Crush the Hills With Proper Form

Running hills builds strength, stamina and improves running form. Here are our top tips for proper form when running hills.

Running Uphill

PACE:  Run the first third of the hill relaxed and slightly accelerate the last part.  You are aiming for equal effort.  Try to maintain the same effort not pace you were running on the flat. You can make up for the time of the downhill.

MENTAL:  Visualize the top of the hill ending 20 meters higher than where it actually does. This encourages you to always run through the top of the hill rather than relax once you get there. Also, learn to respect the hill, but feel confident in your ability to conquer it, even dominate it – it makes a difference!

HEAD/TORSO: Keep your head and chest up.  Don't slouch.  Many runners put their head down, which wastes energy by throwing off their running form. It also closes off your air passages and makes proper diaphragmatic breathing difficult.  Fix your gaze directly in front of you.

ARMS: Use your arms in a straight back and forward and up motion to drive you up the hill – do not cross the mid-line of your body. Concentrate on really overusing the arms to help power up.  Increase your arm swing as if you are using ski poles to help your legs push you up the hill.

SHOULDERS: Before tackling a hill, do a shoulders check. Are they creeping up to your ears? If so, roll them forward then backward and wiggle out your hands and arms to relieve tension.

FEET: You want your feet to land underneath your hips not out in front of you. When you start running uphill, shorten your stride. Push off your toes to create the upward motion that propels your body up and forward.  Think: shorter strides; up on your forefeet; pushing off your toes; and knees high to help your stride and keep you upright.

Running Downhill

PACE:  Accelerate gradually into the downhill – do not sprint (which causes muscle soreness later on) or fight gravity by hitting the breaks (which fatigues the quads).

MENTAL: Visualize gravity pulling you down the hill and stay in control.

HEAD/TORSO: Maintain an upright body posture with a slight forward lean on steep hills to go with gravity – always keeping your torso perpendicular to the horizontal running surface. Keep your head and chest up and eyes looking ahead

ARMS: Use your arms for balance as you let gravity help your upper body push you down hill – let your arms swing to the sides and across your body if that helps you keep your balance.

STRIDE: Slightly lengthen out your stride to take advantage of the hill with feet landing underneath you and knees bent. Downhill running can be very injurious to knees, so try not to "pound" the road on downhills.

FEET: Land on the mid-foot, not on your heel, and underneath your knees. Practice landing softly to protect the knees.

For Long Hill Repeat Workouts: (1) Accelerate over the first 10-20 steps increasing to your fastest pace you can maintain with good form for the rest of the hill.  You should be breathing hard at the top, but not gasping for air, and (2) maintain a consistent pace the entire length of hill and finish each repeat in the same amount of time as the others. This helps you avoid starting out too fast and understand pace limits for races. 

When Pain Becomes an Injury. What Next?

By Jessica Green

Returning to running after pregnancy is hard . . . even 8 months postpartum. Pregnancy is one of many things that can seriously throw your body out of whack. Don't let life events damage your running career long term. Take control and see someone before it's too late.

If you're reading this, then chances are you enjoy running and you have a long term goal to run for the rest of your life. I share that long term goal with you, but over the last few months I've been wondering why my body feels like a 55 year old body rather than a 35 year old body.  More specifically, I was afraid to try new workout classes or do intense speed workouts for fear that sporadic aches and pains that I've been dealing with since the birth of my second daughter 8 months ago would manifest into full blown injuries.  And then it happened . . . I got injured after throwing caution to the wind and doing an intense stair workout.

After two weeks off from running, I felt new again, but deep down I knew my body wasn't whole. In reality it hasn't been whole since the birth of my first child almost 3 years ago. Despite a marathon PR 14 months after her birth, I've felt muscular imbalances and weaknesses since her arrival that didn't exist pre-pregnancy.  As time progressed, I began to wonder how these would effect me down the road. Unless I did something to address them, they would only get worse. I started worrying about how I will feel by the time I really am 55 and beyond? The answer wasn't pretty. 

