Consistency is key for Running Success: B+ not A+ training with Coach Brant Stachel

Consistency is key when it comes to running training – over time we want steady B+ training, not A+ training. 

To provide context, it’s important to define what we mean by “A+” and “B+” training. A+ training is typically characterized by high-intensity workouts that push an athlete to their limits. These workouts can be beneficial for improving speed, strength, and overall performance, but they also come with a higher risk of injury and require more time for recovery. On the other hand, B+ training is more moderate in intensity, with a focus on gradually building endurance and strength over time. This type of training is safer and more sustainable in the long run, and it sets athletes up for continued improvement.

While it may be tempting to incorporate occasional “A+” workouts into your training plan for a quick boost, consistently sticking to “B+” training is actually the best approach for long-term success as an endurance athlete.

First, let’s take a closer look at A+ training. While it can be beneficial in the short term, these workouts can be risky if not executed properly. If an athlete pushes themselves too hard too often, they run the risk of overtraining, which can lead to injuries and setbacks in their training.

In contrast, B+ training allows athletes to gradually and safely increase their workload over time. This not only helps to prevent injuries, but it also sets athletes up for long-term success. By gradually building endurance and strength, athletes are better equipped to handle more challenging workouts in the future, leading to continued improvement.

Is there ever a place for A+ workouts in a training plan? The answer is yes, there is a place for A+ workouts in training, but they need to be carefully planned and executed, not randomly thrown in. A+ workouts can be beneficial for breaking through plateaus, improving performance, and challenging athletes both mentally and physically. However, they should be incorporated sparingly and strategically, with plenty of time for recovery and adaptation between each one.

In summary, consistent B+ training is the best approach for running because it allows athletes to safely adapt to physical stress, sets them up for long-term success, and helps to develop good habits and a strong mental game. While A+ workouts can have their place in training, they should be used sparingly and with caution.


  • Consistency is key for safe and effective running training.
  • B+ training is a moderate intensity approach that gradually builds endurance and strength, leading to long-term success and injury prevention.
  • While A+ workouts can be beneficial when executed properly, they should be incorporated strategically and sparingly, with plenty of time for recovery and adaptation between each one.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Training for Older Athletes with Coach Des Clarke

I was working on this article when the results from the Jackpot Ultras in Las Vegas, NV came through. The race served as the USATF road 100 mile championships. David Blaylock won the 80+ age group in a time of 29:47:29, beating out three other finishers in the age group. David is not the first octogenarian, or nonagenarian, to turn heads with his running. Olga Kotelko set 30 world records and won over 750 gold medals in the 90-95 age group. You can read about her in What Makes Olga Run and Older, Faster, Stronger. George Etzwiler ran the Mt Washington race in 2019 at the age of 99, and was only prevented from running at the age of 100 by COVID cancellations. Clearly there is the opportunity for people to continue running well past the age when society thinks you should be knitting in your rocking chair, napping and playing canasta.

Even at the elite level we’ve seen recent indications that athletes who at one point would’ve been considered “past their prime” are still dominating. Look at Eliud Kipchoge still winning every marathon he enters at 38, or Sarah Hall setting the women’s American record in the half marathon at the same age. Trail runner Darcy Piceu won 4 major 100 milers in 2018 at the age of 43.

However, let’s bring all this back down to earth. Most of us are not going to run 100 miles, or set world records, or live to 100, and that’s perfectly ok. And these stories are inspiring, but they don’t teach you HOW to be successful as an older athlete. Since it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and 100 mile records out there I’m going to provide some suggestions for running your best as you age.

Before we get started I want to note, I’m not selling the fountain of youth. It is inevitable that we’ll all slow down at some point. However, by utilizing the tactics below we can remain healthy and consistent in our running and maintain our fitness as we age.

Strength training

I am a coach who promotes strength training for people of all ages. It improves power, increases bone density, remedies imbalances, and prevents injury. Strength training becomes even more important as we age. Both men and women lose about 8% of their strength each decade after the age of 30. This process is exacerbated in menopausal women as their estrogen decreases. The adage of use it or lose it applies here, if you aren’t working actively to gain muscle, then you’re losing muscle. While it’s aimed more at perimenopausal and menopausal women there’s some great information for strength training for older athletes in NEXT LEVEL: Your guide to kicking ass, feeling great, and crushing goals through menopause and beyond. by Selene Yeager and Stacy Sims

Here are a few quick lifting tips for runners:

  • Try to lift after hard running workouts. That allows your hard days to be hard and your easy days to be easy.
  • Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. Overstressing muscles is what stimulates them to grow and get stronger. As an endurance athlete, and especially for women, you would have to purposefully try to bulk up in order to do so.
  • Incorporate single-leg moves. We all usually have a stronger side, and this will help to ensure that you’re strengthening both equally.


When I was in college I could stay up late on a Saturday, get up early Sunday and bang out 10 miles without any food or water, and then trot over to brunch in the dining hall. If I did that today I would pay – dearly.

Sleep and good nutrition (see below) are two of the best performance enhancers out there. When we are training we are actually breaking our bodies down, which encourages the repair and growth while we rest that makes us stronger. The key is to make sure we get enough recovery, and as we age the need for recovery most likely increases. 

  • Get enough sleep. Some elites get 10 hours a night plus naps, you should shoot for at least 7-8 hours a night. Naps are helpful, and even if you can’t get them everyday, sometimes as little as 20 minutes after a long run on the weekend can help jump start the repair process.
  • Everyone is different, but I usually like my athletes to have at least one day completely off from running and strenuous activity (light movement is fine). Again, this gives your body a chance to repair and reap the benefits of the fitness you are working on.
  • We all train in cycles. Every 2-4 weeks we should have a week that’s lighter in mileage and speed work. Same idea here with the recovery and rebuilding.


I could have lumped this in with recovery, but mobility is important enough to give it its own category. As we age our bodies are less flexible in many ways. It therefore becomes even more important to make sure we’re doing what we can to keep everything moving well. There’s lots of stuff you can do on your own at home, however if you notice that something is a constant issue or seems to get worse it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist, massage therapist or chiropractor before it becomes a big issue that takes you out from running for an extended period of time and requires lots of sessions to correct.

Nutrition and supplements

Perhaps my favorite nutrition advice of all time comes from Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Having a base of good nutrition helps us in many aspects of life, and especially in training. We want to fuel our body mostly with healthy, whole foods that nourish us and help keep us moving. Processed food has less nutrients, more empty calories, and more negative “stuff”. That’s not saying that you can never enjoy some Oreos, but they shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your nutrition plan. If you struggle with nutrition, seeing a dietician can help guide you on the right path. You also want to make sure you get enough carbohydrates to fuel your activity, and enough protein for repair processes.

There are also supplements that can help with performance and aging, although having a good base of nutrition is enough for many people. The key to these is to experiment with one at a time to see which ones seem to help you the most. Some of the supplements I like to incorporate include:

  • Adaptogens like ashwagandha and maca that help the body adapt to stress, including training stress.
  • Anti-inflammatories like ginger, turmeric, and tart cherry.
  • Joint-supporting oils like flaxseed and fish oils.
  • BCAAs to help with muscle repair.


While it can sometimes be frustrating that the messaging around aging seems to be focused on the negatives, we can definitely improve our wisdom and our self-knowledge. Sometimes it’s not the fastest runner who wins but the smartest. You can pace yourself, take care of yourself with hydration and fueling on longer runs, and use knowledge of the course and terrain to give yourself a competitive edge.

You can also set new goals for your running. Maybe you can’t place overall or set PRs, but you can strive to place in your age group, set a PR for your new age category, or maybe try to set a new distance PR by running longer. 

It’s also important to keep in mind your WHY. Yes, winning and getting faster can be fun, but it’s certainly not the only reason you started running. There are physical and mental health benefits that can be reaped at any age. And there’s also the community, maybe you can share stories and encouragement with younger runners. You also have the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community.

Final thoughts

While aging might slow us down a bit, it doesn’t have to put the kibosh on your competitive running days. Take care of yourself, set new goals, and give back to the community. You just might find yourself enjoying running in a whole new light. I also want to note that having a running coach can be a great way to navigate changes in your running and training, gain external insight into your performance, encourage you through rough patches, and have another voice cheering you on in whatever goals you choose.

Photo: Jo Ohm

Des Clarke is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Training for a Winter Ultra: Running through the Whiteout with Coach Dandelion Dilluvio-Scott

In 2020, I stumbled across a race called The Drift while browsing through ultras. The event caught my  attention as it was different from any other race I’d ever encountered. The Drift takes place along the  Continental Divide in the Wind River Range of Wyoming… in the winter! Negative temperatures, fierce winds and wild snowstorms are not only possible during The Drift, but probable. I have since learned that  there are several races like this. They are niche events that require a specific type of grit and resolve to press the register button. I was captivated by the idea of running through harsh winter elements and the  training that would be involved to prepare for the challenges. In 2020 I was not physically or mentally  ready to enter The Drift. The idea of running in the winter fascinated me, but also intimidated me. Still, I  never stopped thinking about that race. Several years later, I evolved into a runner with a passion for moving through extreme environments and moved to Wyoming where The Drift is located. Shortly after  unpacking I sat at my computer and typed The Drift 28 into the search bar… a few screens later I clicked  register. The hardest part, making the commitment, was over. Next I needed to solve the training puzzle! 

I decided early on that to prepare for The Drift 28 I would need to focus on specific training for the  variety of conditions I might encounter on race day. The goal was to gain snow specific fitness, decision  making prowess and confidence by exposing myself to a diversity of race day scenarios. The Drift course  is on a snowmobile track and I have the benefit of living near similar snowy trails. Some folks might not  have this advantage and will likely need to train in a very different fashion than I did. However, even if an  athlete has regular access to a snowy surface, training for a winter race is not as simple as logging snow  miles arbitrarily. There are many details that need to be considered when developing a training strategy for this kind of specialized race.  

In this article I will cover a broad array of subjects including winter gear, snow running, movement in negative temperature, and safety. Winter trail races are complex and my aim is to demystify training for these unique winter running events.  

Keep in mind that winter running can be a dangerous activity with many risks and should not be taken  lightly. The following details techniques and methods that worked well for me. Your own personal risk  tolerance and experience level must be taken into account before proceeding with any of the training  methods/suggestions listed below.  

The Winter Kit 

Winter conditions can range from delightfully chilly to deathly bitter and sometimes both within the  same hour! It is worth carrying the extra weight of additional layers that can be mixed and matched to  create the best temperature regulation system. In addition to a variety of layering options also consider  the following: 

Mittens: The extremities lose heat quickly in the cold and separating the fingers in gloves can often  lead to icy digits when the mercury drops. I suggest carrying mittens in addition to gloves or a glove that  converts into a mitten. In general, I always have two coverings for my hands regardless. Fingers can easily get frostbite and I like having options to protect them.

Vest: I often find myself wearing a softshell vest during brisk days in the winter when it’s too cold to just  wear my base layer, but too warm for a full jacket. It keeps heat in my core without causing excess  sweat. On frigid days I will wear both the vest and jacket.  

Face covering: There are several options out there to protect your face from severe weather. I  personally like to wear a shirt with a large collar that can be pulled up over my face when needed. You  can also use a neck gaiter, ski mask, scarf, etc. The goal is to protect your facial skin (and lungs) from the cold and wind.  

Dark sunglasses: Snow is obscenely bright even on a cloudy day! A good pair of dark sunglasses or  goggles will protect your vision. Glasses will also shield your eyes in blizzard conditions when the snow is  coming at your face like a bunch of tiny needles. I prefer sunglasses with transitional lenses for varying light conditions that wrap a bit further around my face to prevent light (and needle snow) from coming in on the sides. I personally do not use polarized lenses because I like to see the glare of ice. Another critical feature is good ventilation as you might need to cover your face at some point. Note that sometimes in extremely cold conditions glasses will fog no matter how many vents and anti-fog coatings they have. One day my glasses fogged and then the moisture froze!  

Sunblock: Going with the theme of winter’s powerful sun, sunblock and lip balm are two other  important items. Use these products even if it’s cloudy. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I was  fine and then had the most amazing raccoon tan after taking my sunglasses off.  

Traction: Snow and ice can be slippery and you might need a little more than the tread on your shoes to stay upright! The most basic traction devices are spikes which act like tire chains for your shoes. There are a variety of options to choose from in this category, but they simply slide onto your shoe and offer grip in slick conditions. When they’re not needed you can simply take them off. The drawback of spikes is the weight. A lighter, semi-permanent option is to literally install screws into your trail runners for traction. There are many websites with instructions on how to do this. The benefit of screws is they are lighter weight and can be removed when the snow melts. Finally, several companies make winter trail runners with tungsten alloy spikes built into the soles. 

Gaiters: Sure, you can wear Gore-Tex shoes, but snow will inevitably work its way over the top resulting in wet feet! Purchasing a winter specific trail runner with a built-in gaiter or simply strapping gaiters  over all-season shoes will keep the snow out and your feet warm.  


Winter running carries with it the risk of exposure. It is tremendously important to monitor your sweat  output and adjust your layers accordingly sooner rather than later. Nothing will freeze you faster than  running around in drenched layers when the windchill is -10F!  

