Thursday, October 26, 2017

Train In The Worst To Race At Your Best!

I have been running for about 4 1/2 years now and my running has progressed nicely.  I have changed my form and overall have become more injury free by stretching more and training smarter.  When I first started running, my wife and I just had our twins and I had gained some weight between the lack of working out and indulging on sweets.  My first run was horrible, barely making it ¼ mile before needing to walk (and I wasn’t running fast at all).  After a few months, I had picked up the pace a little and decided I wanted to shoot for a half marathon the following year.  The idea was to build my way up to that distance as to not injure myself.  I still had shin splints and IT Band issues as a result of progressing too quickly, but I did run my first half marathon in April of 2014.

I have since run a bunch of half marathons, a few marathons, two 50k’s, and a 12-Hour Endurance Run where I completed 55.3 miles.  I say this not to brag, but to let you know that even as a newer runner, I never thought I could do this.  Even the thought of running a 5k was unbelievable (which it is).  The more I train, the more research I do.  I look into nutrition, fueling during runs and races, training plans, running gear, and how to become a stronger runner.  There are so many resources out there, but the one thing that I find most helpful is barely spoken about.  “I train in the worst to race at my best.”

I can’t tell you how many races I’ve been to where the temperature starts out cool, but then creeps up into the high 70’s or 80’s (or higher).  People start to fall apart (I have had this happen to me as well) because many people train in the morning when it’s cooler out.  I have been to races in the rain or wind and the same thing happens.  People don’t train in these conditions because “It’s not fun.”  Why do I choose to train in the extreme weather conditions you might ask?

My friends always look at me weird when a big storm is coming and I get all excited to do my long run right in the middle of it.  If it is pouring rain and there are 15-20 mph winds, it is the perfect time to put in some miles.  To be honest, I kind of like the bad weather.  There are a few reasons why I feel this way, and it has paid off in races.

When you train in the extreme heat or rain, you are preparing yourself to handle whatever happens on race day.  Most of my training runs are done during the day.  It is not uncommon to run my summer training runs in 95-100 degree heat.  I slow down my pace and take in more water, but my goal is to acclimate to the heat.  It takes about 2-3 weeks for this to occur, but the results are worth the misery (and I actually began to like training in the heat).  My latest run was in 80 degree heat and I was slower than I was shooting for.  I even had to make a few stops because I just wasn’t feeling it today, but that’s okay.  By training at the extremes, I am getting stronger, both mentally and physically.

In July, I prepared for my first 12-hour race by running in the heat, even though the race was near the Bay Area (North East of San Francisco) where the temperatures would be lower than where I live.  The starting temperatures were nice, but we were running from 7am-7pm and in the middle of the day the temperatures were going to exceed 80 degrees, which did happen.  At about 2pm, people started to really slow down because of the heat.  Because of all my training, it actually felt somewhat cool to me.  I was extremely surprised and honestly was waiting for the heat to get to me (including nausea).  I finished strong and captured a 2nd place AG award, which is the best I have ever done in any race. 

I do long road runs and trail runs in the cold and rain for the same reason.  While I am not a huge fan of getting really dirty, running on wet trails prepares me for whatever the future has planned during upcoming races.  That brings us to the second reason why I train in the extremes.

One of the most difficult things for runners to overcome is their own brain, that “stinkin’ thinkin’”.  It can tell us that the wind and rain is too difficult and can shake your confidence, which in turn effects your performance.  What if you trained all year in pristine conditions and the night before your big race, a storm rolls in?  Many times, your mind has already taken you out of running well.  If you train in the extremes, you might not expect a PR, but you can go out feeling confident that the weather won’t kill you.  You have been there and know what to expect. 
I have read over and over again that ultra runners know that they will more than likely have to deal with situations during their race whether it is a blister or nausea.  Sometimes the weather turns or you have a cramp in your calf.  The goal is to evaluate the situation and come up with a plan on how you can overcome the issue.  By planning for the worst, you are more prepared to make changes (either mentally or physically) on the fly.  

