There’s a lot happening in the body that’s implied by the catch-all word “bonk” (a.k.a. “hitting the wall”). While the resulting symptoms can occur at once as a symphony of pain and delirium, it’d be a mistake to think they all have the same cause and the same treatment. In my opinion, the the most valuable distinction for beginner long-distance runners is between dehydration and a glycogen bonk, or, generally speaking, running out of stored carbs to burn.
Run Forest, Run
In urban settings like New York, walking, let alone running, is hard enough. With the abundance of hazards — from reckless taxis to sharp-eyed grannies — hitting the streets in your new pair of kicks often means putting your life on the line. If you’re looking for a quieter run around the Big Apple, forget the Central Park Reservoir and Hudson River Park: when the only other New York residents you want to see are plants, birds and squirrels, check out these less frequently traveled trails.
More than a marathon
You’ve probably been hearing more about them: occasional murmurs of very long distance races, men and women running six marathons across the Sahara, a 3,100 mile race in Queens, NY, in the middle of summer. Ultrarunning, or running more than a 26.2 mile marathon in a single shot, seems an unlikely pursuit — and it is. But it’s also growing.
An estimated 60,000 people finished an ultra in the U.S. in 2012, up from about 10,000 in 1990. That number is still small compared to the 487,000 people who completed a marathon in the U.S. in 2012, but it’s still an awful lot of people running exceptional distances. And now you’re thinking about toeing the line for an ultra. Good for you. We’ve got a handy guide to help you through, complete with advice from a few pros at the top of the sport.
May the Force Be With You
Fitbit’s newly announced Force ($130) is one of the most advanced activity trackers released to date, greatly improving on the company’s earlier Flex product in particular. But its ultimate appeal and success with consumers may rely just as much on the Smart-Watch-like features that have come along for the ride.
A Dozen Gifts for the Mountain Man
We’ve all got a guy in our lives who’s more at home chopping a cord of wood or filleting his latest fly fishing catch than spending the day lazing in front of the TV or playing Halo with the bros. He’d wear flannel and hiking boots to board meetings if he could. For that ultimate outdoorsman on your gift list this year, forego the REI gift card and DVD set of Duck Dynasty. Whether he spends his time hunting big game, scouring the river for the best brook trout lies, or just enjoys living in front of a campfire instead of a laptop, we’ve got the best gifts for the modern day backwoodsman.
Quick Draw Specialist
A knife is a knife is a knife, right? To the unprepared, yes. But you can’t just pick one up from the local flea market and expect it to hold up when you need it most. In any instance, a knife is only helpful if it’s at the ready, but how often do you have both hands free during a one-man project? This is where the SOG Flashback ($100) shines. It’s widely known as the fastest assisted-opening blade on the market today and is also solidly constructed, handsome and impressively durable.
Initiate Ghost Protocol
In 2010, the crew of the latest Mission: Impossible movie called Charles Cole, Five Ten’s president, with one simple question: could he design a shoe that could climb up a glass wall? Cole and his team went to work on their Stealth C4 rubber, rebuilding it stickier than ever. The result? Rubber that is viscous enough to gain purchase on glass (just watch Tom Cruise use it in Mission: Impossible), while maintaining the durability to do battle with even the sharpest rock faces. We got a look at Five Ten’s Team VXi and Freerider VXi Element ($125), two groundbreaking pieces of footwear.
Reality is looking pretty good
Most of the snowboarding industry’s technology slowly creeps forward with marginal improvements: things get better, but not way better. This year K2 dropped something that falls squarely into the way better category: their Ultra Dream Snowboard ($550), a cunning combination of the brand’s recent technological advances.
Home away from home
A tent can be your portable backcountry palace or can just as easily feel like a nylon coffin with a view. Unless you’re looking to shell out a few thousand dollars to set up a basecamp in the Himalayas, the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 ($550) is your best bet for logging serious miles and catching serious Zs during your down time.
Alone in the Produce Aisle
Trying to get in shape? Most fitness gurus agree that unless you change your diet, you’re wasting your workouts. But fear not — we’ve got your back. In addition to finding you this inspirational video, we’ve put together a handy index of fruit nutrition, largely based on our experience at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. Why fruit? Unlike most supposedly “healthy” snacks, fresh fruits are digested easily and provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they deliver their sugars (i.e., energy) with a healthy dose of fiber, allowing you to digest glucose without the usual insulin spike and subsequent crash. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re delicious.
