Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Idea Of "In Shape" OR The "Ideal Shape"

Physical Fitness BadgeImage via Wikipedia
By: Jeff

Have you ever heard someone say, "I want to be in better shape."?  When some people say this they are talking about their outer figure.  The shape of their body.  They want to be skinnier, have more muscle tone, or who knows what else.  When other people say this they are talking about their fitness level.  They want to be able to have better aerobic endurance and better physical health.  You may ask, "skinny people have a better fitness level, don't they?".  I would argue that this is not always true.  Being  the "ideal shape" is noncorrelating with being "in shape".  There are plenty of skinny people that would struggle to run a mile.

It is that latter statement that I would like to focus on.  Sure, sure, I want to look skinner and stronger. Ultimately though, I want to be able to do things without having to figure out where my next breath is coming from.  I want to have a higher level of fitness.  This is one of the reasons that I am running a 5K in June (see previous entry).

I am now on week three of my 16 week training program.  The first two weeks have been interesting.  I feel like I'm making progress.  One foot plopping in front of the other.  In the last two weeks I have logged more miles on a treadmill than I ever have before.  One of the things that is keeping me motivated is that I am focusing on accomplishing a mindset of being "in shape" rather than the "ideal shape".  Being a rather large guy if I focused on losing weight I would be highly disappointed.  I know if I keep working on my fitness level, that eventually the weightloss will start to happen.

Not to change the subject totally, but I had my stride evaluated.  I highly recommend this before getting to deep into a training program.  My results came back that I had a pretty good overpronating stride (think of ankles rolling awkwardly inward).  It was recommend that I get a motion controlled shoe.  I ended up getting the Ascics Evolution 5 shoe.  Since I am new to running I won't give a detailed review on this shoe, but I will say that the soreness in my legs and hips has decreased significantly since I have began using them.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Finding your motivation....anywhere you can get it.

Fear of the DarkImage by stuant63 via Flickr

By: Brent

The competition is out there. She is training when you are sleeping. He is doing speed work while you are catching your breathe. Mine is out running while I can see him pass my house from my couch. He is a good 20 years older than I am. We have never talked. I don't know where he lives. He is known in my house as "the competition".

When we moved to our current home over a year ago, I started seeing him quickly and often. He seems to do a lot of running right as I am getting home. He has a funny little stride. Not powerful or graceful or anything pretty. Elbows at 90 degrees with tiny little swings. As a passerby I would probably giggle if I saw him out.

Last summer I was headed back to the house from a 4 mile out and back. As I approached the last intersection before my house, leaving me .7 miles to go, "the competition" had just turned onto the same stretch of road. He was about 20 yards in front of me. The race was on! I upped my tempo. Increased my stride length. I knew right then no "oldie" was going to beat me back to my house, but as he got smaller and smaller I thought, "this guy came to play today." It was not my day. If I recall correctly, this was the day he was nicknamed, "the competition".

Fast forward to 2010. This past weekend I was in the middle stretch of my 16 week marathon training and my schedule called for a 14 mile run. I broke it down into one loop at 9.x miles and a second loop of 4.x miles. The first 13 miles went great but as with all long runs, when your done, your done. As I approached the final intersection to make the home stretch, I spotted "the competition" only this year we were in the opposite locations. I was a bit closer and going to make the turn before he got to the intersection. I had a disadvantage compared to him circa 2009...I only had maybe an 18 yard advantage, not the football field 20 yards he had, yet I would not let this hinder my performance.

I make the turn and instantly start the push. .7 miles to go. 3,696 feet of victory. I instantly increase my focus on the "finish line", a single white and orange gas pipe that sticks out of the ground that tells me when I should start my 3 minutes of walking that cools me down before I get to the house. By removing my headphones like a ninja I was able to listen for his heavy feet to be beating into the ground or I knew I would at least hear him panting trying to catch me. Knowing I had already finished 13 miles I decided at every phone pole I would push a bit harder to make up for my inevitable slowing down. As cars would pass I payed close attention to if they shot back over or if they stayed out, informing me that he was hot on my trail. I could not tell one way or another but refused to look back and show my concern. As I approached my "finish line" gas pipe, I knew there was no way that I could let him pass me as I was in my "cool down walk" so I decided to push past my cool down. I came collapsing to a halt 2 houses in front of mine, I slowly turned to see how badly I had destroyed him in my secret race of 2010. Nothing. He had turned off at the intersection and was never behind me at all.

Obviously I scared the crap out of him and he didn't even want to attempt it. I understand.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Running with Yak's

By: Brent

Northern Indiana has the ability to snow. Snow hard. Snow often. Snow in May. It also has the ability to rain, AFTER it snows. We Hoosiers joke that you always get 4 seasons, just no tellin' when these seasons will hit and in what order. For that reason, my lovely wife made a purchase for me. Yaktrax Pro's arrived on my step, right as it turned 50 degrees out. So they sat...for a while. Luckily (I guess, for them) Father Winter decided to have another go of it and we have dipped back into the 20's and the snow has begun to float from the heaven's again.

Prior to Elizabeth's surprise purchase I too had been doing some research as I stumbled upon a Runner's World article about Ice Cleats. You can find that article here. I liked the description and the website of Yaktrax best, so when I told her about my future purchase, she informed me to hold off a couple days before I do it so I don't have two pairs.

