Death by Inhaled Insect

Sweat Bee

Running down my favorite rainforest trail in southern Thailand I was thinking about inhaling bugs into the lungs because there were quite a few in the air.

We’ve all sucked bugs into our throats, but I think few of us have taken measures to prevent it from happening again.

When I remember to do it, I use a special breathing technique I’ll bet many of us use, some without realizing it. I put my tongue on the roof of my mouth so it blocks a straight shot down my trachea. As I ran down the mountain yesterday I was thinking about writing a post here about jamming the tongue up there while you run and pant open-mouthed, but then I figured most runners already do that. You do, don’t you?

Then my mind drifted off to something else. Ten minutes later the Perfect Storm. I was running fast down the hill, I came around a bend and I thought I saw a floating beasty in the air. I then felt this sizable insect shoot straight into my trachea. It stopped my breathing. I’m not sure whether it was the involuntary closing off of the trachea that happens when someone is drowning, or whether in my panic, I tensed up the muscles in my neck and stopped breathing so I didn’t inhale it further. At any rate, I was hosed.

Since I had very little air in my lungs I tried very gently and slowly to inhale to see if I could get any air that would help me cough more forcefully. I couldn’t get any air in. I hunched over and tensed my stomach muscles so hard that I actually pulled them way down into my groin. I felt the sharp pain of it this morning a couple times already.

After a few violent coughs I thought I saw something hit the dirt and leaves in front of me. I frantically searched for it to see what it was. I found a little sweat-bee covered in mucous and I figured that was the culprit. Then, despite the bee being out of my throat, I realized it probably stung me when it was in there. It probably stung me in the throat.

While I’m not particularly allergic to bees. Well, I mean, I haven’t been allergic to them ever in my life, but I had never been stung by a sweat-bee in Thailand before.  I thought there was a good chance it stung my throat and either my lungs would fill with fluid, or my throat would swell up and prevent air from getting to my lungs.

Rather than panic, which I know is always the worst thing, I thought of my chances to get help if the body did start to shut down.

The chances were mighty slim. I was still 25 minutes away from the bottom of the mountain. I had just ran hard for close to two hours, climbing 2,300 vertical feet and 6 miles of trail in 95°F very humid rainforest.  I had seen nobody on the trail during my run. I usually don’t.  I didn’t have my mobile phone, choosing instead to leave it in the car so I didn’t need to wear a waist-pak. I had no camera so I could record my dying words… I was truly screwed if my breathing shut down.

As I considered dying on the mountain there, I wasn’t really afraid of death. What a great place to die, right? But still, it isn’t time man. Not for another 30-40 years, maybe longer. There are a lot more trails to run and hills to climb.

As I ran down the hill very gently, slowly, and breathing easily, I just waited for my rarely present asthma to kick in, throat to swell, or lungs to fill up with fluid. It was a tense 25 minutes down the trail.

At the bottom of the hill I realized I wasn’t stung by the bee. I was going to live.

It’s funny that something so innocuous could turn into a life-death situation. I follow some of you guys and gals running around the mountains of Colorado and all over the world, and I think about your safety. You’ve likely thought some already about bears, mountain lions, and lightning. The normal threats.

Have you thought about a simple bug flying into your trachea? 

Just in the couple years I’ve been on this trail I’ve inhaled three bugs. This being the worst experience by far. I guess it’s time to wise up and start wearing a bandana around my head, under my nose. I’m supposed to be in the middle of my life at age 48, not the end.

Take a few minutes today and see if there might be something you can change about your runs, your bike ride, whatever it is you do, to make it a little bit safer.

[Image by Barbara Eckstein at Flickr]

Best to Run in Rain or Sunshine?

Living in Southern Thailand has its ups and downs. I’m not sure what to call the rainy season here, because there is good and bad about it. The primary good thing is that daytime temperatures drop by 15-20°F on a good day when a storm rolls in from China, or Laos up north. Otherwise the temperature on an average day with sunshine is around 90-95°F. Quite hot for strenuous exercise.

