A September 9, 2015 article in the New York Times brought to the forefront the work of Paul DeVita, a professor of kinesiology at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and president of the American Society of Biomechanics. Dr. DeVita’s research compared the lower leg and ankle function of young runners in contrast to runners over forty years of age. His initial research in 2000 looked at gait changes with age at walking speeds, whereas his 2015 research data was gathered at running speeds. While the results are alarming, incorporating the study finding into your training program will greatly reduce running-related overuse injuries.

The over 40-49 age group has seen a huge increase in numbers in the past decade. As a runner who was once a member of the 40-49 age group, I have experience the changes in running performance associated with age. DeVita’s research confirmed a 20% reduction in running speed per decade beyond forty. Both running stride length and lower leg muscle function decline in a linear manner with age. Calf (gastroc-soleus muscle) and ankle dorsiflexion (tibialis anterior muscle) functional strength both decline with age. A reduction in lower leg muscle strength and function shifts the burden of self-propulsion to our hips and glutes which are already physically challenged by prolonged sitting and tight hip flexor muscles.

Lower leg, foot, and Achilles tendon injuries become increasingly common in runners over forty. Gradual degradation of muscle and tendon tissue integrity and nerve innervation sets the stage for an increase in running-related overuse injuries. On a positive note, the information provided by Dr. DeVita’s research will serve to guide strength and conditioning programs for runners interested in injury prevention and running performance. Stretching the calf and lower leg muscles, Active Release techniques, dynamic warm-up, and rolling are great ways to improve lower leg muscle tissue mobility. Lower leg, ankle, and foot strengthening exercises should be a part of every runner’s training program, not just those in the fourth decade of life and beyond. Strengthening exercises should include single leg heel raises, heel drops, resisted ankle inversion/eversion/dorsiflexion, and intrinsic foot strengthening exercises. Of course, the gluteal musculature and core are not to be forgotten as older runners rely on these inherently weak muscle groups in the absence of full lower leg and ankle strength.

If you have been battling a lower leg, ankle, foot, or Achilles injury, email me your questions to determine how you can not only return to pain-free running, but also prevent future injury recurrence. Strength and muscle/tendon tissue mobility are the keys to running faster beyond your forties!

John Fiore, PT

Sapphire Physical Therapy


Reynolds G, Why Runners Get Slower with Age. New York Times. 2015, Sept 9.
DeVita P, Hortobagyi T. Age Causes a Redistribution of Joint Torques and Power During Gait. J Appl Physiol (1985), 2000, May; 88 (5):1804-11.
DeVita P, Fellin RE, Seay JF, Ip E, Stavro N, Messier SP. The Relationship Between Age and Running Biomechanics. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015, Aug 7.

Did you know Nicole was the winner of Run Wild Missoula’s Diva Day this past Saturday? Congrats, Nicole! Want to know more about this speedy lady’s running career? Click here. Nicole also has a coaching business. For more information, please see the end of this post. 

Do you fuel after your hard workouts and races? If you desire to reach your peak potential you must plan post exercise nutrition as carefully as you plan your running workout of the day. If you neglect this area, you set yourself up to not recover optimally and consequently not elevate your training to a higher level of fitness.

Consuming carbohydrates with some protein immediately after a hard sustained effort helps restore lost muscle and liver glycogen. It also helps save and boost the production of proteins. Additionally, post exercise carbs boost insulin production and insulin has a powerful effect on runner’s muscles. Insulin helps build muscles after training. Having more lean body mass (muscle) will help you run faster.

You need a minimum of 1 gram per kilogram of body weight.

For example:
110 lbs divided by 2.2 = 50kgs
50kgs x 1 gram = 50 grams
50 grams x 4 calories/gram = 200 calories from carbohydrates
Research states that 10-20 grams of protein is optimal.

I personally usually consume a large bowl of organic colorful veggies including avocado, olive oil and nutritional yeast. I also have a copious amount of blueberries; for my treat I devour my homemade Lara bars made with dates and nuts.

If you want to recover faster, maintain your muscle and therefore have a better performance on the next workout, consider consuming carbohydrates and some protein immediately after your workouts. 30 minutes is the window of opportunity you have. Take advantage of this!

