Monday, February 2, 2015

How I Beat Plantar Fasciitis

Here is a copy of my most recent article submitted to the Clifton Road Runners Monthly Newsletter!

If you reside in New Jersey and would like to become a member of Clifton Road Runners, please visit this website for more information about how you can join my team: 

How I Beat Plantar Fasciitis
Shannon McGinn, RRCA Certified Running Coach
February 2015
Until a few years ago, I had suffered from debilitating Plantar Fasciitis, on and off, for most of my running life. I started running for a team way back when I was 9 years old, so this has been quite the battle. I visited many podiatrists. I tried various treatments. Nothing seemed to help. Once I understood the function of the plantar fascia, the common causes of Plantar Fasciitis, and difference between treatment and prevention, I was then able to treat it successfully as well as prevent its return.  

What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is connective tissue that supports the arch of the foot.  Plantar Fasciitis (PF) occurs when there is damage to this tissue. PF is terribly debilitating because once the fascia is damaged, it is very difficult to heal. We use our feet daily, consequently re-injuring the fascia daily. Usually, that very first painful step out of bed tends to undo all the healing that took place over the course of the sleeping hours. 

A Common Big Mistake: Confusing Prevention for Treatment 

The biggest mistake I believe people make is turning to preventative measures when treatment is needed. Prevention of PF involves keeping the fascia flexible. Stretching or using a ball to rolling out the fascia will achieve this goal. Low drop shoes are another way to keep the plantar fascia, the achilles tendon, and the calf pliable and healthy.  

However, Treatment involves the opposite actions. Immobility and stabilization of the foot will allow the fascia to heal. Elevating the heel will help relieve tension. Stretching a torn fascia or using shoes that aggravate the area results in re-tearing the tissue day after day. Prevention used during the acute stage of an injury acts only to prolong recovery. 

Finding Peer Reviewed Evidenced-Based Treatment Methods
I am not a doctor. I am a coach. I advise all of my runners to see a doctor if they are experiencing pain, especially pain that does not improve or worsens. This is no exception. If you have health insurance, some of the products discussed below may be even be covered by your insurance. However, many people prefer to turn to home treatment first. 

There is lot of information and misinformation about treating PF.  I utilized the Cochrane Reviews to identify the most reliable studies about effective treatments. The Cochrane Library contains a database of peer-reviewed medical studies that are analyzed, ranked by quality, and summarized. The Cochrane Library is considered to be a key resource in evidence-based medicine.

Accordingly (and not surprisingly), the most reliable research concludes that PF is very difficult to treat and often spontaneously resolves without clear explanation.  As a result, many people report the last thing they tried was their miracle cure. This leads to crazy suggestions like soaking feet in apple cider (which is a real suggestion, but does not have any merit.) 

The Methods I Used to Successfully Treat and Prevent PF
Below are some proven methods to help manage plantar fasciitis. I used all the methods I will discuss below. I found relief from each of them. 

(1) Try to immobilize the fascia allowing the damage to heal.
If you selected just one thing to do, it needs to be Low Dye Taping for Plantar Fasciitis. This is a specific method of taping the arch with a criss-crossed pattern that wraps around the heel. The tape creates a stable external structural support for the foot, giving the fascia a little vacation from its job and allows it to heal.  See the video link to understand how this is done.

Do NOT tape only when running. We use our plantar fascia with every step we take. Keep your foot taped for 24 hours per day until the pain is gone. I recommend taping before bedtime, so the foot is stabilized and ready for that first step out of bed in the morning. Taping at night, before a morning run, allows the tape to adhere securely before running.  Taping directly before a race or run may result in tape shifting and a negative experience. 

Taping takes practice. You will go through a lot of tape to get it right. A properly taped foot should feel very comfortable with imperceptible tape if you are not in motion and/or off your feet. When your walk on a properly taped foot, you should feel the tape snug up a bit as your foot rolls though a step.  This snugging up prevents the fascia from stretching too far and re-injuring itself. If you feel like the tape is pinching, then the tape is too tight. 

Do NOT use KT Tape or Rock tape. Those tapes are entirely too stretchy and provide insufficient support.  Save your money and use cheap sports tape that has no give at all.  It will be wrinkly.  Do you best to minimize wrinkles as much as possible. 

This link shows the method I used.  I was been able to tape effectively with much less tape than what is used in this video.  I used two long strips to make the X, as seen in the video. I then used three short strips to support the arch area.  I did not need to use the anchoring strips.  I found that with clean dry feet, the tape adhered very well, especially if I taped many hours prior to running (like the night before) to give the adhesive time to warm up and adhere its best. 

Once the pain subsides, I recommend tapering down the slowly taping over time.  Start by taping only when running. If you remain pain free, then tape only for long runs and races. If still feeling pain free, then tape only for races.  And finally try no taping at all. Increase frequency of taping to as much as needed to eliminate or minimize PF pain if it returns.

(2) Elongate the fascia during the healing process to minimize re-tearing.
When off your feet, the foot wants to relax. The fascia shortens without any pressure on it to hold it taunt. When we sleep, the fascia heals in this shortened position. Then we wake up, step out of bed and rapidly elongate the fascia. This tears away the early stages of healing that occurred overnight.  Day after day, this cycle continues and PF becomes a nightmare. 

“The Strassburg Sock” is the second best tool I discovered. The Sock works by pulling the toes up to keep the fascia stretched out. The tears of the fascia heal with the fascia in the elongated position. This means when you stand up, first thing in the morning, you are less likely to re-tear it.  The company recommends sleeping in it the socks. I found that impossible due to discomfort.  Instead, I would wear them to bed for a long as possible and pull them off when I felt they were disrupting my sleep. I set them next to the bed so that first thing in the morning, I could put them back on. This  allowed me to use the mechanism of these sock to passively stretch the fascia in a way that did not rapidly elongate and re-tear the tissue. These socks were not a cure but resulted in 85% relief for me in 1-3 nights. Because the sock passively stretch my fascia, I now use them as prevention, by periodically wearing them even when my plantar fascias feels fine.  

There are other devices on the market that aim to elongate the fascia while we sleep. Some report these devices are more comfortable to sleep in than The Socks.  Here is one example

(3) Elevate the heel to reduce strain while PF heals.  
One main cause of PF is tight calves and achilles tendons, which pull on the fascia until it tears under the strain. There is a unfortunate trend in running shoes where LOW DROP is becoming the norm.  Low drop shoes put more stress and strain on the calves and achilles. Despite rave reviews, angry plantar fascias do not like low drop shoes. To reduce the strain while the PF heals, we need to elevate the heel not drop them down. (Low drop shoes have a place as a preventative tool, but are not effective as treatment).

