5 Ways Runners Can Use Trail Running to Get Faster

Trail running makes you strong. It can also make you faster. “But wait,” you think, “I look down at my watch Garmin afterwards and the times are slower!” Ahhh…it all comes back to effort, My Dears, effort.

Hills take a LOAD more effort running up than running on the flats. #lessonfromcommonsense Haha. Force those legs of yours to put in the extra effort needed to get up those inclines thought and you’ll build power. Now a lesson in running mathematics:

Power = Strength = Speed

running mental fence
Blast up those hills and the second you take it to the track or flats, you’ll be thinking how much ‘easier’ it feels. This summer, take it to the trails (the right way) and you’ll come out stronger, faster, and ready to kick butt. It’s not just about ‘base building’ it’s about ‘power building’.

5 Ways to Do Your Power Building Trail Running RIGHT

1) Get Efficient: You’re not doing hills right if you’re hunched over like Quasimodo. Hills make it even more important you hold proper form. Check out my post on form HERE and when taking it to the hills remember:
* Stand Up TALL: Keep that torso straight!
* Don’t Lean: Don’t lean too far into the hill, keep your center of gravity above your hips; your hips will naturally be SLIGHTLY leaning into the hill, but you should think in your mind about standing up straight because quite honestly you’ll probably ‘feel’ like you’re leaning WAY back behind you but in reality are where you need to be. Focus on staying upright.
* Shorten Stride: Keep the same effort running up the hill but shorten your stride. Focus on the faster turn-over and power up that hill!

2) Eyes Ahead: Keep your eyes focused on the top of the hill, you want to power all the way UP and THROUGH the crest. Too many runners make the mistake of powering up and stopping juuuuust short of the crest which means they lose all that momentum they worked SO hard for getting up. Run THROUGH the hill so you can use that momentum to power down it.

3) Blasts vs. Endurance: Just like track and flat speedwork, hill running workouts should be tailored to match the goal for the day’s workout. Short 10-30 second hill blasts can be thought of like plyometric work. It will REALLY build that base speed, it’s all fast twitch; so remember to take FULL recovery for short blasts, as is the law of the sprinters and taxing the anaerobic energy system. Longer hill repeats and doing tempo workouts on a hilly course will further build that endurance and strength so when you take it to the flats the same EFFORT will yield much faster times. It’s always cool to step from the hills to the track, look at the watch and surprise yourself, no? :)

4) Rolling and Exploring: Even doing your easy days on the trails will build power. Over time the ups and downs make you stronger; it’s important to keep your easy day EFFORT easy though so you’re still actually recovering. So again, ignore what the watch says and run for effort.

5) Downhill Running: It’s important to remember that everything that goes up, goes down. #duh Running downhill puts a lot of stress on the body and as any Boston Marathon runner can tell you downhills can REALLY do a number on those quads. Downhill running isn’t ‘easy peasy’ on the body. So if you’re training for a race with lots of downhills it’s smart to practice running downhill. If you’re prone to injury beware, because the extra pounding can cause knees and ankles to get cranky. Final tip on running downhill: don’t FIGHT it. Relax, let gravity help you, and don’t try to fight it…roll with it, Runner Babes.
find adventure after the sidewalk ends
So if you’re not sold on hills and exploring trails, and that they will make you faster, yet…just go to Instagram and check out some of those nature pix those avid trail runners are posting! The miles will fly by. Go out…explore, adventure, LOVE the run!

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CHECK IT OUT!! Ezzere made Competitor’s list for TOP fitness tees!! Wahooo…the Peacock Runner Tee, sitting at number 3 on the slideshow. :)
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1) Best, most amazing trail run you’ve even been on?
Nisene Marks Park in Aptos, CA. Go there.

2) Favorite hill workout?

Monday Morning Running Motivation: Follow your heart

running motivation art fitspo

And for those who need an excuse busting or kick in the butt to get out the door…
running fitspo art shut up and lace up

Happy Monday!

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More running MOTIVATION HERE
ezzere peacock runner tee
WEAR Your Motivation…Ezzere
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1) Share some running love you had from the weekend.

