Thursday, June 30, 2011

Half, Half, Half, wayyyyyyyyyy dooooooone... yeah yeah...

So the year is half over and what do I have to show for it, training and blogwise?

Training? I'm not really training for anything, so it's been hit or miss for a while. I worked on adding some barefooting to my run workouts, got a new saddle (Adamo Typhoon) which increased my cycling pleasure immeasurably, and swam only in my in-laws' pool (cold) or Lake Michigan (colder). The results:
  • Running: 58 outings for a total of 302 miles over 46 hours
  • Cycling: 40 outings for a total of 325 miles over 22 hours
Gear? Not a bad half year at all. No controversial products like the Thermajock, but plenty of good stuff nonetheless. I'm thinking of starting a Gear of the Year Award maybe, might be a fun way to finish off the year. Right now the front-runner is the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover, but who knows what is coming down the pike the rest of this year!
There were more, in the form of book and hydration reviews, and more usual blather about things that interest me.

Laima had a great start to her blog, Women's Endurance Gear - thanks to all of you who have followed her as well. She started running seriously again, has earned the nickname Super Sexy Mama (well-deserved), and is planning big things.

Apart from some ankle/heel issues in the Spring, I've had a good six months in 2011. More Midwest Multisport Life adventures to come the rest of the year. Thanks for tuning in, following, commenting, and I'll see you tomorrow, same channel, same place.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Barefoot Running Step By Step

Barefoot Running Step by Step: Barefoot Ken Bob, the Guru of Shoeless Running, Shares His Personal Technique for Running with More Speed, Less Impact, Fewer Injuries and More Fun

I was recently sent a review copy of Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton's Barefoot Running Step by Step, which was perfect timing as I embarked on the voyage of discovery into the world of barefoot running. If you remember, about a month ago I decided to make a Barefoot Running Attempt, spurred on by a basic 12-week plan in Michael Sandler's book Barefoot Running. Over the last 3 weeks it's been pretty hit or miss, as longtime readers know, but I'm still interested.

"BAREFOOT RUNNING STEP BY STEP (Fair Winds Press, May 2011) separates the facts from the hype covering the latest research and running techniques behind the barefoot running movement. Co-written by running journalist Roy Wallack this guide outlines proper techniques for running barefoot properly and incorporating the practice into your running regimen for a better stride, longer endurance, and fewer injuries.

Whether you’re a beginner, run barefoot occasionally, part-time, or full-time, you'll find methods for improving your form, staying injury-free, dramatically improving your speed and performance, and having more fun."

Overall, I'd say this is one of the best barefoot running books out there, especially for a beginner like myself. While there is a certain amount of zeal, it is tempered by both common sense and a desire for people to enter barefooting correctly, with full knowledge.

Barefoot Ken Bob is not a fan of minimalist shoes, as he feels that they are more likely to lead to injury, due to not being able to feel the surface beneath your foot. He also advocates starting barefoot running by finding the sharpest, most painful gravel you can, which makes you relax, bend your knees, and take things slowly. While I see the benefit of his suggestion, I started out on sidewalks, feeling that it would give me enough feedback to improve my barefoot form without being overly cushioned like grass or dirt, where one can get away with a sloppier form.

It's not just us humans that can benefit from barefooting it. Apparently the Houston police department has started removing the shoes from their horses, leading to healthier and happier horses. Kind of cool.

One thing I appreciated about this book was that, while he personally espouses 100% barefoot running for himself, Barefoot Ken bob understands that not everybody wants to commit so fully. While he suggests running barefoot as much as possible, he also acknowledges that even as little as 25% of the overall training will be enough to benefit from barefooting. Transferring the barefoot running form to running is possible, as long as you occasionally refresh and revisit your barefoot technique.

If you never read this book, I would suggest you remember two things about barefooting:
  1. Bend your knees. Then bend them some more.
  2. Lift your feet rather than pushing off. If you're not interested in barefooting, you can get the same feeling by running hill intervals. 
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is thinking of getting into any amount of barefooting. It is full of useful information, some great training tips, but most of all, it is not a one-size-fits-all bible, as Barefoot Ken Bob realizes that the approach to barefooting varies from runner to runner.

