Starting the ‘Running in Heat’ Round Table Discussion

One of the topics that takes up constant brain real estate with runner’s this time of year is, how to successfully run thru the summer months.  You may have even already noticed lot’s of health and fitness articles or running articles specifically tipping you off on the best products out there to help you run or exercise thru the summer months.  I want to take more of a subsurface look, within this post and the next several I”ll be posting, about the specific things runners have to manage in their lifestyles 24/7 in order to be able to get thru a run safely, prepare for the next run and recover from the previous run.  My inner science geek loves understanding and learning about how we are physiologically affected by things like heat, dehydration, sodium loss, and an imbalance in minerals in our body due to excessive sweating.  Today’s blog post though is dedicated to Starting the ‘Running in Heat’ Round Table Discussion.

Common Terminologies

So, before we jump off into the deep end of the Running in Heat hot topic (haha, no pun intended…well ok, maybe somewhat intended;)) I want to just cover a few basics today.

Some common terminologies that you may come across when you read or hear information regarding dehydration are hyponatremia, thermoregulation, and heat acclimatization.   I also want to briefly just introduce a concept called “carbohydrate depletion/loading” and tell you why debatably it can be deemed as an unsafe regimen if you’re running in the heat and humidity but may have to save this slightly lengthier topic for the next blog post.  First things first,…terminology.

What is Thermoregulation?

In a nutshell, thermoregulation is our bodies abilities to maintain an internal body temperature despite the external surrounding temperature.  A few weeks back I wrote a blog post called How Being “Soft” and Teeth Chattering Have Real Effects on Running Performance”.  In my post, I talked about how the cold and rainy weather conditions affected runners and may have been the cause to an early “bonk” on marathon day for runners during this last Boston Marathon.   Even pro athletes were unable to physically find a homeostasis thru the harsh high-calorie burning race day weather.  This concept stepping on the fringe of hypothermia effects. Today’s post on thermoregulation in hot and humid conditions is similar, yet on the opposite end of the Fahrenheit gauge, and addresses hyperthermia

When your body is overheating, it’s cooling mechanism is to sweat which also contributes to a runner’s ability to thermoregulate.  This is of course at the expense of any stored body fluids.  Jack Daniels, Ph.D. schools us in his book ‘Daniel’s Running Formula‘, “when a loss of fluid causes body weight to drop 3-5%, adverse effects on performance will occur.” 

Concurring exercise scientist, Robert Murray quotes;

“If sweat loss is not replaced during exercise,” says Robert Murray, PhD, an exercise scientist who serves as a consultant for the Quaker Oats Company, “the resulting dehydration compromises cardiovascular and thermoregulatory function, increases the risk of heat illness, and impairs exercise performance.”

The “Science of Sweat”

You may also like to read one of the dedicated chapters in the book ‘Marathon’ by Hal Higdon, called “Drinking on the Run”.  The book breaks down the “Science of Sweat”  and gives us science geeks more insight into the relationship between dehydration and blood volume.

If you choose to read, you’ll learn a little bit about one of three roles in preventing muscle cramps when running long distances or running in hot and humid weather.  Higdon quotes and elaborates from several sources.  The first, Nancy Clark, RD, director of nutrition services for SportsMedicine Brookline in Boston and author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook  says, “the three roots of heat cramping are salt loss, dehydration, and muscle fatigue” 

Secondly, he quotes Dr. Eichner, MD, of the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and a member of the Runner’s World Science Advisory Board.

“Sodium is key, not only to maintain blood volume but also to help nerves fire and muscles work.  Sodium depletion short-circuits the coordination of nerves and muscles as muscles contract and relax.” – Dr Eichner

According to Dr. Eichner in Higdon’s book, he suggests that sodium depletion can be one cause of muscle cramping.  He proceeds to advise a few strategies like, ample long runs within your training to build muscle endurance, and a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables which of course contain necessary vitamins and minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.  He also recommends alternating fluid intake between water or a sports drink, at fluid stations during a marathon.  Amongst a couple of other cramp preventing strategies he caps off his advice by suggesting that runners learn their sweat rates by weighing themselves naked before and after a 1-hour run.

He gives this ratio, “losing 1  pound equates to losing 16 ounces of sweat”.  For me, this may be an aggressive measure of action but if you are one that would consider yourself an extreme sweater or only have the option to run after work in the hot late afternoon or early evening summer, then this may be more of a reality for your proactive running self.

You can read up and find more specific ways to calculate and test your fluid loss in Daniel’s Running Formula book, which includes Worksheets for Calculating Fluid Loss and Determining Fluid Needs.

Acclimatizing to Heat

Scientists have discovered that the runner’s body will eventually acclimatize to heat after a couple of weeks of training in these conditions.  In fact, your heat tolerance can allegedly increase by 50 percent by conditioning according to one of Iowa’s very own exercise physiologists at the University of Iowa, Carl Gisolfi, Ph.D.   And according to previously mentioned Dr. Murr,ay we will expand our blood volume.

Through the process of acclimatization, we can even train our bodies to become more efficient sweaters and the sweat glands being to learn to conserve sodium.  Don’t forget this is our bodies defense mechanism in the form of condensation and cooling the hot engine within.

Main lesson here is not to wait until race day to perform a litmus test on your body’s ability to effectively function.  If you are able to train during a cooler time of day (morning or evening) to ease into the acclimatization process than do so.  Also, it’s pretty easy to snag up non-porous or ‘sweat wicking’ materials now that help keep heavy fabrics acting like “sweat blankets” off of the skin.  If you’re going to wear a hat for sun protection off of your face, try placing a wet sponge or even a dollar bin gel ice pack tucked underneath.

