October 20, 2014

Stimulus Variety

One of the most important strategies to prevent tissue overload (injury) is to vary the stimuli (stresses) of training. 

My two favorite are rotating my shoes and running on a variety of surfaces, such as asphalt, grass, rocky roads, and forest trails. 

Other options include varying the length of each run, varying the pace of each run, or doing non running cardio such as cycling or elliptical work. 

What other strategies do you use?

October 19, 2014

Check Lists

To maximize performance on race day, a lot of little things need to go right.  It's easy to drop the ball considering our emotions take over and we focus on the race itself. 

Maybe we should do what airplane pilots do - and make a checklist. 

To make your checklist, list all of the  minor and major things that need to get done the day before the morning in chronological order. 

This comes to mind today as I failed to use my checklist yesterday.  I ran in a short trail race and, due to lack of planning, ate a rushed breakfast without thinking about which foods might give me problems during the race. 

Now, I'm trying to do better about not making excuses for poor performance. So I will freely admit that the five guys who beat me on race day did so because they were better athletes that day. 

With that said, my poor choice for breakfast led to stomach issues and the ensuing potty break a half mile from the finish line resulted in two people passing me. 

Had I use my checklist, and followed it, there's a good chance those problems would not have arisen.  

Here's a checklist I use for long triathlons.  Feel free to copy, modify and use it or yourself. 

October 17, 2014

Compression

A couple of years ago, compression garments reached a fever pitch in the industry.

 Like all fads, it seems to have peaked and normalized. Not to take anything away from it, compression is still very popular.

Here's what we know:

1) Compression does assist in recovery. Research is pretty good to back this up. You want to wear a graduated compression sock (tighter at the ankle than the upper cal) to assist with pushing blood back up to the heart. Compression works against gravity so garments meant for lower on the body are most effective. My suggestion is to skip compression tops or tights for recovery. Compression leg sleeves of course don't assist with this as you will swell below the ankle.

2) It probably does not improve performance. Enough studies have found no benefit to be fairly safe about this conclusion. I personally feel stronger when i wear my compression socks/sleeves/tights while doing longer runs. I have to point this to placebo effect.

Actual compression values vary greatly based upon fabric, quality of construction, and correct fit. Ensure you follow the directions on packaging to ensure you buy the right size. I'm not a fan of compression socks or sleeves that are sized based upon the foot length.

My boss and I both wear around a size 10 shoe. His "Hulk" calves measure probably 19 or 20 inches while mine measure closer to 15. There's no way we will both get the same level of compression out of a sock that is meant for a size 10. When choosing socks or sleeves, only buy products that are sized based upon calf circumference.

October 16, 2014

Shoe Size

Running shoe size is often one half to a full size larger than casual shoe size. 

Most people do well with a half to a full thumb width between their longest toe and the end of the shoe, but that's just the average.  I've seen marathoners with very little room and non-runners who prefer far more than average - all of whom suffer no I'll consequences.  

The biggest problems we see resulting from shoes too small are black toenails and foot numbness. 

Sometimes it comes down to arch length. Two people with the same total foot length may have different arch lengths, which means different shoe sizes.  This is important because you want the shoe to bend where your foot bends - and a longer arch will require a longer shoe. 

People have different sized feet about half the time. Usually we can find a single size that feels good on both but occasionally we resort to after market insoles or ordering two different sized Brooks shoes for $30 over the regular cost of the shoe. Brooks is the only company we know of that offers this service. 

In terms of width, most people are conditioned to wearing too tight of a shoe.  I always recommend a wider shoe if I see the outer edge of the foot hanging over the midsole.  Visualize a man's belly hanging over his belt to understand what that looks like. 

We find about 50-70% of our customers are in too small of a shoe. Men almost always will wear what feels comfortable or what is recommended and women are far more often hesitant to go bigger. 

I find that keeping the size to myself and allowing her to choose between different sizes without knowing which is which lends the most success. 

Sizing is fairly consistent amongst the major brands although occasionally certain styles within a brand will run a half size short or long, such as the current Altra Olympus which is a half size short. Many people think the Hoka Stinson runs a half size large. 

When in doubt, err on the side of too big rather than too small. There are generally fewer problems that result. 

October 14, 2014

Terms & Conditions

Does anyone else see the humor in a rewards program with this many conditions?