serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Archive for January, 2010

Is Barefoot Running better than traditional Running Shoes?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

There has been a lot of conversations in the running community about the merits of barefoot running for avoiding running related injuries.  It began with the release of Christopher McDougall’s book, Born to Run.  In it he describes the Tarahumara Indians who have been running barefoot for centuries without injury, over rugged mountainous regions, running at least 50Ks (32 miles) a day!  The only thing on their feet is a simple piece of cardboard with a string attached to it.  This book sparked the discussion, “Is barefoot running better for us than running shoes?”


Also at this time the introduction of the vibram five fingers began to gain popularity.   Vibram Five Fingers are a type of shoe that is shaped like your foot.  The bottom is made of hard plastic to protect your feet from surfaces and the rest of the shoe is made of a mesh type material.  Vibram Five Fingers were the first to introduce this type of athletic shoe which was perfectly in between a regular running shoe and being barefoot.  This allowed many running shoe runners to ditch their running shoes and make the transition to wearing a minimalist running shoe or running barefoot all together.


Why have running shoe runners ditched their running shoes for minimalist and barefoot running? It is because barefoot running has been found to reduce injuries.  Scientific studies are currently being conducted about this claim; however, a recently released Harvard study said, “…runners who eschew shoes may be less likely to serious injury because they hold their feet differently.”

Why does it decrease serious injury from running? Since the 1970s, when Nike and other shoe makers began designing running shoes, running shoes have been designed with the most cushioning in the heel of the shoe.  As runners ran in these shoes, over time, they began to favor the extra cushioning in the heel and began striking the ground with their heels, as oppose to striking the ground on the balls of their feet.  The theory is that landing on the balls of your feet when running is the way humans were engineered to run; therefore, it is the best way to avoid injury.  Heel striking places more pressure on the knees, instead of other areas that were made to absorb the pressure like the calves.

Should you try it? You will find many runners who say this method of running has solved all of their injury problems, but the verdict is still out about long-term effects.  There are those that have been running barefoot for years who swear by it.  Check out Barefoot Ken Bob’s website for more great information about barefoot running.  Just like everything else in running, if you want to try it, start off slow and listen to your body.  You are the only one that knows how you feel.  Personally I’m going to try it.  I’ll let you know what I experience.

You Might Have a Running Problem if…

Thursday, January 28th, 2010


Some runners are intense about their training and racing, some runners run more for recreation or health reasons, but all runners develop the habit which can become what many refer to as a “Running Problem.”  I’m not a doctor, but if you have experienced any of the symptoms below you may have a running problem, and the only cure is:  more running of course!  And being able to laugh at yourself…

You Might Have a Running Problem if…

…you try to guess runners’ ages as you pass them

…say the words “easy” and “10 miles” in the same sentence.

…have heard the phrase “Run Forest Run” at least 100 times.

…spit on yourself sometimes.

…choose your hairstyle based on aerodynamics.

…wash your shorts in the shower.

…correct people when they say a marathon is 26 miles with that it is in fact 26.2 miles.

…no longer laugh at the term “fartlek.”

…tape your nipples.

…constantly get high…off running!

Feel free to comment with any other symptoms you’ve experienced!  You could save some one’s life…

XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series – Thrills in the Hills Marathon and Half Marathon Trail Race

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010


It’s time for the 4th annual XTERRA Georgia Trail Run Series Thrill in the Hills XDURO 1/2 and full marathon trail race!  Say that 10 times fast.  Or better yet, run it 10 times, fast, from now until 2020! was at the Thrills in the Hills Trail Race last year and had a blast!  The course was soaked and runners were slipping and slopping the whole way, but despite difficult conditions every runner had an excellent time.  It was extreme…ly fun.  Read more about last year’s race.


The Thrills in the Hills is the most enjoyable trail race in all of the great trail races in the Georgia XTERRA trail series.  It has it all.  It is challenging with many inclines and declines, predominately singletrack, and windy like a trail run should be, but no too difficult that you find yourself forced to walk or slow down.  This is the first year that a full marathon trail race is being offered at the Thrills in the Hills.  The full marathon will be two laps of the half marathon course.


From the Dirty Spokes website:  “This is a great single and double track off-road running experience.  The race will start on the powerlines (required for spacing) but will soon lead into the woods.  The terrain is made up of a little bit of everything, rolling hills, climbs, singletrack, doubletrack, rotts with some technical sections.  The course is beautiful and offers something for every runner truly wishing to ‘ditch the city.’  Nestled in the woods of suburban Atlanta lies a true gem.  Well groomed system of trails with gentle slopes and beautiful scenery will leave you breathless (if that doesn’t, the 13.1/26.2 miles will).  Once you descend into the woods, you will forget you’re in the city.  As a matter of fact, you will come to know why we follow the creed ‘Ditch the City.’”  Running this race makes you feel separated from your everyday city life.  I personally didn’t see any other runners around me other than those I passed from mile 5 until the end.  It was serene.


