In Depth – Running


1 – How Many Calories Do You Burn Running?

What’s the Burn? A Calorie Calculator
You can use the formulas below to determine your calorie-burn while running and walking. The “Net Calorie Burn” measures calories burned, minus basal metabolism. Scientists consider this the best way to evaluate the actual calorie-burn of any exercise. The walking formulas apply to speeds of 3 to 4 mph. At 5 mph and faster, walking burns more calories than running.
Your Total Calorie Burn/Mile
Your Net Calorie Burn/Mile
.75 x your weight (in lbs.)
.63 x your weight
.53 x your weight
.30 x your weight
Adapted from “Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running,” Medicine & Science in Sport &Exercise, Cameron et al, Dec. 2004.

How to explain this? It’s not easy, except to say that walking at very fast speeds forces your body to move in ways it wasn’t designed to move. This creates a great deal of internal “friction” and inefficiency, which boosts heart rate, oxygen consumption, and calorie burn. So, as Jon Stewart might say, “Walking fast…good. Walking slow…uh, not so much.”

The bottom line: Running is a phenomenal calorie-burning exercise. In public-health terms-that is, in the fight against obesity-it’s even more important that running is a low-cost, easy-to-do, year-round activity. Walking doesn’t burn as many calories, but it remains a terrific exercise. As David Swain says, “The new research doesn’t mean that walking burns any fewer calories than it used to. It just means that walkers might have to walk a little more, or eat a little less, to hit their weight goal.”


When a group of volunteers took to the treadmill for a 2004 study published in the journal “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,” researchers found that running 1,600 meters, just short of one mile, burned ~114 calories. While the number of calories you personally burn depends on many factors, including your age, body size and composition, it is accurate to estimate that you will burn 100 calories per mile. Walking, on the other hand, burns ~80 calories in one mile, according to the study.

How Speed Factors In:

Figuring out how many calories you burn when running is, on a simple level, a fairly straightforward calculation. Most experts (and lots of studies) suggest that a person of average weight burns about 100 calories in a mile of running. That number goes up slightly if you weigh more or if you’re a less efficient runner—both of which require that you use more energy to cover the same distance. On the contrary, that number of calories doesn’t go up if you run faster.

It doesn’t matter how fast you go,” says Dr. David Swain, a professor of exercise science and the director of the Wellness Institute and Research Center at Old Dominion University. The amount of calories burned over a mile still remains roughly the same.

Generally speaking, of course, if you run faster you’ll cover more miles in the same amount of time, which equals more calories burned in that time. Think about it: A person running 10-minute miles for an hour covers six miles and burns about 600 calories in this calculation; a person running 6-minute miles for that same amount of time runs 10 miles and burns 1,000 calories.

“It’s a basic metabolic equation,” says Craig Broeder, CEO of Exercising Nutritionally and a research scholar chair in exercise science at Northern Illinois University. For every liter of oxygen you consume, you burn ~5 calories.

Of course, there’s a more complicated answer too.

The calories-per-mile rule of thumb changes slightly for walking. A study done by researchers at Syracuse found that men burned about 105 kilocalories/mile on average running a mile in 9 minutes and 30 seconds, and about 52 calories when walking the same mile in 19 minutes. For the women in the study, that burn was 91 and 43 calories, respectively.

Walking is entirely different,” says Swain. “They’re two different modes of movement.”

Running technically involves jumping from foot to foot to propel yourself forward, while both feet never leave the ground in walking. Obviously, there is a crossover at points of very fast walking and very slow running. In fact, some studies suggest that walking faster than 12-minute miles actually burns more calories than running a 12-minute mile.

The extra complicating factor is that, although the amount of calories you burn per mile doesn’t change fundamentally whether you’re running fast or slow, the amount of calories you burn in the aftermath does change.

You are always burning a base level of calories, even at a resting state. After running fast, your heart rate is elevated and you’re breathing hard. You’re not at a resting state, and so you’re burning more calories than you would otherwise. That’s less the case after running a slow mile.

“You don’t instantaneously return to a resting state,” says Swain.

One study, Broeder says, suggests that if you burn 720 calories running at 80 percent of your VO2 max, as opposed to burning 720 calories running slower at 60 percent of your VO2max, your base rate of calorie burning will be elevated by 15-25 percent for up to 24 hours. Other studies have been less conclusive in the number, but consistently find that more intense exercise leads to a greater after-burn effect.

If you think running and walking both torch the same number of calories per mile, you better put down that cookie.

