Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Five: Morning Practice

With more time on my hands I have been working on quite a bit. I have established a morning practice that is geared 100% to getting fired up.

  1. Cold Shower - I roll out of bed, brush my teeth and jump into a cold shower. My entire body and mind come alive. 
  2. I drink a glass of water then a glass of Branched Chain Amino Acids. 
  3. Then I make coffee. If it's a workout day then it's Bullet Proof coffee if not then normal.
  4. I read to learn. Typically it's a book about finance or mind/body improvement. 
  5. I take the dog for a walk. On the walk I do 5 minutes of deep fast breathing,5 minutes of gratitude (out loud) and 5 minutes of positive self talk. 
This process starts at 5:10 and is done by 6:15. At this point I am focused, relaxed and ready to attack the day. 

What's your morning routine?

It's a good life....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The One Thing that Worked

I was on a long run with a buddy the other day. He's a father of a six year old boy. They will not have another child. He asked me what  I thought was the one thing I've told Marco (an only child) that had the biggest impact on him.

Regularly I feel like I talk in circles with our son.
Regularly I feel like he doesn't hear me or that I'm doing it all wrong.

But this reminds me daily that maybe we have done it right.

We made a decision that is so counter intuitive as a parent or at least is counter intuitive to me at times. Kids are going to explode. They need to break down and have their moments, get mad, throw tantrums etc. We made the decision that we wanted those breakdowns to occur at home where he was safe. We embrace the tantrums. As a teenager they get a bit louder and a bit hairy from time to to time. He never gets in trouble for the tantrum. He simply gets his time to let it all out and then we try to give him his space. It's hard when the tantrum is directed at us for something we did or did not do but I've grown accustomed to it.

It's counter intuitive because the home is supposed to be the quiet zone. Outside is loud and crazy and home should be quiet and calm. Our house is anything but quiet.

At the same time we have taught him or more preached to him how to act outside our house. Most importantly we talk about how to treat others. He generally brushes these discussions off like "yeah right that's how the world works." Or talks about others with annoyance and disdain.

It doesn't matter who we talk to or where we go, and what we observe. The kid that is so annoying is getting full attention from our son. The parents all tell us he is "The nicest boy". The coach simply nods to me that all is good. The teachers love him.

It's important for me to remember that he's going to throw tantrums. If he can't throw them at home he's going to throw them outside. We see it all the time but it's not usually in the form of a tantrum but in the form of aggression.

There are instances with the Slam of a door that I just want to run up stairs open that door and give him a strong peace of my mind. That slamming doors is not how we act. That your Civil Air Patrol voice does not belong in our house. That you treat your mother with the respect she deserves.

Those instances are always washed away when we see him do something like he did on Saturday. He had the race of his life but his running partner did not. All seasib the running partner was on track to make the state meet easily. Then over the last two weeks something happened and it came unraveled. Marco passed his teammate 1/2 way through the CIF Championship and beat him by a large margin. When Marco saw his buddy cross the line and collapse, Marco ran up to him, gave him a hug and then proceeded to remove the chip from his shoe. In that instant nothing else mattered to Marco but taking care of his buddy.

It's a good life....

Monday, November 24, 2014

Success - A lesson in Opening Eyes

The start - 84+ runners lined up across the start line. That's 14 6-man teams. This is the Championship course used in the Footlocker National Championships. It's roped off the way a championship should be roped off. There is a nervous energy as the 84 boys (ages 14-18) line up. The starter calls them to the line and holds them. It seems like a long time to us watching and the the runners it was an eternity. They all begin to lean, Bam the gun goes off. Both Marco and his running mate slip on the wet grass needing their hands to keep from falling flat.

84 runners sprint off the line up over the small hill and then quickly funnel into the dog leg loop. It's important to get out quick or else you are caught in the loop. Marco comes through the dog loop in the lead back of 30 runners. The eventual winner is already setting pace 400 meters into the race. Around the pool and then down the hill to the technical section of the course. Marco is composed and running tight with a group of 5-6 runners.

At the 1 mile mark it's straight up the first of two trips on Upas Street. Off the hill and it's rolling back to the start finish. Marco is in 20th place at the half way point and a gap to 19th is forming. This has been his MO for the last couple races. Back down the dog leg, around the pool and he's holding steady.

