Virtual Courses of the Week: 5k & 10k

Recently, if you are an avid road racer, you’ve probably had to scramble to come up with a virtual race course (or two) due to the pandemic. And if you have run a few already, you might be getting bored of the same old route. If that sounds like you – or if you are just looking for a fun new course to run – here are my 5k and 10k course recommendations this week. I really like both courses. I hope that going somewhere different with a set course might help you feel like your run was a little bit closer to the “real” race experience.

Indy Runners Rocky Ripple 5k (Segment available on Strava & Garmin Connect)

https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1110709?units=miles

This is an extended version of a tempo loop that my friend Jordan Kyle showed me a while back. The first mile is really fast and will get you into a good rhythm. There is a little hill that you have to deal with twice before you make your way onto the Canal Towpath, but overall it’s a really fast and fun course. To get a detailed course profile, click on the link provided under the map above.

Indy Runners Bulldog 10k (Segment available on Strava & Garmin Connect)

https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1110906?units=miles

This course includes the Rocky Ripple 5k – so if you use Strava and Garmin Connect you can get extra segment credit. This is a nice run on Butler’s campus where you will love me on mile 2 and hate me on mile 5. I’ve only jogged this course but plan on racing it as a fitness check this Friday. Quick note: the finish listed on the map above is slightly different than the segments on Strava and Garmin Connect. Click on the link under the map to get more detailed information on the route.

I’m hoping to make this a regular thing, so if you have any route suggestions send them my way in the comments and they might make it into the next blog post. If you end up running one of my routes let me know what you think!

My First…

This weekend, runners and walkers from across our city, state and country should have come together on Washington Street – stretching from the JW Marriott to the Arts Garden, all awaiting their moment to run under the giant American flag and begin their journey on foot the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway and back.

Although the Mini didn’t take place as planned this weekend, many still hit the pavement to log their miles. Many took a moment – as we often do on race day – to think about how far they’ve come since their race and some chose to write about it on a friend’s social media thread prompting the reflection.

Below is what came to mind. I’d love to hear memories from your first Indy Mini…

I signed up for the 2003 Mini with the hope that the idea of running alongside 35,000 people would motivate me to run regularly and lose a few pounds. I was doing step aerobics classes and, somehow figured if I could do two hours of step, I could do two hours of running and gently put off “real” training for a little closer to the race – running a few miles here and a few there, one 8-miler along the way.

I remember the people and the sights more than anything on race day – the elephants at the Zoo watching us go by, the belly dancers on White River Parkway, the cloggers before Allison Transmission… and the track! Why the **** do people think it’s FUN to run around that thing? But as a lover of experiences, it was pretty cool. And who drinks beer during something as long as a half marathon (I’d soon learn that it, too, was fun).

I remember barely being able to lift my feet off the ground and stumbling across the railroad tracks on 10th Street. The smell of popcorn ready to pop brings me back to race day and the stretch down White River Parkway. And I’ll never not know that it’s a mile from the turn onto New York to West Street. In fact, that’s where I got passed by a speed-walker – man, did she look fresh and did I feel humbled!

I remember laying on the grass in Military Park, exhausted, swearing off any future runs longer than a lap around my neighborhood. And then, the next day, signing up for 2004 where I took a similar approach to training.

Transitioning to Running in a Time of Corona…

With gyms and other workouts on hold during this time of responsible social distancing, many people are taking up Running as a way to get in some fitness (and sanity). Maybe you are one of them, maybe you know someone who is starting to Run more.

As a Running Club we certainly want to encourage folks to enjoy the benefits of our beloved sport like we do. But, we also want to encourage a responsible transition to help avoid injury and build up in a smart way to capitalize on this new adventure.

Attached are two progressions for transitioning to being a runner.

  1. Intermediate – For relative newcomers starting from walking 20-30 minutes several times per week.
  2. Advanced – For those who usually workout in other fashions (weights, high intensity intervals, spin class, etc.) that have a good base of fitness but can’t do those things right now.
  3. We also have our Beginner Program that we started last year – starting with Walking then to Running 40-minutes over a 12-week span (maybe up to a 5k race?)

Where ever you are on your journey, please let us know how it’s going. And once we can gather again for group Club Runs, we’d love to see you join us!

Any questions, please feel free to write to our Medical Liaison, Brian Schuetter, PT with St. Vincent Sports Performance at medical@indyrunners.org.

Thanks so much and be safe out there!

Let’s Run :: River House Edition

Have you noticed that nearly every Friday, an email magically arrives in your inbox noting a prescribed distance and a recommended route for the next day’s Indy Runners club run?

We know that running with the club isn’t always possible, so we mapped out four of of our favorites starting and finishing at the River House Apartments, 6311 Westfield Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46220:

THE MONON:
https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2926031149
The Monon Trail is now over 27 miles long, a little over a marathon, from Indianapolis north through Carmel and Westfield. From River House in Broad Ripple, head north to 75th Street (3mi), to 86th Street (6mi), 96th (8mi) or even up to 146th Street (18) round trip.

