Saturday, April 18, 2015

How to PR by Run Technique: Series V

I hope you have enjoyed this series "How to PR by Run Technique". This Series V will teach us how head position, running tall, arm position, core, and the stride cycle all work together, and how to change our running mechanics.

All one unit. Now that we covered the basics of running form, an important take away is that everything unites to work together from head to toe as a single unit. All of these concepts combine and work together, creating a flow. Having one thing wrong in your form can cause a chain reaction throwing other necessary movements out of balance. What appears to be the problem may not be the problem at all. For example, if you notice a runner with an over-stride and tell them to just take shorter strides so their foot lands underneath them, that actually may not be the root cause. It could be the timing of their arm swing is off. A delayed arm swing or a hitch in one arm can cause a problem in the opposite leg for compensation. It's important to take the whole body into consideration when analyzing run technique and understand that running form is all synced together, acting as a single unit. 

Changing Mechanics. You have the information now to change your running form, but as you go out and execute your new knowledge, you'll probably notice it's not as easy as you thought.  It has personally taken me nearly two decades of running to get to where I am now.  This is where the actual coaching comes in. You could practice a bunch of drills that may help individual issues, but remember everything in running acts as single unit. Drills isolate the movement and the muscle recruitment is not the same as when running. It's best to practice your running form while actually running. To do this, cues are needed for the runner to connect the dots. For example,  if I said "Gaze 10 feet ahead of you, extend the hip back", etc. Like in swim training, you don't want to overwhelm the swimmer with too much information at once so you only recommend one or two cues at a time.  Every athlete is different based on their personalities and how they perceive and learn. Trial and error is used, as people understand cues in different ways. There has to be multiple ways of essentially saying the same thing and sometimes it takes several different paths for someone to learn a new technique and incorporate it into their normal running flow.  The ultimate goal is to have the improvement ingrained into the runners head so that providing cues is no longer necessary. Keep in mind there is a transition period from practice runs to race day experiences. On race day, we tend to resort back to our old habits due to stress. The benefit of having a  coach is to help you slowly transfer this over to where you can maintain good form on race day, consistently. The goal is to build the mechanics and techniques so that you, too, have elite running form.

If you have questions or an idea for another topic that would be of help to you, simply leave a comment. If you are interested in coaching, review my coaching page first then email me for an interview at

Thank you,


Thursday, April 16, 2015

How to PR by Run Technique: Series IV

In Series IV "How to PR by Run Technque", we will discuss the stride cycle and the controversial foot strike. 

Push-Off. In triathlon, it's emphasized to have quick turnover, especially coming off the bike. However, while this is true, we can't ignore the fact that the foot should take time for the initial loading of power to occur for push-off. The foot should land neutral with the ankle. This is when the loading should occur. Often times we over emphasize "quick feet" before the loading of power has occurred. One big mistake that is made is that we never let the heel touch the ground.  Doing so allows the achilles and calf to come to a full stretch to provide elastic energy to propel forward. If a runner tries to be too quick with their feet, the power is lost because the foot and Achilles were not fully engaged to release energy. In addition to the ankle extension, you have heard other runners and coaches tell you to lean forward.  This comes from a lean in the ankle and not at the waist or in other words, a slight lean from the ground.

Hip Extension.  Once your foot has contacted the ground, the emphasis should shift to the hip and you basically just want to think of it as moving the whole thigh backwards. The hips is where most the power comes from and not all of it is from the push-off phase. Think of the hip as your crank set: The faster you try to go the more powerful and quicker the the hip extension needs to be - similar to a set of bicycle cranks. Most runners, especially new runners, do not come close to a full force hip extension. It will take some time, but eventually you will learn how to do a proper hip extension while running at different paces. After the hip extension has occurred,  the recovery phase immediately starts and acts as a sling shot propelling you forward. If you try to force the recovery phase then your stride will slow.

