Author Archives | Naomi Chiorazzi


Core a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

A strong core equals a strong, healthy runner

Serious Core

You may know that strengthening your core will most certainly help your efficiency as a runner, or this may be your first time hearing it. Regardless, doing exercises to strengthen your core on a regular basis is an element of your training that shouldn’t be overlooked, or you walk a fine line of risking injury.

I have spoken to a number of runners about the topic of strength-training, cross-training and incorporating some kind of core work into their regime. Most often it is met with “Yeah, I know I need to do that but I just don’t do it.”  The more research I do about common running injuries and about how the body functions under certain conditions, and the more runners I speak with about this topic, the more I understand that a serious emphasis should be placed on strengthening the core. As a runner, this shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Prevention and Efficiency

In addition to injury prevention, a strong core will support your running, racing, training and any other sport or physical activity that you participate in, as well as improve your everyday functioning. Core strength involves the supportive muscles in your trunk and hip/glute area. Strong core muscles provide you with a strong, solid base and are key in supporting a strong and enduring stride. Without strong core muscles your stride will be weak, lack endurance and be prone to imbalances leading to injuries.

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Unfortunately, many runners will take all the time they have during a given week to focus solely on their running thinking that in order to become a better runner, one should run more frequently, more miles, run faster, train harder. I cannot stress enough that one should train smarter, not harder. As with any sport, the overuse of certain muscles, tendons, joints and other body parts can cause severe stress leading to kinetic chain imbalance and eventual injury.

“The core of your body is where you derive your power; it provides the foundation for all arm and leg movements. Your core must be strong, flexible, and unimpeded in its movements to achieve maximum performance,” says Brian Abelson, a chiropractor who specializes in sports medicine/rehabilitation and biomechanics. “Training long hours does not guarantee that you have core stability.  In fact, spending too much time working within one plane of motion often creates core imbalances.  Add these imbalances to stresses caused by poor posture during running, and the repetitive motions of swimming (or other activities), and you have an equation for the development of a weak core.”

Experts Know

Don’t just take my word for it. Top athletes and other elite runners, as well as their coaches, know that in order to perform their best and be the most efficient runner and athlete possible, they must include core strengthening work on a weekly basis. Various top running sources, such as Runners World, and, have published numerous articles on this topic. Click here for a great article from about strength training for runners.

Do yourself a favor and take 20-30 minutes twice a week out of your schedule to dedicate to the very important activity of core strengthening exercises and stretches. It could literally save and enhance the life of your running. If you have any questions about specific core strengthening exercises, please contact me at and I will try to help you.

Posted in 5K, Half Marathon, Injuries, Marathon, Running, Triathlon, Ultra Marathon0 Comments

10K in Knoxville, 2010

Silent Lessons … When Not Running

10K in Knoxville 2010

Most of you may know I am taking a mini-break from running while healing from Plantar Fasciitis in my right foot. I’m almost there, kids ;-). I have been running a little here and there, but I’ve consistently been listening to my foot while running these past few months. I also listen to my foot the days following a run, because it speaks to me and tells me how it’s feeling.

Taking a break from running has helped me look inward with regard to my running. Looking back at 2010, running seemed like such an outward event. I am still every bit the runner I was last year, but probably haven’t even run 20 miles this year. Funny, I’m not too bothered by that.

I firmly believe that listening to your body is the key that will determine the life of your running career (or hobby, or whatever it is). If you don’t take heed and really listen, you may be forced to take a short, or long, or indefinite break from the sport, hobby and passion that you love. I can’t say there was anything in particular that could have led me to believe I would develop Plantar, but I also can’t say I was listening very closely to any issues that may have been developing as they happened.

The injury itself is really not too big of a deal, and as long as I keep up my massages, stretches and icing, I should be back on track to run the Palmetto Half Marathon on April 16th (one of the best half marathons I’ve ever run … hummm, I think I say that about almost every half marathon I’ve ran, ha, ha, ha)! Seriously, the Palmetto Half is an amazing event.

I truly believe this break from running will make me an even stronger runner when I get back to it. I already know it has made me a smarter runner because now I know how to listen better and what to listen for, and I won’t think twice about taking a week of if I feel I need to. If my body tells me that is what it needs.

It’s not about “racking up the mileage” for me anymore, or seeing how many races I can squeeze into one month, or how many half marathons I can run in a single year. It’s about being a smart runner, a runner who listens, so that I can be a runner for as long as there is breath within me. Or until my legs just give out at 90-something years old ;-).

In the mean time, I have been spending hours at the gym focusing on building muscle and gaining strength. Fitness is a huge part of my life, so if I can’t run I will find something else fitness-related to keep me healthy and active until I return to the pavement. And even then, I think strength-training will be much more a part of my fitness regime than just running alone.

Posted in 5K, Events, Half Marathon, Injuries, Marathon, Running, Uncategorized1 Comment


Running Is Like A Fine Wine …

Be patient and let the running come to you.

… as long as it is “aged with tender loving care.”

I am often approached by beginner runners with questions on how to get faster, how to run longer, what to wear during runs or races, what to eat, etc.  The main questions are usually on the topics of how to run faster and how to run for longer distances.  The answer is, there are no tricks or shortcuts. It takes time to develop speed and endurance.  To improve speed one does have to fine tune speed work sessions into the mix, and with endurance one does have to consistently incorporate long runs into a running regime.  But all this requires time, consistency and patience. It won’t happen over night. Not even close, in most cases.

In the Beginning
I started running after I graduated from Purdue University in May 2000.  I can’t recall exactly why, but I think it was out of boredom.  I had always been very active, but never a runner.  So one day, in early summer 2000, I thought I’d start running.  I ran for about two minutes, and walked for about five minutes or so.  I’m not sure because I didn’t buy a running watch for another six years.

So I kept up this attempt at running for longer periods of time.  I remember, vividly, how difficult at first the  breathing was for me.  I realized very quickly that I had to build up my lung capacity to sustain this ‘running thing’ for longer periods of time.  I kept at it.

Racing Here and There
I ran a few 5ks, and actually finished my first one in just under 25 minutes.  I kept running.  Still no running watch, and I can’t even remember what shoes I had or how often I changed them, or how many miles I ran at a time or at what pace. I just kept running.

In October 2004 I registered for my first half marathon.  I didn’t know anything about half marathons and the farthest distance I had ever run was somewhere between 7-9 miles, I guessed. I joined two other girls who were training for the New York City Marathon on one of their long runs.  It was a few weeks before the Asheville Half Marathon, the half that I registered for, and I ran 16 miles with the two girls.  It was hard, very hard, but I felt good.

I ran my first half marathon, an extremely hilly Asheville Half Marathon, in 1:53:55.  The race organizers didn’t give out finishers medals then, but I didn’t even think about that fact until years later.  And, really, it didn’t matter.

I waited almost a year before I ran my next race (not for any particular reason, I just did), which was the Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k on July 3, 2005, which I finished in 22:10.  After that I ran a few races here and there, but mostly I just ran.  And ran.  And ran.  Oh, and I finally bought a running watch in 2006.

Kickin’ It Into High Gear
After giving birth to my son in March 2008, I was itching to get back in shape.  As soon as I got the much-anticipated ‘OK’ from my doctor, I started running again.  My first run 6 weeks after delivery lasted only 15 minutes, the next was around 28 minutes, and so on.  I ran the Providence Heart and Sole 5 Miler about two months after I gave birth, then the Lexington Medical Center Governor’s Cup 8k a few months later.  In March 2009, nine years after I started running and 5 years after my first half marathon, I ran my second half marathon, the Knoxville Half.

I started running more races, but it wasn’t until January 2010 that I started logging my weekly mileage.  I bought a Garmin in March, ran four more half marathons and started training for my first full marathon … this all occurred 10 years after I first started running.

Moral Of The Story
Be patient, but keep it up!  As a friend and running mentor once told me:  “Don’t force running.  Let the running come to you.”  It may not happen how and when you want it to, but be patient and stick to it.  Believe me, you will be pleasantly surprised and rewarded for your patience and hard work!

Posted in 5K, Half Marathon, Running1 Comment

Blue Ridge Relay

Keepin’ It Real

It's important to take some time for "relaxing" runs in between racing, or even as part of your training.

Racing, Racing, Racing!
It is so easy to get caught up in the world of time, racing, pace, speed, racing, mileage, racing … did I mention racing?

In all seriousness, I am guilty of being a “race addict” myself and ran well over 20 races in 2010. There is the initial goal-setting that keeps you training, the camaraderie that goes a long with training, having a common goal to share with others, keeping yourself accountable, the excitement leading up to the race with packet pick-up, pre-race night jitters and then the high of the race itself.

It can be kind of a “let down” for the race to be over, especially if it is a big one!

Just a Piece of the Running Puzzle
Everyone has their own experience in their running growth and development, and it’s important to remember that racing is just one part of the running picture. Racing puts quite a demand on one’s physical, mental and emotional energy. It can also open opportunities for injury and burn-out.

A Heavy Load
I had a heavy training and racing load in September and October 2010 (well, heavy for me but light compared to some). In September I ran my first 25k (Norris Dam Hard Trail Race) with a finish time of 2:41:39. I also ran the Blue Ridge Relay and was runner #2, with some of the hardest legs to run and the most mileage of the 208 miles. I had a few other small races  at the beginning of October that I used as training, then ran my first marathon, the Spinx RunFest Marathon, in Greenville on October 30 with a finish time of 3:32:10.

Relax and Enjoy
I also ran a half marathon three weeks after the Spinx Marathon (Secret City Half: finish time of 1:39:16) and it was during that race that I realized I needed to just take it easy. So I went “back to the basics” so to speak and decided to not worry about racing or training at least until January. I have been running, but I’ve added a lot of leisurely, relaxing runs into the mix and have, on occasion not even worn my Garmin. Crazy, I know!

Taking some time to just relax and enjoy running without the training or racing part of it has brought me back to reality in a way with regard to running. I love racing and training just as much as the next person, and can’t wait to get started again in a few weeks. But getting back to the basics and “keeping it real” is a good exercise that might remind you it’s not always about racing and training. When you get to the core of it, it’s about running.

Posted in Running1 Comment

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