Category Archives: Equipment

BPMR -Things to Improve/Change For Next Year

It’s been most of a week since I did the BPMR.  My body seems ready to get back to training, but before I start talking about future goals and training programs, I think it’ll be beneficial to go over some things to improve on for next year (if I decide to do it again…which is “probably”).

Here goes:  Things to Improve/Change for Next Year

  • Bike Training – Obviously.  Tonnes more riding, technical trails and even some spin classes would give me a huge leg-up from this year’s performance.
  • Get My Own Bike – I spent a lot of time this spring dicking around with my bike situation.  I considered renting a bike through the race but decided against it.  I considered buying a new bike but didn’t exactly have the cash at the time. I even considered using my current bike which is a fully rigid Specialized Rock Hopper circa 1993 (It’s purple), but ultimately I was lucky enough to borrow a friend’s swanky new full suspension bike.  It handled all the terrain easily, but consistent training on the bike you’re using for the race is probably a good idea…maybe…
  • Bike shoes – Speaking of borrowed equipment, guess what came along with the borrowed bike?  Borrowed clip-in shoes!  They worked pretty well, but apparently (unbeknownst to me) the peddles and shoes were for road riding and I would have had an easier time if I had used proper mountain bike gear.  Who knew?
  • Bigger transition bags – The race utilizes a 2-bag system for transition areas.  Bag “A” & Bag “B” (I’ll slow down for those of you who are struggling to keep up).  I used two cloths bags that cinched close with a string/rope that doubles as a shoulder strap.  On a positive note, the bags were two different colours so it was easy to differentiate between them, but still quickly identify them as mine.  However when it came down to it they were simply too small to fit all the gear necessary.  By the end of the race I was clipping my hydration pack to the outside of the bag an through the strings as well.  Not ideal.  Larger bags, with bigger openings would ease and expedite gear swapping.
  • One Hydration Bag?  – Most other racers used 1 hydration bag.  I didn’t want to lug around any more weight than I had to, so I made up two packs (with all the necessary kit) and swapped them at transitions.  I often wondered though, if I could stash the bike tools/pump on the bike or in the transition bag would 1 bag have been easier to use.  I’m still on the fence for this one.
  • Strength Training – Lunges, squats, deadlifts.  One of the reasons my legs were cramping was that they were over-worked.  Yes, I was dehydrated, but when my IT band started screaming it gave me some indication of what shape my legs were in.  Sure, I felt fine on the run eventually, but it was apparent that the strength training I was doing in May should have been continued into/through July.  Also, my lower back was pretty fatigued by the end of the kayak, deadlifts would have stabilized my core, and enhanced my posterior chain.  In July, I was paranoid that they strength work would compromise my endurance training…but I think I had it backwards….20/20 hindsight I guess…
  • Fuel – I think my food/hydration was pretty good.  Yes, I was hungry at points but with the limitations I had (upset stomach at start) I think I did pretty well.  A little more solid food and some Gatorade at transition #1 might have helped; mind you I did eat and drink…maybe just not enough.

Have a great weekend all, enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!

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Beginner’s Guide to Running Race Nutrition, Hydration and Carrying-it-all – Part 3

A little while ago we discussed hydration and nutrition; what to eat and when, and the pluses/minuses of each option.  So now that you’ve got your hydration/nutrition dialed-in how exactly do you carry all that crap for hours of pavement pounding?

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Part 3 – How do I Carry It All?

Hydration:

Hydration transportation can be categorized into 4 basic types:  Single large waist belt bottle, multiple small waist belt bottles, handheld bottle, aid station.

Waist belt bottles are certainly the most popular choice for long distance road runners.  They are easy to access and (for the most part) pretty comfortable.  The main difference is how/where the bottles are spread around your belt area:

Single Bottle – A single bottle is almost exclusively carried on the lower back where it’s still accessible yet completely out of the way.  Within this type of belt/bottle there are two subtypes:  A belt where the bottle sits straight up-and-down, or a belt where the bottle rides at a 30 degree angle.

