Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Blog by Ed Ayers- Endurance and Sustainability

Just started following a new blog, Endurance and Sustainability written by Ed Ayers, the founding editor of Running Times and at 70 an active competitor in ultras. From the name of the blog: Endurance and Sustainability one can see that Mr. Ayers is taking a deeper look at the importance of endurance, patience, and connection to our natural world and the relevance of "endurance" to the larger problems facing society.

Some excerpts from his latest post Distance Running and ...National Defense

"What we runners and other endurance athletes (bicyclists, hikers, cross-country skiers, mountain climbers, et al.) have going for us is a knowledge of physical and mental discipline that, if shared with more of our underexercised fellow citizens of the world, can do more for our longevity, health, quality of life and, yes -- security -- than a pumped-up military budget ever could or will.  "

 "I don't mean that we all need to be endurance athletes to have that kind of security.  But humans, by nature, need regular aerobic exercise.  By nature, we need lean diets, not loaded up with sugar, salt, fat, and chemicals.  And, by nature, we need to have closer connection, from our feet to our lungs, hearts, and brains, to the natural world with which we co-evolved and on which we are entirely dependent for life."

"There's a strong connection between the endurance and patience of individuals (what we learn as long-distance runners) and the long-run sustainability of our society.  For instance, consider the national debt.  We know that if we sprint, without pacing ourselves, we build up oxygen debt and hit the wall in 2 to 3 minutes max.  If we learn the secrets of efficiency, we can run for hours.  Those facts aren't the policies of a government or the rules of a sport.  They are the laws of nature.  After 3 million years of human evolution, we are suddenly in peril, not from terrorism, but from disconnection with what really keeps us alive.  It's late in the day, but maybe there's still time to re-learn what our ancient, far-wandering hunter-gatherer ancestors long understood."

I have always believed that the connection to the natural world and our neighbors, one foot step at a time, as we run our routes and trails is key to balance in life and understanding of place and environment. Nothing more exhilarating and grounding than landing in a new place and discovering it on the run.

The general disconnect of many in our society with our motorized, air conditioned, indoor, and internet connected lives from endurance and the outdoors is leading to rampant over consumption, debt, obesity, national insecurity, impulsive behavior and greed. According to Ayer these trends are not good for our security and our health: physical, fiscal.  I agree.

While I am some times forced inside to the dreadmill and the noise and clutter of the fitness club it is just not the same as being outside. Rarely do I interact with anyone despite the crowds.  Neither is running the same loop over and over mechanically looking at pace, heart, and stride rate on  gadgets. 

We all need to vary, explore, discover, consider what we see, hear and feel on the run. And not just experienced runners.. Take a stressed out "program following"  newbie runner out for a new route on a trail they might never have tried on their own.  Go without the iPod earbuds. You'll hear what is around you, including the oncoming cell phone yakking SUV drivers. If more lost the ear bud bubble you could even hail and join a runner on your route and find a new training buddy and friend.  Stop and talk to a neighbor  even if it interrupts your workout for a few. Observe what is around you not just the time on the watch and pavement ahead.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Less than 8 weeks to Boston Marathon- Great article on dangers of the long hard run

My friend and training buddy Ed Knapp has posted the second in his series on the pitfalls facing competitors in the run up to the Boston Marathon. Eddie has run 59 marathons, starting after age 40, including 35 Boston qualifiers. Today's article concerns the dangers of long runs and pre testing in the next few weeks. A must read here

Monday, February 21, 2011

Update Review Hoka One One Bondi-B

Have now gotten in 3 runs in the Bondi-B including now 2 tempo runs on the road. I am finding them far more responsive than the Mafates. Road shock is almost completely attenuated yet the feel is still lively. I am able to run at a good cadence of 177-180 strides per minute. Upper is very comfortable. Lacing is easy and secure. The shoe is stiff yet the rocker sole works as intended. I think with further break in, flex will soften the flex a bit.

Not sure I would try a 10K in them but a for sure a half marathon and my plan is to run Boston in them in April. I continue to marvel ( I also have several hundred miles including roads in the original Mafate trail shoe)  that no matter what the workout the next day legs appear fresher with no soreness, apart occasionally in the feet due to the stiffness, than in any other shoe I have run in. This indicates and Karl Meltzer proved this with his 2064 mile in 40 days Pony Express Trail run that Hokas are a great shoe for  both high mileage and recovery runs.