Do you have questions for Barefoot Ken Bob? Leave them in the comments, perhaps he'll stop back by and answer them for us!

Want to buy the book? Get it over at!

You can read more from Barefoot Ken Bob or befriend him on Facebook.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Dalyn Miller Public Relations LLC. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website or PR materials.

Would you like your product reviewed?
Contact me at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Most Iconic American Running Events: Your Nominations, Please!

Ed over at Endurance and Sustainability is requesting nominations for the most iconic running events in the United States. What does he mean by "iconic?"

  • Longevity: a race that's been around since before man walked on the moon, or at least since before "Chariots of Fire" was produced.
  • Popularity: hordes of people want to get into it, so it fills up months before the event.
  • Competitiveness: Elite runners are drawn to it. The front-runners in this event can outrun antelopes!
  • A uniquely spectacular or challenging course: awesome elevation profile, amazing views, or a million live spectators.
  • "Dream" quotient: It's an event you dream of going to someday--a race you want to be able to tell your grandkids you ran. If you're getting along in your years, like me, it's on your Bucket List.
His idea of iconic events would include ones such as the Penn Relays, Prefontaine Classic, Peachtree Road Race, Falmouth Road Race, Dipsea, Bay to Breakers, Gasparilla Classic, Cherry Blossom 10-mile, New York Marathon, Way too Cool 50k, Western States 100, and Badwater 136. Got something in mind? Head over to Endurance and Sustainability to nominate a race or races.

Monday, June 27, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 2 and Flashbrite

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 2: Growing New Skin

As per plan, the goal was:
  • Pace: Easy Jogging
  • Distance: a few hundred yards to one mile
  • Objective: Stimulate feet to grow new skin
Here's what actually happened:

Tuesday: Tempo Run - 4 mins BF, 22.5 mins tempo, 3.5 mins BF. First really hot and humid run, felt sluggish but good to sweat.

Thursday: Hills - No run, Little Worker (or Little A-Bomb, as Laima calls him) had his second eye surgery early so I opted not to stress about getting the run in.

Saturday: LSD - No run, Little Worker did not want to sleep, so I took him downstairs on the couch so Laima could have at least a bit of rest. Any day I would rather lay on the couch with him rather than head out for much of anything.

So, in terms of barefooting and in terms of training, the week was somewhat of a dud. However, I'm still walking my dog barefoot each morning, spending most of the day without shoes, and seeing my son's eyes straighten is relief beyond words. In a possibly related move, he is now walking pretty much everywhere - still not standing up directly to a walk, but he can pull himself up with no problem and off he goes. In other exciting news, Munchkin has now added leaping down the steps to his previous efforts of coffee table to couch.


Several weeks ago, I received some reflective stickers from a company called Flashbrite. Created by a mother concerned about her children's safety, the patches are made from 3MTM  ScotchliteTM  Reflective Material. This is the same material that professional fireman, police, and EMS utilize and can be seen from over 1,000 feet away.

Now as someone who runs in the dark quite often, it's really important that I be seen, lest harm befall me. To that end, I have some apparel that is reflective but honestly, since it's mostly jackets and so on, it's not as much use during these warmer months, so these reflective patches are really useful. I added a patch to my RoadID race hat, which is typically my go-to hat for many runs.

As you can see, the reflective capabilities are pretty amazing.

A bigger concern to me is cycling safety, as I'm actually in the road. Our village has maybe the worst pavement in the continental United States, so it's less often I brave the cracked, pothole-strewn roadways, but when I do, I try to make myself as visible as possible. I was excited to add a Flashbrite patch for added visibility.

The irony of a lightning bolt on my bike is not lost on me.

They also have options for pets!

Interested in winning your own Flashbrite patch? Take a look at their website, pick an option, and then, in a comment, let me know where you would place it. That's it.

You can also follow Flashbrite on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and follow their blog. You can buy Flashbrite stickers on Amazon as well.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Flashbrite. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed?
Contact me at

Friday, June 24, 2011

Unbreakable: The Western States 100

Tomorrow, June 25th, will be the running of the Western States 100 ultramarathon race.

