Runners and Triathletes: Let’s Go Shoe Shopping!

I’ve noticed that the past couple of times that I’ve gone out for a run that I experienced some soreness in my knees. There are several potential causes of the knee soreness/pain, which we can experience during and after a run. I will discuss these in a future article. One potential cause is worn shoes, which was the case in my situation. I hadn’t made the time to get a new pair of shoes for the new year. Worn shoes are a common cause of a variety of injuries. There are a number of other factors, which can make us susceptible to injury when we run. These will be discussed my next article.

So, another important step we can take to achieving our running and/or triathlon goals for 2015 is by getting a new, or better yet, multiple pairs of running shoes that are the best fit and most appropriate for us. In this article I will give you some guidelines for buying running shoes. Before you go to a running store to buy your new pair of shoes, there are a few factors to consider. One is the type of surface(s) you will be running on. Will you be mostly on trails or road? Another is your foot arch type (high, normal, flat), which can impact whether you supinate (foot tends to roll outward), pronate normally, or overpronate (foot tends to roll inward). Body weight can also be an important factor to consider for shoe selection.

If you don’t know your arch type you can use the water test to determine this.

Water test:

• Dip your foot in water and then step on a heavy piece of paper or cardboard

• The resulting footprint will shoe the shape of the foot

• If the footprint that is curved, showing mostly the heel and ball of the foot with little in the middle is considered a high arch or supinated foot

• If the footprint shows most of the foot and a moderate curve in the middle, the arch is normal

• If the footprint is wide and full with no arch, this is considered an overpronated, or flat foot

You can also determine if you tend to supinate, pronate normally, or overpronate by looking at the wear patterns on the bottom of your shoes.

Shoe wear patterns:

• Normal pronation is indicated by wear that occurs across the heel and ball of the foot

• Runners who overpronate will see significant wear along the outer heel, ball of the foot, and the inside of the forefoot

• Runners who supinate, or have high arches, will mostly wear on the outer edge of the shoe

Now, it’s time to go shopping!

If possible, I recommend sticking with the same type of shoe that has previously worked well for you. Shoe manufacturers make this a challenge because they are constantly changing their models; usually they change models every 6-8 months! So, there is benefit to buying two pairs of shoes that work for you.

Tips on shopping for running shoes:

1. I recommend shopping at a reputable running store with trained personal to help you.

2. If you haven’t done so before, it can be beneficial to be videotaped while running on a treadmill in a running store, which can help better determine if you pronate normally, overpronate, or supinate.

3. If you overpronate, the shoes that will work best for you are those that have extra stability or even motion control, depending on the extent of overpronation. If you supinate, running shoes that have cushioning and flexibility will be most beneficial. If you have a normal arch then get shoes with neutral stability.

4. The store personal should be measuring both the length and width of your foot.

5. Try on multiple pairs of new shoes, from multiple shoe manufacturers.

6. Try on new shoes with the same sock that you wear when running.

7. If you wear orthotics or inserts be sure to wear them when trying on new shoes.

8. Try on both shoes, but fit the running shoes to the larger foot. Do not assume that the shoe will “break-in” if it feels tight to begin with.

9. Try on shoes at the end of the day when your feet are largest because of swelling. Running shoes may need to be one-half to one size larger than normal shoes. Make a decision based on how the shoe fits, not on shoe size on the box.

10. Make sure that all your toes can wiggle freely, and that there is approximately one thumb’s width between the big toe and the end of the shoe, to avoid blistering.

11. The heel should not slip up and down out of the shoe when walking or running.

12. Keep in mind that the most expensive pair of running shoes is not necessarily the best.

13. Make sure the shoe fits the shape of your foot. It should feel comfortable immediately.

14. Practice running in the shoe while you are at the store, if possible on a treadmill, or better yet, outside.

15. Buy a shoe that is breathable. The shoe’s upper (the part of the shoe above the sole) should be made of fabric such as nylon mesh, which allows airflow.

