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Experience Spartan World Championships With a 14 Year-Old

Posted by on Monday, October 21, 2013 @ 2:18 pm | Leave a reply

I sat on the steep hillside with a 5-gallon bucket of gravel between my legs, protecting it from spilling. This was just a temporary stop to collect my strength as I climbed up the Killington, Vermont ski run. It was a brutal reminder that ski slopes are for skiing down and that is it! This same obstacle was my biggest challenge at my first Spartan Beast several months ago in Utah. The sight of a bucket now makes me cringe. Descending the hillside, with my bucket in my arms, I thought I might actually cry. As I dumped my gravel into the bin at the end, successfully completing the obstacle, I said to myself, “Pull yourself together, you still have a long way to go.”

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-start line

Show Time

I had no idea this race would be so hard. Standing at the start line, I felt welcomed amongst my new Spartan family. I appreciated the cheers and well wishes from my fellow racers as my name was called to the start line of the Spartan World Championships. I found myself standing amongst some of the world’s greatest athletes. There were Olympians from around the globe as well as Xterra, USTAF and Trail World Champions, Professional Obstacle Course Racers, Adventure Racers, triathletes and marathon winners. This talented group of athletes, including the Spartan Pro Team, will be featured in the NBC Sports Network TV special about the World Championships on October 19th.

Given Spartan’s history and the presence of NBC TV, most of us assumed we were about to embark on the toughest, most grueling 13-mile course ever designed by Spartan. Little did we know how humbling the day would be—the steep climbs, cold water and grueling course would sideline even some of the world’s most fit athletes.

Climbing & Descending

The first part of the course was mainly a steep never-ending trail climb up the hills of Killington Ski Resort. I was happy with my selection of running this course in my Newton Distance. I knew there would be a lot of serious climbing so I chose to stay on the lighter side with my shoes. I had done my last Spartan Beast in my Newton All-weathers. The unique lug design of Newton shoes is not only great for forefoot running but also provides great traction on these difficult courses. Spartans were once again falling, slipping and sliding on the steep descents and I was able to keep my footing. There were a few walls and round hay bails to climb on our way up, which is always fun.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-wall traverse

Living and training at 7,000 feet in Park City, UT, as well as only carrying 98 pounds on my small frame, was a great advantage on the first part of the course. I was surprised to find myself hanging with many of the elite females for the first six to seven miles. It was only when we encountered the heavy obstacles, that their more adult bodies became a huge advantage for them.

Two-thirds My Weight

Upon reaching one of the few black diamond ski runs at Killington, I peered up the steep slope.  As far up the mountain as I could see, it was just a stream of racers carrying something. As I approached a pile of sandbags, I quickly realized there was only one size. Many of the weighted obstacles at Spartan Races have female and male sized weights. This was the World Championships, though, what was I thinking. There was no time to stop and think. This was a race!

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-60#sandbag carry

As a competitive athlete, you learn to improvise as you go. I wasn’t sure how I would handle this heavy obstacle but knew I just had to get moving with it. I grabbed my sandbag, tossed it up onto my back and began the long trek. I would alternate carrying the weight on one shoulder, then the other. When both shoulders got fatigued, I would place it evenly across my upper back and neck.  The one thought I had the entire time was, “Why is a 14-year-old girl carrying what a grown man is carrying?” At the time, I had no idea I was carrying 60 pounds, literally two-thirds my body weight. All I knew was, “It was heavy”.  It was only after the race, that I had learned the actual weight we were all carrying.

Burpees & Perseverence

The Hercules Hoist gave me my first set of burpees. A cement bucket is hooked to a pulley system.  You must use a rope to pull the bucket up to the top. As I started to hoist the bucket up, I would quickly find myself being pulled up in the air as the bucket returned to the ground. “You got to be kidding me! I’ve done this before. This cement bucket must be heavier than my last race.” After being lifted off the ground several times and only getting the weight half way up, I realized Hercules would win today. I immediately started doing my 30 burpees.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-rope climb

During the entire race I was reminded, “I had it easy.” I was not carrying a tumor, like my new friend, Iram Leon. He is 32 years old and living with an inoperable brain tumor, yet not letting it slow him down. I had two healthy legs unlike the amputee that crawled up the entire Killington ski slope on his hands and knees or like the female amputee who stood at the start line with me. I was able to just be at the event, unlike my dad and many others that left this world too soon. It wasn’t hard to put my pain aside and persevere.

