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How to Safely Build Endurance as a Runner

Ever wonder how to safely build endurance as a runner?  If you have been following our blog series, you have been establishing adequate range of motion and mobility. Your balance and stability are now ninja-like…or at least ninja-in-training-like.  Now, it’s time to focus on endurance so you can crush your next running goal and continue to improve your running performance.  This post is an introduction to endurance and how to safely build endurance as a runner by incorporating non-running exercise into your weekly routine.

As mentioned in previous posts, running is a high-impact exercise. Trading a few running sessions out for low-impact exercises can increase your endurance fitness without adding additional load to your muscles and joints.

What exactly are we talking about when we say “endurance”?

There are two main types of endurance we will focus on to safely build endurance as a runner, cardiovascular and muscular. Cardiovascular endurance means how well our hearts, lungs, arteries, and veins take in, transport, and utilize oxygen. Muscular endurance is related to how many contractions our muscles can perform before they begin to fatigue.

How can you impact your cardiovascular endurance?

By varying intensity levels in each of these cardio exercises, you can start to increase the ability of your heart to have more cardiac output (heart rate x stroke volume). Improving the ability to get oxygenated blood through your body allows your muscles to continue to work at a higher rate. When you first start exercising, your ability to clear out carbon dioxide, shuttle hydrogen ions, and utilize oxygen is not great so your legs start to get “heavy” and fatigue quickly. As you gain cardiovascular fitness, you are better able to clear out that pesky carbon dioxide, shuttle hydrogen ions so they don’t build up in your muscles, and utilize oxygen so you can continue the activity for sustained periods over your previous capacity. If you are interested in learning more about how to create a running program based off of intensity levels, check out Jack Daniels’ “Running Formula”.

Remember, improving cardiovascular endurance means you need to perform exercises that stress the heart. Cardio exercises include things such as running, hiking, cycling, and swimming. Performing these exercises at varying and increasing intensity levels will improve your hearts cardiac output and your heart will become more efficient at pumping oxygenated blood throughout your body. The faster you transport oxygen to your muscles, the better they will feel and perform. Try adding a long bike ride or a swim, or even dancing (try Lindyhop!) into your weekly training plan. You will improve your endurance while challenging your body in a new way, which ultimately helps improve your run.

build muscular endurance as a runner
Click here for swimming workouts to help build endurance and improve your running.

Now let’s focus on muscular endurance. Running is essentially a series of single leg hops that you perform over, and over, and over again. In order to get through any distance run, it is vital that your leg muscles have the endurance to continue to contract and relax with each step. In addition to propelling you forward, muscle contractions help the venous system return blood to your heart. The more efficient your muscles are at contracting against the veins to return blood to the heart, the better cardiac output you will have and thus, better endurance. Exercises to improve muscular endurance for running include body weight squats, lunges and pistol squats.  Try these pistol squat progressions.

Remember, you will only stick with any exercise program long-term if it’s enjoyable for you! Choose activities that you WANT to spend time doing. Almost any sport can be turned into an endurance workout if done for sustained periods. Rock-climbing, Rollerblading, playing the drums…the list is endless. Be creative and both your run AND your brain will thank you for it.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance.

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option.

RunLab™. Helping runners help themselves.

LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel

 

The Key to a Good Race Photo? Coordination.

(Photo Credit)

The Key to a Good Race Photo? Coordination. Have you ever looked at your race photos and thought to yourself, “WOW. How did I even finish my race? My body seems to be moving in every direction except forward!”  Make your next set of race photos look more graceful by improving your coordination.

When most people hear the word coordination they think of “hand-eye coordination.” These individuals are not wrong. However, when we speak of coordination in the context of running we mean being able to orchestrate the muscles, joints, tendons, and skeleton to execute the desired movement. We develop coordination through challenging our proprioception, kinesthetic awareness, and nervous system.

The Key to a Good Race Photo? Coordination.
(Proprioception)

Proprioception is the mechanism that allows us to know where our body is in space. For example, if you were in a pitch-black room, you would still know where your hands were without having to look at them. Kinesthetic awareness is similar to proprioception but allows us to sense body movements. These mechanisms work by transferring information from our muscles and joints to our brain.

Most individuals have underdeveloped proprioception and kinesthetic awareness and are over-reliant on their visual system to activate their muscles. To test this, balance barefoot on one leg with your eyes open for 30 seconds. Now try the same thing with your eyes closed.  If you fell over as soon as you closed your eyes, you are over-reliant on your visual system and lack proprioceptive awareness from your muscles and joints. If your muscles and joints aren’t sending appropriate data to your brain, it makes it extremely challenging for your brain to coordinate efficient movements. Lack of efficiency implies that the wrong muscles will be recruited during a movement which will lead to a lack of stability and power. All of these things combined can lead to a higher probability of being injured while running.