Sunday morning I was set to go do a run up the mountain but it was raining pretty hard. I SMS’ed my buddy who was supposed to go earlier that morning to ask for a weather report because it’s a 30 minute drive on the motorbike (was giving wife the car that day). He was AWOL, and 3 days later STILL haven’t heard from him. He might have died up there on the mountain for all I know.

So I got my stuff ready and just decided to go in the rain. I rode about half-a-mile and turned around and came back to the house. It was coming down much harder. I went back in the house, read something about ultra-running on the computer, and looked outside. It was raining lightly. I said – screw it, I’m going! Got back on the motorbike and rode the 30 minutes to get there. I got soaking wet, even with the worthless poncho I wore. My things were dry under the seat, so I changed at the benches at the foot of the mountain trail. The rain had slowed more… it was very cool. Perfect weather. Not one person parked in the lot – just me. I do love to be the only one running the 8km trail!

I started out medium fast because I felt good. Then I was hammering it because I felt great in the cool temperatures. I ended up with a 2nd fastest run ever up the mountain, and I didn’t think I was ready for that kind of speed at all. It is just SO MUCH EASIER to push in the cooler weather (80°F) instead of the usual 95°F or more.

When it’s sunny, it just seems naturally like a better time to go running, but I think that’s our moms talking to us from years ago. The better time to run is, by far, during a light rain. Even a heavy rain, if you wear a hat, can be an amazing day. It feels as if you’re eight years old and running through puddles again. Some of my favorite running days have been during downpours.

What about you? Do you run during the rain?

I can see that in the cold areas of the world, running in the rain wouldn’t be much fun. I lived in Pennsylvania growing up and ran quite a bit in the cold rain. Not enjoyable at all.

But, when it’s warm and raining – do you GO or stay inside hoping it clears up?

Let me know what you think…

Cheers!

Vern

31 Sleeping Lifehacks for Helping you Sleep, Minus the Sheep

Women sleeping at Dhamma talk in ThailandI wrote another sleeping lifehack post not long ago and it’s had over 12,000 reads so far. That’s amazing to me as I created that blog post article on a spur of the moment idea one night when I realized that by having my head covered with my arms or hands I seemed to be more relaxed and I fell asleep even more quickly than I usually did.

To expand on that I’ve listed 30 more ways to help you get to sleep. I take my sleep seriously. You should too. If you’re not getting enough sleep then you CAN change something and reach the point where sleep comes more quickly. You might be stressed out from life, but one or a combination of these lifehacks about sleeping should work for you!

31 Sleeping Lifehacks that Work:

1. Your bed is for two things. Sleep and sex. If you read in your bed, eat crackers in your bed, or program on your notebook in your bed, then your bed is no longer a special place. It needs to be special. It needs to trigger your brain for sleep. It needs to mean sleep so when you see it, and if you’re not feeling horny, you think, ‘sleep’.

2. Make sure your room is cool enough to sleep. If it’s not cool enough, shoot a fan onto your legs, in your face, wherever you need it. Fans are cheap and efficient. My wife cannot sleep in the warm weather without a fan BLOWING directly at her face – preferably on high speed from about 3 feet away. I can’t possibly sleep like that, so we with my feet at her face and hers at my chest. Works for us.

3. Music on low volume is OK, if the music either – doesn’t have words – is entirely instrumental, or, consists of a sleepy girl’s voice like Sade. I can sleep to Sade’s “Love Deluxe” CD in about 4 minutes. If you don’t have it – get it and I think you’ll see what I mean.

4. Television on low volume works for some people. Not me. The problem is that you wake up at 3 a.m. with the loud static that makes you feel like you’re in a Japanese horror-flick.

5. Fake meditation. Meditation books will tell you, “Don’t’ meditate while lying down.” There’s a good reason for that. You get too relaxed and your mind starts to get dizzy… unfocused and before you know it, you’ve slept yourself right through your meditation. Now, if you didn’t care about meditation, sleeping would be a good thing. Try it in bed on your back and see what happens. Success!

