Seeing clearly-and looking cool

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“Sometimes self confidence and feeling fast is as important as being fast.”

Its the middle of a Canadian winter and unfortunately most of my runs are in the early morning and evening (with no or diminishing sunlight) – but I am testing out sunglasses.

The quote at the top is saying that one’s confidence can play a big role in racing and pushing yourself. Sometimes things like sunglasses – that work and make you feel cool can help!

This week’s blog is about my review of XX2i sunglasses. I noticed the shades on social media and got hold of them to find out more – eventually 2 pair showed up in the mail (fun). As a runner who wears glasses I am always looking for great sunglasses with good coverage and optics I can run with (without prescription) or cool frames that could work for work/running (such as the Oakley ones I wear).

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XX2i sunglasses

What arrived for testing were 2 models (France2 and USA1) – both with black frames and red flash lenses.

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Both glasses came with hard cases, extra temples and nose pieces, screws, screwdriver, strap and cloth bag. I was impressed – most glasses – even more expensive models usually come with less.

France2 and USA1 are both $59.99 – what I think is a great price. The glasses also have lifetime warranty and 365-day return policy – not bad!

My thoughts

I have worn other sunglasses in my life and in the past have reviewed Sundog  Eyewear sunglasses. Sundog have great lenses and options and XX2i may be an even better deal for similar quality eyewear. Like running shoes – each of us has a different face, style preference and of course budget. Both glasses I tested look cool and fit great on my face. The nosepieces are easy to adjust and even tested out the strap. The lenses were clear and not too dark. The France2 did not fog up as much as USA1 (both fogged up only a bit during cold winter runs).

Thanks for letting me test XX2i!

Have fun, run hard, look cool if you can – life is short.

See ya out there running friends!

You can also catch me on Twitter at @NoelPaine

Building the Foundation – the Feet

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“Our feet lie at the foundation of our bodies – they support our legs and are what hit the ground and propel us along – but are also the thing we have a tendency to neglect.”

This week’s blog is a review of a cool foot tool that arrived via the mail. The box arrived around Christmas time and had a Dr. Seuss book included from the Matt Ferguson, the President & CEO of Progressive Health Innovations Inc. and the creator of something called AFX.

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Ankle Foot maXimizer (AFX)

If you have used bands and tubing to try and strengthen your feet/legs – this is something different. The AFX is a new way to strengthen the muscles and tendons of the entire foot and ankle complex. Right from the start I was able to see that quire a bit of thinking had gone into this apparatus. There are military-strength bungees (found this out later from talking with its creator via Skype) for the right amount of tension at the front of the foot and ankle.

You place your foot in, velcro up the straps and grip the tube set for your toes.

So what to do with this thing with all the bungees, velcro and straps? At first even I was unsure. But after trying out, looking at the instructions and after advice and demonstrations from Matt – it was clear. Easiest exercises are for the main movements you make with your feet (Plantar flexion, dorsi flexion, inversion, eversion)(in plain language that is up, down and side-to-side).

The AFX site has plenty of information for those looking to use to strengthen, rehabilitate along with videos and some technical papers that really show the amount of research put into this tool.

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My thoughts

I like this easy to use foot tool. Set at the end of the couch and use after training and your day in the evening. It is easy to use for 10-minutes each night. As a runner now in my 40s – I find I need more maintenance and ways to keep my body strong to still handle the amount of running I want to do. A recent article in the New York Times talked about why runners get slower with age and how strengthening calf and ankle flexor muscles can help. – Bring on AFX!

I like the AFX better than tubing and find a tough piece of equipment.

Aside from the 4-basic foot movements there are many other variations that can help sprinters, ballerinas (set heel on block to get extended plantar flexion) etc.

The AFX comes in 2 versions and sells for $99 or $129.

**An added bonus is that Matt (Creator) will also do a face to face skype session with you to explain how to best use the AFX tool. I found my session with him very helpful. Matt is super friendly but does have pasty white legs! (Sorry Matt)

See you on the roads my running friends!

You can also catch me on Twitter at @NoelPaine

 

Thats not sweet, sticky or chewy!

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“Never understand when people debate whether gels, chews and other foods help during a long run. Running burns fuel, put fuel back in —its more a case of whether you can process and stomach whatever you are ingesting.”

If you have been running for a while now – you have come across various types of gels and chews to help runners fuel before and during a run. They are usually very sweet and often sticky and sometimes chewy.

This week’s blog is about a way to get in some quick calories and electrolytes without getting sticky fingers or being hit by a sugary high.

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Fuel 100 Electro-bites

The packaging is a bit different and so is what is inside. I received the package, tore it open and on my first run ripped open a package —-and well saw little –things that looked like mini dog food bits. Not what I was expecting.

