Champion?

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“Runners are not all that picky but like clothing and gear that is common sense and makes the act of running easier and comfortable.”

There are lots of gadgets, gear, apps and information for runners now. It is no longer a sport of just shorts, t-shirt and shoes, it can be, but there are so many things that can add or subtract from your running – that you can now buy.

Champion

Champion is the athletic clothing company you have seen around for years but may not think of when you think running gear. Founded in 1919 this company has been around for a long time and brought out the Jogbra in the 1970s and considers themselves experts in sports bras for women. When the chance to check out some their running gear….I said why not!

I am not a picky runner, but have been running for over 27-years and like to be honest and simple with reviews and comments.

Here is what I had the chance to try out:

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Champion PerforMax Men’s Running Tight

The Champion tights are all black with small Champion reflective logo and used what they call Vapor technology – dries faster the more your body heat rises.

The tights have drawstring, smooth seams but no key pocket at waist and no zippers at ankles. Despite no zippers the tights were easy to get on and comfortable.

REVIEW

Very comfortable tight, simple black but lacked key pocket (although you could tie keys into drawstring if needed). I picked the right size for me and were snug not tight and no chafing anywhere.

RECOMMEND

Mid-level warmth for Canadian spring and fall and maybe cold summer mornings. Recommend for runners looking for basic functional running tight with no stripes or fancy designs.

*Champion if you add a small key/card pocket near front of waist would add to appeal.

**I tried around the house and first run was a cold mid-November run with snow and ice on ground and air temperature with wind chill was near -10C. Legs were a bit chilly but was doable.

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Powertrain Tech Fleece full zip

The colour I got was not what I was expecting but colour (maroon) is not function. The zip was I thought a bit big for a medium and looked boxy but looked warm.

The fleece has 2 zippered pockets and inner spaces, small logo on chest, minimal smooth seams and medium weight.

REVIEW

The jacket/zip is a bit roomy and square cut for me and there is no way to cinch things in at the bottom. The material is nice and kept me warm under light wind-breaking jacket on cold windy day. Zip did seem a bit heavy with sweat after run but may have been as was a bit baggy on me.

RECOMMEND

Not a bad choice under a jacket or for stockier built runner. Some may find fit loose and would recommend another Champion zip, the Champion PerforMax Men’s Stretch Fleece Jacket. The other option has reflective piping, looks snugger and has thumb-holes (I like these). Both would be good choice as main layer in spring and fall or under jacket when it gets colder.

Performax® Short

This I have tried on but will be updating blog shortly after more thorough testing with a few gym workouts.

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Champion website

After many years of running and starting when there were not that many clothing options – priority is comfort, chafe free gear that fits well and meets the individual runner’s requirements.

The Champion gear I tested is good quality and could be reasonably priced option for many runners. I am hoping that some of the other products I mentioned are available in Canada (ie. zip with thumb holes).

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Tailwind and trying times

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“Adversity builds character or something like that. I’d trade in some of that for hips that worked – but still alive and kicking!”

ME (Wobbly ole bastard)

Been a while since I have given an update on how I am doing. I am still running. I finally saw someone who gave me some solid information on what has been causing me hip/pelvis discomfort. Apparently more than just hip flexor issues I need to actually strengthen specific hip flexors significantly and work on my glutes as well. Summary is that i probably had these weak spots before and that 100-mile weeks and brutal workouts were what caused all the alarms to go off.

So I have been running but not as much and looking to slowly build back up towards a fall 2015 marathon. But I am continuing to share runner’s stories and to do running related gear reviews.

So trying times – but I am still pounding the pavement and trails!

Tailwind Nutrition

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Found Tailwind Nutrition through some online friends and like what they had to say so I decided to get hold of some to check it out. The white powdered water soluble endurance drink comes in packets for single bottles, and in larger bags (normal and caffeinated version).

Why Jeff Tailwind started his company/product

Quick summary of Tailwind is that it was created by an ultra runner to solve some problems he’d had with fuel on liquids on his races.

He ended up creating a product that:

  • Replaces gels, bars and various fuels – one powdered drink
  • Is easily absorbed
  • Easier on the stomach
  • Great value

For more info and references

Mixability

The powder mixes easily and I found you could add water or powder first with no issues. You got no clumps or residue on bottom of bottle. Quick shake or stir and ready.

Flavour

regardless of flavour on package or bag there is not a lot of flavour. This will be bad for those used to uber sweet, strong drinks like Gatorade etc. But I liked the just-enough flavour. It reminded me a bit of flavour of Canadian company E-load‘s products. I liked the taste of Tailwind even better and tasted especially good when really cold.

