Sunday, May 31, 2009

Video Gait Analysis of Radcliffe, Goucher, Petrova

Striking Difference

Here are two photos from a 5k in FL yesterday. I like how they contrast good and bad running form.

Notice the slight forward lean and the way these runners land under the hip.

Many of these runners are heel strikers. How many are going to be injured this season?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good Luck Matt at the Rock-n-Roll Marathon, San Diego CA

How to Balance a Fork and a Spoon on a Toothpick

It's been a while since I put anything completely senseless on my site. This video amased my two daughters. It should also entertain my running buds. Enjoy.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Pair For the Office

We spend most of the day at work. For many reasons being barefoot is not appropriate. Here is a site (Terra Plana) that offers shoes with very thin puncture resistant soles appropriate for most work environments. They'll never even know you have them on!

If you are interested in further reading, see this piece YOU WALK WRONG

Overhead Squats

Here is a great warmup exercise. It really gets you going. It gives you some early range of motion but it's also a great strengthening exercise in and of itself.

Benefits of the Exercise

  • Opens up your hips, stretches out your fascia
  • Strength through a large range of motion
  • Gives you a large range of motion
  • Full body stimulus (i.e. hard work…good for weight loss too!)
  • Works the ‘core’, whilst stabilizing the lumbar region and the shoulder region
  • Great progression for learning the Snatch (Olympic Lift)

Making Hurache Sandles (because if you want a pair, you have too)

If you're a regular reader you may have recently watched Chris McDougall author of the book Born to Run running in his Herache sandals. Someday I want to try a pair of these out. These sandals are a favorite for the Tarahumara indians. A tribe famous for their ability to run ultra long distances. These shoes look so awesome!!!!

Problem is...YOU CAN'T BUY EM! You have to make them. Here is an interesting video from a blog called showing just how its done. I can't wait to get a copy of the book either. Barefoot Ted calls it "the strongest argument for barefooting since Percy Cerutty." I have no clue who that it :-)

One foot at a time. One sole at a time. One hell of a good time.
Barefoot Ted's Adventures
956 10th Ave E #306
Seattle, WA 98102

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Born To Run

Did we evolve to run long distances? There is certainly some compelling evidence to support this hypothesis. Daniel Lieberman, a paleoanthropologist at Harvard University, and Dennis Bramble, a biologist at the University of Utah, argue that many of the morphological and physiological characteristics of humans make us uniquely adapted to running long distances.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Barefoot Running -- Improve Mechanics For Good!

The picture above is of Barefoot Rick's feet after completing the Chicago Marathon is 2006. To many, the thought of running 26.2 miles on pavement without shoes conjures images of bloody stumps and permanent disability. But look, he's fine. How could this be?

Runners having experienced problems buy expensive running shoes are told the shoe selected will aid in correcting pronation or providing more cushioning.  In reality studies suggest they will experience a greater prevalence of running-related injuries than wearers of less expensive shoes (Robbins and Gouw, 1991).  Granted, it could be the runners in the less expensive flats are by nature more naturally inclined to run or younger (or both).  Regardless, a correlation has been established between expensive athletic shoes and injury.   In fact, runners will on average incur more than twice as many injuries from expensive shoes than those in cheaper shoes.  These tend to be the heavier highly corrective or supportive shoes with lots of technology.  Are shoe companies deceptivley advertising athletic footwear capabilities (e.g., "cushioning impact") that create more problems for runners than they had before?  Or, are they simply over enamored with thier engineering prowess and losing sight of the big picture.  Without a crytal ball its hard to say what exactly is going on.  

Ever worry about hanging all this bling on your hoof?

I wear shoes all the time.  I run for Team RC.  Mizuno sponsors the team and I am proud to be affiliated.  They make great gear and not just shoes.  Team RC represents the competitive arm for Running Central.  Adam White owns Running Central and helps feed my addiction to the sport of running.  His professional team are experts in footwear as well as all aspects of running and triathlons.  They understand everyone has unique running requirments and there's NO one solution.  But here is where they differ from the run of the mill athletic foot store.  When you come in with a mechanical problem be it over pronating or knee problems they try first to get athletes in a mindset to first fix the underlying condition before treating it.  Think of it this way.  If your tires on your car were out of alignment you could do a lot of damage just running mile after mile like this. You have two options, change the flatform or change your form.  The latter takes more time but will yeild the best long term results.  Running without shoes gives you the best feedback on what mechanically you are doing wrong.   Your feet hurt long before you do serious hip or knee damage.  Running shoes have a place (even in my life).  They protect my pigs from painful objects but they aren't corrective devices and the capacity for shock absorbtion and prevention of over pronation is limited.   But the running shoe is not all positive.  If you never get out of your shoes you will face a the downside to shoes, reduced sensory feedback.  This is especially dangerous when you understand the research points to less protection thereby increasing the injury-inducing impacts.   You may be having a false sense of security that may contribute to the risk of injury (Robbins and Gouw, 1991).  Here's the long term rub: once the natural foot structures are weakened by long-term footwear use, you will  have to rely on the external support of the footwear, but the support does not match that provided by a well functioning foot. When it comes to racing, team RC takes a less is best attitude.  If you are interested in knowing more.  Go see Adam at Running Central and talk with him about how best to proceed.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Barefoot River Run -- My First Barefoot 5k

