I have just completed a cross-country tour from Texas to the east coast. It began with a start in deep east texas all the way to the Tennessee/ North Carolina border, then up to wild and wonderful West Virginia. We spent a few days in Richmond, VA before heading back to snow in Texas.
The primary reason for the east coast swing was my participation at the New Trends in the Prevention of Running Injuries taught by Blaise Dubois and Sean Cannon of The Running Clinic International based in Quebec City, Canada. The conference is a presentation of the most current research and data about running, injuries, and biomechanics.
We were hosted on the beautiful 500 acre campus of the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. It was the first time that this conference was to be held in the United States. Blaise and his team has worked with olympic athletes, world record holders and has taught this class all over the world. His experience, expertise and enthusiasm were clearly communicated over the weekend. He is by all measures one of the leading running experts in the world.
Not to be outdone was the phenomenal collection of attendants to the conference. I would go as far to say that our little room in West Virginia hosted some of the best mind in running today. There were researchers, doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, running industry professionals and editors of my favorite running publications. This was my running nirvana.
I come back to Texas feeling recharged and very excited. More importantly I came away feeling connected to a tribe of people who are some of the driving forces in the renaissance the sport of running is going through. Many of running’s most antiquated ideas and pre-conceived notions are finally being challenged with peer reviewed data and research.
I came away with two initial big impressions. I can only speak for myself but had a great feeling of validation for my personal approach to running and where I believe the sport is headed. There is true genius in the design and purpose of the human body. How you use and develop what you were born takes big precedence over buying tools to perform functions your body can do far better.
The second impression was with regards to research. There is some research that is out there about running, mechanics and shoes. One of my favorites over the past few years was from Dr. Craig Richards (who attended the conference all the way from Australia!), “Is Your Prescription of Running Shoes Evidence Based?” In the British Journal of Sports Medicine. However, for every great study that has been done there are still some huge holes in terms of running research, particularly with regards to footwear efficacy. Really basic questions like “Do running shoes prevent injuries?” have not been answered with quantifiable methodolgy. My hope is that running shoe companies that make claims about shoes as a tool for the prevention of running injuries will step up to the plate. The good ones will.
As I am just now able to sit down and do some good digesting of the information, I reflect on how really grateful that I was able to be a part of this experience. There are times in life when you know you are a part of something really special. I am hesitant to call this the beginning of a revolution, but I did get the feeling the momentum towards a tipping point in running with how we perceive and utilize form, technique and shoes in the running experience.
There was a ton of really important information and concepts that I will be breaking it into more specified posts and topics over the coming weeks. My deepest gratitude goes to the phenomenal Dr. Mark Cucuzella (and owner of a great running store trtreads.org) for organizing this event and sharing his city, his store and his passion for the running experience.