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Shona Hendricks

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The human feet are VERY complex… featuring 26 bones and an intricate network of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia.

We constantly tell runners that strength and conditioning are important for your core, hips, hamstrings, and glutes… which is 100% true. But…

Most runners don’t focus on their feet, lower legs, and structures around the ankle.

We spend so much time running in training and doing the necessary strength work, we even take time out to plan our nutrition…

By strengthening your feet and the structures around the ankles, you can gain foot mobility and strength. It has been proven that strengthening your feet can be just as rewarding as strengthening any other part of your body.

Let’s have a look at exactly how strengthening your feet and ankles will contribute to stopping your feet from hurting while you run… 

What Exactly Happens To Your Feet When You Run

Your intrinsic foot muscles are responsible for the stabilization of your foot. 

These muscles contract eccentrically during the stance phase of running (think about when your foot arches). 

Before shortening at the propulsion phase of the gait, the arch recoils with the plantar fascia. It is here where those intrinsic small muscles of the foot are vital – providing flexibility, stability, and shock absorption to the foot, whilst partially controlling pronation. 

In other words, the intrinsic muscles of the foot are responsible for:

  • Power absorption of the foot
  • They act as protectors of the plantar fascia
  • They facilitate the way your foot transfers force from the ground back into the body

There was a study done on 118 recreational runners divided into a control group (no foot core training) and an intervention group (foot core training) over a 12-month period where they were assessed every 3 months. 

The group that did not receive the foot core training (control) was 2.42 times more likely to experience a running-related injury within the 12-month study period than participants in the intervention group. 

This study showed that they were able to reduce the risk of injuries within 4-8 months of training the foot and surrounding structures. 

I worked with an elite female South African ultra-endurance runner who went to Iten in Kenya for a 6-week training camp. She said it was an amazing experience, training in a place where running is practically a religion, where most of the best marathon runners in the world train.

She told me a story about how in one of her hour-long sports massages after a heavy week of training; the local sports massage therapist spent 20 minutes working on her feet. 

It took her by surprise initially and she asked the therapist why she wasn’t spending more time on her hamstrings or glutes…The therapist replied with a somewhat obvious “because we are runners”.

When my athlete told me about this, it was like a lightbulb moment for me! 

How do we, as runners, not spend more time on our feet and so the research began!

Most Common Causes Of Foot Pain/Injuries While Running

  1. Plantar fasciitis 

The main symptom of plantar fasciitis is pain at the bottom of your heel or sometimes at the bottom midfoot area. It usually affects just one foot, but it can affect both of your feet.

Symptoms also include pain that is worse in the morning or when you stand after sitting for a long time or a swollen heel.

  1. Bone Stress

Bone stress is what happens before a stress fracture. It involves pain, swelling, or aching in an isolated area.

  1. Stress Fracture

Stress fractures occur when there are small breaks in the bone that cause sharp pain, tenderness, and swelling.

Any bone can be susceptible to a stress fracture, but bones in the feet are the most common.

By overtraining, increasing your running load too fast, running on hard surfaces too often, or wearing the wrong running shoes you can give yourself stress fractures.

  1. Tendinopathy 

This is a clinical syndrome that often but not always implies overuse tendon injuries characterized by a combination of pain and swelling.

Tendinopathies can occur on the lateral side of the ankle (peroneal tendinopathy) or around the heel (Achilles tendinopathy). (Note: it’s not always on the lateral side and Achilles, although these can be the most prevalent)

Now that we know why we may be experiencing pain in our feet while we run… let’s find out if we should continue running through the pain and what we can do to prevent the pain.

You may have heard us mention the term ‘foot core’ before… It’s still quite foreign to a lot of runners, so I think it’s best if we dive into it…

Everything You Need To Know About Foot-Core

To understand the foot core, I think we should explain the core of the trunk.

The “core” as we know it as runners, is all the muscles in the trunk that surround the spine, this includes muscles at the back and not just the abdominals. 

The core is made up of local stabilizers (smaller muscles that stabilize the hips but do not produce a large amount of movement) and the bigger muscle groups (responsible for the main amount of movement).

Think… Smaller muscle groups – stabilizers. Larger muscle groups – movers. 

When the smaller stabilizing muscles are weak or are not recruited appropriately, the larger muscle groups will take over to ensure movement occurs. This causes the foundation to be unstable and misaligned which causes abnormal movement patterns… resulting in a variety of overuse or other types of injuries. 

The smaller muscle groups will continue to be weak and lazy, so we have to train them to work in the right way so that the bigger muscle groups don’t just take over.  

… so the focus on training your core developed. 

Your foot works in the same way – the smaller muscle groups are the stabilizers of the foot which allow for a more stable range of motion and control, and the bigger muscle groups around the lower limb control the main movement of the leg. 

If we don’t work on those smaller muscles they become lazy and the bigger muscles just override them causing imbalances and injuries.

This is where FOOT CORE becomes as important as working the core of your trunk – the body works as a chain, and if there is a weak link somewhere in this chain this may present at the source or may present further or lower up the chain as a different type of injury. A

If there is weakness and lack of stability in the foot the body is going to compensate in some other way and you may find you have knee or hip pain (as an example) and not just a lower limb injury. 

Foot core focuses on the strength and mobility of intrinsic muscles in your foot. 

We spend so much time as runners on our feet… Think about it! 

The intrinsic muscles in your foot are what regulate your speed and movement and allow for a bigger and more stable range of motion. 

We shouldn’t just focus on strengthening the big muscle groups, we should also focus on smaller muscles that will help stop or delay our feet from fatiguing.

For people who struggle with foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis, doing foot core exercises should be a very key component of your training program as it will help prevent those injuries. 

The Importance Of Strengthening Your Feet

An obvious importance of strengthening your feet as a runner is because… Well.. we run on our feet. 

Secondly,  every single time that you take a step, those small stabilizing muscles along with the tendons, all the different structures, and all the fascia has to work to stabilize that foot.  

There are a lot of forces coming through there with every single step and that is often how injuries occur.

If we start working on the small intrinsic muscles within the feet we really can start minimizing some of those common running injuries.

The running gait requires a certain amount of movement in the toes and ankle and therefore we need to start working on some flexibility/mobility there

Part of your running is called a ‘Toe off’: The toe off starts with the push and you shouldn’t land on your toe and that happens EVERY SINGLE time your step.

Think about when you run a 5K or 10K… or even a marathon or Ultramarathon… that’s a lot of steps!

How Often You Should be Doing Foot Core Strengthening

It’s been proven that at least three sessions of foot core strengthening a week is best. 

We know that just isn’t possible for the majority of us. I suggest foot core should be done daily (if you’re someone who struggles) and then every alternate day would be enough to maintain from there. (or 2-3x times per week)

In the Coach Parry programs, the foot core strengthening takes anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes so you could even do the training while sitting at your dining room table in the evenings or in front of the TV, that’s why we recommend three to four spaced out sessions per week.

How To Prevent Foot Pain While Running

We highly recommend adding some foot core work (If we haven’t made that obvious enough;)) to your training regime 2-3 times per week. 

It doesn’t need to be long, 10-15 minutes per session will suffice. 

If you’re already doing strength training… which we also highly recommend you do! 

Do this at the end of your strength work or do these exercises before you go to bed every night. 

Some younger athletes do it first thing in the morning – If you struggle with Achilles stiffness in the mornings then it’s better to do it in the evenings.

Here are some exercises we recommend you do: 

  1. “Short-Foot” / Foot Arch 
  2. Foot Intrinsics
  3. Toe Crunch
  4. Big toe lift with band
  5. Mobility
  6. Big Toe (neural)
  7. Big Toe mobility 
  8. Ankle
  9. Plantar Fascia Strength / Mobility 
  10. Lower limb stability
  11. Tib post 
  12. Eccentric SL Calf Raise 

Not even that long ago… depending on how old you are it could have even been in your lifetime… Running was a sport for men only. 

Through historical events, female participation in running grew more and more. 

There are women whose names we should not forget, women who shaped the history of running for all females to follow. 

Let’s cover some of the remarkable moments of female running history that made the sport what it is today.

The Rules Regarding Women In Running Races

In the late 1960s, there was a massive movement, of American women demanding equal rights.

This ignited a small group of women that began fighting for the right to run!

Women were forbidden to compete in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece.

Even worse, married women were forbidden from spectating at any athletic events under the penalty of death!

Pierre de Coubertin founded the modern Olympic Games in 1896 which started in Athens, in the first several games women were not allowed to compete in track and field events.

We then thought things were taking a turn for the positive…

In 1928, at the Olympic games held in Amsterdam, women were allowed to compete in running events for the first time!

But after the 800-meter event, The International Olympic Committee ruled that the collapse of a woman at the finish line meant that the distance was too difficult for the female body and banned the event. (Although years later, the film showed that the woman who collapsed was up on her feet in only 3.2 seconds)

Women had to wait until the 1960 games to compete again.

The fact of the matter was that even into the 1970s women were still being taught that running was a man’s sport. 

The Fight For The Women’s Race

In the 1970s, the Olympic Marathon was a lot more established, yet…  Women were still not allowed to compete and the struggle to establish a women’s Olympic Marathon was immense!

In the Moscow Games, the longest race for women was the 1,500 meters, which had been instituted in 1972.

March of 1896, Stamatis Rovithi became the first woman to run a marathon (the day after the (men-only) marathon).

The following month, a woman named Melpomene presented herself as an entrant in the Olympic Marathon. Race organizers denied her the opportunity to compete. 

Melpomene didn’t let that stop her, she warmed up for the race out of sight. 

When the starter’s gun sounded, she began to run along the side of the course, after a while she fell behind the men but persevered. She soon began passing men who had dropped out due to exhaustion.

Melpomene arrived at the stadium an hour and a half after the winner.

At this point the stadium was empty yet she was still banned from entering and had to run her final lap outside the building, finishing the marathon in about four and a half hours.

