Monday, October 21, 2019

Running is Beautiful!

The lengthy debate revolving the shoes Kipchoge ran in last weekend set me back. There were calls to ban the Vapor Fly Next %, to strip the medals off the podium finishers in the 2016 Olympic marathon who wore prototype Vapor Flys and then there was Ryan Hall the gifted America runner who weighed in on the subject. The shoes Kipchoge wore to break 2 hours in a marathon were “What If” shoes. The entire event was staged to see if a runner good actually break a barrier. There were no rules except one. He had to cover 26.2 miles or 42 Kilometers. 2 years ago he came close. This year he did it. That’s the only story we need to know. A human being can run under 2 hours for the marathon. There is no point of staging another event like this. It’s done and we can move on. Now we sit and watch as the actual world record starts to creep down towards that barrier. It will do that and it will be rather quick.

Running Is Beautiful 
Kipchoge said he thought running could help make the world beautiful. I want to just turn it around and say running is beautiful. I have two stories from the weekend.

Saturday - I really didn’t want to run. I was tired, my knee hurt and mentally I simply was not prepared to run. I went to one of my usual parking spots for running and decided to just give it a try. The first 20 minutes sucked. Nothing felt good and I was simply bored. Just then I crested a hill and there was the sunrise. It hit me, and woke me up. The run started to feel effortless. By 30 minutes I was floating over the trail. The trails were quite, the birds were singing and the sun felt warm. That run took me 90 minutes to complete. I could have easily added on to the run, it felt that good. Running just the process of getting out the door can change a dark mood into a bright mood. It can turn a dark day into a bright day. It’s a beautifully thing.

Sunday - It was time for my wife to run. Her last long run (2 hours) before her 50K next weekend. My wife hates snakes. It’s a true phobia. She won’t touch dirt if she doesn’t have to. Two weekends ago on her Saturday run she tripped on some cable that had been left in the street by some construction workers. Down she went landing on her right knee. Local Life Guards cleaned he wound and drove her home. She was crushed. All week she was on the stair climber and bike just trying to maintain some fitness. She felt ok to run on a treadmill on Friday and Saturday but she was determined to get outside for 2 hours on Sunday. She thought running on trails would be good but there’s that snake thing. I told her I would lead her though the trails on my mountain bike. She did the run and came home very excited. She could feel her knee but it didn’t hurt. She’s now confident again that she’ll finish her 50K. Running is beautiful!

It’s a good life.......

Monday, October 14, 2019

Running To Make the World Beautiful

This was the the weekend to be a runner.

Eilud Kipchoge just after running an astonishing 1:59:40 he said “We can make this world beautiful by running”

It’s impossible to know what’s going through his mind when he says something like that. There is so much in this world that is ugly right now but let’s just leave it to the running world for a moment. Alberto Salazar stole the headlines last week and like I said it’s not over. More on that in a moment. But maybe Kipchoge is simply saying let’s take over the headlines with beautiful running. Listening to him for years now I’m quite confident he is actually talking about the World and not the running world. I love that about this man.

Brigid Kosgei smashed the World Record for the marathon yesterday in Chicago. She’s was clearly the favorite going into the race and there was lots of talk of her running fast. The story goes that she negotiated with her pacers a 2:17 marathon pace. At the start line she was feeling good and requested 2:16 pace. In the early miles she kept telling the pacers to pick it up and eventually she did what she did, smashed the world record set 16 years ago by Paula Radcliff. 2:14:04. Was she inspired by Kipchoge?

Also in Chicago there were three runners with deep ties to Alberto Salazar. Just as an aside I’ve met and talked to all three. Mo Farah the 2 time Olympic Champion, Galen Rupp, the best American Marathoner and Jordan Hasay one of the best women marathoners from the USA. All three were either presently being coached or previously coached by Salazar. All three took a borage of questions from the media about their time with Salazar. All three had terrible races. Jordan dropped out early. Galen dropped out at 23 miles. Mo finished but just under 2:09. The winner of the race went 2:05:xx and he had to sprint to win so Mo wasn’t a factor in the race at all. Mo won Chicago last year.

Ironman World Championships
You ride for show and run for dough. It’s not that easy of course because the ride is in hot and windy conditions and then the run is simply unfathomable. This year however it was the run that made the race. The highlights;

  1. Jan Frodeno ran 2:42:02 to set the new best time in Kona of 7:51:19. He had the mojo the entire day. In total control from the swim. 
  2. Ben Hoffman my friend from my Zoot days ran 2:43:08. He simply ran out of real estate. He finished 4th. 
  3. Annie Haug - She ran 2:51: 07 to win her first Ironman World Championship. 

Running Shoes
The overriding subject about this weekend is running shoes. Are the shoes too much of an advantage? 

Kipchoge had custom Nike Vapor Fly’s. Kosgei wore the Vapor Fly Next%. The top 3 women in Kona wore the Vapor Fly Next %. Jan Frodeno had a yet to be released Meta Ride Racer from Asics. Tim O’Donnell and Sebastian Kienle had carbon plated shoes from their sponsors Hoka One One and New Balance and then Ben Hoffman had the Vapor Fly Next % on his feet. 

