(Edited by Brad Minus) The Decision My 3 years of running experience started with multiple injuries including a couple of ankle fractures. However, I still managed to complete a marathon, a 50K and...
Tri Tip Tuesday: My MOST Important Running Tip
On Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, I will do my best to give one simple fitness, triathlon or running tip, trick or piece of information that will provide some value to in either helping you to become more efficient, prevent injury, increase performance, have more fun or at the minimum give a review of knowledge that might not have crossed your path in a some time.
I find myself observing other runners while running and sometimes just hanging out here in Tampa. Due to the weather here lending itself to year-round training, I have no shortage of material to choose from.
My #1 Most Important Run Tip
My coaching practice’s number one priority is form, technique and injury prevention, so I routinely use other runners, with my clients to reinforce the form training I have provided. (Sorry, Tampa runners. If you happen to pass by me with a client, most likely you have been observed and surveyed for comparative analysis.)
With all of my observations, the number one issue that I see are runners that sit in the bucket. Of course, the question most people ask is what does sitting in the bucket mean?
Basically, it’s when the glutes(or bum) are not in line with the torso. The body looks like an “L” from the torso to the hamstrings. Natural running which when learned is much easier, more efficient and greatly reduces impact on the joints. The torso hips, glutes and ankles form a straight line.
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The interesting thing is, that running should be instinctual right? Unfortunately, not anymore. Sociological factors have played into our bodies to a point where most Americans, cannot just decide to take up running without going through periods of injury.
For example, sitting at a desk all day will tighten the hip flexors so that it becomes extremely difficult to push the hips under the torso. The same thing is evident for playing video games on the couch for long periods of time.
The figure on the left is actually still a lot better than I have noticed out and about. The torso is still tall and the chest is still has a little bit of lean to it causing forward motion. A lot of runners I notice, sit in the bucket and lean back. What is this doing? Basically, gravity is working against the runner. The objective is forward motion but the glutes and the torso are sitting back, so in essence, the body and gravity are working against itself.
Another perception you will see is the heel strike of the runner. When that heel strikes the ground the impact reverberates all the way from the ankle through the legs, spine, neck shoulders and head. This is where most of the injuries take place.
By simply starting to incorporate, tilting the hips under the torso and leaning from the ankles instead of the waste, the body will start allowing gravity to be used instead of the legs as the sole source of momentum. Suddenly, the feet are striking the ground underneath the center of gravity and only the calf down to the metatarsals absorb the majority of the impact from the ground.
I continue to instill in my clients, running is powered by the core, not the legs. Use gravity as momentum and allow the legs to just go for the ride. To remain consistent, the core must be strengthened and hip flexors stretched to keep the glutes from returning to the bucket.
There are many techniques to help modify the behavior to allow for an efficient, safe and effective change of form. All it takes it the will to want to change and get better and you will.
The #1 tip – get out of the bucket.
Are you running in the bucket?
Did this information shed some light on any area of your running that might be in need of improvement?
Goof Review: Altra Torin 2
I have been a fan of the Altra line for a little while now, so I was so honored to be given a chance to review the brand new Altra Torin 2. I reviewed the 1.5 version when it first arrived, and it became my shoe of choice for long runs.
What I love about the Torin 2
One of Altra’s significant differences in the complete line of shoes is their zero heel drop and since my coaching methodology includes an emphasis on our body’s natural movement while running this is obviously one of my favorites. (I have included a explanation of what “Zero Drop” means in my previous Altra Torin 1.5 review.)
Wide Toe Box
The other difference between Altra and their competition is the wide toe box, or as Altra calls it, a “FootShape” toe box. The ability to splay the toes plays a significant role in injury prevention and the strength of the feet. This allows the runners body to support itself, rather tan relying on a shoe for support.
The upper has been improved in the 2.0. The Torin 1.5 was made with a thick upper which added unnecessary weight and reduced flexibility of the shoe. The 2.0 has been upgraded with a much thinner mesh material that breathes better and allows for more flexibility.
Here is where some of my favorite changes were made. First, they moved from the heavier EVA to their lighter proprietary “A-bound” material that for me seems to add a little more spring to the ride of the shoe. When my foot strikes the ground the material seems to not only protect from the natural impact, but reacts driving me forward.
The weight in the previous show was 10.1 ounces which was up from the original Torin which was 9.5 ounces. The Torin 2 comes in at 9.1 ounces which is one of the lightest in this category, if not the very lightest.
