There is always a solution

I’m known for saying, “there is always a solution”. Because from my own personal experience as well as coaching hundreds of athletes, no matter the issue there is always a solution. The trick is finding the right solution for each individual and my job as a running coach is exactly that. Sometimes I have to find the solution to a chronic injury or figure out how an athlete can perform their best and reach their full potential. Sure it’s my job but more accurately it’s my passion… with a fair amount of obsession.

A tool that can help many runners is Correct Toes. They are incredibly effective and easy to use. I am very skeptical of most products and hesitant to recommend any. In fact, I rarely if ever recommend a specific product. But seeing what Correct Toes have done for some of my athletes, it’s hard not to recommend them. Check out the video below to learn more about Correct Toes and get free shipping when you use the code: WR2014 on their website.

I currently have only 2 online coaching openings. I’m giving away a free pair of Correct Toes ($65 value) to two runners who sign up for either 3 or 6 months of coaching. Sign up HERE

Think running is bad for your knees? You are correct!

That’s right. I said it, running IS bad for your knees. Well…if you’re doing it the way many runners are doing it.

I use to suffer from chronic running injuries. In fact, my knees were so ‘messed’ up that several doctors told me I had to give up running. I tried everything out there to overcome my injuries and nothing helped. I didn’t run for over two years because I was in so much pain everyday. Finally, I was so frustrated and depressed that I wondered if there was a real solution out there. I did extensive research, had a lot of my own trial and error… and finally found the solution.Damian in Tetons

Since those painful days, I have now been injury-free for over 10 years. I’m also a successful ultra runner who has run over 35 ultra marathons including six 100 mile races. That’s right, injury-free!

“But Damian, you said running is bad for your knees?” 

It is for a lot of runners because of the way they are running. Most runners I see (probably you too) run with a high impact running technique and poor biomechanics. Combine that with improper training and inadequate nutrition and it’s no surprise that over 50% of runners get injured every year.

So what did I do to become ‘injury proof’ as a runner? I worked really hard on my running technique, I eat a whole foods diet and I train ‘smarter not harder’. I’m very passionate about injury-free running and sharing it with others. This is why I am now a biomechanics specialist and I coach runners from all around the world teaching them injury-free running technique and how to train smarter.

Please share and pass this blog along to friends and family. My passion is sharing injury-free running with runners of all levels.

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How to Run Injury-Free

I use to suffer from many chronic running injuries and had several doctors and physical therapists tell me:

“Give up running.”       “Running is bad for you.”      “You aren’t designed to run.”

I sure am glad I didn’t listen to them. Since then, I have run over 30 ultra marathons and even won 8 of them.

But a much greater accomplishment is the fact that I have been injury-free for the past 10 years. Yep, not a single major running injury in over 10 years even as a competitive ultra runner. Sure, I have minor tweaks and pain after running 100 miles in the mountains. But I do specific things that prevent serious injury which would cause me to go back to the days when I was injured and couldn’t run. I never want to go back to those dark days.10500512_10154308742355584_8044031842047266675_n

Shin splints, runner’s knee, IT band pain, muscle strains and foot pain were just some of the injuries I use to suffer from. Worst of all, I had patellar tendonitis in both knees for two years when I was in college. I was in pain all the time and some days I could barely walk. I went to some of the best doctors and physical therapists in New England and nothing seemed to help so I gave up running completely.

Two years of not running led to depression and a decline in health. I decided there had to be a solution, a better way. I did some research, read lots of books and found out that if I modified and practiced my running technique, I could maybe run again. It sounded unbelievable and I was very skeptical. But I went out and modified my running technique, running for the first time in over 2 years. To my surprise I was able to run with minimal pain. As the days went past, I was able to run more and more with less and less pain. I was hooked.

That was over 10 years ago and since then I have learned extensively about how to run injury-free as well as increase performance. I have experimented with many concepts and lots of trial and error. Now being a competitive ultra runner and injury-free for over 10 years, I have found what works really well for me and my passion is sharing it with others.

My top tips for injury-free running and greater performance:

1. Listen to your body

Yes, I have minor tweaks and pains when I train and after 50 or 100 mile races. The important thing is to not let these become injuries that stop you from running. The key is listening to your body. Do NOT ignore these pains. They are a signal from your body that you need to back off, rest or correct something such as your running technique. Do not be afraid to take a couple days or more completely off.

2. Improve your running technique

The major factor that allowed me to overcome chronic injuries was modifying my running technique. In the past I was inefficient and ran with a high impact technique that beat up my body, though at the time I did not know. For you to correctly modify your technique, do lots of your own research and try different concepts. I highly recommend seeking out a technique specialist to help you with your technique. At a minimum, video yourself running so you can see exactly how you run. Too many runners tell me they don’t heel strike, don’t have imbalances or misalignment issues but most often they do.DSC_0630

3. Improve your nutrition

What I eat greatly enhances my overall health, keeps my energy levels very high and helps me to recover incredibly fast. Again, the key is listening to your body and finding out what works best for you. I have tried just about everything out there and the ‘diet’ that works best for ME for performance, recovery and increased energy is a whole foods, plant-based diet (WFPB).

