Posts Categorized:

Product Reviews

Review: Trail Toes

20140421-175520.jpgFor the past few months I have been experimenting with a new anti chaffing cream known as Trail Toes. It’s a fairly new brand that I was introduced to by friend and Ultra Runner, John Sharp, who if you don’t know just recently completed the Texas Independence 200 Mile Relay, solo. Yes, it’s quite the incredible feat and was accomplished with the support of Trail Toes. Don’t let the name fool you though. This incredible foot creme is so much more than that. You can use Trail Toes anywhere you would typically use any other type of anti chaffing creme. Nipples, between your thighs, under your arm pits. Anywhere you need that extra slide and glide, I suggest you apply.

20140421-175528.jpgI’ve been using this product at every single Spartan Race weekend I attend. At these events I am on my feet anywhere from twelve to sixteen hours a day. Often times my feet are soaked a majority of the day especially from leading the early morning Hurricane Heats. I’m happy to report that I have not experience one, not one single blister since I began applying this foot creme to my feet at every single race I attend.

Will I be using it for the Death Race this year? You bet! If it can withstand the long Spartan weekends I know it’ll do me right not only at the Death Race but also at my first 100 Mile Ultra Marathon this coming May when I take on the Peak Races Ultra. I’m very blessed to have the support of Trail Toes as my sponsor this year as I tackle these endeavors. I encourage those of you who run long distances, hike for hours on end, conquer Spartan Races and other Obstacle Races and feel the glory of being blister free and not having to suffer the pain of chaffing.

Use Promo Code: The Legend for 10% Off on www.trailtoes.com

20140421-175536.jpg

Typical amount to apply

Review: SteriPEN Freedom UV Water Purification

fuego y agua survival run hunter gatherer steripen uv light water purification purifierWhen I tell you about this product I must insist that my opinion has nothing to do with the fact the people at SteriPEN sponsored me for Fuego y Agua Survival Run: Hunter Gatherer. While I am very thankful for their sponsorship, I’m even more thankful for this amazing product they created. The SteriPEN Freedom is the most incredible tool I had during that wicked hard extreme endurance challenge. Part of the challenge was purifying all of the water that we drank throughout the duration of the race. It was required that we have some form of water purification system on hand for the race and the SteriPEN line was recommended to us. The SteriPEN Freedom not only had the battery power to last the entire event but it also doubled as a flashlight in case I needed it.

How does it work?


Basically Ultra Violet light is used to purify the water, you insert the wand into your canteen or water container, make sure it has a big enough nozzle as you need to fit the metal sensors into the water to activate the UV Light. Once inserted you just swirl it around for 48 seconds or until the green light stops flashing and becomes steady. And just like that you have yourself up to a liter of purified water. If your container is more than a liter you’ll have to do the swirling an additional 48 seconds for every liter.

Okay, so what about how well it purifies?

1271837_521493117940342_264512149_oCan this “magic” wand really purify water that quickly? When I tell you that the water we were drinking was some of the most disgusting water I’ve ever ingested I’m not exaggerating or even coming close enough to giving you an accurate depiction of what it was like but know that it went down just fine. All it takes is 48 seconds to purify one liter of water. Not too shabby. Iodine tablets can take up to a half hour to purify the water and usually leave you with a not so delicious taste. With the SteriPEN Freedom there was no added taste. Just purified, clean, safe H2O. The most important element for survival. Most of the water we sourced from was greenish in color, infested with mosquitos and larvae. Like I said, disgusting. But even the water from the cow trough was no match for the SteriPEN Freedom. I collected three liters of water at the trough and chugged one of them down in less than a minutes time. What’s comforting about the SteriPEN is the speed at which it purifies. As long as you can source water you can be drinking it in under a minute. I like that. A lot.

The big question. Should you buy it?

Yes. While this item is expensive I highly recommend it for any sort of survival/endurance race you might be planning to tackle. Even for the avid hiker, or adventurer this is a tool that should be in everyones bag. Water is the most important element to our survival, having the ability quickly and easily purify water in minutes is a no-brainer. I pretty much bring mine with me everywhere. Lasts 3 days on a single charge!

