I, like many of you, have read the book "Born to Run"
by Chris McDougall. This is one of the best running books I've read to
date. Aside from giving us a compelling look at an amazing group of
people - the RarÃ¡muri - most readers, like myself, finish the book wondering if all our
running injuries and setbacks are due to the modern running shoes we
train and race in.
First, let me say that I too am very interested in the minimalist movement and look forward to slowly experimenting with Nike Free's, Vibram's
and barefoot running. BUT, I would like to play devil's advocate here
and suggest to you that there are more significant contributors to
running injuries then the shoes themselves. It really comes down to
the same approach and advice I've been receiving about barefoot
running: start slow and work into it. This has to be the same approach
we take with conventional running but it's hardly ever taught or
Think of all the messaging we receive as runners: Just Do It, Go
Hard, No Pain No Gain, fartleks, speed work, tempo runs, hill runs,
slow pace, marathon pace, fast pace, last place, first place,
plyometrics, stretch, don't stretch, active warm-up, dynamic warm-up,
no warm-up, track this, report that, we'll even cut a hole in your shoe
for your devices and call that a +! And guess what you need to do or
try it all. At least that's what the magazines tell us.
Here's a list of injury contributors (from a beginners perspective)
and suggestions gained from experience, coaching and careful
observation. Please share your own.
Purchasing shoes from anything but a specialty running store Please don't think these stores exist to do nothing but pull
the wool over your eye's and sell, sell, sell. Many of the employees
are passionate about running and have your best interest at heart. It
kills me when beginners buy shoes at Dick's or Shoe Carnival solely on
color and two-for-one sales.
No real conditioning During track season, we work with many kids new to running.
We spend several weeks with general conditioning, coordination drills,
body weight strengthening, and basic aerobic fitness. This all happens
before they do any real running.
Too much too soon We're all guilty of this. We get all jazzed up running with
friends or with a local club and feel the pressure of doing more than
we should. It results in too many miles before we're ready. The 10%
rule has been around a while and works. I also advocate taking every
fourth week as a down week by cutting your mileage almost in half.
Too fast too soon The evil partner of too much too soon. I've pulled and torn my hamstring twice due to this error in training. Build your base!
Build your base Those new to running can fair best and avoid injury by simply
starting slow (10% rule), stay aerobic while building your base of 3-6
months (depending on your fitness level), and incorporating some cross
training and strength training into your schedule. Your cross training
may only need to be once or twice a week, but as runners (especially
young runners) we run in a linear fashion and neglect muscle groups
that keep us holistically fit and balanced.
Poor running form Over striding, slouched shoulders, excessive arm-swing, and
heal recovery are just a few of the running form difficulties new
runners' battle when starting out. Take the time to observe and help
someone out. A-skips, B-skips, butt-kicks, and bounding are great form
drills and should be "practiced"at least twice a week if not more.
Better form + better economy = less injuries.
Running is no different than any other sport when it comes to
preparation. To excel we all need a good foundation, start slowly, and
work to improve form and function. Use these suggestions as guidance
and ask yourself how you can become a better runner as you develop over
time. Do this first before you retire those running shoes to lawn
I love running in my Vibram Five Finger KSO Treks. I feel lighter, faster, and much more efficient. Running is fun again.
In February of this year, I had one of those life changing events. I
had just gotten off the examination table and was told I had two large
blood clots in a deep vein above and below the knee. Blood clots in a
deep vein are dangerous. What exactly had caused them wasn't exactly
known. But the week before, I had run around White Rock Lake in Dallas
on Sunday morning and then sat in a car that afternoon for approx 6
hours on the drive back. I had also pulled something behind the knee
during the run. The combination of injury and sitting for such a long
time probably caused the blood to clot around that injury. At least
that's the guess.
The reason I mention this, I started to really look at what I was
doing to my body. I am a runner. I love to run. But the injuries
(achilles, lower back, etc.) over the last several years made me think
there had to be a better way. I wasn't about to quit running. That was
not an option. I needed to find out why I was having all those issues
and do something about it.
That's when I discovered there are several styles of running. I read
the book on Chi Running and read about the Pose method. I also picked
up the book, Born to Run. What an inspiration that book is. But the
important take away was running barefoot. That made perfect sense to
me. I had two feet that should be more than capable of running without
heel protection and arch support.
