Tag Archives: 1/2 marathon



Runner’s World published an interesting article giving a review of a new app called Kangarun.


Runner’s World seems to think the app works pretty well.  Unfortunately, since I am not an iphone user I haven’t been able to test the app myself, but I would highly recommend anyone with an iphone try out this app!

Why would I have someone try out this app?  For one, it is only $.99.  We make so many silly purchases in life, why not one for $.99 that can help our running form?  Half the battle with teaching running form, is the inefficient runners don’t realize they are running inefficiently and the efficient runners keep trying to correct their stride, making them more inefficient then they started out.

Having an app to give you an overview of what you are doing is a perfect, inexpensive way to begin to increase your running efficiency!

kangarunThe app works by giving you feedback on vertical movement during your run.  If your running is inefficient (or if you are type A like most of the runners out there and want to work to improve the efficiency you already have) reread Good Running Form is a Easy as Listening to Your Own Body and How To Find Dorsiflexion.  Then during your next workout see if your efficiency graphs improve!  If they don’t improve the first time, focus on another cue.  Overtime if you watch the efficiency graphs and keep working to improve different aspects of your form, your running will increase greatly!  You will also learn which cues give you the most efficient run.  If your efficiency score greatly increases when you focus on landing on your mid foot, you are most likely a natural heel striker.  If this cue doesn’t improve your efficiency much, it may mean you already do that well, but you have to work on your forward tilt!

I don’t recommend working on form every day.  Obviously we all want to get faster and work to run longer.  Therefore, we can’t always focus on form.  Sometimes we need to focus on speed and use our natural form.  Over time you will begin to see the more efficeint running pattern becomes your natural form!  I recommend aiming to use your efficiency app to track progress twice a week:

  1. When you do your easy recovery runs.  (This is a good time to focus on form since you aren’t running hard or for a long time.)
  2. When you do speed work.  (Often when we work to run faster form goes out the window.  Don’t necessarily focus on running cues if it destroys your ability to hit your times, but do check the graph afterwards.  If you spend some time each run thinking about running form, the largest efficiency gains will come during your speedwork runs!)
Kangarun recommends using a treadmill when using the app to get the best results.  Often we naturally vary our speed as we run and a treadmill is a great way to maintain constant speed so the app can correctly calculate our vertical movement per mile.
Have you tried Kangarun? Let me know what you think!
barefoot running

Pumped up Kicks: Is barefoot running for me?

No this blog isn’t about Foster the People, or songs that are good to run to.  (I will say though right now I am digging: Young Blood by The Naked and Famous, Sail by Awolnation, Somebody that I Used to Know by Gotye, and Frankenstein by Tokyo Police Club)  This blog is my opinion on barefoot running.

Today I got a new pair of pumped up kicks!  I’m super excited about them.  I spend the majority of my day on feet thus I have Shoes for Neuropathy, Jogging, Workingout and even for my Zumba classes.  Being the multi-tasker I am I feel I should be doing something positive for my body while I work. Wearing minimalist shoes while walking, working, cross training, and strength training is great for your body.  They make you recruit more muscles in your arches, calves, and glutes to support your bones structure.

barefoot running

My new Nike Frees! Thank you Norman!

So do I support Barefoot running you might ask?

That is a tricky question.  I do know it can be done right, I doubt the average person can do it right.  I don’t believe women can run long distance long term with a barefoot stride.  So what does that all mean?

I doubt the average person can do it right because of the patience required to completely rebuild from scratch.  No that doesn’t mean starting a training routine barefoot.  It means forcing yourself to decrease your mileage and speed slowly building up from less that a mile at a much slower pace very gradually over time.  I do know one runner who has done that.  (Props to you Adam Depue!)  Most runners, however, I don’t think have this patience.  If you want to prove me wrong, I will greatly credit your determination and patience!

Women on the other hand is another argument.  I do not know a runner who have done it.  They have all developed an injury at some point.  If there is someone out there who is female and has been running consistently injury free I would love to hear about it and chat with you.  I do not think this is a common case.

Born to run will argue about how our ancestors ran barefoot.  Obviously able to not only run, but also provide food by hunting and gathering in minimalist footware.  There are some holes I could punch in this argument (arguing life-expectancy for example), but I won’t.  I will give them props in saying their argument point to how sedentary we have become as a society.  If we were to go back to our ancestors example we would be stronger for it.  I do feel we could all be stronger by wearing “barefoot” shoes more often–why I got them for cross training and work!

What Born to Run won’t talk about is WHO those hunters and gathers were.  They weren’t women.  They were men.  Those were the tradition barbaric roles.  At a more scientific level, it also won’t talk about the Q angle.

barefoot running

Women’s hips are wider on average then mens.  This is so we can bare children, but it also puts our knees under greater pressure in sport (or hunting and gathering in prehistoric times.)  This is also why women are at greater risk for tearing their acl in sports like soccer.  Sharp cutting can tear the acl of woman who hasn’t built up her stability muscles much easier than her male counterpart athlete.  If a woman doesn’t have proper arch support she will be predispositioned to develop runners knee much quicker than a male would simply by her anatomy.

Long story short, barefoot runners beware.  I respect those of you who have had the patience to develop the musculature needed to support this.  I am weary of those I know aren’t strong enough to do it.  I will, however, proudly sport my barefoot shoes anytime I’m not running!

Check out good prices for Nike Frees!


Treadmill (n.): A Good Tool for Speedwork

Treadmill (n.): A torture device perfected in the 20th century, designed to destroy one’s mind though sensory deprivation and monotony. -Mark Remy Runnersworld.com executive editor, in The Runners’ Rule Book

Mark Remy is right, the treadmill is a torture device!  We should try to do most of our runs outside.  Get out on trails, run down by a river, even around your block! (at least you will be getting vitamin d!)….But the treadmill can be a great tool when it comes to speedwork.  (…and a great way to save your feet from blisters if you live in the PNW!)


Why do I need to do speedwork you might ask?

A couple reasons:

1.  It will make you faster.  When you do intervals you deplete your muscles of energy (pushing near your lactate threshold), then recover allowing your body to begin to rebuild your energy stores with aerobic metabolism.  As you do this more and more, your body becomes more efficient at removing the waste caused by harder working muscles and begins to build more mitochondria (those bacteria that live inside your muscles that eat CO2!).  This allows you to maintain higher speeds.  This is important for those of you who have PR times you would like to hit.

2.  For those of you who don’t care about your time, intervals will make your body more efficient at making energy, therefore making your “normal” pace feel much easier.  This will make marathon or 1/2 marathon day more enjoyable.

3.  For reasons outside of racing, intervals have also been shown to burn fat better.  Intervals leave you with a larger need to produce energy post workout.  This will lead the body to tap into your fat stores to make that energy both during recovery and post workout.–Don’t think you can eat a more because of this.  This only works if you stick to your normal diet!

4.  Finally intervals have been shown to boost your HDL (the good cholesterol).  This cholesterol combined with an elevated heart rate sends rushing blood through the arteries cleansing them by removing plague build-up caused by LDL. This bad cholesterol is sent to the liver where the liver can break it down.  This will help prevent heart attacks so you can outlive all your friends!–AND EAT ALL THAT STEAK!! 😉


What’s your favorite speedwork workout?

Running Physiology, How We Become Better Runners

How is it that I can go from not being able to run 3 miles to being able to complete a marathon?  What is going on during training that makes what used to be my hard speed during intervals my now normal pace?  Before I begin to explain some of the running physiology that occurs in our bodies during our training to make us better, faster runners I must first explain what an adaptive process is.  Our bodies are not in constant equilibrium.  There are continuous changes in our environment that our bodies must learn to adapt to.  Lucky for us, these reactions are hardwired into our DNA.  They are occur automatically without us needing thinking about them.


