Category Archives: iPhone App

5 Essential Stretches Every Runner Should Do

Stretching is an important component of any fitness routine. Although it can be tempting to skip warm-up (especially if you’re on the clock), you should know better. Running with muscles that are not properly stretched can result in injury that keeps you off the road or trail for days, weeks or even months.

According to Nikki Kimball, from Runner’s World, dynamic stretching has many benefits: “loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.”

Begin each running workout with a 5 to 10 minute jog followed by these five essential dynamic stretches and your legs will totally return the favor the next time you step out the door.

1. Walking Lunges

Walking-Lunges-Runners

Why are they good for you: walking lunges open up the quads and hip flexors, which are the major muscle groups you’ll be using during your run. Plus, they simulate the forward motion of running, making them a runner-friendly warm-up stretch!

How to do them: Stand with your feet together and take a step forward with your right foot using a long stride, keeping the front knee over or just behind your toes. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and lower your body by dropping your back knee toward the ground. Maintain an upright posture and keep your abdominal muscles tight. Then, rise up and take a big step forward with your left knee to get the stretch on your left side.

2. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretches

Hip-Flexor-Stretches-Runners

Why are they good for you: this is a very important stretch, especially for those runners who work at a desk all day. If you do, you probably have tight hip flexors, because they’re constantly in a state of flexion.

How to do them: Start in a lunge position (see above how to do it) with your front knee at 90 degrees and aligned over your toes. Straighten your back leg, until you feel a stretch along the front of your back thigh. Raise your arms up over your head and hold for a few seconds, then release.

3. Hip Circles

Hip-Circles-Runners

Why are they good for you: along with the kneeling hip flexor stretches, hip circles help you warm up the hips, which is key to a runner’s performance. In fact, the hips is where the hip flexors, psoas, and quads and hamstrings come in together, so opening up the joints and muscles of that area before hitting the pavement can help prevent injury.

How to do them: standing with your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart, rotate your hips in circles in a clockwise and then counterclockwise pattern, 6 to 10 rotations each direction.

4. Calf Raises

calf-raises-runners

Why are they good for you: calf muscles are responsible for every single step you take on your run. When your foot leaves the ground during a run, your calf muscles contract to make that happen. To avoid soreness or – even worse – an injury, give them some pre-run love by doing a simple set of calf raises.

How to do them: stand on a step with your toes on the edge and your heels hanging off. Push up with both feet into a calf raise, then slowly lower your heels so that they come below the stair and you feel a stretch through your calf muscle.

5. Side Stretches

Side-Stretches-Runners

Why are they good for you: although the cause of side stitches is unclear, some fitness experts say you can help prevent them by stretching your torso before running.

How to do them: bring your arms up over your head and, keeping your abdominals tight, lean to the right and then to the left, bending at the waist. Do this movement dynamically, holding for one or two breaths on each side to warm up the muscles of the midsection.

If you need help incorporating stretching into your running routine, try our 5-Minute Stretch for iOS! This app takes the guess-work out of stretching and makes it fun and enjoyable.

How to Keep Running During Vacation

The long-awaited vacation days are around the corner. But a few days away from home also means being away from your regular training routes, training buddies, and training routine.

But there is no need to sacrifice your running while you get some rest and relaxation. In fact, training at a new location can improve your performance and versatility, while you might meet some of the area’s friendliest runners.

Stay on track while you’re on the road, with these simple tips and strategies:

Plan your workouts

Plan Your Workouts

The biggest obstacle to training while on vacation is time. So, as you map out your sightseeing plans, you should also spend some time scheduling your workouts. Ideally, you’ll end up with a plan for how your training works into your vacation schedule.

If you’re training for a half or full marathon with one of Hal Higdon’s plans, you may want to plan your training so that your vacation corresponds with a “stepback” week.

Do your research before you leave

Plan and map your running routes, along with the top attractions and restaurants that you can’t miss at your vacation destination. Check out sites such as Map My Run or Trails.com for running routes at your vacation locale.

Make sure you have a few running routes in hand in case some routes you mapped aren’t suitable. By doing so, you won’t feel as concerned about running at your destination once you arrive.