2 – How Much Should You Weigh For Racing?

Every runner knows that body weight affects running performance. Because your body must overcome the force of gravity with every stride, the heavier you are, the higher is the energy cost of running at any given pace. One study found that every 5 percent of added body weight reduced running performance by 5 percent.

All runners perform best when they are near the bottom of their healthy weight range. There is such a thing as being too light, of course. You won’t run well if you’re undernourished or if you don’t have enough body fat to support basic health. Nor is being at your ideal racing weight a guarantee of successful racing. There’s also a little factor called fitness that plays an important role. But assuming you’re fit, you will generally have your best races when you’re about as light as you can be without compromising your health.

Your ideal racing weight is determined primarily by your body fat level. There’s not much you can do about the other sources of mass in your body: bone, muscle, water, etc. No matter how hard you train or how carefully you eat, all of that weight will stay. It’s excess body fat that accounts for the difference between current weight and ideal racing weight in most runners, and thus it’s fat mass that you must lose to attain your ideal racing weight.

So, what is your ideal racing weight? Given the fact that body fat is the primary determinant of ideal racing weight, the best way to estimate it is to calculate how much you will weigh when you’ve reduced your body fat percentage to the optimal level. Optimal body fat percentage is not the same for everyone. There are many factors that affect how lean an individual runner can become. These include gender, age, genetics, and history of being overweight. However, even runners who have all of these factors working against them can get fairly lean.

This table presents optimal racing weight body fat percentage ranges for different gender and age groups of runners. Most runners can expect to get their body fat percentage down within the range associated with their gender and age group through proper training and diet.

You can expect to reach the lower limit of your ideal range only if you typically lose weight fairly easily, you have never been seriously overweight, and you are willing and able to maintain a high training volume. If your current body fat percentage is well above your optimal range, you should aim only to reach the upper limit of that range initially through increased training and improvements in diet.

Estimating the body fat percentage you can realistically expect to attain at your peak fitness level is not an exact science. Just use common sense and the considerations I named above to make an educated guess for yourself. Also bear in mind that the further you are from your peak fitness level currently and the more room for improvement your diet has, the more you can expect to lower your body fat percentage.

The final step in determining your racing weight is to calculate how much fat weight you will have to lose to get down to your goal body fat percentage.

Step 1: Calculate current body fat mass. Body fat mass = current weight x current body fat percentage expressed in decimal form.

Step 2: Calculate current lean body mass. Lean body mass = current weight – fat mass.

Step 3: Calculate goal weight. Goal weight = current lean body mass ÷ goal lean body mass percentage. (Note: goal lean body mass percentage is 1.0 – your goal body fat percentage expressed in decimal form)

For a more complete description of this method and a step-by-step program to reach your ideal racing weight, check out The Racing Weight Quick Start Guide.

3 – Breathing

When we head out for a run, there are plenty of things to think about: how our feet land, how we bend our arms, and how quick our stride rate is. But the one thing most runners don’t think about is how to breathe.

If you headed out for a run right now, you’d most likely breathe irregularly. Studies have found that inexperienced runners typically have no pattern to their breathing, while experienced runners synchronize their breathing with their stride for efficiency and pacing. The most common among experienced runners is a 2-2 pattern, i.e. breathing in for two steps and out for two steps. This is the pattern that well-known coach Jack Daniels recommends, because he believes that it maximizes the intake of oxygen.

However, said Coates, breathing in a 2-2 (or 3-3) pattern means that you’re always exhaling and inhaling when the same foot lands. He cites a study by Dennis Bramble and David Carrier, of the University of Utah, that found when exhalation always falls on the same foot it’s more likely to lead to injury, because it puts constant stress on that side of the body.

One of the most useful things about having a set breathing pattern — whether 3-2 or 2-3 or 2-1 or even 2-2 — is that it puts you in tune with how hard you’re working. Coates has a scale he uses with his athletes where easy running correlates to an easy 3-2 breathing pattern, but eventually as they speed up the 3-2 pattern becomes impossible to maintain. At that point, they either have to switch to a 2-1 breathing pattern or slow down.

Your posture and arm swing are also directly related to breathing, said Leach, because poor posture minimizes the amount of air you can take in and the rate at which you swing your arms affects your stride rate. That can all be too much to worry about at one time, though, said Leach. “You have to think of them one at a time,” he said. Focusing on one small form or breathing issue can also help keep you in the moment during a race.”

