How to Make Urban Running More Exciting January 02 2013
There are two types of runs. The ones where you can barely contain your excitement, skipping out the door with your running shoes, twirling with excitement (ok, that’s just me). But the point is that you feel great, ready to go, and it’s amazing. Then there is the other type of run. The one where you sit on the couch glaring at your shoes, wondering how much you’ll really regret it if you just totally bail on today’s run. For me, pretty much every urban run that does not involve beer or donuts is the dragging myself out the door type of run. I’m a trail runner through and through. Unless I can feed off the race day energy of a road race, I can’t stand running on the pavement. At all. But unfortunately, not every day can be a trail run so I’ve had to figure out ways to trick my mind into looking forward to urban running by creating games for myself.
To prevent burnout on days you can’t hit the more inspiring running areas, here’s how to keep urban running a little more interesting
I like to try and beat cars to the next stoplight. On the sidewalk, you guys. You need to stay on the sidewalk for this game. In areas of high traffic, this game isn't that exciting. On the other hand you get to enjoy the glowering faces of drivers who realize that you are going faster than they are. On foot.
Embrace the Obstacles
Fire hydrant? Leap over it. Stray shopping cart? Take it for a spin. Low wall? Run on top of it. See how fast you can sprint through a crowded sidewalk. Dock points every time you knock someone over.*
Join the Hash House Harriers
Dance at Stoplights
Nothing irritates me more than being in the zone and having to break my running groove because of a redlight and an ill-timed pedestrian crossing. Inevitably I feel awkward and annoyed standing there while jogging in place waiting for the light to change so instead I do jumping jacks or, if I have my iPod, I dance. I give myself bonus points if I can make drivers laugh.
Stop for Donuts
Take that, trail running. I enjoy my urban runs a lot more if I know I’m going to end it somewhere fun for a hard-earned cinnamon roll or some tacos at that amazing taco truck that's a little too far from home to walk. Not the healthiest option, but if that’s what it takes to get me out the door on my 8-mile city loop then so be it. I can make my peace with that.
The group for "alcoholics with a running problem," they frequently run costumed through upscale areas of major metropolitan areas to prove that nothing forges camaraderie better than running, beer, and drunken shenanigans. Wherever you are, running with these guys is sure to liven up any urban running adventure.
I know. The only thing that sounds less exciting than running the same five-mile loop you do at least twice a week is running it on a track. But if you join a track club, you can get the benefit of a varied training program (speed work, yay!), and the company of other runners. Also, no stoplights or obstacles. Unless you feel like dragging the hurdles out.
There's an App for That
It's called Zombies, Run! If you haven't already, you should download it. Urban running, training program, zombies. It really doesn't get any more exciting than that.
*Don't really do this one. While it is entertaining to pretend you're in a video game, nobody wants to be blindsided by a runner sprinting around the corner. Maybe save the speed work for the track. Unless you're being chased by zombies.
The Inner Monologue of a Runner October 23 2012
When people tell me that they admire my dedication and willpower for getting out to go run, I smile and then I feel grateful that they can’t hear what goes on inside my head before I actually get out to run. Don’t get me wrong. I love to run. I adore it. It makes my day, it makes me happy, it empties my head and fills my heart. But I also really like my couch and my pajamas. I’ve really tried to be one of those eager morning runners, but...well, see this post.
In the morning when my alarm clock goes off at 6:00 a.m., my inner monologue looks something like this:
Me: Ok, if I get up now, I can go for a run and still have time to make it to work. Ready, body? Let's go.
Body: That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard. It's warm in bed, cold outside. Hit snooze alarm. All three of them. You can run later.
And then I go back to sleep, placating my gnawing conscience by telling it I will go for a run in the afternoon and it will be a better run than If I had gone in the morning. It will be warmer and I’ll feel more energized and ready to get out and exercise. Then in the afternoon, after I’ve had the entire day to think about going out for a run, the inner monologue starts up again.
Me: Time to get ready to go for a run!
Body: It's kind of cold. I don't really want to go outside.
Me: That’s what running tights and Hello Kitty Arm Warmers are for!
Body: I feel kind of sluggish today.
Me: You’ll feel better once you’re outside.
Body: There was a tinge in my calf. I just felt it. I shouldn't run. I'll injure myself.
Me: It’s fine. We’ll just stretch it out.
Body: Running every day isn't good for you. Maybe you should just eat this donut instead.
Me: Get the f@#& outside right now!
Body: You’re a real jerk, you know that.
And then after five minutes running:
Body: ZOMG WE ARE RUNNING! I LOVE RUNNING! RUNNING IS THE BEST! RUN ALL THE HILLS!
And then as soon as I start actually running up a hill, my body once again feels the need to provide commentary about how stupid running is and how I should walk or maybe take up something less strenuous like mini-golf, for example.
When I get to the top of the hill, standing on a ridge, looking out over San Francisco across the Bay with the Berkeley hills behind me, the sun is setting and I'm just rejoicing at the opportunity to be there in that moment, enjoying the spectacular beauty of the Bay Area.
Every run it’s the same routine. I don’t know if I have good willpower. I’m just really good at arguing with myself. And for that reason, I am really happy nobody else has access to my inner monologue.
How to Run Downhill Efficiently September 21 2012
Most runners look forward to descents. Provided the hill is at a gentle angle and you haven't just had knee surgery, running downhill feels like relief. It's a chance to catch your breath and relax a little after a grueling hill sprint. Until you start mountain running. Once you hit the trails, descents suddenly become twisted obstacle courses that you stumble through on jelly legs while employing various *ahem* interesting descent techniques. One day it will dawn on you that it's pretty much impossible to look cool while running as fast as you can down a muddy single-track carved into the side of a mountain. Until then, here are some of the tried and true approaches to wrestling with gravity on your way to the finish line.
The preferred method of serious mountain runners. You can’t beat the efficiency and speed at which you descend while utilizing this technique. Side effects include broken limbs, bruised ego, and blood. Bring band-aids.
Sticking your arms out at odd angles while dropping down a single-track greatly enhances your ability to maintain an upright position while descending. Those who aren’t comfortable with falling down the mountain generally utilize this method. For best results, stick your arms out and wave them wildly.
Newbies to mountain running can be identified by their all-fours approach to descending down the rock-infested trails. With anything involving loose rocks, muddy slopes, boulders, or rain-slicked grass, beginners can be found cautiously sliding down the mountain and cursing the idiot who invented mountain running.
For switchbacks, experienced runners take advantage of extraneous objects like trees, rocks, or fence posts to help make the turns. When done properly, runners hardly need to slow down as they catapult themselves around a bend in the trail. Side effects include splinters, extremely bad wipeouts,* and general awesomeness.
For those snowy patches of the trail, employ either a sitting or standing glissade. Essentially, a combination between falling and crawling. Side effects include freezer burn and torn running shorts.
Leaping over uneven parts of the trail as they descend generally leaves runners feeling like they’re in the Matrix or filming the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Side effects include sprained ankles.
While not as safe as crawling, you're far less likely to twist an ankle. Side effects include public shaming as other runners bomb past you while employing "falling" and "catching air" techniques.
*According to Merriam-Webster, the act or instance of wiping out: complete or utter destruction.
How to Run During a Heat Wave August 16 2012
First, look at the weather report. Notice that it’s showing a radioactive red. Consider moving somewhere else for the summer. Realize that everywhere is showing a radioactive red. Decide to take up swimming.
