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How to Pick Running Shoes

by Jasper Blake

Shoe selection used to be easy. Back inthe early days when the running shoe market was born there were only a few players on the field and their line up of products was simple and limited. Today however, choosing a running shoe is far more complicated. There are literally dozens of companies occupying the market and each of them makes dozens of different products.

Sometimes too much choice can be paralyzing. To help you navigate the running shoe landscape here are four critical shoe elements you should consider when making a purchase.

 

1- Foot Type

Most companies build their shoes for specific foot types. Although there is a considerable range within the population, a person’s arch can generally fall into one of three categories, flat, neutral and high. Basically this measure refers to the nature of a person’s arch and how well formed it is. Shoes will often come with varying degrees of arch support. However, if you fall into one of the extremes you may need to seek the advice of a foot specialist for alternative solutions.

The other factor often considered is the width of the foot. Some people have narrow feet and others have wider feet. Some companies make varying shoe widths to accommodate this. Some people prefer different shoe brands all together based on how wide their shoes are made. One brand of shoe may not have the range you need. Thankfully there is no shortage of brands and inevitably one will suit your needs.

 

2- Running Gait

Foot type and running gait are often intimately connected. Running gait simply refers to how a person actually moves and lands when running. The simplest analysis usually involves observing what happens to the person’s foot, ankle, hips and upper body upon landing. Some people have a tendency to collapse inward especially at the foot and ankle upon landing. Shoe companies will often have a shoe within their line up that acts to support this collapse through a more stable medial portion and/or higher arch support. Likewise, they will usually have a shoe in the line up that is neutral for the person who has limited or no inward collapse.

 

3- Heel to Toe Offset

Heel to toe offset simply refers to the difference in height from the heel of the shoe to the toe of the shoe. Shoes that are considered “barefoot” or “minimalist” will often have zero difference in height from heel to toe. Conversely, more traditional running shoes will have 12-14mm of difference between heel and toe.

Although heel to toe offset is not new to shoes themselves, advertising and promoting shoes in this way certainly is. Several shoe companies even include this number in the promotional material or on the shoe itself.

Heel to toe offset might be one of the single most important factors when considering a shoe. If you have been running in a shoe with a 14mm offset and suddenly start running in a shoe with a 0mm or 2mm or even a 4mm offset it will stress your body differently. Lower heel to toe offsets will stretch the Achilles tendon and calf muscles to a greater extent. If your body is not ready for this it can cause injury. If you want to progress to a barefoot or minimalist running shoe I highly recommend that you work your way there gradually.

 

4- Terrain

The fourth and final factor you will need to consider when choosing a shoe is the terrain you will be running on. This is perhaps the easiest of the four. Most companies make both road and trail versions in their line up. The most forward thinking companies usually line up the foot type, running gait and heel to toe offset factors into both a trail and road version of the same shoe. This makes it easy to select a trail shoe with all the key elements you need personally built into essentially the same shoe as your road version.

 

The brands that align themselves more deeply with trail running often take the terrain factor a few steps further integrating some great technology into a shoe that helps you maximize performance off road. Some examples of this technology include the following

  1. Impact plates made of carbon fiber or harder plastic that help protect the foot when landing on rocky terrain
  2. Vents at the bottom of the shoe that allow water to drain out should you be running in wetter environments
  3. Light cabling instead of laces to avoid waterlogged laces and to maintain the integrity of the snug fit if the shoe becomes wet
  4. Tread patterns that allow for more significant gripping when off road
  5. Lighter weight or water repellent materials that do not become water logged and heavy when wet.

 

Running shoe technology has come a long way since its’ birth. Too much choice can be daunting but if you stick to these four aspects you should come out with the right one for you.

 


The Transition

The Transition

 

The transition is often considered the fourth event of a triathlon.  The transition refers to the time spent between swimming and biking (T1) and between biking and running (T2). Quite simply it is when you have to “transition” from one sport to the next.

 

Transitions are usually timed and will show up on the final results sheet so it’s important to practice them and get as good as you can in order to have extra bragging rights!

 

Having a great transition can set the tone for the event you are transitioning to and can improve your overall time.  Here are some tips on how to nail your transition.