Find a running buddy

Find a Running Buddy

Will you be traveling with others? Scope them out to see if there are any runners in the group. If you’re not lucky, you can still register at sites such as Athlinks and SeriousRunning or find a running club that you can join during your stay – RRCA is the place to start looking.

Running specialty shops are also a great resource for out-of-town runners. Not only can they provide useful information about running routes, but they may even offer a free group run that you can join.

Find a local gym

If you’re not 100% sure the running routes you found are safe, opt for the treadmill. Most larger hotels have a gym on site. But if the one you’re staying at doesn’t, try to find one locally where you can work out. Some gyms offer day guest passes or an inexpensive 30-day membership that will allow you to keep your training on track.

Enter a race

Entering a race is a great way to see the sights and guarantee that you’ll run at least once during your stay. Search on sites such as runnersworld.com’s Race Finder to see if there’s a race during the time you’ll be staying at your destination.

Take advantage of cross-training

cross-training-vacation

When you’re on vacation, you may end up doing activities that aren’t part of your usual exercise routine, but that can be great substitute for your run. Is there a great hike or a bike ride you can take? Can you go kayaking, surfing or swimming? Don’t feel pressured to run every day and do one of those cross-training activities, instead.

 

If you end up not having the time to run while on vacation, don’t beat yourself up over it. Enjoy the relaxing days! Your body and your mind will thank you!

Introducing the RunningTrax app

Guest post by J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. Founder of FitnessTrax, Inc. and creator of the RunningTrax System

Editor’s Note: We are very excited to announce RunningTrax, an app we’ve been working on for the past year in partnership with Dr. J. Gerry Purdy of FitnessTrax, Inc. Most training plans will tell you how far to run in any given workout, but RunningTrax tells you what pace you should run for that distance. Read on to find more about the RunningTrax app and how it will improve your training. To get notified when the app is available for download and try it free for 30 days please sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bknx8b

RunningTrax

RunningTrax™ is the first personalized, dynamic running training system that tells every runner exactly what pace they should run – day in and day out.

There are more than 200 million people in the world who regularly run at least three times a week. A few are serious, dedicated runners vying for a top national or age-group ranking. This represents perhaps 1% of the total. These runners typically pay hundreds of dollars a month to get personalized training advice: how fast should they run in each workout.

However, the vast majority of people who run regularly (the other 99%) have not had any easily available and low-cost way to get personalized advice for their workouts. They read an article in a magazine like Runner’s World or online that talks about training advice. It is helpful to some extent. But, the training advice given online or from a book or magazine has one major drawback: it cannot possibly give you personalized advice on what you should do.

Training programs, books and articles can only define a general workout recommendation because it has been impossible – up until now – to define a workout for the millions of runners all at different levels of ability. A training program might say to run three miles. That’s fine, but at what pace should you run? You don’t want to run too slow or too fast. And, what if your neighborhood course is 3.3 miles? How would you adapt the recommendation for a different distance? You can see it’s nearly impossible for someone giving training advice to the public to define a specific, personalized workout for every runner.

This is the problem I set out to solve while working on my Ph.D. at Stanford. In order to define a personalized workout, you need to be able to determine each runner’s level of ability. If you could do that, then you would be able to take a proposed workout distance, time or pace and generate a workout that is personalized to each runner’s level of ability. The hard part is to find a way to determine each runner’s level of ability.

The reason it is hard to determine your level of ability is because of a simple fact of human running performance: there are limits to what each runner can perform. The highest performances are known as world records. World records are very hard to beat because the human has limits – we can’t improve forever. When you take a large number of runners, the top performance might improve a little over decades but the rest of the performances don’t change much.

However, for each and every runner, making improvements at lower levels of performance is clearly easier than at higher levels of performance. Thus, any system to determine physiologic performance cannot be linear, where every unit of speed increase would earn the same unit increase in the runner’s level of ability.

Rather, the system that determines level of ability has to reward every unit of speed increase with a larger unit increase in the runner’s level of ability. We call this kind of improvement non-linear because for every unit improvement, larger rewards are provided.

