SOSH Running Dogs

Sep 27, 2004
5,576
Your worst nightmare
Awesome, KW. Good luck. I volunteered yesterday at DF's registration tables and it was a lot of fun and inspirational to see all the people who are running either who had cancer themselves and/or raised a ton of $ for cancer research. Though I've never done a marathon, I definitely hope to do Boston next year running for DF. Also, they appear to be a very professional organization.
Headed to Boston Sunday morning to pick up my number and get ready to race. Really looking forward to this, as my training and race prep has been about a thousand times better than last year. Starting in the third corral at 10:40 with the rest of the charity runners and slowpokes. If you are so inclined, you can follow my progress at baa.org. My bib number is 22247. Still hurting mildly from various strains and sprains from a difficult training program, but feeling pretty good about my fitness and readiness to run. My goal is to break four hours.

More importantly, I will be running for The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge to raise money for The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's program for innovative basic cancer research. Much like Traut's inspired vision of raising money for the Jimmy Fund, The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge asks athletes to dedicate themselves to both running a marathon and to raising funds for basic cancer research. I have dedicated this year's efforts to my father, currently recovering from radiation therapy for his cancer, and to my beloved aunt Liz, who is battling multiple myeloma. I will also be running in honor of my father-in-law Donnie, who we lost to cancer several years ago. As much as my selfish desire to improve my marathon time drives me, I am always reminded that, in running a marathon to raise money to fight cancer, my task is the easy one.

There is something extraordinary about running a marathon when you dedicate the effort to something greater than yourself. I mostly do athletics for selfish reasons; Monday I run for my dad, for my aunt, for Donnie, and for cancer patients everywhere who rely on institutions like Dana-Farber for the research and treatment without which cancer would stake a greater claim in all of our lives. Cancer touches almost all of us. Raising money for Dana-Farber gives me hope that we can do something about it.

If you are athletically inclined and haven't signed up for Traut's Jimmy Fund program, you should. It can change not only the lives of those for whom you raise money, but your own life as well.
 

Paradigm

juju all over his tits
SoSH Member
Dec 5, 2003
5,954
Touche?
How do you guys handle soreness? Little nibbles of pain here and there? Do you chalk it up to the exercise and go out a day or two later? Do you self-diagnose? See a doctor? Right now I'm putting away 15-20 miles a week with the intention of building that up over the coming months either just for my own fitness and body conditioning or if they draw my name for the NYC Marathon, there's a much bigger goal ahead. Yesterday I went out running and had a bit of soreness behind my Achilles. That led to reading online about tendonitis and taking today off. 30 hours later the soreness is basically gone and I'm wondering if yesterday's panic was just me being a hypochondriac.

I know this is going to happen. I know there's going to be little things here and there. My college roommate became a physical (or occupational?) therapist. Last year, I told him about my tight calf and the compensatory issues it causes, and he said "everyone encounters some sort of pain. It's all about how you can manage what you're feeling" which I took to mean that nobody runs for miles every week and wakes up fresher than before.

I've really taken to running, but I know that I am not an athlete in the true sense of the word, meaning I don't think I am built like some warrior who can withstand shedloads of physical impact.

I don't like relying on the internet for diagnosis. I've hung around a running message board and they seem to want to shut everything down the minute they feel something risky, but I also realize that these threads are often just one or two vocal posters sharing their experience and easily influencing others.

Are there good books to read on this subject? Practitioners to see? Ideally, I'd like to see someone who can examine all of my running muscles and tell me what I need to look out for. I know my calves are tight, and strict attention to post-run stretching has alleviated the side effects.
 

Traut

lost his degree
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
12,315
My Desk
How do you guys handle soreness? Little nibbles of pain here and there?
Listen to your body. A little soreness is no thing. Especially when you're starting it is to be expected. Little nibbles of pain here and there are no thing, either. I get concerned about pain when (1) it's really bad; (2) it's constant; and (3) it hurts when I'm not running.

The best treatments are RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). The foam roller is a godsend when it comes to muscle tightness/aches. I also love the stick.
 

sass a thon

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
2,265
How do you guys handle soreness? Little nibbles of pain here and there? Do you chalk it up to the exercise and go out a day or two later? Do you self-diagnose? See a doctor? Right now I'm putting away 15-20 miles a week with the intention of building that up over the coming months either just for my own fitness and body conditioning or if they draw my name for the NYC Marathon, there's a much bigger goal ahead. Yesterday I went out running and had a bit of soreness behind my Achilles. That led to reading online about tendonitis and taking today off. 30 hours later the soreness is basically gone and I'm wondering if yesterday's panic was just me being a hypochondriac.

I know this is going to happen. I know there's going to be little things here and there. My college roommate became a physical (or occupational?) therapist. Last year, I told him about my tight calf and the compensatory issues it causes, and he said "everyone encounters some sort of pain. It's all about how you can manage what you're feeling" which I took to mean that nobody runs for miles every week and wakes up fresher than before.

I've really taken to running, but I know that I am not an athlete in the true sense of the word, meaning I don't think I am built like some warrior who can withstand shedloads of physical impact.

I don't like relying on the internet for diagnosis. I've hung around a running message board and they seem to want to shut everything down the minute they feel something risky, but I also realize that these threads are often just one or two vocal posters sharing their experience and easily influencing others.

Are there good books to read on this subject? Practitioners to see? Ideally, I'd like to see someone who can examine all of my running muscles and tell me what I need to look out for. I know my calves are tight, and strict attention to post-run stretching has alleviated the side effects.