Testing and review

I did a number of runs and a 50k walk/hike and used Tailwind before and after. I liked the taste and it really did seem to sit well with my stomach. I also liked the taste, that was not too strong or sweet.

This is more than just an electrolyte replacement drink, does not contain protein and I think is a great product to try. Especially recommend to anyone who does have stomach troubles with other products.

*I would also advise people to test out any fuel on training runs and short races before using for a marathon or longer. Everyone has a different stomach, legs etc. -not everything works for everyone.

Hoping to be back into big miles and out on the roads more often to see folks soon! If not close to me – see you in the blogosphere!

Run on!

You can also find tailwind on Twitter @gottailwind -Tell em Noel sent ya!

 

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Runner new to running makes up for it quickly!

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“If running were easy everyone would do it. Take pride in overcoming the difficulty and search out new challenges.”

We (who run) have taken up running for different reasons and at different times in our lives. I fell into running at a young age – it seemed to just be something that was in me and that calmed young tendencies towards anger and frustration.

This blog profile is of a Quebec runner who recently took up running in January of this year but soon found himself on a 105-km run! I met this runner through online, social media and was interested to know more about him and his running.

Pierre-Etienne Vachon
Pierre-Etienne is a 37-year old runner from Valcartier, a small town north of Quebec city. Although he lives in Quebec Pierre-Etienne says he has lived all over the world over the last 15 years. He is the youngest of three kids and says he has always been involved in the outdoors as soon as was able to walk.

Pierre-Etienne runs his own marketing strategy agency and also has a catering and international project management firm. Busy fellow – perfect type A personality to be a runner or an ultramarathoner!

Most runners slowly graduate from shorter races to longer ones after a number of years. But not all. Only starting to run at the end of January this year, Pierre-Etienne says he is a late bloomer.

“However I have been on more expeditions that I can count from mountaineering to climbing big walls, in deserts or down some whitewater. I would consider myself more of an adventurer than a runner. To me running is a mean to explore more ground in a shorter time span and in a lighter more enjoyable fashion too.”

As he has only been running for a short time and has not run in many organized races – the new runner does not have many official PBs but says he has run a solo 44km run and a hilly 10km trail run in about 40 minutes. Pierre-Etienne may be a new runner but he sounds like a fit one!

Gear for the adventure.

Gear for the adventure.

I asked Pierre-Etienne about his 105km run (La Traversee de Charlevoix )(One I had actually heard about online and would be interested to do one year).

Tell me about your run and why did you do it?
“Aside from personal goals I do these projects to raise some funds for the Quebec Suicide Prevention Center. “

“This trail is a very well know hiking trail in Quebec and the end is located about 15 mins away from the family cottage. Been hearing all about it (how hard technical and unpredictable it is) my entire life and is usually hiked in 7 days. So when I started running it rapidly became an objective to run it in one single push.”

“Aside from running 100km-135km weeks, the team and I started planning and preparing this adventure at the end of June. Just to find the access roads to reach to potential aid stations took days upon days of scouting. I also did all the sections of the 105km in advance before linking them all together last week. A lot of communications, equipment, team coordination strategy and risk management planning went into this project.”

“One of the most interesting elements of a large scale solo project to me is that it is actually a team effort. All the components and team members must work like clockwork in order to achieve the goal and unsure as safe of a passage as possible.”

The tough and beautiful terrain of the run.

The tough and beautiful terrain of the run.

On the run, with his dog Sputnik by his side, Pierre Etienne saw moose and bears, climbed mountains, descended valley, hiked through snow and for a portion of the run had to carry his dog who had injured himself. In the attempt to help his dog Pierre-Etienne also injured himself but carried on.

What was the hardest part of the run?
“Most definitely the part where I had to carry Sputnik (his dog) on my shoulders. Not only from a physical standpoint but also psychologically as it was casting a strong shadow on my chances of success.”

Pierre-Etienne completed his run with a total time of 21hrs some of it spent with his dog on his shoulders. He says he is still recovering and he has a sore hip that has yet to heal but says he is pretty satisfied overall. He is definitely a runner though and says he is currently looking at new adventures in northern Canada.

I love meeting new runners and hearing about their stories. It inspires and motivates me and I love sharing.

Run on my fellow Quebec and run on my friends!

Find out more about Pierre-Etienne and his adventures on his blog.

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I watch marathons not ball games or hockey

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“You know you are a runner when you will sit and watch ALL of a marathon.”

if you do what is stated above – you are probably like me – yep sorry, a full blown geeky runner. Not a bad thing.