My other posts on Bond-B are here:
First Run Review
Outdoor Retailer Bondi-B article

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Run Review-Hoka One One Bondi-B "Maximalist" Natural Running Shoe

Karl Meltzer of Pony Express Trail run fame and Hoka One One runner announced on his blog   that Wastach Running Center in Salt Lake had the new Bondi-B road runner in stock. I went over today and purchased a pair.  They told me they are selling fast and they will ship if one doesn't live local to Salt Lake.

I had previously posted about the Bondi-B as part of my Outdoor Retailer coverage and have very much enjoyed almost 500 miles in first generation Hoka One One Mafates. I have run trails and roads and hiked in these super light 10.8 oz "maximalist" shoes and find them particularly well suited to long runs on the road and trail. Legs stay fresh no matter what you throw at them.

My first run in the Bondi-B on the Basin Rec. Fieldhouse track in Park City did not disappoint.
Hoka One One Bondi-B Road Running Shoe

Fit and Construction:
Wider, less constrained toe box than Mafates or for that matter most shoes I have recently run in. Less stitching and more welded overlays. While the Mafates sometimes cramped the front side of the foot the Bondis have a far more open construction. They will breathe well and as feet stretch there will be some give. They do fit 1/2 size small. This was true for me and for the person who fitted me at Wasatch.

The outer sole is comprised of orange more durable wear areas in the  heel and forefoot between blown softer EVA of the midsole. Traction should be great on the road. Remains to be seen how they perform on the trails. Karl Meltzer just completed his fastest 100 mile ever in a pair on a relatively (for him) trail course.

Run Feel:
8.8 oz with a near zero forefoot to heel drop of 4mm.  As light as many racing flats with amazing cushioning which doesn't feel mushy. They are not only 20% lighter than Mafates but 10% firmer and in my 4 mile run this made a big difference. Much more responsive with a run feel more like a conventional shoe but with no perceptible shock. While the Mafates were great on long slower runs at speed they felt somewhat boaty. I did not run fast tonight after a long run Saturday and an uphill nordic ski Sunday but Bondi-B sure felt snappy.

Hokas are stiff and use the rocker angle of the sole to get one's stride over the mid foot. I found that this approach requires getting used to at longer distances, for me over 13 miles, as while legs felt great to the end pace seems difficult to maintain.  I think Bondis will be easier to tame as they are lighter and have a bit less cushioning . My next tempo I will crank up and speed and report. My plan is to run Boston in the Bondi-B if I can get them up to speed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

8 Weeks to the Boston Marathon - Common Mistakes on the Road to Boston

My friend Fasteddie Knapp with 58 marathons in 17 years including several Boston Marathons has great advice for runners preparing for Boston. In his first post  he covers the most common mistake in the run up to Boston: overtraining.

First Review: Salomon XT S-Lab Advanced Skin Hydration Pack- A Second Skin it Truly Is

I previously posted about the Salomon XT S-Lab Advanced Skin Pack I saw at Outdoor Retailer.  The pack looked like an incredibly well thought out and engineered solution to hydration and gear carry while running long distances on trail or road. It was designed with help from Kilian Joret one of the best ultra runners in the world. Gear Zone just got them in stock and I purchased one. After my first long run I am extremely pleased with this (pricey) piece of gear.

Today I took it on a 18 mile plus run in Park City, Utah. My route took me from Willow Creek Park to the Park City Rail Trail and then onto the incredible groomed multi use trails in Round Valley. 85% perfectly groomed snow trails, rest roads. See my Park City winter running post for general map details.

My first impressions:

Not just marketing speak when Salomon calls this an Advanced Skin. The chest area is wide open with just 2 elastic straps.  Easy breathing. The shoulder harness curves sharply towards the lower back eliminating all bouncing and side to side movement. Even with the full 1.5 liter bladder the sensation is unlike any pack I have worn. Stable, snug, and without any rubbing, at least over my two light wool layers.

