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Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

Ask the Practitioner:  Barefoot Running - Why (or Why Not), What, How?

For this edition of Ask the Practitioner, we connected with Adam Daoud, an experienced runner and medical student, who while at Harvard worked extensively on research in the Skeletal Biology Lab.  His website states, "My current research interest lies in investigating the ways in which the human body is suited particularly well for endurance running and determining why Homo sapiens possess such incredible endurance running capabilities."  As a co-author of the studies cited below as well as work published in the journal Nature, Adam has narrowly focused in on the plusses, minuses, and implications of a growing trend among running enthusiasts, barefoot and / or minimally shod running.  Have you ever wondered if barefoot running would be good for you?  Read on for Adam's perspective......

rc: What are the potential benefits of barefoot running or running in minimalist shoes?


AD: I think that the biggest potential benefit of the barefoot style of running is reduced injury. The barefoot style of running that habitually barefoot and minimalist runners tend to use is a forefoot strike, landing on the outside ball of the foot before easing the heel down under the control of the calf muscles. This style of running minimizes the forces experienced at impact, which may help to avoid injury. Notice that this focuses less on what is under a runners’ feet and instead considers how footwear affects how runners use their feet and how this changes their style of running. My recent work looking at foot strike and injuries in collegiate runners found a nearly two-fold reduction in running injuries among forefoot strikers, none of whom were barefoot runners (Daoud AI et al. Foot Strike and Injury Rates in Endurance Runners: a retrospective studyMSSE, 2012.). This was a study about running form, more work especially prospective work needs to be done to look at the interplay between footwear, running form and injury. A singular focus on what runners strap to their feet can easily lead a runner into danger.

Another potential benefit would be financial savings. Since forefoot strike runners do not use the cushioning of a shoe to reduce the impact, shoes can be worn for many more miles before being replaced. As a forefoot strike runner, I usually wait until the upper is pulling off the lower before tossing shoes.

Studies on running efficiency have gone both ways. Our lab recently found that running in minimal shoes is more efficient regardless of foot strike and that there was no difference between heel striking and forefoot striking in terms of running efficiency (Perl DP et al. Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running EconomyMSSE, 2012.). While Rodger Kram’s lab has found that barefoot running is less efficient than running in lightweight, cushioned shoes (Franz JR et al. Metabolic Cost of Running Barefoot versus Shod: Is Lighter Better? MSSE, 2012.). But in general, a less injured runner is a better-trained, fitter runner so even if forefoot striking is not more efficient there may be performance gains by avoiding time off due to injury.

rc: What are the risks?

AD: While the major benefit of the forefoot strike running is injury reduction, the greatest risk is increased chance of injury during a runner’s transition from their current running form to forefoot strike running and possibly doing so in a more minimal shoe. Forefoot strike running puts very different stresses on the lower limb compared to heel striking. The muscles of the calf and foot have to do more work each time the foot strikes the ground while the bones of the foot incur impact and bending forces that are different than those experienced in heel striking. In addition, running barefoot or in a more minimal shoe will require increased muscle force to stiffen the arch of the foot and the bones of the foot may be subjected to less evenly distributed forces. Recent case reports have described instances of metatarsal injury in runners transitioning to barefoot running. Though if case reports were written up for all of the injuries sustained by “normal” runners, sports medicine journals wouldn’t have room for anything else.

Other risks are quite obvious such as injury to the sole of the foot due to surface conditions if a runner chooses to run completely barefoot. Though these risks can be greatly reduced by using your eyes and choosing smooth surfaces that are free of jagged debris. A hard surface such as a road or sidewalk can be a good surface.


rc: What are some sensible ways to experiment with barefoot / minimalist running to explore whether it is appropriate for you?

AD: The first thing to do is to decide whether or not your current form is working for you. If in your years, possibly decades of running you’ve found shoes that fit your running form and you’re not plagued by injuries then why change? But if you’ve struggled with injury as a heel strike runner then you might want to consider trying out forefoot striking. Unless they ask, my running friends don’t hear a word from me about running form until they get injured. This not only gives me a chance to figure out how much they’ve been injured in the past, but also transitioning to forefoot strike running can line up perfectly with returning from injury since you’re already running at a reduced volume and intensity. Transitioning should be done slowly and in accordance with what your body is telling you, just as you would any other new training technique such as weightlifting or plyometric exercises.

Concerning form, jump straight up in the air. Where on your foot did you just land? You should do the same when you run. Try out running completely barefoot on a track or smooth paved surface to try to get a feel for what it should feel like. Your bare feet will encourage you to run correctly as it will hurt to do otherwise. Don’t run barefoot on overly soft ground to learn good technique since the cushioning of the ground will allow you to run without good form. You can find more information including videos of forefoot strike running in various footwear on my past lab’s website.