I highly recommend a nutritional coach like Lindsey at Wholicious Living who can get you great results (she’s also my girlfriend and elite runner, in the picture above).

4. Train smarter, not harder

I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. Training with this philosophy can prevent burn out, decrease injuries and running will be more enjoyable. You will also be more likely to reach your long term goals. Every run you do should have a purpose. Get rid of the junk miles that do not serve a purpose. Cyclic and periodization training are very valuable for reaching long term goals.

There are many good training programs out there. However, most do not focus on injury prevention. I highly recommend looking for a running coach that specifically focuses on injury prevention as well as performance.

5. Other important factors

Cross training and runner specific strength training are beneficial but in my opinion NOT as important as the factors I discuss above. Your foundation should be overall health, an efficient technique and proper training. Strength and cross training will build upon your foundation but too many runners rely on them exclusively for injury prevention.

I am also an advocate of sports massage, yoga, physical therapy and other techniques to help enhance recovery and overall health. But again, do NOT rely exclusively on these for injury-prevention.

Damian Stoy is a running coach, biomechanics specialist, nutritional consultant and founder of Wholistic Running. He offers online coaching and nutritional consultations for runners all around the world.

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Fixing foot injuries and issues

Foot pain can often linger and become a chronic injury. Prevention is a must for all runners before you get injured. These tips will help you prevent AND fix foot injuries.

4 effective and natural steps to fixing your feet and keeping them healthy:

  1. Wear Correct Toes to renew, align and strengthen your feet.
  2. Wear Altra shoes which allow your feet to spread and move naturally.
  3. Follow a Wholicious Living nutritional lifestyle to reduce inflammation and pain and speed up the healing process.
  4. Learn low impact, efficient and pain-free running and walking technique. It’s amazing how many people I’ve helped with a couple simple exercises.

feet

-Damian Stoy is a professional ultra marathon runner, founder of Wholistic Running, biomechanics specialist, running coach and has been injury-free for over 10 years.

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Foods for Increased Health, Healing, Energy and Performance

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Damian Stoy is the founder of Wholistic Running, elite ultra marathon runner and coach

I am often asked what are the best foods to eat for health, increased energy, recovery, healing injuries and performance.  I believe certain foods are beneficial for everyone and I will share my thoughts including what has worked for me.

Eating for Overall Heath and Well Being

I suggest eating a variety of food that is whole, unrefined, local, and organic.  Eat real food!  Keep it creative and fun and try not to be too restrictive.  Include lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and nuts.  What you eat everyday is the foundation of health.  Do not rely on supplements, pills and miracle foods for health.

I highly suggest getting rid of dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt) as well as other highly inflammatory and mucus forming foods such as refined flours, sugar, wheat, eggs, alcohol and fried foods.  Excessive mucus lines the GI tract and severely hampers your body’s ability to assimilate nutrients and digest food.  Also, these foods are common allergens and produce symptoms such as runny noses and phlegm in the throat or lungs.  This is not normal!  If you have these symptoms, play around with eliminating certain foods for a week or two and see if you notice any improvements.  Foods that help rid the body of excess mucus includes lemons, apple cider vinegar, ginger and cayenne.

For runners specifically, I suggest nutrient dense foods such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and brown rice.  Try to limit pasta, non-whole grain and wheat products.  Enzyme rich foods provide energy and include sprouts, raw foods, fresh juices, miso and wheatgrass.  Include foods rich in healthy fats including flax seeds, avocados, olive oil and coconut oil.

Foods for Performance

Incorporating specific performance enhancing foods is something you may want to try.  Foods known as adaptogens are beneficial for many reasons including increased endurance, stamina, energy and a healthy immune system.  Adaptogens include ginseng, maca, astragalus, chia seeds and goji berries.  I also recommend flax oil, turmeric, ginger and wheatgrass for their anti-inflammatory properties and greatly reducing recovery time.  For runners, I recommend foods high in iron and those which build the blood.  Those include dark greens, spirulina, cherries, seaweeds, beets, parsley and molasses.  Incorporating these foods will allow you to assimilate oxygen more efficiently and result in greater performance.  Ample fresh herbs and spices are recommended for anti-oxidants and to benefit digestion.  Examples include ginger, cayenne, garlic, cinnamon and oregano.

Supplements

I don’t use supplements most of the year but during the race season I incorporate a few to recover faster and improve performance.  I highly recommend Tissue Rejuvenator from Hammer Nutrition for healing, reducing inflammation and speeding up recovery.  Zyflamend is another great product with similar benefits.  Hammer Nutrition provides a variety of super high quality supplements that increase performance and overall health.  Click on this to get 15% off your first order!

