Improving Success Odds By Managing Race Day Nerves

Jannine Myers

When getting ready to compete, whether against other runners or against yourself and the race goal/s you have set, mental preparation is key to determining your odds of success. Just as diet plays a key role in achieving health, weight, and fitness goals, mental fortitude plays a key role in achieving race and performance goals.

Getting to the finish line in a performance-worthy time (and a still physically composed manner), often has to do with how mentally strong you are. In a previous post on overcoming pre-race nerves, I offered some hopefully helpful tips; the following is an add-on:

1. Practice winning in your mind! Not necessarily a literal win, but a win in terms of the goal outcome you’re hoping for.

I can’t say it enough; visualization, and playing out in your mind what your ideal race-day will look like, is an incredibly powerful technique. During the week leading up to races, I like to use my final few training runs to hone my mental skills and get my thoughts in line with how I hope to perform.

More often than not, I am tired by this point in my training, and even though tapering runs are not terribly taxing on the body, they can still feel quite hard after weeks of focused training. The problem with this, is that a tapered run that feels like a struggle to finish can easily result in the body sending a false message to the brain; a message that produces a considerable decrease in confidence. Hence, it’s important at this time to combat false messages and thoughts by practicing techniques such as visualization and positive declarations.

2. Know what your “calming” rituals are, and if you don’t know them, learn them!

I have three specific calming rituals on race day: isolation, deep breathing, and focused self-talk. I enjoy immersing myself in the company of other runner friends as I’m checking in at races and getting myself organized, but as the start time nears the best way for me to calm my nerves and get the adrenaline working for me (not against me), is to excuse myself and go find a place to be alone. A few solitary moments afford an opportunity to meditate, breathe deeply, and practice visualization one last time.

3. In addition to visualization, practice “re-centering” your thoughts.

At my last race, my mental focus strayed a few times and I had to work quickly to recenter my thoughts. The first occurrence was at the start line, before we had even started running. A female who carried the obvious stance and posture of a competitive runner, and who was wearing a pair of Adidas Boston marathon shoes, positioned herself right in front of me. For a moment I was slightly intimidated and questioned my decision to be up front amongst the starter group.

The second occurrence was soon after; I hadn’t even made it to the 1km marker when a cheering spectator – who thought she was being supportive – yelled out, “You’re doing so good! Keep it up!” WHO DOES THAT? An endurance runner with a competitive goal in mind, does not want to hear, at mile .05, that he or she is doing “good!” Heck, there’s still 20.5km to go at that point!

Spectator tip: crowd support is the best – it truly is – but the best time to encourage a runner and let them know they’re doing good is closer towards the end of a race, when both stamina and mental strength are running low 😉

OR, the face you make when someone tells you you are doing great - at mile 0.5 of a half marathon!

OR, the face you make when someone tells you you are doing great – at mile 0.5 of a half marathon!

The third occurrence was when a male runner decided to attach himself to my side and stay in line with my pace. It’s hard enough to concentrate on controlled pacing and breathing as it is (especially when you’re working hard to keep to a set pace), but when you have another runner right beside you mimicking your every footstep so that both sets of footsteps sound like one, it can become quite distracting and annoying.

In all of these situations I momentarily lost my focus, but that’s where meditation can be a game saver! Knowing how to quickly re-center your thoughts when your focus is diverted is key to overcoming such distractions and confidence drainers. You don’t need to be an expert at meditation, but practicing during training runs how to combat drifting or negative thoughts, can really help on race day.

4. Don’t underestimate your ability!

I heard an interview between Lewis Howes and 8-time Olympic Speed Skater medalist, Apollo Ohno, in which Ohno said the following about race day performance: “Somehow we have this unexplainable ability to perform beyond what previous physiology has shown.” With that in mind, Ohno would go into his competitions with a mindset that assured him of greater success, because he believed that in addition to all of his hard work and training, an underlying strength, unconsciously reserved for race day only, would also come into play.

5. And finally, play mind games that help get you from one mile or km marker to the next.

I almost always have some strategy in place, or what I will refer to as a “mile marker game,” going into every race. Giving myself little mind games to play as I run from one mile or km marker to the next, or from one aid station to another, really helps to keep me focused, motivated, and happy. It’s easy to feel excited and on a high when you first start running, but you all know how dismal it can feel towards the end of a race when your energy reserves are low and motivation is seriously waning.

At my last race, I had two things in mind at the outset:

The first was to run for one of my co-workers whose 21st birthday happened to be the same day. I told her that I would count down every kilometre as if it were a year of her life. As I passed each km marker, I would smile and imagine Hannah celebrating a new age and year, and as the finish line drew nearer, I felt motivated to get there faster so that I could imagine in my mind’s eye Hannah turning 21 and celebrating a significant milestone in her life.

The second was not so much a game as it was a source of inspiration. A good friend had sent “good luck” wishes, along with a message that her husband was running his first triathlon the same weekend. Her husband however, had been in a serious hit-and-run accident a year earlier, and was coming back from major surgeries and rehabilitation. Consequently, I made a conscious decision to show up at my race with feelings of gratitude and joy because unlike some, who are physically limited, I am only limited by my thoughts. I not only am capable of moving my legs and running; “I GET to run!”

I hope these tips are helpful; race day nerves can feel quite overwhelming but with strategic attention given to them, they CAN be managed :)

Diet REALLY Is Eighty Percent Of The Equation

Jannine Myers

One thing athletes must contend with is the inevitable likelihood that their training will at times be temporarily interrupted by injury or illness. This is an aspect of training that cannot be controlled, but one thing that can always be controlled, is diet; we are always in control of what we choose to nourish our bodies with.

In the past few weeks I’ve been very fortunate to receive some excellent physical fitness guidance and testing, thanks to a management team that values the ongoing commitment of staff members to further their knowledge and application of research-based health and fitness truths.

My results from a VO2 Max test, as well as an Ultrasound Body Composition test, revealed that I am eating and training in a way that is producing a desirable outcome – despite being forced by recent bouts of both illness and injury to cut back heavily on training. With that in mind, I want to briefly address the diet component of maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle.

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Most people, when attempting to eat for reasons such as weight loss, increased energy, improved performance, or greater overall health, attempt to a) restrict themselves to a reduced number of calories, and b) eliminate from their diet what they consider to be “bad foods.” Initial results might suggest that progress is taking place, but the fact that the average person repeats this process about 8 to 10 times a year indicates that there must be a better way.

Calorie-reduction, coupled with the removal of so-called “bad foods,” fails to produce long-term results, most likely because individuals attach a dieting mentality to their efforts and make too drastic a cut in calories while also placing absolutes on what they cannot eat. In the short-term, as weight loss is achieved, it might feel like health and performance goals are also being achieved, but usually a tipping point is reached where the results curve starts to take a negative turn. When that happens, motivation to continue begins to dwindle; hence, progress is stalled, weight gain occurs, and the cycle starts all over again.

I am a firm believer that eating for health and performance should not feel too difficult or challenging. In my Women’s Group Nutrition Coaching sessions, I introduce my clients to a way of eating that involves mastering new and effective life-forming habits. Achieving a strong, fit, and healthy body does not have to be an undesirable process. Granted, it won’t be easy at first, but with the right mindset and approach, it is possible to learn a way of eating and relating to food that is completely liberating and conducive to your goals.

In just a few weeks time, I will be starting a new group coaching session. If you’d like to be part of this group, or would like to inquire about cost and session details, please send your inquiries to myersnz1@yahoo.com.

[Note: coaching is done online, so for my followers and friends in the States and Japan, feel free to also send inquiries].

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Which cycle are you on??? Change IS possible!

Jannine Myers

– Nutrition and diet has always been important to me, but it becomes even more so during times of training, racing, illness, and injury. Just as I would normally pay attention to how I fuel my body during peak training phases, I also pay extra attention to my food choices whenever my body is under other types of physical (or emotional) stress.

Key Tip # 5 – Get interested in nutrition! Seek out information on the web and at the library, or consult a dietitian if necessary; learn what foods will help to speed up your recovery. Since my immediate goal is injury/recovery-related, my kitchen efforts at this time are focused on meals that contain a lot of anti-inflammatory foods such as broccoli, salmon, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, blueberries, and ginger and turmeric. On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my anti-inflammatory (and easily portable) breakfast meals:

Turmeric-Ginger Fruit Blend With Oats 

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Ingredients (Serves 4):

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 small banana

1 small apple

3 dried dates

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 cup oats

Toppings: 

Plain greek yogurt, a couple of pieces of fresh fruit (optional), pumpkin seeds, coconut shreds

 

Directions:

Mix the coconut milk, banana, apple, and spices together in a blender.

