Monday, January 4, 2010

Top Ten Things I Found this Week

I am getting tired on saving websites to my favorites list and letting them accumulate, so I am posting some of the better and more recent things I am reading and wanting to keep track of here. You may find some of it or none of it interesting, but it keeps me amused and thinking. Plus after the snowshoe race on Sunday, my achilles is really barking at me so I have a bit more time to sit and read.

1) A friendly weekly check in for the 50+ runners in Weekly 50+ Training Thread.

2) Interview with running great Kenenisa Bekele

If I am going to run the marathon then I can’t go back to the 5000m and 10,000m. It will be difficult, so I don’t want to change yet. I want to enjoy the middle distances. Maybe in two or three years we will see what is going on. I am dreaming a little bit about the marathon.” Herald Scotland

3) An Excellent FloTrack video with Michigan Coach Ron Warhurst (coach of Kevin Sullivan, Nick Willis, and Nate Brannen) on "Tools that the Greats Have" including running mechanics, consistency, and training smart. "The only thing I really deal with is their arm carriage. Arm stroke dictates what your feet do and your stride length."

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

4) Todd Hargrove on coordination and efficiency from his Better Movement blog.
"Even in a sport such as running, which does not involve much technical skill, efficient movement is easy to observe. Professional marathon runners have an unbelievably smooth stride. They are so incredibly fluid that they look like perpetual motion machines, or a ball rolling downhill. They need add only the slightest bit of energy to each stride to keep the ball rolling. By contrast, the average runner doesn’t look very much like a rolling ball – more like a rolling triangle. Their gait looks painful. And it probably is painful." 
"So how do we train to be more efficient? Movement systems such as the Feldenkrais Method and Z-Health are devoted primarily to creating more efficient movement."

5) Shoveling snow and balancing the body and keeping it symmetrical. After shoveling snow on Saturday I was wondering what the Postural Restoration people would recommend. I found it.

Shoveling snow: This is repetitive activity that results in a lot of low back pain injuries. Remember our tendency is to have our weight on our right leg while shoveling the snow, rotating our trunk to the left. Like any repetivite activity, you need to balance your body or keep it symmetrical to prevent injury. Do one row of snow on your right leg and rotating to the left, however the next row should be done opposite. Standing with your weight on your left leg with your right leg ahead of it, shift your weight back onto your left heel, and rotate your trunk to the right. If you wanted to integrate this further, inhale thru your nose as you shift your weight back onto your left heel and then exhale thru your mouth as you shovel the snow and throw it to the right. This will be more ackward and slower than being on your right leg and rotating your body to the left, however a happier back can be the result. 6) The Athletes Prayer for Loose Calves. This video shows a better way to free calves. At first glance, it looks the same as the usual way of stretching calves. It's 100% different, as the video shows. Hint: Your toes play an important part in the stretch.
 Laawrence Gold at
7) A Men's Jounal article on Resistance Stretching. A Better Way to Stretch.
8) Warming up with joint mobility exercises. The Essential Eight - Eight Mobility Drills Everyone Should Do. Micheal Boyles

9) An interesting article on vision and sports performance: Where You Look Can Affect How You Look: Running Mechanics and Gaze Control. Don't just focus on the finish line, as you get closer, look beyond the finish line.
For runners who are performing over longer distances, I always emphasize the importance of training their gaze to track well ahead of their current position. In open areas, I would have them focus on the horizon. However, in more confined areas (i.e. track stadium, wooded trail), I would have them look as far as they could focusing on a point that sits roughly at the height of their head. Focusing your gaze on points that are in close proximity to your current position will result in greater stress and mental fatigue. Your running mechanics will also subtly suffer and you will find that you are less smooth with your running. When an athlete focuses on points in close proximity, their eye movements will tend to move quickly from one fixated location to another in numerous saccades. Vickers describes saccades as rapid eye movements that bring the point of maximal visual acuity onto the fovea so that it can be seen with clarity. When focusing or “fixating” on a point much further away, you will find that you will run more easily and freely, and feel as though you are being pulled toward that point. It is similar to the concept of not focusing too much on the finish line in a race. From a significant distance (i.e. greater than 50-100 meters), looking at the finish line may work. However, as you get closer to the finish line, it is better to focus beyond the finish line to elicit the best performance. Fixating your vision at the finish line may terminate your velocity prematurely.

10) Activating the Psoas Muscle. My physical therapist says that I am using my left TFL and not my Psoas muscle. Here is an article on a simple way to activate the psoas muscle. Mike Robertson's blog

1 comment:

Jim Hansen said...

Hi Diane, I hit "reject" by mistake and your comment can't be posted, but here is your post copied from the email.

"Diane has left a new comment on your post "Top Ten Things I Found this Week":

Jim, I have read a fair bit on your blog and was struck by your post about the physical therapist who seems to be finally helping you straighten out your body. Can you tell me what the method being used is called so that I can search for a therapist who uses the same?


Diane "

Hi Diane,
It is called Postural Restoration and I absolutely love it. Here is the web page and they have a "find a clinician" button, but my PT wasn't listed so you may want to e-mail them. I hope to post some more this weekend on my experiences, but I am thilled with the new and different exercises in the program as well as traditional strength and balance exercises that she gives me to go along with it. Here is the webpage:
Good luck,