Coates, Leach, and plenty of other running experts can agree on a few things about breathing. It’s important to learn to breathe from your diaphragm, instead of from your chest. Chest breathing is most likely to lead to hyperventilation, said Leach.

To practice breathing from your abdomen, lay on your back and breath deeply, said Coates. You can then work your way up to breathing in sync with counting in your head and then progress to walking, jogging, and running.

In his book, Eat and Run, Scott Jurek talks about slowly down his breathing, breathing from his abdomen, and breathing through his nose on easy runs, because it lowers your heart rate and brain activity. That can be exactly the opposite of what you want when running hard, however. When running hard, it’s necessary to breath more frequently and deeply.

“You want as much in and out as you can, as easily as possible,” said Coates.

4 – Warm Up / Stretching / Dynamic Drills

In high school I performed static stretches before every run: 30-second toe touches and the like. I’ve since learned that this is one of the worst possible ways to prepare for a run. That’s because long-hold stretches activate a protective neuromuscular reflex that temporarily reduces maximal force production capacity. What this means is that you can’t jump as high after static stretching, and running is, of course, a form of jumping.

I am told by people who know better than I that it’s okay to do static stretching before a run as long as you do something dynamic after completing your static stretches. So if, for whatever reason, you like to do static stretches before a run, it’s okay to do them; just be sure to do some walking lunges and other such dynamic movements afterward and before you start running.

Of course, this is only relevant to high-intensity runs such as races and speed workouts in which you test the limits of your performance. It doesn’t really matter if you start an easy run with compromised maximal force production capacity caused by prior static stretching. In fact, it’s not necessary to warm up at all before an easy run. Easy running itself is a good warm-up, so it’s built right into that kind of workout.

Warming up is necessary before any race or workout in which your pace will exceed your lactate threshold pace, or the fastest pace you could sustain for an hour in a race. A proper warm-up before high-intensity running will enhance your performance and also reduce muscle damage incurred during the run, so you’re not as sore the next day.

There are two components to a good warm-up: general and specific.A general warm-up elevates the core body temperature and lubricates the muscles, allowing them to contract and relax more efficiently. A specific warm-up increases neuromuscular activation, preparing the muscles to fire in the specific way they will be asked to do in the race or workout.

The ideal general warm-up for fast running is slow running. After you complete your jog, it’s time for your specific warm-up. This entails repetitive movements that take your major joints through a full range of motion. Start with gentler movements and work toward ballistic actions. Here’s a suggested sequence:

Forward/backward arms swings
Side-to-side trunk rotations with arms extended outward
Walking lunges
Forward/backward leg swings
Side-to-side leg swings
Hopping in place with locked knees
Jogging forward while rotating hips from left to right
Jogging in place with high knees
Jogging in place with butt kicks

Do each of these movements for ~20 seconds. Finally, cap off your specific warm-up with a set of strides. Run for 20 seconds at race pace or at the pace you’re targeting in the workout. Stop, walk for 20 seconds, turn around, and run 20 seconds again at race/workout pace. Complete four of these 20-second strides. Naturally, this is as specific as a warm-up can get. Strides serve the threefold purpose of grooving your target race or workout pace, completing the neuromuscular priming process, and making the start of the workout or race less psychologically shocking. Run your strides as close to the start of the race or workout as possible.

5 – Form / Technique Mistakes and Tips

Slow Cadence:

Running speed is a result of stride length multiplied by stride frequency.

That said, many runners will first attempt to increase stride length, which in turn reduces their stride frequency, which, under optimal conditions should be ~180 foot strikes per minute. The easiest way to count stride frequency is to count your steps for 15 seconds and multiply by 4. If you count 40 steps in 15 seconds of running–meaning your are currently taking 160 foot strikes per minute–gradually make the jump to 180 foot strikes per minute by focusing on increasing your turnover. Take a few minutes to listen to your feet hit the pavement when you run. The more time your feet spend on the ground, the more energy is required to propel it forward. Focus on increasing your cadence, and in turn, your efficiency.

Heel Striking:

Slow cadence often goes hand-in-hand with heel striking for many runners–or, as I like to think of it, your hips are behind your feet.

Imagine this: you cannot push off your foot when it is in front of your hips. Your hips must come over your feet in order to propel you forward.

Arsenault argues that “most people suffer from a poor sense of the relationship between timing of forward movement and foot contact on ground. This results in reaching the foot forward to land and pushing off too far from behind to propel.”

A lot of attention has been given to the barefoot and minimalist running movement. Arthur Lydiard, one of the most well respected coaches of our time, encouraged minimalist footwear decades ago. Why? To avoid heel striking. One of the advantages of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes is that it will hurt if you strike with your heel.

