Monday, August 10, 2015

Salming RunLAB Experience

This is part one of a two part post covering the Salming RunLAB experience.  This post focuses on a description of the general experience and what one can expect in this, and presumably similar analysis experiences. The second post focuses on the motion capture technology, the actual biomechanical findings and the proposed changes in form that result from the analysis. This post is on and the second post is will be on

Salming is a sportswear and equipment company based in Gothenburg, Sweden, which was founded by Hockey legend Börje Salming.  Recently, they have branched out from designing and manufacturing gear for sports such as floorball and handball to enter the running market.  In parallel, they have launched two facilities for advanced running form analysis (“RunLABs”), one in Stockholm and one in Gothenburg.
Through Team Wicked Bonkproof teammate Stefan Albinsson’s associations with Salming (and obviously close connections to Sweden :)), fellow Bonkproofers, Carsten Hoever and I were provided the chance to experience what the RunLAB has to offfer.  *(full disclosure:the experience was provided at no charge to both parties).
On June 24th, 2015, Carsten and I showed up to the Salming headquarters and flagship store in Gothenburg right after lunch. The prior week we had used their intuitive web interface to book sequential times so that we could share the experience.  After a brief introduction to the process by Salming Retail Manager, Lhina Hansson, we were sent to the changing room to change into bottoms and shoes with as little reflective material as possible. The idea behind the RunLAB is to provide more insight into one’s running form to improve the economy and ease of running, and for injury prevention. The running form is analyzed through a quite sophisticated motion capture process. Think about how Gollum was created in the Lord of the Rings movies and then you understand the technology behind what is used!
Once I came down from changing, Lhina and her colleagues, Peter Fröberg, a running coach for over 20 years and Sara Holmgren, one of Sweden’s top middle distance runners, proceeded to cover critical points on my body with reflective balls meant to provide markers for key movement points. All other reflective material on my running gear was covered now to take away any false markers. These markers are also the reason why the test needs to be done in shorts or tights, and with bare upper body (or sports bra/tight shirt if you are a woman); it is crucial that the markers reflect the actual motion of the body and not that motion of the garment you are wearing.
Once “marked up”, Peter then explained that I would warm up for about 5 minutes at an easy pace and then they would record three segments of progressively increasing speeds of approximately two minutes in duration. I mounted the sweetest treadmill I have ever run on and proceeded to warm up. The treadmill used was a (insert treadmill details here), which has about 1.5 times the length of a normal treadmill with a shock absorbing deck. The lab itself is located right in the centre of the flagship retail store in front of the cash registers. Surrounding the treadmill there are 10 motion capture cameras utilizing the reflective markers as well as a couple of normal video cameras. Behind the register are large screens that show a live video feeds and confirm that all markers are recorded. This provides a new experience of seeing yourself from a third party perspective while you run and can be a bit unsettling initially! Once warmed up and all markers were confirmed, Peter instructed me to begin the first segment at 5:00/km (about 8:02/mile).  Once recorded, we moved on to 4:17/km (6:53/mile) and then finally 3:45/km (6:02/mile). The paces are determined by an individual’s 10K personal record and are unique to every person who comes to the lab. Immediately after finishing, Peter had some initial comments about my arm swing that he concluded just from visual observation and asked me to try a couple of changes right away. This improved my leg “wheel” openness immediately and I was commended on my ability to learn :). We had decided to postpone the data analysis until both Carsten and I had completed the data recording, so next it was Carsten turn to run. His data recording went similarly to mine, and we ran at the same paces, even though he’s a bit faster than me.
After the data recording segments, we showered and then stood with Peter and Lhina by the large monitors to look at the results.  Peter took me through my results in English and Carsten’s in Swedish. The results are provided as online reports (in Swedish, Link to Salming RunLAB Results: Carsten and Jay). The data is identical to what we went over in the lab, but is presented in a nicer format. In the online version, the focus is on the summary of the suggested improvements with details following, whereas in person, we went through the details first and then concluded with improvements.  The areas captured and analyzed are categorized as follows:
A.                         Arms & Hands
B.                         Legs & Feet
C.                        Hips
D.                        Overall Body
By looking at each categories’ graphs, you can see the differences in result by the different paces as well as a comparison to Swedish elite athletes that have been through the same analysis. The data itself is interesting, particularly if you are a data geek, but the real value came through the experience of Peter as a coach going through each result and explaining what it meant and how changes in form affect each area.  Peter took his time and was patient and knowledgeable when handling our (many) questions and gave us a thorough insight into what conclusions could be drawn from this kind of data capture driven analysis. To back up some findings from the recorded data, we where instructed to perform some additional exercises while being closely scrutinized by Peter and Lhina.
In my case, the biggest change to be made was in the area of arm swing and hip angle.  Peter suggested that I make sure to bring my elbows back to my body on the upswing of my arms and then allowing my forearms to swing more freely forward.  At the same time, I was angling my pelvis too far forward and needed to push my hips forward a bit in order to vertically align my body and allow a larger foot wheel and freer arm swing.  These suggested changes were demonstrated to me and then I was coached through them on the treadmill so I understood and could create some movement memory.
Carsten had similar shortcomings with his arm swing and the pelvis rotation, but interestingly, both the causes for these shortcomings and the suggested changes were different from those I got. This stresses that the actual data recording is only one part of the RunLAB experience, the real value comes from the experts who analyze the data for you.
The briefing on form improvement concluded the actual RunLAB experience. A couple of days after the session Carsten and I got the weblinks to our reports, which, at least in Carsten’s case, also included some exercises which should help him improve his pelvis rotation.
It is possible to book a follow-up RunLAB session in order to see whether the suggested changes have improved the running form or not. Carsten and I will hopefully be able to do this second analysis in the near future.
In summary, this has been a very valuable experience. Just by looking at the setup of the treadmill in the middle of Salming’s flagship one might conclude that this is just another fancy way of fitting running shoes. One couldn’t be more wrong. Just to fit shoes this setup is complete overkill (and accordingly also not used by Salming for this purpose). Instead it is a very advanced biomechanical analysis which can tell you more than you possibly want to know about your running form (“A heelstriker, I? Never!”). The real value, however, is only partly in the recorded data. The input from the experts is what makes this experience worth its money. Alas, this also brings us to the one negative point: as you might imagine the analysis is quite expensive, roughly $220 for one session, or $330 for two. However, considering that this is a rare chance to truly improve your running form it might be well worth the money. Most runner’s are pretty bad at realizing the importance of proper form, yet in the long run it is probably more important than another training cycle full of interval workouts. As such the cost of two or three pair of running shoes seems be reasonable. It is definitely more worth the money than similarly priced V02max tests.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Salming Trail T1 Review