It would be nearly a century before another woman would run the Olympic Marathon…

Key Dates In The History Of Women’s Running.

776 BC 

In ancient Greece, young women took part in the Heraean Games – footraces to honor the Greek goddess Hera.

1896 

Stamata Revithi runs the marathon course of the first modern Olympic Games.

1922 

The first Women’s World Games (the first track and field competition for women) were held in Paris.

1923

The first woman to finish Comrades in an unofficial run: Frances Hayward.

It was the third running of the Comrades Marathon ever. She took 11:35:28 seconds to do the distance and she managed an unofficial 28th position of the 30 male finishers.

1926

Violet Piercy from London became the first woman to run a marathon recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations, finishing in 3:40:22.

1928 

The Olympic Games opens five track and field events for women. The IOC banned women from running more than 200m.

1954 

Diane Leather from Staffordshire became the first woman to run a mile in under five minutes. (4:59.23)

1960 

Huge breakthrough! The first year in history that women were allowed to participate in five running events in the Summer Olympics. 

Including the 800-meter race!

1967

Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and gained an official bib registered under K.V. Switzer. 

It is well remembered that race official Jock Semple tried to stop her while running the marathon, but was blocked by her boyfriend. 

She finished the race in 4:20. Afterwards she was banned.

1972

Another huge breakthrough!
The AAU allowed women to register for marathons. But…  they had to start at a separate time and even a separate starting line.

Women protested against this at the New York City Marathon by sitting at the starting line as the gun went off.

1975 

Women were officially allowed to run The Comrades Marathon.

Elizabeth Cavanagh finished in 10:08:00 and goes down in the record books as the first official female Comrades winner.

1977 & 1978

A major step forward in women’s running gear!

The first sports bra was made as well as the first women-specific running shoes designed by Nike. 

1979 

Norwegian Grete Waitz became the first woman to run a sub-2:30 marathon, winning her second New York City Marathon in 2:27:33.

1980 

Mary Decker from America became the first woman to run a mile in under 4:20, running 4:17.55.

1984

The first women’s Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles. 

Joan Benoit became the first woman to win gold in the event.

2002

Pam Reed becomes the first woman to win the Badwater Ultramarathon

In the same year, Rosie Swale-Pope from the UK became the first woman to ‘run around the world’ in 5 years.

2003 

Paula Radcliffe ran the London Marathon at 2:15:25, setting a world record.

2007

Paula Radcliffe became an inspiration to mothers around the world when she ran and won the New York City Marathon just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter. 

2012

Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila, and Kara Goucher won with record times 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

The same year at the London Olympic Games, a young girl f only 19 years old named Sarah Attar became the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete in an Olympic track and field event.

2014 

Jo Pavey became the oldest female European champion by winning the 10,000m at the European Championships. (40 years and 325 days old)

2015

Caroline Wöstmann became the first South African woman to win Comrades in the 20th century!

She also went on to become a doubleTwo Oceans winner for 2015 & 2016.

2017 

Maria Lorena Ramírez from the Tarahumara community wone the 2017 Ultra Trail Cerro Rojo Ultramarathon wearing sandals and a skirt.

The same year Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the NYC Marathon since 1977 (2:26:53).

2019 

Sifan Hassan broke the women’s mile world record (4:12.33) at the Monaco Diamond League.

Brigid Kosgei from Kenya broke the women’s marathon world record by 81 seconds!
She won the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04.

The same year Gerda Steyn broke the Comrades up-run record with a time of 5:58:53, becoming the first woman to complete the up-run in under six hours.

2022

Gerda Steyn set a new women’s record in the Two Oceans Marathon with a time of 3:29:42, and became the first athlete in 22 years to win three consecutive titles.

When Running Became Popular For Women

Although running has no age or gender restrictions, it inspiringly developed into a popular woman’s sport over the past 40 years.

  • Women and girls made up 57% of the 17 million U.S. race finishers in 2015.
  • Women’s participation in the New Your Marathon began to grow, and in the 1979 New York City Marathon, 1,203 of the 10,477 finishers were women—nearly 12 percent of the field. 

The growth continued steadily, and by 2019, about 42 percent of the 53,640 finishers of the TCS New York City Marathon were women!

In 2021, women made up about half of all finishers of NYRR races at all distances; for finishers ages 18–39, close to 60 percent are women.

  • In 2021 23% of ultra runners were women, compared to 14% 23 years ago.

As a female runner, it is liberating to see the massive strides women have taken throughout history to make running become “our” sport!

“Pace yourself”… We’ve all been told this at some point in our running careers…

Pacing is all about how well you can distribute your body’s energy throughout the entire marathon. The main purpose of pacing is to ensure that you preserve enough energy needed to complete the race and finish strong.

Let’s see what this looks like in the bigger picture of a full marathon…

How Hard Is It To Finish a Marathon?

There is no denying it… when you get to wear that medal you receive after completing a marathon, you wear it with pride. 

It is a badge of honor, a sign to the rest of the world that you made it through a grueling long distance of 42.2 km or 26.2 miles!

Everyone’s marathon experience is unique. 

To be honest with you… It is hard to finish a marathon. There’s a reason why you need to follow a training program.

Pheidippides, the first-ever marathoner, raced 150 miles from Athens to Sparta before the Battle of Marathon, declaring “Nike!” (which translates as “Victory”), and then dropped dead from exhaustion.

It’s tough to finish a marathon mostly because of the duration you’re required to be running for. 

Other factors that contribute to making completing a marathon a challenge include dehydration, injuries, hyponatremia (over hydration), and what we will be discussing further… incorrect pacing. 

How Long Does It Take To Finish a marathon?

A marathon is 26.2 miles or 42.19 kilometers.

The global average time for a marathon stands at around 4 hours 21 minutes – with men’s average times at 4 hours 13 minutes, and women at 4 hours 42 minutes.

New runners do worry about not finishing before the time limit. Typically, marathon cutoff times are around six hours. 

For example, athletes who run the Boston Marathon have six hours to complete the course. That means you’d have to average a pace of just under 14 minutes per mile. For the NYC Marathon, the official end of the race is 7:25 p.m. Depending on your start time, this will allow for closer to eight hours to finish the race.

On the race website or registration page, you will be able to see the race cut-off time.

The Importance Of Pacing

There is evidence proving that the best way to pace yourself over any distance longer than 800m is to run an even or negative split – that is, running the second half at the same speed, or slightly faster, than the first.

Getting the pace right is a question of matching your expectations to your level of training.

You need to determine how fast your recovery runs should be, and what pace you can run your harder sessions. This is why following a training plan is so beneficial, the coaches determine your paces for you, therefore taking the guesswork out of your hands and into a professional’s. 

Each run adds an integral element to your week’s training and, when done right, can have serious benefits for your marathon.

Pacing during your marathon is important because if you go out too hard from the start line… which is very easy to do as one gets caught up in all the race excitement… you could injure yourself and have to run in pain for what could be hours. 

A Good Marathon Time For a Beginner

Whether it’s your first and you’ve just decided to take on this monster challenge, or you’re a seasoned marathoner…

According to Marathon Statistics 2019 Worldwide, including 19,614,975 marathon results in 32,335 races worldwide:

  • Participation in marathons grew by 49.43% in the ten years from 2008 to 2018.
  • The average marathon time worldwide is 4:29:53. 

It’s important to remember that a good marathon time for one runner is very different from a good marathon time for another runner…

Based on the marathon statistics study, a good marathon time for a beginner across all sexes and ages averages 3:48:20.

How To Calculate Your Marathon Pace

We believe this is something not enough people are asking about…

This is the rule of thumb way to calculating your marathon pace.

Typically to calculate it, I would use a 5km and a 10km and a half marathon time to try and determine if I’m improving as I’m running longer distances or if I’m getting better as I’m running longer and then I’ll make some slight tweaks.

Essentially, if you’re running 5km races fairly hard or you’ve got some decent 5km times, I think from a 5km to a 10km, you can be between 5 seconds (if you’re very conditioned) and 8 or 9 seconds per km slower, you’ll be able to hold for a 10km.

Then you will be in the region of eight to 12-13 seconds per km slower when you then move from that 10km to the 21km and then from the 21km to the marathon, you’re probably also looking around 8-10 minutes in a very conditioned person or somebody who gets relatively better as time goes by, you’re probably looking at about eight seconds per km slower, up to around 15 seconds per km.

Obviously, if you’re someone who struggles and gets slower as you run longer, then you’re probably looking at more along the lines of 16-17-18 seconds per km and you need to work on your aerobic capacity.

That’s kind of how you can set on, if for example, you only had a 5km time, you could kind of progress it along.

Bearing in mind that the shorter the distance you’re using to predict, the more guessing is going on in-between steps.

The best place to guess from is your best half marathon and then somewhere in the region of 8K’s if you’re extremely fit and get better with distance and about 15 seconds per km would be your normal drift off.

Having these calculations on what you should be running your marathon is important. Yes, there’s a bit of variation if you don’t have a 21km time if you’re working it on your 5km time, but having these things and making sure that you stick to them is important if you’re going to achieve the marathon goal you set out to achieve.

What you need to do is, if the two halves of the race are fairly similar in terms of profile and if you’re not dealing with extreme environments, like very cold or extremely hot, then you want to approach a marathon in a fairly even-paced time.

Aiming to be at halfway no more than one and a half to two minutes faster in the first half than you intend to run the entire race and that is why it’s important to stick to your plan because at the beginning of the marathon you can feel extremely fresh and feel like it’s your day and you push it hard and then all of a sudden somewhere between 21km or 13 miles and 16 miles or 25km, that’s when you start to feel, oh-oh, I’ve overdone it and you’ve still got quite a lot of race left to go.

The thing with a marathon is that there is always going to be a part where you “hit the wall”. For most people that tends to be at 24-26kms and so the goal is to train the aerobic system well enough to keep pushing that “wall” later in the race…

In a marathon, the last three miles or 5km are telling and we can lose 30 seconds to a minute per km easily if our legs have taken a hammering.