Altra added what they call Innerflex which are groves in the outsole and midsole that bend with your foot allowing substantially more flexibility than the previous models. This too me was the single most important change they made. The Torin has always classified as their High Cushioned shoe which most companies have traded flexibility for cushion. Altra has found a way to give runners the flexibility I love with the cushioning I want and without giving up any of proprioception.
The have now included a Foot Pod technology which maps the bones of the foot with the Innerflex so the shoes flexes where the runner needs it to, allowing a near customized fit.
Altra went ahead and removed the toe guard and heel rudder as well. In my opinion this not only allowed them to shed some weight, but also added to flexibility and comfort. In a road shoe I never really thought either added any value. These two advantages are best left for trail specific designs.
What I don’t like about the Torin 2
Obviously, not much.
The new Abound foam tends to soak in water and sweat which makes the shoe feel a little heavier during training and racing. Even with the mesh material the shoe does not seem to drain well. I would love to see a version of this shoe with drain holes, but of course that is the triathlete in me talking.
After about forty miles the new Abound material started to squeak while just walking ,and only in my left shoe This does not seem to happen when I run in them, but it is a little noisy when walking through the store. I think it may be just a problem with this pair, but nonetheless it is something I dislike. However, it did not change the performance of the shoe.
The price of $125 is a little high in my opinion. A better price point would be the $100 – $110, but of course that is very minor for shoe of this quality.
Let’s see how the Torin 2 ranked on my scale:
Quality – 4/5
Upper – 4/5
Outsole – 4/5
Flexibility – 5/5
Comfort – 5/5
Appearance – 4/5
Overall – 4/5
The Altra Torin 2 is available in men’s whole and half sizes 7-12.5, whole sizes 13-15 and in three color patterns. It is available in women’s whole and half sizes 5-10.5, whole sizes 11-12 and in three separate color patterns.
Have you ever ran in a pair of Altra Torins (any version)? How did you like them?
Please feel free to comment on your feedback.
Ghost the Musical in Tampa FL – The Goof Review
Ghost The Musical Tampa FL – A Goof Review
The supernatural seems to be all the rage nowadays. The silver and big screens are filled with zombies, vampires, demons, spirits, you name it. Prior to the latest trends, the 1990 movie Ghost starring the late Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore was a blockbuster hit. Not only was it the top-grossing movie of 1990 but it took home Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg).
The theatre trend started with musicals becoming movies like Mama Mia and Rent, but lately, the trend has moved in the opposite direction to include Ghost. Can movies be turned into musicals and still retain the original vision of the screenwriter?
As I anxiously awaited the opening number in the orchestra section (main floor) of the Straz Center for Performing Arts‘ Carol Marsoni Hall, I pondered this in my head. I happened to notice in the program that Brian Joel Rubin wrote the script for the musical as well as the movie which increased my optimism and my excitement.
Now, as I have previously written in prior reviews, I love the theatre and especially musicals. I have experience on stage as a performer and behind the scenes as a designer and director, which is why my reviews tend to get a little in-depth. This one will be no different.
Ghost’s plot centers around Molly(Katie Postonik), who is in danger after her lover Sam Wheat(Steven Grant Douglas) is murdered. Sam, now a ghost, using a reluctant psychic, Oda Mae Brown(Carla R. Stewart) tries to save her.
This musical was a multimedia extravaganza, with video being used as an introduction and as background, and foreground for a good amount of the duration of the show. For example, video of stock tickers, traffic and crowded sidewalks as a background for a dance number to symbolize the hustle and bustle of New York City.
Most of the time, the ocular stimulus was way too much. It pulled from the actors’ performances as well as the dancers. There was so much going on that my eyes didn’t know where to focus. I literally had to decide what of the action going on-stage was supposed to be the central focal point.
My eyes didn’t feel that way all the time. The scenes underground with the Subway Ghost(Brandon Curry) were incredibly vivid and they worked really well. Unfortunately, most of the other moments where the talented dancers of the ensemble were visually drowning in the fast-moving video that played around them. There was a point that any audience member, focusing stage right, would miss some amazing movements going on stage left, due to the multimedia being shot in the foreground.
When I am asked to review shows at the Straz, it usually opening night in order to turn around the article so it can be used for marketing purposes. In my experiences as an actor and director, sometimes tweaks are taken care during opening night. There are the different sound, lighting, and technical obstacles that appear when the house is full of warm bodies which then lend to acting struggles as well.
