REPOST: Choosing the right running gear

Running is a great activity for getting your body fit and healthy. However, it is essential to buy the right running gear before you even start a run training program. Here are the lists that you need to purchase so that you don’t feel uncomfortable when you’re out and about.

IT'S FUN TO RUN If dressed comfortably
IT’S FUN TO RUN If dressed comfortably | Image Source: thehindu.com

An earlier article in this series examined the question of ‘How to choose the right running shoes?’ One might think, with that question out of the way, there’s nothing which could possibly come between you and the road. Think again! Runners live in an age today where new-age, technical terms are thrown at them every time they stop to sip some water or wipe the sweat from their brow or re-tie their shoe laces. How does one make sense of all the mumbo-jumbo surrounding running accessories these days and how much of it is really needed for an enjoyable run? Read on to find out.

Running T-shirts and shorts:

While running bare-chested in hot and humid Chennai might sound appealing, the city’s conservative nature ensures that most runners wear a top layer even when the sun is beating down mercilessly on them. The debate in running circles, however, hasn’t been so much about whether to wear a T-shirt or not, but about the material of the garment.

Dri-Fit, ClimaCool, PlayDry etc are some baffling terms thrown around. Most of these are proprietary brand names devised by manufacturers for what is essentially a simple principle of physics called ‘Wicking’, also called ‘Capillary action’ observed first by Leondardo Da Vinci in the 15th century.

Wicking is the property of a fabric which allows for moisture (sweat) to be transferred from the skin to the fabric’s outer surface thus allowing for evaporation. The net result is that the athlete’s sweat is quickly and efficiently transferred to the outer surface of the garment from where it evaporates quickly thereby leaving the fabric dry. Wicking garments are usually made by blending polyester and cotton.

In the furnace-like conditions of our city, should one wear these special garments? Most definitely, if you’re looking to run for more than an hour or distances greater than 5K on a regular basis. Otherwise, be prepared for a soggy and smelly laundry session. With increasing demand and wider availability, this running apparel can be bought without causing a dent in your wallet.

Socks:

The single, biggest function of a good pair of running socks is to ensure that your feet stay blister-free after a long training season. Friction between the sole of your foot and your running shoe can result in painful blisters. If you sweat heavily in your feet and they turn moist on every run, be prepared for blisters since moisture increases friction.

Choose running socks with wicking properties to wick away the sweat. Running socks these days also have double layers of specialised fabric to reduce friction. Again, for the sauna that Chennai is the major part of the year, your socks can’t be too thick or they’ll get very uncomfortable, very soon. At the same time, you can’t wear those nylon socks you wore while in school and expect to run your 30-km run. So, choose well and invest in a few good pairs of specialist running socks. And don’t forget to wash your socks after every single run, however short or long.

Consider knee-length compression socks only if you have diagnosed blood-circulation problems of the nature of varicose veins. While many runners claim to recover faster and perform better while wearing these socks, the jury is still out on that claim and you may as well hold on to your hard-earned money for the moment.

Of course, needless to say, if you happen to be one of those gifted barefoot runners, please ignore this section of the article.

Other assorted accessories:

The smorgasbord of running gear these days also includes specialised anti-chafing solutions. Quietly ignore and make do with good old Vaseline. But please do ensure you use Vaseline liberally in all areas where repetitive skin to skin contact happens (inner thighs, arm-pits, nipples etc) or be prepared to encounter some bloody clothes and chafed skin.

A cap and sports sun-glasses are also highly recommended and a smart choice while running in the heat. Finally, about the accompanying music and related gadgets. While this is entirely a personal choice, in the interest of road safety and also of connecting with yourself and the environment around during your run, this writer would insist that you stay away from the ear-phones. Happy running!

For more discussion on marathon safety, follow this Steven Rindner Twitter account.

Advertisements

How blogging can work for your small business

Image Source: instantshift.com

The development of technology has changed the way we get information. It only takes a quick screen tap to know where the nearest gas station is, or what movies are showing, or where to buy that pair of shoes you’ve always wanted. Information is now accessible and convenient, thanks to smart phones, laptops, and the Internet.

Blogging has become one of the most common marketing strategies for businesses, as it provides a platform to post relevant content for current and potential clients. However, some small businesses are hesitant to embrace this technology because of reasons such as not knowing how to start from a technical standpoint, or the time and resources it needs might be overwhelming. What they should know is the litany of advantages a business blog can bring in to help them know their customers, build their credibility, and expand their business.

First, blogs are quick, easy and inexpensive to setup, especially with all the free blogging services out there which can be incorporated in an existing website. Blogs are also search engine-friendly and easy to access if clients and prospects need to search for information regarding your business. Posting news, tips and trends in the industry regularly will build trust and demonstrate your expertise, therefore increasing your authority and establishing you as an industry expert. This will shore up brand awareness and increase traffic to your blog, and subsequently, business.

Image Source: gizmag.com

Another advantage of creating a business blog is getting to know your audience. People can connect with you and other people through comments or posting your blog’s URL on their own blogs, creating interaction between communities and building relationships. Interactions will give you insight on what your customers want to improve about the product or service you provide.

Starting a business blog is not that difficult, even for the not-so-tech savvy. Blogging is now one of the competitive platforms of business promotion that, when done correctly, increases returns while curtailing spend.

Image Source: mssocial.net

Learn more about starting a business blog by subscribing to this Steven Rindner blog.

Plyometrics: Improve strength and speed without increasing mileage

Fortunately, running more miles is no longer the only way to get faster.

Image Source:
Image Source: holabirdssports.com

Busy runners who want to get the most out of their training time should consider incorporating plyometrics exercises into their training programs. Originally developed as a training method for Olympic athletes, plyometrics is designed to improve speed and power. Plyometrics training focuses on moving rapidly from a muscle extension (eccentric phase) to muscle contraction (concentric phase) in a process called the stretch-shortening cycle. In other words, plyometrics enables muscles to exert maximal force in a short period of time.

For runners, the benefits of performing plyometrics exercises are numerous. Studies have shown that plyometrics not only improves speed, explosive strength, agility, and endurance, it also boosts running economy, or how efficiently the body uses oxygen.

Image Source:
Image Source: sportsscience.co

The following are some examples of simple plyometrics exercises to do at home:

Single leg hops: Hop up and down on one leg, landing gently on the ball of the foot
Jump squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, lower hips into the squat position, then engage the core and jump up. Land gently on the balls of the feet and roll back onto the heels while returning to the squat position.
Box jumps: Stand in front of a plyo box or an aerobic bench with feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down slightly, enable the core, drive out the hips, and jump onto the box, using the arms for balance and added momentum. Jump backwards off the box to return to the original quarter-squat position.

Image Source:
Image Source: dangerouslyfit.com

Those new to plyometrics should begin with a twice-a-week program consisting of simple, low-intensity plyometrics exercises like the ones above. Runners should pay attention to proper form and take proper safety precautions when performing plyometrics. While plyometrics is not inherently dangerous, as with any exercise, there is always a risk of injury when routines are not done correctly. If in doubt, or for a more comprehensive plyometrics training plan, runners should seek the advice of a running coach or trainer.

Steven Rindner is a dedicated marathoner and a business and corporate development executive. Subscribe to this blog for more articles on improving running performance.

REPOST: Five tips for running in the winter

Don’t let the cold weather discourage you from running. Tom Craggs shares tips to keep your exercise routine up and running this winter. More details below:

Keep running and you’ll get warm, plus your house will feel much warmer when you get home than it did when you set off.
Keep running and you’ll get warm, plus your house will feel much warmer when you get home than it did when you set off. | Image Source: telegraph.co.uk

The winter is a vicious circle for runners. It is time of year when you lay down your crucial base training for those spring races, where you have time to build your strength and endurance, where you know you need to train hard to stave off the worst of the inevitable Christmas excesses – yet it is also the time of year where excuses not to train seem to present themselves every time your open your kit drawer.
Cold weather, icy roads, dark before you finish work – with a bit of planning and thought you can ensure you keep consistent and destroy the excuses.