Every runner will get a sweet Dri Fit T-shirt, although there is no guaranteed for late registrations.  Medals will be awarded to the top 3 male and female finishers as well as the top 3 Male and Female finishers in each age category.  Even if you are not that serious of a runner, each finisher will receive a commemorative medal!  This is a great race if you are a competitive trail runner, novice runner, or want to try trail running for the first time.  Simply finishing the race is a great accomplishment!


Register now!  If you live in the Atlanta area you don’t want to miss this trail race.  Prices for the half marathon are $35 until February 19th.  Later registration prices go up to $40 from February 20th-25th.  Race day registration for the half marathon will be $45.  The full marathon is $45 until February 19th and then goes up to $50 for late registration from February 20th-25th.  Race day registration for the full marathon is $55.  Don’t wait until prices increase, register now and be a part of one of the best trail races in the Atlanta area! Sale for Running and Fitness Gear

Monday, January 25th, 2010

It is 10:00 PM on a Sunday night, do you know where your running goals for 2010 are?  Have you been able to keep up with your New Years Resolutions to run more or lose more weight?  Do you need a little extra motivation to keep up the good habits you have been developing this year?  Well, is here to help you with their New Year, New You in 2010 sale on all types of exercise equipment!  Hurry though, sale ends at the end of January!


For instance, running shoes are 20% off!  Buying running shoes on is a good way to get your favorite pair of running shoes that your local running shoe store may no longer carry.  Many runners find a type of running shoe that they feel comfortable with and do not vary from them. is a great way to get that pair of running shoes you know fit you perfectly, but are not manufactured anymore.  Some runners buy multiple pairs at a time to keep a stockpile of their favorite running shoes.  In order to avoid injuries from running, runners should get a new pair of running shoes every 300-500 miles.  Let the pile begin to be stocked.


It’s still cold outside and it may also be time to buy the treadmill or elliptical you’ve been thinking about buying to keep you motivated to exercise when it is cold.  Right now on you can save up to $300 on exercise equipment!  Treadmill running can be very beneficial to all types of runners.  Here are some tips for making running on a treadmill similar to running on outdoor surfaces.  We are still looking for a treadmill with a ‘trail run‘ setting…

Some of the other great exercise gear has on sale are work-out videos, healthy foods, and books.  Not to mention office supplies, tools, beauty products, and kitchen products.  Get anything you need for the year to come now before the sale is over at the end of the month!  It will make for a healthier, and cheaper, 2010!

Trail Running: Watch Your Step!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

The biggest problem road runners have transitioning to trail running is running on the varying surfaces.  When trail running, runners not only have to deal with steeper inclines and declines than road running, but also have to watch the path they are running on for obstacles.  Roots, rocks, stumps, vines, shrubs, and anything else found on the ground of a trail, makes trail running surfaces more challenging.  However, these obstacles can help you make up considerable time in a trail race if you learn how to navigate them and use them to your advantage while maintaining your normal running form.


The key is to watch your step.  However, you do not want to watch every step as you take it.  First off, when approaching an obstacle you want to determine how and where you want to attack it without losing any speed.  Much like when driving a car, you do not want to look directly in front of yourself because you will see the hazards on the road before it is too late.  Rather drivers must focus their eyes ahead of where they are traveling.  It is the same for trail running.  When trail running it is recommended that you focus your eyes about 6-10 steps ahead.  This will allow you to make a plan of action about how you want to traverse the obstacle before you reach it.


Now that you know what steps you are going to take when traveling over the obstacle, you need to continue to look forward for two reasons:  to determine if another obstacle awaits you and to maintain proper running form.  Anytime you are looking directly down at the ground you are slowing down and losing time.  When trail running you want to always keep your eyes forward, as close to how you would while road running.  This task is a bit more about mental toughness.  You have to trust that your mind will tell your body when it is about to step on an obstacle.  You must keep your eyes forward even though you want to look down.  The lead runner in the picture above is doing this, looking straight forward to the next obstacle. The trailing trail runner is looking directly at his current step because his foot is stepping on the obstacle.


When your foot finally arrives at the obstacle you want to look down briefly to see exactly where your foot needs to plant and pivot.  This will help you avoid twisting an ankle or other injury.  With a little practice, obstacles can be great places to pivot on a windy trail run or to propel yourself forward.  How you run over obstacles can give you a competitive advantage over the competition.

When trail running look 6-10 steps ahead whenever possible to maintain form.  When you approach an obstacle make a plan of how you want to traverse it.  Then keep your eyes forward while glancing down to ensure each step is planted where you had planned it.  Take these “steps” and you’ll be running a faster trail race in no time!