From the WS100 website: "In 1955, the late Wendell T. Robie with a party of five horsemen rode the Western States Trail from Squaw Valley to Auburn, proving that horses could still cover 100 miles in one day. Through his energy and vision, he subsequently founded the Western States Trail Foundation and organized the annual Western States Trail Ride, also known as the Tevis Cup "100 Miles - One Day" Ride.

In 1974, with the inspiration and encouragement of Drucilla Barner, 1st woman to win the Tevis Cup and Secretary of the WSTF, Tevis veteran Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the course on foot. Twenty-three hours and forty-two minutes later Gordy arrived in Auburn, proving that a runner could indeed traverse the rugged 100 miles in one day.

The Western States Endurance Run is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world and certainly one of the most challenging.

The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trail, the Western States Endurance Run differs substantially from other organized runs. Adequate mental and physical preparation are of utmost importance to each runner, for the mountains, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.

The Run begins at 5:00 am on Saturday of the last weekend in June at the west end of Squaw Valley. Runners must reach the finish line no later than 11:00 am the following day in order to be eligible for an award.

Approximately 1,500 dedicated volunteers help out at each Western States Endurance Run. They are truly the life-blood of the Run and will do everything possible to make your day a success. Many spend more hours out on the trail than do the runners themselves."

The 2010 edition of the race was unprecedented, with 4 men running together for much of the race, unusual for a race of this duration. Happily, a film crew was on hand to document the race and interview participants:

"Unbreakable: The Western States 100 follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Killian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain." (from the WS100Film website)

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can you guess what I've been reading about lately? Yup, vineyards. Post-straight edge, I vowed not to become a drunken sot like so many frat brothers and hipsters I saw around the various campuses that I attended for my post-high school education.

Wine was the thinking man's drink, in my eyes (even Thunderbird, a fortified wine favored by the down and out, is based on classic wines such as port, sherry, marsala, and madeira). Unfortunately, I don't have the palate for true oenophilic snobbishness, but I do like to drink wine.

And, as so many other wine enthusiasts, I dream of owning my own vineyard. Tending the vines, the fall vendange followed by a winter of racking and bottling and then, a few years hence, opening the bottle and tasting the sweet nectar created with my own hands.

Of course the dream is Northern California, or the south of France, or Italy, Chile maybe, but the reality? Probably southwest Michigan, which has actually developed a nice little wine trail of its own. It's proximate to Chicago, so that works from a family perspective as well.

And just think about all the cool winemaking gear I'll have to get...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Expedition Impossible; The Mansuit

Expedition Impossible premieres tomorrow night - here is a preview clip of the first 14 minutes, enjoy!


In other news....The other day, the Metrosexual Triathlete, Patrick of The Road, told me it was time to put on my mansuit and sign up (with him) for the 2012 Oceanside 70.3. Instead I changed my blog to reflect happier, more springlike colors (I told him my mansuit was at the cleaners). What do you think? Anyways, $300 for the race, plus airfare, plus food and lodging, plus, plus, get the idea. I'd rather he compiled us a Dream Ironman and we completed it for free. Or maybe an ultra? We could run down to Oceanside and visit ChrisK, he could get us Starbucks - unless it's raining or does he run in the rain now?, I can't remember, he's moved over to the fluorescent lime green non-mansuit world as well. (By the way, Chris has asked that people no longer be nice to him, but actually tell it to him like he deserves. Sounds like fun for the whole family.) But...Patrick registered last night, so now it's on me. He even found me a 24 hour gym where I could swim close to home. All I need is a boatload of cash and we're good to go. Hmmm...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest Post: To Gear Or Not To Gear, That Is The Question

So does anyone else besides me see the dilemma on the horizon in the outdoor world today? OK, so it probably will not be the apocalypse and the Rapture did not come, but I do see two clashing ideas rising to the surface to battle each other like titans. To gear or not to gear, that is the question. We all like gear, who doesn’t, every time I get a new piece I sleep with it at night and dream about how cool I am, don’t pretend like you don't. Well, I know you either own a pair of “minimalist” five fingers or have thought about it within the last 30 days. With the rise of barefoot running and quick alpine style adventure the idea of doing more with less, like a caveman, is undoubtedly made its way to the forefront of the outdoor industry.

