- Forget the excuses and just run. This is by far the weightiest of tips in the list. Excuses can come fast and easy once the salad days of summer trail running slam to a halt. The best thing you can do is simply ignore them, lace up, and get out the door. Of course, if it's blizzarding and dark and you'd be in real peril of being cut in half by a snow plow, maybe a day off or trip to the gym is truly in order. Just don't let it become a habit.
- Don't rely too much on the treadmill. Treadmills are great once in a while -- when you just need something different or conditions are just too miserable to get outside safely -- but nothing compares to running on the actual road (or road covered in ice and snow). The challenging conditions and varied terrain you get outside will make those first steps on bare road and dry dirt in spring feel like heaven.
- Get some spiked shoes. The best thing I did last winter was buy a pair of Icebug spiked shoes (review). I don't wear them on every run in winter, but when the roads are mostly compact snow and ice (like they are here for the foreseeable future), you can't beat the traction and confidence they'll give you, especially in the dark. Plus, they're a great excuse killer (see tip #1).
- Go with water bottles rather than a pack. There is no perfect choice for hydration in winter. When you're running for over an hour with the temperature near zero, things are going to freeze. Having run with both bottles and an insulated pack, bottles seem the best way to go, simply because once the nozzle freezes you can still unscrew the lid and drink your slushy sports drink. With a pack, once the nozzle/tube freezes (and it almost always will at some point), there's no easy way to get at its contents.
- Go with less viscous gels. While I've yet to have a gel freeze on me, some of the more solid gels, like Gu, can turn pretty hard in cold temperatures. This makes them hard to eat and hard to squeeze out, especially with numb hands. More liquid gels, like PowerGels, stay pretty soft, even at zero degrees, which makes them much more palatable and easy to deal with.
- Get a jacket with a hood. There's a lot to dislike about running jackets with hoods--that is, when you don't need the hood. But, when the snow is flying and you're running into a 15 knot wind when the thermometer reads minus 3, that hoodie quickly becomes your best friend. Personally, I love my full-zip whisper light Patagonia Houdini (review), and I know I'm not alone. For such a lightweight jacket it really performs, and the hood does a particularly great job as a fairing in a brisk head wind, ushering much of that cold air around your face rather than right into it.
- Protect your face. When the wind is whipping and the mercury dips well below freezing, it's important to look out for your face. I like to put Kiehl's Non Freeze Face Protector on my ear lobes and exposed parts of my face. It really helps ward off freezer burn, and possibly frostbite, and just makes me feel more comfortable. Dermatone is good too. Plain old petroleum jelly should work as well.
- Run with friends. Misery loves company, so find a group of friends as crazy as you are and pick times to run regularly over the winter. It's a great way to stay true to your plan and get your rear end out the door on those dismal mornings. Plus, you'll have great stories to retell on your long summer trail runs: "Remember when all our bottles froze by mile 9?" Good times.
- Don't skimp on lighting and reflection. A good headlamp can make all the difference between a good run and a tedious run. Spend a little extra and after the first three runs you'll feel it's already paid for itself. Also, go to town on reflective wear: tights, vests, hats, etc. If cars think you look like the Electric Horseman, you've done things right.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Joining the elite corps of ultras like Hardrock, Wasatch Front, and Coyote Two Moon that have elevation gains that make many a runner, even an ultrarunner, quake in their Inov-8's, are two new races for 2009: the Dirt Roads and Trail Endurance Ultra Marathon 100 miler (DRTE 100), and the Blue Canyon Trail Race (50k, 50m, 100k).
Both races call Santa Barbara home with near sea level starts that then travel through the stellar coastal mountain range that juts out of the earth not far from the Pacific.
The inaugural DRTE 100 will take place October 2/3, 2009 and boasts close to 35,000 feet of total elevation gain.
The inaugural Blue Canyon Trail Race will take place June 6, 2009 and boasts over 18,000 feet of gain for the 100k (nearly 15,000 for the 50m).
Applications for both open February 1, 2009. Check race sites regularly for developing details.
(Photo by gamillos courtesy of Creative Commons)
Friday, December 5, 2008
See all Photo Guide entries.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
This is all build up to the launch of the 4th edition of the "Tribute to the Trails" wall calendar, which is built on Tachiyama's outstanding photos. The calendar started shipping to stores today (retail $18.00), and a sneak peak is available at: www.pbase.com/gtach/2009calendar.
