Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Calling All The Ladies!"

"Calling all of the ladies, women, girls. Where are you? If I started this blog by calling you to a girls night out for a happy hour, a social group run or a coffee chat amongst friends…would you come? I bet so! So I beg the question now…where are you when we want to talk and try minimalist/barefoot running and working out? We all like to get our sweat on. So why not learn about a healthier way to move? If you are skeptical, that’s totally cool, but I challenge you (like any fun runner would) to read on."Emily put together the Merrell Barefoot session in NYC a while ago. While she tried to get a decent female participation, she only got a few. The ratio was probably 7/8 to 1. It's pretty clearly still a male-dominated movement, for whatever reason.

Seems like a worthy effort to me. Please click on the link at the top of this post and see what she's got to say.

BTW, Emily does public relations for Merrell and a few other Wolverine shoe products.  I've run a couple of races with Emily and her family: they're all wearing minimalist shoes, and the first race I ran with her, she finished fourth among the ladies.

She's the real deal, not just a PR "flack".  As are all the folks at Merrell, in my experience.

"Why Running Shoes Do More Harm than Good"

From the Discovery Channel:

"...They’ve put together a collection of stats, tips and barefoot facts that may convince you to shun running shod and go barefoot, saving you from wrenching a knee or blowing out an Achilles in your rubber-soled trainers...."

Eek, it's becoming the conventional wisdom...

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Hadd’s Approach to Distance Training"

Fascinating (PDF):

"...Note that there can be two things “wrong” with your PR’s. One, as shown, there can be no evidence of a relationship (usually meaning your aerobic ability is wayyyyy poor). Or there can be a relationship, but it is too loose (instead of slowing up/adding 16 secs/mile to run double the distance, you slow up/add 20-24 secs/mile). In this second instance, your aerobic ability is less poor, but still needs work.

"To sum up; if you are well trained aerobically, you do not fall apart (as in the earlier examples) when the race gets longer. And here some of you may like to do a quick check and see how your own performances compare…"
Great.  I fall right in between "wayyyyy poor" and "less poor".  Yes, I just put a spread sheet together and compared my race paces.  How depressing.  Maybe I'll share it at some point.

Thanks, Luis, for ruining my evening. :)

Eat Like A Swede

Perfect follow-up to the previous post: Swedes soon the slimmest people in the Western world?

We win!  Wait a minute...
As Dr. Eenfeldt notes, Sweden is in the middle of a Low-Carb, High Fat diet revolution.  Complete with butter shortages, sadly:

"Also, she added, many diets such as LCHF (low-carb high-fat) are also advocating the use of real butter instead of margarine and other light products, at the same time as there are fewer dairy farmers producing these products in Sweden."

(You'll note the thinnest country in that list also has the second-highest dairy consumption. France is the highest.)

One can just look at the US results to see how well the high-carb, low-fat protocol has been working in the United States.

A Couple Of Recent Runs

[Just came across this post from 11/9/2009]

I've had a few interesting run recently.  I thought I'd share some details of them and what I'd learned hoping it might be of some use to others.

10/24: Nike+ Human Race 10K.  Ran in KSOs with no socks.  Had a problem w/ nausea before, during, and after the race.  I'm pretty sure that this was due to really wanting to put in a good time.  My friends said afterward that I was "Running to win" (finished six minutes ahead of them).  Ran at a 7:41 pace [actual result was 7:40], which is much better than my previous best effort at this distance.  Tapered for a few days beforehand, and pushed it during the race.  Calves hurt after the race (good hurt), had a few minor abrasions from the KSOs, but nothing else.  Followed the "relax, relax" mantra during the race, which meant that the sticks and nuts that were on the course just really weren't an issue for my feet.  Stopped worrying about them after a little while and just let my feet deal with them.  Have to take a few days off after the race to let my calves recover.  Feet felt great.  Do a few three and five milers during the week.

