Posts Tagged ‘running tips’

I have been running in the Nike Frees for over a year and they are by far my favorite running sneaker.

I have logged many miles in the Nike Frees including training for and completing the 2010 Chicago Marathon. I’ve ran in a variety of running sneakers through the years including Adidas, Saucony, Asics, New Balance, Brooks and now Nikes. My search ends here with the Nike Free and here’s why.


The sole of this sneaker is very flexible. The shoe forms to your foot and allows for a natural running stride. There is minimal time to break in this sneaker because they do not start off stiff like most running shoes. I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon in a pair of Brooks sneakers that were recommended to me. The shoes were heavy and I felt like I had bricks on my feet. I appreciate the flexibility that the Nike Free allows.


There is minimal cushion in the Nike Free. The less cushion you have in your sneaker the more you decrease the risk of developing an overuse injury. With minimal padding in your sneaker you learn to land softer on your feet, which lessens the impact on your ankle, knee and hip joints. I use to run very heavy on my feet, you could hear me stomping on the treadmill a mile away. Now, I’ve learned to land softer, which has been less stress on the joints in my legs. The muscles in your foot will also get stronger which enables you to support your legs more efficiently.


A good pair of running sneakers traditionally run from $100.00-$200.00. The Nike Free costs about $85.00, depending on where you shop. If you are logging a lot of mileage buying running sneakers can get expensive. There is a good price difference between these sneakers and other top running shoes.


The Nike Free comes in multiple colors and styles. There are different levels of cushioning for those runners that want to break into this style of shoe gradually. Nike currently offers the 7.0 which has the most cushion, the Free Run Plus is the next step down and the 3.0 has the least cushion of all three. Nike comes out with new colors for this shoe every few months. You can even customize your own on the Nike website.

I’ve had clients that were recommended orthotics and motion control sneakers that ended up with knee pain and were unable to run. When they tried running in the Nike Free they had no pain in their knees and were able to train for and complete a half marathon.

Over the past year I’ve recommended this shoe to many of my clients that are runners. 90% of the time the Nike Free has been the perfect fit.

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As the spring approaches so does some of my favorite local road races. Here are three races that are worth getting ready for!

1. Doyle’s 14th Annual Emerald Necklace Road Race

  • Date/Time: April 10th, 2011 at 11:00 AM
  • Location: Doyle’s Cafe;  3484 Washington St., Jamaica Plain, Ma. 02130
  • Registration: Online or download a registration form to be mailed in or brought to Doyle’s Cafe.
  • Cost: $25 for pre-registration/$30 day of race. Proceeds to benefit Sister Jeanne’s Kids Fund and the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums.

Why you should participate:

This 5 mile road race is fairly flat with a scenic course. It’s a great course for beginners or advanced runners looking to get a new PR. The post-race gathering is fantastic. There is free food and refreshments, a DJ and live music inside from the Fenian Brothers. The staff at Doyle’s are very friendly and they make for a great atmosphere. Don’t miss out on this race!

2. The James Joyce Ramble 10K

  • Date/Time:Date: Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 11:00 a.m.
  • Location: Endicott Estate 656 East Street, Dedham, MA
  • Registration: Online or mail in your registration form
  • Cost: $35.00 for Pre-Registration/$40.00 for race day registration. All Proceeds from the Ramble are donated to the Claudia Adams-Barr Program at Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Why you should participate:

This 10K is a challenging and fun course. There are actors spread through-out the roads reciting works from James Joyce. This race is very family friendly. There’s a children’s ramble one hour before the race starts and there is plenty of entertainment along with complimentary refreshments post race.
The James Joyce Ramble has been featured in The New York Times, Sports Illustrated,Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal,  Runners World, National Public Radio, The Boston Globe, ESPN, New England Runner Magazine among others.

3. The Corrib 5K Road Race

  • Date: Has not been announced yet. In the past it’s been scheduled for the first Sunday in June
  • Location: The Corrib Pub, 2030 Centre Street, West Roxbury, MA 02132
  • Registration: Check The Massachusetts Event Calendar on the website Cool Running in a few weeks, and the registration procedure should be posted.

Why you should participate:

This is a quick and challenging 5K course. There are two major hills, but the last quarter mile is all downhill. There is typically a late start (noon) and an amazing post race BBQ. There are complimentary refreshments and lots of activities for children. Last year they had a DJ, moon bounce, face painting and ice cream trucks to name a few of the family attractions. The post-race activities are held at Billings field behind The Corrib and its an event not to be missed.

If you need some motivation to run through the tail end of this winter, think of these three great races as a reason to get moving again.

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I couldn’t help but think of my Physical Education students when I read the Times Article “Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries”¹ The article states that through a recent study, static stretching before a run did not decrease your chance in injury. I spent the first 3 months of my P.E. Teaching career explaining this concept to my students, especially the older ones.