Read my eBook (PDF format) about how to meditate by focusing on your breath here >

6. Progressively relax all the muscles in your body. You can do this one of two ways. You can simply focus on the areas of your body from the head to the toes or toes to head, either way – up to you. Try both ways. Look at your head, the muscles in your face, your nose, your ears, your throat… feel them relax… you know the drill. We’ve all heard audio suggestions like this on mp3 or god forbid if you were alive during tape recorders, you listened to a tape of it. Don’t tell anyone if you heard an 8-track of it.

7. The other way to progressively relax all the muscles in your body is not just to focus on them, but to tense them first. Contract the muscles you’re focusing on tightly and hold it for a couple seconds. Do this with each group of muscles as you focus on them. Then when you let go of the contraction you really can sense the relaxation because it’s so opposite of the tenseness. Do this with every group of muscles in your body… head, face, neck, traps, shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms, wrist, hands, fingers, chest, etc. Don’t miss anything.

8. Enlist the help of your friend for one of the following…

  • To clean your fingernails and toenails as you lay in bed, ready to sleep. I’ve never fallen asleep faster in my life than when my wife did this recently. She started on my toes. By the time she got to third toe of the first foot I didn’t get to enjoy the rest of it – because I was asleep quick!
  • Rub your feet gently.
  • Rub your hands gently.
  • Trace a line with one finger on your feet, hands, across your whole body, or back.
  • Tell you a bedtime story.

9. Remember there are only 2 positions to sleep correctly: On your back or on your side. Don’t sleep on your stomach as your neck has no alternative but to twist oddly. You know what pulling a neck muscle is like, don’t you? Thought you had sleep problems before?

10. Try the WINE! (Quote from, ‘A Clockwork Orange‘) Wine or beer, anything with that magic ingredient, will relax you. That’s why they tell you, don’t drink alcohol with your sleeping pills. They accomplish the same thing. I rarely have trouble falling asleep immediately, but if I am, I’ll have a glass of wine or a beer and I’m out cold in 15 minutes.

11. If laying on your back, straight out like a corpse you might find that you have some weird feeling in the area between your butt and your middle back. This is your lower back. It might not feel relaxed. There’s a reason for that. It isn’t. You might feel better if you put a pillow under your knees. This will lift your legs and allow your lower back to contact the bed where it should be, not up like a suspension bridge or an eleven-year-old’s back-bend in gymnastics’ class.

12. If you still don’t feel right, try crossing your legs Indian-style on top of the pillow, still laying on your back. This works for me really well. I think too much meditation in the past made my legs pliable enough to do this and now it feels more comfortable to sleep like this than with legs straight.

13. Assume the fetal position. What do fetuses do best? Sleep. They sleep a good part of the time they’re in there. Make yourself fetus-like and curl up on your side. Heck, suck your thumb if you want. Nobody is watching.

13.5 A hammock will help you get into something resembling the fetal position. It works wonders for infants!

14. When choosing to lay on your side and sleep, your pillow must help you sleep, not hinder it. You need a pillow when you sleep on your side. Or else something that will keep your spine in a straight line. If you sleep without a pillow your spine curves at the neck because the width of half of your cranium does NOT equal the same width of your spine to the outside of your shoulder. See the disparity? You need something under your head to pick it up and line up the vertebrae so your spine stays in a straight line horizontally.

15. Sleep horizontally. What I mean is… your bed, the floor, a lounge chair, whatever it is – really should be horizontal. It shouldn’t be angled, tilted to one side, or so soft that the heaviest part of you (your butt) sinks into the surface and collects all the blood for the next eight hours. Sleep horizontally.

16. Take the major step of improving your sleep patterns by moving your bed into another room – maybe create a TV room or a sex room and buy a firm foam pad two or three inches thick to sleep on in place of your bed. I’ve slept this way for the better part of two years now and my back pain has decreased to where I don’t even notice it. I don’t have any problem sleeping either. There is about a ten day or so adjustment period when you’ll curse me up and down… but, when that’s over you’ll send me internet flowers or something warm and fuzzy.

17. Drink warm milk. For some reason it works. Look at breastfeeding babies. Half the time they fall asleep AT the source. While your milk might not be 98.6°F, it is better warm and it has a relaxing effect due to the tryptophan, an amino acid that acts as a sedative.

18. Go to sleep at about the same time everyday. If sleep is part of the schedule then the brain is wired for it to happen at a certain time. If you have an unsteady schedule, you’re more likely to suffer periods of insomnia.

19. Exercise to the point of exhaustion right before you eat dinner. By the time you eat dinner and the blood goes from your muscles to your stomach to help in digestion, your mind doesn’t get the blood it needs to stay awake. You naturally get sleepy. Of course you’ll need to time when you exercise and eat dinner so you’re not falling asleep at 6:30 p.m. Exercise at 6, eat at 8, sleep by 9? Sure you’re eating a late dinner and you’ve heard that’s not such a cool thing to do – but the people that said that are sleeping everyday. You’re not. You want to sleep, don’t you?

20. Cover your eyes with some satin undies. Or whatever you choose, it’s just that satin is nice and cool and very lightweight you won’t even know it’s there. I use a lightweight running t-shirt. Don’t bother with the Bluebeard eye-patches and other gimmicks. You don’t need to buy them when a sock will do just as well. Eye patches invariably have a rubber band or elastic that squeezes your head either too tightly or too loosely.

21. Ear plugs. I’ve not found any that fit my ears correctly. Here in Thailand there is a one size fit all and they leave a quarter inch of rubber plug sticking out the side of my ears like a Herman Munster type deal. Sleeping on the side with those things is impossible. Great for back sleepers though.

22. Put your arms, hands, fingers over your head and face as you sleep.

See my other sleeping lifehack article here with images >

23. Turn your bedroom into a cave. When you shut the lights out, your bedroom should be as black as a cave. No light means your eyes can’t focus on anything if you’re laying in bed wide-eyed. Cave men had the right idea. Sleep was important to them as they were outrunning mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, they needed to conserve energy. What worked for them can work for you!

24. Trick yourself into falling asleep. Reading a book that you really want to finish is a sure-fire way to fall right asleep. Telling yourself that you must stay awake and cannot sleep is another great way. For some reason this works. For some reason if you tell the mind – NO, then it does it. It’s like the mind is always rebelling against what we tell it.

I’ll never forget a trip from Washington DC to Pittsburgh at 2 a.m. when my friend, Mark, with full-blown sleep apnea, reassured me forty or more times that he was fine to drive. I told myself, ‘Don’t fall asleep because if Mark does fall asleep you’ll need to grab the wheel.’ Sure enough I fell asleep. God it’s just heavenly to be sleeping in the car while someone else is driving. Anyway, I woke up to the sound of Mark snoring like a grizzly bear, the car flying down the road at 80 mph. Not one of life’s AWESOME moments I’ll tell you.

25. If you’re in Korea or have access to it, drink “SoJu”. It’s a rice wine that has formaldehyde in it (had in 1986 at least) and not only will you sleep, but you’ll forget what you did the night before. You could also dose yourself on roofies if you’re seeking that particular effect.

26. Intentionally try to stay up all night long every night for a week. See. You sleep. Again, this works on that same principle of telling the mind what you want to do – stay awake. It does the opposite, puts you to sleep. Strange mind we have!

27. Don’t take a hot bath or shower at night, or do some physical activity right before bed since your body needs to lower it’s temperature and heart-rate as you sleep. An elevated temperature or heart-rate will keep you up longer without sleeping.

28. Get yourself some of that white noise. White noise can mask the sounds that annoy you and that inhibit your sleep. For me a fan running close to me works, as long as it isn’t pointing at me. You could buy a CD with an hour of babbling brook, ocean waves, waterfall, rainfall or wind through the trees and that might work for you.

29. Have a power-down routine before you climb into bed. Anxiety about your living space, kids, what you’re going to face tomorrow and so many other things can add up to anxiety before you hit the bed. Go through a power-down routine where you walk around the house, shutting up the blinds, checking windows and door locks, starting the air in the kids rooms, or whatever you need to do. Write a short list of what you’ll need to get done the following day and have a glass of warm milk. Cool your room down to just above freezing and gently slide into the covers. Go through the muscle relaxation progressive exercise and feel consciousness slipping away.

