Thursday, September 29, 2016

9 Ways to Improve Your Running Form

Whether you’re an absolute newbie or you’ve been running for ages, it’s always good to find running tips that reduce the chance of injury and reduce wasted energy. As anyone who runs for exercise can say, there’s more to running than simply speeding up a walking pace. Runners can maximize their exercise by adjusting the body to proper running form. You’ll want to check out these 9 tips to improve running form. And form is important. Runners without proper form are more likely to injure themselves—and you don’t want a shin splint or plantar fasciitis to sideline you. Poor form, often in the form of clenched muscles, also wastes energy, which means you may not be able to go as far as you could or you hit the wall earlier than you might have otherwise.
As you incorporate new running tips into your routine, be patient with yourself. It can take time to adjust form so that it becomes habit. Another of the most helpful tips to improve running form is to ask an experienced runner to observe you as you run. He or she may be able to pinpoint bad habits you weren’t even aware you had. It doesn’t matter if you run around the neighborhood or participate in marathons, improving form will make you a better, more efficient runner. We’re sharing these running tips so you can make the most of this calorie-burning exercise—safely and efficiently.

9 Tips to Improve Running:
1. Hold that head up. Just as your brain directs the body, your head directs the posture. Instead of gazing downward toward your feet or the road, shift the gaze upward as though you’re scanning the horizon. This pulls your back into a straighter position. Be especially aware of gaze while running uphill; many runners tend to look up, throwing the back out of alignment.
2. Unclench the jaw. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you may already be familiar with this concept. Tight jaw muscles tend to cause tightening in the back. Pay attention to how much tension you’re holding in the jaw.
3. Relax the shoulders. Holding your shoulders up toward the ears is a surefire way to waste energy and strain muscles. Keep the shoulders loose and make sure that they’re aligned over the hips. Shoulders that are bent forward or slouched throw alignment off and increase the chance for fatigue and injury.
4. Let arms swing naturally. When you’re walking, the arms normally move in an arc between the hip and the center line of the body. Improve running by adopting that same natural motion for arms; the only difference is that the arms bend at the elbow instead of hanging straight.
5. Loosen that Kung Fu grip. It takes energy to tighten muscles, so don’t fritter away what energy you have by clenching fists tightly. A fist that’s balled up like it’s ready for a fight tightens muscles in the arms and shoulders. One of the simplest tips to improve running is to relax the hands as though you’re holding a breakable object, like an egg—no tighter.
6. Engage abs. One of the biggest causes for lower back pain in runners is that the ab muscles are not strong enough to support the back. Build those ab muscles by engaging them as you run. Imagine pulling your belly button in toward the spine.
7. Place feet properly. With each stride, land about mid-foot and roll forward toward the toes. This produces a lighter stride that mimics running over the ground rather than driving into it. Landing on the heels means the stride is probably too long, and landing on the toes often triggers shin pain.
8. Relax the toes. Keeping toes clenched as you run is one way to waste energy and put undue stress on the foot. Roll each foot smoothly off the ground to help keep clench-y toes in check and to improve running.
9. Check form mid-run. Minimize the chance of injury and maximize energy levels by doing an inventory of your form at least once or twice during each run. You might find that you start out with proper form, but as you near the end of a run the body tires, making it easier it to tense muscles or fall into bad alignment.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How, when, and what to eat to make you a better runner

From the breakfast table to the finish line, you are constantly making nutritional decisions that have a direct impact on your running. But what are you basing those decisions on? In order to make the best choices, you need to understand what your body needs before, during, and after runs, as well as during all those hours you aren’t running but wish you were.
Let’s take a look.

Daily Diet: Build a Better Base

In general, runners’ diets need to derive a higher percentage of calories from carbohydrates than the diets of non-runners. The more you run, the more carbohydrate calories you need. And while this may seem like a free pass to eat pastries and candy, it’s anything but.
To get the most out of your running, your daily diet (outside of the time you spend training) should be built around whole-food and lightly processed sources of complex carbohydrates, like the ones on this list. Complex carbs are broken down slowly by your body and provide steady energy throughout the day. Natural sources, like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, also pack in a lot of fiber and nutritional value that goes beyond just fueling your muscles. So, if you’re not already basing your diet around these foods, it’s time to start building a better nutritional foundation. Just be sure to integrate new foods gradually and give your digestion time to properly adjust.

