Friday, October 30, 2009

Running is SWEET!

I am back to running and loving life again. Six weeks without any cardio was really a bit much, but I feel like the break was good for me. My morning run was sweet and I felt quite renewed and my toes held up without too much discomfort. Y.E.S.!! I tried to stay focused during my down time and maintained my good eating habits and got leaner in the process. I am physically stronger and I feel like my diet is pretty good. I am trying to lean towards more of a Paleo diet and watching the amount of Gluten that I am ingesting. Experimenting with foods is fun and if I can sleep better and take away my body pain while trying to sleep, life will be even better. I also have some stomach issues that haunt me during my runs, (no pun intended), so maybe I can clear up that issue too.

My brother Wally and I were discussing being focused on our run today. It's funny that we can have all the tools to be the best we can be, but without focus you will not move forward. I am such a scatter-brain, but with my fitness and nutrition, I can remain focused. I am thankful that I am focused on at least one section of my life. I am always wondering what my gift is and if I really have one. I guess I can say the gift of gab and the ability to focus on my body are my two gifts. Hum..... well, better than nothing!

I enjoy reading posts from people who are involved in crossfit. I have never done it, but I hope to experience it one of these days. In the meantime, I am just a lurker and I get inspiration from reading about these crossfitters who thrive on being extraordinary. If everyone could do it, everyone might do it. There is no fun in being ordinary. That's what I like about being an ultrarunner. We are not ordinary runners! We are extraordinary!

While lurking on the Crossfit Portland Girls website, I came across this article about amazing women doing amazing things. It's an article about strong and powerful women. Beautiful women. I think you will agree that this article points to focused women too. Enjoy.

“If I were feeling a little more lawless, I’d gather all the copies of Cosmo and Seventeen, douse them in kerosene, and strike a match. I’d throw in reams of print ads from Calvin Klein and watch with delight as Kate Moss’ stick-thin image was reduced to carbon. I’d add copies of Shape and Runner’s World until the flames reached toward the heavens, and then I’d crank call the editorial desk at Muscle and Fitness until they stopped publishing pictures of women on steroids.I’d get the master tapes of America’s Next Top Model and dub over them with “Nasty Girls”, broadcasting the results on every television station in America. I’d skywrite “” across the Boston skyline, and gently admonish the hoards of long distance runners trotting along the Charles River—with a bullhorn.I’d take every woman with mass media-induced ideals of beauty, and I’d show them what it really means to be beautiful. Beautiful women are strong and powerful. They are athletes, capable of every feat under the sun. They have muscles, borne of hard work and sweat. They gauge their self-worth through accomplishments, not by the numbers on the bathroom scale. They understand that muscle weighs more than fat, and they love the fact that designer jeans don’t fit over their well-developed quads. They know that high repetitions using light weights is a path to mediocrity, and “toning” is a complete and utter myth. They refuse to succumb to the marketers that prey on insecurity, leaving the pre-packaged diet dinners and fat-burning pills on the shelf to pass their expiration date.Beautiful women train with intensity. The derive self-image from the quality of their work and their ability to excel. They don’t wear makeup to the gym, and they wouldn’t be caught dead with a vinyl pink dumbbell. They move iron, they do pull-ups, they jump, sprint, punch, and kick, and they use the elliptical machine—as a place to hang their jump rope. They spend their weekends in sport, climbing walls, winning races, and running rivers. They laugh as they sprint circles around the unschooled, turning the image-obsessed into bench warmers. Beautiful women don’t care if they’re soaked in sweat and covered in dirt, if their nails are chipped or their hair out of place. They care only about quality of life. Beautiful women are happy, healthy, and strong, and they’re right there beside me, tossing conventional beauty on the ever-growing flames of what used to be.
Be beautiful.

By Jon Glisan

Friday, October 23, 2009

Should I run barefoot today?

There has been so much talk lately about barefoot running. Stores can't stock enough of the Vibram Five fingers. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and start running without shoes. I have to say I have been skeptical. My feet are so tender that I don't even like going barefoot in a carpeted room. I can't even fathom running barefoot. I have a mild pronation problem and I wear orthotics because my ankle hurts when I don't. I don't know how many times I have stubbed my toe on a rock while running and broken my toenail and had people shriek with fear when they saw me in sandals. I have had sore heals and blistered toes. Ouch, just the thought of barefoot running makes me cringe.