You can never put enough time in the bag by going out too hard to save more than you’ll lose in the second half.

You’ll always lose more in the second half than intended if you go out with that sort of strategy.

That’s why It’s important to get the pacing right.

Marathon Pacing Strategy

Marathon pacing is probably one of the hardest things to get right. But when you do nail it, it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

So, what’s the secret to a perfectly paced marathon?

A marathon is not just a matter of doubling your 21km time…

First and foremost, the word patience, realistic goal setting, and pacing – are the things that play a role in the day.

It doesn’t help that you can run a 90-minute 21-kilometer, and then aim to achieve a sub-3-hour marathon… you will slow down as you progress.

Or your starting speed will have to be slower as well. So set a realistic goal, that’s the first box that you need to be ticking.

The second one is to work out an accurate pacing chart. Those on the Coach Parry platform get personalized help to calculate their pacing strategy. For the bigger races, we can make this race/route specific too.

… and then be patient, stick to that pacing chart.

It’s like a roadmap, if you’re going to follow the directions, you’re eventually going to get to your destination. And that’s what’s most important. People are impatient, they feel great, but they make the mistake of feeling great in the beginning, they overpower it a bit and then they pay for it in the end.

Once you realize that you’ve gone out too hard, it’s too late!

Positive Splits, Negative Splits, Even Splits

We’re big fans of negative splits. More often than not, if your training was good, you had a good taper leading up to the event, and you have a realistic goal in place, the chances of you doing an even split and possibly going negative towards the end are quite high. 

A negative split would be a cherry on the top, and an even split would be a perfectly executed race plan.

This is because if you start a race too hard and you lose speed towards the end, that’s when the process starts to control you. 

But if you start slightly slower, more conservative and you control the process all the way, I can guarantee you, the time lost by starting a slight bit slower compared to starting a bit too fast and then losing control of that process usually from about 36 kilometers, depending on how hard you went out. 

EVERYTHING You Need To Run A Sub 4 Hour Marathon

We’ve all experienced it…a delicious 600+ calorie lunch and that real full tummy, the button of your jeans undone, feeling of satisfaction… only to remember you’ve got a 10km planned with a buddy from your local running club for the afternoon and… it’s already the afternoon.

Time to lace up and head out, with a full belly.

You shouldn’t run too soon after a large meal because digestion requires a large amount of the body’s energy. 

To facilitate the digestion process, the body directs more blood flow to the stomach and other internal organs to accomplish this work.

—This is why you would have rather opted for an afternoon snooze instead. 

Let’s have a look at what exactly happens in your body while you run with that full tummy as well as what and when you should eat to feel great during your runs…

What Happens If You Run RIGHT After Eating

Heading out for a run after eating a large meal can lead to feeling sluggish, and cramping and can give you digestive problems. 

If you have a large amount of food in your stomach running will be difficult and uncomfortable because the human body is not designed for digestion and exercise at the same time. 

Common issues people experience when running on a full stomach are cramps, stomach aches, gastrointestinal (GI) distress, and an upset digestive tract.

Some people even experience a queasy feeling when running on a full stomach…

Eating a lot of food can make you uncomfortable because the sheer volume of food can distend the stomach, which can trigger pressure receptors that tell the body when to stop eating.

In extreme cases, this discomfort can reach a point where it triggers nausea or vomiting.

Nausea Before, During, or After Your Run? Here Are 5 Reliable Ways To Prevent It

How Long Should You Wait After Eating To Run?

The length of time you should wait before exercising varies by sport and individual. Thus, you may have to experiment to find your ideal digestion period. 

Commonly, it ranges from 30 minutes to 3 hours.

The important thing is that you need to factor in your meals and snacks accordingly. 

To optimize your energy stores, we recommend eating just a pre-run snack before exercising.

Your prerun snack should be made up of simple carbohydrates and little or no fat and protein as these simple carbs are easier to digest, you may only need to wait an hour or so before heading out for a run after this type of snack.

The best way to know how much, what, and when you should be eating around your run is an experiment you need to conduct on yourself.

The above is true but there are also some guidelines you can follow.
These can be found here.

While experimenting, try choosing something light and easily digestible that your body’s familiar with like a banana with some nut butter, apple sauce, or granola.

Avoid things that are acidic or dairy-based as they have a higher chance of upsetting your stomach.

Keep a diary of what you’ve eaten before each run, how long you waited, and how you felt, that way you can compare your data over some time and this will reveal trends to help you find the right methods for your body.

Should You Eat Breakfast Before Your Morning Run? 

Yes, you should eat breakfast before your morning run… but, not everyone can. 

But it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. So if they struggle with food – a banana or glass of fruit juice will suffice for the carbs they need (and then of course need to refuel during longer runs).

Not everyone can because of individual circumstances but the idea is… yes. If you are training in the morning, you should consume something small.

After you’ve had a whole night’s sleep you will have depleted your liver glycogen stores and therefore when you wake up in the morning it is a good idea to have something small.

Running in a fasted state can have its detriments!

Some people have no issue with eating breakfast and other people struggle so if you are someone that struggles then even having just two bites of a banana and half a glass of fruit juice will be worthwhile.

I recommend running on a small piece of toast or half an energy bar…I wouldn’t use gels as they are too simple of sugar and they actually can cause rebound hypoglycemia.

Rebound hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar that occurs after a meal — usually within four hours after eating.

If you are someone who struggles to eat breakfast before a run, then you need to compensate by making sure that most of the day you eat pretty well to make sure that your muscle glycogen stores are high.

The way you do that is by making sure you always take in something post-exercise and if you’re taking something within 15 to 20 minutes of exercise your muscle glycogen will always be high.

If you have to do high-intensity workouts then take an energy drink with you on the run or down to the track wherever you’re going to do it so that you can sip slowly on that energy during your training.

Many people are so busy and their goal is to maximize the amount of sleep they get, so when the alarm clock goes off they almost want to slip their running shoes on and head out the door immediately.

This is a great opportunity to practice your nutrition strategy for race day because as much you train during the week when races do come along… a lot of the time they require an early start.

The last thing you want to do is not be prepared or try something new on race day from a nutrition point of view…

If you’re waking up two hours before your run starts it’s an opportunity for you to test your gut and prepare your race strategy during training.

Examples of good, early morning pre-race breakfasts include:

  • Toast, or crumpets with jam, peanut butter, or Nutella (smaller amounts)
  • Porridge with peanut butter (smaller amounts), jam, fruit, and honey.
  • Fruit-based smoothie with oats in.
  • Cereal bars
  • Bowl of cereal with milk.
  • Fruit salad.
  • Rice cakes, or a bowl of rice with honey.
  • Banana with peanut butter.
  • Banana pancakes

As youngsters, our parents told us to button up in the winter and not run outside without our winter jackets on so that we can avoid catching that dreaded cold.

Well… Sorry parents… You were wrong.

The concept of catching a cold from the cold has been thoroughly studied and disproven countless times.

Think about it… the cold isn’t a virus or bacterium. So, why do we think it can infect us? And, what does this all have to do with you as a runner? 

Well…

Running in winter is completely healthy and super good for you! 

On that note, let’s have a look at why you won’t get sick from the cold, why it sometimes hurts when you breathe in the cold, how to protect yourself from the cold while running and some hacks for tackling running in winter… 

Can You Get Sick From Running In The Cold?

No evidence proves that running in the cold harms the immune system. Getting outside in the cold weather can stimulate your immune system. The real threat is not dressing properly.

You’re probably thinking to yourself… then why does cold and flu season align with winter?

In winter months, more people huddle indoors and close windows to keep warm, so all the people in that shared space are exposed to whatever pathogens they are carrying.

Also, during winter in a lot of places, the air tends to be drier and that dry air will facilitate the transmission of viruses.

Is It OK To Run In The Cold?

Running in winter is not unhealthy at all as long as it’s done safely. 

Pros Of Running In The Cold:

  • Cooler weather… not necessarily cold is the ideal weather for running. The colder the weather, the less heat stress on your body, which makes it easier to run.

    If temps are below 11 or 12 degrees then that is not ideal for running as the body spends a lot of energy to keep warm too.
    Not that it’s bad for running, ideal running temperatures for best performance are between 12 – 16 degrees, this of course varies according to some other environmental factors too.
  • Running outdoors in cooler weather can help you stay consistently active. Think about it, running inside on a treadmill or running outside in nature… Which one sounds more fun to you? 
    Although, when it comes to running in the cold, a good amount of people would rather run on a treadmill and be warm than outside in the cold.
  • When the days get shorter and the temperatures drop… many people suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder. This normally occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. Running helps release powerful hormones that help combat this depression, increasing your positive mood.
    As hard as it is to get out when you feel like this. It may help you feel better.

Cons Of Running In The Cold:

  • The cold air can hurt your lungs because it’s typically very dry, which can lead to coughing and shortness of breath. If you have asthma or similar conditions, the cold air can make them worse.
  • Black ice can form on roads and pathways. It is quite hard to see especially when running in dim light so there is the risk of slipping and falling.
  • Late sunrises and early sunsets mean runs in the dark. Not being easily visible is a risk for runners as well as not being able to see obstacles on the path clearly due to darkness.
  • ITS COLD -, which means if you don’t have the right gear it’s not fun.

Why Does Running In The Cold Make Me Cough?

Cold, dry air can make you cough during or after your running session due to either bronchospasm, which is when the tubes that bring air in and out of your lungs constrict, or asthma.

Exercise asthma or exercise-associated bronchospasm:

When you reach high respiratory rates in the cold, you can develop contractions or spasms in the smooth muscle that surrounds your airways and also produce extra mucous in the lining of the lung tubes that result in your coughing. 

How To Prevent Coughing While Running In The Cold

A cold-induced cough can be stopped by wearing a scarf or buff over your mouth and nose to prewarm and humidify the cold air.