I paused and then shook out a few and threw them back into my mouth. I sucked one and it dissolved and then tried chewing the other. Very mild salty flavour along with starchiness—and it all quickly dissolves. Interesting. Nutrition for athletes (Electro-bites).

Fuel 100 came into being after 2 runners and self-described sugar freaks, Michelle Halsne  and Andrea Bonaccorsi who were both used to ingesting gels a- decided to try and find another way to get all the calories and nutrients needed for success. Using their families as their taste testers they produced batch after batch before honing in on the final recipe.

What is in the special recipe bites

Each 100 calorie package contains:

Organic Coconut Oil
Organic Agave Syrup
Potato Starch
Sodium (190mg) , Magnesium (46mg), Potassium (55mg)

Nutrition Facts Serv. Size: 23 grams (23g), Servings: 1, Amount Per Serving: Calories 100, Fat Cal. 40, Total Fat 4.5g (7% DV), Sat. Fat 4g (20% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Sodium 190mg (8% DV), Potassium 55mg (2% DV), Magnesium 46mg (10%DV) Total Carb. 14g (5% DV), Sugars 2g, Protein 0g, Calcium (2% DV), Vitamin D (25% DV), Vitamin E (15% DV), Vitamin B6 (10% DV), Vitamin B12 (30% DV). Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Calories per gram: Fat 9 • Carbohydrate 4 • Protein 4

Ingredients: POTATO STARCH, ORGANIC COCONUT OIL, ORGANIC AGAVE SYRUP, SODIUM BICARBONATE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF THE FOLLOWING: CHOLECALCIFEROL (VIT D3), DL-ALPHA-TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VIT E), CYANOBALAMIN (VIT B12), PYRIDOXINE HCL (VIT B6), POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, MAGNESIUM CITRATE, CITRIC ACID, FRUIT PECTIN, NATURAL FLAVORS, DEXTROSE, SODIUM CHLORIDE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE Contains: Coconut Oil

My thoughts

The flavours sound cool (Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Salty Vanilla, Salty Vinegar and Simply Salty) – and are neat but don’t pack a flavour punch (very subtle). I liked this but someone looking for something with FLAVOUR – this is not it. The texture, taste and feel after eating the bites is different than that from sugary counterparts. You feel like you have energy but not the quick spike. The package can be a bit tough to arrange on a run (bites fall out) but with some practice I rolled top and stored away fairly easily.

So overall —-very mild tasting, unique energy and electrolyte source for runners or endurance athletes looking for something different!

A pack of 6 will cost you $13.20 US

See ya out on the roads or here on the blog my running friends!

You can also find me on Twitter @NoelPaine!

Always No Paine No Gain

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“Its a new year and time to evaluate, plan and start the rebuild process. Without pain there is seldom gain.”

It is winter in Canada. The snow has finally blanketed the nation’s capital (Ottawa) and the temperatures dropped to normal frosty norms for the season. There was an abnormally (weird) day before Christmas where the thermometers around town all spiked up to around +16C and those who got out for a run like me were in shorts and just a shirt for a run (felt deeply, deeply weird but fun). Hammered out a quick run and reveled in the sun and warm temperature knowing that Old Man Winter would not be held off long.

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The Winter was a wee bit late in arriving but is here now and there have already been a few -20C early mornings.

Running Dad Rebuild

After a 258km run to mark my 40th birthday I took some (what I consider well deserved) down time. Mid-December I really started running again and easing back into regular runs. I am an Ambassador for the Ottawa marathon and am registered to run it – better get my buns in gear.

I have been at the gym working on legs when not running (lots of squats, leg extensions, leg raises, donkey kicks and calf raises) to try and prepare pushing myself again. Been easing back into snowy winter run commutes to work again as well.

Getting great support from my friends and supporters at Muscle Mlk Canada, New Balance Canada (great shoes and gear), EC3D (just got some great new compression tights), Polar Canada (love my M400) and have put my IceSpikes in for icy winter runs.

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Writing and Reviewing

As a new running dad life and training has changed and there is less time for running and for writing. I try and squeeze in both when I can. Aiming for some races in 2016 but aim to be more flexible and also to focus on quality as opposed to quantity running and trying to get uber strong legs and core to handle tough workouts and miles.

As for writing and reviews – blessed to be able to share reviews of some cool stuff like Runscribe, Aftershokz (wireless bluetooth earphones), OrangeMud gear among others – and currently trying out Swiss On running shoes and AFX foot tool.

See you out there running friends!

You can also find me on Twitter at @NoelPaine.

New Year – time to eat and train well

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“Picture your body as a car. You may not have too much choice on type of car…you may be able to make some modifications but you can control how you maintain it, how you use it and what you put into it.”

This week’s blog is for those planning out their new year (2016) and looking at their training, their races, goals and perhaps New Year’s resolutions.

