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Born to Run Shoe (B2R) Review

When my coach, Eric Orton, released his newly designed shoe, I was very happy.

Eric has pushed me to go places I never thought I’d be able to go, including running a marathon (first of many I hope) and running a crazy long run in the mountains of Colorado.

So when he launched his new shoe and line of B2R (Born to Run) products, I knew I immediately had to try them out.

I ordered them on the website, and when I unboxed them, I was surprised. I either didn’t notice or pay attention to the photos on the website since this was not a “normal” shoe.

First thing you notice when you look at it is that there is a split right down the middle. That’s for the toes to have more freedom to move around and so the big toe can get a greater range of motion on its own (I think).


The second thing you notice is that it’s completely flat, that is, no heel drop.

The shoe also comes with special socks, that look like crab claws when you unpack them, but they stretch very well over the toes.


I also tried the shoes with regular (non split) socks and while the fit isn’t the best, they can work.

The next think I noticed when I put them on was the comfort.
I don’t know how they did it, but the shoes are really comfortable to wear (I have weird feet, so the shoes I get are always either too big or small for me).

Walking around in them, they felt like a mix of a barefoot shoe (because of the zero heel drop) and my Nike free shoes that I usually run in.
Then I took them for a run.

Not surprisingly, my transition from the Nike free to these shoes was a bit of a disruption for my feet. Even with a relatively low heel, the Nike free still has one and the lack of heel in this new shoe took me a few minutes to get used to.

It was a bit like running in vibram five fingers for the first time, except that the shoe felt more comfortable and seems to have more cushioning.
I ran my first time with socks on, and the shoe was really comfortable and easy to use. I felt the road and trail, but not to the level of texture of running with vibrams or barefoot of course, which made it easier to run on the gravel trail I usually avoid in vibrams.

I asked Eric, and he said that the shoes can be used with or without socks, so my next run was without socks. The shoe worked great, and felt good on my feet. Definitely more protective than the vibrams.

After the first run, I felt that my calves and Achilles tendon got a good workout, but by my next run, my legs seemed to have gotten used to running without a heel again.

I also bumped my toes on rocks and roots on the trail (not on purpose of course) and the shoes offered very good protection. The shoes come in a road version, with a trail version coming soon. I don’t know how the road shoes perform on a really rough trail, but they perform just fine on gravel, dirt, and a slightly rocky trail.

One problem with running without socks came when I took the shoes off. They have an insole and when my feet came out, the insole stuck to them and got pulled out too. Not a big deal, but a bit annoying, so I’m running with socks now. Eric said that this happens because the shoe wasn’t laced tight enough, so I’ll have to try that next time I run.

I also tried running in these shoes with my injinji socks, which worked just as well as the “crab claw” socks made specifically for these shoes.

Overall, these shoes are my new favorites, and I plan to use them as my day to day running shoes.

You can get this shoes and other great products at B2R Running Shoes

5 lessons I leaned from my first ultra marathon

Ultra marathon in colorado - trail in mountains

I recently ran (or attempted to run) my first 50-mile ultra marathon. A combination of factors made me not able to finish, and while I failed to achieve the goal I set for myself, I did learn quite a lot and overall did enjoy the experience.

I’d like to share some of what I learned.

1. Location, location, location: I live on the east coast, near Philadelphia. The areas I run in are mostly flat, with the highest hill being at around 700 feet. My coach recommended that I try an ultra in a different area, like the desert mountains in Colorado (near Fruita). While the scenery was definitely beautiful, and it was fun to run there, I think the terrain was much too difficult for me. The elevation wasn’t too bad (5000 feet), but combine that with really hilly terrain, and ravines I had to climb down using a lot of upper body strength and you get a recipe for disaster… ok, maybe not disaster, but it wasn’t easy…

Lesson: if I’m going to run in mountains, I should train in mountains, or at least do a few test runs in similar terrain.

Also, in the pre-race briefing, I should have asked the host to walk through the course and note any unusual things I might encounter. I lost the trail several times because I couldn’t believe that I was supposed to climb/descend into some ravine that looked impassable, but was actually part of the course.

2. Temperature: I couldn’t really control the weather, but luck had it that the day of the run was also the hottest day ever recorded or something to that extent. Coming off training at 40-50 degrees and running in 80-90 degrees is definitely a shock. I was completely unprepared for that temperature, and the heat and dry air wiped me out.