Knee Drive is powerful and occurs at the end of the recovery phase. You will see many distance runners and triathletes with hardly any knee drive, and they lead out from the heel.  This results in some serious over striding where the foot is out in front of the body as seen in most recreational runners. The knee drive is extremely powerful for a sprinter (short distance/fast race) and is still required in distance running, just not as pronounced because it will cause you tire much sooner. Ideally, the the knee drive in distance running should become second nature so that it is a passive movement through the running cycle of the stride.  The ideal landing of the foot is under the center of the body and directly under the knee. This will put your foot into an optimal position with the best force production and reduced risk of injury.

Foot strike is one of the most controversial topics right now. Heel striking in particular gets a bad wrap.  It has led us from minimalist shoes to barefoot running (I've never seen a Kenyan turn down a pair of running shoes) and now back to those big Hoka's that look like moon shoes (I'm not hating, my wife has a pair). I'm going to share with you what I've gathered from my own research, observation, and understanding. Heel striking is OK! I'm sure I just caused excruciating pain to the ears of the barefoot and minimalism runners. Heel striking is ok as long as your form is nailed down to everything above.  But be sure you are not over striding and that your foot is landing underneath you in direct line with the knee.  In fact most elite runners will have a natural, light heel strike.


Distance runners should aim to land on the mid to forefoot, like in basketball (when the ball player jumps, the heels will land and the calves load to jump) you go back down to your heels for the push off (loading phase). All this happens rapidly and is hardly noticeable when everything is in motion at once. It would take a slo-mo cam to really see it all in action.

If you enjoyed this series so far on "How to PR by Run Techniqe", the closing message will teach us how all these tips I've given you is actually just one unit and how to change your running mechanics. If you have any questions please email me at  

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

IHL Longview Sprint Triathlon

Sunday, the next morning after the Tyler Run for Autism was the second round of racing at the IHL Longview Sprint Triathlon. Saturday after the half marathon was spent in "active recovery", weed eating the yard and elevating my legs a few minutes before bedtime. Running and up and down the hills on Grande Blvd. really beat me up.  I started my usual real slow "Kenyan style" warmup, my calves were  hurting the most. The slow warmup seemed to help loosen my calf muscles up somewhat.

I was 5th in line for the swim, and I knew where Tim and Eric were starting behind me. The first 25 meters I caught a cramp in my calf. Fortunately, I was able to flex my foot and it quickly went away and that was the only time it bothered me. I could tell I was carrying a lot of fatigue in the swim and I knew I wasn't swimming as well as I did in McKinney just a couple of weeks ago. 

Into T1 I was surpised how quick my legs moved through transition. I hopped on my bike and started chasing down our Cobb Mobb-er Rachel Olson (who would place 2nd overall without goggles or contacts and won Overall female the day before at the half-marathon). We left the Institute of Healthy Living and started the bike on Judson Rd. We took a sharp right on Judson Rd. There were no cones or motorcycle lead out to protect us from the traffic. I wasn't even sure if I was on course. I kept looking back at Rachel to see if I could figure out what she was thinking. Finally, I said to myself, "If your off course it's too late now, just focus and pedal hard until you know." 

A couple of miles later I approached an intersection and didn't see the officer until I got there he was sitting in his car, I'm not sure how he managed to control traffic. Rachel said she almost got hit. The bike course was a good one though. It was much hillier than I expected it to be even included some false flats, I had to keep my eyes out for the signs to make sure I stayed on course. Turning in on the other side of Judson Rd, the asphalt was rough. I hit the bump that I was warned about as there was no where to go. My water bottle popped out and I ran over it, almost going down but somehow stayed up right. I came off the bike with a total time of about 37 minutes. 

I knew needed to run about a 19 minute 5K to get the course record. Eric had closed some ground and Tim was still close. I knew I needed to push hard.  I didn't have quite the spring in my stride as I did at McKinney a couple of weeks ago, but my turnover was still fast and I came through the first mile under 5:40.  


The course was supposed to be a T. The first mile was just short of the first turn around and we headed towards what was supposed to be the next turn around. There was no sign or volunteer. The cones rounded the intersection making it seem like you were supposed to turn right. After that there were no cones, but like the bike course I wasn't surprised. I got to the bottom of the hill and kept looking back to see if Tim and Eric were following me.

