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Posts from — March 2011

Vivo Barefoot Evo: Minimalist Shoe Review

This shoe is crazy! The strange name may give away the company’s “euro” roots but this shoe is, to say the very least, UNIQUE….in a good way.

Terra Plana is a company that focuses on footwear without the traditional built up heel and support structure that is said to be screwing up the human gait.

The Evo was created with the help of podiatrists, biomechanists, physical therapists, and ecologically friendly consultants. This shoe is constructed on a 3mm puncture resistant rubber sole. It’s not the lightest shoe in the world but it IS the closest to the ground. Just 3mm from the earth—that’s pretty cool.

Terra Plana claims that the Vivo Barefoot shoes will improve the strength of your feet as well as helping to re-align your posture to make you more efficient and lessen the harsh impact of each footfall.  They are also said to increase the stimulation of the 200,000 nerve endings of your feet to help with enhancing sensory perception and improve circulation.


This sounds all fine and dandy but so far their argument is very similar to all the other minimalist shoes that are hitting the market these days. I feel that the Evo sets themselves apart in two areas:

The Vivo Barefoot Evo looks super rad.
I feel like some sort of sleek green lizard in the jungles of the Amazon when I put this shoe on. I see myself running through the branches, my feet blending in with the leaves, sucking in the warm humid air. It’s an experience! This look makes it fun to put the shoe on.

The Vivo Barefoot is very GREEN.
Not just in color but in their practices. They use natural leather uppers, there is a strict ‘no sweat shop’ production policy that is independently monitored, they use a recycled sweat absorbing antibacterial shoe liner, and they even have vegan options available. This may be a little extreme, but for those of you out there who care, I think Terra Plana is at the forefront of this movement.

So that was a little about the company, design, and ethics; now onto the feel of the shoe and how I think it should be used.

General Remarks:

First off, very nice packaging!

This shoe is surprisingly comfortable. My size 12 foot fits perfectly into a Euro size 44. The first thing I noticed was the feel of the 3mm sole. It really does mold to your foot to create a highly sensitive feeling. The outsole fashions a raised honeycomb mold that acts as both cushioning and traction.

The shoe does come with a removable insole to provide just enough cushioning to feel safe. The upper is made up of a meshy synthetic material; its origins seem to be celestial, maybe mars? Venus? Unknown life breathing planet in a far off galaxy with little martians screaming around in Evos?

The tongue of the shoe is nice and plump through the body so the laces don’t cut into your feet. I’ve been wearing these without socks. I think it almost defeats the purpose to go minimal but then throw on a synthetic or cotton sock. But that’s just me.

The one and only issue I have with this shoe is that it seems to fit feet that are moderate in volume the best. Having a narrow foot myself, the upper in the forefoot gets ever so slightly creased and I get a little rubbing action going on around the knuckles of my toes. Not a major issue, the shoe fits moderate feet which is the largest market segment, so it makes sense. The outliers never get the perfect shoe.

The Evo runs around 8.2oz. which, within the world of minimalist shoes, is not all that light. The “impenetrable” sole makes up most the weight but I am happy to sacrifice an ounce or two to guarantee I don’t get a glass shard through my foot.

After running in this shoe for awhile, I have now transitioned it to a casual shoe. I feel I get the foot strengthening and postural benefits of the shoe while just out and about. I also enjoy acting like a lizard from another planet when people ask me what the heck is on my foot.

So whether you are going to run full-time with the Evo, only use the shoe as a tool for strengthening on soft surfaces, or just wear it as a casual shoe, this shoe can fit your specific need. I will add that the shoe is a little pricey (around $150) but just think; it’s a great shoe AND you are encouraging a green-conscious world by supporting a company that cares.

I think they look cool with jeans too…just for kicks. If this is a major fashion “foe-paw” I’d rather remain in the dark; ignorance is bliss.

So there you have it~get yourself a pair of Evos today. The cool factor alone makes them worth it.

