Monday, January 31, 2011

What a Week

This past week was a lot of fun. My mileage wasn't that high and I didn't do anything spectacular, but I spent a lot of time with great friends and family just cruising the trails. Here are a bunch of photos for you to enjoy.

 Working backwards: I ran the Lindon BST with Kim and Brent and had an awesome time in the mud.

Prior to the run, goofing off.

Brent coming up to the turn-around.

 The day prior I ran with Brent again on the Orem BST. Mostly dirt roads with the last couple of miles on pavement, this was a very enjoyable outing.

Scott and I climbed Wire Peak on Wednesday. It was very foggy and we couldn't see much, so we took other fun-filled liberties.

Scott nearing the summit.

Me completely goofing off.

One other day to note was my Saturday run with Kelli and her husband, Scott. We had a great time on the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon.  I didn't take my camera which I completely regret now, but we had a wonderful time all the same.

This coming week won't be nearly as exciting as I'm trying to heal a couple of nagging injuries, so I might be spending most of my time on the treadmill. Not exciting, but probably necessary. I'm looking forward to feeling good and ramping up training in expectation of the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Miler in a couple of months.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Minimalism and Shoes

I regularly have discussions with friends and fellow runners about the new line of minimalist running shoes that is making a big wave in the shoe manufacturing world. What was once considered a fad is now a solid niche and possibly even the preferred - or suggested - shoe to go with. I'm not going to take sides on the minimalist vs 'normal' running culture. I have my own thoughts on the issue, some of which I'll address here, but will refrain from trying to express what I think should be gospel on the issue. Most specifically I want to address the new line of minimalist shoes that are coming out this year.

I'm a mid-foot striker, I'll get that out of the way right now. I used to heel strike, but after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall I, like many others, got caught up in the wonder of minimalist running, even barefoot running. I hit the streets barefoot in an inch of fresh snow and blasted out 2 miles without any problems. I changed my form to a mid-foot strike and sought out shoes with a low heel-toe drop and reduced midsole. I had encountered some severe Illiotibial Band Syndrone as a heel striker and was certain that it would cure my problem. While it helped in the short term it did not cure me. It wasn't until I learned how to run properly from the hips up and how to relax and strengthen my hips that I was able to finally cure the problem for good. I also changed up my shoes and found some I really loved (Inov-8 Roclite 295). However, it was during this whole process of change that I also came to a few truths that I'm sure would not be looked at promisingly by those committed to the minimalist movement. I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers, but here it goes.

2011 will be the year of the minimalist trail running shoe. Literally, every company out there who already produces a trail shoe will now have their own minimalist version. It is awesome. I'm excited about a lot of these. Unfortunately, I probably won't get to try many of them. Basically I'm just not cool enough for companies to want me to test out their products. That's fine. I run and race because it's fun; I don't need perks like being a tester, as fun as that would also be .

Traditional running shoes were pretty standard: stable upper, gnarlier sole, rock plate. Then New Balance came out with the MT100 and changed everything. They significantly reduced the midsole, whittled down the tread, and made the upper super light. They have now improved upon it with the MT101. However, even with these drastic reductions they kept the rock plate. Inov-8 really changed things up dropping a ton of weight, but still able to keep wicked-good tread. They claim to have a rock plate, of sorts, but I don't think I've ever really felt it.

This year will be about two things; reducing weight and minimizing the heel to toe drop. Let me address the heel-toe drop thing first. As a mid-foot striker I think this is pretty important, Ok, kind of important. I currently run in two different brand of shoes with a 10mm drop. Three companies this year will come out with 'zero drop' shoes. Altra, who actually owns the term 'zero drop' will come out with a whole line of shoes that will maintain the foots height off the ground from toe to heel. Pretty cool. I really look forward to trying these shoes. The other two are Merrell and Inov-8. It will be interesting to see how these shoes compare to each other. Here's my little hang-up though - if you are a proper mid-foot striker then is there really a difference between 10mm drop and zero drop? Your heel really isn't going to strike the ground anyway. I think the idea is fine, but I just don't think it is necessary. More like a nice to have. I know most minimalist proponents would argue with me, but I'm telling you, if you took 50 trail runners and put them in two shoes - one with a zero drop and one with a 8mm drop - and they didn't know which was which, I bet after running in each for 20 miles they couldn't tell the difference. I'm just saying.

