Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

When you visit running blogs with the highest monthly visits, click-through rates and rankings invariably they have one thing in common.  Product Reviews.

And a lot of them.

Runners love shopping for the next great thing.  GPS Watches, Tights, Compression Clothing, Socks, Recovery products, nutrition and hydration products and of course running shoes.

People want to run faster, longer, achieve goals and many of us look for that magic bullet when it comes to gear or equipment to get us there.  Some of the greatest runners in the world have very little in the way of expensive or latest technology products fueling them.  So in the end it all boils down to three things.

Genetics.

Training.

Desire.

Last time I checked, none of those came from a box, a running store or on-line.  But what equipment can do for us is protect us from the most dangerous thing out there when it comes to staying healthy, training consistently and avoiding injury.

Ourselves.

We are our own worst enemy at times when it comes to training.  Believing that if a 6-mile run is good for us as recovery mileage from a long run the previous day, 7 must be better.  8 better still.

If a workout calls for 6 X 800 at half-marathon goal pace.  8 X 800 at 10 K goal pace must be better.

And before you know it, we are overtrained or injured – and all that hard work has gone for naught.

So why am I getting into all this?  Because those are the reasons primarily why I don’t post very many product reviews.  The last thing I want to do is for a runner to stop by to catch up on things and say, “Hey, Joe really likes the Brooks Pureflow 2 – so they must be perfect shoes for me to …. I’m going to run right out and get a pair for my 20 miler this weekend.”

Shoes are such a personal choice that have a lot of variables that are unique to each runner.  Height, weight, foot-strike, injury history, running volume, local terrain where you train, age, goals etc. – that for me to come out and say, “Shoe X is perfect for you”, is something I take very seriously.  In fact this will make my 4th shoe review in 3 1/2 years.  4 reviews out of more than 575 posts and closing in on 1/4 million site visits.  This is something I just don’t do very often.  But when I find a pair of shoes that I feel are versatile enough and dynamic enough to “fit” different runners with different goals and perform at a high level, I think they warrant a discussion.

With that disclaimer out of the way – let’s talk about the Brooks Pureflow 2.

I have 12 pairs of running shoes in rotation right now.  4 pairs of race flats (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon), 4 pairs of mid to high mileage shoes (medium-long runs), 4 pairs of performance trainers (hill repeats, tempo runs, track work).

Not sure if it is the fact that I am a carpenter’s son, where I grew up knowing that there was a tool for every job – and the best tools were specifically designed for a specific task.  Akin to going to Home Depot and buying the latest Screwdriver-Wrench – where the tool is marketed to not only drive screws through wood, but it can also be flipped over and used as a wrench to turn nuts and bolts.  What could be more convenient?

The problem is all you bought was a crappy screwdriver and a crappy wrench all in one.  Specificity can make all the difference in the world.

The closet now holds shoes from Adidas, Asics, Brooks, Karhu and Mizuno.  I am not searching for the “holy grail” of running shoe, I have just found that alternating the various types of shoes through my rotation keeps me healthy and racing well.   But given the demands of our upcoming Big Cottonwood Marathon which is going to test our downhill running more than any race before – I knew I needed to search for yet another shoe to train in.  One that would give me the lightweight, race-ability that I need to click off sub 7 minute miles for 3 hours, but also protect my forefoot and midsole from the pounding of running downhill mile after mile after mile down and out of Cottonwood Canyon.

I stopped in to see my friend Adam at Rogue Running in Cedar Park and we talked about all of the options – and after trying on 4-5 pairs of shoes and running strides on the track inside the store I slipped into the Brooks Pureflow 2’s.

Wow.

8.8 ounces, which is .2 ounces lighter than my favorite Marathon Shoe – the Adidas Aegis 2 (being retired).  The Pureflow’s are very different than the Aegis however, in that they are much more flexible in the upper, and due to their lightweight construction “up top”, the shoe lacks a lot of the “structure” of a traditional running shoe.

It allows the shoe to conform around your foot, as the NAV BAND wraps from your arch across the top of your foot.  It makes the shoe more or less a custom shoe that will adapt to your foot as your foot adapts to the shoe.

The shoe has a 4 mm heel-to-toe offset (18 mm heel, 14 mm toe).  It is very responsive, makes you feel as if you are well connected to the road or trail and has a unique split front toe area on the sole of the shoe to allow for a strong toe-off when you are doing up-tempo work.

It has all of the “performance” characteristics of a race shoe – but it has one thing that a lot of similar shoes I have run in previously do not.

Cushioning.

By using lightweight materials in the upper, Brooks is able to provide some pretty lush cushioning underfoot while not sacrificing feel and weight.  The lush ride is especially prevalent in the midfoot and forefoot areas that when it comes to my race at Big Cottonwood may just be the recipe to help mitigate some of that downforce and save our quadricept muscles until later in the race.

The toe-box is nice and roomy, something that even though I am a slender runner, my feet feel best in a shoe with plenty of room up front.  The box is wide and very comfortable.

One final note I want to mention is the sole on the bottom of the shoe has a shallow pattern, which has provided plenty of traction on the street, but has not picked up loose stone on the crushed granite trail – another great benefit for someone like myself who trains on both surfaces regularly.  We have not had the shoes out in the rain yet or on slick streets, something that this time of year in central Texas, we many not get a chance to do for quite some time.Brooks Pure Flow 2 Black Brooks Pure Flow Front View - Anatomical

Brooks Pureflow 2 Bottom

Brooks Pureflow 2 Bottom

I do not think traction would be an issue in those conditions – but in full disclosure, I have not put the Brooks Pureflow 2 through those paces yet.

In sum, if you are looking for a lighter-weight, mid mileage trainer that is speedy enough to race the 10K to marathon in – the Brooks Pureflow 2 is absolutely worth a look at your local run shop.  For runs right now 8-12 miles in length, they are the first pair of shoes I reach for in the morning.

As always, your miles may vary.