There are many calling for the shoes to be banned but there is no chance that will happen. The shoes are too important to the general runner. I see those shoes worn by 5 hour marathoners. As they say, “that cat has left the building”. The Vapor Fly Next % and all the shoes from the other brands that are either in the market or about to be in the market are here to stay. It’s a great day in running shoes!

Monday, October 7, 2019

My Intersection with Alberto Salazar

As most of you know I spent 12 years working at Road Runner Sports. During that time I was afforded the opportunity to build good relationships with many in the running and running shoe world. One of those relationships was with a running hero of mine, Alberto Salazar. The first time I met him he came to RRS for a Nike event with our very large sales staff. I was asked to give him a tour of our facility which was one of my favorite things to do. He was a regular customer of ours and it was fun to show him where his packages were put together. He bought some training/recovery things from us that Nike didn’t make or that he couldn’t buy in Portland.

Not long after that we took a trip to Portland to visit the Nike Campus. It was his time to give us a tour. We spent the day with Nike product team and either before or after dinner we drove out to the Altitude house. By this time Alberto was starting to have some success coaching runners. Through was is today the NOP (Nike Oregon Project) he bought a house. He had each bedroom in the house set a different altitudes. He prescribed for his athletes which altitude they should be sleeping in. The idea was the well known method of sleep high, train low. An athlete slept anywhere from 5,000 feet elevation to 10,000 feet elevation. These were not altitude tents these were completely sealed rooms.

As we walked into the kitchen we saw a runner running on a treadmill that was submerged in the pool in the back yard. Alberto walked us out and introduced us to Galen Rupp who was I believe a Junior in High School at the time. Galen was dealing with an injury and was just coming back to running. The treadmill in the pool took the pounding away. Galen was running 12 miles that night. After his run we spent a good while talking to Galen in the kitchen.

These three stories tell us quite a bit of what we are hearing today. The purchases from RRS were for his athletes to help them recover from the training. The altitude house was created because the competition was living in Eldoret, Kenya situated at 5,000 feet above sea level. The treadmill in the pool was the precursor to the treadmills today that suspend you so that maybe you are running with only 50% of your body weight at foot impact. Alberto from day 1 was constantly looking for that edge that let his runners recover better so they could push harder during training. It’s fairly simple to understand.

There is a story from today where one of the doping agencies is quoted saying “no coach in our history has ever called us so much to make sure he was doing things legally”. That very fine edge of just being on the right side of the doping line. At some point during all of this according to the recent ban, Albert crossed the line and went from the right side to the wrong side. It’s a really sad tale for the sport of running. It’s a story we’ve seen too much. Some success breeds the need for more success. The IAAF (Track and Field) and the UCI (Cycling)  are full of these stories.

This is not over. The fall out of this one event this past week will go on for years. Mo Farah and Galen Rupp went 1-2 in the Olympic 10,000 in London. They were training partners working with Alberto. This week at the World Championships Sifan Hassan set the track on fire. On day one she won the 10,000 covering the last 1500 meters in under 4 minutes. To put that into perspective only 9 women this year had run the 1500 in under 4 minutes. Then this past Saturday after two qualifying rounds of the 1500 Hassan pulled 8 runners under 4 minutes. She won the 1500 in an astonishing 3:51.95. The 10,000/1500 double is unthinkable. The two races are completely different disciplines and then there are the qualifying rounds of the 1500 to deal with. That’s 4 races in less than a week. On the surface we should celebrate the greatness but Hassan is part of the NOP. There is a forever could over her double this week.

This is just another reason to respect performance but not worship. I met my running hero only to be disappointed. I once road bikes and had dinner with Lance. At the time he was a brash, gifted athlete on his first continental cycling team. He was just a guy. Many in the world hero worshiped him and look how that ended.

Big Weekend
I wrote my wife’s training program on a single sheet of paper. She signed up for the Marine Corps 50K which takes place at the end of October as part of the Marine Corps Marathon. In August she burned her foot really badly while she was off volunteering in Lebanon. She had to take a great deal of time off running. Her only request was to have at least one run that was 4 hours. She wanted the confidence. I built her plan to load up running on the weekends. Last weekend she had a 1 hour run on Friday, a 1 1/2 hour run on Saturday and 4 Hours on Sunday. She killed it. She ran 22 miles on Sunday in that 4 hours. She’s still nervous about making the cut off. Oh the coach-athlete relationship.

It’s a good life.....

Monday, September 30, 2019

Nike Vapor Fly 4% Flyknit and Next %

What a week in endurance sports. It’s championship season and the athletes are putting on a show. The cycling world championships did not disappoint and the track and field world championships are just getting started. The best thing all week was Sunday in the Berlin Marathon.

