12 Running Mistakes People Need to Watch Out For and Why

 1. Wearing the wrong shoes or not changing running shoes every 300 miles

If you run in worn shoes, you have a higher chance of injury. Shoes help to provide support and cushion to help absorb the impact on your bones, ligaments and muscles – and worn worn out shoes won’t do their job.


2. Not fueling before a run

Think of it like fuel in your car – no fuel and your car won’t go. The same goes for your body – no fuel and you won’t be able to run. Always fuel your body before you run or workout.  You will reap the rewards and be able to run faster and stronger if well fueled.


3. Not fueling during a long (1 hour or more) run

Most don’t know how to fuel for the long runs or what to fuel with.  My opinion is that you basically need carbohydrates to keep your body going, some salt/electrolytes to help stay hydrated and water.  You can choose to get all three in a beverage like Gatorade or I prefer to use Huma Chia Energy Gels for the carbohydrates and Nuun tabs in my water to help with hydration.  If you don’t fuel every 30-45 min. you will “hit the wall” and run out of energy to keep going.


4. Stretching before you run while muscles are cold

If you stretch a cold muscle, you could end up with a muscle pull.  If you feel you must stretch before you run, then warm up for 10 min. (e.g., jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks) then stretch. It is best to stretch after a run and not during a run.


5. Not practicing your course before your first race

If you don’t live near the course, then go ahead and look at the elevation chart and practice in your area as close to it as possible.  For instance, if your race course is mainly downhill, make sure you are practicing downhill in your area.  If the race course is flat or very hilly, try and find the flat or hilly areas to practice on.  You will be better prepared race day and have a more successful finish.


6. Running and only landing on your heel or on your balls of your feet

When landing on your heels, it is as if you are putting the brakes on as you pound your heel into the ground.  When landing on your balls of your feet, you are putting a lot of strain on your calf muscles and they will fatigue quickly.  Try and land on the mid foot, the middle of your foot, with your body centered over your foot so the foot isn’t out in from of you.  Also try to lean forward so you use the forward lean to propel you forward. (Chi Running)


7.  Start out running way too fast

Try starting out with a slow jog or fast walk, slowly settle into a pace that is comfortable for you to maintain and still be able to talk: conversation pace.  This is the pace you should maintain during your long endurance training runs.  If you can’t run and talk, then slow down. Find the pace you can maintain comfortable and you shouldn’t need to stop and walk.


8. Not practicing the negative split

If you start out too fast, you waste all your energy at the beginning of the race and have nothing left to give at the end.  But if you conserve your energy, you can really push it and finish strong.  Begin your race at a slower than average race pace, speed up after about 5 miles to your race pace then finish at faster than race pace.


9. Not wearing the right clothing;  your old PE shoes, sweatpants and cotton shirt

You want to be comfortable and not wet and weighted down by your clothes.  Choose wicking clothing (performance wear) that wicks the sweat away and keep your dry and comfortable.


10. Over-training and never taking a day off to rest and recover

You will meet other runners that are on a “running streak,” meaning they have run every day for the past year, but this is the worst thing you can do for yourself.  Your body needs time to rest and recover and build those muscles.  If you over-train, you will end up injured. Take plenty of time in-between your racing, especially if you are running a marathon. Your body needs time to recover and your mind needs time to rest too. Marathon training is just as mental as physical.


11. Don't take time to recover the right way

Don’t overdo the ibuprofen, acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs.  They can be hard on your liver and I don’t recommend taking them while running.  Try a homeopathic medicine, like Traumeel ointment and tablets.  Traumeel is used for temporary relief of minor back, joint and muscle pain.  I prefer to use this ointment on my sore muscles after a long run – I just massage it into the muscles.


12. Lack of nutrition

If you don’t fuel right before, during and after your run or workout you won’t get the results you want.  Before the run you need carbohydrates and protein, plus some water.  During, you need to replenish the carbohydrates and keep the hydration going, and post workout you need to refuel within one hour so you can recover quickly and pain free.  Post run you need a meal that is 3:1 carbohydrate to protein so you can replace those carbohydrates you just burned. Post resistance training, you want a meal that is 3:1 protein to carbohydrate so you can start repairing those muscles with protein.

TRAINER TIP:  Don't be a Cardio Queen!

If you want to see your body change, then grab a set of dumbbells!  Can't afford dumbbells, then get a band or tube.

Resistance training works your muscles so you grow your muscles adding strength to your body and your bones.  Stronger muscles means leaner body, less fat, your body will tone up in as little as 6 weeks, and you will be burning more calories all day long!

Stronger muscles allow you to suffer less from back strain, helps you to become a more efficient runner (meaning you don't have to work as hard to go faster and further) and it gives your body a nice toned appearance.

Remember to lift weights slowly, concentrating on the actual muscle you are working.  If you are doing biceps curls, think about the biceps as your curl the weights in, then hold that position and slowly release the muscle back down.  This way you are working the muscle in all three movements: Concentric, isometric, and eccentric.

Don't know where to begin?  Try 5 lbs. and 8 lbs. or a low to medium resistance band.   Use the smaller weights for your smaller muscles (triceps) and the larger weights for larger muscles (lats, biceps).

