serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for December, 2008

Footlocker Faces a Gift Card lawsuit

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Apparently Footlocker faces another lawsuit for their gift cards. The suit was filed in California and charged that Foot Locker illegally sold pre-paid gift cards that are not redeemable below $10. If you received or gave a gift card from Foot Locker this past Christmas and were not able to redeem the full value past $10 you may be entitled to the remaining balance. The court documents said, “…as a result of this deception, defendants have been able to sell more gift cards and products, which constitutes unjust revenue and profits.” Either way, unless you know exactly what type of running shoe you want, Foot Locker probably will not be you best option to give you the information you may need to find the right running shoe for you.

I suggest going to a local shoe store that specializes in running shoes. They can give you a lot of tips and often let you try out the shoes before purchasing. Everyone’s running style is different so just because the shoe fits does not mean you have to wear it! If you don’t have a running shoe store near you, you can check out all the shoe reviews on this site. Otherwise you will have to base the value of running shoes based solely on price and no one wants to do that!

Winter Running Tips

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Cold weather running can be a motivation killer.  Don’t let it be.  Look at it as a more extreme run.  There’s no better feeling than when people see you out running and say, “Look at that guy/girl running in this!”  Weather can turn a normal run into an extreme run, but there are still things you should do to mitigate the elements.

One thing you can do is vary the time of your run.  When it is cold out I suggest running during midday.  It’s a great way to push away from your desk, get outside, de-stress about the day, and think about what you still need to accomplish.  I do suggest showering before returning to work.  Don’t be that extreme.  Try to eat a small snack about an hour or two to get the most out of your run.  It’s a great way to break up the day.

When it is really cold outside I try to get the best work-out I can while being outside for the least amount of time possible.  Try running 400-800m intervals but make sure you stretch to prevent pulling a muscle in the cold weather.  Or you can try running up hills.  It’s a great way to keep your body warm while building your legs and lung capacity.

Lastly, make sure you are wearing the proper clothing for the weather.  You should be a slight bit cold when you first step outside because you will get warmer as you start your run.  Make sure you wear plenty of layers of thin clothing.  Try to wear a technical shirt as a base layer that “wicks” away or carries your sweat away from your body.  For your outer layers, try to wear a jacket with zippers so you can adjust accordingly during your run.

My sister-in-law suggests running on a treadmill.  My 65 year old mother suggests running inside your house.  I suggest you stop being lame, get serious, and get outside!

Music for Running

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

On my runs I notice that most runners prefer to listen to music while running.  I have noticed that it is not confined to only a certain group of runners.  I have seen old people, stroller pushing people, track sprinters, and even someone carrying a CD Man (that’s serious).  As a thinker and a non-music listening runner I began to think about these people and wondered what they were listening too and why do so many people run to music?

Research has confirmed the benefits of exercising to upbeat music. In a study by Porcai and colleagues, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, volunteers listened to music of various tempos while they worked out on stationary bicycles. The researchers found that the cyclists’ pedaling speed increased as the music tempo increased. Their heart rates and power outputs also varied (Porcai, J. “Effects of Music Tempo on Spontaneous Cycling Performance”, Meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Kansas City, Usa/Missouri, October 16-19, 2003)

Len Kravitz, (not to be confused with Mr. Lenny Kravitz who I do suggest you listen to while exercising) an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, in an article on the university’s website, cited a survey of 70 college students enrolled in an aerobic dance class. (Gfeller, K. – 1988 – Musical components and styles preferred by young adults for aerobic fitness activities. Journal of Music Therapy, 25, 28-43). In his summary he states, “97% of the students felt (perceived influence) that the music affected their performance during aerobic activity. Respondents identified the following factors that influenced their aerobic performance: music style (97%), rhythm/beat (94%), tempo (96%), lyrics (77%), volume (66%), mood (37%), and melody (17%). The results of this study support previous research that indicates that music benefits students from a motivational standpoint” (Nelson, D. O., & Finch, L. W. – 1963 – Effects of audio-analgesia on gross motor performance involving acute fatigue. Research Quarterly, 33, 588-592).

While I usually do not listen to music on my runs, I have experienced the benefits of running to a cadence from my four years of service in the United States Army.  Runners that do not have the benefit of someone yelling a beat at them can find music as a pace setter.  It is important to find the songs that have the right BPM (beats per minute) for your pace.  To figure out your BPM go on a run with a playlist of varying paced music and pay attention to what songs are the most comfortable to you.  Once you have established your BPM, add similar songs to your run list.  There are a couple of websites available that categorize songs by BPM and even sell mixed CDs and digital music.   Apple Computer, Inc. is also getting serious about music-paced running. They have partnered with Nike to form Nike+iPod and to market the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. A sensor in the Nikeplus running shoes tells the runner how far he/she has run and how fast. All of the data can be synched, stored, and displayed on the iPod and the website. They also have posted “Nike Sport Music” on the iTunes Music Store. While not specifically selected for music-paced running, the playlists are designed to motivate the runner. And there is more. Apple has applied for a patent for an iPod program that will vary the tempo of iTunes songs to match the runner’s cadence. It will also allow the runner to select a song with a tempo that already fits her or his pace.

New Years Resolutions to Run

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I was recently speaking with one of my friends the other day who said, “My New Year’s resolution this year is the same as last, to lose weight.”  Of course I laughed out loud at my friend’s obvious irony.  I told him what he needed was a more concrete, realistic goal.  If weight loss was the only thing he wanted to achieve, then set a goal in pounds, but then I began to think, “Is weight loss really what he is looking for?”  I think too many of us set weight loss goals in pounds lost and ignore all of the other positive attributes we gain from being in better shape.  Whether it be walking up a couple of flights of stairs without losing our breath or looking better in our clothes, weight loss doesn’t have to be all about the weight.  So I decided instead of a weight loss resolution my friend should just make a “Resolve to Run.”  I then quickly created a group on facebook at to see if others would get behind my cause.  Feel free to join this movement!

I consider myself a serious runner, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to constantly set goals to challenge myself in running.  In order to get behind my own movement I have decided to set a goal this year to qualify for the Boston marathon.  This past year I ran a marathon in which I finished 14 minutes over the qualifying time for Boston.  So I would say this is a lofty but very achievable goal for me.  Wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted on my progress on this blog.

So why get behind Resolve to Run instead of simply to run instead of lose weight?  I’ve found that there is no better way to lose weight and burn calories than to run. I’m not a doctor, but I am a dude who went from 185 to 155 pounds about two years ago and have kept it off! It is simple. No matter what television commercials say or what you tell yourself, the bottom line is: The only way to get the most effective use of your workout is to “beat the street” (or trail). You WILL burn calories. Along with the weight loss benefits you will become more fit overall. You’ll even become more mentally fit, running is the best stress reliever I’ve ever found. Running just makes you feel good. Don’t you want to feel good?

If you Resolve to Run you will stick with it for the whole year. The main reason is because you are able to give yourself positive feedback along the way. Every time you finish a run you feel a sense of accomplishment. Set your goal to run a certain amount every week and then challenge yourself to improve upon that. You will improve. Another great way to get a sense of accomplishment is to make that race you’ve always wanted to run your goal. Honestly, I’ve accomplished many things in my life that I can be very proud of (like being a contestant on the “Price is Right” Bob Barker era), but finishing a marathon ranks in my top five accomplishments for sure. Shoot, I even have it on my resume under interests! Maybe your Resolve to Run will land you a new job. Hey, anything helps in an economy like this one. Did I mention running is free?

So this New Years make a goal you can keep, Resolve to Run. You’ll lose weight, feel healthier, and maybe even accomplish something you can hang your hat on for years to come. So get out there and just RESOLVE TO RUN!  Finishing time this past March at the National Marathon in DC