How to train with Strava segments

How do you know if you are improving as a runner?

When I was growing up, the best way to do this was to get a fancy running watch, like a Timex Indiglo (I had two!) with a lap feature, and use it to track your time running laps around the block in your neighborhood. Of course, after your run, you had to write down your lap times in a notebook or type them into a spreadsheet if you wanted to be able to compare your performance over time!

Timex IndigloNowadays, we have a huge variety of running apps we can use on our smart phones, as well as some sophisticated pieces of hardware we can wear on our wrists. But believe it or not, many of these do not have a simple “lap” feature.

Enter “Strava Segments”.

If you’re not already a Strava user, I suggest you download the free app and log in with your Facebook account, if you have one. Then check out the segments feature. This handy tool makes tracking your performance over time a piece of cake, without having to use a lap feature of any kind. Once a segment is created, you can literally “set it and forget it!” This is because every time you happen to run the same segment, the app will track you speed, pace, etc. without you having to do anything. Then, you can review your performance over time.

Here’s an example of a segment I have run a few times at the North Jupiter Flatwoods Natural Area and how the app displays my performance. You can also change the view to show how your results compare to other men and women who have run the same route. And watch out, you may just be crowned “King of the Mountain” if you get the course record on that particular segment!

Strava Segment 1Strava Segments 2

And creating a new segment couldn’t be simpler.

Here’s how it works. Simply go for a run in one of your favorite locations and track it using the app. Then, log in to strava.com on a computer and click on the activity (from Training/My Activities). Once you are viewing the activity, click on the small wrench icon on the left and select “Create Segment”. This will bring up a map of your activity. Once you do this the instructions on the page will tell you exactly what to do but here are some tips.

  1. Change to Satellite view and zoom in.
  2. Click on the green and red start and end points on the slider at the top, and you will be able to pinpoint exactly where you want your segment to start and end.
  3. Click next, and give your segment a name that makes sense not only to you, but to other Strava users who may also run along that same route. (Uncheck “make the segment private” box.)
  4. Click Create.

And that’s it! From this point on, every time you run over that segment during any of your runs while using the app, it will record your performance. Oh, and your past performances will show up too, as long as you recorded them with the app. And viewing your performance over a segment is really easy to do using the smartphone app too.

So give it a try..what do you have to lose, except maybe a course record if someone faster than you tries it too!

Keep running to the beat!

Jeanette

Measure Twice, Cut Once

These are words to live by, for sure! But do they apply to the world of digital publishing? I’d say yes!

Test Twice, Publish Once!

I’m so happy I was able to publish my first running workout album on all of the major music sites, and from all of the preliminary reports I’ve seen, it’s doing well out there in the market. If you haven’t tried it yet, you can purchase it on iTunes, stream it on Spotify, or download it for free from my website for a limited time.

But now that the album is done and “out there”, the more I listen to it, the more I want to tweak it, modify it…edit it. But what’s done is done! That’s why I’m taking even more time to “test twice” before I publish my next one. And I could use some help.

The Cadence Booster Core Program

I’m currently working on a 4-part workout series that’s designed to teach the fundamentals of running form and cadence. I’m calling it my “Cadence Booster Core Program” and I plan on releasing it in April (2018). As you can imagine, there are many components that go into creating something like this, not the least of which are the music tracks that guide the runner to stepping at the right cadence (steps per minute).

running in sand
Sometimes you have to drop your cadence while running on different types of terrain, like sand.

My original idea was to have three basic levels: Beginner (166–170 BPM), Intermediate (171–175 BPM), and Advanced (176–180 BPM). But as a result of testing, I’ve determined that I should create a fourth level. So now I’m adding a new level to my plan that will be called “Expert”. The music for the expert level will be in the 181–185 BPM range. This is because most expert runners run at this cadence during longer runs, and I want to ensure I am providing a level for anyone who wants to try the program.

You might be saying to yourself, “But why would an expert runner need a core training program?” and to that I’d say, “That’s a great question!”.

The reason is because a lot of runners I know have never received formal training. And what you’ll learn in my program are the fundamentals of good running form, and a lot about running cadence. And , running cadence is really important, and not a lot of people know about it! So the information that I’ll provide in my program could help just about anyone, no matter how expert!

Drop Your Cadence!

One more thing I should mention. Sometimes your cadence will drop, meaning, you won’t be able to take as many steps-per-minute as you normally would, if the terrain is particularly challenging. So if you’re running up a steep hill, over technical terrain, or on soft, sandy trails, your cadence might slow down a little and this is normal. But that’s another reason I am providing several different program levels. If you normally run at the Advanced level, you may want to use a track from the Intermediate level if you plan on running on a softer, technical trail.

A Little Testing Goes a Long Way

If you know what your typical running cadence is, post it in a comment. below If you don’t, just count your steps the next time you go out for a run for thirty seconds and double what you get.  Then let me know.

And if you’d be willing to test out some of the music files, you can download them here. You can follow along with the program development on Facebook by following @cadenceboostertraining and joining the community! I hope to see you around.

Keep running to the beat!

Jeanette

Race Report: DTR Full Moon Night Trail Run

I would be remiss if I didn’t write a race report following my first-ever Down to Run trail race! Last Saturday I “competed” (I use that term loosely) in this event, known as the Full Moon Night Trail Run. The whole experience was magical! As you can see from the photos, everyone wore a headlamp, as well as various other types of luminescent devices, and headed out from Kitching Creek, at Jonathan Dickinson State Park around 8 PM for two hours of soggy, wet madness!

