Friday, December 23, 2011

More on Footstrike and Some Other Random Stuff

Actually I lied with that title. I don't really have any comments on footstrike. Just some fun with the video camera after the jump. Video was taken after a run, so I was tired enough that this is my natural stride, not some stupid thing I decided to make up for first five minutes of running. All of this was done at my relaxed easy day pace. There were also a lot more run-throughs than the eight here, but I just grabbed one from each direction/view/shoe when I was editing. Camera is a Canon something or other (that really narrows it down...I feel like the people who go into a running store and say "My current shoes are Brooks."). Shoes are the Brooks Launch and Brooks Pure Connect.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gear Review: ZonePerfect All-Natural Nutrition Bars


Energy bars have come a long way. I think we all remember when "energy bar" meant a Powerbar, which, at the time, was a gluey tasteless sticky brick. That humble Powerbar has evolved into the mighty (and now much better tasting) Powerbar Performance, Powerbar's flagship energy bar and one of a huge selection of athletically-oriented food from that company. The Powerbar Performance is, in my opinion, the gold standard of energy bars, to which I compare all other energy bars. Of course, if I'm visiting my family for the holidays, the chances of my mom having a supply of Powerbars is pretty slim. Luckily for me and my pre-run snacks, she does keep a few boxes of ZonePerfect All-Natural Nutrition Bars handy. So, how do they stand up to my usual Powerbars?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quick Update

First of all, my apologies for the lack of updates lately. Finals week is finally over, and instead of celebrating by updating my blog, I celebrated by visiting my friend Molly for a few days since she's visiting her parents for the holiday (shocking, I know! How dare I?!). So, after a few days of running at beautiful Bucknell, where the cars don't try to hit me and where I'm occupied enough that I forget I'm supposed to update my blog, it's back to reality. Translation: I'll have a real post for you soon.

Second, I've been featured at Become.com's Best of the Web! So a big thanks to them for featuring my blog! Their website Be in the Game has some interesting commentary and tips on a variety of sports, so those of you who read this blog and compete in sports besides running may find some useful information on that site.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where your dreams become reality?


Just for a moment, let me redirect you to Leah @ Chasing Atalanta's blog.

I've been banned on the LetsRun message board for defending my friend Molly Pritz. I'm not even going to get into what I think of the LetsRun community's treatment of an up-and-coming young woman who is part of a bright future of American distance running because all it does is get me frustrated. In all honesty, it's probably just a handful of people, but it truly sickens me. Anyway, like I said, that's all I'm going to say about that topic, because negativity countered with negativity doesn't solve anything, and my energy is better spent supporting Molly in other ways.

But this latest thing is just pathetic. This isn't the anonymous cowards of the message board...this is actually on the news page.
"Just how easy is the standard for women's US marathon trials? Well, a 4:08 marathoner can do it."
Dude, WHAT?! I don't want to talk about whether the women's B-standard is "soft." That's not why I'm writing this post, and it's an entirely different can of worms anyway. Yes, I understand that the main purpose of the Trials is to choose the Olympic team, but let's face it, a 2:19 guy is a really long shot to crack the top three too. What I do want to talk about is LetsRun's treatment of a woman who no doubt worked her ass off to achieve her dreams. LetsRun's tagline is "Where your dreams become reality," yet now they're going to tear down the accomplishment of a woman who did just that?! As well as the accomplishments of many other women who worked hard in pursuit of that same goal (not to mention those who sacrificed so much, yet still fell heartbreakingly short)? Brojos, do the right thing, fix the news story, and apologize to Erin O'Mara. And to Erin, congratulations on your accomplishment. However hard you had to work to take well over an hour off your time...well, clearly you deserve this, and no one, including LetsRun, can take that away from you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gear Review: RecoFiT Calf Component Compression Sleeve (Updated Version)


A while ago, I reviewed the original RecoFiT Calf Component Compression Sleeve, a calf compression sleeve that has become my compression sleeve of choice. Recently, Susan Eastman Walton, the owner of RecoFiT who had stumbled across my previous review, emailed me to let me know that manufacture of RecoFiT has been moved to the USA, and that the sleeve has been updated with a hypoallergenic silicone gripper at the top. Updated compression sleeves? Yes, please!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gear Review: Mizuno Wave Rider 15

15th Anniversary Edition Mizuno Wave Rider 15

When I was still running college cross-country and track, it seemed like the two most popular shoes on the team were the Nike Pegasus and Mizuno Wave Rider. To this day, the Rider is, without a doubt, one of the most popular go-to trainers among many of my serious runner friends. Last year, when I was looking for a trainer, several of my friends told me to go Rider. Unfortunately, the Rider that was available at the time was the Rider 14, the red-headed stepchild of the Rider family that strayed from everything everyone liked about the 13 and earlier. I tried it on, and immediately knew I couldn't wear that shoe...especially since the arch support seemed to dig into the front of my calcaneus (WTF???). Thankfully, Mizuno promised to return the Rider 15 to its roots, and I was again curious to try this shoe. When my friend Seth asked me if I wanted to test the Rider 15, I jumped at the opportunity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gear Review: Brooks PureConnect


A while ago, I posted some information on the Brooks PureProject, Brooks' entry into the reduced shoe market. When they were first announced, I was pretty unfazed, being happy with my other shoes, and mainly just satisfied that if Brooks was making other low-drop shoes, maybe that meant they'd leave the T Racer alone and not mess with that shoe's H delt. But then the more I heard about them, the more I wanted a pair! First came Sage's review of the PureFlow, then there was the PureProject Facebook contest, and then, well, I bought a pair of PureConnects. The PureProject line consists of four different shoes: the PureConnect, the PureFlow, the PureCadence, and the PureGrit. More information can be found in my previous post. Well, I've finally got some miles on the Brooks PureConnect, the most race-bred of the group, and now, it's time for a review!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gear Review: New Balance Sure Lace


Shoe laces are something that should be super simple. All they are is a little piece of fabric rope that keeps the shoe together. It shouldn't be rocket science. Yet so many companies can't get this right. I have complained time and time and time again about laces that just don't stay tied. I've double-knotted, I've tucked the laces into themselves...doesn't matter. The bad laces always seem to come untied at the most inopportune times anyway. Like mile 15 of a marathon when the last thing I plan on doing is stopping and retying them. Obviously something so easily replaceable should never be a deterrent to buying a shoe that you otherwise love (it's like not buying a bicycle because you don't like the saddle...just replace it), but it also does no good if you replace the laces with some other pair of laces that don't stay tied. Enter the New Balance Sure Lace.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

‎Molly Pritz in 2:31:52 for top American at NYCM!!