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A book review – The Athlete’s Fix – Pip Taylor

If looking for a cook book for your active lifestyle – why not one from another athlete, in this case one who is also a registered dietitian.

If you also have a food allergy, sensitivity this may be the book for you to help you combine the right foods for your training. (I am pretty lucky and basically eat whatever isn’t moving and have no issues…yet).

What makes this book different

The Athlete’s Fix by Australian triathlete Pip Taylor (an elite-level athlete fro the past few years -including an appearance in Canada  where in 2004 she finished 2nd at the Corner Brook World Cup Triathlon) offers a 3-step program to identify food intolerances, navigate popular special diets, and enables you to develop your own customized diet. I liked the idea.

In the information about the book – it explains how endurance events strain the body and can often made food sensitivities and stomach issues worse (I can attest to stomach issues on runs etc). This can leave athletes and runners even more tired than from just the workouts and racing.

The Athlete’s Fix offers 50 recipes using easily tolerated foods.

The Athlete’s Fix examines hot issues for athletes like:

  • Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten-free and grain-free diets
    Lactose intolerance, FODMAPs and specific carbohydrate intolerances, including fructose.
  • Reactions to food chemicals such as salicylates, amines, and glutamates.
  • Inflammatory foods.
  • Food sensitivity testing and elimination diets.
    Popular special diet programs like Paleo, Whole30, Dukan, Mediterranean, and Dash.
  • Vegetarian, vegan, and raw food diets.

A quick peek at content

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Thoughts from Pip

I managed to get hold of Pip and asked her about why she wrote the cook.

“I felt as though there was a gap in sports nutrition between that of performance oriented research and application – how to fuel for race day, best practice recovery, lean muscle gains – and that of general good health. I really believe that without a base platform of optimal health that an athlete will not be able to perform to the best of their potential.”

“In addition I was very aware – both through my experience as a nutritionist as well as an athlete that food intolerances seemed to be growing, or at least the awareness of them. I am hoping that the book really helps guide people (athletes and non-athletes) to find the foods that work best for them – by providing maximum nutrition as well as identifying any possible intolerances and food sensitivities that might interfere with health but also ability to train and/or recover.”

“There is no one diet that is going to suit everyone so I encourage people to be their own advocate and experiment themselves. The recipes in the book are the starting point with the aim of making the whole process as simple and enjoyable as possible through championing good food.”

My thoughts

I like the book, it’s intentions and why Pip wrote but was not always a fan of all the recipes. But is the book all about the recipes…no think not. I think the message to take away from the book is – finding foods and a way to eat that allows athletes to get the most from the food they eat and also steer clear of foods that are associated with food intolerances. I am re-thinking how I eat and will use this as a way to better plan and look at what i am eating.

This is a good read, worth checking out and written by a fellow athlete.

You can get more information and recipes etc. at  www.PipTaylor.com or www.TheAthletesFix.net. You can find Pip on Twiter at @PipTPip

On Chapters.ca the book sells for about $30 Cdn.

See ya out on the roads running friends!

You can also join me on Twitter at @NoelPaine.

 

 

*You can find a cool selection of sports/athlete oriented books at www.velopress.com

Tasty tale from a running dad

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“Life is too short to not enjoy some of it – especially when it comes to food!”

This blog is a running food review of a tasty bar called Bia.

Gluten free peanut butter and honey!

They came in the mail around Christmas – perfect gift! :)

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Yep – been running for a long time and have eaten my fair share of energy and protein bars. I remember the first uber-sticky Power Bars —ok but were rock when cold. Now there is a huge selection of protein, energy and nutrition bars out there….soft, full of seeds and fruit, chocolate – good and bad tasting.

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Bia Bar

Its called Bia  (Keho Fitness & Nutrition) and is a bar made by small company based out of Columbus, Ohio. Owner and founder Trent Wills began making the bars eight years ago after being unable to find a product that was both nutritious and delicious.

Whats Inside

Ingredients: Peanut butter, protein powder, rolled oats and honey

Nutrition: Fat 7g, Sodium 110mg, Carbs 20g, Fibre 3g, Protein 12g

195 calories

So you know whats in the bar and you know what it will do for you nutritionally —but how does it taste? Very tasty bar. It definitely has a very peanut butter taste but the honey and oats give it a softer taste. The bar is soft and easy to eat and not too dry (don’t need a glass of water to get down).

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Buy them online at Bia bar website

Cost: 3 Bars $3.00/Bar, 12 Bars- $2.29, 24 $2.08 and 48 Bars $2.08 each.

The man behind the bar (from the website)

At the age of 17, Trent weighed nearly 400 pounds and decided he needed to change his lifestyle. During the process of transforming himself, he discovered that there were no nutrition bars on the market that tasted good. Trent began developing his own version of a nutritious and delicious tasting bar which lead to the early development of the Bia Bar.

