Why Do So Many Runners Get Injured?

This question has plagued athletes for years. We have changed training techniques, running styles, and shoe structures, but still 30-75% of runners are hurt on a yearly basis as stated in an article by Alvin Powell, staff writer for the Harvard Gazette. In Powell’s article, he cites the new study done by Harvard Medical School which has found that the more softly you land with each step the better to avoid injury.  http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2016/02/where-runners-go-wrong/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=02.24.2016%20%281%29%20B

I am still amazed at the amount of heel-strikers in the sport of long distance running. In my coaching, the heel-striker will sooner or later come down with a repetitive injury. When a heel-striker makes impact with the ground, their leg is straight which can lead to pain all way up to the lower back. Not only do forefoot-strikers have a natural pad to land on when striking the ground, but the ankle and knee joints allow proper shock absorption to avoid a repetitive injury. At the same time, I have many people who want to run on the forefoot, but are unwilling to spend the time to protect their bodies with the workouts to build up their lower extremities i.e. gastrocnemius, Achilles tendon, feet, etc. The photo of my leg below walking over a hurdle took a lot of work to build up to avoid a repetitive injury.

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I have clients that range from milers to marathoners, but everyone who comes to see me wants to run faster, without injury, and for a long time.  This high aspiration takes awareness of their running technique, strength program, flexibility program, training/running program, recovery, nutrition, mental state, and race strategies. I wish I could say that you can just lace up your shoes and run five times a week for 5 years and not have an injury. People think running is such a “natural” movement, but the more I see people run, the more I think people need help.

 

 

3 Steps To A Faster Mile

1) Build Speed From A Shorter Distance To A Longer Distance

I train a bit differently than most runners who are searching for their race form. For each Annual Event since 2008, I do the customary build up that most runners do in the months of preparation = a strong long distance base, intense tempo runs, and smart recovery within the week’s plan of action. However, when I begin my speed work, I start at 100 yards and then build to 1/8 mile, then 1/4 mile, then 1/2 mile.  Many runners tell me that they dive right into the 1/4 mile repeats, but I do not want to attempt a 1/4 mile unless my form and speed is definitely there. For example, here is my build up this season: 100 repeats (13-15 seconds), 1/8 mile repeats (30-32 seconds), 1/4 mile which I ran (1:05-1:10) today (Thursday) and Tuesday with only one day off in between workouts this week (similar to my race schedule in Greece), then next week begin the 1/2 mile (2:18-2:24). I feel there is no reason to lengthen my distance if I do not feel the proper speed in the shorter distance. I take my form in the 100 yard workout and stretch it out to the 1/2 mile. Speed first, then lengthen the distance.

2) Mentally Approach Your Workouts Like A Race

Over the years, many people have asked how did I do so well in my first race when I have not raced in 6 months. The answer is that I have been mentally racing over the last few months of my training. Especially in my speed workouts, I put my toe on the line as in a race, prepare the same way as a race, and feel the intensity as in a race. Sprint against others or against the clock – feels like I have been racing every week.

3) Do Not Underestimate the Dress Rehearsals

Leave nothing to chance that you can control. Dress rehearsals are important part to prepare your mind for the pain, test drive your equipment, and build real experiences for your confidence. Today in my 1/4 mile repeats I test drove my: New Balance 1400s, Maui Jim sunglasses, Sigvaris graduated compression sock, Faklis made orthotic, 2xU arm sleeves, race day watch, race day clothing, sunscreen, Vega All-In-One pre-race drink, shaved my head and body with my HeadBlade razor, and prepared my muscles with The Stick. Your confidence will not be fragile if built upon a great foundation of meaningful experiences. Repeat, rehearse, repeat, and rehearse. The mile race is an extension of your hours of preparation. Enjoy the process of being an athlete.

How A Runner Should Celebrate A Birthday

How should a runner celebrate a birthday? At top speed, of course…

Every birthday I make it a habit to run 10 x 100 yards at full speed. Not only is this a great way to check my running form, but also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate another year of movement. With my 2015 event soon approaching in July, April is usually the first month that I check my speed in this 100 yard workout.