The other issue is weight. I like that companies are trying to reduce weight in their shoes, but please, please, please, quit sacrificing what is most important, THE ROCK PLATE!! Seriously, as a friend of mine recently said, "the only real difference between a road shoe and a trail shoe is the rock plate". I couldn't agree more. Unless the outsole is a little stiffer I don't think I'm even going to consider a shoe that doesn't have some kind of plate. Maybe rock plateless shoes will work out there in No Cali or in some places in CO, but here in Utah where the trails are rock and root stricken, a shoe without a rock plate is a foot's death wish. I can personally attest to this after running a lot of trails in a shoe without a rock plate and coming out of it with foot problems. Again, if a company can produce a shoe that doesn't require one, fine, but I have yet to see it. I love my Inov-8s, I really do. They claim that the extra lugs on the 295 don't require a stiffer plate, but I kind of disagree. Sharp rocks get through. I've worn three pair and would gladly buy another one, but the fact remains that I feel rocks all the time. Adversely, the MT101 has a solid plate and minimal tread and I feel fewer rocks  in those than my Inov-8s.

I first began running trails in the Brooks Cascadia 4. I loved that shoe, except for one thing; I would get a blister under the bend in my big toe on longer runs (weird huh?). As I started into my minimalist phase I put them aside. However, in 2011 they will introduce the Cascadia 6 which is slightly lighter and only has an 8mm heel to toe drop. And guess what, they have a strong, visible rock plate. This could very well be one of my new shoes this year. If I can run in them without the little blister I might find a new home for my feet. Oh, and they come in red. Huzzah!!!!

Anyway, take it for what's its worth. I'm not a sponsored athlete. I'm not well known in the running community. I run because it is fun. I run thousands of miles on trails in every kind of condition and in any location. I've been through many shoes, I know how to run, and can attest to what will and won't work for the average to above average runner. If you think I'm wrong, cool, call me out. Then send me a pair of shoes and prove me wrong. I'd love to be wrong. But there you have it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2010 Trail Running Video

I finally got around to finishing my little compilation video of last year's trail running. It's nothing big, in fact, it's pretty ghetto, but there is some pretty cool stuff to see. Enjoy it if you can.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Training Week 1/10 - 1/15

This was the first real week of training that I've had since trying to take intermittent time off for my Peroneal Tendontitis (ankle suckage). I didn't want to push it too hard; no high mileage days and reduced amount of hills. While it won't appear that I stuck with this focus, it really wasn't all that bad a week.

Monday 1/10 
4.2 miles, 100 vert - A quick loop on pavement during lunch. I was still nursing a strained calf and really didn't want to push it.

Tuesday 1/11
a.m. 3.8 miles, 2300 vert - Hiked Mt Wire (there's very little running to be done on this small peak) with Scott W and Matt VH. I felt good considering my lack of hill work over the last couple of months. It was a cold 6 degrees and didn't warm up. Made it to the top in 56:30 and roundtrip in 1:22:00. Saw about 8 elk that were really beautiful.
p.m. 4 miles, 0 vert - I did a treadmill run at the gym. Nothing special. I threw in a sub-7 min/mile just to stretch my legs. Boring.

Wednesday 1/12
6.06 miles, 1328 vert - I ran the BST in Draper. It was a beautiful day. After the 6 degrees beating the morning before I was able to run without gloves. Hit the trail with Matt W and we had to turn around a bit early due to larger snow drifts covering the trail.

Thurs 1/13
3.8 miles, 2300 vert - Wire Peak again with Matt R (yeah, I know a lot of Matts) and Scott W. Quicker day as it was super warm and the trail was beaten in better. Hit the top in 53:31 and roundtrip in 1:14:51, considerably faster than Tuesday. I think in the summer I could make it to the top in the lower 40s and round trip in under an hour. It will definitely be a goal of mine.

