Safety Tips for Runners

Yesterday, Lehigh Valley Road Runners published a notice on their Facebook page about a truck which appeared to drive to different locations throughout Lehigh Parkway, backing into parking spots and watching people. While there may be a perfectly good explanation why the driver was behaving this way, it does seem rather odd and did shake the nerves of some runners. This seems like a perfect opportunity to remind everyone to be safe when running outside. Here are some safety guidelines from the RRCA.

  • DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES. Use your ears to be aware of your surroundings. Your ears may help you avoid dangers your eyes may miss during evening or early morning runs.
  • Run against traffic so you can observe approaching automobiles. By facing on-coming traffic, you may be able to react quicker than if it is behind you.
  • Look both ways before crossing. Be sure the driver of a car acknowledges your right-of-way before crossing in front of a vehicle. Obey traffic signals.
  • Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include any medical information.
  • Always stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you. The more aware you are, the less vulnerable you are.
  • Carry a cell phone or change for a phone call. Know the locations of public phones along your regular route.
  • Trust your intuition about a person or an area. React on your intuition and avoid a person or situation if you’re unsure. If something tells you a situation is not “right”, it isn’t.
  • Alter or vary your running route pattern; run in familiar areas if possible. In unfamiliar areas, such as while traveling, contact a local RRCA club or running store. Know where open businesses or stores are located in case of emergency.
  • Run with a partner. Run with a dog.
  • Write down or leave word of the direction of your run. Tell friends and family of your favorite running routes.
  • Avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails. Avoid unlit areas, especially at night. Run clear of parked cars or bushes.
  • Ignore verbal harassment and do not verbally harass others. Use discretion in acknowledging strangers. Look directly at others and be observant, but keep your distance and keep moving.
  • Wear reflective material if you must run before dawn or after dark. Avoid running on the street when it is dark.
  • Practice memorizing license tags or identifying characteristics of strangers.
  • Carry a noisemaker. Get training in self-defense.
  • When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the road. If you alter your direction, look over your should before crossing the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner.
  • CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately

Intervals: 3×½ mile


I must confess, I have never tried the Yasso 800 workout everyone is always talking about, but I do love half-mile repeats. Earlier on in a training cycle I will do this particular workout: 3 x ½-mile repeats. As my training cycle progresses I add a second set of repeats with a decent amount of time between sets to recover.

As always, remember that warm-up and cool-down!

1 to 2-mile warm-up at easy pace. Include some dynamic stretching, too.
3 x ½-mile at hard effort, or 800 if you are on the track. ¼-mile (400m) jog between repeats.
1 to 2-mile cool-down followed by some stretching.

If you need help determining your paces please visit the McMillan Running Calculator.

That’s it! Have fun and be sure to comment on how this workout went for you.

What the Hill

Fish Hatchery RdCourtesy of Megan Duerring

They’re hard, they hurt. But hills are actually our friends, the ones that keep it real. Sometimes it’s difficult to decipher what type of hill workout to do. It’s always important to understand what your goal is for any workout or running regimen. Below are some explanations of what hill workouts will do for you and the effect they have on your muscle fibers, slow or fast twitch. If you generally find yourself being able to rung long but not fast, you probably have slow twitch fibers. If you have agility and quickness but struggle to maintain pace in long runs, you most likely have fast twitch. Always remember to warm up and cool down prior to jumping into any workout. You can choose to jog or walk back down the hill, but make sure it’s slow and allows for recovery.

Long Hill Runs
Pick your course wisely in order to build slow-twitch endurance by incorporating from half a mile to 2 or 3 miles of steep hills into your long run every 2nd or 3rd week.

Long Hill Repeats
This workout will strengthen your intermediate fibers. Find a good spot to run 4-8 30 second reps to start and work up to 90 second repeats. Don’t get frustrated if you tire easily the first time around. Your strength will build, I promise!

Short Hill Repeats
Good for strengthening fast twitch fibers. Start with 8 to 10 second bursts at just under an all-out sprint. You’ll feel some soreness after this one, especially in your glutes.

Hill Springing & Bounding
Build strength and improve stride on a moderate grade by doing 2-3 rep form drills.

Downhill Strides
Put stress on your quadriceps and make them stronger, but I don’t recommend doing these unless you are specifically training for a race that nets a large downhill.

Quarter Mile Repeats

Regardless of whether your upcoming goal race is short (5K or 10K) or long (half marathon or marathon) , quarter-mile repeats will help you develop speed and endurance. I include endurance because quite honestly, learning to endure the pain of a hard-out quarter mile, especially on that last repeat for the day, is really important when it comes to digging deep during a race.

