Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Just an Easy Six

I did my usual 6-mile walk this morning. Nothing thrilling, just an easy day. 
Mile 1 - 13:27           (8:21 min/km)
Mile 2 - 12:50 (7:58 min/km)
Mile 3 - 12:41 (7:53 min/km)
Mile 4 - 12:40 (7:52 min/km)
Mile 5 - 12:52 (8:00 min/km)
Mile 6 - 11:44 (7:17 min/km)
Total Workout - 1:16:16
Average Pace - 12:42 (7:53 min/km)

On Saturday I tried to do a lap, 400 meters, with Pedro Santoni but could only hold on for about 300 meters. I don't know what pace he was doing but it was the fastest I've gone, maybe 8 minute/mile or even faster. Every time I push myself that hard I usually injure my knee and this time I felt a slight tightness in my left knee. Nothing to worry about or take anything for pain--in fact it has been a long time since I had to take any pain medication. Still, I took it easy, no running and didn't push myself until the last half-mile of the walk.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hiking Cross Training

I did something a little different today--took a hike.

Sunday is usually my long walk but I haven't done a really good long workout since the L.A. Marathon. Donna Cunningham, one of the Southern Cal Walkers, organized a hike up Mount Wilson Trail and then to see the world's largest flowering vine, an over 100 year old 250 ton Wisteria vine. Rosie and our mini schnauzer, Natty, came along but they only made it 3/4 up the mountain before turning back. Still, they had a good time.

Anyway, the hike up the trail was only 1.5 miles up to "First Water" but it was quite a rugged climb. The total hike was only 3-miles plus maybe another mile walking around Sierra Madre, but it was still a good workout. Doing some hill work should help out my racewalking, especially that climb and long decent on the new L.A. Marathon course.

Speaking of hill work, there is an interesting 5K, half-marathon, marathon coming up May 19 in Palos Verdes--the 41st annual Palos Verdes Marathon hosted by the Kiwanis Club. A bit hilly but there are several distances to choose from if doing a marathon isn't in the cards for that day.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

3 Kilometer Timed Workout

This morning the Southern Cal Racewalkers did a timed 3km workout. (That's 1.86411358 miles.) Here's how I did:
Lap 1   400 meters - 2:30   6:15 min/km      10:03 min/mi
Lap 2 400 meters - 2:30 6:15 min/km 10:03 min/mi
Lap 3 400 meters - 2:32 6:20 min/km 10:11 min/mi
Lap 4 400 meters - 2:33 6:22 min/km 10:15 min/mi
Lap 5 400 meters - 2:34 6:25 min/km 10:19 min/mi
Lap 6 400 meters - 2:34 6:25 min/km 10:19 min/mi
Lap 7 400 meters - 2:24 6:00 min/km 9:39 min/mi
Lap 7.5 200 meters - 1:18 6:30 min/km 10:27 min/mi
Total Workout - 18:58
Average Pace - 6:19 min/km 10:10 min/mi

In case you're wondering why the time doesn't add up, my watch measures hundredths of a second but I dropped that off when writing down the lap times.

I was doing a warm up lap with Rosie when the group started and I crossed the starting line 17 seconds behind, though I was going by my watch so it didn't really matter. By lap three I caught up with Carl Acosta and Ray Billig and I stayed with that group until the last 400 meters when Ray pulled ahead. I put on a burst of speed but it was too much too soon so I faded back and followed Ray for the last 200 meters. This time I wasn't afraid when my heart rate went up to 183 bpm but perhaps I should have tried to even out my pace a little better and save the burst of speed for the last 200 meters instead of 400 meters then pooping out.

Afterwards we had a party at Elaine Ward's apartment to honor Carl Acosta for his coaching and dedication to the club. I've got to give him a big thank you for the coaching he has given me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Run A Little Longer

Yesterday I wasn't able to get to my strength training but I did wake up early enough to do 6-miles this morning. My plan was to do a warm up mile, try to keep an even but easy pace without looking at the time until I got to the mile marker and finally, extend the run from one to two miles. Here's how it went:
Mile 1 - 13:17 warmup            (8:15 min/km)
Mile 2 - 12:33 (7:48 min/km)
Mile 3 - 12:30 (7:46 min/km)
Mile 4 - 12:36 (7:50 min/km)
Mile 5 - 9:53 run (6:08 min/km)
Mile 6 - 9:37 run (5:59 min/km)
Total Workout - 1:10:28
Average Pace - 11:44 min/mi (7:17 min/km)

I kept the running easy, though my heart rate did go up on the run. Too bad my heart rate monitor was acting up and I couldn't get consistently reliable readings. The readings I was able to get showed the racewalking miles were about 145 bpm and the running around 163 bpm.

Now if I could only racewalk as fast as I can do these easy runs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Heart Rate Training Cavets from an Expert

There are some good discussions on the racewalking forums in Yahoogroups. Recently there was a conversation about heart rate training. I made a mistake on last Sunday's 5K race by putting too much emphasis on the heart rate monitor--here's what racewalking legend Curt Clausen has to say about it. By the way, AT is aerobic threshold which is somewhat different from aerobic threshold, AeT.

Here's is how AT is defined by Wikipedia:

The anaerobic threshold (AT) is the exercise intensity at which lactate starts to accumulate in the blood stream. This happens when it is produced faster than it can be removed (metabolized). This point is sometimes referred to as the lactate threshold, or the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA). When exercising below the AT intensity any lactate produced by the muscles is removed by the body without it building up.

And here is Curt's advice: 

I've used heartrate for years in training and racing. The major caveat to
using it in a long distance race (or workout) is that heartrate rises
substantially with dehydration, yet AT pace remains about the same. We've
tested this with blood draws over 4x8k & 4x5k race pace sessions. The
heart-rate can increase dramatically by the last stages in a longer effort
while holding a pace that is under AT. So the correlation between HR and AT
breaks down a bit especially in hot weather. If you don't account for this
in racing you will ultimately be using the HR monitor as an unnecessary
break and not race to your fullest potential. In my better 50k's I raced
with beginning HR at/under 150 and last 10k heartrate high 160's.

Curt Clausen

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

5K Splits and More Results

Easy Striders put up the results of the 20k and 5k race from Sunday. I was able to get my split times and do a little number crunching. The first lap was "about 800 meters" and the rest were 1.05059 kilometers.
Lap #   Time     min/km   min/mile
Lap 1 - 04:42 05:52 09:27
Lap 2 - 11:30 06:28 10:24
Lap 3 - 18:29 06:38 10:41
Lap 4 - 25:39 06:49 10:58
Lap 5 - 32:35 06:35 10:37
Average Pace 06:31 10:29

So it looks like I started out fast and slowed down a little over half-way. That's what I expected, I remember seeing my heart rate monitor showing over 180 bpm and I backed off because I wasn't sure if I could keep up that pace. I probably could have held a slightly faster pace because I was able to squeeze a bit out of the final few hundred meters.

Donna Cunningham, one of the members of Southern Cal Walkers, walked it under 30 minutes and that's what I'd like to do. Here are her splits:
Lap #   Time     min/km   min/mile
Lap 1 - 04:35 05:43 09:13
Lap 2 - 10:51 05:57 09:35
Lap 3 - 17:07 05:57 09:35
Lap 4 - 23:16 05:51 09:25
Lap 5 - 29:31 05:56 09:34
Average Pace 05:54 09:30

That's quite a difference. Although she also started a little faster, her pace is much more consistent than mine. She thought lap 4 was her last lap so she pushed harder on that one but was still able to pull off a decent finish.

One last split to examine, the overall winner--Joe Nieroski:
Lap #   Time     min/km   min/mile
Lap 1 - 03:47 04:43 07:36
Lap 2 - 08:51 04:49 07:45
Lap 3 - 13:59 04:53 07:51
Lap 4 - 19:13 04:58 08:01
Lap 5 - 24:14 04:46 07:41
Average Pace 04:50 07:47

He also started out faster than his average pace and lap 4 was his slowest, just like me. However, his pace stayed within a narrow range, 25 sec/mile or 17 sec/km, while I varied 91 sec/mile, 63 sec/km.

Obviously, I've got to work on maintaining a more even pace.

