Fuelbelt Crush

Busy weekend means no running. I’m going out again tomorrow and I almost can’t wait. It feels like my legs were happy to take a break. Also, I’ve been resting on my laurels from last week.

There are many good fuel belts out there, but this one fit my needs and it’s relatively cheap. I am among the 17% or so who prefer one big bottle to two or more smaller ones. Smaller bottles are comfortable but are, in my opinion, a hassle to refill and keep track of. The big opening means you can refill the bottle fast and easy. I like this belt. The only drawback is that the pocket is too small for my smart phone! Plenty of room for keys, ID, credit cards and dried dates, but I had to buy an extra pocket for my phone. I’d probably give it a 4 out of 5. I chose this one because of the price, and it does the job. I plan to wear it to pieces.

UPDATE:

I feel like I have to update this review. The red strap that holds the bottle in place (on the pictures above) is no good. It makes no difference if you tighten it, or how you wrap it around the bottle. I’ve even tried to wrap it several times around the cap. I’ve dropped the bottle on the ground a couple of times, when the bottle was full. It simply bounces out of the sheath. I’ve fixed it by sowing on an elastic band (the black one pictured below), but I just can’t give this belt a good score as long as I have to get out needle and thread just to make it work. It’s very securely attached now, so to anyone who’ve bought this belt I recommend this little fix. It makes a lot more sense to attach the bottle to the belt on the inside that the outside, to make the bottle sit as close as possible to the body.

I would love being an industrial designer! There are just so many products out there with one big flaw. Still a good looking belt.

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Running every day, and the myth of Pheidippides

Musha

Mizuno Musha 4. It’s branded as a “stability racing flat”. Very nice shoes. I would remove the stiff plastic “wave” in the midfoot, but otherwise very flexible and light. Musha means warrior.

I ran an easy 5km yesterday, the day after my groundbreaking 21.1km long run. Just couldn’t help myself. They say running makes you crazy. As far as I’m concerned, that’s definitely true. It was a nice trip with no pain. Today I’m tired, especially in my feet, so I’ll take a rest day. I went to the playground with my daughter after the long run, and I think that actually helped me recover too.

I would usually be tired after such a long run, so I take it as a sign that I’m getting stronger. I had a mean cold for the last half of this winter. I was starting to doubt myself, and needless to say, I was in pretty bad shape when I tried to pick up the pace again a month ago. I would actually really like to run every day, but I am very careful to avoid injuries, as it made me have to stop running a few years ago. I’ve been running for two years now, and I think it’s time to increase the volume.

Pheidippides

Speaking of mileage, I recently discovered Pheidippides might have been an Ultramarathoner! This has been covered on millions of running blogs already, but the myth of the marathon is a strong-lived one. Pheidippides is probably a real historic figure who lived from 530 to 490 BC. The historian Herodot describes him as a professional runner who ran from Athens to Sparta to ask for assistance in the Persian wars. The distance was about 240km, and he did not die directly afterwards, as far as the story goes. Herodot wrote this about 40 years after the wars, and his story may be based on eye witness accounts.

Image of some 1896 marathoners.

They don’t make roads like this anymore

Then 500 years pass before the story turns up in a different form, where the runner runs from Marathon to Athens to announce victory, and then dies of exhaustion. From then on there are countless variations on the same story, but the iconic version states that Pheidippides cries “we have won” and then collapses under the stress. It’s hard to imagine something more heroic/stupid than running yourself to death to deliver a non-urgent message. It’s this story that inspired the 1896 Marathon.

So the latter story is about as true as the plot of Game Of Thrones, but there might be some truth to the first, less dramatic, but even more impressive story. And of course, these days everybody knows, it’s fully possible to run 240km in a couple of days, if you have a strong body and are completely nuts.

Sleepy head

I was supposed to test my 5k shape last Saturday, and my goal was to get below 25 minutes. I finished at just under 18 minutes! I found it a bit strange that I had improved so much without even training, but then I realized I had just run 4 km… So it’s still a decent time for me, but I felt a bit stupid. Still managed to get 5 km under 25 minutes, though.

Today I was out with the Marathonsport gang and my pulse peaked at 180 bpm, so my max pulse is not 176. I’ll just keep monitoring to get an accurate number.

