24 May 2009

Heel or mid/fore foot striker - Which one are you?

The subject of heel striking vs mid or fore foot striking is one which I've been taking a key interest in of late. I sense a growing awareness and movement to the benefits of landing softly on your mid foot rather than the traditional heel striking.

Proponents of a mid foot landing promote this style as a more natural style of running, which seeks to emulate the way one runs if they were running barefoot. When running barefoot do you land on your heel? Chances are you will be wanting to land on your mid foot as continued heel striking would soon result in some heavy bruising to the padding on your heel. Proponents therefore surmise that its safer to adopt a mid foot landing as this is the more natural style which the human body is better suited to.

Another reason often put forward by those in the mid foot camp is that the running shoe industry has in a round about sort of way contributed to the problem by manufacturing shoes which are heavily built up with cushioning and support through the heel. The running shoe industry has therefore for years concentrated on the development of shoes designed to minimise the the adverse effects of heel striking, therefore encouraging continued heel striking.

Danny Dreyer, founder of Chi Running , is one that favours a mid foot landing. Danny's view is that knee injuries can commonly be traced back to heavy heel striking. Generally a heavy heel stiker will be coming down hard on their heel with their foot in front of their centre of gravity. What then happens is that you momentarily brake as your foot stops and your body catches up. The knee joint then is forced to take the brunt of the forces generated on landing.

The Chi Running method promotes a style whereby the forward lean moves your centre of gravity slightly forward so that you are then almost forced to land on the mid foot with your feet beneath your centre of gravity. Rather than a heavy heel strike sending forces up the leg to the knee, the result is a landing on the mid foot with a slightly bent knee and therefore none undue stress to the joints.

Back to the subject of running shoes and it seems that one company has finally answered the calls for a running shoe for the mid foot runner. Newton Running has manufactures a range of running shoes specifically for mid and fore foot runners. I've been following with interest the growing popularity of Newton Running shoes and though I haven't tried them myself yet, (very hard to get hold of down under, but they are coming) I can't wait to get some of these for myself. They will definitely be on my shopping list when I next head out to buy a pair of running shoes.


The unique soles of a pair of Newton trainers. Note the red actuator lugs on the forefoot. On landing these are depressed into hollow chambers inside the sole to act as shock absorbers and also to help lever you forward on take off. photo by Morton Liebach

If you haven't already, check out the Newton Running website to learn more about this exciting development in running shoe design. You can also read first hand from fellow blogger, Steve Speirs who has recently converted to Newtons.

I know this can be a hot topic so I'd be interested in others views on this one.

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11 May 2009

Danny Dreyer - Chi Running

It's been well documented throughout my blog the troubled past I've had with injuries in recent years first with Shin Splints and latterly an as yet undiagnosed heel/ arch problem. Consequently I'm currently in the middle of an extended break from running. As happens when one is injured we look for reasons and answers as to why we get these injuries. We also look for improved training methods to try keep from repeating the mistakes of the past.

A book I have taken a keen interest in, while trying to learn about a more efficient and safer running form, is Danny Dreyer's book, Chi Running. Chi Running is more than just a fancy name. It's a philosophy, a mindset, a group of principles and focuses which when combined together show the reader in a clear and logical way what is I believe to be a truly safer method of running.

I've read this book three times mow and each time the simplicity of Danny's explanations continues to just make such common sense to me. Not only does Danny explain in clear terms the technique but he also explains the why and how of the technique from a physiological sense.

To summarise Chi Running, the technique that is, very briefly

1. Posture - it all starts with maintaining an upright posture from head to toe. Danny calls this your column.

2. The forward lean - lean slightly forward, from the ankle, engaging your core muscles to maintaining your posture. Danny refers to the lean as your gas pedal, increase the lean to increase the speed.

3. The landing - as a result of the forward lean, your feet should naturally be landing at the base of your column and behind your centre of gravity. You will be landing on your mid foot rather than heel striking. This cuts down on the stresses transferred to the knee from heavy heel striking.

4. Relax - another big part of Chi Running is learning to relax. Danny says to relax your lower body. Rather than pushing off with each stride, your lower legs should be hanging limply when you pick your feet up. One of my favorite lines in the book is "If you don't use it you can't abuse it" referring to common overuse injuries like shin splints.

The book is full of other helpful hints and tips, including strengthening exercises, injury prevention tips (again which mainly revolve around relaxing muscles rather than using them, training programmes, racing, diet, interesting tips on how to run up hills and downhills.

I'm convinced that this method of running is right for me and will help me to stay injury free when I start running again. If you've been troubled by persistent injuries and haven't been able to find the right answers then I reckon you're a good candidate for Chi Running also.

To hear more from Danny directly click here.

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08 May 2009

2009 Training log

On this page I record all my training for 2009.

Week 42

zip!

Week 41

so far nothing !

