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#1 Exercise Routine that Every Runner Should Know: Prevent Injuries, Eliminate Pain, Run Forever!

by Janae Richardson

*Article originally featured in Run Utah Magazine Spring Edition 2018.  Click HERE to download Full PDF version of the Magazine.

In 1996, Paul Pilkington found himself in Mexico.  By this point in Paul’s running career, he had made quite a name for himself.  Originally from a small town in Idaho, Paul had run track at Southern Idaho and then eventually at Weber State in Ogden, UT, where he earned All-American honors in the steeplechase.  After college he began teaching and coaching and supplemented his teacher salary by winning prize money in road races. He stepped onto the world-class scene when he won both the Houston Marathon in 1990 and the Los Angeles marathon in 1994.  He ultimately ended up being a four-time Olympic Trials qualifier and in 1995 was a member of the United States Track and Field Team representing the United States at the World Championships in Gothenburg Sweden. At this point in his career, Paul had gone to Mexico to train with Mark Plaatjes, who was the World Champion in the marathon in 1993.  Both of them were training hard as they prepared for the next marathon Olympic Trials. As they met up on this one particular day for another intense training session, Paul couldn’t help but complain to his training partner about the pain in his hamstring that had been lingering for several days now. Mark, who was also a physical therapist, said he had a hip alignment exercise that many were using in their PT clinics that would maybe help.  So, he had Paul lay down on this back while he pulled and tugged on his leg in a few unique ways before having Paul stand back up. Paul felt some immediate relief in his hamstring and within a few days everything felt back to normal.

Image: Paul Pilkington, WSU Head Coach

Today as a UtahRunning.com Expert and Weber State’s Head Coach, Paul Pilkington makes this simple exercise apart of his team’s everyday routine. “I have each runner on the team check their hip alignment before we start practice and make adjustments if we need to. Then, we do core strengthening exercises to help prevent the hip misalignment from happening in the future,” Paul says.  “The longer a runner’s hips are out of alignment before they are fixed the easier it is for them to slip out of place again, so we check it often.”

I was fortunate enough to be coached by Paul Pilkington during my time competing at Weber State University and therefore was exposed to this magical hip alignment exercise.  I’ve also picked up some modifications and additions to the hip alignment exercise from UtahRunning Expert and Positional Release Therapist Dr. Tim Speicher (Positional Release Therapy Institute in South Ogden, DPT Jeremy Stoker (Mountain Land Physical Therapy), and PT Missy Allred (UtahRunning.com Elite Racing Team member and Ogden High Head Distance Coach).  I’ve shared it with many of my running friends and athletes I’ve coached.  Thus, the hip alignment trick continues to be passed on from runner to runner.  It isn’t a fix all, but it is a very smart place to start when you have pain in the body.

So what causes this hip misalignment and the pain associated with it?  

 Image Source: https://www.vivehealth.com/blogs/resources/si-joint-pain

Usually the root of the problem stems from weakness in the core stabilizing muscles.  As runners we have strong muscles when it comes to the muscles that play a dominant role in propelling us forward, but the stabilizing muscles used more prominently with side to side movements get neglected.  When hip misalignment occurs, it usually manifests itself as a feeling of heaviness or a dull ache in the low back and glutes. It can also cause tightness and pain in the hamstrings, glute area, and the groin. The cause is usually the result of a rotation or an upslip in the sacroiliac joint. The sacroiliac joint or SI joint is where the sacrum and iliac bones meet.  The sacrum is the triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the spine between the left and right iliac bones, which form the pelvis. The SI joints’ function is to absorb shock, support the weight of the upper body, and reduce pressure on the spine.

Source: https://survivingchronicillness.weebly.com/injuries

How Do I Perform the Hip Alignment Exercise?

Here is how it works. The push and pull on the muscles during this exercise uses the muscles to naturally pull the bones and joints of this area back into their correct position.  In fact, don’t be alarmed if you feel or hear some popping in your joints. This is a good thing. It means they are moving to the position they should be in.