So which idea will win? Who will be the victor and claim the minds of the masses that head into the great outdoors every weekend? I see three groups of people; gear people, minimalist, and in-betweeners. Either you have one of everything, just the essentials, or a little of both. It also seems like minimalist and the gear people are both hardcore in their beliefs, with the rest of us left adrift in the middle, who go where the wind of advertising blows.

Bare Bones Movement -

You have to do it caveman style, that is the mantra, quick and fast is the clean way to do it. I think there is probably a hint of taking adventure to the next notch with this kind of mind set. From free climbing, alpine style assaults, barefoot running, and the whole less is more idea has come a new generation of athletes who want to experience nature in the most pure way possible. This new generation prides itself it not having a GPS watch, a huge backpack with everything it, or much of anything for that matter.

Does tackling a obstacle with less then your fellow man make you more a man than a mouse? Is barefoot running really more healthy, or just healthy for Five Finger’s wallet? You could make the argument that going bare bones will force you to be better at what you do, climbing, backpacking, or running. But, then again some of the best athletes in world are no minimalist either. Is there that much difference between a gear person and a bare bones worshiper? I’m not sure if owning 5 less pieces of gear or wearing five fingers either puts you over that invisible line or not. I would imagine bare bones style is more of a mindset then it is something you can quantify. But, ahhh new gear smells so nice!

Gear Junkies -

Don’t pretend you like you don’t want one. Even the guy running around in five fingers with no shirt on would take a second look at that Garmin GPS watch. It’s built into us all, those nice tents, sleeping bags, kayaks, stoves, you name it, it all looks so shiny and new. The right gear in the right place at the right time can extend our adventures and make us safe, safe to have fun and enjoy the environment more perfectly.

Besides, if no one ever bought anything from all these companies like Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Marmot and the like, how would they stay in business to give us all those products we love? Gear Junkies are needed aren't they? They keep the economy running and innovation happening. I mean we are all buying the our gear from the companies, just in different quantities and slightly different products.

Many times the great adventures that start us all out began with massive amounts of resources. Just take the first assaults on Everest for example, it took hundreds of people and supplies to open up that vision to the world and create that summit madness that blinds people today. What about people climbing with and without oxygen, is one more noble, or is that only seen in the heart of a person? Those who go before pave the way for those to come after. Those who come after to do it quicker and faster then the first, are they better then the first? Are they equal? Who has the more pure adventure, and does that even matter?

In the end I still have not decided which is more glorious, which is the better. Gear is great, it makes possible many things for an amateur adventurer that would not be possible otherwise. Bare bones style adventure brings with it a new sense of your surroundings and feelings of accomplishment, it hones your skill.

Which camp do you fall into? What are the reasons you pick the camp you are in? Does one camp offer more experience then the other? Will future generations lean towards one side more then the other?

Daniel's Bio: Cubicle warrior and weekend warrior, that is me. I am Midwest boy raised in the flatlands who grew up working and playing in the great outdoors...mostly because that is all you can do where I'm from. I'm a fan of anything outdoors, from fly fishing on the weekend to climbing Colorado's Capitol Peak. Doesn't matter if it is running, biking, or kayaking I like to do it all. I enjoy being a amateur of all them, I believe it makes life more interesting when you don't know what you are doing. I run a web site called, a free web site made by outdoor enthusiast, for outdoor and adventure enthusiast. I want everyone to be inspired and to inspire others with adventure stories from the mountain to the weekend road trip. Basically anyone can upload a story with photos about any activity they have done outdoors and share it with the world, the idea is to share the love of the outdoors and get people off that couch.

Monday, June 20, 2011

12 Weeks to Barefoot Running: Week 1: Growing New Skin

Week 1, The Plan:

Pace: Easy Jogging
Distance: a few hundred yards to one mile
Objective: Stimulate feet to grow new skin

So, due to some ankle and heel issues, I decided to take a few weeks off, let myself heal, and start this whole barefooting thing fresh. Towards the end of the 2 weeks I added a bit of spinning on the bike, but otherwise did nothing beyond start walking my dog barefoot.

