Posts by Jon
June 18th, 2013
The type of shoes someone wears tells a lot about them. I like shoes. Before I got into running, I just liked shoes. Now, as a runner, I love shoes. Running shoes to be specific. You really can’t have too many pairs of running shoes. Can’t have too many different types of running shoes, styles, colors, brands, material etc. Running shoes are awesome. I make up reasons to go to the local running store just to look at running shoes. Yes, I am a guy, but running shoes are awesome…
…which is the reason I jumped at the opportunity to try a pair of Saucony Virrata running shoes. I have a few pairs of running shoes but nothing quite like the Virrata. Saucony introduce the Virrata to be a low/zero drop and lightweight shoe and I think they hit the mark. Weighing in at just 6.5 ounces, the Virrata is the lightest shoe I own and run in. It’s amazing how light these puppies really are. I was amazed when I picked them up. I wasn’t sure if I would notice while running, but the weight, or lack of weight, is very noticeable.
The Virrata is also my first foray into “minimalist” type of running. It’s not a standard/pure minimal shoe, but the design, with a zero millimeter offset/drop (18mm heel & 18mm forefoot) allows my foot to move naturally, the way it was intended. It took me a few runs to get used to this as all my other running shoes are designed to support my foots movement, but not quite allow my foot to do its thing. My first run with the Virrata was borderline painful as my feet/ankles weren’t used to free movement during a run. It’s almost as if I was running, consciously, for the first time. I was amazed at what little thought I gave to my feet/ankles before I ran in these bad boys.
I was also surprised at how much I like the mesh material that the upper shoe is made of. I was a bit hesitant at first as I wasn’t sure that the construction would support my foot as much as I would like. I have flat feet, so finding shoes that support the flat foot while running is always a challenge. However, that concern was taken care of after the first few strides in the Virrata. The “natural” design of the shoe allows my feet to be how they want, which was refreshing. I tend to run early in the morning or late at night, so the reflective Saucony logo on the sides of the shoe is much appreciated.
After a few training runs with the Virrata, I decided to see what it was really made of and use them in a local 5k. This race was a bit different as it featured different terrain, both cement sidewalk, trail and grass as well as flat sections and hills. I was interested to see if the shoe would perform in different terrains as well as it did on the pavement I usually run on. The picture to the left is me getting ready to run the 5k with the timing chip attached. As you can see, I am standing on grass. There was a grass section, including the starting line, which I thought was a bit weird as I’ve never really run a 5k on grass. Anyway, back to the shoes.
As I entered each section of the course and the various terrains, my thought went to my feet and shoes. I got a little nervous as the terrain transitioned from cement to trail and back to cement as I’ve never run in a zero drop shoe and wasn’t sure how it would react. The flexibility and comfort of the shoe are the MVP aspects of the Virrata. The shoes are ultra flexible and provide so much comfort that I actually couldn’t tell the difference in the transitions. Of course, I could see that I went from cement to trail, but my feet didn’t respond any differently. I’m not sure how many times I will be doing that, but it’s definitely a positive aspect of this shoe.
As I ran more miles (more than 3) I noticed that this shoe doesn’t feel as good on my feet as the first three miles. While that is a downside to this shoe for me, many runners who stick to the 5k distance will love this shoe. Around mile 4, and definitely at mile 5, my feet start to get a little sore and my ankles start to get really mad at me. When this first happened, I thought that I was just having a bad running day, which tends to happen from time to time. However, this happened again the next longer run that I took in the Virrata. While this shoe is awesome and comfortable and looks cool, I don’t think it should be worn for longer distances.
The positives for this shoe are numerous (extremely lightweight, comfortable, zero drop, great cushioning, flexible, cool looking) and the negatives are singular (not great for long runs). If you want a great shoe for shorter distances, this is your shoe. If you are looking for more support for a longer run, I would recommend a shoe that has been fit for your stride/gate.
