This little piggy…hurts! We know how it is. Feet can often be a source of big trouble for runners. Here is a direct download link for Baby Steps: A Runners Guide to Feet, Shoes and Dating, our free (somewhat humorous) guide to your feet, how they work, and how to–finally–pick the running shoe that’s right for YOU.
Orthotics? We cover that. Dating? Well, really, not so much!
Here’s an excerpt:
Pick up any running or triathlon magazine and you won’t read too many pages before a bold advertisement displays the shoes you really need if you truly want to be your best. Some claim to make you faster or prevent injury, others tout the benefits of “running more naturally.” One thing’s for sure, all of them look cool. And they come in the flashiest colors. And there’s some (paid) uber-athlete sporting said (complimentary) foot gear. You know the one. She just posted a new course record at IM Antarctica. She is sweaty and sexy and appears to have been chiseled from a solid block of marble. Not some cheap, domestic marble, mind you, the expensive Italian kind.
You, too, could look like this, race like this and maybe even get a date on Friday night if you wore these shoes.
Then we get serious, and take you on a tour of your foot function, foot form, and mechanics, leading you to figure out how to pick the right running shoe. Hit us up with comments or questions here in the blog or on our Facebook page. Enjoy and let us know what you think!
We thought this information was worth sharing, as Rebecca Stephenson, the Event Director of Kids Who Tri Succeed Triathlon is a good friend of ours. We’ll present the information in her words.
Could you lease post for us that this weekend’s Valley Runners’ group run is going to be dedicated to the Newtown tragedy victims and their families. We are meeting at 9 a.m. this Saturday (12/22) at the bike path parking lot at the corner of New Britain and Oakridge Roads in Unionville, CT. Before the start of the run we are going to pray for the families of those who have been separated from a loved one by the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.
This past August I had the privilege of meeting, Chase Kowalski, one of the little boys who was killed, and of chatting with his Dad, who was so proud of his son. The entire conversation was about how the boy had found TRIATHLONS on the internet and decided he wanted to do “lots of triathlons,” starting with the one I organize for children. The Kids Who Tri Succeed triathlon, which he participated in so excitedly this year (winning the 4- to 6- year-old age group) was his first and last triathlon. Chase had also already run road races – http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/12/17/chase-kowalski-loved-baseball-had-already-completed-first-triathlon/.
My heart bleeds for the families and over the fact that life as we know it ended so tragically for each of the victims. We are going to run in honor of each of the Newtown individuals who was murdered.
Coach Al here with a short, illustrative video on the importance of dorsiflexion when running.
The majority of athletes who come into our gait analysis lab are looking for more speed and power when running. What we often find is inadequate ankle mobility and insufficient length in the calf, which impedes dorsiflexion.
Take a look at the run form of Boston Marathon elite runners in the video. You will see that they have an amazing 57? of dorsiflexion in the mid-stance phase of the stride. That’s what you need if you want to run fast, and be at a much lower risk of calf injury. Our blog post on the stretches we most often recommend, can help you with that! Just a quick tip for today!
One of our great clients, Glen Elliot, does a terrific job explaining the frustration most runners face when trying to improve their form. He tried to work on every cue in the book while running–cadence, land on forefoot, good posture, etc.–and came to the conclusion, “this just isn’t working.” A few weeks after his gait analysis and subsequent training with us, Glen returns to the lab for a tune up. What you will hear is his “lightbulb moment.”
Great job, Glen! You are really fitting together all the pieces of the puzzle!
I think you will find interesting a current situation I am working through with one of the triathletes I coach. He is having a crisis in confidence about his run preparedness for Ironman Coeur d’Alene coming up in June. This athlete has been at the triathlon game for a while, but–like so many of you–has experienced repetitive cycles of running injury. Before we started working together, he had not been able to run with any consistency–or at all–for a year.
His current injury cycle came on the heels of his last round of Ironman training two years ago. He trained for that race with a mass coaching program that strongly stresses the “train more” philosophy with punishing levels of intensity day in and day out, week in and week out. And while this program touts it is “the way” to train for faster race times, in the end it robbed this athlete (and many others) of ANY ability to train or race at all.
