An Aging Marathoner Tries to Run Fast After 40 – Nicholas Thompson

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Running is the most elemental sport. The equipment is simple: shoes, socks, shorts, shirt. The activity is natural. We once ran after antelopes on the savannah, and we now run around playgrounds as kids. For the most part, we compete against ourselves. And because it’s so personal, and so elemental, the inevitable decline that comes with age can be wrenching. Aging reduces our performance at everything athletic, but sometimes it’s hard to make out what’s happening. The ball doesn’t seem to go quite as far; the racket or the bat doesn’t swing quite as fast…….

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/aging-marathoner-tries-to-run-fast-after-40/

 

 

 

 

 

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The Most Important Part of a Runner’s Body is Their Feet – Laura Hill

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Feet tend to get a bad rap. Lots of people say they are the ugliest part of the body and avoid touching them. Others neglect them – letting toenails get ingrown, corns and calluses to develop and tinea to spread. Our feet are capable of handling hundreds of tons of force every day, and runners often give their feet a bashing during events or injure them from overuse and impact-related injuries……

Skipping Is The Best Exercise You Can Do To Become A Better Runner – Laura Hill

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Most running training plans include cross-training sessions to increase aerobic fitness and strengthen muscles. Cross-training helps athletes run faster by increasing fitness, power and efficiency, and it’s also credited with reducing injuries and accelerating injury rehabilitation.

But if you want to really get your blood pumping and your muscles firing, try skipping.

According to the International Sports Conditioning Association, skipping can improve your speed, agility, power, endurance, balance and coordination, all of which are must-haves for running. Skipping works your calves, glutes and quads as well as your shoulders, chest, back and triceps from turning the rope.

Moving meditation

Personal trainer and presenter Lauren Vickers calls running her meditation in motion.

“I try to incorporate running into most of my workouts,” she says.

“My knees have endured many years of high heels, so I can’t run as far as I used to, but I love incorporating some short cardio burners in my outdoor training one to two times a week, with sprints and shuttle runs in between sets.”

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Vickers is a big fan of skipping as a cross-training exercise for runners and anyone wanting a physical challenge.

“Skipping seems like a simple exercise, but it can quickly become extremely challenging,” says Vickers.

“While skipping is gentle on the body, it’s high in intensity. You can really tire yourself out skipping, and consistent skipping will help to improve your strength, endurance and coordination.”

Never skip it

In fact, an Arizona University study found that a 10-minute daily program of skipping is as good as a 30-minute daily program of jogging for improvement of cardiovascular efficiency.

Other research has shown that skipping can not only reduce tension but also raise energy levels. Subjects taking part in a study at Illinois University were monitored while skipping during a 60-minute workout, five-days a week, over ten-weeks. The results included greater leg and knee strength, an increase in calf size, better jumping ability, and faster running speed. Subjects also became more agile and flexible, and their hearts became stronger.

All-round exercises

Vickers loves skipping as a form of cross-training because it can be done anywhere. Vickers loves skipping as a form of cross-training because it can be done anywhere. Her own personal preference of rope is Unit Nine’s sweat plus pack.

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“[It] includes a skipping rope, resistance bands, trigger ball and towel – making it the perfect on-the-go training kit to help me perform a skipping workout at home, the gym, work or at a hotel.”

Vickers says skipping helps runners get used to planting their feet directly underneath their body, and helps to reduce the length of time their feet touch the ground with each step.

“Skipping is a low-impact, effective way to build your running endurance and strengthen the muscles that you use while running without your joints bearing too much load. It also helps to build calf, ankle and foot strength,” adds Vickers.

Do it right

Like any other exercise, runners should warm-up for a skipping workout by getting the glutes and abdominal muscles firing. Give these three exercises a go:

Slide a short resistance band around your ankles and perform 20 crab walks forward and 20 backwards.

Place the resistance band above your knees, lie on your back with knees bent and perform 10 glute bridges.

Using a long resistance band, hold the band at tension with your arms shoulder width apart straight out in front of you. Brace your core and keeping the tension, move the band in halo motions clockwise first, then anti-clockwise for 10 repetitions in each direction.

Once warm, hop to these short skipping workouts:

Workout 1

Warm up for two minutes at an easy skipping pace, and then progress to five sets of interval skipping:

  • One minute easy pace
  • 30 seconds sprint pace
  • One minute side to side skipping
  • 30 seconds high knees skipping

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Workout 2

Warm up for two minutes at an easy skipping pace, and then progress to eight rounds of tabata skipping:

  • 20 seconds sprint pace
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Rest for one minute and repeat the sequence one more time.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

 

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Why You Should Try Meditating While Running (and How to Do It) – Gina Tomaine

I’m running down Kelly Drive in Philadelphia on an unseasonably warm fall day, my purple sneakers softly thudding against the ground. As I run, I notice a young boy skateboarding on the street, and the way his red hat flops to the side. I pass dry-looking trees and plump geese gathered in the grass next to the trail, and a couple kissing on a rock overlook. I notice the way the water ripples as a racing shell cuts cleanly through the center of the Schuylkill River and glides away from me.