 

Many people use these as the belts also offer pockets etc. for nutrition (we’ll get to this shortly) & gear and there is less clutter to deal with (compared to the multi-bottle belts).  My personal opinion is to give these a pass. After my first run with one of these I had a huge bruise on my spine/lower back from the lid of the bottle continually hitting me as I ran.  No matter how much I tightened the belt I couldn’t stop it from bouncing.  You can rotate the belt to one side to avoid this, however then you have to deal with an external asymmetry affecting your stride.

 

Multi-Bottles – The multi-bottle belts are another popular option, as they spread the weight of your hydration around your body thus keeping your center of gravity unaffected (…mostly).

Occasionally referred to as “the travelling buffet”, you simply have your load split up and spread around.  One advantage this provides is the ability to specialize your hydration options.  Want a bottle of sports drink and a bottle of water?  Go to it!  Most often these come in 2 & 4 bottle options, but with additional/replacement bottle options you could potentially have as many or as few as you’d like.  At first use (with a 4) I didn’t like how the bottles interfered with my arm swing, so I switched to a 2 bottle belt and haven’t looked back.

Whether you decide to go with a single or multiple bottles waist belt option, there is a one issue that both these options cause; extra pressure on your pelvis/lower back.  It took me a long tome to get used to hauling that sloshing weight around my midsection, my lower back was continually sore after long runs, and I can see how this might REALLY bother some people.


Handheld – Another option that is growing in popularity, especially with trail runners, is the handheld bottle.  This technique has grown out of simply carrying a squirt bottle in your hand to specialty bottles with filters and special carrying cases.  The most popular options I’ve seen lately are bottles like these:

Ergonomic bottle straps with an external pocket for your gels/keys/ninja stars.  Carrying a bottle can make your arms sore if you aren’t used to it, but I’ve always appreciated the freedom to switch hands/position whenever necessary.


Aid Stations – For races, I’ve started relying on aid stations for my hydration.   You have to schedule your nutrition intake a little more rigidly, but being free from the extra clutter is well worth it for me.

 

Nutrition:

And what about your nutrition choices?  How are you supposed to haul those around?  Unless you are dependent on a four slices of pizza, most of the bottle carrying options should be able to help you out.  Almost every belt/handheld bottle holder has some sort of zippered pocket(s) to hold your extra stuff.  It’s up to you to figure out how much space you are going to need; 1 gel? 2 packages of chews? 15 various packages of cookies/crackers/pretzels/ham sandwich?  Do your research, try things on, take your favourite in-race meal and try jamming it in there.

Another consideration is a Gel Flask.  Gel flasks look a lot like the bottles carried in the multi-bottle belts.  These are used as liquid calorie dispensers. Some people have trouble choking down sticky gels, so by added water to the mix they can get the calories down without risking the gag reflex/projectile vomiting.  A friend of mine makes his own gel and swears by these flasks, but I’ve never used one myself.

One option not a lot of people use, but I’ve had pretty good success with is pockets.  Yep, those things that come with your shorts (athletic shorts not running shorts).  The last few races I’ve done, I’ve thrown my Clif Bloks in my pocket and off I went.  No fuss, just easy.  It’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

There are other options like Nathan or Camelback hydration packs, but these aren’t seen very much at road races, sure you can bring one if you want, it’s just not common. More often these are used at trail races or ultra-marathons where more fluid and storage for nutrition is needed.  I used one on my Impromptu Adventure Run and I was certainly glad to have that much water with me (not to mention room for a light, granola bar and $3.52 in change (what?..it’s my emergency fund)

Anyway, I think that’s enough for now, if you have any more specific topics that you’d like to hear about, or specific questions just ask in the comments.

Later

The Ultimate Runners Guide

I’m back from vacation, but swamped at work trying to catch up from the week “off”. There will be a post about my trip soon, but until then here’s something to tide you over:

The Ultimate Runners Guide

Injury – Timeline Dissection

Howdy all, miss me?  Care to join me in a trip in the Way-Back machine?  I think I’ve finally pieced together what happened this spring, and how exactly I hurt my feet.  If so, strap yourselves in kiddies, it’s an ugly trip 😉

In January of this year I had to buy new shoes, and after trying a few different brands/styles I settled on the in the Saucony’s Kinvara 2’s.  Through the winter and spring of 2012 I put 390km on those shoes and they served me well.  I ran a 30km race to a major PR and was happily ramping back up to give the Ottawa Marathon another try in late May.  This is where the things went suddenly pear-shaped.

