Archive for ultrarunning

Breaking News: Pursuit Athletic Performance to Open New Training Facility!

Breaking News:

Pursuit Athletic Performance to open a NEW State-Of-The-Art Training Facility! 

 

Here it is, the exciting news we have been anxiously waiting to share with all of you: Pursuit Athletic Performance is moving into a NEW larger, state-of-the-art training facility! We are growing and expanding!  We are super-psyched and we hope you are too!!

Centrally located in Chester, Connecticut at the top of Inspiration Lane (no, we are not making that up!), this facility (much larger than our present space at nearly 8000 sq ft) will provide more than enough space for:

  • group and individual adult and youth classes and personal training
  • triathlon, running, cycling, AND field sport (soccer, lacrosse) camps and workshops
  • a computrainer bike studio (aka the Pain Cave)
  • an expanded state-of-the-art gait analysis lab
  • treatment areas for chiropractic, massage, and more
  • a kitchen (which will evolve into a cool, fun and relaxing hang out space)
  • and much more!

We are also excited to announce we will be sharing space in our new facility with TrueForm Runner treadmills. We’ll have up to 8 of those amazing non-powered treadmills lining the front glass wall!

Situated so that as you run on them, you’ll be looking out into “inspiration” woods, the TrueForms are a fantastic training tool to enhance your running technique and strength and will be here for you, ready to help you improve and stay motivated with your runnnig during the cold winter months!

Plans are in place to offer a wide array classes for both adults AND kids (think yoga, adult bootcamp/strength and fitness, youth bootcamps, and more), and even winter long weekly INDOOR triathlons! With computrainers for cycling, TrueForm treadmills for running, and Vasa Ergometers for swimming, it’ll be easy!

The pictures below are just a tiny SNEAK PEAK of what is to come.  Construction is ongoing: the lights are still being worked on (which is why you see the glass from the lights hanging), inspirational and motivational “fathead” wall art and photos are being added daily, and much more. Each of the training spaces including mirrors and floors are still to be added. As for the computrainer studio (aka Pain Cave), it is just about ready to go!  We are just a few weeks away from being ready to rock!

We HOPE you’re as excited as we are!  PLEASE tell your friends and EVERYONE you know!

More information and news, including the OFFICIAL GRAND OPENING, will be coming soon!

Make it a great day everyone!  We can’t wait to see you in Chester!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

MORE On Running Biomechanics and Footstrike Patterns…

Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM

Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM

We recently had Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM on our podcast (episode 47) to discuss all things running!

Biomechanics, foot strike patterns, running shoe design and use, barefoot running, and much more are topics we covered. If you missed that podcast you definitely want to check it out. Go here.

Dr. Kirby gave a new lecture on July 30th 2014 entitled: “Running Footstrike: Rearfoot, Midfoot or Forefoot, Which is Best?” 

One of our passions here at Pursuit Athletic Performance is dispelling training MYTHS, especially those that are hurtful to those who don’t know any better. For example, one of our most read blog posts from the past was one we did on the MYTHS associated with “gait analysis,” especially the kind you’ll get in a running shoe store (hint: it isn’t gait analysis at all!). Didn’t read that one? You can find it here.

We also believe it is important to highlight science-based information from true experts when it becomes available. This very recent lecture by Dr. Kirby helps us achieve both.

To view the lecture go here:

Thank you Dr. Kirby.

Make it a great day everyone!

~Coach Al 

050: An Interview With Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler, D.P.M., Ph.D. [Podcast]

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Dr. Tamera Hew

Tamera Hew-Butler D.P.M., Ph.D.

