Tag Archives: training

Behind the Scenes

If you’ve read our blog in the past, you’ve seen our findings on successful transitions to minimal and barefoot running. Running Times magazine approached myself and Dr Mark Cucuzzella to write a piece for the upcoming April edition. Lots of good wisdom, pics, and video to come……. But that has nothing to do with why this post is cool.

Do you ever wonder what it takes to get those cool cover shots you see on all the mags? Perfect lighting, perfect smiles, perfectly trained runner’s bodies lightless treading through the viewfinder…. Likely with a full hair and make-up team, and a full catered spread for lunch….. Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise. All you need is:

1 fast career runner ( something like 25 years of marathons under 2:45, PR of 2:24)

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A subaru with a pilot, flash operator, One closed downhill subdivision road, and our fearless cameraman, Joel Wolpert. Here’s Joel at almost 20 mph downhill on my longboard. It’s rain/misting and slick as anything. Notice he’s focused on the shot, not the road. That my friends, is zen.

Here’s to all of you and your inner paparazzi !

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Less From Your Shoes, More From Your Feet

There has been a lot of interest lately in the transition to minimal footwear. Am I going to get hurt? How long does this transition take? Is this really better for me? Will my old shoes take it personally? Last year at this time, there were 6 minimal shoes on the market. This year there are 64. It’s a hot market, and folks are taking notice. While shoes are nice to talk about, let’s not forget that it’s the runner in the shoe that plays an active role in this equation. Shoes don’t run by themselves!

The recent article by Giuliani et. al. has raised some concerns.2 They highlight 2 cases of stress fractures in 2 different runners who transition to minimal footwear. The switch to minimal footwear can be dramatic. You get more “feel” since the squishy midsole is reduced or gone. You get a lower differential from your rear foot to your forefoot. These 2 factors change a) the position of the foot (Heel isn’t higher than the forefoot in full contact) and, b) the demand of the runner to stabilize the foot inside the shoe. In short, with less “stuff” in between you and the ground, you need your body to do a bit more, and get accommodate to a bit more as well.

Ever hear about the experiment with pre-K kids with the cookies? They put a kid in a room with cookie on the table and tell him/her that they can eat the cookie and they’ll get one cookie. BUT, if they don’t eat the cookie, they’ll get 2 cookies later (yea!). The tester walks out of the room and the kids go into panic mode when sitting in front of this stellar, delicious cookie. Most eat the single cookie for instant gratification.  They fail to see the merits of waiting patiently for a better result.

What in the world do cookies have to do with running shoes? A lot. The switch to minimal footwear can pay off in the long run, but you need ensure you’ve got what it takes for a successful transition. Obviously any time you make a change to your body, there is an adaptation period that needs to occur.  A lot of “experts” say that it will take 6 months to a year to fully transition to a minimal shoe. I’d like to think that this is overly cautious, and like to discuss why using the anatomy. We’ve found great success using the following 3 criteria for runners looking to run with “less”.

1. Mobility: Traditional running shoes have about a 10-13mm drop from the heel to the forefoot. This creates a “rocker” effect in the shoe. Take a look at a shoe from the side and you’ll see that the curve from the ball of the foot to the tip of the toe rises up. Since your foot is flat, you need to ensure that you have enough mobility (called dorsiflexion) of the big toe to allow the foot to roll over. Additionally, since the heel is higher in a traditional running shoe (think a small high heel) the heel chords are used to operating in a shortened position. You need to ensure that you’ve got the mobility needed to allow the heel chords to operate form their slightly lengthened position. So what to you test?

    • Ankle mobility (heel chords) – you need to be able to dorsiflex (cock the foot up towards the shin) about 25 degrees. Lack of mobility here means you’ll need to stretch the calf and Achilles.
    • Plantar facsia mobility – with the ankle in about 5 degrees of dorsiflexion, you need to have 30 degrees of dorsiflexion at the big toe. If you don’t have this, you can’t roll over the toes, and will be forced to spin off of the forefoot.

2. Single-leg Standing Balance: normal balance has been identified as standing on single leg for 30 seconds
with a still upper body and full foot contact. Since the midstance phase of running is essentially a single leg squat, it is essential that the runner is able to maintain the foot in contact. A triangle between the inside ball of the foot (1st MTP), end of the big toe (distal phalanx of the 1st ray), and outside ball of the foot (5th MTP) should be seen. When in single leg stance, the muscles in the foot need to be “pro-active” not “re-active”. If you are wobbling your foot back and forth when standing on one foot, you’ve got some room to improve your “proprioception” – or sense of where and what you’re your foot is doing during contact. The most successful way to improve single leg balance is to perform it frequently (15-20 times a day) for small doses (30 seconds each).

