serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews
 

Archive for August, 2010

A Different Kind of Trail Running: Adventure Races

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

mud-running-raceUSA Today posted an article yesterday titled, “Runners get down and dirty for a thrill in Extreme Races” where it discussed the rise of less traditional running races.  The article mentions obstacle-course-themed mud runs, adventure runs through the woods and across rivers with only using GPS, and mountain runs, but while most of these races are done on trails, it never specifically mentions trail running.  We at SeriousRunning.com agree, trail running is a category sport all of its own.  However, any running on trails can be considered trail running, but when you throw in mud slides, GPS navigation, or multiple race vehicles, we categorize them as “adventure races” here on SeriousRunning.com’s race listings.

Vonda Wright, assistant professor in orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine and author of Fitness after 40, says in the article, “Overuse injuries can happen when people just run, run, run.  Our bodies, our muscles in particular, have muscle memory, and the best way to challenge them without getting stuck in an overuse rut is to mix it up.”  That’s the same with trail running.  There has been a strong movement for runners to get off of the roads and into other activities, whether it be triathlons, adventure races, or trail running because they now understand the medical benefits of changing their exercise routines.

But adventure races have also caught on because they are fun and can be done by people are not necessarily athletic.  When the Warrior Dash came through town a month or two ago I had friends that I didn’t know ever exercised say they were going to participate.  One friend even went out to buy a bike at Target just for the event!  If you’ve ever wanted to try an adventure race here are some cool ones to check out:

Columbia Muddy Buddy:  Two teams traverse over a 6-7 mile course and 5 obstacles.  At the start of the race on team      muddy-buddy-racemember runs while the other will ride the bike.  Once the bike rider reaches the first obstacle they drop the back, complete the obstacle and begin running to the next one.  Once the runner reaches the first obstacle they must complete it, then pick up the bike and ride it to the next obstacle.  You and your partner leap frog like that until the end of the race where you will have to crawl through the famous mud pit and cross the finish line together.  A fun race that anyone can do, with events being held all across the country.

running-verticalStair Climbing or Vertical Running:  You’ll need to go to a big city to run a vertical running event.  These events are run in downtown buildings in which runners run up 30-50 flights of stairs.  They are a great work out for your quads and if you aren’t a big runner you can always walk up the stairs.  Runners are sent up the building in 10 second intervals to allow for spacing so passing can be difficult.  The view at the finish line is usually pretty sweet though!

Fell Running:  These races are mountain running with a twist, racers are required to navigate themselves and must bring survival gear.  I consider mountain running and trail running to be interchangeable because both are about running on trails over varying terrain, but fell running takes mountain and trail running to a new level by not having a specific race course.  Runners must use a map to navigate the route they want to take to the finish and checkpoints.  Fell Running is more popular in the UK than the US, but who knows, it may grow here.

Hash Running:  There are Hash Clubs all across the United States.  Hash running involves chasing after the Hare who leaves directional signs of where the route is to go, sometimes pointing in more than one direction, and everyone runs to the finish.  There is drinking involved so make sure you are 21.  More information on Hash Running.

Non Trail Races with a Twist:  Lastly there are races that add a twist for some extra fun.  Like the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh,krispy-kreme-race NC hosted by students from NC State.  In this race runners must run 2 miles to the local Krispy Kreme donut shop, eat a dozen donuts, and then race back 2 miles.  If that isn’t extreme I don’t know what is.  Another extreme challenge I’ve tried is running naked.  Butts A’ Runnin’ Race Enterprises (the race director’s last name is actually Butts) puts on a race series every year held at different nudist resorts around the Southeast.  These races are a blast!  Runners may run fully clothed or completely naked.  I opted for completely naked except for running shoes and socks.  Read more about my experience running naked.

Try some of these new races and have a blast!