Hi Everyone! Today I am honored and pleased to welcome Dr. Tamara Hew-Butler as a guest on our podcast. Let me say this right up front: In my opinion, this is a MUST LISTEN podcast for every endurance athlete who has ever wondered what the science really says about hydration and sodium/salt intake during exercise. What a fitting way to celebrate our 50th episode! :)

An award winning assistant professor of Exercise Science in the School of Health Sciences at Oakland University, Dr. Hew is recognized around the world as an expert researcher and scientist. A runner who enjoys training and competing, she has authored 50 scientific papers in such peer-reviewed journals as the Journal of Neuroscience, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, and Sports Medicine, among others.  A bonus for us, is that Dr. Hew is a really nice, down-to-earth science “geek” (her words), who truly enjoys sharing what she knows with others, and as she puts it, “helping her family of runners” around the globe.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Hew present at the “Medicine and Science in Ultra Endurance Sports” conference on June 24th in Squaw Valley, CA., in the week leading up to the Western States 100 Endurance Run. In the conference Dr. Hew presented on the “Spectrum of Exercise Associated Hyponetremia.”  

In this podcast, we enjoyed discussing so many things very important to every athlete. Whether you’re a runner doing an occasional 5k or marathon, or a triathlete doing multiple ironman distance events, or an ultra runner training for 50mile up to 100mile events, you will WANT TO TUNE in to this podcast to hear what Dr. Hew has to say.

Among the topics and questions we discuss are:

  • Hyponetremia: What is it and what are the risk factors (exercise induced) to be aware of?
  • Dehydration: What does it mean to be dehydrated? What can I do to ensure I don’t become either dehydrated or OVER hydrated during exercise?
  • What is the role of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) / arginine vasopressin (AVP) during exericse and how does that impact how much we should drink?
  • Sodium balance and salt intake during extreme exercise: Do you need to take in salt/sodium during long events? If so, how much and how would you know?
  • Some companies looking to sell their products espouse the importance of the perfect electrolyte blend: Does such a thing exist? Do you really need a “balanced spectrum” of electrolyes during extreme exercise or is sodium alone adequate?
  • How reliable are our own body’s signals to either drink OR take in salt, when we’re training and racing?
  • What does it mean when we feel the desire or need to urinate during exercise? Is peeing a reliable indicator of hydration or electrolyte status?
  • And much more, including briefly touching on protein intake during exercise.

There are so many companies marketing to us and so much anecdotal evidence and personal opinion from internet experts. It is refreshing to hear a true expert share her thoughts on these topics, gleaned from many years of study, research, and experience.

I’d like to convey my sincerest thanks to Dr. Hew for joining me today. I know you will learn a great deal from listening, so tune in and enjoy! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

048: Listener Questions: Becoming a Better Runner, Swim Training and More! [Podcast]

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Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Team PURSUIT triathlete Megan Pennington, on her way to the OVERALL WIN at the Litchfield Hills Triathlon!

Today we dig into some great questions sent in to us from listeners.  The first has to do with becoming a BETTER runner, something nearly every triathlete and pure runner has thought about at one time or another (or a few thousand times!) :)

Whether it’s right here in our Pursuit Athletic Performance lab during a gait analysis, or out on the trail or road OR over a beer at the local pub, we always relish the opportunity to talk to anyone about running.  (Anyone who knows Coach, KNOWS how much he can talk, talk, and talk some more about this topic!). No apologies necessary though – running has been a passion of Coach Al’s since first running “Boston” in 1983.

Every so often though, a conversation with a frustrated triathlete turns to a sort of self depricating exchange where they end up telling us (trying to convince us, or themselves, perhaps?) why they CAN’T be as good a runner as they really would “like” to be.  Whether this self-doubt stems from a long period of training struggle or chronic running-related injury, the bottom line is that most triathletes have much more running ability inside of them waiting to get out than they realize! They just don’t know how to GET it out!  In the podcast, we offer some real and practical suggestions to take your running to a new level.

In case you’re one of those who is impatient and curious and can’t wait to listen, here are some hints:

  1. No! It isn’t necessarily about planking, more of it, or doing it differently.
  2. No, it won’t necessarily be “easy.”  While we offer some practical suggestions that you CAN implement tomorrow in your training, the truth is that it generally takes a long time to “get good” as a runner, all things being equal.