3. Ability to isolate the Flexor Hallucis Brevis: a key factor that distinguishes humans from primates is our medial longitudinal arch. This arch is actively stabilized by the flexor hallicus brevius (FHB). While standing, try to drive the big toe (1st MTP) into the ground (plantar flexion) while slightly elevating (dorsiflexing) the lesser toes. Make sure not to roll the ankle in or out. This test enables screening of muscles inside the foot that stabilize the arch. The FHB can be easily distinguished from the longus (FHL), as the FHL crosses another joint in your big toe (1st IP joint), resulting in your big toe curling. Spend some time getting to know your foot. Aim to drive the big toe down while lifting the little toes (without curling the big toe!), and lift the big toe up while driving the little toes down. It’s the best way to work on coordination of muscles that actively stabilize the foot in stance. It’s your foot – control it! If you can do this, it’s a sign that you can keep the rear foot stable on the forefoot when the body sees the greatest amount of pronation (which is just slightly after midstance and AFTER the heel is off of the ground by the way.)1 Midstance is when forces are highest throughout the body- about 2.5x’s your body weight. You need the internal strength to be able to respond to these forces to keep things in alignment.

When your foot “works” it can actively stabilize the transfer of forces through the foot. If you don’t pass these 3 tests, no worry  -get to work on improving your limitations. Pay a visit to your local PT if you need help with specific exercises and stretches to improve.  If you lack mobility, research shows it takes 10-12 weeks to gain significant improvements. So stretching for 2 weeks likely won’t be enough for most folks. Improving tissue length can take some time. If your limitations are in the balance aspect, you’ll be amazed how quickly this improves if you simply practice practice practice. Typically, about 2 weeks yields a significant improvement. Finally, strength gains take about 6-8 weeks to achieve. So if you really have trouble isolating your foot muscles, this could take a bit to get them stronger – but you can always improve the strength of your muscles!  Passing these 3 tests doesn’t mean that you should go run a marathon in your new minimal shoes on day 1, but we’ve seen that folks who master these have little to no problem making the transition. I’ll note here that these tests are not new in my mind. I’d like all runners  – even those who run in traditional shoes – to pass these tests. Its that when the “stuff” under your foot is less, these traits are that much more important.

So invest some time to improve your foot – Because it’s always better to have 2 cookies instead of one!  Shoes make a difference, but it’s the runner in the shoe that you’ve got control over.

References:

Dicharry, JM., Franz, JR., Della Croce, U., Wilder, RP., O’Riley, P., Kerrigan, DC. Differences in Static and Dynamic Measures in Evaluation of Talonavicular Mobility in Gait. J Orthop Sport Phys Ther 2009;39(8):628-634

Giuliani J, Masini B, Alitz C, Owens BD. Barefoot-simulating Footwear Associated With Metatarsal Stress Injury in 2 Runners. Orthopedics. 2011 Jul 7;34(7)

Loading Rate: Part 2: Forefoot, midfoot, rearfoot……..Who cares?

Yesterday we briefly discussed the idea of loading rate, and why it matters to you as a runner. Today we’ll talk of the 3 primary ways runners can change loading rate, and likely dispel some myths while doing so. If I ruffle some feathers while doing this, don’t get frustrated. Its good to stretch you brain.  Let’s look at what we do know about loading rate, and what is a bit fuzzy.

Methods to decrease loading rate involve a combination of:

  1. A foot contact style closer to the body’s center of mass
  2. Minimizing excessive lumbar extension (which shifts the body’s center of mass posterior in relation to foot contact)
  3. Changing limb stiffness through feedback training.

****Warning – some of this gets a bit tedious, but there has been a lot of request for this information lately, so lets dive in shall we?

Let’s get right to the hot topic. Should you land on you forefoot, midfoot, or rearfoot?

Right below, is a graph of a runner landing with a midfoot gait. You’ll notice a very distinct impact peak (first bump) and a larger active peak (second bump). You’ll also notice that the slope of the first bump (from the x-axis to the top of the first bump) is quite steep.

