serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for May, 2009

Why be a Serious Runner?

Saturday, May 30th, 2009


Because you want to look like this guy.  There are many other reasons why people want to take running more seriously.  It may be that you want to lose weight.  Running is a great way to burn calories.  Or possibly you want to live an overall healthier lifestyle.  A friend of mine told me today how he likes running long runs on early Saturday mornings because it gives him more incentive to not partake in unhealthy activities on Friday nights; plus it starts his Saturday off right and gives him the rest of the day to get other things accomplished.  Making running a part of your daily routine gives you time to think about what you still need to accomplish, while also giving you some structure to your day.  Many other people point to an increase in energy as a reason to run.  Whatever your reason is, you are serious about your running.  And that’s what I dig about you the most.

So whether you are a basic, advanced, local champion, or semi-elite runner, we are here to provide the best information for all things running.  No matter where you are in your training, or what goals you have to accomplish, is here to help you become a serious runner.  As for me, Chris Barber, I’m also here to help you become as awesome as you can be.  You’re welcome.  According to the book “The Competitive Runner’s handbook” which was given to me by my sister-in-law, my race times fall into the local champion category.  It makes sense.  I can finish in the top 3 overall in local races and finish in the top 1% of runners in the larger races.  I think being a local champion is pretty cool.  I’ve always wanted to be the Mayor of a small town rather than a State Governor anyways.  Vote Barber (peace signs).

However, I wasn’t always a local champion.  I ran pretty well on my High School cross-country and track teams.  I was good enough to run for a cross-country team at a small college but opted for attending a large University instead.  After college I went in the Army, gained 30 pounds for Ranger School and kept the weight.  I continued to run but also ate whatever I wanted and didn’t focus too much on my running.  It was part of my job, why go to work when you don’t have to?  Now I am running for me and running the best times I ever run in my life.  Running because I love it; because I want to look hot;  because it makes me think clearly;  because it gets me outside for long periods of time; because of the sense of accomplishment I get;  because it allows me to be competitive; because I’m the HeadRunner at  Wait, running is work again!  That’s right; and I’m working hard.  All-the-time.

My point is, I’m not a serious runner or a local champion because of characteristics that are inherent to me, it’s because I work at it.  I know I’ll never be an semi-elite runner and honestly, you probably won’t either.  Sorry, but I hate break it to you, not every child can grow up to be President.  However, I am the President of the Chris Barber fan club.  Go ahead and become the president of your own fan club by taking running more seriously.  Make becoming a serious runner a goal.  You can attain it and I’m here to help.  But at it’s not just me providing you the help.  There are many other basic, advanced, local champions, and semi-elite competitive runners here who provide feedback as well as reviews and recommendations.  Use our resources like runinng shoe reviews, running questions, training plans and mapping tool to help you along the way.  Find races and cool trails to run to keep you motivated.

We’re here to help you become a serious runner.  Let us know what we can do to help.

People ask me all the time, “Dude, are you serious?!”  And I tell them, “You know it!”

Shin Splints

Friday, May 29th, 2009

One of the toughest injuries to deal with as a runner are shin splints.  Mainly because they are caused by too much running and the only proven way to fully recover is not to run.  So pretty much you get injured doing something you love in excess; and then the only way to heal from that injury is to abstain from that activity.  See, abstinence can be a good thing.


Shin splints are caused by the repeated stress on the shin bone (or tibia for you MD types) and the tissue that connects the muscle to the shin.  Shin splints may occur for a couple of reasons.  Perhaps you changed to a new running shoe that doesn’t have as much support as you are used to.  Or you may have started running on different surfaces, like running trails.  Most likely though, you have just been pushing yourself too hard.  Running more than your body is used to and causing too much stress on your tibia.  Stop being a stress monkey and just let your body relax.

The first signs that you may have shin splints are that you feel pain on the front/lower part of your leg and may have mild swelling.  The pain starts as a dull ache or soreness when you begin running.  The more you run, you start to develop a more sharper pain throughout your work out.  If you keep pushing through this pain it can lead to a sharp pain in your shins even when you are done running.  If you have pushed yourself this far, don’t be ashamed, we all love to run, but you may need to see a doctor to get an X-ray and rule out a possible stress fracture.  Running is cool.  Stress fractures?  Not so much.

