Monthly Archives: June 2015

The perfect shoe?

brooks pure

Flat feet, high arches, over pronation, supination, and heel striking, as runners we hear many recommendations on what type of shoe we need based upon our foot type, but what does the research say?

Thirty-five to fifty-six percent of runners are injured each year. The type of shoe you run in, has little impact on the frequency of injuries. That’s right my fellow runners, how often you are injured doesn’t have much if anything to do with the type of shoes you run in.

A research study done in North Carolina with 700 runners, all of which had been running for more than ten years, and who ran approximately 20 miles a week showed no difference in injury rate regardless of wearing stability shoes, motion control shoes, or cushion shoes, Gross (2011). There was also no difference in injury rate based upon heel, mid-foot, and forefoot strikers.

Everyone thinks that running injuries are caused by impact forces and pronation issues.  Pronation is looked at as being a problem because the extra rotation of the foot causes more rotation in the ankle, muscles and tendons. There have been a few studies, which show that there is no difference in injury rate for marathon runners who over pronate Wen et al. (1997), Wen et al. (1998), and Nigg et al. (2000).

There have been studies on whether or not motion control shoes actually stop pronation as well. The resounding answer is No they do not change the way the foot and lower leg muscles and tendons move Stacoff (2001), Bulter (2007), and Dixon (2007).

All right so pronation isn’t the culprit we thought it was, what about impact forces? The running community has long believed that the greater the force when you hit the ground the more likely you are to suffer from injuries because of the increased stress to the foot and leg.

Studies on whether or not cushioned shoes actually reduce internal and external impact forces show that there is little to no reduction in the forces, Nigg (2000).

Another study, Nigg (1997), showed that there is not a difference in chronic injuries rate between high impact runners and low impact runners. Nor does the type of surface you run on make a difference in injury rate. To make this even more confounding, impact forces increase bone density!

Why doesn’t  impact forces have an impact on frequency of injury? Because your body adapts to the surface it is coming into contact with Nigg (2000) and O’Flynn (1996). The idea is that when you impact the ground, your foot sends a signal to your brain saying how hard the surface is and your body adjusts using your leg joints (which act like a spring: hip, knee, and ankle).  There is also research showing that choosing your shoes based upon your arch height does not reduce injuries either Knapik (2009)

When  you have a cushioned shoe, your body just takes the extra cushion into account and remains more stiff through your leg. Regardless of the amount of cushion under your foot, you impact the ground with the same force because of the sensory feedback from foot to brain.

IF shoes don’t help prevent injuries, what does? Training properly by increasing miles slowly, no more than 10% a week. Misalignment of joints, think about seeing a chiropractor. Tight soft tissues, use your foam roller.

Okay, so which shoes should I buy? The ones that feel the most comfortable. Try on different types of shoes and go for a run around the block or on the treadmill for a quarter mile. If they feel good, buy them.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Forty-six

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A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Mitchel, Melanie, and Seth stood there looking at the doe that Mitchel had drug from behind the rock.

Melanie lowered her gun, but she didn’t holster it. It hung at her side a reassuring weight cradled in her hand. Something inside her told her not to holster the gun just yet, maybe it was Daisy’s reaction to Seth. Why would Daisy growl at Seth with a dead deer so nearby? She didn’t know. Something wasn’t right with this situation.

Mitchel stepped in front of her putting his hands on her shoulders. His eyes met hers. “Let’s go see how the cabin is coming along.”

She nodded and slipped the gun back into the holster. She turned to go with Mitchel behind her. Daisy didn’t follow right away. After Melanie and Mitchel had gone a few paces back through the brush, Melanie felt her nose her fingers.

The cabin greeted them first. It was small and built from pine logs. Melanie could see Zachariah’s house further on through the trees. It was about three times the size of the cabin and also made from pine logs. Daisy sniffed around the door and squatted to pee. The near black eyes glanced up at Melanie.

The cabin smelled of Pine-Sol and Jennifer had made up all the beds. There were two sets of bunk beds against either wall. Jennifer and Sam had moved a suitcase for each of them into the room and slid them beneath the bed. The curtains were tied to the side and the windows were open. A hot breeze stifling blew into the room.

Daisy jumped up onto one of the lower bunks, circled twice, and laid down. She wagged her little nub of a tail and closed her eyes. Melanie turned to Mitchel and buried her face in his chest. He wrapped her in his arms. She squeezed silent tears from her eyes. She didn’t know who to trust anymore. Seth was Mitchel’s brother he wouldn’t hurt any of them. He wouldn’t have hurt Holly, would he? She wasn’t sure.

She was tired and hungry. She wanted to sleep until all this was over and wake up into her past in Blue River. Three months had gone by since the passing of the Justice Law. She and Holly should be starting their senior year of high school. Mitchel should be a freshman in college. It all seemed like a dream from so long ago.

Mitchel stroked her walnut hair that nearly reached her butt now. She looked up into his brown eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said.

He kissed her head. “Everything is a mess and we’re all tired.” He pulled her even tighter to him. They melted into one another.

That evening, they sat around Zachariah’s dining table. Seth served up the doe he had killed that afternoon and butchered himself. Zachariah had given them full access and use of his home. Melanie couldn’t understand how or why he would do this for total strangers. Even before the Justice Law passed such trust and hospitality was near gone from the world. Ever since the war, people had grown more and more suspicious of one another. And who could blame them things had gone downhill fast and as far as Melanie could tell they continued to plummet without the bottom in sight.

Zachariah’s son, Ryan Thunderhawk, joined them for dinner. He sat across the table from Melanie and Mitchel. He was a Weber County police detective on the homicide unit.

Ryan hadn’t been surprised that his father had invited them to stay in the cabin apparently this was not the first time Zachariah had invited travelers the sanctuary of his land while they waited for repairs to a vehicle.

The food was good. The best they had eaten in a long while. Everyone, but the Thunderhawks, went for a second plate.

Melanie poured gravy over her potatoes, green beans, and the venison while listening to the laughter behind her as Ryan told another story about when he was a new officer. She smiled forgetting the world outside that one room at least for a time.

Seth stepped up to the counter beside her. “How do you like my kill? Pretty good, huh?”

Melanie turned to face him. She looked him straight in the face. “You’ve always been a good hunter Seth. No one’s every questioned that.”

He broke off the eye contact to slide another slice of venison onto his plate with his knife. “Yeah, but I think this is the best doe I’ve brought down.”

He scooped mashed potatoes onto his plate and started pouring gravy on everything. Melanie watched his hands move. The left one terribly scared by the same flames that had burned Mitchel’s right hand. One of their father’s gifts, the only thing he really left them after his brutal murder in Blue River.

Seth glanced up at her. “I’d never hurt you or Mitchel, Melbelle. I hope you know that. Never.”

He looked sad when he said it and she wanted to believe he wouldn’t hurt any of them, but that wasn’t what he had said.

Filling the effects of eating too much, they all said good night and thank you to the Thunderhawks and walked the short distance to the cabin. The temperature outside had only dropped a few degrees. Sleeping would not come easy with the heat.

Sam clambered onto a top bunk bed. “This is my spot!”

“You’re sleeping down here with me, silly,” Jennifer said moving to lift her off the bed. “That’s Melanie’s bed.

Seth jumped onto the other top bunk and turned his back toward them.

“It’s okay mom. I’ll sleep down here next to Mitchel.”

Jennifer pursed her lips and forced air through her nose, “Well, Daisy will need you down here too, I suppose,” and she let the issue drop.

As Melanie snuggled up to Mitchel on the bottom bunk, she couldn’t erase the image of Seth covered in blood. She couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right with the situation. Daisy kicked her feet and growled in her sleep. Melanie draped her arm over the side and caressed the Rottweiler’s smooth head.

What in the Hell Happened?

injured runner

Many times when we get injured and have to take time off from running, we spend hours and days trying to figure out how we got injured in the first place. Of course, sometimes you know exactly what caused your injury because you fell, twisted wrong, or something such as that happened.

But for many runners, we have no real idea what the hell happened. All we know is something hurts and we need to take time off or that something is going to get worse. We are left with little clues which we must piece together to figure out the most likely cause to our injury.

If we don’t figure it out, we run the risk of causing the same injury down the road. So while we sit and rehab ourselves, we ask many questions and change many things to try to figure it out. Was it my shoes? Was it not stretching? Should I do a warm up? Do I need to add strength training or am I doing too much? Maybe, it wasn’t running at all, but the cross training I’ve been doing? Am I overtraining? Did I increase my miles too quickly? I am doing too much speed or hill training? Do I need an insole?

We want to get back to running so badly that we throw everything we know at the injury including but not limited to pain medication, ice, foam rolling, stretching, new shoes, insoles, more or less cross training, more or less strength training, reduction in miles, softer surfaces, and compression clothing.