Of course, there are also a myriad of other hydration paraphernalia products out there to run with such as Camelbak hydration backpacks, Nathan hydration belts, etc.  I have both of these and use them not just for fluid but to keep cell phone in tow for the “just in case” scenarios.

Obviously, you’ll also want to make sure you’re drinking prior to running.  My simple advice here is if you’re an early bird runner (time of day when it’s actually the most humid) then start your hydration and fluids the 24 hours prior.  Don’t overestimate your ability when it comes to running in the heat!  Be conservative to start off and perhaps choose a route that loops past home instead of an out and back.  Or at the very least runs past a few splash pads or parks with drinking fountains along the way.  Know that the process of acclimatization may take 7-14 days and that you should plan to slowly progress any training into hotter temps.

You may also balance the hydration efforts with some slightly salty snacks like tortilla chips and guacamole (bonus two-fer for the healthy fat), pita chips and cottage cheese (bonus carb to protein ratio), or some sweet and salty trail mix.


I saved this term for last because after putting such a heavy emphasis and focus on dehydration and the safeguards in relation to running in heat and humidity, a concept like hyponatremia almost seems somewhat contradictory.   But does it?…

During the summer months the risk of dehydration, of course, has you constantly thinking about drinking as much as possible thru out your day.  And back in the day, you used to hear the advice of drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  However, can the same advice apply to two drastically different sized human beings?  I mean, if our adult bodies are made up of something like 60% water doesn’t it stand to reason then that someone like Shaquille O’Neal would have more of a percentage of a hydration requirement versus someone my size which is 5’3″ and somewhere around 105lbs?

I like the more scientific approach and advice of drinking half your body weight in ounces a day.  Simple math = simple hydration recipe.

So, with that being said and a realization being made in correlation to the ratio of our body mass vs water, we can take another step towards concluding that even further on the scale of hydration there is a risk of over-hydrating.  Now, over-hydrating is not necessarily a word or scientific concept but the point I’m getting at is the definition and extreme case of hyponatremia.

“Hyponatremia means low blood sodium.  Excessive fluid consumption lowers the concentration of sodium in the blood.” -Amby Burfoot, ‘The Thinking on Drinking’ (pg. 288, Marathon The Ultimate Training Guide).

You rarely hear of these instances but they are still a real cause for concern, especially if you’re running long distances of a half or full marathon.  Amby Burfoot shares the analogy in Higdon’s book of marathon runners who sip from their water bottles the entire day before a big race, while they’re meandering around the health expos and such, and then consume water at every aid station during the first 4-5 hours of a marathon.  It quickly gives you a visual of the sodium in the blood being diluted and sodium concentrations then becoming too low.

How Does a Carbohydrate Depletion/Loading Regimen Affect Dehydration?

Here is a quick synapse in my own layman’s terms and according to what I’ve gathered or understood from articles and books out there of what carbohydrate depleting/loading regimens are and why endurance athletes sometimes implement this regime as part of their training strategy.

Without getting too in-depth on the dietary strategies of a carbohydrate depletion/loading regimen (and because I’m not a professional dietician), what I can tell you is that it is basically a strategy that stemmed from scientists discovering that endurance capacities and race performances being enhanced after heavy carbohydrate consumption.

Scientists say that our muscles store carbohydrates in the energy form of glycogen and distance or endurance runners and athletes have shown stronger or faster performance by loading these energy stores prior to a race performance.  The philosophy is that if endurance runners limit carbohydrate intake and deprive the muscles of their glycogen, then essentially they’ll learn to perform from a depleted state.  Then just prior to an athlete partaking in their chosen endurance event they load the muscle stores and body with a high carbohydrate intake and then the glycogen “starved” muscles hoard, for lack of better terms, the glycogen and the equation comes full circle.

What does this have to do with dehydration?  Well, it’s the glycogen in our muscles that helps store water within our bodies.  So, very blatantly put, if there’s low glycogen that means there’s less water content in our bodies.  A simple analogy is the no-carb diets and the body shedding instant pounds by loss of water weight.  So, you can quickly see the correlation between potential dehydration and carbohydrate depletion.

*Let me add here that I am NOT a doctor, or licensed dietician, and would encourage you to do your own research on this topic and the relationship to distance running to make your own conclusions.

Tricks to Keep Your Hydration Game Strong

Okay, so now are you thoroughly confused on whether to hydrate or how to hydrate?  I hope not and I hope that what you have gained was at least a better understanding of some of the terminology surrounding the hydration game topic and how to beat the heat as a runner.

No one recipe for hydration should be considered a fail-safe prescription for all!  Practice and experiment safely with what works or doesn’t work for you.  I will share what’s worked for me, or tips I’ve read about that I can share.

  1.  Run during the coolest parts of the day – early morning or late evening when the sun is not at it’s peak.
  2. Choose a shady route – preferably one that offers opportunities to hydrate along the way.  Concrete and asphalt are going to retain heat from the sun more than grass or a pea gravel trail
  3. Look at your weather app and try to choose running into the wind on the return route home, which will be on the latter half of your run or core temperature having already risen from the first half of your run.
  4. Wear loose or light fitting clothing that offers sweat wicking properties.  Or if you’re comfortable with running shirtless (men) or in just a sports bra (women) then go for it.
  5. A hat with a brim can actually trap heat being emitted from the head but you could soak it in cold water before heading out to keep yourself cool along the way.
  6. Don’t wear black or dark colored clothing if the sun is still up.  Wear light colors to reflect the sun.
  7. Drink on the run and learn how, when, and what your body likes best to drink.  Consider investing in a hydration belt, or the like, of some kind.
  8. Take advantage of front yard sprinkers or splash pads at parks to run thru.  The cool water will help you keep cool and lend a cooling effect on the surface of the skin.
  9. Err on the side of caution and run slower or shorter distances until you become more acclimatized.
  10. Let family or loved ones know your common running routes and take a cell phone as back up

Run safe, run smart!!