Rating: 4.25/5

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Long battery life
  • fast purification
  • easy to use

Cons:

  • Need a large mouth canteen cannot use standard water bottle

 

Spartan Group X Training – REACH Chicago

For those of you that don’t already know there will be a new fitness training center opening in Chicago in just a few short weeks. Located off the corner of Chicago Ave and Paulina is where you’ll find our new home to get fit, have fun, and live healthy. REACH: Beyond Fitness will offer an entirely new way to train and prepare yourself for Crossfit Games, Boxing, and Obstacle Course Racing.

June 7th I flew out to San Diego to participate in the 2-Day Spartan Group X Training program to become a Spartan Coach. We began our training session bright and early Saturday morning June 8th at 8:00am. The program was directed by Joe DiStefano and let me tell you he not only put on a very informative set of training seminars but he also kicked my ass with all the exercises he put us through. We did about a 1-mile run around the Point Loma Sport Center as part of our “Active Recovery” between one of our training lectures along with a slew of other exercises. We also broke into teams and after learning what we did about SGX and each team had to develop a week of workouts for one of the three phases.

Spartan Group X Training is a program that can be implemented at any gym, bootcamp, and for personal training. The program provided a lot of insight on how to create a training program, how to implement a system that trains at various levels and stages in a person’s fitness endeavors, how to handle nutritional advice, risk management, and other important considerations to take when helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. On top of much of what I already know I was able to take away a lot of new insight and information that will be utilized at REACH to prepare our members for anything they want to tackle whether it is weight loss, improving fitness level, training for the Elite heats at obstacle races and so much more. I could go on an on about what an incredible program this was and how beneficial it is for REACH but why don’t you just come check us out when we open. Follow us on Facebook for updates. Spartan Group X has the motto “Building Better Humans” and that aligns completely with what I believe we can do. Live a better, healthier, more fulfilling life by getting active and breaking through your perceived limitations. You can live the life you want. It’s up to you to do it.

Review: Inov-8 X-Talon 212 vs Bare Grip 200 Shoe Face-Off

Two pairs of Inov-8’s, both minimalist off-road trail shoes that truly deliver all the grip you need to compete in the obstacle race circuits.  Before writing this review I wanted to make sure both pairs of shoes were put through the ultimate tests.  Following the Death Race, I discovered that it was time to start looking into some more serious shoes.  Inov-8 came as a recommendation from my good friend, Mark Webb, after a talk with him I decided to buy a pair of Inov-8 X-Talon 212s within a week of the Death Race.  It wasn’t until a few months later that I’d actually have the opportunity to put them through an obstacle race.  Now, I’ve become addicted.  I’m addicted to the amazing feeling these shoes have as your feet plow into the soil, paving the way for wherever my feet decide to take me.

What I’ve discovered after running races in both shoes, and going on many, many trail runs in each pair is this; they both serve their purpose.  The X-Talon 212s are my go-to shoe now for distance races, anything over 10 miles and I’m grabbing these bad boys.  All races less than 10 miles are treated to the electric green that is the Bare-Grip 200s.

X-Talon 212 vs Bare Grip 200 Review Inov-8 ReviewNow before I delve into each shoe’s reviews and the pros and cons, let me give you a brief education on how Inov-8 names and classifies their shoes.  They have by far the easiest and most informative nomenclature that I have seen for any line of shoes. One thing you may have noticed is both of these shoes have a number associated with them, that indicates the mass (not weight, because weight is a force and is measured differently) in grams. Therefore, the X-Talon 212s have a mass of 212 grams; the Bare-Grip 200slikewise have a mass of 200 grams. This is good to know especially if you prefer a lighter shoe.  Inov-8s line of off-road trail shoes vary anywhere from 340 grams all the way down to 190 grams (I won’t count the kids shoe which is 160 grams).

inov-8 running shoe trail shoe minimalist

Inov-8 Heel-to-Toe Differential SHOC-ZONE™ Chart

On top of the excellent way to determine the mass of the shoe they also have a very clever way to know exactly how minimalist each shoe is.  When you pick the shoe up and look at the back of the heel you will notice there may be some arrows pointing downward.  The 3 ARROW SHOC-ZONE™ is the least minimalist, it has a 9mm drop so these models have good cushioning with a lower than average differential. Next they have the 2 ARROW SHOC-ZONE™ which indicates a 6mm drop, this type is recommended as a race shoe for intermediate runners and as a training shoe for more advanced runners.  Next there is the 1 ARROW SHOC-ZONE,™ a shoe for runners with strong feet and calves, this type is considered an ideal racing shoe and has a 3mm drop.  Finally, there is of course the ZERO SHOC-ZONE,™ which is for runners that want that pure minimalist feel, as if you’re wearing nothing at all.