An exercise-induced cough may be a marker for asthma since both dry air and cold air are triggers for asthma attacks.

If you often cough after cold runs, it’s important to meet a doctor just to determine if you have underlying asthma.

The Impact Of Heat, Cold, Humidity & Altitude On Your Running Performance

How To Breath In Cold Weather While Running

  1. Use a bandana, buff, or scarf to warm up the air you breathe in.
  2. Breathe in your nose and out your mouth. The air has to travel a greater distance to reach your lungs. Along the way, your nasal passages and trachea warm the cold air.
  3. Avoid high-intensity training in very cold weather as this could irritate your airways further, making it hard to breathe. 

Do You Burn More Calories Running In The Cold?

Sure, a decent amount of research shows that shivering to keep your body warm does cause you to burn calories but… exercise raises the body’s temperature on its own without needing to expend more energy to do this. 

In hot weather, it takes more cardiovascular effort to cool the body down. Therefore, exercising in warm weather would use more energy than exercising in the cold.

Tips For Running In The Cold

  1. Set a Goal

To get yourself out of your warm, cozy bed to go out and run in the cold, you need a BIG motivator.

Setting an achievable goal that excites you is going to help you do just that.

  1. Layer Up!


The key to dressing for a run in the cold is to dress in layers and breathable insulation – Gear made from insulating materials traps air, which is then warmed by your body heat. Air doesn’t conduct heat well, so trapped air retains warmth and keeps you warm.

The layers need to consist of:

a) A base layer that is close to your skin and should be made of a material that keeps moisture away from your skin.

b) A second layer that provides breathable insulation.

c) A weatherproof breathable outer layer to protect you from wind, rain, and snow. 

Other clothing items include snow gear, traction shoes, etc… Gloves and a beanie are also key.

Also, gear for wet cold conditions will differ from just cold conditions. 

  1. Warm Up Inside

It may seem obvious but warming up indoors really will work. Do drills and dynamic stretches before you step outside and don’t allow your body to cool down. 

  1. Slow Down

If you’re running in temperatures where there is a real risk of slipping on ice then slow down. Winter is a great time to build your aerobic base with easy slow running.

  1. Take Extra Caution In The Dark

Running in the dark brings with it lots of risks.

How To Run In The Dark Safely:

  1. Take your cellphone with you in case of emergencies, that is if you live in an area that is safe to run with your phone on you.
  2. Tell family when and where you may be running.
  3. Wear reflective running gear.
  4. Take it slow to avoid slipping/tripping.
  5. Run with friends if possible.
  6. Invest in a good running headlight.

Menopause is a natural part of aging and marks the end of the female reproductive years…

With the number of menopausal women worldwide estimated to reach 1.1 billion by 2025, you’d think that we would be able to talk openly about menopause, but this fundamental part of a woman’s life is still stigmatized.

According to Dr. Stacy Sims, all women experience these menopausal changes, but continuing to run puts you ahead of the pack in terms of coping with the menopausal symptoms.

On that note, let’s have a look at what happens to your body during menopause and the effects running will have on the dreaded menopausal symptoms…

What Happens To Your Body During Menopause

Menopause is defined as a complete year without menstrual bleeding.

During perimenopause, your ovaries make less of the hormone estrogen. When this decrease occurs, your menstrual cycle starts to change, until eventually, it stops. 

Physical changes can also occur as the symptoms of menopause, these changes are due to the hormonal changes your body is experiencing.

These symptoms may vary according to which stage of menopause you are in. The three stages are perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause.

Estrogen and progesterone are the primary female hormones related to reproduction. 

When ovarian function declines with age, ovulation doesn’t occur regularly. This leads to irregular or missed periods.

Eventually, the ovaries stop ovulating altogether, and periods stop completely. This results in lower levels of estrogen and progesterone production by your ovaries.

It’s important to remember this is a normal process.

Menopause requires no medical treatment. Instead, treatments that are on offer focus on relieving your signs and symptoms…

Menopause Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms of menopause that will affect your running, they should certainly not stop you from continuing to run… we will get to the reason why in a little bit…

  1. Hot Flushes
  2. Weight Gain
  3. Emotional Changes
  4. Insomnia
  5. Night Sweats
  6. Incontinence
  7. Slowing Down

Hot Flushes

These are a sudden feeling of heat and sweating in the upper part of your body, on your neck chest, and face… no one knows exactly what causes them.

According to this scientific paper: Hot flushes affect up to 80% of women during the menopausal transition and persist for 5 or more years past menopause in up to a third of women.

The cause of these common symptoms is currently unknown, although alterations in thermoregulation probably play a role.

Several recent studies have suggested that hot flushes may be associated with higher levels of oxidative stress as well as adverse vascular changes during menopause.

According to this study

Hot flashes and night sweats involve the central thermoregulatory system in the hypothalamus and are mediated through autonomic control of the peripheral vasculature and sweat glands.

Therefore, the onset intensity of the hot flushes and night sweats may represent differences in underlying dysfunction in central and autonomic mechanisms and may involve other brain regions associated with sleep and mood.

The characterization of autonomic function associated with the expression of hot flashes and night sweats has not been fully characterized. However, heart rate decreases in menopause and sleep-related decreases in blood pressure are not observed in women who experience hot flashes with insomnia.

In addition to menopausal hormone treatments, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors also are effective in reducing hot flashes in women. 

Weight Gain

Many women going through menopause gain weight around their abdomen… This is due to the declining estrogen levels, age-related loss of muscle tissue, and lifestyle factors such as following a bad diet and a lack of exercise.

Emotional Changes

Mood swings… Anxiety… Depression …

These symptoms can be scary for a lot of women –  Especially if they feel like they are on this journey alone and when society doesn’t allow us to talk about these as actual symptoms of menopause and rather just something women are dealing with and “being emotional”. 

The change is real and physiological…

According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), close to 23 percent of women go through mood changes before, during, or after menopause.

Up to 70 percent of women describe irritability and being annoyed at things that never used to bother them before as one of the main emotional symptoms of perimenopause. 

This next stat is very real and should be taken very seriously.

Depression affects up to 1 out of every 5 women going through menopause. 

Insomnia

Insomnia is the inability to sleep. It can also contribute to mood changes, as well as weight gain, high blood pressure, and even in some cases diabetes.

40-50 percent of women experience sleep disturbances during menopause.

Night Sweats

Simply put, night sweats refer to excess sweating during the night.

For women going through menopause, night sweats are intense hot flashes that occur at night, they can drench your clothes and sheets (not related to an overheated environment) and disturb sleep which in turn affects mood and recovery.

Incontinence

Urinary incontinence (UI) is also known as loss of bladder control or involuntary urinary leakage.

It is a common problem in the female population with prevalence rates varying between 10% and 55% in 15- to 64-year-old women.

Urinary incontinence is extremely common but not normal.

For menopausal women, it’s not just loss of strength but also changes in ligaments and other connective tissues composition

In this article, we provide An Expert’s Guide To Dealing With Leaking Urine While Running

Last but not least, if you are already a runner, this is a symptom you’ll notice and most probably one of the reasons you are reading this article… 

Slowing Down

The number one reason for slowing down is the loss of lean muscle mass. This loss starts as early as your 30s and you can lose around 3% of muscle mass each decade.

Research suggests that a lack of the correct nutrition, decreased muscle synthesis, fluctuating hormones, loss of muscle strength, and not enough recovery time – also contribute to a slower running pace. 

BUT…

With the right training framework consisting of strength training, recovery, consistency, nutrition, and intensity/pace training, women going through menopause can run faster than they ever did before.

How To Run Faster Through Menopause

5 Reasons Why You Should Continue Running Through Menopause

Something to remember: all the benefits that you would gain from running that positively affect your physical and mental wellbeing still apply. 

  1. Running Makes Your Bones Healthy 

Our bone mass peaks around the age of 30 and we lose a little every year, there’s a sudden surge in that loss once menopause is reached. 

The goal would be to start early so that the decline isn’t dramatic. 

Note: IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO START!

Doing physical activity such as running brings a lot of advantages but one of the amazing benefits that you get for free, when you train regularly is good bone health. 

Good bone health implies a little bit of strength, but also bone mineral density. Our bones support us and allow us to move. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

Bones require a load on them to absorb that calcium and get stronger. Yes, running is placing a load on your bones but your bones require a multi-directional load on them to really help that mineral bone density. This is where resistance training comes into play. 

Bone Health: What You NEED To Know As You Get Older

  1. Strength Training Builds Muscle

In the same way, as our bone mass reduces as we age, we lose muscle mass too. 

As we reach around the age of 50, we notice that there’s this exponential loss of strength and that’s really why we start getting slower as a runner.

Resistance training can reverse some of the aging processes and increase your lean muscle mass. Pushing your body against a form of resistance can be bodyweight, bands, weights, etc… 

If you want to stay injury-free and keep running to and through menopause, then strength training is non-negotiable.

Strength training is extremely important for runners, for two main reasons. The first is for injury prevention, and the second is to improve your running performance and make you a faster and more efficient runner

The key however is in the type of strength training that you are doing… The type we are talking about that is vital for peri- and postmenopausal women is resistance training and high-intensity interval training. 

Resistance Training: Increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force. 

Strong female runner

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Running Through Menopause Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save Your Seat In This Training Now…

  1. Running Improves Your Mood

A lot of research has proven that when you run or even walk, endorphins and serotonin are released in your body, these are the chemicals in your brain that improve your mood. 

Mood changes are so prevalent and running is extremely helpful with this all around. 

Fresh air, Vitamin D (if running outside in a country with the sun), and of course the physiological benefit…

Research has revealed that endorphins may not have too much to do with a runner’s high but in fact, it points to another type of molecule: endocannabinoids.

These act on your endocannabinoid system. This is the same system that’s affected by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in cannabis.

Like endorphins, exercise releases endocannabinoids into the bloodstream. If you feel euphoric or deeply relaxed after a run, these molecules are the reason why.