Training Diary Week 4 – Coaching Myself

Well, this was week 4 of 10 in my training for my first 2018 attempt at qualifying for NYC.  I’ll treat today’s blog post like I do my training diary, thus today’s post title “Training Diary Week 4”.  Keep in mind, I do not pay anyone to coach me and have amalgamated my own training plans over the years for what’s worked or not worked in the past.  Thus the second part of today’s post title – “Coaching Myself”.

Training Diary Week 4

I logged a total of 37 miles this week.  My main focus each week is on 3 different, what I would call “quality” runs.  My first “quality” run was Monday, which entailed 7 miles on a hilly route.   The second “quality” or Q-run was Wednesday, which was 7 miles with 5 miles at half marathon goal pace (7:14 – 7:23 avg. mile).  And the third Q-run was today, 11 miles LSD (long slow distance).  I always follow up a Q-run day with an easy day or a day of cross training or completely off from running.

Monday – Hill Day

I’m fortunate to have a few hilly route options right out my front door.  The one I run most often has a nice 60-90 sec. climb at approximately every half mile after the first mile.  Running hills are of course a great way to develop leg strength, improve form efficiency and double up on increasing VO2 or aerobic capacity.

After 2 days rest from last weekend, I felt great and at 6:30 in the morning the air was nice and cool.  I would say that overall I”m feeling stronger on the hilly route and less labored running up each segment.  I try to use each hill as a mental practice as well and remind myself to run NOT just to the top but over the top before I back off at all.

Constructive note – I did feel a little less controlled with my quads while running down and made notes to work a bit more on quick turnover with my feet, shortening my stride just slightly so my quads don’t take too much beating and will add in some additional quad strengthening exercises.  Also, tried to be sure to ride the momentum back out of the bottom of the hill as an opportunity to improve and increase my cadence and rhythm before tackling the next hill.

Wednesday – Speed Work

The last couple of weeks I’ve been alternating between mile repeats at 10k race pace and half marathon goal race pace.  I’ve been also trying to stay focused on negative splitting each of the miles in an effort to not only tune my body into having to resource when I’m tired, but additionally for my confidence.

This is a great intention, but I”m not always able to execute.  I suppose there is some science and blame that can be placed somewhat on the return route being cumulatively uphill versus the first half of my out and back route.  Also, I was running into a slightly 13 mph wind on the second half.  BUT, I don’t want either of these things to be an excuse and will need to remember that the race may serve me up the same conditions.

My five mile splits for the HMP pace were; 7:11, 7:05, 7:18, 7:20, 7:13.  I followed the q-run mileage up with Jay Johnson’s SAM (strength and mobility) Hard Day – Phase 2.

Friday – LSD

This was pretty straightforward.  I took my hydration belt today, which gave me problems and bounced around uncomfortably the whole first 2 miles.  I need to figure out a way to make the belt tighter and re-sew the buckle in further on the strap.

I took two gels with me but only ended up consuming one around mile 5.5-6, and chased it with some water.  I also deliberately wanted to redeem myself from Wednesday’s failed negative split run, so chose to run a similar cumulative descent and ascent route with the second half faster each mile.

Bearing in mind that I was only running 8:45 avg. miles on the way out, I was able to negative split pretty easy.  Here were my splits; 8:47, 8:45, 8:44, 8:35, 8:45, 8:26, 8:24, 8:28, 8:20, 8:09, 7:43.


The easy run days were exactly that.  I didn’t focus on the time on my watch, but just ran by feel and enjoyed conversation with my girlfriend.

I also, followed up my runs a couple days this week with ice baths and some protein smoothies and shakes within the first 30 minutes post run.  And have been foam rolling before I crawl into bed at night.

I was really dumb and indulged in a Frosty with my daughter yesterday which did NOT agree with my lactose intolerant tummy.  Bleh!!  It was an easy reminder to stay away from junk in general for the time being.  At least while I’m training.

Coaching Myself

I like to keep a training journal and notes on every run.  It’s important to be able to go back and assess or analyze and it helps me instill confidence when I get closer to race day, when I can go back and look and tell myself, “the hay is in the barn”.

I also, try to be objective in training myself and analyze as if from an outsider looking in.  My recent subconscious mantra has been that I must do things that are new or different this time if I expect new or different results than last time.

So, what am I doing that is new or different?  I’m implementing slightly longer striders after my easy run days, than what I had run in the past.  And more specifically I am doing them immediately after my run vs. waiting and walking a few minutes to cool down first.  Hoping this will capitalize on the aerobic benefits as well as remind my faster twitch muscle fibers to come when called.

Also, being more conscious of sleep.  I realize that as people age your body takes longer to recover and arguably muscle recovery and cellular repair happen most efficiently while sleeping.

Lastly, I’ve begun drinking an amino energy supplement.  I already try and eat pretty clean and well rounded as well as I take a daily vitamin to help maintain my iron stores and magnesium.  But the amino acids are also crucial in protein synthesis in the body.

Next Weeks Forecast

Next week is a drop back week for me.  Many of you who have followed a training plan before know that most systematic and progressive based training plans will do a build in mileage or intensity for several weeks and then a drop back week for repair.  And then will jump back into building weeks again.

