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Running

Running Form – Let’s Talk about Heel Striking!

Running form is one of those infamous things in running that is so important, yet so hard to get right! Running form can be a major make or break for a new runner. Having good form leads to gradual progress with a lower chance for injury. Having poor form leads to aches and pains, having to over-exert yourself, and sooner or later, injuries.

I have been running for over 6 years and getting my form right has been a journey. When I first started running, I can definitely say my form was inefficient and all over the place! At the time, I didn’t really have a clue and just went out and did what I loved in a way that felt natural. Now I have learned how important it is to teach yourself to improve your stride for your own health and safety!

When I first started running, I was a classic heel-striker. Heel striking means that when you spring forward and land during a run, all of your weight lands on your heel. This can lead to shin splints and other issues. Heel striking is a common issue for a lot of new runners because when you think about how we walk, most people put their weight on their heels as they step forward. That’s why it’s a process to teach ourselves that running isn’t just a faster version of walking, it’s a different process altogether. It took me a long time to work through the heel-striking and eventually give it up for good. Now, I focus on landing on my mid-foot. NOT on my heel. I have noticed that this has made my natural pace much faster and more comfortable (after I adjusted to it).

Heel striking vs. landing on your mid-foot

During my RRCA Run Coach Certification Training, our instructor had us practice an exercise which I thought was really helpful to prevent heel-striking. He said “I want you to stand tall and jump up and down in place and land on your heels” We all did this and it felt awkward, stiff, and a little painful. Then he said “Now I want you to stand tall and jump up and down in place and land on the ball of your feet” We all did this and it felt light, easier, and took much less effort to get much more “bounce”. This was an exercise to show that the way you land your weight during a run matters, and landing on the ball of your foot is much more efficient to spring you forward than landing on your heel. Running is like jumping forward. You wouldn’t land on your heel when you jump because it would hurt. So why land on your heel when you run?

If you think you are a heel striker, I challenge you to try to pay attention to landing on the balls of your feet instead, and see if it makes a difference! Also, be sure to change your stride gradually. Your body will need time to adjust to using new muscles in new ways, just like when you first started running.

Are you a heel striker? Have you overcome a running obstacle or changed your stride for the better? Share it with us in the comments below!

Want to work with us? Reach out to us at info.runningforwellness@gmail.com.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by dropping your email address in the subscribe box below!

Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Tips for New Runners

You’ve probably heard the saying “When it comes to trying something new, the hardest step is just getting started”. I’d say in the case of running, that is definitely true! For a lot of people, the hardest step to becoming a runner is just getting started. Running can be intimidating for someone who has never done it before. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be!

Today I’m sharing our top 3 tips for getting started as a new runner!

1. Invest in a pair of high quality running shoes

In a previous blog post, I shared a story about the running shoe mistake I made when I first started running 9 years ago. Don’t make the same mistake I made! I can’t highlight this enough because it is just so important! Getting fitted for high quality running shoes that are right for you will ensure that you are setting yourself up for success and reducing your risk of injury. Check out my Running Shoe FAQ’s blog post for more information!

2. Start out slow and don’t take on too much too fast

Here is another running mistake I made a long time ago that you can learn from! One time in college, when I had absolutely no running experience, I decided I was going to go for a run. So I put on my running clothes and ran around campus as fast as I could. I full-on sprinted around campus and by the time I got back to my dorm, I basically collapsed because I had completely over-taxed myself. That was the only run I ever went on that year. When you are first starting, don’t take on too much too fast. If you want running to be sustainable for you, you need to start out slow. If it feels too fast, slow down!

3. Don’t give up! It will get easier the more you do it

My final tip is to not give up! As you can see from my first two examples, I made this mistake in my early running days too! I gave up easily and didn’t stick with it long enough to see any progress. When you first start running, it will inevitably be uncomfortable because you’re trying something new! Give it some time. Your body will adjust and it will become easier. Before you know it, you will be feeling the runner’s high and so happy that you had the determination to stick with it long enough to see results!

Want to work with us? Reach out to us at info.runningforwellness@gmail.com. Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Running Shoe FAQ’s

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get from new runners is what type of running shoes they should wear. Our advice is to get a professional running shoe fitting and investing in a high quality pair of running shoes.

First, let’s talk about why this is important. Running shoes are incredibly important because they support your body as you run. You need to have a well-fitted, supportive pair of running shoes that is right for your personal biomechanics in order to prevent running related injuries.

