Sunday, June 14, 2015

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

Ok, I'm not really sponsored but since I've taken today off, I figure why not take the opportunity to do a short review of some of the products that have been helping me on my quest for a BQ. So without further ado, here we go.

Skora Running

Skora Phase
Probably the best shoe you've never heard of.

My first foray into Skora was with their very minimalist Phase model; a light, zero drop (all of their shoes are), minimally padded shoe (11 mm stack height). The first thing you will notice about them is their asymmetrical lacing (laces go off to the side) which is the reason I was drawn to them. I had been running in Newtons previously but had been developing TOF pain from the laces pressing on my extensor tendons. This was immediately cured although there is a bit of a transition even from a low, 4 mm, drop like the Newtons.

These bad boys are fast, light and wear incredibly well. In fact, my first pair has over 500 miles on them with plenty of life left on the sole. The upper mesh is starting to tear so they are in semi-retirement now that I have another pair I bought in January.

These are my go to race shoe. While I wouldn't use them as a distance trainer, they are just fine for the repeated pounding of a half marathon. Still I prefer to keep them for training runs under 7 miles just because my feet tend to get a little sore if I go any further. I also don't go off road too much since I can feel every stone  which my feet don't seem to like.

Skora Tempo
If it's a padded shoe you want, Skora has a show for you as well. Noticing the trend shift to the ultra padded, maximalist shoe, Skora has been wise to develop their Tempo model. At a 22 mm stack height it offers just enough padding for those who desire it.

Released in April 2015, it is still zero drop with asymmetrical lacing and under 8 oz. One addition that Skora made to the Tempo which I was unsure of at first was a bit of arch support. It felt strange at first but after a few miles the first time out I didn't even notice it.

Also on the first run they felt somewhat clunky but this too went away after I logged a few miles in them.

To me it is the perfect shoe for long runs and I do not get any foot pain even into the 20+ mile realm. My PF issues have seemed to gotten better since I've been using it for my long runs. Is it the arch support? No idea but the why isn't important. I just know what I feel.

The only real problem I had with them was a blister I had developed on the side of my left foot just below my big toe but this has more to do with the way I run and was cured by adding a pair of Injinji socks under my regular socks. A bit of Vaseline doesn't hurt either.

These are the shoes that I hope to BQ in and with only 180+ miles on them they look almost as good as new. Just a bit on the dirty side.

Skora Fit
My favorite Skora shoe though is their Fit. Like the rest of the line it is zero drop and asymmetrically laced and offers a bit more padding than the Phase at 16 mm stack height. They are also different from any other Skora model in that they have a 3D printed upper where the Phase and Tempo are mesh. Still it is quite breathable.

Putting on these shoes is like putting on a comfy pair of slippers and they are a joy to run in. With 400+ miles on them since December the soles look as good as new but the upper looks like it is staring to split where my foot bends. This is the same issue I had with a previous pair at 375 miles that Skora had me send in for evaluation and replaced. I hope this is something they have worked out on the newer models because I love, love love this shoe.

ENERGYbits

If you are looking for an all natural, nutrient dense, plant-based, fuel source then ENERYbits may be for you. Made from spirulina algae, packed with protein and loaded with 40 nutrients these little guys are a true superfood and unlike gels they contain no sugar. Now this isn't really a fair comparison since ENERGYbits are real food and not some man made concoction. What I do know is that you don't get the rush or crash like gels, just a steady source of energy.

I like to take 15 tabs pre-run and then go with 15 every 7 miles. This is lower than the recommended amount of 30 per serving but after some experimentation, this seems to work well for me. I also start off my day with 15 bits in my morning smoothie

The one thing you will not get, as I mentioned before, is any sort of rush from taking them; basically you don't feel anything at all. That said I notice a significant difference in my energy level in running with these and without. My immediate post-run recovery seems to be better as well.

Speaking of recover, they also offer RECOVERYbits which are made from chlorella algae. These too are all natural, loaded with protein and nutrient dense. Chlorella algae is said to be a great aid to your body by boosting the immune system as well as helping to remove toxins.

Since I am not a medical profesional and neither ENERGYbits or RECOVERYbits have been evaluated by the FDA, use your own judgement.

If you do want to see what bits are all about feel free to contact me for a sample. I'm also a brand ambassador and you will receive a 25% discount at energybits.com when you use promo code HalfFast.

Run-Bright

Yes, this is my own entry into the running gear market. We all know and have stories of drivers narrowly missing us as we run in the daylight, yet so few runners wear reflective gear when they run in the dark or low light. Why?

With 2 adjustable LED lamps that can be set to white or red light, on a reflective waist belt, the Run-Bright unit helps you be safe and be seen and is a great alternative to head-mounted or handheld lamps. Just strap it around your waist and run. What could be simpler.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

If you are looking for a watch that has it all, this is the watch for you. It may be somewhat overkill for just running and is big and on the bulky side but this also allows for an easily readable display at a glance.

With just about any metric you need available, variable warnings and programmable routines I probably only use a small percentage of what the watch is capable of.

With the added HRM it has given me a better grasp of how I am training and with Garmin Connect I can geek out over my stats to see exactly how the run went. It has also allowed me to train to the Maffetone Method which has help me improve as a runner greatly.

The watch has not been without it's problems though. The first one needed to be replaced under warranty due to trouble acquiring a satellite read as well as a incorrect readings on the charge level. I also just had the HRM monitor replaced for erratic readings. In both cases Garmin took care of it. Just be warned that dealing with their customer service can be frustrating at times.

Inside Tracker

There is one piece of gear that almost all recreational runners overlook; our own bodies. Even though we try to eat clean (or not) and think we are healthy, how do we really know?

Sure, Mark Cuban created a firestorm of controversy when he tweeted that people should get quarterly blood tests and was completely berated for it. But was he that wrong?

I may not be an elite athlete but that doesn't mean that I don't want to do my best. After all isn't that the purpose of eating right, getting plenty of sleep, waking up early on weekends to log long runs and all the other things we do as runners? Why wouldn't you want to optimize your diet for better performance?

So I just had my first test done and for the most part I'm in the optimal range for what I had tested in Performance. It came as no surprise that my total cholesterol was elevated given that I eat a high fat diet and that I could use more sodium in my diet but what was a huge surprise was how deficient I was in Vitamin D.

One thing I didn't know until recently is how big a role Vitamin D plays in athletic performance and this certainly explains a few things in regards to training performance and my weight. I'm just happy to have discovered this with enough time to do something about it before race day.

So there you go. I hope this is helpful to you all and I'd love to hear your feedback

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