Monthly Archives: September 2012

  • SKORA Form Review - Beginning Barefoot

    Barefoot Dawsy is a minimalist and barefoot runner from all the way down under. His goal with www.BeginningBarefoot.com is to help make the transition to being a healthy runner easier for novices. He has an especially good list of books that he has read and recommend. Check out his review of the SKORA Form here:

    Review: SKORA Form Shoes

    Skora Forms are excellent, well-designed shoes. I’d recommend them for more advanced runners who have perfected their running form and are looking for a hard-wearing go-to road shoe. If these shoes are any indication of things to come out of the Skora factory, then we’re in for some great things ahead.

  • Featured Website: Ultra Runner Podcast

    Ultra Runner Podcast (URP) is not only a podcast about ultra running, but is also a great source of information on fantastic tasting beer and super gross images of black toe nails and blisters.

    Some of their recent podcasts include interviews with Western Stages winner Tim Olson, US 24 Hour record holder Mike Morton, and recent Hardrock 100 champion Hal Koerner.

    Check them out at UltraRunnerPodcast.com!

  • Artificial Recovery

    We all live busy lives and want to get the most out of our training.

    What if you were doing something that was decreasing your adaptation to workouts? In the last decade, science has been slowly showing that commonly used artificial means of recovery may in fact not be as beneficial as thought.

    You have likely either seen the following routine in others or practiced it yourself. After a hard training session or a race, the athlete jumps into a bath filled with ice water. The thinking is that this will reduce soreness, which will allow sooner or harder training.

    Unfortunately, the opposite may be the case.

    A study from 2002 found that after high intensity knee extension exercise, the group taking either Ibuprofen or acetaminophen experienced less protein synthesis in skeletal muscle.

    More recently, a study was done looking at the effects of ice-water immersion on delayed onset muscle soreness. The researchers found no significant difference in pain, tenderness, strength, swelling, hop for distance, or serum creatine kinase between the control and experimental groups, after high intensity weight lifting.

    The newest study looked at icing and it’s effect on recovery from exercise induced muscle damage. After performing elbow extensions to fatigue, groups either were given topical ice packs, or not. Subjective fatigue levels were actually higher at 72 hours for the group that received ice! For eccentric induced muscle damage, it was concluded that the cooling actually delayed recovery.

    Other studies have shown non ice-bathed limbs gained more strength and/or endurance than limbs that were treated with cold therapy, Ibuprofen inhibiting muscle strengthening in exercising rats, and antioxidant supplements delaying muscle recovery.

    Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and ice bathing is a fairly common practice. However, as Brad Aiken, medical director for rehabilitation at Baptism Hospital, Miami, Fla said, "Anything that interferes with the natural physiology would likely interfere with the expected outcome [of] larger, stronger muscles," he says. "Muscle fibers require a certain amount of time for these changes to occur."

    The natural means of recovery and adaptation to training stimulus include: Proper rest after the hard effort. This can include full rest or lower intensity training. Using a cool-down after hard training instead of abruptly stopping A diet of proper nutrition amounts and with proper timing in relation to training. Adequate sleep

    As you can see, researchers have hinted at ice bathing and NSAIDS actually causing less adaptation and recovery from hard exercise. The athletes may not be getting the full fitness increases from workouts!

    Next time you finish a hard workout or a race. Skip the ice bath or Ibuprofen and instead eat some berries, go for a walk or bike ride. Know that you are indeed reaping all the benefits from the hard workout and not cutting yourself short by losing out on some adaptation.

  • Real Runner: Dorette

    Here we take a moment to talk to Coach Dorette from Trifiniti about her own athletic endeavors, her coaching, health, and Skora.

    skorarunning.com: Thanks for taking the time to let SKORA interview you Dorette! I noticed your facebook page, and you seem like a very busy person! Can you explain a bit about your schooling, job, and athletics?

    Dorette: Yes, my Facebook page certainly say's a lot about my passions, education, career, and endurance training.

