1 2 4

VCM Champ Zablocki OnTheLevel

On May 12th, Chris Zablocki won the marathon at the Cox Providence Rhode Races with a 2:28. Just two weeks later, there he was winning the Vermont City Marathon with a 2:18:24. His legend seems to grow with each victory. By last count I had heard that Chris was winning two marathons every weekend and his PR was down to a 1:55. Yup, things were starting to get Bill Brasky-esque. We needed to get to the bottom of it. Plus, with an effort like that at VCM, we had to find out more about that race too.

574445_580643265289436_2033129494_nSo just how many marathons have run in 2013? How many of those did you win?

Five (Tallahassee, Albany (GA), Virginia Beach, Providence, Vermont City)

I’ve seen some impressive times for you, was one of those your PR?

Got a PR in VA Beach (2:17:49)

What were you thinking going into this, knowing that Matt Pelletier had won the race four times previously and that he was ready to contend again?

This was the race I was ready to put everything into. I’d been getting ready since October when Matty P asked me if I wanted to race again after Hartford.

What, if anything, did you change in your race strategy to adjust for the weather?

The weather was nice, just a little too wet. I can’t run marathons in hot weather, so I kept my usual strategy of saying a prayer to not hit the wall and going for it. I just followed my old college coach’s advice he gave to the team: “Don’t thinnk too f*&$ing much”. I just thought about beating Matt.

At what point did you realize that you had it in the bag?

I knew I had it in the bag after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t have enough energy to take a good look back, and the last time I beat Matty P it turned out he was only one second behind at the finish line so I expected the same.

With all the racing you’ve done this year, did you lose a lot of training time to tapering and recovery?

I usually run 15 or 20 miles the day before most races except big ones like Vermont and VA Beach, so I don’t lose much training to tapering. I only need a day off from running to cross train after racing marathons that aren’t all out, so that hasn’t hurt much either. Plus it helps create a good monthly training cycle.

What will you be focusing on in the warmer summer months? 

For summer months, I like doing road races. Little Compton is one of my favorites because it’s a great course and then there is an awesome beach to hang out at after. My old teammate Glenn Randall and I are hoping to qualify for the World Mountain running championships. The race is on my birthday, and top six get to go race in Poland. I’ve never been there but I’d like to so I can see all my relatives I’ve never met.

That’s a pretty good peek into an intense, high-level training and racing cycle. Reminds of us of Mike Wardian a little bit. Speaking of Wardian, we just had to share this shot from Scott Mason. Mike certainly knows how to celebrate at the finish line.


Courtesy of Scott Mason.

The Ultimate Wachusett Post

We cast a wide net for coverage of the Wachusett Mountain Race 10k, and boy did we get back quite a bit. Brandon Newbould (Whirlaway), who finished second overall, delivered a tight summary of the day’s action:

Unseasonable conditions at Wachusett mountain failed to suppress the vigor and playfulness typical of the New England mountain-racing scene. While complaints were plentiful in the pre-race lines for the outhouses, they were expressed with a laugh and ceased in the warm-up. The cold, rainy conditions could hardly differ more from those of the first race of the series three weeks prior, Sleepy Hollow. The course was also a departure from the brushy ski-mountain style of the opening race, and a change from last year’s Wachusett course. Racers started at the same line, 300’ below the parking lot at the bottom of Mile Hill Rd, but this time followed the asphalt all the way to the summit. Downhill-racing was featured as the second half of the race took runners back down the auto road, gradually traversing the mountain to the cat-track and finish line behind the lodge.

The race at the front was hotly-contested and close all the way to the finish line. A lead pack quickly formed on the initial climb, including eventual winner Eric Macknight, strong auto-road climbers Kevin Tilton and Jim Johnson, Brandon Newbould, and some newcomers to the mountain scene.  Near the summit, Macknight broke the pack open and was pursued by Jacob Barnett, who engaged in a back-and-forth furious race down the mountain with Newbould, eventually finishing in third place for an impressive debut, with Macknight only twenty seconds ahead in the winning position. The pack came in quickly after them.

In the women’s race, Whirlaway’s Christin Doneski raced strongly up the mountain and appeared to be on-course for a second mountain victory in as many races. She was shocked on the downhill however, first by WMPD’s Abby Mahoney and soon after by Kristina Folcik. All three women finished in succession, separated by only 22 seconds.

Saturday’s Bretton Woods Fells Race promises more exciting racing with yet another different style of course and racing. As a fells race, runners will pursue 6 checkpoints spread out at the top and bottom of the mountain, but will be permitted to navigate their own path to each checkpoint in order.  The rough distance is close to 8M, allowing plenty of time for racing excitement.

Dave Dunham came in eleventh place and was the second masters runner (behind top masters runner Todd Callaghan). Dave provided us with a little more info about the course and the field:

The new course seemed to be a hit; it featured a steady climb of 1,200’ over the first 3 miles and a drop of 1,100’ over 3.2 miles. Due to construction, this was the first time the course has gone to the summit since 2008. Wachusett is one of the six races in the USATF NE mountain series and typically has the largest field. This year the race had 297 finishers despite wind, rain and temperatures in the forties.

