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Wise Running

Train smart, eat well, and enjoy the run.

Tag Archives: gear

Levels of Bike Fit for Speed and Comfort

“The bike should fit you instead of you trying to adjust to the bike.”
— Dr. Jeanne Williams, Quest Therapy Consultants

I have had two bike fits in the last several months.  Each had its purpose.  I got my “new to me” bike in November.  It is a Blue Triad SL.

Event 1:  Bike Fix by Chris at Biketopia

Chris is my bike guy.  I ask a lot of questions and I try to buy things there regularly to support Chris for his generous sharing of bike knowledge.  When I decided to upgrade from an aluminum frame to a carbon frame, it was Chris’ advice that I followed.

When I finally committed to making the change, I bought a fixer-upper.  It was really

Blue Triad SL

My “new to me” Blue Triad SL.

inexpensive.  I knew, however, that things were not totally right.  It did not shift right, the brakes did not work well with my carbon wheels, and I was not going riding until Chris fixed it up.  This turned out to be a wise choice.  On of my shift cables had broken out out its lining inside the bike.  This caused bad shifting and damage to the inside of the frame.  Chris wasn’t too worried.  He replaced my shifter cable with a self-contained system that would seal it off.  Better shifting and no more rubbing the frame.  He also replaced the brake pads and made a few other minor adjustments.  It was ready to ride.  Thanks, Chris!

Outcome of Event 1:  The bike was safe to ride!

Event 2:  Standard Bike Fit by Chris at Biketopia

Chris at Biketopia (www.biketopia.com)

Chris at Biketopia (www.biketopia.com)

It was the off season when I got my bike.  I rode periodically and tried to save money by tweaking my own bike fit.  I moved the seat, moved my cleats, and several other things.  Unfortunately, I was getting sore knees.  This is not normal or healthy.  If riding your bike is hurting your joints, get help!  I buried my pride for the moment and went to Chris for help.  Chris got out his measuring tools and did a basic bike fit.  It took a while, but he figured out that most of the issue was with my bike seat: it was too high.  I have a long torso and shorter legs for my height.  Chris actually had to cut off about 1 inch of my carbon bike frame atop the seat post.  It sounded scary to me, but Chris has done good things for me in the past.  When I mounted the shortened bike, my knees were tracking properly.  No more knee pain.  Thanks, Chris!

Outcome of Event 2:  No more knee pain from riding my bike.

Event 3:  High Performance Bike Fit by Dr. Jeanne and Brent Williams at Quest Therapy Consultants

The bike was healthy, my knees were healthy, why do I need more than that?  Goals.  Big goals.  I want to perform well in a 140.6 mile race known by most as Ironman.  This requires a 2.4 mile swim, and 122 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.  Hours and hours of non-stop fun.

Here is where the next level bike fit comes in: speed and comfort = performance.  Whether it is a sprint triathlon or a full distance 140.6, folks who want to compete at their absolute best need more than the standard bike fit.  To get the most out of the effort on the bike and to be as fresh as possible, you must have everything tweaked to optimize power and comfort.

I knew I wanted more.  I contacted Dr. Jeanne Williams to schedule a bit fit with her and her husband Brent.  Both are highly qualified in different ways.  Jeanne is a medical professional with a doctoral degree in physical therapy.  She knows the human body.  Brent is a master bike mechanic with multiple certifications.  They both have a plethora of experience and training that make them a perfect dynamic-duo to do a bike fit that is precise in terms of both the body and the bike.  In addition to all of this, they have spent some time with the legendary John Cobb.

Measuring the angles in my aero position

Measuring the angles in my aero position

In a 3 hour session, I rode several times while Dr. Jeanne used her fancy analysis gizmos and gadgets.  There were dots on my shoes and joints.  There were low-powered lasers on my knees.  There was a fancy tablet with a specialized set of apps to video and analyze the geometry of my ride after each adjustment.  As a data nerd, I have to say it was pretty darn cool. Both Brent and Jeanne would use tools to make adjustments.  They also both asked a lot of questions and explained what they were doing and why.

Dr. Jeanne and Brent Williams

Dr. Jeanne and Brent Williams adjusting my handlebars.