I've dealt with Achilles tendonitis and super tight calves for a long time. When I first started running, I had tons of aches and pains that seemed to go awayeventually. When the Achilles pain first started, I wanted to power through it because I'm incredibly stubborn and just assumed it was something I had to overcome. It didn't hurt so much during my runs as afterwards. It eventually got to the point where I was having to walk on my toes throughout the day after a long morning run because the motion of lifting the heel to walk hurt too much. That should have been my clue, but like I said - I'm stubborn. I eventually went to a podiatrist who knew nothing about running, and his advice was to stretch and wear sneakers to work. This was terrible advice and ended up setting me back several months. After another few months of annoying pain and limping, I finally found a podiatrist who is a marathon runner. She got me a night boot to sleep in, forced me to take 2 months off while getting therapy on my legs, and eventually got me healthy enough to run my first marathon.

Here I am training for my second marathon and the pain is creeping back (but not nearly as bad), so I'm getting A.R.T. done and after the race, will be taking some time off. I'm told that because of the way my body is built (every one of my muscles is insanely tight), Achilles discomfort is something I may always have to deal with to an extent, but that I can help manage it through the use of epsom salt baths, post-run ice baths, stretching, a foam roller and a trigger point massage ball, etc.

My advice: if pain ever gets to be so bad that it is keeping you from running, forcing you to cut runs short, or affecting your gait in every day life, you need to see a doctor. And I can't emphasize enough how important I think it is to see a doctor who runs or treats lots of runners.

If you have any other Achilles related questions, PM me. I can't tell you anything about knees or IT band issues, but I'm happy to share my Achilles injury knowledge and experiences.
 

Paradigm

juju all over his tits
SoSH Member
Dec 5, 2003
5,954
Touche?
I've dealt with Achilles tendonitis and super tight calves for a long time. When I first started running, I had tons of aches and pains that seemed to go awayeventually. When the Achilles pain first started, I wanted to power through it because I'm incredibly stubborn and just assumed it was something I had to overcome. It didn't hurt so much during my runs as afterwards. It eventually got to the point where I was having to walk on my toes throughout the day after a long morning run because the motion of lifting the heel to walk hurt too much. That should have been my clue, but like I said - I'm stubborn. I eventually went to a podiatrist who knew nothing about running, and his advice was to stretch and wear sneakers to work. This was terrible advice and ended up setting me back several months. After another few months of annoying pain and limping, I finally found a podiatrist who is a marathon runner. She got me a night boot to sleep in, forced me to take 2 months off while getting therapy on my legs, and eventually got me healthy enough to run my first marathon.

Here I am training for my second marathon and the pain is creeping back (but not nearly as bad), so I'm getting A.R.T. done and after the race, will be taking some time off. I'm told that because of the way my body is built (every one of my muscles is insanely tight), Achilles discomfort is something I may always have to deal with to an extent, but that I can help manage it through the use of epsom salt baths, post-run ice baths, stretching, a foam roller and a trigger point massage ball, etc.

My advice: if pain ever gets to be so bad that it is keeping you from running, forcing you to cut runs short, or affecting your gait in every day life, you need to see a doctor. And I can't emphasize enough how important I think it is to see a doctor who runs or treats lots of runners.

If you have any other Achilles related questions, PM me. I can't tell you anything about knees or IT band issues, but I'm happy to share my Achilles injury knowledge and experiences.
Thanks Sass. That was infinitely more helpful than anything I've read on the other boards. It's odd, but for some reason I feel more trusting of advice from SoSH. I guess being a member for 8 years will do that. I certainly haven't felt anything as debilitating as what you're describing. I don't often feel pain in my muscles. I would describe the feeling more as the muscles feeling tired or a little weak. For example, this morning there was a hint of that on my right foot. It's already dissipated, which I assume is thanks to a bit of walking to work and around the office. I think this is all tied to my right calf being very tight. I'll probably wait until this weekend to run again, and I'm going to continue all of my stretching while introducing ice baths and yoga to my routine. I may start sticking my foot in a bucket of ice every night for 15 minutes.
 

wutang112878

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 5, 2007
6,066
How do you guys handle soreness? Little nibbles of pain here and there?
I found my tendon type issues for me were caused by a few things:
  • Bad running form, which led to too much stress on joints/muscles
  • Lack of strength in certain muscles, ie weak calves or not enough stamina can lead them not absorbing enough impact could lead to your achillies pain
  • Tight or dehydrated muscles pulling too much on the tendons
  • Ramping up mileage too quickly
So for the first 2, you could decrease your mileage a bit [because I always found it the most difficult to improve my form when I was tired] and while you are running constant think about your form and feet placement, etc. To resolve lack of strength issues you might want to add some weight training in.

As for the tightness, I would recommend getting the lactic acid out of your legs immediately after exercise. Its the lactic acid that makes your muscles feel sore most of the time, and the quicker you get it out after working out the quicker the muscles heal, and less stress there will be on your tendons. There are a few options for this: an ice bath for about 10 min [I could never get myself to do it], us an inversion table for 15 min, or simply lie on your back with your butt against the corner of a wall and your feet up on the wall for about 15 min. You will be kind of amazed at how much different your muscles feel after these 15 min, and how quickly you can recover if you do this after every run.
 

Kremlin Watcher

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
4,725
Houston, TX
4:01 and change. Looked like a lead-pipe cinch to make it under 4:00 but someone cut in front of me at around mile 25, causing me to stumble and severely sprain my right foot. Basically had to hop to the finIsh looking like Quasimodo. Oh well. As long as the foot is not severely damaged I can be pleased that I ran exactly the race I trained for and planned.
 

underhandtofirst

stud who hits bombs
SoSH Member
Jul 25, 2005
1,573
Chelmsford, MA
4:01 and change. Looked like a lead-pipe cinch to make it under 4:00 but someone cut in front of me at around mile 25, causing me to stumble and severely sprain my right foot. Basically had to hop to the finIsh looking like Quasimodo. Oh well. As long as the foot is not severely damaged I can be pleased that I ran exactly the race I trained for and planned.
Congrats on running the race you planned on. Was it another runner or a spectator? And who the heck is cutting people off a mile from the finish?
 

