Cross Country Ankles

Guest blogger Victoria Junious is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and exercise enthusiast. 

I am pretty sure that my ankles are being held together by the anatomical equivalent of playdoh at this point. My ligaments have the structural integrity of string cheese, and the vigor of a decaying tree.

Now, they weren’t always this way. About ten years ago, my ankle ligaments were doing their thing. The robust, tough straps of collagen and elastic fibers held my ankle bones together with the best of them. I completed active warm ups and plyometric drills without a second thought. I had no idea what ligaments even were. I miss that ignorant bliss.

Now, to tell you how that changed, I have to set the scene. Imagine, me, a high school sophomore, who just wanted to play basketball in the fall being forced into cross country for “endurance training.” Mind you, I was a 400 and 800-meter runner in the spring, so it made sense, but I barely had any interest in running half a mile, let alone 3.1.

However, after being harassed by all of the coaches, basketball and track alike, to join the team and due to a predisposition to people please, begrudgingly, I woke up to make every 6AM practice for the next 3 months. 

Victoria Dealing with Ankyle Injuries

My first meet of my cross country career was a disaster. I found out in the most embarrassing way that it is possible to get lapped on a cross country course. I don’t know what possessed me to keep doing it, other than a mixture of spite and embarrassment, but I ended up running a massive new PR every meet that season.

It felt as though I had transformed into the main character role from a high school anime that no one asked for, one in which I summoned the power of my own will to run faster than my or my coaches’ wildest dreams. I managed to go from the basketball girl that no one really cared about, to third on varsity in one season. To everyone’s surprise, at the end of that season, I even went on to make regionals. 

How does this relate back to the straggling floss that are my ankle ligaments now you ask? Because  at every meet at which I got faster that season, I had a proportional increase in the number of times my ankles decided to wiggle and wobble. It felt like I misstepped into every hole, every deviation in the ground, and every pebble on every course. At times it felt like the earth itself had a vendetta against my talocrural (ankle) joint. However, although I felt like my ankles were giving way left and right, I was never “hurt,” so I just went about my business.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, my poor ankles were experiencing repetitive microtraumas that ultimately led me to spraining my right ankle for the first time two days before the regional cross country meet that year. It swelled up to the size of a small grapefruit and it was incredibly painful. I ran on it anyway. Eventually, the swelling and pain went away, but the structural integrity of the ligaments had changed. A few months later, I re-sprained it playing basketball. Then I re-sprained a few more times throughout the school year for good measure. 

That season of cross country set a precedent for what would become a cycle of injury. Working through the pain, quickly trying to return to play/running, and reinjury would follow me through the majority of my athletic career, through college, and beyond. In spite of my high school athletic trainer’s best efforts I never took the time to address the deficits I had in ankle strength and stability until college, when at one point, I was re-spraining my ankle about every three weeks.

I say all of this because my story is not uncommon. What I was experiencing in the physical therapy world is called “chronic ankle instability.” Basically, I never gave my ankle the time it needed to heal, nor did I fully commit to the rehabilitative measures to make it better.

Even now, ten years later, I recognize the differences in balance, ankle mobility and strength between my left and right ankles.  I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to chill out and take the time to fix it, but since I can’t go back in time and warn myself to take ankle injuries seriously,  I will tell you. 

My Tips for Preventing & Dealing with Ankle Injuries

  • Take preventative measures to avoid injury/reinjury – If I would have addressed the “wobbliness” that I felt at my ankles before I sprained it the first time, I might have avoided, or at least reduced, the number of headaches that my ankle gave me over the course of my running career. Even if the ligaments at the ankle are compromised, the muscles at the ankle provide support to the joint as well. The stronger they are, the better the support. In my opinion, if you are in the business of running, a few heel walks, toe walks, intrinsic foot muscle strengthening, and single leg balance activities are in order. Although preventative/maintenance strength programs can feel frivolous and time consuming at times, an injury will suck up way more time and energy.
  • Give yourself time to heal – Ankle sprains can take anywhere from a few days, for a mild sprain, to about a year, for a complete tear, to heal completely. As your body works to repair itself, it’s in a fragile state. Modifying your exercise routine to reduce stress at the ankle will decrease your chance of reinjury. I know that this one is a tough one for runners especially. With cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track I never had time to give my ankle a break. I would cross train on a bike or in the pool for two or three days, then go right back to trail running because I felt like if I was not running, I would lose too much fitness. However, when I look back on all of the times that I repeated the cycle of injury I realized I probably spent at least 2-3 weeks cross training over time. If I would have given myself adequate time to heal in the beginning, the amount of time I spent cross training might have been the same or even less. By taking it easy, I could have avoided the cycle completely. 
  • Use external support. – Realistically, I cannot imagine any athlete sitting out of their sport for weeks to months to allow their ankle sprain to fully heal. However, if you do have to get back to training or competing, consider doing so with some extra support. Ankle braces, ankle sleeves, and support taping can provide your ankle with external support when the internal support, the ligaments, need a little extra help. 
  • Go see a physical therapist! – Although many ankle sprains will heal on their own, without lasting deficits, PTs can help you identify and address any lasting effects from an ankle sprain and help speed up the recovery process. PTs can also identify any vulnerabilities in terms of weakness, balance, running form, shoe wear, and give you the tools and direction you need to address them and mitigate the chance of injury or reinjury.

Victoria Junious

Victoria Junious ran track and cross country at the University of North Texas where she got her Bachelor of Science in kinesiology. When she is not in the clinic, she spends her time eating doughnuts, lifting heavy things up and setting them down at the gym, and writing.



Strength Training for Runners with Kevin Purvis
This is the second of a six-part series about strength training for runners with Kevin Purvis, a renowned strength coach based in Boulder, Colorado.

Continued: Understanding your base level of strength and mobility

By Brian Metzler

JR: How do recreational age-group athletes different from elite athletes from a strength training point of view?

