iRun because I cannot say no to a second slice of chocolate cakeEmily Shandruk , Vancouver, BC

iRun to stay fit and release those running endorphinsLiliana Plava , Calgary, AB

iRun because I want to qualify for Boston and raise money for charities near and dear to my heartChristine Gracel , Calgary, AB

iRun because it makes me feel good, allows me to spend time with my friends and gives me a feeling of accomplishmentHelen Kolodziejzyk , Calgary, AB

iRun but not enoughMichael Shaw , New Westminister, BC

iRun because I never thought I would be able toGary Morris , Winnipeg, MB

iRun to challenge myself, physically and mentallyKathleen Keenan , Brampton, ON

iRun because people around me inspire mePina Bevilacqua , Caledon, ON

iRun therefore I amDuncan Walsh , Nottingham, UK

iRun because I liveGeorges Schneller , Laval, QC

iRun to be free and enjoy our beautiful countryCheryl Carter , Clearwater , BC

iRun for overall wellbeingTrish McCourt , Halifax, NS

iRun because it makes me a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friendNathalie Joncas-Caissie , St-Antoine, NB

iRun because it makes me feel powerfulCarlene Paquette , Carp, ON

iRun because pecan pie, french fries and beer are chasing meTeresa Sterling , Ottawa , ON

iRun because it’s in meMichael Foley , Stittsville, ON

iRun because it reminds me that I am capable of so much more than I have doneJames Sauve , Ottawa, ON

iRun for meKiza Francis , Ottawa,ON

iRun to prove to myself I canLesley McGougan , Brampton, ON

iRun because all the ladies are chasing my sexy runner’s bodyChris Baker , Etobicoke, ON

iRun because I can and I’m gratefulTerry SanCartier , Gatineau, QC

iRun because when I run I feel most aliveMeghan Lynch , Ottawa, ON

iRun to unleash my inner athleteAdelle Densham , Avonmore, ON

iRun because it cleans up my life, because I drink more water, sleep better and eat healthier foodsRobin McIntyre , Ottawa, ON

iRun because of the peace and strength it brings meMichelle Jordan , Ottawa, ON

iRun because I need it to soothe the soul, keep me in shape and for overall wellbeingBeth Neil , Lombardy, ON

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sonsKeith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are freeCassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn’t Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it’s cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly!Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brainMarie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every kmSteph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun and run, and run, and run, and nobody can stop me Andrei Lucaciu , Ontario

iRun because the wall is meant to be broken Jonathan Bird , Ontario

iRun because it has saved my life John Marshall , Alberta

iRun for the challenge to go faster and farther Steven Matejka , Alberta

iRun to my happy place and some days it’s very Doreen May , Alberta

iRun because food tastes better afterwards Patrick Houston , Alberta

iRun because I can’t dance Mario Javier , Ontario

iRun so I don’t say never ever again Linda Klaric , Manitoba

iRun because it makes me whole Denis Ladouceur , Quebec

iRun because it gets my husband out there Tricia LaLonde , Alberta

iRun away from the negative and towards the positive Teri Lepard , Alberta

iRun because running is like breathing to Stephanie McEvoy , Ontario

iRun because I love the solitude Janene Tailleur , British Columbia

iRun for the moment when both feet are off the ground Catherine Anderson , British Columbia

iRun to someday win the race Lindy Dunlop , Yukon

iRun to stay ahead of the weight gainMyra Abstreiter , Alberta

iRun because otherwise I’m grumpy Alexandre Charest , Quebec

iRun because I get foot rubs afterward Kate Howerton , British Columbia

iRun because iLoves my man Beverly Huang , Alberta

iRun because not everyone can Olivia Harvey , New Brunswick

iRun to get to know myself, my strength and my spirit Lisa Groulx , Ontario

iRun whenever I feel the need to escape Iona Hillis , Ontario

iRun because it’s like flying, only lower Glenn Johnson , Ontario

iRun because it makes me feel powerful Sarah Kallaghan , Alberta

iRun because I’ve lost 80 lbs and running has become fun Cheryl Kelly , Ontario

iRun because there is no finish line Claire Kilgour , Ontario

iRun so my daughters know that they can, too Shelley Kirkpatrick , New Brunswick

iRun because it reminds me of how strong I can be Monique Lavoie , Ontario

iRun because it’s a great way to see the world Sherry Mahoney , British Columbia

iRun because my heart tells me to William Martin , Manitoba

iRun to prove to them that iCan Catherine Smith , Manitoba

iRun because it’s fun when it’s done Sue Matte , Ontario

iRun because I am not as clumsy I thought I was Hanna Baer , Quebec

iRun see where my feet will take me todayMegan Dolinskas , New York

iRun for the cool t-shirts! Pina Bevilacqua , Ontario

iRun because I want to be a role model for our six kids Catherine Empey , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my kids to tryGlen Johnston , Nunavut