Today I ran my first barefoot 5k.  I admit I was a bit nervous about the attempt.  I have run this far barefoot before but never tried to go even as fast as tempo pace on the road (I did try it on the track last year).  Having been grounded by my doctor with Osteitus Pubis, I haven't been running at all. I expected to pay big time.  I figured the bare feet might aid as a govenor to keep me from trying to go out too hard but was worried I hadn't properly prepared for a barefoot race.  I was pleasantly surprised to end the race feeling as good as I did.  To be honest, I never got to that point of total discompfort one normally associates with the 5k.  I finished around 20 minutes.  Chillicothe hosts a great race.   

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

But it's not the suit - yeah right

Why doesn't FINA get it? Competitive swimming has all but lost the concept of fair and natural perormance by allowing the Speedo LZR and now Arena...or Jaked suits. Success in swimming is now determined by the suit/equipment/performance-aid of specific manufacturers. What ever happed to athletic prowess? I believe this is really bad long term for swimming. Check out the piece just published in The Science of Sport.

"In less than 10 years, a grand history of human physical endeavor has been undone by a few individuals. It is obvious that the current FINA executive and Bureau are incapable of controlling swimming to make it the test of the human vs. human it has traditionally been.

Why haven't FINA acted to save the sport from the intrusion of technology that makes competitions unfair? What is FINA's motive? One can only speculate on a range of motives from incompetence to undisclosed personal incentives.

We are watching the most rapid decline in the concept of fair and natural performance in the sport's history. Swimming medals, once determined by 1000ths of a second of natural talent, now are determined by the suit/equipment/performance-aid of specific makers. Manufacturers are now aggressively escalating the violation of the sport's traditional competition ethics while the Nero-like FINA members sit idly by, seemingly frightened to act in the Circus that continues to unfold." -- SOF

Monday, May 18, 2009

Got Pain?

Pace Tip -- Resist the "NOW" temptation.

Ok. Your marathon is right around the corner and you've invested plenty! And No, I'm not talking about the registration fee or the cost of the hotel room. I'm talkin about time! Think about it, TIME IS WAY MORE valuable than money. No matter what, you just can't get a refund. You want to make the most of your hard work. You want to reach your time goal in your marathon and be proud of all the hard work you did to prepare for this day. You got down to Running Central and scored a pair of pavement blisterers. You have your race gear and gels ready. Now you need to put up or shut up! No Sweat. Here is a tip for those of you who use a GPS watch. Truth is, even if you don't have one, you can use this advice. All you need is a watch with a timer with split capability like the Timex Ironman. But if you have a Garmin try this:

1. Have the watch display your lap pace in one of the panels

2. Change the Lap distance from 1 mile to 4 miles.

3. Mentally think of each 4 mile segment as a new run.

Greg White gave me this advice and I applied it using my Garmin GPS. I find focusing on every four miles is less mentally draining than trying to stay on pace each and every mile. If I have a tough stretch of road or If I fall off pace it's less stressful for me knowing I have a longer distance to work on getting back on track. The brain is wired to put more importance on short term gratification. As a result we keep failing at our long term objectives because the instant gratification prevents obtaining it. Long term I am happier being thin but that instant joy of french fries happens often enough that even if I have will power today, I might not tomorrow. 2 or 3 times I might resist but, seeing no real weigh loss in a week, I tend to give in thinking I am not really making much progress and besides I can control myself bettter next time. The marathon is similar to life. The miles are immediate while the long term goal is to finish on time. It never happens fast enough for me, be it weight loss or marathon running. My mind does not do a good job of looking at the long term so I need such tricks to force myself into a longer time frame perspective.

Hope this helps.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Drill Baby Drill!

Runners can learn a lot from swimmers! I know its sounds ridiculous, but swimmers understand the importance of technique drills. Conversely, runners tend to work with what god gave em. Swimmers know good stroke form will trump hours of training. You can run from almost anywhere. Just lace up and step out the front door. Pool time has to be planned. A pool is often shared by many groups. It's a scarce resource.

Swimmers need to make good use of their limited time. To maximize what they can accomplish, they drill, drill, drill. A typical swim coach will incorporate stroke drills in nearly every workout. Swimmers understand that drilling is important because it trains the nervous system and muscles to be most efficient. It's purpose is to challenge the imprinted memories. By drilling you reinforce good technique and thus eliminate bad habits.

Compulsion of good form is built into the sport of competitive swimming. Often at a swim meet will have not one but several stroke judges who are monitoring a single event. A swimmer knows, one false stroke and your disqualified. Running's not like that. A swimmer also knows how much faster you can be if you have flawless technique. Conversely, you don't have to be pretty and there is nobody watching your stride at the local 5k. Plus everyone knows how to run already, right? WRONG!