 

Know the flow

It’s incredibly important to know how the transition “flows”. Part of your warm up should include a walk through the transition area so you have a mental picture of where you are supposed to go.

 

During your walk through, start as if you were exiting the swim and follow the path you will have to take during the race. Walk into transition and practice finding your bike. Spotting your bike among the masses can be challenging but if you have walked the path a few times before you will nail it.  Counting bike racks or using other identification markers like a sponsors banner near your bike can really help.

 

The next step is to pretend you are exiting with your bike.  Again, follow the exact path you will have to take and note where the mount line is (the line where you are safely and legally allowed to get on your bike).

 

Next, you will need to walk as if you are coming back in from the bike.  Notice where the dismount line is (the line where you are required to be off your bike or you will face a penalty and possible disqualification). Walk back into transition and back to where you will have to rack your bike. The second transition can be tougher to negotiate because your bike is not there as a strong visible marker. Picking some identification markers will really help you during the second transition. The last step in your walk through is to follow the path you will have to take in order to exit the run.

 

Visualize

There are a few key things you will have to do during a transition and visualizing them can help train your brain so they become automatic. After you have done a walk through take some time to visualize not only the flow of transition but also what you will need to do.

 

Key Aspects of Transition 1 (T1) (Swim to Bike)

Exit the water

  1. Take off your wetsuit (take the top half down while you are running to your bike)
  2. Remove your cap and goggles
  3. Take the bottom half of your wetstuit off at your bike rack
  4. Put your helmet and glasses on on (**MUST BE DONE BEFORE YOU TOUCH YOUR BIKE)
  5. Put your shoes on (if you are not comfortable leaving your shoes attached to your bike)
  6. Put your number belt on (if it’s not already on)
  7. Take your bike off the rack and walk or run with it out of transition
  8. Mount your bike after the mount line

 

Key Aspects of Transition 2 (T2) (Bike to Run)

  1. Dismount your bike before the mount line
  2. Walk or run with your bike to your transition rack (**DO NOT REMOVE YOUR HELMET UNTIL YOUR BIKE IS RACKED!)
  3. Rack your bike
  4. Remove your helmet
  5. Remove your bike shoes (unless you left them on your bike)
  6. Put on your running shoes
  7. Put on your running hat or visor (if you are a hat or visor wearing type)
  8. Walk or run out of transition

 

Skills you should practice

Taking your helmet on and off is simple enough when you are not under pressure but this can be a problematic part of your first transition. When you add in the fact that you may be dealing with cold hands that don’t work properly it can be down right frustrating. You can practice taking your helmet on and off at home while watching TV if you really want to nerd out! The more you do it, the more your hands will automatically go to the right place when it counts.

 

Taking your wetsuit off can be practiced whenever you finish an open water swim. Practicing this skill is not as easily done at home while watching TV so make a habit of getting out of your suit in a hurry after your open water swim practices.

 

Putting your running shoes on during the second transition is an important skill to practice. Elastic laces or toggles with your laces will really improve your second transition time. Fiddling with normal laces and trying to tie them up is simply unnecessary, there are numerous products available specifically to help you get into your running shoes without having to tie them up.

 

Other Considerations

Every race will have different transition rules.  Most races allow you to have all of your gear at your bike rack and you can create your own small space to manage it. Many of the larger races like Ironman and 70.3 events have a bag system that requires all of your gear to be in a bag that you collect and manage in a change tent. Some races will supply a bin that you must keep all of your gear in that is then placed at your transition rack.

 

Tricks used by speedy transition masters

  1. Keep your sunglasses on your bike- you don’t need to put your sunglasses on in transition. Keeping one arm of your eyewear under the Velcro part of the arm pads on your time trial bars allows you to get up to speed on your bike before removing them and putting them on.
  2. Wearing a race belt under your wetsuit is a great way to avoid having to put one on in transition. The less you have to do in transition the better **NOTE** some races do NOT allow you to do this so make sure you know the rules.
  3. If you are tying your shoes up in transition then you are missing out on one of the easies ways to make your transition faster. Invest in some elastic laces or some toggles for your normal laces. There is no need to be tying up shoes in transition
  4. Putting your helmet and/or glasses on while you are taking off the bottom half of your wetsuit is a great way to save some time. Again this type of multitasking requires some practice.
  5. Cut the legs on your wetsuit a bit shorter so it’s easier to get off (DO NOT CUT BEYOND THE TAPE SEEMS)- We highly recommend you do this in the presence of someone with experience so you don’t ruin a perfectly good suit!
  6. Another great way to save time in transition is to practice leaving your shoes on your bike. This is a huge time saver because not only do you avoid having to stop in transition to put on bike shoes but you also avoid running, often on pavement, in a slick carbon or plastic sole. This strategy also allows you to be moving forward while you are putting your shoes on.
  7. Always be moving forward- any time you are not moving forward you are losing time. Think of things you can do that will allow you to keep moving forward. For example, when exiting onto the run you can be running while putting on visor, your number belt and sunglasses. You don’t need to do these things while you are standing still.