I read this article by Al Lyman with interest. He sheds some interesting light on the whys and why nots of running barefoot and some interesting facts about shoes and running performance.

Al Lyman is a nationally recognized coach, author, columnist and motivational speaker who coaches endurance athletes. His resume includes certifications from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research and The National Strength and Conditioning Assoc. He is also an accomplished marathoner, 8x Ironman finisher and a 3x World Ironman finisher.

Running Shoes and Barefoot Running:
Musings From a Coach
Coach Al Lyman, CSCS

Among the most common questions I receive from runners are those asking about different brands and types of running shoes, and how differences in design affect form and function. With the increasing popularity of minimalist lightweight designs including Vibram’s 5-finger shoes (which mimic the feeling of being barefooted), as well as actual barefoot running, now is a good time to share some thoughts on shoes, form, and function. While I am not a biomechanist or shoe expert, I hope these musings that come from my own practical experience and study, are helpful. The questions I get usually follow similar themes: Is one shoe type or brand better than another? Should I try to change the way I run by changing to a different type of shoe? Should I be doing more barefoot running?

My first recollection of having given serious thought to differences in running shoe design and their specific relation to form, injury, and performance, was in 1991 while watching the World Cross Country Championships at Boston’s Franklin Park. The best runners in the world ran explosively and seemed to be extraordinarily resilient, despite wearing very little on their feet to protect them, or absorb impact stress. Since that time, the concepts surrounding how shoe design affects running performance and injury resistance for the average runner have been a constant in my own study and research. Fast forward to this year’s National Strength and Conditioning Association’s national conference in Las Vegas, where among the speakers I heard was well known PT and author, Gray Cook. Gray mentioned that after reading the book “Born to Run,” he was telling every runner he met to run barefooted exclusively. I sat there, somewhat stunned, at what I felt was a broad and perhaps haphazard recommendation, because I believed that while some runners could do well with barefooted running if they progressed smartly, many others who took his comments to heart might end up having more injuries, not less. They would inevitably try to do too much too soon, or suffer issues due to either a lack of running-specific functional / core strength or because of less-than “perfect” natural biomechanics.

That being said, I do believe many runners can benefit from integrating barefoot walking and running into their routine, as long as it is done in a controlled manner. I often program progressive barefoot workouts on the treadmill for athletes I coach, to help build lower-leg strength, dynamic flexibility, and also to help them make subtle adjustments to their form. Being barefooted is particularly helpful for runners who have a tendency to over stride. You simply can’t, when you don’t have the heel protection that a typical running shoe provides. These sessions involve subtle and progressive increases in grade, as well as backward walking and running to build balanced strength. Besides creating a new awareness of foot-strike, the ultimate benefit to these kinds of workouts is something we could all use more of: increased dynamic strength and flexibility, mobility, and resiliency of the lower leg and ankle, along with increased proprioceptive awareness and stronger intrinsic foot muscles.

Should you change the type of shoe you wear, or make wholesale changes to your run form based in part on shoe type? While the book, “Born to Run,” inspired Gray Cook to tell everyone they should immediately start running barefooted, I do NOT believe it is smart to do anything that results in an instant and/or arbitrary change in the way you run or the way your foot hits the ground, especially exclusively. Yes, there are things that each of us can do to improve or “tweak” our form, all of which could help us to become faster and more efficient, such as improving our posture, quickening our cadence, or driving our knee forward more while we drive our elbows back, to create more horizontal (not vertical) movements. Wholesale arbitrary changes however, are almost always a mistake, especially if done exclusively. The reason is simple and important: the way we move and run is a function of how we are uniquely put together as well as how our bodies have adapted to our daily lifestyle. Do we sit a lot and rarely stretch? Have we become immobile around the hips, lumber spine, and trunk? All of these factors dramatically impact how we move and function, and thus run.

o TIP: in my opinion, the single best way to improve running form is to improve your hip and ankle mobility, and develop a stronger core and run specific functional strength. These attributes will lead to shorter ground contact time (desirable), a natural, not forced increase in stride length (desirable), and a more stable pelvis during stance (desirable), all of which will improve your form and can reduce injury risk and improve efficiency and speed. While it could be argued that a mid-foot strike is optimal for efficient and fast running, and that more of the world’s best runners do land with a mid-foot strike, as of yet I know of no objective scientific evidence that says unequivocally that a mid-foot strike is “better” for ALL of us.