If someone asked you to sprint on pavement with little or nothing on your feet, you would likely run as you were intended to run. Try running on carpet, grass, or turf barefoot for short periods of time–20-seconds at first, working your way up to a minute or more, and let your body find its natural stride.

Lack Of Mobility:

As mentioned earlier, stride frequency and stride length are the two components that determine running speed. Check out this video analyzing the stride of Chris Solinsky, the former American record-holder in the 10,000 meters, which shows how hip separation can help propel you forward, and consequently cover more ground.

Mobility trumps all else when it comes to running fast and staying healthy.

If you lack complete range of motion anywhere in your lower body, you are going to be more susceptible to injury. A good way to increase running-specific mobility is through Active Isolated Stretching, a method made popular by stretching guru Phil Wharton. His techniques are focused on how to lengthen the muscles properly in order to prevent injury and improve performance.

Lastly, lets take a look at momentum, ideally of the forward variety. One of the best ways to establish forward momentum is to lean from the ankles. This forward lean will also help you avoid running vertical miles. Keep your head as level as possible, and avoid bouncing up and down as you propel yourself forward.

Unrelaxed Upper Body:

One of the most difficult things to teach a runner, beginner or experienced, is how to run fast AND relaxed. A good way to do this is by using the example of a world-class sprinter. If you slow the footage down, you will see how relaxed his or her jaw is, how effortlessly their knees drive up toward and through the hips, and how the shoulders are relaxed and hanging away from the ears.

Here are a few tips to ensure that your upper body is relaxed and you are carrying your arms properly.

Keep the angle of your elbows at 90 degrees, and be sure not to release that angle in the back swing, as it will only waste precious energy.

Raise your shoulders to your ears at each mile marker during a race, and then drop them back down into their ideal, relaxed position.

Perform the “Hands on Head” drill. Start by interlocking your hands on your head. Focus on keeping your core solid and straight while keeping the hips and shoulders level and relaxed. Start jogging. This drill will help you to eliminate any left to right movement through the hips and help eliminate a criss-crossing, side-to-side arm carriage.

Not Running Fast:

University of Colorado cross country and track coach Mark Wetmore, who said: “Distance doesn’t kill speed, not doing speed kills speed.”

So what’s the easiest and most effective way to work on your speed? Start by performing a few strides after your easy runs, or add a session of weekly hill sprints into your schedule. It’s hard to run fast, especially uphill, with inefficient form. From there, start sprinkling some small doses of speedwork into your training schedule, which will help fine-tune your form, while improving speed and efficiency.

Tim Bailey, a sub-4-minute miler from Great Britain, once said it shocked him that people never learn how to run despite most sports having a foundation that is primarily running-based. Arsenault also mentioned that the biggest mistake people make is “not taking lessons to learn or improve running technique.”

Run Tall:

 Why do you do it?

Taking a top-down approach to running form and aligning the head, shoulders, torso, hips and legs promotes balance and allows your foot to land under your center of gravity—regardless of what part of your foot strikes the ground first.

“Telling someone to run tall is like telling them to sit up straight,” McMillan says. “It stacks the posture properly and gives your mechanics the best opportunity to work correctly.”

How do you do it?

Simply giving yourself the cue to “run tall” while you’re running can help straighten out 90 to 95%t of inefficiencies, McMillan says. However, incorporating drills such as straight-leg running after easy runs will encourage you to stay upright while getting more leg extension from behind and landing squarely underneath your body.

Straight-Leg Running

Keeping your legs straight and your ankles dorsiflexed, pointing upward, run forward landing on your mid-foot, but do not let your feet lift too high off the ground. Maintain a straight torso, and focus on executing a quick turnover and landing directly underneath your center of gravity. Perform two 50-meter reps as part of your warm-up routine before setting out for a run, progressing to four as you build coordination.

Shorten Your Stride, Increase Your Cadence:

 Why do you do it?

Making a conscious effort to shorten your stride and employ a quicker turnover encourages you to land lighter. This reduces the impact forces on your legs, regardless of how your feet strike the ground, and lessens the likelihood of injury.

How do you do it?

Butt kicks and high knees are two effective drills that encourage a shorter stride and quicker cadence. Perform these drills two to three times a week following easy runs as part of your warm-up for faster workouts.

