Raiding the “Cookie Jar” – New Running Shoes Again

After my efforts yesterday to find a pair of old shoes that, I could use while I was transitioning to my New Balance MT20s, resulted in less than spectacular – to be honest nothing that I had around the house was going to work. TheWife and I decided that it would probably be wiser to go ahead and buy another pair of running shoes and that way I would have a pair to alternate in the future. Which in theory allows both shoes to last longer.

So we raided the cookie jar and used the proceeds towards getting me another pair of running shoes.

Went to Brunswick

After not really finding what I wanted in the Augusta area last week, I also decided to go down to the Maine Running Company in Brunswick – about 45 minutes away. I prefer to buy from the local running stores when possible and this is the closest running store to where I live. Plus it is really nicer to try on the shoes you are buying instead, blind sizing that you do online.

Unfortunately, when I got to the store the selection of minimalist shoes was very minimal, (their selection of “regular” running shoes was much better) especially for my shoe  size (7.5 to 8.5 depending upon the shoe). The salesperson was very knowledgeable and helpful, but the lack of inventory and not finding what I was hoping to try (the Brooks Pure Line, Altras, Newtons, Mizuno, Innov, etc.) was disappointing to say the least.

While there I tried on some Asics, they just didn’t feel right and then because they didn’t have the other shoes in my size, in mens, she brought out comparable women’s model of the Nike Free and Newtons – none looked like anything I would wear and at that point I was done. The salesperson offered to let me try on other women’s model and then they could order the men’s model – I politely declined, thanked her for her time and left.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Topsham has a Dick’s Sporting Goods, so I stopped there hoping they might have something that I wanted. I actually found a better selection than I had at the Augusta store last week. I spent almost an hour at Dick’s trying on 8 or was it 9 pair of shoes. It finally came down to the below 3 shoes that were about the same fit:

* * *
  • Nike Free Run+2, it was a great looking, light and comfortable shoe, but for some reason, it just didn’t fit quit as nice as the other two. I had done a lot of research last night and pretty much was looking for the Nike Free +3, if I was going to run in Nike again, they didn’t have it in the store yet, so I passed on the Free +2.
  • Reebok RealFlex Transition – this was very comfortable and light. I really liked both the way it looked and how it felt on my feet. With the lugs, I thought could even do non-technical trails in these shoes. I just never think of Reeboks as a shoe that I would normally buy – I don’t know why, just haven’t considered them very often before.
  • Asics Gel Blur 33 – I don’t know what it is about black and orange/orang and black lately, but it seems that many of the shoes that I like seem to have this color pattern? The Blurs were comfortable, a little heavier than the other two choices, but seemed a little more solid too. I have had good luck with Asics in the past and know that they are generally bullet-proof shoes.

The Choice

If I had seen the Reeboks last week, I probably would have gotten them then, they seem like they would be a pretty good hybrid shoe (although they are not really minimalist), but now I have the MT20s for trail running after I get used to them. Today I was looking for more of a road shoe that could do dirt roads, an occasional non-technical trail or single-track and longer distances, while protecting me from myself.

It came down to Reeboks and the Asics and truthfully was a toss-up which one fit better. The Reeboks definitely looked better to me, but the price for the Asics was $20 less and let’s face it, I am not all that worried about looks most of the time, so I went with the lower price and got the Asics Gel Blur 33.

They are not true minimal shoes with 27mm stack height and a 10mm drop, but none of the other shoes in this list could be classified as true minimal shoes either. While they are not really what I was looking for originally in a shoe, I needed running shoes today, not in a few days, so these will do fine for now, based on the choices that were available to me.

The Reality is that

It sucks sometimes about being so damn particular and wanting to try on shoes before I buy them.

Thank goodness for having that coin bottle – our cookie jar, that I used to throw my change into every day after work. We had $78 in change that I took to the bank this morning and cashed in. It is a lot easier to justify another $5 to $20 bucks out of the budget, for another pair of running shoes, than it would be for the whole price.

Disappointed

I was more than a little disappointed in not being able to support the Maine Running Company, because they do an awful lot to support running in Maine, but the selection and inventory in their Brunswick store did not meet my needs and I wasn’t driving another half hour to Portland. Going there was the only reason I travelled to Brunswick, otherwise I think I could have gotten a similar shoe to what I got here in the Augusta area and saved time and gas.

Strange how things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Here I am trying to go to more minimalist/transition shoes and yet can’t find the ones that I really want to try on before buying them in my area (Brooks Pure, Altra, Newton and some of the Mizuno line). I guess this is just one of the joys of living in Maine :-).

Next time I will probably take a chance on ordering the shoes I really want through the Natural Running Store, I know that I will get great customer service, but unless I fly out there, the only drawback is that I can’t try the shoes on before buying them ;-).

Quite honestly, the past couple of weeks has been a real pain in the butt, trying to get my running shoe situation figured out, so I can just freaking run, without injuring/hurting myself more than I already have.

Any one need a running shoe wear tester, after the past couple of weeks and all the shoes I have tried out, I have a lot more experience now :-).

10 Things I Love About Running

Valentines heart

Over at #RunChat they are having a contest where you list the 10 Things I Love About Running for Valentines Day, which I thought was a great idea and enjoyed putting this list together.  It did make me stop and think about why I do love to run.

