Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My 2011 Running Favorites-Shoes, Apparel, Gear, and Trails

2011 was the year shoe heel to toe ratios dropped all over the place.  From road to trail I mostly ran in 4-9mm heel to toe drop shoes. While not a great competitive year, my legs felt great, no more hamstring soreness and rapid recovery from run to run.

Favorite Shoe
Brooks PureFlow

Reviewed here. I found racing and race recovery in the PureFlow to be a pleasure.
This second generation low drop road runner is light, has a 4 mm heel to toe drop and despite the weight plenty of cushioning due to its 19mm forefoot 23 mm heel stack. First shoe where I feel it is easy to keep off the heels for more than a few miles and I have tried them all Newton, Kinvaras, Ecco, Hoka One One, and various racing flats from Nike, Adidas, and Asics.

Road Runner Ups
Inov-8 Road X 255: Unlike Inov-8's trail models which have in my opinion a narrow snug upper the Road X 255 combines a roomy toe box with a snug mid foot. Great road feel if a bit firmer than the Brooks PureFlow due to its 13mm forefoot height, 6mm less than the PureFlow.
Inov-8 Road X 255

Inov-8 Road X 255

Trail Runner Ups
Three very different shoes for very different trails.

Saucony Peregrine: Great snow and mud shoe. Light and fast and with a bit narrow toe box. Not a long haul shoe for me.

Salomon Synapse:This 2012 model which I previewed has a wide toe box, plenty of cushioning, and great grip on most surfaces. Used to break the Appalachian Trail record Synapse is a great all day "Run your Hike" shoe.

Inov-8 Road X 255: Yes, this road shoe is also a very able trail runner.  For me a better trail runner than road runner. The full surface sticky rubber outer sole is great on all but loose gravel, snow, and mud. Agile and flexible with plenty of protection this is a great go fast shoe for hard pack trails. Can't wait for Inov-8's new trail models with the wider forefoot of the Road X series.

Inov-8 Road X 255

Running Apparel Favorites
I run hot so I am always looking for light moisture wicking fabrics. Anti-odor treatment also always a good thing to have.

Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight  long sleeve and t-shirts. Not the Stretch Silkweight which is also light but noticeably warmer. I wear either of  these just about every day in heat or cold. The long sleeves are loose enough to easily roll up. Rolled down they serve as a good sun barrier. Has Gladiodor odor control which I think is effective.
Patagonia Silkweight Long Sleeve

Saucony ViziPRO Vest: Really like the very breathable, soft, and totally windproof fabric. 3 pockets. The chest MP3 pocket is just a bit to snug for a smartphone. With the way people are driving these days, head glued to the phone, the ViziPRO color is essential, night or day. The vest has reflective fabric patches and includes a clip on USB rechargeable LED blinker.
Saucony ViziPRO Vest

Running Hat Favorites
Summer: Pearl Izumi Fly In-R-Cool Cap
Very light fabric with In-R-Cool technology which I think really does cool a bit when wet.  

Winter: Cannondale Wool Hat. 
Not running specific gear but this light wool hat with Coolmax type lining has been great for all temperatures from 40's down to below zero. Rides high on the head, sort of low profile when ear flaps are folded up so not overly warm when it doesn't need to be and as warm as can be when its freezing cold. Easily fold the ear flaps up or down as needed. The vizor cuts glare.
Cannondale Wool Hat
And anything wool from SmartWool, Ibex, and Icebreaker.

Favorite Gear
Nike+ SportsWatch GPS. After a rough start with many missing features such as average pace Nike came through with useful upgrades. The Sports Watch is small with a quite easy to see screen in sunlight. Decent web site for stats although it is about time to get rid of the slow Flash running the show. The Nike+ foot pod used when GPS is not available still seems inaccurate with no way to calibrate. I also use the Nike+GPS app on my iPhone when I don't have the watch handy.
Nike+ SportsWatch (left)  Garmin 205 (right)
Favorite Hydration Gear
Hands down winner the incredibly well designed Salomon XT S-Lab Advanced Skin pack. Truly a second skin.

Favorite Trail

Chamonix to Zermatt on the Walkers Haute Route. Not a run but a wonderful multi day hike across the Alps with my wife Dominique.
Mont Blanc (15,800 feet)  in the background
Favorite Trek Gear
Bomb proof, totally foldable, super lightweight Black Diamond Distance FL Trekking Poles.  The Z Poles. Useful for running too!

