Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Got a Treadmill? Got Speedwork!

Many runners at some point will find themselves in a rut. They’ve stagnated. Same mileage at the same intensity, week after week. They may even be putting on a few pounds even though they’re running. So, what’s up?

Well, the better question to ask might be “What’s not up?” Once you’ve become an established runner, it doesn’t take long for your body to acclimate to the demands you’re putting upon it. So, while that 5-miler you do every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday may be providing you some good base mileage and an aerobic workout, it’s probably not doing much to help make you faster, fitter, stronger. Nor is it doing much to ramp up your metabolism, the key in keeping those pounds off.

What’s the answer? SPEEDWORK! One weekly interval workout will do wonders to jack up your metabolism helping to shed those few pounds. It will also help increase your VO2Max, which is your body’s ability take in and use oxygen at the muscle level where it’s used to make energy. That weekly interval workout will also help push out your lactate threshold. Lactate is a byproduct of energy production. Ever get that burning sensation in your legs when you speed up and run hard? That’s due to lactate buildup. Usually the body is able to clear it out of the blood and there’s no problem. But when you ramp-up speed or intensity too quickly, the lactate can build up quicker than the body is able to clear it out of the bloodstream. Exposing your body to faster runs can gradually push out that lactate threshold, so it will take longer before you feel that burn.

So, I know some of you are saying, “I’d love to add speed work, but I don’t live near a track.” Well, if you own a treadmill, have a membership to a gym with treadmills, or have friend or family member with a treadmill, then you can get in an awesome interval workout.

An interval is nothing more than running fast for a certain distance and then running slow for the same distance or for a specific time. Typically a short interval (like a 200m interval) is run at a pace that’s about 30 seconds slower than your 5K race pace. Longer intervals (like the 800m or 1200m) are typically run at 30 seconds slower than you 10K race pace.

Does the math to figure out the pace for such a short distance make your brain hurt? Don’t worry. I’m with you. Put that calculator down and use The McMillan Running Calculator instead. Simply select the distance (5K or 10K) and then put in your race time and hit “calculate.” The next screen will tell you paces for every training distance you’d ever need to know based on your 5K or 10K pace.

Most interval workouts use some combination of 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 1000m, and 1200m intervals. Each fast interval is followed by a slow recovery interval. The recovery interval isn’t based on a certain distance. It’s based on time. The shorter the fast interval distance, the shorter the recovery interval time. The longer the fast interval distance, the longer the recovery interval time. For example, a runner doing a 6x800m workout would take about a 90-second recovery interval jog/walk between each fast 600m interval. A runner doing a 4x1600m workout would take about a 3-minute recovery interval jog/walk between each fast 1600m interval.

Most treadmills have an oval track diagram on the control display providing a wonderful visual to track your progress as you run your intervals. If you’ve never run intervals on a track you may not be familiar with the typical interval distances. The key below can help you better understand the distances you’re running as you’re looking at the track display on your treadmill monitor.

• 200m = 1/2 lap (1/8 mile on the treadmill)
• 400m = 1 lap (1/4 mile on the treadmill)
• 800m = 2 laps (1/2 mile on the treadmill)
• 1000m = 2.5 laps (5/8 mile on the treadmill)
• 1200m = 3 laps (3/4 mile on the treadmill)
• 1600m = 4 laps (1 mile on the treadmill)

Your body can acclimate to intervals just like it does when running that same old 5-miler three times a week. So, mix-up your interval workouts. Keep your body guessing by varying the interval distances each week. There’s no right or wrong way. Just remember to insert a recovery interval in between each fast interval. Below are some sample workouts for you to incorporate once a week into your normal running routine. 
  • Workout #1—5x1000m @5K race pace with 2-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout #2—6x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout #3—Do Three sets of the following:  1x1200m @ 10K race pace with 1-minute recovery, 1x400m @5K race pace with a 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) before repeating the set
  • Workout#4—4x1600m @10K race pace with 3-minute recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout#5—8x800m @10K race pace with 90-second recovery (walk or jog) in between
  • Workout#6—400m @ 5K race pace (30sec recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 1600m @10K race pace (3-min recovery); 1200m @10K race pace (2-min recovery); 800 @ 10K race pace (90-sec recovery); 400m @ 5K race pace

Your total mileage for an interval workout may be no more than 3-4 miles, but you’re getting a lot more out of this workout than your regular 5-miler. Think of the interval workout as a “Quality Workout.”

