Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Second Wind:

If you ask a runner if they've ever experienced "Second Wind" (not my book - 'The' second wind) and they respond with anything like "uh" "well" "huh" or "I think this one time" then they haven't.

Second Wind is a pure high that is unmistakable - a time when you're tired, your breath is shot, you're inching closer to the dark side (quitting) and all of the sudden the heavens open up, the stars align, God smiles down upon your wandering feet and you... fly.  It's a high - you can all of the sudden run at peak performance with seemingly no effort, your feet, muscles, heart rate, and breath all of the sudden feel like you've just started your run, and 'that' undeniable grimace turns to a smile of elation.

Some people claim that this is a moment of your body's oxygen level balancing out perfectly with your muscles, some that it's a balance or 'flush' of lactic acid, some say it's a sudden and enormous release of endorphin, many others that it's purely psychological, and  still others that it's simply a myth.  What most runners will tell you who have experienced it, it's a high like no other.  They will also tell you that if you are a 3r (run 3 miles 3 times a week) you're likely to never experience it - that it usually occurs at long distance, the earliest many people ever experience it is 7-15 miles, still others say nothing other than an Ultra triggers it.  Everyone will tell you one thing.  They don't know.  We don't know when it will happen, we don't know what causes it, it happens rarely (sometimes only once - sometimes never) and it can't be replicated.

The runner's second wind is like a good orgasm... if you go out Trying to find it, you likely never will.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cold weather running

So, as happens from time to time, I get so many great reviews out at once that there's something missing... you know... like a blog post.

As weather begins to cool (I say "begins" because we've now had a couple weeks of colder weather with a couple of days in the mid 30s... followed by this week of 3 days in the 70s #welcometoeasttennessee) I begin to pay more attention to my cold weather gear.

One of the first things I tell people for running in colder weather is to start of with a negative split:  make sure you start your running at a slower than normal pace and then gradually build your speed up so as to allow for your muscles to pre-heat before you really take off.

Secondly, be sure that you ARE cold when you first take off.  If you are comfortable before you hit the start button your GPS than you are going to be having a heat stroke before your warm up is done!

Layer:  if you are new to winter running than allow yourself sometime to learn what suits you best in different temps and practice layering.  This gives you the option of "oh crap I dressed to warm" so take a top layer off and keep going instead of just ruining your whole run.

Remember that your largest source of body heat loss is your head.  Beanies go a long way towards keeping your entire body warm.  If nothing else, start there.

Though not a huge source of body temp loss, a huge source of moral loss from cold comes from your hands!  Your hands are out in front taking the brunt of the wind and frozen digits can be a big run killer.  Try some nice thin gloves - nothing to serious, but something to cut the wind off.

There are all kinds of options now for baselayers, compression baselayers, lightweight tops, technical jackets, etc.

For me, I stay in shorts for a long period of time, even if I bundle up the rest of me, and honestly it's just preference.  Lots of cool weather runs I will simply use shorts, a long sleeve shirt, and then put on gloves and a beanie and go.

What about you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: VIVOBAREFOOT Off Road Hi Minimalist (and waterproof) BOOTS

Levi Dodd
November 2011

This will mark my 3rd pair of VIVOBAREFOOT (/Terra Plana) shoes that I personally own and I am very impressed with the company’s direction.  They have had their VIVOBAREFOOT line for going on 8 years now (certainly ahead of the curve).  What I really like is that with each new shoe they put out, they are listening to minimalist minded people and addressing their concerns – getting better each time.

First impressions were great and the boots look good.  I am a minimalist shoe and barefoot runner and let’s be honest… the good shoes typically ARE going to get you all kinds of attention, but the not the attention a fashion minded individual may want… 

The boots feel great – to me they feel like a perfectly broke in pair of hiking boots right out of the box!