 At the bottom of this hill is where we turned right on the bike course. There was a random arrow pointing left when running down towards it. I figured this might be it. I stood there for a little bit wondering if this was correct and crossed traffic.After taking a left down Judson road, there were no cones or volunteer around - I was for sure this wasn't it. I started walking back and Tim was running towards me. "I don't know where we're goin'", I said. He didn't either so we saw Eric had ran back up Judson Rd. towards the venue. I said, "Let's catch Eric so we can finish together."  

We caught Eric and let him know we would just finish together. None of us were too happy at this point. I told them, "I think we should have went back the other way," as this road has significant more hills than the other road heading back would have.  We jogged up Judson Rd. together, everyone was looking at us and thought we had a race going on but we crossed the finsh line together to keep it neutral at that point.  It was kind of dissappointing, because we had a great race going before the mishap. I knew I was under pace to break the course record with about a mile and a half to go and increasing the lead. About half the field would end up going the wrong way too. 

Despite this race turning out like it did, I still had a great follow up the day after the half marathon of what I know should have been a win and course record. The back to back weekend of racing served its purpose in my build up for my last two half irons for the year.

Praise to God for a great weekend of racing, despite the mishap. My Family! Cobb Mobb, Extremus, and Coach J for preparing me for a tough weekend.  Thank you to all the volunteers and support that did help! I really hope that the IHL Longview triathlon improves and carries on for another year.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to PR by Run Technique: Series III

Last time on How to PR by Run Technique we discussed head position and how to run tall. Today I will discuss your arm position and how to use your core while running.

Arms. You not only use your legs to run, but also your arms.  I don't know how many times I've seen runners not use their arms. You need your arms like you need your legs in swimming, to propel you forward.  Using your arms will significantly improve your running economy by reducing your torso rotation and the amount spent going side to side. When running for the best efficiency, keep your arms close and pump them up to mid-chest and then down so your thumb should graze just past your hip, alternating arms. Your arms should not cross the center of your chest as this will increase torso rotation and your elbows should go straight back not outward.  In doing so, you want to keep your shoulders and hands relaxed. However, your hands should not be so relaxed that they are flopping around - just keep them loosely stable.

Core.  The cool thing these days is core training. Most people think we're just talking about the abdominal muscles, but that is not true. The "core" covers a wide range of anatomy. I'll go on to say we have so many fancy core workouts, but we don't know how to actually apply our strong core to running, specifically. What good is having a strong core if you don't know how to use it?

In the movie "Without Limits",  Coach Bowerman pulls the world famous Steve Prefontaine aside during a track workout. We know that Coach Bowerman was a man of few words, but when had something to say he said it, especially if it involved running. Bowerman said to Pre, "Do you usually run with your butt sticking out like that? Stand up straight. You want a plumb line to run from your ear to your feet. Let your hips relax. That's how you were running.  Lift your knee. Now cock your hips under you". (Pre's confused look here). "Under you. Like in the deepest moment of penetration. Now lift your knee. It's easier when you tuck your pelvis in. Your not fighting your own body's mechanics. Makes you more efficient."

In 2004 Chi-Running became popular. Chi-Running was implemented by Danny Dreyer, a running coach and ultra-runner that placed a heavy emphasis on the core while running. Dreyer was taking Tai-Chi at the time and formed ideas of how to apply it to running. He even wrote several books on Chi-Running. "All of the Tai-Chi comes down to developing a strong core, but relaxing the moving parts. Those are the things that transfer to running. Most use their legs way too much and that's why most runners get injuries from their knees down. You can run more from your core and learn how to relax your legs."