Pre-Workout: Shift Nutritional Gears

Some runners eat before they train, and others don’t. Is one group right and one group wrong? No. It simply depends on what your training goals are and how your body responds.
Those who run before breakfast often claim this practice burns a higher percentage of body fat than running after eating, and that this approach trains the body to burn fat more efficiently and rely less on glycogen for fuel during long-distance training and racing. This approach gained widespread popularity when Bill Phillips published his 1999 book Body-for-Life. In the book, Bill makes a case for pre-breakfast cardio, based on higher rates of fat burning due to lower stored glycogen levels and blood insulin levels that make fat burning more efficient.
Those who run after breakfast or simply run later and don’t want to spend all day starving see it a different way. For this segment of runners, having extra fuel in the tank has physical and psychological advantages. If you fall into this group, shift things up by moving away from the complex carbs that make up your general diet to easier-to-digest simple carbs for pre-workout meals. These can come in the form of gels, sports drinks, and energy bars, or natural sources, like honey, fruit, and yogurt. Either way, the goal should be to get fuel flowing to your muscles, so your tank is full and ready for training.
While I know many pre-breakfast runners who are happy and successful, I have always prefered eating (usually 45 – 60 minutes) before I head out for a run. I eat a mix of complex and simple carbs that I know my body can handle without issue. I feel it gets my digestion going and helps train me to utilize food better while running. This is something that becomes increasingly helpful as you get into longer distances where you spend more time eating on the run.

Post-Workout: Jump-Start Your Recovery

As soon as you’re done running, your body starts the recovery and rebuilding process that will get you ready for your next run. If you’ve run long and/or hard, your glycogen supply will be depleted and your muscles will be eager for the nutrients they need to grow bigger and stronger. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to jump-start your recovery with the right nutrition.
Your post-workout nutrition plan should have three primary goals.
  1. Rehydrating
    No matter how diligent you were about drinking during your training, your body is going to need additional fluids once your session is done. This helps your body flush waste products, digest your post-workout meal more efficiently, and speed critical nutrients to your tired legs. Before you try eating anything, drink a glass of water, sports drink, or fruit juice.
  2. Replenishing Glycogen
    Fast-acting simple carbohydrates, help get your body’s refueling process started right. It is best to eat recovery foods within the first 20-30 minutes after your workout. This gives your body time to digest and deliver nutrients during the chemical window when your muscles are most receptive to absorbing them.
  3. Rebuilding Muscle
    This is where many well-intentioned runners unbalance their recovery nutrition. They know protein is essential for repairing and building muscle, so they overdo it. The best strategy for post-run recovery is to consume a mixture of carbs and protein in a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio. You should aim for about 20 grams of protein in your post-run meal, depending on your weight. Balance this with 3 to 4 times as many grams of carbohydrates, and your muscles will have everything they need to prepare for your next run.

Training: Master the Art of Eating in Stride

It may seem strange that we looked at post-run nutrition before we address the run itself, but there’s a reason I chose to break things down this way. Up to this point, we have been talking about eating in controlled, stationary environments, like your kitchen, desk, or post-run park bench. Once we include the act of running, things can get complicated.
From a general standpoint, you want to consume easy-to-digest simple carbohydrates while running. The most common sources runners reach for are sports drinks and gels. With no chewing, these liquid calories are easy to get in your mouth and easier to swallow than solid foods.
In addition to calories, your in-run nutrition should focus on hydration and sodium replenishment. The specific amount of liquid and salt you need will depend on your personal physiology and the environmental conditions you face during your run. Experiment with taking in more or less liquid during training runs and see how it affects your body. Also, experiment with sports drinks that contain higher levels of sodium, or try supplementing with salt tablets. Keep notes about how much you eat and drink, the weather conditions, the intensity/duration of the run, and how you feel during and immediately afterward. Over time, these notes will show you when you are eating and drinking enough and when you aren’t.
Training is the time you should be figuring out and practicing the nutrition strategy you plan to use when racing. Resist the urge to cut back on calories during your long runs because you want to lose weight. You will run better and see better results on the scale if you cut those same calories from other parts of your daily diet.