Having previewed the course the day before, I knew the water obstacles would come at miles seven and ten. Seeing all the water on this course, I also knew I wanted a shoe that had great drainage, not one that would hold water. I had poured water in my Newton trainers prior to the race to see how quickly it would drain out. Unlike many Spartans, I was not intimidated by the water, but rather excited. As a two-time triathlon national champion, I had been battling it out in the water since I was five years old. I didn’t take into account, however, how much wearing shoes affected your ability to swim. I was especially glad I didn’t wear a hydration pack like so many did. It would have been yet another thing to weigh me down as I swam across the frigid water and climbed up the rope climbs.

Tarzan & The Tyrolean Traverse

The Tarzan Swing was nearly impossible! I heard of only one female who made it successfully across. This obstacle consisted of ladders and ropes suspended from a bridge in the middle of a lake. After swimming out and climbing up to the top of the bridge, there were about five or six little ropes. One had to swing across these ropes to get to the bell. I made it across two ropes then fell about ten feet into the lake.  As I swam to shore, my only thought was, “I think I’m turning into an ice cube.” As I crawled onto shore, it was burpee time again.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-barb wire

Next up, the Tyrolean Traverse. Imagine a rope suspended across water; a kids dream, an adult’s nightmare! I may have moved slower than Sid, the two-toed sloth, but I made it! I hung below the rope with just my knees and elbows draped over the long rope that spanned the freezing cold, irrigation pond for the ski resort. There was no way I was going to fall off that rope, swim to shore, do 30 burpees and then have to reattempt it again. It was pretty intimidating seeing Elite men wrapped in a foil blanket at the edge of the water, hypothermic and unable to continue on. Today, the Tyrolean Rope would separate the winners from the losers. All I could think was, “Just hang on!” I have some great rope burns on my arms to show for my effort.

Tyrolean Traverse- Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013

Pushing Beyond

The Spartan World Championships pushed me farther, mentally and physically, than I have ever been pushed before. However, with this being said, I know I have not reached my limit. There is always a take home lesson I learn from every race; whether it is a triathlon, a marathon, an aerial skiing competition or a Spartan Race. Spartan reminded me how crucial the mental component of a sport can be. Even if your body wants to give up, you can usually mentally keep pushing on and many times your body will recover. If you give up mentally though, it is over immediately.

Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013-fire jump

For many, crossing the finish line on Saturday was the end of their race weekend. Placing first in the world in the 19 & under open division and 28th amongst the elite females was perhaps my greatest accomplishment ever. However, the most important race to me was actually the next day. For the first time, Spartan offered a charity race. Beat up and exhausted but willing to do it all again, my team of five athletes, Team Winter, set out Sunday morning to try to capture the Spartan Charity Race Title. Our team raced for the 1 in 6 men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the cancer that took my 40 year-old-dad from me when I was only 9-years-old.

We were expected to navigate a two- to three-mile course, with the fastest three times from each team counting. Seeing some of Spartan’s best obstacle course racers smiling at the start line Sunday and getting their “Spartan On” for something bigger than themselves was a great sight. These guys and gals went out with revenge and were ready to give everything they had left for their cause. Although Team Winter took 2nd place by only a few seconds, we were proud to stand on the podium as one of the top five teams in the world. Each team took prize money home for their charity and most importantly raised awareness for their cause.

Finish Line Spartan Vermont Beast World Championships 2013

Spartan World Championships was great training as I headed into my sixth marathon on October 12th on New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island—my second to last continent on my world marathon tour for prostate cancer awareness. Keep following Newton for my next race report!

Never Give In!

Sig

Join Team Winter or make a Donation!

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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 15 Chuck and Bella

Posted by on Monday, September 30, 2013 @ 1:26 pm | Leave a reply

chuck_bellaDialog between Bella and Chuck (otherwise known as Chuck The Dog)

Bella: So Chuck I hear we’re going to be the first co-dogs of Newton, pretty exciting right?  I’d say we’re pioneers like Newton Running shoes.

Chuck: dog dog dog dog dog dog,  I’m Chuck The Dog, squirrel, bike, car, butterfly.

Bella: CHUCK! Focus!

Chuck:  Sorry, you know I distracted easily and just want to be friends with everyone.  In fact it’s pretty well known that I will do anything for a scratch behind the ears.

Bella:  I do know that, but few people know that you were unofficially banned from the office for a little while after strolling into the office of Jerry Lee, co-founder and CEO, and peeing on his desk.  This is true isn’t it?

Chuck:  I can not lie, this is true.  But I’m from Southern California and everyone knows things are a little more laid back there!  The truth is I’m a little devil and cannot be trusted.  In fact I get by solely on dashing good looks and devilish charm.