Lesson: Train for temperature, if there’s a chance of severe temperature differences – make sure I’m ready for that.

3. Food and hydration: That was probably the cause of my demise on the mountain. I train with very specific nutrition, and the race aid stations offered a nice variety of foods, but they were different from what I was used to. They also served up a vile liquid called HEED, which I drank for the electrolytes.

After a while on this new diet, my stomach began to churn (more on that later) and the run became very unpleasant. I couldn’t eat or drink and that made me overheat, lose salt, and dehydrate.

Lesson: If you don’t train eating oranges, pretzels and heed, don’t eat a bunch of them on race day.

4. Knowing when to stop and when to continue: At some point during the run, I was so dehydrated and overheated, I just couldn’t keep going.

It was around mid-day, with almost zero shade, and it was only getting hotter. I lost the trail a couple of times, so the distance my GPS was tracking wasn’t telling me where the next aid station was and I just finished a steep climb that seemed like would never end. I was completely broken down, getting dizzy as I walked and felt like puking the little food I had in me, so I decided that it was over for me and found a tiny shady area to sit in and catch my breath. I rested for about an hour, and then decided to start walking some more. There was still some steep climb left ahead, and I couldn’t see the top. I was worried I wouldn’t make it.

Turns out, the steep climb ended about 100 feet from where I stopped, and then it was a nice easy decent in the shade of the mountain to the next aid station that was a mile or so away.

Lesson: I think I did the right thing by stopping, I was really feeling bad and I might have hurt myself if I continued. In other situations though, going that extra few hundred feet would have changed the way this run ended. I guess the lesson here is to know your body and how far you can push yourself before you do real damage.

(gross out alert for the next one–>)
5. Toilet paper: I know this sounds ridiculous, but next time I go on a run like this, I’m going to carry toilet paper with me. It’s one thing to have to bury your poop, it’s another to not have a proper “wiping implement” and having to figure out how gross you want to be by the end of the run…

How to reduce inflammation with a simple ingredient

turmeric

I’m getting older.
I just turned 40, and I want to make sure I’m keeping my body healthy and as disease free as possible for as long as I can.

The more research I do, the more it seems like inflammation is the cause of most problems the body has. I’ve also learned that food is a big source of inflammation (sugar…), and that eating certain foods can increase or decrease inflammation.

I’m not sure on how much “real” science is behind this since I’m sure a lot of food related research is funded by companies who make food so they wouldn’t want to show that their food is bad for you, but from personal observation, when I eat food that is considered inflammatory, I feel bad, when I eat anti-inflammatory food, I feel better.

The one simple ingredient I found that really helps is turmeric. Turmeric is a spice, and if you eat Indian food you’re probably already familiar with it.

It has a very mild bitter-sweet flavor and is yellow-brown in color. My wife says it goes very well with curry and with cumin, but I don’t eat those spices that often so I can’t really say.

These days, I add turmeric to pretty much every meal I eat. I’ve had it with eggs, vegetables, and even in soup. It doesn’t really have much of it’s own flavor, it just takes on the flavors of the other spices I use. It also makes the food have a stronger color that makes it more appetizing to me.

The research I read says that you really need high quantities of turmeric to get the most anti-inflammatory value, but it helps me feel better, so it seems like it works for me in lower doses as well.

Disclaimer: this blog and this post are not intended to offer any medical advice or any advice of any kind. The solutions I discuss here work for me and your situation may be different. Any action you take based on this blog is at your own risk. You should consult a medical professional if you feel any pain or discomfort during physical activity.

How To Fix Shin Pain From Running

shin pain running

In my last post I talked about knee pain and how to fix it. Today I’ll talk about fixing pain in the lower part of the knee and shin pains. Shin pains while running are relatively new for me. I haven’t had them until recently and at first I was worried I had shin splints.

The pain also extended to the bottom of the knee so that made running even more painful.
Once again, there is a simple solution for these pains.

The pain in the shins (at least my pain) is caused by tight muscles, so it’s another stretch I need to do to prevent the pain.

The kneeling shin stretch works best for me, but I can’t really kneel down in the dirt and rocks while I run and do a kneeling stretch, so I do the standing stretch for short-term relief.

Disclaimer: This blog and this post are not intended to offer any medical advice or any advice of any kind. The solutions I discuss here work for me and your situation may be different. Any action you take based on this blog is at your own risk. You should consult a medical professional if you feel any pain or discomfort during physical activity.

How to Fix Knee Pain From Running

I’ve been running for several years now, and whenever I go on long runs, or run really fast, I get bad pains in my knee.
It usually starts out with my left (weaker) leg, and then if I keep going, my right leg joins in.

The pain is almost a sharp pain, like the bones are grinding together, and I’ve even gone to see several doctors for it who sent me to physical therapy.

I talked to my coach about this and he offered a very simple fix…

Basically, what happens to my knee is that the quad muscles and the muscles around the quad get very tight. They pull on all sorts of stuff in the knee area and that’s what causes the pain.

To solve my knee pain while running, all I have to do is stop stretch my quads. I usually do a 20 second quad stretch for each leg and that keeps me going for a few more miles and then I stretch again if the pain comes back.

Here’s a good video that explains how to do a quad stretch (you can also lean on something while you stretch if you need more balance)

For a longer term solution, I roll on a foam roller. I roll the quad, all the way up and down, then do the areas around the knee (but not on the knee itself, more towards the lower quad area). These rolls hurt like hell at first, but once I get through them, I feel much better.

these solutions do a great job fixing knee pain caused by running to the top of the knee, but what about the bottom of the knee? on that, next time.

Disclaimer: This blog and this post are not intended to offer any medical advice or any advice of any kind. The solutions I discuss here work for me and your situation may be different. Any action you take based on this blog is at your own risk. You should consult a medical professional if you feel any pain or discomfort.

The Fat Kid With The Asthma Just Ran A Marathon

I never was a runner.

I wasn’t one of those kids who ran track in high school and then graduated to longer runs. My asthma (which was and still is under control) was a great excuse to get out of gym class, and even when I did participate in physical activities it was more on the strength side than anything else (weights).

So obviously, I ended up with about 80-90 lbs. of extra fat and a very sedentary lifestyle.

Well, I’m glad to say that 2 years ago or so, I started running and yesterday I ran my first (hopefully of many) marathon!

The Philly Marathon wasn’t easy, but I don’t think any first marathon is. I’m going to walk through some of the highlights, but spoiler alert, I didn’t win… :)

A few days before the run, I started to feel really stressed about it. Most of my brain knew that I was ready, but going so far out of my comfort zone was just too much for kalvin (my comfort zone) to bear. I was really nervous, had trouble sleeping and all sorts of weird run logistics related dreams (missing the train and arriving late, showing up on the wrong day etc…).

I slept surprisingly well the night before the marathon, albeit for only 5 hours since I had to wake up at 4am to make it to the train.

The marathon started at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the steps from “Rocky” are, and there was a fun felling about it all. I started to feel better about the run, and realized that I’m already there, so I might as well enjoy it.

I was in the last corral, since I’m slow, so it took us about 30 minutes to actually get to the starting line after the race started, but everyone was in an upbeat mood, so it wasn’t too bad of a wait.

Mile 1-2: I ran fairly slowly, ending up in a pack of old ladies walking the half marathon. It’s not very encouraging when you get passed by a couple of old ladies and a guy juggling balls while running the marathon, but I knew it was only the start so I kept my heart rate low and got in the groove of running.

Mile 2-8: I started to pick up speed and passed most of the old ladies. I was still slower than my usual pace, but not by much, and I was feeling really good! The nice thing about this marathon (and I’m assuming others too) was that people come out to cheer you and call your name (it’s on the bib with the number). It’s really fun and people were high-fiving me and cheering and such. I was really energized! The Drexel students were the most fun, they were partying in the streets and giving runners beers (but I didn’t take any) and just having lots of fun.

Mile 8-14: at mile 8.5 or so, I started thinking, “This is really easy! I can easily do this and my stomach is feeling just fine” (I’ve had some stomach problems on longer runs when I eat too many energy gels).

Then at mile 9, my stomach started to feel funny and I started to suffer…

Once my stomach issues kicked in, the run stopped being fun and started to be a struggle. My notes from my coach said that if my stomach starts to feel funny, I should just drink water at aid stations, so I did that for a while and it got better, but every time I ingested sugar (in energy gel form or as Gatorade), the stomach problems came back.

This part of the run was also on the same road where my long runs usually end at, so mentally, I was ready to stop.

At this point, kalvin started getting really loud and I was thinking things like “Why do I need this? I can just quit and finish a half marathon, that’s good too, right?” and I really started to feel every pain and ache my body could create.

Somehow, my mind got over all those negative thoughts and I took the left lane for the marathon, and not the right for the half finishers.

Mile 14-17: This was probably the worst part for me. I was running outbound on the road that the fast finishers were running back on, and I watched hundreds, if not thousands of tired looking people running to the finish line while I was just starting out on my second half. It was very demoralizing… I was also feeling very tired here, and my heart rate was high. According to my notes, this meant that I was probably dehydrated. I was running with a water pack, but I used it up and relied on the water at the aid stations. So at the next aid station, I filled it up again and drank 3 cups of water that helped me feel better.

Mile 17-22: At this point I realized that I was in this to finish, so I walked and ran depending on the terrain. I was in a relatively hilly area, so I walked up the hills and ran down. This was also in Manayunk (a different part of town), so very few people were out cheering and it was basically just me and the road. This was probably the slowest part for me. I still wasn’t feeling well, and skipped a few scheduled gels, so my blood sugar wasn’t very high either.

Mile 22-end: This part of the run was my best.
At mile 22, I realized that I’m almost done, but I was really slow. My stomach was feeling better, and I had some more sugar in me, so I reached in and did a mental check. I still had some energy left…

So I put on my running playlist, raised my heart rate limit warning on my Garmin and started to run!

I never thought I could keep a 12 min mile or so pace for 4.2 miles after running 22 miles, but I did! My top speed at this part was 6:28 min/mile (although not for very long) and I was passing people like crazy! At this point, most people were limping, walking or jogging really slowly, but I was flying past them and they were amazed that I can keep that speed. At about 1 mile from the finish, there was a brief up hill, so I slowed down a bit and chatted with a couple running in vibrams (they looked like they were in real pain and the girl was crying, but the guy was really nice and supported her to go on). And then for the final stretch I really flew towards the finish.

I was in really pain at the end, I limped my way to the gear check and the massage area, but the massage people said they were done for the day (even though there were still a lot of runners coming) and were very rude about it…

After the run, I called my parents to let them know I’m done, and my dad asked me “would you do it again?”

That’s an interesting question, there were points during the run where I was thinking that I never want to run, let alone run a marathon, again, and I’m definitely not the kind of person who does this to prove something to anyone or to myself, but the overall experience was really eye opening. I think I learned a lot about myself during this run, and found out how I react do different situations under this kind of stress.

I think that overall, I did enjoy this event and except for the physical discomfort I felt during the run and the day after, it was a very positive experience, so yes, I would do it again.

I may want to try a different city next time, maybe NY, and I definitely need to get faster so that it doesn’t take so long. I’m sure that I would have felt better if I was running for less time and finishing earlier with a larger group of people. It would also be nice to get to a level of training where I am always ready for a marathon so I don’t have to train especially for this.

I would really like to thank some of the people who helped me do this:

Obviously, although not a person per se, thank god I finished this! I definitely needed some divine intervention at some parts of this race and I’m glad I had it…

I would also like to thank my wife, who even though she was on a 24 hour shift working in the surgical ICU, found the time to send me encouraging text messages all through the run.

I’d really like to thank my coach, Eric Orton, who kept pushing me during training and helped me discover that I can actually do this kind of run. Eric, your advice on getting through the physical symptoms during the run was invaluable, and I got out of a few really bad situations thanks to that great list!

Next, I’d like to thank Chris McDougall, who wrote the book Born to Run, introducing me to this amazing technology, my feet, and showing me that I can use them and actually not suffer.

I’d also like to thank the folks from ultrarunnerpodcast.com. Their inspiring and hilarious interviews got me through some tough spots with a smile on my face. I was actually laughing out loud at their “Sonoma” in the spell check story.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank Tim Ferriss for introducing me to the 4-hour body diet. I think it would have been much harder to do this carrying those extra 40 lbs of fat I lost on that diet…

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