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. 


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.

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.


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.

Tips for Running with a GPS Watch (or not)

Get the most of tracking your runs with these GPS watch tips:

1. Pace setting: I prefer lap pace over current pace. Current pace bounces around way too much for me. If you have it in lap pace, then it measures your average pace thus far for the current lap (i.e the distance travelled thus far for that lap and your total time in transit for that lap – and calculates your average pace). Calculating the average pace prevents the watch from jumping around when you’re on a slight hill or have a quick speed burst within your lap that might screw you up if you were to look down at your pace at that exact moment.

What is a lap? It’s whatever you set your watch at. For current pace it’s based on one mile. If you want your average mile pace, then keep your lap set to 1 mile.

If you want to reset the pace before your lap is up, just hit lap on your watch and wait a few seconds for it to recalibrate.  Note that it does not adjust immediately. 

Overall, I find that current pace can really mess with your head if you’re trying to stay on pace using your watch.

2. Auto Pause: Turn this off. It's annoying (i think).

3. Auto Lap vs. Manual Lap: Auto lap is great when you are running tempos or long runs or somewhere without mile markers, but when you're on the track or in a race, turn off auto lap. It will mess with your tracking.

In a race, opt for manual lap every time. All you have to do is manually hit lap as you pass each mile marker. This way you know for sure exactly how fast you are running each mile according to the race course not the gps - often they are not exactly the same. If you forget at one mile, then hit lap at the next mile and divide by two for your average pace over the last two miles. 

I actually prefer a good ole timex stopwatch during races or turn off my gps altogether and manually hit lap.  This way I don't have to worry about losing satellite connection or low battery issues and I know I'm tracking myself the same way the race course is tracking me. Manual lap is also good for track workouts because you don't want it to accidentally lap you when you in the middle of an interval and often times your laps are shorter than the auto lap setting.

4. Ditch the GPS altogether.  Do one run a week without tracking your pace. It’s healthy to forget about pacing sometimes.

Jesssica's favorite watch these days is a good old fashioned sportswatch. The best part is you never have to charge it!

How to Taper Effectively


The reason behind tapering before a competition is to be as well rested as possible in order to maximize your 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 race pace runs (especially, if you are going for a PR) and tempo runs during the taper. Don't slack on these runs, they are what will get you to the finish line in your goal time.
Use those last few long, weekend runs as race pace practice. We recommend running 13-15 miles 2 weeks out and 8 miles the weekend before your 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.

Slow Down on your Easy Runs

Stop looking at the watch during your easy runs and start thinking about whether you are running slow enough. An easy run should be conversational and a pace you feel like you could run forever at.  

While reading Matt Fitzergerald's new book, "80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Trainig Slower" to review on Diets and Review's website I was reminded that most of us run our easy runs wayyyyyyyy too fast. During training, when a workout calls for an Easy Run or a Recovery Run embrace the slow, comfortable pace and stop trying to push the pace boundary.  SLOW runs are just as important, if not more, than your speed work.

It might be hard at first to break the habit of pushing it a little more than you should on easy days, but with a little bit of dedication and focus, easier, easy runs might be just what you need to get that spring back in your legs.  





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. 

Long Run Tips

Long runs aren't your typical "head out the door and run" activity.  Unlike shorter distance runs, any run lasting over 90 minutes should include a certain amount of advance planning, taking into consideration things like safety precautions, nutritional and hydration needs, weather conditions and transportation needs. To avoid disaster during a long run, check out our top things you should know before you go.