I usually have runners join me in my sprints. Sometimes I race a high school track runner. Other times I chase a running friend. And other times I just sprint by myself with no technical devices as I listen to my breathing and feel my heart pumping. Sometimes I wonder if we are getting away from the sheer joy of running fast…it is satisfying enough on its own and one of the joys of life. Hope you can sprint on your next birthday. And welcome your next year on the planet with a smile on your face.

Faklis once again constructing O’Meara’s foundation for fast and injury-free racing

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Vasile Faklis of Faklis Orthopedic Services creates the foundation for my racing fast and injury-free. I met Vasile back in 2004 as I came limping up to his booth after a race suffering acute pain from plantar fasciitis. Since that race, I have not run a step without Vasile’s foot orthotics providing the support and comfort that I need to keep me away from injuries all these years. Whether it be Vasile’s artistry in a custom orthotic or his new off-the-shelf customizable foot orthotic, he mixes his years of experience with an exceptional product.
I could not have successfully accomplished all my crazy one-mile events over the years if it was not for Vasile’s assistance. Vasile takes the time with his customers ensuring that they have the proper orthotic, gait, and fit via his measurements and evaluations. I will be racing in the Aris Pro Orthotic in Greece this summer. It is an off-the-shelf orthotic that shapes to my foot as I wear them. The uniqueness of this off-the-shelf orthotic is that it can be modified and customized to your personal needs. So Vasile has taken my off-the-shelf orthotic and has modified it to fit my personal needs (all at a fraction of the cost compared to custom orthotics). Here is a photo of the bottom of my orthotic showing off Vasile’s modifications:
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Now you can get his orthotics, no matter where you are in the world at www.arisfit.com.  If you would rather call to make an order, all Aris orders can be taken by phone at either Faklis Orthopedic Services:  727-938-1525 or Aris: 855-888-2747.  Please feel free to contact Vasile directly by email at: Vasile@faklis.com.  Aris is running a promotion through May. If you purchase one pair of Aris Pro at regular price,  you receive one pair of Aris Elite at 1/2 price (modifications are extra).
Here’s hoping that with the help of Vasile and his new Aris products, you can reach your racing and health aspirations!

3 Ways To Be Explosive and Powerful

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(Photo by Wayne L. Johnson – waynepacer.smugmug.com)

While the northeast was clearing out from the record snow fall, we were finishing up our first week of training with 7 x 1/4 mile on the incline of the Ringling Bridge in 75 degree weather. In speaking to family and friends up north, they were all having fun in the snow. To each their own as I am happy to be running and training in the Sunshine state.

In my last blog post, I spoke about the importance of landing stiffly on your foot pad when sprinting to decrease your time on the ground and thus becoming faster. Many runners have a difficult time with this stiff landing and the explosive push off because they do not yet have the strength in their lower extremities to run like this for very long.

Here are 3 ways to properly develop the muscle structure in your legs to become explosive:

1) Work your way up to the Speed and Explosion segment of Body Protection, at www.BodyProtection.com.
All the explosive movements are done on your foot pad as you can only stay 1/4 of a second on the ground. Very difficult to do, but worthy of trying as you build your legs for speed, stability, and power.

2) Practice your Power Preparation before you run to prepare your legs for the power needed to run faster in your sport at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WxcZtJeYAE&list=UUuZjTDO6NmSeuiWZ7jbgrxw&index=34

3) As you can see in the above photo shot yesterday at the conclusion of our workout, cool down with flexibility exercises that increase your range of motion for sprinting like the walkover/ bounding hurdles. Please note the stiff landing and how my heel does not touch the ground when I am bounding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGEaFslzNf0&list=UUuZjTDO6NmSeuiWZ7jbgrxw&index=73

Remember that I maintain my stiff landing throughout my mile competition. Months of strength, explosion, and speed training needs to be done in order for you to depend on your sprint and power form. I will be announcing my first race in 2013 in my next blog post. All the best with becoming your best!

The Secret To Running Faster

Most people discuss the two most common ways to run faster by increasing stride frequency or increasing stride length. However, I feel the key to running faster is landing stiffly on the pad of your foot. The more time that you spend on the ground, the slower you will go. It is simple – fast running is not done on the ground but in the air. If you have not worked your entire body to incorporate speed and explosion, you will not perform very well or you will get injured.