The recent injury coupled with the same on again/off again aches and pains since my first childbirth led me to seek out a physical therapist this month who is as committed as I am to helping me fit the puzzle pieces of my body back together. To an outsider, I don't appear injured. I'm able to comfortably power up huge hills on the trails, complete interval workouts and enjoy long runs on the weekends. Dig a little deeper though and you will find major deficits in some areas of my legs and glutes as a result of compensation and lack of strength. As long as I don't do anything, the chances of more serious injuries and discomfort only increase down the road - and my body will feel older than it should!

The takeaway, if you find yourself with nagging aches and pains that don't necessarily stop you in your tracks, but do prevent you from engaging in certain activities or feeling 100%, then take some time to fix them! This doesn't mean you have to stop running. For me, this means making a plan with my physical therapist. I see her once a week - It's basically the same commitment as a weekly workout class.  I have had tremendous success with my physical therapists in the past for both rehabilitative work and preventative work. Good ones are worth every penny.

Don't have a physical therapist? Not all PT's are created equal. Ask around for recommendations and find one that you connect with. If you don't like the first one you go to, keep trying. You're not locked in. It took me a couple tries to find a new one after moving to Portland, OR from NYC and leaving my favorite PT behind. Yes, I miss you Erica Meloe!

I'm not necessarily thankful for my injury, but I am thankful that it inspired me to take control of my body and reminded me that the more I "enable" my imbalances and weaknesses the more I throw off my game and limit myself in the future. I'm also thankful for these two little rugrats despite the chaos they imparted on my body!

My new long term goal? To feel 35 when I'm 55, not the other way around!

 

 

Quinoa Recipes

Quinoa is a great option for runners because it's a seed that is a complete protein (it contains all 9 essential amino acids). So, it's great for just about everyone, including those who are gluten free and vegetarian.  Below are  two of our favorite quinoa recipes, one for the morning and one for the evening. Both are easy to make and great for pre and post runs. 

Quinoa Kale Salad - this salad is easy to make and you can incorporate whatever veggies you like best. We recommend cooking quinoa ahead of time and then using it throughout the week. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 4 oz grilled chicken or firsh
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • Unlimited veggies

Directions:

  • Cook quinoa according to instructions
  • Cook protein until cooked through
  • Toss kale, quinoa, protein and veggies together and top with your favorite salad dressing
Great post run meal or bring it for lunch to power you through your afternoon run

Great post run meal or bring it for lunch to power you through your afternoon run

Morning Quinoa Bowl - this is a great breakfast option for a long run day. Cook your quinoa ahead of time.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbs silvered almonds
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk (almond, rice or regular)
  • 1 tbs maple syrup

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan
  • Heat on medium-low, stirring, until the quinoa has soaked up the liquid
  • Add more milk until the consistency suits you.

Our Favorite Fall Marathons

Marathons used to be all about achieving a specific race time. However, after hitting a few goals (Boston and a few PR's), we started to look at marathons (and races) as a chance to see new places and accomplish more than just time goals. Below are some of our favorite marathons and race locations

New York City (Meghan and Jessica) - People say this race is the largest live spectator event in the world and it feels like it the entire 26.2 miles. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Right from the start helicopters are hovering as you cross over the Verrazano Bridge and as soon as you touch ground in Brooklyn, the crowd is screaming for you and it doesn't stop until you exit Central Park after the finish line. In addition to the amazing spectator support, the course keeps you engaged winding its way through so many different parts of this iconic city.

Buenos Aires Marathon (Meghan) - 26.2 miles takes you throughout the city - from the historic areas of San Telmo and Boca to Recoleta and the port area. The crowds are supportive, there's plenty of water and the cityscape can't be beat. I had been to Buenos Aires before but seeing it on foot and in the early morning was amazing and one of my favorite memories of all time. Plus, your recovery includes meat and red wine!

Ragnar Colorado (Meghan) - While this wasn't a marathon, it's on our list because it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever run. We ran from Breckenridge to Snowmass, covering nearly 200 miles between 6 of us. I ran along Dillon Lake, at 9,000 feet, along I90 in the middle of the night and on beautiful trails in the early morning. I trained hard for this race, coming from zero elevation to 9k! It was a strength and endurance test that was totally worth it because of the landscape and trails. 