In addition to building proprioception and kinesthetic awareness, you can improve coordination by developing neural pathways. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. Nerves that enter and exit the spinal cord run to every muscle in your body making up the peripheral nervous system. You can improve these pathways from your brain to your muscles by movement repetition or muscle memory.  The more you perform a movement, the stronger and faster the communication from your brain to your muscles will be. Running is a high impact exercise. In order to improve the neural pathways without the increased loading rate of running, perform parts of the running motion in less impactful ways. For example, perform three rounds of butt kicks, skips, and high knees for 15 to 30 seconds each, three to five days a week. These exercises look very similar to running without the same loading rate. Meaning, you can improve your pathways for running and enhance your coordination with less strain on the body. 

The Key to a Good Race Photo? Coordination. Butt Kicks.
View example of butt kicks

 

The Key to a Good Race Photo? Coordination. Power Skips.
View example of power skips

 

The Key to a Good Race Photo? Coordination. High Knees.
View example of high knees

 

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance.

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option.

RunLab™. Helping runners help themselves.

ABOUT LORIN WILSON

RunLab™ Clinical Gait Specialist

Lucky enough to be a part of a great running program in high school, Lorin not only went on to win the 2007 Texas 4a State Championship in the mile but also went on to earn a track scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. Lorin graduated from the The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in business. While still attending UT, he began coaching distance running at St. Stephen’s Episcopal school where he would coach student-athletes to break school records in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 3200 meter, 5000 meter, 4×400 meters, and 4×800 meters. After graduating from UT and during his aforementioned tenure at St. Stephen’s, Lorin also worked for the local Austin non-profit Power For Parkinson’s as a fitness instructor, which provides free fitness programs for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. No longer a trainer at Power For Parkinson’s, Lorin does fundraising campaigns for Power For Parkinson’s. During this period he also started BlueSky Running LLC, which provided on-site Yoga programs for employees of the Austin Independent School District (teachers, administration, bus drivers etc).

Lorin has the following physical training certifications: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM), Senior (elderly individuals) Fitness Specialist (NASM), Fitness Nutrition Specialist (NASM), RunLab Clinical Gait Specialist, USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach, and a USA Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor certification earned while studying in Rishikesh, India. Lorin is a MBA Graduate with an emphasis in Accounting from Texas State University. He was also the President of the Texas State MBA Student Association and a Future Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipient.

Lorin has a marathon best of 2:37:05 (5:59 per mile pace) run at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. He ran his first 100 miler in 17 hours 30 minutes (10:15 per mile pace) in Flagstaff, Arizona in September 2018. He ran the 2019 Boston Marathon in 2:37:59. He also has three top 10 finishes (5th, 7th, and 10th) in the Capital 10,000, the largest 10k in Texas, with the latest two being 2016 and 2017. Lorin looks forward to working towards his goal of making high-quality fitness accessible to everyone while he continues to train for 100 mile races.

LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel

Running Times Hit a Brick Wall? A Lack of Power Training May Be the Culprit!

Running times hit a brick wall?  A lack of power training may be the culprit!  Have you ever run a 5k or marathon where you had the sensation of floating down the road? You felt light, springy and stronger than ever. If you have, you were running with power and elasticity.

If your running times hit a brick wall recently or you don’t feel a “bounce” or “spring” when you run, there is most likely a lack of power training being integrated into your training.  You’re then getting stuck on the ground in the load acceptance phase of the gait cycle. As you contact the ground, you want your body to absorb that force and then convert it into energy that propels you forward. The success of the conversion of forces can be seen in the float phase cycle of gait (period when both feet are in the air at the same time). If you find yourself with an extremely short or non-existent float phase, it may be time to add some power and elasticity training via plyometric (jump oriented) type exercises.

The equation for power is force multiplied by displacement divided by time. When applied to running, power is simply the interplay between your strength and the time you spend on the ground, i.e., contact time. The stronger your muscles and the shorter your contact time the more power you are able to produce. Therefore, in addition to getting functionally stronger, you need to train your body to spend less time on the ground. You can achieve this by increasing the amount of load put on your tendons.  Power training like jumping exercises not only increase the amount of load on a tendon, but they also improve a tendon’s spring-like properties. Both of these things can help improve your run times and help you hit those desired paces

Lack of Power Training
(shuffling pictured, a lack of power training)
(power gait pictured)

Caution: Plyometrics training can be very hard on the body. Make sure you always properly warmed up and understand the risk before performing the exercises.

To improve your elasticity and power training today, start with simple bunny hops in place for 30 seconds.

Lack of Power Training, bunny hops
Bunny hops in place (power training exercise)

If you have no pain, and you can master this you can progress to bunny hops forward x 10 hops.
Once you have mastered static bunny hops you can progress by adding forward movement.