Here are the split times for everyone who competed in the 5 kilometer racewalk:
Lap*                1       2       3       4       5

M 70-79
Carl Acosta 5.14 12.15 19.15 26.14 33.15
Bill Moreman 5.25 12.39 19.57 27.16 34.26
Leon Glazman --- 13.03 20.41 27.58 35.24
Willis Allen 6.03 14.07 22.15 30.21 38.15
Lloyd McGuire 6.14 14.33 23.24 32.11 40.52
Jim Lamb 7.06 16.59 25.35 34.36 43.31/DQ

M 60-69
Rick Campbell 4.33 10.36 16.48 23.04 28.58
Stuart Ray 5.40 13.04 20.35 28.09 35.45
Gerald Saulvester 6.23 14.41 23.09 31.31 39.57

M 50-59
Alex Kazaryan 4.31 10.46 17.06 23.35 30.06
Ray Billig 5.26 12.05 18.49 25.40 32.16
Daniel Fort 4.42 11.30 18.29 25.39 32.35
John Magnussen 5.47 14.17 23.10 32.16 40.55/DQ

M 40-49
Joe Nieroski 3.47 8.51 13.59 19.13 24.15
Mario Lopez 4.44 11.10 17.38 24.17 30.53
Clifford Veasey 6.57 16.28 26.05 35.25 44.41/DQ

W 80+
Soula Thomas 7.00 16.08 25.18 34.37 43.45

W 70-79
Shirley Capps 5.35 13.08 20.42 28.21 35.58
Joan McIntyre 6.01 13.52 21.52 30.06 37.58
Patty Kennedy 6.34 15.22 23.12 33.15 42.02
Pat Willis 7.01 16.20 26.28 36.48 47.08

W 60-69
Donna Cunningham 4.35 10.51 17.07 23.16 29.31
Janet Robinson 5.06 11.5 18.35 25.24 32.09
Roberta Hatfield 5.57 13.32 21.01 28.32 35.54
Nancy Alexander 5.49 13.31 21.09 28.58 36.42
Joan Allen 6.03 14.07 22.11 30.17 38.15
Anelise Smith 5.59 14.03 22.11 30.34 38.57
Margaret Fields 6.56 16.05 25.04 34.17 43.18

W 50-59
Yoko Eichel 4.27 10.43 17.03 23.27 29.36
Sylvia Ellis 4.38 11.15 18.07 24.59 31.43
Carol Bertino 4.57 11.48 18.35 25.31 32.23
Debbie Raymer 5.24 12.55 20.30 28.00 35.21
Barbara Kowalski 5.27 12.55 20.31 28.11 35.43

* Note: Lap 1 is approximately 800m. All successive laps are 1.05059km.

Recovery Walk and a Run

This morning I did a recovery workout. The goal was to keep my heart rate around the 125-130 bpm range. That's very low for me, about 50% of maximum heart rate according to the tables I calculated a while back. Here is the post.

It took the first two miles just to warm up and by mile four I was feeling good so I did a slow run on mile five bringing the heart rate up to about 165 and finished it off with a cool down mile.
Mile 1 - 13:58                (8:41 min/km)
Mile 2 - 14:07 (8:46 min/km)
Mile 3 - 14:07 (8:46 min/km)
Mile 4 - 14:21 (8:55 min/km)
Mile 5 - 9:23 run (5:50 min/km)
Mile 6 - 14:16 (8:52 min/km)
Total Workout - 1:20:14
Average Pace - 13:22 min/mi (8:18 min/km)

I took the run slower than last week but it was still better than 10 min/mi which was a barrier that couldn't break through when I was running about 9 months ago. I've completly changed my running technique so hopefully I won't have any of the knee problems I used to have.

Yes, racewalking is a very technique centered sport, but so is running if you want to go fast and not get hurt!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

1st 5km Race

Today I entered my first 5 kilometer race, the St. Patrick's Day Racewalks in Huntington Beach sponsored by Easy Striders Walking Club. The weather was cool and overcast--perfect for racing. Although the main event was a 20km racewalk, there were only 6 people entered for that race and about 35 for the 5km event.

I didn't make my under 30 minute 5k goal, but I wasn't expecting to do it this soon anyway. The course was an odd length loop so I couldn't really get splits that would mean anything useful so I relied mostly on the heart rate monitor to check my speed. Once I got up to 175 bpm I tried to settle into that pace. However, heart rate tends to creep up over time and as I hit 180 bpm I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to finish so I slowed down. On the last lap Ray Billig, one of the guys in my age group, passed me and I tried to stay within striking distance but on the last few hundred yards, giving it all I had left, wasn't enough to catch him.

There I go by the lap counters, judges and official time keeper.

Here's how I did:
5 kilometers - 32:35
Pace - 6:31 min/km 10:29 min/mi

That was good enough to get 3rd place in my male, 50-59 age group--glad they didn't include the women in my division, there were some very fast 50 something women!

Here are some more photos, click on the thumbnail to see a larger version. Looks like Rosie was focusing on the geese, but my form looks fair--gee do I cross my arms in front of my chest? I'll have to work on that.

In the group picture are the winners of the men's 50-59 age group, right to left.
Name           Club Age Time
Alex Kazaryan WCLA 53 30:06
Raymond Billig SCW 50 32:16
Daniel Fort SCW 52 32:35

Finally, here's the metal. Green of course.

By the way, the fourth place finisher was disqualified so even if I would have walked really slow and not gotten disqualified, I still would have won third place. Next year I should do the 20 kilometer race.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Walking in L.A.

I got my pictures from MarathonFoto, the official photographers of the L.A. Marathon, and Rosie took some good pictures too. Since I was asked to write an wrap up of the L.A. Marathon for the Southern Cal Walkers newsletter, I thought I'd illustrate it and post it on my blog. Click on the photos to get and even closer up marathon experience.

Who says nobody walks in L.A.? On Sunday March 4th there were thousands of walkers in downtown L.A. though most of them called themselves runners when they started the L.A. Marathon across town at Universal Studios. Out of a field of 26,000 there were just over 50 of us die hard walkers who agreed to walk the whole way and be judged over the new 26.2 mile point-to-point course.

What was advertised as a faster course turned out to be slower--much slower. In fact the overall winner, Fred Mogaka with a 2:17:14, was the slowest winning time in L.A. Marathon history. The walkers I heard from were also off of their anticipated times. The top male was once again Eric Fischer with a time of 4:43:30, though he was aiming for a 4:30 time. Lindsey Goldbloom was the first female walker at 5:30:27. Afterwards she told me, "That was the worst of my 13 marathons. Just be glad you finished that was all I wanted to do."

I had my tactics all planned out but right from the start there was trouble--trying to make it through a port-a-potty line before the starting gun! Once I did get to the starting corrals it was pretty much packed with little room to manuver. The start was a gentle, no make that a rather severe climb for 1.5 miles before a long, knee pounding downhill to Hollywood. The drop leveled out somewhat but the gentle downhill continued through most of the first half of the course. For the first few hours it was a nice and sunny, then it started heating up, and kept getting hotter. Before I reached the half-marathon mark I was slowing way down.

So much for getting a decent time, all I wanted to do was to survive the second half. Then I got a call on the cell phone from my wife, our 15 year old nephew who was running his first marathon was having even more trouble. I caught up with him at mile 18 and encouraged him not to give up and to walk with me. Those last few miles were very slow but we had company, there were plenty of runners all around us, though everyone was walking at that point.

Yeah, I could have finished faster, my nephew could have quit, but we crossed the finish line together, 6 hours 18 minutes (chip time) after that exhilarating, "Whoo hoo! Here we go!" 26.2 miles ago.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sore Calf Muscles, Slow Miles

That mile run I did on Tuesday left my calf muscles sore. Partially it was because running and walking use different muscles but the main problem was most likely that my running technique is way off. I figured that it would be best to start slow and speed up gradually this morning.
Mile 1 - 15:30               (9:38 min/km)
Mile 2 - 12:41 (7:53 min/km)
Mile 3 - 11:23 (7:04 min/km)
Total Workout - 39:36
Average Pace - 13:12 min/mi (8:12 min/km)

I was hoping that each mile was a minute faster. The first mile was just an ordinary walk followed by an easy racewalk and finally a good effort. It seems pointless to list the average pace because it includes the warm up lap. I only did 3 miles as part of a mini-taper for a 5k race that I might do on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Crosstrain Run

I got into racewalking because of a running injury, so am I crazy to run as a crosstraining activity? Not really, I also injured myself walking but with some strength training and slight adjustments in technique I was able to work it out. Some adjustment with my running technique, switching out those "motion control" running shoes with the racing flats I use for racewalking, and I'll be able to mix in some running with my training. Today was the first time I tried it so I ran for just one mile out the six mile workout.
Mile 1 - 12:44               (7:55 min/km)
Mile 2 - 12:12 (7:35 min/km)
Mile 3 - 9:10 - run (5:42 min/km)
Mile 4 - 13:47 (8:34 min/km)
Mile 5 - 12:21 (7:40 min/km)
Mile 6 - 11:23 (7:04 min/km)
Total Workout - 1:11:40
Average Pace - 11:56 min/mi (7:25 min/km)

Whoo hoo! I wasn't able to break 10 minutes per mile when I was running about a year ago and although I haven't been running for months, I was a full minute faster today. I put in an effort that felt like about an 11:30 min/mi racewalk, my heart rate topped out at about 170 bpm. Running used some muscles that I haven't exercised in quite a while so I did a very slow recovery walk after the run. It was a good workout and I was able to finish strong and keep the average under 12 minutes per mile. I like it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

L.A. Marathon - It Could Have Been Worse!

