Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.
From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.
From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.
Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.
July 23, 2012
Claire Wood, Senior Footwear Product Manager (Performance Running) at New Balance
Claire Wood has spent a career working in running footwear design and sales. After stints at industry sales powerhouses Mizuno and Brooks, Claire now works with New Balance in their Boston headquarters, leading the development of some of their most popular recent styles.
rc: Sometimes when shopping for shoes, a salesperson will ask you to run a bit so he or she can analyze your gait. What types of things are they looking for to help determine the best shoe for you?
CW: In this case, the salesperson is looking to identify any biomechanical tendencies – meaning what your body and mechanics by default are doing. This could include the popular overpronation, meaning to roll inward a significant amount that could lead to injury. Overpronation is very common, and a variety of stability shoes address this. Always tell the sales person what prior injuries or areas of pain you often experience. Pain on the inside of the knees or shins could be from rolling inward upon impact and can be easily remedied.
rc: What are the key aspects of a shoe that determine what kind of runner it is designed for?
CW: Running shoes have gotten so elaborate that it can often be overwhelming to try to figure them out. Running shoes all fall within a certain category, Neutral, Stability, or Control. Neutral means that the footprint and basic design of a shoe is for a runner with a pretty efficient biomechanical gait. A stability shoe would have a higher density of material, found on the medial side of the shoe to bring additional protection to counter forces rolling inward. Control shoes are the highest degree of stability – and are less common than neutral and stability shoes. Always make sure that whatever you’re fit in feels comfortable, as nothing should hurt. In addition to the basic categories, running shoes offer a variety of heights which situate your foot in various positions off the ground. This is called “offset”, and is an important aspect of the shoe. Always make sure you’re never transitioning too rapidly from a shoe higher off the ground to a shoe much lower to the ground, also called a “minimal shoe”.
rc: What are some ways in which current shoe technology has evolved to better serve runners?
CW: The goal with any running shoe should be to make the experience better for the runner, and let the runner think about the run, not the shoe. Materials in the upper of the shoe have become much thinner and more pliable, allowing for a more secure fit with a much lighter feeling over the foot. The materials that make up the midsole – foams, rubbers, and plastics, are also significantly more innovative. The goal with technology in running shoes is that it improves cushioning, stability and the overall performance of the shoe. This could mean the protective element or the actual feel – be it bouncy or plush.
rc: What are the next frontier(s) for shoe design? What kinds of challenges are you and other shoe designers looking to tackle over the next several years?
CW: The next frontiers of shoe design are always focused around the goal of making the run better. Just as our iphones, laptops and vacuums are getting lighter – this is the goal of running shoes. It is important, however, to never sacrifice something in order to make a shoe lighter. For a runner logging a lot of miles or with an injury history – there is often a fine line. That said, the focus of footwear has shifted to not only include what is under the foot and on top of the foot, but the actual position the foot is in throughout the entire gait cycle. Having an awareness of this and helping runners better their overall form – feet, core and upper body included, is all part of what we believe is inclusive to footwear design. Thinking of the foot as an extension of the body, it is our duty to think of the footwear design as an extension of all elements that affect that foot.
July 08, 2012
Ask the Practitioner - Chafing
rc: Many runners find red and raw trouble spots on various parts of the body after running long distances. What are some typical causes for this chafing?
JE: The cause of chafing is mechanical. It is due to repetitive motion of skin rubbing against skin or against other materials like clothing. It can be made worse by moisture, whether it is environmental (rain) or from sweat. The most common areas of the body on which it occurs are the inner thighs, underarms, nipples (men), and bra line (women).
rc: What are the potential benefits of barefoot running or running in minimalist shoes?
AD: I think that the biggest potential benefit of the barefoot style of running is reduced injury. The barefoot style of running that habitually barefoot and minimalist runners tend to use is a forefoot strike, landing on the outside ball of the foot before easing the heel down under the control of the calf muscles. This style of running minimizes the forces experienced at impact, which may help to avoid injury. Notice that this focuses less on what is under a runners’ feet and instead considers how footwear affects how runners use their feet and how this changes their style of running. My recent work looking at foot strike and injuries in collegiate runners found a nearly two-fold reduction in running injuries among forefoot strikers, none of whom were barefoot runners (Daoud AI et al. Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: a retrospective study. MSSE, 2012.). This was a study about running form, more work especially prospective work needs to be done to look at the interplay between footwear, running form and injury. A singular focus on what runners strap to their feet can easily lead a runner into danger.
