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Stop Running and Race Faster – Wait, what?

The fall road racing season is winding down and there are thousands of runners across America struggling to find purpose in their runs. Even runners who nailed their goals and completed epic races are left feeling empty this time of year. It’s the morning after the big party, and it’s time to clean up the house.

Earlier this month, I found myself sharing the back seat of a sleek, black, chauffeured Lincoln Navigator with Gwen Jorgensen. Gwen was a member of the 2012 US Olympic team and is the current 2014 World Triathlon Series World Champion. We were on our way to Central Park for a shake-out run with Coach Kastor and other runners from the ASICS team.

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Gwen Jorgensen

Despite being a model, an athlete, and a celebrity, Gwen is incredibly humble and down-to-earth. She exudes the friendly, no bulls–t attitude that comes from growing up in Wisconsin. I asked her about her training and how she stays healthy with such a rigorous racing schedule.

She told me that triathlon training is tough and the racing season is grueling. No surprises there. But, what did surprise me is her emphasis on rest. Complete and total rest for a period of 1 month. No scheduled workouts, no expectations, and no pressure.

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Andy Potts

Once we arrived at Central Park, I found myself chatting and running with Andy Potts. Andy is also a former US Olympic team member and he was the 2007 Ironman World Champion. He’s a friendly guy with a great sense of humor and a quick smile. As we made our way past the finish area at an easy 9-minute pace we talked about the importance of mental focus.

When Potts goes to an event to compete, he’s 100% competitive as soon as he walks off the plane. If he’s there to meet people and represent ASICS, then he makes as many friends as possible and helps in any way that he can. Whatever he does, he does it to the very best of his ability. That includes taking time off from the sport he loves.

Athletes at every level can benefit from taking a break. “If you train year-round in your sport, you don’t do as well as if you take two to six weeks off,” said Dr. Doug Graham, who coaches elite track and field athletes and who founded FoodnSport. It’s not uncommon for athletes to gain 5 to 10 pounds during their rest period. DeeDee Trotter, Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400m relay says “You tell yourself no 100 times a day” during the season. “For eight weeks, say yes.”

Greg MacMillan, of McMillan Running says “Today, far too many are simply finishing one race (often a marathon) and immediately starting to train for the next one.” The wear and tear of training effects both body and mind. Even the immune system and the hormonal system become compromised after months of hard training.

But what about your fitness level? Are you going to lose some of your speed and endurance? Yes, but that’s okay. You’ll get it back quickly. And the benefits far outweigh the temporary loss of fitness.

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Lauren Fleshman

It’s tough to stop. Says Lauren Fleshman, former US 5000m champion, “If you’re like me, during your break you’ll be a little depressed from missing the endorphins, but you’ll miss the hell out of running and will be chomping at the bit to get back.”

So, stop and rest. Reflect on all the wonderful things you accomplished in 2014 and dream big for 2015. You’ll come back to running feeling refreshed and full of passion for the sport that you love.

HYPERICE VYPER

HYPERICE VYPER: The Ultimate Foam Roller for Runners

There are many different foam rollers on the market for runners, but this one is special. The HYPERICE VYPER is the kind of product that makes massage therapists nervous. This foam rolling device delivers high intensity and high frequency vibrations into the muscles as you roll, and it feels great.

The first time I used it, I felt like George Constanza in a massage chair. Heaven! The vibrations of the HYPERICE VYPER work to loosen and lengthen muscles as you roll. The high intensity vibrations increase circulation and warm up muscles in a way that traditional foam rollers can’t.

More on Foam Rolling

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Engineered to deliver high intensity and high frequency vibration into the body

The HYPERICE VYPER has three speed settings. The eco-friendly outer shell is an effective tool for kneading muscles and treating trigger points. The rechargeable lithium battery will run for 2 hours before requiring a recharge. To save power, the HYPERICE VYPER shuts off automatically after ten minutes of operation.

Hyperice-Vyper

The HYPERICE VYPER has been a remarkable tool for my recovery. I ran in both the NYC Marathon and the Philadelphia Marathon earlier this month, and my legs are craving some tender loving care. I begin with some gentle rolling on level 1 for a few minutes, followed by a few minutes more at level 2. I usually focus on my hamstrings, calves, and quads. By the time I’m done, my legs are warm, tingly, and relaxed.

I’ve experienced immediate relief and flexibility after every rolling session with the HYPERICE VYPER. For those of you that want to save time and money, and avoid the hassle of visiting a massage therapist, check it out for yourself. It’s not cheap, but it’s an investment in your well-being and longevity as a runner.

2014 Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon

The 2014 Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon took over the streets of downtown Philly last weekend. More than 23,000 runners travelled the streets of this historic city where the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. The scenic course took runners along the Schuylkill River, up the hills past Drexel University, and finished by the steps of the magnificent Art Museum.

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23,000 runners took to the streets in Philadelphia – photo by 6abc.com

As a member of the Gore Running team, I was treated to a VIP experience. I stayed at the Marriot Downtown in the Market district and enjoyed a spectacular pre-race dinner at Bliss Restaurant with my teammates. Of course, I also trained and raced in some absolutely fantastic Gore Running gear.

Philadelphia Marathon Expo

The 2014 Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon Expo

The festive race atmosphere, the historical setting, and the spirit of Mayor Michael Nutter made this event truly special. Mayor Nutter walked into the corrals and high-fived runners before the race, emceed at the finish line, and made every runner feel appreciated. Thousands of people turned out to cheer for the runners and the energy was very positive from start to finish.

The race organizers and volunteers did a remarkable job keeping things moving efficiently while also providing adequate security and assistance to runners. Gore-tex was a generous sponsor, providing great post-race festivities and providing hundreds of enthusiastic race volunteers. There was plenty of water and Gatorade for runners along the course, and porta-potties were available every few miles for those who needed to make a pit stop.

Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon Finish

1:30:38, 384th overall

The course was clearly marked with signage. Race clocks were setup at every mile mark, and splits were recorded at 10K, 13.1m, and 30K. There was zero traffic on the course. The streets of Philly belonged to the runners.

The Philadelphia Marathon course is often described as being fast and flat. Well, not exactly. There are two challenging hills that appear at miles 8 and 10. The long downhill section in mile 10 was tough on my tired legs.

Saltmarsh Philadelphia Marathon

Gore Running Wear- Never a Bad Day for a Run

The last stretch of the race heading towards the steps of the Art Museum was thrilling. I loved the crowd support, the long slow turn towards the finish line, and grandeur of the place. It’s one of those memories that will last a lifetime.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been half as much fun if it weren’t for the people I met. Thank you Gore Running for inviting me to experience one of America’s premiere marathon events. Please check out these great people for inspiration and wisdom: @TheRunningJones @rhodymomrunner @KBruning @rowdy406 @kitfoxnews @ROJRunning @GORETEXna @Philly_Marathon @BoMFPhilly @saltmarshcookin @saltyruns

ASICS Gel Kayano 21 Shoe Review

ASICS Gel Kayano 21 Shoe Review

The ASICS Gel Kayano is one of the most popular running shoes ever made. The Gel Kayano is a favorite among marathoners, half marathoners, and endurance athletes who log high mileage and want to stay healthy. I did the bulk of my training in the Gel Kayano 21 leading up to the 2014 New York City Marathon, and decided to race in them as well. No blisters, no foot pain, and a shiny new PR with a BQ on top.

ASICS GEL KAYANO REVIEW

ASICS GEL KAYANO 21 – Men’s Styles

The 21st edition of this iconic shoe introduces the latest Fluidride™ technology and features the new ComforDry X-40 sockliner. That means that you’ll be running on shoes that deliver great rebound, cushion your feet on impact, and provide excellent breathability. The Gel Kayano 21 is a comfortable, lightweight shoe with a stable ride.

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The Gel Kayano offers generous space in the toebox, and a secure heel thanks to the Exoskeletal heel counter. The gel cushioning provides much-needed protection to runners like me that log most of their miles on pavement or asphalt. The ASICS Guidance systems help to keep the foot properly aligned to increase running efficiency.

ASICS GEL KAYANO WOMEN

ASICS Gel Kayano 21 – Women’s Styles

The Gel Kayano 21 is a very comfortable shoe designed to help you run longer. I own many pairs of running shoes, but my ASICS Gel Kayano 21s sit on the top shelf of the shoe rack just begging to go for a run. These shoes are a bit pricey compared to others on the market, but you get what you pay for.

NH Seacoast

Searching for the Runner’s High

I began my Sunday morning long run with cold fingers, sore quads, and a lack of conviction in my heart. In truth, it took some serious convincing for me to leave my wife and kids, nestled together on the couch in their pajamas watching TV by the warmth of the wood stove. I bent my knee and pulled my foot back behind me, grasping the basketball goal post lest I fall into the frost covered leaves.

I waited in purgatory for my watch to sync. A cold westerly wind was blowing in from the Atlantic making the already chilly 33º F feel much colder. I debated putting on another layer and switching my thin gloves for a pair of wool mittens.

I ran the first few miles on legs that had forgotten how to run. My fingers ached from the cold and my eyes welled up. I saw another runner ahead. I picked up the pace to see if I could make contact, if for no other reason than to let them know I was out there too.

They turned left and disappeared at the intersection where I turned right. But, good news. My fingers no longer hurt and my legs had warmed up. I was in a nice groove by the time I reached 4 miles. The first beads of perspiration rolled down and tickled my ears. Ahead of me, the Atlantic ocean sparkled under the early morning sun.

Somewhere along the coastline I forgot I was running. My mind muted the clamor of signals from my muscles and joints and wandered to other, more interesting places. The experience is not unlike being pleasantly drunk and realizing you’ve suffered a 30-second memory lapse.

Much like the Bermuda Triangle, the runner’s high is an elusive place that can’t be found intentionally. Sometimes it doesn’t appear at all. But when it does, I relish it. My most creative and inspiring ideas occur when I reach this point in a run. I see meaning in the most insignificant details.

Minutes later, the spell breaks and my thoughts come back to the present. How much distance had I covered? A mile or two perhaps? Once again, I could feel the fatigue in my legs as I started climbing the hills back home.

Every run has the potential to be a great experience. There’s no way to know unless you begin. The most difficult part is getting yourself out the door.

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Holiday Gifts For Runners All Under $20

Want to buy a great gift for the runner on your list without breaking the bank? Here are ten gifts that any runner would love to receive this holiday season.

Gore Running Wear Mythos Hat

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The Gore Running Wear Mythos Hat is designed for winter running. This windproof hat is made of wonderfully soft material to guarantee optimal warmth with little heat accumulation. Reflective details make sure you stay visible while running.

$18.84

 NipEaze

NipEaze

NipEaze is a great gift for runners to help avoid nipple chafing when running. Rain, snow, and severe heat can intensify this painful form of chafing. The discreet protection offered by NipEaze is a gift for any runner.

$4.95 (15 pair)

CLIF Bar

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Clif Bar makes popular energy bars in a variety of flavors. They have just released three delicious new seasonal flavors: Pecan Pie, Iced Gingerbread, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie.

$16.90 (12 count)

Rocket Pure

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Rocket Pure makes foot deodorant sprays and balms from all natural ingredients. The Peppermint foot deodorant spray will mitigate even the stinkiest of running shoes, and the hand & foot balm is ideal for dry, damaged, cracked, and blistered hands and feet.

$15.95

KT Tape

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KT Tape (Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape) is a strong, elastic athletic tape that reduces muscle pain, increases mobility, and enhances athletic performance. KT Tape provides relief and support for muscles and joints and is often used to treat running injuries.

$14.99 (20 pre-cut strips)

ASICS Arm Warmers

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ASICS Arm Warmers are a must-have winter racing accessory. These soft knit sleeves help runners easily regulate body temperature without shedding additional layers.

$10.00

Feetures Elite Merino+ Quarter Sock

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The Feetures Elite Merino+ Quarter Sock is made to keep your feet warm and comfortable during those cold winter runs. The Merino+ fibers wick moisture to keep feet dry and odor-free. These socks will insulate your feet even when wet.

$15.99

 Vaseline

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Vaseline is a runner’s best friend. You can buy other, more expensive stuff for blisters, friction, and chafing, but this is the old-school standby. It can be used for everything from treating chapped lips, to keeping your hamstrings warm during a race.

$10.90 (pack of 6)

Emergen-C

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Emergen-C is like a bullet-proof shield that protects runners from the cold and flu. It comes in many different flavors and will take some of the paranoia out of the taper period before a big race. Keep your runner healthy in 2015.

$10.73 (30 packets)

Ace Knitted Cold/Hot Compress Wrap

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Every runner will need hot or cold therapy at some point. The Ace Knitted Cold/Hot Compress Wrap allows for hands-free treatment. The soft, insulated wrap will make icing a bit more comfortable.

$14.88

RUNPRO

RUNPRO Insoles Help You Run Longer

The average runner takes more than 50,000 steps to complete a marathon. When running, a vertical force equaling 2.5 times your body-weight passes through your body with every footstrike. Imagine the stress that puts on your feet. It’s no wonder that distance runners are plagued by stress fractures and overuse injuries.

So what can we do to prevent injury and keep our feet comfortable? First, we should train smart and increase our mileage gradually. Second, we need to stretch, roll, and massage our muscles. And, third, we need to wear the proper footwear: socks, shoes, and insoles.

RUNPRO

I’m running with RUNPRO insoles made by currexSole, the most awarded insole brand in Europe. RUNPRO insoles feature a dynamic and personal fit utilizing the most current footwear science and technology. The thin insole has a zero mm drop and won’t interfere with the construction of your running shoe. Instead, it compliments the design, by offering comfort and support specifically tailored to you.

The first step in choosing your RUNPRO insole is to visit the profile page where you can determine your individual biomechanics and choose the best insole for your feet. When your insoles arrive, you simply cut along the perforated edge of the insole to further customize your fit. Then, slip them inside your running shoe. The thin sock liner that came with your running shoe can be completely removed.

RUNPRO

I have a favorite pair of training shoes with just over 400 miles on them. The shoes are still functional and the outsole is in good shape, but they’ve lost some of the support and bounce they had when they were new. After slipping my new RUNPRO insoles in, they felt like new again.

The RUNPRO insoles don’t interfere with my stride or my footstrike. They become an invisible part of the shoe as soon as I lace up. RUNPRO insoles reduce the stress on my feet and calf muscles and allow me to run longer with less fatigue.

You can read more about the currexSole RUNPRO insoles here.

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Arc’teryx Endorphin Line Keeps You Running This Winter

Product Review

The cold winter winds are blowing again here in New England, and I couldn’t be happier. As most runners know, winter runners are spring winners. The weather will be nasty, but you don’t have to suffer. The Arc’teryx Endorphin line will make even the coldest days feel like good running weather.

Men’s Argus Jacket

Men's Argus Blue Jacket

The Argus jacket is a lightweight, wind and weather-resistant jacket, designed to insulate runners from the cold during high-output aerobic activity. A layer of breathable Polartec® Alpha® insulation across the chest and shoulders will offset direct exposure to the wind and cold. The outer shell of the Argus jacket sheds wind and light precipitation, while the Torrent™ back panel provides ventilation.

This jacket will protect you on messy winter days. Runners, snowshoers, and Nordic skiers will find the Argus comfortable for warm-ups, long runs, and just hanging out. This versatile jacket is a favorite of mine on the soccer pitch, going grocery shopping, or just hanging around the house on cold mornings.

Argus Jacket

Arc’teryx cares about quality. Every detail is purposeful and designed to make the garment functional. There are two zippered pockets in the front of the jacket, and two generously sized pockets in the back panel. This provides a secure place for your ID and phone, and plenty of room to store gels and small water bottle.

The trim-fitting Argus jacket also has internal media ports for runners that like to wear headphones, and an adjustable hem cord to keep out the drafts. Thumb loops help runners keep their sleeves in place and offer some extra warmth around the wrist and the back of the hand.

Women’s Gaea Jacket

Gaea Jacket
The Gaea Jacket is for running, nordic skiing, or snowshoeing. It uses the same technology as the Argus jacket, but is made specifically for women. The cut is flattering and the fabric makes this jacket both cozy and attractive.

Reflective blades on the forearms and back make this a safe jacket for low-light conditions. The Gaea jacket is available in Pink Tulip, Calypso Blue, and Carbon Copy Black.

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What Those Obnoxious Running Stickers Say About You

There are a lot of haters out there picking on runners. (See Chad Stafko’s Wall Street Journal article here. And Mark Remy’s response at Runner’s World here.) They say the running stickers on our vehicles represent a smug and elitist attitude. Hmm… Sounds like someone is a little defensive. But, there is a valid point buried under that mountain of misguided anger.

The sticker itself is a boring and benign set of numerals. The growing discord between runners and non-runners is not over what the stickers say, but what they symbolize. Is the 13.1 sticker a race memento? Is it a brag for others to envy? Or is it simply a reminder that you discovered something meaningful and wonderful in your quest to complete a half marathon?

Is it wrong to promote a healthy life choice in numeric form? Should we feel bad about feeling good? Absolutely not. We might even inspire others to strive for a goal they thought was unattainable.

But, let’s face it, as a society we share too much. I don’t need to see a decal indicating the ages and names of your kids, dogs, cats, and current relationship status. It doesn’t bother me, but it should bother you. What’s next? A decal that shows your net worth? When will we see a golden 1M decal set on a black background?

If that 1M decal seems offensive, you now understand people’s anger over running stickers. It quantifies your accomplishment in a way that makes others feel worse about their situation, or just angry with the fact that you seem so happy about yours. It’s runner envy really.

Should we downplay our accomplishments and be more politically correct? Runners with stickers often say it’s about them, and nobody else. Maybe it should go on the refrigerator instead.

I don’t have a running sticker on my vehicle. For me, it minimizes my accomplishments. My races were rich, vibrant, life-changing experiences that cannot be reflected in a cold, numeric, one-size-fits-all decal. Or, maybe it’s just my reticent personality.

Running stickers are a call for attention. They scream “look at me!” and invite public opinion and comment. As Cat Stevens said, “If you want to sing out, sing out.” Just know that not everybody will love your song.

But, hey, it’s just a sticker.