Tips from Experienced Runners

When you’re trying to master a new skill sometimes it’s best to talk to someone who’s been there-done that. That’s the case for our novice runners Erin Mayer and Josh Thomas in this week’s Getting in Gear. After a morning run, Mayer and Thomas met for coffee with some of the members of the FSR (Faster. Stronger. Runner) training group. The group includes people training for everything from a 5K to the full marathon. They shared tips and tricks that they’ve learned over the years. The conversation was long and random, covering everything from bathroom breaks to why you shouldn’t talk about running while you’re running. Join their conversation by watching the attached video. Also, feel free to leave comments and questions on the Getting in Gear blog.


10 Random Tips from Experienced Runners


1. Set small goals for yourself. Even if it’s just “I’ll run to the next stop sign,” that’s fine. Anything that will give you tiny victories along the way.


2. Log what you do. Write it down. Make yourself accountable. When you see your running log weeks later, it’s hard not to feel some sense of accomplishment.


3. Don’t wear brand new shoes or clothes for race day. Make sure to wear your race day outfit a few times before race day, so you’ll know whether it will cause irritation. Same for shoes.


4. Find out what sports drinks or energy snacks they’ll be serving on race day and consume them during training. That way your body will be used to them.


5. When running with friends, don’t talk about running. It will make you too aware of your running. Instead talk about your favorite movie, book, or TV show. It’ll make the miles fly.


6. Pick up your race packet the day before the race if at all possible. Get your bib and crinkle it up. (But be careful not to hurt the timing chip placed inside the bib). Crisp bibs pinned on a shirt catch the wind and slow you down.


7. Prep your race bag and anything you’re bringing to the race the night before the run. That helps you from feeling frazzled in the morning. You can grab it and go.


8. Try not to pass anyone the first mile. Concentrate on a slow and steady start.


9. Accentuate the positive. When you find self-doubt and criticism creeping in as you run, stop it in it’s tracks. Think something positive instead. Pat yourself on the back for what you have already accomplished.


10. And finally, use the bathroom before you run.


Next week: A week to go before your race – how to taper effectively.

Fargo Marathon: the biggest mistake you can make one month out

In just about a month, thousands of people will gather on the Main Avenue Bridge to take part in Fargo Marathon races. It’s a thought that sends some people into a white, hot panic. They might have set a goal months ago to run in the 10K, Half-Marathon, or Marathon but as we get closer to race day, they worry they won’t measure up.


“People make the mistake of thinking that they haven’t trained hard enough. So they try to recapture those lost miles by going hard the next four weeks and that’s not a good idea,” says Mark Knutson, executive director of the Fargo Marathon.


In this week’s video, Knutson tells “Getting in Gear” Runners Erin Mayer and Josh Thomas the final month before a race is absolutely the most critical. He says instead of ramping up, runners should start thinking about tapering down their training. He says miles run during training will peak around three weeks from race day, then slowly decrease from there.


For example, Josh Thomas’ Half-Marathon training plan calls for him to run a total of 26 miles the week of April 21st and just 20 miles the following week. Erin Mayer’s 10K plan calls for her to max out at 19 miles the week of April 27th, followed by just 7 miles the week leading up to the run.


Knutson says it’s all about making sure you’re just getting to the start line.


“You have to trust that you’ve done what you’ve needed to do these last few months. Pushing it hard the last couple of weeks isn’t what you should be doing,” he says.


As for what to eat, Knutson says just maintain your normal diet, concentrating on good food that fuels your body.

Knutson will have more information about “taper week” on April 30th. Next week, Mayer and Thomas get advice from experienced runners and learn their tricks for making it through a race.

Fuel for the Run: Protein Bars to Powerade

We’ve heard for years about carbo loading before a race? Is it really science or just an excuse to eat your body weight in pasta? In today’s Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin, Fargo Marathon director Mark Knutson gives our runners, Josh Thomas and Erin Mayer advice on the best foods and drinks to fuel the runner’s body.


