There is a funny saying that cross-country runners like to throw around that goes something like this: “Our sport is your sport’s punishment.” Unfortunately, this quote carries with it more than just a hint of truth – most people simply hate to run. Running is hard, it takes time that could be spent doing other things, and for many people running is painful, uncomfortable, and not the least bit enjoyable. Ask any serious distance runner, and they can recount to you the scorn they sometimes receive from friends and colleagues about the fact that they run. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that I’m going to ruin my knees, or that we as humans simply weren’t meant to run long distances (which, as an anatomy professor and evolutionary biologist, I disagree with wholeheartedly). So how does one overcome this fear and loathing for all things related to running? In this article I’ll provide 10 tips regarding what helped me the most during the first few months of my transition from being a couch-dweller to becoming a full-fledged runner.

I officially mark May 2007 as the date when I started running. When I say running, I mean really running, not just jogging a few miles here or there when I felt like it. May 2007 is when I began to really call myself a runner, when I began a habit that sticks with me to this day, and has become such an integral part of my life that I couldn’t imagine living without it. Prior to this time, running was for me, as the saying at the beginning of this article alludes to, like a form of self-punishment. I did it because it was supposed to be good for me, or because some coach at some time ordered me to do it during some practice – I did not, however, enjoy running. That all began to change for me when I began to gain weight after the birth of my two kids. I realized that I was now in my 30’s, and if I was going to take control of my health, I needed to start getting serious about exercise. This brings me to my first tip:

Tip #1 – Find a Source of Motivation For me, having children was the primary impetus for beginning my running habit. I wanted to get my health back under control, and I wanted to be able to keep up with two little kids as they grew up and became even more active. To this day, one of my main motivations for running is to set a good example about the importance of exercise for them. A secondary source of motivation was entirely personal – I wanted to lose some weight. It turns out that I lost about 15 pounds during my first six months as a runner, and that was strong motivation to keep going.

If you don’t have kids, and your weight is not a problem, motivation can still be found in other areas. My next tip for beginning runners details one of the things that really helped to keep me going at the beginning of my running life:

Tip #2 – Sign Up for a Road Race I’m extremely competitive with myself, and one of the things that initially got me running was a deal that my wife and I made to sign up for and run a 4-mile road race on the 4th of July, 2007. When I signed up for the race, I had never run more than about three miles in one go, and four miles seemed like an astronomical increase over that. Signing up for the race and paying money to reserve my spot gave me a goal to train for, and because I’m not a quitter, there was no way I was going to back out. If you’re even the slightest bit competitive (even if just with yourself), signing up for a local 5k is probably one of the best things you can do to motivate yourself to keep running. For me, racing hooked me in a way I never would have anticipated, and running races is one of my prime motivators for training to this day. It also introduced me to a whole “running world” that I didn’t even know existed. In every town there are like-minded people who run crazy distances simply for the fun of it. These people are among the most open and friendly people I have met, and their enthusiasm for running can be infectious. If you want to gain entry into this little slice of the world, start by going to some road races – I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

So lets now assume that you have some source of motivation to get you off of the couch and onto the road or trail. What follows are the lessons I learned from personal experience that I think are the most important to pass on to a beginner who has made the decision to start running.

Tip #3 – Get Appropriate Running Shoes I can’t emphasize enough how important this tip is. When I say “appropriate” running shoes, this doesn’t mean to head to your local sporting goods store to pick out the coolest shoe in the “running” section. What most people don’t realize is that each of us has a particular type of running gait. The way our legs move, the way our feet hit the ground – each of us is a little bit different. When it comes to running shoes, you want to be sure that you find a pair of shoes that is suitable for your particular gait. How do you do this? The best way is to go to a specialty running store where they will analyze your gait (usually for free) and let you try out a few pairs of shoes by running around the block. Any good running store will do this, and getting the right pair of shoes for your body and gait type will go a long way toward making your transition into running go more smoothly. It will also to help minimize any chance of injury that might arise from making an uniformed choice of the wrong shoe simply because you like the way it looks. Finding the best shoe for you can take some trial-and-error, but it is well-worth the effort.