·         The ~4.5mm multidirectional lugs on the bottom provide traction that I found Very impressive, while the unique ‘v’ design of the lugs sheds mud quite well also. 
·         The leather is very nice, good looking, and I found it to be quite abrasion resistant
·         The polyurethane mudguard around the edge (overlapping the sole to the leather upper) provides excellent protection against nicks, cuts, and scratches while also helping provide an added layer of protection from the elements (in rain proofing).
·         The tongue/collar is gusseted for water proofing and is padded on the back against your instep which I loved!
·         Standard speed lacing hooks provide stability and varied level of tension
·         The 3mm sole is extremely flexible  - just what you would want and expect in a minimalist shoe of any kind.  The boot will roll up toe to heel and will also roll and torque side to side.  There are no stiff points, no stability webs or the like
·         The sole is very thin (the sole itself is between 2.5mm and 3mm) but with the combination of the lugs (somewhere between 4mm and 5mm) you get no ground feel.  What I mean by this is that you won’t feel pricks of individual rocks underfoot.
·         There is, of course, no heel-to-toe drop (zero drop).  This is the only mass produced ‘boot’ that I’m aware of that offers a zero drop.
·         The boots are very light weight, weighing in at only 1 pound!  For reference, my Vasque Sundowners weigh in at just under 3 ½ pounds.
·         One of the most important features of this boot to me is the fact that they are waterproof – and they really are!  There are so many times where I require a waterproof platform but can’t stand my traditional (heavy, stabilized, and substantial heel drop) boots and these offer me a completely waterproof platform to fit my needs.

Final Thoughts:

I love minimalist shoes.  That’s all I use, no… really.  At work, while running, dress shoes, hiking, working out, around the house, mowing the lawn, every shoe I wear is a zero drop minimalist shoe.  That being said, I love to hike, I love to hunt, and I love to camp and there are times where I really miss my boots!  There are times where solid leather, a hi-top, and (most importantly for me) waterproof become extremely important.  I’ve long waited for a company to come out with true minimalist boot to fill this void and I am pleased to say that VIVOBAREFOOT have done just that.  I am thrilled at their marriage of “minimalism” and “boot” and will thoroughly enjoy these new Off-Road Hi boots.

Friday, November 4, 2011

KEEN A86 TR shoe review

Levi Dodd
November 2011

KEEN is known for a lot of things:  exceptional support, bullet proof toe guards, good wide lasts, solid traction, and great customer service.  However, they have never been known for anything minimalistic. 

Well, like a lot of other forward thinking companies, KEEN is wanting to put their best foot forward (yuk-yuk-yuk) towards minimalism.  Enter the A86 TR.

(As an aside – I think it’s important to mention that nowhere, at no point that I can find, does KEEN ever specifically market this shoe as a “minimalist” shoe.  They do not explicitly brand it “barefoot”, they simply market it as a “light and fast trail running shoe”.  To that end, it is amazing!  And, therefore, anything that fits perfectly into minimalism on this shoe is truly just a bonus!)

KEEN introduced their A86 TR to resounding applause from trail runners everywhere and recently they were kind enough to pass on a pair to me to review for you guys.

The A86 marks KEENs first shoe in the ‘minimalist’ category.  They did a lot of things right.
KEEN, I believe, made a wise decision in sticking to their market and going after trail runners and not road racers.  As you know, trail runners have been asking many companies to come out with a ‘middle ground’ shoe as they desperately wanted the lightweight shoe and to push towards minimalism, but still wanted a little more support and a little less ground feel for technical trails (you might say they wanted to a shoe that would be as minimalist as comfortable instead of as minimalist as possible).
The A86 TR fills this spot quite well. 

·         The A86 is a light shoe (weighing in at about 9oz) – much lighter than traditional shod shoes.
·         It has an excellent glove like fit, especially considering the design of the shoe
·         KEEN has created an amazingly breathable shoe in the A86 – the textile mesh provides excellent air flow both in and out of the shoe
·         Perhaps the best part of the shoe is the sole.  The “3mm multi directional lugs” are amazing.  The traction (on trails, in mud, on rocks) is second to none!  I felt more sure-footed in these than any pair of hiking boots I’ve worn – truly an excellent design
·         The sole is very flexible!
·         Ground feel is close to zero, but that’s not a fault, it’s by design.  The sole itself is quite thin and it doesn’t have excessive padding and sports no extra hyped up support or protection.
·         The stack height, even for a racing flat, is quite low (9mm under the toes and 15mm under the heels).
·         I have heard some people complain about the lace design -  I, personally, really like the aesthetics of the “cool” lacing design, but also appreciate the functionality of being able to choose the level of “snugness”
·         Another + for this shoe is the fit.  I like that it has a narrow “snug” heel and then it widens as it goes forward.  The toe box is wide (all the way out to the end of the toes-not just where the toes join the foot) and allow for fairly good toe splay, though not quite as wide as some of KEEN’s other shoes.

