running

Battling the Plantar Fasciitis Monster

Many people have experienced the terrible, awful pain of plantar fasciitis. Once the pain train starts rolling, it feels like it can’t be stopped. If you have experienced this, you understand how desperate one can be to find relief from heel pain and a way to get back to walking and running normally.  

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If you aren’t really sure what we’re talking about, here’s a short quiz to find out if you have plantar fasciitis: 

  • When you step out of bed, do you yell in pain then perform the “morning hobble” dance to the bathroom?
  • Do you find yourself telling co-workers about this knife like sensation in your heel?
  • Have you seriously considered walking on your hands?
  • Is “ouch” the first word out of your mouth when you stand up?
  • Are you reading WebMD articles about heel pain and looking at buying some ridiculously expensive shoe contraption to stop it?
  • Does a sharp pain makes you scream at the beginning of a run, but disappears a few miles in?
  • Have you made an appointment with your doctor to find out how much it is going to cost to amputate your foot?

If you answered yes to any of these, unfortunately, you have diagnosed yourself with plantar fasciitis. Some people struggle with the pain on and off for years, which is why it’s so important to catch the pain early on.

Local physical therapist Rebecca Wykle talked with us about what exactly is happening in the foot when plantar fasciitis pain flairs up and how to treat it before it gets too bad. By following a few basic care treatments, you can help the foot heal on it’s own and avoid getting to the point of seeing a therapist.

WHAT IS THE PLANTAR FASCIA

It’s a really thick band of strong connective tissue that runs from the base of your toes down to your heel. It helps support the arch of the foot.

WHAT IS PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

When there's extra tension being put on that plantar fascia band, inflammation occurs at the attachment at the heel bone. So what you feel is a really sharp stabbing pain at the bottom of your heel in the fat pad. It's typically worse at the start of the morning when you first step down.

WHAT CAUSES PLANTAR FASCIITIS?

Numerous things, but the root cause is usually that the area is being over used. Usually it can occur when you do something you don't normally do, or change up your routine. Did you recently add mileage to your training schedule, or go on a trip to Disney and walk a lot more than usual?

Here are a few factors that can put you at risk: tight calves, excessively walking around barefoot, standing all day on non-supportive shoes, weak hips, over pronation, and obesity.

HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?

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Stop walking around barefoot. Wear a shoe with cushion and support around the house. When you wake up in the morning, instead of stepping down and stretching out the plantar fascia, slide into a pair of shoes with support so that you won’t tear or strain the tissues. Socks with sandals are cool, right!? We carry Oofos and PowerStep sandals, which both provide support and relief, come check them out!

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Stretch your calves. The plantar fascia is connected to the achilles which is connected to the calf. Poor ankle movement and tight calves can have an affect on the feet. Stretch your calves several times a day, holding for 20-30 seconds for 2-3 times.

Strengthen the foot muscles. Strengthening the muscles of the posterior tibialis and the little intrinsic muscles can help support the foot. You can do that by sitting on a chair and picking up marbles with your toes or scrunching a towel with your toes.

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Use pressure to massage the foot to relieve the pain. There are two ways to do this: one, freeze a water bottle half full of water and roll your arch over it. This won’t fix the problem, but it will relieve some of the symptoms in the short term. Two, find a small ball like a tennis ball, or, even better, a massage ball and roll the ball under your arch and, if you can, around the heel. Starting and ending the day by rolling your feet is a good practice to get into regardless. By getting the pressure under the plantar fascia, you're working out the trigger points without trying to make changes to the plantar fascia.

Strengthen the muscles around the hips. When hips are weak, knees drop in and feet over-pronate. If you're over-pronating (heavily turning inwards when you walk), you're increasing pressure on the plantar fascia. So if you can strengthen the hips and the chain above the irritated area, you can relieve the pressure from the plantar fascia. Good exercises for the hips are clam shells, hip abductions, laying on your side doing leg lifts, and side planks. Make sure the hips are squared and stacked so that your glutes and core fire.