Choosing healthy substitutions can make an immense difference in overall health.  Don’t just get rid of the bad, enjoy the good!  Since we all have cravings, here are some recommendations for alternative foods that satisfy and actually provide healthful benefits instead of dis-ease.

  • Replace ‘bad’ fats with coconut oil, olive oil, avocados and flax oil.
  • Replace table salt with Celtic and Real Salt.  Seaweeds, herbs and spices provide the real flavor and nutrients we crave.
  • Replace white sugar with maple syrup, honey, molasses, dates and agave.
  • Snacks:  seaweed or kale chips (salty), apple with almond butter.
  • Hydrate with herbal teas and fresh juices not soda or coffee.

To find out specifically which foods benefit you, I suggest listening to your body.  Remember, eat real food and play with what works for you.  You’ll have more energy, greater health and will be able to do more of what you love to do in life.

Yoga and Running

What can yoga do for you?  Give you more energy.  Reduce injuries and recovery time.  Increase patience, courage, and clarity.  Increase endurance, lung capacity, performance, speed and mental determination.  Reduce dis-ease including aches and pains, digestive issues, arthritis, tendonitis, sleep issues, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, skin issues and more.  Yoga will help bring you more into the present moment and give you abundant peace of mind bringing more happiness and joy.  Now who doesn’t want that?

For runners, yoga can be an incredible asset and complement to your training.  I have experienced many benefits in my running because of yoga.  I often say,

“yoga keeps me in better running shape than running does.” 

And it isn’t a joke.  As an elite ultramarathon runner, I don’t run as much as you may think.  Yoga and Wholistic Running allow me to run far and fast.  Some benefits I have experienced from yoga include reduced injuries, faster recovery time, increased performance, more speed and endurance, and less effort and more joy while running.  This all sounds too good to be true?  Let me share how yoga may benefit you.

How does yoga reduce injuries?  Yoga is all about balance.  Contrary to what many people may believe, yoga isn’t just about stretching.  Yoga brings the body, mind and spirit into balance bringing overall health and well being.  Hatha yoga (physical yoga) increases flexibility and range of motion, strength, and balance.  In order to prevent injuries, the body must have a balance of flexibility and strength.  Too much or little of one and you are more susceptible to injury.  Yoga challenges the entire body bringing strength to every muscle and encourages your body to move correctly and efficiently.  By practicing balancing postures, we teach the body to move with strength and fluidity.  Increasing flexibility promotes a more graceful and light running pattern which reduces impact and effort.

How does yoga increase performance?  Yoga increases lung capacity, efficiency, mental strength and reduces recovery time allowing you to train harder and more often.  Breathing exercises in yoga expand your lungs allowing you to run faster and harder while more efficiently bringing oxygen to your muscles.  Breathing with your entire lungs, especially the lower lungs where more oxygen exchange occurs, is a more efficient way to breathe requiring less effort and producing more energy.  You will run more efficiently because of increased range of motion and flexibility.

By ‘opening’ up the body, you will run more like when you did as a kid.

With ‘open’ hips, your stride will be more graceful and fluid.  Yoga promotes spinal twisting which will allow your body to move effortlessly and efficiently.  Yoga reduces recovery time by detoxifying metabolic wastes produced by the body when running and increasing the healing potential of your body.  This is done by ‘squeezing’ and releasing body parts which flushes the body of wastes and opens the body bringing healthy, healing oxygenated blood to your whole body.  Yoga greatly increases mental strength and determination allowing you to train and race harder and faster.  You will develop patience and acceptance while practicing yoga which will help you accept the increased effort and sensations of running harder.

Yoga helps reduce dis-ease.  Everyone experiences dis-ease of some sort whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Yoga benefits your entire physical body including your organs promoting overall health and well being.  Yoga treats your entire body, it is a wholistic practice.  Many times, we suffer physically and the cause is mental or emotional.  Yoga brings your whole life into balance encouraging health on all levels.  With yoga, you learn and experience Self awareness and therefore you can treat the real cause of your symptoms whatever they may be.

Experience an increase of joy and happiness by practicing yoga.

This will help you be a happier, healthier runner as well.  Yoga teaches you to be in the present moment. By being in the present moment, you will be released of unnecessary suffering and on your path to happiness and health.  Acceptance, love, gratitude and patience are experienced while practicing yoga.  How does yoga do this?  I’m not exactly sure to be honest.  But from my experience as well as many other practitioners, it just ‘happens’.

Wholistic Running has many similar benefits to yoga.  They are both a great complement to each other and will enhance your running as well as your entire life.  Just like yoga, Wholistic Running is a practice.  I highly recommend finding a yoga practice that best suits you.  In my opinion, it usually isn’t the easiest practice.  Find a studio, teachers, and community you connect with.  I personally connect most with Bikram Yoga and it is the most physically healing practice I have tried.

Most importantly, practice.  Reading about it and wondering if it may help won’t get you anywhere.  Experience the benefits of yoga for your Self by practicing.