So if you watch marathons (I just finished watching the Toronto Waterfront marathon the other weekend)(on YOUTUBE!) and looking for more.

*Some of you may have to switch up day of your long run or get up early and get run done before sitting down to watch.

New York City Marathon

Official website

How to watch

History of the race

News articles about 2014 event and those running

Article about Buzunesh Deba – will to return and run well after death of training partner.

Runner to knit as he runs NYC race

Meb – Boston winner looking for good run in NY

Overview of women’s race in NY

Deena Kastor could break US/WR marathon time in NY

Former US distance record holder Bob Kennedy to run NY marathon

My recommendation

  • Switch long run to Saturday
  • Prep TV and quiet spot and get healthy snacks and chocolate milk handy
  • Have towel ready for quick shower after Sun run
  • Easy early Sunday run
  • Sit and enjoy watching marathon
  • Foam roll n stretch as you watch

Run on my friends and have fun watching!

SHOUT OUT to Eric and JP who are both running!

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Chowin down on Clif bar

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“Good training, rest and proper fuel are key components to training for any foot race.”

Some say you are what you eat, others say going gluten-free is best, or vegan, or high protein, or low protein or all smoothie…..the list goes on. All I know is that eating in a healthy manner and providing healthy fuel and enough of it during marathon training is important.

I am not necessarily loyal to one food source or one type of endurance hydration or training fuel help (bars and gels) etc. but use what I like the taste of and what i can get my hands on. If I were sponsored or took the time to stock up all the time I might eat differently (unfortunately I do the best I can with the budget I have)*.

*Plus I think eating as natural as possible is best and that gels, powders and bars are the for enhancing and eating when you need a quick shot of the proper healthy/stuff.

Clifbar

Bars

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Although I have eaten many types of energy bars aimed at runners (Powerbar, Honeystinger, Vega etc.) I have always liked Clifbars. I find Clifbars are not always my favourite but are always reliable, tasty, have a good texture and easy to open. A reliable choice.

The original bar is great and my favourite of their bar products. This fall they sent me Pumpkin spice and Pecan pie (seasonal flavours) (GREAT)! My other favourite flavour is White chocolate macadamia (very tasty). The bar tastes like real food and is not a candy bar format (covered in chocolate).

Protein bars

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The protein bars I like less than the original bars. They are more candy bar like and less tasty and like many other option out there. But a good choice and product from Clif.

Clif shots and blocks

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The package of square shaped energy chews (Blocks) are tasty, easy to eat (not too chewy) and easy to take on a run. These I like!

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Clif shots – well I like the consistency of the gels but flavours are very individual. Everyone has a preference. Its all about what tastes going in (what you can stomach) and what you wouldn’t mind pukin up mid-race! I don’t mind the chocolate flavour but all my all-time favorite gel flavour is Gu‘s PB.

I like the commitment to making good tasting bars with organic ingredients and how they give back to the community and others.

Clif bar makes great products – check them out – but make sure to find something that works for you, your stomach and your training!

Run on friends!

*History of the company

An interesting Canadian company that makes tasty food bars is called Tho’z barz, may not be providing gels, chews or runner specific bars – but worth checking out!(eh)

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Caribou Legs

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“There is something spirit about running. When you are alone with your mind, your fears and thoughts plus the effort of putting one foot in front of the other – something happens.”

Addiction and drugs can snatch almost anyone from the safe, warm normalcy of life into the dark soul-draining life that drugs can create. Some have other factors in their lives that place them closer to the temptation of drugs and possible addiction.

As I wander amongst the Canadian running community, I get the chance to meet many new runners. I find and connect with so many people with amazing stories. One story leads to another, like each footstep leads to another. This is the story of a Canadian runner known as Caribou Legs who managed to tear the claws of addiction from his skin and keep them at bay by finding a love and a soulful connection with running.

Brad “Caribou Legs” Firth

Brad’s face is lean and like many marathoners and ultramaratoners. The miles have whittled away the fat from his frame. Thousands of footsteps have dried away the extra like smoking meat, rendering him to a wiry, muscled runner. But it was not always this way.

Brad spent 20 years on the violent back alleys and dark cold streets of Vancouver, (his words) as a hard core drug addict. The need, the unending itch that needs to be scratched quickly drew Brad into lying cheating and stealing, to feed the need.

