Runner’s Strength Routine

Today was a non-running day. I was at school for nearly thirteen hours so by the time I got home I made dinner and parked myself on the couch. I did manage a little bit of strength training. Most training plans encourage runners to foam roll, stretch and strength train several times a week. A regular routine can help prevent injuries, avoid muscle imbalances and encourage strong running form. For years I have tried to be consistent with this aspect of my training. It has been a challenge.

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My Lonely Yoga Mat

If I was asked to choose between running five miles or foam rolling for five minutes, I’d choose running. I don’t understand how I can be so lazy when it comes to a stretching and strengthening. My yoga mat, stretching band and foam roller used to be permanently set up on my living room floor. I thought walking passed it several times a day might encourage me stop and strengthen, but I ended up just walking past the equipment and telling myself I’d do it later.

For the past two weeks I’ve been sticking to a new routine. I tailored it to focus on strengthening my core, hips and glutes. You can easily switch out the exercises based on what you need to work on. This plan works for me because it’s only twenty minutes and is continuous. I start my timer and run straight through the entire routine without a break. I’ve found that plans that have me stop in between exercises often result in me just stopping all together. I also add strength training to my moleskin (more on the moleskin in an upcoming post) for twice a week. I love that feeling of checking things off my to-do list. After researching the best exercise for hip and glute strength, I wrote out a twenty exercise routine on index card. I’ve committed to doing the routine twice a week and have found that doing it right after a run  or on off days usually works best for me.

Check out my 20 minute plan:

  1. Roll Left Side
  2. Plank
  3. Roll Right Side
  4. Squats
  5. Lunges
  6. Left Side Plank
  7. Left Side Clam Shell
  8. Right Side Plank
  9. Right Side Clam Shell
  10. Left Side Pistol Squat
  11. Fold Over Stretch
  12. Right Side Pistol Squat
  13. Right Side Hip Hike
  14. Right Side Lateral Leg Lifts
  15. Left Side Hip Hike
  16. Left Side Lateral Leg Lift
  17. Bridge
  18. 1 Leg Bridge Alternating Sides
  19. Plank
  20. Pigeon on Each Side
Lululemon Run Club: Brianna's Grad School Graduation Party

Random Picture: Lululemon Run Club at Brianna’s Grad School Graduation Party

If you have the time and money, you might consider attending yoga classes. In the past I have prioritized going to yoga a few times a week. I especially love power yoga’s ability to improve my flexibility, strengthen my body and clear my mind. This year with my new role as a Dean and grad school I felt the need to choose between being a dedicated yogi and running. Running won. I have been able to commit to a thirty minute yoga routine that I use once a week. Shannon Sodano, a high school friend of mine has several shorter yoga routines that give me the yoga benefits without having to spend time driving to a yoga studio and money on an expensive yoga package. Thanks Shannon!

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Random Picture #2: Trying to wear as many colors as possible on my Sunday run

What is your strengthening plan?

How to Run a Happy Marathon

Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston and four New York marathons said it best when he stated, “The marathon can humble you.” Of the six marathons I have completed, four were finished with smiles and two were completely miserable. Avoid a bad experience by following these tips! 

Comment Question: What are your top marathon tips?

1. Injuries don’t disappear on race day. I’m grabbing my leg in the picture because was suffering from a bad case of ITBS. It could have been easily cured with a few physical therapy sessions, a foam roller and some stretching. As a first year teacher, I felt “too busy” to do anything about it. During training I often had to cut runs short because of pain, but somehow thought it would be OK on race day. Injuries are different from tightness or “phantom” soreness. It’s normal to feel tight the week before the marathon. The day before the LA Marathon my good friend Ellen was convinced there was something wrong with her calf even though she had never experienced any issues with her calf during training.  There was nothing wrong, she was just nervous. When in doubt, see a doctor. Just do it.

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2. Don’t go out too fast. You should be loving life, taking race day selfies, meeting other runners and soaking in the marathon energy for the first twenty miles. If you reach mile twenty and think to yourself, “Ugh. Six more,” rather than “Six more. Let’s do this!” you made a mistake. Think of a marathon as a 20 mile training run with a 10K race at the end. Passing people who started too fast will give you even more energy for the final 6.2.

LA Marathon Selfie

LA Marathon Selfie

3. Stopping for water is not a waste of time. At least one sip at every water stand. Your body will thank you in the later miles. I also start the race with a mini water bottle so that I avoid the first few crowded water stops and ask friends to bring mini bottles to pass off during the race.


4. Don’t drink gatorade if you haven’t trained with it. You might end up throwing up for the last eight miles of a race. A lot went wrong in Santa Clarita when I finished in 4:45. Deciding to test running with gatorade in my stomach did not help. I ended up throwing up 5+ times, once at the 26 mile point. Shout out to Alaina for walking the last five miles with me, and Carmen for crossing the finish line with me. I have the best family and friends.

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5. Adjust your goal if the weather isn’t ideal. I was greedy at Santa Clarita. 86 degrees was not a day to PR. Running 7:50s for the first 16 miles in the heat wasn’t smart. I should have been content with a slower time. Had I started slow I would have finished with a smile and a much better time.


6. Recruit some friends to run with you for part of the course. Thank you Joanna and Brianne. Miles 14-18 were so much fun! I also appreciated having a water bottle holder. I felt like a queen saying, “Water!” and getting it passed to me immediately. I owe you guys big time!

Jo and Brianne

Jo and Brianne

7. Ask your friends to come cheer for you. Don’t be shy. It helps chunk the race knowing “I’ll see Brianne and Jo and 14, Kathy at 16, Alaina and Ashley at 17, Lauren at 20, Brent at 22.” I used to worry about asking friends to support me because I was worried I might run a bad race and waste my friends’ time. Even if you do have a bad race, there’s nothing better than having people you love there to support you. I was so embarrassed after my failed Santa Clarita race, but my Aunt Donna (a strong marathoner) comforted me with the following.

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8. Sometimes we’re just not feeling it. Ever gone out for a run and just felt tired? I’d say at least once a week I go running and my legs just feel heavy and I don’t have the energy to run hard. Taking the taper seriously helps minimize risk of heavy legs and not feeling your best, but you might just not feel your best on race day,  and that is OK. Maybe you had a busy week at work. Maybe you’re getting sick. Maybe you haven’t slept well, or something settled strange in your stomach. We are real runners, and life happens. Remember, there will always be another marathon. There are 500 marathons around the world annually. Not feeling great, take it as a fun run and sign up for something else.



Although I have run six marathons, I am no expert. There is always more to learn. Do you have other tips? Add a comment!