In early May (with the marathon approaching) I decided it was probably time to start breaking in the new shoes for race day.  My older Kinvara 2’s were starting to hurt my knees and the new ones looked so primed and ready to rip it up, although after a handful of runs in the new shoes my right foot started to hurt…BADLY.  What I thought was a stress turned out to be a mixed bag of Cuboid Syndrome and calcification on the cuboid joint from older (and repeated) sprained ankles.  What really raised my eyebrow though was the piecing pain in the forefoot of my LEFT foot at exactly the same time.  Convenient, yes?  Many a vulgarity were uttered, specialist seen and corrective measures were taken.  Also, just to make things more fun, within days of all of this I managed to miss a stair and bashed my right forefoot into the stair footplate bruising it horrifically as well!  Welcome back Murphy’s Law, it’d been a while since we’ve talked, I thought you had forgotten all about me….damn.

So what caused all of this?  In March we took a trip to Myrtle Beach, and seeing how shoes are on average 30-35% cheaper in the US than Canada I took the opportunity to stock up with another 2 pairs of Kinvara 2’s.  Unfortunately, as far as I can tell the forefoot rocker on the new Kinvara 2s caused the head of the 3rd & 4th metatarsal to push together and pinch the nerve that runs between them.  After waiting for my feet to return to normal, I decided to do a little investigation and see just how much of the issue was the shoes and how much was my feet simply not-cooperating.   I slipped on the shoes again, and within 4 steps I could tell that the shoes weren’t going to work.  The crunch-pop in my left foot immediately returned and knew that any further use would only set me back another few weeks.  Why?  How?  Hadn’t I been running in the same shoes for the past 3 months?  Short answer: I have no idea.  The shoes SHOULD have been fine, but somewhere between the Around the Bay in March and my new Kinvara 2s in May my foot physiology changed and rendered these new shoes unusable.

New Balance 730

Eventually I started running again, but exclusively in my trail shoes (New Balance MT101).  No pain, no issues, just flow, it was awesome…but I still needed road shoes, ones that fit this time.  Knowing that New Balance shoes worked with my feet, I did some research and finally decided on the New Balance 730s.  Low to the ground, light (7.3 oz), 3mm heel-toe drop, and a generous forefoot, these were the shoes for me.  So far I’ve put a handful of runs in them and it’s been green lights all-around.  As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not much one for in depth reviews of shoes, but I’ll see what I can do for you…

Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge at this point, I’m back running and hopefully these new kicks will do the trick….Now if I could just nail down a few goals for the summer I’d be alllllll set.

Have a great weekend kids, get out and enjoy the sunshine!

How Much Gear Do You Take?

Exactly how much gear does one take to a  race?  Sure you have shoes and some sort of body covering (unless it’s a naked mile), but how much gear does one really need? Marathons and Ultras aside (where food and hydration factor in), do I really need to pack the kitchen sink when I leave the house for a few hours?  My “problem” is that I’m a bit of a boyscout, I pack a tonne of stuff that should cover any and every possibility but more often than not doesn’t get used.

Below is a pic of everything I took to Saturday’s trail race (minus my coat, a banana and a coffee), did I go overboard?  Some think so, but let me give you a little background information before you make your decision:  The weather was calling for 20-40% isolated showers, an afternoon high of 8C but an overnight low of -2C; possibly wet, possibly dry, possibly cold, possibly warm….essentially a crap shoot.

