Posts Tagged ‘ Gear ’

Are Newtons the Next Running Craze?

   I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker when it comes to neon workout gear. So when I saw the latest issue of Runner’s World and its article on Newtons running shoes with all the glossy, brightly colored photos of brand spanking new shoes, I was a goner. Utterly. Hopelessly. Done for. I am that person that advertisers hope to attract. The raccoons of the human race. The ones that see something bright and shiny and must have it. Ok, maybe I’m not that bad, but that was my initial reaction. And that coupled with my interest and intrigue with the concept of minimalist running, made me want to read all about Danny Abshire and his neon shoes.

Without reiterating the entire article, Abshire wanted to make a shoe that would “Make you run like you were born to run” (a slogan on the Newton website). After years of research and development, Abshire made the latest addition to the Newton family of shoes, one that has a lower heel-to-toe drop that promotes a forefoot strike. Ideally, one should run on her forefoot not her heel which, developed properly, will make you more efficient and less prone to injury.

One of the problems of transitioning from a cushioned shoe to a minimalist one (be it a pair of Vibrams or Newtons) is that users are often still running with the same gait as before and therefore not running more naturally and still run the risk of injury. But if a shoe can almost force your gait to change, like the Newton heel drop design, then maybe that’s a good thing. I’m not convinced one way or the other in regards to minimalist shoes vs. more cushioned running shoes, but I do think that Newtons are going in the right direction. Maybe my next pair of running shoes will be a pair of neon Newtons. 😀

Happy running!

 

 

Running Barefoot

“The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised.”

Thus sayeth Vibram Five Fingers. Well, thus their website sayeth.

A friend of mine swears by these shoes for her running needs and eschews all other running footwear. I remain skeptical. Vibram’s Five-Finger foot offerings go beyond running to meet all other footwear needs. The idea being that we need to keep our feet healthy and to do so we must forsake comfort and cushion and return to the barefooted roots of our ancestors. I think it’s all the latest gimmicky fad, but have never tried them either.

The jury is still out for me, but I want to know:

Have you ever tried Vibrams or know someone who has? If so what do you think of them?

Fitness Friday!

Winter is upon us.

The trees are leafless, the ground is frost covered, and the air is crisp with the smell of fire and snow. Now is the perfect time to get out your outdoor winter gear and enjoy the cold weather. Despite the fact that the cold sometimes burns my lungs, I would much rather run in colder weather than hot weather. I’ve been collecting winter running gear over the years and am happy with what I now have as I always feel comfortable during a chilly run.

If you are wanting to run outside, but don’t know where to start, here are some essential items I would recommend*:

Hat – Having a warm head is important not only to keep your ears warm, but keeping your head covered is a surefire way to stave off sickness. My fav is my black Smartwool beanie. Soft, warm and wicking!

 

 

Gloves – I have to admit I normally go cheap with these and just pick up those two packs of black one-size-fits-all gloves from Target or somewhere akin. Reason is I’d rather spend the extra dough on a jacket that has inside hand covers that allow you to tuck your hands within an inner sleeve layer. My hands always stay nice and toasty!

 

 

Jacket – My favorite jacket is my bright blue Nike Element Thermal jacket with its inside sleeve pockets to tuck my hands into and it’s thumb holes for when my hands start warming up. It’s full zip and has a zipper on the sleeve to store a key or cash. I am a big fan of Nike for many reasons one of which being that their clothes often have reflective decals on them that are subtle but effective in the darker days of winter!

 

 

 

Base layer – A wicking base layer is important to keep sweat from your body so you don’t start shivering while you run. I love my long sleeved Nike Miler Base Layer shirt just for those reasons.

 

 

 

Pants – Not everyone love spandex or is comfortable running in them. I love them because they don’t inhibit my running and they are super-warm! My favs are the Nike (yes, I’m obsessed) Element Windless Women’s Running Tights as they (as the name implies) don’t allow drafts and have a pocket tucked inside the back for an ipod, key, or cash.

 

 

 

Socks – Love the Smartwool when it comes to my feet! My toes tend to get really, really cold very fast and I need socks that will wick away moisture so I don’t get blisters while still insulating. I have a range of these (just choose ones that fit your running needs) from thinner and lower to taller and thicker.

 

 

 

Shoes – Whatever shoe fits your foot the best you can use during the winter (for the most part). If it’s icy I throw on a pair of Yak-Trax over my sneaks and I’m good to go.

 

 

 

 

* I live on the East Coast where winters tend to range from 30s and lower with snow and ice. No temperate climate and no negative wind chills!