Read more about the VIVOBAREFOOT Men’s EVO here!

March 18, 2011   No Comments

Ode to Beard

There is something about a beard that makes a man feel good.

It is not a coincidence that runnermen have an obsession.

It is the ultimate act of manhood to be one with nature and let it grow.

No harsh sharp razors. No buzzing trimmers. No scissors flying.

You must expect women to make their jabs, don’t let them berate your masculine fortitude!

We must be united and UNFAZED by their criticism.

The haters will liken you to the homeless, to biblical characters, even Old Man River!

Whether it is the man beard, the valiant stache, or even just an adolescent whisp upon the chin—

Hold on to what you have!

Don’t return – don’t EVER return to the state of a ‘baby-butt-smooth’ child!

We must be men!

Keep the faith – when with beard – we are strong.

Perhaps the greatest stache of all time! RIP.

 

Ryan Hall steps up his game.

 

 

Look at that glorious beard…I have finally found true inspiration.

 

 

 

Ultra Runner Anton Krupicka has more than contributed to the cause.

 

And here’s me. I’m sorry I don’t have any better documented beard photos of myself. In fact, I’m quite ashamed of my wussy beard shown here. But let me tell you…this is just the start. Just the start! If I could, this WHOLE FREAKING blog would be about runners with beards! I doubt anyone would stay interested as long as me. But don’t tempt me!

Someday I too will go beard to beard with greats such as Prefontaine ….Hall ….Gump …. and Krupicka!

One Day….

March 16, 2011   4 Comments

Nutrition Before, During & After Your Run-Part III

The final installment of my three part series on nutrition will focus on what to eat AFTER your run.

If you haven’t read Part one or Part two about what to eat before and during your run, check those out first.

WHY WE EAT AFTER WE RUN

The goal of eating after your run is to rebuild your stored glycogen levels that you worked so hard to deplete while exercising. Hopefully you did your part to maintain them the best you could DURING the run by intaking the appropriate contents and amounts. I’d say that the gels and bars you consumed should have more or less fended off a crash during your workout but after your run is when you really need to eat to replenish and build back up those stores.


Usually the magic window is around 30 minutes following your run that you NEED to eat. It is good to set out your food as a reminder to eat upon return from run. If you are driving to a trail head or other locale some distance away, bring your food with you to eat on the way home. If it’s a race, you better go hit up the free food offered at most finish lines. Get something in you before you start your cool down, that is, if you are a cool down type of guy (or gal).  

The reason why this is so important is because with the carbohydrate and protein intake comes decreased potential for debilitating soreness, potential for injury, and sickness. As we speak, I am sitting on my bed writing this while recovering from a 20 mile trail run I did this morning. I need my legs to recover fast so I can hit my weekly mileage goal and be ready for the Eugene Marathon in May. If I can’t run tomorrow because of soreness, a tweaked tendon, or sickness that could have been avoided had I simply ate the right post-run food, I wouldn’t be a happy camper. In fact, I would be a very angry, borderline psychotic camper for sure.

POST RUN INTAKE OPTIONS

One way to make sure that you are getting what you need is to purchase a product that contains all the contents your body needs to recover quickly and get you back out there the next day. Due to my partiality to Hammer Nutrition, I will use their product as an example. Hammer Nutrition claims that “how well you perform tomorrow depends on how well you recover today.” I think this is as true as true can be. Recoverite (strawberry is my favorite flavor… even though it looks like cocaine) offers a 3 to 1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein with only 3 of the carbs coming from sugars. Recoverite also contains glutamine which stimulates muscle repair.

                                                                                            

I like the taste of Recoverite but I’ve heard from others that it’s not the tastiest stuff in the world. So how important is your running to you? Important enough to drink something whose taste you are not in love with? I hope so. I usually mix the two scoops of powder in cold water and pound it. I also went through a stage where I mixed it with orange juice to help with processing some of the contents of Recoverite. Whatever it takes.

