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Run Hard. Pray Hard: Danielle Duhon & The Boston Marathon

Posted by on Sunday, April 20, 2014 @ 5:41 am | Leave a reply

 “Run fast. Pray hard.” That’s Danielle Duhon’s running motto. It’s what got her to the Boston marathon in 2011 and what is taking her there again this year. “Boston is like the average runner’s Olympics,” she says.  “Running Boston in 2011 was one of the greatest running experiences I’ll ever have. The crowd support and the privilege of having qualified and getting to run that course, is something I’ll never take for granted.” She adds, “It was such a blessing and an honor to be there, even if I never qualified again.”

danielle-chairdivision2

            The 43-year-old has qualified for Boston every year since, but traveling for a race can be expensive. Not to mention she works the night shift as a nurse and has three young daughters, the oldest of whom is disabled. But this year, is different. “I didn’t go back in 2012 or 2013. The reason I’m going back this year is because of the events of last year. I decided it was important for me to go back and show my support for the city after the events of last year.”

Aside from running alongside the more than 35,660 participants who also are running Boston this year, she’s headed to the race with her sister and seven of her girlfriends. All of who qualified. “It’s amazing we all qualified and got in. I think it will be really special and an honor to run for the people who can’t run this year. For those who lost their lives and to say ‘thank you’ to the city.”

But Duhon hopes this won’t be her last time running Boston. She has another goal in mind for which she will rely on her motto again, as well as the words of triathlete, Jessie Thomas, “Your best performance can come in spite of your biggest doubts. Always give your self a chance to succeed.” Duhon would like to run Boston again pushing her 14-year-old daughter in her new running chair. “My oldest daughter is handicapped and we just raised money to buy her a pushchair. My goal is to qualify for the push chair division. I am small and she weighs more than me, so it will likely take me more than a year to get there. I think she would be ecstatic. She just waves like she is in a pageant when I push her in races. It will be a tough road, but my goal is to give her that experience, however long it takes me to get there.”

Danielle-Chairdivision

As she looks toward her next goal, and even her ensuing race, Duhon credits Newton for her ability to still run at all. When she first began to marathon train, she would get injured every time she increased her mileage—stress fractures, IT band issues, Achilles tendinitis—you name it, she had it. In March of 2009, she ran her first marathon in New Orleans in a time of 4:07. “I was injured again afterward and went in search of a new shoe.” That’s then she was fitted in the Newton Distance. That summer, she began to increase her mileage and remained injury free. In December 2009, she ran her second marathon in a time of 3:41, giving her the qualifying time for Boston. “Nine months later and 26 minutes off my time. What? The only thing I changed were my shoes.”

Fast forward to today and she’s gone through about 12 pairs of the Distance U and is headed to Boston for the second time. For the next few days, she’ll tuck away her thoughts on running it a third time with her daughter and try to just savor the moment—a change from the first time she ran Boston. “Last time I ran Boston, I wanted to run my fastest time and I didn’t enjoy the race as much as I would have liked, because I was looking at my watch and trying to PR. I missed my PR by 3 seconds and I came home disappointed.” She adds, “This time I promised myself I wouldn’t run for the time, but would enjoy myself more and soak up every single moment of this race. Especially with everything that happened there last year, we owe it to that crowd to enjoy every single second.” Then, she’ll get back to running fast and praying hard to make her next goal happen.

 

 

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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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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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Newton Running Wallpapers!

Posted by on Monday, September 17, 2012 @ 1:22 pm | Leave a reply

Many of you asked for them and here they are! Just save the image you want (with the appropriate screen resolution) and set it as your wallpaper/desktop background!