Keneisa Bekele is the most dominant runner we have ever seen. 11 times he won the World Cross Country Championship. He still holds the World Record for the 50000 and 10000 on the track. The one place where he struggled if you can call it that is the marathon. He had run very fast and won a few races but he ran into the greatest marathoner we’ve ever seen in Kipchoge and it affected his running. He changed all of that in one race on Sunday. Nobody expected a world record type day. Kipchoge wasn’t racing and nobody in the field was close to 2:02 on paper. The opening stages of the marathon proved that out. At 25K into the race Bekele and Berhanu Legese were on 2:02 pace not world record pace. Things changed from there. Legese ran 14:09 between 30 and 35K putting a gap on Bekele. Bekele ran 14:20 for that same 5K which was his fastest of the race but put him behind. Bekele wasn’t done, he ran 14:15 from 35 to 40k passing Legese and all of the sudden he was on world record pace. It was a beautiful thing to watch, 2:01:41! Two seconds off the World Record. Watch it below.

The women’s race was something special too! It came down to a sprint through the Brandenburg Gate but the camera work was terrible. Ashete Bekere won in 2:20:14, Mare Dibaba was second in 2:20:21.

As I said, the cycling world championships were simply fun to watch. Team USA shined the entire week. You can read all about them at The conditions on Sunday for the professional men were down right extreme. Cold rain might be the worst conditions to ride a bike in. By the end of the race there were only 20 or so who actually finished. If you aren't going to win and you don't have a teammate who might win there is no point suffering in those conditions.

My Weekend
I raced twice this weekend.

Race #1 - Crazy 8's 5K
The race was held in the park where a young runner named Chelsea King was abducted, raped and killed. A week or 2 after that happened 3,000 people showed up to finish Chelsea's run. It had been almost 10 years since that day and almost 10 years since I had been back in that park. I had to catch my breath as I started my warm up.
This was the 3rd cross country race for me this year. The first 2 were solid but I was finishing behind people I thought I should be able to beat. Saturday the race came together well for me and I finished ahead of everyone I thought I should. I wore the Reebok Float Ride Fast a shoe built with a Pbax midsole with a really good outsole on grass and hard pack sand. The shoes worked great.

Race #2 - Mission Bay Triathlon
My first and only triathlon for the year. I chose the sprint distance which was a 500m swim, 17K bike and 5K run. The swim felt comfortable. I swam hard and my swim fitness responded. Coming out of the water I realized I had forgotten how tough that parking lot is. My feet were not liking the surface. The race is such that you have to leave transition in the morning by 6:30. My race didn't start until 8:10. I run up to my bike surprised that someone has set their bike on top of all my stuff and set up his towel and shoes in front of his bike and mine. I got my wetsuit off easy put my helmet on and started wheeling my bike out. Oops, forgot my shoes were not attached to the pedals. Back to the rack put shoes on then wheeled my bike out. It took me about a minute to catch my breath on the bike but then I found a rhythm. I passed some guys in my age group and some guys passed me. The bike was over before I knew it. Off the bike barefoot my feet were still hurting from the first transition. They liked the second even worse. Get to my running shoes and the guy has thrown his wetsuit over my shoes. Whatever, I struggle to put my shoes on but finally get them on. The run is on concreate the entire way. I thought after my hard race the day before this one would hurt. It didn't, in fact it felt great. I was flying and passing lot's of athletes. I think I passed 4 in my age group. I finished 40th overall and 4th in my age group. A good solid hour of racing. The reason why my legs didn't hurt is the Nike Vapor Fly 4%. It has the same midsole material as the Reebok with the carbon plate in the forefoot added in. It's the shoe that Bekele used in Berlin. I felt at the finish that I could keep going at the same pace I was running. It's not that I didn't push hard enough because I was pushing the run hard. It's simply that my legs didn't hurt.

I knew that about the Nike shoes. Most runners say this about the shoe "I don't know if I am running faster in the shoes but I know I'm not beat up like I would be". I had done one run in the Vapor Fly's. I didn't feel it then buy I do today. My legs do not hurt!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Hiking in Place of Running

On December 1st this year I’m signed up for an end of the year 50K trail race. On Friday I did one of my key workouts leading up to the race. I’m not “training” for the 50K I am simply preparing my body to have a good day. So, Friday a friend and I drove out to our local mountains and did a 5 hour hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was all done between 4,500 and 5,000 feet of elevation. The goal was simply to put time on the feet. We were home by 12:30 in the afternoon and in general I felt really good. Nothing was aching, I wasn’t starving and I think I did the hydration correctly.
On Sunday we ran on our local trails. The goal was to find as many hills as we could to run up and down. My biggest issue in the 50K will be the down hills. They will beat me up. Right now I’m working on building some resilience in my legs by running down hill. Our run covered 9 miles and we climbed and descended 1,l00 feet on really soft wood chip trails. We had 3 climbs just over 10 minutes in length and a bunch of shorter ones. The run felt outstanding and gave me really good confidence from the hike on Friday. 90 minutes of running doesn’t seem too long after 5 hours on the feet two days before. 

