It may be raining outside, but that's no excite to not work out. Grab some light weights and do this Quick Workout Of the Day!QWOD for Wednesday, October 27th
- 20 seconds of jump squats
- 45 seconds of jumping jacks
- 10 burpees without pushups
- 20 single leg squats per leg
- Pushup-->Sideplank on right side-->Pushup-->Sideplank on left side...keep repeating until you've done 15 pushups
- 50 air squats on edge of bed/couch (butt should graze bed/couch and then come back up)
- 30 biceps curls with light weights (gallon of water, cans of soup, etc.)
- 22 dips on the edge of a bed
- Angled body plank off edge of bed/couch for 45 seconds
- 3 reps of bridges (hips up) with 20 second holds
- 15 burpees with pushups
Smiling birthday boy!
My big 30th birthday was this past Saturday, and I decided to do something selfish and go for a day hike with Dynamic Outdoors, and NYC-based adventure tour company
. I've done two day hikes with them in the past, and it's always fun and always the nature always beautiful. My buddy Zev came along for the trip, along with about 25 other brave souls.
I was excited to try out the hike in my newish Vibram Five Finger Trek Sports, which have a beefier and more rugged sole than other VFF styles. I did a hike last summer with my friend MCheezy in my old KSO's, and while I felt surefooted the whole hike, my feet were killing me afterward and I broke my right pinkie toe. I hobbled around for at least two weeks after that, so this time around I was hoping my Trek Sports would save me from the pain.
The DO van made a couple of pickup stops at 9am, and then we were on way to Wawayanda State Park in New Jersey. The foliage this time of year is in the middle of changing, so we were lucky and saw some beautiful colors once we got a bit north of the city. So the trip was part hike and part rock scramble, which I interpreted as climbing up steep yet not difficult terrain on hands and feet. The key to scrambling is to always have three points of contact on the ground (ie. two hands and one foot) so you're always supporting your bodyweight. I've had some experience with this in the past, but I never found it difficult nor too scary. Until today.
After a short walk on the start of the trail, we encountered a ridiculous uphill, consisting of fallen boulders down the side of a huge hill/mini mountain. It looked as though giants threw down ginormous boulders from the top of the hill, and they just piled up haphazardly to form an unsafe and intricate staircase. At first it looked like fun, but as I began the ascent I found that many of the boulders were unsteady, and there were deep holes in many of the spaces between two rocks. Basically you better not step in a crack, and you better make sure the rock your stepping on won't suddenly become dislodged and tumble down the mountain. As we got higher, the rocks got smaller and smaller, and even more unsteady. You had to use your hands and feet to climb, mostly for safety reasons, but also to help with balance. Every now and again a rock you were stepping on or holding onto would separate from the hill and go tumbling down onto the slower climbers. Luckily nobody was hurt all day from falling rocks, but it was mandatory to give a loud shout of "ROCKS!!!" whenever you sent one flying downward.
A bit further up the hill, once most of the scary rock climbing was beneath me, I encountered a short stretch of uphill at an extreme angle without much to hold on to. I tried reaching for the roots of a young tree, but the roots started to come up. I stuck that right hand back into the dirt, redigging in my other three points of contact , suddenly frozen. I was basically hugging the mountain for my life, knowing that if my foot slipped in the dirt I'd go tumbling down backwards, without much of anything to break my fall. It wasn't as if I was going to fall of a cliff, but more like slide down the hill with nothing by thin trees and hard rocks to break my momentum (and my legs, arms, face, etc.) Luckily there was a tour guide right above me, but when he offered help I realized there wasn't a thing he could do. It was just too steep. I dug back in and made a lunge for a tiny rock, hoping my weight wouldn't pry it loose from the dirt, and was able to keep climbing. When finally I reached a safe-ish area to rest I realized my fingernails were full of dirt, and one of them on my right hand was oozing blood and dirt. Sweet. The pain wasn't so bad, as the adrenaline was still rushing through my body.