o TIP: when you run, you can focus on landing and thus loading your body UNDER your hips, which will result in better balance and less braking. When you do this, inevitably you will land more mid-foot. The key is how you get there, and how you define a heel vs. a mid-foot strike, as notice I used the word “load”. Very often we see good runners whose heel touches first, but they are not “loading” the stance leg with weight until the foot is beneath the hips. Conversely, loading the foot while it is out in front of your body, even slightly, can increase braking and impact stress. The best way to avoid doing this is to gradually work on increasing your cadence to 85-95 stride cycles-per-minute, improve hip mobility and flexibility, and integrate some short progressive periods of barefoot running. Be extremely cautious if you decide to go out and buy a minimalist shoe thinking you can change the way you run, just by wearing that shoe. Doing that may shock your body into moving a vastly different way, resulting in compensatory changes and increased stress on tissues that may not be ready to handle that stress. That could lead to a much higher risk of injury if you progress too quickly.

The same is true for barefoot running: a little can be beneficial – but a lot, especially progressed too fast, can end up causing injury, not preventing it. Most experts agree: only about 20% of the world’s running population have near ideal biomechanics and a neutral gait and can run barefooted or with a minimalist shoe without increased risk of injury.

The remaining 80% fall somewhere off of that “ideal” baseline and need to be smarter about how they progress with either shoes or barefooted running. Recently in a discussion I had with certified chiropractic sports physician and running injury expert, Kurt A. Strecker, DC, CCSP, he said: “minimalist shoes can often be a shock to the system.

Most of us don't spend our entire lives barefoot. We've worn shoes, often not good ones, our entire lives. I wouldn't run 26.2 miles without training and I don't think it's a good idea to ask the kinetic chain of the lower extremities and lumbar spine to absorb the loads imparted by running with minimal support or cushioning, without significant preparation.” Here are a few more TIPS that I hope help you in your search for the perfect shoe and stride: ·

How our feet impact the ground when we run involves different factors that are unique for each of us:

o Poor posture, which leads to poor skeletal stacking and muscular stress.

o Hip mobility or lack thereof, which greatly increases compensatory patterns and reduces your body’s ability to absorb and transfer energy via the stretch / shortening cycle.

o Lack of frontal plane (glute medius/hip rotator) balance and strength, which results in loss of stability and energy leaks.

o Poor flexibility or elasticity in the quads and hip flexors, which puts the pelvis out of neutral and creates compensations elsewhere which reduce efficiency. The point being, a change in foot wear or any other arbitrary change, without first addressing how strong and mobile your foundation is, is short sighted and may end up resulting in injury.

· Progressive barefoot walking and running can be beneficial for many runners if done in moderation and in a controlled, progressive manner. Yes, with short progressive periods of barefoot work on a treadmill, grass or trail, you can strengthen the lower legs and feet, develop more natural mechanics, and make your body more resilient. Just remember to be patient!

· If you use orthotics due to a biomechanical issue that was identified by a foot doctor or PT, you should continue to wear them, but at the same time continue strengthening your legs and feet and improve your hip mobility, with an eye toward hopefully needing less support from these devices as time goes on.

· Seek out a high quality running shoe store to purchase your shoes: My personal favorite is FLEET FEET SPORTS. Their staff is well trained and I like their approach to shoe fit. Remember, you usually get what you pay for.

· The road to faster, injury free running is paved with smart, diligent, progressive,patient, hard work. There is no easy way or quick fix to better running form, strength, mobility, or elasticity. Seek a path that avoids fads or quick fixes, and focus on established fundamentals. Become stronger, more mobile, more flexible, and train smart. In the end, you’ll run faster and be much happier.

· Lastly, get feedback from an expert by way of a video running form / gait analysis. For information or recommendations on how I can help you with this valuable service, email me at Thanks for reading, and best of luck!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Can I run now? Please.........

I have taken a few days off from blogging as I have been frantically painting three large rooms in our house. I seriously have more paint on my face and clothes than are on the walls. Actually, the house looks amazing. It's exciting to do something I never thought I could do. If I ever lose my job I may have to try my hand at interior house painting. I am actually pretty good, if I have to say so myself.