11/1: Run with "The Runner". 8.6 miles, 4.6 road, 4 trail.  We all must have a friend like this (if you aren't yourself one of these people).  He's a real runner.  Puts in creditable performances in all his races, has been running for years, and almost never suffers running injuries.  In this case, he also read Born to Run this summer, and ditched his big sneakers for some racing flats.  Not worried about his form, because obviously what he's doing is working for him, except for his bunions.  He's not been interested in barefoot/Vibrams since he's sure he never heel strikes.

So we run, in the rain.  I'm wearing my Treks with injinji crew socks.  He's got the racing flats on.  I listen to his running, "thwap, thwap, thwap".  "Hey, you know you're heel-striking?" Thwapping stops, he's corrected his form. "I am not."  We have an discussion about how to tell if he's heel striking, to listen to the feet.  About half way up the big hill that makes up the meat of this run my calves start to ache. 

Thinking back on the many posts on this group, I think I've got a choice.  Take it easy, or push through and risk injury.  Well, I'm running with The Runner, for the first time since I started running in Vibrams.  There's no way I'm bailing... the only thing bothering me is the calves: Push on.  On the downhill stretch, I pass him in his racing flats and bomb down the slope.  Thank you, Vibram!  As we approach the end of the race, The Runner comments on how much quicker I'm running now.  Finish the run in pretty strong form.  This is my longest run in Vibrams.

Calves are hurting mightily that afternoon.  I go home and crash on the couch for a few hours and watch some TV.  I'm a little worried. Next morning, go for a slow three miler and then for a four-mile hike with the kids.  Calves aren't doing that badly, actually, they're improving with the exercise, but the right Achilles has taken to aching and throbbing.  Take a couple days off, then do a few more three milers.  Setting me up for the next run:

11/8: Trail run w/ 3 new runners I don't know.  Wearing the Treks with Injini mini socks. I invite The Runner along, since it always helps to have the fastest runner be one of your friends. :)  Achilles is still aching a bit, so I'm a little nervous about this. We all show up and chat for a few minutes.  One of the other guys says, "Look at his feet!"  They all ask about the Vibrams, they think I'm nuts.

The area we're running in is rocky in the way that only Connecticut is rocky.  If you think you live somewhere that's rocky, imagine this: take a mountain range higher than the Himalayas.  Crush it down to rubble over several Ice Ages, and then spread that rubble around with a thin topping of dirt and newly-fallen leaves.  Welcome to CT.  They can't believe that the Treks are going to be OK in the rubble...

Fortunately I've done most of my Vibram hiking and trail running in this area and in Baxter State Park in Maine, which may be the only spot on Earth that's rockier than CT, so I'm pretty confident.  Off we go!  Legs, feet, most importantly, that sore Achilles are all feeling just dandy, and more importantly, I'm having no trouble keeping up.

We continue for maybe 3 miles.  The only spots that are giving me trouble are the downhills, since the rocks are all covered with leaves, I'm taking it easy. But I'm catching back up on the flat bits (that wonderful feeling that you're being rushed along). We all stop, and the three guys I don't know look at me and comment that my feet must be killing me. Thanks to the relax, relax (and a little bit of EVA midsole), I can honestly say that they feel great. My feet seem to be finding their way to the ground through the leaves. They all shake their heads. At this point I take off the Injinjis, as they're binding between my toes.

Unfortunately shortly after this, the unthinkable happens: running down a fast, clean slope, at full speed, I stub my right pinky toe.

It nearly takes me off my feet, but I manage to get my feet back under me and recover. I'm convinced that if I'd been wearing sneakers I would have gone down hard here; my body was on auto-pilot and recovered. It felt like my feet flew back up to catch my falling body, sort of like Hermes, the Greek god with wings on his feet. The fellow behind me complimented my on the recovery, and asked if I'd sprained my ankle (he was running with an ankle-brace). I don't miss a step, but clearly the toe is a problem. So I keep going. After about another mile and a half, we stop to wait for the guy in the ankle brace, and the toe siezes up. I'm running, but limping, all the way back to the parking lot, about half a mile.  Afterward, the toe swells up (it looks like a grape the morning after) but all the rest of the aches and pains are gone. Calves, perfect; Achilles, perfect; feet, perfect. 6.2 miles, my longest trail run to date, over rocky, nasty terrain, and aside from a stubbed toe, I feel better at the end of the run than I did at the beginning.