Last note, fuel your workouts before and after.  If you don't eat before your workout, its like driving your car without gas.  You just can't go very far on empty.  A good meal before with carbs and protein will help you have fuel to burn so you can get in a good workout and push yourself.  If you are working out with weights you want to have protein after the workout (within 1 hour) to feed those muscles you worked and help them heal/repair by building new muscles.  After cardio you want to replace the fuel you burned with carbs.

Happy Training!

In preparation for Boston,

I decided to visit the Metabolic Treatment Center to have some metabolic testing done and to speak with a specialist on diet and training.

Marathon running is extremely taxing on the body and its systems. I learned that I am fueling correctly both before and after my training runs and that I was getting enough fluids. I was a little low on protein during my mid meal snacks due to my busy schedule with clients. Since then, I have added hard boiled eggs, nuts, string cheese, or yogurt with fruit to my daily snacks.

We also discussed my training schedule. She was concerned that I was running way too much, since most marathon runners do. I try to limit my running to 3-4 days per week with some cross training and 1 day of rest. I was relieved to find out I was doing everything right!

She checked my resting metabolic rate and determined how many calories a day I need to maintain my current weight. I received my body fat percentage and learned it is perfect as is and if I lose any weight, it will not be fat loss but muscle loss since I am already at a low body fat level for my size. This was good news for me to hear because I tend to have a poor self image and always see cellulite and tummy bulge that I think I need to lose....but I don't. Its a learning process and I now know that in order to be healthy and train my body well for the marathon, I need to maintain my current weight and fuel my body right. Otherwise I will be losing precious muscle.

It was an eye opening experience and well worth the money.
I have already slowly started back to training and I am surprised at how fast I have lost some of my endurance....in just a few months since my last race!

Back to the training ground I go with my Speed Drills, Hill Runs, Endurance Runs, Cross Training, Rest and Recovery, and a new found respect for the amazing body the LORD gave me. What a blessing it is to be able to run!

TRAINER TIP: Stretching

There is a lot of controversy out there regarding stretching. Should you stretch before should you stretch after?  After much research and training, I believe stretching is important after your workout not before

It's important that your muscles are warm when you stretch otherwise you could end up pulling them.  If you prefer to stretch before you run, warm-up before the stretch with some  jumping jacks, high knee running, and butt kicks.

Stretching helps to lengthen your muscles and brings blood flow to the muscle to help it recover and repair.

Stuck in a Rut?

Have you been doing the same workouts each week, eating the same meals each day, and not seeing any progress?  Time to mix it up!

If you always do the same workout each week, your body has adjusted to the load and it is no longer challenging you, you have reached a plateau.  Try adding a couple pounds of heaver weights, or switching to dumbbells instead of machines.  Try a new class at the gym, Yoga or Pilates.  Pick up a jump rope or google some new Planks to try.  Get out your bike or swim a few laps.

IF you do the same training run each week, time to change it up or change your running route.  Try some new drills.  Challenge yourself by registering for your first race!  Or if you have tackled a 5K try for a 10K, 15K or even a half marathon.  Races are goals with a finish line!

Still eating oatmeal and eggs every morning?  That gets really old....fast!  Try some new grains like Teff, Quinoa, Amaranth, Bulgar, Brown Rice.  Cook your eggs different ways: poached, fried, boiled, over easy, scrambled with veggies.  If you eat the same foods everyday, you are missing out on valuable nutrients your body needs.  Try and eat season fruits and veggies so you are constantly changing it up, not just the usual bananas and apples.

Just remember how far you have come.  You have made positive changes in your life, for the better!  Change things up to keep yourself motivated.  Applaud your efforts and don't forget to look back at the  old you and see where you started.

After a break you need to come back slowly!

You can't pick up where you left off, training wise.  After being sick for a week with no running or working out of any kind, you are excited to finally get back to training but you must not over due!  We tend to jump right back into our training plan where we left off and over due, sending us into a set back.  Start back slowly until you feel strong enough to increase in training.  Remember to listen to your body and don't push it until you are back to 100%!

Don't run your long endurance runs at race pace.

The endurance runs are just that, training your endurance.  If you try and run every long run (endurance run) at race pace, its like running a race every week which requires extra time to recover.  You should be running your endurance runs at about 20-30 seconds slower than race pace.

Don't forget to pack your fuel and practice your hydration packs during your long runs.  Your body needs fuel about every 45 minutes during endurance runs or anything over 1 hour.  This is the time to practice for your race and see what fuel works best.  I prefer Huma Chia Energy Gels.

Good luck and train smart!

TRAINER TIP: When using dumbbells, remember its not a race to get in as many reps as fast as possible.

Concentrate on the muscle you are working and take three seconds to lift, pause for one second at the top, then take two second to lower back to the start.  Remember your breathing and exhale on the lift and inhale on the release.

Did you know that to be a better runner you need to cross train?

Biking, swimming and rowing are excellent non-impact aerobic workouts.

Resistance training helps to strengthen your body so you can be a stronger and more efficient runner.  Try walking lunges, wall sits, planks, bridges, and squats.

Keep your upper body strong with dumbbells or resistance bands.  You don't need a gym membership, you can train at home with a few pieces of equipment.

Plyometrics, or jumping exercises, are great to strengthen your feet & ankles, and you get a great cardio workout too.  Try jump rope, trampoline, speed ladder drills.