Lack of Power Training, forward bunny hops
Forward bunny hops (power training exercise)

Once you feel comfortable try to progress to single leg bunny hops in place and then forward.

Lack of Power Training, single leg bunny hops
Single leg bunny hops in place and then forward (power training exercise)

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance.

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option.

RunLab™. Helping runners help themselves.

ABOUT LORIN WILSON

RunLab™ Clinical Gait Specialist

Lucky enough to be a part of a great running program in high school, Lorin not only went on to win the 2007 Texas 4a State Championship in the mile but also went on to earn a track scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. Lorin graduated from the The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in business. While still attending UT, he began coaching distance running at St. Stephen’s Episcopal school where he would coach student-athletes to break school records in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 3200 meter, 5000 meter, 4×400 meters, and 4×800 meters. After graduating from UT and during his aforementioned tenure at St. Stephen’s, Lorin also worked for the local Austin non-profit Power For Parkinson’s as a fitness instructor, which provides free fitness programs for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. No longer a trainer at Power For Parkinson’s, Lorin does fundraising campaigns for Power For Parkinson’s. During this period he also started BlueSky Running LLC, which provided on-site Yoga programs for employees of the Austin Independent School District (teachers, administration, bus drivers etc).

Lorin has the following physical training certifications: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM), Senior (elderly individuals) Fitness Specialist (NASM), Fitness Nutrition Specialist (NASM), RunLab Clinical Gait Specialist, USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach, and a USA Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor certification earned while studying in Rishikesh, India. Lorin is a MBA Graduate with an emphasis in Accounting from Texas State University. He was also the President of the Texas State MBA Student Association and a Future Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipient.

Lorin has a marathon best of 2:37:05 (5:59 per mile pace) run at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. He ran his first 100 miler in 17 hours 30 minutes (10:15 per mile pace) in Flagstaff, Arizona in September 2018. He ran the 2019 Boston Marathon in 2:37:59. He also has three top 10 finishes (5th, 7th, and 10th) in the Capital 10,000, the largest 10k in Texas, with the latest two being 2016 and 2017. Lorin looks forward to working towards his goal of making high-quality fitness accessible to everyone while he continues to train for 100 mile races.

LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel

Strength Training To Enhance Running Performance and Prevent Running Injuries

Integrating strength training to enhance running performance and prevent running injuries is important for all levels of runners.  At RunLab, it is not uncommon to hear from clients, “I can barely do a push-up.” “I never do strength training. I don’t want the bulk to slow me down.” 

Runners need more strength as a population. This is a universal truth, and yet runners almost seem to take pride in the lack of strength training they do. Somehow the idea that strength training is detrimental to one’s running performance has taken a space in the collective running consciousness. Often neglected by distance runners, strength is very important for injury prevention and performance optimization and is often neglected. Having adequate strength will lower the probability of injury by preparing muscles to accept increased demand during training cycles.

In order to understand the importance of strength in the context of gait, let’s take a quick look at each phase of the running gait cycle:

Contact Phase (Gait Cycle)
Midstance Phase (Gait Cycle)
Push-Off Phase (Gait Cycle)
Early Swing Phase (Gait Cycle)
Late Swing Phase (Gait Cycle)

If you look at the pictures, you can see that you are performing a series of single-leg squats and hops in rapid succession when you run. Due to the explosive nature of running, you are producing four to ten times your body weight in force PER STEP. It is vital to have sufficient strength to accept these loads if you hope to run injury-free. If you do not have ample strength in the primary working muscles, you will start to recruit smaller secondary muscles to perform the role of the primary muscles. Secondary muscles are not adequately equipped to do the job of a prime mover, either due to size or position in the body. Too much reliance on secondary muscles will result in a premature  break down and aberrant movement patterns programmed into your body over time.

It is important to understand that strength comes in various forms. Functional strength is even more important than brute strength when it comes to a repetitive motion exercise like running. Being able to squat 2,000 pounds is an example of brute strength. However, this type of strength does not translate well to running. Functional strength is the ability to use your strength to perform your desired movement pattern under repetitive load. In order to be able to transfer strength to the desired movement pattern, one must be able to coordinate muscle firing patterns efficiently. Having functional strength will not only allow you to have more control over where the load is being produced while you are running, but also how efficiently the absorption load from the ground is transformed into propulsion energy. You gain functional running strength through performing exercises that look very similar to the running motion. Think of single leg squats, step-ups, or single leg plyometric exercises.