Additionally, I highly recommend carrying an extra insulating layer (like a puffy coat), emergency bivy,  hand warmers and satellite communication device in addition to the cold gear mentioned in the above  section. These items are part of my kit whenever I venture out on trails during any season, but become especially important in the winter when hypothermia and frostbite are a very real threat. Finally, let  someone know where you’re going and when you will return. This is always a good idea when you go  trail running, but holds additional importance if you are going to run through wind, cold and snow.  Winter is not forgiving.

Leave your Ego at the Trailhead 

Perhaps the very first lesson I learned when I began training for The Drift was to check my ego at the  trailhead. There is a forest service road near my house that I use regularly for hill work during the  warmer months. When the snow falls this same route is groomed for snowmobiles making it the perfect  venue for specific training. I can vividly recall attempting to mimic my “snow-free” pace up the route and promptly hyperventilating 45 seconds later. On dry ground, my endurance pace uphill on the route  was about 11-minute miles at rate of perceived exertion (RPE) 5-6. Now that same pace was RPE 10+  and not even sustainable for a full minute. Running on any snow will slow you down! I had to let go of  any notion of how fast I’d previously run up the hill and completely focus on RPE. That meant uphill  running and power hiking at paces ranging between 13 to 18 minutes per mile and an RPE (relative perceived effort) of 5-7 depending on snow conditions. A  bruise to the ego for sure, but slowing down meant I was able to move constantly and efficiently which  was faster overall than the start/stop pattern of my previous pacing.  

The Surface 

Typically, when you train for a race, you have a pretty good idea of what the surface will be like. Snow  conditions are a bit harder to predict even when the route is on a groomed snowmobile trail. Therefore,  during training I made an effort to expose myself to an array of circumstances. The goal was to give  myself the experience and confidence to run on whatever snow surface I found on race day. This included: 

  • freshly groomed snow 
  • frozen, hard packed snow 
  • ice 
  • punchy wind slabs 
  • powdery drifts 
  • sun exposed slushy snow 
  • fresh snow on top of an old groomed track 

No two snow years are alike! In all likelihood, conditions encountered on a winter course will not be  apparent until the day of the event. Even closer to the race it is difficult to selectively train for specifics  as the snow surface structure will depend on the temperature and precipitation that occurs in the direct lead up to the race and by then you’re tapering! Plus, winter courses will often feature several different  types of snow depending on the aspect, shade, sun exposure, wind, etc. The possibility of the groomer  breaking down right before the race also exists! Consequently, preparing for multiple scenarios is crucial  during training. I also recommend following the weather patterns very carefully during the two weeks  leading up to the race. This will give you a hint of what you might encounter on the trail on race day so  you can mentally prepare. Regardless, be ready for anything! 

Running in The Negatives (true and wind chill) 

Everyone has their own personal definition of what constitutes extreme cold. For me it is anything under  -10F (windchill or true). For others it may be more or less. In most cases, running in the cold is often  done as a necessity. Not many folks seek out training in freezing weather! However, when training for  The Drift, running in unbearable cold became part of my specific training. I hoped to not only gain 

experience enduring the cold, but to also learn what I personally needed to do to combat the icy blast.  Running in extreme cold should never be taken lightly as hypothermia is a very real and deadly risk. If  you’re new to this type of training it is better to run laps near your car or house in case you need to bail  out. It takes some time to dial in your kit and learn to cope. With experience you can begin to venture  further, but always carry the emergency items mentioned earlier.  

Training in extremely cold weather taught me the importance of getting my layers correct the first time in order to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. If I began with too many layers, I would begin to sweat  heavily a few minutes in. Conversely, if I began with too few layers I would feel like an icicle and never  warm up no matter how fast I ran. In either case layer adjustments posed a problem: if I stopped to  switch layers I would turn into an instant popsicle! I attempted to switch clothes a few times in <-10F  and froze so much I ended up sprinting back to the car and driving home instead. I felt chilled for at least  an hour afterward! In these temperatures stopping was not an option for me. I learned to run a lap or  two around the trailhead parking area before venturing further to make sure I got everything right! I  also began to closely observe the temperature and cloud cover before leaving my car and learned from  trial and error exactly what layers I needed for nearly all situations. 

Running in the negatives presents additional risks aside from the obvious danger of hypothermia and  frostbite. Breathing in cold air can reduce you to a coughing fit and for good reason. In this article written by Deb Balzer, Dr. Aryan Shiari explains that “cold dry air can enter your lungs and cause  irritation, leading to bronchospasm that could cause that tightening sensation of the chest.” Breathing  through your nose, instead of your mouth can help alleviate this problem, but that’s often difficult to do  while running. In fact, my body seems to naturally convert to nose breathing when it gets really cold. Then I find myself short of breath because I cannot get enough oxygen to sustain my energy output. This  is my cue to pull up the collar of my shirt over my mouth. Covering your mouth with your shirt, neck  gaiter, scarf or similar item helps warm the air before it enters your mouth which reduces lung irritation.  

Temperature Swings 

Winter often conjures thoughts of cold, but that’s not always the case. It can be 10F outside and feel  like 40F on a clear, sunny day! Even then the temperatures will vary depending on whether or not you  happen to be running in the shade. Temperatures also change throughout the day especially in the  hours around dawn and dusk.  

Temperature fluctuation must be adapted to with great intention during the winter. I previously  mentioned sweat management in an earlier section, but it is worth revisiting. It is all too easy to leave  on your warmer layers as the sun shines overhead. It’s warm out so the increasing amount of sweat  building under all those jackets isn’t such a big deal. The temperature is mild after all, so why waste time  stopping to take layers off? Two reasons: heat exhaustion and hypothermia.  

Sun is powerful in the winter! It is not only shining down from the sky, but also reflecting back up from  the brilliantly white snow. Heat exhaustion can absolutely happen in the winter! Adjust layers to avoid  overheating! 

Conversely, you might feel mildly uncomfortable running in the sunshine with a sweaty shirt, but you  could round a bend and find yourself in a headwind! Windchill can drastically reduce the temperature feel and suddenly that mildly annoying sweaty shirt is causing you to shiver violently. Or, more subtlety, you can run from an open meadow into a shaded forest. Also, running naturally creates air flow over  your body which is like wind. Therefore, if you run into shade there will be a self-created windchill in  addition to a temperature drop. It is worth the time to stop and change your layers to reduce sweat  build up (elimination is impossible)! In order to avoid multiple stops, you can first attempt to regulate  sweat by removing (or putting on) gloves and a hat. These items can help dump or retain heat without  much effort and sometimes are enough to achieve temperature homeostasis.  

Storms, Precipitation and Wind 

Storms, wind and precipitation are always a possibility for races in any season. The discomfort these  elements can bring are exaggerated in winter because severe weather events are more frequent, the  temperature lower and the precipitation is often snow. A great deal of tenacity, confidence, navigation  savvy and knowledge of the correct gear to use in these less than savory conditions is essential during a  winter race. Choosing to run in these conditions was a critical component of my training. In fact, I would  intentionally plan runs during winter storm warnings. 

It should be noted that I am an experienced alpinist and have spent over a decade navigating through  mountains in winter during horrendous weather conditions. I felt very confident going on a few solo  training runs timed to coincide with storms. However, this is not something I would suggest unless you  have the appropriate outdoor background. You can run around the parking lot in the storm or up and  down a quarter mile of road if you are new to winter storm running. More ideally, find a willing experienced winter athlete and train with them in a storm.  

Navigation is also a critical skill when running through winter storms. Sometimes wind and snow are so  intense that they result in a whiteout. Running through a whiteout is like running in a ping pong ball. You  can’t tell if you’re going up or down, left or right, etc. You may experience vertigo. You may not be able  to see hazards like cliffs. Having the ability to stay on track using a GPS is a winter survival skill. Learn the  skill in a warmer environment before venturing out on winter trail runs and especially before running in  a storm. Fumbling around in -5F trying to learn how to read topo lines is not ideal! Additionally, extreme  cold can cause electronics to fail, so keep items like your phone (which will likely also be your GPS  device) in an inside pocket or with a hand warmer.  

Winter trail races are undoubtedly intimidating events.  However, with creative and intentionally specific training along with the right kit the unknowns inherent in winter events can become manageable and even exciting to troubleshoot. The Drift 28 Miler Run 2023 edition ended up featuring some of the roughest course conditions to date.  At the start my car read -4F (others reported -11F), but the 20mph headwind brought the windchill value  down to -25F. About 90% of the course was not recently groomed and a winter storm that occurred two  days prior (during the 100-mile version of The Drift) left snow conditions on the course soft and slow. By  mid-morning temperatures had warmed to 8F and the sun radiated powerfully overhead making the trail  even softer. Exposing myself to a variety of conditions during race preparation paid big dividends. Every  single obstacle I encountered during the race was familiar to me from training which allowed me to  strategically persevere throughout the day. As a bonus, the training gave me confidence during the race  and provided a huge mental boost as well. I cannot recall having a single low point even during the most  rigorous sections. The hours of suffering in the lead up to the event allowed me to suffer with tenacity  and thoughtfulness on the course and was 100% worth the effort!

Dandelion Dilluvio-Scott is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Mental Performance Training for Runners

Mental performance training, also known as cognitive enhancement therapy, is a type of therapy that is designed to improve cognitive function and mental performance. This type of therapy is often used by athletes, including runners, who are looking to improve their mental skills and maintain their peak mental performance.  One of the key benefits of mental performance training for runners is that it can help improve focus, concentration, and decision-making during training and races. By improving these cognitive skills, runners can better cope with the physical and mental demands of their sport, ultimately enhancing their performance.

Mental performance training works particularly well for runners because it targets the psychological aspects that are crucial for success in the sport. Running often involves pushing one’s physical and mental limits, requiring a strong mindset to overcome challenges such as mental fatigue, race-day anxiety, and self-doubt. Mental performance training equips runners with tools and strategies to maintain focus, manage anxiety, and stay motivated during training and competitions. Furthermore, techniques such as visualization, goal-setting, and positive self-talk can help runners build mental resilience, allowing them to better handle setbacks, adapt to varying race conditions, and maintain a growth mindset . Ultimately, mental performance training enhances a runner’s mental fortitude, leading to improved performance and a more enjoyable running experience.

Another advantage of mental performance training for runners is that it can help prevent mental fatigue and burnout. Runners often face mental challenges during long training runs or races, and mental performance training can help them develop mental resilience and coping skills, enabling them to overcome these obstacles and maintain peak performance.

Incorporating mental performance training into your running routine is also a great way to maintain overall mental health and wellbeing. This type of therapy can help runners manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, ultimately improving their overall wellbeing and quality of life.

If you are interested in incorporating mental performance training into your running routine, here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Research sports therapists or mental performance coaches who specialize in working with athletes and runners. You can start by checking local listings or asking for recommendations from fellow runners or coaches.
  2. When selecting a therapist, consider their credentials, experience, and any client testimonials or reviews. Look for a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) or a therapist with a background in sports psychology
  3. Discuss your running goals and expectations with your therapist, and develop a personalized plan that is tailored to your needs.
  4. Attend regular sessions with your therapist and be open and honest about your progress and any challenges you may be facing.
  5. Practice the mental skills and techniques that you learn in therapy, such as visualization, goal-setting, and deep breathing, during your daily runs and races .
  6. Be patient and consistent with your therapy, and be willing to adjust your plan as needed.

In conclusion, mental performance training is a valuable form of therapy for runners who are looking to improve their cognitive skills and maintain their peak mental performance. By incorporating this type of therapy into your running routine, you can improve your focus, concentration, and decision-making, prevent mental fatigue and burnout, and maintain overall mental health and wellbeing.


  • Mental performance training can help improve cognitive function and mental performance in runners.
  • It can prevent mental fatigue and burnout, and improve overall mental health and wellbeing.
  • Research sports therapists or mental performance coaches who specialize in working with runners.
  • Consider credentials, experience, and client testimonials when selecting a therapist.
  • Attend regular sessions and practice the skills and techniques you learn in therapy during your runs.
  • Be patient and consistent with your therapy, and be willing to adjust your plan as needed.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Pool Running for Runners

Pool running, also known as aqua jogging, is a popular form of cross-training for runners. This low-impact workout is performed in a pool and provides numerous benefits for healthy runners, including improved cardiovascular health and increased muscle strength. In addition, pool running can help prevent common injuries that often plague runners, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and knee pain.

One of the key benefits of pool running is that it provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Unlike running on land, which can put a lot of stress on the ankles, knees, and hips, pool running allows you to move your legs in a natural running motion without the impact. This makes it a great option for runners who are looking to cross-train in order to prevent injuries and maintain their overall fitness.

Another advantage of pool running is that it provides a full-body workout. Unlike running on land, which primarily works the legs, pool running also engages the upper body. This can help improve your overall strength and endurance, which can translate to better running performance. Additionally, using a flotation device or pool running belt can help engage the core, which can improve your balance and stability.

Incorporating pool running into your routine is also a great way to add variety to your workouts. This can help prevent burnout and keep you motivated to continue exercising. By switching up your routine and trying new forms of exercise, you can keep your workouts interesting and prevent boredom.

