Tuesday, August 07, 2012

[Health and Fitness] Fitness Follies

Fitness Follies: The heat really put a damper on things. Usually during the hot months I switch from running to cycling because it's much cooler, mostly because you are going fast enough to have a constant breeze in your face, but once you get into the triple digits, it's like a breeze from a blast furnace. Still, the cycling is going well. I was able to do the 40 mile Helluva Ride again this year -- always fun-- and I hope to get a 50+ miler in somewhere (or a half-century, if I want it to sound more impressive) before it gets too cold.

Swimming has slipped. It's just been difficult to get out to the lake with any regularity and with the heat, the crowds really put a damper on the swimming of buoy laps. It's no fun to accidentally deliver a forearm to some chubby dude wedged into a inner tube shaped like a duck, no matter how hard you try to smile.

I've also been keeping up with running to a certain extent. But more importantly in that department I was recommended to a place called The Running Institute, a physical therapy operation that focuses on runners. Since I was experiencing some brutal knee pain, I decided to let them put me through my paces.

All my life I have been told I am a supinator; I run on the outsides of my feet. I can stand on the little measuring device in the running store and it will show the weight distributed to the outside of my feet. Because of this I have always worn what are called "cushioned neutral" shoes. The idea behind these shoes is the added cushioning allows your foot to gently roll off the outside into proper neutral position -- it sort of passively guides your foot to roll inward to counterbalance your supination.

Now, at the Running Institute they don't play around with Mickey Mouse measuring devices or make guesses based on subjective impressions: they go right to the tape -- they video you and they look and the results with you. My videos caused people to go bug-eyed. Despite the fact that I load-bear on the outsides of my feet standing and walking, when I kick into a run, suddenly everything changes and I'm rolling to the inside of my foot (pronation). Honestly, looking at this video I was amazed my heel hadn't snapped in two at some point.

The upshot is that every shoe guy who has ever looked at me has recommended a shoe type that is the exact opposite of the one I needed; the one that encouraged my problem. But that was not obvious without the video.

From there the rest was easy. Go to the shoe shop next door (Running Fit). Pick out 5 pairs of shoes of the right type. Video me running on the treadmill in each pair. Pick the one that best straightens me out. For the record: Brooks Adrenaline GTS12.

I've only just started running in them but so far so good. We'll see if my knee pain subsides. For the revelation about my stride alone and comprehensive analysis, I would recommend The Running Institute, but most impressively you get a quick eval from a really high end running coach, Ron Warhurst, who's trained numerous internationally successful runners including the Beijing silver medalist in the 1500 and flag-bearer for New Zealand in London. He'll nail your worst inefficiencies in about 10 seconds.

A two session eval is not cheap, $175, but if you are at all serious about running, even recreational running, I highly recommend it. (Obviously this is for my Ann Arbor area homeys, but hey, if you want to make the trip...)