About Laura

Holistic Health coach, RRCA certified running coach, RPM spin instructor, MSW and mom

4 Steps for Injury Free Running

One of my favorite workshops at the Runner’s World Festival weekend was the running workshop led by Altra founder Golden Harper on how to improve your running form to prevent injury.

He shared four simple steps:

1) Run proud, run tall

Think about what it would look like to run tall and proud.  Try it on your next run.  Your chest is up, shoulders are relaxed and back, and your head and neck are looking straight ahead.

We are so often in the curled up position at our desks or driving in the car, so it takes some intention to open everything up.

2) Chicken wings

Keep your arms nice and compact, and close to the body.  Golden likes to think of it as little chicken wings, with your elbows staying at your sides or even behind you.  It’s much more efficient to have small motions with your arms as opposed to big, wide swings.

3) Use your spring

Our legs are a 3 foot spring.  Make sure you are landing with a bent knee and using that spring.  The foot strike should land right where it is supposed to when your posture is correct.  By running proud and tall, you don’t have to stress so much about whether you are heel striking or not.

4) Run a little quieter

Run without music or distractions so you can listen to your steps.  Can you hear yourself run? Are you clomping along loudly, or is it hard to hear each step land? Aim to find that stride where you are running quietly and you will be running much more efficiently and with better form.

Four additional myths about what causes running injuries that don’t hold up in the science:

  1. Over pronators are injured the most (false!)
  2. Concrete is the worst (false! Track and treadmill are actually the two worst- you need some uneven terrain.  Run on anything that makes your body tilt, slant, or go up and down to help prevent injury)
  3. It’s normal to have some foot pain (no!)
  4. Cushioning protects from injury (myth! cushioning prevents the body’s natural shock mechanisms and actually causes more impact)

As you can tell, it was a jam packed morning and there is so much more I could share but these were some of the highlights.

And I’ve been working on the chicken wings in my running.  It feels a bit awkward but I can tell a difference with how it conserves energy!

What running injury myth have you been taught?

Do you run loudly or quietly?

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday and PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

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Richmond marathon training 2 weeks to go

It’s taper time! My last long-ish run is done and now it’s time to switch to recovery mode for the last two weeks. I do best when I taper with less mileage but a bit of intensity, so I plan to do some lactate threshold miles ten days out and a few short workouts the last week to keep my legs remembering how to turn over.

Training recap:

Monday : 55 minute pool run + 20 minutes strength training (lunges, pull up practice, push ups, kettle bell swings)

Tuesday: 6 easy (8:45’s)

Wednesday: 11 miles with 8 at marathon pace (8:36, 7:59, 7:34, 7:29, 7:22, 7:26, 7:30, 7:21, 7:28, 7:21 and c/d 8:59)

Thursday: 40 minutes easy spinning + all day Wild West Book fair!

Friday: 6 easy miles (no watch, 9ish?) with sprint finish + all day Book fair!

Saturday: 15.75 miles easy (8:31 ave) + Wild West Book fair!

Sunday: rest

I kept the book fair in there because I was on my feet all day and my legs were wiped out the last few days this week.  I definitely felt it in my running!

I’m looking forward to a quieter week next week (after packing everything up on Monday). My girls vote that I go as a cowgirl for Halloween.

On the meal plan…

A few recipes we plan to make this week:

  • Shrimp Jambalaya (adding shrimp at the end in place of sausage)
  • Mediterranean Turkey Burgers (from RW cookbook)
  • Split pea soup
  • Ground turkey and spaghetti squash and/or baked ziti

 

 What do you do with the extra time when tapering? I’m not sure that I’m going to notice much extra time as I mostly plan to sleep when I would otherwise be running!

Do you dress up for Halloween?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.

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My Runner’s World Festival Experience + Races

Take me back!

It was really the perfect weekend in Bethlehem, PA- beautiful fall colors, perfect running weather and awesome company.

It kicked off Thursday evening with a Runner’s World HQ tour with Bart Yasso and dinner with the staff and editors.  The food was awesome- make your own grain bowls with an amazing green goddess dressing that I would happily eat every day!

Friday was a packed day.  We got up bright and early for a shake out run with Ryan Hall followed by seminars with Golden Harper, founder of Altra.

After sharing the “why and how” behind the company, he led us in a runner’s technique workshop (and had to show off climbing up this crazy arch!)

Interestingly, I’ve just made the switch to Altra this summer after the tendonitis issue and have really come to love Altra.  My legs are so much happier!

He described un-glueing and re-making shoes in his dad’s running shop to get rid of extra height to help runners have a more natural stride and, consequently, fewer injuries.

There are also two performance benefits: when the toes have more room, the big toe can help with the push off and with zero drop, the leg can use the full “spring” instead of being cut short a bit.  Both made a lot of sense to me.