Run on people.

Shoe review week continues today here on the blog as today we’ll be looking at the recently (June 2012) released Saucony Ride 5.

As is the case with all shoe reviews here on the Run for Dom blog – I have to post my usual caution about relying on someone else’s opinion about a particular running shoe.

Each individual runner’s foot strike, weekly mileage, years training, body composition, weight and injury history all play a key role in placing an athlete in the best possible footwear for them. That is the key point, FOR THEM. 

The best shopping strategy is and always will be visiting your local running specialty store, being fitted for a pair of shoes by a professional after running on a treadmill for gait analysis and then trying on multiple pairs of shoes.

That said, if you have gone through that process recently and know the proper type of shoe that works best with your running style and biomechanics, then today’s review of the Saucony Ride 5 may prove to be helpful. At least I hope that it is.  I have logged over 100 miles in the new Ride 5 from Saucony, and feel like I have a good feel for the comfort, support and responsiveness.

So with the disclaimer out-of-the-way, on to the review!

Saucony Ride 5 – Black (Shoe is actually purple)

Saucony Ride 5

Runners: Mid to High Mileage “Racers”

Use: Up-Tempo Workouts to Medium Long Runs (8-12 miles)

Footstrike: Neutral

Support: Cushioned/Moderate

Weight: Light/Mid-Weight trainer – 9.5 oz Men’s size 9

Now in its 5th iteration, the Saucony Ride 5 went through a pretty dramatic overhaul from the Ride 4.  In fact, for previous “Ride” lovers, this new release may very well change your view of your favorite shoe.  It is somewhat like every 10 years or so when a car goes through a huge “redesign”.  This was not just a slightly different set of tail lights, or a new color scheme.  Think of the release of the new Camaro or when the Mustang went from boxy to streamlined in the early 90’s.  Some people loved the changes, some people hated them, but nobody was really “meh” about them.

That is the way the Ride has been transformed.  The shoe was lightened 1 oz. in weight.  That might not seem like a whole lot, but in the men’s size 9 version – that represents 10% of its total weight.  That is a lot.

The heel to toe ratio was changed dramatically as well with the heel being reduced from 12 mm to 8.  Again, 4 mm might not seem like a whole lot, but from a percentage perspective, the heel was reduced 33%.  Again, that is a lot.

So the shoe is going to perform very differently from its predecessor.  It is in a way an entirely NEW shoe for 2012, and before you simply go out to the internet, pick a color and order a pair, I think you should test drive these shoes at a running store to make sure they are going to meet your training needs.

First Impressions:

The fit of the Ride 5 is very snug across the top of the foot and a bit snug in the toes. I needed to go up 1/2 size for a proper fit to accommodate my toes in the toe box.  The shoe feels very nice and comfy however when properly sized.  With the lower heel drop you get the sensation that you are in a pair of road hugging performance shoes – but with solid mid-sole cushioning for longer workouts.

Saucony Ride 5 Top View

The Upper:

The upper features a standard lace pattern and cushioned tongue. The rest of the upper is a lightweight mesh to help ventilate the shoe with a few strategic overlays to the outer shell of the shoe to provide structure and support.  A very comfortable fitting running shoe.

The Midsole:

This version of the Ride is the most responsive version of the shoe to date.  The heel edge is beveled (rounded) for a smoother transition from heel strike to midfoot, and more flex grooves have been carved into the forefoot design for better overall flexibility.  The idea behind the changes in structure were to make the Ride more nimble and “minimalist” feeling – but still provide enough support for longer distance runs and races.  The arch is moderately high to high, making the comfort of the shoe very personal.  If your foot geometry aligns well with the design, the shoe will feel very comfortable.  If however a higher arch bothers you, you may not like the changes in design.

The Outsole:

As I mentioned previously the big change comes from the heel-to-toe offset being updated from 12mm to 8mm. The heel edge has been beveled. ProGrid™ technology (previously in heel only) has been extended to the entire foot bed for a more seamless feel. Outsole material is upgraded from traditional blown rubber to IBR plus, for enhanced cushioning and durability.

The shoe has a lot of spring and responsiveness despite the low profile.  After 125 miles the shoe feels just the same way it did during our first run together. 

Overall:

The Ride 5 is a shoe that fits well in my running shoe rack, and by that I mean that there are quite a few workouts where this has become my shoe of choice.  I would not run a steady-state 20-22 miler during marathon training in the Ride 5 as that is not the designed purpose for this shoe.  However many runners can pull off those types of runs in a shoe like the Ride 5.

For me, I need a bit heavier shoe for those types of workouts so my knees, ankles and hips come through that long run feeling as if they didn’t experience any pounding.  That allows me to jump right back into training and push pace and intensity only a day or two later.

The Ride 5 is the show I would use for those types of workouts.

Tempo runs, hill repeats, Off/On interval workouts.

It is a shoe that I consider threading the needle between a race flat and a trainer.

It is a shoe that will allow you to work on your turnover, run some faster miles when training but still protect against the pounding of those types of workouts.  It is about 2 oz. heavier than a 5k or 10K race shoe, 1 oz. heavier than the shoes that I would “RACE” a half-marathon or marathon in.

So if you are looking for a zoom-zoom shoe for some of your shorter more intense workouts – the Ride 5 might be just what the doctor ordered.  Each Tuesday and Thursday I look forward to putting on my Rides and hit my up-tempo drills, they have become great training partners this Triathlon season and we will be adding another pair this fall as we set our sights on the Houston Marathon and our attempt at breaking 3 hours.

Happy running!

As July kicks off and many runners are starting to build their base mileage for Fall Marathon Training, I thought I would review two recent additions to my running shoe cadre this week. One high-mileage, neutral trainer – The Mizuno Wave Rider 15 and one lighter trainer the Saucony Ride 5.