 Salming Trail T1 Review

Earlier this year Salming Running released their first Trail shoe, also called T1. After Boston Marathon I have spent more time on the rocky trails of northern NJ, mostly parts of the Appalachian Trail that runs a few miles from my backyard. I have also raced in the Salming Trail. Men's version comes in a Swedish blue/yellow  and the womens in purple/yellow. I'm a Salming Ambassador and received the shoes as part of my ambassadorship. 

Salming carry over the EXO Skeleton technology to most of their shoes. So also the T1. Combined with nylon mesh, the foot is really locked down. I have not experienced any kind of side movement. The shoe is also wrapped in something that Salming calls the "RocShield". This also helps to keep the foot in place and serve as protection for you feet. With the rocky parts of NJ, I'm pleased to see this protection and it has protected my feet well against sharp rocks. If you have run the NJ part of Appalachian Trail, you know your feet are going to get beat up. The main material is a breathable nylon. I thought this would be a problem, in humid hot weather but so far it has been breathing enough for my feet and keeping debris out.
Pros: Foot is really secured and locked down. Upper protect your feet against debris and sharp rocks really well.
Cons:With the EXO Skeleton and the RocShield their is not much stretch in the upper. If you run a longer race and your feet starts swell, your feet don't have much room to expand.

T1 carries over the same midsole compound as the rest of Salming shoe line up, "RunLite", also the same drop 5mm. At first I thought the ride felt very stiff but the midsole has "loosen up" and offers a great smooth ride over the trails. T1 does not offer a rock plate for protection. As mentioned above the trails of nothern NJ is very rocky. So far my feet has been protected enough from the thickness and firmness of "RunLite". Their is nothing else going in the midsole, no medial post or transition zone. With no rockplate and a smooth feel, T1 would also be able to handle roads well, or serve as your "winter shoe".
Pros: "Runlite" gives a great feel for the trails and offer enough protection for my feet without getting beaten up. Very versatile can handle roads as well as very technical trails.
Cons: Some trail runners will look for the rockplate. It could be a great addition to the shoe, but will most likley take away the great feel the shoe has over the trails.

