I was talking with a customer at Marathon Sports the other day. He wanted to run faster and was looking for a pair of shoes to enable that. Not an unusual topic – who doesn’t want better race times! This conversation reminded me of three interrelated things that directly affect our speed: range of motion; turnover; and push-off. First, range of motion or ROM. Jack Daniels observed that 1984 Olympic women distance runners had a heel-to-heel stride length of 58” and men 74”. This is probably the top end for most of us – but for purposes here let’s assume an average stride length of 59 inches, or roughly 1.5 meters. For a 5K race, that is about 3,300 strides. If a runner’s full ROM is reduced by just 1”, in essence that means running an extra 90 yards. At a 7:00 minute pace this would add 22 seconds. So instead of 21:46 5K, it would take 22:08. For a 10K, double that difference to 44 seconds. And for a half marathon, 92 seconds or 1.5 minutes. Clearly, a price is paid for a constrained ROM. Second, turnover, or cadence as the cyclists call it, is another key part of … Continue reading

The Art of Recovery

Like many, for years I ran with the mindset that faster was better. If you want to race fast, you’ve got to train fast – an extension of the no pain, no gain philosophy. For me, that worked pretty well. Have never been a high mileage runner – more than 40 MPW on five days a week seemed to invite injury. But most of it was pretty fast paced – usually between just 45 and 60 seconds/mile slower than 10K race pace. I‘ve been racing for 38 years and thankfully spent very little time on the DL – until three years ago. For the first 35 years, I was out of action an average of about 2-3 weeks a year. I attributed this, in part, to taking the approach of not running through injuries. If something cropped up, I hit the pool and Stairmaster until things felt solid. And then it was immediately back to the fast-paced stuff. The two exceptions were a 3-month outage due to a torn piriformis (which I hadn’t even known existed!) and a two-month layoff due to patella tendonitis, for which 15 years later I still preventively tape. So along I went on my merry way. … Continue reading