Monthly Archives: April 2013

Flat and Fast Marathon Courses

We all love marathons with flat and fast courses, they are fun and easy to run. They are the sort of races where you are likely to polish up your running CV by setting a new personal best. Here is a list of 5 marathons with flattest and fastest courses. They are from USA and Europe.

Fastest Marathon Courses

Austin Marathon

The course of Austin marathon is relatively flat. But what makes it even more fast is excellent organization. The race has more water and food stands to hydrate and feed the runners, than are typical of marathons elsewhere.

The start line of the  Marathon and Half Marathon is located at 16th Street and Congress Avenue. The courses meanders along Austin’s most scenic and historic areas, including Lady Bird Johnson Lake, the Allandale and Hyde Park neighborhoods, Congress Avenue, the University of Texas campus, and the State Capitol complex. Data from official site.

If the flat course is not enough reason to power you racing to the finish line, there are over 30 rock bands lined up along the course to cheer you on.

Napa Valley Marathon

This marathon was voted by Forbes magazine as one of the best marathons in the world. The course runs the length of the famed Napa Valley wine-growing region. It start line is at Calistoga, famous for its geysers and curative waters, and then moves south along the historic Silverado Trail to finish at Vintage High School in north Napa. Apart from the flat and fast course, on the background of the course are views of the valley, flowering fruit trees, and dormant vineyards carpeted with golden mustard flowers. At the bottom of official site, there is this warning “If you cannot finish the race within the 6 hour time limit, please do not enter and take an entry spot away from a runner who can finish within the allotted time.”

Philadelphia Marathon

The welcome message on the official site says it all “Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a first-timer, Philadelphia is the place for you. We’ve designed our course to be scenic, fan-friendly and, above all, great for running. It’s no wonder we’re consistently listed among the top ten races in the country, recognized for our mostly flat terrain, ideal temperature and awesome atmosphere.”

Boston Marathon

Although Boston is known for being hilly. The word “Hilly” is deceptive. Majority of the hilly sections are sections where you are running down hill. When running down hill it is very easy to run fast. NB. The fastest time ever ran on a marathon course was set at Boston marathon by Patrick Makau of Kenya.

Flattest Marathon Courses

Berlin Marathon

There is a good reason why so many new marathon record times have been set at this icon european race. This German race is well known for its flat and even surface. Another element that aids the runners is the perfect autumn weather.The course starts and finishes near the Brandenburg Gate.The race has a good spectator support.  The race slogan is “Marathon party at the fastest course in the world.” See official Berlin marathon site.

Las Vegas Marathon

The race is part of Rock & Roll marathon series. The marathon and half marathon courses are as flat and festive as they come – perfect for runners and walkers of all ability levels. Although the course is flat, the race has a carnival atmosphere that can act as a distraction. There is a drive through wedding(Yes, you can renew your vows while running) and so many runners running dressed in Elvis costume.  See Las Vegas Marathon.

Boston Marathon Qualifying Times & How to Qualify With Ease

Boston marathon is the oldest and most prestigious marathon race. Every runner wants to run Boston at one point in his/her life. The organizers receive tens of thousands of application each year but many are turned away because the race is restricted to around 25,000 runners. Due to the big interest, the organizers require applicants to meet qualifying standards.

Boston marathon qualifying times/standards

Any runner dreaming of running at Boston marathon must show proof of finishing a marathon at a time lower than the time for his/her age group. Runners are grouped in ages, 18-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80+

Boston Marathon qualifying standards

Source, BAA.

As you can see, the times are anything but easy. You have to be a damn quick runner to qualify. Below is a simple running guide on how to meet the qualifying times.

How to Qualify for Boston Marathon

1. Choose a marathon with a flat course.

The best short for hitting your goal is to choose a race where many runners have a habit of setting new PBS. Look for marathons with a flat course. Think of Amsterdam marathon, Berlin marathon, Paris marathon, Portland marathon, Baystate marathon etc. These marathons are famous for having a flat & fast courses. Before you join any race, make sure the race is listed among certified boston qualifiers at BAA website.

2. Quality Training

Since you are shooting for speed, it is important your marathon training plan is of high standard. Make sure it is intense. To run below the above times you will need to be running at least 4 times in week over a period of 3-4 months.

3. Speed work

In addition to your regular road racing make time to speed work outs. Do fartleks, yasso 800, interval training etc.

4. Eat Well

To run well you must eat well. Food is the fuel that drives you momentum. A healthy diet for an active marathon runner is one that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and sufficient but not excessive in protein. That translates to about 60 percent of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 15 percent from protein.

