The Elliptigo experience

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A serious cross-training tool if you can fit it into your schedule

“Whether you are injured, looking to cross-train or just add more training with less pounding – this green beast could help you out.”

ELLIPTIGO?
Never heard of Elliptigo? Well in a nutshell picture an elliptical type cross-training machine you’d find at the gym that you can ride around like a bike. Interested already? Yep, very cool idea and especially for runners. The Elliptigo mimics the running stride very closely and the stride length can be adjusted (unlike many gym machines).

I saw an Elliptigo for the first time when my east coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia) friend (Elliptigo Luke) started posting pics and video of himself striding around Halifax in one. I was intrigued by the idea then (a few years ago).

When I found there was an opportunity to try, test and review a machine with Elliptigo Canada and former elite runner Mike Dyon (3-time winner of Ottawa marathon) I jumped. I soon found a big box at my door.

MEB
In 2013 US elite runner Meb Keflezighi joined a group of elite runners who were set to incorporate the Elliptigo into their training. Being familiar with injury and trying to seriously prepare for the 2014 Boston marathon – Meb used the Elliptigo to train. In April 2014, Meb won the famous Boston marathon. The buzz about the Elliptigo got louder.

I Canada I found out that Sheila Reid a young up and coming Canadian runner was spinning around and trying out an Elliptigo as well. From her tweets – she was enjoying it!

  • Hotdogging for the crowd on my steed. The ElliptiGO has been an awesome cross-training tool for me.
  • Subway floods throwing a wrench in your commute? I’m blowing by stations on my @elliptigo like it ain’t a thang.
  • Loving the combination of funny/ confused/ curious looks I’m getting on the ElliptiGO.

I had a chance to ask Sheila a few questions about her experiences and how she incorporated the Elliptigo into her training. Here are her answers:

Who would you recommend the Elliptigo to?

“I would recommend the ElliptiGO to any athlete who is injured as it’s the most efficient cross-training I’ve ever done. I would also recommend it to anyone who has ever been injured or is injury-prone as supplemental training in place of running. It’s the best way to get your heart rate up without the impact.”
How have you incorporated the Elliptigo into your training?
“As I recovered from injury I was using it as my main cardio workout. After I was cleared to run, I started to use the ElliptiGO for my second “run” of the day to stay healthy.”

MY THOUGHTS

I will let each of you who read this check all the specific details on the options and specs of the Elliptigo – there is lots of information on their website. My Elliptigo was green, had 8 gears and took only a few minutes to assemble. It seemed even less complicated than a bike.

I found the Elliptigo relatively easy to master and was up and moving around quickly. Shorts, sneakers and a bike helmet and I was off. I had bike paths close to home and was off trying out the green machine.

The workout felt easier than running, somewhat like working out on an elliptical machine at the gym and a bit more difficult than biking. The ride is smooth, it is easy to turn and the 8 gears on the version I had gave me some options for hills and getting a good rhythm. After a few rides I found I could get the Elliptigo up to close to bike speeds (20-25+ km/hr) without too much of an effort and could pass slower bikers (usually turned their heads too).

What you will notice when first starting is unlike a bike, when tired or want to relax a bit, you cannot relax on your seat…..no seat.

The workout is a good one and the legs feel it but without being beat up and the arms too are worked out as you rock the Elliptigo a bit when riding.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

I would recommend this to someone who wants to add miles, cross-train or avoid injury/deal with one. You should have space to store it (larger in length than a bike) and place it in easy spot to access and get out.

You will need time to get used to (easy to master) but more in terms of how to get good workout and glide along – I found even after a good number of rides I was still not 100% comfortable but got up to a few 30-40km rides.

Variety is the spice of life and the Elliptigo may very well work for you. Look at your budget (price of good road bike), schedule, your routine, the storage space you have and what you want to use it for.

Run on my friends!

My shoe obsession and random gibberish

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“Running is a simple sport, but most of us at minimum need something on their feet.”

I have been running for almost 28 years and have run in almost every brand out there except for a new newer brands that have popped up into the running world in the last few years. My feet first ran in high-top basketball shoes, then were slid into some low-cost Reebok trainers bought by my parents. There were Nike Air Max, Saucony Vangs, some Adidas for a while and trips in and out of many others. During a brief period I had a love affair with the New Balance 1023 – a great solid training shoe that I pounded miles into.

My current footwear fetish and running shoe love affair is with the New Balance RC1400. The shoe pictured is my favourite colour scheme of the many that the shoe comes in. I use this shoe to not only train in but to race.

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Racing a 5k in my trusty NB1400 training and racing shoe.

REVIEW

This shoe has a snug but not tight fit with adequate toebox room without being too roomy or cramping my baby toes. The shoe is geared to be a racing comp (RC) – meaning most people will choose to use to race in as it is extremely light. It has no real structures to make it extra stable and no posting but is not overly flexible (wet-noodle like).