Head to the pool, swim one lap, become really, really bored. Try to start up a conversation with a swimmer in the lane next to you to stave off boredom. Nearly drown. Decide to try swimming in open water. Underestimate currents, water temperature, and stray leaves and/or kelp that may or may not be sharks. Realize you hate swimming.
Set your alarm for 5:30 AM. Realize you are not a morning runner. You’ve actually known this for some time, but you’ve been in denial about it.
Decide to run later in the evening when it cools off. Realize it’s 9:00 PM and you’re still waiting for it to cool off. Decide it’s too late to run and eat a carton of ice cream instead.
Optimistically set your alarm for 5:30 AM. Again. Crawl out of bed. Put your running clothes on backwards and inside out. Try to convince your body to start running. Body tells you to f*@! off. Start running very slowly and painfully. Get distracted by a coffee shop. Decide running is stupid and donuts and lattes are awesome.
Resign yourself to running in furnace-like temperatures. Go for a run at your usual time of 5:00 PM. Nearly die. Crawl back home and lie in a bath of ice until your body is restored to its normal temperature.*
Purchase a gym membership. Feel really out of place in your old cotton t-shirt and tattered running shorts. Resolve to purchase matching workout clothes immediately after workout. Get on treadmill. Start pressing random buttons in an ill-fated attempt to look like you know what you're doing. When treadmill immediately starts up and kicks into highest gear, sprint and keep pressing buttons before leaping off in a panic. Walk away casually and pretend this was all part of your plan.
Buy an umbrella hat. This really has nothing to do with anything. We’re just trying to see if we can start a new trend. Is it working? Click here. How about now?
Stuff your running shorts with ice cubes. Immediately realize this is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had. Considering you once hugged a cactus (I was three, ok!), that’s saying something.
In an act of desperation, spend a week vacationing in Death Valley. When you return, anything under 130 will feel like an Arctic expedition.
Give up running until winter.
Start going for midnight runs. Realize you are unable to stay up past 10:00 PM. Also, it's really dark at night. And there might be ghosts. Or opossums, which are equally terrifying.
Move to Siberia. Or San Francisco. When you arrive in San Francisco, text your friends in other parts of the country to tell them that you're back in the Bay Area and you're wearing a jacket.
Friends in Oklahoma and Texas write back, "What is a jacket?"
Once safely ensconced in coastal fog, go for run at 5:00 PM (in running tights because it's cold). For the first time in recent memory, praise Bay Area weather and vow never to leave the Bay Area again during the summer months....unless it's to visit Seattle.
*If you are actually suffering from heat stroke, please don't do this.
You Know You Work At Greenlight Apparel When... July 30 2012
We’re not your average apparel company. Aside from doing things a little differently on the business side of things (e.g. donating 25% of our profits to causes we believe in like microfinance and education), we’re a fun-loving crowd with a propensity for causing a little bit of chaos (the good kind) whenever we hit the road for race expos or get together for late night merchandising sessions. Don’t tell us you’ve never sat in an office till 9 pm with a hang tag gun and thousands of shirts. No? Hm. Maybe that's just us. We’ll put it onto the list of “things that happen when you work at Greenlight Apparel.”
Curious to see what else is on that list? Well, lucky you, we've got it right here. Drumroll please.
You know you work at Greenlight Apparel when:
- You’ve had at least one inappropriate encounter with a mannequin at a race expo. Instead of helping you out of your accidentally awkward position, your co-workers stand around and laugh or fumble for their cameras so they can get documentation for the blog.
You own a Momentum shirt. Possibly two. Ok, fine. Three.
- When you’re out with your friends you suddenly become really excited as you point at random strangers and say “That’s one of our shirts. See it? There’s another one. The US Half one, right there!? See it?!”
- You have race shirts from races you haven’t run. You spend a lot of time awkwardly explaining why you’re wearing a marathon finisher shirt for a marathon you didn’t even enter.
The thought of assembling clothing racks fills you with dread.
- You’ve raced over to IKEA and completely cleaned them out of hangers. Twice.
- You can explain microfinance in 60 seconds or less.
- You use the phrases “Corporate Social Responsibility” “Fair Trade” “Organic Cotton” “Microfinance” and “I want a donut” on a daily basis.
- You once valeted a U-Haul van because there wasn’t any parking in downtown Sacramento.
You can say things like “Remember that time we valeted the U-Haul?”
One of the suggestions of things to do at the office holiday party was skeet shooting. The other was going to the San Francisco Academy of Sciences. Diversity is important.
- Watching the Women’s Microfinance Initiative videos gets you a little choked up.
- Working includes going to the House of Air in San Francisco and jumping on trampolines. It was for a photo shoot. Honest.
- You are a walking encyclopedia of races around the country.
- You post funny dog pictures on the company Pinterest page even though they have nothing to do with running, athletic apparel, or social justice. You may or may not have also posted a video of a duck running.
- At race expos, you spend the entire day in the convention center and still have no idea where anything is.
- While manning the storefront at the Costco roadshow, you make friends with all of the free food sample vendors. Immediately.
You always have to explain where Fremont is in relation to San Francisco.
You’ve received at least one lecture on why eating sugar is really bad for you and why you should cut it out of your diet. You went for a week and then gave up. It’s important to be healthy, but after running 26.2 miles, nobody should deprive themselves of a donut. Nobody.
- You get to go to really amazing places like Uganda and meet with wonderful people doing incredible things to end poverty, fight injustice, and empower individuals around the world. You’re really happy to be a part of that.
- You like donuts. A lot.
What Pinterest Taught Us About Runners July 11 2012
Runners like state of the art running watches. They like the OC Marathon race shirts. They like that pasta recipe from Runner’s World for a pre-race dinner. They even like the inspirational quotes about never giving up and dragging yourself out bed to pursue the runner’s high.
They like Brooks running shoes, pink compression socks, chia seeds, and workout plans. They like Born to Run and epic photographs of stunning trail vistas. All of this they like. It makes them smile, receives an occasional like, maybe a repin, sometimes a comment.
But, according to our Pinterest boards, what runners really like are margaritas, donuts, and references to zombie apocalypses.
We’re not surprised.
Here is a list of the things we’ve always suspected about runners, but needed Pinterest to confirm.
Runners Prefer Margaritas to Gatorade
We’ve had our suspicions about this one for awhile, but we chalked up the Berkeley Running Club’s propensity for margarita-flavored Shot Bloks to...well, being from Berkeley. But apparently it’s not just us. Margarita-flavored Gatorade, anyone?
Runners Generally Prefer Any Alcoholic Beverage to Gatorade
Not seeing too many Gatorade pins on Pinterest. Just numerous references to IPA being the best recovery drink for ultra runners. If you run with the Hash House Harriers they might kick you out for choosing Gatorade over an alcoholic beverage. Just kidding. But you don't get the "alcoholics with a running problem" shirt.
Runners Like Cupcakes.
“You know what I really want after this 15-mile run? A kale salad.” - said no one ever. We want donuts, ice cream, potato chips, french fries, chocolate and an IPA to wash it all down, thank you very much.
Runners Might Possibly Be Zombies
Ok, this one was surprising, but our most popular pin/Facebook post of all time was a shirt referencing a zombie apocalypse. We suggested it as a training shirt for long runs or maybe a race day shirt. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought that was the. best. idea. ever. Who knew? Maybe runners secretly relate to zombies. Halfway through 26.2 miles, you pretty much feel like one. Minus the whole feeding on other people thing. That hasn’t really caught on. Must...refrain....from....bath....salt...reference.
