Category Archives: Running

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.

5 Winter Cross-Training Alternatives for Runners

Winter can be a challenging season for runners. But it also has to offer lots of opportunities to stay active, strong and fit, besides the most common option at this time of year: the treadmill.

Through alternative cross-training activities you can become a better runner by building additional strength and skills not offered by the straightforward movement of running.

Below, you can find 5 ideas that can change your training routine this season!

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country skiing is a great way to continue enjoying the outdoors while getting a complete workout. In fact, the motions and muscles used in cross country skiing are almost the same used in distance running.

Cross-country skiing works not just your lower body, but also your core, back, arms and shoulders and it helps building aerobic endurance with very little impact on the joints and tendons.

Many state and local parks and even some golf courses have trails to ski on. But if you prefer to move this activity inside, you can buy skiing on a gym machine.

Snowshoe Running

Running on snowshoes is a great alternative to your outdoor workout, but it takes some practice when you do it for the first time.

If done on a regular basis, it builds aerobic fitness and strength during the winter months. And once you’re back to regular running again, it will feel much easier by comparison.

Always keep in mind that snowshoe running is much harder than running on hard pavement. So instead of becoming frustrated and feeling out of shape, remember that it’s a different workout than road running.

Ice Skating

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great addition to your workout routine and you can transform it into a social event and ask your family and friends to join you. This fun exercise will work your glutes, hips and core-areas we sometimes ignore during our runs.

At this time of year, it’s usually very easy to find a place to ice skate nearby.

Aqua Jogging

Aqua jogging is the same as running in the water and it is usually discovered by runners only after they get injured.

The water’s resistance affects your whole body, developing strength in your legs, back, shoulders, core and arms. It’s also great in boosting fitness and adding a non-impact element to your training.

Find a place in the pool where your feet can’t touch the ground and don’t forget to warm up and cool down for at least 5-10 minutes before and after.

Spinning

Spinning

There are several reasons why you should try cycling. It is non-impact sport, therefore easy on the joints, develops your aerobic capacity, improves stride cadence and builds strength in your quads, calves, hips and butt.

Many fitness clubs offer classes and equipment to help you achieve cycling fitness throughout the year, but if you’re not a big fan of gyms, you can always opt to do it at home.

Is your favorite cross-training activity on the list? If not, tell us how you keep fit during the winter months.

7 Tips to Improve Your Treadmill Running

A couple of weeks ago, we shared some tips for running in cold weather. Back then, the freezing temps were not stopping us from hitting the road, but recently the cold weather and the icy roads convinced us to move our workout to the treadmill.

We bet some of you are already doing your runs indoors, so we decided this would be the perfect timing to share some tips to make your treadmill running more effective, enjoyable, and safe!

Remember: you can still use your Bluefin apps when you’re working out on the treadmill!

Treadmill running

Choose the right treadmill clothes and running shoes

Because the temps indoors are higher, you’re likely to sweat a lot on the treadmill. Keep a towel handy, consider wearing lighter training clothes – such as a well-fitted technical T-shirt and a quality pair of shorts – and a sweatband or wristbands to catch excess sweat.
Even though the treadmill belt is a softer running surface, you can wear your regular running shoes, as long as they are clean. But you might be more comfortable wearing lighter, less cushioned footwear.

Hydrate during your run

When you’re running on the treadmill there’s little air resistance to help to keep you cool. Therefore, you can lose more water running on a treadmill then you would if you were running outdoors. To maintain good hydration levels, keep within your reach an easy to use waterbottle that you can operate with just one hand.

Don’t forget to warm up

It’s very tempting to just jump on the treadmill and start working out at your set pace. But you should allow time for a warm up to help make your workout as safe and effective as possible. To warm up right, walk or run at a slow, easy pace for 5-10 minutes.

Use incline to your benefit

Running on a flat treadmill (incline at 0%) is very similar to running down a slight decline on the open road. Since there’s no air resistance while running indoors, you should set the treadmill inclination to 1 – 2% to better simulate outdoor running.

