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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Case of The Blister Vs The Shoe, Sock and Runner

Blisters aren't a runners friend and if you've been running for any period time you've encountered these irritating buggers, that seek to sideline us or at a minimum slow us down.  There's a segment of the foot care industry devoted to keeping runners on their feet and hitting the pavement daily.  This is pure speculation on my part but, I can imagine a fanatical runner wanting to continue running with a blister and as a result the blister band aid was born.  Soon the market would be flooded with wicking socks, foot powder, Body Glide and Blister Shield

Hoka Cliftons and Injinji Socks
Blisters get a bad rap, shoes get blamed for the cause and point to socks as the culprit, after all they are closer to the feet so they must be guilty.  The smartest one out of the bunch, the runner takes a hit for the blister but, seldom jumps to assume responsibility. 

Blisters know how they are formed, add a little friction moisture and presto you've got a blister.  The case was scheduled to be heard before the RFCD-(Runners Foot Counsel on Dryness). Before the RFCD handed their ruling we took to social media court of public opinion and let's just say things weren't so cut and dry-the opinions spanned the trinity, shoe, sock and runner.  And for good measure some tossed in Obama and the republicans, must have been the runners high talking.

Injinji's felt strange...  Now I think of them as mini comforters for my toes
The only time I got a blister was while cross training in my Newton Gravity's and a pair of Nike compression socks.  For the record, your honor I'm not blaming the shoes or the socks.  Did they play a part in the hot spot? Yes, by default because they just happened to be the gear I was wearing at the time.  Newton's aren't designed for cross training and when I slipped on the socks I didn't like the feel but I loved the color.  It was a rookie mistake.  Since that experience I've been in search of the perfect sock for me and like my kicks I've tried just about every brand on the market.  Below are a few of my faves and they were  also mentioned the most in the social media court of public opinion in preparation for this piece:  Balega, Feetures, Injinji, Swiftwick and Thorlo Pads 12 

Socks play a critical role in making my feet smile
"Proper socks have changed my life"  according to Leslie.  As the responses came in I realized that runners are just as passionate about their socks as they are about their kicks.  Rae said Balega's are my favorite socks.  Tonja recalled: "The one and only time she got a blister was during a race, but I ran a full and a half marathon in the same day." Tonja later added: "I wouldn't recommend this as a best practice."  Beastmode or Crazy I don't judge!  Jeff whole hardly believes that blisters are the fault of the runner, "The runner is always to blame, the runner is the only one out of the three that can monitor the situation make decisions take action and learn from the situation."  Elsie firmly believes that it's the runners fault, her #1 rule is "As soon as you feel a blister coming on stop and take care of your feet."  The court room erupted as the plaintiffs attorney objected, "Your honor you can't allow that it's highly prejudicial and I ask that her testimony be stricken from the record". Really?  Yes I am aware that if you aren't properly fitted for running shoes and wear cotton socks these factors can invite a blister.

I came across this blog by momslittlerunningbuddy-(I think there's an additional buddy) on IG which had 5 Ways to Prevent Blisters While Running and thought I'd share it with you.  I would like to enter it into evidence.  After hearing all the evidence the RFCD had this to say prior to ruling on the case: "blisters will continue to haunt runners and while we have measures in place to reduce friction and treat blisters and hot spots after the fact, runners are strange birds stubborn and tenacious who run in circles to simple round off their run so as to not end on an uneven note."  For those who are new to running they will be granted a pass for obtaining what some consider a badge of honor but, for those season veteran runners the RFCD has determined that, the responsibility for a blister lies squarely on the shoulders or should I say toes of the runner.  


Thursday, January 22, 2015

MLK Run/Walk In Bklyn with BGR and BMR

A few years ago I reconnected with a High School Buddy on FaceBook and found out we shared a passion for running. Neither Alden or I ran in High School, we both discovered running later in life.  Its through Alden and Var that I was introduced to Black Men Run.  BMR was created in 2013 by Jason Russell and Edward Walton, to promote a healthy brotherhood within the African-American community.