Fence, Swim, Jump, Shoot and Run
Think that vegans don’t get the protein needed to really compete? Think again. Justin Torrellas, a raw vegan athlete, spent the past year at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, training for the 2016 Olympics in the modern pentathlon. We caught up with the former bassoonist to talk about children’s books, positivity, and the value of short shorts.
Exploring a Fruit-Focused Diet
Over the course of four days, I ate little else but fruit. Such is the life of a fruitarian. If you’ve heard of the fruitarians, it’s probably because of their most famous devotee, Steve Jobs, who named the Macintosh computer after his favorite fruit — or it might be in connection with the paleo diet, which advocates eating only what our cave-dwelling ancestors could have procured. If you haven’t, let me fill you in: the fruitarians eat fruit. Lots of it. At the Woodstock Fruit Festival, where 562 fruitarians gathered for a weeklong conference on health, exercise and raw food, the average diet consists of around 80% fruit.
Everything Else is Slow R
You don’t have to be a genius to understand that there are trade-offs in life, a fact that applies to products as well. The spork notwithstanding, hybrid products typically appeal to a broader swath of the population in exchange for being less desirable to enthusiasts in either of the original disciplines. The Adidas Terrex Fast R GTX hiking shoe ($180) stands out for being both nimble and rugged; it’s not a compromise, but an elevation above and beyond what exists in the lightweight hiker category.
The Only Skis You Need
We first heard about Utah ski brand DPS from a few locals after poaching some storm day powder lines at Snowbird Ski Resort a couple of seasons ago. Over a few apres ski beers in the lodge they spoke in hushed tones of ultralight carbon fiber skis that a few of the pros were using to rip steeper lines and push faster speeds than ever before. Turns out, if you’re hunting for the best ski of 2013, adding to your growing quiver, or even downsizing to a “one ski fits all”, there just isn’t a ski that handles the entire mountain like the Wailer 112RP ($1,249).
For truly superior training effectiveness on the bike, you need to unleash your full power. That means monitoring power output under real-world conditions, and for that there’s no than the Garmin Vector ($1,700). With an unparalleled ease of installation and compatibility with any ANT+ head unit, the Vector gives you accurate power output at the pedal that’s easily swapped between your road and tri bikes. But remember, only use your power for good — like crushing the competition.
Until now, our experience with origami was limited to bar tricks and entertaining children — and we’ll be damned if turning a napkin into a swan isn’t a crowd pleaser. But what if you could apply the principles of the Japanese art of paper folding to a piece of high-performance outdoor equipment that typically weighs upwards of 50 pounds and requires a roof rack to transport? You’d have the Oru Kayak ($1,095), a foldable 12-foot boat made in the U.S.A. from a single sheet of double-layered plastic that folds down into a 33 x 29 x 10-inch case.
No Trail? No Problem
Somewhere between short day hikes in Yellowstone and forays above the tree line to bag a couple of Colorado 14ers last year, you probably realized your trail runners or light hiking shoes just don’t cut it on off-trail, gnarly terrain. Technical approach shoes blend everything you like about your trail-running shoes — ankle support, beefy soles, light weight — with the sticky rubber and technical details of a climbing shoe or heavier boot. If you’re going to spend a few hours tackling slot canyons in red rock country or slogging long miles to your favorite local peak — or even if you just want a little extra support to stick on the mountain, these approach shoes will keep you on the trail.
Part I of III in The Mountain Series
The rotor wash from a Bell 212 helicopter is startlingly strong. Though I was getting used to the pick up and drop off routine — kneel, huddle together, cover your face — every time the helicopter landed I was nearly blown off my feet. Peering out the side window as we lifted straight up from a postage-stamp-sized rock atop a peak called “Kickoff”, I noticed that getting blown over here would have meant a very long fall. Note to self: don’t be the guy at the back of the huddle.
Helicopter travel is addictive. Though it’s loud and uncomfortable, it’s the swiftest and most scenic way to get from Point A to Point B in the mountains. There’s also a certain Green Beret appeal to being whisked off a remote peak by a Huey. Purist hikers and climbers may call it cheating (I used to be one of them), but reserve judgment until you’ve hiked for five hours and 5,000 vertical feet in some of the wildest backcountry in the world and can get back to the lodge in ten minutes for a beer by a crackling fire. I came to this newfound appreciation after a week of up and down in the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia.
What's old is new
Retro gear is retro for a reason: modern outdoor gear design performs better than its forebears in almost all respects. But we still have a soft spot for the leather, wool, canvas alpine designs of the 1950s and ‘60s — you know, before things got all sleek and neon. After seeing two Gear Patrol favorite brands, Topo Designs and Howler Brothers, collaborate to design a classic climbing pack, the Klettersack ($189), we decided to go all Reinhold Messner and take it to the mountains to see how a retro style pack works in the environment that inspired it.