But if you want to challenge yourself by increasing your base incline amount, avoid setting the incline to more than 7% – this may lead to Achilles tendon or calf injuries – and running at an incline of more than 2% for your entire run.

Always mind your posture

When running on the treadmill, try to maintain the posture you would have if you were running outside, by keeping your arms away from the handrail or console and at a 90 degree angle.
Also, the treadmill tends to pull your feet backward, so you’ll need to pull your feet from the belt before they are driven away in order to keep your body upright.

Focus on improving your stride count

Paying attention to your stride will help you to minimize the impact transferred to your legs and run more efficiently. In fact, elite runners can run about 180 steps per minute.
It’s very easy to determine your stride count. Just count how often one foot hits the belt in a minute and then double that number.To improve your stride count during your run, keep your stride quick and short, and your feet close to the belt.

Don’t forget to cool down

As it is tempting to skip the warm up, it’s also easy to hop off the treadmill when your workout is done. But if you want to prevent dizziness or the feeling that you’re still moving when you step off the treadmill, you should allow about 5 minutes to cool down. Before you get off the treadmill, do a slow jog or walk at the end of your run to allow your heart rate to go below 100 bpm.

Did you also stop running outdoors and start running on the treadmill? How did it affect your training plans?

6 Tips for Running in Cold Weather

Falling temperatures and fewer daylight hours indicate winter is almost here. But they are definitely not an excuse to quit your outdoor running routine. In fact, running in cold weather will help you feel better, boost your energy level, and lose the unwanted weight before the bathing suit season.

Stay healthy and follow these ground rules to ensure your safety and boost performance this winter:

1. Dress in thin layers and choose the right fabrics

Running in the cold

When you’re running or moving at full intensity, you feel 20 degrees warmer than your starting temperature. So, when you’re dressing to hit the road, you should choose clothes that keep you warm without overheating and chilling.

Consider wearing several thin layers of clothing, starting with a layer of synthetic material such as polypropylene, which wicks sweat from your body. Avoid wearing cotton because it holds the sweat and will keep you wet.

The right outer layer should help protect you against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture. A breathable layer of nylon or Gore-Tex will do the job!

2. Protect your extremities

About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head and 30% escapes through your hands and feet.

When you’re running in low temperatures, make sure you always wear a snug-fitting hat, gloves mittens and wool socks that wick moisture away.

3. Run into the wind

Running during winter

To avoid catching a chill when you’re sweaty, start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back. You can even break this into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes, turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeating.

4. Be visible

With limited daylight, it’s more likely that you’ll be running in the dark during the winter. If you can, avoid running in such conditions. But if you have to run at night or early in the morning, wear reflective and fluorescent gear and dress in bright colors, specially if the landscape is covered in snow.

5. Take it easy and forget speed

When running in the cold, you’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle. On such conditions, warm up slowly and run easy.

If you prefer to run in the morning or in the evening, when the temperatures are much colder, try doing it twice a day instead of doing one long run where you might get very cold toward the end.

6. Change quickly after a run

As soon as you stop a physical activity, your core body temperature drops. The same happens if you get wet from rain, snow, or sweat. To avoid chilling or even hypothermia, change to some dry clothes – including socks, gloves and hat – as soon as you can and get warmer at a shelter with a hot drink.

Do you run outside in cold temperatures? Share your own safety tips for cold weather running in the comments below!

 

5 Good Reasons to Start Running Today

Running is considered as one of the most complete workouts. It’s not only good for your body, but it also helps you to improve your mood and clear your mind.

If you’ve been thinking about lacing up and you’re looking for some extra motivation to get off the couch, read on for 5 wonderful reasons to start running today.

#1 It’s so easy to start running

Start running today

There’s no exercise more natural than running. And starting couldn’t be simpler! All you need is a good pair of sneakers and comfortable workout clothes to get out there and run.

Yet, if you’ve never hit the road before, you’ll want to do it slowly. By starting at a fast and uncomfortable pace, you risk injuring your body and losing your motivation.

Therefore, to get all the health benefits that running has to offer, be sure to choose the right training plan. If you’ve never run before, start today with our Ease into 5K app.

