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Take Your Running to the Next Level with RunKNOX

RunKNOX Training Group

We hear it all the time: “I don’t need to pay someone to tell me how to run. It’s easy and I can do it for free.” Yes, running can be an individual activity. I enjoy solo running as much as the next person, but when it comes to setting big, bold goals, joining a training program provides significant advantages.

Why do runners need a coach?

  • Our coaches are runners just like you. We’ve been there and love to share what we’ve learned through personal experience. We’ll literally be there every step of the way. Want some help hitting your paces? We’ll run with you!
  • Our coaches are certified and educated. We understand the physiology of exercise and we design workouts to specifically elicit changes at the cellular level. Nothing is arbitrary as every run has a specific purpose. We follow a systematic approach to incrementally change you from the inside out. We know when to push you harder and often more importantly, when to reign you back in.
  • With a coach, comes a team. We work with a wide variety of clients from walkers to Boston Marathon Qualifiers. Whatever your background, you’ll have an entire support network to help optimize your training. Joining RunKNOX might be the step that takes your training to a new level.
Early morning track workouts

What is RunKNOX?

  • The Knoxville Track Club’s coach led training program. We work to reach individual goals in a group setting. Upon joining, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire so the coaches understand your background, experience, injury history, and future goals. You’ll get personalized training pace recommendations based off of a time trial, or recent race performance. We meet as a big group and split up into small groups of individuals of similar ability. You’ll run at your personal pace, but within the group setting. Team camaraderie and group accountability are powerful tools that we utilize regularly.

What do you train for?

  • Most participants are targeting KTC’s big seasonal events such as Pigeon Forge 13.1/5k (Fall), Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon 26.2/13.1/Relay/5k (Winter), Expo 10k/5k (Spring), and Fireball 5k/Carter Mill 10k/Pigeon Forge 8k (Summer).
  • We’re happy to program for any race that you wish to run. For example, we recently had folks participating in the CrossKnox 15k, Air Force and Chicago Marathons, multiple trail races, and Baltimore 13.1. Indianapolis, Chickamauga, Secret City, Philadelphia, Cali International, and Kiawah are coming up next.
  • Some participants don’t race. They are simply involved for the accountability and social support.
RunKNOX Yoga at Physio Lab

What does a RunKNOX membership cost?

  • Just $10/week. It’s a steal. One random drop-in yoga class in Knoxville will cost you at least 10 bucks. KTC is a nonprofit and RunKNOX is here as a service to the community, so we work hard to keep costs down. We have multiple discounts available and a scholarship program as well. If you need some help, just ask!

What does membership entail?

  • Weekly detailed Training Program via email plus regular access to 3 coaches
  • Monday Evening Core Workout 6:15 pm at The Long Run
  • Tuesday Evening Quality Run (intervals/tempo/hills) 6 pm at Tennessee Sports Medicine Group
  • Wednesday Morning Quality Run (same as Tues night) 5am at West High School
  • Wednesday Evening Quality Run (same as Tues night and Wed morning) 5:30 pm at Melton Lake Park in Oak Ridge
  • Thursday Evening Yoga 6:15 pm at PhysioLab
  • Saturday Morning Long Runs (time and location vary by season)
RunKNOX Core Workout at The Long Run

My question back to those of you who don’t train with a coach and/or in a group: Why aren’t you plugged into a program? For the cost of going out to eat once per week, you can get a full week’s worth of coach led training within a fun, supportive team. If you have questions, give me a shout and I’ll be happy to chat!  

