Improve Your Running NOW!

Usually people who start up running after a hiatus will deal with injuries sooner than someone who stayed consistent with their training. We’ve been lucky enough to be blessed with runners as clients, so we know the trials and tribulations of a runners life.  We have high school cross country and track, Masters runners and your weekend road warriors that get personal training here at Critical Mass. Here are a few tips that we use for our clients.


Set small realistic distance goals. Thinking you can start at 3 miles (um um ELISE!) when you haven’t ran since last summer is asking for trouble. There is nothing to be ashamed about if you run for a .25 or .50 miles on your first day or even your first week. YOU NEED TO BUILD A FOUNDATION! Make the foundation strong and from there you should increase the volume week to week. There are many online programs that give you a nice progression for your runs. Tailor it to your specific goals and see how it works out for you!


This is like beating a dead horse but it has to be said. WARMING UP specifically for your run not only allows you to get into a good running pace early, but it will reduce the chance of injury. You can go to any local university and see that the runners do a very specific warm up, a dynamic warm up to be exact. A dynamic warm up excites the nervous system more so than static stretches. Hip mobility, hamstrings, ankles stability exercises and even some arm swings are focused on. Here are a few runner warm ups:


Whether it be a carb loading the night before or sucking down some liquid fats, you need to be fueled before you hit the road! Like NASCAR, your body needs to be running on the best fuel. Pop Tarts are not a  good fuel source, but you will see many high school aged kids snacking on these or other processed foods be fore a run. Realistically, athletes need energy from complex food sources that are from the Earth! That’s why its so important to stay on top of your nutrient intake. Not properly fueled can lead to poor performances and injury.


The top runners in the world have a diet that will make your head spin! Here is some guidelines to a runners diet:

The recommended rule for carbohydrates to follow per body weight is:

  • Highly intense training (more than 4 hours a day): 4.5-6 grams per pound
  • Medium training (1 hour daily): 2.3 – 3.2 grams per pound
  • Low training (less than an hour): 1.3 – 2.3 grams per pound

Protein recommendations are:

  • If you run an hour a day, you require 0.6 grams per pound of weight. This increases the longer you run.
  • If you are training for a marathon, you can start with a protein intake of 1.2 grams and increase this to 1.5 grams per body weight on the days you do intense training.

Fat recommendations:

  • Don’t be afraid of fats. Fats are a great fuel source and help produce hormones. It’s been found that runners who intake 30% of their daily calories from fat have less injury occurrence.
  • Healthy fat increase has contributed to increased muscle mass and inhibiting muscle breakdown for fuel.  Source.

Stimulant recommendations

Having a cup of joe (coffee) can help wake up the nervous system and get you geared for a hard run. Don’t over do it though. Caffeine is a diuretic. Too much can have adverse effects on performance. A safe dosage should be at least 40mg but no more than 100mg.

Water intake:

  • A Glass when you wake up
  • Only sips during a run
  • A Glass before you go to bed
  • A safe bet is .66 x body weight in ounces through out the day.



runners knee

Following a proper weight training program is essential in improving and sustaining a runners life. It has been shown that runners who strength train have a greater finishing kick than those who don’t weight train.  Weight lifting will help maintain good running form when fatigued which will help prevent injuries as well. Strengthening exercises should be the goal, not endurance type training. Save the endurance work for the road. Movements you want to master are the squats, Olympic lifts, any single leg movements and core strengthening exercises! Do not be afraid of bulking. If you are following a plan then it should be geared for performance not muscle size.

If you are at a loss on what you should be specifically doing in the weight room then contact Critical Mass. We do evaluations on strength, mobility and flexibility. From this we design a program that  can be tailored to your goals!




The Only Trend That MATTERS!

Do you keep up with new trends in the world of fitness? There always seems to be a headline proclaiming the latest and greatest trend, each promising to be the solution that you’ve always needed.

Of course, these trends pass with the seasons, quickly being replaced with something newer and more popular.

Today I’d like you to consider the only trend that really matters to your health and fitness progress: the trend of your own BEHAVIOR!

Here’s what I mean: Have you ever noticed how easy it is to do the same thing today as you did yesterday? This applies to both your activity level and your diet.

If you got up at 5am yesterday to get in a workout, then getting up at 5am again today is going to be pretty easy. However, if you slept in until 7am yesterday then getting up at 5am today is going to be much more difficult.
If you ate pizza and beer for dinner last night, then eating pizza and beer (or a burger and fries) is going to feel pretty natural. However, if you ate grilled chicken and broccoli for dinner last night, then eating a salad and grilled fish for dinner is going to feel easy.

