Home Running Tips

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To wrap up our focus on the learning to run, let’s discuss high cadence.

What does it mean to have a high cadence? Here’s what you should shoot for-

  • ‹ Maintain approximately 170-180 steps per minute
  • ‹ Count 30 steps per leg in 20 seconds for a 180 cadence
  • ‹ Light, soft & quick foot placement

A high cadence—or quick steps—is proven to reduce impact and improve foot strike and running efficiency.  Studies have shown that recreational runners and chronically injured runners run with a slow cadence, whereas elite and efficient runners have a cadence of above 170 steps per minute.  Running Barefoot can greatly aid in instantly improving cadence as well as helping you to understand & master proper running technique.  Start by increasing your cadence by 10-15 steps per minute—two to three steps per leg in a 20 second period.  Once you’ve adapted to that, increase again by 10-15 steps per minute until you settle on a comfortable and efficient cadence for you between 170 and 180 steps per minute.  Cadence changes very little with speed, so you can practice cadence on all types of workouts, even while running in place!  Quick Tip: Count the steps one foot takes in a twenty second time period—29 to 30 steps will give you an ideal cadence of 174-180 steps per minute.  

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What does it mean to run with nice, compact arms?

  • ‹ Short, compact, relaxed arm movement
  • ‹ Pump back and recover forward, don’t sway side to side
  • ‹ Elbows should not extend in front of the waist unless sprinting

Most runners use far too much arm movement.  In contrast, elite runners and efficient runners move their arms as little as is necessary.  They pop their elbow back actively and then let them passively recover forward while the other elbow is popping back.  They also keep their arm motion moving front to back and don’t allow their arms to sway side to side very much.  Keep your arms compact by always holding them near your chest and at less than a 90 degree angle.   Don’t allow your elbows to come forward past your hips and don’t allow your fists to cross the midline of your chest.  Quick Tip: Use Heavy Hands or 1-2 pound hand weights on easy runs to easily find your most efficient arm movement and angle. 

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I tend to get a bit of the winter blues, come March. In December and January (what little) snow and ice we get is fun! Even just a few inches shuts down this southern town. Kids and adults alike are out trying to sled on whatever they can get their hands on, but by early March we usually get glimpses of spring. Random warm days and a few daffodils get mixed in between the cold, rainy days.

This year we had freezing rain until close to the end of March, and I was losing motivation to get up early to run. For the first time, for as long as I can remember, I began sleeping in and starting work earlier…and became an evening runner!

Now that its nearly April the tulips are coming up, the daffodils are past their prime, and even the hyacinth are looking perky. All clear signs of spring! And clear signs for me to shake a leg and get back to my morning run schedule!

After a cold winter, there are several things I like to do to get ready for warmer running weather!

1. I like to revisit my diet. In the winter I like warmer, heavier foods. I tend to change my diet, adding in more salads and raw veggies. Try a new fruit or vegetable once a week!

2. SHOES! What is more motivating than a spiffy new pair of shoes?! After slogging thorough snow, ice, mud and salt usually my shoes are looking like they need to be replaced. This spring I treated myself to a few new Altra’s, both trail and road shoes. I love being an ambassador for this company! I honestly enjoy running in every shoe I have tried of theirs. I wouldn’t be an ambassador otherwise.


The One, Lone Peak 1.5, Superior, Intuition 1.5

3. Rotate out my winter gear for my warmer weather clothes and vests. This is true spring cleaning for me. Some people wash their windows and dust. I like to make sure all of my winter running jackets are washed before they get put away to the back of the closet.

4. SPEEDWORK! Try to add in some speed to my running. In the winter, battling the elements I can slip into easy paced runs. The cold and gray can make runs a bit lack luster. Its time to get training for the spring and summer races. Get out to a track, throw in a fartlek, or hill repeats! Shake out those winter running cobwebs! (Carefully of course, you never want to jump into a lot of speed work if you have taken the winter easy or off…that’s just an injury waiting to happen.)