Last week I began anew and, while I'm still not a huge fan, can see the value of adding this to one's training. Two big changes, after reading Barefoot Ken Bob's book, were adding an exaggerated knee bend and picking up the feet rather than pushing off.

  • Tuesday tempo run: 4 mins BF, 23 shod, 4 mins BF. First run in 2 weeks,felt good. 25% BF, wore calf sleeves, really worked on knee bend and picking feet up, not pushing off.
  • Thursday Hills: Possibly the first hill workout of the year, yes, in June. 6 mins BF, 21 mins hills and tempo, 3 mins BF.
  • Saturday LSD Run: 8 mins BF, 40 mins LSD, 2.5 mins BF; barefooting seemed to tenderize the foot a bit and made me cut the run just a bit short.
One other thing I picked up from Barefoot Ken Bob's book is that it appears, according to him, that 25% barefoot training gives you most if not all of the benefits. On this go-around I used that as a guide and tried to split it up between the warm-up and cool-down portions of the runs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad Life

Happy Father's Day to All you Mofos!
(And the Mothers who made us what we are.)

Special thanks to Laima,
Ultra Super Sexy Mama
to my 4 children!

(I know, get a room, right Patrick?)

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Donkey

(Rumored to be, but probably not, a photo of The Manly Runner)

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

  1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
  2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
  3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
  4. Give more.
  5. Expect less .
NOW ............

Enough of that crap... The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.


When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

(Thanks to my co-worker Jill for passing this along!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Expedition Impossible: The Kingdom of Morocco + Barefoot Running Book Free

The Premier of "Expedition Impossible: The Kingdom of Morocco" is next Thursday, June 23rd, on ABC, at 9E/8C. From producer Mark Burnett, 13 teams of three will do the extraordinary, solving problems and competing in the biggest adventure of their lives. The three-person teams will find themselves racing across vast deserts, over snow-capped mountains and through raging rivers in the beautifully exotic, fabled Kingdom of Morocco. It looks pretty cool and, since it's Thursday night, I might stay up past my bedtime to watch! (I'm either off or teleworking Fridays, so being a little tired isn't as big a deal.)


Jason Robillard is giving away his book, The Barefoot Running Book, in PDF version, for free, over at Head over and check it out - or, if you like hardcopies, head over to Amazon to buy the Barefoot Running Book.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hell on Two Wheels

Several weeks ago, I received an uncorrected galley of the book Hell On Two Wheels (2011, Chicago: Triumph Books), by Amy Snyder, to review here on the blog. The book describes an event that is almost unfathomable, the Race Across America - 3,000 miles, on bike, minimal sleep. While what these endurance athletes do seems superhuman, Amy takes great care to point out that, while "(u)ltra cyclists are tough as nails, but as human as can be." Could just anyone accomplish racing across America? Riding, maybe, racing, I'm doubtful.

Snyder follows the group of racers during the 2009 Race Across America, using the days of the race (8 for the victor!) to introduce the favorites, newbies, and veterans. The thing that I most enjoyed was how each rider's bio was compared and contrasted, along with information on their training, without focusing on a single athlete for overly long. She deftly wove together the preparation, suffering, and mental gymnastics that make up an endurance event such as this one.

I think this might be the best cycling book I've read, and among the top based on endurance events. Highly recommended as an insight into a world most don't even know exists.

Buy Hell On Two Wheels at Amazon or other fine booksellers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Product Plethora

Exciting stuff coming up at Midwest Multisport Life, with reviews of Rokit Fuel, Hydrapak, Ink N Burn for the whole family, Flashbrites, Treksta Kisatchie II sandals, outdoor wear from the Columbia spring line, book reviews (Hell on 2 Wheels, Barefoot Running Step by Step), and more, so much more. One of the coolest things is that Laima is right there with me, and will be reviewing a lot of the same products from a female perspective (something I've never been able to perfect). So keep an eye on Women's Endurance Gear for lots of new reviews, along with her posts on fascinating minutia - seriously, I learn a ton every week and I live with her.

I'm so happy to have all this stuff to think about, because yesterday's training may have been one of the most excruciating episodes I've lived through - tongue in cheek, I imagine it's like being waterboarded - the sensation that you're going to die but you actually don't. There was literally maybe an hour's worth of training stretched out over 8 hours, and we still have today's session to go.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If you give a fish a bicycle...

