Tag Archives: running

I was so desperate, I slipped it into a sock!

In yesterday morning’s haiku post I mentioned that my phone has a tendency to die quickly when it gets cold; in fact, a bit of searching on the Google revealed that this is a common problem – more so with iPhones than with other manufacturers, but across the board this is a possibility. In the midst of all this polar vortex with its disastrous cold spells and (Southern) city-crippling snowstorms, people are finding out that their phones do not like to operate in extreme temperatures.

One source said that Samsung phones tend to withstand lower temps because they don’t have metal backs, and this is something that I cannot corroborate, but whatever causes it is a huge problem for cold-weather runners like myself.

You see, I’m a dedicated runner. Once we have a thirst for the run, we’re like dogs who have developed a thirst for blood; if you want to stop us, you’ll probably have to cage or kill us in order to do so. Part of what keeps me dedicated is being able to look back on my metrics, to set goals and establish baselines from which I can base such goals. To this end, I use Runkeeper.

I promise, I’m not selling you anything. It’s like any runner who uses their Garmin watch or their Nike+ sensor, or some other whiz-bang gadget to track their speed, distance, elevation, location, heart rate, et cetera. I like to have it and use it more than anything to keep myself accountable to the mission of lifelong fitness. So how do I use it when I’m running out in the cold, short of duct-taping it to my groin?

No, I didn’t try that. And I won’t.

Yet.

Yesterday I had a pretty good win, I’d say – I flipped one of my wooly socks inside out, then folded it double with the fuzzy parts facing, to create a jacket for the phone. Then I got the door open, set the countdown to fifteen seconds, hit go, slipped the phone into the sock and slipped the sock into my pants pocket upside-down so cold air wouldn’t travel down to the phone.

I ran thirty-seven-plus minutes, and got back with the surf music still going. After getting inside, the phone was cold to the touch, but operated normally and warmed up quickly – signs that it hadn’t gotten <em>too</em> cold, but maybe there’s about a forty-minute guarantee on that particular sock, no?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Haiku: Ready?

Ready?

Adventure beckons!
(Photo credit: VernsPics)

If I put it off —
wait for the right time to come —
it may not happen.

 


You know that thing you want to do, but you can’t do it until this or that condition is satisfied — do you really want to let things get in the way of your intentions, or do you propose to master the Universe come Hell or high water? I’ve had this issue crop up recently with my running. I’ve kept fit for the past three years or so, and this winter I’ve had to lay back a little for a few reasons: buying/selling a house, travelling over the holidays, too much work, bitter cold weather, &c.

All of these are excuses – some better than others, but none are insurmountable. The thing is, I have cold weather running gear; I have a little time to spare here and there – why not twenty minutes to run? Holidays are over, houses are bought and sold, and now I feel like the excuses are so thin I could cut through them with a whistle.

So I did. Although my phone died because it got too cold to function and thus I have no proof on Runkeeper, I ran – for the first time since November 18th – for about forty-five minutes on Sunday. It was tough, but it was also very satisfying.

(Image credit: http://backtothefuture.wikia.com)

 

 

“Run for fun? What the hell kind of fun is that?”

 

 

That’s a good question, Mr. Haney. You see, there’s a reason running isn’t more popular – it’s hard to get into. But once you’re there, you live for the run. You grieve for each run lost to inclement weather or hectic schedules. You gauge yourself by your accomplishments, and all too often you mercilessly whip your spirit with your shortfalls. This is the depth of the true runner’s dedication, and once found it is not easily given up.

I will not give up so easily; I’m ready for this adventure – now go live yours.

P.S. if anyone has any practical experience with a product that will keep my phone warm on cold weather runs, please give me a heads-up – I’m in the market for one.

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Do I really need new running shoes?

And the answer is yes.

photoWell, I did it: yesterday I had to order a new pair of running shoes. I certainly had put some miles on my old ones; but I did not expect to wear through them so quickly, especially considering that I haven’t been able to run as much as I have wanted to.

Maybe I’m wrong about this; I have been running longer on some of my runs, and the stride is known to break down over the course of a long run. So at the end of a two-plus hour-long run, it is possible that a less-than-ideal running stride would cause excessive wear on the outer ball of my left foot. It’s interesting to note, however, that even though I pay careful attention to my stride on shorter runs, there still seems to be more and more wear at the end of each run.

Of course, I might have to expect to go through two pair of running shoes every year. If that’s the case, then I’d rather buy them both at once. I was so happy with the features of the SKORA running shoes that I’m wearing now that I decided to buy another pair of SKORA shoes, this time the “Base” model. Since their best features are built into all of their shoes, so I didn’t really see a need to spend an extra $30 on the high falutin’ shoes when the cheaper shoes would do just as well. Ask Billy Joel, he’ll tell you it’s still rock ‘n roll to him.

But I think the best way for me to look at this is like a toothbrush; they have to be replaced every so often, and a lot of people don’t replace them as often as they should. In that case, it’s better that I have a good pair of shoes with thinner outsoles, because I have more of an indication of when I should replace them, and thus my feet are healthier and stronger over the long-term.

What do you think? Do you run, and if you do, how often do you have to replace your shoes? Where are your wear patterns, and are they weird, or right where you expect them to be? Let us know in the comments.

Double rainbow, all the way!

So I had to bring on more love from the morning run. This morning I had to try to get in another little run between paying mid-month bills and going to work, and I managed twenty minutes. Not bad. The ground was still damp in places from a rain that had fallen some time during the night, and I started out by taking some nice, colorful sky pics:

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Then I saw the rainbow. The double rainbow.

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I’m like, thank you Apple for the panoramic function on my phone’s camera. Then I saw this.

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I think Mother Nature violated a state ordinance with that rainbow, but that’s still pretty darn cool.

Product review: Skora Form running shoes

About a month ago I was scrambling to find some running shoes for this year. My last running shoe review was two years ago for Vibram Speeds, and I ended up blowing through those in about four months. After figuring out I had exceeded their rated mileage by about 20%, I tried Vibram Bikilas instead, but they were uncomfortable. Then I switched to Invisible Shoes huaraches (sandals, now called XeroShoes) but I never could get used to them and ended up with a large & persistent blood blister on the ball of my right foot. I spent the tail end of the winter running in my Adidas Skeletoes (1.0) but I needed something more minimal for the summer. Enter Skora Form.

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The Form is manufactured by Skora Running (@SkoraRunning), whose tag line is “Run Real.” What initially drew me was the fact that “Skora” sounds exactly like the Russian word for “quick”, but the details intrigued me – goatskin upper, sheepskin lining, 9mm zero-drop outsole; 4mm removable, anti microbial insole; wide toe box; asymmetrical lacing system; and a high-density, wear-resistant rubber sole. I ordered them from Amazon and have been running in them for about a month.

I’ve worn these on runs ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, and I can honestly say that I have not had runs these good since running in my Vibram Speeds two years ago, and my pace is actually improved with these shoes. It feels like my running is more relaxed and laid back, but my average paces and distances do not lie. While minimalists seem to prefer a 4-6mm sole, the combination of 13mm insole/outsole did not deaden the ground-feel, which is great, and the flexibility is just superb.

After a month, the materials are holding up well; the sole appears to have less wear than I would have thought, too. The fit is true to size; I am officially a size 8, right on the line between EE and EEE for width, so I order an 8W from Amazon and receive an 8. After emailing Skora about how to tell the wide from the standard sizes I learned that they don’t make wide sizes, but some retailers carry them as both wide and standard widths because of the wider toe box. As it turns out, I didn’t have any problems with the fit. The asymmetrical lacing follows the natural curve of the foot instead of going straight up the middle, which helps you get the shoe snug without any bunching of the material.

The cost of the shoes reflects the materials involved in making them; they retail at $185, at the top of Skora’s line. Depending on the size, Amazon likely has a better price – about half that, if you are my size. Still, I can’t say it enough: good running shoes cost money, period. You can get away with decent or even passable, but I am one of those willing to shell out a little more because a.) I work my butt off, and b.) I like to run and I deserve good shoes for that. Still, the full retail is a little bit out of my range and so it was nice to get these for such a great price. Skora’s best features are built into all of their shoes, though, so even penny-pinchers can find a good pair of shoes for less.

All in all, these are hands-down the best shoes I have ever run in, and I would recommend them to anyone. Everyone is a little different when it comes to shoes, but these are definitely top-notch. My favorite feature of these is the way the laces are textured so that they don’t come untied – definitely a plus.

Comments? Questions? Leave them below. What shoes do you run in?

Disclaimer: this is an independent product review. Skora Running had no part in its creation; I did this “sole”-ly for the benefit of other runners and athletes.

Catching up, part 1: The Running Man

It’s been a while since I have written for the blog, and I feel this sense of guilt as I realize exactly how long it’s been: 71 days. What? Yes, and one thing I should not do is let this blog go more than a single month without a post. I said to myself, “Rob, don’t let it go 72 days without a post, because you understand the significance of the number 72.” Sigh. So what have I been up to?