Also, we jump in on some questions about all things swim training for the triathlete.

  • Is it REALLY worthwhile to spend time doing kicking sets if I am racing in a wetsuit and generally never kick in a race?
  • Why is the coach writing “hypoxic” sets for us anyway? Is it really valuable, and if so, why?
  • And more!

Thanks for joining us! Make it a great day!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

047: An Interview With Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM [Podcast]

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Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM

Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM

Today we’re pleased to have Dr. Kevin Kirby, DPM as a guest on our podcast. Dr. Kirby has been a practicing podiatrist since graduating from the California College of Podiatric Medicine in 1983.

Dr. Kirby has authored or co-authored 26 articles in peer-reviewed journals, has authored or co-authored five book chapters, and has authored four books on foot and lower extremity biomechanics and orthosis therapy, three of which have been translated into Spanish language editions. He has invented numerous techniques and tests used by podiatrists around the world, and has lectured internationally on 33 separate occasions in China, Spain, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia, England, Dominican Republic and Canada over the past 23 years on foot and lower extremity biomechanics, foot orthoses, and sports medicine. He has also lectured extensively throughout the United States. He was also a national caliber elite level runner in his younger years, so he knows what it is like to train hard and run fast. The bottom line: this gentleman knows his stuff!

Coach Al: I met Dr. Kirby at the “Medicine and Science in Ultra Endurance Sports” conference on June 24/25  in Squaw Valley, CA., in the week leading up to the Western States 100 Endurance Run. In the conference Dr. Kirby presented on “Minimalist Running and Footstrike Patterns,” a topic he’s lectured on many times around the world.  (If you missed our podcast with the Western Statess 100 womans 2nd place finisher, Larisa Dannis, you can listen here.)

In this podcast, we enjoyed discussing so many things very important to runners, such as:

  • Is there a “best” shoe for every runner?
  • What does the research say about footstrike patterns for runners? Is there an optimal or preferred footstrike?
  • How does running speed impact footstrike?
  • What has been learned in a lifetime of running, and nearly 30 years as a practicing podiatrist?
  • How can we discern between true experts who can and will give us sound science-based advice, vs. the self proclaimed experts found on many websites?
  • And more, including some great practical tips and advice for runners of every age and ability level.

More: In 2010, Dr. Kirby was asked by Runner’s World magazine editor, Amby Burfoot, to participate in a “Barefoot vs. Shod” debate in Runner’s World. That article can still be read online here.

On his website, kirbypodiatry.com, you will find a plethora of published articles and papers, as well as video links to a lecture series on barefoot vs. shod running. We definitely recommend you check these articles and videos out – the page is truly a treasure trove of interesting reading for anyone interested in running biomechanics.

In the podcast, we talk about a video Dr. Kirby used in his presentation at the conference, comparing footstrike from the elite male leaders at the 2010 Boston Marathon.  You can see that video hereOf the six elite runners in the video, 3 are rearfoot strikers and 3 are midfoot strikers.

Dr. Kirby recently wrote an article titled “Emerging Evidence on Footstrike Patterns in Running,” published in Podiatry Today magazine. This article does a great job of summarizing some of the research references we discuss on the podcast. 

Also, if you haven’t yet downloaded our own FREE e-book titled “Baby Steps: A Runner’s Guide to Feet, Shoes, and Dating,” you can do that here.

Lastly, we’d like to convey our sincere thanks to Dr. Kirby (and to you!) for joining us for this great podcast. Happy Trails!

~Coach Al and Dr. Strecker

046: An Interview With The Amazing Larisa Dannis! [Podcast]

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Ultra-Runner Larisa Dannis (2nd Woman overall at the 2014 Western States 100) smiling as she rolled into the 100k aid station at Western States!

Ultra-Runner Larisa Dannis (2nd Woman overall at the 2014 Western States 100) smiling widely as she rolled into the 100k aid station at Western States!