Here is a list of some of the adjustments made on my bike and shoes:

  • Bike Seat:  They checked the bike seat height.  Chris had adjusted it in my first bike fit.  Jeanne and Brent were happy with the height.  🙂  They did move the seat back a bit to accomodate my long torso.
  • Stem:  They adjusted the stem 20mm.  The stem holds the handlebars.  This was also to account for my long torso.  These first two changes allowed me a straight torso for improved breathing AND allowed my arms to rest properly in aero position.
  • Aero Bars:  The aero bars were straight out, but that did not match my natural hand position.  They rotated them both inward a bit and this felt much more comfortable.  Jeanne explained that this reduction in tension means I expend less energy in the forearms.  I am training for an Ironman, so this would be very important.
  • Shoes/Cleats:  The cleats on the shoes can be moved forward or backward.  They can also be turned at different angles.  They did some minor adjustments and even added some tiny wedges/shims to fix my pronation problem.  In the end, these adjustments ensured that my knees stay directly over the pedals and provide the maximum power for the efforts.  Healthy and strong is the result.
file_001.jpeg

Dr. Jeanne Williams explaining the angles and the effect. (the angles are marked visibly on the screen)

The most important tool they used was their brains.  Jeanne is a PhD in physical therapy.  Brent is Vice President of the Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association (http://www.probma.org).  That is a lot of brain power being applied.   They collected data from the bike, from the shoes, and from the rider.  They did this each time anything was adjusted.  They conferred with each other until they agreed and they explained things to me as they went.  This medical/mechanical duo makes for a top notch bike high performance bike fit.  This high performance bike fit meant more comfort and more power for me.

Thanks, Jeanne and Brent!

Outcome of Event 3:  Increased power and comfort to help m maintain my Ironman training.

A Philosophy of Bike Fit

I interviewed Dr. Jeanne and Brent to understand their goals and philosophy underlying the bike fit process:

The main goals of the bike fit process include:

  • comfort
  • performance
  • relaxed breathing
  • more power

In the broader picture, this dynamic duo has more grandiose goals:  more cyclists and triathletes as well as more satisfaction for those that ride.

They told me the story of one of their bike fit customers who had been happily riding his bike on perfectly flat terrain in the plains of North Dakota, but recently moved to East Tennessee.  The man told them, “I do great on the flats, but every time I reach a hill I have to stop and walk!  This fellow would have stopped cycling altogether if not for the changes made in a bike fit.  He did not need the high performance bike fit.  He did not have knee pain.  He did need more power to get up those hills.  A little time with these bike fit professionals and he was putting out more power with the same effort.  It only took a few minor adjustments.  This man entered the bike fit with frustration and walked out a happy cyclist.

In the end, it comes down to this:  “The bike should fit you instead of you trying to adjust to the bike.”

Remember This:

“Anyone can get on a bike and start riding.
To be healthy and optimize your power, you need a bike fit.”
— Dr. Jeanne Williams, Quest Therapy Consultants

Bike Fit:  One Size Does Not Fit All

If you are a professional triathlete and you have at least $2,500 and 3 days to spend, feel free to make an appointment with John Cobb.  For the rest of us, the best we can do is going to someone trained by Cobb or some other bicycle legend.  At the level of detail that I was seeking in a bike fit, I spent 3 hours.  Like me, you can start talking with Jeanne and Brent (or your local bike fit team) and find out how much of the bike fit protocol you actually need.  You may need the full $350 bike fit session, but you may only need parts of it.  That would save both time and money.  As with any good bike fit professional, these experts will talk with you long enough so that you will know what services you actually need.  From there, they can give you customized bike fit options to fit both your goals and your budget.

To get fit on the bike, get the bike fit that fits your goals.

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Wear a Wise Running Shirt to Your Next Race!

Are you a Wise Runner?  Show it proudly with this New Balance Tempo Performance Tank!

shirt pic 2 

It is available for $20 plus shipping costs.

This unisex tank comes in Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, and XX-Large.  
[I am wearing a medium in the photo, and I am 6’1″.]

Email me (pmark.runner@gmail.com)the quantity and sizes you wish to order.   I will email you a Paypal invoice of $20 per shirt plus the shipping.  You can then click the link in the email to pay by credit card, debit card, or Paypal account.  Your shirt should be mailed out to you within 2 weeks.

Runners in the Knoxville area can purchase a shirt from me directly without the need to pay shipping.

The Gift of Running: A Book for Runners and Future Runners

My first book, The Gift of Running, is available in both paperback & ebook

Paperback Version – Amazon.com   $9.00

Ebook Version – Kindle Store $2.99

I wrote this book for several reasons.  Many of the books on running are tough to read, a lot like technical manuals.  I wanted to offer something more personal, runner to runner.  Moreover, I wanted it to be easy to read for the inexperienced runner.  I think I have accomplished this with The Gift of Running .

Below is the official description.  A small excerpt is included at the bottom of this page.

