What You Do Not Know About Your Neon Colored Running Shoes

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I am going to assume you bought your last pair of running shoes based on how they fit your feet right? You certainly did not buy your running shoes because they looked super funky and fashionable? NO not you! (insert raised eyebrows and slight nod of the head)

Ummm….OK lets get real. My guess is you are like the good majority of people who buy their running shoes based on fashion, not function. I don’t blame you, man have shoes gotten funky! I do admit to having a brightly colored pair myself which my son has nicknamed my super hero shoes!

But I see an alarming amount of people unknowingly wearing what are called minimalist shoes.  I would venture to say about 60 percent of my classes are sporting a pair. Now I am not saying this type of shoes is bad, but what I want you to know is that the way we are training in them is a problem.

Question: When you removed the labels from your new shoes did you happen to read any of them?  If you had you may have noticed some of them are starting to come with caution labels like this one.

barefoot running

Now here is my take: I like the barefoot and minimalist footwear movement because I believe when our feet are placed in a structural box (old stiff traditional pair of runners) we begin to weaken our feet and ankles that are actually built for dynamic movement. Its the old saying “If you don’t use it you’ll lose it.”

Did you know that your feet and ankle contain 1/4 of the bones in the human body? and 33 joints with over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons! Your feet where made to sense the ground you walk on, absorb impact, leap, tip toe, swim, stomp, run, dance and get you where your going. But if your feet have not had the freedom to move au naturel  you are going to have to take the time to train them up to do so.

Here are some clues that your shoes maybe minimalist.

-a large toe box, where your foot has the freedom to splay and your toes have the freedom to move

-a thin sole or thin covering

-you can fold or roll the shoe up

-while holding the heel and toe of the shoe you can twist the shoe in opposite directions freely

Unfortunately some of you may now be realizing as your reading this article why your heel, ankle, foot or Achilles has been bothering you it’s called over training. If you wear this shoe for all of your training right from the get go your muscle does not have enough time between training to adapt.

I ran my half marathon in the fall with a minimalist shoe.  I did part of my training in the beginning with a more structured shoe and a couple runs a week with the minimalist shoe.  By the end of my training I was wearing my “super hero” shoes for 100 percent of my runs.  I still taught specific classes at the gym in my structured shoes why? cause I followed this key principle; I trusted and listen to the signs my body was giving me.

As a trainer I find there are 2 ends of the spectrum.

(1) There are those that keep pushing the body when it is clearly in pain, they see the pain as standing in their way, rather than pain being a clear built in function of a body that is communicating a problem. Without pain we would do a lot of stupid and harmful things to our bodies! Pain is not as bad as we think it is. Pain is a problem when it is chronic yet we choose to ignore it OR numb it out with medication. Pain is our body asking us for unmet needs. Whether the needs are mental, physical, or spiritual. When over training in these shoes constant pain is just your body saying back off give me a chance to catch up!

(2) The other end of the spectrum I find people who at every sign of pain they label themselves injured and quickly take themselves out of the game. FEAR of things getting worse plaques their training continuously. Either they just are inexperienced with the normal discomfort of an exercised body OR they have been injured in the past and are scared of going back.

Here is what you need to know. Muscle that are challenged will become weak and during repair will exhibit pain. Trust that your body will build itself back up and the weakness will be overcome by strength and that it is just the way your body is made! Your body works to meet the demand that you place on it.

So training in these shoes will result in your weak muscles feeling the burn. Just be patient, trust your body is communicating a good message with you, YOUR BODY IS NOT FIGHTING AGAINST YOU! Please remember this! Your BODY WAS MADE GOOD and it is FOR YOU! Learn to have a good relationship with the signals your body is sending you. Learn to back off without labeling it “failure” or “giving up” and in turn learn to push ahead and trust that out of your weakness you will become stronger.




What You, Fitness, and A Homeless Person Have in Common.

At the studio I manage we recently replaced our well worn tired looking exercise mats for brand new cushy and comfortable mats.

I was thinking about the hours those old mats have seen and the weight of the members’ worries they have carried. So many people young and old have done endless crunches on them in pursuit of a flat stomach. Then there are the pelvic tilts for the perfect butt, side leg lifts for outer and inner thighs and OH the push ups, the begrudgingly done push ups.

Why do we spend so many hours on these mats inflicting such pain on ourselves?

Lets be honest, a good majority of the time its to fit in; to be accepted in a world where the quest for the perfect ‘body’ is admired and held at such high standards. For those willing to work hard enough you can have whatever you want.