5. Hill Running

Although you are training to run a flat course, running hills is good for your legs, lungs and heart. Hill running will give your legs stamina and speed. Hill running will also enhance your breathing capacity.

6. Recovery.

Some call it, recovery, others call it rest, repair, growth, adaption, or even non-running-training. The most important element of training that many marathon training plans ignore is structured rest to make the most of the structured work. Every plan must include the correct balance of work and rest. It is in this rest time that our bodies respond to the loads we have placed on them. If there is no recovery then there is no improvement. A good training program recognizes this and does not leave recovery up to chance. The quantity, quality, purpose and timing of each of the training sessions are optimized to ensure that there is just the right amount of recovery to rebuild the body before the next load is introduced.

Funny & Inspiring Running Quotes on Runners T-shirts

If you want to see creativity, look at the back of a runner’s T-shirts. The quotes on a runner’s T-shirt is a testament of his/her philosophy; Some are serious but some are funny. Some quotes are so funny that we never forget them, I still remember the funniest quote I saw during my first marathon “Run like you stole something”

The quotes can be used during 5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon or ultra marathon races.

Funny & Inspiring Running Quotes to Print on your T-shirt

Here is a collection of some Funny Quotes seen on runners T-shirt although some are from spectator signs. My all time favorite running quote is “No one ever drowned in sweat.”

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

Having a true faith is the most difficult thing in the world. Many will try to take it from you.”

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

“You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back.”

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”

“Life’s battles don’t always go to the strongest or fastest man,

“But sooner or later the man who wins is the fellow who thinks he can.”

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

inspring and funny quotes on runners t-shirt

“Man imposes his own limitations, don’t set any”

“Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage”

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

Real athletes run others just play games

The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do.

My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.

Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste death but once.

Tomorrow is another day, and there will be another battle!

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

All it takes is all you got.

Run like hell and get the agony over with.

The five S’s of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit; but the greatest of these is Spirit.

The only tactics I admire are do-or-die.

It is true that speed kills. In distance running, it kills anyone who does not have it.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we’re all cowards.

It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.

Stadiums are for spectators.  We runners have nature and that is much better.

Stadiums are for spectators.  We runners have nature and that is much better.

“The will to win is worthless, without the will to prepare.”

Use the quotes to inspire yourself and push through the pain and agony of running.

Safety Tips & Benefits For Running While Pregnant

Pregnancy interrupts many things in a mother’s life. There are changes in diet, chores and for moms who love running, they have to decide whether to continue running or suspend running until after delivery.

The majority of women suspend their running when pregnant. This is understandable but there is evidence that shows pregnant women can continue running while pregnant and running when pregnant has benefits. Pregnant women can continue running in their first trimester, second trimester and even third trimester.

Case Studies Of women running while pregnant

The proof of pudding is in eating. The best person to to tell us whether it is safe to run while pregnant is a pregnant runner. Read the account these pregnant runners,Rebecca, Amelia Hill and Ashley.

Benefits of running exercise while pregnant

  • Running exercise while pregnant helps limit excess weight gain.
  • Running exercise while pregnant keeps your mood up.
  • Running while pregnant can ward off pregnancy-induced hypertension and other prenatal problems.
  • Women who exercise before and during pregnancy generally have less complicated pregnancies and births.

Despite the benefits, most people have are very sceptical about running while pregnant. The fear has to do with the fact that running is a physically exhausting exercise. That may be true but when done correctly running is safe during pregnancy.

Risk of Running During Pregnancy

During pregnancy your body undergoes many changes. The major change is the softening of bones and ligaments. These softening mean you are more susceptible to injury. Your temperature regulation mechanisms goes haywire, you can easily over heat and damage the foetus.  Highly demanding exercise can deprive the baby in the womb much needed oxygen.

Safety of running during pregnancy

Doctors now agree that moderate exercise during pregnancy is good for both mother and baby. The keyword here is “Moderate”  running while pregnant is not business as usual. You need to adjust downward your speed and intensity. Good places to run are on soft surfaces such as grass, treadmill and running track.

In an article about female runners and pregnancy “Jane Hahn, senior editor for Runner’s World Magazine, believes many experienced runners can continue to run at least part-way through their pregnancies provided their doctors are aware of their exercise.

