How to PR in the Marathon

By Team RunRun Coach Brant Stachel

Achieving a personal record in a marathon is a blend of meticulous planning, adaptable training, and understanding the nuances of marathon running. A 12-16 week training period is generally recommended, but it’s the approach within these weeks that makes all the difference. This “How to PR in the Marathon” guide provides an in-depth look at how to strategically prepare by highlighting the importance of personalized coaching, training hierarchy, and race day strategies.

The Role of a Personal Coach in Your Marathon Journey

Adaptable Training Plans: Unlike static training schedules, a personal coach tailors your 12-16 week plan to adapt to your life’s unpredictabilities – illness, soreness, or personal commitments. This flexibility is key in ensuring consistent progress without overtraining or undertraining.

Human-Centric Approach: You’re not just a spreadsheet entry. A good coach recognizes your unique needs, strengths, and limitations, offering a humanized approach to training that respects your individuality.

Marathon Training Hierarchy Explained

Total Easy Aerobic Volume: The foundation of marathon training is building aerobic endurance. A coach can determine the right volume for you, considering your capacity and suitable cross-training activities.

Marathon-Paced Long Runs: These are crucial for simulating race conditions. Alternating these every two weeks with regular long runs helps in familiarizing yourself with the marathon effort.

Tempo Runs for Metabolic Efficiency: Positioned a level above marathon pace, tempo runs are integrated every two weeks to boost your metabolic efficiency, preparing your body for the sustained effort of marathon running.

Faster-Paced Intervals: Though beneficial, intervals at 5K pace or faster come with increased injury risk. They should be incorporated judiciously to enhance, not hinder, your marathon training.

Coach Rez Nguyen rockin’ the New York City Marathon 2023!

Long Runs as Dress Rehearsals

Simulating Race Conditions: Treat every long run or marathon-paced run as a trial run for race day. This includes testing your gear, pre-race meals, hydration strategy, and even your bathroom routine.

Building Confidence and Familiarity: Repeatedly practicing these elements reduces race day surprises and builds confidence, making you well-acquainted with what to expect.

Mastering Marathon Pacing

Course and Condition Considerations: Take into account the course profile, weather conditions, and available pacing groups. These factors will influence your pacing strategy.

Starting Conservatively: Aim to start at or slightly slower than your marathon pace. Remember, the most successful marathon strategies often involve even or negative splits – rushing at the start seldom leads to a PR.

Controlling the Controllables for Marathon Success

The marathon is as unpredictable as it is rewarding. By focusing on what you can control – training, pacing, nutrition, and gear – you set the stage for a successful race. And with the right weather and a strategic approach, you might not only hit your PR but surpass it significantly.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun and a Registered Psychotherapist. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Strength Training for Runners

Unleashing the Power of Strength Training in Your Running Practice

As runners, we often focus on the miles we log and the speed  in which we achieve them, but there’s another critical element that can elevate our performance and prevent injuries—strength training. Incorporating strength training into your running routine can have a transformative effect on your performance. Below I will explore the significance of single-leg strength work for stability and power, and how it can bolster your running prowess. Additionally, I’ll summarize some of  the latest research on strength training as a recovery tool, its role in building tendon strength, increasing growth hormone and testosterone, and the importance of strength training for maintaining overall health as we age.

The Power of Single-Leg Strength Work

Running is a dynamic activity of repetitive single leg hops that demands a strong and stable lower body and pelvis. Single-leg strength exercises are an essential component of strength training for runners, targeting the muscles that often get overlooked in traditional bilateral lifts. By focusing on one leg at a time, we can identify and correct any imbalances between the left and right sides of the body, reducing the risk of injuries caused by asymmetries.

Key Exercises for Single-Leg Strength:

  1. Single-Leg Squats: Develop quadriceps, hamstrings, and glute strength while improving balance and stability.
  2. Bulgarian Split Squats: Target quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, enhancing hip flexibility and stability.
  3. Step-ups: Strengthen quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, while also challenging balance and coordination.

By integrating these single-leg exercises into your strength training routine, you’ll not only enhance your running performance but also build a solid foundation for injury prevention and long-term joint health.

Strengthening Tendons and Muscle Recovery

Running places significant stress on our tendons and muscles, often leading to wear and tear injuries. Strength training for runners is a powerful tool for strengthening tendons and promoting muscle recovery. When you engage in resistance training, your muscles contract against resistance, stimulating the production of collagen in tendons, which enhances their strength and resilience.

Moreover, strength training improves blood flow to the muscles, aiding in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients necessary for tissue repair. This accelerates recovery post-run, reducing the likelihood of overuse injuries and allowing you to maintain a consistent training regimen.

Research Findings on Strength Training and Running Performance:

Studies have shown that incorporating strength training into a running program can improve running economy, which is the energy required to maintain a given running speed. This means that with improved running economy, you can run faster or longer with the same effort, ultimately enhancing your race performance.

The Hormonal Benefits of Strength Training

Beyond the physical gains, strength training offers unique hormonal benefits that can boost your running performance and recovery. Strength workouts stimulate the release of growth hormone and testosterone, both of which play crucial roles in muscle repair and growth.

Growth hormone is essential for tissue repair and regeneration, helping your muscles recover faster after intense training sessions. Additionally, an increase in testosterone levels contributes to muscle growth and enhances your body’s ability to synthesize protein, which is vital for muscle repair.


Strength training for runners can be a transformative ally in your running journey, providing numerous benefits that extend far beyond the track or trail. By incorporating single-leg strength work for stability and power, runners can develop a well-rounded strength foundation, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing performance. Moreover, the role of strength training in tendon strength, muscle recovery, hormonal optimization, and healthy aging underscores its significance in supporting a lifelong love for running.

Embrace strength training as a powerful complement to your running routine, and watch as you unleash your full running potential, fortified by a body that is strong, resilient, and ready to conquer any distance. I know my running certainly got better when I consistently incorporated strength training!

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

The Mental Side of Running Injuries

As a running coach and a passionate athlete, I’ve experienced the exhilaration of reaching new milestones, the thrill of crossing finish lines, and the joy of pushing my body to its limits, but, I’ve also walked the treacherous path of injury—a journey that can be both physically and mentally grueling. I want to share through a personal recollection  the trials and tribulations of being sidelined by injuries, namely my two most common: Achilles and ITB injuries. Most importantly I want to share the mental side of running injuries – how doubt can creep in, how pain can shatter our dreams, and why having a compassionate coach is essential to overcoming these challenges.

The Darkness Descends

Injury strikes like a bolt from the blue, disrupting our carefully laid-out plans and leaving us in a state of disarray. As an athlete, there is nothing more disheartening than being confined to the sidelines, watching others conquer what you once could. The physical pain is one thing, but the mental toll can be far more insidious. Doubt takes hold, weaving its way into the fabric of our thoughts, whispering, “Will I ever run again? Can I reach my goals?”

I vividly remember the time I was sidelined by an Achilles injury in 2014 just 10 days out from the Philly Half Marathon. The frustration was suffocating, as every step I couldn’t take seemed like a step further away from my dreams. The fear of losing my identity as a runner loomed large, casting a shadow over every aspect of my life. It’s during these dark moments that the support of a coach becomes invaluable.

The Coach’s Light

A coach is not just someone who tells you what workouts to do or how to improve your technique. A great coach is a guiding light, illuminating the path ahead even when it seems engulfed in darkness. They understand the depth of your passion, having walked in your shoes as both an athlete and a mentor – they know the mental side of running injuries and how to keep perspective as you navigate these tough times.

When I turned to my coach during my injury, it was their unwavering support that lifted me up. They empathized with my frustration, validating my feelings of doubt and fear. Instead of dismissing them, they acknowledged the emotional turmoil that accompanies physical pain. Their presence gave me hope that there was a way out of the abyss—an assurance that I could reclaim my identity as a runner.

The Power of Empathy

Having experienced the dark side of running firsthand, I bring a unique perspective to my role as a coach. I understand the dreams and aspirations that drive my athletes, but I also empathize with the setbacks and obstacles they face. I know the burning desire to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement, even when your body tells you otherwise.

As a coach, I strive to be the person I needed when I was injured, and I have been there, I know the mental side of running injuries, and it’s not easy! I walk side by side with my runners, not only as a guide but as a compassionate friend. I listen to their fears, offer support in their darkest moments, and celebrate their triumphs alongside them. By having been there, I can connect with their struggles on a profound level, providing the understanding and encouragement necessary to navigate the road to recovery.

Running is more than a sport; it becomes intertwined with the very fabric of our lives. But when injuries strike, the journey can take a detour into darkness. Doubt, pain, and fear can be overwhelming, threatening to extinguish our flame. Yet, with the support of a compassionate coach, we can find our way back.

As both an athlete and a coach, I have come to realize that my role extends beyond simply training programs and race strategies. It is about being a pillar of unwavering support, a beacon of hope in the face of adversity. So, if you find yourself injured and lost, remember that there are coaches out there who understand your struggle. Seek someone who will walk alongside you, lifting you up when the road feels too long. Together, we can conquer the darkness and emerge stronger, more determined, and ready to reclaim our place on the open road, trails, tracks and startlines!

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun and a Registered Psychotherapist. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Should I get SuperShoes?

Welcome back to the Team RunRun Community’s ongoing footwear series! Coach Miles Bennett-Smith is here once again to dive into a topic that has been buzzing in the running world: SuperShoes. In this latest training tips article, we will explore the question that many runners have been asking: Should I get Super Shoes?

SuperShoes have gained significant attention in recent years, with claims of improved performance and faster race times, especially in the marathon. These high-tech shoes have sparked debate and curiosity among runners of all levels. So, let’s dive in and examine the facts, benefits, and considerations surrounding SuperShoes.

What are SuperShoes?

Before deciding if you should get SuperShoes, let’s first get some definitions. SuperShoes, also known as carbon-plated racing shoes, are a category of running shoes that incorporate advanced technologies to enhance performance. These shoes are characterized by their lightweight construction, responsive cushioning, and a carbon fiber plate embedded within the midsole. The carbon plate is designed to provide increased propulsion, energy return, and a more efficient running stride.

The Science Behind SuperShoes

Extensive research and scientific studies have examined the impact of SuperShoes on running performance and reported significant improvements in running economy and race times when wearing SuperShoes compared to traditional running shoes. In fact, when Nike launched one of the first carbon-plated shoes on the market in 2017 they called it the Zoom Vaporfly 4%, because a University of Colorado research team found that running economy (the oxygen cost of running a given pace) improved by an average of 4 percent in the Nike prototype compared to conventional Nike and Adidas racing flats. The combination of a carbon plate and responsive foam midsoles are believed to contribute to enhanced energy transfer and reduced muscle fatigue, leading to improved efficiency and speed. This can save your calves during long races, 

Considerations for Choosing SuperShoes

While SuperShoes have shown promising benefits, it’s important to consider several factors before adopting them as your go-to running shoes:

Purpose and Usage: SuperShoes are primarily designed for racing and high-intensity workouts. For everyday training runs or recovery runs, it is almost always more appropriate to stick with regular training shoes to ensure optimal comfort, support, and durability. Advances in foam technology in particular make for a variety of great daily trainers that are fast and yet not carbon-plated (or quite so expensive and less durable.) 

Speed and Running Style: Each runner has a unique running style, and SuperShoes may not suit everyone. ( It’s crucial to evaluate how your foot strikes the ground, your pronation pattern, and any specific biomechanical considerations. But a critical factor is also a simple one – how fast are you running? For those targeting sub-3 hour marathons, SuperShoes are likely a benefit. But a recent study from 2023 on slightly slower runners, those between 8-10 minutes per mile, found that running economy only improved by less than 1%, and a few runners actually performed worse in SuperShoes than in cushioned alternatives. Consulting with a running specialist or coach can provide valuable insights to determine if SuperShoes align with your individual needs. 

Transition and Adaptation: Transitioning to SuperShoes can require an adjustment period, and with the proliferation of shoe brands bringing SuperShoes to the market, each shoe has a unique design and responsiveness so it’s advisable to gradually introduce them into your training regimen. Some users have cited more frequent issues with plantar fasciitis, while others just noted additional strain on their feet, toes, and lower leg that arrived after wearing SuperShoes frequently. This is often a natural result of being able to potentially run faster in workouts. Start with shorter, faster workouts or races to allow your body to adapt to the shoes’ unique characteristics, and remember that rotating between training shoes is a good way to add variety to the training stimulus and potentially find slightly different neuromuscular benefits over time. 