Exercises to Strengthen your Ankles for Trail Running

Monday, August 30th, 2010

ankles-trail-runningEvery type of runner rolls or twists their ankle at sometime or another, but trail runners are especially susceptible to ankle injuries.  Rocks, roots, shrubs, and uneven terrain can lead to devastating ankle injuries which can only be cured by rest; not cool for trail runners.  Also, runners who are new to minimalist running should use ankle exercises before starting in their minimalist running shoes to ease the transition.  Minimalist runners sustain  more of an impact on their ankles than running in traditional running shoes.  There are exercises that can be done to strengthen ankles to avoid injuries while trail running or minimalist running, here are some that you can practice:

1.  Walk 40 steps on the balls of your feet with your toes turned inward.  Then walk 40 steps backward with your toes turned inward.  This will help strengthen both the muscles on the outside of the upper ankle along with the muscles on the top the foot.  This can also be done while riding a stationary bike.  Simply pedal on the balls of your feet while inverting your toes slightly.

2.  Walk backwards.  Obviously do this in an open, grassy area or on a track to avoid tripping over something; and hurting your ankles rather than strengthening them.  This exercise strengthens the muscles behind the ankle, and the calf muscles for an added bonus.

3. Rotate ankles 25 times clockwise and then 25 times counterclockwise.  This is a good exercise because it can be done anytime of the day.  This exercise strengthens the superior and interior extensor retinaculum; the ligament that binds down the tendons around the ankle.  This rotation is a great overall ankle strengthener.

4.  Sit in a chair with your back straight up against the back of the chair.  Extend feet out parallel to the ground and point toes straight out.  Do this 25 times a day to strengthen the muscles on the front of the upper ankle.

Doing these simple exercises will strengthen and stretch your ankles which will lead to less ankle injuries while trail running or minimalist running.  If possible, do these exercises just before running in order to get a good stretch in your ankle muscles before heading out.  Also, these exercises may cure cankles, although doctors still aren’t sure what causes or the exact cure for this horrible disease…hopefully some day…

Leadville Trail 100 Race Experience

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Ultra runner Hawaiian Shirt Ray shared his experiences with us about the Leadville Trail 100 Training Camp about a month ago and now he’s here to tell us about his race.  Check out his awesome website helping ordinary people do extraordinary things.

hawaiian-shirt-ray-leadville-trail-100-11Raising the Bar

Its Hawaiian Shirt Ray again and I am “fresh” off running the Leadville Trail 100 for a third year in a row.  I would like to share my experience running the race, but I am not going to bore you with a play-by-play of running aid station to aid station. I would like to share my experiences during the race and my previous races and hopefully be able to inspire you to dig deep when you are in a race and things are not going as planned, and help you realize; as Ken Chlouber (President of the Leadville Trail 100) says, “you are better than you think you are and can do more than you think you can.”  For me this was my third time running Leadville Trail 100 and I decided to raise the bar a bit higher than just to finish in under the 30 hour cutoff; I set my goal to run the Leadville Trail 100 in under 25 hours!

The Leadville Trail 100 is Bigger than Just Me

This race is bigger than just me.  It is a combination of all my friends and family who helped me get to the starting line.  This includes all the outings I missed because of a racing or training, having my friends take care of my great dog Simon and them have to rearrange their schedules around me. I think you get the point; training and racing takes a toll on our loved ones and without their understanding and constant support it would make it impossible for me to run the Leadville Trail 100.  So when I am running the race I keep this in mind.  If I quit I am failing all of those who helped me get to the starting line.  Sure, if I quit my friends would tell me that they were proud of how far I gone, and say something to the effect of “I would never be able to do what you have done”, blah, blah, blah; but for me the reality is that I failed all of them.

My Great Crew

My attempt at running the Leadville trail 100 in under 25 hours would have been impossible without my great crew. Being part of the crew is not an easy thing.  There is a lot of waiting around, planning, and preparation. For my first Leadville Trail 100 in 2008, it rained, hailed, sleeted, and snowed for 28 of the 30 hours of the race.  Talk about being miserable for the crew. For the third year in a row my sister Laura was my crew chief and a pacer.  After last year she looked me in the eyes and said that she will never do this again.  The next day she said she was sorry and would do it again.  For the crew it is just like running an ultra; it is a long day, none stop, and exhausting.  As a runner we cross the finish line and say “never again”.   Then the pain goes away and we sign up for our next event.  It is pretty much the same for the crews.
Also in my crew was Rick Mann.  He crewed with my sister for the entire race and was always upbeat and positive when I came through the aid stations.  My other pacers were Lina Kelso: paced from Winfield to Twin Lakes (miles 50 to 60.5), David Besnette: paced from Twin Lakes to the Fish Hatchery (miles 60.5 to 76.5), and Neeraj Engineer: paced from the Fish Hatchery around Turquoise Lake (miles 76.5 to about 93).

hawaiian-shirt-ray-leadville-trail-100-2Talking with my sister after the race she told me how nervous my crew was not to let me down, and that they hoped that they would really be able to help me with my goal.  She also told me about how excited they were to be part of the Leadville Trail 100.  Hearing this made me feel good because here are my friends sacrificing their weekend for my goal.  My hat is off to everyone on my crew, thank you so much!

My Goal of 100 miles in less than 25 Hours

The Leadville Trail 100 has a 30 hour cut off to finish and all the runners who finish in less than 30 hours receives an “Under 30 Hours” belt buckle.  For those runners who can finish the race in less than 25 hours, they receive a much larger “Under 25 Hours” belt buckle.  Well, after running the race for the last two years I wanted the big buckle.  You should know that my times for the last two years were: 29 hours 44 minutes 6 seconds, and 29 hour 12 minutes 26 seconds.  So I had to shave a mere 4 plus hours off my best time.

There is usually around a 55 percent attrition rate which means when you are at the start of the race looking at all the other runners; more than half of them will never see the finish line.  If you do not have the mindset that you are not going to be one of “them,” you will become one of “them.”  Standing at the starting line of the Leadville Trail 100 you must know that you are going to do whatever it takes to keep moving and get across the finish line.  You have to be prepared to dig deeper than ever before and keep my mantra of “you gotta keep moving,” running through your head.  I knew I was not going to be one of “them.”  I trained hard, had the best season of my life, and I was going to put it all out on the line to get that “Under 25 Hours” buckle!

Digging Deeper than I ever Have Before

To accomplish my sub 25 hour goal I had planned all my splits between aid stations which put me across the finish line in 24 hours 55 minutes.  This really did not leave me any breathing room, but it was the reality of getting the big buckle.  I have trained on the course many times this year and I was secretly hoping that I would actually run a bit faster than my splits and start “banking” some time.  I’m not talking a lot, but just a few minutes here and there.  The splits made the race different than my last two finishes since before my goal was to just finish.  In my previous two finishes there would be sections of “why bother running this, I have 30 hours.”  Well I did not have that luxury this year and I had to run sections of the race that I never have run in the past.

My splits kept me honest and made me start digging deep early in the race.  By the time I made it to the 50 mile turn-around at Winfield I had 20 minutes in the bank.  I left Winfield feeling pretty good about where I was at time-wise and the three mile stretch to the Sheep Gulch Trailhead went good.  Then I started the climb back up and over Hope Pass and my legs had nothing in them.  I hit my lowest point of my race climbing back up over Hope Pass and it took everything I had to make it to the Hopeless aid station on the other side of Hope Pass.  I sat at the aid station while Lina tried her best to get me moving again.  I had to regroup and get some food in me.  It was so hard for me to stand up and leave that aid station and I had to dig deep to keep moving.  Once I started headed downhill my legs loosened up and I was able to run again and I was on fire all the way back to Twin Lakes.

Unfortunately the time I had in the bank was now down to two minutes.  My secret desire of banking time and not having to push from aid station to aid station was gone.  If I wanted that buckle I would have to push through to the next aid station, and then the next and the next.  I kept pushing and digging deep and when I finally got to the May Queen Aid Station (the final aid station) at mile 86.5 I had 3 hours 4 minutes and 4 seconds to get to the finish line in less than 25 hours.  Here is the kicker, the last two years through this 13.5 mile section my times were: 4 hours 1 minute, and 3 hours 42 minutes.hawaiian-shirt-ray-leadville-trail-100-3

I left the May Queen Aid Station running.  I mean running!  Neeraj was pacing me and could not believe the effort I was giving especially after running 86.5 miles.  I knew that I had to give it all I had; I mean EVERYTHING!  I ran that last 13.5 miles faster than I ever have before.  I did it in 3 hours 10 minutes.  Do the math, I did not make sub 25 hours.

The Finish was in Sight

I pushed that last section so hard and left nothing on the trail.  I even dropped my pacer when with about 25 minutes left I picked up the pace.  It hurt so bad to be running that last section into town which is all up hill.  I could see the finish line when 25 hours expired, but I kept running all the way in.  I was going to give it my all and I did!  Although I missed my goal words can’t describe how great I feel about my 25 hour 7 minute 29 second finish.  I can’t look back at any part of the race and say “if only I pushed harder”.  I pushed the entire race.  I guess the point of all off this is that in life if you are true to yourself and give whatever goal you are working toward your all, I mean really your all, everything; although you may walk away short you can still stand tall and be proud of what you have accomplished.  You must also learn and grow from your experience and become a better person for it.

hawaiian-shirt-ray-leadville-trail-100-41

Georgia State 8.5 Mile Trail Running Championship

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

xterra-georiga-trail-raceI’ve been running in the Dirty Spokes Productions trail races for the past two years and they are some of the best trail races I have ever run.  They always offer distances that any type of runner can participate in, have a competitive field of avid trail runners, and are well run trail running races.  The Georgia State Championship Trail Running Race is coming soon so start training.

From the Race Director Tim:

Coming soon is the Georgia State 8.5 Mile Championship Trail Running Race, Tribble Mill Park, Gwinnett Co., October 23rd, 2010! That´s right the official state championship trail running race brought to you by Dirty Spokes Productions!  Here´s your opportunity to find out who´s the best trail runner in the state of Georgia!  We will crown the overall male and female witrail-running-over-bridge-in-georgianners on October 23, 2010 – CASH PAYOUT!  We will be giving away $300 1st Place Male, $200 2nd Place Male, $100 3rd Place Male / $300 1st Place Female, $200 2nd Place Female, $100 3rd Place Female that is the top 3 overall finishers (as well as hand out medals to the top 3 finishers in each age category)! We will also be giving away Sweet Custom Embroidered Running           Jackets (Georgia State Champions – Custom Embroidered) to our Overall top 3 male ⁄ 3 female finishers.  Each runner who finishes out top 3 in their category will receive a “free entry” to the XTERRA Georgia Victoria Bryant 10K Trail Running Race, December 4th, 2010 (you must mail these in and we must receive these by November 15th, 2010 to take advantage of the free entry).

xterra-georiga-trail-runWhat are the qualifications to enter the Georgia State Championship Trail Running Race? None. You don´t have to have run any previous races or have to enter any times to us from any previous races to qualify (you don’t have to be a member of any club or group either). Do you need to be from the state of Georgia to qualify? No, if you live in another state but think you can hold the title in Georgia, not a problem. If you want to compete – come on out!

Each participant will receive a “Dri-Fit” shirt as well as our custom “Georgia State Championship Trail Race Socks” $35.00 value – race registration $40.00 (no guarantee of a dri-fit shirt or custom socks with late or race day registration)!

We will also have FREE PIZZA after the race for all participants from Cooleys Pizza!

Directions To The Park:
Tribble Mill Park
2125 Tribble Mill Pkwy
Lawrenceville – GA, 30045

ENTRY FEES (We will be taking race day registrations):
* Again, NO GUARANTEE of a Green Layer Dri Fit Shirt or Custom Socks with late or race day registration (we will not mail shirts or medals, you must pick them up).

xterra-trail-running-finishTIMING:
We will be doing chip timing RFID Timing System (each participant will receive their own timing chip at the registration table 10/23/10 – your timing chip will correspond to your name and bib number.  At the end of the race we will collect your timing chip back (after you cross the finish line).  If for some reason you are unable to finish the event we will still need to collect your timing chip (you will be billed $35.00 for any chip lost or not returned).  Once you have started the race you may not change categories (distances).

PACKET PICKUP:
Packet pickup will be the morning of the race starting at 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Race starts at 8:30 a.m SHARP!

Race Course:
This 8.5 mile race course has a little bit of everything! This is one of the toughest trail running courses we have put together!  The race will start in an open field and quickly narrow down to a double track trail… the first .9 of a mile is back and forth uphill (double track) once you get to the top of the hill you will cross a gravel road and quickly start back down (still double track).  Then you start to hit the single track sections and once you get there you will find this course / terrain is made up of a little bit of everything!  The terrain is rolling hills, steep hills, single track, double track, granite rock outcroppings along with technical sections (tight and twisty along with rocks and roots) along with two shallow creek crossings.  We are calling it the Georgia State Championship Trail Running Race for a reason (bring your “A Game”)!  We will have the GPS Data listed on our site as soon as it is finalized…

So check it out, maybe win some money and run with the elite trail runners of Georgia!

Note:  Pictures above are not from this particular trail race but another Dirty Spokes Productions trail race.

New Balance Headphones

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

new-balance-headphones-for-runnersNew Balance has announced they are teaming up with iHome to launch a sport/fitness headphones for runners and endurance athletes.  I personally never wear headphones when I go running, especially when trail running.  How can you connect with nature if you can’t hear it?

At any rate, from the SportsOneSource.com article, “New Balance is dedicated to offering innovative products to help athletes of all abilities perform at their best,” says John Cullen, general manager for licensing at New Balance. “iHome’s experience and expertise in the audio solutions industry will allow us to offer a range of innovative sport headphones to complement our existing line of performance footwear, apparel and accessories.”

“Listening to the right type of music while running, training or competing in an endurance-style event can have a very positive effect on performance,” said Evan Stein, vice president of marketing for iHome. “Merging iHome’s ability to create compelling audio devices with New Balance’s expertise in the world of athletic products is sure to be a winning combination, and we hope many athletes will soon be beating their personal bests with the release of our New Balance Sport Headphones this holiday season.”

The New Balance 439 headphones have removable ear-hooks and detachable cables of varying length and will retail for $34.99.  The New Balance 447 will be foldable and sit on your ears but also feature the interchangeable cables along with an in-line player remote for iPhones and iPods; it will retail for $34.99.  Lastly, the New Balance 467 will be behind the neck headphones (neckphones?) with interchangeable cable links and sell for $24.99.

We’ll have to wait and see how well a shoe company like New Balance can manufacture and market headphones for runners with their partner iHome.  Maybe we’ll start seeing more of these partnerships in the future.  I however think New Balance should stick to its core competency; making those laidback grey sneakers that everyone used to like so much….

New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoes Review

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

new-balance-men-101-minimalist-trail-running-shoesI got to take home a pair of the new New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoes from Outdoor Retailer a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been taking them for test spins on my trail runs ever since.  I’m not new to New Balance minimalist trail running shoes, I checked out the 101′s father, the New Balance MT100 minimalist trail running shoes a while back and really liked them.  The 101s have the same genes as their father, but they have a personality all of their own.  Acting like your father isn’t cool; unless your dad is Willis Haviland Carrier or something….

The New Balance 101 minimalist trail running shoes have the same exact sole as their father.  Just like the 100s, “The heel of the shoe is made up of cut outs for rear traction.  This really helped when I was runningnew-balance-101-minimalist-trail-running-shoe over some sandy and rocky terrain as I was able to push off better.  The midsole tread looks like someone took an ice cream scooper and scooped out pieces of the sole.  My guess is that this is to reduce the weight of the shoe, as well as increase flexibility and breathability.  You won’t be getting any dirt, mud, or rocks caught in these cylinder shaped holes.  The front tread is made up of some smaller ice cream scoops but mostly squares around triangles which lend for good traction while still giving you ample feeling of the trail.”  Honestly, who quotes thyself?  I do I guess.  The midsole is very flexible which allows the shoe to bend like your foot does, giving you the minimalist feel.  However, the soles are tough enough (are you tough enough NKOTB?) that I’ve run on all types of gnarly terrain in these babies and the bottom of my feet haven’t hurt yet.  This son understood what his father meant when he said to make sure to always have protection.

new-balance-101-minimalist-trail-running-shoesThe biggest difference in the New Balance 101 is the shape of the front of the shoe.  The protection strip in the front is made of a sturdier plastic and covers more area than the MT100s did.  An upgrade for sure.  The toe area also seems to be wider than than the New Balance Trail 100s too.  I really like this difference because it gives my toes more freedom to move around while I run, allowing the shoe to harness the benefits of minimalist running.

There is less cushioning in the New Balance 101s than the 100s, but you won’t notice it when you run.  They’re minimalist trail running shoes, so if you looking for cushioning then you should check out a pair of cushioned trail running shoes, not these running shoes.  There is an area for your foot to rest if you have high arches, but the NB 101 minimalists don’t have any arch support.  It’s about time you stopped supporting your arches, they’re well over 18 now.

The upper is a synthetic mesh which keeps the New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running shoes dry and breathable.  I ran these straight through a couple of creeks and new-balance-101-minimalist-trail-running-shoe-reviewthey were dry in a matter of steps; as you can see from my picture to the right!  They also have New Balance’s Sure Lace technology but let’s get serious, did shoe laces really need new technology to keep them from becoming untied?  I have my own Sure Lace technology, it’s called double knotting.  There is more fabric on the lip of the tongue (make sense?) than the New Balance MT 100s which is nice because it keeps the ultra-lightweight tongue from getting stuck down in your shoe.

Overall, these are very legit minimalist trail running shoes.  Not many changes from the New Balance 100s, but if it aint broke, don’t fix it.  New Balance did come out with the new fly green color.  Check out the other colors when New Balance releases the 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoes to the public!  Hope you enjoyed the sneak peek!

Terra Plana Vivobarefoot Evo Running Shoe Review

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

vivobarefoot-evo-minimalist-running-shoesGalahand Clarck, a 6th generation shoemaker, took over eco-friendly shoe company Terra Plana.  At the time he noticed an old university friend of his who introduced him to the benefits of natural movement.  Clark, who previously lived in China already understood the importance of foot health through his exposure to Eastern medicine, began talking to experts, coaches, and biomechanic experts.  In 2004, with the help of podiatrists and movement specialists, Terra Plana developed Vivobarefoot with a mission to improve posture, sensory perception, and general well-being.  Weird, I thought Chris McDougall was the first person to realize the benefits of barefoot running.

The Vivobarefoot Evo has a patented vivobarefoot-evo-minimalist-running-shoe-reviewultra-thin puncture resistant rubber sole which allows Vivobarefoot to offer all the health benefits of being barefoot with the protection of normal running shoes.  I started running in these on the roads, but quickly moved to the trails and they held up just as well on the tough terrain of trail running.

The bottom of Vivobarefoot Evo is made of an ultra thin rubber that is very bendable.  You can fold these shoes in half and stick them in a backpack if you decide it’s time to run naked; barefoot I mean.  Although the bottom is thin, it is still made of very tough rubber.  You barely feel the ground in these shoes when running on any type of surface.  The soles have small hexagons evenly across the entire bottom except for where the arch is.  I hypothesize that this is to save some of the weight from the shoe, why put traction on a portion of the shoe that doesn’t touch the ground?  These lightweight minimalist running shoe soles protect your feet and have something that your feet don’t, traction.

The upper is made of a very thin fabric with a plastic honeycomb on it.  Apparently it’s a TPU cage with lightweight mesh and microfiber reinforcements to provide maximum breathability.  Well I can attest that they breath really well, and you don’t even feel the sides of the shoes when running which gives even more of a barefoot feel.

vivobarefoot-evo-minimalist-running-shoeThere is a thin insert in the bottom of the shoe that gives you a little cushioning.  Although there is cushioning, it’s done the right way for a minimalist running shoe, it’s distributed evenly across the foot so your running style doesn’t favor landing on your heel like in traditional running shoes.  The shoes are made to fit loose so your foot can move naturally like when barefoot running.  The front of the shoe is wider than the back to allow your toes to move around while running.  However, this makes for a loose fit with a tighter fit in the heel so your foot doesn’t come out of the shoe.  I got blisters from the heal the first time I ran in the Vivobarefoot Evos but I blister easily, just make sure you wear socks with these shoes the first couple of times you run in them.

I also really like the look of them.  They look a bit like a 80s European style, which of course is awesome.  I plan to wear these out around town so I’ll always feel like I’m barefoot!  These shoes are perfect for anyone who wants to make the transition to minimalist running shoes, just remember to also change your running style when making the minimalist transition and get on the trails!

National Trail Running Day is tomorrow!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

national-trail-running-day I don’t know about you but I’m excited.  The 2nd annual National Trail Running Day is tomorrow!  It’s like Christmas for trail runners.  NTRD is a day to promote, celebrate, and experience the sport of Trail Running this August 21st, so, like you know, tomorrow. Trail Running is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States with runners taking to the trails of varying difficulties and distances to connect with nature and the environment, while also building strength and more technical running skills.  If you’ve never tried trail running before then here are some reasons why you should get out on the trails:

  1. Strengthens your leg muscles that road running does not.
  2. Improves balance and agility from running on uneven surfaces.
  3. Increases your mental toughness.
  4. Biophillia – humans want to be close to nature. Trail Running increases your time in nature.
  5. The primal thrill of using your body for what it was made to do, be a long distance, all-terrain vehicle.
  6. Reduces injury because running on soft surfaces is better for your joints. Also, the differing steps do not put as much stress on specific parts of your body.
  7. Less traffic and cleaner air.
  8. Running in the shade is cooler, allowing you to run longer distances and get a better overall work out.

Check out the National Trail Running Day website and find an event or group run close to you and give trail running a try!  If no one has organized an event in your area then go explore a new trail near you using our running trail locator tool.  There are many ways to celebrate NTRD but the only thing you really need to do is get on the trails.  Give your favorite running trail a big hug and tell it how much you love it.  National Trail Running Day is all about sharing the love.  Share your love with us with what you are doing/did for NTRD, email chris at seriousrunning.com and we’ll share it with the rest of the SeriousRunning.com trail running community!

Celebrate National Trail Running Day at Where’s Waldo 100K Ultramarathon

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

How are you going to celebrate National Trail Running Day this Saturday, August 21st?  One way could be to run an ultra.  What, you haven’t trained?  Well, if you don’t want to run an ultra then maybe you should try being a spectator at one.

wheres-waldo-100k-ultra-trail-running-raceA good ultramarathon is the Where’s Waldo 100k which is set to have a loaded field this weekend.  The men’s lineup includes Colorado’s Scott Jaime and 2009 Montrail Ultra Cup winner Victor Ballesteros; women’s race features Big Horn 100 winner Ashley Nordell and 2010 Montrail Ultra Cup Champion Meghan Arbogast, both of Oregon.

Some of the nation’s fastest ultrarunners are headed to Willamette Pass Ski Area on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010, for Where’s Waldo 100k, a challenging 62-mile race that takes place mostly on single-track trails southeast of Eugene, Ore. The event kicks off the 2010-2011 Montrail Ultra Cup race series, and the top two male and female finishers will earn automatic entry spots into the 2011 Western States 100.

“We have a great field of runners, hailing from the Northwest and beyond,” said co-founder and co-race director Craig Thornley, “The race continues to draw both competitive athletes and recreational ultrarunners, not to mention a dedicated army of 150 volunteers who help make the event a reality.”

Now in its ninth year, Where’s Waldo is a fundraiser for the Willamette Pass Ski Patrol and is named after nearby Waldo Lake and the ski run that shares its name. The race is funded in part with room tax funds from the city of Oakridge, Oakridge/Westfir Area Chamber of Commerce and Lane County. Race sponsor Sunsweet Growers is providing 100 percent of the prize money, which is awarded to first and second place finishers in the open and masters categories. The first place male and female finishers will each earn $500.

All told, 125 runners will toe the line starting at 5 a.m. (3 a.m. for early starters) at Willamette Pass. Their journey will take them over three major climbs of more than 2,000 feet each for a total of 11,000 feet of elevation gain and an equal amount of loss.

This year’s men’s field features Scott Jaime, 40, winner of this year’s Zane Grey 50 mile race and Pocatello 50 mile race; Victor Ballesteros, 40, winner of the 2009 Montrail Ultra Cup; Aaron Heidt, 34, 2009 Chuckanut 50k champion; Mark Lantz, 45, 2009 Where’s Waldo masters winner; and Dan Olmstead, 38, winner of the 2008 MacDonald Forest 50k. John Robertson, 36, a 13-time Ironman finisher, will also be taking on the challenge.

The women’s race includes Ashley Nordell, 30, winner of this year’s Big Horn 100; Meghan Arbogast, 2010 Montrail Ultra Cup champion and recent White River 50 winner; Jenny Capel, 2009 Montrail Ultra Cup winner; and Amy Sproston, 2010 S.O.B. 50k winner.

The Where’s Waldo 100K Ultramarathon is a challenging 100K loop-type course starting at Willamette Pass Ski Area (70 miles east of Eugene, Oregon) at elevation 5,120 feet, climbing up several mountains including Fuji, The Twins, and Maiden Peak before returning to the ski area. The route is 97% single-track trails with some fairly remote sections and has many incredible views of pristine Waldo Lake.

Check it out and watch some serious trail running on National Trail Running Day!  What a great way to celebrate!

Minimalist Running Techniques and Instructions

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Above is a video of a test run with minimalist running shoes, Vivobarefoot EVOs, I did with Lee Saxby at Outdoor Retailer.  Lee cured Chris McDougall’s, who authored the book Born to Run, plantar fasciitis with his minimalist running techniques and instructions.  So I jumped on the treadmill to see what Lee could teach me about minimalist running to cure my own knee injury.  Since I was on a treadmill and not running a lot of miles the pain difference in my knees between the minimalist running shoes and my trail running shoes was marginal; however, I did learn how to run in minimalist running shoes.  Many runners overlook the fact that you need to change your running style when making the transition to a minimalist running shoe.  Before you put on your new vibram five fingers or minimalist running shoes and go for a 20 mile run you need to make sure you are running in them properly.  Here are some tips on how to correctly begin running in minimalist running shoes:

Head and Chest Forward: Minimalist runners should keep their head and chest leading their body, not leaning back which is what most of us do when running.  Make sure not to lean forward at your waist but rather tilt at the ankles.  This will help your feet strike underneath your body instead of in front of it.

Strike Under Your Body: Minimalist runners need to strike directly underneath their body so their center of gravity is positioned directly under the foot strike.  As the foot makes contact with the ground, tendons, and elastic components of certain muscles stretch beyond their natural length, thereby capturing and storing injury from the impact.  If you strike directly under your body, the rest of your body absorbs the impact instead of your knees.  The timed and coordinated muscle actions direct the energy back into the ground, sending your body upward and forward instead of side to side.

Arms swing Forward and Back: Minimalist runners want to make sure their arms move forward and back and have little side to side movements.  This allows your body to run straight up and down without encouraging movement in the rest of your body from side to side, which leads to injury.  Your elbows should never cross forward past your torso.  Keep them close to your chest with a compact swing.

Land on the front of your Foot: Minimalist runners need to make sure that they land first on the front of their foot rather than their heel.  Part of the debate around minimalist running shoes is that traditional running shoes have cushioning in the heel which has lead runners to begin heel striking rather than a natural front foot strike.  As you can see from my video, most of us strike on the back of our heels, concentrate on landing on the balls of your feet.  Remember, you don’t have to run on your toes; allow your entire foot to touch the ground, just roll from your toes all the way back to your heels.

Rhythm: Concentrate on developing a rhythm by counting 1,2,3,4 over and over as you run.  This will keep your strikes balanced, mitigating emphasizing one leg over the other in your new minimalist running mechanics.

Unfortunately, Lee suggests starting on the roads to hone the technique before running on uneven surfaces like trails.  I suggest you don’t have to do everything Lee tells you.