iRun so I can eat ice cream Sandy Bolan , Ontario

iRun because I want to live to be 100! Colette DeJean , Ontario

iRun for health, i Run for life Pat Cheung , British Columbia

iRun because it gives my day a boost of energy Sara Campbell , Nova Scotia

iRun because it’s better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn’t Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it's better than almost everything else Nathan Carey , Ontario

iRun at 50 years old because at 43 I couldn't Peter Cicalo , Ontario

iRun because it is my tonic and my salvation Georgia Ioannou , British Columbia

iRun for relaxation and to motivate my two sons Keith Bradbury , Newfoundland

iRun because endorphins are free Cassandra Chouinard , Ontario

iRun because somebody once told me I couldn't Heidi Abbey-Der , Saskatchewan

iRun because couch potatoes die young Cathy Andrew , Ontario

iRun because it's cheaper than therapy Leah Boulter , Alberta

iRun because I like buying running clothes Pamela Blaikie , Ontario

iRun slowly! Jason Hoffman , Manitoba

iRun because it gives me freedom to relax my brain Marie-Claude Gregoire , Nova Scotia

iRun because I learn more about who I am with every km Steph Mansell , Quebec

iRun because iEat Sherry Maligaspe , British Columbia

iRun for my heart, so it runs for me! Cathy Brzoza , British Columbia

iRun to inspire my children! Wendy Bowen , Manitoba

iRun because it sure beats the bus Robin Robbins , Alberta

iRun for the challenge and to remember to fully live Pascale Synnott , Québec

iRun to kickstart my day Sharon Strueby , Saskatchewan

iRun for me! Judi Wearing , Saskatchewan

iRun because it's a great stress release Brooke McKenzie , Yukon

iRun because i love to Mirella Petriello , Ontario

iRun because it helps me see things more clearly Jennifer Pitts , Ontario

iRun to eat Maureen Tritscher , Alberta

iRun to correct years of sedentary living! Mike Scott , Ontario

iRun away from the abyss Charlene Thomas , Ontario

iRun all the livelong day Pierre Saint-Laurent , Québec

iRun to challenge my perceived limitations Cassandra Williams , Ontario

iRun to maintain a strong physical and mental state Tammy Rainville , Ontario

iRun so that I can live longer and stronger Derek MacPhail , Ontario

iRun to feel great Kathryn Rachar , Saskatchewan

iRun because I like to be healthy Melanie Oickle , New Brunswick

iRun to eat more, especially sweet potatoe fries Joanna Skomra , Ontario

iRun for the fresh air and adrenalin Charlyn McGregor , Saskatchewan

iRun for the individual pursuit Robert Pelletier , New Brunswick

iRun to satisfy the irresistible urge Tim Nixon , British Columbia

iRun because I love the sense of accomplishment Amber Moase , Nova Scotia

iRun to challenge my mind, body and soul Sonia Mendes , Ontario

iRun because walking is too slow Barry Knapp , Ontario

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Natural Running

natural_runningBy: Jon-Erik Kawamoto

The idea of barefoot running is not new – back in a Running Times magazine issue in July/August 2002, Pete Pfitzinger wrote “You can strengthen your feet and ankles by using them as they were designed to be used.  Take off your shoes and let your feet move on natural surfaces.  When you walk or run barefoot, you strengthen the little muscles in your feet, which, have been sleeping, peacefully in your shoes for years. You also stretch and strengthen your calf muscles and may improve your running form.  The protection provided by your shoes allows you to get away with sloppy running style.  It is very difficult, however, to run barefoot with bad technique and almost impossible to over stride.”

However, true barefoot running can be dangerous and injury causing, say if a runner suffers a large cut to the bottom of his/her feet or if the runner does too much barefoot running too soon and suffers a stress fracture to one of the small bones in the foot.  That’s why Vibram created the fivefinger “second skin” footwear – to protect the skin on the bottom of the foot but still allow the barefoot feel.  Their newest model is the fivefinger Bikila.  This model is named after Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia who won Olympic Gold in the marathon in Rome on September 10, 1960, running 2:15:16.  Did I mention he wasn’t wearing any shoes?