Fuel your workout

Make sure you are eating before you exercise.  Studies have shown that you actually workout harder and longer if you fueled before.   Protein, complex carbs and healthy fats are a must!   Think of your body like your car, it won't run without gas, and neither will you!

Eat smart, do your body right and your body will reap the rewards!

Post workout you need to recover with a healthy snack.  Within at least 1 hour, consume a serving of protein to feed and repair your muscles.  This will also help reduce pain the following day.  Eat some carbs to replenish those you just burned and don't forget the healthy fats!

Be smart about your fitness and don't neglect your nutrition.  80% of the way you look is what you eat, 10% is exercise and 10% is hereditary.

Practice Your Course

When training for a road race, you need to practice on the road. Don't do all your training on the treadmill. You have to get out there and experience the pavement, the changes in level ground and elevation. Often we train on the same route or track, but in the event you may have to go up and down curbs, around corners, over dirt paths, concrete and asphalt. This can all effect your running form and if you haven't practiced on it, may cause your shoe to rub a different way and lead to blisters.

When road running, trail running, or the like you are using your core more, trying to maintain balance while your land on uneven ground. Training on a treadmill is always the same softer, easy landing. Also, a treadmill pulls your leg back when you land and when you run on ground you have to propel yourself forward, not relying on the treadmill to pull your leg back for you. You need to be able to push yourself forward and not try to keep up with the pace of the treadmill.

If you will be running a hilly course, make sure you practice on some hills. If its mainly flat, get used to running at the same pace and exertion over an extended period of time. The nice thing about a hill, it gives your body to chance to switch it up and use your muscles in a different way while you climb the hill, then you get a little rest as you coast down the hill.

A few tips before you run your first race!

Practice during your long rung, simulate the race as much as possible.

Wear the outfit you plan on racing in so you can see if it causes chafing. Don't wear the race shirt you get at the Expo unless you know the fit and know it won't bother you.

Try out your new shoes and socks, believe it or not, socks can make a HUGE difference!

Wear a hat, scarf, visor? give them a try! You need to know if it fits too loose or tight. Don't buy anything new at the Expo and expect it perform the way you want it to.

Use a fuel belt or hydration pack?? better use it on your long run to make sure you like it. The marathon is not a place to try out a new one, especially a fuel belt! It could rub and cause chafing or worse, blisters on your back!

If running a marathon or anything longer than an hour, YOU MUST FUEL every 45 minutes, I prefer Huma Chia Energy Gels. You need to know which ones work for you and which ones cause tummy trouble. Don't forget to practice running and eating   since you will not want to stop during your race! Chase your Gels with water too!

Don't forget your keys! If you have to drive yourself to the race, are you going to run with your keys? better practice running with them if you are!

Sunscreen, chapstick, etc. Try out new products before the race to make sure you aren't sensitive to them.

Make sure your Garmin is charged the night before a race!

Fuel with extra carbs 48 hours before the race. It isn't necessary to carb load the night before. In fact you don't want to run a race with a belly full of pasta from the night before. Practice eating different meals before your long run and see which ones sit right with you. Don't go out for a special dinner and try something new!

Hydrate well the entire week before the race, but especially the 24 hours before. Make sure you get all your water in!

Get at least 8 hours sleep the week before the marathon. You want to make sure you are giving your body time to rest and recover from your hard training. Plus your immune system is low due to all the endurance training, so sleep helps you fight off those pending colds too! Don't worry about the night before the race, you will be luck to get any sleep at all due to excitement!

Remember take time to enjoy the race! Believe it or not, it will be over before you know it and nothing but a memory! Let the experience really sink in and realize what you are accomplishing! Smile and wave at the camera! Give the thumps up to those cheering you on! High Five fellow runners doing great and encourage each other!

Pack your favorite post race meal and eat it as soon as can. It is so important to get some carbs and protein in your body within 1 hour of completing your race. You need to replace the carbs you just depleted and the protein will help heal those overused muscles. Fuel and you will recover faster! I like to drink coconut water to help recover faster its high in potassium and has natural electrolytes. Also Cherry Juice it great to aide in recovery. Lots of water too!

Congratulation on finishing your race and accomplishing your goal! Finish lines are goals with a deadline!

Tips for the Beginner

If you are new to running, and wonder how to start, first get yourself a good pair of running shoes.  Go to a running shoe store and have them assess your foot and find out what is the best type of shoe for your foot.  Make sure your change your shoes about every 300 miles or 3-6 months depending on how much you run.

You don't need to run every day!  Start out with just a couple times a week, then increase that to 3-4 days.  It is also important to strengthen your core (You can find out how to on my website).

Begin with a short, slow jog/walk.  Start out walking  and slowly increase your speed/pace until you are jogging.  Make sure you aren't going too fast.  We tend to want to run as fast as we can and then you can't catch your breath and you have to stop and walk.  It doesn't matter how fast you go, just try to slow it down so you can run slowly at a pace you can maintain.

Work up to 30 minutes.  Then each week try and add 5 minutes to your longest run until you reach an hour. That should put you at or around 6 miles.

If you want to improve your speed, you can start adding in intervals.  Speed up and then slow back down to your normal pace.

If you do too much too fast you will likely end up injured.