So many people have been asking me how my nephew did on the marathon that I thought I'd post it here:
Bib  Name        Age/Sex  Time    Overall   SexPl DivPl Age Grade  Pace     10km     1/2      30km
315 Daniel Fort 52 M 06:18:30 24 13 8 37.5% 14:26.4 1:13:44 2:52:59 4:07:15
6915 Joshua Chan 15 M 06:18:31 13720 9365 926 36.1% 14:26.5 1:04:14 2:32:21 4:07:17

It looks like he was doing better than his uncle at the 10k mark and pulled further ahead by the halfway point. In any case, we ran out of gas and finished it off together. As bad as it was, almost half of the people who finished the marathon were BEHIND us. I ended up 24th out of 54 walkers who finished, 9 were DQ's and their results listed with the runners. About 26,000 started and 24,598 (runners) finished.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Short Long Walk

Sunday should be my long walk but what to do the week after a marathon? Since I'm in a "reverse taper" mode right now and the next race that I'll likely get myself into is a 5k next week in Huntington Beach, I decided that 6 miles would be long enough. However, I've been doing the 3 mile course so much that I took a wrong turn at the end and only did about 5.5 miles. So let's call this a short 5 mile long walk.
Mile 1 - 12:01               (07:28 min/km)
Mile 2 - 12:12 (07:34 min/km)
Mile 3 - 12:20 (07:39 min/km)
Mile 4 - 12:12 (07:34 min/km)
Mile 5 - 12:03 (07:29 min/km)
Total Workout - 01:00:48
Average Pace - 12:09 min/mi (07:33 min/km)

It was a very warm morning and I got up a bit late, blame it on daylight savings time. I tried to keep my heart rate under 160, though it did creep up a little towards the end as the day warmed up.

I also tried a new sports drink--a homemade concoction of 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 teaspoon lite salt with one quart of warm water, refrigerated overnight. It tasted great, though I might squeeze some fresh lemon or lime in it next time.

By the way yesterday I did do some speed work with the Southern Cal Walkers, but Elaine Ward videotaped us so it wasn't really much of a workout. After the taping I did try matching the speed of a couple of our fastest walkers, Donna Cunningham and Pedro Santoni. I could reach their speed but don't have the endurance to keep it up for very long.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Athletic Footware And Running Injuries

I was doing some surfing on the Internet about running, shoes, Chi Running and the Pose Method. I turned to racewalking because of running injuries and although I really enjoy walking fast and the small, somewhat quirky racewalking community, I sometimes wonder what went wrong. Here is an amazing article that should be required reading for all runners--and racewalkers too.

Quickswood: Athletic Footware and Running Injuries -- Blogged by an orthopedic surgeon who has treated lots of running injuries, Joseph Froncioni.

Just in case the link disappears I copied and pasted it here, but please go to Dr. Froncioni's site to leave comments.


Essay on the harmful effects of modern running shoes.

(This is definitely a Joe rant! Written a number of years ago, this piece was published in part in the German ultra magazine Spiridon.)
PART 1 - INTRODUCTION AND HISTORYLook, if anyone displayed brand-loyalty, it was me. I LOVED my NIKE AIR MAX Triax™ runners. I wouldn’t buy anything else. Why? Because they felt good. I liked the cushioning. I liked the ride. I also felt they protected me from the hard road by interposing a layer of air between the sole of my foot and the pavement. So why was I sidelined with a heel injury for over two months? I listened to the manufacturer and changed my runners every 400 miles. Come to think of it, why do I see so many runners with lower extremity injuries in my office? The traditional answer to these questions has always been overuse often compounded by an underlying mechanical abnormality such as over-pronation or flat-feet.

The treatment, along with modification of training, physiotherapy, stretching etc. has always included a close look at the runner's footwear, often with recommendations about motion control, stability, cushioning, orthotics or custom molded insoles. A growing body of literature in the field of sports medicine, however, is causing a bit of a stir...no, call it PANIC in the running world. Everything you and I always believed about running shoes and running injuries may be wrong! Here's the scoop: The modern running shoe itself may be the major cause of running injuries! Stated another way, the modern running shoe, presently thought of a protective device, should be reclassified as a "health hazard". (NIKE, please tell me it ain't so!!!)
Now relax, get back on your chair and take a deep breath. We'll take this one step at a time and since we're going to be talking about shoes and feet, I may as well start at the beginning...the very beginning. Until quite recently in our history, most humans lived out their lives unshod. S.F.Stewart in his "Footgear - It's History, Uses and Abuses" states that “…all writers who have reported their observations of barefoot peoples agree that the untrammeled feet of natural men are free from the disabilities commonly noted among shod people - hallux valgus, bunions, hammer toe and painful feet.” So why was footgear developed? One of the earliest examples of footgear known to us takes the form of sagebrush bark sandals found in caves and rock shelters near Fort Rock, Oregon under a layer of volcanic ash dating back 10,000 years. The foot surface is smooth and they were held on by bast straps over the instep. Similar sandals were used throughout the volcanic cordilleras of Meso and South America and the volcanic islands of the South Pacific. The early Polynesians used sandals to cross old lava flows and when fishing on the razor-sharp coral. It seems, therefore, that the prime function of the earliest sandals was protection of the sole.

Although the early Pharaohs are all represented as barefoot, by the first millennium BC sandals in Egypt were common in court and were worn by soldiers. In Mesopotamian kingdoms sandals were evidently a status symbol with the king known to have worn a wedged sandal in contrast to his flat-soled courtiers. Very thick-soled low boots are known to have been worn by Greek tragedians to increase their height. Comedians wore socks or soccus - hence the expression "high tragedy and low comedy". Thus, the secondary function of footgear appears to have been symbolic.

From the time of the Greeks, footgear gradually evolved to meet both symbolic and functional needs. For example, tradition tells us that about the beginning of the present millennium Count Fulk of Anjou introduced long pointed toes to cover up some deformity of his feet, and courtiers quickly adopted the fashion. The Mongols, who on horseback ravaged the Middle East between Damascus and Moscow from the 12th-14th centuries, are credited for the introduction of the block heel presumably developed to better grip the stirrup plate. But in the French court of Louis XIV, the rugged Mongolian heel underwent a radical cosmetic transformation eventually leading to the ultimate idiotic expression of modern fashion - the stiletto heel.

European peasants wore clogs carved from a block of wood. Mass production seems to have begun prior to the 14th century, for Edward II in 1342 decreed that shoes should be sized. Their length was measured in barleycorns, 3 to an inch. This is still the basis of shoe measurements, 1/3 inch to a size in length. We start sizing from a baseline of 3" in children and 7" in adults. Widths vary with length; in a given size the widths vary by 1 1/2 inch. Unpaired shoes were introduced in England in the 15th century when gout became common and these shoes had broad square toes to relieve pressure. The most recent innovation seems to have been the hard box toe to preserve the appearance of the shoe.

Now, let's focus-in on the running shoe. It seems that the earliest sports shoes were developed in the 1830's by the Liverpool rubber company owned by John Boyd Dunlop. Although they were first called sand shoes because they were worn on the beach by the Victorian middle classes, they eventually became known as plimsolls because the lines formed by the rubber and canvas bond looked similar to the Plimsoll line on a ship's hull. In 1933, Dunlop launched its Green Flash range of trainers. Adi Dassler (and his brother Rudolf) started making sports shoes in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1920 and in 1936 Jesse Owens wore a pair of them when he won four Olympic gold medals in Berlin. ADIDAS (Adi Dassler) was formed in 1948 with the now famous three stripes logo developing from three support leather bands used to bolster the sides. By the 1956 Olympics, dozens of competitors were wearing ADIDAS shoes. Rudolf Dassler broke away to form PUMA. Amidst the first rumblings of the jogging-boom, NIKE (after the Greek goddess of victory) was launched by American Phil Knight, a former track star at the University of Oregon, and his waffle-making coach Bill Bowerman in 1971(Surely you remember the NIKE Waffle Trainer!). The NIKE ‘Swoosh’ is arguably the most successful logo in the world and was conceived for Phil Knight by a local Oregon graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson, for a total fee of $35. (But don't worry about the graphic designer. In September 1983, NIKE presented Carolyn Davidson with a rather substantial share package as a way of saying "Thank-you.") ASICS (acronym for Animus Sanus In Corpore Sano, Latin for A Sound Mind In A Sound Body) first introduced its shoes in North America in 1977 while REEBOCK (named after a species of an African gazelle) entered the US Market in 1979 as the running shoe was slowly transforming into a fashion item. 1987 was declared the Year of the Running Shoe by the clothing industry, the same year NIKE launched the 'cross-trainer' and it's flagship running-shoe, the Air Max. After 16 years of research, NIKE introduced its SHOX line of runners in 2000, arguably the first athletic shoe on springs (foam)!


For the last fifteen years or so, buying a pair of runners has always been accompanied by a warm fuzzy feeling inside, a feeling that comes from the certain knowledge that you're investing in a high-tech device purpose-designed to protect you from injury and improve your performance. You can just see all those smart dedicated NIKE mechanical engineers hard at work developing and testing newer and better space-age materials to shield you from the terrible pounding you submit yourself to in order to "Just do it!’ Gel, air, channels, honeycomb, microspheres, super-light materials, foam springs and soon...yes, you guessed it, micro-chips in the soles of your shoes (better than diamonds, I suppose). New round laces and ribbon eyelets result in that custom-fitted feel supplemented by molded sorbothane insoles or special orthotics from your local prosthetist and you're ready to tackle any distance.

