Tag altra

Almost Half Way



Another crazy adventure has consumed my life and it’s been a whirlwind of up’s and down’s. We are not almost halfway through the trip and it has absolutely flown by.

 

XTERRA West Championship - Las VegasJennifer and I left Boulder in late April less than one week after I returned from Las Vegas for the XTERRA West Championship. The goal of that race was just to show that I could race again. It had been almost 8 months to the day since I was hit by a truck. The recovery has been slow, but I was excited to see that I could swim, bike, and run again (yet not as fast as I would have hoped). I led a group of about 8 or so athletes on the swim, so that put a smile on my face when I exited the water. My new Scott Spark 900SL worked perfectly in the dry desert and my Altra Superior 1.5’s were just the right shoe for the run. It wasn’t an impressive race, but like I said, I was happy to finish and 13th was ok.

 

Once I returned from that race, the big adventure began! Within a little more than a week, we flew to Amsterdam, picked up our RV, drove to Tuscany and ran a 50k ultra run. To see more of the photos and read some of the stories, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also read some blogs that I have posted on Triathlete.com.

 

XTERRA SpainWe headed to Spain next for the first XTERRA of our European tour. They ended up cancelling the swim and making it a duathlon. After a 4k run to start things, they sent us down “20 Clavicals” for a super technical descent and start to the bike. For reasons still unknown, at the end of the bike, officials changed the bike course while we were out there. It became a hike-a-bike for nearly 30 minutes. At one point I caught up to the guy marking the new route with tape. No one seemed to know what was going on and athletes were going in all different directions. I held on as long as I could, but the addition time on the bike messed with my nutrition and I cracked near the end of the run. I was able to hang on for 6th.

 

 

XTERRA PortugalWithout delay, we hopped in the van the next day and made our way to Portugal for the next race the following weekend. Portugal was a far better experience than Spain. We had wonderful, inexpensive camping close to the venue, the organization was spot on, the town was amazing, food fantastic, and had such a wonderful time after the guessing game we had the week before. I wish my race had gone as well as the rest of the experience. I had some issues with nutrition again on the bike and took a wrong turn on the run and ended up finishing 5th on the day.

 

Without a day to spare, we were back in the van and on the road again. We made our way across northern Spain, southern France, and northern Italy in search of trails, pools, and fun sites. We weren’t able to find much of any of those, so we hopped on a ferry in Northern Italy to cut out some of the driving time on our way to Greece.

 

XTERRA GreeceGreece ended up being a far different experience than we had expected. The location was beautiful, the organization one of the best that I had ever seen, and the people amazing, but the town was close to non-existent. We spent the week living off of bread, cheese, and canned meat. With the lack of training over the last couple of months, my efforts in the race we’re less than impressive. I did what I could, but 9th pro was the best I could muster for the day. We had an amazing meal with Kahuna Dave after the race and stuffed ourselves silly on some traditional Greek food.

 

In efforts to better our training and hopefully alleviate some of the stress of being on the road in so many foreign countries, we’ve decided to skip XTERRA Switzerland and head straight to XTERRA France. Let the adventure continue!

 

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Newest Shoes for 2012



I’m excited to see all the different options for natural running shoes that are hitting the market lately. Since the New Balance 790’s were discontinued a few years ago, I’ve been on a search for a replacement shoe. In the 790’s, I could run short, long, fast, slow, trail, road, track, you name it, it could do it. I loved that shoe and have yet to find something that is as versatile.




I am all about asking around and seeing what works for others. Lately I’ve been talking to my brother about Altra running shoes. He’s a huge fan of the Instinct. He’s been using them for over a year now. He mainly does runs between 2-4 miles, so they fit his purposes well. He was looking at getting a pair of Sampson‘s when they come out because they are a bit more minimalist. I’m very intrigued to try those as well. Altra just came out with their first trail shoe, the Lone Peak, but unfortunately they are bit “too much shoe” for my tastes. The sole is a bit thick and they added a rock plate. There is also a “brake” on the rear of the heal. All of this, in my opinion, takes away from the feel of the trail.