There are several ways to elevate the heel. Choosing a running shoe with higher drop will help a lot. (I have about 5 different types of shoes with various drops in my rotation just to help keep my feet healthy.) Others get fitted for custom orthotics, but this takes weeks. Some purchase over the counter inserts from the pharmacy that target PF. I find that heel cups are the least expensive way to take the pressure off the fascia. Buy these from your pharmacy.  They are worth it and will keep you heel elevated protecting your fascia from fully extending and tearing and re-tearing. Once the PF is healed, the heel cups or the inserts will not longer be needed. 

(4) Passively Stretch the Calves and Achilles
“The Boot” or Night Splints are a great tool to treat the cause of the PF which is often attributed to tight calves and tight achilles pulling on the fascia. The Boots may seem similar but they do a different thing than “The Sock”.  The Sock passively stretch and hold the fascia in the elongated position. The Boots passively stretch the calves and achilles. I found that wearing the Boots to stretch for 30 minutes at a time a few nights per week was enough stretching for me to notice a difference. I use the Boot now as prevention, by occassionally wearing the boot to keep my calves and achilles flexible, especially when I am in the midst of a training cycle and my investment in my training is great.  

(5) Preventing your first step out of bed from ruining the healing that occurred over night.

By gently massaging your feet in the morning prior to stepping out of bed, you will be warming up the tissue and gently making it more pliable before stepping out of bed. Stepping onto a soft surface helps as well. I used a pillow or a folded towel. This will help to prevent re-tearing of the tissue upon the first step. Do this daily as you work towards being pain free.  Once the PF is healed, you should continue to make massaging the fascia a regularly practice.  Some people also find it very helpful to roll their feet over a tennis ball a few nights per week or in the morning before they stand up.

(6) Pain and inflammation management
Often people recommend using a frozen water bottle to treat PF.  A frozen water bottle is a good thing to keep on hand, but it is not going to heal PF.  Icing is helpful after a run, or after you have done something that has irritated or damaged the fascia. Just like with any other injury RICE is the first line of treatment. But, once damage is done, ice does not speed healing.  Ice is an effective way to manage pain and possibly minimize or reduce inflammation.  A water bottle is nicely shaped to allow you to roll your arch over the bottle, getting the cold ice exactly where the pain is. 

(7) Preventing PF from returning
Once you have use the above methods to get your PF under control your job is to be aggressively pro-active to prevent its return. There is no “Wait and See” with PF.  

One of the best preventative things you can do is stretching. People tend to stretch in an attempt to speed healing. The body does not work that way.  Aggressively stretching a torn fascia does not allow tears to heal.  However once the PF is resolved, then stretching is preventative and should include the achilles and calves as well.  Use the Strassburg socks periodically.  Use the Boot as as well.  Roll the arches out over tennis balls.  Now is the time to return to those Low Drop shoes.  But as soon as you notice the very first signs of soreness warning that PF is on its way, immediately resume taping 24 hours per day until that pain is gone.

Plantar Fasciitis is a heart breaking condition that is so very hard to treat. I hope that these tips here will help many find relief.


Shannon McGinn is an RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and the owner of Creating Momentum, LLC.  She is a life-long runner, becoming more involved in racing after surviving cancer.  She considers herself a marathon and ultramarathon specialist, earning several USATF National Championship top 10 or better placements in the 50k and 50M distances. She has not missed a day of running since December 2011.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Plyometrics (e.g. Jumping Rope) as Cross-Training, especially for Downhill Races

If you reside in New Jersey and would like to become a member of Clifton Road Runners, please visit this website for more information on how to join: 

Here is a copy of my most recent article submitted to Clifton Road Runners Monthly Newsletter!

Plyometrics (e.g. Jumping Rope) as Cross-Training, especially for Downhill Races
Shannon McGinn
Distance Running Coach 

Plyometrics, also known as "jump training" or "plyos", are exercises based on having muscle exert maximum force in as short of a time as possible with the goal of increasing both speed and power. (See Plyometrics are a powerful addition to running programs, especially programs focused on helping runners develop explosive speed. We see sprinters using these techniques regularly. 

Benefits of Plyometrics.
Plyometrics help the muscles “produce more power by training the muscles to contract more quickly and forcefully from an actively pre-stretched position”. They can contribute to improved performance at distances of 10k and under. Studies have found that in recreational runners, plyometrics have helped to improve running economy in those who train and race at paces between 7:30-10:00. Studies with elites shows that plyometrics had its greatest impact on paces 5:20 or under. It seems elites already have figured out how to move efficiently at paces between 5:30-7:30 minute per mile. Since most of us here are not elite, any improvement to running economy is going to help us run better, even at longer distances. (See

Dangers of Plyometrics.
Although the studies have shown that plyometrics can help make a runner more efficient, it is also true that simply running more mileage can improve running economy and efficiency with a much lower risk of injury.  (See

Plyometrics are explosive exercises. People have a tendency to take things to the extreme.  Extremely explosive activity can contribute to muscle strains and tears. Plyometrics involve a lot of jumping up, down, and over things and the clumsy jumper (like me) can end up with injuries related to missteps during the jumping or landing. This is not what we need during marathon training. Accordingly, plyometrics done in intense ways can carry a very high injury risk.   

Jumping Rope for Better Form 
One of the safest and effective forms of plyometrics is Jumping Rope.  Jumping rope is practically impossible to do with poor technique, therefore it is an ideal training tool. The intensity can be regulated and matched to ability and comfort level. If you slouch, use poor timing, etc, the rope catches and the exercise stops. Perform the jumping and timing at the appropriate pace and you will reap benefits of better posture, strengthening of the musculoskeletal system, improved explosive power in the legs, and improved cardiovascular system. Jumping rope is also travel friendly, doesn’t require a partner, and if done inside, eliminates variables related to weather.
Jumping rope can be done in a variety of ways. It can be performed by springing up from the calves two feet at a time, or by lifting the knees one at a time allowing more or less engagement of various muscle groups. Because jumping rope can be done one leg at time, it can allow us to work one side of the body more than the other, which can be used to correct imbalances. Running cannot isolate one side of the body in this way. 