Now here's the catch. If all this high-tech stuff is supposed to be preventing running injuries by shielding us from impact, why is it that two out of every three runners are sidelined every year because of a running injury? Why is it that since the great jogging boom of the mid-seventies, there has been no decrease in the incidence (some authors say there has been an increase) of running injures in spite of yearly 'improvements' in running-shoe technology? Why is my office filled with runners who have injured knees (26% of running injuries), tibias (13%), Achilles tendons (6%) and plantar fascias (5%)? The cause of all these injuries is quite evident: cumulative micro-trauma caused by repetitive impact experienced during running. The heel of a runner upon striking the ground generates a force that can equal 2.5 times body weight at the foot and as much as 7 times body weight at the hip. Repeat this 1000 times per mile and it's easy to appreciate the stress the old bones are under. Add to this the hardness of urban roadways compared to naturally deposited surfaces and eventually, something gives, inflammation sets in and pain results...and you end up working at the finish-line pulling bar-codes off finishers. Now, where's our high-tech shoe in all this? With all the improvements in recent years, you'd think we'd be seeing a marked decrease in running injuries. Just keep reading.

It wasn't till the mid-eighties that some researchers smelled something rotten in the athletic footwear world and it wasn't just dirty socks. Footwear manufacturers were well aware that impact was the cause of running injuries and reasoned that the way to attenuate impact was to interpose a soft impact-absorbing midsole between the foot and the ground. The first major problem was the method used by essentially all the footwear development labs to test the impact absorption of footwear mid-soles. Dr. Benno Nigg from the University of Calgary showed that machine testing of these materials by dropping a 5-kg object onto the shoe-sole and measuring the impact on a pressure-plate did not accurately predict human impact with the same materials. In fact the correlation turned out to be inverse, that is when you drop a 5-kg ball on materials of increasing softness, you measure decreasing impact. However, when the impact from a running human is measured, the result is the reverse, and the impact increases with softer materials! WHOOPS! (You'll find out why later.)

Next problem. In 1989, Dr. B. Marti published a paper which still makes the throats of footwear executives go dry. He studied 5,038 runners who participated in a 16km race and had them fill out an extensive questionnaire about their running in the year preceding the race. Here's what he found: The incidence of injuries in runners using shoes costing more than $95 was more that twice as great as in runners using shoes costing less than $40. (Note that this result includes correction for other influencing factors such as training mileage and history of previous injury.) In other words, the fancier (high-tech, advanced) the shoe, the more dangerous it is! Now a study of over 5,000 runners is not something to thumb your nose at and you would think the shoe manufacturers would have taken some notice. Not on your life. Yearly athletic shoe sales were in the billions of dollars and this was no time to fiddle with a successful product. In any case, it is felt by many observers that by the mid-eighties researchers, in-house or independent, had effectively been forced out of the loop of new product development and that research and development was now exclusively in the hands of the marketing people. Athletic shoes had become a fashion item and were designed as such, as they are to this day.

The big question: Why are super shock-absorbing athletic shoes causing more running injuries? Dr. Steven Robbins from the Centre for Studies in Aging at McGill University in Montreal is the man who came up with the answer. Dr. Robbins pointed out that the human lower extremity is not a delicate, rigid, passive structure requiring 'packaging' to protect it from impact. This becomes blatantly obvious when one observes the nearly complete absence of foot disorders in unshod populations. People who go around barefoot just don't get plantar fasciitis or any of the other lower extremity injuries so common in shod populations. The lower extremity, he points out, is a rugged, flexible, active, well designed (teleologically) structure. Wire this structure to a spinal cord and a brain and what you've got is a system fully capable of handling the impacts of running. So, how does this system work exactly and why do modern running shoes screw it up?

Allow me for a moment to compare the human locomotor apparatus to a modern luxury car. The bones of the foot, leg, thigh and pelvis act as the frame, linked by joints and all held together by fairly inelastic ligaments and fascia. The bones and joints are surrounded by contracting muscles which act as the suspension system. This is especially evident in the arch of the foot which is formed by both the passive, rigid plantar fascia as well as the active, flexible intrinsic muscles. The bones and muscles are covered by fat and skin within which reside receptors or sensors that send information to both the peripheral computer (the spinal cord) and the central computer (the brain). The skin on the sole of the foot (glabrous skin) is very well suited to its function possessing about 600% of the toughness of hairy skin (the skin everywhere else on our bodies except our palms). The receptors in the foot are specially designed to sense both impact (vertical force) and shear (horizontal force). Add to this information streaming in from pain receptors as well as joint position receptors throughout the lower extremity and you've got a Hummer! (Got carried away a little...sorry.)

During barefoot running, the ball of the foot strikes the ground first and immediately starts sending signals to the spinal cord and brain about the magnitude of impact and shear, getting most of its clues about this from the skin contact with the surface irregularities of the ground. Take away this contact by adding a cushioned substance and you immediately fool the system into underestimating the impact. Add a raised heel and the shod runner is forced to land on it. Strap the cushioning on tightly with the aid of a sophisticated lacing system and you block out shear as well, throwing the shock-absorption system even further into the dark. The system responds by landing harder in an attempt to compress the cushion and 'feel' the ground. The weight is then transferred to the outside edge of the foot, completely by-passing the skin of the arch. The heel then touches down and the weight is transferred to the ball again with final push-off through the toes. While the weight is being transferred, the arch carries out its function as the suspension system of the foot and flattens under the active control of the intrinsic muscles. The ankle, knee and hip joints flex to absorb impact in response to information flowing in from the foot. The cushioned midsole of the modern running shoe robs the system of important sensory information necessary for ankle, knee and hip response to impact. The arch support (or orthotic) in modern running shoes not only prevents the arch suspension system from absorbing energy by preventing flattening but eventually leads to intrinsic muscle atrophy and complete loss of active muscular control of the arch leaving only the inelastic plantar fascia as a checkrein to flattening. The barefoot runner's 'foot position awareness sense' which relies heavily on sensory input from the sole of the foot minimizes his risk of sustaining an ankle sprain on uneven ground. The shod runner is at marked increased risk of ankle sprains because his 'foot position awareness sense’ is handicapped by the paucity of sensations coming from his soles. The barefoot runner is constantly alert scanning the ground before him for irregularities and dangers that might cause him injury. The barefoot runner is a cautious runner and actively changes his landing strategy to prevent injury. He treads lightly. The shod runner is bombarded by convincing advertising stating or implying that the shoe he is wearing will protect him well over any terrain and he becomes a careless runner. He is heavy footed. Finally, certain diseases in humans can cause a gradual destruction of the sensory nerve endings in the foot (and elsewhere) resulting in a significant increase in lower extremity injuries. Diabetes and tertiary syphilis are two. Extremities so affected are termed 'neuropathic'. The shod runner, because of his sensory deprivation and high risk of injury may be termed as having 'pseudo-neuropathic' feet, a term coined by Robbins.

The conclusion that shoes are the primary cause of running injuries is strongly supported by the scientific literature. I've already mentioned Marti's work showing more than twice the incidence of running injuries with expensive shoes compared with cheap ones. Rao and Joseph (1992) examined 2300 Indian children between the ages of 4 and 13 and found that the incidence of flat feet was more than three times greater in those children who used footwear than in those who did not leading them to conclude that shoe-wearing in early childhood is detrimental to the development of a normal arch. In 1988, Hamill and Bates showed that as running shoes lose their cushioning through wear and tear, subjects improve foot control on testing and presumably decrease their risk of injury, i.e. shoes get better with age. Robbins and Gouw showed in 1991 that modern athletic footwear creates a perceptual illusion in subjects whereby they consistently underestimate impact. Simply adding surface irregularities on the insoles (to simulate barefoot like conditions) markedly improves subjects’ estimates of impact. Robbins and others (1994) studied the balance ability of men walking along a beam wearing shoes with soles of varying thickness and hardness. Results confirmed that the thinner and harder the soles, the better the balance. In one of their most elegant and widely publicized studies, Robbins and Waked (1997) examined the effect of advertising on landing impact. They asked subjects to step down barefoot ten times onto four pressure measuring platforms, the first one being bare and the other three covered by identical shoe sole material made to look different by different colored cloth. The subjects were given different messages for each of the covered plates: the message for the first covered plate suggested superior impact absorption and protection (deceptive message), the second suggested poor impact absorption and high injury risk (warning message) and the third suggested unknown impact absorption and safety (neutral message). Results showed that subjects landed with the highest impact when given the deceptive and neutral messages and with the lowest impact when given the warning message or with the bare plate. The authors conclude that running injury rates are greatest in users of the most expensive shoes because advertising has deceived these users into believing that the shoes provide a superior level of safety thereby inducing an attenuation of impact moderating behavior, increasing impact and injury. The authors add that deceptive advertising of protective devices is a public health hazard and should be addressed. Humans are less cautious even when they use truthfully advertised products because of excessively positive attitudes toward new products and wrong impressions of the standards of truth in advertising.

"So," you think, "is this guy telling me that NIKE, REEBOCK and all those big corporations just put this new stuff out on the market without any proof that its safe? Can't be!" Well, that's exactly what I'm telling you. I can be a real pain in the ass when I try, and some years back, I was in the mood. I got on the phone and tried to talk to the directors of research at all the big athletic footwear companies. I tell you, getting to talk to one of these guys is harder than talking to the Pope. I finally got to speak with Mr. Gordon Valiant, then director of research at the NIKE Sports Research Lab in Beaverton, Oregon. JF:" Mr. Valiant. My name is Dr. Froncioni and I'm an orthopedic surgeon. I treat a lot of runners and I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the whole issue of running injuries possibly being caused by your running shoes." ...long pause...GV:"Umm...well...I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to discuss that matter." SAY WHAT!!!?? JF:"Mr. Valiant, in case you missed it, I'm NOT a reporter. I'm just an orthopedic surgeon who's looking for some answers for his patients. Let me rephrase. Surely you have data to support the injury protection claims you make about your running shoes....surely sir.." GV: "Well...I could refer you to our marketing people and I'm sure they could send you something." Nope. We're not on the same wavelength at all. I'm sure the lawyers have given these guys a gag order. JF: "Mr.Valiant, your marketing people send me stuff all the time; it's all over the Runner's World I get every month. Anyway, nice talking to you."

I've also had a few chats with Dr. Steven Robbins. He feels very strongly that the athletic footwear manufacturers are painting themselves into a very tight corner by not acting on the available information. After all, it is within their power to effect changes in their shoe design based on the available data and in doing so decreasing the running injury rate by up to 55%. By not acting now, Dr. Robbins predicts the footwear manufacturers may end up in the same situation as the tobacco companies with massive class-action lawsuits brought against them.


So, what do we do now? For starters, NO, I do not recommend that you run your next half-marathon barefoot. But certainly, I predict that sooner or later, changes will come about in both shoe design and training. From the medical establishment's point of view, the prevention and treatment of running injuries must change to incorporate the concepts outlined above. In fact I view the ideas I've presented here as a major paradigm shift in sports medicine, the likes of which I have not seen in the last fifteen years. Of course, the major shoe companies have to own up and start introducing better shoes into their lines. Why not do this gradually and introduce just one shoe that incorporates some of the recommended changes. Dr. Robbins is already testing shoes that use a thinner, less resilient midsole material that provides the comfort but not the impact absorption and of course has no arch support. I'm sure the marketing boys at NIKE could handle it.

Without being too radical, there are some changes that are worth introducing without further delay and they are as follows:

1-Young children should be encouraged to spend as much time as possible barefoot. We know that this is especially important for the proper formation of the foot arch in the first six years of life. So, moms, trash the WEEBOCKS and let your kids develop strong healthy feet just as they were meant to.

2-Runners should consider incorporating sessions of barefoot running into their training. In an article in the October 1997 Runner's World, Adam Bean gives the following advice: "Running barefoot a couple of times per week can decrease your risk of injury and boost your 'push-off' power." You can run on any surface you like as long as you're careful of sharp objects and pebbles. Soft sand is probably the least desirable surface because it is unstable and after your heel has dug-in, you will weight bear on your arch. Paved roads are fine and dangerous objects are easy to spot. But remember, your feet will need to toughen-up so start with small doses. Kick your shoes off as soon as you get home and spend your evenings and weekends barefoot.

Is it possible to rehabilitate the weakened muscles of a normally shod runner? It certainly is according to another excellent study by Dr. Robbins (1987). He asked 17 normally shod recreational runners to gradually increase barefoot activity both at home and outdoors over a period of several weeks and to maintain barefoot activity for about four months. The runners' feet were examined, measured and x-rayed at regular intervals to detect changes. Results showed marked improvement in the anatomy and function of the arch. The authors concluded that the normally shod foot is capable of rehabilitation of foot musculature. Very good news indeed for all of us.

3-Runners may want to consider switching to a lightweight shoe that provides less cushioning and no arch support. The only shoes on the market that come close to these characteristics are racing flats. I use the 6.5 oz. ASICS Gel-Magic Racer. For you diehard NIKE fans, consider the Air Streak II, Air Streak Spectrum Plus or the Air Streak Vapor IV but most shoe manufactures make a flat. A shoe that Nike has just introduced this year, the NIKE FREE also looks like a step in the right direction (I have not actually seen this shoe myself yet). Moreover, a look at the NIKE FREE web page give me a bit of hope that this company may finally have seen the light. If you do change to flats, I recommend you wean into them slowly. Remember that you live in a developed country and that your feet have been shielded from natural stresses your entire life, i.e. you’ve got wimpy feet, buddy. The intrinsic muscles of your feet are asleep and need to wake up slowly. The first thing that will strike you in a racing flat is the lightness of the shoe (Most runners today run in shoes that weigh as much as 14 oz.) Then, you will quickly realize that for the first time, you start to feel the ground you are walking on. Oh…and one more thing: don’t listen to the guy at the running store. He’s there to sell shoes and is under the spell of the powerful shoe industry advertising machine. He has become well and truly brainwashed with the traditional concepts that we all need cushioning and arch support. He will try to dissuade you from buying a racing flat and he may even go as far as telling you that they are for elite runners and are meant to be used for one marathon only. Don’t believe him. I keep my flats for at least 400 – 500 miles with no problem.

Finally, some radicals among you may wish to become full-time barefoot runners. Barefoot running clubs are springing-up all over America and Europe. Point your search engine to 'barefoot running' or go to www.runningbarefoot.org to get more information. I also welcome anyone who wishes more information on any of the quoted materials to contact me and it would be my pleasure to provide you with copies (froncion@ibl.bm).

Joseph Froncioni


1. BEAN, A. “Expert Advice”. Runner’s World, Oct 1997; 100-101.

2. BENSON, R. “Trainerspotting”. Electronic Telegraph, 6th December 1997.

3. BRUNET, M.E., COOK, S.D., BRINKER, M.R., DICKINSON, J.A. “A survey of running injuries in 1505 competitive and recreational runners”. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Sept.1990; Vol 30, No 3, 307-315.

4. CLEMENT, D.B., TAUNTON, J.E., SMART, G.W., McNICOL, K.L. ”A Survey of Overuse Running Injuries”. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, May 81; Vol 9, No 5, 47-58.

5. CUDICIO, R., “L’étude Qui Fait Peur Aux Géants”. Sport et Vie, Jan Feb 1998, No 46.

6. D’ASSCHE, G. “History of the trainer”. Electronic Telegraph, 6th December, 1997.

7. GREGORIADIS, X. “Will this one run and run?” The Independent on Sunday 1st February 1998.

8. GWYTHER, M. ”Smelly old trainers, £300”. Electronic Telegraph, 15th February, 1997.

9. HAMILL, J., BATES, B.T. “A Kinetic Evaluation of the Effects of In Vivo Loading on Running Shoes”. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 1988, Vol 10, No 2, 47-53.

10. LEBOW, F., AVERBUEN, G., AND FRIENDS. “The New York Road Runners Club Complete Book of Running (Updated Edition)”. New York Road Runners Club, 1994.

11. MARTI, B. “Relationships Between Running Injuries and Running Shoes – Results of a Study of 5,000 Participants of a 16-km Run – The May 1984 Berne ‘Grand Prix’”. In: Segesser B., Pforringer W., eds. The shoe in sport. Chicago: Year Book Medical Publishers, 1989: 256-265.

12. McNITT-GRAY, J.L., TAKASHI, Y., MILLWARD, C. “Landing Strategy Adjustments Made by Female Gymnasts in Response to Drop Height and Mat Composition”. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 1993, 9, 173-190 by Human Kinetics Publishers.

13. RAO, U.B., JOSEPH, B. “The Influence of Footwear on the Prevalence of Flat Foot, a Survey of 2300 Children”. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, July 1992, Vol 74-B; No. 4, 525-527.

14. ROBBINS, S.E., GOUW, G.J. “Athletic Footwear and Chronic Overloading A Brief Review”. Sports Medicine 1990, 9 (2): 76-85.

15. ROBBINS, S.E., GOUW, G.J. “Athletic footwear: unsafe due to perceptual illusions”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1991, Vol 23, No2, 217-224.

16. ROBBINS, S.E., GOUW, G.J., HANNA, A.M. “Running-related injury prevention through innate impact-moderating behaviour”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1989, Vol 21, No2, 130-139.

17. ROBBINS, S., GOUW, G.J., McCLARAN, J., WAKED, E. “Protective Sensation of the Plantar Aspect of the Foot”. Foot & Ankle, July/August 1993, Vol 14, No 6, 347-352.

18. ROBBINS, S., HANNA, A.M. “Running- related injury prevention through barefoot adaptations”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1987, Vol 19, No 2, 148-156. American College of Sports Medicine©.

19. ROBBINS, S.E., HANNA, A.M., GOUW, G.J. “Overload protection: avoidance response to heavy plantar surface loading”. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1988, Vol 20, No 1, 85-92. American College of Sports Medicine©.

20. ROBBINS, HANNA, A., JONES, L.A. “Sensory Attenuation Induced by Modern Athletic Footwear”. Journal of Testing and Evaluation. 1988, Vol 16, 412-416. American Society for Test and Materials©.

21. ROBBINS, S., WAKED, E. “Balance and Vertical Impact in Sports: Role of Shoe Sole Materials”. Arch Phys Med Rehabil May 1997, Vol 78, 463-467.

22. ROBBINS, S., WAKED, E. “Factors Associated with Ankle Injuries Preventative Measures” Sports Med. 1998 Jan: 25 (1): 63-72.

23. ROBBINS, S., WAKED, E. “Foot Position Awareness: The Effect of Footwear on Instability, Excessive Impact, and Ankle Spraining”. Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 1997, 9 (1):53-74.

24. ROBBINS, S., WAKED, E. ”Hazard of deceptive advertising of athletic footwear”. Br. J. Sports Med 1997; 31:299-303.

25. ROBBINS, S., WAKED, E., GOUW, G.J. McCLARAN, J. “Athletic footwear affects balance in men”. British Journal of Sports Medicine 1994; 28(2) 117-123.

26. STEWART, S.F. “Footgear – Its History, Uses and Abuses”. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Oct 1972, No 88, 119-130.

27. WARBURTON, M. “Barefoot Running”, Sportscience 5(3), sportsci.org/jour/0103/mw.htm, 2002

Friday, March 9, 2007

Small Socks + Large Shoes = No Blisters?

How did I get through the marathon without blisters?

I've had my battles with blisters during training and it seemed that what worked best for me was to use somewhat larger shoes than I was used to wearing, or that a sales person at a shoe store would recommend, and socks that fit nice and tight.

When I started training for the maraton nearly a year ago I would almost always buy size 9.5 shoes. When I got a pair of New Balance 111 size 9.5's I had to loosen up the laces and I blistered my heels. Same thing with the size 10 Loco Banditos, though it wasn't a blister but a jammed toe nail that did me in. Once I got a larger size shoe, these problems went away. When I say a larger size, I mean a much larger size--11's. I wanted to get another pair of Loco Banditos they didn't have the size I ordered so I settled on size 11's with the stipulation that I could get them swapped out with size 10.5's once they were in stock. I wore out those big shoes and when I my next shoes, Asics DS Racers, there weren't any 10.5's either so I bought the 11's. Never a blister or problem with those large shoes.

As far as the socks, I experimented with thick and thin and ended up preferring the Thorlo protection level 1 running socks. One day I got my socks mixed up with my nephew's. They were one size smaller than what I was used to but they were comfortable enough. It seemed that these tighter fitting socks worked better than any of other blister prevention measures I took like Body Glide on the heels and toes or slapping petroleum jelly all over my feet. In fact all I use now is a sprinkling of foot powder. It keeps the feet dry and slippery at the same time.
So there you are, small socks and large shoes seemed to solve the blister problems for me.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sports Drink Recipes and Homemade Gels

I read an article from the online version of TIME Magazine about how to prevent dehydration from various diseases. The article was called "A Simple Solution" and the recipe was: "a large pinch of salt and a fistful of sugar dissolved in a jug of clean water, the simplest recipe for oral rehydration solution." This is what most "sports drinks" are based on.

Further research on the Internet brought up a few modifications to make the drink more palatable.


  • 2 cups prepared caffeine-free lemon tea
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup orange juice


  1. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot tea. Cool.
  2. Blend the tea and orange juice in a blender or shaker. Drink cold for best taste.
Here is an interesting article from: Cycling Performance Tips


For many years it was believed that a 2.5% concentration (glucose or glucose polymer molecules) was the maximum that could be tolerated without delaying gastric emptying and producing nausea. However a recent study of cyclists demonstrated normal gastric emptying with 6 to 8% solutions, and nausea occurred only when concentrations were pushed above 11%. The old standbys - fruit juices and cola drinks - have a sugar concentration of around 10% (a typical carbonated drink will contain 38 grams of sugar per 12 ounces with 140 Calories). Although sports drinks supplemented with glucose polymers can provide more Calories per quart at the target 10 - 11% concentration, studies have failed to demonstrate a performance advantage of complex carbohydrate drinks over those compoced of simple sugars if the same total Calories were ingested. The advantage of the polymers is the absence of a sweet taste and nauseating properties of high concentration glucose drinks, which can be a barrier to maintaining an adequate fluid intake.

Many people enjoy their own homemade versions of commercial sports drinks. The basic recipe is not complicated and homemade sports drinks can provide all of the same benefits when mixed properly. Gatorade (tm) is formulated to give the following per 8oz serving:
  • 14grams Carbohydrate (5.9%)
  • 110 mg Sodium
  • 30mg Potassium
  • 52 Calories
Alternatives to this commercial product can be made using one of the following recipes:

Recipe #1

  • 10 tbs. sugar (5/8 cups or 120 grams)
  • .75 tsp Morton Lite salt (4.2 grams)
  • 1 package of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix for flavor
  • Water to make 2 liters
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces). The recipe will give a total of 124 grams of solute which in 2 liters water gives a total of 6.2% concentration.
  • 14.2 grams carbohydrate (6%)
  • 53 calories
  • 103 mg Sodium
  • 121 mg Potassium
You'll notice that the amount of potassium is quite a bit higher than Gatorade, but the rest is pretty close. As excess potassium is eliminated from the body by the kidneys, and some experts feel a high potassium helps to minimize muscle cramps - and hypertension if taken long term - this is not necessarily bad. However, if you wanted to reduce the potassium to the level of a Gatorade product, another option would be to use 1/2 tsp. each of regular salt and the Morton Lite Salt. This would change the composition to:
  • 104mg sodium
  • 40mg potassium

Recipe #2 (if you wanted to reduce the amount of potassium, or simply didn't want to buy some Morton Lite Salt)

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 9 tbs. Sugar
  • 3/8 tsp Salt
  • Water to 2 liters
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • 14.4 grams carb (6.1%)
  • 104 mg sodium
  • 28.4 mg Potassium
(you could substitute 2 tbs. of lemon juice for the orange juice and it would come out the same - or at least close).

Recipe #3 (using cups and quarts)

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (not concentrate) or 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3-3/4 cups cold water

    • 1. In the bottom of a pitcher, dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water.
    • 2. Add the juice and the remaining water; chill.

  • Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • Calories - 50
  • carbohydrate 12 grams
  • sodium 110 milligrams
  • potassium 30 milligrams

Recipe #4 (if you prefer an all fructose drink)

  • 125 mL (1/2 c) orange juice (or other sugar-containing beverage)
  • 125 mL (1/2 c) water
  • 0.25 mL (pinch) salt
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • Calories - 59
  • carbohydrates 14 grams
  • sodium - 118 mg

Recipe #5 Lemon-orange sports drink

  • 1 caffeine-free lemon tea bag
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
    • Bring 16 ounces of water to a boil.
    • Steep lemon tea bag.
    • Dissolve sugar and salt in the tea and let cool.
    • Combine the tea and orange juice and chill.
Nutrition Information (per 8 ounces):
  • Calories - 60
  • carbohydrates - 15g
  • sodium -130mg
How about something more "natural" than refined sugar? Some recipes called for maple syrup, sugar cane juice or honey. Sylvia Ellis, one of the members of the Southern Cal Walkers, says: "I find the juice of baby Thai coconuts gives you more nutrients you can ever ask for and it's kind to your body." Makes me think if the mashed bananas with honey my mother used to give me as a baby would make for a great energy gel.

Here is an interesting article about honey, but it is biased--check the copyright at the end of the piece.

Honey and Exercise
Honey Aids Athletic Performance

Studies at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sports Nutrition Laboratory found that honey may be one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to ingest just prior to exercise. Honey eaten before exercise is digested easily and released into the system at a steady rate for use by the body.

During Exercise – Research has shown that using honey as a carbohydrate source while exercising significantly improved performance during endurance cycling trials. This small study found that honey produced a statistically significant reduction in the time to finish the time trial and a significant increase in the athletes’ average power when compared to a placebo. In these trials, honey performed as well as glucose, the most common carbohydrate supplement.

Post-Exercise – Research has also shown that honey may be an optimal source of carbohydrate to ingest along with post-workout protein supplements. In addition to promoting muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration, honey-protein combination sustain favorable blood sugar concentrations after training that would help promote recovery.

Honey Sports Beverages

These beverages closely resemble the nutritional value of currently available bottled sports beverages but with a higher level of potassium.

Honey Orange Thirst Quencher - Makes eight 8 oz. servings

1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
2 cups orange juice
5-1/2 cups water

Directions: Combine ingredients. Using lukewarm water will aid in dissolving honey. Then cool.

Nutritional information per 8 oz. serving:
Calories 75 Sugar 19g. Sodium 77mg.
Carbohydrate 21g. Potassium 85mg.

Honey Lemon Thirst Quencher - Makes slightly more than eight 8 oz. servings

1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
7-1/2 cups water

Directions: Combine ingredients. Using lukewarm water will aid in dissolving honey. Then cool.

Nutritional information per 8 oz. serving:
Calories 60 Sugar 16g. Sodium 72mg.
Carbohydrate 17g. Potassium 85mg.

