Posts in the category

Things I found — 7/18/13

By | July 18, 2013 1:47 am | 0 Comments

Worth reading

* Here’s a cool resource: Different shoelace configurations designed to accommodate foot pain and fit issues.

* Women’s running: 20 Signs You Know You’re a Runner. (I definitely do 80% of these, including 20, 13, 12, 10 & 3).

* Top 10 Running Mistakes. (I’m guilty of at least two of these, but…I’ll say that a few years ago, I’d have been guilty of half of these. With running age, comes wisdom.)

* Tyson Gay tests positive. I tend not to put anyone, even elite athletes, on pedestals, so I can’t say I was all that disappointed in this news.  I had to google him, frankly. Then I shrugged my shoulders & thought…Meh. Don’t most professional athletes dope now? Perhaps that’s a sad statement/assumption, but it seems to be a pretty accurate one.

* What You Can’t Tell About a Woman From Her Body Shape (I definitely learned this from racing — you can never judge a runner by their body. Stop comparing. Be amazed with what your body can do for you.)

Funny stuff

For the non-runner in your life ($5.25 at


T-shirt of the Week


Available here in various styles for $25+

Looking for running buddies?

By | July 17, 2013 1:04 am | 0 Comments


This is my circle of speed work running friends after a recent night of too many 400s to count (I totally lose track, so I need all of them to remind me what number we are on).

For many of us, running with other people gets us much faster and further than we ever would alone, but…how do you meet people to run with?

1. Join the club. A good place to start is by joining the Erie Runners Club and maybe attending a few membership meetings (2nd Monday of the month at 7 p.m., currently at Asbury Woods park…they move indoors in fall) and/or newsletter stuffings (1st Monday of the month at the Plymouth Tavern at 7 p.m.). The newsletter stuffing nights are actually a lot of fun, believe it or not, and the club provides free wings, pretzels & beer after! Admittedly, it tends to be the same people who show up at all the meetings and newsletter stuffings, but…trust me when I say, they know everyone in the area who runs. Ask around. Find out if they know anyone in your area who runs about your pace.

2. Friend the Erie Runners Club on Facebook. Then, request to join the Erie Runners Club Running Groups group (say that three times fast). This is where you can learn about some group runs in the area. Or post the time/distance/location you’re looking for someone to run with.

3. Chat up your competition. When you do a race (oh..and racing is a great way to meet other runners and make friends), make it a point to chat up the people in slightly in front of you (after the race, of course). Just simply say…hey, nice race…I was trying to catch you the whole time. They may just invite you to join them on training runs.  They are the ones you want to run with. You’ll get the most out of running with other people if you run with those just slightly better than you.

4. Attend a 5K training program. Harborcreek Township offers a great learn-to-run program every summer (it’s over now, but look for it next May!) and there’s one for women that started Saturday. It’s not too late to join.  Details here.

5. Ask me. I  know tons of people who run in the Erie area. There’s a pretty good chance I can find someone that runs your pace that you may be able to meet up with for weekend long runs (or whatever). You need to tell me a few things: gender, age, pace-per-mile, what kind of distance you want to do (if you’re training for a race…tell me the distance).  You can email me at zipdang22 at aol.



29 ways to run faster

By | July 16, 2013 1:48 am | 0 Comments


Sometimes I have email exchanges with runners that I think would be helpful information to share with others, so in that spirit I share this:

A reader recently contacted me with questions about Couch to Her Times 5K training program and she said:

My first 5k was last October.  Terrible time. Trying to redeem myself :) I’m new at this.  Any tips from a seasoned runner?

Here was my response:

Hi, Nicole. When you say you had a terrible time, do you mean that you were unhappy with how long it took you to complete the race? It’s all sorta relative (my fast is another person’s slow), so…it really does only matter what YOU think. But if you feel like you could do better, then here are some things that helped me:

1. Run with other people. And, most importantly if you want to get faster, run with people slightly faster than you and soon you’ll be a their pace. What is your pace…do you know? If you tell me, I may know of some groups/people you might join. (I extend that offer to all blog readers…I know lots of runners at various paces who live in various areas of the city & county).  Join the Erie Runner Club and like their page on Facebook. Request to join the ERC’s running groups facebook page…that’s where you can learn about various group workouts.

2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is true ONLY for racing…you should not be running training runs like this, but, when racing, learn to accept that it’s hard and it hurts and tell your brain that it can handle it (because your “selfish brain” will keep telling you to slow down).  This article is fascinating and it will give you some insight into what’s happening in your mind/body. (This is written for an ultrarunner audience, but it applies to many of us. Again…it’s all relative…your “ultra” may be my “warm up,” you know?)