Racing: Stick with Your Plan to Avoid Surprises

If you’ve practiced your nutrition strategy during your training runs, eating right while racing should be easy. Unfortunately, the added intensity of racing makes it easy to completely forget what you learned during all those training runs. Here are few tips to keep you on track.
  • Never Try Anything New on Race Day
    If the aid stations offer different nutrition than you’ve been training with, I strongly suggest you plan to carry your own. This can be difficult in longer races, and is why it’s best to plan ahead and train with the same nutrition you’ll see on the course. Note: I started this tip with “never,” but if you are in the middle of a long race with nothing you’re used to at hand, you are probably much better off eating or drinking something unknown than trying to tough it out. Just be ready for digestive complaints from a stomach that may not appreciate the surprise.
  • Make a Schedule and Stick to It
    If you wait to eat or drink until you’re hungry or thirsty, you are setting yourself up for disaster. The extra level of exertion on race day can suppress your body’s hunger and thirst indicators more than you’re used to. If you wait until your body tells you it needs something, it will be too late. Instead, plan out how much you need to consume based on what you learned in training. Schedule that out over 10 to 30-minute periods and hold yourself to your plan.
  • Avoid Finish-Line Fever
    In long races, it’s easy to stop consuming fluids and calories once you get within a few miles of the finish. You may be sick of the taste of gels or afraid to break stride to grab a drink and get it down, but you should do it anyway. Even if the all the calories aren’t processed before you cross the line, this late-race nutrition still has significant benefits. Sucking down one more gel might convince your race-weary brain to let you run faster and finish with a harder kick. Plus, any calories and fluids that don’t get processed on the course will serve as the beginning of your recovery nutrition and help avoid a post-race crash.
So, how does your nutrition measure up? If you feel like you’re way off track, don’t panic. It just means there’s a lot of room for improvement. Start feeding your body what it needs when it needs it, and you’ll be a healthier, happier, faster runner in no time.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Feeling good about your walking program and looking to progress things to the next level? Interested in running but not too sure where to start? Get your running off on the right foot by following these 5 simple steps to progress from walking to running!
First of all – a word about the importance of taking this step the right way. As a doctor of physical therapy and running specialist, I see dozens of patients every season who decided they would like to start running and did so incorrectly. They either started with too much, too soon, with the wrong equipment, or weren’t strong enough yet to tackle the progression. The following tips will address these issues to ensure you hit the running trail the right way and enjoy a successful progression to start your running program!

Tip #1: Buy the right pair of shoes: Have you been into a running or athletic store lately and been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of shoe selection? Where do you start? Which ones are right for you? With the myriad of choices this task can seem daunting. Well there’s a reason behind that huge selection of shoes. It’s important to know that not all running shoes are created equally. They are built differently to offer either support or movement where needed depending on your specific running style. is very knowledgeable about what type of shoe is best for you and can assist you in proper fitting. Try to go somewhere that will offer you some sort of video analysis or pressure plate fitting when finding your shoes. Check out THIS POST to learn more about different types of running shoes and how to select the one that will be best for you. You can also use shoe advisor to find top recommendations from a trusted brand!

Tip #2: Find a running partner: You will be more successful in sticking to a regular running program if you run with someone rather than running alone. Runs are always more entertaining with a partner – you get to push each other to realize your goals! The biggest benefit, though, is that a partner will improve your commitment. The snooze button becomes much less of a nuisance when you have someone depending on you! Find a partner to go running with and see how far you can take your goals together. Join us on GORUNMIAMI to meet new partners and participate in free running groups.

Tip #3: Sign up for a race: For races in Miami ( Click here ) there are TONS of races listed between now and then end of the year (I’m sure your city/county/state/area, etc has a similar! Signing up for a race is great way to heighten your commitment and increase your dedication. All of the sudden there’s a little pressure as you have (most likely) had to put money down on the race. Signing up for a race is the quickest way to go from lackadaisical “if-I-get-around-to-it” running to setting apart time and dedicating yourself to a serious training schedule. An upcoming race is a fantastic way to get into a schedule with a goal in sight.