Earlier on in your training cycle include just a small handful of repeats. For instance, you could run 3 x ¼ mile with ⅛ mile recoveries. As you progress through your training cycle you can increase the number of repeats, maybe running 4 next time and 5 the next time.

Remember to include the warmup and cooldown sessions on each side of this workout. Failing to warm up and cool down correctly can lead to injury so please do not skip that.

A sample workout for later in your training cycle:

Warm up
2x (3 x ¼ mile with ⅛ mile recoveries) – half mile recovery between sets
Cool down

Workout Notes:
Target your goal time and try to maintain that for each repeat. Try to run the first repeat a couple of seconds slower than that goal time, and for the very last repeat try to beat your goal time.

Mile Repeats

I’ve always favored mile repeats as a way to test my fitness at any given point in a training cycle. Not only is this a challenging workout, it’s also a great way to test your fitness in the beginning, middle and end of a cycle. When used in this way you want to note not only your times but your effort, as well.

A word of caution: this is not a race. You shouldn’t feel wasted at the end of this workout. Instead, you should be relaxed and controlled during each repeat. You should also feel as if you can run one more. I find that with mile repeats the first half mile is rather easy, it’s that second half mile that is the real test. That is when I start talking to myself and encouraging myself that I can do it.

The Workout:

Warm up.
3 x 1 mile with half mile recoveries
Cool down.

One final note: When you do this workout try to run it at the same place each time you do it. This way you can truly gauge your progress.

Have fun!


Workout Wednesday

Let’s try something new here. Each week I will post a workout, especially helpful if you keep doing the same old workout and are looking for something new to do. Please send along your favorite workout to share with everyone here on the website to jill @

This week’s workout is a fartlek:

Run one minute at 5K-pace followed by one minute at 10K-pace. Repeat.

Depending on where you are in your training you can start with 5 repeats and work your way up from there.

To figure out your paces visit Greg McMillan’s website and use the running calculator.

Quote of the Week

“It’s important to know that at the end of the day it’s not the medals you remember. What you remember is the process — what you learn about yourself by challenging yourself, the experiences you share with other people, the honesty the training demands — those are things nobody can take away from you whether you finish twelfth or you’re an Olympic Champion.

-Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian

Does Running in Minimalist Shoes Affect the Arch of the Foot?

INDIANAPOLIS – “Barefoot” and minimalist running shoes are one of the latest trends in running gear. It’s been suggested that this type of footwear can strengthen the muscles that aren’t used when wearing traditional running shoes, causing the arch of the foot to become higher and subsequently reduce knee, soft tissue, and related injuries. In a session presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 60th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Sarah Ridge, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University, and her colleagues will discuss their investigation of minimalist running shoes and arch height.

“Transitioning from running in traditional running shoes to minimalist running shoes should increase muscle strength of the intrinsic foot muscles. Strength of these muscles can be difficult to measure; however, increased arch height could be an effect of increased strength. Therefore, we measured arch height before and after 10 weeks of transitioning to minimalist running shoes,” said Ridge, the primary researcher. “However, our results showed no difference in arch height after the 10 weeks in either group.”

In their recent study, ten weeks of transitioning to minimalist running shoes did not cause a significant change in neutral or standing arch height, concluding that the effect of minimalist running on arch height and/or injury rates is either negligible or requires a longer exposure time for significant effects

“Anecdotally, we often hear that runners who wore orthotics, then transitioned to barefoot or minimalist running no longer need their orthotics— suggesting that arch height has increased. Our results do not support that, but it may take longer than 10 weeks of beginning to run in minimalist running shoes before we’d see an effect on the arch height,” said Ridge.

Ridge says the study creates an opportunity for future research on this topic. Currently, there are no suggested guidelines for transitioning to minimalist running shoes (or barefoot running). In order to create safe, effective guidelines for runners, she said, a better understanding of the intrinsic foot muscles’ response to interventions is needed.

For more information about ACSM’s 60th Annual Meeting and World Congress on Exercise is Medicine, please visit


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national, and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. The 60th ACSM Annual Meeting brings more than 6,000 physicians, scientists, educators, students and others to the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis May 28-June 1.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine. Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.

Ashtanga Yoga for Runners

by Sarah Ongiri

I began practicing yoga about 3 years ago at Lehigh Valley Yoga in Allentown. The studio offers mostly Ashtanga based yoga and its own Hot Yoga 40. It is the only studio I have ever practiced so my experience comes for here.