3. Start interval training/speedwork. It’s all explained pretty well in this article. Word to the wise: if you can talk any friends into doing speedwork/intervals with you, it’s way more fun with friends (or at least less miserable).

4. (to 29.) Here are 25 more ways to run  faster.

Good luck! You can do it! Let me know your pace and I may have a group for you to meet up with.

~ Heather

Friday ?: Recovery Aids

By | July 12, 2013 3:02 am | 0 Comments

What’s your number one recovery aid (aids)? ice bath, compression socks, chocolate milk? What’s your go-to to speed recovery?

“Vicodin.” — Dbrew (It’s a joke, people!)

“IPA” — Ross Aresco (It’s a type of beer)

“Easy runs” — Pat Krott

“Diet Dr. Pepper and potato chips!” — Jan Comi

“Lavender Epsom salts in my bath while drinking a beer!” — Karen Groshek

“Chocolate Milk, Compression Socks, Ice Bath…in that order of importance. I see too many runners wait too long for the chocolate milk (or other carb/protein replenishment if they are vegan). The Compression Socks don’t have to come before ice, but they do make a difference. We have had athletes do significant workloads and slide into a pair of compression socks between along with a nice snack and be able to handle everything on a very hard day and not be any more sore than a normal hard run. Ice never hurts (except frostbite) so I do think that it’s critical, and the constriction of the capillaries is really important to reduce the chance of inflammation, and also a good recovery tool if you forgot anything else and are sore the next day.” — Greg Cooper (Editor’s note: Greg is Penn State Behrend’s head running coach…which is to say…a guy who would know about recovery! :0 )

And more from the coach:

“Also, Patrick Krott’s suggestion of easy run is also great. Of particular benefit is running a recovery run at a recovery pace within 24 hours of a hard run. Inside our brain, interleukin-6 is the trigger that causes us to feel we have fatigue, this is also an inhibitor of motor impulses from brain to muscle (this is bad if you’re trying to run fast at the end of the race) Some research from the U of Copenhagen in Denmark says that the easy run w/in 24 hours of the hard run allows your body to learn to run with lower levels of glycogen (one of your primary fuels), so when we run those easy runs, we teach our body to continue to send those motor impulses from brain to muscle when we are tired, fatigued, sore, etc., This is not eliminating soreness, but it’s teaching your body to not feel that pain/soreness nearly as much the next time. This is probably a good thing if you want to progress in your training.”

Get ready to run the Her Times 5K

By | July 9, 2013 1:36 am | 0 Comments

In Sunday’s issue of Her Times magazine (in home delivered issues of the Erie Times-News), I  interviewed two women who have pledged to lose 50 lbs. each (a combined total of 100 lbs.) by this year’s Her Times 5K. They’re well on their way with each of them having lost 30 lbs. already!


Get Ready to Run the Her Times 5K

By Heather Cass

Cassy Frey and Lacey Ziegler, both 30, have 75 miles between them, but you’d never know it. Frey, who lives in Corry, and Ziegler, who lives in Jefferson, Ohio, talk four to five times a day. They met their freshman year at Thiel College and have been close friends — in heart, if not distance — ever since.

Right now, the two are working on common goals: Each wants to lose 50 pounds and jog the entire 3.1 miles of the Her Times 5K on Oct. 5. They are well on their way to the finish line of both. They have each lost 35 pounds and are running three days a week.

I first heard from Ziegler in February when she sent me an e-mail to ask if they could have their lucky numbers — 27 for Ziegler and 17 for Frey — on their race bibs if they achieved their weight-loss goal.

I agreed and asked if I could share their inspirational story with readers.

Q. What is your goal for the 2013 Her Times 5K?

Ziegler: To run the entire race. We missed the Her Times 5K in 2011, as we were both pregnant, and last year we mostly walked, so it would be an accomplishment to jog the whole 3.1 miles.

Frey: And, if we reach the 50-pound weight loss before this year’s race (and we will!), we’ll be rewarded with our lucky numbers on our race bibs.

Q. How do you keep each other accountable?

Ziegler: We chat every day and share our struggles and successes and encourage each other to stay active every day.

Frey: We remind each other daily of the Her Times 5K countdown. And once a month we try to send each other care packages with motivational phrases, healthy snacks and even smaller clothes! We also plan monthly fitness get-togethers in Erie, it’s a nice halfway point for us.

