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6 Things Every Runner Should Have

April 13th, 2012
Running Gear

Running gadgets, clothes and shoes can make a world of a difference in comfort and performance. From the pros to the weekend warriors there are key things every running should not be without.

  1. Shoes - Although there are a few barefoot runners out there who this one won’t apply to but for most of us we need shoes and we need a good pair. Many runners don’t realize there are specific shoes that you should and should not be wearing based on your foot structure and your gait
    (the way you run or walk). Visit your local running specialty store to find out what shoes are best for you.
  2. Shorts - Yes, we should all be wearing short. Another obvious one here. I promise these will be better. And for you ladies a top is needed too, sorry.
    Another quick note, many runners would state that “short” running shorts are a necessity but I would disagree. But then again I’m the guy who runs in long basketball shorts and runs a 2:30 something marathon. So my choices in personalized apparel might be a bit extravagant. :)
  3. GPS Watch - When I first started running we didn’t have any fancy GPS watches just our old simple timers (although rarely but some runners did have custom sports pedometers). Now-a-days GPS watches have become a vital part of training and racing. They’re a key component in ensuring you’re staying on your training pace and an amazing tool for race days.
  4. Salt - You may be wondering why this is on the list. I believe many runners suffer from lack of salt intake. In fact a few years back Runner’s World and other respectable sources where claiming runners where drinking too much water in endurance races, such as the marathon. I believe this was an inaccurate assessment. More likely the issue was that the runners where replacing their water loss from sweat but not also replenishing their lost salt. In fact if you’ve been around the block a few times you might remember sports coaching giving out salt tablets at practices. Today, salt seems to have been lost. It’s time to bring it back!
  5. Emergency Power Gel/Bar - Not all of us train or race with power gels or bars. Some of us don’t like them or don’t need them while other swear by them. Either way you should have some sort of emergency energy food source with you either on your person while running or easily assessable when you finish. Many times we finish a workout and have depleted our energy, electrolytes and other important minerals to a point where they are dangerously low. Having an emergency gel, bar or whatever you fancy can be a Godsend in a time of need.
  6. Water - In many cases carrying water on your person will interfere with your training but you should at least have available water sources near you while running and at very least something around where you finish. I would suggest making it a habit of running near parks and other places with outdoor water fountains. This is especially vital if you live and run in areas where the weather can get quite hot.

So there you have my list of things every runner should have. Now what are your thoughts…What things do you think are a much for every running? What could you not run without? Personally I can’t do without my Garmin, my shoes, some “long” shorts, and my running log.

5 Reasons You Should Not Wear Vibram FiveFingers Shoes

April 2nd, 2012

Minimalist shoes seems to be all the crazy as of lately. But instead of going hand and glove with the fad I would like to play a little devil’s advocate here and look at whether we should be wearing minimalistic shoes such as Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes.

But first let’s give a little background on how this minimalistic shoe crazy got started. It all seems to have started with the publication of the book Born to Run. Although there were shoes well before this that had a minimalistic theme, it’s crazy in the running world did not seem to start until after this book was published in 2009. Born to Run is about ultra marathon running and an Indian tribe in Mexico called the Tarahumara. After researching this tribe and other ultra marathoners, the author discovers that that they way we run and the shoes we use can be changed to better our performance. One such finding is that more minimalistic shoes or even bare foot can prevent injury and improve athletic performance. Here is where I differ from the option of the author.

I believe there are some people who are perfect for minimalistic shoes but on the converse are those who, like me, are going to get injury if we attempt to go down that approach. So here in are my 5 reasons you should not wear minimalistic shoes.