KP: “For recreational or age-group runners who are typically working 40 hours a week, their strength training is less about the performance side and more about building a strong, structured base. That means unwinding everything else that goes on in their daily life in order to put them in position to handle the load of running.

If we’re talking about a professional runner, we want to make sure they have the basic health components in place, but we know they don’t have hours upon hours of sitting at a desk, for example. For them, it’s about finding what we can do to find that next 1 percent that might put them on the podium.”

JR: How can recreational or age-group athletes get the most out of strength training?

KP: “As I develop a program for an athlete, we start from a point of view that it has to fit into the schedule of their daily lives. I could write out what I think makes the most sense, but if two weeks into it that athlete says, ‘I just can’t get all of this done,’ it just won’t make sense or be practical.

So I start by asking how much time that person can dedicate to this process. I don’t want the perfect world scenario, I ask them for what will practically fit into their schedule. If that means on a Tuesday they only have 10 minutes of time, I will create a plan that includes 10 minutes of strength and mobility work for that day that I feel is important based on that movement screen. Also, I make sure to align with the athlete’s running coach to make sure where we put things in their schedule coincides with their run training and as they’re going into and out of races.

It should be part of a runner’s overall training, not considered ‘extra stuff’ that’s only done with a ‘if I can get to it’ mentality. But it has to fit within the overall philosophy of the running program. All programs and coaches are different, which is why I reach out to a runner’s coach so I can maximize whatever needs to be accomplished.”

JR: How often should a runner be doing some kind of strength and mobility work?

KP: That depends on a lot of things. If someone is a three-time-a-week runner and maybe just starting out, they might not need seven days a week of strength and mobility work. But if the runners is running six to seven days a week or training for a specific marathon in the fall with a time goal, we’ll want to ‘touch on the body’ almost every single day.

In other words, some kind of strength or mobility work every day, even if it’s brief. And the reason for that is that you need a strong platform to carry you through the rigors of a marathon training build-up.

There’s a common scenario that happens four to six weeks out from a marathon in which a lot of runners start talking about they’re hobbled from a sore hamstring issue that just started bothering them.

In most cases, it didn’t start then, it started at the beginning of their marathon build-up because of how they were moving and where their body started to break down as the training load increased. Those things can be understood from that initial assessment period and addressed before they become an issue late in your marathon training program.

JR: How long of a window should a runner or triathlete expect to do strength and mobility training before seeing results?

KP: “I generally look at the first two-week window as a jump-start to attack anything we found in the movement screen. Some people won’t touch any weights for traditional lifting exercises because we need to clean up and create a better base before we start to put more strength on top of that base.

From there, the body typically adapts in three-week windows, which is why very traditional approaches to linear periodization has three weeks of building followed by a fourth week of backing off slightly. So we might start building that way, depending on where that athlete is in their season or how close they are to their race.

But the more time we have, the better. Ideally, building a base level of strength during an offseason when there isn’t a buildup to a specific race can be very beneficial because that strength can later be then converted into useable strength for that individual’s specific goals for a race and even the specific aspects of the race course, for example, if it’s either hilly or flat.

We can’t just keep doing the same thing or build strength just to build strength. We can’t have a runner with a super strong dead lift and assume that dead life will benefit that marathoner in the last 5K to 10K of a marathon. So what we’ll do is change the techniques to get closer to mimicking the kind of stress they’ll have in a race.

So for a marathoner, we’ll develop some maximum strength early in the process with a range of 4 to 6 reps with a lot of weight and resistance, but once we start to get closer to a race, we’ll have them start to do some circuits that might have a 40 percent load much longer in duration. It’s less of a load but they’ll be doing the exercise for a lot longer.”

JR: What are some of the indicators of improved strength for a runner or triathlete?

KP: “Ultimately clean movement is what I’m looking for, or what I call ‘being more connected,’ in which there is good reciprocating energy and where the athlete isn’t leaking energy out all over the place.

That’s what I notice, but what the runner will sense is that they’re running faster even though they aren’t working any harder. And that’s the efficiency component that we’re looking for.

You might realize you’re not breaking down after your 10th 400 on the track or you might notice that you felt more solid throughout the entire duration of a tempo run. That’s a sign that you’ve got a stronger and more stable base or chassis so you can maximize your engine.”

JR: Why is strength and mobility work necessary to improve running form? Can’t a runner just focus on doing more drills?

KP: “Run form deviations don’t come out of nowhere. There’s always a reason for why something is happening. In a lot of cases, a runner will go through a run evaluation from a coach and will be prescribed a series of drills. But if the runner is experiencing a weakness or tightness or some bad motor skills that snuck into their running gait, it’s really hard to overcome that by simply doing drills.

For example, if you can’t get optimal hip extension on one side because you have a tight hip flexor and you’re overstriding on that side, it doesn’t matter how much you tell them to bring their foot strike back under their body, that leg is coming forward sooner because it’s getting caught sooner and doing drills might only accentuate what’s going wrong especially if the drill is only a repetitive process of improper movement.

And some of the bigger things that can cause an issue in a runner’s gait — for example a hip dropping out or a knee dropping in — are not getting corrected by doing a set of drills. I will still include run drills, but I think sometimes I think people get a little too carried away with trying to be perfect on run form before addressing things that can clean things up from a strength, mobility and stability side of the equation in the gym.”

Stay tuned for parts 3-6 of this Strength Training for Runners series with Kevin Purvis.



Strength Training for Runners with Kevin Purvis
This is the first of a six-part series about strength training for runners with Kevin Purvis, a renowned strength coach based in Boulder, Colorado.

Starting from Square One: Understanding your base level of strength and mobility

By Brian Metzler

Like a lot of runners, I am excited for races to return in 2021 and eager to start training.

Last year was the first one in a long, long time I didn’t pin on a race bib. I had planned to do an Ironman in St. George, Utah, and also run the Chicago Marathon, but both were canceled because of Covid-19.

I was still relatively fit throughout the year, but my training because a bit haphazard and less structured. No complaints about that because those bouts of training — even if it many were merely moments of casual exercise — helped get me through the malaise and uncertainty brought on the pandemic.