What kind of foot contact pattern made this graph? Nope – not a heel striker – but a midfoot striker. In fact this woman is about as midfoot as possible – her foot came down completely flat down at contact. I know ….this runs counter to a lot you’ve been told right? Hold on – let’s keep going.

Now look at runner #2’s graph. Notice the single mountain (or peak). Notice that the slope of the line from contact to peak is quite less steep than that of Runner #1. A LOWER loading rate! Guess what kind of contact style this runner utilized? A heel-strike. Yes. You read that right. A heel striker had a lower loading rate than a midfoot striker …..in this situation.

What gives? The media tries to make things simple. They say that “mid-foot” or “forefoot” is better than rearfoot. I love reading running forums where people with way too much time on their hands armchair quarterback running styles. They look at a picture or video of a contact pattern of some guy running across the screen and say “wow – nice midfoot strike –that runner is efficient.” They don’t know who the runner is, or what his time was for the race. They just saw a foot strike and proclaimed him efficient. Then they’ll scroll down and see some picture or video of some guy heel striking and proclaim that he/she is an “in-efficient” runner based on the heel strike. This “in-efficient” runner might be an in-efficient runner. Or it might be Meb Keflezighi (a runner who is just a bit faster and more efficient and than most of your reading this post).  You see, these arm chair-quarterbacks aren’t very good at identifying efficient gait. Fancy force plates are. I do this for a living and still need data from my lab to give me the answer because no one can actually see forces. So what have we learned from these fancy force plates?  Its NOT rear-foot or midfoot or forefoot that matters – its where the foot contacts in relation to the body’s center of mass.

As I stated above, I picked some outliers just to make a point. It is true that for MOST runners, adopting a midfoot or forefoot gait style will lead to decreased loading rates. However, its not because the foot lands differently, its because a rear-foot style typically allows you to land with the foot farther in front of the body’s center of mass (over-striding). Switching to a contact style that moves the foot closer to the body’s center of mass usually means that we land closer to the font of the foot. But not always. Let’s look at the elite runners to dig a bit deeper.

To run really fast, it’s very simple. You either increase your stride rate or your stride length. Simple right?

  • Stride rate- this is also referred to as cadence. Cadence ranges in cycling are pretty variable. Cyclists use anywhere from 45 – 140 rpm in competition, depending on the event and terrain. When we look at running, you’ll notice that cadence for middle distance through marathon distance typically ranges from 88-96 rpm. This is a much narrower effective window than cycling. We’ll look more in depth at cadence in a later post, but for right now, its safe to say at the elite level, there isn’t a huge difference in cadence values.
  • Stride length –if cadence values are held fairly consistent, the only other way to run faster is to adopt a longer stride length. The stride length of someone running 4:30 miles is significantly longer than running 7:45 miles. What we see is that a number of the elites land on the rearfoot, but their center of mass is still very high up at the time of contact. When running, you are a projectile in the air with your center of mass following a parabolic curve. So even though the elites often “contact” on their rearfoot, they don’t really have much pressure (force) on it until their center of mass lowers to the ground.  This effect produces a low loading rate with a heel contact, and is exactly what occurred in runner #2 above.

So let’s summarize what we’ve said about contact foot contact style. For most runners, landing closer to the body’s center of mass is an effective tool to lower loading rates. Barefoot running, minimalist running, and increasing cadence (faster cadence means you don’t have time for your foot to reach out far in front of the body) are all effective tools to accomplish the end goal of decreasing loading rate.  This being said, contact style is NOT the only way to decrease loading rate. Its possible to have lower loading rates with multiple foot contact styles, and other factors as well.

***Note: Unless the person is accelerating, it is not possible to have the foot contact directly under the center of mass. At steady state, the foot does (and should) contact in front of the center of mass.

The effect of posture

We said that, in general, a foot contact closer to the center of mass would decrease loading rate. On the flipside, posture can be utilized to alter the center of mass in relation to the foot. Most of us stand, walk, run, etc with poor posture. Take a look at the runner below. The runner is in exactly the same phase of gait, except for a more arched low back on the right than on the left. The posture on the right is typical to most runners. We hang out in the “back seat” with lots of arch in the low back. This change in lumbar position moves our center of mass backwards thus causing our foot to land further in front of the center of mass.  Therefore, keeping a neutral lumbar spine (not arched) is essential to keep our center of mass over our foot when running – and has the effect of minimizing loading rate.