It is never recommended to go straight to zero drop and should you decide to transition to minimalist shoes I highly recommend following some of the many guides available including the excellent transition journey available on Inov-8s site.

Both shoes are machine washable, simply take out the foot bed, throw both the shoe and foot bed in the wash without any thing else in there. Wash on cold and then when finished; hang them out to air dry.  I usually hang mine by the knobs on my dresser. Do not let them dry in direct sunlight, as this can cause them to shrink.

X-Talon 212 – 2 Arrow SHOC-ZONE™

Off Road Inov Trail Shoe Review

Inov-8 X-Talon 212

After finally putting this pair of shoes through a proper obstacle course during the Spartan Ultra Beast, I can present a full review on how they perform.  I spent months bonding with the X-Talon 212s on the trails, at the Suck, and even in the gym.  Inov-8 has created a fantastic trail shoe for those looking to get into a minimalist trail shoe that still provides a little padding between your foot and the feel of the ground.  Based on Inov-8s simple nomenclature we know the X-Talon 212 has a 6mm drop and a mass of 212 grams.

Starting with the top of the shoe, the upper is made from a synthetic material and the inside lining is a mesh fabric. The laces are made from a nylon type material and have a coating that adds friction to prevent them from becoming untied.  I still recommend a double knot, no matter what though.  This is a unisex design so both men and women can partake. One thing I wish is that each model would have more color options.  Many of the Off Trail shoe offerings from Inov-8 have one color choice and that’s it per shoe model.

Review of Inov-8 X-Talon Off Trail Shoe

My favorite element of the Inov-8 Off Trail shoe line is the sticky compound soles they have.  While the tread and cleat-like bottoms are totally awesome, it’s that extra sticky compound they are made from that really makes these shoes one of my favorite pairs to wear for the longer distance obstacle races. With the grip they provide you can ascend the slippery wall with ease, you can tackle the downhill, even an extremely muddy one without worry.  Simply put, these babies know how to grip on to any of the terrain that I’ve thrown at them.  I’ve stood facing down on some of the steepest, muddiest slopes I can find and I. Do. Not. Move. At first when I discovered this it shocked me, I bounced up and down trying to make myself slide down and it just did not happen. I remained in place. That, I have found to be KEY for these obstacle races.

When distance is involved, this is my go to racing and training shoe of choice. I have only found one real flaw in the design and that has to do with the toe box, which is really good overall just the front toe flap that connects to the upper has a tendency to begin peeling off. In some cases I’ve seen it worse than others, so far mine has been for the most part not bad at all. Only a sliver has begun to peel but I’ve also put a good amount of miles on these already.  I have heard some that have peeled faster than normal.  I’m hoping with the next generation this is something Inov-8 looks into fixing. Other than that slight issue, I think the X-Talon 212 is an amazing shoe for the trails, for obstacle races, and for those who love being closer to running with their bare feet.

Rating: 4/5

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Minimalist Sole
  • Sticky Compound Cleat-like Sole
  • Superior Traction
  • Machine Washable
  • Comfortable Fit

Cons

  • Front toe flap can begin to peel off

Bare Grip 200 – ZERO SHOC-ZONE™

Off Road Off Trail Shoe Inov-8 Review

Inov-8 Bare Grip 200

When it comes to short distance running and races under ten miles these electric green shoes have become my favorite pair to grab, and its not only because they’re my favorite color, these wicked shoes have a comfort and grip.

First thing of note is these are pure minimalist, don’t let all the extra cleat-like tread fool you. There is NO midsole, the top of the shoe is made from a synthetic with mesh lining.  These shoes have one of the best true to size fits I’ve ever had, and other than being able to feel the cleats beneath my feet it felt like I wasn’t really wearing a shoe at all.

When putting them through the 7 miles of obstacles, mud, and hills at the Gladiator Assault Challenge this past September I realized just how great these shoes really are. Within minutes I was up and over the steep muddy hill at the beginning of the race, often times I have been able to help people up slippery slopes because I can just post myself there and grab hold without ever losing traction.  It’s a wonderful thing.