The children that I teach had been use to their routine of coming into the gym, performing static stretches, running laps and then starting the lesson plan for the day. For me to change their routine took a lot of explaining and I still believe they’re not all convinced.

I used the analogy of comparing your muscles to a rubber band. If you’ve ever seen a cold elastic band, what happens when you try to stretch it? The rubber band breaks. When you have a warm rubber band, it stretches very easily.

In my classes, I always start with a warm up, but I never have them perform static stretching at the beginning of class. My students start with a walk/light jog, followed by dynamic stretching and then some additional static stretches before we begin our lesson plan. This prevents injury and gets their muscles prepared for the sport/exercise they are about to partake in. However, at least once a month I will still have a hand raised with the question “why don’t we stretch first?”

As a runner, I agree with the Times Article for myself and for the way I work with my clients and Physical Education classes. I always start with a proper general warm up before exercise. I use static stretching at the end of a session for a cool down and in an effort to prevent any cramping or tightening of the muscles after exercise.

Here is an example of a dynamic warm up that I use with my Physical Education Class.

  • 100Ft. of Toy Soldiers; Take one step, lift the opposite leg as high as it will comfortably go and touch the knee of that leg. Repeat on opposite side
  • 100Ft. of Cherry Pickers; High skip while reaching one hand in the air
  • 100Ft. of Caterpillar; Bend at the waist and walk your hands out to a plank position. Then walk your feet into meet your hands, while keeping only a slight bend in your knees. Walk your hands back out and then your feet in again to meet your hands.
  • 100Ft. Back Shuffle; Step backwards staying on the balls of your feet. Look behind you to make sure you don’t crash into anything.

Repeat all exercises

This warm up will raise your core temperature and improve your flexibility at the same time. For an extra stretch you can perform some static stretches afterward, although it is not necessary.

¹Skip the Stretch Before Running — It Doesn’t Prevent Injuries By Alice Park Friday, February 18, 2011, Time Healthland

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“Here’s the good thing about running. You just put on your shorts and your shoes and you go.” David Letterman

Anytime, Anywhere.

Of all the things I love about running, one of my favorite aspects is you can go anywhere and anytime. Go for as long or as short of a run as you want. Go fast or slow on flat or hilly surfaces, it’s all good to me. Sure there are products that can enhance your running experience; Ipods, Gu, dry-wick clothing, but none of it is truly necessary in order to run. I’ve been running regularly for 8 years, long distance for 3. It is something that I cannot imagine my life without. Nothing makes me feel better than a good run. Running is the one thing I can always count on to pick me up. Even if it’s a bad run, it’s still good to me.

Running is Empowering

I find when my clients try running they feel empowered. Especially the ones that believed they could never run. Accomplishing something they have been afraid of proves to them that they are in control of their lives. I don’t push running on my clients. If they show an interest then I encourage it.

I’ve found over the years running has helped my clients build inner-strength and courage, relieve stress and heal other parts of their life. Exercise in general can provide the benefits I see in running. It’s just my favorite catalyst to a healthier, happier life.

The Running Network

For a sport that is usually practiced alone, running has a lot of social benefits. Local road races and running clubs are a great way to meet people. Training for a running event with a friend or significant other establishes a bond that can’t be matched by any other experience.

Road races are commonly used to honor loved ones or fund-raise for a charity near and dear to a runner’s heart. One of the most amazing examples I’ve seen of this, is a runner that I follow on Twitter, Elizabeth Trask or @fiftyforbilly. She is running 50 Marathons in 50 States, 1,310+ Miles in Memory of her Dad & to Benefit The Center for Grieving Children in Portland, Maine. What an inspiration!

A Running Joke

Running is often used as a conversation icebreaker. If you have this hobby in common with someone, you can talk for hours. Below is a video of actor Jake Gyllenhaal on the David Letterman Show. He is there to talk about his movie “Love and Other Drugs”. They end of spending a good part of the interview talking about running.

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Guest Post: Author Ryann Price has been an active runner and yogi for 10+ years. In 2010 she completed her teacher training certification at In Touch Yoga in Bryon Bay, Australia, where she primarily studied hatha and vinyasa yoga. Today Ryann continues her practice and love of both yoga and running, and teaches the art of strength and flexibility in Washington, DC.

If yoga is the art of creating space throughout the body with a focus on the spine, well running is the art of compressing that spine back down.  As a runner myself I’ve battled many injuries and as a yogi I’ve come to find a cure for almost all of them on my mat.  You don’t have to trust my experience alone, this list from WebMD of the top running injuries highlights that tight muscles can be the source of almost all the injuries listed (with the exception of blisters – can’t help you there!).