The biggest mistake a runner could make would be to buy the newest, coolest pair of minimalist shoes and then go out and continue running in the same way they always have – heel striking – in their new minimal shoes. The heel cushioning of a standard running shoe will no longer attenuate the large impact forces of heel striking. Another mistake would be to consider the barefoot style as a panacea and to suddenly switch 100% of your running to forefoot striking. Your muscles need time to grow stronger and to learn the new firing pattern of a new gait pattern. And your bones need time to strengthen and remodel to adequately deal with the new loading patterns of forefoot strike running.

ACS_croppedParticipating in a race for a personal cause or organized charitable organization has become an extremely popular way to experience race day.  Some of the largest marathons can boast of millions of dollars raised per year for great causes in this manner. Charities in almost every segment of the non-profit world have found their way into the action, offering race numbers for a variety of challenging endurance events.

If you are an experienced racer looking to try your next goal race with this additional motivation, or if you are seeking your first long endurance effort and wonder if the charitable piece would help you get to the finish line, here are a few things to consider when making the commitment.

imgresAsk the Practitioner:  Blisters!

For this installment of Ask the Practitioner, we connected with Michelle Toy, Assistant Athletic Trainer at Santa Clara University.  Michelle has worked with the cross country teams at Santa Clara, as well as high school athletes as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Woodside Priory school.  This summer, Michelle will again serve as a trainer for the Bay Area Running Camp.  In short - she's seen some blisters!

RC: Why do runners typically get blisters?

MT: The most common reasons that runners get blisters are: their shoes don't fit right, they aren't wearing thick enough socks, they are running with improper mechanics, they are running on uneven surfaces, or they are running in new shoes that haven't been broken in long enough.

RC: What can you do if you develop a blister, but still need to get out there and run?

MT: If you have a blister, you can help protect it by wearing a band-aid over it or wearing a gel pad called second skin or skin lube.

RC:  What are some good ways to prevent blisters before they occur?

MT:  Good ways to help prevent blisters are to wear shoes that fit properly, wear thicker socks, run on even ground, break new shoes in over the period of a week, or wear skin lube over hot spots.

Jerry_Finish_5x7_smJerry Riemer is a Wyoming born, Houston area resident, who spends his days as a quality control manufacturing supervisor for Halliburton.  A volunteer paramedic who has taken mission trips to Honduras, Reimer is also celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary this week.  In his own words, “Five years ago,  ‘running behind,’ ‘jumping to conclusions,’ and ‘passing the buck’ were my only exercise.  Now, I’ve developed ‘Adult Onset Athleticism.’  I’ve been to doctors and there is no treatment….”

With two marathons in the books already for 2012, Reimer looks forward to turning 60 and continuing to forge ahead with training and racing.

FNF: How did you start running?

JR: Growing up as a kid, I was not only chosen last, but the team captains fought over who had to take me on their team.  I was in the army, and did a mile at 6:30 something in combat boots, but as an adult, I did a variety of different jobs. Finally, I saw my doctor in my mid-50s.  He said I needed to lose weight and here is your medicine [exercise].  I discovered that all these years I had this endurance athlete hiding inside of me!  I walked a 5k in 45 min, was dragged around a 5k in 33 minutes by a friend in 2007, and then worked up to doing three half marathons last year.

imgresBen Bruce comes into 2012 with the momentum of a career best mark of 8:19 in the 3000m steeplechase, which earned him a spot on Team USA for the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.  With top five finishes in the USATF Indoor 3000m and road 15K championships already in 2012, Bruce is again demonstrating the kind of range that has allowed him to represent the US internationally in a variety of disciplines and distances.

Now training with the adidas sponsored McMillan Elite / Team USA Arizona in Flagstaff, AZ, this Cal Poly San Luis Obispo grad is preparing for the US Olympic Team Trials this June.  Bruce’s journey to London can be tracked by following him on Twitter at @bbjamin.

FNF: Although probably best known as a steeplechaser, you have represented the US internationally in a wide variety of events - from the track to cross country, to the roads.  Last month, you finished fourth in the US 15K Championships in Jacksonville.  What is your favorite event among all these and why?

BB: I like them all. I really enjoy running a variety of different distances and surfaces. It adds variety and keeps things fresh. When I race the same distance over and over again, I sometimes feel like I am simply going through the motions. So to pick a favorite would be tough for me. I guess the best part is going to new cities and countries and the people I meet along the way. A race can be run on any road, track, or grass field in the world. The people involved in the race are what set it apart.


