7 Reasons Why Your Daughter Should Run Cross Country

I may be a bit biased, but I think running cross country is one of the best things your daughter can do to develop as a person. When I design a season, my plan includes workouts but it also includes all sorts of hidden objectives. Here are the seven things I hope each season I coach accomplishes…

  1. Introduction to a lifelong activity. In a time when we are bombarded with messages about inactivity, obesity and lifestyle diseases, learning to love running and movement is an investment in her future health.
  2. Time management. Daily practice, weekend meets, summer runs. All of these commitments teach her how to balance her time long before she goes to college, holds a job, raises a family and/or participates as an active community member.
  3. Goal setting. Cross country is objective in many ways; time elapses from the start to a defined finish and you earn a place with every finish. Through formal goal setting activities and informal statements about goals for each race, girls learn to set appropriate goals, work towards those and celebrate when they or their teammates reach those goals.
  4. Body acceptance. Go to a road race or a cross country meet sometime and observe the body types participating. Tall women, short women, girls with tiny legs, girls with strong legs and everyone in between. Cross country is one of the only sports where people of literally all abilities cross the same start line and the same finish line.
  5. Self awareness. During our summer training camp, one of the lessons I emphasize is learning to set limits for yourself. The freshman are blissfully unaware of what I’m talking about while the juniors shift uncomfortably because they are all too familiar with the overwhelmed feeling that comes with high school these days. Before school starts, I give permanent permission for athletes to take the day off when they feel that they need it. This may be because they are sick or it may be because they have too much homework or are feeling too stressed to be focused on the team or the workout. In five years, this has never been abused and in fact is rarely used but exists as a reminder that none of us can do it all all the time.
  6. Public speaking. Regardless of future plans, the ability to be articulate in a public speaking setting is critical. A team setting with girls you consider more like sisters is a safe place for young women to practice these skills. I introduce it by asking different athletes to lead drills or cool downs. We practice it after almost every race where we sit in a circle and go over what we did well individually and where we could improve. (This also gets at the goal of personal accountability.)
  7. Open conversation. This is one place where I see cross country leap ahead of other sports, all of which offer varying degrees of the first six objectives. Unlike a team sport where you are focused on drills or running plays, we spend a lot of time just running together. To pass that time, we talk. Sometimes we talk about small things like our favorite gummi candy (we all hate the giant gummi bears, FYI). And sometimes we talk about big, serious issues. These issues bubble up naturally and I’m always astounded at their insight and observations about the world around them. Below is a sampling from the last week. When was the last time these were offered up at your dinner table or in the car?
    • The Common Core/overtesting (an athlete has a sibling struggling with the former and finds herself frustrated with the latter)
    • Cultural appropriation (we’ve been really into A Tribe Called Red but worried that playing the songs at States could be construed as such. Thankfully, A Tribe Called Red has spoken frequently and passionately about this and welcomes everyone to enjoy their music as long as they don’t “objectify, fetishize or mock Native tradition.”)
    • Racism (a classmate made an offensive comment about an ethnicity. Discussion around whether it was intentional or a reflection of ignorance ensued)
    • Gender identification (how do we adjust our language to accommodate everyone)
    • Pressures of social media (This is constant. Be reassured, your daughters do an excellent job of policing one another about appropriateness and are generally well aware that all the things portrayed on social media should be taken with a grain of salt.)

In a time when teenagers are overloaded with all the things they “should” do to be competitive for college, it can be tempting to cut cross country or other sports from their to-do lists. Before you do, however, consider all the hidden objectives that all good coaches (in all sports) tuck into the 90 minutes we spend with your kids each day.

If you ran cross country, what did I leave out? Where do you have your best conversations? 

Race Report: Downtown 10K 2015

A wee bit late on this write-up…

Downtown 10K is one of my favorite races for a few reasons. First, it almost always has good weather (save for 2014, which was a gusty disaster). Second, it’s well organized and results are always accurate and fast. Third, it’s a 10K which are remarkably difficult to find but hugely useful for a half marathon training cycle. Finally, there are cash prizes which can help motivate you when say, you want to give up at mile 4. The organizers were new this year but they kept all of these good things going and besides a really odd start command, everything was smooth.

I’ll get to the odd start momentarily. I came into Sunday feeling really anxious and to be honest, had I not preregistered, I probably wouldn’t have run. On Saturday night, I had a dream that Joe came home from the race and told me that I shouldn’t have skipped the race because no other women showed up and they had no one to give the money to! Needless to say, when I woke up on Sunday, I decided I’d better at least show up.