If you have bad form, you will have to work a heck of a lot harder than a more efficient runner. It's not so much the resistance of the atmosphere, albiet air is much less dense than water, that slows you but more it's the resistance you have that's internal to your body. Muscles are firing in opposition. You are bending at the waist. You are striking with your heel. Some are born running better than others. I have friends who run an awful lot of miles who can not beat others with efficient running form. Granted, genetics does play a role. Factors from the amount of fast twitch vs slow twitch muscle fiber to the length and symmetry of the leg will play a part in your overall ability to get to the finish line. But when it comes to making performance gains, regardless of where you are starting from you have basically two options. Get more fit or become more efficient. Consider how busy you are with all the non-running activities in your life. Your time is limited. Make the most of your time to train. Be the best you possibly can. Knock back a few strides or do some bounding drills. There are dozens of drills for runners to practice. Most take a few minutes. The gains can potentially make much more improvement than hours of running to improve fitness.

One of the best things you can do to train your brain and body to run more efficiently is to run barefoot. Listen to the pain receptors and make adjustments to your gate and foot strike. Now if you have spent most of your years in shoes I caution you to go slowly. You might even need to spend a couple of months just walking around barefoot before your feet are strong enough to run. The sensory feedback can also be quite overwhelming. Don't panic, your feet are very tough. After a few minutes you will adjust to all the sensations. It really quite a rush!

Running Central sells an amazing DVD with core strengthening exercises and drills to improve performance. Consider cutting a few miles from your schedule to make time for them and you might surprise yourself! Drill baby drill!

This is the shoe I intended on running the 2009 Boston Marathon in. It is the Mizuno Wave Universe 2. I like the shoe for it's minimalistic characteristics. It's about as little a shoe as you can find. It's definitely not for everyone but if you're into the less is more philosophy of running, this is a not too distant step from barefoot running. I weigh about 165 lbs and am 5-9. As such, the soft rubber soles don't last very long. I only have about 100 miles on my shoes yet they are showing quite a bit of wear. A big problem with this shoe is it's scarcity. I am having a really hard time getting another pair. Adam at Running Central is my dealer. He's trying to find me a pair. When it comes to minimal flats they tend to be difficult to find. Overall I really like this shoe and recommend it to anyone who ocassionally runs barefoot but wants a shoe for long runs and marathons.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Isolate Lower Abs Using Inverted Dolphin Kick Drill

Being injured, I have been spending more time in the pool and on the Compu Trainer.  One of the most important areas I need to focus on is the lower abs.  I've found I can really isolate them  and get a great cadio workout with an inverted dolphin kick.  If you really want to take it up a notch try this drill with your arms straight up!  Enjoy to burn!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wife Goes to Extreme Length To Avoid Cleaning Cat Litterbox

My wife departed after work last Friday not for home but for a weekend at Triathlon camp. She was attending the C+C Triatlete Factory held every spring at Camp Wakonda in Mossville, IL. The weekend weather couldn't have been better and everything seemed to be going swimmingly when we spoke on Saturday.  If you want to improve your race and want a great excuses to hang out in a cabin all weekend, this is just the ticket.  For the record, had I told my wife me and the guys were going camping for the weekend to hone our running skill she would have been hard pressed not to fall on the ground laughing.  For good reason, I seem to lack the credibility she does.

Of course, back on planet P.  I was busy being the nurturing caregiver, diligently tending the kids while Shev played trained. In our family, Saturday night is traditionally the evening we spend together watching a movie and eat as much junk food as we can find share time together. Stanley Kubrick's, Full Metal Jacket seemed to me like a natural choice being a Marine and a dad wanting to broaden a child's exposure to the finer arts.  FMJ served as a counterbalance to Sunday's girl scout outing.  We were attending the theatrical performance of "Pinkolicious".  Wow.  Talk about contrast!

Sunday came and we headed for lunch at One World and then to the show.  On my way out the door, the cell phone rang.  It was Shev telling me not to worry.  She'd had a pretty bad wipe out and was heading to the emergency room.  After the initial relief of not having to go to the play, I started to worry.  When I saw the arm, it only reaffirmed the appropriateness of last nights movie. She was diagnosed with a dislocated elbow with a fractured radial head. Bottom line. Yuck!!!!

Before you call it the most senseless and random of accidents.  Say to yourself as I said to myselves, why, did she do this?  If I consider Occam's razor, I must reason that it is a perfectly planned event promoting a great cause. 

But perhaps not everyone is trained, as I am, in Aristotelian logic. Some may have misunderstood the gory spectacle, made hasty conclusions and called out, in strong, clear voices, "Holy," and then a participle and a noun. Others may have addressed a quizzical exclamation to the skies, wondering, "What the," and then the same participle converted to a noun. But not I.  For I know how badly she dislikes changing that box.

Heal up soon Shev.  Twas a foolish thing you did to avoid the stinky chore.  THIS WAS NOT WORTH IT!

Your loving hubby.