With that being said, I was disappointed with the performances of both Katie Postotnik(Molly) and Steven Grant Douglas(Sam). Not only were their singing voices falling flat more times than not, but the chemistry and the heat needed between them was just slightly more than a flicker. There were small moments here and there, but they were few and far between.
The singing was flat overall without prejudice of the performer, which lead me to believe that maybe the monitors that feed the music on stage may not have been fully functional. If the performer does not hear the same pitches as the audience there will be perceptual differences which could sound like their singing is falling flat or sharp.
Robby Haltiwanger, who portrayed Carl Bruner, had more chemistry with Molly in the few scenes they shared than the entirety of scenes with Sam. There was a fleeting moment between them, but it had enough heat that it seemed to linger on stage for the rest of the show. Regardless, of the fact that he too fell flat during most of his singing numbers, his acting skills seemed far superior to those of Molly and Sam.
The best performances came from Carla Stewart(Oda Mae) and those performers playing her sisters, Lydia Warr(Louise) and Evette Marie White(Clara). Their pitches were spot on, and they seemed to have more fun on stage than a lot of the other performers. The characters of Oda Mae and her sisters are what I would consider the comic relief to what should have been a very emotional story. They brought much-needed hilarity at a point where the rest of the show was failing. My opinion must have shared with a number of the other audience members because it was only when these talented women came out for the curtain call that the ovation became standing.
One aspect that did disappoint me was that Carla tried to mimic Whoopi Goldberg’s performance from the movie. Of course, this could have been a directorial choice. It is evident that Carla is a phenomenally competent actor whom given the creativity might have made different choices that would have played to her strengths.
When a new musical is first presented on Broadway and then sent on tour, it usually takes five years for the rights to the show become available. During those five years there are minimal changes that a director can make from the original Broadway version, so a lot of the issues I mentioned may have fallen into that category.
In summary, while there were some great moments, the multimedia, inferior acting and pitchy voices tended to distract from what was an award-winning script.
Ghost is playing at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, April 27th. For more info please see the Straz Center website.
Goof Review – Jaybird Sportsband Bluetooth Headset
When I am not running in a group, or during a race when I know the course is not the most scenic, I do enjoy running with my iPod. There is something pretty cool about zoning out and just letting the beat take over my feet.
The problem I face, is comfort in headphones. I have tried just about every headphone out there and my personal preference is not ear buds that are placed inside he canal. I keep going back to the earphones I received with my iPod, that just fit above the lobe where the speaker sits on the concha and faces the canal. Of course, they do not last, and the sound quality has a little to be desired. Not to mention, the inconvenience of those wires.
Enter Jaybird with their Sportsband Bluetooth Headset. Jaybird was nice enough to send me this model, which looks like the older headphones that fit over the head instead of around the back of the neck or just sitting in the ear. They are extremely light, which does not cause any neck pain or strain and due to the fact they are Bluetooth they are wireless. I ran the entire Sarasota Half Marathon without them sliding off my ears, or hear any hesitation or disconnect from my iPod.
The controls are located on the right ear and have nice size buttons that are easy to access and allow you to skip forward or back, pause and control the volume.
The sound quality is probably the best I have heard in a Bluetooth headset. The sound is rich, clear and responds well to the sound controls on my iPod. Needless to say I really enjoyed wearing this headset during the race.
As, I was looking at the pics…well…the profile is pretty low, but they do look kinda goofy if your looking for them. It figures, look who is wearing them.
I did test them with two different phones as well. The Droid Razor Maxx and the Samsung Galaxy Note II and they responded quick and as expected to Pandora, Spotify, the built-in music apps and the phone.
A friend of mine, that didn’t know she was a part of this review, stated she thought I was using my handset. Most of the time she could tell, when I had a headset on, because the sound quality was usually pretty poor, but with the Jaybird Sportsband this was not the case at all. The sound was clear without static or hesitation.
The Jaybird Sportsband comes in two models, the original the S2 which includes the uSport universal Bluetooth adapter. Both models are compatible with any A2DP Bluetooth device to include iPhone, iPad, iPod(7th Gen), Android, windows devices, PC and Mac. Options include the iSport and universal Bluetooth adapters on the original and S2 models.
The company just so happened to send me apple red, but there are also a wide range of colors available.
I really enjoy running with this headset. It fits over my ear and not inside, which is more comfortable for and it still allows me to hear ambient noise around me which makes my music motivating not distracting.
