downside, other than the possible effects of caffeine, Ochner says. “There could not be a more simple way to improve your health,” he says.

demystifying the food label

Editor’s Note:  We recently received an e-mail from Cheryl M. in Little Rock, “I’ve recently started your Sofa2Success  program, and I am wondering if you’ll be adding more information on how to select the best food to go along with my increased activity?”

We always say it’s the little things that make the big difference.  With food labels it’s no different.  Once we know and understand the basics, we can navigate the endless choices that are presented to us at the grocery stores.  If you are not familiar with all the information presented on food labels, this article is for you.  We’ll be doing another article on ingredients/additives as well as the advertising claims some companies make versus the real nutrition facts soon. You will laugh out loud at some of the claims!  Please be thoughtful about what fuel you put in you and your family’s bodies!  The more you know …   

Article Via:  American Heart Association

Learning how to read and understand food labels can help you make healthier food choices.

Here are some tips for making the most of the information on the Nutrition Facts label.

Start here. Note the size of a single serving and how many servings are in the package.

Check total calories per serving. Look at the serving size and how many servings you’re really consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value (% DV).

Limit these nutrients. Remember, you need to limit your total fat to no more than 56–78 grams a day — including no more than 16 grams of saturated fat, less than two grams of trans fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

Get enough of these nutrients. Make sure you get 100 percent of the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

Quick guide to % DV. The % DV section tells you the percent of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less is low. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more is high.

Here are more tips for getting as much health information as possible from the Nutrition Facts label:

  • Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight. Find out your personal daily limits on My Fats Translator (  In general, as you think about the amount of calories in a food per serving, remember that for a 2,000-calorie diet:
    • 40 calories per serving is considered low;
    • 100 calories per serving is considered moderate; and
    • 400 calories or more per serving is considered high.
  • There is no % DV shown for trans fat on the panel because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have enough scientific information to set this value. We recommend eating less than 20 calories or (less than two grams of trans fat) a day – that’s less than 1 percent of your total daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet).
  • When the Nutrition Facts panel says the food contains “0 g” of trans fat, it means the food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.
  • When the Nutrition Facts label says a food contains “0 g” of trans fat, but includes “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredient list, it means the food contains trans fat, but less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving, you could quickly reach your daily limit of trans fat.

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, a lot of foods today also come with nutrient content claims provided by the manufacturer. These claims are typically featured in ads for the foods or in the promotional copy on the food packages themselves. They are strictly defined by the FDA. The chart below provides some of the most commonly used nutrient content claims, along with a detailed description of what the claim means.


If a food claims to be… It means that one serving of the product contains…
Calorie free Less than 5 calories
Sugar free Less than 0.5 grams of sugar
Fat free Less than 0.5 grams of fat
Low fat 3 grams of fat or less
Reduced fat or less fat At least 25 percent less fat than the regular product
Low in saturated fat 1 gram of saturated fat or less, with not more than 15 percent of the calories coming from saturated fat
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Extra lean Less than 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol
Light (lite) At least one-third fewer calories or no more than half the fat of the regular product, or no more than half the sodium of the regular product
Cholesterol free Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams (or less) of saturated fat
Low cholesterol 20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Reduced cholesterol At least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat
Sodium free or no sodium Less than 5 milligrams of sodium and no sodium chloride in ingredients
Very low sodium 35 milligrams or less of sodium
Low sodium 140 milligrams or less of sodium
Reduced or less sodium At least 25 percent less sodium than the regular product
High fiber 5 grams or more of fiber

If you can’t remember the definitions of all of the terms, don’t worry.  You can use these general guidelines instead:

  • “Free” means a food has the least possible amount of the specified nutrient.
  • “Very Low” and “Low” means the food has a little more than foods labeled “Free.”
  • “Reduced” or “Less” mean the food has 25 percent less of a specific nutrient than the regular version of the food.





learning to love your foam roller

Editor’s Note:  We always have a love/hate relationship with certain things, like foam rollers.  There is no doubt to how effective this low cost tool is for runners and other active people.  So, learn it, live it and love it! 

Self-Myofascial Release, also referred to as “foam rolling” is a stretching technique similar to a deep tissue massage that focuses on loosening overactive and tight muscles. Foam Rolling can be used as a warm up and before static stretching and as a cool down to relax tightened muscles. It is beneficial for flexibility, reducing injuries, improving muscle imbalances, muscle recovery, and overall performance.