You have stretch marks cause you had a baby? Well there is away to get rid of them.

Your arms wobble a lot more then they use to? Well you must do more push ups.

Love handles? side crunches.

Saddle bags? lift those thighs, get to work.

I have seen so many people FIGHT their bodies on those mats! I see the inner dialogue on my participants’ faces daily.

“Are you kidding me stomach? You did not look like that in high school, I can’t believe I let this happen, what the hell is wrong with me? It was that damn ice cream last night! Why can’t I get my act together like that perfect person next to me! I am going to KILL myself before my flabby stomach will live to see another day! “

So I ask myself what’s the ROOT?  Here is what I am learning.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18

WHAT? You lost me Ira?

Stay with me, We long for better bodies so we can appear what? …… more ‘attractive‘ right?

Therefore we exercise and punish our bodies in order to be attractive.

But what are we trying to attract? LOVE….acceptance…..relationship……approval……

And what are we AFRAID of? being alone, rejected, left out, being unLOVABLE.

So what am I trying to say? Well remember those new mats? We are already putting them to good use at the gym, carrying the weight of new worries.

But what happen to the old mats?

On Tuesday mornings I make breakfast for the homeless with a group of volunteers. A fellow manager at the gym was getting ready to chuck our old mats in the trash when she thought this seems wasteful, maybe I will ask Ira if they can use them at that homeless shelter. A phone conversation later these mats are now carrying the weight of a whole other level of worry. It’s -10 today and as I drop off the mats to the shelter one of the outreach workers was thrilled because just yesterday a homeless man was asking if there were any type of mats available that he could have.

I have to tell you I am physically shaking as I write this blog, because I believe this illustration has the power to massively shift your perspective.

A homeless person maybe seen as lazy, unproductive, or a burden on society and I confess I use to think this way I would ask myself  ”are we just enabling them?”  But I have learned there is a story behind each one. What I now see a person who is riding on their last thread of hope, whether it be covering pains with addiction, sorting out their mental health, running away from abuse or compounding circumstance after circumstance has left them with nothing. Each of those people CARRY a burden of worry very different from those using an exercise mat at the gym. So here is that part where I say suck it up, it’s just exercise you could be homeless and guilt you into a grateful workout.

That’s not where I am going. I want you to seriously think about something.

Is that homeless persons needs and worries really that different than yours?

Whether I am using the exercise mat to punish my flabby butt, or to keep a layer between me and the cold frosted ground, what do we BOTH need? LOVE, acceptance, relationship, approval.

As a Christian I am called to LOVE that is it. PERIOD. Will my love always be perfect… NO cause I cannot help being selfish at times, but God’s Love is perfect, and that’s my model.

You see when LOVE, approval, acceptance, relationship is given freely despite a person’s baggage, mistakes…..flabby thighs, wobbly arms, saggy butts, wrinkles, cellulite and the list goes on, it leaves NO room left to FEAR. Fear and Love cannot exist together.

If I am freely given LOVE and APPROVAL, my workout is no longer a fight, no longer driven by FEAR. I do not need to be perfect BUT I do want to be my best so I can give my best.  What does my best look like? Serving and blessing those around me, that are just like me, and are looking for the same love I am seeking.

One last question.

With FEAR gone what is left?

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  

1 Corinthians 13:13 

Episode #6 Call It What it Is!

Episode 6

Are you like me and have a hard time resisting the bite sized Halloween treats in the cupboard this time of year?  Well grab a BIG BLACK marker cause here is a tool you can use to start training up your mind to make better choices. Are you thinking I do not have a big black marker (excuses come so quickly don’t they) Well you can use your imaginary black marker too!

Episode # 5 Thank God For Tibialis Anterior

Thank God For Tibialis Anterior

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It’s easy to lose sight of what is really important. Like the tibialis anterior a muscle that most of us don’t even know we have yet its function is essential in our day to day activities.  This is a challenge to draw your attention to what you have rather than what you always feel like your missing.

Episode #4 I Do Not Care What You Eat: Part 3

I Do Not Care What You Eat: Part 3 

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In Part 3 of the series I do not care what you eat we address DESIRE.  As you choose to put your comfort in God rather than food your desire changes.  You begin to DESIRE the things that He desires and your food choices become easier.  It is not about forcing yourself to eat your vegetables it about really wanting your vegetables because they nourish your God given dreams!