Strength Training To Enhance Running Performance and Prevent Running, single leg squatInjuries
Single Leg Squat
Strength Training To Enhance Running Performance and Prevent Running Injuries, Step-ups
Step-ups
Strength Training To Enhance Running Performance and Prevent Running Injuries, single leg plyometric
Single Leg Plyometric

One important point in regards to strength training is the concept of “bulking up”. With regards to bulking up, it is important to understand that strength has two major components. One component involves the nervous system’s ability to recruit motor units. Your brain is a major piece of hardware. From your brain, you have nerves that act as wires that conduct electrical signals to motor units that control muscle contractions. The more you perform an exercise, the thicker the myelin sheath, or the insulation surrounding the nerves, becomes. This makes the signal from your brain to your muscles more efficient. The more efficient your brain is at activating motor units, the more force production you are going to be able to generate and thus the stronger you are going to be. Nervous system adaptations happen rather quickly and the strength gains you experience within the first eight weeks of a strength and conditioning program will be neurological. 

The second major component of strength is the cross-sectional area of your muscle. You gain cross-sectional area, or hypertrophy  when you cause micro-trauma to muscle tissue through exercise. The stressed muscle repairs itself by having the myofibrils increase in thickness and number. Cross-sectional muscular gains take at least eight weeks of training. This is part of the reason to get your running gait re-analyzed every eight to twelve weeks. This gives an adequate amount of time for neurological and muscular strength adaptations to take place. 

A final word with regards to the idea that strength will “bulk you up and slow you down”. The main components contributing to muscle bulk are nutrition and the amount of testosterone in your body. You would have to work a muscle very hard, have the right amount of testosterone, and eat a specific diet to bulk up significantly. The amount of high intensity cardio most distance runners undergo keeps muscles lean, but we are often missing the strength to take full advantage of our high intensity workouts, which leads to injury and suboptimal performance.

Consider adding regular strength sessions into your weekly routine to help enhance running performance and prevent running injuries. Your body will thank you for it, and so will your mind when you hit that next PR because you didn’t break down half way through the race! 

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance. 

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option. 

RunLab™.  Helping runners help themselves.

ABOUT LORIN WILSON
RunLab™ Clinical Gait Specialist

Lucky enough to be a part of a great running program in high school, Lorin not only went on to win the 2007 Texas 4a State Championship in the mile but also went on to earn a track scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. Lorin graduated from the The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in business. While still attending UT, he began coaching distance running at St. Stephen’s Episcopal school where he would coach student-athletes to break school records in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 3200 meter, 5000 meter, 4×400 meters, and 4×800 meters. After graduating from UT and during his aforementioned tenure at St. Stephen’s, Lorin also worked for the local Austin non-profit Power For Parkinson’s as a fitness instructor, which provides free fitness programs for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. No longer a trainer at Power For Parkinson’s, Lorin does fundraising campaigns for Power For Parkinson’s. During this period he also started BlueSky Running LLC, which provided on-site Yoga programs for employees of the Austin Independent School District (teachers, administration, bus drivers etc).

Lorin has the following physical training certifications: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM), Senior (elderly individuals) Fitness Specialist (NASM), Fitness Nutrition Specialist (NASM), RunLab Clinical Gait Specialist, USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach, and a USA Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor certification earned while studying in Rishikesh, India. Lorin is a MBA Graduate with an emphasis in Accounting from Texas State University. He was also the President of the Texas State MBA Student Association and a Future Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipient.

Lorin has a marathon best of 2:37:05 (5:59 per mile pace) run at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. He ran his first 100 miler in 17 hours 30 minutes (10:15 per mile pace) in Flagstaff, Arizona in September 2018. He ran the 2019 Boston Marathon in 2:37:59. He also has three top 10 finishes (5th, 7th, and 10th) in the Capital 10,000, the largest 10k in Texas, with the latest two being 2016 and 2017. Lorin looks forward to working towards his goal of making high-quality fitness accessible to everyone while he continues to train for 100 mile races.

LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel

How Anatomical Structure Can Affect Running Mechanics

You might be wondering how anatomical structure can affect running mechanics.  Have you ever heard “You look funny when you run, you should be facing your feet forward!”

This single statement, usually coming from a well-intentioned friend, trainer, coach, or therapist who knows just enough to be dangerous in the world of running biomechanics, accounts for weekly, if not daily, client encounters at RunLab™.

We’ve all heard at one time or another that we need to squat or walk or run with our feet facing forward, but this antiquated look at movement is leading many people down the road to injury on a more frequent basis than you may think.

Curious?

You should be. Understanding your unique structure and the way that you move in relation to it, is vital to both injury prevention and performance development.

If you take a second to really look around your local running group, you will see body shapes that come in every variety imaginable. Short, tall, thick, thin, bow-legged, knock kneed, flat-footed, high-arched, and on and on and on. It is important to make note of your own unique shape and structure because this affects the way you move in relation to the person next to you.

