Slow Motion Running

 Posted by on June 19, 2012  No Responses »
Jun 192012
 
chappelle-med

If there is one thing Dave Chappelle had right, it’s that watching things in slow motion is always better.  Whether it is a music video, or a person getting slapped in the face, for whatever reason, slow motion video is always enjoyable to watch.  Recent innovations in slow motion video capture have increased the power of the effect so much so that it now offers a more informative view on what happens when a foot lands on the ground or when a baseball bat hits a baseball.  The effect can be used for science, comedy, music, movies, sports and yes, even for running.

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 3

 Posted by on January 8, 2012  No Responses »
Jan 082012
 
Haunted Hustle Medal

The 2011 10K Haunted Hustle medal.

Once the pains of calf-ocolypse had finally been soothed, we decided it was time to get back into the swing of things and sign up for our first 10k race.  This would be Meagan’s first race and my first race in over 10 years, but as intimidating as it was, the decision was one of the best we could have made because of the motivation it provided for us.  We chose to run in the Haunted Hustle, a late-October race in Middleton, WI where runners often dress up in Halloween costumes.  Many people are there just to have fun, which takes some of the pressure away and makes it the perfect race for beginners like us.  This race, however, is also a Boston Marathon qualifier, so it was equally great for us to be around a few of the more serious runners and watch them as they finished the race.  We signed up on August 18th, 2011. The run would take place just 2 1/2 months later on October 29th.  This provided us with ample time to begin upping our mileage and increasing the number of times we ran per week.  Before we signed up for the race, the longest run we had ever been on was a 5K, so over the next 2 months we had to work towards doubling our mileage.

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Sketchy Skechers

 Posted by on December 27, 2011  No Responses »
Dec 272011
 

When I was finishing up some last-minute Christmas shopping last week, I was surprised to come across the advertisement featured on the right. It seems that the increased attention and interest being paid to the minimalist running movement has prompted even Skechers to come out with their own version of a minimalist shoe: the Skechers GORun. The shoe appears, at first glance, to be very similar to the Nike Free, which was a disappointment to some minimalist fans because of its heel-toe drop of up to 7.2 mm (in the Free Run), its relatively thick sole, and the presence of a significant amount of arch support. However, unlike the Nike Free, the Skechers GORun has a lower heel-toe drop of 4 mm, meant to encourage a more natural stride, and are significantly lighter-weight, so maybe Skechers is taking its cues from the more minimal New Balance Minimus line. That being said, the shoes do appear to have a rather thick sole compared to some of their minimalist counterparts, but I have yet to see the shoe in person, so this may be an illusion created by extending the rubber of the sole up the side of the shoe for style purposes. Continue reading »

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The Vibram Transition: Chapter 2

 Posted by on December 21, 2011  3 Responses »
Dec 212011
 

In this post, I present the second chapter in our ongoing series detailing our transition into running in Vibram FiveFingers. Here, I will address the more painful (and, sad to say, self-inflicted) parts of transitioning into minimalist running that Steve and I dealt with while we worked to re-train our feet (and really every other part of our lower body) to run in Vibram FiveFingers.

Heel striking: Bad. Forefoot strike: Good! Images courtesy of focuspilates.wordpress.com & vibramfivefingers.com

At this point, you’ve probably seen all of the advice and warnings posted online, including on Vibram’s website, about taking it slow while you transition into minimalist footwear. Most runners spend years (or even just a month, in our case) heel-striking in heavily-padded, more typical modern running shoes. Some even believe that this is a natural way to run and argue that one cannot run on pavement, or, in some cases, at all, without the aid of padded shoes. Recently, however, more and more evidence is being uncovered suggesting that heel-striking, along with the wearing of padded running shoes, actually results in the shortening, weakening, and stiffening of important muscles/tendons/bones in the foot and leg that would otherwise be used if you were to run with a more natural (re: mid-foot or forefoot) foot strike.

If you’ve ever tried running completely barefoot (even if you just take a short jog around your apartment), you’ll quickly notice that your body naturally avoids landing heel-first, and instead switches to a mid-foot or forefoot strike. Amazing, right? That begs the question: “Why should running for exercise be any different?”. Therein lies the basis for the minimalist running/footwear movement: shoes should provide some protection for your feet, but they should not compromise your natural stride and the natural movement of your feet and legs. Continue reading »

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