To better simulate outside running, be sure to set your treadmill to an incline of 1° or 2°. This will help account for uneven terrain of outside running.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Win a Free Entry to the 13.1® - Los Angeles Half-Marathon!

Looking for a great winter half-marathon to run on the west coast? Well RunnerDude has a great contest for you! Enter now for a chance at a free entry to the 13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles taking place on January 16, 2011.

The 13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles will begin on the Venice Boardwalk  and end at the historic Windward  Circle in Venice for and unforgettable race experience. Amidst ocean views participants will enjoy a Hollywood themed half marathon celebrating the best of Los Angeles.

Both first-timer friendly and perfect for marathoners in training, 13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles will offer a scenic and festive run along a closed course with fully supported aid stations, live entertainment, and medals for all finishers. Participants and spectators are encouraged to wear costumes and enjoy a race “Where the Party Meets the Pavement”. 

13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles will take place on Sunday, January 16, 2001 beginning at 7:13AM on the Venice Boardwalk at Rose Avenue. The walker-friendly course will remail open for 3 hours and 30 minutes, a 16 minute/mile pace. For more information on 13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles visit

Racers are invited to join the official benefiting charity, Team World Vision to raise funds for clean water projects in Kenya and Malawi while training with local team groups. There is no fundraising minimum and team members will enjoy a Pre-Race Team Dinner, Pep Rally on race morning, and Post-Race Celebration Cookout. For more information on Team World Vision please visit

The race is organized by the US Road Sports & Entertainment Group, a health and wellness company dedicated to the production of world-class endurance events. The mission of US Road Sports is to offer an unparalleled participant sports experience that showcases host communities and endures as a deeply valued local asset through events that are a part of the city’s culture, identity and brand. For each participant, US Road Sports strives to offer events that allow participants of all skill levels the opportunity to improve their physical and mental health and accomplish life-altering goals while having fun. US Road Sports provides sponsors and municipalities highly effective exposure to help maximize their presence and message in the community.

How to Enter:
To enter for a chance to win a free entry to the 13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles taking place on January 16, 2011, email RunnerDude at Be sure to put "13.1 Marathon® - Los Angeles" in the subject line and include your full name in the subject of the email. You have until midnight on Halloween (October 31st )to enter! Each email will be assigned a number in the order of which it was received. Then, the True Random Number Generator will be used to select the winning number. The winner will be announced on the blog on November 1st.

The contest is now closed and the winner is Julie Reyes! Congrats, Julie!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Runners, Do You Suffer From WTW Syndrome?

Well, it finally felt like fall today. When I headed out for my long run this morning it was around 39° to 40°. It was nice to have a little nip in the air. That cold air filling my lungs was a nice change from the moisture-laden air of our typical NC summers. It's this time of year though that many a runner is struck ill with a very common disorder that's pretty common among runners—WTW Syndrome.

Some runners have such a bad case of this syndrome that it may make them late for a group run or it may even make them miss the run entirely. What are the symptoms of WTW Syndrome? Well it can vary from runner to runner but most with the disorder experience some degree of
·         anxiety
·         fretfulness
·         panic attacks
·         dread
·         nervous stomach
·         mental confusion
·         neuroticism
·         problems with decision making

This very complex disorder usually affects runners (possibly cyclists too) during the onset of fall. Not to worry. It's not an airborne contagion. Usually a runner with WTW suffers in silence the first few weeks of fall and then it mysteriously disappears. So what is WTW Syndrome?

Each year during those first few days of fall when there's a nip in the air on those early morning runs, thousands of runners all across the world are struck down with WTW or What-To-Wear Syndrome. One weekend you're running in shorts and a singlet and the very next weekend you're faced with how many layers do I need? Coat? Gloves? Hat? Tights? To make matters worse, this nerve-racking angst, is compounded by the fear that you'll be the only one to show up for the group run looking like an Iditarod dog-sled musher. So what often happens is that the runner goes out way underdressed and experiences the most body-numbing run of his life. He's scared to even bend at the end of the race in fear that something important might break off.

