Brooks PureGrit 3 Trail Shoe Review: Part 1

Brooks PureGrit 3 Trail Shoe Review: Part 1

New trail shoes!

I purchased the Brooks PureGrit 3 trail shoes for my training for the El Vaquero Loco 50K. I plan to exclusively run on trails in these shoes; I'll take careful track of my mileage and as soon as they tip the 500-mile scale, I'll post a part 2 of my review and share my likes, dislikes, thoughts, and show what parts of the shoe held up well and what parts wore more quickly than I would have liked. 

The short video review

6th high school student breaks 4:00 minute mile

6th high school student breaks 4:00 minute mile

Only five (now six) high school students have run a mile in under four minutes. The mile sprint is such a hard race. These runners are pushing their bodies to their limits for an extended amount of time. High School athlete Matt Maton clocked a 3:59.38 at Oregon Twilight. You can watch his historic performance on the Pac-12 network, below. 

How to tie a lace lock or heel lock

How to tie a lace lock or heel lock

Preventing heel blisters and loose shoes

Have you ever wondered what the second set of shoelace holes on your running shoes are for? This video shows you what they are for and how you can utilize them. A lace lock / heel lock can help keep your feet more firmly seeded in your shoes.

How to track the life of your running shoes

How to track the life of your running shoes

Estimating the life of your running shoes

The general rule of thumb on running shoes is that their traction, cushioning, and structure can endure about 500 miles of running give or take 200 miles. Runners who are heavier or run with highly impactful strides may increase the rate with which their shoes deteriorate. The running surface one runs on also impacts the number of miles an outsole may be able to hold up. Runner's World suggests that if your outsole has worn through to the midsole, it's a good indicator that you're in need for new shoes. Although I'm a heavier runner at about 175 pounds, I feel I can get 500 miles out of a pair of shoes before their cushioning and outsole feel and appear to be exhausted.

Why track mileage

I track every 1/10th of a mile I cover in shoes. I do this because Strava and my Garmin running watch give me my mileage covered in 1/10th increments, and because tracking my mileage with precise accuracy doesn't come at much of an increased cost on my time. I track my mileage because we (humans) are generally poor at estimating usage of things like running shoes. We may have a pair of running shoes for two years and attach age with use and overestimate miles those shoes have covered. E.g., shoes with 230 miles of street pounding may be estimated to have 550 miles of use in our effort to self-justify the purchase of the newest 2015 shoes with the currently cool color scheme. Others who are covering a lot of miles each week might underestimate how many miles they've run in a pair of shoes and could begin logging miles in shoes that don't provide as much support and comfort as a newer set. 

Tracking the life of your running shoes

I use a spreadsheet on Google docs to track each pair of running shoes' mileage. When I get done with a run, I quickly pull up the spreadsheet and record the milage. As you can see, I keep the report very simple. Just a:

  • Run mileage total
  • Total shoe mileage
  • Date

Once the shoes' mileage total hits 500 or more, I retire the shoes to yard work, the trash, or a donation bin. 


Seven endurance-related podcasts worth listening to

Seven endurance-related podcasts worth listening to

There are many of podcasts out there endurance athletes might be interested in. While some athletes enjoy training to music, audio books, or silence, podcasts present an opportunity to potentially learn about health and endurance-related topics while working to improve one's health. Here are a few podcasts I found that might be worth looking in to:

The Get-Fit Guy Podcast is available on iTunes and other participating networks. 

The Get-Fit Guy Podcast is available on iTunes and other participating networks. 


Endurance athletes on Twitter worth following

Endurance athletes on Twitter worth following

A list of endurance athletes on Twitter in no particular order

A great way to stay motivated and learn tips and tricks from some of the best is by following them on Twitter. Here's a non-comprehensive list of some of my favorite endurance athletes I enjoy following on Twitter:

Who did I miss? I'd love to find and connect with other great athletes out there.


Fueling up for endurance training with green smoothies

Fueling up for endurance training with green smoothies

Healthy eating

When I have extra time – and motivation – I love to start my day off with a green smoothie for breakfast. These nutrient-dense drinks seem to keep my energized and full for several hours after consuming one. I've found green smoothies to be a great way to pack in a lot of vegetables and fruits into my diet that I otherwise would not necessarily consume during the course of a day.

