Tip of the Week: Warm Up and Cool Down

To maximize performance and help prevent injuries it is critical that we prepare our bodies for the sport of running with an adequate warm up. Running is a dynamic, high impact activity. Although it may appear that when running we are only moving in one plane of motion (forward), internally, our joints, bones, muscles, tendons and fascia are actually moving in all three planes of motion (sagittal- forward/backward, frontal- side to side and transverse- rotation). That being said, it only makes sense that before we hit the road, we complete a warm up that looks and feels like running.

Here is a recommended warm up (video linked here):
– Common Lunge Matrix Stretch (a three-dimensional activity that focuses on the three key movement areas of the body: foot/ankle, hips and thoracic spine [trunk]).
– Running Drills (will not only get the body ready for running but are a great way to improve running form, cadence and foot strike).
– Strides (fast running that can be completed before, during or after a run depending on the workout).

Equally important to the warm up is the cool down. The cool down is the start of the recovery process. The focus here will be on completing three-dimensional exercises that will help improve flexibility, mobility and stability. It is also beneficial to complete exercises that will assist in the “calming” down of the sympathetic nervous system (think yoga).

Here is a recommended cool down (video linked here):
– Common Lunge Matrix Stretch (recommended to hold stretches slightly longer for cool down; 5-10 seconds).
– Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
– Restorative Poses (Runner’s Lunge and Child’s Pose with thoracic rotation – see video for more details).

Tip of the Week: Cross Training

See below for the Team for Kids training tip of the week!

What exactly is cross training?
Cross training is any form of exercise outside of running. It’s that simple. This may include some of the more common forms of exercise such as swimming, cycling, elliptical trainer, deep-water running, weight training, yoga, Pilates and stretching. As you can see, cross training involves not only other forms of cardiovascular exercise, such as cycling, but also includes those exercises responsible for improving our overall strength (weight training) and flexibility (yoga, Pilates and stretching).

Why do we cross train?
Simply put, we cross train to avoid injury and to enhance our overall performance.  Cross training allows us to add volume and frequency to our training, in a safe and effective manner. Running is a high impact exercise that involves repetitive motion over a long period of time.  When running at a constant speed our bodies will operate through a specific range of motion, and over time, as with other forms of repetitive motion, our bodies may be susceptible to injury.  By implementing other forms of cardiovascular exercise we can improve our strength, flexibility, and endurance without the added stress of running alone.

Who should cross train?
Everyone should cross train, especially those who are new to the sport of running or who may have a history of injury.  The most common mistake associated with marathon training is OVER TRAINING (doing TOO much TOO soon or running TOO fast or TOO hard all the time).  Listen to your bodies and stick to the schedule that is best suited for you and your current fitness level.  Be sure to make your scheduled “strength” training sessions a priority (2x/week). Instead of adding an extra day of running to your schedule, you can choose one or two of the activities mentioned above to supplement your training program.  If you are sore or potentially injured, error on the side of conservative and chose a pain free activity instead of running (just for the record, studies show that “cycling” is the best substitute for runners, but you need to focus on a high cadence (90-95 RPM’s) to replicate the fast turnover we use while we run.

Bottom line, just because you are training for a marathon or half marathon does not mean you have to forego all the other activities that you enjoy.  Keep that in mind throughout the season.

Tip of the Week: Top 10 Race Day Tips

  1. Pack for any out of town travel. If you are traveling to Brooklyn from out of town, make sure to pack all your race day gear in your carry on bag (running shoes, TFK singlet, shorts, socks, etc.).
  2. Pick up your race materials! Don’t forget to pick up your race packet at the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Pre-Party Presented by New Balance. Remember to bring a photo ID and your unique QR code (either printed with your confirmation card or on the NYRR mobile app). Team for Kids runners will pick up their bibs at the Team for Kids bib pickup counter, not the general bib counters as other runners will be doing. After you get your bib, you can visit the Team for Kids booth to ask our staff and coaches your last minute questions and purchase gear!
  3. Decorate your race shirt. Put your name on the front and back of your race-day shirt so people along the course can cheer you on. It really helps during those later miles!
  4. Dress in layers. Pack throw-away clothing for race morning to keep you warm & dry (hat, gloves, sweat shirt and pants, etc.). Clothing you shed on the course will be collected and donated.
  5. Prepare your nutrition. Prepare your pre-race and race-day nutrition ahead of time. Stick to what you practiced during your long runs. Always have extra, just in case.
  6. Remember your race planYou’ve trained hard for this: remember your plan and the best strategies to achieve your race day goal. As a reminder, TFK coaches will be on the course if you need support.
  7. Start slow. Do NOT go out too fast! Trust your training and your race plan to avoid fatigue or injury in later miles.
  8. Stick with what you know. Don’t try anything new on race day – whether it’s nutrition, clothes, gear. Remember #6. 🙂
  9. Remember your mantra. Remember a motto that works best for you for the later miles (i.e. “Feet fast, legs strong, I can do this all day long!”).
  10. Remember the mission. If times get tough during your race, think of the number one reason why you are doing this: to support more than 215,000 students across the nation with free NYRR youth running programs, events, and resources! All of them, and all of us at Team NYRR, are cheering you on!