Here are my ten things I love about running:

  1. Running clears my head and keeps me closer to “normal” whatever normal is. 🙂 I go run when life gets tough, like it did when my dad was in the hospital recently. It gives the stress someplace to go productively, instead of food, booze or taking it out on other people. Going for those runs made it so that I was still someone people wanted to be around and I didn’t go down a dark path, which many people do in those situations.
  2. Running gets me out of the house, so that my wife doesn’t encourage me to go back to work. Since we have retired TheWife has been very supportive of my running lifestyle, but at time it becomes rather expensive and from time-to-time she hints that it might be time to look for a part-time job, if I want to continue running or start racing again.
  3. Running is mostly responsible for my loosing 30 plus pounds and 6 inches off my waist since last June. When I am actively running, I look at food and exercise differently than when I am not. I am much more aware of what I fuel my body with versus just eating.
  4. Through Running I have gotten to meet a lot of great people both online and face-to-face, that otherwise wouldn’t have been a part of my life.
  5. Running gives me confidence to do more than I think I can – what was once difficult is now routine. That little hill on the circle that I had a hard time walking up last June, is now at the end of most of my workouts and I practice “kicking” up that little hill almost every day.  I am more willing to step out of my comfort zone and try things that I might otherwise walk away from a good example of this is my involvement with #FitFluential.
  6. Running helps me break through expectations and stereotypes – I am an older guy with gray hair who has retired, therefore according to the old stereotypes I am supposed to be sitting in my easy chair, drinking beer and doing nothing but watching the games on TV. I prefer to be a participant, not a spectator and when I run I am.  I become that crazy old bastard down the road who is always outside either walking his dog or running.
  7. Running has given me a focus for my blog “A Veteran Runnah” and gives me plenty to write about. I love to write and while my blog is just a personal blog I do take pride in what I write here, the ability it gives me to put my thoughts out there and possibly have others respond to them.
  8. Running is never the same – no run is exactly the same, even if it is the same course. The weather has changed, what you are thinking about changes, whether you are with someone or not, there are far too many variables for any run to be exactly like one before it or how it will be tomorrow. That is why I think many runners can run the same courses over and over without being bored about where they are running.
  9. Running allows me to get outdoors, to enjoy and see the variety of life. I run through different neighborhoods, roads, to the many trails and the many things that I have seen on these runs are: amazing, awe-inspiring or eye candy, while other things were shameful or things I never hope to see again, but if I had not been running, I would not have seen what I saw.
  10. Most of all  after running for over 40 years, running is a part of who I am, running is not just something I do.

The reality is that

Since my return to running after a long absence, (due to a non-running related injury), I really appreciate running so much more than I had in the past – when I just took being able to run for granted. Before this injury running was something that I was always able to do, pretty much whenever I wanted to do it. This last period of not being able to run when I wanted to, really changed my perspective on what running means to me.

Hell I am even moving to more minimal footwear and trying hard to change my running form, back to the how I ran in the dark ages of the 80’s (yes forefoot striking)…which is a huge step for me. 🙂

What are the ten things you love about running?

The Winter Runner Stink

If you live in colder parts of the country – you know those places that you need to dress in something besides shorts and a t-shirt to run during the winter. Someplace, where since October/November you have dressed in layers, to keep yourself reasonably warm while enjoying your daily run outside.

Well I have run outside a lot this year – since October and as a result of running so much and the layering system I use, I have worn a lot of clothes and have done a lot of sweating in them (yes I sweat outside even in the winter). Unfortunately, as a result of all this sweating, my winter running gear is getting rather fragrant.

Well to be honest, according to my wife – they #$%$ing stink!

My winter running clothes have developed The Winter Runner Stink.

What do I wear?

Most of the time I wear a short sleeve, tight-fitting base layer (synthetic or merino wool), a second layer technical or (shhhh cotton) long sleeve shirts. If it is below 30º  I  wear a fleece vest, below 10º I add a fleece jacket over my running jacket, a running jacket/windbreaker, running/wind pants or tights of  some kind to protect my legs, compression shorts, merino wool socks, hat (with ear protection) and lightweight gloves.

I also try to run 6 days a week outside. The other part is that I have started to both lengthen and increase the quality (speed) of my runs, so this all turns into a hell of a lot of laundry, every 2-4 days. I am glad that I am not doing 2 a days yet.

They Stink

Over the past couple of weeks, TheWife has been snipping at me pretty badly, about my how bad my running clothes are starting to stink in the laundry area. She sure as hell isn’t using the terms “smell a little”, or have a bit of an “odor”, nope she is a long way past those kind words to her loving husband. TheWife is letting me know in no uncertain terms that most of my running clothes stink and she is unhappy about it!

Anti-Stink

Oh we have tried different remedies

  • baking soda
  • sport washes
  • hunting scent deodorizer laundry detergent
  • hanging them on the line in sunlight – until they feel like cardboard (freeze)

and many of  the other suggested ways to get rid of stench in running clothes. I really didn’t understand what the big deal was, they didn’t smell that bad to me, but it was bothering her, so I went along with it.

Starting to Understand

TheWife has gone so far as to tell me that I can’t just throw my running stuff in the clothes hamper anymore. Why she even claimed that my running clothes were beginning to ruin her stuff – now how could she say that about my good running clothes, most of her stuff is older than they are. Unfortunately, this was one of those no negotiating or simply ignoring her on this issue, she given me the “word” and the “look” that she doesn’t want them contaminating our “good” clothes, with the stink they give off.

So when I bring them out to where we keep the dirty laundry I have to put them in a separate plastic bag and tie the bag, until the bag is full then we/I wash them. After washing they are hung outside to dry if there is any sun at all, saving on using the dryer, when we can.

I really couldn’t understand why she making such a big deal about what they smelled like and was threatening to put them all in a garbage bag and throw them away, until a couple of days ago.

Usually I can’t smell most odors (a result of cleaning chicken barns as a teenager), but even with my horrible ability to smell, I am starting to notice a certain odor emanating from me after a run. Luckily it mostly goes away after I take off my running clothes (the rest is gone after my shower).

In other words, I am beginning to understand what she is talking about, when it comes to my winter running clothes and if they are starting to stink to me, how they must smell to her. ;P.

I have to admit it – TheWife was right – again!

After running so much this winter and wearing the same stuff time-after-time (even though they are washed regularly), that my running clothes have developed The dreaded Winter Runner Stink. This condition has afflicted almost everything from most of my base layers to my running jackets, pants and hats. My clothes have developed a rather unpleasant aroma about them.

Different than Summer Stinky Clothes

How is this different from the Summer Runner Stink – you ask? It is the volume of clothes that stink! In the summer you run in shorts and a t-shirt and usually 5-6 different sets of clothes to wear. In the winter you have this kind of pile after two days of running.