Lastly – gait cueing and limb stiffness. Here’s where things come together, but also show need for additional research. In our lab, when we get someone with high loading rates, we show them their ground reaction force plots in real-time as they run, and ask them to change it. Normally, we don’t tell them how, we ask them to “play” with their graph shape as they run. Most runners figure out how to minimize their loading rates by getting visual cues, or feedback. This is the best way since the runner is aware of the conscious modifications they are doing to alter their loading rates and can see instant feedback to observe success – thus learning! If they don’t “get it”, we guide them through the technique modification so they can see the effects of their form changes as they run. Again – the goal is to get the runner to retain this sensation so they can alter their gait to make long-term changes to decrease tissue stress.  On the simpler side, research has been done that simply told runners to “run soft”. These individuals were found to decrease their loading rates. Gait cueing works. How does it work? People modify their contact style, posture, and their limb stiffness to achieve a desired result. Limb stiffness relates to how compliant the runner maintains the knee to modulate the rise and fall of the center of mass. There is more work to be done here to dig deeper, but this should hopefully answer the bulk of questions for now.

Summary:

What does this mean for you as a runner?

There is mounting evidence that minimizing loading rate has vast implications for a number of injury prevention strategies. There is also mounting work to show links to performance, though this is inconclusive at this time. There is additional work to be done to show how the gait style changes observed with decreased loading rate correspond to improved performance. Another topic for another day……

If you want to try to decrease your loading rate, you need to get your foot to land closer to the body. Barefoot running is a good drill for this since it “forces” you to avoid over-striding.  There is evidence that a properly constructed minimal shoe should also lead to minimal loading rates (although no one can say all minimal shoes since the definition of this market sector is so vague). Keep your torso centered over your lower body and avoid the temptation to run in the “back seat”, especially as you fatigue.

Run Tall! Run Soft!

Yup…. Less (loading rate) = More.

Loading Rate: Part 1: What does it mean for you?

I was at a conference recently where someone asked me –  “With all the fancy equipment and data you’ve got access to, what it the biggest thing you’ve noticed and how has it made you change your personal running style?”

Easy! I’ve learned through the years, that it’s critical to minimize loading rate. Loading rate is the speed at which you apply forces to the body. While running, you aren’t going to change your body mass during a run  (OK –I know you do slightly due to hydration issues, by let’s ignore this for a moment). Your total mass stays relatively the same. However, how you move your body’s mass forward when running does play a major role in the way your body is affected by the forces we see in running.

In the lab, loading rate can be objectively measured. Some labs use accelerometers to determine peak values and rates, some use the slope of the ground reaction force. Both have been investigated as viable ways to assess loading rate. We’ll use slope of the ground reaction force (GRF) since it’s a bit more visual to help get the concept across. If you look at the graphs, you’ll see that the one graph has a steeper slope to it than the other. The steeper slope (top graph) means that the forces applied to the runner occur quicker than that of the forces applied to the less steep slope (bottom). Why does this matter?

Imagine running 50 miles a week. Think of the amount of wear and tear that occurs on the body. Now imagine running 50 miles a week with a gait pattern that causes the mechanical loading of the body to occur less quickly. Decreasing the loading rate applied to tissues will minimize tissue stress to the runner, minimizing the effects of the micro-trauma of endurance training. The rate at which structures are loaded has been implicated in both stress fractures and soft tissue dysfunction (1, 2)

Now  – full disclaimer here, there is some discrepancy in the literature on whether or not the “impact peak” actually causes injury. This post is not going to debate the presence of the impact peak itself, only the difference between running with a high loading rate (not good) or a lower loading rate (better). Should everyone go lower and lower? There is a point at which the metabolic cost of lowering the rate of loading to the tissues is more expensive from a metabolic standpoint. Further, there is likely a lower limit to what one’s loading rate can be. These are questions that need to be answered individually with a lab analysis, as it is speed and mass dependent and not one-size-fits-all.

There are 3 primary ways you can affect the rate at which you load the body:

1.Contact pattern
2.Postural alignment
3. Limb stiffness

Tomorrow we’ll discuss how these 3 factors impact the loading rate of a runner….including directly addressing a lot of the hype around fore/mid/rear foot contact styles – Stay tuned!

References:

1. Milner, C.E., R. Ferber, C.D. Pollard, J. Hamill, and I.S. Davis.  February 2006.  Biomechanical factors associated with tibial stress fracture in female runners. Med Sci Sports Exerc.  38(2):323-8.