The primary purpose of your long runs is to build up time on your feet. In other words, build endurance by challenging your body’s ability to run for long periods of time.  Although the most important aspect of these long runs is plain and simple - log the miles, there are a few key considerations to take into account if you want to get the most out of this type of training run:
1) Race Pace Practice: Typically, you want to run 30-90 seconds per mile slower than your goal pace or race effort during your long runs. If you are training for specific time, inserting a few miles at your goal race pace in the middle or end of your long training runs is a great way to mentally and physically prepare yourself for what it actually feels like to run your target pace after an hour or two of running.  A word of caution – don’t be discouraged if race pace feels tough. Additional training, taper and adrenaline will help you on race day. Instead, focus on your ability to hit your target time and maintain it consistently for a few miles.
2) Hydration & Refueling Strategy: Use your long runs to practice your race day hydration plan. Too many people get sidelined with stomach cramps and bathroom issues as a result of too much or too little water on race day. Check out how frequently water is offered during your race and practice drinking at similar intervals during your long runs.  On your long training runs, we recommend drinking 4-6 ounces of water every couple of miles. If running over an hour, your body will want more than water. Include 30-60 grams of carbohydrates (150-250 calories) per hour during any run longer than an hour. This may include sports drinks, gels or energy bar. Feel free to ask us for refueling recommendations.
3) Dress Rehearsal: Use your long runs as dress rehearsals for the real deal by wearing clothes and running accessories that you plan to wear on race day. Longer distances bring out chaffing in new, and often unforeseen places, so it’s best to get familiar ahead of time with what works and what doesn’t. You can also do this for your pre-workout meal prep!

Melting away our running aches and pains

by Meghan Reynolds

No matter how strong I am, how in shape I am or how much yoga I'm doing, I'm sore - A LOT! I sometimes feel like my hamstrings are made of lead. This feeling has been increasing over the past few weeks as my miles have ramped up and I'm doing track workouts. The soreness and pain diminish pretty quickly after running, it rears its ugly head during my runs. This has happened before and through trial and error, I discovered what relieves this soreness and pain (besides total rest): strength exercises and the MELT METHOD.

I still do yoga, foam roll and stretch but the combination of strength and MELT have relieved my body of so much soreness and pain, it's like a miracle. Seriously. Below details what I've been doing and why it helps.

Strength exercises - these exercises specifically target my hamstrings and glutes. I need to build up strength so they don't fatigue as quickly and are less prone to injury.

Bridge Lift and Walk

Single Leg Bridge Lift

Clock Lunges

Glute Press Up

Single Leg Deadlift

MELT Method: I use the actual MELT balls but you can use a tennis ball and golf ball. I do this after every run and in the mornings if my feet feel cranky. The reason MELT is effective for hamstring and glute issues is because the technique addresses dehydration. We have connective tissue all over our body, and in its simplest form, is what holds our muscles and organs in place. When this tissue is dehydrated, it doesn't move as well. When you bring back fluids to the tissues, you feel better and your body moves more easily. Check out this example of a 3 minute foot release from the MELT Method founder. Sometimes I just roll my feet on the large green roller (you can use a frozen water bottle). Do this for a week and I promise, you'll feel the difference.

A New Type of Marathon Goal

by Jessica Green

While Meghan tackles the first few weeks of marathon training for the Portland Marathon on October 5th, I am re-committing to some type of cross training on a regular basis before my training for the NYC marathon on November 2nd kicks into high gear at the end of July.  Although I've been sucessful with some core work almost 5 times a week, it's not quite the same as a full 45-60 minute workout that has nothing to do with running. I'm talking about something like yoga, Pilates, biking or a conditioning class. 

In the past, my best races seem to correlate with periods of time where I am committed to my cross training activities at least once a week. These are also periods where I tend to feel the least tight, the strongest and most comfortable in my body and mind. Over the last month, the warmer temperatures and a busier schedule have taken an toll on my body and my cross training. I feel tight and weak and my running feels heavy. 

The solution, as I tell clients over and over again, is to do something else besides just running. Time to heed my own advice!  There's no way I'm going to make it to the finish line in one piece on November 2nd if I don't clean up my act and find something that will get me cross training regularly. So, this July, my goal is to take an hour-long class 1x/week that doesn't involve any running. This will take precedence over that extra day of running that I usually end up leaning towards.  I challenge those of you in my same position to do the same with the ultimate goal being that the routine continues through all of marathon training. 

Looking for the right type of cross training class or activity? Ask us to help you sift through the options to find the one that's the best fit for you. 


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 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 Workout of the Week: STAIRS!

