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      Hello Everyone,                                                                                                                                                                                                         May 23, 2019        

     In this Issue:


  1. Relay records fall as track crew readies for city championship
  2. Is There Really Such a Thing as Perfect Running Form?
  3. Upcoming Events May 26: 15th Annual Cystic Fibrosis Walk,   June 2: Girls Run
  4. Running Room Run Club Update: 
  5. Track North News







Relay records fall as track crew readies for city championship
by Randy Pascal

When it comes to the SDSSAA Relay Meet, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights remain the class of the city. Thankfully, the Lasalle Lancers are showing signs of challenging the south end elite.

Where just a few years back, the Lo-Ellen clan were on the verge of sweeping all 16 events in the lead-in to the city track and field championships next week, the 2019 results were at least somewhat more evenly split.

In fact, the rest of the field combined just narrowly missed out on matching the Knights total of nine victories, with the Lancers earning five first place ribbons and the St Charles College Cardinals collecting another two.

Still, with all three of the new records that were established on the day being recorded by the young protegees of LOE head coach Colin Ward and his staff, it's not as though the northern track powerhouse has fallen on particularly hard times.

That tone was set early as the Lo-Ellen quartet of Dylann Mazzuchin, Nathalie Marks de Chabris, Alison Symington and Kalila Bachui shaved almost six full seconds off the mark that has stood since 2011 in the Open Girls 4 X 800m relay, covering the distance in 10:12.31.

"That was the goal," noted Symington, the freshman of the crew, making her presence felt as a grade nine newcomer to the team. "We needed 2:34 split times each. I think a couple of us are in the 2:20s, but we were all pretty good."

Even after enjoying a great deal of success on the elementary circuit in prior years, Symington is the first to admit that the track experience at the home of the Knights is something pretty special.

"I came from grade seven and eight at Lo-Ellen, so we had some good training there, but Mr Ward really takes the program to the next level, especially for mid-distance runners," she said. "He uses a lot of Track North training, and just training every day, always with a plan, so that we're really prepared coming into the races."

Symington was back in record breaking form later in the day, joining forces with sibling Amanda Symington, Sophie Moore and Allie Bertrim in the Midget Girls 4 X 400m event. Their clocking of 4:25.41 was enough to dethrone a 2004 Lo-Ellen squad that included the likes of Rebecca Johnston, Natasia San Cartier and Renee Jacques.

The Lo-Ellen boys were certainly not about to be left on the sidelines when it came to rewriting the record book as Kurtis Wennerstrom, Ryan Grant, Logan Spicer and Cooper Fontaine completed two laps of the track in 1:37.06, out-kicking the St Charles team of Liam Cousineau, Chris Innes, Nik Liinamaa and Devon Savignac, whose time of 1:30.10 was also good enough to better the old standard of 1:39.43 (CND - 2016).

For their part, the Lancers enjoyed most of their success in the younger age brackets, sweeping both the Midget Boys and Midget Girls 4 X 100m distances, as well as placing first in the Open Girls 4 X 200m, Midget Boys 4 X 400m and Junior Boys 4 X 400m as well.

Like Symington, Jasmine Savignac of Lasalle is experiencing the high-school competition for the very first time, the grade nine sprinter a key cog on both of the Lancer girl victories. "There's a lot more competition at this level, I find," said Savignac, whose older brother (Devon) was recently selected in the 9th round of the OHL draft by the North Bay Battalion.

"It's just a lot more exciting, you get more interested and stuff." While she is sure to rank among the favourites in the midget girls sprint events later this week, Savignac does acknowledge a definite affinity for the relay alternative.

"I find with relays, you have to depend on your teammates to bring you to first place," she said. "If you're running by yourself, it's all on you, everyone is looking at you." Following is a complete 16-event listing of all of the winning schools, those who indeed, had the eyes of the assembled crowd on them, as they crossed the finish line first:

Open Girls 4 X 800m
Lo-Ellen Park - 10:12.31

Open Boys 4 X 800m
Lo-Ellen Park - 8:39.04

Midget Girls 4 X 100m
Lasalle Lancers - 54.71

Midget Boys 4 X 100m
Lasalle Lancers - 48.96

Junior Girls 4 X 100m
Lo-Ellen Park - 52.69

Junior Boys 4 X 100m
St Charles College - 47.40

Senior Girls 4 X 100m
St Charles College - 55.22

Senior Boys 4 X 100m
Lo-Ellen Park - 47.11

Open Girls 4 X 200m
Lasalle Lancers - 1:59.82

Open Boys 4 X 200m
Lo-Ellen Park - 1:37.06

Midget Girls 4 X 400m
Lo-Ellen Park - 4:25.41

Midget Boys 4 X 400m
Lasalle Lancers - 3:58.73

Junior Girls 4 X 400m
Lo-Ellen Park - 4:43.39

Junior Boys 4 X 400m
Lasalle Lancers - 3:54.40

Senior Girls 4 X 400m
Lo-Ellen Park - 4:27.35

Senior Boys 4 X 400m
Lo-Ellen Park - 3:43.12






Is There Really Such a Thing as Perfect Running Form?
Running experts weigh in on how to know if you should make changes to your mechanics for injury prevention and efficiency.

