Category Archives: Testimonials

Fan of the Week: Jason Dodge

Posted by on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 @ 8:00 am | Leave a reply

jjdposter resized 600I confess that I am drawn to expensive and shiny things—like the Newton shoe, which I first saw at the 2010 Chicago Marathon Expo. I told myself I had to get serious about this running business before I paid that kind of money; my $50 Asics would serve me just fine and not set me back too much if they became lawn mowing shoes the following spring if I gave up on running the way most people do after they buy a treadmill. The next day Sammy Wanjiru defended his title to run 2:06 in hot conditions that dropped my one of my best friends at mile 25 with life-threatening heatstroke.

And yet it wasn’t until November when that same friend went on to run the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, as I hobbled to strategic sighting points with his wife to see him run, that I thought about Newtons through my clenched teeth and sharp knee pain. I had only been running for 8 weeks, and I already had an injury that hurt to walk. Classic knee pain caused by poor running form and high ramp angled shoes. It wasn’t too long before I was trying embarrassingly to run midfoot (in reality stabbing/toeing the ground improperly) in my $50 Asics that seriously started to research the Newton shoe.

I bought my first pair of Newtons less than a month later on November 26, 2010, and after156563 10100673276565219 1765554077 n resized 600 815+ miles still have them in my rotation of about a dozen pairs. My Asics did end up making great lawn mowing shoes, and I now consider myself serious about running. I can’t say that I have been injury free, but I can say I have been highly injury resistant even after doubling my mileage from last year to just under 2500 miles this year. The Newton shoe, along with Running Form Friday videos, form drills, and strength training have helped to make me a better, more injury resistant, runner.

I pride myself on a pretty decent stride, but good running form is not something we achieve but rather something we struggle—to a greater or lesser extent—to maintain, from step to step, run to run, and from training cycle to training cycle.

-Jason

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Testimonial: Logan’s Heroes

Posted by on Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 11:45 am | Leave a reply

We just got this fantastic testimonial from Newton fan, Logan. Every time we get one of these it really makes our day and we’ve got to share it!

I started wearing Newtons back in May 2012. I worked for a speciality running store in Savannah, GA and I have always been curious about the Newton shoes. I have been in avid runner for 15 years, ran in college and after school started running marathons. For those 15 years of running I have been a Mizuno person. If you tired to switch me into another brand I would tell you NO! In November 2011 I ran a marathon and felt fine during the race but the next morning had this terrible left knee pain I have never felt before. I took some time off and thought my knee would get better, boy was I wrong! I battled through this pain for 5 miserable months, trying anything and everything. We started carrying Newton shoe’s in May and after Stephen Pifer had come and spoke to our staff about the shoes I thought might as well try a pair. This was the best decision I have made in my running career! WOW! I started with the Newton Motion and instantly loved the shoe on my first run. It took no time to transition into the shoe. From the first step it felt as if I have been missing out on running for all these years. Every time I would go for a run it was better each time. From 5 months previous I was dreading getting out the door. I started to wear the Distance S which works really well for me. I was letting you know that your shoes are amazing and have put me back into training like my college days. Your reps are very wise when it comes to the shoe! Still no knee pain! Keep doing what you do!

Thanks, Logan

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Andrea’s Final Countdown

Posted by on Friday, October 5, 2012 @ 9:36 am | Leave a reply

Time flies much faster than I can run, and now my half marathon is, as I write this, a mere 6 days away! This is the first time I’ve really put a lot of effort into preparing for a race. I’ve always trained (and by training, I mean running a few times a week with no prescribed schedule) and each time I’ve managed to pull off a respectable, middle of the pack finishing time. But it was always a huge struggle to finish each race, and I always ran the last quarter feeling depleted and too exhausted to enjoy the finish. But this race is different. I want this race to be BETTER! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m really not expecting a PR in this race, but I am expecting to run a BETTER race. I expect to run mindfully, maintaining good form. I expect to run a negative split, paying attention to my pace and how my body feels.  Although a half marathon is difficult, I expect to finish without a struggle, and with enough energy to enjoy the race, and savor my finish (not to mention my post-race brunch!)

I’ve already talked about how I’ve been training for this race with a combination of speed work and distance runs. I am confident that my endurance has increased dramatically since I began incorporating speed work into my regime. If I’m able to pace myself well during the first half of the race, I will be able to draw on this power of endurance to run the last half strong, and pour on the speed in the last few kilometers.

Now that the race is less than a week away, my entire regime has changed dramatically. All the training guides and forums I’ve read agree on one thing: what you do the week before a race will have almost as significant an impact as what you do in the weeks and months of training. With this idea in mind, I put a lot of thought into how to spend my last week in order to make this race better than any that came before.