Muddy Inov-8 Bare Grip 200 Shoe Review

Inov-8 Bare Grip 200 after an obstacle race

The Bare Grip 200 offers superior performance in an ultra light package. They look amazing and they seem to be able to handle everything I’ve thrown at them.  The toe box on these is amazing and provides more then enough protection for anything you might encounter during your adventures. Some people do not mind running longer distances in these shoes. For me it’s all about feel, and so far I don’t feel like my feet are ready to go more than ten miles in something this minimalist. They wash easily and have taken some severe beatings on the trail, off the trail, and at the races.  I have found this model goes on sale often on sites like Left Lane Sports.

Rating: 4.75/5

Pros:

  • Ultra Lightweight
  • Minimalist Sole
  • Sticky Compound Cleat-like Sole
  • Superior Traction
  • Machine Washable
  • Comfortable Fit

Cons:

  • The Zero drop might be a bit much for longer distances
  • Adjustment period

 

*The views expressed in this review are solely my own, and I am in no way compensated by Inov-8. I bought these shoes with my money and tested them myself. 

iTab Giveaway – Spartan Race Medals

iTAB Medal Insert for Spartan Race

“Off Trail Noob” Custom iTAB Medal Insert

Did you just finish the Beast, or maybe you just conquered the Ultra Beast? Did you complete your Trifecta? I haven’t been one to feel the need to customize my Spartan Race medals, or any award I’ve ever received. However the original award I received came was always good enough for me. When the Ultra Beast was given to me I was in awe at the sheer size of it. Later on I would realize that the coloring for the Ultra Beast Medal was actually glow-in-the-dark. . Starting for 2012 the backs of the medals given out by Spartan Race have a slot where you can insert an iTAB medal insert. This iTAB insert is able to be engraved with race information such as location, finish time, and your name. Something my Ultra Beast medal was screaming out for. So to commemorate the first ever Marathon Obstacle Race (because I will never forget that race) I caved in and ordered an iTAB medal insert, it WAS only $10. On it I have my name followed by my finishing time and to remind myself to never take a trail marker for granted again, I gave myself the title of “Off Trail Noob.”

The order process is very simple, you type your information in and within less than a week I had my iTAB delivered and ready to make my Ultra Beast medal even better. The backing is easy to peel off and since it’s perfectly cut it fits right into the medal just the way it should.  Normally I worry about not getting things aligned correctly, I have OCD about that type of thing but it was so easy to align on the first try I was shocked.  Before I wasn’t sure if I’d get more of these but as my medals begin to accumulate I’m realizing it’d be nice to know where each one came from.

ultra beast itab medal

Easy to apply. Remove from flyer, peel off 3M backing, and place in medal insert area on the back of whichever Spartan Race medal you’re looking to customize. Boom! Instamemory.

Now if you want to buy one you can do that simply by going to http://www.itab.us.com/ or you can enter the contest below for your chance to win one of ten iTAB Medal Inserts I have here for you.  If you win you will be given a voucher code to redeem your free iTAB. All you have to do is use the entry form below each task gives you additional entries. In a week I will draw winners. The iTABs are available in both standard and Ultra Beast sizes. Good Luck!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Death Race Reflections – Gear: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Looking back on the Death Race isn’t hard to do.  Nearly every morning I still have visions of being on that mountain back in Pittsfield, VT. The mornings that I don’t think about it are few and even when they do occur, at some point of the day my mind reminds me of all I accomplished during those miserable, wonderful, life altering 58 hours and change. A topic of frequent discussion with various Obstacle Racers has been about what gear worked best for the Death Race.  Fellow racer, rucker, and friend, Tim asked me recently to help him put together a gear list for upcoming The Ultimate Suck event.  The Ultimate Suck is hosted by a man who has accomplished feats such as completing 2 Badwater Ultra Marathons, earning Back 2 Back Death Race wins, and holds a Guinness Book of World Records for being the World’s Fittest Man, I’m of course speaking of the one and only Joe Decker. Before I get anymore off track let me get back to the point. Tim wanted to know what to use for this 36 hour event that is sure to test the limits of even the strongest willed and bodied. It got me thinking about what worked and didn’t work for me at the Death Race, and what I’ll be doing different as I prepare for the 2013 Death Race, Year of the Gambler.

The Good

We’ll consider this to be all the items that worked best for me. That doesn’t mean it’ll work best for you. As always, test your gear, test your food intake, and test EVERYTHING you possibly can account for BEFORE race day. Testing new methods at a race will lead to complication 9 times out of 10.