When is gets cold, our internal core temperature lowers.  This signals our vessels to constrict shutting off blood flow to our limbs to help maintain core temperature.  (That is why hands and feet get cold so fast.  Cold is a “stressor” or stimulus passively distorting our bodies’ normal equilibrium.  These stressors stimulate specific physiologic responses. An acute stress will stimulate a short term response usually in our central nervous system.  (Think heart rate increasing, blood pressure going up or down, sweat starting to pool)  Over time (think weeks to months) repeated or continuous stress will trigger organ function changes (think hormonal changes and process changes.  Did you know that 2-3 days at altitude will stimulate the kidneys to leave more CO2 in the bloodstream in response to continuous elevated breathing?  Remember it is increased CO2 that tells us to breathe faster not a lack of O2)  These organ functional changes lead to tissue and structural changes (also know as Genotypic Adaptation–you may have heard of Darwin, survival of the fittest)

Running Physiology, The Adaptations:

You may have heard that as we endurance train, one of the major adaptations that occurs in our bodies is that we build more mitochondria within our Type I (fatigue resistant highly oxidative muscle fibers.)  Mitochondria are little bacteria that have developed a symbiotic relationship with our bodies.  We keep these bacteria alive by our waste byproducts (they feed off of CO2) and they help us maintain long term exercise. (They are a major part of aerobic metabolism helping provide our working muscles with O2.)

One thing you may not know is that as we endurance train, we also increase our blood plasma volume.  Why does this help us?  It helps us because it allows us to maintain our cardiac output with a lower heart rate, meaning if we work to maintain our heart rate at the high level we are used to working at we will be running faster!

What is cardiac output?

Cardiac output (ml or L)= Stroke volume (ml/min) * Heart rate (beats/min)  …..We will return to this now let’s focus on what happens when our bodies endurance train.

Endurance training raises our core temperature.  Our bodies are dumb.  They don’t distinguish why core temperature raised, just that is elevated.  Therefore, heat stressors (a very hot day) and exercise have similar physiological responses.  (There are some added benefits that we get purely from exercise, however, training in a hot environment will have a greater effect on increasing one’s blood plasma volume.)

running physiology

What does this all mean???

So why is this important?  Why will more blood plasma volume help me run?  First off, you may have realized running makes you sweat.  When you sweat you sweat out water from your blood plasma (you don’t sweat out the red blood cells which is why your sweat isn’t red!)  When this happens our blood becomes thicker leaving less of it to travel to our working muscles.  This makes our stroke volume lower (stroke volume is the amount of blood our hearts pump per beat) therefore to maintain cardiac output our hearts need to beat faster = tiring faster.  If we increase our blood plasma volume we will not only have a much larger stroke volume to start with, but we will also be able to maintain our stroke volume as we begin to sweat.  (You will also notice as we get into better shape we sweat faster.  This is because we have more fluid we can spare and we become more efficient at starting this process because our bodies are better attuned to responding tothe “stressor”.)

Wow that was a lot…trust me I don’t think I have had to explain that since I gave the lab presentation 4 years ago it was a mouthful!  So what do we take from this?  What are the best ways to improve your running physiology?

1.  Drink lots of water post workout.  If we don’t give the body water right away we will not take advantage of the physiological adaptations we will become dehydrated and the further we get away from our workout the less intense the rate of absorption becomes.

2.  Heat can stimulate the same effect.  It causes 40% of the response so sitting in the sauna, steam room, running in the heat, or even taking a hot yoga class can give physiological benefits to help your running.  But once again make sure you are properly hydrated!

3.  Sweat is good!  Sweat means our bodies are efficient at cooling themselves.  Sweat is your friend.  Especially if you have enough blood plasma volume to sweat a ton and pump oxygen to those muscles!

So when your tired, don’t skip that recovery workout.  Recovery workouts are a great way to remind your body to enhance it’s running physiology.  When you cross train, hit a hot yoga class.  The 90min in the hot room help leave you with more blood for your next run–If you rehydrate properly!

Mental Training for runners

Mental Training For Runners

Dear Runners,

Many of you I know are getting ready for your fall races.  There is a book I found very helpful to training.  It is called Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald.

“True, the brain triggers fatigue in response to physiological signals of impending danger sent from the muscles, blood, and so forth, but the whole system is so incredibly complex that you can’t possibly train to push back individual fatigue factors.  What the new science proposes is that we forget about the physiological mechanisms (really the neuro-physiological mechanisms) of fatigue and focus instead on preventing fatigue itself (the pain and suffering, the slow down) in races.  You can train optimally to achieve this objective…” -Matt Fitzgerald.

Mental Training for runners

In layman’s terms, Matt is saying running is going to suck.  You on the other hand have chosen to do it.  What you can do is rather focus on the individual parts that suck, you can choose to train your brain at being stronger at overcoming the mental fatigue.  The physical fatigue will still be there, but you can train your body to be in it’s top shape to battle fatigue on race day!