Tip #4 – Start Slow and Run Short When you first start running, it is best to begin by running slowly for relatively short distances. Running will be a lot more enjoyable if you don’t overdo it to the point where it becomes hard and starts to hurt. So, consciously and repeatedly tell yourself to slow down. If you need to walk, do it. When you’re out on the road by yourself, nobody is going to care if you take a walk break, and if this helps you to keep running, then it’s worth it to do so. For me, when I used to run sporadically before May 2007, I felt like I wasn’t getting any benefit unless I pushed myself to the limit. This made running unpleasant, and explains in large part why the habit never clicked. By approaching my development as a runner this time around as a long-term process, it became enjoyable, and I eventually got to the point where running harder and longer was a joy rather than a chore. I found that every increase in run distance was a new milestone, and triggered a desire to go even farther. This culminated in my decision to run a marathon in May 2008, one year after I began running, and that was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Tip #5 – Track Your Effort If you need help tracking your effort, purchase a heart-rate monitor or a running computer. For beginning runners who own an Ipod Nano, the Nike+ system is a good choice. It’s cheap (Tip #6 – Eat and Drink Appropriately This probably goes without saying, but fueling and hydrating properly for your runs is critical. If you eat something (even just a Powerbar or similar product) an hour or so before you run, and hydrate well, your runs will be much more pleasant. Starving yourself to lose weight while running is counterproductive and should be avoided at all costs. Your body needs fuel to power your muscles on the run, and it needs fuel to repair any damage that occurs after you run. If you deprive yourself of fuel, your desire to run will fizzle away. One additional note about hydrating – if you run in the summer or in a hot area of the country, be wary of your hydration level. When it’s really hot I generally carry water with me. Sometimes I carry it in hand, sometimes I use a water bottle belt, and for longer runs I use a Camelbak hydration pack. Dehydration can be dangerous, and is easily avoided with proper preparation.

Tip #7 – Find Something to Pass the Time Some running purists prefer to avoid all electronic devices while running. I however, am a gadget freak, and can’t bear to run without my Ipod Nano attached to my arm (except during races – for that I go without). Listening to good music on a hard run can be incredibly motivational, and there are times when music alone can pull me through a tough patch. For long runs or slower, easier runs I like to download podcasts from Itunes or audiobooks from my local library’s digital audiobook download site. Most library’s offer these digital downloads now, and although MP3 player compatibility can be an issue at times, there are ways to overcome this and downloads are typically free with a library card. Listening to audiobooks on the run has opened up a whole new world of options for me, and there are times when I’m so engrossed in what I’m listening to while running that it feels almost effortless.

Tip #8 – Run with a Partner I tend to run solo or with my dog (who is a great running companion by the way), but many runners thrive on running with friends/family/co-workers. Having a partner helps to pass the time, conversation on the run generally forces you to slow down, and having a partner to keep you honest helps to prevent lapses in dedication to the sport.

Tip #9 – Join a Running Club Most towns/regions support local running clubs. Generally, these clubs cater to people of all levels and abilities, and joining one can be a great source of motivation. Meeting other local runners provides an avenue for learning about new running routes in your area, and they can be rich source of information and advice for beginning runners. Check out the Road Runners Club of America RRCA for information on finding a local club in your area.

Tip #10 – Join an On-Line Running Forum On-line forums are a great place to find information and advice on running. There are tons of running forums out there, so finding one to your liking should not be hard. A few examples are the Runner’s World Magazine Forums, the Forums, the Runner+ Forums, and the Cool Running Community Forums. Even if you aren’t an active contributor, reading through the collective knowledge on these forum sites can be incredibly beneficial.

I could probably go on-and-on with tips like those presented here, but I’ll cut it off at 10 for now. Probably the most important pieces of advice I can give to beginning runners are to stick with it and to have fun. As your running progresses, you’ll begin to experience both physical and mental changes that you might never have expected. Running improves the health of your body, but it also can change your mind (it’s a great stress reducer for one thing), and once you’re hooked, there’s no turning back.