The weather was perfect at 50 degrees, cloudy and a north wind, which meant a headwind for the first half of the race, not the second. I did an easy warm-up for 2 miles plus some striders and didn’t feel entirely horrible. I handed my watch to Erin and lined up. The race start was hysterical; the new sponsors thanked us for being there and then in the middle of a sentence, the speaker just plainly stated “Go.” Twice. None of us moved. Finally he said with more emphasis “GO!” and we were off. Hopefully someone educates him for next year…

Start? We think?

Start? We think?

The course has a screaming downhill in the first mile so my only goal was to be controlled and not smash my quads up early. About halfway down the hill, a girl went shooting by me and by the bottom of the hill, she was 20 seconds ahead. I told myself to stick to my race plan and that if she came back to me, she came back to me. While I wasn’t wearing a watch, I would guess I went through the first mile in about 6:30 pace based on where I was off Joe who was wearing his watch. The effort felt super easy, a lot like a steady state run. I kept it here until we hit mile 3 at Leddy, where I clicked my effort up to tempo as planned. I had passed a couple of people at this point but the first woman was still ahead of me by about 20 seconds. Another guy caught me around Leddy and was about halfway between she and I.

As we were coming out of Leddy, the first woman stopped to tie her shoe (what?!) but shot away again as I got closer. The few seconds I was near her, however, I could hear that she was breathing hard while I felt totally in control, which gave me a boost that I might not be out of first. As we turned onto North Avenue and started the rolling hills, I kept my eyes on her and held tempo effort while trying to remain confident. I was pleased, however, that 5K was done and my legs felt totally fine with none of my recent concrete-anemia feelings. As we worked up the hill, I caught the guy who had passed me in Leddy and sat on his shoulder for a few strides then made a hard pass around him which brought me within 10 seconds of the first woman. We crested the hill by the high school and I leaned forward and let the downhill carry me. As we rolled up the next hill just before the cemetery where I’d planned my next gear change, I caught and passed her easily. As we crested that last hill and hit the cemetery gates, she was still hanging on to me.

With 2 miles to go, I clicked down to interval pace and started pressing hard. I could still hear her footfalls, but they weren’t right over my shoulder. As we hammered down North Avenue, my effort was definitely hard but I still felt in control. When we turned into Battery Park, I gave it what I had left and just prayed that it would be enough to get away from her for good. The curve in the park gave me a momentary glance that showed that at the very least, she’d fallen back a bit. In full disclosure, I actually spent most of the race thinking it was a local runner I know who is a miler and thus has a crazy finishing kick so I didn’t want to leave it until the last 200 meters.

Turning onto Church Street, I experienced the oh so fun moment of seeing the finish line but realizing you have almost a minute to go before you’re there. I just kept trying to push as hard as I could and prayed no one was coming up on me. When I passed my friend Will, he just cheered for me, so I knew I was in the clear. As I reached the final block, I saw the clock turn to 38:00 and realized a PR was a possibility. I had tunnel vision but just hoped I’d hold up til I got to the finish line. I did, and squeaked out a 5 second PR!

Definitely working hard here and seeing stars.

Definitely working hard here and seeing stars.

While I’m happy (thrilled) about the PR, I’m even more happy about the execution of the race. A week before the race, I went out and previewed the course and came up with my race plan. Having a race plan and following it, however, are two different things and I’ve made the mistake of going out too fast at this race in past years. It would have been tempting to do the same thing this year as the initial first woman pulled away from me but sticking to the plan worked out well for me in the long run and gave me a much needed boost of confidence after a hard cycle.

Put the wrong foot up to have my timing chip cut off about three seconds before this picture. Classic.

Put the wrong foot up to have my timing chip cut off about three seconds before this picture. Classic.


Week in Review: 9.28 to 10.4

Fall has arrived! From sweaty away in tank tops and short shorts to running in capris and long sleeves with gloves on in just a few days…

Monday: 7 mile recovery run with a few 400s in there as the girls did a workout. Tweaked my left glute doing RDLs of all things and was pretty sore for the rest of the week. Arms in the weight room.

Tuesday: Rainy 10.4 mile regular run with Erin and Megan. 6 by 100 meter striders.

Wednesday: Pouring rain and windy so had to get a bit creative with workouts. 3 mile continuous tempo on the track. 6:33, 6:16, 6:14 that felt easier and easier as the pace dropped. 11.75 miles total. Legs in the weight room.

Thursday: 5.1 mile recovery run. Beach abs with the team.