Looking forward the next couple weeks from a sport perspective. This week are the UCI Cycling World Championships from Yorkshire, England. Next week it’s the IAAF Track and Field World Championships from Doha. 3 Weeks from now is the Ironman World Championship and the Chicago Marathon. 

The hype leading in the the Ironman World Championships is growing. Probably the biggest event leading into this year happened on Saturday. Cam Wurf destroyed the field at Ironman Italy. The most glaring figure is his 2:45 marathon. His task is quite simple in Kona. Swim well, ride to the front by Hawi and then ride away on the way back. . Finally he needs to run strong from the start. He doesn’t have to run 2:45 but it wouldn’t hurt to run 2:45 for a really long time putting pressure on every body behind him. One thing for sure the conditions won’t be overcast,windless and cool like last year. The windier it is the more it favors the really strong cyclists which should be good for Cam.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A New World Record

This guy in the picture picked up triathlon roughly a year ago. He did his first races this year and qualified for the 70.3 Worlds next year. His running form is nothing to love but his determination is. He’s running under 1:30 off the bike for 13.1 miles. That’s darn good!

This brings us to the World Record set Saturday in Copenhagen. 58:01!!!!!!!!! Geoffrey Kamworor ran 13.1 miles or 21K kind of really fast. Simply amazing. Soon Kipchoge will attempt to run under 2 hours for the marathon. As soon as he does this, watch how many others do it.

Primoz Roglic won the Vuelta Espana. He did it in methodical convincing fashion. He took the lead and the simply defended his lead convincingly. All the others were simply racing for the podium. On Saturday in miserable conditions his Slovenian countryman crushed the field in the mountains to win and secure 3rd place overall. What’s amazing is Tadej Pogocar  20 years old. That’s one year younger than my son. He’s got a huge career ahead of him.

Listening - I’ll start with the Science of Sport Podcast - Last week they did a podcast on all of the ways athletes cheat to win. It was a fascinating listen but what made me laugh in jest was the listing they gave. 7 things you must do if you want to cheat successfully.

  1. Never Take a Test You Can’t Pass
  2. Have Money 
  3. Have Friends in High Places
  4. Own the Narrative
  5. Have Asthma - A Theraputic Use Exemption 
  6. Attack Anyone Who Accuses You
  7. If you are English Speaking - Blame the non-English speaking people “It’s not me it’s them”
In sport we don’t have to look too far to see all seven. Go back to the days of Lance and these are the tactics he used. Now get out of sport and look at the current President of the USA. I’ll let you draw your own opinion. 

The Morning Shake Out was a really serious discussion on eating disorders and other disorders. The two guests, bad ass Spartan Racer, Amelia Boone revealed earlier this summer that she’s been dealing with an eating disorder since she was in high school. Brad Stulberg who has written some really good books and writes for Outside Magazine divulged his own obsessive compulsive problems. 

It really made me think closely about my own compulsive nature. When I did my first Ironman in Kona I worked my rear end off, literally. I was the same height I am now 5’10’’ but I was 129lbs. If you go back a few posts I was 160lbs in June of this year. There were days in the past where that 129lb body was something I really wanted. It’s when I was really fast especially running. I change my “diet” often but more than anything I under ate. Sure I was training heavily but I got really tired eating so I simply didn’t. I know for certain I still lean that way. What I’ve done to help myself out is created an account with My Fitness Pal. I log my food intake on a regular basis and my Strava account is linked to it. I do this to monitor my calorie intake and my macro nutrients. I wish these apps were available 15 years ago. 

It’s a good life........

Monday, September 9, 2019

Training in the Nike Vapor Fly Next%

What a week it’s been personally. On Monday our beloved Chocolate Lab Niki died kind of suddenly. I say kind of because the signs were all there that she was still very weak from her rat poisoning 2 months ago. I didn’t read them too well. I’m happy that I was there with her when she took her last breath. It saddens me at the same time because I couldn’t help her. To make the week even worse, two days later one of the hoses connecting water to our bathroom sink broke flooding our bathroom and bedroom which then flooded the garage below. That made twice that I had to run upstairs to inform my wife of something rather shocking. With the dog I had to wake her up, with the water I had to get her out of the calming bath she was taking. 

Then on Thursday night I boarded a flight to the east coast for work. The 5th Ave Mile was this past weekend and it’s the second time I’ve worked this event. I love this event for a number of reasons and I’ll tell you stories. 

Racing Hard 
The event is broken into wave starts. In each start the runners are racing against equal competitors. The majority are broken up by age group and gender. So, men 40-49 are racing together and women 40-49 are racing together. Over 60 they combine the genders. There is also a media race, a first responders race, then a few invited elite races and then finally the professional race. 

Track Jenny aka Jenny Simpson
She won the race for the 8th time and set a course record in doing so. She so loves running this race and it shows. The community just loves her. 

Nick Willis 
He won a record setting 5th time. In both professional races it’s important to know the course in detail. The road is not flat and not just because there is a hill. The road is crowned in the center. There are manhole covers, subway vents, pot hole repairs and some full on pot holes to navigate. Nick knows all of them. 