Adam Kemist, C.Ped and his wife Michelline own the On Your Mark running and walking store in Los Altos, California.  A long time health and wellness professional, Adam is a Board-certified Pedorthist with biomechanics expertise and also has several years of experience as an FNF member.  This month in Ask the Practitioner, Adam answers a few questions about Kinesio tape, which has become an increasingly popular tool among professional and recreational athletes.

FNF: What is the Kinesio Taping Method and how did it come about?

AK: In the mid-1970s, Dr. Kenzo Kase was a well-known Japanese practitioner licensed in chiropractic medicine and acupuncture.  He could not find a tape to give him the results that he desired for himself and his patients. So he developed Kinesio Tape.

The Kinesio Taping Method is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while allowing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion. It is used to successfully treat a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and medical conditions. Both Kinesio® Tex Tape and the training protocol have shown results that would have been unheard of using older methods and materials.


In March, we examine another common concern for many runners.  Dr. Adam Tenforde returns to discuss a problem that can trip up runners like himself (28:23 for 10,000m), as well as recreational runners alike.

FNF:  What is Achilles tendonitis?

AT: Achilles tendonitis describes a condition involving the tendon that connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the calcaneous (heel bone).  The condition can either result from an acute stress (such as increase in training) or develop over time from chronic stressors, such as biomechanical factors or poor footwear.


Lisa  Dabao is a recent 4:45 Surf City USA Marathon finisher who lives in Newport Beach, commuting an hour to Los Angeles every work day.  She’s a television commercial producer  (including some we’ve all seen) and a very busy one at that.  One could rightfully say that working is her life.   She works 6-7 days per week, 14 hours per day, which with the two hours commuting makes finding time to train extremely difficult.   Lisa slips in runs when she can and often finds herself running in the dark, getting her time away from what she describes as “the insanity of production.”   Lisa spent a precious few minutes with us, answering questions from FNF despite a 4:30am wake-up call the next morning as she worked on a shoot in Milwaukee.

FNF: How did you start running?

LD: I have been running since I was in high school.  Not with track or cross country, just on my own.  I've been on team sports ever since I was a kid and running has always been a part of my personal training. After school and organized sports ended for me, I kept running as a supplement to my workouts.

FNF: Who is your running role model?

LD: My sister Jamie, who is a year and a half younger, always inspired me.  She has run many marathons and after watching her complete them and listening to her talk about them for years, I finally committed to running my first in 2009 - the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  It was a VERY rough run for me.  Jamie and I set out to run that marathon together.  I made the horrible mistake of running in my relatively "newer' shoes and was hurting at mile 8.  I remember thinking, “what have i done to myself?'” I finished that in 5:12 and was horrified.  Since that marathon, I have always known I would do another.  I was properly trained to run faster, I just BLEW it in wearing the wrong shoes.   Anyway, my sister Jamie got me started with this long running "madness" (as I call it).

FNF: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

LD:  As for running, I coaxed my wonderful boyfriend, Mike, into running with me.  He had never run prior to dating me.  I talked him into training for the 2010 Santa Barbara Half Marathon with me.  He completed his first 1/2 marathon in less than 2 hours.  That was so rewarding to me.  In racing, probably the last 2 miles of my most recent full marathon -The Surf City Marathon.  I started to cramp and my feet were aching.   All of a sudden, ALL of my aches and pains just disappeared and I was able to really push it to the finish.  I couldn't believe it when it was happening but just felt joy.  Actually, that entire marathon was memorable and enjoyable.  I believe FNF had a lot to do with that marathon being such a positive experience.  I felt pretty good the entire race.  I went out feeling strong and felt strong through most of the race.  There were many times when I looked down at my Garmin and had to scale back.  I wanted to respect the course and the distance.   Looking back, I know I could have finished in less time however, I'm VERY pleased with my results considering a week prior to the race, I didn't even think I could finish.

FNF: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

LD: I have thoroughly enjoyed the forum section of FNF.  I utilized the forums A LOT throughout my training for tips and suggestions from the coaches and other runners.  - While I was training, I felt as if I had my own personal trainer, Kate O'Neill Tenforde.  She would respond immediately with such care and insight.  I attribute much of my success in the Surf City Marathon to Kate's guidance and recalculating my schedule when I got sick for 2 weeks during my training.  I got a pretty bad flu over the holidays, but my longest runs (19, 20, 22 miles) were scheduled over that period.  I missed those long runs and tried to power through the shorter runs (at times only making myself feel worse).  I thought I wouldn't be able to finish the marathon.  With Kate's careful suggestions, I not only finished the marathon but came within minutes of my original goal time.