THE TAPER:  I started tapering last week. My longest distance run, 18 km, was last Monday. It felt good, and I wanted to do another one this weekend, but I resisted the temptation and spent a day with my much neglected road bike instead. I ran my speed workout in a lower pace group. It was still challenging, but it didn’t reduce me to my usual quivering, sweat soaked state of collapse. Yesterday’s work out was an intense (VERY intense) session of hill repeats that left me feeling limp, but confident. That was my last hard session, and I went full out, but kept it short. I plan to fit in a relatively short tempo session on Wednesday or Thursday, mainly to maintain a good sense of pace, and to keep myself sharp.  Friday will be a rest day, with, at most, a brisk walk at lunch to keep the blood moving, and Saturday evening will include a 2-3 km easy run to keep my muscles warm, loosen everything up, and calm my nerves. Many training programs advise a longer period of tapering, especially when training for a full marathon. Unfortunately, because my training season was cut short, I simply didn’t have time for a longer taper. My main concern and objective is simply to be warm and limber, but also well rested and ready to run hard.

Andrea's Hill

EATING (and eating and eating):  I’ve read a LOT of conflicting information on carbo loading leading up to a race or long run, and everyone seems to have a differing opinion. Some advise not to bother carbo loading at all. Some say you should eat as per usual for the last week, and only carbo load the day before the race. Others recommend increasing carb intake by a significant amount for the entire week leading up to the race. Not being an athletic trainer or a nutritionist, I’m really not qualified to venture an opinion this subject.  As with most aspects of my training, I’ve done what feels best for me. For the most part, I tend to follow a relatively low calorie, balanced diet. Most of my meals are pretty light, and I tend to eat frequently. This week, I’ve continued to eat frequently, but increased the amount I intake during each meal. I’m still taking in plenty of protein and veg, but I’m eating a lot more carbs than is normal for me. I’m not eating more than I feel is healthy, or more than is comfortable. My aim is to feel full and satisfied, and give myself enough energy to fall back on during my run. I’ll also admit that I love to eat, and carbo loading is a great excuse to do so with relative abandon. Favorite meals include whole grain bagels with cream cheese, yogurt with berries, honey and oats, kamut pasta with tomato sauce, and open face beef fajitas with low fat refried beans. I’m going to enjoy it all while I can!

Sleep: As much as possible. That’s all I have to say about that.

The Mental Side: For me, running is at least 50% mental. I like to prepare myself mentally for a long run at least a day ahead. I decide ahead of time that I’m going to run a certain distance, visualize the route, how I’m going to feel at certain stages, and how i will overcome any challenges such as fatigue, boredom or bad weather. If I have any doubts in my mind when I start out, they seem to magnify as I go along, and can actually derail my run. It’s crucial for my performance that I BELIEVE my run is going to go well, and I really have to focus on maintaining this belief leading up to the run. I’ve spent this week focusing on building and maintaining confidence in my endurance, and an optimistic and positive outlook, which can be challenging when you’re tired, sore, crabby and anxious. I visualize the excitement of lining up in the corral with hundreds of other runners, that amazing moment when I find my pace, slip into my stride, and become one with the pavement. Most of all, I visualize that magic moment when I cross the finish line, beat up and exhausted, but in possession of a personal triumph that no one can ever take away from me. Oh, and of course I visualize the delicious, ridiculously oversized brunch that I insist will be waiting for me after my triumphant finish!

When my energy really starts to flag during a long distance, I find it extremely helpful to have a mantra to repeat over and over. Just a few positive words that I need to remind myself of, and that I can focus on to the exclusion of everything else. For this race, I’m going to go with “I’m ready, I’m strong, I can, I will”. Cheesy? Perhaps. Effective? For me, most definitely.

Everything else: Logistically, there are a thousand tiny details that go into preparing for a run in another city. What to pack, what to wear on race day, transportation, picking up the race package, what to eat before the race, where to meet friends and family after the finish line, and NOT forgetting your running shoes (as I managed to do for my first half marathon). My philosophy regarding logistics is simple. Prepare as much as you can as far ahead as possible. Then stop worrying, because the rest will fall into place eventually. And so far, it always has!

In the end, only time will tell if all of this preparation will prove to be beneficial. My methods are far from scientific. Some of it may help, some may have little to no impact. However, despite the fact that I anticipate a slower finishing time than my last half marathon, I know deep down that this race will be better, because I’ve done what I need to do to achieve the goal I set for this race; to run a strong half marathon, and enjoy every second of the experience.

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The Romance of Running

Posted by on Monday, October 1, 2012 @ 9:24 am | Leave a reply

Continuing our series for 60 Days of Better, Robbie tries to get to the bottom of his recently found love of running.

 

There is something beautiful about running.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Maybe…

…it’s knowing that I am doing something that very few people can.  I don’t know a lot of people that can run 10 miles (like I did this past weekend).  When I was done I felt like Rocky at the top of the stairs in Philly, I had the Eye of the Tiger, I couldn’t be beat!  This attitude spills into other areas of my life.  Running makes me want to tackle my dreams.  Running makes me feel alive.  Running is empowering.

…it’s knowing that people are driving by me while I am running and I am making them think about their own life.  I wonder, are they thinking, “Hey, there’s a fat guy who is just running!  Maybe I can run and my life could be better”.  Running is inspiring.

