Leaning on my InTraining Support Team

Going into our 13-week Sun Run InTraining clinic series leading to the event April 15th, I had a good sense of appreciation for the role played by the programs’ run leaders. That was easy to develop in the previous years I took the program and benefitted from the dynamics of the weekly group run and the encouragement from the run leaders themselves during the runs.

Yet it’s only this year that I’ve truly wrapped my head around how important a role is played in my mind set and preparations by the Sun Run InTraining support team.

That, of course, still includes the clinic coordinators and the run leaders; many of whom have been volunteering for multiple years in support of the Sun Run and SportMedBC, the provincial network of sport medicine, sport science and sport training practitioners which developed the SportMed RunWalk curriculum that is at the heart of InTraining. Yet it’s more than that.

Throughout the clinic series, we’re introduced to some of the best minds in the running sector, on everything from shoe selection and apparel to stretching tips from chiropractors and nutrition “intel” from dietitians. Thanks to SunRun InTraining and SportMedBC, the people presenting short talks on their respective areas of expertise are always best of class.

That was certainly the case this week when Dr. Roy Mathews of Vancouver Podiatry dropped by to bring us up to date on the latest research and trends on foot care in running. In the dictionary beside “this guy knows what he’s talking about”, there’s Dr. Mathews’ picture. He even made the recent proliferation in metatarsal injuries (to the balls of our feet) sound interesting and related it to the mantra of Sun Run InTraining: running and walking smartly and safely to avoid getting injured and to make the most of its inherent exercise and wellness benefits.

Now, I’m a guy who has been in the sports and media fields my entire career and I have had the privilege of working closely with some of the best sport medical practitioners in the world through my relationships with SportMedBC and the MultiSport Centre of Excellence Group; and before that in my years with Tennis Canada and in the NBA. So, I’m both spoiled by the level of expertise in my circle of life and not impressed easily. Yet when Dr. Mathews gave us his take on the new flex shoes that are all the craze, I learned something. I knew coming in that these minimalist shoes have been inspired by the running stars of the African continent, who often run barefoot. What I didn’t know was the reason they did so (to build strength in the smaller muscles in the foot) and how they incorporated it in their training (alternating with running in regular athletic shoe wear).

That was only one example. He talked about the best ways to get sized up for orthotics and the best practices in that field. He compared and contrasted the merits of heel-strike running and mid-sole strike running. He even weighed in on the pratfalls of wearing high heels for women.

I’m pleased to say that last part was beyond my scope of “need to know” information, but even on that front, he was informative and entertaining. It was yet another example of how solid the support network behind Sun Run InTraining is for me and, I’m sure, for the thousands of active living people who sign on to the program. For me, it was another reminder of how much I rely on the experts associated with the program, sometimes for new information and other times, simply for reinforcement of the tried-and-true principles of running and walking the smart way.