Both shoes have been recently released and represent changes to the previous versions of the Wave Rider and Ride aimed at increased comfort and responsiveness. I find shoe reviews the most challenging product reviews to write as making a recommendation for the proper running shoe is qutie difficult. There simply is no “best” running shoe out there for everyone.

Each individual runner’s foot strike, weekly mileage, years training, body composition, weight and injury history all play a key role in placing an athlete in the best possible footwear for them. That is the key point, FOR THEM. By no way are the reviews this week an indication that you should rush right out and purchase a pair of Wave Riders or Rides from an online website, lace ‘em up and head out for a 10-miler.

The best shopping strategy is and always will be visiting your local running specialty store, being fitted for a pair of shoes by a professional after running on a treadmill for gait analysis and then trying on multiple pairs of shoes. But if you are like me and have gone through that process a few times, you might be able to narrow down your shoe choices a bit in advance and zero in on a couple of options.

If that is the case, then today’s review of the Mizuno Wave Rider 15 and Thursday’s review of the Saucony Ride 5 will prove to be helpful. At least I hope that they are. I have logged over 100 miles in each pair of shoes, and feel like I have a good feel for their comfort, support and responsiveness.

Disclaimer out of the way. Enjoy the review:

Mizuno Wave Rider 15

Runners: Mid to High Mileage Weekend Warriors

Use: Everyday Trainer to Long Run Shoe

Footstrike: Neutral

Support: Cushioned/Moderate

Weight: Mid-weight traner – 11.1 oz Men’s size 9

Mizuno Wave Rider 15

Now in its 15th iteration, the Mizuno Wave Rider has been a “go-to shoe” for many a marathoner over the years. It is a moderately weighted trainer that can stand up to high mileage training, offering cushioned support for the Neutral runner and is a very durable distance shoe.

As in most things, if you are not getting better, you are getting worse as your competitors are always improving. Mizuno takes this seriously and although the shoe has been very popular and has been around for well over a decade, they are still listening to customer feedback and making improvements to their flagship trainer.

Many runners complained that the Wave Rider 14 was a bit too inflexible in the midsole and had a high rear heal collar that irritated the back of the runner’s foot.

Mizuno changed the fit and feel to address those concerns and seems to have returned the Wave Rider 15 to the same type of comfort Wave Rider advocates had grown accustomed to over the years.

First Impressions:

The fit of the Wave Rider 15 is very comfortable and true to size. I did not need to go up a half-size to accommodate my toes in the front of the shoe like I do in some models. The toe box is roomy. The shoe fits comfortably and the overlays lend support to the upper but are not restricting at all.

The Upper:

The upper features a standard lace pattern and cushioned tongue. The rest of the upper is very “minimalist feeling” with open mesh to keep your feet cool and decrease the weight of the shoe. But the areas where you want to feel “comfort”, namely the tongue and lace areas deliver a secure yet comfortable fit.

The Midsole:

This is the bread and butter for the Wave Runner as the midsole continues to feature their patented Wave Technology which provides a very smooth transition from heel to toe. The shoe also features an extended wave plate through the mid foot and almost up to the metatarsals of the foot. While this improves the ride of the shoe it does add some rigidity in the mid foot area.

The Outsole:

The Wave Rider 15 is not a lightweight, responsive, race flat feeling shoe that is simply bulked up a bit to be used as a trainer. This shoe is designed as an everyday/high-mileage trainer and it performs as such. It features a 12 mm heel to toe drop – giving the sensation that you are running close to the road, but enough of a cushioned heel to take downhills comfortably and feel like you have plenty of support as mile 12 stretches to mile 13, 14 and 15.

One feature I like in this shoe is the tread pattern and large open area in the bottom of the heel tread. After miles and miles of crushed stone and granite here in Austin the Mizuno Wave Rider 15 simply does not pick up rocks on the trail. However the grip pattern holds true and steady on damp/wet roads providing great traction and support.

Overall:

I find myself looking forward to lacing up my Wave Rider 15’s on Wednesday for my mid-week medium long run (10-12 miles) and my Sunday long run (16+). It is not the shoe that I grab on Tuesdays for up-tempo workouts or on Thursday’s for Hill Repeats as that is not the type of workout where this shoe thrives.

But for longer, steady-state runs where comfort and decreased chance of injury are the key goals – the Mizuno Wave Rider 15 delivers and delivers in a big way.

Happy Running guys! Stop back later this week for a review of the Saucony Ride 5. If you are looking for a lighter weight shoe for those zoom, zoom workouts – I think you’ll “enjoy the Ride” on Thursday.

If you have been following the blog over the last couple of months you are aware that back in February I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science and Technology program.

The tagline that RESTWISE uses is simple.

Superior performance through intelligent recovery.

They have developed a program that takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it in the athlete’s hands.  Each day you answer a brief series of research-based questions, enter data from a pulse oximeter (which measures your resting heart rate and blood oxygen saturation) and the resulting Recovery Score will quantify your body’s state of recovery.

If you missed it the first time – click HERE for the product review and the details on how the RESTWISE system functions.

In a nutshell, the athlete enters their data into either a web interface or an app on their smart phone/iPad and the feedback is teturned immediately in the form of a score out of 100%.  The tool also provides a date range snapshot graphically for you to see any trends that are developing.

Below is a look at my RESTWISE Recovery scores for the two-week period of April 14 through April 27.  Essentially my final two days before the Boston Marathon through my post-race recovery period.

The chart is very powerful as you can clearly see I was operating at the 90%-100% level leading up to Boston, poised for a breakout performance on race day.  I had completed a tough training schedule, set PR’s at both the 10K and half-marathon distances and was hitting all of my intervals leading up to April 16th.

The weather of course on race day reaching 87 degrees made racing impossible, so it looks as if we will never really know what we would have done at Boston in 2012 had we had neutral conditions.

The day after Boston, even racing at reduced intensity decreased my recovery score down by 40%.  As each day progressed as I was resting, getting my sleep and recharging the batteries, my score returned to 80% three days after Boston and I went for a short 2-mile run.  Another rest day and I was back to 90% and resumed my training.