…it’s the minutes or hours that I get to spend by myself while on a run, just me and my thoughts.  I can think about who I am and who I want to be.  I can make decisions and set goals.   I can think about difficult conversations that I need to have with people.  And thinking about important things in life while your body is producing those good endorphins during running helps you make really positive decisions.  Running brings clarity.

…it’s crossing paths with other runners also in the middle of their run.  There’s a moment of camaraderie when two people run past each other and there is that second of eye contact when both of us acknowledge to each other, “Yeah, we are getting it done!”  Or, when the obviously more seasoned runner gives the fat guy runner a high five and an immense amount of confidence (which happened to me during one of my first road runs), running brings people together.

…it’s giving me something to work for.  I signed up for a 5k race earlier this year.  I had never run that far before, but I paid my money and I was going to do it if it killed me (when you’ve never run before, you think running 3.1 miles will kill you! lol).  I ran it.  After I got over my injury, I knew what I wanted to do, so I paid for the 2013 Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach.  No, I hadn’t run a half marathon yet, but a half was not my goal.  I will obviously run a half while I am training for the full marathon, but I will run the Shamrock next year.  I am already on pace to run a half marathon race this November.  Who knows what I will do after those races, maybe Ironman?!  Running gives me something to work for.

…it’s the fact that running hurts so good!  After a long training run, usually a PR, I head straight for an ice bath which is not an easy thing to endure (but totally worth it!).  I know that for the rest of the day my legs are going to be stiff and sore.  After a night’s rest, the next day soreness wears off and I will feel good, ready to tackle the road again, and after a few runs, an even longer distance or speed.  Running makes me stronger.

…it’s that fact that running is a great outlet.  I can recall a few times where I went running just to get away.  Maybe I was frustrated about something or maybe I was really struggling with food cravings.  Running is a great place to just vent and release your stress and frustration that living in this crazy world can bring.  Running makes me calm.

…it’s the fact that running can be hard.  It’s difficult to start running.  I was way out of shape and had no idea how to run which led to injuries and frustration.  Sticking with it and figuring it out has led me to great personal victories.  There’s something about failing at something, but sticking with it long enough to finally beat it.  Running builds character.

Maybe…what makes running beautiful is a collection of all these things.  I hear a lot of people refer to running as a chore and I just don’t get it.  Running has become so much more than a means to an end for me.  Running tells me who I am and that there is a lot of life left to live.  So, for me, running is a beautiful thing.

As of October 1st, my Newton's have 99 beautiful miles on them.

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Andrea’s Need For Speed

Posted by on Thursday, September 27, 2012 @ 8:56 am | Leave a reply

I will fully and happily admit that I’ve never been a technical runner. I’ve never owned a Garmin, never run intervals or tempos, never had a training plan, and never really cared about pace and time. I’ll also admit that in some ways, I’m a bit of a lazy runner. I’ve never really been one to push myself, other than when it comes to increasing my distance. To me, it always seemed a reasonable assumption that if I kept upping my distance, and putting in the miles with consistency, I would eventually become a better and faster runner. To a certain extent, this assumption is not completely off base. As a running neophyte, you need to focus on creating a foundation of endurance to build upon. However, when you find your self lingering in a comfort zone for too long, at a certain point you have to either start pushing yourself, or face that fact that your performance is simply not going to improve.

2012-09-24 18.13.281Injuries aside, I’ve been running in the comfort zone for an embarrassingly long time. I’ve developed a pace that is comfortable for me, feels great, and allows me to complete my long distance runs without exerting undue amounts of energy. But over the summer, I became increasingly aware that I’d come as far as I could without finding a way to push myself. With two half marathons on the horizon, I also realized I needed the structure of a training plan. Not being exceptionally good at planning, organizing and implementing any kind of a scheduled routine, or motivating myself to try anything outside of my routine, I decided my best course of action would be to enroll in a training clinic. I spent a good amount of time researching and considering my options. Some clinics I found were simply too technical for my level of interest, throwing around jargon like “threshold” and “zone”. Some were simply an increasingly long run once a week, and I balked at the idea of paying money to do what I was already doing on my own. When I stumbled upon the Forerunner’s summer clinic, I knew I’d found exactly what I was looking for, and I knew it was going to hurt. In a good way.

The Forerunner’s clinic offered a full training plan; every week included a group speed session, a group long run, and one or two guided “homework” runs to be completed on your own time. I decided to forgo the weekly distance group runs, as I prefer to complete my long runs solo, and don’t feel like I require either guidance or additional motivation to do so. The weekly speed session was what I most needed to incorporate into my training, and something I didn’t feel I could accomplish on my own. I can say, without reservation, that the Forerunner’s clinic is the best thing that has happened to my running since I discovered Newtons!