Wear correctly-fitted, supportive shoes, for both running and everyday wear. Wearing hard shoes, or no shoes will only irritate the problem area. Shoes that are too small or too flexible will not allow the plantar fascia to heal. It’s worth the time, energy, and money to be fitted for a good pair of running/walking shoes. You will notice a difference. Of course, we are here to fit you for shoes at Fast Break Athletics!

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Wear an orthotic that supports the arch. If needed, additional support under the arch can be useful for holding it up so to relieve the tension from the plantar fascia when you step on it. At Fast Break, we carry the PowerStep. It is semi-flexible, and still allows your foot to go through its full range of motion, all while supporting the arch and relieving heel pain. We carry these for both running shoes, and casual shoes or work boots.

Wear a plantar fasciitis night splint. Although it may look like a torture device, have no fear! A night splint keeps the foot dorsiflexed while you sleep, allowing the plantar fascia to heal in a stretched position to avoid the searing pain in your first step in the morning. We also carry these at Fast Break.

CAN I KEEP RUNNING?


This depends on how severe your case of plantar fasciitis is. Rebecca thinks that it’s pointless to tell a runner to stop running, so she aims to only keep a runner off his or her feet for 1-2 weeks if they absolutely need it. But it all depends on the body, feet, and person. Give your feet some rest while you do all of the above, then ease back into running.

If you have done all of the above and still struggle with heel pain, consult your doctor about seeing a physical therapist to assess if there are weaknesses in the body or other factors that could be prolonging the pain.

 

Stop by the shop if you have any other questions about plantar fasciitis!

Following Hardrock Dreams: an Interview with Ryan Meulemans, a Local Chattanooga Ultra Trail Runner

Hardrock 100 mile race is notoriously known as one of the hardest ultra-marathons in the United States. It attracts running legends like Kilian Jornet to race across the Colorado mountains. Runners can only enter Hardrock through a lottery. This year, one of our own Chattanooga Fast Breakers made it in and placed 33rd overall. We sat down with Ryan Meulemans to hear about his race.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO RUNNING?

I've always been into the outdoors and have enjoyed the outdoors in many ways, shapes, and forms. I originally started with hiking and backpacking. And then was really into fly fishing for a few years. It was an evolution of enjoying the outdoors. In my early 20’s, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, ate like #&^%, weighed 200 pounds. I got into exercising. I was like, I have to go to the gym and like bla, bla, blah. I quit smoking and all that. But the gym wasn't for me. It wasn't fun. So I started running on the road 2-3 miles, cause that's all I could do. But then a couple of buddies were like, "We go out and run trails." I hadn't been doing it much, but I liked hiking and backpacking in the Smokies. So that's just how I got into it. I wasn't really a runner until I became a trail runner. That was probably a little over 10 years ago.

Everything in my life is to the frickin extreme. It's just how I live, it's my personality. Everything is to the max. Running for me isn't any different. I got into it. I enjoyed the trails and it was one of those things, where I was having a conversation with some guys, and they were like, "Stump Jump is coming up." And I was like, "What's Stump Jump?" At that point I was really only comfortable with 10-12 miles. I thought about it for a few weeks, and decided that I was going to do it. I had 1 year to train for it. I did it and finished and liked it. And that was my first ultra.

I want to be in the woods. I want to be out there on the trails, and the cliffs and the streams and bluffs. That's why I do it. So I did Stump Jump a couple of years in a row. Then I started adding other races and 50ks became not that big of deal so I started doing 50 milers then 100’s.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

WHEN DID YOU START DREAMING OF HARDROCK?

I kind of like those more mountainy races. I had always had it in my head that Hardrock was the pinnacle. If you look at the race course, you can make an argument that it's the hardest thing in North America and definitely one of the hardest things in the world.

I put my name into Hardrock for about 5 years. There is a short list of races that the Hardrock race directors deem worthing or hard enough to do Hardrock. The list used to be bigger but it has shrunk down. I would get a qualifier every other year, put my name into Hardrock every year, and wait and see. And I wouldn't get in. But last December, luck of the draw, I finally got in for 2017.