Flavored Honey Thirst Quencher - Makes eight 8 oz. servings

1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1 package unsweetened soft drink mix (similar to Kool-Aid® packets)
7-1/2 cups water

Directions: Combine ingredients. Using lukewarm water will aid in dissolving honey. Then cool.

Nutritional information per 8 oz. serving:
Calories 60 Sugar 16g. Sodium 77mg.
Carbohydrate 17g. Potassium 85mg.

Honey Usage Tips

Don’t forget when planning your training that honey is a source of carbohydrates, providing energy, sweet flavor, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And all at just 64 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. Combining honey with other healthful foods can add to your total nutrition and give you an energy boost. Try these tips to fuel your diet with the sweet goodness of honey:

Looking for a substitute for energy gels? Try packets of honey or honey sticks.

One of the most important things to remember when you’re on the go is to stay hydrated. A squeeze of honey in your bottle is an easy substitute for sports drinks.

Whether you are active or not, it’s important to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Honey can be spread on a bagel or toast, drizzled over hot cereal or fruit or added to a fruit smoothie.

Snack time is a great time to add an extra serving of fruit and vegetables to your diet. Try mixing together peanut butter and honey or honey and light cream cheese as a dip for fresh fruits or vegetables.

© Copyright 2002 The National Honey Board

Almost Fully Recovered

As part of the reverse taper after the marathon I did a 3 mile walk, trying to speed up each successive mile.
Mile 1 - 12:29               (7:45 min/km)
Mile 2 - 11:57 (7:26 min/km)
Mile 3 - 11:18 (7:01 min/km)
Average Pace - 11:55 min/mi (7:24 min/km)
Total Workout - 35:49

I haven't measured the neighborhood loop in kilometers yet but 3 miles is just under 5km and 6 miles a little short of 10km. A 30 minute 5k requires a 6 min/km pace or 9:39 min/mi.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Getting Back on Schedule

So I did a recovery mile on Monday and strength training on Tuesday--that means I'm off my schedule. Today I did another recovery mile followed by the scheduled strength training. My heart rate was well into the "recovery zone" at under 130 bpm.
Mile 1 - 13:29.9 (8:23.2 min/km)

Afterwards I did my full strength/stretching routing to aid recovery. Tomorrow I should do 3 miles building up each mile until I'm back to 12 minutes for an "easy" mile (7:27 min/km). Speed work on Saturday should complete recovery. Without another race on the schedule I'm not sure what to do for the long workout on Sunday. Looks like it is time to lookup training recommendations for a sub 1-hour 10k (6:00 min/km).

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Start Reverse Taper

The L.A. Marathon is behind me and it is time to recover and get back into shape. I had lots of energy after the marathon and although I was somewhat sore, it wasn't bad at all.

Monday I did a slow recovery mile with Rosie, just a 15:49 pace but good enough to put some life back into my legs.

This morning, Tuesday, I did my strength training/stretching routine. Perhaps I wasn't putting enough emphasis on this routine in my blog because it isn't as easy to measure as the distance/time workouts, but I believe that strength training and stretching are an important part of a walking/running exercise program.

Now I've got to decide on which of the many upcoming races I want to participate in and start training for it. It is also time to set some new goals--of course that 12 min/mile marathon pace would still be a good one to try and reach. How about these goals:

5 kilometers under 30 minutes

10 kilometers under 1 hour

Time to start switching over gears from miles to kilometers! Let's see, 12 min/mile = 7:27 min/kilometer and 26.2 miles = 42.26 kilometers.

Monday, March 5, 2007

2007 L.A. Marathon Racewalking Results

Here are the racewalking results from the 22nd L.A. Marathon. These are the finishers and I trimmed it down to the information that would be most suitable for number crunching. Note that I updated the results on March 15 and it looks like some finishers were disqualified (DQ'd).

What was advertised as a new faster course turned out to be much slower than last year. Put part of the blame is on the weather, part on the uphill start, burn out long downhill early in the course and those hills near the end.

I was trying to better Steve Collins' time from last year but looks like his pace was way down this year. Placing wasn't in the cards either, looks like they broke it down in 10 year age/sex divisions and the top two finishers were in my division.

No more excuses--time to start training for the next race!
Bib Name                    Age/Sex  Time    Overall SexPl DivPl Age Grade  Pace     10km     1/2      30km
344 Eric Fischer 57 M 04:43:30 1 1 1 52.5% 10:48.9 1:04:13 2:21:07 3:14:05
340 Alexis Davidson 51 M 04:57:51 2 2 2 47.2% 11:21.8 1:08:40 2:33:33 3:30:19
346 Mario Lopez 49 M 05:03:18 3 3 1 45.6% 11:34.3 1:04:14 2:21:05 3:18:44
317 Lindsey Goldbloom 39 F 05:30:27 4 1 1 42.6% 12:36.4 1:15:49 2:42:46 3:52:56
342 Al Cazas 49 M 05:31:11 5 4 2 41.7% 12:38.1 1:15:29 2:38:38 3:47:52
314 Brandye Smith 46 F 05:31:33 6 2 1 45.9% 12:38.9 1:15:49 2:42:45 3:52:59
302 Steve Collins 52 M 05:37:48 7 5 3 42% 12:53.2 1:14:22 2:41:56 3:54:03
316 Robert Collins 20 M 05:37:48 8 6 1 37.4% 12:53.2 1:14:22 2:42:14 3:54:03
318 Vicki Kryszak 60 F 05:38:55 9 3 1 54.2% 12:55.8 1:14:09 2:45:07 3:55:16
320 Lynn Goodman 42 F 05:40:06 10 4 2 42.6% 12:58.5 1:22:08 2:57:05 4:00:52
358 Juan Moreno 42 M 05:44:10 11 7 3 37.8% 13:07.8 1:08:09 2:34:05 3:42:34
301 Charles Cutting 66 M 05:46:58 12 8 4 46.9% 13:14.2 1:13:14 2:40:35 3:55:26
361 David Sirkin 53 M 05:48:45 13 9 5 41.1% 13:18.3 1:17:44 3:03:04 4:02:02
332 Mary Schoenbaum 51 F 05:51:48 14 5 3 46% 13:25.3 1:20:22 3:02:55 4:04:32
366 Bert Johnson 67 M 05:53:14 15 10 6 46.6% 13:28.6 1:16:42 2:58:42 4:05:12
345 Patricia Dummett 52 F 05:57:07 16 6 3 46% 13:37.5 1:21:50 3:02:53 4:05:03
308 Martha Fitzpatrick 64 F 05:59:52 17 7 4 54.4% 13:43.8 1:15:49 2:50:18 4:09:26
330 Michael Mizote 49 M 06:02:03 18 11 4 38.2% 13:48.8 1:17:46 3:02:55 4:04:02
360 Kanani Wolf 48 F 06:05:59 19 8 3 42.6% 13:57.8 1:21:21 2:55:35 4:11:58
348 Deborah Gal 46 F 06:09:10 20 9 4 41.2% 14:05.0 1:22:30 3:01:11 4:18:34
353 Julia Gutierrez 10 F 06:09:10 21 10 1 46% 14:05.0 1:22:31 3:01:11 4:18:35
354 Michelle Gutierrez 13 F 06:09:23 22 11 2 41.6% 14:05.5 1:22:32 3:01:11 4:18:37
323 Ernest Clark Jr 55 M 06:13:12 23 12 7 39.1% 14:14.3 1:15:31 2:42:41 3:52:44
315 Daniel Fort 52 M 06:18:30 24 13 8 37.5% 14:26.4 1:13:44 2:52:59 4:07:15
322 Donna Dawson 56 F 06:19:08 25 12 5 45.7% 14:27.9 1:15:23 2:55:49 4:14:03
343 Ena Dubnoff 68 F 06:19:40 26 13 6 55.6% 14:29.1 1:25:12 3:13:16 4:24:30
329 Maria Fernandez 59 F 06:21:05 27 14 7 47.5% 14:32.3 1:20:19 3:07:57 4:17:33
324 Luis Ramos 46 M 06:21:18 28 14 5 35.3% 14:32.8 1:25:24 3:04:04 4:24:59
363 Deborah Salari 42 F 06:23:48 29 15 5 37.8% 14:38.5 1:31:14 3:10:35 4:28:02
339 Jane Adams 54 F 06:29:26 30 16 8 43.3% 14:51.4 1:25:51 3:20:08 4:35:18
305 Constance Koenig 47 F 06:29:41 31 17 6 39.5% 14:52.0 1:25:50 3:20:08 4:35:17
365 Eric Neumann 30 M 06:31:46 32 15 1 31.9% 14:56.8 1:21:12 3:02:45 4:20:31
326 Paul Kim 63 M 06:33:14 33 16 9 40.1% 15:00.1 1:25:21 3:10:15 4:34:23
303 Raymond Billig 49 M 06:41:43 34 17 6 34.4% 15:19.6 1:32:30 3:17:17 4:43:55
359 Iris Peoples 45 F 06:41:43 35 18 7 37.4% 15:19.6 1:32:29 3:17:11 4:43:56
319 Lenny Krosinsky 67 M 06:51:43 36 18 10 40% 15:42.5 1:22:41 3:19:33 4:39:29
327 Kathleen Mcavoy-Jahraus 56 F 06:52:28 37 19 9 42% 15:44.2 1:34:30 3:32:17 4:51:20
350 William Arthur 58 M 07:10:31 38 19 11 34.9% 16:25.5 1:28:04 3:21:18 4:53:17
307 Linda Loiselle 53 F 07:13:51 39 20 10 38.3% 16:33.1 1:32:29 3:36:11 5:01:10
367 Kathleen Cureton 58 F 07:13:56 40 21 11 41.1% 16:33.3 1:34:58 3:36:56 5:04:36
311 Pierre Klein 59 M 07:31:45 41 20 12 33.6% 17:14.1 1:39:21 3:34:44 5:09:32
368 Siamak Afshar 53 M 07:49:02 42 21 13 30.6% 17:53.7 1:53:44 3:58:02 5:32:12
337 Frances Hernandez 52 F 08:02:56 43 22 12 34% 18:25.5 1:38:09 3:54:18 5:31:48
338 Phyllis Goldstein 71 F 09:22:19 44 23 13 40% 21:27.2 1:38:42 3:50:04 5:22:49
369 Vladimir Babichev 74 M 13:42:48 45 22 14 21.7% 31:23.5