Butt Kicks

Using short strides—almost as if you were running in place—lift your knees slightly and try to bring your heel directly under your butt—not behind—with each stride. Alternate legs rapidly, focusing on executing a quick turnover. Perform two 15-meter reps, progressing to 30-meter reps as your coordination improves.

High Knees

Running in place, lift your knees to waist level while landing lightly on your forefoot directly underneath you. Stay tall and don’t lean too far backward or forward. Perform one 15-second set, progressing to two to three sets with 15 seconds of rest in between as coordination improves.

Start Doing Plyometrics:

Why do you do it?

Doing a series of explosive jumping exercises two to three times a week while you’re building up mileage helps to stiffen tendons and develops your body’s ability to make better use of energy return from the ground.

This is an important component of not only running fast, but it also helps prevent your form from breaking down.“Plyos teach you how to efficiently navigate the ground without even thinking about it,” Magness says. “Your tendons learn to absorb and respond to force really quickly, which translates to more speed and improved mechanics.”

How do you do it?

Keep it simple. Jump rope for 5 to 10 minutes three times a week as part of your warm-up before running. Alternate between two-legged hops, one-legged hops and alternating feet. Keep your feet directly underneath your hips and focus on coming off the ground with quick feet (pretend you’re standing on hot coals), whether you’re landing on the balls of your feet or your heels.

Practice Sprinting:

Why do you do it?

Sprinting short distances helps strengthen tendons and connective tissue while improving your basic speed and power.

“It’s a misnomer that efficient equals fast,” Magness says. “Even the best runners will give up a small amount of efficiency to be powerful and cover ground quickly.”

How do you do it?

One to two times a week after an easy run, practice sprinting for 10 to 15 seconds at close to top speed. Repeat this sequence 8 to 10 times, with one to two minutes of recovery between reps. Performing short sprints on a moderately steep hill (6 to 8 percent grade) will help recruit more muscle fibers and accelerate gains in tendon strength and explosiveness. Remember to run tall and stay relaxed while running fast.

Drive from the hips:

From taking measurements on the people that come into the lab, we’ve found that about 82 percent of runners don’t have enough hip extension, and again, that’s a passive length, and you can get that from stretching. But our research has shown if you stretch your hip flexors, and you get more range, people don’t actually take that new range and integrate into their gait, but they think they do. So the idea is being able to use range since it’s really critical. Drive from the hips, and driving from the hips means you extend the back and don’t cheat your lumbar spine. People run into problems all the time, even those who have pretty good body awareness, and they default to bad habits.

The second you break your posture alignment, you basically lose the ability to activate your hips, so we need to make sure we keep that solid.

Core And Flexibility:

Running form and a strong core are interdependent. The ability to maintain proper form as you tire is a direct result of a strong core. Running more efficiently makes you run faster. The same goes for increased flexibility; the looser, more supple your muscles are, the greater range of motion you’ll have, allowing your legs to open up into that full and powerful stride instead of being limited because of tightness. Finally, core strength and increased flexibility will make you more resistant to injury.

Four positions, hold each for 30 seconds. Start in standard plank: balancing on your forearms and toes, abs engaged, torso and legs parallel with the ground. Reverse plank: balancing on forearms and heels, facing the ceiling. Side planks: hips stacked, balancing on left forearm and outer left foot. Switch to right side.

Back Bridge
Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor roughly 18-inches from your glutes. Lift butt off the ground until hips and thighs are parallel, then lower. Set of 15, then lift right foot off the ground, balancing on your left and do 10 single-lifts. Repeat with 10 lifts on right foot.

Alternate Toe-Touches
Lay on your back, bend at the hips, and lift your legs straight up into an L-shape; spread your feet apart into the shape of a V. Reach with arms and torso to your left foot, down, up and reach to right foot. Do 20 lifts, alternating sides.

Leg Swings
Do each 10 times. Lateral: Swing left leg front-to-back, repeat with right leg. Horizontal: Face a wall, swinging left leg side-to-side, repeat right leg.

Donkey Kicks
Get on your hands and knees and into a table position. Keep the right leg bent at the knee and lift your right foot into the air, kicking until that thigh is parallel with the floor. Lower and repeat, 10 reps for each side.

Self Massage:

Work out those kinks and sore spots to decrease the chances they will turn into injuries. Self-massage needs to be thought of as regular upkeep, not just when you’re injured.

It’s imperative that runners know what they’re doing; massage therapy is an art. Do it incorrectly and you can cause major damage.