Or, you'll have the runner that drives to the group run all slouched down in his car as he scopes out the rest of the runners deciding if he's overdressed only to put the pedal to the metal if he is. Not realizing that his pals are saying, "Wasn't that Bob!"as you pepper-spray them with dust and gravel pellets fish-tailing out of the parking lot. "Yep, he must be overdressed again."

Well, there is an easy way to avoid WTW Syndrome all together. It takes a little planning, but nothing you can't handle. First of all, a good rule of thumb to use when planning your running attire is to dress as if it's 10°-15° warmer than it really is. So, if the forecast says 40°, then dress as if it's going to be 50° or 55°. As you run, your body temperature will increase and once you "warm-up" it will feel as if the outside temperature has warmed-up.

Secondly, it's a great idea to bookmark a weather site or download a weather app to keep on your tablet or smartphone. Then the night before your run, just before you go to bed, check the forecast for the next morning. Go ahead and lay out what you'll wear based on it being 10°-15° warmer than the predicted temp. Weather predictions can often change overnight, so it's a good idea to double check the temp when you wake up to see if you need to make any wardrobe modifications.

Dressing for those early-morning runs will be made easier too if you stick to a routine. Find a spot to place your clothes, shoes, socks, and other runner gear each night. (My spot is my chair and space at the kitchen table.) Be proactive and plan ahead. If it's calling for rain the next day, go ahead and find your rain gear and put it at your spot. If you're going for a dark early-morning run, go ahead and place your headlamp by your shoes. Going to need water on that next long run? Go ahead and fill your bottles, put them in your hydration belt and put the entire thing in the fridge. (Can't tell you how many times I filled the bottles and put them in the fridge the night before only to wake up and not be able to find the belt...only to discover later that my youngest was using it as a tool belt.)

On cold days, it's best to wear layers. Layers act as insulation. Also, as you sweat, the perspiration will travel from the lower layers to the outer layers keeping you dryer (if you're wearing technical fabric clothing and not cotton). And, if you overdressed, you can easily remove a layer. Here are a few of the types of layers you'll need:

Base Layer: This is the layer closest to the skin. This layer should be made of a technical fabric such as polyester, CoolMax, DryFit,  polypropolene, Thermax, Thinsulate, etc. This layer may also have some technical fibers that provide some stretch such as Lyrca or spandex. The technical aspects of the fabric and often the weave of the fibers, allows perspiration to be wicked away from the body and to the outer surface of the base layer. When it's 40° or warmer, all you may need is a base layer for your top. On colder days when it dips around the freezing mark and below, you may need to top the base layer with a warmth layer

Warmth Layer: On colder days (mid 30s or below), a warmer layer may need to worn over the base layer. Insulating fabrics like fleece are perfect for this. Be sure that the fleece fabric is also made from a technical fabric such as microfleece, Dryline, Polartec, polyester, Thermax, etc. (Note: on really cold days, I'll often wear two base layer shirts and then a microfleece layer on top.)

Outer Shell Layer: On cold windy or wet days a protective outer shell may be in order. Be sure to purchase an outer shell made from a technical fabric like Gore-Tex, ClimaFit, or Supplex that will protect you from the elements while at the same time breathe so you don't overheat.

Running Tights or Pants: Shorts can be worn during cold weather, but when the temps dip near freezing and below, running tights or pants are great for keeping the ole gams warm. Running tights come in snug and loose-fitting styles. Be sure the tights or pants are made from moisture-wicking fabric to help prevent chafing. 

Every runner is different. For example, I can wear shorts in very cold temps with no problem, but if my core gets chilled, I'm done for. So, I'll often run with three upper layers and shorts while my running buddies may only have one or two top layers. So, experiment and see what works best for you.
A few more cold-weather tips for runners:
Remove any metal jewelry from body piercings (yes, ears included) before running, if it's freezing outside? Metal conducts low temperatures to your skin with amazing efficiency. So efficient, that it can increase the risk of frost bite! Ouch!

