Running Clubs & Performance Tips

GF1Last week, we reviewed a progressive Learn to Run Program to help get you ready for the local Boston-qualifying APPLETREE Marathon, Half Marathon and Sunset 5K on Sept 15th & 16th that will have thousands of runners and walkers participating from around the Northwest and across the country.

We are so fortunate in Clark County that we have many opportunities to run or walk on trails away from traffic including the Salmon Creek Trail, the Discovery Trail, the Padden Parkway Trail, the Columbia River Waterfront Trail, the Frenchmans Bar/Vancouver Lake Trial, the Lacamas Lake and Round Lake Trail System, the Battleground Lake Trail system and the Washougal Waterfront Trail.

We are also so fortunate because there are many local running clubs that can provide inspiration, motivation and support to help you train, reach your best and race to the finish line.

Vancouver Run, Grub and Chug Club

This group meets every Thursday night at 6:45pm at Ester Short Park at the Clock Tower in downtown Vancouver for a 5K along the waterfront. They also meet every Saturday at 10am choosing a different destination exposing their club members to various running trails and social experiences. “Chuggers” finish each run with good food and drink! This group, led by Jonathon Hokama, is a spirited, fun, supportive and inspirational group. The best news is that this club is FREE! You can’t get any better than this incredible group.

Clark County Runners Club

This group meets every Saturday and also on Wednesday nights during the summer exposing participants to new routes and friendly competition. The cost to join this club is only $10 per year! This club is lead by inspirational Russ Zornick and attracts many fast and experienced runners as well as those new to the sport.

Vancouver Fit 

This group meets every Saturday and provides training and support for those tackling a local Half or Full Marathon.

Fleet Feet 14-Week Training Program for APPLETREE

Fleet Feet is hosting a distance training clinic to help you prepare for the APPLETREE Half or Full Marathon. Coaches and proper training will be the focus at this clinic.

In addition to aligning with one of these groups, follow the guidelines below to assure your best performance and least risk for injury.

  • Try not to run 2 days in a row if possible. Running exposes your body to a lot of impact and it is helpful to allow your body time to recover in between running workouts, especially if you are prone to injury.
  • Allow for one full recovery day per week. It doesn’t mean you have to lay around watching TV and eating bon bons all day, but it’s a good idea to have one day a week when you aren’t concerned about getting into your training zone and instead, allow your body a day’s rest from impact and intensity.
  • Invest in a good pair of running shoes and consult with an expert to help determine the right shoe for your body. Check out this column where I discuss in the details to getting the right running shoe for you.
  • If possible, run on packed, level dirt, trails, or grass, which are a lot easier on your body. If running through the city, paved roads (asphalt) are easier on your legs than concrete sidewalks (cement). Just watch for traffic and always run in the opposite direction of cars so you can react if needed.
  • Before you begin any run or run/walk workout, start with a 6-12 minute walk. This will allow your heart rate and breathing rate to increase gradually, your body temperature to rise and prepare your muscles for the workout.
  • Once you’ve completed your warm-up, complete the following dynamic joint movements to take your lower body joints through their full range of motion in a slow, controlled fashion.
    • Start with one leg in front of the other. Raise the back heel up onto your toes and contract the calf.  Repeat 10-15x.
    • Now lift the entire back foot off the floor and contract the glute (buttock).  Repeat 10-15x
    • Now lift the back heel towards the buttocks and contract the hamstrings (back of the thigh).  Repeat 10-15x.
    • Now lift the knee forwards and contract the quads (front of thigh).  Repeat 10-15x.
    • Now hold your knee up and balance while doing 10 ankle circles one way and then the other way.
    • Repeat this sequence on the other leg.
    • Then perform a 20 fast toe taps on each leg and 20 heel raises.
  • You’re now ready to start your workout.  Ease into your training zone.
  • Finish each workout with a 6-12 minute walk to cool down the body and flush out the legs, which helps with recovery.
  • Once you have completed each workout including warm-up and cool-down, be sure you save enough time to lengthen and release. This is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your chances of experiencing injuries and to aid in the recovery process.  I will provide you with some specifics in a later column so stay tuned.
  • Implement muscle strength and endurance training into your program.  As you run, the muscles of your lower body absorb the forces. As your muscles fatigue, they lose their shock absorbing abilities and the forces are absorbed more through your bones and joints. If you strength train, your muscles become stronger, are better able to absorb impact, take longer to fatigue and are better able to generate greater force leading to faster running speeds. The ability of a muscle to resist fatigue helps reduce the incidence of injury. Research has shown the areas that suffer the largest amount of stress include the feet, the shins, the knees and the hip. Therefore, a specific program that addresses these areas must be followed if long-term running is a goal. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a great deal of time in the weight room to experience these benefits.  All you’ll need to do is 1 set of 8-20 reps of a variety of exercises two times per week. This equates to about 30-60 minutes a few times a week. If you do not have a personalized weight training program, we strongly encourage you to invest in a few sessions with a trainer, so they can design a program for you. This will ensure you’re not wasting any time during your workouts. I will also provide some important running specific exercises for you in a future column so you can look forward to that.
  • Incorporate cross training into your program.  I’d rather see an exerciser run 3x/week and compliment their program with swimming, cycling, resistance training and fitness classes rather than run 6x/week. Cross training will maintain a greater balance to your program and your body and keep your program exciting.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Note:  As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started.  Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.


pacific crest1Join us for the PACIFIC CREST ENDURANCE SPORTS FESTIVAL  June 22nd – 24th.

The 22nd Annual Pacific Crest Endurance Sports Festival has something for everyone including the 72.3 BEASTMAN, Olympic & Ultra-Sprint Distance Triathlon/Duathlon/AquaBike, Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K/10K, 28K & 50K Trail Run, Bike Tours & Kids Races! Plus Sunriver is the most amazing active, fun resort-town ever! Rally your friends & family for an incredible RACE-cation!



Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at

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