The coming of spring means that less and less athletes have to trudge through the darkness in the early hours before the sun comes up. However, athletes training for anything more than a 5k, are aware of the total dedication needed to roll out of bed at 4:30 am and greet the dark, even in the spring. While fumbling with headlamps isn't a favorite past-time of mine, the only other option until a few years ago has been a flashlight. This is where the Go Motion Reactor Lightvest made training a lot more simple.
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- Adjustable elastic cords for stowing a light jacket
Trying out the Go Motion Reactor Lightvest has been one of my favorite experiences as a tester. While fumbling with headlamps isn't a favorite past-time of mine, the only other option until a few years ago has been a flashlight. I'm not currently training for a full distance triathlon, but with all my other responsibilities, early morning and late night workouts seem to be the only way to fit everything in my day.
This is where the Go Motion made training a lot more simple. It took only a few minutes to adjust the shoulder straps for a good, snug fit and I haven't had any problems with chaffing on my arms; even when running in a tank top. While the vest looks a bit cumbersome on the rack, I was pleasantly surprised by how light-weight and unobtrusive it feels when running. You'll have to make the straps nice and snug to keep the vest from bouncing, but it's still completely comfortable. The sternum strap slider gives you the ability to move the light up and down the chest to find the spot that is most comfortable and best for your lighting needs. The ease with which it adjusts was especially helpful when my husband and I started swapping the vest back and forth for training.
The LED light with 3-levels of intensity and adjustable beam angle was fantastic for running in different conditions (road, trail etc.). I do have headlamps that are brighter, but also much bulkier, and preferred the balance that Go Motion has struck between the weight of the product and lumens.
I was so glad that Go Motion included a rear cell phone pocket, but unless you have a training partner to grab it for you, I wouldn't plan on taking any hand held calls during your workout. That being said, I'm an iPhone user and when partnered with my in-line speaker headphones, the location of the pocket is just fine. The elastic cords turned out to be perfect for packing my light windbreaker when the sun broke through. It's clear, the vest is meant to be light and fast, so make sure you take that into account if you need to carry something more substantial.
In addition to all the other features, the reflective strips and bright orange color make the vest a fantastic choice for all-night relay fans. For relay runners who don't want to lug a hydration pack, but want want the benefits of the safety features, there really isn't a better choice. One of the strongest pluses about the vest is it's versatility. We have even put it on our little girl to keep track of her while we set up camp in the dark. Kayaking, adventure racing and even dog walking... really, there are a ton of uses for this handy piece of gear.
When it comes to training, light is freedom. I have absolutely loved testing the Go Motion Reactor Lightvest and highly recommend it to anyone, athlete or otherwise, looking to increase their outside time. While I do wish that there was some storage space in the shoulder straps, I understand that it would make the vest more bulky for running. That being said, for those looking for more storage or hydration compatible solutions, Go Motion sells the Sternum Light Kit 100 that can be attached to the straps of most any hydration pack.
For more information about Go Motion products, go to: www.gomotiongear.com
Could running make you smarter? The answer may surprise you!
Most of us think of running as a physical activity. Certainly that appears to be the case. Running can make us leaner, trimmer and provides more oxygen to the muscles making them faster and stronger. Most of us know about the physical benefits of running and that is usually what motivates us to do it.
Running also has an emotional effect on us. Running for at least 20 minutes produces a natural chemical called Serotonin, which allows us to feel calm, centered, focused and happy. What a great natural drug we have built into our system to allow us to focus better, therefore being more productive with our time.
But what about the mental effects running may have on you? Only recently have there been studies that focus on the evolution of the brain and the impact exercise and running has played.
As stated in a recent New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds on January 1, 2013: "Our brains were shaped and sharpened by movement, the idea goes, and we continue to require physical activity for our brains to function optimally. Endurance produced meals, which provided energy for mating, which meant that adept early joggers. …their bodies developing longer legs, shorter toes, less hair, and complicated inner ear mechanisms to maintain balance and stability during upright ambulation. Simultaneously, humans were becoming smarter. Their brains were increasing rapidly in size. Today humans have a brain that is about three times the size that would be expected. Scientists are suggesting that physical activity played a critical role in making our brains larger. What has been discovered is the development of substances that promotes tissue growth and health, including a protein called brain-derived neurotropic factor, or BDNF. These substances are important for endurance. They are also known to drive brain growth. Being in motion made them smarter, and being smarter now allowed them to move more efficiently. As Dr. Lieberman states, 'there is a deep evolutionary basis for the relationship between a healthy body and a healthy mind.'”
What I find intriguing and exciting about these findings is the heightened awareness surrounding the benefits that running provides to us.
I’m sure many of you haven’t thought much about running to make you smarter. Perhaps now is a good time to look back over your life since taking up running and notice for yourself the development of your mind. What has changed? What has improved?