Happy running

The author of this article, Peter Larson, maintains a website,, that provides information on running in New Hampshire. His blog,Runblogger, provides thoughts and tips on running, blogging, and living an active life.

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Bulletproof Your Knee

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Cycling, Duathlon, Ironman, Running, Triathlon
Bulletproof your knee

Bulletproof Knee

This program is worth looking into if you’ve had trouble with your knees while running ( lots of us do ).

Ben Greenfield is a pretty well known Triathlete in the United States and has a great program to sort out this sort of problem. It’s easiest to send you straight to his website than copy what he says in this post -> Bulletproof Knee

Running can be the most difficult thing imaginable when you begin for the first time. As you get into better and better shape, though, running becomes easier. And as running becomes easier, you pick up your average pace and begin running faster. The problem, though, is that sometimes you want to slow down and run at a more moderate pace for your easy runs, but you have trouble sticking to that slower pace. This can cause a plethora of problems, but there are a few strategies that you can use to combat the subconscious itch to run faster than a workout calls for.

Running too quickly does not mean that you intend to run fast; it just kind of happens. Eventually, running at a moderate pace becomes more difficult than picking that pace up. What happens to be a fast pace is different from person to person and even from workout to workout, and picking up the pace when you are supposed to be running easy can quietly sabotage your workout schedule.

The Risks of Never Running Easy

If you do not make a conscious effort to slow down on your recovery or other easy runs, then you are going to have problems.

  1. You will not be well rested for your next speed session or race.
  2. You will increase your risk of injury.
  3. You will increase your risk of burning out.
  4. You will suffer from a state of perpetual exhaustion.

How I Discovered That I Never Ran Easy

The first time that I consciously recognized that I was running too fast on my easy runs was in the Summer of 2000.

I was running a half marathon in Connecticut, and a couple of miles into the race I started to get sort of dizzy. It was more of a sense of vertigo than real dizziness, but my balance was thrown way off and I was afraid that I was suffering from heat exhaustion. The sensation lasted for about 5 or 6 minutes and then went away.

I did not want to risk going to the hospital, but I seemed all right once my balance returned. I decided to run the rest of the race easy and be sure to grab a couple of cups of water at each water stop. The race was a lot of fun, and I chatted with the folks I was running near as I jogged my way through it.

Towards the end of the course, you begin doubling back on the first few miles. As I came to the same part of the road where I had had problems at the beginning I began to feel the same sensations of wooziness and an inability to hold myself upright. I began weaving back and forth across the road uncontrollably. I took this as a good sign, because it meant that my issues were not heat related but environmental.

As soon as I got past where the problems had first started, they went away and I knew that it was safe for me to sprint the last mile of the race in to the finish. I got quite a few dirty looks from the people that passed my seemingly inebriated self mere minutes before as I sprinted past them to finish the race.

So how did I realize that my easy runs were too fast? This race had been at my Sunday Run pace when I was training with my team in college, when we normally went for 15 to 18 miles. Our schedule always called for a race on Saturday and a long run on Sunday, which was supposed to be at a relatively easy pace. When I looked at my finishing time for the half marathon, I saw that my relatively easy pace was at 6:47/mile.

If I was running my easy runs at that pace, then I was not giving my body a chance to recover. With an average of 12 running workouts per week when I was in season, that could prove catastrophic. (In fact, it did, as the next Autumn I got a stress fracture in one leg and tendinitis in the other.) I needed to slow myself down.

How to Slow Yourself Down

It took me a few years to find reliable ways of slowing myself down. I know how important it is to run at the correct pace for the workout, so I often employ different strategies depending upon my circumstances to make sure that I hold to that correct pace on my recovery runs. What works for me may not work for you, though, so you will need to experiment. Here are a few things that you can try:

  • Run by feel. This does not usually work for me, since my mind might wander and I might accidentally pick up the pace. Even though the pace might feel easy, my body may not realize what I am trying to accomplish and might betray me. For some people, though, running by feel will be all that they need to do to keep themselves at the right pace.
  • Find a running partner. If you can find a running partner that runs at the pace that you need, then you are all set. Just run with that person and try not to force them to run too fast. If you are conversational, then you will tend to slow down so that you can have enough breath to keep talking.
  • Sing out loud. You can sing when you are running with somebody or when you are by yourself, but I guarantee that if you are running too fast and trying to sing at the same time, it will be very readily apparent when you are running too fast! I’ll warn you that you may get some strange looks, especially if you are singing while you run alone. If you are in a race, you may also annoy the people around you. (Why are you trying to run easy in a race?)
  • Breathe through your nose. I have a breathing exercise that I do on easy runs that helps me to run a little slower when I am running alone and I do not feel like calling attention to myself by singing out loud. I will breathe in through my nose for 4 or 5 steps (2 left, 2 right) and will then exhale through my mouth for 4 or 5 steps. You are unable to bring as much air into your lungs when you breathe through your nose, so you begin having trouble breathing when you go too fast.
    Breathing in and breathing out through my nose does not work very well for me when I am running, although you may want to experiment with it. It tends to lead to my having to sneeze when I try that, which is why I breathe out through my mouth. As a side benefit, this is a great way to protect your lungs (a little) when you are running with traffic, because your nose filters the fumes in the air somewhat rather than providing a nice straight path that the fumes get when you breathe in through your mouth and are gulping air from a fast pace.
  • Calculate your pace. If you are running with a wrist watch over a measured distance, you can calculate what your pace is and adjust your speed accordingly. Just be aware that trying to do the math in your head might be distracting, so be careful that you don’t pick up the pace and try to be aware of any traffic nearby. An easier way to calculate your pace is to use a footpod or GPS device that can calculate your pace for you. The numbers may not be 100% accurate, but they will be close enough and can be pretty close to real-time.
  • Check your pulse. Your heart rate can be a great determiner of how hard you are running. If you are running at 90% of your max heart rate and you want to be running at 60%, then you know that you are running too fast. The beauty of this method is that it takes environmental factors such as hills and weather into account, as well as how recovered you are from previous workouts, so you can truly run at an easy pace no matter how fast that happens to be.
    You can calculate a very rough heart rate by finding an artery and counting the beats for 6 seconds and multiplying by 10, but it is better to count for at 30 seconds and multiplying by 2 or just count for a full minute. You may need to stop to get an accurate count, though. An easier way is to wear a heart rate monitor and then just glance at your wrist to see if you need to slow down. If you get a fancy one, you can even make it beep at you when it is time to slow down.

The next time that you have an easy day on your schedule, try one (or more) of these strategies to make sure that you run at a moderate pace that is going to allow you to recover from previous workouts and be ready for your future workouts.

Blaine Moore has been running since the early nineties, and regularly competes in distances between the 5k and the 50k. To sign up for Blaine’s Running Tips Newsletter, visit or

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Are you thinking about signing up for a sprint triathlon this year? Perhaps you’re a complete beginner just trying to decide if sprint triathlon training is right for you. Or maybe you’re a seasoned veteran of triathlons, but you want some handy tips to enhance your triathlon training this year.

No matter who you are, the Rock Star Triathlete Academy has designed 10 ways to make your sprint triathlon training productive, efficient and enjoyable.

1. Sign-Up Now. That’s right. Don’t wait until 4 weeks out from the race. By signing up right now, you’ll trigger some very powerful components of your psyche – specifically the parts that inspire you to get off the couch or out of bed and begin your sprint triathlon training. The pressure of knowing that you are signed up for an event provides intrinsic motivation (“must be ready!”) combined with extrinsic motivation (“can’t embarrass myself!”. The latter motivation will be even more powerful if you tell the whole world that you signed up for a sprint triathlon.

2. Make Your Plan. Here’s how to perfectly design your sprint triathlon training plan: a) pick the date of the race – that’s your race and taper week; b) take the 4-6 weeks leading up to that week – that’s the part where your workouts build in intensity and race specificity; c) take the 4-6 weeks before that – that’s the part where each workout becomes longer and you develop more endurance; d) take the 4-6 weeks before that – that’s the part where you hone your skills like swim drills and run drills and strength training. Voila! A sprint triathlon training plan!