Add caption

Favorite Race
Boston Marathon! I had a terrible race but enjoyed my first trip back to the Big Show in 24 years immensely.

What were your Running Favorites in 2011?

Happy New Year and Happy Trails in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Brooks PureFlow-On Snow

15 miler on thin hard pack snow on a cold clear day in Park City. Incredible blue bird day. PureFlow was just fine in terms of traction on everything except the steeps. Don't think it will be great on ice. I now have about 300 miles of wonderful injury and soreness free running on my first pair of PureFlow. Soon I will get a new pair and outfit this pair with roofing screws for winter all terrain running.
Happy Holidays and Happy Trails in 2012!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brooks PureFlow: Different Race Recovery

Ran the Seacoast Half Marathon (NH) this past Sunday. What a great race and course along the scenic and historic NH coast. $75,000 donated to Seacoast Big Brother Big Sister.

I was pleased with how I felt and my time: 1:39.29. My first road race since Boston. If only I had another month of speed work and tempo before the snow flies....

I have been running roads exclusively in the Brooks PureFlow for the last month or so. My initial review here.

Usually after a half I have sore quads and hamstrings. Interestingly, the only thing sore 2 days after the race, the joints in my feet, especially toes. I may have had them laced a little tight on one foot.

It will be a speedy recovery. All of my  recoveries from harder workouts have been shorter since I started running the PureFlow.  I am guessing I was on my mid foot and off my heels during the race and thus impact forces were greater on my feet. This is what many have said will occur as you get on the mid foot. What makes the PureFlow different from other low drop shoes is that I find it easy for me to stay on the mid foot. While I was not as fast as I hoped, I sure felt smooth and aligned until the last very tough uphill and rolling mile. That is where nothing other than some longer tempo run and hill intervals would have helped me!

Update: 3 days after the half did 6 miles of brisk tempo. Felt totally fresh and fast.

Anyone else experiencing similar with the PureFlow?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nike+ SportsWatch GPS Firmware Update: stopwatch, auto looping stats, black text on white option

Going out for a run to try these new features.  Nike got going, releasing this important update, no doubt moved along by the MotoActv Android competitor I previewed coming in November 6th.

Firmware Update 2.0.1

This update is for the firmware that runs on the Nike+ SportWatch GPS powered by TomTom and is required for all users.  It includes the following:

• Adds stopwatch mode. (Excellent)

• Improves tap sensitivity for manual laps. (I have found it takes a hard tap to mark a lap.)

• Adds alarm capability.

• Adds the option to adjust the time of day or date on the watch without using Nike+ Connect. (along with alarm now watch can be used as an everyday watch)

• Adds the option to display either speed or pace. (useful on the bike.)

• Adds support for inverting the screen to display black text on a white background. (should be easier to see screen in bright light, an issue with current white text on black)

• Adds support for choosing any favorite metric when in auto or manual laps mode. (this was a real pain and missing option before the update)

• Adds an auto looping option for the upper metric. (probably the most useful as the watch only displayed 2 metrics at a time requiring button pushes to see other metrics.)

• Additional minor bug fixes.

1) Tried manual laps with my selected upper and lower metrics. In an improvement to what I have experienced before, each tap of the screen to mark a lap displayed, for a few seconds: the completed lap's distance, time, and average pace. Manual laps can also be used to get a sense of current pace. Run a few minutes, tap and see average pace for the lap time period. Useful. The change is that previously no matter what your selected metrics were, a tap for manual lap eliminated the lower metric and only displayed the lap times for the rest of the run in the lower part of the screen.
 2) Tapping to mark a lap previously required a firm whack with 2 fingers and often didn't             register. Now a smooth 2 firm tap registers the lap without fail.
3) There may be bug in the intervals mode when you select a distance for the interval and a time for the rest period. I am getting gibberish distances on the welcome screen to start the workout.
Update 11/27:
Another firmware update. The key "fix" instant pace. I have got to say I don't think it works. Yes, the wild fluctuations are gone but on a 10 mile run at very consistent pace throughout with instant pace displayed as my favorite (lower half of screen) stat the instant pace was consistently approximately 40 seconds per mile faster than my average.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MOTOACTV: Motorola GPS Fitness Tracker & Music Player

Just announced.  MOTOACTV is an Android based fitness tracker with music player. Includes GPS and accelerometer (for elliptical machines only initially according to an excellent first overview by DCRainmaker ). $249 for 8gig model plus $29.99 for wrist or arm band. Comes with headphone/mic as the system will also give audio workout feedback. Optional headphones add wireless heart rate through in ear sensing.  If you have an Android phone it will notify you of caller identity on screen which you can chose to answer or not. Not really an interest of mine but includes a full music player. The MOTOACTV looks to be a very clever blend of a typical fitness GPS watch and an iPod Nano.