Now that I’ve started training again with an eye toward a fall half marathon and triathlon on my calendar, I realize that I’m long overdue for a tune-up. While have a high level of drive and I’m eager to get back to serious workouts, my body hasn’t been quite as responsive.

I’m still fairly fit and weigh about the same as I did when I completed my last Ironman and the Leadman series in 2018, I know I’m just not the athlete I need to be. I’m not broken down or injured, but I know I am not as functionally strong as I should be and also my running form seems to be a bit misaligned. Like most recreational athletes, I work a lot and my training can be sporadic, so I know it’s time to retool my physique.

Strength Training for Runners

For help rebuilding my strength, mobility and stability as a way to get back to being optimally fit on race day in the fall, I reached out to Kevin Purvis of KP Performance in Boulder, Colorado. He’s been a strength and movement coach for 22 years and has extensive experience working with endurance athletes, especially since relocating to Boulder in 2016.

In addition to training a wide range of recreational athletes, he also trains numerous high-level elite track athletes, trail runners, ultrarunners, triathletes and marathoners, including 2021 U.S. Olympic marathoner Jake Riley. Over the next few weeks Kevin will help give us advice pertaining to strength training for runners.

JackRabbit: First and foremost, why is proper strength training for runners or triathletes important?

Kevin Purvis: “It builds structural integrity or the ability to handle the load and not break down during a long training run, half marathon or marathon. Basically, once the big muscles in your legs, pelvis and lower back start to fatigue and break down, you’ll start to experience inefficiency in your form — especially if you haven’t done the work to get the smaller muscles strong so they can help stabilize your movements.

In essence, strength and mobility work is all about building the chassis of the car so it efficiently and effectively can handle the power that the engine produces.

First, we need to make sure we’re doing everything to maintain the foundation of a runner’s health and then we can focus on things that will improve performance. If I were to take an athlete and have them do performance-oriented exercises right away without having taken care of core strength and functional movement patterns, it doesn’t matter how strong we can get that athlete to be, they’re still likely to break down at some point.

In that case, all that is really doing is giving them more ability to hurt themselves because they can’t handle the increasing load of training. It’s like a car that is producing more and more horsepower on a bad chassis; it’s still going to break down eventually.”v

JR: Why is it important to do much more than just go out and run if you want to be a better runner?

KP: “At some point, you’ll squeeze out everything you can squeeze out of your pure run training based on the strength and stability you have. At some point, you can’t squeeze any more horsepower out of your body. But if we can create a strength base for a runner that can support their movements and handle the workout loads and appropriately build it up over time, what we’re doing is giving that runner a better platform so that their run training can continue to improve.

Even if you’ve been primarily doing only run training for 10 years and are still improving, you’ll need a stimulus that will help you advance from there. It’s really got to be appropriate for the athlete, but also the event or race their doing and for the timing or specific point of where they are in their race build-up.”

JR: How did you come to be such a renowned strength coach for endurance athletes?

KP: “I had grown up as an explosive sports athlete, playing football, baseball, a variety of court sports and body building. I didn’t get into endurance sports until I was 30. I started jogging and that turned into longer distances and running half marathons.

So for me, it was an entirely new set of challenges. I was already a trainer, but once I got into endurance sports myself, I started viewing it through that lens and started thinking, ‘What can I do to help myself be better? And ‘What can I do to prevent injuries?’

It was pretty easy to see some common injuries that would pop up for people and that started the process of backtracking to understand what was causing each of those problems. From there it snowballed and I realized I wanted to be solely involved with endurance sports and so I immersed myself in it and moved to Boulder, because there is such a big population of pros and age-groupers with a high level of commitment to their training.”

JR: How has strength training for runners evolved through the years?

KP: “What was pretty common for runners for a long time was that most weren’t doing a lot of strength work and few were doing appropriate strength work. Once it was agreed that they should be doing strength work, the typical scenario was that they picked up some exercises from a magazine article or a friend and they would include those in their process when they had time.

Originally, everyone took some old-school direction from general fitness concepts or body building and traditional lifting concepts and threw that into their week wherever they could. But then they wondered why it wasn’t helping them become a better runner. The problem with all of that was that the “why” behind it wasn’t really there and most of it wasn’t specifically helping runners improve. So my goal was to create a more cohesive process that is really catered to the movements of running but also to that specific athlete’s needs.”

JR: What is your approach with a recreational runner or triathlete who seeks your guidance?

KP: “My approach is to understand first and foremost what that athlete has done over the past six months or a year, how that worked, how they’re moving on the first day I see them and how that can be changed or improved as necessary. Every runner is different.

They’re built differently and they move differently. You could even have two runners who have the same marathon PR but one of them might need a lot of mobility work and the other might not need any mobility work but might need more strength and stability work. And another runner might just have really funky movement patterns that developed and you’ll need to clean that up as well, and that’s why it’s so important to treat each runner as the unique individuals they are.

“And to do that, I always start off with a movement screen evaluation of every runner I work with, and that can happen in person or, if the athlete is remote, it can happen by the runner videoing a series of movements I have them do. I take every runner through an evaluation that includes a series of movements and stances so we can understand what we need to work on based on how mobile they are and where weaknesses or imbalances might exist.

After that initial movement screen and evaluation, I develop an understanding of what that individual runner specifically needs in terms of strength and mobility and use it as a blueprint for what I prescribe for them to do. I think that if you don’t do something that specifically matches a runner’s needs, you’re just throwing somewhat random exercises into a process.”

Stay tuned for parts 2-6 of this Strength Training for Runners series with Kevin Purvis.



By now many of you have either received your COVID-19 vaccination or have started to get your appointment(s) planned.

That should bring a huge relief, relative to the coronavirus anxiousness of the past year, but that doesn’t mean you should jump right back into hard workouts right away. 