“If pressure is forced and applied to quickly, surrounding tissue tightens up and the body doesn’t fully let you in,” said massage therapist Al Kupczak, who works with Olympians, other elite athletes and age groupers. “A good gauge is breath. Can you comfortably breathe through this process, or are you clenching your jaw and tightening up other areas in order to get through the session?”

If you’re tightening, you’re not getting the tissue release you’re looking for.

Foam Roller
For runners, the key spots to target are the quads, hamstrings, and IT Band. Do controlled passes up and down the roller; for sore spots, pause and hold for 20 seconds until you feel the release. Spend a minute on each of these three areas.

A common runner malady, roll the sole of your foot over a tennis ball. Do front-to-back and side-to-side passes on each foot.

To run at your best, you must first be healthy enough to run. And to further improve, it’s required you do more than just run. When you’re able to gain that flexibility, improved efficiency, strength, and resiliency, your running life can happily co-exist with your real life.

Improve Foot Strength:

The feet are an important link in the kinetic chain that we sometimes forget about. The foot is a dynamic structure that needs to be strong and stable while also being soft and malleable. Thanks to its design and muscular attachments, it can store and utilize elastic energy with each footstrike. The strength and stability of the arch, referred to as the “foot core,” are required for proper foot function.

Both local and global muscles control the shape and function of the arch. The local muscles are primarily stabilizers known as the intrinsic foot muscles and are smaller in cross-sectional area. The global muscles are primarily prime movers of the foot and are larger in cross-sectional area. With each footstep and running stride, the local foot stabilizers function to control the amount and speed of arch deformation. Dysfunction of these muscles can result in an unstable arch and abnormal foot movement. Excessive deformation of the foot has been linked to plantar fasciitis and other lower limb injuries.

Traditional foot strengthening exercises usually involve curling the toes to pull a towel toward you or picking up marbles with your toes. These types of exercises will target the local foot muscles but will also involve the global muscles. Ideally “foot core” training should only target the local foot stabilizer muscles.

Enter the short foot exercise.

The goal of the short foot exercise is to “shorten” the foot by contracting the intrinsic muscles to raise the medial longitudinal arch, or in science-speak, pulling the first metatarsophalangeal joint toward the calcaneus (heel bone). Care should be taken to ensure the foot is in neutral alignment and that the toes are not flexed or extended. The short foot exercise is best learned seated and can be progressed to bilateral standing, single-leg standing then to functional activities such as squats, deadlift, lunges and hops. It should also be noted that being completely barefoot would enhance sensory input detection from the plantar surface of the foot and help you develop the sense of creating the short foot posture.

Your Arch Strengthening Routine

This routine consists of some exercises that can be performed daily (e.g. short foot, toe splaying and big toe presses) and exercises that can be performed 2-3 times per week (e.g. leg swings and calf raise to big toe press).

Short Foot Exercise

Sit in a chair in your bare feet. Form a 90-degree angle at your knees and ankles. Without crunching your toes, try to shorten your foot by doming the arches in your feet. You can focus on one foot at a time or do both at once. Try not to curl or extend your toes and keep your foot neutral. It’s harder than you think! Practice this throughout the day. You can even practice while sitting at your desk. Once you become competent in performing the short foot sitting, attempt the exercise standing on two legs then on one leg. (See an image here)

Toe Splaying

Try moving your toes away from each other but be careful not to curl or extend them. Practice throughout the day.

Big Toe Presses

Press your big toe into the floor while extending your other four toes. Hold each press for 8 seconds and perform 12-15 reps per foot.

Leg Swings

Dissimilar to dynamic leg swings that are commonly performed with a large amplitude, these legs swings are performed with a small amplitude to challenge your balance and hip and ankle stability. Stand on one leg in your bare feet and attempt to create the short foot posture. Swing the non-stance leg forward and backward 15 times. Without rest, swing the same leg left and right in front of your stance leg, also 15 times. Repeat this sequence without resting, then repeat on your opposite leg.

Calf Raise to Big Toe Press

Stand on the edge of a stair in your bare feet. Let your heels drop below the level of the stair. Then perform a traditional calf raise, but then proceed and press onto your big toe. This part is difficult for most. Feel free to hang on to something for balance. Perform 12-15 reps.