Runners Lingo Cheat Sheet:

K = kilometers

5K is 3.1 miles

10K is 6.2 miles

15K is 9.3 miles

50K is 31.07 miles

1/2 marathon is 13.1 miles

Full Marathon is 26.2 miles

Ultramarathon = (also called ultra distance) is any sporting event involving running and walking longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi).

Marathon = A long-distance running race, strictly one of 26 miles and 385 yards (42.195 km).

Please don't confuse the word "race" with "marathon."
Don't say, " I am running my first 5K Marathon on Saturday." Basically you are saying you are running a 5K and full marathon or 29 miles.

PR = Personal Record (your best race finish time)

PB = Personal Best

BQ = Boston Qualifier (the finish time you need to qualify to run the Boston Marathon).

LSD = Long, Slow, Distance running (usually refers to the long training runs on the weekend when you slowly increase distance).

Fartlek = which means "speed play" in Swedish or interval training.

C25K = couch to 5K

Running Tangents = cutting the corners, keep as close as possible to the inside edge of the road on all turns, and as you come out of the turn, assume a straight line route to the inside of the next turn.

Niggle = "Those little aches and pains here and there.  Maybe the back of your knee is sore, because you tweaked it somehow.  Or your hip is sore, because you did squats in the weight room.  Something that carries on for two, three, even four days, that’s okay.  But for something that goes beyond that time frame, or that is causing you to run differently?  That’s not a niggle, that’s an injury.” - Kara Goucher

Core Exercises: 7 reasons to strengthen your core muscles

Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. It pays to get your core muscles — the muscles around your trunk and pelvis — in better shape.

1. Core exercises improve your balance and stability

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.

2. Core exercises don't require specialized equipment

Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support counts as a core exercise. Abdominal crunches are a classic core exercise. Try lying on your back and placing your feet on a wall so that your knees and hips are bent at 90-degree angles. Tighten your abdominal muscles, then raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Classic push-ups count, too. You can also do push-ups on your knees or standing up against a wall.

3. Core exercises can help tone your abs

Want more defined abdominal muscles? Core exercises are important. Although it takes aerobic activity to burn abdominal fat, core exercises can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles.

4. Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities

Strong core muscles make it easier to do everything from swinging a golf club to getting a glass from the top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.

5. You can take it slow

You don't have to dedicate hours a day to core exercises. Instead, concentrate on doing each exercise with correct technique and proper form. Gradually build up to 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. Also remember to take a break when you need one. If you work your core muscles to fatigue during an exercise session, wait at least a day between workouts to give your muscles time to recover.

6. You can do core exercises at home

Remember, you don't have to trek to the gym to do core exercises. Try them on the floor at home while you're watching your favorite shows. You can even do core exercises with a fitness ball. To do abdominal crunches with a fitness ball, for example, sit on the ball with your feet resting on the floor, about hip-width apart. Cross your arms on your chest, tighten your abdominal muscles and lean back until your abdominal muscles kick in. Hold for three deep breaths, then return to the starting position and repeat.

7. Core exercises can help you reach your fitness goals

Aerobic exercise and muscular fitness are the primary elements of most fitness programs — and stretching counts, too. But to have a truly well-rounded fitness program, you should include core exercises in the mix as well. Whether you're a novice taking the first steps toward fitness or a committed fitness fanatic hoping to optimize your results, a well-rounded fitness program is the best way to reach your fitness goals.

References: Mayo Clinic

Fuel and Hydration for endurance athletes

Wondering how to stay hydrated AND fuel during endurance activities, I asked Stephanie from SB Nutrition to share a little more information with us!

"In terms of fueling for an endurance activity (prolonged activity over 60 minutes), you definitely need some form of carbohydrate to replenish depleting glycogen stores (liver, blood stream and muscle). There are some general rules recommending about 30-60 grams carbohydrates per hour. It really depends on fitness level though for actual amount (i.e. more trained athletes have more metabolically efficient muscles and don't need as much as often)."

In my quest to find a more whole food Gel,  I asked Stephanie to compare Hüma Chia Energy Gel with Clif Shot Gels and here is what she discovered,

"Your Huma gels provide 20 grams (same or close to Clif Shot gels) but the source of the carbohydrate is just a mix of fruit sugar (fructose) and cane syrup (maltose, glucose and malitose) vs. more chemically engineered sugars.  Bottom line is they both have a mixture of sugars which promotes good absorption and they will both get to the muscles quickly.  The chia seeds are a resistant type of starch that looks to help promote better blood sugar stability which is certainly a plus. Both gels give you electrolytes. (sodium and potassium)  The gels + water is fine during an endurance event unless you are a very "salty" sweater or the temperatures are really hot. Remember, it is really important to take the gels WITH water for best absorption."

I have also been trying out Nuun Hydration and wanted to know what she thought of those too.

"Nuun provides electrolytes but no carbohydrates so I suggest using it post exercise for hydration (8 ounces for every pound lost while exercising - usually about 16-24 ounces) in addition to a good recovery fuel (3x more carbohydrate than protein - i.e. chocolate milk, bagel with nut butter, etc..)."

Stephanie Bouquet, MS, RD, CSSD, CDE

Are You Trying to Do Too Much?

My body always tells me when I am, I usually end up injured!  Over training is a sure way to wind up injured.