With that being said, I’ll try and eat a little extra protein next week and aid the rejuvenation process biologically.  I’ll spend the extra time that I would’ve been running to try and foam roll, do a little more yoga, or lay on the floor with my feet up the wall.

Happy Mother’s Day to All Running Moms

I made a silly little YouTube video this week called Top 10 Mother’s Day Running Gifts.  Happy Mother’s Day to you all and I hope that your day is filled with all things great!!

How Being “Soft” and Teeth Chattering Have Real Effects on Running Performance

The abrasive cold and wet conditions during last Monday’s Boston Marathon got me thinking and trying to find any actual science behind How Being “Soft” and Teeth Chattering Have Real Effects on Running Performance”Maybe becoming “soft” as an athlete as Bill Bowerman puts it, in regards to performance isn’t just as simple as maintaining a ‘tough as nails’ mentality.  Perhaps, there is some actual science that we can apply and re-assure ourselves with here.  Perhaps too, with scientific knowledge pertaining to ‘Shivering Thermogenesis’ and ‘Cold Exposure on Fuel Utilization in Humans’, we as runners can be a little more forgiving of ourselves when we bonk during a race that has us exposed for three to four hours.

I did a quick Google search on the effects of cold weather on athletic performance and this what I came up with for reputable and science-based theory.

Theory 1 on Shivering – Why Do We Shiver?  

My Google search first took me to – The National Center for Biotechnology Information.  I found two articles pertaining to why our bodies shiver in the first place and how that correlates to an overall loss in core body temperature.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.

In a nutshell, which you already know, our bodies shiver when we’re cold.  To be more specific though, it is an anatomical survival response to keep us alive and maintain body temperature for vital organs and systems to keep functioning.  Thus, our skeletal muscles start to rapidly contract and burn calories, which in this instance is the bodies form or unit of heat energy.  Read more on Shivering thermogenesis in humans: Origin, contribution and metabolic requirement.

Theory 2 – How Does Cold Weather Deplete our Bodies Fuel Sources?

Once our muscles start to engage in these bursts of rapid-fire mini contractions, the muscles begin to produce heat energy.  And as with any burning of ‘calories’, our body must resource fuel stored from somewhere within our bodies.  The chosen form of fuel for shivering seems to be plasma glucose (sugar or carbohydrates stored within the blood), muscle glycogen (carbohydrates stored within muscle tissue) and lipids (fat-like substances found within the bloodstream).

So, let’s pause here and consider the runners in this year’s Boston Marathon with weather conditions including rain, cold temperatures and gusty winds.  Some of you have first hand experience with the finesse it takes to balance running for long durations of time and having to consume calories in some form during the effort to offset the calories your burning while you’re running.  Take additional consideration into, what we’re talking about here with shivering and how this becomes a quickly understood equation for the dreaded “bonk” or as we runners know it…”hitting the wall”.

To bring the ‘elites’ down on a more human playing field with the rest of us, there were a few that admitted that the weather that day did not play into their favor and quote “depleted glycogen stores”.  Plain and simple, there was nothing left in the tank.

If you’re more of a visual learner, here is a Wind Chill Chart and some data to consider from The National Weather Service .

The NWS Wind Chill Temperature (WCT) index uses advances in science, technology, and computer modeling to provide an accurate, understandable, and useful formula for calculating the dangers from winter winds and freezing temperatures. The index does the following:

  • Calculates wind speed at an average height of 5 feet, the typical height of an adult human face, based on readings from the national standard height of 33 feet, typical height of an anemometer
  • Is based on a human face model
  • Incorporates heat transfer theory based on heat loss from the body to its surroundings, during cold and breezy/windy days
  • Lowers the calm wind threshold to 3 mph
  • Uses a consistent standard for skin tissue resistance
  • Assumes no impact from the sun, i.e., clear night sky.

Theory 3 – If Your Teeth Are Chattering  It Doesn’t Mean You’re “Soft”.  (The Real Effects of Cold on Our Running Performance)

There were several other websites that I took the time to read thru and have attached them down below for your reference too (if you choose to geek out like me).  I am now thoroughly convinced that shivering and teeth chattering is not just my bodies way of trying to tell me it’s cold and that it is going to be tapping into some calories to stay warm, but there is scientific research to back up why we sometimes feel “soft” when confronted with bad weather.

Muscular endurance, defined as the ability to sustain continuous contractions at submaximal intensity, may be altered by cold-air exposure.  -Human

Thermoregulation – On exposure to cold air the first response action is peripheral vasoconstriction, followed by shivering and hormonal release (Patton., 1988) – DNA Sports

So, let’s be constructive with this knowledge and set ourselves up for success the next time Mother Nature decides to be a party pooper.  Windbreaker (check), Dri-Fit or moisture wicking layers (check), and an extra pack of sport beans (check).  HA!  Us runners aren’t going down that easy!

Happy Fri-Yay everyone!  And hopefully wherever you’re at geographically, the weather will allow you non “soft” or teeth chattering long run conditions this weekend.


** Sites and on-line resources:


Running Gait Resources

Have you ever been out somewhere and noticed another runner with a ‘wonky’ running gait?  Or been running on a treadmill in a gym and seeing your own running gait in a mirror?  I can’t help sometimes but notice and analyze running form or gait when I see other runners and have caught myself analyzing my own shadow on the ground while running on a sunny day.  Today’s post includes, in my humble opinion, some great resources for running gait and form analysis.

Run Like You’re a Kid in the Backyard

Running analysts compare the ideal running form being that of a sprinter or like a kid playing tag and getting chased in the backyard.  Even for distance runners, even though we’re averaging slower miles and times than sprinters it stands to reason that we want to be as efficient and powerful as we can be.

