Monday, March 31, 2014

The Product or The Brand

Look into your running shoe closet. Why do you have the shoes you own? Why did you buy the first shoe of the brand in your closet. Did you buy it for what the product does or did you buy it for who the brand is.

More than likely you found out about the brand before you found out about the shoe. Apply that to the TV, the Computer, your cell phone, just about anything.

So this past weekend it was all about the Brand Zoot. Introducing Zoot to the Triathlon World. Yes I know, the Triathlon world knows Zoot. But they don't know this Zoot.

The new booth is a 20 foot mobile container. It opens up to reveal the Brand. It closes down to move on to the next race. While every other brand had a 10x10 pop up tent or two we brought this display.

 The shoe wall was a great display. Bright colors against black always look great.

 Race day arrived and the Jewell boys went to watch the run segment. We saw a 6'4" athlete smoke the field of highly talented athletes. We saw a lanky woman take down the smaller fast runners as well. It was great to have the boy there giving me all the running form comments. He's got a good eye for running form.
 Finally on Sunday is was a day with Team Zoot. What a great concept for a small brand like ours. These folks are amazing brand ambassadors. I believe they will be the biggest impact for Who Zoot Is this year.
It's a good life….

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

No Foot Pain for Me

Everywhere I turn I'm confronted by runners in pain or injured. Yesterday in the office it was a knee. Saturday on the run it was shin pain. The weekend before it was a guy who was running in Newton for years and thought switching to a poorly created shoe that put him at a 13mm offset would be a good idea. The week before that it was three women running with pain and using Hoka running shoes to minimize the pain. 

There is stretching you should be doing but there is also self massage. Self massage has saved my legs and in my work below is what I've found to be the most important. 

 Today I'm going to focus on Foot and Achilles pain. What I have found is most of the pain is coming from tightness in the lower leg. To make sure I get at the tightness I use a Lacrosse Ball and a foam roller.
 One area that gets little love in stretching and standard self massage work is the Achilles itself. Walking, running, twisting all puts the Achilles under pressure. Too much and the area around it will get ultra tight. So using the ball I find the tight bits and then:
 I mash them. I roll up and down the groove between the muscle and the tendon and find the tight spots. The first time you do this you might cry but it gets easier the more often you do it.
 I also do the lateral side of the leg in the same place. You can do this at night and if you are really tight try it before you run. You will notice the difference.

I also use the ball to get to the top of calf and the hamstring attachment. Put the ball behind your knee, Use your hands to pull the shin in towards your butt. Move the ball around feeling for the tight spots. Believe me you have tight spots here and this hurts. Your legs will thank you when you are done.

 With the foam roller I roll my shins out using my body weight for the mash. If the last two didin't make you cry this one will. This is great because you can roll from the top of your foot all the way to your knee finding any part of that leg that is tight. Yes the picture is upside down but I think you understand. Put the roller on the floor. Put your shin on the roller with your bodyweight on top and roll.

I credit all of this the MobiltyWOD There is  a great deal more to this but for Running this is what I know works.

Now if you break your hand and can't run then hit the bike. This is Marco at 6:15am Monday morning hammering out. When the cast comes off there will be 2 or 3 track meets remaining in the season. Guess who wants to race them?

It's a good life….

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Week that Was

One cast comes off the other one goes on. 8 more weeks in a cast. You break a small bone in the hand and this is what you get 12 weeks. The new cast allows the elbow to bend but does not allow the arm to rotate. So no hard running for at least another 4 weeks. So he's switched to hard riding on my turbo trainer. 

This picture sits on my desk at work. It's a reminder of how I don't want to look. A bit miserable if you ask me. So I look at it daily and smile. 

I've decided if I'm going to swim it's going to happen in the dark. First it's better for my skin and second it's safer than running in the dark. 

I love this picture. There are few runners who don't know this picture. This was outside a running store in San Diego. The guy in the store was showered and had just opened the store. My bet is he had another run to do later in the day. 

I spent Saturday at two Zoot functions. First up was running with the West Coast Road Runner crew. I had a great 12 mile run with a couple guys. The second was a meet and greet with Team Zoot San Diego. You can see they are already Zoot fans. Very cool to see and fun to meet everyone. 