If you are a healthy runner looking to incorporate pool running into your routine, here are a few tips to get started:

  • Begin by setting a goal for your pool running workouts. This could be a certain number of minutes per workout or a specific number of workouts per week.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
  • Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after your pool running workouts to prevent injury.
  • Mix up your routine by using different flotation devices or pool running belts, and incorporating upper body movements.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional.

In my opinion as a coach who has used pool running with numerous athletes, incorporating this cross-training activity into your routine is a great way to add variety and maintain fitness levels during periods of injury or illness. Pool running has been an effective training tool for many of my runners looking to improve their performance, as it engages the upper body and provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Additionally, switching up your routine and trying new forms of exercise can keep your workouts interesting and prevent boredom. While there is limited scientific research on pool running, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can be a valuable form of exercise for healthy runners.

In terms of evidence to support the use of pool running for runners, there is limited scientific research available. However, a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that pool running was an effective rehabilitation tool for runners recovering from lower limb injuries. Additionally, many coaches and athletes have reported positive experiences with pool running, citing its benefits for maintaining fitness levels during periods of injury or illness and improving running performance.


  • Pool running provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints.
  • It engages the upper body and can improve overall strength and endurance.
  • Incorporating pool running can add variety to your routine and prevent burnout.
  • Begin by setting a goal for your pool running workouts and gradually increase the intensity.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after your workouts, and listen to your body.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Tips for Making Treadmill Running Less Boring with Coach Sanne Lansink

By Coach Sanne Lansink

You’re not alone if you love running outdoors and despise running inside on a treadmill. Although the activity is the same in many ways, being outside offers a significantly different experience than running indoors. Yet many people find themselves turning to a treadmill at some point throughout the year: security reasons, dealing with extreme weather, or to escape air pollution, to name a few. 

Completing a run on the treadmill can be much harder mentally than completing the same run outdoors. Treadmills can sometimes be boring or offer less stimulation than a trail outside. But if a treadmill run is in your future and you find yourself dreading that treadmill, here are a few tips to keep it entertaining.

  • Listen to Music/podcasts– Listening to music or podcasts can be very entertaining. A good trick is to pick a playlist that you used to love. For example a throwback to high school or middle school. Songs from years ago are less likely to be overplayed on your playlist and the radio, so the chances of you getting bored of them are slim.
  • Watch TV- There is no better time to watch TV than when you are running on the treadmill. Save your favorite series for the days you are scheduled to run. That way you are excited to get on the treadmill to watch your show. Saving your special show for the treadmill will also have you looking forward to running indoors and will give you a positive outlook on the dreaded treadmill. Save movies for your long runs. Nothing is worse than finishing a show mid-run and not being able to find another one. Not only would that leave you bored but also frustrated! 
  • Phone a friend- Invest in good Bluetooth headphones and catch up on your calls. Since most runs are done at an easy effort, you should be able to hold a conversation. While running, call your chattiest friend, mother, or anybody willing to listen and have a chat. Before you know it, your run will be over.
  • Run Blind- A helpful but frustrating feature on treadmills is the screen that displays how far you’ve gone and how much time has gone by. If you watch the numbers carefully, you will notice that they change slowly. Watching the time tick by can be very frustrating and make the run feel much longer than it is. So cover the screen with a towel and check only when you think it may be necessary!
  • Treadmill features- Some treadmills come with video footage of scenic trails. If you have access to one of these treadmills then check out the different trails and places you can run in the world.
  • Run with a friend- Find a gym that has two or more treadmills available, and bring some friends. Running with friends is always more enjoyable than running alone. So pick two treadmills that are side by side and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Create an encouraging environment- Many people have their treadmills tucked away in their basements or garage. Typically a room or space that has been forgotten about. Organize this space so that it is a place you enjoy being in. Hang up your favorite medals, a chalkboard with your goals written on it, and some wall art with an inspirational quote. A little effort goes a long way, and before you know it, your treadmill will make you feel like an elite runner. Adding a fan to the space can also help with airflow and temperature regulation.

The next time you find yourself procrastinating a run, or avoiding it altogether because of the treadmill, think of all the ways you can make it more enjoyable. The best way to stay committed to running on the treadmill is to establish a routine and to set yourself up for success by creating an environment that encourages the habit you’re trying to create.. A positive relationship with the treadmill can be crucial to having a successful training cycle. especially when you’re subjected to all the things mother nature has to offer.

Sanne Lansink is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Elliptical Training for Runners

Elliptical training is a popular form of exercise that has been gaining popularity among runners in recent years. This low-impact workout provides numerous benefits for healthy runners, including improved cardiovascular health and increased muscle strength. In addition, incorporating elliptical training into your routine can help prevent common injuries that often plague runners, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and knee pain.

One of the key benefits of elliptical training is that it provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Unlike running, which can put a lot of stress on the ankles, knees, and hips, elliptical training allows you to move your legs in a smooth, circular motion that is easier on your joints. This makes it a great option for runners who are looking to cross-train in order to prevent injuries and maintain their overall fitness.

Another advantage of elliptical training is that it provides a full-body workout. Unlike running, which primarily works the legs, elliptical training also engages the upper body. This can help improve your overall strength and endurance, which can translate to better running performance. Additionally, using the upper body handles on the elliptical machine can help engage the core, which can improve your balance and stability.

Incorporating elliptical training into your routine is also a great way to add variety to your workouts. This can help prevent burnout and keep you motivated to continue exercising. By switching up your routine and trying new forms of exercise, you can keep your workouts interesting and prevent boredom.

If you are a healthy runner looking to incorporate elliptical training into your routine, here are a few tips to get started:

  • Begin by setting a goal for your elliptical workouts. This could be a certain number of minutes per workout or a specific number of workouts per week.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
  • Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after your elliptical workouts to prevent injury.
  • Mix up your routine by using different resistance levels and incorporating upper body movements.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional.
  • Talk with your coach about how to incorporate this training into your overall plan. 

In conclusion, elliptical training is a valuable form of exercise for healthy runners. It provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints, engages the upper body, and adds variety to your routine. By incorporating elliptical training into your cross-training routine, you can prevent common injuries and maintain your overall fitness.


  • Elliptical training provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints.
  • It engages the upper body and can improve overall strength and endurance.
  • Incorporating elliptical training can add variety to your routine and prevent burnout.
  • Begin by setting a goal for your elliptical workouts and gradually increase the intensity.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after your workouts, and listen to your body.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Marathon Fueling: What to eat during your Marathon with Coach Brian Comer

What is marathon fueling and what should you eat during your marathon? In sports and life, nutrition bears special importance for maximizing performance and healthy living. While good nutrition should be made a habit, there is particular emphasis that surrounds athletic competitions. The nutrition needs of the endurance athlete are unique and this is only emphasized more as race distances increase. 

As you get towards the marathon and beyond, you’re less likely to be able to get away with simply a pre and post run nutrition plan. That’s where fueling on the run comes into play. While not everyone is blessed with an “iron gut”, like shoes or other running gear, it often comes down to personal preference and what works for you individually. This article will seek to focus on marathon fueling, not so much for marathon training, but the pre-race, intra-race, and post-race considerations for marathon fueling as another spring marathon season looms on the near horizon.

Pre-Race Nutrition

Now when we say pre-race nutrition, while by default that would include nutrition during training, the purpose of the article is to look at the more immediate nutrition for the runner soon to embark on a marathon race. Nutrition is meant to nourish you and balance is key. 

While I used to be an advocate for the night before the race carbo load, I’ve since adopted the strategy of carbo loading 48 hours before a race then leaning more towards lean protein the night before. I feel less lethargic and full on the start line this way than when I carbo loaded the night prior. The night before protein rebuilds muscles, while 48 hours out I still get the carb benefits for race day. But as I mentioned, everyone has their own system, needs and preferences along with what they can physically tolerate. 

Much like new gear, you don’t want to be trying something new on race day, just stick to what you know. It’s important to pay close attention to what time your race starts, not just from a practice standpoint in training, but to allow yourself enough time in the morning to get up, eat, and digest. You’ll also want to make sure you’re hydrating and consuming carbohydrates as the body’s quickest and main source of energy. As alluded to, this can be overdone so be careful but the general recommendation is a maximum of 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram in body weight times the number of hours before exercise.  

Before the race is a good time to practice race day nutrition strategies when you’re out crushing your long run. Here’s where you can find out if you can stomach energy gels or chews or if you’re more of a sports drink kind of person. Most traditional sports drinks tend to be loaded with sugar so if you have the time and ability, you can try making your own. I’ve found that the Endurance Fuel powder from Tailwind Nutrition works wonders, as advertised, no gut bombs. They also have recovery powder as well but that’s more relevant for the post-run and post-race nutrition. As far as energy chews, some come packed with a little extra caffeine than others, both cross brand and within the same brand as well. It’s important to pay attention because while some like the extra kick of the caffeine, others may be more sensitive to caffeine and can have stomach problems because of too much caffeine intake. With gels, you can generally take one at the start of the race and then again every 30-45 minutes during the race. You can adopt the same timeline for sports drinks or even consume a little more often, as often as every 15 minutes if keeping to no more than 4-8 ounces.

Intra-Race Nutrition

Fueling strategies have also evolved and developed over time as more products make their way to shelves and give runners more options than ever before. While the go-to strategy originally was fast acting carbohydrates, it has since morphed into an emphasis of slow acting carbohydrates or a combination of fast and slow acting. The fast-acting carbohydrate strategy made sense at the time.  Your blood glucose falls naturally after 2-4 hours and given that you’re running at least that long if not longer during a marathon, quick fuel makes sense given the natural decrease within that time frame. 

By intaking chews, gels and sports drinks during the race, you’re also bringing some blood back to your GI tract.  The fact that your blood moves from your GI tract to your working muscles while you run is often why your GI tract may be extra sensitive. 

Slow acting carbohydrates are a little more generous to your gut as blood glucose levels are maintained a little more steadily compared to the spikes of fast acting carbohydrates. Factor in that your brain triggers insulin to ensure your blood glucose doesn’t get too high and you have all hands on deck as you make your way towards the marathon finish line. The combo strategy of fast and slow acting carbs for marathon fueling brings the best of both worlds. For most of the race, you use the slow acting strategy then add fast acting carbohydrates in the last 30-45 minutes of the race. You have steady energy for the bulk of the race and avoid the GI issues found with the fast-acting carbohydrates but then get the big energy burst in the homestretch. 

To review a comparison of popular gels on the market, check out this article: Comparing Popular Running Gels

So many options!

Post-Race Nutrition

While often a little harder to get down, especially immediately following the race, protein is the top source for rebuilding muscles after being torn down and put through the ringer. Consuming protein right after a run helps with the recovery process. That’s when you could consider finding more palatable options like the Tailwind recovery powder or a shake. Not everyone can stomach them though and if presented with whole food options, always opt for that over supplements. Even then, many runners have a hard time getting anything down immediately following a run and need some time for things to settle. Besides, if you’ve just been consuming gels and chews for the past 4 hours or so, the last thing you’d probably be feeling like is a shake.  This may not be practical or worth it immediately following the race but you want to make sure you at least get something into your system within that anabolic window that lasts for about 30 minutes after finishing. This often looks like a banana with some peanut butter, which is a good protein source. Chocolate milk has long been a go-to for many but if the lactose puts you off or is something you physically can’t do, there are various milk alternatives in addition to sports drinks to top off your electrolyte stores. The key here is to not wait too long before fueling post-race. Like all the other categories, everyone has their own preferences, it is just a matter of finding what works best for you. 


To reiterate, just like how there is no one-size-fits-all marathon training program, there is no cookie cutter one-size-fits-all marathon fueling strategy either. Through experimentation in training, you can find the fuels and strategies that work best for you while keeping in mind the general principles for good nutrition and more specifically, good marathon nutrition. With the sheer number of products available to runners looking for a marathon fuel source, it can be almost overwhelming but on the bright side, it leads to a surplus of options as you determine what keeps you running and what gets you across that finish line.

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Brian Comer is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Running at Elevation: Will an Altitude Tent Help You Prepare?

with Coach Dandelion Dilluvio-Scott

In the spring of 2022, I was preparing to move from the Puget Sound Region of Washington State to the  foothills of the Wind River Range in Wyoming in early fall. I was, of course, caught up in important moving preparation activities like panicking that all our stuff wouldn’t fit into the truck. In between trips to the dump in an effort to purge and ensure everything would indeed fit in the truck, I found myself pondering how my body would react to the long-term change in altitude. As a mountain athlete living in Washington, I spent a respectable amount of time at elevations between 6,000-14,000 feet. Despite this regular exposure I was never truly acclimated to high elevation. In Jason Koop’s book Training Essentials  for Ultrarunning- Second Edition he notes that true adaptation takes 2-4 weeks of continuous exposure to achieve. Being that my time in the high mountains leading up to the move would be limited mostly to  weekend adventure runs and mountaineering excursions I was certainly not going to meet the dosage requirement. This posed a problem for two reasons. One, feeling sluggish for up to a month upon arriving in the Wind River Range seemed like the opposite of delightful. Two, I wanted to race the Run the Red Desert 100k a week after my arrival to Wyoming. After contemplation and research, I decided that the best option to solve this conundrum was to deploy the use of an Altitude Tent. 