Jeff Dengate 
He’s the Editor and Chief at Runner’s World. He’s training for the Chicago Marathon so he had a long run to do. He ran 20 miles before his race then jumped in the the Media Mile. He did so donning the new racing flat from New Balance the Fuel Cell 5280. I was very impressed 

I had a great run on Saturday doing a lap of Central Park. It’s roughly 8 miles round trip from my hotel. I can’t help but to do my job out there when I’m running. I’ll talk a bit later on this but I was blown away by the number of people doing a training run in the Nike Vapor Fly 4% and Vapor Fly Next %. That’s simply a large amount of money being spent on a shoe that simply won’t last too long if you run every day in it. 

The 5th Ave Mile was not the only race this weekend. 

Ironman 70.3 World Championships - Nice France
I had a few friends doing the race but I haven’t had the chance to talk to them about their race. Maybe I’ll hear from them this week. 

On the professional side there were some outstanding performances 

Daniela Ryf - There’s not much else to say, she dominated the race again. Her 5th win in this race and this time by almost 4 minutes. 
Chelsea Sodaro - She finished 4th in her first World Championships. More impressive is that she got off the bike in 10th place and ran herself into 4th. She spent a couple years chasing a professional running career but recently switched to Triathlon. Watch out for this girl. If she can stay healthy she will be a force in the future. 

Gustav Iden - Who? Nobody picked him. Nobody interviewed him or mentioned his name in any lead up to the race. Good thing he didn’t pay attention. He won! 

Alistar Brownlee - He’s the most fun to watch race. He’s won two Olympic Gold Medals racing hard and that’s how he races all the time. 2nd place to him is losing. He’s racing in Kona and will be out of the water early. If he races Kona like he races everything else he will change the tactics that’s for sure. 

Rudy Von Berg - An American who lives in Boulder but who grew up in Nice. The hometown guy does good. Put another way there are three World Champions who finished behind Rudy. 

Vuelta Update 


The Morning Shakeout Podcast - I think Mario is the best interviewer in running right now. He has a great way of really getting his guest to dig deep. This week he talked to another like minded shoe geek Brian Metzler. It was fun to listen to both of them. One thing Brian said that I fully agree with. I’m paraphrasing here. He basically said that all the shoe reviews out there on the web are pointless. I agree and will add this: Every runner is different. Every runner will feel the same shoe differently. There isn’t a singe running shoe reviewer today that pulls that out. Most talk about how the shoe felt and worked for them. I will admit that some of the reviewers are entertaining butout side of that don’t pay attention to what they have to say. You have to find the shoes for yourself and if you need help, go to your local running shoe store. 

I also want to give a shout out to my podcast friend Tawnee Gibson. She’s had the maximum ups and downs with life.  I will admit I stopped listening to her podcast while she dealt with all of this. The Brock and Lucho show just didn’t have the same vibe. Listening to two guys talk about training and racing was simply too much. It’s great that Tawnee is back with Lucho. They make a great pair. More importantly it’s great to hear that spark in Tawnee again. I’ve missed you. 

It’s a good life... 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Things This Week - Fast 800 Meters, Carnivore Diet, Vuelta Espana

It’s a been a rough week trying bring my fitness back up. I took a few days off to get some old man cancer screening done and to rest my aching knee. Looking back I didn’t give my body enough time to recover from the screening. This was the big one where I was given enough sedative to not feel a darn thing. I thought my body was bouncing back fine. My HRV was on the higher end of good and I felt ok. Then Wednesday the HRV crashed and stayed down for 3 days. Did I stop, no I simply slowed it down. Then on Saturday I raced the Balboa 4 Miler cross country race.

The race sucked. I started slow and didn’t really pick it up. Mile 3 took forever or it just seemed to. I essentially jogged in the last mile. I was a full minute slower than last year and finished behind runners I was ahead of last year.

The one thing for sure as you age, your body just does not bounce back like it used to.

What I’m Listening to

Triathlon Taren Podcast - You can find it where you find your podcasts. This week Taren interviewed Pete Jacobs the 2012 Ironman World Champion. That race for Pete was very impressive he went really fast on a hot, windy day. What we didn’t know then but learned later is that Pete was battling chronic fatigue. Turns out the cure he found was a complete Carnivore Diet. He only eats meat, fish, eggs and salt. He’s back to racing and racing well. The interview with Taren it a great listen.

The Science of Sport Podcast - You are looking for the one hosted by Ross Tucker - He’s a brilliant sports scientist and his podcasts don’t answer the questions they simply make you think deeper. So far he’s covered running shoes, Caster Semenya, Riding Clean in Cycling and a few other gems.

What I’m Watching
1. The men’s 800 meter race at the Diamond League Zurich on Thursday night. Not only did Donavan Brazier run fast but he ran brave.