Cost and Brand Differentiation: SuperShoes often come with a higher price tag (~$200+) compared to regular running shoes. It’s important to assess your budget and determine if the investment aligns with your running goals and priorities. Watch for new models coming out to potentially reduce the price on older models that might be nearly as good (or even better!) Additionally, remember that in the running category, cost is not necessarily an indication of higher quality or even “faster” shoes. Different brands have worked hard over the last 5 years to catch up to (and in many people’s minds, surpass) the initial Nike SuperShoes that took the market by storm. Adidas, Saucony, On, Puma, New Balance, and nearly every competitor has multiple carbon-plated options, and they are enjoyed by lots of hobby-joggers and professionals alike! 

My Final Thoughts

So, should you get SuperShoes? I love SuperShoes! They really do feel amazing for a variety of purposes – long tempo runs, intense workouts on the track, races of almost any distance. But I can’t wear them every day – they are too expensive, too fragile, and frankly I want to save some of their benefits for when I need them most, which is not everyday use. That’s my conclusion – SuperShoes can provide performance benefits, but they are definitely not the right choice for every runner or every run. Consider your goals, your speed, your running style, and your budget when deciding whether to incorporate SuperShoes into your training. And of course remember that the shoes are just one piece of the puzzle, and consistent training, proper form, and injury prevention strategies play crucial roles in achieving your running goals. Hope you enjoyed this article, feel free to find my profile on Team RunRun and stay tuned for the next installment of our footwear series.

Miles is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

How to Choose your First Pair of Running Shoes

Welcome to the Team RunRun Community, where we strive to empower and support runners of all levels in their pursuit of excellence. I’m Coach Miles Bennett-Smith, and in this training tips article, I am thrilled to kick off a series dedicated to one of the most crucial aspects of preparing to pound the pavement: footwear. Today we’ll focus on 7 key tips for choosing your first pair of running shoes.

As a coach and runner, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of the right pair of shoes. Unfortunately, part of this comes from watching way too many people out on the trails and roads putting in mile after mile in the WRONG footwear – and honestly, it’s not their fault! Carbon plates, cushioning, colorways, pronation, stack height, brands on brands on brands – buying your first or 100th pair can be exciting, but also overwhelming, considering the multitude of options available in the market.

Today’s blog post is targeted a bit more toward those at the beginning of your running journey, as I will help guide you through some dos and don’ts of making that first (real) running shoe decision and setting you up for long-term success in your running journey. Let’s lace ‘em up!

1.     DO… Get Fitted at a Specialty Running Store

Sometimes it’s just this simple – if you want running shoes, go to a running shoe store, at least to start. Because when it comes to buying running shoes, one size does not fit all. It’s vital to visit a specialty running store (like Fleet Feet, RoadRunner Sports, Heartbreak Hill, San Francisco Running Company, Brooklyn Running Company, and many many more), and get properly fitted by knowledgeable staff. They will analyze your foot type, arch shape, and running style (sometimes with a camera, or on a treadmill) to recommend shoes that provide the necessary support and comfort. In the golden age of online shopping, trying shoes on in-person with a salesperson is not some pretentious perk or unnecessary luxury, it’s legitimately important! If they don’t have the perfect brand/fit/colorway, you can always order from them online or even go to another shop. But finding a true personalized fitting ensures a better fit, reduces the risk of injuries, and enhances your overall running experience.

2.     DON’T… Choose Based on Brand or Look Alone

While flashy designs or hot new colorways may catch your eye, it’s crucial not to prioritize aesthetics or loyalty over functionality. Sports marketing is big business, but remember, your running shoes are a performance tool; their primary purpose is to support your feet and enhance your running mechanics. While certain brands may have a deservedly strong reputation, it’s a long list, and it’s more essential to consider the individual shoes especially as lines within the same brand can vary significantly. Look beyond the exterior and focus on features such as cushioning, stability, and durability that align with your specific needs. If you’re dying to support a specific brand, wear their shirts or bras or hats or socks even, but choose shoes based on what feels the best for your feet. And if you’re truly desperate (or still flush with pandemic cash), many obscure colors/designs can be found or even customized online.

3. DO… Consider Your Training Goals and Environment

Are you aiming to complete your first 5K, conquer a marathon, or simply enjoy regular runs to maintain fitness? Your training goals should influence your shoe selection. If you’re a beginner or focusing on shorter distances to start (2-5 miles per run), you may prioritize comfort and cushioning. For longer distances (7+ miles), you might lean towards shoes that offer more responsiveness and support for endurance running. See if you can hone in on what kind of surface you will be doing most of your training on as well – hard packed dirt? Asphalt? A track? These are important answers to questions your shoe salesperson should ask, but you also want to share early in the conversation.

4. DON’T… Be Nervous or Hide Who You Are (A New Runner 🙂

Yes, you might be a novice – but so was everyone when they first started running! Don’t let the intimidation of newness overwhelm you, and try not to slip either into a false sense of confidence (i.e. pretending to know more than you do) or underselling your own knowledge (especially about your body). Have an open mind, and ask lots of questions, as this is a great opportunity to learn a lot from potential experts who have worked with a lot of different feet and shoes. But if the sales team pushes you in a direction that you don’t feel comfortable, speak up.

5. DO… Brush Up On Basic Running Shoe Options Before You Go

As a natural follow-up to No. 4, make sure you’re putting yourself in a good position to optimize your experience at the shoe store. Lots can be learned from reading a few articles on foot type / arch stability (what’s the difference between stability, neutral, minimalist, motion control, maximal). Ask a few friends who run for their opinions, not to hold as Gospel but because it can be good contextual information. Get comfortable with some of the types of designs, brands and prices that are common in the marketplace, so that the emotional connection to any one element isn’t quite so heightened when you’re in the moment at the store.

6. Don’t… Rush Your Decision

When choosing your first pair of running shoes patience is key. Set aside an hour to go to the store – make sure you take the time to try on multiple models and brands, and go for a test run in-store or on the sidewalk if at all possible. Pay attention to how the shoes feel on your feet, as it’s one of the most consistent predictors of overall fit even after just a minute or two. Tune into the level of comfort they provide, and whether they accommodate any specific foot (pronation, supination) issues you may have. Rushing the decision may result in choosing the wrong shoe, leading to discomfort and potential injuries down the road.

7. BONUS DO… Buy At Least One Nice Pair of Running Socks

Relatively straightforward, but often overlooked. Socks are perhaps even more differentiated by personal preference, but just make sure you’re running in a sock that was designed for running and covers your heel!


Choosing your first pair of running shoes is a significant step on your running journey, but no matter how much you think you know or don’t know, you can make a well-informed decision that aligns with your unique needs and goals. Remember, investing in the right pair of shoes will enhance your comfort, support your feet, and contribute to your overall running enjoyment and performance.

In the next articles of this series, we’ll dig deeper into some of the specific elements of marathon footwear, shoe rotation, and speeeeeed. Stay tuned!

Miles is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Training for Older Athletes with Coach Des Clarke

I was working on this article when the results from the Jackpot Ultras in Las Vegas, NV came through. The race served as the USATF road 100 mile championships. David Blaylock won the 80+ age group in a time of 29:47:29, beating out three other finishers in the age group. David is not the first octogenarian, or nonagenarian, to turn heads with his running. Olga Kotelko set 30 world records and won over 750 gold medals in the 90-95 age group. You can read about her in What Makes Olga Run and Older, Faster, Stronger. George Etzwiler ran the Mt Washington race in 2019 at the age of 99, and was only prevented from running at the age of 100 by COVID cancellations. Clearly there is the opportunity for people to continue running well past the age when society thinks you should be knitting in your rocking chair, napping and playing canasta.

Even at the elite level we’ve seen recent indications that athletes who at one point would’ve been considered “past their prime” are still dominating. Look at Eliud Kipchoge still winning every marathon he enters at 38, or Sarah Hall setting the women’s American record in the half marathon at the same age. Trail runner Darcy Piceu won 4 major 100 milers in 2018 at the age of 43.

However, let’s bring all this back down to earth. Most of us are not going to run 100 miles, or set world records, or live to 100, and that’s perfectly ok. And these stories are inspiring, but they don’t teach you HOW to be successful as an older athlete. Since it’s not all rainbows and unicorns and 100 mile records out there I’m going to provide some suggestions for running your best as you age.

Before we get started I want to note, I’m not selling the fountain of youth. It is inevitable that we’ll all slow down at some point. However, by utilizing the tactics below we can remain healthy and consistent in our running and maintain our fitness as we age.

Strength training

I am a coach who promotes strength training for people of all ages. It improves power, increases bone density, remedies imbalances, and prevents injury. Strength training becomes even more important as we age. Both men and women lose about 8% of their strength each decade after the age of 30. This process is exacerbated in menopausal women as their estrogen decreases. The adage of use it or lose it applies here, if you aren’t working actively to gain muscle, then you’re losing muscle. While it’s aimed more at perimenopausal and menopausal women there’s some great information for strength training for older athletes in NEXT LEVEL: Your guide to kicking ass, feeling great, and crushing goals through menopause and beyond. by Selene Yeager and Stacy Sims

Here are a few quick lifting tips for runners:

  • Try to lift after hard running workouts. That allows your hard days to be hard and your easy days to be easy.
  • Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. Overstressing muscles is what stimulates them to grow and get stronger. As an endurance athlete, and especially for women, you would have to purposefully try to bulk up in order to do so.
  • Incorporate single-leg moves. We all usually have a stronger side, and this will help to ensure that you’re strengthening both equally.


When I was in college I could stay up late on a Saturday, get up early Sunday and bang out 10 miles without any food or water, and then trot over to brunch in the dining hall. If I did that today I would pay – dearly.

Sleep and good nutrition (see below) are two of the best performance enhancers out there. When we are training we are actually breaking our bodies down, which encourages the repair and growth while we rest that makes us stronger. The key is to make sure we get enough recovery, and as we age the need for recovery most likely increases. 

  • Get enough sleep. Some elites get 10 hours a night plus naps, you should shoot for at least 7-8 hours a night. Naps are helpful, and even if you can’t get them everyday, sometimes as little as 20 minutes after a long run on the weekend can help jump start the repair process.
  • Everyone is different, but I usually like my athletes to have at least one day completely off from running and strenuous activity (light movement is fine). Again, this gives your body a chance to repair and reap the benefits of the fitness you are working on.
  • We all train in cycles. Every 2-4 weeks we should have a week that’s lighter in mileage and speed work. Same idea here with the recovery and rebuilding.


I could have lumped this in with recovery, but mobility is important enough to give it its own category. As we age our bodies are less flexible in many ways. It therefore becomes even more important to make sure we’re doing what we can to keep everything moving well. There’s lots of stuff you can do on your own at home, however if you notice that something is a constant issue or seems to get worse it’s a good idea to see a physical therapist, massage therapist or chiropractor before it becomes a big issue that takes you out from running for an extended period of time and requires lots of sessions to correct.

Nutrition and supplements

Perhaps my favorite nutrition advice of all time comes from Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Having a base of good nutrition helps us in many aspects of life, and especially in training. We want to fuel our body mostly with healthy, whole foods that nourish us and help keep us moving. Processed food has less nutrients, more empty calories, and more negative “stuff”. That’s not saying that you can never enjoy some Oreos, but they shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your nutrition plan. If you struggle with nutrition, seeing a dietician can help guide you on the right path. You also want to make sure you get enough carbohydrates to fuel your activity, and enough protein for repair processes.

There are also supplements that can help with performance and aging, although having a good base of nutrition is enough for many people. The key to these is to experiment with one at a time to see which ones seem to help you the most. Some of the supplements I like to incorporate include:

  • Adaptogens like ashwagandha and maca that help the body adapt to stress, including training stress.
  • Anti-inflammatories like ginger, turmeric, and tart cherry.
  • Joint-supporting oils like flaxseed and fish oils.
  • BCAAs to help with muscle repair.


While it can sometimes be frustrating that the messaging around aging seems to be focused on the negatives, we can definitely improve our wisdom and our self-knowledge. Sometimes it’s not the fastest runner who wins but the smartest. You can pace yourself, take care of yourself with hydration and fueling on longer runs, and use knowledge of the course and terrain to give yourself a competitive edge.

You can also set new goals for your running. Maybe you can’t place overall or set PRs, but you can strive to place in your age group, set a PR for your new age category, or maybe try to set a new distance PR by running longer. 

It’s also important to keep in mind your WHY. Yes, winning and getting faster can be fun, but it’s certainly not the only reason you started running. There are physical and mental health benefits that can be reaped at any age. And there’s also the community, maybe you can share stories and encouragement with younger runners. You also have the opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community.

Final thoughts

While aging might slow us down a bit, it doesn’t have to put the kibosh on your competitive running days. Take care of yourself, set new goals, and give back to the community. You just might find yourself enjoying running in a whole new light. I also want to note that having a running coach can be a great way to navigate changes in your running and training, gain external insight into your performance, encourage you through rough patches, and have another voice cheering you on in whatever goals you choose.