Runners Like Photos of Cute Dogs
Because who doesn’t? Runners are human after all. Maybe. We might also be zombies. In that case, zombies also enjoy photos of cute dogs. You learn something new every day. The most popular photos for runners/zombies portray dogs sticking their nose into the camera with a caption along the lines of “it’s 6:00 a.m. You’ve slept long enough.” Anyone who has trouble getting up early for a morning run should invest in a border collie. Or three.
...Not as Partial to Ducks
Not one like or repin on a video of a duck going out for a run? Really, you guys? Really?! We’re disappointed.
Runners Like Motivational Posters Advising Them to Run "Like You Stole Something”
With the number of likes on this motivational race day message, it would appear that a large number of runners have experience “running like they stole something.” Such a deviant crowd. Guess that’s why we’re runners and not ballet dancers. Nothing against ballet dancers. It’s just that, with the exception of Black Swan, you’re not exactly known for being the wild and crazy ones at the party.
Runners Like Being Reminded to Give 100%
Except when donating blood. They say running can kill brain cells so it's important to have these reminders about not giving away all of your blood. There are cookies involved when donating blood and it's common knowledge that runners can get carried away when it comes to cookies. After 26.2 miles most are on the verge of selling their soul for a cookie. Or a beer.
10 Reasons You Should Join A Running Club June 22 2012
Remember when you ran in high school and college, loading up in the van and driving to afternoon cross country meets? You’d be wedged in between two of your friends, juggling bottles of water, and pleading with the coach to pull over because one of you has to pee. Again. Somebody in the front seat would burp really loudly. The coach, who was usually someone’s Mom or Dad, would pretend to be annoyed. Everyone else would laugh. You’d swap Powerbars, trading a peanut butter bar for wild berry. You’d make faces while eating the banana that had been squashed in your bag all day and you’d speculate about the chances of stopping at In ‘n Out on the way home after the race. You always had someone to run with, someone to complain with, someone who made you laugh, and someone who totally understood the runner’s high and the runner’s low.
But then you graduate.
You leave high school and college teams behind. You vow to keep running. Every day you lace your running shoes up and head out the door. You start doing the same loops over and over again. The scenery is boring, your pace never changes. It becomes harder and harder to get out the door. You rely on your headphones, you consider joining a gym. You pine for the days when you always had someone to run with and then, you think, wait...a running club! There must be one, and there is.
Here are ten reasons you should consider joining it.
Ok, not all running clubs are free. The more competitive clubs usually have some sort of membership fee, but it's generally not that expensive. The majority of clubs are absolutely free.
Someone to Run With
Remember what it feels like to be so absorbed in conversation while running that when your running buddy announces the eight mile mark, you say “what?! no way!” Yeah, it’s a good feeling. Not only is it nice to get out and connect with people who share your passion for running, they’ll help motivate you to get out when you don’t feel like it and they’ll help you to stick with a training plan and run your best.
Running Club T-Shirts
Who doesn’t love a running club t-shirt? Especially one that's Fair Trade certified, made from recycled or organic materials, and helps support microfinance and education programs! That’s called winning. You’re welcome.
Raise your hand if you’ve done that one loop by your house more than three times this week? Yeah. Totally been there. Mapping out new routes and exploring new territory (especially with trail running) can be daunting when you’re all by your lonesome. Joining a running club will inspire and encourage you to get out and explore your city and its surrounding area. You’ll get to see something besides your neighborhood and that’s always fun.
Nobody wants to get into their car and drive to go on a run. It’s a little counter intuitive. Still, some of the more amazing runs out in the woods, the hills, or along the coast require a little bit of freeway time. While it sucks to do that on your own, it can be a hell of a lot of fun to pile into a car with your running buddies and head out on a Saturday morning. Running mix CD? Check. Coffee? Check. Awesome running vibes? Absolutely.
It’s pretty hard to meet up with someone two to three times a week, run 10 miles through the hills, exchange chia seed recipes, and complain about chafing without making a new friend or two.
“So, what race are you doing next?” The most frequently asked question in a running club. Seriously. You will hear more about local races than you ever imagined. If you’re looking for new races or training buddies for the races you’ve already signed up for, this is the place to go.
Runs that end at a bar? Because IPA is the best recovery drunk. Or how about a run that ends at a food truck event or a farmer’s market? Saturday morning run followed by brunch? You got it. Not every run has to be about personal records and negative splits. Sometimes they should be about beer and banana splits. You earned it.
New Drinking Buddies
Let's face it, IPA is the best recovery drink. Running and beer go so well together that there is a running club dedicated solely to combining the two. Their motto? Alcoholics with a running problem.
Mountain lions, rattlesnakes, heckling, runaway dogs, and traffic. Runners face a lot of obstacles on the trail and on the road, and there is definitely something to be said for safety in numbers. Joining a running club ensures that you'll never hit the trails alone (unless you want to) and that you'll look super cool charging down city streets in a pack of five, ten, or twenty runners.
Six Gross Things That Runners Do May 24 2012
Something happens to me when I put on my running shoes. Normally, I'm a pretty respectable citizen. And by respectable I mean someone who follows traffic laws, says "please" and "thank you," and doesn't think it's appropriate to urinate on the subway system (yeah, that happened). When I step out for a run, however, my mentality shifts. Suddenly I'm trotting through downtown in a spandex ensemble that rivals anything I've seen in the Castro, using my t-shirt to wipe the sweat off my face, and viewing bushes as prospective pit-stops. I don't know why, but running enables my "anything goes" mentality and when I say "anything goes," I mean anything.
When else is it appropriate to blow your nose without a handkerchief? Not only is shooting snot out of your nose totally acceptable while running, fellow runners will actually comment on your technique. I've even heard runners bemoan the fact that they can't effectively use this technique and have to a) use a Kleenex or b) their shirt. (Gross)
Treat Bushes as Restrooms
It would be really nice if there were restrooms along the trail. Unfortunately there aren't any. Just bushes. If you're lucky. This is where the argument for urban running is at its strongest: public restrooms.
It happens. Occasionally. In our defense, we don't swallow them intentionally. It just happens. At least we're not alone. Cyclists have this problem too.
Well, you have to get the bugs out of your mouth somehow. Sorry. Normally, I wouldn't be caught dead spitting in public, but once again, while running, I don't really give a damn. I blame exhaustion-induced delirium. That sounds legit, right?
We sweat. A lot. And it's not the cute pseudo-sweaty glow that people in color coordinated jogging suits sport when they jump off the treadmill after two minutes. It's more like, "Wow, I just got caught in a downpour and could easily wring out my t-shirt" kind of sweat.
Eat GU and Shot Bloks on a Regular Basis
At least they have a variety of flavors? Man, you know you've gotten in over your head as a runner when someone asks you if you want a margarita and they're not referring to a drink with tequila.
I'm Not a #@&%!$! Morning Runner May 18 2012
Dear alarm clock,
I'm worried about you. Every morning, you display the same dogged determination in trying to get me up and out of bed before 6:30 a.m. I'm concerned you might be delusional or suffering from memory loss. I've tried everything I can think of and while I'm not proud of the times that I physically and/or verbally assaulted you, I can honestly say that my aggravation stems from a serious concern about your mental well-being.
Over the span of our 15-year relationship, you have never given up on me. I appreciate this, but now I wish you would really just let it go and accept me for who I am: an afternoon runner.