I was ecstatic. You find out over Twitter. You're sitting there watching the lottery hitting refresh, refresh, refresh. I was picked in the second batch of names. It was like a band-aid had been ripped off. The lottery started and 5 minutes later I was in! But I didn't have any fear. I knew what I was getting into. I definitely wanted the opportunity to do it. So my name got pulled and I was all in.

 

WHAT WAS YOUR TRAINING LIKE?

My last 3 years of running have been FatDog 120 [in British Columbia], Western States, and getting ready for Hardrock. So I went back and looked at FatDog, which was great, and looked at what I had done. Even though FatDog is longer, I knew I probably needed to dial it up for Hardrock. So I just went about my plan with a nice build up. Every other Saturday as [a race] gets closer is the really long run. I’ll go do a 45-50 mile run, then the next Saturday 12 miles, then the next Saturday 45-50. So for these types of races, like a Hardrock or FatDog, the only chance you have is to go to some place like the Smokies to find 5-6 mile climbs. With a race like HardRock, you have these really long climbs and descents to train for. And there's nothing like that around here. So I'd go up to the Smokies around Friday afternoon and camp and run.

 

HOW DID YOU HANDLE THE ELEVATION?

I went out 2 weeks in advance. My sister lives in Denver, so I drove out. Got to Denver on Friday afternoon, camped in my truck. Got up Saturday morning, put in 18 miles up and down some 14ers. And I was beat. Elevation kicked me bad! I was like, “Ok, this isn't good. I'm really fit and I don't know how I could run 5 more miles.” So I was a little nervous. I went out again the next day for a shorter 15 miles or so. Took Monday off. Then my sister and I went out on July 4 and did 4 14ers in 1 day. It was up and down, up and down. It was pretty good. That day I felt better. That was Tuesday and I could feel it coming together.

I drove to Silverton on Wednesday. I went out on Thursday for a 20 miler, and I felt good. I went out again 1 week before the race and still felt good, elevation was good. I knew when I was going up 12 to 13 thousand feet and I was talking that things were going to be ok.


WALK US THROUGH RACE DAY.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

I slept like a baby the night before. Not sure why. The race starts at 6am on Friday morning. I felt good. The race starts and everybody is in a group. You run through town and a couple miles in, the first thing you do is run through a creek crossing. So your feet are wet the entire time after that. That was probably one of my biggest fears, that my feet would be wet the entire time and, knowing how technical the course is, I was wondering if I'd just wear my feet out with blisters. Luckily, feet were solid. I changed my shoes and socks one time at the half way point and was good to go. I didn't glide my feet, bandaid my feet, nothing. I rarely have foot problems, so if I do, I don't understand why cause I rarely do. But feet were wet the entire time.

So you go up the big climb and everyone's together and all strung out in a huge train. And the day gets started. The thing about Hardrock is that you have to remember the whole entire time A) how hard you worked to be there and B) how long it took for you to get in. I would come to the top of climbs and look around and be like, 'Oh my god, this is awesome.' It's truly the most beautiful running course I've been on. I was totally engaged the entire time. Any hundred mile I've ever run, you get into these stretches where you're just like, “This stretch sucks. I can't wait for this to be over.” But at Hardrock, that never happened.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

 A friend of mine had introduced me to my friend Joel whom I had never met before Hardrock training. My friend said we ran the same style and pace and we might want to run together, so we did. We did some training runs in Tennessee together and really hit it off. We had talked about it at the beginning that we should share some miles together since we're a similar pace, with the complete understanding that if either one of us hits a low point the other one is leaving and that's the end of that. There's not going to be any "we got to stay together type deal." So I caught up to Joel at about 12ish miles into the race. Him and I started rolling together. Just enjoying the day, just a beautiful Friday morning, just having a great time. And as with any Colorado afternoon, it starts to get dark, and the skies go black, and we look over at this mountain range, and we're like, "Oh $%*&! That doesn't look good!" So the temperature drops and a huge hail storm comes in, pea-sized hail. I have a hood on but it's killing my ears where it's hitting. Of course I had my Fast Break trucker on, but regardless, we were getting pummeled. I looked back and Joel's legs were bleeding. I finally yelled, ”Dude, we need to take cover." It started thundering and lightning. So we got into the willows and hunkered down for probably 10 minutes. It seemed to be moving out, and I was getting really cold, so we had to start running again just for that purpose. Fortunately, the storm was moving out, but the streams were now all flooded. It was intense, but that's part of the Hardrock deal! Joel and I rolled together through the night from 12 miles to the town of Telluride, which is at mile 72.

A great part of the race is an aid station section called Kroger’s Canteen. It's a very famous aid station. It's up on the top of a mountain in a nook. They built platforms there. Scott Jurek’s up there serving something to eat. We knew going into it, that one side of it was still completely snowed in. So in pitch blackness, we start up these snow pitches that was just like climbing a ladder. You put your feet in and use your trekking poles, and you've got your head lamp and you're just climbing into nothing. Straight up. It would go and pitch out, and then keep going. There's 3 pitches to the top, then you can see the aid station, and they're all yelling at you to climb. I was like, "Dude, don't fall. It's not going to be good." So super cool, but definitely one of the sketchier things I've done in my running, and I've done some pretty crazy spots.
 
In the middle of the night, we started down to the next descent and got into the town of Telluride, and grabbed what we needed at the aid station. It's 4:30 in the morning. It's getting close to sun up but not quite there yet. It's mile 70 and everything feels good. So we start out of Telluride, me, Joel and his pacer. And I don't know what happened, but I could not get out of first gear. They were leaving me in the dust. I lost all my momentum. I was really struggling to keep up with them. So finally I said, "This is it. It's that spot. You've got to go. I can't keep up."

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

Looking back, I think I got a little low on calories. There's definitely something with altitude. I don't think I ate that much for 100 miles. I never had a gel. I don't like gels. I ate Shot Bloks. I'd ate quesadillas and burritos at aid stations. I think Joel was at a really good pace for probably 20 miles prior and it burned me just a little bit, so it hit later. It probably would have been better to back off, but I didn't. But there's no regrets. It was all still fine. It was a very difficult climb. It was a section of the course I had not seen. And looking at the profile, I think mentally I thought it wasn't going to be that bad, and then it was really bad. It was one of those ones where you're just going and there's 3-4 false summits and you think you're there, and it's not the top, and you get to another peak, and it’s still not the top. And I had all that going on mentally of my buddy leaving me and my pacer not keeping up (that’s another story). It was a lot. I think if you run 100 miles and don't have one low energy spot, you're really good. I felt low for a couple of hours, but once I got to the top of the climb, the sun was up, I was good. I bombed down into an aid station. I ate, had a cup of coffee, had a breakfast burrito and it was golden after that.

So I finally got to the top of that climb. The sun came up, and that's always a boost. That's a thing about 100 milers. There's always that time around 4:30-5:30 in the morning where you're tired and then the sun comes up, and I always get a huge boost. So after that, it was good. It was still a grind and very difficult. I was on my own all the way to the finish. Joel was always just ahead of me. He ended up finishing nearly an hour ahead of me.

I had seen the final 20 something miles of the course. We had done the final 20 miles the week before. So I knew after that low moment, everything else I had seen. I knew exactly where I was. I knew every climb that I had to do, which is both a blessing and a curse, to get the finish.

I got to the top of another climb, which is super hard, straight up. I'm digging, climbing, rocks are sliding right under me. When I got to the top of that climb which I knew would be really hard, I was like, "Ok I got this. Lets finish." I was at 85, had 15 to go. It was 10 in the morning on Saturday. I was golden. I had waited a long time for this. And the race had been great. I was in and out of the last couple of aid stations and then on to the finish. When you get to the finish at Hardrock, you kiss the rock. It felt great. I didn't feel destroyed at all. I felt really, really good about it.

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

 YOU'VE FINISHED YOUR DREAM RACE. WHAT’S NEXT?

Hardrock is definitely a race I could see myself doing multiple times. I've done it one direction, now I have to do it the other way, since they reverse it every other year. I will probably put in every year. There's so much about it. Silverton shuts down the week before the race. It's a serene atmosphere leading up to such a big event.