On Sunday April 25th,
I completed the Wichita Half Marathon in my Vibram shoes. I didn't set
a PR because of the limited training schedule, but I was very happy
that I finished it in good time. I started running in Vibram's in
March. You are supposed to transition to running without shoe support
over a long period of time. It takes time for your feet to adapt.
Muscles have to get stronger, ligaments have to get stronger, and bones
have to adapt to the new stress. Being in standard shoes all the time
makes your feet and lower legs atrophy. Some say you should transition
over at least a 6-month period. I think everyone is a little different.
Depends on how strong your feet are when you begin.
I have completely changed my running style to shorter steps, faster
cadence and to a more efficient movement. I land each step on the mid
foot instead of my heels. It took a little time to get used to the new
style. In fact, I am still working on it. And sometimes I wasn't sure
exactly what I was doing. But just running barefoot on a grass field
will remind you how to run the correct way. This is a perfect way to
train your feet. Take off running across the football field or park in
your bare feet.
According to some new research, running barefoot or running in
minimal shoes places less stress on your body. Your knees, lower back,
hips, etc. all benefit from the lower stress of running on your
forefoot or midfoot instead of your heels. Running on your heels also
takes more energy since the heel strike acts as a brake to your forward
The Vibram Five Finger shoes are the closest thing I have found to
running barefoot. They offer protection from glass and small rocks.
They allow you to feel the ground beneath. And it's amazing how much
you learn about your running style and your body by feeling the ground.
Your feet will tell you if you are running correctly and efficiently. I
also know right away when I am starting to convert back to my old
style. My heels start hurting! Oh by the way, people are getting up to
2,000 miles in a pair of Vibrams.
Now that I have completed a half marathon and recently the River Run
10K, I will never go back to regular running shoes. I love the feeling
of flying over the ground. Running like my feet were intended to do.
Only time will tell if the injuries stay away. But in the mean time, I
enjoy running again. And that's the important thing!
By the way, my life changes weren't all about running. I have also
changed my diet to the Paleo diet. After a lot of research, it made a
lot of sense too. If you want more info on what I have found on either
Paleo or running barefoot, please let me know and I can send you the
Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the
same thing over and over again and expecting different results".
I wanted 2010 to be different running experience for me. I committed
to focus on three areas of improvement to break through some PR
barriers that have plagued me the last few years. Try something
Increase my weekly mileage average of 35-40 miles to 45-55 miles a
week. I'm happy to say that my mileage is up (I've topped out at a 65
Give it all I have on my hard days. Refocus on my tempo, hill and speed work.
And finally - To ignore the voices. Trust in my training, stay positive, know that it will hurt and ignore the rest.
My first test in 2010 was March 27th during the Rock the Parkway
Half Marathon in Kansas City. My half best was 1:30:51 which I
accomplished two years back at the ripe age of 46. On a cold, windy,
rainy morning (not sure I've ever been that cold and wet during a run)
I ran a 1:29:35; a new PR! I felt I was on to something.
One week later, on April 3rd, I ran the Wichita Easter
Sun Run 10K. Previous best was 40:52 back in 2004 sometime. With my
confidence at an all-time high from the half, I ran a 39:25. OK, now I
know I was on the right track. I was rocking the PR world... so I thought.
April 25th. The Johnston's Wichita Half Marathon. I was
still training but my life was a little more chaotic with coaching
middle school track, things picking up at work, and all-day meets on
Saturday's. But... I did do well in KC under difficult conditions so the
Wichita half would be another PR with my goal of breaking 1:29. I cross
the finish line in 1:31:45. What? 1:31:45? Not even close.
I've added number four to my 2010 list of improvements. Cherish the
PR. All of us experience the ups and downs of training; and we're
always subjected to the unexpected. We're in control, but only to a
point. I think the smart runner recognizes this fact and adjusts not
only their training, but also their expectations to best suit the
current conditions in training, family, and life. Work hard, train
hard, be a good person and when the PR comes around, don't look a gift
horse in the mouth; be proud of the moment knowing it doesn't come
I started running about 5 years ago in July 2005. Like many others,
I was looking for a way to lose some weight and get in better shape. I
was 31 and was experiencing the slowing metabolism that I was dreading
and it was time to get moving. Once I started running I quickly fell in
love with it, namely the feeling you get after a good run which I found
I set distance goals for myself and finished my first half marathon
in October 2006 which I followed up with my first triathlon in July
2007. It was then that I set my sights on that big prize, 26.2. I
completed the 2009 Disney Marathon in just under 5 hours, a time I was
more than happy with as it was respectable for a first timer but still
left a lot of room for improvement. In a decision that I would come to
regret, I decided to take some time off after that race. I am just now
getting back into the running routine and can count on two hands the
number of times I have run since finishing the marathon.