  1. Running May Reduce Menopause Symptoms

There’s growing evidence that the horrible symptoms experienced from menopause may be reduced by running in some women…

It has been proven that running can improve the quality of your sleep and help you sleep through the night. Some, but not all, research studies have shown that exercise training can reduce the frequency of hot flushes experienced during menopause as well as improve the symptoms of anxiety.

Note: This science is not full proof and this is not a blanket approach for all women.

  1. Running Is a Fun Way To Meet People

Making friends as an adult can be difficult. Add the emotional rollercoaster of menopause to the mix… Maybe even a pandemic and it’s a big challenge…

Joining a running group or teaming up with a running buddy is an easy way to make friends and meet new people, They may just help make this journey a bit easier for you.

In summary, It’s not always easy to get out there and go for a run, but even if you head out for a short walk… it’s always worth it.

There is no doubt about it, your body changes with each new decade you enter, and this affects your running…

It is well documented that our physiology starts letting us down way before we’d like it to. Many studies show peak performance ages to be between 20-35 years of age for most sports and the physiological decline imminent thereafter.

Many people think getting older means that you need to cut back on physical activity to avoid injuries… This is not truly leading an active lifestyle after the age of 50 keeps your muscles and bones strong, your mind sharp, and can add years to your life.

Let’s discover why running over the age of 50 is good for you as well as the elements that come with running in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.

Running Is Good For You As You Get Older

Studies suggest that running over 50 years old, whether you are experienced or not, is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness. 

What’s even more impressive is that middle-aged, beginner runners will gain the same benefits as experienced, middle-aged runners. 

Some of the benefits of running in your 50s and beyond include healthier muscle mass, a stronger heart, and less body fat.

Check out this fantastic article we wrote a while back about: The Race Against Age: How To Slow Down The Slowing Down

Health Benefits Of Running In Your 50’s & Beyond

  1. Cardiovascular Health

According to the Journal of American College Of Cardiology: Running can decrease your risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 45%. 

This is due to HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol “good cholesterol” and improved blood pressure. 

  1. Improved Quality Of Sleep

In our modern lifestyles, sleep is quite hard to come by. The number of hours of sleep but more importantly the quality of sleep that we have is particularly poor.

Running boosts the serotonin hormone, which is involved in your sleep-wake cycle. This may improve the brain’s ability to metabolize serotonin and regulate sleep.

The benefits of getting a good quality night’s sleep include:

  • Improved ability to build muscle & repair tissue
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Balanced hormones
  • Water reabsorption
  • Improved concentration
  1. Better Bone Density

Running brings a lot of advantages but one of the amazing benefits that you get for free, when you train regularly is good bone health. 

Good bone health implies a little bit of strength, but also bone mineral density. Our bones support us and allow us to move.

Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

This is not as effective as running on its own vs running and strength training.

  1. Lowered Risk Of Chronic lifestyle- Related Diseases

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, running helps reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, many types of cancer, depression, anxiety, and dementia.

Now that we know that running when you’re over 50 is good and comes with a lot of benefits, let’s have a look at what running when you are over the age of 50 entails…

Why Is Running Harder As You Get Older?

  1. Your body needs more recovery time in your 50s & 60s and beyond.

What we have found, particularly with athletes that move into their 50’s and more so into their 60’s is that we can get a lot better results on a lot less training than before because the recovery times are slower and so that extra recovery time that we add in actually allows runners to get better.

If we use Coach Lindsey Parry’s father as a really good example, once he finally started listening to Lindsey. His original investment in my degree didn’t seem to be enough to trigger him to take any advice. But eventually, he was sort of forced into taking advice.

We moved him from running his traditional seven days a week, which he’d been running for four decades; to running four days a week, and over the next seven years, his dad got faster and faster. Over seven years until he ran at the age of 62, he started running times in races that he was running in his early 50s.

Finding the right balance is important in your 50s.

Since then he’s kind of steadily gotten slower and slower, but really what I’m trying to say, it’s about finding the right balance for you. 

So that you can either just slow down or reduce the rate of slowing down or in the short term get some more improvement.

The only way you can do it is by getting the right mix between training and recovery and that probably doesn’t mean training more.

It means training a little bit less and adding some strength training into the mix.

  1. A decrease in muscle mass, strength & power

Over time our muscle mass decreases and along with this, there is a more rapid loss of Type II (“fast fibers”).

So, what this means is that there is a slight change in the muscle mass we have from a more slow-twitch fiber, which essentially means less speed.

There is also a change in the neuromuscular connection between the brain and muscle fibers which means “messages sent from the brain to muscles” are less frequent and less efficient, also having an effect on muscle contractions as well as proprioception (which affects the increase in the risk of falling)

More than just the change in muscle fiber is the loss of lean muscle mass. 

This is generally linear through your 30s and 40s from 50s the loss becomes more exponential and therefore this is possibly one of the main reasons for slowing down, and struggling with usual activities of daily living. We are asking our bodies to do the same amount of work with less capacity due to this loss of lean muscle mass…

  1. As we get older, we see a decline in maximum heart rate. 

Most age-related HRmax formulas are sufficient for a general idea for the general population however there is a lot of variance with these formulas and they are not very dependable at an individual level, and they get less reliable with more aging populations.

It is important for you to figure out your HRmax with the use of a laboratory test or maximum exhaustive field-based test. This is why we prefer to use threshold HR rather than max HR.

  1.  A Reduction in VO2peak (Cardiovascular)

As a result of the decline in max heart rate, we start to see a decline in peak VO2 in athletes as they get older.

It could, therefore, be assumed that with the decline in VO2peak as you age, your running performance could also decline.

  1.  A decrease in tendon elasticity & increased stiffness (Musculoskeletal)

This decrease in tendon elasticity could place the older endurance runner at a higher risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

And so, the loading and prescription, as well as strength training of a runner over the age of 50, is key to ensuring the longevity and health of the runner.

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…


Five Tips To Start Running After 50: How To Take Up Running Later In Life

We’re going to share with you five tips and really important things that you need to take care of to make sure that you can run well beyond your 50s…

It’s never too late to start running and in fact, we always tell people if you start later… it just means you can improve well into your twilight years.

If you’re thinking about starting running…  then now is the time.

We’re going to order them from least important to most important to ensure you read to the END of the article!;) 

Five Tips For Starting To Run In Your 50’s

5: Cross-Training

Cross-training is your friend when you start running in your 50s because you do need to start slowly and so the cross-training will help you to reduce some of that frustration and allow you to maybe push yourself a little bit harder than you may want to or to feel like you are getting in some exercise.

Cross-training includes nonimpact cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, stationary cycling, or cycling, and some rowing even the elliptical.

These exercises don’t contribute to the load that you’re placing on particularly your joints, tendons, and ligaments while running, but contribute to building your aerobic capacity.

4: Don’t run more than four days a week

When you’re starting out running in your 50s you want to run between three to four days per week, maximum; and that will allow you to give your body the time that it needs to recover from each time that you got out there and put that stress on your tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints.

I know I am making it sound like running is bad for you…. It’s not, it’s an amazing exercise for you, particularly as you get older.

But we do want to make sure that you can enjoy those fruits without breaking down with an injury.

Remember that recovery is extremely important because you only get the benefit of your training when you recover. 

3: Build up slowly.

You do want to build up slowly,  in fact, the slower that you can stand to build up, the less likely you are to get sick and injured.

This will result in you being more likely to start loving running in a couple of weeks, and the more likely you are to stick it out and turn it into something that you do well into your advanced years.

That again is where the cross-training comes in.

While you’re building this running slowly, you can then throw in a little bit of harder cycling, rowing, and elliptical things that are much less likely to cause injury.

2: Strength Training

If you are just starting, doing exercise full stop, your muscles will have atrophied over years and that atrophy will have accelerated in your middle, the mid to late 40s.

It will accelerate even faster now that you are in your 50s.

Strength training becomes incredibly important to allow your body to cope with this new exercise regime that you’re going to do.

Once you start getting really into it two, or three months down the line, it’s going to help you to become a much better runner, protect your body from injury, and will help delay the loss of performance from the loss of lean muscle mass because you will be combatting the natural effects of aging with strength training

1: You need to walk before you run.

That does not mean that you have to go out and you’re not allowed to run at all.

Remember: Walking is not a weakness!

It means that when you start,  walking reduces the load and stress running causes, but still allows you to gain that aerobic benefit and allows you to go further for longer at less cost to your body. 

The running stress is greater than the walking but that gradual change from walking to running is what’s going to allow you to get into this sport and reap the benefits that you should be reaping.

When you start, go out for between 15 and 20 minutes at a time and do something along the lines of a four or five-minute walk, followed by a one minute run, followed by a 4-5 minute walk, followed by a minute run, and so on until you get to between 15 and 20 minutes, and every one to two weeks, depending on how easy that is and how well you take to it, you will then reduce the walking increase the running.

In week two, and week three, it may look more like three minutes of walking, two minutes of running, three minutes of walking two minutes of running, and every week to two, you just decrease the walking by minute, increase the running by a minute and within eight to 12 weeks you will find yourself being able to run five kilometers without needing to walk at all and then from there the world is your oyster.

Running After 50: Tips To Run Faster As You Get Older

A lot of us know the quadriceps femoris muscles, as our “quads” muscle.

Running, skipping, squatting, and jumping… To do any of these activities you need a strong set of quadriceps.  

Your quadriceps are located in the anterior compartment of your thigh, together with the sartorius muscle, which is a long, narrow muscle running obliquely across the front of each thigh.

Let’s have a look at learning more about our quadriceps, how they work, what can cause tightness in our quads, how you can release tight quads, and how you can strengthen them….

What Causes Tight Quadriceps?

Firstly, it’s quite important to know that your quadriceps femoris is one of the largest and strongest muscles in your body. Each quad is a group of four muscles located at the front of your thigh.

We rely a lot on our quads to do many forms of physical activity, especially running. Therefore they can be prone to injury quite easily.

Those four muscles are primarily responsible for hip flexion and extension at the knee joint, they all attach near your kneecap. 

The primary function of your quadriceps is to extend (straighten) your knee.

Let’s have a quick overview of each of those four muscles…

  1. Rectus Femoris
  2. Vastus Lateralis
  3. Vastus Medialis
  4. Vastus Intermedius

Rectus Femoris

The rectus femoris is responsible for stabilizing and creating flexion at the hip joint. It is the only muscle in the quadriceps group that crosses the hip.

Vastus Lateralis

This muscle is the largest of the quadriceps muscles. In elite athletes, you can actually see this muscle quite prominently on the outside of their thighs. The Vastus Lateralis aids in extending your knee.

Vastus Medialis

This muscle is shaped like a teardrop and runs along the inside of the front of your thigh. It works with the other three muscles to extend the knee as well as stabilize the kneecap. Very often, in runners, this is where there is a weakness and can cause knee issues.

Vastus Intermedius

The Vastus Intermedius muscle lies underneath the other three muscles. The primary function of this muscle is knee extension. 

Now that we know a bit more about our quads, let’s have a look at why they get so tight sometimes…

It might make you feel better to know that tight quadriceps are very common. They can be caused by overuse and underuse.

The problem that comes with tight quads is that they could lead to pain in other parts of your body.

For example, if left untreated, tight quads could lead to postural imbalances and contribute to pain in your lower back because they pull your pelvis down as well as weak hamstring muscles and pain in your hips and knees… very often tightness in muscles is accompanied with weakness too.

This Is Why Your Quads Always Feel Tight

If you have increased your physical activity recently or if you sit for hours without much movement then your quads will feel tight. 

By sitting at your desk all day you reduce the amount of time you spend lengthening and shortening those four muscles we chatted about earlier… therefore those muscles become more resistant to stretching or lengthening as tightness is very often accompanied by a weakness in strength.

The Reasons For Your Tight Quads Can Be Summed Down To:

  • Overtraining/ overuse
  • Lack of movement/ underuse
  • Dehydration (Muscles need water to function optimally)
  • Tightness in another area of your body (Causing you to modify your posture)
  • Certain prescribed medicines can cause muscle stiffness.

If you’re a runner or lead a fairly active lifestyle, or not at all and sit at your desk for most of the day… then chances are very high you’ve had tight quads. This is how you can tell if you’ve got tight quads.

Tight Quad Symptoms

  • Pain and swelling in your thighs
  • Visible inflammation (In extreme cases)
  • Difficulty bending or straightening your knee
  • Pain in your lower back
  • Trouble with your hips or tight hip flexor muscle
  • Knee issues, such as finding it difficult to bend or straighten the knee without pain or discomfort
  • Weakness in your leg and reduced range of motion
  • Sharp pain when running

As powerful as our quads are… we now know they are vulnerable to injuries if they are neglected…

Let’s have a look at ways we can prevent getting tight quads in the first place.

How To Prevent Getting Tight Quadriceps

  1. Warming up properly before any activity.

By warming up you’re trying to kick-start the physiology which is delivering energy to the working muscles and to get the body – in the true sense of the word – warm.

By heating the muscles up they then slide over each other much more easily thereby reducing the risk of injury.

A 5-minute walk or a very very very easy jog early on in the run – even when you’re doing an easy training run – goes a long way. 

Here’s an experiment to do on yourself… if you start running very very easy (don’t worry about pace). 

Let me use myself as an example, my typical training run is between 5:30 and 6:00 per kilometre – and regardless of what intensity run I’m doing, I will typically start somewhere in the region of 6:30 per kilometre. 

I don’t look at my watch. I just start very easy. Within about 5 minutes of exercise, I find myself with not much increase in effort and easily run at my training pace. On those runs when I do that I typically end up running very comfortably at 4:30 and 4:40 per kilometre with very little effort.

On the converse side, If I start out much harder or much closer to your average pace. On those same runs I would start out at 5:30, sometimes when I run with my friends they like to start out quite hard, and I will literally feel like I’m pushing through the whole run just to maintain that pace because I haven’t given my body a chance to adapt to what I am about to do.

  1. Cool down after your activity.

Cooling down allows your body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate to return to their normal levels.

This can be in the form of an easy cool-down walk, light stretch or foam roll. Find out what works for you

We recommend doing dynamic stretches before you run and static stretches after your run, this contributes to blood flow and range of motion.

5 Things To Avoid Doing After Running: Stop Doing This If You Want To Become A Better Runner

  1. Strength training.

Strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors can also help reduce your risk of injury. Stronger muscles also provide more support to your joints during your activity.

Eccentric quad exercises are really important to avoid injury as well as prevent muscle soreness after hard running and downhill running. Every time you push off in running your quads contract concentrically. Every time you land on the ground, quads contract eccentrically (acts as a shock absorber) it is here where you get most of the muscle damage. By training quads eccentrically we can reduce the amount of muscle fibre damage done in eccentric contractions

We will get to specific quadriceps strength training exercises further on in this article…

We should first have a look at ways you can release your tight quads.

How To Release Tight Quadriceps

  1. Stretch Those Quads Out

The ends of your quadriceps are at your knees and your hips, this is why tight quads can result in knee pain or even lower back pain…

A few minutes of stretching can save you from those unwanted tight quads, we recommend dynamic stretching before your exercise snd then some static stretching after your exercise, during your cool down. 

Although, Just a few mins of stretching post-run is not going to make a massive difference. This needs to be a focused aspect if one is going to do static stretching. ie. need to set aside some time every day to do some static stretching. 

Mobility work is key as then we are improving the flexibility around several joints and not just one muscle (ie. the hip girdle and the knee as opposed to just stretching the quadricep),

  1. Foam Roll

Foam rolling exercises release tension in the body’s tight spots and muscle tissue to prevent injury, support athletic performance, and increase the quality of soft tissue.

If you’re experiencing pain in your quads as a result of an injury, do not roll directly on the injured spot. Instead, roll away from the pain point to work the connecting muscles.

  • Balance on your elbows in a plank position with your quadriceps on the foam roller.
  • Brace your core and avoid arching or rounding your lumbar spine.
  • Roll from just above the kneecaps to the top of the thighs.

Perform 1–2 sets of 30–90 seconds before or after exercising.

Let’s have a look at those stretches we mentioned earlier…

Quadriceps Stretches

Note: Stretching is important but mobility is key and strength training is vital… without strength training, stretching is very often useless.

  1. Kneeling stretch
  •  Kneel on your right knee and put your left leg out in front of you at a 90-degree angle (As if you were proposing to someone) and curve your pelvis under.
  • Flatten out your lower back and keep your shoulders and chest upright.
  • Bend forward from the hip to your knee even more to stretch the right hip and quad.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then switch knees.
  1. Standing quad stretch
  • Begin standing, with your left hand holding onto a stable object for support. 
  • Grab your right ankle with your right hand and draw your foot towards your buttocks without arching your low back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
  1. Side-Lying Stretch
  • Lie down on your side on an exercise mat or towel.
  • Bring your ankle to your buttocks while bringing your arm back and holding on to your foot. 
  • Gently bring your foot into your buttocks, feeling the stretch in the front of your thighs.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side and leg. 

Note: These stretches are meant to be gentle and if any pain is felt while holding them then you should refrain from holding them for the full 30 seconds. 

Quadriceps Strength Exercises

You should be doing eccentric exercises to help strengthen your quads.

Eccentric exercises are slow, lengthening muscle contractions that are for a specific muscle, in this case, your quads. 

An example of an eccentric exercise that you could do is Single Leg Step Down.

  • Start by standing with one foot on a step, and one foot off the ground.
  • Slowly lower the unaffected leg down off the side of the step. Lightly touch your heel to the floor.
  • Return to the original position.
  • Repeat until the number of reps is completed.
  • The Switch legs.

In this video, we share 5 strength training exercises that only take 5 minutes to do and are shockingly simple. 

How many of you actually incorporate strength training into your running routine? 

If you just answered yes… fantastic! If not… don’t worry because we’re about to change that!

Strength training is extremely important for runners, for two main reasons. The first is for injury prevention, and the second is to improve your running performance and make you a faster and more efficient runner

Whether you know a thing or two about strength- training or have never thought of doing it before… many benefits come with it but there’s one that always seems to get noticed the most and it’s that strength training will improve your running.

On that note… let’s have a look at some other reasons why runners should include strength training into their routine.

Why Should Runners Strength Train?

Strength training is absolutely pivotal to include in your running plan. 

We know for a fact that runners know this,  yet they still don’t do it. 

We believe the reason for this to be is that they know it’s important, they just don’t know why strength training is so important. 

Why Strength Training Is So IMPORTANT

  1. Strength Training Helps With Injury Prevention

The reason strength training helps with injury prevention is that when your smaller muscle groups aren’t working,  the bigger muscles take over… So your body always ends up compensating somewhere

It’s your smaller muscle groups that are your stabilizers, they help your hips stay in place, and they help your foot and landing mechanics, this is why we need to ensure that those stabilizing muscles are working well and also contracting at the right time / recruited correctly.

When this doesn’t happen the foundation becomes unstable, misaligned, and abnormal movement patterns of the trunk and lower extremity occur. This can then lead to injury

Running is a repetitive sport and there is a constant repetitive action, which leads to your muscles getting tired and fatigued quite quickly, this stops your muscles from working in their normal function.

That’s the reason why from an injury prevention point of view it is extremely important to include strength training in your training plan. 

  1. Strength Training Improves Your Running Economy

Think of your running economy like the fuel economy of your car… We want to be able to go as far as possible with the most efficient amount of fuel.

By incorporating strength training in your running program you will be able to go further and be more efficient with less fuel in your body. 

Strength training can improve your running economy by 4% to 6%, depending on your level, how much strength training you are doing as well as the type of strength training you are doing. 

