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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review of YakTrax Winter Footwear

My wife and I recently tried the footwear product YakTrax; we each used the Pro model. For those of you not familiar with YakTrax, they are a product that helps with traction in freezing conditions. They are meant to be worn over running shoes, boots and pretty much any kind of footwear you would have on in the winter. Instead of using spikes to grip into the snow and ice they use a coil system.

Well the first day we tried them was on Christmas morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The weather was definitely going to be putting our YakTrax to the test. We were going out for a morning run of 6 miles with my cousin and her running buddy. There was snow all around, but that wasn’t the main problem, everything was just covered in ice. It looked as though you could put on a pair of ice skates and go freely around town. My wife and I had YakTrax, cousin and friend did not. It was amazing the amount of traction that these things provided us that day. All the icy areas where my cousin and friend were afraid to run over, my wife and I just went right through without a worry. When the icy ground turned to snow they were equally impressive. Lately I have been running exclusively in racing flats to build foot and ankle strength, so I was worried that my light shoes would FEEL the YakTrax too much and be unpleasant. This was not the case at all. They are light and comfortable, even in racing flats. My wife was equally impressed with her pair, so much so that we decided to pick up a few pairs for our runner fathers.

Now that I have used my YakTrax for over a month, I can honestly say that they are a very commendable product I highly recommend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Barefoot Running or Minimal Shoes

Here are some good articles and video about the subject.

Great animation of the 2 different styles of running
I think it might be a little exaggerated, but you get the point.

My Test of Running in Racing Flats ONLY

Friday, September 18th, 2009

These first few days will not correspond exactly to the date it was posted. I have done almost a week of running on this "new method" before I decided to write a blog about my progress. So I have some days backed up. It's funny I call it the "new method" when it is actually the way we have been running for thousands of years. It should be called "old method" but if you read the first blog about this "Barefoot Running vs. Running Shoe" you know why I refer to it as the "new method" What I am doing different on these runs from previous runs is two things: 1. concentrating my foot-strike on the front half of my feet 2. using a very minimal racing flat for all runs instead of just race day or speed work.

Ran for 50 minutes then ended with 8x100m sprints. Later on did easy 4 miler with wife and some tennis to end the day.

Felt really good, did almost the exact same run 2 days ago and seemed to have more energy today. My legs seemed to want to turn over faster with the "new method." Some of it might have been psychological, we'll see.

Barefoot Running vs. Running Shoes - "New Method"

The new buzz around the running world is the hot debate:

Barefoot Running (or Nearly Barefoot) vs. The Running Shoe

I am an avid runner that is always tweaking my stride to try and find the most efficient and best feeling way to run. I do it so often that it has become a joke with my wife and I. We call it the “new method.” She is always asking, “What's your new method today?” She thinks it's funny that I think so hard about running. She also runs and simply states that she just runs, she doesn't have to think about it, she just does it. Part of this thinking is me wanting to get the most out of my training and become the best runner I can, another part is me just being me. I have a “new method” pretty much for everything I do: golfing, xc skiing, tennis, hockey, cycling, swimming. If I am doing it, I am trying to think of better ways it can be done. In most cases I think just because we have been doing something one way for such a long time doesn't mean it's the best way. I am an artist/sculptor/inventor so this is just how I am wired I guess.

OK, back to the debate. There are products out there right now, Vibram FiveFingers, Nike Free, Newton All-Weather Trainer, that are getting momentum from the barefoot running community. I'm not going to go into detail for each product, but the basic idea behind all of them is to promote a foot-strike similar to what one would do naturally running barefoot. They help you land on the forefoot/mid-foot area of you feet. Many knowledgeable academics claim this is the natural way our bodies are meant to run, this is how everyone runs when they are barefoot. It takes the pressure off the heal and lets your foots natural spring mechanism do the work on impact. Some say running shoes today not only promote an improper heel-to-toe foot strike with their large heel padding, but they are so supportive that it doesn't allow your muscles to be worked properly, resulting in weakened muscles prone to injuries.