In the rehab and training world, you will frequently hear cues about facing feet forward when walking, squatting, or running. This is merely one example of the way we are too often looking at running with a telescope instead of a microscope.  It is true that, across a population, it is more common for people to have neutral positioning of their hip and knee, which allows the foot to face forward without undue stress on the joints above. However, there is a significant portion of the population which has variability in positioning of the hip or knee joint. The tibia (lower leg bone) often faces inward or outward in relation to the femur (thigh bone). In addition, many people may have a slightly outward or inward facing hip joint, positioning their foot slightly in or out naturally.

You can probably already see the issue here. If someone with a structural variable tries to “correct” that variable, over time it will put excess load on an area unaccustomed and poorly positioned to accept that load. This leads not only to injury, but also to inefficient movement patterns and a limitation in performance.

As mentioned above, these trainers and therapists are often well-intentioned. The thought process being that an underlying functional limiter is the cause of this “movement flaw”, as opposed to a structural variable. It is assumed that the runner has a range-of-motion or strength imbalance somewhere in the body that can be “fixed.” However, this is frequently an incorrect assumption and requires assessment by someone who knows how to tell the difference between a structural variable and a functional limiter.A great illustration of structural variability is Marathon Olympic Silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo.  Arguably once of the worst looking gaits many of us have seen. However, she is winning marathons…so what gives?

How Anatomical Structure Can Affect Running Mechanics: Example of knock knees
https://www.running-physio.com/priscah-jeptoos-knee/https://www.running-physio.com/priscah-jeptoos-knee/

Priscah has what is referred to as valgus knees.  Valgus knees are essentially “knock knees”, meaning her knee dives in towards her midline. This structural variable often leads to increased  internal femoral rotation, increased tibial rotation and finally rapid and often prolonged pronation. When comparing Priscah to many other runners, the important distinction is that many people have a gait that looks like this because of muscle weakness, which is a functional issue that can be addressed through strength and gait work. However, if you have a structural variable like Priscah, you will never strength train your way out of a valgus knee, no matter how many glute exercises you do. You unique anatomical makeup can make you more adept at performing a certain movement skill, or less adept, depending on the extent of the structural variable and the skill being undertaken. Just as in swimming, gymnastics, dancing, basketball, baseball, football or any other sport, there are dominant body types that tend to be built to succeed in any specific sport. However, there are always outliers and body shapes that don’t fit the “norm” for the sport that still achieve great success.  The key is knowing where YOUR unique strengths, weaknesses, and structural limiters are so that you can work with your body’s natural design, not against it.

In the case of Priscah, or any athlete with valgus knees, she is at a higher probability of sustaining injury in the medial (inside) portion of her knees, low back, and shins, along with a few other key areas than someone with neutral knees. To combat the higher probability of injury in these specific areas, her strength work is likely focused on doing more work on strengthening muscles that will counteract these additional forces.  This is why understanding your unique weaknesses and structural limiters is vital to formulating a customized plan to tackle your weakest areas and injury-proof your body in the best way possible.

ABOUT LORIN WILSON
RunLab™ Clinical Gait Specialist

Lucky enough to be a part of a great running program in high school, Lorin not only went on to win the 2007 Texas 4a State Championship in the mile but also went on to earn a track scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. Lorin graduated from the The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in business. While still attending UT, he began coaching distance running at St. Stephen’s Episcopal school where he would coach student-athletes to break school records in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 3200 meter, 5000 meter, 4×400 meters, and 4×800 meters. After graduating from UT and during his aforementioned tenure at St. Stephen’s, Lorin also worked for the local Austin non-profit Power For Parkinson’s as a fitness instructor, which provides free fitness programs for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. No longer a trainer at Power For Parkinson’s, Lorin does fundraising campaigns for Power For Parkinson’s. During this period he also started BlueSky Running LLC, which provided on-site Yoga programs for employees of the Austin Independent School District (teachers, administration, bus drivers etc).

Lorin has the following physical training certifications: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM), Senior (elderly individuals) Fitness Specialist (NASM), Fitness Nutrition Specialist (NASM), RunLab Clinical Gait Specialist, USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach, and a USA Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor certification earned while studying in Rishikesh, India. Lorin is a MBA Graduate with an emphasis in Accounting from Texas State University. He was also the President of the Texas State MBA Student Association and a Future Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipient.

Lorin has a marathon best of 2:37:05 (5:59 per mile pace) run at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. He ran his first 100 miler in 17 hours 30 minutes (10:15 per mile pace) in Flagstaff, Arizona in September 2018. He ran the 2019 Boston Marathon in 2:37:59. He also has three top 10 finishes (5th, 7th, and 10th) in the Capital 10,000, the largest 10k in Texas, with the latest two being 2016 and 2017. Lorin looks forward to working towards his goal of making high-quality fitness accessible to everyone while he continues to train for 100 mile races.

