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Goodbye Limits: Meet Andrea

Posted by on Thursday, September 6, 2012 @ 10:00 am | Leave a reply

Over the course of 60 Days of Better, we’ll be following two people who decided to seek Better in their own lives. Their journeys are very different and very inspiring and along the way, Newton became a part of helping them find Better. 

There is a lot of research out there claiming that exercise can be effective as an anti-depressant. And you know what? It’s true! It’s a fact I discovered myself a year and a half ago when I started running.

For a number of years, I’ve suffered from a relatively mild, but chronic form of depression, known as atypical depression. It’s always been mild enough that I could function. In fact, for years I didn’t realize I was suffering from depression. I just assumed I was lazy, moody, and somehow defective. Things came to a bit of a head when I slid into a major depressive episode, precipitated by a period of upheaval and change; finishing grad school, moving to a new city, and starting a new job. What should have been an exciting time in my life turned into just the opposite. I felt sad and angry more often then not. I lived in a state of constant fatigue and lethargy. I had difficulty concentrating, and often felt like I was in a fog.I put on weight at an almost frightening rate, and my hair turned to straw. I developed a debilitating social anxiety, and began isolating myself. The worst part, however, was the apathy. I completely lost my will to do anything, and would sometimes spend hours at a time just sitting and staring, because I couldn’t think of anything that felt worth doing. I didn’t care that I was putting on weight, that I never went out, or that I had isolated myself from my friends.

When the depression started to impact my job performance, I knew it was time to get some help. I went to a doctor and was put on anti-depressants. They helped alleviate some of the more acute symptoms, took the edge off, and gave me enough energy to function. They also made me numb and emotionless, and didn’t help with my apathy, social anxiety, or negative self-talk. I knew that I needed more than medication to get out of the hole that I was in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford therapy, and I just didn’t have the energy or power of concentration for self-help books. One night, out of sheer desperation, I tied on a pair of running shoes and went for my first run in years. It wasn’t pretty. I probably only ran a mile, and I was puffing and wheezing and creaking the whole way. But it sure felt good! For the first time in months, I felt like I had actually accomplished something. So I kept doing it. I found a friend to run with, and we were doggedly out there pounding the pavement at least three times a week. I loved the fact that I could see my progress in terms of weight loss, miles, and most importantly, mood!

The wet blanket of apathy and fatigue began to lift, and I actually began to feel optimistic, and to enjoy my life again. Every time I ran, I felt a sense of peace and well-being. My fatigue was now a healthy, normal fatigue, and I had new found energy to go out and DO things again. The biggest impact of my running was the effect it had on my confidence and self-worth. I was a runner, and I could pound out miles that not everyone was capable of. I felt strong, and confident, and this confidence transferred over to all aspects of my life. I got a bike and began cycling to work. I took French cooking lessons. I started dating again. Most importantly, I felt normal, not defective, broken and incapable.

Six months after desperation drove me to tie on those running shoes, I completed my first half-marathon. It was hard, but the emotions I felt when I crossed that finish line were incredible. Joy, accomplishment, pride, and disbelief that I had just run 13.1 miles! I was one of those people who could run a really really long way, and it endowed me with a belief in myself I’d never thought to possess. So now you can see why I believe in running as an anti-depressant. It’s not just about the energy boost it gives you, or the endorphins, or the weight loss. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment, strength, self confidence and joy. Running can take you places you never dreamed you’d go, like the finish line of a half marathon. Whether you suffer from depression or not, running has the power to make life better, and make you a better person. When I started running, I had nowhere to go but up. A year and a half later, the only question is, where to next?

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Goodbye Limits: Meet Robbie

Posted by on Monday, September 3, 2012 @ 7:13 am | Leave a reply

Over the course of 60 Days of Better, we’ll be following two people who decided to seek Better in their own lives. Their journeys are very different and very inspiring and along the way, Newton became a part of helping them find Better. 