A light weight rubber serve as the material for the lugs. The rubber offers a great grip and the lugs a spread out in way so mud or debris does not stick to your outsole. The grip has been great over the rocky trails here in NJ and over really steep inclines. The sides lugs of the outsole is a bit "sharp" at timews, the lugs can feel a bit to aggressive on rocky and very technical trails.
Pros: Great grip and drainage. No worries over wet rocks.
Cons: Outer lugs can feel a bit aggressive on technical trails, at times they bite the trails and rocks to good.

I have really enjoyed the Salming Trail T1. It gives you the same feeling as the rest of Salming shoe line up. The feel is a responsive and firm ride and low to the ground feel. I have been throwing really tough trail runs on these shoes, rocky and technical trails.  For my feet the Salming Trail has been protective enough due to the "Runlite" midsole, sure you can feel the trail and that something I enjoy. I dont want my feet to be overprotected and the shoe to be built as a tank. Salming Trail is a great shoe that can handle really tough trails and a good enough for some road mileage.

Other Reviews:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Salming North America

 Salming US are making some changes, Salming Squash and Floorball will now joinf Salming Running here in US and North America. Maybe I should pick up my old career as a floorball player and certified coach. Floorball is something I  have always enjoyed. Its a really fast and technical game. Hopefully Salming will help the sport to grow here in US!

Press Release

Salming USA Inc will take over the operations of Clutch Sports Co. & FloorballPro in order to strengthen their position and be better equipped for future challenges. Salming US Inc, which so far focused on Salming Running venture in the US are now joined with the brand of indoor activities to date has been driven distributor based in both Canada and the United States of Clutch Sports Co. & FloorballPro's founder Juha Mikkola.

 "We are proud to bring together Salming increasingly growing Running collection with the brand's successful indoor-products under one roof," says Tor Swensson, CEO of Salming United States, and continues "The brand Salming growing stronger in North America in all its business areas and this merger will enable us to meet a growing demand for running, squash and hockey, "concludes Tor.
"We have worked hard to get Salming brand to grow in the indoor-categories since 2004," says Juha Mikkola "We have had great success and Salming is today the world leader in hockey and is one of the fastest growing brands in the squash market. I look forward against the onward journey, and to be working with Salming experienced global team is incredibly inspiring, "concludes Juha.
Tomas Solin, CEO Salming Sports, commented restructuring this;
"The strengthening and restructuring of our North American operations is in line with what we are doing on both the Swedish and German markets, which creates clarity and focus at every level"

Monday, April 27, 2015

Boston Marathon 2015 Gear Overview

Boston  Marathon is done and in the books. I'm extremely happy with my time of 2:57:53, a new personal best. I did not reach the goal of 2:55 but with the weather in mind I take that! Heavy rain for 20 miles (rain started at apx mile 6) puts your shoes and socks to a test for sure. Here is a list and "mini reviews" of what I used:

Salming Speed V.2  2015 edition of Speed is pretty much the same shoe as last years. Toe box has been redesigned and outsole rubber has been improved. During Boston Marathon my feet were secured and locked down. I did not experience any chafing. Feet were soak wet pretty much the whole race but still I was blister free. Speed offered me the protection I need when form might not be the best the last 6 miles. I got the "pop" feeling from the shoes all the way to Boylston Street. Normal I see a lot of wear on my shoes after a marathon, this was not the case this time. Salming has done a great job with the new rubber compound. Here is my original review of Salming Speed:

Salming shorts and singlet. Shorts has more traditional cut and design. I was afraid they would be to long, but they were actually perfect. Lightweight and breathable.
Singlet has a traditional design. Offers  breathable material and cool design. Did not have any problems with chafing.

For socks I used Feetures! Elite socks. Again a really important part when you run in horrible rainy conditions and your feet are soak wet. Feetures! Elite offer a tight compression feel and they keep your feet blister free. I prefer the Ultra Light version for races, they give me a fast feel and I prefer to have a road feel when I run. Feetures! Ultra Light gives me that feeling.

I decided late to use compression sleeves. Most to keep my calves warm from the rain. Recofit offers a great compression and are very light weight, you barley know that they are there and they worked great with the rain. Did not get heavy.

Energy drink:
Skratchlabs works great for me and my sensitive stomach. Extra plus is that they are a "real food" company! Thanks to support from family I was able to get two bottles along the course. Mile 6 and 14. As Ive been using Skratchlabs for all my training its a great option to get your own drinks along the course. SkratchLabs offer great natural taste and energy!

Another "Real food company" Huma Gel. Great taste and works great with my stomach. This year I use a fuel plan tested out during Copenhagen Marathon. 2 gels before race, then start at 40min mark to take one gel every 20min. That is a lot of gel to take, but Ive been training with this strategy and Huma has been great. I used all different flavors but used Lemon with caffeine for my last two gels. Great natural tasting flavors. Huma gel is the only gel I can feel the difference with. And every time I use Huma Ive been breaking Sub3. I think I will continue using them.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Boston Marathon Weekend Recap

As usual it feels unreal when Boston Marathon finally is there. Starting in December with your training and fighting long runs in bitter cold temps and winds. The cold weather was a never ending story this year and it also became the signature of the 2015 edition of Boston Marathon. In other words I was prepared!

This year me and my family was traveling up to Boston, Saturday morning. I was going to help out at the Salming Running booth at the expo. Car ride went smooth beside a small detour in Boston as our friend Waze GPS app did not have clue about Boston exits! (app is now deleted).
I had no desire really to walk the expo this year, went straight to meet the Salming Running staff. The Salming booth was located in a narrow aisle across from Boston Olympics booth and not far from Samuel Adams, this means a lot of traffic  of visitors. For the first time and finally I got the opportunity to meet the Salming crew Tor, Anders and Tom. All very passionate about running and knowledgeable, I felt like I was "home", also got the opportunity speak Swedish with Anders. Anders and I are from the same region in Sweden. I always enjoy the expo part, connecting with runners and friends like Seth Hasty (finally got to show him Salming shoes), I was happy to be with a Swedish brand this time. 

Sunday, is about rest and get prepared. We did some easy walking downtown and had lunch. We always do the traditional family dinner at the Cosgrove's in Framingham. Dinner was spot on for my taste. Pasta, sweet potatoes, some beets and grilled tofu. Again I had the same planning as two years ago, I was going to stay closer to the start and stay with Ted and Maria. Their hospitality is gold worth and I get an extra hour of sleep as the drive is only 10 minutes to the start.

Race morning. Alarm was set to 6:15am. First a quick shower, followed by a oatmeal and bagel breakfast. Close to 7am Ted and Maria drove me to Hopkinton. I have seen "Athletes Village" and the mess and long lines to the Porta Johns, so I decided to stay close to the start and have pretty much direct access to 200 porta johns. As I get nervous close to start I need that option. I was lucky to get a spot under a roof, as it started to rain light and the winds had started to pick up. I was chatting to a nice guy from Toronto/Ontario. Boston is always great in that way, making new friends and connections. Around 9:20am I started to walk up to the start, rain had stopped at this point. All preparations were done, I had my Salming Speeds and Singlet on and I had my beet shot. Race mood was on!

Forecast for the race had predicted light rain and east winds up to 20mph!

Race. The last 30 min before start always goes quick. You listen to the presentations of the Elite fields and the national anthem. I kept a poncho on until last second, to stay warm. 10 o'clock the start gun went of. It took approximately 2:40 for me to get to the start line and to get the my official start time.
 With Coach Caleb Masland we have worked on a 6:45 pace and also a plan for the race:
  1. For the long downhill section of the course (all the way to mile 16-ish), don't let yourself run faster than target goal pace. The "bank time" strategy is a TRAP in Boston. Instead, let the downhills make the effort less strenuous, and instead bank some energy for the last 10 miles.
  2. Through the Newton Hills, the focus should be on staying efficient and not emptying the tank. Expect to give back 10-ish seconds per mile through this section, which will only put you 1 minute "behind" when you get to the top of Heartbreak Hill.
  3. Once you hit 21, put the hammer down. If you've been smart to this point, you will have the legs to make up the minute you lost on the hills and then some. Focus on passing as many people as possible to stay motivated, and enjoy the crowds!
 First mile is always packed it's hard to find the rhythm. I always try to stay calm here and not spend my energy zig zagging thru the crowed. My first mile was right under 7min. After the first mile the field started to split up and I started find my rhythm. At this point the winds and weather did not bother me. Around mile 5, I meet a familiar face, Kenth from Sweden. Kenth started ahead of me and it was inspirational to catch up with him. At mile 6, I meet family for the first time and got a bottle with Skratchlabs. I also started to take my gels at the 40min mark, after the 40 min mark, I took a gel every 20 min.