I’ll start by sharing a personal story so that you can learn from my mistake. When I first tried running about 9 years ago, I went to a store at the mall and simply bought a cheap pair of trainers that “looked cool” without getting a fitting or really having any idea what was important in a running shoe. This was a huge mistake. I immediately got shin splints and struggled with foot and ankle pain the entire time I ran in the shoes. I eventually stopped because running in those shoes were too painful. I quickly gave up and thought running wasn’t for me. I didn’t even give running a fair shot because I didn’t get the first step right. I should have started by and getting a professional shoe fitting and investing in the right running shoes for me.

A lot of people resist investing in high quality running shoes because they tend to be pricey, but if there is one thing you take away from this blog, let it be this: The shoes may seem expensive, but they are very affordable compared to how much it will cost you if you get injured and have to pay for physical therapy, surgery, or worse in the future because you wanted to save money on the shoes. Investing in good shoes is an investment in your health.

Just like tires, running shoes don’t last forever and need to be replaced after a certain amount of use. With time and lots of use, the tread wears away and the support only lasts for so long. So how long does a pair of running shoes last? We generally advise that a pair of high quality running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. You can also usually tell when they start to get worn because they will begin to feel flat compared to when you first started wearing them and you will see the tread on the bottom of the shoe flattening out.

Many running stores provide complimentary running shoe fittings. They will discuss your goals with you so that they can identify a shoe that best meets your specific needs. Many running stores like Fleet Feet have really cool 3D Technology that scans your feet and takes precise measurements. They will diagnose your step, stride, and stance to find a shoe that is best for you!

Right now a lot of physical retail stores are closed due to Covid-19, so Fleet Feet is offering virtual shoe fittings which are a great alternative option in the meantime: https://www.fleetfeet.com/catalogs/virtual-shoe-fitting

Good luck & Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Races Running

Virtual Pittsburgh Half Marathon Recap

On Saturday, I completed my 5th half marathon! This half was a lot different from my previous 4. This was my very first virtual race, and also my first postpartum half marathon!

I decided to run this race on a local running trail where I also did most of my training. The trail is pretty flat, which is hard to find in the Pittsburgh area. I learned a few things during this virtual race that I want to share for anyone else that is thinking about signing up for a virtual race:

  1. Race support looks different – one of my favorite things about running races is the support from the crowds. The cheering, the clapping, the cowbells…the general excitement and energy that the crowd produces is contagious. It’s one of the things that gives me the race “buzz” – that feeling where you get goosebumps or when you suddenly get emotional during a race. That happens to me every time. During a virtual race, that crowd does not exist, which makes it a lot harder. The way I adjusted for this was by creating a “virtual” race support group. I sent text updates to my family throughout the race and they responded with supportive texts to cheer me on. They also watched for me to approach the finish line to cheer me on. This wasn’t the same experience as an in-person race, but the virtual support meant a lot to me.
  2. You’re responsible for your own nutrition/hydration – During previous races that I’ve participated in, it’s pretty standard to have frequent water stations where they will hand out cups of water and some sort of electrolyte drink. Also, a lot of races I’ve done have handed out gels and gu’s during the higher miles. During a virtual race, there aren’t water stations so you need to make sure you are prepared to handle your own hydration/nutrition on your own. I thankfully have a Nathan hydration belt that I use for all of my long runs. This belt contains two water bottles and a little zipper pack that can hold gu’s, a Clif bar, or my car keys. The hydration belt was definitely needed during this virtual race!
  3. Figure out the bathroom situation in advance – This one’s self-explanatory. During regular, in-person races, there will typically be porto-potties set up every few miles for runners. When you are running a virtual race, you need to figure out the bathroom situation for yourself. The trail I run on usually has porto-potties, but due to Covid-19, all the porto-potties had locks on them and were closed. Definitely something to be aware of as you scope out your virtual race route.

Overall, I was very happy with this race, and I am excited to receive the race medal!

Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Get to know Coach Jeff

Hey all! I’m coach Jeff and I want to introduce myself to you. 

I have always tried to engage in some sort of physical activity, whether it was weight lifting, running, or triathlon (swim/bike/run). But I seem to always come back to running. Running is versatile, you can do it on a trail, on a road, or on a treadmill (bleh!). 

Running has been reliable. Anytime I needed to de-stress, or cope with tough life circumstances, it has always been there for me. Running has helped me through tough times. It helps me feel a sense of purpose. 

I am not the most talented athlete, but I like working hard. I love that in running, you get out what you put in. I have run many different distances from 5K to 50K and I have a 100 miler on my bucket list. All of these races, and the training that I put in to complete them have offered me a different challenge and a sense of accomplishment. 

I want to help others reap the benefits of running. Not just the benefits for the body, but the benefits for the mind: like feeling a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and building up resilience to face challenges. 

That is why I became an RRCA certified run coach and that is why I love to help people reach their running goals! 

-Coach Jeff

Faith Mental Health Running

Running for Mental Health

Disclaimer: We are not mental health professionals. This post contains personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions and are not intended to replace medical care or professional help. If you need help, please consult a health care professional or licensed therapist.