    I am really committed to eating a whole-food, plant based diet that heals and improves my physical and mental stamina. Eating for wellness has always played a theme in my life. At an early age, my mother discovered my behavior reacted negatively to artificial flavors, colors, and foods that contained sugars (commonly found in kids breakfast cereals and snacks). So, my mom eliminated the artificial colors and flavors from my diet and significantly reduced the processed foods. I grew up on granola and raw trail mix, not chocolate chunk-frosted cookies (but of course, I wanted what I could not have). When she changed my diet, I became more calm, focused, and intentional - she said it was like night and day. That was the first time foods was used to heal and balance my body. In my thirty's, I wanted to become a Registered Dietitian, so I went back to school. I currently have a little over one year left in my program. My goal is to provide to nutritional plans and resources to foods that heal the body and benefit the mental and physical performance. My mom was onto something, but of course, when you are raised by a German mother who was brought up on a farm and understood what real, unprocessed, organic food really was, it was inevitable that her wisdom be passed onto me.

    Professionally, I am an endurance coach with our company Trifiniti Endurance and train runners, swimmers, and triathletes. Coaching is much more than writing a training plan for someone. It's about building relationships, building confidence, and building strength such that the seasoned or new athlete creates balance between family, career, and their endurance performance endeavors; it's about helping athletes overcome mental and physical barriers. I love coaching - because I witness an athlete's growth and success - the pay off for me is priceless.

    Although, I have competed in triathlon for twelve years (including Ironman and Ultraman), running is my real sport. As a young girl, I used running as a way to channel my energy. In fact, I had so much pent up energy as a kid that I would sneak out my bedroom window at night and run - I just needed to run! As an adult, I still need to run, or bike, or swim. But no sport can replace what I experience while running on the trails - I relish that out-of-body experience as my mind can lets go and the legs keep moving. I recently hung up my time trial bike and am focusing on building back my run base for a few more 50K and 50 mile ultras. As soon as I graduate, the next big event I plan to complete is the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii.

    If you read between the pages on my Facebook page, you'll also find that I have a husband, Duane, whom I get to train with and a dog, who prefers to sleep on the couch while we run (no kidding). We call her Anni, the recovery dog. See, it's about creating balance, and both my husband and dog balance me completely.

    skorarunning.com: What do you think it is about running that calls so strongly to you? Do you have a route or running spot that is special?

    Dorette: Ooh, good question. Stumped me - I have to think about this.

    The call to be a runner or to run swings between two states. 1) Running is a gift I give to myself. As a business owner, coach, and student of Dietetics, so many responsibilities and duties vie for my time. When I run, the time becomes all about me - it's Dorette Time, my gift of time to spend on me and I become a better friend to myself for spending time with myself. 2) The ability to run, and keep running, just because you can, intrigues me. Maybe it's a primal quest - that running at one point served as our only way to get from point A to point B in order to relocate and explore, be messengers, to hunt...or be hunted. When I run short or run long, I feel as if I am transported to a different place and time. I appreciate being able to rely on my body to transport me from one point to the other with out being the hunter or the hunted.

    We live just 1.3 miles from multiple trailheads leading up to Mt. Tamalpias (which is 2,572 ft. high). My favorite route is lined with trees and lakes and begins its ascent from the Marin Stables. Here, I stop before and after my run to befriend the horses and riders. There are two 10K loops which I will run once or twice a week, then I add in a long 2.5-3+ hour run from either the north side of the mountain or meet up with friend on the southeastern side, in Mill Valley. We are spoiled with so many choices.

    skorarunning.com: What are some of your most fond memories from endurance training and racing ? It sounds like you’ve done so much that it may be difficult to narrow it down!

    Dorette: Hands down, it was the double marathon on day three at Ultraman Canada - a 3-day endurance event that consists of a 10K swim and 90-mile ride on day 1, 170 mile bike on day 2, and a 52.4 mile run on day 3. As you can see from the photo, my crew were up to fun and games to keep a smile on my face, my spirits high, and keep me running. This was the first double marathon I had run.

    The foundation to a successful finish was having such an energetic crew, recovering, pacing, and nutrition. I felt completely prepared mentally and physically going into Ultraman, but by the end of day 2, following the 170-mile bike, I stood in the shower trying to squat to pick up the bar of soap that had dropped on the floor and asked myself, "What was I thinking? How am I going to run a double marathon tomorrow when I can barely stand" My legs felt like they were melting. I was in my room alone, crying while my crew was out to dinner. Perfect timing - my friend Lori came by to help work the kinks out of my legs and gave me a good pep talk. When I woke up, my legs felt ready to run.