Week 40

Rest a sore ankle and lazily skipped cross training also.

October 1 weight 91 kg (no change from last month)

Tue, Walk / run 1.6 miles, 16 mins

Week 39

Sun, run/walk/run , 1.4 miles, 15 min
Sat, Leg & core stregthening
Fri, swim , 500 m, 15 mins
Thur, Stregthening
Wed, run/walk/run 1.4 miles , 15 minutes. PM yoga stretches
Tue, Exercycle, 60 minutes , 15 easy, 20 tempo pace (95rpm), 5 easy , 15 tempo, 5 easy
Mon, run / walk / run, 1.4 miles, 15 minutes (walk 1 min, run 2 min x 5). PM Yoga stretches

Week 38

Sun, Legs & core strength training
Sat, walk / run, 1.3 miles , 14 minutes (walk 1 / run 1 x 7)
Fri, Swim , 1000 m, 32 minutes, PM stretching
Thur, walk/run 1.3 miles, 14 minutes
Wed, Stretching


Week 37

Sun, Legs & core strength training
Sat, Walk / run 1.3 miles , 14 minutes (walk 1 / Run 1 x 7), PM stretching
Thur, Swim, 1200 m, 39 minutes,incl 4 x 100 m intervals , PM stretching
Tue, Stretching
Mon, Exercycle 60 minutes


Week 36

Sun, Legs & core strength training
Sat, Exercycle, 82 minutes
Fri, Swim 1100 m , 35 minutes
Thur, Stretching
Wed, Exercycle, 62 minutes
Tue, Swim, 1000m , 33 minutes
Mon, Yoga/stretching

September 1 weight, 90.5 kg (down .5 kg from August)

Week 35

A bit of an up and down week this one. Car broke down Monday so spent Tuesday arranging to get that fixed. Flew to Dunedin for work on Wednesday, so th eearly part of the week was a bit of a write off training wise.

Sun, Legs & core strength training
Sat, Exercycle , 62 minutes
Thur, Exercycle 45 minutes

Week 34

Sunday, Legs and core strength training
Thursday, Yoga
Wednesday, Swim, 1100 meters, 35 minutes. 200m warm up, 4 x 100 m harder efforts separated by 100 m 'rests', finish with 200 m warm down.
Tuesday, Yoga
Monday, Exercycle, 62 minutes - Interval session, 4 x 7 minutes efforts at 100+ RPM / 5 minutes rest between each interval

Week 33

Sunday, Exercycle, 82 minutes
Thursday, Swim, 1100 meters, 34 minutes, Yoga
Wednesday, Leg & core strength training
Tuesday, Yoga

Week 32

Saturday, Bike ride, North Shore loop, 17.4 miles, 85 minutes (8 minutes down on the last time I rode this route in 12 weeks ago!)
Friday, Yoga
Thursday, Exercycle, 62 minutes, (hill workout - three 10 minute 'hills' , five min rest between.
Wednesday, Leg & Core resistance training
Tuesday, Exercycle, 62 minutes, including a 30 minute 'tempo' effort at above 95 rpm.
Monday, Yoga

August 1st weight, 91 kg

Week 31

Exercycle , 144 minutes
Swim , 2200 meters, 73 minutes
2 x Yoga and resistance training.

Sunday, Exercycle, 84 minutes
Saturday, Resistance training
Friday, Swim, 1100 meters, 36 minutes
Thurdsay, Yoga for runners
Wednesday, Exercycle, 60 minutes
Tuesday, Legs, Butt & Core workout
Monday, AM, Swim , 1100 meters, 37 minutes, PM, Yoga for Runners

Week 30

A lovely sunny winters day today so felt that I had no excuse not to venture out for my first bike ride of the winter. Obviously the Exercycle is o substitute for riding on the road because I was a goo five or six minutes slower today that last time I did this ride.

Sunday, weight / strength training
Saturday, Bike ride, Albany 13 mile loop, 64 minutes.
Thursday, Exercycle, 45 minutes
Wednesday, Swim, 1000m, 32 minutes
Tuesday, Exercycle, 45 minutes

Week 29

Swim, 32 minutes
Exercycle, 216 minutes

Saturday, Exercycle, 86 minutes
Thursday, Exercycle, 65 minutes
Wednesday, Swim, 1000 m, 32 minutes
Tuesday, Exercycle, 65 minutes

Week 28

Exercycle , 275 minutes

Sunday, Exercycle, 86 minutes
Friday , Exercycle , 63 minutes
Wednesday, Exercycle,63 minutes
Monday, Exercycle, 63 minutes

Week 27

Exercycle 206 minutes

Sunday , Exercycle, 82 minutes
Friday, Exercycle, 62 minutes
Wednesday, Exercycle , 62 minutes

