Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hips, Salsa, MWU3's and Suspended Evo's

Prior to this last discovery, I've had 4 life changing moments in my brief 3 year running career. First was the day I found Barefoot Ken Bob and BFT. Second was the day I took off my shoes and starting running barefoot. Third was the day I found KSO's because they taught me I didn't need traditional marshmallow shoes to run. Fourth was working on my foot placement and changing from a severe forefoot landing to a whole foot or mid-foot landing which is also controlling my supination a bit which reduced the pressure on the outside forefoot (I have severe). Now, the Fifth is meeting Janet and discovering my hips. The last 48 hours has been pretty amazing. I run 6 days a week and I take Monday's off. I alternate hard runs and easy runs and Saturday is my easy run day and my legs are usually starting to get tired by the weekend.

My normal Saturday run is about 45 min. at 8:30 - 8:45 pace. However, this morning I knocked off almost 6 miles at 6:47 pace and the amazing thing is my effort level was the same as it normally is for a easy run. Although I carry a Garmin watch, I run mostly by "perceived" effort, that is, I know by my effort level about how fast I'm running. So, this morning I gave a normal easy effort and didn't look at my Garmin until about 30 min. into the run (after warm-up) and I was running around a 6:45 pace, I continued for a few more minutes and shut down the run. I stopped because I was stunned because all I did was really concentrate on my hips, landing under my body and pretending (as Janet said) a lasso was around my waste pulling me forward. After about 10 minutes, all I thought about was cycling the hips through and running straight (I never thought about foot plant/strike at all).

And here's the tell/tell, I had absolutely no Achilles pain (or PF pain) after the run. Normally, after a hard run, I can have some minor Achilles pain but it goes away in a few hours. This time I had no pain and had no pain the entire day while walking other than the annoying bending on my Evo's that I used to walk.

I should mention that my Evo's are on suspension and I'm running in my MWU3's. First, I'm doing so because my new coach said I run "substantially" better in the MWU3's vs. Evo's and the video taped proved it. Second, for whatever reason, I have no pain running in the MWU3's even though they have a 9mm heel differential. I can't explain it but the MWU3's feel really good (maybe it's my change to the mid-foot strike).

I'm doing the hip exercises twice a day and I can already feel a lot more flexibility. My new coach said you generate power primarily from 3 areas: feet, hips and arms. I was generating all my power from my feet and it's amazing I never got hurt but it explains the different pains in my feet (the good thing is it shows how strong are feet are to handle that level of stress and pressure). She told me to evenly distribute the power generation and in addition to my hips I've tweaked my arm placement and the results have been pretty incredible so far. I feel like I'm 4 inches shorter when I run and it feels odd at first but once I get going, it feels amazing. She told me that while we don't run exactly like horses to still think about the incredible power horses generate from their hips.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Video Gait Results

I'll write much more later and I haven't had a chance to digest everything because it was an incredible session (almost 2 hrs.). When you are sitting there listening to someone (Janet Runyan) that was the #1 female finisher of the Leadville 100 (21:47:44), and finished #10 overall, you are in a bit of awe to start with (at least I was). Anyway, the session was amazing.

She videotaped me running in my Evo's, Mizuno Wave Universe 3's and Nike Free Run+ (zero dropped), on packed dirt roads. After about 5 minutes of running, she told me all my work needs to be done above the waist. She said my legs, feet, foot placement, etc. was very good (she said I had a perfect mid-foot strike and not to mess with it at all). She said I slightly would over-stride at times but it was nothing she was worried about and said if I corrected my problems above the waist and specifically my hips, mid section and arms, then the slight over-striding at times would self correct. Literally, we spent the bulk of the session doing hip exercises and my hips are actually sore. She said power is generated by the hips and the arms working in conjunction with the hips, and the feet but that I was using my feet too much and I was relying on my feet to do too much instead of also using my hips to generate power and speed. She gave me a set of hip exercises to do every day as a warm-up before running.

As for the shoes, this was very interesting. She said I run "significantly" cleaner, crisper and with better form in the Mizuno Wave Universe 3's (MWU3) as compared to the Evo's. She said I run pretty well in the Evo's but there's no comparison to the MWU3's. She was I have crisper stride, better upper body control and a slighter shorter and more efficient stride in the MWU3's. As for the Nike Free Run+'s, she recommended I not run in them unless I have to as it slowed down all my mechanics. I definitely have something to think about with my footwear.

