Oklahoma City Gym Just for Runners

The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.


*Courtesy of OKGazette.com Photo courtesy of Higher Ground

The Zach Morton logged hundreds of miles of runs while deployed more than 7,000 miles away from home when the idea for a business based on his love for running began.

“I wasn’t going to be good enough to compete, and I didn’t want to sell shoes,” he said. “So me and my buddy just kept saying, ‘What could we do?’”

While in Iraq with the U.S. Navy SEAL team, Morton ran 660 miles over a six-month period and he and his friend developed the concept of a gym just for runners.

For Runners, By Runners

Higher Ground Running, Oklahoma City’s first running gym that caters to beginner runners and serious athletes focused on shaving seconds off their best times, is the fruition of more than a decade of dreaming.

The gym opened in October at 9644 N. May Ave. Morton and his team of fellow running enthusiasts, which includes past winners of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, NCAA athletes and coaches, spent more than a year preparing to open the business. Morton and his family moved here after more than 15 years away specifically to focus on the gym. Morton and his team visited similar running facilities in New York and California. They networked via friends and through social media, offering free introductory classes to get their name and concept out into the running community.

Unlike all-purpose gyms, Higher Ground is built for runners. The facility features an outdoor track, a weight room and Woodway 4Front treadmills, which Morton described as “the Bentley of treadmills.”

“If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right,” Morton said, explaining that the high-end treadmills have flat surfaces that minimize accidents caused by fast-moving belts and closely mimic outdoor trail running.

Much like a spin class helps cyclists train and stay engaged with upbeat music, varying intensities and intervals, Higher Ground’s running group exercise classes are more intense and entertaining than a row of runners robotically jogging on treadmills. Some classes, such as The Hills, offer extreme resistance variations much like a run up and down hills while The Flatlands is less intense. Each participant runs at a pace set by the coaches and based on their level and goals.

Making Goals Happen

“The classes are a lot of fun, but they put the hurt on you,” said Shar El-Assi, who joined the gym when it opened after attending introductory running classes with the group at Bishop McGuinness High School’s track.

“The reason why I chose them is that they show they really care about you and your results. They individualized a plan for me. They motivate you. They actually want you to get better.”

El-Assi, a 45-year-old mental health care worker, ran track at his small high school in western Oklahoma and was part of the cross-country team at Oklahoma State University. In the last two years, he started running again to lose weight.

When he trained on his own, he lost 42 pounds and finished the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes. After taking speed classes at Higher Ground, he shaved 44 minutes off his time. At this year’s marathon in April, he hopes to finish in 3 hours and 40 minutes.

“I think I’ll get there with them,” he said. “I think that anybody who tells you that they love running — they’re lying to you. I don’t like running; I like how I feel when I’m done.”

Other runners at Higher Ground are also improving — two have cut their times down to qualify for The Boston Marathon. Morton said he’s also reaching his goal and helping other runners get better.

The gym offers monthly memberships starting at $100, drop-in classes, personal coaching and marathon and half-marathon training.

7 Training Fixes to Help You Get Faster

The links in the post below may be affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.


*Courtesy of Competitor.com Photo courtesy of Pexels

It’s one thing to have big plans for the coming year. It’s another to put those into immediate action and give yourself a leg up on your spring fitness during the fall and winter. You know you need to follow a training schedule, set goals and assess at the end of the year. But those things all take time before you’ll see improvements. So what can you do right now to get faster? “There are probably 30 things I could tell you that are actionable right now,” says Jason Fitzgerald, a Denver-based USATF-certified coach and author of 101 Simple Ways to Be a Better Runner. Thirty is a lot. Let’s start with just seven, with cues from Fitzgerald and longtime Chicago-based running coach Jenny Hadfield.

1. Mix up the effort.

One of the easiest ways for most runners to get faster is to simply “get away from the plain Jane training plan,” Hadfield says. Instead of just running the same pace all the time, vary the intensity and distances. Do one workout per week that’s high-intensity—whether that’s on the track, treadmill or hills—and do one workout each week that’s more of a tempo effort. “It’s amazing how much people improve in just two to four weeks,” says Hadfield, by just adding pace variety into their routine.