Running isn’t just about moving forward for a particular amount of miles.  It is about being efficient and particular with your stride.  It is about establishing the musculature to support the action you are asking your body to do.  It is about establishing the neural pathways to needed to make the right muscles support your stride.

You read the manual on how to put together an Ikea coffee table.  This books holds the knowledge to help develop a runner’s body and mind.


Lungs and the power breath: An exercise for Runners

Runners I have an exercise for you.  The next time you are running take a DEEP DEEP breath.  Breath from your trachea, down to your left and right bronchi, down into your Bronchiole, and finally suck in a bit more so oxygen fills your Alveoli sacs!  Then note how hard this is to do.  This shouldn’t be hard at all, in fact this should be the breath you go to 3/4 of the way up a hill, at the 3 mile mark when you realized you have 10 more miles left, and at the beginning of the shoot as you sprint it in towards the finish line!  This is the power breath!

Deep down at the Alveoli sac is where the lungs contact your capillaries.  Capillaries are a bed of arteries and veins containing a large surface area good for diffusion of gases, minerals, and nutrients.  Without big deep breaths, there isn’t as much oxygen in those alveoli sacs.  Less oxygen in the alveoli sacs, mean less diffusion of O2 into the blood stream.  Less O2 in the blood stream means there is less oxygen for your working muscles.   Less oxygen for working muscles means less fuel for those muscles.  Less fuel for muscles means slower races.

So learn to breathe deep.  Feed those muscles!  Oxygen is fuel.  Without focused rhythmic breathing your tank will be running on empty!

Running in Richmond



This weekend I was in Richmond, VA.  As always I followed my own runner’s rule and used it as an opportunity to explore the city on foot.  It was even better because I got to go with my favorite running buddy, Tom!

runningHe took me on one of his usual runs through downtown Richmond.  Now that I have gone with him according to Steve’s Rule 1.58 we will officially call this route the Belle Isle Figure 8.  For those unfamiliar with rule 1.58: “A route is a route when it becomes a route:  If this sounds like circular logic, that’s because it is….Anyone who has run for any length of time knows what I am talking about.  A real running route, or “loop,” is greater than the sum of its parts.  A route has a history, a personality, a name.  A route can be short and sweet or long and ugly, urban or rural, hilly or flat or rolling.  A good route wears a groove into your collective psyche.

So: How do you know when a route truly becomes a route?  When two or more runners in your group can refer to it by name without confusion or further description.

When someone can suggest doing the Susan Seven, backward; or the Bait Shop Loop; or simply, Fifth Street, and everyone else knows just what that means…..CONGRATULATIONS.  You have a route.”

Along this route are some pretty cool things.


The route starts by running down the Richmond Canals of the James river.



You turn right then left to catch the city graffiti.

Then cross a bridge across the James River to hit Belle Isle.  The Island itself is about 2 miles in radius with all kinds of trails and old debilitated buildings to play in.

You can also plan to end the route early and lay with the tanners near the river rapids if you so choose.


So the next time you visit a friend do them a favor and let them take you for their favorite run.  Then it can become an official route.

runner's rules

It’s back! Here come your runner’s rules…

HI Runners,

For those who have been following me via email prior to the blog you have been around for Mark Remy’s Runner’s Rule Book Lessons.  With race season approaching and some loyal runners requests for a refresher Mark Remy’s, The Runner’s Rule Book: Everything a runner needs to know–and then some, is taking up coffee table space again.  I will be sharing with you the most important runner’s rules guaranteed to get you to race day ready to run without embarrassing yourself or committing runners fauz pas along the way.

Before we dive into the actual rules it is important to define “running.”  “The only rules you need to remember for running-the-verb are these:

  • Use your legs to move forward (or to avoid moving backward if you are on the treadmill.)
  • At some point, both feet must be airborne at the same time.  (Otherwise, you’re walking, shuffling, or lunging.  Or skating, if you happen to be on skates.)
  • Avoid running into things, such as holes, vehicles, structures, cacti, lampposts, fences, other animals, and large bodies of water.