When buying any running gear I HIGHLY recommend utilizing the wisdom and support of your local running store. Not only will they offer great discounts on quality brands, but they are very knowledgeable as they are runners themselves.

REMEMBER – Be safe and run on lit roads with reflective gear and always let someone know where you’re going. Happy trails! 🙂

Pinching the Cup: My Five Top Tips for Beginning Runners

I don’t come from a family of runners. In fact, when I run races they tend to scoff. Why on earth, they say, would anyone want to run on Thanksgiving morning? And when I ran my longest distance last year at the Philadelphia Broad Street Run – a 10-miler – and I told them my time, my mom asked why I stopped to pee as this added to my time and my brother said he could run that race faster than I did. Ah, families.

But I love my family (I mean, what family is perfect?), so I smile and  my girlfriend defends my honor (my hero!). All these factors made it that much sweeter when my sister called me a couple of days ago and said she wanted to run a race with me – and, after I picked my jaw and cell off the floor where it had fallen from my hand in shock, I said I would love to!

My sister has had two children and is on a mission to get fit. She had been lifting weights, but wanted to add some cardio into her routine. Wanting a goal and a way to shock the other members of our family (more on that in a minute) she asked me to run a 5k with her. Her idea is this: We both register for a race that the rest of the family can attend. I tell them to come out and cheer me on, then she shows up, suited up in running attire, and shocks, awes, and amazes the fam with her first 5k run.

Like Sarah, I think that many people start running later in life. Many want to try it, but don’t know where to start. I wanted to post something that would help those interested in lacing up for the first time get moving.

Here are my Five Top Tips for Beginning Runners:

1. Start slow – For any runner running too fast, too far, too often will not only injure you, but it will burn you out mentally and emotionally and most likely prevent you from wanting to continue with your running mission. My advice is to start with a walk/run combo. Gradually increase the run to walk ratio until you can run at a comfortable (ie. not labored breathing) pace for 5min. Increase the amount you run/pace you run by NO MORE than 10% each week as you feel comfortable.

2. Stretch – I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do this! Stretching improves your flexibility and helps to keep you injury-free. For some great stretches click HERE.

3. Cross Training (XT) and Rest Days – I am a big proponent of incorporating both XT and Rest days into your running regime. Doing this allows for your muscles to have ample time to recover as well and strengthen muscles in a variety of ways. My favorite XT activities are biking, which is great for the legs and has helped me become a stronger runner, and weight lifting – especially those that will strengthen your core as this is most likely to make you a stronger runner and keep you injury free. BONUS: The more you build muscles, the more fat you burn when you do cardio activities. For some clutch weight lifting exercises click HERE.

4. Diet – Whether you are interested in running for weight loss or because you enjoy being active, your diet is an important key to becoming a successful runner. You’ve probably heard of “carb loading” before a race, but make sure you test what foods work best with your system BEFORE the night before the race. Every body is different and will respond to different foods as such. Meals high in fiber the day before (or the morning of) are never a good idea. HERE are some eating suggestions, but the best advice I can give is to try what works best with your body and go with that.

5. Gear and Guides – As with starting any new activity you can become inundated with information and “helpful” suggestions. From shirts to shoes to shorts, the apparel for runners is vast. Then you get into accessories with reflectors,GPS watches, water belts, and sunglasses. It can be overwhelming! Here’s what you should do: Find your local running store, tell them you’re a beginning runner, and start asking questions. The vast majority of people you will talk to will be runners themselves and know the answers to a lot of your questions. (DO NOT go to those grotesquely huge “sports” store to ask as they will not be helpful) Local running stores will often have postings of group runs or individuals looking for running partners if that is something that interests you.

The only item that is a necessary part of healthy running is a good pair of running shoes. These you can get at your local running store as well. Every foot is different and thus everyone needs a different type of shoe. This is one of those occasions where you should spend the extra money (ballpark $100) for a quality shoe as these will help you become a better runner and keep you injury-free. For additional questions I always turn to Runner’s World – both the website and the magazine (most libraries carry subscriptions) have a lot of great advice.

And – some parting words of wisdom – DON’T FORGET TO PINCH THE CUP! Hydration whenever you run is key and most 5k races (and ALL races farther than that) will have water stations along your route. Here’s the key that another runner told me after much water dribbling on my part – If you pinch the cup in half, it creates a smaller opening allowing you to drink and get hydrated while not pouring the majority of it down the front of your shirt. Sweet!

Happy running my friends!