What I learned in all of this. 
  1. The more I see Marco in challenging situations the more proud I am of him. He has handled this broken hand with class. 
  2. I love my job. Running stores, runners and athletes oh and I reviewed and made adjustments to Fall 2015 designs. 
  3. I love the pool. It's the one place where you can go hard and not beat yourself up doing it. 

It's a good life….

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Running Shoe Program

I'm a big believer that you need to have a couple different shoes in your closet all the time for your running needs. For me I do this for three reasons.

  1. I'm wear testing a shoe
  2. I want a particular feel on a particular run
  3. My mood dictates
The end result is a variety in my running which is always good. It's what keeps the legs and the head fresh. 

First up is the Zoot Solana. A new shew for this July. My goal here is to run in it until it dies. I've had it since early December and it has been my main shoe. Still going strong. The midsole is injected EVA with a constant ground contact. Incredibly smooth and quiet. The upper is a running shoe upper. Great Heel fit, ample room in the midfoot that I can lock my skinny foot down and room in the forefoot to breath. I humbly think it's the best shoe I've made while working for a brand. There was one quite close to this at adidas and if the Solana can come anywhere close to that shoe in sales I might get a raise. 

 I may do one or two sessions a week of speed work depending on the week. I'll usually do it in the Kiawe 2.0. It's firm, low to the ground and fits tight. You can see the constant ground contact in this Photo. I like it also because it has our carbon fiber piece in the midfoot. That little extra snap at toe off feels great thanks to the carbon fiber.
When my legs are hurting or I'm going long on the roads it's the Kalani 3.0. This shoe just feels like butter on the feet. Soft, smooth and with a little kick in it. I keep it on the roads because of the massive (for me) midsole under my foot and the upper is not very stable for off road. I never have a bad run in this shoe. It's that simple. 
 I also run once or twice a week in other brands. I have some favorites and I have some shoes I simply want to test. I picked up the new Newton Motion with their 5 Lug design last week. I think the new Lug design is way better than the older 4 lugs. I personally can run in any shoe with no issues. That's not so for runners who don't have the leg strength or form that I have. I'm afraid the new shoes may be even harder to adjust to than the previous versions. I say that because their new midsole is super soft which only puts you deeper into negative when your heel touches and your heel will touch, it always does on every runner. I do think the upper and the fit is dramatically better.

 When I was a young runner it was Nike all the time. I swore by the Pegasus. Then they stopped making it and I worked with Mizuno on the Wave Rider and my life was good again. The issue is the Wave Rider today is not one of my favorite shoes. I feel the balance is off and personally I can feel it when I run. But hey that's me. So my new go to other brand shoe is the Pegasus again. I like it's simplicity and Nike always fit my foot well. Usually if it fits my foot well it's not good for all the other runners in the market. Which brings me back to Zoot. I specifically try to build shoes that don't fit me.
 I've tried the Hoka Conquest. I love the design and manufacturing of this shoe. I so much wanted it to work for me but it doesn't. The Hoka Bondi was not too bad but this Conquest is terrible for me. It's too stiff, and if a shoe is stiff it better roll and this one doesn't for me, it's flat. Remember fit for me is critical. I'll adjust fit on any shoe with socks but I can't seem to find the sock that creates the best fit. So this shoe sits on my desk as an example of beautiful shoe making.
If a brand is spending a large amount of money to launch a shoe I'm buying it. I buy with the anticipation of the kid I was doing the same thing. I had to have the Nike Air Max when it came out. I had to try the Asics flat with the split tongue. So on launch day I went to the local running store and bought the Brooks Transcend. Now I'm not the target runner for this shoe. I'm too light, too leg strong and my form is too good. But I can run in anything and it's with that knowledge that I anticipate great runs in new shoes. I was bummed when I ran in it. The shoe did not meet my expectations for value and function. Too bad for me but I can see where it will probably work for large group of runners. So instead of running in it any more we cut the shoe to pieces to see how it's made. 

I get to do all this because it's my job. But that should not stop you from being smart about your running. Have a couple different shoes in your closet. Decide which to run in based on  criteria 2 - 3  above and your legs and head will thank you. 