A hidden blessing in being stationary for that long is that I get to "rediscover" running. Specifically, all those little things that come
with being a runner that combine to form what I call the "Running
Feeling". Here is a list of those things and I imagine you , as a
fellow runner, can relate to most of them:
Leaving the house to get in an early morning run and immediately
being overcome by the quiet and calmness that is only broken with the
sounds of your shoe strikes.
Seeing the world come to life during a morning run as the sun
illuminates the landscape, birds begin to chirp, and people start to
awake and emerge.
The glisten on lawns from water that has just been dispensed from the sprinkler system.
The hearty greetings from other early risers who are on their
morning walks or out doing some gardening before the heat takes over.
Passing another runner and gesturing with a wave or nod (I have yet
to encounter a rude runner who does not wave), knowing you are both
part of a larger running community that supports and helps each other.
Running during the hottest parts of the day and seeing the
expressions on the faces of others, especially those in their cars with
the A/C on and drinking the large iced coffee they just picked up.
The camaraderie that comes with being in the corrals waiting for
the gun to go off with people sharing tips on the course and exchanging
stories of other races each has done.
The exhilaration that comes at the end of a hard or long run and sets the tone for the rest of my day.
I had forgotten about these little things until I started my journey
back and now I am filled with excitement as I think about them and
realized how much I missed them.
So you have already run more than a few Fulls and are considering
the adventure of an ultramarathon. How do you start the process to
prepare for an ultra? You already have the ability within! The need to
lengthen the training runs and the time on your feet comes natural for
runners. Similar to your move from a Half marathon to a Full marathon.
Ultramarathon training slows the pace, and extends the mileage and time
on your feet. I also tend to run less number of days (approximately 4)
each week and let my body recover. You will not injure yourself on a
Try to run at least your long run on the type of terrain of your
ultra [trail, dirt road, pavement]. Also, if your course is hilly, like
the Heartland Spirit of the Prairie course, you will want to add hill
work to your training regimen. Downhills can be tough on a body but you
can properly prepare.
There are several sites that have ultramarathon training programs,
including Runner's World. Yell if you want Kevin or me to send you one.
One of the significant planning differences in moving to an ultra is
nutrition. In marathoning you easily survive on a mix of hydration
(water and Gatorade) and gels. Your body is already trained to utilize
all of the usual energy storage sources during a marathon. Because of
the additional race time compared to a Full [50k = +1 hour; 50-mile =
+4-6 hours; 100-mile = +16-24 hours] you will need more / significantly
more nutrition. You must experiment with nutrition on your training
runs to increase the probability of success with nutrition on race day.
Certain products with high sugar content that work for a Full, may tend
to upset your stomach when used for the prolonged period of an ultra.
Some ultras have required stops where you are weighed. If you have
lost too much weight, hence, you are not properly hydrated, etc., then
you may be pulled from the race.
Even though the aid stations in an ultra are typically well-stocked
with water, m&ms, potato chips, boiled potatoes with salt, bananas,
sandwiches, soups, pretzels, crackers, oranges, peanuts, pop, you need
to plan as if you are going to rely on your own nutrition. Remember
that you may have access to the use of drop bags and/or the ability to
have a crew meet you at certain designated stations, so plan
In an attempt to minimize certain sugars that can upset your
stomach, I have had good success using products made with maltodextrin.
You may want to try Hammer gels and Hammer's Endurolytes.