 

Keep it simple!

Despite all of the information in this article, the transition is actually very simple.  The phrase “simple is better” certainly applies to a transition. The less you have to do, the faster you will be and the less likely you are to forget something. It’s amazing sometimes to see the amount of gear that people have at their transition. From swim to bike all you should really have to do is take your wetsuit off and put your helmet on (once you have mastered the art of keeping your shoes on the bike). From bike to run all you should have to do is rack your bike, take your helmet off and put your running shoes one (possibly a hat or visor as well)

 

Practice makes perfect

At least one of your weekly workouts should include transitions.  It is often more realistic to practice bike to run transitions simply because of the wetness factor but you should also practice the swim to bike particularly if it involves taking a wetsuit off.

 


Lentil Licious

From Jasper Blake

Ingredients:

  • Can of Annies Organic Lentils
  • Large onion
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Saute a large onion with a table spoon of coconut oil; salt and pepper
  2. Rinse lentils and add them to pan
  3. Let warm and enjoy; serves 2


Rebar Salad

From Jasper Blake

Salad Ingredients:

  • Dark leefy greens
  • Shredded beats
  • Pea shoots
  • Shredded carrots
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Goat Fetta
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Garbonzo beans

Basil Vinagerrete dressing Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45g) fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. For the Salad: Wash the raw ingredients and then combine them in a bowl
  2. For the Dressing: Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor and blend. Slowly add olive oil in a thin stream until thick. Season to taste and refrigerate up to 3 days. 
  3.  Serves 4


Simple Salmon

From Jasper Blake

Ingredients:

  • Salmon fillet
  • Lemon
  • Season salt
  • Tinfoil

Directions

  1. Wrap a filet in tinfoil with a couple slices of lemon and some season salt
  2. Cook on the BBQ on medium heat for 20 minutes
  3. Check inside wrap occasionally to make sure juices have not dried up
  4. Fish is ready when strips flake away with gentle nudge by fork
  5. Serve with basmati rice or quinoa


Jasper’s Top Five Tips for Ironman Canada

Ironman Canada is one of the longest running Ironman events on the planet. For many Canadians it is the big race of the season. It typically takes place at the end of August making it a perfect climax to a Canadian summer of racing. For many athletes this is the race they are peaking for.

 

We asked Ironman Champion Jasper Blake to share five tips on how to make Ironman Canada your best race of the season.

 

1- Don’t Changejasper the champ

The biggest mistake I see people making when they get close to an Ironman is the sudden urge to make significant changes to their plan. It is normal to get anxious and have small panic attacks leading up to the race but it is a mistake to suddenly think you need to change your whole game plan. It’s hard not to be influenced by others- race week everyone is walking around, talking about what they are going to do pace wise or nutritionally and it’s hard to not get sucked into different ideas. The biggest advice I can offer is to stick to your game plan. If you have practiced something in training and it has worked then stick to your plan. The time to make big changes is not race week.

 

2- Break the bike course up mentally

Ironman can always seem daunting- it is a long way and a long day- so break it up into manageable pieces. Ironman Canada is a great course to break up especially on the bike. The first leg involves a fast ride down to Osoyoos. Once you are there you are already a third of the way through the bike portion. The next piece is the climb up Richters pass and the rollers, which can be a welcome break after 60km of flat time trialing. The next piece is the out and back which can discourage people because you literally head straight back to where you came from but remember, 180km is 180km- it’s just a piece of that. The next piece is the climb up Yellow Lake- again a nice break from the flat time trial efforts. And finally you get to descend down into Penticton- 20km downhill, which is a great way to finish off the bike.