The midsole feels cushioned but does not feel too soft or too hard and rubbery (like midsole of some older Adidas Bostons). The shoe could almost be classified as a minimal shoe and has minor drop but not worth mentioning as – you feel close tot he ground but don’t feel like you are in a flat shoe.

The shoe is light, comfortable and well cushioned and you can get a surprising number of training miles out of it. When marathon training and doing 160km weeks I could get 500+km out of this shoe and kept old ones to walk in or for really short easy runs after.

RECOMENDATIONS

This shoe is for someone who wants a light fast race shoe, or who is light and efficient and looking for a great feeling shoe he can train and race in.

Recommend wearing shoe with insole from NB for first little while and then getting gel or other cushioned insole after that helps on long runs and to squeeze more miles out of this shoe.

*Sister NB RC shoe the NB RC1600 is similar but has a different feel and has less responsiveness and feels more like a true race-only shoe.

Right now truly in love with this shoe – maybe if some NB guy reads this they will be inspired to stitch my name to a pair and send a custom version—–maybe the Pain(e) model…..or maybe a truck-load for my loyalty and promotion……hey one can dream!

Keep your feet happy with what works for you and see you out on the roads my friends!

 

GIBBERISH

Just means I am going to jabber for a few lines about me. Still running but trying to figure out how to mend some hip flexor and groin area aggravations. All major races and marathons canceled until I can run discomfort free. Sometimes things are so bad for me- that I sneeze and it hurts. Not out-but not racing! Keep on running!

*Great deal of respect for the New Balance company-with their multiple width and with experienced Tech reps who always seem interested in runner feedback – I am glad my feet currently like them.

 

One you’ve not heard of- Great Read

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From First to Last -by Charlie Spedding “A great read from a British Olympic marathon bronze medalist.”

I am always on the look out for books on running. I am a voracious reader and will read almost anything but books about my passion of running – well I love (and my bookshelf can prove it).

I wandered through a local bookstore the other day and noticed a single book I had not seen the title of before in the running section. I flipped it over and did not recognize the title or the author’s name. I was intrigued.

From Last to First

The book is about a British runner that if you are from Canada or the US you have probably not heard of – but he won an Olympic bronze medal in Los Angeles in 1984 and was an elite-level runner. he ran at a time (1980-1990) when it seemed there were hordes of runners running at the elite level and names like Carlo Lopes, Steve Jones and others floated around. Even at the local level where I came from there were a lot of fast runners at the front of the pack of races in this time period.

The book is a soft cover, easy to read and is written honestly and gives the reader some insight into mindset and what it took someone to medal at the Olympics. It also makes you realize how human some of our running heroes are. this is especially true with this book as the author seems to consider himself as one of the “others” and still almost seems surprised he was able to win an Olympic medal.

Charlie Spedding

Charlie Spedding is the author and I will not give away too much but will link to his website and some information about him. The book tells more and even goes into some detail about his preparation/traininig for the Olympics. Charlie is still the English marathon record holder.

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  United Kingdom
1984 Houston Marathon Houston, United States 1st Marathon 2:11:54
London Marathon London, United Kingdom 1st Marathon 2:09:57
Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 3rd Marathon 2:09:58
1985 London Marathon London, United Kingdom 2nd Marathon 2:08:33
1986 Chicago Marathon Chicago, United States 3rd Marathon 2:10:13
1987 London Marathon London, United Kingdom 8th Marathon 2:10:32
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 6th Marathon 2:12:19

One of the things I really liked about this book was seeing the mental strategy Spedding used. He focused on being positive and focusing on getting the maximum he could out of his potential and training – focusing on his plan and abilities and not so much worrying about what everyone else was doing. Still good advice today.

This is a great read for this preparing for a fall marathon and any runner.

See you on the roads or in the blogosphere.

Cheers friends!

 

*For Canadians find the book at Chapters.

Wrist Watcher – review of the Polar Loop

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 “Running in cotton t-shirts with old school runners without a watch is just fine. But I also like knowing my pace and distance, not having my nipples rubbed raw after each run. Technology can make running easier and comfortable.”

A thin plastic loop that I can wear and link to my HR monitor that tells me the number of steps I take, the calories I burn, the number and quality of my sleep and can tell me about my workouts….very cool.

I had been watching the conversations and ads on the internet and social media about the new fitness trackers and was intrigued. These new gadgets seemed to offer a new fun bit of technology to runners and those who are active, and provide some unique information the other gadgets were not.

I have used a Garmin GPS running watch, I have used regular Timex running watches, have used online training programs like Vicsystem and enjoyed all the cool information theses tools give me to help my running. Since I currently run with a Polar RC3 GPS running watch and have a Polar HR monitor strap—I gave Polar a shout and said I was looking to find out what all the hype was about. They had a product called the Polar loop.