Safety Guidelines to follow for those who choose to continue running while pregnant

If you do decide to continue to run, here are some guidelines:

  • Don’t run to exhaustion.
  • Don’t run at high levels of intensity (e.g. sprinting)
  • Avoid running in extreme heat.
  • Always stay hydrated
  • Eat a balanced diet, eat before racing and eat immediately after running.
  • Always listen to your body and to your baby. If you feel something is wrong, it probably is.
  • Use a heart rate monitor to monitor your heart rate. Be cautious of an elevated heart rate.
  • If running feels too uncomfortable, consider other exercise, such as swimming or aqua-jogging, to keep fit. An exercise bike will help you to keep fit.

When to Stop running

If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should stop running immediately and consult a doctor:

-Bloody discharge or amniotic fluid leakage from the vagina
-Sudden swelling of the ankles, hands or face
-Persistent, severe headaches or visual disturbance
-Elevation of pulse race or blood pressure that persists after running.
-Excessive fatigue or any palpitations or chest pains
-Persistent contractions (they may suggest the onset of pre-mature labor)
-Unexplained abdominal pain

Here is to safe running.

How To Qualify For New York Marathon : Beat Qualifying Times

The New York City Marathon is the most popular road race. Almost every runner has listed it as the “must do” race in his/her wish list. To know how popular this race is, “in 2012 an astonishing 98,000 runners applied to participate.” “Race registration closes just hours after opening.” Because of demand outstripping available slots, the race is restricted to 45,000 runners.

How to Secure a Place at New York City Marathon.

To secure a spot you can meet qualifying times, run for charity or buy a travel package. The other ways are to apply to the lottery or joining New York Road Runner (NYRR) club.

NYC Marathon Qualifying times for guaranteed entry.

To secure a guaranteed place, a runner must show proof of meeting the following qualifying times for marathon or half marathon. NB. There are different times for men and women. Standards are higher for men than for women. The times have been grouped according to age groups, age 18-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70+.

New York City Marathon Qualifying timesSource of data, NYC Marathon site.

Here are a few tips on how to beat these times and qualify for New York City Marathon.

1. Pick the right race to qualify

The first step is to choose a race that you will use to qualify. Some races have courses that are more challenging than others. If you pick a race that is hilly or well known for bad weather or even poorly organized, you are going to run a slow race and you will not meet the qualifying times. The best races are those with a flat course combined with perfect weather for running.

Some flat courses

  1. Steamtown marathon – not really flat but has steep down hills that will have you rolling right through this race and into NYC Marathon.
  2. Chicago Marathon – Has one of the flattest courses but has a history of bad weather interruptions.
  3. Baystate marathon
  4. Detroit marathon
  5. Walt Disney world marathon

2. Pick a Training Schedule

After picking your race you need to start training for it. Draw up a training schedule. A good marathon schedule is for 3 to 4 months. This will allow you to peak at the right time and not under train or over train.

The training program should be drawn up on a paper or on a computer spread sheet. t should have running days, speed works, long runs and rest days.

3. The right running shoe

Get a proper running shoes. A good running shoe is one designed to match your foot. See, How pick the right running shoe to match your feet. A good running shoe will go along way to assisting you run faster and further and prevent running injury. You will suffer a running injury if you use one of the following shoes for running:-

  1. Tennis shoes
  2. Basketball shoes
  3. Worn out running shoes
  4. Spikes.
  5. Every day sneakers.

4. Don’t Forget Strength training

If you hope to run a race full of strength and speed you will need to build leg strength. Schedule time to visit a gym and do work outs targeted to the legs. Do squats to build the hamstrings and quads. Do calf raises if you want strong calf muscles. The exercises will also minimize running injuries to these areas.

5. Run Hills.

Since your game plan is race on a flat course, doing training on a hilly course will make race day seem like a walk in the park. Running hills will also give your legs running stamina, build strong lungs and heart.

6.Join a running club or race with friends.

Running can be a lonely pursuit, particularly when on a long run. One easy method to beat the boredom is to run in a pack of like minded runners. Some of the benefits of joining a running club are, you get tips from experienced runners and an opportunity to run in a group.

To get maximum benefit from running with others, make sure the person or people you plan to run with are at the same level of training as you. You will not want to be held up by a running partner who cannot keep up with you, and similarly you will not want the strain of running faster than you are comfortable with so as to keep up with a quicker partner.

One final thing on this point – running with others does not necessarily mean running with other people. Dogs make great running companions and are the partner of choice for many in training.

7. Stay hydrated

Studies have shown that being as little as 2 percent dehydrated can have a negative effect on your running performance. Being dehydrated can make you run slower and may make you feel sluggish and light-headed. You may also start to cramp. It is therefore important to make sure you take on enough fluids whenever you are out running.