All of these are great and one or a combination of them will likely help you get back to running sooner rather than later (unless it’s a stress fracture or something equally as serious). However, by trying so many things at the same time we actually hinder our ability to figure out what caused it in the first place and which treatment actually helped.

Why do we care if we are back running? Because you don’t want it to happen again.

If you start all of these things, you’re unlikely to maintain all of them or any of them for any extended amount of time (more than 3-4 weeks). As soon as you feel better, you are going to stop. This places you at a pretty high risk of re-injury within the next six months or so.

So what should we do?

Start with RICE, Rest Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Then ask yourself if you changed anything in your routine recently. If you have, start there. If you increased your miles, back off them and build more slowly. If you went with a new type of shoe, switch back. If you added strength training, try reducing the weight and/or repetitions.

If you haven’t changed anything, it’s a little trickier. Many strains are caused by an imbalance in muscle strength or the opposing muscles are tighter, possibly both. Adding in light strength and foam rolling to balance out the muscles and loosen them up is the best place to start.

Use light weights or body weight with 10-15 repetitions and make sure you do both sides. The problem is unlikely to be your shoes or the surface that you run on, unless you have significantly increased your miles and in that case, decrease your miles and build more slowly.

And sometimes, we are just not goigt to know what in the hell happened.

Power Hiking and Speed Walking

trail running 2

Many ultramarathons twist through the mountain forests on single and double track trails. Their race directors pride themselves on their ability to find routes that climb toward craggy peaks and descend through challenging terrain. Two skills will help you in your journey, power hiking and speed walking.

Power hiking is and essential skill when traversing mountainous one hundred milers especially for us middle of the pack runners, but like everything else becoming an efficient power hiker takes practice. Hiking up steep slopes is often faster and more energy efficient than trying to run up. For this reason, power hiking should be incorporated into your training program at least once a month, more often if you can manage it. You want to be able to hold a steady pace on the climbs even if your heart rate increases, keep climbing, you can recover on the descent.

If you don’t have mountains near you try using stadium stairs or climbing multiple flights of stairs in a building or parking garage. Don’t run up them. You can run down the stairs, but the idea is to maintain a steady pace going up. You’re going to have to do this many times. You can also try to find a steep hill and apply the same process.

The same techniques used in climbing and descending while running will keep you on your feet when power hiking watch your footing and keep your weight on your heels when you descent.

Speed walking also takes practice. You will use speed walking in the later parts of the race alternating between speed walking and running. Sometimes speed walking is faster than running in the late stages of a race particularly if the impact is causing you pain. Keep track of your pace and use whichever is faster for you.  Your steps should be shorter than normal walking and you need to swing your hips a bit along with your arms. Your feet will follow the pace of your arms swings, so get them moving and keep them moving.

You should be using speed walking in your training as well. Try adding it into your training routine a couple times a month. Alternating between running, power hiking, and speed walking will keep your  muscles fresh as you recruit different supporting muscle groups.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Forty-Five

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Episode 45

A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all, but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Mitchel worked alongside Zachariah Thunderhawk handing him tools and removing bolts that Zachariah pointed out. Melanie sat against the wall sweat dripping down her legs and back. She glanced up from the car magazine. Black grime streaked both Mitchel and Zachariah’s hands and forearms.

“So you think it needs a new belt and radiator?” Mitchel asked.

“Yep, sure do,” Zachariah said.

Melanie sprang up. “How much will that cost?”

“It’ll cost you more in time than in money, I’m afraid.” Zachariah’s lips tugged downward at the corners. “Which I believe is more valuable to you, Ms. Craig.”

“Melanie,” she said.

He nodded. “Melanie.”

“You are right though, I’ve always valued time over money.” She turned away to go find her mom and Sam. People who have lost as much as I, know the value of time. Melanie’s lip quivered for an instant as the memory of Holly flash across her mind. She scuffed her shoe in the dirt. She could feel Mitchel watching her. She knew he was worried about her.

“You don’t always have to be the strong one with me, Mel. I can be strong for us sometimes too,” he had whispered to her in the predawn hours. She knew that was true. He could be strong. He was strong. His loss was as great, if not greater than hers, which is why she couldn’t crumble in front of him, at least not yet. She had to get them to the safe zone. Then she could let down her guard.

She pulled her head up and straightened her back. Mom and Sam were cleaning up the cabin and getting it ready for them to spend the next few days here. She walked down the dirt trail through the aspen trees surrounding the lake.

Daisy came bounding down the trail toward her, ears flopping and wagging her welcome. Daisy came to a sliding halt and sat, nubby tail brushing the dirt. Melanie reached down and rubbed Daisy’s head and ears. The huge Rottweiler thumped her foot and cocked her head to the side.

Daisy stood turning toward the lake and hunkered down growling and baring her teeth. Melanie turned her head without standing straight. Nothing. Then she heard it. Splashing in the water. Melanie didn’t move. No, it wasn’t just waves.

Melanie’s hand wrapped around the grip of her 9 mm. She unsnapped it and withdrew it from the holster pointing it toward the ground.

“Stay,” she said to Daisy.

Melanie crouched low and began moving into the trees and toward the lake. The splashing continued. Melanie flicked her eyes to the ground watching for roots and sticks. As she neared the lake, she stopped and got even lower. There was a man at the edge of the lake washing something in the water. A hunting knife was stuck through the belt at his back.

Melanie would recognize that body anywhere. He was almost identical to his twin. Only the way he moved and his voice was different.

“Seth?”

Time slowed as he turned his brown eyes on her. Mitchell’s eyes on the surface, but it was not Mitchell who looked back at her.

He stood quickly and rubbed his hands on his pants. Melanie looked him up and down. Blood streaked his forearms and was splattered on his shoes and lower pant legs.

She brought her gun up a few inches. “Wha” her voice trailed off. She tried again. “Why are you,” her voice failed her again.

He looked around. Melanie’s eyes followed his to the rifle that lay against a rock.

“Don’t.” She said and raised her gun another inch.

He smiled at her. “Melanie, I’ve been hunting. What did you think I had been doing?” He raised his hands and took a step toward her.

A deep growl came from behind her. Melanie felt Daisy brush up against her leg.

Seth stopped. “The doe is over there.” He pointed to the bushes behind the rifle. “I’ll show you.” He took a step toward the gun.

Daisy barked and snapped at him.

“Whoa, Whoa.” He held up his hands again. “Shit Melanie! You go look then.”

“Melanie?” Mitchel called. “Melanie?”

He was close probably on the trail. She didn’t move. She and Seth stared at one another.

“I’m over her Mitch,” she called without turning from Seth or lowering her gun.

“Where?” there was rustling in the brush and cracking sticks behind her.

“Here,” she said.

He came stumbling through. “What are you.” He stopped once he reached her side. He looked back and forth between Melanie and his twin brother. Daisy growled way down deep in her throat and bared her teeth.

“What’s going on?”

Seth frowned and flipped his right hand toward Melanie. He dropped the other to his side with a loud sigh.

“I found him here covered in blood and washing it off in the water. Mitchel he has blood everywhere.”

Seth held up his hands in surrender. “I was hunting. The doe is over there on the other side of the rifle.”

Mitchel looked at his twin for a few seconds and then went over to the rifle. He picked up the gun and emptied the two shells onto the ground. He stepped over the rock it had been leaning on and pushed aside the long grass.

A gutted doe laid among the grass. Black glossy eyes wide.

Run for Home

Race for Home

Together with the Volunteers of America, I organized a 5k and 10k race, which was on June 13, 2015. Organizing this event was a lot more work than I had anticipated.

The race was a huge success. We had 240 runners!

As a first time race director and this being our inaugural event, I anticipated being in the negative funds wise, but we weren’t. The cost of organizing the race was approximately $5,000.00. The money raised from the race will support the first overnight homeless youth shelter in Utah. There will be many onsite services including education, mental health, and substance abuse for the youth.

Run for Home 6.13.15 003

We didn’t want to just bring a race to the community surrounding where the shelter will be built, but to bring the community together to support the youth in need. To do this we included a breakfast and raffle in our event. Every runner was given a raffle ticket and more tickets could be purchased. All the prizes were donations from various vendors within the city.

Of course, we had minor complications and last minute arrangements to scramble to get into place, but it was all worth it as I stood at the finish line watching runners come across knowing I had helped make it happen.

Run for Home 6.13.15 005

The homeless youth shelter is a project I am passionate about because I was a homeless youth in Utah from the ages of 13-16. I struggled with the same issues the youth who are out there now. Access to services will provide them with opportunities I never had.