Acclimating with at Altitude Tent: A Brief Review of the Science 

An altitude tent allows an athlete to acclimate through normobaric hypoxia exposure. More simply, this means replicated altitude. When you are standing on top of a summit like Grand Teton, there is a lack of oxygen density. Therefore, oxygen availability to the body is limited as a result of low air pressure. To  imitate this environment an altitude tent lowers the concentration of oxygen using a generator/pump  device that removes some oxygen from inside the tent chamber and replaces it with nitrogen while the air pressure remains unchanged. 

In the end, normobaric hypoxia exposure will elicit the same body response and adaptations as  hypobaric hypoxia exposure (ie: standing on the summit of Grand Teton). In either scenario, long term  exposure to either real or “fake” altitude will cause the body to go through a series of changes in  response to the decreased oxygen availability. In the short term, ventilation or breathing will increase  and a person may experience increased fluid loss leading to dehydration. As time goes on the body will begin to acclimate and increase the production of red blood cells and capillaries. Ultimately this allows  the body to transport more oxygen and, therefore, somewhat counterbalance the lack of available  oxygen at altitude.  

Is an Altitude Tent Right for you? 

A quick review of the section above might lead you to believe that an altitude tent is an ideal  contraption. It sounds like the perfect solution for an athlete preparing for a high elevation race without  the luxury of arriving at the destination with enough time to acclimate via hypobaric hypoxia exposure. 

However, one should proceed with caution when choosing to utilize an altitude tent as part of race  preparation. Altitude tents are not without flaws and, sometimes, these imperfections can offset any  benefit they might otherwise introduce to your training regimen. Take these items into consideration before you click the “place order” button:  


  1. It Ain’t Cheap: Altitude tent setups can cost upwards of $2,000. It is not a small gadget that you  buy on a whim. This is an investment! Therefore, be sure to do your homework both by reading  further in this article and doing some additional research. Many altitude tent companies offer  tent rentals and some even have a rent-to-buy option. I highly recommend taking the rental  route if available so you can test the product and find out if it will fit in your training and lifestyle  needs.  
  2. Higher is not Better: Some companies sell a diverse selection of generators with different max  altitude levels. For running purposes, a system that can reach 10,000ft will suffice. Sleeping in an  environment above this level will not harm you, but there is no added benefit as described in Jason Koop’s book Training Essentials for Ultrarunning- Second Edition. 
  3. Humidity and Heat: You are effectively sleeping in a (mostly) plastic bubble with very little  ventilation. Sooner or later the confines of the tent will begin to feel like a steam sauna complete  with humidity. Of course, with humidity comes condensation. In a dry climate condensation will  simply come in the form of minor dampness on the inner tent walls. However, in a high humidity  atmosphere the condensation can accumulate to the point where you get rained on every time you roll over in your sleep and happen to touch the tent walls! To combat these unpleasantries you may need to invest in a mattress cooling system on top of the already pricy altitude tent in order to get a good night’s rest and properly recover. 
  4. The Ruckus: There are two noise making mechanisms associated with a tent setup: The pump and the generator. The generator’s motor emits a somewhat loud humming sound throughout the night. To some this is white noise and not an issue. Others will find the constant drone irritating making it impossible to fall asleep. The pump action of the mechanism can cause  further disturbance. A tube runs from the generator into the tent to regulate the oxygen. With each pump there is a puff of air that makes a sound akin to a St. Bernard breathing very heavily in your ear. Again, this is a non-issue for some and a huge concern for others.  
  5. Time & Daily Elevation: You’ll recall from the first paragraph that it takes 2-4 weeks for an athlete to acclimate while living at high elevation 24/7. The altitude tent will only be used during sleep which amounts to 7-10 hours per night for most folks. Once you leave the tent any adaptation gains are compromised. Jason Koop notes in his book, Training Essentials for Ultrarunning- Second Edition, that there is no official protocol for how many nights one needs to use an altitude tent to achieve full acclimation. Furthermore, no one fully understands how the daytime elevation of the athlete affects the speed of acclimazation or the tent’s effectiveness overall for that matter. For example, a person living at 500ft will likely respond differently sleeping in an altitude tent than a person spending their daytime hours at 6,000ft. Therefore, any regimen you set will mostly be trial and error and not based wholly on science.  
  6. Your Partner: If you sleep with a partner their sleep patterns and tendencies will need to be taken into account in addition to your own. Perhaps you’re unbothered by noises, but the sound of the pump will keep your partner up all night glaring at you in disdain. Or, more simply, maybe your partner doesn’t like the idea of sleeping in the confines of a tent regardless. In short, talk to your partner before committing to a tent! 

My Experience with An Altitude Tent  

Circling back to spring 2022… I considered each available brand when I made the decision to use an  altitude to prepare for both training regularly at high elevations and Run the Red Desert 100k.  Ultimately, I settled on renting (and later purchasing) the MountainAir Complete System Automatically  Controlled Altitude Tent. This particular model provided mitigation measures to soften (not eliminate)  the inherent issues of altitude tents. My detailed review of the tent can be found here.  

It’s not recommended that you immediately set the tent to 10,000ft on your first night. It is best to  slowly “climb” the mountain. I set the tent to 5,000ft to start with the plan of increasing the vert by  500ft every night until reaching 10,000ft. My husband, Damien, who is also a mountain athlete and  ultrarunner, found that he was sleeping poorly at this rate of ascent, so we dialed it back and added 500ft every 3-4 nights. This worked out perfectly for both of us and demonstrates why your partner needs to be included in altitude tent discussions. Everyone reacts differently. 

For about two weeks I noticed myself breathing rapidly while in the tent and I could absolutely tell when I zipped the door shut that the concentration of oxygen differed from that just beyond the confines of the tent chamber. I did not notice any difference in my sleep patterns or recovery. Damien reported that he wasn’t sleeping as well and sometimes slept on the couch to give his body a chance to recover. It took about 4 weeks of using the tent on weeknights for my breathing to even out and to not notice a  difference in the air within the interior versus exterior of the tent. My husband was able to sleep normally following 6 weeks of using the tent on most weeknights.  

As there is no protocol for altitude tent dosage, we simply planned on using the tent nearly every night when we weren’t sleeping at natural elevation in the mountains. We followed this strategy diligently right up until the 90+ degree days of summer arrived. At this temperature the air conditioner, a fan inside the tent and our newly acquired mattress cooling system combined couldn’t bring the climate inside the tent to equilibrium. On those nights we’d wake up covered in sweat and hastily unzip the tent doors as condensation fell from the ceiling creating a not a no so pleasant midnight drizzle. We learned after a few nights of this fiasco that when the external temperature verged on sweltering it was best to just sleep with the tent doors open and the generator silent. By this time, we’d spent nearly 3.5 months sleeping in the tent with little interruption. We theorized that our bodies were acclimated well enough that taking a few days off here and there would not cause too much of a decline in adaptation so long as we slept in it 2-3 days a week and spent weekends at naturally high elevations. 

In August, Damien and I decided to attempt an adventure run up and down Mount Rainier in a day. Both of us had summited the 14,411ft glaciated volcano traditional style several times prior to this excursion. We experienced some version of sluggishness and/or nausea on the upper reaches of the climb on previous ascents and wondered if and how sleeping in the altitude tent would affect our performance  on this car-to-car adventure. The verdict? Damien and I set PR after PR on this ascent of Rainier. Part of this was attributed to increased overall fitness since our last ascent and completing the climb using lite/and fast methods (trail runners and vests instead of mountaineering boots and 60lb packs for example). However, even though we definitely felt the altitude as we ascended, our pace did not turn into a sluggish trudge nor did we feel any hint of nausea. Instead, our steps merely slowed a bit and we continued upward at a steady pace to the summit. I have no way to measure what percent of our performance increase was accredited to the use of a tent. However, I believe it did play a factor.  

A month later I found myself at 7,440ft at the start line of Run the Red Desert 100k. It had been about  12 days since I last slept in the altitude tent as it was still packed in a box and that box was likely  somewhere at the very bottom of the giant pile of boxes in our living room. However, I’d spent the last  week living at 5,500ft and training on trails at 7,500-8,000ft. When I stepped off the start line at Run the Red Desert 100k I felt normal. The altitude was a none-issue for me during the race and, in fact, it was my best race performance to date. Again, I do not know what percentage of my performance was  fitness-based v. acclimation-based. I can say that I chatted with several racers from lower elevations  who were very fit, but struggling with the altitude on various levels. In my opinion, using the altitude  tent in conjunction with training at altitudes above 6,000ft at least once a week in the months leading  up to Run the Red Desert 100k played a role in enhancing my performance.  

The experience and conclusion I described above is just that: my experience and my conclusion. It is not a scientific study using proper procedures, a large sample of athletes or control groups. You may have a completely different experience using the altitude tent. However, I hope that my story provides insight to athletes considering the use of this piece of specialized equipment as part of their race preparation. As for me, I continue to use the tent as part of my training and will remain doing so as long as it doesn’t impact my sleep quality and recovery. Happy acclimating!

Dandelion Dilluvio-Scott is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

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What is Base Building for Runners with Coach Brian Comer

What is Base Building?

When it comes to running, base building is often characterized by lots of easy running with some strides to maintain footspeed as a reintroduction into run training following a break. It is often incorporated at the beginning of a training cycle as a means to get back into the flow of training without doing too much too soon. Intensity stays low as the mileage gradually goes up. As a rule of thumb, mileage and intensity should rarely if ever be increased simultaneously as doing so can raise the risk of injury. Likewise, when starting a base building phase, one doesn’t immediately jump back to the mileage level they held at the peak or towards the end of their previous cycle. It is a gradual buildup that usually spans the course of a few weeks. 

As the name suggests, base building is intended to build a base, or in the case of distance running, to build one’s aerobic engine. This is due to distance running being largely aerobic in nature. But while base building does principally seek to boost a runner’s endurance, it can also train your central nervous system and improve muscular strength. While one may feel inclined to boost mileage during this phase, this can often be counterproductive. If one feels the need to increase training load, implementing cross training and strength training could work better as you’re likely coming off a period of either active rest or complete rest. 

Generally, more experienced runners can not only sustain higher mileage, but they can also get away with having a shorter duration for base building. This article will seek to not only dissect what base building is but also offer suggestions for how to do so, bearing in mind that not all runners are the same and thus, there is no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all template.

Key Considerations

As mentioned in the intro, what base building looks like for one runner might not be what it looks like for another. While base building consistently calls for stacking easy, steady miles, it is imperative that all runners program it into their training cycle. It is the adaptations made in base building that help you absorb the harder training that is set to come.  Base building isn’t necessarily sexy and can seem monotonous and boring at times, but it pays off in the long run as you embark on the goals you have set in the coming training cycle. Strides during base building can help break up the monotony while scratching the itch for some fast running as you maintain basic footspeed. These are all truths that can be applied to a runner’s base building phase, regardless of experience, PRs, and prior training history. 

As for the differences, base building looks different depending on factors like prior training history, what goal events you’re training for in the upcoming cycle, and injury history. As you’d suspect, injury prone runners should be mindful of not using the lack of intensity to ramp up the volume. Running is a high impact sport and without proper preparation, you run the risk of not being able to handle that impact. With appropriate base training (running and strength training), the body can adapt to the impact by strengthening muscles, bones, and joints.  Regardless of varying training histories, a runner who is planning to focus on the 5k in their upcoming training cycle won’t have the same base building phase as a runner who intends to focus on the marathon. This is due to the difference in demands and priorities for each event. Even removing special considerations for the marathon, having the target race as a longer distance calls for more training volume throughout the program, base building included. Also, it is never too early to factor in what type of course you’ll be running in your goal race and homing in on the specific training needs it presents. Is it on the trails or the roads? Hilly or flat? These are all questions that can be answered and applied early on in your training, even during the base phase. 

How Long Should I Base Build?

When discussing training history, it dives deeper into the question of how long one should build a base. While experienced runners can get away with a shorter base phase, a minimum duration for all runners to consider would be to follow a base building phase for 4 weeks. McMillan Running even offers a suggestion of an even longer base phase, broken into two, 4–8-week increments. The first 4-8 weeks being the mileage base and the second 4-8 weeks comprising the workout base. The mileage base is exactly what everyone thinks of when they think of base building, where a runner is either going back up to a previous training load or building up to a new one. The workout base is a way to get prepared for the faster running that typically follows the base plan Likewise, if you’re coming off a lengthier break, say for an injury, then it would suit you best to have a longer base phase than if you had been healthy and taken a more standard break following the end of your last training cycle. Going back to the earlier point on goal events, the longer your goal event, the longer the base phase. 

What does it all mean?

There are well known hallmarks to base building in distance running that apply to everyone. The stacking of mileage and strides to maintain basic footspeed to reiterate a couple, but it is in the differences that tell a runner what they really need to know. Nobody knows you or your needs as well as you do so you’ll be your own best judge as far as what the base phase will look like for you. Just because something worked well for you in the past doesn’t mean it’ll work as well again. Our bodies require change in order to adapt and grow and by doing the same thing over and over again, you may be stunting your growth as a runner. The distance you’re focusing on in the upcoming cycle might not be the same as the previous cycle or you may be coming off a longer break due to nursing an injury. These are all factors that should dictate how you proceed with building your running base in order to determine how to best build your foundation and tackle the goals you have set for the season ahead.

