Category Archives: General

When Will Running Races Be Safe Again?

It’s been a tough year and a half for races across America. While running has seen a boom in interest amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic, there have been few – if any – opportunities to race. The virus closed gyms and opened the streets to new runners, but those of us with packed racing schedules have been grounded for what feels like a very long time.

So, when will running be safe to do in the race format again? Some elite runners have already been back at it, participating in smaller events that can institute tough coronavirus testing and quarantining guidelines. There’s certainly been a lot of coverage about when amateur racers can get back in the game, too. But, as it stands, we don’t really know.

We think the ability to race again will come down to a few factors: Widespread testing, low or no community transmission, and race size. So, a smaller 50K race in rural Utah will probably be back before the Provo Marathon.

Still, some of these races require quite a bit of planning, so you’re probably looking for a direct answer to this question. The truth is, we don’t have one, but we’d rather folks be safe. So, it is our official recommendation that runners don’t schedule races until late 2021 or 2022. This is probably hard to hear for many of you, but this is the timeline where we feel confident races won’t need to be cancelled at the last minute.

The Good and the Bad of Races in the Era of COVID-19

Running has changed a lot in the past year. As gyms closed and opportunities for exercise shrank, hundreds of thousands of Americans turned to running – one of the simplest, most accessible forms of recreation. But with a new crop of runners came a new breed of race experience. While some races have pledged to have in-person events in 2021, many are still relying on remote participation, only offering on-course spots to elite and professional runners.

There are benefits and drawbacks of this new running world. Mistakes have been made, but bridges have been forged. We wanted to reflect a bit on what has been good and bad in the past year of racing. And, while we hope things return to normal soon, we think the past year has moved our sport into a brave new direction.

The Bad

While remote racing has allowed more folks to participate in events, some race directors have taken this as an opportunity to shirk responsibility. Many smaller events are hosting both in-person and remote events, but the latter can produce a truly terrible race experience. From confusing online sign-ups to poorly thought-out training and race materials, some runners are better off saving their money for future in-person events.

And the gear. The gear! So much of racing comes down to bringing home a well-designed t-shirt, jacket, and medal. The events hosting both in-person and remote races have, overwhelmingly, done a bad job at distributing gear to remote participants. We know that this could be an issue of supply and demand. Many of these races partner with independent marketing firms to create and produce t-shirts, and with more participants than before, this might just be a case of not having enough to go around. But if you can’t guarantee a good remote race experiment, why offer it in the first place?

The Good

The lack of in-person races has done a lot to expand race accessibility. Folks from around the country are now able to “run” some of the coolest races in the world. Of course, these runners won’t get to experience the courses themselves. But, to us, running has always felt like an experience of community. Running the Chicago Marathon from Utah might feel a little silly at first, but knowing there are thousands of others out there running the same distance at the same time? That’s pretty special.

Some races have also expanded eligibility, eliminating qualifying times to participate in remote events. Because of this, for the first time ever, Boston Marathon medals will be available to anyone who signs up for the remote event. Previously, only folks with truly incredible race times – a 3:30 maximum for the women’s 18-24 age group – were able to participate. While we might not get the thrill of racing down Boylston Street, we can all now have the pleasure of displaying a finisher medal in our homes.

The Verdict

While remote and socially distanced racing may have eliminated some of our favorite running experiences, it’s opened the door to many new runners. With this sustained enthusiasm, we’ll grow bigger, better, and stronger running communities.

Four Mistakes Utah Runners Make

Utah is a fairly active state. Residents like to take advantage of the abundant natural beauty right in their backyard, which means most of us love to spend weekends getting in some intense physical activity. While you may believe your already-active lifestyle will translate well into running, you’re only partially correct. Of course, the more in shape you are when you begin to run, the better your early runs will be. However, there are a few rookie mistakes specific to the sport that all new runners should look to avoid. Here are the top four.


  1. Pushing yourself too hard. This is a huge one for Utah runners. If you’re like most people, you look forward to getting outside and moving your body. However, you need to give your body time to adjust to this form of exercise. You might feel as though you could run a 5:30 mile, but reaching for that time without proper training will almost certainly lead to injury. Additionally, shin splints and runner’s knee are widely experienced injuries that occur when individuals run too frequently. Be sure to take at least one rest day each week, and increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10%–at least in the beginning.


  1. Not getting supportive shoes. Running puts a lot of strain on your lower extremities. The best way to prevent injury? Getting a proper pair of running shoes. Have your feet professionally measured to see which size and width work best for you, then talk to the sales associate about the amount of cushion and support you’ll need to get where you want to be.