Here is an amusing Youtube video Trent posted of his sales manager Jake Jones unpackaging and devouring one of his bars.

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Pronounced b EE-uh, the meaning of Bia is Greek for spirit of force, power, and bodily strength. He realized that the Bia Bar was not only vital to his significant weight loss, but it was also a delicious snack. Trent shared the bars with his family and friends who in turn requested he make them on a regular basis. In July 2013, he decided to begin to market and mass produce the bars so everyone could have the same opportunity to enjoy them as many of his friends and family have.

More reviews and chatter from this running dad coming.

See you on the roads running friends!

*You can also catch me on Twitter at @NoelPaine

 

Trying shoes on the trail

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“Trying shoes in the store is great but you never really know until you get out on the roads or trails how the shoe will work or feel.”

A quick blog review of the shoes I got to wear on my 258km trail ultra 40th-birthday run in October.

The run was a 258km 2.5-day run (see blog story) on trail, path, dirt road and road. The terrain was wet, rough, twisty and muddy at times and the weather was cool almost cold in the mornings and evenings and warm during the day.

This is a long overdue review of some of the shoes that got me through that run and now grace my running shoe rack.

New Balance Leadville 1210 V2 [310 Grams (10.9 oz)]

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This is the one shoe I did not get to run in as much as I wanted to but is a solid shoe. Named after the US trail ultramarathon this shoe is meant to be tough and durable. It is. The Leadville 1210 has a solid feel when you are in it and has a rugged outsole for trail running – I liked at first glance.

If you want a close to the ground, flexible speedy trail running shoe this is not it. But this shoe is one for tough trail conditions that will keep your feet protected and you on your feet and provide solid cushioning.

  • 8 mm drop (feels pretty normal)
  • Gusseted tongue sewn in place to keep debris out for midfoot protection
  • REVlite midsole
  • No-sew material application (good for long long runs)
  • Odor-resistant treatment on collar to reduce odor (cool but need a few more miles to test!)
  • Vibram® outsole (very good tread and tough outsole)

$159.99 Canadian

Two thumbs up on this one and plan to get more runs in with it on tough terrain.

 

New Balance Hierro Fresh Foam [325 grams (11.4 oz)]

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This shoe with the interesting name (NB naming more and more shoes with names and not numbers) is classed under hiking but works just fine for running. The name is from the least populated and wildest of the Canary Islands – Hierro.

More flexible (I found) than the 1210, this shoe got me through mud, rocks and water (up to my ankles). Comfortable and familiar NB fit, moderate tread, good cushion without being too soft. Felt like a slightly more solid normal running shoe with some more tread.

  • 4 mm drop – half of what 1210 has.
  • Debris-free upper construction helps protect against unwanted debris
  • Full EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) strobel board for all-day comfort
  • Ortholite® insert
  • Ortholite® insole provides additional cushioning for arch
  • Sure lace

$139.99 Canadian

Says hiking but try for a run. Another 2 thumbs up!

 

HOKA ONE ONE Speedgoat (9.7oz, 274 grams)

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Okay – tried HOKA shoes last year and was very surprised with this brand. Cushion and chunky without being heavy or slow. The Speedgoat (cool name)  is super light and is built for fast trail running without sacrificing cushion. Some HOKA shoes I have worn feel a bit boxy but not this one – snug comfortable fit but with good toe room (toebox) for me.

There was a softer feel in midsole for me than Challenger and Clifton but rolls a bit easier to run quick with. Only one real constructive comment I have is about laces that I suggest people double-knot.

  • 5mm drop
  • Lightweight No Sew SpeedFrame Construction
  • Welded Synthetic Overlays
  • Welded Microfiber Underlays
  • Injection Molded EVA
  • Balanced Meta-Rocker Geometry
  • VIbram® Rubber Outsole with 4mm Lugs
  • Trail Specific Outsole Flex Grooves (flexes well)

$140 US

Two thumbs up and a silly smile for this shoe!

 

HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR (8.6oz)

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The last shoe in this review is another HOKA and like the name (also name for one of the Space Shuttles) is a workhorse and was reliable but less exciting than the Speedgoat (above).

The Challenger is a more regular boxy HOKA fit and not as nimble as would have liked but was a super cushioned, still light trail running shoe that got my legs through 2.5 long days of walking, hiking and running. The shoe is even lighter than the Speedgoat but somehow with boxier feel felt more clunky. Lots of room for big feet or swollen ultra runner feet with usual additional liner.

This shoe is reliable and was comfortable but think HOKA can do better. The workhorse will get miles out on it by me but the sexy Speedgoat is more fun.

One solid thumb up for this shoe.

$130 US

*Remember everyone’s feet are different and that what works for one person may not work for another. Find what works for you.

See you on the roads my running friends!

Noel

You can find me on Twitter at @NoelPaine