The Rule of Specificity says distance running is most improved by doing more distance running. However, this does not mean that other activities do not have value when added in a way that does take away from the time dedicated to distance running or recovering from distance running.  “Although jumping rope may not seem sport specific, it is extremely posture specific. It improves the ability to maintain a long spine and actually has far less impact than sprinting or jogging.”

The Rule of Specificity
Anyone who has spent time picking my brain about my training methodology knows that I define myself as a “Specificisist” (I am sure that is not a real word). I am firm believer in the Rule of Specificity, which proposes that to get better any activity, one needs to do that activity as much as possible. If you want to be a better writer, then write more. If you want to be a better actor, then act more.  If you want to be a runner, then cross train more ... Wait, that isn’t right! :) If you want to be a better runner, then run more.  Run as much as safely possible. 

I know that people have jobs, families, and obligations and very limited amount of time per day to train. This is both due to time constraints as well as physical constraints (we get tired or injured if we train too much). When faced with 6-10 hour of time to train per week (the average amount of time I see most people can carve out for training weekly), I fill that time with “Run Training” first. The second thing I add is Recovery time (with Rest days and General Maintenance paced running). I never cut back run time or recovery time in order to add cross training because I don’t believe cross training is better than running or resting from hard running. Running is the most specific thing we can do to become better runners and resting from running is what we need to allow fitness gains to manifest. Cross-Training instead of recovering from Run Training is needed is a mistake.

But there are some exception. I do feel that cross training is more valuable than running, when a runner has trouble maxing out their training time with Run Training due to current or past injury history.  Even if a runner can carve out the time, once a runner has maxed out there ability to run injury free, then the balance of training time can be filled with Cross Training and Rest/Recovery. It make no sense to run anyone into the ground.  

Jumping as Preparation for Downhill Racing.
I also feel there is value to cross training when race day specifics can not be duplicated.  In the case that we find ourselves preparing for DOWNHILL races (i.e. Steamtown, Run for the Red, even Mohawk Hudson, etc), we first want to get out to hills and train on them. We want to run up and downhill as much as possible. The second best thing we can do to prepare for downhill running is to do plyometrics.  When time or location makes it impossible to get the amount of downhill run training needed to best prepare for a downhill race, then it is time to add in jumping rope.  

Getting Started - Measuring the Rope.
“First, measure the jump rope. Stand on the rope with the left foot in the center of the body directly under the body and pull the handles of the rope up to your armpits. The handles should just graze the inside of the top of the armpits and go no higher than the top of your shoulders. Adjust the rope accordingly.

A novice should purchase a beaded rope that can be adjusted. The extra weight of the beaded rope provides more feedback for beginners. As proficiency with jumping rope increases, move to a lighter rope, which forces improvements in technique and allows the rope to be turned with greater speed.”

Where to Jump Rope
“Any surface that will not damage the rope and is free of obstacles is adequate as long as it is flat and fairly hard. Wooden floors, tile floors, asphalt surfaces, and concrete surfaces have all been used. Asphalt and concrete are rough on the texture of the rope and will break down the rope at a quicker rate. Another solution is to cut a small piece of plywood, 3 or 4 feet square, and lay it over grass that has been closely mowed. The grass will hold the board slightly above the ground, providing a forgiving surface while still allowing the rope to turn,without catching on grass or other obstacles. This is a great alternative for the athlete on turf who wants to cross-train at practice.”

The Routine:
I have included a 10 minute YouTube Jumping Rope interval routine to follow.  I think this is a great place to start as it shows a variety of different ways to jump rope and it also breaks up 10 minutes of jumping into smaller manageable sets. I recommend doing this 2-3 x per week either immediately after any workout, whenever you have time to fit this in, or as a second workout of the day, ideally after you have completed your run for the day. 

Where this video advises stretching out the body in between sets, I recommend you instead march in place or pace between sets. Stretching can be traumatic enough to push tired muscle over the edge into a strain or tear.  I do not advise stretching in the middle of workouts unless you are suffering from a long term chronic issue. Here is the routine.
Have fun!


Shannon McGinn is an RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and the owner of Creating Momentum, LLC.  She is a life-long runner, becoming more involved in racing after surviving cancer.  She considers herself a marathon and ultramarathon specialist, earning several USATF National Championship top 10 or better placements in the 50k and 50M distances. She has not missed a day of running since December 2011.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ashenfelter 8k, Glen Ridge NJ, 11/27/14

I wasn't sure if I even would be able to attend this race. I knew I actually did not want to. I have a lot of things going on at home that have shifted my focus from running. What? Yes, it is true.  Right now, I still run every day, but running high mileage is not happening.

On October 27, Sidney and I decided to pulled a dog, we named her Piper, from a list of shelter dogs scheduled to be euthanized within the next week or so. She was the first dog on the list that had no donations pledged to help with her rescue costs meaning she was more likely to not be rescued. We knew Enzo has a real problem with dogs he meets in parks, but he had become much more relaxed (for him) around some dogs familiar to him.  We thought we had a chance to save a new pup and give her a good life.  I had been encouraged by many people who claim to have experience with dogs. I was told that dogs treat dogs that are part of the family differently than dogs that are not part of the family. I was told that it often starts of challenging but then the dogs find a way to be ok. I was told Enzo needs time around a dogs daily to come around and this can work.  Sid is planning to home often for weeks and this was the only time we would have with almost 24 hour supervision so this was the time to try to get a second dog.

The last month has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life and I have been through some very stressful experiences.  Enzo is not accepting of her inside the house.  He will tolerate her on a walk.  Inside the house he is not happy and will get snappy with her. The constant tension in our home is oppressive. We have dedicated any time we can spare from other things to work the dogs together and separately or rotate the dogs so that neither is isolated too long.  Not only was Enzo completely unreceptive to a new housemate, it turned out that Piper initially was unfriendly and aggressive, at times, towards people. Piper spent her first 5 days, in her bedroom, trying to be curious about us, but then growling and sometimes snapping at us for doing things like offering her food or toys, for touching her, trying to clip the leash on her to walk her, for looking at her, for talking to her.  Enzo would go crazy if he caught a glimpse of her through the gate, lunging and barking relentlessly and trying to get at her. He was not redirectable. So I had one dog that wanted to bite me whenever I looked at her… and another dog that wanted bite her just for being present.  This is hard.