There are so many different types of “minimal” shoes out there now – Inov8, VivoBarefoot, Newton, Vibram 5 fingers, just to name a few, that the options are becoming quite plentiful. I wish I could try them all out, but seeing as I’m not made of money, I have to do some research and determine which will work best for what I’m trying to achieve. Good thing I love running, otherwise I might see this research as “work” rather than fun.


Natural running has caught on so well, that is no longer a “niche” group of runners who are concerned with it. There is actually a store that carries only “natural” running shoes. Fittingly it’s call The Natural Running Store. They have a kind of funny video talking about natural running. They talk about “marching band” stance, which is the same thing as the 100 Up idea that I made a quick video about a while ago with elite trail runner John Tribba. Being in Boulder it I can’t go without mentioning Newton and Danny Abshire and all they have done to help boost this movement. Though I may not be the biggest fan of all their shoes (some are too over built), I can truly connect with their philosophies and desire the help runners run better. Don’t get me wrong, I like their shoes (I ran in them for 2 years), but just not all their models.


The most recent shoe that I’ve been testing out (and am really liking thus far) is the New Balance MT110. The two precursors to this shoe (MT100 and 101) missed the mark in my opinion. They tried to take a minimalist trail shoe and add too much to it. I really like the reviews that IRunFar.com produces and I use those as a starting point for much of my research. That is what got me so excited for the MT110. NB decided to let true trail runners design the shoe and the MT110 is the result. In theory it’s what I’ve been looking for since the 790, and thus far it’s living up to my expectations. Light weight, both in build and feel, low heal-to-toe drop, no rock plate, durable yet flexible upper, higher density rubber in the forefoot and heal (not in the mid foot where flection is needed), and moderately sized lugs to give traction but not make you slow off the trails.


This blog is nothing revolutionary or ground breaking, but I am just excited to share my thoughts on the fact that natural running is finally being accepted more prevalently. It’s so great to see this idea getting some momentum and really starting to spread. And if you’re looking for a bit of a laugh check out the video below. My favorite scene is the final one…


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Just for Kicks



Over the past 4 years, I have run almost exclusively in the New Balance 790 (shoes on the right side of the pic). They are a very minimal, low profile, light weight shoe that I absolutely loved. I loved it so much that I bought several pairs once I heard they were going to discontinue it. But now that those reserve pairs are almost gone, I’m looking at a replacement for it. The first shoe I’m going to try is the Nike Free.

One of the best things about the 790 was that there wasn’t much to it. No rock plates, no support guards, no energy return systems, no nothing. They were an 8oz, low heel to toe drop speed machine that allowed me to feel the ground below me. With this shoe I ran the TransRockies Run 2x, over 50 XTERRA’s,  dozens of 5k’s and 10k’s, and more miles than I can count for training, and all without a single injury.

One of the reasons that I haven’t run in a different shoe than the 790 is that I couldn’t find much that matched it. Even in the Free, there is more cushioning and more of a heel to toe drop (pretty obvious from the picture). I am a little nervous about heel to toe drop difference, but I’m willing to try it out and see if I can really feel the difference. Another big difference between the Free and the 790 is the thickness of the sole. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing because the sole is still very flexible and soft (won’t inhibit proprioception). Another concern arises from the fact that I run almost entirely off road and with the upper of the Free being a bit more light, I hope it is as durable. We’ll find out!

I also plan to try out the Altra Instinct and the Inov-8 F-lite 195. I’ll post more blogs about my findings as they develop.

I hope this serves as a guide for others, that you should try out various types of shoes and models to find what is really best for you. Swing by your local Fleet Feet and ask to try on ALL the shoes that interest you and run around the block in them. You’ll really start to get a feel for what works for you.

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