Strengthen Your Glutes – Improve Your Running

Two years ago, I came home from a long run with a mysteriously swollen knee.  My doctor told me to take a lot of ibuprofen and quit running for six weeks.  Not liking that answer, I sought out a physical therapist.

It turned out that I needed to strengthen my glutes.  It could have been muscle loss due to the natural aging process or dead butt syndrome (when the glutes stop firing correctly), or maybe both.  But either way, my weak glutes were causing a host of running problems.

After two weeks of following the exercises prescribed by my physical therapist, I started running again.  After three months of  doing the exercises, I noticed my knees felt no pain, my back didn’t hurt, my body wasn’t as stiff in the mornings, and I ran faster with less effort.

Elephant Glutes

Why Strong Glutes are Important

The glutes are one of the largest and strongest muscle groups in the body.  They are made up of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.  Please refer to the pictures below from my old anatomy book.

Together, they provide pelvic stability, forward propulsion, internal and external rotation of the thigh, and help your leg move away from the body (abduction), and move your thigh toward the body (adduction).

Basically, glutes provide stability and power.  If glutes are weak, other less powerful parts of the body tend to compensate which can result in poor mechanics resulting in injuries such as Patellofemoral syndrome (runner’s knee), IT band syndrome, and Achilles tendinitis.

How to Strengthen Your Glutes

Below are pictures demonstrating my four favorite glute exercises prescribed by my physical therapist.

  •  I call the first exercise “Marching Bridge.”  This is a great place to start building glute strength.

Start in bridge pose.  Be sure to keep your hips lifted throughout the exercise.

Lift one leg up and and then back down.  This is one repetition.

Start with 5 sets of 5 on each leg.  Work up to 3 sets of 10 on each leg.  Do these exercises every day until you build strength and then back down to 3 days a week if you like.

  • I call the second exercise “Up and Down Bridge.”  This exercise is more advanced and I didn’t start doing it until I practiced the first exercise for a few months.  If this exercise is difficult, you have weak glutes.   Do the first exercise until you are strong enough for this one.

Start in bridge pose with  hips high and one leg straight.

Lower hips to the ground and then raise hips back up to starting position.  This is one repetition.

Depending on what is comfortable for you, try 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions on each leg.

  • The third exercise is the Single Leg Dead Lift.

Stand tall with feet together.

Reach/hold the dumb bell the opposite arm to opposite leg (i.e., right arm reaches toward left leg while right leg lifts).

Return to starting position.  This is one repetition.

Be sure to keep your abdominals tight during the exercise to protect your lower back.

If you are new to these exercises, start without any weight and do 5 sets of 5 on each leg.

Work up to 3 sets of 10 on each leg.

Then, add a 5-8 lb. dumb bell weight if you wish.

Hope this information helps.  Run strong, friends!

Diet and Running

The Problem

Here’s the honest truth. I got the stomach flu just before Thanksgiving, lost a couple of pounds, and made a pledge to keep those pounds off during the holiday season. One of the benefits of getting the stomach flu, right?

Then, my mom made Christmas cookies. “Freeze them so you don’t eat them and then you can take them to work for the holidays,” she said. Now, if I was a mature adult I would have done that. Turns out I discovered you can put a cookie or two in the microwave for a few seconds and it’s like fresh from the oven. It was downhill from there.Christmas Cookies

I went running this morning and felt like I was running through sludge. My usual aches and pains have been getting worse again, and the thought of running more than 3 miles right now stresses me out. It’s all my diet’s fault.

The Opportunity

Luckily, one of my friends from work reached out to me a few days ago and asked if I wanted to try a health and wellness system with her. She’s had remarkable success with it and is now coaching others. It’s called IsAGenix and consists of drinking two shakes per day with healthy snacks and a healthy dinner. I normally prefer to eat my food rather than drink it but I do like the ease of not having to plan anything and the shakes are made from high quality ingredients. Plus, I signed up for a spring marathon so I need to get myself in gear.

I told my friend, “Sure, I’ll try it and order a canister of shake mix.” She said perhaps I should get the cleanse pack too. That means not eating food for an entire day once a week. Seriously? I’m a runner. I need my energy.