Would you guess that I’ve been meditating this whole time?

Meditation is a practice of focusing attention in order to clear the mind and reduce anxiety (see: that constant to-do list running through your head). Learning to focus can help you tune out distractions.

Meditation is not only calming—it also has some seriously positive health results. It’s been shown in certain cases to reduce stress, ease depression and anxiety, to help people cope with pain (something distance runners deal with constantly), and even to strengthen parts of the brain. There are many ways to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice—as little as five minutes a day can still have noticeable effects.

 “It’s a myth that meditation happens only when you light candles or incense and sit cross- legged,” says Chandresh Bhardwaj, founder of the Break The Norms meditation program Instead, he explains, “When you are deeply involved in any activity, you become meditative.”

“A lot of easy running days turn into meditations on rhythm and nature for me,” says Sarah Attar, one of the first women to compete as a runner in the Olympics for Saudi Arabia. “I allow my run to become a space for reflection, exploration, and mindfulness, to connect with the world around me.”

Runners often talk about running as a salve—a way to work through problems, escape negative thinking, or overcome personal demons. The thing is, it’s backed by science: a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise indicated that even 30 minutes of time on a treadmill could instantly lift someone’s mood. And in literature, memoirs of using running as a barometer for self-growth abound, from Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running to Jen A. Miller’s Running: A Love Story to Caleb Daniloff’s Running Ransom Road.

Running, in all of these cases, is rarely ever just running. Or perhaps conversely it is just running, and that simplicity is why it helps diffuse all of those stressors. That is what links running to meditation, especially in terms of mental benefits.

It turns out that running combined with meditation can potentially make both your running, and your mind, stronger. A 2016 study published in Translational Psychiatry found that combining directed meditation with running or walking reduced symptoms of depression by 40 percent for depressed participants, and more research is ongoing.

The key to all of this is that a meditation and mindfulness practice helps build your ability to focus, and running inherently narrows that focus: to the path ahead, to how many miles are left, to whether you need water, to the chill of the wind over a river.

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But there really is no right or wrong way to practice running meditation, says yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Sarajean Rudman. Instead, as Rudman says, “several different paths lead to the same outcome: be here now.”

As any endurance runner will tell you, whether you can keep going in a marathon has as much to do with mental toughness as physical training. Often it’s the mind that gives up or crashes first—not the body. “When we can create a sense of calm in the mind,” says Rudman, “the body can go further. We get to see what we really can accomplish.”

If you’re ready to ditch the headphones, and try focus over distraction, here are nine tips on getting started:

Before Running, Sit Still for Three to Five Minutes

Gina sitting still

“Before you start running, inhale deeply. Hold your breath for a few moments, and exhale. Do this for five minutes or so, and you will experience a deep relaxation before your run,” says Bhardwaj. If you find the waiting too difficult, try to start with one minute of stillness—or as much as you can stand—and work up.

Set an Intention
“It could be a question that has been haunting you for days, or a stressful thought or challenge that has been on your mind,” explains Bhardwaj. “Whatever it is, set an intention that this running will resolve your question.” You don’t have to know what the resolution might be—just put faith out there that this run will help it.

Choose a Mantra
When you are just starting out, “mantra meditation can be very easy to acclimate to,” says Rudman, “and a very powerful tool to use, especially when racing. Choose some words that mean something to you, whether they are in Sanskrit like the classic ‘Sa Ta Na Ma’ (loosely translated to ‘I am truth’), or something simple in English, like ‘I am strong.’ They serve the same purpose: to anchor your attention to and keep you in the present moment. Tether the mantra to your footfalls, so you are using one word per footfall.”

Count Your Footfalls

Gina running

“A great place to begin is simply by counting footfalls. Head out with a number in mind,” advises Rudman. “For example, count every step up to eight, then count back down. As thoughts start to creep in, notice them and return to your counting. Use the numbers as a way to anchor your attention so it doesn’t wander off into what you’re going to eat when you return home, or what you said to your spouse or children before you left, or the things you need to do for work or school. Keep coming back to right now.”

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Make a List of Everything You See (Yes, Everything)
“Become acutely aware of your surroundings,” says Rudman. “You can choose to use sight or sound for this exercise, or take turns with each sense. As you run, begin listing either everything you see or everything you hear as a way to calm what yogis call your ‘monkey mind’ and enter into the moment you are actually experiencing. For example: tree, stop sign, leaf, sidewalk, gum wrapper—or car noise, the wind, a baby yelling, a horn, my footfalls, my breath. You can even combine the two senses along with the other three, taste, touch, and smell. This would look like: “I am aware of a dog barking, I am aware that my skin is cold, I am aware of the smell of the bakery, I am aware of music far away, I am aware of my heart rate speeding up…”

Focus on Your Breath and Posture

Gina Focusing on posture

“Bring more awareness to your breath, as well as your posture while you run,” advises Chesapeake Yoga teacher Julie Phillips-Turner. “Start running at a comfortable pace, then start to ‘shape’ the breath to count inhales and exhales, such as ‘inhale one, two, three; exhale one, two, three…’  If [your] mind gets distracted from counting, notice that and bring [your] awareness back to the breath count. Be aware of slumping shoulders. Try to keep the shoulders back and the chest lifted to allow maximum oxygen to enter the body.”