2. Milner, C.E., J. Hamil, and I. Davis.  July 2007.  Are knee mechanics during early stance related to tibial stress fracture in runners? Clin Biomech.  22(6):697-703.

Shoe Study – Free shoes!

Hey Runners –

We are currently looks for 10 runners to volunteer for a study. The study will look at the effects of longer distance runs. If you are chosen, you’ll need to come into the lab to run 3 times. Basically, you’ll do a long training run at your typical training pace indoors on our treadmill. You are welcome to watch a movie while you run to keep your attention! As you run, we’ll be collecting data on your gait to see how things change during a long run.

Each run will be for 1.5 hours. On the first run, you’ll be given a pair of shoes in your size to run in. You’ll take them home to put 400 miles on them. After you’ve hit 400 miles, you’ll come back in and run again. Somewhere in between the first and second run, you’ll come into the lab and run in second pair of shoes. The runs will be spaced several weeks apart, depending on how long it takes you to hit 400 miles on the shoes. You’ll get to keep a pair of shoes for participating in this study.

Here are the criteria.

  • currently training for a ½ or full marathon
  • having already completed a ½ or full marathon within the past year
  • max weekly run volume of 50 miles a week
  • someone who typically runs in a “cushioned” or “neutral” type running shoe (you were likely told you have a “higher” arch)

If you meet all of the above criteria and are local in Charlottesville (or close enough that you could easily get here for the 3 running sessions) please give us a call at 434-982-1422.

Thanks!

They said I’ve got pronation….How long do I have doc?

So you went to the “insert giant athletic store here”, and the 16 yr old kid who works part time for the summer, who is the “expert” on running watches you for about 30 seconds, and decides to tell you that you in fact, pronate. Or worse…..maybe you even over-pronate. Never fear though, they say! They’ll just go in the back and grab some of those big mutha shoes to totally stop you from pronating and be your personal savior.

Before you plunk down your hard earned cash, we should probably come to terms with a few things.

  1. What is pronation?
  2. When does it occur?
  3. Can you stop it, or should you stop it?

1 – First, let’s re-cap what this pronation stuff is all about. Pronation is not bad; in fact, it’s the body’s natural shock absorption mechanism. When the foot moves into pronation, it becomes like a loose bag of bones. Everyone pronates to some extent. Some more than others.  If you didn’t pronate, you’d have problems with- you guessed it- shock absorption. The opposite of pronation is supination. In supination the bones of the foot become more congruent (increased contact between the surfaces of the joints). This increased contact produces a rigid lever for push off in gait. So we should land in a supinated position, and move to a more pronated position during stance to decrease shock, and then move to a supinated position to achieve a rigid lever for push off.

Let’s re-cap this again using America’s favorite national pastime, Tetris. When the pieces fall from the top of the screen, we can move them about and rotate them freely. They can move. This is how the 26 bones in your foot function in the shock absorption or pronation phase. They should move about to dissipate force. Now imagine those same Tetris pieces once you’ve placed them in the stack. They can’t move right? They become congruent and are locked in place. This is similar to the foot when you are in supination.

2- Now that we understand pronation as something that is not really bad; let’s talk about when it occurs. As evidenced in a study carried out in our lab and published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, maximum pronation of the foot occurs after the heel has left the ground. Why does this matter?  Remember that 16 yr old kid? He’s going to grab a shoe off the rack that is a motion control shoe –designed or should I say marketed, to stop pronation.  A shoe like this features a higher density material on the inside of the shoe. The claim is that this different density material acts to stop the pronation from taking place, thus fixing your issues. If you’d like to see if your shoe has this, just look at the inner side of the midsole (marsh mellow stuff between the fabric upper and tread). If some of the inside of the shoe is a darker color than the rest, it’s likely a “dual density midsole design”.

OK – so let’s get back to timing of pronation. Shoe companies put this increased density material to “stop the foot from pronating”. Well, we found out that maximum pronation occurs after the heel is off of the ground. So guess what? – All that higher density material in the shoe isn’t even touching the ground to try and stop the foot from moving at the time when the foot is moving the most! Hmmmmm……makes you think doesn’t it?