  1. Your Foot Shape - Everyone has a different foot shape. Some people have a high arch and other don’t. I for one don’t have much if any arch. I’m a flat footer. The Vibram’s shoe has a very high arch which obviously would not do well for someone like me. Checkout the arch of your foot and see if it matches up to the minimalist shoe you want to wear.
  2. Your Gait - Again we all have a different gait. Your gait is the way you move your body through the motions of running or walking. Some people tend to swing legs and feet out, other do it to the inside. These things can and will effect how your foot hits the ground and what part of the foot sees the most blunt force of your body coming in contact with the road or trail. Most people need extra support to make sure their foot and leg hit in an evenly on the ground. This is something which many specialty running shoes help to correct. Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes don’t have any way of helping someone correct this. Although some will argue that it’s because they have worn shoe their whole life that have caused the problem. Either way we have this issue and it’s not going to go away by wearing minimalistic shoes.
  3. Shoe History - Your shoe history and what shoes you have worn in the past can make you a bad candidate for minimalistic shoes and the Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes. Think about it if your feet and gait have been use to running in the same or similar pair of shoes for years and you then try to change that up there are bound to be some problems. If anything you would want to start wearing these types of shoes on a gradient until you have time to adjust to the difference.
  4. Lack of Padding - Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes and many minimalistic shoes lack necessary padding to properly support the foot strike on surfaces such as pavement. Additionally things like broken glass and other sharp objects can easily break through the Vibram shoes and injury your foot. Make sure to keep a custom first aid for your feet on hand, just in case. It has also been noted by some that the lack of ankle support can lead to twisting and ankle injuries. Another issue regarding padding is the heel drop of the shoe. For many of us we have gotten use to running and walking in shoes that have a very high heel. You can check this out by comparing a standard running shoe with a minimalistic shoe. Notice the angle of the heel and which one has a high heel. That heel drop angle can place a greater amount or lesser amount of strain on your leg and calf muscles. You should make sure the heel drop angle is suitable for you.
  5. Poor Fitting - Many Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes wears have voice concerns that the shoes, although meant to be more of a glove than a shoe, it doesn’t seem to fit like a glove. Some areas of the shoe are tight and others seem loose.

Honestly when it comes down to it, the Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes might very well be the shoe for you but I believe it’s not necessarily the shoe for most people. To tell if these shoes or other minimalistic shoes are right for you, stop by your local running store and have them watch you run and then determine what type of shoe would be best for your feet and gait as well as the distances you normally run or race at. Make sure to bring your personalized sports towel and other gear just in case they have your run a mile or more.

What Do You Think About the Emailed Running Mileage Stats

June 22nd, 2011

So what do you think about the running mileage stats that get emailed to you once a week. We missed a week or two there of getting those out to you as we are still developing the infrastructure to send them out once a week to you (there’s quite a few of you running signed up with us out there :).

Do you have any suggestions or comments about the stats? We are going to try and set this up so it will automatically be sent on either Monday or Tuesday of the week. So you’ll get last week’s totals and stats at the beginning of the week. How does that sound?

How to Run a PR Race

September 27th, 2010

I’m sure every runner would like to run their PR race every race they do. Unfortunately that does not always happen to be the case or even really the norm. But what I would like to let you in on is a little secrete on how to start running your PR.

So first off let’s take a look at your recent racing. Have you been trying and trying to run that one PR time and just keep falling short or can’t get over that hump? I know for me that has been the case for some time in some of the distances I race in.

But I’ve recently figured out what the problem was. You have to take this all back to the basics and look at what your technology is for running. Do you have a technology? Meaning what is it what you can do which will 100% of the time produce that PR and of course being legal/ethical. If you don’t know what that is off the top of your head you need to find out.

Think about it… how can you expect to run a (insert time here) if you are not even sure how to train for it or what other things you should be doing to ensure you get your PR.

So the basic first step in all this is to find out what is the exact science or technology behind running your PR race. And that might be getting the right fitting shoes, doing some weight-lifting, running such and such mileage, etc…

But how do you find out what that it? Well you can first start by asking other runners then take a look at some books (there are some great books on training out there) and if all that still turns up no answers then you must figure out or develop the training and science.

One last note on this, it’s key to understand, know and recognize you might come across information or data that just does not work, basically data that does not get you to reach your PR, and it might be advertised that it will work. So your going to have to really check things out, find out from others… did this thing work or not.

Well hope that helps and please let me know, I’d love to here you got your PR :).

And make sure to log it in your running log.

Guys Are Allowed to Run the Nike Women’s Marathon

September 24th, 2010

I was shocked when I found this out. It did not even cross my mind that men could run this race. But I don’t know why you would, especially after I give you more details.

I recently stumbled across a blog post about Men Want to Be Princesses, Too, detailing all about men running the Nike Women’s Marathon. And of course being a guy myself, run this race and the idea of being a princesses just does not appeal to me!

But anyways, Nike does allow men to run the race. Although the race awards and giveaways are not general neutral. Meaning you still get “free pedicures at the race expo, Tiffany necklaces (in place of a finisher’s medal) handed out by tuxedo-clad firefighters at the finish, and feminine-looking giveaway shirts.” That does not sound like something me or most guys would want.

On the other hand running a race which does not have many male entries could be a plus. I could definitely see the benefit of running such a race. Think about it how many races have a low number of male runners in them. Not too many of any that I can recall. Most races have many male runners and sometimes a lower number of females participants.

If it was only as good as that… I mean I guess you could just avoid all the girly stuff they give away and just run the race. But you from what I’ve heard some of the top male finishers sometimes get booed or heckled. Not very sportsman like but of course you are running a women’s race.

