running 101: getting that form down.

Counting down the minutes until this weekend!  So excited because I get to hang out with some of my favorite girls and get our sweat on.  Which is also exactly how I spent last weekend, but I’m not complaining.

I had the privilege of joining two of my friends at City Fitness in Philly for a Thrive Training Class as part of the #MyCityMoves campaign.


The Thrive Training session focused on training to prevent injury while also building functional strength.  We started with 10 minutes of foam rolling and stretching which really helped to activate our muscles and get the synovial fluid going in our joints.  Then we split up into groups and moved on to a series of circuits.  These circuits ranged from box jumps to speed ladder work to push-ups with shoulder taps.  We completed each of these circuits 3 times before moving on to another set of circuits that revolved around goblet squats, overhead presses, and bear crawl taps.

Then came the piece de la resistance: 6 minutes of kettlebell swings where we focused on perfecting our form and making sure we were actually doing the exercise correctly which was a huge help since I had always wondered if I was doing them anything close to what they were actually supposed to look like.  Turns out I wasn’t far off, but good lord was I feeling it the next day.

The coolest part about the workout and the #MyCityMoves campaign in general is that they gave us a MyZone heartrate monitor that tracks your effort level in real time compared to those you are working out with.


Your heart rate is calculated based on your age, height, weight, and effort exerted and it was so motivating to watch your percentage change on the big monitor.  Biggest takeaway for me is that I have a really low resting heartrate.  Like slightly concerning, but I’m not worried about it quite yet.

All in all, it was an awesome workout and I have been wearing my MyZone belt religiously since Saturday.  The best part is that it takes your effort levels and gives you MEPS (MyZone Effort Points) based on how long you are in a particular zone and compares it with your friends.  So, it levels the playing field which is awesome.

I’ve been using my MyZone belt for my runs as well and it’s been super nice to be able to see my HR percentage right there on my phone.  On my Polar and on my Garmin, it will tell me my HR, but won’t tell me what Zone I’m in so I have to calculate it myself.


But you’re probably not here to listen to me blab on about my MyZone belt.  Let’s get down to Running 101 business.  Let’s talk about proper form.

Running is a full body workout.  You’re going to be using more than just your legs and the sooner you realize that, the better.  Your upper body and core play just a big of a role as your legs in running successfully, so let’s break it down:

  • Look straight ahead: You want your gaze to be ahead of you and your neck and shoulders to be relaxed and not tense.  This will keep you more at ease and will make your run more enjoyable.  This also helps your breathing because it creates a good, open airway.
  • Engage your core: Your core is the part of your body that keeps you upright and keeps your body balanced.  It is getting one heck of a workout when you’re running especially if you are running on less stable surfaces like trails.  Make sure you are standing upright with a slight forward lean while maintaining good posture when you’re running.  (Helpful hint: throw in some planks as part of your training, you’ll thank me later)
  • Keep your arms bent and close to your body with relaxed fists. Your arms are really helping you when you’re running even though you may think they’re just along for the ride.  Try and keep your hands loose so that your body isn’t spending energy on making your muscles contract.
  • Try to keep your stride on the shorter side.  No need to prance like a gazelle when you’re running.  Longer strides use up more energy and are less efficient.  Aim for a cadence of 180 (count your right foot strikes for 20 sec. and then multiply by 6).  This will help make sure your stride is the appropriate length.
  • Aim for a midfoot strike. There are many conflicting ideas about how you should land when running, but most experts agree that you should aim for a midfoot strike or landing just below the ball of your foot. I personally tend to land more forward towards my toes and that works for me, but each person is different.  In general, it is good to avoid heel striking or running too forward on your toes as these are both less efficient than the midfoot strike.

Here’s a helpful diagram to give you an idea of what to focus on when you get out there.

  • form


Running form is KEY to getting the most out of your workouts.  Once you figure out the proper way to position yourself, your runs will get much easier and you will avoid injury.


running 101: what do I need?

It’s been a busy start!  Work is taking off since we have a big conference coming up and I feel like I’m already drowning and it’s barely halfway through the week.  At least I have this nugget of a co-worker to keep me company.