Molly Pritz just went 2:31:52 at the New York City Marathon, for 1st American and 12th overall! In her marathon debut no less too.

12 122 Pritz, Molly PA/USA 23 2:31:52 +08:37.12 5:48


Flotrack video after the break.

Picture courtesy of Runner's World

Thursday, November 3, 2011

No One Perfect Way to Run

The latest article to sweep the running world is Christopher McDougall's New York Times article and video on how to run. The article is harmless enough...obviously it's skewed towards McDougall's way of thinking, and like any opinion piece, it only shows one side of the argument, but it doesn't present anything that actually stuck out to me as factually wrong (unlike his book, which has some incorrect details like the assertion that Nike invented the raised heel, when there were actually running shoes with raised heels on the market before Nike was even founded). The video is...odd. McDougall comes off a bit like a car salesman, telling people that there is only one way to run and 85% of people are running "wrong," and then showing people how to do the same barefoot sprint drills that the rest of us have been doing for years, calling it a foolproof method to running the "correct" way. Only lots of people who are running "wrong" are pretty fast...and if someone has gotten themselves to the elite level running "wrong," are they really wrong?

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Design and Countdown to NYCM

Yes, you are at the right blog. Well, you're at the right blog if you're looking for that blog with all the shoe reviews that used to have a picture of 2006 Pre-Nats in the background.

5 days until the Freshman Class (Molly Pritz, Lauren Fleshman, Bobby Curtis, and Ed Moran) make their marathon debut at the New York City Marathon. Don't miss it.
Elite men's field: http://www.nycmarathon.org/pro_men.htm
Elite women's field: http://www.nycmarathon.org/pro_women.htm

That is all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Departure from the Norm...Seven Random Facts


I do a lot of serious posts, and not nearly enough "fun" posts. So I decided it's time for a fun post. Leah at Chasing Atalanta just tagged me to write a Seven Random Facts about myself post. Thanks for the link, Leah! She herself was tagged with a Versatile Blogger Award (well deserved), but my blog is not very versatile, so I'm not sure that part was actually intended for me. Since all my readers actually know about me are my shoe preferences, here's a chance to get to know me a little better. Plus maybe it'll help me make this blog more versatile and/or get me more internet friends and readers.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quick update and new links

I just noticed that the #1 search term leading people to my site this week has been "Kara Goucher." (In the past, it's almost always been something related to Brooks). So, in an attempt to send people where they want to go, go here if you're looking for my review of Goucher's book, here if you're looking for Goucher's Competitor.com blog, and if you're looking for confirmation that she has left Alberto Salazar and the Oregon Project for Jerry Schumacher and OTC Elite, no need to go anywhere, because I'll confirm it right here. I also got really excited that maybe I was one of the top results in a Google search for Kara Goucher! No dice...I don't know how people are getting here.

In other news, I've updated my links page with a couple of the other blogs that have caught my eye recently.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review of The Jade Rabbit at Chasing Atalanta


Friend of a friend and fellow blogger Leah at Chasing Atalanta has just posted a review of Mark Matthews' book The Jade Rabbit. I haven't read it, so I'll let Leah describe it for you, but it certainly looks interesting based on her review. Anyway, she's hosting a contest right now, so along with getting myself an entry into the contest, I wanted to give my readers a heads up so they can head over there and enter themselves too. Plus she has some cool entries detailing her own running experience out in Michigan (including getting proposed to at the end of a half marathon), so if you're looking for another running blog to read, you should consider adding Chasing Atalanta to your list. You can read her review here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gear Review: La Sportiva Crosslite


When I was still living in Boulder (before grad school took over my life), once a week I would meet the Boulder Trail Runners for a trail tempo run. It was a pretty quick bunch, and there were a few very good regional caliber (and perhaps even national caliber...I'm really not familiar with the Who's Who of American trail running, and the good trail runners smoked me as soon as we got to a technical trail section) runners. One thing I noticed was that the most popular shoe was the La Sportiva Crosslite. At the time, I was wearing the New Balance 790, a lightweight trail racing flat that has since been replaced by the New Balance MR101, but I couldn't help but be at least a little curious about the shoe that all the fast guys and girls were wearing (peer pressure!). When I got the opportunity to try this shoe, I jumped on it! Continuing the trend of giving full reviews to shoes mentioned in this post, here's the La Sportiva Crosslite.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gear Review: Nike Zoom Streak 3

In the past, I've worn ultra lightweight flats for half-marathons and shorter races. However, when I signed up to do a marathon, I decided that the 3.9oz Adizero PR just wasn't going to cut it. Whatever time I saved from using a lighter shoe would be negated tenfold by foot fatigue. I needed a little bit more shoe underneath me. I briefly considered the Brooks T6, but eventually decided something with a slightly less aggressively curved last might be a better idea. I did a whole bunch of searching and trying on various shoes, and eventually ended up with the Nike Zoom Streak 3 (not to be confused with the Nike Zoom Streak XC 3). The Streak 3 is another shoe that I've mentioned in the past, but felt it was deserving of a full review.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gear Review: ASICS Piranha SP 3