We can do more than our brains tell us we can.  It doesn’t matter if you are shooting to run a mile without stopping or completing your first 100 mile race, by training smarter it becomes easier to overcome our difficulties and reach our goals.  Let me know what goals you want to crush or if you are looking for any specific advice and I will try to do a blog post about it.  Never stop pushing toward your goals, you may just surprise yourself.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wiivv 3D Printed Insoles Review

Most runners have had some sort of foot or leg issue at one time or another.  For me, it started out with Shin Splints when I first started running 4.5 years ago.  Then it was IT Band Syndrome.  Recently I had Plantar Fasciitis, which I tried everything from rolling with ice bottles, to physical therapy, to insoles, and finally a Cortisone shot.  Many ailments that runners deal with can be helped, at least in part, by using a good pair of insoles. 

Many insoles that come with shoes aren’t very good (and I have heard this from the manufactures themselves).  This is mainly because they need to provide an insole that will work for everyone since it is not custom made to your foot.  I have used Super Feet insoles, which I got at the local running store.  It provides more support in your heel and arch than the standard shoe insole but it’s still mass produced and not custom made for your foot.  I ran across a company that makes insoles that are specifically made for your foot and had the opportunity to test a pair out.

What if you took a few pictures through a smart phone app and within a week would have custom made 3D printed insoles at your door?  Sounds futuristic right?  You start by paying for your insoles on the Wiivv website.  Then you download the Wiivv app on your phone and simply follow the prompts.  All it takes is a room with a hard floor (you could also stand on a piece of plywood if you only have carpet), a piece of white paper, and about 5 minutes.  The instructions are really easy to follow.  Here is a video that talks about the measuring process.

The insoles are made up of a hard custom fit arch support.  There is a deep heel cup that helps stabilize your heel and absorb shock.  The flexible insole allows for a healthy range of motion and there is a foam layer that has been performance tested to last more than 150,000 cycles (or strides).  The insoles are waterproof and sweatproof and are personalized with your name on the top fabric layer and the hard bottom layer.

You can pick from full length or ¾ length and get to choose the design of the shell (hard bottom layer of the insole) and the fabric top.  There are several different prints that you can choose for the top layer, from a topo map to bacon and eggs.  Once you’ve taken your pictures and picked your styles, you put in your order.    The shipping is free and you get status updates throughout the whole process.

Wiivv  provides a 30-Day Happiness Guarantee, basically saying that if you aren’t 100% satisfied with your new insoles, you can return them for a full refund.  They also have a Manufactures Warranty that guarantees that the insoles will last for at least 1 year or they will replace them with a brand new pair. 

I love that I can get a well-made custom insole that is made for my feet at a decent price. Fellow runners have told me that they spent more than $300 for a pair of custom insoles from their podiatrist and they felt that the Wiivv  insoles were a better fit for running.  I used my Wiivv  insoles before and after I got my Cortisone shot and it was an important step for me to get over my Plantar Fasciitis.  After more than 3 months of use, the insoles still look almost new and really help my feet with a heavy training schedule of 40-60 miles a week of running. 

You can get your Wiivv  insoles for $99 (for their full-length version) and $79 (for the ¾ length insoles). 

Custom made based on your actual feet
Can be ordered in less than 5 minutes
Made with premium materials and 3D printing
Sweatproof and waterproof
Customizable look
Excellent price ($99 full-length, $79 ¾ length)

Wiivv’s Social Media Links:

Taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you can do to remain injury free.  My health care provider doesn’t do orthotic insoles and to see a podiatrist out of pocket would be pricy.  Then you add the $300+ for custom made insoles that could take weeks to get back.  I am thrilled that Wiivv has taken this process and made it painless.  The product is amazing and I love that I can customize the insoles.  I will be using my insoles to keep my feet healthy and recommend them if you are in need of some insoles.  Don’t settle for insoles that were made for the masses.  If you get a pair, let me know what you think in the comments below.