Some immediate comparisons to the Nike+GPS I currently use, enjoy, and have reviewed:

  • Most obvious, includes a full music player
  • Wireless wifi sync to your computer or Android app vs. the cluggy non standard USB on the Nike+GPS wristband
  • Color touch screen which may be more easily viewable in sunlight
  • Gorilla Glass screen. Some have reported the Nike+ screen is easily broken
  • With optional heart rate headphones no uncomfortable chest strap. Accuracy to be determined.
  • Accelerometer is built in. No Nike+ lozenge to place in shoe. Will see how accurate it is.
  • Size: screen is bigger/wider than Nike+ at 1.6" diagonal.  How big it feels on small wrists such as mine remains to be seen. Stats should be easier to see.
  • Audio in run feedback. I really liked this feature on the Adidas MiCoach app. 
  • Supports ANT+ sensors and Bluetooth. Thus, bike sensors should work but this is still unclear which and how.  Nike+GPS uses a proprietary method to communicate with the foot sensor and heart rate monitor. 
I have written Motorola for answers to the following questions: 

"Can I get regular in workout stats via audio on the headset, stats in addition to heart rate?  I really miss the audio feedback I used to get with micoach on the Nike+GPS.  How would these be accessed if they work? If I had an Android phone would the loudspeaker be able to play the stats if I did not wear headphones? I usually run outside without headphones.
I like the readability of the screen. Can the screen stats be customized?
Does MOTOACTV have average pace? This was a big missing stat in the early release of Nike+GPS? How about current lap pace? A simple stop watch mode?
I see it includes an accelerometer. Can it accurately track distances run indoors on a treadmill?
Which settings be customized away from the computer? Nike+ is very limited. For example you can't change the stats lay out or the lap or interval length/time when not connected to the computer."

Update: I am seeing early online reviews indicating that battery life may be less than 2 hours when underway with GPS and music . A serious consideration for those of us who exercise/run for longer periods. Quoting a review at Amazon:

 "I've taken this device on three hour-long runs now, each time fully-charged. I've returned home with the unit down to less than 25% power level. This was using the MP3 features, Bluetooth on to wireless headsets, and GPS tracking. Given this rate of battery burn, I doubt the device would last more than 1:30-2:00 which, in the world of marathon-training (and even half-marathons), just isn't enough. This is a serious issue which Motorola may be able to address with software updates but, for now, it's a deal-breaker. "

Monday, October 10, 2011

First Impressions Brooks PureFlow and TrueGrit: They really nailed it!

Really liking the Brooks PureFlow I recently purchased from RoadRunner Sports. Brooks has really nailed the next generation (after Saucony Kinvara, Inov-8 Road X, and Newtons) trainer focused on more natural running, and less shoe, yet with adequate cushion for day in day out road running :
Brooks PureFlow
Brooks PureFlow

  • a low heel to toe drop-4mm , 
  • decent cushion- 23 mm heel 19 mm forefoot height (Running Warehouse). This is 2mm more heel and forefoot height than KInvara and is due to the full outsole. 
  • A forefoot/midfoot outsole which provides foot landing across its width (similar to Road X 255) with a split toe up front feels far more responsive and stable than the Kinvara yet better cushioned than the Road X,
  • Brooks DNA cushioning made of BioMoGo is firm yet attenuates shock without losing  much road feel,  
  • lots of forefoot room yet well supported mid foot due to the Nav Band on the lateral side,  
  • light weight- 8.7 oz
  • a midsole which gets you on the mid foot by moving the heel strike point forward. The mid foot strike pad under the arch plays a role as does what Brooks calls an inverted heel.  I can really feel a foot landing further forward. This is especially noticeable on uphills and downhills. Hard to fall back on the heels in the PureFlow. Yet, all this geometry felt very natural unlike the Newtons with their pronounced forefoot pads,
  • a very comfortable yet minimal upper. Maybe not quite the combination of roomy forefoot and snug midfoot of the Road X as the forefoot upper is a bit narrower but less constricting in the forefoot than the Kinvaras. One layer of very densely woven yet light mesh. Seemed to breathe very well on a warm day and pretty sure it will drain water very well. The heel collar is particularly plush. 