One of the coolest pairs of flats I've worn was the Adidas Adizero PR. At 3.9oz, they were super lightweight, incredibly low slung and close to the ground, and fit my foot like a glove. Unfortunately, Adidas is constantly revamping its Adizero line, and they were discontinued a few years ago. However, ASICS and Mizuno have since introduced ultralight flats, namely the Piranha and Wave Universe (There may be a few reduced shoes marketed as minimal that would also fall into this category, but I unfortunately have no idea what they are and therefore can't throw any names out for you. Maybe the Somnio Nada? I don't know). The Piranha is currently on its third iteration, the SP 3. When my PRs finally gave up the ghost, I decided it was time to look for another ultra-lightweight to replace them. When I was buying these (which was admittedly quite a while ago), only the Piranha was available in small sizes, so that made the decision as to which flat to buy very easy for me. I mentioned this shoe in the past, but never really gave it a full review. Well, seeing as that "review" was really more of an overview, here's the dirt on the Piranha.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brooks Pure Project Contest

I'm ridiculously proud of this picture for some reason, so I'm posting it up. Came out almost exactly how I had it pictured. This is the effect I was going for (alright, so theirs is better, but those are professional graphic designers who made that. I am a physical therapy grad student with no formal graphic design or art training who did this between classes, and Facebook compressed it all funny on me). View the full size here or by clicking on the photo (it's worth it for full size, I swear!). More after the break.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Paula Radcliffe's 2:15:25 No Longer World Record

Paula Radcliffe at the 2003 London Marathon (Getty Images)

Apparently the IAAF has decided that mixed races can no longer count as a women's world record. Instead, performances from those races can only be considered a world best. World records can now only be set in a women's race, since male pacers can help a woman run a faster time. This is being applied retroactively, so the world record is being stripped from Paula Radcliffe's incredible 2:15:25 performance at the 2003 London Marathon. That's 5:10 pace in case you're wondering. It wasn't even until 1958 that any men were able to run that fast! In its place, it is being awarded to Radcliffe's 2:17:25, which is her third best time for the marathon (Radcliffe has also gone 2:17:18). Imagine someone told you that your PR is no longer your PR. Instead, your new PR is actually your third best time, and your fastest time no longer counts. It used to count, but it doesn't anymore because we just changed the rules and are going to apply them retroactively. You still ran the time with your own two legs on a legit course without the aid of performance enhancing drugs, it just doesn't count because there were guys in the race. (Apologies to my male audience, but just try to work with me here.) Now imagine that you're the greatest female marathoner this world has ever seen, and that your PR can no longer be considered the world record. I am disappointed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gear Review: Tifosi Slip

I recently reviewed the Oakley Flak Jacket: sexy, performs great, and expensive. Consider it the Lamborghini Gallardo of sunglasses. Now, we all love Lambos, but not all of us want to spend the money for one, especially if you're someone who tends to lose or break sunglasses. In that case, you can go with a Honda Civic, aka your typical pair of cheap, but still UV-protective, sunglasses from a department store, or you can decide you still want great performance without the huge price tag and get yourself a Subaru WRX. The Subarus of the sunglasses world come from a company known as Tifosi, and their WRX is the Tifosi Slip.

Tifosi Slip in Carbon with High Speed Red Fototec lens

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cadence and the Magic Number of 180

It seems that everyone has been told that the ideal cadence is 180 steps per minute. The great Jack Daniels himself has stated that a slow cadence is associated with overstriding and increased injury rates. For a long time, this has been undisputed. A cadence of 180 was king. However, lately this magic number seems to be something people are questioning. Is a cadence of 180 really ideal for every person at every pace?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pronation and Midfoot Striking, Forefoot Striking, and Heelstriking

Every so often I hear someone say that they know they have a neutral gait because they are a midfoot or forefoot striker, and overpronation is the domain of heelstrikers. They claim that because they don't heelstrike, it's impossible for them to overpronate and they don't need a shoe with any stability (though the idea that neutral shoes have no stability is also a myth). Similarly, I sometimes hear of someone well-meaning but ill-informed trying to push a minimal shoe on someone just because they midfoot or forefoot strike, without actually doing a gait analysis. While a midfoot or forefoot striker may or may not actually have a neutral gait, the idea that every midfoot and forefoot striker is a neutral pronator is absolutely false.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gear Review: Oakley Flak Jacket

I've had Oakley lust since I can remember. As an elementary school kid, I bought a pair of $10 Foakleys at a flea market because they looked almost exactly like the Oakley Twenty (which I believe went by a different name back then, but that name escapes me right now). Unfortunately, as you've probably guessed, while they looked like a genuine pair of Oakleys, they were not made like a genuine pair of Oakleys, and they broke within a few months. Come to think of it, they probably didn't offer very good sun protection either, but I digress. It wasn't until after undergrad that I finally bought a quality pair of sunglasses, and while my running partners at the time all sported either Zeal or Rudy Project, I was unable to resist the siren song of Oakley. The guy I was dating at that point had a pair of Oakley Flak Jackets, and after trying on his, I decided that the next pair of sunglasses I bought were going to be Flak Jackets.
Oakley Flak Jacket with XLJ lens

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cutting on High School Cross-Country Teams

Recently, Running Times published an article by renowned coach Greg McMillan that got quite a bit of attention. This article seemed to be geared towards high school cross-country (and track) coaches, listing the different types of runners and how to best coach each personality. While it does play up stereotypes, the article still seems pretty spot on for the most part, and most high school runners fall into one of those categories. I think anyone who's run in high school (or college for that matter) can think of teammates who fit into each of the categories fairly well. Additionally, I think McMillan's methodology for handling each type of runner is very good (for the most part...read on for the actual controversy). However, the paragraph that's been getting the attention is about the runners that McMillan labels the "Necessary Evils," the talented runners who didn't put in the necessary work over the summer and come in out of shape. McMillan says to cut them.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gear Review: Skullcandy Ink'd Headphones

At some point in their running career, most runners use a pair of headphones. It might be on the treadmill, it might be lifting or cross-training in the gym, or it might be running outside (hopefully in an area devoid of cars, cyclists, dogs, and other hazards). When I'm looking for a headphone to use while working out, I want something cheap (because it will inevitably get ruined), something with at least passable sound quality, something small and light (preferably an in-ear monitor), something that's going to stay in my ears, and something that can deal with a little bit of sweat. My current workout headphone of choice is the Skullcandy Ink'd.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh hey, it's a personal life entry!