In four bowls (or containers with lids), add 1/4 cup dry oats to each. Top with a little water to moisten the oats. Pour the coconut milk mixture in even portions over all four oat bowls. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When you’re ready to eat, top with a dollop of yogurt, some pumpkin seeds and coconut shreds.

Enjoy :)

Chasing The Shadow Of My Future Self

Jannine Myers

A friend shared with me a video clip which cleverly portrays a runner as two identical persons running at the same time, with one of the runners always slightly behind the other. The catch phrase at the end of the video says, “And so it goes on and on, chasing the person you want to become.”

Watching the video made me think about my own runs and how I often run the same paths and routes, alone with my thoughts, and every once in a while catching a glimpse of my shadow ahead of me.

My shadow, I realized, can potentially be a glimpse of the “me” I hope to become; a shadow of myself that’s wrapped up in all of my hopes and dreams. I can metaphorically choose the path my shadow will take, by setting for myself specific goals that can progressively be moved towards with each running step I take.

I challenge us all to make 2018 the year that we each chase after our future desired self!

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Switch to Japanese Washoku-Style Eating for Health and Longevity

Jannine Myers

This week’s post is a little unusual but I hope you enjoy it. I had lunch recently with some elderly Japanese ladies; these women have been friends of mine for more than ten years and they have become like family to me. I have learned so much from them over the years about Japanese history and culture, and at our lunch they had more to share with me. I learned about this year’s Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival in Okinawa, and how several thousand Okinawans who live abroad returned to Okinawa to reunite with family members and enjoy a joint celebration (read this article for more information about Okinawa’s first wave of overseas migration).

The second thing I learned – which is the subject of this post – is about the traditional Japanese washoku diet. One of the ladies in the group attributes hers and her husband’s good health to the diet that they both follow; I asked her to describe for me what their daily meals typically consist of:

[Note: breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals generally include the same foods with the exception of protein source which alternates between tofu, lean cuts of meat, fish and seafood]

  • Genmai (brown rice) and beans – brown rice is high in fiber and has been linked with reduced cholesterol levels, while beans (of any kind) are really quite an amazing food with their long list of healthy nutrients.
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  • Natto – natto is fermented soybeans that have been soaked, steamed or boiled, then allowed time to ferment after the bacteria Bacillus subtilis has been added. Natto is most definitely an acquired taste, but it’s rich in both macro and micronutrients and it offers an extensive array of health benefits, hence the reason it’s enjoyed by many as a Japanese dietary staple.
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  • Miso soup – miso is also a fermented and nutritionally dense food. Lighter-colored miso is much milder (and generally sweeter) in taste than darker-colored miso, and the lighter colors indicate a shorter fermentation process. It’s probiotic properties aid in intestinal health but also help to build a stronger immune system.
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  • Other daily foods that are added to meals typically include small side servings of various kinds of seasonal vegetables (especially root vegetables) that are prepared and/or cooked in different ways. And of course, a lean protein source is always included.
  • Daily beverages include traditional Japanese teas, but two beverages my friend added to the list were Japanese black vinegar (which contains citric acid that supposedly benefits the brain and immune system by causing an increase in energy production), and hot water infused with fresh ginger and black Okinawan sugar (this beverage is especially helpful during the winter months as it is believed to warm the body from within and also promote better blood circulation).
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    Japanese Black Vinegar

And one last food that I’ve saved till last – since it’s quite interesting and I had never heard of it until now – is black garlic:

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According to my friend, she and her husband add rice and water to their rice cooker, then add several garlic bulbs on top of the rice before cooking. When the rice is done and the setting has moved to “Warm,” they leave the rice cooker unopened and untouched (no changes are made to the setting), for a minimum of two full weeks. The aroma is a little pungent at first, but it eventually settles down and when the garlic bulbs are removed two or three weeks later they look like those in the image above. The garlic cloves are peeled and eaten as is, and apparently taste very sweet and delicious; not bitter at all.

(Click this link and scroll down for a more detailed explanation of black garlic and why it is considered a health food).

Finally, if you’ve never eaten a traditional Japanese washoku meal, here’s an example of how it is typically plated:

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11 Things About Sara Blakely That Goal-Oriented Women Should Know

Jannine Myers

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I heard a podcast interview last week, between School of Greatness host, Lewis Howes, and his guest, Sara Blakely. For those of you who do not know who Sara Blakely is, she is the very successful founder and owner of Spanx, an American intimate apparel company. Named in 2012, by Forbes Magazine, as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, Blakely talked about her life prior to and during her business expansion of Spanx. Listed below are what I believe were some of her most influential and must-read statements, as well as things she revealed about her success – which began with setting a firm vision and intentionally setting out to achieve it:

  • Blakely sold fax machines door-to-door for seven years before deciding to “re-script” her life. She wrote in her journal, “I’m going to invent a product and sell it to millions of people!” And then she asked the universe to give her a good idea! It took two years for the concept of Spanx to enter her mind, but when it did she ran with it.