Did you know that 1 in 4 people struggle with mental illness in any given year? The odds are you have a close friend or family member who has struggled. Or maybe you have. Today I want to talk about something really important and personal and that is mental health. People still don’t talk about mental health very much, but lots of people are affected by it.  Today I will be sharing my story and how running has been an important habit to add to my self care routine.

I want to be open about one of the main reasons why I run. Running helps me to manage my anxiety. I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. For a long time in my life, I wasn’t even aware that I had anxiety and just thought that worrying all the time about every possible worst case scenario was normal. I thought that my overwhelming fear of social situations just meant I was an introvert. We all feel anxious sometimes, but when it is chronic and starts to interfere with your life, it isn’t normal. I didn’t have the awareness about the anxiety to be able to know that I had a problem until I was in my 20’s, and that’s when I was given the ability to get help and break free.

For me, seeing a therapist has been the most crucial part to finding peace and working through my struggles. I have grown so much through therapy that sometimes I don’t even recognize my old thought patterns. I also take medication. Taking medication was something I resisted for a long time, until it became clear that it was the right choice.

Another thing that has greatly helped me to cope with anxiety has been placing my faith in God. I used to worry about every possible thing that could go wrong and try to control the outcome of situations, which was impossible and self defeating. I’ve learned to lean on God as my rock during times of uncertainty and fear. One of my favorite bible verses is 1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”. I’ve learned to give up my anxiety to God and it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

And of course, running is another way that I manage my anxiety. I like to tell people that I fell in love with running by accident, and I never set out to be a runner. I only intended to do a 5k to get in shape for my wedding, but I I instantly fell in love with the mental health benefits I was experiencing. When I was feeling down, I would go for a run and it would instantly lift my mood. When I was feeling anxious, I would go for a run, and it would bring me to a sense of calm that I couldn’t achieve elsewhere. Running releases endorphins and makes you feel good. There are lots of studies that show the mental health benefits of running.

Don’t get me wrong – running in no way replaces therapy or medication. I still see a therapist and take medication, but running is a very helpful tool in my self-care toolbox that I am so happy I have.

I am fortunate that I have become well-equipped to manage my anxiety effectively, and at this point, I am in a really good place. With the Coronavirus pandemic, the whole world is struggling through a new challenge that has thrust a lot of people into an anxiety that they might not have experienced before. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. You deserve to get the help you need. Reach out to a friend, tell someone about your struggles, schedule a virtual appointment with a therapist, talk to your doctor about it. Life is short and relief is available.

Be well!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Get to know Coach Lauren

Hi everyone, there are a few new faces around here so I wanted to take a minute to do a little intro. My husband Jeff and I are RRCA Certified Run Coaches and co-founders of Running for Wellness. We have been married for 5 (almost 6!) years, and we’ve been together for 11. We met in college during an internship. We have an 18 month old son named Ethan and a fur baby named Colbie!

I started running at age 26 when I was trying to stay fit for our wedding. I signed up for a 5k because I needed a goal to motivate myself. When I started training, I couldn’t run for more than a minute straight without stopping. Finishing that 5k is still one of my favorite race memories because it taught me that I’m capable of taking on new challenges and it opened up the door for me to a path of personal growth. After that 5k, I was hooked and decided I wanted to do more, so I signed up for a half marathon and the rest is history.

I’ve now done tons of 5ks, 10ks, 4 half marathons (soon to be 5!), 2 marathons, and a triathlon, but the most important thing is that I’ve discovered running as a self care tool. Running has changed my life and has helped me to improve different areas in my life. It has improved my physical health, my mental health, my confidence, and even my spiritual health (I’ll be elaborating on these soon).

I want to share those amazing gifts with others, which is why I became an RRCA Certified Run Coach. I know it can be intimidating to get started and difficult to stay motivated. I’ve been there, and I understand. I’m here to show you that you can be a runner too and you’re capable of more than you think! You owe it to yourself to be everything you’ve dreamed of being.

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me! Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Staying Active during COVID-19

The last month has been interesting to say the least. Being quarantined has thrown a wrench into all of our daily lives, and stress, isolation, and anxiety are increasingly common. Races are canceled. Fitness centers are closed. We cannot be closer than 6 feet away from other people. We’re living in a brand new world, and we’re all getting used to this new normal. Right now the days seem to blur together, and staying motivated to workout is harder than ever.

Establishing a running routine has been critical for me during this pandemic. Running has become my daily anchor that keeps me grounded. It’s the healthy thing that I get to look forward to each day. Running has helped me to clear my head, get some alone time, and has kept me feeling balanced – mentally and physically. Even though life is upside down right now, running is still there like a familiar old friend. I am currently following a training plan to prepare for the virtual Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Focusing on my training plan is helping me to stay motivated right now. I want to share a few tips to help you stay motivated as well.