As you read in Brandon’s opener, Eric Macknight (also of Whirlaway) won the race and finished with a 35:50. For his efforts he had this to say:

This was a big confidence booster against some good competition in the mountain series. The course changed to more pavement this year so I thought of it as more of a wicked tough road race. The game plan was to hold back the first 4 miles then push to the end. After 2 miles, I threw in a small surge and I opened up a gap. I rolled with it and hit the summit in the lead. After the summit, I surged hard and just kept redlining to the end. I was mostly running in fear that I was gonna be caught.

5.5 mi in at Wachusett, courtesy of Bob Jackman/Scott Mason.

5.5 mi in at Wachusett, courtesy of Bob Jackman/Scott Mason.

Eric finished second at Sleepy Hollow and now sits atop the overall standings, although Newbould is lurking right behind him. Abby Woods Mahoney was making her 2013 mountain series debut:

Mt. Wachusett was my first mountain race since having my daughter last August. Up/downhill races are my favorite. I was happy to have an up/down course for my first race back! I ran in third place for most of the race. Christin Doneski took the lead on the uphill pretty early on and I was back and forth with Kristina Folick during most of the climb.

When we reached the summit, I was right on Kristina’s heels and figured I’d just bomb the downhill and hope for the best. Evidently, Kristina had the same plan. The paved, wet road was taking a toll on my body and I thought my legs were going to give out a few times. I finally caught and passed Kristina with about 1.5 miles to go. Thankfully, around this point the pavement ended and we went on to dirt road. I knew this part of the course from past years, which helped me focus.

Once we got to the dirt, Christin started getting closer. I started thinking of all the hard work I’ve put in over the past 9 months. I reminded myself that racing feels a lot easier than trying to get back in shape after having a baby. So, I told myself to stop being a wimp and try to catch Christin. With a mile to go, I passed her, but I could hear both women close behind. When we came out of the woods and I saw the finish line I was so happy. I crossed the line with a smile on my face, which does not happen very often! What a race. Both Christin Doneski and Kristina Folick ran super strong. I would have never run that fast without them.

Not a bad series debut, huh? Although Abby won the day, Christin Doneski is still on top of the standings after getting the win at Sleepy Hollow. Christin was the top masters runner and gave the two open runners about a heck of a fight:

I have been beating myself up over this race since Saturday. I had the lead for 4.5 miles. I had hoped since I hit the top first that I could hold off these super strong ladies on the down hill. I was wrong. I am not a great down hill runner, despite running a lot of down hills in training. I have lost more than my fair share of races on the down hill (Gilmanton for example) but I thought I was improving. I did really well on the down hills at Sleepy Hollow this year.

I can’t say what went wrong. When the two young ladies past me, one at 4.5 and one closer to 5 I didn’t die and I didn’t give up, I just couldn’t go as fast as they could. I asked my legs to go faster and they just couldn’t. I am NOT an experienced mountain runner. I have A LOT to learn. I am sure I was not wearing the right shoes, I had forgotten to pack shorts (that has nothing to do with mountain running, just pure stupidity) so I was dressed a little warmer than I would have liked, but honestly I am not sure what happened.

I won’t give up, I’ll keep trying. It was a great race. The weather really wasn’t an issue, it was quite comfortable. I found the first two miles of the course very run-able. The last mile to the summit was quite challenging. The hardest part of the run was the summit until the 4.5 mile point. Running hard and fast on a steep down hill was tough on the body and I just couldn’t lean forward and trust I would stay on my feet. I know I pulled up and stood too upright and I know that hurt me. At 4.5 you hit a great section of dirt road. I was so happy to get there, which is why it was so sad to get passed soon after hitting the dirt road.


First hill at Wachusett, courtesy of Bob Jackman and Scott Mason.

Lastly, we have USATF-NE MUT Chairperson Paul Kirsch to wrap things up for us:

I always enjoy the trip to Wachusett because I get to stay at Dave Dunham’s house the night before- which means an evening of 12 year old jokes, race talk and lots of cats. This time it was complimented by two other North Country friends, Frank Holmes and Kevin Tilton.

On a morning of the race- which felt more like winter than Memorial Day, close to 300 people came out to brave the new course at Wachusett. The morning started with a moment of silence in honor of the Boston Marathon victims. CMS and Race Director John Grenier elected to contribute all of the proceeds of the event to One Fund Boston- a reminder that the connections to the Boston Marathon transcend running disciplines. It was an extremely generous act for them to do this.

This is a fast race- not the best for my skills of running up absurdly unrunnable things faster than people who are faster than me on downhills and flats, but it was still fun. It was great to have a new course, to hit the summit of the mountain, and to see all of the usual suspects.

We are on track to have 100+ mountain goats in the circuit as we head to Bretton Woods on June 2nd for the 3rd race in the circuit. This will be a Fell Race- which is new for everyone in the circuit and I could tell the lack of course markings and checkpoints was a little disconcerting to some. I got a few questions from people about it- they had that look in their eye of “what exactly are we getting ourselves into next weekend?” I of course tried my best to scare the daylights out of them, overhype it and explain to them that at most Fell Races over 20 percent of the racers get lost, never to be found again. OK, not really, just kidding, it will be safe- I actually reminded them that this race will be fun and safe, it will have a marked course for those who are directionally challenged and that not only will it be Tough but it will be having them all crying for their Mother. Get it, “Tough Mother”. heh. I crack myself up…

Who’s up for the Fell Race?

