Sunday, July 31, 2011

Running in the heat

These high temperatures affect comfort, safety and speed.  Instead of  just reading humidity and guessing how it will feel to run outside, record the dew point (in degrees F) and the current temperature (in degrees F) and add them together.

This will give you an idea of whether your run/race will suck or not:

Temp+dewpoint of 90-100 is probably ideal, but anything below 130 is pretty much OK to go for the fast time…maybe 120 for longer distances…say 1/2 marathon or above. Between 130-150 will see a gradual slowdown in pace, and if it’s above 150, forget pace altogether and just focus on finishing.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Explanation of Barefoot Running Benefits - Video - WCVB Boston

Includes interview from DR Dan Liebermann

Running: Segment Two - Video - WCVB Boston


Great Video - Barefoot Running Style

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What is Paleo Running?

Paleo means prehistoric, early, or primitive. 

Paleo Running means running the way we were intended to run. The way we ran eons ago, before the Nike Air Sole or the Reebok Pump were invented to mess up our gaits. We ran barefoot (or near-barefoot) and with a gait that uses the forces of nature to our advantage (which also prevents injury). 

How did we run before we tried to correct our pronation or supination with expensive shoes and corrective insoles? No one had to teach us running form and we didn't have to buy fancy contraptions to "correct" our bodies for running. We were built to runRunning is (used to be, anyway) an instinct. 

In order to survive on the planet 30,000 years ago, early man (and woman) had to run (and run well!) to flee from predators, or to persistence hunt. It wasn't an option. As we evolved, our bodies adapted to our environment and our endurance running needs to improve our survivability. For example, we have been given better heat tolerance than non-endurance (but speedy) animals like predators(cheetahs and panthers) and prey (rabbits and antelope). We even grew springy tendons that our closest evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, doesn't share. The chimp is not made to be a runner. It's a better tree-swinger. Ever wonder why it can be as difficult to stand in a line for two hours as it is to run for two hours? Standing in place requires work from all the the muscles designed to keep our tendons locked in one position. Our bodies were built to move in certain ways (which don't include standing for hours or sitting in front of a TV or computer)!

If paleo running is an instinct, does that mean I can just go out and do it? 

Not anymore. Not if you've un-instinctivized your feet and your muscles and trained them to run with additional (possibly injurious) support. Shedding one's shoes for the first time, or reducing one's footwear to the most minimalist of covering and support will induce soreness (and probably injury). 


First, you're no longer using that natural and effective running gait. You probably had that wonderful, natural gait when you were a very small child, before you started buying well-soled, thick, springy running shoes. 

Watch a three-year old run. Maybe not the most graceful sight, but I'll bet she lands midfoot and "fall-runs" (leans forward from the ankles, hips forward, lifting her heels - taking advantage of gravity). 

Now watch the average runner, clad in thick, bouncy running shoes. Nine times out of ten, that runner is heel-striking. Bang! Heel hits ground (body takes the shock of it). Push! Runner uses his small calf muscle to push his 165-pound frame forward. Nowhere is he taking advantage of gravity. Everywhere he is setting himself up for injury. Take those fancy shoes off and try to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes and that runner will likely be on the bench in no time.

Second, you've likely never used the muscles required to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes before. The cushioned shoes that have become every runner's requirement have caused us to lose the muscles required to run safely barefoot. In my case, reverting to the natural, instinctive (barefoot) method of running resulted in me actually creating my arch from where none had previously been. My feet are now stronger than they've ever been. And more effective at doing what they're instinctively designed to do.
Neo: "Why do my eyes hurt?" 
Morpheous: "Because you've never used them before." 
It's like that with running. Learn to run using your body as it was intended to be used. Let your feet do what they have been designed to do. But do it safely. Transition slowly to minimalist shoes. Get a coach who knows barefoot/minimalist running and who will provide you with feedback (seeing yourself run on video is a very big help.)

Go paleo! The runner instinct in you will love you for it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation." In the last couple years, I created "transformation" in my running - from heel striking to mid-foot landing. I also gained much more trail running experience. This can be done through good coaching, practice and mantras.  

When my main goal was to increase cadence, my mantra for weeks was 'tap-tap-tap-tap..' said to the tune of 23 right foots in 15 seconds. 

When I noticed I was spending energy forcing my foot to the ground instead of letting it fall, my mantra became 'lift-lift-lift...'  Lift-lift also works for reminding me to lift my foot up as fast as I can on downhill. In the woods, lifting quickly helps prevent losing traction, and on the roads prevents unintended braking.  

**HAHA, in the middle of an ultra, I borrow from Finding Nemo with "Just keep running, just keep running." Thanks, Ellen, for seeing me through some tough races :). 

Try this one: "light-quick-steps-lift, lift, lift' to help maintain a quick cadence and minimize the time your feet are on the ground - both key cues in barefoot running.

What are some of the things you repeat to yourself (or...out loud, I guess)?

More on Mantras at Runner's World.