Outside of some Oregon and Washington running stores, the best the place to find a copy is online at: Zombie Runner. All proceeds from the sales benefit the non-profit Washington Trails Association.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
With online registration meltdowns two years running for Boise's popular trail half marathon, Race to Robie Creek (previous posts), anxious athletes are beginning to wonder what's in store for the 2009 event. Pitched as the "toughest half marathon in the Northwest," Robie Creek frustrated thousands of would-be runners in both 2007 and 2008 when the servers at athleteslounge.com melted down under huge traffic volume. The tie-ups last year were particularly frustrating since race directors had been told by athleteslounge.com that the problems of the previous year wouldn't resurface. They did, of course, which finally prompted directors to vow that 2009 would feature revamped registration procedures.
The race website isn't yet revealing what the new process is going to be. It could be a lottery, the M.O. for a number of popular trail races these days. Most likely, it'll remain a first come, first served online registration, should an appropriate site be chosen to host the huge volume, like active.com. If things track this way, expect the race to fill in a matter minutes.
Registration is looking to be on or around Presidents Day (February 16, 2009) for the April 18 event. More to come as details develop.
(Photo by A.K. Photography used under Creative Commons)
Friday, November 14, 2008
A small but compelling study that came out this summer (and that I read about recently in a column by Monique Ryan in VeloNews) found that a big bolus of caffeine after glycogen-draining exercise can significantly increase the rate at which glycogen stores are restocked in the hours after exercise. Basically, it seems that caffeine can keep the machinery of glucose uptake into muscles well greased over time in the trained athlete.
The study took seven cyclists and had them ride until exhaustion on two separate occasions, about ten days apart. On one of the occasions, they were given standard recovery foods (bars, sports drinks, gels) along with caffeine. On the other occasion, they were just given the foods -- no caffeine. Muscle biopsies afterward revealed that after four hours, the athletes in the caffeine group packed away about a third more glycogen than those in the no-caffeine group. On top of this, the athletes on caffeine had the highest rate of glycogen synthesis ever reported under free-living conditions.
Anyone looking at back-to-back big runs should stand up, take note, and possibly invest in a nice espresso maker.
The one stopper to all of this is the level of caffeine the athletes took in. It was pretty big -- about 560 mg for a 155 pound athlete -- but not extraordinary. A "tall" 12 ounce Starbucks drip has 260 mg. Get a refill and you're pretty much there. How about that quad (four espresso shot) latte? Pretty close, depending on the mix of beans. A Starbucks quad would only be about 300 mg, but some blends can deliver more than two and half times that.
Of course, every athlete's different and caveat, caveat, caveat, but at a minimum, if you enjoy a little caffeine rush after those long runs, it seems there's one more good reason to keep up with it. Cheers.
Friday, November 7, 2008
This past season, I really tried to focus on my salt consumption and thought it'd be interesting to collapse the sodium content of some common nutrition products into a single chart to get a sense of where things fell (see below). For the savvy runner, there are aren't too many surprises here. Hammer products remains typically low in sodium. Power Gels are the sodium king in their category. And chicken broth/bouillon blows the top off of everything. One real surprise, though, is the newest formulation from Gatorade Endurance, which packs a whopping 400 mg of sodium in a 100 calories serving, easily beating out the other sports drinks in that category.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
So with calculator and pad in hand, I hopped on over to the USDA nutrient data base and pieced together on-the-go versions of the two sandwiches. Neither was overstuffed. The PB & J had two tablespoons of peanut butter and one tablespoon of jelly. The turkey and avo had a 1/4 cup avocado, about 2 1/2 ounces turkey (75 grams) and a dash of mayonnaise (1/3 tablespoon).
Sunday, October 26, 2008
For a collection of media coverage of the story, visit sleepmosters.com.
Friday, October 24, 2008
I also used the run to pilot test a new feature for Run Junkie: photo guides to the Sun Valley area's best trail runs. Inaugural effort below (or click for full size photos/slideshow).
See all Photo Guide entries.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
What does this all mean? It's hard to say given the very small sample size of the study, but with ultramarathoners' propensity to go high and go long, it'll give our friends and family even more evidence that we really aren't quite right in the head.