Coach Scott Schmidt, RunKNOX

Community Contributor: Scott Schmidt, Head Coach & Program Director of the Knoxville Track Club’s RunKNOX training program  http://www.ktc.org/RunKNOX.html

Website: http://www.ktc.org/RunKNOX.html or search “RunKNOX’ on https://runsignup.com/

Email: runknox@gmail.com   

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Scott Schmidt is the Head Coach and Program Director of RunKNOX. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, receiving his bachelor’s degree in Education (Exercise Science concentration) in 2003 and master’s degree in Exercise Physiology in 2006. He works for the Department of Energy as an Exercise Physiologist, focusing on employee physical fitness testing, training, and wellness promotion. Scott is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and RRCA Certified Running Coach. Scott ran the 2007 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon to check “marathon” off his bucket list. That “one and done” marathon has turned into 20+ as he’s now working toward checking a marathon in all 50 states off of his list. He and his wife, Angie, are extremely active in the Knoxville Track Club and received the 2013 Ginny Canfield Memorial Service Award in appreciation of their volunteer efforts. Scott volunteers time by serving on the Board of Directors, Road Race Committee, and as a Race Director.

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Shoe Advice from New Balance

New Balance 860

When purchasing a new pair of running shoes, it is important to be mindful of the fact that even though there are hundreds of excellent running shoes out there. This does not necessarily mean that all of these excellent running shoes are good for specifically you and your feet. People are so use to fitting themselves and almost always do so incorrectly.  Many people do not know how a properly fitted shoe should feel.  For example, your toes should not hit end of shoe.

New Balance 1080

What to expect-

Upon being greeted by one of our staff here at New Balance Knoxville, we always begin the conversation with customers with a series of questions to discover what brings them to the store, primary activities, foot issues, preferences, etc. After the initial analysis, it is important for us to measure both feet here at New Balance Knoxville, as New Balance’s sizing tends to run differently from other shoe companies. To ensure that the customer is achieving the correct fit, we measure both feet with our Brannock Foot-Measuring Device®. Additionally, we have a Fit-System here in store that we like to use to check a customer’s arches, as well as specific pressure points that may be alleviated by a certain shoe and/or insole. We can also check a customer’s gait if we have not yet spotted signs of over-pronation and/or supination. 

If you have always had a lower arch, then a cushioned neutral shoe may feel best.   However, if your arch has become more flexible with age we typically recommend starting with a shoe with a bit more stability. For those with flat feet, we typically recommend a bit of stability or a motion control shoe, depending on the severity of the collapsed arches, or flexibility of the arches. On the contrary, for those with higher arches we tend to recommend neutral cushioning shoes, as supination can occur.    

New Balance Fresh Foam More

It is crucial for people to be educated about their feet and proper shoe  (foot) wear, specific to them, as there are many great shoes out there on the market that could potentially cause harm to their bodies even though they might be a perfect fit for their peers with foot issues. This is where shopping online has its negatives. Not every piece of information is provided when shopping online. Certain shoe brands run differently in sizes than others, and certain shoes of ours even run different from New Balance shoes. Shoes are made on different patterns/molds/lasts so they will fit each of us differently. One should not assume that they wear the same size in every model.

This analysis is just a place to start. It’s always a journey to find the right pair of shoes, and we hope that you will stop by our store for an astute analysis and proper fit. 

New Balance Knoxville, locally owned and operated since 2000

Eric Alley, New Balance Knoxville

865-539-1100

8027 Kingston Pike

Knoxville, TN 37919 

Instagram: @Newbalanceknoxville

Silly Rabbit! TRX are for kids! (and Runners)

Hannah Dooley, Orangetheory Fitness Coach

I remember the first time I walked into a gym that had TRX straps. They were hanging from a ceiling beam in the middle of the fitness studio I was in. I recall thinking to myself— what on earth do you even use those for? They looked out of place and honestly, silly! 

This fitness studio offered several 45 minute group classes including TRX classes— which seemed like a really long time to work with some suspension straps. Being intrigued, however, I decided to give the TRX class a try. 

@hiitbyhannah

At the time, I had no idea that those dangling straps would be a game changer for me as a runner and fitness enthusiast. I didn’t think something so simple could make such a huge difference in my total body strength and balance, but it did!