30. An hour before you sleep do some yoga, meditation or stretching exercises to wind yourself down physically.

If nothing else works, resort to the old standby…

31. Just eat a potato! Some researchers are saying that potatoes have a relaxing effect when eaten before you sleep. Who would have ever thought it was that easy?

Anybody have any more? I tried not to rehash the 50 other things most lists have about how to fall asleep, but some of them worked for me in the past so I did mention those.

Let me know if anything above works for you. This post has been here since 2008 and already a couple hundred thousand people have read it. Some report falling asleep quickly after trying some of them. Let me know – I’m anxious to hear if anything worked for you!

Best of Life!

Vern

PS – I’ve had ADD/ADHD my entire life, and yet I’ve not had problems sleeping using the tips above. Try them, they work.

Ultimate Technical Trail Shoes – New Balance Minimus MT 10OB2 (10v2)

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Side

More New Balance Minimus MT 10OB2 (10v2) photos and videos are at the bottom of this article.

The ultimate trail running shoes are in my opinion, the New Balance Minimus MT 10OB2 series. I bought these in Thailand, they are also known as the MT 10v2 series in the USA and came out in 2013 there.

I first saw the Minimus in a sports store in Thailand in a mall late last year. I thought they were Chinese rip-offs of real New Balance shoes. I picked them up, almost laughing out loud at how light they were! How flexible (flimsy)! I thought – what junk!

Then I saw a couple runners online wearing them on some technical trail. WTF!?? Were the ones I saw real? I hauled-butt back up to the store, logging another 100 mile drive, but I had to know – were these the real deal? If they were real and that light and flexible, they’d be ideal for my feet.

I got there and immediately tried a pair on – sure they’d be too tight for my wide forefoot. Nope – a perfect fit. I couldn’t believe it. They felt strange, but I walked around with both shoes on my feet in the store for five minutes. Finally I pulled the trigger and bought the last pair they had – my perfect size – 10.5 EE, and they were on sale for around $100 USD.

I went home and got online to find more. I couldn’t find any but on Amazon. Amazon didn’t deliver to Thailand. I searched all over. I couldn’t find anyone to deliver to Thailand. Then finally a friend in Thailand went back to the USA and I bought 2 pair on Amazon and had them shipped to his house there. He brought them back for me to Bangkok.

I wore them to run on the grass at the park for a couple weeks before I tried running up and down the steep mountain near my home in Southern Thailand. They felt great on the grass. I was able to land flat and a bit with the forefoot striking first and that felt great. Over those couple of weeks I noticed my feet were hurting less than they usually did. My arches didn’t cramp as much as they did with other shoes.

When I ran up the mountain for the first time they felt great. After the run I noticed some achilles pain in both heels, but more on the left. I added a bit of stretching to my repertoire and ran on the flat some more before starting up the mountain again.

On the mountain, no pain since. These shoes are absolutely perfect for this technical mountain trail which contains patches of sand, packed clay, smooth and flat rocks around 20 inches around on average, root covered path, and leaves. The grip with these shoes is perfect. Not too grippy that they stick me to something, like the roots. They don’t grab the roots at all. They are flexible enough that I feel the surface I’m running on, but most of the time that is just soft dirt and sand. When I do bound across rocks or roots I feel them just enough. Not painful at all unless I come down hard on one foot on a very sharp rock, which I’ve only done once in 30 runs now.

The Minimus is very lightweight – like 30 sheets of paper if you’re holding one. They are great when wet, with or without socks my feet didn’t slip inside them at all. It’s always over 90°F when I run, and they stay cool enough that they aren’t the cause of my feet sweating. As long as I wear socks, they stay very dry, and most of my socks stay dry during my fast 80 minute runs up and down the mountain.