Trout and Eternal Salvation
The Scott Radian ($795) is the rod for the fly fisher in pursuit of two seemingly averse characteristics: power and finesse. This is definitely a gun, firing out 50 feet of line and more on demand; there’s plenty of power to cut through wind and shoot line. But the Radian also has the delicacy required to make short casts of 15 to 25 feet and not spook fish. On the water, the result of all this high-brow build quality is throwing a fly with pinpoint accuracy at distances many only dream about.
The log, upgraded
When you’re heading off the grid, a proper chair usually ranks pretty low on the list of gotta haves. Still, even the most hardened of campers can appreciate supportive seating when the fire is roaring and the back is aching from a seven-mile portage. Weighing in at less than your Nalgene (32oz), and fitting into a Dopp Kit-sized pouch, the Helinox Chair One ($90) is the latest innovation for cranky campers looking for a place to rest.
Bird of Prey
For professional cyclists, cost is no deterrent to ensuring they fly the latest and greatest ride with the best components. The race-worthy Kestrel Legend SL ($6450) delivers that same five-figure ride without the five-figure price tag. With a carbon fiber frame that’s stiff where you want it for responsiveness and compliant for maximum comfort over long miles and a Dura Ace Di2 gruppo for topflight componentry, this is a ride that won’t hold you back. Now, you just have to do as Signor Coppi advises, “Ride the bike.”
Drink it all in
Stagnant pools and sludgy streams are bacterial hotbeds that, when sipped from, can quickly turn the manliest of men into a quivering disaster. The Vapur MicroFilter ($53) employs hollow fiber technology to filter water through 0.2-micron openings working instantly to eliminate Salmonella, E. Coli and Cholera as well as the pesky protozoa behind Giardiasis and Crypto, resulting in a 99% pure mouthful of water. Now that’s refreshing.
There are basically two schools of thought when assembling a kit for an ultramarathon: comprehensive preparation and more weight, or as minimalist as possible. For first-time ultra-distance runners, the decision can be a little confounding. You want to be very prepared and very light. This setup for the Vermont 50 — a trail run — reflects a good balance of preparedness and weight, with a bias toward the former in the choice of a hydration pack.
It doesn’t take a degree in developmental psychology to know that guys have an enduring attachment to backpacks. Messenger bags, tote bags, duffels — all great, but backpacks are hands-free, versatile and have more sophisticated storage options for gear and the lunch mom packed…or whatever. Faced with a quick international trip or a tough physical challenge, we’ve usually got a backpack in tow, and at the 20th anniversary of the Vermont 50 ultarmarathon, we leaned on the Geigerrig Rig 500 ($130) for our hydration and storage needs during an all-day run.
Late-blooming triathlon athlete
In 1997, Chris Lieto saw the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship on TV and decided to start training. Three years later, he became a professional triathlete. We caught up with the one-time mortgage broker to talk about technology, charity, and eating a healthy diet.
The antithesis of the treadmill
After a long day stuck in the office or boardroom, sometimes pounding pavement just doesn’t cut it. The right shoes make the difference between enjoying the boulder field at 10,000 feet and calling it a day at the first stream crossing. Whether you’re training for the Sky Running Race of Champions or just looking to trade your tried and true 5k evening run in for some time on gravel and dirt, GP’s testers have a shoe for every off-road run.
At age 12, Anton Krupicka ran his first marathon. He’s been running ever since. We caught up with the minimalist ultra-marathoner to talk sweet potatoes, Don DeLillo, and his degree in Physics.
In the marathon origin story, Pheidippides runs from Marathon to Athens to deliver a message of victory and then promptly dies. We’ve come a long way since 490 BC, and today most people run marathons to compete, challenge themselves physically or raise money for charity — and they rarely kick the bucket at the end. But they’re sometimes in a world of hurt, because running 26.2 miles is a feat, and doing it can be taxing on the body.
But with the right training anyone can do it. Looking to join the club? We’ve got some tips, tricks and advice from experts to get you most of the way there. You’ve still got to run the damn thing.
Neither rain nor sleet nor snow...
If we had it our way, every run would start and finish in perfect weather. But Mother Nature’s idea of perfect isn’t always a picturesque sunset or a sunny beach. For those of us not living in a running commercial, sometimes the long-mileage day may start with a thunderstorm or a few inches of snow. Whether you’re just heading around the block a few times, working on your interval training or putting in a marathon, we’ve found the best running jackets for soldiering through the tough stuff.