Yes this is the amount running clothes in my laundry, that need to be washed after only 2 days of running. It is flowing out of the bag and threatening to take over the laundry room. This is the biggest difference between summer and winter running – the amount of running clothes that we wear and need to keep clean. Which also means a lot more stuff that can stink.

Running in Public

Fortunately after washing and hanging it on the line, the running gear doesn’t smell too bad and I can be in public with them on, until I run. However, once I have run in them the odor comes back with a vengeance – they don’t quite gag a maggot, but they are getting closer every day.

The smell that my winter running clothes have acquired this year, almost makes it so that I would not want to wear this stuff in public (at a race or even an informal run). Hmmmm maybe that is why so many people at the last race I was at sort of walked away after talking to me for a minute or two. Carrie/Jen/David let me know if that was the case 😉

I don’t want other runners to completely ostracize me for have the Winter Runner Stink.

The reality is that

it is too late in the season to go out and buy more winter running clothes for this year. Winter is almost over and soon I will be running in shorts and a single shirt again (thank goodness). TheWife and I are just going to have to deal with the odors coming from my running clothes for now, but we have agreed after I start running in shorts and a shirt that my winter running gear from this year is going to the dump – they just smell too bad to give them to a non-profit, even though they still look pretty good.

It also means going ahead and looking at the different after-winter running clothes sales this spring/summer to replace what I am getting rid of.  That is okay though, while I hate shopping in general, I do like to shop for new running stuff – it is a different beast. 🙂

I hope that I am not the only runner with this problem, because if I am something is definitely wrong.

Hmmm I know what I can blame my stinking clothes on shrinking fat cells, releasing all that built-up toxicity inside of them – it sound pretty reasonable to me :-P. That is one thing I have done this winter – gone from almost a 40 waist down to a 34 and still shrinking. Well at least I can use that as an excuse and can blame my running clothes smelling so bad on something positive and something other than having the Winter Runner Stink ;-).

I wonder if TheWife will believe this one? Nawww nice try Harold.

A quick update

At least someone in our house really likes my stinky running clothes

These are the same clothes from the photos above, we just got through drying them and put them on the bed to fold, I turned around and Bennie decided that he liked them just the way they were 😉

Questions

Is this a problem that any of you other runners out there are starting to have with your winter running clothes?

What do you do about it?

Running Away from The Winter Blahs

We are entering that time of year known up “heah” as The Winter Blahs. It is a combination of being tired of winter, being cooped up inside, not getting enough warmth or sun and knowing that we still have 4-8 weeks before the weather really breaks.

The experts talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) or Vitamin D deficiency  and give fancy labels for things that have been negatively affecting people in snow/cold parts of the world probably since “We” have been around.

I really think that my Great-grandmother Bertha’s definition for this time of year was more accurate than many of the expert’s labels. She called this time of year “The Winter Blahs”.

Winter Blahs

So what do The Winter Blahs has to do with runners?  A lot!

It seems that we need to be out in direct sunlight, otherwise we get waylaid by those ” new” winter maladies or as Grammie Bertha called them “The Winter Blahs”, when we go into hibernation mode to avoid winter weather.

Luckily most runners get outside more than the typical person during the winter (except those dark-time or treadmill runners), so we tend to get more sunshine than many do. So those maladies may affect us outside winter runners a bit less. However, I have to wonder when we are all bundled up if we are actually getting all that much more of the sun’s “healing” rays?

Still from what I see on social media sites and how I am starting to feel myself – we runners are ready for winter to be over!

Signs of the Winter Blahs

Some signs that it is the “The Blah” times are:

  • the number of other runners you see running during this time of year has decreased significantly since November. On an 8 miler just before noon yesterday, I saw only one other runner, other times of the year I would see a couple dozen at this time of day.
  • when you go to the gym the dreadmills have a lot of people you recognize on them or when you visit their house they talk about their treadmill in the basement
  • you snap at non-runners who ask you how your running is going, with that knowing smile on their face – it is after all winter
  • commiserating with running friends in person or on social media sites about how long this winter has been
  • using words like jealous, I wish, etc., when talking to your running friends on social media, when they are talking about their running in temps 40º or higher
  • tired of running all bundled up and the endless laundry that it creates – Wearing 3-4 layers of clothes and sweating in them adds a lot to the wash load
  • trying to run in shorts, even though it is 30º outside with a 20 MPH head-wind in both directions
  • tired of having your spike or screws be your primary running shoe for weeks on end
  • losing the sense of adventure that running in fresh snow brought back in November/December
  • dreading going out to run in 20º or less temps, just knowing that it isn’t going to be fun, even if the bragging rights are there
  • dreaming of those 80º days with 80% humidity with fondness
  • your winter running shoes are wearing out, but you don’t yet dare to get a pair of new running shoes, because you “know” more snow and bad weather are still going to be coming for at least another 4-6 weeks. I don’t care what the damn Groundhog says :-).

The bottom line is you are just damn sick and tired of winter running and want winter to end – NOW!.

Make the Winter Blahs Manageable

What can we do to lessen the winter blahs?

  • Run outside when it is sunny
  • Keep running
  • Get a physical – as much as I hate going to the doctor, this is a great time of year to have a physical exam. I found out that I had a significant Vitamin D deficiency this way and fixing that made a huge difference for me a couple of years ago.
  • Go ahead and change where you run 1-2 times a week. I know that I get pretty bored with the limited course selection around the house that I have, once winter weather is here.
  • Go on a trip someplace warm, Florida, Arizona, California, Tahiti, Hawaii – warmth and sun
  • Get out of the house and run in a race or run with other people
  • Did I say keep running – I think I did

The reality is that

unless you have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or a Vitamin D deficiency, there isn’t too much else you can actually do about The Winter Blahs.  Other than suck it up, take it a day at a time, suffer through the remaining bad weather and wait for better weather and yeah – keep running.