Richmond Marathon (Jessica) - Big is not always better. I learned this when I ran the Richmond Marathon after the Boston Marathon. Unlike Boston and other large races which require several hours of waiting and transportation logistics to get to the start, Richmond was a breeze. All in all, it took about 10 minutes to get to the start and begin running. There's something quite luxurious about that. There were also moments during the race along the river where it was beautiful and quiet. This was inspiring in its own way. Don't discount the smaller marathons. They are just as much fun and equally rewarding and unique.

Chicago Marathon (Jessica & Meghan) - Catch us running this marathon as coaches for Team Fox this year! We have a feeling it will be a favorite as well mainly because helping people accomplish their marathon goals on the course is pretty awesome. Want to make your marathon experience even more powerful? Team up with your favorite charity to raise funds for a cause that is meaningful to you.

The Mile High Run Club

by Meghan Reynolds

Treadmill workouts are not my favorite way to get a speed workout in but if I’m going to do one, I want Jes Woods at the Mile High Run Club coaching me. We use to run together 7 years ago at lululemon. She was just starting to run long distances. It was so fun and rewarding to see her go from 2 miles to half marathons. Now, she’s running 100 miles races and kicking our asses for 45 minutes on a treadmill.

This class reminded me how great a speed workout can feel. We did a warm up followed by a few hill repeats and then the intervals started. We did 4x2 minutes with 60 second recovery, 3x90 seconds with 90 second recovery and then 2x60 seconds with 90 second recovery. I was spent after but felt so great to hit 6:30s - it's been awhile!

Remember, the recovery between each interval is key. Our general rule of thumb is this - anything 400 m (1 lap around the track) and above, you should be able to slowly jog after each interval; anything below, you can walk. Your goal during intervals is to hit the same speed/pace as the prior one - this trains your muscles to understand how to perform when they are tired and lactic acid builds up. I ran at 5 or 5.5 for the 2 min and 90 second recovery times. I walked to recovery during the 60 second sprints because the goal was all out exertion. 

If you live in NYC and haven't checked out this class, go! It's a fun workout and you feel great after. 

Add this move into every run

We always include strength training in our running plans. We believe it is a key part of any successful plan. The one move we always include is the Single Leg Deadlift. It tones the hamstrings, the hips and the glutes. All three are needed to stabilize the body while running. Additionally, balancing on one leg reduces strength imbalance between left and right sides.  Add this one move into every workout and your legs will feel stronger and healthier. Do 2 sets of 15 reps per leg. GO!

SIngle Leg Deadlift

Getting back to running after being sick

by Meghan Reynolds

This winter was a doozy - lots of work hours, work travel, some life hiccups and getting sick (twice!). Something had to give and it was training for a marathon for me.  Getting two colds this year really wiped me out as well and I knew that I needed to rest in order to fully recover. I kept my running short and easy and focused on building strength and stretching.

Now, after two months of craziness, I'm back and getting ready for fall marathon training. It's tempting to just dive back into my 12-14 mile long runs and regular paced runs. But, I know my body isn't ready and I don't want to get discouraged. To avoid the pitfalls of checking off miles and pace, I started running for time. So, 30, 40 or 60 min runs. I started this about 3 weeks ago and am just now starting to wear my watch on runs. This does two things for me: 1) hides my pace so I don't freak out if I'm slower and 2) allows me to just run! I run out for 15 or 20 mins and then come back. For the longer runs, I explore a different neighborhood until my watch says 60 mins or a loop that takes me about an hour.

I've found that this makes running more enjoyable and not so task oriented of hitting a set number of mile or a set pace. So, if you have had a doozy of a winter, don't despair. Start slow and start without miles or pace goals. Aim to hit total time running goals. Within 3 weeks, you'll be back and ready to go!

Sticking to your training plan when traveling

It can be challenging to stick with our training plans while traveling, for work and for pleasure. We usually recommend cutting back the miles so you can enjoy your vacation or not be overly stressed about fitting in a long run.

Meghan was just on a work trip for 7 days so she had to rearrange her training schedule to fit her work schedule. Here’s what she did to keep up her fitness and get her miles in. She was in Mexico City with a photographer so she was at the mercy of the light and the photographer’s schedule. While this got her awesome pictures, it didn’t leave a lot of time for working out. She decided to cut way back on her miles and focus on strength this week. Mexico City has terrible traffic so they walked a lot (5-8 miles a day) so she was conscious of how much her legs were doing. 