Let’s start with shoes.

Brooks Cascadia 7 Trail Shoes

Trail Running Shoe Brooks Cascadia 7 Death Race ShoeThe Brooks Cascadia 7 turned out to be a dream come true. It was a rough start when I first picked these up and began training in them. These shoes came to me as a recommendation by my close friend Jon, a marathon, ultra marathon and trail runner, and former UK Soccer player. He sent a text one day saying these should suit you well for the Death Race.  Jon frequently has advised me on shoes to buy. When I began my quest to become a barefoot runner he got me started on the right path with my first pair of Vibrams.  Shoe choice is a frequent topic of discussion for us.  Along with the text message there was a link to this review.  After reading it I knew I had to try them.

Leading up to the race these shoes were questionable, they were big and heavy compared to all the barefoot pairs of shoes I had acquired over the past year.   I remember asking Jon why they were bothering me so much and he recommended fighting through the break-in period before I judge them. I was happy I did. At the race they were wonderful. The toe box protected very well, they drained surprisingly well, which came in handy after submersion early on. I was able to stick with the Cascadia 7s for the first 36 hours. The laces never came undone with a simple double knot. While I did get some blistering, I don’t believe there is ANY way to avoid that at the Death Race.

Overall, even though these shoes were heavier than my minimalist preference they served me very well at the Death Race.  Chances are I will use the next model of the Cascadia shoe as long as it lives up to the same quality as the 7 when I compete at next years Death Race.

Injinji Toe Socks

Replacement Pair Injinji Toe SocksI swear by my Injinji socks. Throughout the race I encountered many racers talking about all the tricks and homebrew concoctions they came up with to help their feet last longer. Me? I just simply threw on a pair of Injinji crew length socks. I stuck to the outdoor versions of these because they use nuwool and have fast wicking capabilities. The individual toe slots prevent blistering between the toes and overall my feet looked much better than what I saw with some of the other racers’ feet.

post death race feet damage

Yes, this is what my feet looked like after the Death Race. This was actually on the good side in comparison to others.

Before beginning the second half of the race I swapped out the outdoor Injinji crew length socks for another pair of their standard middleweight Injinji Toe Socks and on top of those I had a pair of CW-X compression socks.  The best thing about the Injinji socks is how few blisters I had. My feet still appeared very trench-like post race and there were some blisters but overall they looked damn good next to some of my competition.  A few days ago I ordered a pair of Injinji compression socks, I’ll be testing those out at the Spartan Ultra Beast, the first ever 26.2 marathon distance obstacle race, back in Vermont.  Injinji has superb customer service also.  I had a pair of my outdoor socks get a rip near the ankle not too long ago and without question they replaced the pair.  What surprised me more was how fast the package arrived. Within I found a new pair of Outdoor Crew Length Middleweight Injinji socks, some stickers and a nice discount offer which went to the new pairs of socks. Injinji, you done good!

CW-X Compression Socks

Compression Socks for Recovery Compression socks are something I had always a bit skeptical about. I have heard often that they can be good for recovery, and more importantly were helpful during long distance races. After 36 hours and however many miles we had covered I could feel my calves getting tight.  Our pace had slowed down.  Since I had packed these with me I figured this was the perfect time to see how well they actually would work. I was not breaking the number one rule because I had trained in these before, just never in this specific type of situation.

Within minutes of putting the compression socks on I could feel my legs loosening up a bit. They always say with injuries to follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) method.  Recently I’ve encountered a new theory that eliminates the ice part but we’ll save that for another post. Compression is usually the one missed most often due to the lack of something to compress with.  I will be focusing more on that compression part in the future after realizing just how helpful it was.  As the race went on and the miles logged increased I could feel my soreness being alleviated. I now wear my compression socks more often than prior to this experience.  I have found they help me recove faster between runs. I really enjoy wearing them to bed and normally I HATE wearing socks to sleep.

Under Armour Compression Gear

Now, lets just start off with my big Ooops. When it came time to change gear I was searching frantically for my Under Armour long tights. I never found them, some how after all my preparation I forgot these. They would have been perfect and I will definitely be bringing them next time.