 

#2 Running can prevent disease

As you already know, an active lifestyle helps you live a more healthy and disease-free life.

In fact, many studies have shown that regular exercise helps to prevent cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Also, regular joggers tend to have a lower blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, and a strong immune system.

And the health benefits of running don’t end there. Your regular runs reduce the risk of vision loss, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

 

#3 Running makes you feel better

Running eases depression and anxiety

Ever wondered why you feel much better after working out?

When you’re running, your brain releases endorphins and neurotransmitters that can instantly lift your mood. It also lowers the hormones that can contribute to depression. In fact, mental health experts use running to help treat clinical depression and other psychological disorders such as drug and alcohol addiction.

But that’s not all. Researchers found that just 30 minutes of running could boost sleep quality and concentration during the day.

 

#4 Running helps you lose weight

You know – and feel – that you’re burning calories while you’re running. But did you know that, from all those gym staples, the treadmill is the one that helps you blast the more calories?

According to the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center, the treadmill (used at a “hard” exertion level) torched an average of 705-865 calories in an hour.

Also, regular exercise boosts “afterburn”, which is the number of calories you burn after exercise. This happens when you’re running a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than your fastest pace.

 

#5 Running can add years to your life

Running helps you live longer

According to experts, all you need to do to add years to you life is work out 2.5 hours a week (30 minutes, 5 times per week). Studies show that people who meet just this amount of physical activity are 19 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who don’t exercise.

You don’t even have to run at fast speeds! So, even if you’re currently out of shape, you should be able to run, live longer and healthier!

5 Myths of the Marathon by Hal Higdon

Are some of the assumptions about our favorite race flat-out false?

Several weeks before this year’s Boston Marathon, an editor at a large East Coast newspaper approached me with an assignment to contribute to the paper’s weekly “Five Myths” feature: Five Myths About Easter; Five Myths About Mount Everest; Five Myths About The Oscars, etc. The editor wanted me to write: Five Myths About the Boston Marathon Bombings.

The assignment would have provided good exposure for my latest book, 4:09:43but I did not feel enough legitimate myths existed around the bombings to justify a “Five Myths” feature. The Oscars have been around forever, but the bombings happened only last year, too recently to develop a mythology. And quite frankly, focusing only on the horror of 2013 bothered me. I suggested to the editor that he broaden our approach to include all marathons. The editor said, no, and assigned the article to another writer.

Fair enough, but given the opportunity to select five myths about the marathon, not merely about the bombings, here is what I might have written:

  1. Pheidippides was the first marathon runner. Despite the popularity of the story of a single warrior/messenger running into Athens after the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC with news of the Greek victory—then dying—it never happened. The story only appeared in history books several hundred years after the battle. Pheidippides is part of a legend, albeit one that runners now happily embrace.
  2. 26 miles 385 yards was the length of the first Olympic marathon. The Greek shepherd Spiridon Loues probably ran around 24.5 miles, or 40 kilometers, in winning the first Olympic marathon in 1896. Three Olympiads later at London in 1908, organizers moved the starting line back to Windsor Castle so the Queen’s grandchildren could see the race. That odd 26.2-mile distance somehow became the accepted standard.
  3. Boston is the oldest and biggest marathon race in the world. Technically, the Olympic Marathon is one year older, but is only held every fourth year and in different cities. In the fall of 1896, New York hosted a “first” marathon, but that event failed to survive. Boston is the oldest continuously held marathon, although eight other marathons, including New York and Chicago are bigger.
  4. Women will never be able to run 26.miles. A long since disproven myth, but rules once prevented women from running more than 2.5 miles. Then in 1966, Roberta Gibb ran the full distance at Boston followed in 1967 by Kathrine Switzer. Today, women dominate many long distance races. According to Running USA, in 2013 61 percent of the 2 million finishers in half marathons were women.
  5. The Boston Marathon bombings were a hoax, never happened. Yes, this myth seems ridiculous, but conspiracy theories abound around many major events. The Moon landing was staged in a TV studio, right? Within a week after the bombings, a “book” appeared on Kindle suggesting that the Boston Marathon bombings were a hoax staged by the Federal Government.