Traut

lost his degree
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
12,315
My Desk
4:01 and change. Looked like a lead-pipe cinch to make it under 4:00 but someone cut in front of me at around mile 25, causing me to stumble and severely sprain my right foot. Basically had to hop to the finIsh looking like Quasimodo. Oh well. As long as the foot is not severely damaged I can be pleased that I ran exactly the race I trained for and planned.
Awesome, awesome, time, Kremlin. I'm so happy for you. IIRC, that's like an hour better than last year's time?

Did you go barefoot? What did you eat before and during the race (are you still doing paleo)?
 

Kremlin Watcher

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
4,725
Houston, TX
Thanks Traut. Wore the VFFs. Legs were good up until the stumble. Had a very aggressive Paleo-based fuel plan, starting Saturday - basically ate fruit and root vegetable carbs and tons of fresh meat and veggies - no caloric limit, basically eating all day. This morning I had probably 2,000 calories, including a sweet potato, grapefruit, mangoes, apples, bananas, etc. Popped a 5-hour energy about fiive minutes before the gun. For the race I carried 48 ounces of a paste I make from maltodextrin, electrolyte and protein powder, consuming probably 500 calories an hour. Also had some Heed shots just in case. Fuel plan worked perfectly. You really have to do a lot of experimenting with fuel for long races - everyone's metabolism is just a little bit different.

And yes, I bettered last year's time by abouf 1:11. And that is very satisfying.
 

TallerThanPedroia

Civilly Disobedient
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
20,376
Boston
Thanks Traut. Wore the VFFs.
Nice! I saw some guy on the news taking Heartbreak barefoot.

When you get a chance, I'd be curious what you do with your stride on downhills. I find I much prefer uphill to downhill in VFFs. One of the WBZ guys pointed out that Kim Smith is a forefoot striker, and thought that the overall downhill of the marathon course put too much stress on her calves.
 

pv21feet

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
175
Medfield
For those that ran on Monday: please post any and all critiques and comments as the memories come flooding back this week. A great portion of my time (too great, if you ask my wife) goes to making sure you have as positive an experience as possible. Early feedback looks like this year might have been the smoothest and most 'enjoyable' race in memory (near-perfect conditions help), but we look to improve every year.

I'd love to hear what you liked, disliked and remembered about your day.

Edit: congrats, KW!
 

Kremlin Watcher

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
4,725
Houston, TX
Here's the race report that I sent to my Dana-Farber donors. Pretty self-indulgent but I hope it gives you a sense of the race, which I absolutely loved.

And pv21feet - kudos to the medical staff. They were great.
_____________________________________________________________________

Well, I did it, more or less. On Monday I ran the Boston Marathon.

I woke early Monday morning, about 5:00 am. It is sometimes hard to sleep the night of a big race – the anticipation and excitement can be a bit much as I contemplate fuel plan and race strategy. So I started eating early, taking on as much fuel as possible for the long trek from Hopkinton to Boston. Bananas, sweet potatoes, mangoes, grapefruit, orange juice, beets, potato chips, Gatorade, coffee – probably sucked down about 2,000 calories by 9:30. I was determined not to run out of gas today like last year. Hopped on one of the approximately 20 million school buses shuttling runners out to Hopkinton at about 7:00 am. The scene in downtown Boston must be unique – 28,000 people, all decked out in running gear, excited, nervous, happy, all in line in the Boston Common, all ready to ... get on a school bus for an hour and a half to get to the starting line. But it is a wonderful atmosphere, a great equalizer as scrubs and slowpokes like myself mix with elite runners who will finish before I get to Newton. I swear they must recruit every school bus in Massachusetts for this project.

Hop on the bus with my inspiration for both joining Dana-Farber and for running marathons, my brother-in-law Matt (running his 20th Boston Marathon on Monday) and sister-in-law Heather (her 10th Boston), and we spend the ride talking about the race. We get to Hopkinton in good time, and get through the zoo that is the runners’ village, the local high school playing fields, a mash-up of porta-potties by the score, sponsor tents galore, and a sea of runners just kind of hanging out, going through their personal pre-race rituals, getting ready to run. As Dana-Farber runners, we had a building to ourselves, so we spent the next hour or so continuing the fueling, stretching, taking photos, and generally getting ready.

By 10:20 the three of us head for the start, watching the second start wave pass us by. By 10:30 we are in our start corral, a small knot of runners in a mass of almost 10,000. Everyone is excited, everyone is ready, everyone wants to be there. And unlike last year, I am ready, I am trained, and I have a fuel plan and a race strategy. The gun goes off at 10:40 and we slowly make our way to the start, taking about three minutes to cross the line, and my race is on as I start my Garmin.

The initial miles of the Boston Marathon are gravy, pure excitement and fun. The streets of Hopkinton are packed with virtually all of its several thousand residents, and the two-lane street is absolutely packed to the gills with runners. No way to pick up the pace in the first mile or so – it’s just too crowded. But the tableau is amazing as you run through the light rolling hills, a flowing ribbon of bobbing heads in front, stretching out endlessly ahead of you. Runners peel off to the side to relieve themselves of excess clothing and excess fluid. The street is littered with hats and gloves, the roadside piled with sweatpants, jackets, fleeces and various athletic detritus (all collected and donated to charity).