You can prevent the burning sensation in your lungs during cold runs by doing a 5- to 10-minute warm-up inside before heading outdoors. Doing this gets rid of the chemicals that cause that pain-inducing inflammation in your lungs. Try it. You'll be surprised.

If it's zero degrees or a wind chill of -20 degrees outside you should find a treadmill or an inside track for your run. Running in these conditions vastly increases your chance of frostbite.

Cover your hands and your noggin, not only to protect them from the cold, but to help retain your body heat. A runner with naked digits can lose up to 30% of his/her body heat! A naked head can let 40% of a runner's body heat to escape! Yikes!

Be sure to hydrate! You can sweat just as much in the winter as you do in the summer. The dyer air allow the perspiration to evaporate more easily so you may not look like you're sweating as much, but chances are you are.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Trust and Believe

This morning I heard one of the best comments I could ever hear as a running coach from three of my half-marathon runners just before the start of their race.
"I'm not even nervous. I'm excited, but not nervous."
As a coach, it's great to hear that because you know the runners feel ready physically and mentally for the race. They're confident in their athletic abilities.

These runners have worked hard the past 12 weeks. For two of the runners, it was their very first half-marathon and the third was shooting to break a previous time and PR. During the training, they'd every once in a while express a little doubt about achieving their goals, but I kept reminding them to trust in their training. And they did. The two half-marathon newbies both blew away their projected finish times and the PR-hopeful, did in fact break his previous half-marathon time and not by just a few seconds, but by several minutes!

It's normal to have some doubts during your training. One bad run, and that little pesky voice of doubt can slip in and begin it's taunting"Am I going to be able to do this?" "If I can't even do this short run, how in the world am I going to make 13.1 or 26.2 miles?" 

Training for an endurance event is kind of like the stock market. If you're looking for a big return in the short-run, then you'll probably be disappointed. You may even lose some money. But, if you hang in there and let some time pass, your stocks will probably begin to give you some good returns. The same thing applies to running. In-the short-term, you may not see a lot of growth. You may even experience what seems like a set-back as your body acclimates to new training intensities and/or mileage. But give it some time. Trust and Believe. Your reward will be at the end of your training on race day.

I'm not sure who said it first, but "running is about 90% mental and 10% physical." Whether that's scientific or not, I don't know, but there's a lot of truth in that statement. Trusting your training and believing in yourself as an athlete will help ensure that all the hard work you've put in over the past several months will shine through.

"Trust and Believe" actually makes a great mantra. When you're running and you're climbing a tough hill or you're beginning to fatigue, say to yourself over and over, "Trust and Believe." If that pesky little voice of doubt begins to creep in, kick it to the curb! Even say it out loud. "Go Away!" Of course the runner beside you may think you're a crazy nutcase, but hey, whatever works, right?!

There are always factors out of your control that may affect race day (crazy weather, extreme temperatures [hot or cold], illness, injury, etc.). When that happens, it's frustrating, but you just have to roll with the punches. Don't let it discourage you though. As soon as you can, set a new training/racing goal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Women's Morning Run Out!

Calling all women! Love to run? Love to walk? Love Fitness? Love a good sale? Love to have fun? If so (and you live in the Greensboro, NC area) be sure to stop by Off'n Running Sports for the Women's Morning Out Saturday, October 16th from 8:00AM to 10:00AM! Off'n Running is located off Lawndale at 2201 Joan Avenue in Greensboro, NC.
During the event, everything will be 20% off in the store. There will be food, door prizes, and several vendors as well as some group runs heading out at 8:00AM.
Vendors include and door prizes from: Brooks, Moving Comfort, Sodderbug, Avanti Spa, Coaching from g3 Triathlon Training, RunnerDude Fitness, Piggies in a Blanket, Arbonne, Holly’s Intuitive Touch Massage, The Mouse Connection, YouTimeSolutions, New Garden Medical Associates & Skirt Sports, Kayla Robinson DPT, and HFS at Proehlific Park.