This is one of the funniest/saddest things I've seen lately. Enjoy the tongue in cheek endless crashing of the bike to the complete laziness of the police officer. I would have made him get out of the patrol car to give me a ticket, bet it would have ended up being just a warning.

I'll be in training for work today and tomorrow, so, unfortunately, it will be difficult to get a chance to read any of your blogs, let alone comment, but I will be back on Wednesday!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Day in the Life

(I discovered this post in my drafts folder, and decided to use it today, because what is a Friday without more personal tidbits about The Mighty Kovas? A pretty poor Friday, if you ask me. Nobody did, but there ya go.)

Sheep that I am, I will follow along and post a typical weekday in my life (on weekends, all bets are off). I first saw this when Beth wrote about A Day in the Life of Shut up and Run, but as with all bloggy things, who knows where it all started? Without further ado:

3:30-4:00 Wake up (depends on when my dog starts whining)

4:00-4:30 Walk dog

4:30-5:00/5:10 Short run or ride (Off Mondays, Run Tuesdays/Thursdays, bike Wednesdays/Fridays, long run Saturday, long ride Sunday)

5:00/5:10-6:20 Training log, shower, eat breakfast, drink two cups of coffee with plain soymilk (or chocolate if feeling saucy and my wife has bought some)

Downers Grove Train Station

6:35 On train to work

7:10 Walk into office, turn on computer, put lunch into fridge, get first cup of water (gotta stay hydrated!)

Hard at work

7:25 (No kidding) If computer has booted up past the multiple layers of security checks, log into email (work and Yahoo), and bring up Multisport Blogs, my blogroll - from now until 4:30, alternate work and blog reading (just kidding boss!)

8:00 First morning snack (usually fruit)

10:00 Second morning snack (usually nuts, if I remember them)

12:00 Eat lunch

2:00 Afternoon snack (usually fruit)

4:30 Head out the door to the train

Union Station

5:15 Home, usually starving, but first beset by 3 hugging dynamos and a frazzled (sometimes) wife - newborn pretends to ignore me, but I know he's excited because he starts crying

5:30 Open wine (or pour if already open) and sit down to eat

6:00 Read, hang out with family, watch TV, complete small projects (rarely), Thursdays is (theoretically) Family Game Night!

7:30 Get ready for next day: set up coffee, lay out workout clothing, choose work clothing (sometimes), brush, floss (on occasion), Listerine

8:00 (Usually) In bed, reading (7th) book to Munchkin, our 4 year old, who never wants to go to bed

I realize this seems very regimented, but I need the organizational structure to deal with what is usually a very chaotic life. With 4 kids, a dog, and a cat that likes only me (don't ask me why, I am relentlessly mean to her), plus playdates, soccer, school, and the myriad parenting things going on, it's nice to know something is planned. Does this typical day always happen, every Monday to Friday? Nope, but I do my best to make sure it happens as often as possible.


A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. - Steve Prefontaine

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Head-to-Toe Guide to Barefoot Running

No, that's not ChrisK getting his manly groove on, but Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton, barefoot running guru. This morning I finished reading his new book, Barefoot Running Step by Step (review forthcoming), which I will say is an interesting book, veering between missionary zeal, outright goofiness, and, surprisingly, common sense. It's a good read. One of the things Barefoot Ken Bob (BFKB) preaches/suggests is that barefoot running should begin with the head and work its way down the body, ending finally and appropriately in his case, with unshod feet. He is pretty adamant that barefooting is only appropriate for those who take the time to learn the technique. He suggests 9 steps:
  1. Head, neck and face kept upright, facing forward and not down, to maintain efficient balance, breathing and direction.
  2. Ditto for the torso (not leaning forward).
  3. Shoulders are kept relaxed so they can rotate and counterbalance hip rotation.
  4. Arms swing vertically and quickly to encourage fast leg cadence and reduce torso sway.
  5. Hips are relaxed and rotate to keep feet under center of balance.
  6. Knees are bent (more than you imagine) to make them into shock-absorbers.
  7. Calves should be relaxed - tense calves lead to injury.
  8. Feet are lifted - no pushing off. High cadence is key.
  9. Toes are curved up to promote a ball, toe, heel landing (or ball, heel, toe).
It seems like a lot of this would help all runners, barefoot or shod, so I'm interested in trying it out. I've taken the last 2 weeks off running, plan to start fresh on Tuesday, and I'll be adding BFKB's suggestions once I do. Updates weekly as I progress.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Brief History of US Cycling