To begin, slowly roll on desired area to find a possible knot or tender spot. Hold pressure on the knot for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds or until the discomfort is reduced before releasing. By applying gentle pressure to the knot you are stimulating the Golgi tendon which will relax the underlying muscular tension. This process assists with restoring the soft tissue back to its optimal level of function. Once pressure is reduced, the key is to continue to roll slowly (1 inch per minute) over muscle group area, not a fast rapid roll.

As runners, we have a tendency to focus stretching our lower body, however rolling our back region is important as well. By relaxing these muscles, flexibility increases which assists greatly with our overall posture and in return our running form is enhanced.

Calf Complex (Gastrocnemius/Soleus)

For optimal pressure, place right leg over left and place foam roller under mid-calf, shift body weight to comfort level and slowly roll calf area to find most tender spot. For less pressure uncross legs.



Lie on one side, place foam roller in front of hip. For more assistance, cross the top leg over lower leg, with foot touching the floor and the bottom leg raised slightly off floor. Slowly roll from hip joint to knee.


Lie prone with one thigh flexed and abducted. Place the foam roller inside the upper thigh region; slowly roll to the medial thigh area.


Sit on top of the foam roller, position on the back of the hip, glute area, cross one foot to the opposite knee. Slightly lean body weight into the hip for more pressure and slowly move around to find desired spot.


In a seated position, position foam roller under legs to the back of upper legs, place hands to the side to support weight, lift your hips and firmly shift weight to one leg. Slowly roll from below the hip to above the knee to find desired tension point.


Lie prone, place foam roller underneath top of leg, and keep foot off the ground. Shift weight to one side, roll from knee to below the hip until tension is reduced. Switch weight to opposite leg.

Latissimus Dorsi

Lie on the floor to one side with arm extended; place the foam roller under your arm. Slowly move back and forth to find tension points.


Lay flat on your back, placing the foam roller under the upper back. Raise your hips off the ground and stabilize your head in a neutral position. Shift weight to one side at a time, rolling upper to middle of back.

the value of grinding it out

The bombing at the Boston Marathon.  The explosion in West, Texas.  The earthquake in China. The bombing of the French Embassy.  There’s more, but the events of the last few days are enough to make our heads spin.  What the people dealing with these tragedies know or will learn is that recovery and restoration is a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s a grind, a slow and difficult process.  And in the end, the people and the communities will come out the other side stronger, braver and more equipped to deal with life than before the event.  There are plenty of lessons to be learned, like the value of grinding it out.

We’re sure you’ve noticed how easy some days are – and other days it seems like getting our heads off the pillow in the morning is a huge effort.   There is great value in learning to grind through the tough days, to improvise, to find the grit inside to go on and make the day count.  This is where the most growth lies – in how you work through the difficult days, the dark hours and the long miles.  How you respond in the tough times matters, it’s where you learn the most about yourself – and those around you.

When we talk about grinding, we’re not referring to the dirty dancing version here!  We are talking about finding a way to get through the day, learning how to run/perform when you’re tired, or work effectively in less than perfect conditions – to make it to through the run, or through the day’s storm.

Grinding has been described as dreary, monotonous, or difficult labor.  It’s not pretty, in fact, it’s mostly pretty ugly.  And it’s entirely necessary.  With U.S. Special Forces selection, they wear down the candidates with sleep deprivation and strenuous hard runs, physical drills and other taxing challenges.  Then, while exhausted, they are tasked with an incredibly difficult task/mission, requiring critical decision making skills, teamwork and the ability to improvise on the fly.   The drop-out rate is high, but in the end – it is the grinders, the ones who just won’t quit, no matter what, who are honored into the elite teams.  The U.S. Navy Seal credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” says it all.

We’re not elite special forces – but the lesson is clear.  There will be days that nothing is going right, you feel like crap and the world seems to be crashing in.  It could very well be race day.  Making the best of it, adapting your plan and always moving forward will make you stronger in every way.

Some tips for grinding it out.