(photo by e.berg used under Creative Commons)
Monday, October 20, 2008
So far (now all of 5 days in ), I'm adhering to the plan, and although the stretching seems to be irritating things more than resolving them, I'm going to have faith that things will turn favorably over the next number of weeks. After all, he's helped athletes an order of magnitude more accomplished and injured than I.
Second, AJW and I got out for a fantastic 18 mile autumn run through Fox Creek, Oregon Gulch, and Chocolate Gulch on Sunday. The weather was ideal, the scenery spectacular, and the conversation, as always, entertaining. With frigid temperatures and snow upon us any day, runs like this are just gravy before a long winter of logging miles on icy pavement. They also remind me how lucky I am to live in an area filled with amazingly close in -- yet quickly remote -- backcountry trails and that's populated with a small, but fervent group of accomplished ultra runners (author excepted).
Finally, I had an epiphany about the '09 season around mile 10 during that Sunday run, thanks to some great and insightful conversation with Mr. Jones-Wilkins. My plan's been to try my first 100 miler next season, but I've been in a quandary over which one. They seem either front-loaded in late spring/early summer--where it can be hard to get the training miles because of the snow-pack here in the mountains; or they're back-loaded in late summer/early fall--where, frankly, I worry about training motivation, since my season's starting early with the Coyote Two Moon 100k in mid March.
Banking a bit on a lighter snow year than 2008, I made the decision to try to parlay my fitness from Coyote into an early season attempt at the Bighorn 100 in late June (assuming I can get in). Knowing myself and seeing how my motivation drained a bit in August this year, it seems like I should tap into that early season verve where you're often just thankful to be running on dirt rather than ice. That I'd be able to get in some big runs on Fridays while my boys are in school also assuages some of the concern about sending my wife over the edge with big runs on both Saturdays and Sundays, leaving her too often in solo survival mode with our banshee boys for hours on end.
To tempt fate (and my wife) even more, I'll probably put my name into the Wasatch lottery as well, just in case Bighorn goes well (or for that matter horribly wrong).
Of course, this all depends on the health of that nagging knee. But if I've learned one thing from my experienced running buddies, it's that good seasons begin with good planning. And you adjust as you need to. I'm beginning to get excited about the prospect of it all.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I took it out for a test run this morning on the local Vorberg Gulch--Carbonate loop, a great eight mile run with about 1200 ft of climbing that feels remote but is basically right on the edge of town. Developing technique notwithstanding, it seems like it'll be a great camera to chronicle those epic backcountry runs of '09 and beyond.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Two hours later, though, as my bottle valve started to freeze on the wind-blown Carbonate ridge, I knew it'd been the right move, even with all the baggage that went with it.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
One such shoe I've really been putting through the paces this late season is Inov-8's Roclite 320 (retail $94.95). Inov-8 is a UK-based company that has made its name producing stripped down, responsive mountain-running shoes with aggrevise soles and low profiles. Lacing up a pair of their light trail shoes (like the Flyroc 310 or the Mudroc 280) requires a bit of re-education of expectations. They don't strike the ground like most people are used to and can be a rough ride at first, leaving you with sore ankles and knees, but those who can work past such things are rewarded with a nimble shoe that can descend like no other. Admittedly, though, these stripped down flyers aren't for everyone, especially those who find themselves running a mix of trails and roads.
And it is for these folks that Inov-8 seems to have developed the Roclite 320. If the Asics Gel Nimbus and the Inov-8 Mudclaw 280 married and had a child, this shoe would be it. While it has the extra cushioning and substance of a fairly chunky road shoe, the Roclite 320 maintains the Inov-8 lightness as well as the aggressive sole and low profile that make ready work of rocky trails and gnarly descents. The solid toe bump protection of the 320's is extra gravy, especially for those of us who make a habit of jamming our toes into any and all manner of rocks on the trail.
The major drawback of these shoes is the stiffness. Although the sole is pretty much the same as those used on the lighter, very flexible Inov-8's, when it's integrated into this beefier incarnation it gets a tad inflexible. This makes them not quite as responsive, and not quite as fun, as they could be. And I found on very steep downhills the stiffness made my feet slosh forward more than normal, even after repeated tweaks to the lacing.
One minor (and purely cosmetic) drawback of the 320's is that they lack that inimitable Inov-8 style. While they certainly aren't ugly shoes, they don't have that engaging, new paradigm look of the rest of the line.
The bottom line: If you're looking for a light, responsive trail running shoe that is great on descents and can do some comfortable road miles, give the Roclite 320's a try.
More shoe reviews on Run Junkie (shoe reviews).
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
1. Ty Draney 19:59:07
2. Erik Storheim 20:56:58
3. Nate McDowell 21:06:00
Top 3 Finishers
1. Scott Jurek 22:20:01
2. Markus Thallman 24:52:09
3. Lars Skytte Christoffersen 25:29:41
1. Sook-Hoe Hur 30:03:22
2. Stacey Bunton 31:25:59
3. Marika Heilein 31:39:19
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
This morning I ran down to the Burke-Gilman trail right on the shores of Lake Washington and popped off 8 miles at a good tempo pace. What with injuries before my summer ultras and a few weeks of recovery after them, it's been a long time since I've really been able to air things out. But today was the day to do it. With my legs finally feeling fresh - and with the sea level boost - I pretty easily averaged about 7:30 per mile, with the final four a dash under 7:00. I know it's not fast fast, but with my recent slog-pace, it sure felt like it was. Getting to watch the sun rise over the Cascades made it all even better.
I'd hoped to make it Cougar Mountain to see where all the Seattle ultra folk get a lot of their weekday miles in, but the doctors and the waning daylight hours didn't cooperate.
Nearly as good, though, I made it to the Seattle Running Company at their new location (two doors down from the old location) and chin-wagged with White River RD, Scott McCoubrey, while trying on about 25 pairs of shoes, finally settling on the Inov-8 Roclite 320. I'd been intrigued with the green and black trail-only Mudroc 280s, but they just felt too darn strange for the upcoming winter road miles. What a great store, and what a great guy.
So that's the report from my life at sea level. Hope to be back in the high mountain wilds of Idaho soon. Cheers.
(photo by zingersb, used under Creative Commons)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
One major function that may turn some folks away is the social networking aspect. All entries on the site are al fresco - open for viewing to anyone who visits the site. With the omnipresence of personal blogs these days, this is becoming less of an issue, but still it may turn away some folks looking for a fully private easy-to-use training log website. Of course, you can use a nom de plume and not worry about it.
Either way, the site seems worth a look for those who haven't yet found a training log site that truly meets their needs.
To see Attackpoint stress-tested by some big name ultra-runners, check out the logs of Justin Angle and Geoff Roes.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Coming to the end of the '08 season with the sting of a DNF on my final race (previous post), it's been more than a little hard to settle in to the off-season. I've been obsessed with thoughts of '09 races and practically have to lash myself to the sofa to make sure I get the rest I need to let my injuries heal and muscles rejuvenate.
And it is just this state that has sent my mind over and over again to the closing pages of D.H Lawrence's classic as I try to remind myself that there's a time for training and a time for resting.
As is fairly common knowledge, and largely revealed in the title, the heroine of the work, Constance Chatterly, took a bit of a liking to the hired hand, Oliver Mellors, which resulted in the pursuit of shall we say various physical activities. In the end, the two remain together - complete and happy - but for the moment physically separate. In a lengthy letter to Constance, which closes the book and was supposedly inspired by parts of Frazer's The Golden Bough, Mellors goes on at length about the importance of rest and rejuvenation to maintain the magic they share. In the one section I'm able to print here, he says that it "takes patience and the long pause" to truly realize nature's creation.
So, this is what I've been thinking about, Lawrence's great line: "patience and the long pause."
As much as I want to charge ahead with training, as much as I want to get to the '09 season, it's really the time for patience and a long pause. Time to rest and rebuild. If it worked for two frisky Victorians, that should be good enough for me.
Monday, September 15, 2008
1. Prudence L'Heureux 22:13:10
2. Ashley Nordell 22:55:453. Jannifer Heiner 26:46:07
Friday, September 12, 2008
Spots are limited and entrants must fill out an application and send in registration fees, which are pretty stiff but include some nice Patagonia bling. Rumor has it the 100k may not be offered in 2010, so this year may be the last chance to run something shorter than full 100 mile tamale.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Betsy Nye took the women's race in 25:36.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Mile 70 update.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I took five full days off this week, running a pretty easy five miles today. It was nice to be out running without any serious training plan in mind. Just a free and easy trot on some single track with free and easy thoughts about some short fall races and the '09 ultra season.
The only race I really have left on the '08 calendar is the Zeitgeist Half Marathon in Boise, November 1. For a road half, it's fairly challenging, with about 1,100 feet of climbing, and there are always some speedy roadsters toeing the line. The distance and the climbing shouldn't be a problem, but my speed is in the tank after injuries and ultras, so I have some tempo runs and a few trips to the track ahead of me this fall.
After Zeitgeist, it'll be back to skiing and the dark, cold, icy runs that make training in the high mountains that much more interesting. It's strange, but some of my best runs surface on the early morning icy roads. Just like those big summer runs on technical single track, there's something about a snowy -10 degree run that really strips you down to pure effort and desire.
And I've been thinking a lot about these winter runs as I've been starting to plan (some would say obsess over) the '09 season. Crazily, I may bust out '09 with the Coyote 2 Moons 100k (19,000 ft of climbing) in Ojai, Ca in mid-March, should I be able to get in. Most likely, we'll still have two feet of snow on the ground here, so running all the miles and vertical to make it worthwhile would be a huge challenge. But, it's practically in my home town, and we'd planned a family trip down there around that time, so the cards seem about as aligned as they could be. Plus it just seems like a great event, and the Patagonia finisher's jacket alone is worth the price of admission (for more, see post on Coyote Two Moons 2009 Applications).
Beyond Coyote, I'm not so sure. But, I have to admit to looking at a heck of a lot of 100 mile sites, and may decide to try my inexperienced hand. Bighorn, Tahoe Rim Trail, Leadville, Cascade Crest, Angeles Crest, Wasatch - they're all more than intriguing. It could be pure folly, I know. And I may be using the whole idea of doing a 100 as a foil against my recent disappointing drop at Teton. But, in the past, I've used my frailties as a springboard to bigger accomplishment, and maybe my Teton experience is just what I need to give me the courage (or unwarranted chutzpa) to actually pick a 100 and toe the line. Cheers.
(click to enlarge)
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
To be honest, we at Run Junkie have yet to come across a perfect running jacket. The quest to find a lightweight, breathable, water proof, comfortable, and yes, good looking, running shell seems a near impossibility. That said, the Houdini Full Zip is the best shell we've come across these many years. It's extremely lightweight yet buffs up well as an outer layer on -10 degree, snowy morning runs. Sweat condenses a bit inside on long runs but not so much to bring on a chill, and the full zipper can help release some of the moisture as time goes on and the temp rises.
One Jekyll-and-Hyde aspect of the Houdini is its integrated hood. On the plus side, it's great to have the hoody option when the rain or snow hits unexpectedly. On the downside, the hood can't be removed, and, because it's so lightweight, the thing can be a spinnaker in a stiff wind - blowing by the side of your face with a big tailwind and dragging you backward in a hard headwind.
As for precip protection, the Houdini performs pretty well - good in snow and light rain, OK in a downpour. We'd be dishonest if we didn't say we'd hoped for a bit more when the rain was really coming down.
Everything taken together, though, we have to say we really like the Houdini Full Zip. It's not perfect, but it performs well enough to get you through some really tough conditions comfortably. Plus, it has those inimitable Patagonia good looks that will keep heads turning before, during, and after your runs.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Sunday, August 17, 2008
1. Neil Olsen 10:06:54
2. Nate McDowell 10:10:57
3. Joe Grant 10:11:22
1. Prudence L'Heureux 11:12:36
2. Krissy Moehl 11:24:50
3. Meghan Arbogast 12:03:45
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
It's tragic to think that honest, clean, and hard-working athletes have their careers ruined by a false positive drug test, and there have been a number of well-reasoned scientific papers recently showing that this may be happening more often than most people understand (previous post). The latest and biggest bombshell to drop, however, was in a commentary by Dr. Michael Barry in the venerable journal Nature called, The Science of Doping. In the commentary, Barry calls into question the validity of the whole anti-doping system, which he argues is based on untested science and lacks necessary standards for the collection, storage, and security of blood and urine samples.
Barry has raised the ire of the World Anti-Doping Agency and other related agencies, but at a time when many sports are on the brink because of doping, it seems to make sense to try to get things right.
Listen to Barry talk about his paper on today's Talk of the Nation: Science Friday.