Positives

  1. Very lightweight shoes.
  2. Very minimal – flexible and the ground can be felt underfoot.
  3. Airy and cool, ideal in hot environments.
  4. Socks are completely unnecessary.
  5. Perfect grip for Thailand jungle terrain.
  6. The Minimus MT 10OB2 dry out quickly after wet

Negatives

  1. Some other reviewers of this shoe said feet slipped in them. I never had that happen.
  2. Some didn’t like the lacing system. I loved it.
  3. Some didn’t like the round shoelaces… I’d have to agree. I’d prefer soft flat ones.
  4. The heel is fitted for the heel and achilles. I got blisters a few times, then OK.
  5. They are very hard to find unless you are in the USA and have the right sized feet

New Balance Minimus MT 10OB2 (MT 10v2) Specifications:

Type: Trail running, specifically technical trail with smooth rocks & roots. Not good for concrete.
Construction: Vibram sole; Acteva mid-sole
Extra: Anti-microbial treatment (anti-fungus).
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Vertical Heel Drop: 4mm from heel to forefoot
Men’s Sizes: 7 – 14 D and 2E
Women’s Sizes: 5 – 12 B and D
Men’s Colors: Black; black and orange; black with lime green; solid yellow; blue and green; black and yellow.
Women’s Colors: Silver and purple; grey and blue; blue and pink; blue and black.
2014 Price: $100 – 130 on Amazon, the only place you can find them now.

Amazon Reviews: 161 reviewers gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Some glowing reviews about these shoes. Runners reported wearing them anywhere from 1.5 mile runs to ten kilometer races. One guy said he wore them for marathon distance and wouldn’t recommend them for anything longer that that. OK, I have to go and order two more pair before they disappear. I’ve not had shoes this good in, well, in forever.

Oh, I almost forgot… my 75 year old stair climbing buddy bought one of my pairs of Minimus because he loved them so much. Now I definitely need to buy more!

Anton Krupicka’s New Balance Minimus Video – he talks about the minimalist ideal and what it means to him. He is wearing a version of the Minimus Trail that looks very similar to the shoes reviewed here.

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Tread

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Toe Guard

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Lacing

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Heel

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Side Logos

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Spacious Toe-box

New Balance Minimus MT 10v2 Box

What Is the Ultimate Reason to Shave Your Body?

Running with Daughter - Krabi, Thailand

I’ve shaved down at least once or twice a year for the last oh, 24 years. Back when I first started, many people asked – “Do you shave your arms and legs?”

Lately, say, last ten years or so, I can’t even remember anyone asking. It’s become rather common.

Many of you have not ever tried to shave your legs and arms, chest, back, neck, face, head, etc. I will say that it isn’t right for everyone. My mom for instance, just would have no moral reason to shave down clean. I’m fine with that. You should be too…

However, if you are an athlete of any sort, you probably need to shave that mess off today. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or you’re working on running your first 5K race. It doesn’t matter if you swim across the English channel, or you swim across your pool 25 times every couple of days. You really need to shave that mess.

Here’s the reason why…

The difference between having hair and not having hair is huge. It isn’t a big deal as far as time splits, unless you’re swimming from California to Hawaii or something else ridiculous, you know, like some of you do.

It has everything to do with the feeling of efficiency that will knock you over when you first shave down clean as a whistle.

Back when I was 24, wow, that was half the age I am now, I was doing a lot of bicycle road racing. I was averaging 30-50 miles a day in the hills of Pennsylvania. I was running six miles a few times a week. I was swimming when I could find a pool. My big thing though – was riding the bike. I was nuts about it.

I have to say, that before I shaved, I never once thought to myself, “Hey Vern, all this hair on your legs, arms, knuckles and front teeth is holding you back. The air resistance is slowing you down by seconds at a time.”

I never thought that. I’d heard it from others, but I knew it wasn’t true. However, I had a bike race coming up and a couple of my friends had already shaved. I don’t know why I first did it, but I told myself it would make me cooler, and if I crashed it would allow me to treat the road-rash more easily, and I had less chance to get an infection.

It took me at least an hour to shave my legs, arms, chest, neck, and back. The rest I left alone.