Bicycling magazine had a short article on the history of US cycling, which I found kind of interesting. Some of the facts are downright amazing.
  • 1880 - Albert Pope helped start the League of American Wheelmen. By the end of the decade, his Columbia Bicycle Factory was purportedly producing a new bike every minute!
  • 1893 - The first world track cycling championships are held in Chicago, 10 years before the Tour de France and 3 years before Paris-Roubaix.
  • 1899 - Marshall "Major" Taylor becomes the first African-American world champion in any sport when he wins the 1-Mile championship.
  • 1969 - Audrey McElmury is the first rider from the United States to become the world road racing champion.
  • 1970's - hippies + Schwinn + singletrack = birth of mountain biking in Marin County, CA.
  • 1984 - Connie Carpenter-Phinney wins gold at the Olympic's first women's road race.
  • 1986 - Greg Lemond becomes the first American and first non-European cyclist to win the Tour de France.
  • 1996 - First bike-polo world championship is held in Richland, WA.
  • 1999 - Lance Armstrong wins the first of his record 7 Tour de France titles.
  • 2004 - The first of approximately 55 million LiveStrong bracelets are sold.
Really some cool history.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What if we treated all athletes... skateboarders?

Some funny Nike ads from YouTube, this one and the golf one are my favorites.

The metrosexual triathlete himself, Patrick of The Road, is asserting his maleness by hosting a giveaway for males (no Amanda, you don't count, envy notwithstanding). Head over there to revel in your manitude, brag about your strength, and share footwear choices. Fun for the whole family.

Some of you may not have noticed the giveaway banner at the top of the page, but Laima is giving away a Moving Comfort bra over at Women's Endurance Gear! If you're not a follower yet, you really should be.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chicago Running News

This weekend, Chicago running hit both ends of the spectrum, with a death and a new US record.

At the 13.1 Chicago race, high heat and humidity caused 11 runners to be hospitalized and one of those, Zachary Gregory, died. Even with the organizer's warning the runners to take it easy, eventually the race was cancelled and runners were asked to make their way back to the finish area.  For a race report, head over to the Running Green Girl's blog.

In happier news, Lukas Verzbicas, a national caliber runner and triathlete who attends Chicagoland's Sandburg High School, ran the 2-mile event at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. Staying with the lead pack for 3 laps, Verzbicas hung on to set a new high school record for 2 miles. After racing in the World Youth Triathlon championships this summer, he will then focus on running collegiately for the Ducks, so his Hayward Field triumph may be the first of many.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Aging Gracefully and Letting Go

(Photo by Mary Ellen Mark/Trunk Archive)

Recent studies are shattering the myth that life span is predetermined by genetics. The latest bombshell: your morning run could be the fountain of youth. Justin Nyberg had a good article in the June 2011 Outside Magazine about the correlation between running and living longer. Turns out that endurance training might help you live longer, not just more enjoyably now. In addition, to live longer, add these 3 promising habits:
  1. Cut your calories - pretty much every study shows that reducing your caloric intake slows the aging process, even in obese mice.
  2. Boost your antioxidants - not only do they protect you in the present, they may help you function better later in life.
  3. Stay positive - optimists outlive pessimists, simple as that.
What better way to stay positive than with scenic views? End your week right by enjoying some or all of the following video (it's a long one...). Even if you have no interest in skateboarding, watching Kyle Chin longboarding his way down this undisclosed location is sure to put you in a relaxed, happy frame of mind heading into the weekend.