My friend told me the nutritional cleanse is healthy for the whole body, gets easier over time, and afterwards she gets a burst of energy. I also asked my very intelligent acupuncturist what he thought about fasting. He agreed that it’s a good way for the body to get rid of toxins. So, as an experiment, I’m going to give it a try and report back on the results and how it affects running.

If you have any interest in starting a health and wellness system with me, please reach out. I’m ready to loose a few pounds, feel more energized, less stressed, and have fun running again. It’s simple, effective, and I’m so excited to make lasting changes in 2019. Want to try it with me?

If any of you are interested in trying IsAGenix, you can easily order it from their website or from Amazon, but I would also encourage you to email me at and we can get you a discount and free coaching and support.

Until next time, happy running!

Update on the Fast Metabolism Diet Experiment

Hi Friends!  Well, I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that I lost 5 pounds the first week I did the Fast Metabolism Diet.  The bad news is that I didn’t stick with it and gained all the weight back.


It was the social engagements on the weekends that threw me off.  At first, I was determined to not let it derail me and start over.  But after 3 weeks of re-starts, meal planning, and rule-following, I decided to just try to eat healthy and balanced on my own.

So far, that’s working pretty well.  I’ve been feeling good and running strong but the weight hasn’t come off like I would have hoped yet.  I guess this is what they call a “Non-Scale Victory (NSV).”

perfect figure

In sum, here are the pros of the Fast Metabolism Diet:

  • You feel great while you are on it and have lots of energy.
  • You really do lose weight.
  • You don’t feel starved since you’re eating so frequently.
  • The recipes are good, healthy, and usually have limited ingredients the whole family can enjoy.
  • The weekly planning isn’t terrible especially if you have the app.

The cons of the Fast Metabolism Diet:

  • You have to be really committed.  You are supposed to stick with it for 28 days and if you mess up, in theory you are supposed to start over in order to fully reset your metabolism.
  • It is difficult to be social and go out to eat while on this diet.
  • The extensive meal planning can be stressful if you’re not naturally inclined to do that all the time.

If any of you have tried this diet or other diets and found success or similar struggles, I’d love to hear your stories!  It would be great to hear what works for everyone.

Until next time, happy running!


How to Run and Lose Weight–Sounds Easy, But it’s Not

I started running, in part, because I was born with a good appetite and running allowed me to eat without feeling deprived. But the more I ran, the hungrier I got. I even gained weight while training for marathons, which isn’t all that uncommon. Not all of my running friends fall into this category wanting to know how to run and lose weight but some do.

My running journal says that generally for every pound of body weight you shed, you gain 2 seconds of speed per mile. Considering varying experiences with my weight and races, this is probably pretty accurate. On my 5’2″ frame, 5 to 7 pounds makes a big difference. Based on this equation, 5 extra pounds over the course marathon works out to be 4.37 minutes slower (or 4.37 minutes faster if you’ve lost weight).

Last spring, my husband and I did the Whole 30 diet and we stuck to it like glue. I ended up losing about 5 pounds which put me in a good position for my spring half-marathons.

But over the summer I trained for two sprint triathlons and my appetite went through the roof, like I was training for a marathon. I gained my 5 pounds back. What a paradox.

Paul to the Rescue

After a long run with my running group the other week, Paul asked how my run was. I told him it was okay but I wasn’t feeling my best because of the extra weight.

That’s when he told me about the Fast Metabolism Diet. Paul had taken a hiatus from running and was now training for a marathon and trying to lose weight too. The Fast Metabolism Diet says that if you follow the program you can lose up to 20 pounds in 28 days. Paul said that he lost 10 pounds in the first week!

On the Fast Metabolism Diet, you eat primarily fruit and carbs the first two days; then vegetables and protein the next two days; and finally a combination of fruit, carbs, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats for the last three days. Follow this sequence four times, which brings you to 28 days total. The premise is to jump start your metabolism by switching things up, much like with cross-training.

The creator of this diet, Haylie Pomroy, seems to have good credentials and experience to back up her theory. Some of it reminds me of Whole 30 because there are certain rules like no soy, dairy, wheat, corn, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol, and there is a lot of preparation.

Giving it a Try

To prepare for this new diet adventure, I spent hours planning out what to eat for this week and grocery shopping. It almost made me give up before I even started and just go back to the old-fashioned way of losing weight–just eat a little less.