Heat Kills

I live in California so even though June 21st is ‘officially’ the first day of summer, I’ve been running in a hot box for weeks already. Never fail, during some of my summer runs I always get that Bush song, “Speed kills…” stuck in my head but I swap out the word to “heat kills”. #truth

Running when the brutal sun is scorching you isn’t my favorite thing. But until we find that perfect seasonless runner utopia we must deal. For those runners in humid states, good lordy I’ve spent some time running in those conditions and had to come back and wrench out my running shorts and sports bra, easily a couple cups of sweat there! haha.
melting runners

So here’s my running summer warning and tip round-up:

* Beat the Heat: If you can, it seems like a no-brainer to try and get up and go run before the sun and temps are up, or wait until the later evening.
* Acclimate: Here is where you SHOULD actually force your runner butt to run in the heat. If you’re going to be racing under sweltering conditions you NEED to start getting your body used to running in the same conditions. The first runs, and especially hard workouts, are going to not feel all too pleasant. But eventually your body will start to adjust…you do NOT want the first time you go out and run in hot/humid/both conditions to be on race day when you’ve been doing all of your training at 5am to beat the heat. It’ll be like a body slam sucker-punch on race day.
* Hydrate…they hydrate some more: I’ve done some posts HERE and HERE all about hydration. But this needs to be BEATEN into your HEAD here. Hydrate religiously throughout the entire day!! You should be peeing darn near clear, by the time you feel thirsty you’re mildly dehydrated. Also make sure to get those electrolytes replenished as well.
* GI Issues: It’s no coincidence that your tummy may become more upset when the temps rise. I did a post HERE explaining just how much dehydration can be the root cause of lots of running GI disasters. So another reason to stay hydrated…ooor, just go poop your pants…your choice.
ice cream personality test
Now let’s talk about doing hard workouts and races in the summer scorchers:

* Easy Does It: We already know that going out too fast can be the kiss of death. Doing that in the heat is like putting yourself through Dante’s extra levels of h*ll. You might feel okay at the start but it’ll come slap you hard in the body/face/legs later. This is where you should be running for EFFORT and not times…the heat and humidity are two big factors that slow down times. So adjust your paces accordingly and the power of negative splitting is much friendlier than the brutal kick your butt punishment of going out too fast.
* H2O Cool: If you’re at the track, bring extra water to douse your head and body between reps. Obviously keep some to take sips on, but getting that body temp down the hose-to-head method works well too.
* Seek Shade: Ahhh-duh. If you can find shadier trails to do tempo or fartlek runs on then it’s a no-brainer (vs. an uncovered track). But I also wanted to add this one in here meaning that if you’re doing a track meet and are doubling/tripling/etc. get you butt in the shade as much as possible. No need to have extra energy zapped out of you lingering in the sun unnecessarily.

Whew…and after that, just dream of ice cream and guzzling the entire river once you’ve finished the run. ;)

1) What’s one of your summer running tips?
2) How bad are you tan lines?
I could blind you from 10 miles away. ;)

Monday Running Motivation: Starting Line

Moments before the gun. All other runners slip away, left one.

runner starting line art

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More posts on MOTIVATION
Another post on Starting Line Confidence and How to Build Yours

Talk about one cute chicker from the weekend!! This super fast runnerchick was the top female and 5th overall in just her first 5k!! Can you say natural born runnerchick?! At least her Ezzere Get Chicking Tee gave them a warning…keep on smoking those runnerboys. ;)

ezzere get chicking tee running
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1) What’s usually one of the last things you do RIGHT before the gun goes off?

The World Cup Reminds Me…the time I proved I had no coordination skills

The 2014 World Cup has begun!! Now here’s a fun fact, soccer was my first sport. Gosh how I loved it, I played for seven years and looked forward to every Saturday’s game (confession: the after-game snack a LOT too!) like nobody’s business. Why did I stop after seven years?? Enter exhibit A:
running sports cartoon
I sucked. Like I REALLY sucked. I can vividly remember scoring my first goal…mostly because it was my first and last. I don’t even have an excuse for one goal in seven years, like I played goalie or defense…nope, I was a forward and mid-fielder. Right where one with any iota of coordination would be set RIGHT up to score a goal.

Hey, at least I can own my suckiness. I know I can handle turning left and running in a straight line. So I stopped soccer when, totally honest here, the only team I could still make was the rec team. The qualifications for making the rec team is having your mom or dad write the $35 check to the community rec league. I was in junior high at the time, meaning my rec team would be all the 4th and 5th graders still too young for the Comp and Select teams.

