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NOTE: I will leave this post up for completeness's sake, but there is some outdated material in here (It's from January 2011!).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