The end of the race made for a perfect picture!

The end of the race made for a perfect picture!

  • Monday – travel day
  • Tuesday – 30 min run on treadmill and 5 minutes of abs
  • Wed – 15 mins of strength in hotel room
  • Thursday – 20 min run and 10 mins of strength in hotel gym
  • Friday – 20 min total body workout
  • Sat – 20 min HIIT workout
  • Sunday – 5.5 mile run (and she found a race!)

Traveling can be stressful so we always recommend going with the the least stressful option – finding a treadmill or cutting back on your miles. 

 


Base Building. Staying in the Game.

Ever wonder what you're supposed to do before your half marathon or marathon race training plans actually start? The average runner is not constantly in race training (if you feel like you are, stop and talk to us about recovery!). This period in between recovery and race training is hard for a lot us who thrive off of structure and goals.  For others coming back from an injury or time off from running, you might have the same question: How do you stay fresh and ready to dive into more technical demands of race training like intense hill and speed workouts and long runs? The answer? Do three simple things:

  1. ADD VARIETY TO 1 RUN PER WEEK
  2. BUILD UP TO 1, 90-MINUTE LONG RUN PER WEEK
  3. STRENGTH EXERCISES AT LEAST 2X PER WEEK

ADDING VARIETY:
What I mean here is vary your pace and vary your terrain at least once a week. You can be very structured about this or spontaneous depending on what works best for you and your lifestyle. Either way, start to incorporate faster intervals and hill work once a week. This can include progression runs where you get faster and faster each mile, short and long speed intervals (1 to 5 minutes), tempo runs, hill repeats or hill surges on a hilly run.  For specific workout ideas, download our Base Training Plan.

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THE LONG RUN:
In order to be race training ready, it's good to have the body accustomed to some longer distances so the long run isn't so taxing on the body. Accordingly, building up and maintaining the ability to run for 90 minutes is a good base line to settle in at during "spring training." Remember, as with any running routine, you want recovery weeks. So, every couple of weeks, drop your long run down to 60 or 70 minutes to give your body a break. Once you can do 90 minutes comfortably, start to challenge yourself on these runs either by harder terrain, faster paces in the middle or the end of the run.

TARGETED STRENGTH WORK
The majority of runners make just enough time in their day to get their run in. Maybe a few extra minutes for stretching . . . maybe.  But, building a strong foundation during this phase is just as important as maintaining the frequency of your running. While training plans aren't taking over your life, this is a good time to really commit to strength work at least two times a week. Focus on a couple core exercises and a couple lower body exercises. Honestly, 30-minutes a week is a good start (2, 15-minute strength sessions). Do it. Check out our video library for exercise suggestions.

Would you like extra guidance on how these three principles play out in a base training training plan? Download our free Base Training Plan. Once you have a chance to review it, feel free to reach out to us with questions about how to make it your own. Base building is casual and carefree - this is not a time to stress about missed runs, but it is a time to start mixing things up!


Treadmill Workout for Snow Days

Are you snowed in this weekend? Well, that's no excuse to miss your interval running workout. We've got a simple treadmill workout for all you runners training for a half marathon this spring (we're looking at you, NYC Half runners!) Even if you don't have a gym, find a friend with a gym in their building, or look for gyms that give you a free pass. In may cities, Classpass now offers gym access.

This treadmill interval workout is pretty simple and we've got 2 versions: 1) for the newbie runner who wants some speed and 2) for the more seasoned runner. Start off with a warm up of 1 minute of walking and 9 minutes at your easy pace at 0.5 incline. You should be able to talk easily. Then, run the following ladder:

Newbie:

  • 5 minutes at tempo pace (this is a hard, yet sustainable pace)
  • 4 minutes at 2 mph faster
  • 3 minutes at 2 mph faster
  • 2 minutes at 1 mph faster 
  • 1 minute at 1 mph faster

Advanced

  • 5 minutes at 1200 pace
  • 4 minutes at 800 pace
  • 3 minutes at 600 pace
  • 2 minutes at 400 pace
  • 1 minute at fastest pace

Recover for 2 minutes between each set. Cool down with at least 5 minutes of easy pace running. Stretch and get back to watching the snow fall. Here's a handy guide to treadmill pace conversion. Remember, to run with at least 0.5% incline to simulate outside running. Make a fun playlist and crank it out. Snow days make you stronger. 

