Thursday, June 30, 2011

What's up with those shoes for running barefoot?

Have you seen these?  

Vibram Fivefingers KSO - (41 Men's, Black/Grey/Camo) - M1485 

To me, they look like something out of the SNL skit “What’s Up With That?”  More bizarre than the look of this shoe (if you can even call it that) is the fact that the popularity and sales for them continue to grow.  Almost everyone I’ve spoken to, including the people I know who own them, agree that they are just about the most hideous footwear in existence, which begs the question, “why do people buy them?”  

To Promote Proper Running Form:  A growing number of people believe that running shoes are actually bad for runners.  This theory has been tested and touted by scientists, universities, and avid runners.  The primary basis for this argument centers on proper running form, which is striking the ground with the middle or front of the foot, rather than the heel.   Dr. Venkadesan, a researcher of applied mathematics and human evolutionary biology at Harvard, has concluded that repetitively striking the heel first sets runners up for repetitive stress injuries such as stress fractures and shin splints.  In this article, he goes on to say that cushy running shoes cause heel striking because the comfort they provide essentially causes runners not to think about their form.

If you think about the way the human body naturally works, this theory makes sense.  The next time you’re in the park or on the beach, take off your shoes and start running.  You’ll immediately notice that your foot naturally strikes the ground on the balls of the feet.  If you purposely strike the ground with your heel, it feels unnatural, and depending on the terrain, painful after any prolonged period of time. Purchasing shoes for running barefoot helps runners maintain proper form while providing vital protection and grip for your feet.

For those of you who are interested in reading more about proper running form, check out the home page of 

For those of you want to try out a pair of shoes for running barefoot (and who are secure enough to be spotted in public while wearing footwear that looks like some fad from the 80’s), I recommend checking out the Vibram FiveFingers KSO or shoes made by Zem.  For those who prefer a conventional looking running shoe but are searching for a pair of kicks that promote proper biomechanics and running form, I recommend running shoes made by Newton or New Balance’s MT101.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Water Versus Gatorade

The biggest problem with having too much choice is running into paralysis by analysis. Choosing something as simple as what to drink before, during, and after a run is a perfect example. Google “what to drink for a run” and you’ll get 420 million results. So what’s the correct answer? In this post, we’ll examine the facts about proper hydration and attempt to settle the debate of water versus Gatorade

Why is Hydration Important?

As Camelback says, Hydrate or Die. Over 60% of a human’s body weight is comprised of water. Since every cell, organ, and tissue in our bodies need water to function properly, hydration is essential for survival. Our bodies use water to keep joints lubricated, remove waste, regulate temperature, and keep organs functioning properly. Even when not exercising at all, health experts recommend drinking 64 ounces of water per day.

Water versus Gatorade score: Water 1....Gatorade 0

How much should I drink while exercising?

The answer to that depends on how long you plan to exercise. A good rule a thumb is to consume one cup (8 ounces) of fluids per 20 minutes of exercise. As it pertains to running, a key thing to remember is that fluid absorption is just as important as fluid replacement. If planning to run for less than an hour, water will accomplish both objectives. If running for more than an hour, fluid absorption and providing energy to your muscles both become vitally important. The best way to accomplish this is to provide your body with sodium (for fluid absorption) and carbohydrates (for energy). Gatorade contains both. Because the goal is to qualify for Boston Marathons, I’ll give the point to Gatorade. For more on this topic, check out the following article on proper hydration:

Water versus Gatorade score: Water 1…..Gatorade 1

How much should I drink during recovery?

When it comes to recovery, here’s the bottom line: replace all the fluid you’ve lost during your workout. If you don’t currently weigh yourself before and after your runs, start doing so. One pound of weight loss equals one pint (about 16 ounces) of water loss. So, if you lose three pounds during your run, you should drink roughly 48 ounces of fluid. My suggestion here is to drink what you like. Anything that encourages you to drink more is doing its job in this category. Because Gatorade contains carbohydrates and sugars (and in my opinion, tastes better than water), it gets the nod over water in terms of replacing weight lost during a run. However, knowing that some people use running as their primary weight loss program and don’t want to consume carbs and sugar after their workout, I’ll call it a tie in this category. Check out the following article for another take on this subject:

Water versus Gatorade final score: Water 2…Gatorade 2

My take:

The question of whether to drink water or Gatorade may be flawed. After all, Gatorade is made of mostly water. That being said, my take is that runners need both. When the body sweats, it loses more than just water. It loses salt, potassium, sugar and electrolytes. My personal method is to drink water throughout the day to prepare for my runs and exercise. When running for an hour or more, I prefer to carry a bottle of Gatorade that is cut by 25% with water. After the run, it’s all Gatorade for me. I personally am looking to gain back the lost weight quickly and I prefer the taste of Gatorade over water. Use the facts discussed in this post and figure out which combination works best for you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Genesis of Boston Marathons or Bust

Not unlike many blogs, this site was built as a result of my being inspired by others and wanting to provide inspiration to others.  Throughout much of my life, running has served as a vessel for the inspiration I speak of.  The emotions associated with running are as varied as those associated with life.  Anyone who attempts a competitive foot race of any length faces the possibility of feeling a myriad of emotions such as joy, rage, pride, humility, frustration, pain, etc.

Boston Marathons or Bust will be a forum for sharing the experiences and aforementioned emotions associated with running.  Another objective is to promote discussion, debate, and the examination of many varying topics associated with running (e.g. which protein bars to eat during a race, shoes for running barefoot, avoiding and treating injuries, marathon training plans, running playlists, paying a premium for earsound headphones, the benefits of running clubs, etc.).  Finally, as implied by the name of the blog, I plan to chronicle the journey of attempting to qualify for and compete in not one, but several Boston Marathons. 

I’m like most of you in the sense that I love and loathe running at the same time. My personal story includes events such as winning a 10K that was held in northeastern Iraq, running a marathon on the White Sands Missile Range in Las Cruces, NM, and retiring from running more times than Michael Jordan retired from basketball.

I look forward to sharing my personal journey and hearing about yours!