For the top I wore a black UA Heat Gear Compression shirt to start and switched to a white one on Sunday morning. Yes, I knew the white would get destroyed, and yes, it is very stained after bleach washes. The white served a purpose though; white reflects the sun’s rays. Standard physics.  I wanted to wear white because I had a feeling at some point we’d be stuck in blazing hot sun being that it was June.  Sunday, was just that, very hot. The white shirt served me well and kept the sweat off my body and kept me as cool as I could be in the summer heat. I swear by compression gear, whether its a standard obstacle course race or more of an adventure race like the Death Race. Compression gear will keep you going longer, more comfortably, period. Less sweat, less discomfort, minimal chafing, and let’s face it; if you have muscle you look bad ass in a compression shirt.

Saucony Compression Sleeves

I didn’t bring long sleeve compression shirts because it was summer. I figured IF I needed something that these compression sleeves would work well for the night hours when the temperature dropped. I was never really certain if these were meant to be arm sleeves or calf sleeves, they were given out at the Red Bull Trail Daze I did back in December 2011. It didn’t really matter they fit well and worked perfect for keeping my arms warm. Whenever I got too hot with them on all I had to do was roll them down and keep them around my wrists. I highly recommend incorporating something similar, the ability to adjust your body temperature on the fly without having to waste time changing or anything, you can’t bet that.

The Bad

The following items fall into a category that is best looked at as items I could live with using but will be replacing with something better next year.

New Balance Minimus MT10 Trail Shoes

After 36 hours and almost quitting, Morgan and I took time to switch out most of the gear we began with.  My only other reasonable pair of shoes I had to bring with were a pair of minimalist shoes. While these shoes have been amazing in most scenarios, they did not serve me very well at the beginning of what we’ll refer to as the second half of the race.  Now in part I blame the low performance of these shoes on the fact that they had already been near the end of their life cycle. I trained almost exclusively in these shoes leading up to the Death Race.

While going up the ravine to retrieve our logs I fell on my ass more times than I care to count. The tread on the shoes was worn but I couldn’t believe it was having this much of an effect on my ability to stay standing. I will not be using these next year for the Death Race. They are great for standard trails, but anything wet like the ravine and you’ll be falling all over the place.  Everything else they were good for however. I still stand by my original review of these shoes, just not something I will recommend for competing in the Death Race.

The Ugly

Finally we have an item that basically failed me completely.

Coleman 3AAA LED Headlamp

Yes, that’s actually what they call it on their website, even though it is branded on the headband strap as AXIS. I picked this up last year for my first ever Hurricane Heat at the Midwest Spartan Sprint (my very first Spartan Race also).  It wasn’t great but with all the other bodies it seemed to work alright there. I used it again at the Hurricane Heat in Texas. I’ve always kind of known I’d eventually need to replace it. Up until the Death Race I usually was using the headlamp in large groups, so it wasn’t too hard to see because of all the other lamps lighting up the darkness. Well I finally realized what a piece of garbage this really was when I was out in the dark alone heading up the mountain with my first batch of logs at the Death Race. This was before I tossed them into the woods and decided along with Morgan that we wanted to quit. On my way up I kept having to really look around and stop multiple times to make sure I could see where I was going.

Cheap Headlamp vs. Quality Headlamp

There is no comparison. One is inexpensive and good for light camping, the other is for hardcore action.

The Coleman headlamp was just no where near bright enough to light up the mountain. Where I live there is usually a glow in the sky, and you can see some stars in the sky but no where near as many as I saw on while climbing that mountain. That’s why I never realized how bad this headlamp was. When I would use it on my night runs back home I could always see fairly well because of the added glow from all the street lamps and other lights. I’m looking into upgrading to the Black Diamond Icon Headlamp, hopefully before I head out to Vermont again for the first ever marathon distance Obstacle Race, the Spartan Ultra Beast.

 

That concludes this Death Race Reflections installment.

Don’t forget to check out my Death Race Wish List board on Pinterest. I’ve been grabbing all the “wish I had that” items in one easy to find place.

Review: New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail

Testing the MT10's on some snowy trails

I’ve been running in the New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail shoes for a few months now. I first began my minimalist transition with a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, which I still use and love, but picked these up to see the difference between the two.  I have yet to put these through a full out obstacle race, unless I count that pitiful Tundra Challenge, however I have done a lot of trail running and hiking with them so they’ve been put through most of the suck. One thing that sticks out is these are a much better winter shoe than the VFF’s, my feet stay very warm especially with the Wigwam Super Merino Wool socks.

