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RFYL Weekly: Mix it up!

On Saturday, November 21st, the team will be meeting up at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx at 9:30 am for a 13.1 and 5k race sponsored by the Odyssey House “Run for Your Life” Alumni Association. The team meet-up spot will be in front of the Burger King, one block away from 242nd Street on the # 1 train and across the street from Van Cortlandt Park. Team leaders will lead the runners over to the starting line near Van Cortlandt Park Golf Course. All participants will receive a medal for completing either distance, and the first, second, and third place winners for the half marathon will receive trophies. This event will comply with all CDC guidelines: participants must wear a face mask, hand sanitizer will be made available at the sign-in table, and groups are not to exceed more than 10 people. Bathroom facilities will be available, road marshals will be stationed at turnaround points for the 5k and half marathon, and water stations will also be located at the turnaround points. Water and Gatorade will also be located at the finish line.

Public transportation and driving directions: Take the # 1 train to 242nd Street and Broadway (last stop) in the Bronx, then walk one block north to the Burger King (on the left-hand side of the street), where you will be met by the group leaders. If you’re driving, take Interstate 87 North and get off at the Van Cortlandt Park exit; bear right when exiting the expressway. At the first light, make a right turn, then go down about a ¼ mile until you see the Burger King. Parking is limited therefore I suggest that you get there as early as possible.

Weekly Running Tips: How to get the most out of your runs

Every time you pick up a new physical activity that requires you to move in an unfamiliar way it is hard in the beginning but after a while, your body optimizes itself to manage the load, and the activity itself becomes easier. Being an adaptive bio-machine the body is designed to recognize patterns so it catches on fairly quickly and, as you continue working, it eventually optimizes all of the processes involved for minimum energy expenditure. With running, for example, your breathing stabilizes, your body develops muscle memory and it becomes easier to flow with the run.

This is great because your form improves and running becomes second nature to you. Unfortunately, this means that your body has completed its evolution and entered its comfort zone, which also means you will not progress any further. There is simply no need to continue changing if you are already capable of covering the same distance at the same pace without much effort.

That is how most runners hit a plateau. Running the same distance at the same pace every day might be enjoyable but eventually, it stops pushing your body to change and get fitter. Everything optimizes: your body doesn’t burn the same amount of energy as before – it takes you fewer calories to run the same distance, you don’t get faster and your endurance only lasts you until the end of the run. If you continue doing the same thing, running exactly the same run over and over again your body will optimize itself to be perfect – but perfect for this exact run only.

This is why it is vital that you spice up your runs, run different distances in different conditions at different speeds, and throw in some bodyweight training on top of that. That is how you keep your body sharp and force it to continue changing, burn more every time, and improve your speed and endurance.


Try the different running techniques provided below:

Endurance Runs: see just how far your body can take you at your lowest speed. Endurance runs can be used for conditioning (over an hour-long) and recovery (under an hour).

Speed Drills: sprinting is the best way to push your body to the next level and gain momentum. Teach your body instant response and acceleration. Do at least one set of speed drills per week and watch your body change.

Endurance + Speed: this is how you level up, first you push your body to endure long-distance and then you force it into the final home run to sprint. Make it 9/1 ration or 8/2. If you are running 10 kilometers then your last 1-2 kilometers should be done at your top speed. This is marathon training.

Fast Five: Every now and then, do a test run for 5K. Run as fast as your legs can carry you and aim to beat your previous record time every time.

Uphill: running is supposed to be challenging, if you are running on the same surface, you are not getting the most out of your runs and handicapping yourself. Running is meant to be uphill and downhill and rarely level 0 – your body has to be able to deal with changes in the environment and the only way to make it stronger is to force it to adapt. Finish your runs by running up a small hill and, if you run on a treadmill, change your incline level and go up. Try it at least once a week.

Bodyweight Add-ons: When you do sprints, finish them with a double push up and double squat to break the pattern and hyper load your muscles even further. You can also try jump squats, jump knee tuck exercises, skipping and straight leg bound drills in between your runs to improve your acceleration and speed.

Extra weight runs: get a pair of wrist weights, the lightest you can find, and run wearing them. Run at the same speed you normally would and see how much faster you will get once you take the weights off. Note: Do not wear them on your feet, it will screw up your landing and can potentially cause injury – only run with wrist weights and work your arms as you run.

The more variety you have in your running the better the results you’ll get. You will perform better and you’ll look better, too. It’s important that you continue challenging your body and your cardiovascular system – that’s when you gain the most.


Coach Andre’s tips:

Thanksgiving is always the three F’s: family, food, and fun. It’s a perfect time to engage in a family walk or run at a local park near where the family is gathering. I generally suggest doing these type of activities as early as possible, before any food consumption. Whether walking or running, it can be the perfect opportunity to catch up on old times and create new memories for years to come. Celebrate life this holiday season by encouraging family members to be active: “the body was designed to be in motion.” Live well and be well!

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