TRX stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise. These suspension straps use your body weight and gravity as resistance. They were actually invented by a Navy Seal whose goal was to stay in shape within a limited amount of space. The straps are portable and can be set up anywhere there is an anchor point, making them incredibly convenient. 

They help build strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, and core & joint stability.

Some other benefits include: accomplishing an effective total body workout using just the straps, as well as working your muscles from the inside out. This results in strengthening your core—one of the keys to becoming a strong runner! 

It doesn’t matter if you have been working out for years or you just started…TRX straps will be beneficial in helping you reach your goals!⠀⠀

Here’s a quick TRX strap workout for you to try:

3-5 Rounds 

TRX Row x 10

TRX Chest Press x 10

3-5 Rounds 

TRX Squat x 10

TRX Hamstring curl x 10

3-5 Rounds

TRX Mountain Climber x 10 (ttl) 

TRX Pike x 10 

@hiitbyhannah

I’ll leave you with a few tips: 

•The closer you stand to the anchor point with your feet, the more challenging it is. If you need an option, either walk your feet further away from the anchor point or widen your stance. 

•When performing your row and chest press, make sure your body stays in perfect plank position throughout every rep. 

•To add an extra challenge in this workout, change the squats to jump squats. 

My hope is that you give TRX workouts a try & begin utilizing them to make you a stronger and a better runner! 

Improvement starts today! 

Hannah Dooley 

HIIT by Hannah

IG & FB: hiitbyhannah

NASM CPT & WLS

Orangetheory Bearden Coach 

Patience in the Process

Patrick Thomas Gildea, Director/Head Coach for the Knoxville Distance Project

One of the more beloved anthems in the Grateful Dead arsenal is “Shakedown Street” and it can be a metaphor for increasing mileage and building endurance from the beginner to the advanced runner. Bear with me here… In a similar fashion to way the original jam kings took their time, improvising and delicately maneuvering their way through each song until the final note was played, you can find a like-minded approach to your own running. A verse in the song states, “Maybe you had too much too fast,” and if you take that into consideration and place in the context of your own running when making a jump training it makes total sense. You can’t simply add more miles all at once. You’re headed down a slippery slope or facing uphill battle – whichever way you look at it. If you read in between the notes of the song, really, it speaks about patience.

I think, as runners, the most important lesson we can take away from training is always practicing patience. Success doesn’t occur overnight. Sure, we’d all love to feel great each day, have our best workout or set a PR in every race we run. It’s not practical though. Taking a long-term approach to training, making adjustments with your coach, if you have one, along the way can prove to be very valuable if you want to reach and exceed your goals. Understanding where you are and where you want to go is important.

“Sure don’t know what I’m going for, but I’m gonna go for it for sure.”

Whether you’re starting out on Barren Ground or you have more than a few races under your belt, there’s no good advice in being Runaway Jim and Throwing Stones to the wind when increasing your training load. If you train appropriately and manage each day accordingly, you too, can Run Like An Antelope. Taking a cautious approach and being mindful that your body can handle an amount which is appropriate for where you are is a safe approach. Some things to consider when increasing mileage and building your endurance:

  • Recovery – Make sure that you are adequately rested before you head out on your next run. In order to run more and build that base, it is imperative that you stay healthy, minimize injury and recovery is the major component. Foam roll, stretch, strength and conditioning – all keys to recovery and injury management.
  • Consistency – A simple way to increase mileage and build endurance is to get out and run. Add to the frequency at which you run while making sure that you’re taking each run easy and not pressing. Your body responds to stress. It’ll learn to manage it. A soft, easy, short run has benefit. Get out and go!
  • Pace/Effort – Take your time. There’s no point in rushing your way to success. Working your way through training “on feel” can be a good way to progress from one step to another. Simple checks along the way; using a sliding scale of effort can be beneficial.
  • Focus – On the details. Feel things like rhythm, cadence, breathing, form. Get to know them well. Having a joyful approach to your training as opposed to having to hit a desired amount of mileage. Mileage is just a number. Time well spent can be seen as much more valuable.
  • Mileage/Minutes – Whether you go by one or the other, take it slowly. It’s not practical to go from a 5 mile run to a 15 mile run. When increasing, be mindful on the physicality of the run. For someone just starting out, allow your body to adapt for about a month before making an increase in mileage.