Equipment planning for an ultra usually differs from a Full, and
also the needs on every ultra are different. Typically ultras in this
area are not on pavement. You need to prepare for trail / cross
country. Depending upon your course, items to consider include:
Hydration belt / do not rely solely on the periodic aid station supplies
Trail shoes / especially if you run a course with rocks like
Flatrock you need toe guards and mid-sole support, + for water crossings
Gaiters / for rocky courses
iPod / there aren't any screaming crowds when total participants are less than 100
Headlamp / you usually start + finish in the dark
Course map / combined with your Garmin can help in the dark
Sunscreen / you will be on the course for a long time
Tape your toes and hot spots / if you are prone to blisters, plan on it
Toilet paper / you will be glad you have it if you need it
Camera / remember to Enjoy the Journey!
Ultras generally permit you to have drop bags and/or a crew. Pack
extra equipment to prepare for equipment failure, change of weather,
aid station issues, and whatever else may be thrown at you. Determine
in advance the plan for and logistics of drop bags and use of crews.
After my first 50-miler I experienced stomach pain. A friend told me
about the need to replenish sodium levels even after consuming salt
pills during the race. It took two cans of chicken and noodle soup for
me. Since that experience I now pack two cans of chicken broth. After
finishing the September 2009 Flatrock 50k and the October 2009
Heartland 50-mile, I drank two cans of chicken broth. It may not be
perfect but it works for me. You may never need the two cans, but it is
a cheap investment if you need them.
The Last Word(s)
Thank You again to Kevin for his efforts in promoting fitness and
running! Please encourage our youth and friends. Be aware that your
actions alone encourage others around you.
The reality is that I am not a good runner. Not at any distance.
However, I realized after running races five weekends in a row last
Fall with a friend (the Wichita half, Flatrock 50k trail ultra,
Rosstoberfest 5k in College Hill, Heartland 50-mile cross country ultra
and Wichita Full) that, for me, it truly is about Enjoying the Journey.
Not every race is for the time. Some races are for the experience. My
body was beat up and my wife is convinced that I am "a bit obsessive".
She is right and I thank her for putting up with me. However, I did
Enjoy the Journey!
Sometimes, fear and anxiety can get the best of us in running. The key is to know how to manage that fear and anxiety. As a result, here is a brief list of techniques that a runner can use to help manage their fears and every day anxieties.
Occasionally, you may become stressed when you have to run in an important event. When this happens, visualize yourself doing the task in your mind. For instance, you have to run in front of a large group of people in the next few days. Before the big day comes, imagine yourself doing the event in your mind. By doing this, you will be better prepared to perform for real when the time comes. Self-Visualization is a great way to reduce the fear and stress of a coming situation.
Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem. A person could read the newspaper, listen to some music or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. This is a great technique to use right before your next event.
Another technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that you can carry around with you. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you. Whenever you feel stressed, open up your small notebook and read those statements. This will help to manage your negative thinking before your running event.
In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn't work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety and you decide to take a small walk before your running event to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.
Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.
Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to: www.managingfear.com
January 22, 2011 by Mark Chamberlin, Race Director
On Sunday, February 6, RUN WICHITA will sponsor and conduct the 19th annual Super Bowl Sunday 4-Mile Run in Linwood Park. Against the back drop of big, corporately sponsored races, the Super Bowl Run remains a low-key, affordable event that exists for the pure joy of running. This year the entry fee remains the same, $10 for members of RUN WICHITA and $15 for non-members. There is a $5 discount for anyone wanting to join the club or renew their membership. It is race-day registration only and all participants get an official RUN WICHITA ball cap in either navy or pink. The charm of the event is in its simplicity. Show up, enter, line-up, run, have fun.
There are no awards, no trophies or medals. Results are taped to the walls of the Linwood Park Recreation Center shortly after the last runner is in.
Despite its simplicity the race still requires a handful of dedicated volunteers who show up for course set up, timing, registration, finish line and results. Most of the volunteers are members of the RUN WICHITA board of directors and their friends. I want to use this space to thank them for their time and expertise.
Linwood Park have proven a good location. The park department staff is always helpful and seemingly glad to see us. The simple out-and-back course is easy to manage and safe to run. It nicely accommodates our race fields which have ranged in size from 80-250. And our runners, as we've come to expect, are always in good moods, respectful of the facilities and grateful for the opportunity to burn some calories prior to their respective Super Bowl parties .
It is amazing how time flies. The first Super Bowl Run was January 31, 1993. The board wanted to do a race that embraced the grass roots passion of local road racing that some of us were fortunate to experience in the mid-and-late 70's. If you missed that period in Wichita's running history, come out Sunday and enjoy.