Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nutrition Trends for 2008

Wondering where the nutrition bandwagon is heading over the next twelve months? Well, endurance sports nutritionist and Run Junkie favorite, Monique Ryan, shares her thoughts on the topic on (link). From "superfruits" to "mood foods" to recession-resistant meals, she covers a wide swath of trends. There's not too much edurance-specific information, but all of it's about getting the right food in the tank. Check it out.

The Real Run for the White House: How active are the candidates?

The race for the White House just got a lot slower with Senator John Edwards shutting down his campaign. The most accomplished runner in the field - with a marathon PR of 3:30 - he could handily spank the rest of the candidates as well as our famously active current president, Bush, who has a respectable PR of 3:44.

So, when it comes to the best of the rest, which candidate would win in a real test of endurance? Check out where the candidates fall on Run Junkie's water bottle rating system (below). Hands down, it seems Mike Huckabee would take the victory. With four marathons under his ever shrinking belt, and Boston queued up for April (previous post), he gets four bottles, and no other candidate even really comes close. Hillary Clinton speed walks occasionally (one bottle). Barack Obama stays fit by regularly playing basketball and hitting the gym (two bottles). Mitt Romney runs three miles every other day or so (two bottles). John McCain does some hiking now and then (one bottle, with one extra for enduring the Hanoi Hilton.) Though not yet an official candidate, Mike Bloomberg doesn't seem to be a regular exerciser (data are hard to come by, though), but we give him one full bottle for his great policy work to advance the health of NYC's eight million citizens.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Running Runner Huckabee to Run Boston Marathon

It didn't quite have the splash of Lance's announcement that he was running the Boston Marathon this year (post), but it's pretty big news that presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, will toe the line in Hopkinton as well. It will be his fifth marathon (PR 4:26:05), which he'll be running as part of the charity, Team Hoyt (site). Regardless of your politcal leanings, your have to appreciate such an ambitious goal given the time crunch of campaigning. That he's been spending so much energy fending of the smears of fiscal conservatives since Iowa makes it even more impressive. Check out the article on Huck in Hopkinton (story).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Race Update: 2008 Robie Creek half marathon registration day set

Following up on a previous post (post), registration day for the popular Boise area trail half marathon, Race to Robie Creek (site), has been set for Monday, February 18. Directors have yet to reveal the exact registration procedure, which is highly anticipated after the melt down of the servers in 2007.

Postscript: (2-18-08;3:05pm) Robie Creek site reports race is full; posts race logo for 2008 (post).

Postscript: (2-18-08; noon) It's registration day and sign-ups grind to a halt again. See update (post).

Postscript: (2-13-08) Race directors officially ban iPods from race (post).

Postscript: (1-31-08) Slightly testy update on the Robie Creek FAQ about registration for 2008: "100% online, it will start at 8 am mt time on february 18th 2008, president's day. a link to the sign up page will be at on the 18th. please only hit your enter key once. the more you hit the enter or refresh keys it only slows down the computers, as the server must answer each hit. GOT IT?"

Postscript: (April 18, 2008) Race instructions on the eve of race day (post).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Be the Smog: Olympic athletes look to deal with Beijing's horrid pollution

Olympics-bound athletes concerned about dealing with the Beijing smog are trying to figure out how they can begin to adapt to the severe pollution while still on home turf. And the real struggle for some athletes may not be so much making the team but getting to the starting line alive. As Randy Wilber, lead exercise physiologist for the USOC, put it in the New York Times today (story): “If they thought locking themselves in the garage with the car running would help them win a gold medal, I’m sure they would do it. Our job, obviously, is to prevent that.”

The story also includes a great visual detailing pollution trends in and around Beijing and the effects pollution can have on performance. More than you may want to know, really. But, you be the judge (graphic, click to enlarge).

(Photo by kevindooley, under Creative Commons)

"Spot" Satellite Personal Tracker: A first look

First off, we've never used the new Spot GPS satellite messenger and personal tracker (site), but we sure like the idea of it. Alone on long, backcountry runs it's hard to know what might be coming your way - good, bad, or hungry. With the Spot, a push of a button can tell family and friends that everything's OK or that Life Flight better get the rotors warmed up. And with exact coordinates available via computer, they should be able to find you in no time. The cost of the device isn't bad ($169.99). Same with the one year service subscription ($99.99). Living to run another day: priceless.

When we get our hands on one, we'll give the full, stress-tested low down. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kenyan Runners Continue to Suffer: Marathoner Ngetich killed

In a tragic follow-up to a previous post (link), the New York Times reports that 2005 and 2007 Grandma's Marathon winner, Wesly Ngetich, was killed during an ethnic clash in Kenya (story). The country has been stricken by violence since a disputed presidential election in December. Olympic runner Lucas Sang has also fallen victim.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hurting in Hawaii: Results in for the H.U.R.T 100

The H.U.R.T 100 mile ultra went off this weekend in the Aloha State (race site). As usual, the brutality of paradise came to the fore - rain, mud, wind, and about 27,000 feet of total climbing. Of 100 runners off the line, 21 went the full five laps of the 20 mile course. The winners:

100M male winner: Paul Hopwood 27:17
100M female winner: Suzanna Bon 31:56

100Km male winner: Rod Bien 17:02
100Km female winner: Jamie Donaldson 20:30

Saturday, January 19, 2008

After Party: "Cottonwood Chords" from Mountain Khakis'

Because after the running stops, life goes on

Welcome to Run Jukie's newest segment - After Party - where we'll talk about and review some of the things that make life after your run that much more sweet. And, we're not talking about a dry shirt and a banana. We'll be writing about great food & drink, hip clothing, and just plain cool stuff that'll make you feel like every day's been marked by a PR.

Kicking things off - "Cottonwood Chords" from Mountain Khakis (site). And, yes, they're pants, which usually isn't something to get excited about. But, these pants are different. As comfortable as a pair of sweats--but warmer, more assuring, and downright stylish in a mountain kind of way--these will become your go-to pants after your 12 mile training run or 50 mile ultra. They're a fine wale chord but have the thickness and richness more common to wide wales. And don't worry about looking like a reject from the Preppy Handbook, these pants have a great high-altitude look--notched pockets (with two on the right side), gusseted crotch, reinforced heal cuff, and a cool, lined fly flap. Without missing a beat, the "Cottonwood Chords" can take you from the finishing chute to the sushi bar. Although they're missing a dedicated cell phone pocket and are a bit pricey (retail $75.00), their look, feel, and construction make them an After Party must have.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lance Armstrong to Run 2008 Boston Marathon

Hot off the presses. Seven time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, will continue his running ways and toe the line in Beantown this April. For the full story, check out the BAA site (story).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Race Alert: Robie Creek Half-Marathon

See 2009 Robie Creek Registration Update

After the online registration debacle of last year, the directors of the very popular Race to Robie Creek half marathon in Boise, ID (race site) are so far keeping mum on registration plans for this year's event. Referred to, with at least slight hyperbole, as the "toughest half marathon in the Northwest," Robie Creek frustrated many potential runners during registration for the 2007 race, as the servers at ground to a halt from very high traffic. The race took over 20 hours to fill. With full-functioning servers, it likely would have gone in minutes. No word yet when this year's plans will be announced for the April 19 event. When they are, Run Junkie will let you know.

Postscript: (January 23, 2008) Registration day has been set for February 18, 2008. See new post (post).

Postscript: (April 18, 2008) Race instructions on the eve of race day (post)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Running the Numbers: McMillan's pace calculator

We all love running calculators, because really, the next best thing to actually running is dissecting the details of our last run or planning for our next run. And while there is certainly no dearth of calculators out there to use - good, bad, or ugly that they are - we've come to really like the main calculator on the McMillan Running site (link). What sets it apart from most others is its clean look as well as the wealth of information it provides with just a few clicks of the mouse. Enter your fastest time for a single distance, from 100m to a full marathon, and it'll give you projected finishing times for all those distances, as well as pace estimates for training runs - hard tempo, intervals, recovery, etc. That the longest event one can enter is a marathon may make ultra runners feel a bit snubbed, but they're a smart, hardy lot who can spend some of the time on their 50 mile training runs transposing the numbers to their distances.

Friday, January 11, 2008

IAAF to Rule Against Double Amputee 400m Runner, Pistorius

He's got a lot of fans, but that doesn't seem to hold much weight for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) when it comes to double amputee Oscar Pistorius' eligibility to run against able-bodied athletes. The federation is expected to conclude from tests run this fall on his prosthetic blades that he gets an unfair advantage in open competitions (IAAF release). Pistorius and the company (link) that make his blades feel the ruling is both unfair and premature and are expected to officially appeal.

The issue has received a great deal of media attention of late (Forbes, Wired, Times of London, New York Times), and, admittedly, the IAAF is in a tough situation. That a double amputee could have an unfair advantage against athletes with two perfectly functioning legs is hard to fathom. Yet, the federation is obligated to consider that today's space-age prosthetics may carry a dash of the Six Million Dollar Man effect. The $50,000 they spent on the study of Pistorius' blades was supposed to settle the question. It seems, however, that it may just froth things up even more.

With Marian Jones sentenced today to six months in prison for lying under oath about her steroid use (LA Times), maybe the IAAF's money and resources would be better spent combating rampant doping rather than scuttling the Olympic dreams of a small number of amazing, differently-abled athletes.

Postscript: (1-14-08) As expected, the IAAF officially rules against Pistorius, effectively dashing his hopes to run for South Africa at the Beijing Olympics (IAAF release).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A New, Normal-sized Forerunner from Garmin

In anticipation of this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Sin City, Garmin released a much anticipated and much smaller version of the GPS running watch: the Forerunner. Ramping up the style while sacrificing nothing from previous versions, the new Forerunner 405 will retail for $299. The smaller size will definitely appeal to those with small to medium frames, on which the older version could look like Dick Tracy wrist TV's. Check out the corporate 411 on the 405 (press release).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Your Voice: Help Keep Roadless Areas...Roadless

We runners tend to be a motivated lot. It's not always easy to get in the miles when life throws big work weeks, heavy class schedules, or horrid weather your way, but somehow we manage to get out the door regardless. At times, we're called to put some of that motivation to use toward causes other than the kinetic part of running, and it seems that this is one of those times. Our nation's wild roadless areas are at risk, and their fate hangs in part on our ability to move policy makers to act to preserve the pristine backcountry so many of us love. The New York Times recently ran a good story and an editorial outlining the key issues (story; editorial). Basically, the roadless areas in the nation's wildernesses are being over-run by off-road vehicles and, even worse, offered up to the highest corporate bidders. Whether you get to enjoy running the serene backcountry or just love knowing it's there, it's time to let the White House and Congress know that we won't let one of the nation's greatest assets be sold off or ruined for our generation and those that come after us. Here's what we can do:

Let them know:
White House (link)
Congress (link)
Bureau of Land Management (link)
Help the cause:
Heritage Forests Campaign (link)
Wood River Land Trust (link )
Nature Conservancy (link)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

RJ Review: Icebug MR3 BUGrip Shoe

Living at close to 6,000 feet, we at Run Junkie are always on the prowl for items that make running on the ice and snow a bit easier as well as a bit safer. Winter runners are a rare lot here, and we can't afford to lose a single one of us to an icy mishap. To whit, our review of a spiked shoe from the 07/08 line from the Swedish company, Icebug ( the MR3 BUGrip (retail, $129.95).

First impression out of the box: "holy cow, that's a heavy shoe." Second impression: "check out those cool carbide spikes." And that's basically the review in a nutshell. These shoes are really heavy, but they perform really well on ice and compact snow. The carbide spikes provide great traction and great confidence. No more cherry picking for clear asphalt or taking baby steps at icy intersections, with the MR3's it's full steam ahead. If you find yourself running at night, you'll love these shoes even more. A car may still kill you, but a night-shrouded patch of ice won't send you flat on your back.

Surprisingly, the Icebugs also work very well on clear road - something the company literature sure touts but that we were quite skeptical of. But, it turns out to be true. The spikes retract under the pressure of the clear pavement, and you can run pretty much as you would mid summer. And even if you hit long stretches of clear road, there isn't too much worry of wearing down the carbide, at least not very quickly. After many miles on ours, the spikes looks the same as they did coming out of the box, and our fellow runners with Icebugs report the same thing.

Of course, being persnickety runners, we have a few caveats. Aside from the shoe's heft, it's also a bit stiff. Plus, even though company literature says the shoes work well in all types of snow, we find that with even just a bit of loose snow, they don't perform any better than a standard pair of trail running shoes. But, these are relatively small quibbles.

Our upshot: The Icebug MR3 BUGrip's are standout shoes for winter running on ice and hard-packed snow. Their heft, though, can add some extra tedium to longer runs.

More shoe reviews on Run Junkie (shoe reviews).

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Kenyan Violence Puts Runners at Risk

The once-stable African country of Kenya is tearing itself apart, and its famed runners are feeling the strain, reports the New York Times today (story). In the wake of a contested election between president Mwai Kibaki and challenger Raila Odinga, violence and riots have broken out across the country, putting at risk not only the training schedules but also the very lives of its elite runners. Marathon world record holder, Paul Tergat, and four-time Boston Marathon champion, Catherine Ndereba, call Kenya home.

Postscript: (1-23-08) Update on victims of Kenyan violence (post).

(Map used with permission from the Applied Language Translation Site)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Choosing a Doctor: Get the right "fit"

We've all been there. Our tendenitis, fasciitis, bursitis (any "itis," really) has finally gotten so bad that we've bitten the bullet and gone to see the doctor. And, instead of hearing what we really need to hear - sage, doctorly advice that'll help fix us up and get us back on the road for our marathon just 6 weeks nigh - we hear the last thing we need to hear - "don't run for three months." While such a tough prescription is sometimes necessary, more often than not we leave these appointments knowing these doctors just don't understand. They may as well ask someone with a lung infection to stop breathing. In today's New York Times, Gina Kolata tackles this very subject in an interesting article dissecting the biases of both running doctors and running patients (story). Check it out. It all seemed quite familiar.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Poetry from Motion: Magnetic Marathon Poetry

Holidays sapped your energy? Icy roads sapped your motivation? Well, sit back, relax, and get your endurance fix with a set of marathon-inspired magnetic poetry (link). Filled with 220 great words like “chafe,” “pee,” “beer,” and “Boston,” you’ll be workin’ it like ee cummings before you know it. Who knows, you may even find some inspiration to hit the road yourself. What better way to spend that $15 holiday check from Aunt Pearl? Best of all, proceeds go to a good cause - the American Liver Foundation.