    There were many high point and low points, but what amazed me was that after hitting a wall around mile 42, I was determined to change my pace and attitude. The last two to three mile stretch, I brought my pace down to 8 minute miles. Even my husband who was pacing me had a hard time keeping pace at that point. I felt so proud to finish and to finish strong. It was a joyous occasion for all!

    skorarunning.com: Great photo! Reminds me of El Diablo from la Tour chasing the riders!

    Since Skora is a new company, not a lot of people have been able to put serious mileage in our shoes yet. Over the past 5 years there has been an explosion in shoe and running form discussion. As an ultra distance athlete, what are your thoughts on SKORA shoes, shoes in general, and running form?

    Dorette: I consider myself pretty lucky in that I began running in Skora just six months after a running related injury. Since I could only run two miles pain free, I took advantage of this low volume base and implemented a new pair of Skora running shoes that would allow me to become more aware of how I used my body/form in space while running. Meanwhile, my strength and flexibility also needed fine-tuning. Time and patience were on my side –the two key elements that increase one’s success in taking a new approach to running in a light-weight shoe, such as Skora (on a side note, adaption will also be influenced by one's present running biomechanics as well as one’s size and weight).

    The adaptation scheme I used to train into my new Skora’s began with running a few 400’s and fartleks on a soft surface, such as a track or trail. Over time, the duration and type of terrain (trails to roads, or soft pack to rock/technical) was conservatively increased until I was running thirty to sixty minutes again (in Skora) 3-4 day’s a week. As a run coach, this is the prescription I would give any runner – take a conservative approach to adapting into a minimalist shoe. But I find most athletes either simply don’t know how to make the transition into an ultra-light weight minimalist run shoe or don’t allow themselves the patience or time it takes to make that transition.

    I've tried a few "minimal" run shoes along the way using this adaptation approach, but my foot never felt supported enough in the arch, forefoot, or even heel. The design of Skora shoes provides a great deal of support to the foot with a minimal amount of cushioning. The foot feels molded and supported around the arch and along the heel. The benefit is that the runner builds a stronger relationship to their body, that is the awareness to how the body moves through space – proprioception. Muscles that were previously passively used become more active, such as one’s core strength. I see many runners relaxing their torso into their lumbar region as if it’s “just along for the ride.” But to stay upright and off the heels, the upper body needs to remain engaged, lifted, with a slight lean as if falling forward – like how a toddler runs. Changing how the body is used may initially increase one’s exertion while running, but over time the body adapts to the exertion and even form…just as it does when building the miles – adaptation.

    skorarunning.com: Thanks for taking the time to tell our readers more about yourself Dorette! If anyone has any questions for you concerning your coaching or Vega (I noticed your an ambassador), how would they best reach you?

    Dorette: Thank you! It's been my pleasure. I have been a Vega Ambassador for two years and have coached runners and triathletes for nearly ten years. To learn more about coaching or Vega, I can be reached at info@trifiniti.com or visit our website, www.trifiniti.com. Vega has a fantastic social website dedicated to connecting all types of athletes and athlete enthusiasts (from hockey players to massage therapists) - its' dedicated to people who thrive off plant based diets, vegan or not. Check out the vega community at www.myvega.com

  • Decreased Athletic Performance in Hot Environments

    It is commonly believed that reduced athletic performance in hot environments is due to an increase in the core temperature of the athlete. In this post, we are going to look at some research that may hint to a different cause.

    In this study, ten male cyclists performed two 20k time trials, one in a HOT trial of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the other in a COOL trial at 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Rectal temperature, core temperature, power output, and the integrated electromyographic (iEMG) activity (aka efficiency of the electrical activity) of the quadriceps muscles were all recorded throughout the exercise.

    As to be expected, power output and iEMG of the participants began to decrease much sooner when the time trial took place in the hot environment. However, what is very interesting is that during the HOT trial, body temperatures, heart rates, and perceived exertion at the time of these decreases were all similar to that of the COOL trials, except it occurred sooner.

    Also of interest is that during the both the COOL and HOT trials, the core temperature of the body at the time of decreased power and iEMG activity were similar. This suggests that decreases in athletic performance in the heat are not due to increased core temperature, because it never actually increased to a greater degree than in the COOL trials. The researchers concluded that performance decreases occurred before actual abnormal increases in body temperature. This is likely an anticipatory response by the brain to prevent those body temperature increases from happening in the first place, disrupting homeostasis, and potentially causing system failure.

    In short, the brain is anticipating what is to come, and inducing fatigue to prevent damage to the body.

    What can we learn from this study? It is that, when the protective mechanisms of the body are functioning properly, the brain will slow down the athlete before any damage actually occurs. All of this in an attempt to keep the temperature of the body from increasing to a dangerous level.

    What do you think about this research showing it may not be your core temperature that slows you down in the heat?

    In a future post, we will look at methods of keeping the body cool during training and racing!

    #RunReal

    Tucker, Ross, Laurie Rauch, Yolande Harley, and Timothy Noakes. "Impaired exercise performance in the heat is associated with an anticipatory reduction in skeletal muscle recruitment." PFLÜGERS ARCHIV EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY. 448.4 (2004): 422-430. Web. 16 Sep. 2012. <http://www.springerlink.com/content/y8fmc5rqrtlwrl7u/>.

  • Form of No Form

    Shaolin Abbott: I see your talents have gone beyond the mere physical level. Your skills are now at the point of spiritual insight. What is the highest technique you hope to achieve ? Lee: To have no technique.

    Running and martial arts are both the practice of repeating simple movements. A martial artist must practice basic technique over and over again until it becomes second nature. Take a movement and do it a million times and it becomes instinctual. The same can be done in running. Broken down into its simplest, running is a series of repeated one legged stands.

    Often while running, athletes spend much of their time self-monitoring their gait. There are many aspects to focus on. A couple of the most important are an upright body position with a slight forward lean as well as a quick cadence landing under your general center of mass. Focus on and find a running form that works well for your speed and body type.

    Bruce Lee said that he does not fear the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks one time, but the man that has practiced one kick 10,000 times. Running is the practice of your form with every single step. During a 60 minute run, you practice your running form 10,000 times! For a time it may be necessary to learn or relearn what your body already knows how to do. How to Run Real. Once your body starts taking over, your mind can take a step back. You no longer have to think about your gait. Your running has now returned to its instinctual roots.

    Lee: A good fight should be like a small play, but played seriously. A good martial artist does not become tense, but ready. Not thinking, yet not dreaming. Ready for whatever may come. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity, I do not hit. It hits all by itself.

    Just as Bruce Lee reached a spiritual level of martial arts, athletes can reach a level of instinctual running. If they do not think about or focus on form, is there form, or has that simply become how you run? You are no longer thinking about doing something, or trying to make your feet perform a specific movement. Your body is now simply reacting to falling forward.

    Now you are Running Real!

    Parsons: What's your style? Lee: My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.

  • Featured Website: Trail Runner Nation

    The Nation is a community website where people who enjoy the exploration of the outdoors while afoot can gather and connect. Powered by the Performance Enhancing Kokopelli, The Nation's website hosts a forum, gear and product reviews, and the Trail Runner Nation podcast. The podcasts has interviews with some of the most interesting ultra marathoners in the world, giving you an opportunity to learn from the experience of master trail runners.

    You can join The Nation at TrailRunnerNation.com

  • Flat, Fast, and Forgiving. 1st time Ultras

    Best first time ultra marathons!

    There are numerous reasons for the ultra marathon boom of the last few years.

    The popular book from Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man, has been an inspiration to many. Born to Run has definitely gotten people out the door and running. More sponsorship dollars are coming into the sport. And people are looking for another new challenge.

    For those runners looking to move onto something different, ultra marathons are a popular destination. Below is a short list of some great choices for athletes looking either to complete their first ultra, or set a new ultra distance Personal Record.

