Monthly Archives: July 2013
Lets talk about cadence for a moment.
This is the term for how many steps you take per minute.
At RunReal.com, we recommend 180 steps per minute as a benchmark.
It's easy to determine your current stride rate by counting how many times your right leg touches the ground, in one minute. It is important to know that stride rate will depend on a large variety of factors, mainly terrain and speed.
Benefits of a higher cadence
The main benefit of a higher cadence is that it prevents overstriding, or making initial ground contact well in front of your center of gravity. Overstriding is often done with a very dorsi flexed ankle and a straightened leg.
Through this decrease in overstriding, a higher cadence reduces energy absorbed by the knee and hip. Step length, up and down body movement, braking, and peak knee flexion angle all decreased with an increased step rate.
How to improve
The first step is to determine what your cadence actually is. Once in a while during a training run, count how many times your right foot hits the ground in a minute, and double that. If you do find your cadence is a bit low, gradual changes over a longer period of time are the best. Try experimenting and find out what a cadence of only 5-10 more steps per minute feels like, and practice this. Over time, you'll end up doing it automatically.
There are also tools that can be used, such as smart phone applications that match music beat to cadence. A couple neat ones are JogTunes and Cruise Control. A good old fashioned metronome can also be set at a cadence and followed along with.
Why is this important
Increasing your cadence is possibly the easiest way to instantly speed up. This can be during a tempo or long run when you are feeling fatigued or during the final quarter mile of a 5k. Instead of thinking "speed up", just think about increasing your cadence. Haile Gebrselassie has been seen increasing his cadence to as high as 240 steps per minute at the end of a 10k!
And like we mentioned above, a higher cadence is a great way to decrease overstriding and the negative consequences of this. On flat ground at your habitual speed, stepping less than 160 times per minute means you are probably overstriding.
While it will always come down to the individual, cadence is simply another weapon in your arsenal to become a faster and healthier runner!
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We hope you enjoy these articles as much as we did, and that you can find some time this weekend to sit down and check them out!
Barefoot Running May Lesson Knee Pain | Scott Douglass at Runners World | "One take-away from this study is to consider introducing barefoot running to your program if you have a history of knee pain that hasn't improved despite other attempts to address it."
Beards Better at Altitude, Say Scientists | Jon Doran at Outdoors Magic | "The results were quite extraordinary,' says Dr Wayne Gillette of WIPPS. 'Those subjects who remained unshaven not only produced superior test results, but reported much improved performance on the mountain. The longer the beard growth, the more effective it seemed to be.'"
Desk Jobs can be Killers, Literally | Richard Lovett at The Washington Post | "The message is clear: Sitting still for hours at a time might be a health risk regardless of what you do with the rest of your day."
How Much Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat You Need To Stay Lean, Stay Sexy and Perform Like A Beast. | Ben Greenfield at BenGreenfieldFitness.com | "So sorry, Wheaties, but it’s true: you don’t actually have to be a carbaholic to be a good athlete."
Thanks to Steve of Technically Running for his review!
"Considering the slew of analogies that have been thrown out there regarding the quality materials and design of their shoes, SKORA built up some extremely high expectations from their customers. From my point of view, they’ve managed to exceed these expectations on nearly every account. The FORMs are one of the few shoes that I’ve kept in my rotation of the dozens of shoes I’ve had the pleasure to review, and I’m prepared to say the same will happen with the SKORA PHASE."
Can dressing like a faster runner, help you run faster?
Researchers have found that putting on a white lab coat and associating it with doctors or scientists can help you concentrate and make fewer errors.
"The researchers at Northwestern University say that people associate the clothing with care and attentiveness, and therefore show 'heightened attention' to tasks when attired accordingly."
During testing, "On those confusing items, people wearing the lab coats made around half as many errors as their peers."
So a runner may wonder....will dressing "faster" make me run better?
Now, we're talking speed relative to yourself here. But what do you think would happen if, instead of doing cognitive tests with students, someone did V02 Max tests with runners?
The first round of testing in more casual running attire. The next round in gear that more closely mimics the attire of elite runners.
-Short split cut running shorts instead of long shorts -Wearing a singlet instead of a t-shirt
Until someone does that study, we can only guess what the outcome would be. But it would be safe to bet that "dressing faster" would help the runners perform better during the fitness tests.