FNF: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

LD: I have learned that I MUST eat in order to run any distances.  I've always been a bad eater, but through my marathon training, I have learned that I simply cannot go without my oatmeal, raisins and banana before a long run. No way!

FNF: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

LD: On of my favorite training runs is The Newport Beach Back Bay Trail - it is at least 10 miles around the back bay, and you can add mileage from there if you need to.  It is a scenic run around a nature preserve and bird sanctuary.  There are beautiful sights, sounds and even parts where you get peeks at the glistening ocean.

FNF: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

LD: Well, I have the Orange County 1/2 Marathon coming up.  I wish to finish that in under 2 hours.  Halves have always been fun for me, but now that I have a time goal in mind, I think the fun will change to TOUGH.  Other than the OC 1/2 – when and IF I decide to do another full marathon - I will finish under 4:30.

Bauhs_croppedScott Bauhs started 2012 off with a bang, finishing the Aramco Houston Half Marathon in 3rd place with a 1:01:30 clocking, putting him the ballpark of the top 10 US men’s marks all time.  Growing up in Danville, California, Bauhs was recruited by Chico State in Northern California.  He graduated in 2009 with eight All-American honors, a sub 4:00 mile, and qualification for the 2008 Olympic Trials under his belt at 10,000m.

Since turning pro, Bauhs has trained with the Mammoth Track Club, slowing working towards the kind of breakthrough he enjoyed last summer, when he finished third at the USATF Outdoor Championships 10,000m.  His finish qualified him for the 2011 IAAF World Championships team in Daegu, Korea, at which he earned 14th place.

Bauhs took a few minutes to visit with Focus-N-Fly as he prepares in Mammoth for the NYC Half Marathon in March.

FNF:  Your progression at Chico somewhat mirrored the emergence of that school as a Division II player.  How was your experience there?

SB: Chico let me develop at my own pace.  Gary [Towne, the coach] does a very simple program that just builds year to year.  I just ran 10-20 miles per week more than the year before.  When I first got there, I felt like there were a few kids [who chose other schools] I was comparable to who ran 14:00 in the 5K, while l ran 14:50.  The next year, I broke 30:00 [in the 10K] and slowly got closer to them.  A lot of Division I schools try to maximize their scholarships and you can’t improve at a more slow, but normal rate while keeping an eye on the future.  I was able to focus on things that I eventually achieved down the road, like qualifying for Olympic Trials and winning a national title in Division II.

FNF: Do you still keep in touch with your college coach and your Chico teammates?

SB: I talk to Gary pretty regularly, and I’ve got some friends I keep in touch with.  I try to go back and meet the new recruits when I can.

FNF: How did the decision to train with the Mammoth Track Club come about?

SB:  I went to Mammoth for a high school training camp with my team every year, so I was familiar with it.  I wanted to stay in California, and I thought it was kind of an easy decision.  I saw the marathon in the future, with Deena [Kastor] and Ryan [Hall] training there.  I contacted Terrence [Mahon, Mammoth TC coach] and met him at the Trials.  It all worked out pretty easily.

FNF:  So, now, you’ve had some time to explore the longer distances.  We have a bunch of Houston trainees working with us at FNF.  How did Houston go from your perspective?

SB: Things went well.  Ever since I tried the half marathon in college, I have adapted well to that distance.  I have been inching more toward the marathon, but every time I do these long tempos or do the really long runs, I can’t quite handle them yet, the same way Meb, Deena, and Ryan would. But, I am getting closer.  I knew I had a lot of untapped potential, and being able to train with Pat Smythe, Meb a bit, and all the marathoners worked out well.  I was pretty burned out after Daegu, so I could train with those guys, just with a little edge taken off. I tapered with them too, so I was really well rested.

At the race, the pacing went well.  There was a guy from Minnesota who was aggressive early and then the Ethiopian guy started coming back to us, so I was never by myself.  The weather was good, I had people to run with, and it all panned out really well.  Hopefully I can improve on that, as I didn’t have any races leading in.

I’m doing the NYC Half Marathon.  I just did a small 10K [Coronado 10K in San Diego], and I’m hoping to be able to attack the New York Half and be able to compete.

FNF:  Tell us about qualifying for the World Championships 10,000 meter team as a bit of an underdog.

SB:  I wasn’t doubting myself, but I actually didn’t even bring my passport for team processing.  I’ve been running better and better workouts, but not necessarily better races.  I’ve been super-confident and for some reason I just haven’t had it on the day.  Either I’ve kind of been tired or not quite there yet - not able to handle the training yet.  So, I just kind of went into the race, telling myself to compete with whoever was in there.

