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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't lose too much weight . . . running alone only takes you so far . . .

I met Teresa in Denver last summer while she was attending a
conference that included Dr. Lieberman. We had a fascinating
discussion and she talked a lot about all around conditioning and
being in good shape from activities beyond just running including
weight lifting. I thought about it for months and when my weight
dropped to early 150 lbs. (I'm 6ft.), I just didn't feel right and I
felt weak although my running was fine as was my performance times,
but I still didn't feel strong (and I didn't feel right).

So, I started core work and upper body lifting (light stuff; not for
muscle but for strength) and within 6 weeks, I gained back 15-20 lbs.
I now float between 165-170 lbs. and I feel stronger than ever, and I
feel much better as a runner. Another benefit, my wife is very
happy :) . . . she describes me as looking like a 800 meter runner as
opposed to a marathoner and that's what she likes and I honestly have
to agree . . . throughout the day, I'm just stronger. I didn't change
anything other than adding the core and upper body workouts.

I share this to thank Teresa as we all help each other on this site
and I also want to thank Sean b/c I've watched his dailymile workouts
and he does a great job of all around conditioning and having meet
Sean in person, he is in great shape and strong. I also share this as
it may resonate with others. You see all the super skinny runners and
yes, losing weight does help running and even speed perhaps but
there's a break point where you can go too far.

I'm finally back to my effortless running, just floating along. So
thanks to Teresa and Sean and maybe this helps someone else.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Is heel striking bad?

This was a question someone asked me yesterday. I know there's a lot of discussion recently around heel striking but the easy answer is "yes," but that's not the complete answer. The answer is "how do you run naturally?" And, if you run naturally one way, and a different way wearing shoes, then that's bad. So what is running naturally? Well, I'd argue that when we are barefoot, we are in our natural state. We were born to run without Nike's correct? And we have ancestors that lived barefoot. In fact, shoes were developed to address issues with weather and terrain so if you negate those impacts and have excellent weather and save terrain, natural running would be barefoot running.

Ok, now that we've established that, how do you land while barefoot? If you naturally land with a heel strike and there's no impacts in terms of injury or pain, then I would answer that "heel striking is not bad" at least for you. However, you likely land differently while barefoot vs. shod and if that's the case and if the difference is you land forefoot or mid-foot while barefoot but heel strike in shoes, then "yes, heel striking is bad."

With that said, I've come across runners that do heel strike while barefoot and Dr. Lieberman found runners in Kenya that did just that although he said they were rare (basically outliers). So if you are a outlier, then heel striking may be natural to you although it's likely such folks land very lightly thus reducing the impact forces at landing.

So what's the point? The point is let's stop with starting the conversation with foot strike and simply ask "how do we run naturally." Shouldn't our goal be to run naturally as that is how we were designed. Of course if you believe the human body is flawed by design then this means nothing to you but I certainly believe the human body is one of my most incredibly designed devices in the world.

What's your position?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

the mojo is back . . .

It was a long journey to get my mojo back. My running has been fine but something has been off ever since I decided, for not apparent reason, to make a few tweaks to my running form to see what would happen. Well, the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," is a ageless saying for a reason. Maybe they should change it to, "if it ain't broke and you change it, you are a dumb ass."

Specifically, I switched from my natural forefoot landing to a mid-foot/whole foot landing and lowered the carriage of my arms. My thought was the former would be easier on my achilles (even though I had no achilles issues) and the latter would improve Vo2 max as it has been reported by Ryan Hall's dad when he recommended that Ryan run with a lower arm carriage. Well, this didn't work for me and I lost that feeling of running completely effortlessly but I finally regained it when I significantly increased my barefoot mileage and stopped with those changes and one day (a few weeks ago actually) I finally felt that effortless running again and it has been the same ever since. It is truly magical to float along and to feel effortless while you run, whether running faster or slower. I've also accepted where my shoe journey has rested.

I've tried really hard to run in true minimalist footwear but it's too hard on my body. I think it has to do with my personal resonance frequency and for whatever reason the Nike Zoom Streak XC which would be ultra minimal for 99% of runners fits me perfectly as does Barefoot Ted's Luna sandals. I feel great when running barefoot on the treadmill and whatever frequency level that creates is the frequency level I need to maintain while shod and it stays within accepted levels while running in the Nike XC's or Luna's. I can't explain it and I don't care to since it works.

However, I never imagined ending up in Nike's when I started this journey almost 6 years ago. In some corners of the minimalist world the word "Nike," will get you into some serious hot water but so be it, that's what works for me. Now, granted, the Nike Zoom Steak XC is a 5.4 oz. ultra light weight minimalist racing flat (only a 3mm heel differential) so we are slicing hairs in some respects. The great news is the Nike XC is commonly available for under $50 and I've but well over 1,500 miles on a single pair, and it's excellent on all surfaces from roads to trails.

As for walking, my go to walking shoe is the Inov-8 F-Lite 195. I love that shoe for walking as it feels great. It's light, flexible yet provides adequate protection for all surfaces and environments.

Well that's the current update . . . I'm floating along with a smile on my face in bright green Nike's or my Jesus sandals (Luna's) . . .


Monday, January 16, 2012

taking it easy afterwards

after a 5:46 pace 5k effort, I've taken it easy for the last few days.

With that, here's some food for thought:

"If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive, and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.

Vince Lombardi"


Friday, January 6, 2012

Resonance Frequency and why certain shoes just don't work . . .

Below is an excerpt from an article in Runner's World in November, 2010 entitled, "Less is More," analyzing a debate over what we should wear on our feet and Dr. Benno Nigg has done a lot of research with resonance frequency which in basically a phenomenon in which an object (in this case, our bodies and feet for runners) will vibrate violently (or too much) when exposed to a harmonic force (in this case, running shoes) of a frequency close to our natural frequency. The result is jarring and vibration which puts too load on the muscles, tendons and bones which can cause many problems including many of the running injuries we often talk about.

Here's the excerpt:

What the shoe companies are realizing (along with many runners) is that minimal isn't a static concept; what's bare bones to one person might seem like way too much shoe to another. How do you know what's right for you? The answer may one day come from the University of Calgary's Human Performance Lab, run by Benno Nigg, who has created many of the innovations that now frame the debate about minimalist shoes.

The Performance Lab is something of a birthing room for new and unconventional product concepts. In the early 1980s, Nigg was working as a consultant for Nike on its line of tennis shoes. While there, he offered input on the need to add more structure to Air models because the much-lauded Air units created even more instability than traditional foam. "I pushed the cushioning trend as much as anyone," the broad-shouldered Nigg says in his Swiss accent. "And I take the blame for pronation devices as well."

Much of his current research, though, is focused on the "soft-tissue vibrations" in the body. Nigg argues that understanding vibrations—such as the ones that shoot through our legs when our feet whack the blacktop—is the key to performance and may even lead to injury prevention. Every runner has a unique frequency generated by their muscles, called a resonance frequency. It depends on the unique type and size of muscles in your legs. When the vibrations from running come close to a person's unique resonance frequency, you feel discomfort. To check the kind of vibrations in runners, Nigg tapes electrodes to their legs while they are running. These painless sensors measure tiny electrical currents the muscle cells make when activated. Using higher math formulas called wavelet filters, he gets a useful picture of which muscles are firing and when—and what type of shoe would be ideal for an individual.

Since 2000, Nigg has placed electrodes on more than 1,000 runners, most recruited from the University of Calgary's sports teams and running clubs in the area. Some were rail-thin distance runners, others had the muscular carriage of sprinters or soccer stars. The upshot? Nigg has found that some runners' bodies are in tune with firmer shoes because they provide a high-frequency signal to the body, and other runners are in tune with softer shoes, which provide a low-frequency signal. If a shoe hits your natural resonance frequency, you feel uncomfortable after a few miles—and if you persist in wearing it, your muscles become overworked trying to counteract the nettlesome signals.
After explaining his research, Nigg sits down to draw his vision of the optimal shoe for the runner tuned to a minimal shoe. You might expect it to be something shockingly out of the blue—flying buttresses made of carbon-polymer or crash pads injected with flubberlike gel. But once he's through penciling in lines and arrows, his sketch looks, well, like a track spike. The future is a track spike?

"There's no cushioning on the forefoot. For function, it's unneeded," he says. "For comfort—eh, you put a little inside the shoe to distribute forces." With this prototype, Nigg is projecting out to a time when most shoes are ultralight. They do away with foam and instead use some kind of structural element to both cushion and stabilize. Ideally, they keep you running—and away from injuries.

Let me know what you think?


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