To be fair, it isn’t any more work than anything else such as Whole 30 or Weight Watchers. I’m just not that into meal planning.

Grocery Shopping

The app is helpful though. It allows you to click on recipes from her cookbook and it automatically records how many fruits, carbs, vegetables, protein, etc. is in that recipe. It also creates a shopping list, which is helpful minus one caveat. The shopping list is organized by recipe rather than by produce, grains, meat, etc. so it’s hard to keep track of everything you need to get when you’re in the grocery store.

Today I spent time in the kitchen meal prepping for the week, which wasn’t as time-consuming as I thought it would be. I made steel cut oatmeal for the mornings, ground turkey for lunches this week, and a vegetable tomato sauce to go with rice pasta for dinner tomorrow night.

No Coffee??

Just to let you all know that the Fast Metabolism Diet says coffee is not allowed because it stresses your adrenal glands and the adrenal glands play a role in regulating blood sugar. Haylie Pomroy says caffeine pushes the body past its healthy state of energy, constantly stealing from your reserves, leaving you depleted and without resources for when you really need energy.


I plan to keep you posted on my progress with this diet and how it impacts running. However, coffee was allowed on Whole 30 and research has shown benefits of drinking coffee such as decreased risk for Type II diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, depression, and more. Plus, I’m just not ready to give it up yet. So, keep that in mind as I share my results.


Running and weight loss is often harder than one might think because the energy demands of our sport can leave us feeling depleted if we don’t eat enough. To lose weight while running not only means we are hungry dieters. We can end up as ravenous runners who often push too hard at whatever goal we’ve set for ourselves in life who end up burnt out and grumpy for a little while. Is it worth those moments when runs feel like you’re flying or you set a new PR? It’s a tricky balance for sure but I for one would much rather keep trying because I never regret shooting for a little of that magic.





Age and Running – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Welcome to my first official post on! Currently, I am 44-years-old, which may seem to be on the young side of “old,” but it’s old enough to notice differences from when I first became a runner. I have learned that the best way to navigate these changes and stay in the game is to surround myself with a positive community who can understand, support, and encourage. So here we are!

Whenever my running friends and I get together, all we seem to talk about is running.  And sometimes age and how age affects running. Sometimes we talk about the latest training strategy that supposedly can help us beat our PR from when we were 28. Sometimes we commiserate on our physical ailments and share ideas that could help alleviate them. And sometimes we secretly talk about how awesome we are for getting up early on a Saturday morning and getting in 10 miles before most people wake up. In total, we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of running. Read on and feel free to post a comment if any of this resonates with you too.

The Good.

There are so many benefits of being a runner. You’ve probably heard them all before but to recap, here’s a short list:

Health and Fun
  • Improves heart health
  • Strengthens immune functioning
  • Helps build/maintain bone density
  • Helps with weight control
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Improves mental health, including coping with stress, depression, and anxiety
  • Benefits overall cognitive functioning (i.e., ability to focus, remember information in the short-term, learn new tasks more quickly, shifting from one task to another, etc.)

When I was younger, I ran to help control my weight. Now I run to help control my sanity. Just kidding. Kind of.

The Bad.

Not to get overly vain, but I read an article once that said running causes wrinkles and I think it might be true. At least for me. I smile a lot (probably because I’m a runner) and at first I noticed the crows feet pop up. Then a little forehead wrinkle, and now my cheeks are getting wrinkly where I smile. Some of my same-age non-running friends don’t have a single wrinkle yet.

Wrinkly Pug
Wrinkly Pug

Anyway, the article I read alluded to all the bouncing we do while running causes a loss of elasticity to the skin. Plus, we’re out in the sun a lot while we run. A healthy diet, sunscreen, and Botox help, as well as remembering all of those other benefits of running outweigh a few wrinkles. (Fun fact: Those who have smile wrinkles are seen as more clever and attractive according to a study found online.)

The Ugly.


Running can hurt. It hurts when your alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside but you know it’s the only time you’ll have all day to run. Or, you’ve had a long day at work, you’re hungry, it’s cold and maybe even icy outside, and your kids, dogs, or partner are bouncing all over begging for attention. All you want to do is eat dinner, be cozy, and watch TV in bed. But instead, you change your clothes, lace up those running shoes, put on some sunscreen, leash up the dogs, and head out the door. That moment is not easy. That’s why 95% of the population doesn’t run.