After Christmas Sale at REI

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010


Now is the perfect time to get the outdoor gear you didn’t receive for Christmas at REI.  REI is offering all types of items 30-40% off! Get your warm running gear for the rest of the month or stock up on your spring and summer running gear now while prices are low!  Trust us, last summer’s water waist pack will still be in style this summer, so take advantage of the low prices now.  Get ready to hibernate this winter by stocking up on cheap Clif bars, wool socks, and warm running jackets.  Happy post-Holiday training and Merry New Year’s Running Resolution from!

Running in a Wolfpack

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010


Are you a lone wolf runner?  Have you ever wanted to start your own wolfpack of runners, slashing through the woods and engulfing the streets in your local domain?  The movie “The Hangover” gives a good example of what it means to be in a wolfpack; check out this funny clip.  So how do you start your own pack of running wolves?

First, you must learn your domain.  Take some time as a lone wolf runner to learn the area around you and come up with some great running routes.  Running wolves like to join wolfpacks that vary in locations and distances from week to week, but starting from the same home base.  Wolves are very territorial.  Pick a central location for your running wolf pack to meet and mix up the routes with trails and streets in your area.  Wolves love to run through the woods, but also like crowding the streets at night while potentially howling at the moon.

Once you have your wolfpack routes, visit your local running club to recruit runners to join your wolfpack.  Make sure to run with runners of similar ability, age, and training schedule.  Running wolves like to go fast, so they typically want to join a wolfpack that challenges their ability, but provides support from the pack.

Running in a wolfpack can be very beneficial for all types runners.  For instance, if one wolf gets injured, the rest of the pack can take the runner back to safety.  It is particularly beneficial to run with a wolfpack at night because potential attackers will be likely to attack a pack than you running as a lone wolf.  Running in a wolfpack will also increase your performance as you vie for positioning within the pack.  You can organize a wolfpack, but that doesn’t make you the leader of the pack.  Push yourself to become top dog.

Running in wolf packs can be a great way to expand your social circle and develop a tight group of similar wolf runners.  You can even go to races and wear the same T-shirts!  Check out this sweet wolf pack T-shirt; don’t forget to read the customer comments, they’re pretty entertaining.

Here is more information to help you find the perfect running partners for your wolfpack.  At first you were one wolf in a running wolfpack, now there can be two wolves in the pack, so it’s a pack of two…running wolves

Tips for Cold Weather Running

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010


Cold weather running can be a motivation killer, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips to keep you warmer and more motivated for your training schedule during the winter months:


Run Intervals or Hills: Running intervals or hills is a great work out which often amounts to less time in the elements than longer distance runs.  Less time exposed to the weather keeps you warmer and healthier.  However, running intervals or doing hill work-outs when it is cold outside can be very dangerous.  It is important to stretch properly before running when it is cold to avoid cramping.  Also, make sure to run a longer warm-up.  The colder it is the longer your body needs to warm up.

Dress in Layers: Wearing layers of clothing helps because it keeps moisture from building up close to your body.  When you sweat, the moisture is captured by the under layers of clothing; however, your outer layers stay dry, thus keeping your overall body temperature warm.  Try dressing in a running jacket that is made of wicking material which “wicks” moisture away from your body.  Dress in enough layers so it feels a slight bit cold when you first step outside.  This way, when your body heats up, you will be dressed appropriately.


Dress Flexible:  This does not mean dressing in clothing that gives you more freedom of movement, but rather flexibility to be able to adjust your clothing levels during your run.  Wearing clothing in layers is one way to do this because you can take off certain items during your run.  Gloves and hats are perfect for flexible running gear because they are easy to take off without losing a step in your stride.  They are also easily stored in a jacket or pants pockets.  Always wear a lot of running clothes with zippers not only so you can store running gear, but also so you can adjust your core body clothing coverage during your run.


Cover Extremities: When running, the body re-directs blood flow to more essential organs, leaving runners’ extremities to become colder than the rest of their body.  It is important to wear warm running gloves, running socks, and running hats to cover the areas of your body that receive less blood flow.


Exercise Inside: There are many exercises that you can do inside a gym to help you cross train when it is too cold outside.  Sometimes, depending on training schedule, severity of the weather, and overall health, it is smarter to train indoors than to run in cold weather outside.  Use your indoor work-out day to focus on other areas of your body that may be neglected by simply running, like your core area, to increase your overall running fitness.

Wind:  If the windchill is high then wind will penetrate your clothing.  Running increases the wind around your body, so runners should run in clothes that “break” wind and do not allow it to penetrate the clothing.  Another technique is to run into the wind at the beginning of a run, then run the second half with the wind to your back.  This will keep your body from the wind when it is the most sweaty and wet.

Running in the winter can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be.  Make sure when running in cold weather that you take extra time to stretch your muscles which will be tighter than normal.  Dress in layers, but do not overdress, which can cause you to sweat more, which will make you colder and can very easily lead to dehydration in cold weather.