The Incomparable K-Rod 

Many would consider BMR as the male counterpart to BGR-(Black Girls Run) a running community created by Toni Carey and Ashely Hicks in 2009 in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American Community and to provide encouragement and resources to both new and veterans runners.

The Men and Women of BGR and BMR NYC

Both organizations have chapters across the U.S. and beyond.  Its one thing to read about an event or hear about it from a friend, but it's different experience it up close and personal.

Kovon Flowers, the Capt of the Brooklyn Chapter sent me an invitation to a joint run/walk event with BGR & BMR in Honor of Martin Luther King Day.  And I'm glad accepted the invitation.  I was rushing to Bklyn from CT heading down the FDR Hwy hoping not to miss the meet greet and group picture, the video below describes scene.

The  Brooklyn Ambassador for BGR, Ethell K. Wilson-Diallo reached out to Kovon for assistance in rallying the men of BMR for the event, being a man of action Kovon said: "Let's do this" and started spreading the word.  According to Var Kelly: "The men BMR NYC have asked for an event for us both to come together for a while. We often see one another at various events around the city; we often take pictures together as well. There is already such a high level of communication between BGR NYC and BMR NYC that it was inevitable that an event such as this would eventually occur. And now, I think both groups are going to want to do more of them. LOL"!  

Kovon's poll of some of the Men of BMR confirmed the desire of for more collaborative events during the year.  "Many of the women knew about us but, it was good for us to come together and run"  As the cars passed on Court Street, you could see the   surprised looks on the faces of the occupants, we definitely made an impact."

Kovon Flowers with Monica and Var Kelly

The energy before the race in a word was "Crazyelectric" yeah I know that's two words.  The plan was to meet downtown Brooklyn for a group picture then head over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan and run along the West side Hwy to 59th Street and back.

BGR ladies making their way across the bridge

Do you think I could get $29.99 a pop for the digital pics?  lol...
Even though I grew up in Brooklyn, I felt like a tourist stopping along the way to snap a few flicks of the sites, I was just starting to warm up and settle into my stride and then I remembered it wasn't a race-duh!!  I could relax and enjoy the company of other runners.

Marlon aka(Lean Fast Strong) BMR Bklyn Co-Capt
and Christopher J P Sewell
I typically train on my own, I've done a few fun runs with my LRS and the only time I run with a group is during a race and even then I'm running alone.  Group runs offer a different dynamic, one of the things I found interesting was the concern for the safety and well being of the runners.  Given the icy conditions from the previous days freezing rain storm, Marlon was nominated to survey the route to ensure the safety of the runners.

BMR NYC Group has 3 runs a week. These occur on Wednesday (7pm @ Prospect Park), Saturday (usually 7 am starting at Prospect Park) and Sunday (11 am @ Prospect Park). Wednesday runs are short runs of about 3-miles. They are for all levels runner/jogger/walker. Someone is always there to ensure the motto “No Brother Left Behind” is in play. Saturday runs are long runs. These are for those who are in the midst of training for various races. These long runs usually are over 6-miles. They sometimes stay within Prospect Park, Brooklyn NY but mostly go around NYC.  Sunday runs are similar to Wednesday runs; the schedule is for short runs usually within Prospect Park. 

The BMR NYC group has long been a group that many other northern states have looked at for motivation and inspiration. We continue to be a lead model for them. Also, this chapter generally supports many local chapters including NJ, Penn, and DC. Since travel between these states is around 2 hours, it is no problem for us to travel to them or them to us – in order to support and build the brotherhood

I could have dropped a layer.  What a great day for a run...

Should you every find yourself in Brooklyn and want go for a group run consider running with BGR or BMR, whatever you decide run happy.

Special thanks to Kovon, Ethell, Marlon, Monica and Marlon aka Lean Fast Strong for their contributions in helping with this post, but more importantly their leadership passion participation and building of the vision of BGR and BMR.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Newton BOCO AT Shoe Review

"Off road adrenaline junkies looking for their winter sole mate."  It reads like a classified ad on a dating website, does that caption describe you?  If it does, respond to newtonrunning.com or run down to your LRS and try on a pair. 