A quick note about the aesthetics of the Virrata; the color combinations that Saucony has put together for this shoe (especially the black ones I have) are really cool and not like any other running shoe I have seen. If the looks of your running shoes matter to you, the Virrata has it nailed.
I was given a pair of Virrata from Saucony to review and keep through FitFluential. All opinions are my own.
February 21st, 2013
Polk Audio has launched a site for “The Love Music Project“. Polk launched this site with an aim at allowing people to share stories of their personal relationships with music. People are able to go to the site, upload their story, which is then shared across the web to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest. Music is a universal language and touches people in so many different ways. Its cool to go to the Love Music web site and see the different relationships people have with music.
I love music for many different reasons and for different environments and moods. That may be the biggest reason why I love music; it allows me to have a different relationship with it depending on what I’m doing or how I feel. When I am driving home after a day’s work in rush hour traffic, music helps me wind down and relax. When I’m working out, music motivates me, which is my greatest love for music.
The right music, is inspiring with its lyrics and motivating with its beat. When I’m tired and not really into working out, music lifts me up and gets me excited about working out. When I’m on a run and not giving it my all, music helps me set a pace/cadence and carries me through. Music is there for me when I need it. Music is magical in that people can listen to several genres and get the same message, inspiration and motivation. Depending on the day, the workout or the run, I listen to different types of music. Some days/workouts I’ll listen to hardcore rock, while others I’ll listen to old school rap or fresh jazz. That is an amazing thing about music, it’s there for me when and how I need it, as cheesy as that sounds.
If I need music to lift me up, if I need it to relax, if I need it to set a mood at a dinner party, if I need it to be a background distraction…its there. In a life filled with constant change, music is a constant. Music means so much to so many people on so many different levels. When going through a tough stretch, music helps get people through it. When celebrating, music is a companion who is happy to be along for the ride.
All that to say, I Love Music because it inspires and motivates!
Polk Audio has been kind enough to give one lucky commenter a $50 promo code. Follow these simple steps to enter:
- Hop over to my Facebook page and give it a “Like” (if you haven’t already) – Note: this is not mandatory to enter/win, but would greatly appreciate it!
- Leave a comment below stating why you love music.
- Thats it! The winner will be randomly selected and announced at 3pm mountain time on Tuesday 2/26/13.
Below is a screenshot from the I Love Music Project site to give you a peek at how cool the site is and the great stories that come from music:
Thanks for checking out this cool project and entering to win. I look forward to your comments on why you love music!
This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC. All opinions are my own.
February 19th, 2013
In 2006 I ran a half marathon. I finished, however, I swore that I would never run another that far, (on purpose) ever again. I’m a different person that I was six years ago. In 2006, I signed up for a Team in Training event because I wanted to raise money for cancer awareness and had hoped that me getting motivated to get into shape would be a byproduct of that endeavor. I raised a bunch of money. finished the half-marathon and then went on living an unhealthy lifestyle. I did not get motivated at all, in fact, I think it had the opposite effect. I think it made me truly loathe running.
Fast forward a few years and here I am, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy passion for running. I have (and still) run in several mud/obstacle runs as well as several 5k races and was quite content with racing at those distances. A friend of mine, who is also a triathlete, approached me about running a marathon. At first I scoffed at the idea as I had made a vow to myself that I would never do that, but something inside me knew it was something I had to do. If I want to continue to push myself, I need to get out of my comfort zone and do things that make me nervous, do things that I feel I cannot conquer and a marathon is one of those things that seem out of reach to me. But I have to do it.
I committed to my buddy that I would run the marathon
with him. He’s a triathlete, so I am sure we will start the race together and then he will soon leave me in his dust, but I am going to run a marathon. I am going to run the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on October 20th, 2013. I am really excited about committing to this race, training for it and can envision crossing the finish line. I’ve done some research on training for a marathon and my friend put together a training plan for me, which looks like this:
I’ve reviewed this training plans a few times, each time a full spectrum of emotions flood my mind. I get excited, nervous, scared, anxious and happy all at the same time. When I look at it, I feel excited and know how great of a feeling it will be when I cross the finish line but I also doubt myself. Will I actually be able to do this and finish? There is only one way to find out and that is to train for and run in this event. In my opinion, the marathon is one of the greatest feats due to its challenge of both the mind and the body.