I know that I'm partly to blame for your neurotic obsession with getting me up and running by 6:30 a.m. I always made sure to be in bed by 10:00 p.m., I set out my running shoes and clothes the night before, I arranged to meet fellow runners, and then I told you to please make sure I was out of bed by 6:00 a.m...6:27 at the latest.
As you are no doubt aware, I am fully capable of getting (mostly) into my running clothes and out the door within three minutes. By the time I am awake enough to notice that my sports bra is on inside out or that I forgot my shorts, I'm too oxygen-deprived and exhausted to care.
All of that aside, I've come to terms with the fact that I will never be a morning runner, and now I think it's time for you to accept it too. We both know I've tried. I suffered the early morning cold, fumbling for my keys while trying not to wake my roommate, slipping my feet into stiff, cold running shoes and then trying to coax my grumbling muscles that, like it or not, we're up, we're here, we're running. And then the, oh no we're not actually running because said muscles are angry and stiff and so instead of leaping down the trail like a gazelle, I'm lumbering awkwardly down the path like an overweight Dachshund with three legs. I apologize to overweight Dachshunds everywhere, but let's face it, you're awkward.
I repeatedly endured the chipper, perky, bouncy morning runners who have clearly consumed about five cups too many of some highly caffeinated substance and spend every morning run taking advantage of my pre-dawn confusion to talk about how much they love everything and how lucky we are to be alive. These are not things I disagree with, but I prefer to discuss them no earlier than 10:00 a.m.
Alarm clock, the reason that I have kept both of us going under this delusional dream is the fact that running in the morning is supposed to make me feel great and energized during the rest of the day. Usually I just feel annoyed that I left my bed an hour earlier than I needed to. I keep waiting for myself to become habituated to running in the morning so that I, too, can eagerly leap out of bed like a gazelle being chased by a lion.
But since it didn't happen yesterday, it didn't happen today, and it's probably not going to happen tomorrow either, I think it's time to throw in the towel.
I'm an afternoon runner. I have absolutely no self-discipline, am incapable of getting out of bed before 7:00 a.m., and prefer not to talk to anyone until I've gotten over my initial irritation on being out of bed in the first place. I'm not any more ashamed of this than you are of the fact that you're an out-dated relic from the '80's. And since, I've accepted your beige, bland, rectangular body with the red numbers against the black background, I think you can extend me the same courtesy of acceptance.
So the next time I ask you for a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call, would you please have the courtesy to either smack me in the face or reset your alarm to a more reasonable hour.
Thanks, little buddy.
OC Marathon Highlights May 15 2012
Even though it's exhausting being on your feet all day, I really do enjoy it when we get to head to race expos to man the Greenlight Apparel race merchandise booth. A few months ago we were at the California International Marathon, then there was Pat's Race in Arizona, and last weekend we headed to southern California for The OC Marathon.
Aside from getting to hang out with a bunch of runners and enjoy the warm southern California weather, our trip included the following highlights:
We Rented a Truck
Yeah, I know that doesn't sound that exciting, but look at this thing. It was enormous and slightly unwieldy. The shocks on this 13-foot beast were shot to hell so we spent most of trip bouncing along highway 5. On the plus side, none of us got carsick and we did get to experience the novelty of truck stops as well as going through the scales on the freeway. It's the little things in life. Next time we're getting a radio.
The OC TasteFest
Anything that combines a running event with a food event has my full support. Also there were coconuts. Although the straw wasn't particularly useful in trying to get at the actual coconut. They should consider serving it with a machete. I'm just saying.
In 'N Out
They have a vegetarian option. Mind blown.
Sunday morning we needed help setting up. Monika said an army of volunteers was on their way to help us out. I didn't think she meant it literally, but within five minutes a dozen uniformed soldiers were breaking down stands and moving race t-shirts and mannequins. It was kind of amazing.
And then this happened. In my defense, those mannequins are a little awkward to carry around. On a less awkward note, the OC Marathon shirts turned out great.
Notes on Running Naked April 24 2012
One day after a long run, I was standing near the trail head happily emptying the contents of a box of Annie's Bunny Grahams when a fellow runner pointed at me and said, "Nikki runs naked, too."
I'd only been half-listening to the conversation of congregating runners, but now my head shot up. Wait. What? I know my shorts are short, but I definitely have clothes on. Right? I start second guessing myself. I did leave the house without coffee so it's entirely possible that I just forgot to put shorts on. I looked down and breathed a sigh of relief. Yep, definitely have shorts on. Whew.
Laughing at my obvious confusion, my accuser then looked at me quizzically, "You don't wear a watch when you run, right? I've never seen you wear one."
Ohhh, that kind of naked running. Got it. Nope, no watch. I don't keep track of my miles, my times, or my climbs. I just get up and I go. I stop when I'm tired and I go when I'm feeling good. I wasn't always watch-less though.
Before my freshman year of high school, I ran because that was the perfect physical expression of my joy and enthusiasm for life. When I started racing at the high school level, people noticed me. They said I was fast. I broke records, won races, and suddenly the peace I derived from running was replaced with pressure.
By sophomore year of high school, I was terrified and miserable. Everyone expected I would continue to run faster and stronger. People jokingly asked when I was going to start training for the Olympics. I cried myself to sleep at night, desperately afraid that my freshman year was just a fluke and I wouldn't be able to keep up my winning streak. I suffered severe anxiety attacks before races and wondered if I would ever enjoy running again. I tried to quit several times, but never had the guts to go through with it. Running was the one thing I was very good at and I derived a lot of my self-worth from my ability to perform on the track.
Another six years went by before I reached a breaking point. After years of constantly monitoring splits, personal records, and lap times, I had forgotten how to be motivated by joy. I quit running for my university and vowed never to sign up for another race again. It would be five years before I broke that promise. In an attempt to distract myself from a broken heart, I spontaneously signed up for a small local race. Unfortunately, I won. Suddenly my running buddies were speculating about other local races I could be competitive in if I started training seriously. I found myself once again ducking conversations about splits, personal bests, and training theories on how to shave seconds.
After the race I sat at home running my fingers over the finisher medal and staring blankly at the bouquet of flowers I'd received on the podium. Then I made a decision. I put the medal in a box, gave the flowers to my roommate, and took the batteries out of my running watch.
I stopped wearing a watch. I stopped planning runs. I stopped worrying about times. I started "running naked" and I never looked back. Now I lace up my running shoes and I run as hard as I can for as long as I can. I don't worry about a damn thing, and it feels good. Fellow runners ask what my times are and I'm happy to tell them, "I have no idea." Maybe some day I'll dust off my running watch, but for now I'm happy to leave it at home.
My only motivation is the motivation I started with: the pure unadulterated love of running. There is nothing to distract me from admiring the adrenaline surging through my veins as I come up over the crest of a ridge, Berkeley at my feet, San Francisco in the distance. The sun is setting. We throw high fives and drop back down the trail at a blistering pace. At least, we think it's a blistering pace. Without a watch, we'll never really know.
And, frankly, that's fine by me. Viva the naked runs.
Fives Reasons to Run in the Rain April 13 2012
So we've had a little bit of rain in the Bay Area over the past few weeks. Actually, that's an understatement. If it rains any more, I'm going to build an ark and start collecting animals. Not that I'm any stranger to rain. I went to school in Humboldt County. Alright, alright. That's enough. If you've got any "Did you study botany?" jokes in your system, get 'em out now. We good? Ok, continuing. So it rains a lot up there, and while running through the redwoods never gets old, running in perpetually damp shoes is enough to make even the most gym-averse individuals consider investing in a treadmill.