It took 5 days of simply sitting in the same room as Piper, waiting for her to come to me when she was ready. Piper was terrified of any sounds related to daily life. Typing on my phone or computer scared her, the heat being blowing from the vents scared her.  Showers, toilets flushing, the dishwasher, opening doors, etc… all scared her.  Enzo looked sick and withdrawn.  He spent little time with me choosing to retreat to the basement or stay outside. He was louder and more obnoxious at the park when we did run with him.  When together, Sid and I split up and I spent more time with Piper, trying to teach her a language to use, and basic manners for living inside a house.  Sid kept Enzo company and made sure he felt loved.  For the first 5 days, I was so incredibly stressed I lost 5 lbs.  But then she turn a corner and suddenly realized that we were good people and she was safe with us. Now I have no fear at all that she will snap at me and she is no longer nervous around people at all. I can take food from her mouth if I need to, pick her up, handle her, train her, play with her, nap with her… She is a great dog.

Today it has been over 3 weeks since we picked up Piper on 11/14 after she was pulled and boarded at a Vet's where she was spayed and treated for other conditions like heart worms. Enzo and Piper still cannot be in the same room.  I am not actually sure it is possible for Enzo to accept her more than this ever. We are still trying to help them along with very systematic methods of behavior modification (classical, operant, counter conditioning, systematic desensitization, etc… we have pheromone diffusers in the house, we allow them together until Enzo can't deal with it.  The time is getting long that they are together.  We are now up to 30 minutes, on leashes, in the house, which a huge improvement from where they started.  However, this is not going to work long term.  We are speaking with Vets, Trainers, etc, to get expert advice on whether this is ever likely to work.  We were told to give this more time.  At some point we will have to realize that Piper and Enzo will be better off NOT living together unless Enzo proves otherwise.  This is the most heartbreaking situation I have experience. No one in our house is happy, except the dogs when they are not together. There is nothing to suggest that this is going to get any better right now.  Many people are rooting for Piper and Enzo to get along and work it out.  The reality here is that we are going to have to decide how long we live in this situation.  My heart is broken.

I showed up at the A8k only because I needed to the race to improve my USA-TF Grand Prix score card.  To have a chance to move up in the standing I needed to better one of my Category II 700 pt scores.  The person who I was in most direct competition with was Aya.  Aya has had the most amazing year.  I have been watching her results on Facebook and in person at races. Week after week she has been getting faster and faster.  I have had a great set of races myself this year but I have not raced as much as Aya. She was getting faster and I was getting distracted and distressed. I really wasn't sure whether I could hold her off any more.

The fact that I have hardly been training really made feel very insecure. I felt exhausted and run down. I had lost weight and it was likely muscle and hydration.  I was not eating well.  So of the three things that all athletes need to do to optimize performance (eat well, sleep well, and train well), I was doing None well. I was really worried that this 8k would be one of the worst runs I have had in a long time.

I left the house later than I should. I drove around way too long to find parking. I collected my bib and T-shirt. I left the shirt on they gym floor with my Clifton Team's stuff, used the bathroom, and lined up. I didn't have a chance to warm up and I didn't really care.

I just wanted this to be over so I could rush home and then go to work.  It was Thanksgiving and even thought I didn't HAVE to work, I try to go in because not many people can get there.  I am a therapist on an inpatient psychiatric unit when I am not coaching, training, or racing.  Usually the patients who are in a psych hospital on a major holiday are the most in need of attention. It did not surprise me to find that during normal visiting hours 0 visitors were present.  The patients were actually happy to see me, which is not always the case.

I line up where it seems like I would be close to the start, but this is a large race and many people filed in in front of me. It took about 10 seconds for me to cross the starting line.  The first mile was crowded and I felt like I was often stuck behind groups of people.  I do my best to get a good start. M 6:41

During the second mile, Jim O. is just a bit behind me. I catch a glimpse of Aya creeping up on me in my peripheral.  Jim, being a lover of the sport, my teammate, and the person who encouraged me to attend this race by reminding that I needed this race to have a shot to move up the standings, notices Aya making a move.  I hear him say something like "On Your Left, Shannon" and Aya was right there.  I like Aya. As she cruises up next to me, we can still see her husband and I tell her… "Ok, we have 3 miles to catch Karl. I think we can do it." I really hoped we could push each other to do just that.  Karl had different plans.  M2 6:46

As we hit a descent, I decide I need to push a little to see if I can pull away from Aya. I feel like I am already fighting way too hard at this point, but I have to keep trying until I can't lift my legs. Everything hurts.  I can actually feel a side-stitch, something I have not felt in years.  I get a little distance on Aya and all I need to do is hold it… for the next few miles.  LOL!   I try to not look back to see where she is, but for the remainder of the race she was my only concern.  I could hear her breathing behind me the entire way so I knew she was always right there on my heels.  M3 6:45

For the next two miles, in my mind, no one else was there in the race with us. I love races like this. I know the course. I have it run this race many times. There was a hill coming up about 4.5 miles after the gradual incline from 3.5 to 4.5. I settled in during mile this section so that I could finish stronger.  I was over dressed so during this mile I threw my gloves and my top layer T-shirt on the ground next to a sign so I could remember where they fell.  M4 6:50

I was able to get up that final hill and dig for a small kick on the way in.  I was working as hard as I could to stay steady.  I was suffering more than I have suffered in a race in along time. I knew all of this was related to my falling off training while I try to bring peace back to my home.  I could hear Aya reeling me in and I was very aware of what I needed to do to hold my position. A nearby runner decides to take me under his wing. I appreciate his encouragement, but I really didn't need to run the last .3 miles with someone telling me I needed to try harder.  I utter between breaths, "You go on ahead... don't worry about me...  I'm ok," but he just kept next to me, telling me to try harder.  I had already felt a twinge in my calf and was concerned I might pull something if I forced a kick I had not prepared my body to sustain. I was running as fast as I felt I could sustain safely.  I tried to focus on listening for Aya and doing what I needed to do to hold off her.  Last. 97  6:35.

I finish. I thank that guy who did attempt to help me and then allowed me to cross the line before him.  I turned around and saw Aya right behind me. 2 seconds behind me.  I truly felt like Aya and I were a great team out there. We really ran our butts off!  I tell her, next year, we need to work together to run even faster than we can run trying to race each other! :)  She pointed out that next year we will actually be in different age groups so we wouldn't even need to be racing head to head any more!