The transformation was shocking that first time. It made me feel like a shaved hen. A hen is female, right? I felt like a little girl. Immediately I regretted my idiocy and wished I could rewind time and go back to being a hairy ape.

It took me some time to get up the courage to go outdoors and ride my bike, but within a day I was flying down the road on my Cannondale 21 speed I think it was… and my mouth must have been hanging open for the first twenty miles.

The feeling was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I felt so efficient, like I was cutting through the air like an icicle. There didn’t seem to be any resistance at all. I couldn’t feel the wind – AT ALL. Not on my head (I had a Giro racing helmet on), not on my bald legs, and not on my arms. It was so strange because I’d never felt any resistance from the hair on my arms and legs before. And then when it was gone – I REALLY NOTICED the difference. It was the greatest feeling ever.

Well, 24 years later and I’ve had the greatest feeling ever, hundreds, I guess, thousands of times. Exercising without hair helps me feel ultra-efficient. I feel stronger and faster because I don’t feel the air against me. Hair helps us to feel the wind and water resistance. Ideally we don’t want to feel any resistance because it only serves to make the mind more aware of the effort the body is exerting.

So, if you’re an athlete that goes fast through wind or water, you’re going to benefit by shaving the hair from your body. You WILL save seconds off your time because the mental boost you get is worth much more than the simple aerodynamic advantage. You feel faster and you move faster. I think shaving would even be beneficial for those athletes that move some part of their body fast through the air or water. Tennis players, for instance. Ping pong players. Kayakers. Climbers. Racquetballers. Step climbers. Speed chess players?

Give it a try and see what happens. Unless you’re bear-hairy and scary, nobody is even going to notice you shaved.

Let me know what your experience is in the comments – I’d love to hear about the first time you exercise post-shavedown.

Oh, and here’s another article I wrote about the subject of shaving –
5 Reasons to Shave Down – Plus Video!

Cheers!

Vern

Ultimate Trail Running Shoes – Nike Free 7.0 v2?

Nike Free 7.0 v2 Trail Running Shoes

If you’re a trail runner you probably wouldn’t consider the Nike Free 7.0 v2, first produced in April of 2010, as a trail running shoe. It does have a small toe guard, but that’s about all that might clue you in that the shoe could work on the trails. After 39 trips up and down my favorite very technical mountain trail, I now believe it is the ultimate trail running shoe for me. Maybe not for you – but for me, as far as I know – this shoe is the best!

Finding the ultimate trail running shoes was proving very difficult from here in Thailand. First off most of the shoes I find in the stores are cheap China rip-offs. They replace rubber with cheap foam. The stitching is ridiculously sub-par. The price is the same as the authentic trail running shoes. These shoes are available in all the sports stores, in the outlet malls that are supposed to have authentic items from major OEM’s like NIKE, ADIDAS, SOLOMON, etc. I usually just check two things in these stores – the stitching, and whether there is real rubber on the bottom of the shoes. The rubber they replace with plastic or foam, it’s very easy to feel the difference. Rubber is grippy. Foam and plastic are slippy. The stitching is also usually a very obvious clue. Nothing on decent shoes is single-stitched. On fake shoe rip-offs – there are places where single-stitching is evident.

I first found these trail running shoes by Nike called the Nike Free 7.0 v2 in a Big C store in southern Thailand. Of course they just had Thai sizes which stop at a men’s 9 (US Men’s 9). But, when I tried it on at the store, though the length was insufficient, that size nine was almost big enough in the toe box for me. That’s just what I was looking for because I have a wide-forefoot and need a big (wide) toe-box.

The sole is very flexible and has grooves cut into them to allow a lot of foot flexing. The heel is more stable, but still allows some flexibility. The foam is pretty soft, and the shoe fits very comfortably – everything is soft and feels good. The drop looked slight – later I found it to be 7.0 mm, not bad, and a good fit for my feet because I was coming off a bigger drop and wanted to ease down into a lower drop shoe. I wasn’t ready for a 2mm or no-drop, so I thought I’d break my achilles’ in slowly with these 7.0mm drop shoes first.