5. Get the bike back out. I will run in anything, however, when it comes to cycling I am a big weather wimp. I think cycling is a great way to cross train, and to enjoy some sun!

6. Thoroughly clean out my water bottles and hydration pack. I probably go longer than I should between thorough cleanings with a bristle brush. The rising temps in the spring is a reminder that it will be HOT and HUMID soon! In the winter I don’t drink nearly as much as I do in the summer…so its time to get them ready!

What spring time rituals do you have?

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True Zero Drop (exact same amount of cushioning under heel and toe / feet perfectly parallel with the ground) is the only offset that promotes a truly natural foot strike. Research by Brooks researchers has shown that even a 4mm drop causes an unnatural, more impactful landing. If you are trying to fix shin splints, knee issues, or back pain, then true Zero Drop is your best solution. What Altra does with weight balancing the shoe perfectly from front to back is also important in making sure the foot doesn’t impact the ground early. Traditional shoes are MUCH heavier in the heel and this forces an early, impactful, more dorsiflexed (heel down, toes up) landing.

Better running technique is the solution for bad joints or impact related pain like shin splints, only true Zero Drop promotes truly natural running technique. Everything else is a compromise.

Where running technique is the best way to protect joints, some cushioning is helpful for protecting the feet. Someone with bad joints could go do their long run barefoot and would likely have their joints feel the best they ever have…however, their feet will likely be destroyed. Altra strives to strike the balance between protecting your joints with good form and protecting your feet with just enough cushioning. Some cushioning is also beneficial for speed as it reduces energy loss. However, thick, overly cushioned shoes can promote impactful and inefficient running technique, slow performance by robbing energy (think running on sand), and cause foot problems by moving the feet out of their natural positioning. You wouldn’t build your house on the soft 2:1 heel to toe drop of a traditional running shoe!


Additionally, Zero Drop with your toes spread is the position you were born with. Your feet come in this position and you wake up every morning with your feet in this position. Putting the foot in this position is the key to many foot problems. Every Altra shoe features a Foot-shaped toe box—not just a wide toe box, but a shoe that is actually shaped just like a healthy foot in a sock…imagine that! The Foot-shaped toe box is designed specifically to help with Bunions, Neuromas, Metatarsalgia (general forefoot pain), & Plantar Fasciitis, etc. Our thousands of testimonials on our facebook page & blogs around the world are a testament that restoring the feet to their natural positioning helps solve these problems. It may look a bit different at first, but this is a small price to pay for being able to have healthy feet and wearing the most instantly comfortable running shoes in the world.

This combination of cushioned Zero Drop & a Foot-shaped toe box was designed by a couple of Ultra distance runners that also managed running stores. The idea was to make a shoe that would strike the perfect balance of promoting perfectly natural, low impact running form to protect their joints while also providing enough cushioning to protect their feet for distances of up to 100 miles on brutal terrain. Additionally, they wanted a solution for the dozens of customers that came in the store every day dealing with knee pain, shin splints, Plantar Fasciitis, & foot problems. Every aspect of the shoe was designed with these things in mind and then tested on the staff & eventually thousands of customers at their running store. A vast majority of customers came back saying their sometimes decades old problems had been reduced or solved and they knew they were on to something special. Today, Altra hopes to bring their vision to help every runner eliminate their limits by running more efficiently & pain free.

Leave a comment below and tell us how Zero Drop has helped you develop natural foot positioning.

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#RunTalks are a series of talks dedicated to educate and inspire runners everywhere with LIVE broadcasts for your running education enjoyment. Each #RunTalk session will feature live speakers giving presentations on various running topics.

Altra will be kicking off the 2 day event on Tuesday August 27th featuring a shoe fitting, group run, & light dinner at Wasatch Running Center: 8946 S. State St. Sandy, UT 84070.