3. Test. There is nothing else that even comes close to motivating you than a test. One of the biggest mistakes that triathletes make during sprint triathlon training is not taking a baseline measurement, then repeating that measurement several times leading up to the race. Try to test every 4 weeks: a 500m swim test, a 1 mile run test, and a 3 mile bike test are perfect measurements for a sprint triathlon.

4. Avoid Your Facebook Ironman Friends. If you just got back from an explosive 2 mile run, then log-in to your social network to find that your friend just slogged out 12 miles, you may be discouraged. It is very important, however, for you to realize that the individual who is training for Ironman is actually making themselves slower when it comes to sprint triathlon training. So don’t be discouraged that you’re not “fit enough”. For sprint triathlon training, you should pursue speed, and not slow endurance.

5. Consider Nutrition Supplementation. There are many nutrition supplements that can assist you with explosiveness, power, speed and recovery. A few of the tried and true aids that are easily accessible to enhance your sprint triathlon training include: creatine, nitric oxide, CoQ10, branched chain amino acids and glutamine. Don’t be afraid of supplements! All those listed here have been researched many times and found to be both safe and effective.

6. Include Overspeed Training. Despite popular belief, overspeed training does not mean that you go out and swim, bike or run faster than you normally would during your training. Instead, this term refers to neuromuscular training – teaching your muscles how to contract quickly and repetitively. For swimming, this could include practicing with a metronome. For running, you can include treadmill efforts at a pace that makes your legs turn over faster than they would while running outside. And for cycling, you can simply choose an easy gear and perform fast spins at 100+ revolutions per minute.

7. Do Plyometrics. Jumping, hopping, bounding and leaping exercises, also known as “plyometrics” can significantly enhance your sprint triathlon training performance by teaching your muscles to recover quickly between contractions and also produce faster and more forceful efforts. An example of plyometrics would include perform a series of 3×10 jumps up onto a bench or box before you go out for run, or chest passing a medicine ball against a wall for 8 explosive reps. Doing a single plyometric session at least once per week for eight weeks leading up to your sprint triathlon will make you a quicker athlete.

8. Don’t Taper Too Long. Tapering for 2-3 weeks is a “trickle-down” technique from Ironman triathletes that unfortunately will leave a sprint triathlete unfit and stale for their relatively shorter competition. Five to seven days will adequately prepare most athletes for a sprint triathlon, and seven to ten days are all that is necessary for an athlete who is performing rigorous sprint triathlon training.

9. Don’t Lift Weights On Race Week. At many gyms, you’ll see triathletes rushing to the weights on race week to get that last little bit of strength training into their sprint triathlon training preparation. Unfortunately, it can take up to seven days for your body to fully recover from the muscle tearing and damage that occurs while resistance training. In the last week prior to your sprint triathlon, stay out of the weight room and skip your plyometric exercises. Instead, focus on a few quality swim, bike and run sessions at race pace intensity.

10. Do Sugar Rinses. Although your body has more than enough carbohydrate storage to last the entire length of a sprint distance triathlon, that doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid any sugar during the race. Research studies have shown cyclists to be significantly faster and have a higher tolerance to the pain of exercise when they simply tasted sugar by doing a quick mouth rinse with a carbohydrate-based sport drink solution. During the last few weeks of your sprint triathlon training, try swirling and spitting a sweet solution. You’ll find that it gives you just a little extra energy, even if you don’t actually take a drink.

These ten rules of sprint triathlon training, brought to you by the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, will ensure that the build-up to your race is smart and highly effective. For more practical and useful tips just like this, go to

Ben Greenfield is an author, personal trainer, nutritionist and triathlete coach from Spokane, WA. He produces the popular free fitness, fat loss, and human performance blog and podcast at

Ben holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sports science and exercise physiology, and is a certified nutritionist (C-ISSN), personal trainer (NSCA-CPT) and strength and conditioning coach (NSCA-CSCS). If you are interested in asking Ben a question, or learning more about utilizing his services, simply e-mail or call 1-877-209-9439.

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