Daily running, trail running and triathlon training is important to all of us, but it’s important to take a few precautions relative to the timing of your vaccination shots, according to Boulder, Colorado, running coaches David Roche and Megan Roche, M.D. They recommend avoiding hard workouts, long runs and especially difficult training weeks just before and for three or four days after receiving a vaccination. 

Exercise post vaccine

The only real risk of exercising after a COVID-19 vaccine is that some of the side effects may reduce the quality of your workout and make it less enjoyable overall. There is no evidence that exercising right before or right after the vaccine would impact the effectiveness of the vaccine, says Dr. Humberto Choi, M.D., a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic who has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit. However, exercise could increase the intensity of some of the known side effects. 

While the side effects of the first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna shots have generally been reported as mild, those side effects have been more prevalent after the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Common side effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include pain, redness, and swelling on the arm where you got the shot as well as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.

“We also try to avoid having athletes do very hard workouts or long runs just before receiving the vaccine,” the Roches said in an article in Trail Runner on April 12. “And assuming no severe reactogenicity, we still try to avoid very hard workouts or races in the three full days after the first dose, and four full days after the second dose.”

They’ve also seen some of the athletes they coach return to normal training and express increased fatigue or soreness three to seven days after a vaccine dose. They believe that delayed response could be due to the interaction of the immune response with other life and training stresses and suggest taking more rest as needed.

Exercise post vaccine

Furthermore, the Roches reported they have also seen anecdotes of a minor amount of short-term changes to the menstrual cycle in some athletes, including increased premenstrual symptoms, shorter cycles, heavier cycles or missed cycles, but that could also be a random association. If you have any unusual symptoms, they recommend consulting your doctor. 

Keep in mind, that vaccinations take two or three weeks for full efficacy and you should still practice social distancing and wear a mask to avoid the chance of spreading the disease to others. Whether you feel well enough to run, bike or swim after your COVID-19 vaccine depends on which side effects, if any, you experience. 

As a rule of thumb, Dr. David Wyles, an infectious disease specialist at Denver Health recommends listening to your body. If, post-vaccination, you don’t feel well enough to exercise or just feel a little “blah” and don’t feel like it, take a rest day. Missing a track workout, long run, group run or even an online class might be a disappointment, but it will benefit you in the long run to rest or take it easier for a few days.

Depending on the type and intensity of your side effects, you may consider doing a gentler version of your standard workout. For instance, if your arm is achy but the rest of your body feels fine, you may modify an interval workout on the track to a more moderate fartlek run with fewer bouts of speed. If you have a 12-mile long run planned, consider cutting it in half and making up the mileage later in the month. If you have a strength session or a HIIT workout on your schedule, do a milder version or just put it off for a few days. 

If there is a bright spot to not having many races to run, it’s that it gives us plenty of time to take a break from our training. There will be plenty of time to get back to your hard training and racing.

Mike Wardian, an ultrarunner and marathoner from Arlington, Va., says he had a bit of nausea and fatigue after getting his second Moderna shot in early April, but that didn’t stop him from running a 17-mile run the same day. Still, most elite athletes have reported taking it easy to not risk any lingering fatigue.

Simon Grannetia, an elite-level distance runner training in Colorado for the 2021 Olympics, received the Pfizer vaccination shots in April and decided back off his training a bit and wait a week before his next hard workout on the track. He said he didn’t feel a thing after his first injection, but he had a sore arm at the point of the injection and a bit of fatigue after his second.

“I just ran easy and got more rest after my second shot,” Grannetia says. “I didn’t want to risk any disruption of my training so I figured a few extra days of moderate running and getting more rest and sleep would be good for me anyway and benefit me down the road.”  

JackRabbit Journal Training


8 Reasons to Hire a Running Coach - JackRabbit

Welcome to the JackRabbit Journal, a digital (for now!) publication where we’ll be taking some deeper dives into what it means to be a runner, how to support your running lifestyle and exclusive interviews with runners from all walks of life.

This week, let’s talk running coaches with our resident journalist, Brian Metzler.


Do you have a running coach?

You’re a runner, which means you’re an athlete. And it’s well-known that athletes in all sports benefit from having coaches guide them to better performance. So yes, if you’re a recreational runner of any ability level, you should consider hiring a running coach to assist you on your journey.

No matter how long you’ve been running or how fast you want to run at your next race, hiring a running coach can be a huge benefit on the way to achieving your 2021 goals. You might be a first-time marathoner or an experienced trail runner or someone who wants to improve your personal best in the half marathon.

In any of those cases, a running coach can provide you with assistance in ways you might not expect — for example, assigning proper workouts, avoiding injuries, reducing stress, providing day-to-day support and assuring your body is optimally recovering. 

We checked in with Kristen Mohror of Microcosm Coaching, Jason Fitzgerald of and Yassine Diboun of Wy’east Wolfpack for their input about some of the reasons you should consider hiring a running coach.


You might be a new runner or a novice runner and are wondering if any of this applies to you. Should you get a coach if you’re just starting out? You can certainly benefit immensely if you do and avoid first-timer mistakes and challenges. If you were new to golf or tennis or skiing, you’d very likely considering taking lessons to get started, right?

Think of a running coach in the same way and you’ll be able to get through some of the unforeseen challenges that no one talks about when you buy a pair of running shoes or sign up for a race. At the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve been running for years and have reached a plateau in your training or just haven’t reached the goals you have hoped to, then you should definitely connect with a coach for your upcoming running objectives.

Sometimes as runners we tend to get complacent or are adverse to making changes or are afraid to try new things. “And those are the things that might be able to make a difference in your training,” Diboun says.


Why hire a running coach? “Because a running coach can help you reach your goals better than you’re able to on your own,” Mohror says. “They can assist you and guide you with workouts, advice and things can come up.” Unless you’re a veteran runner who’s been training for years — and heck, even if you are — a running coach can help you smartly build your fitness, inspire you to train to your fullest, keep you motivated during difficult lulls and help you avoid overtraining. Y

ou might think training for a marathon is a tall order — and it is! — but having a coach guide you can take some of the pressure off, especially on a long-term basis. The guidance and training plan you get from a coach can help turn your long-term goal into short-term tasks that can be approached day by day, piece by piece.


