Monthly Archives: March 2014

Understanding Running Shoes

Let an expert help you find the right shoes to support your walking and running.  You will put hours and miles into your training, so be sure to respect the most important tools you require – your walking/running-specific footwear.

The following appeared in the Rutland Herald/Times Argus Outdoors Section on Sunday, March 30, 2014.  To read the full story, visit and look for “getting down to the sole of the matter.”

“If the shoe fits wear it?” Wrong. According to Tim Carter, owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Essex (, to select running shoes means to consider the 3Fs: Function, Fit, and Feel. “Price,” Carter said “is irrelevant. The shoes have to fit. That’s relatively easy. But, they must work. That’s the key.”

Just because a shoe fits, it doesn’t mean it’s the right shoe for you. The fact that they are comfortable is initially even less important. It is function that takes precedence and “if you don’t get that one right, the others don’t matter,” Carter said.

Before selecting a pair of running shoes, your training partners for about 500 miles, it is imperative to have your feet assessed. Pronation is not a bad thing; over pronation is. The normal footstrike lands on the outside corner of the heel and rolls through the foot to push off the big toe as a lever. “Normal, neutral pronation is just the flexing of the foot when you strike,” Carter said. It is the body’s shock absorber.” It is pronating too quickly or going beyond the normal range that is disadvantageous and can cause trouble. Considering the repetitive motion of step after step, it is easy to see that even a slight problem can crescendo into big trouble.

“About 2% of people supinate,” Carter said. “They pronate too slowly and remain on the outside of the foot rolling off the pinkie.” Size and shape must be measured, but they must be measured to reflect the movement patterns of the foot.

Shoes are categorized as minimal, stability, motion controlled and trail runners. About 20% of the population can safely wear a traditional neutral shoe with no correction to the foot, a shoe that lets the foot work naturally. Minimalist shoes are basically a foot covering and might do for some. If a runner has perfect feet and takes the time (a long time) to gradually accustom his body to running in these “barefoot” shoes, they may be just fine. “ There is not a problem with the shoes,” Carter said, “just the people who wear them.”

There is a vast array of stability shoes that are designed and built to allow the runner to move through the foot strike in an anatomically and functionally appropriate manner. A motion controlled shoe, on the other hand, tells your foot what to do and guides you through the movement. Often heavy, these shoes accommodate those with problem feet or larger runners. 


Shoes must meet function.

Shoes must meet function.

“Trail shoes are a separate entity,” Carter said, a breed of their own, with soles designed to handle the challenging terrain of trails as well as the slippery surfaces of a Vermont winter, “when it is yucky out.”

“Brand doesn’t matter,” Carter said. All brands make all functions. First you must identify your function needs. Be open to fit that may change by several sizes throughout the multiple shoes and versions of shoes available. Be prepared to try a size that you might not have thought possible. Your foot measures differently when it is weight bearing and when it is not. You should be measured at different points of your gait cycle. “There’s no difference between running and walking,” Carter said. In fact, he recommends running shoes for walking.

“Price is not an issue of function,” Carter said. “It is, however, of quality. Once you get to $110, there’s no difference.” When function is determined and you know your size, then it is time to consider how a shoe feels. Try on several and compare. Walk in them. Run in them. Then choose.

Oh my, today’s running shoes are colorful. You may or may not like this. Enter the 4th F: fashion. At this point it’s your choice, your taste.

Buying running shoes is perhaps the most important step to connecting all your other steps into a safe and efficient running gait and successful experience. There are no shortcuts. It is the one significant expense you will have. Be informed and invest wisely. Your feet are what will be asked to sustain many miles of effort, dedication, sweat, fatigue and joys. Treat them well.

“Active Vermont”  Linda Freeman


Challenge yourself. Go ahead. Do it. A challenge is, in part, a call to perform. Often proof is demanded. A challenge may be a “summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort…” (

Challenge is subjective. A challenge to one person is not so to another. Furthermore, a challenge must be accepted in order to be proven. We must choose to put ourselves out there, to identify a goal, to reach for something that tests us.

Challenge involves commitment, fear, effort, doubt, discomfort, fatigue, hunger. Somewhere along the road to achievement, we may meet negativity, but we are just as likely to be spiked by enthusiasm. Small victories become meaningful pieces of a very large pie. Reaching expands.

Whatever our fitness level, athletic experience, age or professional demands, if we want to, we can articulate an achievable goal and then take the necessary steps to reach it.

My friend Jeb Wallace-Brodeur just completed all 48 Winter 4000-footers in New Hampshire. He met his final challenge skinning up Mt. Garfield and skiing down on what he characterized as a wild ride.

 One of the 48 - JW-B 2014

This is huge. It takes a seasoned athlete to be able to summit this goal, but Jeb is also a professional photographer and a family man.  (Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

Everyday people do amazing things every day. While I don’t advocate doing what Cheryl Strayed described in her popular book, “Wild,” (alone for over 1,000 miles on the Pacific Coast Trail with “no experience or training”) I do suggest that each of us has within us the skills and strengths needed to accomplish a challenge that calls uniquely to us. Training and preparation, equipment and education personalize the quest.

Clare Porter is a real person with a real life. Her activity of choice is hiking. Prioritizing her opportunities to do so, she determinedly hikes literally rain or snow throughout the year. She underpins her weekly ventures outdoors with strength training and yoga. She is not a professional athlete but she enjoys embarking on trips that would daunt a lesser person. Here she is on Picacho Peak, Arizona. “The trail we took (Hunter trail) is only 3 miles,” she said, “but rated difficult. The peak is only 3374’ but the 1500’ we climbed was straight up! Gloves were a necessity with all the cables.”

climbing Claire Porter 3-18-2014

We all know friends and neighbors who do remarkable things: century ride, marathon, walking tour or a local 5k. The scope of the event is irrelevant. The challenge may be real or perceived; physical, mental or emotional. Or all of the above. But a challenge will never be met unless we choose it, unless we sign on, unless we begin and continue the journey. If we do so, we will surely cross the finish line.