The One Move Runners Need

by Meghan Reynolds

Ok, you might need more but this one move is great because it works so many muscles - your hips, glutes, hamstrings and core, with the added bonus of working your chest muscles. I like this move because it works multiple areas and is efficient.

Super Bridge Press

Begin laying on your back with a pair of 5-8 lb dumbbells in hands. Put both feet on a Bosu ball (or, use sofa cushions or stair step) and get in a bridge position. Keep your knees at 90 degrees, glutes engaged and shoulders on the ground. Lift your right leg straight up in the air as you perform a chest press. Keep you right leg straight up as you simultaneously do a bridge lift and a chest press (lift hips and straighten arms together, then lower). Repeat for 20 reps and switch sides.

Start Position

Start Position

Lift your hips and arms together

Lift your hips and arms together

I've been doing this move for the past week - 2 sets of 20 reps every other day and my hips and hamstrings are not as achy when I run. Do these first thing in the morning. I'll be sharing new moves every week - follow us on social media to see our recommended strength moves for runners.

I ran a marathon. Now what?

The fall marathon season is almost over and many of you are probably wondering, what do I do now? You dedicate so much time and energy into that one day and when it's over, it's hard to not feel as if something is missing from your schedule. We've been there too. We've felt restless, lazy and directionless. I know, it sounds dramatic, but recognizing how you feel will help you recover. It's essential that you give yourself and your body adequate time to recover after a marathon. One easy rule of thumb is one day of rest for every mile you ran, so 26 days rest days. This doesn't mean you don't do anything, it means that you give yourself a break from any intense workouts for 26 days (think speed work or races).

We break it down into 4 weeks. The first week, no running. This doesn't mean become a couch potato. Instead, exercise but keep the intensity at an easy level. We enjoy yoga, walking, a bike ride, an easy spin class and active recovery classes.  The second week, do a 3-4 mile run on the weekend and continue with yoga, Pilates or a moderately intense spin class during the week. The third week, add in some running, but keep it to a conversational pace. Run 4-6 miles on the weekend. The fourth week, run 2-3xat a conversational pace and then add in some intensity during the weekend run. If you feel good during that run, you are recovered and can start planning your next race. If your heart rate is high and you are out of breath, take a few more days.  Recovery is a vital part of training and, if done correctly, will help you come back as stronger or stronger than your previous performance.

Tapering

by Meghan Reynolds

Some people love tapering; some people hate it. I personally love tapering. It usually comes right when I feel that my body just can't do another long run. I relish the shorter, faster runs, the ability to sleep a bit longer, not rushing to the track or out the door to get my run in. Tapering helps me focus on the race and allows my body to get ready for race day. The New York City Marathon is about 1.5 weeks away and we wanted to remind everyone to taper and why we do it.

The reason we taper before competitions is to maximize our potential on race day. This is not a rest or recovery period. Instead, these 2-3 weeks are when you reduce miles while maintaining intensity. If you are tapering for a marathon, plan to run about 30% less from your peak mileage 3 weeks out and about 50% less 2 weeks out from the race. While the miles decrease, your intensity doesn't. We recommend you run several runs at race pace and at tempo during the taper (especially, if you are going for a PR) . Don't slack on these runs or skip them, they are what will get you to the finish line in your goal time.

Use your long runs as race pace practice and wear the clothing you plan to wear during the race. We recommend running 13-15 miles 2 weeks out and 8 miles the weekend before a marathon (for a half marathon, run about 9-11 miles 2 weeks out and 6 miles the weekend before the race). During each of these runs, aim to run 4-8 miles at race pace. During the week (3 and 2 weeks out), run 15-20 minutes at tempo pace (only 1 time per week). These runs get your body use to that pace and will help you mentally as your body fatigues later on in the marathon.

Taper time can be hard for many athletes because we are so used to filling up our time with running and marathon training. This is a good time to refocus on sleep and eating well, or watch that DVD series you've been meaning to start or read a book you've had on your list. Keep yourself occupied and enjoy the extra time. Don't fret about the miles or what other people are doing. Avoid looking up blogs or articles about training or taper time as well. You don't want to freak yourself out! We recommend unplugging a bit the week before your race; go to bed early, shut the TV off, turn the computer off and leave the phone in the other room. Allow your body and mind to rest.