Here are a few tips to keep you from over training:

Don't workout everyday, you need at least one day of rest a week.  Why? Because that is when your body repairs and builds muscles.  If you never rest those muscles, you will never build them and constantly tear them down.

Don't do the same run or workout everyday of the year.  You have to learn to mix it up!  Try a new running trail, get off the treadmill and go outside.  At the gym, take a new class, swim, or try weights instead of machines.

If you are really sore from doing squats, then don't run the following day, try to give your legs a rest to recover and do upper body instead.

There is a fine line between being sore from a previous workout and being sore because of an overuse injure, learn to stop when you feel pain.

Are you eating like an athlete?  You should think of yourself as an athlete and treat your body as such.  Mind over matter!  Think of your food as fuel for those tough workouts and post workouts, recovery fuel is so important!

Post workout 3:1 carbs to protein if you are doing endurance training.  3:1 protein to carbs if you are doing resistance training (weights) and you need to eat within 1 hour of completing the workout.

Recovery Nutrition

I really emphasize hydration first and then food:

The top priority after completing endurance exercise is to replace body fluid. Dehydration can affect performance if more than 2% of body weight is lost during an exercise event. For example, that equates to a three pound loss for someone weighing 150 pounds.

Drinking about 2 cups (16 ounces) of fluid for every pound lost while exercising is a common method for reestablishing hydration status.  Although there are more complicated calculations for determining body hydration levels, a quick and easy method is to check urine color.  The goal is to maintain a lemonade or light yellow color for optimal hydration.  The darker the color of the urine means the greater the likelihood that dehydration is present.

The first 30-45 minutes after exercise is the best opportunity to refuel glycogen muscle stores and repair muscle damage.  Muscles will soak up carbohydrates like a sponge during this time frame.  Foods containing carbohydrates with a moderate amount of protein (about 10-20 grams), such as chocolate milk, instant breakfast drinks or a fruit smoothie, helps muscles repair and reduces post exercise muscle soreness.

You want to make sure that the carbohydrate amount is about 3 times more than the protein amount in whatever you consume (i.e. that is why chocolate milk is touted as the "perfect" recovery drink).  You can use food sources as well: lunch meat or nut butter or egg sandwich; yogurt with granola and fruit - it's just not as easy as something to drink if you are away from home and haven't prepared something in advanced.

For strength training activities, there is a little more emphasis on protein intake and you don't need to follow the 3:1 ratio mentioned above.  It's a big misconception that you need a ton more protein though.

Thanks for the excellent information Stephanie, a dietitian at
SB NutritionCheck out her page for more information and tips on diet and exercise!   She is also a fellow Boston Marathon Runner that I had the opportunity to meet, too. ;)

To All My New Runners Out There,
Catch Your Breath!

When first starting out running, remember to not run too fast.  Your first five minutes should be a warmup anyway.  So start out at a comfortable pace so that you can still carry on a conversation and run.  If you can't talk and run, then you are going too fast, SLOW DOWN!!  Yes I said slow down!  You aren't running a race, you are building endurance and stamina.  After your warmup, you can increase your pace a little but still be able to talk. Your body will settle into the comfortable pace you can easily maintain.  Each time you get out there and run, your body gets stronger and can go longer and faster and you can still catch your breath.  Most novice runners start out way too fast because they think they have to "run" like they did in childhood!

Once you can run for 30 minutes comfortably, you can start to play with your pace.  If you are interested in getting faster, this is a good time to start with some speed work or hill runs.  Now this is the time you are pushing it HARD, and you CANNOT maintain your breathing at a higher pace for very long, only a few seconds at your maximum heart rate.  BUT REMEMBER, do not attempt speed work until you can comfortably run at least 30 minutes.  Otherwise you are progressing way too fast and will likely do too much too fast and end up injured.  Take it slow, less is more in the beginning!

Congratulations on your new found love and best of luck on your journey!

Training: Add Hill Work

Hill work builds a tremendous amount of strength in the lower body and increases lung strength.  Add a hilly run to your workout once a week to increase speed and power.  If you live in an area with no natural hills, head to the closest football stadium and run the stairs for an intense exercise with the same benefits.

Want a Great Core Workout? Grab a Kettlebell.

Kettlebells work the core muscles hard because you’re working your abs all the time with continuous abdominal contraction and coordinated breathing that provides a very high level of conditioning.  You will notice you get a pretty good cardio workout with a kettlebell.

The shape of the kettlebell gives it an odd center of gravity that makes more muscles work and contract to stabilize the weight and work harder to move it explosively.  This shape also makes it better for certain lifts (the overhead press naturally utilizes all the muscles in the shoulder.)

Kettlebells are easy to use, explosive lifts with kettlebells, such as the clean and press, can be learned quickly and easily with very low risk of pulled muscles.  Front squats are easier with kettlebells than with a barbell or dumbells.

You can get a total body workout using a kettlebell.  I suggest starting with 10 lbs for a beginner and working your way up from there.  Really watch your form, you don't want to end up injured and you don't want to throw the kettlebell accidentally!

Running in Heat and Humidity

Be careful out there! Remember, when you run in humidity, your body can't properly cool itself down. When the humidity is high, your sweat cannot evaporate and cool your body down, causing the sweat to stay on your skin and your body heat to stay high. This makes running dangerous.

If your body heats up and gets dehydrated, it goes into survival mode, maintaining blood flow to your essential organs and to your skin to regulate temperature. This will cause less blood to flow to your GI tract, which will make the digestion of sports drinks or gels difficult, making you feel nauseous.  You are also more prone to side stitches when you are overheated, because your breathing becomes shallow and uneven causing a lack of oxygen being delivered to your muscles. And your heart rate will escalate as your heart and lungs work overtime trying to deliver oxygen throughout your body. I often notice my heart rate will be shy high on hot and humid days!

If you continue to run, your brain temp will rise, which makes matters worse: Your ability to assess your own body temp will become difficult. You may experience goosebumps when your are overheating.  You can also start to lose control of body mechanics (your form and footing will get sloppy) and your mental abilities may start to break down causing you to feel dizzy or disoriented.

It is important to know that as humidity increases, thermal strain and premature fatigue increases exponentially, and so running at your normal pace will feel very difficult. It is important to recognize that feeling sluggish on a sticky day doesn't indicate a lack of fitness or a lapse in mental toughness, it's your body's physical response to a stressful environment.

Here are some early warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke:  fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headaches, tingly skin, and confusion. Call it quits if you experience any of them, even if you haven't reached the end of your run or the finish line.

How to run smart when heat and humidity rise:

*Hydrate Well
At least four hours before your run drink 16-20 oz. of water and aim to drink 3-5 oz. every 15 minutes. During a race, I try to remember to drink every time I pass a mile marker. You should also drink whenever you feel like you need it.

If running for longer than an hour, add 3-5 oz. of electrolyte water and carbs every 15 minutes. You all know I prefer Hüma Chia Energy Gel and Nuun Hydration when I am training and racing.

Salt helps your body retain and distribute water,  so shake some on your meals when humidity is high. Eat a few extra salty snacks.

Information adapted from Runners World

Mind Over Miles

When training for a race, you need to train your mind as well as your body. They say, half of running is mental. I can't tell you how many times I will be out running my long slow distance run and think, "I can't get this final mile done!" Then the next time I run it and have to add 1 more mile I feel the same way! Then before you know it, you have added 5 more miles and you still think the same thing. This is when you need to get your mind in the game. You know you can go one more mile and you know you won't quit!

Keep your thoughts positive, use your mantra to keep you going that extra mile. You can do it, you won't give up until you reach your goal, your finish line. Push through those speed drills and tempo runs telling yourself, "This is what all the training is for, this is the work, you can do this!"

Praying really helps me stay focused on others and keeps my mind from wandering into dreaded thoughts. I pray for friends and for myself, I know God is by my side running with me and helping me through. He pushes me up those challenging hills and keeps my thoughts positive.

To help keep my prayers in order, I use Prayer Bands paper bracelets so I can write peoples names in order so I can pray for them each mile of my race. As I am praying for others and lifting up their burdens, I think of all the struggles they are going through in their lives and I think I can carry some of their burdens for them, making that one mile feel like nothing compared to the struggles they face everyday. It really helps to keep you mind on others and in prayer. Of course, I do check in to see how my time is, how my pace is, etc., but mainly I am in prayer.

Are You Running Longer than One Hour?

Make sure you are taking in carbs every 45 minutes after you start running, otherwise you may "hit the wall." You also need to be carrying your water with you so you stay hydrated along the entire run. I try and remember to drink at every mile marker.

Your body needs carbs to keep you going strong and anything longer than an hour requires fuel. For me, I prefer to use Hüma Chia Energy Gel and Nuun Hydration in my Nathan Performance Gear water bottle.  I always chase my gels with electrolyte water to make sure I stay well hydrated.

When you are training for a race that will take you longer than an hour to run, then you should be practicing with fuel to see which works best for you. A lot of people have GI issues and can't tolerate the Gu or Clif Shot Gels, but you need to try them all out to see what works.

A few to try if you suffer with GI issues are:
*Huma Chia energy Gels
To place an order http://tinyurl.com/mxcdmbx
* PocketFuel Naturals
* Island Boost

For hydration try:
Electrolyte enhanced water smartwater
Nuun Hydtation tabs
ZICO Coconut Water

Taper Time!

The final three weeks are the most important in any marathon-training program.

There are as many marathon-training plans as there are marathoners.  So how do you know if you're following a good one? Take a look at the last three weeks.

Every good marathon-training plan should "taper" during those final 21 days. That means you run less and rest more. For some people, the idea of backing off on their training just before the big race seems counter-intuitive. "So many runners train hard right up to the day of the marathon because they're desperately afraid of losing fitness if they don't," says Patti Finke, who coaches 250 marathoners a year as co-director of the Portland (Oregon) Marathon Clinic. "What they don't realize is that in those last few weeks it's the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don't lose fitness in 3 weeks of tapering.  In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn't change at all."

Research reveals a lot more than that. A review of 50 studies on tapering published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones--all depleted by high mileage--return to optimal ranges during a taper. The muscle damage that occurs during sustained training is also repaired. And if that isn't enough, immune function and muscle strength improve, as well, which reduces the odds you'll catch a cold or get injured just before the race. And get this, the average performance improvement by the subjects who tapered in these studies was 3%. That works out to five to 10 minutes in a marathon.