 

3- Pace yourself up Richters Pass

Richters pass is the first significant climb at Ironman Canada. It comes about 60km into the race and is often the place where people make the biggest tactical error. At 60km everyone feels good and many people go way too hard up Richters. If you overextend yourself on Richters it will haunt you going up Yellow Lake. The people who are smart on Richters are always doing the passing up Yellow Lake.

 

4- Run one mile at a time

A marathon after all that biking is not the best way to think about the run. Instead, think of it as one mile repeats. The aid stations are typically one mile apart so make it your goal to simply run from aid station to aid station. The brain prefers small chunks- everyone can run a mile so run a mile at a time.

 

5- Think Ahead

When the run starts getting tough (which it does for everyone), remember that you are not alone. Everyone is basically experiencing the same thing you are- the steps can be downright painful. A good mental trick is to simply think ahead to the end. The last mile in Penticton is along Lakeshore drive where there are literally thousands of people screaming and cheering. It will be the best mile of your life! So if you find yourself at mile 14 and you are struggling- zip ahead in your mind and get excited about what’s coming at mile 25. Sometimes this little mental boost can get you through a tough spell.


Seven Simple Rules To Help You Eat Well- by Jasper Blake

1. Relationship

Our relationship with food is not just physical.  Food is so important we engage in eating it on a daily basis.  Yet we have gradually distanced ourselves from the important relationship we should have with food.  Hunting, growing, preparing and actually sitting down and eating food is largely a thing of the past.  Now we go to the grocery store, buy what we need, most of the time whatever is going to make life easier is the top choice, and we rarely ever sit down for long, social meals.  We’ve lost the connection with food to the point that most children probably don’t understand that a piece of meat actually comes from a living, breathing animal.  Its not wonder fast food has become so prevalent.  Fast means we don’t really have to connect with what we are eating, we can simply order it and shovel it into our mouths.  As such we are rarely aware of what is actually going into our bodies.  Not so long ago everything we ate was made from scratch and prepared in house.  We had a much healthier relationship with food back then.  Cooking can be a source of great joy if you engage in it.  Following a recipe and preparing food for another person is a great way to reconnect with what you are eating and appreciate what is going into your mouth.

 2. Know your good foods and bad foods

Everyone is different and our relationship with certain types of food is also different.  What’s good for one person may not always be good for another person.  Food allergy testing has become quite common over the last decade as a way to identify foods that may not be suitable for your body.  Food allergies do not always result in massive anaphylactic responses like someone’s reaction to a bee sting or peanuts.  Some food allergies lie quietly beneath the surface and affect us in subtle be significant ways.  Ineffective digestion, low energy, moodiness and agitation are a few examples of how mild food allergens can affect us.  Identifying and removing foods that you are mildly affected by can dramatically improve your overall state of well-being.  Just ask anyone who has a gluten intolerance!

3. Avoid refined sugars

Refined sugars are everywhere; in fact it’s hard to avoid them these days.  They are found in most snack foods, most fast foods, most foods that are highly preserved, bread products and most drinks including the energy drinks we consume en masse during training and racing.  Refined sugars wreak havoc with your body chemistry especially if you consume great quantities in times of inactivity.  Avoiding refined sugars can dramatically improve your well-being.

4. Good fat vs. Bad fat

The discussion around fat has been had over and over again yet we still don’t seem to get it.  We still load our foods with copious amounts of unhealthy fats.  This is largely because fat in general make foods taste better.  Restaurant foods are often loaded with fat.  Fat holds flavor and fat is very satiating. 

To make it easy, there are a few types of fat that are essential to avoid.  Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and shortening are all harmful types of fat.  It will come as no surprise that most good fats can be found in real food sources like avocado, olives and of course fish.  Consuming enough good fat is as important as not consuming the bad fat.  Essential fatty acids are critical for the immune system, cardiovascular system and nervous system.

5. Read food labels

One of the most important things you can do nutritionally is to become more aware of the foods you are putting into your mouth.  Reading food labels is a big step in the right direction.  If you do not read food labels regularly you will be amazed at how much “stuff” goes into most processed foods.  Reading labels will broaden your knowledge of what is in your food and at least give you the choice of whether or not to eat it. 

