The entire Newton Running crew had a very busy day for the opening of the 2013 Boston Marathon expo today! While the expo crew was inside the Hynes center getting shoes on feet, Brandon and the Ginger Runner were out on the street getting soaked and meeting people. Here’s a brief recap of a day that was soaking but didn’t really dampen our spirits.
This week began with April Fool’s day and Newton took the opportunity to announce a new shoe line coming out this summer!
Later in the week we took to our own Instagram to hint at our “Boston Cheers!” contest that is now live! if you’d like to take part and maybe win some shoes, click the picture below to enter!
As usual, Instagram was blowing up with some fantastic Newton Running pictures bringing the total number of pictures tagged with #newtonrunning to almost 3000!! We have to thank you guys so much for making us such a part of your daily workouts. You keep taking them and we’ll keep talking about them!
We’re dedicating this week’s social media round-up to Instagram! There are so many Newton runners who share their love of our shoes through pictures (our shoes do tend to be rather photogenic!) and we’d like to give you, dear reader, a sampling of what we’ve seen in the past few days.
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.
Injuries 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.
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.
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:
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.
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…..
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.
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:
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.
When I was a kid, I was the skinny one. When I hit my teens I fell in love with the snack machine (Honey Buns!) and gained a little weight. Once I arrived at college and realized that I could eat whatever I wanted I really started to get big. It was also around that time that I began to suffer from severe migraine headaches. By the time I was 21, my headaches had increased in severity and frequency, so much so I began missing a lot of school and work. I was also becoming less and less active spending a lot of time in bed trying to get over the headaches. This led me to gain even more weight and over the next decade I ballooned to a seriously unhealthy 336lbs.
All the way through my 20’s and the beginning of my 30’s I was committed to getting healthy, but there were a few road blocks to deal with. Obviously, the headaches were killing me, but what was really adding insult to injury was that I had become a food addict. I was and still am an emotional eater. When I eat foods that are high in sugar, fat, or salt I just feel good, at least temporarily. If I was having a bad day I would turn to food. If I had a headache (which was always) I would eat hoping it would help the headache somehow (crazy, I know). If my wife made me mad I would eat. If my team lost I would eat (which wasn’t very often! Go Duke!). I’m an emotional guy, so all I did was eat.
So I would find a new diet to try and I would buy all the food and start going to the gym, doing all the things I knew I was supposed to do. However, every time I would find a way to sabotage the diet. I would lose a few pounds, so I would get cocky and careless and gradually add more food to my diet, or I would slack off going to the gym. The weight loss would stop and I would say, “See, this diet doesn’t really work either.” I would repeat this cycle over and over again. I always wanted to lose weight, but it was just too hard fighting with my addiction and the headaches.
Then one day I was looking for another diet to “try” (I tried them all). I purchased a book by the Biggest Loser trainer, Jillian Michaels. I could not tell you anything the book said other than this one thing…HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IS POISON AND YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER EAT IT. That little nugget forever changed my life. I don’t think I even finished the book. I ran to the kitchen to see if I could find any HFCS. To my shock, HFCS was in just about everything I was eating. I looked online at restaurants and it was there too. I was cautiously optimistic that this is what had been causing my headaches. I instantly became a food label Nazi and tracked everything that I ate, making sure that I wasn’t eating any HFCS. To my massive relief (understatement!) the headaches went away. Before, I was having 4-5 migraine headaches every week. Now, I will have one about 3 times a year, and that is probably because I ate something accidently that had HFCS in it. (As a side note, just because the FDA approves it and Coca-Cola and McDonald’s serves it does not mean that it is safe to consume!)
Armed with a new lease on life and one of my major obstacles out of the way, I committed myself to getting healthy for real. I began my own little program, of running and a super simple diet, which I came up with that I thought fit me and who I was and what I needed. After about a year I had lost 100lbs. I had become a new man. I’m happier than I have ever been and I have so much confidence. I am able to keep up with my kids and enjoy life the way you are supposed to.
I’ve certainly come a long way, but I’ve still got a long way to go. My initial goal was to see 299lbs on the scale, then get to that 100lb mark. I realize weight is just a number. My actual goal is to just be healthy and fit, tracking my weight is just a means to an end. My next goal is to get below 200, to see 199lbs on the scale. I have no doubt that I will get there. In fact, I am officially setting a goal for myself and you are my witness. By the end of Newton’s “60 Days of Better” I will reach my goal of 199lbs. I think I can do it. I’ve got on my Newtons and I am motivated to make a better me. Is anybody with me?!