As I worked through my recovery training schedule, gradually adding miles on the run, swimming and cycling I am now back operating at 100% and ready for this weekend’s workouts.

Open Water Swim Friday.

8 Mile Run Saturday.

10 Mile Run Sunday.

The new week kicks off with 15-Miles on the Tri-Bike Trainer on Monday morning with another Open Water Swim in the afternoon.

As we continue to move the needle forward this week and our Triathlon Race Season begins on Sunday we will be trying to balancing swim, bike, run and strength training workouts each week.   Over the next several months we will be racing 5 triathlons and four running events depositing us to the starting line of our first Half-Ironman in October.

Having a well-balanced training plan is important, but so is making sure that I say flexible in my approach.  I will have never pushed my workouts to these limits from a total mileage standpoint on the bike and the swim.  The run mileage while very much within my previous margins, will feel much tougher with the additional cross training.

Longhorn 70.3 Training Plan

RESTWISE is going to play a key role in my preparation for Texas Ironman 70.3.  When my recovery score dips down to the 60-70% range I am going to listen to my body, my mind and the science and back things off.  Move workouts around when needed and reduce the intensity of those sessions so that my body will not only experience the increased workload – but to truly benefit from it.  I need to allow the proper rest so that my body can in fact adapt to that increased intensity and grow stronger from it.

That is the key to leveraging RESTWISE effectively.  Knowing when your body is in need of a reduction in intensity to rebound, recover and grow stronger.  It also gives you a strong indicator that even though you had a tough workout yesterday or the day before – you are still operating in a recovered state (80-90%) that will allow you to continue training hard, to keep pushing.

Afterall, that is what we do.

We work hard, break ourselves down, give the body time to repair and reload, ADAPT – then grow stronger.

By the time we reach the edge of Decker Lake on October 28th and prepare for our first 1.2 mile swim in race conditions – I expect us to be absolutely in the best shape of our life.  Physically and mentally ready to go out and absolutely hammer the swim, bike and run to make an honest attempt at breaking 5 hours in our first Half Ironman event.

I have to do the work, of that there is no question.

But it is a great feeling however knowing that RESTWISE has my back.  Thanks guys.

Two weeks ago I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science & Technology system to monitor my training intensity and my body’s need for recovery and rest.  My hope was that RESTWISE would enable me to keep moving the needle forward in preparing for the race of my life in Boston on April 16th, while ensuring that I get there 100% healthy and fully recovered from my training cycle to do battle on the most storied marathon course in the world.

To PR at Boston this year I am going to have to have absolutely everything come together for me in a perfect storm of events.  Training, health, focus, determination and of course a little help from the weather Gods.  If all of those variables come together like I hope they will, we should be making some personal history making the final turn on Boyleston Street at just about 1:00 p.m. on Patriot’s Day.

RESTWISE was developed by an impressive team of athletes, scientists and mathematicians who were able to design a weighting system blending scientific data with the athlete’s own subjective self-analysis to produce a recovery score out of 100.

This score, and especially the trending of the score, alerts the athlete when they are running an increased risk of overtraining and/or injury.

My initial post about the way the score is calculated and some background information about RESTWISE can be found HERE:   http://wp.me/pHGel-1c3

Please click the link above for a brief description and overview of their product.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Every morning for the past two weeks I have faithfully recorded my resting hear rate, blood oxygen saturation level and weight and entered it into the RESTWISE App on my iPad.  I then answered the 8 quick questions regarding my sleep pattern, energy level, mood, appetite, training performance from the previous day, whether I am ill, if I have any muscle soreness or an injury and finally my hydration level based on my “urine shade.

What is interesting is that before using RESTWISE, I did a few of these things on my own every morning ablbeit in a much more subjective fashion.  I would weigh myself and mentally calculate that vs. the previous few days.  Was I dehydrated?  Did I need to be more careful and perhaps take a water bottle with me on that morning’s run?

I would think about the sleep I got, how I felt and if I had any soreness or a new injury brewing.

I would evaluate those readings; assign some sort of “mental score” to it and then go for my run.  If I struggled during the workout, I would chalk it up to not feeling good.  If I nailed it, I would pat myself on the back and think, “man, you’re a warrior – great job”.

But never once did I think about skipping a workout or altering it in any way.  Never.

I ran the workout as scheduled because as an endurance athlete – that is what we do.  We overcome obstacles.  We persevere when others wouldn’t.  We don’t back down from challenges, we embrace them.

One of my favorite quotes that I play over and over in my mind on a tough day is the thought that:

“Somewhere out there a runner is training when you are not.  When you race him, he will beat you.”

More often than not, I feel like I am that runner.  Out there in the rain, wind, heat, humidity, hammering away when others would not.

That’s all fine and well, until it isn’t.

RESTWISE to me is a tool that provides me with an opportunity to check myself and my ego at the door.

By looking at a tangible, scientifically derived score from a respected recovery model – the same model Ryan Hall used to run the fastest American Marathon time in history at last year’s Boston Marathon, I can “KNOW” when I am in need of recovery, and the next, most important step is to alter my training plan to accommodate it.

If I am at 60% recovery level and need a break, I can move that morning’s hill repeat session to later in the week and just run easy – or take a day off – without feeling “GUILTY” that I caved in.  That I didn’t push harder when times were tough.

I can leave those moments for “digging deep” for race courses and not feel like I have to tap into them on a training day.

Training is all about pushing your musculature and aerobic capacity to new levels, then providing recovery so those stressed muscles and systems can adapt to new levels. 

Without the “recovery” stage, there is no adaptation – only a breaking down of the systems.  Leading to poor performance, injury or both.

I get it now – 100%. 

Time to not only be a tough athlete, but to become a smarter one as well, with those two tools in my toolbox, we might be very tough to beat as marathon season moves to triathlon season and we move up to the 45-49 year old Age Group at the end of July.