                                                                          

Now, if your wallet, tastes, or your inclination for more natural goods doesn’t agree with Recoverite, there are other options. I am off Recoverite now due to shrinking wallet syndrome and have picked up a more natural option for recovery myself. My recovery meal is now half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of chocolate milk. Mmm. Mmmm. Mmmmmmm.  It is yummy my friends. Just keep in mind that it is a little heavier on the old sugary goodness.

                                                                             

There are a million food combinations to get basically the same result so if you don’t like the Recoverite or my favorite, here are the contents you are looking for; healthy carbohydrates and protein! That’s basically it! Drink a good amount of water, preferably with electrolytes in it, and get in some protein and carbs, it’s as simple as that.

One final note; don’t go overboard on the quantity. It’s easy to say, “man I just worked so hard, time for a big reward!” You probably didn’t burn THAT many calories. I can put on weight even while exercising 45 minutes a day. There was a time when I could eat whatever I wanted all the time, and sometimes I feel like I still can when I’m putting out really high mileage weeks, but in general, quantity must be held in check. I’ve found that if I force myself to eat slowly, I end up eating less. Don’t scarf your bagel down in two bites, try 10 bites, one per minute. It takes awhile for the food to hit the stomach and then expand with moisture which leads to feeling full. Give the food time. Otherwise, you’ll be two bagels down when the first one would have been enough had you let it settle.

So there you have it! Nutrition for runners in a nutshell. I hope you found something of value in this three part series. If you have any specific questions on any of this stuff, please send me an email or leave a comment at any time.

Smart nutrition leads to sustainable, enjoyable running. Period.

Have fun out there!

March 15, 2011   No Comments

Race Report: Ice Breaker 10k, Linfield College, on the Track

It’s not very often that you get to relive your glory years. Last Friday I had the chance to run a 10k race on the track with some college boys. A handful of small colleges in Oregon were competing in what they call the Ice Breaker 10k. It’s one of the first outdoor track meets of the year and generally considered to be a “rust buster” for those looking to get ramped up for the racing season.

I have a few buddies in college that wanted me to go race it with them, promising the moon. At the last minute I decided to go. I kind of felt like the creepy college kid who trolls high school parties, but I wanted to RACE and I knew it would be fun, so I went along. After arriving at the track, I scanned the racers for receding hairlines and wrinkles foreign to college kids (I know I’m ONLY 26 but I notice these things, ok?).  I was relieved to see some other “old guys” and didn’t feel so out of place.

The yougins were warming up in their official team gear rearing to go. I’m in my old University of Oregon Running Club jersey trying to fit in. I noticed a few guys mistake my club jersey for an actually U of Oregon team jersey. I saw them tense up when I took off my warm ups. One kid made a comment, “U of O? We are gonna get spanked!” My jersey lost its luster as the gun goes off and I scream to a third to last start. Watch out boys!  


The race started at 8pm. Racing on the track at night is one of the best feelings in the world. There is something about running in the dark that makes you feel like you are flying. One of my buddies, Andrew Jensen, sent me a text earlier in the day talking about the race, “Under the lights! … Where legends are made.” Even though it was partially a joke, this comment sent chills up my spine.

Here’s a picture of me and Jensen about to start the race. Notice how we linger in the back, I wasn’t quite ready to go shoulder to shoulder with these stallions. (I’m the guy in the green and white singlet in the back talking to Jensen in the blue).

  

At this point I was maintaining an underdog-esque, no vested interest, I don’t care attitude. But really I was just plain scared about the pain I was going to have to put myself through. It’s a weird sensation prepping for pain. I would liken this feeling to walking out back to grab a “switch” off a tree for my 1950’s father to whip me with, except I didn’t do anything wrong. So if the walk on the way to the tree is the starting line, the race itself is like getting whipped repeatedly, it hurts. Where this analogy fails is post-race, where if you are happy with your race you are on cloud nine. Very few events in this life match this elated feeling of accomplishment. However, if the race goes badly, the whipping analogy remains, in both cases the victims are just happy it is over.

