Pounding Pavement by Heel or Toe

Heel or Toe forefoot striking

Yay! Another study on running form. What I love about this one is this…

But a noteworthy new study may help to quell the squabbling, by suggesting that each style of running has advantages and drawbacks, and the right way to run almost certainly depends on what kind of runner you already are.

So, I read this as do what works for you. I love this part…

In essence, the findings show that you can’t escape the cumulative impact of running, however you stride, said Juha-Pekka Kulmala, a Ph.D. student, now at the University of Jyvaskyla, who led the study.

That’s fine. This is one of the major reasons that runninghype.com exists: because there is no right way to do things. But, many people try to tell you so. That’s what makes this site fun, because I get to tell you.

Enjoy the article over at the NY Times.

Video Game Fools with Random Runners Title

To bring you the latest and greatest hype in the world of running, I sometimes get random stuff into my inbox. For example, this “meh” video game called Random Runners. It reminds me of the old Sonic video games I had 10-20 years ago. But, now I’m obligated to tell you about it simply because they used runners in the title.

Here’s a review of Random Runners.

 

How to Get Kids Into Running

How to get kids into running

OMG Someone writes in to RunnersWorld concerned that her 11 year old daughter hates running in her PE class at school. Here is the response:

I’d highly encourage you to share in this journey with your daughter. Teach her how to tune into her body, listen to her breath, and modulate her running effort with walking when things get challenging. This will give her the tools to control how she reaches the finish line, and more importantly, it will allow her body time to adapt to the demands of running without hurting.

There’s nothing wrong with the advice from the article. But, I think most kids will be better off if you simplify and not focus on the running. I have a 14 year old daughter now, who joined the high school cross country team this year. She hated PE in middle school. Now, she’s a mid-packer who loves being with her friends at meets and at practice. Middle school PE is not a journey. And, most of the kids in middle school are undergoing dramatic changes, emotionally and physically. Enjoying her PE running is not what she wants. Talk to her about school, friends and enjoying herself while being overburdened with homework.

Here’s the article at runnersworld.

5 Secrets of Barefoot Running

Running Barefoot by karmadude, on Flickr

Running Barefoot by karmadude, on Flickr

Let’s face it, talking about barefoot running is still great hype. After all, you’re here reading my article.

Barefoot running has gotten huge over the last few years. Tens of thousands of people claim that since it’s the most natural way to run, it’s the best. So, you know it must be true.

But does it hold up to all the scrutiny?

 

After all, not everyone has picked up barefoot running yet. In fact, the vast majority of people are still wearing traditional running shoes. What is wrong with them?

Well from both personal experience, and that of friends, I want to share a few things you might find are already part of the discussion, but should be reviewed anyway.

Barefoot Running Reduces Injuries

Most people who run in traditional running shoes are taught to lead with the heel. In other words, they land very heavily on their heels while they run. Hence why most running shoes focus cushioning on the heel of the shoe.

The thing is- it doesn’t make sense for our bodies to run like that. That’s why so many distance runners experience shin splints and foot pain. Even if you are wearing running shoes, hitting heel-first is unnatural and your body isn’t meant to take that kind of force.

If you run barefoot, it feels extremely uncomfortable to hit with your heel first. Not only do you feel the shock of force going up your leg, but you also hit the ground much harder.

Meanwhile, landing on the ball of your foot allows you to land softer. This prevents injuries such as shin splints, and your feet will thank you as well.

That said- you still have to watch where you’re going. Running barefoot or in minimalist shoes means that you can step off an unexpected curb, or into a pothole and not get hurt.

Improved Stability

Engineering is Elementary: Designing Knee Braces by kjarrett, on Flickr

Engineering is Elementary: Designing Knee Braces by kjarrett, on Flickr

In addition to the large muscles in your legs, you have many smaller muscles called stabilizers. Strong stabilizer muscles are what allow gymnasts to flip all over the place and land on a mat without turning an ankle. It’s also what allows runners to log thousands of miles without turning an ankle or hurting their knees.

The thing is- running shoes don’t help you strengthen those stabilizers. Since the shoe typically comes up your ankle, it helps provide the support that your stabilizers normally provide. This causes these muscles to go unused, which eventually weakens them.

Meanwhile, minimalist running shoes have no support for the ankle. This helps you improve stability muscles.

Besides- if you ever go trail running in minimalist shoes, you’ll quickly see how much more easily you feel like you can maneuver around trees, rocks, roots, etc.

Improve Propulsion

Have you ever watched sprinters at a track race?

They don’t strike with their heel first. In fact, they hardly let their heels touch the ground at all. They’ve been trained to run on the balls of their feet because that’s what gives them the most propulsion and speed.

Running barefoot gives the same benefit. Nobody propels themselves forward with their heel, right? It’s always with the ball of the foot.

So by landing on the ball of the foot, you’re already prepared to push yourself off again quickly. In other words, you’re improving both your propulsion and your efficiency by landing on the front of your foot.

Want Strong Legs and Feet?

How much of a workout do your feet get when you run in traditional shoes?

Not much of one, I can tell you that.

Your foot muscles are doing work, but not very much. At least, not when you compare it to the amount of strength needed for barefoot running.

The first time that people try running barefoot or in minimalist shoes, they’re usually surprised at how their feet and lower legs feel afterwards. Their feet may feel sore, and their calves are usually on fire. That’s because this method of running uses a lot more muscles, including those that are ignored by traditional running forms.

So what do you think is better- running with a crutch (aka regular running shoe) that doesn’t strengthen your feet and legs? Or running in a way that builds stronger muscles?

Like Money?

Let’s face it- these days, most of us will have arthritis when we get older. It could be because of the food we eat, or toxins in the air, or whatever you want to blame it on.

The thing is- do you want to accelerate that process?

Minimalist running helps protect your joints and cartilage because you lessen the impact when you land. Over years, even decades of running- this adds up to a LOT less force going up your legs.

Less force most likely means less arthritis, fewer doctor visits and lower doses of medication, if any.

Sounds like a win-win for me.

Conclusion

Admittedly- barefoot and minimalist running may not be quite as amazing as some people (including myself in this article) have claimed. As a matter of fact, it’s not amazing at all considering that is how we have run for 99.9% of human existence.

My job here is done. Discuss.

What Runners Should Know About Protein

Protein for Runners

It’s nearly 2014, so by now you should know that protein is good for a runners body. But, if you have concerns about not being able to use your metric food scale at home, don’t worry, this article will help you determine the number of grams of protein you need and when.

To gain the full benefits of protein’s power, most sports dieticians and nutritionists recommend getting 10-20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of finishing a run, and some say even sooner

Read ore at Active.com.

You Need More Interval Training . . . Tips

interval

Interval training can improve your running in many ways. Using intervals creatively can make your workout more effective, or not. Don’t forget common sense.

You do not need to be a competitive athlete to make effective use of intervals in your training. Interval training can improve your running ability whether you run a 10-minute mile or a 20-minute.

And, here are some of the tips:

Warm up for 10 minutes at an easy jog

Run at interval pace (a step up from your usual pace) for one minute

Read all about it at Active.com.

Please Don’t Run Me Over, I’m Wearing Headphones for Running

Running with Music by Chris Hunkeler, on Flickr

Running with Music by Chris Hunkeler, on Flickr

When you first get into the market for some headphones for running, you’ll probably be surprised. There are a LOT of different models to choose from.

Some are “normal” headphones that just have the small plastic round pieces you put in your ears.

Others have a plastic hook that goes around your ear, securing it in place.

Some running headphones have a small rubbery piece that sticks into your ear, holding it in place.

Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. To help you choose the best type of headphone for running, we made up three factors to consider. It’s the Internet, of course we make these up.

(Psst: scroll to the bottom for some shameless product recommendations)

 

Factor #1: Headphones Price

Would you be surprised to hear that headphones for running can be anywhere from $1 to over $200? I’m not, because I just did the research.

The first time I got a pair of $35 headphones, I felt like I’d spent a fortune. Apparently I was on the lower end of the spectrum, with “serious” runners willing to pay a lot more for their gear.

Generally, we’ve found that higher prices have almost zero effect on quality. Sure, they may look a little cooler or have slightly better audio- but as for utility? There’s very little difference.

A set of $8 headphones with hooks that go around your ears tend to work just as well, if not better, than that $150 set that has nothing to keep them secure in your ears.

All of that said- some runners swear by the more expensive gear, saying that it stays in place better and provides much better quality sound.

What it really boils down to is your budget. How much can you afford to pay to get the tiny incremental improvements that you may or may not notice with a more expensive pair?

Factor #2: Usage during Running

Some runners log 3-5 miles a week. Others log more than 2-3 more than that every day.

If you’re in the first group, chances are you don’t need extremely high quality headphones for running. You really aren’t using them too much, so they should be able to last a long time before they need replacing.

