Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CW-X compression socks: a review and an attempt to explain compression clothing.

I recently purchased some CW-X compression socks. I like them. You should buy them. they work well, they feel nice, they have not ripped yet.

After that terrible review (seriously, great socks, work as told), I'm going to dive into compression clothing as a training modality.
Looking at a study by Kemmler, compression stockings (think socks), actually affect running anaerobic, aerobic, lactate threshold, BUT not VO2 max. Essentially, the let you suffer for a little bit longer on the run. They don't really help you raise your horse power, but they give you a little more gas. With a sprinting test on moderately in shape runners, athletes were able to pump for an extra 1.41 seconds. Doesn't sound like a lot, but that really adds up in the long term.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Where's the Respect

This last Sunday, many classy trail runners took off on the 2nd running of the Bobcat Trail Marathon. They tackled surprisingly ugly hills in south-east Ohio, ran in mud, maybe some snow, and fairly cold temps. They did it all with smiles and happiness... mostly... we all know how much "fun" marathons can be.

Heartbreakingly (real word??? meh...), many of the runners found out that some weiners decided it'd be hilarious to tamper with the marathon signage. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

I feel for these runners. It's gut wrenching hard enough to do a marathon of this caliber, and to find out that you were shorted by 2 miles has to rock you in the family jewels. So be courteous out there. Don't tamper with signage.... then again if you're reading this blog post you probably wouldn't do this crap anyways.

Keep it classy, people.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Black Diamond Windweight Gloves Review

I"ll air my grievances first. The seams inside the gloves are a little annoying and I don't like how the fleece attracts hair. Now that we have the dirty business ironed out, I can extol the good graces of the Black Diamond Windweight Gloves.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Operation Elderly 20's: The First Legit

I have heard that doctors make horrible patients. I assume this is true. I pretty much assume that anything I do is truth, so let's run with that. Thus, I rode my bike before my Nov. 1st doctors appointment. It was only 12 miles, but man did it feel good.

I feel like now is a good time to  talk about easing yourself in to working out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What the viewers think

I'm more just curious to see what you think of the blog, as a reader, what do you like, hate, and why did you stop by?
drop a comment below.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

quick perspective on barefoot fury

A lot of people have a very diverse outlook on barefoot running. I'm not providing my own opinion at this point, but rather one random musing. Really, there have been very, very few legitimate scientific, peer reviewed studies on this particular topic, so it'd be very, very unprofessional to give expert opinion at this point. I'll probably end up giving it any at some point.

The calcaneus (heel bone) has a special are called the neutral triangle. It's were the trabeculae (bone scaffold) meet at a particular angle such that they transfer forces beautifully. From the heel forward. Further more, equinus, or the condition of walking on your tip toes all the time, leads to a whole cohort of problems later in life. It's something to consider, by no means definitive.

I do, however, fully agree with the ideas of Cody Lundin. He advocates a barefoot approach to survival and hiking in general. I understand where he's coming from, by going barefoot he's forced to go slow. I like the idea. I personally wouldn't like to walk through the jungle, leishmaniasis and all, but I understand it.
Check him out here

The Dirty Breakfast

And now I'm breaking into backcountry/camping recipe topics!

Dirty and super easy, this recipe is about as user easy as possible.

1. buy bob evans sausage and gravy mix
2. buy premade biscuits
3. heat the mix
4. crumble in biscuits
5. eat

too easy... kinda sad... and really not great for backpacking. So...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marmot Summit Hat. You will be sorely missed...

 Mrs. J steals the Marmot Summit Hat, Denali National Park
Last winter I lost a dear friend, my Marmot Summit Hat. He fought through the washer valiantly, but somehow managed to sneak into the dryer. I can only imagine the pain of being dried as a wool hat, but I gather that it can't feel good. He currently resides in box somewhere, waiting to be worn by my son when he eventually grows a head somewhere between the size of a toddler and a 12 year old.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flector! Broken Ribs! Torn Cartiladge! Days Without Pain!

By no means is this a medical diagnosis or a promotion of a product. I'm not even sure if I can legally do this. If I can't please tell me so and perhaps do it in a way where I don't go to jail. I'm not paid to do this, I have no affiliation with whatever pharmaceutical company makes Flector patches, but whatever.
photo courtesy of flectorpatch.com

Friday, October 8, 2010

Vest help

I'm looking for some advice on a trail running vest for this coming winter season. To give you an idea, my body runs like an absurd furnace when I'm actually moving, but as soon as I stop, things get pretty chilly. It makes for some crazy layering questions winter hiking, but things are pretty straight forward running. Typically I rock shorts, longer wool socks, gore-tex shoes, a tech t, then a long sleeve tech t. This works great until wind or precipitation hit. I then go to either my Marmot Gravity softshell or my Precip. These both tend to have me overheated in about... 10 minutes of running, even with pit zips wide open. I also run in light gloves, and hardly ever a hat. This is for long runs too, looking at 12-16 miles plus.

I'm looking at the Mountain Hardwear Transition Vest, but I'm curious to hear other input. I'm not really looking for a windshirt, like the Marmot DriClime, but am open to suggestions. I'm also open to free stuff. Free stuff which I will review and extol it's good graces. This statement will probably never reach the desks of people who could potentially make that happen, but none the less, as a broke medical student with a baby on the way, free stuff is the bestest!

Thoughts on a vest for running and mountain biking? Needs to be highly visible, breathable, windproof, and DWR'd.

Hit me with some suggestions!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Marmot Exum. Only One Complaint.

I've been putting off writing this review for a while. Why? You know when you love something so much that your heart hurts to say something bad about it, especially in public? It's just hard to say something mean about anything you love so much. I'll get back to that point after I extol all of the Exum's good graces.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

They're Back!

Many trail runners probably already know this. Black bears are back in North East Ohio. Personally, I've seen a lot of evidence of it, from poo to paw prints. Never a direct sighting, but sometimes you just know something deep in your bones. This I know.


Anyways, what's a trail runner to do if they happen to round a corner and make friendly with a black bear?

1. These aren't the bears of lore. These bears are affectionately known as Pennsylvania Shy one state to the east. Typically, you won't have a problem. In fact, you're incredibly lucky if you do actually see one.

2. As soon as you've made contact, make yourself as big as possible. Do nothing that seems threatening, like yelling and making eye contact. Also, don't make yourself look like food. Don't cower, don't bend over, and don't run away.

3. Back away slowly, talking, looking big, and don't make eye contact. 99% of the time this works.

3. Black bear are different than grizzly. If they do charge, most likely you're food. Run. Drop your pack as a sacrifice. Assuming all this doesn't work so well, fight like hell. I can't describe anything better than that. You're goal at this point is to injure the bear, this way you won't die.