WILLIAM’S CREEK / PENN LOOP:
https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2926015297
This route is ideal for adding a couple miles of hills to your workout and will cover 8-8.5 miles. Run north on the Monon, turn left (west) on 86th Street, then left (south) on Pennsylvania just before you reach Meridian Street. Run on Penn until it Ts at Arden. Turn left (east) on Arden and run along the river until the road nearly dead-ends. Turn left (north) and then right (east) on 70th Street.

You can get back on the Monon near the Art Center at 67th Street or may choose to extend the route a bit and run south along College to Fresh Thyme Market.

This route can be run in either direction. If you’re looking for additional hills, you’ll find them around Washington & 70th.

Watch for cars along Penn and at intersections throughout the run.

BUTLER UNIVERSITY & TOWPATH LOOP:
https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2926026451
From River House, head south on the Monon to 52nd Street. Turn right (west) running on the sidewalk. Cross with the lights at College Avenue and again at Meridian Street before you reach the north side of Butler’s campus. Turn left (south) onto Boulevard Place. Hinkle Fieldhouse will be on your right. Stop in there or the Health & Recreation Complex (HRC) for a drink of water or a restroom.

Continue past the HRC, turning right (west) before the campus parking garage and pass through Holcomb Gardens. Cross the pedestrian bridge onto the crushed-limestone towpath. Turn right and head northeast. The towpath will bring you back to Broad Ripple.

This route is a total of 6.5 miles and may be shortened by continuing along 52nd Street directly to the towpath.

Near 52nd and the towpath, you’ll soon find the Indy Runners-sponsored drinking fountain.

DOWNTOWN LONG RUN: https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2926045174
Don’t let the name fool you. This 19-mile run, too, begins and ends at River House Apartments. Head south-ish on the towpath past Butler and Newfields/Indianapolis Museum of Art. At 30th Street, jog to your right and catch the light just past Riverside High School. Head south along White River Trail through Riverside Park and past the former Bush Stadium until you reach a large pedestrian bridge near 10th Street.

Cross the bridge and cross 10th Street at the light. Turn right (west) and run a couple blocks to the west side of the VA hospital. Turn left (south) before the bridge over White River and follow the path across New York and into White River State Park. From here, you can find your way onto the Canal Walk. Exit the Canal Walk at the USS Indianapolis Memorial and onto Walnut Street.

You’ll see the brown pavers of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Follow the Cultural Trail past the library, south through American Legion Mall, west on North Street, along Mass Ave to 10th Street. Turn right on 10th and look for the Monon Trail on your left. Run on the Monon until you return to Broad Ripple.

More than Miles: A Member Profile of Alison Brown.

If you’re like me, you might find yourself going out for a run or walk just to balance out the weight of the news headlines. You may even wonder if there’s anything one person can do to counter them, even just a bit.

Indy Runners & Walkers member and volunteer Alison Brown was inspired to try.

This coming weekend, she’ll join women around the world in walking or running 21.1K (13.1 miles) and donating 21.1 Euros to support the International Alliance of Women (IAW) and Project 21.1. Look for her at North Central High School’s Great North Run.

Through the project, the IAW encouraged participants to share their running or walking stories “through the lens of Peace, Climate Change, Human Rights, Women’s Economic Empowerment, Education, etc.” We’d love to hear your running story in the comments below.  

Alison has had an impact locally though Indy Runners as a member and volunteer, as well as globally though IAW as a delegate to the United Nations World Conference on Human Rights and as Secretary General of the IAW, among many other roles.

She came to Indianapolis with her husband Siegmund, who joined Indy Runners in 2009. Alison soon discovered that waiting at the finish line for someone doing a half or full marathon was pretty boring and quickly decided to join the club. She could often be found doing 5- and 8-Ks as he raced longer.

Although Siegmund is no longer with us, you can still find Alison serving and empowering others at races and at Butler Basketball games.

How to Dress for Winter Training Success

Deciding what to wear while running and walking in an Indianapolis winter isn’t an easy task. Negative wind chills at the beginning of the week can easily shift to sixty degrees and sunny by the end of the week. One thing that won’t shift, however, is the date of that Spring race you signed up for in November. I mean, who wants to train on a treadmill every day until the end of March? This blog post is going to help you make sure you have the perfect running or walking outfit to tackle the fickle Indiana weather all season.

Dress for “Adjusted” Temperature.

The first thing you want to think about when deciding what to wear before a run or walk is the “adjusted” workout temperature. When you run or walk, your body is going to heat up, and your outfit needs to be suited to deal with this change comfortably. Try to dress for a temperature that is 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. I look at the “Feels like” temperature on my weather app (which takes factors like windchill and humidity into account) and go from there. Everyone responds to temperature changes differently, so it may take multiple trials to figure out what is right for you. Start out by making the 15-20 degree adjustment, which is pretty reliable, and then make further changes as you see fit. Also, keep in mind how strenuous your run or walk will be. A leisurely jog or walk may not require as extreme an adjustment to the actual outside temperature as a fast-paced interval workout will.