Am I really going to be 45 in July?  Holy Moly.

So after two weeks, what did RESTWISE Tell us?

The screenshot below tracks my recovery level day to day, peaking at 100% on a couple of occasions (Feb. 4 and Feb. 10), spending most days in the 80% to 90% range.

RESTWISE - 2 Week Review

What is interesting is to see the downward trend that started on February 11th and then bottomed out on February 12th – reaching a low recovery score over this period of 40%.

The green line that I chose to include in the chart (you can include as many of the variables as you would like to track in the graph) shows my training performance.

Most days it was normal or above normal, but as we reach February 11th and 12th, my performance suffers badly as my need for a recovery day increases more and more. 

After taking a rest day, both my recovery score and training performance rebounded nicely.

Pretty impressive.

So as we continue to move forward leveraging the RESTWISE system, I will pay more careful attention to the trend lines and try to “nip the decline” in the bud – be more flexible about shifting workouts around to accommodate my need for recovery, so that to paraphrase Ryan Hall’s philosophy:

“I will run my easy workouts easy, allowing me to run my hard workouts hard”.

Avoiding the pitfalls of overtraining, and never really being rested properly to give max effort on the days that call for it.  For the first time in a long time I’m starting to think that the Boston Marathon should start feeling a little bit nervous about me on race day, and not the other way around.

Run on people.

Just about every successful endurance athlete would admit that “recovery” is a critical part of a sound training program.  They KNOW that fact, but have a hard time striking the appropriate balance between proper recovery and sustained workouts and training.

Over the last few years as I have become more and more competitive with my racing and my performances and race times have improved I can easily attribute that to an increase in my training and the types of workouts that I routinely do.  Hard work is still the mantra of the modern-day endurance athlete.  Which is where problems can arise.

We believe that “running on tired legs” improves our endurance.

Nailing a workout when we’re a little under the weather “proves our toughness”.

Running a set of hill repeats even though we feel tired and in need of a break is the right thing to do because, “they were on the training schedule”.

So how do you know when you really do need a rest day?  How do you KNOW that it is time for recovery, not time to keep pushing?

Well, the folks at Restwise have put together a solution for the everyman or everywoman out there.  Those of us who are serious about our training but do not have a team of doctors, nutritionists, massage therapists and coaches monitoring our every move.

The tagline that Restwise uses is simple.

Superior performance through intelligent recovery.

They have developed a program that takes the science of recovery out of the lab and puts it in the athlete’s hands.  Each day you answer a brief series of research-based questions, enter data from a pulse oximeter (more on that in a second), and the resulting Recovery Score will quantify your body’s state of recovery.

Pretty darn impressive.

The pulse oximeter (which is included) clips on your finger and in 15-30 seconds records your resting heart rate as well as your blood oxygen saturation (SPO2) level.  You self report your weight and the amount of sleep that you had the previous 24 hours, including any naps.  (Naps? man does that sound awesome).

Restwise Pulse Oximeter

You are then asked to enter a few subjective questions such as:

How well did you sleep?

Describe your energy level today.

Describe your mood state today.

Describe yesterday’s training performance.

Describe your appetite.

Do you have sore throat, headache, nausea, diarrhea or other illness?

Do you have any muscle soreness?

Do you have an injury that is affecting your training?

Urine Shade.

All of these questions are a simple selection of worse than normal, normal, better than normal or they are a yes/no question.

Filling in my first day of data took less than 2 minutes including the reading from the pulse oximeter.

The Restwise solution is one that they themselves describe as “simple”.

1.     Identify the research-based markers that relate to recovery and overtraining.

2.     Determine their relative importance.

3.     Build an algorithm which folds all the data together in such a way that the resulting calculation is meaningful.

4.     Wrap it in a web-based tool that doesn’t require a PhD to understand.

5.     Generate a score that tells an athlete how prepared their body is for hard training.

6.     Make sure it is accessible from the major handheld devices as well as the web.

Restwise pulled together a small team that includes some of the best minds in exercise science, some incredibly experienced athletes and some “seriously smart math guys” to make the enterprise work. 

I reached out to Jeff Huntto tell him that after reading about Ryan Hall’s use of the system – leading to the fastest ever American Male Marathon time last year in Boston – I had an intellectual curiosity about the product/program.  Jeff was quick to let me know that he would love to send me out a package so I could get started right away.

Restwise arrived in 5 days - Thanks Jeff!

I will be recording my data for 30 days to establish my “base-line” which will then give me instant, interpretive feedback letting me know when I am prepared to “train hard”and when I need some time to recover.

Sample Daily Report from Restwise

The comment that resonated with me the strongest from the team at Restwise was:

“Without a way to consistently and easily monitor recovery levels, even the most thoughtful training plan can lead an athlete to overtrain. And the fitter you are – the more you have sharpened that “performance edge” – the more fragile you may be. Like thoroughbred racing horses, a race-ready endurance athlete is only a few hard training sessions away from disaster.

With this in mind, it is easy to see why developing a window into your body’s ability to sustain, and recover from, heavy training can mean the difference between the podium and the parking lot.”

My training this week consisted of a snowy, challenging 16-mile trail run on Tuesday, followed by a 12-mile up-tempo run :20/mile slower than marathon race pace and then 16 hours later another tough session of hill repeats on Thursday.

As I was running my cool-down mile back to the house after my 10th and final hill repeat of the morning I knew that Friday’s rest day was coming at a perfect time.  I had pushed hard for several days in a row and needed to recharge the batteries before this weekend’s 11 mile/21 mile workouts on Saturday and Sunday.

I thought a lot about Restwise on that mile back to the house and what it would have instructed me a month from now as I debated resting on Thursday morning and running my repeats on Friday – but being the dedicated athlete, training for the marathon of my life in Boston this April, I stuck to the schedule that I had written more than 3 months ago.

I’m excited to receive the frequent e-mails from Restwise throughout the program as well as seeing my feedback on my daily reports.

