Friday 26 October 2012

Size as a Factor in Running Injuries

Does size make a difference in whether you will get a running injury? Just to set the scene I am quite big for a runner (or even a person) being six feet two inches tall and around fourteen and half stone (203 lbs). In most people’s minds I don't think I fit into the category of the standard sized runner, as you can see from the picture below:

I have often wondered whether my size will make a difference as to the likelihood of sustaining running injuries. Surely the bigger a person is then the more stress they will put on their body and the more often they will get injured. I have lost count over the years of the people that have told me that they are too big to take up running. Is this a myth or is there some truth in this theory?

When reading Tread Lightly recently I noticed a comment that stated that when you run for each time your foot contacts the ground the forces that are applied are between 2.2 to 2.7 times your own body weight. For me then that is between 447 to 548 lbs which according to the net is greater than the weight of a baby elephant! Weight is an important factor in force so the heavier you are then the higher the force and as such you are probably at a greater risk of a running injury.

It was also interesting to read a study on the links between weight and injuries carried out on 848 novice runners preparing for a 4 mile (6.7 km) race. The study found that of those who were overweight (BMI of over 25) 25% suffered an injury to their back or legs causing a restriction in running for a week whereas for those who were classed as having a normal weight only 15% suffered the same type of injuries.

However weight is not the only factor that needs to be considered when evaluating the risk of contracting a running injury. An interesting study looked at the factors that affect the risk of lower extremity injuries in runners. The study found that increased training distances and history of past injuries are the key risk factors for injury. The study even goes to suggest that overweight individuals are less prone to running injuries, although this is more likely to be linked to the fact that a heavier runner will undertake less training than those who are lighter.

Does Runner size make a difference?  

I think what we can take from the above is that yes as bigger runner you have a slightly higher risk of injury than a smaller runner. However the key factors that will mean that you get hurt or not are the amount of miles that you run and whether you have had past injuries. What should also be considered is that as you increase your running, as long as you don’t eat more calories than you are burning, you will lose weight so reducing the significance of weight as a factor. So all but the very big should not get worried about size when it comes to injuries and running. I received an inspirational tweet the other day from @teamrunner4life which is a good place to finish:
"There are no age, size, or speed requirements to be a runner. You are as fit & fast as you feel. The only excuses are the ones you create”
How about you what are your views do you think your size makes a difference to injuries?

Wednesday 17 October 2012

New Balance MT1010 Coming to the UK

The New Balance MT1010 is a shoe that seems to fill a niche that is not adequately filled by other running shoes: it is relatively light (224g for US 9) and provides adequate protection for rougher trails.The protection comes from a rock plate that runs from the front of the shoe to the midfoot.

The rock plate will prevent rocks, tree roots etc from impacting on the sole of the foot. The MT1010 also provides a little cushioning which is likely to make it ideal for longer trail runs. 

I decided to contact New Balance UK today to find out if they had any plans to release the shoes here (they have been available in the US since July 2012). I have always been impressed by the level of customer service from New Balance and this query was no different. Half an hour later I received the reply I was looking for:

Monday 15 October 2012

Part 1: My Quest to Become a Better Runner - The Baseline

This will be the first post in a series considering changes that can be made to become a better runner. To set the scene I wanted to post about what I have tried already and how I plan to identify further improvements.

First of all what is a ‘better’ runner? I think from my perspective it includes the following factors, all of which in one way or another are closely linked:

  • reduced amount of running injuries,
  • greater enjoyment of the running experience,
  • a more efficient runner, and
  • improved race times.

The more of the above that can be achieved then obviously the better.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Choosing a Running Route

Choosing a good route for a run is important; it can ensure a run is more enjoyable and reduce the risk of injury. I have identified six key factors that you might want to consider when choosing a running route, these are identified in the following graphic and described further in the text below.

Running Terrain

I personally enjoy a mix of running surfaces, one of my favourite runs is around half minor road and half bridleway. There is some evidence to suggest that a different type of running terrain will result in a different type of stress on muscle, tendons and ligaments. Running on one type of terrain all the time places the same type of stress on the body in the same areas resulting in an increased risk of an overuse injury.  A change in running surface can also make the running experience more varied and help reduce boredom.

