Tip of the Week

Marathon Spectating 101

 by Jessica Green
The 2014 Portland Marathon is this weekend which means one Hot Bird is getting ready to race while the other is setting up her cheer strategy. The other day, a friend asked me, "What can I do for [our friend]" who is running the marathon this weekend? That same day, a client told me about how excited she is for her family to be able to come out and support her on race day.  Both of these comments got me thinking about how to be the best supporter to those who are giving it their all on race day. Here's what I came up with.   

Rule #1. Respect the effort. Acknowledge the upcoming race and how much effort your friend or family member has put in for many months for this one particular day. Runners want/NEED to get excited for their race day and what better way to do than by hearing how excited someone else is for them.  

Rule #2. Show up and cheer your heart out! This is so incredibly valuable to runners. There is nothing like knowing your friend or family is waiting for you at mile 19 to help get you through earlier troublesome miles. Bottom line, your cheering makes a HUGE difference. 


Rule #3. If you said you are going to be cheering, don't you dare flake. There's nothing worse than planning to see someone at a certain point in the race and them not being there because, oops, they didn't realize you were counting on them. 

Rule #4. Communicate ahead of time where you will be. This includes a specific point on the course and a specific side of the course.  Most likely, it's the runner that will find you if it's a crowded race, so they need to know where to look. 

Rule #5. Cheer for everyone. Your runner isn't the only person running that day. Since you're already out there, go ahead and cheer everyone else on. We don't care that we don't know you, we just love to hear you cheer. It gets us fired up!

Rule #6. Flair is fun. The Hot Birds LOVE their signs. For bonus points, make one sign for everyone and for your runner(s). You can always reuse them too. 


Rule #7. Avoid the crowds. Some of the hardest miles in longer races are the ones with the least amount of spectators along the course. These places might be a little bit harder to get to, but it's worth the effort for your runner. The other option is to park yourself somewhere in the second half of the race when your runner might need your support the most. For half marathons, we love mile 10. For marathons, mile 19 or 20 is good.  

Rule #8. Avoid saying "you're almost there" or telling runners how much further they have to go. We know exactly how far we have left and it might not feel like we are almost there even if there's only 1 mile left. Instead, just tell us to crush it or that we're looking good. 

Rule #9. Check for road closures. Make sure your spectating plan isn't spoiled by unforseen road closures. Check the race website the day before for road closure information and plan accordingly. Also, plan to arrive well ahead of your runner, so you don't miss them!

Rule #10. Congratulate your runner. Regardless of the outcome, your runner trained hard, showed up on race day and hopefully crossed the finish line. They want to talk about it. Let them. Congratulate them even if you couldn't attend the race. 

For all you runners out there, don't forget to thank everyone around you for supporting you through your training and on race day. 



2 Great Alternatives to the Track

 by Jessica Green

Whether you have access to a track should not determine whether you are able to complete your track workouts during marathon training.  Certain workouts are designated for the track because a track provides precise, quarter-mile distance markers and a flat surface perfect for uninterrupted running and accurate feedback about your pace and times. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic for a lot of people to get to a track once a week for their track workouts. For some, it’s because a track is not nearby, and, for others, it’s because the thought of running around a track is very unappealing (to the latter, I recommend training in a group at the track - it's much more motivating).

Whoever you are, if you can’t get to a track, try these two alternatives to the track to get the most of out of your designated "track workouts." 

(1) Find a flat pedestrian path or trail with quarter-mile markers.  Most track workouts can be broken down into quarter-mile distances such as 400s, 800s, 1200, 1600s, etc.  Many cities have running paths with distance markers.  With the distances all marked out, all you need is a timer to track your workouts.  If your city doesn’t have a path with distances marked out, don’t be afraid to bring some chalk and make your own during your warm up.

(2) Set up your GPS watch to auto lap at .25 miles rather than 1-mile. This works well when you can’t find any distance markers. Plus, it provides you with your quarter-mile splits during longer speed intervals. This is important because it allows you to monitor whether you are running at a consistent pace or starting out slow and finishing fast or vice versa. 

Post-Pregnancy Lunges

By Jessica Green

Ask any fitness professional for recommended exercises to do post-pregnancy when returning to running and they are most likely going to include Clock Lunges as part of a suggested routine. This is because after pregnancy it's especially important to rebuild hip and pelvis stability.