It's a good life....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Building a Lean Body!

I've been working really hard to stay healthy, happy and strong. From the blood test I did recently and the work with my friend Chris there were some things to work on. Mostly lean muscle mass and the hormonal benefits that go with it. Chris turned me on to 100%MR and Muscle Synthesis. It has taken me awhile to dial it in but I think we have the protocol. Here's what I do: 

2 scoops of 100% MR and 2 scoops of Muscle Synthesis with water on an empty stomach twice a day. Normally that is after my morning workout and just prior to my afternoon workout. If it's just a morning workout than I drink the second stack when I get home from work. I am also putting the same stack in a gel flask and taking it on rides longer than 2 hours. At the 2 hour mark I down the flask. It's a super strong taste but as long as I have more water it's ok to wash down. The results are worth noting. I'm stronger on the bike for sure and Mary says she can see a definition in my body she hasn't seen in quite awhile. I'm not losing weight in fact I'm gaining weight which mean's only one thing, I'm getting stronger. More sleep and this product has got to be the result. Chris likes the powdered Branched Chains over the tablet form. He says it's easier for your body to absorb this way. After years of tablet form Branch Chain Aminos I have one that gives results. 

 I was starving at the Airport in China. If it wasn't 100% Sugar it was something else. This is what I found I could eat. Look at the label, Coconut flavored Peanuts. I'm telling you they were not great. This was a domestic airport so these nuts were not for the Western folks. Whatever, I ate them and lived with it.

100% MR yes, Coconut flavored Peanuts no.

It's a good life....

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday Running with the High School Runner

Broken wrist and all He's ready to run. If you know him that's not a happy face. What he's showing is game on Dad we are about to crank this out.

 The forward lean the strong legs, the perfect form he's rolling 6 minute pace here.

 He's pulling away. Not to complain but this is my second run of the day and I'm holding the camera. He dropped me like the old man that I am.

 I got smart. If you recognize the route, he went under the tracks at Santa Fe and I did not. I stayed on the trail. He picked up the pace here on the course and was just moving. I slowed down just so I could watch the beauty that is running.

Because of my knowledge of where he was running, I made it home first. Here he is at the finish. He's not smiling because the run hurt. It was the first hard run since the cast came on. Totally against doctors orders but oh my did he enjoy himself. He was full of energy the rest of the night and kept talking about running.

It's a good life….

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rambling on in this Life

 It's been a rough three weeks. Travel to China is always a challenge especially when things don't go the way you expected. With the trip and the rough days at the office sleep was a challenge. The best sleep I got was 5 hours on the plane from Bejing to Chicago. Then it was off to Chicago to drive some business and see the family for a short time.
  1. 5 hotels
  2. 2 Overnight flights
  3. 16 hour time change one way 2 hour time change the other
  4. 30 hours on a plane

 By the time I got home I was wasted. I should have taken time off from work but the things in China caused me to push on. Finally on Friday I slept. 9 hours straight and it felt great. I've found over the years, Sleep is the biggest problem. When I don't sleep well, I get cranky. The people around me should know when I don't sleep well. I get mean. When I sleep well stress melts away. As my friend Chris says, excessive time change travel and a lack of sleep is a sure path to an early grave. It's a good thing I slept really well for 6 weeks before this travel and that I'm now back on good long sleep again. Minimizing the off sleep days is a big goal. I did not do so well this time around. But move on I must. 

The day I started running at the age of 17 I was sitting on my couch stuffing my face with Oreo cookies. Now Nabisco has invaded my Kindle and is tempting me with more Oreos. I haven't had one in 20 years and I don't think I'll start. Nice try Nabisco. Running over Oreo Cookies any day. 

The day before my trip to China. Marco the Runner broke a small bone in his hand. It's the one that allows our thumb to work properly and it's a bitch to heal. So little Marco is in a cast for 3 months. The great thing is against doctor orders he's still running. 3 days a week he runs 3-4 miles on the track. Last Sunday he and I ran 40 minutes side by side down the coast highway. Even with the cast he simply floats when he runs. It's so much fun to watch.

