Saturday, October 29, 2016

Upcoming Winter Events

Here in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, there are all kinds of running events. While there's many more to choose from in the spring, summer, and fall, there are also races in the winter.

Below are some of my favorite winter runs in the Twin Cities. These races are listed in chronological order, not by favorites.

2014 as a pacer with Nate

Polar Dash (Half Marathon, 10k, 5k, 1600m)
January 1
 I served as a pacer twice for the half marathon and volunteered a couple times. Every year it was very cold (below zero wind chills, and there's something that makes you feel extra tough about running in that kind of weather). Team Ortho, the race management company, serves hot chocolate at the finish and the sweatshirt they give out is usually pretty cool. Here is my race report from 2014.

Meet of Miles (1 mile)
January 17
There's something exciting about racing a distance that makes your lungs want to explode.  Miles are run in heats based on goal finish time, so it's nice being in a race with runners your speed. I was able to run my indoor mile PR at the Meet of Miles, and it definitely helped having a group of runners right at my goal pace. Here's my race report from 2012.

Finishing the mile

Securian Winter Run (1/2  Marathon, 10k, 5k)
January 18
I've run this one three times. Once, it was a balmy 34 (that really is balmy for January in Minnesota), and the other two times it was very cold. The last time I did Securian, it was also icy. Are you sold on this one? It's actually a fun event. Securian opens up their building so you can wait for the start inside where it's warm and return after the finish. You also get a sweet mug.
Here are some race reports from my blog: 2014, 2012, 2010.

2012 with Nate

Valetines Day 5k

February 11
I'd ran this one a couple times, once all-out racing and once while recovering from a broken leg. This one is a fun event for sure, and there's a discount for couples. The year my wife and I ran this one together she wore an "it's complicated" sign while mine said, "taken." At least she didn't choose the "single" sign. The race also comes with some hot chocolate before and after and some sweet treats at the end. Here's my race report from 2012.

2012 with my wife, Laura

Thinking about training for one of these races and want a training plan? Check out my coaching options page for a training for as low as $10.

If you're looking for other winter events, check out Running in the USA Races or Eventbright for races in your area.

Run well.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Compression Gear

In a previous post, I discussed the possible benefits of kinesiology tape. Though kinesiology tape may be useful, evidence for its effectiveness is scant. Compression gear, on the other hand, does have more evidence of effectiveness.

Compression gear is also a more economical option than kinesiology tapes like KT Tape and Rocktape. While its more expensive upfront, compression gear is an investment you can use for years rather than sticking on tape that will be thrown away in a few days.

Compression socks have been prescribed by doctors for years to improve circulation, mainly to reduce ankle swelling, but they're also a useful tool for athletes.

Unfortunately, compression gear has not been shown to increase performance. It has, however, been shown to aid recovery and decrease perceived muscle soreness. Plus, compression gear looks cool.

I generally wear compression calf sleeves for hard workouts and races, then wear compression socks afterward. The compression gear seems to help decrease my muscle soreness in the following days.

While you can buy compression gear online, I'd recommend going to a specialty athletic store, getting measured and trying on the gear.

Here's some further reading on compression gear and kinesiology tape:

Compression Socks and Kinesio Tape
The Verdict Behind 5 Popular Running Tools

Run well.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Healthy Habits: Two Weeks to Go

Starting in September, some of my readers and I have been working on healthy habits: making a healthy habit or breaking an unhealthy one. My goal was to limit myself to one bowl of cereal per day and 2-3 sweets per week. It takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit, and we're down to the final two weeks.

I've missed my goal a few times--I had cereal at breakfast and again as an evening snack a few times. There were also a couple times I had probably had 4-5 sweets per week. I didn't keep track of those too well. For the next two weeks, I will limit myself to 2-3 sweets per week and one bowl of cereal for sure.

My readers have made some great healthy habits. I'd like to award a prize in the next two weeks for the "best" healthy habits, but I don't want to pick. So, above this post are the entries. Vote early and vote often for what you think are to best healthy habits. Note: Sometimes these polls don't work on the mobile site.

Run well!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kinesiology Tapes

<Image Credit>

My first experience with kinesiology tape occurred when I was dealing with some knee issues while training for the Rock 'n Roll St. Louis Marathon. I'd broken my leg eleven months before and began dealing with pain in that leg and knee about two weeks prior to the race.