A Run to Remember

Tyler Andrews won the Run To Remember Half Marathon in an incredible new course record of 1:07:02. The old course record belonged to, wait for it, Tyler Andrews. He’s dominating this event. Since this was the first big race in the area since the bombings, more eyes than usual were on this already popular race. Even ESPN was in on it, with a pretty good article about the event and a nice pic of Tyler to go along with it. On the big stage, Tyler came through with a big time performance.

In the days following it we conducted an interview with Tyler to find out a little more about him and how the race unfolded:

For starters, what club do you run for?

Here's Tyler winning the race in 2011, his previous PR.

Here’s Tyler winning the race in 2011, his previous PR.

Well, that’s an interesting question to start with! I actually just graduated from Tufts University, where I ran varsity cross country, indoor and outdoor track. The Run to Remember Half was my first race as a post-collegiate runner and so it was fairly bittersweet for me. I was definitely sad to hang up the Tufts uniform, as the team there was like a family and was a huge defining part of my college experience, but I’m also excited to move on.

So, to get back to your question – I am currently running for STRIVE, which is an organization that I’ve been a part of for a few years. STRIVE organizes community service and athletic training trips for high school students to Kenya and Peru (www.strivetrips.org). I’ve been working as a trip leader for the last few years and recently became an administrator as well. I really love the work I do there, so I’m proud to represent them in racing.

How was it running all by yourself? Was the weather (heat, wind) much of a factor?

I was actually pretty worried about the weather. I remember looking at the forecast the day before and it was supposed to be 39F and rainy and very windy – not what you’d expect for memorial day in Boston! I’ve run this race in 2011 and 2012 as well and it had been sunny and warm those times, so it was a bit of a shock to the system. I was very cold before the race and the first mile, it actually warmed up to probably mid 40s by the middle of the race, so it was quite comfortable for the second half. It ended up being a pretty good day, overall!

How did this year’s race compare to year’s past? Was there a noticeably larger crowd out there supporting you?

I think it was on pretty much everyone’s mind how this was the next big race since the Boston Marathon. It was certainly on mine – both from a logistical and emotional point of view. The security was much tighter at the race, but honestly, I mostly noticed that there was just a feeling of pride amongst the runners. I noticed a lot of runners wearing a back bib with Sean Collier’s number on it, a lot of Boston Strong shirts, pins, etc. It just felt like we were all out there to prove a point, to show that the strong and the good will always overshadow the evil.

There was a pretty emotional moment for me around 5km into the race when we were running down memorial drive and we passed by MIT. There was a huge line of cop cars with lights on and police officers in full dress there standing at attention. I made eye contact with a few of them and tried to give them a nod of respect and I saw that they really noticed that. It was a pretty powerful moment.

And then the rest of the crowd is just unbelievably supportive. One of my favorite things about this race is how supportive everyone in the race is when we’re running on memorial drive. The course turns around on memorial drive just past Harvard square and so we at the front of the race are running back towards the city as the masses are still running out. It’s unbelievably exciting for a few miles as we run by each other and get to absorb all this energy from the field cheering on and encouraging the leaders. I feel like I’m running at the front of the Boston Marathon or something. It’s really an amazing feeling for those few miles.

You broke your old course record, was this also a PR for you?

This was a huge PR for me. The old course record was also my old personal best, from 2011 which was my sophomore year in college. I knew I had a PR in me, but I really wasn’t expecting to run 67 flat. I thought 68 minutes would be a very good day. I was 31’10 at 6 miles (68’05 pace) and at that point after the turn-around, I just started to push the pace and was  running 5-flat pace for a while. I expected to start really slowing down or hitting a wall, but I just never did. I ran a couple of 5’0x miles, but mostly I was feeling great in the second half of the race. With 1 mile to go, I saw I had to run sub 4’40 to break 67 minutes, so I guess I closed in abot 4’42, which I was pretty psyched about.

What other races have you run recently?

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve just finished up my last year of college track. I actually had a pretty disappointing end to my track season, as I failed to qualify for nationals in the 10k after a brutally hot and humid qualifying race at the IC4A championship in which I was 8th in 30’51. I tried again at the ECAC championships at Springfield College, just 6 days later, where I won the 10k in about 31’06, but was also a very hot day and a solo effort and also was not fast enough to qualify me for nationals. My early season time of 30’30 had me at #24 on the national list and so I think I ended up the second guy out of the meet. It was really disappointing at the time, but I was glad to end my college career with a win at ECACs and then with a big PR and win at the half.

What races do you have coming up?

Well, the short answer is I have a ot of rest coming up! I’ve been training and racing hard for 4+ years now and I’m looking forward to taking a bit of both a mental and physical break. I won’t be racing until the end of the summer at the earliest. My focus is probably going to be on long road races for the next 6-12 months. I’d like to get my half time down to around 1’05 before I run a full marathon and hope to debut under 2’20, at the earliest in spring of 2014, but probaby fall of 2014. I’m definitely thinking about the US olympic trials marathon standards (2’18 and 1’05), so those are the long term goals, but for now, I just want to take some rest and focus on my work with STRIVE and get the fire back training-wise.