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

Posted by on @ 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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Retail Spotlight: DEKA

Posted by on Friday, September 14, 2012 @ 10:34 am | Leave a reply

During 60 Days of Better, not only are we trying to put Newtons on the feet of those who’ve not tried us yet, but we want to get you into our amazing network of retailers. One of Newtons biggest advocates and strongest retailers is DEKA. I had a chance to chat with owner and founder of DEKA, Jim Whitlow and it’s easy to see why DEKA is so successful and has now been able to expand its influence to a second location in Chicago. Jim’s passion is larger than anything that could ever fit on a page so be sure to visit DEKA if you’re near them in Atlanta or Chicago!

How did DEKA get its start?

Jim spent many years in fashion retail and saw an opportunity for something different and better. Noticing that women were spending a lot of time in workout clothing even when they were not going to or from a workout but just for everyday clothing, the idea began to take shape. The goal was to start a store that offered a different environment than women shopping for workout clothes were used to. Pushing aside the potential overwhelming and intimidating feel that a traditional running specialty shop can have, Jim wanted to create a more upscale and inviting experience. Not just leaving that feel to the merchandise, DEKA went all in with decor and ambience and created a one of a kind look and feel.

DEKA began as DEKA Athletics but soon dropped the word “Athletics” from its name. The motivation for this was that they were striving to be a store that appeals to everyone, including those who may be scared off by walking into an “athletics” shop. That type of outside the box thinking and challenging the accepted thought process of what makes a fashion store and what makes an athletics store has garnered DEKA an incredibly diverse and loyal customer base.

How does Newton fit into the DEKA mentality?

A large part of Jim’s goal at DEKA is to give shoppers a place where they can come and see merchandise that is always on the cutting edge. Each piece in the store(s) has been extremely carefully selected for its quality, design, feel and functionality so that if someone wants to see the best of the best and not have to deal with sorting through things they won’t want, they can trust that has already been done for them. DEKA’s customers want to be shown the best and that’s what DEKA does.

Where does Newton fall into that? DEKA sells Newtons because they fit the bill of being über-fashionable and a premium product. If a shopper wants a fashionable shoe, here’s a pair of Newtons. If a shopper wants the most progressive shoe technology, well, here’s a pair of Newtons! If you walk into DEKA and ask “Why Newtons?”. Well, in Jim’s words:

“We only sell the best products and quite simply, Newtons are the best running shoes you can buy.”

Probably one of DEKA’s most amazing qualities is its deep knowledge and understanding of its customers. They know who wants to see what when they walk through the door. Each person on the sales floor has an in-depth understanding of the products so they can cater to a shopper’s taste without having to waste time separating the wheat from the chaff. During our conversation I was constantly amazed with Jim’s innate ability to pinpoint what limits he could push with which customers. That knowledge and understanding is a cornerstone of DEKA’s success which cannot be overstated.

What’s next for DEKA?

Having just opened their second location in Chicago, Jim and DEKA are not a company that is looking to spread itself too thin. Rather, the dedicated staff of DEKA Chicago is working to learn and understand a new community in its new digs. Looking forward, once the Chicago store is well in hand and crushing it then, Jim has an eye on other “active” communities around the country that fit the bill. A few cities on his radar are Los Angeles, Dallas and New York.

Speaking to Jim, you would think you were speaking to the most gun-ho-for-Newton person around…and that’s because you are! The enthusiasm and genuine care for Newton and what we’re doing is what makes DEKA such an effective retailer. After our conversation, Jim shot me a note:

“Enjoyed our talk! Thanks for all of your support with DEKA!!!”

I wrote back, “Our support of you guys is striving to be as supportive as you are of us. It’s really awesome (from my perspective) to see a shop/owner/staff who is so incredibly behind a brand and believes in it so strongly that they go all in!”

If you’re in the Atlanta or Chicago area, please swing by and say hi!

DEKA Atlanta on Facebook
DEKA Atlanta on Twitter

DEKA Chicago on Facebook
DEKA Chicago on Twitter 

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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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Andrea Finds Her Shoes

Posted by on @ 9:11 am | 1 Reply

Continuing our series highlighting two people with inspiring stories during 60 Days of Better, we check in with Andrea to take a look at how she found Newton Running.