Meanwhile, folks in the second group may need to get a higher quality pair of headphones. If you’re logging 5 miles a day, you’re probably running at least 10 hours a week, right? That’s a lot of time spent in those headphones, so you need to make sure they’re sturdy and comfortable.

Yellow and green sprint by KaiChanVong, on Flickr

Yellow and green sprint by KaiChanVong, on Flickr

Along with usage comes the idea of sound isolation. Do you need to cancel all of the noise around you to really concentrate? Or are you in a situation where you need good situational awareness?

For example- many runners who spend their miles on treadmills tend to like sound isolation. They don’t want to hear weights dropping, random gym chatter, and the slowpoke next to you huffing and puffing. You also probably want to isolate the sound of your own breath and feet hitting the ground.

Meanwhile, street runners can’t be so picky. Safety should always be a top priority, and on the street you need to hear cars, bikers, muggers, other runners, etc.

Bottom line- how much time are you logging, and where is it?

Factor #3: Comfort in Your Ears

Everyone’s different.

My head is shaped differently than yours. My ears are probably either bigger or smaller, higher or lower, rounder or less round… you get the point.

Because our bodies are all shaped differently, a headset that feels great to your buddy may feel extremely uncomfortable to you.

Running should be a fun, enjoyable experience. Everyone loves that runner’s high, especially while jamming out to your favorite music. But nobody wants to do that with uncomfortable headphones in their ears.

Think about what you think you’d like best regarding comfort. Would you be okay with having a piece loop behind your ears? Or would you rather have a small piece of the headphones stick deeper into your ears for stability?

Either way- just pick one and try out a set. If you like it, great. If not, you can (hopefully) return them and get a different set to try out.

Also, is the cord too short, too long, or just right? Too much cord adds a lot of bounce, while having too small of a cord could cause you to knock the headphones out.

The bottom line? Don’t try to force yourself to like your earphones. Get some that you feel comfortable with and roll with it.

Conclusion and Shameless Promotion

Generally, these are the 3 main things to consider when shopping for headphones for running. Typically the more expensive headphones are higher quality and last longer, but they may not provide better stability or sound.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you buy from my links below. It tells me that I should make up more articles like this one in the future.

Cheapo Headphones:
Philips Flexible Earhook Headphones SHS3201/28 (White) (replaces SHS3201/37)

Mid-Price:
Sennhesier MX685 Adidas Sports In-Ear Headphones – Black

You Want the Best Headphones for Running:
Bose SIE2i Sport Headphones – Blue

I have money to burn:
Shure SE315-K, Sound Isolating Earphone, Hi-Definition Micro Speaker with Tuned Bass Port (Black)

Oh No! Barefoot Running Stumbles

mens-health-barefoot

Several years in, and the hype and discussion about barefoot, or natural, running, is still going on. I enjoy reading the many articles out there, including this one.

The 2011 L.A. Marathon was going well for Joseph Gabriel. After 26 miles enduring a cold rain and gusty winds, he was still on pace to break four hours—his goal after four months of training. But as he turned onto Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, with the finish line in sight 300 yards away, he felt a sudden tug above his left ankle.

And then it gets into the good stuff…

The problem? “People took our paper, which was about a very small, limited topic, as telling them how to run,” Lieberman says. “Running is a complex skill that you can’t learn how to do just by taking off your shoes.”

Read the whole article at Men’s Health.

Do Waterproof Running Shoes Work on Treadmills?

A lot of readers ask me if waterproof running shoes work on treadmills. Even though some might consider this a silly topic, I think it does need to be addressed.

First off, let’s look at where these types of shoes are typically used.

Who Needs Waterproof Running Shoes?

There are 3 main times that you need these types of shoes.

The first is if you live in an area that receives huge amounts of rain. The first place that comes to mind is Seattle, considering that place is always soaking wet.

The second group of people that should get these shoes is swamp people. As you might expect, these are the people living in regions such as the Everglades or southern Louisiana. Swamp people tend to get into a lot of trouble, so they’re constantly running away from alligators, snakes, and man-eating mud monsters.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Muddy shoes by vitahall, Flickr

PHOTO CREDIT: Muddy shoes by vitahall, Flickr

The third group, which is probably the group you belong to, is the group of people who like to run in the ocean naked. Obviously you’re just asking for trouble by not having any shoes on, so you better keep those feet dry if you partake in this kinda thing.

But even though these are the main times you’d want shoes, you can, in fact, use them on a treadmill. Here are a few things to consider though.