When I am running faster, my foot lands stiffly on my foot pad (the area between the toes and the arch of your foot). This area is commonly referred to as the “ball of the foot” which has a fatty pad that protects the five metatarsal heads and provides a nice cushion when you land. When you run fast you are putting 100% of your body weight on this specific area. When I say landing “stiffly,” I mean that my heel does not hit the ground. I am trying to reach out in front of my body as far as I can and still land on the foot pad; thus , decreasing my time on the ground. Landing on your heel is like putting on the brakes due to your leg being straight and spending too much time on the ground. A variety of injuries (from your foot to your back) can occur if you continue to land on your heel. Once I land on the pad of my foot, I explode forward and up with almost a bounding feeling.

The best way to find out how you land is to take your shoes off and run. See if you land on the ball of your foot, your heel, or flat. A soft flatter landing (still hits the foot pad first but allows the heel to touch) is good when running slowly and with a shorter stride length as you do not want to run with a stiff landing unless you are elongating your stride length. If you continue to land stiffly with a short stride length, this will create a sheering effect as your femur pushes down in front of the tibia creating knee pain.

Please spend time strengthening all your muscles, ligaments, and tendons (especially in your legs and feet) before trying this stiff foot pad landing. Please visit www.BodyProtection for your copy of the exercises and movements to create the strength you need to become an explosive, fast runner.

How To Achieve Peak Performance

We wanted to share what we learned in this 2012 Isles Mile Challenge experiment  that could help you perform at your peak. Remember this is a “buffet” of ideas, please pick or choose what you want that could help you reach your highest level of performance.

1) TRAINING – Our focus in the spring on running up and down the Ringling Bridge to prepare my body for the up and down conditions of the islands worked out great. My training buddy, Wayne, and I set up sprint work, tempo work, and interval work on uneven terrains. We live in Sarasota and train most of the time on surfaces that are very flat, we call the conditions “Florida Flat” (as I have raced in California on so-called flat courses, but they are very up and down compared to Florida).

2) RECOVERY – After 30,000 miles of travel through various time zones, my body held up surprising well. With races every week, one pulled hamstring and the tour was over. No Advil or ice was used  to recover – just massage therapy and my Body Protection program. During an interview the other day, the reporter did not believe me at first when I said that I used no medicine at all on the trip, but after he heard of my training – he understood. Not only on this tour did I not get injured, but I also did not get sick. My immune system stayed strong throughout the travel. I took my Vega One shake every morning, followed a strict vegan diet, and had no alcohol.

3) RACING – Prayer, visualization, and a present focus mentality prepared me for the various race conditions. Each race was different, but my mind was the same. There were times I spent hours on the road race course going through the turns and 1/4 mile splits over and over. I wanted to feel like I had raced on this new course before. Getting familiar with the conditions really assisted me in my racing confidence. Also,my focus on my racing form and technique really helped me to stay fast and strong. Charlie Olbrias (our official timekeeper) said that I looked as fast as I did 3 years ago when he followed me to 27 races in 2009. My mile race times this year backed up his observations and assertions.

Now that the summer is over, it is time to set up your fall training, recovery, and race schedule. Please feel free to ask me any questions on how to optimize your efforts as you try to peak in the last quarter of 2012.

Orthotics – New and Improved

On Friday, I traveled up to Tarpon Springs where the 2008 tour “20/20/20<5@45” began. The starting line for the first race was just outside the Faklis Department Store and we raced down to the sponge docks. It brought back a lot of fond memories as I had not been there in a while. I was there to meet our www.OneMileRunner.com Biomechanical Consultant, Vasile Faklis. The reason for my visit was to get fitted for my new orthotics. I have come to see the artist, Vasile Faklis, make my orthotics and customize my orthotics to fit me and my activities. I have a racing orthotic that is light and flexible, a training orthotic that is a bit more supportive, and a tennis orthotic that fits my movements for that sport. Indeed, there is a science behind orthotics, but it is also an art. That is why it is important to spend quality time with the orthotist who is actually making the orthotic. Seeing Vasile is always worth the trip.