 

Photo contributed by Ryan Meulemans

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR FIRST HARDROCK?

I think one of the biggest things that hit me at Hardrock was during the pre-race briefing, the race director, Dale Garland, announced who has done this five times, ten times, etc.  One guy had done it twenty-five times. Then he said that only 700 something individual people have only finished this race in the whole world. When tomorrow's race is done, there will be 780 or whatever. But only 750 or so people in the world have completed Hardrock. And I was like, I have to be one. I have to be 1 of those 750, that's why I'm here.

Happy National Walking Day!

Walking is a non-intimidating form of cardio exercise that everyone can do. You don’t have to be a coordinated athlete or a marathoner to get this dose of cardio. A daily 30 minute walk improves circulation and loosens stiff joints. When coupled with healthy eating and a healthy emotional lifestyle, walking can improve our overall mental and physical well-being.

As runners, we often think walking is boring, slow, or not a sufficient enough cardio workout. However, walking is one of them most underrated exercises. It’s cheap, it’s mind clearing, it gets us outside, and it improves cardiovascular health. It’s a great shake out for the legs on a rest day, and it’s something you can pull friends or family into.

Here’s 4 reasons why walking is a great workout and everyone should do it:

You can walk anywhere.

You can step outside your house and walk down the street, walk down the sidewalk, or walk to work. If the rough terrain of a single track trail is too much to handle on a run, walk the trail instead. Need more of a cardio challenge? Find a trail with a big hill and walk up and down it a few times. This can be a great chance to work on your power hiking for a long trail race. However, if fresh air is not your thing, you can walk on a treadmill and catch up on your favorite show.

Walking increases mental peace.

One of the worst things we can do to our body and minds is sit all day. Stepping outside of a florescent-lit office and walking 30 minutes during a lunch break allows your mind to clear itself and your eyes and brain to take a rest. Plus, the exercise releases endorphins and serotonin to give you a natural high, often helping solve complicated work problems or restoring a positive attitude.

Walking provides time to connect.

Catch up with a friend by inviting them on a short walk after work or before you pick up the kids from school. After dinner, connect with the family on a short walk to easy your bellies after a full meal. All of you will reap the health benefits of exercise without the boredom of suffering alone.

Are you an introvert? Download your favorite podcasts and listen while you walk. But always stay alert of your surroundings when walking (or running) with headphones.

Walking provides a cardiovascular workout.

Many runners scoff at walking, however walking can ramp up your heart rate just as much as a slower tempo run. Walk for 30 minutes to an hour on a trail and work on your pace and stride. Pick a hilly route to push your quads and glutes. Still too easy? Try mixing in strength training exercises. Walk near a local park and add in squats and lunges. Use a bench for tricep dips and pushups or a playground bar for pull-ups. Challenge yourself!

Of course, with all athletic activities, we recommend you wear the right shoes. Many people stop exercising because of foot pain. Get fitted at your local running store for shoes that support your arch and allow your toes to move and operate like they were made to! Remember to replace your shoes after 4-6 months, so that you can keep on walking.

Now go explore a new part of town on a walk!

Enjoy National WALKING Day!

Running Shoes: When to Replace and What to Buy

You’re getting into running and those three-year-old sneakers from Walmart aren’t doing the trick anymore. It’s time to find some actual running shoes. But where do you start? There are so many options, sizes, and types! And what about the color!?

Breathe. We’ve got you covered. Read on. 

We understand not everyone obsesses about running shoes as much as we do, so we've created Fast Break's handy fact sheet on buying running shoes. These few tips will get you to the point of trying on and deciding on a shoe. However, you cannot beat the help a local running store can offer you. The staff are trained in fitting feet of all shapes and sizes and know the details and specs of all recent brands and models. Plus, you can try them on and take them for a spin!

When do I need to get new shoes?

There are a few ways to tell if it’s time for a shoe upgrade. First off, listen to your body. Are your legs aching after every run? Do your knees hurt? Are your arches sore? Do serious runners point and laugh at your feet? It’s time.