Still, there is something amazingly fun about running in the rain. Remember when you were a kid and you would beg your parents to let you go play in the pouring rain? It was liberating to stop dodging raindrops and start jumping into puddles, shrieking with delight as the rain splattered on your bare skin. Running in the rain allows you suspend your grown-up self for a few hours and enjoy the sort of weather that sends everyone else scurrying indoors, shaking out their umbrellas and bemoaning the darkening skies. If you're looking at the weekend weather forecast with a sinking heart, scroll down to remind yourself of a few of the reasons why running in the rain can be pretty fricking awesome.
You Get to Jump in Puddles
CANNONBALL! Ok, not quite. If you can cannonball into a puddle, it's no longer a puddle. More like a pool. Running in the rain gives you ample opportunity to get in touch with your inner child and jump as hard as you can into puddles. So, go ahead. Start a splashwar with your running buddies. The key is to jump in the deepest part at a little bit of an angle. You want to get that wall of water headed straight for them. If that sounds like too much work then just go with the more traditional heel-strike hit in the middle of the puddle. You'll get wet, but you'll take everyone else down with you.
Remember Slip and Slide?
Here is where I insert some responsible comment about being respectful of the trails and staying off of them when it's muddy because of erosion. Ok, now onto the fun stuff. Running along a muddy trail brings the kind of adrenaline that has you cackling like a madman as you challenge gravity while surfing the rain-slickened surfaces of your favorite switchback trails. Watch those corners.
Embrace the Mud
It gets everywhere. Squishing into your shoes, splattered onto your legs, smeared across your shirt, and caked along your face. When you get home and look in the mirror, it will look like you took a belly flop straight into the mud. Guess what? It's because you basically did. We spend too much of our lives trying not to get dirty. Running in the rain gives you the chance to shout "screw that" at the top of your lungs. Sometimes you just gotta get a little muddy. Embrace it.
Stop, Accept, Enjoy
When was the last time you just stood in the rain and relished the feeling of the rivulets making their way down your face, beading along your waterproof jacket, and dropping to the ground? Take a deep breath. Notice the steam curling off of your body. You feel invigorated, alive, and happy...like the rain is renewing you, washing away your stress and anxiety. Feels good, doesn't it? It's raining and you're outside enjoying it. Life is good.
The Post-Run Hot Shower
Does anything feel better than a hot shower after a long run in the rain? No, no it doesn't. Unless it's a donut after the hot shower after the long run.
Yikes! Vibram in Hot Water April 11 2012
A few weeks ago reports surfaced that Vibram, the company that sells the FiverFinger footwear and champions minimalist footwear, is facing a federal class action lawsuit in Massachusetts. The plaintiff is arguing that the company has greatly exaggerated the benefits of its products and says there is no proof that running in a pair of FiveFingers will improve posture, promote spine alignment, strengthen muscles, or reduce injury.
So, what do you guys think? Any barefoot/minimalist footwear runners out there who would care to come to Vibram's defense? Anyone side with the plaintiff? Though I definitely bust out my running shoes for longer runs and haven't quite made the transition to 100% barefoot or minimal footwear running, I've been integrating short barefoot runs on grass, tracks, and beaches for years and have found it to be pleasant...perhaps even beneficial. Or, at least, I think it's beneficial. I don't really know. All I know is that I've been running since the age of 13 and (knock on wood) have never had any serious running related injuries. And that's the crux of the argument isn't it? We don't really know.
There are plenty of people who will testify that barefoot running has been an integral part of warding off or eliminating nagging and painful running-related injuries like Plantar fasciitis, but on the other hand, there isn't any real scientific evidence to back up the claims that barefoot running is better for the body or that it prevents injuries. Vibram saw a niche and went for it (clearly there are a lot of people out there who find that running in minimalist footwear works for them and appreciate having the FiveFinger option), but perhaps they got a little overzealous in trying to promote the benefits of their product without any heavyweight scientific data to back them up?
The plaintiff in this case, a woman from Florida, is arguing that running in Vibram's footwear may increase injury as compared with running in conventional shoes or barefoot. The lawsuit accuses Vibram of propagating a "false and misleading advertising campaign" that has allowed them to "reap millions of dollars of profit at the expense of the consumers they have misled."
It will be interesting to see how this plays out although, I have to ask, was it really necessary to take the barefoot running debate to court? What do you think? Legitimate lawsuit or another case of the McDonald's coffee was too hot?
In Defense of Trail Running March 30 2012
I spend most weekends slipping down muddy trails chasing after nothing in particular for no reason in particular. It's called trail running and most of the people in my social circle seem to think it's an activity that is best left to the insane, masochistic, and stupid. I'm not even going to try to defend myself against those accusations, but trail running. This I have to defend. From an outside perspective I can understand how running twenty miles early on a Saturday or Sunday morning might be considered insane. I realize that those looking in from the outside see only a bunch of exhausted human beings covered in mud with faint lines of blood scratched across their legs and arms as they stagger into a parking lot mumbling incoherently about the beer they've been dreaming of for the past ten miles. And yes, that does seem like grounds to institutionalize someone.
But you have to dig a little deeper. Last week while sprawled out on my living room floor watching The Big Bang Theory, a friend asked me to name two things, family and friends aside, that I simply could not live without. Massaging a sore calf, I went through my mental checklist of guilty pleasures before decidedly giving an answer: trail running and potato chips.
Apparently this is an amusing answer because it took him a few minutes to stop laughing.
"Nikki, you are an oxymoron."
"I resent that. And I'd rather be an oxymoron than just a moron."
"Thank you. And I'm perfectly serious. I could not live without trail running."
"Or potato chips"
And then I tried to explain.
I live for running, but not just any kind of running. I have to drag myself out the door during the days my evening runs are confined to the city streets. Considering that I live within minutes of the paved Bay Trail and in one of the most running friendly cities in the East Bay, this gives some indication of my reluctance to slamming my feet down against pavement. Basically, I hate it. But come Saturday and Sunday when I am free to spend hours roaming the trails in Tilden Park, Redwood Park, or the nearby Muir Woods, I am transformed into a 6 year-old who runs for the sheer joy of it. I run because my heart is so happy to be outside that the only thing that can adequately reflect that happiness is running.
Imagine dropping down into a ravine on a single-track trail enveloped by redwoods. Your feet are moving faster than your brain, your reflexes kick in and you're amazed at the fluidity of your body. Your buddy in front of you lets out an adrenaline-induced whoop. You respond by hollering. Suddenly seven runners are dropping down a trail at a breakneck speed while shouting and singing just because they're happy to be there. Hikers flash you bewildered and startled glances. You respond with an exhausted smile and try not to splatter them with mud as you race past. When you stagger back to the parking lot twenty plus miles later, your body is battered and your legs having nothing more to give, but your heart is full.
When I'm trail running I'm so happy to be out there, to be alive and moving that nothing else really matters. My world could be crashing down on top of me, but when I'm running, it doesn't matter. And when I'm running with people who understand that, I'm even happier. Maybe it's nothing more than the sense of camaraderie that develops when the world thinks you're crazy, but you know you're not. Or maybe you are, but you don't really give a damn. In a world of spectacular technology and perpetual connection, it's nice to be unplugged and connected to someone in a completely different way. Whether you spend ten miles talking or ten miles running in comfortable silence (well, minus the occasional interludes of "Want a shock block? Margarita flavor?" or "Wait? Is this the right way?") you're 100% in that moment with those people. You feel your connection to the people and place around you and at the risk of sounding like someone who has clearly lived in Berkeley too long, that interconnectedness is invigorating and comforting in a way that Siri simply cannot comprehend. Mostly because, let's face it, she doesn't really comprehend anything.