6. Simple is always better

If there are ingredients on a food label that you don’t understand or cannot pronounce chances are it’s some type of preservative or filler.  Cookies, crackers, cereal, anything in boxes usually contains vast amounts of these ingredients.  Fillers are rarely if ever good.  They are usually things like bad fat, refined sugars and preservatives all designed to heighten flavor or make the food last longer than it’s supposed to.

7. “Unprocess”

Generally speaking the more processed a food becomes the less nutritional value it contains.  Take for example an apple.  An apple in its purest form is just that, an apple, hopefully vine ripe so it has had a chance to absorb all the nutrients it requires from the ground.  But when we process an apple down to apple sauce we lose part of the whole- often fiber is lost and sugar is added to enhance flagor and preserve the apple.  Go one step further and apple juice has lost all but the watery flavor part of the apple save for some vitamins.  Take it a step further still and something with apple flavoring has lost everything that resembles an apple except the flavor, this includes all the nutritional value of the apple.  A good rule of thumb is to eat foods that have one ingredient.  For example, the ingredients of an apple are apple. Stick to foods that exist in their entirety


2011 PRO TEAM

Based on the unprecedented success of the 2010 7SYSTEMS team, the entire team is returning to compete again in 2011.  As well, there are three new additions to the team that are remarkable individuals committed to DOING MORE and doing it better.

NEW 2011 TEAM MEMBERS

Plus Paula Findlay: Paula Findlay is young triathlete with an impressive list of accomplishments. This year alone she has won three World championship series races consecutively, one each in Sydney, Kitzbuhel and Madrid and took a third at the Mooloolaba World Cup.  Read more about Paula.

Annamay Pierse: Annamay is a member of Canada’s national swim team and the current world record holder for the women’s 200m breaststroke.  Annamay was a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team in Beijing and is currently preparing for London in 2012.

Max Plaxton: Perhaps one of  Canada’s top male mountain biker and is a London 2012 hopeful.  Max is a professional mountain biker, five-time National Champion and two-time World Champion in the relay event. He currently is one of four team members in USA factory team Specialized/Sho-air which is a professional cross-country mountain bike team.  This year he has won the Canadian National Championships and is the US Pro Cross-Country Tour overall champion with 3 wins. Read his full profile.

Reid Coolsaet: He’s been running cross-country ever since the sixth grade and hasn’t missed a single season.
Reid is a 7-time 5000m Canadian Champion and also credits the 10 000m,  marathon and cross-country running titles to his name.  He has participated at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, 4 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and 2 World Track & Field Championships.   Coolsaet just ran 2:11:23, the fastest time ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil, at the 2010 Scotiabank Toronto Marathon. This time is 6 seconds faster than the Canadian Olympic marathon standard.

RETURNING ATHLETES FROM 2010

Jasper Blake www.jasper.is: Professional Triathlete, Ironman Champion

Mike Neill www.mikeneill.com: Professional Triathlete, Owner/Head coach Human Powered Racing

Simon Whitfield www.simonwhitfield.com: Multiple Olympic Medalist Triathlete

Adam Van Koueverden www.vankayak.com: Multiple Olympic Medalist, World Champion Kayaker

Lauren Groves-Campbell Lauren Groves blogspot: 2008 Beijing Olympian Triathlete

Adam Campbell Adam Campbell Blogspot: Top Canadian Runner

Ray Zahab www.rayzahab.com: Ultra distance running legend

Malcolm Howard http://malcolmhoward.ca/: World champion, Olympic Champion Rower

Kyle Jones www.kylejones.ca: Canadian Short Course Triathlon Team

Erinne Willock Profile for Erinne Willock: Professional Road Cyclist, 2008 Beijing Olympian

Megan Brown Profile of Megan Brown: Top Canadian Runner

7SYSTEMS works with individuals not only as company ambassadors but as athletes who are committed to using the product and sharing the benefits with others. Last year there were hundreds of applicants and the team was picked on the basis of podium finishes, amazing athletic feats and strength of character.


A change can be as good as a rest- by Jasper Blake

When considering training for any sport there is truth in the idea that a change can be as good as a rest. 