Friday: 10.4 mile interval workout that also had to be creative because the marching band was using the track (?!). 5 by 1000 on the roads around the high school, so pace was all over the place but all good effort.

Saturday: 7 miles while coaching around Thetford.

Sunday: 15.1 mile long run with Erin. Perfect fall day. Felt pretty clunky/tired but we got through it.

Total Miles: 67

Total Miles for September: 283 miles

Although workouts are still feeling pretty difficult, I’m starting to feel better on regular runs and am much less exhausted overall. The best example of this is that I managed to really lift this week rather than essentially collapsing after my runs. I’m getting used to being tied to my house three times a day for my iron but will admit that some days, I just end up doubling up my dose because I wasn’t home for one of them. I see Kim again this week and I’m excited/nervous to see what we come up with for tweaks. I do feel like my nutrition has been a little off track the last week or so because Will is back from Connecticut and I’m getting used to having someone else around for meals again rather than just eating on my schedule and my own meal preferences.

Now that I feel like my energy is coming back from its nadir, I’m starting to think about how I want to reframe my goals for Philadelphia. I don’t think a Trials Qualifier is a very likely outcome at this point but I’d still like to have a strong race and set myself up for the 2016 season. At the very least, I’d like to break 1:20. I’ll revisit in a couple weeks after I get some more workouts in but I think a reasonable A goal would be to break 1:18.


Apologies for a super long post but as I’ve been struggling silently for a stretch of time, I was desperately searching for other runners with similar situations so figured I’d at least contribute to someone else’s search! Caveat: Although I give medical advice in my real life, I am not your doctor and nothing here should substitute for seeing your own doctor!! 

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I’ve been struggling for a few months with overwhelming fatigue and dead legs, leading to exponentially slowing workouts. At first, I assumed this was just a side effect of being a third year medical student. Then I attributed it to my sinus infection and ten day course of Augmentin. After the dust settled from that, however, and I still felt like I was trudging through quicksand and ending workouts on the track in tears, I realized I needed to call in reinforcements. Running isn’t always fun but I’m not someone who hates running or dreads workouts and when I do, I know something is up.

I don’t have any history of anemia nor do I have any major risk factors. I eat red meat (theoretically, it turns out I don’t really eat much of it), I cook in cast iron, I take a multivitamin with iron and I don’t have heavy periods. My only risk factors were high miles and the concurrent risk of foot strike hemolysis (banging your feet on the ground a lot kills off red blood cells) and serious insensible loss (sweating) from a hot summer. As a coach, however, iron deficiency anemia is an ever-present threat to team performance. After my own experience, I even sent apologies to the athletes that I’ve coached over the years who have been anemic because I totally didn’t understand what they were going through or how miserable they were.

I finally got into my doctor’s office last week and convinced them to check my iron levels. I wasn’t totally successful at this, but I did manage to get a ferritin and a hemoglobin/hematocrit done. If you’ve been through this as a runner, I’m sure you recall the struggle to get them to check iron in the first place. Many will just check a hemoglobin and hematocrit which is insufficient because you can have a perfectly normal H+H and still be well on your way to an iron deficiency anemia. Here’s how: ferritin is the storage form of iron and your body will do anything it can to keep your hemoglobin and hematocrit levels stable which includes drawing down your ferritin. If your ferritin is low but your H+H is normal and you don’t replace the stores of ferritin well, it’s only a matter of time til your other numbers drop. Bottom line: demand that your ferritin be checked!

They wouldn’t share my actual CBC values with me (clearly I need to switch offices) and made snarky comments about how I “know too much” but I did ultimately find out that my ferritin was 18. Not good. The table below outlines what we use when considering the various stages of iron deficiency.

From Uptodate

From Up To Date

As you can see, I fall in the category of iron deficiency without anemia. For a regular person, this might be tolerable. For an athlete who depends on her red blood cell mass for oxygen transport and her cytochromes for ATP generation, however, this can have enormous performance effects. At this point, the data on optimal ferritin levels for athletes remain mixed but 50 is almost universally accepted with a small group advocating for levels of 80.