Clock lunges improve hip stability PLUS ankle and knee stability while moving through all planes of motion. So, while these lunges improve stablity in the hips after pregnancy, they also help develop overall balance, activation and mobility for key running musculature. This is especially important for injury prevention and returning to running with proper strength and trunk support after carrying your baby for 9 months. Whether you gave birth a few months ago or over a year ago, considering adding clock lunges into your strength routine a couple times a week.

1. Imagine you are standing in the center of the face of a clock.
2. Keeping your right foot planted, step forward to “12 o’clock” with your left foot, reaching your arms forward at shoulder height at the same time.
3. Push off the left foot and bring your feet back together.
4. Continue lunging and reaching counter-clockwise around the clock with your left foot. Try to get at least 7 lunges in. Repeat 3 times around with each foot.

* Make sure to warm up with some dynamic stretching for at least a few minutes before doing this exercise. Do not do these exercises until you are cleared by a medical professional to start exercising. 

Fleshman's Awesome Abs Routine

With recovery on our minds this month, I (Jessica) committed to "recovering" my pre-pregnancy abs starting this month. It's been almost 9 months since I gave birth and it's time to feel feel strong through my core again. There are no excuses at this point!

While texting my friend every night about my latest core routine triumph has been helping, I got another boost of motivation from the latest ab routine video by Lauren Fleshman, a kickass professional runner, fellow Oregonian and new mom as well, on Runner's World's website last week.  The video is geared towards runners with a special focus on what recovering runner moms need in terms of core strength post-pregnancy.  As with any post-natal abdominal exercises, check with your doctor first before diving into what Runner's World calls a, "Freaking Awesome Ab Workout." Once you're ready, I highly suggest getting on board the Fleshman Ab Train. 



Strength Move of the Week: Squat to Leg Extension

Do you ever have the feeling that your legs are ahead of your upper body when you are running fast? Or, your legs are rotating around your pelvis as if your inner and outer thighs have nothing to do with your stride? One of the reasons for this is due to a lack of hip stabilty and balanced strength between your front muscles and side muscles in the leg.

If you are runner, you need hip stability and would probably also like inreased leg power to help you pick up the pace. One way to increase both of these is to implement squats with a leg extension into your routine. This move involves a slight twist on the regular squat to help strengthen abductors (outer thighs) and adductors (inner thights) as well as the gluteal muscles to promote hip stabilty. Try it out this week! 

Strength Move of the Week: Calf Raises

As running coaches who promote long term, injury-free running, strength work is always a part of our recommended weekly routine for every runner out there. So, where to start? Start with just one move a week and build from there. Hot Bird Running has you covered with our Strength Move of the Week!

Move of the Week: Calf Raises
Why we love these? Calf raises feel like a miracle move sometimes. They are simple, can be done just about anywhere and help prevent shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, runner's knee, calf strains and more. Plus, they help power you up hills and pick up the pace in training and on race day.

We recommend single leg calf raises for maximum benefit because you are running on one foot at a time after all. To help with balance and proper execution, find a wall, chair or something to help you balance while you do the following:

1) Stand on a flat surface with feet hip width apart. Shift your weight onto the left foot, bending slightly at the knee to prevent locking. Draw the right knee up towards your right hip until the right foot is completely off the ground.

2) With all of your weight on your left leg, slowly lift your left heel off the ground and rise up on the ball of your foot as high as possible.

3) Slowly lower back down until the heel almost touches the ground and then rise back up on your toes again. Count to 3 on the way up and as you lower your heel back down and as you lower, emphasizing balance and control making sure movement is only in the ankles, not the knees or hips. Repeat this 15-20 times on each side.

Here's how it looks:

Strength Workout of the Week: Shin Splint Prevention

It seems like shin splints are in the air the last few weeks.  Perhaps it's because as the weather gets nicer people are ramping up their running.  There are a few, very simple strength exercises you can do to prevent the onset of this nagging injury often caused by overtraining, ramping up your mileage too soon, or an imbalance in strength between the shin and the calf. These exercises include the following (do them every day if you can):

1) Toe/Heel Walking: Walk the length of the room on the toes and then heels with the feet and knees pointed straight ahead of you. Then externally rotate the legs 45 degrees and walk the length of the room on your toes and then heels. Finally, internally rotate your legs 45 degrees and walk the length of the room on your toes and then heels. Walk slowly, emphasizing balance. Make sure knees are tracking the same direction as the toes.