That’s when my mommy-o suggested I try cross country. I thought it was a traveling team, “Cool!! I get to go touring around…I’ll bet I’ll find lots of fun new foods to try!” I though. Yea, even at that age it all comes back to foods and treats, right? I was in for a shock. No traveling done unless you run there. I got tripped pretty bad my first practice and later had to pick gravel out of scars I still have today.

i run. i'm hungry. cartoon

i run…do the math.


My first race I spent hovering over a bush for about 15 minutes certain I’d barf. I didn’t, but my dad still has a picture of me hovering over the bush. The thing is though, I kinda liked it. I sucked at anything with ‘real’ coordination skills but I kinda liked that I could grimace in pain and pass some girl up a hill. I would like to also mention I sucked at running too. That girl I passed up the hill, maybe was the only girl I passed. Like I was slow, but in my mind I didn’t fully grasp 1) how slow I was 2) how HORRENDOUS my form was!! Gosh, even my mom in later years admitted, “Yea, I’ll never forget trying not to laugh the first time your little club coach saw you run and remarked that you looked crazy.”

I owned my crazy then and I own it now though! ;) But hey, I stuck with this whole running thing. I do promise I kinda really hated it the first couple weeks, but I swear there was like this insane shift after you get past the ‘hump’ I call the hazing weeks. Basically once you become consistent enough to where your body and muscles don’t go into the shock of thinking, “Wait, she’s running…that must mean there’s a bear chasing her!!” resulting in unwalkable sorenesses the next day. Get past that and you’re golden. ;)

Look at running, turning into about my favorite thing to do. Shall we just be thankful that I actually DID have a little too much pride to out-age my rec teammates by four years? Best $35 my mommy-o didn’t have to spend. ;)
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My latest on RunBlogRun: Phoebe Wright Can’t Be Stopped! <--- this is actually one h*ll of an inspiring story and she's HILARIOUS!! Read the story then check her blog and twitter feed!!

Also on Want to Run in College? This is what it takes: Hakon DeVries of the University of Kentucky
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1) Are you a big soccer fan? Will you be unreachable and completely ignore any and all of your surroundings until the World Cup is over?

2) Were you good at other sports besides running?

3) Have you ever barfed after a race?
Hey, I hovered over that bush but nothing came up. Never have thrown up after a race or workout, that one time over the bush was the closest I’ve come.

Runners Breaking Fences: Accomplish more when you free yourself

Our minds are experts in construction. They will build up fences quicker than nobody’s business. It’s actually a survival method, the brain ‘thinks’ it’s looking after our best interest, keeping us safe by setting limits.

The problem is that this survival method is archaic and antiquated, most of the fence-building is stopping us from pushing ourselves in work or running rather than stopping us from trekking too far from our caves, getting lost, and gobbled up by a dinosaur. ;)
running mental fence
In breaking down your fences you are freeing yourself. Because on the other side, THAT is where you can push yourself to your best. The other problem with fences is that they stop you from even dreaming, or imaging that something epic is ‘out there’ that YOU could possible accomplish THAT! Fences keep you safe, in a comfort zone, they also suck because they rob you of really feeling and experiencing.

We can easily relate this to running in a few ways:

1) Goals: if your goals aren’t big enough to scare you a bit, they should be bigger. That said, you should know that working towards something BIG is HARD. That’s the point, that’s what makes an accomplishment fulfilling though. Just don’t be fooled into thinking there won’t be times where you want to stop…that’s where true self-motivation and dedication is tested.

2) Going in over your head: everyone needs to be in the position of going in over their head, a few times, and get comfortable with the fact that, “Yea, I might bonk” because, “Yea, I might not bonk and break through to a new level.” There are times in races where you need to not look at the clock/watch/split and just race, get swept up in the faster group…this can be in workouts too.

Confidence is a funny thing for a runner, and the watch can do wonders for it but it can also sabotage you if you ‘think’ about it too much. Example: “Holy crap!!! We’re running XXX pace, I can’t hold this…what am I doing running with these people, I don’t belong here?!!” This runner can either be intimidated by the splits or check in with themselves and realize they were actually feeling fine until they freaked themselves out. They might blow up later, but they may not, they may have their best workout yet. Either way though, sometimes you need to just stick your neck out there, break the fence.