  1. Over-striding and a lack of proper form. New runners are prone to over-striding. In essence, this is when an individual pushes their stride to an unhealthy limit. Large strides will not allow you to run faster. Avoid lunging forward with your feet and instead focus on how your foot lands—ideally on the mid-sole of every step. Paying attention to the way you land will prevent over-striding injuries.


  1. Not drinking enough water. Lots of Utahns hike, which means that a lot of us are used to carrying daypacks with a few bottles of water. Unfortunately, running with a big, bulk pack can cause some problems, but you still need to get enough water into your system to sustain a healthy run. Hydrate one hour before by consuming between 16 and 24oz of water. Look into portable hydration systems, such as arm bands, or run in parks with ample water fountains.


Bonus Tip

While long-time Utah residents are prone to mistakes, this list goes double for people visiting the state from out of town. Whether you’re just visiting for the natural beauty or for endurance training, don’t underestimate the effect of even moderate altitude, and especially when visiting the Wasatch Front and/or Uinta Mountains.

Ankle Stability is Key to a Successful Utah Run

Utah is home to nearly every form of running—road, trail, marathon, and ultra. With such a diverse terrain comes a diverse group of athletes. Marathoners don’t train the same way as ultra-runners, just as road runners don’t have the same fitness regimen as trail runners. However, every type of Utah runner could significantly benefit from one piece of training advice: strengthen those ankles.

Many runners neglect ankle strengthening exercises. Think about it: with each step, runners hit the ground with a force of up to three times their body weight. The stiffness of an individual’s ankle will determine the force put into the ground. Ankle strength is essential for running faster and longer, as it can allow runners to hit longer strides and more easily pound the pavement.

If you’ve ever paid attention to Usain Bolt’s ankles, you’ll notice something strange: they barely move. His ankle stiffness allows him to keep his posture and transfer power to the ground as efficiently as possible. Weak ankles, by contrast, lose a lot of the stride’s power, and a lack of control over the joint can lead to discomfort and debilitating injury.

Good ankle exercises are key to running better, faster, and longer. The easiest way to stretch and work the ankles is to practice walking on the toes, on the heels, and on both sides of the feet. This should be done without shoes on and on different surfaces. Practice keeping control of the ankle in each walk. Practice for a few minutes every day—just walk down your house’s hallway a few times. This small time investment will have a huge payoff on the trail or road.

Bosu balance balls are also excellent for ankle stability. Simply stand on the ball with one or both feet. Once your stability improves, begin to incorporate small calf raises and small jumps. After just a few weeks, you’ll notice a significant improvement in ankle strength.


How to Start Running

For many of you reading this, running is already an important part of your life. You spend your mornings fitting in a few miles before and your weekends out accumulating miles on the trail. For some of you, however your interest in this site has been purely aspirational. This post is for you.

Running is an excellent, inexpensive, and completely individual way to get in shape, pick up a hobby, and learn about Utah’s geography. While the sport might seem inaccessible, gaining mileage simply takes time and patience. The first run is always the hardest. Once you get past your first few miles, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a runner. In the meantime, here are few tips to help you get started.

Set a goal. Whether you want to run a mile or a marathon, set your goal early in your running regime. Then, make a plan to get to that goal. Rather than promising to run a certain number of times or miles each week, set monthly goals to ease yourself into the sport. This will allow for increased flexibility, and you won’t feel pressured to go out when you don’t want to.


Start with long walks. Before you start running, get your body moving and your heart rate up by taking several long, fast-paced runs. This will help to improve cardiovascular health prior to running. Then, introduce small bursts of running on your walks; try walking for a mile, then running for a half mile, then walking for a mile. Gradually tilt your walk/run ratio in favor of running. Before you know it, you’ll be running the entire distance.


Get the appropriate gear. You need to be safe and comfortable in order to fully enjoy running. Find a pair of running shoes that works for your lifestyle and goal. If you’re not sure where to start, visit your local running store and ask a sales associate to help you out.


Eat, drink, and sleep right. Keep yourself hydrated and energized by eating whole foods and drinking plenty of water, especially during the evenings before longer runs. Don’t be afraid to indulge in some high-calorie meals—you’re likely to run longer and faster with more energy to use. Additionally, try to get a full eight hours of sleep every night—running on just a few hours of sleep is both difficult and uncomfortable.