In the end, it's about trusting your training and staying positive. Believe you will do great and you will have a great race.

Easy Stretching Routines

We all know stretching is important and makes our muscles and bodies feel so much better after a run or a workout. We don't always do it though, right?  Many of us, instructors included, do not stretch properly before and after workouts. We created this simple stretching routine for the busy no-nonsense runner.

There are two types of stretches - dynamic and static. We recommend you do both on a regular basis. Dynamic stretching is best performed at the beginning of a workout (intervals, hills, track) because it preps your muscles for power, which you need for a run. Static stretching is best for post workout because it allows your muscles to lengthen and rest.

Pre workout: Run about 1 mile and then perform a few dynamic exercises: high knees, butt kicks, slide and glides, karaoke and leg swings. About 20 meters for each exercise.

Post workout: Do the following routine, stretching each muscle group for 15-30 seconds each.

  • Abdomen/Chest: Interlace your fingers behind your back and move your hands down and away from you to stretch the front of the body.
  • Shoulders/Arms: Bend your elbow behind your head and gently pull the elbow behind you. Repeat, on the other side.
  • Hamstrings: Stand with feet together, bend your knees and slowly bend forward. Relax your neck. Slowly bend one leg and then the other to stretch each hamstring.
  • Hips: Hold onto a railing for balance and cross the left ankle over the right knee. Sit back like you were sitting in a chair to stretch the whole hip area. Repeat on the other side.
  • Quadriceps: Hold onto a railing for balance. Bend your left leg so your heel moves towards your glute. Grab the outside of the left foot with your left hand. Bring your knees into alignment, keeping the knee pointed straight down and back straight. Push your hip forward and bring your foot away from your body for more a quad stretch.
  • Calves: Stand on a step. Drop your left heel off the edge of the step to gently stretch through the calf.

That's it! Nice and easy. No excuse to not stretch after each and every run. Need extra stretching but don't have time? Bring a golf ball to work and 2-3x a day, slip your shoes off, stand up and roll your foot on the ball.

Race Week Tips

With the Portland Marathon this Sunday and many other marathons and half marathons scattered throughout the rest of this month and into November, it's time to get serious about race week prep. Surprise - it's not all about running!
 
Here are a few tips and strategies for your race week and on race day:

  1. Sleep. Go to bed a bit earlier this week. Shut off the computer and the TV and give yourself a few extra hours of rest. The two nights before the half marathon is when quality sleep matters the most. You’ll most likely be too amped up the night before the race to sleep well or for very long anyway.
  2. Rest. If an injury is starting to flare up, take a few extra days off instead of worrying about getting your final runs in. Your primary goal this week is to do everything possible to get your body feeling fresh and ready to run on race day. Your fitness is already established, so any running at this point isn't going to get you in better shape for race day.
  3. The Expo. Race expos are fun and it’s a great way to check out new gear and products. Take advantage of the bargain prices but never, ever wear anything that you bought at the expo on race day. Stick with what you know! The same goes for the food samples, buy some to try after the race but don’t eat anything new on race day. Also, avoid eating too many of the free samples of sports drink and energy foods – you don’t know how they will react with your stomach.
  4. The Day Before. Either walk around for 20-30 minutes or jog for 2 miles. Avoid spending hours at the expo. Get home, put your feet up and rest!
  5. Race Morning. Aim to drink about 16 oz of water the morning of the race (about 2 hours before). This is enough time for the water to pass through your system. Eat your normal pre-long run breakfast about 1 hour before your start time.  You might want to wear an extra layer and some gloves or socks for your hands that you can toss at the beginning of the race (tossed clothes are collected and donated). For extra cold mornings, bring hand warmers for your feet and hands - just don't forget to take them out of your shoes before you start running!
  6. Know Your Race: Familiarize yourself with where the water, refueling and medical aid stations are on the course. This information is usually found under the course description section on the race website.
  7. Run Your Race. Don’t allow your adrenaline to take over at the start. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the start and run faster than planned. At the start and during the first few miles, ignore everyone around you and focus on your pace and your strategy. Let people pass you – stay on your pace. You’ll be passing those people soon enough! It’s better to start 1 minute too slow than 1 minute too fast. One minute too fast will zap your energy and most likely cause you to hit “the wall” earlier in the race.
  8. Post Race. Get warm and get food and water immediately after crossing the finish. Take the mylar blanket and grab food.  (Bananas, energy bars, sports drinks, fruit, and bagels are all good options). Even if you can’t eat immediately, you’ll need to put something into your system with 30 minutes of finishing. If you're checking a bag, then put some post-race food in this so you don't have to rely on the food provided by the race.