All I'm saying is that it's hard to knock something that involves mud and ends in beer because trail running, if done properly, always ends in beer. And potato chips. What can I say? We're a bunch of health nuts.
Ten Things We Learned at the California International Marathon December 08 2011
Soooo....we were responsible for creating the official California International Marathon merchandise this year (This shirt is my favorite). In light of that, the Greenlight team headed to Sacramento over the weekend to man the CIM merchandise booth at the two-day race expo and at the race finish on Sunday morning.
Here's what we learned from the experience...
Mannequins Are Awkward
There is absolutely no way to appropriately wrestle a mannequin into its position on the stand. No matter what you do, your coworker will turn around and lock eyes with you just as you’re awkwardly wrangling a pair of running tights onto the damn thing or struggling to lift it up onto its stand, your hands inappropriately placed. Those things are heavy and expensive. Collapsing into a fit of laughter while carrying one can turn disastrous very quickly. I wish I could say we refrained from all manner of juvenile jokes, but I can’t because we didn’t.
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall or…You Know, Not at All
So it turns out that when people are trying on shirts, they want to see what they look like. Well, at least prior to running 26.2 miles. After running 26.2 miles, they don’t really care about anything other than sitting down. Either way, we totally forgot to bring the mirror. Oops. Sorry, guys, but thanks for taking our word for it when we told you that you looked fabulous. You did, but next time, we’ll have a mirror. Promise.
It’s Possible to Valet a U-Haul Van
When we finally finish breaking down the merchandise booth at the expo and relocating it to our spot near the finish line, it’s close to 9 p.m. on Saturday and everyone is seriously ready for dinner. Circling around downtown Sacramento as we look for parking, Perry and I are in the U-Haul van and Sonny and Monika are driving just ahead of us when they pull to the side of the road.
“Guys, let’s just valet the U-Haul,” suggests Sonny.
I start laughing because I think he’s kidding, but as we pull up to the restaurant and Sonny jumps out to ask the valet guys if they can valet a U-Haul, I realize he’s serious which just makes me laugh harder. I’m now pretty much certain that Sonny can convince anyone to do anything because 30 seconds later, we’re handing over the keys and walking into the restaurant. What can I say? We like to shake things up.
Sacramento is Cold
We’re from the Bay Area. We do fog and drizzle very well, but when it gets below 60, we have problems. Sacramento was “cold.” I know all of you who actually live in places where winter isn’t just some vague concept are scoffing at the poor Californian who thinks Sacramento is cold, so I’m putting the word in air quotes. Just for you. Seriously though. I actually had to put on a fleece jacket. Can you imagine? It was even colder early Sunday morning while trying to coax race t-shirts onto ice cold hangers with stiff, frozen fingers.
The CIM is Badass
Eight men and twenty-five women qualified for the Olympic Trials, numerous qualifiers for Boston, a marriage proposal at the finish line, and a fireman running with all of his equipment (including the oxygen tank)? That would seal the deal for me right there, but aside from fast runners, superhuman feats, cool costumes, and just being incredibly well organized, the race had a great laid-back feel for such a huge event. They even got the weather gods to cooperate with a perfectly clear and crisp day. Not sure how they swung that one. Sacrifices?
Square is Also Pretty Badass
We’ve been using the Square application for iPhone. I’m not plugging anything, but that application is pretty awesome and really easy to use. After using it a few times (Apparently, I'm a slow learner), I start getting excited when customers pay with card rather than cash (I'm also a simple soul, easily delighted by new things, cookies, and sparkly objects). When people say, “Wow, that is so cool,” I can’t help responding, “I know, right?!” Because it totally is.
All Marathon Finish Lines Need Couches
The next booth we have at a marathon, I vote for couches and not just so I can take a nap, although that is a primary factor. After an hour or two of us hopping around trying to keep warm, runners start to trickle in, hobbling unsteadily with tired, but triumphant expressions. It’s painful to watch them teetering on spent legs as they try to reach up and grab a t-shirt in their size. I know that despite their enormous grins, their legs are throbbing and every movement elicits protest from trembling muscles. I know this because the last time I ran a marathon, my body was pissed. A couch directly after would have been a nice peace offering.
Grilled Cheese for Breakfast
…is a genius idea. We were conveniently placed next to Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen food truck (I had nothing to do with that. Honest). Think 9 a.m. is too early for grilled cheese? Think again. That’s my new go-to breakfast food.
We’re Kind of Hilarious
I laughed a lot this weekend. Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but in addition to creating awesome racewear, we’re also pretty much hilarious. Between the mannequins, the U-Haul valet incident, and trying to figure out how to set up (and break down) Container Store organizers, there was ample opportunity to illustrate how ridiculous and insanely funny we are.
Next year. Hats.
I have no idea how many times runners asked us if we had hats, but it was a lot. Point taken. Next year, we need hats. I'm going to push for the ones with beer can holsters. I'll let you know how that goes.
Silicon Valley Turkey Trot November 26 2011
The Greenlight team had a blast at this years Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in downtown San Jose. Check out the video and hope to see you next year!
Race Day Ritual. Shattered. November 23 2011
It’s France’s fault really.
Typically, I have a pretty standard race weekend ritual.
Friday night: Eat pasta. Drink insane amount of water. Sleep 8 hours. Get up at least five times throughout the night. Promise not to drink so much water next time.
Saturday morning: Eat bowl of cereal. Arrive at race start one hour ahead of time. Eat banana. Stand in line for 30 minutes to use the restroom. Make my way to start line. Run race. Reward self with something unhealthy.
I know, I know. I’m not a dog and I’m not supposed to reward myself with food. The problem is I haven’t found anything that works as well as a reward. Maybe Apple products. I would totally take an iPad over a donut, but only if someone else is buying. Otherwise we’re keeping the rewards in the under $1 range.
All-in-all, my race day ritual is pretty standard. I’ve been racing for 15 years now and I don’t think much about it anymore. I operate on race day autopilot.
Enter the Lyon half-marathon.
The problem with Lyon is that it’s the gastronomic capital of France. The problem with me is that I love food. The night before the race we settle into a cozy corner table in a typically Lyonnaise restaurant. My race day ritual goes out the window as soon as I see the menu. A bottle of red wine, a slab of meat, and two crème caramels later, I’m half-heartedly wondering if I’ll be regretting this meal 10 kilometers into the race. I can’t decide and after the first bite of my crème caramel I don’t really give a damn.
Heading back to the hotel, I fall into bed determined to get a good night’s sleep and a more appropriate breakfast. Enter very loud drunken people in the hotel courtyard and French pastries. Both undermine my very best intentions. I toss and turn before stumbling out of bed the next morning and directly to a nearby bakery.
With my full concentration dedicated to my pain au chocolat, I lose track of the time. As do my rather nonchalant racing buddies. With five minutes to the start, we drop off our bags, and--being the overly optimistic person that I am--I get in line to use the restroom before my friends decide there isn’t enough time and drag me away to the starting line.
I have to pee so badly. In France, men can just stand discreetly to the side of the road and relieve themselves. I hate them. I run five kilometers absolutely certain that my bladder is seconds away from bursting before we turn a corner and I nearly run smack into a lone porta potty. I praise the heavens and enjoy the race a lot more after that.