Steps of the Exercise: [or check out VIDEO above]

  1. Have athlete lay on their back.
  2. Athlete then bends knees and places feet flat on ground shoulder width apart, then bridges up by lifting hips to the sky. Then athlete drops hips back down; legs flat to ground.
  3. Then grab both of athlete’s legs by the ankles and pull their legs toward you, sliding them slightly on the ground.  Apologize for giving them a slight wedgy and then continue on. ;-)
  4. Put your thumbs over the inside or medial ankle bone and see if your thumbs line up.  If they do not, then the athlete’s hips are out of alignment and you should proceed with the hip alignment exercise.  (I usually do the exercise anyway if they are having the symptoms, because sometimes the rotation of the SI joint is such that it doesn’t always manifest itself as a leg length discrepancy).
  5. Raise knees so feet are off the ground and there is a 90 degree angle at the knees and hips.  Then push on one leg and pull on the other while the athlete resists. Hold for 10 seconds, release and rest for a few seconds, and repeat a total of three times.
  6. Then have athlete put feet on ground, shoulder width apart. Push against outside of knees and have athlete push out.  Hold for ten seconds and release. Then push athlete’s knees from the inside out while athlete squeezes legs together.  Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat a total of three times.
  7. Lastly have athlete straighten legs and squeeze ankles against your legs for 10 seconds, release, and repeat a total of three times.
  8. Then pull on legs again and check ankle bones to see if they are lined up.



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4 Things to Know Ahead of the Boston Marathon 2018

Monday, April 16th, runners will take to the streets, running through 8 different cities and towns, on their way to Copley Square: the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Here’s what you need to know:

The Women’s Field – Following a win at the New York Marathon last year, Shalane Flanagan put off her retirement to prepare for the 2018 Boston Marathon. She has generously shared her journey back to health (following a stress fracture in her back) with the public, as well as her desire to take care of some unfinished business in her hometown race. The United States Women’s field is particularly strong this year, with Jordan Hasay, Desi Linden, and Molly Huddle joining Flanagan. Because the London Marathon is soon after, some of the international competition will not be present at the Boston Marathon. Kipligat will still be there to defend her title, however.

The Men’s Field – Galen Rupp and Geoffrey Kirui, 2nd and 1st finishers from last year’s Boston Marathon, will square off again. Both athletes have had a successful past year, and are showing signs of being faster, healthier, smarter racers. Rupp won the Chicago Marathon this past fall, and ran his fastest ever 13.1 at the Rome Half Marathon in 59:47 (only 4 seconds off of the American record). Kirui added a another marathon to his trophy case last year when he gapped second place by 80 seconds at the World Championships Marathon. As well, the rest of the men’s field is quite deep, offering up plenty of challengers. Depending on conditions, it could be anyone’s race.

Weather – As it goes with many spring races, weather can be a definite factor in athlete performance. This year, accuweather is reporting wind, rain, and temperatures ranging from the mid 40’s into the low 50’s. Winds will be heading out of the east to southeast, 15-30 MPH, which will likely be a headwind for a majority of the course as it winds west to east/northeast. Runners prepared for these conditions will have an edge over their fair weather counterparts.

How to Watch – Live coverage will begin at 6:30 am Mountain time on NBC Sports. LocalCBS Boston will also provide a live stream online beginning at 5:00 am Mountain time.

Want to read more about the race? Check out more coverage from Flotrack here. Are you running Boston? Share your experience and photos with us HERE on Facebook!

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by on Apr.14, 2018, under Utah Running

College Highlights Fall/Winter 2017

Nothing makes us Utahns more proud than to see many of our Utah collegiate cross country programs competitive in the Mountain Region AND busting into the NCAA national rankings.  We’re excited to share some of the top individual and team results from the NCAA National XC Championships in this RUN UTAH article.