But this won’t happen to you right?  You’ve been listening to your heart.  So when you start feeling the first signs of shin splints what can you do?  The best thing is rest.  You know you’re good at doing that.  If you want to keep yourself active then try other low impact activities like swimming or biking.  If you love running too much and don’t want running to feel like you abandoned her, then try running on softer surfaces such as dirt or grass.  Also, try to avoid hills and reduce your distance and duration.  Don’t worry, running will understand.

But wait, you can do more!  Stretches can help shin splints.  Elevate your legs so they are parallel to the ground and point your toes forward to stretch these muscles.  If you have swelling and pain, ice yourself.  Try to ice 10-20 minutes 3 times a day; or as much as you have time for.  For optimal results start calling yourself Iceman by referring to yourself in the 3rd person.  All of that too much work for you?  Then improve your shin splints when you sleep.  Elevate your lower legs with a pillow or something else when sleeping at night.  See, healing shin splints is so easy.

You may be a serious runner but shin splints are just as serious as you are.  Stop being cocky and give them the respect that they deserve.  Respect-da.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 4 Running Shoe Review

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I recently got a new pair of running shoes, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 4s and I love them.  Why didn’t I get the Mizuno Wave Inspire 5s?  Because it’s a bad economy.  I know, 5 is higher than 4; therefore, better.  But I don’t think there is much of a difference between these versions of running shoes; just minor changes that aren’t worth the price difference to me.  Didn’t you know it’s cool to be cheap these days?  It’s also cool to be retro.  Double cool points.


I was a New Balance guy when I was in High School running track and cross-country.  Then I was a Nike dude when I was running in the Army.  After the Army I got more serious about my running (pun intended, why is everyone unintending puns?  Puns are great!) I was a Brooks runner.  Now I’m a Mizuno man and I feel great about it.  The Mizuno Wave Inspire 4s are a great stability running shoe with more cushioning than other stability shoes I have worn.  They seem to be built wider than normal running shoes which isn’t an issue because I find that over time shoes narrow and mold to my feet.  To help this process I add my own, shorter shoe laces (see picture above) to all of my new running shoes.  Check out my research on why running shoe laces have become so long.  I’m a running shoeientist.  Although these shoes are a bit loose, my heal does have a snug fit in the Mizuno Wave Inspire 4s because of the stretchy fabric to the upper, in front of the heel counter which helps isolate the ankle’s outward motion.  This seems to curtail my overpronation some.  I’m always doing things in excess.  I also like the cushioning in the heel which is due to the VS-1 shock-absorbing cushioning compound.  The Mizuno Wave Inspire 4 has a medium arch which seems to be right for me but I don’t pay as much attention to my arch as I should.  The only negative aspect I have found with my Mizuno Wave Inspire 4s is that the tongue seems to be too narrow and folds under the edges sometimes.  You just have to be aware of it and make sure you don’t let it start rubbing your foot.  Much like a male canine.

So what’s the moral to this story? The Mizuno Wave Inspire 4s are pretty legit and you should buy them.  That, and that you should keep trying different running shoes until you find the best one that fits you at the time.  It’s OK to change up the type of running shoes you wear.  It’s good to keep your body guessing.  Don’t you want your body to stay interested in running?  Stay mysterious.  Soon your body will be eating out of your hands…wait…

San Francisco FrontRunners 30th Annual Pride Run

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

California has done it again.  They’re setting trends.  About two weeks ago California struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages saying that, like race or gender, “does not constitute legitimate basis on which to deny or withhold legal rights.”  A trend that other states are sure to follow.  A friend of mine this weekend said she is finally getting married after 7 years of co-habitation in her opposite-sex relationship.  She had not gotten married because she did not want to support an institution that did not allow same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples.  Looks like she can’t use that excuse anymore.  Now everyone has the right to monogamy, shared financial burdens, and having to share a bathroom!  Finally, every person is treated equally!  However, not all races are equal, that’s why I want to tell you about the awesome San Francisco FrontRunners 30th Annual Pride Run.