Another way to tell is by checking the midsole. Squeeze the midsole backwards. If it bends like a taco, the foam has broken down and you’re no longer getting all the support and cushion the shoe originally offered.

If you log your miles, you can tell when your shoes need replacing by tracking the numbers. A lightweight trainer will last for 250-350 miles. A shoe with more cushion will live for 400-600 miles.

Your weight, running form, and training all affect how long a shoe will last. A smaller person who runs with correct form and midfoot strikes (weight over the midfoot) is going to wear a shoe longer than a 6’4’’ runner in the same shoe who lands on their heel (heel strikes).

If you’re still not sure if it’s time to replace your loyal companions, go into your local running store and try on the same version of the shoe you’re currently running in. If the foam feels “dead” and the new shoes feel like a memory-foam mattress, then honey, it’s time for new pair.

What types of shoes are there?

Lots! There are different shoes for different terrain, body weight, personal desires, and events. A road shoe is going to be smoother on the bottom. A trail shoe has more texture for gripping slippery rocks. There are high cushioned shoes and lightweight trainers with a snugger fit but shorter life span. A crossfit style shoe is going to be firmer and lower to the ground for lateral stability. Spikes are a minimalist style shoe with small spikes that screw into the forefoot to give the runner more traction while racing on a grass cross country course or a rubber track.

To make this a bit more complicated, there are two categories of shoes within all of the different styles. There are stability shoes and a neutral shoes. A stability shoe has a harder foam post on the inside of the shoe to support a foot that rolls inward, or pronates. A neutral shoe has the same softer foam throughout the foot bed.

We highly recommend coming into Fast Break so that we can analyze your gait to fit you in the right shoe. There are multiple factors in determining if you need a neutral shoe or stability shoe. Don’t stress about this part, head to the experts for help!

Heel-toe-WHAT?!

While you are trying on shoes, you might hear your friendly shoe fit expert say, “This shoe has a 4mm drop” or “The offset is 8mm on this shoe.”

A heel-toe offset is the height difference between the level of your forefoot and the level of your heel. Until the past few years, most running shoes had a 12mm heel-toe offset (meaning the heel was 12mm higher in the footbed than the toes). More recently research has come out that a lower offset, or drop, aligns the runner to have better posture and form. A lower offset can help stretch and lengthen the achilles and fascia as well, which has been found to help some people with back, knee, and hip issues. Today, many shoe companies make shoes with a wide range of offsets from 0mm to 12mm. Find one that works with your body!

How does a running shoe fit?

There are many factors that go into finding a perfect fit. Here are two that we especially find important:

LENGTH: To fit for running shoes, we measure the length of the ball arch. The widest part of the foot (the forefoot, ball arch area) should be in the widest part of the shoe. If the fit is correct, you will have about a 3/4” (a thumbnail size) space between the end of the toe and the end of the shoe. The space prevents your toes from jabbing into the end of the shoe when you run. Goodbye black and blue toe nails!

WIDTH: We measure not just how long an arch is but also how wide. There are several different widths in both men’s and women’s shoes. If your foot is pushing out the sides of the shoe or is hanging off the outer edges of the footbed, YOU NEED A BIGGER SIZE! A shoe is supposed to fit more like a slipper and less like a rock climbing shoe.

How many shoes do I need?

All of them. So many shoes.

Ultimately, this depends on how much you are willing to invest in running gear and the volume of your training. The bottom line is that you put less wear on a pair of shoes if you can switch them out. There is an advantage, besides time and wear, in owning several pairs. A lightweight trainer allows you to run more efficiently (and faster) during your tempo runs or track workouts, while a more cushioned shoe will cushion the impact during long runs.

What are the rookie mistakes?

1. Don’t buy for the color. Buy for comfort! You won’t care what the shoe's looks when you’re floating on a cloud during a run.

2. Don’t be a stickler about the number. Shoes are cut differently. Your size WILL be larger than our street shoes size. Some brands tend to be long and some short. Your local running store employees will know all of this.

