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    Racing With The Elites in Boston

    An interview with Bronson Venable

    During the Boston Marathon this year (2017), Zensah Ambassador Bronson Venable decided he wanted to run with the likes of Meb, Galen, Ward and the other elites; and run he did:

    How long have you been running?

    I started running in 1998 when I was only 8 years old.  So 18/19 years cause I'm 26 now, so it's been a long time!  

    How did you get so fast?

    As a kid I joined North Kingstown Rec in Rhode Island and ran 3 days a week.  It turned competitive and we tried running Junior Olympics and that's when I made it to nationals in both cross-country and track.  From there I realized between Junior Olympics and Hershey track nationals it required natural talent and a bit of hard work.  The running increased to 5 days a week but the mileage wasn't that high at the time.

    Once I got to high school the competition was next level. I went to a private Catholic school (Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, R.I.).  Once in high school my 2 coaches Jim Doyle and Danny Brennan were a big influence on my training.  Between the mileage of around 70 a week, to the various workouts, it all began to align the stars.  My senior year I ended up winning R.I. XC states with a 40 second PR, along with coming in 4th at outdoor New England's in 9:16 for 3200 meters.  Once I got to college a boatload of injuries and me going from being 5ft 5in, to 6ft 2in in about a year & a half slowed my running down a lot.  It wasn't until I was done with college that I could fully recover and get another running game plan together. 

    Since then, the knowledge my 2 high school coaches passed on to me and the training plans and workouts are what I've been used to base my training off of ever since I finished college running.  Just last year I PRd in 4 events. The 5k (14:49) 5miles (24:54), half marathon (1:11:20) and marathon (2:39:19).  With that all just happening I know I have plenty of room to improve and time to get even faster and that's the goal!

    Was this your first Boston?

    My first Boston was actually last year where I ran 2:39:19 and actually proposed at mile 26.  Knowing I was going to propose was definitely motivation and definitely helped me on race day. 

    What made you decide to go all out and run with the Elite Men?

    Coming into this year I really wanted to go sub 2:30 at Boston, however due to a hip injury and some time off my time goal went out the window.  Even after a month off and only a month and a half of training I still planned on running Boston but wasn't sure my plan until I was joking around with some friends at work.  They jokingly said go out as hard as you can and take down Meb, then it hit me!  Between Zensah, I have 2 other company's 1.) rabbit, and 2.) SOS Rehydrate that supply me with a few things to keep me running fast.  I figured the least I can do since they always support me is to give them some TV coverage and put them in the spotlight.  So it was decided then I was going to go out with the leaders and stay with them for a mile or 2 then see how long it would take me to get to the finish.

    Did any of them say anything to you or look surprised/pissed off?

    To be honest they weren't talking at all to each other for the mile and a half I was there.  Almost like they weren't even breathing either.  They were so smooth, and efficient it was almost amazing to see and run with.  As I began to look at my watch I took the leaders through the mile in 4:48-4:50 and I knew it was going to be a rough day.  I decided then I would get to the mile and a half with them and drop back.  When I got to a mile and a half I realized I was next to Meb and right before I slowed down I told him "Get after it today Meb, this is your last Boston, go out in style!"  He responded with "Thanks, I appreciate it brother!"  Then they were gone lol.

    How hard was it to run after the initial all-out mile?

    boston-marathon-help-finish-line

    Like I said, since the injury in January my running before Boston was minimal.  I did 1 workout and it was a 6mile tempo at 5:52 pace and the longest I had run was 13miles 3 weeks prior to Boston.  My biggest fear when I got to the line is I told my friends and family I was going for the lead but I wasn't 100% confident I could a.) Get to the lead and b.) Hang on for long. Surprisingly, the first mile was pretty smooth and relaxed thanks to the downhill.  It was cool because I've seen these guys race on tv, and now I'm side by side with Olympians and it's incredible.  The mile wasn't bad to be honest, but I started getting worried about how I would feel later in the marathon with that fast mile so I figured I would shut it down at a mile and a half.