As you can guess I have to try it out. I will be documenting my runs daily or almost daily as I transition to the forefoot method of running. To start off I am not going to be running barefoot, or in Vibram's or Nike Frees. I have decided to use my Brooks T4 Racers. These are very minimal racing flats that I thought have needed to be upgraded for quite some time (my pair, not the design). I think they will do since they are extremely light and don't have much stability to them. As I have researched this topic, experts say to start slow and ease into the transition, letting your body get used to the new wear and tear. That's not my style, but I am telling myself I should be fine since most of my shoes are light minimal trainers anyway. I'm telling myself I have built up enough muscle strength from previous runs with the old method to validate flying out of the gates with my “new method,” whether this is true or not, I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running Tips : Lung Capacity for Running

100 Beginner Running Tips

These tips are from

Apparel Tips
1.Wear spandex shorts under your regular running shorts so you don’t chafe “down there.”
2.Cotton socks will only lead to blisters; invest in socks designed for running.
3.Ladies, do not skimp on a bra. Even if it costs more than your shoes it’s still a bargain.
4.Buy running clothes you look good in and that will motivate you to run.
5.Buy new running clothes at the end of the season when stores dump the old season’s line. Think clearance!

6.Join your local running club—check with your local running store fitness center and/or recreation department to find one.
7.Volunteer at a local race—meet runners support runners and connect with your Community.

8.Remember to say “Thank You!” to race volunteers (e.g. when you get that cup of water at the aid station) and family and friends who support you.
9.Conscientiously share the trail with walkers, bikers and other runners.
10.Always try to balance running with the people you love by making a schedule that involves and is considerate of everyone.
11.Don’t carry loose change. It will annoy those who are running with you.
12.Don’t neglect and irritate your family and friends by spending all your time running and talking about running.

Motivation Tips
13.Sign up for a race as soon as you feel up to it.
14.Find a committed running partner. It is much harder to skip a run when you have someone else depending on you.
15.Remember that you will have plateaus in your progress and tough days along the way.
16.It gets easier.
17.Accept and appreciate the fact that not every single run can be a good one.
18.Be prepared to remove the words “can’t” and “never” from your vocabulary.
19.“Do not compare yourself to others. Run within yourself and for yourself first.
20.Don’t expect every run to be better than the last one; some of them will hurt.
21.Don’t think too much about it or you won’t do it.
22.Even a bad run is better then no run at all.
23.If you normally run with music try skipping it and listening to your feet to hear your pace and your gait.
24.Don’t be discouraged if you don’t experience weight loss immediately.
25.Start a running blog and read other running blogs regularly.
26.Running is not an excuse to triple your intake of doughnuts because runners gain weight too.

Nutrition Tips
27.Buy the powdered sports drink mix instead of premixed. It’s cheaper and more similar to race drink mixes.
28.Each pound you lose makes running a little easier.
29.Hydrate. Make it a habit to drink water throughout the day.
30.If you are running very long distance drink enough electrolytes (e.g. Gatorade).
31.On long runs eat something every hour—whether you feel like it or not.
32.During longer runs if you don’t like to carry water take some cash in your pocket pouch or a shoe wallet. Run a route where there’s a corner store that you can use as a pit stop to pick up your water and maybe use the bathroom.
33.Avoid eating spicy foods before running and the night before your long runs.
34.To aid recovery the most crucial time to eat and drink is in the hour immediately after you run.

Prevention Tips
35.Use Vaseline or BodyGlide wherever things rub. They will help prevent blisters and chafing (guys don’t forget the nipples).
36.Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
37.Guys: Band-Aids before the long runs. Your nipples will thank you in the shower afterwards.
38.Log your mileage for your legs and your Shoes. Too much on either will cause you injury.
39.If you are prone to shin splints and lower leg pain try running soft trails for your Training runs and save the asphalt for race day.
40.Do not run two hard days back-to-back.
41.Ice aches and pains immediately.
42.Pay attention to your form. Try to run lightly to minimize impact that could lead to injury.
43.Cut your Training by at least 30 percent to 50 percent every 4th or 5th week for recovery.
44.When trail running don’t forget the bug spray.
45.Neosporin (or another antibiotic cream) is good for chafed areas (if you didn’t use your BodyGlide!).
46.Make sure you cut your toenails short enough so they don’t jam into your Shoes!
47.Put some BodyGlide between your toes on long runs.
48.Be careful about running on paths that force you to run consistently on a slant. It’s hard on the hips knees and IT bands.
49.Don’t stretch before a run. Warm up by walking briskly or jogging slowly for several minutes.
50.Do not ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
51.Do not use the hot tub after a race. It will increase inflammation and hinder healing.
52.Frozen peas make a great ice pack for aches and pains. A thin t-towel wrapped around them makes the cold more comfortable.