By Bob Cooper for Runners World

Enjoy the Climb

Hills, you either love them or you hate them! It really comes down to how you look at them. Respect the hills, they train your body like nothing else. Some refer to them as speed work in disguise. I love them because I get to use my muscles in a different way, and the pay off is huge:

  • Improved cardio system

  • Improved endurance

  • Low muscle stress

  • Improved running form

  • Improved muscle strength<br>

  • Less strain on ligaments and tendons

  • Improved mental fitness

Learn to crest each hill with confidence and speed. Enjoy the challenge and remember every hill ends. Find a mantra that works to get you up that hill, "you are almost there, stay strong, one foot in front of the other, don't stop till you reach the top." Think of being pulled up the hill by  a rope-tow or t-bar lift as in skiing. Imagine being pushed from behind.  Don't stop until you get to the top, then enjoy the break as you "coast" downhill.

Form is so important! Uphill, lean forward but don't hunch or curl. Take a shorter, faster cadence. Use your arms to help propel you up the hill by keeping elbows in and bringing up arms in front of you. Think of climbing stairs.

Downhill, use those core muscles. Keep those abs tight and land gently on your feet; don't pound down with all your weight. Your bones take the majority of the impact when running down hill. Learn to land softly and use your muscles. Downhill causes greater impact on your hip and knee joints. Don't over-stride and don't windmill your arms.  Take the downhills easy.

When adding hills to your weekly routine, try to count them as a speed drill.  You only want to do one speed drill a week so choose either hills or speed. (fartlek, interval) Tempo runs are fine to do with them in the same week.

Taper Time!

Are you gearing up for your race? Have all your long training runs in the books? Now what?

Time to taper. Why? You need to reduce your workload while maintaining race-specific efforts.

  • Rest muscles and allow for muscle recovery

  • Maximize fuel and enzyme stores

  • Mentally prepare for the event

How much to taper?

  • 5K you need three days

  • 10K you need 3-5 days

  • 1/2 marathon you need 7-10 days

  • Marathon or ultra you need 14-21 days

How to taper for a marathon?

  • Your last long run should be 2-3 weeks before race date.

  • Keep your regular weekly running pattern but reduce the volume. 

  • 60% of average volume two weeks prior to race. 

  • 30% of average volume the week of the race.

  • Don't do hill runs, speed drills, or resistance training with weights the week of the race, you don't want to risk injury.

  • Maintain a healthy diet, high in antioxidants so you don't end up sick.  

  • Avoid processed, sugary foods. 

  • Sleep well, this is when your body does all its muscle repair. 

  • Stay hydrated. 

  • Don't try any new foods. 

  • Reduce stress as much as possible.  You really want to conserve your energy for the race so reduce your activity level (this is not a good time to plan a trip to Disneyland or hiking).

  • Foam roll and stretch to help muscles prepare for race



  • Practice your negative split: run the first of the race slower than race pace and end your run faster than race pace. 

  • Try this training run: warm up with one mile, try running two miles at 30 seconds slower than race pace, then three miles at race pace.  Cool down. 

  • Carb Loading, only need to increase by one serving of carbs per day the 1-2 days before race.

RRCA Certified Running Coach, Jody Stoops

Marathon Performance and Weather Conditions

We don't often take into consideration running conditions and temperatures. Do you realize that the best temp to run a marathon is 55°F? At 75°F you have a degradation of 7% and at 85°F a degradation of 10%.  

Going below 55°F has the same effect. At 35°F, you have a degradation of 7%.

Think about it, your body has to work hard to cool you down core. As your body temp increases your oxygen uptake increases, glycogen depletion is hastened and lactate levels increase. You will notice a rise on your heart rate. It is almost impossible to have a peak performance on a hot race day. Even the elite runners come in slower at a hot marathon.

Take all these things into consideration when racing in heat and don't get mad at yourself for not hitting your PR.

Stay hydrated, run in the shade whenever possible, stay off hot asphalt, and stop if you experience any signs of heat exhaustion: headache, nausea, chills, dizziness, faintness, muscle cramps, strong and rapid pulse, hot and dry skin, confusion.

Info adapted from RRCA

How Much Time is Needed Between Marathons?

This question came up in the book "Run Less Run Faster." Here is their answer.

"Some individuals recover more rapidly than others. The differences in recovery are influenced by the intensity of the effort and the weather conditions, running in warm conditions when a lot of fluids were lost slows recovery.

We are aware of individuals who have run marathons every week of the year. One runner who contacted us had run marathons for more than 50 months consecutively. In all sports, there are individuals who have special abilities.  These individuals may have special recovery capabilities. However, their constant racing may prevent their attaining an optimal performance.

For most individuals, we believe that running more than two marathons per years risks their being overtrained, injured, and prevented from the proper preparations needed for a solid performance. We realize that sometimes, runners enter a marathon with the attitude that it is a long training run; thus it does not entail the same stress as an all-out effort, and the recovery needed will be shorter. However, a marathon is still 26.2 miles of running. Even if you do not run up to your maximum capability, you still need a recovery from the biomechanics stress.

Marathon training is stressful, even with our method that emphasizes recovery, so be cautions about jumping right back into the next marathon training cycle. After the post-marathon recovery month, we recommend two to three months of serious training before beginning the next 18 week marathon training preparation. The time off provides a break from the mental stress associated with the marathon preparation.  It is also a good time to run a shorter race and capitalize on the strong base built for the marathon."