I will be blogging much more on this topic as I begin to train in a few months. I plan to keep copious notes on my training and how it goes as well as document as much as I can with pictures and videos. Stay tuned to see my progress.
There is no doubt in my mind that I will finish, the only question is how long it will take me!
December 31st, 2012
I was given the opportunity to try WellnessFX and to share my thoughts on the experience. If it wasn’t for this opportunity, I would have never known or cared to get my blood drawn for the benefit of my health. My eyes are wide open now! If you care about your health, WellnessFX is an amazing asset that should be invested in. The process couldn’t be any more simple, which makes it all that much better! In short, WellnessFX takes your blood and analyzes it for several health indicators. When the results are in, a WellnessFX expert speaks to you on the phone and lets you know how to improve your overall health based on your indicators. Now, let me go into detail on the process:
The sign up process is easy and www.WellnessFX.com has a ton of helpful information about the program. The next step was to create my profile by answering questions about my medical history and basic info such as height, weight etc. This was easy to do and didn’t take much time. Now it was time to schedule my blood draw. This too was an easy process as there were various clinics near me that offered the WellnessFX blood draw and flexible time slots.
The Blood Draw
The process was simple, with the exception that I had to fast for 12 hours the night before!. I walked into my appointment, they knew I was there for a WellnessFX blood draw and there was no paperwork or money necessary. I only had to wait about 3 minutes before they took me back to get my blood drawn.
Results & Consultation
My results came back in a little under a weeks time. I got an email from WellnessFX when my results were ready. I logged into my account and saw my baselines. Most of my indicators looked good but a few were not in the healthy range. WellnessFX’s web site does a great job of informing you about what the numbers and ranges. There are several categories of results. My Cardiovascular Health is shown at left, but I also got results for Metabolic, Liver, Kidney, Electrolytes and Vitamins & Minerals.
After reviewing my results, I scheduled my phone consultation with a certified expert. Included in the WellnessFX program/fee is a 20 minute phone/web consultation with a expert to go over your results and put together a plan on how to improve. To me, this is the real magic of WellnessFX and worth more than the $200! There are numerous experts that you can schedule your consultation with and you get to pick which one you want to speak with. The web site has credentials and a full bio on each expert. I was able to schedule a consultation with Ben Greenfield. This was exciting to me as I subscribe to his podcast so I was fully aware of who he is and what his credentials are.
The consult was awesome. We were on a phone conference and both had my results in front of us. He walked through all my baselines and pointed out the areas where I could improve. He also put together a plan on how to improve said baselines. I was frantically writing notes and Ben must have heard me because he paused and told me that all of his recommendations are uploaded to my profile for me to review at any time. I learned so much about how to improve my health in that 20 minute phone call.
Not only were the recommendations laid out for me, but so were the notes that Ben took. This is very valuable to me as I can go back anytime to look at what we discussed and what I need to do to improve my baselines. This is exciting to me as I basically have a handbook, written by an expert, on how to improve my health and its truly tailored to me. Exactly me, based on my blood draw.
Now that I have a customized plan, I intend on attacking it and improving my biomarkers. WellnessFX suggests re-testing in 3-6 months from the initial baseline test. I am going to incorporate all of the recommendations and re-test in approximately 4 months. I am already excited to update this post with the re-test results!
WellnessFX gives very specific insight into your health. The information I got from this blood test is not something I could have learned by reading blogs or going to the gym. The WellnessFX blood test is helping me take my fitness to the next level by showing me exactly where I’m at and what I need to do to improve and get to where I need and want to be.
I highly recommend WellnessFX to anyone that is serious about improving their health. WellnessFX is a great service that is really trying to help people get healthy.
DISCLOSURE: FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.