The first session was horrific, commencing with a 2 kilometer run uphill. We did some running drills, then proceeded on to 800 meter repeats at 25% more than 10k pace. I ran in the 60-65 minute 10k pace group, which also happened to be the slowest group, and I was certainly nowhere near the front of the pack. I struggled to keep up with my group members, and by the end of the last 800 meters, I was more exhausted than I had been after my last half marathon. I was defeated and discouraged, and pretty sure I wasn’t going to repeat that exercise in humiliation the next week. I dragged myself home, and after a soak in an ice bath, found myself recounting the excruciating details of this torture session to my roommate. “Wow,” she said, “it sounds like you really pushed yourself hard!” And with those words came clarity. Yes, I HAD pushed myself hard to complete the session (although admittedly out of a perverse refusal to be the slowest in the group). It had been unpleasant, difficult, and strenuous, and that’s everything a speed workout is supposed to be! It’s not supposed to be comfortable like a distance pace, and it’s certainly not supposed to feel easy. The point of a speed workout is to go hard for a short amount of time, and push yourself to the outer limits of your endurance. You should feel utter exhaustion when you finish, because you should give everything you have. If it feels easy or comfortable, then you’re doing it wrong.

So i went back the next week,and the week after, and after a few sessions I was hooked. Every session was different. Hill repeats, 200 meter progressions, pyramids, mile time trials. Each workout presented me with a unique set of challenges, forcing me to adapt and push myself in different ways. Each workout left me feeling wrung out and decimated and, paradoxically, energized and elated. There’s really no feeling on earth like pushing yourself up to and beyond your limits, then enjoying the well-earned exhaustion that follows such an effort. Most satisfying of all were the improvements I began to see in my running. My endurance increased rapidly and my recovery time decreased. Having become more aware of how my body feels at different speeds, I learned how to pace my runs in order to finish in a certain time or run a negative split. And yes, my speed began to increase, slowly but steadily.

Fortunately for me, Forerunner’s also offers a fall clinic which conveniently leads up to my second half marathon, the Fall Classic. By the end of the summer clinic, I had moved up a pace group.Three weeks into the fall clinic, I feel ready to move up another pace group, and the speed workouts are starting to come more naturally to me. Due to the injuries I’m still working to recover from, I haven’t been able to train for this half as long or as hard as I would have liked. My longest distance run this season was just shy of 18 km, and I had to begin tapering this week. I’m certainly not expecting to produce a PR this time around. However, due to how hard I’ve been able to push myself in my speed workouts, I feel more prepared for this race than for any event I’ve run to date. I have confidence in my endurance, my ability to pace myself for a faster second half, and my capacity to dig deep when my energy begins to flag in order to push past my limits and finish strong.

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How Newton Saved Me!

Posted by on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 9:26 am | Leave a reply

The stars had finally aligned for me. Everything was falling into place. After all these years of desperately trying to get healthy it was finally happening. I had figured out a great food plan and I was running 3, 4, even 5 times a week, up to 3 miles at a time! My weight was decreasing at an incredibly high rate. Life was great!

Then it started. It was subtle at first; a little soreness on the back of my right leg in the area behind my knee. I didn’t think much about it. I was on the road to being healthy and nothing was going to stop me! I began to notice the soreness a little more while I ran and a lot when I wasn’t running, especially when I was stationary for a while, like sitting at my desk at work for a few hours at a time. I tried stretching a few different ways but the soreness would not go away and was getting worse. It got to the point where it would be so tight after a run that I could barely walk, and certainly couldn’t walk without a limp. I was now officially worried. I was only a few pounds away from reaching 100lbs lost; I did not need anything slowing me down. I bought a wrap-around ice pack for my leg from Amazon and began using that in between my runs. It seemed to help some but the runs were still a struggle. One day I weighed and I was at 99lbs lost. I was determined to make that day the day I reached my 100lbs lost goal.  I was so excited. I went out to run and it hurt so badly after about three quarters of a mile I turned around and went home. I weighed in hopes that run pushed me over the edge, but I was still a half pound away. At this point, I was reaching my goal right then and there. I started doing a bunch of sets of pushups, crunches, and jumping jacks. After about 20 minutes and several weigh-ins I hit my goal! I had lost 100lbs. Even typing that last sentence brings tears to my eyes. I had battled so long and I had finally made a massive dent in my weight loss goal. I yelled it to my wife and kids in the house. They cheered for me. It was a landmark moment in my life.

My joy was somewhat diminished by the fact that my leg was absolutely killing me and I had no idea why. I searched the internet (like we all do) to see if I could find a diagnosis. There were a million things people said it could be. Most people said I was overtraining, which I didn’t think I was because I had slowly built up my mileage over a long period of time. I decided I would just rest it for a week and hoped it would feel better.

Reaching the 100lbs milestone was huge and took about 8 months after I started my diet plan.  For the next week I would just celebrate my success. To a food addict, celebrating means eating! I was just sure my leg would feel better in a week so I wasn’t too worried about gaining a couple of pounds back. I would just work that off in a couple of days. Well, after a week the leg didn’t feel much different, so I gave it another week with no running. After several weeks I thought it started to feel a little better so I tried running again. Immediately the soreness returned in full force and I was frustrated and depressed. When a food addict is frustrated and/or depressed, we eat. Obviously, since I wasn’t running or following my food plan (or any eating restriction whatsoever) I began to gain weight again.

After about a month I had enough. My leg was no better and I was gaining weight. The only thing I wanted to do was run and that was the only thing I couldn’t do. I was depressed and unmotivated. One day I remembered that an old friend of mine, Brandon, was a triathlete and he had just started a job at a running shoe company that I had never heard of. He noticed a while back on Facebook that I was doing some running and mentioned if I ever needed any advice that he’d try to help me out. Little did I know that he was planting the seed of the natural running gospel! I sent him a Facebook message explaining my plight in great detail.   His reply was eye-opening to say the least. Apparently, there is more to running than just lacing up your run-of-the-mill Nike’s and hitting the street (who knew?!). He offered thoughts, based on my description, of what he thought I had injured. Popliteal Tendonitis is what he said.  I had never heard of that before but it gave me something to Google. After a few minutes, seeing anatomy photos and reading about symptoms, I realized that was probably what I had injured.

What really blew my mind was his detailed description on how he said one could injure this tendon. Everything he described I was doing in my runs. I was over striding and landing on my heel. I was running around circles in my neighborhood while over striding (basically doing a lot of turning). And basically everything about my running technique was wrong.

At this point I had never had much thought about run technique. I had heard someone say something one time about landing mid foot which I had tried to develop unsuccessfully. Actually, doing so made my injury worse because I was trying to land mid foot while over striding in super heel-cushioned shoes (Nike Vomeros) causing even more strain on my leg.  Brandon advised me to check out some videos on You Tube about natural running form. These videos would change everything!

I learned so much from the videos. I was injured because I was running incorrectly the entire time; part of the blame goes to ignorance, the other part goes to my shoes. This was frustrating to learn but I was also excited to hopefully resolve this problem and get on with my weight loss and quest to become healthy. So Brandon and I talked back and forth about proper running form and what I needed to do to change my technique and get going again, which also led us to talk about shoes. He said I would need to get shoes that were designed for my new natural running form, a shoe that more closely resembled barefoot running. Since he worked for Newton you would think he would have been pushy about me getting Newtons, but he wasn’t at all. I asked him about the shoes and what made them so good. I had no reason to doubt their benefits and since he had helped me out so much with my form I thought the least I could do is to give Newton’s a try. I waited to get my Sir Isaacs in the mail before I started running again.

Once I got my Newtons I hit the pavement again. My injured leg was still quite sore at this point but I set out anyway to see if my new shoes and form made any difference. I felt like a fish out of water at first. I was running and trying to do all the things I had seen in the videos and what I had discussed with Brandon. Running naturally is basically doing these things: knees bent, good posture/head up, leaning forward at the ankles (not the waist), landing with your foot parallel to the ground, and having a high cadence (about 180 steps per minute). I kinda sorta was running naturally. My leg still hurt after my runs, but it wasn’t as bad as before so I thought it was at least progress. I had my wife record me running and sent it to Brandon so he could critique my form. He said I wasn’t leaning forward, but it otherwise looked pretty good. I just shook my head when I read that because I knew I was supposed to lean from my ankles. I went out again and again, every time determined to break my old running habits and get my body running efficiently and naturally. I would watch the You Tube videos over and over and practice in front of the microwave at work while my food was cooking! It was constantly on my mind.

Eventually my body adjusted to the new running style and I was on my way. I began to increase my mileage again for the first time in months. All the while, my injured leg was still sore but it wasn’t getting worse. It was actually slowly getting better, even though I was still running, but running naturally this time! I was amazed. The new form felt more natural every time I went out. It got to a point where I was thinking less and less about it when I ran and I was just able to run.

I didn’t try any other minimalist shoes because I saw no reason to do so. My Newtons felt fantastic with my new form. I thought the lugs would feel awkward but they just didn’t. Still being a heavy runner the extra cushion under my mid foot (where I was now landing) seemed right. The shoes fit like a glove and appeared to be as high a quality a shoe as I have ever worn. I love my Newtons and I can’t wait to transition to the Performance Line.

Today, I call myself a runner. It has been months since I had to stop running due to my injury and now I’m just killing it and losing weight again!  I now run 100% pain free and I’m pain free after my runs.  I’m probably about 95% healed from my leg injury (which healed all by itself while I was running properly). I now run naturally and it feels great and it gives me so much confidence knowing that I am not going to hurt myself. I am currently training for my first half-marathon and marathon. This past week I ran a personal best 8 miles and it felt amazing! I’m on pace in my training to run a half-marathon at the beginning of November and a marathon in March, and I have Brandon and Newton Running to thank for that.

Newton is not just in the business of selling shoes. They genuinely believe in natural running and the benefits running can have in your life. I lost 100lbs by running, but I am going to get and be healthy for the rest of my life because Newton taught me to run naturally, and I am going to have fun doing it!

scale100lbs

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Take that, adversity!

Posted by on Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 9:53 am | Leave a reply

If you are a runner, you know what it is to experience set-back. It’s inevitable. You feel great, and set out with optimism for a long run, only to have an injury flare up and stop you in your tracks after only a few km. Or you push yourself too hard with speed or distance and end up needing to take a week off. Or your really injure yourself, your training gets derailed, and you find yourself far short of your goals for the season, which is how my year has played out.

My favorite view from my favorite section of my favorite route.

As I discussed in my last post, I spent my spring and summer struggling with shin splints and foot pain as a result of improper foot wear. These injuries proved to be the undoing of my training plan, and a serious setback to my distance goals from the year. I ran my second half marathon in the spring, before my injuries had become too serious. The race went well, and I managed to shave 10 minutes off my previous time. Filled with the optimism that inevitably accompanies a successful run, I immediately registered in the Victoria Marathon, which gave me 5 months to train. I sat down and devised a detailed training plan, and looked forward to a summer of gradually building up to my first marathon!

As the state of my legs and feet deteriorated, so did my running and my training plan. I couldn’t amass enough distance to improve, and couldn’t seem to break through the 10 km barrier. However, I remained optimistic, hoping that my problems would resolve themselves, and that I’d be able to salvage my training and run the marathon. It wasn’t until mid July, after 3 months of unsuccessful physio sessions that I completely surrendered all hope of completing the full marathon, and downgraded my registration to the half marathon. I was terribly disappointed, as I knew it would be quite some time before I had another chance to run a full marathon, and I’d really wanted this to be “my year”. But I was also realistic enough to realize that, in the shape I was in, I’d be lucky if I could even pull off completing a half marathon. And after all, is a half marathon really something to sneeze at? I think not! So I dusted off my injured pride, and set out to make the best of the situation. At the risk of sounding trite and slightly Erma Bombeckish, I’ve always believed that if you can squeeze something positive out of a bad situation, then you’ve really come out ahead.

So what are the positives I manage to extract from this situation?

1 . Knowledge. Because i was determined that this injury was not going to be the end of my running career, I began to research. I spent hours pouring over forums, sports medicine web pages, anatomy books, running books, and picking the brain of anyone who would talk to me about sports related injury. I learned a great deal about injuries, how to prevent them, and how to deal with them when they did happen. This research led me to discover many methods for speeding recovery and caring for an injury, such as compression sleeves, icing, foam rollers and taping. I learned the benefits of building core strength, and which areas of my body I should work to strengthen in order to circumvent injury. I researched shoes obsessively, and probably know more about the current footwear available, and which shoes are appropriate for which types of runners, than do the staff at most running stores.

2. Mindfulness. Finding my miracle shoes was really only half the battle. It’s a basic fact that your running shoes are only as good as your form. I never put a great deal of thought into my form until I started going to physio, and the therapist emphasized how important good form is to injury free running. While I’ve never been a heavy heel striker, I knew I had a great deal room to improve my form. I started reading about Chi Running, and other forms of “natural running”, which I believed would complement my new footwear. I spent many hours reading barefoot and natural running forums, and watched countless YouTube videos demonstrating a natural gait compatible with minimal footwear. I slowly incorporated these techniques into my running, and my runs began to improve steadily, both in terms of comfort and efficiency. Form is now at the forefront of my mind while I’m running. I am in a constant state mindfulness while I run; looking for pain, counting my cadence, checking my gait, making sure my core is engaged and my pelvis leveled, pulling my shoulders back and my head up, relaxing my arms, concentrating on landing softly on my mid foot. I am always aware of any little tweaks that might turn into something more serious. I know immediately if I need to pull back a bit, or if I can afford to push myself a little bit harder. I’m able to avoid losing my form at the end of a run when I’m really fatigued, which is the time when many runners start to get sloppy and inattentive. When I return from a hard run, I know immediately which areas of my body need the most post-run attention. This awareness has made me a much more efficient runner. My recovery time is much shorter than it used it used to be. I’m usually able to assess my pain and determine if it’s normal pain resulting from a hard workout, or something more serious that I need to really focus on. When you are able to listen to and interpret what your body is trying to tell you, you’ll be much less prone to injury.

3. Patience. This has been by far the most difficult lesson for me to learn with regard to running. My tendency has always been to run as far and as fast as I can before hitting the wall and collapsing. I’d always tried to increase my load as much as possible each week, assuming this was the only way to improve my endurance. If I had a bad run and couldn’t run as far as I had hoped, I’d be discouraged and feel like the run had been a waste of time. Well, nothing slows you down like an injury, and when you’ve been slowed down, you can respond in one of two ways. You can try to battle through the pain and push yourself even harder, which slows the healing process, puts you at risk of exacerbating your injuries, and can lead to new injuries. OR, you can be patient. You can focus on your injuries and what you can do to overcome them. You can start with short runs and back off when things start to hurt. I went with option number one for the first little while, until I realized that my injuries were getting worse and my running was not improving. This lesson instilled in me a more gradual and conservative approach to running. I’ve been building up my mileage very slowly, and backing off when I need to, especially now that my injuries are starting to improve. I’m no longer afraid to take a few days off if my legs feel tired, and I certainly don’t feel that a short run is a wasted run. I’ve started to accept that not every run is going to be stellar, and no longer feel discouraged if I can’t accomplish the distance I set out to run. Not only has my endurance improved with the arrival of this new, more relaxed attitude, but I find I enjoy running a great deal more when I’m not focused solely on pounding out a predetermined amount of kilometers. I now enjoy running for its own sake, for the experience of the run, the beauty of the scenery I’m moving through, and the way my body feels when it’s moving down the road. I know that if I keep working away at it, I’ll eventually arrive at my desired level of fitness, and I’ll be able to run a successful and enjoyable marathon. I’m aiming to reach my full marathon goal at the Vancouver Marathon in May. In the meantime, I have the Victoria half coming up on October 7th, and the Fall Classic half in November. I’m not anticipating a PR or particularly stellar time, but I intend to enjoy every minute of each race as well as the pain, sweat and joy of training.