The BOCO AT isn't a new shoe, it just happens to be the latest addition to my library.  I caught a glimpse of the female version on RSG's FaceBook page and was intrigued, I don't know if filters were applied but, the shoe looked incredible-and I had to see it up close and personal.

The Newton BOCO AT features a 3mm drop
Newton introduced new colors this fall and while I'm usually not a fan of bland colors, I am digging the new option, I initially grabbed the SOL because it whispered check me out and it was bright.  Catlin at Fleet Feet Sports in Hartford talked me out of it and suggested the BOCO AT, given our New England winters-women are usually right, so I conceded and I don't regret my choice.

The BOCO AT's Upper is treated with a durable repellent coating and closed-mesh 
The BOCO AT weighs in at 9.6oz with a 3mm drop.  The hood is treated with a durable repellent coating, closed-mesh upper that helps to block out dirt and debris. 

There's a lazer-perforated synthetic suede saddle for a midfoot-comforting fit, along the toe there's a durable toe bumper to aid in the protection of your toes on the trails.

Durable Rubber toe guard offers protection from trail hazards
The rear of the BOCO AT is decked out with a reflective logo and heel tab for visibility during your night runs.
Glasses are purchased separately
And, just like any first date they're questions you have after you get home, perhaps they arise over coffee, but it's too soon to ask the other party about your reservations-so you grin and pretend, its all good. 

The tongue is attached to the upper with a gusset to help block dirt and debris.
And so it was with my Newton BOCO AT's, the fit on the upper in my 12.5 was a bit sloppy.  While it wrapped my arch properly, when I looked at the face of the shoe I wasn't happy with the bunching-like a bad hair day-sizing down resolved the problem.

The BOCO AT is equipped with 4 lugs in a multi-directional pattern for optimal traction.  


Tuned Action/ReactionTM technology in the midfoot
Biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate
Soft, single-density EVA midsole provides optimal cushioning and comfort
ETC anti-friction, anti-bacterial sockliner

I've gotten several miles in the BOCO AT on the pavement for training, during a 5K race in NY and in the snow.  Once I got the sizing resolved it provided a much better fit, my arch was wrapped nicely, the BOCO AT provided excellent grip and my feet stayed dry. The BOCO is responsive and light for a trail shoe...  For those that like the look of Newton shoes but, may be apprehensive about their lugs, the BOCO AT would help in alleviate your fears, I didn't notice the lugs at all during my run.  Peter reviewed his thoughts on the BOCO when they were introduced in 2013: (see his review here).  The BOCO AT has been my go to slush around in the snow shoe, when the summer roles around I plan on taking the SOL for a spin.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Saucony ISO FIT Vs Brooks Glycerin 12... When Brands Collide Who Will Survive?

When Lawrence Fishburne posed the question in the Matrix, Blue or Red, we sat on the edges of our seats wondering which one would be chosen, fast forward to today in a few forums when I asked you to choose, blue or black pill the overwhelming majority selected the blue pill, 72% to be exact, 28% liked the black pill. 

When Brands Collide Who Will Survive?
The reasons varied from "always bet on black" to the random-which I love, "the laces on the blue pill will be more visible at night".  It's no secret that I'm a sucker for a bright shoe and I discovered today I'm not alone, isn't great to discover  you're some what normal.  Elizabeth was like "blue, I find obnoxious colored shoes much better", then there was Kristen who felt "black was sexier".  

I was immediately able to identify the sneaker addicts, they were the ones encouraging me to get both kicks, why choose?  And if I wasn't convinced they added, "you can always rotate and extend the life of both shoes"-now that a sales pitch.

The heel counter in ISOFit has more cushioning than the G12
So without any further fan fare on to the battle.  In the blue corner we have the newcomer, Saucony's ISO FIT, who according to Road Runner Sports weighs in at 10.3oz and 20% more "Cush" than its predecessor-(see my review of the Saucony ISO FIT  for additional details)

This nods and whispers come closer 
In the black corner we have the veteran, Brooks Glycerin12 who also received a face lift this year but, continued using the same name.  Running Warehouse has the Vet tipping the scales at 11.7oz. and 25% more cushioning than the BioMoGo mid sole from the G11.