2. Mix up everything else too.

It’s not just your pace that needs a little more pizzazz. Variety is the spice of running. Regularly run in different types of shoes, rotating through two to three pairs, Fitzgerald says. This subtly changes the stress on muscles and tendons in your lower leg, which reduces the risk of injury. That’s also true for running on different surfaces: dirt, grass, bike path, asphalt. By varying the type of work you’re doing—and, yes, also different kinds of cross-training—you’ll improve your functional strength and overall biomechanics.

3. Add 10–15 minutes of core.

You know you should be doing strength work. But it can be hard to make it to a gym. Instead, just add 10–15 minutes of an assortment of plank exercises after your run a few times each week. Fitzgerald has his runners do a routine that includes planks, side planks, planks where you pick up one arm then the other, then planks where you pick up one leg then the other, pushups, and a plank position where you bring your knee up to your opposite elbow. Add simple core exercises after your run and it’ll actually get done. The winter is also an ideal time to try different kinds of workouts, Hadfield says, like yoga, strength classes or cross-country skiing.

4. Run more.

Sometimes getting faster at running is as simple as just running more. Fitzgerald says he’s often surprised how many runners aren’t doing a proper long run. Either they’re cutting it short to be social or they’re just running a couple miles longer than their other runs. He’s also found that a lot of runners are only running 15–20 miles a week. That’s fine, but “if you’re stuck in a rut and your volume’s been the same for a long time, then gradually increasing your mileage can see big improvements,” Fitzgerald says. The key is to increase the mileage gradually and then level off once you hit your new appropriate amount—say 30–40 miles per week, depending on what other training you do and your injury history.

5. Stop the static before a run.

Fitzgerald also gets rid of any static stretching his runners are doing before their runs. Plenty of studies have now shown pre-workout static stretching—i.e., touching your toes or sitting on the ground with your legs in front of you—is not helping and might be actually hurting you, as it increases the chance of injury. Instead, do a dynamic warm-up routine. This is especially helpful when it’s cold outside. That could mean some easy movement or jogging, followed by dynamic stretches like leg swings or lunges or air squats. In the winter, Fitzgerald will even have his runners do all this inside before heading out.

6. Do strides.

Add to the list of ways to mix it up: running strides at the end of your workouts. “Too many runners are not doing strides,” Fitzgerald says. Running four to six strides of about 75–100 meters each helps develop proper form, and improves leg speed and turnover, he says. Aim to do this at least once per week, though Fitzgerald prefers his runners do strides two or three times each week. Over approximately 75–100 meters, gradually build up to 90–95 percent of your max speed, hold that effort for 10–15 meters, and then coast to a stop. Rest or jog for about one minute, and then repeat.

7. Forget about pace.

It sounds like wisdom from Mr. Miyagi: To go faster, stop trying to go faster. But sometimes that’s exactly what runners need, Hadfield says. “We’re all addicted to our apps and GPS.” When we become slaves to our devices, we forget to run according to how we feel. On a hot and humid day, your pace might be significantly slower for the same effort, she says. By forcing her runners to run based on heart rate, perceived effort and feel, they learn how that relates to pace. Leaving the GPS device behind sometimes allows you to go as easy as you should on easy days—which keeps you ready to go as hard as you should on hard days.

What to Wear on Your Run?

Fall and spring are the best times of year to get outside and run. However, with mild temperatures you may find yourself overdressed. Having to peel off layers and stash them for the remainder of a run can be a pain.  Well, so can drastically under dressing. Whichever side you tend to fall on, here are some simple guidelines to help you dress for any run. Don’t forget essential running accessories like hats, gloves, and sunscreen depending on season and preferences.

What to Wear on Your Run

What to Wear on Your Run Infographic


More Ideas on What to Wear

Also here’s a list of web based tools to help you figure out what to wear on your next run.

Runner’s World – What to Wear – Just enter a few details about your run and it will determine the perfect attire for your run.

Dress My Run –  No need to enter any data. It determines your location from your computer’s IP address and displays the current weather conditions as well as what to wear on you run. To top it off, the site provides links to purchase the items on Amazon.

What to Wear When Running – Fleet Feet Mahwah has a great article on the different types of fabrics running clothes are made of and when to wear them. Not all fibers are equal.


Are there guidelines or rules of thumb you follow to dress for your runs?




Why Running Friends are the Best Friends

International Day of Friendship is Saturday, July 30th. I’m sure you have a great set of friends you’ve know your entire life or work buddies that take you out for drinks when the work week has been bad. But really, the best type of friends are your running friends and here’s why:


They are Your Kind of Crazy – Who else will wake up at 4 am on a Saturday and meet you to make sure you get your long run done before the day gets too hot, or kiddo’s soccer tournament starts, or just because that’s when you run. Some people say it’s crazy but really it’s just a good friend.

They Help You Achieve Your  Goals – If you’re struggling with distance or a speed your running buddies are there to help. You can always run a little faster or a little longer with a good friend by your side.

They Listen to Stories About Your Boring Life – When you’re running with someone for hours at a time, you’re bound to talk about odd or embarrassing things. I mean, you have to pass the time some way. And you learn A LOT ( a lot a lot) about your running friends. Running friends entertain you with their stories and listen to yours. It’s a rewarding trade off.

They are Like Old Faithful – You’re running buddies are often times the most reliable people you know. They show up when they say they will show up. In the dark, in the cold, in the heat. It’s a great feeling knowing you have a friend to count on.

What are some reasons your running friends are the best?



Friday Five: Jen Chooses Joy

We’re starting a new tradition called The Friday Five. But this idea isn’t new. Social media and blogging are, at times, a great way to connect with people you otherwise wouldn’t even know. Take, for example, Jen from Jen Chooses Joy. I “met” her through Instagram and caught on to her blog. She was very open about her experiences with running, incredibly engaging with her audience, and had an infectious outlook because the JOY radiated from the pages of her blog and from her pictures. But last fall she disappeared from the interwebs. She ran the NYC Marathon and POOF, she stopped posting all together. Perhaps her disappearance is due to the other side of social media and blogging that consists of internet trolls and negativity or maybe she just didn’t want to do it anymore. Whatever the reason, as a fan of her blog I wish her nothing but the best.

One of the things I miss from her blog is The Friday Five. It was just a list of five things that she was thinking about, laughing about, or enjoying. That’s it. Just five things going on in her life. But oddly enough it was a fun quick way to connect with someone or just something silly to look forward to on Friday. With Jen’s departure from blogging, I’m going to pick up The Friday Five tradition and make it a regular topic for Run Oklahoma. So without further ado, let’s get Friday rolling with Run Oklahoma’s first Friday Five.

1. Ice Cold Showers – After running in the heat of the summer an immediate shower sure sounds magnificent. A much needed way to rinse away all the sweat and salt. A hot or even warm shower just doesn’t seem to do the trick because I’m still sweating after the shower. So I’ve diverted to cold showers. I must say they are actually a relief from the humidity. It feels like steam is coming off my head once that cold water hits me. Not only has it been really good for my hair and skin, but I like to think that the cold water helps with muscle fatigue and inflammation from my runs and aiding with recovery. Not sure if it is but who cares; I like it.




2. Walmart Grocery Pick Up – They must have heard customers loud and clear that were saying “I’d rather pay more money and go to Target than go to Walmart” because now you don’t have to go inside Walmart to get their deals. A couple of months ago Walmart launched their Free Grocery Pick Up. You simply place an order online, choose a time slot, and your order will be loaded directly into your car at your local Walmart. I’ve tried it and I’m hooked.



3. Oiselle Go Tank and Flyte Shorts – This is my go to summer running outfit. The Go Tank is the quintessential Oiselle summer tank. Light weight. Breathable. Comfortable. Cute colors. The Flyte Shorts are like a second skin ensuring that thigh rubbing  and subsequent chaffing are kept to a minimum.


4. The Assistants – I’m currently reading this book about underpaid millennial assistants that steal money from the multinational media conglomerate they work for to pay off thousands of dollars of student loan debt. I’m half way through and so far so good.


5. Salad Cat – I know it’s ridiculous but I look at this picture probably once a day and get a chuckle from it. Every. Single. Time.


Runner Like You – Run Tulsa – Jessica Mace

People run for all sorts of reasons. Beyond the health benefits and weight loss advantages, it’s not uncommon for mothers with young children to use running as  a way to get a bit of “me time”. Running provides a break from the trials of parenting and offers a way to get that much needed stress relief and maintain mental well being. But there are so many things to consider when starting to run again after child birth. When is your body ready? What to do with the sweet bundle of joy while you run? How to balance it all?

Tulsa runner, Jessica Mace, gave birth to her youngest son earlier this year and has made it back to running after a few hiccups along the way. She is a half marathoner, a wife, a blogger, and streak-er. But more importantly, she was willing to answer a few questions about her experience of running while pregnant and getting back to racing after baby. Thanks, Jessica, for sharing your experiences with Run Oklahoma.

Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your running history.

A. After I had my oldest kid 11 yrs ago, I couldn’t run a block without stopping to walk.  Some gals at work were doing the Jingle Bell Run in 2006 and they convinced me to sign up.  I ran it without training in just under 39 minutes and then couldn’t walk properly for a few days…but I was hooked!  I ran my first half marathon in 2013 and have since done 6 halves, 4 15ks, and countless 5ks.


Q. You were a runner before pregnancy and continued to run during pregnancy. How did running change for you while pregnant?

A. Oh man, it was different!  Before I got pregnant, I had just gotten to where I could comfortably run 8 min miles.  I became pregnant in the summer and I was nervous that the heat would harm the baby, so I toned it waaaay back.  I did 3 5ks, a 2 hr trail run, and the Quarter Marathon with no problems.  But, after the Tulsa Run 15k, I started having a lot of contractions.  They went away with some rest and water, but my doctor and I decided that it would be best if I stop running.  I ugly cried the entire way home from the doctor that day!  I continued walking and completed the Route 66 5k.  Then I took it easy, just walking a mile or two a few times a week, until baby arrived in Feb.


Q. Now you have a sweet, new baby at home; it’s been a hot summer so far; and you even had a few health issues including a broken arm several weeks ago. What has been the hardest part of returning to running?

A. Motivation and stamina!  I decided to start back with a C25k program, so as not to overdo it.  Like you said, I fell and broke my arm the first time I ran postpartum, so that made getting out there even harder!  It’s definitely hard to get out there when baby keeps me up at night, and it’s even harder when the heat index is 116°!  Making plans to run with friends and siblings gets me out there when I feel like staying inside. We’ve been going out to run early and, thankfully, I have a treadmill when it’s too hot for baby.  With the C25k app, I’m up to running 28 minutes without stopping.  I’m not trying to increase my speed yet, I’m just trying to build up my stamina! 


Q. What’s been your biggest motivation to begin running again?

A. Running is good for my mental health! Even when I’m pushing a 25lb stroller with a 15lb baby, it’s just so freeing to get out there and run.
I think it’s so important to set a good example for your kids. I like my boys seeing that mom isn’t going to give up. I like it even more when they come with me!
Also, fitting back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, for sure. My husband would appreciate if I didn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe!


Q. If you had to give advice on running to other women who are pregnant or just had a baby, what would be the key things you would suggest they consider?

A. Listen to your doctor and your body. After the contractions at the Tulsa Run, I was still determined to run the Route 66 half, but I had contractions every time I ran, even when I would go very slow. So, I went to the race and watched my friends and family run instead of running it myself.
Many women can run distances during pregnancy with no problems. It’s important to know your body and to listen when baby says to slow it down!


Q. Do you have any upcoming goal races?

A. I’ll be running the Firecracker 5k on July 4 with my family and the Bedlam 10k on July 30. I plan to run the Tulsa Triple (the Quarter Marathon, the Tulsa Run 15k, and the Route 66 half). Say hi if you see me!


Lightning Round

  • Favorite way to run right now, with or without a baby stroller?      Without!  That thing is HEAVY!
  • Favorite Tulsa area race?      The Tulsa Run and the Route 66.  It’s always fun to cross the finish line with a crowd cheering you on!
  • Favorite after run treat? food or nap?      Post race banana and then a shower!

June Discount Round Up with 40% of Fitbit Flex and More

Discounts! Discounts! Discounts! Run Oklahoma has a round up of great deals for all things running and fitness for you. Check them out.

PRO Compression Sock Discount

Pro Compression socks do all kinds of wonderful things, like improve circulation, reduce fatigue and discomfort, and shorten recovery time. And most importantly, make people feel better.  Now you can feel better all the time with 5 pairs of the PERFECT PERFORMANCE SOCK for the price of 2!
Discount code: 3PLUS

procompression socks


Old Navy 50% Off Active Styles

Are you in need of inexpensive running gear to get you through the hot summer months. Check out an Old Navy store near you for up to 50% off Active Styles. Some styles even starting at $5.

40% Off Fitbit Flex Activity and Sleep Tracker

The Fitbit Flex (refurbished) is your constant fitness companion, tracking steps taken, distance covered, calories burned, and active minutes all day long. The Flex even goes to bed with you, monitoring how long and well you sleep and waking you (and not your partner) with a silent vibrating alarm.

OK Runner Sidewalk Sale

The annual sidewalk sale in Norman, Oklahoma starts Friday, June 17th at 10am and lasts through Saturday. You can find up to 80% off running shoes and apparel. Check out their biggest sale of the year for amazing deals.

OK Runner Discount

Join an Oklahoma Running Group

Running with a club, group, or just your best friend can have immeasurable benefits like keeping you motivated, providing accountability, help improve speed and keep you safe. Or if you’re just looking for a way to get started a club can be a great way to demystify running, training, and racing. Whatever your reason, check out a local running club near you.


Alva Running Club
Enid Running Club
OKC Landrunners
Tonkawa Running Club
Tulsa Running Club

Often times running stores will host training groups or just weekly fun runs and those can be a great way to meet new running friends. Check out the websites for these Oklahoma running stores to more information about specific training groups.

Running Stores:


The Runner
100 S. Mississippi Ave.
Ada, OK 74820 Map


OK Runner
3209 S. Broadway
Edmond, OK 73013 Map


OK Runner
3720 W. Robinson St.
Norman, OK 73072 Map

Oklahoma City

Red Coyote Running and Fitness
5720 N. Classen Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73118 Map



Fleet Feet Sports
6022 S. Yale Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74135 Map

Tulsa Runner
9708 S. Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK 74137 Map

Runner’s World Tulsa
4329 S. Peoria St.
Tulsa, OK 74103 Map

7 Tips to Keep You Running All Summer

Hey there fellow Okies! It’s that time of year again; the time when the days are longer and the mercury begins to creep up well beyond 90 degrees. Oklahoma is known for beautiful and hot summers, but running in the heat of summer can be dangerous if proper precautions and preparations are not followed. Follow these hot weather running tips to keep you running all summer long.

1. Avoid dehydration! You can lose between 6 and 12 oz. of fluid for every 20 minutes of running. Therefore it is important to pre-hydrate (10–15 oz. of fluid 10 to 15 minutes prior to running) and drink fluids every 20–30 minutes along your running route. To determine if you are hydrating properly, weigh yourself before and after running. You should have drunk one pint of fluid for every pound you’re missing. Indications that you are running while dehydrated are a persistent elevated pulse after finishing your run and dark yellow urine. Keep in mind that thirst is not an adequate indicator of dehydration.

2. Avoid running outside if the heat is above 98.6 degrees and the humidity is above 70-80%. Those conditions can be difficult to fine during an Oklahoma summer, so running in the early morning or late at night (coolest parts of the day) are sometimes your only option. While running, the body temperature is regulated by the process of sweat evaporating off of the skin. If the humidity in the air is so high that it prevents the process of evaporation of sweat from the skin, you can quickly overheat and literally cook your insides from an elevated body temperature. Check your local weather and humidity level.

3. Run in the shade whenever possible and avoid direct sunlight and blacktop. When you are going to be exposed to the intense summer rays of the sun, apply 30 SPF sunscreen and wear protective eye-wear that filters out UVA and UVB rays. Consider wearing a visor that will shade your eyes and skin but will allow heat to transfer off the top of your head.

4. If you have heart or respiratory problems or you are on any medications, consult your doctor about running in the heat. In some cases it may be in your best interests to run indoors. If you have a history of heatstroke/illness, run with extreme caution.