Shoes. I would argue from experience that this is one of the most vitally important factors for successful running. Yet strangely enough, it’s a factor I never really put much thought into, until quite recently. This is an oversight that played a large part in derailing my season and had me convinced that I might have to give up the thing I love the most.

After a fairly lengthy winter hiatus, I returned to running in February, treated myself to a pair of new runners, and eased back into my routine. After a couple of weeks, I began experiencing shin splints, which is not something I’ve ever been afflicted by. The weeks were rolling by, and I was not seeing any improvement in my running. I couldn’t seen to break through the 10 km barrier no matter how often I ran. My shin splints became progressively worse, accompanied by intense pain in my calves and over the tops of my feet. I would try to run through it, and end up limping home. I started a regime of stretching, massage and strength exercises, none of which made a dent in the pain. Foam rollers, compression sleeves and braces did nothing. I started going to physiotherapy, and did my assigned exercises religiously. My therapist tried fascia scraping, electro therapy, acupuncture, ultrasound, exercises and joint mobilization. Nothing worked, and he was unable to pinpoint the cause of my injury.

This was a period of extreme frustration and discouragement. Over and over I would head out, hoping that this might be the run that would turn things around. Over and over I would have to cut my run short and limp home with tears in my eyes. I felt bitter and angry, and betrayed by my own body. I was convinced that I had done some sort of irreparable damage to my legs, and that I would have to give up running, a thought that terrified me to the bone. Running had been my rock and anchor, and I was terrified that without it I would slide back into depression.

But then came that fateful day when I experienced what I like to refer to as my running “enlightenment”. I was at the track, doing my best to make it through as speed workout. I was experiencing so much pain in my feet that, in a fit of frustration, I kicked off my shoes and ran a lap barefoot. And it didn’t hurt! It didn’t hurt, so I ran another lap, and another. That day I ran 16 laps without anything on my feet, and it was the first time in 6 months that I wasn’t plagued by debilitating pain. It was also the first time in 6 months that i felt a ray of hope. Yes, my feet were red and blistered, and felt like they’d been whacked with a spatula, but it wasn’t the pain of an injury that would send me home limping.

Since I started running, I was always told that I was a flat footed pronator, and stuck into built up, structured stability shoes. I now suspected that perhaps I didn’t pronate that much after all, and didn’t really need all that support and stability. I booked an in depth biomechanical assessment with a pedorthist, who confirmed all of my suspicions. I did NOT need stability shoes, and in fact, the shoes I had been running in had been the cause of all my difficulties. These shoes had impeded my natural gait, which caused my foot to attempt to adapt, putting extreme pressure on my calves and the tendons along the top of my foot.

The very next day, I was at Forerunners, my gear Mecca, looking for a more minimal neutral shoe without all the padding and structure. I probably tried on about 30 different models, looking for just the right pair- minimal but with enough cushion to run long distances, a low heel to toe drop, a nice roomy toe box, and unobtrusive arch support. I was pretty close to giving up when I picked up the shoes with the funny looking bottoms, called Newtons. I slipped them on, and it felt like a home coming for my feet! I bought them without a second thought, and never looked back! My runs improved drastically, and the pain began to subside. My runs are not always pain free, and not always easy, but the good runs far out number the bad, and the miles are starting to add up.

It’s going to take months of physio to undo the damage I inflicted on my feet and legs with improper footwear, which is why I can’t stress enough how important it is to find the right pair of shoes! Do your research. Read forums. Talk to successful runners. See a pedorthist or podiatrist if you experience foot pain. If you want to have a long and satisfying running career, then finding the right shoe is the most important thing you can spend time and money on. Only a month after finding my perfect shoe, I’m back on their road three times a week, my mileage is back up where it should be, and my training is right on track for my October half marathon!

Andrea’s other posts:

Goodbye Limits: Meet Andrea

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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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