2. The Vuelta Espana - It's a completely different race then the Tour de France. There's less overall pressure on the peloton and because of that and because of the Spanish way of putting on 3 weeks of cycling it's a totally fun race to watch. This year the red jersey (Not yellow) has changed riders and teams on almost every single day. There are four riders favored and close together overall but the way the race is set up it allows for opportunists who simply want that jersey for a day. I watch all my cycling on the NBC sports app. I pay $50 a year and I get most of the cycling in the world. You can also just watch the recap on you tube. Search NBC Sports, Vuelta and you should find the daily updates.

3. UTMB - The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc is the biggest and may be the most important ultra trail race in the world. The champions list is a who's who of the global sport. The main race, 170K (105 miles) was held Friday into Saturday. This event is different in every way compared to a standard ultra trail 100. First off in most ultras you are allowed to use pacers after a certain point in the race. A pacer gives the runner someone to talk to, to feed off and of course to pace off. At UTMB you are on your own. On the flip side at UTMB you run through quaint mountain towns that are packed full of fans. There are points along the way and especially at the finish were the leaders run through Tour de France type crowds. The men's race was won by Pau Capell from Spain. He literally ran away from everyone else at kilometer 1. He lead the entire day. On the women's side American Courtney Dauwalter who dropped out of the Western States 100 after suffering a debilitating injury took the lead midway and never looked back. She finished ahead of all American men but one. She gave a great interview the day after the race:

What I'm Reading - I'm a bit behind in some of my reading. I'm just getting to the Sports Gene by David Epstein. He was on the most recent Science of Sport Podcast talking about his latest book. I thought I should jump on the first one before I read the second.

Finally I leave you with my little gem product for the week. Sports Hydration is simply full of choice and most of it is full of sugar. When I ride or run with hydration other than water I drink Ultima. It's strictly an electrolyte mix, with no sugar. It's relatively cheap too.
That's it for this week. I'm off to the 5th Ave Mile in NYC next weekend where the queen of the road mile Jenny Simpson will attempt to extend her streak. You can watch the race live on NBC Sunday. 

It's a good life...….

Monday, August 26, 2019

Why I Have Returned to Low Carb

I friend asked me a question:


Your question today caught me off guard. “Do you know a lot about nutrition?” Is what you asked. I’ve spent a great deal of effort trying to feel good. The 8 years I spent traveling back and fourth to China 30+ times, flying from Germany to Latin America 5 times a year and then flying from San Diego to Europe 5 times a year. Tore me apart. I couldn’t sleep I couldn’t run with any joy I was a miserable person. At one point I did some blood work and then worked with a nutritionist to right everything that looked wrong on the blood test (High Triglycerides, Low HDL Off the charts Iron).  There is history, my Dad passed away on the golf course from a massive heart attack, my brother passed away from ALS and my Mom suffered with Alzheimer’s until she passed away. The writing was on the wall. I better fix things or I was just going to be like them. They would want me to fix things. The nutritionist put me on the Whole 30 diet which is essentially and elimination diet and had me taking blood glucose measures daily. It worked we balanced my blood sugar and my energy returned to normal. My Triglycerides went down my HDL shot up and we got rid of the Iron the only way you can by giving blood. 

The the important thing I learned is the body doesn’t distinguish between the sources of stress. Doing a long hard bike ride or the stress I had a few years ago of deciding what I wanted to do next for my livelihood is the same to the system.  Under heavy stress your body floods your blood with Cortisol. To counteract the flood of Cortisol your body releases Insulin into the blood. The best way to control the insulin is through the food you eat. The best way to control stress is through a mindfulness practice. I use HRV and a blood glucose monitor to measure my stress and my blood glucose in the morning. 

My stress is really low even when the brands slow pay me. I have a mindfulness practice that works for me. I journal in the morning, do a bit of meditation while I also measure my HRV. In the evening I do Yoga. I learned all of this from Tim Ferriss who famously wrote the 4 Hour Work Week and has one of the best Podcasts on the planet. You can search Tim Ferriss and his morning routine and you’ll get a great mindfulness head start. I also suggest searching his podcast for interviews with Dom Diagastino. 

Recently I noticed some weight gain that didn’t seem natural. I tried training the weight off and that didn’t work. So I went into my library of books and pulled out all the books I own by Mark Sisson. The Primal Blueprint and the Keto Reset are the two I read over again. I looked at my current diet and pulled out everything that was processed. I lost 12 lbs in the span of 6 weeks. The bulk of that 12 pounds was fat. I took a blood test recently and everything is on the positive. 

I’m not writing this to tell you what to do. I’m just trying to share what I did and if you find the urge to take a look at things, give you the resources I used. 

Cliff Harvey one of the pioneers in LCHF says this about the general food pyramid 

The macro nutrients have some basics overall functions: 

Protein - Structure - Easy to understand right? 

Fat - Structure and Fuel - Not as easy given the Fat is Bad mentality. 

Carbs - Fuel 

Wait just a minuted. If Carbs are mostly just fuel and we are told to eat 65% carbs what happens to the fuel we don’t use? 