I have now about 50 miles on the PureFlow. Longest run 15 miles which went great and from which I recovered very well. Similar in feel to the Inov-8 Road X 255 yet better cushion, lower heel toe drop , lighter weight, and more pronounced yet natural mid foot landing. A bit heavier (an ounce or so)  and higher (2mm) due to a full outer sole than Saucony Kinvara.   I am a heel striker and I maintained a far better mid foot landing over a 12 mile run than in other similar shoes such as the Inov-8 Road X 255, Kinvaras, and Newtons.  Not quite as much road feel as the Inov-8 but a better more stable cushioned mid foot landing than the Kinvara's. I think this is due to firmer full width outsole on the PureFlow and Inov-8 vs the soft lugs on the Kinvaras. Did an interval workout in the PureFlow yesterday and maintained form throughout, turnover felt quicker and smoother than usual for me. Haven't run off road on the dirt. Suspect they may not be particularly stable there and certainly not as stable as the Road X 255. 

I think this next generation "natural" running shoe line will be a winner! 
Brooks PureGrit

Brooks PureGrit
Update: Have to admit that I have not run in any other road shoe, except a few times in a Nike Vaporfly since I got the PureFlow a month ago. That's saying something for me as I have a habit of constantly trying new shoes and changing out. 

Update: Tried on a pair of PureGrit at the Salt Lake REI. PureGrit is the trail runner in the Brooks PureProject line. Similar fit and design: Nav Band, inverted heel, 4 mm drop and split toe. The midsole foam appears to be firmer than the PureFlow, no surprise given these are trail shoes. The concave outer sole lugs look well arranged and should shed mud well. The outer sole material is also firmer than the PureFlow"s. Unlike PureFlow TrueGrit has a one piece outer sole. Overall width of the forefoot outer sole appears a bit wider on the PureFlow due to its pods.  At 8.9 oz quite a bit of protection per ounce, particularly from the upper down.

For the even more minimal crowd the 7.2oz PureConnect should be a viable alternative to training in traditional racing flats. 

Brooks PureFlow $90 MSRP. Limited availability for next few months. Size up 1/2 size.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Trying to follow some sage, ancient advice

Live sensibly-among a thousand people only one dies a natural death, the rest succumb to irrational modes of living.
Today I went for my physical and my doctor gave me his business card about half way through the visit and ask me to look at the back of the card. This saying was on the back. A little running, decent sleep, a few beers-trying to follow the sage advice above. Maimonides was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, physician, Jewish religious scholar and philosopher of the Middle Ages.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 2011 Trail Race-Helicopter Flyovers

Incredible helicopter video of the 2011 UTMB race and alpine scenery at last weekend's Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a 100 mile plus mountain race and the unofficial World Series of ultras. Notice the "casual" pace of the leaders and eventual winner Kilian Joret in white at the beginning of the clip. Kilian won in 20:39  hours looping the Mont Blanc in horrendous conditions (snow, wind, rain) during the overnight start. Half the field did not finish.  We've hiked the route twice in 6-7 days. Would love to race it someday.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011: Saucony Drops... Heels

Fresh on the heels of the success of the 4mm heel to toe drop  in its minimal road Kinvara and trail Peregrine shoes, Saucony is dropping the heels of most of its "franchise" models which will be on the market late 2011, early 2012.  The new road Triumph 9, Hurricane 14 and Guide 5 will all have an 8mm drop, down from 11 to 12 mm.   The Ride and Omni will not be heel dropped this winter as they are new models. I have been running roads in the Inov-8 Road X 255 lately and its 9mm drop is just about right for me.

The trail Xodus 3 will also feature a 8 mm drop and a new lighter upper.  This one really caught my eye as a shoe for technical trails.

Xodus 3.0: release 1/2012

While it always tricky to mess with franchise models Saucony is making the right call here. A lower drop will lead to a more natural stride and should reduce injuries and stress on the knees. These shoes can also serve as a transition to the more minimal shoes in the line such as Kinvara, Mirage, and even to the new Cortana, a plush neutral trainer with a 4mm drop and a recent Runner's World Best Debut shoe winner.

 Other Saucony news from Outdoor Retailer:
The Hattori will be coming in an AW-All Weather version. The Peregrine 2 is largely unchanged except for a lighter upper with more welded on support and less stitching.

Triumph 9: release 11/1/2012

Guide 5: release 12/1/2011

Hurricane 14: 2/1/2012

Peregrine 2

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Who Says Minimalist Running Shoes are New

A couple of pictures from my high school days, circa 1974-1975.
Mount Washington Road Race-Halfway House ( I am at right cheering something). Click to enlarge.