Ban the Thought “I’m Doing This Wrong”
“The number one mistake people make when trying to meditate while running, or in general, is to get upset because they aren’t able to clear their minds,” says Rudman. “The goal is not to clear the mind, but instead to recognize the mind by being present with it and observing it. Notice your thoughts as they pop up, remember them, and dog-ear them for another time. When we choose to not follow our thoughts down whatever rabbit hole they are leading us, and let them keep on their merry way without us, we are meditating.”

Think About Your Other Body Parts—Not Just Your Legs
Think about your arms, your forehead, your eyeballs—and forget about your legs. “When you are running, feel the breeze embracing your every body part. Don’t just focus on legs. Use your every sense and every muscle to interact with Mother Nature. Such consistent interaction will develop a stronger connection with nature and thus adds onto your healing, and running, ability,” says Bhardwaj.

Celebrate and Express Gratitude for Your Run
Think about how lucky you are to be physically able to be running, and how many people cannot. Think about how you would feel if you couldn’t run. “Meditation means you should be immersed in the process and the feelings and sensations of running,” says Rudman. “You should cultivate a sense of ‘I get to run!’ instead of distracting yourself with an ‘I have to run’ state of mind.”

To further cultivate gratitude, Attar recommends focusing on the beauty your surroundings. “Once a routine of gratitude becomes part of your natural inclination,” Attar says, “you can find a calm and positive spirit in how you go about everything, especially running. When you are grateful for even just the opportunity and ability to be running, it opens up the space within you to become more connected to everything.”

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A Mental Technique Called “Cognitive Reappraisal” Makes Long Distance Running Feel Easier – Christian Jarrett

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When you’re in the middle of a grueling long-distance run and the pain and fatigue is becoming overwhelming, an obvious strategy is to try to force the subjective experience out of your mind, for example by thinking nice thoughts or focusing on the environment around you. The trouble is, as the physical struggle intensifies, the distraction strategy becomes harder and harder to pull off.

According to a new paper in Motivation and Emotion, an alternative approach that holds promise is to practice “cognitive reappraisal” – don’t ignore the sensations as such, but try to view them in a dispassionate way, as if you are a scientist studying running or a journalist reporting on the experience.

The researchers, including Grace Giles and other members of the Cognitive Science Team at the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts, recruited 24 healthy runners (aged 18 to 33, and including 15 women) whose lifestyle included completing at least one run of over nine miles per week.

The runners visited the research lab on three occasions, each time completing a 90-minute treadmill run, keeping their heart rate in the range of 75 to 85 per cent of their maximum – a level classified as “vigorous exercise”.

The first visit, the runners were given no specific instructions to follow in terms of how to cope with the challenge. On the second and third visits they were told to either use “cognitive reappraisal” (to adopt a neutral, detached attitude toward the subjective experience, like a scientist or journalist studying it) or “distraction” (thinking about things besides the run). They also received reminders through the run to use whichever strategy was allocated for that session.

Based on psychological measures they completed before each run, every 30-minutes during, and again afterwards, the participants felt they were exerting themselves less when they followed the “cognitive reappraisal” strategy and they experienced lower levels of emotional arousal, as compared with the run in which they were given no coping instructions.

This was despite maintaining the same pace and heart-rate. In contrast, the distraction instructions appeared to make no difference to feelings of exertion or emotional arousal compared with the control run.

Giles and her team said their results are “relatively novel” and support previous findings that suggested distraction is an unreliable technique. “Instead cognitive reappraisal may benefit exercise experience relative to not using a cognitive strategy,” they concluded.

The findings come with some hefty caveats. Based on the researchers’ own manipulation check that involved asking participants to say which of several statements best described their thought processes during the runs, the participants did not actually engage in cognitive reappraisal during the cognitive reappraisal run.

That said, the researchers reconsidered the statements they’d previously identified as reflecting cognitive reappraisal and decided they weren’t really appropriate – at least not to in relation to how they’d framed cognitive reappraisal in their instructions. On further reflection, they felt the runners’ choice of descriptive statements did suggest they had practiced the strategy adequately after all. They may be right, but these post-hoc gymnastics make the study findings feel less convincing.

Another issue to bear in mind is that these were fit, experienced runners – their average rating for their exertion during the runs was “somewhat hard” and they generally found the experience enjoyable. The findings might not generalize to less fit runners or more arduous challenges.

On a positive note, however, especially if you are new to running or finding it tough, the researchers reckon that both the emotion regulation strategies they tested might have a greater benefit for runners who usually find the experience less enjoyable.

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