My name is Robbie Leffel. I am a 35 year old husband and father of 2. In a nutshell, I’m a food addict that lost 100 pounds. Here’s my story.

When I was a kid, I was the skinny one. When I hit my teens I fell in love with the snack machine (Honey Buns!) and gained a little weight. Once I arrived at college and realized that I could eat whatever I wanted I really started to get big. It was also around that time that I began to suffer from severe migraine headaches. By the time I was 21, my headaches had increased in severity and frequency, so much so I began missing a lot of school and work. I was also becoming less and less active spending a lot of time in bed trying to get over the headaches. This led me to gain even more weight and over the next decade I ballooned to a seriously unhealthy 336lbs.

All the way through my 20’s and the beginning of my 30’s I was committed to getting healthy, but there were a few road blocks to deal with. Obviously, the headaches were killing me, but what was really adding insult to injury was that I had become a food addict. I was and still am an emotional eater. When I eat foods that are high in sugar, fat, or salt I just feel good, at least temporarily. If I was having a bad day I would turn to food. If I had a headache (which was always) I would eat hoping it would help the headache somehow (crazy, I know). If my wife made me mad I would eat. If my team lost I would eat (which wasn’t very often! Go Duke!). I’m an emotional guy, so all I did was eat.

So I would find a new diet to try and I would buy all the food and start going to the gym, doing all the things I knew I was supposed to do. However, every time I would find a way to sabotage the diet. I would lose a few pounds, so I would get cocky and careless and gradually add more food to my diet, or I would slack off going to the gym. The weight loss would stop and I would say, “See, this diet doesn’t really work either.” I would repeat this cycle over and over again. I always wanted to lose weight, but it was just too hard fighting with my addiction and the headaches.

Then one day I was looking for another diet to “try” (I tried them all). I purchased a book by the Biggest Loser trainer, Jillian Michaels. I could not tell you anything the book said other than this one thing…HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IS POISON AND YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER EAT IT. That little nugget forever changed my life. I don’t think I even finished the book. I ran to the kitchen to see if I could find any HFCS. To my shock, HFCS was in just about everything I was eating. I looked online at restaurants and it was there too. I was cautiously optimistic that this is what had been causing my headaches. I instantly became a food label Nazi and tracked everything that I ate, making sure that I wasn’t eating any HFCS. To my massive relief (understatement!) the headaches went away. Before, I was having 4-5 migraine headaches every week. Now, I will have one about 3 times a year, and that is probably because I ate something accidently that had HFCS in it. (As a side note, just because the FDA approves it and Coca-Cola and McDonald’s serves it does not mean that it is safe to consume!)

Armed with a new lease on life and one of my major obstacles out of the way, I committed myself to getting healthy for real. I began my own little program, of running and a super simple diet, which I came up with that I thought fit me and who I was and what I needed. After about a year I had lost 100lbs. I had become a new man. I’m happier than I have ever been and I have so much confidence. I am able to keep up with my kids and enjoy life the way you are supposed to.

I’ve certainly come a long way, but I’ve still got a long way to go. My initial goal was to see 299lbs on the scale, then get to that 100lb mark. I realize weight is just a number. My actual goal is to just be healthy and fit, tracking my weight is just a means to an end. My next goal is to get below 200, to see 199lbs on the scale. I have no doubt that I will get there. In fact, I am officially setting a goal for myself and you are my witness. By the end of Newton’s “60 Days of Better” I will reach my goal of 199lbs. I think I can do it. I’ve got on my Newtons and I am motivated to make a better me. Is anybody with me?!

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Craig Alexander on ESPN Australia’s Aussies Abroad

Posted by on Friday, August 31, 2012 @ 11:00 am | Leave a reply

As we approach both the 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas as well as the big daddy in Kona it’s a good time to take a look at some of the back story on the man who currently holds both titles. As the man known as “Crowie” to his legions of fans, Craig Alexander is a true gentleman and ambassador for the burgeoning sport of triathlon and this video tells us a bit more about who the real Craig Alexander is.