Feeling Frustrated? 

Can't seem to run far, can't get faster, can't breath, new injury?

That is the thing with running, you love it but it can be frustrating. If you are trying to add mileage and feeling like you can't go any further, try adding just five minutes. A lot of times it is a mental block, your mind/thoughts are keeping you from running further. Keep your thoughts positive, you can do this, you can add just five minutes each week to your long run.  Mind over matter. It doesn't matter if those last five minutes are very slow jogging or walking, just get them in.

Want to get faster but don't know how it is even possible? Speed training is the only way to improve your speed. It can be as simple as adding in a few speed intervals to your normal training run. Try and run as fast as you can for about 20 to 30 seconds and then slow down again and recover for about 1-2 minutes, then speed up again.  Repeat this for 3-6 times. Remember to always warm up for about 10 minutes with a slow run or walk then add in your speed work. There are a lot of different speed drills you can incorporate.

You love the run but you can never catch your breath! It is as simple as.....slow down. You may be trying to go way too fast. Try and begin with a warmup walk, slowly increase the speed of your walk until you are doing a slow jog.  If you can breath comfortably and still maintain a conversation then this is your comfortable pace, if you can't talk, then you need to slow down. Over time you will be able to run a little faster and still be able to breath.

Have you been running for quite some time and all of a sudden you have a new pain, a pain that wasn't there before? As far as you know, nothing has changed: still doing the same run each week, the same route, the same distance. Chances are it is your shoes.  We often forget about the wear and tear on our shoes over time. They still look pretty new, the tread is still visible, so clearly they aren't worn out, but they have lost all their cushioning and support on the inside.  Replace your shoes about every 300 miles. If you are running on old, worn out shoes, you may begin to have new aches and pains you never had before.

Want to Cut Down on Your Finish Time at Your Next Race?  Try Cutting Corners: Running Tangents

This is not cheating. The only race courses which are "guaranteed" to be accurate are those which are "certified". In this country, courses are certified by the USATF, (USA Track & Field) to meet international standards set by the IAAF. (International Amateur Athletic Federation)  The IAAF and USATF require that courses be measured over the shortest route open to the runners. This means that the course is measured on a route that cuts all corners as closely as possible to the inside apex, usually within six inches of the road edge.

You are cheating yourself if you do not cut the corners as the course was measured. If you run down the center of the road, each right angle turn will cost you one or two seconds in your finish time and extends the distance you will have to run. To further ensure that courses are not short, the USATF recommends all courses be set up to be 0.1% long, about 50 yards or 8-16 seconds in a marathon.

To run the shortest route, keep as close as possible to the inside edge of the road on all turns, and as you come out of the turn, assume a straight line route to the inside of the next turn. Practice doing this in your training on roads or trails that are traffic free.

Road Racing Strategies by By Warren Finke

How Do You Handle the Pain?

Yesterday was one of those busy days, I didn't have much time to properly nourish, and today I am paying the price. Nutrition pays a HUGE role in recovery. I always try and get my carbs in after a run and my protein in after resistance training, all while keeping my water intake high. But today, I am feeling the muscle pain and soreness. I had done both resistance training and running with no time for rest or recovery in between. ( I don't suggest doing this)

I had done 2 hours of personal training with my clients, we did a lot of kettlebell training which is excellent for a total body workout. Plus your core is engaged the entire time and the movements help get your cardio going too. It felt great, but I am sore today.

Here are a few tips on muscle pain and recovery:

1. Always try to stretch and foam roll after your workout, or at least after you have warmed up. Stretching gets the blood flowing to the muscles and helps begin recovery. Foam rolling helps to loosen up the fascia around the muscles and works out any knots.

2. I also like to soak in a hot bath with Burt's Bees Bath Salts which helps release the lactic acid and ease sore muscles.

3. I use Traumeel on my sore muscle areas. First, I massage it into the muscle, then I apply moist heat to help it absorb into the muscles faster.  I have been using Traumeel for eight years now and I find it really helps, especially during marathon training and racing. It is great for: sports injuries, repetitive use injuries, sprains, backaches, muscle aches, and bruises in addition to minor arthritis pain and muscle inflammation.

4. After a long run, I soak in an ice bath. I fill the bath with cold water and ice and I sit in it with only my legs covered by the icy water for about 15-20 min. "The general theory behind this cold therapy is that the exposure to cold helps to combat the microtrauma (small tears) in muscle fibers and resultant soreness caused by intense or repetitive exercise.  The ice bath is thought to constrict blood vessels, flush waste products and reduce swelling and tissue breakdown. Subsequently, as the tissue warms and the increased blood flow speeds circulation, the healing process is jump-started. The advantage of an ice bath submersion is that a large area of intertwined musculature can be treated, rather than limiting the cold therapy to a concentrated area with a localized ice pack." (Active.com)

5. After a long run or marathon, I put on Lunatik Athletiks compression socks as soon as possible. Especially if I have been doing a lot of hills and my calf muscles are sore. Compression socks help bring blood flow to the muscle and increase the healing.


Use Coupon Code CMHF to receive 20% off your order.

Remember to train smart and take time to properly recover so you can get back out there sooner! ~coach Jody #crossmyheartfitness