What tools will you need?

It helps to have a great blender to make green smoothies. Many of the ingredients are solid and require a bit of horse power to blend up to the desired consistency. I personally use a Blendtec Total Blender but have used Vitamix's blenders in the past and have been pleased with them. 

How to make a green smoothie

Here's a great video on how to make a green smoothie. The ingredient that I never leave out of a smoothie is one banana. As Valya Boutenko mentions in the video below, bananas have soluble fiber which helps make your smoothie smooth


Photo credit: "Smoothie Trio" by Andrea Parrish - Geyer is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Brain Rules: How exercise improves your brain

Brain Rules: How exercise improves your brain

Motivational and informative read

After reading and writing about Dr. John J. Ratey's book, Spark, I have grown increasingly interested in the science of exercise and how it affects the body. Per recommendation of a current professor I'm studying under, I began reading Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina.  This book does a fantastic job of pulling together respectable research and evolutionary history into a informative guide on the human brain. Medina list of benefits of exercise on the brain include:

  • Increase in cognitive function
  • Increase in oxygen which reduces free radicals
  • Increase in the creation of neurons
  • Protects brain neurons from damage and stress
  • Reduces the chances of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia 
  • Increases in the production of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein is important in a brain's learning and memory.  

If you're interested in reading John Medina's book, click here


I'm running the El Vaquero Loco 50K

I'm running the El Vaquero Loco 50K

I'm registered!

I'm going to do it! I've sign up for the 50K El Vaquero Loco scheduled for this August 8, 2015. Although I try to train most days right now, I'll begin training in full force this May in preparation for this ultra marathon. 

Why the El Vaquero Loco 50K? 

I asked around for suggestions of potential 50Ks to run. I got a lot of tempting options to choose from. Thanks to all those who helped give me feedback. The three factors I used to weigh the options were:

  1. Season
  2. Race distance
  3. Location

Training in the late spring and summer is idea for my annual schedule. I felt like running an ultra in August would allow me to properly train and prepare for the event. I was also interested in nothing longer than a 50K for what will be my first ultra marathon. Finally, I was interested in something with similar terrain and environment to what I'm used to in northern Utah. The El Vaquero Loco 50K seemed like the perfect race that fit all these criteria. In addition, I also heard great things about this race from Breein Clark and Debbie Farka who have run it in past years. 

Challenging terrain

One thing that caught me by surprise when looking into this course is the intense accents and descents. To begin with, the lowest part of the course is just below 7,000 feet above sea level. Over the course of 50K, runners reach 10,000-foot peaks no less than eight times and climb 8,700+ vertical feet. I'm going to have to make sure I get up into high-elevation trails this summer to prepare to run this event.  

Training updates

As a begin to prepare in earnest for this event, I'll be posting updates to this blog. Look for my updates between now and August 8. All updates will be tagged with "El Vaquero Loco".

Wish me luck! 


Photo credit: El Vaquero Loco website.

Correct running form

Correct running form

Run efficiently, improve speed, avoid injuries

Running with positive form can improve one's speed and reduce the likelihood of becoming injured. 

I have found this video especially helpful in highlighting a few great tips. I recommend watching one tip and working on just one tip per run session. 

A review of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

A review of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

A book on improving the health of one's mind – and body – through exercise

The continuing theme of Dr. John J. Ratey's book, Spark, is two fold:

  1. The mind and the body should not be considered separate
  2. Exercise benefits the body (which importantly includes the mind).

John J. Ratey, MD, cites multiple studies throughout his book. Readers get an overview of many chemical processes that occur as a result of exercise which lead to:

  • Improved energy
  • Lower levels of stress and anxiety
  • Improved learning ability
  • Better regulated emotions
  • Increased personal motivation

Dr, Ratey opens the book with one of my favorite quotes:

In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.” – Plato

The book thoroughly documents the fact that exercise makes your brain better. It has provided me with added motivation to get out the door everyday for at least 30 minutes to tap into many of the benefits cited in the book. To get a good feel for what the book covers and for Dr. Ratey's voice, watch his TED talk on the subject. 

John J. Ratey's TEDxManhattanBeach talk

Which 50K Should I run?

Which 50K Should I run?

Dreams of an ultramarathon 

One of my 2015 goals is to train for and complete an ultramarathon. I want to run a 50K (31 miles) to see what it feels like, to see if it's a bit more fun and rewarding than it is painful. If I like it, I'll try a 100K as I work my way up to the 100-mile distance. As you might know, I'm currently working on a PhD while working full time as a marketing professional. I can't really fit more than 30-45 minutes of running into my daily schedule with all my career, student and other responsibilities currently on my plate. It's a sacrifice I have to make at this time, but something that I'm happy to do. With that said, I don't want my busy schedule to be an excuse to not train and get miles on my running shoes. I plan to run most days between now and May; once my spring semester ends, I'll have a bit more freed up time to train for a 50K and will increase my distance and training efforts.

50K training schedule

I found this awesome 16-week 50K training plan produced by running.competitor.com Plans like these are my lifeline when I'm trying a new distance out for the first time. I definitely prefer to show up to a challenging endurance event as prepared as possible so my race day is enjoyable and rewarding. 

16-week 50K training plain by running.competitor.com  Click/tap to enlarge the image.

Which 50K should I choose?

As I mentioned, I want to follow a training plan and will stick with this 16-week plan for my first 50K. I'd like to make sure I'm giving myself ample time to prepare during a period of 2015 when my schedule is not as hectic as it is during a typical semester as a PhD student. I've been looking at options toward the end of August on RunningInTheUSA.com but nothing stands out to me just yet. I'd love to get your feedback on any 50Ks you've run during the summer that you think I would enjoy.

The importance of running efficiency in endurance running

The importance of running efficiency in endurance running

"This stuff is hard"

When I began consistently training on long distances, the first repeating thought was "this stuff is hard." Running takes a lot of effort, water, energy; running takes time, commitment, preparation, planning, the list goes on. I began thinking about specific caloric values a mile of travelled distance requires of one's body. Does traveling one mile running at a fast pace burn 130 calories? Do I burn fewer calories if I slow my pace down to a 10-minute mile?

Running efficiency

This questions about calories burned per mile led me to research running form and running efficiency. I found a ton of good videos on the subject. I learned that runners with highly efficient form, when compared to those same runners with inefficient form, benefit from:

  1. Less energy consumption per mile
  2. Longer running shoe life
  3. Fewer injuries
  4. Faster potential pace
  5. Street cred' from onlooking veteran runners 

A helpful video 

I ran across a few really helpful videos that did a fine job illustrating the key elements in efficient running form. This one is particularly helpful. In practicing these elements I noticed that I improved my form the fastest by only focusing on working on and perfecting one element of efficient running form. 


The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™

The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™

Me and Connor Child following the completion of the St. George Marathon – and the Utah Grand Slam – in 2013. 

Me and Connor Child following the completion of the St. George Marathon – and the Utah Grand Slam – in 2013. 

Game changer

Toward the end of 2012, I overheard a colleague mention that his family members were registering for the Utah Grand Slam, a running competition that challenges runners to compete for the shortest combined finishing times from four Utah marathons. Learning about that competition was a tipping point that has led to my participation in endurance sports. The challenge seemed daunting to me, someone who at that point had never completed a long-distance race. I was hooked by the challenge, registered for the competition and the first of four marathons within a week, then immediately began training for the first marathon the following spring. By the end of the final marathon, I had logged close to 2,000 miles of training, racing, and enduring. It was a source of inspiration to me to see so the 160+ Grand Slam competitors work toward their goals.

These audacious competitions give a lot a people the drive to train and push their limits. I felt a similar sense of urgency in training for my Ironman race I did in 2014. Having completed a 140.6 mile triathlon, I've been at a loss for some time on what type of event I want to participate in in the future. There is, however, one competition that I have discovered that has caught my eye (an event that will certainly require participants to push their endurance limits) The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™.