My goal was to break four hours. Last year was a tough race, as injury prevented me from a full-blown training program. But I had surgery last fall to correct the problem (a torn right hip labrum) and was able to get in about 90% of my training program, with some little niggling injuries holding me back a bit. But I had a solid taper and a really good fuel plan, my legs felt great and I was pretty confident that I could make it. It meant nine minute miles the whole way, and I believed that I could do it. I had run a 1:45 half-marathon in Hyannis in late February, had some really good long training runs leading up to this day, and was determined to break the four-hour barrier. Not fast by any means, but it would represent an improvement over last year of more than an hour and ten minutes, and that would be significant.

So I set off with a good pace, knocking off mile one in about 9:30, right on target, as I need a while to warm up. Crossing the one-mile mark, I picked up the pace, knowing that I would need to average about 8:50-8:55 the rest of the way to compensate for those extra 30 seconds. And the next twenty miles were just beautiful. It is hard to describe how it feels, but when you hit your stride in a really long run, when you find your pace and your stroke, you can just run and run and run like you’re never going to stop, like you never want to stop. I had worked really hard on my fitness and my technique, and I found my “I-can-run-all-day-at-this-pace” pace, and it was something else. At one point a runner next to me commented on how smooth my gait and how light my foot strike seemed – it was a really nice compliment and buoyed me for a while, knowing that my training was really paying off in terms of efficiency.

The miles began to flow by. Checking my Garmin regularly, I could see my pace – around 8:55 per mile, every mile. Passing through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, the course is mostly downhill, but I had trained for this so I was ready. Tremendous crowds yelling their support the entire way, from drunk bikers in Ashland to families in Framingham, the spectators are a huge part of the race.

A marathon is so long that for most people there is a point at which, I imagine, most runners wonder how on earth they are going to make it to the end. Despite the training, despite the belief, it’s just so much work that sometime in just about every amateur’s race, you just kind of wonder, “what the hell am I doing and how the hell am I going to get through this?” And it’s not so much self-doubt or worry as it is a genuine sense of wonder about how the body and mind are going to get through it. I hit that point probably around the halfway point in Wellesley. It’s like I knew I could do it, but I wasn’t 100% sure how. So I just kept running, which I suppose is the key.

I crossed the halfway point in 1:58, hard up against my goal. I would need to run pretty much exactly the same second half to have a chance of coming in under 4:00. And now the easy part, the gently rolling part, was over. The steep stuff, both up and down, was coming up. But I was feeling great, fuel plan working perfectly, no lactate in the legs, very strong and consistent miles. By sixteen, where I began to run into difficulty last year as the downhill pounding began to suck the life out of my legs, I was still feeling it, putting up consistent sub-nine-minute miles according to my computer. Around seventeen I slowed down for hugs and kisses from my family, pausing briefly as they screamed in support. But there was no real stopping – I was on target for my goal and needed every second.

Around this time is when I think most runners make or break their race – the Newton Hills. And it’s not so much that the hills are particularly difficult in and of themselves. It’s more a case of where they are in the race. Even if you’ve had a good race up to this point, the three big climbs in Newton culminating in Heartbreak Hill at mile 21 can just wipe your legs out without warning, and when you lose it, you lose it fast. As your glycogen levels deplete up the hills, the muscles just stop working – the dreaded “wall” or “bonk”. And for the average to below-average marathon runner (of which I am one), that point comes sooner or later. You just have to have a plan for dealing with it. You make a deal with yourself: suck down as much fuel as you can and no matter what happens, run through that wall and promise yourself it’ll be worth it at the end when you cross the finish line.

One of the things I did this year to help me get through that wall was to dedicate the race to someone. Running for Dana-Farber helped me put things in perspective. While I have selfish personal goals in running a marathon, I also understand that it’s just running. Three people in my life have or had infinitely tougher fights, and I dedicated this effort to my dad, my aunt Liz, and my father-in-law Don. Dad and Liz are currently in the fight against cancer; Don we lost to the disease in 2008. So I wear three wristbands with the inscription “I’m running for” and their names written on them. So I am running Monday for my dad. I am running for Aunt Liz. I am running to honor the memory of Don. And I am running to raise money so their fight will not be waged alone, so that they and future generations can win this fight. So every time I approach the wall, every time I think my legs are going to give up, every time I think I am having a difficult day, I look at my right wrist and see those three wristbands: I am running for Dad. I am running for Liz. I am running for Don. My day is easy. I can do this.

And I could. Make it up and through the Newton Hills in great shape. Starting to hurt, starting to cramp up a bit, but the legs just keep going, mile after mile, within the four-hour goal but not much time to spare. Up and over Heartbreak, into Brookline where the growing crowd cheers us on. Sucking down fuel every fifteen minutes, I make it to mile 23, where the legs packed it in last year and I had to walk most of the rest of the way. Legs starting to cramp more severely now, but I was prepared for this and know how to run through it. Starting to slow down, but have built enough time into the race to have a bit in reserve and still make four hours. By 24 I am starting to hurt a lot, but it’s pretty much all downhill from here. I can do two miles on willpower alone. At 25 I’m starting to drag a bit but then I pass the Dana-Farber patient-partner cheering section and the hoops and hollers from the crowd push me forward as I wave at them and they yell me on.

Past mile 25 now, about a 9:30 pace. Garmin says about 3:49. All I need is about a ten-minute mile pace and I’ll be right up against the four hours. I can do this. Pass the one-mile-to-go marker, about ten minutes to go. I can do this. Start down the little incline on Comm Ave that leads to the right turn at Hereford. Starting to cramp up now, but not far to go.