Tip of the Week: What’s Your Race Plan?

After several months of training the time has come for you to determine just how long is it going to take you to run the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon. Whether your goal is to win or to simply finish the race on the same day you started, EVERYONE needs a race plan, regardless of pace or goals. It is extremely important that you look back at your training and be honest with yourself before choosing an arbitrary finish time based on how you thought or wanted your training to go. Pick a goal that is realistic and best reflects your current fitness level. Here are two options that you can utilize regardless of your experience or specific time goals.

Race Plan Options:
Option 1: EASY- That’s right, run the same EASY pace that you have been running every Saturday for the past few months. This is a great plan for first timers, or for those whose training didn’t go as well as expected. This pace is your comfort zone, you know it so well you can do it in your sleep. Treat race day like any other Saturday: a conversational paced run through the streets of Manhattan. This will ensure you achieve your ultimate goal: FINISH!!!

Option 2: Personal Record (PR)- You are an experienced runner, you started this season with a certain goal in mind and you are not going to let anything or anyone stand in your way on race day. Your training was flawless, and you have only one thing on your mind: PR! This option is perfect for those who have specific time goals.

Pacing Strategy:
Regardless of which race approach you choose, consistent pacing from start to finish is key. Instead of viewing the half marathon as 13.1 miles, let’s further simplify things and divide your race into three phases:

1) Phase 1- The Warm-Up: Consider miles 1-5 as your warm-up. Your goals during phase 1 are to establish your pace and, most importantly, make sure you DON’T go out too fast (the #1 mistake of the endurance athlete). During this phase it is recommended that you add a MINIMUM of 10 seconds/mile to your goal pace regardless if you choose option 1 or 2.

2) Phase 2- The Race: This is where your race begins. Your focus during miles 6-10 is goal pace. Your body is adequately warmed up, and it’s time to start thinking about that PR.

3) Phase 3- The Finish: It is at this point of the race that you want to run completely by feel. If you are feeling good and your race has gone as planned, you will find yourself running slightly faster than goal pace. There is no reason to hold back now. Go for it as you gradually increase the pace over the last 3.1 miles.

To help clarify the above, here is an example of a pacing plan:

Half Marathon Goal: 1:45 (8:01 pace/mile)

Miles 1-5:  8:11 pace (8:01-8:21)

To avoid going out too fast, add 10 seconds to your goal pace to determine your pace for the first 5 miles. Utilize  a +/- 10 second window to your goal time to ensure consistent pacing (8:01-8:11-8:21). Since the first 5 miles are considered your “warm-up,” it is more than ok if a few of your early miles are actually slower than 8:21/mile (i.e. crowds at the starting line, a much needed porta-potty stop, etc.).

Miles 6-10:  8:01 pace (7:51-8:11)

This is where the race begins and where you begin to focus on your goal half marathon pace (i.e. 8:01). Once again, utilize the +/- 10 second pacing window (7:51-8:01-8:11) to ensure consistent pacing from miles 6-10.

Miles 11-13.1
Run the last 3.1 miles (5K) completely by feel. If you are feeling good, gradually increase your pace over the last 3 miles. If everything goes according to plan, you will find yourself running slightly faster than goal pace during this phase.

+/- 10 second window? Why?  Well, the goal is consistent pacing throughout your race. It is nearly impossible to hit the same pace/mile for 13.1 miles. If you can stay within 10 seconds of your goal pace you are doing great job of being consistent. The more consistent you are with your effort level (i.e heart rate, respiration rate, etc.) the less energy you will waste and the better you will feel throughout your race.

TFK Alumni Training


New York Road Runners Team for Kids is thrilled to offer this free opportunity for our alumni to continue running with us. See details below to join us for our Thursday night TFK alumni weekly group run!