Racing Tips
53.Race day is not the day to try new shoes, eat new foods, or wear brand new clothing.
54.Do not try a marathon as your first race.
55.For races longer than 5k start out slower than you think you should.
56.If you conserve your energy during the first half of a race, you can finish strong.
57.When you pick up drinking cups at aid stations, squeeze gently so it folds slightly and is easier to drink from it while you are moving.
58.A plastic garbage on race day is a very fashionable cheap disposable raincoat.

Safety Tips
59.Be aware of cyclists approaching you from behind and try to keep to the right. Try to pay special attention when running with music.
60.Run facing traffic.
61.Never assume a car sees you.
62.Give horses wide berths on trails and walk as you pass them unless you enjoy a hoof to the melon.
63.Always carry I.D. because you just never know.

Shoe Tips
64.Try shoes on in the afternoon when your feet are bigger.
65.Doubleknot your shoe laces so they will not come undone when you run.
66.Buy yourself some actual running shoes from an actual running store because running in junk “sneakers” will destroy your feet and your legs.
67.Get assessed for the right kind of running shoes.

Training Tips
68.In the immortal words of Walt Stack famed senior-citizen distance runner “Start slow … and taper.”
69.At first keep your runs short and slow to avoid injury and soreness so you do not quit.
70.If you are breathing too hard slow down or walk a bit until you feel comfortable again.
71.Pick your route close to home (out your front door)—the more convenient it is the better chance you will have sticking with it.
72.Find a beginner training plan for your first race.
73.Set realistic short term and long term goals.
74.Keep a training diary.
75.Soreness one to two days after a run is normal (delayed onset muscle soreness).
76.No amount of money spent on gadget training programs or funny food can substitute for minutes, hours, days and weeks on the road.
77.There’s no shame in walking.
78.Subscribe to a running magazine or pick up a book or two on running.
79.Four laps around the local the high school track equals one mile.
80.Lift weights.
81.It’s okay to take walk breaks (run 1 minute walk 1 minute then progress to run 10 minutes walk 1 minute etc.).
82.Vary your training routes. This will prevent boredom and prevent your body from getting acclimated.
83.Speed work doesn’t have to be scientific. Try racing to one light post and then jogging to the next.
84.Push through rough spots by focusing on the sounds of your breath and feet touching the ground.
85.Do speedwork after you develop an endurance base.
86.Practice running harder in the last half of your runs.
87.Do abdominal breathing to get rid of side cramps or “stitches.”
88.If you can’t find the time to run, take your running gear to work.
89.Run on trails if at all possible. It will be easier on your body and you’ll love it.
90.Build rest into your schedule. Rest is just as important of an element as exercise in your fitness plan.
91.Forgive yourself. Over-ambitious goals usually lead to frustration and giving up on your fitness plan. If you miss a goal or milestone let it go and focus on the next opportunity to get it.
92.Mix-up your training plan. Make sure your training plan is not too heavily focused on one thing. No matter what level of runner you are your training plan should include four essential elements: endurance speed rest cross-training.

Weather Tips
93.Dress as if it is 10 degrees warmer than the temperature on the thermometer.
94.Wear sunscreen and a hat when the sun is beating down—even in winter.
95.Run early in the morning or later in evening to avoid mid-day heat.
96.Pick up a pair of Yaktrax when running in icey conditions.
97.In the winter dress in layers (coolmax or other technical clothing) and wear a headband over your running hat to cover your ears.
98.For colder climates invest in socks rated to 40 below (usually found in sport/ski shops).
99.To keep cool in hot weather soak a bandana in cold water wring it out a bit and tie it loosely around your neck.
100.For hot weather fill your water bottle about half way lay it at an angle in the freezer and just before you head out for your run top it off with more water.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Top 10 - Rookie Mistakes Training For A Marathon

This Top 10 list is from
There is a right way and a wrong way to train for a marathon. Below is a list of Top 10 Rookie Mistakes commonly made when training for a first marathon or half marathon.

#10 Underestimate Stretching

Many beginning runners finish a run and neglect to stretch enough or even at all. They then find themselves tight and sore and eventually with a running injury. Do not neglect the importance of stretching! Stretch within 15 minutes after every run and take your time. As you progress through training, add a few seconds to each stretch and build up to 20 seconds or more per stretch. Benefits will include less soreness, greater flexibility, longer stride, and much more. Do not underestimate the importance of stretching.