Bella:  I on the other hand am completely the opposite.  People call me sassy, emotional and standoffish.  The truth is though that I had a rough start with life, but things are getting better and I’m really starting to like visits to the office.

Chuck:  It’s true.  Like everyone, running makes things better and since we’ve been hitting the trails you boss me around less and aren’t quite such a bratty little sister.

Bella:  Thank you, I think?

Chuck: You’re welcome.  So what else should we tell these people about how awesome we are?  We do lead pretty incredible lives.

Bella:  We do, we’ve both run 100+ mile weeks, we both like to chase cows and after reading a number of the dog blogs that came before us I’m quite proud to say that neither of us are afraid of thunder.

Chuck: It’s true, thunder aint got nothing on us!  Plus both of our owners travel a lot for work so we’re constantly getting to have sleepovers, houseguests and meet new friends.

Bella:  I think you like hanging out with new people a little more than me but I know what you’re saying!  Well, it’s been great chatting with all these wonderful folks out there but I think it’s time that I head back underneath  thedeck for a nap and I’m sure there is a butterfly or shiny reflection for you to chase…..Chuck! Get back here and say goodbye to everyone….The shadow will still be there in a minute!

Chuck: Ahhhhh!  Sorry, thanks so much everyone for spending some time with us and next time you come bring food.  Seriously, we’ll eat anything, people food, dog food the neighbor’s cat/rabbit or guinea pig food.  Even something that just looks like food we’ll eat it.

Bella:  Thanks everyone and run strong!

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Masters of Mileage

Posted by on Monday, September 16, 2013 @ 9:18 am | Leave a reply

We love sharing stories that illustrate how deeply “we live this stuff”.  Hopefully you caught Kara Henry and Stephen Gartside’s pre-Leadville 100 interview. Their results and post-race comments are a source of Newton pride.

Pre-race Dinner The Night Before Leadville

Pre-race Dinner The Night Before Leadville

Newton: Describe your experience at the Leadville 100?

Kara Henry: Looking back, I’ll tell you I had a blast the whole day…but during the race it was a different story.

I definitely had a few moments of ‘WHAT AM I DOING??’ but luckily those were few and far between. I had an awesome crew who bullied me out of every aid station and never let me sit down. It’s because of that alone that I ran an hour faster than my goal.

kara

Stephen Gartside: For me, the Leadville 100 has been a new challenge after years of road marathons. You can’t beat the big open country that makes up the 100-mile route. It gives you some road and plenty of trail, with all kinds of elevation. I find that quite the challenge.

The day unfolded with 50 miles of pretty easy running, then the 50-mile trip home with pacers, which goes all night. It’s kind of like a party with everyone out there running, pacing and volunteering.  My kind of party and it takes more mentally than just about anything else you can cram into a day.

gartside

What was your highest high?

KH: Absolutely hammering the last mile when I realized I could get under 24 hours. Actually, the reason I started pushing was because I saw what I thought was another female racer in front of me…I even made my pacers be super quiet so I could sneak up on ‘her’. When we got close I realized it was a dude with long blonde dreadlocks. I was bummed but at least it got me moving.

Kara nearing the top of Hope Pass

Kara nearing the top of Hope Pass

SG: The highest high is when you know you are done with Hope Pass. Or, anytime a good song hits the iPod as you down some fresh caffeine. Of course, seeing that finish line is pretty sweet.

Stephen running down Hope Pass

Stephen running down Hope Pass

What was your lowest low?

KH: I hate climbing Hope Pass at mile 55 more than anything ever. HATE IT. I told my pacer to stop talking and ‘get me off this f**#$ing mountain.’ (Sorry Thom)

SG: The lowest low for me in 2013 was losing everything in my stomach at mile 63.  Thank goodness I bounced back pretty fast, which is what you learn running ultras. You can come back from a low point!

What would you tell someone who is thinking of running an ultra?

KH: Don’t. Just kidding…I would tell them to find a training partner. I had so much fun training for Leadville this year because I had a great group to run with. Last year I trained on my own and too many hours on the trails alone is NOT good for your social skills.

karafinishline

SG: If you are starting out with ultras my advice is slow down and you will be amazed at how far you can travel.  Find friends that share your interests and thus the journey. The Leadville 100 for me each year is more like a 6-month journey of getting ready, leading up to the actual race day.

gartside finish3

If we asked you the day after the race, would you have said you would run it again?

KH: Yep! Because I’m a dummy and apparently a masochist.

SG: After 3 straight years at the Leadville 100, I may need a few years off which means probably returning as a volunteer or pacer for at least 2014-15.

post race

What about now, two weeks later?