Race Day nutrition


1. Race day breakfast – Knutson says look for something that gives you a combination of fat, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and vitamins. He likes Clif Bars which come in a number of flavors. He says they’re tasty and filling without leaving you overstuffed. They’re about 250 calories, enough to fuel you for the race.


2. The scoop on water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. We’ve heard it for years, for a reason. It’s true. Knutson says it is possible to over hydrate, but most of the time it doesn’t happen. He says you should make sure to drink plenty of water about an 1 hour to an hour and a half before a race. Not much after that, until the race starts. Knutson says at the Fargo Marathon water stations are set up every two miles. He says those running the 5K probably don’t need to stop at all to drink, 10K runners can stop a time or two, and half and full marathon runners should drink water at every stop.


3.During the run nutrition – Knutson says serious runners often times will pack Hammer Gels. AT 110 calories, the fruit flavored gels are basically an instant shot of sugar and provide a little boost to slumping runners. Clif also sells shot blocks which are gummi bears for the runner.


4. Post run drinks – Beer. Okay, fine. But not right away. Have some water or a sports drink like Powerade or Gatorade to rehydrate what you’ve lost. Knutson says one of the best post run drinks is actually chocolate milk because it’s a combination of fat, sugar and protein.


5. Post run foods – Knutson says it’s important to get something to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after a run. Your body needs protein to recover. It doesn’t matter much what kind of protein it is, but Knutson says it plays a role in rebuilding muscle and helping prevent muscle soreness the next day.

Next time: what you need to know one month from race day.

Staying motivated when you’d rather have pizza and beer

Let’s face it, training for a race isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are days when the alarm goes off and the last thing you want to do is run.  Instead of a run after work, you’d rather meet your friends for pizza and beer. How do you stay motivated to keep going?  This week on Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin, we join Josh Thomas and Erin Mayer over pizza and beer as they discuss how they’re keeping focus on their goals to run the Half-marathon and 10K this May. Fargo Marathon Director Mark Knutson has a few motivational tips of his own.


How to stay motivated for a race


1)      Pay for your registration well in advance.  It’s hard to leave money on the table just because you got tired of training.

2)      Mix it up!  Look for a race of a shorter distance than what you are running to give yourself a mid-training goal. Or if you’re getting tired of the same old scene, get away for a weekend and run somewhere completely new

3)      Buy some new running clothes or a new accessory – Sure, it’s  bribery. But if it works who are we to argue?

4)      Try running with music if you haven’t in the past – Some apps such as Grooveshark even allow you to select playlists that are customized to how fast you run.

5)      Step on the scale .ask yourself if you’ve really stuck with the plan that you set out in January. If not, it might just be the motivation you need to keep at it.


And finally, understand that indulging in a good night out with friends, pizza and beer or not, might be just the break you need. When it comes to fitness goals think marathon, not sprint. Lifestyle changes in exercising and eating right shouldn’t be short term quick fixes. You’re more likely to make long term positive changes if you give yourself a break, don’t live in constant denial. It’s okay to have a cheat day once in awhile. You can get back in the race tomorrow.


 Next week, what’s the deal on all of those energy bars? And one of the best items to consume after a run that you probably already have in your refrigerator.

What to look for in spring running clothing and sports bras

As the weather warms up it’s time to re-examine running clothes. Gone are the multiple layers and mittens, it’s time to lighten up. In this week’s Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin, Fargo Marathon Director Mark Knutson looks at spring/summer running clothes while Go Far Woman director Sue Knutson gives you tips on buying a running bra.


What to look for in spring running clothing:


1) Capris or shorts – When the temperature hits 45 or so, Mark Knutson says capris with a long sleeve shirt are a nice option for women. He says awhile back manufacturers sold men’s capri running pants, but it went over like a lead balloon. Instead, men can opt for the latest trend in running shorts, the 2 in 1 short which combines a tight inner layer with a more traditional running short. It gives runners warmth, support and movability.


2) Leave the cotton behind – while you might be tempted to throw on a cotton t-shirt for your spring/summer run, it’s not the best option. Cotton absorbs water which can create chafing and rashes on the skin. Polyester is a better choice. Lightweight dri-weave fabrics keep moisture away from skin.