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Welcome to the School of Running

Posted by on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 @ 2:10 pm | Leave a reply

Today Newton is very excited to be launching our School of Running (SOR) here in Boulder, Colorado. The mission of the SOR is to spread the knowledge of good, natural running form around the world by educating those who are interested in teaching others to become better runners and who wish to become better and more efficient runners themselves.

The first session of SOR which began today is educating a handful of North American retail ambassadors. Soon the School of Running will expand to include Newton’s recently revamped Coach Certification Program. Details of that program will be coming soon but for now the dates of the first sessions are below.

 

 

Friday, September 21, 2012 – Saturday, September 22, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Friday, September 21, 2012 – Saturday, September 22, 2012
REGISTER NOW »
Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Sunday, October 28, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 – Sunday, October 28, 2012
REGISTER NOW »
Friday, November 9, 2012 – Saturday, November 10, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Friday, November 9, 2012 – Saturday, November 10, 2012
REGISTER NOW »
Saturday, December 8, 2012 – Sunday, December 9, 2012

Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification

What: Newton Natural Running™ Coach Certification
Who: Newton Running – School of Running
Where: 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 120
Boulder CO 80302 US
Date: Saturday, December 8, 2012 – Sunday, December 9, 2012
REGISTER NOW »

 

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Newton Cake Boss(es)

Posted by on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 @ 8:37 am | Leave a reply

Around these parts we’ve had Newton Running fans show us love in a bunch of different ways. This morning we got into Newton HQ and found this beautiful creation on our Facebook wall!

Says the super crafty Newtonite, Stefanie: This was my wedding cake! My husband and I are training for the Marathon des Sables 2013 in Africa. We both love Newton’s so much that they did our wedding cake after one.

This isn’t the first time that our fans have taken to baking their loyalty. A fan name Nicole baked this cake for one of their friend’s birthdays who was running the Boston Marathon!

Have you made something amazing to show your Newton love (baked or unbaked)? Send it to us!

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Tim Berkel talks Ironman 70.3 Japan 2012

Posted by on Thursday, July 5, 2012 @ 2:57 pm | Leave a reply

This year’s Ironman 70.3 Japan came down to the wire with two amazing athletes. One, former World Champion, Chris “Macca” McCormack, who’s been at the top of the food chain in triathlon for a long time. The other, Newton pro triathlete and young gun, Tim Berkel.

In this video, Tim gives a bit of the inside scoop on the 2012 Ironman 70.3 Japan!

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Breathe Like a Singer!

Posted by on Monday, July 2, 2012 @ 2:57 pm | Leave a reply

Christopher Holloway is a classically trained professional opera singer and musical theater performer from Tampa, Florida.  In addition to performing, Christopher is also a private voice teacher with a Master’s Degree in Opera from Rice University.  He has been running for three years, and he made the switch to Natural Running and Newton in February of 2012.

Not surprisingly, when I tell people that I am an opera singer, voice teacher, triathlete, and runner, they look at me like as if I am an alien…  “Wow, I thought you’d be a little less, uh, FIT!..” hahah!  Singing is definitely an athletic activity, and I really believe that my knowledge of proper breathing techniques helps my running tremendously. 

In the past six months of running in Newtons shoes, the Natural Running technique has been a process that I have really enjoyed studying and implementing.   I am one of those success stories that are coming out about amateur runners moving to a zero or minimal drop shoe after experiencing extreme muscle and soft tissue pain in shoes with much greater drop from heel to forefoot (14mm drop in my shoes during training for my first marathon last November..it was AGONY!).  As I continue to get stronger, more efficient, and faster (and running without soreness or pain),  I am finding that proper breath is just as crucial as  the forward lean, landing on the lugs or flat footed, letting the heel settle, and lifting the legs from the core all at 180 strides per minute. You can have the most efficient and perfect footstrike in the world, but if your shoulders are up around your ears or if you are flexing your abdominals around your ribcage during inhalation or exhalation, you are going to be susceptible to a whole host of issues while running, especially with any speed or distance.