Saturday 29 September 2012

The Truth About Sports Products

Just a quick post about an episode of the BBC's  Panaorma programme the ‘The Truth About Sports Products’. The episode was aired on British TV a few months back, but I have just noticed that it has appeared on You Tube.

The first part of the programme gives a good account of the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of branded sports drinks and supplements. It certainly got me thinking about simplifying my nutrition for running. 

The second part of the programme talks about the lack of evidence regarding the injury prevention boasts of conventional running shoes (pronation control etc), it even has an appearance by the natural running guru Daniel Lieberman

You can find out more about the content of the programme here.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

World's Biggest Half Marathon Great North Run

It's just over a week since this year's Great North Run. This is the sixth time I have run the race and as usual it was an amazing day. For those of you who know little about the race the Great North Run is the world's best attended half marathon, with over 50,000 runners. The race is run in the north east of England - from Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields as you can see from the route overview below.

BUPA Great North Run Route

Tuesday 18 September 2012

A Budget Minimalist Running Shoe for Less Than £10

I just picked up a new pair of running shoe from Decathlon while on holiday in Italy recently that seems to tick all the boxes for a good minimalist running shoe (without actually using them for running at the moment!). The shoe is branded as ‘Newfeel’ according to the label on the side of the shoes.

They are zero drop from heel to toe, and have no arch support whatsoever. The sole is made from plastic and is only about five millimetres in depth, so they don’t offer much cushioning. The shoes do not come with an insole so I decided to fit a thin general flat  insole that I bought from a supermarket for about £4 for 6 pairs.

Being the sort of person who spends quite a bit of money on running shoes I am intrigued as to how these will perform in comparison to my branded minimalist shoes. I will give them a month or so and report back on the blog how they worked out.

Monday 17 September 2012

Tread Lightly Book Review

Tread Lightly is a book by Peter Larson and Bill Katovsky. Pete is well known in running blog circles as being the writer of  This and other blogs have been a great help to me in learning how to adopt a more natural running technique over the past year.


Tread Lightly provides a good introduction to current research on natural  running - that is running in a manner that is more akin to running barefoot. It provides a balanced view of the science and anecdotal evidence (where research is lacking) surrounding running injury risk reduction and is likely to be of use to the recreational runner and the more serious runner. I would highly recommend that you read this book. 


The book is very balanced. The authors provide a very honest opinion of the relative merits and disadvantages of natural running issues. This is often backed up by summaries of research, where available or anecdotal evidence where it is not. Coming from a science background I liked this aspect of the book as it not based on opinion but is backed up largely by hard facts.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Top Ten Tips For Running Beginners

I was just thinking the other day about when I started running and how it took me a while to get to grips with some of the basics. Although running is in some ways a relatively simple sport there are a number of things to consider that will make your running experience that little bit easier.

So from what I have leaned over my running career, my top ten tips (in no particular order) for running success are:

Saturday 15 September 2012

Upcoming Salomon Kielder Marathon

I will also be repeating my Kielder Marathon experience when the race is run again on the 7th October.

Salomon Kielder Marathon Elevation Profile
The marathon is unique in that it follows the Lakeside Tail around Kielder Water with one lap of the water equalling the marathon distance. It is a beautiful spot in rural Northumberland in the North of England most of the time you are running through pine trees

The marathon is not easy, it is the most hilly marathon I have run. As you can see from the elevation profile I recorded on my Garmin GPS watch below, there are  no real killer hills just lots of small one - lots of ups and down that slowly sap your strength. 

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Running Without Socks

I always ran with socks, right up until about March 2012. I have to admit I have tried being sockless in the past, but not for running, usually on holiday somewhere warm. But my feet would end up sweaty and rub on my shoes causing blisters. 

There I was working away from home in London and I noticed someone on the train who had just been to the gym not wearing socks with running shoes. I don’t know why but It made something click in my mind. I had always worn socks and not thought much about not wearing them when running. So I decided to give running sockless a try.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Running Shoe Wear

Since January 2012  I have made some significant changes to the way I run.

