serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Posts Tagged ‘trail running’

Running on Empty Trail Running Book Review

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

running_on_emptyRunning on Empty” is due out today, April 14th and I was able to get a first read, it isn’t a risky investment, it’s well worth the price.  If you want a good read, motivating tale, and dreams of running farther and longer than you ever have before, then this is the book for you.  It’s one of the most inspiring running books I’ve read in a long time and includes a lot of twist and turns.  The focus is on the Run Across America, but the story is all Marshall Ulrich.

In 2008, at age 57, Marshall Ulrich set out to break the Guinness Book of World Record of running across the United States.  The task is to run from San Francisco City Hall to New York City Hall, using any route, in the fastest time possible.  Even though Marshall has a impressive resume he admits that this endeavor was, “…the biggest thing I’d ever done, the hardest, the longest, with the most potential for both injury and enlightenment, my magnum opus.”  Here’s a list of Marshall’s previous accomplishments to put that statement into perspective:

  • “The Last Great Race” – completed all six hundred-mile trail races in one season, finished in the top ten in five of them, first person to do so
  • Badwater 146 – many times, four wins and course records, current record holder for the summit of Mount Whitney
  • Pikes Peak Quad – one of the first, and only person to do it twice
  • Run across Colorado – three times, current record holder
  • Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon in the same year – only person to do it
  • Eco-Challenges – one of only three people to compete in all nine
  • Badwater solo, unaided and self-contained crossing – first and only person to do it
  • Badwater Quad – first person to do it
  • Summit Mount Everest – reached the top of all Seven Summits on first attempts

So as you can see, Marshall was no rookie to running long distances before embarking on this journey, but he wasn’t always a runner.  When Marshall’s wife Jean was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 80s, the stress he suffered caused hypertensions and a doctor recommend he try running.  Marshall found he had a body built for running long distances and began pushing himself harder and harder.  And pushing away his relationships…

Running on Empty” isn’t just Running Across America with Marshall.  It’s about him running away from his life.  It’s about what it means to be an ultrarunner.  Like Marshall says when referring to his surgically removed toenails done for performance, “Look, the toenails are the least of it.  The kind of sacrifices you make when you’re running hundreds of miles are considerably more profound than whether you’ll ever get a proper pedicure again.”  He goes on to say, “The real sacrifices?  Family relationships often suffer in the ultrarunning community; clearly, mine are no exception.”  During the run his personal revelations turned his world upside down.  Maybe reading this book will give you some perspective and personal revelations…without having to run all the way across America…

If you’re looking for your next good book and some inspiration to push your body further and further on your runs then pick up a copy of “Running on Empty.”  But you don’t have to take my word for it…

Great Trail Running Quote

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

“I keep running and when I get to a place I can’t run anymore, I turn around and run home.”

downhill-trail-running-manI read this quote in a running magazine a while back and thought it was really neat.  The quote comes from a trail runner explaining how, and probably more importantly, why he ran down a steep rock cliff that all the other runners stopped and walked down.  This quote symbolizes why I love to go serious and extreme  Trail Running.  It’s a freelance, exhilarating activity where you get whatever you put into it.  If you want to walk down the cliff, you can, but if you want to challenge yourself and heighten your senses, then you run down it.  It’s up to you. Challenge yourself.

Another important challenge behind this quote is not the decision the Trail Runner made to run down the cliff, but the decision to just simply run until he can’t run anymore.  How many of us have run until complete exhaustion where our bodies could not physically run anymore?  I want to challenge myself to do that more often (probably not on a remote trail though).  I truly don’t know what I could be capable of achieving in running until I run to complete exhaustion.

Bottom line, I’m sure the quoted trail runner didn’t stand at the top of the cliff and think, “Should I run down this?”  He just did it.  Hansel from the movie “Zoolander” said it best, “I just grip it and rip it, that’s just how I live my life bro.”  Grip it and Rip it on your next trail run.

Putting Running in a Box: Trail Running, Mountain Running, Fell Running

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I know, you want running to be free, creative, and without limits; but I’m sorry, everything needs to be categorized.  Below are some running categories with explanations.  I know I left out a couple of running categories like “cross-country” or maybe “ultra” running but I write this blog everyday, I need to save some material for later.  Can I get a doggy bag for cross-country and ultra running?  Thanks…and some extra bread please.


Trail Running: The grand daddy of them all.  Well, at least the most universal of all of the running categories.  The only criteria for a run to be considered trail running is that it is not on a paved surface.  Trail running can be done on grass, rock, sand, gravel, snow, or water.  Whatever you want, just preferably no pavement.  It can be done on singletrack, double-track, or in a field.  Distances can vary from a 5K to 100 miles.  Typically trail runs are distance runs.  Sprinting on gravel isn’t really that fun.  The main focus on trail running is getting back to nature and leaving the paved jungle you live and run in.  Trail Running is beautiful and needs to be celebrated.  Join me in celebrating trail running on Aug 22, National Trail Running Day.

Mountain Running: Categorized by its steep ascents or descents; like on a mountain.  While many trail runs contain steep ascents and descents, mountain running can be done on paved surfaces as well as trails.  The official authority on Mountain Running is the World Mountain Running Association.  From their website they say that mountain running was developed from a need for humans to continue what they have been made to do, run over steep terrain to hunt and gather.  There it is, Running is the oldest profession.  Sorry real estate geeks.  

Fell Running: Fell running begun in the 19th century and took place in community games.  The sport grew with top athletes becoming famous for their Fell Running prowess.  The sport eventually attracted bookmakers and gambling.  I wonder if you can bet on running races in Las Vegas?  I’m sure you can but I’ve never seen it.  The official organization is the fell runners association.  The difference between Fell Running and the other running categories is that it overlaps with orienteering.  Runners are given checkpoints to run to but the course they take is up to them unlike a trail or mountain race.  Fell Running race courses have categories, probably because there is no specific “course map,” in distance:  Long-more than 12 miles, Medium-6-11 miles, and Short-less than 6 miles.  I’m not sure what category a distance of 11.5 miles would fall in.  They also have categories for the ascents, Category A-at least 250 ft. with no more than 20% of the route on the road, Category B-at least 125 ft. with no more than 30% on the road, and Category C-at least 100 ft. with no more than 40% on the road.  See, it’s cool to categorize your running!

So next time you go for a trail run, mountain run, or fell run make sure you accuratley call it what it is.  Or just say you’re going for a run.  Even a caveman can understand that.

TEVA X-1 Evolution Trail Running Shoes

Monday, April 6th, 2009

amazon-teva-picIt’s an Evolution.  This isn’t a Revolution.  There is no forced change.  We are changing, learning, adjusting, evolving to better our experiences.  We are doing like our forefathers did, running through the woods.  Exploring new areas.  Looking for adventure.  Beating the odds.  However, we are a little more enlightened and can now do it more efficiently with the TEVA X-1 Evolution Trail Running Shoes.  TEVA has evolved to give you the trail running shoes that perform the fastest while still giving you the comfort and support you need.  I just got a pair of these trail running shoes and really love them.  I’ve taken the TEVA X-1 Evolution trail running shoes on about five trail runs that were dry, wet, and moist.  I’ve run on asphalt, dirt trails, and grass on the TEVA X-1 Evolutions and they preformed well in all conditions!  Apparently it is due to TEVA’s Spider XC technology which provide, “…extra durability and performance in rugged terrain without sacrificing traction around the river.”  Whatever the technology is, it’s legit.  These shoes are pretty utility.

The TEVA X-1 Evolutions are my second pair of TEVA trail running shoes.  I have a pair of the TEVA X-1 Control 2 trail running shoes which are great for my training because of my need for a little more stability, but the TEVA X-1 Evolution trail running shoes are my trail racing shoes.  These trail running shoes may be engineered for durability, but are they are obviously built for performance.  Their ultra-lightweight, neutral platform, and minimal design make them the fastest trail running shoes I’ve ever tried.  They are manufactured by welding every piece of the shoe together instead of stitching.  Stitching adds more weight and makes the shoes less durable.  See, the TEVA X-1 Evolutions have truly evolved into a better performing shoe.  They even use their patented lug design which not only gives you a great grip, but sheds the mud that sticks to your shoes.  You don’t want to be carrying any extra trail weight during your race.  Add in some leg speed and you’ll be winning trail races in no time!

My favorite feature of these shoes is the upper mesh material.  This material allows your feet to breathe and reduces rubbing which often creates hot spots.  Hot spots are for the night time, not while you’re out on the trail.  Another aspect that I really enjoy but can not find in any other trail running shoe is the TEVA X-1 Evolution’s fresh look.  Before I took them out on the trail I wore them around town.  I got a lot of great responses!  I think people mainly like the Harvest Pumpkin color.  The color is subtle enough that it is not too weird, but loud enough that people notice.  You are like a peacock showing off your feathers when wearing these shoes; minus having to make noise to draw attention to yourself.  You don’t want to be too loud.  This is Harvest Pumpkin.  Buy Halloween Pumpkin colored shoes if you want to be loud.  I love running shoes that not only run well but look good too.  After putting 400 miles on a pair of shoes they are no longer fit for running but are perfectly fine for cruising around town.  I like running shoes that I can do both in and the TEVA X-1 Evolution trail running shoes can do both very well.  They’re so diverse.

So check out the TEVA X-1 Evolutions, increase your speed, perform better and feel good.  Plus you’ll look good doing it and that’s all that really matters anyway.

Trail Running Hydration Products

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

There is a lot of trail running gear for you to chose from, but the first thing you need to consider when trail running for long distances is how you are going to carry your water.  When running in the city or around your community water is not as much of an issue because of its availability.  I know someone who has a map of the whole city with water locations.  I myself bring five dollars or so in case I get really thirsty and have to stop at a store.  It hasn’t happened yet.  I won’t let myself do it.  When you are on the trail there aren’t water fountains or stores, it’s just you and nature.  And guess what? Mother Nature isn’t going to take care of you anymore.  It’s time you grow up, got a job, and started carrying your own water…and take out the trash on your way out.

You have four responsible options:  carry water bottles, bottle waist pack, fuel belt, or a hydration pack.  I don’t like to have anything in my hands while I’m running so I don’t like running with water bottles.  I’ve got to have my hands free to waive when I pass you of course.  As for the bottle waist pack and fuel belt, I have honestly never tried using one of these.  Although they look very practical, I associate them with fanny packs and have not ventured to try them yet.  I know, I need put on my jean shorts, or jhorts, and get over it.  Either that, or I’ll continue to use a hydration pack.  I like how the weight is towards the top of your back and the shoulders.  Also, the waist and shoulder straps really keep the hydration pack tight to your body.  However, make sure you don’t get it too tight where it can rub against your skin.  Watch out for your neck, hydration packs like to give hickeys.  The other issue is that the drinking tube is tough to keep in place.  Even though there is a holder on most hydration packs it does not seem to stay in it very well when you starting moving your body down the trail.  Overall th0ugh, the best way to carry water is with a hydration pack.  You can carry more water and the position will affect your running less than any other water carrier.  Sweet!

TEVA’s X-1 Control 2 Trail Running Shoe Review

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

This weekend I ran in a brand new pair of TEVA X-1 Control 2 trail running shoes in the XTERRA Georgia trail run series “Thrills in the Hills XDURO” half-marathon.   When I say “brand new,” I mean it.  Prior to this trail race, I had only run 6 miles on the road in these shoes.  I also wore the TEVAs around the house the night before the race but I don’t know if this is a good technique for breaking in new running shoes.  It did make me feel better about my preparation for the trail race.  I like feeling better.

teva-mens-x-1-control-2-resize2There was no need for me to worry though, the TEVA X-1 Control 2 trail running shoes fit perfectly and performed well above my expectations!  I had been training for a road race and hadn’t been on any serious trails in a while.  I needed a shoe that would be able to transition me from the roads back to the trail.  I definitely picked the right shoe.  The TEVA X-1 Control 2s cushioning and lightweight package made it feel like I was running in road shoes while on the trail.  The Spider XC rubber outsole maximized my traction while the Shoc Pad inserts provided the extra comfort that I get from my road shoes. 4 out of 5 shoe-scientists agree, Teva’s X-1 Control 2 Trail Running Shoes are, “Strong enough for the roads, but PH balanced, just for the trails.”  You don’t believe me?  Go ahead and ask any 5 shoe-scientists you want!

I really put the TEVAs to the test racing in extremely muddy and slippery conditions.  It had rained for 24 hours straight prior to the race and the course had a lot of standing water with the Georgia red clay forest floor being extremely soaked and slippery.  Even though TEVA was developed in the laid-back CA atmosphere, they made some trail running shoes that performed great even in GA conditions.  Maybe its because all of the best shoe-science Universities are in CA.  At any rate, while other runners were slipping and falling in front of me, I was maneuvering and pivoting with ease because of the superior traction of the X-1s.  I even had to hurdle one runner who went down directly in front of me.  My TEVAs stuck the muddy landing, no problem.  Maybe these trail running shoes could be good hurdling shoes.  Someone should try it out and let me know.

I tend to run straight through standing water rather than go around it which the TEVAs did great in too.  No, they don’t allow you to walk on water, but they do have quick drying mesh material which keeps them from staying wet.  My X-1s were bone dry by the end of the race!  Now I just have to find some socks that do the same thing and I’ll be golden.

The TEVA X-1 Control 2s are for runners that need more stability in their running.  The shoe has a dual-density compression molded EVA midsole which reduces pronation and aids in stability.  It’s science.  At any rate, I’m very picky about the amount of stability in my running shoes and have a tough time finding the perfect fit but I didn’t have any issues with these TEVA X-1 Controls.  They provided the perfect amount of support.  Now I just have to work on my other “stability” issues.

Overall, TEVA’s X-1 Control 2 Trail Running Shoes gave a great performance on my first trail run trial.  Their lightweight cushioning gives you the comfort you need but it is tough enough to handle even the most technical trails.  This shoe allows you to go all out on steep descents and provides enough traction to climb the hills; no matter how muddy the conditions are.  I would recommend these shoes to anyone.  They are perfect for runners who are just beginning to run trails and want to maintain the feel of their normal road running shoe or experienced trail runners who want more performance out of their trail running shoes.  If you are looking for stability in trail running shoes, go no further than the TEVA X-1 Control 2s.

It’s like Le Var Burton from the 1983 kids television show Reading Rainbow says, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”  Check the TEVAs out for yourself.  Remember, ‘you can be anything, take a look, it’s in a book’….a book about trail running is cool.

Always Have A Flexible Running Training Plan

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

So from the Running Down a Dream blog series, the first comment I received from someone was that I should talk about my training and about the different work-outs that I do.  Which is pretty much the one thing that I said I wouldn’t write about.  Well, you want to hear about it, you got it.  Maybe it will help someone in their training.  Maybe it will motivate some people.  Maybe it will help keep me accountable in my own training schedule.  Or, or, maybe it’s some sort of cool training plan that you’ve never even heard about.  What?  We’re not in the tree?  Don’t worry.  We are in the tree.

I’m training to run a half-marathon below 1:25.  I’ve never raced a half but ran a 3:24 marathon about a year ago on only 6 weeks of training.  It was back in my “I can do anything” post-Iraq phase.  I did it though.  I’m on week 4 of a 9 week training schedule.  I really like this schedule because it loads a lot of the miles on the weekends and keeps the miles during the week down.  That is why I’m running a half, I just don’t have the training time it takes for a full right now.  I’m doing the “expert half-marathon” training plan posted on this website under training plans.  We’re working on this feature in the website but here you can see what training plan I am following by strolling down to “expert.”

I’m not religious about my running training schedule.  I do every planned run but sometimes find the need to switch rest days and long runs around to fit my social life.  I know the schedule is made up to give me the optimal build and recovery periods but it is not necessarily optimal for my life.  Maybe I’ll rest, not run the 6 miles Saturday calls for and make it up on my Monday rest day.  That is what I’m going to do this weekend.  I hung out with some friends unexpectedly on Saturday and decided to switch my schedule around a bit.  I mean, I know that’s not the best for me going into Tuesday’s intervals, but I’ll still hit my interval times.  It just may hurt a bit more but it is worth it.  I think that while you can be serious about running, you can also maintain a healthy social schedule around your early Saturday morning races and long training run Sundays.  You have to live a flexible schedule where you can socialize, work, and train in unison.  Yeah, you probably won’t be on the couch/tv scene too much, but it is worth it to keep all of those things at optimal levels.  You just have to be flexible.  So do the butterfly stretch and get limber!

I’m also doing a half marathon trail run this weekend at Thrills and Hills XTERRA trail race series and substituting it for a 16 mile run.  Depending on how tough it is I may add a couple of miles to my Sunday run.  Keep it loose.  Have a flexible lifestyle.  Trust me, everyone around you will appreciate it.

Running Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

comfort_zone1I like “being in the zone” just as much as anyone else, but we all need to challenge ourselves in order to learn and grow.  When I am “in the zone” you will usually find me on the basketball court, on the golf course, or maybe even conversing with someone of the opposite sex.   If you want to find me “zoning out” just look to my comfortable leather couch and no further.  I’m probably watching some pointless reality show; but enjoying it nonetheless.  So obviously there are many types of zones to be in but today I am challenging you to get out of a zone; your comfort zone?. Where is your comfort zone?  Check somewhere “inside the box.”

Every time I go for a run over 10 miles I try to run somewhere new.  Whether I am starting from my house or traveling by car to a trail-head, I try to experience a new environment on my run.  This weekend it only took 4 miles from my house to get out of my comfort zone.  I ran to a lower socioeconomic area of town early on a Sunday morning where I did not see one person that was the same race as I.  Being around people that don’t look like you is one way to get out of your comfort zone.  Here are some of the things that I noticed in this zone that I was not used to:  a quick handshake on a corner with the two parties retreating quickly in opposite directions, presumably an illegal transaction.  A makeshift soup-kitchen which consisted of a van, a couple of tables, and huge metal container of soup in an empty parking lot with a lot of people happily being served.  A man yelling at a woman walking behind him in a crosswalk saying, “I’m yelling at you because you won’t hurry up.  I’m late to go see my girl!”  She responded with, “I wouldn’t be walking this slow if you hadn’t gotten me pregnant, (explicit name)!”  She looked to be about 8 months pregnant so was understandably walking slowly.  So what does this mean?  It means that in order for us to grow and understand ourselves we must go out of our comfort zones and experience things we may not ever experience.

Running can take you out of your comfort zone.  Not necessarily by traveling to a different place than you are used to but the fact that you are constantly pushing yourself and challenging yourself to achieve new things you have never attempted.  Every time you think about slowing down but instead keep running is moving outside of your comfort zone.  People generally put a lot of effort into keeping their lives constant, but I challenge you to push closer to the edges of “your box.”  I’m always trying to stay edgy, that’s why I watch MTV sometimes to see what the kids are up to.  You have to make a conscious effort to break down your comfort walls.  Although I am a strict proponent of running, try starting with changing up your exercise routine with other activities other than running.  Better yet, try other exercises while still visiting and reading this blog daily!  Talk about edgy!

Just like we strive to diversify our investment portfolios (I’m risk-loving so I don’t adhere to this mantra) and our diets we need to diversify our exercise.  I know what you are thinking, ‘I run 5ks and marathons.  I diversify my work-outs.’  Sorry, that doesn’t count running man.  While running is great for the overall health of your body, it does puts stress on the same joints and builds particular muscles more than others.  That is why I recommend adding some other activities to your training.  Some suggestions are mountain biking, hiking, or kayaking to work out different muscles which will actually help to improve your running.  If you are an avid runner, I understand, try changing your running patterns by running on more trails or running steps.  Obviously, I think just by running a different route you are getting outside of you comfort zone so try that at the very least.  Exercising outside of your comfort zone prevent injuries (unless you fall off your mountain bike or something) and will leave your body more balanced.  Now you don’t have to drink as much V8!  Sweet!

Please stop being a square (box) and become a well rounded individual like our ancestors, the original “Renaissance People.”  No, I don’t mean showing your wealth by being rounded (fat) or eating so much that you throw up because you can afford to.  Don’t waste food, there’s soup kitchens in parking lots!

The History of Running

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

People have been putting one foot in front of the other since the beginning of time, but when did they start to pick up a little speed?  I imagine the cavemen were the first runners as they tracked their prey far distances and over long periods of time which would make running a necessity.  As the population grew, people started settling in their own communities.  These small communities were often separated by great distances but began to start interacting with each other through trade.  The only mode of transportation was walking, so if you wanted to trade goods faster, you ran.

Not until the Greeks and Romans did people start running for exercise.  These countries’ Armys started running to get their soldiers in shape f0r war.  This technique is still used by the military today.  In fact, a great deal of the perception of a leader’s effectiveness is attributed to how well they can run; which worked out well for me while in service.  However, I think this perception is derived because running is directly related to mental toughness.  Again people began to exercise in Medieval Europe.  Suddenly an individual’s physical fitness became very important.  People starting lifting weights in order to build strength and running to build their stamina.

The first evidence of Trail Running came around 3800 BC when the Egyptians would run long distances to other towns without any roads, blazing a trail as they ran.  In the early 19th century the sports of “paper chasing” or “hare and hounds” appeared which later evolved into what we know today as cross-country running.  In 1995 the British Athletic Federation approved a formal definition for trail running events.  Thanks for the approval Britian, but we haven’t needed it since July 4th, 1776.

And here is where evolution has taken us.  From running long distances to chase a saber-toothed tiger to posting information on races, trail runs, training plans, and shoe reviews, on a global network available to anyone.  You’d think with all this connectedness we would have stopped running by now.  Not a chance.

Inaugural Bandit 14K/30K Trail Run

Friday, January 16th, 2009


This year on March14th will be the inaugural race of the Bandit14K/30K Trail Run in Simi Valley, CA.  The race promoters estimate 100 to 200 runners to participate in this first time event.  The race starts in Corriganville Park, running over mountains in single-track switchback, at one point you can see the ocean from 2600 ft. above sea level!