Another potential benefit would be financial savings. Since forefoot strike runners do not use the cushioning of a shoe to reduce the impact, shoes can be worn for many more miles before being replaced. As a forefoot strike runner, I usually wait until the upper is pulling off the lower before tossing shoes.
Studies on running efficiency have gone both ways. Our lab recently found that running in minimal shoes is more efficient regardless of foot strike and that there was no difference between heel striking and forefoot striking in terms of running efficiency (Perl DP et al. Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running Economy. MSSE, 2012.). While Rodger Kram’s lab has found that barefoot running is less efficient than running in lightweight, cushioned shoes (Franz JR et al. Metabolic Cost of Running Barefoot versus Shod: Is Lighter Better? MSSE, 2012.). But in general, a less injured runner is a better-trained, fitter runner so even if forefoot striking is not more efficient there may be performance gains by avoiding time off due to injury.
rc: What are the risks?
AD: While the major benefit of the forefoot strike running is injury reduction, the greatest risk is increased chance of injury during a runner’s transition from their current running form to forefoot strike running and possibly doing so in a more minimal shoe. Forefoot strike running puts very different stresses on the lower limb compared to heel striking. The muscles of the calf and foot have to do more work each time the foot strikes the ground while the bones of the foot incur impact and bending forces that are different than those experienced in heel striking. In addition, running barefoot or in a more minimal shoe will require increased muscle force to stiffen the arch of the foot and the bones of the foot may be subjected to less evenly distributed forces. Recent case reports have described instances of metatarsal injury in runners transitioning to barefoot running. Though if case reports were written up for all of the injuries sustained by “normal” runners, sports medicine journals wouldn’t have room for anything else.
Other risks are quite obvious such as injury to the sole of the foot due to surface conditions if a runner chooses to run completely barefoot. Though these risks can be greatly reduced by using your eyes and choosing smooth surfaces that are free of jagged debris. A hard surface such as a road or sidewalk can be a good surface.
rc: What are some sensible ways to experiment with barefoot / minimalist running to explore whether it is appropriate for you?
AD: The first thing to do is to decide whether or not your current form is working for you. If in your years, possibly decades of running you’ve found shoes that fit your running form and you’re not plagued by injuries then why change? But if you’ve struggled with injury as a heel strike runner then you might want to consider trying out forefoot striking. Unless they ask, my running friends don’t hear a word from me about running form until they get injured. This not only gives me a chance to figure out how much they’ve been injured in the past, but also transitioning to forefoot strike running can line up perfectly with returning from injury since you’re already running at a reduced volume and intensity. Transitioning should be done slowly and in accordance with what your body is telling you, just as you would any other new training technique such as weightlifting or plyometric exercises.
Concerning form, jump straight up in the air. Where on your foot did you just land? You should do the same when you run. Try out running completely barefoot on a track or smooth paved surface to try to get a feel for what it should feel like. Your bare feet will encourage you to run correctly as it will hurt to do otherwise. Don’t run barefoot on overly soft ground to learn good technique since the cushioning of the ground will allow you to run without good form. You can find more information including videos of forefoot strike running in various footwear on my past lab’s website.
The biggest mistake a runner could make would be to buy the newest, coolest pair of minimalist shoes and then go out and continue running in the same way they always have – heel striking – in their new minimal shoes. The heel cushioning of a standard running shoe will no longer attenuate the large impact forces of heel striking. Another mistake would be to consider the barefoot style as a panacea and to suddenly switch 100% of your running to forefoot striking. Your muscles need time to grow stronger and to learn the new firing pattern of a new gait pattern. And your bones need time to strengthen and remodel to adequately deal with the new loading patterns of forefoot strike running.
June 06, 2012
Participating in a race for a personal cause or organized charitable organization has become an extremely popular way to experience race day. Some of the largest marathons can boast of millions of dollars raised per year for great causes in this manner. Charities in almost every segment of the non-profit world have found their way into the action, offering race numbers for a variety of challenging endurance events.
If you are an experienced racer looking to try your next goal race with this additional motivation, or if you are seeking your first long endurance effort and wonder if the charitable piece would help you get to the finish line, here are a few things to consider when making the commitment.