I went to see a physical therapist, and she recommended KT Tape. After she taped me up, I did notice a bit of a difference, although it may have been a purely placebo effect.

Kinesiology tape is "usually made of tightly woven elasticated cotton (97%) and nylon (3%) fibres" (source: Running Physio). Manufacturers of the various types of kinesiology tape claim it can reduce pain, improve postural alignment, and increase athletic performance.

The evidence for these benefits is mixed. I've used various brands of KT Tape, Protec, and Rocktape. All these brands are readily available online and in many sporting goods and running stores. I've even purchased KT Tape at Target.

Now, I use compression socks and calf sleeves instead. First of all, compression socks and calf sleeves may be more expensive initially, but after you've worn them about 20 times, you've already come out ahead from one roll of kinesiology tape.

While I wouldn't recommend kinesiology tape due to the cost and the mixed research on its benefits, I will say that it did seem to help somewhat when I used it. I've been dealing with a bit of a calf strain lately, and I'm thinking of trying the kinesiology tape that I still have because it will stay on for a few days. Then, I don't have to wear compression socks around the house, etc.

Here's some further reading on kinesiology tape:

 Many researchers believe that kinesiology tape simply gives the athlete a placebo effect. However, a placebo effect is still an effect.

If anyone would care to comment on their experience with kinesiology tape, I'd love to hear about it.

Run well.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Making or Breaking a Habit

This past September I issued a challenge: Spend the month trying to make or break a habit. My goal was to break the habit of eating multiple bowls of cereal a day. Since a habit takes an average of 66 days to make or break, I'm down to three weeks of making or breaking this habit.

Click here for more information on healthy habits at Healthy Habit Lifestyle

How has it gone? I've definitely cheated a few days. However, for all of September I kept my goal. The past two weeks I've had cereal for breakfast a couple of those days and then another bowl in the evening.

Now, with three weeks left, I'm rededicating myself to eating one bowl of cereal a day.

I've only had three takers on making or breaking a habit, but they're good ones. The goals were to reduce sugar, pack healthy lunches, and limit cereal to two meals a week.

I'll be contacting one of the lucky winners soon, but there's still time to enter. Sixty-six days from the start of this challenge runs through November 5, so if you're interested in making a healthy habit or breaking an unhealthy one, comment on this post, Twitter, or Facebook and I'll throw you into the drawing.

Here's so more information on making or breaking habits:

September Challenge and Give Away
Make or Break a Habit

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara

I've run in Saucony Kinvaras from the Kinvara 1s to the Kinvara 6s. The Kinvara 7s are now out, and those will probably be my next pair of shoes for faster workouts and races.

I love the Kinvaras. Every pair has been a little different, but the basics of each version have been the same: a lightweight neutral shoe with a decent amount of cushioning and a light, breathable upper.

The downside of the Kinvara is its durability. Compared to other shoes, it's not going to last as long, as is the case with all lightweight running shoes.

Read more about running shoes here.

Shoe Review: Hoka Clifton 2

Since I found out about Hoka One One brand a couple years ago, I've been wanting to try them out. Their price is somewhat higher than shoes I've been running in, but after the Hoka Clifton 3s were released, I decided it was time to pull the trigger and a pair of Clifton 2s.

I'm glad a did. In the first 100+ miles of these shoes, I've been very impressed. Here's some pros and cons:

What I like: Though the sole of the Cliftons is incredibly thick, the feel very light. The rocker-shaped sole also feels like it aids in forward motion. The upper fits my foot shape well, and the cushioning feels perfect.

What I don't like: At first, the tongue seemed to press a bit against the top of my foot and front of my ankle. After a few runs, however, it doesn't seem to be a problem. The shoe's thick cushioning also took a bit to get used to--at first it felt a bit awkward, but now I'm used to it.

Overall, I really like the Hoka Clifton 2s. They fit well and they don't sacrifice weight for cushioning--for how thick the sole is, they're incredibly light.  I haven't used these for a speed workout as I prefer my Saucony Kinvaras, but they do work find for tempo and long runs.

Read a more in-depth review over at Runblogger.

Read more about running shoes here.

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