What’s your training like right now (mileage, etc)?

My training has always been based on increasing the overall training load (be it volume, intensity, frequency) very gradually and continously. I’ve been very careful and consistent with my training for the past 5 years in that I have actually never had a running injury which forced me to miss a more than a day’s training (I did miss my junior XC season due to a sprained back from moving furniture into my apartment…) Overall, though, I’ve been unbelievably lucky in my ability to avoid injury and train at a fairly high volume.

A lot of guys may see college as the end of their running career, but I definitely see it as just one piece of a bigger whole. I know I’ll keep running and racing and  (I hope!) improving for years to come. At the end of the day, I’d like to look back at my running career and be able to say that it was time well spent – that I both grew as a person and helped others develop and grow. I think if I can do that then all the 100+ mile weeks will be worth it!

I think we’ll be seeing more of Tyler at the top of race results and on the Level.

Diet of Kenyan Runners

A Scientific Look at the Diet of the World’s Fastest Runners

Guest blog by Jeff Gaudette (RunnersConnect)

diet of kenyan runnersStudying the diets of elite runners can not only be a fun comparison to your own nutritional intake, it can also be a great way to better appreciate and confirm many of the scientifically proven nutritional concepts experts believe help improve performance and health.

And, if we’re going to learn from elites, it makes sense to learn from the best – Kenyan runners.

If you’re not familiar, Kenyan runners of the Kalenjin tribe won approximately 40 percent of all major international middle and long-distance races from 1987 to 1997. Studying the dietary habits of Kenyan runners, who are clearly some of the fastest runners in the world, is a fascinating endeavor.

However, there have traditionally been two problems with studying the dietary habits of Kenyan athletes. First, Kenya is a third world country and thus gathering information from individual runners about their diet isn’t easy. Many elite (and not so elite) runners in the US gladly share their diets through blogs and social media. Unfortunately, you won’t find many Kenyans blogging about their training.

Second, even if when we can find a sample diet from an elite Kenyan runner, that doesn’t answer the question about the dietary principles of a nation as a whole. To really understand how the Kenyan diet works, we need a sampling of many different runners.

Luckily, some recent (at least in terms of scientific literature) studies have tackled this subject and provided some fascinating data about the Kenyan diet as a whole. Even better for the RunnersConect audience, I’ve had the privilege to briefly train and live with some Kenyan runners and have seen their diets in practice.

In this article, we’ll examine the scientific data on the diet of Kenyan runners, break down what it means, and then compare their nutritional intake to that recommended by nutrition experts.

Research on the diet of Kenyan runners

The bulk of our data comes from two studies, the first in 2002 and the second in 2004, which analyzed the diets of a group of Kenyan runners and compared their nutritional intake to traditional endurance athlete recommendations.

In the 2002 study, the researchers simply asked a large group of Kenyan runners to recall their diet for the past 24 hours. The second study in 2004 was a little more thorough and followed a group of ten runners and recorded their food intake for seven days. As such, the data we’ll focus on for this article will come primarily from this second study and we’ll use the 2002 study to compare and verify accuracy.

What time of day did the Kenyans eat and train

The Kenyan runners were given access to as much food as they wanted and allowed to eat whenever they felt hungry. Generally, the elite runners fell into the pattern of eating five times a day. Typically, their meals broke down as such:

8am – Breakfast
10am – Mid-morning snack
1pm – Lunch
4pm – Afternoon snack
7pm – Supper

For reference, the Kenyan’s trained two times a day. The morning session began at 6 am. This was their longer, more intense session. On non-workout days, they ran nine to fifteen miles starting easy and progressively getting faster as they warmed-up. Hard workout days were your typical VO2max or tempo run sessions.

In the afternoon, they ran an easy four to five miles. All the athletes were training for the Kenyan Cross Country Championship, which is 12km. Therefore, they were not marathon training.

Daily macronutrient intake of Kenyan runners

Not surprisingly, a majority of the calories in the Kenyan diet came from carbohydrates. In the ten runners studied, 76.5 percent of daily calories were consumed as carbohydrates.

Given their body statistics, this meant each runner was consuming about 10.4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight.

Moreover, given how they spread out their eating times and training sessions, each athlete was consuming about 600 grams of carbohydrate per day, with almost 120 grams of carbohydrate at every meal.

Protein intake amounted to 10.1 percent of calorie intake. That equals roughly 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

About 13.4 percent of daily calories came from fat

How does a Kenyan diet compare to recommendations for endurance athletes

Despite not knowing much about the science of sports nutrition, the diet of these Kenyan runners was surprisingly close to that recommended by sports nutritionist.


Most sports-nutrition experts recommend that runners who are training at high mileage consume about nine or ten grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass per day. While an average of 10.4 grams is just a little over the recommended consumption, it’s clear the Kenyans were following scientific protocol without realizing it.

This number may seem like a lot (and it is for sedentary people), especially given the latest trends towards Paleo and less carbohydrate-rich diets. However, as athletes trying to compete at the highest level of their sport, replenishing glycogen stores and fueling their body for recovery is essential to the high-intensity training they were conducting.