Also, I’ve taken out the insoles of my Vivobarefoot Evo‘s. Not to increase ground feel but to get some more space for my foot. This is the way it goes, I’ve heard. You start with a pair of Nike Free’s and before you know it you’re running barefoot in winter and eating chia seeds. On the other hand I have bought a pair of Mizuno Musha shoes which is a bit of a step in the opposite direction. They’re not as good a fit as Vivobarefoot, but they are comfy, and fun to run fast in.

Image of Mizuno Musha 4

Image stolen from runningtechniquetips.com

Since I’ve become a father my taste in music has changed a bit. I like humor in music more. I usually play this song while stretching out.

Running in Chuck Taylors

Earlier this year I went for a run in my Converse knock-offs, and a couple of guys shouted laughing as they ran past me “Running in Converse? That’s brave”. Just seconds later one of them took a wrong step in his running shoes and hurt his ankle. The other guy had to help him walk. What a coincidence! I don’t believe in Karma, but just to be on the safe side, I’ll never laugh at anybody’s shoes ever.

I just remembered when I saw this video about running in Converse All Stars on Runner’s World’s Facebook page. Shoe nerds taking a walk on the wild side. I love the soundtrack. Rock and roll!

 

And I just rounded 500 Km since I started using Runkeeper last october. So just under a year! I Might go shoe shopping again, just to celebrate my awesome but humble achievement.

http://runkeeper.com/user/etyrmi/activity/121294879

http://runkeeper.com/user/etyrmi/activity/121294300

Rainstorms and GPS & A marathon a day

I have been reading “Marathonmagasinet“, a magazine sold my local shop. It comes out twice a year, and I strongly recommend it! Lots of race reports, and focused on the Marathon Distance. I also like that they write about Danish athletes, so you know what is going on. IMO other running magazines write too much about the international top athletes we already know, and running gear. Yawn.

Anyway, there was an article about a Annette Fredskov, who is going to run 366 marathons in a year.  She arranges races through her website every day when there are no other marathons. So the old “I just couldn’t make it that day” doesn’t work until June 2013, if you live near Copenhagen. Every day is a possibility for a spontaneous marathon.

There’s been lots of rain lately. My GPS hardly works. Also I accidentally turned on some sort of auto pause function on the Garmin 305, which goes bananas when the satellite reception is bad, i.e. stops and starts all the time. Runkeeper doesn’t recognize it, so it’s all a mess. Luckily I don’t care so much. But I need to turn it off if I want to enter any of the small local marathons where you time yourself.

BTW Here’s one I’m contemplating: Skodsborg Marathon. There’s something so romantic about a bunch of lunatics running around for hours in the forest, drinking sodas and eating bananas. To me it’s the perfect way to run your first marathon. The only bad thing is, because there are so many races, it’s always easy to postpone it.

http://runkeeper.com/user/etyrmi/activity/120878446

http://runkeeper.com/user/etyrmi/activity/120878998

http://runkeeper.com/user/etyrmi/activity/120880415

New shoes

I felt quite extravagant today, as I went to she shop and paid full price for a pair of Minimus Zero Trail shoes from New Balance. Full price here is 1000 DKK (174 USD/135 EUR), which is 130% of Amazon price. Ouch.

Twist and shout!

But then on the other hand I got to try them, and seven other shoes, and ended up buying a completely different shoe than I had looked at on the web. So I saved myself from paying for the return of some shoes. I also tried the Brooks Pure connect. It did something cool with my gait, and it felt nice. Somehow it makes landing midfoot very easy, because the sole is harder or thicker there. Nice but too weird for me.

NB “Minimus Zero Road”, Inov8 “Bare X-Lite”, and all the Merrell “Barefoot” models were simply to narrow for me, which is a problem, especially if the sole is too structured. Mizuno Musha 4 was an exception, and I’m still thinking of getting a pair of those. It’s a lot less shoe than it looks like.

Then I put on the Minimus Zero Trail, and was surprised at how great it felt. Coming from Vivobarefoot, the extra cushioning is nice, the fit is great, and the holey sole flexes more like a stiff sock than a shoe. And the seventies look is not a drawback.

Looks a bit like a football shoe. (That’s soccer, to those who play football with their hands.)

And they’re light. When I got the box at the store, I thought it was empty at first.

http://runkeeper.com/user/etyrmi/activity/119399815

Top ten most gimmicky shoes…

… acccording to BirthdayShoes.com. I had some good laughs here, especially at some of the commercials and slogans. I think KangaROOS should have made the list. Shoes with pockets, how great is  that! And how extremely gimmicky! And the ones with the blinking lights! But I guess those are HONEST gimmicks, and not as fun as the one below.

Nevermind how they look: That shoe is unstable and harmful. I would never let my granddad wear them,  for safety reasons. Actually the common factor in most of the shoes on the list, is that they are unstable. Which in my opinion is a bad thing for a shoe. Reebook  says it flat out in this commmercial for EasyTone: “There’s actually a little instability built into the shoe.” At least it’s being marketed to healthy women.

Read the whole list here:

http://birthdayshoes.com/top-10-most-gimmicky-shoes

I’m forgiving when it comes to gimmicks. All sports gear is is peppered with technology and most of it is… well gimmicky. It adds to the hype, and possibly the pleasure of the wearer to know there is something special and new about their garment or shoes. It gives us something to talk about.

Were I’m more worried is when these are sold as a way to cure conditions, to people looking for e.g. pain relief. For example, I know several people who had to stop wearing their expensive MBT shoes, because their back pain got worse. The only thing that shoe did was force them to walk heavily on their heels. Try to notice if you see anyone wearing these, they probably have lousy posture.

That kind of gimmick can make me angry. When did we start taking medical advice from salesmen?

My addition to the list:

Actually, a pocket for money isn’t a terrible idea. I’m more skeptical to the Dynacoil that returns the energy you  put into the ground. Wow, does that mean that actually NO energy is spent on shock absorption? Anyway I can see why kids would want this shoe in 1986. It looks awesome, and has NASA technology, and a pocket. Who can argue with that?

Investments

We are expecting a baby soon, so I think twice before making any investment. I customized my own hip bag into a fuel belt for the neat price of 15 Danish Kroner. That’s about 5% of what a fuel belt would cost. I may add more flasks later on if I need to. Can’t wait to try it out. I also bought a jump rope for about the same price.

This totally justifies buying a pair of NB Minimus Zero for the next race, right?

Home made fuelbelt

My needlework, just to show that anyone could do it.

Supposedly good warm up.

My metatarsals just want to be free.

Fifth metatarsus on the middle left.

OK, this is getting nerdy.

I used to be a bit ashamed of my wide feet. Most shoes squeeze the outside of my foot. The little toe sticks out, sometimes making a whole in the fabric, like the first (and last) time I bought All Stars. Lately I’ve been thinking a bit about feet and running gait, and I’ve started looking at people’s feet. Turns out almost everyone’s got the same problem. Simply put we buy shoes that cripple our feet. Not a lot, but a little.

Now, minimal running shoes often sport a wide toe box. That means there is space for the toes to move freely. Problem solved. So why does it still feel like some shoes are squeezing my little toe?

It seems the little toe that we see is just the tip of the iceberg. The fifth metatarsal is a bone running along the outside of your foot, protruding just in front of the ankle. (See the anatomical drawing above for visual reference.) Which brings me to my pet peeve in running shoes; the dreaded “outside arch”. Right at the point where the fifth metatarsal protrudes, a lot of shoe makers have chosen to make the sole narrower and higher. Not wider, like you should think. My impression is that this pushes the bone in and up, creating too much pronation, messing up my gait.

Notice the difference in shape here. A quick Google search tells me this is a pretty common foot shape.

The foot in the illustration is not mine, but basically it’s the same shape. Many people have narrower feet, but according to my totally unscientific research (a quick google search) most feet have the fifth metatarsal sticking out at the same place. The image of a foot below is one of the first that show up in an image search for “sole foot”.

I feel a bit guilty for using the Merrell Trail Glove as an example. After all people have run ultra-marathons in them without experiencing any pain. I have never even run a marathon. It’s not the worst example in any way. It’s a soft shoe, so it gives a bit. Traditional running shoes have the same feature, often to a much worse degree, since they are stiff and “supportive”.

Again, with the Nike Free, this is not the worst example of a weird arch. Quite the opposite. It just shows that this shoe shape is industry standard.

But the trail glove gives a very clear visual reference for the “outside arch”. If you have narrow feet, this may not be a problem. But if you fifth metatarsal hurts when running in shoes, you could give this a thought. A wide toe box doesn’t automatically mean your foot is free.

PS: Although the Merrell shoe did not fit me, it might be the right one for you. Click the Image for a review of the shoe from birthdayshoes.com.

Review: Vivobarefoot Neo Trail shoe

"Outdoorsy" styling.

So, Iv’e finally gotten myself a pair of Vivobarefoot Neo Trails. I went for a test run today, trying to run on as many different surfaces as possible.

They are actually good on pavement, surprisingly. The lugs are so thick that they don’t bend much, making a pretty stable sole. It’s a sole with lugs but feel more like a thicker sole with some holes in it. About that: The lugs also give some cushioning. I’m used to the slightly thinner Evo/Neo sole, so this sole feels a bit softer, which I don’t mind. There’s still very little chance of heelstriking in these, thus it deserves the “minimal” label. Zero drop of course.

I tried the shoes in some muddy hills and some grass, and the grip is excellent. I’m glad I photographed the shoes before I ran, because the soles are full of mud now, and some dog turds as well.

I’ve read some reviews saying the shoe is much too warm, and that the watertightness is of no use, as many reviewers prefer a shoe that drained faster. My answer is, that it depends who you are and where you live. I live far north.

When running in temperatures well below zero degrees (30 F) I want dry feet if possible. If I get wet, I don’t want the shoe to let the heat out. I’d rather have a bit of lukewarm water in my shoe than solid ice. Overheating is not really a problem. The fact that they are waterproof and the overly aggressive sole make them excellent for conditions with slippery snow and freezing temperatures. I imagine I will be dry and comfortable all the way to april, when I will stow these away with the rest of my winter boots.

The midfoot is a bit stiffer than the other Vivobarefoot models, due to a protecting plastic piece under the arch. (I had to take two weeks off a while back after stepping on a rock, so I appreciate its usefulness.) This would be a problem if the midfoot wasn’t so roomy. My foot is allowed to move freely inside and doesn’t feel trapped in any way. The Neo Trail has a stiff midfoot, but that it does not inhibit my foot because it is wider than most shoes.

The upper on these shoes is a bit over-engineered; a bit bulky, but protecting you from roots and rocks. Vivobarefoot have another model of the regular Neo with watertight mesh on top, which should be an excellent trail shoe if you want something lighter for a race. These are made for comfort or extra gritty terrain.

This shoe is not a good all-round shoe, but rather a shoe that is perfect for certain conditions: if you usually have cold winters, or snow, or if you like to run on rough trails or where there’s no trail, this shoe is perfect. There are lots of shoes for light trail (e.g. Vivobarefoot Neo, Merrell trail glove,  New Balance Minimus Trail, Altra Lone Peak), this shoe is for all the other trails. Also, if you live further south, there’s a more breathable version, called Breatho Trail, coming out next year, also for the tough trails.

Second opinions:

  1. Maple grove barefoot guy
  2. Running and Rambling
  3. Birthday shoes

Scroll down for some more photos.

Update

And I must add the Neo Trails are simply amazing when it comes to grip on icy surfaces. Running on a wet icy wooden pier is generally considered dangerous, and I wouldn’t attempt it in any other shoe. I was a bit skeptic to this shoe after reading some mixed reviews, but I know for certain than none of the reviewers had tried the shoe in winter, as it only came out in summer 2011. Also it seems that people who live in warmer countries tend to conclude “too warm, doesn’t drain: Dealbreaker” or “No rockplate, overly aggressive grip”, while I’ve read reviews from Denmark and Britain stating “This is THE shoe for winter conditions”. I guess the same  things that makes it good also makes it not suitable for hot weather. Anyway, amazing shoe.

Very grippy sole, rock protection piece to the right.

Stiffness in the midfoot area.

Comfy lining, removable insole

Rounded heel. No heelstrike.

Discrete branding