And maybe it will help you with that new PR at the same time!
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I ran consistently from 7th grade through my freshman year at the University of Florida.
This stretch included logging many a mile in whatever shoe seemed stylish or cheap or eventually highly rated, supportive shoes. They got me through track and cross country; I paid little attention to them other than function.
When I returned to consistent training post college, I had goals in mind, run long races, tackle what seemed impossible. I failed and did so a lot. Injuries were my bane. After years of going through intense training cycle after intense only to end up hurt weeks or days before the big race, I ditched traditional shoes in 2010 in favor of shoes that mimicked more natural movements, and more natural running. I’ll blame it on an HBO story on Real Sports with Bryant Gumblel and then a reading of Born to Run. The change was miraculous, beyond the short distances, five marathons, six half marathons, and multiple 15ks later I am only getting stronger.
I am not here to preach on the benefits and give you statistics, but rather to discuss the adjustment itself.
This adjustment is once again recent for two reasons, first I made the full time switch to SKORA Running shoes, a zero drop shoe with little cushioning and massive amounts of flexibility, and second the minimalist running movement has been called into question as of late through a New York Times article.
My transition as of late was much more cavalier than my first go around.
The first day I had my SKORA Forms, I ran 10 miles in them and they felt amazing. Going back to 2010, the first time I started running minimalist was in the Nike Free Run +, a shoe that have reduced cushioning and immense flexibility but still a substantial heel drop. I’ve always been a forefoot lander and found solace in feeling in the bend in my toes, the bend of my foot and feeling as if my legs were doing what I was supposed to. I worked slowly that time, adding slight mileage each day. So my calf muscles and feet were sore post run.
My Achilles Tendons would tighten when I sat around, a byproduct of their gradual lengthening. Eventually, once my mileage had reached in the three or more range, the calf soreness abated, but post run foot pain remained. The pain wasn’t substantial—my feet didn’t ache, they only gave off a bit of pain on the first few steps when I got up. It is funny but I can’t quite remember when the pain dissipated, it just did.
Which brings me to the New York Times article, where the idea of minimalist running was given a giant black eye. I guess, as the article states, I did develop some new aches and pains from the transition to minimalist and eventually barefoot running (I ran a 1.5 miles barefoot the other day).
The foot pain that I developed would most likely match up with the edema they found in those who ran in the Vibram Five Fingers when they were measured after ten weeks. Yet ten weeks is a short amount of time when it comes to all out body acclamation. If this study were to be played out over a year or more, would the edema still be there, would it have grown worse or gotten better?
Two months into my minimalist switch, I had started using Vibrams a few days a week for runs under five miles, I found them to be great, light, and I always felt fast in them. I never rolled my ankle anymore as my feet reacted to obstacles instead being broken by them. That said, this foot pain I had developed went away sometime in that period—I didn’t damage my bones, just like a weight lifter who feels pain post workout due to muscle damage typically hasn’t damaged their muscles. I had stressed my bones, but my bones grew stronger, more responsive, and ready to support my lifestyle. What was important was that, despite having some new aches, I never had the pulled calf, the trick knee, the aching back, anything bordering what my traditional shoes often caused. I beat myself down, but I was able to keep going to keep pushing.
These facts bring me back to the study—were these people told to transition slowly and allow their body to adjust? Or, were they just given five fingers and tossed out there? Is this study going to continue so that we can find out the status of these runners 20-52 weeks in as their body adjusts? I hope so on the latter and think they just jumped right in with the former.
Flashing forward to 2013.
This year has marked my full-fledged conversion to shoes that allow you to run real (as is SKORA’s tag line). Instead of running primarily in Nike Free shoes and tossing in either a pair of Newton Distance, Merrell Trail Glove (mostly for trails), Vibram Five Fingers, or SKORA Base, I have gone with all SKORA. So far I’ve used the Form and the Base, but mostly the Form. I will not gush about the shoe here, I have done that before, but rather note that this shoe is zero drop. Your heel is level with your toes, and yes you feel the ground. Feeling the ground is a good thing—your feet have a tremendous amount of nerve endings clamoring to be activated, not ignored.