Shoe fitting: 6:30 pm

Group Run: 7:00 pm

Food Served: 8:00 pm

The speaking event of #RunTalk 1 will be on the following day, Wednesday August 28th, at 7pm MDT at Wasatch Running Company, and broadcast live on Google +.

Speakers include running experts; Budd Coates, Author of Running on Air from Runner’s World, Tom Miller, Author of Programmed to Run, and Golden Harper, Founder of Altra Footwear.

You can watch #RunTalks live on Google+, RSVP & watch HERE.

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Spring races are hard to get ready for when Winter lingers and impacts your training. And there is only so much treadmill time we can take, right? Even in the worst of external conditions there is a way to continue training and be ready to PR early in the season. Some of these will be no-brainers for you, while others may seem really out there. Trust me though when I say they have all been tried and tested and found to be critical to successful Winter training.

1. Layer Up – We’ve all heard about layering, nothing new here. Except try this, next time layer based on what you intend to potentially remove once you get too warm. I often run with my long sleeve shirt OVER my jacket. That’s right, over, so when I get too hot I just take the shirt off and I still have wind protection. It also means I don’t have to remove layers just to put others back on.

2. Keep it Flowing – A major challenge is keeping water from freezing. Try wearing your hydration vest or belt under your outer layer. The head from your body that also gets reflected back will keep your bottles and/or hose from freezing up, even in the coldest of temps.

3. Mmm, Real Food – Trying to eat a gel packet in sub-freezing temps is equivalent to eating 3 year old glue, tasty, but not overly palatable. Winter is a great time to teach your body to eat real food while running (yes, it is possible). Carry along foods that aren’t overly dry and can be processed quickly. I prefer dehydrated mangos and rolled up tortillas with Nutella inside. But the options are endless and all yummy.

4. Traction – Slipping, especially around traffic, can persuade anyone to head for the treadmill. Purchase some traction devices, it will not only keep you on your feet but give you the confidence to run at your normal pace. Some great companies include; Hillsound, Yaktrax, Kahtoola, and StabilIcers.  Purchase the brand and model that best fits your style of running and you’ll be grateful you have them.

5. Toasty Toes – Contrary to popular belief you can run in the Winter without your feet freezing. Most people think this has something to do with shoes and Gortex, but the truth is that it has mostly to do with socks. Forget cotton and actual purchase something that keeps the wetness away from your feet. Great brands include DryMax, Icebreakers, and Injinji.

6. Blood Flow – Outside of socks the number one reason for cold feet is a lack of blood flow. When your feet are jammed into your shoes and your toes aren’t allowed to move the blood is constricted and can’t circulate through your digits. Luckily, you are already on the right website to find the perfect pair of shoes for Winter running. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which model you try, Altra Zero Drop shoes will allow your toes to move and stay warm.

7. Turtelneck – It’s common knowledge that the number one place for heat loss is your head, followed closely by your hands. But what many people don’t realize is the importance of keeping your neck warm. And I mean all of it. Wearing a hood or getting a neck gaiter will keep an immense amount of heat in. Neck gaiters also all you to pull it up over your chin and cover up that gap between your beanie and jacket also.

8. Sign Up – One of the hardest parts of Winter running is staying motivated. Actually signing up for an event and shelling out money really helps motivate us to get out the door on the cold wintery mornings. But don’t just sign up, hang some kind of reminder of the race around the house to keep it fresh on your mind. If you can’t forget it you can more easily stay focused on the goal.

9. The Fallback – Unexpected weather changes, friends bailing, alarm clocks mysteriously not going off all contribute to the all-too-often lack of training we incur during the Winter. Having backup workouts, even if they involve cross-training can keep you on track to meet your running goals. Bike trainers, power yoga, pilates, and swimming are all great ways to stay in shape when you can’t head outside and need a break from the hamster wheel.