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Bad Race, Good Deed

Right to the point--results of my L.A. Marathon from today:


315 Daniel Fort West HollywoodCA52M06:18:3006:26:152916937.5%

So what happened? Basically, I didn't do enough hill work and it was hotter than usual a couple hours into the race. I was doing pretty good until about mile 10 when I really started slowing down. By the halfway mark it was clear that I was too ambitious with my pace and blew it. At mile 14 I called my wife, Rosie, to tell her I was falling off my pace so I was going to finish later than expected. She then called me at mile 18 to say that Joshua, my nephew, fell down and was having terrible problems--I was just a couple minutes behind him at that point. So instead of trying to salvage what I could (I later found out that I had a chance of placing in my age group) I ended up walking the last several miles with my nephew and encouraging him to finish the race. We crossed the finish line together. Well, I did beat him by one second because he crossed the starting line just ahead of me.

I lost track of some of my split times towards the end, but this is what I could record:
Mile 1 - 12:25          Mile 10 - 13:02          Mile 19 - 15:49
Mile 2 - 12:11 Mile 11 - 14:12 Mile 20 - 17:29
Mile 3 - 11:22 Mile 12 - 14:00 Mile 21 - 16:13
Mile 4 - 11:23 Mile 13 - 13:33 Mile 22 - 16:03
Mile 5 - 11:48 Mile 14 - 14:56 Mile 23 - 16:03
Mile 6 - 11:51 Mile 15 - 15:02 Mile 24 - 16:19
Mile 7 - 12:11 Mile 16 - 14:00 Mile 25 - 20:48
Mile 8 - 12:16 Mile 17 - 14:21 Mile 26 - 17:31
Mile 9 - 13:04 Mile 18 - 15:33

I didn't mark mile 23 so I divided the time between miles 22 and 24. Oh well, nothing to brag about, but I did help my nephew finish, and if it was any consolation, we beat one of my co-workers who was running in the marathon.

When I checked the finish times for the racewalkers I was surprised at how slow this race was for the walkers. More on this in another post. Right now I'm going to wash up and decide when I'll be ready to race again or if I'm washed up--terrible pun, sorry about that.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Day Before Tomorrow

Maybe I'm trying too hard on these titles but it isn't that much worse than "The Day After Tomorrow" which is a movie I worked on.

Anyway, tomorrow is the L.A. Marathon. This morning I did my 3-minute hard workout, with a 5-minute warm up and 10-minute cool down/stretching afterwards. This was the last phase of the taper/carbo-loading ritual, except for maybe the spaghetti I had for lunch. I also picked up my bib, timing chip and goodie bag for the marathon at the "Quality of Life Expo" located in the L.A. Convention Center. The number is pinned to my jersey, timing chip strapped to my shoelace, fuel belt packed with GU, sunglasses, hat, foot powder, watch, heart rate monitor, cell phone, credit card, license and a few dollars stashed away. The only thing that's left is to decide where would be the best place to park and how to get my wife, nephew, brother and me to the starting line on time. Details, details.

Am I ready? I did my best to get through the knee injuries, blisters, good and bad workouts and worst of all, the self doubt. In a way it doesn't really matter how well I do tomorrow. I'm in much better shape than when I started training for this. I'm ready!

Friday, March 2, 2007


So what is this ritual practiced by endurance athletes? A good introduction can be found on Wikipedia.

Carbohydrate loading

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In sports, carbohydrate loading, also known as carbo-loading, is a strategy employed by endurance athletes such as marathon runners to maximize the storage of glycogen in the muscles.

The protocol of carbohydrate loading was originally developed in 1967 in Sweden. The original theory of carbohydrate loading was that, if the body's glycogen stores were depleted, it would store more glycogen than normal when carbohydrate intake returned to normal. Consequently, the original carbo-loading regimen began one week before the event, and called for three days of minimal carbohydrate intake and exercise to deplete the body's carbohydrate stores. Then for the next three days, the athlete would consume primarily carbohydrates, and reduce the intensity of exercise to allow for maximum storage.

In the 1980s, further research led to a modified carbo-loading regimen that eliminates the depletion phase, instead calling for increased carbohydrate intake and decreased training for three days prior to the event. Most athletes now follow this modified regimen, and it is recommended by many coaches, although there are some athletes who still follow the original carbo-loading regimen.

Carbohydrate loading is generally recommended for endurance events lasting longer than 90 minutes. For many endurance athletes the food of choice for carbo-loading is spaghetti. Because of this, hundreds of marathons and triathlons have huge spaghetti dinners the night before the race.

However, there have been some more recent experiments with increasing glycogen storage. The most promising is one developed in Australia. Here is a snippit from an article that was published on several web pages, I copied this from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training web site:

The Western Australia method

The newest and perhaps the best of all the carbo-loading strategies was devised in 2002 by scientists at the University of Western Australia. It combines depletion and loading and condenses them into a one-day time frame.

The creators of this innovative protocol recognized that a single, short workout performed at extremely high intensity creates a powerful demand for glycogen storage in both the slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers of the muscles. They hypothesized that following such a workout with heavy carbohydrate intake could result in a high level of glycogen supercompensation without a lot of fuss.

In an experiment, the researchers asked athletes to perform a short-duration, high-intensity workout consisting of two and a half minutes at 130 percent of VO2max (about one-mile race pace) followed by a 30-second sprint. During the next 24 hours, the athletes consumed 12 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of lean muscle mass. This resulted in a 90-percent increase in muscle glycogen storage.

The Western Australia
Carbo-Loading Method

  1. During the pre-race week, eat normally while training lightly until the day before a longer race.

  2. On the morning of the day before the race, perform a very brief, very high-intensity workout.

  3. Consume 12 g of carbs per lb. of body weight over the next 24 hours.

Runners have cause to be very pleased by these findings. Doing just a few minutes of high-intensity exercise the day before a competition will not sabotage tomorrow's performance, yet it will suffice to stimulate the desirable carbohydrate "sponging" effect that was sought in the original Ahlborg protocol. This allows the athlete to maintain a normal diet right up until the day before competition and then load in the final 24 hours.

The Western Australia carbo-loading strategy works best if preceded by a proper taper -- that is, by several days of reduced training whose purpose is to render your body rested, regenerated, and race-ready. In fact, several days of reduced training combined with your normal diet will substantially increase your glycogen storage level even before the final day's workout and carbohydrate binge.

When you exercise vigorously almost every day, your body never gets a chance to fully replenish its glycogen stores before the next workout reduces them again. Only after 48 hours of very light training or complete rest are your glycogen levels fully compensated. Then the Western Australia carbo-loading regimen can be used to achieve glycogen supercompensation.

Having said all of this, I would like to note finally that carbo-loading in general has been shown to enhance race performance only when athletes consume little or no carbohydrate during the race itself. If you do use a sports drink or sports gels to fuel your race effort -- as you should -- prior carbo-loading probably will have no effect. But it doesn't hurt to do it anyway, as insurance.

So the morning before the marathon I'll be sprinting hard for just a few minutes before breakfast. This may seem odd training for an endurance event but this same recommendation is in Ellen Coleman's book, "Eating for Endurance."I should add that tapering is a part of the carbo-loading ritual and during the taper period it is important to maintain a low fat, high carbohydrate diet and increase hydration--for every gram of carbohydrate (glycogen) the body stores, it also stores 3-5 grams of water. I've been drinking one gallon of fluids per day during my taper phase. Basically, a quart of Hydralyte in the morning workout, a quart of water before lunch, a quart after lunch and a quart of Poweraid, which isn't ideal but is available at the commissary where I work, between 4-5pm. I don't gulp it down but sip throughout the day and try to stop before 6pm to avoid too many nightly bathroom breaks.

I've heard stories of how some endurance athletes get a "stuffy" feeling in their muscles during this taper/carbo-loading phase. Now I'm experiencing it--or is it just that lethargic feeling from cutting back the exercise? We'll find out soon enough.