4. Most of charges are because of people splitting a mom from cubs. Don't do this.

Seriously, your chances of dealing with a bear are significantly less than dealing with dogs. I've had to ward off dog attacks thrice on the trails, never dealt with a bear. Enjoy your run!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Operation Elderly 20's: workout 1

This is huge. 5 days after back surgery, I did my first major workout to get back to ultramarathon shape. I'm talking huge people!

I spun for 5 minutes.

Heck ya I did! I changed the skewer on my bike, pulled out the trainer, and set it the bike in all by myself. Bam! 5 minutes of spinning later and I was starting to get sore, but it felt so good to get moving. This got me thinking, what workout can you do in 5 minutes that will absolutely sap you and get you in ultra-shape?

The up down. Burpee. Whatever. Many ways to do it, but here's a video of the basics.

Another class is the football up down.
1. drive your feet! (chop your feet, run in place, whatever)
2. drop to your chest, in the low part of the pushup position
3. pop back up to your feet.
4. repeat until you hate yourself

Friday, September 24, 2010

Operation Elderly 20's

It's been 3 days since surgery. All I can think about is running. And skiing... climbing too... oh mountain biking... even weightlifting. Basically, I really, really want to get back to working out, and working out at the upper echelon that I've been used to. I've been working out of 9 straight years, with very little time off, and I can say that the last 2 weeks of forced no working out has been amazingly aggravating/satisfying.

My groin hasn't hurt in months. My knees are lively. My abs have not hurt for 4 days straight (which is amazing when they've been actively contracting for several months to hold your back in position as not to further damage the disc). Heck, I don't even have any big calluses or blisters on my feet!

It's killing me. My body feels great, my mind feels terrible. I just want to get out on the trails, feel lactic acid rip through my muscles, and then I want to chug victory chocolate milk like there's no tomorrow. Not going to happen though. Another 12 days until I may be able to get in the pool... feels long but I know it's not that bad really.

So I'm starting Operation Elderly 20's. My goal is to get my body back into big mountain shape by this coming March 22. That's the goal. We'll see what happens though!

I'll be putting every single major workout under this headline. I'm not gonna put stuff like "today I ran 4 miles". It's going to be big days, like bricks, huge runs, and... God willing... a big first descent skiing with my little brother. The plan has been laid, now we'll see how fast we can get back to xterra and ultra shape.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Malachi 3:10. Shut up, brain.

Many of you have read and commented to Mrs. J and I on God's faithfulness through my back surgery and the obvious miracles that God did for us. I'm absolutely ashamed to tell you that the next day, feeling absolutely amazing, my first thought and emotion when confronted with what could be an absolute medical insurance fiasco, was fear and extreme stress.

Why so embarrassing? Well, God did just save my physical body from what could have ultimately amounted to paralysis and/or death, but when it came to money, I freaked out. It's not that I didn't worry quite a bit about the back, but after just having lived through a literal miracle, I didn't just instantly trust that God would take care of our current situation. That's embarrassing.

To sum it up, it looks as if our insurance may have some incredibly awkward clause and stance on spinal injuries, and we're desperately hoping that this doesn't apply to what was a medical emergency surgery. Then we got a call from our ob gyn's office that our med insurance has some ridiculously low maternity coverage (put it this way, the ideal delivery would still leave us 18,000 uncovered). I'm finding the maternity rider hilarious, because we've actually paid more cash for the rider than the insurance company will be paying out for coverage. I won't pretend to love Obama-care, but I got a quick slap in the face on how twisted we've allowed medical insurance to become. This hits straight at home, you know, since I'm a year out from being a doctor myself. This definitely makes me much more sympathetic to my future patients.

So where does Malachi 3:10 come in? God blatantly says test me! I'm not going to go out and tell the reader our tithe and giving, I don't think that's appropriate, yet let it be known that we now know that God will be faithful. He's a gracious God. I can't wait to share with you how God works in the future months.

I can't wait to put up pics of my almost born son, too. God will be faithful. He's going to take care. The storehouses of heaven will be opened up.

After all, saving my life is much more impressive than paying some medical bills. And we've already seen God save my life just this past Tuesday.

Here we go!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wow. bad injury. surgery. God's MIRACLES!

I've never taken this blog to my faith side of life. I didn't plan on ever doing that, as this thing is supposed to focus on work outs, gear reviews, and outdoor sport tips and tricks. I can't comfortably ignore the miracles of healing that God has been doing the past several weeks, specifically during surgery yesterday.

Let's get up to speed. For 6 months I've had back problems. I ignored them (ski season), I put ice on it (running season), and lied to myself (climbing season) that the pain wasn't that bad. Things finally went crashing down (wakeboarding) and I knew that the injury went from ignorable to horrible. Running became miserable, sitting sucked, and all I could do was swim.

Over Labor Day weekend, Mrs. J and I went to visit my parents. Sunday evening I woke up to pee and knew instantly that the insane pain down my left leg was sciatica (I'll write up a post about the symptoms later). I woke up Monday morning to the most pain perhaps in my life... not a small feet (haha, podiatry joke), as I've broken something like 25 bones. Mrs. J took me to the ER that night, we got the shots in the butt, and then got an apt with Dr. Brad Hillard of University Hospitals (amazing doc!). Mrs J boss, Dr. Noel Aboud of Solon Spine and Wellness, sent us out to get an MRI, just to expedite things. Dr. Aboud called us Wednesday morning, telling us that'd I'd be needing back surgery. This was echoed to us by Dr. Hillard, who made sure we would be seen by one of North East Ohio's best spinal surgeons.

I went to see Dr. Hart of University Hospitals, one of the Cleve's best neurosurgeons, who was able to squeeze us in super early. At this point I knew I had a large fragment of my disc material that had squeezed out of the disc space to sit on my nerve. I'll explain all the science later. I heard that this was a pretty big fragment, which was reaffirmed by Dr. Hart when he said, "yah, so I hear that the Grand Canyon is a large hole in the ground".

To put things bluntly, I did this back injury big! The fragment measured 12mm on the MRI and was one of the biggest Dr. Hart has seen in 15 years. AWESOME! Bad news though. Dr. Hart was fairly certain that the fragment had popped into the thecal sack, part of the dura, and if it had, I was looking at about a week in the hospital with other surgeries to come. Oh yah, and if I got a bacterial or viral infection in the thecal sack, most likely it would go to my brain. That kills people.

I'm no stranger to almost dieing. I've looked down chutes while skiing that terrified me to no end. I've taken falls climbing where I probably should have died (also, didn't get injured... sooo... cool). This is the first time I've legitimately been scared while looking at the valley of the shadow of death. I have a wife. I have a little boy growing in the belly oven. That's responsibility! That's dependence! That's need! That's terrifying!

We set surgery for Tuesday, Sept 21st. Friends, family, pastors began to pray for us. We began to pray so intensively that sometimes I would wind up laying on the floor in tears, with pain and yearning. I can't quite share all the ways that God showed his face, but I will share my most obvious pre-surgery confirmation that all will be ok.