December 5th, 2012
Making excuses for not doing something is so easy to do. I’ll tell you, its much easier than actually doing whatever it is you are making excuses for. I’ve been doing pretty well in not making excuses and getting my workout in, but recently, I’ve been making excuses more and more and it makes be feel dirty and guilty. Most of my excuses are time based: “I work late”, “I have to make dinner” etc. And to me…those are the WORST excuses there are as it really is easy to find time to get some sort of workout in. Every time I hear someone say that they have no time, I usually refer to Einstein, da Vinci and the like and point out that they had the same amount of time in the day that we all do. Now that I am making those same excuses, I need to quit being a hypocrite, look at myself in the mirror and make the adjustments needed to get back on track.
I’ve also let myself make excuses cause I’m not holding myself accountable by blogging. I haven’t updated here for about a month and I’m happy to report that that is over. I will be back blogging regularly and I think that doing so around the holiday season is perfect. My hope is that it will help me eat better during the holidays. But I also have some cool stuff coming up that I want to share in regards to a cool new health service as well as a review of upcoming events…please stay tuned. I really enjoy maintaining this site and using it as an outlet.
The good news is, I’m not giving up. I’m not giving in. I’ve worked too hard to get to this point. I just have to keep telling myself that whats in the past is in the past. Learn from it, forget about it and keep progressing. Keep moving forward.
This is a short post, but its just a primer, a warmup. More things to come. I will leave you with one of my Dad’s favorite quotes and something I think about everytime I make an excuse…
October 31st, 2012
I’ve always been a fan of setting goals and going after them, across all facets of life (work, family, physical etc). Some of my goals are so large that I will probably never hit them, but I try to aspire to them. Other goals are tangible and ones that I can achieve. Those are the ones that hurt when I don’t achieve them. I get frustrated and angry at myself and even feel guilty. After some time, I’ll get over it and set another goal and try and go after it. Lately, I’ve missed quite a few of my goals and it’s not sitting well with me. My mental health has been impacted by it, something is just a little off with me. When this happens, I force myself take a step back and assess and take inventory. During one of my assessment periods, it occurred to me that maybe I was going about my goals all wrong.
You see, my goals were the end game. They are where I want to be and had little to nothing to do with what it takes to get there. So I took a different approach as to how I set and achieve goals. I still have the really big long term goals, but I create a bunch of little short term goals. Once I achieve all of the little short term goals, my long term goal is also achieved. I chunk up the long term goal into easily obtain short term ones. For example, I have a long term goal of getting down to 190 pounds. As of right now, that seems astronomical and almost unattainable. However, I have a short term goal of losing 5 pounds. Once I hit that goal, I’ll set another one to lose 5 pounds and so on until I hit my goal weight. I also have a goal of running 500 miles in a year. This goal now seems crazy and out of reach, but running 9 1/2 miles per week is something I can wrap my brain around and get motivated to do…it doesn’t see so far out of reach.
The decrease in motivation by not hitting a long term goal is a symptom of letting myself down and getting unmotivated after I suffered defeat after defeat in not reaching my goals. I was beating myself up. Giving myself the guilt trip. Rightfully so, but If I went off track for a particular goal, I stopped all plans to achieve that goal and set a new one, essentially starting over. Now if I miss a short term goal, I simply move on to the next one and I get that much closer to where I want to be. As an example, if I only ran 2 miles in one week (as opposed to 9 1/2) I know if I ran 9 1/2 the next week I would only miss my long term goal by about 1%. I’d still be bummed out that I didn’t hit my long term goal of 500 miles in a year, but running 498 miles is much better than running 87 in a year. I’m using this for illustrative purposes, but that was what was happening to me when I only set long term goals. I would completely derail myself and never come close. Now I know that I can hit short term goals and work towards the long term in a more efficient manner.
I know this way of goal setting is not a new idea. However, putting this idea into action is new to me. I’ve only been using this method for a short time, but I’ve noticed that my mental approach (and mental health) is much different and positive when trying to reach for and achieve short term goals.
It’s out there…go get it!