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Brian Comer is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Brian, check out his coach profile.

Variations on the 20 Minute Tempo and Why it Matters

The Burn Is Real

We’ve all been told the same thing by nearly every coach, physical trainer and fellow athlete in existence, namely that lactic acid is the enemy, a nasty gunk that makes your legs burn, seize up and eventually slow down against your will. While there are some elements of truth to this misconception, modern research has dramatically changed the story we’ve all been told. I’m going to risk spoiling the ending for those who aren’t necessarily here to dive into the science behind what is happening when we run hard.  Simply put, during anaerobic efforts, lactic acid isn’t what’s causing your legs to feel heavy and unresponsive, it’s a different byproduct altogether. While this doesn’t mean that we need to throw all of our lactate threshold workouts (AKA tempo runs) out the window, we can better tailor them to cope with what’s actually happening. In fact, by teaching our bodies to deal with the true culprit of “the burn” we can prepare our anaerobic system for more realistic race specific scenarios and even take advantage of a range of stimuli in order to cause a more robust and extensive adaptation.  Interested in the science of it? Read on! Here for the training impact? Skip ahead!

It All Starts With Energy Demand

All endurance coaches and athletes have their own differing definitions for the exertion level where our bodies begin processing glucose anaerobically (without oxygen). For our purposes however it’s important to nail down some common language. At the risk of oversimplifying it, lactate threshold (LT) is the point on the spectrum at which an endurance athlete can train hard but still keep it aerobic, clearing lactate as quickly as it accumulates in the muscles and in the blood.

To understand lactate and why it gets such a bad rap, it helps to understand how we generate energy while we run. During fully aerobic exercise the body uses glucose (fuel) to create ATP (energy) through several complex reactions and processes.  Even in an aerobic state, byproducts such as lactate are still created but they are able to be utilized or diffused back into our bodies.  In an anaerobic state however, the demand for oxygen is too high for the amount of oxygen we are taking in and/or processing.  While we can still utilize glucose anaerobically in order to create ATP, it’s up to 18 times less efficient than aerobic glycolysis and this results in the “boogeyman” of anaerobic activity, lactate, more commonly known as lactic acid. However, the lactic acid that supposedly gums up our muscles is a fallacy. Rather, almost as soon as lactic acid is created it immediately dissociates (separates) into lactate and Hydrogen ions. The excess Hydrogen causes an acidification of our muscle fibers and blood and affects muscle contraction speed and muscle contraction power resulting in our legs feeling like they’re unresponsive and moving through molasses. While this acidification does correlate with an increase in lactate, it isn’t caused by it. However, the fact remains that our legs still feel heavy and inefficient as we exert ourselves farther and farther past our lactate threshold for longer periods of time.

Variety Is The Spice of Life

If lactate doesn’t cause our legs to seize up and feel unresponsive, then why should we bother training our body to deal with lactate at all? As it happens, lactate can actually be processed as a fuel in the liver, heart and brain and can even be used to create additional glycogen to be used as fuel. This “recycling” can relieve small amounts of the energy demands we are experiencing, and help us to clear out some of the byproducts that are building up. We just need to consistently train this adaptation in order to take advantage of it. For example, the traditional lactate threshold workout is roughly 20’-30’ at a pace sustainable for approximately an hour (this is also the pace most often spit out by online running calculators, anywhere from 10k to half marathon race pace depending on the runner). In this sort of workout, the idea is to steadily adapt to running at a faster pace while still processing all the lactate that you are creating.  While such workouts certainly work to a point, they’re one dimensional and don’t teach our bodies to also take advantage of our ability to use lactate as a fuel.  Additionally, as studied by Dr. Jan Olbrecht, ten to twenty days after traditional workouts such as these, physiological changes begin to manifest. Unfortunately however, these same adaptations begin to level off after a relatively short period of time, resulting in a plateau as the runner will need increasingly larger stimuli in order to continue adapting.  Essentially, the runner will have become efficient enough at 20’ LT runs that their body no longer needs to adapt significantly in order to “survive”.

This is where varying LT comes in.  Rather than just targeting 20 minutes at a steady pace, alternating paces both faster and slower than your target LT pace will work the LT system, but from a different direction. Rather than riding the line steadily, as traditional tempo workouts would have, attempt to push it down by throwing in quicker segments that will dump some lactate into your system, while also mixing in slower ones to  force your body to deal with it by processing and utilizing that lactate. At the same time, by throwing faster paces into the mix, LT workouts are immediately more specific to racing any distance. After all, since when are all races the same pace and effort throughout?  There is no exact recipe to this style of LT workout, faster paces can mean anything from 800m pace – 10k pace, and there is an endless assortment to the work/rest ratio that could do the trick.  

As a second option, try flipping the traditional “finish with the fast stuff” thinking on its head by adding small doses of LT work to the end of more anaerobic workouts such as hill sprints or intervals. Doing so will force you to again practice clearing and utilizing the lactate that has built up throughout a workout. Training for a marathon? Try adding variable paces to the end of your long run.  Accelerating through marathon pace, half marathon pace and 10k pace (or faster) has the same “over/under” LT effect while simultaneously being very specific to marathon racing due to the large aerobic component. 

Caveats and Tips

First off, there’s nothing inherently wrong with traditional steady LT runs. They’ve stood the test of time for a reason, they work. At some point though, every runner will need to change their stimulus in order to advance, it’s the nature of the sport.  Second, as modern research proves what many renowned coaches such as Bill Bowerman, Arthur Lydiard and Renato Canova (among many, many others) have known for decades, it doesn’t prove other coaches necessarily wrong, just that there was more to the story than previously thought.  Below I have included a few potential workout suggestions for various target races. Have some questions? Not sure where to start? Want some suggestions for your own workouts?  Shoot me an email, there’s nothing I love more than talking running or diving into training! – (See bio and contact info at bottom of this article.)

P.S. – This fact is so wild I can’t not include it.  Some of our earliest misunderstandings of lactate came from…FROG LEGS.  Seriously!

Now Let’s Have Some Fun!

Workout #1 –  20’ alternating between 3min at LT effort and 30s at 5k effort.

A Good Fit For – A beginner, intermediate or advanced runner trying LT variations for the first time, can fit anywhere in a training cycle.

Description –  For 20’ of continuous running, alternate between 3min at a LT effort and 30s at 5k effort. Oftentimes the hardest part isn’t the faster segments, it’s settling into the LT pace without slowing down as we are accustomed to doing after a faster rep.

Workout #2 –  3-5×5:[email protected] with the middle (3rd) minute at 5k effort 

A Good Fit For – A beginner or intermediate 5k-half marathon runner who is beginning to add LT variations into their runs, or who has plateaued after several weeks of traditional LT work.

Description –  Run 3-5 LT intervals on 60s-90s rest, press the middle minute at an effort around 5k. This gear change is great practice for racing shorter distances and adds in small doses LT variation.

Workout #3 –  5-7x(800-400) of continuous running, alternating between [email protected] pace and [email protected] pace

A Good Fit For – An intermediate or advanced runner in the late stages of training for a track 10k or even a marathoner in their last 4-6 weeks of training.

Description –  Continuously alternate between [email protected] effort and [email protected]. Again, the challenge is often in the rest! We are trained to “let up” after harder intervals and easing up on the gas without stopping is challenging at first.

Workout #4 –  2000 – 1600 – 1200 – 800 Advancing through 10k, 5k, 3k, mile pace respectively with the last 400m of each dialed back to LT effort.

A Good Fit For – An advanced runner training for anything from the 3k up to the half marathon

Description –  In the same vein as the Michigan workout, complete a [email protected] effort, a [email protected] effort, a [email protected] effort and an 800@ mile effort with the final 400 of each rep cut back to LT effort. For rest, take anywhere from 90s-3:00. The target here is to get some specific and high-end anaerobic running in while again adding a dose of LT clearance and utilization. 

Workout #5 –  3x(3×300) cut downs + [email protected] pace, 90s between reps and 3:00 between sets

A Good Fit For – An advanced runner in the late stages of training for a 1600-10k

Description –  Run three sets of 3×300 starting around 3k effort for the first set and advancing to a little faster than mile effort for the second set and closer to 800 effort for the third. It’s never too late to maintain your efficiency at faster paces. By taking a few minutes and tacking on a [email protected], we again work to clear and utilize the lactate we build up in these types of faster, very anaerobic workouts.

Photo: Syracuse Half Marathon

Andrew Dionne is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Off-Season Training for Runners

This article will answer:

  • What is the off-season?
  • Myths about taking an off season.
  • Why is an off-season important?
  • How to train during the off-season.

What is the off season:

Off-season is a time where training intensity and volume are reduced. For many runners this is between races or goals. It’s a phase in running that can last a couple of weeks to a couple of months, but there is no set duration. The duration and level of activity during an offseason are often determined by the upcoming season, but also by the previous season. The off-season is used to recover mentally and physically, as well as to reflect on the past season, and to plan for the next. 

Characteristics of the off-season include: 

  • Substantial reduction in training volume and intensity
  • Mental break
  • Rest
  • Skill/formwork
  • Goal setting
  • Structure training plans for the upcoming season
  • Cross-training
  • Assessing strengths and weaknesses
  • Trying out new equipment/clothing/shoes 

Myths about taking an off-season

“I will lose my fitness”– There have been many studies on detraining and training cycles. Studies have found that even after 2-4 weeks of inactivity the decline in Vo2max was about 6%, which is deemed insignificant (Coyle et al., 1986).

“I am running great, why change anything?”– Anything can feel good until it doesn’t. Training plans are designed to have peak moments and moments of recovery. Taking a planned recovery phase is important for your training plan to be most effective. 

“I won’t know what to do without my training plan”– Off-season training doesn’t mean you need to throw all planning out the window. You just need to listen to your body, and structure a different kind of plan. Many coaches help their athletes with a plan for their off season.  

Why is an off-season important?

There are a number of reasons for the off-season – here are a few. The off-season is used to reflect and to plan for your next season. You can use this time to plan your race calendar, work on weaknesses and develop an effective training plan. Mental burnout can occur for some runners and the off-season is a good time to rest, reflect, and find new motivation. Our bodies also need rest and the off-season is a great way to ensure that your body is getting the most out of training overtime by ensuring adequate rest. An off-season can also help to prevent overuse injuries and can allow for rehab of injuries acquired during the previous season. By taking an off-season, you’re setting yourself up for success in the next season. . 

How to train during the off-season

The intensity and volume should be lower during the off-season but that does not have to mean no running. Some runners will take some time off of running depending on how their season went and how much recovery is needed, while others may simply reduce their mileage and intensity. It is recommended that runners still maintain a healthy diet and exercise at least  3-4 times a week during off-season. 

When planning your off-season training it is important to evaluate your past running season and the plan you followed. 

  • After a rough season (A season troubled with injuries and aches, both minor and major ones included, or one with some mental burnout.) Training should include time off of running to heal the body and mind. Sometimes this may include time without any workouts if needed and then one to four weeks of low impact cross training such as cycling, rowing, swimming, or elliptical. Strength and mobility exercises can be added as well to work on strengthening weaker areas and rehab any injuries. Shorter easy effort runs can be added once the body and mind are feeling more recovered. Running drills can be added to ensure your form doesn’t get lazy with the easier efforts. The training plan should be reevaluated to see what can be changed to reduce mental burnout and injuries. 
  • After a so-so season (not an awful season but not an awesome season either) Training may include several weeks of easy effort, shorter running workouts. This will allow your body to  recover from the racing season and adapt to a lighter workload. Running drills can be added to ensure your form doesn’t get lazy with the reduced efforts. Low impact cross training should be added to keep training fresh and offer ability for moderate to high intensity workouts with less impact on the body. This time can be used to evaluate your training plan to see what can be added and tweaked to improve your next racing season. 
  • After a good season (a season where physically and mentally you felt strong, accomplished or got close to meeting your goals) Training may include several weeks of shorter, easy runs to allow time to recover from intense training and then can progress to a mix of varied intensity run workouts such as hills, intervals, fartleks, tempo and easy runs. Mileage will stay pretty steady to allow for quicker recovery after workouts. Running drills can be added to ensure your form doesn’t get lazy with the easier efforts. Low impact cross training, strength and mobility should all be parts of off-season training to keep things fresh and balanced. It is important to think of your priorities for next season to ensure you focus your training properly moving forward. 

Off-season is a great time to work on setting goals for the next season, look at your nutrition plan, sleep, develop some mental toughness, and simply deal with the daily stresses of life!  You may want to consult with a dietician, physical therapist, or mindset coach to optimize your plan for the next season. This is also a great time to work with your running coach (or to  hire one!) to help build out the plans for your next big running adventures! And once you are ready to resume training you should feel confident in your routine and plan. You’ll be healthy, with a strong and rested mind, and you’ll be ready to tackle newer and bigger challenges ahead.

Victoria Williams is a coach with Team RunRun. To work with her or to learn more about her, check out her coach profile.