So like I said, the gun goes off and I start near the back. I’m old and wise and not willing to go out too hard and then die late in the race. As the race goes on I start picking people off one by one. Surprisingly, I felt great. I go through 5k at 17:05. Perfect, exactly to plan, now it was time to move. The second half of the race was a blur, I’m passing people, lapping people, getting lapped by the front runners, and watching the lap counter go from 25 down to one. There was a kid assigned to me to count my laps.

“Five to go! Three to go!! One to go!!! Let’s go! Go get em’!” This guy was great, a huge help.

       

I end up negative splitting, which means I run the second half faster than the first, I close in a 16:40 5k for a 33:45 total time. This is an average of 5:25 miles and I’m stoked. Being in the middle of marathon training, running mostly longer slower runs, I was pleased to pull off this time.  

   

I want to tell you all that I was super close to not running this race. I had to sneak out early from work, drive 3 hours to get to Linfield College, and deal with my insecurity of running with the college boys. But honestly, I couldn’t be more happy that I went and ran this race. I can’t explain it in any other way than to say that it was just….so much fun.

Next time you are teetering on whether or not to go and do something crazy or scary or exciting, whatever it is, don’t stay home, JUST GO!

btw: shout out to Pops for this incredible display of photography….with his camera phone…..and putting up with me saying, “Dad! No more pictures! This is embarassing.” Those parents always know best, I tell ya.

March 13, 2011   2 Comments

Anton Krupicka and the New Balance Minimus

See below for a good video clip to get you psyched on running and life. Anton Krupicka talks about the minimalist movement and the New Balance Minimus line. This recently debuted line of shoes contains three different types: trail, road, and lifestyle. I am most excited about the trail version. If there was one shoe they HAD to get right, it was the trail, and New Balance did it!


The Minimus Trail fits like a dream (shoe on Anton’s foot in video). It’s amazing how good it feels. I contribute much of its success to the Vibram sole that seems to be perfectly shaped. New Balance also did a great job on the upper to create the nothingness feel that minimalists desire. 

My major concern was that my mechanics would break down to a dangerous level in this “shoe.” But after a video gait analysis in the Minimus Trail, I looked just as efficient in this shoe as in any other normal, cushioned heel, stability posted shoe.

Point for the minimalist movement!

I may do a full on product review on the Minimus line at some point but just check out this video for now.

Anton is becoming an…..enigma!!!!

It’s the hair….it’s gotta be the hair.

March 11, 2011   3 Comments

Nutrition Before, During & After Your Run-Part II

Nutrition: During the Run

If you haven’t read Part I on eating before your fun, start there.

Ok folks, here is part two of the three part series on nutrition. Today I will go over what to consume during the run itself. Here we will enter into the world of substances manufacturing specifically to be consumed during exercise. This post will be most pertinent to those runners who regularly run 60 minutes or longer. If you never pass the one hour threshold, liquid intake will suffice to get you through your run and on to your post run nutrition. But for those hour+ runners, in my opinion, need some sort of nutritional replenishment during the run itself. This will help to get you through your run feeling energized while maintaining other bodily stores that are necessary for sustainable running.


The main reason we want to ‘eat’ while running is to replenish the electrolytes and glycogen that we burn while exercising. In order to keep going our body needs to have fuel to restore our glycogen levels. Glycogen is found in the liver and muscular tissues that are drawn on by the muscles themselves for conversion to energy.

Everyone’s body has a different capacity level for glycogen. This is why some runners need to replenish earlier in the run than others. As our glycogen levels deplete, they must be replaced before they get too low. When you hear of someone “bonking” or “hitting the wall” it is often due to the runner totally depleting their glycogen levels. 

 Ok, so what are our options?