In my special prayer spot, the same one where God told me that all would be fine for med school boards, I took my shoes off out of reference for what had become a special place to me. After prayer, reading, and just talking to the Lord, I was clearly told to not turn around, to only focus forward. I was also told to expect something special. Pomegranate. That seems so trivial, but they're out of season, they're my favorite food, they're symbols of health, and God often demonstrates His glory by food. The most obvious example that comes to mind is manna delivered to the Isrealites during the exodus. I left and went to the grocery store to grab eggs and onions for my wife, and went to another grocery store than normal (the normal one was crazy busy). As I walked in and headed towards the onions... there they were. First of the year, not even fully ripe. Sitting off to the side, not in front, and only about 10 of them or so... were pomegranates. I knew right away that God was in control, that all was fine, and that'd I'd be holding my newborn son this December! I started to tear up in the middle of the grocery store, holding a pair of pomegranates. I bet that was hilarious to someone.

The next day was surgery day. Actually, that was yesterday, so you can probably guess right now that things went so well. They did. They went miraculously!
I was told that I'd be in surgery for at least 2 hours, probably more to prepare the thecal sack and keep me from you know... kicking the bucket. I was wheeled into surgery at 10:04.

At 11:05 Dr. Hart came out to the waiting room to talk to Mrs. J and my mom. You can imagine how terrified Mrs. J was. This was far too fast... something wrong had to happen... what horrible medical problem would we be facing.

Dr. Hart simply smiled. He said that the fragment was even bigger than they thought. He cut a little bit of it out and removed a very small bit of it. He went back in to continue removing piece by piece, but the 2 inch fragment decided to just come out in one piece, which is amazing. Dr. Hart spent a good bit of time searching for a thecal tear, tried several techniques to force cerebral spinal fluid to leak and show where the tear was... but none could be found.

A surgery that should have taken hours to finish took about 30 minutes of actual surgery, without prep and closure. That is a miracle. God is so good. I can't tell you how lucky I am. I should be at the hospital laying horizontal for several days but I'm at home, in minimal pain, able to walk, and I ate pizza last night! PIZZA!!!

I can't tell you how good God has been in the last several weeks without sitting down and really explaining the gravity of the situation. All I can say is that God gave me a miracle. I can't contain my joy and am more than wiling to talk to anyone about Jesus, about how He worked in my life, and how he can work in yours.

I'll be writing my journey back to ultra-marathon shape, back to xterra shape, and back to climbing Rainier (planned for next year, God wiling). I can't wait to share with you my journey as a father, also.

I'm just happy to be at home, happy to be alive, and happy that I serve a God who does answer prayer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things I Forgot to Workout 4: Sitting

For those of you following along, I managed to start my back injury by my crappy posture while studying for hours upon hours a day. Here's what I should have done...

1. stop slouching. while I wrote that I had to correct myself
2. Don't sit without your lumbar region planted to the back of the chair... SI joints don't like the extra pressure from you sitting your butt on the front edge and leaning back
3. Try doing a few superman moves per day. Lay on your belly, lift up both your legs and feet. Yell "To infinity and beyond!". Change the name of the exercise to "The Buzz Lightyear".

Not much else right now. I'm just biding my time until the back doesn't hurt. Still haven't hit the trails for a good run, and it's been almost to weeks. That breaks my heart a bit.

On the positive note, XTERRA Triathlons are a go for next year. I'm incredibly excited.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Injury makes me reconsider

This low back/SI thing is getting fairly old. It's easily been a full month since the initial hard injury (wakeboarding) and then little over a week after the set back injury (road run). As such, I'm reconsidering some race commitments.

I had originally planned to return to the Bobcat Trail Marathon, my wife and my own first trail marathon, and actually had a fairly good plan on how to perform much, much better than my quad cramping crap run. I've now lost at least 2 months worth of time to injuries that have absolutely nothing to do with skiing (ribs = skiing, back = wakeboarding). I'm noticing a trend. Either my crashes have become that much more spectacular, I'm just taxing my body too much, or I'm just getting old and weak. I would like to think it's mostly spectacular crashes, but I'm inclined to agree with the last two. It's been... about 9 years since I've taken a month off from working hard toward goal X, Y, or Z. I think I've been digging and have finally found water, which is unfortunate because I'm not that amazing at swimming.

It looks like the Bobcat may not happen. My last long run was 17 miles. My plan was to end up doing at least a 30 before the race. Not going to happen, when there's only 11 weeks until the race. Furthermore, it's about 2-3 months out until skiing. I would drop running in a heart beat if you told me I had to choose b/w running and skiing.

So... thoughts?
Should I push through and try to do the Bobcat?
What about the 50k this January?
How about XTERRA Tri's next year?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Injury stupid face stupid.

I've become increasingly aggrevated by non-running induced injuries. As a medical student, I do a lot of sitting. This sitting has lead to Sacro-Illiac Joint Dysfunction. Fancy way to say that my butt and lower back hurt preeeetty badly. I managed to handle the problem through chiropractic care (HUUUUGE shout out to Solon Spine and Wellness) I then went wakeboarding and trashed the back all over again. Turns out a lot of twisting, jumping, and crashing head over heels is not conducive to a healing joint. Suprise.

The SI joint has been rearing it's ugly head something terrible recently. Dr. Hagar was able to work quite a bit of it out, but still, it's not super fun to sit. It's also slightly miserable when I start running. Generally the back wears into it, and the pain starts to dissipate. That's not helping me get up at 5am to run. Not a bit. In fact not at all.

So I'm looking for motivation. Spending more time in the pool, good time on the bike, and faster runs. Anyone have any thoughts? Anyone have any advice?

How do you stay motivated? I try to read running articles (check out Nick Billocks blog for a great source of pump up). It typically works, but that's not what I love to do at 5am.

I'm learning a lot about how to push through the downer feeling of injury. I think this is just as important to the athlete as any hard workout. The mental aspect of sport is HUGE! I use visual techniques to push myself through hard running sections, bad bouldering problems, dangerous climbs, and insane skiing. Try it out!

Spend 2 minutes, calming down, prepping yourself for the mental stress of a very difficult activity. Envision yourself pushing through the crux segments of whatever activity. For instance, I spent a long time studying and walking through the crux of a 10 foot huck onto ice. That time was critically important to avoiding injury. It really helped to have mentally accepted my success, and all I had to do was open the throttle.

I'm trying the mental game through this SI injury. I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Things I forgot to workout 3: Climbing

Climbing involves a lot of precise foot placements, awkward gripping positions, and a myriad of other things that the body doesn't like (for instance taking a 30 foot whipper). Often times, especially when climbing an overhanging roof, a climber has to use their toes to dig into climbing holds to keep the body from taking said whipper. The core muscle play a really important part of keeping the hips near the wall, but everyone knows they need to be doing more situps and less sitting. How about the muscles inside the foot? They're pretty important for sticking to that hold, so why do we ignore them?