May 17, 2012
Ask the Practitioner: Blisters!
MT: Good ways to help prevent blisters are to wear shoes that fit properly, wear thicker socks, run on even ground, break new shoes in over the period of a week, or wear skin lube over hot spots.
May 17, 2012
I admit it. I love the big races. Tens of thousands of runners, festival atmosphere, spectators all along the way - that is my type of marathon. I have checked a few of the biggest US marathons off the list over the past several years, but traveling abroad for a marathon was not anywhere near the top of my to do list.
Somehow, a wide-ranging conversation with a long time coaching client last fall coincided with a time when we both needed new goals and the narrow window for Paris Marathon registration was open. Next thing I knew, I was headed to the City of Lights for a running adventure.
Most of my weekends include coaching or participation in sort of running competition, but with all the quirks of the American running culture baked in. Many of these details I had taken for granted and had expected Paris to conform. To my surprise, I had the opportunity to wean myself out of the comfort zone, and experience a few things I look forward to having inform my running and coaching.
In the United States, the growth of running as a participatory (vs. competitive) sport has been well documented, and the expansion of the field has generally widened the spectrum of finishing times. In Paris, however, the very last corral offered at the Paris Marathon by finishing time was 4:30! My two traveling companions found that aid stations were being packed up as they arrived not too far behind that pace. At six hours, little remained of the finishing area, and the police presence had been lifted, leaving the last remaining few to navigate their own version of the final half mile around traffic. Amazing for a race of over 30,000 finishers.
In the wake of the explosive growth of women’s only events, women’s running has grown by leaps and bounds in the United States. While the Paris Marathon had a ton of men running 3-4 hours, a yawning gap of depth remained after the elite field on the women’s side. For myself, that was a plus – I’ll freely admit that a cool spot in the results was a draw. However, it spoke volumes of how much we take for granted the middle class American women’s fitness culture taking root in our neighborhoods. That “casually serious” athlete population remains a much smaller sisterhood in other parts of the world.
With a stroke of good fortune to find lodging between the start and finish, our little group had the opportunity to head to the race directly from our place. 45 minutes before, we set out, my companions to their end of the corrals, me to my end. So much for 4:30 am wakeups and long bus rides to the start! In a situation that I will likely never enjoy again and haven’t enjoyed before, I actually returned to our hotel to use the facilities in comfort, and had plenty of time to spare. A miracle. As the race time counted down, the handcycles were started early, but beyond that, each corral was just let through sequentially after the starting horn sounded. Nearly 35,000 people in one wave on a single street.
Myriad traffic islands, various bumps and signs loomed unmarked in the center of the road, with a few pretty rough 90 degree turns early on. Only the goodwill of the person pointing to it in front of you spared you from disaster. Merely the hint of the insurance liability involved in just these factors would have caused change and precautions in American races of this size. Here? No problem. Just watch your step.
4. Sports drink every mile? Pshaw.
In the US, many of our bigger marathons provide water and sports drink every mile or two miles. At this race, we received only water and fruit every 5K, and many times on what felt like variable sides of the road, causing some harrowing navigational challenges. Interestingly, the water was served in small bottles and returned in small dumpsters (great for bank shots)! With each water bottle, I grabbed a huge handful of oranges with my gloved hands (it was chilly) and stuffed my face into each for the next several hundred meters. Very messy, but these and gel packets got me to mile 18, where the sole Powerade station waited. Once, I would have laughed at myself for caring so much about sports drink, but by accustoming myself so much to it over the years, it tasted like liquid gold. Flourescent blue gold, but gold just the same.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable, yet jarring elements of the race were the lack of barricades during much of the course. Having watched the Tour de France on television, where cyclists climb narrow roads with crazy crowds just barely stepping back in time as the bicycles part the sea of people, It was slightly surreal to be barely avoiding people who had spilled on to the streets, off the curbs, cheering and stepping back milliseconds before the outermost person crashed into them.
Around mile 8, a boy on a scooter, accompanied by what appeared to be his father, also on a scooter, pushed along side us for at least a mile, on the street, until a fellow runner started yelling at him in French to get out of the way. Sunday long runners showed the minimal interest in making way, sometimes running the opposite direction along the route or leaving the tiniest fraction of a second while crossing the course. Absolutely, most marathons do not have barricades along the majority of the course, but if you have ever run down 1st avenue in the New York City Marathon and can picture that scene with no barricades or controlling police presence, then you can imagine the crazy vibe at a few points.
Will my Paris Marathon experience help me run faster next time out? Successful adaptation to the unexpected does breed confidence. The low key approach to many of the things American race directors might stress about definitely contributed to my own relaxed approach as a runner, and I believe that helped. More importantly, I gained a new appreciation for all of the little things we take for granted – what race directors do to ensure our safety, increase the chance we’ll have an enjoyable time, and have the ability to do our best. I learned I can survive without them, but I’m glad I usually don’t have to!
April 01, 2012
Jerry Riemer is a Wyoming born, Houston area resident, who spends his days as a quality control manufacturing supervisor for Halliburton. A volunteer paramedic who has taken mission trips to Honduras, Reimer is also celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary this week. In his own words, “Five years ago, ‘running behind,’ ‘jumping to conclusions,’ and ‘passing the buck’ were my only exercise. Now, I’ve developed ‘Adult Onset Athleticism.’ I’ve been to doctors and there is no treatment….”
With two marathons in the books already for 2012, Reimer looks forward to turning 60 and continuing to forge ahead with training and racing.
FNF: How did you start running?
JR: Growing up as a kid, I was not only chosen last, but the team captains fought over who had to take me on their team. I was in the army, and did a mile at 6:30 something in combat boots, but as an adult, I did a variety of different jobs. Finally, I saw my doctor in my mid-50s. He said I needed to lose weight and here is your medicine [exercise]. I discovered that all these years I had this endurance athlete hiding inside of me! I walked a 5k in 45 min, was dragged around a 5k in 33 minutes by a friend in 2007, and then worked up to doing three half marathons last year.
Published in Runner of the Month
March 31, 2012
Ben Bruce comes into 2012 with the momentum of a career best mark of 8:19 in the 3000m steeplechase, which earned him a spot on Team USA for the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea. With top five finishes in the USATF Indoor 3000m and road 15K championships already in 2012, Bruce is again demonstrating the kind of range that has allowed him to represent the US internationally in a variety of disciplines and distances.
Now training with the adidas sponsored McMillan Elite / Team USA Arizona in Flagstaff, AZ, this Cal Poly San Luis Obispo grad is preparing for the US Olympic Team Trials this June. Bruce’s journey to London can be tracked by following him on Twitter at @bbjamin.
FNF: Although probably best known as a steeplechaser, you have represented the US internationally in a wide variety of events - from the track to cross country, to the roads. Last month, you finished fourth in the US 15K Championships in Jacksonville. What is your favorite event among all these and why?
BB: I like them all. I really enjoy running a variety of different distances and surfaces. It adds variety and keeps things fresh. When I race the same distance over and over again, I sometimes feel like I am simply going through the motions. So to pick a favorite would be tough for me. I guess the best part is going to new cities and countries and the people I meet along the way. A race can be run on any road, track, or grass field in the world. The people involved in the race are what set it apart.
Published in World Class Runners
March 31, 2012
Adam Kemist, C.Ped and his wife Michelline own the On Your Mark running and walking store in Los Altos, California. A long time health and wellness professional, Adam is a Board-certified Pedorthist with biomechanics expertise and also has several years of experience as an FNF member. This month in Ask the Practitioner, Adam answers a few questions about Kinesio tape, which has become an increasingly popular tool among professional and recreational athletes.
FNF: What is the Kinesio Taping Method and how did it come about?
AK: In the mid-1970s, Dr. Kenzo Kase was a well-known Japanese practitioner licensed in chiropractic medicine and acupuncture. He could not find a tape to give him the results that he desired for himself and his patients. So he developed Kinesio Tape.
The Kinesio Taping Method is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions. Both Kinesio® Tex Tape and the training protocol have shown results that would have been unheard of using older methods and materials.
February 29, 2012
In March, we examine another common concern for many runners. Dr. Adam Tenforde returns to discuss a problem that can trip up runners like himself (28:23 for 10,000m), as well as recreational runners alike.
FNF: What is Achilles tendonitis?
AT: Achilles tendonitis describes a condition involving the tendon that connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the calcaneous (heel bone). The condition can either result from an acute stress (such as increase in training) or develop over time from chronic stressors, such as biomechanical factors or poor footwear.