JUL 5, 2023
Minute 1: Perceived exertion scales can keep your training on track
Running by feel can be a powerful way to add flexibility into your routine. For those of us used to relying on more objective metrics like pace, time, and distance, however, it can make you feel a bit like a driver trying to avoid a ticket on the highway without looking at your speedometer. Luckily, sports scientists have developed ways to take some of the guesswork out of running by feel, and it starts with learning a perceived exertion framework to support your autoregulation: “Why “Autoregulating” Your Workouts Is So Important.” Invented in the 1980s by a Swedish psychologist, the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion allows athletes to rate their effort on a scale of 6 to 20. Those numbers may seem arbitrary at first, but they’re supposed to correlate roughly with your heart rate. For example, a Borg Rating of 12 would signal a workout intensity that’s bringing your heart rate to 120 bpm. By identifying and tracking your Borg Rating during your workouts, you can get a better picture of how hard you’re pushing yourself, and how much more or less effort you need. By combining perceived exertion frameworks with health tracking tech, you can get an even clearer picture of your performance. One option to try out is the “strain” metric from WHOOP which can tell you after the fact how hard you pushed it: “How Does WHOOP Strain Work?” Strain uses your personal heart rate measurements and fitness levels to quantify the amount of stress on your body. You’ll receive a score for workouts and daily activity, and from there, you can adjust your activity levels to suit your goals.
Minute 2: If you’ve got shin splints, follow this exercise guide
We like to offer advice on a range of running ailments, but we haven’t mentioned shin splints lately – in part because we’re whistling past the graveyard. We’ve been hit with everything from plantar fasciitis to pulled hamstrings recently, but it’s been years since the dreaded pain of shin splints has sidelined us. If you haven’t been so lucky or want to reduce your risk of experiencing this ailment in the future, take a look at: “Best Shin Splint Exercises for Runners.” Strengthening the muscles around your lower legs and feet can help absorb the impact forces of running, taking the stress off your shin bones and connective tissue. Start with toe taps by taking a seated position and raising your toes as if you were trying to touch the top of your shoe. That move will target the muscles in the front part of your lower leg, and from there, you can move onto ankle alphabets. Point your leg and toe outwards, imagining your foot is a pen. Then, “write” the alphabet with your toe to improve your ankle mobility and leg strength. Shin splints are often connected to calf overdevelopment or underdevelopment, which is why you need a combination of calf raises and recovery exercises, according to: “How to rehab calf strains in runners.” It’s believed that more than 50% of the force in running is generated below the knee, which means our calves play a huge role in propulsion, making them vulnerable to overuse injuries. If you experience a strain, try using the recommended exercises with a slow progression of resistance levels to get back on track.
Minute 3: Grill the right way this summer
You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows on summer evenings – you just have to sniff out the aromas of your neighborhood’s BBQ gatherings. Grilling can actually be one of the healthiest ways to prepare food, as long as you don’t make these: “7 Common Grilling Mistakes That Could Be Ruining Your Barbecue.” One of the major health concerns when cooking meat on the grill is “guesstimating” your cook time. To avoid taking chances, your best bet is to pick up a meat thermometer. They can reduce your risk of foodborne illness and even help you avoid overcooking your meat. Of course, there’s a lot more than just meat you can put on your grill, and a good place to start is with these recommendations for “Grilled Vegetables.” Mushrooms and eggplant are perfect for a grilled vegetarian entree option for those who follow a plant-based diet. Corn, bell peppers, and zucchini make for classic side dishes as well. For other tasty ways of adding veggies onto your plate, try out some of these: “7 creative ways to eat more vegetables for a healthy diet.”
Minute 4: Walking and other active recovery methods can transform your running
Some athletes feel like if they aren’t pushing their limits during a workout, it’s too easy. That’s too bad, because lots of research studies suggest that runners improve the most when they have a balance between hard and easy sessions. That’s part of the reason why walking can be such a useful tool for an endurance athlete, and for more on that, take a look at: “15 Benefits of Walking for Runners.” You’d be surprised just how high you can boost your heart rate during a brisk walk. For some of us, it can be the perfect way to enter Zone 2 training, which is where we’ll develop our endurance and aerobic energy systems. Not only that, but walking is also a tool for active recovery, promoting blood flow and reducing soreness after a harder workout. That’s why it earned a spot on this list of the “11 of the Best Things to Do on Active Recovery Days.” You can even hit the gym on active recovery days; just lower the weight and reps you're working with to avoid unnecessary strain. Similar to walking, light resistance gym work can stimulate recovery in your muscles while giving you an opportunity to check and perfect your form. Also included on the list is roller skating, which might have you asking, “Can Roller Skating or Rollerblading Benefit Runners?” It will depend on your individual goals, but some runners have found roller blades to be an excellent tool for cross training and overuse injury prevention.
Minute 5: Quick Intervals
The transition from road to trail running can be quite demanding, both physically and mentally. If you want to give yourself the best chance of switching over seamlessly, it can help to familiarize yourself with the sport’s jargon. Luckily, we found a list of just about every term you’ll need to know: “The A to Z Glossary to Trail Running.”
There’s been a long standing debate on runners and knee health. Some think that running increases your chance of arthritis and injury, while others swear it actually protects your joints. Like most debates, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, and it has a lot to do with your individual strengths, weaknesses, and circumstances. If you want an in-depth look at the effect of running on your knee health, you can read: “Should I worry about running damaging my knees?”
Will having a serious attitude toward your training get you seriously impressive results? Probably, but it’s not the only way to approach things. There’s something to be said for keeping it casual, since having fun with your workouts is an excellent way to keep you coming back for more. That’s why some folks recommend mixing it up by setting a goofy goal every now and then, and to see how to do it, check out “We Should All Be Setting More Silly Fitness Goals.” For example, you could set a goal of running around your neighborhood until you see at least three cute dogs; or passing through a certain number of parks on your run.
Minute 6: Daily Inspiration
Anyone who’s been running long enough knows that you’ll have to put blood, sweat, and tears into your craft if you want to reach your full potential. We sure hope it's mostly sweat, and less of the other two, but every once in a while, cuts and scrapes are inevitable. Ultra runner @sylvianordskar knows that all too well, as she took quite a tumble during the Marathon du Mont-Blanc and ended up looking like the victim in a slasher film. Despite her injuries, Sylvia crossed the finish line with a big smile on her face, earning a 5th place result and our utmost respect for her dedication to the sport. The next time we are hurting mid race, we’ll try to follow in Sylvia’s footsteps, smiling through the pain.