KH: Now I’m thinking that I definitely won’t run it next year, but I’ll definitely do it again. I’d like to try a 100 closer to sea level.

Kara Henry with her pacing team

Kara Henry with her pacing team

Editor’s Note: If Kara has lead you to believe that her recovery is all about pizza and beer, she has you fooled. Kara is currently running from hut to hut in the Alps in preparation for the U.S. 100 Mile Champs this winter. Shhh…don’t tell her that we told you!

 

 

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Giving Back To Kids In Kauai

Posted by on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 @ 1:27 pm | Leave a reply

In the last two years of visiting the island of Kauai and winning the Kauai Marathon I felt a connection to the island.  In 2011, I stayed in a family’s guest bedroom and felt like I was a member of the family. I could not afford to stay in a hotel so this was the most affordable place I could find off of AirBnB.com. This ended up being a “blessing in disguise” because I was able live like a local for a week.  Sadly, I noticed the poverty was prevalent across the island.  As a runner, I became immediately aware of the lack of proper shoes.  I learned that there was not a running specialty store on the island and many are therefore only able buy their shoes at K-Mart, Walmart, or Costco.  This year I wanted to make a positive difference to the island and I thought it would be very beneficial to get the kids on the island in Newton shoes.  If you’ve ever browsed the Newton Running Website, you’d find a global responsibility page that highlights a lot of the great work being done across the world through Newton Running. When I proposed the idea to Newton, they liked the idea to donate shoes to the Kauai youths and I went to work with the Kauai Marathon to organize it.  The Kauai Marathon loved the plan and a few months later we had nearly 100 pairs of sizes for elementary and high school students shipped to Kauai.

Tyler 1

This year was the first year the Kauai Marathon added Keiki (kid’s) races.  The toddler trot was for kids up for 4 years old (100m dash), the 4-7 age group will race 1/4 mile and the 8-12 age group will race the 1/2 mile.  The course was planned on a beautiful section of grass next to the Grand Hyatt. We also did a ‘fun run’ on a dirt cane road near the Grand Hyatt.  In addition, Bart Yasso (CRO at Runner’s World), Dean Karnazes (ultramarathon man), Michael Wardian, and myself would be at the expo for presentations and Q&A.  Since the high school runners rarely have the opportunity to learn about running, this was a great opportunity to get the high school kids excited for cross country season. The big goal of the two weeks: get kids inspired to run and live a healthy lifestyle while providing shoes to the kids that need them.

Tyler 2

The Kauai Marathon decided to make a $500 donation to the school that brought in the most participants to the Keiki races.  This was publicized and the marathon public relations director Robin Jumper went to work on organizing the elementary schools for me to give a presentation.  I gave presentation to full school assemblies at four elementary schools and ran with three high school cross country teams. The goal was to get the kids excited to run the Keiki races, inform them what running is all about, and to share my experiences traveling across the US and the world. I learned that kids are very brave and love to ask questions.  Some of the questions I received were…

“What the longest you’ve ever run?”

“How many medals do you have?”

“How many race have you won?”

“Have you ever raced Usain Bolt?”

When asked if I have ever raced Usain Bolt, my response was “No, but I guarantee that if he shows up on Sunday I can beat him in the marathon!!”

On Wednesday I had a meeting with the mayor where he was shocked at the generosity.  He said that I was his “braddah” and I was blessed for helping with the kids. He explained how the island is building bike and walking paths to give kids and parents the opportunity to walk or bike to school/work.  He was hopeful that the Kauai Marathon youth program and Newton Running would inspire more kids to lead a healthy lifestyle.  This meeting with the mayor lead to a newspaper article (“Students Score Newtons”) in the Garden Isle that spread the word about the Kauai Marathon Youth Program and Newton shoes donation.

Tyler 3

On Saturday morning, the course that race director Bob Craver and I designed, was fortunate to have an impressive 171 kids running around it with their parents and spectators cheering them on! To put that number into perspective, I talked to all schools within a half hour drive and that was about 750 kids less than 13 years old. Some of the kids came from the mainland, but that’s still over 10% of the keiki’s came from local elementary schools! I spent the morning cheering on the kids and taking pictures with them and their parents. It was a fantastic morning and a very successful event. I took so many pictures with families where I had spoke to the kids at the schools. My favorite was the registration form that came back saying they signed up because the daughter heard me speak in school. A picture says a 1,000 words so here are a few gems mostly from Jo Evans of Dakine Images of the event…

All Keiki races were led by a giant rooster. Yes, he is undefeated (121-0 in fact) in his career leading keiki races.

