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6 Things Every Runner Should Have

Friday, 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

Monday, 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.