As a long-time and experienced coach, I know one thing for sure–the “just train more” message is very seductive to triathletes. In a very real way, the mindset of “just train more” or “no pain, no gain” pervades much of our sport, and is almost like a drug. Many of us joke about it, but the fact is it seems to tap into a primal need to test ourselves and prove we can handle pain and not wilt under pressure. Once we drink that Kool Aid, it’s hard to turn back. Many don’t know any other way once exposed to it, and are often led further down the path by coaches who flat out don’t know what they are doing. The bottom line is, my triathlete’s concerns about run preparedness come from old, worn out training tapes replaying in his head. He has been duped into believing that you need to do week upon grueling week of long, hard running in order to be “ready” to run a marathon off of the bike.
That’s simply not true. Not on any level.
Here’s what is true–and this is where athletes find the place of phenomenal power, authentic fulfillment, and, yes, truly outstanding race day results.
IF you are functionally strong, TRULY healthy, and are building run and overall fitness steadily throughout training, that creates the conditions for an outstanding race. Then you must SHOW UP on race day, be TRULY healthy and rested, race smart, and be mentally ready to go after it. Put the two pieces together and it is then that you have the best opportunity for a GREAT race, especially off the bike–which is where it matters the most. Sounds too simple, and not “hard enough”?
Any coach can react to an athlete’s nervousness and write an overly aggressive run “build” phase. I always tell my athletes the easiest thing I can do is write harder plans. After all, I only have to type! Many knucklehead coaches, however, take pride in making stuff “hard” because their own egos are their biggest concern, not the athlete’s health and well being. As a responsible and experienced coach, I know that when an athlete returns to running after injury, the first few weeks absolutely DRIVE what happens, good or bad, with all the run training to follow for this race, this season–and beyond!
For example, if my triathlete is running slightly beyond his true functional capability due to an aggressive build designed to “get him there,” odds are he will fall back into old dysfunctional and compensated movement patterns. Remember, it is those same patterns that created injury in the first place. Also, he will be building TIREDNESS, instead of true run FITNESS. That means as he gets closer to the race, he will be thinking and believing he’s ready to race, when, in truth, he has been moving backwards on a number of levels–not the least of which is inching closer to re-injury.
I can guarantee that if my triathlete is FULLY PRESENT on race day with strong mental fortitude and toughness, AND a completely healthy, rested and ready body, he will surprise the heck out of himself with a run to be proud of–and a run that reflects his true potential. And the beauty is, this Ironman will be the start–NOT the end–of a training period. By ensuring true run health, athletes find a deep well of resiliency they never thought they had. They are able to dig deeper and find a resolve they always thought had to come through “force,” and a “train-more-and-suck-it-up” philosophy. Truly healthy athletes RECOVER, and come back to train and race year after year. Instead of beating the body to a pulp, Ironman becomes the beginning of a long period of steady improvement in strength, durability, and speed.
Most importantly, finishing this Ironman healthily and well will allow my triathlete to MANIFEST the power of the accomplishment in his everyday life, not simply adopt a persona. His personal reasons for undertaking the challenge will be with him with every breath he takes after the race. It’s what Mark Allen referred to as a “raw reality.” My triathlete will be authentically healthy, authentically athletic, authentically positive. He will be an IRONMAN, in the truest sense of what finishing the distance is supposed to mean. He will live it, and in his own mind, he will know he did it right.
I wish this same sense of peace, accomplishment, and good health for every single triathlete I coach. It is the place where true fulfillment and satisfaction are born. Believe it, and make the decision to BE IT.
Several years ago, I noticed that my good friend Todd had become a little… er… soft around the middle, for lack of a better description. I was trying to encourage him to get in shape, but it wasn’t until my loving wife, Susan, very kindly told him there was no way he could run a 5-mile race that he decided to take up the challenge. He finished that race and we signed up to do a half marathon that fall. By the following summer, we had both registered for our first half Ironman. Each year since then, Todd and I make it our mission to “drag someone off the couch” and get them exercising.
Our plan is simple: we register our “mark” for the Hartford half marathon and shame them into training. All in good fun. One year it was our high school friend, Dan. Last year it was Todd’s two older brothers, David and Bob. We plodded around the 13.1 mile course in about 2 1/2 hours, I think, but we smiled and laughed and enjoyed every minute of it. The greatest part is that everyone we’ve talked into coming outside to play with us has continued to exercise.
This past St. Paddy’s Day weekend, Todd and I went to Virginia Beach to join David for the Shamrock 2012 Yuengling Marathon. I guess David figured we owed him one. We broke no speed records, and we only got medals because they give them to everyone who finishes. David’s son, Keegan, rode his bike alongside his father the whole way around, just as he had done for all of the longer training runs. At the finish, David hugged Keegan with a tear in his eye and thanked him for being part of his achievement. What better gift could a father and son give each other? A great time was had by all.