The Improved segmented crash pad in the sole and beveled heel
contribute to a smooth transition.
Both shoes fall under the neutral category and cost basically the same thing, save a nickel for the Saucony ISO.  I had all but forgotten about the G12,  the last I ran in them was during a half marathon this past summer.  Since it was so long ago I pulled them out of the library today for the heavyweight battle.  With 5 miles on deck, my plan was to lace up one of each shoe for the first 2.5 miles, then pop home, switch sides and finish my workout.  

Mean green neon and blue trim highlights 
I was curious to see who end up on top would it be the Vet knocking out the Newcomer.  It was brick outside, I was almost tempted to stay inside once I stopped home for the switch.

Saucony makes a sexy shoe.... Overall it provides a better fit for my foot.
Would it be the newcomer, knocking out the Vet, like Mike did his opponents in the 90's, I entered into this experiment with an open mind, this would be my version the Coke and Pepsi challenge of ole.  There's no question both are solid trainers and for the most part it's going to come down to your personal preference, "flash and dash or funeral black".  Once I laced up, I remembered what I didn't like about the G12 see the video for details.

Hands down the Saucony has more "cush"  but not to be confused with a mushy feeling, where you get lost in the shoe; don't get me wrong the G12 is not a wooden chair-it has plenty of cush.  The G12 has a firmer feeling, which some may prefer, for a quicker turnover.  I was really impressed with how refreshed my legs felt after my Half this summer in the G12.  

Final Thoughts:

If you have a higher volume foot and prefer a firmer ride the G12 will work fine for you, some even think it makes you look like a superhero-like Batman.  But, if you like "cush" in a "Jay Z Blue" then the ISO Fit would be the shoe for you.  I'm not much of a heel striker but, I intentionally did so on the run to see how both shoes would respond and if you crash land on your heel they both offer sufficient support.  The ISOFit, in my opinion offers a smoother transition, the fit and look are Badass!!  If looks could kill the G12 would be dead, the ladies version knocks it out of the park, that's a "freakin smokin hot shoe".  Mizuno used to lead off with the bland squad in their line up and it irritated the heck out of me, this year they came out the gate swinging for the fences, with the WR18!!! if you missed that review check it out here: Mizuno WR18 Review).  Thanks for your contributions, I appreciate your input.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How to Run Like You're In Your Shower...

Singing in the shower isn't a new phenomenon, many people imagine themselves as Beyoncé doing the booty dance on stage or Amy Winehouse, Adele, Meghan Trainor, Jay Z or who every your favorite artist might be, plug their name in above and let's move on.  The combination of the aucustics and privacy of your bath room gives you the courage to be a badass, singing on or off key.

This practice spills out of the shower booth into bars and nite clubs in the form of karaoke.  I can't sing but I do dream and imagine myself performing in different venues.  Growing up in Brooklyn I was like most kids, spending hours in the park dribbling a basket ball, imaging myself making the winning shot in a championship game.  For me it was basket ball, I don't know what it was for you-maybe it was hockey, soccer, football, lacrosse, golf or tennis. 

When I started running the only thing on my mind, was why the hell were my legs burning and itching.  When I found out people paid to endure the pain, I was like hell nah, you kidding me. But, soon I found myself forking over the dough and traveling out of town for a race.

How To Run Like You're In The Shower

Somewhere on the planet there's probably a nude race, running in the nude isn't what I'm alluding to in this post, running like you're in the shower means catching a glimpse of yourself performing as your favorite elite athlete.  For me it's a way to past the time, focus on my form and breathing, it happens sometimes when a dark car pulls up next to me and I see my reflection.  

I was curious to see if it was just me being weird or did other runners imagine themselves running as an elite, so I took the net with this question: 

"On your runs do you ever imagine yourself as an elite runner if so who? For me sometimes it's Meb as he's coming down the stretch in his Boston Victory at other times it's Ryan Hall, most recently it's been Kipsang"  Who is it for you?