#9 Lack of Support

Many runners do not share there goal with their friends, family, or co-workers. Why not? Afraid of what they might say? Afraid you will tell them and then fail to achieve your goal? If so, that’s all the more reason to tell them! It will give you lots of extra (and needed) motivation. Fear can often be the most powerful form of motivation. Use it! They should be supportive of you. All you have to do is tell them you are training for a marathon or half marathon.

Do not feel compelled to keep them updated on your progress though. Unless they are a runner, they simply will not understand. Think of that friend or co-worker who insists on telling you about every shot they had yesterday playing 18 holes of golf. Do you really care to hear about it? I don’t! Still, tell them early on that you have decided to run a marathon or half marathon. It will work in your favor.

#8 Lack of Belief

Often, a beginning runner will start training and have a very difficult time completing their first 5-mile run. They don’t see how they can possibly run more than that, much less 13.1 or 26.2. They stop right there. Done. Finished. They CAN do it, but they can’t because they don’t think they can. Did that make sense?

“If you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
- Henry Ford

Choose to believe you can!

#7 Motivation

There are lots of things that can (and will) come up during training that can cause you to lose motivation. It is very likely that you will miss a run or more due to circumstances that come with life. Whether it is bad weather, illness, working late, mild injury, or whatever, NEVER lose sight of your goal and choose to see the situation as positive. Remind yourself of the feeling you will have when you achieve your goal. Do not lose motivation.

#6 Wrong Goal

Many first time runners naturally think they should set a marathon finish time goal. This is not the case. Your goal for your first marathon or half marathon should simply be to finish. If you push yourself too much, you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of injury and not even seeing the starting line. Set a time goal for your next marathon or half marathon. This may sound strange, but it is quite wise. Be smart and set the right goals.

#5 Wrong Training Program

This really relates to goal-setting. Many runners follow a program of greater difficulty because they want to achieve a certain time. Then they fall victim to injury or just can’t handle the program so they quit. Choose the right program for YOU!

#4 Starting Too Fast

Many runners begin their training and feel they can run more than the scheduled training. What do they do? They go the extra mile (or more). Sure, we were all taught to "go the extra mile" while growing up, but don’t take it literally! In any training program, there is a reason for gradually increasing mileage each week. If you feel really strong when you begin training and want to run more, PLEASE resist the temptation. By going the extra mile, you are substantially increasing the likelihood of injury. Stay with the program. Believe in yourself and the program. Achieve your goal!

#3 Lack of Knowledge

Many beginning runners decide they want to run a marathon or half marathon and just start running. No homework, no schedule, no advice, no nothing. They just start running because they think they simply need to get in shape to start training and then they will figure out the rest. In 2001, I fell victim to this one! I decided I was going to run a 26.2-mile marathon. I just started running to get into shape. One mile, two miles, three miles…I was a natural! Week 3 came along and, after running three miles, I decided I could double it and then ran six miles. The next week, I blew my knee out and was done before I even started training. While I must admit I am embarrassed to share this failure with you, I am glad to do so if you will learn from it. I’ve held up my end of the bargain! Will you do yours? Do not fail because of ignorance like I did in my first attempt. Educate yourself on training as much as you can before you begin training. If you are reading this, you are already on your way to beating the #3 mistake! Give yourself a pat on the back.

#2 Hydration

Many runners suffer from dehydration because they underestimate how much water their body needs during training. Drink during your long runs. ALWAYS weigh yourself before and after a run and get your body weight back to what it was before the run. Do this by drinking plenty of water. Your urine should be light yellow to clear. Dark yellow means you are not adequately hydrated and need to drink more water. Be smart and stay hydrated! Stay away from the hospital! Cross the finish line!

#1 Injury

Many beginning runners make the mistake of piling on mileage much too fast. Maybe they started training without even building up a base during pre-training! They notice soreness in their shins or knees and ignore it. They keep running and BAM!, it hits them. They’re done. Game Over. Be aware of the warning signs and how to treat them. Be aware that injuries can sneak up on you with NO warning. Be smart and start easy. GRADUALLY build up and take your rest days seriously. Remember how many of the other Top 10 Rookie Mistakes lead to injury. Do not let injury keep you from achieving your goal.