Trail Running Shoes vs. Road Running Shoes

In Utah, runners come in all shapes, sizes, and disciplines. The most divisive line, however, is the one that forms two of the most popular running forms: trail and road running. Trail runners practice, of course, on trails and mountain courses, hurdling over roots and other obstacles while gaining and losing a significant amount of elevation. In contrast, road runners often prioritize speed and distance over exploration, utilizing the stability of concrete to propel through the state’s vast cities. No matter where you live in Utah, you likely have access to both types of running—some of you might even practice both. If this is the case, however, you should understand the requirements of each sport. Trail running and road running have vastly different footwear requirements. Here’s what you need to know before heading out to buy a pair.

Trail runners have more traction. Trail shoes are made with sturdier rubber and cleat-like luge to grip the ground beneath your feet when traversing muddy, rocky, or root-covered surfaces. This allows you to make tighter turns, and you’ll feel more stable than you would in a pair of road shoes.


Road shoes are lighter. Road shoes prioritize economy over everything, and they are often made of lighter, less durable material to help runners float over city sidewalks. They almost never include ankle gaiter attachments, rarely consisting of more than a cushioned sole.


Trail runners have a different fit. These shoes fit snugly around the midfoot, allowing your shoes to stay in place over uneven terrain. A wider forefoot will allow your toes to splay out and grip the trail, which is especially important when going up and down hills. Road runners, however, have a narrower toe box, prioritizing footfall rather than stability.


The outsoles are vastly different. Trail runners have solid outsoles with protruding lugs to increase durability and traction. Road runners have lighter weight blown rubber, and most have exposed EVA foam to cut down on weight.

Seven Types of Running Workouts

Becoming a better runner takes time, endurance, and a lot of patience. However, it will also require a bit of education. If you’ve been running the same course or city blocks for the past few months, you may have noticed a plateau in your progress—maybe you haven’t been able to PR in weeks, or perhaps your distances are maxed out. The best way to improve your times and distances is to switch up your runs; varying the types of running workouts you complete will help to strengthen your cardiovascular system and muscles in new, challenging ways. You’ll boost endurance, efficiency, and aerobic capacity, plus you’ll reduce your chance of injury. Here are the seven types of runs you should incorporate into your weekly schedule, whether you’re just trying to switch it up or reaching for that next PR.


  • Base RunThis is a short- to moderate-length run that will take up the bulk of your weekly mileage. This should be done at your natural pace, and it is not meant to be overly challenging. Basically, this is what you’ve been doing.


  • Progression Run—This type of run is designed to begin at your base run pace and end at a faster pace—closer to how you’d like to perform during a race, or the pace your new 10K PR would be at. For example, this type of run would consist of four miles at base pace, then one mile at PR pace. Designed to be challenging, this is an excuse for you to go all out at the end of the workout.


  • Long Run—The goal of a long run is to increase distance. You don’t need to run faster than your base pace, but you should introduce adequate nutrition and hydration prep in the days before these runs. If you generally run 5-6 miles every day, a long run should be in the double-digits—or whatever you feel comfortable with.


  • Fartlek—In essence, a Fartlek run is a less rigorous form of interval training. You’ll want to mix in a few intervals (Spring at maximum speed until that tree in the distance), but nothing too intense. An example of a Fartlek would be 5 miles at your normal pace with 10 spurts of increase speed for 30-60 seconds.


  • Intervals—Interval training is difficult but invigorating. These runs contain both short and long bursts of intense effort separated by equal or longer segments of slower running or jogging. Intense segments should have you pushing yourself to an uncomfortable pace. This type of running will increase speed and boost efficiency and fatigue resistance.


  • Tempo Run—This is a run performed at the fastest pace you can sustain for a period of time. Also called threshold runs, these workouts will help you to increase sustained speed. Tempo runs are very challenging, and they often require a lot of recovery time.


  • Recovery Run—These are short runs done at a relatively easy pace. This is the best way to reintroduce yourself to workouts after an especially difficult tempo or interval run. Go as slow as you need to in order to overcome fatigue or soreness.


The Trail Run Project

We’ve all been there: you have a lot of energy, and you want to channel it into a great run. But where to go? Your normal route is beginning to get stale, but you don’t know enough about other trails to safely head out on your own. By the time you make the decision, your pre-run high has left; you either head out on your usual path or skip the run altogether.

Utah runners are trying to fix that. Enter: Trail Run Project. This is a crowd-sourced website for cataloging the best trails for running. The site posts local weather advisories, forecasts, and warnings for those running in certain areas. Individuals can search for routes by location using the helpful map. Trails are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and users can search by experience, difficulty, distance, and rating.