 

Last year in the 2011 event, “5 Wonders Under 25 Minutes,” I used one of Vasile’s new products, the customizable off-the-shelf orthotic, the Faklis Fit V1. It was my first time using an off-the-shelf product. What makes the V1 unique is that you can customize it to each person’s needs. Thus, Vasile takes the dimensions of my custom orthotics and adds it to the V1. For the upcoming “Isles Mile Challenge” I will be using the V1 and in the fall I will change to the Faklis Fury which will be the elite version that incorporates far infrared ions. The new off-the-shelf orthotic will be launched at the NATA Conference (National Athletic Trainers Association) in St Louis on June 26th. You will be able to order these this summer at one of my new sponsors for 2012 HAPAD, Inc. at www.hapad.com.   Great biomechanics foundationally begin with a sock, an insole, and a shoe. So when I see Vasile for my biomechanical fitting each year, we choose what Feetures sock, what Faklis orthotic, and what New Balance shoe I am going to train and race in. Then I hit the pavement knowing I have a great foundation for high performance and injury prevention.

Speed On A Saturday

It is a little over one month into my training program for our upcoming event, “5 Wonders Under 25 Minutes.” I thought it was time for you to see a portion of our workouts. So last Saturday we shot a short video of our speed workout. I was doing a 100 meters 16 times. This workout was to work on my running form, stride efficiency, and turnover.

Next week I move up to repeating 200 meters a little faster than race pace. After a few weeks of feeling the power muscles being engaged, then it will be 1/4 mile repeats and then 1/2 mile repeats in April. Finally, I will do a 3/4 mile time trial at the beginning of May before I race on May 29th.

I feel it is important that I incorporate fast running twice a week as a mile runner. I will increase the number of my repetitions each week as I build my racing form and my body. I do not want to jump into doing 1/4 mile repeats at the beginning of my training program. I want to establish not only an aerobic base, but also a speed base. That is why I spend time going from 100 meters, then 200, 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4.

The sprints and intervals will prepare me for the speed necessary for the mile. The tempo, long runs, and recovery runs will prepare me for the strength necessary for the mile. This is why I like the mile race so much – you need speed and strength.

Enjoy the video below and most of all, enjoy your speed workouts for your race preparation as well!

Can pills, shots and surgery be the solution for back pain and dysfunction?

By Juan Ruiz-Tagle

Here is the problem…

1. There is an average of 60 % more pressure on the spinal discs when we are sitting than when we are standing.

2. Most people sit between 6 to 8 hours per day (driving, watching TV, using the computer, eating, reading,etc.)

3. Most people sit with poor posture.

4. Most people do not move often enough.

5. Most people lift with their backs and not with their hips and legs.

6. Most people exercise the trunk muscles “core” by doing some type of sit-ups and “supermans”, which puts between 1000 to 1200 pounds of pressure to the spinal discs (Stuart McGill PhD 2006).

7. Most people exercise with machines, isolating muscles and blocking their proprioceptors and most of their stabilizers.

And then, after all this, when people develop spinal problems, such as, bulging disc, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, etc., a common approach is to go from ibuprofen to pain killers and when that doesn’t work, to go from steroids to epidural injection and when that doesn’t work, to go from laminectomy (surgery) to spinal fusion (surgery) and when all that doesn’t work, they are told to get more surgeries and more addictive pills.

Here is a better approach to prevent this from happening:

1. Walk with arm swing at least 20 to 30 minutes everyday (dog walking is OK but it does not count as therapeutic walking).

2. Sit with your spine in neutral (not too slouched nor too arched) and change you posture within a neutral zone every 30 minutes.

3. When lifting, keep your spine in neutral, use your legs (bend your hips, knees and ankles joints) and keep the object close to your center of gravity, in other words your belly button.

4. Floss your sciatic nerves 10 reps 2-4 times per day every day (See post 60).

5. Build neuromuscular endurance by speed walking, opposites (bird dog) exercises, planks (don’ arch your back…keep it in neutral), squats, lunges and balance reach.

6. Avoid exercises that are harmful to the spinal discs such as: sit ups, prone leg raises, superman exercise (lying flat face down and raising both legs and arms up), knee to chest stretches, toe touch stretches and spine twisting stretches and don’t put your self in danger with dumb exercises such as standing on a exercise ball.

7. Eat often and eat a balance diet of protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits and clean water.

8. Rest, restore and recover through good night sleep, active rest and therapeutic massage.

9. Be patient. Although you may progressively feel better, it may take six to twelve months before you see results and get better

Please check out more from www.OneMileRunner.com Consultant, Juan Ruiz-Tagle, on his blog at backtofunction.blogspot.com.