2) Calf Raises: Stand on one foot, with other leg bent and standing knee slight bent to prevent locking. Slowly raise up on the ball of foot as high as possible and slowly return to the floor, emphasizing balance. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side. Use a wall or railing for balance.

3) Toe Taps while Seated: In a sitting position lower and raise the left foot with the heel on the ground as high and as quickly as possible for 60 seconds. Repeat on the right side. Start by doing this on each side once and build up to 2-3 times on each side.

4) Side-to-side Weight Shift on Toes: Stand on toes and ball of the feet, shift weight from the inside of the feet, near the big toe, to the outside of the feet, near the small toe. Rock from the inside to the outside of the feet slowly and under control, emphasizing balance (that is one repetition). Repeat for 2 sets of 20 repetitions.

If you are prone to shin splints, warm up with 5 minutes of walking and then do this routine before every run - it WILL make a difference. 

 * If you are currently suffering from shin splints, stop running for a few days to a week, ice the front of your shins and avoid hills once you return to running (pain free). Do not try to run through shin splints. This will only make them worse.  

Strength Move of the Week - Toe Touches

As running coaches who promote long term, injury-free running, strength work is always a part of our recommended weekly routine for every runner out there. Incorporating strength doesn't come naturally to a lot of runners and often feels overwhelming. So, where to start? Start with just one move a week and build from there. Hot Bird Running has you covered with our Strength Move of the Week!

Move of the Week: Toe Touches
Why we love these? Toe touches strengthen the upper abdominal muscles which promotes proper posture while running. More specifically, strong upper adominal muscles enable you to maintain a tall, erect posture while running - keeping your head and shoulders in alignment with your hips rather than slumping over as you fatigue. Slumping over restricts your breathing. So, proper posture means better running economy which means faster running.

As you do these toe touches use your core rather than your arms to pull your upper body up towards your toes. Also, try to keep your shoulders from touching the ground on your way back to the start position so your abdominals remain engaged the entire time. Continue for 30 seconds working up to one minute. Repeat 2-3 times. 

Move of the Week - Bicycle Crunches

As running coaches who promote long term, injury-free running, strength work is always a part of our recommended weekly routine for every runner out there. Incorporating strength doesn't come naturally to a lot of runners and often feels overwhelming. So, where to start? Start with just one move a week and build from there. Hot Bird Running has you covered with our Strength Move of the Week!

Move of the Week: Bicycle Crunches
Why we love these? Get back to the basics - nothing fancy - with bicycle crunches. This simple move stengthens the oblique muscles necessary in maintaining a stable upright position during your runs. As you do these make sure your lower back stays pressed to the ground.  Start out slowly going through a bicycle pedal motion altnerately touching your elbows to the opposite knee as you twist back and forth.  Concentrate on control, not speed.  Perform for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.  


Strength Move of the Week - Single Leg Deadlifts

As running coaches who promote long term, injury-free running, strength work is always a part of our recommended weekly routine for every runner out there. Incorporating strength doesn't come naturally to a lot of runners and often feels overwhelming. So, where to start? Start with just one move a week and build from there. Hot Bird Running has you covered with our strength move of the week!

Move of the Week: Single Leg Deadlifts
Why we love these? This movement strengthens your hips, engages your hamstrings and gets the glutes firing - all of which are needed for stabilizing the body while running. Plus, balancing on one leg reduces the strength imbalance between your left and right sides. Bonus - this also feels like a great stretch at the end of your runs.


Repeat 8-15 times on one side. Switch legs and repeat.  

Tip of the Week: Make the Road Your Track

Speed training (or interval training) is high-intensity training sessions that improve your running efficiency and will help shave minutes off your race times. There are so many benefits to speed training. And you don't need a track to do speed training. Simply pick minute intervals or mark off .25 miles or .5 miles on a road or sidewalk. Some of our favorite workouts are: 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min (with same recovery time), 8x400 meters (.25 mile) and 5x800 meters (.5 mile). Make any road your track!