As a coach of course, I’m always trying to fine-tune and pay attention to every aspect of a runner and how to make them more efficient.   As a former therapeutic and sports massage therapist I also find myself analyzing potential weaknesses when I watch the gaits of my athletes.  It’s a tricky beast to tackle sometimes for girls especially as they begin to develop and hips and hit puberty.  The angle of the female hips and femur (upper thigh) translate differently into form than for a male.

There’s a retroactive approach to gait analysis.  I start backwards when watching a runner and analyze from the ground up with each joint or articulation.  I’ll watch them from a profile or side view and pay attention to their foot strike, then their ankle flexion and extension, then knee, hips and upper body lean, arm swing, neck and head position etc.

Then from the front head on, I’ll take a look at them in the reverse order – head and neck, shoulders, arm swing, hips, knees, etc.  There are a couple of great quick articles that I’ll share with you that are the current train of thought on running methods and how to obtain the most efficient gait while running.

The Pose Method of Running

The Pose Method of Running makes so much sense to me in terms of the physics of our biomechanics and how gravity plays it’s role.  The Pose Method of running not only takes into account the more proactive approach to running and accommodating to elements like gravity but also, heredity physical discrepancies, muscular imbalances, etc.

Pose Method of Running

Chi Running Method

There is also a similar approach but different name called Chi Running.  I first heard of this approach from another marathoner while we were waiting around in the athletes’ village of Grandma’s Marathon.  He claimed that he’d been injury free and faster than he’d ever been in his life.  I would maybe have put this gentleman at mid 40’s and we were both there that day to qualify for Boston.  Ironically we had the same pace and finish time goal but, I didn’t see him for the entire first 22 miles.  Just as we were coming into the brick roads of downtown Duluth, he ran up beside me and with the biggest grin on his face said, “Hey, we’re gonna make it!”  We ran the last 2-3 miles with each other and finished within just a few steps of each other.  And I haven’t seen him since, but left and came home and was spurred to dig deeper into running form efficiencies and deficiencies.

The Biomechanics of a Runner

There’s a great website called Sports Injury Clinic, that breaks down into laymen’s terms what exactly ‘biomechanical’ deficiencies are. See below

What are Biomechanical Abnormalities?

Being able to move efficiently is important in avoiding injuries. Having joints capable of providing sufficient movement and muscles capable of producing sufficient force is vital to generate an efficient gait cycle. If joints are stiff (usually caused by muscle tightness), limiting range of motion, or muscles are weak, the body must find ways of compensating for the problem, leading to biomechanical abnormalities.

Examples of biomechanical abnormalities include:

  • Pelvic tilt – can be either anterior, posterior or lateral

Biomechanical problems such as these are usually caused by muscular imbalances (tight muscles working against weak muscles), although they can sometimes be caused by structural problems, such as leg length discrepancies resulting in hip hiking.

Changes Don’t Happen Overnight

It’s one thing to identify a runner’s inefficiencies, but another thing to correct their form long term.  It doesn’t happen overnight!  Strength training, core work, and things like weekly striders will all help to make your form injury proof and more efficient.  But just as with any old habit, bad form dies hard and you have to work at all of the facets to make a change.

If you haven’t ever done it, I would recommend recording yourself or have a friend help you.  Try recording yourself at an easy pace, a moderate pace and a race pace or all-out pace.  Then replay it in slow motion and take a look.  Do your knees angle in or cave in when you watch yourself from the front angle?  Does your feet and flick out sideways?  That could mean weak hips and upper leg muscles.

From the side – do you set into your gait and miss out on the benefits of gravity by not leaning slightly forward?  Are you planting on your heel or overstriding?  Perhaps quicken and shorten your stride and see if it changes the foot plant.  You can look up oodles of form analysis videos on YouTube and see what I mean.

Or, what I’ll do with the cross country runners I coach is have them take their shoes off and run striders on the turf at our high school.  This naturally and instinctively makes them want to run on the forefoot and light on their feet.  It also lends a soft surface and I can see their ankle flexion easier without shoes on.  Give it a whirl!

Happy Fri-Yay Runners!  Along with the new podcast thing, I will be dabbling into the world of YouTube and doing some product reviews, race reviews, and vlogging.   I guess this is the 21st century and there are new ways to connect with people and reach out via social media platforms like YouTube.  So, I’m trying to be brave and try something new.  Peace out and have a great weekend!

Meet the New Kids in Town with the RMC Podcast

A few months ago the co-owner of a new specialty shoe store coming to town, reached out to me via my school e-mail address and was excited to show their support of our school running programs.  The shoe store is called Heartland Soles and they currently have a store in Johnston, IA and are opening up a new store in Coralville.  Yesterday, I finally got the chance to meet two of the store owners, Jordan Andrews and Madison Waymire.  They were good sports and let me run a Q&A with them, which I’m posting below as my inaugural RMC podcast episode called “Meet the New Kids in Town”.

A Little Background First

Two high school sweethearts from Kansas City, both avid runners, got married and opened their dream store together this summer in Johnston.

“We met on the high school cross country team, then we ran in college together,” Lindsey Andrews said. “We were undergrads at Columbia College in Missouri, where I was a six-time All American.”

A little background first – Lindsey and Jordan Andrews are the owners and operators of the Heartland Soles store in Johnston, IA and both have impressive running backgrounds.