Today I’m really excited (I mean, REALLY excited!) to be able to share a wonderful conversation with elite ultra-runner and friend Larisa Dannis, on the heels of her recent 2nd place finish at the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run. In a nutshell, Larisa simply shocked the ultra-running world and took it by storm with her amazing finish!

Also, Larisa and I were joined by Pursuit Athletic Performance ultra-runner extraordinaire (and Larisa’s pacer for Western States), Deborah Livingston.  If you haven’t yet, check out my chat /podcast with Deb from a few weeks ago here, where among other things, we talk about Deb pacing Larisa at Western States 100!

At the very young age of 26, Larisa has already accomplished more than most runners could ever even imagine.  And believe me, she’s done it all with incredible toughness, class, a huge smile, and a zest for life!

Here are just a few of her most recent racing highlights:

  • 2013 Vermont 100 Endurance Race: 18:38:10; 1st woman, 8th overall
  • 2013 Peak Ultra 50 Mile: 10:40:27, 1st overall
  • 2013 Zion 100 Trail Run: 20:22:23, 2nd woman, 10th overall
  • 2013 Beast of Burden Winter 50 mile: 7:18:35, 1st overall, women’s course record
  • 2014 Rocky Racoon 100 Mile: 17:10:30, 4th woman, 19th overall
  • 2014 Boston Marathon: 2:44:14, 33rd woman overall (1st in the non elite field), 17th American woman
  • 2014 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run: 18:29:18, 2nd woman, 22nd overall

Our chat is jam packed with incredibly powerful pearls of wisdom that every athlete, regardless of experience level or sport, will absolutely want to hear.  Among the many topics we delve into:

  • Larisa’s development as an ultra-runner; her childhood background including what ultimately led her to follow her passion of ultra-running (not what you might expect but intriguing and very powerful none the less!).
  • Her philsophy on eating and fueling (she considers herself a low-carb, high-fat runner, but is she? Listen in to find out.)
  • Her “mental” approach: thoughts, strategies, and wisdom from inside the mind of a truly unique and humble elite ultra-runner.
  • What’s next?  Larisa shares some of her long terms goals and what she hopes to accomplish. (and she’s not even competitive!)
  • And much more!

Larisa is wise beyond her years. We can ALL learn from her AND be inspired by her, not only as it pertains to training, running and racing, but perhaps most importantly, life in general.

If you want to learn more about Larisa and follow her developments, check out her blog here.

For more interviews (including Larisa’s) from the Western States 100 (and other ultra events), check out irunfar.com

Thanks for joining me on this podcast – it was a ton of fun to host! Happy Trails!

~Coach Al 

042: Interview with Pursuit Ultra-Runner Debbie Livingston [Podcast]

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Ultra-runner, mom, wife, and coach extraordinaire, Debbie Livingston

Ultra-runner, mom, wife, and coach extraordinaire, Debbie Livingston

Hi Everyone. Coach Al here.  Today I’m thrilled to share an interview I did with elite ultra-runner Debbie Livingston. Debbie and I have worked together for a few years as coach/athlete. She’s well known in local circles as an elite ultra-runner, yoga and pilates teacher, personal trainer, and even as a race director (the Soapstone Mountain trail race sponsored by the Shenipset Striders).

Debbie combines her love of running and racing at a very high level on the trail, with her various roles including mom, wife, citizen, and also as one of our newly appointed coaches here at Pursuit Athletic Performance. We are super excited to have her on board, as she has so much to offer and share with others.

In today’s podcast, we get into all manner of topics that we know you’ll find interesting.