6 – Recovery / Golden Rules

  • Use recovery tools every time.
  • Take naps because rest is key!
  • Practice positivity as it will affect how you run next time or even after that.
  • Eat well; try carrying a bottle of water around to quench your thirst and stall your hunger.
  • Listen to your body; it can save you without you even noticing! It also helps you recover easier just knowing what to do. Run everyday. Consistency is key to a successful program. A daily run helps improve your body’s ability to burn fat, along with your biomechanics. It also teaches your mind to blast through any challenge, whether it’s physical or mental.
  • Make running personal. Give yourself a reason and it will drive you to do more than you thought possible. Find your sweet spot. Write down your workouts, then color-code how they made you feel: yellow for amazing, orange for just OK and red for total crap. It’s a visual way of seeing how your body responds and will help you pick up patterns. For example, if you’re always orange or red around your period, that’s a sign that you should be doing lighter workouts on those days.
  • Put less layers on. Always dress to run like it’s 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it is. As soon as you get out there and get moving, you’ll warm up and be glad you didn’t put on so many layers.
  • Put off partying. Steer clear of happy hour the day or two before a race or big training session. Alcohol significantly impairs sleep quality and hydration levels, as well as recovery.
  • Train smart. In order to get stronger, your body needs time to rebuild. Mix easy days with tough, and avoid pushing when your body needs a break.
  • Forget the speedsters. Compare yourself with yourself. There will always be someone faster and leaner and who looks more like a runner than you do. Focus on the improvements you want to make for yourself.
  • Try social running! Running can be such a solitary pursuit, but there is a real benefit to making a connection with others—and no better way to do that than by running together. Websites like can help you find local groups. Or you can just stop in at your local running store and ask.”
  • 10% rule. The rule states: Increase weekly training mileage by no more than 10 percent per week. Joe Henderson, the first editor of Runner’s World, and Joan Ullyot, M.D., author of three women’s running books, first popularized the 10-percent prescription in the 1980s. “I noticed that runners who increased their training load too quickly were incurring injuries,” says Dr. Ullyot. The Exception: If you’re starting at single-digit weekly mileage after a layoff, you can add more than 10 percent per week until you’re close to your normal training load.
  • 2 hour rule. The rule states: Wait for about two hours after a meal before running. “For most people, two hours is enough time for food to empty from the stomach, especially if it’s high in carbohydrate,” says Colorado sports dietitian and marathoner Cindy Dallow, Ph.D. “If you don’t wait long enough, food will not be properly digested, raising the risk of abdominal cramps, bloating, and even vomiting. The Exception: You can probably run 90 minutes after a light, high-carb meal, while you may need up to three hours after a heavy meal that’s high in protein and fat. You can also grab a small snack that’s low in fat and protein but high in quick carbs 15 to 60 minutes for a run.
  • 10 min. rule. The rule states: Start every run with 10 minutes of walking and slow running, and do the same to cool down. “A warmup prepares your body for exercise by gradually increasing blood flow and raising core muscle temperature,” says Jerry Napp, a Tampa Bay running coach. “The cooldown may be even more important. Stopping abruptly can cause leg cramps, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.” The Exception: It takes less than 10 minutes to rev up on warm days.
  • 2-Day Rule.  The rule states: If something hurts for two straight days while running, take two days off. Two straight days of pain may signal the beginning of an injury. “Even taking five days of complete rest from running will have little impact on your fitness level,” says Troy Smurawa, M.D., team physician for USA Triathlon. The Exception: If something hurts for two weeks, even if you’ve taken your rest days, see a doctor.
  • Race-Recovery Rule. The rule states: For each mile that you race, allow one day of recovery before returning to hard training or racing. That means no speed workouts or racing for six days after a 10K or 26 days after a marathon. The rule’s originator was the late Jack Foster, the masters marathon world record holder (2:11:18) from 1974 to 1990. Foster wrote in his book, Tale of the Ancient Marathoner, “My method is roughly to have a day offracing for every mile I raced.” The Exception: If your race effort wasn’t all-out, taking fewer recovery days is okay.
  • Head versus Tails Rule.  The rule states: A headwind always slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up. So expect to run slower on windy days. “I disregard the watch on really windy days because headwinds cost me 15 to 25 seconds a mile, and I only get a portion of that back after I turn around,” says Monte Wells, a longtime runner in Amarillo, Texas, America’s windiest city. “The key is to monitor your effort, not your pace. Start against the wind, so it’s at your back in the second half.” The Exception: On point-to-point runs with the wind at your back, you’ll fly along faster than usual.
  • Conversation Rule.  The rule states: You should be able to talk in complete sentences while running. One study found that runners whose heart and breathing rates were within their target aerobic zones could comfortably recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Those who couldn’t were running faster than optimal. The Exception: Talking should not be easy during hard runs, speedwork, or races.
  • Carb Load Rule.  The rule states: For a few days before a long race, emphasize carbohydrates in your diet. “Carbo-loading” became the marathoner’s mantra after Scandinavian studies in 1967 suggested cramming down carbs following a period of carb depletion produced super-charged athletes. Experts now say simply emphasizing carbs a few days before a race over two hours works just as well. You’ll want to refuel regularly on the run before your muscles become fully depleted. Try to consume 30 to 60 grams every hour, depending on your intensity and also body size. The Exception: There’s a word for carbo-loading during regular training or before a short race: gluttony.
  • 7 Year Rule. The rule states: Runners improve for about seven years. Mike Tymn noticed this in the early 1980s and wrote about it in his National Masters News column. “My seven-year adaptation theory was based on the fact that so many runners I talked to ran their best times an average of seven years after they started,” he recalls. The Exception: Low-mileage runners can stretch the seven years to well over a decade before plateauing.
  • Up versus Down Rule.  The rule states: Running uphill slows you down more than running downhill speeds you up. So, you can expect hilly runs to be slower than flat runs. “You don’t get all of the energy that you expend going uphill back when you run downhill,” explains Nimbus Couzin, Ph.D., a marathon-running physics instructor at Indiana University Southeast. “That’s because when your feet strike the ground on a descent, a lot of energy is lost.” The Exception: When you run point-to-point with a net elevation drop, your average pace should be faster than on a flat course.
  • Sleep Rule #2.  The rule states: Sleep one extra minute per night for each mile per week that you train. So if you run 30 miles a week, sleep an extra half hour each night. “Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on training,” says David Claman, M.D., director of the University of California-San Francisco Sleep Disorders Center. “The average person needs seven and a half to eight hours of sleep, so increase that amount when you’re training.” The Exception: The extra sleep may not be necessary for some high-energy folks.
  • Even Pace Rule. The rule states: The best way to race to a personal best is to maintain an even pace from start to finish. Most of the 10,000-meter and marathon world records set in the last decade have featured almost metronome-like pacing. “If you run too fast early in the race, you almost always pay for it later,” warns Jon Sinclair, the U.S. 12K record holder and now an online coach ( The Exception: This doesn’t apply on hilly courses or on windy days, when the objective is to run an even effort.
  • New Shoes Rule. The rule states: Replace running shoes once they’ve covered 400 to 500 miles. “But even before they have that much wear,” says Warren Greene, Runner’s World brand editor, “buy a new pair and rotate them for a while. Don’t wait until your only pair is trashed.” Consider shoes trashed when the spring is gone. The Exception: A shoe’s wear rate can vary, depending on the type of shoe, your weight, your footstrike pattern, and the surfaces you run on.
  • Finishing Time Prediction Rule.  The rule states: The longer the race, the slower your pace. How much slower? Jack Daniels and J.R. Gilbert spent years compiling a table (below) that shows how much you should expect to slow down from one race distance to the next. “We did some curve-fitting to come up with a formula that generates a pseudo-VO2 max for each race time,” says Daniels. They sweated the math; now you just need to sweat the race. The Exception: Terrain, weather, or how you feel on race day could all throw off the table’s accuracy.

