BORN TO RUN?

At a recent sports science conference in London, hundreds of participants, many of them shod but a few daringly barefooted, flocked to a two-hour long discussion about the merits or otherwise of running without shoes.

The current barefoot trend has its roots in the book “Born to Run,” by Christopher McDougall. In it, he tells of time spent with Mexico’s Tarahumara tribe who can run huge distances barefoot, often very fast, apparently without suffering the injuries that plague many keen runners in the developed world.

The debate centers on whether running in shoes with cushioned heels and supportive structures changes the way people move so dramatically that it’s more likely to cause injuries.

Proponents of barefoot running say the natural way is more likely to prompt a runner to land on the padded and springy part of the foot, toward the front, rather than strike the ground with the heel as many shod runners do.

In a study published in the scientific journal Nature last year, Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biology professor at Harvard University, sought to find out how our ancestors, who ran and hunted for millions of years in bare feet or simple moccasins, coped with the impact of the foot hitting the ground.

Lieberman and colleagues from Britain and Kenya studied runners who had always run barefoot, those who had always worn shoes and runners who had abandoned shoes.

They found that barefoot endurance runners often land on the fore-foot before bringing down the heel, while shod runners mostly rear-foot strike, prompted by the raised and cushioned heels of modern running shoes.

IMPACT

In a series of analyses, they found that even on hard surfaces, barefoot runners who fore-foot strike generate smaller “collision forces” – less impact – than rear-foot strikers in shoes. Barefoot runners also had a springier step and used their calf and foot muscles more efficiently.

Lieberman, who spoke at the conference after an early-morning barefoot run along the banks of London’s Thames, is keen to stress that the scientific evidence on whether barefoot running is better in terms of injuries is still very unclear.

“A lot of people are arguing on the basis of passion, anecdote, emotion or financial gain – but what’s quite true is there are no good data saying whether it’s better for you or worse for you,” he said.

Having said that, he has already voted with his feet.

As has fellow biology professor Daniel Howell, who teaches human anatomy and physiology at Liberty University in the United States.

Howell, dubbed the “Barefoot Professor” by his students after he began living his life 95 percent shoe-free, admits he’s an extremist.

He’s spent almost all of the past six years in bare feet, he’s run thousands of miles in all weathers and across many terrains without footwear, and he refers to shoes rather suspiciously as “devices.”

“Barefoot is the natural condition. It’s the most natural way to be,” he told the conference. “Walking and running are extremely complicated from a biomechanical perspective … and if you add a device to your foot, it alters it.”

“When you put on a device, it changes the way you stand, the way you walk and the way you run. Those changes are unnatural, and generally negative.”

SHOES, OR DEVICES?

While it’s true that almost all modern athletes use running shoes in international sporting competitions, a few barefooters have been trailblazers for the cause.

Back in 1960 Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, one of the world’s greatest Olympic marathon runners, won the first of his consecutive gold medals without shoes, covering the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 17 seconds. And in 1984, South African barefoot runner Zola Budd set a track world record when she ran 5,000 meters in 15 minutes and 1.83 seconds.

Simon Bartold, a sports podiatrist and international research consultant for the sports brand Asics, says most athletes, amateur or otherwise, should stick to wearing shoes.

“I’d come down pretty heavily in favor of footwear,” he said. “It does offer some real protection and some real performance advantages over barefoot.”

Still, Asics and other big running shoe brands like Nike, New Balance and Saucony see no reason to be excluded from this new and potentially lucrative form of the sport just because it’s about running in bare feet.

A nifty rebranding of the trend to “natural” or “minimalist” running has opened up a potential new market in “barefoot running shoes” that promise to be the closest thing to wearing nothing at all.

For Howell, even minimalist shoes are a step too far. “For most people, under most circumstances, most of the time, barefoot is the healthiest and most natural way to be,” he said.

Toombs, whose clients often come to her with injuries or illnesses that are restricting their movement, is concerned that scientific rows about the biomechanics of foot strikes, and efforts by sports brands to cash in, are robbing barefoot running of its best bits.

Formerly an enthusiastic shod runner, she says training without shoes is partly about getting back to nature, but it’s also about learning a better way to run, using the body’s bounce and balance to improve form and reduce impact.

“With barefoot running … each time my foot strikes the ground, it lands slightly differently,” she told Reuters. “In other words it’s adjusting to what’s underneath it.”

“I’m constantly scanning the terrain, dodging rougher areas and taking a much more meandering line, which works different sets of muscles. It’s almost like dancing. But the moment I put shoes on, most of that sensitivity is gone.”

Signs Of Heart Attack When Running Marathon

There have been a couple recent deaths in marathon races. In 2011 marathon deaths have been reported of a 35-year old in Chicago, 32 year old in San Antonio, 27 year old in Toronto, 32 year old in Montreal, and a 58 year old in savannah. These deaths are making some runners now worry about running long distance races?

I remember reading an article in NYT about this issue of runners dying from heart attack a few years ago. One of the conclusions was “The risk of dying on a marathon course is twice as high if you drive it than if you run it”.

Runners World magazine resident doctor wrote on this topic (Heart Attacs) and he adviced all runners to look out for the following tale tell signs of an imminent heart attack when running.

Listen to your body and stop for chest pain or pressure; pain or pressure in your arm, neck, or jaw; skipping or irregular heart beat; or unusual breathlessness, loss of energy, or fatigue.

If you have an event, like blacking out or feeling dizzy while exercising or feeling your heart flutter or race, report it to your physician for evaluation. Also be aware that “heartburn” during exercise may not be from your stomach and can be your heart.

Seven Swimming Technique Keys

by Rich Strauss

You’re a triathlete — fit, strong and lean. You’ve been swimming 3- to 5-times a week, racking up the yards. You’re getting fitter and faster…you’re psyched. Then one day you have a scheduling conflict and drop in on the evening Masters with the age group kids next to you…and you’re getting smoked by 12-year-old kids. How can that be???

Well, that kid probably started swimming when she was six and has been training 9-11 months a year for half of her life to the tune of 4-8k per workout. You’ve been swimming for 1-3 years, logging maybe 10k a week!

Your problem is simple: you’ve been training your swim like a triathlete, concerned with intensity and volume. Instead, you need to train like a six-year-old, learning the basics of proper technique.

Here are our Seven Swim Technique Keys to help you take your swim to the next level. We can’t promise you’ll ever catch that kid in the water, but at least you’ll be on the fast track to getting better!

Swim Technique Keys

1. Horizontal Body Position:

We swim by slipping our body through the water. Reducing frontal area and drag are critical to faster swimming. A horizontal body position, with your body moving smoothly across the top of the water, is effectively swimming through a relatively narrow tube: the tube is the same diameter from your head to your feet. If you have poor horizontal body position, if you drag your hips, legs and feet, the diameter of this body tube becomes much bigger and creates more drag. This requirement for horizontal body position is absolutely fundamental to effective swimming and is a “Do Not Pass Go” issue.

2. Lungs as Fulcrum:

We have several balancing tools to help us achieve a horizontal body position: arms, head, lungs, and an effective kick. Everything happens around the fulcrum of your lungs. Imagine your body is a teeter-totter, with your lungs as the fulcrum or balancing point. The more “stuff” you can put in the front of your lungs the more you’re able to counterbalance your heavy legs. So rather than trying to kick or force our legs up to the surface, use buoyancy and leverage to simply float them to the surface. This is free speed with virtually no energy cost.

3. Front Quadrant Swimming:

We want to keep our arms in front of our fulcrum as much as possible, to act as a counter balance to our legs. This style of swimming is called Front Quadrant Swimming. In addition, the longer you keep your arms extended in front of you, the longer you maintain a long body axis. Think of a long, sleek sailboat versus a squat dingy. A long, streamlined body is more hydrodynamic, and therefore slips through the water more readily.

4. Body Rotation along this Body Axis:

You are swimming front quadrant, using our arms as balancing tools and maintaining a long, streamlined body axis. You now rotate your body along this body axis. This rotation is rotary power that originates in your core. In addition, when you rotate your body along this axis to set up the pull, you do two things:

  • First, since you’re turned over on your side, presenting less frontal area to the water, you are more hydrodynamic.
  • Second, you’ve positioned the large muscles of your lats and chest to participate in the pull, not the weaker stabilizer muscles of your shoulder joint.

If you are swimming “flat,” with very little body rotation, you’re presenting lots of frontal area to the water. You’re also pulling with the small muscles of the shoulders and delts. Not only are these muscles small and weak, they’re also not made to pull. They are designed to stabilize the shoulder. By relying in these muscles to pull and provide power to your stroke you are increasing your risk of injury.

5. Breathing as Rotation, not Head Lift:

If we didn’t have to breathe, swimming would be much easier! But you are a new, inexperienced swimmer and you’re a little freaked out about it. You want to get to that breath as soon as possible. The air is up and the water is down. You instinctively want to lift your head up to the air to breath. You do this by pushing down on the water. This is exactly what you DO NOT want to do.

  • Rushing the breath means that you’ve started your pull early. You’ve now taken your arms, your very effective balancing tools, out of your front quadrant and moved them closer to the lungs, your fulcrum. Your legs begin to drop.
  • At the same time you’ve lifted your head up towards the air. Anything above the water pushes something else down. This forces your legs to drop more, increasing drag.

As an inexperienced swimmer you MUST realize that your method of breathing (“Push down, lift my head so I can get to air NOW!”) is completely counter to what you should be doing and is the source of your problems.

Instead, you want to:

  • Maintain front quadrant as long as possible.
  • Roll your head towards the air with your body as it naturally rotates.
  • Breathe with one goggle out of the water and with zero head lift. Imagine there is spike driven through the top of your head to your spine. Your head simply rotates along the axis of that spike…it does not lift.
  • When you do begin to pull, your hand is directed rearward, not downward. Pushing downward creates lift, forcing the head up and dropping the legs.

The ability to maintain front quadrant swimming deep into the breathing stroke is absolutely critical. Many triathletes learn to swim great front quadrant on their non-breathing strokes, only to fall apart when breathing.

6. Kick in the Tube:

Horizontal body position creates a small tube. Rotation along our long body axis reduces the frontal area of the tube further and allows us to transfer the rotary power of our core into our pull. Finally, a narrow kick (no wider than the tube) with flexible ankles keeps everything inside the tube and more streamlined. Triathletes with a running background typically have very tight ankles, making it difficult for them to point their toes and keep their feet inside the tube. If you have tight ankles, try sitting on your feet while you watch TV, gently stretching your ankles.

7. 70% Body Position, 30% Propulsion:

Notice that we haven’t once spoken about what you probably thought was the key to faster swimming: grabbing more water with a stronger pull. For you, the adult swimmer/triathlete, swimming is 70% body position, 30% propulsion. It doesn’t make sense to talk about putting a bigger engine into a barge. Turn that barge into a long, streamlined hull first…then work on putting a bigger engine into it.

In summary, for the majority of triathletes, swimming faster is akin to learning to play a musical instrument – a skill that’s learned and improved through focused technique instruction and practice, not by banging on the piano keys for hours and hours. Put down your training hat and focus on learning how to “play” your swim technique correctly!

Humans running antelope to death

There is a David Attenborough documentary that showed a bushman man running a Kudu to death. It was pretty amazing stuff – by persistently chasing the kudu through the heat of the day he was able to exhaust it to the point of collapse.
Watch video here

It turns out that in ancient history persistence hunting (as it is known) was actually very common. In fact some anthropologists believe humans hunted in this way before they had tools such as spears and bows.

Our bodies are so well adapted to endurance running (especially in hot conditions where prey easily overheat) that these anthropologists believe persistence hunting was an evolutionary force in humans. It seems we are specifically evolved to be able to run a large antelope into heat exhaustion.

Some examples :

* Running on two legs is slower in a sprint, but more efficient over long distances
* Humans have toes that are far shorter than all other primates. This has been shown to be a big advantage – but only when running over distance
* Hairless bodies and our all over sweating allows running in the heat. Antelope aren’t nearly as efficient at getting rid of heat – they must stop to pant

And by the way, do you think those people ever hear about Gatorate,Isostar,Post training recovery drink, Vo2 max,anaerobic threshold, racing shoes,training programm,massage etc.?

Boston wants record for Mutai to be certified

BOSTON – Αfter Geoffrey Mutai won the Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds — the fastest time ever for the 26.2-mile distance — race officials said they will ask track’s international governing body to certify his time as a world record even though the course is technically ineligible.

“Sure,” Tom Grilk, the executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, said Tuesday. “Why wouldn’t we?”

With temperatures in the 50s and a steady, significant tailwind — perfect marathon weather — Mutai ran almost a minute faster than the official world record of 2:03:59 set by Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin in 2008. But Mutai’s mark is doomed to be recognized only as a “world best,” not a “world record,” because the Boston course is too downhill and too much of a straight line to meet IAAF standards.

Fourth-place finisher Ryan Hall’s 2:04:58 was the fastest ever for a U.S. runner; it is likewise ineligible to be recognized as the American record because the national governing body has similar rules to the international one, according to Jim Estes, the manager of long-distance running programs for USA Track and Field.

Hall didn’t seem to care about being ineligible for an American record, but he didn’t feel like his time was tainted, either.

“There’s no disappointment for me,” he said on Tuesday. “I was sitting there last night and I’m saying, ‘I’m a 2:04 marathoner.’ I don’t care if it’s the course, or the wind, or anything. I’m a 2:04 marathoner.”

Still, Boston officials said they would apply to have the records certified, which would force the governing bodies to reject an unprecedented performance on the world’s most prestigious marathon course. Runners are lining up behind Mutai and insisting that any rule that excludes Boston, a race that predates the IAAF itself, is itself flawed.

“The IAAF must come and see Boston, and look, from start to finish, and see,” Mutai said Tuesday. “It is 42 kilometers, up and down the whole way. This is 42 kilometers; the other, that Gebrselassie ran, is 42 kilometers. It is not easy.”

In fact, no one is saying that Boston is easy — certainly not anyone who’s run the grueling hills from Hopkinton to Copley Square. But IAAF rules that encourage flat, loop courses were created to weed out marathons designed to produce artificially fast times with downhill courses or favorable weather.

Ironically, they wound up excluding Boston, the world’s oldest and most traditional marathon course — with the possible exception of the path the Greek messenger Pheidippides took from Marathon to Athens to start it all 2,500 years ago.

“This is the most time-tested course in the world,” 1986 Boston winner Rob de Castella said Tuesday. “Just about every great marathoner in history has run on this course. Boston was around when Pheidippides was a boy. You can’t take away from this amazing performance. It’s a record performance, beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

De Castella and other marathoners also noted on Monday that the governing bodies will recognize a record — including Gebreselassie’s Berlin run — that has been set with the help of professional runners hired to maintain a steady pace. Runners say having pacesetters can be a far bigger boost than Boston’s 459-foot drop in elevation, or a tailwind.

“For these guys to do what they’ve done without pacesetters on a tough, hilly course is phenomenal,” de Castella said. “It’s a shame if there’s any hesitation to acknowledge the outstanding athletic feat that we saw yesterday.”

The B.A.A. said on Monday that the race would pay Mutai the $75,000 in bonuses he earned for breaking the course record and achieving a world best. On Tuesday, the Kenyan was presented with a ceremonial check; because it had been printed in advance, the first prize of $150,000 was crossed out and $225,000 was written in.

Grilk said that the 115-year-old race isn’t going to change just to meet the IAAF criteria. No matter what the record book says, runners will know.

“If somebody wants to put up a dome and chase Swifty, the rabbit from Wonderland [dog track] around, God bless them,” Grilk said. “We’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing for 100 years: Firing off a gun and saying, ‘Go.'”

A total of 23,930 out of the 24,390 who started Monday’s race finished. There were 1,288 people treated by the medical staff; 73 of them were transported to the hospital; nine stayed overnight, but they are all OK, race director Dave McGillivray said.

But those aren’t the numbers everyone is talking about.

In addition to the world best in the men’s race, Wakako Tsuchida set a course record in the women’s wheelchair race with a time of 1:34:06, beating Jean Driscoll’s 1994 time by 16 seconds. It was her fifth straight victory; men’s wheelchair winner Masazumi Soejima is also from Japan, where training has been difficult since the March earthquake.

“I’m going to take this energy back to Japan,” she said through a translator. “Hopefully, it will help raise them up in a time of need.”

The women’s race finished with a back-and-forth duel on Boylston Street before Caroline Kilel won in 2:22:36. Desiree Davila came in 2 seconds later for the fastest Boston time for an American woman — 5 seconds faster than Joan Benoit when she won the race in 1983.

Four men broke the previous course record of 2:05:52, set just last year by Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot. One of them was Hall, who beat the previous course record by almost a minute and Khalid Khannouchi’s U.S. mark by 40 seconds.

Hall might not get the official American record, but he has his mind on next year.

“I’ll be back in Boston,” Hall said. “I just have to take another four minutes off my time and see if I can win.”

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

The London 2012 Mascots

Talk about creepy, Wenlock and Mendeville are just that. Thet are one-eyed, like lobster-clawed figures.   As for the one eye and funny looking yellow light on their head?  Well the former is supposed to be a lens through which the world will be watching, and the latter is a tribute to the London taxi cabs.
Since i remeber my self watching Olympics, my all time favorite mascot, by far, is Mischa, from 1980 Olympics in Moscow, with the crying scene at the end being unforgetable.

Some days are better than others