3- We know what pronation is, and when it occurs, and now we should address the question of stopping pronation. Pronation is necessary. I’ll even say in the right amounts and at the right time, its good. I’ve seen PLENTY of runners who have problems because they don’t pronate enough. However, stopping pronation isn’t really in our best interests. It’s better to learn to stabilize the amount of pronation. The thing is that no shoe can do this- you need to learn to use the muscles in the foot and the muscles in the hip to stabilize the rotational motion that naturally occurs in your legs. Can you do this? How good are you at stabilizing your pronation? A visit to the SPEED Clinic can help you pin point your issues and fix them for good.

Parting thought –please don’t read this and think that we are saying that shoes don’t make a difference. They do. The objective research we do combined with our clinical experience has proven to us that they make a huge difference. We view footwear as part of an intervention to help you perform at your best. Shoes are very different. How much of a shoe you need, or weather you even need a shoe at all (barefoot running anyone?) are all part of a comprehensive assessment here at the University of Virginia.

Runner’s World asked us: What’s the single biggest problem in running?

When most runners, coaches, running shops think of the single biggest problem that affects runners- the answer usually points to the most feared word in running – “over-pronation.” However, we told Amby Burfoot  (link here) that our years of experience quantifying running mechanics through the use of 3D gait analysis has shown us otherwise.

While it’s true that some of us out there may pronate more than others, it isn’t exactly what we’d call an epidemic problem in America. We’ll estimate that less than 30% of runners truly over-pronate (excess motion in the foot) their feet while running. To find the real answer, we need to move up eyes up and look at the hips.  About 80-90% of runners don’t extend their hips.

What is hip extension anyway?

Lifting one knee up to the chest moves the hip into flexion. If you extend the hip the opposite direction (past vertical) that is hip extension. The goal is to do this without extending your back. Stretching your hip flexors to get more motion is the key

So why don’t most runners extend their hips?

We tend to sit. A lot. We sit in class. We sit at work. We sit in our cars. Cyclists, you spend all your time on the bike sitting in hip flexion. When we continually sit in hip flexion, the hip flexor muscles become tight. So tight that the overwhelming majority of runners can’t extend the hips. “Now wait a minute” – you might say –“I see all my friends and their leg does get behind them when they run – so they must be extending their hip right?”

Tight hip flexor muscles cause you to get your leg behind you not from extending your hip – but by arching your lower back. This can cause injury since an arched lumbar spine compromises our ability to use core muscles while we run. This sets us up for a host of leg injuries and also is the most common cause of low back pain in runners. Further, lack of hip extension compromises your running efficiency.  As we increase speed, the bulk of the work supplied to the legs need to come from the hips. Well, if you can’t extend the hips, you are missing out on critical force to move your body forward.

So how do I get hip extension and is it really that simple?

You’ve got improve your range of motion of the hip, and your ability to control the new motion. The best hip stretch is a kneeling hip flexor stretch. Beware though, a lot of the videos on-line show incorrect form for this stretch and you don’t actually wind up extending your hip flexors at all (they stretch the quads).  Check out the July 2010 issue of Runner’s World for an article we helped them put together. It shows correct technique to stretch the hips, and some simple exercises to learn to use your new range of motion.

Call Me Coach

I ran into the parents of one of my former patients today. She told me that her son said to tell me hi…. and thanks. You see we worked together, her son and I, following his injury last year. She said after we worked together and got him back to training for pole vaulting, he was able to finish out the season and got a full scholarship to college. She told me that he wanted to give me his state trophy – said I was the one who got him back to training to win it.

Now I don’t take credit one second for any of this. That kid had talent and an inner drive that would plow through a brick wall. Plus – more than anything else, he loved his sport. Hearing stuff like this – that’s what I live for. To even think that any part of what I did helped this kid get a scholarship and help in his dream – that why I get up every day to go to work.

Am I his coach? Well let’s look at this….. Webster’s defines coach as:

from the concept that the tutor conveys the student through his examinations] a : a private tutor b : one who instructs or trains a performer or a team of performers; specifically : one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy

These days, we think of what we do for a living as more mission statement than job. Our sole role being here is to aid you, as an athlete, in the pursuit of your goal. To reach your limits- and combine them with science to help you blow past them. Yes, we do have a really fancy lab and cutting edge this and that, but you have to look at the big picture. The big picture is not a number. This big picture is you. Your big picture. Your goals.

Open your mind to what we have to offer. We break you down. Individually. We figure out the limiting factor, and then we build you back again – stronger. You’ll leave here with a plan. A plan focused around your goals. You know those goals you are always thinking about? – that is why you are taking time to read this. You know you’re looking for an edge. We can teach you to use it.