We had lunch and a book signing with Bart and it’s easy to see why runners of all abilities love him – he’s such a genuine guy.  And then the trail race began at 3:30pm.  I ran the grand slam last time and skipped the trail this time as my goal was to get in a solid 20 miler Saturday morning.

I loved getting to know Rylie, Theodora and Zoe over dinner that night.  It was also fun to room with Lauren who I will see at Boston in April! It was my first time meeting Sarah, who did the dog race with her adorable dog, and I always love seeing speedy Hollie.

5k start

Saturday was the 5k, 10, dog races and kids races- whew! A packed day! That afternoon, I picked out a new Stick and Mojo compression socks, plus checked out some of the Janji gear.

I also caught an awesome panel that Sara Hall was part of and loved hearing from her and her experience as a new mom with the four Ethiopian girls they adopted!

We closed the day with a pasta dinner with RW staff and editor in chief Betty Ortiz.  And then the half marathon was Sunday morning, which I skipped this year.

My 20 miler with the 5k/10k was so much fun! I did a 3 mile warm up, then ran the 5k, ran easy, ran the 10k and wrapped up with 2 cool down miles.  I ran both races around a 7:15 pace and even grabbed 3rd in age group at the 10k!

I really love everything about this weekend and was so grateful to be invited to be a part of it!

Anyone else at the RW festival this weekend? Or any plans to join next year?

Have you met Bart at a race? He travels most weekends of the year but will be retiring in just a few months.

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday and PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

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Peak week of training- 3 weeks to Richmond!

Hello from Runner’s World Headquarters!

It’s been a gorgeous weekend. I love spending time here – but I’ll save the details for another post.

For now, I’m thrilled to have wrapped up my last big week of training with everything feeling good plus some really confidence boosting runs.

Training recap:

Monday : 10 miles in 8:02 ave (276 elevation) – I tried to work in a few rolling hills and probably ran it faster than I should have, but I was feeling strong!

Tuesday: 

Wednesday: 10 total with 8 x 800m (3:07- 3:11, or 6:15-6:20 paces) and 400m jogs between … still feeling strong!

Thursday: 30 minute pool run

Friday: 6.5 easy around Bethlehem, PA

Saturday: 21! Broken down like this: 3 easy miles (8:15), Runner’s World 5k (22 something or about 7:15 pace), 6 easy (7:50s), Runner’s World 10k (45:00 or 7:15 ave) and 2 cool down (7:45)

That’s the fastest 20 miles I’ve ever run… even on the easy segments, my legs just wanted to go! I think it’s the lower humidity, finally.  I’m thrilled to have such a confidence boosting run but nervous too.  I rarely have more than1- 2 strong runs in a week where my legs feel this good, so I hope it continues all the way through to race day!

Sunday: 4 recovery miles

On the meal plan…

I’ve not had any time to think about it yet! It’s another mild weather week so maybe we will do some grilling.

I’m also overseeing the book fair this week so it’s going to be a busy week, but it’s always fun.  I kind of like being known at school as the ‘book fair lady’ !

Have you ever run the Runner’s World Festival races or been to Bethlehem PA?

Are you still using your grill for dinners?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.

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My goals for the Runner’s World races this weekend

Next weekend is the Runner’s World Festival already! That snuck up on me fast.

I got to participate in this awesome weekend two years ago, along with many of my running blogger friends.  That year, I did the Grand Slam- all four races in three days, which was a blast.

This year, my focus in on prep for the Richmond marathon, so I signed up for the Grand Slam but have changed my mind.  Here’s the plan:

  • Friday afternoon trail run (plus we do an early morning easy run with Ryan Hall, Suzanne Allair and Altra staff on our way to breakfast with Ryan and Sara Hall!)
  • Saturday will be my 20-21 miler, using the 5k and 10k as marathon pace portions

To be more realistic, the 5k will likely be closer to LT or half marathon pace and the 10k at marathon pace.  So I’ll warm up with 2-3 miles, run the 5k at threshold, run 5-6 easy, the 10k at marathon pace and 5 or so remaining miles to hit my 20 miler.

I’m heading home Saturday night after dinner with the Runner’s World editors.  I would love to do the half marathon but it’s a busy weekend for us and I need to take over kid duty on Sunday.  I think the mixed pace 20 miler will be fun! And a nice distraction from my normal routes.

Our blogger group will meet in Bethlehem Thursday night for dinner with the Runner’s World staff, and then have seminars both Friday and Saturday plus other fun meetings in between- I’m getting excited!!

Have you done any of the RW Festival races, or will you be there this weekend?

Have you ever used a race as part of a long run?