1. Layer up. Layers are the way to go in winter. Several thin layers of running specific, wicking fabrics will allow you strip down as you warm up. Focus on high-viz clothes too to keep you safe and seen.

2. Warm up slowly. In cold weather it is going to take you longer to warm up properly. Capillaries stay constricted for longer and muscles feel more stiff, so you might find breathing more difficult in the first ten to 15 minutes of a session. Allow longer than you normally would for easy running and drills before you start to attack faster paces and intervals. You might even consider warming up indoors with some active stretching, drills or skipping.

3. Keep good company. The cold winter months will challenge your resolve – surround yourself with positive people and train with others where you can (clubs, Run England groups) and schedule in some parkrun and 10kms to keep you motivated and on track

4. Sessions to suit conditions. If it is freezing outside it’s unrealistic to expect your body, or mind for that matter, to hit short, hard interval work early in a session. Consider sessions that build intensity and speed as they progress. A progression run of 15 minutes easy, 15 minutes steady and 15 minutes at a level of controlled discomfort is recommended.

5. Wrap up quickly. Your immune system is low after hard interval sessions or long runs. Make sure you bring spare clothes with you to the gym, club or your own sessions, so you can quickly remove damp clothes immediately after your session and cool down in dry, warm garments. This will help to stop you picking up bugs and infections. Get indoors too for your post run stretching session.

Image Source: telegraph.co.uk

To know more about the benefits of running, follow this Steven Rindner Twitter account.

REPOST: 4 Smart Strategies To Build Your Business Brand

Spreading the word about a new business can be a difficult endeavor for most small business owners. This SmallBizTrends.com article highlights four tactics entrepreneurs can employ when competing against well-known and established brands.

Image Source: smallbiztrends.com
Image Source: smallbiztrends.com

One of the biggest challenges for small businesses and startups is getting the word out about their products and business to acquire new customers and build your business brand. Having a website is not going to magically generate sales.

Couple that with the fact that businesses online face even tougher challenges and significant disadvantages with the advent of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing and social media marketing. Competitors have established themselves and may have larger marketing budgets than your business does. Time and finances can get stretched beyond budgets very quickly trying to catch up.

So how does a new business compete?

There are a number of offline and online marketing strategies that can help boost your business brand and connect with potential customers. Here’s a closer look at four of my favorite tactics and a couple tips to maximize your efforts from them.

Trade Shows

So many businesses focus solely on digital marketing tactics. This is an error. Your business needs to diversify. Participating in a trade show of your targeted niche can give your business fresh prospect interest in what your business offers and accelerate the development of key relationships.

When exhibiting at a trade show, there are a couple key pieces to success. Having an eye-catching trade show booth to draw people in, high quality branded sales collateral to give to visitors to your booth, along with hosting a contest helps attract more people.

Video

Video is huge and can give your brand tremendous exposure. Gary Vaynerchuk of the famed WineLibraryTV created daily videos about wine for several years. Over the course of those years, Gary’s videos helped contribute to build his personal brand. They also helped his family’s business jump from a couple million a year in revenue to over $50 million a year.

Being able to create videos about your niche and your business as a way to connect with your prospective customer base is a powerful way to develop brand advocates as they become your “fans” while driving customers to your business.

Remarketing

Beyond basic pay-per-click advertising, one of the more underutilized marketing opportunities for many businesses is remarketing ads. Also known as ad retargeting, remarketing allows your business to show your ads after they’ve visited your website, to stay in the customer’s mind.

Remarketing is a powerful Internet marketing tactic because you are getting brand exposure and becoming more recognized by your target audience.

Engage In Q&A Sites

Beyond the standard social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, a rapidly growing channel to target are Q&A sites like Quora and even LinkedIn’s groups. Being able to participate on these sites gives exposure to your business because you’re giving value in responding to questions. Providing answers and referencing resources can establish you and your business as an expert in your niche. Added bonus – you can connect with the people who are asking the questions.