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The loop

Easy explanation of a Polar loop: thin plastic wristband that has a small readout that can show you the time, calories you’ve burned that day, steps you have taken, your activity level (based on a goal) and activity needed to reach your goal. The loop requires recharging about every 3-4 days (comes with USB cord) and you can use a app (Polar Flow) on your laptop or your mobile device.

It is quite simple and straps on easily and a pair of scissors and a small tool that comes with it let you set the strap to the size of your wrist.

Oh and you wear it all the time…even when sleeping. Well this is your option, but I did to check out the information it would give me about my sleep.

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Polar Flow app

This is where you really get to see more details, more information than the readout on your Polar loop wristband can show. This app (I preferred app on my cell phone) would synch with my loop and give me a readout for each day. I was quite surprised with the information I got. The loop was able to show me how active I was, when and what type of activity I had done. I also saw the calories burned, steps taken (and estimated distance walked/run) and loved how it could show me how much restful and restless sleep I had. I was quite impressed.

The loop also links to a polar HR monitor if you have one and I tried but was unsuccessful in getting this to work but there are options for this. This would generate even more information to help you train.

Summary

I found the loop easy to figure out. Easy to adjust and easy to get started. The loop gave me new and different information than I was getting from anything else I was using. A great fitness tracking tool that has info on steps, calories, activity level and type, sleep quantity and quality and can be used in conjunction with a HR strap. I would highly recommend downloading the app to your mobile device.

I found the loop did not replace my running watch or running GPS watch but ended up wearing loop on my right wrist. I did not feel overloaded with gadgets and the loop is light.

Recommendation

This is a great tool that will add information to anyone’s healthy, active lifestyle. The information you get back is different.

  • Beginners and people looking to get fit. HIGHLY recommend. Lots of fun and you can really see your activity levels and can be used to chase a goal.
  • Occasional and recreational runners – think you will like this and it could even replace a running watch if you do not need distance (can always use runningmap.com) and pace and are not regularly running intervals or workouts. If you are more concerned about calories, steps and being active—–this will work!
  • Hard core, information hungry higher mileage runners – great tool you can wear on your other wrist to enhance the information you already get from other devices. For the price and information I found I got from the loop-worth it, even if it did not do EVERYTHING and I still needed my running watch.

Technology can be fun. Don’t let it own you but use what you get with it to reach your goals. Unload all the straps and gear once and a while for an un-hindered.

Run on my friends.

 

How to avoid pooping in your shorts and set a PB

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“Running is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Seems simple but for any PB&J connoisseur it can be tricky and full of runny jam and dry bread or be a masterpiece.” 

If you can’t tell I just made that quote up. But running is simple in a sense but all us runners seem to make the same mistakes and errors over and over again. For anyone smart enough to get past the title of this blog….here are a few good things to do and a bunch of bad things to avoid (all from 27 years of experience).

DON’T

  • Don’t use high-top basketball sneakers to run – done and…don’t. Young and stupid.
  • Don’t try out your new track spikes in a race – trust me your Achilles will thank you.
  • Don’t go out at 300mph for first mile of any race….you’ll pay. If young have fun going out hard but try and hold back a wee bit so you can drag your buns home.
  • Bring toilet paper to races – port a potty lines can be long and bushes are free!
  • Try to make your own home-made orthotics—-see a pedorthist!
  • Don’t try and be retro or thrifty with running gear, go technical much more comfortable!
  • Don’t make the mistakes others have if you can learn to train and avoid.

TO DO

  • Get some advice when you buy your first pair of running shoes
  • Do everything gradual and do less than you think you can at first
  • Stretch a little bit despite all the conflicting theories and gurus
  • Make water your friend
  • Avoid cotton like the plague
  • Buy shares in body glide and apply to any body part
  • Have fun with GPS watches and gadgets but don’t be a dork or over-obsessed
  • Stop to breathe in the fresh on runs sometimes
  • Have a poop in the woods on a trail run…now you’re experienced and prepared!
  • Look for new places to run, its not all about the exact distance or pace
  • Try chocolate milk after run, cold, fun and good for you.
  • To set a PB, start gradually, train hard, rest well, be consistent and follow a plan but be flexible.
  • Be patient.
  • Enjoy your running and soak in your experiences

Run on my friends!

Back from the woods – thinking on running and stress

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“Sometimes I forget the stress and strain of things, and only understand the benefit of rest….when I take it.”

Hardly ran at all! Yep, crazy, obsessed runner and blogger who is always talking and tweeting about running took a break!

I spent the last week holed up in a quiet Quebec chalet. There was one nice day and the rest were cool and rainy. I got one run in but the others were spent reading, watching movies and relaxing in a rustic simple spot overlooking a nice lake with the fire going. I rested, ate and did what I felt like. Hardly did much of anything and can’t remember stretching. Yep—probably did not help my running, definitely did not help my wobbly hips, BUT it did help my mind.