So, as you can see, while my season did not go at all the way I’d planned, and I experienced a great deal of pain and frustration, I think I came out ahead in the bargain. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge and skills that will make me a much better runner in the long run. I’ve changed my running philosophy from focusing on putting in the miles, to running for running for the joy of running, and getting the most out of each session. I also get to enjoy that wonderfully smug feeling that comes when you’re able to benefit from a bad situation!

Andrea’s other posts:

Goodbye Limits: Meet Andrea
Andrea finds her shoes

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60 Days of Better: Daily Inspiration – Shirley T.

Posted by on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 2:36 pm | Leave a reply

When 60 Days of Better began we had planned to have your inspirational stories here and there in our line up. However, we’ve gotten so many stories from those of you who’s lives have been changed that we’ve decided to make them an almost daily occurrence! This email is from Shirley.

Hi Guys,

After many years of abdominal illness and surgery which led to weight gain, I tripped & broke my ankle. Again, more surgery and my surgeon told me I’d never run or become a runner. That’s all I needed to hear to take up running!

My 1st race was a 12k city2surf run, exactly 12 months ago. I had all sorts of pain, but I did it…. I was hooked, even with pain I felt a better and healthier me. I found your runners on the net & a local triathlon store stocked them, so, I bought my first pair of Newtons…….NO PAIN!……. I took up triathlon & completed many sprint distances, one of which was on my 40th birthday! Now, totally in love with my ‘mid-life crisis’ I bought more Newtons…….a girl can never have enough footwear! I’ve lost 26kgs (57.2 lbs) from my running and training.

Last week I ran the Perth city2surf half marathon to celebrate my first year running pain free. I’m running a 15 miler in 3 weeks & I’ve signed up for a 70.3 in Jan 2013. I run about 20-30km a week….not bad for someone who was told they would never run! Hello Better…..

Thank you,

Shirley T.

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How Did Robbie Lose 100 Lbs.? (Part 2)

Posted by on Monday, September 17, 2012 @ 8:46 am | Leave a reply

While I have really enjoyed the fitness aspect of getting healthy, seeing my progress and accomplishments, I must say that the food part is a daily WWIII.

As I stated, I am a food addict.  Yes, an addict, like a crack head!  Like someone addicted to a drug must have their hit or they go crazy, I too must have my hit (at least that’s what my body tries to tell me).  Please understand, I am no doctor or scientist and I have never taken an illicit drug, so I am only speaking from my limited understanding.  I can’t tell you if it’s just my emotions or if there is an actual chemical imbalance going on.  All I can say is that the urge or the draw to eat poorly is ridiculously strong in me.  I KNOW what I should eat, but eating something high in fat, salt, or sugar just feels so good and calming to me, even if it is only for a short time.  And oftentimes, it’s a snowball effect, and things get out of control quickly, sometimes for weeks at a time.

Here is my problem.  The actual drug addict does not need his drug of choice to live.  He may need to be weaned off that drug slowly so that addiction does not kill him, but generally speaking, an addict can be weaned from the drug and never take it again and be just fine.  A food addict cannot give up food.  We humans, as you know, must have food to live.  I have to eat something, and I have to make a decision of what I am going to eat several times a day, every day, for the rest of my life.  I am not saying I have it as bad as an actual drug addict (my withdrawal is certainly not as painful), but I feel I can relate to one. I have to constantly see my drug and make a good decision.   This has made getting healthy incredibly difficult.