Businesses have a near infinite number of tactics and opportunities to drive traffic to their websites and build a consistent revenue stream. Once you’re done with the basics of SEO and paid advertising, focus your efforts on video, content development, relationship building via social media networks and exhibiting at trade shows. Define your goals and target the channels that will help your business reach those goals.

Think outside of the traditional marketing box to grow your business and build your brand.

Subscribe to this Steven Rindner blog to learn effective techniques in marketing and branding.

Steven Rindner’s GPS Fitness Watch Helps Him Manage His Runs

It seems that every year, technology yields new applications for improving fitness. After the iPhone came out, developers made available apps to help people improve and track their exercise patterns. More recently, avid runners started using GPS fitness watches to manage volume and intensity to improve their fitness and avoid getting injured. While a smartphone can perform the same functions, the fitness watch is much smaller and lightweight and is dedicated to your running. Steven Rindner, a dedicated marathoner, uses his GPS fitness watch to run more efficiently and to improve his race times. While the cost is between $200 and $300, an avid runner finds price is no obstacle to better running times.

Image Source: istockphoto.com

A GPS watch collects data while you run and displays it on the watch’s screen so you observe it during your run. You can download the data from each run to enable you to monitor progress over time. Some models will alert you during your run if your pace is too fast or intense and you risk injury. Also, these watches are waterproof so you need not worry about running in the rain or snow. Research shows that people wearing a pedometer tend to walk more. It stands to reason that if you wear a monitor for running, you will run more often and feel more motivated.

Additional motivation comes from the ability to view your progress graphically. Steven Rindner enjoys analyzing his results and planning his runs based on the data. He has seen improvements in his race times with fewer incidents of injury as a result of active monitoring of his runs. He also likes the fact that he can set his watch so that, when he stops for a traffic light or other reason during the run, the tracker stops, as well. So, his results exclude the time waiting for the light to change.

Certainly, a GPS fitness watch is not for everybody, but it can be invaluable for runners.

Avoiding these two common running injuries

Image Source:
Image Source: bplans.com

Serious runners often take an injury as a disaster that sidelines them to the couch until they’re well enough to go back on track. The causes of running injuries vary; they can result from overtraining, overuse, improper form, or even the wrong pair of shoes.

Fortunately, runners can minimize the risk of injury while training for or running in a race. The following are two common running injuries and tips on how to prevent them.

Image Source:
Image Source: therunningcompany.com.au

Plantar fasciitis is a condition wherein the plantar fascia, the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot, becames overloaded or overstretched, causing a stabbing pain that comes and goes.

To prevent it, runners should maintain a healthy weight, run on gentle surfaces such as a track or grass, and limit mileage increases to 10 percent per week. Stretching exercises that work the heel cord and the plantar fascia and ice massages after a hard run can prevent the condition from recurring. In addition, runners should choose shoes that provide ample cushioning and arch support.

Image Source:
Image Source: homeceuconnection.com

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS), also known as “runner’s knee,” is one of the most common overuse injuries among runners. It is characterized by knee pain, knee buckling, and a grinding or popping sensation while walking.

It occurs when the kneecap cartilage becomes overloaded due to poor alignment or overuse. PPS has many possible causes, from flat fleet that provide no cushioning, to wide hips and a greater Q angle that causes the kneecap to track abnormally.

To reduce the risk of PPS, runners could try exercises that strengthen the leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps, to improve kneecap tracking, and stretching exercises for the calves and hamstrings to promote a neutral running gait.

If runners feel pain, they shouldn’t force themselves to run through it or keep training: doing so might worsen the injury. At the first sign of injury, runners should scale back their mileage, get plenty of rest, and consider seeing a physician if the problem shows no signs of abating.

Steven Rindner is a marathon running enthusiast. For helpful articles on marathon running, subscribe to this blog.