There is no better way to learn then by example so here is how we followed the most basic rules on our long run yesterday:

runner's rules

Post run in South Lake Union

“Rule 1.1 HAVE FUN

You thought I was kidding when I called this the first rule of running?  No way.  I’m serious about having fun….

In fact, even when you do it improperly, running is still pretty fun (just like another animal impulse that we could mention, but won’t.)  It is inherently, liberatingly fun.  There is a fundamental joy in movement, in forward motion….

Running is fun.  Indulge this instinct.  Enjoy it.  After all, there aren’t many animal impulses we can act on in public without getting arrested.” -Steve Remy

On long runs don’t treat them as something you “HAVE” to do.  You GET to go outside and play in the sun.  SO PLAY!  Have fun with your course.  Here are some natural obstacles I found along our Saturday run around Lake Union.

Find natural obstacles along the way. Parking curbs make great hurdles for a set of bounds mid run!

The Ladies didn’t want to partake in the fun with me, but I did get my bros to join me in a couple of bounds!

runner's rules

The Bro Pho! Way to bound it up with me gentlemen 🙂


Everyone did stop with me though to ham it up at the wall of death!

runner's rules

The whole group

runner's rules

hamming it up

runner's rules

Nice action shot Eric!


runner's rules

Wendy looking strong at the top of the lake

This is a corollary to rule 1.1.  As a runner, your definition of fun–which previously might have included such activities as  visiting water parks, watching screwball comedies on DVD, and scrapbooking–must be…well, let’s call it broadened.

For runners, fun might include:

  • waking up at 5:30 a.m. to run 10 miles
  • running in blistering heat
  • running in the rain
  • running in 400-meter circles
  • feeling as if your lungs are about to explode
  • paying a race director good money for the privilege of turning your own toes black and blue
  • any combination of the above.” -Mark Remy


We luckily had an amazingly nice day and didn’t get to hit any of that early 5:30 a.m., blistering heat, or rainy fun.  We just got to enjoy the sun!  On days like that you may even have enough energy to jump at the end of your run!

runner's rules

Jumping for Joy that it’s over!




And remember if you go for a long run you can feel less guilty about finding “fun” afterwards!  You do have to refuel! 😉

runner's rules

At paragon for Sunday FUNday Bottomless Mimosas!

going for the great

Going for the Great!

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” -Prefontaine

Going for the great

Great quote runners!  So many meanings top two ways I can interpret his words:

1.  When you’ve been invited to go to Happy Hour but haven’t hit your run for the day, forget  how good that post work buzz will feel and go for that GREAT runners high!

2.  Don’t run your speed workouts on days where they will only be good.  Make sure you make every speed workout GREAT.  Otherwise it is a waste.  The challenge, keeping your body healthy so that each speed workout can be GREAT!

Go for the Great Runners!  Race day is approaching! 🙂

beer run

Beer Run!

This weekend the running group met up on a brutally rainy Saturday.  Our mission (and yes only 5 choose to accept it, I don’t know if it was the mission or the rain) was to run 4.5 miles to the hollywood tavern, have around 4.5 beers and run back.  Some things to note:

1. The hollywood tavern only serves PBR, Bud Light, Coors light, and Rainier.  They have the top selection of light beers in the area.

2.  Ragner Relays have taught me light beer has the perfect CHO: Alcohol ratio to run faster in the next leg.

What we failed to realize, however, is the hollywood tavern doesn’t open at 10:45 which is

waiting to get into redhook. luckily they had a fire because I am drenched…you can even see the dew on my pants!


when we arrived.  Luckily Redhook opens at 11.  We arrived at 10:53 and only had to dance around in the rain and cold to stay warm (as Strohm so thoughtfully captured —> ) for 7 minutes until they opened.  The 5 of us manned up and finished 3 pitchers.  Not quite the 4.5 we would have at hollywood, but the CHO: Alcohol ratio is slightly skewed with darker beer.

We forgot to stop our GPS while we were waiting to get into Redhook, but we did average faster paces on the way back.  (Around 8:15’s there, sub 8’s on the way home)  I’m not sure if I can credit that to the beer or rain.  We may need to do another trial to get conclusive results 🙂

Moral of the story:  Not all long runs need to be boring.  Make your Saturday long run an adventure.  It is fun to do things on foot! 🙂