Apologies for the lack of updates this past week. I just had surgery to fix a lingering problem that was keeping me from training the way I wanted to. One of those things that probably could have been prevented had I taken time off or even just cut back when I first started having a problem, instead of continuing to run through it and letting myself overcompensate, but no sense dwelling now, and pushing the limits comes with the understanding that getting hurt once in a while is inevitable. So, in the meantime I'll leave you with a quote from steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti as well as my Twitter account that I just started, in case anyone feels like reading about my personal life (which, for now, will probably involve me being emo about not running).
"You are going to face obstacles. You are going to get sick. Everyone gets sick in running. You are going to get hurt. Almost every single runner has been hurt at some point. That's going to come. The athletes that succeed are the ones that understand how to deal with that." -Fam
And as long as I'm quoting Fam, here's another quote, just because I love this one:
"I used to have a background in skateboarding when I was in high school. It was a really exciting individual sport to me. It was all about what you put into it is what you got out. The amount of time you learned a trick, the aggressiveness and the guts you had to go down a flight of steps; you knew you were going to go down the first 10 attempts on it. You might crack your skull open, but eventually you were going to land it. That takes a certain attitude to be able to do that. And so that was the attitude I took towards running. It was a little reckless." -Fam
 Twitter: Follow me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hot Weather Running

Runners have got to be some of the whiniest people I've ever met. When it's cold, I swear half my Facebook friends have some status up about how miserable it is to finish a run with icicles on their eyelashes or how painful it is to defrost in the shower after a run. When it finally gets above freezing, the statuses change to how much everyone hates cold rain. Then it gets hot out, and then everyone starts complaining about the heat and humidity. Don't get me wrong, I love perfect weather as much as anyone, and I've been known to whine mightily when it's gross out. However, you don't have to run for long before you realize that the gnarly days far outnumber the beautiful days, and the chances that your goal race falls on a day with absolutely perfect weather is slim to none (and if you only train on beautiful days, you're not going to be very good). Luckily, some bad weather is "less bad" than others (i.e. -5 °F and windy is better than 35 °F and raining, and both are better than 60 °F and hailing), and most of it can be combated with proper clothing, correct hydration, and other preparation. Like any other less than ideal weather, hot weather running brings with it certain challenges.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why School Sports are Important for Kids

I just found out that the district in which I competed in junior high school is eliminating all junior high school athletics championships for the 2011-2012 school year. I do not know how this will impact each individual school's athletic program, whether they will still continue to have a program that competes in dual meets and conference championships, or if the writing is on the wall for them too.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Gear Review: Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons

Kara Goucher has become one of America's most recognizable runners, and for good reason, with accomplishments such as a third place finish in the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships and a recent 5th place finish at the 2011 Boston Marathon. While not every great athlete makes a great coach (and not every great coach was a great athlete), it's unlikely that someone like Goucher would be able to get as far as she did without picking up some knowledge along the way. In Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons, Goucher passes some of that knowledge along to the reader, giving a lot of information that I can honestly look at and say "I wish someone told me that when I started running!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Are we messing with form and shoes as a substitute for hard training?

Everywhere I look today, I see information on "the perfect running form." Articles on how to move from an ungainly heelstrike to a beautiful stride where your midfoot gently kisses the ground. How you should ditch your heavy foamboat foot coffin trainers with their high wedge heels and go to a minimalist zero-drop shoe that promotes good form. How this will all help you run faster, more efficiently, and injury-free. I can hardly go to a running website or forum anymore without being bombarded with information overload on form and shoes! And people are eating this information up too, to the point that I see more questions about running form and shoes than about training!

I know a lot of runners. There's a lot of variation as far as form goes, and as far as what shoes they wear. There are a lot of heel strikers, some midfoot strikers, and even a few forefoot strikers. And their shoe choices run the gamut from traditional trainers with a high level of cushioning and stability to completely barefoot. And it's not like the slow ones are the heel strikers who wear heavy trainers...my fastest friend is a heel striker who primarily wears the Brooks Defyance, a neutral trainer with a 12mm heel-toe differential and a high level of inherent stability for a shoe of its class (yes, neutral shoes have support built in). However, there is one thing that all of the fast ones have in common...they all work their effin' asses off.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships


Just a heads up for anyone interested: Along with the live feed (that I keep missing because I haven't been paying attention to start times), RunnerSpace.com also has videos available of all the races. Here are the links to the women's 10,000, men's 5000, and women's 1500, and anything else can be found using the list on the left hand side of the screen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gear Review: Born to Run

Many runners have a certain running book that they've found stands out for them. It's the book they open when they're looking for inspiration or motivation. For me, that book was Running with the Buffaloes. Once a Runner was a close second, but the story of the University of Colorado's cross-country team just hit a little closer to home and was just a little more powerful for me. Today, many runners have found that "their book" is Christopher McDougall's Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. I initially had no interest in reading that book, having already read a lot of barefoot and minimalist literature a few years prior, and having talked to a few too many people who were convinced that running barefoot would cure everything from overpronation to ovarian cancer. Then a few months ago, I attended the wedding of one of my college teammates. My old assistant coach was there, and one of the things he asked me was whether I had read Born to Run. I told him no and explained why it didn't really interest me. He told me to give it a chance, that it's not 300 pages of "Shoes are evil" rants, and that he had enjoyed it. So, with an open mind and only a couple years late, the review that you've all been waiting for: Born to Run.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Guest Blog: Gear Review: Saucony Grid Type A4

I asked my friend and college teammate Julie to write up a guest review on the Saucony Grid Type A4 racing flat, which has become her trainer of choice. After college, Julie took her running in a completely different direction than I did, returning to the trail running she had done outside of NCAA running, getting involved with ultradistance races, and experimenting with minimalist shoes, including various flats, the Vibram Five Fingers, and running completely barefoot. While I did a review of the Nike Free a little while ago, my review still came from the perspective of a shod road runner. As far as minimalism goes, Julie is the real deal. So, for all you trail runners, ultrarunners, and minimalist fans, this review is for you.

Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, and Other Cross-Obstacle Races

Over the weekend, one of my Facebook friends recently put up a status asking why the sudden proliferation of events like the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Muddy Buddy, and urban adventure races. It seemed that the comments on this status fell onto one of two sides. The first side declared that such races are a show of false bravado for weekend warriors, a money making scheme that lacks the seriousness of a "real" competition, and an injury risk for "real" athletes. The other side stated that such races are a ton of fun, a great way to get people moving, and an excuse to push one's limits. A similar discussion was posted on LetsRun last week, with similar arguments on both sides (though LetsRun being LetsRun, I'm sure you can guess which side most posters took).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gear Review: Running for the Hansons

 

You don't graduate from Bucknell University without being at least somewhat of a Hansons fan. My first exposure to the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project was in 2003, my freshman year, when I somehow managed to make the travel squad to a cross-country meet in Detroit (I have no idea how that happened...I sucked freshman year!). My coach, Kevin Donner, had previously coached Brian Sell at St. Francis University and took the opportunity to introduce him to our team. Additionally, one of my teammates, a fellow freshman, had run for Sterling Heights High School in Michigan, and had been coached by Kevin Hanson, one of the two founders and coaches of the Hansons team. Then, a few years later, my best friend and college running partner Molly Pritz was accepted to their program (to be fair, she's gotten a lot faster since college, and training with her post-collegiately often involved me getting dropped). At this point, anyone who ran for the Bison kind of becomes a Hansons fan be default. So when I heard that Hansons runner Sage Canaday was putting out a book about his experiences with the team, I ordered myself some reading material.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Do You Run?

Running is a somewhat odd activity. It's a selfish endeavor, and many of us leave our families for hours every day, plunging ourselves into an activity that benefits no one but ourselves. Sometimes we're helping a team or a running partner, but for the most part, it is something we do to satisfy our own desires. It's a financially draining sport. Sure, I win a little bit of money on the roads now and then, but that money doesn't even cover my shoes, let alone the rest of my gear, my race fees, or my running related medical bills. Even many professional runners aren't making enough to live, and they have to have another part-time job on the side. It's a punishing activity, bringing with it the physical pain of effort and injuries, and the mental anguish of heartbreak. Yet for whatever reason, we all continue to do it. So while you read this post, I'd like you to start thinking about the answer to the question: Why do you run?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gear Review: Running Books (Training)

In a past post, I mentioned the value of having a coach guiding your training. Unfortunately, that is not a possibility for everyone, for various reasons. Luckily, there are several books on the market today that can help provide guidelines for structuring a training program. These books are even useful for those runners who have a coach, since it never hurts to understand why you're doing certain things, and depending on your coach, the knowledge will give you an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions concerning your training. Different books, of course, are for different purposes and different audiences. The person who would be best served by No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running would be completely overwhelmed by Lore of Running, while someone who eats up the latter would be bored to tears by the former. In this post, I will lay out some of the more popular running books in order to help you decide which books might be most appropriate for you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Artwork

New artwork tab added to the top. Check it out. DO IT DO IT DO IT.

In case you need some encouragement, this one's my favorite:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gear Review: Daniels' Running Formula

Say the name "Jack Daniels" to any serious runner, and they'll assume you're talking about the world-renowned coach and exercise physiologist, not the whiskey. While Daniels himself is only able to coach a limited number of athletes, he has written a book to make his training philosophy available to world. I've read a lot of running books, yet one of my absolute favorites is Daniels' Running Formula.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Molly Pritz is the 2011 USATF 25K National Champion!

Molly Pritz, of the Hansons Brooks Distance Project, won the Fifth Third River Bank Run in 1:25:38 to become the 2011 USATF 25K National Champion! And just in case this isn't impressive enough, she just did it at 23 years old. Expect big things from this girl in the future. Check out the interview on Runnerspace.

Sorry for the long deadspace between updates. End of the semester = exam week and other craziness. I have a good one in the works, just have to proofread it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Carbo-Loading

With marathon season underway, there are surely several nutrition questions running through people's minds. "What should I eat the day before the race?" "What should I eat the morning of the race?" "Should I alter my morning routine at all?" "Should I do a carbo-load?" "What is a carbo-load?" Et cetera. Nutrition is a big topic that's impossible to cover in one blog post (or even one blog!), but in this post, I'll attempt to explain carbohydrate loading.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inherent Stability in Shoes and the Myth of the Purely Neutral Shoe

I often hear people saying that they are neutral runners, and so they can't tolerate any stability whatsoever in their shoes. Instead, they insist they need a purely neutral shoe with absolutely no stability features. Then they go buy a shoe like the Brooks Ghost 3 and say they bought the most neutral shoe they were able to find. If that shoe's as neutral as you get, I wonder what they would say if they tried on the Saucony Kinvara, Nike Free, or, God forbid, the Vibram FiveFingers (just kidding, VFF fans). Even a shoe like the Nike Pegasus is a small step down in stability. Don't get me wrong, the Ghost is a fine shoe, and it's one of the more neutral trainers in Brooks' line, but it's certainly not the most neutral shoe out there.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Gear Review: Nike Free

I've recently rediscovered a pair of shoes that had made their way to the back of my closet to be ignored and forgotten (and there are quite a few shoes for them to be buried beneath). That would be the Nike Free, more specifically, the Nike Free 5.0 V3. The 5.0 has since been replaced by the Nike Free Run+, and more recently, the Nike Free Run+ 2. A couple changes have been made to the flex grooves to make the Run marginally more flexible, and the upper is actually pretty attractive now, but for all intents and purposes, the 5.0 and the Run are the same shoe.

