Runners Notes
By Heather Cass Erie Times-News staff blogger
If you want to know anything about the local running scene, ask Heather Cass. A member of the Erie Runners Club for 10-plus years, she is immersed in the local fitness culture, and she's taking your questions.   Read more about this blog.
Archive for the ‘Beginners’ category
Posted: July 9th, 2013

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.


Posted: July 5th, 2013

Couch to 5k Flyer

Posted: June 13th, 2013

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.

Posted: June 6th, 2013

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!

Posted: June 3rd, 2013

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!


Posted: June 3rd, 2013



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.

Posted: May 30th, 2013

Worth Reading

* Build a better core with these 5 Workouts for Stronger Running

* And….once you work on your core, you can maximize your mobility with these 6 exercises. (Um..seriously, don’t discount mobility, the lack of it causes many injuries because we compensate with crappy form).

* Yes, You Can Run an Ultramarathon (Tips, guides, advice here…see links to more info at the bottom of this intro article).

* Long run on a hot day? Suck down a slushie first.   “A new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that runners who drank a ten-ounce slushie (made of blended ice and sugar water) were able to run 19 percent longer before exhaustion in 93-degree heat than a control group drinking the same ice-cold beverage in liquid form.”

P.S. I’ll have More hot weather running tips posted tomorrow!


running funny

Tshirt of the week


Available here for $20.



Posted: May 23rd, 2013

Worth Reading

* Dogs get high, too, but ferrets don’t.

* 10 biggest running mistakes

* Does it seem like it takes longer to recover the older you get? Um, it does. Here’s why.

* For the ladies: Jezebel: If You Must Think About your Weight, Here Are 10 Things to Think About  Warning: there are plenty of f-bombs in this article, but this is probably the greatest thing I’ve read in…well, ever. I’m at that stage where I’m pissed off about this situation we’ve all bought into. I’m sick of women’s magazines and fitness magazines and women’s expos that are full of ways for us to fix ourselves — lose weight, fix your hair, get the whitest teeth, cook better….f@#$ you, I’m fine the way I am.  READ THIS. PRINT IT OUT. GET MAD.

Video of the Week

Hmmm….now this treadmill workout could possibly hold my interest:

Ultra funny

For all my ultra-running friends.  (This is a JOKE…though, you have to admit….it’s funny because most of it is true, right?). LOL.



T-Shirt of the Week


Available here for $19.97.


Posted: May 17th, 2013

Have you always wanted to learn the pose method of running? Perhaps you’ve tried to teach yourself?

If you have absolutely no idea what I’m taking about, read this. If you don’t have time for that, watch this:

OK… that were all up to speed, the good news…..drumroll, please…..

You can learn it right here in Erie. Erie runners and trainers Julie Robinson and Sean Donachy have formed a business called RunErie to teach local runners how to improve their form, which will result in better race times and — most importantly — fewer injuries! Yay!

They’ve already taught two classes and they are offering another on Saturday, May 25 at 8 a.m.  CrossFit FBO at 1311 Chestnut Street. Cost is $10 and space is limited.  Details here. Contact them on Facebook or call 450-7786 for more info or to RSVP.

Chi vs. Pose Method

You may have heard of Chi running before, too. It similar, but there are some differences as well. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Chi running versus Pose method, but, if you don’t have time for that, here’s the short version:

“Pose running puts more demand on the legs, using muscle control to maintain proper positioning. ChiRunning teaches that the leg below the knee should be relaxed, taxing the muscle very little. The primary focus of ChiRunners is core strength and the belief that energy can be redirected from the trunk to the extremities. Another key difference is that pose running uses a short stride while ChiRunning extends the stride, again to alleviate the effort on leg muscles.

Probably the most distinguishing characteristic between these two approaches is that pose running is primarily focused on the physiological elements of running. ChiRunning on the other hand, is steeped in Eastern philosophies that, while may be perfectly valid, Western runners may have trouble applying.”

Posted: May 16th, 2013

 Worth Reading

*Big Brother Fitbit Flex is watching tracking you. If you’re looking to get a handle on exactly how much exercise you’re getting every day and are considering strapping on a fitness tracker (think those armband things you wear that meausure your activities, calorie burn, sleep, etc.), word has it the new Fitbit Flex is the cream of the current crop.

* Should you eat before a morning workout? Probably.

* Too busy to train for a marathon? Here’s one that anyone…and I do mean anyone…can finish.

* The real cause of muscle cramps (it’s not what you might think) and how to avoid them. (I can vouch for this…learned it the hard way)


Video of the Week

Leave it to SNL to do the best parody commercials ever. This New Balance commercial is hysterical:

T-shirt of the Week

In honor of tonight’s final episode of The Office, the classic Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For the Cure race T-shirt:


Available here for $16.95.


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