There is no question that changing your environment periodically is good for your mental state, which inevitably translates into more productive training.  Many people will migrate south for the odd week to soak up some sun and train in a different environment.  But what if you cannot spare the $1-$2k it’s going to cost for such an adventure? 

There is a simple solution.  Making a few small changes to your regular routine throughout the week can be as good as going on a camp or taking a rest.

Here are SEVEN simple ways you can spice up your winter training months.

1) Changing Pools

If you live in a larger city with more than one pool or aquatic center, try swimming at a different location once per week.  The pool may be the same size but the simple change in stimulus can be good for your motivation.  Light conditions, smells, temperature of the water, even the subtle difference in paint color on the bottom of the pool can be enough to freshen things up.

2) Change bikes

Winter training doesn’t always have to be on a computrainer or winterized bike.  Mountain biking is possible in many areas especially in the absence of snow.  But even with snow it’s possible to ride a fat tired mountain bike if you run tubeless tires with very low tire pressure.  The sound the tires make on hard packed snow is enough to jazz you up significantly

 3) Cross Train

The winter months are a perfect time to cross train.  Yes even in a sport like triathlon it is possible to cross train.  Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, even downhill skiing can benefit your fitness. 

 4) Try night activities

Winter days are short which can either be a source of doom and gloom or something you embrace.  Many winter sports areas provide lit venues for activities when it’s dark.  After a couple of hours on cross-country skis in the dark, hot chocolate tastes very good.

 5) Change Running Routes

Contrary to popular belief you don’t always have to run the same routes.  One of my favorite workouts during winter months is doing an urban adventure run.  I try and run on streets I have never been on.  The city you live in can be as new and exciting as the trails you run on in the summer.  You would be surprised how many new streets and subdivisions you can discover on a long run.

 6) Training Groups

You don’t always have to do bike trainer workouts in your garage by yourself.  Chances are there are dozens of other individuals in your area who are sitting in their garage at the same time by themselves.  Group trainer sessions can be a great way to get people together for an hour of good work.  Time flies when you are hammering it out with other people.

 7) Get in the weight room
A block of training in the weight room during the winter can be a good thing for many athletes.  Although it’s not for everyone, some basic strength and stability work often proves to be highly beneficial.  The weight room itself is often as new to endurance athletes as the type of training done in a weight room.  New incoming stimuli force us to be more alert and more engaged.  This often means we will get more out of the experience.


Top 7 Marathon Tips- by Jasper Blake

1- Warm up

Warming up for any event is crucial but not all warm ups are created equally.  It’s important to have several different warm strategies in place.  There are numerous factors that affect what type of warm up to do.  For example warming up for an endurance event when it’s incredibly hot requires some tempering.  There is no sense spending an hour depleting your body of water and electrolytes before the race even starts.  You still need to get your muscles and heart ready to do work but you need to factor in the cost.  For marathons a similar problem occurs.  How much time can you really spend warming up when the race itself is going to take 2.5-6+ hours depending on who you are.  Typically the shorter the race the more warm up is required and conversely the longer the race the less warm up is required.  This is in part due to the pace you are going to go (shorter is much faster) and in part due to the actual energy loss you can afford to give up.  For marathons you shouldn’t need more than about ten minutes of light jogging and some strides to really get warmed up.  Of course if you are an elite runner and aiming for a time in the low two hour mark you will likely need to get your lactic buffers fired up but if you are in the 4 hour plus crowd the first few miles will do just fine.

2- What to wear

Obviously weather is a huge component of longer races.  You cannot get away with something that is too hot or two cold when you have 3+ hours ahead of you.  It’s important to know what the conditions will be like and dress appropriately.  As a general rule you are likely to feel warmer when you are racing than when you are training probably in part due to the intensity.  Probably the number one rule when considering longer events is to make sure that you are comfortable above all else.  Wear what you feel good wearing and that includes your footwear.  Never make drastic changes on race day unless you have tried them in training and know you will be comfortable. 

3- Blisters and Chaffing

It’s rare that we ever run a marathon in training when preparing for a marathon.  It’s important to know that chaffing and blisters can happen when the length of time increases.  You may not experience either of these things in training simply because you may not have run for that long before.  It’s better to prepare for these two things and avoid them all together. 