     

    Has this been your most memorable running moment? If not, what has??

    boston-marathon-propose-zensah

    Honestly it's pretty high up there to one of my most memorable moments.  The crazy thing is 2 out of my top 3 highlights happened at the Boston Marathon. Me proposing to my wife and the love of my life last year at Boston is definitely the best moment I've had. #2 was winning the R.I. XC State championship cause I wasn't the favorite. Then #3 would definitely being running next to a bunch of Olympians and USA team members!

    Deaf Athlete Finds Motivation Instead of Excuses

    Here at Zensah, our motto is to design and manufacture gear to help athletes Perform Without Limits. So when David Tolstyka reached out to us, we knew we had to help.

    David is an athlete whose activities include snowboarding and obstacle course racing, both of which require one to be aware of their surroundings, especially with other athletes around. David reached out to us because he needed a way to let the other participants know he was deaf.

    Our design team was able to customize some of our compression tops to fit his needs. We are so proud to have been able to help an athlete with such a positive attitude, who finds reasons instead of excuses.

     zensah-deaf-athete

     

    Follow David’s journey: https://www.instagram.com/deaf_ocr/

    Do you think we can help you or someone you know Perform Without Limits? Reach out to us, we’d love to try and help! Contact us.

    zensah-athlete-deaf

    3 Ways to Kick a Hamstring Injury

    3 Ways to Kick a Hamstring Injury
    Wendy Winn, PT, OCS, NY Custom PT

    custom-performance

    Avoid Overstriding. Overstriding nearly always leads to hamstring injuries! The hamstrings’ tendon origin are at the pelvis. When you kick out too far in front of your body when running, your hamstring has to work very hard to pull the rest of your body over your legs, leading to strain and injury. 


    Expert tip: to figure out where you are landing, film yourself running from the side. (Try to get as direct of a side anlge as possible!) Stop the frame when your foot first makes contact with the ground and draw a line straight up. Ideally, the line will bisect the pelvis and center of mass. If your foot is too far forward, you are probably over striding

    What to do:
    Practice Landing with your foot closer to your body. Our favorite drill for this is:

    Standing tall, kick your leg out to the front, keeping your knee straight. Swiftly engage the back of your leg and pull back and down. Where your foot lands should be your footstrike in running!

    standing-tall

    Know your patterns. Which came first, the hamstring or the glute? Both muscles extend the hip in running, but the glute should turn on first! If not, your hamstring will be overworked!

    Expert tip: to test your firing patterns, assume a quadruped position (on hands and knees) and extend one leg out the the back, straightening the knee. Hold it there…. what is working more?

    What to do: We suggest using this test to re-wire your nerve firing patterns for running! Practice kicking your leg to the
    back, STARTING at the butt. And hold it!

    hamstring-exercise

    Keep it tight. Many leg injuries are a result of an unstable core (you knew it was coming!) If your middle is Jello, your legs have to compensate… and run too! Keeping your center strong improves efficiency and keeps your pelvis in alignment.

    Expert tip: We try to have all runners connect to their deep core muscles while running. One common cue we use is “squeeze your butt!” By squeezing your butt, your pelvis and core usually align themselves naturally!

    What to do: Stand turned to the side facing a mirror. Stick that booty out and then practice pulling it back in. Be careful not to overdo it. Pracitice getting into this position and holding it using your lower abs and glutes, then practice it out on the road!

    hip-thrust

    Lastly, we advise clients to decrease hills and speedwork, as they place extra stress on your hamstrings. Once you have strengthened your glutes, we also advocate for extensive hamstring strengthening. Hamstring rehabilitation can take up to several months; our best advice is to quickly address any discomfort and to use our tips to prevent injury!


