Why Forefoot Striking Can Help Prevent Running Injuries

Many question the benefits that come from forefoot striking.  With the latest barefoot running craze many are skeptical of how beneficial forefoot running is, as all these minimalistic shoes that are hitting the market reinforce a forefoot strike.  But why?  Why is it supposedly beneficial?  The challenge is to get someone that is really knowledgeable on the biomechanics of running to break it down. Well I found a video that breaks down the two running styles, forefoot and heel striking and why forefoot striking is more natural for the body.  Dr. Marc Richard Silberman of New Jersey Sports Medicine and Performance did a detailed breakdown of the two running forms which shows not only the benefits to forefoot striking, but the risks associated with heel striking.  You’ll have to turn your volume up to hear him, but he makes some great points and it’s good just to see it.  Hope this helps clear up why so many coaches are adopting this philosophy.  As always, I would appreciate any feedback or questions in the comments below.

One of the Keys to Running like a Gazelle…

VARIETY!  A common mistake many runners run into is doing the same type of training day in and day out, for weeks, months or even years. The body adapts in amazing ways to the stresses put on to it.  A common trend I see in runners is they start out with a gradual increase in volume of running as well as intensity of running.  After they get to a certain level, they stop changing up their weekly running schedule and guess what happens?  They stop improving.  Over time, the body will get use to a certain routine, even if it is a strenuous one, and the adaptation will be hindered as a result.  When there is no adaptation, there is no improvement in fitness level and running times.  When this happens frustration sets in and a change is needed.  So how do you keep variety in your running plan?

There are many ways to mix up your training and you don’t have to be drastic about it.  Even some subtle changes such as trading out an interval session on the track, for a long tempo on the roads can have a significant impact on your performance.  One thing to keep in mind when you are deciding what type of change to incorporate is the type of event you are training for, or if you are not training for a specific event, what your primary running goal is.  You can mix up your training to taylor the results to those desired outcomes.

A Simple Year Round Drill That Keeps You Sharp and Efficient

What is the key to keeping your running sharp and efficient?  Answer:  A higher number of active muscle fibers working together to propel you forward.  What is an easy, low time investment way to keep your nervous system firing a greater number of muscle fibers?  Strides!  These are a simple, yet effective way to keep your form sharp and your muscles firing on all cylinders.

How do you do strides?   Pick a flat area of ~ 100 meters either on a road or a track with sure footing.  You can use grass too which will challenge some of the smaller muscle groups in your lower leg and ankle.  Once you have found your real estate you will start at an easy jog and gradually accelerate up to 90% of your highest running speed.  You may want to start slower than that, say 75-80% of your top speed, especially if you haven’t done any faster running recently.  So use the first 50-60 meters to accelerate up to that speed, hold that speed through the 100 meter mark and then slowly decelerate to a stop.  Take 30 sec – 1 Min to rest and then repeat.  Start with 4 strides after your runs 2-3 times per week.  These shouldn’t cause you to get too out of breath, these are muscle and nervous system drills, they are not meant to challenge your respiratory system.  If you are getting out of breath take a little more time between repetitions to make sure you recover well.  A good sign that you are doing them at the right speed and with the right rest interval is if the last couple feel better than the first couple.

These strides activate muscle fibers that have been dormant through running the same speed every run.  More muscle fiber activation means your are using more muscle fibers to share the workload of your run, therefore running more efficiently.  This aspect of training applies to all the distances and should be incorporated year round, even if you are in a rest/recovery phase of your training.  Maintaining these drills through rest and recovery phases help you remain sharp and start your next training phase primed and ready to go.   Not only are they effective, but they’re fun.  So go out and run!

BONUS TIP: Do these in your racing flats or minimalist shoes to maximize muscle recruitment

Joe

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Burrr it’s Cold Outside…How to Prep Your Body for Cold Weather Running Part 1

Today was the first day with subzero temps and lucky for me I had a track workout scheduled for the indoor track here in Madison at the Shell on the UW campus.  I have to admit my training has taken a back seat the last couple months, but to get on the track felt really good even though I had to run my workout much slower than I would have liked.  For my other runs and for other people that are running through these cold months, I wanted to touch on some key points to maximize your run as well as keep some of those aches and pains at bay.

The main challenge and one of the main factors to a successful winter training season is getting your body primed to head out the door.  Many runners I know have more aches and pains through the winter months primarily due to the colder temps that can make the muscles and joints tighter and less resilient to the daily impact forces running produces.  One way to combat this is to have a well thought out pre-run and early run routine.  There are 3 main points I want to hit that I feel are the most important aspects of prepping your body for these frigid temperatures.

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Which Garmin Forerunner GPS Should I Get For My Running??

Hello Everyone!  One of the cool things about being a runner is all the gadgets and tools that come along with it. One of my favorite training tools is the Gramin Forerunner.  Who doesn’t want a training tool that can give you your distance and speed you achieved on your last run?  The question is, which Garmin GPS should I get?  There are so many to choose from, you have the older models, you have the newer models, and then within the newer models you have more choices than you use to.  There are multi-sport specific as well as just runner Garmin Forerunner’s.  In the midst of all this it is hard to find the right one for your needs.  I want to break each of these Garmin’s down and list out in simple terms what each of them do so you can determine which one is best for you! Continue reading

How do I transition to Barefoot/Minimalistic Running?

Hello Everyone, in case you missed my seminar last night at Berkeley Running Company I wanted to provide you with some of the highlights I covered.  I can’t cover everything here, I know you are busy, but wanted to mention some of the key take aways.  First I want to thank Merrell Running for sponsoring the seminar and providing some great door prizes including a free pair of the Trail Glove, Merrell’s minimalist trail running shoe you see pictured here.  It was the first time I tried on the shoe, it has a 0 deg drop, so there is no lift in the heel.  Since my foot is so use to a slight heel lift, it actually felt like my heels were lower than my toes, goes to show you how accustomed my foot is to the traditional running shoe.  Now let’s get to the meat.

What is Barefoot/Minimalistic Running?

Running in a shoe that provides minimal support and cushion which allows for free movement of the muscles, tendons, and bones of the foot.

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Top 5 Questions Runners Ask Me

As a coach you can imagine I get asked a lot of Q’s by not only the runner’s I coach but by various runners I run into on a daily basis. Here are the top questions and how I respond.

Question: What kind of shoes do you recommend?

Answer:  I would recommend what ever shoes works best for you.  Most of the major brands all have great quality shoes, you just need to find the one that works best and feels the best for you. All of the major brands, Nike, Asics, Brooks, Adidas, New Balance, to name a few have a variety of shoes that offer a variety of different widths, support, weights, and lasts.  The last is the shape of the shoe, each brand has a little different last, which can mean the difference between a shoes fitting your foot right and not.  As far as the amount of support, this too is individual, generally speaking , lighter, efficient runners can get a way with less of a shoe and heavier runners need more support.  Not always the case, but most of the time.  it is good to have a variety of shoe types (i.e. heavier trainer, lightweight trainer, and a racing flat) to accommodate the different types of training and racing you will do.  If you are a casual runner, just a general trainer will work best for you.

Question: How long should I train for a marathon?

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