Friday 1/14
9 miles, 600 vert - I ran the Pipeline Trail in Millcreek Canyon. There were lots of people snow shoeing in big jackets, beanies, and snow pants. I ran by in shorts and a long sleeve shirt. Ha. I went up Church Fork, out to the point and back, and a quick out and back east on the trail to get an extra couple of miles.
1 mile, 0 vert - After getting home I picked up my son and we drove down to a park where we ran 1 mile on the dirt path around the park. He just wanted to get some exercise in. I'm so proud of what he's doing.

Saturday 1/15
Nothing. I couldn't find the time or means to get out.  Shame really.

Weekly Total:
31.96 miles
6628 vert

I think overall I accomplished my goals. It seems like there was a lot of vert in there, something I committed to not doing. But most of it was hiking and low impact. I'll have another moderate week and then start pushing my training a little harder. My next race is Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Miler at the end of March and I'd like to be well prepared so that I can perform at my best. Since few are really reading this and no one ever comments I'll keep my fingers crossed for myself and not ask anyone else to do it too.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I've Got a Dream

I've been procrastinating writing up my 2011 goals on this site. I've had them posted on my personal running blog on another site where only a few friends will see them. As expected, many were awed by my lofty sights, but all were very supportive. Throwing them on here, for the world to see and ridicule, is a new level. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Miler - with my ankle hurt and considering the recovery time I really don't think I'll be in shape for the 100. I may even bump down to the 50k, but most likely will do the 50. I love running out on that island. Many people don't like the 50 because of the long, flat out and back on the west side. After running PE100 the last thing I fear is long and flat.

Timpanogos Double-up - this should be an easy middle of the week outing. I plan to run Timp about 10 times this year.

Timpanogos from Grove Creek - I am really excited for this one. I actually hope to do this a few times. About 30 miles round trip with about 8000 ft of vert (you actually lose nearly 1000 ft coming around the north side of the mountain that you have to gain again).

Zion Traverse - 48 miles of pure heaven.

Bryce Canyon Link-up - Doing it proper this year and definitely going to try and bag the very soft speed record. For those of you who enjoy the Grand Canyon R2R2R or the Zion Traverse, this is a must-do.

King's Peak Double - Yep, I'm going to run that silly mountain twice in one day. 52 miles. The last 5 miles are always a slog and now I get to do it twice. At least the first time will be in the dark. This goal is a guarantee for this year and down-right STUPID!

Quest for King's Marathon - Looking for a good turn-out this year. It is going to be a full-on party. I plan to have a very large campground set up a mile or two from the trailhead where we can all gather and party the night before. If it isn't on your calendar, set the date. Looking to do it the 3rd or so week in August. Reminder: this is a fun-run, not a real race. Although, the first person back does get the cow bell!

Wasatch 100 or Bear 100 - Whichever one I get into. This will be my big race focus of the year. All of my adventure runs during the summer will build for this.

Pony Express 100 - going for a sub-20 hour tour this time (hoping that I will be recovered enough from my previous 100). I think this race is going to get popular so I'm not going to target winning the thing. There is a solid chance some very good runners will show up this year. 100 straight, flat, long miles in the desert = awesome.

Grand Canyon R2R2R - there is no way I'm not doing it in 2011. I've waited too long.

6 days of Ultras - Yes, I plan to run 6 50k's in a row. It is helping me gear up for the next goal. 

Finally, I'm going to start running chunks of the Great Western Trail. My plan (about 5 years from now) is to run it from the Idaho border to the Arizona border in a single push. Should be 500+ miles. I'm hoping to run 25 - 40 miles a day. I need to get a good handle on the trail though. There isn't a single consistent trail (often times there are 2 - 3 trails that all bare the name and parallel each other) and it will be easy to get off track. I will be doing a ton of research over the next few years and just building mileage and getting to know the trail.

Notice that I'm only running three real races this year (I will do a road half and full with my wife this year, but those aren't goals, just expected). We are trying to buy a house in July and I want to focus financially on that. My adventure runs, while costly, are still about 1/4 of what it costs to run and support myself for an ultra race.

I know, these are a whole bunch of goals. Only two things will hold me back from achieving them; time and injury. If I can manage both appropriately I think I can do all of this. I don't fear any of them.