“I became more vulnerable, weak, frustrated, desperate, hostile, afraid, hopeless, and extremely paranoid, suspicious, tense, anxious, and nervous from rigorously abusing crack cocaine. Eventually, I found myself in provincial jail, desperate for a change of lifestyle; with no options or solutions of resurrecting my spirit.”

“It is important we cultivate running into our children for generations to come. It is important we live to run and run to live!” – Caribou Legs

“It is important we cultivate running into our children for generations to come. It is important we live to run and run to live!” – Caribou Legs

How Brad became Caribou Legs

From online research and sources, the name Caribou seems to come from the Mi’kmaq word “xalibu,” meaning “the one who paws”. The well-know Canadian animal  is well adapted to its environment with long legs that help it move through snow. Many Aboriginal peoples have based their culture around the caribou.

Brad did not become “Caribou Legs” overnight. His legs were not ready for any running or ploughing through the snow at first. But there is always a beginning.

One thing led to another and one day Brad found himself in jail and wondering how to begin a new life. This is when Brad (who is of native ancestry) says an elder told him to start running.

So that’s what he did. As many new runners do, Brad started running every day and in his poetically he says he, “(I) …slowly broadened my horizons and stretched my legs into the North Shore mountains. That’s where I reclaimed my spirit! I felt useful, powerful and worthy. Running became my medicine, teacher, and best friend.”

Brad who was soon to become better known as “Caribou Legs” says he was soon running everywhere in Vancouver and surrounding area. Brad’s drawn into the world of ultra running (over the marathon distance) after he met an ultra runner named Benji Chu. Brad soon found he liked running long and soon he found himself running an 11-hour run to Whistler on the Sea to Sky highway. Brad was on his way to earning his future name.

With an appetite now for the big miles and mental challenge of the ultra run Brad was off for a 23-hour run when his running was interrupted by a truck going by. The truck clipped and shattered Brad’s elbow as it veered to close to him on the highway.

Brad said, “I was told by Benji that the hit n run was payback for all my wrongful decisions on the streets and that I had also incurred many karmic debts over the years. My Creator had spared my running because I was to share my running in a good way with society.”

After being released from hospital Caribou Legs was soon nursing himself back to running. Despite his love of running he says it took it took 6 months to get back on the highway.

With more than enough information and the desire to write an article as opposed to a blog, I still ask Caribou Legs a few questions.

What do you feel when running?

“I feel useful, purposeful, calm, relaxed, determined, focused, safe, spiritual, and confident and I feel cared for when I run, I feel that I’m allowed safe passage wherever I run. Running is my purpose, way of life. Running is my medicine. I have an obligation to serve running to my people as my message or testimony to inform them that it’s possible to transform oneself from addiction.”

Why do you keep running?

“I keep running because I love running!”

What would you tell other who have addictions about running?

“I would tell people with any addiction problems to pick up running as a form of dealing with stress and heartache!”

Today Caribou Legs is an ultra runner with a well-earned nick name, off the streets and at 44 years old says he hopes to run for another 40 years. He has run 750 km in a 10-day run, 1200 km 25-day run from Inuvik to Whitehorse, and a 3200 km 78-day run from Vancouver to Whitehorse. One of his proudest moments he says was qualifying for the Boston marathon (3:07 qualifying time) and running a 1:22 half marathon, placing 46th out of 3500 men.

Caribou Legs’ most recent ultra run from Vancouver to Whitehorse was to bring attention to the Peel watershed where he ran through the Rockies and averaged 65-75km a day. He describes himself as an ice road ultra runner one of the strongest long distance ultra runners in Canada

His passion and enthusiasm leaks from every word in his emails to me. He describes running as a vital activity and says it lends itself to therapeutic healing.

“Running each day validates many physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental defects within our culture. Running improves our behaviour and offers healthy fitness solutions. I enjoy passing on stories of past runners leading the way when villages followed the herds. It was the runners who followed the herds and allowed hunters to set traps for caribou and buffalo. Runners carried important inter-tribal messages for important gatherings. Runners were always allowed safe passage in enemy territory as well. Runners in the community are regarded highly amongst chiefs and elders.”

When I run I am in touch with myself. It is my true self that comes out under the stress and sweat of a run. I feel whole and alive on quiet, early morning runs or cutting through the dark on a fall evening. Caribou Legs I am glad you have joined the Canadian running community.

Your story inspires and adds to the collage of stories that abound by those pounding the pavement across the country like you.

Run on my friend.

*You can follow Caribou Legs on his Facebook page. In May 2015 he will running from Vancouver to Ottawa.

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Wellograph – Fancy Fitness tracker for runners?