Tyler 4

Photo posted by Brennecke’s BeachFront Restaurant after the Keiki Races! http://www.brenneckes.com/

Tyler 5

JT Service (http://www.soulfocussports.com/), Dean Karnazes and I getting the kids warmed up. JT did a wonderful job getting the kids moving, warmed-up, and excited for the races!

Tyler 7

One of the proudest moments of my life was reading this…inspiring kids to run and lead a healthy lifestyle is so important.

When I walked back to my room and laid down after the event, all I could think about was how incredible this event was.  This was by far the most rewarding experience in my life.  Immediately I started thinking… “How can I get more kids to participate?  How do I help more kids have proper footwear?  How do I inspire more kids to run and lead a healthy lifestyle?  How in the world do I properly thank the Kauai Marathon and Newton Running for allowing me to be a part of this incredible experience?  How do I spread the word to other runners about what an amazing family event the Kauai Marathon weekend is? How do we get more high school kids in Kauai to do cross country and participate in the events?

The next morning was the Kauai Marathon and my turn to run.

The next morning was the Kauai Marathon and my turn to run.  I woke up at 2:45AM, had breakfast, and was browsing the newspaper to kill time.  I found a ‘letter to the editor’ from one of the high school coaches who applauded me for being a role model for young kids. At that point I knew that I couldn’t lose the race.  After speaking to the kids about setting goals, working hard towards your goal, and then the joy of sharing your success with others, I knew I had to be a living example for them. Two hours, twenty-one minutes, thirty-three seconds, and 26.2 miles later I achieved my goal of winning the race and setting a new course record.  I was motivated by the dozens of handmade signs on the course that said “Go Tyler” and the number of volunteers that cheered me on by name.

Pomaika’i is the hawaiian word for good fortune/good luck.  When I was doing my last long run on the island before the race a white owl flew in front of me for nearly a mile.  The owl is a symbol of pomaika’i and the white owl is the rarest of all.  Without the fear of sounding cheesy, Newton Running is going to experience a lot of pomaika’i for the generosity this year.  Thank you all for letting me be a part of it!

Enjoy the photos below…

Tyler 9

With the Island School XC Team

Tyler 10

On my way to a new course record at the 2013 Kauai Marathon!

 

 

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Kōkua: Helping Others One Triathlon at a Time

Posted by on Thursday, September 5, 2013 @ 11:04 am | Leave a reply

By Nicole Clark

Back in February, I heard from my husband, Nick Clark, about the potential for a Newton Running Ambassador Team. Then, I noticed the application on Facebook to apply for the inaugural IRONMAN Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon team. It took me about a week to finish up the application process and another month until I received an official email stating that I was chosen to be part of the team.

Being part of this team is quite an honor. We have more than 40 teammates from around North America with one common goal: to give back to the communities in which we are racing. Our team motto is kōkua, which means “extending loving, sacrificial help to others for their benefit, not for personal gain…” This sums up exactly what our team is all about. I wanted to be part of a team that wasn’t focused on PR’s, splits and power, although that is perfectly fine, I felt like this team was going to be more than just that.  I love training, racing and being at different venues, but raising money for the different charities and community outreach programs for select IRONMAN races has been an amazing experience to be part of.

Kokua

I am fortunate enough to live in a great community. I have amazing friends and family all over the country who have supported this experience. I reached out to a local restaurant in Louisville, Colorado, Lucky Pie, where they support fundraising events. They were kind enough to allow me to host a silent auction social. We had wonderful local business who donated for the event, ranging from teeth whitening, local triathlon shop packages, to autographed Craig Alexander Newton Running visors. We also had representation from Newton Running, Ironman and IMF teammates.

The monies raised by my teammates and I will go to local Henderson charities served by the IRONMAN Foundation at the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3: Coronado High School Band, Coronado High School, Clark County School District, Foothills High School, Student Council Getting 2 Tri Foundation, Grant a Gift Autism Foundation, Green Valley C.H.A.N.C.E., Green Valley Women’s Basketball, Green Valley Wrestling, Greenspun Junior High, Henderson Lacrosse Club, James Gibson Elementary, Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, Pinecrest Academy, SECTA Student Organization of Latinos and Somerset Academy of Las Vegas.

I qualified back in September 2012 at Branson 70.3 for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships 2013.  What a great set up for the year ahead. This made fun planning for upcoming races. Leading up to Vegas, I raced the Boulder Tri Series and Kansas 70.3. I had the opportunity to race Vegas two years ago, while living in Florida. Now that I live in Colorado, with the ability to train at altitude and really knowing how to ride hills while also having the advantage of knowing what the course is like, I feel like I am a little more seasoned and prepared for a great race. I’m really looking forward to having fun, enjoying the weekend with family and friends coming to support me and meeting new teammates at our charity project.