We all wish we had the exact answer, that Estimated Prophet appearing and telling us everything will be okay. The reality is that when you’re putting together a training program you want a philosophy Built to Last. There’s more than one bridge that leads Across the River. Take your time, there’s Pastures of Plenty and if you set out in believing that – you will find success.

Patrick is a Tennessee graduate where he was a standout distance runner for the Vols. He competed professionally and qualified for two IAAF World Championships in cross country and half-marathon. He’s run PR’s of 14:01 for 5k, 28:38 for 10k and 63:43 for the half-marathon. He’s coached runners of all ages and ability. Patrick is the Director/Head Coach at Knoxville Distance Project where he values training with balance, structure and flexibility. You can contact him at knoxdistanceproject@gmail.com.

Postpartum Running: Make Breastfeeding and Running Coexist

Community Contributor: Whitney Heins, Founder of Mother Runners, Knoxville, TN

Whitney Heins, Founder of @themotherrunners

Know what breastfeeding babies don’t seem to mind? Sweaty boobs! Know what they do mind? A mama who isn’t around to feed them whenever they want because she’s out running.

I got into good routine with my kids while breastfeeding—nurse, run, and nurse immediately afterwards again. But there were plenty of runs cut short or full or worry as I left my mama-loving babies at home.

Indeed, breastfeeding can pose a big challenge for Mother Runners. First, there’s the gargantuan-sized chest that can make a light jog pretty uncomfortable. Then, there’s the baby who wants to cluster feed and goes ballistic when mom’s chest isn’t nearby. Honestly, I never needed a run more than while nursing my children which also happened to be the toughest time to have that escape..

I asked other Mother Runners how they survived breastfeeding and running. Here are their best tips.

Get the right support. Chances are, your prepartum sports bra isn’t going to fit your postpartum chest. You need more support and room. Our Mother Runners loved this Motherhood Maternity racerback nursing bra. In fact, they wore it running, under outfits and to sleep. They also liked Lululemon’s Enlite bra for its support and comfort..

Nurse or pump first. Empty those bad boys before you go. In a perfect world, you can feed your baby and have a nice three-hour window to run. Maybe even have time to stretch, shower and drink a smoothie afterwards (!). But sometimes babies don’t play by our rule book. They don’t want to wake up for a good feeding or you don’t want to wake them up because you just got them to sleep. For those times, pump and have fresh milk ready for your partner to give to your baby should they get hungry when you’re out.

Stay close to home. But then there are those babies who won’t take the bottle. (My daughter was one no matter every trick in the book we—and professionals—tried). For those babies, stay near so you can run back if needed. Surely, this isn’t ideal. By the time you get home and do a feeding, your window to run is likely gone. When frustration mounts, remind yourself this won’t be the situation forever. Running will be there for you after you’re there for your baby.

Recruit your husband to your team. One Mother Runner’s husband would kill me if he knew I was sharing this story—When confronted with a screaming baby, he put on his wife’s pink fuzzy robe that she wore while nursing—and lo and behold, the baby settled! Another Mother Runner’s husband would take their baby boy to the track and jog with him while the mama did speedwork. That way she was close by if needed. Her husband preferred this option to being home with a hysterical baby. In fact, the baby’s attachment to mama became a good excuse for the husband and wife team to exercise together.

Take cover. I would often run with my baby in the BOB stroller where I stored a nursing cover and blanket. During those cluster feeding stages, I’d stop and nurse my kids under a tree or on a bench, and then keep running. It wasn’t the best workout—but I’d make up for it during those times she wanted OUT of the stroller and I would have to book it home (spontaneous speedwork!).