Have a great weekend all!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Not Alone + Top 10

A few days ago, I received an email from an organization that is a partner charity for the July 4th Music City 10K/5K, Not Alone. I occasionally do some PR as a public service on this blog, if it's something I find interesting or it is something I can support. Not Alone is definitely something I can support.
While we don't have a history of belonging to the armed services in our family, and I personally abhor war, I try to be supportive of those that do serve our country. And, unfortunately, they often lack support when they return from service, though there are organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project, Not Alone, and others, who are working to alleviate some of the problems they face when they return from combat. Not Alone provides programs, resources and services to warriors and families impacted by combat stress and PTSD through a confidential and anonymous community.

If you'd like to support this organization by donating, you can visit their team fundraising site. You can also join the group on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

Out of the blue, a reader named Christa sent me a Top Ten list she had created:
  1. Vibram 5fings 
  2. Assos Lady shorts
  3. Cobb v-flow max saddle
  4. Look Keo peddles 
  5. Profile drink system
  6. Asics Hyperspeeds
  7. 2XU compression tights
  8. Profile aerobars
  9. Tilly hat
  10. Nike drifit cap
Nice list and it got me thinking about products that I always go to, whether it's running or cycling, hiking or camping. Below, in no particular order, are 10 products that I turn to regularly for superior performance:
  1. Sidi Zephyr Carbon cycling shoes
  2. The North Face Base Camp Duffel
  3. CEP Compression Sleeves
  4. GoLite Wildwood Trail Longsleeve Run Top
  5. Patagonia Baggie's shorts
  6. Patagonia Nano Puff pullover
  7. Gargoyles Striker performance sunglasses
  8. ISM Adamo Typhoon bike saddle
  9. RoadID bracelet and race cap
  10. Garmin 305
What's in Your Top 10?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Naturopathica Arnica Muscle Gel

One of the reasons I finally decided to try barefoot running is that, on and off, I've had some foot and ankle problems, so maybe, through some barefoot training, I could strengthen the muscles, fibers, tendons, ligaments, and o on. Well, since I've just started and haven't done much of it, the jury is out.

I've always been interested in holistic healing, trying to use natural remedies in lieu of pharmaceutically-created drugs. It's been hit or miss, so, while a fan, usually I'm pretty skeptical. On some other blogs, I've read about arnica, which can be used to soothe aches and pains. I was intrigued, so I started looking into it as a possible path of relief.

From Wikipedia: "Arnica (Ár-ni-ca) is a genus with about 30 perennial, herbaceous species, belonging to the sunflower family. The genus name Arnica may be derived from the Greek arna, "lamb", in reference to the soft, hairy leaves. Arnica is currently used in liniment and ointment preparations used for strains, sprains, and bruises. Commercial arnica preparations are frequently used by professional athletes. A systematic review of clinical trials showed that arnica was no more effective than a placebo. With respect to the range of homoeopathic Arnica creams available on the market, these are generally formulated using the mother tincture rather than a dilution, and they therefore do in fact contain measurable quantities of the medicinally active substance."

Quite serendipitously, Naturopathica contacted me to try out their Arnica Muscle Gel. I've been using it for several weeks on what feels like ankle tendonitis (admittedly not its intended use) and frankly, I'm amazed. It definitely has not healed the tendons, but it gives instantaneous relief, which is more than I expected. The sensation is like rubbing on a cool breeze, I kid you not, even with socks and long pants it felt like cold air was blowing across my ankle and heel. According to Naturopathica, the anti-inflammatory muscle and joint gel contains Arnica, Menthol and Magnesium to help reduce muscle pain and stiffness in overworked muscles. Featured ingredients include:
  • ARNICA: homeopathic treatment for muscles soreness, bruises and sprains;
  • WILLOW BARK EXTRACT: a natural source of Salicylic Acid and rich in tannins which helps to exfoliate skin and improve appearance;
  • MENTHOL: works to instantly cool inflammation; and
  • ZINC, COPPER and MAGNESIUM: multi-mineral cocktail supplies the necessary elements for healthy skin function.
So, skepticism aside, and possibly a placebo, but this gel really works. I'll keep this around for times when I just can't tough it out or when that coolness would give welcome relief. I would think this product would be the ideal thing to massage in after a more difficult workout or endurance event.

For more information on Naturopathica and their line of holistic health products, visit their website, find them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Naturopathica. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

Would you like your product reviewed?
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