Grammie Bertha wasn’t a scientist, but she was a wise old woman who lived from a different time (born in 1888). I remember when we were kids (back in the Dark Ages) and were moping around the house during the winter, she would always tell us to “get your asses outside – being in the house all the damn time isn’t good for you in even if it is winter”.  She was a rather blunt and feisty lady, but it seems her advice about a lot of things was spot on.

Seems her remedy works – get outside, we just have to put up with the cold and snow to do it.

We also know that spring is on its way, but it isn’t going to get here quick enough for most us. However, TheWife saw a Robin for the first time the other day – 2 weeks earlier than last year’s first sighting (she keeps track of that kind of stuff), so there is hope :-). Today is bright, sunny and 43º outside right now…mmm shorts weather, possibly t-shirt

Now I just have to find where I put my shorts and t-shirts – “Hey Hon, do you remember where I…”

Maybe spring will be early this year – I can hope can’t I.

I know that I am ready for it! 🙂

The Myth – Running is Cheap

There is a myth that many in the running community seems to like to perpetuate, that all you need is a pair of shorts, t-shirt, socks and a pair of running shoes to go running.

Let me tell you the truth that it is a myth – something that may have been true once upon a time, but is not the reality in today’s world.

What do you need to run?

 

Running Shoes

Yes you need a pair of good running shoes to run – that is just the way it is, unless you want to run barefoot (and many are trying it, but alas winter in Maine make barefoot running a tad uncomfortable). However, the running shoe companies take full advantage of this need to cover our feet and the average running shoe goes for somewhere  around $100.

Sure you can you can find more expensive or cheaper models. Many of us use online sales, close-outs, etc., but no matter what – you will still be spending a lot of money on running shoes over the cost  course of your running career – just the way it is.

Running shoes usually wear out some where within a 200-500 mile window, dependent upon the model, your running style and how big you are. Wearing old worn out running shoes is an invitation to an injury of some kind. The current expert advice is change your shoes early and often.

The “experts” also usually recommend you have 2 pair of running shoes, so that you alternate running in them (so that they will not break down as quickly) especially when you go to running 2 a days.

Then you have your specialty shoes for trail running, winter running, racing or if you happen to run track – track shoes. More reasons to have multiple shoes.

Now who do you think perpetuates these ideas? Hmmmm who makes the money? But it gives us a built-in excuse to keep trying and buying new shoes – after all they are not supposed to last all that long.

Even going with just 2 pair of shoes a year, you are probably somewhere around $200 dollars and there are not too many runners that only buy two pair of running shoes a year.

Clothes

I don’t see too many people out running in their old t-shirts and cut-off shorts anymore – we are not still in the 70’s. Yes I have seen some wearing gym short, tshirts and hi-top socks, but not all that many and I live in an area with quite a few runners.

Most people have running shirts (made of technical fibers to wick away moisture) and shorts made for running. If you chafe then you probably have some compression gear to wear under your shorts. Then you need some socks preferably not cotton, which tend to give you more blisters.

Then multiply these by 5, because you probably won’t wash them every day or two and you can’t wear the clothing once you have run in them – at least in my case they stink too much and you have to hold them at arm’s length just to get them to the washing machine.

  • Shirts – A regular cotton t-shirt costs about $20, the technical versions around $30 and up for the short sleeve models.
  • Running Shorts – A pair of running shorts goes from $25 and up
  • Socks – Running in cotton socks is possible and you can get deals at 6 for $12, while the performance socks can go for $10 and up for a single pair
  • Compression shorts for those of us who chafe: $25 and up

If you live in any place other than Southern California, you have the running in bad or cold weather gear.

  • Running Jacket – Preferably one that breathes while you run, so you don’t get rained on from the inside. $80 and up
  • Base Layer top – to make sure that the sweat moves away from your body. $40 and up
  • Running Pants – can’t be wearing shorts in 30F (a least I am not) $40 and up
  • Hats – $10 and up
  • Gloves/Mittens – $10 and up

Probably if you live in those areas, you have extra cold weather gear, but once you run in them, most of us can’t wear them for other purpose – they have that certain aroma to them, at least mine do.

You probably noticed the “and up” part of the pricing – believe it. You can pay a lot of money for running clothes. While most of the running clothes are well made and will last you several years, the initial investment to get them into your dresser’s drawers or closet can be pretty expensive.

Running Gear

Then there are the GPS watches/apps for your smart phone, watches, foam rollers, calf/arm/knee sleeves, books  and all the other things that runners buy to help them run better, which have some pretty hefty price tags.

Starting Out

Add all this running gear together, it costs a pretty penny. For anyone who is just starting out running, it can be a little intimidating. After all you want to look good and feel good while you are out there running.

No you don’t have to get everything all at once and some/many things you might never get. However, most runners do buy a lot of running clothes, gear and shoes over the course of a year, especially that first year it seems as they go through the trial and error system of finding what works for them and spend a lot more than they realize on running related gear.

Racing

A cost that you don’t usually figure in when you talk about running are the registration fees for running in a race. You know that money you pay to abuse your self on race day. The cost of running in a race can be anywhere from $10 for a small local race to hundreds of dollars for large or long distance races. Running in races is not cheap by any means, especially if you want to do it very often.

The reality is

that running is a cheap sport, is a myth.

Not too many runners, run for long in what they start out with and will spend a lot of money on new clothing, shoes, gear, running in races and gadgets to support their running habit.

No wonder that sometime our significant others get so frustrated with us and our damned running habit and the small fortune we spend on gear ourselves up.

Sure you can shop smart and get discounts on running gear and save some money, but you will still be spending money and more than you think you do.

In spite of all my words of wisdom above, I still love to run and yes I have a lot of this gear that “helps me run better” – at least I think it does or at least I have to try it to see if it does or not ;-).

Now let’s see

My old techy shirts have holes in them and have “that” odor that the washing them doesn’t get out anymore, my compression shorts no longer compress, you can see my feet through the socks and my current shoes have already started the death spiral toward replacement.

I gotta have some new stuff, so I can run better. 🙂

Finally

Isn’t this what runners do – get new gear to run better and forget that running is supposed to be a simple and inexpensive way to stay in shape.