Blisters are obviously most common on the feet.  There are several strategies that can help you avoid blisters.  Double layer socks are a great idea.  A company called “wright sock” make very lightweight, thin socks that are perfect in any shoe.  The basic idea is that the layers of sock rub against each other opposed to your skin rubbing against the sock.  There are several great products out there in cream or powder form that can also help stave off blisters that are easily massaged into the feet or put into the shoes.  

Chaffing is a different story.  Chaffing can happen in some of the most unexpected places and it’s a good idea to prepare accordingly.  Some common places for chaffing are inner thighs, underarms and nipples.  Combine the constant rub of clothing or skin on skin mixed with a bit of moisture and salt and it can be a painful experience.  Chaffing can be avoided with the right clothing and of course some anti-friction cream.  I’ve even seen people put band-aids on their nipples, which is as effective as it is interesting.

4- Pacing

Pacing is probably the most important aspect in a marathon.  You must have a plan when it comes to pacing or chances are that you will go out too fast.  The longer the event the less chance you have to do anything different than you have been doing in training.  By the time the marathon rolls around you should be well versed in your pace and should stick too it.  There is a tendency in races to feel very good particularly in the beginning and this can lead people out of their appropriate pace very quickly.  Inevitably it will come back to haunt you in the later stages if you go too far beyond your capacity.  At larger marathons it’s common to have “pace bunnies”, people who are designated to hit a certain pace so you can run and pace off of them.  Regardless, most races are usually marked in miles or kilometers and all you need is a stopwatch to figure it out.  Stay on pace and you have a greater chance of reaching your goals.

5- Mental Resiliance

One of the best mental strategies you can have for a marathon is to break it into pieces.  The thought of 26 miles or 42km can be daunting.  However most people are comfortable with one mile.  So instead of running 26 miles run one mile, then another, then another and so on.  It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the course.  Often a route seems longer when we first do it but as you do it more and more it gets smaller in your head.  The brain likes familiarity and if the route has been studied it’s easier for the brain to manage.

6- Nutrition and Hydration

The longer the event the more important nutrition becomes.  Anything up to an hour and nutrition is almost a mute point.  The body typically has enough glycogen stores to last 60-90 minutes but beyond that it needs a steady stream of carbohydrate to keep going.  Anyone who has bonked knows what it feels like to have depleted glycogen stores.  It doesn’t matter how fit you are, if you run out of glycogen it will seriously affect your day.  It’s important to have a plan that you have tried in practice.  It’s also important to know what they have on the course and know that you can handle consuming what they provide.  Typically aid stations are every 1-3 miles so it’s also valuable to know the timeframe with which you will have access to nutrition.  If you are on the slower side it might be a good idea to bring your own.  The best strategy is to take little amounts frequently so as never to dump too much sugar into your gut at once.  As intensity goes your ability to absorb calories decreases and vice versa.

Hydration is a major factor in longer events.  Water loss happens from the blood stream, which makes the blood thicker and harder for your heart to move.  This causes an increase in your effort level.  Water loss also decreases ones ability to cool down.  We sweat so that our body can regulate its core temperature.  Sweat on the skin has a cooling effect.  If we lose too much water we decrease our bodies ability to cool down which increases core body temperature and increases perceived effort.  Hydrating during long events needs to happen at regular intervals.  Like caloric intake, we can only absorb so much water at one time.  Dumping too much fluid into the gut at once is a recipe for disaster.  Sodium loss and intake also becomes an important factor when we consider hydration.  Most sports drinks have sodium for a reason.  Sweat contains salt and the more we lose the harder it is for us to move water from the gut to the blood stream.  Bloating is one of the major side effects of sodium depletion.  When the blood is low in sodium the osmotic gradient required to move fluid across membranes no longer exists and water sits in the gut.  You can have great quantities of fluid in your gut but if it’s not in your blood stream you can still be severely dehydrated.

7- Recovery

The marathon is probably one of the hardest events to fully recover from.  It’s easy to ride your bike or swim for several hours but the repeated pounding that happens when we run really takes a toll on the body.  There is a reason why people rarely actually run a marathon in training prior to the actual event, it just takes too long to recover from.  Studies have shown that even 3-4 weeks post marathon there can be micro-tears in the muscle indicating that they are still not recovered. 