Book Reviews by Runners:

Book Reviews on Amazon.com:

If you would like an autographed copy of the book, please email me at pmark67@gmail.com

_________________________

The Gift of Running: a book for runners and future runners

by P Mark Taylor

Running is a gift, but not only for the gifted.  Whether you run just for fun or want to become a more competitive runner, The Gift of Running is for you. In The Gift of Running, P. Mark Taylor shows runners how to get started and stay motivated.

The book includes:  advice on how to get started as a runner, tried & true methods of running faster and longer, how to prepare for a marathon, tips on staying healthy & happy, motivation to keep you running, an insider view of the running community, & training programs for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, & marathon.

P. Mark Taylor is a runner & author of the blog at http://www.WiseRunning.com.

Publication Date:    Jul 20 2012
ISBN/EAN13:    0615668607 / 9780615668604
Page Count:    196
Binding Type:    US Trade Paper
Trim Size:    5.5″ x 8.5″
Language:    English
Color:    Black and White
Related Categories:    Sports & Recreation / Running & Jogging
 
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How to read this book:   (an excerpt from the book)

“This book is not a technical manual.  I have intentionally tried to keep my explanations brief and simple.  I have avoided technical terms and explained what I mean whenever needed.  It does offer important research-based information, but it offers more than that.

The book is about:

  • the human side of running,
  • becoming a runner,
  • working to become a better runner,
  • & staying safe, sane, and happy as a runner. 

It moves back and forth between personal stories, quotes from runners, and advice on running.

Most of the subsections of the book could be read independently, but I encourage you to read it from front to back.  This is especially true for the inexperienced runners.  Read the whole thing first, then go enjoy the run!

This book is the culmination of years of running, studying, and life experiences.  Most of all it is about the love of running and my respect for runners.

This book is dedicated to all of those who share my passion for running & to all those who are trying running for the first time.”

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 Click here to see my second book on running:
Wise Running: Thoughts on Running and Life
Wise Running Book COVER mockup

Welcome to Wise Running!

This is my first real blog on Wise Running.  You have to start somewhere, right?  I already did my “About Us” page.  Take a look and tell me what you think.  It is just a skeleton at this point, but here is a quick preview of what is to come.

The categories above show much of my intent:

Health & Nutrition is somewhat self-explanatory, but will focus on runner’s specific needs, habits, and injury prevention.

Racing will include some notes on my races, some notes on big races in the running world, links to upcoming races, and anything else race-related that you might ask for – just let me know.

Shoes & Gear will have news, links, and reviews related to running gear for your feet and everything above.

Humor & Inspiration will include insightful quotes and stories as well as the lighter side of running.

Training will include links to high quality training programs, tips, and suggestions.

Let me know what you would like to see!

Happy Running!

P. Mark “Park” Taylor

parktaylor@wiserunning.com

 

 

 

Whose shoes do you use?

In my running careers, I have run in Keds (no, I am not kidding), Nike, Reebok, New Balance, Asics, Vibram Five-Fingers, & Brooks.  I had a unique reason for including every pair.  I am happy to say that I have never bought a pair of running shoes because they look cool.  I tend to be more about two very important purposes: protecting my legs & getting faster.

A good pair of shoes can provide support, comfort, protection, and perhaps even mechanical advantage.  Track spikes, for instance sink into the track just enough to make sure you don’t slip.  This gives you the mechanical advantage of grip so that you can make sure that every ounce of energy you expend actually helps you move forward faster.  The racing flat does a great job on race day, but would not provide enough support for most runners on the daily run.

So here is the question of the day:  Whose shoes do you use?  Do you stick with one brand?  Do you use different brands for different purposes?  Do you have multiple pairs of the exact same shoe so you can rotate them and help them last longer?

The shoes I use?  I currently train in Vibram Five Finger.

I love the Bikila LS because it feels almost like barefoot running, but with the advantage of not having my skin ripped up by rocks and other debris along the way.  I also have some Nike Zoom for racing and short runs.  I still have a pair of Brooks Beast that I wear from time to time.  They are the polar opposite of the Vibrams because they offer tons of cushion and support.  Hence, I am likely to use them on relatively slow and easy runs when my legs are a little sore.  Still, on the long runs, running up and down ridges, track workouts, and anything of substance I will keep going back to my Vibrams Bikila LS.  They fit like a glove and they encourage me to run with a more natural stride.  In the long run…figuratively and literally…that means that my legs are happier and that I am running faster, which makes me happier.

So… whose shoes do you use?

Happy Running!

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