Photo: Jo Ohm

Des Clarke is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Pool Running for Runners

Pool running, also known as aqua jogging, is a popular form of cross-training for runners. This low-impact workout is performed in a pool and provides numerous benefits for healthy runners, including improved cardiovascular health and increased muscle strength. In addition, pool running can help prevent common injuries that often plague runners, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and knee pain.

One of the key benefits of pool running is that it provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Unlike running on land, which can put a lot of stress on the ankles, knees, and hips, pool running allows you to move your legs in a natural running motion without the impact. This makes it a great option for runners who are looking to cross-train in order to prevent injuries and maintain their overall fitness.

Another advantage of pool running is that it provides a full-body workout. Unlike running on land, which primarily works the legs, pool running also engages the upper body. This can help improve your overall strength and endurance, which can translate to better running performance. Additionally, using a flotation device or pool running belt can help engage the core, which can improve your balance and stability.

Incorporating pool running into your routine is also a great way to add variety to your workouts. This can help prevent burnout and keep you motivated to continue exercising. By switching up your routine and trying new forms of exercise, you can keep your workouts interesting and prevent boredom.

If you are a healthy runner looking to incorporate pool running into your routine, here are a few tips to get started:

  • Begin by setting a goal for your pool running workouts. This could be a certain number of minutes per workout or a specific number of workouts per week.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
  • Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after your pool running workouts to prevent injury.
  • Mix up your routine by using different flotation devices or pool running belts, and incorporating upper body movements.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional.

In my opinion as a coach who has used pool running with numerous athletes, incorporating this cross-training activity into your routine is a great way to add variety and maintain fitness levels during periods of injury or illness. Pool running has been an effective training tool for many of my runners looking to improve their performance, as it engages the upper body and provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Additionally, switching up your routine and trying new forms of exercise can keep your workouts interesting and prevent boredom. While there is limited scientific research on pool running, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can be a valuable form of exercise for healthy runners.

In terms of evidence to support the use of pool running for runners, there is limited scientific research available. However, a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that pool running was an effective rehabilitation tool for runners recovering from lower limb injuries. Additionally, many coaches and athletes have reported positive experiences with pool running, citing its benefits for maintaining fitness levels during periods of injury or illness and improving running performance.


  • Pool running provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints.
  • It engages the upper body and can improve overall strength and endurance.
  • Incorporating pool running can add variety to your routine and prevent burnout.
  • Begin by setting a goal for your pool running workouts and gradually increase the intensity.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after your workouts, and listen to your body.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Tips for Making Treadmill Running Less Boring with Coach Sanne Lansink

By Coach Sanne Lansink

You’re not alone if you love running outdoors and despise running inside on a treadmill. Although the activity is the same in many ways, being outside offers a significantly different experience than running indoors. Yet many people find themselves turning to a treadmill at some point throughout the year: security reasons, dealing with extreme weather, or to escape air pollution, to name a few. 

Completing a run on the treadmill can be much harder mentally than completing the same run outdoors. Treadmills can sometimes be boring or offer less stimulation than a trail outside. But if a treadmill run is in your future and you find yourself dreading that treadmill, here are a few tips to keep it entertaining.

  • Listen to Music/podcasts– Listening to music or podcasts can be very entertaining. A good trick is to pick a playlist that you used to love. For example a throwback to high school or middle school. Songs from years ago are less likely to be overplayed on your playlist and the radio, so the chances of you getting bored of them are slim.
  • Watch TV- There is no better time to watch TV than when you are running on the treadmill. Save your favorite series for the days you are scheduled to run. That way you are excited to get on the treadmill to watch your show. Saving your special show for the treadmill will also have you looking forward to running indoors and will give you a positive outlook on the dreaded treadmill. Save movies for your long runs. Nothing is worse than finishing a show mid-run and not being able to find another one. Not only would that leave you bored but also frustrated! 
  • Phone a friend- Invest in good Bluetooth headphones and catch up on your calls. Since most runs are done at an easy effort, you should be able to hold a conversation. While running, call your chattiest friend, mother, or anybody willing to listen and have a chat. Before you know it, your run will be over.
  • Run Blind- A helpful but frustrating feature on treadmills is the screen that displays how far you’ve gone and how much time has gone by. If you watch the numbers carefully, you will notice that they change slowly. Watching the time tick by can be very frustrating and make the run feel much longer than it is. So cover the screen with a towel and check only when you think it may be necessary!
  • Treadmill features- Some treadmills come with video footage of scenic trails. If you have access to one of these treadmills then check out the different trails and places you can run in the world.
  • Run with a friend- Find a gym that has two or more treadmills available, and bring some friends. Running with friends is always more enjoyable than running alone. So pick two treadmills that are side by side and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Create an encouraging environment- Many people have their treadmills tucked away in their basements or garage. Typically a room or space that has been forgotten about. Organize this space so that it is a place you enjoy being in. Hang up your favorite medals, a chalkboard with your goals written on it, and some wall art with an inspirational quote. A little effort goes a long way, and before you know it, your treadmill will make you feel like an elite runner. Adding a fan to the space can also help with airflow and temperature regulation.

The next time you find yourself procrastinating a run, or avoiding it altogether because of the treadmill, think of all the ways you can make it more enjoyable. The best way to stay committed to running on the treadmill is to establish a routine and to set yourself up for success by creating an environment that encourages the habit you’re trying to create.. A positive relationship with the treadmill can be crucial to having a successful training cycle. especially when you’re subjected to all the things mother nature has to offer.

Sanne Lansink is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Elliptical Training for Runners

Elliptical training is a popular form of exercise that has been gaining popularity among runners in recent years. This low-impact workout provides numerous benefits for healthy runners, including improved cardiovascular health and increased muscle strength. In addition, incorporating elliptical training into your routine can help prevent common injuries that often plague runners, such as shin splints, stress fractures, and knee pain.

One of the key benefits of elliptical training is that it provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints. Unlike running, which can put a lot of stress on the ankles, knees, and hips, elliptical training allows you to move your legs in a smooth, circular motion that is easier on your joints. This makes it a great option for runners who are looking to cross-train in order to prevent injuries and maintain their overall fitness.

Another advantage of elliptical training is that it provides a full-body workout. Unlike running, which primarily works the legs, elliptical training also engages the upper body. This can help improve your overall strength and endurance, which can translate to better running performance. Additionally, using the upper body handles on the elliptical machine can help engage the core, which can improve your balance and stability.

Incorporating elliptical training into your routine is also a great way to add variety to your workouts. This can help prevent burnout and keep you motivated to continue exercising. By switching up your routine and trying new forms of exercise, you can keep your workouts interesting and prevent boredom.

If you are a healthy runner looking to incorporate elliptical training into your routine, here are a few tips to get started:

  • Begin by setting a goal for your elliptical workouts. This could be a certain number of minutes per workout or a specific number of workouts per week.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time.
  • Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after your elliptical workouts to prevent injury.
  • Mix up your routine by using different resistance levels and incorporating upper body movements.
  • Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional.
  • Talk with your coach about how to incorporate this training into your overall plan. 

In conclusion, elliptical training is a valuable form of exercise for healthy runners. It provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints, engages the upper body, and adds variety to your routine. By incorporating elliptical training into your cross-training routine, you can prevent common injuries and maintain your overall fitness.


  • Elliptical training provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints.
  • It engages the upper body and can improve overall strength and endurance.
  • Incorporating elliptical training can add variety to your routine and prevent burnout.
  • Begin by setting a goal for your elliptical workouts and gradually increase the intensity.
  • Warm up and cool down before and after your workouts, and listen to your body.

Brant Stachel is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

Marathon Fueling: What to eat during your Marathon with Coach Brian Comer

What is marathon fueling and what should you eat during your marathon? In sports and life, nutrition bears special importance for maximizing performance and healthy living. While good nutrition should be made a habit, there is particular emphasis that surrounds athletic competitions. The nutrition needs of the endurance athlete are unique and this is only emphasized more as race distances increase. 

As you get towards the marathon and beyond, you’re less likely to be able to get away with simply a pre and post run nutrition plan. That’s where fueling on the run comes into play. While not everyone is blessed with an “iron gut”, like shoes or other running gear, it often comes down to personal preference and what works for you individually. This article will seek to focus on marathon fueling, not so much for marathon training, but the pre-race, intra-race, and post-race considerations for marathon fueling as another spring marathon season looms on the near horizon.

Pre-Race Nutrition

Now when we say pre-race nutrition, while by default that would include nutrition during training, the purpose of the article is to look at the more immediate nutrition for the runner soon to embark on a marathon race. Nutrition is meant to nourish you and balance is key. 

While I used to be an advocate for the night before the race carbo load, I’ve since adopted the strategy of carbo loading 48 hours before a race then leaning more towards lean protein the night before. I feel less lethargic and full on the start line this way than when I carbo loaded the night prior. The night before protein rebuilds muscles, while 48 hours out I still get the carb benefits for race day. But as I mentioned, everyone has their own system, needs and preferences along with what they can physically tolerate. 

Much like new gear, you don’t want to be trying something new on race day, just stick to what you know. It’s important to pay close attention to what time your race starts, not just from a practice standpoint in training, but to allow yourself enough time in the morning to get up, eat, and digest. You’ll also want to make sure you’re hydrating and consuming carbohydrates as the body’s quickest and main source of energy. As alluded to, this can be overdone so be careful but the general recommendation is a maximum of 1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram in body weight times the number of hours before exercise.  

Before the race is a good time to practice race day nutrition strategies when you’re out crushing your long run. Here’s where you can find out if you can stomach energy gels or chews or if you’re more of a sports drink kind of person. Most traditional sports drinks tend to be loaded with sugar so if you have the time and ability, you can try making your own. I’ve found that the Endurance Fuel powder from Tailwind Nutrition works wonders, as advertised, no gut bombs. They also have recovery powder as well but that’s more relevant for the post-run and post-race nutrition. As far as energy chews, some come packed with a little extra caffeine than others, both cross brand and within the same brand as well. It’s important to pay attention because while some like the extra kick of the caffeine, others may be more sensitive to caffeine and can have stomach problems because of too much caffeine intake. With gels, you can generally take one at the start of the race and then again every 30-45 minutes during the race. You can adopt the same timeline for sports drinks or even consume a little more often, as often as every 15 minutes if keeping to no more than 4-8 ounces.

Intra-Race Nutrition

Fueling strategies have also evolved and developed over time as more products make their way to shelves and give runners more options than ever before. While the go-to strategy originally was fast acting carbohydrates, it has since morphed into an emphasis of slow acting carbohydrates or a combination of fast and slow acting. The fast-acting carbohydrate strategy made sense at the time.  Your blood glucose falls naturally after 2-4 hours and given that you’re running at least that long if not longer during a marathon, quick fuel makes sense given the natural decrease within that time frame. 

By intaking chews, gels and sports drinks during the race, you’re also bringing some blood back to your GI tract.  The fact that your blood moves from your GI tract to your working muscles while you run is often why your GI tract may be extra sensitive. 

Slow acting carbohydrates are a little more generous to your gut as blood glucose levels are maintained a little more steadily compared to the spikes of fast acting carbohydrates. Factor in that your brain triggers insulin to ensure your blood glucose doesn’t get too high and you have all hands on deck as you make your way towards the marathon finish line. The combo strategy of fast and slow acting carbs for marathon fueling brings the best of both worlds. For most of the race, you use the slow acting strategy then add fast acting carbohydrates in the last 30-45 minutes of the race. You have steady energy for the bulk of the race and avoid the GI issues found with the fast-acting carbohydrates but then get the big energy burst in the homestretch. 

To review a comparison of popular gels on the market, check out this article: Comparing Popular Running Gels

So many options!

Post-Race Nutrition

While often a little harder to get down, especially immediately following the race, protein is the top source for rebuilding muscles after being torn down and put through the ringer. Consuming protein right after a run helps with the recovery process. That’s when you could consider finding more palatable options like the Tailwind recovery powder or a shake. Not everyone can stomach them though and if presented with whole food options, always opt for that over supplements. Even then, many runners have a hard time getting anything down immediately following a run and need some time for things to settle. Besides, if you’ve just been consuming gels and chews for the past 4 hours or so, the last thing you’d probably be feeling like is a shake.  This may not be practical or worth it immediately following the race but you want to make sure you at least get something into your system within that anabolic window that lasts for about 30 minutes after finishing. This often looks like a banana with some peanut butter, which is a good protein source. Chocolate milk has long been a go-to for many but if the lactose puts you off or is something you physically can’t do, there are various milk alternatives in addition to sports drinks to top off your electrolyte stores. The key here is to not wait too long before fueling post-race. Like all the other categories, everyone has their own preferences, it is just a matter of finding what works best for you. 