Today is the First Day of Spring. (This is what Spring looks like in Vermont.) Today, not tomorrow or the next day, is the day to challenge yourself; to begin, to continue and to finish.

First Day of Spring 2014



sledding-Jeb Wallace-Brodeur

Spring Sledding

Mid March and the snow blowers are blowin’ while the skiers are skiin’! Though for some this week’s snowfall has been problematic, and I’m sorry, it sure has been a boon to recreational athletes.  (Photo-Sledding in Hubbard Park, Montpelier. Jeb Wallace-Brodeur)

But it is, however, mid March – even in Vermont. It is time to take stock of the changing seasons. Last week we startled our systems by springing forward into daylight savings time. Just as families were returning from school break vacations, life resumed at a different time of day and now, more school closings. We know, it won’t last.

This is the time to transition. As the snow sports slowly come to an end, it is important to check through all sports equipment, make repairs, and pack gear safely – good to go next fall.

It is also the time to dig out our spring “toys” and be sure they are in working order. Cyclists, it’s time to get that spring tune up. Many bike shops (like Onion River Sports) are offering specials right now. It’s good to get this done before the cycling season bursts into action.

I am a strong proponent of professional bike fittings. These take time. Scheduling early (like now) is helpful to all concerned. Because I am located in Central Vermont, I am headed to Fit Werx for a thorough assessment and bike fit. In a future post I’ll let you know how it goes and what I learn.

While you’re at it, pull out your calendars and note events in which you’d like to participate.  Now is the time to define your goals, strategize your training, and put your dreams into action.

Finally, an update on our Pedal to End Cancer event. Donations are accepted for this event through the month. At this point, we are grateful to our many contributors. We have reached 90% of our $7,500 goal! Thank you all.

Denise Palmer of Ameriprise Financial flexed her creativity muscles when she provided seed packs for schwag bags, P2EC.  Great idea, don’t you think?

large photo of Ameriprise seed packs

Pedal to End Cancer 2014



 P2EC 2014 – Achieving Goals

I had the best seat in the house. On Sunday morning 3/2/2014 I was seated on my Spinner® flanked by my good friends and fellow instructors Mark and Mark, facing a studio full of riders who had committed to a cause, an event, a Pedal to End Cancer, and to community. I saw discomfort, friendship, authenticity.

Cancer has touched us all. Every one of us. Those pouring their energy and their resources into this ride refused to sit by helplessly. They did something, made a statement against victimization. It might be only a drop in the bucket, but enough drops will ultimately overflow.

Fitness, sports, athletics, competition, wellness, performance – whatever your focus – give us reasons and tools. Spinning®, for example, is so much more than sitting on an indoor bike. It is about skills and training, about learning to manage strength, energy, intensity, power and recovery.

Whatever our sport(s) of choice, we do best when we are informed, practice and then use what we are working for. I always encourage setting goals – not just abstract euphemistic ideals, but real, definable, measurable goals with a date and a distance. Knowing what lies ahead is enough to put aside an excuse to skip class or training, enough to bond with others on the same journey, enough to give us pre-race jitters and then enough to wash over us with exhilaration when the goal is achieved, the event completed.

Dig deep. You might surprise yourself. And, you know that oft repeated advice to “be in the moment?” Consider this: live for the moment, sustained by the past, and optimistic about as yet unknown future possibilities.

In the midst of challenge, we dig deep in other ways too. Ellie Stubbs posted this on Facebook just after her ride:

“Post ride sauna, feeling good after an amazing 3 hour ride this morning at the Pedal to End Cancer event. In 3 hours there’s lots of time to reflect on the purpose of the ride, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Time to be thankful for family and friends who are cancer survivors and time to be mournful of those who lost their battle with cancer. This is my third year participating and I’m thankful for the support from those who donated for my ride, my friends who helped organize the ride again, especially Linda Freeman and Scott Hess, my partners on the road, and to the many local businesses providing donations. I hope all of our efforts help to make cancer a disease of the past.”

This is community at it’s best. This is what it feels like to go outside our comfort zones, to reach for an attainable goal that is, in fact, a reach – and then to achieve that goal. This is about caring and empathy, not about offering words of wisdom, but about saying I’m sorry for your pain and I’ll do something, I’ll offer my own discomfort in hope, I’ll grieve with you and I’ll celebrate what is.




Thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers led by Ellie Stubbs including: Scott Hess (also our leading fund-raiser by far), Linda Freeman, Kate Harbaugh, Frank Partsch, Sherry Goulette, Deb Raymond; Kathleen Burroughs and “kids” for memory flowers.

Thanks to Mark Bates, Linda Freeman and Mark Simakaski for leading the rides.

Huge thanks to all participants!

Thanks to friends and family who helped support each rider and each team

 with financial contributions and encouragement.

Thank you to our sponsors within the Central Vermont community:




National Life Group


Sarah Bothfeld, Massage Therapist

Community National Bank

Farrell Distributing for vitamin waters


Steve McKinstry, Personal Trainer

Morse Farm Sugarworks

Denise Palmer and the staff at Ameriprise Financial

Road ID

Stowe Kitchen, Bath & Linens

Three Penny Taproom

Twin City Subaru