In struggling through the past few weeks, I decided that in addition to figuring out my iron, I also felt that it had come time to see someone for sports nutrition. I eat a well-balanced diet and have a pretty high level of “food literacy” thanks to being raised by a Registered Dietitian but had to accept that if I managed to get iron deficient, I might not be as good at nutrition as I assumed I was. At the very least, I knew I needed some support in figuring out how I got to be so deficient and whether I had an absorption issue. My mom recommended a colleague in Burlington who specializes in sports nutrition and last Thursday, I had my first meeting with Kim (http://www.wholehealthnutritionvt.com/). To prepare, I had to keep a food diary and I was so unbelievably nervous about what she would say. What if I’d totally been fucking up nutrition for years and didn’t know it?! Was I eating too much? Too little? Needless to say, I had nothing to be nervous about and am really looking forward to working with Kim over the next few months. We’ll meet again next week but my homework for this week was to stop taking my multivitamin and get going on my new targeted supplements: iron, magnesium and methyl factors. I need to get some more blood tests to evaluate my full iron picture, Vitamin D, B vitamin and other cellular function tests, but Kim felt that because Philly is approaching rapidly, we needed to start supplementing for my most likely deficiencies. Ever the skeptic of any supplement, I ran these by my mom and she wholeheartedly agreed that these were all reasonable recommendations.

The process of repleting my iron is relatively simple; I’m taking Gaia liquid iron three times a day. Why liquid iron? I have an extremely sensitive stomach and when I’ve tried even vitamins with iron in the past, it’s resulted in me vomiting almost instantly. Ferrous gluconate is typically the easiest iron to tolerate and liquid iron is the easiest form of ferrous gluconate. So far, so good. It looks like motor oil and tastes like Jagermeister but it’s staying down.

The magnesium and methyl factors were new information to me, which is a perfect example of why you see someone who is an expert. Magnesium is a critical co-factor in the body and the symptoms of a deficiency are diverse including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and muscle cramps and weakness. Causes of deficiency include chronic stress, poor diet, heavy exercise and use of antibiotics. I’ve started to take Natural Calm, a magnesium powder, every night. Not only does this give me my daily value of magnesium but it can help counteract the constipation associated with iron supplementation. There are multiple ways to take magnesium but a dissolved form is most easily absorbed. Finally, methyl factors refers to a super complicated cycle in the body that still makes me twitch from the medical boards. If you’re really interested, this paper is actually a great summary of methylation but suffice to say, if you can’t methylate (and a significant number of people are deficient in the gene) B12 and folate, your ability to convert certain amino acids into energy in the Krebs cycle is severely hindered. I’m trying these methyl factors once daily.

Now that a tiny bit of the puzzle is figured out, it’s time to replenish my body and aim forward towards Philly. I’ll keep updating here as I make changes with Kim and get further into my iron supplementation. Here’s hoping quicksand turns to firm ground again soon!

Week in Review 9.21.15 to 9.27.15

Monday: 7.1 miles easy. Feeling pretty good post-race but sore in weird places. Lifted back in the gym.

Tuesday: 8 miles with the team on the Greenway in Cambridge. 3 at 7:25 pace for their tempo Tuesday.

Wednesday: 17 miles with 6 at MP. 6:52 away from the wind, 7:05 in the (crazy) wind. Actually felt pretty good. Legs in the gym.

Thursday: 5 mile recovery run. Started my iron supplement.

Friday: 8 miles by the ocean. Such a happy run.

Saturday am: 4 miles of coaching running; warmups, cooldowns only. Didn’t count my running around the course.

Saturday pm: 5 easy on 1A when I got back to the beach. Hip core.

Sunday: 10.3 mile interval workout. 16 by 400 but on the road so .25 miles. Pace was varied with wind and small hills but all between 83 and 89 with most 86 to 88. Actually felt pretty good. Legs after.

Total Miles: 65

All in all, not a bad week with two workouts that actually felt pretty good. I’m tolerating my iron well (more on that later) and I’m getting used to taking something three times a day while simultaneously promising to never prescribe something three times daily. The temperature change has been amazing and I’m actually looking forward to this coming week of running in short sleeves with minimal sweating!

Week in Review 9.14.15 to 9.20.15

Monday: 7.2 miles of recovery plus 6 striders on the grass. Hip work afterward.

Tuesday: 6 by 1K repeats (3:40, 3:44, 3:45, 3:45, 3:44, 3:45). Legs totally dead and a super frustrating workout. Leg lift afterward.

Wednesday: 7.1 mile recovery run. Lifted arms.

Thursday am: 13.1 miles with 2 by 2 at Tempo Pace. Was supposed to do 3 by 2 miles but when I went to start the third, I almost couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. Essentially jogged home.

Thursday pm: 3 miles warming up with Erin before her 3K.

Friday: Scheduled Off Day. 7 miles prorated. Lots of activity setting up our school fun run.

Saturday am: 5 miles plus 6 striders bright and early.