Which leads me to what people want to know, what did I eat to lose 100 lbs.?  It’s actually pretty simple.  I ate about 1200 calories a day.  The trick was that I ate the exact same food basically every single day.  I wasn’t actually writing down what I was eating and counting up calories for every meal (that process is such a hassle).  I figured out a breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner that amounted to about 1200 calories a day and ate those exact meals every single day. Here is what I started with:

Breakfast – 375 total calories

Half of a whole wheat bagel – 135 calories
Peanut Butter (1tbsp) – 100 calories
Banana (small) – 60 calories
Skim Milk (1 cup) – 80 calories

Lunch – 424 total calories

Skinless Chicken Leg Quarter (about 3.5 ounces) – 138 calories
Canned vegetable – 120 calories
Sourdough Square Bread (1 slice, toasted) – 130 calories
Pat of butter – 36 calories

Snack – 140 total calories

Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso – 140 calories

Dinner – 260 total calories

Bag of Popcorn – 260 calories (Boy Scout Popcorn, http://tinyurl.com/8o8tys3)

Day Total – 1206 calories (give or take, based on actual serving sizes)

This worked really well for me.  I was never hungry until it was about time to eat again, and I got to eat things I thought tasted pretty good.  We would make the lunch once or twice a week so I didn’t have to prepare something complicated every day.  We just packed a bunch in plastic containers in the fridge and I would grab one when I needed it.  This plan did allow for flexibility.  If I wanted to eat dessert or whatever I would just adjust my meals accordingly.  Change was rare; for the most part I really stuck to the plan.

I followed this plan for a while and lost a lot of weight.  At some point, I decided that I could do better.  I thought I needed the food to be healthier.  I just thought I could do something with a little more balance.  This is what I eat now:

Homemade Broccoli Chicken Alfredo- 240 calories (Sauce Recipe, used sparingly, allrecipes.com: http://tinyurl.com/9xtvtr8)

3 M&M’s- 9 calories (I eat these slowly and savor them!)

I eat that meal every three hours like clockwork.  Generally, we make about 20 servings at a time, paying very close attention to serving sizes, and store them in plastic containers in the fridge.  I don’t have to count calories all day and I don’t eat within about 2 hours of going to bed.  If I eat out somewhere I pull the restaurant’s nutrition information up on my phone and find something that’s about 250 calories. I also only drink Vitamin Water Zero.  It has no calories and it’s sweetened naturally with Stevia (you get used to the taste; I actually love it now!).

I also don’t plan a cheat day anymore.  I would just gorge myself on that day, feel terrible after, and gain several pounds back.  It’s so not worth it.  I just cheat every now and then, when it seems appropriate, like at a birthday party.  Sometimes I will treat myself to a good meal, like a burger, when I feel like I’ve been doing really well.

By the way, I generally don’t eat the calories I burn when I run.  Meaning, I don’t say, “Hey, I burned 800 calories running today, so I can go eat 3 slices of pizza”!  I hear a lot of people saying they do that and I think they are just crazy.  They are just cheating themselves and canceling out their hard work.  I will, however, do it on days when I treat myself.  I generally won’t cheat unless I have run for that day.  99% of the time, when I say I ate 1200 calories, I ate 1200 calories.  I didn’t eat 2000 and ran off 800.  If you are just maintaining your weight, eating your burned calories is a brilliant idea.  For those trying to lose weight, it makes no sense.

When I changed my plan the weight began to just fall off!  The more balanced meal really kept my metabolism working all day long.  When I started my plan, initially, I did feel hungry, and even had a headache the first couple of days (withdrawal?).  My body soon adjusted and I felt fantastic.  Eating healthy and running regularly enabled me to lose 100 lbs.  The keys for me were sticking with it long enough for my body to adjust, which took several weeks before I saw significant, consistent weight loss and paying close attention to actual serving sizes (we used a food scale).

The sad part is that I am still an addict.  I still fall off the wagon more often than I would like to confess.  I still battle with food on a constant basis every day.  And that is the kicker….I AM A FOOD ADDICT AND I LOST 100LBS!!!  I got through it.  I did it and am still doing it!  I may always have this turbulent relationship with food, but I made the decision that food will not own me and food will not decide who I am going to be.  And addiction isn’t always bad; I’m addicted to running now, too!

This is what I’m looking at every three hours (minus 3 M&M’s, of course). It’s yummy!

Robbie’s other posts:

Goodbye Limits: Meet Robbie
How Did Robbie Lose 100 Lbs.? (Part 1)

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60 Days of Better: Daily Inspiration – Nelson L.

Posted by on Thursday, September 13, 2012 @ 3:10 pm | Leave a reply

When 60 Days of Better began we had planned to have your inspirational stories here and there in our line up. However, we’ve gotten so many stories from those of you who’s lives have been changed that we’ve decided to make them an almost daily occurrence! This email is from Nelson.

I had IT band problems for 3 months and i couldn’t run at all, not even a mile. I was rehabbing it all the time: IT rolling, stretching and getting a weekly massage. After 3 months I thought i was better after a PT visit. I tried to run but couldn’t run more than 10 min without pain only 2 months before my Ragnar team. I figured if i ever try a minimal/natural running shoe with the adjoining gait this would be the time so I bought one. My first run in the minimal shoe I went the full lap around the lake, 3 miles, pain free. I tried the traditional shoes and mu knee hurt again, even with an attempted forefoot strike, but put he minimal shoes on the following day and got another lap pain-free. I have been pain free in the IT Band area, even though the slight swelling has not dissipated much, during my runs ever since.

My next pair will be a Newton Distance shoe.

Cheers!

Nelson L.

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