Here are my top tips for staying active during COVID-19:

  1. Set a goal – Setting an goal that really excites you can be a great way to stay motivated. For me, the biggest way I stay motivated is training for races. I’ve been training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon for a few months. Now that in-person races are either canceled or going virtual, I decided to run my half marathon virtually. Other goals could be working out a certain number of days per week consistently, running a certain distance for the first time, working out to feel healthy, or to help you manage the stress we’re all inevitably experiencing right now. Whatever it is, find the goal that lights you up and go after it!
  2. Make it a routine – Find a time of day that works best for you to get your workout in. Some people prefer to run first thing in the morning. I personally prefer to run in the evening. It’s the time that works with my schedule being a full time working mom. We all have different lives and schedules. Find the time that works best for you and stick to it. Make it a habit. When you make it part of your normal routine, it becomes much easier to get it done. Following a training plan can be a great way to make exercise part of your routine. Workouts are scheduled in advance and all you need to do is follow the plan! And if you need help with creating a training plan, we can help you out! Also, if you don’t stick to your routine exactly, be easy on yourself. Life happens. If you miss a workout, adjust and move on rather than getting discouraged or feeling like a failure.
  3. Find an accountability partner or fitness community – Even though you’ve identified a goal that lights you up and established a solid workout routine, it’s only natural that eventually you will hit a slump with your motivation. No one is motivated all the time. I have days where I am tired and have no desire to run. These are the times when it is really helpful to have someone who will be there to cheer you on and remind you of why you’re doing this in the first place. This could be a friend, a run coach, or an online community of like-minded people where you can draw inspiration and motivation. Surround yourself with others who are doing the things you aspire to do and will bring out the best in you, and it will be much easier to stay motivated.

Do you have a favorite way to stay active? Let us know by commenting below! Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Why Hire a Running Coach?

You may be wondering why you should consider hiring a running coach. Why not just run on your own? There are many benefits to working with a certified running coach. Whether you are an experienced runner trying to improve your performance or a brand new runner who wants to get started in a healthy way, working with a running coach can be very beneficial!

1. Reach your Running Goals in a Safe and Healthy Way

A coach can help you to improve your overall performance and reach your running goals in a safe and healthy way. Run coaches are trained specifically on techniques to help runners improve their performance. That includes methods to increase pace, increase run length, and fuel and hydrate properly in a way that minimizes your risk for injury.

2. Motivation and Support

A running coach can be a great source of motivation and support! As your coach, we want to see you succeed and reach your goals! When you are trying to commit to a training program over a long period of time, it can be hard to stay committed by yourself. A running coach can keep you accountable and be the cheerleader you need to complete your workouts. A running coach can pick you up after a training disappointment and celebrate with you after you crush a new goal! Being there to support you through the process is one of our favorite parts of being run coaches!

3. Guidance and Advice

If you’re just starting out, you probably have a lot of questions and are looking for some general guidance. A running coach can help you with everything from how to find a good pair of running shoes to what to expect at your first race. A coach can help put your mind at ease so that you can just focus on your runs!

4. Working with a Running Coach can Take you to the Next Level

No matter how long you have been running, working with a running coach can elevate you to the next level. If you have been using the same techniques and getting the same results for a long time, it might be time to look into whether a coach can help you improve your performance. Working with a running coach can be a running game-changer that allows you to reach new goals that you didn’t know you were capable of.

Want to work with us? Reach out to us at info.runningforwellness@gmail.com. Happy Running!

-Coach Lauren

Running

Welcome to Running for Wellness!

Hello friends! I’m Lauren, and my husband Jeff and I are so excited to finally launch our new business, Running for Wellness! Running for Wellness is a run coaching business and community with the objective of inspiring, teaching, and guiding others to improve their mental, physical, and emotional health through running! Running has been life changing for both of us, and we want to share our passion for running with you! Right now, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, most people are quarantined at home. Many gyms, pools, sporting events, and fitness centers are currently closed due to Covid-19. Running is an exercise that can be done solo and therefore is a great option to stay physically fit and mentally balanced throughout this crazy time. There is no better time than now to give running a try! Are you interested in starting to run but not sure where to start? We can help! Looking for some motivation to run even though your race is canceled? We can help! Everyone’s physical fitness needs and goals are different. That’s why working with your own personal run coach can be so beneficial. We will assess your current fitness level and goals and create a program that is customized just for you! Interested in learning more? Reach out to us at info.runningforwellness@gmail.com. We can’t wait to talk to you! -Coach Lauren