  • When did we change?
  • Why did we change?
  • Is it a bad thing that our running has gone from a relatively simple thing, to a more complex sport today, where the gear is almost as important as the act of running to some.
  • Is it time to make your running more simple again or do you like all the high-tech advantages we have gained over the years?

A lot of these questions and more, I go back and forth on how I answer them, there is no right or wrong answer, just answers.

What about you?

I know what is on my gear/clothing wish list and am researching what my next pair of running shoes might be.

What new running clothing, gear or shoes are on your wish list this year?

Researching for my Next Pair of Running Shoes

It was bound to happen, my Saucony Peregrines running shoes, after 257.6 miles are starting show some clear signs of wear, but only in one place.

In my post about Choosing New Running Shoes, I talked about doing your own research before you go ahead and buy a new pair of running shoes. This way you have a better idea of what you are looking for, what is out there and the price ranges for a particular shoe you might be interested in, when you do go to look for your new shoes.

Also you will be able to ask the salesperson “intelligent” questions about their recommendations, instead following them blindly – I don’t follow anyone blindly.  They may know a lot about running shoes, but they usually don’t know a lot about you.

Since I have noticed that my Peregrines are going to need replacement in a month or so, now is the time to take my own advice and start researching for my next pair of running shoes. So here it begins.

Background

I am 5’7″, wear somewhere between a 7.5 and 8.5 (American) shoe size and as of today I weighed 165 pounds. My goal weight is somewhere under 155, under 150 would be ideal. I am running 25+ miles a week and would like to be running 40+ miles a week by the end of the summer. I do like to run faster (even though I am still pretty slow now) and my goal this summer is to run a sub 20:00 5K.

During the past two months I have worked hard to change my running form back to being a forefoot runner, to help reduce the impact and stress to my knees. I have had great success with the Peregrine’s 4MM drop and would like to stay with a zero to 4 MM drop in my new shoes. This seems style to be working a lot better than other shoes have for me.

I do have shoes that I can wear for racing or track interval workouts, but not an extra pair of shoes that are in good enough shape to wear as an alternate daily trainer. I have some older shoes that I could wear occasionally if my new ones need to dry out or something, but I wouldn’t put them into a regular shoe rotation.

Money is tight, so looking at sale items, close outs, and other deals are a part of the equation – just the way it is.  This also means that whatever shoe I buy, probably will be a hybrid running shoe style, to do everything that I will ask of it. Since it will be the shoe that I wear running 90% of the time, since I don’t have the money to buy 2 pairs at this time.

What kind of Running will I be doing?

  • I live in the country, so I do a lot of running on both tar and dirt roads.
  • During the spring, summer and into late fall, I will be running trails 1-2 times a week. Initially I might be able to still use the Peregrines for a while, until they really start to bother my heel.
  • Luckily winter will be mostly over by the time I get these shoes and I won’t have to worry so much about snow and ice during most of this shoe’s running life.
  • No treadmill running, strictly outdoor running.

What do I use now?

Right now I am running primarily in Saucony Peregrines. They have been great shoes and done everything that I have asked of them. Unfortunately, they have developed the same problem as other Saucony running shoes have for me.  The fabric on the left heel now has a 1/4″ hole in it and is down to the heel counter, this will only get worse as I wear the shoe more. This really sucks because it will eventually cause blisters in that area, been there done that – major league BUMMER.

It is strange because other brands of shoes that I have worn do not get this hole in the heel, just the Sauconys? Weird huh.

The reality is that

I was thinking about getting another pair of Peregrines and still might, but this wearing in the heel will significantly reduce how long I can run in them without problems. However, this problem does make want to take a closer look at other alternatives, that might not wear through in this area and allow me to run in the shoes longer.

Another consideration is that while running in the 4MM lightweight shoes, I haven’t been injured and have been able to increase my mileage pretty dramatically since November. Therefore, I would like to stay with  that style of shoe or even go to a zero drop shoe, if they feel right.

Finally

This means I have to do a lot of research to find a lightweight, zero to 4MM drop, hybrid running shoe that I can use to meet my running needs over the life of the shoe.  I don’t want a shoe that is going to fall apart and wear out after 200-300 miles, I need something more sturdy than that, especially with prices of quality running shoes today.

What companies am I going to look at – all them that offer light-weight trainers that promote forefoot striking. Actually I think that I am going to enjoy this project, but the most important thing is to make sure that I get a pair of running shoes that will work for me over the next 6 months as I continue to return to running.

  • Do you have any suggestions on the kind of shoe that I should be looking at?
  • Are there specification or things I should be looking for in a shoe besides what I have discussed?
  • Other comments or suggestion that you can give me while looking for my next pair of running shoes would be appreciated.

For Guys Only – Ladies You Won’t Be Interested

Sorry ladies this post will be about as interesting to you, as your posts about bras, panties, capris or make-up are to me :-).

However, if your guy has problems with chafing – read on.

Also don’t plan on me modeling this product on my blog, I definitely am not a male model and I don’t believe too many people are interested in seeing this old fart in some underwear – it would not be a pretty site, besides I am rather modest ;-).

Last week I was complaining about my compression shorts chafing me, after my long run in my RunLog blog post, last Monday, which I linked in my DailyMile entry and I got this Tweet.

Skeptical at first

Now I had seen Ruez underwear being talked about on Twitter before and had even gone to the website to see what people were talking about. When I saw the product I just thought the product was a hoot and only a gimmick to make your “junk” look bigger and more appealing to whoever you were trying to impress.  I didn’t really give it a second thought.

However, after reading Chris’ tweet, I looked at the product review closer and saw it wasn’t a joke and that it was supposed to help guys with chafing issues. Which is a pretty serious problem for many of us guys. Chafing while I run and hike has always been a huge problem for me (ranging from painful to a bloody mess) and I don’t like using creams or vaseline type products down there — they are just usually too messy, many of these products also have ingredients that I prefer not use on my body or just plain don’t work.

I was getting fairly desperate to find a solution, because chafing is a pain in the ass and other places, which definitely affects how us guys enjoy running and other activities.