  • Most importantly; think. In stressful times it is easy to lose focus on what is really important.  If you take a deep breath and spend a couple of minutes prioritizing, it will serve you well.  Focus on what’s the right thing(s) to be doing, what will allow you and/or yours to have the best chance of carrying on, surviving the day, race or whatever you need to get through.  Then grind through those things first!
  • Don’t give up on the day.  There is always a way to make something work.  Keep trying, keep going.  Many days turn out great after a really rocky start – just by grinding on!  Being relentless is a learned skill.
  • Trust that if you keep at it long enough, a breakthrough will come.  It may not be the desired result – but you know the effort was there.  Believe in the effort and you will grow stronger.
  • Taking a bite out of the elephant.  You can’t eat the whole elephant at once, so learn how to make small bites.  It’s always the small things that add up.
  • Learn to improvise.  Your race pace is shot and you are not even sure you are going to finish.  So, it’s not going according to plan – what to do?   Adjust and adapt.  Take what the day is giving you, whether it’s the weather, the attitude or other factors.  Start chopping up the course into small victories – make it to the next landmark, the next mile or the next water station.  Pride yourself on the ability to grind on to the finish.  You’ll be more proud of your ability to survive and flourish on the bad days, knowing the strength and resolve you have within.

It’s difficult at times to believe in ourselves – that we even have the capacity and the ability to get through the things that are thrown in our paths.  Life can be unbelievable hard at times, full of ups and downs.  Please don’t give up on yourselves – keep grinding through the hard times.  It helps in many cases during the hard times, to help someone out who may be having even a rougher go of it than you.  We can make such a difference in people’s lives by the simple act of caring.  You never know when you can be a hero, to yourself or to someone else.  Keep going, keep grinding on.  It’s the effort and the perseverance that makes the difference.  You are capable of amazing things when you keep stepping ahead, one step at a time!

designing a safer woman

Women’s Running & General Safety Tips

Please think about your personal safety before you run – have a strategy and a plan.  Not just for running, but for your daily lifestyle as well.  Arm yourself with knowledge on what predators are looking for; and how to make yourself less of a target.  While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted.  Remember, sexual assaults, whether physical or verbal, are not your fault.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
  • Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
  • Walk or Run with purpose.  Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
  • Trust your instincts.  If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.  We cannot emphasize this enough.
  • Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
  • Don’t run with your music/ iPod.  If you must however, avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are running or walking alone.
  • Run with friends or in areas where other runners, walkers and bikers frequent. 
  • Consider joining a running club.  Many running clubs offer connections and they know the safer areas, roads and trails in the local community.  If you are traveling, contact the local running club for advice for that town.
  • Let loved ones or other people know your running route and how long you are going to be gone.  Checking back in with them when you’re done.
  • If you are being followed while running, run to any public area, if possible, and call 911.  Never be afraid to call 911 to report suspicious activity.  It could save your life.
  • Run with your dog – they are known to be effective deterrents.
  • If possible, change running routes often enough.  Stalking is a serious issue, so change it up.
  • Before purchasing any self-defense product like pepper sprays – please make sure you thoroughly understand the products, are trained in the product use and know the product’s limitations.  The same logic goes for technology, emergency apps and GPS tracking.  Road ID and other similar products are good for identification/medical history.  Always be realistic and use your common sense.

Special thanks to and for your support/resources

2012 all rights reserved

running events – ‘buyer beware’ tips

team runhers note:  We were poised to do a similar article about this very issue.  Important information you need to know when selecting your next race!   We are thankful our friend Jean Knaack and the Road Runner’s Club of America (RRCA) stepped up.  Jean consulted with her board to put together this article.  They are a very experienced group.  Most of the small events you are running are very unsafe – they don’t have any experience, along with no emergency or contingency plan, putting you and fellow runners at high risk.  We are surprised the cities have even issued these people special event permits!   There are many other things to be on the lookout for that can really spell trouble and ruin your race experience.  We’ve seen as many as three, four and even five 5K’s being run on the same morning – none of them with any road race management experience whatsoever.  We’ve seen larger events come in to cities and do the ‘money grab’ – leaving town with no regard for the local community or the non-profit they claimed to be helping.  We know of a ‘new’ 5K in September in Edmond, Oklahoma, that ‘borrowed’ another organization’s event theme and now call it their own.  So, please read Jean’s article, it will help you understand how experienced race directors manage their running events and festivals.  It will also help you select running festivals/events that will offer you the best running experience in a safe environment. Run with Joy! 

By: Jean Knaack and RRCA Board of Directors

As the popularity of running continues to grow, so do the number of events held each year around the country. This is a good thing for our sport; however, as with all growth industries, there are inevitably going to be a few bad apples that spoil a barrel, as the old saying goes. The RRCA has worked for 54 years to promote safe and enjoyable events for runners, and there is nothing more frustrating than hearing stories about race promoters who sell entry fees only to cancel the race with minimal notice, provide no refunds, and give only vague excuses or false information as to why the event was canceled or postponed. We aren’t talking about races that are canceled or postponed due to emergency weather conditions, acts of God, or other emergencies on or near the course. Bad weather and accidents happen and are completely out of a race director’s control. We are referring to races that are canceled or postponed because the event owners haven’t done due diligence in the organization of their event, and the runner is the one who loses in the end. As more events are launched, the RRCA board of directors offers the following advice to help runners intelligently choose events, especially if you’re looking for a great out-of town event to run that also happens to be a new event.  