While all the questions about the terrorists have not yet been answered—and may never be answered even after the trial—this is the saddest marathon myth of all. I was happy to have turned down the assignment from the newspaper editor. The marathon has enough legitimate myths without making up others linked to the bombings.

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner’s World. His most recent book is 4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners, available in bookstores, online and (autographed) through www.halhigdon.com.

Five ways to get faster today (as told by runners across the web)

We’ve talked before about how you can perform better starting with your very next run and ways to avoid slowing yourself down for no good reason.  Both of those posts show that although most of what makes for a successful runner takes time and patience, there are some quick tips and tricks that can help you start getting faster right away.  Continue reading

Success Stories: Mark Rucker

At Bluefin, nothing makes us happier than hearing from folks who have had success with our programs.  Our users have accomplished some amazing stuff and we’re always honored and humbled any time we hear that one of our apps had played a part in helping someone get healthy or take their running to the next level. Continue reading

Four reasons to try yoga (and be a better runner)

Just like a couch potato might be completely baffled by your desire to go log miles every chance you get, a lot of runners just don’t understand the appeal of yoga.  Sure, running and yoga are both physically and mentally challenging activities that are great for fitness-minded folks, but there isn’t always a lot of overlap between the two camps — at least not as much as there should be.

Why should runners consider spending some time on a yoga mat?  We can think of a few good reasons.  Here they are!

Stretching shouldn’t just bookend a workout.  We all know that stretching is important, but how often do you do it aside from before or after a run?  Chances are, if you are stretching as part of your warm-up or cool-down, you’re more focused on limbering up or wrapping up your workout than you are with really pushing yourself to increase strength and flexibility.  Spending dedicated time working on your flexibility, especially on a day when you aren’t running at all, can pay dividends.  If you’re looking for some specific routines to get you started, there are a number of great posts over at Runner’s World that can give you some good recommended yoga moves geared towards runners.  

You’ll get stronger (physically).  Yoga is a workout.  If you’ve done it, you know.  If you haven’t, give it a shot and you’ll be sold.  But more important than the physical challenge of the yoga session itself are the amazing benefits that come along with having more flexible muscles.  Quite simply, the more elastic and flexible your muscles are, the stronger they’ll be.  If you really care about improving your strength and building speed in the real world, even a single day of yoga a week can be an unbelievable investment.

You’ll get stronger (mentally).  Any serious runner can tell you that a huge portion of the running equation is mental.  Whether you are pacing yourself out for a personal best or just toughing through a particularly challenging workout, what’s in your head can be every bit as important as what’s in your shoes.  And while running can be a great tool for sharpening your mental toughness, there’s a lot going on in the heat of a run that can distract you from learning who you are between the ears.  Yoga, on the other hand, is built around mental focus and allowing time to breath and concentrate on what you’re doing in the moment.  Give it a try and see if it doesn’t pay off next time you’re facing the wall during a tough run.

Yoga is great for preventing injury.  If there’s one thing that can separate successful runners from the pack over the long term, it’s injury prevention.  Taking responsibility for your body and making sure you don’t end up hurt is a huge part of being able to run hard year after year without ending up sidelined on the couch, derailing your training for weeks or worse.  Yoga will strengthen your core, help integrate your muscular systems, and make you generally less prone to injury.  It’ll also improve awareness of your body so that if something does start to give you trouble, you might pick up on it before you end up taking a funny step off the curb and finding out the hard way.

We came up with this post after reading this one from Stephanie Taylor Christensen at MindBodyGreen.  She’s a solid distance runner with a great perspective on yoga if you’re looking to learn more.

Race day countdown: how to prepare

“Gearing up” for race day can mean a lot of different things.  Maybe you’re talking about the ten-week training program you’re using to get ready for the big day or just your morning routine on the day of the event.  Regardless of where you are in your training or when your next race begins, we’ve got some advice to help you be as prepared as you can be.