In addition to the 1.5 liter bladder I carried a windbreaker. The 2 zip pockets to the right and left are a bit small and hard to reach

Note front fit. Where's the Pack?  Arms never rubbed or bumped pack. Easy reach pockets (white) in front : I put my phone in one and gels in the other 

Hydration System:
The Source hydration system is very easy to fill and remove. Quick disconnect in middle of lower back. Not a screw or push on valve but an actual mechanical release by button push which seals off the bottom of the bladder.  Pull the bladder in its insulated (back side only) sleeve out. Roll open and fill.

The insulated hose goes under the arm and up towards the mouth. A dirt guard covers the nozzle.  The Source literature says that the insulation serves 2 purposes: keeps water cooler in heat and from freezing in cold but also prevents build up of microbes in the harder to clean hose. In fact if you only use water there is no need to clean the hose or bladder after use.

To get water bite lightly and suck. Again a mechanical valve which opens on bite and closes when released. No leaking during my run. The dirt guard slips over the nozzle and prevents accidental pressing on the valve. Worked like a charm.

The 2 holster pockets on the front are most useful. I used one for my phone/GPS and the other for my gels. They are large enough for water bottles.  Given their angling towards the middle of the chest I don't think my arms will bump them but have to test. They secure with a pull.  The 2 rear zippered stretch pockets are small and a bit hard to reach on the run. 2 additional zip stretch pockets are supplied. They attach to the top of the front shoulder straps by velcro. I was going to use them for my phone but worried they might come off due to the cords running underneath. If they are secure, a clever touch as one can just rip them off to get at whatever is inside. The pack is also supplied with an emergency blanket and whistle.

Price and Availability: $180. Spring 2011

Shoe du Jour:
North Face Single Track. A fine shoe for snow running and mixed road non technical trails.

I was well hydrated and fed during the entire 3:20 run. Never had to fiddle or break stride to get at what I needed. Finished the run strong.

Mountain Trails Foundation  and Rick the groomer and trails master (below in action)  for incredible trails.  Hundreds were enjoying Round Valley on the run, at a walk, on nordic skis, snowshoes, even on mountain bikes on a beautiful sunny day in Park City.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Sorry but I have to Run" : Newspaper article about my Park City friend Fasteddie Knapp

Eddie is quite the character.
Eddie with famous Triple Trail Challenge Green Jacket
A great runner and one of only 2 people who have completed all 5 Park City Triple Trail Challenges- 18 mile round trip to the top of Park City Jupiter Peak , Park City Half, and the Mid Mountain Trail Marathon all in the space of  less than 8 weeks each summer.

Eddie is working back from  his June 2010 partial compartmental knee replacement using a Conformis knee.  He  completed his 5th Triple Trail Challenge last summer within 3 months of the operation and the St. George Marathon ( his 14th St George) all within 4 months of the knee replacement. It wasn't pretty or fast but he go it done.

Recovering  quite nicely indeed, adding 2 marathons on the bionic knee in 2010 to his tally of previous 56 in less than 18 years starting at age 41.  And best of all his is stride is coming back. Eddie was instrumental  in getting me back into competitive running shape and is a wonderful host with his wife Linda when I am out in Park City for work.

The Park Record newspaper published a major profile about Eddie during Sundance Film Festiva weekl no less.

Have you had a knee replacement or are considering one? Eddie will chime in to this post with his thoughts and comments here and on his blog:

Monday, February 07, 2011

Winter Running Clothing-Go Nordic Ski and Wool

  1. Snug fitting base layer is the key.
  2. Look for a base layer with some texture. Slick tech t-shirts and even some wool t-shirts tend to get cold and clammy when wet in the winter. Only real way to tell is to touch in the store.
  3. Anything wool: IbexIcebreakerSmartWool or base layers from Craft, nordic ski experts. They know how to manage moisture and keep you comfortable in the cold as there is nothing which gets the engine going like nordic skiing. Look for a wool base layer of weight less than 190 grams square meter. My favorite l base layers are a wool Icebreaker GT 150 g/m2 long sleeve and a Craft Zero Extreme Concept.  The super fine merino wool now used in performance apparel is naturally anti microbial so it can be worn for several days before washing and it is not scratchy. The Craft, while not wool manages moisture incredibly well due to its texture and venting panels, and while super light is warm and form fitting.
  4. Anything intended for nordic skiing. Brands such as Swix, Craft,  Patagonia. 
  5. If it is in the high 20's or above I wear 3/4 length light compression pants and  knee high compression socks. If it is colder I wear light windproof front, light spandex back nordic ski pants such as the Swix Star Advanced  Not as snug fitting as tights so room for long underwear (wool) underneath if really cold.
  6. Over dressing and overheating leads to over sweating and wet. If the weather is not windy I run in a long sleeve full zip wool bike jersey similar to the Ibex Giro with rear pockets over a wool or Craft base layer. The full zip allows easy temperature regulation on the go.  I also look for long sleeves which are easy to roll up on the go. I also often wear an Icebreaker GT wool vest over a light base layer. If the weather is windy I layer over the Swix Star Advanced jacket or a Patagonia Houdini jacket which compresses down to about the size of a hat.
  7. Look for pockets as between hats, phones, gloves on and off, nutrition you will need them.
  8. Feet stay warm on the move and even  weather resistent shoes will tend to get wet, unless you use a trail gaiter. Even snowshoeing. I never buy weather resistant shoes as I want them to also be comfortable when it is warm.
  9. Light wool hat  if it cold, below 25. A Buff for everything above 25 and that also means all the way into high summer temperatures. I do the pirate hat look. Buffs are a light fabric tube which can be configured in many ways.  Buffs come in CoolMax, Merino, and microfiber in all kinds of wild designs.  If it is really sunny I can wear a running cap over the Buff.  There is now a merino buff which is longer and can also serve as a neck warmer/balaclava for really cold days. On a long run take a second Buff or the wool hat to put on when the first is wet. 
  10. Light wool liner gloves for most days. I use nordic ski racing gloves from Swix for colder days and when it is really cold the wool liners go inside the nordic gloves. Don't get a super insulated nordic glove but size up a bit if need be and make sure your liners will fit comfortably and your fingers can move.
  11. If roads are partially snow covered or shoulders are slick but roads clear run in trail shoes.
  12. Bright colors, reflective accents to stay safe.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

From Runblogger: New Trends in the Prevention and Treatment of Running Injury, and a Healthy Dose of Natural Running

Pete Larson of Runblogger, one of the best if not the best scientific running blogs out there has a great summary of the recent running injury and natural running summit Pete attended in West Virginia.  Key points:

  • Moderation in changing training and surfaces and listening to aches and pains. 
  • More natural running gear- lower heel toe drop less constructed shoes, also adopted in moderation, 
are the keys to healthier and happier athletics in general and running.

As Pete summarized any change should be "Gradual and Progressive"

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A Shout Out to Tim Kelley-Alaska's Endurance Legend.

Tim and I were at Dartmouth together. Tim was on the US Nordic Ski Team.  I ran cross country and track. Together we ran the rough and rocky trails of the White Mountains of NH in the summer when few if any did anything other than hike in heavy boots. Tim convinced me to leave behind the dusty lungs of indoor track at Leverone Field House to try nordic ski racing.

While a Vermonter, Tim has been in Alaska since 1981 and he is never standing still. His passion: non technical first ascents of peaks in Alaska on the run and epic skis: 60, 100, or more miles on performance race gear.  His website Alaska Performance Backcountry Skiing  chronicles his  trips in fascinating historical and natural detail and with wonderful photographs.  Extreme efforts but also fresh fun and exploration.

A quote about Tim from "Passion for Skiing", a history of Dartmouth Skiing:

Tim Kelley '79 is an extreme skier of another sort. He explores Alaska on cross-country racing skis, often for long stretches in remote corners of the state. In 1990, Tim and a friend, Bob Baker of Fairbanks, skied all 1,149 miles of the famous Iditarod dog sled trail in 23 days in a race against two bikers – and won; this was the first recorded human-powered race of the full length of the Iditarod Trail. In 1993, he became first to cross-country ski the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest trail from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, a 20-day outing.
After having climbed Denali in 1984, he developed a passion for climbing more of Alaska's still-unclimbed peaks, and in 2008 he was awarded the Mountaineering Club of Alaska's Vin Hoeman award for achieving a record 91 documented first ascents, the most by any climber to date. Tim maintains his Alaskan ski blog to share his expertise and passion for Alaskan ski exploration on lightweight cross-country skis.
Keep Striding and Exploring Tim!