I'll be at the store around 8:20. I'd love to meet you and answer any questions you may have about services offered at RunnerDude's Fitness such as the Beginning Running Group starting on October 19th and spring 2011 half- and full-marathon trainining kicking-in in November and December! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Winning Running Chef Recipe: Vegetarian "Chicken" Fajitas

Congrats to Dena Harris, the winner of RunnerDude's Running Chef Recipe Contest, a $25 Road Runner Sports Gift Card, and a Variety box of 3BAR Energy Bars!

Dena is an accomplished author, columnist, and runner who lives in Greensboro, NC. Dena is a Boston Marathon alumnus and just recently completed the Blue Ridge Relay as a part of a 12-member team covering 208 miles in the picturesque Blue Ridge and Black Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Relay is one of the longest running relay races in the United States! If you're a cat lover and/or just love good humor, be sure to check out Dena's new book Who Moved My Mouse? A Self-Help Book for Cats (Who Don't Need Any Help).
I tested out Dena's vegetarian "chicken" fajitas recipe on a panel of judges with very discriminating palatesmy kids. They loved it! After dining on the fajitas, they were surprised to learn that the "chicken" was actually soy. I too enjoyed the tasty fajitas. I also liked that the recipe was easy to make, contained simple ingredients, and was packed with key macronutrients (complex carbs, protein, healthy fat) and vitamins and minerals. This recipe is perfect for a runner to incorporate into his/her training diet.

Vegetarian "Chicken" Fajitas
1 package soy chicken strips, sliced thin
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil 
4 lg. chopped garlic cloves
1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, oregano
1 green and red pepper each, sliced thin into strips
1 red onion, sliced thin into strips
1 yellow onion, sliced thin into strips
Whole grain tortillas
Cheese and salsa, optional

In a bowl, combine the lime juice, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic and stir until combined.

Add chicken, peppers, onions, and coat evenly. Marinate 1 hour.

In a large, hot (preferably non-stick) skillet, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and chicken mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave. Spoon chicken and peppers into tortilla, top with shredded cheese and salsa, if desired.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Must-Have Injury Prevention Tools for Runners!

Over the years, through personal experiences with running-related injuries and learning from the running injuries of others, I've discovered several "tools" that I think should be in every runner's injury-prevention toolkit. Check out the video clip below to see what tools are recommended. If you have other injury-prevention methods, techniques or tools that you'd like to add to the toolkit, please leave a comment. I'd love to see what you have. Always the learner.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pick It Up With A Tempo!

Mixing it up is the best way to keep your running fresh, increase your endurance and up your speed. Hill repeats, track intervals, tempo runs, and your long runs are great ways to mix up your weekly workouts. If you're not training for a particular race, I recommend having 2 quality workouts a week. If you're training for a half- or full-marathon you can up to to three. Quality workouts are workouts (like previously mentioned) that either increase the intensity or distance. Then the rest of your weekly runs should be easy-effort runs designed for building and or maintaining your base mileage. It's best to have at least one complete rest day in the week. I usually like to have my rest day the day after my long run.

So, mixing up your weekly workouts is a great idea, but you can also mix up the type of tempo runs your running. Running the same old 4- or 5-mile tempo run can get boring week after week. In case you're new to running, a tempo run typically begins and ends with a 1-mile easy warm-up and cool-down mile. The "middle miles" are run at tempo pace (typically 30 seconds slower than your 10K or 5K  race pace). So for a 4-mile tempo run, you'll run 1-mile easy, 2-miles at tempo pace, and 1 mile easy for the cool-down. But....that's just one way to do a tempo run.

Basically, a tempo run's purpose is designed to give your body experience running fast for longer periods of time. This helps increase your speed and endurance. It's also great for pushing out your lactate threshold. That's the point at which you begin to find that "burn" in your muscles. That burn is caused when you increase your pace faster than your body is acclimated to and the body isn't able to clear out the lactate (a by product of the energy produced for muscle movement) fast enough. But, if you keep exposing yourself to faster paces over longer distances, you can actually push out the point at which you get that burn (or the lactate threshold) so hopefully you'll never experience it during a race.