One month out.  Depending on the kind of shape you’re in and the type of race you’re planning to run, one month can be all the time in the world.  Our Ease into 5K program gets you from the couch to a 5k in just 8 weeks, so it isn’t insane to be just reaching the half way point a month before your race.  Our shorter programs like Bridge to 10K can also do wonders to prepare you for the big day.  Regardless of where you stand, there are some pretty universal thoughts to keep in mind if you’re 4 — 5 weeks away from the starting line.

  • Have a plan.  We rattled off a few Bluefin training plans above and there are certainly more.  But even if you aren’t in the midst of a formal training program, it’s important to have a plan as you close in on your race.  At the very least, sketch out the next four or five weeks and make some decisions about how hard you want to run and what kind of distance you want to put in.  Laying it out in writing can help keep you on track and avoid either overtraining or preparing too little.
  • Hone your form.  Lousy running form will suck the life out of you on race day, making you work harder for every step and fatigue more quickly as a result.  If you’ve developed any bad habits — weak posture, short strides, tight shoulders — they aren’t going to disappear overnight.  Make some changes while you still have a few weeks to tinker with your running from.  We’ve written a couple of detailed posts about it…check them out here and here.
  • Eat like a champion.  Just like you aren’t going to repair slouchy posture overnight, you can’t fuel up your body by gulping down an energy bar an hour before your race.  If you’ve managed to dedicate yourself successfully to the healthy lifestyle of running, hopefully you’re up to eating well, too.  There are obviously tons of resources out there on the topic, but our old post on optimal nutrition for runners isn’t a bad place to start.

One week out.  Okay, so it isn’t quite race day, but you’re definitely getting close.  A lot of us don’t realize just how important those last 5 — 7 days really are.  Phoning in those final workouts or pushing yourself too hard just before an event are both common mistakes that are paid for with a slower time and a more frustrating race.  Here’s how to prepare with one week to go.

  • Find your race pace.  One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself before you hit the race course is to develop a good, solid feel for what your race pace feels like.  With the excitement and adrenaline of the big day coursing through your system, it will be very easy to forget your usual race speed and feel very out of sorts as the starting pack begins to spread out.  Using a pace calculator like this one from Run the Planet can help you decide on a goal time and training with that in mind can help your body learn what race pace feels like.
  • Taper appropriately.  Two temptations are coming to mind right now: running obsessively to prepare for your race and stopping altogether in order to rest up.  Both are mistakes.  Elite athletes know that a HUGE part of performing well on race day is managing the taper — adjusting your workout intensity as a race approaches in order to be at your best when it matters most.  Check out this post from Runner’s World for a nice overview of what your workouts might look like on each of the seven days before a race.
  • Get your ducks in a row.  The week before your race is also a good time to make sure all your paperwork is in order and that all the little logistical issues are worked out in advance.  Check your registration, figure out how parking works, and get your race day bag packed.  The last thing you need is unnecessary stress or confusion when you’re trying to focus on your race.  The more you can do in advance to get ready, the fewer distractions you’ll have.

One day out.  The day before a race isn’t really a time to get faster or make any dramatic changes to your running philosophy.  You’ve already put in the work and all that’s left is getting out there and doing your best at the fun part.  Still, there are some things to keep in mind in those last 24 hours that can help set the stage for a successful race.

  • Eat smart.  As we said above, there isn’t anything you’re going to eat right before a race that’s going to dramatically improve your performance.  We’ve covered the basics before, but the best pre-race diet advice we can give you is to avoid surprises.  Stay away from unfamiliar foods and those that have a history of disagreeing with you.  You don’t want to be feeling last night’s dinner as you work your way to the starting line.
  • Hydrate.  Again, hopefully this one is a habit, but it’s important to keep in mind the day before a race.  Keep that water bottle handy so that you go to bed at night well-hydrated.  If you’re feeling thirsty or experiencing symptoms like chapped lips, you’ve already waited too long to drink.  Grab some water ASAP!
  • Get excited!  Whether you’re a world-class marathoner or a weekend 5k warrior, race days should be the highlight of your training season.  There’s excitement, competition, and tons of camaraderie among runners, so be sure to milk the experience for all that it’s worth.  You’ve earned it!