While yoga is known for being relaxing. Ashtanga seeks to quiet the mind by engaging the body in challenging fast paced postures that force you to concentrate on body placement and breath both of which are implicit for runners and athletes of all kinds. Not only that, but Ashtanga engages the abdominal muscles and upper body, areas which can be neglected by runners focusing on leg strength and adding mileage. Ashtanga teaches us to lean on the breath when a posture becomes difficult for strength . Runners will appreciate the regular sequence found in Ashtanga as well. Lehigh Valley Yoga is owned by a former long distance runner and many of the teachers and students are also long distance runners and provide insight as well as empathy with runners.

Many running publications focus on using yoga as a tool for stretching post run or rehabbing run related injuries. While I fully advocate the use of yoga for these needs, I also would like to suggest utilizing yoga as a training tool for gaining endurance and speed in your run. Not only that, you will gain a peace of mind that yoga can give you.

Repeat marathoner and yoga extraordinaire Alison Fiorini says this about how Ashtanga affects her running. “I put in a lot of miles since I generally train for long distances, so I practice yoga (particularly ashtanga yoga) for both the strength and flexibility benefit. I try to practice ashtanga yoga 4-6 times per week to aid my training. By practicing a powerful style of yoga, it is a wonderful cross training tool. Yoga works all of the muscles that running doesn’t, and it stretches the ones that runners tend to overuse. I can’t imagine being a runner without also being a yogi!”

A caution for runners coming to Ashtanga is that you will be challenged. As runners, we often come to yoga with tight hamstrings and hips. It is imperative that athletes and all coming to yoga leave their egos at the door. You may not going to look like the super flexi dancer girl on the mat across from you. That is okay. Not only that but if you let Mr. Ego take over you will get hurt and your running days will be on hold. Just like a running injury, a yoga injury will put you out of commission way longer than you expect. While exploring your edge is awesome, knowing when you meet it is essential. Runners are trained to work through the pain but pain during yoga is a strict stop sign.

Hot Yoga 40 offers a whole other training opportunity. It is approaching the hot weather running season and while nothing teaches you to run in the heat like running in the heat does, Hot Yoga 40 offers the opportunity to explore your body’s endurance and flexibility in a controlled environment. Got a run planned for Hawaii or Florida or even the LV in August? What a better way to get ready for the climate then with some yoga in 105 degree humid room. Benefits from hot yoga are immediate. Heat opens your body up and you will felt lighter. Runners will find an increase in flexibly and looseness in their bodies. I would recommend attending hot yoga after a run and not before and again pay keen attention to your hamstrings and hip tightness. Focus on controlling your breathing in the heated environment and enjoy the way the heat looses any tight or injured areas of your body. I felt great relief and comfort in a hamstring pull when I attended Hot Yoga 40 on a regular basis. I was able run again in a couple of weeks and feel little to no discomfort in that muscle. An important training aspect of hot yoga is your nutrition and hydration. I feel much more comfortable if I drink around 32 ounces of water prior to my practice. Small sips throughout the class provide mental comfort but it is your previous hydration that will really help you move through your time in the hot room. Again, lessons in the hot room help immensely on race day. While hot yoga can be practiced comfortably once a week, if you decide to obtain an Ashtanga practice I recommend practicing at least 2-3 times a week. Otherwise each practice will feel like punishment on your hamstrings. This does not mean you need to come to the studio for a 60-90 minute class. You can roll out your mat at home and run through a number of sun salutations and standing poses as well as some forward folds and then a few minutes in the closing postures. And days when that is too much

2-3 sun salutations to closing postures can be enough. Just like running, if you want to get it in you can. There will be days when you are done. I remember when there was just no way my body was going to do even one more thing and that is okay. Rest in child’s pose Doing so stretches your thighs, ankles, and hips which all runners need. It also calms your mind. And while you are there breath into those lungs. Most runners are healthy enough to participate in any of the yoga classes I mentioned. If you are pregnant or have chronic injuries or illnesses , check in with your doctor. If you are a competitive athlete training with a team or for the Olympics (we can all dream right?) check with your trainer or your coach to get the ok before undergoing what will be a challenging yet rewarding journey.

In any yoga class, remember your are there for you. Do not compare yourself to others or feel the need to perform for your fellow yogis. They likely did not already cover miles that day or that week. Enjoy the opening of your body but don’t muscle your way into poses. Lean on your breath and whatever else, just do this. Breath.