There are several strategies you can use to recover quicker from a marathon. 

  • Stick to low or no impact sports for at least two weeks
  • Limit the time on your feet to walking for a couple of weeks
  • If you must run try water running- a low impact alternative
  • Focus on great nutrition and lean protein to help muscles rebuild
  • Contrast as in hot/cold treatment work wonders
  • Massage or any physical contact that promotes blood flow to muscle groups is a very good idea
  • Replace sodium and fluid that has been lost
  • Sleep- nothing is as restorative as sleep


Customized Nutrition

Endurance sports require extreme attention to detail. Equipment, training, recovery and nutrition are all areas that demand constant fine-tuning. As endurance athletes competing in biking, running, triathlons, swimming, cross country skiing, paddling, rowing and adventure racing, the 7SYSTEMS team knows that proper nutrition is one of the keys in reaching your true athletic potential. Not only do you need the right vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants (or micro-nutrients), you also need the right carbohydrates, proteins, and fats (or macro-nutrients) as well as ensuring you are staying hydrated with the appropriate electrolyte load. As the general level of awareness of the role proper nutrition plays in sports performance has increased some companies have entered the market with innovative concepts. One of those innovative concepts is customizable nutrition.

Everyone is different. Endurance athletes have different bodies, different training programs and different race day needs. It makes sense that people will need different amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes in their nutrition product. Sure you can vary the number of gels you take, add water to your Gatorade and carry salt tablets with you, and with some trial and error figure out how to make that work. But you don’t need to do that anymore. We have found a product that does that for you – INFINIT Nutrition.

INFINIT helps you take care of your personal training and racing macro-nutrient and hydration needs in a way that no other product can. INFINIT allows you to adjust total calories, flavour, protein, electrolytes, caffeine and amino acid levels, and even fine tune the blend of three different carbohydrates to match your chosen sport, distance and personal needs. INFINIT puts you in the unique position of being able to fuel yourself with exactly what is right for you and choose a flavour that you will be able to consume. We have been really impressed with how easy their system is to use – visit their website, do an initial questionnaire that asks specific details about you and your needs or go straight to the formula section and adjust the amounts of each item. They even offer phone support to help you figure out your optimal formula. You can make different formulas for training and racing and can even save your formulas for easy access on subsequent visits or to adjust as required. What a great idea.

Forget figuring out how many gels, bars and salt tablets you need. You can get it all in one drink in a formula that meets your specific needs to help avoid any gastric distress, cramping or bonking that might occur from using a generic product. AND it is all liquid, so if formulated at the right concentration it will be emptied freely from the stomach and then readily absorbed into the small intestine. We like products that are backed by science, and this one is.

For more information, visit http://www.infinitnutrition.ca/


2010 PRO TEAM

7SYSTEMS, the endurance sport supplement chosen by Olympians and recreational athletes all over Canada, has named ten athletes to their 2010 PRO TEAM. The team was chosen from among Canada’s top athletes. With hundreds of applicants, the team was picked on the basis of podium finishes, amazing athletic feats and strength of character.

 READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE.

MORE ABOUT THE ATHLETES
 

  • Jasper Blake: Triathlon – Ironman™
  • Megan Brown: Running – Cross Country / Track and Field
  • Adam Campbell: Running – Marathon
  • Lauren Groves: Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Malcolm Howard: Rowing
  • Kyle Jones: Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Mike Neill: Triathlon – Ironman™
  • Adam Van Koeverden: Canoe / Kayak
  • Simon Whitfield: Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Erinne Willock: Cycling – Road
  • Ray Zahab: Running – Ultra marathons, expeditions
  •  

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    Jasper Blake- Ironman Champion

    jasper-on-bike

    “At the heart of it I believe the only way to get better is to train harder and smarter than everyone else and not get injured. To be honest, I usually stay clear of supplements but 7SYSTEMS has created a product that is worth using. Prior to Ironman Canada I incorporated 7SYSTEMS into my nutritional arsenal and it helped me get through one of the toughest training regimens of my career. 7SYSTEMS is a great product. It’s easy to use and takes the guess work out of my nutrition.”

    Jasper Blake, Winner, 2006 Ironman Canada

    www.jasperblake.com

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