MAY 16, 2019


As runners, we all consistently take strides to improve our time on the road. We aim for a faster pace, a farther distance, or even just the ability to end a long run feeling like a graceful gazelle instead of a crawling gopher. That’s likely why the proper running technique and how to achieve the perfect take-off and landing remains a hot topic. But should you even focus on your form, switching up how you naturally transfer weight from one step to the next? Will a tweak in your technique get you to the finish line faster, or could it sideline you with an injury?

The truth is, that’s a really tricky question. While you’ve probably heard some tips on proper running form—stand tall with a slight forward lean, arms gliding back and forth as you land softly on your forefoot and take off solid hip extension behind you—everyone’s mechanics vary. So while a few small tricks might be the start of feeling stronger as you stride, there’s a fine line between changing too much, which can lead to new injuries, and finding a few fixes that help you run more powerfully, sans pain. Let’s examine the step-by-step distinction.

How Your Stride Can Lead to Injury (or Not)
On a run, you experience a reactional force every time your foot hits the ground, says Bryan Heiderscheit, P.T., Ph.D., physical therapist and director of the University of Wisconsin Runners Clinic. That force can look different from person to person, depending on performance and mechanics. “When you hit the ground, the body absorbs energy from that force. For instance, your knee bends to help cushion the landing and decelerate the body’s center of mass,” Heiderscheit explains. “In some individuals, you start to see motions that aren’t so helpful to running—the body’s secondary way to absorb energy.” For some, this might include hips dropping to the side, or the trunk leaning side to side, or the knee collapsing inward.

Heiderscheit says we’ve oversimplified what this force reaction looks like in some individuals. People might point out that the impact of a heel striker is much greater than that of a midfoot or forefoot striker. In actuality, it’s just different forces acting on the body, not necessarily greater ones. “If you’re landing on your heel, you’ve lost a lot of ability in the ankle joint to absorb shock, while the ankle is more involved in midfoot or forefoot landing,” Heidersheit says. “That can be a good thing, as another joint absorbs impact, so your knee or hip don’t have to do as much. But it could also be a negative in that if you’re not ready for the ankle to absorb the shock, then the calf muscle and tissues around the ankle get exposed to bigger loads than what they’re ready to take on.” So simply making the switch from heel to forefoot strike doesn’t mean you’ll redistribute the impact. Rather, the adjustment could lead to other problems.

The same thinking applies to pronation. Researchers still debate whether pronation even leads to increased injury risk: One study that looked particularly at shoes helping to control pronation says, yes, those who pronate and run in a shoe that doesn’t control it could have a higher chance of injury. Another says moderate pronation does not increase injury risk, even if wearing a neutral shoe.

“The challenge is that we don’t know when pronation gets to be too much, and pronation may be a fairly minor component to injury risk,” says Heiderscheit. “I think over the years, it’s gotten its own reputation that we need to think about a lot, and I think that has happened in the absence of science.”

When You Should and Shouldn’t Change Your Stride
The minimalist footwear movement certainly had its moment in the past, and it focused on letting your feet run free—no extra cushioning or stable outsoles to keep your toes or heels from moving on their natural path. While it sounds like solid practice in theory, problems arose because most runners didn’t prep their bodies for the change in mechanics that kick in when you swap your cushioned shoes for a more minimal design.

A lot of shoes have a cushioned heel for more protection as you land, especially for those who heel strike. Take that away, and it can lead to more knee or hip problems. Or switch to a midfoot strike to accommodate the shoe, and you might experience more ankle or calf injuries. “However, as long as people make changes slowly, your body is usually able to adapt to some small modifications in footwear or running gait,” says Brett Toresdahl, M.D., assistant attending physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery and research director for the HSS Primary Care Sports Medicine Service. “But the bigger changes bring on injuries.”

Likewise, you don’t want to focus on too many changes at one time. “If we see someone and they have a lot of things going on—a lot of instability, a lot of running faults—we wouldn’t take an aggressive approach, changing a lot of things in their mechanics at once,” says Rondel King, exercise physiologist at New York University’s Sports Performance Center. “If you toss a lot of drills and mechanics at someone, it’s exhausting both mentally and physically. So what drills would be best suited for them as of right now?” Rondel says they choose one or two to focus on, have the runner practice it, then check out what’s happening a few weeks later when they’ve had time to adjust.