Remember learning about inertia in school? Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion. This has incredible application to your fitness journey.

The longer you can maintain a healthy fitness trend in your own behavior, the easier it will become to maintain that trend. Isn’t that great?!

This simple concept, of maintaining your own daily fitness trend, is the way to continue towards your goal, to avoid setbacks, and to maintain your forward momentum.

So the next time that you see a flashy headline about the latest fitness trend, simply smile to yourself and focus on keeping your own daily fitness progress on track.

Want accountability? Critical Mass would love to help you! Give us call or shoot us an email and let’s get you on track to shed some major fat before summer! CONTACT US HERE!

Common Running Injuries

The Jersey Shore has so many places to run, from the parks, streets and board walks. With warmer weather comes the motivation to get outside and shed off some winter weight.  It’s a great idea to get the body moving and although there are many overall health benefits from running there is equally as many chances of getting injured.  The repetitive nature with running can wear down muscles, tendons, joints and bones.  Here at Critical Mass in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, we deal with some HS runners and Masters runners and it’s pretty obvious to us what happens when:

  • running on a hard surface
  • not warming up properly
  • not eating enough to fuel your runs
  • not resting enough to recover/rebuild the body
  • not following a progressive strength/weightlifting adaption program
  • not following a progressive running adaption program

Each of the above bullet points can set you back weeks and maybe even months on the path to dominate your running workouts!

Overall the biggest complaint with running is knee pain.

“Be Kind to Your Knees, You’ll Miss Them When They are GONE!”

The most prevalent cause of knee pain is the PatelloFemoral Pain Syndrome (PPS). PPS occurs on the front of the knee. Think of it as tendinitis. Little tears accompanied by inflammation.  Fun stuff.  Did you know that performing slow eccentric barbell squats (with weight) can help alleviate the pain and help promote healing? Don’t be afraid of lifting as a runner.  It’s essential for success.

The next common injury is the Iliotibial Band Syndrome, which is the pain you would feel radiate on the outside of the leg/knee. This could travel from the hip all the way down to the outside of the knee.  Performing active release or for the cheaper athlete, self foam rolling the area can help reduce pain and promote normalized locomotion.  If you plan on running for life… foam rolling will be a part of your warm up.  Trust me it will!

Other problems that can flare up are Achilles Tendinitis and Plantar Fascitis.  Achilles Tendinitis is the pain you would feel at the back of the heel and can travel up into the calf.  This can be devastating if you tear it.  You would be living the CRUTCH life and your arm pits will not appreciate that!  The Achilles would 1) need rest 2) need ice 3) need a few treatments of active release within the calf to help reduce the tension and irritation you would feel at the back of the heel.  Plantar Fascitis is the muscle that runs along the bottom of the foot. Want to warm that up? Roll a lacrosse ball under your foot and after running; roll it out again on a frozen water bottle.

I come across many athletes that experience shin splints and not just runners.  Anything with repetitive running, start stops and playing surface can jack up your bony shins. The scientific name is called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome and are small stress fractures.  These can be painful as all HELL!  Always ice the shins after a run.  Get a dixie cup, add water, freeze.  After frozen, peel off some of the top of the cup revealing the ice.  Hold the cup by the bottom and run that bad boy over and over your shins.  Better yet, get a 30 gallon trash can, add water and ice, and then submerge your legs in it for 10-15 minutes!

These are the main culprits that can limit your running.  There are many more that can hinder your progress from hip flexor issues, hip joint issues, hamstring issues, lower back/SI Joint issues. The list goes on.  At some point something will go.  It’s going to be up to you to limit this from happening and when it does, know the proper way to recover.

How can you decrease your chances of getting these injuries?  You have to realize that you will get them at some point.  Your job is to listen to the body and give it:

  • PROPER NUTRITION (Make sure you are eating enough food that will help fuel your workouts and recover from them!)
  • WEIGHT TRAINING (Do I need to go into this? The best runners in the world follow a weight lifting progam)
  • PREHAB EXERCISES & TREATMENT (This could be warming up before a run, stretching/running drills/foam roll)
  • POST INJURY TREATMENT (Active Release Therapy, icing, CryoTherapy, proper cool downs)
  • MEDICATIONS (Pain relievers like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • EQUIPMENT (choosing the proper shoe, taping, possibly orthotics. Check out our neighbors at Road Runner Sports in Shrewsbury NJ or Runners High in Freehold and Metuchen NJ )
  • REST! (Alternating running surfaces, taking rest days, getting enough sleep, cutting down mileage)