The weather was so bad, the road so muddy, on Mt Washington that day that they stopped cars at the halfway house and we had to run down from the top in the storm. I was sporting Onitsuka Tiger Marathons, less than 1/2" of midsole and outer sole in one piece. Nylon uppers. The classic 1970's race shoe. The founders of Nike were originally the Tiger distributors in the US. Not sure why I am so fired up in the pic with the grind to come. Did finish 7th overall that day in 1:13 so being pumped at this point was a good sign!

Portsmouth NH 10 miler

My grandfather George on the right just gave me water. I remember a very hot day and fast times, I think 54 minutes for a few tenths less than 10.  I believe my brother Jake is on the bike and my dad took the picture.  Again the trusty Tigers got me to the finish. Wore them to race roads, cross country, and mountains. Not sure I ever dared a marathon in them.

Today with older legs I might just wear them to run on the grass!

At the link from Running Past a picture of Tiger Marathons as worn by Jim Fixx on the cover of his famous book: "The Complete Book of Running". While my school colors were red I remember always having  the blue version. 

Red Onitsuka Tiger Marathons (

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Outdoor Retailer Summer 2011- Salomon Synapse Run your Hike, Hoka One One Stinson EVO Hybrid, Technica MAX trail runners and trekking boots.

A quick introduction to some of the trail running innovations on display at the recent Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

Salomon Synapse
Available Spring 2012 this 12 ounce $120 shoe recently took Jennifer Pharr-Davis through her 2200 mile, 46 day Appalachian Trail record. A record for this epic trail for anyone by almost 7 days!  Salomon gave me a pair of Synapse to try. A full review will follow but I am already finding the Synapse to be a great road to trail performer. I have run about 40 miles of road, hard pack gravel, and rocky single track in them. Equally adept on rough trails as pavement. While classified by Salomon as a "Run Your Hike" shoe due to a natural stride geometry  my quest for the one shoe to take for any run or adventure may be over. Not overly firm on the road as many trail shoes are yet totally stable and responsive on single track.  I can see how this became the AT record setter.

Hoka One One Stinson B EVO

I am a big fan of Hoka One One "clown shoes". I have tried the Mafates and the Bondi B. While the Bondi B is lighter than the Mafates I learned at OR that it also has a different rocker sole geometry, with the heel strike point further forward which favors a mid foot striking runner. As I found at Boston when you lose the mid foot I settled back onto my heels as I got tired I sank and leaned backwards. Not good.

The Stinson has the Mafates' midsole geometry with a new softer and more flexible upper and a hybrid sole which is more durable than the Bondi's EVA and has more pronounced lugs, yet not the lugs are not  so pronounced s that they are unsuitable for roads. Hoka calls them hybrids and I agree. I am running in a pair of the  first generation Stinson B/Combo XT now and finding them, much as the Salomon Synapse equally adept on roads and trails.  I will certainly consider the Stinsons for my next marathon.

The Stinson B EVO is a Spring 2012 model which does away with laces by using a cord system similar to Salomon's. has a slightly different upper and will feature the ability for the runner to drill small holes into the midsole to either make the sole more flexible or stiffer through the insertion of small plastic rods. Still under development this concept has real merit. I made my Bondi's a bit more flexible in the forefoot through cutting grooves in the midsole at the forefoot and sure could have used more heel firmness.

Current Model Stinson B

Spring 2012 Stinson EVO

Not particularly well known for running shoes Technica is in its second season with trail runners based in part on the same technology as Hoka: oversized outsoles, thick light cushioning  and rocker rolling technology. 

I saw the Spring 2012  Inferno MAX Ms, $140 330 grams which is about the same weight as the Synapse and Stinson. Lighter than the first generation Technica at 11.6 oz . The line also features lighter lower to the ground models all based on Technica's rolling energy transfer  technology: "TRS or Technica Rolling System"

Inferno Max Ms

Most impressive from Technica was an ultra light hiking/trekking boot based on the same oversize rolling technology, the TRS Max Hiker  Mid GTX. This 550 gram/ 19 oz  $190 boot/shoe would have been an even better choice than the Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX on our recent Chamonix to Zermatt trek. In 2009 I hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc in Hoka One One Mafates and found the day to day  recovery benefits a big plus although upper support and grip a bit lacking on the rockier rougher parts of the trail. The Chamonix to Zermatt trek is considerably rougher with many boulder fields so the high top, oversize outsole and cushion, and Vibram lugged sole of the MAX Hiker would have been ideal.