It is generally perceived that a more natural running technique involves a ‘mid-foot’ strike (where pretty much all of the foot hits the ground at the same time) rather than a heel strike (where the heel hits the ground first followed by the forefoot). Being keen to make some quick changes to my running technique this was one of the first things I did to adopt a more natural running style.

Sunday 9 September 2012

My Running Shoe Pile

I have a confession to make I am a shoeaholic, this is my pile of running shoes. I have counted 10 pairs. I got to admit I don't wear quite a number of them since I converted to running in minimalist shoes. Imagine the smell!

Sunday 2 September 2012

5 Reasons Why I Like the Great North Run

The Great North Run (GNR)  is nearly upon again and I can’t wait. Living only about fifteen miles from the start line this is a race I do every year and such this will be my sixth GNR.

You tend to get  some serious runners who get a bit snooty about the GNR as it is a mass participation run with around 50,000 participants every year - apparently the world’s largest half marathon, but who cares it is a great race.

There are a number of things that I love about the race and I decided to put them into a top five, so here goes:


with the music pumping and fifty thousand runners at the start line it makes for a tremendous atmosphere, when I look back at the start line I cannot see where the runners end - it still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!


The finish is spectacular, thousands of people line the last mile of the race, there is even a small grandstand,  the spectators make a lot of noise and it really forces you to run the last mile much faster then you would normally. Amazing!

Half a mile from the finish GNR 2011

3. The kindness of the local residents 

The race route goes through built up parts of Gateshead and South Shields and the local residents provide drinks (the oddest I saw one year was home brewed beer!), sweets and hose piped water, they also give exceptional support.


The runners are from all types of backgrounds from elites (Mo Farah will run the race this year) to fun runners. The costumes that people wear amaze me sometimes I think there is a bloke doing completing the run this year with a fridge strapped to his back!

5. Charity

The race raises many millions of pounds for charity which is the icing on the cake!

So good luck to all who are participating in this year GNR, I can’t wait!

What do you like about the Great North Run?

Friday 31 August 2012

The History of the Paralympics

Once in while you find a real gem on the TV, that you weren't expecting and watching ‘the best of men’ on BBC2 last month was definitely one of those. This was a real inspirational programme for me and is a drama that follows the development of the precursor to the paralympics - the Stoke Mandeville Games. After watching the drama I wanted to tell you about the main character Sir Ludwig Guttman.

Dr Guttman arrives in England from Germany in 1939 after life in Nazi Germany becomes intolerable. In 1943 Dr Guttman is asked by the British Government to found the national spinal injuries centre in Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. As director of the centre he believed that sport could be used as a vehicle  for spinal injuries  patients to improve there health, aid recovery and gain self respect. This was contrary to the treatment of spinal injury patients at the time which involved keeping them as inactive as possible.

The first Stoke Mandeville games were founded by Dr Guttman in 1948 on the exact same day the Olympics Games in London began. By 1952 the games had grown massively with competitors attending from around the world. This impressed Olympic officials and lead to the International Stoke Mandeville Games being held alongside the 1960 Olympics in Rome. These are now recognised by the International Olympic Committee as the first ever paralympic games. In 1966 Ludwig Guttman was knighted and received many honours around the world. He died at the age of 80 in 1980.

One thing struck me was that Guttman was a man who was prepared to do things differently - to try things out that had never been done before. This takes a lot of self belief and courage and is something that we can all apply to our running lives - whether it is entering a first marathon, changing running technique or loosing a few pounds!

To me as a keen runner we often tend to look towards the feat of other runners for inspiration, to push us through those twenty miles training runs. However don’t forget the feats of other none running people such as Sir Ludwig Guttman.

What about you who are your inspirations to complete that hard run?

Friday 24 August 2012

The Basics of Natural Running

I am a big fan of the natural running scene having made some major changes to my running technique and running in minimalist running shoes since January 2012. This is something I will be discussing more over the coming month. Anyway if you want to make some changes to the way you run to help reduce injury risk take a look at the film below. It features Daniel Lieberman from Harvard University who is a guru on natural running. It is a great introduction to the topic.