How does breathing in an efficient and relaxed way assist us in training and in racing?  The freer and more relaxed the breath is, the more efficiently you are going to be able to oxygenate the blood, and you will be able to take in more breath without wasting energy while running. 

Many will say, “But, Natural Running calls me to engage my core…like this (flexes abdomen revealing a stunning six pack of abs).”  Well, guess what?  Yes, we must engage the core, but we have to know WHICH muscles support the body and those which help us move more air in and out effectively.  The core of your body according to yoga and eastern religion is a few inches below your navel and 2-3 inches inward.  This means that we are to engage the lower abdominal muscles to hold ourselves upright not by flexing the abs!  It is definitely possible to engage the lower abs or core while relaxing the rest.  It is the same with classical singing and being able to make sounds without the need for amplification. The power comes from engaging the LOWER abdominals and compressing the air on exhalation.  Just as in regular life, when you speak, you don’t need to take much breath to make sound—when singing opera, the singer must inhale and exhale more air than “normal” humans take in.  Along the same lines, when we run we must take in and exhale much more air than when we walk. There is a lot of power in the breath. 

So let’s break down what happens when we breathe.  Just for reference sake, the diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that at rest is below the ribcage and the lungs.  On proper inhalation, the lungs fill completely as a result of relaxed abdominal muscles (including the diaphragm).  In classical and in proper technical singing, this movement of air is punctuated by an engaging or expanding of the lower abdominal muscles to keep the abdomen and ribcage from collapsing during exhalation.  The only difference between classical singing breath and proper breath during running is the AMOUNT of engagement and lean out of the lower abs and the velocity of air that is exhaled (the air during singing is much more compressed, and the muscles of the abdomen don’t move as quickly back to their original position with empty lungs.  While running, airflow should be constant, and the diaphragm should be constantly moving). 

Okay, so now we know what happens when we breathe properly.  Let’s explore some exercises. 

One of the best ways to try this type of relaxed/easy breathing is by lying on your back and just breathing deeply through relaxed throat muscles as if you are yawning.  If you focus on relaxing the abdominals during the breath, you will see the diaphragm and the abdomen rise and fall, and your shoulders will not rise up and become tense.  Try to fill your lungs completely. Exhale completely. Notice the movement of the abdominals. I would also suggest that you try to inhale and exhale through BOTH your mouth and nose.

Inhale over 4 counts of approximately a cadence of 180 beats per minute, hold for 4 counts, then exhale over 4 counts.  Really move that air with the diaphragm, especially on the exhalation.

 To incorporate into your Natural Running form: Breathe in through your nose and mouth.   Expand the abdomen during the inhalation and do not flex.  Your lungs have reached capacity.  Now exhale, and at the same time try to pull the diaphragm and move the expanded musculature up and inward until the next breath is necessary (air often just falls in at the end of an exhalation as long as your abdominals are relaxed!!).  With the lower abdomen below the navel engaged or expanded but with the rest of the abs released you are going to feel extremely fat while implementing this technique.  This is inevitable and OKAY!  Vanity must go out the window!  You may not look as killer in that new racerback halter top or shirtless (for the guys out there) but you sure are going to be using the air more efficiently.  Forget about how you look; focus on how you breathe.  The low engagement of the “core” keeps the pelvis level from front to back, which is hugely important, but flexing the abs does nothing but waste valuable energy.

Running cadence should be 180 strides a minute (again, if you are running in the 5:00’s or 12:00’s it’s the same), so, 4 strides breathe in, 4 strides breathe out is ideal for the breath.  If you can inhale more that is wonderful–just make sure that the inhalation is the same duration as the exhalation (same is true for speedwork/racing—you may only get 2 strides in and two out). 

As is true of natural running technique, it will take some coordination and adjustment to master this kind of breath because along the same lines as heel striking goes against how we were born to run, tight abdominals and constricted breath have become the norm how we breathe because we mostly use our abs to hold ourselves upright. 