I give this device 5 out of 5 Goofs.
Sarasota Half Marathon – Race Recap
I am a little behind on posts, and now need to add three more due to being sent and then utilizing three new products during the race; the Hoka One One Biondi S2 running shoes, the Jaybird Sport Strap bluetooth headset, and Wrightsock Stride running socks. I will do my best to get those reviews completed as soon as possible, but for now let me tell you about my experience with the US Road Races Sarasota Half Marathon.
I learned a lesson first thing because I ended up running a tad bit late in the morning. The drive time to Sarasota usually is 45 minutes and I thought I was going to be fine until two miles from the race start. The traffic came to a dead stop. I drive a Mini Cooper Clubman, so while maneuverability is not an issue going over things like medians become either not possible, or the consequences may turn out to be expensive. I was stuck behind a tractor-trailer semi trick with my right lane blocked and a huge median to my left. No way out. After a while, of being a little stressed of missing the start, I noticed the median curb height had changed to regular curb height so I took the chance and allowed my little car to climb over it. Luckily I found an alternate route, and parking pretty fast, but a ways from the start, so involuntarily I sprinted a quick warm-up mile prior to the gun.
I could hear the National Anthem being sung as I was running to the start, which told me it was going to be tight making it, and of course there were close to 5000 runners, so I ended up starting in the 13 minute/mile corral. At first I was a little disappointed, but it gave me a little time to stretch and calm myself down. I usually start up near the front of the pack, and end up getting passed throughout the race, however this time it was me who was doing the passing.
Miles one and two ran along Tamiami Trail and over a bridge which wasn’t very steep, although it felt long, but it did allow for some recovery on the other side. Some coaches worry about their runners as they run downhill, but the form I teach really allows the ease of just letting the legs do what they will allowing for a nice recovery. Of course I also coach a way on the uphill that makes the effort feel a lot less as well, but that is for another time.
The 5k split ended up in a circle downtown and according to my split time, it wasn’t bad. 23:24, less than an 8 minute mile for the first three miles, I’ll take that. Miles four and five were back over the bridge and past the start/finish line. Unfortunately, my sock started slipping in the circle, so after mile 5 I actually had to stop, and take off my shoes so I could re-position my sock. I couldn’t believe it. Because I was product testing my shoes I did not put lock laces on, so I even had to untie and re-tie the laces. I think it was 3 minutes wasted. It wasn’t a huge amount of time, but it still irked me. I will talk more in my review of the socks.
After that it was just a lot of fun. I caught up with some friends along the way, Holly Tripp, Teresa Gadient, a couple of others and chatted and then continued on my way. It was a beautiful course that ran inside a nice residential area and then back to the finish. The view was not anything spectacular, but a decently scenic throughout the course. The weather held to mid 60’s throughout the morning, which is perfect for me.
The last couple of miles were back down Tamiami Trail and then turned back into the community center and into the finish shoot. I picked up the pace on the last couple of miles and actually had enough for a little sprint kick at the end, which I haven’t had in a while. I wish I could figure out what I did, that made that difference. It could have been the steel-cut oats I had that morning, or even a new natural supplement I started a month ago, but I definitely had a little more than I thought. This would have been a nice PR race, but my strategy was negative splits, and very conservative. Next half I’ll do it.
There is one thing to be said about starting in the back and passing people up versus getting passed. Positive/Negative reinforcement. It shouldn’t feel that way, but I believe I also had some energy build from passing everyone except for three whom passed me. Positive conditioning. Starting in the front and getting passed no matter what I tell myself, still has a negative effect on my semi-fragile ego. Do not get me wrong, I know my place. I have always preached strength before speed. I have stated over and over again I am not fast…yet, but I am a strong runner and at a comfortable pace I can run forever. Unfortunately, that pace is pretty slow right now.
I met up with Ben Mena, Nick Zivolich and some other athletes and, Beth(B.o.B) joined us a bit later after finishing herself. I will say the medal is huge and beautiful and athletes running in the other US Road Race Half Marathon series, receive an extra medal with the number of races they ran in the series. If the athlete competed in 2 of the series they received a 2 inch number 2, for 3 races a 3 inch and so on. I like the concept and those medals were gorgeous too. It may be something to ponder trying to complete next year.
That was the glorious morning of my St. Patrick’s Day. I cannot think of a better way I would’ve spent it.
How was your St. Patrick’s Day?