  • Debbie’s racing season – what she’s done to this point (overall wins at Traprock and Peak 50!), as well as what is coming up (Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July, among others).
  • Debbie’s year long journey to find just the right race fuel balance – what she’s tried and how it has come together for her.
  • Her experience with our Comprehensive Metabolic Profile and how learning about her unique issues with dysbiosis and certain food allergies allowed her to heal her gut and improve her overall health AND performance.  (If you missed episode #9 of our podcast, where we discuss the Comprehensive Metabolic Profile in detail, you can listen to it here.)
  • How her movement/strength training is progressing and how she considers this an essential component to her success at the ultra-distance.
  • Her new role as a coach with Team Pursuit Athletic Performance – what caused her to say “yes” to coaching, and what the future holds for her with our team.
  • Her trip out to the Western States 100 next week to help support and pace one of her friends, competitor Larrisa Dannis, as she competes in Western States.  (I’ll be out there as well, first to attend the “Medicine and Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports” Conference, and then to volunteer on race day. Really excited!)
  • And much more!

Thank you Debbie for joining me. I had a blast chatting with you!  I’m looking forward to seeing you out in Squaw Valley!

~Coach Al 

Variety Is Greatly Overrated. Here’s Why! (Including TIPS On How To Progress!)

Despite what some believe, strength is NOT the goal with the movement training we do. Strength is a symptom ….a symptom of moving well.  In a similar vein, speed training is not the optimal path toward improving our fitness.  Improved fitness leads to improved speed potential. Speed is a product of moving well and improved fitness.  

~Coach Al


Strength isn't the goal! Strength is only a symptom of moving well!

Strength isn’t the goal! Strength is only a symptom of moving well!

Here at Pursuit Athletic Performance, Kurt and I believe the true value and benefit to movement based strength training resides in digging DEEPER into the basic skill and integration of  a movement.

In this day and age, with athletes becoming bored so easily and instant gratification being so prevalent in every phase of our life and culture, digging deeper into a movement vs. moving “on” from the movement is often difficult (and even frustrating) for the individual athlete to fully embrace.  We seem to frequently fall victim to the mindset of always looking for the next “great” exercise, the next great “tip,” or how we can blast on to the more “advanced” stuff, thinking its a magic bullet to the success we seek.

Whether or not you like it, the truth is that the devil is in the details and the magic to optimal progression and exploding your potential is in true mastery of the basics and fundamentals.  This single concept, while easy to read, might be the most challenging for the average person to accept and embrace, but it IS the key to long term, meaningful success.

So, yes, variety is greatly overrated.  To reiterate, once the shiny newness of an exercise wears off and you’re “bored” with it because it’s not “new” anymore, you’re forced to get deeper into it, or bail out and just move on to something else “new” and “exciting.”  I’d argue the best choice is the former, not the latter. 

Of course, that being said, there are a great many ways to enhance the quality (and thus results) of the training you are doing, rather than to change exercises.  For example:

1. Use a slower rep speed. 

  1. It’s common for folks to move in and out of movements quickly.
  2. It’s common to see folks come out of the bottom of a movement quickly, rather than “owning” that bottom portion.
  3. Use a count of 4 – 1 – 3 seconds: 4 seconds lowering – 1 second pause at the bottom – 3 seconds raising.
  4. Removing the ‘elastic’ or rebound component to better own each phase of the movement.

2. Decrease your leverage. 

  1. Think about the HUGE difference in difficulty between a double arm push-up with a wide arm position, and a single arm push-up! Huge difference in leverage.
  2. On the topic of stability, a tiny difference in how wide your arms or knees are really changes how difficult the exercise is to do well!

3. Improve your focus and tension! 

  1. Where’s the hard in your exercise coming from?
  • From inside of you? Posture, breathing, focus?
  • Or is it coming from OUTside of you?  Are you thinking a different exercise, or more weight (outside of you) will automatically make you stronger? Not going to happen.
  • We need to consciously PRODUCE that tension, even when moving a relatively small amount of weight.
  • Focus, tension management, radiation of tension throughout!
  • “Intensity” and “strength” isn’t just about moving more weight. Its about bringing a certain level of whole-body tension and focus into every movement.
  • In RKC/HKC circles as well as in power lifting circles, there’s a saying: “If you make your lighter weights feel heavier, your heavier weights will feel lighter.” Practice the focus and tension skills with lighter resistance, you’ll get more benefit from every movement you do!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

We Are All An Experiment of One: Find Out What YOU Need The Most and Then Get It Done!