NCAA Cross Country Championships
Louisville, KY
November 18, 2017


On the Women’s side, out of the 31 teams that competed in the NCAA Championship, the BYU women’s team was the top Utah team to cover the 6K course.  They finished in 11th place with Utah State not far behind in 14th place.  Heading into the championship race the BYU women were ranked 14th and the Utah State women were ranked 19th.


Photo Source: @racin__grayson

From soccer player, to walk on runner, to all-american, Grayson Murphy’s running story is one of inspiration.  Burnt out with college soccer, Grayson switched schools and walked on Santa Clara’s track team.  Even with knowing very little about the sport, over time she developed a true talent for it.  All of her hard work, patience, and persistence paid off as she walked away from the NCAA meet 8th place overall, earning all-american honors, and representing the University of Utah team so honorably.  She covered the 6K course in 19:36, which is an average pace of 5:15 per mile.

Going into the NCAA Championships, the BYU men were ranked 2nd and the SUU team was ranked 19th.  Northern Arizona’s strong men’s team dominated the competition with a first place finish and a total team score of 74 points.  BYU got edged out for second place by Portland who finished with 127 points to BYU’s  165 team points.  SUU finished ahead of their season rankings with an 11th place finish and Utah State snagged a 27th place finish.


Dillon Maggard, a senior for Utah State, ran a phenomenal race to finish 6th place at the NCAA XC Championships.  He covered the 10K course in 29:16, which is an average pace of 4:42 per mile.

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Challenges to Eating During the Holidays

The Holidays are a fun time of year to enjoy family, friends and yes food.  However; for many people (athletes included) this time of year marks the beginning of a two-month long Holiday eating season (Halloween-New Year’s) that can end up in a few unwanted pounds.

In addition to the abundance of food that is available, runners may also be cutting back on mileage during the winter season.  Many runners I have worked with can hide poor eating habits with higher calorie needs.  When the holiday eating season begins, it is very difficult to manage eating.  

Besides being organized and planning meals, there are a few other ways you can prepare yourselves for the holidays.  Here is what I think are some of the challenges we face during the holidays:

1. Exposure to Challenging Foods

If you can, keep these foods out of sight.  The more times you have to see the food, the more likely you are to eat it.  You can also keep foods in the freezer or some place that isn’t easily accessible.  Even at the office, see if you can manage to avoid the “food room” or have co-workers bring goodies in unclear containers.  Seeing the food is most of the battle.  

Pre-package foods- putting some foods into smaller containers or snack baggies can help avoid the decision about “how much”.  Examples might be chex mix (1/2-1 cup servings), nuts (1/4 cup), cookies- 2/bag, etc.  

2. Stress

Many people cope with anxiety and stress by overeating.  Notice when you are stressed, this is not the time to clean the kitchen.  Avoid places where food is prevalent until you are in a more relaxed state.

Boredom can also be a form of stress to many people.  It is hard for many athletes to relax.  Do try to make time for “doing nothing”.  With practice, it becomes easier.  Catch up on some training books you have been wanting to read!

3. Expectation of overeating

It doesn’t feel good to overeat.  Don’t let people push food on you, set your boundaries.  

Make sure if you are attending multiple eating activities to pace yourself, you do have control over what you eat, quantity may be your best friend.  Go for smaller portions and notice how good it can feel to avoid overeating.  

4. Getting too hungry

Because of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, some athletes find they skip meals or snacks and then are too hungry to make good food decisions.  To help stabilize blood sugar, eat foods that contain fat, fiber or protein.  Healthy fat is found in peanut butter, nuts, avocados, salad dressings, oils (this food group is also high in calories so a little goes along way).  Protein is found in meat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and beans.  Fiber is found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.

Start breakfast with a good dose of protein found in dairy, eggs or nuts.  Fiber is also found in oatmeal, whole wheat bread and high fiber cereals (those with 5 or more grams of fiber/serving).  

Lunch and dinner can also include a vegetable plus a whole grain and fruit.  

Here are a few of my favorite holiday recipes that I enjoy making this time of year.  