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance. 

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option. 

RunLab™.  Helping runners help themselves.

LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel

What The Heck Is A Gait Cycle?

Ever wondered “what the heck is a gait cycle?”

“Lengthen out your stride”, “Shorten your stride”, “Pick up your knees”, “Heel striking is bad”, “Run on your toes and fall forward”, “Your glutes aren’t firing”, “Barefoot running is the most natural type”, “Max cushion will prevent injury”….and on and on and on….

Most of us have heard throughout our lives there is a correct way to run. This “correct way” tends to change every few years along with the shoe industry, and advocates will swear by each new truth. It is not surprising that runners are so confused on what they should focus on when they are out running. 

The fact is, there is no one correct way to run. Everyone is unique in both their underlying physiological attributes, including structure, strength, and range-of-motion as well as in their goals.

The key to running with your best form is to gain as much understanding about your unique body, and about running, as possible. This basis of awareness starts with an understanding of the phases of the gait cycle. Understanding the gait cycle and basic running mechanics is the framework to beginning any running-specific training program. A foundation built of sound biomechanical patterns is imperative before adding volume and intensity to the mix. If you do not move efficiently, you greatly raise your probability of getting injured. 

So, what the heck is a gait cycle?  The term gait cycle is used to describe one revolution of the body when walking, running, or sprinting. The pieces of the gait cycle can be broken down into an infinite number of parts, with the most basic version involving four stages. 

FIRST STAGE
Initial Contact: The initial moment your foot hits the ground.
What the heck is a gait cycle? FIRST STAGE - Initial Contact

 

 

 

SECOND STAGE
Initial Loading Response/Midstance: Load acceptance phase of the gait cycle. All of your body weight is on one leg. Your body is trying to control three to ten times your body weight in force.
What the heck is a gait cycle? SECOND STAGE - Initial Loading Response/Midstance

 

 

 

THIRD STAGE
Push-off: Hip extending behind you which drives your body forward.
What the heck is a gait cycle? THIRD STAGE - Push-off

FOURTH STAGE
Swing: Should include a “flight phase.” Your leg swings through the air preparing to make contact with the ground again to complete the gait cycle. 
What the heck is a gait cycle? FOURTH STAGE - Swing

 

 

 

Understanding the gait cycle at a basic level is important for any runner. Improving efficiency will both lower the probability of injury and enhance running performance due to decreasing aberrant load on the body and decreasing the recruitment of muscles not meant to accept load or push your body off the ground. We find that many of our injured runners have ended up injured because they have tried to change something about the way they run without really knowing why they are making the change. Your gait cycle is as unique to you as your fingerprint and you should never make any type of change without fully understanding both why you are making the change and how it will affect other parts of your body. It is very easy to fall into the trap of reading something about the “right” way to run and trying to modify your movements without truly understanding how your structure, range-of-motion, strength, injury history, neuromuscular control, and goals play into ideal mechanics specific to you.

TAKE-HOME MESSAGE:

  • Your unique gait cycle is determined by a myriad of factors, including morphologic and physiologic factors. Anatomic structure, range of motion, strength, endurance, coordination, elastic energy return, symmetries between right and left, injury history, and workout history all affect the way you move.
  • Changing running form without context and a deep understanding of the biomechanical factors unique to you can result in decreased efficiency and even injury. There is no “one-size-fits-all” model when analyzing movement mechanics or determining running form ideal for an individual.
  • Do not change your running form if you do not know why you are trying to change something or how it will affect the rest of your body. Every change, no matter how minute, will affect the entire body. This can be good or bad, depending on many factors and what your specific goals and limiters are.
  • Analyzing the gait cycle is a lot like statistics. A data set is gathered, but that data set must be analyzed and interpreted relative to the specific case to determine its relevance. 
  • Your gait cycle is unique to you. If you enjoy running and would like to lower your probability of being injured, consider getting your gait cycle analyzed by professionals. You have coaches or teachers for almost every other aspect of your life. Why not running? Be wary and do your homework. If someone tells you there is a “right” way to run, doesn’t do a structural, strength, and range-of-motion assessment on your full body, or tell you a shoe can “fix” your issues then that person does not truly understand biomechanics enough to help you.
ABOUT LORIN WILSON
RunLab™ Clinical Gait Specialist

Lucky enough to be a part of a great running program in high school, Lorin not only went on to win the 2007 Texas 4a State Championship in the mile but also went on to earn a track scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. Lorin graduated from the The University of Texas at Austin with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in business. While still attending UT, he began coaching distance running at St. Stephen’s Episcopal school where he would coach student-athletes to break school records in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 1600 meter, 3200 meter, 5000 meter, 4×400 meters, and 4×800 meters. After graduating from UT and during his aforementioned tenure at St. Stephen’s, Lorin also worked for the local Austin non-profit Power For Parkinson’s as a fitness instructor, which provides free fitness programs for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. No longer a trainer at Power For Parkinson’s, Lorin does fundraising campaigns for Power For Parkinson’s. During this period he also started BlueSky Running LLC, which provided on-site Yoga programs for employees of the Austin Independent School District (teachers, administration, bus drivers etc).

