Barefoot running rockstar, Chris McDougall, visited Two Rivers Treads in Shepherdstown this past Thursday. I'm on the TRTreads email list and was excited and surprised to read that he would be in town for a short visit and participate in the Thursday evening clinic.
If you ever have an opportunity to participate in one of these clinics, I seriously recommend that you go. Dr Mark Cucuzzella is extremely knowledgeable about minimalist running as well as running in general....being a 2:37 marathoner will do that for you.
Chris mentioned the importance and wide reaching affect of what Mark is doing at TR Treads. I'm not sure there's any other place in the country currently with a community of minimalist runners. Sure you may have a handful here and there, but in this area, if you're wearing a pair of Newtons, Vibrams or Evos, folks will ask you if you bought them from 'Dr Mark' and the answer is usually yes.
Mark and Chris talking to the group
My pesky foot fracture kept me from participating in the clinic so I sat at the edge and watched and listened. I also had Shane with me so I had to bail early. But I did garner some nuggets to share with you.
~ CaDeNcE- Why the magic number of 180? Stand on the balls of your feet and bounce up and down like you're jumping rope. You'll bounce about 180 times in a minute. It's our natural recoil cadence. And when running more naturally, you'll get closer to that number nirvana.
~ "Experts" resistance to minimalist and barefoot running - Mark talked about this. In the medical community, most lifestyle and health recommendations start at the top and trickle down. A panel of experts decide that something is good/bad for you; then the information flows out to the masses.
Barefoot running began from the bottom and trickled up. Runners realized they could run more efficiently and with fewer injuries (cept knuckleheads like me who do too much too soon) so they started telling other runners and so on.
Mark shared that he and Chris have participated in a number of high profile panels around the country, and there have been varied responses to their schpeal. In some places, their message was well received, the information fairly considered, and they were invited to participate in future panels.
Other times they have been treated poorly and not invited to speak again in future discussions. Sad reflection on the arrogance of some 'experts.'
I stink at estimating, but I think there were about 60 people there. Very cool
~ Nifty jump rope trick- Mark demo'd this and then had one of the older (~10-11 yrs old) kids do it. Run forward while jumping rope. You can't overstride and your foot has to land under your hip, otherwise you'll get tangled in the rope. It's a helpful trick when working on proper footstrike.
~ Your core is core, essential, central, foundational to proper running- Stand up straight, put your hands on your side just above your hip bones, and cough. That muscle is your transverse abdominis, and when it's strong, it's your best friend. Mark had everyone engage their abs and then try to hunch over forward (the way many of us look when we finish a long run). No can do, Kemosabe.
He gave some practical tips like ditch your chair for a ball so the hours you spend hunched in front of your computer will be spent strengthening and engaging your core. Or move your computer to a counter top so you can stand...and then you can do things like stand on one leg and do leg lifts to strengthen your gluteus minimus.
I would have loved to hang around afterwards to meet Chris, but Shane was quickly falling apart so I had to skedaddle before they finished the clinic. It was very cool to see so many people there, all ages, shapes and sizes, and I look forward to future clinics when I can actually participate!