Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shoe Review: Underarmour Speedform Gemini 2

Full disclosure: I received this shoe for free as part of my pacing assignment at the Fargo Half Marathon. I wouldn't have chosen this shoe on my own, but it does fall into the category of shoe that I would wear--a neutral, cushioned shoe.

I've now run over 150 miles in these shoes, so I've got a good idea of what I like and what I don't like.

What I like: The shoes have what appears to be a durable outsole. There is very little blown rubber on the outside of my Saucony Kinvara 6s and my Hoka Clifton 2s. I generally wear out the outsole on a shoe before the midsole, so the Speedform Gemini 2s look like they may last a bit longer.

What I don't like: The collar of the upper has a ridge that rubs my ankle just a bit. Honestly, I barely notice it anymore, and it's never given me blisters, so it's a pretty minor complaint. The other thing I don't like is that they're quite of bit heavier than my Kinvaras of my Hoka Cliftons.

Overall, these shoes are OK. I wouldn't use them for a race or for a faster workout due to their weight, but they seem like they're going to be a decent pair of shoes for easy and recovery runs.

Next up: Hoka Clifton 2s.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Running Shoe Rotation

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If you're currently in the market for running shoes, you might have some questions about where, how, and what to buy. Skip to the bullet points if you just want some practical tips for buying shoes.

Newer runners often ask themselves, "Do I really need an expensive pair of running shoes?" My answer: Sort of. Expensive is a relative term: look for last year's models, sales, and buy shoe that have worked for you in the past from an online retailer (especially around Christmas, when many shoes go on sale).

It's not cool, however, to spend time in a running store getting fitted and trying on shoes, only to leave the store and buy online.

Think of running shoes as an investment. I've run in Wal Mart shoes, and have also bought shoes simply because they were on sale. The result? A very sore foot after one run in the Wal Mart shoes, and feeling like I was wearing bricks when running in some clearance New Balance.

In high school and college, when I got a running shoe that worked well, it was mostly by luck. Since then, I've run in and tried on 100+ pairs of running shoes. Here's some advice for choosing the right shoe based on my observations and research:
  • The best running shoe for you is one that is comfortable.
  • Don't pick a shoe based on color.
  • A shoe that works for your buddy might not work for you. You have different running form, feet, weight, etc.
  • Wear the least amount of shoe you can get away with (read: Tread Lightly for an excellent primer on running shoes).
  • Jog around the store or use an in-store treadmill to try out a pair of shoes.
  • If you're stuck picking between two pairs of shoes, try one on each foot.
Another thing I'd recommend is having multiple pairs of running shoes, preferably different models. There are several benefits to having a variety of shoes: 

First, if you have a shoe that got wet due to rain or sweat, you have a dry pair of shoes ready to go the next day. Second, different shoes may be better for specific workouts (you may want a lighter shoe for a fast workout or more cushion for a recovery run). Thirdly, if a running shoe wears out, you have another pair to use until you purchase that next pair.

Most importantly, a recent study showed that runners who rotated multiple pairs of running shoes while training had a 39% lower incidence of injury as compared to runners who ran in the same shoe throughout the same time period. Read more at the following link: Study Backs Rotating Running Shoes to Lower Injury Risk.

For all my readers in the Twin Cities, here's a list of specialty running stores to buy your next pair of shoes:
  • The Running Room: Multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities. Good variety of running shoes, periodic sales and price matching (Disclaimer: I work here).
  • Fleet Feet Marathon Sports: Located near the chain of lakes and some of the best running in Minneapolis. Some college and professional athletes to help you out, and a treadmill to try out shoes in the store.
  • Runner's Gate: Periodic sales, a moderate selection of running shoes, and knowledgeable staff to get you in the right shoes.
  • Run MN: Formerly a second location of Run N Fun. A wide variety of shoes and a knowledgeable staff.
  • Run N Fun: Lots of clearance shoes, knowledgeable staff, and a wide variety of shoes and apparel.
There are others, but I've only been to the above stores. I've also heard good things about Mill City Running, and a quick Google search will turn up several more options.

For my Rochester readers, check out Terra Loco and The Running Room.

In my next few posts, I'll highlight some of the shoes in my running rotation, past and present.

Run well.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

September Challenge: Make or Break a Habit

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In my last post, I wrote about how it takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit. For a start, I challenged my readers to pick a habit to make or break for September. If you're looking for some motivation and strategies, here are a couple of articles to help you along:


Interestingly, 66 days from September 1 will be November 6, the day of my next marathon. The habit I decided to break was eating multiple bowls of cereal per day. I was going to do the challenge for September, but with the date falling on marathon Sunday, I might as well try to make it all the way to then.

What habit are you going to make or break? It's not too late to start. You can join until the end of September, or go all out and aim for 66 days (use this website if you don't want to count the days on your own). Some habits readers are trying are reducing sugar, exercising at least 20 minutes a day, and eating five fruits and vegetables a day.

Read more about habits in my last post, September Challenge and Give Away. If you are interested, leave a comment on this post, Facebook, or Twitter. Those participating are eligible to receive a sweet prize.

Run well.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Challenge and Give Away: Making or Breaking a Habit


It's time for a September challenge! Comment on Facebook, Twitter, or this post with your September goal, and be entered to win a prize (it'll be awesome).

Some of my readers worked toward reducing their sugar intake as part of the August Sugar Challenge. Reducing sugar intake for a month is an awesome goal, but unfortunately researchers say that 31 days is not long enough to make or break a habit.

In 2009, researchers at the UK Heath Behaviour Research Centre found that it takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit. This seems like a long time, but there are many practical things you can do.

I'll use reducing sugar intake as an example.
  • Remove triggers: 
    • For sugary foods and beverages, the most basic step you can take is to remove sweets from your house. Some practical ways to do this are:
      • Don't go to the grocery store hungry. Go after a meal, or eat a healthy snack with some protein and fat.
      • If you do want to have a few sweets in the house, put them out of sight.
  • Order water or unsweetened tea or coffee. Make it a habit. 
    • If you're used to the caffeine and you think unsweetened tea or coffee takes terrible, give it time. Try some different kinds of coffee or tea, and add milk or cream. 
  • Create a substitute:
    • Pick a healthy snack you like. 
      • Fruit, carrots, celery sticks, sliced green peppers--there's lots to choose from.
      • Keep these snacks where you can see them--on the counter, in the front of the refrigerator, etc.
      • Use some downtime to create individual portions so when you're busy you don't have to spend time preparing your snack. 
For my September challenge, I'm going to do is focus on my worst sugar habit--sweetened cereal. All the cereal I buy now has less than 9 grams of sugar per cup, but I often eat two or three bowls a day, and those bowls are usually more like one-and-a-half cups. So, I'm going to try to eat only one bowl of cereal per day. I'm also going to keep limiting my sweets, but instead of trying to abstain completely, I'm going to limit myself to 2-3 per week.

I'd love to here from those who are taking the challenge. What habit are you going to make or break? Eating five or more fruits and veggies a day? Working out 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes?

Comment on Facebook, Twitter, or below this post and be entered to win a sweet prize.

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