Healthy Chex Party Mix


¼ cup of canola oil (or olive)

5 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

2 2/3 cup Corn Chex

2 2/3 cup Rice Chex

2 2/3 cup Wheat Chex

2 cups nuts (peanuts, mixed nuts, walnuts)

1 cup pretzels

  1. Set oven at 250 degrees.
  2. Place cereals, nuts and pretzels in roasting pan.
  3. Combine oil and seasonings, pour over cereal mixture in roasting pan, and stir to coat evenly.
  4. Bake 1 hour; stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool.
  5. Store in large plastic zip-lock bag.

Makes 12 cups


White Chicken Chili


4 cups chicken broth

2 (19-ounce) can cannelloni beans (or white kidney beans), drained and divided

1 (16-ounce) can white navy beans, drained and divided

4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

1 cup chopped onion

1 (16-ounce) package frozen white corn

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained

1 tsp. Ground cumin

¾ tsp. Dried oregano

¼ tsp. Ground red pepper

  1. Place 1 cup broth, 1 cup cannelloni beans, and ½ cup navy beans, in container of a food processor, cover and process until smooth.
  2. Place bean mixture, remaining broth, remaining cannelloni beans, remaining navy beans, chicken and remaining ingredients in a Dutch oven or soup pot.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.
  3. Ladle chili into individuals bowls.

Makes 8 (1 ¼ cup servings)

Nutrition Facts per serving: 311 calories, 4 grams fat, 1.0 grams saturated fat, 33grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 365 mg sodium.

Recipe from Low-Fat Ways to Cook One-Dish Meals by Susan McIntosh, M.S., RD.


Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce*


Serves 8

8 medium Granny Smith apples or other tart cooking apples, cut into fourths (peeled or unpeeled)

2/3-cup sugar

¾ cup apple juice

1 Tablespoons margarine, melted

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Mix all ingredients in 3.5-6 quart slow cooker.
  1. Cover and cook on high heat setting 1-½ hours to 2 hours or until apples begin to break up.  Stir well to break up larger pieces of apples.
  2. Serve warm or chilled.  To chill, cool about 2 hours, then spoon sauce into container; cover and refrigerated until chilled.

* Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Julie Hansen – M.S., R.D.N, C.S.S.D., C.D.

Julie Hansen is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Exercise Physiologist.  She is also a Certified Intuitive eating Counselor and a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.   Julie has been working in this field for over 30 years and she loves it.

Her experience providing nutrition counseling and exercise prescription enables her to help a variety of clients, from competitive to recreational athletes;  from individuals wanting to lose or gain weight and from those of you with eating disorders.  I use the Intuitive Eating principles in all of my counseling.


  • Running- 5K to Marathon distances including Boston.  Master’s Track-middle distance
  • Triathlons- Sprint distance
  • Course records- Triathlon-Huntsman Senior Games


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Interview with Aaron Fletcher: STG Marathon Record Breaker

RUN UTAH: Tell us a little bit about your running background.  How did you get started into the sport of running?

AARON: I ran my first race as a seventh grader when my middle school track team needed someone to run the mile. I had previously played all kinds of sports and knew I was pretty fast and had some decent endurance, so I volunteered. At the time my family was living in Washington State, but we moved to Anchorage, Alaska before I entered High School. I ran cross country and track and Nordic skied on my high school’s teams and loved it, especially the cross country skiing! I really grew up on the mountains and trails of Anchorage.

RUN UTAH: What are some of your high school highlights/accomplishments?  How did you make the decision to run for BYU?

AARON: In High School I was an eight time Alaska state runner up in events ranging from the 4×800 relay to cross country. I happened to be in the same grade as Trevor Dunbar, who now runs professionally for Nike and he was always able to beat me when it mattered. Because he was so good, I really focused on Nordic skiing my senior year and ended up finishing in the top 20 in two distances at the US Junior XC Skiing Nationals. I was a member of four state championship ski teams and one state championship cross country running team.