Lorin has the following physical training certifications: National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist (NASM), Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM), Senior (elderly individuals) Fitness Specialist (NASM), Fitness Nutrition Specialist (NASM), RunLab Clinical Gait Specialist, USA Track & Field Level 1 Coach, and a USA Yoga Alliance 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor certification earned while studying in Rishikesh, India. Lorin is a MBA Graduate with an emphasis in Accounting from Texas State University. He was also the President of the Texas State MBA Student Association and a Future Texas Business Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipient.

Lorin has a marathon best of 2:37:05 (5:59 per mile pace) run at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. He ran his first 100 miler in 17 hours 30 minutes (10:15 per mile pace) in Flagstaff, Arizona in September 2018. He ran the 2019 Boston Marathon in 2:37:59. He also has three top 10 finishes (5th, 7th, and 10th) in the Capital 10,000, the largest 10k in Texas, with the latest two being 2016 and 2017. Lorin looks forward to working towards his goal of making high-quality fitness accessible to everyone while he continues to train for 100 mile races.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance. 

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option. 

RunLab™.  Helping runners help themselves.

LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel

Is There A Right Way To Run?

 

Is there a right way to run?THE MYTH: There is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to run.
THE REALITY: There are a LOT of right and wrong ways to run, it depends on your structure, range-of-motion, strengths, limiters, injury history, and goals.

Seem like a lot to consider?!?!

It is!  Read on…

There are more runners hitting the trails than ever and that, unfortunately, means more injuries.  Some studies estimate that upwards of 90% of runners will end up injured in any given year.  Given the fact that millions upon millions of dollars have been spent on shoe design over the last 50 years, why are injury rates still the same, or even higher, than they ever were?

The answer?

It’s not about the shoe.  Consider the following recent case study from our clinic: A new mom, we’ll call her Kristie, takes up running as a way to add exercise into her life.  She is excited about running because it’s convenient, she can run with her baby in a jogger, and it’ll help her lose that added baby weight. She even thinks she might like to train for a half marathon or a triathlon at some point so she joins a social run group geared towards moms.  She goes to her local running store, gets fit for shoes, is told she’s a “pronator” and is put in shoes meant to control that extra movement in the foot.  She starts running 3xs per week on a run/walk program and reaches 15 mile/week before she begins to have pain in her knees.  She doesn’t think she is “injured” per se, but figures she should get it checked out anyway and makes a visit to her general practitioner.  Her doctor recommends she take a break from running until the pain is gone. She is frustrated but takes two weeks off anyway.

She begins running again and within two weeks has that same pain start up.  She revisits her local store, where they recommend inserts and perhaps a different shoe.  She tries the inserts first and sees very little changes so she returns to the shoe wall two weeks later.  They help her pick something a bit more neutral, with the advice that she also use the inserts due to that pesky overpronation problem.  She is excited to get back on track and starts running again with her social group, but the following week, guess what?  Same knee issues.  One of her running friends tells her that she read people need to run with a 180 cadence and that she should be landing on her midfoot.  Kristie has no idea what that means so she does some research and starts trying to run this way.  She feels like she is running in a fairly unnatural way and also quite out of breath, but the knee feels a little better!

Progress?!  But…wait for it, the knee pain returns two weeks in and NOW she also has calf pain.  She returns to her running store, gets put in another pair of shoes and decides in frustration to just run through it if the pain returns, which it does immediately.  She keeps running until things hurt enough that she decides that maybe running isn’t for her.  She is now hundreds of dollars and several months into running and is worse off than when she started.

Is there a right way to run?
Filming & Data Capturing Session

She does a bunch more research online and finds RunLab™.  In a last ditch effort to see if we can help, she calls us.  She lives in Dallas so we send her over to one of Gait Imaging Center™ locations inside of Playtri.  She sets up her account online, pays, fills out her forms so our team understands her history and goals, and then sets up a time to get filmed on-site at the Gait Imaging Center™.  The Playtri staff takes care of her entire filming process and guides her through from start to finish. The patent-pending process includes both running and full-body movement pattern analysis through advanced video-capture technology, along with a full-body structural, range-of-motion, and strength assessment.