Please email me at speedendcoach@aol.com with training questions that you would like me to answer in future editions of the Runners Edge Newsletter. I will answer one question every month.

Nicole Hunt
Speed Endurance Coaching
Please contact me anytime with questions

September marks the beginning of the fall running season. Smoke-filled skies will soon give way to clear, frost-covered mornings. While fall offers some of Missoula’s best running conditions, nine months of running miles often results in fall aches and pains. Lower extremity running injuries impact 19% to 79% of runners. Factors which lead to an increased incidence of running injury include a significant increase in running distance, terrain, or pace, a change in overall body composition or strength, and a lack of adequate recovery or rest following a workout or race.

When running-related pain develops, it is important to determine whether the pain symptom is the result of an underlying weakness and/or a mechanical problem located elsewhere in the body. The running body in motion is subjected to multidirectional forces. Our body’s ability to dissipate excess force, minimize impact force, and transfer these multidirectional forces into forward running progress determines our running efficiency. Evaluating a runner’s efficiency through video evaluation is an excellent way to determine potential injury-causing compensations to improve running efficiency.

Sapphire Physical Therapy offers video running evaluation which allows runners to watch themselves run in slow motion. A physical therapist will point out any running gait deviations and explain how such deviations may lead to or be the underlying cause of running-related pain. An August, 2015 study in the Orthopedic Journal of Physical Therapy reviewed 974 studies to determine whether or not visual feedback (in the form of video analysis, visual feedback) and verbal feedback are effective in improving running mechanics. The study confirmed that both visual feedback and verbal cues are effective in modifying running mechanics. The key to an effective and useful running video analysis lies in the ability of the physical therapist to detect running gait deviations and translate those into simple cues to be used while running. Running injury treatment and prevention simply makes more sense when pain, weakness, and running video compensation can be related to one another.

Below are several examples of simple verbal cues which may be utilized based on possible running gait compensations based on a video running evaluation. Contact John with any questions or comments and learn more about our comprehensive running and physical therapy services at www.sapphirept.com.

* Shorten your stride length

* Increase your running cadence

* Land with your foot beneath you

* Allow your hip to extend using your gluts

* Incorporate your big toe while pushing off

* Relax your upper body and breathe

John Fiore, PT
Sapphire Physical Therapy

Agresta C, Brown A. Gait Retraining for Injured and Healthy Runners Using Augmented Feedback: A Systematic Literature Review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2015;45(8):576-585. doi:10.2519/jospt.2015.0503

Do you wonder how frequently or when you should focus on stamina, endurance, speed, recovery, power and agility? Hopefully this article will help answer those questions.

Below you will find details of a basic training week created for the final 12 weeks leading to a goal race that can be adapted to suit all abilities – I utilize this pattern for myself and for my athletes. The outline is also adaptable for use on all types of terrain that you might have available.

Please Note:
Beginner Runner- Run the lower mileage suggested
Advanced Runner- Run the longer mileage suggested and run the top-end minutes of faster running

Focus: Endurance
    4-8 mile moderate run with 6 strides or crosstrain (XT) 30-60 min moderate

Focus: Speed
4-12 mile moderate run with 6 strides and 2 to 5 sets of 3, 2, 1 min @ 8k effort w/ 1-2 min jog rest between sets and reps. Run on rolling hills or hilly trail.

Focus: Recovery
4-8 mile jog or XT 30 to 60 min easy

Focus: Power, Strength, Agility
4-12 mile moderate run including 6 strides and 6-15 x 45 sec hills @ 3k effort w/ easy jog down rests. If you ran a track workout on Tuesday evening, then I suggest omitting the faster running and instead run moderate with some strides. In my experience, runners need at least 2 to 3 days recovery after an intense track workout for recovery and injury prevention.

Focus: Recovery
4-8 mile jog or XT 30 to 60 min easy

Focus: Stamina
8-20+ mile moderate run including 3 to 8 sets of 12 min @ half marathon effort w/ 90 sec jog rests. Run on rolling hills or hilly trails.