Predict Your Performance:

Want to know how fast you should be able to run a marathon without actually running one? Look for your most recent race time in one of the columns on the left, then follow it across to your predicted marathon finish time. The chart is based on the best times from runners of various ability levels.

4:20 15:00 31:08 1:08:40 2:23:47
4:38 16:00 33:12 1:13:19 2:33:25
4:56 17:00 35:17 1:17:58 2:43:01
5:14 18:00 37:21 1:22:38 2:52:34
5:33 19:00 39:26 1:27:19 3:02:06
5:51 20:00 41:31 1:31:59 3:11:35
6:09 21:00 43:36 1:36:36 3:21:00
6:28 22:00 45:41 1:41:18 3:30:23
6:46 23:00 47:46 1:45:57 3:39:42
7:05 24:00 49:51 1:50:34 3:48:57
7:24 25:00 51:56 1:55:11 3:58:08
7:42 26:00 54:00 1:59:46 4:07:16
8:01 27:00 56:04 2:04:20 4:16:19
8:19 28:00 58:08 2:08:53 4:25:19
8:37 29:00 1:00:12 2:13:24 4:34:14
8:56 30:00 1:02:15 2:17:53 4:43:06
Source: “Oxygen Power: Performance Tables for Distance Runners,” by Jack Daniels and J.R. Gilbert.


Inspired by Coach Iris (my track coach).


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