Keeping your Run Mental Game Strong

Off-Season Soul-Searching for the Runner

While many of us are wholly acclimated to running long, grueling miles, and we’ve all had our grit, determination, and mental strength tested in ways non-runners can never fully understand, winter running is a beast of a sport unto itself. One that tests even the most experienced, hardened runners, and one that requires a little patience, a tolerance for discomfort, and the ability to think outside of the traditional training box. Subzero temps see a rise in cross-training runners; weights are dusted off, Peloton shoes are brought out of hibernation, and runners limber up in weekend yoga classes as they stare longingly out at the blustery cold and sheets of ice.

Though these icy conditions and serious snow drifts can make getting your miles in challenging, if not downright impossible, there are other opportunities to be had during the off-season. Even the most intense winter cross-training schedule is likely to be lighter than the average runner’s regular training log, leaving more time for….what, exactly? Reading? Catching up on a woefully neglected Netflix line-up? Or perhaps this relative abundance of free time during the running off-season is the ideal time for some soul-searching. A time for discovering – or rediscovering – your purpose as a runner.

Soul-searching is an awfully lofty term. Start throwing around words like “purpose” at the gym and you may be accused of being pretentious and out-of-touch. Fair? Perhaps. But spending some time really thinking about your why can have a lasting impact on your health and happiness.

As a coach, I have lost count of the number of runners I’ve talked to who discovered running at some point in their adult lives and feel compelled to train for a race because it’s just what you do as a runner. Now, there is NOTHING wrong with running goals that are race-focused. Having a specific target – both in terms of distance and date – can be incredibly motivating and provide a tremendous confidence boost once completed. But we can’t all live in a continuous ebb-and-flow of training cycles – or at least, our bodies will eventually protest if we do. And eventually, as with any cycle of work and reward, the reward loses its luster after a while and crossing that finish line becomes mundane. So, when we take away the bells-and-whistles of racing, what are we left with?

Personally, my big race days are behind me. I rarely race anymore, and when I do, it’s a low-key local race or a trail race I can do with my brother. Contrary to what I recommend to my clients, I run every single day without fail, averaging 10-12 miles/day. I do this because my running purpose has become clear to me over the years. Not only am I a better mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee, coach when I’ve taken that time for my physical and mental health, I have my best brainstorms for my coaching business – and life in general – while I’m running. And, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I know that many of my friends and neighbors are inspired by my dedication and willpower; in a sense, I run daily because we all need a little continuity and consistency in life. If I can be that source of consistency for even a few people, then I have done my little part in this world. And for some people, seeing me find time in my busy schedule to run 10 miles every single day is the inspiration (or guilt-trip?) they need to take some time for their daily self-care, too.

So take these colder months and challenge yourself in a different way. Keep the cross-training up, log those cold-toed miles when you can, but carve out some time to really consider why you started running – and why you keep running (and no, an excuse to eat more pie at Thanksgiving is NOT an acceptable answer). At the core of this process are fundamental questions you must ask yourself about your what, why, and how.

  • What are my talents, my strengths, my gifts?
  • Why do I push myself to be a better person, a more fulfilled person? Is it for myself, for my kids, another family member? What is my BIG goal in life, how I envision myself in 10, 20, 30 years?
  • How can I become this best version of myself?

Most importantly, be fully honest with yourself. There are no right or wrong answers here; we all bring something of equal – if different – importance to the table. And there’s no time like the present to figure out exactly what your why is.

arlington running coach

Kate Marden is a coach with Team RunRun. To work with Kate or to learn more about her, check out her coach profile.

Mountain Air Altitude Tent Review – Coach Dandelion Dilluvio-Scott

Product: MountainAir Complete System Automatically Controlled Altitude Tent

Typical Price: $4,820.00

Where to buy:

Best Use: Altitude acclimatization via normobaric hypoxia exposure. In simpler terms, this tent system can be a good altitude acclimatization alternative for an athlete who does not have the luxury of arriving to a high elevation race with enough time (typically about 2 weeks) to adapt naturally via hypobaric hypoxia exposure.

Sizing: Bigger than expected

Additional Sizing Comments: See “Changes for the next model”

Comparison to Past Models: NA

Comparison to Other Brands

I personally have not used any other brand of altitude tent. However, before purchasing from MountainAir Cardio I did extensive research on several brands and altitude tents in general. I discovered that most folks agree that altitude tents can be hot, humid and loud. Those three items can disrupt the sleep cycle and, therefore, inhibit recovery. This would cancel out an acclimatization benefit. MountainAir recognized these three issues and took mitigation measures not found in other brands which is why I ultimately decided on their tent system.

To keep noise to a minimum an extra-long air delivery hose is provided so the air separation unit can be kept in a different room. Additionally, the output end of the hose is equipped with a silencer. These additions do not eliminate sound completely, but they do keep it tolerable for me.

To address the hot and humid factor MountainAir Cardio added a fan for both ventilation and accurate elevation tuning. The altitude is assigned via an app which can be set in 500ft intervals. Adjusting the dial on air delivery unit alone will bring the tent to roughly the altitude the user is hoping to achieve. However, the controller box, which is unique to MountainAir, monitors and records the altitude data from inside the tent. As the altitude in the tent approaches the set level on the app the fan will turn on allowing for cooler outside air to enter and a precise altitude (the fan will change speed to keep the altitude at the level you indicated in the app).

The fan ventilation system worked well for temperature control in the spring. In the hot summer months the built-in fan system in conjunction with running the air conditioner on high didn’t work well to combat heat. During both seasons a layer of condensation coated the inside of the tent in the morning as well. I tried to further regulate humidity and temperature with a battery-operated fan clipped to a little loop made for this purpose on the tent ceiling. It helped, but it was still not the best sleep situation for me.

MountainAir does recognize that their fan system is not perfect. To help further combat the heat issue, they partner with ChiliSleep and offer a discount code on their website. The ChiliSleep systems are expensive even with the discount, but I found that the ChiliPad and ChiliBlanket Cubes combined with the air conditioner made the tent comfortable during hot summer months. Now that winter is here I set the ChiliPad Cube on a higher temperature to stay warm at night which is a nice bonus. As far as the humidity issue, it vanished when I relocated to an area that happens to have very dry air so I am no longer searching for a solution to combat condensation as it no longer occurs.


The tent and air delivery unit seem durable and the app provides reminders for periodic maintenance to help prolong the life of the system. After about 10,000 hours (3-4 years) the air delivery unit can be sent back to MountainAir Cardio for a full “tune up”.

I would also like to note that the customer service is top notch at MountainAir. When I first got the unit the provided smart plug malfunctioned and wouldn’t work. MountainAir had a new smart plug delivered to me in two days. A few months later I moved and the controller refused to connect to my new wifi system. Two days later I had a new controller and MountainAir arranged a UPS pick up for me to return the old controller as I live in a remote area with no UPS Store. They also patiently answered my questions during the setup of the system and are prompt and courteous with responses.

Changes for the next model

It would be nice to see an add-on product to make the tent more compatible with the ChiliSleep Products. There are three tubes that run from the ChiliPad and ChiliBlanket inside the tent to the outside water cooling cubes. The tent is zipped around these tubes, but there are gaps that allow air to escape the tent creating a “leak.” I stuff these gaps with microfiber clothes and it works well to keep the regulated air inside the tent contained. However, they need to be checked/adjusted often making it not the most streamlined system.

The tent is marketed to fit a full or queen size bed. While it does fit my full-sized bed the tent droops and sags in places as it’s really made for a queen. A tightened piece of webbing holds the tent tightly to the mattress to combat the poor fit and needs to be re-adjusted every few days. It would be nice to have a tent that truly fits a full sized mattress or an adapter kit of some kind to help the current sized tent match better with a smaller bed.

The True Test – Would you recommend it?

The altitude tent absolutely helps me with performance at higher elevations. However, I am not sensitive to the noise and can sleep well inside the tent now that I have a good temperature regulation system. Other folks may have a different experience, so I would not recommend that prospective buyers purchase the tent outright. It’s a lot of money to spend on a product that may inhibit sleep quality. I suggest renting the system for a few weeks to see how sleep is impacted (if at all). MountainAir allows the rental of their systems for a minimum of 4 weeks with the option to apply the rental fee to the cost of buying the unit should the athlete decide they would like to commit to a full purchase. I personally rented my system before buying it.

Keeping it Honest

I received a discount when purchasing this product and I also get a percentage if one of my athletes uses my discount code for MountainAir Products.

Dandelion is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out Dandelion’s coach profile.

What is Run Specific Core Training?

In 2008, Canadian Triathlete Carolyn Murray finally realized her dream of being selected for the Olympic triathlon team. Murray was often in the lead pack off the bike. However, despite being an excellent runner, she would fade during the run. After trying many strategies, Carolyn tried something different altogether. She doubled down on her core training. I recall her explaining that it was her stronger core, not more speed work or volume, that was the difference maker. She said her body could hold it together, maintaining a faster pace, as fatigue set in near the later stages of the race. 

This feel-good story always stuck with me. As an undergrad in kinesiology, it was exciting to see the relevance of a sound core training program start to be embraced amongst endurance athletes. Back then and still today, many endurance athletes fear strength training, including core training, thinking it will waste time or worse, reduce performance by creating large, bulky muscles. Done correctly and efficiently, this could not be further from the truth. 

Despite run training progressions, studies found that novice runners do not improve run techniques for greater efficiency or reduced risk of injury. 

They still showed a greater increase in trunk inclination (bending forward at the waist) and increased ankle eversion as the runners became fatigued.  Research indicates that poor core endurance can reduce your ability to maintain a trunk position, negatively affecting run kinematics. These trunk changes reduce run efficiency and increase risk of injury, indicating that core strength and endurance must especially be addressed. 

It is often said that every action each step we take is initiated from the core. It is often said that power comes from the core. When good technique is used during running or daily tasks, power is often generated through the hips and is transmitted through a stiffened or “braced” core. Lesser known or discussed, the core more often functions to prevent motion rather than initiating it, stabilizing and protecting the body. A “functionally strong core” is essential for injury prevention and optimal performance. 

What is the Core? 

We are not just talking abs here! Core encompasses your entire back, abdominal wall muscles, and glutes. It also includes your latissimus dorsi and psoas muscles, linking your core to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms. You can essentially think of the core as everything aside from your limbs. Ideally, the muscles work together to create spinal stabilization, called “core bracing.” 

Unlike your limb muscles, your core muscles often co-contract, stiffening your torso so all muscles become synergists in your running and daily life activities. This is important, and this is the reason why training your core needs to be done differently than your limbs to be the most effective. 

Core and Run Performance

Is core training going to increase your V02max? Likely not. It will, however, improve something that may be more beneficial: running economy.  

Core endurance is a very important part of run training, as it helps to maintain an efficient trunk position. Studies have demonstrated that core stability training improves running performance. One of the reasons is, yep “core bracing!” With core bracing, the body becomes stiffer to accept the foot impact. 

Core endurance is especially important during long distance and/or high intensity running, as muscle fatigue is greater. Research aside, essentially every triathlete and runner I have seen with dysfunction, injury, and frustrating performance has had insufficient core strength and endurance, especially regards to spinal stability. Just look at a runner who is running, bent over. That was me when I started running! Not only does the bent over runner reduce one’s ability for oxygen exchange, the kinematics change, causing inefficiency and greater stress on the spine, hips, and knees. But this can be improved with a little consistent training. In the Ogaya study, for example, runners significantly improved their trunk muscular endurance after four weeks of training, three times per week. Their hip range increased, which can effectively open-up the stride, and angles of their lower limb angles improved, reducing risk of injury. 

How To Effectively Train the Core? 

Should you be doing sit-ups? Crunches? Isolating the obliques? Negative. 

In fact, doing repeated spine flexion (ie situps and endless crunches) are training the muscles in a manner they are rarely used, and performing numerous situps may increase risk of spinal disc injury. McGill, renowned spinal expert, states that “focusing on a single muscle generally does not enhance stability but creates patterns that when quantified result in less stability.” Your core is like a team: Together Everyone Achieves More. Effectively training the core means training all the muscles to work together.

The best way is to train the less glorified muscles. We are not talking 6-pack abs here, rather the deep pelvic and spinal stability muscles, referred often as “control exercises.” Exercises that truly enhance spinal stabilization are the exercises encouraging stiffening of the entire core musculature. The best way is also to include exercises that transfer into running, called “dynamic correspondence exercises.”  Dynamic correspondence exercises enhance movement patterns and other components of fitness to prepare you in the best way for your sport.

Three Core Exercises

Here are three great exercises for the runner toolbox that will improve your core strength / trunk stability specifically for running. Although I am also a fan of weight bearing core exercises (i.e. various offset carries), I chose these exercises as they do not require equipment, can be done anywhere, anytime, and are a great foundation to build on.  The dead bug and bird dog exercises especially mimic similar running movement patterns: Alternating mobility in one leg and stability in the other leg, along with opposing arm movements while core bracing, making these excellent dynamic correspondence exercises. 

Try and keep your training program simple, effective, and efficient for more energy and time to be spent doing what we love: Running!