What is Mindful Running and How Do You Do It?
While some major changes to a stride (say, changing the foot strike) take some practice and careful viewing, you can easily implement other run cues into your training with little risk of injury, says Colleen Brough, D.P.T., assistant professor of Rehabilitation and Regenerative medicine at Columbia University and director of the Columbia RunLab. Most of these cues require applying your mind to your movement. For example, think about a slight forward lean at the ankles (not a hunched position) to help the glute engage, or literally squeeze the glute on your push-off or engage the core more to keep you stable and upright.

“You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) apply these cues throughout the entire run—try it for maybe 30 seconds at the start or the middle and then on the hills or when you tend to get tired,” says Brough. “Eventually it becomes natural, and you’re better able to engage glute or core muscles.”

If you tend to bounce up and down a lot, which leads to more stress on the joints, Brough suggests another cue: Keep an eye on something in the distance in your line of sight. If you notice it moving up and down a lot, then you need to eliminate some of your vertical bounce. Similarly, paying attention to the noise you make when you land (if you hear a slap slap slap with each footfall) should help you notice whether you need to engage the core more or lean forward slightly to soften the landing.

“The best way to know if [these cues and changes] help is if they alleviate pain on the run. For example, at mile 10 or 15, if you start getting knee pain, and you use the glute push-off cue and the pain goes away,” says Brough. “It also informs you, as the runner, where the likely issue is, and then maybe that’s where you want to start strengthening.” (Keep in mind, all experts mentioned that strengthening your glutes or core alone doesn’t mean they’ll automatically lighten up on the road. You have to think about using them for proper activation—and those are welcome changes to your run form.)

Should We Really Care About Cadence?
Because keeping your feet underneath your body is also super important to lowering the impact on your joints, Heiderscheit suggests examining your step rate or cadence, another accepted switch in your run mechanics. The exact number varies person to person, but to figure out yours, count the number of steps you take per minute, then increase it by 2 to 5 percent and see how that feels.

Brough does suggest taking a video of yourself running. Analyze what your form looks like compared to someone who makes running 26.2 look like a walk in the park. Maybe you notice a high bounce or that your feet step way out in front of your body. Those few earlier cues just might help fix the problem and make your run more efficient. “If you have to look really hard, though, then there’s probably nothing there,” Brough says.

How Shoes Affect Your Stride
There are plenty of ads that say a shoe will change your run game. And it could be partially true—you need a comfy pair to get you through mile after mile. But if the shoes don’t feel good, then they won’t protect you from injuries or get you to a finish line faster.

“When it comes to choosing a running shoe—a minimalist or stability shoe—research shows the folks with the least injuries are simply the ones in the most comfortable shoes,” Brough says. “So I’m not going to change the amount of someone’s pronation, but I am going to encourage them to try on different sneakers and find the most comfortable, because that will likely be the best footwear for them.” If you do pronate but a stability shoe just doesn’t feel good, then it’s probably a no-go for you.

There is also the case for a shoe that makes you feel like you’re running stronger, says Brough. Between feeling comfortable and feeling strong, perception is half the battle when it comes to the right shoe for you.

Heiderscheit mentions that if you do switch shoes and feel pain after a run, it’s time to examine the shoe. Switch back to your old pair to see if the problem pops up again. If not, then it’s probably best to forego the new pair. If yes, then it’s time to examine your mechanics.

The Bottom Line
Whether you adjust your stride or not comes down to your goals and how you feel on the road. If you’re feeling fine, crossing off mega mileage without injury, there’s no reason to start switching things up. (If your stride is not broken, there really is no reason to fix it.)

“I believe that there is no perfect running form; each runner has a signature form,” Brough says. “We can choose to optimize that form to either enhance performance or attempt to prevent injury. But there’s nothing out there in running medical literature that says that if you have this form, you’re definitely going to get injured.” Brough uses one of her clients as an example—a four-time Olympic trails qualifier who happened to have the worst running mechanics she’s ever seen. “There was no way I was going to change that,” she says. And while that person ran injury-free, another person she might see with the same form could end up with a slew of issues.

Heiderscheit agrees that fixing form just to experiment could lead to more bad reactions than good. “When we do gait recommendations, it’s on people experiencing injury or chronic symptoms. Gait re-training can be beneficial for those who experience a lot of pain in the same area or for several months or years, or even who get reoccurring stress fractures,” he says. “But I don’t recommend people adjust gait in the absence of injury. Occasionally performance might be a reason, for instance, if mechanics aren’t efficient, and a runner experiences a high energy cost, he or she might benefit from changing gait. But changing gait to prevent injury—that’s a very slippery slope.”

“Nobody fits that idea of the perfect running form. I think people get hung up on the subtle variations or deviations that aren’t really deviations,” Heiderscheit adds. “Variability is completely fine, and that’s normal and healthy. I usually try not to let people focus on the subtlety. But if you’re having pain, that’s what changes the game.”




Upcoming Local Events

   May 26, 2019


Information and Registration




  June 2, 2019

Laurentian University Fitness center

Event Details: Cross-country run or walk – 2.5, 5 or 10 km









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Track North News - by Dick Moss



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