Crazy times at Boston

Holy s*** Desi Davila second overall in 2:22:38! That's almost a four minute PR from her time in Chicago last year, and is the third best time run by an American woman. Deena Kastor has the AR of 2:19:36 from London '06, and Joan Benoit Samuelson ran 2:21:21 at Chicago '85.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Neutral Pronation vs. Overpronation vs. Supination Explained

In a previous post on running shoe selection, I briefly went over foot mechanics. However, it's come to my attention that a number of people don't truly understand the concept, and it's no wonder given the wealth of bad and/or oversimplified information out there (Runner's World, I'm looking at you). People aren't stupid. They don't want the watered down version that says to do a wet footprint test and buy your shoes based on that, because 90% of the time, the oversimplified version doesn't even work. They want to be able to make an informed decision and buy the right shoes. For example, high arches and a lateral wear pattern (wear on the outside of the shoe) doesn't necessarily equate to supination. High arches can contribute to supination, but they are not the only factor. And lateral wear pattern can be caused by supination...or it can be caused by forcing yourself to run unnaturally on the outside of your feet to minimize pain caused by wearing the wrong shoes (a forced and unnatural gait that will almost certainly result in injury).

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Strength Training for Distance Runners

Doing some strength training is an important part of a training program. Strength training helps to correct muscle imbalances created by running, which in turn, helps to prevent injury. It also builds muscle that can allow you to handle a greater workload. However, it can also take valuable energy and time away from running training, and actual running is, without a doubt, the best way to get better at running. Additionally, putting on a lot of muscle weight in areas that don't directly aid running equates to dead weight that you have to drag through your races (and while a certain amount of body fat is crucial for fat-soluble vitamin absorption and maintaining body function, body builder arms are not). Therefore, the key to effective strength training is, like any other aspect of running, specificity of training.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Brooks Pure Project: New Information

UPDATE 11/16/11: Review of the Brooks PureConnect now posted!
UPDATE 2/9/12: Review of the Brooks PureFlow now posted!

Brooks has just released a whole lot more information about its Pure Project line. I was originally going to add this to my last post on Pure Project, but there quickly got to be too much information. Pictures of the shoes and information about the technology used below the jump.
 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gear Review: Brooks T7 Racer

Once in a while, a shoe company gets something right. You wear a shoe and end up falling in love with it, because it's the closest thing to perfection you're going to find without making the Olympic team and having Nike make a one-off custom shoe specially for you. In 2007, I found one of those shoes when I bought the Brooks T5 Racer. At first, they stayed in my closet much of the time, because the store team I was running for at the time was sponsored by Nike, and to be completely honest, it wasn't love at first sight anyway, since coming from wearing spikes in college, I was more into the faster, lower to the ground feel that the Nike Zoom Katana offered. However, when I left that team, I gave the T5 another chance, and God was I ever glad that I did, because it's, hands down, the best flat I've ever worn. When you find a shoe that good, you're always afraid that it's going to get discontinued or get changed. My second favorite racing flat, the Adidas Adizero PR, was discontinued, even though that shoe had a cult following. And though I don't own the A4 or Fastwitch, Saucony just changed those shoes pretty drastically, as I talked about in my last post. Thankfully, the T6 remained mostly unchanged, other than it got a slightly nicer upper that fit my foot even better. In Februrary '11, Brooks released the T7 Racer, and I'm happy to report that the engineers at Brooks must know a good thing when they see it, because, while it looks a lot different from the outside, on the inside, it's still the good ol' T Racer that we've come to know and love.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brooks Pure Project

UPDATE 4/2/11: Brooks has recently released more information on the Pure Project, including pictures of the shoes and details about the technology itself! Check out my new post on the updated data!
UPDATE 11/16/11: Review of the Brooks Pure Connect now posted!
UPDATE 2/9/12: Review of the Brooks PureFlow now posted!

A while ago, when I was in high school (so sometime before 2003), I saw a shoe at Champs Sports that was marketed as mimicking a bare foot. It looked super gimmicky and like it was marketed towards weekend warrior types rather than serious athletes (I can't even remember if it was a running shoe). Obviously it did not do well, because I can't even find information on it today. Then, in 2004, Nike developed the Free, a flexible running shoe that was supposed to simulate barefoot running, after talking to then-Stanford coach Vin Lannana about training barefoot. There were a few Free models available, rated on a number scale with 1.0 representing barefoot running and 10.0 representing a traditional trainer. In 2007, seeing as I was running on a Nike-sponsored store team, I gave in out of curiosity and bought a pair of 5.0 (now known as the Free Run) and a pair of 3.0 (more on that later). Meanwhile, Vibram was producing a "barefoot alternative" of their own, intended for paddling and sailing, known as the FiveFingers. However, it all hit the mainstream with Christopher McDougall's 2009 book Born to Run. Born to Run set off the minimalist and barefoot explosion, where people suddenly decided to try running sans shoes, claiming that it cured all their injures (also more on that later) and allowed them to run more naturally (aaand more on that later too). At first, it was mainly small companies that catered to this market (outside of Nike), with lesser-known companies like Vibram and Terra Plana producing minimal shoes meant to do little other than protect the sole of the foot from rocks. Then the running companies started to get involved. In 2009, New Balance axed their 790 (why, NB why?!) and replaced them with the MT100 (now the MT101), and in 2011, they released their Minimus line. Similarly, in 2010, Saucony introduced the Kinvara, the first of a line of more minimal shoes (along with the Mirage, Peregrine, Cortana, and Hattori), and reworked some of their racing flats to decrease the heel-toe differential (like the A4 and Fastwitch). Additionally, other small companies popped up, like Altra, Somnio, Luna, and Soft Sole, as well as companies better known for non-running shoes, like Merrell. Early last year (2010), Brooks CEO Jim Weber released a letter detailing his thoughts on the matter, as well as a lot of other information from "The Experts," who are all generally considered authorities on the topic. Despite the information, people continued to post on Brooks' website begging for a minimalist shoe. Brooks has now responded with Brooks Pure Project.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Why Running Store are Awesome and Running Store Etiquette