I was not recruited to run at any colleges, and decided to come down to BYU for school because of religious, academic, and family reasons. I started running about 70 miles a week the summer after my senior year after never previously breaking 30 in a week and tried out for the BYU cross country team when I arrived in Provo that fall.

RUN UTAH: Tell us about your experience running for BYU and being coached by Olympian Ed Eyestone?  What years did you compete and could you share some of your college highlights?

AARON: I loved running for BYU. It was a big transition for me as it is for most guys as they come from being the big dog on their high school teams to barely surviving workouts in college. Coach Eyestone was great- he gave me a chance to develop and grow and I learned  so much from his training philosphies and ideas. I came into BYU knowing next to nothing about serious running training, and now I can write my own workouts and training plans. I really iwe that knowledge to Ed and his experience at all levels of running.

I ran for BYU from August 2009 to December 2010, and then from December 2012 to June 2016. In that time I was a member of three conference championship teams, earned first team all conference and all Mountain Region honors twice, was an NCAA Finalist and 2nd Team All-American in the steeplechase in 2016, won the Weather Coast Conference cross country championship as an individual in 2015, and was a member of the 2013 BYU Cross Country team that finished on the podium at NCAAs. I also finished as the 6th fastest steeplechase runner in BYU history, an event that BYU had a long history of excellence in.

RUN UTAH: You were primarily a steeplechaser in college, but you have jumped into some longer road races.  Tell us about that transition.  How did you know what direction you wanted to pursue with running after college?

AARON: I missed the 2016 Olympic Trials in the steeplechase by less than half a second, which was a major disappointment for me after putting in a lot of work towards that goal. I wanted to do something different for a while, so in 2016 I ran three Spartan Obstacle Course races, finishing 17th at their world championships and winning their team championships. After doing that for a year, I felt ready to get back into just running again.

I have always known that I would transition to longer races after college. I ran the steeplechase because I loved the event, but my favorite workouts were always tempo-style long runs (15-18 miles starting at 6:00 pace and finishing around 5:20 pace per mile). I was also used to running 100 miles a week already, so it was really an easy transition to make.

RUN UTAH: You have had a phenomenal 2017 racing season.  Winning and setting the course record in four Utah races (Timp Trail Marathon, Elephant Rock Trail Run, Top of Utah Half Marathon, and St George Marathon).  Setting the course record at the Top of Utah Half in August with a time of 1:04:46, 24 seconds faster than the previous course record, was huge.  Can you speak to your training leading up to this half marathon, your expectations heading into the race, and your thoughts and feelings after your performance?      

AARON: The half marathon was a big surprise to me, as I didn’t feel I was in that great of shape leading up to it. I was hoping to run in the 1:06 range which would indicate I was on track to be in contention at St. George, my primary race for the year. Because it wasn’t my main focus for the fall, I trained through TOU half. The Tuesday before TOU I did a ten mile tempo run at about 5:05 per mile average, so I was feeling pretty fit but I was certainly surprised by how easy it felt the first few miles of the race. Finishing under 1:05 was a very encouraging result!

RUN UTAH: We are all so impressed by your recent performance at the St George Marathon –2:14:44, beating the rest of the field by almost 3 minutes and shattering the previous record by over a minute (previously held by Bryant Jensen with a 2:15:56 in 2013).  What led you to your decision to compete in the St. George Marathon? What were your thoughts going into this race?  Tell us how the race played out and how it feels to have the fastest marathon time on that course.

AARON: The St. George Marathon is a great event. I chose it as my debut road marathon because it is the most  competitive marathon in Utah most years and it is close to home so I didn’t have to take much time off work (I live in Salt Lake Right now). The beautiful course, prizes and great organization didn’t hurt either!

I came in to the race pretty confident that I could win and challenge the course record based off of the Top of Utah Half and my training. I tend to get very analytical with race planning, and my Excel spreadsheets told me to expect a time in the 2:15 range.