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday and PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

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4 weeks until Richmond (training recap)

How was your weekend? We went to a farm to pick pumpkins and apples on Saturday, which is one of my favorite fall activities.  We made applesauce over the weekend and carved our pumpkins. I’m considering either an apple pie or crisp this week.

 

Another week of training down!

It was a cut back week, which was much needed after increasing mileage for 3 weeks in a row.

Training recap:

Monday : 8 easy with a few 20 second strides (8:18 ave)

Tuesday: 50 minutes spin + core

Wednesday: 11 total with 3 x 2 + 1 miles at HMP

3 warm up (9:10, 8:10, 8:39, LT (7:05, 6:52), (6:59, 6:52), (7:10, 7:00) and 6:52, cool down 9:18)

It was another humid morning so I was happy to have this done!

Thursday: 5 easy stroller run (probably around 10:00 ave)

Friday: 40 pool run with a few intervals

Saturday: 10 easy, half with one of my athletes training for NYC getting in her last 20 miler

Sunday: 4 recovery miles

This will be a peak week with one more 20 miler next weekend, and then taper begins!

 

On the meal plan…

I’m focusing on 3 recipes to make, and filling in the gaps with leftovers and quick meals like eggs, quesadillas, salads and sandwiches.

This week’s recipes include:

North Indian Chicken Curry

Sushi or Inside Out Sushi Salad

Vegetarian Black Beans

 

What are your favorite things to make with apples?

How often do you incorporate a cut back week?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.

The magic workout is…

…the one you’ve been ignoring or never tried.

Did you read the Seven Pillars of Running Wisdom?  So much goodness in this post, but this quote is my favorite.

The magic workout, shoe, or superfood is whichever one you’ve been ignoring lately or have never tried.

The bottom line is that we need to challenge our bodies in new ways to continue to improve.  That does not mean randomly throwing in a different workout each week, but instead adding a new stimulus that you build on week after week for a training cycle and then mixing it up for another training cycle.

This paid off for me in last year’s marathon pr at Steamtown.  I finally embraced the tempo workouts that I hated.  I would much rather spend each Wednesday hammering out repeats at the track! But I knew that would have limited pay off on race day, and I finally stuck out an entire cycle of tempo runs.  On race morning, my race pace felt comfortable and I shaved nearly ten minutes off, from my 3:32 to a 3:23.

I think this worked for two reasons.  1) Tempo runs are a much better stimulus for marathon training than short repeats, and 2) my lactate threshold was under developed from often neglecting to include these workouts.

Begin with your goal.  What are you training for?

What workouts are going to best prepare you for that goal?

What types of workouts have you neglected in the past that might help you take it to a new level?

This is such a simple “secret” but can have a huge payoff.

Have you had success when you attempted training in a new way?

What workouts do you gravitate toward and which do you tend to avoid?

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday and PattyErika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run.

5 weeks until the Richmond marathon (training recap)

Happy Monday!

We had some late nights and busy days this weekend.  We went out with several other couples Saturday night (parents of my daughter’s 2nd grade friends) and hung out in Jersey City for the evening.

Let’s just say getting to bed after midnight the day of my 20 miler was not the smartest idea.  I basically ignored every recovery technique in the book, but my body is hanging in there!

And today, we have my parents here to help with the kiddos while we take the day to paint my office.  We had our screened in porch converted to a ‘den’ last month and the office is the last room of the downstairs that needs our attention.  I’m actually looking forward to the day project! But thankfully it is also a cutback training week after my biggest week so far last week(for this cycle).

Training recap:

Sunday: rest, other than 30 minutes very easy “pool running” to flush out my legs after the 18 miler

Monday : 10 hilly miles with 4 x 20 second surges (6:00 ave) overall 8:39 ave (am); short kettle bell workout (pm)

Tuesday: 55 minute pool ‘run’

Wednesday: 11.8 with the guys… workout was 2 easy, 5 at MP, 3 at HMP with 1 minute rest between each.  Actual splits for MP (7:40, 7:22, 7:34, 7:20, 7:14) and HMP (6:55, 6:55, 6:45)

This was one of those runs where I realized the benefit of training partners! I wouldn’t have run so far on my own but loved having company and the run flew by.

Thursday: 1 hour walk + upper body strength, lunges + core

Friday: 6 easy miles (8:55 ave)

Saturday: My first 20 miler! (9:11 ave)

I was intimidated to hit 20 as I haven’t run that far since last fall’s training for Steamtown, so it was nice to have zero pace goals and just cover the miles.

I ran one hour at 8:35 ave, met a client for 1 hour at 10:00 ave, and finished with an hour at 8:40 ave.  The last hill was brutal (as was the humidity) but I know I need to work more hills into my long runs to prepare for Richmond. So happy to have that done!