3)Reflectivity is still important – Chances are you’ll be doing more daylight running in the spring and summer, even so reflectivity in running clothes remains important. Whether its a reflective strip on the sleeves or back of your jacket, or even a jacket that gets recharged under lights it’s a good idea to give it a try. Safety first.

5 Signs you need a new sports bra


1) The band causes chafing – Sue Knutson says the band, not the straps, are what provides the most support in a sports bra. But if your band is causing your skin to break out in a rash or chafe, it’s time to look at a new one.


2) You’re layering bras – If you need to wear two sports bras to give you adequate support, it’s time to chuck them for one bra that does the job. In this case, Knutson says you get what you pay for. Consider investing in one quality sports bra instead of cheap bras that require doubling up.


3) You can no longer read the tags – if the washing instructions have worn off, the garment is probably old enough not to be doing it’s job.


4) You’re wearing the same bra as your different sized friend – Knutson says women come in all shapes and sizes and an A cup should be wearing a different model bra than her D cup friend. She says A and B cups can get away with a compression bra which simply provides support through a tight fit. C and D cups should consider bras that both compress and encapsulate the breasts. Think a combination sports bra and underwire. D cups and above are best off with a full underwire, encapsulated sports bra

5) You need new shoes – Most of the time you should be replacing your sports bras every year or so. Knutson says consider making it a habit when you buy new shoes that you pick up a new bra at the same time.


 Next week, what to do when your motivation to keep going goes right out the window.

Today’s Tech Tools a big help!

The guesswork has gone out of training. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to train for a race. In today’s episode of “Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin”, Fargo Marathon Director Mark Knutson gives our runners pointers on the best high tech gadgets to use.


1) Fit Bit – This is the latest “it” product. Sales are booming for the Fit Bit, a tracking device worn on your wrist or hung on your body. It doesn’t just measure your progress when you exercise. Users wear them all day to track steps taken, distance walked, calories burned and stairs climbed. It even tracks how many hours you sleep. The information can then be shared with your smartphone or computer. They start around $60.


2) GPS Watches – the forerunner to the Fit Bit, GPS watches enable you to track where you’re running and how fast you’re going. In addition, some models track your heart rate and calories burned. Knutson says while the first GPS watches were “the size of my arm,” newer models are more streamlined and information downloaded to your computer or phone. The industry leader is Garmin which offers an entry level watch for about $130 dollars.


3) Apps – You might not have to buy anything if you run with your smartphone. Apps such as “Map my Run” or “RunKeeper” work as personal trainers, helping you plan a route to run, as well as giving you instructions to you as you run. After you run, the programs give you the option of saving your latest workout so you can keep a running log of your progress. You can also choose to share your latest run with friends on social media.


4) Compression socks – the least high tech of the options, but among the  most important for serious runners. Knutson says during a long run, leg fatigue can set in, in part because of decreased circulation in the legs. Compression socks stimulate blood flow to the legs which refreshes and regenerates the legs. Knutson says if you don’t wear the socks while running, even putting them on an hour after a run is beneficial. He also says if you’re running the 10K or less, you probably don’t need compression socks.


 Next week, what to look for in a running bra and the hottest trend in men’s running shorts.

The Top 5 questions to ask about sport injuries

“Into every life a little rain must fall.” In the case of training for a race, you might say, “Into every run, a little ache or pain might happen.”


Injuries are common for first time and less experienced runners. How do you know when it’s serious or something you can work through?

In week #10 of Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin, Essentia Sports Medicine physician Dr. Dan Ostlie gives our runners,Erin Mayer and Josh Thomas, advice on when to bring in the ice packs and when to tough it out and tells them about some common injuries they might face.


The top 5 questions to ask about running injuries -


1. When is it serious and when is it just soreness?

Ostlie says most of the time the aches and pains runners face are just a matter of bodies getting acclimated to their new activity. Muscle soreness is common and will last a couple of days. If the pain lasts more than a couple of days, keeps you up at night, or you have swelling or limping, see a doctor.