Ironman 70.3 World Championships donation page
Nicole Clark’s Blog
IRONMAN Foundation Newton Running Ambassador Triathlon Team
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Meet The Dogs Of Newton – Week 14 Daisy

Posted by on @ 8:18 am | Leave a reply

DAISY1Hello my name is Daisy! I’m the newest member of the Newton Dog family.

I was born at the end of May and every week my biological Mom would send pictures of me getting bigger to my new mom in Colorado. This became known as “Woof Wednesday”. There was stiff competition between me and that hump day camel but I won out as the camel has gone to pasture & I am living it up at the Newton School of Running.

My mom thinks I’m wicked cute- but don’t let that fool you. I’m a bit of a sheep in wolfs clothing. I act soooo cute & then I flip my wolf switch where I run around like a crazy puppy and jump and nip at people. My mom keeps talking about taking me to class to get trained up… but I don’t think it’s much of a threat because I hang out at a school all day and nothing too authoritative happens there. They even have this cool display that has these neat socks hanging off of it that just sit there and wait for me to come by & play with them. My mom frowns upon this but Timmy thinks it’s funny- so I’m going to keep doing it.

Speaking of the School of Running, I even have my own fan club of ladies from the bank next door that come over to visit me. Come to think of it… I heard that the school was much less inhabited before I came and now there are people flocking to the door to hang out with me!

I am happy just hanging out but I love to go on adventures. The car isn’t my favorite place but it brings me to visit lots of cool stuff so I tolerate the ride. Once I adjust to the altitude I will be spending my mornings on runs with my mom. Times are tough this high up… I sure hope she brings me back to visit her people at sea level soon!

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Some Newton love to start off the week

Posted by on Monday, December 5, 2011 @ 9:11 am | 1 Reply

Newton Director of Education and Research (and rock star World champ athlete) Ian Adamson got this lovely email from Dave B.

Hi there Ian!

I’ve been meaning to write for a little while now to thank you for doing everything you are doing especially with Newton shoes. I ran the JFK 50 Mile for the 9th time this year and this was the first time I didn’t have any blisters on the soles of my feet at all nor lose at least one of my great toe nails! Same socks. I am very thankful for that! What I think is even more amazing is that I even finished – I did a really not so intelligent thing in that I put in just two training runs since Labor Day: one was about 3.5 miles 4 weeks before race day and an 11 miler the following week, then ran the JFK. I finished in about 13:10 which is actually better than I have done in the last several years! I think a couple things influenced that: 1) there were only about 1/3 of the folks there at the 5 AM start and 2) my feet felt fine the whole race. I have worn XXXX and XXXXXX shoes in the past.

Anyway, thanks again for all you do! Hope you enjoyed a great Thanksgiving weekend and that you have a wonderful Christmas holiday season!

Take-Care, Dave

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A Bit About Footstrike

Posted by on Tuesday, August 2, 2011 @ 12:37 pm | 1 Reply

Some points were brought to our attention recently in Bobby McGee’s article “The Footstrike Debate” published in USA Triathlon (Summer 2011.) the person who brought this up seems to have missed some of the salient points from the article. Newton’s Director of Education, Ian Adamson has addressed these points in both a short and long version. Read on and be enlightened!

Short

1. “Good runners heel strike for long distance”

Let’s be clear, McGee says “Good runners also tend to heel strike when they run long and slow.” This is true in affluent societies where runners overwhelmingly have adapted to running on shoes with soft midsoles and a large heel lift (12 -22 mm for regular trainers, 8 to 14 mm for racing flats.) For runners in the 5.5 Billion people on our planet who can’t afford big bulky shoes this is not true. If one examines evidence based science and don’t believe the anecdotes, this is this is fact, Lieberman et al (Nature Vol 463, 28 January 2010, 531-536.) You can certainly find examples of elite runners who have a proprioceptive heel striking phase (such as Gebrselassie), but this is not a true heel loading strike, even as McGee defines it.

2. “Transitioning from heel to midfoot is precarious and seldom achieved without injury”
(I’m glad I finally heard somebody actually say this, I’ve been struggling to convert to midfoot strike because everybody is doing it and it caused me injuries that I”m still fighting)

There is no evidence to support this. Consider barefoot running, which is probably the most extreme adaptation for a western runner who has habituated to a soft soled, heel lifted shoe. A systematic review of the literature published in Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association [one of the most conservative when it comes to viewing footwear and running gait] (101)3: 231-246, 2011, found that “Although there is no evidence that either confirms or refutes improved performance and reduced injuries in barefoot runners, many of the claimed disadvantages to barefoot running are not supported by the literature. Nonetheless, it seems that barefoot running may be an acceptable training method for athletes and coaches who understand and can minimize the risks.”

The reality is progressive injury results from trying to adapt too rapidly. The majority of runners in our society spent years of decades adapting to big bulky western style running shoes and have become very efficient at running inefficiently. Humans have the ability to adapt to a large variety of unnatural conditions (heat, cold altitude, deep sea diving, wearing big soft high heel shoes), but this doesn’t mean the conditions are optimal for performance.

This does raise the question of what is natural. If one considers the barefoot as the natural condition for running (4.5 million years of hominid/human evolution according to the fossil record) compared to a big soft bulky shoe (40 years of modern running shoe evolution), which one is the natural condition? There is a valid argument that we need to protect our body from hard modern surfaces, which to some extent is true. But then again, they are not exactly absent in the natural world, and humans have had foot coverings for at least 5,500 years according to carbon dates artifacts. The Iceman from oAustria has straw stuffed moccasins to protect from the sharp ice and cold, good idea!

3. “Of the six US men in the ITU world championships last year, four were heel strikers.” (Wow)

Yes, wow, but not true. Do an image search and see how many true rear foot strikes you can see. They also placed 14th (Bennet – forefoot), 16th (Chrabot – forefoot), 51st (Shoemaker – forefoot), 56th (Collington – forefoot), 58th (Huerta- mid foot, possibly rear foot at times), 66th and last (Foster – wholefoot, possibly rear foot). Search for any elite runners and you will see predominantly forefoot/wholefoot/midfoot loading.

Long

Bobby McGee’s primary points in his article “The Footstrike Debate” published in USA Triathlon (Summer 2011) are not so much about where you land on your foot as your body position and loading angles.

1. McGee uses examples of athletes who successfully “heel strike”, but here’s the rub (and this later explained, see 11. below), you still need a good body position and appropriate joint angles (limb positions.) The main thing missing is a definition of “heel strike.” An often misinterpreted study by Hasewage et al (2007) showed that 38% of the top 50 runners in a half marathon (at the 15 km mark) run midfoot or forefoot, and that ground contact time decreases the faster they go. This was true of all runners, with GC time increasing for all runners as they run slower. Interestingly the definition of foot strike was when the shoe first contacts the ground. When you examine this more closely it turns out that what the geometry of the shoe has a huge effect on what touches the ground and when. Virtually every runner was wearing a heel lifted shoe (i.e. one where the heel is thicker than the forefoot), so if you control for heel thickness, the number of forefoot and midfoot strikers goes up to about 60%. Look even deeper and you find that these runners are not truly rear foot loading (see impact transient in 10. below), but are in fact running forefoot or midfoot (or whole foot) loading. McGee does a good job of describing how to do this later in his article.

2. Running on your toes is impossible. This is at least extremely difficult unless you include sprinting, in which case it’s only possible for very short distances.

3. Top (tri)athletes succeed with various foot engagement styles. Success is relative – Craig Alexander runs faster than virtually any other distance triathlete using midfoot/whole foot strike, and he’s one of the oldest professional triathletes.

4. “Transitioning from heel to midfoot is precarious and seldom achieved without injury.” Making any change too fast can lead to injury, whether that is changing your running style, introducing speed work, strength, intensity, volume, altitude, heat, cold etc. Try and climb an 8,000 m peak without acclimatization or supplemental oxygen and you will die, try and run in Death Valley in the middle of summer without heat acclimatization and you will die, try to change the loading patterns on your foot strike and you won’t die, but you’d better make sure you do it with plenty of time to strengthen the soft tissue and fine boney structures of your feet so you don;t get injured.

5. You shouldn’t try and keep your heel off the ground. Absolutely correct, in fact this is a common mistake and leading cause of injury for people adapting too fast to a midfoot/whole foot/forefoot strike.

6. It’s unlikely that foot position can lead to effective change. This is largely true, foot placement is more important, as in where in relation to the body it engages the ground.

7. Place your foot so that it is neutral or moving back relative to the ground. This is absolutely the most efficient way to engage and extremely difficult to do if you have your leg out in front of your body.

8. Allow your heel to settle and your (longitudinal) arch and Achilles tendon load like a spring. This is true, and actually engages the stretch reflex to assist with elastic recoil. Difficult in a heel striking gait, at least severely limited because the Achilles is already extended in a dorsiflexed position.

9. Consider barefoot running as the outer end of the midfoot/whole foot spectrum of runners. A systematic review of the literature published in Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (101)3: 231-246, 2011, found that “Although there is no evidence that either confirms or refutes improved performance and reduced injuries in barefoot runners, many of the claimed disadvantages to barefoot running are not supported by the literature. Nonetheless, it seems that barefoot running may be an acceptable training method for athletes and coaches who understand and can minimize the risks.”

10. When you review the evidence based science that examines foot position and ground impact forces, the facts are clear. Lieberman et al (Nature Vol 463, 28 January 2010, 531-536) found there is a large variation in the impact transients when comparing forefoot strike (FFS) runners to rear foot (heel) strike (RFS) runners. Impact transient is the rate and magnitude of loading on initial ground contact. It turns out that the impact transient for shod runners who RFS is three times higher than barefoot runners who FFS, and seven times higher for barefoot runners who RFS. The study found that the impact transient is largely absent for FFS runners, regardless of wearing footwear or not. Here’s an excerpt from the article: “Humans have engaged in endurance running for millions of years1, but the modern running shoe was not invented until the 1970s. For most of human evolutionary history, runners were either barefoot or wore minimal footwear such as sandals or moccasins with smaller heels and little cushioning relative to modern running shoes. We wondered how runners coped with the impact caused by the foot colliding with the ground before the invention of the modern shoe. Here we show that habitually barefoot endurance runners often land on the fore-foot (fore-foot strike) before bringing down the heel, but they sometimes land with a flat foot (mid-foot strike) or, less often, on the heel (rear-foot strike). In contrast, habitually shod runners mostly rear-foot strike, facilitated by the elevated and cushioned heel of the modern running shoe. Kinematic and kinetic analyses show that even on hard surfaces, barefoot runners who fore-foot strike generate smaller collision forces than shod rear-foot strikers. This difference results primarily from a more plantar flexed foot at landing and more ankle compliance during impact, decreasing the effective mass of the body that collides with the ground. Fore-foot- and mid-foot-strike gaits were probably more common when humans ran barefoot or in minimal shoes, and may protect the feet and lower limbs from some of the impact related injuries now experienced by a high percentage of runners.”

11. “… If your shin is leaning rearward, even slightly, you are running with the brakes on -” This is absolutely correct. McGee is describing over striding, where you land with your foot in front of your center of mass. This is the most typical heel strike, and is one of the greatest inefficiencies in running.

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Newton Running’s Tour de Georgia/Alabama Begins Next Week

Posted by on Friday, May 6, 2011 @ 10:31 am | Leave a reply

Newton Running’s Director of Research and Education, Ian Adamson, will be traveling through Georgia and Alabama next week to give a series of *FREE* natural running presentations and form clinics:

Natural Runnning Form Clinic
Friday, May 13, 7:00 a.m.
DEKA Atlanta, 3400 Around Lenox Road, Suite 102 B
Atlanta, GA 30326
www.dekaatlanta.com

Natural Running Presentation
May 13, 6:30 pm
Natural Running Form Clinic
May 14, 8:00 am
All 3 Sports, 8601 Dunwoody Place, Ste 450
Atlanta, GA 30350
www.all3sports.com

Natural Running Presentation
May 14, 5:30 pm
Natural Running Form Clinic
May 15, 8:00 am
3517 Northside Parkway
West Stride, Atlanta, GA 30327
www.weststride.com

Natural Running Presentation
May 16, 6:00 pm
Natural Running Form Clinic
May 17, 6:30 pm
Montgomery Multisport, 8107 Vaughn Road
Montgomery, AL 36116
www.montgomerymultisport.com

Natural Running Presentation
May 17, 6:30 pm
Natural Running Form Clinic
May 18, 6:30 am
McCoy Outdoor, 3498 Springhill Ave
Mobile, AL 36608
www.mccoyfineguns.com

Visit www.newtonrunning.com for a complete schedule of upcoming Natural Running Symposia across the country.

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Culver City’s Sporteve to Host Natural Running Clinic

Posted by on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 @ 1:15 pm | Leave a reply

We’re excited to announce that the newest addition to our list of upcoming natural running symposia is Culver City’s Sporteve, L.A.’s first active-wear store dedicated to looking after women’s needs.

The natural running form clinic, led by Newton Running’s Ian Adamson, will be followed by a presentation on natural running biomechanics and injury prevention.

Natural Running Form Clinic & Presentation
Where: 3849 Main Street | Culver City, CA 90232
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2011
Time: 8:30 – 11:30  a.m.
Contact: 310-838-6588 | sporteve.com

Learn more about Natural Running Symposia here:

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