The race went perfectly for how my training was going.  My training was going well, but my speedwork was really clicking, and the race ended up being really slow until about a kilometer to go.  I wasn’t afraid of trying to beat anyone specifically, but I was kind of gunning for top three.  So, obviously I was happy with it.  Actually, I was in a little bit of shock, realizing that goal.  I knew I was capable of running better than I had run and it was great to have it come together.

FNF: How is your approach different this year with the worlds team qualification under your belt?

SB:  It hasn’t been much different, although it is kind of a whole new ballgame.  There will be some guys in there that weren’t there last year, and who knows how the college guys will be or if a younger pro will be putting things together.  I just want to race everyone I can to the finish line.

FNF:  Obviously the Olympic Trials are the goal this year, but what do you have in mind over the next couple of years?

SB: I’m definitely going to do the marathon, perhaps this fall or maybe a bit later.  I’m excited about the marathon, but will definitely come back to the track and cross country.  The move to the marathon, will leave my options really open.  Mostly, I kind of want to let my running take me to exciting places.  Money is an issue, but I don’t want it to be more of an issue than it needs to be.  I want to do some of those fun road races that I have skipped every year because I am focused on the track.  I do want to make sure I leave the track with some PRs I am happy with, but more than anything, I just want to take advantage of the opportunities I have, and not get stuck doing the same races every year.  I’d like to have some stories to share.

BW_trials_croppedBrooke Wells was 22 years old and the youngest athlete in the field when she ran 2:42 to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Marathon Trials.  Four years down the road, Wells toed the line at the 2012 trials with a 2:37 personal best in the bag from 2010, and the confidence to attack the race in hopes of a personal best.

A high school triathlete from the central coast of California, Wells ran track and cross country at UC Berkeley before graduating in 2006.   When she began with Focus-N-Fly, her personal best in the 10,000 meters was about 5:55 pace.  With her 19th place finish in 2:36, she can now run a marathon that speed!

This month, Brooke chatted with us as she reflects and recovers from her second Olympic Marathon Trials experience.

Coach: This was your second Olympic Trials.  How did this race compare with your first experience?

BW: This time I think I had more of a performance goal.  I definitely felt like I have learned how to execute a personal goal within a race that was so overwhelming; last time, I was just told how honored I should be to be there.  This time I felt like I was entering a personal race in a really competitive environment.  There was all of this spectacle, but I felt I could just stay within myself and not get overwhelmed.

When I had Teresa and Catha in my group [two local athletes with which she had done some training this fall],  I just closed my eyes and pretended we were at Sawyer Camp [local trail].

Coach: How did your race compare to your anticipated race coming in?

BW: I had talked a lot with two other women beforehand, and we had set the goal of running through the half at 1:17:55, 5:55 pace. I had envisioned it being really relaxed… the first two miles were slow, but that happened in 2008, so I was prepared for them to drop to 5:30s soon.

We ran in that big group until about mile 13, and then I had to decide whether to stay or to go.  I had to do what Tom and I talked about, which was move at that point.  I thought I was going to be with people for longer, but it didn’t work out that way, I cannot reiterate enough how important it is when you have the chance to run with a group.

Coach: Last year, it took you a while to get up to speed due to some injury problems.  How is your body feeling after this race?

BW: I am a bit beat up from the fall I took [around mile 8, while approaching the fluid tables].  I took 8 days completely off and went on vacation, but my hip got a huge hematoma, and I actually just got it drained.  I’m giving everything time to settle down this time.  Last time I tried to train through and it didn’t work out well.

Coach:  What were some of the key moments in your training and how did Coach Tom help prepare you specifically for this race?

BW: Well, we started at the San Jose Rock “n” Roll Half, where I had a big PR.   We had a Michigan workout  [a workout alternating on track and off track continuous intervals] which is usually one where I can turn to see where I am.  We extended the normal workout, and I crushed it.

Monday, he’ll have me double [two runs] , so I would go into a workout on Tuesday, and not feel totally fresh.  I learned to push while tired, which is something that I respond well to.  Wednesday, I would never run over 6 mi.    My tempo pace for many of our workouts on Thursdays was 5:42, and I never would hit it, because I would run at 6am in the morning.    I think that is where I have come a long way – I am not as concerned about the little minutia, stressing over every second.


Coach: What is on the horizon for this year and beyond?

BW: Fun things, but not necessarily track this spring.  Tom and I have talked about 2:30 being a goal for 2016.  I want to run Boston and New York and I really want to run a destination marathon like Berlin or London.

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