 

  • Initially there were a string of “No’s,” as one buyer after another rejected her idea, but instead of giving up, Blakely said she found the strength to persevere because she never gave herself any other options.

 

  • Blakely’s first major buyer was Neiman Marcus, and she landed that contract by taking the initiative to call and ask for just 10 minutes of their time. Later, when her product was in the stores and she became acquainted with some of the other vendors, she learned that her direct calling approach was the better one; the other vendors had taken a reactive approach that involved waiting and hoping for a Neiman Marcus buyer to view their products at a trade show.

 

  • Blakely stumbled through her first couple of years of business, but she’s grateful for the bumps along the way because she believes they helped her to do things more efficiently. She tells all new business owners that what they don’t know can be their greatest asset because it ensures that things will be done differently.

 

  • When Spanx undergarments first went on sale in several Neiman Marcus stores, Blakely paid friends and family members to go and buy her product; it was a strategic move that was extreme but effective. Blakely said, “You have to take extreme measures! You have to ensure your success!”

 

  • As a child, Blakely said her father encouraged her to fail. Each week at the dinner table, he would ask her to share one thing she had failed at that week. If she had nothing to report, her father would express disappointment, but if she said for example, “I tried out for an acting role but I didn’t get it,” her father would praise her and say, “Great job!” She says that he taught her to reframe what failure meant; failure meant trying, versus not succeeding.

 

  • Once at a party, two guy friends told Blakely that owning a business meant going to war; they asked her if she was ready for that. Their question – and perspective of business ownership – disturbed Blakely, and in a deliberate act of rebellion she made a choice to take a totally feminine approach to how she conducted her business. She said she prefers to project a “feminine” energy that relies largely on the trusting of her instincts. She also prefers to employ mostly women, because she believes that they are gifted at multi-tasking, and it’s also a personal goal of hers to use her status and financial gain to empower as many women as possible.

 

  • When asked how she feels about being a multi-billionaire, Blakely said she believes that “money just makes you more of who you are.” If you were kind before making money, you’ll be kinder. Alternatively, the opposite is also true.

 

  • Experiencing the loss of several loved ones has made Blakely realize that we only get one short life and that it isn’t a dress rehearsal; consequently it’s important that we try things even when we’re afraid to.

 

  • Several years ago, Blakely appeared on a reality TV show called The Rebel Billionaire, hosted by Richard Branson. In order to move on to subsequent episodes, the participants were required to take on some pretty daring challenges. One such challenge involved a bungy jump from the edge of a cliff into the arms of a “catcher.” If the jump was too short, the contestant would fall a few hundred feet before dangling in the air on the end of the bungy cord. Blakely says that most of the contestants fell short of the catcher, but she managed to land safely in his arms. What she later learned is something she now professes to be a major life lesson; she said that unlike her rivals, who aimed for the catcher’s arms, she set her eyes above the catcher’s headthinking that if she aimed higher she’d have a greater chance of succeeding.

 

  • These days Blakely is a mother of four children, all under the age of seven; she described how she used to waste a lot of mental energy on beating herself up whenever she felt like she wasn’t doing a good job at balancing her business and parental roles. Obviously her work and home responsibilities require equal and careful amounts of attention (that anyone in her position would find incredibly challenging), but she realized that a better way to address any personal shortcomings was to offer up kindness to herself and to cultivate a self-nurturing and accepting mindset.

 

Lewis Howes described Blakely as a legend among entrepreneurs, and I have to agree. She is exceptionally talented, brave, authentic, and inspirational! To hear the full podcast, and get an even greater sense of her character and influence, click this link.

No-Bake Seasonal Cranberry-Chocolate-Chia Slice

Jannine Myers

I thought this week I’d take the opportunity to share a recipe that some of you might like to make in place of other traditional Thanksgiving desserts such as pumpkin and pecan pie. In one of the social media groups that I belong to, we were asked earlier this week to share a “revamped” fall recipe; revamped in the sense that it contains less sugar, calories, and fat, and more wholesome ingredients. So I took a recipe that I shared some time ago, and tweaked it a little – to make it more fall-appropriate – by using as the main ingredient cranberries.