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

OOFOS Recovery Sandal and Shoe Review

Did you know that recovery is as important (if not more important) as your training runs.  If you don’t allow yourself to recovery properly, you increase your risk of injury.  Run training builds off your previous runs and recovery.  When you don’t properly recover, your body is building off of stressed muscles, which is when the injury can happen.  You also can’t reach your peak potential without allowing for proper recovery.  There are a few things that I have implemented into my recovery plan that might help you too.

I started stretching almost every night.  My wife and I sit down to watch tv.  I lay on the ground and stretch for about 10-15 minutes.  I also have been foam rolling more frequently, focusing mostly on my hamstrings and calves, because those are the areas that I need it the most.  Two years ago, I saw some OOFOS recovery sandals in the Road Runner Sports (Portland area) while on vacation.  Shortly after that I reviewed and posted about how awesome they are.  I have tried a few different brands, but OOFOS is still my favorite by far.  Why are OOFOS so good though?

Most foams that are used in running shoes are made to propel you forward.  The foam used in OOFOS is designed to absorb the shock (37% greater impact absorption), aka OOfoam technology.  This in turn reduces the impact on your back, knees and feet which allows you to recover faster.  The one thing that took a little while to get used to was that the arch really comes up into your foot (high arch).  This is designed to cradle your arch and take the stress off of your joints.  After about 30 minutes, it felt natural.   It is also designed to flex with your foot, which allows you to walk with a more natural gait.

Walking in my OOFOS OOriginals Sandals is like walking on clouds.  I have been running 40-60 miles per week and spent almost 5 months with Plantar Fasciitis earlier this year.  The only way I was able to continue my training and racing was taking my shoes off and slipping on my OOFOS as soon as I got home.  They are the most comfortable sandals that I have ever put on, by far.  I can’t wear most sandals with a toe post (the thing that goes in between your big toe and second toe) because they irritate my foot.  Not with OOFOS though.  Their soft, conforming toe post doesn’t chafe my foot.

The foam is durable and will last the life of the sandal without breaking down as well.  In fact, after 2 years of use they still are just as good as the day I got them, well almost.  Here are some side-by-side pictures of my 2 year old OOriginals Sandals and the new Sport Sandals.  

OOFOS are not only awesome because they feel great and let you recover more quickly, but they provide other benefits as well.  They have a closed cell foam, which keeps bacteria and moisture out of your sandals.  You can use these in the shower or even throw them in the washing machine when they need a good cleaning.  You can get the OOriginals Sandals for $44.95 and the Sport Sandals for $59.95.

In addition to the Sport Sandals, OOFOS has a new shoe that utilizes their same OOfoam technology that they use in their sandals.  It comes with a 4-way stretch mesh upper that takes the stress off your feet and joints for those times when sandals are not appropriate.  The OOFOS OOmg Low Shoe costs $119.95 and there are four colors to choose from.  I really like the way they feel and they are a great choice for any occasion.  They are located in the women’s section of the website, but if you are a male who would like a pair, just order 2 sizes larger than your normal size (I’m a men’s size 10, so I ordered a women’s size 12).  The fact that these are machine washable, enables your foot to perform a more natural motion while walking, and that they are extremely light weight really makes them a winner.  In a world where runners are tearing down their feet and joints, it is vital to have a recovery product that helps you heal faster, which is precisely what you get with the OOmg Low Shoe.  I just wish I could wear these with my dress clothes at work.

Most comfortable sandal/shoe I have ever tried
Great arch support
Many colors and styles to suit your fashion needs
Easy to clean
Foam will not break down over time (even after 2 years)

More expensive than many sandals (but more than worth it)

OOFOS’ Social Media Links:

I am in love with my OOFOS recovery products and I have no doubt that you will be too.  From the cushion to the arch support, these are the perfect items to add to your running gear stash.  They have made a huge difference in relieving my tired feet and legs after my long runs.  You should definitely give them a try.  You can buy them at the OOFOS website, at Amazon, or at your local retailer (Click here to find a retailer near you).

Note:  I received this product in exchange for a review.  The review is my personal opinion of the product and I was not required to give a particular opinion of it.  I am not a doctor, so please use all of the products that I review at your own risk.