Tip #4: Start a running program: The most common problem I see among people advancing from walking to running is inexperience in proper run progression. Many people attempt to progress too quickly; they run too far too fast and end up getting hurt. The quickest way to sideline your goals of progressing from walking to running is an injury. So how do you avoid it? Slow and steady progression is key to your success. Start with walking 2 minutes and running for one and then repeat 10 times for 30 minutes of activity. Perform this for one week and then gradually increase your running time from there. This is an excellent way to progress to running safely and effectively. Come and join in one of GoRun Miami Free Running Groups (click here). You will be assisted by a specialized Couch in running and you could also sign in for our training programs.

Tip #5: Strength Training: A vital yet often-overlooked part to any running program is strength training. Running is hard! Running requires a lot of strength! Most people who come in to my clinic with a running injury have one thing in common… leg weakness (especially in the hips and core). Lack of strength and stability due to muscle weakness results in improper running mechanics and altered stresses on joints. Over time these stresses can lead to irritation, inflammation, pain, and eventually injury. So what’s the solution? If an injury is the quickest way to sideline your running goal then strength training is one of the best ways to avoid injury. You should supplement your run progression with strength training to key muscles in you legs, hips, and core. Squats, lunges, planks, side planks, side lunges, and heel raises are among my favorites to hit most major muscle groups involved with running. Consistently supplementing your running with these exercises will strengthen key muscles that will enable you to run longer, stronger, and injury-free.

Taking your training routine from walking to running does not have to be intimidating. If done correctly it can be both very safe and incredibly effective. Following these tips can enhance your potential and help you to achieve your goals!

Jared Beckstrand, Doctor of Physical Therapy, 
who specializes in exercise prescription. 
He loves being active and seeing his patients 
become more active and get into shape. 
He is also the Blogger at Tone and Tighten, LLC

by blog mizuno

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Running for Weight Loss

How to consistently lose weight with running.

1. A Hard Truth

First of all, a hard truth: if you are overweight it means you are eating too much. Now, mind my words. I didn’t say you are eating a lot, I simply said you are eating too much.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Food is our source of energy; it is the fuel that allows us to perform every task: from basic ones such as breathing, pumping the blood around the body and walking around to complex ones such as carrying the TV up the stairs or running when you’re late for the bus.
Our bodies are efficient machines. We come from a time when food was scarce and reducing waste was key to survival. Fat is the way your body stores extra energy. When you eat more than what your body needs, your brain doesn’t go “oh well, this is extra, I don’t need it – let’s get rid of it”. What your brain thinks is “Fantastic! Extra energy! Let me store this in case tomorrow you won’t be able to hunt a bison down so we can use this energy instead”.
Your body then proceeds to process that extra food and transform it into fat, which then gets stored under your skin a bit all around your body: your gut, (man) boobs, bum, legs and face.
You see, your brain doesn’t see fat as a bad thing. It sees it as a fantastic way to ensure survival in case you won’t be able to find food in the future.

2. The Good News

The good news is: the reverse process also applies and it’s also very efficient: if you don’t introduce enough fuel (energy/food), your body will promptly go and take it from its fat reserves.

The Caloric Deficit

We keep talking about energy and fuel because it’s an easy way to picture it. In science, this has a name which is CALORIE. A calorie is a unit of measure of energy. So you can replace everything you read as “fuel” in the paragraphs above with “calorie” and it will still be exact.
And why is this important? Because we can calculate it and plan our weight loss around it !
Caloric Deficit represents the amount of calories that your body doesn’t get through food and has to go and find in its fat storage… (almost) literally burning it.
It’s actually very easy: eat less calories than the calories you burn and you will shed fat away.

