Monthly Archives: November 2012

  • Best Winter Races

    Best Winter Races

    An end to the summer does not have to mean an end to racing. Having some type of goal race or event during these upcoming colder months can be just the type of motivation needed to stick with training and nutrition. Here is a short list of some of best races among various distances to give you some goals through the winter and spring. Read More

  • Favorite Shoe Characteristics

    FORM with its leather upper is great for cold weather running.

    Every Wednesday we give our followers a three word limit to describe a question.

    What 3 words describe characteristics you favor in running shoes? Read More

  • Barefoot Running as Strength Training

    Lets look at a couple studies and discuss how to apply them to training.

    The first is a five month study titled Effect Of Increased Mechanical Stimuli On Foot Muscles Functional Capacity was done to look at how muscles adapted to wearing minimal shoes compared to more traditional footwear.

    The intervention was putting an experimental group of 25 athletes into minimal shoes for their warm up training, while the 25 members of the control group wore traditional training shoes.

    In this experimental group, strength of multiple foot muscles increased. The control group's strength scores increase only a quarter as much. There were also significant increases found in the anatomical cross sectional area of some of the foot muscles in the experimental group.

    The conclusions of the researchers were that the use of minimal footwear caused changes in the strength and morphology in muscles that were more intensively used by the wearers of these shoes as opposed to the wearers of traditional shoes.

    The second study, titled Metabolic Cost of Running Barefoot versus Shod found that wearing light and flexible minimal shoes required less energy than running barefoot. The researchers believe that without the cushioning, leg muscles had to use metabolic energy to absorb some of the impact forces.

    Lets think about these two studies from a training and racing perspective. 1. Running barefoot is less economic than wearing lightweight cushioned shoes. 2. Warming up in minimalist instead of tradition shoes leads to increases in strength.

    Now lets step back for a second. If warming up and doing strength training in minimalist shoes offers benefits to traditional shoes, could performing those routines barefoot offer some advantage over doing them in minimalist shoes? Unshod running may be less efficient. But that also can mean it forces the body to work slightly harder, which can result in more training stimulus.

    A swimmer’s drag suit can be used as an analogy. It is worn during training to create drag and force the athlete to work harder. Running barefoot appears to make body work harder as well. If we occasionally use barefoot running like a swimmer uses a drag suit, it can do a number of things; Increase the stimulus from training while barefoot Strengthen muscles Cause a feeling of increased efficiency while shod

    Barefoot training can be used as a strength training tool, like a drag suit. But when it comes time for a key workout or a race, where speed matters, wearing a pair of cushioned shoes may have its place due to the potential increase in efficiency.

    The methods of implementing these ideas into your training could be to do as the first study did, use less shoe (or no shoe) during your warm up than you do while training. This can also be done for any strength training and the cool down at the end of a run. Second, short and easy recovery runs can be done barefoot as well. Doing so will not slow recovery, but can still lead to benefits from the barefoot training.

    Jason F over at Strength Running also has similar thoughts on using minimalist shoes and barefoot as a strength training tool.

    What are your thoughts? Can barefoot running be used as a strength training tool?

  • Featured: Natural Running Center

    Previously we mentioned that the McMillan Running Calculator should be a tool that every runner can utilize. Another fantastic resource for athletes is the Natural Running Center. When we are asked about good sources to learn about proper shoe choices and running technique, we list the Natural Running Center as an option.

    This website is a collection of great resources from many of the best minds in running and specifically healthy real running.

    Stories that you should definitely view from the website include: Dr. Mark’s Instructional Video — “The Principles of Natural Running” Pronation and Supination Questioning Our Reliance on Motion-Control Running Shoes

    What other websites or resources do you use on a regular basis to improve your knowledge of running?

  • Secrets of Uninjured Runners

    We have all known the endurance athlete who never seems to become injured.

    There is also the athlete who has been running for three years and has spent more time injured than able to run.

    What does the healthy runner know that the other does not? Read More

  • Lack of "cushy" padding

    "I love the glove-like fit, the low profile of the Velcro closure (as a cyclist I'm very used to it), and the durability of the outsole. The lack of 'cushy' padding is fantastic - its why I bought them and I have no regrets!"

  • Passive Activism

    Activism is engaging in an activity to inspire change. Passively doing so implies you are not purposefully acting to inspire this change, yet still stimulating it. This is something you likely do every single day.

    If you are reading this publication, chances are that you are a fitness or health enthusiast. Passive activism is what you are doing every time you head out the door to go for a run, commute by bike to the grocery store, purchase organic, SMILE, or eat mindfully. You are not out there telling people that these things are positive, yet you are showing them how great a healthy lifestyle is! These activities you do on a normal and regular basis are inspiring others!

    Millions of people will interact with you throughout their lives. Most of them you will never meet, speak to, or even notice. Yet, you inspire them simply by being yourself!

  • End of the racing season

    Every Wednesday we give our followers a three word limit to describe a topic or question. Last week we asked what they plan to do this winter now that the bulk of racing is over.