TFK Alumni Speed Series
Every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
NYRR RUNCENTER Featuring the New Balance Run Hub

Stay fit, have fun and build speed and strength with Team for Kids! Coaches Asteria, Sid and Glen will alternate leading standalone speed workouts on Thursday nights for TFK alumni separate from other TFK event practices and training schedules. These workouts are not event specific and will positively benefit any runner training for all race distances, especially those planning a full or half-marathon. Interested runners should meet at 6:15 p.m. on Thursdays at the Run Center: lockers are available to store bags. Please note, unlike Open Run, this opportunity is exclusively for TFK alumni. Remember to check TFK social media for practice cancellations due to weather.

* Waiver: If you plan to participate in the TFK Alumni Speed Series, please complete the waiver linked here http://bit.ly/TFKWaiver

We look forward to staying connected and continuing to run with our alumni at these exciting sessions! If you have any questions, please contact us at teamforkids@nyrr.org.

Tip of the Week: Hydration

It’s pretty much common knowledge that it’s important to drink water, and you now know, drinking water regularly becomes even more important when training for a marathon.  60-70% of our bodies are made up of water.  Water is extremely important for your body’s functioning:  it feeds your cells, helps you digest and metabolize food, as well as regulates your blood volume and blood pressure.  In order to keep your body running well and efficiently, you have to replenish the water that you lose through sweat, urine, respiration (breathing) and avoid dehydration, which can significantly affect a runner’s performance.

How do you know if you’re dehydrated?  Common signs include thirst, dry mouth, headache, feeling lightheaded, and dark-colored urine.  Signs of severe dehydration can include cramps, chills, and even disorientation.  So, what is the best way to prevent dehydration?  Easy- drink fluids.   Drink them before, during, and after exercise.

How much should you drink?  First, of course, you should be drinking water throughout the day.  A good rule of thumb, drink your body weight x .6 (in ounces) on a daily basis.  To hydrate before your run, make sure you drink 8 to 16 oz of water 1 to 2 hours before a run (or at least try 6 to 8 oz 15-30 minutes before your run).  However, during your long runs, you should also be replenishing the water that you’re losing – about 6 to 8 oz of fluid every 20 minutes during a long run.  But most importantly, drink when you’re thirsty!  Your body is well-tuned to regulate itself, and if you just drink when you’re thirsty, you can avoid underhydrating (leading to dehydration) and overhydrating (hyponatremia). We highly recommend that you carry your own water during your long runs so you don’t have to rely on water fountains, etc. while running. A few great options include water bottles, hydration belts, and Camelbaks. (PLEASE NOTE: Some marathons, including the TCS New York City Marathon, do not allow Camelbaks on race day due to security restrictions. Please check the event code of conduct for your race).


An important component of staying hydrated is making sure that you are keeping your electrolytes in balance.  Electrolytes are minerals in your body fluids and blood that contain things like salt and potassium.  They directly affect the amount of fluids in your body, and you lose them when you sweat.  When your electrolytes (salt) fall out of balance during long runs, you run into problems like dehydration and possibly muscle cramping (the jury is still out on this).  So, when you run longer than 90 minutes, you should make sure that you are replacing these electrolytes.  There are a couple of ways that you can do this.

1- Electrolyte replacement drinks.  These are things like Powerade and similar sports drinks.  These drinks are best while you are running, but not so good if you’re just sitting around the house.  They have a high glycemic index (lots of sugar), and your body will use it immediately – which is GREAT when you’re running, but not so great when sedentary.  Coconut water, nature’s sports drink, also has electrolyte replenishment capabilities without the sugar rush – which is great for pre- and post-run electrolytes. Here’s an alternative to sports drinks that you can utilize when you are not exercising:
16oz of water
1/8tbsp of Celtic Sea Salt (NOT table salt)
Squeeze a little lemon, lime, orange, mint, etc. for flavor. Enjoy.

2- Salt.  If you notice that you are a “salty sweater” – namely that your face, hat, clothes are grimy with salt when you complete your run, even when you are drinking sports drinks during your run, you should think about taking in additional salt.  Every hour or so, take in the contents of your garden-variety salt packet.  Make sure that you carry your salt packets in a little plastic baggie.  Otherwise, your sweat will disintegrate the packets.  If you find that you are still leaving a salt trail behind you after your long runs, try taking a packet every 45 minutes.  You can also use electrolyte replacement (salt pills) such as Salt Stick… take approximately 1 pill an hour (dependent on body size and sweat production, how much salt you lose- “Salty Sweater”).