He runs by my friend and uber coach Greg. Greg knows Marco well and yells to him to catch the boys in front on the downhill. Back up Upas they go and then I see from a long distance Marco hitting the down hill like he was doing a downhill mountain bike race. No breaks and charging he goes. He catches the two boys by the bottom and then turns on the jets. He's chasing hard.

To finish this 3.1 mile course you have cross the street and go straight up the start hill. At the start it's a mere nuisance. At the end of the first lap it's just another hill on this tough course. At the end thought it looks like a wall. Marco hits the bottom of the hill in 17th place but is looking gassed. He's muscling up and over and it's easy to tell that he's done. He lets one runner pass him as they race to the finish.

18th this year 36th last year.
40 seconds faster this year.
He's the first runner at SDA to medal in CIF in two years and only the second over the last 4 years.

At the Mary and I get to the finish corral just after he crosses the line and see him talking to his math teacher. The math teacher who only days earlier says he expects struggling students to seek him out. (that was not a good meeting). But here is the math teacher giving our son a high five. He says "I didn't know you were a runner" Eyes wide open to the success of a runner. The math teacher was at the race to watch his daughters who are at the other high school in town run. He saw Marco running and ran to greet him at the finish.

Next up was the top runner in San Diego. He walks up to Marco and shakes his hand. He had won his race just 30 minutes before and now he was there acknowledging the effort Marco put forward.

On to the awards where the top 20 are called out to receive their medal and recognition. The race was absolutely stacked. In the team competition there were 4 teams with in a very small number of points. They were all bunched at the front. The rules are 3 teams qualify and then the next 5 racers not on a team qualify. The only stipulation for them is they have to finish in the top 14. Marco was the 5th non team qualifying member across the line but because he was 18th he doesn't get to go. But his eyes were opened for the future. It's like a switch went on. Who knows where it leads but clearly success is an eye opener.

It's a good life.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nothing to Lose

It's early Saturday morning CIF cross country day. The stakes are this: the best 2-3 teams will qualify to move on to the state meet next week. The next 5 best runners (not on a qualifying team) who place in the top 15 also go to state.

Marco is not on a Strong Team.

He has the talent to be one of the 5. This is true of about 10 runners.

I was thinking about words of wisdom and I came up with:

"You have nothing to lose"

But then I tried to rationalize why.

I find myself often thinking about what I have to lose with a decision. Way too much time. I really have nothing to lose. My family is tight and secure. Everything else is not a need it's a want and losing it would be hard but can be replaced.

My advice to Marco: You have reached more in running than most could ever dream of. If running ended today, you would end it as being one of the best runners in the county over the last 7 years.

Today is going to hurt like no other race ever: Love the pain, wrap your arms around it, cherish it:

You have nothing to lose........

It's a good life...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Racing Flats and Trucks

Two stories for today. 

Marco was 9 years old. We flew from Germany to NYC for the NYC Marathon and the men's Olympic Marathon Trials. The day of the Trials was cold and windy. Marco was tired from the travel and he really didn't want to be at another race. At that race Ryan Shay collapsed and passed away at the start. He was a young man in his prime and was a favorite to qualify for the Olympics. 

Today Marco runs in flats called the Saucony Shay. He has vivid memories of that day. He knows Ryan Hall won, he knows Ryan Shay passed away it's why he runs in the flats. 

There is a competition in Southern California about who can have the cooler brand vehicle. I think this one is really cool. 361 is a brand you will hear about very soon. For runners it will start in the next 8 or so months. I love the people behind the brand. I've worked closely with them for many years and I'm really excited to watch them flourish.
It's a good life....

Friday, November 14, 2014

Five for Friday: Running in the Cold

My calendar told me I should be in Germany today. It still has much of the Zoot things on it. Right now I'd be in Germany at a Sales Meeting. I don't miss the work leading up to the sales meeting. I miss is getting up early each morning to run with my friend Marcus. I couldn't get people from the Zoot California office to run early but Marcus was ready to run any time and 6am was our time when we were together. I miss that. We didn't care what the weather was like outside, we were running. Today there are tips all over the internet about running in cold. I'll just add in what I do.

  1. Shorts stay on to 35F. Below that I put on tights. 
  2. Down to say 15F I can run in a long sleeve non thermal top with a running wind jacket, tights, gloves (mittens are best) and a hat. 
  3. Below 15F I add a layer to my top, usually just a thermal top. I also add a scarf of some kind to keep my neck and face warm. 
  4. Always start your run into the wind. I've run in below zero weather often and as long as I start into the wind I finish warm. 
  5. Pick up the pace. Hard running takes your mind off everything. You won't think it's cold when you are running hard. 
Last year a friend of a friend rode his bike to work every day. He lives in Chicago and if you know what the Chicago weather was like last year you might consider him crazy. He simply just put his mind to it. 

I also have to laugh just a bit. Most of my running is right here in Cardiff, CA. My biggest winter running decision is usually shirt or skin. 

It's a good life....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Run Test #1 2015

Today was run test day. Only two days after a bike test. Max effort again. I'm working hard at starting a business and sleep has been tough. It's not because of stress though it's because of sensory overload from the work. I'll take it because I own it.

I woke up and did what I've done now for two weeks. I jumped into a cold shower. Bam! I was awake and ready to go. I planned to head out at 7:30 after Marco left for school. I got a text from my buddy Andrew. He wanted to join but could not do it until after 8. I did a 15 minute warm up met Andrew and then did another 15 minute warm up.

The test was 5K at red line. It started off smooth, I hit some rough patches and finished sluggish. It was great to have Andrew there. It was a hard effort for him but not red line. He kept pace with me and kept me motivated.

Avg. HR 158
Shoes: Saucony Triumph ISO

I'll take that in November. 8 weeks from now I'll do it again.

It's a good life....

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let the Testing Begin

People always ask me "What are you training for?" My answer is always the same, "For the rest of my life".  But that is only half true. I need motivation just like anyone. I'm super competitive so generally I don't get motivated until I have a race or a few races on the calendar. Even then like the last couple years I may not actually be motivated to train for the races.

I decided to break my workout life into small manageable chunks. Right now I'm looking out 14 weeks. That's as far as I can think. Today started the 14 weeks and today started with a test on the bike. 40 minutes at red line. I used my new favorite app. Wahoo fitness app. Those of you in San Diego will recognize the map. It's the first time I've ever done a test there and I'm convinced it's the best place in the world. No wonder Ironman World Champion Luc Van Lierde did his long rides up to 120 miles behind a scooter on this island.

My results are my results. I have no idea how they stack up. My HR was 155. In 8 weeks or so I'll do this again. My goal is to be faster at the same HR. That's something I can work towards. 

It's a good life....

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Running Shoes in Pictures

I've been shopping. It's all part of a master plan to be unveiled soon. I thought I'd share some of the fun I'm having. There are things to be said about every one of these pictures but I'll save that for a future date. 

It's a good life....

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Running Shoe Business

There are a few things that cause frustration in running.
  1. You develop a nagging injury that just won't go away. 
  2. You take a break from running and struggle to get back in shape
  3. You find a shoe that you love only to have the brand change it on you

This post is about #3 and feel comfortable knowing that we’ve all been through this. I was a Nike Air Pegasus guy. For a number of years I would just rotate in a new pair and my running would continue on. Then one day Nike stopped making the Air Pegasus. They didn’t change it they simply stopped making it. I didn’t make enough money to test and find a new shoe. I had to buy what I could afford and hope that it worked. That was a dark time in my running because it was really hard to find a perfect match like that Pegasus. That was so long ago that Nike got smart 15 years ago and brought the Pegasus back. 

Fast forward a good number of years and I was in position to do the same thing to a great deal of runners. I was working at Adidas in Germany far away from you the end consumer. The lead Developer had bad news for me, the mold for the SuperNova Classic was finished. The mold could not handle any more production, it was too worn out. We or I had a choice, open new molds on that existing shoe or create a new shoe. Molds are the most expensive part of building a running shoe. The revenue numbers on the SN Classic (All in the USA) had been dwindling by a large amount year over year. Part of it was that the shoe was starting to look old in design but the real truth was that it was one of a kind when it first came out and in 2008 there were plenty of copycat shoes on the market taking market share. The decision from a business sense was easy, let’s make a new shoe. The decision from my heart tore at me for quite some time. I remembered back to that Air Pegasus and knew I was creating some frustration in the running world. The shoe we created SuperNova Adapt (also discontinued after I was gone) was a really good shoe but it was no SuperNova Classic. Every once in a while I run into someone who loved the Classic or is actually still running in a pair after stocking up and I find myself begging for forgiveness with a smile on my face.