TEAM Pursuit Athletes at the 2013 Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

TEAM Pursuit Athletes at the 2013 Timberman Half Ironman triathlon!

In order to be able to run as fast and as long as you would like to and remain injury-free while doing it, your running body must be BOTH strong and flexible. Think about this fact: approximately 50% of the energy that propels you forward during the running stride comes from elastic and reactive “energy-return” of your muscles! While you’re taking that in, think about this: at the same time that certain muscles are required to be elastic and reactive, others need to be very stiff and strong, to prevent your body turning into a wet-noodle as your feet hit the ground!

Muscles tense and lengthen and release and stretch (helping to facilitate rotation around your joints while doing all of that!) as they prepare to store energy and absorb outside impact forces and turn that stored energy into forward propulsion. There’s a lot more going on during the stride than you could ever imagine!

And while all of these things are happen within each of our bodies while we run, they happen at different rates of speed and relaxation and ease for each of us. We are, at once the same, and yet very different.

Some of us need more STRENGTH and STIFFNESS in our “chain,” while others need more FLEXIBILITY and ELASTICITY and MOBILITY.  We each have our own “limiters” and weaknesses which may be making us either more prone to injury, or limiting our speed and endurance potential.

So given all of that, do YOU know what your weakness is?

For example…

  • Are you prone to calf injuries because your calves are forced to absorb impact forces due to “too tight” hips?
  • Do you lean back on downhills and “hurt,” suffering from painful quadriceps during those downhills because your quads are too weak to absorb those impact forces and prevent your body from collapsing against the forces of gravity?
  • Are you still landing out in front of your center of mass, even though you know you shouldn’t, because your hams and glutes are not “reactive” enough (too slow) and weak to contract quickly, getting your feet UNDER your hips as you touch down?
  • Does your low back hurt during the late stages of your longer runs or rides because its trying to do the work your butt should be doing?
  • Is your stride short and choppy because your hip flexors are so tight they can’t release to allow your pelvis to rotate forward so that your legs can extend behind you as you drive horizontally forward with each stride?

These are the questions and issues we ALL need to consider, and for each of us, it is different. If you take the time to listen to your body and consider what YOUR weakness or limiters are, then you’ll be able to address it and as a result, improve and run to your true potential!

The answers you are seeking are not always found through “harder” training. Sometimes the answers come when we listen within.  Sometimes things like YOGA or revisiting the BASICS and FUNDAMENTALS, are the path to exploding our true potential, rather than another hard track session.

Our unique Pursuit Athletic Performance “Gait Analysis” system was designed to help us help YOU, learn what it is that YOU need the most! To learn more, go here to learn more about our analysis packages.

Check out our testimonials page here to learn more about the success stories of so many athletes who learned what THEY needed to do to truly explode their potential!

Happy Trails!

~Coach Al

036: Listener Questions! Last Minute Marathon Tips! [Podcast]

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Coach Al at mile 13 of the 1988 Boston Marathon

Coach Al at mile 13 of the 1988 Boston Marathon

 

In today’s podcast, Coach Al goes solo to tackle a couple of listener questions, as well as sharing some “last minute” tips for marathoners everywhere, including those toeing the line this coming Monday for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

Among the topics discussed…

* What causes the burning sensation you get in your legs when you train?

* What causes cramping?

* Should you run the day before the marathon or take it completely off?

* What’s the biggest mistake most marathoners make?

* When should I return to running after the marathon?

* And tips on including speed work if you’re training for an ultra.

* And much more!

Best of luck to all of the Boston Marathon runners and especially to those TEAM HOLE IN THE WALL runners! Have a great race!

                                                                                  All the best,

                                                                                  ~Coach Al