Gay/Lesbian Pride Run

The 30th Annual Pride Run will be held on Saturday June 27th at 9am at the Golden Gate Polo Field South Entrance.  There is a race distance for every type of runner with a 5K walk, 5K run, and a 10K run.  The race winds around the polo fields in this beautiful San Fransisco park.  Awards will be handed out to the top female and male finishers in the 5K and 10K.  Also, awards will be given to the top finishers in each age division starting at >20, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70+.  The awards ceremony is conducted after the race at the complimentary BBQ.  What a great way to end a race and enjoy your fellow runners over some cooked meats and sides!  But don’t just enjoy getting to know the other runners at the post-race festivities, plan to attend the pre-race social for $5 in advance and $10 at the door with light refreshments, drinks, and fun.  Hanging out with other runners is always fun!  That’s why you’re here isn’t it?

This years beneficiary of the Pride Run is the Gay-Straight Alliance.  The gsanetwork is a youth leadership organization that connects school-based Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to each other and community resources.  Through peer support, leadership development, and training, GSA Network supports young people in starting, strengthening, and sustaining GSA’s and builds the capacity for them to create safe environments in schools to learn about homophobia and other oppressions, educate the community about sexual orientation issues, fight discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools.  Run the 30th Annual Pride Run this year and support this very important organization.

Go ahead and register for this awesome race supporting a great cause!  Race prices are steady from now until June 17th.  Online registration will be closed on June 24th at 8:00 am.  If you don’t trust the Internet then print out a paper registration and send it by regular mail.  Or you can register on race day from 7:30-8:30.  Options are always good.  Make the right choice and run the San Francisco FrontRunners 30th Annual Pride Run!

How to Run in a Running Skirt

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The things I go through in order to give you the most complete information on running; male or female.  When running the SkirtChasers – Raleigh this weekend I thought it would be a perfect time to conduct some research on skirt running so I borrowed a pink skirt from one my a female friends.  Running in a skirt made sense because the race was called SkirtChasers but then when I thought about it, why was I the one wearing a skirt?  I was doing the chasing.  Did I want the men to chase after me?  Of course not, but I did want to get the experience so I can share it with you.  I’m always working.  I also thought maybe I could line up with the women at the start and win $500 first place prize but decided better against starting any controversy.  So I donned a pink skirt and got ready to run a fun 5K.


Although I am a serious runner, I don’t have to take myself seriously.  A fun 5K is not the time to try to attain your PR, it’s all about a good time.  I ran the SkirtChasers to have fun, enjoy the race, and hang out at the great after party.  Honestly, their concept is close to genius.  Women run this race because they like getting free running skirts.  Men like chasing women and attending events that women are at but SkirtChasers takes it one step further; the single men and women wear a sticker to signify their singality (trust me, it’s a word).  How efficient!  However men, if you really want to attract women at this race then wear a skirt.  Preferably pink.  Sometimes exuding confidence just isn’t enough.  At an opportunity like this you have to step up your game a bit and put your confidence out there for everyone to see.  So what did I learn from running in a skirt?  That I’m sexy…well, that and:

You feel less restricted. Although I had bloomers on (I think that’s what they are called) underneath my skirt I honestly did feel less restricted.  My legs were able to make fluid movements without tight shorts restricting them.  I felt like a gazelle.  A fast female gazelle.

You can look pretty while kicking butt. Every male I passed gave me a great boost of confidence.  I could hear them thinking, ‘I can’t believe a guy in a skirt is beating me.’  I assume it is the same feeling for females wearing a skirt passing a male.  I wouldn’t know though, it’s never happened to me.

You don’t lose speed. Even though I was running this race for fun and didn’t keep time for myself I still ran it fast.  Even when running in a skirt I can’t give anything less than my best when I get out on the race course, no matter what I tell myself prior.  The skirt held up fine, not slowing me down one bit.  It may have even helped me run quicker.  Women are always getting unfair advantages.

Make sure you get the right size. When passing some of the females I did see some that had skirts that were too small.  How could I tell?  Well, when they bounced you could see their lower bum.  Trust me fellas, I’m very conflicted giving out this piece of advice but I’m just an honest guy…even when it hurts.

It was cooler. I did really enjoy the breeze it gave, keeping my overall body cooler.  If you feel cooler, you’re going to run cooler.  It’s simple math.

Overall, I suggest women try running in skirts.  And no, I do not plan on wearing running skirts from now on.  Although I did buy some pretty sweet running kilts today!