The point of my story is this: We all exercise for different reasons. For me, there are many. First, I come from a family with a long history of heart disease, so I want to say healthy for myself, my wife and my kids. Second, I want to set a good example for my kids and make exercise a part of their lives. Finally, I enjoy training with my friends. There’s no better way to stay fit than biking through the hills in Old Lyme, running the beach loop in Old Saybrook, or swimming in Lake N’ski at sunrise with close friends and family. It’s good for the heart, the head and the soul.
Not everyone yearns to be on the podium, but there is something important that the 5-minute-milers and the 15-minute-milers have in common. Whether you compete or participate, train or exercise, race or run, you must move well. 5-K or marathon, sprint tri or Ironman, gardening or Bocce, it makes no difference.
Put plainly, good movement minimizes wear-and-tear on joints, muscles and bones and enables us to do whatever it is we want to do physically without breaking. And don’t be too disappointed if you move a little quicker as well.
Dr. Kurt Strecker here. My blog post today has a direct, lay-it-on-the-line tone. The urgency comes from a deep caring and concern for the athletes we see every day in the lab and in the clinic. Serious injuries are often created when small aches and pains are ignored. Athletes frequently exacerbate problems because they are obsessed with exercise. Creating serious trauma in the name of fitness just makes no sense, yet we see it every day. The real crime is, most of these injuries are actually preventable.
Over the last three weeks, three different runners have come into the lab with knee pain. Here’s the scenario:
All of them continued to run after the initial onset of pain
Not only did they finish the run they were doing when pain first presented, but they ran on subsequent days!
With all three runners, I had clinical suspicion of meniscus tear. Unfortunately, I was correct in all cases:
MRI revealed torn medial menisci in the first two runners
The MRI for the third runner revealed not only a torn medial meniscus, but also included a completely ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)
What did all three runners have in common?
An obsessive desire to run
Very poor stability in the frontal plane
THE MADNESS HAS GOT TO STOP!
Exercise is for the benefit of the body, not its detriment! There is no sense whatsoever in building great cardiovascular fitness if it means you may, eventually, lose your ability to simply WALK.
In the case of each of these three runners, their severe injuries were totally PREVENTABLE. What got in the way? Here’s what we heard:
“I have to keep going. I HAVE to run.”
“I signed up for a race. I HAVE to train.”
Really, people? Why are so many of you willing to risk serious and possible long-term damage to your body, AND possibly lose the ability to participate in the sports you profess to love? Actually, what each of these runners signed up for is surgery, rehabilitation, the possibility of no running ever again, and early-onset osteoarthritis.
70% of all runners are injured in a calendar year. 70%! If you are a runner reading this, it is likely you have been one of them. Is it hopeless? Absolutely NOT!
You need to be to be proactive and build a solid frame BEFORE you rev the motor.
You must take preventative measures to develop muscular balance in your chassis to avoid injury.
You must develop proper functional strength, stability, and mobility in order to protect your body to then be able to train effectively.
Finally, you need to continue these productive practices over the long term so that you can train, race, and recover with resiliency year in and year out. It CAN be done!
So how do you do what I’ve outlined above? You can begin your re-education about what true athleticism entails right here by reading our blog and our website. We also invite you to get in touch with us–we can help you put it all together.
My final takeaway is this:
STOP RUNNING THROUGH PAIN! Pain is a signal that something is wrong. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You cannot accomplish any goal or fulfill any dream with a body that is unstable, unbalanced, weak, and broken.
Recently, there has been debate in triathlon circles about the benefit of brick runs. A new school of thought has swept in claiming that running off the bike in training serves no purpose and is of little use. After years of thought on this topic as a coach, and much personal experimentation as an athlete and movement specialist here in our gait analysis lab, here is my perspective on the debate.
In brief, I believe brick runs have great value, but not necessarily for the reasons most people think. In my opinion, the issue of running off the bike should not be presented as a training dilemma or time-saving problem to be solved. Brick runs, in fact, present the opportunity to solve a very important physical MOVEMENT issue for triathletes.