 My hands down favorite provider of fuel is Hammer Nutrition so I’ll use their products to describe the different forms. They offer three main options for replenishment:

Hammer Gel

The gel form is by far the most popular choice. Individually packaged and sold in bulk to be used with a squeezable gel bottle, this stuff works. Gel packets can be placed in shorts pockets, fuel belts, hydration pack pockets, or even in sports bras, bros, and man jocks (I don’t recommend this…I don’t say this from a position of experience…just a wise inclination). The key is to be able to easily grab the packet, rip off seal, squeeze the packet, down the goods, then place empty package back in storage location.

A rule of thumb is to consume one gel shot per 45 minutes of activity. It is best to chase with liquid to wash down and clean mouth of stickiness.  

The downsides of the gel packet are the hassle of carrying an empty packet and the sticky residue that oftentimes finds itself on your hands, mouth, and clothes. I have become pretty darn proficient at this art but still get frustrated with the occasional gooey hand. 

You’d think that the pain of running would be worse than a sticky hand, but these little nuisances add up! Pretty soon you are walking into your local running shop going postal on the guy who sold you the product; not good I tell ya!  

Hammer Bar

In my mind, the Gel is the way to go. However, if you just can’t stand the consistency of a gel or you absolutely need the feeling of a solid substance entering your stomach, Hammer Nutrition has the Hammer Bar.

The Hammer Bars provide much of the same nutritional value but in a less efficient form to consume while running. For me, running and chewing at the same time is like trying to eat a hot dog while brushing your teeth. I run out of air, I choke, and it takes me forever to get the thing down. However, there is a market out there for those folks who don’t mind stopping for a breather, taking in a beautiful wonder of nature, or for those who just plain don’t mind stopping in the middle of their run to eat a bar.

Hammer Powder Products

Sustained Energy and Perpetuem are two products offered to be mixed in with your water bottle or other hydration device with water. I have heard mixed reviews in regards to the taste of these magic powders but in general, none of these products are going to blow your tastebuds; they aren’t supposed to taste GREAT, good maybe, more like good enough to get down without a gag reflex or unreasonable discomfort.

These two products are designed for sustained energy over very long runs. Think ultra marathon training. They offer an all in one option for hydration, electrolyte replacement, glycogen fuel AND protein to help repair muscles that you broke down earlier in your run.

Other Brands and Options

The two other big players are Gu and Powerbar. They both have a variety of products that fall into these same categories. If the gooeyness is an issue, try the Power Gel. It is more liquidy and easier to get down. Gu has a million different flavors and their packaging, in my mind, is supremely manufactured. One other random product of note, mostly for its hilarity, is Vespa! Vespa CV-25 is a wasp extract, bee propolis, and royal jelly formula which supposedly offers like-effects to our above mentioned gels.

The best way to find an energy source supplement is by trial and error. Test out the different brands and forms; you should know pretty quickly what will and will not work for you. My recommendation is first Hammer Nutrition, then Gu, then Powerbar. But also try out the others. There may be a secret weapon out there just for you!

Happy Running!

March 11, 2011   4 Comments

Nutrition Before, During & After Your Run-Part I

Today will be part one of a three part series on nutrition before, during, and after your run. Let me start by saying that I am not a nutritionist by any means of the imagination. What I am is a runner who runs a lot and who has dabbled with endless food and supplement combinations. Definitely enough to feel like I can form an educated opinion and offer sound advice on this extremely important topic. Part one will contain the before run portion; I hope you find this useful!

Before Run:


The goal here is to eat enough food to supply your body with adequate energy to maintain a consistent effort throughout the run but not so much food that you feel sick to your stomach and ruin your workout.