Coventry’s 5K Run and Walk

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from presenting these opportunities for naked races so I thought I would share the next naked run with you.  The 2009 Nudist 5K series is the Coventry’s 5K Run and Walk.  The race will be held on June 27th at 9:00 am at the Coventry Club & Resort, Milton, Vermont.  This race is run over gravel and trail on the beautiful Coventry Resort property where you can have fun and relax all day after running the race.  Yes, this race is part of the 2009 B.A.R.E. Butt Chasers East Coast Race Series and your time will count toward winning the Butt Chaser award at the end of the season.  What an accomplishment!  Your mother would be so proud.  So let it all hang loose and register for this naked race.  Racing with clothes on is for suckers.  I bet my technique to run my maximum pace would work really well in this race.

Techniques to Run your Maximum Pace

Monday, May 25th, 2009

This weekend I ran a fun 5K, the Skirt Chasers – Raleigh.  The women start 3 minutes before the men who then have to “chase the skirts.”  I enjoy running these types of local 5Ks because they are a lot of fun and keep me competitive.  This race kept me more competitive than usual because I was chasing down women.  It was a good change though, women are usually the ones chasing me.  I actually have used chasing down women as a motivational technique in a race before.  Seriously.


This past March I ran the Georgia ING half marathon and was late to the start.  I got to the race on time but was using the restroom when I heard the start gun.  I finished what I was doing, ran towards the start line but there were tons of spectators and I couldn’t get to the front group where I needed to be.  I decided I had gotten as far as I would so I jumped in the middle of the crowd to walk toward the start line.  I was sandwiched between old men and Moms.  No offense though, I love Moms, I even have one.  I had my Garmin Forerunner 205 with me but I had forgotten to turn it on at the start.  Also, when crossing the start line I wasn’t paying attention enough to see what the time I was starting after the official start time.  I had no idea what my time was, just what my body remembered my pace should be.  However, although I didn’t know my distance, I was able to track about what my pace was using my Garmin Forerunner.  I had to make sure I kept my pace and pushed myself harder.  There wasn’t any other runners around me that were running the same pace or trying to attain the same time.  I was all alone with a goal to break 1:25.  In order to keep pushing myself I decided I needed to find a motivational technique to keep me at my max pace.  I saw a good looking female in front of me so I told myself I would catch her.  Once I ran past her I looked for another female.  My motivation was that I knew my time was not what it should be if there were females around.  So I made sure I passed her.  I continued this technique until about mile 10 when I ran out of females to catch but I then applied the same principal to males that I thought looked older than me.  This technique worked for me and I still use it when I race.  It was a little more difficult this weekend with the females having a 3 minute head start but I manageg to beat a good portion of them.  Sometimes you need a little more motivation to beat your competition.  Determine your technique and run your maximum pace!

Mayor Newsom’s 4th Annual Stadium to Stadium 10K Challenge

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


As you take off your shirt at the lake or pool this Memorial Day weekend and realize you are behind in your “getting into summer shape” plan, think about making a goal for the next race you want to run.  May I suggest considering running the 4th Annual Stadium to Stadium 10K Challenge – AT&T Park to Candlestick Park?  Thanks.  Join Dean Karnazes on June 20th to support Mayor Newsom’s race running from AT&T Park to Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  You get two stadiums for the price of one!  This race’s net proceeds benefits Communities of Opportunity which is an initiative to improve the quality of life in public housing developments in the Southeast sector of San Francisco.  What a great way to improve the community you live in by running.

If you’ve run the Stadium to Stadium 10K Challenge before then you already know this is a fun event on a great race course; however, just like us as runners, this race is constantly improving.  For instance, there will be 5 additional aid stations at the start, Justin Case.  Also, additional buses are slated for transportation to start line from Candlestick park.  I know, you would rather run to the start line and turn around and run the race, but in case you get tired there will be a seat empty and ready for you on the bus.  Stadium to Stadium has also taken a green initiative this year to reduce the impact on the environment using biodegradable cups, plates, sporks (the name of my first garage band), and race bags.  This not enough to entice you to run the Stadium to Stadium 10k Challenge again?  How about $5 off fee to last year’s participants?  I thought that would motivate a bit.  Want more motivation to train hard and run your best?  How about mad prize money?  Cash awards of $100, $75, and $50 dollars will be given to the top 3 Male and Females in each age group starting at 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60 years and older.