    Rest, recoup, recover

    Keep running.

    Freezing cold ultra :)

    Recover, recover, recover

    Recharge, plan and improve

    Adept, maintain, prepare

    Heal my ankle

    Florida racing season!

    Continue to develop!

    Eight minute miles!

    Arizona weather ideal.

    Marathon training

    Exercise, Rest, Repeat

    Now the treadmill

    Winter trail runs

    Southern Hemisphere.

    Low impact recovery

    Run, run, run.

    Run more, eat

    Go visit Doctor.

    Keep moving!

    Dog needs exercise

    Bike Trainer!

    How would you describe your "off season" in three words?

    Photo Credit

  • Racing Effort

    Training Effort VS Raicing Effort

    There are two types of thinking when it comes to training and racing effort.

    One method is to train hard to race easy. Multiple Ironman Triathlon World Champion, Peter Reid, once said that he would train so much and with such an effort that he could win races with ease, because he hated hurting in a race.

    To make a race easier, take difficult characteristics of a goal event and train through more difficult scenarios. 2006 Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo said "I trained in Iten where it is very hilly, so in Boston the hills did not feel like anything at all."

    You can also use your key workouts to make the races feel much easier. 2012 USA World Team (Indoor 800m) member Tevan Everett said, "The workouts during my off race weeks are becoming race pace but in interval formation. Nowadays I often look forward to racing because it’s much easier than training." This not only makes his training more race specific, but it also turns the race into something more manageable. He trains farther and harder than he races!

    Peter Reid would occasionally eat spicy salsa with nachos prior to workouts with the purpose of upsetting his stomach during a run. He would train through the discomfort because he knew he could potentially experience similar feelings while racing. He knew he successfully dealt with it while training, so he could better handle it while racing!

    Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins has discussed his time training on Pico del Tenerife, one of Europe's highest volcanoes. "There is no such thing as an easy Tour but we have done days or sessions up here that are hard as anything I have ever done. When you start banking those rides one after another and feeling the benefit, it is a huge confidence boost, I would be very surprised if there is a day in my next race – defending my Dauphiné title – that will match the big days we have done on Teide."

    Racing to your limit is another approach. Made famous by the late Steve Prefontaine, he said "The only good pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Not better or worse than training hard to race easy. Some athletes out there really wish to suffer and race as hard as mentally possible. Prefontaine showed this time and time again. During his greatest race, the 5000 meter Olympic event in 1972, he raced for the win by leading the final mile at 4:04 pace. He said that if anyone is going to beat him, they would have to bleed to do it, and he really made his competitors suffer.

    While Ironman World Champion Peter Reid said he hated pain while racing, he has also been quoted as saying that he wished to race Ironman with such intensity that he would black out at the finish line!

    Yuki Kawauchi, a Japanese 10,000m and marathon national record holder, has done just that. "Every time I run, it's with the mindset that if I die at this race, it's OK." He has visited the medical tent after marathons more often than not. He races with such intensity that he has even suffered from memory loss. At the 2011 Tokyo Marathon, he passed out at the finish, not remembering anything after 39k!

    Picking one method is of course not necessary or even recommended. As with all good things, they should not be taken to an extreme or absolute. Both philosophies have excellent points that can be taken. Use the time before an event to teach your body and mind what it is capable of. Experience some discomfort while training so while racing, you are not in new territory if you should experience the same feelings. It is said to never try anything new on race day. This generally applies to gear and nutrition, but should also apply to effort and feelings. Spending time training hard teaches the mind that being at "suicide pace" is acceptable and allows this to more easily occur. If a runner never approaches their limit while training, should they ever expect to approach their true limit while racing?

    What are your thoughts? Do you tend to think one way or the other?

  • X-1 Waterproof Smartphone Armband

    Many endurance athletes bring their smartphones with them while out training. Perhaps they enjoy listening to music, podcasts, or use the phone as a GPS. Whatever the reasons, having a proper case to protect such a valuable device is important.

    Here in the Pacific NW of the US, we receive our fair share of rain showers. Having a well build and waterproof smartphone case is a wise investment. The X-1 (previously H20 Audio) Amphibx case has done a fantastic job throughout many types of weather. Numerous times the case has protected my iPhone from surprise rain showers, where I regular case would have been useless. This case is also perfectly suited for those cold midwest winters to protect your electronics from the snow. Even in the summer or on a treadmill, this waterproof case will protect an iPhone from any amount of sweat buildup.

    If you wish to go a step farther, true waterproof earbuds (they work, I have used them) can be purchased from X-1 separately or with a case.

    Features Include: Waterproof, Weatherproof, Sweatproof Breathable velco and mesh strap, with a case that sits just off of the arm with minimal skin contact (less risk of chaffing) Adjustable Velcro armband fits most arm sizes. Wrap it around your aero handlebars to turn your iPhone into a waterproof road computer. Remove the armband from the sturdy D-rings to throw the case in your pocket or gym bag for protection that can go wherever you do. Even with the device inside and armband attached the Amphibx Fit will float.

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