The MT10’s are definitely a shoe that should still be treated like any minimalist shoe, take it sloooooow! I took my time with these even though I was already used to running in a VFF’s which have a zero drop, drop is the difference between heel height and toe height. The MT10’s have a 4mm drop which is still basically nothing. At first when I run in them I felt a little tightness near the front of my foot, but I found that went away as I broke them in and loosened the lacing a bit.  These shoes have really grown on me over the past couple months, they provide a great minimalist feel and perform pretty decent on asphalt. Personally I always try to avoid hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete, but they do all right. I wouldn’t recommend running uber long distances on those types of surfaces though.

These are definitely trail shoes, made for running trails. I found that they have good traction even when there is a little mud. Another great aspect of these shoes is the top structure, it’s primarily mesh, very flexible, and it lets your foot breath. When the weather isn’t cold I’ll usually run in these without any socks. Worried about stench? I haven’t had a problem yet and believe me when I don’t wear socks its normally not a friendly smell that comes out after. Thankfully the MT10’s are machine wash safe, just throw them in, I usually go with warm/cold, and then let them hang dry somewhere.

When it comes down to it, what you really want to know is should you buy these or not? YES, you should give them a shot. With shoes though it’s about what you find comfortable and what works for you. I’m excited for the newly release Zero Drop New Balance Minimus Trail shoes that just launched this month. I’m hoping to have a pair of those in the not so distant future to test and review.

RATING: 4.5/5

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Minimalist Sole
  • Good Traction
  • Good in Cold Weather
  • Machine Washable
Cons:
  • Adjustment Period
  • Tight fitting at first

This is my first review on a shoe so if there are any questions you have please leave them in the comments.

Review: Innerzyme Pain & Inflammation Blend

Pain & Inflammation Blend

Over a month ago I sustained a fair amount of injuries… I needed to heal from said injuries with as much haste as possible so I could make my appearance at the inaugural Tundra Challenge. For all my life I have been able to recover from most of my injuries at a faster rate than whatever the doctor predicts for my recovery time.  All the injuries healed fairly quick, with the exception of two, my right knee and my left shoulder (specifically the rotator cuff).

Around the time of the injury I had been talking with a friend from way back in my grade school days about her new enzyme based supplement business she had started.  After reading up on what she had to offer and talking with her a bit I asked her if she could send me the Pain & Inflammation Blend to help me not only with the injuries I was suffering from but also with hopes of being able to speed up the recovery between workouts.

As soon as I received the blend I began taking the tablets as instructed, 4 tabs daily. The suggested usage is 4 tabs daily, and depending on severity up to 8 tabs per day. Personally I don’t find it necessary to ever take that much of a supplement so I stuck with the 4 tabs on an empty stomach with water every morning right when I woke up. For the past 5-6 weeks I have been taking these tablets as soon as I wake in the mornings. I should also point out that I take a variety of vitamins and I have at least one protein shake per day. These new tablets were in addition to all the other nutrients and vitamins I already consumed on a daily basis. I’m lucky that I don’t have a problem swallowing pills because with the addition of these I am up to around 10 or so tablets every morning. The size of these tablets is not unbearable at all, I take all four at once, they are approximately the same size as your standard multi-vitamin.

After taking this supplement for the past month or so I am happy to finally report some of my findings. A few things that I really like about this supplement is you can take it on an empty stomach. One of the biggest problems I sometimes have with any kind of vitamin or supplement is the stomach cramps that can come when consuming them on an empty stomach, never had an issue with the Pain & Inflammation Blend.  I also believe that my recovery time from one workout to the next was much quicker. Typically when I finish one of my workouts the next day will be a bit painful but its really that second day after the workout that has its way with me and drops me into the fetal position. After 2 weeks of taking the Innerzyme tablets I was feeling fantastic not only the next day but that second day of doom as well.

On top of the speed recovery times between workouts that I began seeing, I was also able to monitor and recover from some nasty knee inflammation that I was experiencing. I took some breaks here and there from running but really never completely had to stop or anything like that. Today I was able to run without any signs of the inflammation and it felt wondertastic!

Okay so I’m not trying to tell you this is some kind of miracle supplement or that it’s going to cure whatever pain you may be suffering from right now, but I will tell you this, I strongly believe that it helped shorten my recovery and helped to keep me active while I was recovering. Those two things make me believe that it is completely worth trying!

If you’re interested in more specifics about this enzyme based supplement head over to Innerzyme‘s website and do your research.