Also, she taught classes for many years with Chi founder Danny Dreyer who she knows very well, and she is very familiar with Chi and Pose. She didn't reference either as part of my session but said both had good things to offer, but it was clear as between the two, she preferred Chi for what it's worth. She did say the "lean" described in Chi is very confusing without individual coaching and the "butt kick" in Pose is very different for beginners to understand with coaching.

I told her that funny enough I had been concentrating on my hips but it was a struggle to understand and she said that's the same for anyone as it is practically impossible to understand a phrase like "open up the hips" without individual instruction, otherwise it's just words.

Suffice to say, I'll be taking a few more sessions from her next month.

More coming later and I have a copy of the video running session but I need to make a copy and then post it.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Practice, Practice, and More Practice

“If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, my wife knows it. If I don’t practice for three days, the world knows it.”


Christopher McDougall's Pick of Minimalist Shoes?

Below is a link to a good post from Christopher McDougall in talking about bio-mechanics expert Lee Saxby. I also find the quote below interesting as he lists the types of minimalist shoes he would wear if he needed protection on rough terrain:

"I’m a fan of form, not footwear. If I need some protection on rough terrain, I like all kinds of minimalist styles: Vibram FiveFingers, the Mizuno Wave Universe, Barefoot Ted’s “Air Luna” huaraches, Terra Plana’s “Evo."

I use the Evo as my primary running shoe while using the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 from time to time.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Double Zero Drop" Nike Free 3.0's

Had the cobbler zero drop my Nike Free 3.0's for the second time. The first time, he dropped them to 11mm with no differential heel to toe and this time he took the same pair and reduced them to 3.5mm which is the most you can reduce the 3.0 without ruining the shoe.

They feel amazing, just like a glove. They weigh 4.0 oz. without the insole and 4.8 oz. with the insole. I can't wait to test these bad boys tomorrow.

Now, this is truly a Nike 1.0.

The first two pics show the original 3.0, followed by the first "zero drop," and the next 3 pics are the current 3.0's which has been zero dropped a second time.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

So What's Up With the Toe Spring?

Toe Spring (William A. Rossi, D.P.M.)

If you rest a shoe, new or old, on a table and view it in profile from the side, it reveals an up-tilt of the toe tip varying from five-eighths to one inch or more. More on worn shoes. This is known as "toe spring" and is built into the last.

On the bare, natural foot the digits rest flat, their tips grasping the ground as an assist in step propulsion. Inside the shoe, the digits are lifted slantwise off the ground, unable to fulfill their natural ground-grasping function.

So why is toe spring built into the last and shoe? To compensate for lack or absence of shoe flexibility at the ball. The toe spring creates a rocker effect on the shoe sole so that the shoe, instead of full flexing as it should, forces the foot to "roll" forward like the curved bottom of a rocking chair. The thicker the sole, such as on sneakers or work boots, or the stiffer the sole (such as on men's Goodyear welt wingtip brogues), the greater the toe spring needed because of lack of shoe flexibility.

With toe spring, the toes of the foot are constantly angled upward five to twenty degrees, depending upon the amount of shoe toe spring. Functionally, they are "forced out of business," denied much or all of their natural ground-grasping action and exercise so essential to exercising of the whole foot because 18 of the foot's 19 tendons are attached to the toes.

The combination of the up-tilted toes caused by the toe spring, and the down-slanted heel and foot caused by the heel wedge angle, create an angle apex at the ball where the two angles converge. The angle apex has a dagger-point effect on the ball. This is certainly an important contributing cause of metatarsal stress symptoms and lesions.

But equally important, the natural gait mechanics are affected. Because the hallux and other digits are largely immobilized by their uptilted position, the step propulsion must come almost wholly from the metatarsal heads. This not only imposes undue stress on the heads, but forces an unnatural alteration of the gait pattern itself.


For more from Mr. Rossi:


Monday, August 16, 2010

Do You Need to Increase Your Stride Rate?

If you compare the ultramarathoners’ technique to world-class distance runners, you will see that the latter maintain effective technique with basically the same stride length throughout the race. Their running form is basically good and remains almost the same throughout the race. They do not resemble the ultramarathoner in technique.

Before you take the advice to shorten your stride, you should understand the relationship between stride length and stride frequency. For example, stride length is the simplest to increase and gives you the greatest increase in running speed. Stride frequency or turnover is more difficult to improve as it takes much greater muscular effort and nervous system involvement. In addition, there is less time for the muscles to “relax” as there is when you have optimal stride length.