10. The “T” Word – If all else fails, do it, run on the . . . . oh, it’s so hard to say . . . the . . . . Treadmill. You know what, some people love it, and that’s great. For others it’s as horrible a thought as having your fingernails removed with a couple of spoons. But as long as your end goal, that one thing that keeps you motivated to train, stays fresh on your mind you will do whatever it takes to get there. Even if that means running on the treadmill. There are tactics to doing it without wanting to punch yourself in the face, but those would be an article all by themselves. Just knowing it’s a good backup and being willing to do it is important enough.

I have a pretty big race coming up the end of March. To be ready I’ve had to be focused with my training and committed to getting out there in some of the worst conditions and at crazy times of day or night. But I feel ready and with only a couple weeks left of training before my taper I know I have done what it takes to allow me to reach my goal. And I have used every one of these 10 items to keep me in top physical shape and ready to run far. Hopefully they will work for you too.

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It is a new year. I did pretty good through the holidays, and managed to stay in descent shape. With the New Year comes my new race calendar. Several of the other Altra employees are going to run the Buffalo Run on Antelope island on March 23rd. So I decided to join them, as this is one of my favorite races. March 23rd in Utah can have a wide range of weather, from snowy and cold to comfortably warm with dry trails. I want to be in race shape, so I can perform in any weather condition. But how do you get into race shape during the winter? Here are a few guidelines that will help you be in tip top shape for your spring events:

1) The is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

One of the most common excuses for not training during the winter is it is too cold outside to run. It isn’t too cold, you just aren’t wearing the right gear to stay comfortable. Thanks to the development of technical apparel, we can run in almost any weather with much more comfort. You start with a baselayer, this is a form fitting, wicking piece. Next you put on the insulation layer. The insulation layer is only needed in extremely cold whether conditions. It is usually incorporated in the third layer, protection. The protection layer has the wind and/or water proofing. This is typically a very tight knit. The most common mistake mad by rookie runners is wearing cotton on any of these layers. Because cotton is hydrophilic, it holds the sweat in the material and makes your body temperature regulation harder to control. If you have more questions on running apparel, please visit your local running specialty store.

2) I have to get in a 7 mile run today…

Runners are goal setters and goal getters. When we have a training plan for the spring race, we follow the plan to ensure success. With winter training I recommend switching your training from miles in a day to minutes. I ran a favorite run behind my office that I frequently run during lunch. It is called the rockpile run. It is a solid gradual climb up into the foothills of the Wasatch front. It typically takes me 40-45 minutes to run the 6 mile run. I decided to run it yesterday as part of a 65 minute workout. The trail was covered in snow, but the path was packed for the first half of the run. The second half of the run I was cutting the trail through 12 inches of fresh snow. It was slow going. The 45 minute summer run was a full 65 minutes during the winter. I definitely was working harder than a 6 mile summer run. This is why I recommend minutes rather than miles to be the goal during your winter runs. The perceived intensity, and duration of the workout is what the workout is for. Don’t be a slave to mileage.

3) Stick to the plan, but be flexible as you plan out your week.

If you don’t get in the training runs during the winter, you won’t be in race shape in the spring. So stick to the plan. But as you are watching the 7 day forecast and notice a major winter storm scheduled for the morning of your long/intense workout, then adjust your workout plan to move that long run up a day or back a day. This doesn’t mean to can your workout everytime the weather turns south, rather, plan your entire week of workouts with the weather in mind.

4) Get a running partner.

It is much easier to get out and run on those tough winter days when you are meeting someone. Find another runner to connect with for the runs that are challenging for you. Then could mean your long runs, or your morning runs, whatever it means to you, find a motivated running partner.

5) Pick out a spring event.

Few things motivate runners more than an event at the end of the workout tunnel. Pick out an event and set realistic goals on what you would like to run. I think about the Buffalo 50 mile run daily during my runs. It is a great motivator and keeps me heading out the door into the cold for another run. Whether it is a 5k, Marathon or fitness goal, having an end in mind will change your running experience.

6) You are what you eat.