Technica MAX Hiker Mid GTX

Friday, August 05, 2011

Headed to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market

Off to Salt Lake. I will be spending Saturday at the Outdoor Retailer summer show, largely products which will show up at retailers Spring 2012. Human powered outdoor sports. All the gear, gadgets, shoes and apparel Most running companies are there too and this past winter I got some near scoops on among others the Saucony Peregrine and Hattori and the Hoka One Bondi.

I will be looking for post minimal yet low drop natural toe box trail and road runners, cooling fabrics, hydration gear, and the always unexpected innovations.

Anything you've heard rumored and want info about? Post a comment here and I will try to dig it up.

New Ways to Beat the Heat-CoolCore Sports Fabrics

A Portsmouth NH start up: CoolCore is introducing fabrics which claim to cool your core as you exercise.
 I have used a Craft T-shirt which makes some of the same claims and found it to be my day in day out go to shirt for our recent Chamonix to Zermatt trek. Call it a good micro climate but no discernable cooling effect.

I recently purchased a CoolCore bandana and put it to the test. The bandana was made of a felted material on one side and smooth fabric on the other much like a backpacker towel but more flexible. Wet with warm water, wring, snap. I was very surprised that within seconds the bandana which had been soaked in warm water turned distinctly cool to the touch. I wore it around my neck for several runs on warm days and it stayed cool and felt very pleasant. After "initiating" with the water  heat, sweat and motion continue the cooling effect. As I run hot any cooling effect has for sure a psychological effect. Remains to be seen what physiological effect occurs. As suggested on the CoolCore blog I also soaked the bandana, put in freezer for 5 minutes and used to reduce swelling on my sore knee. Sore from the Swiss trek and then a hard downhill on Spiro in Park City.

Moving to shirts made of the material, I contacted CoolCore and they were kind enough to send me a golf shirt. It was size large so not as form fitting and close to the skin as a medium might be. The material felt much like my Craft T-shirt: a bit slick but fairly thin. Not a mesh for sure. I did not soak the shirt for my first test as  Michael Simchik the CEO of CoolCore told me motion and sweat would activate the cooling effect. Temperature was a mild  70 F with relatively high humidity. After about 20 minutes of running, when the sweat got going, I definitely noticed a slight, almost tingly cool feeling on the skin where the fabric was wet. Further, testing in high temperatures are in order  but CoolCore is a very promising to cooling.  I tend to run hot and if core temperature can be reduced even a small amount, comfort and performance benefits should follow on a hot day. Not to speak that is it just more pleasant to be cooler!

How do they do it?  From the CoolCore web site Technology page:

"The fabric is engineered with a unique variety of fibers that when structured in a designed way creates a series of high-density capillary network, where the water molecules are absorbed deep into the fabric core and hydraulically compressed into the voids within the fabric. This void within the fibers creates an orientation of the water molecules in such a way that when the product is activated (snapped) it allows for maximum evaporative cooling to take place from the vibration of the snapping. At the same time, because of the uniqueness of the combination of different fibers and their reaction to one another, the suppression of water loss by evaporation (high absorption and wicking simultaneously) suspends the water within the fibers for an extended period of time."

CoolCore says their fabrics' cooling effect is achieved without chemicals, phase change materials, or polymers. There appears to be some anti-microbial effect but at least for the golf shirt not as effective as the all time winner, wool.

CoolCore does have t-shirts, bandanas, sport towels, etc... for sale on their web site but their longer term plan is to license the fabrics and technologies to apparel brands. 

Trip down my high school running lane-wonderful post by my team mate Ed Ernst

How much Running is Enough. Great blog post by high school cross country team mate Ed Ernst. The post focuses on how much mileage high school athletes should really do. I am the high mileage guy in the post. I always ran far more than my team mates in the summer and tended to peak earlier in the season. I was always race ready no matter the distance, even ran a 2:37 marathon at 17 and this before a great track season. Most of my long miles were easy and on trails or  long 8 hour run hikes in the White Mountains of NH.  I did mix in summer road races on a regular basis. The key for me and it is still is: the running was never a chore. It was always fun and a chance to explore. I think shooting for a mileage target is what leads to injuries and burnout. And, of course each runner tolerates a different load especially. Always run for fun.

Yes I ran long miles but each run stood on its own and I never really added or tracked weekly or monthly miles. I had great mentors in Coach Lovshin at Phillips Exeter for track and XC and Don Putnam the grand guru of long miles, trail expeditions and hard road racing.  They took a totally un athletic at 14 to a very decent XC, track, mountain, and marathon runner by 17.  Ed reminds me of the interval workouts and timed tempo runs Coach Lovshin had us do every week. And the fun long runs with Don Putnam. Still best training practices. They always looked and led by example towards a long term  picture of life long fitness yet with hard team oriented racing as Ed so eloquently describes.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nike+ SportsWatch GPS does different continents just fine

I was recently in Switzerland hiking Chamonix to Zermatt on the Walkers' Haute Route. Pictures of our trip here. While in Geneva I took my Nike+SportsWatch GPS for a run. I had not synched it to the computer since leaving the US. Signal was acquired in about 10 seconds and the run was tracked perfectly. Once back at the computer the run uploaded and mapped just fine. So, take your Nike+ SportsWatch on the road.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back from our Chamonix Zermatt trek on the Walkers' Haute Route across the Swiss Ailps

9 Days. 12 passes. 100 miles or so. 34,000 vertical feet. We had a great time and found new friends and fine food all along this incredible trail from Chamonix to Zermatt. A detailed trip and gear performance report in a few. In the meantime some pictures.
At the start at the Col de Balme near Chamonix

Some nasty boulder fields on this trek. Follow the white and red blazes

Grande Dixence dam seen from its lake. 935 feet high. 200,000,000 cubic feet of concrete!
Getting ready to tackle the Col de Reitmatten

Some fine trail work coming into the Zermatt Valley. Not all trails were this buff!
Les Hauderes- Every valley has different style chalets. Les Hauderes featured the "skyscraper" style.

Dominique above les Hauderes. 

At the finish in Zermatt

A link to our Picasa album with pictures of the trip here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time for the Mount Washington NH Road Race

Getting nervous for the classic "Only One Hill" race up Mount Washington this Saturday. This will be my 5th or 6th time running up the Rock Pile: 7.6 miles and 4,650 feet of unrelenting average 12% grade climb to the clouds.  It's only a 6280 foot mountain, right., but known for "The World's Worst Weather". My last run up was in 2007. My first 3 back were back in the 1970's when I won the junior titles.

Never know what to expect for weather. In 2002 during one of my other treks the race was called at the half way point due to icing on the road above timberline. Same thing happened in 1970's, or maybe it was the road was washing out so most had to run down from the top in the cold.

Great article about the Mount Washington Road Race "Because It's Steep" by Todd Balf in the June 2011 Runner's World. Really got me jittery as the article captures the unique nature and difficulty of this race perfectly. The pain starts immediately as the first half is very steep and usually hot and humid.  Above timberline, at about half ways, who knows. Right now the summit is reporting freezing fog and 32 F. Looks like Saturday will be warmer..

A race for every runner's bucket list! 

I will be running in Inov-8 Road X 255's. Loving this relatively low drop (9mm) shoe with a roomy natural and soft material toebox, wide forefoot, great "sticky rubber" outsole and outstanding mid foot support.

I have run roads, hard pack trails, and single track over the last 3 weeks and find the Inov-8 Road X 255's handle all terrains (except mud) fabulously. A review will follow.

Other gear to be decided race day depending on the conditions.

Time to Hike: Gear for Chamonix to Zermatt on Walker's Haute Route

We are off in a week or so for our annual "big" hike. This year we are tackling the Walker's Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Longer, higher,and tougher than the Tour du Mont Blanc which we did last year.  On the menu: 180 km (112 miles) and 12,000 meters (39,000 feet) of climbing. Of course incredible scenery. As with the Tour du Mont Blanc we will stay in a combination of mountain huts and inns in villages along the way. The first day will be in France and the rest of the way we will be in Switzerland.

As the route is rougher and higher than the Tour du Mont Blanc I am going to leave my trusty Hoka One One Mafates behind for a bit more rugged shoe, the Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX. GoreTex and about 15 oz per shoe, so not much heavier than a trail runner. A tune up hike in the XA Pro on Mount Moosilauke in NH this spring had me smiling. They were great on mud, snow and rock.
Salomon XA Pro Mid GTX

Trekking poles are key. Most all trekkers and European trail runners use them. I have retired my Leki Makalu and upgraded to the Black Diamond Distance fl Trekking Z Poles. The poles are super sturdy due to the cone shaped plastic inserts between sections and easily fold down in three parts to about 13".