The couple of days off was key, I think, between the days where I was pushing it. And your body does love the beating, so I guess that's in favor of "active recovery" days too, as I was feeling better at the end of the last run than I was before the first in the series.

But what's great, is that each run is more fun than the one before it. How long can this keep up?

BTW, the stubbed toe is the first injury I've had from minimalist running. I have been taking it easy, and not pushing runs, and I think it's been paying off.
[A few thoughts: I can't remember the last time my calves hurt.

Kicking rocks, or any other immovable object with your toes is a bad idea, and hurts. That said, it's one of the least significant injuries, I've now done it a number of times and never failed to finish the run. If you do it, as I learned above, don't stop running

I've not done another road 10k race since the Nike race.  It's a great distance, I really need to do another...

Oh yeah, the runs are still great. The newbie glow has worn off, though.]

P.S. That was more than a stubbed toe. It was quite broken. I wound up having to wear some New Balance MT100s in order to run on it: the rock plate in the shoe helped to stabilize the toe when running. Pretty amazing that you can break a toe and keep running, but I guess from an evolutionary perspective it's a good feature.

Butter and Your Brain

This is your brain; this is your brain on butter:
Pretty fascinating stuff. I wonder if the difference between butter and pork fat is the linoleic acid content? I also wonder if cream, of which I eat a lot, and from which butter is made, has the same effect?

I've certainly noticed better mental acuity since going paleo, but I haven't tracked the variables the way that Seth has.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Overview Of The Science Of Barefoot Running

From The Science of Sport blog:

"...The evidence so far suggests that barefoot running produces some potentially beneficial changes, mostly related to how running form and kinetics are altered without shoes. However, it also points to a potentially large group of people who, when running barefoot, may have increased risk of injury, especially early on - these are the people who continue to heel-strike when barefoot, and who may 'force' a forefoot landing, leading to huge strain on the calf muscle and Achilles tendons....

"In terms of advocacy, I believe that barefoot running will help most runners. It may be as part of a training programme where barefoot running helps with adaptation because it loads the joints differently, activates muscles in different patterns and therefore provides a good training impulse. For some, barefoot running (or minimalist shoes) will go on to become the 'only way'. For others, it will remain a training technique, and that's fine too. But I'd certainly look at incorporating it, just for the training adaptations it provides...."

I don't agree with his assessment of injury as stated in this post. I think the evidence is quite clear for certain types of injuries that they are caused by the changes in form one sees when wearing sneakers.  And you only need one clear injury linkage to decide that sneakers are worse than barefoot.

The Science of Sport guys continue to get the logic backwards.  Barefoot is the null hypothesis, as Lieberman regularly points out.  It's the default.  You need to prove that the shod condition is an improvement over that.  And, cold weather aside, it's quite easy to show that it's not an improvement.

Of course there does need to be a careful conversion away from sneakers, just like you need a period of rehabilitation after a long period in a cast, as they correctly note.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Follow-up to "Linoleic Acid and Blindness"

Finally rediscovered the study that led to this post in the first place:
"Seddon et al.'s single prospective cohort study found that fish intake did not affect the progression to advanced [Age-Related Macular Degeneration] overall, or in a high [Linoleic Acid] consumption group, but did protect against the progression to advanced ARMD in the low (below median consumption) LA consumption group.20 This parallels what was observed exclusively via a significant test for trend in the Seddon et al. study described earlier with reference to its investigation of the influence of the intake of omega-3 fatty acids on preventing the onset of advanced ARMD.15 However, the results from neither study can be used as yet to provide a conclusive answer to their respective research questions. Both require replication and a plausible explanation."

 Sounds like they've now got replication and a plausible explanation (see the original post).  Prevent blindness: skip the seed oils.