8. Eat well.

Just like a racing car needs to be well fuelled, a runner needs to eat well to run well. A healthy diet for an active runner is one that is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and sufficient but not excessive in protein. That translates to about 60 percent of your calories coming from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 15 percent from protein.

All the best as you try to qualify for new york city marathon!

Causes and Prevention of Stomach Cramps when Running

Stomach cramps are sharp annoying pains around your abdominal. They normally cause a runner to slow down or even stop running altogether depending on how severe the pain is. They are not always a sign of illness but a sign that the abdominal muscles are experiencing some kind of stress.

Here is a list of the most common causes of stomach cramps while running and some suggestions on how to prevent it and how to alleviate the pain.

Rapid Breathing & Shallow Breathing

This is the main cause of abdominal pain among new runners and runners with a habit of shallow breathing. This pain is referred to as “side stitch” Running involves a lot of rapid breathing. This rapid breathing cause stretching and contracting of ligaments attached to the abdomen. New runners are not used to this over stretching and they will experience some level of pain. The pain usually goes away over time as the body adapts to the rigours of running. The best remedy for a side stitch is to take deeper breaths. Deep breathing will allow the ligaments to relax. Another effective option is to massage the area.

If you are new to running and you suffer from constant side stitches just know the problem will go away as you continue to get running experience.

Dehydration

Another explanation to the cause of abdominal pain when running is dehydration. This normally happens during training when a runner has minimal water supply but it can even happen at a race where runners have access to water. This happens when runners follow a poor hydration routine. One good example of a poor hydration routine is poor timing – Instead of taking a sip at every water station, a runner takes water only at half way point.

A runner may drink plenty of water during the race but other physiological factors might block the body from absorbing the water. Factors that interfere with hydration are:-

  1. Excessive sweating
  2. Very cold water

To prevent cramps make sure to drink water at regular intervals along the cause. Drinking water at every water station may be excessive. A good idea is to always skip one station. If you are they type that sweat too much try to increase your water intake.

Poor choice of pre race meals

Some foods are also known to cause stomach cramps. Proteins like beef and pork are slow to digest and stay for a long time in the stomach and are known to be a cause of cramping when running. Other no no foods are high fibre diets eg. fruits like pears, apples, pineapples. Gluten rich foods are also known to cause stomach cramps among athletes. Read. Common foods that cause abdominal pain when running.

Lactic Acid Build-up

Lactic acid build-up happens after a long period of strenuous running. Although the lactic acid build up happens in the muscles, the symptoms are felt all over the body. As lactic acid builds up, a runner will start experiencing symptoms such as nausea and vomiting and abdominal pain. The only treatment is rest. Most runners feel better after taking adequate rest.

The best way to prevent this problem from occurring is avoid over training. Too much training will cause a situation where there is too much lactic acid floating around the body. Make sure you take adequate rest after running to allow the body to go back in to balance. Avoid training two days in a row.

Undiagnosed illness

At times the problem can be a case of undiagnosed illness especially with runners who suffer chronic stomach cramps while running. If your pains are very bad, consult a doctor to investigate if it is a case of Irritable bowel syndrome, gastroenteritis, appendicitis, crohns disease or any other intestinal infection.

Abdominal cramping while running is a problem that most runners have to deal with at one point or another. The best way to alleviate the problem is to make sure you are well hydrated, use a proper breathing technique,eat right and in good health. Remember, as you get more running experience the problem will get less severe.

How P90X Can Make You A Better Runner

Although P90X is popular among gym rats, it can also used by runners to improve their running performance. P90X was developed for people who are already fit and want to get more from their work out. Runners who are interested in running faster can use the program to build muscle strength  and power.

The program alone won’t make you a better runner. Running is still an aerobic activity and you need to do the hard road running for your training. P90X comes in as part of your cross training activity. It complements your regular running.

P90X program consists of 12 work outs that are performed over 90 days. The work outs come in 12 DVDs. Each DVD covers a specific work out routine. The work outs that I cover here are those that may be beneficial for runners.

P90X Work Outs That are Beneficial for Runners.

  1. Chest and Back
  2. Plyometrics
  3. Legs and Back
  4. Stretch
  5. Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
  6. Shoulders and Arms
  7. Core Synergistics
  8. Ab Ripper X

P90X, Upper Body Work outs : Chest, Back, Shoulders, Arms

Although running is all about the legs, the upper body is also very important. Famed American coach, Alberto Salazar explained the importance of building upper body strength when he revealed how he transformed British athlete, Mo Farah, from an average runner to a gold medal winner at 2012 Summer Games.