5. Wear light colored breathable clothing. Do not wear long sleeves or long pants or sweat suits. Purposefully running in sweat suits on hot days to lose water weight is dangerous!

6. Plan your route so you can refill water bottles or find drinking fountains. City parks, local merchants, and restaurants are all good points to incorporate on your route during hot weather running.

7. Be sure to tell someone where you are running how long you think you will gone, and carry identification.


When running, if you become dizzy, nauseated, have the chills, or cease to sweat…. STOP RUNNING, find shade, and drink water or a fluid replacement drink. If you do not feel better, get help. Heatstroke occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature, and the body temperature continues to rise. Symptoms of heatstroke include mental changes (such as confusion, delirium, or unconsciousness) and skin that is red, hot, and dry, even under the armpits. Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency, requiring emergency medical treatment.

Stay hydrated, cool, and safe this summer!


Source: RRCA

5 Best Adventure Races Near Oklahoma

Hey Oklahomans! It’s now May and marathon month is over. Are you finding yourself wondering “what next” and looking for something your next big running adventure? If that so, Run Oklahoma has you covered. We’ve gathered a list of adventure races in Oklahoma and surrounding states to get you through the rest of the year.



The Mowdy Ranch Run 5K/ 10K/ 50K/ Half Marathon/ Marathon Trail Run11406572_1631335827077919_4948260736758101314_n

Where: Coalgate, Oklahoma
When: Saturday, June 11th 2016
Registration: Now Open
Difficulty: Moderate – tripping hazards (rocks, roots, stumps, and horses).
Camp out the night before the race.
Runners will navigate well marked trails up the rocky hills and down into the heavily wooded creek bottoms. The most of the wild horses will be moved to adjacent pastures but some of the horses are reluctant to move and will be on the race course. All of the horses will be visible to the runners so bring your camera. Proceeds of the event are dedicated to preserving the remarkable mustang. Also, there is plenty of free parking and camping spots available.

Spa Running Festival Half Marathon/ 10K/ 5K/ and Sprint

Where: Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
When: November 19, 2016
Participants: Capped at 250 runners for ½ marathon
Registration: Now Open
Difficulty: Difficult – goes to the Summit of West Mountain, down the mountain and back up again.
Highlighted by Runner’s World in 2015 as a bucket list event in the “Top 10 Races In or Near a National Park”, the Spa Running Festival is a family-friendly event that has a race for everyone ….. kids, walkers, beginners to elite runners and those that like a challenge! The half marathon is considered a challenge because you get to run West Mountain and to the top of the Summit twice! Are You Up To The Challenge?


Santa Fe Thunder Half Marathon/ 5K/ and Mile Walk

santa fe thunder
Where: Santa Fe, New Mexico
When: Sunday September 18, 2016
Registration: Now Open
Difficulty: Easy – uphill for the first 2 miles then downhill for the remaining 11 miles.

Starting in the heart of Santa Fe at historic Fort Marcy, the point-to-point course follows the Old Taos Highway, finishing at the magnificent Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in the Pueblo of Pojoaque. The USATF-certified course features spectacular views of the Sangra de Cristo and Jemez mountains while dropping into the colorful Rio Grande Valley. The race boasts African drummers at the start and live music along the course, runners pass by the world-famous Santa Fe Opera, the Tesuque Village Market, Camel Rock and the Tesuque Pueblo on the way to Pojoaque.

Plano Balloon Festival 1K/ 5K/ Half Marathon/ and Half Marathon Relay

Where: Plano, TX
When: September 24th and 25th, 2016
Registration: Now Open
Difficulty: Easy

With a race distance for all running levels you can enjoy a run through remarkable hot air balloons. And if you feel up to the adventure, take a hot air balloon ride after your race. All participants receive two tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival plus parking on race day.

Hospital Hill Half Marathon/ 10K/ 5Khospital hill run

Where: Kansas City, Kansas
When: Saturday, June 3rd and 4th, 2016
Registration: Now Open
Difficulty: Moderate

The oldest race in Kansas City now in its 41st year. The half marathon covers hilly but scenic terrain from Crown Center to the Plaza and Brookside areas. People enjoy this race because of the challenge of heat, hills, and humidity. A great way to explore a city and race with some speedy folks.