With a full cast on his arm he's not able to participate in the track meets. Thursday marked the first track meet at SDHS in years. The new track is beautiful and it was awesome to watch a track meet there. He'll get many opportunities to run here but even I was bummed that he couldn't run on this day. 

Snoopy here is my brother Bob's dog. Snoopy about says it all in this picture. Bob is not doing well. My only other experience with ALS was with John Blaze. John was able to do the Ironman World Championships with ALS. My brother Bob went from diagnosis, to Wheel Chair to Hospice Care in less than a year. He can't do anything without help and it's sad. His family is hurting, he's hurting and Snoopy here is struggling. ALS sucks, there is no cure and it's just a matter of when. I love my brother and it's tough to get through each day knowing that I'm able to do what I love and he sits in his chair waiting. His faith is strong and I'm glad he has such a supporting wife and son at home. There will be more trips to Chicago in the near future.

It's not very often that you randomly pick up the Wall Street Journal and find one of your products listed.  It was fun to see a running shoe I worked on show up in a feature article. This feature though was funny. They were putting the best of the best triathlon gear in this section and the retail price tag for all of it was $21,000. Not a motivator to jump into the sport.

Travel to China, Chicago and wherever else I have to go is always ok as long as I get to come home to this. This picture was taken at 11:00am this past Saturday. Not a cloud in the sky 75 degrees and the bright blue Pacific in the back drop. This never gets old and it's such a great place to call home. 

I hope everyone has a great week. You may not have Cardiff by the Sea but there are things to be grateful for. Find them and some sleep and maybe like me you can melt the stress away.

It's a good life....

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thank a Teacher

Most of you know that my wife Mary is a school teacher. High School, 10th graders and all the drama involved. Here is what it takes to be a School Teacher:

4:15 a.m. Alarm Sounds

  •  Prepare for the day ahead
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Make two lunches (Marco and Mary) 
6:00 a.m. Depart for School

6:30 - 7:30 - Prep for the day

7:30 - 2:30 - Teach, Love, Teach, Love, Teach, Love

2:30 - 3:30 - Meet with Parents, Meet with other teachers

4:30 pm - Walk Niki the Dog

5:00pm - Run or Walk, Help with homework. 

7:00pm - Eat Dinner with the Family (Most of the time she cooks it too) 

7:30 - 10:00 - Grade Papers, Research for upcoming classes, answer emails from students, parents or faculty, talk to students 

Sleep, Repeat. 

Notice there is no time to watch TV. There is very little "me" time. From day #1 of each Semester to the last day of the Semester this is the schedule. If you know a teacher, you know this schedule well. If you have students, thank their teachers. They don't do this for the money. They don't do this for the summer vacation. They do this because they Love your kids. There is no 8 hour day for this teacher. There is just a day devoted to the future of this community, our kids. 

It's a good life...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Running is Competition so Let it Begin

Let's take a look at the running landscape right now.

Running Shoes

 New Balance Fresh Foam
Adidas Energy Boost 2
Altra Torin 1.5

All three do the same thing. Provide a ton of cushion on a neutral platform. I could add another 15 brands at least playing on this platform. 

And then there is Retail. 

Road Runner Sports and the Run Specialty Group are having a throw down in Denver. They were both bidding on Boulder Runner Company and RSG won. A new BRC was just opened in a Mall in Denver and a new RRS was just opened in Denver. These stores do the same thing, sell the same thing and will eventually trade employees. 

The point of all of this is that running is a very healthy sport. Everyone wants a peace and everyone is competing to do so. In shoes I believe everyone is playing Long Tail Economics. Brought on by the internet, long tail works because the rent is low. The traditional set of economics is at play in Denver and cities across the USA. Supply and Demand. Demand is high so the supply of running stores is increasing. There is a point where the Supply will go beyond the demand and the suffering will begin. It would be great if that is a function of aggressive competition and not because the demand shrinks. If the demand shrinks and the supply increases the pain will be huge. 

For the brand I work for it's my job to make sure we are still standing and growing when the tail shortens and the economics are not in our favor. I love the people I work with and feel we stand a good chance in the playground. 