Q. What have you been doing to lose weight?

Ziegler: I go to the gym six days a week and do cardio machines and various classes. They have free baby-sitting for my 16-month-old daughter, so we have a routine of going every day. It’s become our lifestyle.

Frey: I load my kids in the double stroller,and we walk every day. On a good day we cover 4 miles. People don’t realize the power of walking. Then, later in the evening, I jog in my local church parking lot.

Q. How did you get started running?

Frey: I had just had my second child and was at my heaviest weight. My husband and I decided to invest in a treadmill to avoid my fear of working out in public. The first time I got on it, I could barely go two minutes. But I gradually worked my way up. I did my first 5K in the fall of 2009.

Ziegler: My first 5K was in Cleveland in 2008. Then I learned about the Her Times 5K for women. Cassy and I started doing it together every year. We just love it.

Q. You’re both busy moms. Why is it important for you to fit exercise into your life?

Ziegler: It gives me time to think. Also, I’ve been heavy since I was 12, and I know I have to make fitness a part of my life every day to stay healthy.

Frey: It’s my time. Being a mother of three, it’s sometimes the only time I can think and process my thoughts. My children deserve a healthy, happy mother. Investing this time in my own health teaches them good habits.

Q .Why do you enjoy running?

Frey: It’s an activity that grows with you — you can gradually increase your goals (time or distance) little by little. And anyone can do it.

Q. What is your ultimate goal?

Ziegler: I want to get down to 150 pounds, which would be a total loss of 105 pounds, and I want to develop the mindset of a healthy person.

Frey: To stay motivated and improve my quality of life by developing healthier habits. It’s easy to start losing weight, but it’s hard to maintain. So my goal is to stay motivated.

Q. What advice do you have for other women like you?

Frey: The Her Times 5K is a great race to do because there are both runners and walkers. There’s no better time to start than right now. Just take it one goal at a time. Accomplish one goal and move on to the next. You’d be surprised the things you can do.

Join us!

The Her Times 5K, a 3.1-mile run/walk for women, will take place at 8 a.m. in front of the Rotary Pavilion at Presque Isle State Park on Oct. 5. Cost is $17 if you register by Sept. 20. Register online at (case sensitive). Bring the kids. We’ll have free baby-sitting during the 5K and kids races after.

Free 5K training

Best Fitness has partnered with the Her Times 5K to offer a free couch-to-5K program for women. It kicks off on July 13 at 7:45 a.m. at Beach 1 at Presque Isle State Park. Runners will meet for an hour every Saturday for the 12 weeks leading up to the Her Times 5K on Oct. 5. Participants will receive a free T-shirt, instruction and special Her Times 5K insider perks. After the run training, Best Fitness will be offering a free yoga class (for men and women) at 9 a.m., also on Beach 1.


Things I found — 6/13/13

By | June 13, 2013 1:59 am | 0 Comments

Worth Reading

* Thinking of moving to more minimalist shoe? Here’s advice on how to do it without getting injured.

*8 things runners should know about coffee.

* Planning to try a triathlon? A complete how-to with great tips & info here.

* Check out these Night Runner LED lights that clip onto your running shoes. I think I might just find them terribly distracting when running in the dark, but some of you might find them really useful. If so…you may want to get in on the ground floor (pun intended) and support the Night Runner’s Kickstarter campaign.

Funny stuff

* Runner’s World’s new greeting card line: Sympathy cards for runners


Of course….eCards is not to be outdone in the humor department:


T-shirt of the week


Available here for $20.

Things I found — 6/6/13

By | June 6, 2013 1:48 am | 1 Comment

Worth Reading

* Planning to run your first 6.2?  Here are 10 Tips for Running a 10K.

* Runners, Yeah, we’re different. (I think I’ve done every one of these…you?)

* 4 ways to stop side stitches (from

* Tsk, tsk, NY Times, I think we all know the answer to this question: Is it Better to Walk or Run?

* Headed out of town? Tips for traveling runners


Video of the Week

Your new cross-training routine? (I thought this was a joke, but…um….no, this is for real. And, if I see you doing it, I will absolutely laugh at you) “We’re going to really cut the noose, and let it loose with the Prancercise Gallop!”


T-Shirt of the Week


Available here in various sizes/styles…on shirts and mugs, tote bags, etc. Buy something for your most loyal supporter!

Save the date, ladies – Free Her Times 5K training

By | June 3, 2013 1:23 am | 0 Comments

Best Fitness has partnered with the Her Times 5K to offer a free couch-to-5K program for women. The program kicks off on July 13 at 7:45 a.m. at Beach 1 at Presque Isle State Park.