The important word here is optimal stride length. Once you achieve your optimal stride length, one that you can comfortably achieve and maintain, then working on turnover becomes most productive. The faster you can improve your stride frequency while maintaining optimal stride length, the faster and further you will go. Simply shortening stride length may enable you to go faster for a short distance, but you will be unable to maintain this speed over a long distance.

A longer stride, however, enables you to go longer with less effort and with greater speed. But if speed is not important and you seek mainly distance and duration, a shorter stride may be best for you. But even here, you will usually fatigue sooner than if you maintained an optimal stride length.


My Thought: Just concentrating on strides per minute (a/k/a cadence) is a mistake. There's a good range you should fall within (84-90+) but the key is to find the optimal stride length and then comfortably increase stride rate without shortening the optimal stride length. I see some beginners that shuffle as they run and that's fine for slower paces over a longer period of time but if you try to increase pace and maintain a shuffle type stride length, it is very difficult to do and only a few runners can maintain that over a longer distance. Many discussions start and end with stride rate and that's misleading.


Another Good Barefoot Reference

Below is a link to a good article on How to Become a Barefoot Runner.

Let me start by saying I always support good barefoot references, posts and websites. Obviously, the bible of barefoot running starts with Barefoot Ken Bob (, however there are other references to check out.

With respect to the article posted below, let me clarify one thing which is that starting on a soft surface like sand is not a good idea in my opinion. It's more challenging to run on soft surfaces and that also puts additional stress and load on the Achilles tendon primarily and also the plantar muscle. That load will be too much for most beginners. Even grass can be challenging but it's better than sand.

Clean asphalt or concrete is the best surface to learn barefoot running and the easiest surface although that is initially counter-intuitive to many beginners. Ultimately a high school or college track is the best surface for beginners in my opinion as that is generally a clean solid surface (or astro-turf which is a bit harder than natural grass).

Here's a excerpt from the article and a link to the full article:

Why Run Barefoot

  • Running shoes may cause more injuries: Barefoot runners argue that running shoes get in the way of your body’s natural mechanics and cause you to feel more impact when you hit the road. This impact increases the risk of injury in your knees, legs, tendons and shins. If you do wear shoes, you should pick flats: shoes that offer minimal support for your arch and in terms of cushioning.
  • We run better barefoot: An NPR story found that humans are actually supposed to run barefoot: that’s how our bodies were designed. With a little practice weaning ourselves off of shoes, we should run better barefoot, too.
  • You can store more energy: Because barefoot runners land farther forward, on the balls of their feet, the body is better able to store energy. It’s a more efficient way to run, and you can get more mileage out of each run.
  • The feeling: Barefoot runners explain that they just love the feeling of their feet on the pavement (or sand, or trail, etc). It’s a natural, back-to-basics experience that makes them feel more connected to the earth and their exercise.

Let me know what you think.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Whole Foot is the Charm

There's many different terms out there such as "forefoot," "mid-foot," "heel," "ball of foot," "whole foot," and "full foot,' that are used to describe a particular foot strike. While many people work away from heel striking to landing somewhere in the front part of the foot, I've actually been working on the reverse in moving from a forward forefoot strike to a whole foot strike, that is, the entire foot landing at the same time. This change has made a dramatic difference by reducing the load on my Achilles and plantar muscle.

I'm not a proponent of Chi running but here is a link to a diagram from the Chi philosophy which I think is pretty good in making a strong case for the whole foot or full foot landing:


Friday, August 13, 2010

Forefoot vs. Mid-Foot (Follow up)

As a follow-up to the last post on Mid-Foot vs. Forefoot, my friend Pete Larson (a/k/s the "RunBlogger" . . .. you can find him here:, sent me some background and further thoughts on the Pose study I referenced.

I won't add any commentary . . . just read it . . . here it is:


Forefoot vs. Mid-Foot

I'm spending some time reading studies about the differences between the forefoot and mid-foot landing. In many cases, this causes a lot of confusion because some folks use the terms together such as "forefoot/mid-foot," or "ball of foot," or something else.

One of the studies I read (I've attached the article) stated the following based on analyzing 20 runners (it's a Pose article but I removed the Pose only statements and looked at it in more of a non-bias fashion: It's a small subgroup but the findings support what I've found about myself having used both the forefoot and mid-foot landing.

1. Heel strikers had greater vertical impact forces than mid-foot or forefoot.
2. Less work done at the knee with forefoot running compared to heel striking and mid-foot running.
3. Great impact at the ankles with forefoot running compared to mid-foot and heel striking.
4. Forefoot running put more stress on the Achilles than mid-foot or heel striking.

It appears clear than heel striking is bad all around. However, the mid-foot vs. forefoot analysis is very interesting. Dr. Lieberman's left mid-foot out of most of his analysis and just said it could results in reduced impacts like forefoot running or could result in increased impacts like heel striking as it will depend on the placement of the forefoot area.

I can personally attest to the differences in impact on the Achilles comparing mid-foot and forefoot running. I think this is key topic area as it is irresponsible to talk about forefoot/mid-foot running without further analysis.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Transitioning from Forefoot to Mid-foot

Long story short, after working closely with a coach since Sunday, we've verified that I practically run on my toes. My forefoot strike is extreme and the angle of my foot coming down is too extreme and needs to be leveled out a bit. I'm putting tremendous pressure on my Achilles tendon and plantar muscle. What's amazing is that I haven't injured myself but I do have Achilles pain right after a hard run but it goes away within hours. However, since working on a transition to a mid-foot strike, I have no pain after I run and I'm running faster times with less effort.

I think one of mentors was right when he said it takes 3 years of consistent running, then at that point, you start to learn how to run. In the last 2 months, I've identified this issue and the fact that I wasn't running straight, balanced and aligned which I've fixed and it had a major impact on improving my running (although I didn't exhibit good alignment at the 5k race this past Saturday).

This article by Steve Magness really got my attention:

I've gone back to really working on my core and hip extensions. On my run yesterday and today, I could already feel my stride lengthen while still landing balanced and under the body. The trick is finding the optimal balance of vertical and horizontal lift coming off the ground, in the air, and landing.

The removing a tremendous amount of stress and pressure by transitioning to more of a mid-foot landing. I use the terms "forefoot," "mid-foot," and "ball of foot," a bit loosely because I think those terms cause incredible confusion in the running community. And, in many circumstances, we are talking about small degrees like landing on the front of the ball of foot, middle of the ball of foot of near the rear of the ball of foot (I'll stop b/c even that can be confusing). Ultimately, for me, I'm landing on the ball of foot with the slightest amount of space before my heel comes down as opposed to a more severe forefoot landing where my heel had a long way to come down and/or didn't touch the ground at all.

I'm not saying a forefoot landing is bad as I don't know that much about bio-mechanics but I'll say this. As a 41 yr. old runner who only started running at 38 yrs. of age, it may be too much to ask to move to a severe forefoot landing . . . it may be too big of an adjustment after 38 yrs. of abusing my body in bad shoes.

I'm still amazed that I've run this way without major injury for over 1 yr. but now that I'm trying to increase performance, speed and efficiency, it's really cool finding all these areas where you can continue to improve.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Running Bio-Mechanics

There’s an excellent article on running bio-mechanics by Steve Magness. Here’s an excerpt that caught my attention since I’m spending a lot of time working on my own bio-mechanics and trying to find my optimal stride. I think this says a lot because I suspect many runners lift the foot off the ground too quickly and/or leave the foot on the ground too long. With that right balance, the body is effortlessly launched forward using its natural springs and energy return.

“Once landing has occurred, it is important to allow the foot to load up. Often, the mistake is made in trying to get the foot off the ground as nquickly as possible, but remember that it is when the foot is on the ground when force is transferred into the ground. While having a short ground contact time is beneficial it should be a result of transferring force faster and not getting quick with the foot. Loading up the foot means allowing it to move through the cycle of initial contact to fully supporting the body. Since initial contact is on the outside of the foot, the support will move inwardly. With forefoot strikers, the heel has to settle back and touch the ground to allow for proper loading. Holding the heel off the ground and staying on the forefoot will not allow for the stretch-reflex on the Achilles-calf complex to occur.”

For the article in its entirety, link here:


Monday, August 9, 2010

Threshold Established - Then What?

So one of the many challenges we deal with is determining at what point we can run barefoot-like. For some, it's going 100% barefoot, for others it a true minimalist shoe, for others it racing shoes or XC flats, for others it may be some else. But, after you determine at what point you can run barefoot-like, is there any advantage into migrating further down? That is, for example, if you can run barefoot-like in Bikilas, Treks, Evo's or anything similar to a Saucony Grid Type A-4, should you stop or continue to migrate to something even more minimal?

I think it's an interesting question. If I can run fine with the insole in the Evo, which adds about 2-3mm of protection, what's the advantages of removing more layers? I think we all understand the perception issue so I'm thinking of something more than "it just gives you more ground feel or perception." Does that really matter, if you are running barefoot-like, without injury?

This may be what some of the major shoe companies like Nike and NB are doing. Why develop a true zero drop if, for example, the new Minimus or Nike Free allows people to run more barefoot-like and injury rates are reduced? I'm not saying it's like running barefoot but it's a step toward the goal. If the Minimus improves form and technique and injuries are reduced, why go further?

I think it's an interesting topic. A friend got me thinking about it when he thought I ran in the Evo with the insole and I told him I removed the insole. It got me thinking, if there's no injury or performance difference, why remove the extra protection if it feels good?


Saturday, August 7, 2010

That Commitment Thing Again

Listening to Emmitt Smith's Hall-of-Fame induction speech tonight reminded me of one of the most important factors in achieving any level of success . . . COMMITMENT and PRACTICE.

Emmitt talked about commitment and practice being one of 5 key pillars and factors in his life. He said you must "take that next step, every day." Good days, bad, days, it's doesn't matter, but you must "take that next step." There is an absolute correlation between practice, commitment and success.

I was thinking about speed and running faster times. My improvement didn't start until I decided to practice running faster and it all started on the TRACK. Now, I am not fond of the track and it goes against everything that drives my love for running. I prefer dirt trails and nature but I have to admit, the speed and pace improvement is directly correlated to the practicing and committing to the dreaded 200's, 400's, 800's, 1200's, and 1600's. It's the intervals at the track that push performance and even improve my efficiency on regular runs.

I don't necessarily look forward to the track but I know I must take that next step if I want any chance at success. This commitment translates to every aspect of life. Win, lose or draw, it's about "taking that next step."

Whether it's the 10,000 hour rule, the 3 year rule, or Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," it's all about doing whatever your thing is, over and over and over and over. For me, that's getting up every morning, putting on the running shoes, and heading out the door to "take that next step."


Monday, August 2, 2010

Forefoot beat Heel Strike -

Some incredible quotes and statements from one of the top U.S. running coaches.

A Brief Chat With Alberto Salazar and Alan Webb

07/31/2010 11:55 PM

By Amby Burfoot

Photos of Alberto Salazar and Alan Webb by Victah Sailer

American mile record holder Alan Webb hasn't run a race in 14 months, due to a series of injuries, but he's entered in several lowkey European 2008 USA Olympic Track and Field Trials Eugene, Oregon    June 2meets next month. And to judge by a workout he ran Tuesday on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon, Webb's headed for some solid performances. With a group of elite U.S. high school runners looking on, including the Rosa twins from New Jersey - the high schoolers were attending a week-long Nike camp – Webb ran a six-mile tempo run on a soft grass oval in 30:05. From there, he jogged quickly to the Michael Johnson track, put on his spikes, and finished off the workout with five smooth looking 200s in 27-28, and a sixth in 24.9.

Solid. And coach Alberto Salazar, monitoring every moment, was well pleased, especially by the 200s. "You see how much more efficient he looks," noted Salazar. "Before he weighed about eight or nine pounds more than now, and his toes pointed out when he ran, and his arms were all over the place. He's much more fluid now. His arms are working in a straighter line. His toes are pointing straight ahead."

Always a tinkerer, always trying to bring new tricks and ideas and performance-improvements to his athletes, Salazar has recently been putting added emphasis on optimal running form. The topic bubbled up a week ago in the announcement that Dathan Ritzenhein was entered in this fall's ING New York City Marathon. It came up again Tuesday in his observations of Webb.

Salazar realizes that changing running form is a tricky, complex subject, but he's not letting that get in the way. Not when great runners like Ritz and Webb encounter injury problems. Not when there are just two years to go until the 2012 Olympics – two years that will pass very quickly. The time to act is now.

Not everyone is convinced that it's a good idea to tinker with running form.
Alberto Salazar
: I know. It's not like I think we've got everything figured out. But I believe there are certain principles you have to follow. If you don't, then you begin to develop problems. Everyone seemed so shocked when Dathan ran 12:56 last year. But I wasn't. We took care of a couple of basic biomechanical things. He was holding his hands too low and directing a lot of force into the ground. So we got him to bring the arms up to a 45-degree angle, and to use his hands and arms for more lift. So he was ready to race fast.

During the New York City Marathon conference call, you talked about some more biomechanical work you've done with Dathan this year, I believe. More to prevent recurring injuries.
: He was having these metatarsal problems. When we got him running on a forceplate in the Nike biomechanics lab, you could see that he was producing these force spikes under one metatarsal. This was giving him a lot of pain, and we could see why. So we did a couple of things. We worked on his form. He had been leaning forward a too much, with some of the lean actually coming from the waist. So we worked on running straighter and also to go from a heelstrike to more of a forefoot strike.