Waterproof Shoes and Treadmills

Personally, I don’t recommend taking these shoes on a treadmill.

The first reason is that a good set of shoes isn’t cheap. You’re going to spend at least $100, so why would you tear them up while running on a treadmill?

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying that your treadmill is made out of sharp rocks or concrete or something. But generally, there’s no reason to take your nice running shoes onto a treadmill.

Instead, try using flip flops. They’re meant to be destroyed anyway. You could also try wearing something like Crocs. They’re made out of rubber- kinda.

That said- maybe you still want to run on a treadmill. Make sure you do the following before you get going.

Treadmill Running Checklist

First, make sure that your running shoes are laced up nice and tight. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to run with the laces untied, only to wind up flat on my face. It doesn’t feel very good- I don’t recommend it.

Second, strap on your GPS running watch. I know, I know- what good is a watch using GPS if you’re just on a treadmill? Well, here’s the thing. If you got attacked by a pack of zombies while you’re on the treadmill, the only way someone will ever find you is by tracking your GPS watch.

Third, get some good quality running gear. Cotton works okay, but typically isn’t the best material for running. It gets hot and absorbs all of your sweat- not fun. Instead, invest in running shorts, shirts, underwear and socks that wick away moisture. That way you can at least feel comfortable.

PHOTO CREDIT: Legs by Håkan Dahlström, Flickr

PHOTO CREDIT: Legs by Håkan Dahlström, Flickr

Fourth, spend at least 5 minutes stretching before and after your workout. Stretching has been proven to reduce your chances of injury, quicken recovery time, and give you the powers of Superman. The most important stretch, as you might imagine, is laying on your stomach and then stretching out your arms in front of you, while straightening your legs out behind you.

Finally, attach a footpod to your waterproof running shoes. This will help you keep track of your pace and cadence.

Now let’s talk about a few things to look for in your shoe.

What Makes a Good Running Shoe?

The most important feature of a good running shoe is the support it provides your foot. Most runners don’t have perfect running form, so your shoe should compensate that. For example, someone with high arches usually needs a shoe that provides great arch support.

Another important feature is a grip on the bottom of the shoe. If you’re running on treadmills, this isn’t extremely important. But if you decide to take a run up a cliff or on the ceiling, you’ll want the best grip you can get.

Finally, make sure that your foot gets extremely hot while running in the shoe. This verifies that no moisture is getting in. Sure, maybe your foot will smell bad enough to knock out small animals and children with one sniff, but at least they didn’t allow in moisture.

The Soggy Truth

Waterproof running shoes work pretty well on treadmills. Even though that isn’t exactly what they were designed for, don’t feel too silly about trying it sometime. You might be surprised and realize that you like it, similar to that time you tried an egg, beet and Snickers sandwich.

(PHOTO CREDIT on Featured Image: Treadmill by maHidoodi, Flickr)

Q By Enquinox

The buzz word for this week: Pairings. In a meta sense, to run well and run healthy, you must complement your mileage with strength-training. “If you haven’t picked up on it yet, running really does need to be paired with lifting,” says Tier 4 coach Jason Skinner. “Structure, balance and movement tend to fall apart without it.”

“The benefit of this week is found in the pairings of the exercise,” says Skinner. “The Reach, Roll and Lift create the mobility and stability required at the shoulder and scapula, while the Push-up Plank with Shoulder Taps reinforces those gains and ties in the core and upper extremities. The Split Squat with Band Adduction challenges the glute in a split stance position while the Lunge to Cable Row requires the body to further stabilize in a more challenging single-leg stance while once again incorporating the upper extremities.”

More experts and more of the same…train your whole body. Although I like this article as it encourages me not to feel vain when I look in the mirror.

Read the full article at Q.equinox.com

Photo copyright by Mike Rosentha

Running Times

There’s been a revolution in running science in the last few years. For a century, researchers have focused on the role of the heart, legs, and lungs to explain the limits of human endurance, but they’ve ignored the brain.

Turns out, that was a mistake. It’s not lactate levels in your blood or oxygen shortages in your muscles that force you to slow down, it’s how your brain interprets those signals. In other words, the effort of running is only as hard as your brain perceives it to be. Scientists have since demonstrated that seemingly absolute physical limits are imposed by the brain—not the body.

New research once again tells us what we already know, running is mostly mental. Getting past the “wall” in any race has nothing to do with your muscles, but everything to do with your head.

Read the full article at Runnersworld.com

Photo copyright by Comrade.