To reiterate, just like how there is no one-size-fits-all marathon training program, there is no cookie cutter one-size-fits-all marathon fueling strategy either. Through experimentation in training, you can find the fuels and strategies that work best for you while keeping in mind the general principles for good nutrition and more specifically, good marathon nutrition. With the sheer number of products available to runners looking for a marathon fuel source, it can be almost overwhelming but on the bright side, it leads to a surplus of options as you determine what keeps you running and what gets you across that finish line.

brian comer running coach

Brian Comer is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with him, check out his coach profile.

brian comer running coach

What is Base Building for Runners with Coach Brian Comer

What is Base Building?

When it comes to running, base building is often characterized by lots of easy running with some strides to maintain footspeed as a reintroduction into run training following a break. It is often incorporated at the beginning of a training cycle as a means to get back into the flow of training without doing too much too soon. Intensity stays low as the mileage gradually goes up. As a rule of thumb, mileage and intensity should rarely if ever be increased simultaneously as doing so can raise the risk of injury. Likewise, when starting a base building phase, one doesn’t immediately jump back to the mileage level they held at the peak or towards the end of their previous cycle. It is a gradual buildup that usually spans the course of a few weeks. 

As the name suggests, base building is intended to build a base, or in the case of distance running, to build one’s aerobic engine. This is due to distance running being largely aerobic in nature. But while base building does principally seek to boost a runner’s endurance, it can also train your central nervous system and improve muscular strength. While one may feel inclined to boost mileage during this phase, this can often be counterproductive. If one feels the need to increase training load, implementing cross training and strength training could work better as you’re likely coming off a period of either active rest or complete rest. 

Generally, more experienced runners can not only sustain higher mileage, but they can also get away with having a shorter duration for base building. This article will seek to not only dissect what base building is but also offer suggestions for how to do so, bearing in mind that not all runners are the same and thus, there is no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all template.

Key Considerations

As mentioned in the intro, what base building looks like for one runner might not be what it looks like for another. While base building consistently calls for stacking easy, steady miles, it is imperative that all runners program it into their training cycle. It is the adaptations made in base building that help you absorb the harder training that is set to come.  Base building isn’t necessarily sexy and can seem monotonous and boring at times, but it pays off in the long run as you embark on the goals you have set in the coming training cycle. Strides during base building can help break up the monotony while scratching the itch for some fast running as you maintain basic footspeed. These are all truths that can be applied to a runner’s base building phase, regardless of experience, PRs, and prior training history. 

As for the differences, base building looks different depending on factors like prior training history, what goal events you’re training for in the upcoming cycle, and injury history. As you’d suspect, injury prone runners should be mindful of not using the lack of intensity to ramp up the volume. Running is a high impact sport and without proper preparation, you run the risk of not being able to handle that impact. With appropriate base training (running and strength training), the body can adapt to the impact by strengthening muscles, bones, and joints.  Regardless of varying training histories, a runner who is planning to focus on the 5k in their upcoming training cycle won’t have the same base building phase as a runner who intends to focus on the marathon. This is due to the difference in demands and priorities for each event. Even removing special considerations for the marathon, having the target race as a longer distance calls for more training volume throughout the program, base building included. Also, it is never too early to factor in what type of course you’ll be running in your goal race and homing in on the specific training needs it presents. Is it on the trails or the roads? Hilly or flat? These are all questions that can be answered and applied early on in your training, even during the base phase. 

How Long Should I Base Build?

When discussing training history, it dives deeper into the question of how long one should build a base. While experienced runners can get away with a shorter base phase, a minimum duration for all runners to consider would be to follow a base building phase for 4 weeks. McMillan Running even offers a suggestion of an even longer base phase, broken into two, 4–8-week increments. The first 4-8 weeks being the mileage base and the second 4-8 weeks comprising the workout base. The mileage base is exactly what everyone thinks of when they think of base building, where a runner is either going back up to a previous training load or building up to a new one. The workout base is a way to get prepared for the faster running that typically follows the base plan Likewise, if you’re coming off a lengthier break, say for an injury, then it would suit you best to have a longer base phase than if you had been healthy and taken a more standard break following the end of your last training cycle. Going back to the earlier point on goal events, the longer your goal event, the longer the base phase. 

What does it all mean?

There are well known hallmarks to base building in distance running that apply to everyone. The stacking of mileage and strides to maintain basic footspeed to reiterate a couple, but it is in the differences that tell a runner what they really need to know. Nobody knows you or your needs as well as you do so you’ll be your own best judge as far as what the base phase will look like for you. Just because something worked well for you in the past doesn’t mean it’ll work as well again. Our bodies require change in order to adapt and grow and by doing the same thing over and over again, you may be stunting your growth as a runner. The distance you’re focusing on in the upcoming cycle might not be the same as the previous cycle or you may be coming off a longer break due to nursing an injury. These are all factors that should dictate how you proceed with building your running base in order to determine how to best build your foundation and tackle the goals you have set for the season ahead.

brian comer running coach

Brian Comer is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about him or to work with Brian, check out his coach profile.

Off-Season Training for Runners

This article will answer:

  • What is the off-season?
  • Myths about taking an off season.
  • Why is an off-season important?
  • How to train during the off-season.

What is the off season:

Off-season is a time where training intensity and volume are reduced. For many runners this is between races or goals. It’s a phase in running that can last a couple of weeks to a couple of months, but there is no set duration. The duration and level of activity during an offseason are often determined by the upcoming season, but also by the previous season. The off-season is used to recover mentally and physically, as well as to reflect on the past season, and to plan for the next. 

Characteristics of the off-season include: 

  • Substantial reduction in training volume and intensity
  • Mental break
  • Rest
  • Skill/formwork
  • Goal setting
  • Structure training plans for the upcoming season
  • Cross-training
  • Assessing strengths and weaknesses
  • Trying out new equipment/clothing/shoes 

Myths about taking an off-season

“I will lose my fitness”– There have been many studies on detraining and training cycles. Studies have found that even after 2-4 weeks of inactivity the decline in Vo2max was about 6%, which is deemed insignificant (Coyle et al., 1986).

“I am running great, why change anything?”– Anything can feel good until it doesn’t. Training plans are designed to have peak moments and moments of recovery. Taking a planned recovery phase is important for your training plan to be most effective. 

“I won’t know what to do without my training plan”– Off-season training doesn’t mean you need to throw all planning out the window. You just need to listen to your body, and structure a different kind of plan. Many coaches help their athletes with a plan for their off season.  

Why is an off-season important?

There are a number of reasons for the off-season – here are a few. The off-season is used to reflect and to plan for your next season. You can use this time to plan your race calendar, work on weaknesses and develop an effective training plan. Mental burnout can occur for some runners and the off-season is a good time to rest, reflect, and find new motivation. Our bodies also need rest and the off-season is a great way to ensure that your body is getting the most out of training overtime by ensuring adequate rest. An off-season can also help to prevent overuse injuries and can allow for rehab of injuries acquired during the previous season. By taking an off-season, you’re setting yourself up for success in the next season. . 

How to train during the off-season

The intensity and volume should be lower during the off-season but that does not have to mean no running. Some runners will take some time off of running depending on how their season went and how much recovery is needed, while others may simply reduce their mileage and intensity. It is recommended that runners still maintain a healthy diet and exercise at least  3-4 times a week during off-season. 

When planning your off-season training it is important to evaluate your past running season and the plan you followed. 

  • After a rough season (A season troubled with injuries and aches, both minor and major ones included, or one with some mental burnout.) Training should include time off of running to heal the body and mind. Sometimes this may include time without any workouts if needed and then one to four weeks of low impact cross training such as cycling, rowing, swimming, or elliptical. Strength and mobility exercises can be added as well to work on strengthening weaker areas and rehab any injuries. Shorter easy effort runs can be added once the body and mind are feeling more recovered. Running drills can be added to ensure your form doesn’t get lazy with the easier efforts. The training plan should be reevaluated to see what can be changed to reduce mental burnout and injuries. 
  • After a so-so season (not an awful season but not an awesome season either) Training may include several weeks of easy effort, shorter running workouts. This will allow your body to  recover from the racing season and adapt to a lighter workload. Running drills can be added to ensure your form doesn’t get lazy with the reduced efforts. Low impact cross training should be added to keep training fresh and offer ability for moderate to high intensity workouts with less impact on the body. This time can be used to evaluate your training plan to see what can be added and tweaked to improve your next racing season. 
  • After a good season (a season where physically and mentally you felt strong, accomplished or got close to meeting your goals) Training may include several weeks of shorter, easy runs to allow time to recover from intense training and then can progress to a mix of varied intensity run workouts such as hills, intervals, fartleks, tempo and easy runs. Mileage will stay pretty steady to allow for quicker recovery after workouts. Running drills can be added to ensure your form doesn’t get lazy with the easier efforts. Low impact cross training, strength and mobility should all be parts of off-season training to keep things fresh and balanced. It is important to think of your priorities for next season to ensure you focus your training properly moving forward. 

Off-season is a great time to work on setting goals for the next season, look at your nutrition plan, sleep, develop some mental toughness, and simply deal with the daily stresses of life!  You may want to consult with a dietician, physical therapist, or mindset coach to optimize your plan for the next season. This is also a great time to work with your running coach (or to  hire one!) to help build out the plans for your next big running adventures! And once you are ready to resume training you should feel confident in your routine and plan. You’ll be healthy, with a strong and rested mind, and you’ll be ready to tackle newer and bigger challenges ahead.

Victoria Williams is a coach with Team RunRun. To work with her or to learn more about her, check out her coach profile.

Keeping your Run Mental Game Strong

Off-Season Soul-Searching for the Runner

While many of us are wholly acclimated to running long, grueling miles, and we’ve all had our grit, determination, and mental strength tested in ways non-runners can never fully understand, winter running is a beast of a sport unto itself. One that tests even the most experienced, hardened runners, and one that requires a little patience, a tolerance for discomfort, and the ability to think outside of the traditional training box. Subzero temps see a rise in cross-training runners; weights are dusted off, Peloton shoes are brought out of hibernation, and runners limber up in weekend yoga classes as they stare longingly out at the blustery cold and sheets of ice.

Though these icy conditions and serious snow drifts can make getting your miles in challenging, if not downright impossible, there are other opportunities to be had during the off-season. Even the most intense winter cross-training schedule is likely to be lighter than the average runner’s regular training log, leaving more time for….what, exactly? Reading? Catching up on a woefully neglected Netflix line-up? Or perhaps this relative abundance of free time during the running off-season is the ideal time for some soul-searching. A time for discovering – or rediscovering – your purpose as a runner.

Soul-searching is an awfully lofty term. Start throwing around words like “purpose” at the gym and you may be accused of being pretentious and out-of-touch. Fair? Perhaps. But spending some time really thinking about your why can have a lasting impact on your health and happiness.

As a coach, I have lost count of the number of runners I’ve talked to who discovered running at some point in their adult lives and feel compelled to train for a race because it’s just what you do as a runner. Now, there is NOTHING wrong with running goals that are race-focused. Having a specific target – both in terms of distance and date – can be incredibly motivating and provide a tremendous confidence boost once completed. But we can’t all live in a continuous ebb-and-flow of training cycles – or at least, our bodies will eventually protest if we do. And eventually, as with any cycle of work and reward, the reward loses its luster after a while and crossing that finish line becomes mundane. So, when we take away the bells-and-whistles of racing, what are we left with?

Personally, my big race days are behind me. I rarely race anymore, and when I do, it’s a low-key local race or a trail race I can do with my brother. Contrary to what I recommend to my clients, I run every single day without fail, averaging 10-12 miles/day. I do this because my running purpose has become clear to me over the years. Not only am I a better mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee, coach when I’ve taken that time for my physical and mental health, I have my best brainstorms for my coaching business – and life in general – while I’m running. And, at the risk of sounding arrogant, I know that many of my friends and neighbors are inspired by my dedication and willpower; in a sense, I run daily because we all need a little continuity and consistency in life. If I can be that source of consistency for even a few people, then I have done my little part in this world. And for some people, seeing me find time in my busy schedule to run 10 miles every single day is the inspiration (or guilt-trip?) they need to take some time for their daily self-care, too.

So take these colder months and challenge yourself in a different way. Keep the cross-training up, log those cold-toed miles when you can, but carve out some time to really consider why you started running – and why you keep running (and no, an excuse to eat more pie at Thanksgiving is NOT an acceptable answer). At the core of this process are fundamental questions you must ask yourself about your what, why, and how.