Pack your equipment. One Mother Runner would pack a hand pump with her in case she needed to express milk while running (like if a baby only fed on one side during a run). (Check out this Mother Runner who set a world record in an ultra-marathon and pumped milk for her baby along the way. Incredible.) Another Mother Runner got an adaptor for her breast pump so she could pump in the car on the way to her starting point.

Feed, run, repeat. For those of you ready to race while still nursing—you’re a badass—and be prepared to sandwich that race in between feeding sessions: breastfeed, warm-up, race, breastfeed, cooldown.

Then take a nap. A loooong nap.

Whitney Heins is the founder of The Mother Runners, a place where moms who run or want to run can find information and inspiration to chase their dreams. Whitney is a former journalist who works from home with her two small children. She is currently training to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon this fall. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @themotherrunners

How to Start Running After Having a Baby

Community Contributor: Whitney Heins, Founder of Mother Runners, Knoxville, TN

**article originally published at SHEKnows.com

Jogging Stroller with mom’s hand secured in the safety strap

You know what every new mom has in common? A desire to lose the baby weight fast!

There are few quicker ways to shed those extra pounds than running. But because of the changes in our bodies, we have to be careful when we start running after having a baby. Jump in too quickly and we could get seriously hurt—not ideal when you’re trying to care for a tiny human.

Here’s your how-to guide to start running after having a baby:

Train smart.

Pace yourself. Running coach and founder of Knoxville Endurance Bobby Holcombe says every recovery is different but generally advises to start slow—walking the first 3-4 weeks, increasing your distance each week. After 4-6 weeks, if you feel comfortable with walking, you can jog a couple days a week, gradually increasing mileage, pace, and the number of days you run. Holcombe notes women who remain active during their pregnancies, jogging and/or walking 3-5 days a week, generally have a faster recovery.

Listen to your body. If something feels really uncomfortable, don’t force it. Back off for a couple days and try to ease back in again. If something’s really hurting, talk to your doctor. Running could be shedding light on an injury.

Listen to your heart. Don’t pay attention to paces. Instead, pay attention to your heart rate zones. In the beginning, aim to keep your heart rate at 60-71% percent of your max, or a pace where you can comfortably hold a conversation. (To calculate your heart rate zones, check out this calculator.) Once you’re gaining in fitness, you can begin having a couple up-tempo runs a week where your heart rate reaches 78-81% of your max.

Fuel right.

Up your iron. What’s the biggest mistake new moms make? They cut back calories while simultaneously upping mileage—that’s a recipe for injury, says local nutritionist Betsy Johnson. In order to be healthy and energized, new moms need to focus on eating the right foods, like those containing iron. In fact, one in five women is iron deficient. Focus on eating iron-rich foods like meats, fish, leafy greens, and chocolate.

Drink that milk. Be sure to get enough calcium—especially those of you who’re breastfeeding which requires extra calcium intake. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that women who breastfeeding consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. Ask your doctor if it’s a good idea to take a calcium supplement.

Shake up that protein. Breastfeeding moms also need to make sure they’re getting enough protein. After growing a baby for 9 months and then supplying it with protein-rich breast milk, it’s necessary to replenish your own. Aim for five to seven servings of quality protein every day.

Stay hydrated. Also, if you’re nursing, make sure you drink plenty of fluids—at least ten glasses of water a day.

Get strong.

Strengthen that midsection. Having a strong core can ward off injuries. It’s tough to find time to exercise but you can do planks, side planksbridges, and bicycles when playing with the baby on the floor. Dr. Cole Hosenfeld, a chiropractic sports physician at Apple Health and Wellness, recommends aiming for one to two minutes of each exercise three to four times a week.

Don’t forget your pelvic floor. One of the biggest risks to new moms starting to run after having a baby is pelvic organ prolapse. Guard against this by doing Kegels exercises. Jen Le Coguic, pelvic floor specialist, recommends aiming to do between 30-50 Kegels per day, doing a combination of short contractions (2 seconds) and long (10 seconds). This can also keep you from those unpleasant moments of wetting yourself while running or jumping.

Get the right gear.

Make sure the shoe fits. Ensure your running shoes fit your post-partum feet which may have enlarged post-pregnancy. If your shoes still fit, ensure your shoes don’t have too many miles on them and provide plenty of support. If the soles are worn around the sides and on the treads, it’s time to get new ones.

Get the right bra. Chances are your prepartum sports bra isn’t going to fit your postpartum chest. You need more support and room. Popular running bras with “mother runners” are the Motherhood Maternity racerback nursing bra and the Lululemon’s Enlite bra for their support and comfort.

If you’re nursing, be sure to nurse or pump before you head out the door to be more comfortable and bide more time being away from your baby. Also, make sure you get as much sleep as you can. You’re working overtime and your baby can’t drink from an empty cup. Take care of yourself!

Whitney Heins is the founder of The Mother Runners, a place where moms who run or want to run can find information and inspiration to chase their dreams. Whitney is a former journalist who works from home with her two small children. She is currently training to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon this fall. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @themotherrunners

Your Ultimate Guide for Running While Pregnant—from Mother Runners Who Did It!

Community Contributor: Whitney Heins, Founder of Mother Runners, Knoxville, TN

When I was in my first trimester with my first child, my husband ran the Leadville 100 ultra-marathon. While he was lost in the woods (literally speaking), I passed the time on a trail run—at probably an altitude of 11,000 feet. I mentioned this to Jake and he went kind of nuts—“Was the baby even getting oxygen? That was not safe!” he said.

Fair point.

To ward off future heated discussions of this ilk, we talked with my doctor who set parameters so that Jake and I both felt like running was good for me and the baby. Those parameters were—if you’re a runner, it’s totally cool—no, it’s actually awesome—to keep running while pregnant. But, do it smart.

My doctor capped my weekly mileage in the second trimester to 70 percent, 50 percent in the beginning of the third trimester, to no more than 25 percent of my pre-pregnancy weekly mileage towards the end of my pregnancy. And, he told me to always run at a conversational pace—or invest in a heart rate monitor to make sure I didn’t go above 140 beats per minute. These bounds helped us remain healthy throughout and are good guidelines for most running mamas-to-be.

Here are some other tips to help you keep moving while pregnant.

Talk to your doctor. Every pregnancy is different. You may have complications or feel different than other Mother Runners. Whatever you do, make sure you tell your doctor that you’re continuing to run so that they can monitor how that’s going for you and the baby. Also ask them to set guidelines like mine did—sharing your running history so they know what your body is used to doing.

Listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel good or feels strange. Stop doing it. And, then share with your doctor what’s going on. Mother Runners advise not to push yourself hard. This is not a time to do speedwork and long runs. (Plus there is an increased risk of injury because of the relaxin hormone that’s pumping through your body getting it ready for birth—link). The comfort zone is the place to be when growing a human. Keep it easy. You’ll get it back.

Master the art of peeing outside (or find bathrooms). I cannot tell you how many times I would have to pee (or at least felt like I had to pee) on a 4-mile run. I got really good at pretending like I was tying my shoe but instead was…well, you get the picture. Humility goes out the door in the name of comfort. If this isn’t something you want to do, plan to run near public bathrooms.

Get a maternity support belt. When the extra weight in my tummy got uncomfortable, I invested in the Gabriella Maternity Light Support Belt.It worked wonders taking the pressure off so I could still log slow miles throughout my pregnancies. Also, this is common sense—but make sure you have good supportive shoes.

Manage morning sickness. If you’re dealing with morning sickness and still trying to run—take heart. Our Mother Runners said sipping Gatorade on their runs helped calm their queasy stomachs. Dr. Cole Hosenfeld of Apple Healthcare recommends dropping your mileage by 10 percent to see if your symptoms ease.