I felt comfortable between mile 2-8. Around mile 8 the rain started again, this time hard. You got soak wet within seconds and your body got cold. I tried to move on but I  had to put in more effort then I wanted to at this point. I also started to feel that I needed to take a quick pit stop. Right before the Screaming tunnel I stopped quick, lost about 20 seconds, I was not worried about this at this point. Between 8-15 it was tough, but that is the nature of a marathon, you go thru different stages. I did put trust in my training and I was sure I could work myself out of it. Mile 13 I got my next bottle of Skratchlabs, I took a few sips with a couple of salt tabs and moved on toward the Newton Hills. When I started the first Newton climb, I realized that I started to pass a lot of runners, everything started to feel easy a proof that I had done my pacing right. I was able to keep almost my 6:45 pace during the Newton Hill segment of Boston Marathon. Before I knew it I was on top of the Heartbreak Hill with only 5 miles to go. I checked my watch and could tell that I had a good chance to go under 3 hours. I decided to give a good push at this point. Targeting mile by mile and to chase down runners. It worked really well and I kept my energy. At miles 23 I meet Kenth again, I lost him after my pit stop earlier in the race. Also my wife Erin and family would be at mile 24.

 I was very happy to see them and I knew at this point that I would go under 3 hours. Although I was worried about my history with late marathon stage cramps. I decided to back off a little the last 2 miles to play it safe. Not pushing another cramp. Coming in to Boylston Street is always amazing, although Boylston is longer then you think. The crowed is just great. I just sucked everything in!

With a perfect execution of my plan my time was 2:57:53. Its easy to think what my time would have been on a perfect day but I had trained in worst conditions then wind and rain and I was prepared!


Monday, April 13, 2015

One Week and Beet Juice

So here we are, one week away from Boston Marathon. Of course I can tell that the race is coming closer. I feel it more then ever. My easy runs those not feel comfortable and it feels like every muscle in my body is sore. This feeling is totally normal and I'm sure with another easy week I will be ready for the race. My longest run last week was 12 miles with 5 miles of marathon pace. I had to fight more then I had hoped for on this run, were only able to hit 6:53 pace on the inclines. My another workout this week was marathon pace as well, same kind of feeling, feel sluggish and have to put in more effort to keep pace then I had hoped for. I think the visit from my Swedish friends two weeks ago, with doing my runs in the early AM still is in my system. My body did not adopt the 5AM wake up call very well and I had to pay for it. This week I'm only working one day, I have a massage scheduled. So Im confident that I will be in Boston in  a very good shape. Still have not decided on colors but I think Im leaning more toward Yellow, what do you think?
On one of my easy runs I took our Jack Russel on a trail run, to test out Salming Trail for the first time. Great first run on the trails now when the spring finally hits us. Trails is also easier on your legs, so it was a great recovery run, just easy pace.
Salming Trail has great traction, low profile which gives you the feel of the trails without getting your feet beat up. Longer review to follow after Boston Marathon.

Let the Beet Juice Boost begin!

Monday, April 6, 2015

2 weeks and Salming USA

Last week was a really busy week for me. On Wednesday my best friend from Sweden came to visit us. Really great to catch up and show them out area, incl Woodstock. On top of that Easter was this weekend with a family dinner. So I cramped in my 2 work outs that Coach Caleb had on the schedule on Monday and Wednesday morning. With the peak training, Im cutting down the mileage and are doing some turn over work outs and marathon pace mileage. The rest of the week I tried to get my easy runs in, before everyone woke up. I was up at 5AM, and wow that was tiring for me. I struggled to hit paces under 8. I think it was a combination of the darkness and being tired. It felt like the effort was more like 7-ish but looking at my watch, it was more 8+. It was a bit confusing and at times frustrating.
For turnover this week, I did a 15X30 sec strides, with 30sec recovery.
Marathon Pace was a long run, 15 miles with 5 miles marathon pace.

Last week my race gear came in. Shoes and clothing. Looks good. it gives me 2 full weeks to break in my shoes and try out the gear!

For Boston I will use Salming Speed!

Not sure about the color of singlet, both colors I got looks really great!: