Sunday, April 19, 2015

7 Socks That'll Keep You Running (+ A Giveaway!)

As thousands of runners have their sights set on Boston, I am thinking about socks.

Have you ever been on a run, or a few minutes into a workout, only to feel your sock slipping under your heel or bunching under your toes and your workout takes a toll? Well I've been there.

So I recently set out on a quest to find some great running socks that won't get in our way as we push towards reaching our goals. A few awesome brands - Asics, Balega, Bombas, Brooks, Feetures! - pitched in to help me out.

I was somewhat surprised to find that I liked all of these styles, but for different reasons. Some are super-thin, ultra light weight perfect for a hot day, some are in between and others provided a good bit of cushioning and were better for those chilly Spring runs.

Because of this, I decided the best way to break it down for you is based on the amount of cushioning. After all, the shoes we're wearing and the weather have a lot to do with the socks we choose.

You Might Forget You're Wearing These Socks
3. Balega: Weightless Hidden Dry "Weightless' is no joke. These guys are thin, light, and silky
6. Asics: Quick Lyte Single Tab come in packs of three and will not weigh you down!

Mid-Weight All-Purpose Socks
1. Balega: Second Skin Fit: Ultralight While still very thin, these are a bit more substantial than the Weightless Hidden Dry, and are soft and supportive (so far, these are my favorite)

2. Feetures!: High Performance | Ultra Light | No Show Tab Supportive and snug feel in the right places
5. Brooks: Infiniti Double Tab Mesh Left and right foot specific design that rises above the shoe a bit, but not too high
7. Asics: Mix Up Your Run Low Cut Slight bit more padding but hugs the foot for a supportive feel. These peek a bit higher above the shoe than most the others

4. Bombas: Ankle In my opinion the cushioned support of these socks are great for cool weather runs. Bonus: one pair purchased = one pair donated

Good news for you... Asics sent me extras so I'm sharing the love! Happy feet make a happy runner, am I right?

Two people will win all of these socks. I'm giving you four options to enter the giveaway but you have to leave a separate comment for each to count - and enter by 11:30pm MT, Saturday, April 26

1. Follow me on Twitter HERE
2. Click HERE to Tweet this:

3. Follow me on Instagram HERE
4. Brag a little: What recent running or fitness related accomplishment are you most proud of? 
5. Sound off: What races do you have on your schedule?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Adventure Running Tips From Scott Jurek

Recently Woody and I had the opportunity to hear Scott Jurek speak about a few running adventures at the REI store in Denver. You know Scott Jurek - the prolific elite ultra-runner, author, speaker, and vegan (to name a few).

The event was sponsored by Brooks - I had heard of a few other local events earlier in the week but this was the only one we were able to get to. Jurek lives in Boulder, so these events were right in his backyard, but I imagine his travel and racing schedule is quite hectic so it was great that he had time to meet with so many local runners. There were probably close to 200 people at the event we attended. He started by saying one of his favorite things to do is to help and inspire others to run and be active.

Photo Credit: Ben Moon
The Travelogue 
The first part of the talk was a travelogue of sorts. Jurek took us with him to the Khumbu region of Nepal, Northern Wales, and England's Lake District. 

From his multi-day adventure run in Nepal he showed images of imposing mountain ranges covered in snow, the tea houses where he was welcomed in to find warmth, food and a place to sleep (all on the same bench), and the ice covered "trails" he followed, solo, for days. When pausing on one particularly beautiful and unbelievable image snow covered mountains, he noted how he felt like such a small individual - a minuscule part of the landscape.

He then took us to Wales, where he and a friend ran through fog, rain, and dreariness for several days and the Lake District where they followed a few rounds in the tradition of the local fell runners. These were new terms for me. If they are for you too, fell running is the tradition of off-road endurance running featuring significant climbs in the UK, or as Jurek put it - running up any steep rock they can find - while "rounds" are fell running challenges composed of a circular route reaching specific summits. As Jurek showed us in several images from the Paddy Buckley Round and the Bob Graham Round, the trail often disappears forcing the runner to find their way to each summit. 

While I can't imagine ever having the endurance to complete a multi-day running adventure like the ones he Jurek shared with us, his accounts were nothing short of awe inspiring. 

In the U.K. he would run during the day and stay each night at a hostel, so he had the luxuries of clean, dry clothing and the ability to restock on the food and water he needed for the next day's adventure. In Nepal however, he carried everything he needed for several days on his person, in - or attached to - a small running backpack. Both experiences I'm not familiar with but sound pretty amazing.

Adventure Running Tips
As one of the world's most accomplished ultra-runners, Jurek is an ambassador of the sport, with a strong desire to inspire others to get out in nature and run. With this in mind, the second part of his talk was focused on providing tips based on his years of experience. In addition to having an ample supply of water and fuel, here are a few of his must-have gear items for a successful trail run. 

For your typical multi-hour trail run:
  • Shoes: Look for light but protective trail running shoes that dry quickly (a thick midsole will trap water in the spongy material; try to avoid this)
  • Layers are a must including a lightweight, windproof and water resistant jacket 
If you're planning for an all-day run and will be in a cold or wet climate, it's smart to take additional supplies in case you get lost, get injured, or inclement weather pops up (which can certainly happen in the Colorado mountains). Some of these items can be life saving:
  • A well-made and well-fitting pack that you can fit supplies into and tie onto if needed
  • A "MacGyver" pack with: sunblock, a mini lighter, small roll of duct tape, backup headlamp/flashlight, small pocket knife, and a safety blanket (all of these items fit into a sandwich-sized bag!)
  • A lightweight down jacket (the one he had was so incredibly light and rolled up into a small bag it was pretty incredible)
  • Lightweight synthetic or wool top in case you get wet or cold
  • A hat, tube/buff, or balaclava to keep your face warm and dry
  • Dry bag (for wet clothing)
  • Arm warmers
  • Lightweight sleeping bag 
  • Water filters and/or steripen
What it all boils down to: be smart and plan ahead.

One of my favorite things Jurek said during his talk was that "ultra-running" - and even "trail running" is sort of a myth. In reality, at some point ultra-runners and trail runners will end up hiking due to a variety of reasons. I felt particularly relieved as just earlier that morning we ran North Table Mountain and one particular climb turned into a hike for me.

I haven't yet read Jurek's book, Eat & Run, but it's on my list along with Feet in the Clouds, an exploration of fell running which Jurek proclaims is a must read.

Do you have a favorite trail run? * If you're an ultra-runner, what got you into it? * Do you have an adventure to share?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Try a Protein Smoothie After Your Next Run

Well, it's that time of year again. The days are getting warmer, the sun stronger, and my craving for cold, satisfying smoothies is back full force.

I have two go-to protein smoothies right now that hit the spot depending on how I'm feeling - a tropical smoothie for when I'm craving a light, refreshing drink, and a chocolate peanut butter recipe perfect for when I want something a bit more indulgent and substantial. Both are jam packed with good-for-me ingredients, and vegan. (But they're just as creamy as any with yogurt)

I like to add protein to ensure I'm getting enough as low levels can mean fatigue, decreased muscle mass, and an increased risk of injury. 

Note that with my smoothie recipes, all measurements are approximate - use as much liquid as you need to create the consistency you want. Thankfully making these are pretty easy - all it takes is combining the ingredients in a blender and blending until smooth. 

Tropical Sunrise Protein Smoothie
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/4 cup frozen mango
  • 1 thin slice avocado
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp. ground flax seed
  • 2 pinches of shredded coconut (1 pinch to blend, 1 for garnish)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup frozen mango
  • 3 - 4 frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 2 tsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. ground flax seed

Both recipes make a smoothie that's about 10oz. So if you've just finished a long run or tough workout, you may want to have a piece of toast or handful of almonds as well. 

If you're wondering, I used Vanilla Spiru-tein shake and Vega Protein & Greens (Chocolate)

Daily Burn is working with bloggers and others this month to spread the word about great protein shake recipes, so look for more at #ShowUsYourShake

You can find links to my other smoothie recipes here.

What are your favorite smoothie ingredients? * What do you crave after a run or tough workout on a warm day?