The "intrinsic" muscles of the foot are responsible for modifying how your big calf muscles pull and how your toes flex and extend. They're pretty easy to work on, and here's how:
1. throw a dish towel on the floor.
2. with just your toes, pull the towel towards you. Don't move your heel one spot on the ground, we're just trying to pull the towel and ball it up.
3. you can even throw some weight on top of the towel.

That's it. Simple, easy, and it'll help the climber more adequately meet the wall with their feet.

Run to THIS SITE if you really need a good visual. Or if you have plantar fasc.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How _____ saved my running "career".

How ______ saved my running "career" is going to be another one of those somewhat frequent posts that shows up on two feet. Basically you're going to get some "super awesome" tips about how you can learn from my experiences to be a better runner.

Crampons are perhaps the best way to truly learn how to run downhill. Not at the same time, but with the same technique. When walking downhill on glacier ice, you plantarflex (or push your foot down) to meet the degree of decline of the ice. You're trying to fully meet the ground, with your full foot, rather than just slapping your heel on ice. The same thing applies super awesomely to trail running on the downhill. You naturally put maximum tread on ground, giving maximum friction. At the same time, by biomechanics, you're forced to flex at the knee. This removes a ton of vertical force, as the body is able to more flexibly meet the shock of slamming your fat butt (mine at least) down some ridiculous hill in the middle of nowhere.

So Crampons. Super Awesome.

Today was brought to you by the phrase "super awesome". If I ever use this in a blog post again, all of my loyal fans will be getting all of Oprah's favorite things (I learned that she does that while watching 30 rock).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To plantarflex? To dorsiflex?

Ankle sprains are a prevalent among anyone spending time on not-asphalt. Not-asphalt is a very special surface, not seen a whole lot these days. It primarily consists of dirt, sticks, rocks, and (unfortunately) beer bottles. Not-asphalt presents a very special problem to the average joe... it's not flat. This lack of flatness present the not-asphalt user with a special challenge, namely how to not "explode" their ankles.

Plantarflexion and Dorsiflexion are two special motions that the ankle joint it capable of. Basically, plantarflexion is ankle towards the ground, dorsiflexion is ankle towards the ski. Up vs down. Terra firma vs the realm of stinging insects. Just what position should your ankle be when it makes contact with not-asphalt?

To make this simple as possible, we'll present a simple scenario. While trail running, our extremely talented runner is presented with a particular technical section of trail, littered with rocks the size of lunch boxes. Our runner is forced into a situation where he or she knows that their next step must be actually onto a rock. The rock is sloped on the near and front side, allowing our runner the option to meet the rock in either a dorsiflexed or plantarflexed position. What to do?

Most go for the plantarflexed position. It presents an easier way to push off, doesn't mess up stride that much, and puts them into an incredibly dangerous scenario, and let's be honest... that's more fun.

Plantarflexion at the ankle actually puts the talus and tibial plafond/fibular distal process (really fancy words for "ankle") into a position of less stability. The talus is tapered in the back, so when it's plantarflexed the ankle has a few millimeters more to roll in. That's not good. This causes ankle injuries.

I believe that it is best to hit the rock with the foot in a dorsiflexed, up, position. This gives the ankle more stability, which greatly decreases the chance of rolling the ankle. It's not practical in all situations, but it really does help the runner who is plagued with ankle injuries. The running stride feels a little out of place, and you have to make sure you make contact with the knee partially flexed (should be anyways), but the safety factor makes it completely worth it.

Go run.

Things I forgot to workout 2: Skiing

Fibular muscle dislocation is the awkwardly specific injury to skiers. Basically your fibularis brevis and longus explode out of their place, behind your outside ankle. It typically happens to skiers when the land with a lot of force, which causes them to contract to protect the ankle. It doesn't work. They explode out of their place. It's pretty sad really.

So how can you help avoid this? You know I'm going to give you ways to workout the fibular muscles, so let's get to it.

1. Get up on your toes! Walk around like this for a little while. It'll burn, that's good.
2. Jump up with your right leg and then land on your left foot. Alternate legs, try it on the same leg, try it with your head. Enjoy.
3. Put a weight or other heavy object on the outside of your foot. With just your foot, try to push the weight along the floor. The point is to only use your fibular muscles. Try not to use your legs.

So... don't explode your fibular muscles. Good luck!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Things I forgot to work out. Trail Running edition 1.

This is going to be a fairly common post topic, as a lot of people manage to forget a lot of different muscles that are very specific to trail running, hiking, skiing, whatever, but are often completely overlooked.

I'll be focusing in on a couple of overlooked muscles or muscle groups that are fairly specific to trail running. Runners are notorious for having awesome quadriceps (thigh muscles), sculpted calves, and that's about all. In other words, most runners aren't well balanced. This is often not the case with trail runners, who typically have a more diverse hobby set. This typically means that they're upper body and core muscles are better off, yet I fully believe that most runners, even trail runners don't really do any work for the following muscles.

1. The neck. Tell me, when's the last time you did any neck exercises against resistance? I haven't for 6 years, since college football. Exercises can be found HERE. I personally am a big fan of applied resistance, but rather using a towel (grab it with both hands, one in either corner) to apply resistance. Runners, I'm looking toward the back of the neck muscles. We spend a lot of time looking down, not up. That means our neck muscles up in the front are great... but the ones in back... nottttt so good. Try the exercises, you should start to notice less cramping in the neck after a month or so.

2. Do you even know what the hamstrings are? Sure you use them a lot when you go downhill, but when's the last time you got intimate with them? When's the last time you made them scream with workout burn? Also, can you even touch your toes?

The hamstrings are the muscles in the back of the thigh, just below the butt. If you want the names, insertions, origins, innervations, arterial supply, action, and contribution to gait, I can tell you more than you wanted to know. You don't want to know these things. You want to know how to not get hurt when running.

Try this. Lay down on the ground, with a bench or chair 2 or 3 feet in front of you. Put your legs up on the chair. Raise your butt off the ground, hold for a few seconds, slowly lower the butt back down to the ground. Now try it with one leg. Cry moderately. Repeat.

Another great way to save the hams? Dribble a soccer ball around. A lot of weird positions, a lot of strange kicking. It works.

The hamstrings are going to keep you safe as you go downhill. The neck keeps your head attached to the body. These are both good things. Don't forget to work on them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

guard those suckers.

It is well known that cotton is not a suitable material for activities that make you sweat like crazy. It stops breathing when saturated, and in cold weather, lacks insulating properties when wet. As socks, cotton will cause horrific blisters when it gets wet. Yet, I propose another consequence that is significantly more traumatic to the runner or athlete... chafing.

Chafing is caused by extensive irritation to the skin, causing moderate damage to surface epithelium. In other words... it hurts. Cotton chafes when wet. So do open weave synthetics... so play the game as you wish.