The key to balancing your running with yoga is knowing when to stretch, when to strengthen and what muscles to target in both cases.  Running classically tightens lower body muscles like hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, piriformis and calf muscles.  These are excellent areas to focus your stretching.  Integrating a yoga practice that focuses on these muscles into your daily life is an excellent way to ensure you stay injury free and as a bonus gain added mobility in your stride.

As a runner you know which of your lower body muscles are weaker or out of balance.  Incorporating strength building poses into your practice that work on your weaker areas is an excellent way to round out your muscle imbalances.  Core strength is always present in yoga poses even if they are not categorically “core strengtheners”, but it can also be a way to elevate your level of performance.  Specifically target the lower back, inner thigh, lower abs and oblique muscles to build up your core, which will not only increase your performance as an amateur runner but also help protect you against injury.

Now that you’re up to speed on the physical benefits yoga brings to your life as a runner, how do you start your practice?  Or for those of you already practicing how you do make your practice work harder for you as a runner?

To take on your problem areas commit to 3 daily poses.  If you take 5 minutes per pose that’s a maximum of 15 minutes per day.  A quick example, if you have tight hips, hamstrings and quads here’s a 15 minutes runners’ daily sequence:

  1. Anjaneyasana (low lunge), focus on dropping your hip to the ground and relax your glute (repeat on opposite side)
  2. Take your lunge to the wall with your back shin up the wall.  Focus on flattening your back against the wall. (repeat on opposite side)
  3. Supta padangustasana.  Here you’ll need a belt.  Take it slow because you can overstretch (aka pull) your hamstring.  Start where you can just barely feel something.  Keep your grounded leg straight and foot flexed.

Unlike running, your yoga practice does not have a destination.  It’s a journey.  Yoga is a journey.  Take it one day at a time and find a place, a teacher, a time whatever gets you motivated to jump on your mat. Do your daily sequence.  Invest in yourself and your body, you only get one.  And just like running life is a marathon, not a sprint.

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As the years have gone on I can stand the treadmill less and less. Living in New England there will be times when you literally have no other choice if you want to get a run in. Here are two work-outs to make your time on the dreadmill go by fast!

Work-out #1 Intervals

Warm Up

2:00 Walk/3:00 Easy Jog


1/2 Mile Run @ 80-90% Max Heart Rate
1/4 Mile Jog or walk @ 65-70% MHR
3 Rounds for beginners
6 Rounds for advanced

Cool Down

5:00 Walk

Work Out #2 Interval Strength Training

Warm Up

2:00 Walk/3:00 Easy Jog


1 Mile Run All Out/10x Burpee (or Push Ups for beginners)
3/4 Mile Run All Out/20x Burpee
1/2 Mile Run All Out/30x Burpee
1/4 Mile Run All Out/40x Burpee

Cool Down

5:00 Walk and stretch

By breaking up your run into short intervals your mind will stay occupied. Concentrate on your heart rate and timing. When you are done, record the times of your intervals in a journal. After a few weeks you should see an improvement in your speed.

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Less than 1% of the population has ever run a marathon

The final contestants on The Biggest Loser are forced to join that one percent in their final challenge. For three months these people have been working hard in the gym, monitoring their nutrition and overcoming their weightloss goals, that should be enough of a journey to keep the viewer interested.

The people on this show lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time. While it is a great thing to take control over your health, when it is done in such a short amount of time it’s very stressful on your body. Now they are taking on a 26.2 mile race and they’re given a short amount of time to prepare. To properly train for a marathon your body needs time to build up to that mileage.

At this point in the show some of the contestants are still considered obese. They need to be concentrating on getting the rest of that weight off. Instead, their final months are spent stressing over running a marathon.

Take Biggest Loser contestant Darius. He completed the marathon in 4Hrs. 2Min., which is a great time. He also gained two pounds in the process. Training for a marathon can be stressful, it’s natural that these contestants would go back to the only way they use to deal with stress, overeating.

It’s also interesting that Jillian Michaels, one of the trainers on the show, has never run a marathon. As a trainer I wouldn’t insist that my client take on something that I am not willing to take on myself. I am always inspired by the progress my clients make but I continue to lead by example, not the other way around.

I wouldn’t find this show any less inspiring if they had ran a 10K or a half marathon at the end of the season. If the show’s producers were truly interested in the well-being of these contestants they would give them the proper amount of time to train for a marathon, or have them end the show with an event they are prepared to take on.

The Biggest Loser feels that running a marathon is suitable for their contestants final challenge. Clearly it’s to add to the drama of the show and they do not care about the participants long-term health.

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The Holidays can be a stressful time. Between decorating, shopping and parties it’s easy to let your health take a back seat. Exercise is going to be your best bet for staying stress free and keeping up with the holiday spirit.