My issue in the past with this way of eating was to figure out how to incorporate it into the “training” that I do. I put that in quotes because I still train a heck of a lot but I sure don’t race too often. Starting your own business and trying to race don’t mix too well. That said I’m 3 years into the business and the revenue continues to climb so I’m getting to the point where I can think about racing again. So back to the problem. I did Ironman 70.3 Saint George 5 or 6 years ago. I was full into HFLC and feeling good. I did the entire race and didn’t have a single gel packer or swallow of Coke. My race was ok. It wasn’t the fastest ever but it wasn’t slow either. I knew though If I wanted to go longer than 5 hours I was going to need to change. I never figured that out is simply moved on. 

The hardest thing with any way of eating it figuring out how to manage it when on the road. I determined at one point that it was too difficult and that I would cheat while on the road. Well it’s easy to figure out what happened next. My LCHF plan went completely out the window. I didn’t start stuffing my fact with Grains and Sugar but I didn’t not have those either. This brings me to June of this year. I tried training the weight off me and it just didn’t budge. In June I went back to the basics of LCHF. The problem of how to train still stood. 

Recently I signed up for a course taught by Dan Plews on incorporating LCHF into training. Dan raced the Ironman in Kona last year. He won the Amateur race and set the course record for Amateurs. Last year was a really “fast” year. The first time a male pro went under 8 hours on that course. The key thing though is that Dan did using this eating approach. It also helps that he is a University Professor and has executed extensive studies on LCHF as well as HRV for athletes. It was a great course and taught me a huge amount. The basics message is train low. In your day to day training and living stay LCHF and then race high. Use carbohydrates during the race to stay strong throughout the race. Through the LCHF system you simply don’t need the amount of calories pushed through your system. So even though you are going back to using carbohydrates it’s roughly 50g an hour which is way lower than the general guidelines for long distance racing.  

This is all just a start. I’ll update more from time to time. I’m still figuring out the right volume of food and the make up (Macronutrient base) of that food. Like today I had just fat and a bit of protein before a 50 minutes fairly strenuous training ride this morning. I really struggled the last 15 minutes of the ride. That tells me that I either  didn’t have enough Carbohydrates yesterday or I need to add some into my pre ride meal. 

If you have questions like Scott did I’d be happy to answer. 

It’s a good life...... 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Running Injuries

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been dealing with some knee pain. I think it started by doing some hard running on the track and then was finished off by the down hill repeats on the trail. It doesn’t keep me from running but it is quite painful when I start running. It also causes me to change my stride. The picture above is the result of the changing stride. My right, side to compensate is taking more of the force pressure and therefore is shuffling more than it is lifting. On a recent trail run I took my eye off the trail for a split second and down I went. My right foot caught a root. I landed on my right knee and right elbow and somehow also landed on my left knee and left hand. I laid there for a minutes or so. Stood up shoot it off and finished the run. I had no choice I was 40 minutes running or a great deal more walking away from the car. 

This past Saturday I did my first race of the year, the Wild Duck 5K Cross Country Race. I’ve done the race a few times and had such a blast last year I decided to do it again. I took an extra long warm up to get that left knee working pain free. It kind of worked. I took the first mile out very conservative for me and then cruised the next 2 miles. I didn’t want to risk pushing so hard that I did more damage to my knee. I finished in 21:39. Last year I ran 21:16. I’m satisfied with the race this year. After the race I stood around talking to folks then I hobbled my way through a warm down. I knew damage was done. 

Yesterday I made it 4 steps into a run and stopped, my knee is damaged. This is the first running injury I can remember in a decade or more. I’m going to heed the advice I give everyone, rest. I’ve got a week this week where there is some forced rest coming up. I have one of those medical screening tests where you have to fast the day before and I’ll be out the day of the test too. That’s as good an excuse as any to take the next 5 days off of running and hope for the best. I won’t just lay down. I’ll swim and I can ride without any pain. There is also a great deal of mobilization and yoga in my future. I’m confident I can work it out in a week. 

It’s a good life.....

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Running and Marines

Stupid Workouts - a couple weeks ago I decided to jump into one of my buddy’s workouts. What he described seemed easy enough. Down hill repeats. He had 3 weeks to go before his Leadville Traill 100 debut and downhill running is not his specialty. We met in a trail parking lot, ran 20 minutes to to the top of a hill and then started our workout. We ran 10 x 1/4 mile down the trail and walked back to the start. I really enjoyed the first 3 or 4. On each I picked a line I wouldn’t normally choose challenging myself to be comfortable on any footing. All was going fine. On 4-8 the workout started to get to me. First of all my friend is the ultimate half stepper. He will never let you pull along side, he always has to be a half step ahead. He’s also notorious for doing workouts too hard. So here I was feeling quite good pulling up along side of him just to have fun. Every time I did that he would surge ahead. I finally gave up at 8 and simply jogged the last two. It’s been 3 weeks and my IT Band still feels those down hills. I should have called it a day the first time he half stepped me and just run on the trails while he finished his workout.