    Custom Performance NYC provides physical therapy, performance, and recovery services for all humans empowered by running. @nycustompt

    5 Essential Pieces of Gear for OCR

    Obstacle course racing (OCR) continues to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Like any other sport, athletes of all levels, from recreational to elite seek to gain a performance advantage. In the world of OCR, with conditions and climate varying throughout the season, and race location, your choice of gear can make or break you.

    Check out my list of 5 Essential Pieces of Gear for OCR

    ocr-obstacle-course-racing-gear-kit

     

    Trail running shoes with an aggressive tread pattern

    Wearing your old beat up sneakers might be okay for your first OCR, however, those athletes who are flying past you on the hills and gaining traction in the mud when you are falling on your face are most likely wearing trail running shoes. These shoes typically have a very aggressive tread pattern on the soles that provide extra traction. Just like regular sneakers, trail shoes come with various degrees of support and cushioning. Check out INOV8, Salomon, Icebug and Reebok. These are the brands that you will see the majority OCR competitors wearing.

    Quality socks

    Once you have purchased a pair of trail shoes, don’t short change your feet by wearing any old pair of sports socks. Get a quality pair of socks that fit well, feel great and cover your ankles (prevents pebbles in your sock). Your socks should be capable of wicking moisture away from your skin, keep your feet cool in hot weather, and provide warmth in cold weather even when wet. They should stay put regardless of what you put them through, this will help prevent blisters.  Zensah Grit socks tick all these boxes and as an added bonus have a lifetime guarantee.

    Premium Athletic Compression pants/shorts

    Compression clothing is the “go to” for OCR athletes. Due to the nature of many of the obstacles, having garments that fit loosely and could get caught can be a problem. Compression pants/shorts provide protection from abrasions caused by ground contact. Rather than just a base layer (that provides warmth) look for premium athletic compression for added support and boosted athletic performance. Compression Pants/shorts that are moisture wicking and provide support in all ranges of motion are a must. My favorite race pants are the Zensah XT Compression Pants. Alternately a pair of compression shorts coupled with compression calf sleeves (check out Zensah’s range of tall compression socks and calf sleeves) work well on hotter days.  If you aren’t quite ready for the full compression look, you can layer with a pair of regular athletic shorts.

     Moisture wicking top

    Although many chose to race with no top or a sports bra only. A moisture wicking top is a great alternative. It is important to wick moisture off your body on hot days to keep you cool and prevent cold moisture from chilling your body on cold days. A top will also provide protection to your body when you have to get low down and dirty on the ground, jump over walls, and carry heavy, sometimes rough objects. Choose from long sleeve, short sleeve or no sleeve based on preference and climate. Pair with arm sleeves for an alternative performance boosting look. This also adds versatility for temperature change, push them down once you heat up, rather than taking time to remove a layer.

     Hydration pack or fuel belt

    For longer duration OCR competitions, invest in a method to carry your hydration and fuel with you. Most races will have hydration/aid stations along the course however, if you are planning to be out there for over 90 minutes, a hydration pack/belt is strongly advised.  Having the ability to hydrate and refuel on your schedule is preferable, and drinking without taking time to stop will give you the leg up on your competitors. Experiment with different  hydration and fuel types during your training. Staying on top of hydration and fueling during long endurance races will help prevent dehydration, cramping, and “hitting the wall” aka “bonking”. This in turn makes for a better race experience and finish time. Camelbak, Nathan and Geigerrig are some of the more popular brands you will see on race day, although cheaper hydration packs and belts can easily be found online.

    When compiling this list I took a bottom to top approach, athletes should tailor their gear to their individual needs, however, this list serves as a great place to start.

    About the author: Kiaran McCormack OCR athlete is an Elite level OCR competitor who is a Zensah Ambassador and Nor’Easter OCR Pro-Team member. Kiaran has hit the podium at Spartan Races on several occasions and finished the 2016 season 3rd ranked male in the US for the Spartan Stadium Race series.