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United States of Nike: USATF Sponsorship has failed our athletes, and our sport.

nike-blazer-usaI pledge allegiance to Swoosh of the United States of Nike, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Phil Knight, indivisible, with liberty and justice for Michael Jordan, FuelBands, and cute running shorts.

Do my kids learn this in school ? NO.

Then why do we have a situation where a Mr. Nick Symmonds has been banned from the world championships for not agreeing to the “policy” on wearing “official gear”…..Nike gear….. in all USA Track and Field events, training sessions, and even in breakfast in the hotel.

Let’s make this very clear folks. Our national governing body for our sport is called ” United States of America Track and Field”. The goal of is this organization is to get medals at the Olympics and World Stage. That’s it. Then why is a fashion faux pas preventing our 800 meter National champion from representing our country @ the world championships?

I do understand that our governing body is dependent on sponsorship to keep the lights on, cover expenses, and hopefully provide unique and amazing opportunities to enable the most talented runner’s in America to represent us on the world stage. And I agree that sponsors should be entitled to coverage to reflect their efforts. But individual athletes also have their own sponsors, who deserve credit and exposure for their individual help. And these sponsors are entitled to their time in the lime light as well for the funding they provide to the individual. And by the way USATF, Nick fully complied with your requirements to wear official team uniform and Nike gear at meets, press conferences, pictures, etc. But why, and most importantly how, can USATF place a blanket ban on all non-Nike sportswear at all events related to racing and training?

Is this the goal of USATF to solely promote Nike? I don’t think so, because here is USATF’s mission statement  – taken directly from their website:

The mission of USATF is to provide vision and leadership to the sport of track and field in the United States, and to promote the pursuit of excellence from youth to masters, from grassroots to the Olympic Games.

Seems like USATF has placed their emphasis on the athletes, not their sponsors. Then how could a situation like this happen?

Is it some sweet heart deal Nike struck with the old boys club @ USATF? We should expect these type of demands from China, the Soviet Republic, or other dictator based nation, but not the US of A, where people have free will and individual rights. A NGB wouldn’t allow a corporate entity to flex muscle over on them……would they?

OK, I know I’m being too altruistic you say……sports has become big biz, and its all about the almightily dollar you say. Nike put up the $$$, and they control the shots. OK, well, sure, Nike, has offered some rather large sponsorship funding to USATF. Both now and for the foreseeable future. And I’m not so sure I’m really OK with this, and think both Nike and USATF are guilty here. Having the majoity of the USATF operating budget come form one single outside company is not OK. The Figures I’ve heard are 16-20 million from Nike out of a 24-30 million yearly operating budget. Half to two-thirds of the annul budget is coming from a fashion company that wants its wares seen. So if this is a pure financial issue in the real world,  it would be an anti-trust case. Any lawyers want to back me up on this one and go to town?

Who’s really in control here?
Look USATF – you got yourself into this mess when you allowed an apparel company to buy controlling interest. And if you were Tide, no one would really care. But this isn’t Tide. You exist to help “us” as individuals, as a community, as a governing body, and as a nation. Each athletes that trains and races under your auspice has nobel goals of being the best they can for themselves, and for our country. Its what the entire Olympic movement is based upon. Faster, Higher, Stronger is supposed to mean athleticism, not the stock ticker.

So how about some answers guys? Nike or USATF- either of you feel like telling us what kind of biz deal you struck for this holy grail of sponsorship? Because in general, sponsors have the best interest of those they support. That’s the entire reason you’d sponsor someone to begin with, right? You felt compelled to enable all US athletes to succeed at the highest level…..right Nike? And the terms that you, USATF, agreed to upheld your mission statement….right? They allowed for athletes rights to support themselves and maintain their own sponsorship and income so they can do things like, say, eat and sleep under a roof between training runs. Because I’ve got to tell you, the mumblings around the world of track and field are not so positive. Its completely backfired. The swoosh is not a sign of inspiration, but rather big brother looming overhead. Look Nike, we know you are a big company, and you have lots of money. That doesn’t mean you have to be the big bully that no one respects.

In short, I’ve got to say – this is embarrassing. The goals of our NGB have clearly gotten compromised. Nick has been training hard to be ready for you, and ready for the world stage. What have you done constructively to help him? I’m shocked, puzzled, and perplexed at your decision to leave Nick off the world team: a true conflict in interests. But if you guys try to pull this stunt again and look past him, or anyone else in this situation, for the Olympics, well, I’d ask all parties involved to read the mission statement of USATF, and ask yourself what you’ve done to uphold that message today, and for the future.

Are Larger Runners More Prone to Injury?

I had a great chat with Competitor Magazine recently about just this question. If you’d like to know the rest of our conversation, take a look at the jump.