Lindsey is from Lee’s Summit, Missouri and completed all 4 years of high school and in college in XC/T&F. In high School, she was never an all-state runner, but qualified for both XC and Track State meets. After high school, she competed at Columbia College where she dropped her 5k PR from 20:07 to 17:00 and earned 6 All-American honors. She then competed for the University of New Mexico for her 5th year and was part of the 2015 NCAA XC Champion team.
“We believe this is a great opportunity to serve high school athletes in the area, to help them stay healthy and have a great track and field/cross country season and career.”
Jordan also grew up in Lee’s Summit, MO and was able to compete in 2 high school cross country State meets and 2 NAIA National Championship cross country meets. Since the age of 15, he has wanted to work in a running store and loves learning about the differences of shoes and how they can greatly impact a runner’s success.

Coralville Heartland Soles

Lindsey and Jordan chose to expand on their vision of growth into the Coralville area and brought on board Madison Waymire to help them.  Madison has her own legit running history as well and is currently closing out her senior year running for the D1 local University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
Madison grew up in the Des Moines area and went to Dallas-Center Grimes High School. While at DCG she accomplished many top 4 finishes at the State meet including two 800-meter State Titles. In cross country, she was able to finish in the top 14 in all 4 years that she competed. After high school, she ran 1 year at the University of Missouri and transferred to the University of Iowa. Currently, she is competing in her last year of track. While at Iowa, she won the Big 10 Sportsmanship award and has been one of their top distance performers.
The new Coralville shoe store will have their grand opening this Friday and Saturday 3/30 – 3/31.
They have a great location right down on the Coralville Strip, close to the U of I and the bike/run trails.
They show their support of all the local schools and runners with a school singlet from each upon their walls.  Prairie High School is even amongst that mix too! 😉
“To extend our support for student-athletes we offer a 10% discount on their shoes and spikes. Along with this discount, we give the schools 5% of those sales right back to you at the end of each season.”  

Meet the New Kids in Town with the RMC Podcast

Madison and Jordan were great sports to take a few minutes out of their preparations for the grand opening to do a quick Q&A with me.  It was a fun way to get to know them each as runners and individuals.

This was my first Q&A with anybody as Runnermomcoach and the RMC Podcast I’m gearing up to start.  I promise to get better sound equipment for the future but hopefully, you’ll still enjoy listening and getting to know Madison and Jordan thru the recording below.

Willingness to Collaborate

I left the store yesterday excited about some collaborating ideas we came up with between Heartland soles and Prairie Girls XC program.  Perhaps a Q&A with Madison at our cross country camp so that our high school girls can hear first hand what life is like as a D1 runner and how to make that transition.  Or perhaps, we’ll do a run from the store up to the U of I Ashton cross country course, which was our State Qualifying course last season.  They were super supportive and willing to collaborate and now my head is spinning with all kinds of possibilities.  How fun!

Happy Fri-Yay and have a great long run this weekend!!

My Pledge to Anti-Doping and Keeping Sports Clean

I Solemnly Swear to Keep it Clean!

A few weeks back one of the pro athletes that I follow on Twitter-Kara Goucher, sent out a tweet Congratulating another fellow pro-athlete-Molly Huddle on a recent performance.  Above her tweet, I noticed that it was retweeted by CleanSportCollective and I didn’t know what or who that was.  I was immediately intrigued and looked them up.  And now I want to pass along the message and I feel it is an essential one.  “I Solemnly Swear to Keep it Clean”!  Keep what clean you might ask?  This post has me on my “soap box” and is a brief surface level nod towards anti-doping and keeping sports clean.

Clean Sport Collective is a community of powerful voices comprised of athletes, brands, events, clubs, fans and public to support the pursuit of clean sport and athletics through the absence of performance enhancing drugs.

With the help of our partners, we will work together to bring the importance of clean sport to the general public through awareness, testing, industry advocacy and restoration.

Making the Pledge

Obviously, as a middle school and high school athletics coach, I have a platform to drive these principals to kids at a young age.  Our school personally has an absolute NO TOLERANCE policy.  I feel very strongly about this and want to advocate it even beyond just high school.

If I’m lucky, there’ll be runners from year to year that decide that running is their thing and are good enough to be able to continue their careers on into college. And who knows, we haven’t had any yet but there may even be some runners who go onto run professionally some day.

When I went to the Clean Sport Collective website to check them out, I also came across their Join Us Pledge.  It is a pledge to advocate for a clean sport thru personal action.  I pledged as a Coach of course;

“I pledge to support clean sport by working with athletes who are committed to training, competing and living clean and not working with athletes who have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Working with individuals who choose not to play by the rules steals from hard working athletes that choose to do the right thing and challenges the health and integrity of sport.  I understand it is my responsibility to be a positive leader to my athletes and in the community as an ambassador and advocate for clean sport and I will not use my authority to influence athletes into making decisions to break the rules. I pledge to support and guide clean athletes. I honor the leadership role I carry, and I will always lead athletes down the clean, honorable path.” 

Bad Press for Russian’s in Winter Olympics

Recently there was quite a bit of press on sports channels and social media surrounding several Russain athletes who chose to enter as neutrals into the Winter 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.  Ironically the country had already previously been banned from the Olympics for doping offenses.  You can read about it here.

I’ve fallen onto this topic in the past with the world of professional cycling, and track and field.  There are many stories out there.  For example the famous Lance Armstrong doping rise and fall.

Another instance that hit home was Marion Jones the track and field sprinter who had won 5 medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics but was stripped of her medals after admitting to using steroids just before the games.

I mean come on people!!!  No fame, acknowledgment, or $$ is worth being a poser who can’t perform naturally.  What a joke!!  Anyone who chooses to cross the ethical boundary of using some form of performance-enhancing drug is a liar and a cheat and doesn’t deserve the honor of even competing against those who have shed real blood, sweat and tears to get to where they’re at.