Improve your leg power and your running form with stair workouts. The best part is that a stair workout can be combined with a run for a cardio and strength combo workout by hitting up a series of stair climbs midway through your run this week. Portland, Oregon has sets of stairs hidden throughout the city (see above), but other places to look for a good set of stairs include your local high school or hilly parks.  

THE WORKOUT: Find a series of stairs that are regular height. After at least a 10-minute warm up, run hard up the stairs and jog slowly back down. You should be breathing hard at the top, but not keeling over. Next time up, skip a stair each stride. Alternate running up single steps and skipping a step for 10-20 minutes. If you want to get fancy, add in hopping up on one foot and then the other to your series.  

*Concentrate on pumping your arms, keeping your head up, picking up your knees, landing lightly and pushing off with your calves as you run up the stairs.  Use your core to stabliize your upper body as you bound upwards.

And remember . . . you OWN those stairs! 

Strength Move of the Week: Pyrolates at Firebrand Sports

Holy cow! Last night I took one of the harder strength classes I have ever been to. It's called Pyrolates at Firebrand Sports in Portland, OR. The name actually explains it all. It felt like my entire body was burning most of the time, but in a controlled, Pilates-like fashion that's safe, effective and insanely hard! Normally, I am not a fan of burn until you die workouts, but this class is an exception. 

Picture from Firebrand Sports' website of its Pyrolates class

Portlanders, if you're looking for a strength class that gets results, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Firebrand's Pyrolates class. Like most Pilates workouts, this class is especially great for runners because it targets hip stabilizers and abdominals in a way that will seriously benefit your running form and running strenght. Not to mention, a glute, hamstring and quad workout that crushed me the second half of class. Legs and core are happy, but very spent.

When you do show up for your first class, don't be shy about modifications - the instructor in my class was amazing at providing them on both ends of the spectrum.  Here's the machine that you use for this class. It reminds me of a reformer on steroids.

A word of caution for any runner: don't plan a hard running workout for the day after one of these classes. You're going to need a recovery run day.  


Strength Move of the Week: Superman

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: Superman
Why we love these? This move strengthens the lower back muscles needed to keep the pelvis stable while running which promotes better running posture and a stronger core. Not to mention a weak lower back can put strain on your hamstrings and alter your stride which increases your risk of injury.

To do a proper Superman, lie on your stomach with your legs straight, feet together and arms straight out in front of you by your ears. Squeeze your legs together and engage your abdominals to lift both arms and legs a few inches off the floor until you feel the lower back flex. Look straight ahead at your fingers. Hold for 3 seconds. Lower and repeat 20 times or for 60 seconds. If you are new to this exercise, begin with the modified version - alternatel lifting one arm and the opposite leg at the same time. After a couple of weeks switch to both arms and legs at the same time. 

Strength Move of the Week: Bridges

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: Bridge Lifts and Bridge Walk
Why we love these? Bridges strengthen the glutes and stabilize the core which reduces the risk of injury to the hips and knees. Feel this exercise primarily in the glutes and abdominals, not the lower back. If you are new to bridges, start with bridge lifts for the first week and then add in bridge walks. Otherwise, do both of these - one after the other. No matter what, make these are part of regular weekly routine! 

To get into proper bridge position lie on your back with your hands at your sides and bend your knees to bring your feet flat on the ground about hands length away from your butt. Raise your hips by firing your glutes (squeezing your butt cheeks) and using your hamstrings and glutes to drive your heels into the ground. Lift up until you create a straight line from your hips to the knees without arching your lower back. Keep your abdominals contracted the entire time and avoid rocking your hips from side to side during the lifts or walks. 

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 - Walkouts

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: Walkouts
Why we love these? Walkouts stengthen hamstrings, shoulders, abdominals, lower back and promote hip stablity in runners. Strong shoulders, core and stable hips are all things every runner needs to ward off injury and improve speed! As you do these focus on keeping your hips stable and using your core to push yourself back to the start position - NO rocking back and forth! If you have trouble get back to standing without rocking, don't go down and far. Also, if you can't touch the ground without bending your knees, then bend your knees at the beginning to get your hands to the ground and then straighten them as you walk your hands out.