And last, but not least, trust your training. You put in the time and the effort and that is what matters come race day. You can’t control the weather, the crowds, the temperature. You can control how you choose to deal with those factors on race day. Believe in yourself and your hard work and dedication will shine through! 

Good luck runners!

When Racing is Fun

It's been a hard year for me when it comes to running. I was injured most of last summer and fall. I spent the winter focusing on rehabbing my leg and doing lots of yoga. Physical Therapy was great and I learned a lot - about my body, why I was breaking down and why I was not getting faster. When I started running again, it was slow and short. I got stronger and faster and thought I could race a half marathon this fall. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Life threw me some obstacles and, of course, right around the time of the race! My July half marathon didn't go as planned and it took a little bit to get out of the funk. I was totally bummed- it was one of my slower half marathons. However, I have found some great running friends here in Seattle and they helped me get out of my funk; I ran Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage and just this past weekend, the Woodinville Destination Races Half Marathon. I did both of these events as fun runs and ended up with fast times and feeling great.

Sometimes you need to shift your focus and make races less about a time or a PR and more about the experience and the joy of running. I was able to wave to people on my half, enjoy the scenery and the post race wine and beer tasting event. I'm now ready to run again and focus on specific workouts and racing. I just needed a little fun in between. So, if you find yourself in a running funk or just can't get faster, take a different approach. You might even surprise yourself with the result!

Woodinville Half
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Planning for Postpartum Running

Jessica & Little Birds

Jessica & Little Birds

Today @ 38 weeks

Today @ 38 weeks

Little Bird onesie!

Little Bird onesie!

Life is about to change yet again for this Hot Bird as I prepare the arrival of our second little bird on or around September 30th! I can’t wait to meet the little one, but I also can’t wait be able to move again.

As anyone who’s been pregnant knows, these final weeks are the most grueling. You are uncomfortable, anxious and ready to reclaim your body. Additionally, like a lot of people will tell you, the second time around has been a little bit tougher on my body. When it comes to exercise, I had to stop pretty much all impact related activity (including running) beginning at the end of June due to what I call an unhappy right hip/pelvis.

Since then I’ve become an “avid” swimmer only to be lapped quite frequently by women more than twice my age.  It’s kept me sane and in shape, but I am literally counting the days until I get to trade in my swim cap for my running shoes and hit the trails again. 

This is a dangerous time though because it’s easy to forget that I will not only be recovering from labor and delivery, but also from 9 months of growing a baby (and an unhappy hip). All that extra weight and the crazy hormones cause changes to your body that don’t bounce back as quickly as the size of your uterus (which shrinks back up to it’s original size, not tone, in around 6-8 weeks postpartum).  As a result, I have to remind myself that although my body will be baby free by the beginning of October, it won’t be until 2016 when I start to feel whole again on the trails. 

So, it’s time to set realistic goals for my postpartum return. I encourage other expecting runners to do the same. As my guideline, I will follow the advice I provided in my Trail Runner article, “Returning to the Trails After Pregnancy.” In this article, I remind expecting mothers and newly postpartum runners that it’s best to hold off from running for at least 6 weeks. During this time you should work on reconnecting with your core and realigning your center of gravity. Stick to low impact activities and rather than intensity, set goals for frequency. Begin to figure out how exercise fits into your new schedule.

Once ready to start running again, it is essential to avoid overdoing it. Believe me, this is hard, but patience pays off. If you want a race to motivate you through your recovery, choose one that gives you ample time to build back up. Since I’m due at the end of September, I’m looking at a mid to late spring half that I can train for and feel strong about without feeling like I’m pressed for time or racing to get to the starting line feeling ready. This worked really well last time.