3. Your Basal Metabolic Rate

The Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is simply the amount energy (calories) you burn each day at rest. Even when you think you aren’t doing anything, you are using energy to breathe, move around, keep your muscles active.
The BMR varies by individual and depends on a lot of factors such as gender, height, weight, body composition (fat vs. muscle)…
There are many formulas to calculate your BMR and you can find a good calculator here:
Let’s use me as an example. I am a 34 year old male, 6.2” for 185 lbs weight. My BMR is 1927 calories per day.
That means that if I do nothing all day and I eat 1927 calories, I will neither gain or lose weight. But we do indeed do something every day. Just walking around and moving will put more more or less at 2,200 calories (use the link above to calculate your values!).
So if I want to lose weight, I have two choices:
  1.  Eat less THAN 2,200 calories
  2.  Be more active and consume MORE than 2,200 calories

4. How running HELPS you lose weight

Running is a calorie-consuming activity. When you run you contract and release many muscles – in the legs, feet, arms… your heart rate goes up to keep feeding oxygen and nutrients (through the blood) to the muscles.
Do you remember the caloric deficit? By running you increase the calories you burn during the day. This is a ballpark figure, but it’s estimated that running 1 mile burns 150 calories (it’s a very average value and depends on many factors including your weight, running efficiency…).
So if I run 3 miles a day I will burn an extra 450 calories each day. It means if I keep eating the same I will lose weight!
How much weight? It is calculated that 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. 1,800 calories a week (running 3 miles a day 4 days a week) means half a pound of fat per week. This if you eat to your daily caloric need. Chances are, if you are overweight, you eat more than that already.
Is it less than you were hoping? Don’t worry, you can lose more.

Slow and Steady wins the (weight loss) race.

Running is an amazing way to lose weight, but you need to understand that you need to build it up. When you start running you probably won’t even be able to run those 3 miles. Most beginners’ running programs will have you run-walk 3 times a week for a month before you can run 3 miles.
STICK TO IT! After all running is an endurance sport and as such, patience is what brings the best rewards. Don’t rush distances/speeds you are not ready for yet. They will come and it will all make it better very soon.

5. Why running WILL make you lose weight

As we said before, your running condition will improve with time and three things will happen:
  1. You will be able to run further
  2. In just a couple of months you will be able to run 8 miles in one session. Run 3 times a week for 8 miles each session and your weekly calorie expenditure will be 3,600 calories or a full pound of fat!
  3. You will be able to run faster
  4. Running faster will make you burn MORE calories per each mile.
  5. You will put on muscle
Remember your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) ? It’s higher when you have more muscles. That is because muscles are alive and need constant feeding just to be maintained, while fat just sits there.
Running will slowly but surely build muscles – especially in your legs. These muscles will consume extra calories even when you are not running, just because they are there !
To summarize: running is very hard at the beginning and you might not see results for a while (in terms of weight loss, but of course things like your cardio efficiency will be immediately and noticeably better). But keep running and in just a few months you will be a fat burning machine !

6. How to MAKE SURE you will lose weight (or, “mistakes to avoid”)

In the beginning the amounts of calories you will be burning is going to be low. And you will be very tired, because running is an effort that you are not used to.
You will feel like you spent more energy than you actually did.
Remember. One 3-mile run will burn 450 calories (approximation!). After the run you think “I need to re-hydrate, let me have a Gatorade”. A bottle of Gatorade has 300 calories. Does it make sense to run 3 miles to only reap the benefit of 1 of them? Energy drinks have a place, but when you run less than 1 or 2 hours, stick with water.
Also, many people think “Well, I ran this morning, I can treat myself to a candy bar!”. Do you know how many calories in a standard bar of Snickers, Mars or Lion? Almost 300. Two of your three miles are gone.
If you want to lose weight while running, don’t add calories to your diet. Not at the beginning.

What to eat ?

I am not a cook, but in our household we started cooking some of the recipes from the Metabolic Cookbook by Karine Losier. They’re easy to cook, tasty and with a decently low amount of calories – we don’t see it as a diet, just food to cook for the family. Try it out!

Last word of advice: don’t take shortcuts.

a) Running is a taxating sport for your body. If you aren’t patient and increase mileage/speed too fast you can get injured. This means pain, no running and no weight loss.
b) Decreasing your caloric intake is a good step, but don’t take it too far. You can easily and healthily burn 2-3 pounds of fat a week. But if you keep underfeeding your body, your brain will start breaking down the muscles instead of the fat (the logic is “we don’t have enough energy to survive! Let’s cut down those high-maintenance muscle fibers!”).

by Ruggero Loda - runningshoesguru