Saturday, May 21, 2011

Smart Runner Clinic complete!


Today was the Smart Runner Clinic in the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuing Learning at Mount Royal University.  With my first full marathon looming in the not-too-distant future, I decided to enroll in this clinic to give me a base to training and completing it injury-free.   I certainly learned a fair bit in the 4 hours the clinic ran...very informative stuff.

This used to be called the Running for Your Life clinic and it has run since 2003.  This year brought a change in name and  a ton of new information that has come out of the research community in the past year.  After arriving and checking in, we (JS and I) were handed a little backpack containing our free travel roller and DVD plus some Mizuno swag (a rep was on hand doing shoe analysis in the lobby)

The Speakers
The clinic featured five presenters from a variety of backgrounds
  • Dr. Dale MacDonald - Sports specialist chiropractor; spoke on a variety of topics and research studies that had been done on running efficiency
  • Dr. Meaghan McCullom - Naturopathic Doctor; spoke mainly on the effects of running on your immune system
  • Andrea Kosa - Physiotherapist; spoke about the office bound runner and how to counteract the stresses desk jobs place on your muscles
  • Jeremy Deere - local running speedster and owner of Strides Running Store; spoke on dynamic stretching and led us through an interactive warmup to demonstrate various dynamic drills  runner should do to warm up before a race
  • Adam Wood - Former Canadian National Bobsleigh Champion and inventor of the Travel Roller; spoke about his background and demonstrated (including volunteers from the audience) how to incorporate the travel roller into your pre/post run routine
Suffice it to say, there was considerable knowledge on the sport of running in that room today.  From each speaker, I found at least one takeaway that would be beneficial to helping me get the most out of my running.  I found that I enjoyed listening to Dale speak the most.  He had a real knack for describing different studies in laymans terms and relating them to our own running.  Most of all, he was most excited about everything he was presenting...he truly BELIEVED it would help and that was why he wanted to share (my impression, anyway).

I did not get as much out of Meaghan's presentation.  something about her speaking voice made the microphone pop and echo and it was very distracting.  She spoke about how important nutrition was, but instead went on and on about immune systems and free radicals.  On the first break a few of us passed the comments that went along this line "We're runners...we know nutrition is important.  So tell us what to eat to improve our performance.  It's easy." 

That being said, I did find some of the studies she cited to be interesting - particularly those parts that spoke about how long your immune system is compromised following a long, intense workout. 

Andrea didn't seem comfortable with the whole public speaking thing and I didn't feel as though she had enough time to present (a thought made stronger by the fact that her powerpoint didn't seem to be over and that she seem to be cut off before we were really told anything of value.  I found the things she told us about posture and the detriment of long-term sitting periods at desk jobs, but there were no real take-aways except to get up often.  I would have expected a physiotherapist to arm us with exercises to complete throughout the day.  Perhaps that was her game plan and she just didn't have enough time.

Jeremy's presentation was definitely the most fun.   He led us outside and got us all moving.   High knees, butt kicks, bopping across the green grass in front of East Gate.   There was one move that I don't think I'll ever master and would probably fall on my face if I tried to hard, but it had me laughing out loud with my attempts.   Since the whole thing was filmed, I'm sure there is video footage of me out there flailing my long legs around in the sun.  

Adam was very passionate about his product, The Travel Roller, and quite happy to demonstrate how he uses it in his running.  When he called for volunteers to come up, I ducked behind my notebook (I have audience participation when I'm in the's the same reason I avoid magic shows).  Fortunately, there were two victims ready to jump up on that stage.   I'm just glad I didn't grow balls at that moment and volunteer myself to work on my hamstrings with him...the people he had up there, he publicly tortured.  Well, not really.  He would show them how to roll out their trouble spots and then he would have them move into exercises to strengthen their weak points.  The exercises seemed to be all about planks.  And rotated planks...that he never let them out of and then made them do clamshell movements with their knees.  The one guy seemed to do okay with it, but I felt bad for the woman who had volunteered.  I get the impression that Adam would be a helluva tough personal trainer.

To wrap up the clinic, Dale came back onstage to talk about runners over the age of 50 (at least 3 in the audience were over 70! Wow!) and then to talk about the 9 easy ways to improve your running instantly (ie: lazy mans running improvement 101).  These I will share because it was fun.  I'm not going to go into great detail because it would take all night, but google these because some of them are pretty interesting.

Nine Easy Ways to Improve Your Running Instantly
  1. Racing Flats
  2. Compression Socks
  3. Caffeine
  4. Ice Slurry
  5. Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse
  6. Inspiratory Muscle Loading
  7. Focus on flat after the hill
  8. Vibration plate training
  9. Stretching

Other Takeaways
  • Almost all running injuries are from repetitive strain and the compensations we make to our body alignment during the time we are avoiding dealing with it
  • After a long exercise session, your immune system can be depressed for 3-72 hours!
  • Dr. Dale said that in his practice, he has seen countless people injured from Yoga, but has never seen a single injury from Pilates.  Food for thought.
  • For recreational marathon runners, strenght training is vital to avoiding injury.  2 concurrent strenght sessions per week are recommended
    • 1 x high intensity lower limb ("explosive"  plyometrics, bounding, hills)
    • 1 x strength and endurance for trunk (core work, pilates etc)
  • What FEELS best for you is actally what IS best for you. 

So - did I feel like I got my money's worth for this 4 hour session?  Actually, yes.  I paid $79 (since I was dumb and missed out on the $20 off coupon I got via email because I was a procrastinating fool).  Part of my course package included a Travel Roller and instructional DVD valued at $65.   That means that I paid $14 for all of the other information and a couple of snacks.  A very good deal, if I should say so.   I think I learned a fair bit that was common knowledge (well, for a runner who reads as many running books as I do, anyway) but there was enough new information there and it was presented well and rounded out with Q & A that I had plenty to think about all day.

Would I attend this next year (or the year after)?  I'm not sure.   It would depend on if they vary the presenters from year to year and the sessions that were planned.  I certainly won't rule it out. 

This wasn't the first running clinic I have ever attended - we had several of them while I was training with TNT.  This was definitely the most intense, though, and the first I ever paid for...I'm glad I went and I defniitely recommend it for others in future years.  Who knows - maybe I'll see you there!


  1. Great recap of all you learned! Thanks for sharing. I love my racing flats and I just started wearing compression socks.

  2. Just had to follow your blog.. I love to read, write and run too... Great blog! Im excited to follow!

  3. Christy - I've been super curious about compression socks, but my vanity keeps me from buying them since I think they look super cute with a skirt or shorts but I am a capri girl. Stupid - I know.

    Cari - Thanks for following! I hope you'll enjoy my ramblings :)


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