So, on the conclusion end:

I really appreciate what KEEN has done with this shoe and I think it fits a large (and growing) segment of the market – those wishing to transition into minimalism.  I didn’t mind the traditional ‘shod’ look of the shoe, I didn’t mind the cushioning/stack height (as it was perfectly done to provide just enough to minimize ground feel on technical trails and still provided excellent flexibility and natural foot flex), and it met all of my other minimalist shoe requirements except for one thing.  The heel to toe drop.  As most of you know, that is my single biggest sticking point on any shoe.  The 6mm drop is ½ the drop of a traditional shoe and will be a great improvement for a lot of people, and also, therefore, makes this shoe an excellent transition shoe.  However, for me, the 6mm heel-to-toe drop was just too much for my knees, my form, and my taste (as someone who runs, walks, hikes, hangs out, and works in Nothing but zero drop shoes – 100% of the time). 
What I see is a fantastic technical trail shoe, one of (if not) the best 1st round minimalist shoes by any major shoe company, and I am hopeful for more (zero-drop) minimalist shoes from KEEN!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

icebreaker is a very unique company.  They have taken a stance (a real stance – not a marketing ploy) on environmental conservation, from their materials, to their factories, every step of the way. 
Now, this isn’t done by throwing a couple bucks at Al Gore to offset a carbon footprint, instead, icebreaker took a holistic approach:  from the raw materials, the farmers, the supply chain and transportation, to the manufacturers and their employees, icebreaker is striving (and doing an amazingly good job) to be in control every step of the way. 
Icebreaker is making a valiant effort to not only have a great slogan, “It’s about our relationship with nature and to each other”, but taking ground breaking steps in transparency all the way down to the end user on how they are living that slogan out (check out their ‘baacode’).

First impressions upon unboxing:  The top looks fantastic and I’m a big fan of the shoulder accent (and reflective piping) that is a bit of an Icebreaker trademark.  As with most of their products, I found this top to be just as much at home sitting above a pair of designer blue jeans as it would sitting above a pair of sweaty running shorts. 

The cut is very detailed, the fit is just right, and it’s tapered to sit perfectly on your form while not being at all compressing. 

Icebreaker included a perfectly sized zipper pocket on the bottom right side(truly on the side – not on the front where it swings out and smacks back down on your waist each stride) that is small, thin, and tight so that whatever you put in it doesn’t jostle around.  I thought the size of this pocket to be a really big deal – the size is perfect (I put an ipod and a key in that pocket with plenty of room and they fit in nice and tight and don’t bounce around).
Additionally there is a cord hole at the top of the pocket (on the inside) to run your headphone cord up to the back of your neck where they included a loop to hold them in place on your run.  I really like this up-the-back design and under the top – this keeps all the wires hidden and out of the way where you aren’t brushing them every stride or catching them with your hands.

Icebreaker fashions, with no exaggeration, the softest, lightest, most comfortable apparel I have ever worn and this top is no exception.  The LS Ace Zip is made of 97% Merino wool (not synthetic, pure, natural New Zealand Merino wool) and 3% Lycra.  This thing has an amazing amount of stretch to it.

Remember that even though ‘wool’ has a bad connotation with a lot of athletes and is known for being hot and scratchy, this Merino wool is like nothing I have ever felt.  It breathes wonderfully, is weightless (I swear it floats with your body instead of lying on it), and, again, is the softest material I’ve ever felt (forget ‘wool’ – think 10,000 thread count Egyptian cotton and you might get some idea of what I’m talking about).

Their Merino wool regulates body temperature so well that this is honestly a 3 season jacket (from early fall to late spring).  I’ve worn it on days where the temperature reached 70 degrees and it was a pleasure, and this morning I wore it at 38 degrees and it kept my body just the right temperature.  It’s nice to finally have something that works so well that you don’t have to layer different weight jackets. 
On the layering note, this shirt does work perfectly over a base-layer, however you can wear the LS Ace Zip with no undershirt and it feels great directly on your skin as well.

One of my favorite things about Icebreaker apparel is that it is so effective at being naturally anti-microbial that it doesn’t stink.  Ever.  You can wear these tops in the heat, sweat enough that it changes colors from being drenched, throw it in the corner, pick it up the next morning and it smells WAG approved - but whenever you do decide to wash it, you just throw it in the washer.  No fancy washing bags and delicate cycles, no dry cleaning, 100% machine washable and go.

A+ product icebreaker, very well done.