  • What are my talents, my strengths, my gifts?
  • Why do I push myself to be a better person, a more fulfilled person? Is it for myself, for my kids, another family member? What is my BIG goal in life, how I envision myself in 10, 20, 30 years?
  • How can I become this best version of myself?

Most importantly, be fully honest with yourself. There are no right or wrong answers here; we all bring something of equal – if different – importance to the table. And there’s no time like the present to figure out exactly what your why is.

arlington running coach

Kate Marden is a coach with Team RunRun. To work with Kate or to learn more about her, check out her coach profile.

What is Run Specific Core Training?

In 2008, Canadian Triathlete Carolyn Murray finally realized her dream of being selected for the Olympic triathlon team. Murray was often in the lead pack off the bike. However, despite being an excellent runner, she would fade during the run. After trying many strategies, Carolyn tried something different altogether. She doubled down on her core training. I recall her explaining that it was her stronger core, not more speed work or volume, that was the difference maker. She said her body could hold it together, maintaining a faster pace, as fatigue set in near the later stages of the race. 

This feel-good story always stuck with me. As an undergrad in kinesiology, it was exciting to see the relevance of a sound core training program start to be embraced amongst endurance athletes. Back then and still today, many endurance athletes fear strength training, including core training, thinking it will waste time or worse, reduce performance by creating large, bulky muscles. Done correctly and efficiently, this could not be further from the truth. 

Despite run training progressions, studies found that novice runners do not improve run techniques for greater efficiency or reduced risk of injury. 

They still showed a greater increase in trunk inclination (bending forward at the waist) and increased ankle eversion as the runners became fatigued.  Research indicates that poor core endurance can reduce your ability to maintain a trunk position, negatively affecting run kinematics. These trunk changes reduce run efficiency and increase risk of injury, indicating that core strength and endurance must especially be addressed. 

It is often said that every action each step we take is initiated from the core. It is often said that power comes from the core. When good technique is used during running or daily tasks, power is often generated through the hips and is transmitted through a stiffened or “braced” core. Lesser known or discussed, the core more often functions to prevent motion rather than initiating it, stabilizing and protecting the body. A “functionally strong core” is essential for injury prevention and optimal performance. 

What is the Core? 

We are not just talking abs here! Core encompasses your entire back, abdominal wall muscles, and glutes. It also includes your latissimus dorsi and psoas muscles, linking your core to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms. You can essentially think of the core as everything aside from your limbs. Ideally, the muscles work together to create spinal stabilization, called “core bracing.” 

Unlike your limb muscles, your core muscles often co-contract, stiffening your torso so all muscles become synergists in your running and daily life activities. This is important, and this is the reason why training your core needs to be done differently than your limbs to be the most effective. 

Core and Run Performance

Is core training going to increase your V02max? Likely not. It will, however, improve something that may be more beneficial: running economy.  

Core endurance is a very important part of run training, as it helps to maintain an efficient trunk position. Studies have demonstrated that core stability training improves running performance. One of the reasons is, yep “core bracing!” With core bracing, the body becomes stiffer to accept the foot impact. 

Core endurance is especially important during long distance and/or high intensity running, as muscle fatigue is greater. Research aside, essentially every triathlete and runner I have seen with dysfunction, injury, and frustrating performance has had insufficient core strength and endurance, especially regards to spinal stability. Just look at a runner who is running, bent over. That was me when I started running! Not only does the bent over runner reduce one’s ability for oxygen exchange, the kinematics change, causing inefficiency and greater stress on the spine, hips, and knees. But this can be improved with a little consistent training. In the Ogaya study, for example, runners significantly improved their trunk muscular endurance after four weeks of training, three times per week. Their hip range increased, which can effectively open-up the stride, and angles of their lower limb angles improved, reducing risk of injury. 

How To Effectively Train the Core? 

Should you be doing sit-ups? Crunches? Isolating the obliques? Negative. 

In fact, doing repeated spine flexion (ie situps and endless crunches) are training the muscles in a manner they are rarely used, and performing numerous situps may increase risk of spinal disc injury. McGill, renowned spinal expert, states that “focusing on a single muscle generally does not enhance stability but creates patterns that when quantified result in less stability.” Your core is like a team: Together Everyone Achieves More. Effectively training the core means training all the muscles to work together.

The best way is to train the less glorified muscles. We are not talking 6-pack abs here, rather the deep pelvic and spinal stability muscles, referred often as “control exercises.” Exercises that truly enhance spinal stabilization are the exercises encouraging stiffening of the entire core musculature. The best way is also to include exercises that transfer into running, called “dynamic correspondence exercises.”  Dynamic correspondence exercises enhance movement patterns and other components of fitness to prepare you in the best way for your sport.

Three Core Exercises

Here are three great exercises for the runner toolbox that will improve your core strength / trunk stability specifically for running. Although I am also a fan of weight bearing core exercises (i.e. various offset carries), I chose these exercises as they do not require equipment, can be done anywhere, anytime, and are a great foundation to build on.  The dead bug and bird dog exercises especially mimic similar running movement patterns: Alternating mobility in one leg and stability in the other leg, along with opposing arm movements while core bracing, making these excellent dynamic correspondence exercises. 

Try and keep your training program simple, effective, and efficient for more energy and time to be spent doing what we love: Running!

  1. Glute Bridge Variations

Why: Promotes the correct firing sequence pattern of: Engaging your glutes before your hamstrings and lower back. This enhances your ability to produce greater force and reduces risk of injury. So common in runners, hip flexors, back stabilizers, and other smaller muscles take on the roll of the glutes if they are not firing properly. The hamstring muscles can take over too much of the burden as well, extending the hips instead of what should be – the glutes. Over time, without the correct firing sequence, this can lead to overly tight muscles and negatively affects your stride.

How to (Figure 4 Glute Bridge Demo Link): 

Lay on your back with feet approximately hip width apart or a little wider, perform a very mild pelvic tilt (just a couple inches or so for a “neutral spine”) and focus on squeezing your glutes. This is super important. We can easily use our back muscles to compensate and just power through this exercise, changing the glute bridge exercise from beneficial to detrimental. Sometimes literally placing a finger on your side glute helps to activate the right muscle group. 

Cross your arms over your chest to reduce the help from your upper body, and slowly lift up. Breathe out on the way up, breathe in as you return to starting position.  There are many glute bridge variations. Please see demo links to a variation that does not require any equipment and will facilitate a hip stretch at the same time.   

Keep movements slow and deliberate. If you are experiencing fatigue before your desired reps are up, stop.  Done correctly, you likely will not lift up all that high and should feel your butt burning. Feel the burn!

Sets and reps: Try 10-12 repetitions per side, 2-3 sets, 2-3 x week. This is a general guideline only and will vary per athlete. Again, if fatigue sets in and you are losing form, stop. It is better to do 5 good repetitions versus 10 bad ones.

  1. Dead Bug Exercise

Why:  The dead bug is an excellent exercise for runners! It resembles motor skill patterning used in running. The dead bug is a control exercise. You are teaching your body to control and stabilize your trunk- essentially reinforcing a stiff and stable trunk and pelvis – while your limbs are moving. 

How to: Dead Bug Demo Link Here

Lay on your back with knees bent approximately hip width apart and your arms raised in the air directly above your shoulders. Bring both legs up, with your hips and knees flexed at approximately 90o. Your knees should be directly above your hips, with your ankles dorsiflexed (opposite of pointing your toes, pull them back), and your lower back in a “neutral position”. 

From this position, slowly lower the right leg, maintaining approximately 90o flexion and touch the ground briefly with your toes. Bring your right leg up, and alternate with the left leg. Repeat for desired reps or until you get fatigued. Advanced versions include extending the leg out instead of touching the ground, and the very advanced version includes extending the leg out while simultaneously pulling your opposite arm away from the leg.

You should be performing this in a slow and controlled manner, breathing in as you start the movement and breathing out upon returning to start position. 

It is vital that you maintain a neutral spine, it should not change during the exercise. For a neutral spine: perform a very slight pelvic tilt or you can think of gently pressing your ribs into the ground, “keeping your rib cage down.” Don’t overdo the pelvic tilt though, another common mistake! If you are not sure about this, a friend can help. He or she could place a resistance band under your lower back and gently try pulling the band out as you are doing the exercise and if he/she can’t pull it out, then you are keeping the neutral position. If you are on your own, you can try placing a small rolled up towel under your low back to start. 

Tips: If you feel your back losing its neutral spine, try doing less reps or a lower-level dead bug. Examples: dead bug breathing- in start position, breathe deeply 3-5 times then relax and reset. Or, shortening your lever (ie touch the ground closer to your butt with knees at a greater flexion). 

Remember, dead bug is a control exercise. If you see people using weight and/or powering through quickly doing tons of reps, don’t be tempted. As in most of these, they are a great exercise performed incorrectly and for the wrong reasons. Done correctly, you should really engage your lower abdominal (pelvic region) muscles, even just getting into the ready position. Remember to move slowly and thoughtfully! 

Sets and reps: Try 8-12 repetitions per side, 2-3 sets, 2-3 x week. Again, this is a general guideline only and will vary per athlete. Remember, if fatigue sets in and you are losing form, stop. Start with fewer reps or the modified versions mentioned. 

3. Bird Dog Exercise

Why: The bird dog is another control exercise that emphasizes core bracing while moving limbs, making it an excellent exercise for runners!

How To: Bird Dog Demo Link Here

Start all fours in “table-top position” (knees under hips and hands under shoulders). Press your hands firmly into the ground and while maintaining a neutral spine, slowly extend one leg out with opposite arm, then the other side, keeping your hips stable. This means keeping your hips square, and not allowing one hip to shift. This is the most important part of the exercise.  

I would start with arms only, progress to legs only, then finally the opposites once the previous variations become fairly easy. You can also add a band for resistance. However, be careful not to overload yourself and change your mechanics. Remember: The most important part is to keep your spine and hips stable. If one side is dropping, then you are defeating the purpose. Remember: Core bracing!

Sets and reps: Recommend 5-6 repetitions per side, 2-3 sets, 2x week. As with all, use the modifications best suited to your ability, stop and reset if you are fatiguing and losing form.

Word of caution:

If you have back problems or are experiencing back pain with any of these exercises, stop and see your health care practitioner. 

A Little Goes a Long Way

Including a few simple exercises consistently can make a positive impact on your running, both in terms of performance and injury resilience. Doing these exercises consistently – i.e. 3 times per week for less than 10 minutes – is a better payoff versus one big session per week. You can do these before a run, after your warmup, or within your strength and stretching sessions. 

Incorporate some specific core training consistently and enjoy the benefits. Run on!

Tammy Kovaluk is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

The Ins and Outs of Tapering

Runners working toward a half marathon and particularly a marathon or longer often hear talk about tapering. They know it means they should decrease their mileage and scale back their workouts as the race gets closer; however, many runners avoid tapering because they fear it will negatively affect their race-day performance. Even when runners do taper, many of them do not have a full understanding of why they should taper, much less how they should taper. 


In general terms, tapering is a gradual reduction in training load. It focuses on adjusting the volume and intensity of training in preparation for an upcoming race to allow the runner to peak at the right time. It is most associated with longer races, from half-marathon to ultra but can happen to a smaller degree before shorter races. Recreational runners who do taper tend to focus most on tapering before marathon distances and longer, although some taper before half-marathons as well. However, studies have shown that most (64%) recreational runners tend to either not taper or not have a disciplined approach to their taper, which can negatively affect their race day performance. 


Many runners are afraid of tapering because they think it will negatively affect their race-day performance. However, the opposite is actually true. Tapering allows the body to start to go into a recovery mode of sorts, where the decreased training load helps reduce the physical and psychological stressors it endured during many weeks of tough training.  This recovery mode will allow the body to replenish your glycogen stores, revamp your immune system, and improve enzyme and hormone levels. The body has been taken to the limit during training, and the taper is designed to rebuild and re-energize it and get the athlete ready for race day.

Many studies have shown that race-day performance typically improves by about 3% when a taper is implemented. What better reason can an athlete have to taper than this? This improvement in performance is due to positive changes in the majority of body systems due to the decrease in training stress. Few fitness gains are made during this process. It is more of a way to allow the body to rest and prepare itself for optimal performance. 


Even when runners do taper, many know very little about exactly how they should go about it. There is a fine line between tapering too little and too much, and this line can be different for each person. However, there are general guidelines that everyone can follow and then tweak based on their own experiences. 