In regards to protein, the Kenyans’ diet was once again closely in line with the recommendation of top sports-nutritionists, who suggest consuming 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Since these runners were training for a 12km distance, not a marathon, the 1.2 grams they were consuming is appropriate for their muscle recovery and rebuilding needs.

What types of foods did they eat

This particular study didn’t break down an exact daily diet, but the researchers did provide data for the amount of calories from many of the most commonly consumed foods. Plus, having trained with some Kenyans myself, I have a pretty good understanding of what these foods were. The data may surprise you.

  • Sugar – plain sugar – accounted for 20 percent of daily calories. The Kenyans love their tea (in fact, tea consumption was greater than water consumption – 1.243 liters per day on average) and they love putting lots of milk and sugar in their tea. Having trained with some Kenyans myself, I can attest to just how much tea they drink and how much milk and sugar they use. It’s incredible.However, a large amount of this sugar also comes from fruits. Immediately after most runs, Kenyans consume some type of fruit, typically watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. The simple sugar and water from the fruit speeds glycogen to their muscles post workout.
  • Ugali supplied the greatest number of total calories, making up 23 percent of the daily diet. Ugali is simply a dish of maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water. Kenyan runners eat this for dinner almost every night. Generally, it’s mixed with a chicken or beef stew and vegetables.When made correctly it actually taste better than it sounds. My college teammate Jordan and I once tried living off Ugali for an entire summer. Unfortunately, our cooking skills sucked and it tasted terrible. But, we were broke so we ate it anyway.
  • While so far, the diet of a Kenyan runner looks rather unhealthy due to our “sugar is bad” culture, Kenyans do eat rather healthy. About 86 percent of daily calories came from vegetable sources, with 14 percent from animal foods. Moreover, they didn’t have access to junk food (at least in the training camp) that most Americans do.

If you’re looking to eat like a Kenyan runner

While the Kenyan runner diet runs contrary to general recommendations for non-runners and our societies shifting perspective on sugar and carbohydrates, the Kenyan diet is actually a good framework to follow if you’re running a lot of miles and training hard.

Their diet is in close step with that recommended by leading sports-nutritionist and it’s also made up of mostly natural, whole foods. With a high carbohydrate intake, adequate protein ingestion, and perfect timing of meals, the top Kenyan runners are eating optimally — doing the things at the dinner table which are necessary for them to perform at the world’s highest level.

If you’re just getting started or trying to lose weight, the diet is probably a little too high in carbohydrates and simple sugars for your needs. However, you can still take a page from the Kenyan runner and time your meals, eat whole foods, and fuel your muscles for recovery.

Bonus material

Here are some great videos that discuss or demonstrate some of the dietary habits of Kenyan runners.

Thanks once again to Jeff Gaudette and RunnersConnect for sharing this great material with us. Be sure to check out their blog, which pretty much has all of your technical running needs covered.

Mountain Series Standings

5.5 mi in at Wachusett, courtesy of Bob Jackman/Scott Mason.

5.5 mi in at Wachusett, courtesy of Bob Jackman/Scott Mason.

Two of the mountain series races are in the books for this year already, and the third one is approaching fast (this Sunday, Bretton Woods Fell Race). The men’s standings are Whirlaway heavy up top:

Eric MacKnight – 195.55
Brandon Newbould – 194.19
Jim Johnson – 191.50

Todd Callaghan is in 4th place with 188 points, and he also just so happens to be the top masters runner. The women’s standings look like this:

Christin Doneski – 199.15
Karen Encarnacion – 181.78
Jacqueline Shakar – 176.76

Katharine Jenkins is the top open runner with 157.17, good enough for seventh place overall. While the open men are standing on top of the proverbial mountain, it’s the masters and senior women who are reigning supreme early on in the series. Open runners Abby Mahoney and Kristina Folcik certainly made some noise, finishing 1-2 respectively, in their first race of the series at Wachusett.

Thanks to Dave Dunham for putting this together. You can find the above info and more on his USATF New England Mountain Series blog.

Foods to Soothe Your Aching Body

What You Can Eat to Help Ease the Pain 

By Kathy Ireland, MS, RD, LDN

Ice baths turning you blue? Is the foam roller making your eyes water? While I won’t promote leaving these muscle-soothing devices behind, there are a few foods out there that we can add to our diets to help soothe our aches and pains.

David Grotto, RD, LDN recently published The Best Things You Can Eat: For Everything from Aches to Zzzz, the Definitive Guide to the Nutrition-Packed Foods that Energize, Heal, and Help You Look Great. I picked up a copy for a fresh look on better ways to help my clients improve their diets. The book lists the top 5-7 foods you can eat for greatest amounts of certain nutrients and to soothe certain conditions. I thought renners would be interested in learning more about the foods “for numbing aches and pains.” All of them are rich in nutrients that reduce inflammation and pain. So, here are three that topped the charts:

cherries_ready_to_use_198178Cherries. If you’ve been to any type of running expo in recent years, you’ve certainly seen a booth promoting cherries, most likely in the dried or juice form. 1 cup of fresh cherries per day, Grotto cites, have been found to reduce pain as effectively as some anti-inflammatory drugs. This is the equivalent of 1/4 cup dry cherries or up to 1/2 a cup of cherry juice.