Chafed nipples though, that's a whole new ball game. What to do? You can do the same thing that Andy of the Office does and slap some bandaids on them... or you could go high class, high tech and pop on some nip guards!

I admit to using them. I admit to loving them. So deal with it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The folly of first aid pack for the trail runner

Many trail runners will tell you to run with a first aid kit. I'm hear to say that you are wasting your time. Wasting precious time "dressing" you gashed knee with the cotton webril you carried in, when you really should have taken off your t-shirt (a dirtier but much more resilient option) and then been on your cell phone calling for help. Now this no carry isn't a definitive mandate by any means, yet in most situations you are wasting your time carrying in a first aid pack you probably have never opened, never took stock of what's inside, and more or less have no idea what to do with the junk inside anyways.

This command does not apply to races where a first aid kit is a mandatory part of the running kit. These races are typically many day affairs that are minimally aided and happen to be pretty much directed toward the running bad mo's. See the Alaska Iditarod trail race, and not the one with the dogs.

So what's a person to do if they listened to my advice and something does go wrong?
1. Get yourself into a safe position. If you just fell down a cliff and caught yourself on a branch Cliffhanger style, it's not in your best interest to try to mod a tourniquet out of your sock. Get yourself into a safe spot first.
2. Take a deep breath and access the situation.
3. Triage yourself. Control the blood, check for broken bones, be extremely cautious with any neck or head trauma.
4. Call for help. I ALWAYS carry a cell phone with me on trail runs. It's also not a bad idea to carry a whistle. Not a bad idea. And for those western states super adventurous runners, perhaps you can carry a SPOT? Anyone have any thoughts on that?
5. Start to admin first aid with what you have. Let's be honest, neosporin isn't going to take care of the C. Perfringens infection you got from crushing you knee cap, so try just using the water you most likely carried for hydration. Do be careful though, this may be you only water source if your broken in the middle of nowhere. Make wise decisions.
6. Apply good pressure to the wound with any cloth you have convenient. I used my shorts once to stop a massive bleed from a really badly broken nose... You should have something you can use.
7. Don't take any meds unless told to by someone with doctor in front of their name. It's just safer that way.
8. Only make get moving if you are told to by emergency personnel or if you know you are more than screwed.
9. Oh yah, if something is broken, try to splint it with whatever you can get your hands on.

By no means is this a mandate to not carry first aid while trail running. In fact, it's probably smart... Legally at least.
I personally do carry a smattering of tape and a few other first aid supplies, but I'm trained proficiently in what do with them. And let's be honest, if you are reading this blog post to become better informed on first aid, you probably aren't an expert in first aid anyways. Play it smart. If it's a shorter run, not too remote, and you don't really know you're way around a koalin vs von Willebrand factor argument, then maybe you would better off with less weight on your back.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Between the snow shoes and the GT 2140 Trail I choose...

In life, you often have to make choices. Do I want to huck this 20 foot cliff onto a sketchy landing with ice and rocks? Do I want vanilla or chocolate? Should I fart in public or not?

Some of those questions are easy, some are not. What shoe to wear on a particular run should be fairly easy. Asics managed to make it fairly extremely not.

Let it be said that I LOVE Asics. They typically fit my feet perfectly, and my wife will never ever stray from the Nimbus. If I ever have any doubts on trail conditions and general comfort, I go for my Trabuco GTX (see very favorable review here).

For quite some time man has struggled with road vs trail running. Two very different beasts, yet oh so similar. They both involve running... and well, running. One happens to be the scourge of the earth and boring as frozen bacon, but that's my problem. Asics has tried to bridge the road to trail gap with their GT 2140 Trail shoe. It's a hybrid shoe, more or less a cross between their 2140 road and their trail sensor line. Keep in mind that they have updated to a 2150 line this year, but very little has changed.

In effort to make road running more comfortable from a trail shoe point of view, they reduced the overall stiffness of the shoe, de-tuned the aggressiveness of the sole, and added a bit more EVA foam to the mix. The whole point is to make road running possible from a trail shoe, which brings up the question... Why?

Your given trail runner isn't a wuss. They've been hitting the road in trail shoes for years, toughening their feet and minds in the process. Next question... why would I ever run road in a shoe that weighs a good 5 oz's more than a standard road shoe, per shoe!

I found many, many problems with these shoes. As a trail shoe, they didn't provide enough support, allowing my wife's chronically bad ankles to get torn up, and had tread grip that was about as good as Old Navy flip flops. Oh man, don't get these wet either. They drain about as well as a plastic bag.

Now as a road shoe... this is where they flopped even more. Their flex wasn't great, the trail sole was awkward on the road, and the weight penalty is just stupid.

The real question is... if you have to compromise one way or the other, either road or trail, wouldn't you lean to the side that you'd be stuck on more often? You can always run trail in road shoes, especially in good weather, and handle things pretty well. If you're on a trail that is really that technical, you wouldn't dare touch it with road shoes anyways.

As shoes go... These get a big, bold NO GO!

Asics puts out plenty of other great stuff... just this isn't their shining achievement.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Raccoons aren't your cute, cuddly friends

As with pretty much everything in life, there's always something that seems cute but really just wants to bite you, and spending times in nature is pretty much the prime example. Nothing is your friend when you're truly immersed in nature; maybe your dog, but your dog is not going to get a good face-licking by the skunk that wandered into your tent.

Something to be acutely aware of when dealing with animals is the rare, yet extremely deadly rhabdovirus. Rhabdovirus is the causative agent of Rabies, which ranks very high in the worst ways to die. . .ever.

Rabies is transmissible by animal bites (pretty much the only way), and the typical culprits are raccoons, skunks, and bats. It's rare, but aerosolized virus can be a problem in bat caves. Basically, any time you get bit by an animal, rabies should be considered and treatment should be sought after!

Rabies works as such:
1. gets into your body through a wound; the larger the wound, the worse the infection
2. gets into your nerves, the closer to the head, the worse off you are
3. travels up the nerve to your brain
4. fever, nausea, vomiting, inability to swallow water, coma
4. kills you.

Here's the deal, you have anywhere from 1-120 days for rabies to start to work, so any bite should be considered a serious threat. IF AND ONLY IF medical treatment is sought early, can a victim be saved. Through a series of vaccinations, rabies can be stopped in the early stages. Once it makes it into your brain and the symptoms start, you're hosed.

Take home lesson? Don't trust any animals, especially ones behaving oddly. If a raccoon is out during the day, staggers around, and approaches you, it's highly likely that the lil bugger is the spawn of satan and wants to give you rabies. The whole foaming at the mouth thing? Not so much.

Just be careful, and anytime you've been bit, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Set your body free

Nothing is more frightening than suddenly having a medical incident that scares you to death. As an avid skier and general dumb as they come action sport participant, I have managed to rack up many an injury. One of my most trivial, yet most scary, is the curious case of the re-appearing broken ribs.