Running can also hurt physically. Maybe you wake up each morning and hobble your way to the bathroom because your joints are stiff from last night’s running workout. Or you brace yourself whenever you go down stairs because every single step hurts your knee. Or you want to go for a run so bad but your IT band won’t relax no matter how much you foam roll and you’re not sure you can face the pain again during your run. The list goes on. Chances are if you’re over 40 you know what I’m talking about.

We’ve lived the benefits of running and it hurts the most when we can’t run, whether it’s due to life circumstances (demanding job, care taking, etc), a broken heart, illness, or injury. That’s when things get ugly. How are we supposed to cope when our main coping strategy is taken away? I could write a novel on that and one of these days I’ll talk more about on this website, but for now this is an introductory post so I’ll keep it short. Just know that if this is you right now (i.e., unable to run), you still have your people here. We’ve got your back.


To be honest, I don’t have this website all planned out yet. But that’s part of life, right? Figuring it out as we go. Unless you’re running a marathon. That you should have planned out.

But really, here’s to focusing more on the Good than on the Bad or Ugly.






About Jen

Hi Runners!  My name is Jen and welcome to the Over the Hill Running website. There is nothing quite like being part of a running community.  Over the years my fellow runners have inspired me with their positivity, pushed me beyond limits I thought were impossible, eased the pain of heartache and life transitions with conversation and laughter, and given me a sense of belonging when I had none.

We are that crazy group of people who bond when we run uphill through blizzard conditions together, pee in the bushes together, travel to another state or country together to wake up in the wee hours to run, sweat, sometimes cry and hobble to the finish line and then make plans to do it all over again.  And now, we must age together.

It does not matter if you are fast or slow, old or young, have been running for a long time or a short time, or are currently on a break from running altogether.  Please feel welcome to stop by this website any time you are looking for a boost.  Hopefully, it can help.

How it All Began.

One winter when I was 14-years-old, my dad started taking me to a rec center during our weekends together.  He thought it would be fun to run 10 laps around the tiny two-lane track upstairs, which equaled a mile.

At first, I didn’t think I was going to make it.  My lungs burned.  It took forever to get to the tenth lap.  My dad would speed up at the end so he could beat me.  It wasn’t fun at all.  But every week we did our 10 laps.  It got easier on my lungs and we got faster.  Finally, I would have beat my dad across the finish line if he didn’t cheat by putting his arm out to hold me back while he sprinted ahead.

My mom was also a runner so I would often go out with her for a 2-3 mile run the following spring.  It became part of our lifestyle.  Later in high school when I would have a bit too much weekend fun and not feel so well the next morning, my mom would drag my sorry a$$ out of bed and make me go for a run with her as punishment.

Nevertheless, at 17 I got an urge to run my first half-marathon.  At 27, I started running marathons.  At 37, I ran my one and only ultra–a 50K–and then my body started breaking down.  It started with low back pain to the point where I couldn’t stand up straight.  Then, a mysterious year-long pain in my abdomen that was like a hernia, only it wasn’t.  An MRI showed degenerative disc disease.  Runner’s knee came along and then high hamstring tendinopathy, which has been acting up for years now.  The days I didn’t run, my body felt great.  But I still wanted to run.  My new goal became to find a way to run without pain.

After trying physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, new orthodics, yoga, cross-training, eating a Whole 30 diet, I am starting to get there and figure out to age and run happy at the same time.

Time to Share.

I’m not the kind of runner who wins races or is certified to coach other runners.  I’m also not a medical or nutrition expert.  I’m just an average runner who knows how to find valid information from various experts.

Despite not being any kind of running expert, I have acquired a fair amount of useful information throughout the years.  The time has come to start organizing and sharing info in one place that will keep us running happy and healthy into our 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and beyond.

Let’s Do This Together.

My hope in creating this website is that is provides a sense of community for us aging runners.  I will share information to help us keep running, whether it’s training exercises for common ailments, diet or recipe tips, shoe and watch reviews, or a funny story to help keep things in perspective.

Have a look around and please feel free to share your experiences, ideas, or topics you’d like to see covered.

All the best,


Founder of Over the Hill Running