3. Shop for running shoes at the end of the day when your feet are slightly swollen. Your feet swell just a little during longer runs, so find a good fit when your feet are already at their largest point so that your shoes aren’t tight by mile 3 during tomorrow's workout.

4. Wear your running shoes only for running. Don’t wear them to the mall, to work, or to the grocery store. Non-running activities will also break the foam down and shorten the life of the shoe. If you need a comfortable shoe for work, keep one pair for work and one for running. Both will last longer this way.

Stop by Fast Break this week to be fitted by our experts. Try on the shoes and even take them for a spin. Find your perfect fit!

Your Running Gift Guide

You are Invited... 

Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you are enjoying friends, family, a few days off, and lots of delicious food! 

This year we have been continually blown away by how amazing the Chattanooga running community is. From races to Monday track workouts, we love working and running with all of our Fast Break friends. It makes our day when a familiar face pops into the store to give us a race report, or a long time customer picks up a new version of shoe, or a new runners presents us with a foot issue to solve. If it weren't for the local, familiar faces, our job would be boring. 

So this Saturday, we are throwing a little party at the store to say thank you. We're calling it the CUSTOMER APPRECIATION CELEBRATION! We will be opening at 10 am with FREE pancakes, waffles, and Milk & Honey coffee!!! So bring the kiddos, your running buddy, and even your dog, and come hang out with us on Saturday morning. There will be special sales throughout the store, on both apparel and shoes, to kick-start your Christmas shopping!

Speaking of Christmas, we put together a little gift guide to help outfit your favorite runners with gear they will love (and won't break the bank). 

 

$10 And Under

Every runner could use fuel for their long runs (or deodorizers for their clothes and shoes afterwards!). Or warm their cold toes with Injinji toe socks (they work great with sandals). These gifts make great stocking stuffers or a perfect inexpensive token of appreciation to a friend. 

(From Left to right) Clif Bar Sierra Trail Mix $1.69; GU Big Apple Energy Gel $1.45; Sports Wash Blox $10; Nathan Clip-On Lights $10; Fast Break Bumper Sticker (free if you ask nicely); Sneaker Balls $10; GU Lemon Sublime Energy Gel $1.45; Honey Stingers Organic Energy chews $2.19; Injinji Performance Toe Socks $10; Sports Beans Green Apple $1.29; Nuun Energy $7; Picky Bars Moroccan Your World $2.75; Tailwind Green Tea Buzz (Caffeinated) $2.50; Honey Stingers Organic Gluten Free Cinnamon Waffle $1.59; Nathan Lock Laces $8; Picky Bars Smooth Caffeinated $2.75; Silicone Swim Cap $8; Cliff Bloks Strawberry $2.50; Tailwind Tropical Buzz (Caffeinated) $2.50

 

$20 And Under

Socks, the classic grandma Christmas gift, unless they're sweat-wicking, no-slip performance socks! Or give the gift of a massage, but cheaper and this kinds keeps on giving. [Warning: Body Glide best given to someone you know REALLY well. Trust us.]

(From left to right) Swiftwick Aspire 4" Crew  $17; The North Face Impulse Headband $15; Stance Women's Crew  $18; Trigger Point Massage Ball $15; Balega Hidden Comfort Sock $12; Nathan Mag Strobe $15; Body Glide $15; ProTec Travel Foam Roller $13; TYR Next Pro Goggles $20; Swiftwick Aspire Zero $13

 

$30 And Under

Keep your runner safe with a headlamp for the trails or a flashing light for the streets. Provide some warmth with a hat or gloves. Of course, you could rep your local running store with our new Fast Break trucker hat. 

(From left to right) Sockwell Therapeutic Moderate Compression Socks $25; The North Face Dipsea Cover It $22; Fast Break Trucker Hat $25; Nathan $30; Saxx Underwear Co. Ultra Everyday $30; Trigger Point Nano Foot Roller $25; Black Diamond Cosmo 160 Lumens Headlamp $30; Camelback Arc Quick Grip $24; Saucony Brisk Skull Cap $28; Nathan LightSpur Rx $30; The North Face Runners 2 ETip Gloves $30; Nathan LightBender Rx $30

 

New Look For Her

For that special woman who deserves a little more, stock her closet with a stylish, comfortable new outfit for running this winter. 