Most studies have suggested that it is optimal to maintain the training intensity during tapering (i.e. continue to run marathon pace tempo runs or appropriate speedwork), while training volume (i.e weekly and long-run mileage) is decreased significantly over the taper time and frequency (i.e. number of training sessions/week) is also usually maintained. It has also been suggested that consistent progressive tapers (i.e. where the training volume is gradually decreased by a certain percentage each week) are associated with better marathon finish-time results for recreational runners than a less disciplined taper (i.e. where volume is decreased one week but then increased the next). There are other ways to decrease the training volume but most studies seem to suggest that a progressive reduction in volume produces the best results. As far as length, multiple studies suggest 4-28 days as the optimal taper length, depending on the distance of the race. A meta-analysis found that the 2 week taper was optimal for competitive athletes before a marathon, while another study on recreational runners found a 3 week taper was optimal for this group. 

While tapering is a science, it is also an art. The art lies in finding the right balance of decreasing the volume to the amount that allows the body to recover while not decreasing it too much that it goes into full-on rest mode and the benefits of the recovery are lost. Too short of a taper will not allow the body to reap the benefits of full-system replenishment, where too long or quick of a taper will lead to a de-training effect, such as when an athlete takes time off when the season is over. 

There are various plans and suggestions for tapering that suggest the best percentage to decrease the overall volume and the long run volume each week. The meta-analysis mentioned above found that a reduction in volume by 41-60% was optimal for competitive runners. Again, this is a rather large range so there is definitely an art to finding the best range for each athlete. Some plans suggest fully resting 2-3 days before a marathon, while others significantly reduce mileage during race week, but suggest a very easy 2-3 miles before race day to promote better sleep and stress relief. 

This is where working with a coach can be beneficial. It will allow a runner to have assistance in knowing their training plan and how their body responds to help design the best taper for the individual. That being said, there is some trial and error, even when all the research is used. If optimal results were not achieved with one design, it is beneficial to try another design for the next race. 

The research is abundant on the fact that tapering is beneficial to race day performance. There are also many studies that suggest ranges of optimal taper length and the best way to progressively reduce mileage. However, there is no one formula that has been found to do this that fits every runner out there. In the end, like many aspects of running, it can be said that the science behind tapering is sound but that the art of tapering is individual to each runner. 

Carrie Neiman is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Does it Matter how I Tie my Running Shoes?

In addition to coaching I work as a floor manager at a family-owned run specialty shop. We put the shoes on and take them off for customers and tie them as well. I can tell you that when a customer insists on tying their own shoe I usually have to sit on my hands, and sometimes I have to close my eyes, because lacing is such an important part of how they experience the shoe.

In fact, how shoes are tied is so important that we usually spend a good chunk of training practicing tying shoes. So let’s talk about why the way you tie your shoes is important, and then a few tricks you can use in your lacing to solve common issues.

General Lacing

To talk about lacing I first need to talk about a properly fitted shoe. Your running shoe should be snug in the midfoot, a slight slip in the heel is ok but it shouldn’t feel like it’s coming off your foot, and you want room to wiggle your toes. When standing with your toes on the ground (not lifted towards the top of the shoe to see where they are) you should have a half to a full thumb width in the front of your shoe. And do you know what makes that midfoot hold the shoe securely on your foot? You guessed it, the way you lace. 

There are lots of nerves and blood vessels running on the top of your foot. The key is to make sure that the lacing is not so loose that the shoe slips around, but also not so tight that we’re cutting off circulation. I have seen people, typically men of retirement age, who will literally loop the laces around their hands and pull as hard as they can. That is too tight.

You also want to make sure that the laces are uniform the entire way up. You do this by starting at the base of the laces and tugging there and then moving up eyelet by eyelet. If you just pull at the top you’ll have loops of loose laces at the bottom and potentially too snug of a fit at the top. Here’s a video demonstrating proper lacing. 

Special Tricks

Laces dictate the snugness of the shoe, and this snugness can vary slightly based on the tension you put on each section. However, with certain shoe issues there are some lacing tricks that can help immensely.

There are times you may need more space in the front of your shoe. Maybe your forefoot is wider, maybe your toes are swollen during an ultra, or maybe you have a black toenail. To give this extra space you can simply take your laces out and then re-lace your shoe skipping the first set of eyelets.

This trick allowed a friend of mine to run Western States with a broken toe. A few weeks later she also finished the Tevis Cup 100 mile horse race with the broken toe, riding the horse who had stepped on and broke said toe weeks earlier. 

Sometimes you may have pain on the top of your foot that is irritated by the laces passing over it. There are also cases where people may have an extremely high instep, a bony protrusion on the top of their foot, etc. In these cases skip-lacing can be effective. It is exactly what it sounds like, you lace up to just below the affected area, and skip to the eyelets above the area. This allows the shoe over the area to be looser, while still snugging it around your foot.

Finally, there are times when a shoe slips too much in the heel, but fits well in the rest of the foot. In these cases, you can either do drop lacing or a runner’s knot. For drop lacing you simply use the top eyelet that is further back. This grabs the ankle material further back and snugs it around the heel more).

If you still feel that the heel is slipping too much you can try a runner’s knot. For this, using the top two eyelets of the shoe you go up through the front eyelet and down through the back eyelet, creating a loop. You then cross the laces and drop them down through the loops. Then use a sawing motion to tighten the laces down. Check out this video to learn more.  One word of caution with the runner’s knot is that it can be easy to get too much tension and put unwanted pressure on the tendon in the front of your foot.

To recap, it is important to lace your shoes properly. It’s essential to getting the right fit for your running shoes, and in some cases can help fix issues that you’re having with your shoe or foot. There is a rumor that Lebron James spends 15 minutes before basketball games getting the right tension on how his shoes are laced. As a runner it’s well worth a few minutes to get our lacing done right! 

phoenix running coach deserae clarke

Des Clarke is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Gear Guide Inclusive of All Sizing

What types of clothes should one look for as a runner? Can a runner just grab anything from the closet and head out for a run? Ideally, yes. Wearing clothes that are comfortable is the best place to start while running. As one starts to run more, they may find that those everyday sweats are a little too heavy to run in, or that cotton tee is causing more chafing than preferred. Clothing for running is lightweight and designed to move with your body and is designed not to chafe. Running gear is generally made with technical fabrics to hold up for more cycles in the wash. The fabrics used are usually nylon, wool, or polyester. These fabrics allow running in cold weather to keep runners dry and warm, and in the summer they wick away sweat, keeping you dry and preventing chafing. Women will also need to look for supportive sports bras for running. Sports bras should fit comfortably and not be stretched out. For some general advice on essential runner gear, check out this Team RunRun article. In this article, we’re going to focus on gear that is inclusive of all sizing. 

Inclusive sizing

Runners come in all shapes and sizes and some sizes are harder to find than others in proper athletic apparel. Inclusive sizing is a new trend in retail, and one of the largest trends to emerge. Clothing before this trend would come in sizes small to extra large and anything larger than extra-large would be labeled plus sized and put in a separate section. The average American woman is a size 16 (waist size 36 to 38 inches) and the average American man’s waist size is 38 to 40 inches. Body acceptance and the realization that there is health at every size has created this trend in society and clothing retail has finally started to follow. Athletes come in all shapes and sizes as well. Below is a list (in no particular order) of brands that support inclusion of all sizes and the sizes that they carry. 


Women’s clothing size xs to 3x

Bra sizes 28-42, cup size A-D

Oiselle is an athletic clothing brand for women made by women. Their mission is to bring in community and make athletic gear for all women of any pace and place; “Our mission is threefold: Make great product, improve the sport, and build the sisterhood.” Most of their clothing has pockets, they are anti-chafe, comfortable and are true to size. 


Women’s clothing size xxs to 3x

Bra sizes 30-44, cup size A-DD

Athleta is a branch from the clothing brand GAP. Their mission is “to ignite a community of active, healthy, confident women and girls who empower each other to reach their limitless potential.” They have true athletic clothing, quality apparel that will not chafe, is comfortable, and is true to size. 

Old Navy Activewear

Men and Women’s clothing size xs to 3x- Tall sizing available

Bra sizes 30-50, cup size A-DDD

Old Navy is another branch of the clothing brand Gap. They carry both men and women’s sizing and make tall clothing, which is 2-3 inches longer than the regular size. Their mission is “to ensure the world runs right by creating a better tomorrow for future generations through our Imagine Mission’s three pillars: inclusivity, opportunity and sustainability.” Old navy has a variety of activewear perfect for runners. They are a more affordable brand with a slightly shorter lifetime of clothes. 

Superfit Hero

Womens clothing size Large to 7x

Bra sizes Large to 7XL(39-71)

SuperFit Hero is a womens clothing line that supports fitness being for every body. “We move. We Play. We celebrate our bodies without apology.” They have worked to phase out their small and medium sized clothing in favor of extending their largest size to a 7x.  The CEO Micki Krimmel made the change after years of research on the needs of extended sizing for athletes. Her mission is to help athletes of any size feel welcome and not go through the struggles of trying on clothes with inconsistent sizing and lack of access to proper sizing. 

Girlfriend Collective

Women’s clothing size xxs to 6x

Bra sizes xxs to 6x (29-60.5)

Girlfriend Collective is an ethical manufacturing brand. They believe in using recycled materials and no waste. They believe health and wellness comes in many shapes and sizes. “We believe in being transparent, taking care of the people who make your clothes and never putting our bottom line before what’s best for the planet.” Their fabrics are high quality and all recycled. Guaranteed soft and comfortable and made with the highest quality to fabrics lightweight and chafe free. 


Men and Women’s Clothing size xs to 4x

Bra sizes xxs-4x (29-50)

Fabletics is an active wear company for men and women. They have a special VIP membership program and are geared towards making members completely satisfied with affordable products. They do market research every year to guarantee customer satisfaction. “Our mission = Our members”. Their aim is affordable pricing and high end clothing.


Womens clothing size xs to 6x

Bra sizes xs to 6x (30-60.5)

Yitty from fabletics is designed by three-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lizzo. Yitty is her lifelong dream come true. She has been working towards building size inclusive clothes based on the principles of self-love, radical inner confidence and effortless, everyday wear. The brand sells shapewear and some athletic gear. She wants women to look in the mirror and feel confident about how they look and what they wear. 


Mens and Women’s clothing size xs to 4x

Bra sizes 30-36, cup sizes A-G

Nike is an American multinational corporation and headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon. Their mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”. They are in support of the movement “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” They strive to make continual improvements on their line to keep up with athletes and sports. 


Everyone is born to move their body and find the movement that inspires them. Running is one of the most common forms of movement and the most simple to get started. Every body is a runner’s body and more brands are creating more sizes everyday to fit all shapes and sizes of athletes. The list above is just a start of brands that have inclusive sizing. Find the outfit that makes you feel comfortable and enjoy your run! You deserve it. 

Ashley Brush is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Nutrition Tips for Beginner Runners

So you just started running, how does your nutrition factor in?

As a runner there is so much information available that it is often difficult to figure out what things are most important that impact our training, recovery and how we feel in our daily lives. In this article we aim to outline how to think about fueling as a runner, and to make it as clear as possible! 


We can think of our daily requirements in terms of building blocks of carbohydrates,  protein, and fats. A general breakdown of daily intake is around 55-65% carbohydrates, 20-25% fats, and 15-20% proteins for most endurance athletes. 


Carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for working muscles. Current guidelines suggest that we consume between 3-10 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight every day. That is a huge range! The reason for this varied range depends on whether you’re exercising at a light, moderate, or hard intensity. 

This sounds clear and simple, but in reality, who counts carbs relative to body weight? There is an easier method to make sure you are consuming enough carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. It is called the Plate Method. Pick the plate below that matches your training for each day. 

  • Easy training day 
    • ½ plate colorful vegetables
    • ¼ plate carbohydrates
    • ¼ plate protein
  • Moderate training day 
    • ⅓ plate colorful vegetables
    • ⅓ plate carbohydrates
    • ⅓ plate protein
  • Hard training day or carb load prep
    • ¼ plate colorful vegetables
    • ½ plate carbohydrates
    • ¼ plate protein

Our muscles store energy from carbohydrates in the form of glycogen which is usually sufficient for an exercise duration of 90-120 minutes.  Once glycogen is depleted athletes will feel fatigue and experience a drop in performance. Carbohydrates need to be replaced generally after this time at the rate of 30-60 grams/hour for continued performance.  

Carbohydrates can be broken down into complex carbohydrates or simple carbohydrates. 

For runners a baseline daily intake of complex carbohydrates and use of simple carbs for fuel just prior or during a workout generally works best.

Fiber is very important as it helps to keep us full for longer, keeps our digestive tract healthy, helps lower the “bad” cholesterol to name a few of its benefits. If you are a morning runner, you will want to consume fiber later in the day. On the flip side, if you are an evening runner, consume your fiber much earlier in the day so it doesn’t interrupt your running. 

What’s the role of Protein in a Runner’s diet? 