Today marks the fifth week since my toe surgery. I have been wearing a blue post op shoe since my operation. It's not blue anymore, I take that back. I stepped into the painting tray a couple of days ago and it is now speckled and trashed out looking. Anyhoo, I was having my coffee this morning and it seemed like the perfect day to dump the speckled shoe and go for a swim. I called my Doctor and asked him what he thought. "Can I please swim?" "Can I please wear regular shoes?" Guess what he said? He gave me a big thumbs up!! So off I went to the pool and swam for 30 minutes. My toe felt weird and a little achy, but I was so happy to be out there. Tomorrow I am going to walk in the park and next week maybe I can try to jog. We'll see. Things are looking up for me in my neck of the woods. I have been hitting the gym and doing a lot of upper body strengthening. I can now do 5 pull ups x 3. I remember last year not being able to do one of them. :) So life is looking up for me and I am really thankful to be able to ease my way back to the trails. It will be 6 weeks by the time I can try out a slow run. I can't wait.

"If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I have a secret I must confess: every once in awhile, especially since I have been laid up with an injury, I read POSTSECRET. Check it out if you want.

Today is a terribly rainy day with high winds. My toe is sore and I am feeling kinda blah today. I wish I could get out and feel the rain on my face, but it's just not going to happen. I think I am starting to feel a little sorry for myself. I am having my own secret pity party.

Last week, when I was feeling a little bit overwhelmed with my post recovery situation, I noticed a guy at the gym that I have seen many times before. He walks with a horrible limp and the sole of his right shoe is built up and taller than the left. He ambulates with a back and forth motion. Here I was feeling fed up with this ugly surgical shoe, my back aching and my heel throbbing, and I see him. He lives his life with this condition. He can not run. He has a very skinny right leg that will never be strong. He has lived and will live the rest of his life with this deformity. I realized how shallow I was that day. In a month I will be back to running and living my normal life. Soon, I will forget that I even had the surgery. On the other hand, this guy will continue on with a situation he can't control or change.

I had a choice to have this surgery. He does not get a choice. I am sorry that I am so shallow that I could even feel sadness for myself. Today, with the wind howling and the rain pelting down, I am thankful that I am whole and healthy. I am thankful for this downtime and for the life that I have.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Meet Harry Deupree

Check out this guy if you need inspiration. Meet 70 something, Harry Deupree. I love stories like this.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Nice Weekend

My upper body is going to look soooo good by the time I can run again........
I've been back at the gym and feeling strong. It's funny how strong I feel lifting weights when I am not running. I kinda feel like a superstar. Just kidding. Thursday, I go back to the Doctor to have my sutures out and hopefully get the dressing off of my foot. I can't wait. The bummer is that when I touch my toes through the bandages it feels like it has been burned and that it is RAW. I can't imagine wearing socks and shoes after Thurs. We will see.

On the running side of things. I do have to say that I miss running more than I thought I would. The downtime has been good in a lot of ways, but I find myself longing to run on the trails and I feel like I've got that horrible condition called FOMO. (Fear of missing out). So many of my friends have just finished some incredibly beautiful 100 milers and Suz is busy busting up the road in preparation for her first 24 hour run. Instead of running, I got hyper one day and tore the butt ugly wood paneling off of the wall in our family room. Now I am trying to figure out what to do with the wall that is covered in dried glue and lots of little holes. It's a project that is definitely keeping me busy. It's a project that I wouldn't have touched if I was busy running in the hills. Oh well.

Yesterday, Matt and I went up to the Silverado Country Club in Napa and relaxed poolside for a couple of hours with Wally and Angie and the kids. It was fun to be back up there, as I haven't been there since I was a kid. I felt really nostalgic remembering being there and all the fun we had when we were little. I thought about my Dad a lot yesterday. He has been gone for 20 years now.

Shawn, Matt and I went to a party tonight to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of our gym being opened. There was music, dancing and lot's of food and drink. It was really fun to see people we knew, and kind of sad to see how many people we did not know. I recognized a lot of people, but didn't know them to even strike up a conversation with. It was mostly a people watching party and sometimes those are the most fun of all.