Take home – weight is WHAT you are made of. If that weight is predominantly well-trained and functioning tissue (lean body mass!) – you are right on track. People comes in all shapes and sizes, and people who win races come in all shapes and sizes!

Take a look here for the full scoop!

Shoulder Solid – Improve your posture on the bike

You pedal with your legs, but your shoulders and core drive the front end, and deserve some respect too. In this video, Jay Dicharry and Lindsey Voreis will teach you why posture and shoulder position are critical to keep you solid on the bike.

Better bodies make better riders, and better rides!

The New York Times talks Maximal Shoes – or maybe maximizing yourself

I really like house projects. I know, I’m likely i the minority here, but it gives me a way to be involved in the place I live, and make stuff, and well, I find that pretty cool. To be successful at this, you’ve got to have fancy tools like a chop saw, joiner, planer, but more importantly know how to actually use them!

So when it comes to footwear, I tell my athletes that footwear is but a tool for the job. Full disclosure, my lab consults for many different footwear companies, and these findings have helped shape a number of products on the wall at your local running speciality store. I’ve seen objective data on how different footwear influences running gait and the individual runner. Not just a slow motion video of your foot pronating, but really dorky stuff like force vectors and the like. All of this data we collect has shown me a few things:

1. Shoes do make a difference.

2. There is no single shoe optimal for all runners, or even a single shoe that is optimized for a single runner across multiple speeds. Again you are looking for the “right tool for the job”

3. Its been really interesting to see what is “marketed” vs. what really “works” in each shoe.

Finding an optimal match of footwear for you is currently best done in a lab where we can measure data points to help runners find the best tool for their needs. As we learn more about what shoes REALLY do, hopefully the REAL message and technology will get out to your running retailer to help you match what is right for you (and the simple slow motion barefoot running assessment isn’t even close to the right way to match a shoe to your gait, as the research shows there is zero correlation to foot pronation and matching footwear).

However, let’s break this co-dependent relationship on shoes. In the excellent New York Times article on the upswing trend of maximal shoes, I closed with a statement saying that runners should spend less time shoe shopping and more time improving themselves. Gathering clinical, biomechanics, and training data with many thousands of runners over my career, has led me to the conclusion that the best thing you can do is to put a better “you” into a pair of shoes. If you’d like a little a help here, I suggest this video I made with Running Times a few years ago. While its called “Are you ready for minimal?” it really applies to all runners, and the goal is simple: the foot is the most important thing. Period. If you bring better foot control to the table, you aren’t relying on the shoe.

And if you’d like to know more on how footwear applies to running, I’ve got a whole chapter dedicated to footwear in Anatomy for Runners (with over 80 references!) and also highly suggest Pete Larson’s book Tread Lightly.

Here’s a recipe for success: Put the best foot you can into a shoe that lets your foot do its job. Don’t be afraid to try out a bunch of different shoes to see what works best for you, but don’t skimp on your body. You want it to perform? learn how to use it, and give it some attention.

My buddy’s joiner and planar allowed me to fabricate a beautiful african mahogany door to a cabinet I once built. But its the knowledge of how to USE those tools that allowed me to produce a beautiful piece (and avoid loosing a finger in the process!)

Want to run better? Join us for the Health Running Course in Carmel, California

healthy runningCalling all Doc’s, therapists, and trainers (and yes you super guru runners)!

Join your’s truly and Robert Gillanders on October 18th and 19th in beautiful Carmel, California for an amazing installment of Healthy Running! This course was created by myself, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, and Ian Adamson to be the premier running medical education resource for clinicians.

We’ve taken the research, and distilled it down to its essential didactic components, so that you’ve got answers when your patients ask you for help. And we’ve got big blocks of lab time to practice hands-on evaluation techniques, injury treatments, gait analysis, shoe prescription, and exercise prescription. You’ll not only sharpen your clinical through process, you’ll be comfortable applying our framework to your patients on the first day back in the office….and yes, you’ll likely learn a thing or two to help yourself!

Our mission is simple – every patient – from weekend warriors, to the professionals that frequent my clinic – deserves the highest level of clinical care. We want to share our approach with you, to help you and your patients achieve success!

Click the link for registration, and see you in Carmel!

Want to win a sprint in the Tour de France? – here’s what it takes

Power-to-weight ratio is all the buzz in cycling. Its been observed that certain “essential” numbers allow you to ride with a specific caliber of rider. For example, we’ve seen that top riders in the GC produce around 6.0 watts/kilo for sustained efforts of around 30 min.
Well, Sprints are different. They are won by riders who produce massive amounts of power, while staying aero, and using position strategy and tactics. And if you want to win a sprint in the Tour, what kind of numbers do you need? The folks at the Science of Sport have done an excellent job – check it out here. And then go play with your power meter!