2.  Who is most at risk?

If you’ve never run before or are carrying extra weight your knees will feel the pain. If you ease into training and/or lose some weight some of the pain should go away.


3. What should you do for pain?

Ostlie says he encourages runners to put ice on a sore or injured area for 20 minutes and take ibuprofen for the pain. He says heat is also fine for pain relief.


4. What is the most common injury runners face?

Ostlie says shin splints are common particularly among teenagers. Shin splints are a breakdown of the tissue along the inner lower leg bone. They cause a sharp pain on the inside part of the shin. In most cases you can work through shin splint pain. If it continues to hurt, doctors will look for stress fractures in the lower leg.


5. What is the best piece of advice doctors have to avoid injury?

Ostlie says injuries are most likely to happen when new runners try to do too much too soon. Don’t expect to roll off the couch and become a serious athlete. Ease into any activity.

 Next week: The latest technology to make your race more enjoyable

Why you need to stop running (sometimes)

Runners aren’t built by running alone. You can’t run everyday, so what do you do on “off” days?

That’s the focus of episode #8 of Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been watching as Fargo Marathon director Mark Knutson trains a couple of less-experienced athletes on how to run a race.

Josh Thomas is a 33-year-old advertising executive. He’s single and ran the 5k and 10k races at last year’s Fargo Marathon. With Knutson’s help he’s shooting for the Half-Marathon this year.


Erin Mayer is a 38-year-old salesperson. She’s married with two children. She’s not run a race before but is training for the 10k with Knutson.

So far Mayer and Thomas are enjoying their time spent running. But Knutson is encouraging them (and all of us training alongside them) to cross-train. He says it’s bad for the body to run 7 days a week. Along with rest days, one or two days a week should be saved for other activities. He says the key is to find something you like: yoga, weight lifting, walking the dog, spinning class, swimming, you name it. Cross train days enable your body to recover from running while helping you keep your fitness levels high in areas such as cardiovascular health, flexibility and strength.

Next week: How to avoid injury.

Yoga poses for Runners

In between days spent on the treadmill or track you might want to hit the yoga mat. Yoga enthusiasts will tell you yoga is both relaxing and empowering. But you might not know that yoga is also a good workout for those training for a race – whether a 5K or marathon.

Yoga teacher Lucky Plested takes you through the best poses for runners.

Strength in Numbers

If it’s a Saturday morning and you happen to stop into any coffee shop in Fargo-Moorhead you might just see a table full of smiling runners downing their morning coffee. Tracy Clow is one of them. The Fargo woman is an avid runner who finds inspiration running alongside others.


“It’s amazing how fast the miles tick by when I run with them!” she says.


Clow and her group of friends run together almost every Saturday as they train for the Fargo half-marathon.


Mark Knutson, director of the Fargo Marathon, says it’s a smart thing to do. In this week’s episode of “Getting in Gear with Josh and Erin,” Knutson and experienced runner Teresa DeMers tell our runners Josh Thomas and Erin Mayer why team training makes so much sense.


They agree with Clow that running with a friend helps the time pass faster, but they also say it makes you more accountable. When you don’t feel like getting of bed for that morning run, it helps to know that a friend is waiting to meet you at the track or gym.


If you don’t have a group of friends with whom to run, there are plenty of organized groups and classes you can join. Here are just a few ideas:


FSR Fargo Marathon Training

Programs available for 5K to Marathon runners with two weekly morning runs available now. Trained runners are there to assist and members receive 20% off Fargo Running Company purchases. Runners also can take part in educational running clinics and a post marathon party. For more information go to:


Beyond Running Club

Year round runs are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm.Different routes available: 3 miles, 5 miles, or 7 miles.For more information go to


Moms on the Run

New to Fargo, Moms on the Run has been thriving in the Twin Cities for six years. Moms on the Run is a beginner running program for women of all ages and fitness levels. Choose to train once or twice a week, Wednesday and Sundays, 6:30pm in West Fargo. For more information go to :

Next week: How to train by NOT running.