Think of the SPEED clinic as your resource. Think of us as your coaches. Its what we love to do.

Keep pushing the limits-

Cold Weather Training

When properly prepared, running in cold weather can be enjoyable. Get caught without proper preparation, however, and one risks hypothermia and frostbite. The cold dry air of winter can also exacerbate symptoms of exercise induced bronchospasm, a relatively common condition in runners. Proper preparation along with a recognition of the early signs of cold related illnesses will help minimize problems associated with exercise in the cold.

While exercising in cold weather, our bodies attempt to maintain our core temperature by shunting blood away from the periphery, thus minimizing heat loss. Mild hypothermia is heralded by goose pimples and shivering as our bodies attempt to raise our metabolic rates to increase our core temperature. Moderate hypothermia will result in muscular fatigue, poor coordination, numbness and disorientation. Severe hypothermia can result ultimately in cardiovascular failure. Treatment of hypothermia requires prompt recognition and treatment as mild hypothermia can progress to a more severe situation if not addressed early. Athletes should be removed from cold, wet, or windy conditions. Wet clothing should be removed, and rewarming commenced with warm blankets and ingestion of warm fluids. If the athlete’s condition does not improve, transportation to a medical facility should be arranged.

Frostbite is actual freezing of tissues secondary to exposure to the extreme cold. It most commonly occurs in the peripheral limbs and on the exposed areas of the face (cheeks, ears, and tip of the nose). Patients with superficial frostbite complain of burning local pain and paresthesias (tingling). The skin may initially be pale, but will become red with warming. Superficial blisters may be present. Superficial frostbite can be treated by local thawing. The most reliable method is direct contact with body heat (such as putting your hands in your underarms). The injured area should not be rubbed as skin sloughing may occur. Thawing should not commence, however, unless it can be ensured that refreezing will not occur. Subsequent freezing and rethawing can result in a more serious injury. Deep frostbite is initially very painful, and then tissues become numb. The affected area appears as a frozen block of hard, white tissue. Areas of gangrene may occur in severe cases. Treatment of deep frostbite includes rapid rewarming in a hot water bath. Since rewarming of deep frostbite is painful and the condition is often associated with infection, transport to a medical facility should be arranged as quickly as possible. Radiant heat (such as from a fire or radiator) should be avoided as burns may occur.

As with so many other conditions in sportsmedicine, our best offense (treatment) is a good defense (preparation!). Following the guidelines below will help minimize risk for cold related illness and will maximize our enjoyment and performance during our training runs:

1. Dress in layers of loose, lightweight clothing. The first layer of clothing (closest to the body) should be made of polyester or polypropylene which will “wick” sweat away from the body. Subsequent layers should be loose and breathable-fleece is a good choice. Cotton should be minimized as it can allow sweat buildup. The outer layer should be wind and water resistant, thus protecting from wind, rain, and snow. When in doubt, add the extra layer. You can always remove a layer if you warm up, but you will regret not having it if you start freezing with several miles to go.

2. Protect your head and extremities. Wearing a hat is essential as up to 50% of body heat can be lost though the head. Gloves are important to prevent exposure to the hands. These, too, can be removed if you get warm, but you’ll regret not having them if needed. Mittens are better on colder days as they will keep the hands even warmer. Sunglasses and sunblock are important to protect the face, especially when there is glare from snow. Guys-remember to insulate the privates, which are prone to cold and frostbite. Forget this once and it will be your only time!

3. Take time to warm up and stretch before increasing intensity during training runs.

4. Remember to stay well hydrated and fed. It is easy to forget that we are sweating in the cold, and therefore we may not recognize the need to hydrate and fuel when running in the cold. Hydration and refueling are important to prevent bonking in addition to helping us maintain body temperature.

5. Plan your courses so that you can ensure staying warm and dry. Avoid courses that take you away from shelter, especially on wet windy days. Consider several shorter loops which will allow you to add or remove layers of clothing more easily or even seek shelter indoors if necessary.

6. Runners with exercise induced bronchospasm should attempt to warm air such as with a scarf or mask. A prolonged warmup prior to hard running can help minimize symptoms. Carry your inhaler if you use one, should it become necessary.

Following the above guidelines will help minimize problems associated with cold weather exercise and allow you to get the most out of your training.

Stay warm. I’ll see you on the roads!