16. Find out the store’s return policy before leaving, in case these shoes don’t work out.

The life of a shoe depends on the type of shoe, how often the runner is training, and what surfaces he/she runs is running on. In general, it’s recommended that running shoes be replaced every 300-500 miles, or every 6 months. Runners who log more than 50 miles a week and heavier runners may need to replace their running shoes more often. Runners should not wait for the sole of the shoe to show signs of wear; by that time the shoe’s cushioning and shock absorption capabilities have already worn down.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

See you on the road or trail,

Coach Brian

Training: Don’t Rush, Ease Back Into Training for 2014

It is now April and you may have already started your training for 2014 events. Hopefully, winter is behind us and we can move ahead with our training outdoors. Last year, this was a bit of a challenge in Colorado and a rude awakening to me coming from Maryland and experiencing my first winter in Colorado. For four consecutive weeks there was a significant snowstorm, with the last occurring on May 1st! Hopefully that won’t be the case this year! The past few mornings have been for running! On Monday, my neighbor Danielle and I were discussing what a beautiful morning it was for running. She’s been training outdoors throughout the winter for the Boston marathon (Go Danielle!) and really appreciated the nicer weather. I also appreciated this and the fact I don’t have to run in four layers of clothes! On Tuesday, my dog Zadar joined me for part of my morning run. It was great!

I know when the weather gets better, I’m all excited about training outdoors again! I’m like a little kid. I have to hold myself back at times because I want to be running or biking more and harder than I really should be. You may feel the same. Unfortunately, this can increase your risk of developing a significant injury and really put a damper on your training for this year. So, let’s avoid this and train smart and achieve our goals for 2014!

Recently, I received an article about easing back into training. I thought this article was great and wanted to share the link and key points with you. The article was written by a triathlon coach, but can be applied to runners and triathletes alike. In the article, the author, triathlon coach Karen Allen-Turner, prioritizes the five ‘F’ principles to successfully ease back into training. Before we go into these, the first important step is to decide upon your goal races for this year and identify your specific goals/outcomes you want from these races. Is it a time goal? Having fun? Improving fitness? Be as specific as possible and post these goals where you can see it everyday. I post mine on my refrigerator door.

Okay, back to the article in which Allen-Turner discuss the five ‘F’ principles…

1. Function:

a. Access any current injuries or injuries that occurred last season.

b. Determine what caused these injuries, such as overtraining, or a muscle imbalance or flexibility issue.

c. Have your form assessed. For running have a stride analysis performed by a

biomechanist or experienced coach, similarly for swimming, and for cycling you may

need to do a bike fit. d. Strength train 2-3 days per week focusing on abdominal, lower

back, scapular stabilizer, and hip and glute muscles.

2. Form – reinforcing proper form/technique is important to performance and avoiding injury:

a. Perform drills such as strides for running, single leg drill for cycling, single arm drill for

swimming:

i. Strides:

– Short burst of running in which you gradually accelerate to 80-85% of your

maximum speed over ~100m, then gradually decelerate

– Perform 4-10 of these at the end of an easy run

– Recover with a walk or slow jog for 1-2 minutes between each stride

ii. Single leg drill:

iii. Single arm drill:

3. Frequency – perform shorter, more frequent workouts to lower injury risk as opposed to increasing distance and duration too quickly:

a. Helps maintain better form

b. Helps minimize fatigue, which can lead to injury

4. Far – slowly add to increasing distance and time, no more than 10% increase per week

5. Fast – use short duration interval style sessions which increase your speed or heart rate for short limited time periods:

a. Helps your body remember what it is like to go fast

b. Trains both neuromuscular and physiological systems for upcoming workouts

c. An example, which Allen-Turner included was performing 5 x 1-minute intervals with 1

minute of walk or slow jog recovery between each interval, do this after a proper warm-

up (such as running at an easy pace for 1-2 miles) and cool-down after the intervals

(again, an easy run for 1-2 miles)

Here’s the link to the article:

http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/multisport-lab/articles/easing-back-into-training-021814.aspx

Please share this with anyone you feel might benefit. Please let me know if you have any questions.

See you on the road or trail,

Brian

General Guidelines for an Off-Season Program to Help Transition into the 2014 Season

I have addressed some of the components of an off-season maintenance program in two previous articles, specifically cross-training and strength training. In this article I will tie together all of the important components of an off-season training program and provide guidelines for each. Although cross-training is one important way for us to maintain aerobic fitness during the off-season, we don’t want to neglect running, if possible, depending on the weather or access to a treadmill.