Hiring an experienced running coach will allow you to benefit from his or her experience. Those coaches have been through all sorts of scenarios in their own training, but also with the many runners they have already coached. That coach understands they type of workouts and mileage you should be running in your fitness build-up and can adjust for your own personal needs as injuries, fatigue or work stress impedes your training.

Without a coach, you’ll likely do your own types of runs and workouts based on whatever you feel like doing or based on what your friends are doing or, gulp!, based on workouts you read about on your social media feed. “An experienced coach knows what works and how to adapt workouts to your personal fitness and abilities,” Fitzgerald says. “That’s so much more effective than a trial-and-error approach on your own.”


How much you spend per month and what you get out of the coach you hire depends on the level of service you want or need. Generally speaking you might pay as little as $20 and as much as $250 per month for a coach. (Or you can pay even more for truly personalized training if you have the budget for that.)

At the more affordable end of that spectrum, you’ll get training plans and coaching input that’s generally geared toward a group or a specific goal race (for example, the Chicago Marathon) in somewhat of a one-size-fits-all approach with a limited ability to reach out to that coach with questions. 

But if you’re paying slightly more every month, you should be able to get more individualized coaching that includes weekly adjustments and adaptations based on your fitness or fatigue levels and the ability to have direct interaction with that coach (even if it is by email). The best way to ensure you’ll get personalized coaching and some sort of individualized attention is to hire a coach in your region that has a training group you can run with on a semi-regular basis.

Having a coach watch you go through workouts and the ability to engage face-to-face can provide numerous benefits. Going with a local coach instead of an online coach shouldn’t necessarily increase the fees you’re paying.

HOKA Mach 4 Review


When you’re training for a big goal like a marathon, you sometimes need an extra bit of accountability to keep you focused and motivated. When you’re training on your own or even with friends, it can be relatively easy to inadvertently reduce hard workouts or shorten a long run without any recourse.

But when you hire a coach, you give yourself an extra layer of accountability. Sometimes it’s necessary to adapt workouts (and a coach can help you do that), but hiring a coach can create a certain pride and accountability tied to following a training plan.

It’s natural that sometimes you might wake up feeling unmotivated or perhaps you’re having a hard work day or traveling. “Having a coach to report to and a training plan to follow can help you get through those challenges,” Mohror says. “I tell all of my athletes, ‘I’m here to help, support and keep you going!’”


If your goal is to break 3 hours in the marathon or run a sub-40 minute 10K or qualify for the Boston Marathon, a running coach can help immensely, Mohror says. Not only can the coach provide a good training plan that provides both long-term and short-term development markers, but he or she should be able to guide you to a proper training vs recovery balance, she says.

Having a coach will keep you in check from working out too hard too often and overtraining with too much volume. But a running coach will also make sure you rest and recover so the proper training effect can take place. Your muscular, cardiovascular and neurological system adapt to training during rest when your body is recovering, Diboun says.

The continued stress of training without proper rest breaks will lead to overtraining, fatigue, illness and injury, he adds. “There’s a basic equation for growth, whether you’re an athlete, artist, or businessperson, etc., and that’s Stress + Rest = Growth,” he says. “I like to take on challenges and make myself uncomfortable (stress), and then follow those challenges with recovery & reflection (rest). Then rinse & repeat, with a slightly greater or different challenge or goal.”


As runners, we often keep on running despite small bouts of soreness or pain. While sometimes that’s OK, sometimes it’s not, Fitzgerald says. And when it’s not, it can lead to serious, long-term injury.

Having a coach to talk to about those bits of soreness or pain can be helpful to understand how to proceed. Should you keep running? Should you see a physical therapist? Are there additional things you can do — for example, icing, stretching, cross-training — to help keep a serious injury at bay? How do you know when and what to do? Those are all things your coach can advise you about to keep you as healthy as possible. 

Overuse injuries are common for runners but often they can be avoided or reduced in scope and intensity. A coach isn’t meant to be a doctor or medical professional, but their experience and understanding of running injuries can be a valuable resource, Mohror says. Sometimes it might just come down to taking more rest and seeing how your body reacts in a few days.

A good coach will sometimes have a better long-term perspective than an athlete because it’s not vexed by the eagerness to reach goals, she says. Avoiding those injuries and staying healthy is a key factor in the ability to make it through your training plan to the starting line of your goal race. “The ability to understand what a runner is going through during any given week is one of the key benefits of having a coach,” Fitzgerald says. 


Are you already nervous about the race that you just signed up for, even though it’s still months away? That’s normal, no matter if it’s a 10K, marathon or an ultramarathon like a 50-mile trail race, Diboun says. The ability to manage that stress and excitement is important as you start to train toward that goal, he says.

If you hire a coach who has a lot of races under his or her belt, you’ll be able to benefit from their personal experiences and reduce the stresses of race weekend. Getting tips and insights about tapering, rest, travel, nutrition and preparation will go a long way to achieving your racing success, Diboun says.

Even if you’ve been through the motions before and have run several half marathons or marathons, having a coach serve up those reminders can be a huge benefit. (The nerves and excitement of race weekend often cloud our thinking!) Most of all, having your coach help you develop a smart race strategy appropriate to your level of fitness and expected race-day conditions will be enormously helpful.


Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles. He has wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher. He occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.

He’s the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times. He was and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine.

As an author, he has penned “Kicksology“, “Running Colorado’s Front Range” and the co-author of “Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running” and “Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner.”

Brian Metzler - Les Alpes
Brian Metzler - Trail racing
Brian Metzler - trail running
Reviews Running Gear Training


Best shoes for marathon running

Brian Metzler rounds up the best of the best for your virtual race months.

There still aren’t many races in the U.S., but they’ll be back! However, you can still create your own opportunities to run fast on your own — either through virtual races, personal time trials or simulated race efforts with your running pals.