As I went to pick up my shirt and gloves, a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, her father and her dog were walking by.  She asked me "Are you finished running?" I said, "Oh, Yes I am!"  She asked, "How far did you run today?" I said "Oh boy… Today I ran too far!"  She then asked, "If you had to run Too Far today, how do you know when you are done?"

I laughed and told her she was a very smart girl.  I explained "Well, I felt like I was done running at  mile 4, but I still had more to run until I got to the finish line where I could stop." Then, I asked her "Did you run today too?"  She laughed and said "Oh No Way!"  I told her she should run the One Mile next year.  He father looked at me like I was crazy.  She then shared that that she was really really excited to get home because a lot of people were coming over to have turkey at her house.  I told her to have a great day. I then walked across the street to see the results, hurried to get home to check on the Sidney and the dogs and then I rushed off to work.

Time: 33:46
Place 18th Female

Monday, November 3, 2014

Keep it Simple to Perform your Best: Using Sugar As Fuel.

I will be submitting articles to my Running Club for our monthly newsletter. If you reside in New Jersey and would like to become a member of Clifton Road Runners, please visit this website for more information on how to join: 

Here is a copy of the most recent article:

Keep it Simple to Perform your Best: Using Sugar As Fuel. 
by Shannon McGinn, RRCA Certified Distance Coach
October 2014

Recently I have noticed a lot of talk in the endurance world about the best way to fuel for the long haul. Runners are turning to low-carbohydrate diets and reporting excellent results. Most of these reports come from those following a Paleo diet plan. Simple sugars are being categorized as “bad” and if carbohydrates are used at all, more complex carbohydrates are being touted as the best way to fuel. 

There is some support from professionals who conclude that once a person has become fat-adapted, meaning they have trained their bodies to burn fat instead of glucose for energy, they will then be able to perform better in ultra-endurance events, such as those lasting over 5 hours. However, this goes against the long standing position that carbohydrates are required to fuel the body.  We need to remember that correlation does not imply causation. For example, in most cases a low-carb diet leads to significant weight loss and we know that simply dropping weight will automatically result in faster running. Therefore, I am not yet convinced that  low-carb is the way to go for sustainable training and optimal race day performances. 

Despite the newest theories about the body not needing carbohydrates for fuel, the American College of Sports Medicine continues to take the position that carbohydrates are required to maintain blood glucose levels during exercise and replace muscle glycogen. In my experience, simple carbohydrates fuel me best, even when my events last over 5 hours. I find the strain and distress on the body required to become fat-adapted to be extremely unpleasant and potentially unhealthy. If you want to keep things simple, you may find simple carbohydrates to be your best source of fuel as well. 

There are two main types of carbohydrates, complex and simple carbohydrates. Both types are made from sugar. Complex Carbohydrates are starch and fiber and made up of many molecules of sugar connected in chains. These chains must be broken down into single molecules of sugar to be used as energy. Simple Carbohydrates, often called simple sugars, are made of up of one or two molecules of sugar. As a result, it takes very little effort to use simple sugar as energy  Based upon my experience running close to 300 races and over 110 miles in one day, I have learned that simple carbohydrates are my ideal source of fuel when training my hardest, racing my fastest, or trying to endure. 

Keep in mind that there is a difference between what we should eat in daily life versus what we should be consuming as “fuel” during an endurance event.  In daily life, is it not a good idea to consume large amounts of simple sugar. Because very few nutrients come along with most simple sugars, our consumption of simple sugars should be limited. Simple sugars are often significantly abused, being consumed in unhealthy amounts when not needed. When too much sugar is consumed, what is not used is stored as fat.  Abuse of simple sugars often leads to serious health issues.

But during exercise, while the body is working hard, simple sugars have been proven to be an incredibly fast digesting fuel source, especially when compared to complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat. During a race, I seek out fast digesting sugar from densely caloric sources in the form of things I would never consume in day-to-day life. During a race, I consume simple sugars in small amounts along the way because they are so powerful. For example, in addition to what I take before a race, I will take one gel every 9-12 miles along with about 2-3 ounces of sports drink or soda per aid station, if available. Overloading my system with too much sugar can cause stomach upset and negative results. I consume what I can to burn, thus eliminating the concern that eating sugars during a race will result in longstanding health issues. 

How much sugar is enough? It is often recommended that endurance athletes attempt to consume 60-90 grams per hour (i.e. 240-360 calories per hour) to perform their best. I find this amount to be quite high and difficult for many to achieve. In my work with athletes, I find that newer runners tend to not consume any or nearly enough calories while training. Although we can get away with less fuel during our slower training runs, and in some cases depletion train on purpose, we should also practice how to fuel properly for a high intensity race. 

To practice proper race-day fueling, first do not plan to consume a large amount of sugar all at once. Instead plan to spread out your sugar consumption over the duration of your run. Consider initially increasing your consumption of carbohydrates to 100 calories per hour by simply taking one gel per hour. Over time, try to add more sources of carbohydrates, such as one gel per half hour or alternate with sports drink, to help get your carbohydrate intake as close to the recommended amount as you can tolerate. Keep in mind that your pre-run fuel also counts towards this total, so take a gel or two right before you start.  

You do not need to use only gel. Any simply sugar can work if you are able to consume it on the run. To identify what products contain simple sugar, when reading an ingredient list look for fructose, glucose, monosaccharides, lactose, maltose, and sucrose. Simple sugars may also be listed as raw sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, molasses, maple syrup, sugar cane syrup, cane juice, invert sugar, malt syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Simple sugars are naturally found in fruits, milk, and other dairy products.  

I spent years trying alternative, natural, and/or “healthier” fuel sources. I have found that complex carbohydrates take too long to digest or upset my stomach. Too much fructose alone is known to cause stomach upset and did so for me. But fructose along with other sugars is a great combination. Honey is a special case and has very positive results if you can find a way to carry it. 

Ultimately, those gel packets that I disliked at first have become my first choice in fueling for races of 90 minutes through a marathon. The are lightweight, densely packed with calories, easy to carry, and fast to digest. Gels along with race supplied sports drink gives me just what I need to stay well-fueled. 

In ultras, I find that I cannot always tolerate gels for the longer time on my feet.  Therefore, some other sources of fast sugar that I turn to during an ultra will include Coca Cola and Mountain Dew. If fruit is available, I always take it. As a rule, I never turn down the soda and I never turn down fruit, especially if it is any type of melon or orange slices. My best races have always been fueled on a combination of fruit (fructose) + sugar (glucose). 