  • Look for events that have been run before. If an event boasts anywhere from 3–30+ years’ running, there’s a good chance the race will go off as promoted.
  • Look for events that are USA Track & Field certified courses. You should be able to find the certification number for the course on the event website. The best place to look is at the bottom of the site or in the course information section for the event. Certified courses show that the event director has taken the required steps to ensure the course has been accurately measured, and that the event director is taking seriously their duties to host an accurate event distance. 
  • Look to see if the local running club hosts the event or if the event director has a local address or phone number listed. Events managed by someone who lives in the community where the event is taking place usually have a good track record for going off as planned. If the race is promoted by an unfamiliar promoter or an out-of-state company, Google the company or promoter. Do they have positive comments from other races they have directed? If not, “buyer beware” certainly applies. For example, one national event promoter tried to cram 20,000 runners, against local expert advice, into a venue that clearly was only suitable for 5,000 runners. The comments on social networks and in the local paper were not positive. 
  • If the race is an inaugural race, closely review the race website. Does it post all relevant race information in an easy-to-find format? Events that are missing important information—course maps, packet pick-up information, event schedules, event rules (including refund information), award information, race director contact information, etc.—should be considered suspect. A well thought-out race should include a well thought-out website or at least a detailed registration page. Websites with limited event information should be suspect, especially if the race promoter is trying to attract out-of-town runners.
  • Look for safety information on the website or in the waiver of liability. Does the website outline expected weather conditions and road conditions on race day? Does the waiver contain information specific to the event, the course conditions, the event director, and the event sponsors? If not, think twice before registering for the event. Including specific conditions related to the course and local weather information can mean there’s a good chance the event director is at least familiar with the area and the course. V
  • Use your networks when researching out-of-town races. Read race reviews on websites such as the Running Network, Marathonguide.Com, Runner’s World, Let’s Run, etc. If the race has a Facebook page, check it to read what other runners have said about prior races and/or are saying about the upcoming race. Negative comments are a red flag. Also check the Facebook page of area running clubs for local feedback. And check in with the Better Business Bureau to determine whether the race promoter has been the subject of complaints in connection with other races. 
  • Look for signs of community support for the race on the event website. Determine whether the race has designated a local charity as the event beneficiary. Does the event organizer or promoter note how much they plan to donate to the charity or how much they have given in the past? Think twice about an event that simply says, “Proceeds go to charity” without naming a specific charity partner(s). Does the event outline how donations can be made directly to the charity partner? Has the race partnered with the local parks & rec department, local running club, local Y, local sports commission, etc.? Are local merchants on board supporting the event? A quick review to see if an outside promoter has community support can be an indication that the event will most likely take place because of a joint vested interest in the success of the event. 
  • Look for price gouging, especially with new events. The national average is $25–30 for a 5K, $35–40 for a 10K, $45–60 for a half marathon, and $60–100 for a marathon. Certainly location can dictate pricing, especially in larger cities with significant road closures and police support. If the event price greatly exceeds these averages, especially for a first-time, unproven event, ask yourself, “What am I getting for my money?” For events with high price tags, you’re better off to seek out events with a proven track record of performance or, better yet, find a great local road race with a proven track record for a fraction of the price.

hot fun in the summer time

a guide to handling the heat on hot summer days

Yes ladies, it is that time of year again.  The summer heat is beginning to sizzle, but your training/fitness doesn’t need to flame out over the summer months.  The good news is there are some tricks for beating the heat and getting in your runs this summer. Being informed and being prepared are keys to understanding dehydration and overheating – and making the adjustments that are right for you.  We’ve researched several different medical and sports performance sources and found some pretty ‘cool’ information we want to pass along.

Our bodies are about two thirds water. When someone gets dehydrated, it means the amount of water in your body has dropped below the level needed for your body to function normally.  In our cases with activity such as running and heat, managing our hydration becomes a critical component of our lifestyle and training.  The heat index chart below outlines how heat + humidity can add up to dangerous heat levels quickly.