Other types of tempo runs include Tempo Intervals, Race-Pace Tempo Runs and Kenyan Outbacks. Tempo intervals are very similar to fartleks (bursts of speed during a regular run). To do a Tempo Interval, simply divide your run into 10 minute intervals rotating between slow and tempo-pace intervals. So for example, if you're running a 6-miler, begin with 10-minutes at an easy conversational pace for 10-minutes. Then ramp it up to your tempo pace for 10-minutes. Continue this until you've completed your 6-miles. The last interval may actually be shorter than 10-minutes depending on your pace. Or if it's easier, don't base the Tempo Interval run on mileage. Instead, just plan on running for 60 minutes doing 6 slow/fast intervals.

Race-Pace Tempo runs are run just like a regular Tempo Run beginning with a 1-mile warm-up at the beginning and a 1-mile cool-down at the end, but instead of running the "middle miles at a pace that's 30-seconds slower than your 10K or 5K pace, run it at your actual race pace. If you're training for a 5K or 10K, then this give you a chance to ramp up your speed so your body knows what it feels like to run at the faster race pace. If you're training for a half- or full-marathon, then this lets your slow it down a bit and get a feel for what it's like to run at your endurance run race pace.

Kenyan Outbacks are similar to tempo runs, but with the second half much faster than the first. To do a Kenyan Outback, pick an out-n-back route. Run the "out" portion at a moderate pace and run the "back" portion about 30-45 seconds slower than 5K pace. This helps your body learn to "kick-it-in" or "pick-it-up" later in a race.

Mixing up your runs throughout the week not only helps keep your workouts fresher and more interesting, it also jacks up your metabolism and increases your caloric burn, keeping you fitter and leaner. It also gives your body a chance to use more than one energy-production system. Track intervals use more of the phosphagen system (the quickest and most powerful source of energy for muscle movement) and the glycolytic energy system. Tempo runs will make use of the of glycolytic system and the oxidative systems of energy  production. The long run will begin with the glycolytic system but it will mainly make use of the oxidative system. During a long run, you body can also learn to burn fat for energy production. Allowing your body to experience using all the various energy-production systems, makes you a more efficient runner.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beginning Running Group

It's almost that time again! The next RunnerDude's Fitness Beginning Running Group will start on Tuesday, October 18th. This 12-week program will have you completing 3.1 miles (a 5K) by the end of the program. This plan involves a walk/run method designed to ease you into running. This program is great for beginners of all ages! All you need is a desire to want to run.
The program will take you through the beginning of the new year, so you'll already be a step ahead on your New Year's resolution for a healthier you!!

Price: $100
  • a Fitness Assessment for running (a $55.00 value!)
  • a 12-week training plan
  • 2 weekly group runs
  • a RunnerDude's Fitness/Off'n Running Sports Technical T-Shirt
  • a 10% off coupon for 1 purchase at Off'n Running Sports
  • a 15% off coupon for a future RunnerDude's Fitness service or program 
  • mini-info sessions on related running topics
  • weekly motivational emails

Not sure about joining the group? Check out this testimonial from a previous RunnerDude's Fitness Beginning Running Group participant. 
“I want to start out by saying I'm not an athlete. I don't like to sweat and I haven't exercised since I hit puberty. But at age 41, with my weight steadily rising and my self esteem plummeting, I knew I needed to make some changes. RunnerDude’s beginning running program was perfect for me. Thad started us off slowly, set do-able goals and the end of every run felt like a victory. By the end of the program we were running 30 minutes non-stop, something I thought I'd never do. And I'm still running on my own today. I've lost weight, lost five inches and fit into my clothes again. But more importantly I'm healthier and have gained tremendous confidence. I wouldn't have done it without Thad and our group. If I can do it, anyone can. Thanks RunnerDude!” Sherri Rhyne—Greensboro, NC
Group running is one of the best ways to get started. Not only will you make some great friends, you'll also have the support of RunnerDude and your fellow beginning runners to encourage and motivate you as enter the awesome world of running.
For more information on the program or to sign up email Thad at 
Register by October 15th and be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Off'n Running Sports in Greensboro, NC.
Not in the Greensboro area? No problem. Email Thad and ask about the online Beginning Running coaching program.