1.) Running Shorts
2.) Ruez Compression Boxer Briefs
3.) Nike Running Pants
4.) Clif Builder Bar
5.) Clif Bar – Peanut Butter
6.) MP3 Player
7.) Deodorant
8.) Nike Running Gloves
9.) Micro-Fleece Running Gloves (heavier)
10.) Long-Sleeved Tech T
11.) Short-Sleeve Tech T (MEC)
12.) Skins Calf Compression Sleeves
13.) New Balance MT101
14.) Asics Running Socks
15.) Brooks Running Hat
16.) Brooks Toque
17.) Bandana
18.) Light-Weight Running Toque
19.) Easy Reading
20.) Sun Glasses
21.) Garmin Forerunner 305
22.) Tensor Bandage
23.) Back Pack

Let’s see:

  • A set of long clothes for cold weather, a set of short clothes for warm weather, and the right combination that I could mix and match as necessary (long sleeves and shorts anyone?)
  • And what about hats & gloves?  Without them you are freezing but if they are too heavy then you have to carry around extra unnecessary gear.  I honestly didn’t think I’d need the winter hat & gloves but the lighter set definitely came in handy.
  • Calf sleeves? Since I was planning on running the next day, I put these puppies on as soon as I got back to my vehicle.
  • What about food?  A Clif Builder’s bar, for post race recovery and an extra pre-race Clif bar in case I got hungry.  I don’t see the problem.  Yes races provide post-race food, but you can’t always be guaranteed to like what they have so I (almost always) carry extra food.  Plus some people gave me dirty looks when I dove face first into the chocolate chip cookies, but that was only once …(maybe twice).
  • MP3 player and a book.  Last year’s RSP race was delayed when some douchnozzles moved course markers overnight.  You don’t have to use these to pass the time, but it’s nice to have them if you’d like to.
  • Tensor bandage and a bandana.  Stuff happens, so…you know…just in case.

In the end I went with the long pants and shirt with a t-shirt overtop, and light gloves/hat but shed these by the 3km mark (thank you pants with zip pockets!).  By the end I was pretty warm, but within minutes of finishing I was back in my hat and jumping into my heavy jacket and could have easily been in the heavier hat/gloves had it been a few degrees colder.

Sure it takes extra planning and effort to pack all that crap, but there’s nothing worse  (for me) than needing something  and knowing that I simply didn’t take the time to prepare.

Another Running & Rambling Shoe Giveaway

Donald over at Running & Rambling is doing another shoe give away that I’m trying to get in on.  This time it’s for New Balanace’s Minimus Zero Road.  With how much I love my NB MT101s, I’d love to win me a pair of these fancy kicks.

Here’s hoping for good things!

Have a good one kids

Three Things Thurs…errr…Friday

So, Three Things Thursday didn’t really fly this week…actually it wasn’t supposed to fly at all, but by the time I had time to write something this week, I had too many subjects to discuss and it was Friday.  So be it.  I’ll push few things off and post up the easily digestible tidbits that are on my mind right now?  Sound good?  Too bad…

1.)    There’s something I’m been ignoring the past couple of days that I need to deal with.  Something that’s been whispering at me to “pay attention!”…that “something”? (sigh) slight, nagging shin pain.

Unfortunately, I’m no stranger to shin splints, I’ve had them a few times, usually when I switch between shoes a lot but with my long weekend runs being on snowy days I’ve been opting to do them on snowy trails instead. The runs have been a blast, great scenery etc. but switching back and forth with my road shoes has probably been a bit hard on the old shins. Additionally, I’ve been looking for new shoes as my current ones (Brooks Racer ST4s) are quickly becoming hazardous to my health…foot health.  As much as I’ve enjoyed them, I think it’s time to move on.  I should have done it earlier, but it’s hard finding time to fit everything, so now I’m finally MAKING time.