To run your fastest, you’ll need a lightweight, speedy pair of shoes. Here are five of the best shoes in a variety of price categories that will keep you on pace for fast times and inspiring new goals for 2021.

Hoka Carbon X 2 Review 2021


The HOKA Carbon X returns after the successful first edition won races and set records. It proved itself among the best of the initial crop of long-distance racing shoes built with carbon-fiber plates embedded in thick, cushy midsoles.

The Carbon X 2 is a maximally cushioned neutral-oriented speed shoe. It has a staunchly rocker profile and an energetic vibe that promotes fast-cadence running ready for race day and tempo runs ahead.

Read our full review of the Carbon X 2 here.

Weights: 8.5 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.4 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (39 mm heel, 34 mm forefoot)



A $100 running shoe? For racing a half marathon or marathon? Is that a mistake? Heck no! The Brooks Launch 8 is an energetic and well-cushioned shoe that also comes with an affordable price tag. With a relatively light and snappy demeanor, the Launch is somewhat of a unique ‘tweener. It falls between the category of performance trainers and the wide range of high-mileage trainers that are about a full ounce lighter. But if your race goals are modest or just want to complete a 10K, half marathon or marathon at your own goal pace, this can be an ideal shoe is for you.

Plus, it can also double as an affordable, do-everything trainer shoe that’s versatile enough to endure long runs and also quick enough to run faster, shorter workouts like tempo runs, fartlek runs and track intervals.

Weights: 9.2 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.5 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (26mm heel, 16mm forefoot)

HOKA Rincon 2 - Marathon


$115 While Hoka One One’s Carbon X is an exceptional long-distance racing shoe, we’ve chosen to focus on the fast and light Rincon model for this roundup of racing shoes instead.

Why? First, it’s a great shoe for running fast over all distances from 5K to the marathon. It’s also because it’s much more affordable too. The Rincon 2 is unfettered and fast, but it still has a lot of cushioning in every stride thanks to the full-compression EVA midsole.

The Rincon doesn’t feel like a stripped-down racing flat, but the soft, smooth and energetic demeanor allows it to perform like one when you want it to. It’s light and fast enough to be an energetic performance trainer for fast workouts. It also enough cushion and protection to be a long-run shoe or even an everyday trainer.

Weights: 7.7 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 6.8 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 5mm (men: 29mm heel, 24mm forefoot; women: 26mm heel, 21mm forefoot)

New Balance 860v8


$120: New Balance has several racing shoes with carbon-fiber plates embedded in their midsoles. But the 890 is the brand’s tried and true featherweight performance-oriented trainer/racer. It has always been known for its light, agile and very energetic vibe.

The New Balance 890 has been overhauled in recent years. It now includes a high-rebound FuelCell midsole, a supportive yet comfortable knit upper and a gusseted tongue for a snug, race-day fit. It has a semi-firm feel and a slightly lower to the ground geometry. This gives it excellent feel-for-the-ground proprioception and a lively feel in every stride. The 890 is fast, light, versatile and capable of taking you race-day goals. Even if your race is a virtual event or your own personal time trial!

Weights: 8.4 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.2 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm (25mm heel, 19mm forefoot)

Saucony Endorphin Pro - Men's Style


$200: The Saucony Endorphin Pro is a top-tier long-distance racing shoe. It features a carbon-fiber plate embedded in a soft, very resilient midsole foam. It debuted on the feet of Saucony pros at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in February in Atlanta, including women’s second-place finisher Molly Seidel. It represents the best of Saucony’s engineering and design efforts. It’s built on SpeedRoll technology, a forward-leaning geometry that propels you forward. It has a feeling of continuous momentum, so you can run faster and more efficiently without running harder. It feels light, firm, energetic, efficient and smooth, especially at faster speeds.

Weights: 7.5 oz. (men’s size 9.0); 6.3 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 8mm (35.5mm heel, 27.5mm forefoot)

Nike Tempo NEXT%


$200: The Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT% mixes durability with a design that helps push to a personal best. The result is a shoe built like a racer, but made for your everyday training routine.

Nike ZoomX foam in the footbed delivers energy return as you move forward. A visible Zoom Air unit provides responsive cushioning, giving you an additional spring with your stride.

The rubber outsole features a design created using data from hundreds of runners. That information helps place traction where your foot needs it most, giving you grip on multiple surfaces.

Weights: 9.8 ounces (men’s size 9.0); 7.9 oz. (women’s size 7.0)

Heel-Toe Offset: 10mm (46mm heel, 36mm forefoot)

maurten sports nutrition


Maurten sports fuel is easier to tolerate for athletes. The pioneering sports-fuel company has found a way to encapsulate high concentrations of carbohydrates in hydrogels.

Anyone who has experienced ‘gastric distress’ due to excess sugar in an endurance event will know nutrition is key to how a race will unfold.

Incidentally, the winners of the last twenty major marathons have all grabbed a Maurten bottle at on-course drinks stations. Think they might be on to something? With the mantra, never try anything new on race day, pick up some Maurten hydrogels and sports drink mix and give them a try during training.


Brands Reviews Training


Neutral and Stability Running Shoes


There’s been a tidal change in the running shoe world in recent years, with a major shift from stability running shoes designed to control your feet to shoes that let your feet move more naturally and uninhibitedly.

Statistically speaking, we’ve gone from 70 to 75 percent of runners wearing some kind of stability running shoe for training and racing less than 10 years ago to about 70 to 75 percent wearing neutral shoes in 2019.

Why such a drastic change? What is best for you? And how do you know how to find the right shoes for you?

Stability and Neutral Running Shoes


First things first: Whereas neutral shoes have no stabilizing features, but instead allow the foot to flex and move without any guidance, stability shoes and motion-control shoes are designed to help offset excessive pronation, or the inward rolling of a runner’s feet after impact with the ground.