Last week, my podiatrist suggested talking to Matt Byrne of the Scranton Running Company to look for a pair of off the shelf orthotics. I finally made it into SRC today, bringing along an anatomy textbook and about four pairs of running shoes in various states of wear. The first thing we did was go over some background information, which included talking about my shoe and injury history, showing Matt my anatomy book to explain what was going on versus what was supposed to be going on (anatomically, not biomechanically), and checking out the wear pattern on my current shoes. Next, he set me up on a treadmill and videotaped me barefoot. A slow-motion viewing showed moderate overpronation with the right foot and supination (underpronation) with the left (which is crazy, by the way...I always thought I mildly overpronated with the right and was neutral with the left, which is somewhat normal, but instead it looked like we were watching two completely different strides). For the record, Matt was as surprised as I was that I had posterior tibial dysfunction in my left foot. While supination is not a neutral footstrike and supinators often have injury problems related to their footstrike, posterior tibial dysfunction is not usually one of them. After talking for a while how to best address such a radical difference in foot motion, in order to stabilize the right while not overcorrecting the left in the wrong direction (without going the custom orthotic route), we started to play with insoles in different shoes, and eventually settled on the Brooks Launch (one of the many shoes I brought along) with Berry Superfeet. The entire process took about an hour.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gear Review: Garmin 405 GPS Watch

It wasn't all that long ago that if you wanted to know how far a run was, you had two options: you could either drive your running routes and check your car odometer, or you could time the run and estimate how fast you were running, then divide the time by your estimated pace to get the miles. The first method was often inconvenient. Who really has time to drive all their routes? And what if your routes take a shortcut across someone's yard or go down a trail or something? And the second method was woefully inaccurate. I can't even tell you how many "long 7s" the Bucknell women's team had, because we decided to assume we were always running 8:00 mile pace. Only it was the fastest "8:00 pace" in the history of the world, and a lot of those runs were 8 miles or longer. Then came MapMyRUN. Now you could figure out how far your runs were by tracing the route on your computer. It still was a little problematic if you ran on trails or MUPs, but it was a huge improvement over the "divide by your pace" technique. It even showed little mile markers on the map, which should have made figuring out mileage for tempo runs a lot easier...except that a mile marker in the middle of a long road on a computer is nearly impossible to figure out in the real world. And for some reason, my team still didn't adopt this, so our distances were still short (which makes me wonder what my mileage really was in college...hmm...). Then in fall '06, one of the freshmen showed up for cruise intervals with this big freaking computer on her wrist and told us we were running 20 seconds too fast per mile. No one believed her...but then our coach yelled at us for going too fast. That was the Garmin Forerunner 205. A few years later, a sleeker version was introduced: the Garmin Forerunner 405.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Progression, Specificity of Training, and the Value of Having a Coach

The other day, my friend Luke wrote a commentary on his progression as a climber versus his progression as a runner. I told him I was going to comment on his post, but I felt that there was some value to posting it on here.

First, a little background. I met Luke sophomore year of college, when two of my teammates and I decided to check out the rock climbing wall. Luke was one of the better climbers: super strong, and extremely dedicated to not only his own improvement, but also the progression of the people with whom he climbed. After graduation, Luke began running, jumping in pretty hardcore and managing to qualify for Boston in his first marathon, though climbing remains his primary endeavor. Anyway, if you haven't read his blog post yet, Luke compares and contrasts his running training with his climbing training. For the most part, he's pretty spot on. However, I did want to make a few comments pertaining to the later progression of running.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Gear Review: Brooks Ghost 3

I wore the Nike Pegasus for nine years. Don't get me wrong, I messed with other shoes for workouts and races and trail runs and whatever else, but the Pegs were my go-to workhorse shoe. I had a few issues with them, for example, the instep of the shoe never quite fit me right, and to prevent extensor tendinitis, I generally had them tied so loose that they never had to be untied, but for the most part, they worked great. They even got me through second semester freshman year relatively unscathed, when I decided it would be a good idea to go from 40 miles per week to 70 miles per week over the span of a month (and the 40 miles per week was already a significant jump from high school). They also got me through my second year after college, when I went from 80 to 100 miles per week in a couple of weeks. What more can you ask for from a pair of shoes?

Um, how about for the company not to change it? Last summer, I ordered my regular pair of Pegs in a size 8, the same size I've been wearing since 2002, and they didn't fit me. Weird. I did a lace lock to prevent my foot from sliding around so much, but predictably, ended up with extensor tendinitis a week later. I also noticed the ride felt like it changed slightly, and less than two weeks and 150 miles after picking up the new Pegasus, I strained my hip flexor (I had never had a hip flexor problem before).

Back at the National Running Center, my friend Rob told me that yes, the Pegasus has changed, but that most people loved it. Well, that didn't bode well for me, since that gives Nike even less of a reason to change it. After trying on nearly every shoe in the store (including a different size Pegasus), I had it narrowed down to two shoes: the Brooks Ghost 3 and Saucony ProGrid Ride 3 (the only two that fit me). I really love Brooks' T Racer, so I went with the Ghost.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gear Review: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey

For some reason, a lot of runners (and other athletes) tend to overcomplicate nutrition. For something that should be really easy, we tend to make it really hard.

Calories (1 Calorie = 1kcal = 1000 calories) come from three major sources: carbohydrates (4kcal per 1g carbs), proteins (4kcal per 1g protein), and fats (9kcal per 1g fat). There's also alcohol, but for purposes of this review, I'm going to ignore that. Exactly how you're supposed to balance this seems to be up for debate, with recommendations ranging from the 40:30:30 Zone Diet to the 60:10:30 supposedly balanced diet to the 75:10:15 high carb diet to a million other carb:protein:fat ratios. I'm not going to even touch macronutrient ratios, seeing as I'm not a nutritionist, other than saying that I personally perform best off a high carb, low fat diet, but your mileage may vary. Just wanted to give a little background information for anyone who needed it.