Why not take Chris up on his offer and try a pair. What did I have to lose everything else that I had tried hadn’t worked and so I agreed to try a pair of Ruez Performance Pouch Boxer Underwear out.

First Impression

I got them in the mail on Saturday and when I opened up the wrapper, I showed them to my wife and she laughed at them and said “Those are too short, they will never work and you have to put what into that hole – there were lots of shall we say, off-color, bordering on rather crude comments about that! 🙂

At that point I tended to agree with her. I looked the underwear over and yes the workmanship was well done, seams were straight and the material felt good. But the “pouch” area for your junk, just seemed a little overdone.

Changing my mind

However, when I tried them on, I immediately found out how comfortable  they were. Believe it or not guys like soft too, especially for underwear (at least this one does). I am not into having sandpaper cloth against my stuff thank you.

The cut is such that my legs did not rub together, which surprised me, because they looked too short when I first looked at them. When I put them on they were damn comfortable and rather flattering – hehehee. I figured I might as well try them on my 5.0 miler and see if they would chafe or not – the worst that could happen would be I would cut my run short and change into my old compression shorts.

I didn’t have to!

Once I got them on, situated and I got over laughing with my wife about how I had to put my stuff through the hole in the underwear pouch, they were actually quite comfortable.

When I started running in them, I was pleasantly surprised – no chafing, my stuff stayed in place (usually I am grabbing at my compression gear and re-arranging things because they are uncomfortable or shift) and my thighs didn’t get that rub rash that I get when I don’t protect them correctly. I was definitely able to focus more on running, than getting myself comfortable down there. At no time during the 5.0 mile did I feel uncomfortable or feel like anything was chafing.

This was the first long run in a long time, that I didn’t have problems with chafing – so I was impressed.

Sunday, I did a fast for me 3.2 mile run and again – no problems.

Monday I ran over 8.0 miles and this is usually the distance when my compression shorts start to chafe down there and really bother me during the run and after. I tend to get rub rashes from the material in my nether regions after about 6.0 miles. Today I ran comfortably and didn’t think about my stuff or chafing, I just ran. Which is what I want to do – just run without worrying about chafing or continually rearranging things in the nether regions.

They Work

I am not easily impressed by clothing, especially underwear, it is simply something I wear to keep my stuff in place and some other reasons that we all know about, but don’t admit to (male or female). However, I am very impressed so far with the Performance Pouch Underwear from Ruez!

This is one of those times that, I am going to go out on a limb and after only wearing something for such a short time. From this short wear-test, I have a feeling that the Ruez underwear are part of the solution to my chafing problem.

The reality is that

I was skeptical, when I first saw the ads for Ruez Performance Underwear and how they worked I laughed about them. Hell when I first saw them in my hands looking at them I was still skeptical. However, I am not skeptical anymore and the only question I have now, is not how they work to stop my chafing, but how long will they last. They are a quality product, but even quality will only last so long, when you use it a lot.

They definitely will be my go-to undergarment for my long runs! Gotta save those babies for when I really need them, until there are some more pairs in my dresser drawers.

Now that I have worn them running a few times, I am plotting about how I can con get my family to buy me some more. I think I will hint around for some on Father’s Day :-). These will probably be pretty well-worn out by then.

The Performance Pouch Underwear are not cheap at $30.00 a pair, but that is right in line with the price or cheaper than I have paid for compression shorts that don’t work nearly as well.

These are simply something that you actually have to wear and use. The pictures and descriptions do not, let you appreciate how well they actually do work in the real world.

To answer the other question that someone will ask. Yes, they are comfortable for wearing besides for running and they do “enhance” how your bulge looks if that is something you want. Personally I could care less about that, but it might be important to those of you who want to impress somebody ;-).

FTC Disclaimer – I was provided these products free of charge to review them on my blog and received no other forms of compensation to do this review. My opinions about this product are my honest observations, based upon my experience while I am using this product.

Goat Head Sole Spikes Review

Last week I was on Twitter “bragging” or was that complaining about having just run in snow/ice and how slippery it was. Matthew from Goat Head Gear asked me if I was interested in reviewing a set of their SoleSpikes on my blog.

Since doing product reviews is one of the things that I really enjoy doing, I said sure, as long as he didn’t mind an honest review of his product.  The product was sent with the understanding my review would be my honest opinions of how their product worked for me.

When I got home from the The 33rd Annual January Thaw 4.5 Mile Road Race yesterday, there was a package on the table for me. The package was from Goat Head Gear and inside was this:

It was a package of the Goat Head Sole Spikes and driver to install the spikes on my shoes, this kit costs:

After I got them and looked the SoleSpikes over, I got very interested, because during the race yesterday, a couple of the guys had sheet metal screws in the bottom of their shoes and hadn’t had the problems slipping and sliding around, like I and many of the other runners did.  Here is a picture of the road conditions yesterday.

The first thing TheWife said when she saw them was “you aren’t walking around the house with those things in your shoes”, I didn’t argue a bit, these spikes would really screw up (okay lame) the laminate floors we have.

Close-up view of the Solespike // from Goat Head Media gallery

This morning before our walk, I decided to put the Sole Spikes in my old Saucony Pro Grid Propel Plus shoes.

Instead of using my cordless drill, which would have made the job really quick and easy, I used the provided driver.  It only took about 10 minutes to do it by hand.

Pretty quick and easy. With a drill it might take 2-3 minutes.  While I was doing that TheWife brought her shoes over and said “if there are any left over put them in my shoes”.

She had been watching and looking at what I was doing pretty closely and got pretty interested. There were not enough left over for her shoes and I have some plans for hers and these shoes too, which I will talk about later.

Nope didn’t walk on the floor – I know better than to do something stupid like that, especially with TheWife watching me like a hawk ;-).

Initially walking around outside with the SoleSpikes in the bottom of my shoes felt weird, but once I got on the driveway, I immediately noticed that I was walking on it instead of slipping and sliding around – so far so good.

TheWife put on her YakTrax and we decided to go down back and really check them out and see how they worked, here is the testing area:

This is the road down back – lots of ice.

As people have driven on it, the road has several sections of ice and snowy ice. When it gets this way, we often choose to walk someplace else, not a good place to fall and hurt yourself in when it is -2 with the wind chill.

In this picture I had just tried to spin around, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

This picture is where I tried to see how quickly I could scuff up the ice, while keeping my other foot still.

Here I was dragging my foot backwards a few times about 4 feet to see if any of the spikes came out – they didn’t.

I was very impressed with how the SoleSpikes worked!

The only problem I had with them was on the clear/hard ice sections, they slid around a little then (crampons would work good on that ice), but as long as I stayed in the white ice/snow ice, I had no trouble or issues with slipping or sliding around. I did like – when I walked on the tar, it didn’t feel unnatural and I was able to walk normally, although a little louder than usual – the SoleSpikes didn’t change my gait.

Goat Head Sole Spikes worked as advertised.

This quick test also answered a bunch of questions that I had about putting the SoleSpikes into my shoes:

Would I feel the spikes through the sole? – Not a bit with these shoes. However, they might bother on a thinner soled shoe, so that is something to consider when you are putting SoleSpikes into the sole of your shoe.

How would they do on tar? No issues, but I would think that they would wear a lot more quickly with wearing them on tar/concrete.

Can I take them out? Yes without a problem, but it does compromise the sole of your shoe (puts a hole in it) so probably will affect how long you could use those shoes.  I chose an old pair of road shoes, so that I would have a good platform for the screws, but almost any shoe would work if you are careful with spike placement.

The biggest question I have and my wife asked while we were walking, was why pay for the Solespikes when you can just go down to the hardware store and buy sheet metal screws for a lot less?  According to the Goat Head Gear site the reason is:

Sole Spikes made from cold-forged, heat-hardened, corrosion resistant stainless steel for maximum durability

This is the other part of the test. Tomorrow I plan to go down to the hardware store and get some sheet metal screws. Then take the Solespikes out of one of my shoes and put them in one of the wife’s shoes and then put the sheet metal screws in the other shoes. This way we will have an unscientific way of comparing how Sole Spikes wear versus sheet metal screws after a few weeks of wearing them outside.

Looking outside with all the snow, ice and the nastiest weather of winter still to come, I know that these shoes will get a lot of use and time to see how this simple test works out.

So far I have been very impressed with how well the SoleSpikes worked. I would not have dared to go walk down that road this morning in running shoes without having something else on them. I will be interested to see how the wear test goes.

I do know that if I had these before my race yesterday that my time would have been a few minutes faster, than it was.

This is an initial product review post, where I give my first impressions of a product and then within a month, I plan to do a follow-up review of the same product to tell my thoughts about it after actually using it for while.

FTC Disclaimer – I was provided this product free of charge to review it on my blog and received no other forms of compensation to do this review. My opinions about this product will be my honest observations, based upon my experience while I am using this product.

Is Barefoot Running Right for Me?

My wonderful feet – they have a lot of miles on them 🙂

Over the course of my career as a runner, I have seen many fads come and go, especially with running movements and how to run.

Right now barefoot running is gaining a lot of popularity and publicity about being an alternative to the running shoe.

After reading Born to Run see my review here, this book really piqued my interest in Barefoot running again.

This move back to running barefoot has left me in a bit of a quandary. I admit there are some things about it that I really like and then again there are some other stuff that bother me about running barefoot.

My Definitions

There are many definitions of Barefoot running out there and the one that I consider to meet my definition of barefoot running is nothing between your foot and the ground.

Having something between your foot and the ground to me is minimalist running and is something different from barefoot running, along the same lines but is not barefoot.

Minimalist running is on a continuum from extremely thin sandals to 8MM drop fully enclosed running shoes – there is no real hard and fast definition of minimalist running.

In my opinion the use of “Barefoot running” when talking about running shoes or sandals is part of the marketing strategy by companies, to climb aboard the barefoot running advantages bandwagon and associate those advantages to their products for marketing purposes. Great strategy and it seems to be working from the number of Barefoot running shoes that I see advertised in magazines, websites and blogs. Hell I even want to try some of those shoes too.

I believe that this moving target of a definition of what barefoot running is, has caused a great deal of confusion for some runners like me, who are wondering what it is all about.

My definitions make sense to me.

My two questions about Barefoot Running

  • First is it a fad that will go the way of other fads that I have seen over the past 40 years?
  • Second is it right for me?

Is it a Fad?

I have to agree with what I have read so far, that barefoot running probably does force runners to run with a more efficient form and gait – otherwise it hurts to run, but in my opinion is not the panacea, that some of its more dogmatic proponents would have us believe. I tend to stop listening or reading and tune out those barefoot adherents who spout the “my way or the highway” gospel of barefoot running and who argue that their way is the only way. Which is unfortunate, but that is what I do and I have a feeling that many others do as well.

The Negatives

There are more than a few negatives that runners have to get by to reach the panacea of running barefoot.

From what I have read, there is a pretty significant transition period before you can actually run barefoot, after a lifetime of being in shoes, humans need some time to readjust to running barefoot. The opportunity for injury during this period is pretty good, if you overdo it too soon. I will find out a little more about this during the spring when I start going to the track and try running barefoot a little.

We also have to take into consideration that the modern landscape of concrete, tar and rubbish is much different from the natural surroundings that our ancestors had to run barefoot on. An apples and oranges comparison.

There there is the weather factor, for many of us living in the snow belt and with colder temperatures, running barefoot is not really a year round option. Sorry that is my opinion. Can it be done – sure, will many people do it – no. Most will want something one their feet, call it psychological, being comfortable or whatever you want, it is the way it is.

The other issue is that there isn’t a lot of money to be made from running on what we already own and hopefully doesn’t wear out, so the shoe companies are not going to get on board with true barefoot running and will use their marketing might to downplay its benefits.

There are other negatives, but I am not here to bash the barefoot running movement. I think that many things they are doing are good and might be good for other runners and running as a whole as well.

Mainstream?