Every runner naturally pronates to some degree and that’s OK, but excessive pronation can lead to common overuse injuries like Achilles tendinitis, shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome, and patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee).

While the minimalist revolution of the early 2000s led to many shoes with little or no cushioning or protection, it also cued shoe brands and their designers to build both neutral shoes and mild stability shoes with slightly fewer guidance features that are lighter, more nimble, and more flexible—ultimately shoes that allow feet to move more freely and naturally through the gait cycle.

The advent of mild stability shoes helped melt away the old-school belief about the need for rigid control in running shoes, and as a result, the motion control category — maximum support/stability shoes that greatly limit how a foot moves while running — has become almost non-existent and stability shoes have become less domineering to a runner’s stride. And generally speaking, those changes have been a good thing.

“For years, the running shoe industry was focused on building shoes that control how a foot moves and limit how a foot moves,” says physical therapist Jay Dicharry, MPT, director of the REP Lab in Bend, Oregon, and a leading biomechanist, running gait expert and shoe company consultant. “Fortunately, we’ve gotten away from that. The more we can stop using words like stopping and limiting and controlling when it comes to running shoes, the better off we’ll be. Wearing shoes that allow the feet to move and flex naturally is the best starting point for most runners.”

But, Dicharry says, some recreational runners do need more support in their shoes than others, either by way of mild stability shoes or neutral shoes with after-market insoles that offer enhanced stability. And, he says, most runners can benefit from a bit of stability in the later miles of a long run or a marathon when the muscles in the feet and lower legs fatigue and can’t continue to maintain good running form.

Saucony Guide - Stability


Some of the best mild stability shoes for runners include:

Brooks Glycerin 19 - Neutral Running Shoe


Some of the best neutral running shoes include the following:

Do you need a stability or neutral running shoe


So how do you know what’s best for you? And how can you find the right shoe for you?

Start by visiting your friendly neighborhood JackRabbit running store and work with an expert shoe-fitter to understand your gait. (Your running gait is the distinctive way your body moves as you run—especially between your feet and your hips. It’s entirely unique to you based on your anatomy, almost like a fingerprint of your running stride.) If that’s not an option, you might get help from a running-oriented physical therapist who can help decipher how your body moves.

“Everyone has their own individual running form,” says David Gettis, the store manager for JackRabbit’s Hoboken, N.J., store. “The best way to prescribe shoes for someone is to understand what their running gait is all about. Often we’ll perform a gait analysis to see what’s happening with a runner’s foot strike and what the degree of pronation of their foot is as it rolls through the gait cycle. If a runner is an overpronator, we generally try to put them into mild stability shoes to help offset that.”

You can also have a friend use a smartphone to video your stride while running, either on a flat surface or a treadmill and play it back in slow motion. When you’re watching the playback, look to see if your feet and knees are tracking straight ahead or excessively rotating inward (or rubbing) when you run. If there is noticeable inward rotation, you’re probably overpronating to some degree when you run and could benefit from stability shoes.

Other telltale signs of needing stability shoes include an excessive wear pattern on the inside (or medial) edge of the bottom of your current running shoes. If that side is considerably more worn than the outside (or lateral) edge, it’s probably a sign that you’re overpronating and need stability shoes.

Lastly, the age-old “wet test” can also be helpful, although not as decisive as it was once thought. Lay a clean piece of cardboard or kraft paper (from a grocery bag) flat on the ground and then wet your feet and step onto the paper and bend your knees and sink into a partially squat before stepping off.

This low-tech test will determine if you have a high, medium, or low arch and generally, but not always, people with lower arches need stability shoes.

Gifts for Runners Training


When you don’t want to run, switching up your routine with cross-training helps to keep you active. This year for the holidays, pivot and try different things when it’s too cold for a run or other outdoor sports.

For a wide selection of ideas for the essentials for cross training, we asked our UX Designer, Destini. She loves lifting weights and trying different things in her active lifestyle – from powerlifting to triathlon, she’s done it all.

Destini the Cross Trainer


If you’re going back to the gym this season, Most places are requiring a face covering. With my weight training wearing a mask was very difficult for me, especially during my lower-body days. Finally, I found a face-covering that didn’t tire me. 

My recommendation is the JackRabbit Bunny Chute ($15). It’s lightweight, breathable, and can wear in many ways. 

Bunny Shoot


In the winter, I love a transitional piece to be able to layer up and take off in the gym. When I leave the gym body is still hot from my work out, I prefer outerwear that’s not too heavy or too light. It’s soft, versatile, and great for the gym. I would recommend going to your local store because I found more colors and size options. 

My recommendation is Women’s Vuori Performace Hoodie ($90).

Cross Training Hoodie


No matter what you are doing, a good tank is great for any workout. I prefer a looser tank so I can maximize my range of motion during workouts.

My recommendation is Nike Yoga Luxe Tank ($45). It’s highly breathable with great iconic Nike material. 

Women's athletic tank


During quarantine, I kept up my strength training by using resistance bands and hiking outdoors. They are great for when I don’t want to get into the gym but still want to get a pump in. I found the Adday Resistance Bands in the store. 

My online recommendations are the JackRabbit Pro-Tec Resistance Band ($15) & Nike Resistance Band Light ($18).  Having these two sets allows you to perform various exercises at home or the gym. 

Exercise Bands


Often, I see people lifting weights in cushioned shoes. I can’t help but cringe. A flat base gives you more stability to push off of the ground when your performing squat, lunges, and deadlifts in particular. The largest barrier for someone getting flat shoes is comfort.

I find the Reebok Nano X ($130) to be a very well rounded cross-training shoe. It’s a cushioned flat sole training shoe that can transition from the gym, cross-training, and light running. I love using it for workout days when I am squatting, deadlifting, and doing overhead presses. 

Cross Training Reebok Nano X
Gifts for Runners Trail Running Training


If there is something all runners have in common, it’s that we could do a little better pre-, during- and post-run nutrition.

This year for the holidays, help yourself and the runner in your life stay on top of their nutrition game with these easy items.