I went home, got online and ordered a size 11 at Ebay and waited for them to arrive. It is always a risk when ordering shoes online. Heck, if I’m in a shoe store I try on twenty different shoes before I choose one. I didn’t have a good expectation that these shoes would fit when they arrived, but I hoped. When they came in the mail I tried them on and immediately jumped back onto eBay to buy 2 more pair of the same shoes in the same size! They fit perfectly. I didn’t even know whether they would work well on the trails I had in mind for them, but I didn’t care. Finally I actually had trail running shoes that fit.

I wore the first pair – the blue and black you see in the video – over the next 5-6 months. I ran up and down a 6 mile long very technical mountain trail with them as well as running on the flat concrete at the park about the same number of times. Add to that about 20-25 trips up 1,256 steps up another mountain and that was what it took to destroy the outside of the toe-box area. All in all, after paying $120 USD for them (the high shipping cost to Thailand got me), I got around 1 workout per dollar. Not bad at all, and I’m super-satisfied with that. These are no doubt the best trail shoes I could have found for my feet with the scant resources I had.

If you need a wide toe-box and you run up trails and want something minimalistic, but not ridiculous like Vibram 5-Fingers – get a pair of these Nike Free 7.0 v2′s. They are lightweight, strong, flexible, and very stable if you’re a forefoot striker. There is absolutely nothing in the heel for stability except the sole – which is flared a bit. I have not twisted my ankles at all in these shoes and that is REALLY saying something because with my New Balance running shoes I wore on the trail prior to this I twisted my ankles regularly.

You might look at the tread of these shoes and laugh. You might think they couldn’t possibly be used for a technical trail. I have to tell you, they are perfect for the very rooty, sandy, rocky trail that I run on a few times a week. I can’t use a tread that has the real grippy arrow things like the new Solomons because I’ll be hanging up on roots and rocks too much. These have just the right amount of grip so I can go fast over the hard packed dirt, sand, rocks, or roots. Probably if I had originally started running my trail in Solomons with the grippy tread, and then tried to switch to these – I’d have balked. Having done it the other way, I know I couldn’t run in a trail shoe with a very grippy and knobby tread.

Nike Free 7.0 v2 Trail Running Shoes Specs:

Sizing – These run true to size. I take between a 10.5 and 11. I bought the 11 men’s and it fits perfectly for length.

Toe Box – These run wide. If you need a wider shoe – get this, you will probably be very happy with it.

Stability – Great. The sole flares out at the forefoot and heel to give added stability. It works incredibly well for forefoot strikers on the trail.

Durability – Average to good. I got 100+ workouts – very hard workouts – out of these shoes. I’m very satisfied.

Price – $60-90 on Ebay. Hard to find elsewhere.

Colors – Red/Grey; Blue/Yellow; Blue/Black; White/Orange; Grey/Black; White/Black; and sorry I didn’t pay attention to women’s colors other than remembering there is a Teal/Blue.

Availability – You will probably have a very hard time finding these shoes as they are from 2010. Still, there are some on Ebay and some in places like Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam if you happen to be traveling Asia and want to pick up some cheap shoes.

Nike Free 7.0 v2 Review Video:

Anton Krupicka – the Simple Life

This is a new video that just popped up on YouTube. I’ve been following “Tony” Krupicka for a while as my ultra-running obsession started a few months ago. Tony seems like a very likable guy, and he’s very accomplished in the sport of ultra-running. I never really had a role-model to look up to when I was younger, so I tended to use athletes to motivate me to do better, do more right than wrong. People like Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Arnold Swarzenegger, James Fixx, and others – became my childhood heroes because I didn’t have any real-life heroes.

Anyway, at 47 years old I can’t say there’s been anyone I’ve looked up to for at least twenty years. Anton is one of those people I’ve found in the ultra-running community that seems like a solid guy. There are a number of ultra-runners that I think I’d like to get to know on a personal level. Maybe someday in the future. For now, enjoy this video of Anton and his girlfriend as they run and make food together. Quite a different piece of Anton’s life here. Good to see more of the big picture.

Pushing yourself beyond normal athletic performance. Motivation and techniques to help you crank.