In the heat, our hearts have to work harder as well.  The reason is blood volume is diverted to the skin to try and cool the body faster, which takes away from blood flow to supply the running muscles.  Heat acclimation conditions the body to become more efficient, however it is a gradual process.  Tuning in to your body and how it responds is very important.  Pay attention to what it is telling you.  Everyone can adjust, but it is an individual thing, what works for one may not work for another.  Run/exercise smart.

Overheating, heat stress and heat stroke are all conditions that can be very dangerous and heat stroke can result in death.  So, knowing the symptoms can help you recognize when you are in trouble and/or when someone else is.  Symptoms of heat problems may include abnormal breathing, intense heat build-up in the head, clammy skin, headaches, muscle cramping, feeling faint, significant nausea, loss of concentration, confusion, any loss of muscle control, unusual heart rhythm and excessive sweating or cessation of sweating.

There are other risk factors that can come into play when considering training in heat.  These include the adverse effects of many medications (read labels), whether you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, overall fitness level, lack of heat acclimation, sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption.  Talk with your medical professional if you have any other health issues, education/prevention is the key to optimizing your performance.

If you or someone around you shows the signs of heat stress, be sure and get them to stop running or exercising first.   Take them to a shady place or inside and give them cool drinks.  Help cool their body by misting with hose, cold compresses, etc.  If conditions worsen, seek medical attention. 

Running in the Heat and Hydration Tips

Think about hydration as a part of your lifestyle.  You should be making sure you have enough water during the course of the day, whether you are running or not.  Even mild dehydration can cause mood swings, dry out your skin, as well as lower mental and physical performance.   Design a plan for reminding yourself to drink enough water over the course of the day.  You will feel better!

It takes about 20 minutes for your body to absorb/work with the fluid intake.  As well, most coaches/sports experts say you really don’t need any sports drinks for activity of 45 minutes or less, however, you can adjust this as necessary in the heat.  You will need to manage electrolytes (sodium, potassium, minerals, etc.) if you are going to be out longer.  Your plan for hydration with running/training should include:

  • Pre run.  Get 20 – 24 ounces of water in you 20 – 30 minute before beginning your run or workout.
  • During your run, about every 20 minutes get an additional 4 – 6 ounces.  Consider a little more fluid and/or electrolyte mix for runs 60 minutes or more.
  • Post run recovery should be another 20 ounces of water and/or some sport drinks.  Be careful, learn about sports and ‘recovery’ drinks, many are loaded with sugar, additives and are high in caloric content.  As always, be careful with the claims made by advertisers.   

More Tips for Running in the Summer

The best plan for working out in the hot summer months is to be flexible and sensible.  Slow down when you run in the heat and get your whole workout in instead of going too hard and having the heat stop you.  In extreme heat, have indoor workout plans, use a treadmill.  Adjustments will have to be made, so use your imagination and creativity instead of complaining about “how stinkin’ hot it is!”  You can break your runs/workouts up into segments.  For instance, two 15 minute runs instead of one 30 minute run.  Do some pool running combined with water workouts.  Have fun, it’s summer time!

  • Run in the early morning if you can.  It’s the coolest time of the day.
  • Run during the evening and night.  Again, it is cooling down and you don’t have the sun beating down on you!
  • If your option (or desire) is to run in the middle of the day, try and find a route with as much shade as possible.
  • Wear light and breathable clothing.  Cotton soaks up sweat and does not breathe well, making the shirt/shorts heavier as well as increasing chafing while you run.  The newer shirts with technical fibers will wick the sweat away from your skin, allowing a superior cooling affect.  You can experiment with a technical hat as well.
  • If you are running where neighbors are watering, use the sprinklers as cooling breaks!  Pour some water over your head/body.  Use your imagination to come up with cooling ideas!
  • Be sure and know your skin and wear sunscreen if you are going to be out for a while.  Be careful and do some research here.  Some sunscreen coatings can slow down the sweat rate through your skin, producing a faster heat buildup.  We will consult with a dermatologist soon and get some advice to help you with your sun protection plans.

You have to take the soaring temperatures into consideration – do experiment slowly and easily until you are comfortable with listening and responding to what your body is telling you.  If you are out in the more extreme parts of the day, running with a friend is a good way to stay safe out there. You can maintain and even increase your fitness level in the summer months.  Many women use the summer months to back off a little, and run for the joy of it with maintenance runs in preparation for the official fall training programs.  So, pick a local 5K race to run and test your fitness with that!  Above all, enjoy the journey and the pure joy of moving your body!