Think of this another way. I am runner with a certain level of ability. As I improve, it gets harder for me to improve to newer, higher levels of ability. When I start off, it is easy to make improvements. But, as I improve, I will find it harder to achieve further improvements.

In order to correctly model human performance, you have to take this ”limitation effect” into account. A system has to be set up so that it correctly defines the level of ability from beginner to average to world class.

I was able to do that by referencing thousands of performances over the past 100 years and then using a non-linear formula that I created with the help of a math professor at Stanford. I used many hours of computer time to calculate the values used in the non-linear formula. This gave us the basis for the values of the level of ability for the ten most popular distances run from 100 meters through the marathon.

Let me explain a bit more about how the RunningTrax™ system works. RunningTrax™ is a breakthrough system which solves the most persistent problem for all runners, from weekend joggers to world class athletes.

When training, runners need to run hard enough to improve but not too hard or they’ll increase the risk of getting injured. Until RunningTrax™, it has been difficult and expensive for runners to get good advice on how to train. That’s why almost all running websites and apps focus on recording what runners have done rather than telling them what they should do.

The RunningTrax™ mobile app is a quantum leap forward in running training. While it provides all the standard features (including GPS tracking, run logging, music integration, etc.), the new RunningTrax app is the first system to help every runner, regardless of ability, get a personalized recommendation on the proper pace to run for every workout.

The RunningTrax app is just days away from being launched on the Apple App Store. To get a notification when the app is available for download and get a free 30 day trial, add your email here: http://eepurl.com/bknx8b To read more about the RunningTrax app please visit: http://www.runningtrax.com

Typically, it takes a lot of expert time to define appropriate workouts for individual runners. RunningTrax™ is the first to automatically and scientifically determine what a runner should do for any distance, time or pace. In addition, it adjusts to a runner’s changing level of fitness.

5 Working Out Tips for Busy Women

With kids to drop at school, business meetings, groceries to pick up, personal calls to make, a dinner party with friends, and a billion other responsibilities, how are we supposed to have the time and the motivation to work out?

If you’re already managing such a busy (and insane!) schedule, we can guarantee this will be a piece of cake, especially with our extra help!

To celebrate the upcoming International Women’s Day, we put together some simple tips and tricks for achieving your health and fitness goals, starting today!

Define your goals

fitness-tips-busy-women

Before you step out the door and start your active living journey, think about why you want to make fitness part of your life. Do you want to lose weight? Or are you concerned about maintaining your health and de-stressing while working out?

If your main goal is to shed some extra pounds, you’ll find that only a more intense and rigorous schedule – like six days of exercise a week, ideally for 50 to 60 minutes at a time – will do the job.

But if you’re looking to enjoy the healthy benefits of consistent exercise, you’ll only need to spare two and a half hours a week from your busy schedule. To stay motivated and track your progress, use an app such as Bootcamp or Ease into 5K, if you’re a big fan of running.

The earlier the better

How many times have you heard yourself saying: “I’ll do it later!”. And how many times “later” became “never”? The longer you wait in the day to work out, the more excuses you can find to put it off. The solution: become a morning person! In fact, research suggests that women who work out in the morning stick with their programs more successfully than those who don’t.

But if you’re still skipping workouts, despite all your efforts to get out of bed at 6 am, start treating your workouts as you would an important business meeting: schedule them in advance and don’t ever miss one!

Make it social

Make-it-social

Fitness is more fun when you’ve got friends involved. In fact, according to numerous researches, working out with a partner will help you stick with your goals and stop bailing your fitness commitments.

You can even take this advice to a next level, by choosing a fitness buddy with whom you are friendly but aren’t all that close with socially. If your fitness partner is a colleague or a friend of a friend, you’re probably going to feel more of an obligation to get to your workout appointments on a regular basis.

Focus on larger muscles

If you don’t have a lot of time, you should focus your efforts on larger muscles and target every trouble zone with body-weight moves.

The most effective exercises are squats, push-ups, lunges, and plank pose. Do them back-to-back as a circuit three or four times, without taking a break. You’ll see results in no time!

All workouts count

workout-home

A short workout is better than no workout at all! Even 10 or 20 minutes of exercise is worth the effort.

When you’re really pressed for time, put your creativity to the test! Take the stairs instead of the escalator, walk a couple of extra blocks at lunch or use our 7-Minute Workout app while the dinner is in the oven. These little bursts of activity can truly add up to significant calories burned each day!

How to become a Marathon Runner in 2015

At this time of year we all look back at our victories and fails of 2014 and set new goals that we hope to accomplish in 2015. If running a Marathon is on your bucket list, we want to help you cross it off in 2015!

That’s why we’ve just launched 5k to Marathon Progression Pack, an app bundle that contains the best training plan progression that will help you get to the starting line, even if you’ve never run before.

This bundle includes four apps already used by thousand to accomplish their workout goals: Ease into 5K, Bridge to 10K, Half Marathon Novice 1 and Marathon Novice 1.

5k to Marathon Progression Pack

After finishing these four training plans, you would have ran over 700 miles, spent 44 weeks training and you will be Marathon Ready.

Here’s how we’re planning to help you achieve your running goals in 2015:

Ease into 5K: from beginner to 5K racer.

Let’s be realistic. At this point, with no running experience, you’re not ready to race. You first need to build mobility and stability, while learning how to run without injuring yourself.

The best way to do this is with a run/walk interval program, such as Ease Into 5K. With our app you’ll start at a slower pace, but you will be running a full 5k without walking in just eight weeks.

This training program is excellent if you’re trying to adjust your busy schedule to a running routine. All you need is 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week to complete this training program.

Bridge to 10K: time to double your miles

Now that you can race a whole 5K, you’re ready to focus on increasing your running distance. Let’s make it 10K!

Bridge to 10K training program alternates between walking and running and is specifically designed for Ease into 5K app graduates. This training program demands a little more of your time – 3 times a week, from 53 to 70 minutes – but it will take you just 6 weeks of training to be able to complete a full 10K with no walking.

Half Marathon Novice 1: crushing your first 13.1

Running 13.1 miles is challenging. Before starting to train for a half marathon, you need to possess a basic fitness level which shouldn’t be a problem after the previous 14 weeks of training.

Based on Hal Higdon’s training plans, Half Marathon Novice 1 will get you ready to complete a half marathon in 12 weeks. To accomplish your running goal, you should run three days a week, cross train two days a week and allow your body to rest when scheduled. During this training program, you will be running two regular runs and one long run – 4 to 10 miles – each week.

The Half Marathon day is also the last day of this plan. After 14 weeks of training you’ll be able to get to the starting line with confidence, which will give you a feeling of great accomplishment.

Marathon Novice 1: you’re a marathoner

Completing a Half Marathon will really give you an idea of what you’re capable of and motivate you to keep going further. That’s exactly what you need at this stage because now it’s time to prepare for the big 26.2.

With Marathon Novice 1, you’ll train to reach this running goal in 18 weeks with the help of Hal Higdon’s running advice.

Of all four plans this is the most demanding. You’ll need to run four days a week and complete two regular runs and one long run, that ranges from 6 to 20 miles. The plan finishes with the Marathon race day and a goal crossed off from the 2015’s bucket list!

 

Download 5k to Marathon Progression Pack and get started today! Good luck with your training.

If you already own some of the the apps in the bundle, you just have to pay the difference to complete the bundle.

iOS 8 Health App Integration

I’m really happy to announce the release of the latest version of our running apps. This update addresses a few remaining bugs with iOS 8 and adds one of the most requested features by our customers: integration with HealthKit and the new iOS 8 Health app.

The Health app serves as a repository for all your health and fitness data and is a great tool to get a comprehensive view  of your overall fitness activity.

Our apps can write Distance and Calories Burned to the Health app. They can also read and write the Weight, thus allowing you to use our app to keep track of your weight or use any other weight tracking app that integrates with the Health app.

So, here’s how to setup the integration with the Health app:

  • Once you open the app you will see the following dialog:

Configure Health app integration

  • Tapping on the “Configure” button will bring the Health Access screen where you can turn ON which data the app can read and write:

Turn On

  • Tap on the Done button and you are set.