An interesting community has popped up around the Trail Run Project. Users upload helpful photos, reviews, and advice regarding their favorite trails. If you see somebody posting enough, and you run that route enough, you’re nearly guaranteed to run into them! I’ve attended a few running meet-ups organized by people on the site, and it’s a really cool way to get to know your area and runners who love Utah as much as you do!

Each trail review has several pieces of important information. You’ll get a map of the route with clearly marked starting and stopping points, helpful directional arrows, and a rating created from cumulative group reviews. An elevation map will show you where increases and decreases are scattered throughout the trail, and pictures will help you anticipate the type of views and terrain you’ll likely experience.

Below these images, you will see a list of important figures. This will include trail length, the percentage of the trail that is runnable, ascent and descent footage, the average and maximum grades, and the highest and lowest elevation points. Below that, you’ll see the forecast, and below that, you’ll see other runners’ reviews, photos, and favorite features.

I’ve been using this project to branch out of my usual running routine, and you should too. Rather than sitting around on the computer looking for the perfect route, save your favorites and choose one at random. You’re bound to have an interesting and unique experience.


Why You Should Run the Utah Valley Marathon

Regardless of your location, marathons require months of intensive training, strict dieting, and a deep reserve of both physical and mental toughness. When it comes to choosing marathons and long-distances races, it makes sense that runners get a little picky. Races can be expensive, and they take months of physical and mental preparation. That said, some races are, objectively, better than others. That’s how we feel about the Clarke Capital Utah Valley Marathon in Provo. Here’s why this should be the marathon you choose this year.

It’s gorgeous. Sure, we’re talked about how beautiful it can be to run in Utah. But if you’re going to run 26.2 miles, you should do it somewhere with consistently spectacular views. That’s what this marathon can offer. The Utah Valley Marathon winds through Provo Canyon, providing a running tour of diverse scenery. You’ll see waterfalls, mountains, horses, rolling farmlands… everything Utah has to offer.

The post-race party is notoriously good. Every marathon has a post-race celebration, but the Utah Valley Marathon has really honed its craft. This race is sponsored by the likes of Cinnabon and Jamba Juice. Personally, the last thing I want after 26 miles is a warm beer—bring on the cinnamon buns. Plus, they have a PR Bell for PR setters to ring.

The entire course is downhill. No, really. It’s kind of crazy. Runners are bussed to the top of Provo Canyon at the start of the race. The entire 26.2 miles are run completely downhill, and the incline is gradual enough for you to save your legs the trouble of managing the decline. Over the course of the race, you’ll lose nearly 1,500 feet in altitude. This makes the race perfect for first timers and those looking for a new PR.

It’s your best shot to qualify for Boston. Anywhere between 14 and 19 percent of Clarke Capital Utah Valley Marathoners qualify for the Boston Marathon. This is significantly higher than the national average of 12%. The combination of downhill terrain and a nice, pushing tailwind help runners get their best times ever.


Trail Basics for Utah Runners

Utah is known for its diverse terrain, stunning landscapes, and bountiful recreational opportunities. Runners in the state nearly always have the option between paved suburban streets, city sidewalks, and beautiful, backcountry trails. Trail running, however, is slightly harder than other forms of running. I don’t recommend jumping into it without proper equipment and knowledge. So, here’s a list of trail running basics to review before you head out.

Hydrate in advance. Utah has a pretty high elevation, and you can’t always depend on thirst to alert you to dehydration. Drink enough plan water to dilute your urine to pale yellow or clear. If you can, bring along a water supply in a handheld bottle or a refillable armband.

Get your gear. Occasional trail runners can perform well in regular running shoes, but if you make a habit of the terrain, invest in a good pair of trail runners. The treat on these shoes is more aggressive, and most have a rock plate in the sole to protect your feet from sharp rocks.

Dress appropriately. Dress as you might for a day of hiking but remove one layer (you’re more likely to work up and sustain a sweat). Use durable and comfortable clothes in quick-dry fabrics. Also, opt for close-fitting clothing to reduce chafing, and pack a layer for stops or if unpredictable mountain weather shifts.

Choose your location. I personally love the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. It’s around 100 miles and tracks along the ancient shoreline of the Great Salt Lake. It has excellent views and there’s little chance of getting lost. I also love running and hiking in ski areas. The elevation generally means slightly cooler temperatures, and you can catch some of the best views in the state.

Have fun. Trail running is an entirely unique experience, and Utah is an excellent place to try it out. Remember to not get caught up in times or performance; trail running is a humbling experience. With enough patience and practice, you’ll be able to improve your form. For now, just focus on the experience itself.