Folding to such a small package is very handy for running or when traveling. They are very easy to fold by pushing a single spring loaded button.  They are close cousins of Black Diamond's easy to deploy avalanche probes. The "fl" stands for Flick Lock. The poles extend from 100-125cm. 125 cm is just about the right height for me when walking on moderate terrain as I am 5'10'' tall. Shorten for steep slopes. Two types of tips are provided: a hard plastic for most uses and a carbide screw in tip for icier terrain. Pop off the plastic tip and screw on the carbide. Unfortunately, the small basket cannot be replaced with a ski type basket. Black Diamond told me Z ski poles are coming this winter.

How To Video: Black Diamond Z-Poles from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nike+SportsWatch GPS Firmware Update: Average Pace!, Improved Instant Pace and Shoe Sensor Calibration

When I updated my Nike+SportsWatch GPS last week I received the following details for a firmware update:

Firmware Update 1.0.11

This update is required for all users of the Nike+ SportWatch GPS and includes the following:

• Adds average pace metric

• Improves instantaneous pace calculation when running with GPS and the Nike+ shoe sensor

• Improves auto-calibration of the Nike+ shoe sensor

• Fixes reset issue when charging with certain USB chargers

• Exits the lap summary screen when a button is pressed

• Fixes issue with calorie display during long workouts

• Additional minor bug fixes

Source: Nike+Connect Firmware Update "Details" when SportsWatch was connected.  

Update 5/30: I have now taken 5 runs with average pace and it seems to work just fine. This essential element makes the NIke+SportsWatch a far more complete running tool. 

Update 6/2: Ran with shoe sensor alone, GPS turned off,  after 5 runs and about 30 miles of shoe sensor and GPS which is how the sensor is supposed to get calibrated. Excellent results 5.93 miles exactly the same as measured by GPS. Previous to the firmware update the shoe sensor got dramatically inaccurate over time from factory default settings. In addition to indoors using the shoe sensor alone should be more accurate on  winding trails and where buildings and mountains can block the GPS signal. Will next test on single track trails.

Instantaneous pace appears far less erratic although I rarely use this metric. 

I am still seeing inconsistencies in GPS track ( takes a 1/4 mile or so to lock on to exact path/road) and heart rate (first 5-10 minutes have all kinds of spikes).

Nice update Nike! 

Now if stats on the smaller upper line could scroll... or one could pick both the smaller upper metric and the lower larger one on auto lap.  I find I am constantly pressing the button to see distance, heart rate and pace when on auto lap as the larger bottom area remains dedicated to the current lap time

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The only Peregrines on the trail today were the Saucony kind but I did see 2 great blue herons, 5 beaver dams, a huge goose, 1 runner, and 2 walkers

Took a drive over the Newmarket NH to run the  Sweet Trail, a new out and back trail of about 8.5 miles. Named after donors it is Sweet indeed.

Through magnificent forests lined with old stone walls.

 By at least 6 glacial and beaver created ponds

and over ancient stone bridges

I saw 2 giant blue herons take flight, a very noisy goose, heard lots of other birds, and saw only a few other people the whole time. The beaver dams were impressive and well built.

The Sweet Trail crosses 2 towns, Newmarket and Durham, and is entirely on conservation and NH Fish and Game lands. Mellow single track on pine needles with some roots and rocks of course. This is New England after all!

 In the 1970's Aristotle Onassis the oil tycoon, proposed building one of the world's largest oil refineries on this land by Great Bay.  A plaque deep in woods marks where the center of the refinery complex would have been. This spot would have been in the middle of some huge tanks. Well, the locals stopped him dead in his tracks and since then various organizations have preserved this land.

This would have been the center of a $600 million oil refinery

Oh yes the shoes, almost forgot them: Saucony Pro Grid Peregrines. I have previously reviewed them in depth here.  This was my first run on New England trails in them and they performed just fine. Good grip on all but slick wet rock. Climb well. Plenty of rock stab protection for this type of trail. 

I used my Nike+SportsWatch in the woods and under tree cover for the first time. I have posted several times about the Nike+SportsWatch  here and here and with the exception of not showing average run pace I have been very impressed with its ease of use and flexibility.  I was planning on clocking the out leg and comparing distance to the return but got off on a side trail I could not resist.
Start the Sweet Trail off Bay Road in Newmarket about 1 mile from center of town.
With the exception of a short segment on the return where the tracks don't overlap exactly the GPS seemed to handle tree cover and lots of turns just fine.