How do speed workouts improve your running?

 1. Build Strength - Speed work gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do.

2. Faster Feet - When you run at a fast pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. 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.

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.

Tip of the Week - the Park is the New Gym

Today's tip is a reminder to get out, explore and use what's around you to strengthen, lengthen and workout! Explore a new park and use the benches as your gym. You can do tricep dips, pushups, stretches and core work on a bench. Use the jungle gym for pullups and agility moves. Or, just get down on the grass for pushups, core work and stretching.

And a bench is a great tool for people who are new to strength exercises or if you are pregnant - less strain and more ability to find alignment.


Tip of the Week: Buying Pregnancy Running Clothes

By Jessica Green

Suiting up for a run when you're pregnant isn't always the easiest accomplishment. Sometimes it feels like it's the hardest part of the run - tight, uncomfortable, ill-fitting, too short. After a couple of months of trying to squeeze into my running tights and tuck my tops in to cover the belly, I decided it was time for a little maternity shopping. By this, I mean figuring out which styles worked the best for pregnant Jessica's body (not regular Jessica's body) and then buying myself a few new outfits with everything a size larger than I usually wear.  

Now, 31 weeks pregnant, I am enjoying every second of my new size and discovery of what "maternity workout gear" really means. I found it to mean something a little different than regular maternity clothes shopping since I didn't actually buy "maternity" workout clothes.

For those of you out there who are running while pregnant, here are my top running clothes tips, which come directly from a seven and half month pregnant running coach who basically lives in her running gear - belly or no belly:

1. Don't sweat it when it stops fitting - buy up a size in everything
No women enjoys buying up a size, but running clothes are already tight to begin with and in all the areas that seem to expand when you get pregnant. So, give yourself a break and once the belly (and surrounding areas) begins to expand beyond your comfort or vanity limits, embrace the excuse to freshen up your running wardrobe instead of dwelling on the new size. For me, this included a sports bra, crops, shorts and two tops - they don't look so new anymore!

2. Invest in a more stable running shoe
As you pack on the pounds, you need more support. I have several different pairs of shoes, some of them lightweight, minimalist shoes or racing shoes. After running in the less stable shoes 4-5 months pregnant (10+ lbs heavier) I started to notice my feet getting sore in ways they never had before. I quickly packed these shoes away with the rest of my clothes that won't reappear in my closet again until post-pregnancy this fall and purchased a shoe with some stability to support my feet as my body weight continues to increase. 

3. Longer, dark colored running tops
Since you're buying tops midway through your pregnancy, you need to leave room for belly expansion without sacrificing fit during mid-pregnancy. The solution? Longer, fitted, exapandable tops that can grow with your belly, not hide it or rise above it.  I also recommend darker colors because you might be wearing these items a few times in a row before washing because you might not have too many - unless you want to buy a ton of them.  My go to piece has been lululemon's cool racerback tank top this spring and summer.

4. Low rise running tights
No baby belly feels good with the top of running tights/crops cutting into the midsection. Instead, opt for lower rise crops and shorts.  I LOVE my lululemon inspire crops that I can easily fold over the top to sit just under the belly.  Higher rise crops are in the drawer until the fall.  

5. Invest in an anti-chafe stick: As the chest expands, sports bras rub differently and I started to chafe like I was running a marathon, not a 5-mile jog.  

*** Bonus: Choose routes with lots of access to bathrooms or wooded areas because there's no escaping the constant pounding on your bladder - accept it, pee and run on.  I do find it helps to avoid any liquid intake at least 1 hour before a run.  



Base Training: Head for the Hills

Base training is a time to reconnect with your friends, the hills! If a hilly run or a few hill repeats here and there aren't a part of your weekly routine, starting making them.

Incorporating hills into your workouts builds leg strength, increases your endurance and stamina, improves your running form, and reduces risk of injury once race training begins. Not to mention, most race courses have at least one or two hills in them!

Hot Bird's Tips for Leading a Healthy Life

To celebrate Women's National Health Week, Jessica, Caitlin and I (Meghan) put together our top tips for leading a healthy life. Being healthy isn't just about eating well and getting exercise; it's about mental health - taking time for yourself, doing what you love and showing love.