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“Its the new trend. Get a watch and know your pulse, your steps, your calories, your pace, distance and time and more.”

-Not a promotion- but real review and thoughts!

Devices to calculate any fitness or exercise related bit of information you can think of have exploded onto the market. From what I remember it all really started rolling after Garmin came out with their fancy GPS running watches. The first was almost the size of a sandwich on your wrist but was better and more popular than the other options where you needed pieces to attach to your sneakers etc. It was one thing you strapped onto your wrist and away you went.

Well its been a while. Garmin watches have gotten better and many other companies have GPS-based running watches for runners now.

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Fitness trackers

Fitness trackers have sprung up everywhere. What are they? Well the first ones have been more loops you wear on your wrist with very basic readouts that give you numbers like steps, calories and your activity level- and then provide more detailed info, charts and information via an app that can be downloaded for your mobile or computer. Pretty simple and cool.

I recently reviewed the Polar Loop and was impressed. It was a fair amount of fun to see my activity level, steps and I could also link up with my polar HR strap if I wanted. But it had no stopwatch and would not give me pace or distance of a run.

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Wellograph

I stumbled onto some information about a new fitness tracker – more in the form of a watch called a Wellograph – I was intrigued and contacted the company.

The watch has a nice thin leather strap and a small square slick and smooth faced watch face with 2 small simple buttons on the right hand side.

The Wellograph gives the user the added benefit of a watch and a fitness tracker and something you can workout with and still wear to the office and out to supper. Cool.

The Information it gives you

The watch:

  • Activity (Idle and active) plus graph of activity that day and for week
  • Pulse (now and at rest
  • Your pulse during a recorded exercise session plus a score
  • Estimated fitness level based on solid science and a fitness age*
  • Number of steps and estimated distance covered
  • Stopwatch
  • Settings you can adjust

* Fitness age is based on BMI, age, sex, resting heart rate and how often users do an exercise. The equation was developed by Nes et al. (2011) from the Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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The setup is pretty easy and you enter some basic information about yourself and strap on.

The App:

  • Activity, Heart rate information and exercise sessions
  • Activity (now, day, week, month) distance covered and percentage of active/idle time
  • HR (now,week,moth,overall) plus level of HR and score
  • Exercise sessions (very cool stats) distance, time, pace, HR etc.

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*Charger you can set beside bed and clock face will rotate.

Testing, thoughts and recommendations

In like the look of the watch and like the fact I do not have to have a HR strap to get my heart rate. A step up for from the Polar loop, but really a different category as this is meant to be a watch and not just a band.

So looked good, light and easy to charge and set up – was set to use.

I wore the watch for a few days and scrolled through all readouts and options – pretty easy. I then looked at info as I exercised and went for a few walks. The watch gave me a fairly accurate estimate of distance walked and cool info on HR and activity level.

I then went for a run. I was really disappointed – is not a GPS watch but estimates were way off for distance and pace. When I contacted my contact at Wellograph (Heather)(very helpful) and asked about problem with stride/pace etc for running – she explained that they are working on a feature that allows users to adjust or correct their stride. She said they are also figuring out whether to add this function to app or the watch.

Recommendation

Before the running update, as watch stands now, I would recommend to anyone active who wants some cool feedback information to help them stay active and improve their fitness/training. The watch also allows the wearer to have one watch for sport, office and outings – and looks cool.

But would not yet recommend for runners as the stopwatch is great for walks but is not accurate for your runs. It will never be GPS accurate but if they make the update would be close enough to get some good info that would be matched up with HR information.

I am looking forward to updating this review when they add the new feature!

Run on friends!

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*Details (Also available on website)

Specifications In The Box
Screen:
1.26 inch low-power LCD with integrated backlight
Materials:
Sapphire crystal, Stainless steel, and Aluminum
Strap Choices:
All-weather genuine leather/NATO strap
Size:
Comfortable for a wide range of men’s and women’s wrist

Strap circumference, 6 – 8.5 inch (15.2 – 21.5 cm).
Sensors:
Tri­-LED heart­ rate sensor, 9­-axis motion sensor
Connectivity:
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Data Capacity:
4 ­month record for continuous use
Water Resistance:
5ATM water resistance (up to 50 meters or 160 feet)
Battery Life:
7 days per charge
Battery Capacity:
210 mAH
Charger:
Magnetic charging dock with Micro USB power adapter
Watch Dimension:
42 x 33 x 12.5mm (1.65 x 1.30 x 0.5 inch)
Watch Weight:
3.52 ounce (55 grams)