The North Face Stow-N-Go IV Bra $45; TNF Pseudio Vest $99; TNF Women's Motivation Long Sleeve $55; TNF Motivation Crop Leggings $65; TNF Ascent EarBand $22 

 

Functionality For Him

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Functional, durable, and good looking. What else could he ask for? Light weight and perfect for a fall weather, that special guy will love this gear combo for his next run. 

The North Face Better Than Naked Short $55; TNF Ampere Wind Trainer $85; TNF Ambition Long Sleeve $50; TNF Salty Dog Beanie $25

 

 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and we will see your for pancakes, waffles, and coffee on Saturday at the store!

How to Warm Up... Like a BOSS.

Whether it's high school track, marathon training, or 80's aerobic videos... we've all read somewhere to stretch long and hard before we workout. Well, stop. STOP. IT.

Why? I'm glad you asked, my friend. 

Long-hold stretches may lengthen a muscle and increase flexibility, however stretching also reduces muscle function due to loss of power. A really smart doctor told the New York Times that a stretched muscle becomes less responsive and weakened for up to 30 minutes after stretching. That's not how you want to begin a run! 

So what do I do now?!!

Warm up correctly. Loosen muscles and tendons to increase mobility and literally warm up the body. 

To help you get started, we put together a few warm up drills that you can perform before you run, walk, dance, flip, or fly (please don't actually try flying). These drills will make your muscles fire and increase strength and mobility in your stabilizers. Fastbreak owner Alan's advice is to walk, shuffle, run, move for up to 10 minutes to get your heart rate up and blood pumping. Then perform the following dynamic moves at least 2 times for 30-50 meters. 

Forward Leg Swings

Balance yourself against a wall or fence with one arm. Start with both feet under your hips. Swing the inside leg forward then then swing it backwards. Gradually increase the height of your leg swings. Swing 10-15 times then switch sides. Make it more fun by imagining you're in the nutcracker ballet. 

Side Leg Swings

Face a wall or inanimate object (so not your dog), and brace yourself with your arms outstretched and shoulder-height. Swing one leg to the side of your body then swing it across the body to the other side. Increase the range of motion with each swing. Perform 10-15 reps then switch legs. 

A Skip

Remember skipping as a kid? Well turns out it's good for you. Start by walking through this move then advance to skipping. Lift your knee to waist height and keep you back leg straight as you come off your toe. Alternate legs as you move forward. Strike the ground with your forefoot. Swing your opposite arm with you lead leg in a running motion. Too easy? Whistle while you skip. 

B Skip

Perform the same move as the A Skip except extend your shin/lower leg when you raise your knee. The extension dynamically stretches the hamstrings. Emphasize the backward pawing motion as your foot strikes the ground and pulls through. Get into a rhythm by listening to the sound of your feet. Swing your arms in a running motion. 

Side-To-Side Skip

Skip side to side by bringing your feet together then shoulder width apart. Swing your arms to cross in front of your body then up and over your head. Fast Break employee Varina calls these "fairies" (we don't know why), so wiggle your fingers like you're shooting out fairy dust to make you a better runner.

I heard it through the GRAPEVINE

Start by standing upright and facing forward. Move laterally to the right by placing your left leg in front of your right leg. Then move the right leg to the right and place the left leg in front again. Maintain a fluid motion with your arms rotating in the opposite direction from your legs. Travel 50 meters then go to the left, facing the same direction. Too easy? Sing it out loud for Marvin Gaye! 

Running Backwards

Try to replicate your forward running motion, but backwards. Push off your forefoot and pump your arms. You're lunging with your hamstring and making your core muscles stabilize. Focus on form, not on speed. It will feel awkward at first. If you're not super coordinated possibly wrap pillows all around your body. 

There is LOTS information on stretching (or not) and drills that improve your mobility, strength, and fire up the engine before you run. We've included a few links with different perspectives to start your research. 

Have fun and go for a run!