I run, write, blog, tweet, hold down a full-time job and over the last few months was organizing, planning and working to put together my own small wedding. Stress. There is always someone with worse stress, more stress etc., but we all have some level in our lives. I was happy to have a quiet week to unwind.

Reminder

When the news came of Robin Williams’ death and his battle with depression it hit home again. We all need time and space to relax, decompress and work on our mental health. Never forget that running, training and pushing…..needs to be balanced with a healthy strong mind. Like running, the mind benefits from rest.

Canadian Clara Hughes just rode across Canada to raise awareness about mental health – whether its a mental illness, or simply stress – take the time and don’t be afraid to talk to others – or get help.

My running is not going all that well but back home and back to running, stretching, squats and now using a Polar loop to see how active I am (plan to see if I can get it to freak out w number I steps etc. I can generate with my wobbly ole body).

Never hesitate to stop, rest, unwind and relax. It may even help your running!

Run on my friends!

Ways I try and unwind

  • A walk and deep breaths and letting the busyness of life drift away for a moment
  • Meditate when I can
  • A quiet trail run on my own – fresh air and nature
  • Take a mental health day from work when you need it—-better than a week off due to stress-induced illness!
  • Just do something fun and relaxed with a friend or loved one
  • Talk to a family member or friend
  • Running (if it is not the thing causing me stress)

Resources

Canadian Mental Health Association

List of mental health resources

Articles

Mental health benefits of exercise

Mental health tips

Stress and running

 

 

 

Energybits – lookin at the green bits of energy

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“Running is a continual learning process, where there always seems room to improve on form, strength, speed and to look for food or products to help out.”

This blog is about a product called Energybits -small green tablets that are supposed to be a super food and help runners and others take in good stuff for the body and provide energy. Their website describes them as, “… tiny algae tabs so nutritionally dense, they eliminate fatigue and hunger instantly. Want a healthy, natural way to fuel your game or fire up your brain? NO caffeine, sugar, chemicals, gluten or soy, just pure, plant based nutrition, all for just ONE calorie per tab.”

I am always trying to eat healthy and properly fuel my incessant running. I got hold of the company and they sent me out some information and a small tin of their green tabs to try out.

IMAG0044So what are Energybits?

They are tic tac sized green tabs of pressed algae that are high in protein and other nutrients and about 1 calorie a tab.

(Health benefits)

What’s in them?

The website and the information the company provided me was quite detailed but at times hard to figure out. The tabs contain lost of good in ingredients and are mostly protein but often hard to figure out the amount (grams) etc of certain components (almost too much detail).

After going through a few fact sheets and reading up online it was clear they were good for you but still unsure how much extra goodness I was adding to my skinny body with each suggested portion (30 tabs).

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Health claims:

  • Helps improve physical energy
  • Helps improve endurance
  • Helps reduce fatigue
  • Helps speed athletic recovery
  • Helps reduce brain fog
  • Helps build muscle
  • Helps improve mental focus
  • Helps reduce hunger
  • Provides natural nitric oxide
  • Provides a replacement for greens
  • Provides a replacement for  protein
  • Helps fight free radicals with high concentration of antioxidants
  • Helps balances body functions and is100% alkaline
  • Helps improve skin, hair, nails, bones and eye health
  • Helps improve mood
  • Healthy snack on the run
  • Raw food, great for vegans or those who hate greens
  • Safe nutrition for anyone of any age, from children to seniors

What to do with them?

You take them before a run, when getting up or going to bed if you want and they are supposed to help you with energy and to feel better. I put back three handfuls (servings) with some water (quite easy to swallow) and went out for a few runs. I had good runs after taking the tabs and had no intestinal issues (took about 20-30 minutes before to be safe).

I thought 30 tabs (30 calories) would be a lot or a lot to so swallow, but 30 small tabs do not take up much space in the palm of the hand and are easy to take with a small mouthful of water.

My thoughts

As I am eating a Powerbar for a snack, I look at the price of the Energybits and …whew..$115 for a bag of 1000 tabs. However when i do the math this works out to a decent price. It is about the price of a sports bar etc.

Christine, an online Ambassador and who uses Energybits commented that, ” I love the steady state of energy I get by taking them before each run. During my long runs (15-16 miles) I take another 30 in the middle. I also take RECOVERYbits at night for restoration and recovery.”

I find the little green tabs might be cool to try out but I would need more to see if they would have an affect. I think they at minimum would add some good nutrients to my diet. Being one who is hard to hypnotize, a skeptic until I see results or information – I will wait until a further conclusion – but further interested in checking out.

Run on my friends!

Articles and more information:

General information on algae

Sports nutrition

Health benefits