I wonder if at some point Nike will do a Men’s only race? But then again a good deal of races feature more men then women so I don’t think the chance of having such a race is too high.

Car Etiquette Around Runners

September 23rd, 2010

You may wonder why I would write a post on car etiquette unless you’ve had some run-ins of your own with cars when running. I’ve had the unfortunate experiences of running and having cars (people in cars) doing stupid or dangerous things to me and around me while running. I guess it just comes with the territory if you’re running everyday on the roads in busy areas.

So here are my top 5 etiquette rules all automobile drivers should follow in order to make it a safer place for runners and drivers alike. And yes, I have actually experience each and everyone of these happening to me. So I have reality with why these rules should be followed.

  1. Don’t throw things out the window intentionally or unintentionally while you’re around people running on or near the road. Yes, I’ve actually had people throw things out the window intentionally at me while I was running - not fun.
  2. Do not swerve intentionally or unintentionally in the direction of someone running near or on the road. It’s just bad taste to swerve, even for fun at a runner. Think of it this way, how you would like it if you’re doing a working, concentrating on running at a certain speed and time and then all of a sudden someone pulls their car, swerving at you. It’s distracting and pulls your attention off what you’re trying to do. Besides the fact you could actually hit the person. So please do not do this.
  3. Understand runners may be running on the road and will be running facing you. This is the correct way by law to run on the road. That means runners will be on the left hand side of the road running towards your vehicle while your driving head-on towards them. This allows both parties to see each other thus in theory making it safer. I honestly have had people yell at me for running this correct way. I can’t understand how these people passed their driver’s test when they think I’m in the wrong for running facing them on the left hand side of the road.
  4. Before pulling out of any parking lot, place of business, side street or taking a left or right hand turn look not just for cars on the road but people running on sidewalks, people in crosswalks who may be in your path. Yield to these people. Sadly I have been hit twice by people pulling out of parking lots not looking if someone was running on the sidewalk to the left or right of their car. Drivers please be more aware!
  5. Don’t yell things out the window at runners. I don’t understand the fascination with yelling at runners while you pass them in your car. There is no need to be childish. We are not impressed with you since you can yell obscenities at me while I’m doing my workout. It just makes me think you are incapable of running and therefore jealous of me and have to lash out since you can’t run. It just makes you look stupid.
  6. Don’t puff cigarettes intentionally out your window in the direction of a runner or throw them at runners. There is no need for this. We know you are unhealthy and don’t want other to be healthy so you do this intentionally to make a point. It’s really childish and should just not be done.
  7. Don’t flash or reveal private parts to runners passing by in your car. Yes, again I have had this happen to me several times. Really I’m faltered that you would do that but please I don’t need to see that while I’m trying to do a workout. It actually does not produce the effect your looking for. I’m actually discussed with you when you do this.
  8. Don’t stop or slow your car down in a way as to make it look like you’re going to give us a ride. We don’t want a ride, we are doing a workout and wish to not be disturbed.
  9. If we are running fast, speed-workout or seem to be really concentrating on running please don’t pull you’re car up beside us and try to talk to us or ask for directions. I can understand if we look like we are just out for a jog or running and seem like we could talk but many times we are concentrating on running and you pulling your car up beside us is distracting and pulls us off our pace. Just use good judgment as to if it would be okay to talk to a runner.
  10. If there is a race going on, get your car out of the race way. It’s extremely rude to leave your car parked or be driving on the same part of the road which is blocked off for a race and it’s extremely dangerous. Just to drive this point home, I’ve even had a co-worker do this to me and others in a race once. Then at work he was bragging about how he did this until he found out I was in the race and was not happy about what happened. Then he realized what he had done. So don’t do it I know you would not do it to a friend.
  11. Don’t do anything you would not want done to you when you’re running - whether you are a runner or not.

What’s In Your Marathon Mind

September 22nd, 2010

I recently have been thinking about what goes into running a marathon, mentally. After just completing another marathon (Erie Marathon in PA) and going through the all to common battle of the mind to break free of that fabled “wall” we all dread at about around mile 20, I’ve realized that the marathon is really a mind race. Truly if your mentally in there fighting you will do good and come out on top.

It’s funny to look back and see how little things during such a stressful and long race can make a big impact. Myself I found that even though I might think I’m doing really bad during the race, sometimes I’m not running as slow as I might think. Has this ever happened to you?

If so I now know from experience you should ignore it and just run your race and pretend as if you’re running wonderfully and running the pace and time you want or at least never give up on the possibility you get reach that time or pace even if it seems almost impossible with what you have already run during that race. It’s never impossible!