After you finish a workout the Distance, Calories Burned, and Weight (if you entered it) will be saved in the Health app, and the Health app dashboard will look like this:

Health Dashboard

If you wish to change the access permissions after the fact you can do so by opening the Health app, tapping on the Sources tab, and selecting the app from the list:

Change access settings

The new update, version 3.5.7, is available on the App Store and the following apps have been updated to work with the Health app:

Don’t Lose Your Journal During iOS 8 Update!

iOS 8 is here (or almost here)! Before updating, please take some steps to ensure your training history is safe.

While the vast majority of iOS updates happen without a glitch, sometimes an error happens during the update in which customers end up losing their workout Journal.

Our apps provide an easy way for you to backup your workout Journal via our RunHelper Connect service and ensure you don’t lose your training history. So here is a short guide for how to go about updating your iPhone / iPod touch and minimizing the risk of loosing your workout history.

Note:  If you are already using RunHelper Connect, you are all set as your workouts are automatically backed up (unless you manually turned auto backup off).

1) Backup your workout Journal with RunHelper Connect

Backup your Journal to RunHelper Connect

  1. Open your app
  2. Tap on the Connect tab
  3. Tap on the Join Now button and create your RunHelper Connect account. All users get a 30-day free trial!
  4. Tap on the Journal tab and then on the “Backup Now” button

2) Backup your iPhone / iPod touch with iTunes or iCloud

  1. See this article which describes various options on backing up your device.

3) You are now ready to install the new iOS!

iOS 8

If the iOS update process goes wrong and you end up with a blank Journal screen fear not! You can easily restore your Journal right from the app. Here are the steps to follow.

Restore Workouts

  1. Tap on the Journal tab
  2. Tap on the arrow button at the top right corner of the app
  3. Select “Restore Workouts”
  4. Select workouts to restore and tap the Restore button

In addition to backing up your data RunHelper Connect offers a lot more features like:

  • Access to RunHelper Connect Website
  • Workout Summary emails
  • Weekly progress emails
  • Ability to see all your workouts from all of your Bluefin apps at one place.
  • User Forums

Hal Higdon Marathon Intermediate 1 and 2

We’re building more plans to fit your training style. Hal Higdon Marathon Intermediate 1 and Hal Higdon Marathon Intermediate 2 are available in the iTunes App Store.

Here’s the breakdown between the two new marathon apps.

Intermediate 1

26.2_I1_1024_RFor the experienced runner, this app offers yet another step up. You’ll go from 4 days of running to 5 days per week. The main difference between the intermediate programs and the novice programs comes on the weekends: a pace run on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday. Plus you finish with two 20-milers, not just one. If you are serious about your running, Intermediate 1 may be the perfect program for you.

Intermediate 2

26.2_I2_1024_RThe gradual increase in difficulty continues. The simplest difference between Intermediate 1 and Intermediate 2 is more mileage. The app not only asks you to run somewhat more miles through the week, but you will run three 20 milers at the end, rather than two. Sound tough? It is.

 

No matter what your skill level, training for a half or full marathon shouldn’t be a stumbling block. Get your hands on a Hal Higdon app and you’ll be confident and prepared to run no matter what your starting fitness level may be. For details on all of Hal Higdon’s apps visit http://halhigdon.bluefinapps.com/

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Your Year in Review

Your Year in Review

For Connect members, we’ve made a special page highlighting your 2013 training! Check your inboxes or log in to your Connect account online to see your “2013 Year in Review” page.

We hope this year you’ll reach new distances, conquer new goals, enter more races, burn more calories, and have fun while doing it. Your successes inspire us to keep working towards creating new products to better your training experiences.

Not a Connect member? Create an account today and start the 30-day free trial. Upload all your workouts from within the app and we’ll send you your very own 2013 Year in Review. Sign up here.

Thanks for choosing Bluefin apps for your training.
Keep up the good work in 2014!

Alex, Tanya & the Bluefin Team

Introducing Forums

One of the reasons we developed RunHelper Connect is to enable our customers to connect with each other and share their running experience with the community. We are thrilled to announce that we have added Forums to our apps where you can do, just that.

To access the forums tap on the Connect tab in your app, then tap on the Forums button. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a screenshot that introduces the Forums and how to use them:

Example Forum Post

 

See you at the Forums!