Tag Archives: shin splints

Ground-breaking news: runners who are faster than you have longer strides

This year, I got to present along an all-star cast at the USATF SPEED Summit in NJ. Basically, the goal is to breakdown the elements of coaching based on science, and then use this science to bolster what we do on track. Smarter plan = better results. Or maybe I should say smarter people help us develop better plans? This is the conference I was most looking forward to this year, and it did not disappoint.

So let’s get past the sarcasm in the title, and go straight to the big picture: if you run slow, you take short strides and your turn over isn’t that quick. The only way to run faster is to increase your turnover and your stride length. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when you hear that faster runners have a longer stride length than slower runners. But now we get into an interesting question…..is stride length the cause or the effect? Or more specifically, why do some runners appear to bound effortlessly over the ground?

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They are stronger. About 80% of the cost of running comes from holding your body up against gravity. If you have strength reserves, it’s easy to combat gravity and float from step to step.  This extra strength enables more “hang-time” which translates to a longer stride length with less effort. Take home here? Get stronger.

How can you develop running specific strength? You can run. Collegiate and sponsored athletes get two workouts a day, and are racking up big miles. You know what else they do? They lift weights to develop strength reserves. Its highly likely that you don’t have the time and energy to rack up monster miles each week. But take a look at your week. Can you examine your training program and budget 30 min 2x’s a week for some strength work? If the answer is no, take a look back at the Achievement Triangle post…..and ask yourself where you’d like to be.  And if you are over 40, this is not optional. Get strong to get faster.

Want more? Check out this reference: Weyand

Triathletes: don’t let your cycling mess with your running!

What can a new research study tell you about running off-the-bike? Sometimes, research just tells us things that are somewhat interesting. And other times, like this one, research provides a very nice take home message of which we should all take note.

A few weeks ago, we published a study called “Sagital Plane Kinematics During the Transition Run in Triathletes.” Don’t let the fancy words throw you off. All you need to know is this: Cycling before your run makes it harder to maintain your posture. 

Now those of you who have seen me for an evaluation, read my Running Times article called “P is for Posture”, or read my book know that this is the un-sung skill that can make or break you as an athlete. Posture is the foundation around which the most powerful muscles in your body attach. If the position of those muscles is optimal, a number of things go really well…..most notably peaked performance, and a better stabilized chassis for a reduced risk of injury. If this optimal position is compromised, then you aren’t operating at your best.

So, if I told you ahead of time that doing “A” before “B” will produce complications that make “B” harder, you’d (hopefully) try to prepare ahead of time to minimize, or eliminate those complications. Right? …. Well, here’s what happens.

We had a group of triatheltes come into our lab and run. We measured a number of factors related to the way they ran to get a baseline. This same group of runners came back a second time, but before they ran, they cycled for 30 min at a just-easier-than-threshold effort. Their post-bike running data showed that they had more arch in the low back, a more anteriorly-tilted pelvis, a more flexed hip, and less hip extension.

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poor position = poor performance

For those of you wondering if this is good or bad, I’ll give you both the simple and more in-depth version. Running off the bike makes you look more like the person on the left than the person on the right.

optimal posture = optimal performance

optimal posture = optimal performance

For those of you who want to know why, and get more in depth –>  read my article in Running Times, and then read Ch 6 and 8 in Anatomy for Runners, especially the “3 non-negotibles” on p.183, and the test on p. 196.

I simply cannot downplay the significance postural alignment. If you screw this up, you’ll screw up your run. And given that 70% of injuries in triathlon occur in the run, this is yet one more contributing factor.

Cycling doesn’t “hurt us”  – then why do we see postural shifts occur in triathlon? You are bent over in a forward position. Some tissues get bound up. Others get lengthened.  And we only did this for a 30 min ride.  What happens if you force this constrianed position for 5 hrs, and then go run? We don’t know for sure (because we didn’t test this) but if I was a betting man, I think we’d see the same patterns, but somewhat worse.  To be fair, we only looked at their running data for the first 14 min of the run. Maybe posture improves after this 14 min. Maybe it stays the same. Maybe it gets worse. We didn’t test it. But no one wants two slow or injury-prone miles out of T2. And due to the fact that central fatigue typically makes our posture worse, I’d think this is something we should all pay attention to.