1. Hip and butt out 2. Hip and butt tucked in. 

In these next tips on run form, we will cover the stride which will be broken down into three parts and the controversial footstrike. If you have any questions please email me at



Tyler Run for Autism

This past weekend with the Tyler Run for Autism half marathon and the IHL Longview triathlon was a plan in my build up for Challenge Knoxville Half Iron and the Legend Tri Kansas Half Iron as a 3 day block with an  almost 2 hour bike on the computrainer with steady intervals at 80-95% off my functional threshold power Friday morning. The ride wasn't that bad, but I felt in my legs not long later. We were simulating racing on some tired legs - that we accomplished 

My long time ETBU college buddy, Jeremy Bosco and I won a facebook contest sponsored by Complete Nutrition, that granted us access to the start line.  Apparently some people took my sarasm seriously when I posted on facebook, "I heard this is mostly flat and downhill, a lot of PR's for everyone." 

It was a chilly 50 degrees race morning, but perfect for racing with the sun out. Jeremy and I were one of the first runners to arrive and spent most of the time before the race hiding out inside the Church trying to stay warm. 

My main competition for the morning would be my fellow Cobb Mobb-er and Cobb Cycling co-worker, Seth Cooke. He's a legend in the multi-sport community and feels no pain. 

At the start I settled ahead of the front pack right from the start. Tyler Bicycle Club's Ryan Moore protected me on the Tyler roads and through the park to make sure I had a clear path and we had two motorcycle cops on Grande, that were rocking out and singing the whole way.  The run crossed Loop 323 and into the Rose Rudman Park. At the end of the park we took a left on  Grande, a 3+ mile stretch all the way to the Hwy. 110 and back. Grande Blvd. is known for it's hills.  This stretch seemed to go on forever. There isn't a flat section on Grande. Once going up hill, I pushed Ryan when he was on his bike. He said, "Am I not going fast enough for ya?" I said, "No you're fine, I'm just messin' with ya." 

I cruised through the first mile in 5:49 and I was talking to comfortably to Ryan. This was the same pace average I ran at the Fresh 15k and this felt way easier.  Knowing I was racing the Longview triathlon the next day, I held back a lot.  The rest of the race I was around a 6:00-6:10 pace, with a couple other miles in the 5:47 range. 

During the race, Ryan would let me know how far back Seth was. Ryan once told me that Seth was gaining on me and I said, "That's ok I got something special for him." At the half way point, Seth was faking his form with his head rolling and body rotating, it appeared to me like he was digging deep and gaining on me rather quickly so I dropped the pace back down to just under 6 minutes for the next mile. We got back into the park and at mile 11 not sure if Seth was making a run for me or not, I dropped it down to a 5:20 pace for a half-mile to add some distance between us. Mile 13 was my slowest mile in 6:19, I was starting to calm down and get some energy ready for the finish, my finishing kick was 5:16 pace at the end with a finishing time of 1:19.06. Nothing super fast, I was running just fast enough to win and hopefully have something something left for the Longview triathlon. I should have went for a PR if I had known how my legs were going to feel anyways. 

Seth is a great competitor and sport. He ramping up for Ironman Texas with plans of qualifying for Kona a second time. He PR'd by 7 seconds on a hard course. 

My parents from Carthage woke up early and made a trip in to see to visit. 

The Cobb Mobb locals swept the men's podium and Rachel won overall female with a PR. 

Glory to God for the a great race and win! Thank you to my family, Cobb Mobb, Extremus, and Coach Jeremy for getting me fast again. Also to Complete Nutrition in Tyler for the entry, all the amazing support and time from the volunteers that made the race extremely successful. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to PR by Run Technique: Series II

Today on "How to PR by Run Technique" we will cover head position and how to run tall.  

Head Position is important like in swimming; You want to have a neutral spine. Your head should be neutral as if you were on a stage looking out into the crowd.  Will this make you a faster runner? The short answer is yes! You will be one hecukva rock star runner! By practicing this neutral spine position, it will allow you to relax your upper body more freeing up energy and putting it into your forward propulsion.  You often hear coaches say, "Keep your head up"! Not only is that a positive reinforcement statement but you should keep your eyes on the person in front of you....unless you're out front.  Work on keeping your gaze approximately 10 feet in front of you like in cycling because where your eyes look,  your body follows. If you run with your head sticking out forward, you will lean too far forward bending from the hip.  This will fatigue you, sooner than later. By keeping your head in a that neutral position, you will feel more relaxed, allowing you to maintain a faster pace for longer. 

Take note of Haile Gebreselassie head position, great runner from Ethiopia. 

Running "Tall".  Did you ever hear your coach yell at you to "run tall" and wonder what the heck they were talking about? I did. It's a highly common phrase in high school and college distance running.  Once you figure out how to "run tall", this will clear up most issues in your form.  From early on in school to adulthood, we spent a lot of time hunched over our desks, further emphasizing our bad posture.  In running, your head should be in it's neutral position, your shoulders balanced over the hips, and your hips over the legs. This is considered "running tall".   Even if you do not fully understand just yet, you can start thinking "running tall" and you'll be surprised by how much your form will improve. It will create less stress on your body. When we get tired, our running form starts to slouch, runners start losing the neutral position with their head, rotating in circles or moving it way forward causing neck and shoulder pain. It's important to keep your spine in line with your pelvis.  In short, running tall will once again improve running economy allowing you to run a faster pace for longer.

Next on "How to PR by Run Technique"  we will discuss arm position and how to use your core while runing. If you have any questions please email me at

Thank you,


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How to PR by Run Technique: Series I

You plod a long on what seems like an empty running trail only to be zipped by one of those elite runners whose feet barely touch the ground.  You wonder, "what gives?" You really want to learn how to run, and run fast!   "How come I can't do that?".  The truth is you can! With some body awareness, strength training, and the appropriate amount of prescribed training, you will gradually learn over time.

Garrett Mayeaux - Texas A&M University Triathlete and Ritter's coached athlete. 800 meter repeats off the bike holding 2:35's. 

Triathletes emphasize their run very little when compared to their swim technique or their bike fitting to find their optimal position.  Not to downplay the importance of these, but run technique is equally important, if you want to finish like a champ. Having fantastic run technique can be beneficial by improving your run efficiency, making it easier to run at a faster pace for longer and reducing your risk of injury.

Over the next several days I will discuss a few key points that will help improve your run technique. Feel free to email me at for any questions


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

PlayTri Kiwanis McKinney Sprint Triathlon

Life has been a bit  hectic here recently with the purchase of a new house and getting ready to move, racing plans were derailed somewhat.  However, not to worry it's really worth it to finally settle down on a house me and my Wife both really liked.

We looked for a race after the move that I could use to knock off the old swim/bike/run rust collectively on tired legs, and Play Tri's McKinney Sprint triathlon was the best option for that. I was able to drive up the morning of the event, by waking up at 3:30am and out the door by 4:00 a.m. and on the road.  I finally made it to McKinney High School and thinking this was a low key race, the parking lot was packed.

The day before training consisted of 2:30 bike with tabata (these suck) and tempo intervals and 30 minute run off the bike which came out to be a 6:45 pace when I focused on easy running with really good technique. Followed that up teaching a small swim clinic and yard work the rest of the day, by the time I laid down for the night I was whooped -- not to mention the strength training and swim set (Fast Friday) on Friday.  

There was a lot up and coming up teenagers at this race with Play Tri's and Tri 4 Him's High Performance  Youth, let's just say there were several fast swimmers here. I also noticed a few guys staring me down, either they knew me or it was the beard throwing them off - not sure which. I proceeded with my slow 10 min/mile warmup, then I headed to the pool for a quick swim warmup, thinking the pool was going to be cold, it was not. The pool was on the side hot tub temperatures, it was smokin' hot. This can't be good, I thought. 

The Swim. We lined up around the pool in our numerical order. I was number 2. I told a teenager behind me, you look fast, why don't you get in front of me because I'm nice like that. There is a technique to jumping in the pool feet first without sinking too much and I nailed it! It's like a cross between jumping in feet first and a belly flop. I had one of my fastest pool swims a 4:22 (includes getting out and nearly running  and nearly slipping across the timing mat), and as hot as the pool was, probably mid 90 degrees, I'll take that.  I ranked 14th out of the swim, and that's mostly from all the fast youth, the rising stars of the near future.  

The Bike.  This course was a fun one, immediately right out I get on the wrong side of the road, instead of turning around I kept riding up and took the next cross over but had to squeeze in the barricades besides that the bike course had a few rollers and curves. One curve  snuck up on me so bad I had to hit my brakes and I skidded off the road into someones driveway, maintaining and upright position, I was stuck in a hard gear and had to get going again uphill I might add. Other than I coud tell the mountain biking over the winter helped my handling and I was able to ride aggressive through most of the turns. I had been out front the whole way following the police officer on his motorcycle and close  to the end of the course  with less than 10 minutes to go I look back and see someone riding up on me, and here I thought I was rock'n and rollin'. He came up and surprised me when I realized it was a small teenager. I stuck behind him - in a legal distance not to lose any more time and kept him close not knowing how he could run. This kid (Jon McAlister) was flying, he averaged 25.5 mph while only pushing 222 watts for his size.  I've been struggling for years to get my bike mojo back, probably since early 2012. I think I finally got it back and was happy with the way I rode with my 24.8 mph split, despite Jon out splitting me by a large margin and just missing the 25 mph split with my those two technical errors.  I felt really strong the whole bike! Jeremy had a me on a huge bike focus the whole month of February and it's paid off as we've transitioned into some higher intensity.  In addition, since I'm on the Cobb Mobb National team and also work Cobb Cycling now as we are one of the industry's leading components in saddles and cranks, with a bike fit with Mr. John Cobb, and using 165 short cranks with a 54T Q-Ring which the shorter cranks can really help you run faster off the bike, the Q-Ring helps with efficiency and my gear ratio, the Plus 2 saddle for comfort,  and a low profile top cap over my headset.

The Run: I've had a sore knee all last year since January 2014, so at the end of the season I took all of November and December off from running to hopefully let it heal. I only ran one day a week in January and just a few easy days in February with low mileage stuff. We are just now really starting to get into running more as we head into the last months of my triathlon season this year. Riding a few meters behind Jon coming into transition, I head out onto the run, not really knowing his running abilities and not really knowing mine either, I was able to find my running legs quicky and put the hammer down and caught him within a half-mile. However, just catching him would still have him in the lead as he started a few spots back I would need to finish 1 min and 22 seconds ahead of him to win - so I continued to press on, I probably looked back more than I should to see where he was as at. I used a few mental run tricks to keep pressing the pace, as many times I wanted to relax but I had to keep telling myself I would cut it too close if I did that. I tried surging on the turns with 20 hard foot strikes with my left foot, but I found it difficult to switch gears as I was already at my top end in speed. This course was awesome, lots of turns and a few steep hills to keep things interesting as it went through a city park and around some residential as I followed this guy on a gator. Surprisingly, I ended up running my fastest pace for a sprint triathlon on not much run training a 5:23 pace/per mile for 17:14, 3.2 miles. That means what we are doing outside and some inside of running is working! Any run PR for me is hard to come by, I guess I'm not passed my prime for speed, I'm aging like a fine bottle of wine. It's got me curious what I could really run in a stand-alone 5k. I finished with a total time of 54:20.

Hanging out with Jon McAlister, the one of Texas' rising stars in triathlon - a super nice guy! 

The lone podium - only 1st overall awards 

Glory to God for the win! A big thank you to my family - My Wife Calley & Rylan, and my parents who believe in me. My Coach Jeremy at Mind Right Multisport for the coaching. My swim partners Seth and Rachel. Team Extremus and Cobb Mobb  , Fresh Racing, East Texas Triathletes,a and Tyler Bicycle Club for all the support.

My favorite part after the race was passing out all the finisher medals for the kids race 15 and under,there were some close finishes and it was really thrilling to see the kids lay it on the line with a sprint finish. I tried to get a photo of this kid that was nearly passed out laying on the ground (resembled me after St. Patrick's Tri 2013 after chasing down Korey Sessions), I laid his medal on his chest.)  This was fun seeing all the kids put their best effort out there.

The best part of the race.  Please ignore the beard, my criminal record is clean.  

Thanks for reading!