Friday, May 3, 2013

Shoe Review: Saucony Kinvara 3

After wearing out my Saucony Kinvara 2's, I decided to purchase the Kinvara 3's. The Kinvara 3's are very similar to their predecessors with a few improvements. So far, I have run about 320 miles in these shoes. 26.2 of the miles were racked up at the Rocket City Marathon in early December. Below is a review of the Saucony Kinvara 3's:

Durability:   My greatest concern when I purchased the Kinvara 3's was durability.  Would the sole wear as quickly as the Kinvara 2's, and would the upper get holes in the mesh.  The uppers and the sole are a little more durable than the Kinvara 2's.  I have gotten a small tear in the mesh on the outside of my left shoe, but nothing like the Kinvara 2's.  I quickly wore a hole in the mesh on my Kinvara 2's leaving my big toe exposed to the elements.  I was worried about the soles on the Kinvara 3's after my first few runs, because I could already see some wear.  Fortunately, the soles did not continue to deteriorate at a rapid pace.  In fact, after 300+ miles I still have a few long runs left in these shoes. 

Comfort:  I loved the Kinvara 2's, but the toe box was a little tight. The Kinvara 3's are a little roomier and provide a better fit on my wider foot.  Like the Kinvara 2's, the best part about these shoes is their light weight paired with a low heel to toe drop of about 4 mm (per, which results in a comfortable, more minimal shoe. By no means are these "barefoot," zero-drop shoes, but they are a great transitional shoe for the runner looking to venture into the world of minimal running shoes without completely abandoning a cushioned ride.  The Kinvara 3's do seem to be a little less flexible than the Kinvara 2's, which results in a slightly less minimal feel. This could be good or bad. Personally, I was thankful that the shoes were a little less flexible during my last Marathon, because it seemed to help delay muscle fatigue in my legs.    

Appearance:  Appearance isn't everything, but I'm a sucker for bright shoes with bright laces.  The Kinvara 3 offers several color schemes that meet this criteria.  Not sure I would wear them to dinner, but they are perfect for an early morning date with the pavement. 

Final Verdict and Recommendations:  As I stated in the opening paragraph, I chose to run the Rocket City Marathon in the Kinvara 3's. This was my third and most successful Marathon, resulting in a PR of 3:44. The decision to wear the Kinvara 3's was made after much deliberation and several long runs in various shoes. At 7.9 ounces (per, these shoes are light enough to race in, yet they provide the cushioning needed to compete in comfort.  So far, this is the best "Marathon Shoe" I have found.  My one recommendation to Saucony is that they continue to work on improving the durability of these shoes in their next generation.  Please share your experiences with the Kinvara 3's and enjoy the pictures below.

Other Saucony Kinvara 3 Reviews:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quick Tip: How to Avoid or Minimize the Effects of Poison Oak?

Yes, it is that time of year again.  Poison Oak and Poison Ivy are running rampant, but you can't let that prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors and/or completing your yard work.  As a longtime road runner, I have just started to venture onto the trails for an occasional long run.  Unfortunately, the trails are covered with layers of Poison Oak, making it nearly impossible to avoid.  Below are two quick tips that I use to prevent or at least minimize the effects of Poison Oak:
  1. Wear Long Socks and/or Gaiters-  Long socks are a must when trail running.  Not only do they help prevent rocks and sticks from driving you crazy, but they also provide an added layer of protection between your skin and the dreaded Poison Oak.  I don't wear gaiters, but to the best of my knowledge they are intended to provide further protection from debris and Poison Oak by covering and denying access to the inside of your shoe.  A picture is often worth a thousand words, so I would encourage you to check out the socks and gaiters at Running Warehouse.
  2. Wash Affected Areas Thoroughly with Dawn Dish Washing Soap-  Too late, you have already run through the Poison Oak covered trails.  Don't panic.  It may not be too late to prevent an itchy rash.  Rush home and wash the affected area with Dawn dish washing soap.  This may sound crazy to some, but I have found it to be very effective.  Just last weekend, I went on an unexpected trail run with short socks (not recommended), and I found myself unable to avoid the Poison Oak that was running rampant on the trails.  Certain I would be covered in a terrible rash by Monday, I took a hose and some Dawn dish washing soap to my legs as soon as I returned home.  So far, no itchy rash.  
Hopefully these quick tips will help you enjoy the trails and complete your yard work by minimizing the effects of Poison Oak.  Please comment if you have any additional tips on this subject, or if you have a funny story involving Poison Oak.  Also, if you wear gaiters, please let me know which brand you recommend.   

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Have You Heard of Pinterest?

A few weeks ago, my wife told me about Pinterest.  The site is used to create personalized boards about various topics.  Then, you pin photos or charts to the boards as you run across them on the Internet.  At first I was skeptical, but I started to wonder how could I use this site to improve my blog and keep up with fun photos I take or find on the Internet.  After much debate (internally), I decided that I should use this site to document races I have run, motivate myself for future races, keep track of my favorite running/biking gear, plan vacations, and just have fun.  Unlike many sites, you don't just create a user name and start pinning pictures.  Instead, you must request an invite and wait for a response.  This may sound pointless to many of you, but I thought it was kind of cool.  Either way, earlier this week I received my long awaited invitation (please remember that patience is not my virtue) to join Pinterest.  I am new to this, but it seems fun and it may prove to be useful.  Only time will tell, but I wanted to post this so that others can check out my Pinterest page and/or request an invite themselves.  If any of you are already on Pinterest, please let me know so that I can follow your pins.   

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Taking My Nike Free Run+ 2's for a Test Drive

As many of you may know, I really liked my first pair of Nike Free Run+ running shoes, so I decided to buy a pair of Nike's newest Free Run+ 2 running shoes.  As expected, I love them.  According to Running Warehouse, the new Free Run+ 2 is slightly heavier than the original Free Run+ (.5 ounces to be exact), but I can't tell the difference.

Now for the fun part.  On Saturday, I decided to go for my first real run since my Marathon on April 30th.  It was a beautiful day, and I was cruising along when police car pulled out in front of me with his lights flashing.  I was confused to say the least.  He pulled up beside me and proceeded to say, "Sir, I'm going to have to pull you over.  Those shoes are blinding."  Then, he chuckled and we briefly discussed the fact that oncoming traffic will have no problem spotting me. 

I'm still not sure if he was bored, jealous, or simply complimenting my shoes.  Either way, I love my new Nike Free Run+ 2 running shoes.  Yes, I love the way they feel, but more importantly I love the way they look.  Do you have any funny running stories to share, or an opinion on Nike's new Free Run+ 2 running shoes?  If so, we're waiting....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

8 Tips for First Time Marathoners

Last Saturday, I completed the Country Music Marathon in Nashville.  This was my first Marathon, and I can't wait to share some tips and words of wisdom about what to expect in your first Marathon.  I'm doing this, because if you are anything like me, you will be a nervous wreck for days and weeks leading up to the event.  Despite training and feeling 100% prepared your mind will be filled with questions and doubts.  Did I log enough quality miles?  How will my body respond to 26.2 miles?  How do I navigate the water/aid stations?  How will I ever find my starting corral?  What if I need to use the restroom on the course?  What should I wear?  All of these questions are normal, and I am here to provide you with some simple words of wisdom from my first Marathon.
  1. Trust Your Training- As your Marathon date approaches don't start to doubt your training.  Plain and simple, if you didn't log enough quality miles during your training it is too late to do anything about it now.  Looking back over your training log should provide you with confidence and a sense of accomplishment.  To paraphrase the announcer at the start line of the Country Music Marathon, "The hard part is over, now get out there and enjoy your victory lap!" 
  2. Take the Shuttle-  If your first Marathon is large enough to offer a shuttle to and from the race, please take advantage of this.  You don't want the added stress of finding parking the morning of the race.  Plus, you will not feel like driving once the race is over.  This is an easy, inexpensive way to reduce your stress level on race day.
  3. Follow the Crowd-  Race day is one of the few times it is good to follow the crowd.  As a newbie, watch for more experienced racers and follow their lead.  They will lead you to a good area for stretching/jogging prior to the start of the race, show you where the best bathrooms are located, make sure you find the proper starting corral, and lead you to refreshments following the race.  Also, don't be scared to ask these guys where to go or what to do.  You have to remember that they were once in your shoes.
  4. No New Clothes-  Don't go crazy at the race expo the day the before the race and buy a ton of new gear.  Well, I guess you can buy as much new gear as you want, just don't wear it the next day.  Go with what you know.  Always wear gear that you have tried out on a long training run, and yes this means no race shirts.
  5. Stay Hydrated-  The water stations are there for a reason.  I recommend adhering to your fueling plan, and don't be scared to walk or slowly jog through water stations.  Remember you want to drink the water not wear it.  Once again, I think it is very important to have a fueling plan for race day, and I would encourage you to stick with it if at all possible.  You may need to make adjustments, but don't let your nerves cause you to neglect your hydration and nutrition. 
  6. To Go or Not To Go-  This is a matter of personal need.  The larger the race, the more portable toilets you will see.  If you need to go during the race, it is important to understand that it very well may mess up your pace and kill your momentum, but if you have to go then you have to go.  I would definitely recommend finding a restroom or portable toilet prior to the start of the race, especially if you are nervous.
  7. Don't Fret the Unexpected-  Prepare for the unexpected.  You don't know how your body will respond to 26.2 miles until you run 26.2 miles.  Thus, you never know what may come up during your first Marathon.  For example, I cramped up at mile 18 and was forced to switch into survival mode just to finish the race.  Prior to mile 18, I felt great and was on pace to meet my time goals.  Did I plan on this happening?  No, but I adapted, took in a lot of fluids, replenished my electrolytes, and finished the race with a respectable time. 
  8. Soak It Up-  This is a once in a lifetime experience, so it is important to take it all in and enjoy your first Marathon.  Also, try to have a friend or family member take pictures of the event, so that you can look back and reflect on this accomplishment for years to come.  Plus, it is easier to brag if you have evidence.    
Understanding that I just ran my first Marathon, I hope that these words of wisdom may help you out a little bit.  Nothing too technical, but I must admit that your first Marathon will likely be far from technical.  My hope is that your first Marathon is a pleasurable experience that leaves you wanting more.  Below, I have posted some pictures from my first Marathon.  To those readers that have run a Marathon before, please comment on this post and leave your own words of wisdom.

 Crossing the Finish Line!

When's My Next Race?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shoe Review: Nike Free Run+

I first purchased a pair of  Nike's Free Run+ running shoes last November.  I have since worn them out training for my first Marathon (approximately 450 miles).  I wanted to wait until I ran these shoes into the ground before writing a review.  Below I have provided some pros, cons, and my final verdict:

Pros:  Plain and simple, these shoes are lightweight and comfortable (weighs approximately 8.8 oz.).  Prior to trying this shoe, I was unable to wear Nike's shoes because of the narrow shoe width, but the large toe box on these shoes is wonderful for runners with wide feet.  Also, the sole is very flexible due to the Nike Free sipes technology.  This shoe is great if you are looking to transition from a traditional running shoe to a "barefoot" running shoe.  I use the word transition, because contrary to what some believe this is not a true "barefoot" running shoe.  Nike's Free Run+ still has a 7 mm heel-to-toe drop in comparison to Merrell's "barefoot" shoes, which have a 0 mm heel-to-toe drop.  Also, this shoe is well designed to help you build your all important, yet under-trained stabilizing muscles.  Note:  You will feel this after your first few runs.

Cons:  As I said earlier, if you aren't prepared to work the stabilizing muscles in your legs (and feet) don't buy these shoes.  I understood this prior to buying the shoes, but I can understand how an unsuspecting, beginning runner may be surprised by this.  Also, please beware if you are the adventurous type.  These shoes are best for running on the pavement due to the Nike Free sipes technology, which allows rocks and debris to get caught on the bottom of your shoe.  This can get annoying very quickly if you are running on a dirt road.  

Final Verdict:  In my opinion, the pros (especially the comfort level) far outweigh the cons.  In fact, I just ordered a pair of Nike's new Free Run+ 2 for my upcoming Marathon and Summer training.  Some people recommend using these to compliment your everyday running shoes and help strengthen your stabilizing muscles, but I prefer to use these as my everyday running shoes.  To each his own.  Do you own a pair of Nike's Free Run+ running shoes?  If so, what do you think?      
My Nike Free Run+ Running Shoes!

Closeup of the Nike Free Sipes Technology

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Creating a Motivating Running Mantra

A running mantra can be used like a kick in the butt on tough stretches of your run.  Think of it as a jet pack.  Personally, I tell myself to, "Dig Deep and Power Through!"  A running mantra is personal, so I don't expect this to work for you, but it works for me.  On tough uphill climbs I tell myself to "Dig Deep."  Then, once I reach the top of the hill I urge myself to "Power Through."  Why in this order you ask? 

Currently, I am focusing on maintaining my target pace on uphill ascents and picking it up ever so slightly once I reach level ground.  This tactic should improve my overall time if executed properly.  Think about it.  Why should I waste energy on a big hill?  Half a mile uphill counts the same as half a mile of flat terrain.  Thus, I should exert just enough effort to maintain my target pace and use any extra energy on the flat or nearly flat portions of my run. 

Understand that running mantras can be used in any way that motivates you.  The only real advice I have for you is to keep it simple.  Anything more than a short phrase is too much.  For example, it would be hard to motivate myself with a phrase such as, "Dig deep within yourself on this hill and power through once you reach the flat terrain at the top."  Thus, you must first figure out what you hope to achieve with this running mantra.  Then, create a sentence that can be shortened into a 4 or 5 word phrase that is easily repeatable.  Got it? 

Now go create your own personal running mantra.  Then, come back and share it with me and my readers. 

Below are a few links pertaining to running mantras that you may find to be of interest: