Showing posts with label The Well. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Well. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mid-foot running, what used to be right is wrong

Coffee bad good, land on your mid-foot heel
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

There are some things that are constantly reported by the media in terms of safety and/or health benefits. Coffee is one. Years ago I read that consumption of coffee is tied to nervous system impairment and hyper-stimulation of the adrenal glands. Recent studies now position it as a super-food with minimum health risks related to the over-consumption of caffeine.

Another subject is barefoot-style running. Back in the olden days (pre-80's), running shoes were minimal in design and people suffered injuries when running. The answer to that was generation after generation of over-built and highly cushioned running shoes with corrective technology to control pronation. But the injury rate remained exactly the same.

Following studies at Harvard University and publication of the book Born to Run, minimal shoe design returned to the marketplace and an emphasis was put on mid-foot landing and "natural" running style. These shoes have captured almost 10% of the market and I'll admit that I've bought into it as well.

Today, the New York Times published an article in their Well blog, with research supporting heel striking as the "more physiologically economical running form, by a considerable margin." What!?? I was very surprised to read this, because the minimalist approach seems more logical. Why wouldn't a shoe that supports a bio-mechanically correct stride be the better choice?

According to the studies, heel striking seems to facilitate more efficient energy expenditure. This is the opposite from everything I've read before about the subject. I'm not sure what to do with this new information. I'll probably continue to use lighter, flatter and more minimally constructed running shoes because I prefer them. Besides that, despite all my efforts to run with an efficient mid-foot stride, my outsoles still show quite a bit of heel wear.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Running shoes retire too

End of the line
Today's run (street): 3.75 miles

In today's NY Times Well section, there is an article entitled, "When to Retire a Running Shoe." It's a subject of great debate, because the answer can be different with every runner. The article doesn't provide an actual answer, but it does support my view that a shoe's cushioning level makes little difference in terms of protection. Golden Harper, the man who created Altra running shoes, suggested that a runner knows when it's time to replace, “You get a sense for it,” he said. “Nothing hurts, but it is going to soon.”

I think about that as I consider which shoes to wear during my upcoming race. My Kinvara 3's are nearing 500 miles. Though they have held up exceptionally well, I know that this was when my original Kinvaras came to their useful end. The other concern I have about the Kinvaras is that, despite their light weight, they're a little soft as a racer. I'm trying to decide whether to run in the Spira XLT's that are a little more responsive (but have their quirks), or the Brooks Pure Drift prototypes that I use primarily on the treadmill.

Today I ran in the Kinvaras around the neighborhood and I felt like I was running close to top form. The numbers didn't back that up, but I still did better than average. It may have been the stiff winds coming from the west that slowed me down, or the fact that I left a little in reserve through most of the run. I plan a more aggressive approach on Saturday. I'll run tomorrow then rest. I hope this rain moves out by morning so I can finish my taper with a street run.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The schadenfreude of running haters

Today's run (treadmill): 26 minutes

I've been a fan of the NY Times Well blog for years, especially the articles written by Gina Kolata (I wonder how many times people have teased her about her name). The Well covers the subjects of health and science and it often focuses on the subject of running.

Yesterday's column was entitled, "Recipe for Resentment: Claims of Running Prowess" and it was about the fact that non-runners often view runners in a negative way. Quoting Dr. Paul Thompson, a cardiologist and exercise researcher at Hartford Hospital, “people love to find studies that support the bias that too much exercise is bad.” In the story, the writer says, "Running appears so easy — anyone can run, it seems. Anyone can finish a marathon, even Oprah Winfrey did it. So those who do not run can feel a little defensive."

Many years ago I practiced a form of Okinawan karate called Uechi-Ryu and reached the rank of black belt. I found that some people (males in my age group, mostly) liked to disparage both my abilities and the usefulness of my skills. One co-worker used to pretend to shoot me with his finger as if it were an imaginary gun. It was his way of suggesting that karate is an ineffective form of self defense. I finally asked him if he'd like to see what I could do to him with my finger. That ended  that, but I always felt bad when those conversations happened.

I'll concede that I can talk at length about running technique, experiences and performance. It's energizing to relate with others who feel the same way. But for those who don't know the difference between a foot pod and a fartlek, running talk can sound pretty boring. I'm fortunate that most of the people in my life support my running and the worst anyone ever says about it is that running hurts their knees. I've learned enough to keep my mouth shut rather than lecture them on how mid-foot running will solve that problem for them.

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