Anyone Can Pledge & Every Athlete Should!

I was impressed with the thoroughness of different pledges available on the Clean Sport Collective website.  Even student athletes, amateurs, and healthcare providers can pledge.  The company doesn’t seem out for money as it is a non-profit.  Clean mission, clean sport.

I’ve decided to attach links below for each of the pledges and the Clean Sport Collective website.  I highly encourage you to check it out and to consider taking a less passive stance on the topic.  Thank you for hearing me out!!

The Charter Pledges

Naps – It’s OK to take one…Right?!

Why Runners Need Naps and How a Mom Gives Herself Permission to Take One

I don’t know about you all, but Spring Break plum tuckered me out some days.  I’d get up and run 5-6 miles every morning, then we’d go site seeing, shopping, hanging out with out of town family, stay up late visiting, and then wash, rinse, repeat.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful time but by the end of the week I think I even said out loud once or twice, “Man!  I could take a nap!!”

BUT for some odd reason, I can never justify taking one.  I always feel like I”m not maximizing my time or not getting something done that I should be doing.  It’s really dumb, I know!  I mean we prioritize napping for our ‘littles’ when they’re babies and growing up.  Even professional athletes (which I, of course, know I’m not, but…) have scheduled naps in their routines.  My body is trying to tell me something I suppose.  It’s OK to take a Nap…Right?!

A Culture of Living to Work

I couldn’t believe it!  We did a college tour with my oldest daughter at Colorado University in Denver, while we were on break and ironically they are currently in the process of building a new campus wellness center.  It seemed like a subtle message to me from the universe when the tour guide mentioned that the wellness center is purposefully being built with “nap rooms” in it.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, naps are an important part of many cultures.  I grew up with an ingrained mentality of our society and principles being that we can never get ahead and that if we want to get the most out of life we’ve got to constantly hustle.  A culture, if you will, that lives to work, instead of working to live.

“As a nation, the United States appears to be becoming more and more sleep deprived. And it may be our busy lifestyle that keeps us from napping. While naps do not necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. Nappers are in good company: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap.”

And then there’s the argument for why athletes should take time to nap.

Runners Need Naps

Ok, I realize I”m not a professional athlete and that the reality for myself as a commoner, is that I don’t get paid to do what I love – run.  But that’s not to say that I’m still not asking my body to do a lot, and that I shouldn’t prioritize it’s recovery with a nap here or there.  Or at least that’s what I’d like to tell myself the next time I feel like I need a nap and am panged with guilt.

Check out this blog post by Fatigue Science that talks about “Why athletes should make sleep a priority in their daily training“.  According to the infographic, “Sleep is for Champions”.

Sleep to be an All-Star

From Visually.

Running Science

But seriously, there have been plenty of studies done on what happens within the physiology of our bodies and how our muscles rebuild and repair during sleep.   It is probably one of the most overlooked recovery techniques, and yet one of the most unquestionably beneficial and restorative, according to Owen Anderson, PhD as noted in his book on Running Science.

Sleep can make or break submaximal or maximal performances.  Here’s another link with some more details regarding even eating something with protein prior to going to bed at night which helps promote protein synthesis and muscle repair.

During sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis (provided protein is consumed prior to sleep) occurs. These are only two beneficial aspects of sleep. Energy consumption reduction and brain cell restoration are two other aspects equally important for bodybuilders.

The Power Nap

I call my running bestie the Queen of Power Naps.  She will lay down and give herself permission to take a 20 minutes power nap and let go of everything else that needs done for the time being.  She sets her alarm timer on her phone and then shreds some quick zzz’s.  It seems like such a simple concept.  So simple that giving oneself permission to sleep for only 20 minutes and let everything else go, is easy and can be guilt free.

Supposedly according to WebMD the 20-minute power nap is brain-boosting for benefits such as alertness and motor learning skills.

I’m thoroughly convinced that taking a nap doesn’t need to be something we as a culture should feel guilty about.  In fact, it’ll make us more productive, more efficient, healthier and have an overall better wellness. And after a hard workout, it’s well deserved.  Napping is for champions!

P.S. I’m working on transferring my iTunes Marathon Playlist to my website.  It’s not quite done yet, but stay tuned.  Here’s just one quick sample of what I ran to today on my Hilly run.  Hoy!

Eminence Front – The Who

YOUR Favorite Running Routes – New, Old, Re-discovered

Runners – Did any of you go on vacation somewhere over Spring Break and discover some cool new place to run?  Maybe you ran in a new city or a new trail??  Or perhaps you stayed around home over Spring Break and re-acquainted or fell back in love with an old route.  I want to hear about “YOUR Favorite Running Routes – New, Old, Re-discovered“!

My Photo Run Journal

A few years back I started a photo run journal for myself and my family.  There is so much inspiration and beauty that I find and see in the world on my runs and I wanted to document it.  At first, I just started printing off the photos and scrapbooking them.  Now, that I’ve joined the 21st century of social media I now post many of them to Instagram @runnermomcoach and try and share the inspiration and beauty with others.  I figure that maybe my pics will inspire and motivates others to get out there or will get another runner out of their rut or regular routine. (my Instagram Feed and option to Follow is on the right of this page).

Anyway, now I want to hear from you all!  I want to see if we can create a community that will continue to ignite each other and our shared passion for running.  I would love to hear from you thru a few questions in the form below.  I’ll re-post with your permission and foster the forward moving running community.  Don’t be shy!