Saturday day: 5 miles of running plus 3 miles of coursewalking at the Invitational. Legs cooked at bedtime. Girls had an epic day with JV winning and Varsity in third.

Just want to bottle this happiness!

Just want to bottle this happiness!

Sunday: Downtown 10K in 38:33, a 5 second PR and the win! Much more in my race write up but a perfect example of why going out with caution and racing smart always pays off. In this case, literally, with a $125 prize.

A little stunned at the finish.

A little stunned at the finish.

Total Miles: 67.4

Before this morning, this week was one of the most stressful in all of my running life. I don’t totally understand what’s going on with my running and it’s so frustrating to feel like I’m doing all of the right things and having nothing really work out. Finally made a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow morning to get my iron levels checked, among a few other things, and will see a sports dietitian on Thursday to see what suggestions she has. Having a good race today is a huge mental help, however, as I felt like the first 4 miles were extremely easy and that changing gears wasn’t that difficult.

Week in Review 9.7.15 to 9.13.15

Monday am: 3 miles with the team on a warmup for our hill workout. Hip core afterward.

Monday pm: 5 by 1 mile at T pace in 93 degree temps. 6:20, 6:32, 6:24, 6:42, 6:32 all 168 to 172. On the UVM bike path, so had some small variations in terrain. Exhausted. 10.5 miles.

Tuesday: 5.7 mile recovery run. Core afterward.

Wednesday: 9 mile run, previewing the Downtown 10K course with striders in the last mile.

Thursday: 8 by 800. Cooler but still struggling with the humidity and apparently my legs. 2:54, 2:55, 2:56, 2:57, 2:57, 2:59, 2:58, 3:00. 10 miles total. Legs afterward.

Friday: 4 miles at St. Johnsbury.

Love when we get the opportunity to run all together! Sharing all my wisdom pre-race...

Love when we get the opportunity to run all together! Sharing all my wisdom pre-race…

Saturday: 8 mile run in Saratoga Spa State Park. Super pretty.

Sunday: 16.15 long run with a bunch of Olde Bones. Arms after.

Total Miles: 67

Things are just not snapping together for me this cycle. I’m sleeping at least 9 hours a night, lifting and doing core, stretching and foam rolling and generally doing all the extras but feel worse than I did on 5 hours of a sleep and no extras. Hard to describe what feels wrong, but I just don’t feel like I can get my legs to move fast anymore. Pressing on because I have the time to do so, but definitely not encouraged for Philly at this point. I do need to work on prioritizing my own runs in addition to coaching, as I lost some mileage there this week when I tried to combine the two and ended up needing to focus more on coaching than on myself. I’m also still having a lot of right hip pain so giving that some extra focus throughout the day.

I have two big workouts and a race this coming week. I’ll be doing 3 by 2 mile at T pace on Tuesday, 6 by 1K at I pace on Thursday and then the Downtown 10K on Sunday. Haven’t quite formulated a goal for that race yet. I’m somewhat near where I was when I ran my PR there in 2012 but I’ll wait to see how my workouts go this week and what the weather is looking like.

Week in Review 8.31.15 to 9.6.15

Monday: 7 miles of easy running but did some uptempo stuff as I paced the girls through Ks. Finally broke down and went to the doctor as I was still sick. 10 days of antibiotics for me!

Tuesday am: 16 by 400 on the track. So hot and definitely a mental struggle but got through it. Pace from 85 to 87 that felt comfortable for my lungs, but my legs were ploddy. Legs in the gym afterward.

Tuesday pm: 2 mile run with the team while they warmed up.

Wednesday: 7 mile recovery run plus striders.

Thursday: Woke up and felt like a bus hit me then realized I hadn’t had an off day since August 11th including two weeks of being sick, so I took it today. 8.5 prorated.

Friday: 15.5 mile long run with Erin. Antibiotics killing my stomach but we survived and I was happy to have it in before I left for the weekend.

Saturday: 7 mile recovery run in the Adirondacks. Beautiful scenery but despite it being 43 when we woke up, it was hot by the time I ran! Striders after.

Sunday: 6 miles with 6 by 100 meters at I pace on the track. 90 degrees out and wanted to spend the time with Will, so decided to just do enough to stay active and move on for the week.

Total Miles: 63.4

Total Miles for August: 260 miles

Not a week I’m feeling particularly proud of. Mentally defeated from being sick and then from feeling sick from serious antibiotics and physically exhausted to boot. Everyone is dealing with the heat but I’ll add my complaint that I’m sick of being overheated all the time. I wish I’d gotten my tempo workout in while we were in the Adirondacks but was just feeling like I wanted the time with Will since he’s been gone for a few weeks and will be gone for 4 more.