Often we think, as we get older we will begin to loose our mind. What if we are possibly reversing some of this by running and being physically active? What I find key to this article is the discussion and conclusive studies about running.
Perhaps this information could impact how you look at your running lifestyle for the year. We have just started a new year. So often we begin to plan new goals, perhaps bigger goals to “out do” the year we just left behind. Sometimes I think we get to a point where it may not be possible to out do what was previously done. Maybe it’s a year where you begin to have a new focus. Maybe you could create a goal around being smarter, being calmer, having better use of your days and time. What if your goal about running had nothing to do with beating last year’s 10k time, or half marathon time, or marathon time? Maybe the goal is to be a better parent.
For me, running is so much more than staying fit. Somehow I knew deep inside that I was benefitting in so many ways, more than just physically, but often it is hard to articulate or express what we feel from running.
I’d like to encourage you to find some time, perhaps on your next run, to think about what NEW goal you could set for yourself this year that has nothing to do with your time or your distance.
How would that goal impact your life and the lives of others around you? Running truly is so much more than running. It is a lifestyle, a way of being, and a way of expressing oneself.
By Ryan Lamppa, Running USA wire
Each year it gets harder and harder to select the 10 best moments in U.S. distance running. In the Olympic year of 2012, it is fitting to select 12 best moments as U.S. athletes and teams produced sterling, historic and medal winning performances on the roads, track and trails and in ultras. Although Kenya and Ethiopia have much more overall depth than the U.S., this country has the most diverse top talent in the world. As the top moments of 2012 indicate, the USA’s decade-long distance running resurgence remains strong.
Here are the 12 Best Moments for U.S. Distance Running in 2012:
#12 Olson Obliterates Course Record at Western States 100 Mile
On June 23 at the Western States Endurance Run 100 Mile in Auburn, CA, Timothy Olson of Ashland, OR smashed the course record in 14 hours, 46 minutes, 44 seconds – the first sub-15 time at this grueling event. Men’s runner-up Ryan Sandes was also under the previous record of 15:07:04 by Geoff Roes in 2010.
#11 Conley Closes Fast for Surprise Olympic Berth
At the Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR on June 28, UC-Davis grad Kim Conley, who was on nobody’s pre-race 5000m favorites list, earned a trip to London with a stirring, crowd-roaring Hayward Field finish to nip Julia Lucas at the tape for the coveted third spot – 15:19.79 to 15:19.83. Conley’s shocking performance was also a personal record.
#10 Morton Wins World 24 Hour Title, Team USA Women Strike Gold
Mike Morton (Lithia, FL) and Connie Gardner (Medina, OH) both set U.S. records at the IAU World 24 Hour Run Championships in Katowice, Poland, as Morton won the men’s title, while Gardner’s silver medal finish led the women to the team title on September 9. Morton covered 172.457 miles to better Scott Jurek‘s national record from 2010 by nearly seven miles. Gardner ran 149.368 miles to improve the American record set earlier this year by Sabrina Moran by a mile and a half.
#9Rupp and Lagat Trade U.S. Indoor Records
On February 11, Galen Rupp, at the USATF Classic, and Bernard Lagat, at the Millrose Games, set U.S indoor records at 2 miles (8:09.72) and 5000 meters (13:07.15) and each broke the other’s record for the respective distance.
Find the rest of the top 12, as well as honorable mention moments, at http://www.runningusa.org/2012-12-best-moments-USA-distance-running?returnTo=main
One of my colleagues who had experienced both kidney stones and a side stitch told me that the kidney stones were barely above the stitch in terms of pain. Having struggled with side stitches for decades, I know the physical and mental anguish of having to stop running due to the intense abdominal discomfort. One of my athletes is recovering from kidney surgery, has just begun his training again, and is experiencing a new pain in his abdomen which his doctor just confirmed as a side stitch. Below is an e-mail I sent to him just before he went to his doctor discussing possible treatment.
I believe that what you are experiencing is Exercise-Related Transient Abdominal Pain (ETAP) or a “side stitch” which was possibly introduced due to the change in the structure of your abdominal cavity after the surgery.
There is little known about this problem. I recently paid $60 to access a scientific article that had done significant research on the subject, and the conclusion of the scientists was “we don’t know what causes side stitches or how to treat them.” The article gave 6 different possibilities and treatments. A promising link with current research points to poor posture (not just when exercising, but in general, a condition known as kyphosis) as a possible cause, with the poor posture possibly adding stress to the lining of the abdominal cavity. By focusing on good posture, you might reduce the frequency of this problem. See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20022301
I suffered from this problem for nearly 20 years as a runner, and have only recently managed to completely eliminate it from my running when racing with the following changes, adopting a shotgun approach from the article previously mentioned, and implementing all possible treatments in a single season:
1. A general increase and focus on run fitness, particularly at high intensities. It is possible that this raises the run velocity threshold for when the pain occurs.
2. Abdominal massage. 3-4 times a month I have been having a therapist massage my abdomen, intercostles (rib cage), psoas, and lats to both relax the abdomen and to reduce tension in the torso, which can help my posture. I think that this is the #1 reason the issue has disappeared.
3. A product called Myomed on my abdomen before each race. This is probably not helping me too much, but it has been part of an overall successful system.
4. Deep belly breathing during the bike part of a race to relax the abdominal cavity. I did this in previous years with only minimal success, and so it may not be a significant influence.
5. A product call ASEA that I take daily and before each event. This is very unlikely to be the reason the side stitches have gone away, but I am too superstitious to stop taking it, since I stopped having the stitch when I started taking it.
6. Focus on good posture all day at my computer. Because the side stitches went away before I started my posture focus, this is also not likely what mitigated the stitch, but it may be another way to keep it from happening again.
Because I introduced almost all of these all at the same time, I can’t isolate which one, or combination or items, solved the problem. My guess is posture, and items #1 and #2 above are the most likely solutions.
Recently, there has been focused research about gait analysis and how people step as they run. You can go to almost any running store or see a running coach and have them observe you running outside, or on a treadmill to determine if your running, or foot strike is inward, outward, unstable (are you pronating, supinating, or lacking motion control?). Most running stores are incredibly helpful now in assisting you in finding the best shoe based on their analysis of your foot strike.
This is an excellent way to start your year off, and finding your best shoe. First and foremost, listen to what your coach or running store worker is observing. Find the right fit based on their information, and trying on a variety of options. While trying on the different shoe styles and brands, look for a few key points:
1) The fit. The shoe/or five fingers, should fit perfectly and feel comfortable. Comfort is essential.
2) The Tripod. The Tripod is a Feldenkrais idea based on the three most critical points of contact to pay attention to on the sole of your foot. The tripod includes the ball of the big toe, ball of the pinky toe, and the center of the heel. When standing in the shoe/five fingers, you should feel a fairly even distribution between these three points of contact. Later we will discuss how the tripod will assist you in finding your step.
3) Experience. Spend a significant about of time walking first then briefly running in the shoe/five fingers to see how they feel. Draw your awareness to the sole of your feet searching for the tripod. Can you notice do you roll out? Roll in? Do you feel unstable? Look for stability, fairly even distribution between the three points of the tripod, and comfort while walking and or running.
4) Compare. Always take in your past shoes and put one on one foot and the new option on the other. This helps to notice and become aware of what you were wearing, how the new option compares, and does it provide that sense of comfort, stability and even distribution among the tripod points. If not, try on another option, style or model/make. Take your time to find the right shoe.
There is more to the process than finding the right fit or the right shoe or even running barefoot. As Christopher McDougall wrote so simply in his article in the New York Times Magazine this fall, “We don’t need smarter shoes; we need smarter feet.”
So how do we get smarter feet? By finding your STEP. I have been running for 31 years and have been teaching the Feldenkrais Method for 26 years. In that time, I’ve have had a lot of opportunities while running, training and competing to think, feel and develop a simpler way to help you discover your STEP.
First off, find your tripod for each foot. Then develop a visual image of the tripod. Next, transfer the thought to the sole of your right foot. Feel the image under the sole of your foot and connect to the earth. Imagine the ball of the big toe, ball of the pinky toe, and the heel all pressing evening into the floor/earth. Congratulations, you have now established a visual image, and transferred it into a physical awareness/sensation. Repeat now with your left foot. While standing become aware of both of your tripods. Now you are ready to learn to STEP. It is really a simple concept. Just thinking, and finding the STEP, creates the opportunity for all those natural motions to fall into place. If you have too much to focus on, it becomes confusing for both your mind and body.
While standing, notice both tripods. From there you can shift your weight a little more onto one leg and get ready with the other leg to take a STEP. It doesn’t matter which leg, just notice which leg feels more automatic to initiate a STEP. Take a STEP and land on the whole foot, finding the tripod again. From here notice what must take place deep inside your hip joint to allow you to have your weight evenly distributed over the three points of the tripod. You must bring your hip directly over your ankle and the sole of your foot. I call it 'growing tall' in the hip joint, or finding the 'high point' in your hip joint. How do you know if your doing it right? Slip off the high point of the hip joint. Try taking a step and keeping your hip and upper body back behind you; most likely you will only have your heel down. What would it take to bring yourself on top of your ankle/foot? Feel the effort to get there. Now try taking a step and shooting your hip laterally out to the side, do you now roll to the outside of your foot and loose your balance? What effort would you need to do to bring yourself back into balance over your ankle/foot? Take a step and bring your hip in direct alignment with your ankle/foot. Do you feel the tripod now? Does your knee actually disappear? How balanced and or stable are you now as you grow tall over your hip joint? Can you feel how your chest becomes lifted? Now Step back and repeat the same movement at least 6-8 times with this foot. Notice each time it becomes easier to find your STEP, and getting tall in the hip joint, as well as your entire self. Notice your balance. From here, feel how free it is to bring the other leg through to find your STEP with this leg. Repeat on this side 6-8 times. Once you have felt finding your STEP, you are now ready to take your image, thought and sensation outside for a run or to the treadmill. Remember, this is just one moment in your gait that is critical for proper alignment, propelling yourself forward, finding balance, stability and effortless running. The key is finding the moment when you're on the entire foot; finding your STEP.
What is pacing, really? And how does someone learn to pace when running? Learning to pace may not only be the key to a faster run, but a faster run with less effort. A concept we can all appreciate. When I think of pacing, I immediately think of breathing.
Breathing is such an interesting topic, and there has been much discussion on the right way to breathe. What I've learned from The Feldenkrais Method, which is the Method I teach, is that breathing is the one thing that is truly wired into us as human beings. We are an advanced mammal and there are many things we must learn however, breathing is not one of them. Breathing occurs automatically. In saying this, it is in the how we are breathing or perhaps not breathing and our ability to self-regulate our breathing, which allows us to breathe in a rhythmic, smooth, effortless way. Our environment (i.e. what we are doing) plays a large part in how we breathe as well. So if we are sitting watching T. V., our breathing is much quieter than if were running. What about swimming for those of you who are triathletes? Have you ever noticed how your breathing is completely different when swimming than running and you never think about it do you? Because we self-regulate. But often there is tension around our self-regulation, therefore, dramatically affecting our ability to carry out the action or sport we are doing.
So how does one find their pace, their rhythm, and their breath? How does one self-regulate? First and foremost I believe it is crucial to start your run off slow. Allowing yourself to warm up gives you time to get into a rhythm for yourself. If you start off to fast you may miss this opportunity to notice. Once you are running for a few minutes you begin to listen; listen to your inner self, not your head/ your thoughts, the traffic, or your headphones. You can have that all going on, but you learn to draw your attention inward and feel your breath. Ask yourself, "How is my breathing?" Notice if anything is feeling difficult including your breathing. Once you draw awareness, you will notice.
Awareness is the first step and the key ingredient to finding your rhythm, finding your pace. Is your breath fast? Is it choppy, is it rushed? Are you exhaling? Which by the way is critical because it is automatic to inhale. Continue to ask, are my legs heavy, do they feel tired, and do I feel tired? It is important to ask these questions for if any part of you is working too hard, it will directly affect your breathing.
So now what do you do? Once you become aware, the great news is, change is already happening. This is why awareness is so important. Now you have the option to either shift your pace to slow down so you can regulate your choppy breathing to a smoother breath, or you can slow your pace to allow your legs to feel lighter and less heavy. So you have options to start self –regulating. I personally choose to shift my breathing. I find if I slow my pace down just a little I allow my breath to become fluid, rhythmic and smooth. Once this has happened, I find everything in my running becomes lighter, easier, smoother and more free. My whole system has self-regulated. I continue to notice the shift staying there for a few minutes before I increase my speed. I allow myself the time to adapt to the new effortless pace. So as you pick up the pace, your breathing will become faster, and faster is okay as long as your breathing is smooth and continuous. Then I look for the next moment when I feel so at ease with my pace and my breathing that I know I can increase my speed again. I add the increase, and return to noticing my breathing and rhythm. Can I keep the quality of breathing with this new increase of speed? The answer must be yes to be able to run with ease, if the answer is no, I must back off a bit.
Over the years my ability to self-regulate is quite natural and very quick. Practicing such self-regulation has led me to not only find a great sense of ease in my runs, but with the ease a faster pace that I can sustain for long runs. I may self-regulate 10 times over the course of a 20 mile run. It doesn't matter how often, what does matter is the ability to notice so you can shift yourself. You should also notice where you are placing effort. I’ll shift my attention to all different areas; my feet, my legs, my shoulders, my arms, just asking the inner question: “How does this part of me feel right now?” Again, as you notice, change is in the works.
Hopefully these tips will help you become even more self aware. My hope is, through such self awareness you will develop a deep inner connection with yourself, thus being able to self-regulate giving yourself the best runs ever!
Sharon Starika is a runner and triathlete with over 20 years of competitive racing experience. She is a Guild Feldenkrais Practitioner and lives in Park City, Utah where she has a private practice. She teaches classes and clinics around the country and offers instructional online workshops so people interested can practice her methods anywhere. For contact information go to www.sharonstarika.com or