It's a good life...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Running Stores of the World: Running Central Peoria IL

My recent travels took me home to Peoria, IL. Well at least it was home from the time I turned 8 until I graduated High School at the age of 18. I still have family there so it still feels like home and I love going back. But this trip was also part business. When I was 17 I took up running. My girlfriend at the time ran track and cross country (we didn't have a boys CC team). I was sitting on the couch one day stuffing my face with Oreo Cookies, got up, put on a pair of "running" shoes and ran 3 miles. I have not stopped since.

Not long after that first run I decided I needed some real running shoes. So I drove to Running Central and bought a pair of New Balance 373s for the outrageous price of $45. Soon after I was out running and decided then and there that I was going to work in the running shoe business.

So it was great to be able to go back to Running Central and to help teach the great crew there about the Zoot Footwear they had on the wall. I spent 4 hours at the store listening to the staff service runners and I fell in love with their method.

First off they are as midwestern as you can get. So there is an honesty and work ethic about them. You know when you go there, they are giving you their best. Instead of treadmills they ask you to take off your shoes, they get down on the floor and they watch very closely as you walk back and forth in a straight line. Then they make their functional suggestions.

Their inventory in the back is laid out by size not by brand or by style. So it's a guarantee they will have shoes for you to try on but they don't really care about which brand they are brining out. They are choosing by function. So in the first few days of Zoot being in the store, our shoes were just included in the mix. People tried on our shoes with no preconceived notion except that it was brought out for them to try. The results have been great so far. Of course I think that's good for Zoot but I think it's good for runners too. You are not going to get stuck on a favorite shoe this way. You are going to be open to options which I believe is best for every runner. I see so many runners get upset because their shoe changed or worse yet don't realize that maybe their running gate has changed and that the favorite shoe just may not be the best for them. So the Running Central method keeps the variety in running shoes going and keeps you on your toes if you will.

There is nothing fancy about Running Central. It's just a hard working well managed running store and as they say "If it plays in Peoria, it will Play everywhere". Their method would be a welcome change to some of the stores in the market today.

It's a good life…..

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Biohacking the Old Fashion Way

So what's the point of Biohacking anyway? To be the best biohacker in the world? I can sleep on mats, with blue light filters, red lights to calm me, heart rate variability monitors, eye patches and ear plugs……or to make sure you are doing the right things so you can live a true life worth living. Which brings me to the Old fashioned way. Today I will:

  1. Visit the Dentist for my quarterly teeth cleaning. Yes that is right I get my teeth cleaned quarterly. Teeth and gum health are vital to overall health so I take care of them. My favorite health practitioner wants me to remove the mercury from my mouth and I'm down with that but only if it can be done safely. So far I haven't found that way yet. 
  2. Visit my Chiropractor - I like him  because he saved my running years ago. I trust him. But I see him regularly to make sure I'm properly aligned. I guarantee the run I'm about to do is going to be painful. The run I do on Thursday is going to feel so fresh and beautiful, thanks to my visit with Dr. Sheppard. 
So whatever you do, don't forget the basics. These two are the basics for what is biohacking. You can put the best stuff into your body but if you don't take care of the body, none of it matters. 

By the way, I don't sleep with all the stuff above. I sleep really soundly on a good bed, with a warm blanket and a snoring dog just below me. 

It's a good life….

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Top 10 Things I Learned In my Recent Travels

The past two weeks I traveled into China to work on shoes and then to Illinois to talk shoes and to see family. This is what I learned.