Anyway, I find that when I'm training hard (which is often), my cravings are very carbohydrate focused. Considering carbs are your main source of energy, this is mostly good. However, I've found that a little bit of protein mixed with my carbs helps tremendously with my recovery, particularly immediately post-workout, in that 20 minute glycogen restoration window.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Running Playlist

The big news today is the new Boston qualifying standards. Kudos to the B.A.A. for taking action so that there's not a repeat of 2010 in the future. I think rolling registration is the fairest way to go. I know a lot of people are upset about the standards being tightened, to which I say, train harder! It'll make you a better runner, I promise. Anyway, I've ranted on marathons enough in my last post, so I'll refrain from commenting any further on the Boston situation.

I feel like I wrote a lot of heavy stuff lately, and I feel like putting up something fun.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Marathon Training and the Long Run

If you're reading this blog, you no doubt know that we're approaching marathon season. The Mardi Gras Marathon and Half was last weekend (Molly Pritz, rockstar that she is, rocked the half in 1:11:05 to take second overall female! And to make me look unbiased, Kim Smith ran the fastest half by a woman on US soil, winning in 1:07:36), and the training for most people who are running a spring marathon is now underway.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gear Review: P90X Final Thoughts


You may remember that a month ago, I wrote up a review of P90X. Well, I've finished the 90 days, and figured I would give some final thoughts on the program, as well as a few pictures of my results.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Focus

Yesterday, I did a quality two hour trainer workout. As a grad student, I felt obliged to try to get some studying in during the workout. This was no problem during the warmup and some of the early steady state stuff. But as soon as the tempo and power intervals started, I found my focus changing to the workout itself. It was unconscious, and every time I tried to refocus on anatomy, no matter how hard I tried to focus on the rotator cuff and its innervation, within two seconds my mind was back to the workout, either monitoring cues from my body or focusing on my cadence and power.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gear Review: Cold Weather Gear

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Grad school has started and that means all of my time is now being taken up by working out and just plain working.

The Northeast (and no doubt several other places in the northern hemisphere) was just hit with a crazy cold snap. Today wasn't so bad, but yesterday, the mercury was at -10 degrees Fahrenheit when I walked out to my car. Not a huge deal for me since I'm still trainer-ing it up, but many of you are probably still out there gutting it out. Having lived in the Northeast most of my life, and having spent two years in Colorado, I'm no stranger to cold running conditions (for the record, Northeast Pennsylvania has far worse weather than the Front Range). I'm sure some of you Canucks are laughing at me right now, but whatever, my intentions are not to get into a pissing contest, but rather to give you some ideas of clothes to wear.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How to Choose the Right Running Shoe

NOTE: I will leave this post up for completeness's sake, but there is some outdated material in here (It's from January 2011!). Fair warning. ;)

When you walk into a running store, you're surrounded by walls of shoes. However, not every shoe on that wall is going to work for you and keep you healthy. What shoe you require is dictated by your biomechanics, with the primary determinant being how much you pronate, or how much your foot rolls inward when it is in contact with the ground. Pronation isn't inherently evil, as it's your foot's natural cushioning mechanism. However, overpronation, or excessive inward roll, can cause injury problems if left uncorrected. Many runners display some degree of overpronation, though the degree varies by runner. On the other side of the spectrum is supination, also called under-pronation, which is when the foot doesn't roll enough and is unable to adequately cushion itself, which can stress the foot. Actual supination is fairly uncommon, and only around 10% of runners supinate.

Running shoes fall into three main categories: neutral, stability, and motion control. Neutral shoes are named as such because they have little to no stability features, though they do have good midsole cushioning. Neutral shoes are sometimes just called "cushioned shoes," though this name is misleading, since all three types of shoes provide cushioning. They are best suited for neutral pronators, who pronate ideally and need no stability features built into the shoe to control their foot motion, and for supinators, whose feet do not pronate enough to properly cushion their footstrike and require cushioning without stability features. Stability shoes usually have some type of medial post to provide stability, as well as good midsole cushioning. They are best suited for low to moderate overpronators, who could use some support to keep their foot from rolling inward too soon. The majority of runners do best in a stability shoe. Motion control shoes offer the greatest stability features, with higher density midsoles, extra medial support, and maximum heel counter control, and are often built on straight lasts with wide outsoles. They are best suited for severe overpronators or heavier moderate pronators. Other types of shoes (lightweight trainers, racing flats, etc) exist, but for the purposes of this post, only training shoes will be discussed (and flats and lightweight trainers fall into other categories anyway, e.g. Brooks T6 is a neutral flat while the Brooks Racer ST is a stability flat, and the Asics Speedstar is a neutral performance trainer while the Asics DS Trainer is a stability performance trainer).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gear Review: RecoFiT Calf Component Compression Sleeve

RecoFit is a small Boulder, CO based company that specializes in compression wear. The name RecoFit comes from the words recovery and fitness, and the company currently has two offerings: the Armcooler Compression Sleeve and the Calf Component Compression Sleeve. The RecoFit Calf Component is a calf sleeve, meaning it supports your lower leg but still allows you to wear the sock of your choosing. You may remember me mentioning them during my review of the Saucony AMP PRO2 recovery tight. Here's the full review.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Race to Remember

Since I obviously don't have any new race reports for you, I figured I'd post up some more older stories. In chronological order, my top three races:

2001 PIAA District II Cross-Country Championship - Scranton, PA
I started running freshman year of high school, but it wasn't until my junior year that I began to see real results. That year, I was running #2 for Bishop Hafey High School, behind #1 Kira. For me, Districts was the most important race of the season, since it determined who qualified for the PIAA State Championship. Kira had qualified for States as an individual in 2000 and had a good chance of going again in '01. For me, it would be more of a stretch. I had my goals though. For the first time, Districts was to be held on the Scranton Municipal Golf Course, a course that no runners had been allowed on earlier in the season, so no one had any idea what the course was going to look like. To further complicate things, Districts also fell on an unseasonably hot day, quite a change from the cool to cold conditions we had been practicing in and from the League meet a week earlier that had been in the  high 30's and rainy. No one in Northeastern Pennsylvania had run in these kind of conditions since the early season.
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