What I know from my work in our gait analysis lab, and confirmed from my own experience, is that it is VERY challenging to get the posterior chain–the glutes, in particular–working properly to be able to run well after cycling. I have personally spent a lot of time practicing and experimenting with ways to trigger better glute activation and involvement before a brick run. I have worked on correct hip flexor stretching, and various dynamic stretching of the entire anterior hip region in order to better activate the posterior chain. I can tell you with certainty that it is very difficult to get the back side of our body going after being on a bike for any length of time. And, to be clear, to run to your potential, your posterior chain–including the glutes–has to not only be firing, but must be strong.
But why do the glutes stubbornly refuse to activate off the bike? It is due to a real physiologic phenomenon known as reciprocal inhibition. Reciprocal inhibition causes the muscles on one side of a joint to relax to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. The posture of cycling involves sustained hip flexion, making the hip flexors short and tight. Reciprocal inhibition then causes the hip extensors, especially the gluteus maximus, to shut down markedly. As we discuss further, you will see how brick runs work effectively to counter this phenomenon.
The discoveries I have made in my own training, as well as what I see in the athletes I coach, prove to me that the following elements are absolutely crucial to one’s ability to optimize the run portion of a triathlon:
You must first understand how important the glutes are in running. And its NOT enough that your glutes are strong (although they MUST be STRONG), they must also be able to act as the PRIMARY extendor of the hip, which is their role. Sometimes the hamstring or low back, due to compensation, tries to over take the role of the glute. First order of business for you is to eliminate compensation wherever possible so that the glutes are doing their job, and then via a platform of functional strength training, get them strong.
You must understand that the glutes work to create hip extension when running to power you down the road. When coming off the bike, the glutes are not doing that job well at all due to reciprocal inhibition. The longer the ride, the greater the inhibition. Therefore…
It is imperative to PRACTICE running off the bike frequently to develop a precise, in-tune FEEL of what it takes to get the glutes working effectively. How can you do that?
? Engage in kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness when you run. Make thoughtful yet subtle adjustments in run posture, especially early on in the run, and periodically throughout the run. Lead with the hips, not the torso; shoulders down/elbows back; stand tall and lengthen your spine are just some of the cues to use.
? Employ a higher stride rate (at least 90 to 95 stride cycles per minute) and a “shorter” stride to allow for the awareness articulated above and to reduce ground impact forces.
? In your training, every few times you do a brick run, take a few minutes before going out on the run, to moderately and smartly stretch the flexors of the hip. This should be done correctly, from a neutral pelvic position, and done dynamically and with control. Own this movement pattern before running.
? Begin your run out of T2 very conservatively. Allow a few minutes for the body to “find” its correct running form naturally. You want your running to be AUTHENTIC, which is to say driven primarily by the glutes. If you start running too intensely or too fast, it is less likely the run will be glute driven–and the risk of poor performance and injury increase.
? Practice brick runs frequently, BUT combine the running with the proper awareness we discussed. If you do that, the authentic run groove can be established more easily and more quickly.
For the record, I am not saying that frequent brick runs, in and of themselves, fix the inherent problem we are discussing here. If your butt is weak and asleep, then no amount of bricks can change that, and in fact, will only groove poor movement and inefficient running. Running off the bike alone cannot and will not make you a stronger and faster triathlete.
What I am saying is that as a triathlete, you must first understand how crucial an issue this is. The inherent challenges that exist when going from cycling to running ARE NOT about the training effect of bike to run, but are about quality MOVEMENT. Your glutes must be strong, and they must fire in order for you to run well. If you do the work and strengthen the posterior chain, then the last piece of the puzzle is using the brick run often and effectively to groove the transition from strong powerful cycling to strong, powerful fatigue-resistant, injury-resistant running.
In the end, brick runs help you address a MOVEMENT ISSUE crucial to your triathlon success. It is not a “training” issue. And it is a real mistake to view brick runs as unnecessary or expendable,
It is clear to me that coaches who diminish the importance of brick runs simply do not understand physical movement, where true running speed really comes from, the importance of the glutes, and the real impact of reciprocal inhibition. Frequent brick runs, built upon authentic movement and gluteal strength, will lead to better, more efficient, more powerful, more skilled running off the bike.
I believe it is something every triathlete benefits from when approached in the correct way, and with clear intent.
Pursuit Athletic Performance (PAP) is bringing their clinical gait analysis and sports-movement expertise to Fleet Feet Sports, 1003 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, CT.
Each Wednesday evening, Coach Al Lyman and Dr. Kurt Strecker will offer 90-minute personalized in-depth gait analysis and full-body functional muscle and joint examination for runners who register. Following the analysis, a customized report outlining an athlete’s key limiters will be provided. An exercise prescription will also be developed to build strength and stability, as well as to remove compensations and dysfunctional movements that severely limit running performance. If required, experts from Select Physical Therapy and Fleet Feet store are also available will work with athletes to optimize performance.
More information and registration is available here. The cost for the 90-minute session is $295. As a special thank you, PAP will offer each runner who signs up a $50 Fleet Feet gift certificate to ensure each athlete has the correct shoes and gear.
Said Dr. Kurt Stecker, Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, “The sporting world has been abuzz with news of ‘functional movement analysis’ and ‘core conditioning’. The movement-based analysis and training we provide at Pursuit Athletic Performance is the same philosophy embraced by professional teams like the Atlanta Falcons and the Indianapolis Colts. Endurance athletes–like runners, cyclists and triathletes–are also discovering the immense benefits that come with training from a foundation of functional strength and stability.”
“It makes no sense to build fitness on top of dysfunction,” continued Coach Al Lyman. “Through our gait analysis and follow-up prescriptive training, you absolutely will run more efficiently, and you will get faster. PAP will help you unlock your full-potential, and your risk of injury will plummet.”
Fleet Feet owner Stephanie Blozy discussed why they created the “Performance Corner,” and entered into the partnership with PAP and Select Therapy. “As we designed the new store, we knew we needed a special space to offer a higher level of movement and injury analysis. We sought to partner with organizations that can bring cutting-edge analysis and performance improvement programs to the store. Pursuit Athletic Performance and Select Physical Therapy are the best practitioners out there.” she said.
Pursuit Athletic Performance was founded by Coach Al Lyman, CSCS, FMS, HKC and Dr. Kurt Strecker, DC, CCSP. Their top-notch reputation in the industry attracts athletes from all over the US and Europe. Most recently, they have worked with elite endurance athletes like Lisbeth Kenyon, three-time Ironman Triathlon age-group World Champion and course record holder, and Debbie Livingston, ultra-distance champion, and winner of the Grindstone 100, the east coast’s most difficult endurance trail run. They can also point to outstanding success with hundreds of age-group athletes at all levels of ability.
The Fleet Feet Sports “Performance Corner” is located at 1003 Farmington Ave.,
West Hartford, CT. 860.233.8077.
We were delighted to receive this testimonial from one of our rock star clients, Steve Arendt. Steve came to us with a litany of injuries, and a spiraling downward trajectory in terms of running performance and training consistency. Instead of continuing to try and cram fitness on top of injury and dysfunction, he put his head down, did the work to get strong, stable, balanced and mobile. He is now seeing the benefit of his dedication, and it’s just the beginning of an athlete unleashed!
Thanks, Steve! We know there are great things in store for your training and racing!
I’m a runner and triathlete — I love the lifestyle and the feeling of being strong and fast. About two years ago I started on a downward spiral of running injuries: SI joint, piriformis, calves, and Achilles tendons. I grew to fear running — even when I took time off, it seemed like yet another injury would crop up as soon as I started running again. It was ruining my races because I couldn’t train with consistency. I tried all the usual things: massage, compression, stretching, icing, but the injuries just kept coming. I knew something bigger was wrong, but I didn’t know what.
So I flew out to Al and Kurt for a gait analysis. What a revelation! The Functional Movement Screen was eye-opening — I couldn’t believe how weak I was in some areas. I’ve been following Al and Kurt’s program for about 3 months now, and the results are amazing. I’ve been able to restart running and am slowly building back up (without injury). Running feels completely different now — I used to feel like I was plodding, but now I feel like I’m gliding along, light and easy. And my pace is about 30 to 45 seconds per mile faster with the same effort. The program is a lot of work, but its worth it.
Most importantly, with Al and Kurt’s explanations, I understand what I am trying to accomplish, so I know what to focus on. No more random exercises that might help or hurt the problem. And since I know what I’m trying to do, I can feel when I start losing form due to fatigue or lack of focus, and I can correct it.
Oh yeah, the swim. I went to Al and Kurt for help with running, but their program had an immediate effect on my swimming. I gained a nice bump in speed just from the improved core stability and strength. That was an unexpected, but very welcome, benefit.
I’m VERY excited for the coming race season, when I can try out my new run on the competition!