One of the things we seem to forget is a marathon is really a long race and there is actually a lot of room for making up on mistakes and such you may have made during the way.

So as to not ramble on too much about this. I suggest really keeping strong mentally in a marathon, in fact I would say it’s one of the most important things. Its really funny, I’ve made that mistake… as I was so concentrated on other aspects of the race (my legs, food, water) and never really put the attention on being mentally strong. But I now see that it is more important than any of the other aspect.

In the end I’m really glad I’m a runner and that I’ve learned and realized the things I have from pushing myself through till the finish. These things help one not in just running but also in the living-ness of life.

How to Use Heart-rate Monitoring For Running

September 20th, 2010

I was recently reading some great resources on using and checking your heart-rate for training. Many of us know an increase hear-rate means our body is doing more work but how many of us know what our max heart-rate is. Well some of us do as we already are into monitoring our hear-rate. Knowing your rate can be a valuable tool in determining what is happening with your body. One of the key things I’ve found is to monitor your resting heart rate. If you begin noticing increases in your rate then you can suspect that your training might be too much and you are becoming susceptible to over training.

But don’t just take my word for it, check out all these great resources below for better training through monitoring your heart-rate.

What It Takes To Staying Injury Free

September 19th, 2010

One of my worst nightmares as a runner is something happening to my legs and then not being able to run. And unfortunately some of us get injured every now-and-then to that point where we can’t run. But what does it take to remain injury free.

Well you can take it from me as I’ve at times remained injury free to significant amounts of time but on the other hand have had my share of running injuries. So here is what I’ve found works for me.

Isolating the area of your more common injuries and doing routine stretching of that area. I’ve found if I stretch out that specific area of my body I tend to be less likely to have an injury there. Although I’m not one that’s usually a guy who stretches. In fact I normally don’t stretch at all before or after a run. But I’ve found that if I only stretch that one area of my body after I run this does help prevent further injury.

Exercises for that common injured area. Another thing I’ve seen work is doing exercises to strengthen the areas you commonly have injured.  For example if your common injury is a calf muscle, you could do X amount of calf raises each day steadily working on making that area of your body stronger.

Vitamins, yes this does help quite a bit. I’ve noticed that vitamins do really help keep you injury free and to recover much faster than normal. The vitamins I take which really help me are things like calcium and magnesium. These are 2 nutrients that the muscles in the body actually use to make your muscles move. So you can guess what happens if you are lacking these. Now of course a word of disclaimer here. I’m not a doctor so you should consult your doctor before taking anything. And I have found to be true that every one needs somewhat different vitamins depending on their body’s needs. So I’d suggest going to a natural nutritionist or chiropractor as that’s what I’ve done and it’s really helped me.

Chiropractic adjustments for prevention recovery. I’ve been getting chiropractic adjustments since I was a little kid and I’ve hardly had any sicknesses growing up. And I’ve found it really helps with running. I mean think about it… if your body is out of alignment your running gate is going to be off (even just a little bit can cause major problems) and that being off is going to cause more stress to be placed on one muscle or area of your body thus weakening it and making you more susceptible to injury.

Using the proper shoes. Now this is something most dedicated runners are aware of so I’m not going to go into it too much. But what you want to do is make sure the shoes you have are the correct shoes for your foot and gate type.

Lastly don’t over do it. If you feel like you’re starting to get injured then simply take the day off or run less or not as hard. I’ve found this is an excellent way to prevent one self from being coming injured. If you can spot the fact your feeling a weakness in an area or muscle of your body then don’t put as much stress on it till it feels better. I know it’s not always what your running log says (to take a day off) but that’s better than having to take weeks off for an injury.

Well there you have it, these are just some of my personal tips on staying injury free. Do you have any tips?

What Do You Think About When You Run

September 18th, 2010

Non-runners have often asked me what I think about when I run… and I’ve even heard some runners asking each other this question. My answer is always been that I try not to think about anything. But I’ve heard other runners state things like their work, family, life’s problems and issues or what they did in training.

My philosophy has been that if one can simple keep one’s “mind” in the here and now by not thinking about other times, times to be, or day dreaming then one can be focused on the run a hand which will make you run faster. Personally I’ve seen this work for myself over and over again. So I try to stick to that. But I have to admit it is tough at times.

Here are a tip you can use to pull this off. One is to look around while you’re running. Not necessarily moving your head all over the place looking although that does work but becomes a little distracting when running. But instead glaceing at objects, people and things as they come into your field of vision in front of you. I’ve found that keeping once attention on your surroundings seems to keep one’s mind in the here and now without having you have to think about anything else.

So give it a try… by the way, what do you think about when you run?