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What does cold weather do to your run?

Cold Weather Running

Cold Weather RunningBy: Melissa Farrell

Just because it doesn’t normally snow in Las Vegas, doesn’t mean the cold will not have an effect on your run. I have succumb to the stumpy leg feeling, or frozen-nose.  Temperatures can drop below freezing and can have an impact on your speed, recovery, and overall performance.  When temps do drop, it can take a toll on your run.  Freezing temperatures can slow your pace by 1-2%.  There are a few reasons this can occur:

  • Reduced muscle contraction: In colder temperatures your muscles are not able to expand as much as they would in warmer temps.  The nervous system is slower to send signals to your muscles, thereby resulting in slower muscle movement.
  • Changes in your energy used: Colder weather can lead your body to use a higher amount of energy to perform and to keep your body temperature up.  The body will use more carbohydrates for its energy source, with less reliance on fats.  Runners who already need carbohydrates to perform, will need to increase their intake in order to be able to sustain their level of performance in freezing temperatures.
  • Increased lactate production: When running in an anaerobic state (when your primary source of energy is carbohydrates), the by product of breaking down these carbohydrates is lactic acid, which can build up in your muscles.  Since colder weather promotes faster carbohydrate consumption, the lactic acid can build up in your muscles faster than your body can process it.  This can slow one’s pace and cause fatigue.

I’m from back East, I can attest to the fact that Las Vegas weather has nothing on the ice & snow we used to deal with.  That being said, I’m pretty sure I’ve turned into a big wuss and could not HANG with runners in Connecticut!  Now I complain when it dips below 50 degrees!  It has taken a couple of winters to figure out the proper attire for certain temps.  50’s: Long sleeves will do.  40’s: Might need to add a hat & gloves for this run!  30’s: Oh my gosh this is going to require pants and a some warm courage.  20’s: Well, this run has got to get done and I sure am NOT spending 2 hours on the treadmill! Layer up baby!

It is imperative to keep your body from becoming too cold and utilizing your energy stores needed to run, for temperature regulation.  Some easy things you can do is wear a hat & gloves during your run.  Not only will it keep the heat in better, but these are easy things to strip off as you get further into your run.  Hydration is another important thing to be aware of.  When your body is dehydrated, it is much tougher to regulate body temperature and keep you in a state where your runs will not suffer.  Colder weather makes it tougher to gauge when and how much you should drink, so a good rule of thumb is about 4-6 oz for every 20 minutes.  If you can keep your water from freezing in your hand, then carrying a small bottle wouldn’t hurt.  Then again, if you can always run near an aid station, you’re golden!

Winter can drive a lot of runners indoors, but for those of us who prefer the feeling of running outdoors it is important to be aware of what needs to be done to keep your performance from suffering.  Don’t let the weather beat you, bundle up and get ‘er done!

Stay warm my friends 🙂
P.S. This picture was taken a week ago here in Vegas….
yeah right, I’m not THAT crazy!  Happy running!

Melissa Farrell
Running Coach, Las Vegas Runners

Melissa Farrell - Running Coach

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Learning to Run Easy and Keep “Runners Ego” Under Control

Learning to Run Easy and Keep “Runners Ego” Under Control

Learning to Run Easy and Keep “Runners Ego” Under ControlBy: Jeremy Wallace

OK, I admit it!  I’ve been living with an affliction.  You may suffer from it too.  It affects 9/10 distance runners.  It’s called “Runners Ego”.  Have you heard of it?  It’s a condition that ensures you don’t get too far ahead of me during our weekly group runs, no matter your pace.  It also makes me want to scream “I could run faster if I wanted!” to every passing car during my easier runs, as if they’re paying attention to how fast I’m running.  It forces me to speed up and run tall any time I pass another runner on the street and make every run a tempo run on the gym treadmill.  Essentially, Runners Ego makes me want to run fast almost all the time.  It makes me think I’m not getting a benefit to my workout unless I end in a sweaty puddle.  I’m not proud of my affliction, but it seems to be part of my make-up.  Fortunately for my body, easy runs can be just as beneficial as harder efforts.

Running hard is hard on the body.  In fact, some running injuries, over-training, excessive fatigue and poor performance can be attributed to running too hard all the time.  It’s also true that the majority of your training runs should be done at an easy pace and that can have a dramatic effect on your results.  Some benefits of easy running:

1) Improved VO2 max – The maximum volume (in liters) of oxygen that your body can utilize per minute will increase making your body more efficient..
2) Increased tendon and bone development – Making you a stronger, more durable athlete
3) Muscle fiber adaptation – Slow twitch muscle fibers will grow in size and become more efficient at burning fats making your stride more powerful and delaying fatigue.
4) Increased capillary density – Capillary beds in running muscles can increase as much as 40% allowing a greater supply of oxygen to your muscles.
5) Increased mitochondrial density – The “engine” of your muscles, mitochondria can increase in size by as much as 35% which helps break down fats more effectively
6) Increased efficiency in glycogen storage and fat utilization – Glycogen, your body’s fuel, is stored more efficiently and fats used more readily.
7) Sometimes it’s fun to just go for a stress-free easy run.

So, what does “easy” running mean?  It varies based on your individual training and experience but it should be 30-50% slower than your race pace.  For some, that might mean slowing from a 6 minute pace to 8 minutes.  For others, could mean incorporating a slow jog into your route.  The benefits of easy running are the same.  Try this: Next time your out for an easy run, say the Pledge of Allegiance out loud.  If you can’t say it without big pauses or nearly passing out, you’re running too hard.

So easy running has multiple benefits, produces less stress on the body and allows you to save your harder efforts for your tempo, interval and race days.  So, why don’t we do it more often?  It’s the dreaded Runners Ego!  We runners tend to think that if a little is good, a lot is even better.  Not always the case.  During your next training cycle, give easy running a shot and watch next year’s race times drop.  And next time you see me out on the road, just remember……. I could be running faster if I wanted to:)

Happy Running!
Jeremy Wallace
Las Vegas Runners’ Coach and Certified Personal Trainer

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Las Vegas runners race giveaway!

It’s that time again!  Time to giveaway some free race entries to our beloved followers.  The Color Run Las Vegas will be coming February 22, 2014 and we want YOU join the fun for free!  TO ENTER all you have to do is comment on this post with your name, why you run, and your favorite race distance & why. Winners will be chosen at random from all comments. 

We will be doing two drawings and you can enter up to once per day to win the free entry.  Drawings will be on Sunday January 5th and another on Sunday February 2nd for our two lucky winners.  Winners will be announced on our Facebook page before 5pm PST. 

*One entry per person per day.  Prizes not claimed by 5pm PST the following day will be reentered into the contest and given away to another participant.  Please watch our Facebook page for updates and announcements. Winners will be notified via our Facebook page and can claim their prize by emailing before 5pm PST the following day. 

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Wednesday Morning Running Quote of the Day

“For us runners, the question of ‘why’ is pretty moot. Not because it may not be interesting, or important, from a certain point of view, but because we’ve left the question of the meaning of running behind. After all the questions have been asked, and all the answers given, in spite of the disagreement on essences, physiology, rationales, training strategies, trail running, road racing, i-pod wearing, mid-foot striking, turnover cadences, arm carriages, Jack Daniels, Arthur Lydiard, 20 miles a week or 100, 5k or the 50k, whether it’s really the Miles of Trials or the Trial of Miles, after all the words have been spoken and keyboards have been pounded, meanings given and ideologies subverted… After all this, we runners bend down and tighten the laces, open the door, brace for the cold and are renewed….” -Jeff Edmonds