As a runner the most optimal intake contains plenty but not excessive protein to build and repair muscle tissue, produce hormones, boost your immune system and help replace red blood cells. 

Protein has two different types – complete and incomplete. It is important for building strong bodies, helping develop muscle, and repairing bodily tissues. Complete proteins have the 9 essential amino acids that our body does not produce. Examples of complete protein are: fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products (milk, yogurt, or cheese), beef or pork, soy. 

Incomplete proteins are proteins that don’t include all 9 essential amino acids. Examples of incomplete proteins are:  nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans. 

If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, experts recommend you eat a variety of different proteins in the form of nuts, seeds, lentils, and whole grains on a daily basis so that you’re forming complete proteins in your diet through a combination. There are also a few sources of complete proteins that you can get from plants. Among them are quinoa, buckwheat, and hempseed, but you may not get the same amount of protein that you would get from animal sources for the same serving size. It is recommended that vegans consume 10% more protein than the general  recommendation, because plant proteins are not as readily digested. 

As runners we need slightly more protein than the general population to repair the small amounts of muscle damage that occur with training and to support the building of new muscle tissue. 


Fat is needed for a variety of reasons, such as helping the body absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), hormone regulation, and building tissue membranes. Fats digest slowly so it increases satiety.

About 20-35 percent of your total calories should come from healthy fats such as olive oil, peanut and nut butters, nuts, avocados, flaxseed, salmon, tuna and oily fish. 

Now we know the big picture building blocks of what to fuel your body with – Carbs, Proteins, and Fats. Now let’s dig into the details of when to consume these fuels in order to optimize your training. 


Before your Run

Plan to eat your meal 3-4 hours prior to running. Your meal should include quality carbohydrates (such as whole grain toast or overnight oats), and lean protein (such as eggs, peanut butter, or cottage cheese). It is important to keep consistent hydration throughout the day so you are properly hydrated for your run. 

Thirty minutes to 1 hour prior to your run, refuel with a quick snack that pairs protein and carbohydrate. Try applesauce and a mozzarella cheese stick, sliced cucumber with hummus, or crackers with peanut butter. Remember to drink 8-12 oz of fluid (water, sports drink) 1-2 hours before your run. 

During your Run

You will lose electrolytes, and utilize glycogen and protein during exercise. Replenishing these as best you can will improve your performance and are vital to continue on! Try “quick-acting carbohydrates” such as sports drinks/gels/beans, fruit snacks, or even bars during exercise. Your hydration is individualized depending on how much you sweat, but generally, you want your urine to be pale yellow in color. 

After  your run 

Within 30 minutes of your run it is important to refuel with protein in order to repair and build your muscle tissue (as well as re-energize you). Your post-run snack can be identical to your pre-workout snack (carb/protein pairing). Remember to re-hydrate! You want to take in 16-24 oz of water or sports drink for every pound lost during your run. 

2 hours after your run, it’s time to eat! Remember to include your lean protein, quality carbohydrate, and low fiber/fat composition. Try whole wheat pasta, chicken breast, and cooked asparagus mixed with pesto sauce for a quick and delicious meal.


Hydration is dependent upon sweat rate (more on that below!)  Average needs are 20-35 ounces of water/sport drink/electrolytes every hour. Sport drinks have 6-8% carbohydrate and can also help replace sodium and potassium. If the run is between 60-90 minutes, hydration can be with water only. For runs over 90 minutes (or if it is hot out), add a sports/electrolyte drink to replace those lost through sweat. 

How to Calculate Sweat Rate

  1. Determine body weight lost during exercise: Body weight before exercise minus body weight after exercise = pounds of water weight lost.
  2. Determine the fluid equivalent, in ounces, of the total weight lost during exercise: Pounds of water weight lost during exercise x 16  = ounces of additional fluid that should have been consumed to maintain fluid balance during the exercise session.
  3. Determine the actual fluid needs during an identical workout: Total fluid needs = ounces of fluid consumed + ounces of additional fluid needed to establish fluid balance.
  4. Determine the number of fluid ounces needed per hour of exercise: Total fluid needs / duration of exercise, in hours = number of fluid ounces needed per hour of exercise. 

Tips for Runners and Endurance Athletes:

Now that we know the basics about runner nutrition, nutrition timing, and hydration, let’s summarize with some quick nutrition tips to help you fuel your running journey. 

  • Eat frequent meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Do not skip meals
  • Include a quality carbohydrate, lean protein, and healthy fat with all meals and snacks to increase satiety.
  • Include vegetables and fruits with meals and snacks. 
  • Rely on water throughout the day and water/sports drinks during exercise.
  • Consume a post exercise snack as soon as possible (within 30 minutes) after training

Lastly, many people start out running as part of their weight loss or life transformation journeys. Sometimes this is successful, but sometimes weight loss does not occur with running. Sometimes runners actually gain weight. There are multiple causes and explanations for this. To learn more about running and weight loss, check out this article HERE

A good mindset around nutrition is to strive to achieve a good balance to support your running and active lifestyle. This should be a way of living and not a restrictive set of rules. Listen to your body as some days you may need more recovery, some days you may need more fuel but aim to fuel your running and life to stay healthy, have more energy and run faster longer. 

Further Reading

To really dive into this topic,check out Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, which helped guide much of this article. 

This article was co-written by Coaches Jodi O’Shea, Ashley Brush and Erin Babin. To learn more about them or to work with them, check out their coach profiles below.

What Running Apps do I Need?

I love apps. I’m constantly searching to find the completely perfect software that will help me plan, organize, or track any aspect of my life and therefore make me a more organized person with minimal effort on my end. Running has me at my pickiest when it comes to selecting apps. I’ve tried them all on my quest to find the one app that provides me with my personally ideal balance of tracking my runs, showing me my data and metrics (not too many numbers, but not too few either), connecting me with other runners, planning routes, keeping me healthy, etc. etc. etc. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist. There is not one app to rule them all (not that I haven’t asked my friends who code how hard it would be to create one), and letting apps do all of your thinking for you, especially with running, isn’t necessarily going to create the best results for everyone. Our brains do need to be involved, it turns out. However – apps are fun and can be really helpful tools both in understanding our training and in growing our running community. Here are the ones that I think are essential. Let this be your Starter Pack for running apps!

General Run Tracking

STRAVA (free, premium subscription available. Apple/Android)

If you are only going to download one running app, let it be Strava. Providing both function and social connection, Strava is like homebase for runners. At its core, Strava is a hub where you can track or upload runs and analyze your training. Track your mileage, keep up with your trends, track the mileage on your shoes, and keep a log of your runs to look back on. With a premium subscription, set monthly and yearly mileage goals, get access to additional training insight and tracking, and map out custom routes.

Strava offers a lot beyond the technical though. Most GPS watch companies might offer a social element within their apps where you can see what other runners are doing, but I find that a) not a lot of people actually use these features and b) you can only view the runs by people with the same watch brand as you. Strava offers a similar feature, but it’s actually used! And it’s used by a lot of people! If you run with a group or keep in touch with other runners, it’s a great way to see their runs and give them some love in the form of “kudos.” Essentially, it’s a social media for runners, and runners love to cheer each other on. If your personal running community isn’t booming yet, you can also connect with running groups and participate virtually. There are so many features to check out and so many different ways that you can use the app so that it meets your personal needs, and the other good news is that they keep adding more.

Note: Are you wondering if the premium feature is worth it? If you’re considering it for the additional metrics and training insight and you already run with a GPS watch, chances are the insight that you get from your watch will be more than enough. However, I think it’s worth it for the route mapping features, its live-tracking feature called Beacon (great for safety), and for its collaboration with another app called Recovery. I’ll talk about Recovery a bit later, but it comes free with your premium Strava subscription. Read more here on Premium.

ALLTRAILS (free, premium subscription available. Apple/Android)

Trail runners, be excited! AllTrails is your best bet for finding new trails to run or navigating the ones you already love. It has a database, both from maps and crowdsourced by users, of trails and trail segments for you to plan your runs. Trail running is amazing but there are certainly more logistics. AllTrails makes it easier. Before you go out, you can see all sorts of information about where you’ll be running. Is there easy parking? Are dogs allowed? How is the terrain? Users often even upload pictures so you can get a visual idea of what you have to look forward to. It also has a great mapping feature so that you can create your own route, both for your own use or to add to the database for future runners to find and use. AllTrails also does a really great job with navigation. If you run with your phone or a smart watch that supports the app, it will let you know if you go off-route. The navigation from the app is known to drain your battery, but if you plan ahead and download your route beforehand you’ll be in good shape.

TEMPO FOR RUNNERS (free, premium subscription available. Apple only)

This one is only for iPhones, and it’s a relatively newer and maybe less popular app for tracking and understanding your training. On the surface, it’s going to do a lot of the same things that Strava or your GPS watch apps will do. So what makes it special?

I use Tempo for exactly one thing: simplicity. Remember how I mentioned earlier that I wanted to make an app for myself that was exactly what I needed? That’s what the guy who made Tempo did. He made it for himself based on how he wanted to see his data, and then he published it just in case it worked for other people too. Tempo is a really great tool if you’re someone who keeps a detailed running log or journal. It uses tags to easily categorize entries, has a section for notes where you can keep track of general thoughts that aren’t specific to any workouts, and there is no sharing or social element – your thoughts are just for you. It’s also pretty beautiful. The app is streamlined to show any information that you may need right at the top of the screen – weekly, monthly, and yearly mileages for starters.

My favorite feature and the reason I have Tempo, though, is the cumulative graph. Sometimes you just want to see your mileage over a long period of time, and the graphs let you look at your mileage in a way that just makes sense. It’s everything you get from some of these other apps, but it’s reorganized in a simple and matter-of-fact way. It’s definitely one to consider if you don’t need the fluff and just want the data.

RECOVER ATHLETICS (free, premium subscription available or included with Strava Premium. Apple/Android)

Injury prevention can be hard to figure out, but Recover Athletics has teamed up with Strava and is trying to help. You get all of the features with a Strava subscription, and I recommend this route. Recover offers pre-run, post-run, and anytime workouts that promote mobility, stability, and strengthen parts of the body that tend to fall victim to overuse injuries. If something is already bothering you, tell the app and it will give you a program to assist you in rehab or staving off injury. Workouts are anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes long. The best part of this app, though, is actually its push notification system. Because it links to Strava, it knows when you finish a run. Before you can even take your shoes off, this app will buzz your phone. “Hey! You just finished a run! Why don’t you do some mobility real quick?” Let me tell you folks – its timing is great and it works.

Honorable Mentions

NIKE RUN CLUB (free, Apple/Android)

Nike Run Club is a favorite among many people who track their runs using an Apple Watch (although it’s also available for Android). Apple even has a Nike specific watch that’s pretty integrated with it. Nike Run Club is a great option for run tracking and even offers many guided runs based on what your workout or mood is. Beyond that, they have a social element that’s fueled by global challenges and leaderboards. Their “Events” tab links you with Nike Run Club locations in your area to get you connected. If you’re an Apple Watch user or someone who likes to run with a (virtual) voice in your ear keeping you moving, you might like NRC.

MAPMYRUN (free, premium subscription available. Apple/Android)

Similar to Nike Run Club, this is Under Armour’s foray into the running app game. You’re going to see a lot of the same features (run tracking, social challenges and leaderboard, etc.), but MapMyRun also has a pretty intuitive route mapping feature available on its desktop site. You can access these routes from the app after you’ve made them on a web browser. There is a premium subscription that offers live tracking, training plans, and more insight into metrics, but if you’re already using Strava or getting data from your running watch, the premium features may not be worth it.

ZWIFT (free, Apple/Android)

Zwift is probably most popular for its virtual cycling, but if you’re a treadmill runner you may like this. Download Zwift and connect it to your treadmill, and you can watch yourself (read: a digitally created little version of yourself) run through beaches, volcanoes, and forests while your real self sets the pace on the treadmill. Increase your treadmill speed, you’ll see your character speed up. Connect with other runners who are virtually running alongside you and have fun!

RUNGAP (free, paid subscription available, Apple only)

If you are overwhelmed with apps and for some reason one of them isn’t uploading information to another the way it should, RunGap is your friend. I used this the most when I ran with my Apple Watch. I found it easy to upload workouts to Strava, but some apps just didn’t seem to want to communicate with the watch or Apple Health. RunGap reads any data that you ask it to and can upload it to the app of your choice. I used it often when my Apple Watch refused to upload directly to Final Surge (another app that didn’t make this list but is frequently used by coaches to upload training plans and communicate with their athletes). RunGap would read the Apple Watch workout and I would send it to Final Surge. It’s a great workaround when technology just doesn’t seem to cooperate.

Cross Training

I know we’re talking about running, but here are a few bonus apps that have really come in handy with strength training, which can be very useful for runners.