Take naps. Your body is working overtime growing a human and chances are your sleep is interrupted by discomfort and having to pee several times a night. Heed those heavy eyes and try to lay down whenever you have the opportunity to rest.

Raid your partner’s closet. This is kind of genius—if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on maternity running clothes, consider raiding your partner’s closet for workout shirts you can wear while your tummy is housing a human.

Have grace. Your body is freaking amazing. It’s built to run and it’s built to have babies. It’s going to be changing and doing what it needs to bring a human into the world. Don’t stress about gaining weight or missing runs. It’s adapting to this major change and it will adapt again after you have your precious baby.

Whitney Heins is the founder of The Mother Runners, a place where moms who run or want to run can find information and inspiration to chase their dreams. Whitney is a former journalist who works from home with her two small children. She is currently training to qualify for the Olympic trials in the marathon this fall. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @themotherrunners

Your First Ultra: Race Prep

Community Contributor: Sho Gray, Pro Ultra Runner, Knoxville, TN

Sho Gray, Pro Ultra Runner

My first ultra was a 50 miler in Atlanta.  I had 2 months to train for it, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I came into the race expecting to run with a handheld and had a crew member waiting for me at the turn-around point.  It was simple. I would run from aid station to aid station and make sure to drink and eat whatever til I got half way, and then I would do the same thing back.  

What actually happened was I ran out of liquids between each aid station because I needed more than my handheld could give me, by the time I got to the halfway point, I was ravenously hungry and exhausted and definitely dehydrated.  On the way back, at mile 35, my legs both screamed at me as I found out I was unable to run another step and was forced to do the death march for the last 15 miles with a few attempts at getting back into running form.

So here are a few things I learned from my races when I first started running ultras.

  1. Embrace the walk.  It’s a long race, and it’s okay to walk… in fact, PLEASE walk every chance you get!  Except for the professional athletes (and they would walk when it gets too tough), walking is an important part of ultra racing.  The goal is to finish as fast as possible, NOT burn out with 15 miles left to go. Every uphill is an opportunity to recover so take it.  Once you’re at the end of the race, then it’s perfectly acceptable to begin running more often IF you still have the energy to do so. What I like to do is schedule my walking time for a flat race, or for a hilly course, identify what angle of steepness I would begin hiking instead of running.
  2. Hydrate and Consume Energy.  Make sure you are constantly hydrating with water/electrolytes and constantly take in energy.  One reason I was unable to continue past 35 miles was because I ran out of all three at one point (or all at the same time).  Your body can only digest a limited amount during the race so it’s important that you plan out your meals. What I like to do is take a swig of SWORD every 10 minutes and every 20 minutes, I would eat two peanut butter crackers.  At every aid station, I would drink coca-cola and if I’m still hungry (or if it’s a meal time) I would eat whatever I wanted to eat as our bodies ‘know’ what we want to eat.
  3. Enjoy the journey.  It’s going to be a tough day.  You’re going to put your body through so much stress… so why not enjoy as much as you can?  Having fun is what it’s all about and focusing on the mile you’re running is what you need to be doing.  It’s pointless to carry 50 miles worth of stress on the first mile and then 49 miles worth of stress on the 2nd mile and so on… you’re carrying way too much!  Instead, focus on the mile you’re on and enjoy it as much as you can. What I enjoy doing is encouraging other people and enjoy the mile I’m on with those around me.  It definitely makes the race easier for me AND the people around me.

Obviously, there are many things that make up a successful race, but I hope these three things will help you finish your first ultramarathon!  Stay strong and keep putting one foot in front of the other. As long as you do that, you’ll get to the finish line. 

Sho Gray is a local ultra runner in Knoxville, TN. He is the current state record holder for 100 mi with a time of 15:24:56! Follow him on Instagram: @shogray for running inspiration.