There are a number of influences that cause brands to change your shoes.

Altruistically brands are in business to help runners but let’s face it, shoes are money makers and when your favorite shoe isn’t making money or isn’t making as much money as it should be making, it’s going to change. Often times this is also where shoes get dropped out of the line.

The general thought process is shoes are changed to improve a current problem in the shoe. I’ll use an example here. In 2014 Mizuno introduced the Wave Rider 17 to much fan fanfare. This was supposed to be the lighter faster Wave Rider. One high powered retail buyer said to me “The Wave Rider 17 is the best Wave Rider yet”. When it finally came out runners complained. Yes, it was lighter but it was physically harder in the forefoot and at least one runner said “they made a Wave Precision” which was a lightweight performance running shoe built for runners who like to go fast. I’m not 100% sure what they saw in the Wave Rider 16 that needed to be changed but the Wave Rider 17 was too much of a change. Now look at the Wave Rider 18. They stiffened the forefoot and balanced the heel but the end result is still not what the Wave Rider once was. It was the standard by which many neutral shoes were created and today it’s just another shoe on the wall.  On review I read on the new Wave Rider summed it up "Get used to hearing yourself run, the outsole is so hard it makes noise all the time" 

Trends in the Market  
There have been two recent trends in the market that are having a huge impact on the entire market. The first major trend was minimalism. The minimalist trend caused shoe companies to change midsole drop, upper construction, and a great deal more. As an example, Saucony changed the Triumph (I believe it was the Triumph 8) and a number of other shoes from a 12mm heel to toe drop to 8mm heel to toe drop. There were probably a few runners that felt that change was drastic.  At the same time because of minimalism and feedback from one of their athletes Saucony created the Kinvara and that’s been nothing but good for Saucony and runners.

The latest trend affecting the shoe market is Maximalism or more pointed, Hoka. The market is reacting and reacting quickly. Brooks quickly changed the Trance to the Transcend, New Balance introduced Freshfoam and Asics in 2015 is coming out with a Maximalism shoe in the 33 line of shoes.

This is probably the leading reason shoe brands change shoes. They are all watching each other and today more than ever, competition is leading the way and causing you the runner the most confusion. The leader in innovation nobody really ever talks about any more is Nike. They lead in midsole creation, upper construction and much more. Generally speaking if you want to know what Asics, Brooks, Saucony and others are going to be doing next year, look at what Nike is doing this year. The Lunar Glide is a perfect example. It’s a stability shoe that looks and feels very much like a neutral shoe. Nobody wanted to change their current shoes to match the Lunar Glide so they created new shoes. Asics Super J 33, Hoka Constant and quite a few other shoes now incorporate a construction much like the Lunar Glide. Expect this trend to continue.

My issue in all of this is that there seems to be a component missing, the runner. I feel like the business of running shoes is more about staying on trend and beating the competition than it is about helping runners find their best running. I’ll probably hear it from someone deep in a shoe company challenge this comment but I’ve been there. I’ve been in meetings where the runner is never mentioned.

I only see this getting worse. With the consolidation of retailers and the abundance of product these things are only go to become more intense. 

The good thing is this keeps me working. 

It's a good life...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kona 2014 Running Shoe Count

On October 11,2014 there was a race, the Ironman World Championships on the Kona Coast of Hawaii. On this day a few friends from Newton and I counted 95% of the shoes worn by the athletes. Below is my view of running shoes and athletes beyond the count itself.

The Ranking

  1. Asics - 17.7%
  2. Saucony - 14.5%
  3. Newton - 10.7%
  4. Brooks - 10.3%
  5. adidas - 6.9%
  6. Hoka - 6.0%
  7. Mizuno - 5.9%
  8. Zoot - 5.9%
  9. Nike - 5.0%
  10. On - 4.6%
  11. New Balance - 3.7%
  12. Others - 2.4%
  13. Kswiss - 2.3%
  14. Pearl Izumi - 1.7%
  15. Sketchers - 1.7%