Leverage your entry fee and take full advantage of the Health and Fitness Fair where they will have great entertainment for the kids and free services for you from local vendors.  You can go to Stanford Eye Laser Center who will provide LASIK and read the prescription on the glasses you bring.  Maybe you want to check out Chiro – Health so they can check you out; with spinal screenings, leg length check-stand, and provide ice packs.  Or just lay down and relax and get a massage and health survey from Darrow Chiropractic.  There will also be free food provided by Cafe Coo such as pasta salad, bagels with peanut butter, fresh fruit, PopChips, Agua Fresca, Nutrition Bars, and Joint Juice.  All the energy you need before the big race!  Bring the kids along to enjoy the pony rides, bouncy house, 100 yard dash on the 49ers’ home field, dunk Dwayne Jones, and climbing wall while you sit back and relax while listening to the music of Lolita Sweet.  Sounds pretty Sweet to me.

Register now, plan to have a great time, and make this race your reason to start back running for the summer!  You’re back baby!

Why Should You go Trail Running?

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Why should you go trail running?  Because it’s awesome.  There you have it.  Or because I do it.  Double awesome.  Seriously though, as Memorial Day weekend approaches I encourage you to take a day, grab a couple of friends, a camera so you can add pictures to, and whatever else you need and go trail running!


Trail running is a great way to escape your normal life and experience nature.  I prefer trail running to road running any day of the week…except the days that attractive people are out running on roads.  But when I want to feel my run, realize my run, and experience my run, I head for the trails.  I want to be one; with my run.

Trail running is optimal for experiencing the environment because the pace is perfect.  You’re not slashing through trees and hopping over rocks like a mountain biker.  Also, you’re not taking so much time to traverse the trail that you aren’t able to see and experience everything which can happen when day hiking.  Trail running is just right.

I also encourage you to go trail running because it takes very little capital requirements.  You don’t need a fancy bike or a top of the line backpack to trail run, you just need your two feet.  Well, maybe you should get some trail running shoes to put on those two feet.  I know, you only need two feet to go on a day hike too, but that just sounds lame to me.  My Mom goes on day hikes.  My grandparents used to take a day hike everyday.  You’re a little more extreme than that.  You are a runner.  You run everyday.  Tell hiking to take a hike.  Zing!

So search for a local trail, take a short drive, and go trail running this Memorial Day weekend.  You’ll enjoy it.

Bare Hare Duathlon North

Thursday, May 21st, 2009


I thought this was a really cool race that is has a bit of an unusual twist.  It’s a duathalon, but it’s nude.  Honestly, I don’t have an affliction toward nude races but it is intriguing.  Come on, riding a bike nude?  That’s crazy.  I’m talking about a mountain bike too, not some fat seated beach cruiser.  The Bare Hare Duathlon North is at the Sunny Rest Resort in Palmerton, PA on June 20th and is hosted by Butts A’ Running Bare Race Management.  For more information contact Sue Butts or Gary Butts.  I’m serious.  That’s their legal names.  The race consists of a 1.5 mile run on paved roads, a 9 or 4.5 mile mountain bike ride depending on your experience level (although it is a nude race you still have to wear your bike helmet), and then a 5K Trail Run to finish.  If this is too extreme for you to do the duathalon then there is a 1.5 mile fun walk on paved roads as well.  Do the Du…you.

The beginning run winds through the mostly paved roads of Sunny Rest Resort with a challenge towards the end, a 100 yard uphill run on paved surfaces.  It won’t be tough for you though.  Then you are on the bike.  The mountain bike trail is 2 loops on wide groomed paths of hard pack soil, rocks, and exposed roots along with streams and mud.  There are some climbs and decents that will be marked.  The last leg of the race, the trail run is a single loop on trails with the same terrain as the mountain bike leg.  Once done you have completed the “Du-ing,”  the only clothing-optional duathlon ever in the world!  Now that’s an accomplishment.

Make this a destination race.  Sunny Rest Resort and Campground has more than 100 camping & RV sites.  Tenting sites are also fit for electric.  If you are not into roughing it (I don’t blame you, could be pretty rough being naked and all) then they have over 20 motel rooms available.  There are over 190 acres for you to enjoy the trails and nature while being very natural yourself.

Race registration is $40 for individuals and $70 for teams if done by June 12th.  After that the prices increase by $10.  Registration to walk is $20.  You can register online at or you can download the application and send it in.  Go ahead and register and challenge your naked self.  Who needs all those fancy running clothes anyways.  Not me.