The upside to the weekend was that I was around lots of amazing runner-folks who were reassuring that this is just a funk and I’ll snap out of it soon. I’m looking forward to cooler weather but it looks like it will have to wait another few days. Heading out for a tempo workout now in 93 degree temps and just rocking my heart rate monitor; there’s no pace predictor that is accurate for 93 and sunny!

A Day in the Life

The first week of living like a pro was actually rough. I don’t do “slow” or “rest” well and I struggled to feel like I should be doing something instead of resting on the couch or napping. Now that I’m getting into the routine and my workouts are getting more intense, I’m welcoming the rest and flexible schedule. I’m still not someone who can nap but I’m getting better at laying down on the couch for an hour in the middle of the day. I’m also surprised at how fast the days go by. November is going to be here quickly. Here’s how Tuesday (workout day) and Wednesday (recovery day) went for me this week:


7:30 Wake Up. Walk and feed the dogs. Bagel with sunbutter, half a cup of iced coffee and water. Answer coaching emails while I eat and digest.

8:30 Out the door for my workout. 3 mile warmup to the track then 16 by 400 at interval pace.

10:00 UVM gym for lifting. Squats, deadlifts, walking lunges and calf raises.

10:45 Home. Make a Monkey Shake and chug down while the dogs romp in the backyard.

11:00 to 1:00 Research Time. I’m doing a reading month on obstetrics after disaster, an awesome mashup of my past career and my present.

1:00 to 2:00 Netflix/partial nap on the couch.

2:00 Errands before practice

3:00 to 5:00 Drills, 4 miles with the team and beach abs after. Pear and poptart on the drive home.

5:30 Huge bowl of pasta with beef and all the garden veggies that were ready.

6:00 to 8:00 More research time.

8:00 to 9:00 Couch/Netflix.

9:00 Hospital Loop walk with the dogs.

9:30 Strict bedtime. This is the hardest part of the day because it still feels so early to me.


7:30 Wake up. Hour hike in Centennial Woods with the dogs. Legs tired but okay.

8:30 Huge egg scramble and coffee for breakfast. Convince self to move from the couch with a Herculean effort.

9:30 to 1:30 Research time.

1:30 to 2:30 Couch nap/Netflix.

2:30 to 6:00 Out to MMU to coach. Drills + 7 miles + striders with the team. Definitely feeling more wiped out than I was in the morning. Legs pretty universally dead.

6:00 to 8:00 Coaching emails then research time.

8:00 to 9:45 Visit with Katherine! Way late on my bedtime but worth it as Kath gave me one of her amazing pep talks about how I will run 1:15 because that’s “just how I work.”

There you have it! A snapshot into the glamorous life of full time training, at least for me.

No Body’s Perfect

At first blush, running seems like it should be easy. After all, we’ve been doing it since we were running away from wooly mammoths and the like. Spend fifteen minutes at a race, however, and you’ll note that although there are many different ways to “run,” they are not all equivalent in terms of efficiency or speed. As a result, running form is a constant focus of coaches and athletes alike. We spend time doing drills, striders and looking through video and pictures to assess the progression in form from the first 400 to the finishing stretch.

Despite knowing that my running form needs work, I haven’t spent a lot of time on it in recent years. Some of that is just from my schedule but some of it is stubbornness; my knees haven’t driven for almost 32 years, why would they start now?! However, behind this stubbornness, I know that if I want to get to the next level, I can’t fight my forward progress with low knees and a twisting upper body.

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me...

A skips. My face tells you how hard this is for me…

Now that I have the luxury of more time, I’m starting and ending every run with a routine of hip swings, cycle steps and skips to enforce good form and practicing good form in spurts throughout my easy runs. During my striders, I’m focused on driving knees and open arm swing. Finally, I’m lifting daily to make sure my muscles are strong enough to support all these new patterns of motion.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

A physical reminder to stand tall.

As a team, we are also working on posture this year. As most of us tire through a run or a race, we tend to collapse our shoulders inward which impedes our breathing and collapses our pelvis. Our taping project is the brain child of a team parent who is a PT. The tape (KT Tape) is placed such that you get a small tug on your lower back when you start to collapse inward. It definitely helps with running but I even notice its benefit when I’m just standing around and start to get lazy.

What parts of your form are you working on? Are you open to change or stubborn about your form? What drills do you do regularly?