After the birth of my daughter two years ago, I waited 6 weeks full weeks to run, then enjoyed two months of running without stressing about my mileage, my time or how I felt. During this time I truly soaked up the ability to run and feel good about it before worrying about how fast or long I was running. By springtime, I was feeling strong. Then, in the fall, a year after my first birth, I PR’d the NYC marathon with a 3:16 finish (6 minutes faster than my previous best).  I credit this success to my patience and a slow, safe return to running postpartum. It is in these final weeks of pregnancy and the weeks immediately following my delivery that I will need to remember this!

Easy ways to warm up

For many of us, we roll out of bed to run or bolt out the door after work. In both those scenarios, and probably countless others, our bodies have been in a state of rest or static for a long period of time. Running is a jarring activity, thus, you want to ease your body into your run. A fast walk or slow jog works well. Do that for about 2 minutes or a few blocks and then pick it up.

If you feel like your legs are not turning over or if the run is a faster run, you will want to do a few extra exercises to warm up the body. Here are 2 of our favorites that are easy to implement and do as part of your mileage. Do each exercise 2x for 30 seconds (or 1 full city block).

High Knees

Butt Kicks

For a more complete warm up routine, check out our dynamic stretching for runners. Dynamic stretching is a great way to warm up before running because the movements take the joint and muscles through motions, getting them ready to fire, as opposed to static which is designed to relax muscles. We recommend this before any track or interval workout.


Staying motivated

Training for a marathon isn't an easy endeavor. There are early morning runs to avoid the heat, lots of long weekend runs, speed workouts, cross training, and to add to it, sleeping, eating and your non-running life! It can be hard to balance everything, especially during the summertime when we are taking vacations and enjoying the nice weather and longer days. Losing motivation or finding yourself skipping runs is a natural by product of training. When you find yourself in this predicament, try these 4 tips. They've helped me and Jessica out of a few ruts.

1. Meet a friend, or a group, for a run. Use your easy or recovery days to run with a friend. Use the time to chat and keep yourself honest with your pace (this should be your slower run). Group runs are great because of the different paces; one week the group pace might challenge you and another week, it's might help you hit that slow, easy pace.

2. Pick a destination. Use your running time to reconnect with friends and then continue the conversation over drinks, brunch or coffee. Or, head out by yourself - plot out runs that end at your favorite brunch spot, new coffee shops, or your local wine bar and reward yourself at the end.  Don’t forget your money (we keep our money and IDs in a plastic sandwich bag- it works)!

3. Change of scenery.  Keep things fresh or re-inspire your running by exploring new routes through your city. Hop on a subway, train or drive out to a park or lake you haven't run around.  If you’re traveling, look online for local running spots instead of leaving directly from your hotel. 

4. Accountability. Find a coach, a buddy, or a family member to hold you accountable. Give them your training schedule and ask them to ask you about your runs.  If that's too much, print out your monthly plan and tape it to the mirror in your bathroom or leave it on the fridge so you'll see it everyday.

How Speed Workouts Improve Your Running

With fall marathon season in full swing many runners, both seasoned marathons and newbies, are taking to the track for some faster paced running. Ever wonder if it's worth it? Here are five reasons why interval workouts are for every marathoner:

1. Build Strength
Speed work gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do. As you lengthen your stride to sprint, you engage your glutes, hip flexors, and extensors. This improves range of motion and helps alleviate tightness.

2. Faster Feet
When you run a fast pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. So with enough practice, this quicker cadence becomes more natural, which means you'll need less effort to move faster on any run.

3. Improve Stamina
Speed sessions help maximize your aerobic capacity. When you hit a fast pace, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, that makes your heart stronger, so it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently.

track

4. Run Stronger and Longer
By sustaining a comfortably hard effort, you condition your body to hold a faster pace for longer before lactic acid—the waste produced when the body burns glucose—starts accumulating. That helps stave off the burning sensation that's so often linked with running hard.

5. Make the Joy of Running Last
Even if you don't care about getting fast, you'll enjoy the post track euphoria and the fitness gains that go along with speed work. When you're fitter, you can cover the same miles with less effort and bust through plateaus.