Add this focus on the breath to your Natural Running practice and implementation on the road or trail, and you will notice a significant change.  I sing better because of my running, and you can bet that I run better because of my singing!!!! #HelloBetter!

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Race Report: Rachel Joyce, Ironman 70.3 Kansas

Posted by on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 @ 10:31 am | Leave a reply

It’s been two weeks since Kansas 70.3 so this blog is way overdue. In fact there’s been so many races on the triathlon circuit and quite a few more miles in my legs, that it feels more than two weeks ago. My trip to Lawrence was short and sweet and I had a great time during my stay. In a large part this was due to my wonderful home-stay, Laura (and her husband Jeff who was away for the weekend but crucially made it back in time for celebratory margaritas after the race), and to race director, Ryan and his huge team of volunteers who put on a professional but super friendly and relaxed race.

Going into the race I felt pretty uncertain as to what to expect from myself. Since moving to Boulder at the end of April my training had been up and down. Knocked out with an infection, it took me a while to acclimate to the altitude and then just as I was getting into the swing of training I strained a ligament in my back which basically had me out of action 10 days before Kansas. I felt like I was missing the consistency I usually draw confidence from going into a race, but having already had to pull Florida 70.3 from my schedule I was going to make it to Kansas start line whatever so I spent much of that week in and out of physio, chiropractor and massage appointments. I had to race to try and pay off my medical bills. A strained ligament doesn’t repair over night but come race week I was moving much more easily and bagging some good sessions during my “inverse” taper. I’d almost put all thoughts of my bumpy prep into the race out of mind until I listened to a message from my coach, Matt telling me that I should forget all the training I’ve missed. Doh! So, what do I then do but remember … Luckily I’m quite good at the amnesia game!

Race morning arrived and everything went pretty smoothly. I was pleased to hear that the swim would be non-wetsuit, and a quick look at the lake showed it was going to be a bumpy swim too. Watching the men head out and soon spread out in all directions I figured it would be pretty hard to find feet (and by feet I mean Amanda Stevens’s super speedy feet!) So, I enjoyed the bumpy lumpy swim and got to enjoy longer than normal in the water for 1.9km. Onto the bike, the Kansas course was my cup of tea. Undulating, windy and nice and warm to boot. I caught Amanda, who had a 1 plus minute lead from the swim, at about the 15 mile mark. I felt pretty good and pushed on. I was using a disc, thank you Shimano, for the first time and it felt fast especially when the wind caught it at the right angle and it felt like a sail: pushing me on. In the latter part of the bike I could definitely feel it was heating up….the run was going to be fun!

Heat I was happy to deal with, I was less certain as to how my back would feel after 90km in the aero bars. I’d used the hills to get out the saddle and stretch things out a bit so I was optimistic. Heading out of T2 I had the usual heavy leg feel but from my first couple of mile splits I could see I was running pretty well…maybe too fast: i didn’t want to blow up. I had a few guys in front of me so I used the out and backs to try and keep pace with them. There was a particularly cruel hill with no shade that I felt like I was crawling up! Luckily round the corner there was the aid station where Laura and her friends were volunteering and their cheers pepped me up.

With temperatures of 90 degrees plus, running down the yellow brick road to be greeted by Dorothy and the full Wizard of Oz crew was a good sight. My first race since touching down in Boulder and my first 70.3 win. I like Kansas …even more so when I discovered that the post race food included pulled pork rolls.

As always, lots of thank yous. To all my sponsors for kitting me out with the best kit: Cervelo, Newton, Aquasphere, Shimano, PowerBar, XLabs, ISM and Biestmilch. My fabulous home-stay hostess, Laura and to Ryan and the volunteers for putting on a great race. To my support crew scattered far and wide: coach MD, family and friends (you know who you are) who’ve put up with rather an up and down past 2 months!

Next up is Challenge Roth – which I am pretty darned excited to be racing. I’ll keep you posted on adventures in Germany!

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