Ultra-runner Laura knows a thing or two about the how prep, fuel and recover from a run. Ready on to learn her best nutrition offerings available at JackRabbit to fuel your next adventure.

laura cortez - fuel the run


There’s about a 50/50 split between runners who eat before every run and those who can’t fathom the thought.

Which camp do you lie in?

Picky Oats

Pre-run-food lovers

Eat now, thank us later. The Picky Oats Performance Oatmeal has some of the cleanest ingredients around and contains the perfect amount of carbs, sugar and protein to make every run just that much better. Plus, these are made with beets which studies have shown to potentially help running performance over a period of time.


I-refuse-to-eat-before runs, runners

If you don’t like stoopwafels, you probably just haven’t had one yet. These Honey Stinger Waffles are the perfect size for any stomach.

Trying to procrastinate your run? Pro tip: warm this sucker up over the stove or coffee.


Virtual raise of hands for those who eat during their runs. Hardly any? That’s what we thought.

After about 90 minutes your body becomes more or less depleted and needs additional sugars and energy to remain efficient.

Choose your nutrition below:

Gu Gel

Gels: For those who just want the nutrition to be over with. GU Energy Gels are a runner’s staple with the variety of flavors and calories to meet your needs. A JackRabbit fave flavor? Lemon Ginger GU

Honey Stinger Energy Chews

Snack: For those who want to take their time or maybe munch over a longer period of time, try these Honey Stinger Energy Chews. They’re like gushers but for running and minus the gel filling.


After running, there’s about an hour long recovery window to get the nutrients your body needs at a rate that is most effective.

Ideally, your body will be taking in carbs and proteins within an hour after your workout.

Cracker Bar

Snack: Try the Honey Stinger Organic Cracker Bar – packed with tons of flavor and organic ingredients, it’s the ideal pick-me-up.

Skratch Recovery Mix

Recovery drink: Get all the protein and carbs in one delicious drink. The Skratch Labs Sport Recovery Drink has been a go-to drink for us after long runs and hard workouts.


Consistent nutrition and hydration intake during the day is also essential to being at the top of your running game. UCAN has a great Hydrate Electrolyte Mix that’s easy to drink throughout the day.


Runners, we’re just scratching the surface here. There are myriad other ways to get your calories and your recovery on at JackRabbit. We’ve spent years mixing, chomping, chewing and digesting (yes, the latter is probably the most important of all) many different types of sports nutrition for all types of adventures.

Check out all the running nutrition options at our virtual ‘Nutrition Kitchen’ at

Injury Prevention / Health Clinics Pilates, Yoga & More Training


How yoga is beneficial for your runner’s feet

Most of us know the ancient practice of yoga has myriad benefits for the body, mind and spirit.  Add to that, yoga offers some serious perks for runners, like improving flexibility and helping with recovery from long runs.

Adding a simple yoga routine to your weekly training regime tailored specifically to the biomechanics of running and the stresses put on a runner’s body, can have beneficial impact.  The pluses are aiding recovery and prevention of strains and muscle fatigue in the long run.

Many runners (myself included) are quick to state the lack of time to fit in a yoga session to our already busy lives.  We’ve drawn upon the knowledge of JackRabbit team member and yoga instructor Vincent Gerbino, to share his tips on a few yoga poses any time-crunched athlete can fit into their day for maximum benefits.

This session, we focus on an area special to all runners – feet.  They support us and take much of the running load.  They can be prone to ailments such as plantar fasciitis, tightness and general aches and pains.

Read on to learn three key yoga poses for feet easy to incorporate into your day to keep your feet stretched and importantly build strength.


(and preventing plantar fasciitis)

Yoga Instructor, Vincent Gerbino

‘These are poses familiar to anyone who attends my yoga classes. A little yoga each day goes a long way in terms of strengthening your body and bringing you to amore blissful every-day state. You’ll need to be barefoot to reap true benefits of these poses, plus, doing so will help you have better connection and control on your feet when your running shoes are on.

It is best to use a yoga mat, mostly for safety’s sake and to get good grip to hold the positions for Fist Lunges and Fist Toes pose. Toes stands can be done wherever you have a stable & hard flat surface.’

Yoga for Runners - Lunge pose


Lunge Pose: Start with the lunge, at it activates the whole leg, from the hip socket down to the ankle and foot. Start out standing at the top of your mat (known in yoga as Mountain pose).

Drop the hands to the floor and stabilize them under your shoulders, bring your weight to your right foot and step your left foot straight back. Keep right knee directly above right ankle. Dig the ball of your left foot gently but firmly into the mat, so that you are pushing down behind the big toe.

Let the toes spread and push down behind each of the smaller toes. Hold the lunge for at least 20 seconds. Step back to the top of your mat and repeat the exercise on the other side.

Yoga for Runners - Fist Toes Pose


Fist Toes Pose:  Start out standing at the top of your mat. Drop the hands to the floor and stabilize them under your shoulders. Step left foot back and then the right foot to make a right angle with your legs and your torso (known in yoga as Downward Dog pose).

Feet should be hip-width apart and hands shoulder width apart. Flatten the back and align arms with the torso. Flip the feet and make fists with your toes; toe knuckles will dig down into the mat as the tops of the feet and fronts of the shin stretch.

This pose takes some getting used, to start with short intervals, not holding the pose for more than ten seconds. Repeat three or four times. At you get used to the mechanics of the pose, lengthen the intervals to 20 seconds.

Yoga for Runners - Toe Stands


Toe Stands: Toe stands can be done in stationary fashion, or you can also walk aroundSimply stand and then raise your heels off the ground.

Push down behind your big toe and let the toes spread enough so that you feel stable pressure behind each of the smaller toes as well, and don’t let the ankles roll in or out.

You can do longer stints for toe stands as this movement flows the pattern of normal plantar flexion, the motion we do when walking and running. You can walk around the house or hold the pose in one place. Make sure you remain connected to how the movement feels if you are walking around.