Going full-time zero drop instead of part-time has marked a second transition.
My calf soreness returned for around five weeks, meaning I was ripping them to shreds while coaching and running at track practice. I have not taken the time to slowly acclimate, I was most of the way there, running zero drop a few days a week, now it is every day. I expected pain. Yet, this soreness, a few months in, has vanished. As with the runners in the test case, my feet are a bit tender again.
SKORA shoes do have some cushioning, but only a thin layer. They make my Nike Frees feel like giant, over inflated tires, and thank god for that. Feeling the ground is a thing of beauty. So my feet are in the midst of a second adjustment. In the half marathon I ran on March 31, there was some soreness that wasn’t there in January, yet on the second leg of a three races in 24 hours series, I finished three minutes short of a personal record.
Zero Drop running, running with a curved heel that mimics our heel, is proving to be amazing. I am shedding seconds, pounds, and planting the seeds of an ever growing confidence.
I set goals.
Love making to-do lists.
I am what you might call, competitive.
I carefully plan my distances and set schedules for running pace.
Making plans appeals to my inner-type A and I enjoy putting in the time to hit my goals and savor the feeling of pride each time I've accomplished one. I never thought I would run a race without being fully prepared and (gasp) actually enjoy it.
I set up my race schedule in January this year, like I do every year (of course I need a plan a year in advance). 2013 included a half marathon in March. This course was flat and designed for PR's, and I had a mind to take advantage of that. I set up a schedule full of interval, tempo, and hill workouts to build strength and speed in preparation for what was sure to be my PR. Unfortunately time was not on my side and due to a series of events out of my control, I ended up being happy when I was able to squeak in a 30 minute run. Needless to say, I was not happy. I debated for months about running the race and whether it would be "worth it" if I knew I wouldn't PR.
I asked my boyfriend for advice for weeks. He brought up a great point; "Don't you run for fun anyway?" It got me thinking that I was losing track of why I started running - enjoyment. Ultimately, I decided to run the race with no goals and just to enjoy each mile.
Lining up at the half marathon, I took a deep breath and promised myself to stay true to my goal: reel in my competitive side and avoid injury. The race started in a park and finished in a park on opposite sides of a beautiful lake with perfect temperatures (low 50's and partly sunny). I focused on each step, breathing deeply enjoying my surroundings, and the spectators cheering from the sidelines. I ended up finishing the race 18 minutes slower than my PR, but I must admit it ended up being one of my favorite races.
I wasn't worried about pace or catching the person in front of me, and just enjoyed the movement of running and listening to my body. Looking through pictures that were taken of me during the race, there was an easy state of enjoyment, rather than determination tinged with pain, and it was clear that I was enjoying myself.
Advice that is typically given to runners is "You can't know where you’re going, if you don't have goals on how to get there". I agree for the most part, but I do think many runners (including myself) are also too hard on themselves to get a PR or run a specific distance on a certain day. We need to enjoy the process of putting one foot in front of (or technically underneath) another, limit distractions such as a beeping watch and iPod full of music and spend more time listening to our breathing, our footsteps, and appreciating the beauty that is running.
About the Author: Erin Nielsen is a SKORA ambassador, certified personal trainer, with a Masters Degree in Health Promotion. When not helping others become healthier individuals, Erin is most likely running, reading, or enjoying the beautiful outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.
Here is a very in depth review from Health Habits on the SKORA Phase and Core, even including a comparison to Base.
This is a great read if you're considering one model or the other. Doug has multiple review criteria that he discusses, which he feels are all important to a good shoe.
These include: Protection Proprioception Natural Foot Movement Weight The Drop Shape of the Sole Comfort Ease of Use Appearance Ventilation Durability Application
You can read the review here!
"One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art" -Oscar Wilde
Aside from the performance, quality, and comfort characteristics of SKORA shoes, something else that stands out is the aesthetics.
We have designed shoes that look as elegant as they feel.
On Facebook and Twitter, we are very often told how people are constantly commenting on the wearer's SKORA shoes.
While running, racing, or working out, we may not always feel our best. But at least we can look really good!
Below are examples of outfit combinations that can really make your shoes shine!
Thanks to Team SKORA member Courtney, for putting the outfits together!