I also start talking a lot more after that. My running companion is giving me that weak smile people give when they’re trying to be polite, but really they want you to shut-up. I stop talking and start composing the most amazing story ever in my head. Then I forget it all. Then I grab a bottle of water at the aid station. Then it’s kilometer 19 and I want to stop running, but I can’t because there are still 3 kilometers to go so I start imagining what I’m going to eat after my race.
When I finally reach the finish line, I’ve got my meals planned for the next 24 hours. I’m naturally skeptical of technology so I jump up and down on the finish line to make sure it reads my chip. I grab a Powerade. I don’t like Powerade, but it’s free so I grab it. I love free stuff. I’m allergic to dates (The fruit. I don’t have a problem with the other kind), but I’d probably grab them too if they were free.
After everyone crosses the finish line and we cheer in the first of the marathoners, we duck into a nearby pizzeria. I eat an entire pizza, a salad, and a crêpe. Then I convince everyone that what we really need is gelato. And maybe another crêpe.
When I get back to my apartment in Grenoble, I call my mom.
“How was the race? Did you run a good time?” she asks.
I forgot to check the results.
But I don’t even care because I’m still remembering my pre-race dinner and I decide I’m going to run all of my races in France from now on. Maybe I will only run in Lyon and I will subsist entirely on crème caramels.
Five Reasons Not to Spontaneously Sign up for a Marathon November 11 2011
I know. This post should be unnecessary. Surely most of the world knows that deciding on a whim to run 20-42 kilometers is not the cleverest of ideas. But the problem is, there are people like me. People who know that it’s a bad idea, but who, for some bizarre unknown reason, do it anyway
This is generally how the situation plays out:
Friend: Hey, so we’re all running a half-marathon this weekend that we’ve been training for over the past few months. It’s going to be really fun. You should sign up!
Me: Man, that sounds like fun, but I haven’t really been training for a half, so I probably shouldn’t…
Friend: There will be donuts.
Me: Where do I sign up?
After every race, I promise myself that I will never do it again and yet, it continues to happen again and again and again. Short-term memory loss? Masochism? Extraordinary love of donuts? It’s hard to say, but in light of the fact that I just registered for my third half-marathon this month, it’s clear that drastic measures need to be taken.
An intervention would probably be ideal, but since that’s unlikely to happen, I’m defaulting to the next best thing: a list of the top five reasons I will probably maybe never spontaneously sign up for a marathon or a half-marathon again.
You won’t enjoy the “free” snacks
It’s true that the food and water stations have all sorts of great snacks. Trail mix, bananas, Coke (the soda, you guys, the soda), chocolate, applesauce, wine (what? I live in France), but using the excuse of “free cookies” is not a legitimate reason to justify running an impromptu marathon. One because you pay for the snacks when you pay your race fees and two because you will probably be too sick/exhausted/miserable to properly enjoy anything except water.
You will lose all credibility as a sane individual
Your friends and family, who have likely held your sanity in question for a number of years, will finally have confirmation of the fact that you have officially lost your tentative grasp on reality.
Pain. Lots of it.
The pain you feel during the race is nothing compared to what happens once you finish it. You will not be able to move for a week. Your body will stage a mutiny and you will be confined to the couch for the next week forced to watch daytime television for hours on end and unable to even hobble to the fridge without agonizing pain shooting through your limbs.
It’s true that training can be annoying, grueling, and tedious, but without it you’re setting yourself up for some bigger problems later on. Running 42 kilometers is not a jaunt in the park and you need to prepare your mind and body for it. If you don’t believe me, ask your knees, ankles, and shins after the race.
That dialogue will look something like this:
You: Ready, body?
Knees: #@$! you.
Shins: Yeah, what they said.
The finish line: it’s probably something you won’t see.
It’s unlikely that you will finish the race. Instead you will have to slink to the parking lot pretending you just forgot to pick up your finisher’s t-shirt. In the event that you do finish, you won’t have enjoyed the time it took to get there and, really, isn’t that the whole point?
The Once and Future Way to Run November 03 2011
Check out this great article from barefoot champion Christopher McDougall (Born to Run). Visit NYT to see a video of Chris teaching the staff at NYT how to run.
When you’re stalking barefoot runners, camouflage helps. “Some of them get kind of prancy when they notice you filming,” Peter Larson says. “They put on this notion of what they think barefoot running should be. It looks weird.” Larson, an evolutionary biologist at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire who has been on the barefoot beat for two years now, is also a stickler about his timing. “You don’t want to catch them too early in a run, when they’re cold, or too late, when they’re tired.”
If everything comes together just right, you’ll be exactly where Larson was one Sunday morning in September: peeking out from behind a tree on Governors Island in New York Harbor, his digital video camera nearly invisible on an ankle-high tripod, as the Second Annual New York City Barefoot Run got under way about a quarter-mile up the road. Hundreds of runners — men and women, young and old, athletic and not so much so, natives from 11 different countries — came pattering down the asphalt straight toward his viewfinder.
About half of them were actually barefoot. The rest wore Vibram FiveFingers — a rubber foot glove with no heel cushion or arch support — or Spartacus-style sandals, or other superlight “minimalist” running shoes. Larson surreptitiously recorded them all, wondering how many (if any) had what he was looking for: the lost secret of perfect running.
It’s what Alberto Salazar, for a while the world’s dominant marathoner and now the coach of some of America’s top distance runners, describes in mythical-questing terms as the “one best way” — not the fastest, necessarily, but thebest: an injury-proof, evolution-tested way to place one foot on the ground and pick it up before the other comes down. Left, right, repeat; that’s all running really is, a movement so natural that babies learn it the first time they rise to their feet. Yet sometime between childhood and adulthood — and between the dawn of our species and today — most of us lose the knack.
We were once the greatest endurance runners on earth. We didn’t have fangs, claws, strength or speed, but the springiness of our legs and our unrivaled ability to cool our bodies by sweating rather than panting enabled humans to chase prey until it dropped from heat exhaustion. Some speculate that collaboration on such hunts led to language, then shared technology. Running arguably made us the masters of the world.
So how did one of our greatest strengths become such a liability? “The data suggests up to 79 percent of all runners are injured every year,” says Stephen Messier, the director of the J. B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory at Wake Forest University. “What’s more, those figures have been consistent since the 1970s.” Messier is currently 11 months into a study for the U.S. Army and estimates that 40 percent of his 200 subjects will be hurt within a year. “It’s become a serious public health crisis.”
Nothing seems able to check it: not cross-training, not stretching, not $400 custom-molded orthotics, not even softer surfaces. And those special running shoes everyone thinks he needs? In 40 years, no study has ever shown that they do anything to reduce injuries. On the contrary, the U.S. Army’s Public Health Command concluded in a report in 2010, drawing on three large-scale studies of thousands of military personnel, that using shoes tailored to individual foot shapes had “little influence on injuries.”
Two years ago, in my book, “Born to Run,” I suggested we don’t need smarter shoes; we need smarter feet. I’d gone into Mexico’s Copper Canyon to learn from the Tarahumara Indians, who tackle 100-mile races well into their geriatric years. I was a broken-down, middle-aged, ex-runner when I arrived. Nine months later, I was transformed. After getting rid of my cushioned shoes and adopting the Tarahumaras’ whisper-soft stride, I was able to join them for a 50-mile race through the canyons. I haven’t lost a day of running to injury since.