The Hot Bird's Top 15 Tips to Leading a Helathy Life.

1. Balance! Listen to your body and give yourself rest days and treats. 
2. Eat breakfast.
3. Challenge yourself - find a new race, a new sport, do something you've never done before - you will surprise yourself. 
4. Surround yourself with people who inspire and push you to be better; get rid of any sources of negativity.
5. Spend your free time doing what you love - hanging out with friends, a massage, the beach and a book.
6. Floss your teeth every morning and night.
7. Make time for the ones you love.
8. Exercise OUTSIDE at least once a week.
9. Always see the glass half full.
10. Don’t be afraid to live outside your comfort zone – that’s where life happens!
11. Get sleep - aim for 8 hrs a night.
12. Unplug one day a week - leave your phone at home and go outside.
13. Buy a blender and start making smoothies (game changer!)
14. Find a running or fitness buddy.
15. Wear sunscreen/sunblock.
Like our posts? Pin them on Pinterest! We'll be creating images for the rest of our tips over the next few weeks.

Base Training - Muscle Stability

A major part of staying injury free and hitting your target or goal race times is muscle stability. Your muscles need to work together, harmoniously, to properly turn over and keep you going for 20+ miles. Thus, you need strong, stable muscles and not just in your legs. We are talking core and upper body as well. A strong core will help you pick up your knees, which translates into faster times (think turnover, how many times your feet hit the ground) and a strong upper body will help keep you upright and keep those arms pumping.

Below we highlight a few exercises that we recommend to stabilize your muscles and prepare for more strength work and longer miles.  Do 30-60 seconds of each exercise, 2x. Click on each exercise to see a brief video and explanation.

  1. Bridge with Single Leg Raise
  2. Plank - Side Plank Series
  3. Opposite Arm/Leg Extension
  4. Single Leg Deadlift
  5. Single Leg Calf Raise
  6. Squat to Leg Extension
  7. Donkey Kicks
  8. Glute Press Up

Base Training 101 - Prepare for Race Season

Marathon Season is approaching fast! What are you doing now so you’re ready to hit the ground running (literally) once race training formally begins? The answer - invest in a solid base training program.

What is base training? Base training involves a healthy combination of strength workouts, longer distance runs, stamina building tempo and interval runs and hill work during the weeks leading up to formal race training. During this time, you work on strengthening and balancing major running muscles, safely re-introducing intervals and hill workouts at medium intensity and improving your stamina with weekly runs at a harder, sustained effort.

Why do I need it? The goal of base training is to develop your muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance to enter race training with a proper foundation. This way you can jump into higher intensity workouts without risk of injury, and effectively execute each workout to reap the most benefits.

When to implement? Six to nine weeks before race specific training begins. We recommend a solid nine weeks for maximum strength and endurance adaptations.

Who is it for? Anyone who can comfortably run at least three times per week for a total of 10-15 miles a week and is beginning a formal race training program in the upcoming months.

The month of May at Hot Bird Running is all about base training. Whether you’re coming off a spring half marathon and ready to get back into running or you’re in the final count down before your marathon training starts this summer, base training is for you. Maintain a year round, balanced approach to running with a proper base training plan. Stay tuned all month for our base training tips - get the base before the race.

Training tip of the week

Many of us have our running routes and that's what we stick with - over and over, week after week. Changing up your running route offers many incentives: a different view, a change of pace and importantly, the opportunity to run on a different surface. Switching up the surface you run on will give your body a break and hopefully elongate your running career!

We recommend that runners find different surfaces for their weekly runs as it gives your muscles and joints a break from all the pounding. Concrete (sidewalk) is the hardest surface and thus, most jarring on your joints. Pavement (asphalt) is a bit more giving and the better option over sidewalks if possible. If you have access to a dirt path or a grassy route - jump all over it! Running on earth (dirt, grass, trails) is less stressful and jarring to your joints but it will make your muscles work harder because the surface is uneven. It will strengthen your ankes and give you that extra boost when you return to pavement or concrete. Treadmills are the best option when the weather is bad and you cannot run outside. The smooth surface is easy on the legs.

In conclusion, switching up your running routes, and surfaces, will make your runs easier because there's a different focus, give your legs a break and work your muscles differently. Try out a new surface or route this week!