How To Become A Better Runner with Coach Marcy Gialdo

Want to become a stronger runner? Or are you a beginner looking for tips to train for your first half-marathon?

Look no further. We caught up with Marcy Gialdo, founder of WAVES, an all woman’s racing team, to discuss cross-training, strength building, and how to take your running to the next level. Marcy has been competing in the world of endurance sports for more than 14 years, completing countless running events and triathlons. Check out her tips below! 

What is the most common mistake runners make when increasing mileage?

The most common mistake runners make when increasing mileage is the mistake of "toos" : Too far, and too fast. It's exciting to work towards a goal of increasing mileage and we need to make sure it's done in a sustainable way.

  • Build your weekly mileage total by 10% every week. I know when you are starting with less than 10 miles/week that you are adding less than 1 additional mile but be patient - the distance will add up.

  • It is difficult to build speed and endurance at the same time. I recommend a specific day of the week where you are building endurance, like a weekend long run. This run is nice and easy - even if you are ultimately wanting to train or race at a faster pace, the long run is always at an easy pace. There's a time and place for faster running (intervals, track, speed work) during other weekly runs but keep your long run at a pace where you can hold a conversation

Coach Marcy at Tri-Rock Philly

Coach Marcy at Tri-Rock Philly

What type of workout can someone do to strengthen their running body without a gym membership? 

There are MANY exercises runners can do to strengthen their body with no equipment at all! I am a huge fan of squats of all kinds (jump squats, sumo squats, single leg squats) walking lunges, curtseys and of course core work!

For your core, which is an often overlooked part of your run, I would focus on planks. Plank position works your entire core front to back and adding side planks works your oblique muscles. Core muscles are important for stability when you run and can help with becoming an efficient runner.

I'm also a big fan of including strengthening exercise into a run. For example, running 1 lap around the track and then doing 15 jump squats and 15 walking lunges before starting the next lap. Switch it up after each lap and start or end with planks to get killer workout!

How important is cross-training for runners and what types of classes do you recommend? 

Being a triathlete, I am a true evangelist for cross training! The best way to get better at running is to run but I think the best way to continue running injury free is to cross train. Give other muscles a chance to strengthen in addition to your running muscles; move in different directions; tap into other energy systems.

I highly recommend swimming since it is a non-impact sport but spinning, yoga, pilates, barre classes all are great exercises to add to your run. Strength training is another good cross training activity - whether at a gym or using some of the exercises I mentioned before.

I think the most important decision in what activity to do is finding one that you enjoy and look forward to week after week to keep your motivation and commitment high.

What's your advice to runners who are interested in running a triathlon? 

My advice to runners considering a triathlon is go for it!!! Seriously though, I think triathlon is a great sport for runners. In all honesty, the better the runner, the more successful you will likely be.

I do know that the swim is usually the part of the triathlon that most people fear or have less experience with. Wanting to train for a triathlon is just like when you started to train for a running event. You start slowly. You get help where you need it and you work hard to get better.

Of course I would also say working with a coach when you are new to triathlon is a great place to start, not just because I am a coach, but because there are unique aspects like: swim technique; learning when and how to train each of the three sports; and what to expect during a race that a coach can help make a big difference.

Lastly, the triathlon community is amazing and very supportive so don't be shy to ask - we all were new once and the majority of triathletes are more than happy to help a newbie!

Want to learn more about Coach Marcy? Visit to learn about her affordable training services, WAVES, and more. Stay up to date with Marcy on Twitter @marcygialdo

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