How to make them part of your diet: Fresh cherries are easy to pop in your mouth and enjoy. In fact, the hardest part could be limiting yourself to just one cup. Dried cherries can easily be added to oatmeal or cereal or eaten with some nuts as a snack. Frozen cherries can be thawed and mixed into your yogurt or blended into a smoothie. Delicious!

Ginger. A teaspoon of fresh ginger daily has been found effective in reducing exercise in-duced aches and pains.

How to make it part of your diet: Try making ginger tea by grating a quarter inch of it into a mug and adding boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes. Add honey, lemon, cinnamon, and/or nutmeg to get it to a flavor you enjoy. Mix it with garlic and add it to a stir fry, marinade, or salad dressing. Add ground ginger to your sweet potatoes, squash, or morning oatmeal.

Salmon. You don’t need me to tell you that salmon is good for you. You’ve been hearing that for years. Its omega-3s and vitamin D reduce inflammation and reduce joint soreness. All it takes is 3 oz. (the size of a deck of cards, or in more modern terms, the size of an iPhone) to get the benefits.

How to make it part of your diet: Again, you know this already. Salmon is delicious, baked, roasted, or sautéed with a variety of rubs or marinades, or just all by itself. Instead, I’ll make a plug for the lesser known canned salmon. I particularly love canned red sockeye salmon which is wild caught—and I love that I can keep this as a staple in my cabinet without worrying about it going bad. Flake it up and add it to a salad or pasta dish. Mix it up with your favor-ite burger ingredients to make salmon patties that can be eaten in a bun, or substitute it for crab in your favorite crab cake recipe. Yum!

Other foods Grotto includes in his list are hot peppers and turmeric. Olive oil and berries were also worthy of honorable mentions. So, next time you’re about to reach for the ibu-profen, consider reaching for some of these foods instead.

Kathy Ireland is Level Renner’s resident nutritionist. This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr issue of Level Renner.

Charles River Running’s Summer Trail Series

Want to run some trails? Don’t how where or how? Look no further. Charles River Running is hooking you up with everything you need to get in touch with mother nature this summer. This is a great opportunity to meet up with fellow runners and log some miles. To boot, Salomon will be there for tomorrow’s trail run at Adams Farm. Everyone gets to test drive the XR Mission road to trail shoe. So take a short break from our website and say hi to the wonders of the great outdoors.


charles river running trail series 5.28.13


If you would like to promote your event or product via a blog post, contact us.

Late Night VCM Primer

The 25th Annual KeyBank Vermont City Marathon is only hours away now, but for all you night owls out there we thought we’d sneak in a quick one about it. Amongst the thousands of runners in the field, we’ll highlight two here: the Reigning Champion and Last Hero and Only Hope

pelletier m vcm mason resize

Matty P on his way to his 4th VCM victory, courtesy of Scott Mason.

The Reigning Champion is, of course, Matt Pelletier. Matty P won it comfortably last year with his 2:21:30, and he’s actually a four time champion there. Ahead of the 2013 race, Matty said:

The weather sucks up here. Totally not conducive to fast times. Weather tomorrow not looking much better. Low 40′s, raining, and steady winds of 20mph. Tomorrow is going to be a battle of attrition. I wish I could say I was looking forward to it. It’s one of those days when you feel like the last 6 months were all for nothing. The upside is we all have to run in the same bad weather. We’ll just have to see how it goes. Hoping to not dip too far into the well too early and fall apart at the end like I’ve done in the last two.

Despite the ‘falling apart’, he did quite well in his last two marathons (W in Vermont and a 3rd place finish at Hartford, both in 2012).

Lastly, we turn to Josh Ferenc, aka the Last Hero and Only Hope:

This race is a “cuss you” to my whole being sick. I dont feel great but I’m using this as part of my kick start to kicking ass and competing. This is for my being and all my beings that are a part of me.

This will be just the beginning!

Also, I just want to see if I can… Loyal Level Legionnaire!

Josh ran a 2:30:50 last year and finished fourth.

How will they do tomorrow? The good news is that we don’t have to wait long to find out. If you already raced today then we don’t have to wait long to find out about that too. Check in with the Level with your pics and results and let us know how it went.

Choosing the Right Running Shoes

A Look at How Trainers Affect Training and Running Performance

Guest blog by Matt PhillipsRunnersConnect

running shoesFollowing last week’s article “Foot Types & Foot Wear,” I have had quite a few runners ask me the same question, with words to the effect of: “Ok, if the whole overpronation shoe model thing has no evidence, what the hell do I run in!?”

A very good question! But first things first…

Why do we need running shoes at all?

Relax, I’m not going to start preaching about barefoot running (although I’m not going to dismiss it either). But in order to discuss how we decide which trainers are suitable for us, it is useful to re-evaluate exactly what we are buying them for.

With that in mind, over the last couple of days I have been asking the runners I meet what they are looking for when they buy trainers. Collectively, the majority of them produced the following three reasons: protection,supportcushioning.


If by protection we are referring to avoiding glass & syringes, then wearing something on our feet obviously makes sense. This may well be the main contributing factor as to why, at least in my experience, it is rare to see runners training or racing in no shoes on at all.