I mean, who wouldn’t want to become a better runner just by doing strength training?

FREE STRENGTH TRAINING PLAN HERE!

  1. Strength Training helps delay the onset of fatigue. 

A study was conducted on two groups of 10000m runners (1 control group and 1 strength group). 

There was a clear distinction between the runners who did strength training vs the control group who did no strength training. 

The group who did strength training fatigued way later than the control group.

Now that you know it’s SUPER necessary… Let’s have a look at some tips you can use to incorporate strength training into your routine.

10 Strength Training Tips For Runners

  1. No Time To Strength Train? No Problem…

We completely understand that life gets busy and some days are absolutely chaotic…

2-3 strength training sessions per week are ideal…

2 sessions are better than 1 and 1 is better than none. 

So I would rather have an athlete that does 1 strength session per week consistently than one who does 2 strength sessions inconsistent every 3 or 4 weeks.

The first thing runners tend to leave off of their to-do list to save some time is strength training and that’s a HUGE mistake to be making… That’s why we created this video for you.

In this video, sports scientist Devlin Eyden shares an insanely simple, 5 exercise routine that every busy runner should incorporate into their training.

(You can see the set and reps list in the pinned comment.)

  1. Periodization For Strength Training

Periodization is about your overall plan and how it pertains to every week or month.

Running is your main sport so this is about how strength training works in and around your overall running plan and specifically to your main goals for the year.

This is how you balance your weeks, months, and overall year. 

  1. Why You Should Periodize Your Strength Training

Much like you would with your running… where you periodize your running over a period of time, where you lay the building blocks of your foundation…

The exact same thing applies to strength training. 

The idea of strength training is to complement your running training.

When you are in a phase where you focus on your running and trying to build some strength and for example, you run some hills… the same applies to strength training.

When you are trying to build up your running speed the strength training that you do will complement that. Therefore it’s important that your strength training and your running speak to each other and work well together.

For example, coming into your taper before a race and in recovery weeks you should also reduce your strength training volume. 

  1. Balance Your Strength Training As A Runner

A nice way to work on your balance is to do a combination of some stability or proprioceptive exercises (exercises that throw your body slightly out of kilter). This involves doing something simple like balancing on an Airex pad or a Bosu ball, or a hedgehog if you are in a gym environment.

You could even use two pillows if you’re at home, just to create an unstable surface. 

This will help teach muscles when to switch on and off at the appropriate time so that you build joint stability.

Even just training barefoot helps!

The kinesthesis of your feet on the floor often helps with proprioception, whereas shoes mask this and make balance much easier.

Building up your joint stability will minimize your risk of injury because there’s a lot less movement in the joints themselves.

Movement In The Hip Joints – This one is important.

We need to have strong stable hips. We also need to have mobile hips. 

Lack of mobility means that we lack the range of motion and often compensate with other muscles. 

With good strength and good mobility, you will be able to maximize your potential in your running gait too.

  1. How To Plan Your Strength Training

Just focusing on strength training…think about your overall year plan…

Laying The Foundations: 

You should periodize or move your strength training around so that you are not doing the same thing all the time. You should also create foundational work so that you are not diving into high-intensity training without being prepared and layering those building blocks first.

From a year’s perspective, you should create your plan in accordance with specific seasons. 

For example… You have your goal race, you take an off-season and when you start your new year plan, that is where you will start your strength training.

In that strength training block, what you should be focusing on is building some pure foundational strength to get stronger and prevent injuries in the future, and to build your body up to become more sustainable and able to go through the expected loads from getting into heavier running blocks. 

Once You Have a Proper Strength Work Base:

Once you have a nice base of strength work from the first block, you can start moving on to a bit more of a functional type of strength training. 

Closer To Race Day:

For the last part of your strength training, once you’re getting closer to your race day… You should be REDUCING the load of strength training and perhaps do some slightly more high-intensity and sharpening exercises to get ready for your race day.  (But this is specific if you have good strength training experience otherwise there  is a high risk of injury)

(The above is an overall yearly plan, we can take this down into smaller blocks and then into your week-on-week plans.) 

NOTE: Technique is extremely IMPORTANT!

It doesn’t help if you do all this with the wrong technique – you will get injured.
It’s important to remember that without proper form and technique, the benefits of these exercises are negligible. 

You run the risk of seriously injuring yourself if you make a habit of using improper technique when strength training.

When you’re strength training, you should make sure you’re able to do the exercise with the correct technique before you move from beginner classes to advanced classes.

  1. Strength Training During Your Taper

As you would taper leading up to a de-load week or an event, the same needs to happen with your strength training, this is done to ensure the body is feeling fresh and to ensure none of your muscles are feeling sore. 

To do this you should take some strength training out during the week of a race or your recovery week. 

  1. Strength Training In Race Week

For the shorter distance races like 5km, 10km, and 21 km we are happy for you to carry on with strength training till two weeks out, and in the final week (race week) you should just keep to the lighter sessions. 

The lighter sessions should be one strength session a week (at Coach Parry we call this our Band and Core type of work) as well as a foot core session.

For marathons and ultra-marathons, it becomes important for two weeks out to REALLY reduce the load on your strength training, you can still do the foot core sessions and band and core sessions. 

In race week you can leave out the band/core session and just do the foot core session. 

  1. Different Kinds Of Strength Training Exercises For Runners

You’ll be able to find a few different strength training exercises by using our FREE Masters running strength training plan that you can do twice a week, at home and with no expensive gym equipment needed.

You should focus on prime movers for running. quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. 

Don’t forget the stabilizers! (Pelvic stability, lower limb stability, foot core, and posture.)

  1. “I don’t have a gym to do strength training…” 

A lot of people believe that strength training is sitting in a gym and doing bench presses, leg presses, and just pushing as much weight as you can…

A lot of people DON’T do strength training because they are worried it is exactly that… They are worried that it will bulk them up and make them heavy which will affect their running…

This is not the case as it all depends on what strength work you are doing. 

Remember… You need to do A LOT of weight combined with A LOT of protein to bulk up!

The type of strength training you should be doing as a runner is generally lightweight, higher reps, bodyweight type of exercises that won’t let you bulk up but rather get so much stronger, and that is the key to strength training. 

There are times (beginning of the season) when using weights is a good idea. 

This idea that runners shouldn’t lift weights is old school.

At Coach Parry, we like runners to lift weights. It just needs to be at the right time in their training program and with the correct technique.

  1. Strength Training For Older Runners

Running fast well into your fifties is DEFINITELY possible. 

Our Strength & Conditioning expert Shona Hendricks talks about what strength training you can do that will help you run faster after 50… 

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…

“Should I be eating carbs?”,” Supplements… Yes or no?”, “What protein should I be eating?”,”Why am I still picking up weight???”

There are so many mixed messages & conflicting advice when it comes to nutrition for over 50-year-old runners.

All you really need is no fluff, science-based nutrition training, and relevant nutritional advice that tells you how much to eat and drink and why you need to eat and drink those certain things. 

Doing physical activity such as running brings a lot of advantages such as a lowered risk of chronic lifestyle-related diseases as well as longevity, but one of the amazing benefits that you get for free, when you train regularly is good bone health. 

Good bone health implies a little bit of strength, but also bone mineral density. Our bones support us and allow us to move. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

There are many things we can do to keep our bones healthy and strong…

We know that a high level of physical activity may prevent fractures; and even if it does not attenuate bone loss, it can decrease the fracture risk. 

Something everyone needs to know is that we will always lose bone…

What we’re going to look at is how we can preserve bone mass as we get older by taking advantage of the benefits we gain through physical activity. 

So, let’s break it down…

Everything You Need To Know About Bone Health

If we have a look at the bone and what it comprises, it’s 65% of minerals. Most of those minerals are Phosphorus and Calcium.  

This is the reason why aspects of your diet become more important.

Bone is also made of connective tissue. Connective tissue contains a lot of different nutrients.

This is the reason why you need to eat a large variety of foods to maintain your bone health as you get older.

Peak Bone Mass

Peak bone mass is usually achieved by the age of 30 to 35. After this age, there is a decrease in bone mass.

A decrease in bone mass means that the bone reabsorption rate is greater than the bone synthesis rate. 

  • Resorption means a decrease in bone. 
  • Bone synthesis is an increase in bone.

Bone Mass

We refer to bone mass as bone mineral density, it is basically how much mineral is in the bone & bone strength. 

Bone strength is the ability to resist the restraint that is placed on the bone, this is done with resistant training.

To have strong bones you need to minimize the risk of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a disease where the bone becomes very fragile and brittle, it basically feeds off of the bone.

Osteoporosis can increase fracture risk and affect your quality of life. 

So, what happens to our bones as we age…

In the image above, you can see the male bone progression on the yellow line and the female on the red line.

As you can see there is a period where we attain peak bone mass, then there’s a consolidation phase, and then there is that rapid loss of bone as we then pass a certain age and as I said, the activity that we do can delay the process, but it’s not going to make you build bone at the age of 50. 

In our early 20s, about 90% of our bone mass is attained. What a lot of people don’t know is that if you didn’t attain it then… then you don’t attain it ever.

That’s why our early nutrition needs to be so good. 

All we can do now is try to preserve the bone mass that we’ve got. 

If we have another look at the graph above you can see that at the age of about 30 years, that’s where we get our highest period of bone mass, then there is a decrease of 0.5% per year after we reach the age of 40.

The goal is to slow down that 0.5% decrease in bone mass each year.

Slowing down the rate at which your bone mass decreases depends hugely on what you had before you reached the age of 40, your genetics, the physical activity you do, and your hormonal status.

Bone loss happens a bit earlier and at a more drastic pace in females compared to males, this is due to a decrease in estrogen after menopause. Estrogen has a very strong protective effect on bone, so after menopause and after the drop in estrogen there will be a steep decrease in bone loss. 

The good news, as you can see in the yellow circles on the graph above is that even though bone mass will carry on decreasing, it can be slowed down through physical activity and proper nutrition. 