When you are living on the streets it’s easy to fall into a hopeless cycle of self-destruction as you meet road block after road block trying to fit the pieces of your life back together into some semblance of a whole picture.

All of the finishers received a medal, which was a dog tag with the VOA symbol on one side and the name of the race and date on the other side.

Run 4 home medal 001

I chose the dog tag as the medal because one of the first things you lose as a homeless youth is your identity, who you are. You become nameless and faceless in the eyes of others and yourself. For the youth on the streets, the most important rediscovery is that identity of self, and their singular importance in this world.

For a soldier, a dog tag is the last piece of home and their final identifier. It makes them different and an individual among their brothers who is next to them with the same haircut and same uniform moving in unison. The dog tag is a reminder that each of these kids is not nameless and is not faceless, but a person who has lost their self and their way.

I know we are all busy and not everyone can donate their time to those in need, but even just looking these kids in the face when you speak to them or acknowledging their presence as you pass them on the sidewalk identifies them as another human being and it only takes a second or two.

 

Bryce Canyon 100

graduation and Bryce 100 047Mile 48 ish

Bryce Canyon 100 was beautiful and challenging. The altitude is between 7500 feet and 9500 feet, and even though I live at 4500 ft. climbing at altitude definitely has an impact. The race is mostly along single-track trails along the Thunder mountain trail and Grandview trail. There were 13 aid stations on this out and back course. Crew could access their runners at five of the 13 aid stations and pacers could join their runners at the turn around point 51.5 miles into the race. The total elevation gain for the 100 mile course was 18,500 feet, which means we descended by the same amount.

graduation and Bryce 100 040Mile 23 ish

As anyone, who has spent time in the high mountains, knows weather can change quickly and drastically. Bryce 100 was no different. We began the race at 6:00 am after being shuttled in to the starting line. The first few miles are “rolling hills” in and out of small canyons. From there you climb through the hoodoos and get a little ridge-ish climbing. The largest and most technical climbs to the highest point of the race were between the second and third aid station.

As a two other runners and myself were nearing the third aid station it began to rain. The rain increased after we reached the aid station and, knowing that mountain rains don’t typically last long, we decided to wait it out rather than get soaking wet. We were not front of the pack runners. We just wanted to finish within the thirty-six hour time limit. The rain soon turned to hail. This rain to hail pattern would happen two more times throughout the race.

The slick sticky mud made the trails more difficult to negotiate at some points and a little dangerous at others. At mile sixty, my pacer and I reached Straight Canyon Aid station at 2:00 am. This was the one time I considered dropping and not because I didn’t think I could make it to the finish. I knew that I could, and I felt great. I didn’t hurt and wasn’t having any stomach issues. My concern was the mud-slick narrow trails following the edge of the mountains. I sat at the aid station for a few minutes thinking about this and considering the risk to not only myself but my pacers as well.

graduation and Bryce 100 051 my pacer, Robert, and I at mile 85

One of the aid station crew looked at me as he was eating a grilled cheese sandwich and said, “You look good why are you still here?”

“I’m a little concerned about the trail conditions,” I said.

“Do you feel good, like you could finish?”

“I know I can finish.”

“Then get out of here.”

And that settled it. I pulled on long pants and a rain jacket and we headed out into the light drizzling rain.

I did make it. I crossed the finish line at 35 hours 42 minutes with a smile on my face.

I had a lot of anxiety going into the Bryce 100. I spent the week before the race waking up in the middle of the night worried about my fear of heights, and whether or not it would cripple my race. The only time I struggled a bit with the heights was on the return trip during the last ten miles there is the ridge-ish climbs. I didn’t have trouble with them when I first went out, but coming back was different. The wind had kicked up to the point where you can feel it pushing you a little off balance. Dark grey storm clouds filled the sky and thunder rolled through them. Rain started and then stopped only to start again, not much, but enough to let you know that it was coming soon.

graduation and Bryce 100 017Mile 6 ish

I continually told myself, I had done ridge climbs before and summited peaks at 11,000 feet, and this helped a little but the anxiety would raise again. I’ve been telling myself I would deal with this height issue for a few years and have never done it. It has yet to stop me from registering for a race and it hasn’t prevented me from finishing. I’m just really uncomfortable and stare at my feet when I make these climbs. I know I am missing one of the most amazing part of running these types of races, the view from the top.

So this summer I am determined to deal with this height issue, and I’m telling all of you so I won’t back out of it.

graduation and Bryce 100 031