Symptoms that you didn’t eat enough or you ate the wrong foods:

General weakness, early onset of fatigue, and lack of motivation are the most common symptoms. If I’m hungry before a run and don’t eat anything then I’m generally sad, wired, sick, and pissed off. I’m just not motivated to exert energy and effort when all I can think about is scarfing down ding dongs and pumpkin pie. Make sure you set your best foot forward by eating enough before your run to find your ‘happy place’ mentally. Better to eat a healthy snack and get a good run in than to skip the snack, have a crappy run, go home, hit the couch, and pound down frozen burritos and peanut M&M’s. I’m not just pulling these food selections out of thin air; in my moments of weakness I indulge in these foods to find the ever-elusive unattainable comfort though food. Rarely, after stuffing my face with jalapeño chips, rice krispie treats, and jerky do I say, “I’m so happy I just ate that!”

Eat properly before you run and have your post workout snack ready and prepared so this doesn’t happen to you.

Symptoms that you ate too much or ate the wrong foods:

Decrease in performance, indigestion, nausea, stomach cramps, and even puking can all occur here. The key is to consume foods that will be quickly digested and turned into energy quickly. A side note and personal tip that should be obvious but it often missed; if the food isn’t “American,” don’t eat it before a run. This isn’t a set in stone rule but try to stay away from exotic foods. Chinese food may pack the most atrocious revenge with all its flavors, spices and mysterious meat contents. Mexican, Thai, and Middle Eastern foods are all to be avoided as well. So there, make it American, I’m so patriotic.

Here’s my very scientific rule on American food. If you have ever burped up a little mini puke glob into your mouth, don’t eat whatever food you tasted during that disgusting moment. Meats come to mind for me.

So now that you know a few things to avoid, let’s talk about what to eat!

We are looking for foods that have a high amount of carbohydrates not derived from sugars, low amounts of fat and moderate levels of protein. Hydration will be another post but keep in mind that all foods should be eaten with liquids. But note, unless you live in Death Valley, please don’t go overboard on the fluids, drinking too much water while exercising is the most common way to die while running, so don’t do that…not a good way to go.

Ok, so back to what we SHOULD be eating. Here are a few ideas that will work almost every time. Try them out, find out which ones work for you. The key is to feel appropriately energized throughout your run with no ‘issues’ going on in your stomach.

Whole wheat toast with peanut butter.
The double B; bar and banana. The Cliff, Power, and Luna varieties are all great.
Healthy fruity muffin.
Bagel with jelly.
Low fat soup and crackers.
Yogurt and granola (Yogurt is suspect at times for me).

My favorite choice is the Double B. It works great and is enough to get me through any short to medium distance run. If I’m going for a longer run (over 90 minutes) I will add a piece of toast with creamy peanut butter. Don’t be too much of a stickler, you don’t NEED high-end, organic, everything. Call me old fashioned, but the regular supermarket stuff is just fine for me (my financial position strongly affects this stance).

So there you have it folks. I hope this post gave you some ideas and solved some issues you may have been having. I’d be interested to hear what your “standard” is for pre-workout nutrition.

March 8, 2011   2 Comments

Photo Contest

Ok folks, here is your chance to plaster an extremely flattering picture of yourself across internet-land!

Here’s the game: send us your best photo of yourself in the trenches of pain…while running. Generally the most gruesome are taken in the final sprint of a race but sometimes beauties can be found running up a hill or dashing through mud and water. We want to see it all! Send us your best picture when you literally thought, “I’m Gonna Die!!!”


In addition, answer the following three questions so we can really put ourselves in your shoes.

1) Your name.
2) Location, name of race, and distance.
3) Describe what this moment felt like.

Be descriptive. We want to hear what the look on your face was attributed to. Was it that you thought your head was about to explode? Were your lungs on the verge of collapse due to redline exertion? Was the look on your face simply your reaction to the guy running next to you who smelt like moldy goat cheese? Or was it the chafing of your man-nipples that brought you to your knees?

We will come up with monthly winners and have a blog post dedicated to the joyous pain you endured. Show it off, you earned it with that look!

Send picture and descriptions here: chaseparnell@gmail.com

Your photo here!

March 8, 2011   No Comments