Is there a right way to run?
14-page Movement Analysis Profile Report

Once all of Kristie’s videos have been uploaded, our team analyzes her data and provides her a full color 14-page report which breaks down everything she needs to know about the way she moves, where her strengths and limiters are, and a Footwear Prescription™.

What does she learn about her running and knee pain?  She learns that onset of her pain stemmed from a structural finding (slight knock knees) combined with extreme hip weakness due to recently giving birth.  She was highly unstable during the loading phase of gait and it was putting undue stress on her knees.  The onset of her pain didn’t have anything to do with the shoe she was in.  In fact, the shoes meant to control motion were actually making the issue worse because they were not allowing her foot to move through the normal pronation cycle, which moved stress up into her knees.  The second and third pair of shoes were not increasing load, but they also weren’t solving the underlying issue.  With some gait re-training exercises and strength work specific to her structural and functional limiters, Kristie got back on track, has been running consistently for a full year and just completed her first half marathon with her daughter in a baby jogger.

The right shoes will aid your body’s ability to move naturally and as efficiently as it can in its current state, but no amount of shoe technology can solve for a weakness in the body. There is a lot of misinformation out there about running form.  People are constantly coming into RunLab™ to tell us about their struggles to “fix” their heel strike, to run with higher cadence, to get their “glutes to fire”, to “stop overpronating”, etc., etc.  But the problem lies in the fact that these runners have very little understanding of how THEIR body is built.  There are thousands of variables that go into a person’s ideal movement pattern.  Changing the way you move isn’t necessarily taking away the load, it just means you are moving it around to another area which can be more, or sometimes less, equipped to handle that load.  This is where a Movement Analysis & Gait Evaluation comes into play.  It is important not only to understand the way you are built, your current range-of-motion, strengths and limiters but also the way your body has adapted to move through them.  Our brains are amazing at creating workarounds for even the slightest weakness, and when we layer compensation pattern over compensation pattern (even as non-runners) for years, there is a lot that goes into unraveling the ball of biomechanical yarn strand by strand.  Creating increased range-of-motion in one area, for instance, can create stability problems, causing another area to develop compensatory hypertonicity.

So, what is the take-home message?

If you don’t understand your unique structure, range-of-motion, strength and limiters, it is very easy to get pulled down the rabbit hole by the mountain of information from articles, under qualified coaches, wearable technology, and your running friends who “read somewhere that you should run with your feet facing forward”.  Understanding your body should be the springboard to any good training plan.  And remember, shoes matter, but there isn’t a shoe in the world that can replace working on your biomechanics.

IN SUMMARY:

  • Full-body multi-plane Movement Analysis & Gait Evaluation is key to understanding your body, how it moves, and where the load is.
  • Shoes should let your body move the way it needs to, not stop natural movement.
  • Pronation is not a “bad” thing, your foot needs to pronate for your body to absorb shock actively. Your structure, range-of-motion, strengths, goals, and limiters are not the same as the next person’s.
  • The “right” or “wrong” way to run is unique to you and you alone.

ABOUT DR. DAVIS

RunLab™ Founder & CEO

Dr. Kimberly Davis is the Founder & CEO of RunLab™, a motion analysis and gait diagnostic company headquartered in Austin, Texas that provides runners anywhere in the country access to comprehensive gait evaluation services through www.RunLab.us. An Ironman triathlete and ultra-distance adventure racer herself for over 20 years, Dr. Davis has dedicated her career to the study of clinical biomechanics and helping runners get back on the trails, improve their performance and enjoy running again.  Working as part of sports medicine teams for over a decade, she grew tired of hearing her patients say they had been told not to run or that “running is bad for your knees” by their doctors without any discussion about biomechanics.  She launched RunLab™ Austin in 2014 as a running-centric healthcare facility built entirely by, and for, runners.  It has since grown to become one of the nation’s preeminent gait evaluation and training facilities in the U.S.  Working with every age and experience level runner, from Olympic gold medalists and world champions to brand new runners, kids, and runners with special needs such as down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and a wide variety of movement disorders. Recognizing a lack of consistency and quality in gait analysis across the country, Dr. Davis launched RunLab.us in 2018 as a means for runners to access her industry-leading gait team from anywhere in the United States.

Thank you for taking the time to read our RunLab™ Blog! We hope that you use this information to run more injury free and to optimize your running performance. 

For more information about the RunLab™ team and to get your running stride analyzed by one of the preeminent gait specialist teams in the country, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

Outside of the Austin area? You can still have your running stride analyzed by one of the best teams in the country. Just visit WWW.RUNLAB.US to see where our partner filming locations are based or choose the self-film option. 

RunLab™.  Helping runners help themselves.


LEARN MORE:
RunLab™ Podcast RUN.
RunLab™ YouTube channel