Tag Archives: running

the low down on the low shoe

statisticians would have an absolute field day observing the evolution of fitness fads over the years – when we think back to the ’80s with its tight pink shorts and workout videos (hey – some of us still rock the tight pink shorts, Boogie style!) and contrast it to our modern day sweat, it’s pretty hilarious. But within those decades of growth and change, there are smaller trends that are more easily pinpointed as the result of a certain cultural event or experience, and the perfect example of this is minimalist running. Minimalist running shoes were around well before they started being produced in a full range of highlighter rainbows; however, with the 2009 drop of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” minimalism became a buzzword in running, and simple quickly got a whole lot more complicated. Now, there are hundreds of different styles of minimalist running shoes, and as tends to be the case with any trend, not always enough education surrounding how to best use them – which, in this case, can lead to some pretty serious injury.

So, what is minimalist running? Minimalist running refers to running either barefoot, or nearly barefoot, with a running shoe that functions solely as protection from sharp objects on the ground. It is thought to both strengthen your legs and improve your stride, since the extreme padding and cushioning that has become so customary in running shoes these days does unquestionably alter the natural-born human running posture, and has been shown to encourage the ever-dreaded heel strike. Great in theory… so why does it seem that every other person you talk to has some devastating injury from their experience with minimalist running? Simple – there is a pretty high likelyhood that they either didn’t transition properly to this new style of shoe, or they maintained the exact same running posture and engagement in a zero padding shoe as they had in the heavily padded one. When the minimalist running trend hit, everyone and their run-loving mothers went out to the nearest shoe store and said defiantly “give me your most minimal shoe,” absolutely declining anything other than the lowest of the low, and instantly went home and pounded the pavement with these trendy new kicks… logging the exact same number of miles as they had been before the switch. Oops. Ouch.

These fleets of baby barefoot runners soon started getting all kinds of injuries – shin splits, IT band issues, hip pain. You name it, it happened. So why? Because, like with anything in the world, growth is a process. The transition from a lifetime in a heavily supportive shoe that has literally shaped the way that you run to something that offers you nothing other than protection from sharp objects is a huge one, and one that should be made in a slow, mindful, and well-educated way. Ideally, you would probably go from a heavily supportive shoe to a lower drop, but not quite barefoot shoe (low drop simply means that there is a smaller “drop” distance between the height of the heel and the height of the toe), and spend some time training in that before switching all the way to a no-drop barefoot shoe. Understandably, many people don’t want to fork out the cash required for a multi-shoe transition, in which case you should just be extra, extra mindful of a slow posture and strength transition. Modern day running shoes make it much easier to run lazy – bad posture, core not engaged, little to no attention given to the way that the foot is striking the ground. Minimalist shoes don’t  allow for these leisures, so give your body time to adjust. Even if you’re a happy marathoner, dial it wayyy down to one or two miles a day, until you really get used to all of the new muscles you’re using. Walk around barefoot when possible (so summer is an awesome time to start on this transition), which will strengthen your feet and make for a much easier shift, since most runners actually have surprisingly weak feet. Here is an awesome breakdown of the detailed process of switching between these two different styles of shoes, and I would also recommend doing a little bit more research on it before you dive in. It’s a wonderful transition to make, but like with anything, the more you know the better.

Now that you know how to have a proper and pain-free transition into a minimalist running shoe, there is still the question of “why?” Why would you make this transition, especially when it is so much easier (and cheaper) to stick with what you know? Is it necessary? The answer to that is:  it’s totally up to you. Obviously, it’s not necessary at all. There are benefits to any kind of running shoe – stability, low-drop, minimal, or anything in between. The distinct benefits of a minimalist running shoe are that it offers increased strength, flexibility, and a more refined technique. Strength-wise, running with a less padded shoe will force your body to compensate for that loss of padding by developing even stronger legs, feet, and even core – which is awesome, as long as you honor the six-eight week transition period your body needs to build up that strength. Flexibility is increased because to run in this type of shoe, your body will need to develop much better ankle and calf mobility, which will be helpful for pretty much any athletic endeavor that you pursue… yoga balances, anyone? Finally, with regards to technique, minimalist running discourages heel-striking, since there is no padding to encourage the heel towards the ground before the middle of the foot, which can definitely help in long-term injury prevention. It will also encourage you towards a more aligned and upright style of running, which will be much less painful and much more efficient in the long run. That being said, a lot of these benefits are ones that I have found in a low drop, but not minimalist, shoe – so, it really has a lot more to do with the level of awareness you have surrounding your run than it does with your preferred style of shoe. But, now that you have a little bit more information under your belt, consider giving minimalist running a try!

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what we’re loving: speed shorts

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with so many great colors of these little beauties in the showroom this spring, it seemed a great time to highlight exactly why we freaking love speed shorts so much!