So here’s your chance to beat the odds, and be “smarter” than the average. Here’s your mission for today:

  1. Find correct posture standing right now (see above references)
  2. Hold correct posture walking around your office or house.
  3. Go for a run, maintain correct posture (and if you fall into the “back seat” stop and fix it!)
  4. Go for a brick workout, and pay special attention to your postural alignment off the bike. If you focus on this in training, it will be easy to correct on race day. You should be able to run any pace – from an easy run to 400’s on the track – without compromising your posture alignment. 

I’d like to thank our former grad student and first author, Nicole Rendos, for taking the lead on this study. And if you are looking for more ways to tune-up your triathlon training, come see us this August for our REP Triathlon Camp!

The Bat-signal has been lit: time for a PARTY!

 

Want to see what we are up to @ Rebound? Come grab a beer, some eats, and join us for our open house this Thursday! (superhero dress optional)

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Running Injury Management on Therapedia

Fresh off teaching this past weekend at University of Michigan – a great group of folks joind together for a course called “Putting the Athlete Back in Triathlete: a clinician’s role in care of the endurance athlete.” …….and more content to come.

I’ve been invited to be a part of Therapedia’s webcast series, and its airing Thursday this week. And yes, it will be available to view after the course as well. Check out this link for what looks to be an interesting discussion!

Do you treat triathletes? Join me @ U of Michigan

Multisport athletes have a lot of challenges in their training,  but the training demands of 3 sports seem to creep up on all of us. Athletes spend so much time trying to fit in their volume that the body often gets ignored.

Well, this all ends now. Join me at the University of Michigan April 20-21st where we discuss “Putting the Athlete in Triathlete: a clinician’s role in endurance sports.” During this 13 hrs course, we’ll lay the ground work and discuss how endurance training impacts the tissues of the body, and then move on to detailed descriptions of the mechanics of each sport. You’ll learn how to correlate your musculoskeletal evaluation of the body with a runner’s swim, bike, and running performance. We’ll discuss why swimmers aren’t your typical overhead athletes, you’ll learn how to do bike fits (how to fit the bike to the rider, and more importantly how to fit the rider to the bike) with hands on practice, learn how to identify common gait patterns and cue them out of problems that overload the body, and understand the role of complimentary training and strengthening. At the end of the weekend, you’ll understand how to help your athletes make training easier on their body, and improve their efficiency.

for registration information, click here, and for a hourly breakdown of the course, click here. See you there!

Running Footwear: A critical look at what we know about footwear and how to select the best fit for your athlete

The media likes to spin things to make headlines. I’m not too big on spinning, I’d rather just help educate. If you’d like to clear the air and see what we know, what we don’t know, and what’s been spun, you can check out this webinar I’m doing for USA Track and Field next week on Mar 26th. Coaches will get CEU’s from their couch.

The make of running shoes have historically gone from one side (thin and flexible) to the other (stiff and bulky) and are now moving toward the middle of the road. Which is best? And how do you match running shoes to an individual runner? In this webinar presentation, Jay Dicharry will comb through relevant research and clinical experience to help you approach your running retailer with the knowledge of selecting the right tool for the job. Learn how to ensure that you are running in your shoes rather than your shoes running you! By the end of this webinar you’ll be able to understand:

  •                 the evolution of footwear
  •                 how footwear has been classically prescribed
  •                 proof that this fit model is ineffective
  •                 how shoes impact your running form
  •                 how barefoot running impacts your form
  •                 how shoe wear impacts your form
  •                 how to select shoes for you
  •                 what minimal shoes are, and if you are ready to make the transition

Elevator Up? The Mindset Behind a Champion

A few weeks ago, I got to present along side Dr. Joe Vigil at a USA Track and Field conference in LA. For those of you who have to ask “who is Joe Vigil?”…..this man is to coaches as Rolex is to watches: the best.

Dr Vigil always has the uncanny ability to break down complex tasks and ask you the “right” introspective questions to help you reach your next milestone. We don’t just train the body in isolation. We’ve always heard that the body can handle more than the mind wants to give. So with that, I’m going to leave you with the following picture. Is it time to take the elevator up the “achievement triangle?” – What’s holding you back from reaching your goals? Change all starts with the desire to change.

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In fact, lets move beyond kumbaya and start this process in motion right now. Turn the computer off. Get out a sheet of paper and make 3 columns. Write down your goals in column 1. Then write down the obstacles that stand in the way of each of your goals. Then make a 3rd column of exactly what you are going to do to beat each of those obstacles.  Stick it on your fridge and remember your passion. When one of those obstacles seems like its standing in your way, make your tiger face and beat it down. Mental Tough = Body Tough.

And if you need help with your plan, give me a ring – I’ll help you find your tiger face.