When running a very very long time, highly sweet fuel sources eventually become intolerable. When this happens, I will turn to more complex carb sources that fall on the salty side of the palate. When racing for more than 10 hours, my body also needs some of the other macronutrients (fat and protein) it would normally receive during daily life. Solids foods will take longer to digest, but when races last a very long time and the pace is slower, small amounts of solid food will help settle my stomach and will ultimately become useful energy sources as well.  

To learn more about the role of simple carbohydrates as a source of fuel, here is an article about sugar for endurance athletes.

The take away:  
(1) A mixture of Fructose and Glucose is ideal for many runners.  
  1. Do not overload yourself with sugar in large doses. Spread out your fuel consumption out along the way.
  2. Aim to consume up to 60-90g of carbohydrate/hour. Start with an amount you can tolerate and work on consuming more per hour during your training cycle.

It is my opinion that fueling does not need to be very complicated. I try to fuel in a way that does not force my body to work any harder than it has to. Simple sugars are fast and easy to break down. If taken in small amounts along the way, with an effort to meet the recommended 60-90 grams per hour, I find that I am using what I consume and this makes simple sugar my ideal source of fuel. 
Shannon McGinn is an RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and the owner of Creating Momentum, LLC.  She is a life-long runner, becoming more involved in racing after surviving cancer.  She considers herself a marathon and ultramarathon specialist, earning several USATF National Championship top 10 or better placements in the 50k and 50M distances. She has not missed a day of running since December 2011.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

USATF-NJ Open and Master 8K XC Team Championship, Natirar Park, Peapack NJ 10/26

Thank you Mark Nyhan for sharing your Race Photos :)
I was not planning to run this race, but Anthony let me know that the more teams we enter the more points our team scores. I am still not sure I fully understand this, but if just showing up and getting through the course would help the team then I wanted to do it.  The race was only $15, so that made it an easy decision to give it shot.

Ben also went out of his way to make sure I had a team singlet.  This is quite the joke since I don't actually wear singlet often in races.  But I wanted to have one for team photos.
Thank you Ben!

I ran a 50 miler last weekend. I needed to make sure I could actually run the race injury free.  If anything was hurting me, I would not run.  I would not even walk.  It makes no sense to not heal if I am hurting.  But I was lucky, nothing hurt so I decided to run.

I wanted also wanted Anthony know that I didn't anticipate running my best time.  Not that I thought he thought I would. I just felt better knowing that he knew I was going to be sluggish.  I told him he could expect me to come in somewhere between 35-40 minutes. I am so glad I was able to do that.

This was a new XC course for the Championship 8k. I really like this course.  Natirar park is very pretty and the course is very challenging.  The course is, for the most part, a two loops course with two major hills per loop.

My legs were exhausted from the gun and running through the grass felt like quick sand.  As we reached the hills, I could immediately feel how tired my climbing muscle still are even though it has been 7 days of recovery.  It didn't help that it was also incredibly windy.

I think the entire race was a slow fade in pace that I simply could not control.  I tried to dig on the uphills to not lose too much ground, but I just felt like my body could not move any faster. I hoped to be able to open up my stride in the downhills but I just didn't have much speed there when I needed it.

I simply relaxed, recognized I was not fully recovered and had as much fun as I could running along side some very nice people.

At the end of the second loop, I was so very happy to learn we did not have to complete the entire loop, but were directed through the field to the finish.  I was ready to be done.  Once I looked at my Garmin, I was surprise to see it measured almost a tenth short.  Now this could be due to the rolling terrain, the Garmin losing signals in the woodsy parts, or the course was measure short.  

Overall, I don't think I did too bad of job. The course was slower than road. The hills were tough on my body and the wind made it more challenging than it needed to be.  Many runners who I usually can run alongside beat me, but it wasn't too bad.  But I was glad to be a part of a team race and hoped my presence helped.

M1 7:10,
M2 7:28,
M3 7:34,
M4 7:40,
Last .87  6:03

Time: 35:58
Place:  130
Gender place: 20

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile, State College, PA. 10/19/14

It was 6:30 am.  It was in the mid-30.  And it was raining. I refused to accept this. As I sat there watching the light rain collect on my windshield, I pulled out my iPad to re-check the weather. According to, I was assured it was absolutely NOT raining outside my car.  I contemplated how to best handle starting a 50 mile race in the rain when not using a drop bag, (so I had no chance of changing into dry clothes). Then Mother Nature decided to stop playing around.  At 6:45 am, the rain stopped. It was damp and chilly, but it was dry and ultimately a perfect day!

Too Close to Steamtown. Tussey Mountainback was a last minute decision for me. Steamtown Marathon, last weekend was my goal race for the Fall. When I run a fast marathon, I can feel it in my legs the following weekend. I wasn’t sure it was a smart decision to go out to State College, PA knowing I would not be 100%.  However about a month ago, I finally decided to commit to Tussey and just planned to run my best.  

Why this race should be on everyone’s To Do list:  If you can’t run 50 miles on your own in 12 hours, then get a relay team together and experience this course.  It is the friendliest 50 miler I have ever done.  

First, it is really a great beginner 50, because the footing is primarily dirt or gravel roads eliminating the concern about twisting ankles or falling down in the middle of the woods.  Yet the course is almost entirely inside the shaded wood.  It is really the best of road and trail racing combined. 

Second, the Aid is plentiful. Because the Relay is divided into 12 legs, each leg is book-ended with fully stocked Aid Stations.  It is absolutely possible to run this race without carrying anything, except a small bottle.  I carried a 10 oz bottle and 4 gels and used the available aid so that all my needs were met. If you are concerned about racing one full 50 mile loop, you can use drop bags on the course.

Third, the course is well marked with Mile Markers the entire way and signs telling you when you are 1/2 mile from the aid station.  There are Blue Arrows on the course and flour on the ground to keep runners on track.  This was clearly not enough to keep me on track but it was largely bad timing and distracted attention that caused me to miss a turn. 

Photo that truly depicts the beauty of this course, but I did not take it. I found this photo here:

Fourth, the course is not easy, but it is not truly hard either. We journey up and down very hilly wooded terrain in the beautiful autumn. At times I caught myself exclaiming out loud, “Oh Wow, This is so beautiful!”  When faced with a very difficult uphill leg, there is always consolation in knowing that a long invigorating downhill leg will follow.  The last leg returns to pavement and can be quite fast. You will likely not run as fast in the last 4 miles of a 50 miler anywhere else.    