Ironically after just one day of entering data – Restwise informed me that I needed a recovery day.

Those guys at Restwise must be pretty darn smart after all.

(I will be sharing Restwise updates on the road to Boston and post-race we’ll take a look back at our data – Thanks for everything Jeff!  See you in Boston for a post-race beverage!  Can’t wait)

I run with music.

A lot.

Last year not counting races, where I typically leave my iPod Nano on the shelf, I ran for 256 hours, 59 minutes and 52 seconds.  Essentially 10 and ¾ days I spent doing nothing but running.

Along for the ride was my 6th generation iPod Nano which I truly love.  It is tiny, lightweight and holds a ton of music.  More music than I own or could possibly ever listen to.

There is only one problem – where to put the darn thing.

The folks at Apple designed the product with a built in clip, that is tremendous if you are walking through an airport, lounging at home, working at your desk – but if you are about to head out into the elements to run, cycle, cut the grass or any other activity where sweat meets the possibility of rain, you’ve got problems.

My solution, like many other runners out there is to hit play on my device, tuck it into a small Ziploc snack bag, close that up, fold the package as small as possible, then tuck it into my the rear pocket on my shorts or running tights – or on long run days, into my hydra-belt.

I’m then on my way, cords trailing behind me and as long as the wind is not up blowing them back into my arms, I’m in pretty good shape.  There have been many a morning however where I asked myself, “Man, there has to be a better way doesn’t there?”

Enter Steve Petit and the folks at Vibewired™.

Vibewired™ is a music transport system that is unlike any product on the market.

The patented 1-inch clip design for the iPod Nano carrying case secures the device in a water-resistant pouch and then clips universally around the back of any adjustable hat.

Photo Compliments of Vibewired

To take the product to an entirely different level, the package includes 10-inch long Vibewired earphones that keep the wires out of harm’s way, eliminating the additional 2-3 feet of unneeded cord.

They also make a product for the iPod Shuffle.

Vibewired for the iPod Shuffle

Tremendous.

Like any product the proof is in the testing and short of a pouring rainstorm, which I have been fortunate enough to avoid so far during this training cycle – the Vibewired™ set-up has worked flawlessly.

20-mile long run on Sunday, tempo run of 8-miles at 6:22 pace on Wednesday, clipped to the rear of my cycling helmet on the Tri-Bike Trainer in sweaty conditions – my Vibewired™ set-up delivered quality audio ever step and every pedal stroke of the way.

It’s a simple concept, which is a large part of the genius behind it – as most great ideas fit into that category.

To Steve and the rest of the gang at Vibewired™ thank you very much for solving one of the last remaining mysteries for me when it comes to what gear I need to take with me when I leave the house in the morning.

Now if you could do something for me about how to carry my gels during a marathon I think I would be all out of excuses!

If you are an outdoor enthusiast who shares a passion for taking your music with you on the go – this is simply a product you need to have.  You can visit Vibewired™ on the web at:  http://www.vibewired.net/

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter:

http://www.facebook.com/Vibewired

https://twitter.com/#!/vibewired

If you order from their site, you van receive a 15% discount for entering code:

runfordom

Run and Rock on people!

Photo Compliments of Vibewired

The tag line from the company 110% reads:

“Introducing Compression +, everything else is just tight clothing.”

I’ve received a lot of cool Christmas presents over the years, and in fact, my wife is an “exceptional” present-giver.  Always finding something that is a tremendous gift that shows she has put a lot of thought and energy in finding the perfect gift.

Watching me train like I never have before for New York City, and now taking that up another notch for Boston this Spring, she has seen me work harder, pushing myself to my limits to take one more crack at that elusive sub three-hour marathon.  She has also seen me sore and beaten down from tough workout after tough workout.

When I opened my “big gift” this year, I was surprised to find a pair of Juggler Knickers from 110%.

110% was founded by a diverse team of passionate athletes and visionary entrepreneurs dedicated in their search for ways to play harder and recover faster.

With more than 30 Ironman competitions, 100 marathons and too many triathlons to mention, the people of 110% have put in the hard work on and off the field that’s resulted in the most innovative and effective compression gear available anywhere.  Simply put, through extensive research and innovative technology, they help athletes play harder and recover faster.

Their products marry two of the “big four” when it comes to recovering from a tough workout.  Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

In fact, they cover the two toughest components, compression and ice, leaving the rest and elevation up to you.

I think we have all been there before.  A bag of frozen peas stuffed down our sweatpants to get ice on that quad, hamstring or knee.  Another stuffed in a sock to get ice on a niggly ankle, still another on a sore hip.  Despite sitting motionless or laying prone on the floor, keeping ice on the exact spot required can make 20 minutes feel like a lifetime.

Well 110% has a series of compression products that not only provide your musculature a great set of compression pants in three lengths (full length, juggler knickers – just below the knee and shorts).

Juggler Knickers

The compression pants have strategically placed “outer pockets” to hold their “Ice Sheets”.

The ice sheets are reusable, flexible, and non-toxic.  You simply cut the packets to size, run under water for 30 seconds and place in the freezer.  When you’re ready for cold treatment, slip the sheets into the gear’s specially designed pockets.

Your entire set-up comes in a reusable thermal bag that will keep your ice sheets cold for up to 6 hours, so you can take your ice with you easily and get recovery underway instantly.  The sheets can also be microwaved, if heat therapy is called for.

In a word.

Genius.

My wife purchased the Juggler-Knicker length compression tights for me that cover my hips, rear end, hamstrings, quads, and knee areas.

After Thursday’s (Down)Hill Repeats, specific in preparing for Boston I took a quick shower while my packets were freezing and slid into the compression pants.   The pants themselves are tremendous.  You can tell that a great deal of testing and design work went into placing areas of great flexibility where needed, as well as tight compression on the muscle groups.

After I slipped the ice packs into the pants, the entire system was taken up to another level.

The packs stay put, keep ice on the target areas, while the compression gear is comfortable allowing for full movement up and down stairs, in and out of the car, even at the auto-parts store where I was having a new battery put in my wife’s car.

Tremendous.

The Rest and Elevation aspects of your R.I.C.E. treatment is up to you – but as for the Compression and Ice elements – I suggest you give the folks at 110% a try.

Afterall, everything else is just tight clothing.

http://www.110playharder.com/index.htm

I don’t do running shoe product reviews very often as recommending a shoe to another runner is an exercise fraught with challenges.

Everyone has their own issues when it comes to finding the “right” shoe. Some of us pronate, some suppinate, some are neutral.

Some are heel strikers others land more on their mid or fore-foot.

Some like a cushioned feel, others a lower, sleeker profile that hugs the road.

There are so many choices out there that it is tough to say, “Yes – this is a great shoe!”.

Well let me tell you – the Adidas Adizero Aegis 2 … is a great shoe.

Now, all the usual disclaimers need to be shared at this point. The Aegis 2 from Adidas is not for everyone. Two years ago, it wasn’t even for me. This is a lightweight performance shoe that is best suited to short workouts or racing from the 10K up through the marathon.

This is not what I would refer to as an “everyday trainer” that you would hop in and run hundreds of training miles at a time. It is however a shoe that would be great for track work, hill repeats, up-tempo workouts and of course for racing.

It is not a stability shoe, but it does have more stability features than say the Sacouny Kinvara or Brooks ST-5 Racers. Adidas is calling this a “Guided” shoe for neutral runners who are looking for just a little more support than some of the lighter racers and trainers out there.

I stumbled upon the Adidas Aegis 2 on a visit to a local running shop here in Austin, Rogue Running. I stopped in to see Scott Rantall looking for a marathon race shoe for New York City in November. My plan was to run a couple of short shake-outs in the shoe, then race the Denver Half-Marathon as my break-in/dress rehearsal race.

If the shoe performed well, I would put them up in the closet until November 6th and the New York City Marathon. Up until two years ago I simply raced in my training shoes. It was what I was used to and frankly, I didn’t really think I needed a lighter race shoe as I was still learning the sport of marathoning. I was focused on “surviving” the 26.2 mile race at that time, not necessarily “thriving” on the race course.

But things changed as I was preparing for Austin in 2011. I wanted to “race” that marathon, not just “run” it. So over the course of the fall of 2010 into winter I started racing in lighter shoes. True Flats for the 5K and 10K races like the Brooks T6/T7 Racers and slightly more shoe for the 10-Mile and Half-Marathon distances, the Brooks ST 5’s.

My hope was I would still have “enough shoe” for those events, giving my feet, ankles, knees and hips the support and shock absorption I required, but the lighter weight of the shoe and the lower profile would allow me to really get after it and hammer away at a faster pace. Each ounce that is saved in the weight of a marathon shoe is equal to 1 second per mile saved on your finishing time.

So if I was able to run in a shoe that was 3 ounces lighter than my everyday trainers, I would be able to take :03 X 26 miles or 1:18 off of my finishing time.

What I found was the lighter shoes held up well for me over those race distances and I had no issues with injury or post race recovery.

Again, this was a gradual transition – I did not simply strap on a pair of race flats and run a marathon in them.

Disclaimer out-of-the-way, now on to the shoes.

I anticipated purchasing another pair of Brooks ST 5’s for New York, and even asked to see a pair on my visit to the store, but after talking about my shoe preference and what I was looking for, the salesperson asked if I had ever tried on the Adidas Adizero Aegis. When I admitted that I had not, she brought a pair out for me to try alongside the Brooks shoe.

After I slipped on the Aegis 2 I ran a few 25 meter strides on the track inside the store and almost immediately I thought – YES – this is a great shoe!

The Aegis is a lightweight shoe weighing in at 8.8 ounces (Men’s size 9) that combines support in the midfoot area with a flexible rear and forefoot.

The shoe feels almost “slipper like” when you put it on as it has a sewn tongue that wraps around the top of the foot and does not slide around or down after lacing.

A snug fit, low profile, but plenty of support and cushioning. In my opinion Adidas has successfully threaded the needle between comfort and “raceability”.

When you view the shoe from the top, you can see that the outer material and inner material are different.

The outer side of the shoe features a mesh material that keeps the foot cool and allows for circulation, while the inner side of the shoe has a tighter woven material that provides a bit more support and forward propulsion to keep the shoe and foot gliding forward.

The toe box is roomy, not narrow like some of the race flats you will find in the marketplace, and they were true to size. I did not have to go up a half-size in this shoe which is the case with some race shoes.

At the Denver Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon on Sunday I ran effortlessly in the shoe and in the true testament to a race shoe – I did not think about a single footfall for the entire 1 hour 26 minutes and 33 seconds of racing. Only after getting to bag-check and taking off the Aegis 2’s did it occur to me that I had run a half-marathon in a new pair of shoes.

Closing Kick at Denver Half-Marathon

My feet did not have a hot spot or rub area and after changing socks, you would have hardly known I had gone for a run.

Days later, my legs feel fresh and I have nothing but glowing words for the Adidas Aegis. We most certainly have found our shoes for New York City.

So if you are in the market for a race shoe from the 10K to Marathon, you just might want to give these shoes a look at your local running shop.

Happy trails everyone! I have included a video review of the shoe courtesy of running warehouse below for a closer look at the technical aspects of the Adidas Adizero Aegis 2.

Marathoning is hard.

No surprise there right?  Lots of miles, lots of cross training.  Lots of wear and tear on the body.

Now add the fact that at 43 years, 342 days old, I have a 10 ½ month old daughter to chase around and do the occasional front porch tiling job on my own, needless to say I get sore from time to time.

Landry's first trip to the beach

In fact, most days I would say that I have some ache or tight area that I’m monitoring.