    Good entry level 50k events

    Blues Cruise This is a very runnable and fairly nontechnical 50k trail race in Pennsylvania. The aid stations are often manned by other ultra marathoners, so they know how to service the needs of the runners very well. A majority of the course is shaded and the temperatures will probably be in the 80s during the day. The race also features a 7.5 hour cut off time. You can’t walk the entire race, but you should not be in a huge rush to finish either. Race reports: Running Moose Lets Run Homey

    Ridgecrest The Over the Hill Track Club puts this December race on in California. The race is another good first time event since it is not terribly technical nor hilly. The runners spend most of their time on desert roads and trails. Due to the location and time of year, temps are cooler. Being a looped course, the athletes have access to their home aid station as well as other stations on course every 3 miles. Race Report: Vanessa Runs

    Skyline This is another great ultra in California (there are many) that features 7 aid stations and a scenic and only moderately hilly course with an 8 hour cut off. One nice thing about this event is that it features race day registration. Gone is the requirement to sign up for an event 6 months in advance, get injured, and lose the money from the race entry. With the Skyline Ultra, feel free to wait until the last minute. Race Report: Sarah Lavender Smith

    If you want to spend some more time on your feet, or have perhaps completed the 50k distance, here are some faster 50 mile options. Many of the races listed on this page have multiple distance options too!

    Lean Horse This is a rails to trails course in western South Dakota. Due to it being an old railway route, I believe you never run anything more than a 3% grade. Of course that adds the challenge of not always being aware of when you are climbing or descending! The out and back course features aid stations roughly every 5 miles and is almost completely on gravel trail. There is also a 50k and 100 mile this day as well. Race Reports: Run It Fast Dirt Runner

    American River Taking place in California, this is the second largest 50 mile event in the country. The course is generally flat and only really climbs during the last few miles. The course is not technical, featuring paved road, bike path, single track trails, decomposed granite, and dirt. Race Reports: LA Runner The Runner's Trip

    Bear Chase This race in Colorado features ranges from a 50mile all the way down to a 10k. The course is fairly fast and simple, the 50 mile only gains 3400 feet. This event is cup free. While this does require runners to provide their own bottles (which you should carry anyway) it saves the race money and helps cut down waste and garbage. Race Report: Sips From a Tall Drink of Water

    Firetrails Featuring great goodie bags and awesome aid stations, this northern California ultra is a good choice for a beginner or for someone looking for a PR. The course is an out and back featuring great views of San Francisco and Mt. Diablo with single track, fire roads, and a bit of pavement, all with 7800 feet of climbing. Race Reports: Dave Mackey Run Your Potential

    Rocky Raccoon This Texas race is famous for fast times and good first experiences. The 50 has a generous 29 hour cut off, so take a nap if you wish. The looped course means you visit your home aid station more than once, making it easy to see friends and family. Featuring jeep roads and single track, there is little elevation gain. Race Reports: Zen Triathlon Ultra Tortoise

    Timed Ultra Marathons Another option is to choose a timed event for your first race. These are often held on short loops on generally forgiving terrain. You could see any from 5 mile routes to quarter mile laps around a high school track! The important thing is that every lap takes you right back to your home aid station where friends, family, and pacers can be waiting for you to cheer you on and tend to your needs. Mind The Ducks 12 Hour

    If you know of an ultra that should be added to the above list, post about it below!

    And where ever and to which ever race your feet take you, remember to Run Real!

  • To the one who endures

    Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes. - Gautama Buddha

    One of the most important qualities of success in running is the ability to endure. To endure the hours and hours of training, day after day, week after week. Enduring early mornings, bad weather, and skipping the birthday cake all can contribute to victory. Finally, to endure the distance and time during the event. Victory comes not to the swiftest, but to the competitors who can mentally and physically tolerate the pain and discomfort that is inherent in endurance sports. For the vast majority of athletes participating in races around the world, simply finishing their goal event constitutes a victory.

    Endure, and Run Real!

  • Canadian Death Race - Report

    Be Impressive. - Death Racer motto

    In April of this year, SKORA designer Richard Kuchinsky thought it would be "cool" for the Social Media Coordinator at SKORA, Kyle Kranz, to throw his name into the lottery for entry into the Canadian Death Race. It has yet to be determined if this was a passive attempt at killing Kyle, or if he legitimately thought it would be "fun" for Kyle to run 125k in 24 hours in the Rocky Mountains of Canada.

    Needless to say, Kyle was "lucky" enough to be allowed entry into the event through the lottery. Having done multiple road and light trail ultra distance runs, Kyle took on the challenge wholeheartedly.

    Read about his adventure at his blog, RunningOnTheWhiteLine.com

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