FITBOD (free, paid subscription required, Apple/Android)

If you have ever struggled with putting together a strength training workout, you will love FitBod. You tell it what you want to work out and what equipment you have available, and it will put together an easily modifiable workout for you. Each exercise has a clear demonstration of how to perform it, and the cool part is that as soon as you’re done, FitBod will remember what you worked out. The next time you ask it for a workout, it will recommend training that targets muscles that are rested while allowing recently worked out muscles time to recover. It will also gradually increase your number of reps or amount of weight that it recommends based on past performance. It basically takes all of the thinking out of strength training for you, while still allowing for flexibility if you prefer your brain’s ideas over the app’s.

DOWNDOG (free, paid subscription required, Apple/Android)

I’m new to yoga in my cross training, and this app made it so easy. It puts together fully customizable yoga sessions based on what you want to target, how long you have, the music and instructor voice you prefer, speed, difficulty, and the amount of instruction you want to receive. It’s the yoga beginner’s dream. They also have versions for HIIT, Meditation, Running, Barre, and Prenatal Yoga. One subscription gives you access to all of these.

PELOTON (free, paid subscription required, Apple/Android)

Whether or not you own Peleton equipment, this app provides a lot of great strength training and stretching workouts specific to runners. Use their guided runs for some encouragement, or work their massive library of strength training into your routine. It’s a great option for runners no matter what you’re doing.

JUST 6 WEEKS (free, paid subscription available, Apple/Android)

If you’ve ever wanted to get better at pushups, this app is a great one to download and use a few times a week. Through multiple sets with super low reps that increase every day that you use the app, it builds your pushup endurance over time. Without the subscription, you have access to the pushup challenge with ads. If you choose to pay for the subscription, it uses the same model for other exercises. It’s a great option for some bare-bones strength training.

There you have it! There are so many options out there for apps that support and influence your running journey, and I’m sure I didn’t even scratch the surface. Do some exploring of your own and I’m sure you’ll find some that meet your needs! Hopefully this list helps you get started. Happy Running!

Hannah Breedlove is a coach with Team RunRun. To learn more about her or to work with her, check out her coach profile.

Running coach in Utah

Beginner Runners Aches and Pains

Running is a repetitive sport and as such there is a relatively high rate of aches and pains in all runners, especially beginner runners. Below is some information on the most common aches and pains among runners, ways to prevent them, and how to treat them if they occur. Prevention is the best medicine! 


Blisters occur due to extended friction between your skin and your sock. Anything that increases the friction between the skin and the sock can cause or worsen a blister, such as an increased pace, poor-fitting shoes, foot abnormalities (bunions, hammertoes, or heel spurs), heat, or moisture. 

To prevent blisters, start by coating high-risk areas on the feet with a lubricant such as Body Glide. Make sure you are wearing well-fitting shoes in the right size. Many specialty running stores can fit your feet with the correct type and size of running shoes. There should be a thumb’s width of space between the toes and the end of the toe box. The socks should also fit well and be made of breathable and moisture-wicking material such as wool, polyester, or nylon; avoid cotton as it will hold onto moisture. 

If you do get a blister, there are a few things you can do to lessen the pain. If the blister is small and doesn’t prohibit movement, leave it alone. The membrane of the blister helps to protect the sensitive skin underneath and keeps the bacteria out. If the blister is large, purple, painful, and inhibits normal movement of your toes, clean the area around the blister and a needle with soap and water; pop the blister but leave the flap of skin in place to protect the skin underneath. Make sure to clean the site regularly to prevent infection. To protect small blisters and keep the swelling down, cover the blister with moleskin. 


There are two types of chafing: skin-on-skin and fabric-on-skin. Skin-on-skin chafing is when your thighs or underarms rub together. Fabric-on-skin chafing is when the fabric of your shirt or sports bra rubs against your skin. Chafing is caused by several factors including: loose-fitting clothing, non-breathable fabrics, and hot or humid weather. 

To prevent chafing, wear tight-fitting layers made from synthetic fabrics. Again, no cotton since it can hold in moisture and increase the chance of chafing. Apply a lubricant such as Body Glide in areas that are at high risk for chafing (thighs, armpits, and nipples). Covering the nipples with band-aids is another way to prevent chafing in this area. Also be mindful of the equipment you wear while running, such as hydration vests, armbands for phones, heart rate monitors, etc. Secure this equipment so they don’t bounce and rub against your skin. It is also a good idea to apply the lubricant to these areas as well. 

If you do experience some chafing during your run, make sure your shower water after your run is lukewarm; a hot shower can make the burning worse. Gently wash the chafed area with an antibacterial soap, pat dry, and apply an antibacterial ointment such as Desitin. Put on loose, comfortable clothing that won’t irritate the area. 

Black Toenails

A black toenail is caused by a blood blister or bruise underneath the toenail. This happens when either the toes are crammed in the toe box or from the repeated slamming of the toes into the end of the shoe. This trauma can cause the blood vessels underneath the toe to break resulting in bleeding beneath the nail. 

To prevent black toenails, make sure your running shoes are the right size. Again, make sure you have a thumb’s width space between the toes and the end of the toe box. Too much downhill running can also contribute to black toenails as the toes slam into the end of the shoe more. Keep the toenails cut short; the more the toenail sticks out, the more they will slam into the end of the toe box. Wearing the right socks can also prevent black toenails as moisture can increase foot slippage. 

If you get a black toenail, it is best to leave it alone if the pain is manageable. If the toenail is very painful, it is best to visit a healthcare provider who can puncture the nail and release the pressure. If you would rather a home remedy, heat a needle until it is red hot and puncture the nail to release the pressure/fluid. Clean the toenail immediately after with an antiseptic solution and apply a sterile dressing to minimize the risk of infection. If you notice any redness or signs of infection, seek professional medical assistance. 

Muscle Aches vs Pain

Any time your muscles are pushed beyond their normal daily routine or limits, it is very normal to experience some soreness known as Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness or DOMS. The American College of Sports Medicine states that “any type of activity that places unaccustomed loads on muscles may lead to DOMS. This type of soreness is different from acute soreness, which is pain that developed during the actual activity. DOMS typically begins 12-24 hours after the exercise has been performed and may produce the greatest pain between 24-72 hours after the exercise has been performed.” Expect some DOMS at the beginning of a training period, after a tough hill workout or strength training routine, after your first long run without walking, or after a tough speed workout or race. The key is that it should not be painful during the activity and should typically dissipate within 3-4 days. Anti-inflammatory meds can help manage the symptoms and many times activity often decreases them, whereas prolonged rest can momentarily increase the pain once you start moving. There is not great research and lots of theories on what causes DOMS and there has not been much success in terms of finding ways to speed up recovery or prevent the process. It is just part of training and should make you feel accomplished that you pushed yourself beyond what your body normally does!

While DOMS is normal, pain that is brought on during running, particularly after easy runs, or increases while you run, is something to be more concerned about. Pain that limits your daily activities is almost always a red flag that you should pay attention to. It does not always mean something terrible is going on and that you will never be able to run again, but it is something that should be addressed sooner rather than later to prevent it from turning into something more limiting. The solution may be as easy as stretching after your run or getting a pair of insoles for your shoes or you may need to visit your doctor or a local physical therapist specializing in running for a more thorough evaluation of your pain. In fact, many physical therapists who are running-focused will offer a general runner’s evaluation to take a look at your gait, flexibility, and strength and give you a good set of exercises and recommendations to keep you healthy and injury free on your running journey! 


Running is hard work and you should expect to be more tired when you first start! It may take a few weeks to get to the point where your body levels off and is used to the increased activity, particularly if you were not very active before you started running. As time goes on, you should begin to feel less and less tired on the days you run and will often become more energized due to your increased physical activity.

However, if you are becoming fatigued to the point that your daily activities are affected or you are no longer sleeping well, this warrants further investigation. It may be that you are overtraining and doing too much too soon, and you may need to back off. You may benefit from a doctor visit to assess your bloodwork and/or vitamin levels, as sometimes this can be cause for excessive fatigue. Another area to assess is your diet. Poor diet can be another cause of excessive fatigue when you increase activity. You will need to take in increased calories, but they should be good, healthy calories that will fuel your activity. A great place to direct your diet questions would be a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist. There are often practitioners in these fields who will specialize in athletes or running if this is an area you need more information in.

Shin Splints

Shin splints are one of the most common runner injuries. Shin splints are characterized by a nagging, aching, or throbbing pain concentrated on the front of your leg. The pain is usually felt either during or after your run or if you press on the area. The pain is most severe at the beginning of the run but will often lessen once the muscles are loosened up. 

They are caused by tired or inflexible calf muscles putting excess stress on the tendons which then become inflamed, strained, and torn. Factors that can contribute to shin splints are overpronation, worn out shoes, lack of cushioning, or running on hard surfaces. Beginner runners are more at risk for developing shin splints because they are using leg muscles that haven’t been stressed in the same way before. In addition, the cardiovascular system develops in beginner runners before the musculoskeletal system. In other words, the heart and lungs are ready to run faster and longer, but the muscles and bones are not. Another group of runners at risk are runners returning from injury. Oftentimes, these runners increase their mileage too quickly, and their leg muscles can’t keep up. 

If the shin splints occur at the beginning of a season, a small amount of running may help the pain as the muscles will adapt and grow stronger. If the pain is persistent, you can try icing the area for 15 minutes three times a day. Anti-inflammatory meds can help with the pain. Ice the area immediately after a run. You may need to either cut down or stop running altogether. Recovery time can be between 2-4 weeks. If the injury doesn’t respond to self-treatment or rest, you may want to visit your healthcare provider or a physical therapist to assess if your gait, flexibility, or strength could be optimized and improve your symptoms. 

IT Band Syndrome

The iliotibial band (or IT band) is a tendon that runs along the outside of your leg from your hip to your knee. Once the tendon becomes tight, it can become irritated and swollen from rubbing against the hip or knee bones. This can cause an aching or sharp pain on the outside of the hip or knee. You may also experience a click, pop, or snap on the outside of your knee or pain on the outside of your thigh. 

Possible causes of a tight IT band include: 

  1. excessive foot pronation because it stretches the IT band and brings it closer to the bones
  2. weak hip abductors because a weakened ability to turn the hip away from the body can cause the IT band to tighten 
  3. pushing yourself too hard during exercise
  4. running on a tilted or curved surface
  5. lack of rest
  6. worn out shoes
  7. not warming up enough before exercise
  8. Increasing volume or intensity too quickly

Initially, the pain will start after you begin running. As the syndrome progresses, you may also feel the pain during the run and even while you are resting. In the initial stages, the pain will feel like an ache or burning sensation, but the pain will sharpen as the syndrome worsens. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medicines can be helpful to reduce the pain.You will also want to see a physical therapist who can help treat the syndrome and prevent it from recurring. The physical therapist can prescribe exercises that can strengthen your IT band and the core and hip muscles surrounding it.  

To prevent IT band syndrome, always gradually increase training volume and intensity and incorporate strength training that focuses on the core and hip muscles as well as single-leg stability. 

Patellofemoral Syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, is another common injury among runners. The pain associated with Runner’s Knee can be sharp and sudden or dull and chronic; it may disappear while you are running and then return after you’ve stopped. It can include tenderness behind or around the kneecap, pain toward the back of the knee, and a feeling that the knee is giving out. It affects women more than men due to the fact that women tend to have wider hips; this results in a greater angle of the thigh bone to the knee which increases the stress on the kneecap. 

It is difficult to pinpoint a single cause of Runner’s Knee. There are many factors that could play a role:

  • Biomechanical issue – shape or location of the kneecap
  • Worn cartilage in the knee joint
  • Flat feet
  • High arches
  • Weak quads
  • Tight hamstring or calf muscles

At the first sign of pain, you should cut back your mileage which will lead to a faster recovery than trying to run through the pain. Applying ice for 15 minutes after each run can help with the inflammation and pain. You may need to try new shoes, inserts, or orthotics. If the pain persists, see a healthcare provider to rule out other conditions. 

To prevent Runner’s Knee, run on softer surfaces when possible, gradually increase mileage, and gradually add hill work into your training program. Strengthening the quadriceps will help support the kneecap and keep it in proper alignment. You may also want to visit a specialty running store to make sure you are wearing the correct shoes for your foot type and gait. 

Contact us at Team RunRun

If there are more runner aches and pains you’re interested in learning about, please reach out to us at Team RunRun for more details – [email protected]. In the meantime, keep training, keep having fun, and stay strong!

Coaches Carrie Neiman and Erin Babin co-wrote this article and are both coaches with Team RunRun. To learn more about them, check out Carrie’s profile and Erin’s profile.