  1. Glute Bridge Variations

Why: Promotes the correct firing sequence pattern of: Engaging your glutes before your hamstrings and lower back. This enhances your ability to produce greater force and reduces risk of injury. So common in runners, hip flexors, back stabilizers, and other smaller muscles take on the roll of the glutes if they are not firing properly. The hamstring muscles can take over too much of the burden as well, extending the hips instead of what should be – the glutes. Over time, without the correct firing sequence, this can lead to overly tight muscles and negatively affects your stride.

How to (Figure 4 Glute Bridge Demo Link): 

Lay on your back with feet approximately hip width apart or a little wider, perform a very mild pelvic tilt (just a couple inches or so for a “neutral spine”) and focus on squeezing your glutes. This is super important. We can easily use our back muscles to compensate and just power through this exercise, changing the glute bridge exercise from beneficial to detrimental. Sometimes literally placing a finger on your side glute helps to activate the right muscle group. 

Cross your arms over your chest to reduce the help from your upper body, and slowly lift up. Breathe out on the way up, breathe in as you return to starting position.  There are many glute bridge variations. Please see demo links to a variation that does not require any equipment and will facilitate a hip stretch at the same time.   

Keep movements slow and deliberate. If you are experiencing fatigue before your desired reps are up, stop.  Done correctly, you likely will not lift up all that high and should feel your butt burning. Feel the burn!

Sets and reps: Try 10-12 repetitions per side, 2-3 sets, 2-3 x week. This is a general guideline only and will vary per athlete. Again, if fatigue sets in and you are losing form, stop. It is better to do 5 good repetitions versus 10 bad ones.

  1. Dead Bug Exercise

Why:  The dead bug is an excellent exercise for runners! It resembles motor skill patterning used in running. The dead bug is a control exercise. You are teaching your body to control and stabilize your trunk- essentially reinforcing a stiff and stable trunk and pelvis – while your limbs are moving. 

How to: Dead Bug Demo Link Here

Lay on your back with knees bent approximately hip width apart and your arms raised in the air directly above your shoulders. Bring both legs up, with your hips and knees flexed at approximately 90o. Your knees should be directly above your hips, with your ankles dorsiflexed (opposite of pointing your toes, pull them back), and your lower back in a “neutral position”. 

From this position, slowly lower the right leg, maintaining approximately 90o flexion and touch the ground briefly with your toes. Bring your right leg up, and alternate with the left leg. Repeat for desired reps or until you get fatigued. Advanced versions include extending the leg out instead of touching the ground, and the very advanced version includes extending the leg out while simultaneously pulling your opposite arm away from the leg.

You should be performing this in a slow and controlled manner, breathing in as you start the movement and breathing out upon returning to start position. 

It is vital that you maintain a neutral spine, it should not change during the exercise. For a neutral spine: perform a very slight pelvic tilt or you can think of gently pressing your ribs into the ground, “keeping your rib cage down.” Don’t overdo the pelvic tilt though, another common mistake! If you are not sure about this, a friend can help. He or she could place a resistance band under your lower back and gently try pulling the band out as you are doing the exercise and if he/she can’t pull it out, then you are keeping the neutral position. If you are on your own, you can try placing a small rolled up towel under your low back to start. 

Tips: If you feel your back losing its neutral spine, try doing less reps or a lower-level dead bug. Examples: dead bug breathing- in start position, breathe deeply 3-5 times then relax and reset. Or, shortening your lever (ie touch the ground closer to your butt with knees at a greater flexion). 

Remember, dead bug is a control exercise. If you see people using weight and/or powering through quickly doing tons of reps, don’t be tempted. As in most of these, they are a great exercise performed incorrectly and for the wrong reasons. Done correctly, you should really engage your lower abdominal (pelvic region) muscles, even just getting into the ready position. Remember to move slowly and thoughtfully! 

Sets and reps: Try 8-12 repetitions per side, 2-3 sets, 2-3 x week. Again, this is a general guideline only and will vary per athlete. Remember, if fatigue sets in and you are losing form, stop. Start with fewer reps or the modified versions mentioned. 

3. Bird Dog Exercise

Why: The bird dog is another control exercise that emphasizes core bracing while moving limbs, making it an excellent exercise for runners!

How To: Bird Dog Demo Link Here

Start all fours in “table-top position” (knees under hips and hands under shoulders). Press your hands firmly into the ground and while maintaining a neutral spine, slowly extend one leg out with opposite arm, then the other side, keeping your hips stable. This means keeping your hips square, and not allowing one hip to shift. This is the most important part of the exercise.  

I would start with arms only, progress to legs only, then finally the opposites once the previous variations become fairly easy. You can also add a band for resistance. However, be careful not to overload yourself and change your mechanics. Remember: The most important part is to keep your spine and hips stable. If one side is dropping, then you are defeating the purpose. Remember: Core bracing!

Sets and reps: Recommend 5-6 repetitions per side, 2-3 sets, 2x week. As with all, use the modifications best suited to your ability, stop and reset if you are fatiguing and losing form.

Word of caution:

If you have back problems or are experiencing back pain with any of these exercises, stop and see your health care practitioner. 

A Little Goes a Long Way

Including a few simple exercises consistently can make a positive impact on your running, both in terms of performance and injury resilience. Doing these exercises consistently – i.e. 3 times per week for less than 10 minutes – is a better payoff versus one big session per week. You can do these before a run, after your warmup, or within your strength and stretching sessions. 

Incorporate some specific core training consistently and enjoy the benefits. Run on!

Tammy Kovaluk is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

The Ins and Outs of Tapering

Runners working toward a half marathon and particularly a marathon or longer often hear talk about tapering. They know it means they should decrease their mileage and scale back their workouts as the race gets closer; however, many runners avoid tapering because they fear it will negatively affect their race-day performance. Even when runners do taper, many of them do not have a full understanding of why they should taper, much less how they should taper. 


In general terms, tapering is a gradual reduction in training load. It focuses on adjusting the volume and intensity of training in preparation for an upcoming race to allow the runner to peak at the right time. It is most associated with longer races, from half-marathon to ultra but can happen to a smaller degree before shorter races. Recreational runners who do taper tend to focus most on tapering before marathon distances and longer, although some taper before half-marathons as well. However, studies have shown that most (64%) recreational runners tend to either not taper or not have a disciplined approach to their taper, which can negatively affect their race day performance. 


Many runners are afraid of tapering because they think it will negatively affect their race-day performance. However, the opposite is actually true. Tapering allows the body to start to go into a recovery mode of sorts, where the decreased training load helps reduce the physical and psychological stressors it endured during many weeks of tough training.  This recovery mode will allow the body to replenish your glycogen stores, revamp your immune system, and improve enzyme and hormone levels. The body has been taken to the limit during training, and the taper is designed to rebuild and re-energize it and get the athlete ready for race day.

Many studies have shown that race-day performance typically improves by about 3% when a taper is implemented. What better reason can an athlete have to taper than this? This improvement in performance is due to positive changes in the majority of body systems due to the decrease in training stress. Few fitness gains are made during this process. It is more of a way to allow the body to rest and prepare itself for optimal performance. 


Even when runners do taper, many know very little about exactly how they should go about it. There is a fine line between tapering too little and too much, and this line can be different for each person. However, there are general guidelines that everyone can follow and then tweak based on their own experiences. 

Most studies have suggested that it is optimal to maintain the training intensity during tapering (i.e. continue to run marathon pace tempo runs or appropriate speedwork), while training volume (i.e weekly and long-run mileage) is decreased significantly over the taper time and frequency (i.e. number of training sessions/week) is also usually maintained. It has also been suggested that consistent progressive tapers (i.e. where the training volume is gradually decreased by a certain percentage each week) are associated with better marathon finish-time results for recreational runners than a less disciplined taper (i.e. where volume is decreased one week but then increased the next). There are other ways to decrease the training volume but most studies seem to suggest that a progressive reduction in volume produces the best results. As far as length, multiple studies suggest 4-28 days as the optimal taper length, depending on the distance of the race. A meta-analysis found that the 2 week taper was optimal for competitive athletes before a marathon, while another study on recreational runners found a 3 week taper was optimal for this group. 

While tapering is a science, it is also an art. The art lies in finding the right balance of decreasing the volume to the amount that allows the body to recover while not decreasing it too much that it goes into full-on rest mode and the benefits of the recovery are lost. Too short of a taper will not allow the body to reap the benefits of full-system replenishment, where too long or quick of a taper will lead to a de-training effect, such as when an athlete takes time off when the season is over. 

There are various plans and suggestions for tapering that suggest the best percentage to decrease the overall volume and the long run volume each week. The meta-analysis mentioned above found that a reduction in volume by 41-60% was optimal for competitive runners. Again, this is a rather large range so there is definitely an art to finding the best range for each athlete. Some plans suggest fully resting 2-3 days before a marathon, while others significantly reduce mileage during race week, but suggest a very easy 2-3 miles before race day to promote better sleep and stress relief. 

This is where working with a coach can be beneficial. It will allow a runner to have assistance in knowing their training plan and how their body responds to help design the best taper for the individual. That being said, there is some trial and error, even when all the research is used. If optimal results were not achieved with one design, it is beneficial to try another design for the next race. 

The research is abundant on the fact that tapering is beneficial to race day performance. There are also many studies that suggest ranges of optimal taper length and the best way to progressively reduce mileage. However, there is no one formula that has been found to do this that fits every runner out there. In the end, like many aspects of running, it can be said that the science behind tapering is sound but that the art of tapering is individual to each runner. 

Carrie Neiman is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Does it Matter how I Tie my Running Shoes?

In addition to coaching I work as a floor manager at a family-owned run specialty shop. We put the shoes on and take them off for customers and tie them as well. I can tell you that when a customer insists on tying their own shoe I usually have to sit on my hands, and sometimes I have to close my eyes, because lacing is such an important part of how they experience the shoe.

In fact, how shoes are tied is so important that we usually spend a good chunk of training practicing tying shoes. So let’s talk about why the way you tie your shoes is important, and then a few tricks you can use in your lacing to solve common issues.

General Lacing

To talk about lacing I first need to talk about a properly fitted shoe. Your running shoe should be snug in the midfoot, a slight slip in the heel is ok but it shouldn’t feel like it’s coming off your foot, and you want room to wiggle your toes. When standing with your toes on the ground (not lifted towards the top of the shoe to see where they are) you should have a half to a full thumb width in the front of your shoe. And do you know what makes that midfoot hold the shoe securely on your foot? You guessed it, the way you lace. 

There are lots of nerves and blood vessels running on the top of your foot. The key is to make sure that the lacing is not so loose that the shoe slips around, but also not so tight that we’re cutting off circulation. I have seen people, typically men of retirement age, who will literally loop the laces around their hands and pull as hard as they can. That is too tight.

You also want to make sure that the laces are uniform the entire way up. You do this by starting at the base of the laces and tugging there and then moving up eyelet by eyelet. If you just pull at the top you’ll have loops of loose laces at the bottom and potentially too snug of a fit at the top. Here’s a video demonstrating proper lacing. 

Special Tricks

Laces dictate the snugness of the shoe, and this snugness can vary slightly based on the tension you put on each section. However, with certain shoe issues there are some lacing tricks that can help immensely.

There are times you may need more space in the front of your shoe. Maybe your forefoot is wider, maybe your toes are swollen during an ultra, or maybe you have a black toenail. To give this extra space you can simply take your laces out and then re-lace your shoe skipping the first set of eyelets.

This trick allowed a friend of mine to run Western States with a broken toe. A few weeks later she also finished the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race with the broken toe, riding the horse who had stepped on and broke said toe weeks earlier. 

Sometimes you may have pain on the top of your foot that is irritated by the laces passing over it. There are also cases where people may have an extremely high instep, a bony protrusion on the top of their foot, etc. In these cases skip-lacing can be effective. It is exactly what it sounds like, you lace up to just below the affected area, and skip to the eyelets above the area. This allows the shoe over the area to be looser, while still snugging it around your foot.

Finally, there are times when a shoe slips too much in the heel, but fits well in the rest of the foot. In these cases, you can either do drop lacing or a runner’s knot. For drop lacing you simply use the top eyelet that is further back. This grabs the ankle material further back and snugs it around the heel more).

If you still feel that the heel is slipping too much you can try a runner’s knot. For this, using the top two eyelets of the shoe you go up through the front eyelet and down through the back eyelet, creating a loop. You then cross the laces and drop them down through the loops. Then use a sawing motion to tighten the laces down. Check out this video to learn more.  One word of caution with the runner’s knot is that it can be easy to get too much tension and put unwanted pressure on the tendon in the front of your foot.

To recap, it is important to lace your shoes properly. It’s essential to getting the right fit for your running shoes, and in some cases can help fix issues that you’re having with your shoe or foot. There is a rumor that Lebron James spends 15 minutes before basketball games getting the right tension on how his shoes are laced. As a runner it’s well worth a few minutes to get our lacing done right! 

phoenix running coach deserae clarke

Des Clarke is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

UltrAspire Bronco Race Vest Review

Looking for your next running vest to carry water, gear and fueling? Check out the UltrAspire Bronco Race Vest, reviewed by Coach Hunter Burdette!