Finally, because the relay starts after the ultrarunners, the spectator support ultra runners get is more than I have experienced at any other 50 miler.  As the relayers and their car support crews catch up and pass the ultrarunners, almost every team calls out “Go Ultra!” to all of us wearing Orange Bibs.  One con is that it can be a bit unnerving at times when the drivers of those cars try to pass runners too quickly as sometimes gravel does shoot up from the tires.  I not never hit by any, but I was often worried I could be.  So if you find yourself driving this course, please make an effort to pass runners as slowly as possible. 

This elevation chart is awesome. Do not let it intimidate you. It is not as bad as it looks when all squished together like this.  As long as you understand you will be running a hilly course, you will be just fine. 

Important Tip: Memorize The Uphill Legs. I committed the uphill leg numbers to memory (1,4,6,9,11) so I would know when the suffering would end. I knew 6 and 11 would be the worst. Because this course is either Up or Down, the remainder of the course is downhill. If you pay close attention, those number tell a great story about why this course is so much fun.  Out of 12 legs, 5 are uphill, and 7 are down. In addition, 3 of the uphill legs are completed by the half way point, meaning the second half has more descent that the first half.  This is really great for morale!

Start: 7:00am.

Leg #1 - 3.2 Miles, Uphill. 

The race starts in the dark. I was able to meet Anne and Bob just after the rain stopped and right before the start.  Anne and I ran a few minutes side-by-side.  I must have bumped into her 3 times. A few people had flashlights or headlamps, but it really isn’t needed. There was a little uneven pavement at the start and care should be taken in the dark. But, if I had no trouble remaining upright, most people will be good.  By 7:15 am the sun was rising and no lamps were needed.  Just before we reach M1, the climbing has already begun. I didn’t feel compelled to walk, but I am sure some others may have decided to as we all made our way to the first transition point/aid station

Leg#2 - 4.0 Miles - Easy, Downhill 
The support at the Aid Station is so positive and welcomed. It helps to pull you up the hill when people at the top are already asking you what you need.  I never linger too long at Aid. In fact, I try to rarely stop moving for more than a few seconds whenever possible.  I grab nothing at this stop because it was early.  Just when starting to worry that my legs are too tired for this, we start the 4 miles of descent. It is such a blessing to run effortlessly for over 30 minutes.  
M4 - 8:49
M5 - 8:28
M6 - 8:20
M7 - 8:06

Leg #3 - 3.8 Miles - Mostly Flat or Declining
This leg would be the flattest of the race and still contained a little downhill. Once into Whipple Park we would start the uphill.  My biggest concern was that my fingers were still very very cold.  I felt like the air was getting colder.  I needed to blow into my hands, that were wrapped in my long sleeve tech shirt to try to warm up my fingers.   It was also at this point that I realized that I had either leaned up a little since last fall (when I last raced in capri pants) or the lyrca had simply given up on me.  I spent the rest of the race constantly pulling up my pants!  LOL  It would probably help for me to remember to wear pant with the drawstring still in place next time! 
M8 - 8:47
M9 - 8:43
M10 - 8:47
M11 - 8:55

Let #4 - 5.6 Miles - Long Uphills Start during this leg.
In addition to taking a small cup of Coke which I try to do whenever offered, I grabbed a chunk of banana from the Aid Station. I took a Gel and a little packet of iodized salt to help me prepare.  I met Casey on this leg and asked him to join me.  I could see he was settling down in his pace.  I asked him if he knew the course, because I felt it was too soon to slow down unless you needed to, especially if you knew leg 4 had a more significant incline to come where walk breaks were likely best utilized.  We joined forces and traveled almost two legs together. 
M12 - 8:13
M13 - 8:27
M14 - 9:07
M15 -11:51 The Steepest Part of this leg.
M16 - 9:02

Leg #5 -3.4 Miles- Refreshing Descent 

I really felt that Leg 4's climbing was significant. I started to wonder if the course was different and somehow the longest steepest leg had come early. I questioned my course knowledge only because I had heard from Anne that the RD mentioned rerouting part of the course due to two bridges being out.  I asked a woman at the Aid Station if this leg had the worst of the climbing or was leg 6 the leg with the very long uphill?  She confirmed that leg 6 was worse than 4.  I grabbed some Coke, a few potato chips, filled my bottle with water and was on my way.  The descent of this leg was again refreshing and helping me to mentally prepare for what would be a tough section.
M17 - 9:57
M18 - 8:06
M19 - 8:42 (I took another Gel and some more iodized salt here)
M20 - 8:23
Leg #6 - 4.1 Miles of The LONGEST INCLINE (About 8% incline for almost the entire way) 
I knew this section would be slow.  It was all uphill for miles.  There is real no breaks. Just uphill.  I could feel my hip flexor getting very irritated whenever I attempted to run uphill.  The tightness was moving into my groin. I was still tired from Steamtown and not 100% ready to run hard.  I made a decision to hike this leg as fast as I could and anywhere I could run without feeling like I was doing damage  I ran.  I had 0% pain when hiking so I felt confident that if I took care of my body I could have a great run, despite planning to walk any hills that were so steep they caused irritation.
M21 - 12:32
M22 - 13:42
M23 - 16:16
M24 - 9:44 Flurries at highest point in the race!

Leg #7 - 3.7 Miles Downhill
I was thrilled to see the faintest evidence of snow flurries at the top of the course. I am not a fan of snow, but it is hard to not feel uplifted when flurries start! Mile 24 is the high point of the race so it makes sense to see the flurries here.  I asked a few others around me if they noticed them too. A few were paying close enough attention and as thrilled as me.  One man said, "I see them too. You are not Hallucinating" which made me laugh since this can be a real problem for ultra runners in longer ultras.  I was so very happy to reach the halfway point, feeling amazing considering I had been running 4 hours.  I felt that I could actually have a shot at negative splitting this race if I could get through the last two hilly legs well.  But I also knew that leg 11 has the steepest climb, but it is short. 
M25 - 8:26 (4:02 at half way)
M26 - 7:58 (4:12 Marathon Split)
M27 - 9:27
M28 - 8:48

Leg#8 - 4.3 Miles more of Descent!
The reward for climbing leg 6 is two full descending legs.  It is such a wonderful feeling to have gravity on your side so late in the race.  I was once again humming and whistling to myself.  I reminded myself to take my third gel at this point and to enjoy the fast pace. 
M29 - 8:41
M30 - 8:43
M31 - 8:39 (4:56 50k split)
M32 - 7:51
M33 - 9:52

Leg#9 - 2.9 Miles  Short Ascent
At this point I was resigned to walking anything up. I did so guilt free and knowing that it was the best decision I could make.  Each time I walked, runners would pull ahead.  But I was so fresh by the top of each ascent that I made up ground on the downhill, often passing and not seeing those runners again, until I messed up.  
M34 - 13:36
M35 - 11:41
M36 - 12:14 

Leg#10 -5.5 Miles Downhill, but first a detour.