These upper body routines in P90X consists of of push ups, pull ups, and various arm, chest and back exercises. These exercises will help you develop a leaner, stronger and more flexible upper body that will enhance your running efficiency. The fact is, a runner carrying too much fat on the upper body will run at a slower pace than a runner with a leaner upper body.

P90X : Lower Body exercises, Legs and Back

The leg muscles are the muscles that are most active during running. If you want to tun faster and further you will need add leg strengthening exercises to your training. The lower body work outs in P90X are designed to strengthen your quads, hamstring and calves. The exercises consist of lunges, squats, calf raises.

P90X : Stretch

Doing stretching after running is very important. Stretching helps to ease muscle fatigue by relaxing tight muscles and increasing blood flow to the muscles. Stretching is also a good exercise to minimize running injuries. Check out article on Stretching for speed.

P90X : Core exercise

The core is also important because it connects the lower body with the upper body. The AB Ripper and Core Synergistics are good work outs that can go a long way to building a runners core strength. These core work outs help to build a strong abdominal and lower back. A strong core will help a runner maintain a good running posture and improve his running efficiency.

P90x Plyometrics

Plyometrics exercises are all about increasing running speed. The P90X DVD on Plyometrics consists an assortment of jumps, squats, leaps and other movement exercises to develop leg strength, explosiveness and cardiovascular fitness.

P90X is a program that can benefit runners by making them stronger and more efficient as well as improving overall fitness.

Common Foods That Cause Stomach Cramps When Running

Stomach cramps are the bane of running. The cramps are in form of sharp pains that interfere with running experience. The pains are so bad that they make runners slow down. The cramps are common among new runners but they start going away with running experience.

Causes of Stomach Cramps

The most common cause of running  stomach cramps are in-experience, dehydration, poor breathing technique, lactic acid build up in the body and poor food choice.

This article touches on foods that make you suffer stomach cramps when running. All runners have a pre race meal but some of the foods eaten before running are prone to cause abdominal pain.

It is good to note runners are different, some runners might feed on these foods and not suffer any adverse reaction. For runners who have been suffering stomach cramps while running and don’t know what is the cause, look at the following food list and see if you feast on any food before racing. Then cut it out of your pre race meal and see whether things will improve.

Foods To Avoid that Cause stomach cramps while running

Dairy products – Foods like milk yoghurt and cheese contain large amount of lactose. Runners who suffer from lactose intolerance will get a negative reaction in form of stomach cramps whenever they consume large quantities of dairy products.

Fiber Rich Foods

Although fiber reach foods are good for digestion, they are bad when consumed a few minutes before running. They stay longer in the stomach and take longer to be absorbed in to the body. Running with that extra matter in your stomach will cause cramps.

Proteins.

Protein rich diets of beef, chicken and pork are good when eaten after the race but bad before the race. Just like fiber rich foods, proteins like meat and beef stay longer in the stomach longer and are hard to digest. Combine that with running and you will suffer stomach cramps.

Gluten rich food

Runners who suffer celiac acids may suffer stomach cramps whenever they eat a diet rich in gluten. Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley and rye

Caffeine

Research has shown drinking a reasonable amount of coffee can be good for running by boosting running performance. However,coffee is a stimulant that can affect the digestive tract. if you suspect coffee is giving you stomach cramps try to reduce the amount of coffee you guzzle before running. If that does not work, trying cutting out coffee from your pre race meal.

Energy Drinks

I love energy drinks but some energy drinks have been show to cause stomach cramps. Different runner react differently to energy drinks. The only way to know the energy drink best suited for you is to experiment with different energy drink during training.

Juices –

Majority of juices sold in supermarkets are made from concentrates. Many contain high levels of sugars. When taken before or during your run, they can cause abdominal pain. Orange juice and grape juice are notorious for this.

Pears, melons, pineapple

These fruits and veggies are high in fiber, but are also known for causing gas. This can lead to painful bloating.

 

How To Choose The Best Running Shoe For Your Foot Type

The shoes is the important gear for a runner. Choose the right shoe and you will run faster and injury free. Choose the wrong shoe and you will suffer unending injuries. Every runner has a different type of foot and it is important to know the type of foot you have so that you can buy the shoe that matches your foot.