After skiing for a day, I decided to hot dog off a jump and do a quick grab. I'm not a park and piper. Yah, I'll drop 20 feet off a cliff and giggle, but the actual act of launching up in to the air on skiis terrifies me. Which is hilarious because I love that feeling while BMXing or wakeboarding... eh. I came down a little fast, caught my ski behind me and landed squarely on my left lower rib cage. Pop... Pop... Pop... Three broken ribs.

Flash forward 5 years or so...

After a hard workout... WHOOOAAA... Why does my chest hurt so badly??? HOLY CRAP! Am I having a heart attack??? To make a long story short, I went to a few docs and was diagnosed with being an idiot (as far as my chosen hobbies) who ripped up the muscles in his rib cage pretty badly. The stress from med school didn't help (do you know how bad boards are???) and things spiraled. Thank God that it was just muscle and bone, not heart.

So what if it was heart? Do you know what to do? It's something EVERY athlete should be aware of. You never know where or who an MI (the medical short-hand for heart attack) can happen to. Plenty have happened in middle of nowhere, just as a ton have happened in the home.

1. Crushing chest pain (mine was sharp and didn't feel like an elephant). In fact, having an elephant on your chest is a common complaint

2. Pain in LEFT shoulder, or LEFT jaw. Also pain radiating in your back

3. generally feeling like crap, even a feeling of doom.

4. general super awareness of your heart, be it fast or slow (depends on the exact cardiac event). Palpitations (thumping more or less, out of rhythm) can be felt

IF these symptoms show up, CALL 911 or push the freaking button on your spot!
Best of luck to you out there! Oh yah, get yourself a CPR lesson. Save someones life. You'll feel so bad-a.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

iPad. I'm a sucker.

As a medical student I'm always looking for a good smartphone or smaller, utilitarian net book. Other than the iPhone, you can look to android for a decent phone iu. But... Androids market blows. It has not been fully accepted by the medical community, plus it's full of porn. I had been a disgruntled htc eris user, but frankly it was slow and buggy. Did I mention that the android market blows? I wasn't willing to go back to AT&T, since I literally had to press my head against the window to get reception in our apt. So I did the next much better thing.

I bought the iPad.

After a Lot of math and long introspection, I decided to go for it. After much longer pleading and whining, my wife broke down and let me go for it. Win, Win, Win if you ask me (name the reference and win, probably nothing tangible though)

As an outdoor athlete, I thought I could come up with a good arguement for and against the iPad as the outdoorsmen computing device of choice (I'm not comfortable calling it a full computer yet)

The iPad weighs nothing and a half. It's light as turds and so easy to use that most grandmothers can jump right on up to playing with it.
I'm very impressed by the appearant computing power behind the iPad. Truly you're only limited to what developers come up with. Developers will come out with some truly amazing crap, so what you see in the App store isn't the only option indefinitely.
The 3G connection is an awesome addition. You can now backpack this thing in, and as long as there is some cell connection, you can access the web as necessary.
Plus, the battery lasts for 10 hours straight... RUNNING HD VIDEO! I have been able to routinely use the iPad for 3 days in a row (with heavy use) and not have to charge.

You're stuck on AT&T. See above statement about head pressed against the window
The keyboard can be unwieldy, but really you get used to it very, very fast.
The screen is pretty scratchproof, but really its not.
I don't think the iPad can handle a drop onto a rock. Of course, most computers can't. Hopefully companies will be coming out with much tougher cases in the future. They do have waterproof bags manufactured, both "made for iPad" and the normal ziplock.

I think the iPad is a welcome addition to any backpacker, climber, or expeditionist needing the utility of a computer but hates carrying the weight.
It's really only limited by what developers have put out (and it doesn't run flash... I think it's more a battery issue), so the utility will only grow. Can you imagine maps on this thing? GORGEOUS!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mud and the Masochists

I'm not super impressed with the Montrail Mountain Masochists when in the mud. My previous assessment that the downward lugs where far too few. I found myself skiing down some nasty crap when running. Sure I love skiing, but I like doing it with skiis... and snow... call me picky.

Downhills and lateral movement where both at a deficit with these shoes. Oddly, I also have noticed that the shoes seem to stretch more when wet. This is the first time I've had this problem with trail shoes.

Check the pics and vid for how nasty the trail really was. It was the first long run of the season, and for a good long run, they felt pretty good. Even when sopping wet.

Check here for Masochist unboxing

And here for the first 3 workouts

Running in the mud.

Mud presents a pretty difficult terrain type to attack. Here are a few methods to plan your way through a truly muddy, crappy spot

1. Try to sprint through. If you're not wearing Gore-Tex this can pretty much screw your feet for the rest of the run. Not fun.

2. Try to attack the mud like this!
-Get up on your toes
-cut from the outside in on the outer perimeter of the mud patch
-this will help you to direct your gait pressure outwards towards the most hard portion of dirt
-This should create a semi-vacuum directly under the shoe, helping you to keep from getting wet

3. Walk. Carefully.
4. Your greatest enemy, the root, is now your greatest asset. Use them for dry platforms.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Montrail Mountain Masochists. 3 runs. 3 conditions. ALL GOOD!

Wow. If you pronate at all, this is the trail running shoe for you. I'm actually about to embark on suckering Mrs. AK into letting me buy the gore-tex version also. They're sooooooo good at holding a line, and I have very few complaints thus far. I've run in them 3 times so far, all at 5 miles a piece.

(for the unboxing, look here)

Run 1: Warm and Dry
I love these shoes when it's warm out. They breathe like a champ! I felt like the padding was more than adequate for the hard dirt, rocks, and roots of this 5 miler. Everything from single track to horse trails, all were comfortable in the Masochists. One complaint, when going donwhill, they tend to force you into heel strike rather than mid to forefoot strike. I'm not a huge fan of this, as it tends to put more stress on your knees (the closer to 180 degrees when your foot strikes the ground, as compared to your hip, the worse the stress... in many, many magnitudes). With a little practice, I was able to modify my foot strike to minimize the superfulous stress.

Run 2: Mud, Grass, Flat as a pancake
While camping at Chain O' Lakes State Park, IN, Mrs. AK and I went for a run. I forgot how boringly flat Indiana is. Plus trails are mostly grass... and grass is dewy and muddy in the morning. The masochists did just fine, of course so would have my Mizuno road shoes.

Run 3: WET, pouring rain, Technical as you get in NE OH
What an amazing run! You can really judge the inteligence of a runner based on his or her decisions as what terrain to run in what conditions. Count me a fun loving idiot, because in a disgusting mess of a rain storm, I decided to go for the hardest, technical run I could find. My 5 mile run was full of sand, rocks, tree roots, hills, and some nasty, sloppy terrain. See the attached video for the insane traction these suckers throw up on the slippery rock. Albeit it was sandstone, yet still very, very slippery! So much fun to sprint up a 50 degree incline rock, for about 15 feet. They held a beutiful line and didn't let me slip until going back down and only when I hit the 70 degree decline. How in the world did these suckers manage to have such a great rock plate, beautiful grip, and breathe so insanely well? Well done Montrail

Cocona Fabrics

I've recently become a tester for Cocona Fabrics. They're a Colorado based company that specializes in coconut fiber infused synthetic garments. A few companies, such as Marmot and Mammut have begun to incorporate them into they're line ups.