Focus: Endurance
4-16+ mile easy run or XT 30 to 120+ min easy
Thank you for reading. I hope you find this information helpful. Please email me at speedendcoach@aol.com with training questions that you would like me to answer in future editions of the Runners Edge Newsletter. I will answer one question every month.

Nicole Hunt
Speed Endurance Coaching
Please contact me anytime with questions

As runners we cherish exploring beautiful trails, running with friends and testing our limits. When we decide to become parents, part of us becomes afraid that we will lose not only our identity as a runner but also our freedom, dreams and goals. In this month’s coaching article, I relay my experience how I overcame diversity to rekindle my running passion and spirit.

Running Mama: An interview with Nicole Hunt
By Jessie Thomasnicole1

Nighttime and early morning wake ups, playdates, consoling big emotions, virus swapping, meals to make, lunches to pack, diapers, driving young people hither and yon, homework to help with, piles of laundry, teeth to brush, and late nights prepping so the next day doesn’t eat your lunch before it even starts. This is just a small list of the responsibilities parents are subject to on a daily basis. It’s enough to derail the training and racing aspirations of even the most disciplined human. Dear parents, take heart. Nicole Hunt, mother and homeschooler to 3 boys (6 yr old Eon and 3 yr old twins, Roam and Ember) answers a few questions about training, racing, coaching, and living the life you want as a parent and competitor. Nicole is a wealth of information on and off the trails. 1. What was your training and racing before children. Before children, my goal was to try to qualify for another mountain running team. I trained about 60 to 70 mpw with 3 hard workouts per week. I did drills, circuit training, mountain biking up hills hard, xc skiing for the sole purpose of becoming a faster runner. I trained outside nearly every workout and I ran in the mountains just about every weekend when weather permitted. I traveled and competed all over world including Russia, Siberia, Czech Republic, Austria, Nigeria, Turkey, Slovenia, China and South Korea. I felt I was in the best shape of my life at age 36 and even set a few road PR’s at that age, 1 year before becoming pregnant.

To continue reading please click on this link below.
Montana Trail Crew

Running is a gift. It brings us joy and gives us opportunities to seek adventure. We explore unknown trails at moderate to hard intensities without giving much thought to how each run is affecting our body in a positive or negative way. In this article let’s look at how an easy run following a harder workout will bring you closer to your fastest self and how one discovers what their unique “easy” pace.

I tell all my athletes that we become faster on our easy days and not on our hard running days. It is the day(s) following a hard workout when we build new capillaries, grow muscles and create enzymes for energy metabolism. In order for these intricate processes to occur, we must allow our bodies to recover fully from an intense running workout by running easily the following day, or perhaps even two or three days depending on how long it takes you to properly recover.

Easy is subjective; it is important you get an objective feel for easy pace then you can go out and run that effort anywhere. Here is how to objectively define easy:

1. Run a flat 5k race and formulate your pace per mile and then add on 2:30 to 3 min to that pace. For example if you are a 20 min 5k runner, your average pace is 6:26 min per mile so your easy pace the next day would be about 9 min to 9:30 min per mile on flat ground. Then practice a few easy runs on flat ground at ~9 min mile to get a feel for that effort. When you start sensing your correct easy effort, you can run more challenging terrain, like hills, while maintaining that same easy effort level at a slower pace.

2. Wear a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) in a 5k race and find your HR max which is usually the highest HR produced near the end of the race. I normally have my athletes perform 2 HR Max tests to confirm HR Max. After you obtain HR Max you multiply that number by .70 to obtain easy HR. For example: if max HR noted was 170 beats per minute (bpm) then easy HR would be 119 bpm. I then tell my athletes to wear their HRM for a few weeks to get a feel for that pace/effort. After you become familiar with that effort then you have a subjective feel for easy pace, based on your objective measure, and you no longer need to wear a HR monitor.

If you truly run easy on your easy days, you will get faster and stronger. Trust the wisdom of your body and listen to your inner voice that will guide you to what easy pace is [or don’t trust it, and just use one of the methods listed above J]. If you do this, you will be transformed into a new faster self.

Nicole Hunt
Speed Endurance Coaching
Please contact me anytime with questions