Typical Price: $130

Where to buy:

Best Use:

This is a great vest for racing. This vest eliminates a few key problems that I have had with other race vests. I typically struggle to reach items that I have placed in the back pockets of most race vests. The Bronco sits higher up on the back so that I can actually retrieve items from the back of the pack without having to take the vest off. Also, it covers a smaller are on my back and since it sits higher up I get better air flow on my back and don’t retain heat as much as I would with other packs. The vest is also not as constrictive as some other that I have owned allowing me to breathe easier with the vest on.

Sizing: True to size

Comparison to Other Brands: It really feels like an extension of the body. I have typically used other UltrAspire packs or Ultimate Direction packs in the past and this is far more comfortable.

Durability: Not sure on durability at this time. I have only had this vest for about one month but everything seems very durable so far.

Changes for the next model: Maybe add a built-in holder for poles

Would you recommend it? Yes I would recommend this to a friend.

Keeping it Honest – did you get this gear for free? No, but I get a discount on their products

Hunter Burdette is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Gear Guide Inclusive of All Sizing

What types of clothes should one look for as a runner? Can a runner just grab anything from the closet and head out for a run? Ideally, yes. Wearing clothes that are comfortable is the best place to start while running. As one starts to run more, they may find that those everyday sweats are a little too heavy to run in, or that cotton tee is causing more chafing than preferred. Clothing for running is lightweight and designed to move with your body and is designed not to chafe. Running gear is generally made with technical fabrics to hold up for more cycles in the wash. The fabrics used are usually nylon, wool, or polyester. These fabrics allow running in cold weather to keep runners dry and warm, and in the summer they wick away sweat, keeping you dry and preventing chafing. Women will also need to look for supportive sports bras for running. Sports bras should fit comfortably and not be stretched out. For some general advice on essential runner gear, check out this Team RunRun article. In this article, we’re going to focus on gear that is inclusive of all sizing. 

Inclusive sizing

Runners come in all shapes and sizes and some sizes are harder to find than others in proper athletic apparel. Inclusive sizing is a new trend in retail, and one of the largest trends to emerge. Clothing before this trend would come in sizes small to extra large and anything larger than extra-large would be labeled plus sized and put in a separate section. The average American woman is a size 16 (waist size 36 to 38 inches) and the average American man’s waist size is 38 to 40 inches. Body acceptance and the realization that there is health at every size has created this trend in society and clothing retail has finally started to follow. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes as well. Below is a list (in no particular order) of brands that support inclusion of all sizes and the sizes that they carry. 


Women’s clothing size xs to 3x

Bra sizes 28-42, cup size A-D

Oiselle is an athletic clothing brand for women made by women. Their mission is to bring in community and make athletic gear for all women of any pace and place; “Our mission is threefold: Make great product, improve the sport, and build the sisterhood.” Most of their clothing has pockets, they are anti-chafe, comfortable and are true to size. 


Women’s clothing size xxs to 3x

Bra sizes 30-44, cup size A-DD

Athleta is a branch from the clothing brand GAP. Their mission is “to ignite a community of active, healthy, confident women and girls who empower each other to reach their limitless potential.” They have true athletic clothing, quality apparel that will not chafe, is comfortable, and is true to size. 

Old Navy Activewear

Men and Women’s clothing size xs to 3x- Tall sizing available

Bra sizes 30-50, cup size A-DDD

Old Navy is another branch of the clothing brand Gap. They carry both men and women’s sizing and make tall clothing, which is 2-3 inches longer than the regular size. Their mission is “to ensure the world runs right by creating a better tomorrow for future generations through our Imagine Mission’s three pillars: inclusivity, opportunity and sustainability.” Old navy has a variety of activewear perfect for runners. They are a more affordable brand with a slightly shorter lifetime of clothes. 

Superfit Hero

Womens clothing size Large to 7x

Bra sizes Large to 7XL(39-71)

SuperFit Hero is a womens clothing line that supports fitness being for every body. “We move. We Play. We celebrate our bodies without apology.” They have worked to phase out their small and medium sized clothing in favor of extending their largest size to a 7x.  The CEO Micki Krimmel made the change after years of research on the needs of extended sizing for athletes. Her mission is to help athletes of any size feel welcome and not go through the struggles of trying on clothes with inconsistent sizing and lack of access to proper sizing. 

Girlfriend Collective

Women’s clothing size xxs to 6x

Bra sizes xxs to 6x (29-60.5)

Girlfriend Collective is an ethical manufacturing brand. They believe in using recycled materials and no waste. They believe health and wellness comes in many shapes and sizes. “We believe in being transparent, taking care of the people who make your clothes and never putting our bottom line before what’s best for the planet.” Their fabrics are high quality and all recycled. Guaranteed soft and comfortable and made with the highest quality to fabrics lightweight and chafe free. 


Men and Women’s Clothing size xs to 4x

Bra sizes xxs-4x (29-50)

Fabletics is an active wear company for men and women. They have a special VIP membership program and are geared towards making members completely satisfied with affordable products. They do market research every year to guarantee customer satisfaction. “Our mission = Our members”. Their aim is affordable pricing and high end clothing.


Womens clothing size xs to 6x

Bra sizes xs to 6x (30-60.5)

Yitty from fabletics is designed by three-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lizzo. Yitty is her lifelong dream come true. She has been working towards building size inclusive clothes based on the principles of self-love, radical inner confidence and effortless, everyday wear. The brand sells shapewear and some athletic gear. She wants women to look in the mirror and feel confident about how they look and what they wear. 


Mens and Women’s clothing size xs to 4x

Bra sizes 30-36, cup sizes A-G

Nike is an American multinational corporation and headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. Their mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. They are in support of the movement “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” They strive to make continual improvements on their line to keep up with athletes and sports. 


Everyone is born to move their body and find the movement that inspires them. Running is one of the most common forms of movement and the most simple to get started. Every body is a runner’s body and more brands are creating more sizes everyday to fit all shapes and sizes of athletes. The list above is just a start of brands that have inclusive sizing. Find the outfit that makes you feel comfortable and enjoy your run! You deserve it. 

Ashley Brush is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Nutrition Tips for Beginner Runners

So you just started running, how does your nutrition factor in?

As a runner there is so much information available that it is often difficult to figure out what things are most important that impact our training, recovery and how we feel in our daily lives. In this article we aim to outline how to think about fueling as a runner, and to make it as clear as possible! 


We can think of our daily requirements in terms of building blocks of carbohydrates,  protein, and fats. A general breakdown of daily intake is around 55-65% carbohydrates, 20-25% fats, and 15-20% proteins for most endurance athletes. 


Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for working muscles. Current guidelines suggest that we consume between 3-10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight every day. That is a huge range! The reason for this varied range depends on whether you’re exercising at a light, moderate, or hard intensity. 

This sounds clear and simple, but in reality, who counts carbs relative to body weight? There is an easier method to make sure you are consuming enough carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. It is called the Plate Method. Pick the plate below that matches your training for each day. 

  • Easy training day 
    • ½ plate colorful vegetables
    • ¼ plate carbohydrates
    • ¼ plate protein
  • Moderate training day 
    • ⅓ plate colorful vegetables
    • ⅓ plate carbohydrates
    • ⅓ plate protein
  • Hard training day or carb load prep
    • ¼ plate colorful vegetables
    • ½ plate carbohydrates
    • ¼ plate protein

Our muscles store energy from carbohydrates in the form of glycogen which is usually sufficient for an exercise duration of 90-120 minutes.  Once glycogen is depleted athletes will feel fatigue and experience a drop in performance. Carbohydrates need to be replaced generally after this time at the rate of 30-60 grams/hour for continued performance.  

Carbohydrates can be broken down into complex carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates. 

For runners a baseline daily intake of complex carbohydrates and use of simple carbs for fuel just prior or during a workout generally works best.

Fiber is very important as it helps to keep us full for longer, keeps our digestive tract healthy, helps lower the “bad” cholesterol to name a few of its benefits. If you are a morning runner, you will want to consume fiber later in the day. On the flip side, if you are an evening runner, consume your fiber much earlier in the day so it doesn’t interrupt your running. 

What’s the role of Protein in a Runner’s diet? 

As a runner the most optimal intake contains plenty but not excessive protein to build and repair muscle tissue, produce hormones, boost your immune system and help replace red blood cells. 

Protein has two different types – complete and incomplete. It is important for building strong bodies, helping develop muscle, and repairing bodily tissues. Complete proteins have the 9 essential amino acids that our body does not produce. Examples of complete protein are: fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products (milk, yogurt, or cheese), beef or pork, soy. 

Incomplete proteins are proteins that don’t include all 9 essential amino acids. Examples of incomplete proteins are:  nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans. 

If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, experts recommend you eat a variety of different proteins in the form of nuts, seeds, lentils, and whole grains on a daily basis so that you’re forming complete proteins in your diet through a combination. There are also a few sources of complete proteins that you can get from plants. Among them are quinoa, buckwheat, and hempseed, but you may not get the same amount of protein that you would get from animal sources for the same serving size. It is recommended that vegans consume 10% more protein than the general  recommendation, because plant proteins are not as readily digested. 

As runners we need slightly more protein than the general population to repair the small amounts of muscle damage that occur with training and to support the building of new muscle tissue. 


Fat is needed for a variety of reasons, such as helping the body absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), hormone regulation, and building tissue membranes. Fats digest slowly so it increases satiety.

About 20-35 percent of your total calories should come from healthy fats such as olive oil, peanut and nut butters, nuts, avocados, flaxseed, salmon, tuna and oily fish. 

Now we know the big picture building blocks of what to fuel your body with – Carbs, Proteins, and Fats. Now let’s dig into the details of when to consume these fuels in order to optimize your training. 


Before your Run

Plan to eat your meal 3-4 hours prior to running. Your meal should include quality carbohydrates (such as whole grain toast or overnight oats), and lean protein (such as eggs, peanut butter, or cottage cheese). It is important to keep consistent hydration throughout the day so you are properly hydrated for your run. 

Thirty minutes to 1 hour prior to your run, refuel with a quick snack that pairs protein and carbohydrate. Try applesauce and a mozzarella cheese stick, sliced cucumber with hummus, or crackers with peanut butter. Remember to drink 8-12 oz of fluid (water, sports drink) 1-2 hours before your run. 

During your Run

You will lose electrolytes, and utilize glycogen and protein during exercise. Replenishing these as best you can will improve your performance and are vital to continue on! Try “quick-acting carbohydrates” such as sports drinks/gels/beans, fruit snacks, or even bars during exercise. Your hydration is individualized depending on how much you sweat, but generally, you want your urine to be pale yellow in color. 

After  your run 

Within 30 minutes of your run it is important to refuel with protein in order to repair and build your muscle tissue (as well as re-energize you). Your post-run snack can be identical to your pre-workout snack (carb/protein pairing). Remember to re-hydrate! You want to take in 16-24 oz of water or sports drink for every pound lost during your run. 

2 hours after your run, it’s time to eat! Remember to include your lean protein, quality carbohydrate, and low fiber/fat composition. Try whole wheat pasta, chicken breast, and cooked asparagus mixed with pesto sauce for a quick and delicious meal.


Hydration is dependent upon sweat rate (more on that below!)  Average needs are 20-35 ounces of water/sport drink/electrolytes every hour. Sport drinks have 6-8% carbohydrate and can also help replace sodium and potassium. If the run is between 60-90 minutes, hydration can be with water only. For runs over 90 minutes (or if it is hot out), add a sports/electrolyte drink to replace those lost through sweat. 

How to Calculate Sweat Rate

  1. Determine body weight lost during exercise: Body weight before exercise minus body weight after exercise = pounds of water weight lost.
  2. Determine the fluid equivalent, in ounces, of the total weight lost during exercise: Pounds of water weight lost during exercise x 16  = ounces of additional fluid that should have been consumed to maintain fluid balance during the exercise session.
  3. Determine the actual fluid needs during an identical workout: Total fluid needs = ounces of fluid consumed + ounces of additional fluid needed to establish fluid balance.
  4. Determine the number of fluid ounces needed per hour of exercise: Total fluid needs / duration of exercise, in hours = number of fluid ounces needed per hour of exercise. 

Tips for Runners and Endurance Athletes:

Now that we know the basics about runner nutrition, nutrition timing, and hydration, let’s summarize with some quick nutrition tips to help you fuel your running journey. 

  • Eat frequent meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Do not skip meals
  • Include a quality carbohydrate, lean protein, and healthy fat with all meals and snacks to increase satiety.
  • Include vegetables and fruits with meals and snacks. 
  • Rely on water throughout the day and water/sports drinks during exercise.
  • Consume a post exercise snack as soon as possible (within 30 minutes) after training

Lastly, many people start out running as part of their weight loss or life transformation journeys. Sometimes this is successful, but sometimes weight loss does not occur with running. Sometimes runners actually gain weight. There are multiple causes and explanations for this. To learn more about running and weight loss, check out this article HERE

A good mindset around nutrition is to strive to achieve a good balance to support your running and active lifestyle. This should be a way of living and not a restrictive set of rules. Listen to your body as some days you may need more recovery, some days you may need more fuel but aim to fuel your running and life to stay healthy, have more energy and run faster longer. 

Further Reading

To really dive into this topic,check out Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, which helped guide much of this article. 

This article was co-written by Coaches Jodi O’Shea, Ashley Brush and Erin Babin. To learn more about them or to work with them, check out their coach profiles below.