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Ingredients

for the base:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons IsaLean Chocolate Powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the berry layer:

  • 1 cup organic dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons water, plus additional if needed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

for the chocolate topping:

  • 1/4 cup Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted

Directions

  1. Grease a small square baking pan with coconut oil.
  2. Process the oatmeal and shredded coconut in a food processor, then transfer to a small bowl. Add the IsaLean powder and salt, and stir to combine. Melt the coconut oil and whisk together with the agave syrup and vanilla extract, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix well. Press the mixture into the baking pan and set aside in the freezer.
  3. To make the berry layer, place the cranberries, frozen blackberries, and coconut oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. As the mixture starts to warm, add the chia seeds and water, and stir everything together. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer, continuing to stir regularly and adding more water if necessary. The mixture should thicken as the chia seeds absorb the liquid. Once the mixture has thickened into a paste-like consistency, take it off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the baking pan from the freezer and pour the berry mixture over the base; return pan back to freezer.
  4. To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring to combine. Remove the slice from the freezer and pour the chocolate mixture over the top of the berries; spread evenly. Place the baking pan in the fridge to set for an hour or so. Once set, leave the slice at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting into squares. [I recommend storing in the freezer, and letting it sit at room temperature for several minutes before eating].

[Nutrition Info – per slice: Calories 110; Carbohydrates 16g; Sugars 9g; Protein 2.25g; Fat 4.5g; Saturated Fat 2.25g; Fiber 2.8g]

Runners With Recurrent Injuries Should Try Active Release Technique (ART)

Jannine Myers

A new form of injury treatment that I have been trying lately is ART (Active Release Technique); it’s actually been around for a while (and you can read about it’s inception here), but up until recently I had never met a local practitioner. In this post I’ll attempt to explain, as briefly as possible, what ART is and how it may help you if you are a runner with a history of recurrent injuries.

Unlike acute injuries, which are the result of a single event, recurrent injuries are the result of putting the same muscle groups through the same motion, over and over. Runners are particularly prone to these types of over-use injuries because the nature of the sport is a high-impact one, and additionally, most runners fail to practice complimentary exercises that help to maintain healthy levels of mobility, as well as adequate strength, balance, and endurance of the leg muscles.

The injury process begins with overuse, repetitive forces eventually straining the ligaments, muscles, and joints. If poor form – in the way of limited mobility and stride compensations – is also added to the mix, the damage is worse. The injured runner may at first experience mild aches or tightness in the muscles and joints – which the body will try to fix by laying down scar tissue – but as exercise continues, the same muscles are repeatedly strained and healed until adhesions result. It’s when adhesions result that normal muscle function declines and symptoms such as pain, tightness, limited mobility, and diminished blood flow begin to become the norm.

Worse still, if the injuries are never really treated properly – as with traditional treatment methods that generally provide slow and temporary relief – and if running continues, multiple scar tissue adhesions eventually produce significant strains down the entire length of the kinetic chain. Hence a repetitive injury cycle is set up, with muscle functionality, range of movement, and greater levels of pain being the end result.

Traditional forms of treatment by the way, include such measures as anti-inflammatory medications, ice, rest, muscle stimulation, steroid injections, and physical therapy stretches and exercises; they generally don’t work because they don’t target the scar tissue adhesions. ART on the other hand, is a treatment that attempts to go directly to the source of injury and treat it accordingly, thereby producing faster and more effective results.

As a patient visiting an ART practitioner for the first time, here is a little of what you can expect during a session:

  1. the practitioner will attempt to locate scar tissue adhesions;
  2. once adhesions have been located, the tendon, muscle, or ligament will be moved in such a way as to shorten it;
  3. and then firm pressure will be applied while the tissues are actively stretched and lengthened. As the tissue is lengthened, the practitioner can then determine if the texture and tension is healthy, or if scar tissue is still present and therefore more treatment required.

There are other aspects of treatment that you’ll likely experience when you visit an ART practitioner, but the thing I really love about it – besides the fact that it enables practitioners to identify other problem areas in the kinetic chain – is that it delivers quick results. Most running injuries seem to respond well to ART treatment, and combined with at-home stretching and exercises, significant improvement is often experienced after just 4 to 6 visits.