Working and living – that’s right, same old thing as I’m always up to, but with some interesting twists. That’s how summer should be, especially when you’re sandwiching free time in between semesters at school. I’ve been enjoying the good weather, getting things done, establishing new habits, and trying to figure myself out a little bit more. Everyone should do that; being reflective is what allows us to adapt and evolve. So, here’s the first in a list of the things I have been actively engaged in for the past two months.

    1. Running
      That’s right, I’ve been running . . . a lot. Anyone who has seen my Twitter feed or Facebook posts knows that I have been running nearly every day, and I’ve seen my distances increase to as much as 15k, or about 10 miles, at one time. I even got a brand new pair of New Balance running shoes to replace the Adidas that finally began to wear beyond what I considered to be acceptability; my feet are wide enough that my left pinkie toe had worn right through the side of the shoe.     I was really proud of these new shoes because they were made in the USA, I got them on clearance, and they were the exact right size – 9EE. That’s a wide size, guys. But a week later, I discovered religion in the form of barefoot running, and I haven’t worn the New Balance shoes since. I feel like I threw away that money, which was still twice as much as a cheap pair of running shoes. But I think I’ll still hold on to the shoes for the time being, at least until I feel okay with donating them to the Dakota Boys’ Ranch.     I read an inspiring book called Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall which explains how everything we know about running may or may not be misinformed or just completely wrong. I realized that with a bare minimum of (good) protection for the soles, I could train to be stronger, faster, and to have more endurance than I ever could with fancy, cushy running shoes that offer arch and heel support, motion control, and everything else. I recommend it to anyone, however, who has even the slightest inclination to be inspired by the strength of the human spirit.

      I started out actually running barefoot, but then I got a blister that became kind of an open wound on the bottom of my foot, and Karisa told me it would be stupid to run like that. With the incentive of proving my high level of intelligence, I went out and purchased a pair of Vibram Five Fingers Sprints. Thanks be to the almighty credit card! These are a newer breed of running shoes, designed to protect your feet from damage while allowing most of the tactile and prehensile properties of the foot to function, and are part of a category called “minimalist shoes” that put less distance between the foot and the ground. The rule of thumb is, for minimalist running, the sole should be flat – meaning no raised heel – and thin. For minimalist / barefoot running, the shoe ought to be able to pass the “twist test.” Grab the shoe at each end, and twist as though you’re wringing out a towel. If it twists easily into a helical spiral, then the shoe will allow your foot to do what it does without much resistance, and that’s a good thing.

      The real challenge here is adaptation. Running without a raised heel allows the calf and achilles tendon to lengthen over time, which results in some pain. Pain I can handle – it’s the recovery that kills me. The longer I have to go without running, the more antsy I get, the more I just want to fling open the door and just go. Is that bad? I don’t think so. Running is free, and I’m a go-getter for free stuff that I will use. Another adaptation is my gait. Running shoes were invented just a few decades ago in the interest of lengthening a runner’s stride by allowing them to comfortably reach out and hit the ground heel first, thereby giving them a distinct advantage over the runners who were still wearing Converse, who ran with an upright, shorter, quicker gait. This paradigm shift has translated in the ensuing forty-ish years into cases of knee and foot injuries, plantar fasciitis, and achilles injuries that would not have happened otherwise, resulting in runners being put out to pasture by their doctors.

      I had gotten used to the “running shoe” gait, and have spent a great deal of mindfulness developing the barefoot gait instead – back straight, feet under hips, head up, gaze straight forward, arms loose and still. Some barefoot bloggers say not to over-think it, while others describe it in such incredible detail that it’s hard not to focus on the gait. But I think I finally got it when I started running to work and back home earlier this week. I’ve got my work clothes there, and I decided that I’ll take them there every Monday and bring them home to wash every Friday. The shoes, watch, knife, and water bottle can stay there, but the shirt and pants have to be washed (“once a week,” you say? “Good lord!” Well, I’m not stinky, sweaty, dirty, or particularly given to B.O. so I have a leg-up in that department. I still look great at work, even when my clothes are box-dusty.)

      So, long story short, running is one thing that I have been doing this summer, and I have been doing it with a great deal of zest and mindfulness. I plan to do 15k tomorrow morning, and next weekend I’ll be participating in the Subway 10k roadrace around the Bismarck State College campus. Life is good!

So tell me, what’s been keeping you bees buzzing about all summer? Let me know in the comments.

Now, I’ve literally got to run!