Posts Tagged ‘running’

LAVS 2016 - DAY 8 AND 1/2 UPDATE

LAVS 2016 – DAY 8 AND 1/2 UPDATE

Not exactly sure where Westbrook is at the moment, except that he is not far from the finish. He is either 10 miles out or 5 miles out. I think he may be hallucinating and not very clear at times where he may be. He has to go up Sand Mountain at the end with a foot mangled with blisters. We are heading out to the finish to find him now, if we can.

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Westbrook is coming into a nice breeze and downhill for the next three miles, currently at mile 288. You would think this sounds nice. The breeze yes, but downhill no. His blistered foot will slide around in his shoe while going downhill only to create more friction. Not to forget that downhill is harder on one’s knees and muscles if your are very exhausted and sore. All in all, the downhill will probably be painful rather than a relief. He remains 29th out of 43 screwed runners with 26 miles ahead of him.

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I have to apologize for the delayed posting. I was having difficulties with my iPad not showing the current update this morning and had to wait until I had access to a laptop. So, here it is.

Westbrook’s entire right foot is almost completely blistered. He runs a bit, screams, and walks on. Ughhh. I feel for him. A blistered, tender, sore foot and this heat makes for an extremely miserable time. Not to mention having to run up Sand Mountain at the very end. What a way to end a lengthy, hellacious road race.

Having 266 miles behind him and approaching Pelham, Westbrook has 48 miles remaining. He is holding 29th out of 43 runners. Way to go! Hang in there. Not too much further.


Start of the Locomotion 12 Hour Race

Westbrook was one of 18 runners to start the 12 hour leg of the Locomotion 6 and 12 hour race consisting of 2 mile loops around Camp Jordan in East Ridge, Tennessee. The race started a little late at 7:33 am.


Westbrook at mile 26, Locomotion 12 Hour Race

Richard worked himself into 3rd place and held that until the finish. He completed 56 miles in a little under 12 hours. His goal was 50 miles so he exceeded his expectations after coming off of low mileage days with a hurt foot. One 20 miler was the furthest he ran in training prior to this race day. At first, he hoped to complete 30 miles, then 40, and onto 50. He ran ahead of pace on the warm and sunny day, albeit crazy headwinds on the starting side of the loop.


Westbrook finishing 3rd in the Locomotion 12 Hour Race


Richard Westbrook and his medal for the Locomotion 12 Hour Race


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Posted: January 18, 2014 by smrtnsasy in Articles
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Numerous studies and research have shown that there is more to running distance than the obvious “one foot in front of the other.” All of us that run distance know this without having the experts in white lab coats informing us. We find out in the real “lab,” the outdoors where our running takes place. Our experience in our running educates us to what is really happening.

The stuff that is really happening is varied. Even in it’s variety, there seems to run a commonality that bonds the runners. And, this doesn’t depend on how fast the runner is, or what level the runners practice his or her craft, or even how long the runners have been running. The running itself is the sticky stuff binding all this together.

Probably the most obvious thing that happens to runners is the feeling of accomplishment derived from sticking to your running plan or from running on that day that you would really like to just “can” it. But, you do it and feel better for it. This is a feeling of success reflected in self-discipline. If we are serious about our running , we have all felt this.

The aspect of self-discipline leads to a more physical feeling of relaxation leading to the mental “feel good” level during or after a run. Commonly known as the “runner’s high,” it has its basis in biology. We know the brain will increase the endorphins in the blood during a relaxing (or not too demanding) run. The afterglow is a direct result of the endorphins.

The act of running continuously can increase the level of serotonin in the brain. This is the reason aerobic running has been used in the treatment of depression. Depressed patients have found remarkable improvement through running aerobically. Some have improved dramatically while reducing the amount of anti-depressant medication.

Go for a run, and your self-esteem will improve…if it needs to improve. You may be grossly overweight, slow, painfully aware of how you look in running attire, and having to work at a death defying intensity just to jog one-hundred yards, and yet, the act of completing that one-hundred yards will elevate your self-esteem. Run more, self-esteem will get higher. The actual proven reasons for this are unclear, but no matter. We runners know it works, and that’s the important part.

Running in our modern society may have taken place of the predominance of physical labor prevalent in our society in earlier years. Before mechanization and technology had put manual labor in the minority of activity, the number of U.S. citizens suffering from depression, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence, the absence of a sense of self, and a feeling of a day spent well leading to relaxation was in itself a minority. Now, we are bombarded by advertisements for products that will solve those problems. All you have to do is buy and take the cure-all medication, and you will be a happy citizen…if you can get by all the side-effects.

Running gets us around all that. It is our manual labor. It is our exertion that brings together the brain, the heart, the adrenaline, the endorphins, the mysterious actions of self-esteem, the musculature used in locomotion, the DNA of our evolution…everything that makes the runner a relaxed and aware individual in our society. The running makes us a good animal.

The good animal is one of clear-headedness , one of creativity, one of simplicity. The runner seems to be able to see the true meaning of anything. Just as running itself culls out the gloss in activity, sport, work, and recreation, the runner uses this developed talent in other aspects of life. Therefore, life becomes one of clarity and simplicity in which creativity can prosper. This may explain why one can feel creative during a run while sitting tends to stalement that act.

This biological wonder we call a runner is an evolutionary animal that is aware of his or her surroundings both immediate and distant, past and present and future. This awareness is heightened during a good run, and this reinforces this runner-animal in his environment while not running. It makes the runner better at work, play, and daily life.

This awareness is connected to the real physical changes that happen in the brain and body during the run or immediately afterwards. During the run, the runner will notice things previously unnoticed, hear things heretofore unheard, sense things that have been oblivious up to now. All animal senses will have been sharpened. Eventually, this running animal can carry all this into the normal “civilized” life.

The runner will then be a better person in that life. All will be good.


“As we run, we become.”

Amby Burfoot,

The Runner’s Guide to the Meaning of Life


By: Richard Westbrook

BOOK: RUNNING THROUGH THE WALL: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon                          AUTHOR: Neal Jamison                                                                                                                        PUBLISHER/DATE: Breakaway Books, 2003                                                                                    REPORT: This is one of the most personalized and entertaining books that I have read on the subject of running long. Obviously, from the title, it focuses on ultramarathon distances. That would be any distance longer than the marathon. The first standard ultra distance is 50 kilometers, which is thirty-one miles. For that reason, a lot of the personal stories in the collection will give credence to the 50 kilometer distance.

This book is very good in that it gives personal stories from the normal “Joe” or “Jane” just like you and me who happens to run ultramarathons. The stories center on various slants in the runner’s pursuit ranging from their beginnings, outstanding races, spiritual insights, and their motivation. You will find runners who stumbled into running ultras. Then, there are those who planned their assault on the distances. Like the rest of us, there are those who had a lack of confidence when faced with such monumental distances. Just about all the stories related instances during a particular race in which the runner was convinced that he or she could not make it to the finish line. Some of these instances were true life threatening situations and some were of the “feeling sorry for myself” types. They were all just like those thoughts that the rest of us go through during the same kind of running challenges. Indeed, one of the most striking characteristics of this book is the normalcy of the runners of whom the stories relate.

On the other hand, there are some “supers” involved. For those accounts of the diabetic in his first 100 mile run crewed by his sons and struggling to the race site with a broken down van; or the suicide survivor, depression laden, young lady who didn’t leave her house for months and then went through the gamut of highs and lows in her first ultra but finished on a high, there are the stories from ultra superstars like Tim Twietmeyer, Ian Torrence, Ann Trason, and David Horton. Even in the “super’s” accounts, we can relate to the normalcy that earmarks the ultrarunning scene.

Reading story after story, the reader will begin to appreciate the closeness of the ultra community. Such things like runners slowing to help total strangers get through bad patches in the race, because they have been there before, will stand out again and again as an oddity in the ultra races. The attitude expressed by the runners in their stories will impress even the non-runner much less the runner just thinking about running an ultra event.

Running Through the Wall

The reader will read some of the stories and laugh because you will see yourself in there. Other stories will have you pulling for the runner as you turn to see the outcome. Still others will have you emotionally charged by relating to the intensity of the story and the runner involved. This makes the book interesting to read and packed full of memorable characters. It is well written and easy to read.

Each chapter is a runner’s story. It is preceded by a thumbnail sketch of the runner. This includes their name, age, years running, years running ultras, and their residence. I appreciated the picture of each runner. This gives the reader a visual contact as you are reading the runner’s story. For me, it made each story much more personal, a story with a face.

Don Allison, editor and publisher of UltraRunning Magazine, writes a very good foreword for the book. This gives a good opening door to the stories. It sets the stage for a good piece of work by the author, Neal Jamison.

I highly recommend this book to any runner aspiring to run marathons, ultra races, experience adventure runs, or just looking to improve their running by running longer on their level. It will give you fodder for dreams as well as confidence enveloped in normalcy. You will be glad you read it.

“Behind every runner, there is a history that leads them to the starting line of an ultramarathon, and that history colors the drama that plays out over the duration of the event.”                                      Don Allison                                                                                                                                            Editor/Publisher                                                                                                                                             UltraRunning Magazine

By: Richard Westbrook

I remember in elementary school seeing maps of our country as it was being discovered and settled. Of course, it looked a lot different than it does now. What surprised me then and made me think was that the map related some eastern states or colonies as they do now, but with one dramatic difference, that being they extended to the Pacific Ocean. There it was, Georgia, stretching all the way west. What was now Alabama, Mississippi, Northern Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or Southern California was then Georgia. Well, the map changed greatly with exploration, settlements, and people identifying with their regions. The result is that we have Georgia as it is today.

I’m glad that happened. That’s because I have a quest to run across each county in Georgia before I die. Right now there are 159 counties. That’s a lot. Just think if we reached to the Pacific. I run across a county when my schedule, training, and availability of some help allow me to do so. Right now, I have completed fifty-two counties. That leaves one hundred and seven to go. Whew!

Another thing is the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix road races. I love to drive to various regions of the state to run a race there. The race is the obvious purpose, but the drive to get there is another purpose for going. Even better is the drive home after the race. I don’t have to arrive for a race start at a certain time, so I take a scenic drive home on back roads. It may take me longer to get home, but the scenery is usually worth the extra miles. I only wish my schedule would allow me to do more of this.

Geographically, our state is one of great variety. Locked away in my memory are scenes I’ve envisioned on a run. They are special visions and experiences that add to my running. I’m enthralled when I experience the visions and the feeling associated with them during the run. Afterwards, I have it forever in my mind and can bring back that memory anytime.

From Trion, my hometown, running hours before sunrise through Summerville and Menlo, then up the mountain to Mentone, Alabama, gave me visions of a clear, moonlit sky. As the run progressed, the morning sun cast shadows on the valley below as I ran up the mountain toward Alabama. I could see a valley of green with patches of farms, towns, and ribbons of asphalt winding about the valley floor. The morning mist was being burned away by the sun, and the shadows disappearing. By the time I reached the top, the valley was panoramically displayed below. It was a beautiful sight. an old, sweet song

…like an old, sweet song

Ocean breezes in my face on Cumberland Island made those runs special. There is a limit of people they let on the island at one time. This makes running there seem like I am the only one there, especially early in the morning. I seldom see other people as I greet the sun on the beach and then head inland to the trails. I have seen the horses running and I have seen them feeding. Huge gators float in some of the ponds, just hoping for an easy meal…and I keep moving. The running is softer than that of north or middle Georgia, being on sandy soil surfaces, and many miles can be run with less stress on the legs than my normal running.

The long corridor of the Silver Comet Trail is a favorite running site for me. It is a multi-use trail, meaning it is paved. So, it is not a trail in the truest sense. But, for me, it will do. Running there is convenient. I don’t have to worry about traffic. I don’t have to keep constant watch for rocks, roots, or bears. The narrow corridor offers a good running site, and is long enough to lay down some miles. It extends east to west or visa-versa.  It follows an old railroad bed, and this provides good scenery for the run.

The roads from my house to the square in Newnan provide me with one of my favorite runs. I pass through Union City, Fairburn, and Palmetto on the way. The road provides me with a long, straight route through some sparsely populated areas. I run by fields, forests, residential areas, a small airport that looks abandoned, and a railroad on which I always hope to see the train roll by me. The openness and variety of the route make this part of Georgia one through which I always look forward to run. It makes my long run a lot more enjoyable.

These are just four pieces of our state that are among my favorites to run. There are many more out there for me to discover and enjoy. My running like this is a celebration of the beauty of our state and country. The landscape and the people make it what it is. America the beautiful. Georgia…like an old sweet song.


“We do not own land. But, we become part of the land when we cross it. A piece of the world becomes part of me when I run across it. And, I become a part of that piece of the world.”                                                                                                                                                                       Louis Tewanima


By: Richard Westbrook


BOOK: GOD ON THE STARTING LINE, The Triumph of a Catholic School Running Team and Its Jewish Coach AUTHOR: Marc Bloom                                                                                                                                PUBLISHER/DATE: Breakaway Books, 2004                                                                                               REPORT: If you ever wanted to know just how it is to coach a high school cross-country team, just a regular old team, nothing high powered, the kind of team that is typical of most high schools, then this is the book to read. It will tell you of the life and times of a small team struggling for their identity. While doing that, the identity of the individual as a coach will be clarified among the various tangents contacting this group.

I could identify with the author and his situation being that I am coaching a team that is struggling to find its identity. There are many parallels in the book and my case. I empathized with the author in many situations.

Marc Bloom, the author, writes very well as you will see in his easily readable style. He has written many articles on running and several other books on the subject. His experience with the subject pays off in his work. I have read other works relating the coaching experience, but this is the best.

A unique facet of the book is the spiritual aspects of two different religions. These obvious and subtle teachings affect the coach, the runners, and parents. At times, this causes conflict, while at other times it is the catalyst for success. At all times, it is an item of concern for the coach.

Another interesting and very real conflict is time. The time needed for the coaching and the time needed for family, including an illness of the author’s father, is related by Bloom in a very realistic manner. This is a real concern for anyone who has coached and has a family. Bloom was very astute in relating this throughout the book. He gives us the true picture which requires a great deal of honesty on his part. This one item makes this a great book for upcoming, young coaches to read.

This is not a book to read in order to glean workouts for one to use in coaching their own team. But, there is an underlying philosophy throughout the book that one who is astute enough can see will add immensely to any program. It will give a basic approach and leave a wide range of variation for anyone wanting to pick out information to use in coaching.


In this story of a New Jersey coastal team, one can follow the tale of the different young men working to mold into a team. The coach guides the various personalities through the high points and low points of the off-season and season. He wins some and loses some. He has doubts. He has disappointments. He has success. He deals with academics, disinterest, disparity, and immaturity. He has a knack of recognizing the problems and has the patience to deal with them. This is an important reason for the success of the team.

Read the book if you like running. It doesn’t matter if you want to coach or just know more about it. Even for non-runners, the book is good in its relationships between a teacher and students, in this case a coach and athletes. You can read it as a very good story, or you can read it to find deeper meaning. Either way, it will be one of the best books you will read on running.

“This is where guts and biochemistry meet. The chemistry has been figured out. Guts are another story.”                                                                  Marc Bloom                                                                                                                                                Commenting on a cross-country race

By: Richard Westbrook

There was a time when I believed that right was the strongest force in the world; and that right defeated wrong every time.  The horseman in the white hat was always victorious over the horseman in the black hat.  Light subjugated dark.  I was taught to make sure I was right before forging ahead, then stick by my convictions, and everything would be for the best.

Time was when I thought I could be the best.  I thought I could win.  It would just be a matter of time.  If I did everything right, worked hard enough, then winning and being the best would be attained.

At one time I thought the world to be clear cut and well defined.  It was easily detectable what was good and what was bad.  Good and evil.  It was pretty easy to determine which was which.  It was as clear as right and wrong.

But, as I grew into the world, blue skies turned to dark clouds.  I discovered that right didn’t always win.  There were forces on the darkside that, at times, were stronger than light.  Good was not always victorious.  Sometimes, good was the victim.

I found that I could not always win.  No matter how hard I worked, I might not win.  Thinking I was right and working hard did not prevent my opponent from being better.  Winning was not always under my control.  There were other forces out there.

I changed as I grew.  I became involved in more and varied pursuits.  That was part of my education both formal and informal.  I learned from a lot of people.  Some of those teachers taught from the church, some taught from manual labor, some taught from schools, some taught from the family.  Whether I realized it or not, learning was happening everywhere.  Living and growing was being a student.

The simple look into life from the simplicity of a child faded.  Things became complicated.  What I wanted to be real truth was but a ray of light into each day.  How much light was determined by things I didn’t understand at the time.  But, more understanding was discovered as I learned, as I grew into the world.

The world gave me people to deal with on a daily basis.  People I had to try to understand.  Some of those people became friends and some became enemies.  Some were just passing by.  Still, good and right and darkness were intertwined in those people.  Discovering which was where was a problem.  Learning to deal with it was a different problem.

Authority was a door I encountered on a more intense level as I matured.  Teachers, coaches, bosses were just a few that presented different problems.  At times, life was less enjoyable because of them, and life was also more enjoyable because of them.  School, college, work, daily life gave opportunities to learn to cull the bright days from existence…to live more in the light than the dark.  But, barriers were always out there.

Change was still happening.  I was alive, and I knew it.  I relished it.  Change was becoming the watchword of the decade when I was in college.  My life grew from the pacific 1950’s into the torrid 1960’s.  I was changing just like everything around me seemed to be changing.

I was latching on to new ideas.  Some of these came from enlightened professors in my classes.  Others came from sources outside the classical educational realm.  I was soaking in new ideas in all the reading I could find.  These reads dealt with educational ideas, recreation, and athletics.  Since I was majoring in physical education and wanted to coach, I was intensely interested in some of these seemingly “off the wall” ideas…because it was a change from the status quo.

Even though there were a lot of things in the 60’s that I rejected, the openness to new ideas in athletics fascinated me.  I had learned the traditional approach; now, I was a child of the 60’s in learning new things.  It was exciting.  It was change.

Time moved on.  The following decades brought stability lacking in the 60’s.  There was less change.  This was interpreted to be a good thing by a lot of people.  I was settled in to teaching and coaching and raising a family.  Surviving in our society.  I became a victim of a changeless regime.  Status quo.

I’m lucky in that I recognized this situation.  I wondered if I would become a fatality of the status quo.  Was I figuratively dying?  I needed answers to questions unanswered.

This scenario happened to a lot of people during this era.  Some buckled; some survived; some thrived.  Those who felt the world had changed too fast and then too slow buckled.  Those who tried to move with the rhythm of change survived.  Those who observed societal changes but chose their personal changes thrived.  They were the lucky ones…or, the prepared ones.  They are the ones who are thriving today as our world once again accelerates change.

Changing fast or changing slow or not changing at all has always presented personal problems to society members.  Within the sea of change, be it fast or slow, is needed a home base, a place of solidarity.  If one has this, then one can face any change that is presented…and, it will be presented.  We hear about it all the time.  The change is perhaps the major stressor in our lives.  On the street, we refer to this problem as “stress.”

Our society is inundated by various methods to deal with this onslaught of change, stress.  We have TV programs that want to teach us how to cope.  Bookstores are loaded with solutions to the problem.  Agencies and organizations exist to help us survive the situation or to survive the problem the situation causes, such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or obesity.  We pay money to buy the secret solution from unproven sources.

It may seem odd to a lot of our society members that our chosen activity cuts to the core of the secret of dealing with the big problem.  Running distance has been referred to “the Western form of meditation.”  The East gave us various forms of introspection and meditation to calm the inner world so the real world could be dealt with effectively.  The West gave us a work ethic that help put our country in the forefront, and gave us individual problems.

In our modern times, the West and our country in particular has given the masses the simple gift of distance running.  This was “jogging” in its earlier formative years.  Now, with our running, we find the best relief from the stressor that change represents. In our running, we have found a way to deal with all the changes our society throws at us in this technological age.

When I go for a run, I again experience a world in which right is the strongest force.  Good is dominant.  Light kicks ass over darkness.  My running simplifies my life no matter how much change is happening.  That simplicity is hand-in-hand with the pursuit of happiness as a life goal.

Running cannot progress if one does it incorrectly.  No matter what, doing it right will cause progression.  Even if one thinks the running is not good enough, it is still right if one is getting better.  “Proof in the pudding,” so to speak.  This correctness carries over into moral bounds.  Running is the right thing for the human body to do.  The conscience is activated through running because of the moral picture of the world that is presented to the runner.

The world of good is opened when I run.  No matter how bitter I may feel starting the run, I see the world as a better place after the miles pass.  I tend to see good things happening and see the beauty in the world around me.  The rhythmical activity causes the brain to tune in to “feel good” thoughts that in turn influence how I see the world.

I am a child when I run.  Running is a seemingly simple action, and that simplicity takes me unconsciously back to “once upon a time.”  There the world is again clear cut.  Happiness is found in the simplicity.  Movement initiates this manifestation.  As miles pile up, the mind is in its base level of existence.  The mind will reduce the world to a simple level.  Running, breathing steadily at an increased rate, muscles repeating the action, the body being stressed in evolutionary means, takes me to a focused level of non-focus to the point that I am living as a human is meant to live.  When I am running, that is easy to see and understand.  It is simple.

That may be why I run.


“Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance.  Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner.  He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs.  He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment.  Runners only get promoted through self-conquest.”

Noel Carroll

I was in college when I started to run seriously.  Before that, I only ran when I had to (except for a “volunteer” mistake in high school) and stopped as soon as possible.  I think that was about 100 years ago.  Seems like it, anyway.

But, I remember that first serious run.  It was winter, and there was some left over snow on the ground where I was at the time in Clarksville, Tennessee.  I was going to run around the main campus of Austin Peay State University.  As far as I could calculate the distance of that long run, it was a half-mile.  I know what you’re thinking… that was a big jump to run that far.  But, I was fearless.

I dressed for the cold weather, and, then got to the most important part of the preparation.  That would be the shoes.  I needed shoes that would give me some cushioning, friction in the snow and ice, and comfort.  Being a physical education major and knowledgeable about athletics, I immediately dug out my trusty pair of “Hush Puppy Desert Boots.”  These remarkable shoes were deemed “desert boots” because of their design which consisted of a thick crepe rubber sole and a suede leather upper that reached up to the little bump on each side of the ankle.  Those babies were just what I needed for the snow and ice.

That run progressed into many more consistent runs and into the spring.  I had noticed that some of my peers who were distance runners in track didn’t do their runs in Hush Puppies.  They had shoes with three stripes on the side.  They looked a little more streamlined than my clunky Puppies.  I explained my running in Puppies and asked about their shoes.

When they got up from rolling in the floor laughing to the point I thought they were going into a seizure, they told me to get “real” running shoes.  That would be the Adidas Italias.  They were white with green stripes.  The sole was slightly grooved and was about half as thick as my Puppies.  The problem was that I could not buy them in Clarksville.  So, I had to go to a sporting goods store in Nashville, Tennessee to find them.  And, they were the only store that had them in western Tennessee.  But, I found them.  I got ‘em.  Then, I felt more like a “real” runner.

The Italias did feel different from my Puppies.  They felt better.  They were lighter, and the cushioning was denser and more responsive.  I was just worried that the thinner sole would wear out a lot sooner than the Puppies.  My track friends told me that they just used theirs’ for running and not for walking to class and stuff.  That would make the shoes last longer.  So, that’s what I did even though I knew I didn’t look as cool without the Italias on my feet.  With my strong runner’s self-discipline kicking in, I wore my Puppies to class.  My Italias were worn only for running where I was looking cool to all those who saw…well, to hardly anyone.

Other running shoes were out there.  New Balance had a leather upper and ridged-sole shoe that looked like a fake golfing shoe.  Converse had a crepe-rubber soled shoe with a cloth upper.  Puma had a shoe with a sole as hard as a rock.  Then, there were sneakers, tennis shoes, bowling shoes, and army boots that filled the gap.

I continued in this mode until I got my first teaching and coaching job in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.  During this time, a local sporting goods store gave me a new pair of running shoes to wear and then recommend them to the team I was coaching.  Those shoes were the first Nike shoes with the waffle soles. They felt great.  My runners loved them.  Before long, just about everyone who ran had feet encased with Nikes.Nike+Logo

That started the fast train of evolution in running shoes.  Nike gained in popularity.  Adidas and Puma fought to hold them off in sales.  Tiger, as they were called then, became Asics and claimed a steady niche in the market.  Reebok had an on-off affair with popularity among distance runners.

Nike sponsored research in runners footstrike and biomechanics of the running gait.  Information was gathered from the running camps around the nation.  Soon, they sponsored camps and continued their research.  Other companies followed suit.

The result of this was that the running shoe became a thick soled, higher heeled behemoth.  All companies had their model that seemed to follow the same prototype.  One radical model came out and lasted only a few years and was very different than the direction of the popular shoes of the time.  That was the Lydiards which were designed by New Zealand Coach Arthur Lydiard.  He had the idea that the shoe companies were ruining the running shoe by making them too protective and interfering with the natural action on the human foot during running.  His shoe had the heel and forefoot close to the same level instead of the heel jacked up higher than the forefoot.  The sole was thinner.  The shoes were more expensive than the popular lines and lasted only a few years.

My running was mostly in Nikes.  I am probably an efficient runner because I have had very few injuries during my many miles.  I think this was the case in spite of the shoes I was wearing.  Presently, my shoes of choice in no particular order are Brooks Flow, Brooks Flow 2, Newton Gravity, and Brooks Glycerin 9.  I’m still running in Nike Free covering three models.  But, I seem to gravitate toward the Brooks and Newtons.


One of my favorite books (running or otherwise) is Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run, A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen.  In this book, the evolution of the running shoe was addressed by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University.

Dr. Lieberman said, “A lot of foot and knee injuries that are currently plaguing us are actually caused by people running with shoes that actually make our foot weak, cause us to over-pronate, give us knee problems.Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented by Nike, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet, and had much lower incidence of knee injuries.”

He continued with the following, “Humans really are obligatorily required to do aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy, and I think that has deep roots in our evolutionary history.  If there’s any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it’s to run.”

Evidence is given in this book pointing to the fact that as running shoes have become more “technologically”advanced, the incidence of running injuries has increased.  Perhaps, this has given fuel to the barefoot running craze we are experiencing now.  And, I’m sure, it has motivated the major running shoe companies to come out with their “minimalist” line in which the shoes have the heel lower to the ground and encourages the footstrike to be midfoot instead of on the heels. They also have less corrective measures built in to the shoe.  These lines of shoes are gaining in popularity.

In my constant layman’s research into ways to improve my running and my athletes’ running, I have evolved into some form or biomechanical changes that seem to help with consistency and injury prevention.  Along with this, I have gravitated toward the shoes mentioned earlier as my shoes of choice.  Even the old Lydiards that were previously mentioned as being radical to their times, were a favorite of mine.  I had to stop using them because they became unavailable.  But, it all fits in to where I am today with the running shoe.

I have always told my runners to go back to an old pair of comfortable running shoes when they suffer an injury.  I found out through experience that this would speed healing or do away with the pain entirely.  The old shoes would be worn down enough to actually promote a more natural footstrike.  The built-in corrections were broken down after so many miles.  The results were positive…probably not what the shoe companies would want to hear.  Again, this is a positive for the minimalist movement.

So, it kind of seems that a runner should get the shoe that seems most comfortable to him or her when they try them on and run a few steps.  And, the cheaper shoes may just do that…except for the Newtons with their freakish cost. But, the Newtons may last a lot longer than the other shoes.  I do not know that at this writing because I am presently using Newtons on and off so the mileage is not very high.  I do know  that I have just put 1000 miles on my first pair of Nike Frees…and I am still using those on and off…and they still feel good.

Nike Frees, 1000 mile shoes and still going

Nike Frees, 1000 mile shoes and still going

Hmm…That doesn’t fit in to what the shoe companies recommend as the life of their shoes.  Most of those recommendations tell us to stop our running in those shoes at about 300 miles.  Then, go buy another pair.  Maybe, they have a different motivation in the form of dollar signs.

I guess the bottom line is for each runner to analyze their running in relation to the shoes they are wearing.  Don’t listen to the shoe reps when they are telling you that you need a particular shoe to correct a myriad of problems you didn’t know you had.  That rep is telling you what he has been told to tell you.  You know your running better than they do, so do your own analysis, and you will probably be better off.  Might even save some money.

This is not to totally disregard all the professional advice given to runners about their shoes.  But, if all their advice was correct, why is the injury rate percentage for runners not getting less?  Why were the pre-1972 runners injured less?  Why do some primitive runners who do not have the “advantage” of the modern running shoes, seem to not experience stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, knee injures, and all that stuff the experts tell us we suffer because we pronate too much?

According to Dr. George Sheehan, each runner is an experiment of one.  We can usually determine our injuries and do what is required to solve the problem…without the super running shoe guaranteed to protect you from everything.  Just be a thinking runner and tap into what you feel.

Richard Westbrook

As we become increasingly involved in technology, science, and business, we should not lose that instinct, that feeling for the earth. Running is a very beautiful way to bring out those healthy feelings.”

Bill Rodgers

Marathon runners