In a season that is all about giving to others, it’s still important to make time for yourself. When you’re feeling bad about yourself it’s hard to be a positive influence on anyone else. By scheduling time for a walk or work-out session you can continue to stay in shape and feel good about the fact that you did something for yourself today.

Don’t forget to eat. Plan your meals at the beginning of the day or the night before. By having such a hectic schedule the day can fly by before you realize you haven’t eaten since breakfast. When you skip meals you’re more likely to binge later. You also will be low on energy and your mood will really suffer.

Take advantage of the outdoors. This is the time of year where you can go ice skating, sledding and skiing. Instead of staying in and watching movies, brave the cold and have some fun with your family and friends. Sign up for a holiday road race or two. Staying motivated in the cold is a lot easier when you’re not the only one out there.

Don’t beat yourself up. If you indulge too much at a holiday party leave it behind you and move on. Many people feel like they blew one night and figure they can continue on with that behavior all season. In reality one night of excess calories is nothing compared to a whole month of bingeing.

Here’s a work-out to help you stay on track this holiday season.

Warm Up

3:00 Jump Rope


5:00 Burpee Challenge AMRAP/1:00 Rest

:20 Bearcrawl/ :10 Plank for 10 Rounds/1:00 Rest

Plank Up/Down Ladder 1-15

Cool Down

3×10 Torso Rotation

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Follow these 4 Steps to dress for success this winter season.

Step #1

Start with a quality pair of  running pants. Under Armour’s Cold Gear Pants are a great investment for the winter. They have plenty of styles and fits that all do a good job of keeping you warm and dry. The fabric is light and unlike cotton absorbs your sweat so you’re not weighed down by wet clothing while you’re exercising.

Step #2

Top layers are going to be your best friend this winter. Start with a long sleeve shirt made of dry-fit material. Most major athletic brands make quality base layers, my favorites are Under Armour and Nike. They come in lots of colors, styles and fits.

Step #3

Your next top layer should be a jacket or hoodie. If the weather is rainy or not too cold go with a windbreaker jacket that will keep you dry and warm but not too hot. When temperatures drop go for a warmer running top like The Nike Thermal Running Hoodie. This hoodie is lined with dry fit material and it’s easy to run in. This top also has small pockets at the end of the sleeves to keep your hands warm. When the weather gets really cold wear both a hoodie and a jacket.

Step #4

Lastly you want to take care of your extremities.

  • Good socks are going to protect your feet. The company Thorlo makes socks that are incredibly warm and comfortable.
  • Warm your hands from the cold with a nice pair of gloves. Look for a pair that is not made of cotton.
  • Cover up that head. There are many styles of hats and headbands that will do the job for you. Nike makes a winter running hat made of dry-fit material that even has headphones sewn into it, which is perfect for those of you that like to run to music.

Everyone’s body heat regulation is a bit different, it may take you a few tries before you find the combination of layers that works for you. I suggest going out with more because you can always take something off and tie it around your waist. If you do find that you’re uncomfortably warm take off a layer and hide it somewhere, then drive back to get it after your run. I’ve done this many times and my things have never been taken. Most importantly don’t let the cold weather stop you from enjoying outdoor activities.

Pro Tip:

Your cold gear pieces can get expensive. Look for deals at local retailers like City Sports or T.J. Maxx.

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Be careful about what you read, especially when it comes to health and fitness articles. There is a lot of noise out there and it’s up to you to determine fact from massaged truth to total crap.

Last week I came across a blog posted by City Sports that I found quite upsetting. They described how carbohydrates are not fattening and that weight gain before a marathon is a good sign. I understand the point they were trying to make, but the average reader will not. Many people will see that article and think “Oh, carbs are good, I should probably order a pasta bread bowl tonight.”

It’s a case of taking something that may apply to very few athletes and generalizing it for the public. Carbohydrates are a macro-nutrient that many people would love to hear is good for them. They are easy to find, cheap and easy to store, but the majority of your daily caloric intake should not come from carbohydrate.

I am about to run my fourth marathon. I have taken eight of my clients from never running more than a mile to finishing a half marathon and two of them went on to run the Chicago Marathon with me this past October. I have never practiced “carb-loading” and certainly never encouraged any of my clients to practice it either.

After two hours of an endurance event your primary source for energy is no longer carbohydrate, no matter how many bagels you’ve eaten the night before. Carbohydrates play a big role in recovery and can be useful during your event in the form of “Gu”. With that said, Your body’s most efficient source of fuel during an endurance event is going to be fat. When I’m training for a marathon 40% of my daily intake of calories comes from “good fats”.

I’d advise you to be careful about what you read, there is a lot of good information out there on health and nutrition. Make sure you check your facts or enlist help from a professional before you practice something you’ve taken out of a magazine ad.

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