Don’t Hit The Wall; Jump Over It: Plyometric Moves for Forceful Strides

Community Contributor: Zo McCullough, CSCS, CPT General Manager at D1’s K2 Performance Center

Zo McCullough, GM at D1’s K2 Performance Center

It’s a beautiful morning on race day, you’ve trained for this and it’s time to begin. The starting gun goes off, your running through the course at your best time yet. You feel great until, near the end of your run, you feel a wave of fatigue and mental exhaustion hit you like a headwind. You slow down, feel irritated and your body begins to run out of energy as you realize that you have hit the dreaded ‘wall’.

Whether you call it ‘bonking out’ or ‘hitting the wall’, long distance runners cringe a little when hearing those words since most have experienced this phenomenon either during training or on race day.

But how can we avoid smacking into this non-tangible wall face first? Many runners would think that increasing their carb intake would have the most substantial effect, but it may not if that energy is being wasted on poor running mechanics.

What if, along with proper carb loading strategies, we can train your body to be more efficient with each stride that you make? That way, you can utilize your energy stores to help you push through the last few miles!

Let’s break this down, to have you training effectively for your next race, by looking at the following:

1) What is this ‘wall’?

2) Why plyometric exercises can help?

3) What plyometric exercises should I use?

So, let’s get into it:

What is this ‘wall’?

This ‘wall’ refers to the point where your glycogen (converted carbohydrate stores) are fully depleted. When that fuel source is tapped out, your body goes into a ‘preservation mode’ with our muscles and even our brain. That is why, when you hit this stage, negative thoughts may sprint into your head like, “I shouldn’t be doing this!” and “Everyone is doing better than I am. I should just quit now and find the nearest tub of ice cream!”.

From what we described, it sounds like everything can be fixed by just adding on more carbohydrates and electrolyte supplements, right? This leads to our next question… 

Why plyometric exercises can help?

Plyometrics, or ‘Jump Training’ refers to training your muscles to produce both strength and speed effectively. Essentially, plyometric training helps you to generate force in a strong and efficient manner. The better that you can produce force in a quick and controlled manner, the better you can control your body movements and the more efficiently you will run! 

By doing this, you may improve your running efficiency (economy) (RE) and improving your RE will help you use less energy to run the same distances that you have in the past, keeping energy for what’s important, running the best race that you can!

Take a second to take in that info. Once you see the positive changes that this can provide, we need to now consider our final question…

What plyometric exercises should I use?

If you’re a runner, or want to become a runner, you should use what time and energy, outside of training, on the exercises that matter most. For your plyometric training, we need to focus on two things:

1) Force Absorption

For that, let’s work on this: 

Depth Jumps: 

* Begin by using a box or step that is knee height or shorter.

Stand on top of the box at the edge and drop down landing softly on two feet. Once you land, immediately jump up and extend vertically. Land softly again in a squat to complete one rep. • Coaching Point! Make sure to land with your toes touching the ground first and then sink into your heels before your next jump. Your goal is to land as quietly as possible! That way you teach your body to absorb force.

2) Force Production

For this, were going to use:

Lateral Line Hops: 

* Stand with both feet together with the outside of your foot on one side of a line marked on the floor.

Begin by pushing through your toes to jump both feet to the opposite side of the line. Once you land, immediately jump again to return to the starting point on the original side of the line.  • Coaching Point! Keep your knees and hips soft while you primarily make the jump through your ankles like you are jumping rope. The jumps should be quick and you should spend as little time on the floor as possible. That way we work on producing the best jump through the floor as possible.

Give these moves a shot to help you perfect your form for race day!

More information can be found by contacting our social media channels below:

D1’s K2 Performance Center: @k2performancecenter

Website: https://d1k2performance.business.site/

Coach Zo McCullough: @zo_mccullo

References:

https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20854502/understanding-why-you-hitthe-wall/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15233599

https://www.skimble.com/exercises/10507-drop-box-how-to-do-exercise

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