[The following before and after pictures show significant adhesions to the left of my spine, and the amazing results after just one treatment with ART Practitioner, Kathleen Bridget. Treatment involved engaging the intra-abdominal muscles and applying pressure, and then separating the adhesions to increase strength, range of motion and blood flow.]

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A few weeks after first treatment, and feeling much better!

If you are here in Okinawa, and would like to book an appointment with Kathleen Bridget, you can go directly to her online appointment schedule, or contact her via email at Kathleenburke1776@gmail.com, or by phone at 080-6480-3110.

For State-side residents, you can search here for an ART provider.

For Auckland, NZ residents, Calder Chiropractic Centre in Browns Bay uses a range of treatment techniques, including ART.

The Best Stride Is The Self-Selected Stride

Jannine Myers

It’s always great to hear the views of different running experts, and today’s brief post, which features the training philosophy of Coach Pete Magill, is no exception. Magill, a now 55-year-old Masters runner, holds the world record for fastest 5k for age 49+ (fastest time of 14:45), and is the co-author of Build Your Running Body, and author of recently released book The Born Again Runner.

In an interview with RunnersConnect host Tina Muir, Magill made the statement that the “best stride is the self-selected stride.” What he meant is that we can’t simply make a conscious effort to improve our form by attempting for example, to shorten or lengthen our stride. That is a ridiculous notion, he says, because our bodies, while in motion, are firing off thousands of nerve impulses per second that couldn’t possibly be influenced by just a few messages from the brain to the legs. However, practicing regular form drills – an act which does require conscious thinking – will naturally teach your body the motion of a better stride.

Unfortunately many runners are opposed to doing form drills because of the extra time that needs to be factored in to their usual running routine. And this is why Magill believes that a lot of runners are not meeting their full potential, and why injury rates are so high. They run the same runs day after day, using the same motion – but maybe changing up pace, intensity, or distance – yet fail to recruit other important muscle fibers. You could liken this concept to that of a farmer expecting to produce a full harvest despite having watered only a third of his field.

When you neglect to use all of your muscle fibers, explains Magill, the unused muscles eventually atrophy and create muscle imbalances that in turn result in injuries. In doing form drills, you learn how to recruit and use all your muscles together in the most efficient way; that’s what self-selected stride is, and it’s the most optimal stride for faster, stronger, and injury-free running.

Check out Magill’s comprehensive and thoroughly researched guide to building the kind of running body that will get you running faster, longer, and hopefully injury-free.

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[The form drill video demonstrations by Meb Keflezighi and Dathan Ritzenhein, in this post, are also worth trying]

Training, Nutrition, And Your Menstrual Cycle

Jannine Myers

Here’s a post that will most definitely resonate with the female athletes reading this; it’s a post that addresses the issue of a woman’s menstrual cycle and how it impacts her ability and desire to train. For the purpose of keeping it nice and simple, I’ll be omitting all of the   scientific stuff and giving you just the stuff you need to know.

First, let’s take a look at the menstrual cycle:

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The average cycle lasts around 28 days for most women, and it includes four phases which are addressed below:

1. Menstrual and Follicular Phases

During days 1 to 5, the uterus lining breaks down and menstruation begins, then, over the next eight days the uterus gradually thickens again. Pain-tolerance is greater during these two phases, which makes it the most ideal time to focus on higher intensity workouts. Your body will tend to rely more on available glycogen stores, so now is a good time to enjoy some extra carbs – quality carbs, mind you!

2. Ovulation Phase (may include the 5 days leading up to day 14)

This is the time to go for it; if you have a race during this phase, shoot for a PR!

One consideration you need to take into account during this phase, is that estrogen levels will be higher, putting you at greater risk of injury. Elevated estrogen levels adversely affect neuromuscular control, as well as impair collagen synthesis, thereby compromising joint strength. So, give it your all but be mindful of form and technique!

3. Luteal Phase (days 15 to 28)

It’s during the luteal phase that you’ll likely have a higher-than-usual temperature, and that will affect your ability to produce efficient cardio output results. You’ll feel a lot more fatigued and less inclined to workout, especially with the discomfort of greater fluid retention. Hence, this is the best time to focus on fat loss – instead of performance – by reducing the intensity of your workouts and leaning more towards low-impact exercise and easy-paced runs. Since fat will be your body’s main source of fuel, this would also be a good time to cut back on carbs and calories to optimize fat loss efforts.

And there you have it; a simplified approach on how best to train and eat in a way that gets your menstrual cycle working for you, and not against you.