Mountaineer and ultra runner Ben Clark shares his tips on becoming a faster runner, whether your aim is a local 5k or, like him, 14,000-foot peaks over 100 miles.
Advice from My Second Time Around
Sequels tend to suck (Caddyshack II, I’m looking at you), and when they’ve got 26.2 miles of pavement in them, the suck-potential goes exponentially up. After my second marathon, I came up with some advice to my former self, who was still prepping for his first. You can listen in.
More Shoe, More to Love
Is “maximalist” the next big thing in running? There’s certainly a lot to love. GP puts rubber to the pavement to see how seven different options stack up.
Proving Big-Brand Isn't Bad
Under Armour takes its first shot at a race-weight running shoe with the Speedform Apollo. We took a pair for a spin to see how they stack up.
Light shoes, fast hikes
If you’re traveling light and fast in the mountains or just need something to walk the local trail system, you can skip a full-fledged hiking boot in favor of a hiking shoe. These are our five favorites.
Chasing Sun in the Southwest
Mountaineer and ultra runner Ben Clark shares photos from his single-day run across Zion National Park, also known as the Zion Traverse.
15 essentials for 26.2
While running is by nature a sport with minimal gear requirements, having a combination of the right soft goods plus some accoutrements for comfort can make the whole experience more enjoyable. Pick from this Kit and you’ll be furnished with everything you need to succeed — minus grit and determination. That’s on you.
Salomon's Running TV on the Western States 100
Salomon’s Running TV reaches back to the history of the 20th Annual Western States 100 in “The Original”. The year was 1974, and the Western States (also known as The Tevis Cup) was a 100-mile endurance horse ride in Placer County, CA. Colfax-native Gordy Ainsleigh had been competing for several years. “When my horse went lame in ’73, [race organizer] Drucilla invited me to do it the next year on foot”, he says. “I said, ‘well maybe’, and I was thinking: I’ll have a better horse by then. I didn’t get around to it, so in ’74, as the spring rolled on, I ran.”
Bottles that chill, filter and fold
Choosing a water bottle is like buying bar soap: you can penny-pinch and get a three-pack of Dial for two bones, or you can upgrade to Dr. Bronner’s and enjoy the marginal benefit of bathing in citrus oils every morning like a refined gentleman. Your old Nalgene Silo? Dial. Fortunately, the options for an upgrade are abundant, ranging from straightforward bottles for the gym to handheld bottles for marathon runners to double-walled glass vessels that could double as flower vases.
It's never too cold
It’s not like getting up for that pre-work run was easy during the summer or fall. Now it’s pitch black, relentlessly cold and the streets are covered with ice, snow and salt. But a brisk jog before sunrise is a one-way ticket to a fulfilling day, not to mention a long winter of staying fit despite a dining regimen of braised short ribs and mashed potatoes. The right gear will keep you warm, dry and, most importantly, stable when the ground beneath you isn’t.
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.
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.
Two marathons in the mountains
It was around around mile 23 of the Vermont 50 that I thought about the duck. I’d read in On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee that the common green-headed mallard stores as much as a third of its carcass weight in fat for fuel and insulation so it can fly continuously for hundreds of miles. As I sipped from the sports nutrition mix in my bottle, I thought of what could have been if only I had taken to heart the experience of migratory birds. I had eaten but one slice of apple pie after dinner the night before.
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.
Run Like You Mean It
Summer heat waves are on the edge of winding down, and that’s good news: you can run without your shoes melting to the road. If you’ve been stuck all summer plodding along on a treadmill in the gym or running in the predawn hours to avoid scorchers, now is a great time to reassess your aging kicks and consider an update. We could go on about minimal vs. conventional, the merits of cushioning and drop angles and tread patterns, or we could just find the best shoes of the year to help you with one thing: working on your fast. Our search for the best running shoes of the year yielded more than a few contenders, and unless you plan on leaving them in your closet to collect dust, there’s not a single shoe here that won’t help you get to the front of the pack.
Lace up, own up
I recently sat in on a self-improvement lecture about the importance of changing our ways of thinking in order to improve life. The speaker quoted Einstein (or paraphrased, since there are multiple versions of this quote): “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”. He was encouraging a particular way of thinking, one that emphasized taking personal responsibility for what happens in our lives. This got me thinking about running, and the way we’re reconsidering our fundamental ideas about the sport.
Get more pep from your step
In the age of smartphones and tablets, sports companies have scrambled to embrace technology as a new vehicle for pushing the limits of athletic performance. Even so, the Adidas Boost Running Shoe ($150) hopes to prove that re-thinking existing footwear construction still offers plenty of game-changing potential. Its padding stores and unleashes energy more efficiently than existing material.
Minimalist footwear, meet winter weather
Vibram’s middle-of-the-road FiveFingers minimalist footwear works well for runners in moderate environments, but if you’ve still got cold feet about running “barefoot”, you’re not alone: those who lodge in colder climes are justifiably apprehensive about taking to the streets with only thin rubber separating feet from frigid elements. The Lontra ($150) answers our wintry wishes…
Grow a Pear
The holidays are here again. Time for family, friends and wondering what to do when Grandma pulls that five-stick-o-butter apple pie hot and fresh from the oven. Finding ourselves wedged between the gorging holidays with New Year’s resolutions right around the corner, we’ve all hopefully considered some version of an exercise regimen. Personal trainers, however,…
Don't sweat it
Hot, humid conditions sap intensity and endurance precisely during those moments where your will to push on weakens. Polyester and other “breathable” fabrics passively wick away moisture to keep you from boiling over, but Columbia Omni-Freeze ZERO goes a step further by producing a cooling sensation when exposed to sweat and moisture. It’s made possible…
Nike likes its innovations. Case in point, the DWR Chambray Vapour Jacket (~$80). Performance-oriented runners with a penchant for a stylish fit in particular will want to pay attention. Originally designed as a lightweight, wind, and water-resistant outerwear, this contemporary incarnation bridges the gap between casual and sportswear, serving as either a swank, lightweight jacket,…
Whether you’re a seasoned runner or just looking for some new casual kicks for the summer, the Nike Rosche Run has you covered. They’re lightweight and breathable for logging those warm weather miles, but cushioned and protective to keep you straight and sturdy — equally important for pounding the pavement or kicking back a few…
Lighter than feathers
In big news for minimalist footwear fans, Nike unveiled its new Flyknit technology at yesterday’s Nike Innovation Summit. Nike’s Flyknit shoes are precisely engineered to be formfitting, featherweight and void of any excess material. The single-layer upper support and tongue weigh an absurdly light 1.2 ounces, and the whole shoe clocks in at a mere…
Your Life on Your Wrist
If you’re a runner, cyclist, hiker or skier, you (hopefully) know how important it is to carry emergency contact and medical information. It’s also a good idea to carry some money in case you bank far from home or just if you want to get a mid-ride ice cream. The problem is, where do you…
Barefoot Running, Demystified
GEAR PATROL SPONSORED POST In the last two years they’ve exploded onto the fitness scene. You’ve probably noticed them around town, at your local 10k, and running lightly on the treadmill at your gym. Who are “they”? They’re “barefoot” runners. This rapidly growing segment of running is pushing the boundaries on decades of accepted running …
Look Out Nike Plus
We love a good mechanical watch, but when it comes to workouts, our obsession with analog craftsmanship takes a backseat to functionality. The Beat Workout Watch ($TBD) checks all the boxes of the ultimate exercise companion. Pairing a shoe based sensor with a chest strap heart rate monitor and a 16GB portable music player isn’t…
Does everything for you but run
If you do any amount of running year-round, unless you live in milder climates or you choose to don your Gore-Tex lined Yeti running costume, the winter pushes you indoors and onto a treadmill to perform Hamster 2.0. ProForm aims to make this part of your fitness routine a more enjoyable experience with their Trailrunner…