2.)    On that note: I went out and grabbed a pair of Saucony Kinvara 2s at lunch today.  The last time I tried on Kinvaras I found the outside of my big toes rubbed the side of the shoe and figured that my foot simply wasn’t built to ride in one of the most popular shoes on the market, no biggie.  So what changed? I went up half a size and they suddenly fit pretty well so I bit the bullet and grabbed a pair.  I had a $10 off coupon, and as a bonus the store had stocked the shoes in the wrong spot so I got them at the Kinvara 1 clearance price (they were aware of the mistake and gave me the K1 price before I even noticed the discrepancy).  Sweet, 30% off!  I usually prefer to support small independent running stores, but this is one benefit of visiting a large multi-sport franchise store.  I have a longer post on buying shoes coming up (next week?) and a I hope to have my initial review of K2’s included…maybe 😉

3.)     Saturday marks the running of The Boring Runner’s Freeze Your Thorns Off Virtual 5km and although my shins are being problematic I’ll be giving the race a go.   Do I race it, or take it easy….that all depends on how I feel in my warm up.  I’m supposed to be putting in 26-28km this weekend and I’d hate to blow it all away with a failed 5km run.  Regardless, it’s all in good fun, so check it out if you feel like mixing things up this weekend.

With that, I’m out kids, have a great weekend!

Woo Hoo, I’m a Weiner!

Last week Donald at Running & Rambling ran a contest for a free pair of RUEZ Boxers, but this was no ordinary contest.  Unlike some blogs where you simply leave a comment or link to your facebook/twitter feed R&R decided to be cheeky.  Since RUEZ Boxers & Briefs are designed to keep a man’s junk warm in blustery winter winds the contest was for readers to submit creative names for your wang/twig & berries/Johnson.  Low and behold, after I submitted the offering of “tallywacker”, I received an email telling me that I had won a pair of RUEZ underroos.

And since no bog post is complete without a picture, here’s one for you:

Not My Junk...

A quick thanks to Running and Rambling and Ruez for the contest, and now that we’re actually getting some winter weather I may be able to use the prize!  Check out Donald’s review of Ruez’s undergarments here.

Have a good one kids!

Yet Another Shoe Giveaway – For Me not From Me

Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove Review and Giveaway

Running & Rambling is having yet another shoe giveaway; Merrell is supplying a pair of Barefoot Trail Glove trail shoes

Here’s the full link:  http://www.runningandrambling.com/2011/04/merrell-barefoot-trail-glove-review-and.html

After reading R&R’s and other blogger’s review(s) on them (and finding them at a great sale price) I bought a pair of MT101’s for my (newly decided upon & upcoming) season of trail running.  The Barefoot Trail Glove is more of a minimalist shoe than the MT101 and would make a great option for strengthening my feet/ankles while allowing me to still put down some good mileage.  With that in mind, I’m posting this as an entry to R&R’s giveaway post, hopefully I can snag some free kicks!

Thanks for enduring my selfish indulgences, stay tuned for more of the usual.
Have a good one kids!

Back in the Great White North

Bob & Doug

Holy crap, what happened!?  I left nearly a week and a half ago, to bask in the sandy warmth of Myrtle Beach, only to return to a winter apocalypse.  I think I’ve worked off all that holiday weight I had accumulated simply by shoveling out my driveway over the past few days.

Anyway, now that I’m back I’ve been trying to effectively taper for this Sunday’s Around the Bay 30km.  Obviously, despite Brent’s best efforts before I left,  our long run on the hilly section of the ATB course didn’t kill me.   I managed to avoid the tiger trap, landmines, offset leghold trap, Pigmy warriors hidden in the bushes with poison blow darts, and all he had left to depend on was repeatedly charging up hills in the hopes that my heart would explode.  If it wasn’t for all that coffee I chugged before our run, he would have succeeded too.

The week after that was spent accumulating mileage, in the vain hope that I could miraculously establish some baseline fitness.  A couple of sweet barefoot beach runs, a night time recovery run, and a 20km long run later and I was heading home to crank out another 20km.  I’m not too worried about finishing the Around the Bay, however I’d REALLY appreciate not embarrassing myself.

MT101RXIn other vacation related news I picked up a pair of NB MT101 which has pretty much sealed my fate for doing some trail and Ultra races this summer/fall…it also helped that I found out that the Chicago marathon sold out and I don’t have to consider doing it anymore.  Regardless, I’m hoping to have some fun tromping through the woods this summer.  I’ll get more into this in the near future.

In closing here are some crappy cellphone pics of my barefoot run on the beach:

Cheers!