Quick View
  1. The big global brands pull their weight. Asics, Saucony, Brooks, adidas, Mizuno, Nike and New Balance - Their rank is somewhat attributed to how much they spend on the sport of triathlon as well as how they rank at running stores around the world. They are trusted brands, they have perfect fit for the most part and they have been around the longest. When I say global they are available in virtually every country in every retailer store where runners shop. 
  2. Brands who use Triathlon as their entry into running shoes are also well supported, Newton, Hoka (thanks to a partnership with and Zoot specifically. 
  3. There is someone at Nike who looks at this count and gets mad that they are not further up the count. But that doesn't last very long after the results of the Lunar Glide or Free sales numbers come in. Nike is the largest running shoe brand in the world and they are billions of dollars larger than the next brand. 
  4. The "big" brand missing from this list is Altra. For the amount of money they spend on TV they should show up bigger at this race but they don't. Less than 10 people ran in Altra. 
Individual Shoes that Stood Out

  1.  Saucony Kinvara - It's by far the #1 shoe in Kona and that is now two years in a row. It's light, it fits most feet and it is the smoothest ride in running. Saucony does a good job on colors and for this race they release a Kona special edition model which goes over well. 
  2. Brooks Racer ST - This is a theory of mine on why. Before the Kinvara the #1 shoe was the Asics DS Trainer followed closely by the Asics Gel Noosa. But neither of the Asics are as good as they once were. I believe the athlete who would have gone with the Asics has found the Brooks Racer ST. 
  3. Newton Distance Elite - Newton has got to be happy with the results of the count and this shoe in particular. This shoe combined with a Ironman edition of the shoe are far and away their most popular shoes on course. I believe it was this athlete they were thinking of when they built the shoe. 
  4. adidas Energy Boost - In previous years the majority of adidas product was their very popular racing flats. Those are still there but the Energy Boost has become their go to shoe for runners of all kinds including those racing in Kona. It's soft and flat to the ground. 
  5. Hoka Clifton and Huaka - Both of these shoes came out in July and have been adopted quickly but runners and Triathletes. They are both much lighter than previous Hoka shoes and they both act closer to a regular running shoe still providing the maximal cushioning that Hoka is known for. 
The Trends in Running that Show up in Kona
  1. Constant Ground Contact - The biggest trend in running and you see it in the Saucony Kinvara, adidas Energy Boost and both Hoka shoes is that the shoes are flat to the ground one piece midsoles. If you look at the Asics Gel Nimbus there are 4 distinct layers in the midsole. The top layer close to your foot, The Midfoot shank (Trustic System) that is under the arch of the shoe and is used to support the foot through transition. The bottom layer of foam closest to the ground. Put the top layer, trustic system and bottom layer together and you have the midsole that cushions and supports your foot. The final layer is the thick outersole for durability. This is what running shoes have been for almost 30 years. The new trend is simplification. Using new foam technology, shoes like the Kinvara, Energy Boost and Hoka are using one piece of foam, with very little rubber. You get the midfoot support from the ground and you get an increadibly light and smooth feel. This trend has been building steam and it's about to explode. You'll see more and more shoes built this way. 
  2. Maximalizm - Hoka for sure is driving this. Running hurts and taking the shock and pain away is a good thing for a large number of runners. Hoka does that. But they are not alone. Of the 10 pairs of Altra, 8 of them were Maximal. Almost all of the Sketchers were Maximal. In 2015 Asics will introduce the 33 M which will bring Maximal ride with a classic Asics Fit. We should see Maximal as a category grow in Kona next year. Will Hoka be the driver, yes but they will not be the only game in town. 
  3. Racing Flats are not dead - Kona is the World Championships and probably has more racing flats as a percentage the any Marathon in the world. Low to the ground go fast racing flats from every brand show up on this race course. My favorite was a guy in close to 1700th place (there were just over 1900 finishers) who had a Nike Mayfly on his foot.  This man was going to run a 5-6 hour marathon and do it in a 5 oz shoe. I love that! 
The Ironman run course Kona is like no other run on the planet. There are hotter marathons and their are hillier marathons. But there is not one hotter or hillier after 112 miles on the bike in the same heat and with bigger hills. Athletes get off the bike trashed at noon or later and then put on their running shoes for the marathon. Shoe choice is about comfort more than anything. The next time you are shoe shopping try one of the shoes highlighted above.  If they are good for Kona they are good for everyone. 

It's a good life....