When I got the Yak's I quickly put them on. You get your toe into the tip and pull the back on like a slightly small torn goulash, and then fasten the Velcro strap across the top. Easy and simple to get on. The bottom is like a crossing series of coils that dig into the surface. The overall comfort of them is pretty good. They can take a bit of fidgeting to get in a good spot. Myself having a huge size 15 foot, the XL size really gave me no issues. I am aware of the outer strap that rides by the little toe, but it's not in issue and I get no rubbing, just aware of it.

So my first run in them was a 3 mile run. The conditions were cold with old packed snow but the roads were only 40% covered. I had to run some shorter lengths on the pavement, which in the YakTrax's was not horrible, but I wouldn't encourage it for long periods of time. When I got to the snowy areas I was very impressed. They dug into the snow and felt very secure. The thing that I felt from them is now rather than "leaping" UP you pushed off and didn't think so much about your landing. I have been a pretty balanced, sure footed runner. No falls. The occasional odd ankle twist hasn't stopped me or made me tender, but in the snow I never feel "fast" because I feel like I bounce more than run. With the YakTrax, you can RUN. I did have on the occasional step, a bit of slip at toe off, but after a quick adjustment I didn't notice it happen as much. From slush to packed snow I always felt very solid in my stride.

My next outing with the Yak's was right after a full snow. As a big runner (200 lbs) I wasn't as happy with the feel because I cut through so much, I kept feeling the coils digging the concrete at toe off. Maybe in a lighter runner, this wouldn't have been so noticeable, but it was kind of annoying. With that aside, I still felt safe in the Yak's.

I would recommend these to just about anyone. It's a worth while $30 investment (or gift) that can't hurt. I would imagine there is a market for these in a trial running application, but I can't say if they would get all packed with dirt or not. I am hoping to run the Steve's Run 10k again, but would not recommend it with that much distance on the road.

I suppose the cheaper option that can be tried prior to dropping $30 into believing me is this. Has anyone tried this before? Just curious.......

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shoe Reveiw: Brooks Ravenna

By: Brent

I must admit I did the unthinkable. When it comes to RUNNING shoe shopping, it would be best if the manufacturer's would only show you a picture of the box. When you go to try on a shoe, it should be covered in black peel away plastic. You the consumer shouldn't be able to see the shoe for 2 weeks after the purchase of a new pair of running shoes. However...that is NOT the case. I have issues. I have size 15 issues. I don't often get the option to walk into a store, point at a shoe, and them skip out from the back room and try one one. So I have to rely on Runners World and Running Warehouse and other reviews to tell me how I will feel in a shoe. The problem is, I only KIND OF did that. I saw this dazzler of a shoe and thought, "i shall have you". Then as it became available and the pricing was released and it hit the shelves and was able to be purchased, I did it.


  • I have had many a pair of Asics and I really wanted to try a pair of Brooks. check!
  • I need a mild support shoe. check!
  • I need something that is made AND available in a size 15. check!
  • I mentally wanted a lighter shoe (mind you in a size 15, nothing is light). check!
  • I wanted to keep my purchase under $100. check!
  • but most importantly, I thought the Brooks Ravenna looked amazing. So I bought it.

When the shoe arrived, I got on the treadmill (huh!) and walked 1.5 miles to get a feeling for how I liked the shoe. I had no feelings. Zero. It was a shoe. I didn't think that it was super soft, amazing fit, great balance or even that it was amazingly light. I wasn't amazed, but it wasn't that I didn't like it. The problem is, I think i liked it best because of how it looked. So the next day, I brought them into work and wore them around to break them in more. Not bad. Not amazing, just fine.

So the first day comes around that I can get outside with them. I did a 2 mile out and back and they felt hard. Not painful but they just didn't have the give that my previous shoes have had. I will say other shoes before this have also been heavier shoe's so it makes sense that some of the extra foam in the bottom of the shoe has been pulled out to save weight.

Now since I purchased this shoe, not counting walking around at work, I have logged 46.2 miles. The best thing I did was pulled out the stock insole and replaced it with the thinnest Spenco insole available. This made any minor knee pain go away and I logged a 12 mile run this past weekend.

I want to add that my hope was that this shoe would be my marathon day shoe. It won't be. I have now also purchased an Asics DS Trainer 14. Very similar shoe characteristics but just feels better to me. I may even put insoles in that shoe but that has yet to be determined. The main reason I bought another shoe was to split the training distance but I think this may be my go to race day shoe. I need to log more miles before that gets determined.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

16 Weeks of Training

Marathon Sports Valentine's Day 5KImage by thomasbrandt via Flickr
By: Jeff

It is official.  I am registered for my first 5K.  Yep this guy will be running 3.107 miles in June. OK, OK I know seems small compared to uber-marathon running Brent.  Well with that being said we all have to start somewhere. So, how you ask am I going to accomplish this?
  • First:  Tell everyone I know.  Sure they'll laugh and say, "ya right".  But It will hold me accountable.  And I would feel embarrassed if I did not accomplish it.
  • Second:  Well I'm telling the world by posting it here on this blog.  How's that for commitment?
  • Third: Finally I am doing a 16 week training, following a guide by Runner's World's smart coach.
There you go. It is out there.  And now I need to go and begin this journey. I'll keep you posted on how the training is going.
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