Leg 10 was supposed to a downhill leg.  I grabbed a cup of small diced potatoes from the aid station and tried to reorganized myself. I noticed a blue arrow and I was moving in that direction so I focused my attention on my race vest.  I wanted to eat, drink, and take some more salt before I started running hard again.  As I moved along, I reached  an intersection, that was not marked.  This was odd. To have several options and no markings is a bad sign. I looked back for markers and did not see any.  There was a road going uphill that I passed. I could have taken it uphill, but I knew this leg was downhill and I did not notice a marker when I looked that way.  And to be honest, I really did not want to have to go up again.  I recalled the last marker I saw pointing straight ahead.  I convinced myself that if I was suppose to turn there would be an arrow telling me to turn.  It was downhill.  It also passed a campground which I distinctly remembered from last year.  Yet, I still did not feel confident that I was going the right way.  I saw no one ahead of me but we were spaced out far at that point.  I looked back and saw someone behind me.  He was not frantically yelling for me to come back, so that was a good sign.  I was only off course for a few minutes when I finally saw the Bridge Out sign.  Oh No!

I turned back and met the guy, Brendan, behind me.  I told him we had gone the wrong way.  Then I spewed out a string of profanities. I asked if he saw any markers.  He reported that he had not noticed any that said he should have turned or he would have, but he also said he was simply following me.  Ugh.  So we hiked back up the hill back towards the last aid station, which was only .5 miles away.  This was not a devastating mis-step, but it took the wind out of my sails.  

I noticed some flour in the road that the cars had driven over and dispersed. I am certain that was once an arrow demarcating the almost 180 degree turn we needed to take in order to head UP the hill that I did not want to run when I had looked back minutes before.  As I got closer, there was, in fact, an arrow on a tree.  However from my angle earlier when I looked back, it was blocked by branches.   

Had I just kept my head up when dealing with my vest and my potatoes, and my drink, and my gel, and my salt after that aid station, I would have likely seen the blue arrow… but I missed it and added a mile to my journey, as well as Brendan's. 

Once back on track, I notice a woman close behind. Come On! I did not want to lose a position because I was not paying attention. I asked Brendan to hurry up with me.  We cruised the descent together at a strong pace while I cursed myself and apologized to him simultaneously.  He was nice and really managed to get me to refocus.  He shared that this was his first 50 miler.  I was really impressed with him.  I focused my energy on trying to help him stay positive rather than have him listen to me rant.  I could see that he was struggling a little more than he wanted to let on, as I caught him wince a little or ask me when the next uphill section would be, since I promised him we could walk there. He stayed with me to the next Aid Station and decided to let me go on while he slowed just a bit.  It was not much as he finished only few minutes behind me.

M37 - 14:16 * bonus mile
M38 - 8:02 (noticing woman behind me)
M39 - 8:10 
M40 - 8:27
M41 - 8:51
M42 - 9:22

Leg#11- 5.3 Miles Uphill with the Steepest climb of the race.
Even after an entire downhill leg which I thought I ran quite well, this woman was still behind me. She was very strong!  At the same time I felt both (1) that we were almost done and I could hold her off as well as (2) that we had along way to go and I might get caught.  I knew I could not let up on the inclines now if I wanted to hold my position.  Even with hip irritation, I worked the uphills to the best of my ability.  I tried to make sure that whenever I was in her line of sight I was running even if the course was uphill. I admit I must have looked back a million times, to try to gauge what was happening.  I could see that I was putting distance on her on the climb and that helped me feel more confident.  I needed to get to the Steepest point of the course out of her range since I knew I wold need to walk that very steep ascent.  If I could finish this leg ahead of her, I was sure I could run a fast enough pace in the last 4 miles to hold whatever position I was in.   
M43 - 10:00
M44 - 10:49
M45 - 10:29
M46 - 13:46 Steepest point (About an 11% grade for .5 miles)

Leg#12- 4.2 Miles Downhill to the Finish
This entire race I was focused on just getting to this aid station. I convinced myself that since the last 4.2 miles were downhill, those last 4 would feel great.  Well, even downhill miles can be exhausting on tired legs. I saw Bob at the Aid Station and blabbered something at him about how I made a wrong turn, as it was still bothering me.  One extra mile felt so long at this point.  I grabbed more Coke and took off.  The last 2 miles are truly the fastest part of this leg, but first we need to go back uphill a bit to crest the last little peak before starting to wind our way down.  I was so glad to be finishing this race.  I knew I was going to run a faster time than last year, too, despite the Bonus mile.  
M47 - 10:02
M48 - 9:27
M49 - 8:49
M50 - 9:04
M51 - 8:03 (kicking it in to the finish!) 

Unofficial Distance: 51.98
Time: 8:18:50
OA Place 13th
Gender 5th

Final Thoughts - Shoes:  I opted to wear the Brook ST5 Racers and I am 100% satisfied that I made a great choice.  My feet did not hurt at all by the end of the race.  I had no blisters. I had no hot spots.  I am convinced that the stability posting and the 12mm drop in these shoes are just what I need to keep my recurring Plantar Fascitis in check.  I believe I supinate when I run, but I have a feeling that over the long haul all bets are off.  In the past I had always felt it made little sense for me to use a stability shoe when I am not an overpronator.  Yet,  so far the ST5's have proven me wrong.  Just a note about sponsorship - I am no longer accepting the Brooks ID Sponsorship and no longer contractually obligated to wear only Brooks. I turned down the Coach's Sponsorship offer so that Brooks could offer it to the Track and Field ad XC Coaches they were targeting, and so I could have the freedom back in my life to try other products without violating a contract.  Therefore, I share this information about these shoes for no other reason than to share my pure joy at finding a shoe that feel fantastic from start to finish, even when the finish is over 8 hours later!