Runners will meet for an hour every Saturday for 12 weeks leading up to the Her times 5K on Oct. 5.

Participatns will receive a free T-shirt, weekly nutrition and fitness instruction and guidance, and some special Her Times 5K insider perks, too.

After the run training, Best Fitness will also be offering a free yoga class (for anyone) at 9 a.m., also at Beach 1.

I’ll post details on how to register as soon as they are available. For now…save the date(s) and spread the word!


I’m a poser

By | June 3, 2013 1:04 am | 1 Comment



So I took a 90-minute lesson in the Pose Method of running from Julie Robinson, owner of RunErie and a certified Pose running instructor and wrote about it for yesterday’s Her Times magazine in the Erie Times-News. Here’s my part:

Posed to Run

By Heather Cass

I love my hot pink and black Saucony Cohesion running shoes with their wide toe box and cushy heels, but Julie Robinson, an Erie-based Pose running coach, said they have to go.

“You need to lose the big shoes,” she said.

I’ve been a heel striker for all of my running life, about 15 years now. It’s obvious if you look at my running shoes. The outside edges of both heels are worn off from being scuffed into the ground for hundreds of miles.

Landing on the ground heel first when running is bad. It sends hundreds of pounds of pressure up the legs, through the hips and into the lower back. It can cause a host of running-related injuries from shin splints to Achilles tendinitis to herniated discs.

Robinson and I are in a parking lot at Penn State Behrend where she is giving me a short course in the Pose Method, which encourages the use of lightweight, thin-soled shoes.

“Getting out of the big shoes helps reduce heel striking because it hurts when you do so in a more minimalist shoe, which forces a change in and of itself,” she said. “But it’s learning to correctly ‘fall’ into Pose that gets rid of that nasty habit. Big shoes just get in the way.”

What is Pose?

It’s hard to explain, but according to, the Pose is a one-legged stance with the head, shoulders and hips aligned over the ball of the foot. The airborne foot is up under the hips, and running becomes a sequence of falling forward from this position, having the airborne leg drop to keep from falling to the ground and using the hamstring to pull the trailing foot into the airborne position, then returning to the Pose on the opposite leg.

Got it? No? That’s OK because Robinson does get it. In the 90 minutes Robinson and I spent together, she was able to demonstrate some of the methods she uses to build a better runner. It’s a gradual process. She doesn’t just take your shoes away and force you to run in a whole new way. You have to build strength and mobility in your ankles and hips first. You have to work your way down to a lesser-cushioned shoe. You have to practice the one-legged stance, master the use of gravity and “falling forward” and learn to pull your leg up, using your hamstring, instead of pushing off the ground with your toes.

“With Pose, you don’t need the ground to get moving,” Robinson said. “You’re pulling your leg up, not pushing off. Pose is perfect for trail runners who run on rocky, uneven terrain.”

Three days after meeting with Robinson, I ran the Cleveland half marathon. I concentrated on applying some of the principles she taught me, constantly reminding myself to pull, stay centered and fall forward. While I didn’t set any personal records that day (it was 80 degrees), I had no soreness, calf cramps or knee twinges during or after the race. That is a victory for this veteran runner.

Veteran Verdict: Even veterans with closets full of medals and awards can benefit from learning the Pose Method and working with Robinson and Run Erie to improve their form.

There’s more to the story — you can read what newbie runner Marnie Mead Oberle thought of the method here and see a video here.

Bottom line is this: Julie knows her stuff. If you’ve been plagued by constant injuries, it’s worth checking out.  Heck, even if you’ve not been plagued with injuries and you’ve been running (and placing) for 15 years, it’s worth checking out.

You can find more info here and learn about some great workshops they are offering with a master pose coach here.

Starting in June, Run Erie will offer a full schedule of classes on Pose basics at the introductory rate of eight classes for $75. Private lessons are also available at individual and package rates.

RunErie will also bring in master Pose coach Valerie Hunt from Austin, Texas, who will teach two eight-hour seminars with personalized video analysis on June 29 and 30 at CrossFit FBO, 1311 Chestnut St. Cost:$150.

The clinics are open to all ages and ability levels. Each clinic includes eight hours of instruction, video analysis, and time for lunch and socialization with new friends. Details for registration are available on Run Erie’s Facebook page under the events tab or e-mail Run Erie at

If nothing else, follow Run Erie on Facebook and learn more about the pose method — they frequently post videos and tips.