Correct Toes:Initial Review- Solutions for Problem Running Feet?

Nicole, one of my training buddies when I am in Park City, has been testing the Correct Toes spacers I found in the Altra Running booth at Outdoor Retailer. 
Nicole is a competitive runner qualified for the Boston Marathon who has a "top tapper" running style and partially as a result of this suffers from several foot problems. Her running background is at the end of the article. Nicole has kindly provided this guest initial review of the  Correct Toes.

"Given my long history of foot problems, I was very intrigued when my friend Sam brought me a pair of Correct Toes to test from Outdoor Retailer.  The packaging proclaims they can “prevent and cure foot problems without surgery, orthotics, or medication.”  My foot problems started with a bunion on the big toe of my left foot about ten years ago.  Three years ago, I developed a second metatarsal stress fracture, also in my left foot.  After recovering from the fracture, I began having problems with plantar fasciitis in my right foot, more than likely as a result of switching to shoes with too much stability to prevent further fractures.  During an interval workout at the local track, I landed incorrectly and damaged the joint capsule in the exact same spot I had the stress fracture.  

For the past two years, I’ve had on and off pain, swelling, and numbness in this area.  About six months ago, I noticed the toe next to it was starting to atrophy.  Finally, a bunion developed on the little toe of my left foot as well.  Clearly, Correct Toes has its work cut out for it.  I laughed a bit at the “before” illustration of a foot in the incorrect position on the box.  My left foot makes the foot in the drawing look perfect.  I’m not looking for a miracle, but if Correct Toes can provide me with any relief, I’m willing to give them a shot.

  Upon removing the product from the box, my first impression was that they look like the toe spacers one would use for a pedicure.  However, after further inspection, the design makes great sense- separating the toes will allow them to become stronger and alleviate or prevent biomechanical deficiencies.  In addition to separating the toes, Correct Toes also surrounds them and stays in place as you walk and during sleep.  The flexible silicone really allows them to fit feet of any shape. 

  I assumed there would be some discomfort involved in wearing them.  I was pleasantly surprised to find them comfortable from the first time I wore them.  As instructed, I used them for an hour the first day.  On the second day, I wore them all night (note: the packaging recommends only adding an hour per day of use.)  They didn’t irritate me or cause pain.  I quickly forgot I was wearing them and slept as normal.  When I woke up the next morning and removed the Correct Toes, I discovered there were still spaces between my toes.  Several hours later, I went to put on my running shoes and there was still a bit of space between my toes.  I’ve continued to wear them every night and have also been wearing them around the house.  

  After using Correct Toes for a week, I’m optimistic.  Even after such a short amount of time, my toes seem to be getting stronger and more flexible.  The pain I typically experience in my second toe has subsided.  Although the packaging warns that one might experience soreness in other muscles as you begin using them, I haven’t experienced anything out of the ordinary. The results so far have motivated me to continue using Correct Toes and I look forward to reporting my results. 

Nicole's Running Background:

I started running 10 years ago in an effort to get in shape.  I didn’t begin racing until five years ago after deciding to run a half marathon with my sister.  I ran my first half in 2:04.  Later that year, I ran my first marathon in 4:19.  I continued to race, primarily in half marathons until moving to Utah from Minnesota in 2007.  I refused to race for two years because the altitude and hills slowed my times significantly and I assumed I would never surpass my half PR (1:54) under these conditions.  Fortunately, I met up with fellow runners Sam and Eddie who showed me the “way” of speed and hill training.  I began doing regular intervals and tempo runs on the local track and eventually learned to love trail running as well.  In 2009, I ran a 3:37 at the St. George Marathon (Boston qualifier.)  Last Spring, I set a new PR at the Salt Lake City Half with a time of 1:39.  I’m currently training for Boston.  My winter training plan consists of intervals on the track on Tuesday nights (usually 400s and 800s), tempo runs on the track on Thursday nights, and long runs outside on the weekends.  I run other days of the week at an easy pace, primarily on the track.  Unfortunately, the track is 8 laps to the mile and running all those corners has aggravated my many foot problems. "