  1. Change takes time - We are in the process of evaluating the supply chain. Any change in the supply change takes a great deal of time. You should always plan on the unexpected. 
  2. Trains are better than cars - When I arrived in China I waited 4 hours for the driver to show up at the hotel to take me to the factory. When I left for the Airport on the last day I took the train. There is no waiting for the train. It shows up on time and is faster than the car. 
  3. Sometimes there is no Class in Business Class - The flight attendants are always trying to make the long flights more comfortable for everyone. It would be great if everyone appreciated this fact. I witnessed some classless people in Business Class. 
  4. Sleep is everything - The more I dial in my functional life the more I understand that we do not function well for long periods of time on poor sleep. I departed on Monday morning and the most continuous sleep I had that entire week was on the plane from Bejing to Chicago. It was 5 hours non-stop. I was not at my best. 
  5. Find the Silver Lining in everything - That sleep on the plane was Devine. I can't imagine going through the winter Chicago went through this year but the Silver Lining is you made it through. It probably won't ever be worse than that. 
  6. Corn is better than Snow - Driving through Illinois in the summer all you see is corn. This past week all I saw was white fields. I like the corn better. 
  7. Bald Eagles rule - I see wildlife everywhere. I love it. I've swum with seals, paddled with Dolphins, and even been tracked by Mountain Lions. The Bald Eagle I saw on Saturday was special. So regal, so beautiful. The symbol of freedom. 
  8. Pot Holes - I think this winter will mark the worst pot holes in history. There were holes in Chicago big enough to fit my entire car into. 
  9. -5 degrees - I visited a running store in Wisconsin. Their Tuesday night run cut off temperature is -5 degrees F. Last Tuesday 60 runners showed up to run, it was - 4 degrees. That is amazing. 
  10. ALS does not wait - ALS is a brutal disease. Everyone involved knows the progression and the disease simply does not wait for you to get ready. Two months ago my brother was standing with aid. Today he can move only one hand with extreme effort. There is no cure, there is no hope just progression. It sucks. The Silver Lining is I've spent more time with my brother and his family this year than all the years before combined and I love that. 
It's a good life….

Friday, March 7, 2014

Top 5 Running Memories: Rocky Mountain High

We were in Estes Park, Colorado for a family gathering. Estes Park is the on the main road leading into Rocky Mountain National Park. My run was a simple trail run in the National Park. The day before I had been mountain biking and during the ride was tracked by a Mountain Lion. On this day I told Mary exactly where I was running and exactly how long it would take me. I gave her a 2 hour window. 15 minutes to get to the trail head, 90 minutes to run, 15 minutes to return. I got up early and headed to the trail. The day was beautiful and clear. The run was going great and because it was 90 minutes I didn't take food or water. The course I had chosen was a loop. At the 45 minute mark or so I started to get nervous because I hadn't seen my turn for the loop. Remember, this is Rock Mountain National Park, it was not a Sunday hike type trail. I continued on and realized at an hour I was not where I wanted to be. I decided to back track. As I was heading back up the trail a group of hikers was coming down. The last in the group was a Park Ranger. He asked where I was going and then said, no you are not, those clouds you see are about to open up with a huge thunder storm and you don't want to be anywhere close to it. He gave me an alternate route. Within 5 minutes it was raining, with lightning so close I could feel it. I ran the route he gave me. What he failed to tell me is that it was adding 10 miles to my run. 2:30 hours now and I'm still running. I finally started seeing some signs for a trail exit which I took. At the 3 hour mark of my run I found a bus stop. I sat down and waited, hoping the bus was running. It seemed like hours but it was only 15 minutes later the bus came. Luckily it was a free bus in the park. I hopped on it, and took it to my car. I showed up at the lodge 2 hours late. Needless to say, it's been held against me for 12 years now. Each time I go out of the house I have to give Mary a window and If I'm late the story of Rocky Mountain High comes back and haunts me.

In the end though I loved the run. I bonked hard, froze, got lost and lived to do it again.

It's a good life….

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Top 5 Running Memories: My First Trip to China

My first trip to China had nothing to do with shoes and everything to do with running. I was part of a team hired to work at the Mild Seven Adventure race in Yunnan, China. Yunnan is in South Western China and as you can tell by the photo below it's quite beautiful and rugged.

My job was to scout the run courses, set them up and be the sweeper on each of the run sections during the race. So during the two weeks I was there I ran in the range of 150 miles. The most favorite run was one the days setting up a 15K race course that started at 13,000 feet, dropped down to 8,000 and then went back up to 9,000 feet. I was in the middle of a forrest by myself in China running on this spectacular trail. I stopped so many times just to soak it all in. I couldn't believe where I was, and what I was doing. I instantly fell in love with China. Who knew I would come back as many times as I have.

It's a good life….