The Speed Shorts are our favorite Swift material, which is crisp, lightweight, soft and smooth, and runs with you instead of sticking to your sweaty legs (because let’s be honest – if you don’t have those running around here in May, you’re probably walking. Indoors.) Tucked into all of this magical fabric are plenty of pockets, for all your running essentials… keys, gels, credit card and ID if, like me, you sometimes find yourself in situations where you’re running to a wine-serving destination… the zipper back pocket’s great for that one, but it’ll also fit an iPod/iPhone for those less inclined to booze after they break a sweat. Finally, a favorite recently-discovered feature on these puppies: they dry crazy quickly. Like, in the time it takes you to eat a bowl of chips and salsa. It’s partially due to the little pockets of ventilation all up the back side of the shorts, and also the awesome CoolMax liner which wicks moisture away to the outer fabric, working to make everything dry a little more quickly and evenly.

Love ’em so much. AND, in case you didn’t get our latest Product Notification Email, we just got a couple new colors of these little guys in the showroom. So come by and grab some, and tell us what makes you love Speed Shorts so much!

 

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behind the scenes: Sean the “Run Bum”

this past weekend, I had the insanely awesome, and very spontaneous pleasure of photographing Sean, “Run Bum,” up on the trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This dude is seriously intense… and seriously awesome! If you’re looking for some new outdoor/athletic inspiration, we’ve found you a great one. Sean is based out of Atlanta, but travels literally all around the world “in search of the perfect run,” with the mission of having fun, connecting runners, and inspiring people to get active and outdoors… so basically, he spends his life living to the fullest, and elevating everyone he meets to do the same. In addition to seeking out (and crushing) really awesome runs for himself, Sean organizes races and events, and also leads his Run Bum community in clearing and maintaining trails. On top of all this goodness, he’s also a super nice and down-to-earth guy… and he can rock some lululemon!

Check out these pictures from our awesome time hopping around on a mountaintop, please please go read more about this ridiculously inspiring guy, then go join his amazing community, AND FINALLY,  come hang out with him in the showroom TOMORROW (April 24)  for Run Club, and again May 8th for a Run Bum clinic, some crazy awesome stories, and an ice-cold beer. What better way to kick off run season?!

 

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fitness fusion: yoga for runners

in the wonderful world of fitness, there tends to be at least some symbiosis between different activities, for which I am totally grateful. Once you start loving certain things, they all seem to flow together effortlessly, and  maybe in some cases it’s only because you are pursuing these things so wholeheartedly that they cannot help but fuse; but in other cases, the connection is incredibly and undeniably clear (paddleboard yoga, for example). Either way, it makes everything so much more exciting when all of the ways that you love to be active can blend together to make one awesome, incredible life. Someone asked me the other day what my favorite way to sweat was, and my immediate response was “runningbutclimbingandabsolutelyyogaplusnowpaddleboarding.” Definitely all one word.

With that being said, and in honor of yesterday’s Boston Marathon, I wanted to take a moment to explore the fusion between yoga and running by looking at some of the best yoga poses for runners! So if you were one of the incredible 26.2-ers from yesterday, or if you spent your sunny Monday getting in some milage of your own, here are a few great ways to work it all out on your mat:

1. Crescent Lunge – I know this one is always a little bit of a struggle for me, because everything in my legs usually hurts a little bit from running, but stick with this beauty even through the pain, because  it is  truly a wonderful hip, calf, and hamstring stretch.

2. Downward Dog – my post-run paradise. This pose helps to stretch out and strengthen everything in your leg that gets so tight from running, which will actually help prevent common running injuries later on (shin splints, IT band issues, etc.)

3. Pigeon Pose – a lot of the time, runners will suffer from overuse injuries, because of the repetition of one type of movement for a long period of time. If you’re doing this constant motion with tight hip flexors, your body will look to other joints to balance the load, even when they were not meant to do so. SO. If you put in a little extra time on your mat really focusing on opening your hips, it will help train your body to put the pressure where it was meant to be when you’re running, and ultimately lead to a much better run, and much fewer injuries!

4. Pyramid Pose – this is a phenomenal hamstring stretch, which is  such a necessary undertaking for active runners. When your hamstrings are too tight, it changes the angle in which your pelvis tilts, which in turn adds a lot more stress on your back. Well-stretched hamstrings will not only keep your legs flexible, but will help keep your back aligned and strong.

5. Triangle Pose – two words: hamstring. stretch. Get on it.

6. Chair Pose – big ow, especially for runners. I can feel my glutes burn even as I type the words. But such a helpful pose, as it’s working to strengthen not only those leg muscles we need for a solid run, but the core muscles to help us run properly, and therefore avoid injury.

7. Hero Pose – the motion and bending of running puts a lot of stretch and strain on your psoas muscle, which tightens it up and allows for poor posture. Hero pose stretches out your psoas muscle, working to counteract this tightness.

8. Forward Fold – don’t have the time or space for any of these other fancy moves? That’s fine. Sometimes, a simple forward fold is all you need to stretch everything out, and to heal and re-center your body and your breath.

 

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