Many of us could probably find less hazardous routes on which to entertain the theoretical benefits of barefoot running, but until clearer evidence supports such theories, most of us will probably pass.  However, if we’re talking about protection from running on hard surfaces then we are essentially looking at cushioning (more on that shortly).


By support, most people are referring to stopping the medial arch of the foot “collapsing,” which brings us back to the whole supination/neutral/pronation paradigm used by most running shops to prescribe you a “suitable” trainer after watching you walk or run for a couple of minutes (or in some cases just standing you on a pressure pad, which in itself has no connection to how your foot acts whilst running). I am sure you are already familiar with the process:

  • If the arch of your supporting foot drops “too much” you are labelled an “overpronator” and assigned a motion-control shoe that will in theory reduce the “overpronation”.
  • If your arch does not drop “enough”, you are said to be an underpronator (or supinator), and assigned a flexible, cushioned shoe to absorb some of the shock that underpronator is said to cause.
  • If you are somewhere in the middle, you are said to have normal pronation and are recommended a “neutral” shoe that in theory provides just the right amount of stability and cushioning.

As we saw last week, this model is heavily flawed and unsupported to date by any evidence. It is important not to let fear of injury or promises of recovery persuade you to be herded into one of the three pens (motion control, stability or neutral) however persuasive the sheepdog/sales person may be!


If you regularly run on hard surfaces like pavements, tracks and treadmills, you would think cushioning makes sense. Running shops can be very quick to stress this point if they “see” you as a heel striker. And yet, studies show (Scott, 1990) that peak loads at typical sites of injury for runners (Achilles, knees, etc.) actually occur during midstance (when your bodyweight passes over the supporting leg) and toe off (when your back leg pushes away from the ground).

These studies suggest that impact force at heel contact has no effect on the peak force seen at typical injury sites.

There is also growing evidence that when faced with higher impact forces from a harder running surface, your body makes natural adjustments to deal with the change in impact force – changes in joint stiffness, changes in the way the foot strikes the ground, and also via a concept called “muscle tuning” (pre-activation of muscles prior to impact).

Based on information received visually and from the previous foot strike, the body adjusts how strongly the muscles in your leg contract before the foot hits the ground again. Imagine jumping on a trampoline – your legs naturally stiffen in preparation for the soft landing.

Now imagine yourself jumping onto concrete – your legs naturally become less stiff in preparation for the hard landing. This natural adjustment is the result of sensory feedback from not only the eyes but also from the feet. In other words, the theory is that sensory feedback from the feet following one foot strike helps prepares the body for the next foot strike. If this is indeed the case, could excessive cushioning at the bottom of a trainer inhibit this natural sensory feedback?

Cushioning & injury prevention

The role that impact actually plays in running injuries is not at all clear. Studies by two highly respected biomechanics researchers, Dr. Irene Davis (Director of the Running Injury Lab, University of Delaware) and Dr. Benno Nigg (Co-Director of the Human Performance Laboratory, University of Calgary) have produced contrasting results.

Whilst Dr. Davis’ research links high impact loading rates with plantar fasciitis and tibia stress fractures, Dr. Nigg has found that overall injury rates are slightly lower among runners with high impact loading rates.

One possible interpretation of the above is that leg stiffness, as we considered earlier, is an important factor with certain injuries. Dr. Davis’ research linked runners who had suffered tibia stress fractures with higher impact forces and higher leg stiffness.

If tibia stress fractures are a consequence of high leg stiffness (for which I hasten to add there is as yet no evidence) then maybe runners susceptible to them should try wearing a less cushioned shoe and run on harder surfaces.

Just as we saw in our “landing on concrete” example earlier, in preparation for the harder surface, the body will reduce leg stiffness, which if the theory is correct could reduce susceptibility to tibia stress fractures.

At this stage it is all theory, and I draw particular attention to the words “maybe” and “try”. Always introduce changes slowly and gradually! Give your body a chance to tell you how it feels about the change before you do any harm to yourself!

So what trainers should I buy?

For those of you still clinging onto the hope that I or indeed anyone is going to be able to give you a structured model for trainer selection, I should probably put you out of your misery. There is no model. But do not despair. See it as liberation as opposed to a hindrance.

Yes, some people are recommended trainers and their injury disappears, but plenty are given the same advice and the injury continues. The journey to injury free running is best started with acceptance & application of the following mantra, as used by running coach James Dunne of Kinetic RevolutionForm Before Footwear.

As far as trainer selection goes, Pete Larson, anatomy professor, writer & runner with self diagnosed shoe obsession sums it up nicely: “I can run in just about anything as long as I’m careful to take things slowly and listen to my body.”

This is what I mean by “liberation.

Part of Pete’s Running Shoe Collection, 2010. (Photo Courtesy of P. Larson)

Part of Pete’s Running Shoe Collection, 2010. (Photo Courtesy of P. Larson)

In my opinion, one of the best things to so far emerge from the barefoot debate is the much larger variety of designs of shoe you can now choose from.

Having seen that heavy cushioning is not necessarily helpful to everybody, you should now hopefully be more confident to test, for example, some lighter trainers. Again, the secret is experimenting to see what feels comfortable for you. Bear in mind that a trainer that suits you for one distance, terrain or speed may not work as well for another.