Other than doing stupid workouts It’s been a great week. My wife is out of the country in the Middle East. She’s having a blast making new friends and seeing a new country. I highly suggest you go to that part of the world. The people are incredibly warm and friendly. Our son is in a completely different part of the world doing his work as a US Marine. That’s him on the left in the picture. Because he’s off doing his work contact with him is rare. But this week he and I have been in constant contact. He texts me any time he has down time. Almost all of the banter has been about our mutual love for music. New Tool songs on Spotify or the bus driver blasting Green Day. He’s gone for at least 4 more months. It’s hard knowing he’s doing really dangerous things while he sleeps on the ground where who knows what kind of snake and spider lurks. It’s always great to hear from him no matter what the topic is. Just knowing he’s ok makes me sleep a little deeper. 

Back the training. I did a MAF test this week. I haven’t done one in a really long time. I ran 10:15 miles for 4 miles. That’s kind of pitiful for me but it is what it is. Thing think I do know is at that effort I can go for a really long time. My goal is to comfortable do a trail 50K in November. I’ll have to up my running distance over the next few months and the only way to really do that is to slow down first. Next MAF test is in 3 weeks. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

July 2019

It’s been almost a year since I last posted on this blog. Time does fly. A few stats before I dig into the topic. I must report that Niki is doing great. I know a number of people reading this also follow me on Instagram and know our dog Nike had a big scare with rat poison. We almost lost her. Lucky for us she’s made a full recovery.

  1. 130,000 - That’s the number of miles I’ve flown since the last time I posted. 
  2. 10 - That’s the number of pounds I added since the last time I posted and more importantly the pounds I’ve struggled to lose. 
  3. 37 - According to Strava that’s the number of activities so far this month. Those activities include running, cycling and yoga. 

130,000 miles - It’s the work that I do. When I worked at Road Runner Sports I was the source of information for the brands. I would spend a great deal of time being prepared for every meeting I had with them. I wanted to be really knowledgeable about who what buying what and why. It turns out they wanted that kind of information too. When I left RRS and started working for the brands I still wanted that information but it was hard to come by. Nobody around the world could provide us that information. Yes, there were sell through reports from retailers but that was not the real picture. Just because a shoe is selling doesn’t mean the true end user, the runner, was buying. One year about 9 years ago I was heading to Kona for the Ironman World Championships. A friend of mine, John Duke asked me to help Newton with their shoe count at the race. I enjoyed that day and through the years have simply taken over the entire process. About 5 years ago New Balance contacted me and wanted to know if I could take my process and apply it to the NYC Marathon. That’s 2400 athletes in Kona spread out to 50,000 athletes in NYC condensed. I figured it out presented my ideas and they hired me to do 7 events the next year. The process today is not even close to that first year. The data is deep and rich. In the last year I’ve been to the following events, 5h Ave Mile, Bronx 10 Mile, Reebok Women’s 10K, Ironman, Kona Beijing Marathon, New York City Marathon, Shanghai Marathon, New Balance Indoor Nationals, London Big Half, New York City Half, LA Marathon, Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Brooklyn Half Marathon, Westminster Mile, London 10K and the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. The database is not in the millions of runners and the clients are the whose who of running shoe brands.

10 - At the end of last year I stepped on the scale which I rarely do. It said 160lbs. That kind of scared me. When I did my first Ironman which happened to be in Kona I weighed 129lbs. When I had my best string of years between 35 and 40 I weighed 145lbs. I was comfortable at 150lbs. I was not comfortable at 160. Over the last 6 months I’ve done a great deal of “training” and feel myself getting faster but I hadn’t lost a single pound. 3 weeks ago I made a big change in my daily diet. Low Carb/High Fat. For that three weeks I probably went too low on the Carbs. I could feel in in my workouts. My weight however reacted. I dropped 7lbs. It’s a work in progress but I’m quite happy with where I am today. I have a plan, my wife is bought in and I feel better today than 2 months ago.

37 - My fitness is a funny thing. When you get to a really high level of fitness it’s very difficult to feel fit. I like to feel fit. When I’m traveling around the world I do my best to keep that feeling. I save most of my running for the road, ride indoors during the week to save time and swim when I can which is usually twice a week. I maintain my 15 minutes of yoga ever day. Now that I have more time I’m able to up the workload which brings me to 37. My week right now looks like this, 3 runs with one on the track, one long on the trails and one off the bike. The bike is the big time consumer so I’m choosing frequency over single ride distance. This past week I did two rides of 2:15 or so and 3 rides of one hour. Swimming is where I feel my fitness good or bad. When I’m swimming well it feels really good and I feel quite fit. Right now I manage 3 swims. All three are master’s workouts between 3,000 and 4,000 years. One is done at the local 50 meter pool which I love. I’ve been in the 1:35 per hundred lane and it’s beginning to feel too easy. I’ll move to the 1:30 lane for one or two workouts next week to see how fit I’m becoming. When I’m really really swimming fit I can comfortably swim in the 1:25 lane.

That’s it after a year. I’ll try to stay a bit more current.

It’s a good life........