Running shoe manufacturers such as Nike, Adidas, Brooks, New Balance, Asics, Puma, Reebok, Newton e.t.c make shoes to match different types of feet.

How to determine foot type: The Wet Test

If you don’t know your foot type, here is a 3 steps guide for discovering your foot type. It is called the wet test. The idea is simple, you just deep your foot on a basin of water and then place it on a piece of paper.

1st step: Dip your foot into a basin of water with your right or left foot. Dip it into the water up to your ankle level to make sure your foot is wet, but not too soaked in water.

2nd step: Remove the foot and step on slowly onto the dry surface, I prefer a piece of paper. Place the foot for a few seconds before completely picking it up.

3rd step: examine the footprint on the paper surface; you should see any of this image.

arch type
After knowing your foot type you will know the best type of running shoe for you.

Matching Your Foot Type to The Right Shoe

Normal Foot Type

Normal foot is also known as neutral foot. As you can see in the image above, the normal foot leaves a footprint with a moderately-sized band connecting the forefoot and the heel. If this is the your foot type you should wear stability shoes.

Stability running shoes are specifically designed for the normal or neutral foot type.Although they might feel rigid, they provide shock-absorbing cushioning-which is very helpful when running.

Flat Foot Type

A flat foot is when leave an imprint of the whole surface area of your foot. The heel and the ball of the foot are all connected together. Runners who have this type of foot tend to suffer more injuries and lower foot problems.  The best type of running shoe a flat footed runner is motion control shoes.

Motion control shoes tend to be heavy and rigid but they are very durable. They are designed to makes it difficult for the foot to turn when rolling inward.

High Arched Foot Type

This foot imprint is the most curvy. There is little or no connection between the forefoot and the heel. This type of runners tend to roll their foot outwards when running. If this is your foot type you should go with a shoe designed to absorb that extra outward pressure.

The best shoe for a high arched foot is cushion shoes. Cushion shoes are designed with advanced stability and cushioning properties. They offer the most flexibility compared to the other running shoes.

Finally, remember what I said at the beginning “Choose the right shoe and you will run faster and injury free. Choose the wrong shoe and you will suffer unending injuries.”

How To Strengthen Knees for Running

The knees are one of the highest impact areas of a runners body and it is therefore vital to undertaken knee strengthening exercises to help protect the muscles from wear and tear that comes about through constant running. As with any form of strengthening exercises though it is important to remember to intermix stretching exercises to prevent over tightness of the muscles.

Equally as important though is to remember not to overdo the knee strengthening exercises. A small amount of pain will show that micro-tears are occurring enabling the muscles to become bigger and stronger, these tears though do need time to heal, so exercises should not be undertaken on consecutive days.

Muscles that Support the Knee

Knee strengthening exercises for running will focus mainly on the hamstrings and quadriceps, although it is important not to forget the calf muscles and hip abductors which also help support the knee. Focusing on one group of muscles and ignoring the rest will cause muscle imbalance which will cause knee problems in itself.

There are many exercises that have been developed to assist runners with knee strengthening although the list below highlights five of the most basic.

Exercises To Strengthen Knees for Running

1. Balancing – Knee strengthen can be developed through simple balancing exercises. This can be achieved through the use of a chair for support, and then simply balancing on alternate legs, ensuring that the body’s weight doesn’t shift to one side.

2. Quadriceps Strengthening through Contractions – Sitting on a chair, you should extend your legs so that the heels are on the ground. Then as you keep your knees straight you should tighten your thigh muscles. As you are doing this count up to ten, and then relax for a three count before repeating again. Start with just a few repetitions and then increase the number over time.

3. Quadriceps Strengthening through Leg Lifts – Lie on you back, with right knee bent to a right angle, ensuring that your right foot stays flat on the ground. Then keeping the left leg straight raise it until it is level with the right knee. Hold the position for three seconds and then undertake nine further repetitions, alternating legs as appropriate.

Video Demonstration of Knees Strengthening Exercise

4. Hamstring Strengthening through Contractions – Sit down on a chair so that your heels are on the ground. Then without moving the heels gently pull back on them, you should be able to feel a build up of tension in your hamstrings. As you are doing this count up to ten, and then relax for a three count before repeating again. Start with just a few repetitions and then increase the number over time.

5. Hamstring Strengthening through Curls – Curls are undertaken by lying on your stomach, and then placing the right foot onto the back of the left heel. As you pull your left heel up towards your backside, your right leg should resist. This movement will contract the hamstring, and the position should be held of a count of ten, before relaxing for a further three.