One of the things that I think has helped me stay as healthy as I have over the past several years of training for and running marathons has been the ability to know the difference between the usual “soreness” that comes from training and when pushing yourself to improve has you on the cusp of injury.

Pain and injury are very different things.

When managing an injury my advice is to head to the Sports Medicine Doctor right away.  Every day that you put off seeing an expert is one day further you are from being back out there running, cycling or swimming injury free.

When it comes to pain management, that’s all part of the game.  To improve as an athlete you need to push your muscles to new thresholds.  Run farther, run faster, run more frequently or even run two times a day.  Your muscles get broken down during these workouts allowing them to rebuild stronger than they were before during your rest and recovery days.

The price of that however is soreness. It’s just part of the deal.

If you run a 5K or 10K race and don’t feel it the next day, you weren’t really racing.

You were just running a race.

Those are two entirely different things.

So what do I do to deal with that soreness?  The same thing the vast majority of athletes do, R.I.C.E.

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

Ever since my shin splint injury that resulted from a strained calf muscle running hills to get ready for the Boston Marathon, I have become a big believer in the Compression part of the R.I.C.E. treatment strategy.

Without my trusted compression calf sleeve from Zensah, I’m not sure I would have made it through the training for and the running of two marathons just 13 days apart for Dom back in the spring of 2010.

The only thing that I will say about my calf sleeve that is remotely negative was that it is a bit restricting and during my post-race massage after the Austin Marathon in February, the sports massage therapist told me that my “right side” was much tighter than my left from my ankle to my hip.  He thought that it was time for me to discard the calf sleeve and that I should work back to running without it.

I have not run in it since and I am now back to feeling very “even” on my legs and pain/symptom free.  If I ever feel anything in that area again, I would not hesitate to go back to my compression sleeve in a second.

Well a few weeks ago I received a message from the good people at Tommie Copper.  They asked if I would not mind trying out some of their compression gear.  Being a huge believer in the compression therapy, I jumped at the chance.

Not only does their gear feature lightweight and comfortable compression technology, the fabric actually contains Copper – which has long been believed to help stimulate immune systems and to repair injured tissues to promote healing.

I’m sure you have seen people wearing copper bracelets in the past to help with arthritis pain and other ailments.  Their Cu29 Compression Gear (Cu – Elemental sign for Copper, 29 – The Atomic Number for Copper) was designed on those same principles.

I asked to test the compression calf sleeve, knee sleeve as I had experienced some knee inflammation earlier this spring and one of their compression shirts as my left shoulder had been a bit sore from all of the swimming I have been doing training for my first triathlon.

Within a week my package arrived from Tommie Copper and I was anxious to give their gear a try.

Product Review – Knee Compression Sleeve

Knee Compression Sleeve

The first thing I noticed was how lightweight their compression apparel was.  The calf and knee sleeves were extremely lightweight and comfortable.  They provided great compression, but felt more like moisture wicking material than a stiff elastic compression fabric.

Sizing is done in 5 increments, small, medium, large, X large and XX Large, with an easy to follow sizing chart.   Tommie Copper asks that you measure the circumfrence of the appropriate body part (knee, calf, chest etc.) to assure propper fitment.  You can view a sample of their sizing chart by clicking HERE.

I noticed that my knee which was back to 100% strength running over the past two months still bothered me just a bit when I flew on an airplane.  I believe that the change in cabin pressure caused my knee to swell just a bit and that added inflammation made my left knee a bit tender.

I decided to fly out to Charleston, SC wearing the compression sleeve on my knee.  I also wore it after my two post-flight runs as well as a few hours after my 15-mile long run on Sunday after arriving in Charleston.

Due to the lightweight fabric and the comfort fit top and bottom bands that kept the sleeve in place, I honestly forgot that I had it on.  Only when I would see someone looking at it, wondering if I was injured would I remember that I was wearing it.  Part of that was due to me being in the hospital picking up my mother after her surgery.

I experienced no swelling during or after my two flights and ran back to back to back workouts of 8 miles, 8 miles, 15 miles feeling absolutely perfect. 

Two thumbs up on the knee compression sleeve.

Product Review – Compression Shirt

Men's Compression Shirt

The product I was very anxious to try was the Tommie Cooper Compression Shirt.  My shoulder was an area where I was currently experiencing some mild soreness. 

After my third swim day in a row I would notice a sore-tired feeling at the top of my left shoulder, just above my bicep.

After a day of rest, it would subside – but it was there just slightly every morning when I woke up.

I wore the compression shirt prior to my first swim out in Charleston at the Medical University training facility.  It was a fast swim workout as Coach Claudia has me focusing on improving my speed as my distance/endurance is now where we want it to be.

I did a swim workout of:

5X 100 Meter Repeats

500 Meters Free

5X 100 Meter Repeats

500 Meter Pull Buoy (all arms, no kick)

5 X 50 Meter Repeats

A tough 1.4 mile swim workout.  I wore my compression shirt to follow the next day and felt no soreness in my shoulder.

This week I swam back to back to back including my first ever 1.4 mile continuous swim, longer than the half-ironman swim requirement by .2 miles without stopping and still, no soreness in my shoulder.

Great stuff.

Conclusion:

It seems like the folks at Tommie Copper really are on to a great product line.  They managed to couple compression with Copper revitalization technology and launch a great product line.

In addition to the copper element of their fabric, the compression gear alone is tremendous.  Lightweight, extremely comfortable with a wide variety of sizing options so that you are able to really shop for a product that will fit you properly.

Compression without restriction, just tremendous.

As a reminder with any product reviews here at Run for Dom, I am simply passing along my findings after testing out a new product.  I am by no way compensated for my time or influenced by the company to provide a positive review.

If you are dealing with some nagging bumps and bruises or some chronic aches and pains related to training, arthritis, pulls or joint soreness – I think you should reach out to the folks at Tommie Copper.

You can visit their website at:

http://www.tommiecopper.com

Happy trails everyone!