Most runners burn 80-120 calories per mile dependent on their weight. Taking the 100 calorie per hour average, I would have to run 4 miles to burn 400 calories. If I was going all out I could cover that distance in 19 minutes. Yet when I show up to the local Crispy Crème shop and buy the cookies and crème doughnut (400 calories) it only takes me 60 seconds to down the doughnut. No matter how hard we workout, we cannot compensate for poor nutrition. Ask any racecar mechanic how their cars would perform with the lowest grade gasoline…. Poorly would be the response everytime. How do we expect our bodies to be any different. Put quality food in and get quality results out.

Use these 6 tips to get into race shape during the winter. You will feel more energetic, fit and motivated to run when you do.

So look up a local event and get going!

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Many of us are feeling the cold, unforgiving winter conditions that tempt us to stay inside. While staying warm and cozy in the comfort of your own home seems appealing, it’s negatively affecting necessary training time to prime you for the spring and summer finish lines!

We never want you to stop running, but believe there are great alternate activities to help accentuate your run during the winter months. The activities below will help you overcome the dull, dreary winter months and keep you prepared for your first spring race!

And to you southerner’s grinning from ear to ear basking in the warmth and sunlight, you may still find some value in the tips below!

Here are 7 different winter workouts that you can do when weather tells you not to run.

1. Weights workouts – A great way to stay indoors and maximize your workout time is to get out the weights. Building up strength is critical for long-distance races where fatigue becomes an issue. You can use anything from dumbbells to more advanced strength training equipment. Muscle groups to target are your core, lower back, shoulders, lats, triceps, hamstrings, glutes, quads and calve. Staying in to get some weight workouts will help with muscular strength for the late race fatigue or when it is necessary to power up a tough hill at mile 15.

2. Cross-country skiing – Need some good cardio and want some amazing scenery along the way? Look no further than buying, borrowing or renting some good ole classic style cross-country skis. This workout will provides good cardio and strengthens your core. Want to go faster? Try skate style skiing. Just 30-45 minutes on these skis will go a long way in helping you to maintain that amazing race shape from last fall.

Mount Raymond Winter

3. Snowshoeing – Hit the backcountry and conquer some snow-covered peaks along the way! Snowshoeing is the perfect winter adventure activity that provides you some breathtaking backcountry scenery and targets your glues, guads and stabilizer muscles. It’s not too expensive to get into. You can purchase your own snowshoes for a reasonable price or rent them from a local outdoor retail store. However, be warned—you may fall in love with it!

4. Yoga or Pilates – These two activities can improve flexibility, strength, balance, endurance and control of your inner self. There is plenty of available content through YouTube videos, off the shelf programs or checkout out your local yoga studio. Plus, it’s an indoor activity, which means you don’t have to brave the winter elements to stay in shape!

5. Indoor Swimming - Swimming indoors is a great cross training opportunity. You can stay inside, but get an amazing workout in a condensed amount of time. Swimming laps are great, but you can also check out the local water aerobics class (yes, it’s not just for the old ladies). Just do the aerobics workouts twice as hard. This will help you have better muscle dexterity as well as improved form. The best thing about swimming? The water offers resistance to giver you an incredible workout WITHOUT the impact of running. Dive in and get stronger!

6. Ice Skating - The side-to-side motion going around the rink can be great on your hip flexers, glutes and hamstrings. Not to mention the dexterity that is offered in the IT band to help prevent that nagging pain that sometimes comes around training time. Do some great interval work at your local rink to get a worthwhile workout in a short amount of time.

7. Shovel Snow - Many of us that live in snowy environments don’t find a great joy for this one, but it is amazing the workout that comes from it. It’s easy to get annoyed by shoveling your own walk, but try going around the neighborhood. Not only will you get a great core and upper body workout, but it will feel great to help our your neighbors.

Utilizing the activities above will add variety to your training and keep your body prepared for spring.  Keep running, exploring and pushing yourself to new heights. Anything is possible if you train for #ZeroLimits.


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