“Barefoot-style” shoes are now a $1.7 billion industry. But simply putting something different on your feet doesn’t make you a gliding Tarahumara. The “one best way” isn’t about footwear. It’s about form. Learn to run gently, and you can wear anything. Fail to do so, and no shoe — or lack of shoe — will make a difference.
Full Article and Video LINK
US Half Marathon SF November 02 2011
We had a beautiful day for the amazing course over the golden gate. It's hard to imagine a nicer day for a run. The race kicked off on the waterfront in Aquatic Park on historic Muni Pier with sweeping views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Marina, Crissy Field, the Presidio and across the famous Golden Gate Bridge, exposing breathtaking sights of the San Francisco cityscape. Back along the Golden Gate Promenade, up through Fort Mason and to the grand musical finish in Aquatic Park. Not too shabby!
Thi Nyugen and Frances Uribe have "been been friends since we were 6 years old - over 22 years of laughter and fun!" Thi moved here from Dallas last year, so Frances flew in from Texas so they could run this race together.
feeling good after the race
Simple choice of activist outfitter produces funds to end human trafficking and slavery.
When the 25,000 participants of the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon and Half Marathon begin to perspire their way through this weekend’s events, they’ll be doing more than striving for personal best times – their sweat will be stopping sweatshops.
By partnering with clothing vendor Greenlight Apparel, race producers RUN Racing are funneling $3000 into charities fighting child labor, human trafficking and sex slavery. “RUN Racing is proud to work with Greenlight Apparel and know that we’re not just buying race gear, we’re helping people too,” said John Parks, EVP of RUN Racing. “We always want to provide the very best quality to our race participants, but it’s also great that we can help in this way.” “As a marathon runner I always love going to the expos and buying myself a memorable t-shirt or hat for all the hard training I’ve done,” said Marathon entrant Morgan Gerhart of Progressive Fitness Training Run group, running in her fifth marathon. “I am 100% more likely to buy a t-shirt that supports fighting child labor. It’s so great to know the money is going towards a great cause.”
Greenlight Apparel — Wear it for Good
While many clothing companies are feeling the pressure to go “sweatshop free,” Greenlight Apparel has built its business model specifically around the child labor fight. The company dedicates 10% of every sale to the cause, and actively partners and works with humanitarian charities focused on the Worldwide Child Labor Crisis. Thanks to the sheer numbers behind the Long Beach Marathon, this partnership allows Greenlight to channel $2000 into the microlender Kiva – helping developing communities to produce more sustainable and humane economic opportunities – and another $1000 to the non-profit Love146, which fights for the abolition of child sex slavery and exploitation.
“RUN Racing is easily our largest account, and their level of participation really validates our mission,” said Greenlight Apparel Executive Director Monika Gill. “They could certainly choose any number of clothing vendors, but that they use the opportunity to do something extra, something good with that choice – that really makes a statement.”
Social and eco-entrepreneurism is clearly the Next Big Thing, almost on the verge of creating its own economy a la the Internet. In the athletic apparel industry, Greenlight Apparel, is nearly a veteran in eco-friendly practices and social activism. Launched in 2007, the company has helped rescue 637 children and prevent more than 37,000 child labor hours. In addition to the company’s activism on that front, they also adhere to using 100% organic or recycled fibers. “People make common decisions everyday,” noted Greenlight Apparel co-founder Sonny Aulakh, “and more and more companies like ours are taking common actions that people are going to take anyway, and adding a beneficial byproduct to them. It’s a great trend to be experiencing.”
About Greenlight Apparel: Greenlight Apparel is an activist outfitter of active people, producing high-quality casual and technical apparel for large sporting, entertainment and corporate events. Not just “sweatshop free,” our mission is to aggressively work to eradicate child labor practices and human trafficking. Our company dedicates 10% of each sale to humanitarian partner charities working to eliminate illegal manufacturing sites, build schools and create economic opportunities in developing countries. All Greenlight Apparel merchandise is made with 100% recycled or organic fibers.
About RUN Racing: Led by Olympic Gold Medalist Bob Seagren, RUN Racing specializes exclusively in the development, management and implementation of endurance, health, fitness and special events. RUN Racing events include the OC Marathon held in May; the Pacific Open Water Festivals held in June and August; the Long Beach International City Bank Marathon held in October; the Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K & 5K held on Thanksgiving Day and the LA County Half Marathon held in December. “Follow RUN Racing on Twitter for event information (@RUNRacing) and find The Long Beach International City Bank Marathon on Facebook for interactive event information (Long Beach International City Bank Marathon)”
Oakland Represented Everything Fitness Can Do April 05 2011
The Oakland Running Festival wrapped up almost a week ago now, but that doesn’t make it old news by any means.
Much like your body needs to recover from such an output, and your mind needs some time to let the achievement sink in, the community and the masses have needed a week or so to let the Big Picture develop and assess just how impactful this event has become.
That assessment began with a string of good vibes posted from one runner after another across Facebook and Twitter. Runners loved the event and…*blush*…had a ton of nice things to say about their race tees as well.
But the real accounting of the race’s effect has just recently been released in the form of a commissioned report from the Regional Economic Studies Institute from Towson University in Maryland.
A few line-items from the report: 7,300 runners dumped $3 million into the city; 19 percent were out-of-towners, averaging $445 spent per person on hotels, food, drink, shopping, entertainment, chicken and waffles; for each one, 1.8 non-running guests came along for support.
But really, more valuable than the hard dollar figure is the enormous group hug that all this word-of-mouth generates. Let’s face it, by-and-large the majority of Oakland’s nationwide public relations is emitted from the worst stadium facility in TWO sports, coupled with an infamously criminal-esqe fanbase and the constant threat of being rejected by said teams because, no matter how bad those teams are, they’re still too good for Oakland.
Seriously…ask any long-range out-of-towner their impression of Oakland and you’ll hear it mentioned last among Bay Area destinations, coupled with groans about the Raiders or A’s. Not fair, to say the least.
The truth about Oakland is that it’s gorgeous. On one side it offers sweeping views of San Francisco, on the other the rolling Oakland Hills. In between are blossoming neighborhoods that are becoming more eclectic every day. Rock Ridge? Jack London Square? Are you kidding me? Have you seen them lately?
Well 10,000 plus ORF attendees did. They took a by-foot tour of every nook and cranny the city had to offer, then took to their keyboards to tell the world about it. It was easily the best PR Oakland has received this year, and a testament to the value of fitness events like ORF to create a positive mindshare among the masses. Corporate CMO’s pay attention! Perhaps in lieu of naming rights on the next stadium, you sponsor a series of multi-city fitness events.
Kudos to the neighborhoods of Oakland who all came out to cheer on passing runners and support this celebration of their community. We at Greenlight are honored to have done our part, pumping money from the purchase of our race tees back into the Running for a Better Oakland organization, a non-profit that likes to say it “puts kids back on the streets” by teaching them the value of running and fitness on the wider scale of living an overall better life.
Through the ORF partnership we also were able to donate to Mary’s Meals, an organization that creates a two-fold solution by delivering healthy meals to schools in areas where kids often don’t do either of those. By using the schools as a mess hall, they both create an incentive for the kids to GO to school, and they feed them a healthy meal. Our donation feeds 63 kids for a year.
AAAaaand…because we’re 100% recycled, the ORF shirts spared the equivalent of 60,000 plastic bottles from landfills. Let’s be clear too…all of this back-patting is not on us, but on Corrigan Sports Entertainment for choosing us to partner with on this race. They could use any race tee, but they chose to Wear It For Good.
Here’s to Oakland and the ORF. We hope to be with you year in, year out…