The grand slam of grand slams

Runners who want to compete in "The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™" must register for, run in, and complete four of the nation's oldest 100-mile ultras which include:

  1. Western States® 100-Mile Endurance Run | June 27-28, 2015
  2. Vermont 100 Endurance Run | July 18-19, 2015
  3. Leadville Trail 100 Run | August 22-23, 2015
  4. Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run | September 11-12, 2015

Those who complete the challenge get a finishers trophy; more important, finishers get the positive feeling of finishing something challenging which will have required them to travel thousands of miles on foot in the mountains. 

What scares me the most about this challenge is the short recovery time between these extremely taxing races. It looks and sounds hard. Before I jump in, I plan to try a few shorter ultras in 2015 – maybe a 50K or 100K – before making such a big commitment. 


Havana, Cuba Triathlon scheduled for January, 2015

Havana, Cuba Triathlon scheduled for January, 2015

Countries play nice, triathletes compete

With the recent move toward diplomacy between the United States and Cuba, USA Triathlon has secured a limited 25 travel licenses for age groupers who want to compete in the La Habana Triathlon. Registration for this event closes on December 31. Click here register. Although this is not a USA Triathlon-insured event, it's certain that this would be a memorable triathlon to compete in. 


Photo credit: "Caribbean beach series – Cuba" by Nick Kenrick is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Shoe review: Women's Altra Olympus

Shoe review: Women's Altra Olympus

The Altra Olympus

We picked up a pair of Women's Altra Olympus for my spouse over the weekend. Here's our review of these shoes. 

The specs

  • Weight: 9.9 oz.
  • Cushioning: Max
  • Ideal Uses: Trail Running, Road Running, Hiking, Fastpacking, Ultramarathons
  • Platform: Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop™ Platform, FootShape™ toe box, NRS™ Natural Ride System
  • Last: Female-Specific SD5-W
  • Stack Height: 36 mm
  • Sizes: 5–11, 12
  • Midsole: Dual Layer EVA with A-Bound™ Top Layer
  • Outsole: Trail Specific Sticky Rubber
  • Insole: 5 mm Contour Footbed
  • Upper: Quick-Dry Trail Mesh
  • Other Features: Female-Specific Design

Photo credit: "Mountain Bike Star Pass" by TrailSource.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The 3:2 breathing pattern and training runs

The 3:2 breathing pattern and training runs

I love the 3:2 breathing technique for running. It's based on Budd Coates' book, Running on Air: The Revolutionary Way to Breath Better by Breathing Smarter. In the past, I have followed the 2:2 cadence -- breathing in at a cadence of two strides and breathing out at a cadence of two strides. This 3:2 approach suggest to take a bit more time breathing in maximizing oxygen intake while alternating which foot one begins breathing on. I've been trying it out on all my morning runs this week. Although it takes a bit of practice, I've noticed a difference in my running. I feel more relaxed, in the zone, and comfortable with my pace.  


Photo credit: "defeat reality" by Jaume Escofet is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The 80/20 method of training

The 80/20 method of training

Intensity levels 

Runners World recently published this interesting article on the 80/20 method of training. The article breaks training intensity down into three levels:

  • Low intensity: training at a low enough point where breathing harder isn't required
  • Moderate intensity: training at a level of intensity high enough that breathing harder is required
  • High intensity: training at a level higher than one's lactate threshold

Each intensity level contributes to one's fitness and speed in different ways.

Daily training

The author speaks about a study in which those who train 80 percent of the time at low intensity levels and 20 percent of the time at moderate and high intensity levels tend to perform at optimal levels. This 80/20 rule goes against intuition which might lead endurance athletes to believe that more moderate and high intensity workouts lead to better performance on race day. Read the whole article, here. It's fascinating. 


Photo credit: "Marina City" by Marlin Keesler is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Sharpness decreased.

Distance running with Kayla Montgomery

Distance running with Kayla Montgomery

Grab your tissues

This is an outstanding story ESPN produced on one of the nation's fastest high school long distance runners. Here's the catch. She has multiple sclerosis. 

Every runner has a reason

Every runner has a reason

There's not much I need to say about this video. Watch it. If you're a runner, you'll relate. Awesome work by Heist!