I'm pretty impressed with the utility of the fabric. The fabric feels great right out of the box. The shirt I was sent is a basic 1/4 zip, black, long sleeve tee. Nothing was amazingly spectacular looking, just a pretty basic long sleeve tech shirt.

After my initial inspection, a few glaring errors came to light.
1. Who doesn't incorporate a chin guard into their zippers? This is pretty much inexcusable in a tech garment. This instantly put the shirt fairly low on my long totem pole of cold weather running gear. Plus, the neck, when unzipped, has just enough weight to not stay in place (or simply stay down in the first place) but manages to flip up over and over and over in the runners face.

2. The logo on the left sleeve is pretty subtle. I like that, looks good. What I don't like is that the fabric/stitching behind the sewn in logo is not backed to prevent chafing.

3. SEAM PLACEMENT! I see this mistake all the time in prominent label athletic apparel such as Nike and Adidas. These companies typically aren't concerned that their seams are obtrusive and downright annoying when wearing a backpack or camel-bak. These companies aren't really developing their sports apparel to the outdoor athlete, and that's fine. It's not fine when the shirt is obviously marketed toward the outdoor athlete.

4. It's not a make it or break it deal, but there are no pockets, anywhere, on this shirt. Even one pocket really opens up the possibilities for the shirt. A gel, iPod, or small cell phone can all be put into a shirt pocket, and are typically less obtrusive than running short pockets.

5. Sizing is a little off for a straight medium. It's a little too small, especially in the armpits. Just a tad short. I wear mediums in just about everything, and I would probably jump up to a large in this shirt.

Check back soon for the first few workouts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Jet Boil Stove

I can't really add a whole lot to a large bank of reviews that people have come up with for the jetpoil pcs system. I think it'd be best to give the profile of a person who should consider the system.

1. Doesn't mind the "jail cell" you've put yourself in with canister based stoves. You're stuck with canisters, not the utility of multiple fuel type stoves. Kinda puts you in a bind if you're going overseas.

2. You LOVE the complete simplicity of canister based stoves. NO thinking, just catch it on fire and cook.

3. Likes to use ready made food, mostly dehydrated based food. That being said, still works with regular food (pancakes, meat, that kind of thing).

4. Loves accessories. Jetboil puts out a ton of them. Most of them are pretty well thought out and are good for what they're made for. Plus they all back into the stove itself. Pretty awesome!

Good stove, fairly light weight, but kinda pigeon holes you in a "fast packer" group.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I've been slowly transitioning into running sans-dog. It's been an interesting process. I now don't have the some what frequent potty breaks to look forward, yet enjoy not having to carry dog poo bags.

A few things I've noticed
1. I feel less secure. I'm by no means a big wuss and am more than capable of taking care of myself, but there's just something missing.
2. I see more squirrels than I ever did before.
3. Did I mention how much I miss those potty breaks??? Seriously, a guaranteed 30 second break every 10 minutes or so!
4. No one tells me my ears look really cute flopping down the trail.
5. I don't have the fiasco of getting Scooter to ignore other dogs as we run by.
6. I'm now the best runner when I run. That dog would embarrass me constantly with how fast he was.
7. That last point only applies to me when Mrs AK isn't running with me. She's better than me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

protect the knees

Here's a quick workout to help strengthen the ACL, PCL, and genu collateral ligaments. These are all really important ligaments in the knee.

While standing on one leg, jump forward 10 jumps, then backwards ten, to the right ten, the left ten. You'll want to try to really get some distance every few jumps. Do the other leg, maybe repeat a few times. This will teach your muscles to compensate for any undue stress from whatever activity you're pursuing. You're training your muscles to protect the ligaments. Take your time, warm up fully, and you're doing a fairly dangerous exercise (as far as gym work goes).

Do it at your own peril, aka don't blame me if you fall.

But feel free to thank me when it saves your ACL from a nasty fall.

Mountain Hardwear Quasar Running Cap

This hat is great. I have literally one complaint.
1. It's a little deep. You really can't push this hat up very high on your forehead. This is a terrible complaint, but I had to come up with one.

The good:
1. SOOO much mesh
2. perfect sized bill, with just the right weight and stiffness.
3. real nice wicking band around the WHOLE head. I'm speaking to you bald fat guy that passed me on our first trail marathon and made me want to give up.
4. Let's face it, it doesn't look lame. It reps Mountain Hardwear without the obnoxious/firm "nut" they put on everything. They decided to use a decal rather than a fabric patch (why I hated my Mountain Hardwear beanie)
5. I forgot I was wearing it during my run.
And that's all you really need to know...

ps... Mountain Hardwear... I stole your pic straight up, my bad.

Montrail Mountain Masochists. Unboxing

The Montrail Mountain Masochists have won gear of the year for the past 2 years now. They come with super high marks, lots of good press, and a relatively new, but strong, following.

I bit the bug recently (and I think legally I'm req'd to tell you I got them on the cheap) and bought a pair for Mrs. AK and myself. I'll give you the unboxing, then a run down on the first five miler soon.

1. I was sent the wrong color... bummer for about five seconds... and then I put them on. Very few shoes cradle and smooch your foot as much as these. The footbed is anatomically based, which may put off certain runners. For me personally, it's awesome, not so much for my wife. She didn't fall in love with them as much as I did first, yet she's willing to give them a shot
2. Lot's of mesh = great ventilation
3. double eyelets on the collar give some awesome tying options. This is a feature sorely missed on my La Sportiva Lynx's.
4. the heel cup has two rather deep wells for the malleoli, nice for road, not my fave for trails (not as secure for ankle protection)
5. Super aggressive toe bump cap. You won't be breaking a toe with these suckers
6. GREAT flex in the forefoot, crazy stiff midsole, very padded heel. I'll talk about that in a bit.
7. The tread is pretty darn aggressive with uphill lugs, with a surprisingly few (only on the medial side of the foot) downhill lugs.
8. I'm a big fan of the midsole lugs (only 3 of them). They give just the right amount of grip when pushing off a log.
9. Not the most impressive scree gaiter. Don't look forward to any running in sand with these.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

RIP Scooter

Suffice it to say, today has been one of the hardest in our married coupleness. Due to an incredibly unfortunate turn of events, we had to put our running partner, best friend, and number one ear-licker down for the long sleep. Can't wait to run with him in Heaven.

In a recent post, I criticized dog owners for not taking responsibility for their dogs actions. I had to practice what I preach, and I don't like it. As of 8:40 this morning, baby Scoot went to run with Jesus. I hear Jesus is pretty fast. You may have read that in the book of Leviticus (like you've ever bothered to read Leviticus...).

That being said, I'm incredibly excited to share that we are expecting our first running stroller training buddy! This blessing excites us a ton, and we look forward to sharing running and training stories as Mrs. AK bears our child (codename Baby Beluga).

Stayed tune, the Montrail Mountain Masochist review is coming soon!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the bee's knees?

Hi, I'm The Blogger's Wife. This is still his baby but apparently I get to throw in my two cents' from time to time, so I'll take full advantage.

So about a year into my running career I started noticing some pain under my kneecaps. It was mostly just while running up or down hills and sometimes while climbing or descending stairs. Gradually it became more and more prominent, but being the non-hospital-going type that I am, I kept convincing myself that it would go away. It didn't. I finally set up an appointment with at at orthopedic practice in Muncie, Indiana, where I was told that initial x-rays showed nothing wrong, I was probably just making it up, and I was fine. Now, I'm not a crier (no matter what my husband may say) but I definitely cried as I was leaving. . .I mean, by that point I couldn't even DRIVE without my knees hurting, but he was telling me there was nothing wrong?

It was another year or so of agony before I finally was convinced to go back to another doctor. This one gave me the diagnosis I had been pretty sure I would hear - chondromalacia, or patellofemoral pain syndrome. Basically what this entails is a roughening of the underside of the patella. It generally is caused by the patella being pulled laterally instead of straight over the joint. The two main causes for this are a relatively weak VMO (compared to your lateral quad muscles) and the Q-angle. In women, the angle between your hips and knee (aka. . .the Q-angle) is wider than in men, causing the patella to be pulled towards that outer hip.

The diagnosing doctor gave me a few exercises for my VMO (some good ones are straight leg raises, lateral leg raises, and partial squats while holding a ball between your knees. Also helpful is running backwards or going backwards on an elliptical machine.)and gave me another nugget of wisdom that I knew but didn't want to heed. . .rest will make you feel a whole lot better.

I didn't rest like I probably should have, but what did seem to help was the crosstraining on an elliptical. I don't like gyms or elliptical machines, but a half hour or 45 minutes of going backwards on one a couple of times a week really did seem to help out the knees some. Then I quit doing that and just stuck to trail running. I think you can guess how that went. It was four days after our first trail marathon that suddenly from a seated position I couldn't even lift my leg to cross it over the other. . .my knee simply couldn't handle the weight of my lower leg without causing debilitating pain.

And then I rested, finally.

Moral of the story? Chondromalacia is not fun. It's a very distinct pain - you'll feel it on inclines, declines, stairs, and whenever your leg is bent with weight on it. Rest it, ice it, and strengthen that VMO!

Play nice

I'm introducing my wife to you all. She's going to be joining in the posting, lots on her running journey, and then other stuff. I'm asking her to talk to you first about her knees. She'll give you the low down, hopefully give you an idea when to seek help for your own knee problems. I'm speaking mostly to women here, they're more at risk for this specific knee problem.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dogs on Trails

I love, love running with my dog. I also love not study epileptic drugs (which I'm not doing right now). Running with a dog is a great way to have a fresh perspective on running. Here's a short list on why
1. They take potty breaks. You may have to clean up after them, but I love it when he's the one that gracefully bows out on hill intervals, you know, to "go potty". I can also assure you that he's had a few fake-outs, to get a blatant break. I love him for it.
2. Level of safety/assurance. I don't like it when the wife runs w/o the dog. He's very, very defensive of us (he's a rescue pooch, it happens) and I always feel secure when he's on board.
3. He's constantly happy. Running is by far the thing he loves most in the world. Belly rubs come in a close second.
4. He can drink from streams. I'm not going to lie, I'm jealous.

That being said, a quick discussion on dog ethics should be had.
1. I don't find it offensive to let your dog poop in the woods. I do find it uncalled for if the dog poops on some one's yard. Also, just flip the poop away from the actual trail.
2. Don't think that your dog is the most well behaved dog in the world. It's not. I met the most well behaved dog in the world, and it's not yours. That story to come.
3. LEASH YOUR DOG! Just yesterday, on our hill interval workout, a lady was walking on the trail with two dogs, unleashed. The ran uphill to us, I pulled Scoot off to the side and tried to call them off. The front mutt got aggressive towards me, which Scoot will have none of. Barely was a fight avoided, and trust me, the other dog is lucky. When it comes to protecting his owner's, Scoot (who is incredibly well behaved to ppl) will have NONE of it. Worse of all, the lady attempted to call her dogs back, showed absolutely no control over the dog, and didn't even bother to jog up to stop her dogs from confronting us. LEASH YOUR DOG!
4. Please, please don't forget that your dog is covered in fur, doesn't sweat, and does much poorer than you in hot weather. Treat them with respect. He can out-sprint you, but not out sweat you.

Perhaps the best training tip for running with your dog? Scoot knows that when my arm is held out to the side, at 90 degrees, he's supposed to jump up and let me hold him. This is very, very handy for crossing metal grate bridges (no broken paws here), and to avoid precarious situations (running into 5 coyotes this January comes to mind). I can't tell you how handy this trick has been.

Time to learn some more about Levetiracetam. I did have to look how to spell that word at least 3 times.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trails again

As road running starts to lose it's fun (about 4 weeks max for me), trails start to call. NE Ohio has a stunning trail system, most specifically the Buckeye Trail. The hills are perfect, decent spread, good singletrack, with many a root to catch your toe.

Dog and master left for the normal 8 mile run and soon found themselves entranced by the depth of wilderness so close to a large city. The lack of greenery in distal tree trunks gave a stark contrast to the sprawling buds growing on the forest base. All 360 degrees on top of a large hill gave way to what could only be spoken as "holy crap". The general feeling of being so deep into the middle of nowhere is so hard to find, but my dog and I found ourselves deep into nothing civil, only wooded.

Our one hour run was to be a classical test piece on a long arguement for and against walking hills while trail running. I tend to be for walking the hills. Based on simple biomechanics, I know that by walking and being able to center my weight directly on the postural muscles of the lower back and glutes, more consisent Type 1 fiber distribution can be had. Type 1 muscle fiber is the type that lets you run marathons, it's the go the distance fiber type. Type 2 muscle fibers let you rip and sprint. Keep in mind this is a quick and dirty fiber type description, there's too much detail and sub-typing to adequately explain.
Leg 1 of the experiment: 30 minute trail run out on singletrack, with heart rate held at 150 BPM, with an allowance to 170 BPM for uphill. Downhill had to be kept in check at 160 BPM.
Leg 2: 29:30 back, with general awareness not to exceed 165 BPM for flats, who cares about the downhill BPM, and strict adherence to walking on the uphills

The difference of 30 seconds may appear to be minimal, but considering I only allowed 3-4 minutes lag time between sets, and man, that's looking good to me.

more science to come!