Ryan Hall Ole Ole


I Know its not Boston finish of Meb, but I like this pic
As the responses started rolling, I realized I wasn't alone, Tanya said: "Oh I imagine I'm an elite, and then I see a race photo and I look like an elite hippo, Ha! Hey, in my head I'm Kara freakin Goucher.  Whatever keeps me moving.😄

Kara Freakin Goucher
Shelly fantasizes that she's Anton Krupicka's twin sister during her Long runs, wishing she had his carefree easygoing running stride.

Anton Krupicka... Luv my AK Ultimate Direction Vest for long runs..
Brenda and a few others, imagine themselves as Deena Kastor winning Chicago, she's a fierce competitor.

She's focused man!!! 
Bill Rodgers and Ted Corbitt were favorites also, someone even mentioned prime time Deon Sanders.😁 

Bill Rodgers

Ted Corbitt
For Amanda and Katie it was Shalane, "Always Shalane.  And her ponytail awesome effortless form".


That kick and lift is crazy... Flight Time

I though of mentioning Shalane but, that woulda been odd for certain.  Getting out kicking up asphalt doesn't have to be a chore, break up the monotony with some creative mind games.  What do think about on your runs to keep you engaged?

Mary just looked so cool and relaxed here I had to add her.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Live with Passion... Run with Heart... Cherish Every Step...

laying in bed it was quite and warm, in the background lingered a faint ringing in my ears, layered a top pings from filaments of the baseboard heater, heating up.  At that point, I realized that I hadn't written anything aside from a few tweets and post about the new Saucony Breakthru early in the day.-(Check out Peter's review of the Saucony Breakthru)

Saucony BreakThru... I'm a sucker for bright colored kicks reasonable priced
What started as background noise, was now loud cinematic theme music, from a drama demanding an answer as to why I hadn't written anything.  My baseboard heater transformed into an irate customer tapping their fingers on the counter demanding an answer to a seemingly, obvious rhetorical question.  I laid in my bed squirming for an answer, stalling for time, I uttered do you want me answer that?  Suddenly the strumming stopped and I escaped being berated by an angry baseboard heater.  

Its almost time to hit the trail
Dodging a bullet, I found refuge in the silence under the covers and tried to answer the baseboard heaters question.  Was it because I didn't have time? No, I could have squeezed out at least 19 minutes out of 1,440 minutes in a day.  Was it a lack of inspiration?  No, I could have started writing about the guy siting across from me in Starbucks with a winter hat, jacket and sandals with out socks-in a snow storm.  It was clearly cold enough to for him to cover his head inside a heated building, but toes out in a snow storm wasn't a concern.

Arrows have been added to protect the identity of the innocent...
What was it then? Procrastination? I had pushed off writing in exchange for reading and started experiencing guilt associated with putting off a run-which I hardly ever do, but when I do I feel like I broke one of the 10 Run Commandments.  (Do you feel the same way when you miss a run? Let me know).  Before falling asleep, I was guilt tripped into writing and couldn't wait to run in the snow in the morning in my BOCO's but I had to get some rest if that was going to happen-(review coming soon, I initially picked up a 12.5 but experienced some puckering in the toe box so I sized down and that resolved the issue).

Newton BOCO AT

Time to Put These Puppies to The Snow Slush Test
With 8miles on deck today the challenge would be getting out the door and staying upright in the snow, I'm pretty sure I was over dressed but, I managed to avoid falling-lets call that a victory.  The BOCO's provided excellent traction in the snow, slush and kept my feet dry.

Land.... Lever.... Lift.... Hello Better how you doin
I normally don't answer calls while I'm on a run, but I took a call from my sister Vonnie, who was just checking in on me, how sweet.  Based on the shoe imprints someone beat me to the trail.  When it was all said and done I made it back home peeled out of my clothes and was faced with the news that Stuart Scott passed and it through me in an emotional tailspin.  

"Cool as the Other Side of the Pillow" Booyah
Stuart's style personality passion and swagger transformed the industry, he was a fresh voice.  In the midst of continued chemotherapy treatments and medication regiments he took to the gym for mixed martial arts and cross training workouts in West Hartford CT., it was hard but he continued to work exhausted but unwavering.  I dedicate this post to Staurt Scott's legacy, heres to you, Mr Booyah, Cool as The Other Side of the Pillow.