DTR Full Moon Race Directors
Race Directors, Andre & Ludi Chaves

Our race directors, Andre and Ludi Chaves, were as gracious and supportive as ever, as was DTR co-founder Diego Mey. They all put on one heck of an event! Special thanks to all of the people who volunteered at the registration/packet pickup station, aid stations, as well as the photographers and medal hander-outers! And a special shout-out to Jenny Q for manning the microphone and welcoming in all of the finishers with charm and grace!

DTR-Full-Moon-JDSP-8809

One of the most memorable aspects of this race, in particular, was the amount of water runners had to traverse throughout the dark and somewhat treacherous terrain. This photo shows what a typical water crossing looked like, and I estimate that approximately 20-25% of the course had some kind of deep water over it, which made it difficult to keep your footing and maintain a quick running pace. Somehow the winners managed to do it, however, as they crossed the finish line with miles averaging in the 8-min pace! Unbelievable!

DTR-Full-Moon-JDSP-8985
Me, two miles in, after only having to make a few water crossings…there would be many more to come before my two hours of running were over!

All in all it was a terrific experience. I can now say I have an official DTR trail race under my belt and I didn’t twist an ankle or break a leg in the process! I came in under my goal time of two hours and couldn’t be happier!

DTR-Full-Moon-JDSP-7223
Crossing the finish line in under two hours!

IMG_9943

How to Remove Sand Spurs Easily: My Experiment

Today I ran at Jonathan Dickinson State Park and decided to try a little experiment as I knew the sand spurs would be epic on the Dunes of Hell. I took commercial grade paper towels and attached them to my laces and most of the spurs stuck to them. Then I removed the paper towels and hence, most of the Spurs, and removed the rest with a micro fiber cloth. Then I removed the spurs from the cloth with my teeth. Yes, I said “my teeth”. This may sound gross but it works! Voila-no spurs anywhere!


Th cloth, one minute after the video was taken:


Hope these tips work for you!

Race Report: Riverbend 50K Ultra

First and foremost, yes, I met all three of my goals yesterday, at my first 50K ultra race! I finished, which was a feat in and of itself; I did it in less than 8 hours (I believe my official time is somewhere around 7 hours and 15 minutes), and not only did I sprint in for the last few hundred yards, I WAS able to walk around for several hours following the race. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Race Report

Now for the official race report!

I arrived at the park around 6:30 for a 7 AM start. It was still dark when I got there and I spent the first 15-20 minutes getting prepared-applying bug spray, organizing my food, water, water bottles, extra shoes, socks, etc. I then spent the next ten minutes carrying everything to the pavilion so I could ensure my aid station transition times were as short as possible (Thanks, Malika, for that suggestion!). Continue reading “Race Report: Riverbend 50K Ultra”

3 Things That Will Make You Faster, Stronger, and Injury-Free

Form Factor

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot about running cadence and how it can help you become a faster runner. But running faster, without paying attention to form, can lead to some serious issues. So here are three things to keep in mind while you up-your-cadence.

Hip Hip Hooray

You may be asking yourself, “What is hip drive, and why should I care?“. Hip drive is an important component of running power. If you start to move your feet faster by taking shorter steps without driving much from the hip when your back foot leaves the ground, then your performance will suffer. So, the next time you go out for a run, focus on your hips and ensure you are pushing off the ground behind you with each and every step.

If you haven’t focused on this before you may not be able to sustain it for a long period of time which is OK. Just start paying attention to it periodically throughout your runs, so you can improve your hip drive over time. And don’t forget to stretch in between your runs. This will help as well.

Lean On Me

What else about your running form might start to break down when you increase your cadence? Well, do you tend to run in an upright position, or do you lean forward? You may know that leaning forward slightly while running is advisable, so if you don’t lean at all, here is something to think about. The lean comes from the ankles, not the waist, so don’t simply start bending over while you are running! That would be worse!

Try This!

Think about it this way: As you run, imagine there is a rope connected to your head and imagine that it’s being pulled by a helicopter that is flying up high in front of you. Imagine the rope is being pulled continuously by this helicopter…pulling you forward causing a slight lean in the ankles.

One More, for Good Measure

Arm swing. This is an easy one. Simply put, the arms reciprocate the legs, and a sluggish arm swing can lead to a slower running cadence. If you start increasing your cadence but don’t focus on increasing your arm swing, the two forces may work against each other. So make sure you’re swinging your arms as quickly as you’d like to be moving your legs. You’ll be amazed at how much this one little thing can help your overall speed!

Be sure to keep your shoulders down and relaxed while you swing your arms. And keep them somewhat low and back, so that your hands almost brush the sides of your body as they swing. They should be close to a 90-degree angle, not bent sharply upward with your fists pointing to the sky.

Jeanette & Rue
Who is who? I’m the one in the vest, and the other is my running buddy, Rue. Photo, courtesy of Jen Quellhorst.

So we’ve talked about three components of proper running form you should be thinking about the next time you run: hip drive, forward lean, and arm swing.

Cadence Booster

Don’t forget, you can request to test my new program as I work out some final kinks! Just click here, submit your request, and I’ll send you instructions and all of the audio files you need to start working on improving your cadence.

Keep running to the beat!