November 2015

Choosing the Right Shoe




If you have been into an athletic store lately, you might have found yourself overwhelmed by all the options. There are several brands, styles and colors. I will be honest, in the past, I would buy the shoes that had a cool color scheme. I didn’t care if they were a trail shoe, a cross training shoe, a running shoe or a walking shoe. If I liked how it looked and it was the right price, I bought it. When I took up running, my trainer went over the importance of having the right shoe and being properly fitted for it. What? I had no idea! I soon learned that each shoe style has a different purpose, and it mattered.

Running shoes: designed for a forward motion and provide extra cushioning for the repetitive pounding motion that runners experience with each stride.

Cross training shoes: designed for lateral or side to side motion, flexible sole to help the floor during workouts such as aerobics or zumba.

Walking shoes: designed with a thicker heel and flexible sole to aid in the initial heel strike that takes place when walking (heel-to-toe).

Trail shoes: designed to help grip dirt, provide extra protection against rocks and often have extra protection around the toes.

Now that we covered a few of the types of shoes, how do you get the right fit? Some athletic stores, such as Run On and Luke’s Locker, have trained specialist to help you. For example, if you need a running shoe, the staff will observe your run to determine the type of gait you have, and then recommend different shoes that suit your foot. They should bring you various pairs to try on. At that point, you need to take for a test run around the store or on the pavement to see how they feel. In all likelihood, you may not really know that you have the perfect shoe until you take them for a run. Most of these types of specialty stores have a 30 day return policy.

Two training seasons ago, I switched brands. I ran in the new brand for a month and ended up returning them on the 30th day because my toes were repeatedly numb. I was so grateful I could exchange them for a different shoe. I then went on to run in Brooks, which for me are the right shoe. Everyone’s foot is different, so other brands such as Asics, New Balance or Altra may be the right fit for you. One other thing I learned through this process is that I needed a half -size larger running shoe than I wear in a dress shoe. This is common. Some people end up in a shoe that is one full size larger. Also, if you have recently had a baby, then your shoe size may have changed.

So in summary… don’t just choose the cute shoe! Make sure you are wearing the one for the activity you are performing. If you have a specialty store in the area, ask a professional to analyze your gait and help you pick a shoe that is best suited for you. If you experience any pain or numbness, the shoe isn’t the right one. Keep your shoes updated, especially running shoes. They tend to wear out after 6 months or between 400-500 miles.


To Roll or Not to Roll? Foam Rolling




Are you using a foam roller? If not, hopefully this post will encourage you to give it a try. Last year when I started a weight training program, my trainer introduced me to foam rolling. I only knew what I heard about if from runners in my circle, but I had not seen it done, nor did I understand the benefits. He went through a lengthy explanation and demonstration. I never understood the saying ‘it hurts so good’ until I gave it a try. Each day when I came into the gym, we were to spend 15 minutes warming up, with foam rolling included. If you are not familiar with it, the foam roller is a cylinder tube used in a way to give deep tissue massage to your muscles, known as self- myofascial release. The muscles are rolled back and forth over the roller 10-15 times. While it can be used in many ways such as relieving chronic pain and rehabilitation, I primarily was trained to use it in a preventative way. I was not walking around with pain in my quads or hamstrings, but when I was foam rolling, I found my ‘hot spots’ or trigger points that would hurt when the pressure was applied from the roller. After allowing the pressure to remain isolated to the hot spot, the pain eventually would subside, breaking up/releasing the ‘knot’ in the muscle. With regular use, the hot spots became fewer and my muscles had increased flexibility. This was incredibly important for me as my calves, hamstrings and quadriceps were often tight and needed the extra attention.  The foam rolling was especially helpful in the days post workout, keeping muscle soreness to a minimum. While I continue to foam roll as part of my overall fitness program, I have also had times I used it to help relieve  pain from minor muscle injuries.   I had the benefit of having someone teach me how to foam roll, which was important so I did not injure myself. In preparing this post, I did a search and there are many videos and articles with the ‘how tos’ on the foam roller, lacrosse ball and massage balls. Watch a few, consult with your trainer on how best to work it into your fitness program. There are dos and don’ts so please educate yourself before trying it..  You can find foam rollers at most quality sporting good stores and Amazon. They are a variety of types and sizes an will run you about $20.   Go ahead and show those muscles some love. After all, you work them so hard whether it be at boot camp, weight training, running or in every day life.

Check out these links for more information on foam rolling:  ACE Fitness  and Runners World.

Do you have a regular foam rolling routine? Please leave a comment and share your experience.



Why I Use Intervals to Train for a Half Marathon


Running. It’s a love/hate relationship. I am not always motivated to get out and run, but once I do it, I am so glad I did. It has become somewhat therapeutic for me. I am able to work through so many things as I run. It hasn’t always been that way. Four years ago,  I couldn’t run from my front door to the mailbox. I had no desire to run. If you saw me running, something was terribly wrong and you better start running too. Yet here I am several years later, a runner. As I was going through my fitness transformation, I heard about a 5K training class and I thought about it. I just knew I did not have the cardio vascular endurance to run 3 miles, so I was hesitant. My friend and trainer, Victoria, assured me I would be successful and that I should try it. She explained that it was an interval based program, so I wasn’t expected to run the entire class. I convinced a few friends to join me and off we went. We started with a 30 second jog  and a 1;30 min walk. We did this for about half and hour. I was stunned to see that I could do it. Over the course of 6 weeks, we increased our intervals. It all led up to our goal race and I ran my first 5K. I had walked many 5Ks before, but this was the first time I ran. My sister-in-law, Adrianne, and I ran together, only walking through the water station. We ran the rest of the race. Keep in mind, this was less than 8 weeks from when I started. When we went on to train for our half marathon, we continued the interval training. My trainer explained that running intervals helped reduce the risk of injury to the body and improved recovery time.  To be honest, the idea of running 13.1 miles didn’t really appeal to me. My sweet friend Amy asked me to train with her and other friends for the St Jude’s 2012 Half Marathon in Memphis. She had a personal connection with the hospital and we all joined together to run and raise money for St Jude’s. I barely had completed a 5K, but I wanted to try and train for the half. Interval training had worked for me before, so now I wanted to see if it could get me through half training. I completed my first half marathon in Memphis in 2015  and have gone on to complete 3 more.

Since becoming a fitness instructor, I have also helped coach 5K and half marathon training groups. I enjoy watching the transformation of these non-runners into women who go on to finish half marathons and marathons. I began reading whatever I could find on interval training so I could explain why it reduces the risk of injury and aids in a faster recovery. In my case it is partly psychological. I know that every 3 to 4 minutes, I get a short break. Our group usually runs a 3:1 interval ( run 3 minutes, speed walk 1 minute). At times we have gone to 4;1, but 3:1 is a comfortable fit for me. Interval training has shown to increase cardiovascular efficiency and to increase tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. This leads to improved performance, greater speed, and endurance. I actually am able to complete a 5K faster when I use intervals than when I run straight through. Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with overuse.  When training for longer distances, giving the body short breaks is helpful to the joints.

So, if you are one of those people who can’t run 20 yards, interval training may be the right fit for you. I realize that it is not for everyone. However, for those of us who are not natural born runners and want to try, interval based training is a good option. Want more information? Please email me at Happy Running!