Important to note that, duh, you shouldn’t always go on some kamikaze mission in workouts and races. I mean, a 7 minute miler shouldn’t go workout with the 4 minute miler group…let’s be sane here. The point is that for the most part, runners DO need a little push every now and again to break through to the next level. Surrounding yourself by some faster people is a great way to do that.
dream bigger ezzere
3) Mental ‘fences’ pain signals: for runners the vast majority of fence building is stationed around hard workouts and races. Your brain wants to STOP pretty much the second you start…haha. Steve Magness wrote a really great post all about the brain, willpower, emotions, and how that relates to a runner’s mental toughness. It’s a long read but incredibly interesting, worth it, and touches on quite a few different points, tackling it from multiple angles.

He talks a lot about willpower and how fatigue is actually an emotional response rather than a physical one. Really interesting because when you think you’re ‘tired’ it’s really only your brain reacting, worrying that you’re GOING to be too tired later to finish and shouldn’t continue. He goes on with lots of ways a runner’s willpower and mental toughness to combat the pain signals from the brain are affected. Things that make us more easily swayed to stop rather than push.

Proper recovery like nutrition and sleep are two factors…another reason to think of your training in the big picture sense. But another big mental toughness inhibitor is stress. He phrases it more as using your willpower reserves up on less important matters, but the explanation is that your brain can really only handle so much. The more taxed your brain is going into a workout or race, the less it will perform. Read as: the weaker it goes into the race, the more likely you are to cave to its complaints to relent, slow down, or stop.

Go read his full article HERE because really, there’s so many interesting points that make you think. A runner’s mental toughness is something most all of us are fixated on because it’s not finite, it’s kind of like an intangible that’s hard to explain with science. But Magness is actually able to show how science is closing in on giving us some cool explanations and theories.

The bottom line is: Runners, scr*w those fences. Start breaking them down and in doing so you’ll find that’s where the truly epic sh*t lies.

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More posts on MOTIVATION
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Peacocks Stop for Runners

Because how could they NOT stop and gawk at such a well-dressed runnerchick. ;) #Ezzere Baby!

peacock runner tee movie

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This short video hit my Instagram feed first…be sure to follow me there so you’ll be the first to see when new artage and such get dropped. :)

Mosey over the BUY YOUR Ezzere Peacock Runner Tee…or any of the others. ;)
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Kale Video: Like cabbage only cooler

Runners, be you vegan or not, you should get friendly with our friend, Kale. :)

This video was posted on my Instagram page, so if those 15 seconds left your eyes darting to read all the awesome Kale facts, let me run through them again for you:

* Iron
* Calcium
* Vitamin B6, A, C, and K
* Chockfull of antioxidants
* Fights inflammation

So yea, Kale really is hip. Without the skinny jeans. ;)

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More posts on NUTRITION
Post all about the importance of IRON
More foods that FIGHT INFLAMMATION
More CARTOONAGE :)
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A Runner’s Made in the Mind

Strip away the muscles, the sinew, the bones
The flesh.
Alone with yourself.
in your mind.
A step echoing amidst chatter
doubts.Refutes.
I am stronger than you say.
dirt track mile
Tissues beg for slack,
plead for mercy.
I want to stop.
But I do not.

Mind runs on.
Push forward against protest
myself and my mind.
Friend, nemesis, untrustworthy deceivers.
I must stop.
You may not.
Only one step more.

LIAR!

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The June issue of Competitor magazine features Meb Keflezighi on the cover, the story is excellent and I urge you all to read it HERE. Not all can race outside of themselves, but it’s the quest to continually push our own limits that every runner is in a similar battle. Keep rising to the occasion.

More posts on MOTIVATION
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Runner’s Strip: Running Insurance

I think I’m in love with my new penguin. First he schools us on ice cream, now he speaks to another runner’s truth.

runner penguin with toilet paper

What nugget of wisdom with Mr. Penguin be dropping on us next time?

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More running CARTOONS AND LAUGHS

Posts on GI Issues for Runners HERE and HERE
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1) What nugget of truth do you think our penguin will be quipping about next time?