No joke, I was sitting on my couch working and she came and lied across my lap and computer.  Girl is not afraid to go for what she wants, especially if what she wants is pets.

The thing that’s keeping me sane during this crazy time?  Running.  specifically running 9 miles on Monday because I am insane.  After signing up for the half marathon, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t entirely impossible so here we are.

image3The most important tip I can give you to start out your running journey is don’t care about how you look.  Every single time I finish a long run I look like a zombie come back to life who just got caught in a rain storm.  And I have no shame about it.

But real talk, let’s get down to business.  What do you need to start running?  Well, you’re in luck my friend.  You don’t need a whole heck of a lot.  Running is one of the most basic forms of exercise.  Humans have been doing it since the dawning of time and it is one of the few things that we are just built for.  That being said, with the invention of modern technology, there are some things that really help.

So, what’s the most important thing a new runner needs? Shoes.  Shoesshoeshoes.  Did I say shoes?  Because it’s shoes.

I’m not lying when I say that the right shoes will make or break your experience running.  If you’re really serious about trying this out, head on over to a running store like Road Runner, Fleet Feet, or another specialty running store and have them assess how you run.  The people who work at these stores are experts.  They know what to look for to make sure that the shoe you choose will be not only comfortable, but functional.

You want your shoes to be a little bit big because your feet will swell after about a half hour of running, so you’ll want that extra space.  Find out if you pronate or not.  This means you land with flat feet and is a fairly common problem, but good news, they make shoes especially for this problem.  If you take the time to invest in a good pair of shoes, you will notice.  Shoes can be a little on the expensive size ranging anywhere from $80-$180 for a good pair, but they will be well worth it.  Plus, this is pretty much the only real thing you need for running.

Other running things you may want:

  • Good socks.  Spoiler alert: you can buy these at the running store too when you get your shoes!  I get really bad blisters on my feet when I don’t wear the right socks, so this can be almost as important as your shoes.  You want to look for something that does not have cotton in it as cotton does a pretty crummy job of preventing blister.  Ask your new running expert friend at the store what they recommend.
  • Moisture wicking clothes.  We’ve all seen people going on runs in baggy t-shirts and shorts and they seem to be doing just fine.  Truth is, they probably are, but they would feel a whole heck of a lot better if it didn’t feel like they were dragging around a wet towel strapped to them.  Do yourself a favor and go to Marshalls and/or TJMaxx and pick up a couple of athletic shirts and pants for $5 each.  You’ll thank me later
  • Music/Podcast/Audiobook.  Not necessarily a requirement, but a nice to have.  Some people hate to run with anything in their ear distracting them from the world around them, but I am not one of those people.  Give me all the distractions.  Currently, I’m really into podcasts for my log runs because they’re about an hour long and there are so many different types that I can always find one to fit my mood.  Plus they’re free.
  • Foam Roller.  If you’re only in to the running thing because you want to get injured, don’t get a foam roller.  I made this mistake the hard way when I first started out.  A) I didn’t know what this mythical beast was.  B) This girl didn’t have time to stretch, she was all business.  Enter IT Band injuries, Piriformis injuries, Knee injuries, foot injuries.  You name it, I’ve had it. That is until I realized how important it was to massage your muscles.  A foam roller helps get those knots out of your legs and to get the blood moving so muscles heal faster and more effectively.
  • A good running app or watch.  You don’t have to track your workouts, but if you don’t how will you ever know how far you ran?  That’s part of the glory after all.  Chances are even if you tell some one you ran a mile this morning that’s one more mile than they’ve probably run since school.  Win for you.  My favorite running apps that track distance/pace etc. are Runkeeper and MapMyRun, both of which are free in the App Store.  As far as watches are concerned, I have the Garmin Forerunner 220 and love it, but it’s much more of an investment than one of the free apps so keep that in mind.

Those are the things I consider the basics.  Not all of them are mandatory you must have this before you run even a foot, but they’re things I have found that help me to keep going and can help you too.


Workout: Let’s try some intervals.  Sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds.  Stop and Walk for 30 seconds.  Repeat 10 times.