Linoleic Acid, Fat Rats in Labs, and Fat Humans

Stephen Guyenet recently posted:
"...High fat diets, particularly in combination with refined starches and sugars, were among the most effective. The composition of these diets has been refined since then, and modern "purified" high-fat diets reliably induce obesity in susceptible strains of rodents. The most commonly used diet is Research Diets D12492, which is 60% fat by calories, and composed mostly of lard, soybean oil, casein, maltodextrin, sucrose and cellulose (7). It tastes kind of like raw cookie dough, and the rats are crazy about it."
Turns out a whole big chunk of science has been drawing faulty conclusions:
"...I got an email today from Dr. Matthew Ricci, the Vice-President and Research Director of Research Diets, the company that produces the infamous 60% fat, lard-based rodent diet D12492. I've written about this diet before. The company had previously been using the USDA database to determine the diet's fatty acid profile, but recently had it directly analyzed, knowing that the fatty acid profile of lard can vary according to what the pigs are fed.

"It turns out that the diet obtains 32% of its fat from PUFA instead of the previously reported 17%. The ratio of omega-6 linoleic acid to omega-3 linolenic acid had been previously reported as 7.8 but is actually 14...."
Whoops.  Chris Masterjohn compliments Research Diets on their transparency, which compliment they are due. However, Research Diets made a big mistake.  To paraphrase a line from Animal House, "They f---ed up, they trusted the Federal Government."  Obviously the USDA is not a reliable source of nutritional information.

The following is from one of several emails I sent to Stephan Guyenet in April 2010, shortly after I fixed my diet (and contributed $100 to support his blogging efforts):
"One more update.  I've been going through your site and it occurred to me that some of the other effects I've seen might be of interest.

"We have a candy bowl in the office.  Once of the first things I noticed after dropping n-6 from my diet was that I was no longer craving starch and sugar.  I haven't hit the candy bowl in 3+ weeks.  Didn't feel a need to.  My wife also noticed after not eating n-6 that she was no longer craving starch (and this has been a big problem for her).

"I didn't start craving fat for 3-4 days after making the change, and had almost no starch or sugar in the interim...

"I know you stress cutting starch[*] more than n-6 in your thinking.  I didn't want to change too many variables at once in my experiment, but since I don't eat processed starch or sugar, I figured removing the n-6 was the more significant change to make.

"It makes me wonder if there might be a mechanism linking the two..."
This sounds a lot like what happens to the rats.  I think Stephan may want to reconsider this post:
"As my knowledge of obesity and metabolism has expanded, I feel the evidence behind the hypothesis that seed oils (corn, soybean, etc.) promote obesity due to their linoleic acid (omega-6 fat) content has largely collapsed. "
I was very surprised when he posted it, as his previous position coincided perfectly with my experience as stated above.  It also turns out that the research he now quotes in support of the problematic food reward hypothesis also supports the position he's abandoned, given this updated information on the composition of the diets he cites.

Stephan may have reconsidered his position on seed oils, but I haven't.  I still avoid them like the plague, as they had a clear effect on me once I stopped eating them.

If you want to "reliably" induce obesity in humans or rats, feed them high amounts of linoleic acid**.

* Stephan corrected me about his thinking on starch he's basically OK with it.  And I think he's likely correct, so long as you're not eating large amounts of linoleic acid.

** Your results may vary. :)

P.S.  Chris Masterjohn posted a follow-up at the Weston A. Price Foundation website: Good Lard, Bad Lard.

One other thought: my sure-fire test to find out what chips are fried in is to start eating them.  With chips fried in olive oil or animal fat, I eat a few, and then move on.  With chips that are fried in seed oils, you eat the quantity presented to you, and then you want more.  This has been reliable enough that I've been able to detect when the staff at a restaurant gives me bad information about the constitution of the chips that are served.

P.P.S. "Dietary Linoleic Acid Elevates Endogenous 2-AG and Anandamide and Induces Obesity"

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Foot Strike Patterns of Recreational and Sub-Elite Runners in a Long-Distance Road Race"

Runblogger on his day job:
"Although the biomechanical properties of the various types of running foot strike (rearfoot, midfoot, and forefoot) have been studied extensively in the laboratory, only a few studies have attempted to quantify the frequency of running foot strike variants among runners in competitive road races. We classified the left and right foot strike patterns of 936 distance runners, most of whom would be considered of recreational or sub-elite ability, at the 10 km point of a half-marathon/marathon road race. We classified 88.9% of runners at the 10 km point as rearfoot strikers, 3.4% as midfoot strikers, 1.8% as forefoot strikers, and 5.9% of runners exhibited discrete foot strike asymmetry. Rearfoot striking was more common among our sample of mostly recreational distance runners than has been previously reported for samples of faster runners. We also compared foot strike patterns of 286 individual marathon runners between the 10 km and 32 km race locations and observed increased frequency of rearfoot striking at 32 km. A large percentage of runners switched from midfoot and forefoot foot strikes at 10 km to rearfoot strikes at 32 km. The frequency of discrete foot strike asymmetry declined from the 10 km to the 32 km location. Among marathon runners, we found no significant relationship between foot strike patterns and race times."
We've got a long way to go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Barefoot in NYC

Pete Larson took this video at the 2011 NYC Barefoot Run on Governor's Island in New York.  I'm the runner on the far side of the group (the one with a head).

So if you've ever wondered what I look like running, this is it.  This was right after the start of my longest barefoot run to that date: 8 miles, or 4 laps of the island.  (I didn't measure it, but was told it was a 2-mile lap.)  Feet felt great afterward, although I was ready to stop when I did. Always stop before you have to. :)

Unfortunately it was a bit overcast that day, and Pete was hiding in a bush so as not to make the barefoot runners get "prancy". So it's a little dark.

P.S. I don't know why I hold my thumb up that way, but it's the only way I was able to 100% identify myself in this video. :) Hey, Haile Gebreselassie runs like he's holding a school book, so I'm allowed this quirk.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mark Allen on Proper Running Form

Thanks to Luis:
"Talking about instructors, two weekends ago I attended a camp that Mark Allen gave down here. His lesson on proper running technique was simple: 1- take your shoes off and run around the oval, 2- note how it feels, 3- replicate it with shoes on, 4- do this every week. Here is a picture of him explaining this (I am the one with the red hat):

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dr. Phil Maffetone's "Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing" Review

Thanks to some of the participants on Barefoot Ted's Google group, I recently became aware of the work of Dr. Phil Maffetone.  We spend a good bit of discussing a various topics on that group, but a most of it concerns barefoot and barefoot-style running, and peripheral topics to running.  Diet comes up very often, because runners are either concerned with increasing performance or losing weight. A good diet is obviously important on either front.

Given my personal history, diet is of particular concern, and over the last 2+ years, researching diet and barefoot-style running have become my intellectual hobby.  So I've spent quite a bit of time learning about the science behind barefoot-style running and the paleo diet, since, respectively, reading Born to Run and discovering that I'm acutely wheat-intolerant.
So with that background, and my skeptical nature, I'm pretty impressed with Dr. Phil's book.  (As he's known in his online posts.)

The cons of this book are: Dr. Phil's credentials.  He's not a medical doctor, and he comes from an "alternative" medicine background [update: see the P.P.S. below].  That said, based on the reading I've done, he's pretty spot on for almost all of his suggestions.  And for whatever strange reason, most of the "alternative" doctors seem to be more open to diet as a cause for common medical maladies.  Examining the reasons behind that fact are fodder for another long post, but I will say that if the suggestions seem scientifically sound, you shouldn't discard them just because they come from a chiropractor.  That said, I'd recommend this book to anyone, with the following caveat (and the second con):

It's not well-sourced.  One of the compelling aspects of the Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet is that there book is well-footnoted with online resources that you can look up to learn more about why they make a specific recommendation.  Dr. Phil's book is not well footnoted.  You've got to take him on faith if you're not familiar with the research behind it.  The fact that the foreword is written by Mark Allen, the famed triathlete, and the afterword is written by Dr. Timothy Noakes, the famed exercise physiologist, should give you skeptical types some comfort.  For myself, I've already done enough reading to realize that Dr. Phil's work is well-founded, and don't have to rely solely on the testimonials.  But it would be good if he presented better evidence, as some of his ideas are pretty out there; while being correct, in my view.

The pros of the book are pretty simple.  You can save yourself my two years of diligent reading to achieve a much healthier approach to fitness and health just by following the recommendations of this book. 

I've been following most of the recommendations on diet and barefoot-style running for long enough (and before reading the book) that I'm a big fan.  The one part the book added for me was a detailed explanation of Dr. Phil's 180-formula for training intensity.  I'm now using this as my guide, and have definitely noticed benefits so far.  It's not magic, but it's definitely improved my training in the few months I've been using it.  I hope to continue through the winter, and start seeing the benefits of this approach come spring.

In a nutshell, Dr. Phil argues that you should train for most of your miles by keeping your heart rate low enough that you're primarily burning fat, and not carbohydrates, as fuel.  Dr. Noakes observes that following this approach helped Mark Allen to become one of the most fit and successful athletes in the world.  It's a pretty well-tested, if counter-intuitive, approach.  The formula is simply 180 - your age = the heart rate at which you should do most of your training.  (There are some complications based on fitness and injury status, but that's the basics.)  In my opinion, this is a training program for broken humans, who've been following the bad diet advice of the modern era, and not getting the sort of vigorous exercise that our bodies evolved to expect.

So I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get a better and comprehensive view of how to be fitter and healthier.  Or if you don't feel like poking around on this or any other blog that covers healthy diets and barefoot-style running, you can just buy Dr. Phil's book and be done with it.  I've already loaned my copy out to a good friend, along with Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint and the afore-mentioned The Perfect Health Diet.  (Happily I also got the Kindle version.)

Here are a bunch of segments that I highlighted in my Kindle and manually typed in here, since the Kindle doesn't allow copying [update: see the P.S.].  Sigh.
"Aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil), naproxen (such as Aleve), and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDSs) are commonly used for pain relief. If taking NSAIDs lessens your pain, it probably indicates your fats are not balanced."
Makes a lot of sense to me.  Excess omega-6 intake and insufficient omega-3 are pretty obivously indicated in a lot of maladies, most especially joint pain and weak cartilage.
"The most popular shoe in this category is the basketball sneaker.  Plain high-top sneakers were popular for many years, but today they have become fancy over-supported, overpriced high-top shoes. Supposedly, the added ankle support, the key feature of this shoe, protects against ankle sprain and other injuries. But studies don't verify this. Actually, these shoes can do just the opposite, as basketball players may have the highest rates of ankle sprains of any sport. When the ankle, or any area of the body, is supported, we run the risk of weakening that area. This is the result of muscles that sense the support and no longer have to work as much; the result is loss of some of their strength."
Again, makes perfect sense to me.  I think basketball players, and most other athletes, have been sold a bill of goods by the sneaker companies.  There's no evidence for any of the sneaker-company claims, except lots of injuries.
"Perhaps the first published scientific evidence describing the harm from shoes came in 1954 when researchers Basmajian and Bentzon measured the electrical activity in foot muscles using an electromyographic (EMG) device. This study showed that when shoes were placed on the feet, certain muscles lost significant function."
Well, Dr. Munson predates this by quite a stretch, as The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe was published in 1912, and tested on millions of feet by 1954.
"This is because shock absorption in the feet occurs at the same level of intensity whether we wear shoes or not."
It's even worse than that: shock absorption is worse when wearing shoes, not better, or even equal.
"For acute foot problems - recent injuries such as a fall, twisted ankle, or stubbed toe - the traditional RICE remedy of rest, ice (or cold), compression, and elevation can be very effective."
I'm not a big fan of RICE.  It's been tested, and found to be ineffective.  But if it makes you happy, or keeps your mind off your pain, go for it.  I never take pain killers or use RICE for my frequent falls and stubbed toes.  And I don't miss it.  (Twisted ankles are a thing of the past since going barefoot-style.)
"Other important factors included balancing fats, eating ten servings of vegetables and fruits each day, and controlling stress."
OK, sorry.  Ten servings of fruit and vegetables a day?  I think this is ridiculous.  I generally eat three meals a day, and may have a snack.  I think that if you eat more frequently you're probably doing something wrong.  This is one area where Dr. Phil is conveying ill-considered conventional wisdom.
He also has a chapter on oral pH, which is interesting, but about which I know very little...  But given the solid character of the rest of the book, something I will take into consideration.

So I have a couple of quibbles with Dr. Phil.  Big deal. I highly recommend this book.

P.S. Sean points out that one can access highlights via the Kindle web site.  I was using the Kindle for PC software to try to copy the text.  Live and learn.  This will make my next review a lot easier, as I love using the Kindle highlight functionality.

P.P.S. Luis notes this page where Dr. Phil describes himself thusly:
"While Tim’s essay seemed to focus on so-called alternative medicine, my practice style was not alternative. Instead, it was a physiologically based approach of evaluating and treating an athlete in an individual way rather than a cookbook style that is still common today. Properly stated, I practiced complementary sports medicine. Alternative medicine is an alternative to this approach, and especially one departing from more traditional or conventional medicine. (Many in the alternative medicine community say that I’m too scientific.)"
I like this description, and think it's 100% accurate.  Lots of reasonable practices are decribed as "alternative", complementary is a much better term for what Dr. Phil does.

P.P.P.S.  Sean has some additional thoughts.

P.P.P.P.S. Here's an update. Pretty remarkable improvements, IMHO. In addition, I did a regular warmup at the gym. I found a speed on the treadmill that would reliably keep my HR under the MAF rate (137 at the time), and then did my warmup run at that speed. I initially had trouble keeping it below 137. Now, I don't even get close to 137, and have finished my warmup run with HRs as low as 121. Pretty incredible. The treadmill warmup is a part of my gym routine that I've been doing for about 4 years prior, but I would also try to run fast. So this recent improvement in HR is not simply because I've started doing a warmup run, my routine was pretty consistent for years prior to starting Maffetone.

Blogger Wonderfulness

I can't comment on my own posts from Blogger while on my home computer. I get this idiocy:
"Your current account ( does not have access to view this page. Click here to logout and change accounts."
Needless to say, following the instructions doesn't get me anywhere, and of course there's no real "help". I've been having login problems from this computer on Blogger for months. All of my software is up to date.

You do get what you pay for. Google is pretty lame when in comes to software, in my experience.

So if you've posted a comment, and I've not responded, it's because Google won't let me. Sorry...

P.S.  Of course Blogger's post editor ate all of my paragraph breaks.  The post editor truly stinks.

P.P.S. Jan. 12, 2012: It works now.  No idea when it started working.  The post editor still truly stinks.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Runner's Knee

As I detailed in this post, I had a bout with Runner's Knee (patellofemoral syndrome, to address it formally) a couple of years ago.  I attributed it in part to the shoes I was wearing at the time.  What I've since come to realize is that those overly-cushioned shoes merely exaggerated poor form.

Well, RK is back.  This time, however, I've been doing most of my miles in minimalist shoes like the Vibram FiveFingers Speeds, or barefoot.  I've had many successful miles in the Speeds, in the VivoBarefoot Ultra, and barefoot this summer.  I've increased my mileage, as I did the last time RK appeared, and this time I think it's safe to say that while the shoes, even minimalist shoes, accentuate the conditions that lead to RK, they're not the cause.  RK re-appeared on a 10k run in the Speeds, by the way.

When RK first appeared switching to Vibrams from the NB MT100s was enough to make it go away.  That's clearly not going to work this time.  So what could it be?

It's got to be form.  Today I went for a 10 mile Maffetone run, 5 on road, and 5 on trail.  I wore the Speeds, as it was in the low 30s F at the beginning of the run.  RK appeared almost immediately on the road stretch, but went away when I got on the rougher trail sections, only to reappear on the flat parts of the trail.

As I've posted before, I've been working on form issues on my weaker right leg.  While that leg is not 100%, it's much improved, and running on the trails I ran today is where those issues first appeared.  The right leg was good to go today.  One of the key suggestions Lee Saxby gave me was to press down on the big toe while running.  This resolved the metatarsal-cuboid joint pain I was having almost immediately.

So once I got back to the road section (after stubbing my second toe on my right foot nicely on the trail: blood from the nail, but no break: thank Heavens for shoes sometimes...), I took off my shoes for the 2.7 mile run home.  RK continued to bother me, even barefoot.  So finally what I decided to do, as an experiment, was to exaggerate the toe-press.  Basically, I was running on my big toes.  This forced my left foot inward.  My right big toe and foot have straightened much more than my left, and I have much more trouble flexing the left big toe down, so this seemed like a pretty good approach to take.  My hypothesis is that the feet should be doing pretty much the same thing, so if one leg hurts and is working differently from the other, try to make it the same.

Running on the big toes was kind of an odd feeling, and a bit of a strain on the calves, including a nasty pull in my left calf I suffered a few weeks ago while mountain biking.  I probably ran about 1.2 miles on my big toes, until I got home.

RK is completely gone in the left knee.  It feels great.

Your mileage may vary. :)

P.S.  I forgot to mention one of the key hints: I've been getting pain in the tendon under the second toe on the left foot during runs.  Lee had said that people often put too much pressure down on the second toe, which is why pressing down on the big toe makes a difference.  You're shifting the pressure to where it ought to be.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Altra Adam Review


I don't mind the toes.  In fact, the forthcoming Altra Sampson (the Adam with laces) sounds like my favorite shoe, the Vibram Fivefinger Speed, without toes.

I like the toes...

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Barefoot At The New York Marathon

Good luck, guys.

"...That’s right. Wood, a 35-year-old programmer, is running the entire 26.2 miles completely barefoot.

“I’ve been running through a lot of back streets where sometimes it’s all rubble and glass,” says Wood, whose long training runs take him through Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge and up the West Side of Manhattan. 
"Wood isn’t participating in some sort of monastic self-flagellation.
"Rather, he’s part of a growing number of New Yorkers who’ve said bon voyage to their sneakers and embraced the idea that running barefoot promotes proper form, thereby preventing most injuries that plague long-distance runners.

"“I think a lot of people are under the impression that someone has stolen my shoes, and I’m running after them,” quips the second-time marathoner who ditched his running shoes about a year ago because his knees began to bother him.

"He began his barefoot odyssey with funky “five-finger” wetsuit shoes that are made by Vibram, then went the full monty.

"After a recent 19-mile barefoot run through the city, Wood didn’t need to ice his body or stretch out thoroughly. “The knees feel great. I feel a complete difference,” he swears...."

Good luck to all the folks running the marathon shod, also.

Back from a long hiatus, this story features the popular Obligatory Ding-Bat Podiatrist quote!
"...Though running barefoot is increasingly popular in the running community, there are experts who say sole-to-pavement jogging is playing with fire.
"“Some people say the caveman is a perfect example of how walking barefoot is safe and not harmful to the body,” says Dr. Rock Positano, director of non-surgical foot and ankle service at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
"“What they don’t mention is that the average caveman didn’t live past age 20. It’s not a very good comparison.”
"Running a marathon barefoot is a “nightmare in the making,” he says. “The feet will be screaming for mercy — [as will] the shins, knees, hips and back.”..."
Thanks Doc!  Another podiatrist ignorantly spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  Gotta love that.  Read the literature, Doc. We do.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Omega-3 Fats and Dental Health


"...To be fair, professional researchers are starting to figure this out. A 2010 study of 9000 people found that “participants in the middle and upper third for omega-3 fatty acid consumption were between 23 percent and 30 percent less likely to have gum disease than those who consumed the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids.” With the right dose, I believe gum disease becomes 100% less likely...."

My gums used to bleed at every brushing, like clockwork.  Since fixing my diet, gum bleeding has become a rare event.  I never take flax seed oil, but do eat pastured meat, salmon, and macadamia nuts, all of which are good sources of omega-3 fats.  I also avoid seed oils diligently.

The only time I've noticed the same sort of bleeding I used to get is after eating wheat, however.  I wonder if the lectins in wheat affect the gums, as they do mucus membranes...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fila Skeletoes Amp and Skeletoes Voltage First Impressions


"What do you think? Am I being too harsh?"

Not harsh enough.  It's the Vibram/Nike Free.  What a horror.