Guidelines for running during the off-season:

• Run 2-3 days per week

• Most runs should be at a comfortable, conversational pace

• Include a longer run once every 2-3 weeks, distance depends on goal events, fitness level, running history, any current injuries

• May progress to short intervals, such as strides, hill sprints, Fartlek (speedplay) runs

• Include proper warm-up (maybe include some basics for warm-ups)

Strength training guidelines:

• Should be done after any cross-training or running workout

• Focus on exercises to improve activation of abdominal, hip abductor, hip flexors and extensors (gluteus maximus and hamstrings) lower back, and scapular stabilizers

• Performed 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days

• Use body weight resistance or low resistance

• Typically involve a progression, which can include adding an instability component, such as performing exercises on a pillow, or increasing the range of motion of the exercise

• Exercises are typically performed to fatigue and not a specific number of repetitions

• Rest period can be 30-60 seconds between exercises, or you can perform the exercises in a circuit, and just move from one exercise to the next with little or no rest

Cross-training guidelines:

• Performed 2-3 days per week

• I would recommend using a variety of cross-training modes to incorporate a variety of muscles

• Ideally, choose at least some cross-training modes, which incorporate motion in different planes than running, such as side-to-side or transverse plane motion, as opposed to forwards and backwards motion

• Intensity should be light to moderate, with incorporation of short intervals every 2-3 weeks with full recovery

Additional components:

• Foam rolling:

• Roll on tight, overused muscles until a tender/sore spot is found

• Apply pressure to tender/sore spots  and hold for 30 seconds

• Perform 5-7 days per week

• Stretching:

• Should include calf, hamstring, glutes, hip flexors, IT band, lower back, chest

• Hold stretches for 30-60 seconds

• Perform 1-4 repetitions for each stretch

• Perform after foam rolling, as the last component of a workout

If you don’t own or have access to a  foam roller I highly recommend getting access to a foam roller. Foam rolling can be beneficial in improving flexibility and reducing soreness in tight, overused muscles. An example of tight, overused muscles common to runners and triathletes are the hip flexor (thigh) muscles. To improve flexibility and lengthen these muscles roll on the hip flexors until you find the most tender/sore areas and apply pressure with the foam roller for 30 seconds (see picture below). If performed on a regular basis, this can result in increased range of motion when bringing the back foot up towards the glutes. This will increase the power with each stride, increasing speed.

http://www.menshealth.co.uk/cm/menshealthuk/images/Lw/quadriceps.jpg

Final note: A maintenance program should be designed to accomplish a few goals, which will help transition us into successfully building aerobic fitness for the next running season. The goals of a maintenance program are to maintain and start rebuilding endurance, and to address muscle imbalances and flexibility issues to improve running form (biomechanics), so that we are more efficient runners with less chance of developing running-related injuries, and possibly start incorporating some short intervals to improve running economy (similar to efficiency) and biomechanics.

Please contact me if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you!

See you on the road or trail.

Brian

Considerations For Selecting a Training Program That Will Best Help You Reach Your Running Goals

When selecting a training program to help you best reach your running goals there are lots of options available.  These options include online programs, training programs in books, recommendations from friends, family, and other “experts”, etc.!    When selecting a training program to help you best achieve your running goals, I would recommend that you consider the following:

1. Is the program appropriate designed to allow you to reach my goals?

2. Is the program flexible, so that it will fit your schedule, especially if your schedule should change during a given week?

3. Does the program appropriately address your strengths and weaknesses?

4. Depending on your running goals and training experience, is the program appropriately periodized to focus on such things as endurance, running economy, strength, lactate threshold, speed, power, peaking?

5. Depending on your running goals and training experience, does the program follow an appropriate progression to build endurance, running economy, strength, lactate threshold, speed, power, etc.

6. Does the program allow you to provide feedback on how your workouts are going, so that necessary adjustments may be made?

7. Does the program allow for adequate recovery?

8. Does the program allow you access to a coach on at least a weekly or bi-weekly basis?

9. Is there an opportunity to have your running form/stride assessed?

10. Does the program include warm-up/cool-down, cross-training, and strength training workouts?

11. Do the strength training workouts include exercises that are functional or involve movement similar to running and use of muscles that involved in running?

12. Does the program include guidelines/recommendations for hydration and nutrition?

13. Does the program include an appropriate taper before your goal event?

14. Does the program include the opportunity to run some other event(s) while training to break up the potential monotony of training and remind you why you are training for your goal event?

15. What is the experience and credentials of the coach who is developing the program and what have other runners said about this coach?

Although this is not a complete list of factors to consider, I feel it is a good place to start when evaluating which training program is going to be most successful and enjoyable for you.

Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions regarding selection of an appropriate training program.  I would appreciate hearing from you.

See you on the road or trail,

Brian