July 1 Weight 91 kg

Week 26

Swim, 2200 meters, 72 minutes
Exercycle, 180 minutes

Sunday, Exercycle, 60 minutes
Friday, Swim, 1100 meters, 37 minutes
Thursday, Exercycle , 60 minutes
Wednesday, Exercycle, 60 minutes
Tuesday, Swim , 1100 meters, 35 minutes

Week 25

Exercycle, 175 minutes
Swim, 30 minutes

Sunday, Exercycle , 65 minutes
Thursday, Swim, 1000m, 30 minutes
Tuesday, Exercycle, 55 minutes
Monday, Exercycle , 55 minutes

Week 24

Swim, 1800m, 57 minutes
Exercyle, 105 minutes

Saturday, Exercycle, 51 minutes
Friday, Swim, 1000m, 31 minutes
Wenesday, Exercycle, 54 minutes
Monday, Swim 800 m , 26 minutes

Week 23

Another lazy week, haven't found that motivation yet to do anything.

Week 22

I've slacked off this last week and haven't done anything. No real excuses just laziness creeping back in. I need to re focus and look forward to the longer goal of running again. I need to keep up my cross training so I've got at least an average level of fitness for when I start running again.

Weight as at end of May , 93 kg.


Week 21

Wed, Swim 1000m, 31 minutes
Tue, Exercycle, 35 minutes

Week 20

Bike, 17.4 mile
Swim ,1600 m
Exercycle, 105 minutes

Sat , Bike ride, North shore 17.4 miles, 78 minutes
Fri, Swim , 900 m, 29 minutes
Thur, Exercycle , 55 minutes
Wed, Swim 700 m, 21 minutes
Tue, Exercycle , 50 minutes

Week 19

Sat, Bike, 8.5 miles, 38 minutes
Thur,Exercycle, 50 minutes
Wed, Swim, 550 m, 17 minutes

Week 18

Sun, Bike ride, 17.2 miles, North Shore 17 mile loops , 80 minutes

Weight 93 kg

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05 May 2009

Heartbreaking end to Rotorua Marathon

Has there been a more heartbreaking finish to a marathon than at last weekends Rotorua Marathon?

Race leader Steven O'Callaghan takes stumble just metres from the finishing line allowing fast finishing favorite Scott Winton to overtake him and take out the race.

I can't imagine what poor O'Callaghan must have been feeling as he staggered across the finish line but he must still be having nightmares about it. Winton on the other hand probably cant believe his good fortune.

Watching this I thought , wouldn't it have been good to see Winton stop to help up O'Callaghan and then cross the line together to share the victory? Maybe that sort of stuff just happens in movies, there was a trophy and winners cheque to pick up after all.

Anyway the fact that it all happened so quickly and so close to the finish probably gave Winton too little time to react. I'm sure when you're just ten metres out from the finish line in a marathon the only think that crosses your mind is getting to that line. One day I'll experience the pain of those closing metres.

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01 May 2009

Time to throw away the scales

My employer brought in the health experts this week and offered everyone free health checks. Not having ever had a Cholesterol test before I thought it would be an interesting exercise to get the experts assessment on my current well being (or lack there of).


Photo by Erix

What I found out was;

- Total Cholesterol was good at 4.5 (ideal level being less than 5).

- HDL Cholesterol (measures the good fats) was less than ideal at .84 (ideal is more than 1). More avocados, olive oils etc needed here. Suggestion was to look at fish oil capsules as a supplement. These evidently help with freeing up joints and the cardio vascular system also which sounds beneficial.

- Blood glucose was good at 4.9 , ideal level is 3 too 5.6, low risk for diabetes.

- Blood pressure 125 / 70. Good news there, that's a normal blood pressure.

- Weight 93.4 kg (206 pds), this was a bit of a shock. Thanks to some faulty scales
at home I've been under the impression that I was a reasonably trim 87 - 88 kg. Turns out I've tipped the scales at over 90kg again. This will definitely give me more reason to pick up my fitness work.

- Body Mass Index, 28.8. Ideal BMI is less than 27 so again this is slightly on the high side but still a low / moderate risk of health problems.

Apparently I need to be exercising MORE. I'm generally exercising four days a week at present. Apparently five days a week is the recommended. Guess I will have to do something about that.

My diet is one area I could pay closer attention to. Though I don't consider myself an unhealthy eater, I could definitely show a bit more restraint in some areas. It's best not to have things like ice cream or chocolate biscuits in the house as I will just polish these have in no time. I find though that if we don't buy these items I don't miss them terribly.

I'm not one to snack throughout the day on high sugar foods, and I generally eat fruit and vegetables every day. I do love my coffee though (with sugar) but I also know not to over do this. Two a day is generally my limit. Otherwise it's generally several glasses of water a day. Not many soft drinks really.

All in all an average report I would say. Will probably give my self a B grade based on the findings. Not a bad result but could try harder would probably sum it up.

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