Base Layers

Choose the right Base Layer.

A good base layer uses special synthetic fabric (and not cotton) and weaving technology to help wick (pull away) moisture away from your skin to aid in the evaporation of sweat. These are durable shirts that will never fade and will benefit you in hot or cold conditions. The most underrated winter base layer in my opinion is the wind boxer shown above. It’s a great piece for men and women, but to the guys out there: if it’s cold enough, you will wish you had a pair, trust me. 😉

Mid Layer

The Mid Layer helps regulate body temperature.

The mid layer helps regulate your body temperature by directing body heat back into your body and by stopping cold air from passing through to your body. They often feature specially placed vents, fleece-lined panels, and, in some cases, protective wind and rain shields. Many thermal layers contain special pockets to hold personal items like phones and keys. For the majority of the winter season, you can easily get by with just a base layer and a mid layer.

Shells

Top it off with an Outer Protection Shell.

The outer protection shell is most beneficial in poor winter conditions. Its function is to protect you from rain, sleet, ice, snow, wind, and more. There are a variety of options available depending on the level of protection you require. There is a variety of apparel items, from vests to jackets, available to provide you with the protection you need on any given day.

Neck Gaiter, Balaclava, Hat, Gloves

Don’t forget your head and hands.

Having a good running hat and pair of gloves is crucial for making it through the winter. There are a variety of different options and thicknesses to fit what you are looking for. If your hands are super cold all the time, then I suggest a mitten. If being able to use your phone is important, there are now a lot of options that allow you to use a touch screen without taking off your gloves. I personally run with a glove-mitten hybrid so that I have the option of a mitten but can switch to a glove when my hands get warm. On the really cold days a balaclava or neck gaiter are crucial to protect your face against the elements. It’s best to try on different options and think about when you will use them. A good hat and pair of gloves can get you through several winters.

Hopefully this blog post gave you a good idea of how to tackle difficult winter training days. Investing in a good winter wardrobe will not only help you train like a champ this winter, but for several winters to come. Best of luck with your training. If you liked this post next time you see me say balaclava and I will take that as a thank you!

Five Mental Tips for Race Day Success

Ever hear the phrase, “running/walking is 90% mental”? While that may be a bit of hyperbole, there is a lot of truth to the saying. Having a strong mental game on race day can be the difference between cashing in and crapping out on months of hard work and preparation.

Sport psychologists encourage relaxation and visualization during an event. Physiologically relaxed muscles are more fluid, react more quickly, and burn less energy. Relaxed bodies have lower blood lactate levels and allow for greater mental concentration. On the opposite end, when you are experiencing fear and stress, the body becomes tense and tight. Blood flow is directed to the brain, making it harder for the body to perform. Referenced from “Running Within” Jerry Lynch

The following five tips will help you relax and visualize your way to Race Day success!

Tip 1: Breath

There is no consensus on what the best breathing pattern is. I have personally found it helpful to keep my breathing under control as much as possible. If you can be thoughtful about each breathe, it will go a long way; staying relaxed will bring in enough oxygen while also relaxing your mind and body. You can even take this a step further by visualizing clean air circulating through the body with each inhalation, and toxins, stress, and negativity being released with each exhalation.

Tip 2: Body & Face

Remember: staying relaxed and under control is the name of the game. To do that you need to identify and eliminate areas of tension in the body and face. Aim for having loosely cupped hands, relaxed arms, dropped and relaxed shoulders, and a gentle anterior tilt of the head. You also want to relax your face. I typically visualize one of Salvador Dali’s clocks and try to make my face as close to that as possible.

Tip 3: Words

Develop positive mantras and be relentlessly optimistic. I remind myself over and over about all the hard work I have put in and how ready I am. But that is just me. Everyone runs or walks a race for different reasons. Whatever your reason, lean into that! And give yourself plenty of reminders when things are getting tough. I have also found that putting a smile on my face from time to time really helps a lot. After all, this is supposed to be fun!

Tip 4: Images

Using visual images can really help during challenging parts of a race. I typically like to think back to a time when a workout or race went really well and how great I felt. Putting my mind into that positive space helps me will it into existence again. I also like to imagine myself at the moment I cross the finish line and the joy I will feel when I’m done running and my goals have been met. Again, this is just me; mantras should be personal. Find what images motivate you and use them.

Tip 5: Handling Bad Patches

There are several coping strategies that help with handling bad patches during a race. I personally like to break the race into small, manageable chunks – the next mile marker, the next street corner, etc. Focus all your efforts on making it to whatever spot you have picked out in your mind. When you reach the spot you targeted, then choose another and repeat. Other successful tactics include quickening your pace for short bouts of 50-100 meters to change things up, or focusing on your running form to make sure you are maintaining good running posture.

Now that you have the keys to the castle, you should be ready to crush it on race day! If you think I missed anything feel free to share in the comments any strategies that work for you. I also love hearing success stories, so let me know if any of these tips work out for you. Fare well! I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming events!