How can I run longer?

As the days get longer and the temperature creeps up, we know the Spring Running season is nearly upon us! Many of us have a go-to pace, distance, and even route but at the shop we are constantly asked- how can I run longer?

Whether you want to go from 0km to 5km or 10km to 21.1km and beyond, here are a few tips to help you up mileage and avoid injury!

·         Have a plan: Avoid just lacing up your shoes and seeing how far you can run. This will cause extreme soreness and discourage you from continuing on to your running goals. Find a running program and stick to it!

·         Start slow and build slower: Build a solid running base before upping mileage. To avoid injury, each week's total distance should only get longer by a maximum of 10%.

·         Utilize the run/walk technique: When building a base running level we see the most success in runners who mix in a walk interval to their program. Start with a run/walk of 2 minutes running followed by 2 minutes walking (repeated) for 30 minutes. Once comfortable at that level begin to stretch your run interval and shorten your walk interval. Soon enough you’ll be running straight for 30 minutes!

Running Gear Essentials for the Beginner Runner

If you're new to running, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the gear and lingo that gets thrown around by the more experienced runners. You may wonder if you really need everything that they talk about, or if it's OK to start out with a few basics. If so…here are some key items you should have in your training bag:

Essential Clothing Items
First, let's talk about the necessary items. You need a pair of good running shoes; something comfortable to wear while you run and, for women, a good sports bra. These two items are by far the most important pieces of gear you will need for every single run.

The main concern to be aware of when shopping for running clothes is that you should stay away from cotton. Cotton sticks to you once you start sweating, unlike synthetic fabrics which draw the sweat away from your body and keep you more comfortable. Wicking apparel is key—it pulls moisture away from your skin, which helps prevent chafing and blisters. Tighter tops and bottoms are less likely to chafe. Now, dressing for the rain can be tricky, so try and develop a flexible running wardrobe that will cover you during various conditions.

Here are some suggestions on what to wear on those rainy Vancouver nights:
Hat or Visor: Wearing a hat or visor with a brim will keep the rain out of your eyes. For cold, rainy runs, consider adding a light beanie or headband for warmth. A waterproof cap will help keep your head warm and dry(er).

Jacket or Vest: A jacket or vest, usually a polyester blend, serves to keep you warm, keep off wind, rain, and snow, and manage your perspiration. It's an essential piece of equipment on cold, windy and/or rainy days. Use the zipper as a "thermostat" – zip up or down on the run, as needed, to stay comfortable.  

Long-Sleeve Shirt: A long-sleeve shirt made of high-tech polyester will pull moisture away from your skin, keeping you from getting clammy and cold on a cooler day.

Tights: The first level of insulation for your legs. "Classic" tights, are usually a polyester and spandex blend. Looser running pants (also stretchy, but not as form-fitting as tights) are another option here. In extreme cold, tights under pants is a good layering strategy. Underwear under the tights is a good idea; just try to avoid cotton.

So, shoes, a bra, a hat, a jacket, a shirt and some tights. Simple!

Essential Hydration Gear

When training for a race and are building mileage, hydration becomes extremely important (even in the winter). When your runs are on the shorter side, a runner's belt can be helpful to carry keys, ID or some cash in case of emergencies. As you increase your distance, you may need a belt that carries fuel as well as water. Some belts carry water bottles, some energy gels, and almost all have a pocket for small personal items. You can also opt for hand held water bottles or hydration backpacks.

For short distances, plain water is usually adequate, but other fueling options will offer a couple of advantages. Specifically, electrolyte gels and powders help replace some of the sodium and other minerals that your body loses in sweat along with water. In addition, sports drinks provide an extra energy source for your working muscles in the form of carbohydrates. Ultimately though, you want something you feel comfortable carrying and use on a regular basis.

Essential Safety Items

If you’re runnig outdoors when it’s dark you’ve got to wear some type of reflective clothing or reflective accessory item. Wear high-visibility, brightly colored clothing. A lot of running shoes and running clothes are made with reflective stripes, but for added protection you should buy a reflective belt, vest, flashing light, reflective tape or any other accessory item that will make you visible. You can even use a headlamp or hand held light so you can see where you're going, and drivers can see you too! The light should have a bright LED. Just make sure you can be seen on dark, rainy nights!

Not much is needed to keep warm, hydrated and safe on a run!  Take some time, work with a knowledgeable sales associate and try a bunch of stuff on!!

Are my shoes dead!?

One of the most frequently asked questions from fitness instructors and participants is…how long should my shoes last?  Obviously this will vary from one person to the next, but there are some general rules of thumb that do apply.

The midsole or material between the upper and the outersole is generally composed of pre-compressed foam called Compression Molded E.V.A.  It is a very lightweight material that has excellent resilience (or the ability to absorb shock and return it to its original shape before the impact).  Constant pounding compromises the resilience of the foam and its ability to attenuate shock.

The midsole also acts as a housing for such high tech materials as AIR, GEL, etc.  Yet, often with so little of these celebrated impact absorbers in the shoe, they have a negligible effect on the life of the midsole.

Therefore, the long term cushioning responsibility falls on the foam. This compression set E.V.A. has a well documented lifeline of about 500 running/walking miles.  After this amount of pounding, the foam “tires” and the resilience is significantly compromised to the point where the shoes feel like it “blew a tire”.  Often, this “flat” is not obvious until you try on a new pair of shoes and realize immediately why your knees or arches have been acting up.

But “running miles” are a poor measuring cup for aerobic activity.  So to try and create a gauge that was meaningful to fitness enthusiasts, I tracked a group of instructors who did a consistent number of high impact classes per week and who also felt their shoes were “finished” when various body parts began to cry out for help .

With this group of thirty or so instructors, we observed a consistent pattern of wear.  Here are a few examples:
a)      A person doing 8 classes per week felt their shoes were “dead” in 3 months.
b)      A person doing 4 classes per week felt their shoes were “dead” within 6 months.
c)      A person doing 2 classes per week felt their shoes were “dead” in 12 months.

So based on 500 miles worth of running wear, the reverse math meant that each class is equivalent to about 5 running miles worth of wear and tear.

Runners / Walkers can simply add up their mileage…ex.  I run for 40 min. 3 times / week... That means 3 to 4 miles / 3 times a week x 4 weeks is approximately 45 miles / month…which allows you about 12 months to do 500 miles…give or take a few steps!!!!!



When comparing aerobic wear and tear with running miles, we need to keep in mind two important points:
1.      With fitness and aerobic exercise, there is a great deal of lateral movement, which stretches the upper more than the linear activity of running.  The upper therefore may get sloppy and lose support, further limiting the life of the shoe.
2.      The impact in aerobics is concentrated on the forefoot area of the shoe.  Running, on the other hand tends to spread the impact more evenly across the midsole.

Do not change your shoes based totally on this chart!  Use the chart as a gauge, listen to your body and compare it with a new pair of the same shoes before you decide.