But when Dathan began bringing his foot down sooner for the forefoot strike, he was hitting the ground harder. I was afraid this would exacerbate his tendency for stress fractures. So we decided to concentrate on just the upper body changes. And it turned out that those alone moved him substantially forward on his footstrike.

He still has the pressure under the metatarsal. You can see it very clearly in our lab. You can see a pressure spike where there shouldn't be one. We decided we could possibly reduce it by excavating some material out of his shoes. At first, Dathan and I literally dug a hole in the midsole. Now Gordon Valiant and our biomechanics guys are making him a sort of dual density midsole with a softer material under the spot where he's coming down hard. It's going to take some fine-tuning, but I'm confident we'll be able to reduce the inflammation in his foot. We're going to retest him a lot. We want to make sure the forces aren't going somewhere else.

Dathan and I both believe that you can't afford to look and run much differently from the top runners. Sure, you can point to great runners who seem to be an anomaly form-wise. But I believe the best runners with the longest careers are those who have the best form.

The Kenyans all look different, and many of them don't last long. But when you look at the top Ethiopians, they have impeccable form and they also have long careers.

There has to be one best way of running. It's got to be like a law of physics. And if you deviate too much from that–the way I did in my career–it can be a big handicap. Dathan can't be a heel striker and expect to run as good as the best forefoot runners. You can be efficient for a while with bad form–maybe with a low shuffle stride – but eventually that's not good for your body. It's going to produce tightness and muscular imbalances and structural problems. Then you get injuries, and if you're not careful – if you don't take care of the muscular and structural issues – the injuries can put you into a downward spiral.

You show me someone with bad form, and I'll show you someone who's going to have a lot of injuries and a short career.

Let's talk about Alan Webb. I was quite impressed by how good he looked today.
: Sure. Well you know, he's got so much talent. He just had to get 2007 World Outdoor Championships Osaka, Japan   August 25-Sept 2healthy. When he arrived here last September, he had an Achilles problem. We tried every therapy, we visited the best doctors. In the end, he had a simple surgery in mid-December and it showed clearly that his Achilles tendon had become adhered to the covering sheath. Once that was released, he was fine. But during his comeback, and we were very cautious, very conservative, he suffered a calcaneus fracture. So he had to miss more time for that, and we started over again, even more cautiously than before. He's doing like 95 percent of his running on grass and soft trails, and an additional three hours a week on the underwater treadmill.

And that's gone well? What's the hardest he's run?
: It has gone very smoothly. I'd say he's been up around 70 miles a week for the last eight weeks. You saw what he did today. That was his longest tempo run, and he finished off the 200s with a pretty fast one. But we haven't been emphasizing speedwork. We want to be careful. It's not important for Alan to run superfast now. It's important that he get his strength and confidence back. He's done workouts like 8 x 800 in 2:13, and
cutdowns of 600-400-300-200 where he'd run three sets in 1:34, 60, 44 and 28.

How fast do you think he might run in Europe?
: He's running all lowkey events, a couple of 800s and 1500s. I think he might start off with an 800 around 1:50. By the end of August, he might be ready for a 3:35 to 3:37 for 1500. He'll get faster in time. He could still lose a couple of pounds off his upper body. That will make him quicker and smoother. He's such a responder with strength training, we can't even let him look at weights or he'll put on a couple of pounds of muscle.

[Questions for Alan Webb]

How do you feel about some of the form work you've been doing with Alberto?
Alan Webb
: I'm excited for the subtle changes. It's not like it's something I've never done before. But I've been focusing more on it. We're doing more conscious work on it. And I'm adapting. I feel like I'm running well.

Are you excited that you're getting ready to race again?
: It's definitely good to be decently fit again after such a long time. In terms of how the races will go, I just don't know. The next month is going to be like starting over again for me. It's going to be a time of self-evaluation. I haven't had a race in 14 months. That's the longest I've gone in my life, since I was beginning to swim as a four-year-old, without some kind of formal sports competition.

That's made it a weird time for me. It's been a tough time. After my strong 2007 season, I set some amazingly high goals. But it seems like all my dreams were crushed after that. I got hit by one thing after another. It hasn't been fun. Now everything seems a lot better. I'm doing the workouts. I'm sleeping better at night. I guess you could say I'm cautiously optimistic.

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