Shoes Or No Shoes, Is That Really The Question?

By Nikki Reiter

I’m often encountered with the question of whether it is it better to run barefoot than in shoes. The ‘barefoot movement’ has made a real impact on modern running, flaunting the technical benefits of running in the most ‘natural’ way for our bodies to minimize injury and maximize our performance.

Through both its merits in improving running technique and for its trendiness, barefoot running seems to have made a lasting impression. Running shoe companies have jumped on the bandwagon, manufacturing ‘barefoot shoes’ (could there be a greater oxymoron?) and nearly every running shoe brand has its version of a barefoot or minimalist shoe. Both types of shoes claim to allow you to run more naturally and use less energy because you don’t have to lift the mass of the shoe with every stride.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive When it Comes to Preventing Injuries

Part 1: Warming Up Properly

By Chris Lauretani, PT, MS, CSCS, CKTP

Running injuries affect nearly 50% of recreational runners at some point over the course of a year, however that number can jump to almost 90% during marathon training. Overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis, ITB tendinitis and patella femoral syndrome can lead to unwanted downtime during crucial training periods. Once an injury occurs, a runner’s primary concern shifts off training and must be refocused on recovering. This reactive treatment of an injury is necessary and part of every athlete’s recovery process, but wouldn’t it be great to proactively prevent a large number of these injuries from happening in the first place?

This is where training is taken to a place that many runners fear…. valuable free time spent on something other than running.  Many runners, both elite and recreational, feel that every single second of training time should be spent running, but if you want to stay injury free, it is essential to devote part of your weekly routine to proactively preventing injuries. This can be accomplished in part by warming up properly and participating in flexibility training, core / strength training, and cross training.

Chris McKay Sets A New PR At The Fremantle Half

Run SMART client Chris McKay, of Perth, Western Australia, set a new PR at the Fremantle Half Marathon. Our first Australian PR! Chris finished in 1:23:48, improving on his time from last year by almost two minutes on a very windy day, also including a stop to tie his shoelaces! He was 16th place overall. [Full results]

Chris works with Run SMART coach Heidi Peoples.

Bill Clugston Drops Over 12 Minutes Off 10k Time

Run SMART client Bill Clugston of Auburn, WA set a new PR at the Dawg Dash 10k. The 57-year-old’s last 10k time since 1980 was last spring when he finished in 1:19:52. We’re excited to announce that he shaved over 12 minutes off his recent best finishing in 1:07:39. [Results] Bill and his Run SMART coach Heidi Peoples are working towards getting back to a sub-60 minute 10k.

Michael Gibson Sets Two PRs Under The Influence Of Coach Jack Daniels

Jack Daniels Training Plan customer, Michael Gibson of Glen Ellyn, IL, set a new PR at the Chicago Marathon. While following his plan Michael also managed to set a new half marathon PR as well.

After the race Michael sent us his results, “Thanks to my customized Run S.M.A.R.T. Project training plan, I set a PR at this year’s Chicago Marathon with a time of 3:33:57. This beats both my two previous marathon times of 3:57:12 (October, 2011) and 3:45:25 (February, 2012).  I also set a new Half-Marathon PR of 1:40:06 (September, 2012), beating my previous best of 1:43:03 (April, 2012).”

Michael is determined to work his way down to a Boston Marathon qualifier (3:05) and we’ve worked out a good long term game plan to help him get there. It’s going to be exciting to watch his progress.

George Oliver Cracks 3-Hours For The First Time

Jack Daniels Training Plan customer, George Oliver of Hopedale, MA, customized his plan for this year’s Chicago Marathon determined to crack the 3-hour barrier. His PR coming into the race was 3:01:58 set this past May. After running nine marathons in the past three years he’s managed to very impressively chip his way down from a 4:09 debut.

After the race George emailed us, “I am thrilled as I ran a PR by 5 mins and broke through the 3hr mark. The plan you put together worked well…particularly I felt the workouts in the plan prepped me well. Thank you so much for your support and helping me achieve a personal goal.”

George’s official time was 2:56:48. More impressive was how he paced himself. He ran almost perfectly even the entire race with a half split of 1:28:00. Full results.

George Paul Sets 20-Minute PR At Steamtown

Jack Daniels Training Plan customer, George Paul of Fairfax, VA, customized his plan for this year’s Steamtown Marathon. He set a goal of 3:30 with a PR of 3:52 set last September. His mileage was low for his last marathon so we made an adjustment and… we’re excited to announce that George smashed his PR finishing in 3:32:34. Results.

After the race George sent us a message with our favorite part in bold, “I love you guys. I got a 20-minute PR and finished in 3:32:34 (8:05 pace). More importantly, I felt strong the entire race and the hills at the end were “manageable”. Next, you guys are going to get me to Boston. Just 8 little minutes to go. :). Thanks again, the higher mileage paid off big time.”

“Felt Amazing For All 26.2 Miles”

Jack Daniels Training Plan customer Melissa McLane set a new PR at the Steamtown Marathon. Melissa signed up with a PR of 3:50:41, which she ran last year at Steamtown. This year – 3:44:52! Results.

Afterwards Melissa said, “Despite being nervous and feeling unprepared due to not having done a run over 18 miles, I best last years time by 6 minutes and felt AMAZING for all 26.2 miles. People kept telling me how awesome I looked at mile 24 and at the finish.  Maybe I left a little on the course but I am still so happy with my performance. Your training worked magic!”

We always talk about the time improvements our clients make but one consistent theme we’re getting in our feedback is how our clients seem less likely to hit the marathon “wall” late in the race. Many have reported how surprisingly they felt good late in the race and that’s partially a product of not overtraining. Our first priority is getting people to the line injury free, so we take pride in the fact that they’re enjoying the process and feeling good about the experience, not just getting faster. That’s important.

Introducing Our Resident Biomechanist

We’re extremely excited to welcome Nikki Reiter, our resident biomechanist, to the staff. Nikki will be providing tips on our blog and answering questions leading up to the launch of our new gait analysis service next year. Check out Nikki’s intro below and learn more about how her expertise can help you become a healthier and stronger runner.


By Nikki Reiter

What’s a biomechanist and what can one do for you? Great question! A biomechanist who specializes in running will analyze your gait (that is, how you run) and suggest ways to improve performance and avoid injury by moving in a more efficient way. Oh yeah, and running will be more effortless, too. Sound too good to be true? Well, we are! Just kidding, but biomechanists have a lot to offer when it comes to training, above and beyond the regular tempos, intervals and long runs.

Karin Getz Drops 39 Minutes Off Marathon PR At Steamtown

Jack Daniels Training Plan customer Karin Getz set a new PR at the Steamtown Marathon last weekend. Karin entered the race with a PR of 5:43 and her goal time when she signed up for our training plan service was 5:15. We’re excited to announce that she smashed her goal finishing in 5:04:48. Full Results.

After the race Karin sent us a note, “As I have told you before, I am beyond thrilled with your program. During the two years I have worked with you, I have set PR after PR. I have dropped 36 minutes in my half marathon and 39 minutes in just my second marathon. All of the races that I ran this year I PR’d. This plan has everything a runner needs to be successful. Thank you for giving me the opportunity and knowledge to be a better runner!”