Friday, January 2, 2015

How to Put Your New Years Resolutions on Steroids in 2015

Welcome to 2015, we made it!  The weeks leading up to the first of the year, there were a few memes warning me to brace myself, The New Years Resolutioneers were coming to invade the gym and my news feed.  Along with Haagen Dazs Butter Pecan ice cream and kicks I love a good laugh.  So I'd be lying to you, if I said, I didn't enjoy the brief comic relief. 

That is until I came across a post from Brenda that read: "Instead of making fun of The New Resolutioneers we should encourage them, invite a friend out for a run or walk."  Partnering with a trusted friend or family member would be an excellent way of building in an accountability safety net, for more on this visit: Dreams Don't Live on Shelves... Run after Yours in 2015.

According to the University of Scranton, approximately 45% of Americans usually make New Year's Resolutions and about 24% fail.  For full details visit Static Brain.  

So how do you put NYR on Steroids, so you will succeed?  It's as simple as giving up Haagen Dazs, make them GOALS-(see Goodbye Haagen Dazs... Hello BQ for details)

Bidding Adieu to Haagen Dazs led to changes else where in my life that weren't
initially targeted, it was a healthy by product unlike the grease in the
Vats that Mickey D's cooks it fries in-which can be so addictive.  
A resolution is akin to response you receive from that unreliable friend or family member, when you ask them if they're going to help you move and they say: "Yeah sure, I'll try."  In your mind you know they ain't coming and you've already activated your contingency plans.  This year be a better friend to yourself.  

A goal is significantly stronger and more reliable than a resolution and possesses magnetic properties to pull you toward your destination.  Once you get to the White Matter of WHY, the answers resources motivation and encouragement are released and delivered to you daily, until it becomes an automatic response-that's the steroids at work, creating a habit.

Duct Tape Your NYR to Your Bathroom Mirror, The Steering Wheel of car
Your forehead if you have to, wait that might be too extreme... 

1. Getting to the White Matter of WHY.
When I decided to say goodbye to Haagen Dazs it wasn't because I wanted to loose weight.  Butter Pecan was my reward for the torture I put myself through on the asphalt, any given day kicking back miles.  I would polish off a half pint, before the credits to a movie rolled and then the satisfying feeling was gone-like sex, sure it lasted through 3/4 of the movie.  In the end, the only thing I was left with, was an empty container and a spoon.  However, the deep satisfaction of qualifying for Boston was more important, long lasting and appealing than Haagen Dazs and that made it easy for me to say good bye.

2. Make Your Goal Attainable:
I didn't roll over the morning after finishing my first marathon in 5:23 and decide to BQ the following year.  I waited a few years.  After logging additional miles and gaining more experience the goal was in reach and seemed reasonable enough for me to go for it.

3. Believe You Can Do It
I'm dumb enough to believe that anything I put my mind to, within reason, I can accomplish.  Crossing the finish line in RI, in 2013 with a time of 4:03 reinforced the belief of possibly qualifying for Boston.  

"Champions don't do extraordinary things, they do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react.  They follow the habits they've learned" -Tony Dungy

4. Be Very Motivated and Committed
The thought of giving up Haagen Dazs, combined with the goal of qualifying for Boston found fertile ground in my mind body and soul.  And soon I was pregnant and gave birth to this blog.  The subtle change in my routine played a vital roll in helping extinguish my desire for Haagen Dazs.  Trying to BQ and writing the blog helped to keep me motivated and committed to my training. 

5. Build Mental Strength
In the summer I shared a post entitled: Get Your Marathon Mind Right Through Visualization in it I shared a few tips for building mental toughness during a marathon-the same principles can be applied to your NYR strategy.  While pulling this post together I came across a few resources that you may find helpful: 4 Ways To Make Your New Years Resolution Stick and The Science of Actually Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions.

I Wish you all the best in the new year as you tackle your goals running or otherwise, I'd love to hear about your struggles and personal victories.