And then, out of nowhere, another runner, like me trying for a time, exhausted, running out of gas, just trying to push through, cuts in front of me to get position. In my depleted state, I try to get out of the way. Just a running incident. Happens all the time in a crowded road race. But as I move, I stub my left toe. Compensating, I stumble. My right foot kicks straight into the ground at full force, toes extended (imagine kicking a brick wall with your bare foot as hard as you can). This triggers massive muscle spasms in my right leg. But I’ve had this before – I know how to run through cramps, so I keep going. Less than a mile to go. I can do this. And then, within five steps, it feels like someone has split my right foot open with an axe. The force of the blow against the pavement has severely sprained my right foot. The pain is absolutely excruciating. My gait falters – I can’t put any weight on my forefoot. But I don’t really have shoes on (VFFs) so I can’t land on my heel or it will destroy my knees and hips. Oh crap, what am I going to do now? So I kind of instinctively look at my wrist – Dad, Liz, and Don. I can do this.

A few more steps and the pain gets worse. My right foot is now pretty much useless. But there’s probably only three-quarters of a mile to go. I can do this on my hands and knees if I have to. Garmin says 3:55. Can I do this? I start swinging my remaining limbs wildly, trying to generate forward momentum any way I can. I probably look like Quasimodo, hopping forward, arms swinging, right leg kind of flopping as I put as little weight as possible on it. The only things that propel me forward are the bands on my right wrist and the screaming crowds on Comm Ave, Hereford, and Boylston. Runners flow by me offering pats on the back and encouragement. “Great job, buddy!” “You got this, man, keep going!” “You’re almost there, don’t stop!”

Turn onto Boylston. I can see the finish now, the yellow and blue arch at Copley that is the end of the line. I’ll make it. It’ll hurt, but I’ll make it. Flopping forward, I must look like one of those people featured in blooper videos of runners struggling to make it to the finish. Garmin says 3:58. I’m not going to make it in time. I’m going at a 10:30 pace now. Not enough time left. But I won’t stop running. One of my goals was not to get injured, but I guess I won’t make that goal now. At least I can make another one: last year I stopped running, and that was a bit of a disappointment. This year, I won’t stop running. I am going to RUN the entire Boston Marathon this year because I am running for a cause, for someone else, and I told myself that I would RUN it for them. No matter what. This has become meaningful for me. So I hobble forward. 3:59 passes. Then 4:00. The line looms ever closer, but I guess 3:59 will have to wait for another year.

4:01. There’s the line. Made it. Barely.

And there’s the medical staff waiting just on the other side. As I hit the line with my good leg, I take one step over it, and I am done. I can’t take another step. My right foot feels like it has exploded and my right leg is one massive muscle spasm. The medical staff helps me to the medical tent. My body feels great – I was ready for this and apart from the right leg, I could walk on out of there and maybe go a few more miles. But my right leg is done for a while. But I did it. I ran the Boston Marathon. The whole way.

So that’s it. That’s my story this year. I had a great race, a great time, executed my training and racing plan exactly as I had mapped it out. All except that last mile or so, but then you can’t really plan for everything. As the old saying goes: no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The right foot is sprained pretty badly, so I’ll stay off it for a week or so and be back on the road soon (x-rays were, thank goodness, negative). I would have gone under four if not for the incident, so I am very pleased with how everything went. And in the end, four is just a number. I ran more than an hour and ten minutes faster than last year. I devised and executed a training, fueling, and race plan that worked exactly how I wanted it to. I enjoyed myself. I reached my goals. Most importantly, I raised over $5,000 for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. I ran for my dad, for Liz, and for Don. I hope that I inspired them to keep fighting and maybe others to do the same.

My donor support was incredible. They made this possible and their support will make a difference in cancer patients’ lives and treatment. I got to choose my battle in running a marathon. But for all of us there are loved ones who do not get to choose their battles. I guess this is one way that we can help them fight and win the toughest battles of all.
 

Kremlin Watcher

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
4,725
Houston, TX
Nice! I saw some guy on the news taking Heartbreak barefoot.

When you get a chance, I'd be curious what you do with your stride on downhills. I find I much prefer uphill to downhill in VFFs. One of the WBZ guys pointed out that Kim Smith is a forefoot striker, and thought that the overall downhill of the marathon course put too much stress on her calves.
I spent a fair amount of time training on hills this season, so was able to work on the downhill stride in the VFFs quite a bit. First, take the basic barefoot stride: high cadence, short stride with a pronounced forefoot strike, minimal heel/ground contact, rapid leg turnover, head high, chest forward, kind of running downhill on level ground. To accomodate hills, I try to shorten the stride a little, speed up the cadence, point the toes, over-pronounce the forefoot strike, and try to minimize the leg lift. I imagine that it looks like I am shuffling my feet when I go downhill, kind of like a penguin. But it seems to work. The problem with running downhill is that you fall farther with every step and it just sucks energy from the legs. By shortening the stride and minimizing leg lift I find that I can reduce the pounding sensation that is so energy-intensive. There is no way to eliminate the energy depletion of hills, but I have found a way to mitigate it to an extent that seems to work reasonably well.
 

underhandtofirst

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[quote name='Trautwein's Degree' timestamp='1303397261' post='3460913']
Kara Goucher. Heel striker.


[/quote]

Could you post about 20 more photos of Kara? All in the name of the science of running, of course.
 

88 MVP

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Looking to get back into running after a long time away. By way of background, I raced XC in high school and a year in college, then moved on to running about 50mi/week and doing occasional road races and one marathon

Fast forward 6 years and I'm thinking about getting back into it and trying VFFs or other minimalist shoes. My concern is that I have somewhat low arches, I'm a natural heel striker, and I'm carrying considerably more weight these days... Bad idea?

Anyone have a good training program for someone like me? Not in great shape and looking to lose weight and build my endurance and speed up again so I can get back into road races. Obviously it will be a long, slow process but finding a good place to start would help.
 