The fivefingers might protect the skin from getting cut up during a run, but it definitely will not prevent minimalist running related injuries associated with doing too much too soon.  Some runners even make the transition to minimal running by making the leap from running is a super running shoe such as the Asics Kayano or Nike Shox, missing the important adaptation phase in between.

Runners need to be smart about incorporating barefoot/minimalist running into their weekly running routine.  The idea behind minimalist footwear is to allow the body to utilize sensory feedback (afferent feedback) from the feet to help you balance, absorb force and move safely and efficiently forward while running.  If you compare running in shoes with a thick heel compared to running barefoot or in the Vibrams, you’ll notice the body self regulates the impact by landing lighter, landing with a different part of the foot (the mid foot) and landing in a different location on the ground, relative to the body’s center of mass (underneath the center as opposed to in front of it).

But what is the best running form?  Danny Abshire and Brian Metzler in their new book called Natural Running explain that natural running teaches runners to run better, more efficiently with fewer injuries.  “We have evolved as heavy heel strikers,” writes Abshire.  “…only because of modern footwear.”  Abshire describes natural running as running with an upright posture, compact arm swing, high cadence with a mid-foot strike under the center of mass.  Basically, runners should be able to run purely, efficiently and uninhibitedly.  Abshire wrote this book because since the 1970s, running shoes have evolved, but the injury rates among runners has been shown to be uninfluenced with the new technologies found in today’s runners.

“Virtually all of America’s top professional and collegiate distance-running coaches – Alberto Salazar, Terrence Mahon, Greg McMillan, Pete Rea, Greg Barker, Vin Lananna, Karen Harvey and Jay Johnson, to name a few – utilize some form of barefoot running or barefoot strength and proprioception drills as a means of improving and maintaining a runner’s form, preparing for the rigors of racing in lightweight racing flats and spikes and ultimately, improving individual running economy to maximize race performance” writes Abshire.  Even the elites do not perform all their runs bare feet.  They’ll wear lower profile shoes (racing flats and track or cross country spikes) more often compared to a recreational runner.  I would consider myself a recreation runner these days since I stopped competing in 2007 and I wear racing flats for most of my runs, but my body and feet are used to wearing low profile running shoes…that’s why I like wearing them!  Most of my runs are in the Mizuno Universe, the lightest racing flat on the market.

Jay Johnson is a coach in Boulder, Colorado of many elite track athletes.  He incorporates barefoot running at the end of track workouts around an artificial turf field.  The pace is super slow and this barefoot trot allows the athletes to cool down and stretch out their feet after a tough practice, but Johnson avoids these trots when it’s too cold, too hot or too wet out.  “We only run barefoot on limited occasions under limited circumstances and, keep in mind, these runners are very fit and very strong,” says Johnson.  Johnson also incorporates stationary barefoot drills such as a single leg squat with the eyes closed to develop strong and nimble feet.  He is also a fan of minimalist footwear (minimal ramp angle from heel to toe with a very low profile) as a method of improving running economy and developing foot intrinsics.  “It’s the intrinsic ability of the foot to do what it is designed to do, which is absorb shock and move over the ground effectively,” Johnson says.

Does this mean you should make the transition to running in minimalist footwear?

Not really…

Miranda Barrett wrote in “If the shoe fits, run with it” (IMPACT Magazine March/April 2011) that comfort is of utmost importance when choosing a running shoe, no matter if you’re looking for a regular trainer or minimalist shoe.  She quotes Dr. Benno Nigg, a researcher at the University of Calgary’s Human Performance Lab (who I actually saw present at the BC Strength and Conditioning Conference held at Simon Fraser University in the middle of last year) says “the major factors determining injury and injury rate are distance, the intensity and the time in between runs.”  Basically a runner should chose a running shoe that is comfortable – not ground breaking news, just common sense.  Barrett also reports that Nigg doesn’t think there is any advantage to barefoot running; however, Nigg agrees that strengthening the foot’s intrinsic muscles is a priority because they aren’t normally trained when you run in a shoe.

Bottom line:  choose a running shoe that is most comfortable and don’t fall for the barefoot running hype.  To me, running in a low profile shoe, racing flat or minimalist shoe is most comfortable. If you are going to make the transition, make it slow so you don’t aggravate any of your muscles, tendons or ligaments in your lower leg.

Happy running.

Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP is a Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Definitions Fitness Company in St. John’s, NL. He is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at Memorial University and specializes in strength training middle-to-long distance runners. Check out and for more information.


January 17th, 2012

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