As if you couldn’t tell from my posts this week, my weekend with Runner’s World was freakin’ awesome. The people, the races (all three of them!), the food, Matt Long, the list goes on. Well, the event was also educational as I learned a great deal. We were fortunate to work with the folks at ICON Health & Fitness.
ICON has been the innovation leader in the fitness world since 1977. Now, they include brands such as NordicTrack, ProForm, Weider, Reebok, and Gold’s Gym. One of their brands that I was able to learn about firsthand is Altra Zero Drop – the official sponsor for the RW weekend. A guy named Golden founded Altra Zero Drop, and he knows what he’s talking about as he holds the world record for the fast twelve year old to run a marathon (2 hours 45 minutes).
If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is! The Altra shoes have a zero drop from the heel to the toe. What does that mean? Running shoes typically have more cushion in the heel, with an average of a 12 mm drop. Altra has zero, but they are not minimalist shoes. Altra shoes put your feet in their natural position. The LTR in Altra stands for Learn To Run (or Live To Run or Love To Run), and Golden gave us a rundown of the steps to improving your running:
1. Balanced Forward Posture
- Stand tall, gaze forward.
- Chest forward, shoulders back and relaxed.
- Don’t bend at the waist.
- In order to reset your posture, stretch both your hands up and reach for the moon. I actually did this during my races this past weekend. Other runners probably thought I was a weirdo, but I didn’t care… since I was passing them.
2. Compact Arms
- Girls naturally swing their arms side to side (this is incorrect).
- Fists should not cross midline.
- Elbows should not pass hips (unless sprinting).
3. Proper Foot Strike
- Land softly under a bent knee.
- Try to avoid excessive heel striking.
4. High Cadence
- Optimal rate for reducing injuries is 170 – 190 steps per minute.
- Count one leg for 20 seconds; should be around 30 steps for a 180 cadence.
For more information, read here on the Altra Zero Drop website. While Altra shoes began in Golden’s basement, they have grown tremendously and have helped a large amount of people overcome injuries, run faster, run longer, and run more efficiently. I was gifted a pair of Altra Zero Drop shoes and I’m excited to give them a try.
And they look cool, which never hurts matters. Love the pink, gray, and black design. Speaking of pink, that reminds me. Golden informed us that women’s shoes are usually just smaller versions of men’s shoes. “Shrink ‘em and pink ‘em,” the industry says. However, women’s feet are different from men’s, and Altra Zero Drop shoes are designed around our feet – not the guys!
You’ll notice in the picture I’m wearing a pair of Swiftwick socks. We were give a couple of pairs and challenged to wear the same pair of socks all weekend long and then smell them. Seriously, you read that right.
Yep, that’s me sniffing my Swiftwick socks after wearing them all day on Friday, Saturday, and throughout my three races. Verdict? See that smile? They don’t stink! I wore them the whole weekend and they did not stretch out, lose their shape, or smell bad! Those are some impressive socks. Swiftwick’s got it going on.
What, you don’t smell your socks? Have you heard of Altra Zero Drop shoes before?