Monday, October 4, 2010

RunnerDude Reviews Newton's Neutral Performance Trainer—the Gravity

Back in July, Newton Running sent me a pair of their Neutral Performance Trainers—the Gravity—to test out and review. I've tried to provide information on a wide variety of running styles (i.e., Chi Running, barefoot running, Vibram Five Fingers) on the blog, so I was eager to get the Newtons and give them a test drive. I've read a lot about Newton, but had not yet had the opportunity to run in them . I was psyched!

The Newton website, promises a lot for what the neutral performance trainer will do for a runner. I'm always a little wary when so much is promised. "Newton Running's top-of-the-line neutral performance trainer is the ultimate shoe for Natural Running. Get a fast, flexible ride with greater energy return and less impact. The 2010 model has enhanced durability in the heel, a new high-rebound midsole material and improved upper fit. This shoe allows you to run naturally — faster with greater efficiency and less overuse injuries (like achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis)." But in this case what was promised was delivered.

The neutral performance trainer is recommended for any distance. I wanted to test something that I could use on a regular basis for training runs, so this shoe seemed to be the best fit for me. The first thing that strikes you when you see a pair of Newtons for the first time are the huge lugs running across the bottom of the midfoot where the ball of the foot would be located. This is a part of the Newton technology or what they call the Action/Reaction Technology™.
The technology is based on Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion: "For every Action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." You see the large lugs act as levers and shock absorbers that return energy back to you as you run. The key to the Newton is that you land with a midfoot or forefoot strike instead of landing on the heel first. Newton calls this a Land-Lever-Lift motion. This causes continuous muscle activation instead of a start/stop action that's caused by the breaking effect when you heel strike.
I've tend to have more of a midfoot strike, so adjusting to the Newton's did not take very long. But Newton does a great job of letting new Newton runners know that they should ease into running in their Newtons, especially if they've been a heel striker. You'll be activating some muscles that you may not have used much when heel striking or you may just be using them in a slightly different way. Anytime you recruit new muscle activation, there's a period of acclimation. Newton recommends not running more than about 1.5 miles in your new shoes the first time. Then you should gradually add a little more mileage with each run. Also, be aware that Newtons tend to run about a 1/2-size smaller than your regular running shoe. So, for example, if you normally wear a 9.5, it's probably a good idea to order a 10 in a Newton.
My experience running in Newtons has been great. The shoes are amazingly light (only about 9.5oz). The energy return was very noticeable. I felt very refreshed after my runs. I have something called Morton's Neuroma in my right foot, which is basically a problem with a nerve hitting a bone when I'm on the ball of my foot. With a metatarsal pad placed just behind the ball of my foot, I can run with no problem. Because of this issue, however, I've never been able to run barefoot. With the Newtons, I was able to use my metatarsal pad and still reap many of the benefits of barefoot running. For performance and delivering on it's promise, the Newton Gravity gets 5 Dudes out of 5 Dudes on the RunnerDude rating scale.
At first I was a little put off by the $175 price tag for the Gravity's that I tested, but then I discovered that the average runner can track close to 1000 miles on one pair of Newtons. So, you could buy two pairs of $100 or $125 traditional running shoes or just one pair of Newtons for $150 to $175 during that same time period. -

The video below shows Newton Running founder Danny Abshire as he demonstrates the finer points of forefoot running: proper athletic position; finding your sweet spot; the difference between walking stride, jogging stride, efficiency running and sprinting; and using the Land, Lever, Lift technique to perfect your form.

If you live in the Triad area (Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, NC) then check out a pair of Newtons at our awesome local running store Off'n Running Sports located at 2201 Joan Ave in Greensboro (just off Lawndale). This Tuesday (October 5th) from 6-8PM will be Newton Night at Off'n Running. A Newton rep will be at the store to teach you about Newton shoes and how to run in them. Participants in Newton Night will receive a 15% discount on Newton shoes!! I told you Off'n Running Sports was great!

Note: Although Newton Running sent me a pair of the Gravity shoes and asked me to test and review the shoes, I was in no way urged to write a positive reveiw, nor was I paid or compensated in any other way for writing the reveiw. My review is purely based on my own personal experience using the product.