Please feel free to include any pictures you may have from your run or the place.  Tell us about where your route can be found and what type of scenery we can expect.  Was, your running route nomination from somewhere within the United States?  Or is it international and abroad? Do you have a social media platform or Instagram feed that we can follow you on?

Submit YOUR route by filling out and submitting the form below

Where are YOUR favorite Running Routes ?
I want to hear and see pictures of your favorite running routes. Send me details on a new route or an old one, doesn't matter. Feel free to send any pics you may have taken, and or GPS coordinates. Perhaps even check out creating a map of your route on
Tell us your first and last name, or your running alias. HA! You may also choose to include your Instagram username to show us pics you posted or took on the run. (this is not a required field)

Ode to the Great Roger Bannister

Dear Mr. Bannister,

You will forever be known for your speedy sub 4-minute mile.

I can only imagine the momentous day in Oxford

gifting the world an ear to ear smile.

It’s a bit amazing your feat!

Been called “The Everest of Athletic Achievement”

Your inspiration some greet


others who missed the mark with bereavement.



The “Miracle Mile” as we now know it,

caught John Landy the ‘Aussie’ glancing over his shoulder to bestow it.

“The Moment” commemorated forever in Hastings Park

Track and field history stamped and left with your mark.


May you now rest in peace as we honor your excellence.

Live on the dreamers and over achievers

for what you’ve done exerts resonance.

Bannister! Bannister!!  The ‘Lone Wolf Miler’ achievement lives on.

A barrier breaker and of sorts a liaison.


Coaches Corner Friday – Taking Your Grit out into the Big Wide World!

Taking Your Grit out into the Big Wide World!

Welcome to the tail end of winter running everyone!!  If you’ve already tuned into this week’s blog posts you’ve already observed that the theme for the week was “Grit”.  I shared some personal inspiration that came from a great book written by Angela Duckworth, literally called GRIT.

And now that we’re at the end of the week and we’ve identified from Mom Blog Monday’s post; “GRIT” – What is it and do YOU have it? and a few grit growing resources on Wednesday’s Happy Running Hump Days post; “GRIT” – Motivation and Inspiration on ways to be Gritty.  It’s time for you start or continue “Taking Your Grit out into the Big Wide World!”

“Grit” is a Lifestyle

I mentioned in my posts earlier this week, that teaching grit is something that is always a priority for endurance athletes and specifically something I strive to do with my cross country team.

Helping runner’s develop grit isn’t something that happens overnight or in one day during one run.  Isn’t having grit in itself, kind of embody a mindset and lifestyle of perseverance, tenacity, and willingness to dismiss discomfort for a purpose or goal?  As a coach, one of the first steps in teaching towards longterm success and grit as a runner is to first help the kids identify their passion for running and to help nurture that passion. Basically, they have to learn to love it before they’re going to want to stick with it for any duration of time.

After the first season or two of creating a love for running or igniting the passion for running, then we start to get hungry for the possibilities of what each runner can be or become.  Thus, the goal setting stages.  Dream big, dream far, dream for what they can become.  Setting the goals and mapping out how to get there seems easy.  Haven’t we all been guilty at some point in our lives of setting a goal and becoming excited about it and then abandoning it or getting lazy somewhere in the process.  This is the ‘grit’ growing stage.

Broken down even further within the process, we take every opportunity to drive grit characteristics into the runners.  Fortunately, the State of Iowa and athletic union allows direct hands-on coaching during the summer with athletes.  For a fall XC season, this is a win-win situation because we use it as a sort of bricklaying base pre-season.  It’s during these hot summer months of running and building mileage progressions with long runs that we remind the kids how tough they are and need to be to grind thru some of the workouts.  And then from day to day, week to week, month by month they see that it all becomes relative.  They can get thru hard things and it almost de-sensitizes their fragility to what can be considered tough.  They ‘callous’ themselves so to speak and the byproduct is “grit”.

Tom Bilyeu and his YouTube channel and website Impact Theory  – shared on Wednesday’s post – offers an incredible FREE little poster and print off that really encapsulates some of the basic GRIT character necessities and fundamentals.  I’ve attached a link directly on the poster image below to go to Impact Theory website to paruse the information yourself.

The 25 Steps to Living a Life of Impact – Impact Theory

Do you have a “GRIT” mantra?

Additionally, one of the other ways we coach our XC runners to specifically have and train for having “grit” is to teach them how to adopt a mantra.  Runners World magazine had a great article in their March 2018 magazine that spoke towards how to develop a mantra with a great accompanying visual cartoon.  It reminded me of a Mad Libs game from when I was a kid.  You know the little books that had sheets inside with stories where you had to fill in the blanks with an adjective, or verb or noun.

If you don’t’ subscribe to Runner’s World you can read more on the specific article from this website.

Have you ever used a mantra for yourself?  What has been one of your favorites to use?  My personal favorites are one I stole from Shalane Flanagan – “Cold Execution”.  And the other was something I read somewhere and it is, “I do hard things”.  Both of these are what I remind myself of when I start feeling sorry for myself during a run, or tough workout.

“Cold Execution” to me means, to remove any emotional response to what’s going on and just try to ACT LIKE A MACHINE and EXECUTE!  And at other times I like to remind myself that yeah, what I’m going thru seems hard but not to shy away from it.  “I do hard things!”.

I would love to hear your personal mantras and if you think it’s an especially a good one and are ok with sharing, let’s put them out there for others.  Own your mantra!!  Happy Fri-Yay!!!

P.S. To submit your mantra, click on the Like button below and enter it into the comments box once it pops up.  Or click on the Contact Corrie tab on the right side of the screen.