On the meal plan…

I have gotten out of the habit of posting our meal plan, but I’m still making it each week. I’m focusing on 3 recipes to make, and filling in the gaps with leftovers and quick meals like eggs, quesadillas, salads and sandwiches.

This week’s recipes include:

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

Sloppy Joe’s

Butternut squash and chickpea curry

 

Do you find running buddies push you to run harder or go further?

Is there a distance that intimidates you?
It’s funny how the 18.5 was fine, but to add 1.5 miles was suddenly so much farther!

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.

Recovery is more than post workout and a good night’s sleep

As mileage increases and training intensifies, recovery becomes crucial.  We can stress the body with training to trigger the adaptations we want, but it does no good if we aren’t including the recovery to ensure those adaptations actually take place.

I used to think of recovery as two-fold: what I did after the run and getting enough sleep.

From trial and error (and my share of injuries) I’ve learned that recovery means so much more.

Recovery days between hard workouts:   

It’s so important to allow 1-2 days after a hard workout for the body to improve and adapt.  This allows the body to repair muscle fibers and tissue and reboots the nervous system (which you want to prevent from becoming fatigued).

Depending on your age and fitness level, you may need 2-5 easy days between a hard workout.  These can be a mix of easy running days, cross training and complete rest.

In my late 30’s, I’m learning that 3 days between hard efforts is ideal.  Although I used to train with a speed, tempo and long run day, I’ve been shifting to 2 hard workouts a week (tempo and long or speed and long) and used this method to hit my half pr in the spring.  More workouts is not always better!

Remember that hard strength days stress the body too! So often a schedule of run, strength, run, strength also accumulates stress rather than allowing for adaptations for improvement.

Recovery between reps: 

We can manipulate recovery time between intervals to work different energy systems, but regardless the rest between interval reps is necessary to control fatigue and allow you to perform a greater volume of pace training.

Like the recovery between hard days, less is not necessarily better!

Recovery from life stress: 

Work, sleep, family responsibilities, evening meetings- these all take a toll on our body and raise our stress hormone (cortisol) and can even lead to injury.  As stress rises, it can also affect our motivation to train.

Practice stress reducing activities: deep breathing, mediation/prayer, a few minutes of yoga, reading, writing or whatever else helps you rebound from life stress.

Recovery seasons of training:

Not only do we need days to recover, we need the occasional chunk of a whole week or two or three to step back from running and let our bodies recover.  An ideal time is after a goal marathon or half marathon, or at the end of a season (the coldest part of winter or hottest part of summer is also ideal).

I’ve gotten better at taking those post-race seasons seriously and embracing two weeks of rest or relative rest after a marathon and a week after a half at the end of a season.

Of course, good recovery is also all the little things you do post-run (nutrition, stretching, rolling, elevation or compression) and solid sleep.

What about you? When do you build in seasons of rest?

How many days to you place between hard workouts?

I’m linking up with  SuzRachelLora, and Debbie for Running Coaches Corner, and NicoleAnnmarieMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Last week’s workouts – 6 weeks to go!

As I was finishing my long run on Saturday, I was seriously considering adding a December marathon so I can actually run it well! But that’s not going to happen.  I’ll give it what I can and then plan to take most of December nice and easy.

Six weeks is just not a lot of time to pull this together.  But I’m gaining more confidence (and fitness) with each week, so we’ll see!

Sunday: 4 very slow recovery (10ish pace)

Monday : 45 minute spin with intervals + kettle bell workout

Tuesday: 6.5 easy + 10 minutes core/yoga

Wednesday: 10 miles with cruise intervals

It was so humid this morning! I eased in with 9:30 and 9:18 paced miles and then did three cruise intervals with 1/2 mile easy between (7:06, 6:50, 6:43) and finished with a few miles at 7:55 pace.

Thursday: 55 minute pool run + taught an evening HIIT strength class (mostly demos, not working out)

Friday: 5 easy miles, 8:55 ave and the start of lovely cool mornings

Saturday: 18.5 miles (ave 7:59) with 10 at 7:30 pace

I recently ran into an old running partner training for Philly with similar pace goals, so we met up to do this workout together.  It’s not exactly a comfortable conversational pace for either of us, so I’m looking forward to more time to catch up on an easy run next time!

I skipped the 5k on Saturday as our day became crazy as of 9am, and I knew the long run was more important for my training so I got it done early and then took the girls for the day as my husband ripped out old carpet in the basement.  Our afternoon included Costco and Ikea.  Whew! House projects are no joke.

Do you have running buddies with the same goals/ paces as you?

Love or love to hate house projects?

I’m linking up with Tricia and HoHo from The Weekly Wrap and with Jess Runs ATL and The Right Fits.

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