Being new to marathoning I wanted to get out and run in a field I would be close to the front in, but still have some competition to push me. I ended up leading from mile 5 to the finish, so that didn’t work out exactly how I wanted but I’m obviously thrilled with how the race played out. I went out conservatively in about 1:08:40 at the half, and then really pushed the next ten miles really hard as I had planned before the race. On the steep downhill section right after halfway I was splitting close to 4:40 per mile. I really started hurting at mile 23, and had to really hang on mentally to get to the finish. I was so glad to be done! It felt very validating to get that record after so much hard work in training.

As a side note, I’m pretty sure that was also the fastest marathon time ever run in Utah on any course.

RUN UTAH: What do you feel like have been some key components in your running success?  What workouts or aspects of your training do you feel best prepared you for the marathon distance?  

AARON: Long tempo runs like the one I mentioned above and using staple Eyestone workouts like fatigued mile repeats and marathon pace runs. I’ve been able to make some more personal adjustments to my training since I left BYU, and those have helped a lot as well. For example, I now really only do one speed workout a week oustside of my long run instead of the typical two. I feel like it helps me get the maximum benefit out of those workouts. I also do as much mileage as I can in six runs a week and do as few doubles as I can. That means lots of 12-18 mile runs in the middle of the week.

RUN UTAH: What now?  What goals and aspirations do you have from here?  Are you looking to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon?

AARON: I will be shooting for the Olympic Trials marathon in 2018, probably at the Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota in June. I am also planning on running more trail races and possibly building up to the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler next November. My next race is the Red Hot 55k in Moab in February. I am really motivated by high competition levels and setting records, so I’m going to seek out some more national level competition this year.

RUN UTAH: Is there any additional advice you would give to other aspiring runners?

AARON: The number one thing I tell people who want to improve their running is to run more! Intervals, weight training, tempo runs, etc are all good but can only do so much if you haven’t put in the mileage. It is also crucial to be consistent. Doing one really big week of running and then not running much over the next two weeks really doesn’t do you much good. High mileage is the secret to running improvement.


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Race Week: How to Best Prepare for Race Day

by Lisa VanDyke


My last big race of the season is just about here, and although I have dealt with the “taper jitters” pretty well up until now, the week before always proves to be tricky from a mental standpoint. There is an aspect of controlling one’s destiny when it comes to race training that is both stressful and empowering. The adage, “You get out of it what you put into it,” comes to mind. When the proverbial hay is in the barn, a runner is left to realize that their part is almost done, and some aspects of race day are left up to the whims of the universe. (Queue the incessant checking of race day weather and phobias of race day illness.) So what is a runner to do with themselves the week before a race?

  • Visualize yourself running the race. See yourself crossing the finish line and meeting your goals! (If you haven’t done so already, give yourself an A, B, and C goal)
  • Study the course. Get familiar with aid station locations, etc.
  • Prepare your clothing, accessories, shoes, bib, etc. for race day.
  • Eat what has worked for you throughout training, paying special attention to getting enough carbohydrates two days prior to your race. Be careful not to over-stuff yourself the day before the race. See more about what to eat before your race here.
  • Hydrate all week!
  • Get a full night’s sleep during the week leading up to the race.
  • Stick to your routine – nothing new before race day.

Lisa VanDyke – UTR Club Captain | Runner | Boston Qualifier
My name is Lisa VanDyke. I am a mother of three who spends any moment I can sneak away indulging my passion for running. I discovered running only about 8 years ago, at first for stress relief, then to get fit, and much later on to push my own boundaries. My first race was the Strider’s half marathon in 2013. I stuck with the half distance for some time, racing as well as pacing for a local pacing company, but by late 2014 I needed something different to challenge myself with, and I registered for the Ogden Marathon 2015. Training for this race was my first experience with a structured training plan including speed, tempo, and long runs. I loved the training equally as much as I loved running the race. Ogden got my a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon 2016, which became my second marathon. This great sport continues to feed my need for growth, camaraderie, and adventure.

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by on Oct.05, 2017, under Racing, Training, Utah Running

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