Will barefoot running ever go mainstream?  That is a good question, while there might be seem to be a lot of proponents for barefoot running, now all they are is a very vocal minority. From my experience and observations of the running community, I do not believe that barefoot running will become the primary way of running in most places or for most runners.

Most of runners will continue to wear shoes when they run. Probably as the running shoe industry’s might, swings behind more minimalist running, that will will become more mainstream, but actually running barefoot in my opinion will continue to be a fringe group of runners.

To answer the question – Is running barefoot a fad? No I don’t believe so, but believe that it will have different periods of popularity and waning interest. Right now we are in a period of increasing popularity.

Is Barefoot running right for me?

During this spring and summer I am planning to run barefoot, as a supplement to my regular running, which will force me to improve my running form. I believe that this will be the main reason that I use barefoot running initially – to help straighten out my running form.

However due to some of the reasons above, especially the winter weather one – it gets mighty cold up “heah” in Maine during the winter.

I just ain’t tough enough to run barefoot during this time of year – yes you can call me a wimp or a wuss anytime you want. However, to do so you, you have to come to my house and run with me on a cold day during December, January, February or even March.

If you do, I can promise you a decent meal and something to drink after, plus a place to warm up your frozen tootsies, while we swap lies about our running and yes then you can call me a wimp. 🙂

The transition time doesn’t really bother me (it does a lot of people though, who just want to run), however, the different landscape is a definite concern, the trash, rubbish and junk thrown where I run is ridiculous and can be dangerous to someone running barefoot.

Are these all obstacles that could be overcome if I really wanted to run barefoot – absolutely.

The biggest obstacle

The biggest obstacle to my running barefoot is me.

I simply don’t want to run barefoot most of the time now.

There I said it, sorry Brian and the others that have attempted to convince me of the benefits of why I should convert. I just am not ready to do that yet.

I can see barefoot running as an extension to help and improve my running – for that purpose barefoot running has a place in my running tool belt, but it will not be my primary form of running.

Right now I want something between the ground or road and my foot most of the time.

Even in the book “Born to Run” the Tarahumara wore sandals on their feet when they ran. So in spite of what some of the barefoot running zealots say about the benefits of walking or running barefoot – humans turned away from being barefoot for a reason and went to running with something to protect  their feet from the environments they were in.

The reality is that

I plan to move further down the minimalist running shoe spectrum as I get more comfortable with being back to running and build my base conditioning up. I will probably move to a zero drop shoe like the Altra, Skora, Merrell, New Balance or Saucony minimalist shoes this summer. That is if I do not get another pair of Saucony Peregrines (which I just might after the positive experience I am having with my present pair).

I would like to try the Vibram Five Fingers/toe shoe or other more minimalist shoe eventually.  However, at some point I will probably find my comfort level on the minimalist shoe continuum, to the point that if I go below certain level, I don’t enjoy running as much. Then I will go back up to previous level, because I run for the joy of running and am not restricted by a certain dogma or style of running.

I simply want to run in the style or method that works for me.

Who knows, as I run barefoot over the course of the spring/summer and move further down the minimalist running spectrum, I might change my mind and run more barefoot than I anticipated. I have learned to never say never.

To answer the question – Is barefoot running right for me? Probably not.

Icebreaker Clothing – Passes the Stink Test

In my initial post of the Icebreaker Base Layer Clothing Review, I discussed the stench test.

This afternoon my wonderful wife informed me that I had a certain odor, when she got back from finishing up her Christmas shopping. I have been anxiously waiting for this day for the past week.

Stop and think, how crazy is it that a husband wants his wife to tell him that he stinks, but hey it is part my wear-test of the Icebreaker clothing, so it was worth it.

I got the Icebreaker base layer to stink, but stop and read what I had to do.
Since I received the base layer on Dec 7th, I have worn the Icebreaker Contour Crew top for 6 runs and the bottoms for 5 runs and then wearing them the rest of day until I shower later in the afternoon (usually 4-5 hours later after either sitting working on the computer or doing work outside). Yesterday on a non-running day, I wore both top and bottom all day long for a long walk and working outside.

To be honest I can’t remember ANY other clothing that I have ever owned that would have lasted this long before they started to stink and TheWife complain about how they smelled. Then again, it might have been me while in them too, when I took them off, they didn’t smell too bad, but I am a guy, who can’t smell worth a darn so what do I know :-). So I was very impressed!

We washed the Icebreaker base layer as directed and then hung them on the drying rack. They dried very quickly and when we gave them the sniff test – they didn’t stink anymore. I don’t know what Icebreaker does to their clothes to enable the claim of “no stink”, but it has worked as advertised in the short time I have had the base layer.

The gloves still do not have any odor and have become my favorite running gloves, because of their thinness which allows me to keep them on while doing many things that I have to remove my other gloves to do. However, they need a shell in windy or under 30F conditions, because of their thinness.

Needless to say I have been extremely impressed with the Icebreaker base layer clothing that were provided to me by the Natureshop to wear test. They have done everything as advertised (including the no stink) and their ability to wick sweat away from my skin to the next layer of clothing, easily surpasses my present synthetic running base layer clothing.

Actually, I had to remove the synthetic layer I was wearing over the Icebreaker top after stopping running because it was so wet after running, which wasn’t letting me warm up properly. When I removed the synthetic layer, within a couple of minutes the Icebreaker top was much drier and I was warming up.

During the past week, the Icebreaker base layers I was wear-testing performed flawlessly and I would recommend that anyone who is engaged in outdoor activities give the Icebreaker line a close look to see if they meet your needs. I know that when I decide to get new base layer clothing, that the Icebreaker line will be at the top of the list to look at for that new clothing.

I want to thank the Natureshop for the opportunity to wear-test their Icebreaker product and their commitment to provide quality natural products to choose from.

Full Disclosure: I was provided with a base layer top, bottoms and gloves to wear test in exchange for an honest evaluation of the Icebreaker base layer clothing on my blog(s) by the Natureshop. The fact that the product was provided to me at no charge, did not influence my review of these products. My review was based upon my personal experience with and use of these products.