TallerThanPedroia

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Fast forward 6 years and I'm thinking about getting back into it and trying VFFs or other minimalist shoes. My concern is that I have somewhat low arches, I'm a natural heel striker, and I'm carrying considerably more weight these days... Bad idea?
KremlinWatcher and I both wear VFFs. I don't know about him, but I'd only had three years of running experience and was an extreme heel striker with a very heavy footfall and long stride before I started. I can't even fathom going back, but I will say: start completely from scratch. I lost last summer to stress fractures in my metatarsals from getting ahead of myself. It's been about a year and a half now and I'm just about to run my first half marathon in them. It takes a while for your feet, ankles, and calves to reconfigure after a lifetime of doing it wrong.

As for more weight, that to me argues against heel striking. When you heel strike you're hitting the ground (and therefore the ground is hitting you) with a sharp impact force up to three times your body weight.
 

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Thanks, that link was an interesting read. Do you think it's a better idea to start from scratch going 100% barefoot/minimalist or to start off still wearing regular trainers and gradually mix in more time in the VFFs?
 

TallerThanPedroia

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Thanks, that link was an interesting read. Do you think it's a better idea to start from scratch going 100% barefoot/minimalist or to start off still wearing regular trainers and gradually mix in more time in the VFFs?
A lot of people start by wearing more minimal shoes - no raised heel, flexible sole (especially flexible along the short axis - so you can twist the toes clockwise and the heel counterclockwise, for instance), no arch support, like Nike Frees or the equivalent. A lot of my runner friends wear what they call "racing flats" which is basically what all running shoes were before Nike changed things in the 1970s.

Birthday Shoes has reviews of the various new minimal shoes. I can't really speak to any of them, but some look like they're just trying to ride the fad. I'm madly in love with my Bikilas so I don't do much comparison shopping any more.

edit:

Adding - I've put more miles on those Bikilas than any other running shoe (368 and counting), and apart from looking a little dingy on the inside they're like brand new. I remember when I actually bought into that "get new shoes every 3-6 months" crap. So they're easier on the legs and the wallet.
 

Kremlin Watcher

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It's going. Spent Jan-April mostly running and in the weight room. Tried to balance the running between volume and lactate/speed work. Had a few minor injuries that slowed me down but ran a great half in Hyannis in February (1:45) and had a pretty good day in Boston. Got a new bike and a new indoor bike trainer so have been spending some good time on the bike, but the run was #1 until last Monday. Also went to a swim clinic to work on my stroke efficiency and think I have that figured out. The plan was to come out of Boston in tip-top running shape, which I am pretty happy with apart from the sprained foot. So I am now moving into the next training period, which will be more bike-centric, with both huge volume as well as speed and lactate threshold work on the bike, increasing intensity with the weights, less running focused more on speed and lactate threshold work rather than volume (injury avoidance), and as much open-water swimming as I can manage. Working on a race plan and fuel strategy, which I think I have more or less figured out. I have bad cramping problems, so in-race fueling is critical for me. If I get that wrong I'll be toast halfway through the run. It's three months to go now, and the plan calls for increasing intensity and volume in all disciplines and the weight room up until about July 10-12, when I will have my last Big Day, basically a simulated Ironman less about 10%. Then it'll be a taper of about two weeks, polish the race strategy and fuel plan, some lower-volume but high-intensity maintenance leading up to the race, drive to Lake Placid on the 22nd, rest for a day, and then get out there on July 24th and find out something new about myself. Should be an interesting day. I am really enjoying the challenge of preparing for an Ironman. I hope I enjoy the race as much. I think I will.
 

underhandtofirst

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I remember when I actually bought into that "get new shoes every 3-6 months" crap.
This isnt crap if the shoes lose some of their cushioning. Granted, what you're running in is entirely different, but for those of us running in regular shoes that 300-500 mile range is where we have to be careful. I'd imagine heavier runners will pound on their shoes more.
 

Kremlin Watcher

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[quote name='Trautwein's Degree' timestamp='1303744409' post='3471774']
Wow. About how many hours a week does that work out to?
[/quote]
It varies from week to week but between now and the beginning of my taper it should be in the 15-20 hour per week range. It's a lot of work with a lot of two-a-days and some long, long rides.
 

TallerThanPedroia

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This isnt crap if the shoes lose some of their cushioning. Granted, what you're running in is entirely different, but for those of us running in regular shoes that 300-500 mile range is where we have to be careful. I'd imagine heavier runners will pound on their shoes more.
Right, I'm just saying, and only from my perspective, not only were shoe companies/stores telling me to wear shoes that were hurting my knees and hips, but that I also had to buy new ones 3-4 times a year so that they didn't start hurting my knees and hips even more.
 

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Right, I'm just saying, and only from my perspective, not only were shoe companies/stores telling me to wear shoes that were hurting my knees and hips, but that I also had to buy new ones 3-4 times a year so that they didn't start hurting my knees and hips even more.
I picked up a pair of VFF's over the weekend along with Asics DS Trainers (what I was used to) and I'm going to mix in the VFF's and work on moving to a forefoot strike.

It makes sense that you don't need to replace the VFF's - they're mainly just protecting your foot from puncture. With a normal running shoe as the various materials age and lose their elasticity (which will happen at different rates based on the different materials in the heal, medial post, forefoot, etc.) and it will essentially become a different shoe entirely after 300 miles or whatever the case may be.
 

underhandtofirst

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For those that ran on Monday: please post any and all critiques and comments as the memories come flooding back this week. A great portion of my time (too great, if you ask my wife) goes to making sure you have as positive an experience as possible. Early feedback looks like this year might have been the smoothest and most 'enjoyable' race in memory (near-perfect conditions help), but we look to improve every year.

I'd love to hear what you liked, disliked and remembered about your day.

Edit: congrats, KW!
Any initial thoughts on how three waves worked vs two waves?

I noticed 10% of the entrants didnt start the race. That seems pretty high especially because the conditions were just about perfect.

I read that only 25% of the runners get in because they are representing a charity, but 15 out of 25 in my town got in that way. Is the total number still 25%?

Any chance Mutai gets the World Record? Obviously Boston is a net downhill course, but the up and down nature of the course has to negate that advantage. I've seen studies on how uphills hurt you much more than downhills help, especially when the uphills are late in a race. Same with headwinds vs tailwinds.
 

Kremlin Watcher

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This isnt crap if the shoes lose some of their cushioning. Granted, what you're running in is entirely different, but for those of us running in regular shoes that 300-500 mile range is where we have to be careful. I'd imagine heavier runners will pound on their shoes more.
I would add that if you run with a pronounced forefoot strike, in effect mimicking the barefoot stride but while wearing shoes, you can get significantly greater mileage out of a pair of shoes because you are not depending on them for cushioning. For most people considering barefoot/VFFs, a lighter, lesser-padded shoe like Nike Frees are a good way to start and they will pretty much last until they fall apart.
 

bgo544

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So I have my first-ever 10k race this Saturday. Training has gone well, even better than expected, so I feel physically ready. The only thing I am unsure of is how to handle running in large crowds - I have never done this before - the only competitive running I have done was on the cross-country team in high school many many years ago, and that was never more than a couple dozen people at once.

Any advice from seasoned runners on how to handle the crowding aspect, especially at the start? Just go with the flow until things open up a bit?
 

Kremlin Watcher

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So I have my first-ever 10k race this Saturday. Training has gone well, even better than expected, so I feel physically ready. The only thing I am unsure of is how to handle running in large crowds - I have never done this before - the only competitive running I have done was on the cross-country team in high school many many years ago, and that was never more than a couple dozen people at once.

Any advice from seasoned runners on how to handle the crowding aspect, especially at the start? Just go with the flow until things open up a bit?
Most local races should have signs at the start indicating pace - there should be a sign at the front saying something like "6 minute miles", then one a little further back saying "7 minute miles"' etc. So then you just start in the group of people planning to run at your pace and you should be fine. Unless there are thousands of racers it should thin out pretty quickly, allowing you to stretch it out if you want. Just be mindful of not cutting other runners off and be careful at aid stations - there's a lot of congestion and slowing down at the water stops.

Good luck.
 

pv21feet

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Any initial thoughts on how three waves worked vs two waves?
Apologies, just saw this post. It seems like three waves went about as well as planned. From where I was, there seemed to be a bit of a back-up between waves 2 and 3, and we could have used a few extra minutes (literally just 2-4 more) in between waves, but we anticipated that and had extra folks on hand to help the runners get to where they needed to be. In a perfect world, we could stage regularly-scheduled waves well into the afternoon. But that would create far too much of a burden on the cities and towns, as well as on the support staff down-course.

I noticed 10% of the entrants didnt start the race. That seems pretty high especially because the conditions were just about perfect.
I could be wrong, but I feel like ~10% is the average. Yes, it was great weather, but someone planning on skipping the Boston isn't changing their mind the Friday before the race because there's a 50% chance of a tailwind (see: 2007 Boston Marathon). Still, to be average this year, with the registration policies generating so much attention, is a bit surprising.

I read that only 25% of the runners get in because they are representing a charity, but 15 out of 25 in my town got in that way. Is the total number still 25%?
I believe the ratio's more like 80-20 qualified runners to charity runners. You must live in a fat, philanthropic town. :)

Any chance Mutai gets the World Record? Obviously Boston is a net downhill course, but the up and down nature of the course has to negate that advantage. I've seen studies on how uphills hurt you much more than downhills help, especially when the uphills are late in a race. Same with headwinds vs tailwinds.
Even before it was official that the application for WR status was denied, I didn't think it'd get credited. As much as I'd like to say I was a (VERY) small part of a world record, I thought Amby Burfoot made a compelling argument:
This doesn't mean that Boston has faster average times than other marathon courses. In fact, it doesn't. This doesn't mean that Boston is always faster than other courses; it isn't. It simply means that on rare and wondrous days, such as this past Monday, a tailwind can push Boston runners to times significantly faster than they would ever achieve on a loop course...The Boston Marathon would do well to celebrate its historic course for what it is, and not make paltry attempts to turn the course into something it's not.
 

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I've read that no amount of training can overcome a bad diet. I buy this. I train well, but I eat way too many processed carbs. For the next few weeks, I'm going to do a modified South Beach Phase 2 diet. I'm going to toss my morning bagel for an omlette, eliminate things like cheez-its, and focus on whole foods. Especially obtaining my carbs exclusively from fruits and vegetables. I'd really like to drop 10 pounds or so prior to starting marathon training (6 weeks away).

I'd love to hear any suggestions that you have. I can't be the only runner to struggle with finding the right balance of carbs.
 

underhandtofirst

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[quote name='Trautwein's Degree' timestamp='1304348536' post='3489388']
I've read that no amount of training can overcome a bad diet. I buy this. I train well, but I eat way too many processed carbs. For the next few weeks, I'm going to do a modified South Beach Phase 2 diet. I'm going to toss my morning bagel for an omlette, eliminate things like cheez-its, and focus on whole foods. Especially obtaining my carbs exclusively from fruits and vegetables. I'd really like to drop 10 pounds or so prior to starting marathon training (6 weeks away).

I'd love to hear any suggestions that you have. I can't be the only runner to struggle with finding the right balance of carbs.
[/quote]

I've tried a few times to lose about 10 lbs but I never succeed. Part of the problem is eating late at night after getting home from work or rushing off to work after a run in the morning. Time isnt helping and I'm not disciplined enough to lay everything out before hand. Even during the day at work, I'll get caught up with stuff and only have a few mins for lunch. Cue the violins.

If you can find a way to drop some weight while training I'd be excited to hear it. I'm too damn hungry these days running 30-40 miles per week.
 

Traut

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If you can find a way to drop some weight while training I'd be excited to hear it. I'm too damn hungry these days running 30-40 miles per week.
I'm thinking the simplest thing to do is to consume more protein. For example, I ususally have an apple. Today, I'm having an apple with natural peanut butter. I'm replacing chips with things like hardboiled eggs. Instead of a banana, it's going to be a banana with peanut butter. Ideally, this leaves me more full and I stop craving shit like pretzels.

I'm going to confine refined carbs to before and after long runs. I think there's a place in a runner's diet for a bagel.
 

Kremlin Watcher

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It has been my experience over the past year that a diet high in protein, fruit, vegetables and nuts, while low in fat and without any processed carbs is a very effective way to both lose weight (assuming you exercise a lot) and, more importantly, improve athletic performance. The high protein part helps in recovery, while the carbs from the fruits, veg and nuts are really good fuel. The biggest drawback is that you have to cut out a lot of foods you love, and you have to eat a lot of calories as your body adjusts to the new regime, which has a lot of foods that are less filling than a diet heavy on processed carbs. But the biggest differences in cutting out the processed carbs is that your glycemic loading changes dramatically and even though you get stomach hungry pretty frequently, you avoid the sugar highs and thus the sugar crashes that promote poor eating habits; and the elimination of gluten has, I think, really promoted better digestion and regularity. You don't need to go all Paleo to make it work, but cutting your processed carbs by 75% or more will really help. And when you work out a lot, fuel with a maltodextrin-based drink or gel - it is vastly more effective than glucose, sucrose, or fructose-based fuels.
 

Traut

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You don't need to go all Paleo to make it work, but cutting your processed carbs by 75% or more will really help. And when you work out a lot, fuel with a maltodextrin-based drink or gel - it is vastly more effective than glucose, sucrose, or fructose-based fuels.
Thanks Kremlin. I've read and thought a lot about the Paleo-diet for athletes. A colleague of mine has had great success with the regular paleo diet. Your performance in Boston has inspired me to eat better. I've started down this road before but this time, I'm going to make it work.

I realized that I was borderline insane when I was trying on new shoes and worrying about the amount of ounces they weighed. It's ridiculous. Losing 10 pounds is a far greater difference than the weight of one's shoes.

There's simply nothing better I can do for my running than to drop 10 pounds. I type this as I'm eating celery and peanut butter.
 

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[quote name='Trautwein's Degree' timestamp='1304434117' post='3492170']
I realized that I was borderline insane when I was trying on new shoes and worrying about the amount of ounces they weighed. It's ridiculous. Losing 10 pounds is a far greater difference than the weight of one's shoes.
[/quote]
Yeah, it's like the triathletes who buy $600 wetsuits, $300 racing suits, $5,000 bikes and $150 running shoes and all the fancy aero crap, then wonder what the problem is when they are getting dropped halfway into the swim. It's the engine, not the wheels, that make you go fast. And engines that move less weight are either faster, more efficient, or both. Ten grams isn't going to make a difference, but yes, ten pounds will make you measurably faster, as long as you do it at a gradual pace so you don't hurt your fitness during the weight loss. Good luck.
 

rbeaud

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Yeah, it's like the triathletes who buy $600 wetsuits, $300 racing suits, $5,000 bikes and $150 running shoes and all the fancy aero crap, then wonder what the problem is when they are getting dropped halfway into the swim. It's the engine, not the wheels, that make you go fast. And engines that move less weight are either faster, more efficient, or both. Ten grams isn't going to make a difference, but yes, ten pounds will make you measurably faster, as long as you do it at a gradual pace so you don't hurt your fitness during the weight loss. Good luck.
It seems from what I have read that 1 oz of shoe is approximately equivalent to 1 lb of weight in terms of affecting pace (both are good for 1 sec/mile). That said, I agree with loosing weight being overall better for you than buying lighter shoes. I'm going to try the same along with more frequent eatin. I find the binging when starved is when the calorie counter goes nuts.

BTW, a hearty congratulations on your Boston effort. Really tremendous especially when considering your charitable entry meant helping someone else's life while making you feel proud of the accomplishment.
 

Kremlin Watcher

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It seems from what I have read that 1 oz of shoe is approximately equivalent to 1 lb of weight in terms of affecting pace (both are good for 1 sec/mile). That said, I agree with loosing weight being overall better for you than buying lighter shoes. I'm going to try the same along with more frequent eatin. I find the binging when starved is when the calorie counter goes nuts.

BTW, a hearty congratulations on your Boston effort. Really tremendous especially when considering your charitable entry meant helping someone else's life while making you feel proud of the accomplishment.
Thanks. Really a remarkable experience.

On the diet, the single best thing about it for me (among many) is the insulin response regulation. A diet low in processed carbs keeps your blood sugar at appropriate levels, so you tend to eat when your stomach is hungry rather than when your blood sugar crashes, which is what often triggers binge eating, which usually involves eating foods rich in processed carbs, which pumps up the blood sugar, and it becomes a nasty cycle.

I have to say that the "lighter-is-always-better" argument is never 100% clear to me. I can see that if you weight, say, 120, and are a really fast runner with great technique, then yes, lighter is probably almost always better. If, however, you weigh 180, have a heavy heel strike and run eight minute miles, then five grams of extra padding is probably what you need. There is almost always a trade-off between weight and another important quality, such as stability, padding, comfort, support, etc. I think it depends heavily on the individual.