You could also try trainers with a slightly lower Heel-Toe Drop than you are used to (the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot).

Traditional running shoes have a heel-toe drop of about 12mm. Vibram Fivefingers have pretty much a drop of 0mm. Going straight from 12mm to 0mm is not taking things slowly or listening to your body! There are plenty of 6-10mm transitional trainers on the market which will allow you to experiment more gently.

Though there is as yet no direct evidence for benefits of a lower drop, I personally see much logic in the argument that exposing your feet and legs to varying forces (in a controlled, sensible manner) could potentially make you a stronger runner and reduce injury.

Remember to listen to your body

If you run too far, too often, or too fast in a new pair of trainers, your body will let you know. Many of the running injuries we see in clinic are linked to a runner buying a new pair of trainers and thinking they can pick up their training program from where they left off. It’s more than that. Most runners actually run faster or further the first time they put on their new trainers (we all love new toys!).

  • It is vital to respect the fact that your body will often need time to adjust to a new style of trainer. Put on a minimalistic shoe for the first time and run too far and your calves will soon let you know about it! It’s all about taking it slowly and listening to your body.
  • If you experience a slight discomfort, treat it as a thoughtful message from your body that you need to break the new trainers in a little more gently. Put them away for a while. Go back to your favourite trainers then re-test the new ones with reduced time or intensity.
  • Obviously, if the pain is persistent and affects your running whilst wearing other footwear then get it checked out by a professional, but in my experience most running injuries are the result of either ignoring a warning sign (not listening to the body) or too quick an escalation in frequency, intensity or time.

It may be the shoes, but it’s more likely to be you pushing yourself too much, too soon. Which brings me to my next point…

Use more than one pair of trainers

In order to break in new trainers, you will need to have your all time favorites at hand to wear in between. Your body will warn you if you are doing too much in your new trainers. Listen to it. Put them away for a week, continue with your regular trainers, then go back to the new ones.

Many runners I work with report that exposing their legs & feet to different forces via rotating the trainers they run in leads to (or at least coincides with) less injury. Given that the majority of running injuries are the result of repetitive strain, mixing it up kind of makes sense (and that goes for running surfaces as well). Invest in a few pairs of different style trainers – the chances are you will get your money back by less need for injury treatment!

Have you experienced success by changing to a new style of trainer? Maybe you already rotate different style trainers as part of your running program? We are always keen to hear from you and look forward to reading your comments.

Happy running!

Matt Phillips is a Run Conditioning Coach, Video Gait Analyst & Sports Massage Therapist with over 20 years experience working within the Health & Fitness Industry. Follow Matt on TwitterAnd for more great training, nutrition, maintenance info, check out the RunnersConnect blog.

Post Marathon Recovery

Mag re-issue, by Lesley Hocking

his time of year is exciting for the running community: thousands of runners take to the streets. Whether they go for the glory and spectacle of the Boston Marathon or stick to a local 10k, it’s often the first chance to test the winter’s training before gearing up for a spring racing schedule.

A question that many athletes face in this phase between a hard race effort and a new training cycle is how much time to allow the body to recover before rebuilding or even adding to the training load from the winter. And in that recovery phase, how much activity is too much?

Certainly, there is a balance between sitting on the couch for three weeks after a big race and jumping back into training sessions mere days after a difficult marathon. While no two athletes are alike, there are a few basic tenets that apply to most runners trying to optimize recovery.

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 4.33.21 PM
When a runner hits the wall in a race, feeling spent at the finish line and knowing from muscle pain and soreness that he gave every ounce of effort he had, it’s a safe bet that he should not run the very next day. However, a light walk 12-24 hours later followed by gentle stretching can actually help speed muscle recovery by increasing blood flow to the affected areas. As muscles become less sore, but may still be tight, jogging or cross-training are great ways to increase blood flow without putting extra stress on aching tendons and ligaments. As a general rule, I like to recommend at least three days after a marathon without running.

When choosing a cross-training activity, stick to lowimpact. Muscle soreness is associated with micro-tears in the tissue. All that pounding on the pavement has taken its toll, so stick to the fluidity of elliptical running, swimming, or pool running before entering that kickboxing or hip-hop dance class you’ve been dying to take.

Allow a week to ten days before testing your body with anything resembling a workout. As difficult as this may be at a time when athletes are often highly motivated to build on their success (or learn from disappointment), the body will actually be stronger if it can fully rebuild itself before being broken down again. This rest period may be longer for beginning runners or first-time marathoners who have not accumulated as much lifetime mileage or may not carry high training volumes.

Lastly, when the body regains a lightness in its step and soreness has been replaced with a longing for speed, begin rebuilding with gradual workouts. A tempo run, which is only marginally faster than a regular training run, or a progression run that starts at training pace and gradually accelerates a few seconds per mile are two great options for the first workout after a marathon. When first reintroducing speed work, be sure to warm up and stretch fully, and limit fast running to 10% of the day’s volume.

Lesley Hocking is a regular columnist for Level Renner and coaches at Northeast Running Services. This was originally published in the May/Jun issue of Level Renner. Get your free subscription today!

Contact Form Powered By : XYZScripts.com