Let’s find out how we can maintain what we have for a longer period…

How To Support Bone Health

Key nutrients that support bone health:

  • Protein (meats, dairy, fish, eggs,) 
  • Calcium (Dairy, spinach, kale, okra, white beans)
  • Phosphorus (Dairy, meats, nuts, fish, beans)
  • Vitamin D (Fatty fish, cheese, egg yolk)
  • Magnesium (Whole grains, spinach, nuts, quinoa, avocado)
  • Zink (Meats, Shellfish, nuts, legumes)
  • Copper (nuts, shellfish, offal)
  • Boron (Fruits, nuts, lentils, beans, wine)
  • Manganese (Tea, bread, nuts, green vegetables)
  • Potassium (Banana, broccoli, parsnips, nuts)
  • Iron (Liver, meats, beans, dried fruit, leafy greens)

As well as these vitamins:

  • Vitamin K 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins

The crux of the matter is that we have to try and include all the food groups in our daily diet. 

Bone Health & Food Variety

Dairy is extremely important because that’s the group that supplies calcium and phosphorus, which we need to consume to strengthen our bones.

We should eat fruit & vegetables daily.  A few people try not to eat fruit & veg because they are watching their carbohydrate intake but they don’t realize how important it is because of all the micronutrients veggies and fruit contain. 

Grains and starches should be eaten every day, as well as protein as it forms the matrix in which mineralization takes place. 

In a nutshell, it is so so important that we include all food groups daily.

We should strive to eat unprocessed, in-season nutrient-dense meals so that every bite counts. 

If we have to break it down and if this is all a bit too much for you to take in… just remember these 3 nutrients…

3 Main Nutrients

If we have a look at nutrition and bone health, the 3 main cornerstones are Calcium, Vitamin D, and Protein. 

You should be getting about 1000 to 13000 milligrams of Calcium per day.

Calcium in food, especially in milk is the highest and easiest to absorb. One glass of milk or one serving of dairy products is about 300 milligrams, therefore it makes sense to have 3 servings of dairy products per day to get the correct calcium intake required.

If you are following a vegan diet then…

Good sources of calcium for vegans include:

  • Green, leafy vegetables – such as broccoli, cabbage, and okra.
  • Unsweetened soy, rice, and oat drinks.
  • Calcium-set tofu.
  • Sesame seeds & tahini
  • Brown and white bread (in the UK, calcium is added to white and brown flour by law)
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs, and dried apricots

You should be getting about 1500 to 2000 international units of vitamin D per day.

Vitamin D is not found in a lot of food, tuna or a cup of milk do contain some vitamin D but not enough, the place where you can get a substantial amount of vitamin D is from the sun.

If you live in a place that gets little sun, we recommend that you consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement.

You should be getting 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal.

The protein you consume must be high quality so that it contains over essential amino acids. 

Nutrition Recommendations To Preserve Bone

Bone Health Problems Specific To Athletes

  1. Energy Availability
  2. Low Carbohydrate Availability
  3. Protein Intake
  4. Vitamin D Intake
  5. Dermal Calcium Losses

Energy Availability

When we talk about energy availability, we look at the dietary energy intake, so how much people eat, but we deduct from that the exercise energy expenditure, not the total energy expenditure.

For example, if I take 2500 calories of energy per day, but my exercise is 1500, it means I’ve got 1000 left….that is then what we call energy availability.

If we decrease energy availability by eating way too little or if we train too hard for the amount we are eating then that will have a profound effect on our bone health.

The 1000 calories that are left need to go to physiological functions, such as the liver to work for the kidney and the skin, for the brain and the eyes… all these processes cost energy.

If there is not enough energy left then these processes are going to slow down. 

If we have continuous low energy availability… it is strongly associated with bone health, so there will be a decrease in bone formation. 

The heavier we train, the more we need to eat to fuel the activity, therefore we need to ensure we are eating enough

For women, perimenopause changes how estrogen works and then a slow decrease in estrogen until it eventually flatlines.  The decrease in estrogen will cause an increase in bone resorption, in other words, an increase in bone loss.

There are two ways in which we can enter low energy availability:

  1. Decrease in food intake and keep physical activity the same.
  2. Increasing physical activity but not increasing food intake.

Keeping in mind that the body gives preference to activities… for example, I eat 1500 calories but my energy expenditure so that’s what I train is not 1500 it is 2000.

The body will still spend that energy on training, regardless.

Estimated Energy Requirements

The estimated energy requirements for active older people must be lower because they’ve got a decrease in energy expenditure.

These are ballpark figures of estimated energy requirements according to your age group. 

Low Carbohydrate Availability

Carbohydrates have been a controversial nutrient for years… a lot of people think by cutting out their carbs they can decrease their weight… but really it’s not like that at all.

A low carbohydrate diet will increase your risk of going into a low energy availability state… if not done well. To decrease your carbohydrate intake healthily, you need to add something else to your diet to get the kilojoules that you require. 

Different studies show us that low carb availability on its own without energy availability, without that part of the equation will also affect bone and bone loss.

The provision of carbohydrates decreases the bone reabsorption rate and decreases your post-exercise bone turnover…. In other words, it is very important to consume carbohydrates. 

The carbohydrates that you consume need to be whole grain so that we increase our fiber intake. 

  • 45% to 65% of total calories OR 5-7 g/kg/d (0.08–0.1 oz/lb/d) for general training needs
  • Endurance athletes: 7 – 10 g/kg/d (0.1-0.2 oz/lb/d)
  • Ultra-endurance events: 10 g/kg/d (0.2 oz/lb/d)
  • CHO during exercise > 1 hour → 30 – 60 g CHO (1-2 oz) per hour (food or beverage)
  • CHO after hard exercise (> 90 minutes) → ↑ recovery

For athletes who train hard and daily: 

  • Immediately post-exercise period> 1.5 g/kg (0.02 oz/lb)
  • Additional CHO 2 hours later → ↑ muscle glycogen synthesis

Protein Intake 

Protein is highly important because it is the matrix in which the bone will deposit calcium and phosphorus. It is recommended that athletes consume more protein than the general population. 

Acid Ash

For a long time, there was this hypothesis called the acid ash hypothesis…

People said that if you consume extreme amounts of protein, that will cause higher acidity levels, this is true as high protein diets do cause high acidity. 

To counteract this the body must use one of its buffer nutrients like calcium to make the acidity alkaline, the body does this on its own so there is no need to take alkaline powders or any of those types of products. 

The hypothesis said that if we consume high amounts of protein, because of the acidity, the body will withdraw calcium from the bone to try and buffer the situation. 

This hypothesis is flawed in the sense that when people have higher protein intake, there was an increased amount of calcium that was absorbed from the protein intake. 

The jury’s out. It seems that protein intake might actually be beneficial for the bone because it’s an important part of the bone structure.

The indication is usually to have one to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass. And then with the emphasis on the timing, to rather have a regular intake of smaller amounts of protein. 

We should try to get to about 20 to 25 grams of protein per meal that we eat, and rather have at least four to five meals per day. 

20 grams of protein equates to about 90 grams of meat or chicken or fish. The amount required is about the size of your palm.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is extremely important as we get older because as we age we become less efficient in making our vitamin D from the sun, this is because of kidney and skin functions. 

By not intaking an adequate amount of vitamin D we can experience musculoskeletal pain and a decrease in muscle strength.

The easiest way to obtain vitamin D is from the sun:

  • Moderately fair-skinned people → walk with arms exposed for 6-7 minutes mid-morning or mid-afternoon in summer.
  • Bare skin exposure is feasible for 7-40 minutes at noon in winter, on most days.
  • Dark skinned, indoor training or training at low latitudes → assess vitamin D status.

Good food sources: oily fish (e.g. tuna, sardines, mackerel), cod liver oil, liver, eggs, cheese, and margarine.

  • At-risk population (Those who train indoors, who are extremely fair-skinned, those who don’t get as much sun because of where they live) → blood test to see what levels are before supplementing.

Vitamin D supplementation:

• 600IU/day for people aged <70 years.

• 800 IU/ day for people aged > 70 years.

Dermal Calcium Losses

During high volume or very prolonged exercise, especially if it’s in hot and humid conditions, there is an increased rate of sweat loss. 

There is calcium in the sweat, so therefore we have to increase what we call dermal calcium losses.

An increase in the loss of calcium means there is less calcium in the serum, in the blood.

As soon as calcium decreases in the blood, the body triggers a hormone called PTH.

The job of this hormone is to try and get calcium back into the blood, it does this by withdrawing calcium from your bone to normalize the blood levels of calcium again.

Over the long term, this can lead to a decrease in bone health.

Studies state that if you consume 1000mg of calcium before extended periods of training in hot conditions you can keep the blood calcium levels neutral.

Calcium Content of Foods:

Remember to eat enough energy, it’s important that if you go on low carbohydrate diets to understand you’re harming your bone health. 

High protein can benefit bone health but just make sure that if you consume high protein you do include some dietary calcium.

Vitamin D is important, so get into the sunlight, or have levels tested if you are unsure. 

Understand that dermal calcium losses can be important. So take calcium in around your training sessions, especially before exercise. 

If you need to supplement sometimes it’s okay because as we covered at the beginning of this article… there are a lot of nutrients involved in bone. So it does sometimes make sense that if you’re taking a supplement to take a multivitamin-mineral supplement rather than individually try and manipulate nutrients. 

Remember, the greatest at risk for a poor micronutrient status is those of us that restrict our energy intake, or that are busy applying severe weight loss practices.

Join us for a free online presentation of the…

The Faster Beyond 50 Masterclass

…and discover how you can run well (and faster) as you get olderwithout training more or harder than you currently are, all while avoiding injury. 

If it feels like you’re training harder than ever but not running the paces you’d like to be running or if you’re constantly tired, fatigued or running in some sort of pain, then this is specifically for you.

Save your seat in this training now…