The rest of the hike was fairly scary too, but nothing elicited as much panic as that little incident toward the beginning. Not to get into detail about the rest of the scramble, but going down a steep descent is just as hard, if not harder, than going up. If you start gaining just a bit too much momentum, you're toast, and broken bones would be the least of your worries.
The upside to all the climbing was that we got some spectacular autumnal views of the valley below, with yellows, browns and oranges dominating the landscape. Check out some of these pictures!
My VFF Trek Sports did amazingly well during all the scrambling, and my feet were always well protected. My foot did not flex nearly as much as when I wore my VFF KSOs on last year's hike, but I was still more agile than with rigid hiking boots. After hours of scrambling and brief breaks watching the real brave people in our group try to rock climb sheer faces, we finally got a chance to do some good old fashioned hiking. At first we started off at a good clip, and then slowed down a bit to admire the yellow forest. After a while, however, a few of us broke away from the rest of the pack, and began running through the rocky trail. This was by no means safe, but it sure was fun. I stubbed my toes a number of times, but luckily the firm rubber toe covering of my VFFs saved me from any broken toes. Last year I broke my right pinky toe at least once on that hike (is it possible to rebrake an already broken digit?) but this year the same hit into the side of a rock was no more than a 10-second nuisance before the pain went away. I still took many small steps when I ran, and used my Laskially-enhanced eyeballs to avoid any major disasters, but my feet still would have been toast without the Trek Sports.
I definitely did not feel as "one" with nature on this hike as with last year's due to my different VFF's, but it was worth not being in constant pain. There's no way I would have ever run on a leaf-covered trail last year, but I felt very secure with my beefy toe-shoes. They do give you more freedom and flexibility than hiking boots, but nowhere near the same closeness to the ground as with KSO's. The lugged tread definitely saved me from slipping and sliding down the mountain, which leads to this recommendation:
The Vibram Five Finger Trek Sports are amazing for hiking, and all the extra protection on top of the toes is an excellent feature. The tread on the bottom is perfect for digging into the ground, and the ability to use your toes for extra traction is something hiking boots just can't do. I'd highly recommend these shoes for any hike, but would stick to other thin-soled versions, like the KSO, Bikila, or Sprint for everyday walking and running.
My final recommendation is to check out a guided trip with Dynamic Outdoors
! Igor Bass always picks fun yet challenging hikes, and provides trapped New Yorkers with an escape from the city.
I was born a scramblin' man...
I love the fall
Can you feel that? That's the cool weather coming in, tempting people to start hibernating and staying indoors until the spring. That's the feeling of laziness, of people watching TV instead of getting outside and getting some exercise in the fall breezes. Don't get sucked into laziness and give back all those gains from the summer. Stay in shape, and take today to jolt your body awake and keep fit!Today's Quick Workout Of the Day will be fast and no-nonsense, so put in the effort and you will be rewarded!QWOD for Tuesday, October 19th
- 50 jumping jacks
- 50 seconds of prone iso-abs (forearm plank)
- 50 1-legged squats (25 per leg)
- 50 seconds of bicycle situps (alternating legs)
- 25 triceps dips
- 50 seconds of jumping lunges (Mary Catherine's)
- 25 more triceps dips
- 50 seconds angle wall planks per side (like leaning into a partner, but into a wall instead)
- 20 burpees (without pushups)
- 20 diamond pushups
First Annual NYC Barefoot Run on Governor's Island
While I was running the Staten Island Half Marathon this past Sunday at 8:30am, a historic event was taking place on another island close by. John Durant, of www.hunter-gatherer.com
, organized the first annual New York City Barefoot Run on Governor's Island, a small island off the southern tip of Manhattan. It's been used as a naval base and more recently the training grounds for the FDNY, but more recently it's turning into a park for New Yorkers. It's still mostly undiscovered by tourists, making it a great haven for us city folk to get away from it all.The event had celebrities like Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run, and Barefoot Ted, as well as Dan Lieberman, the Harvard professor who did a study on barefoot running. While I can't chime in on the run since I wasn't able to attend, please check out the writeup on BirthdayShoes.com from two firsthand participants.Next year I'll make it a point to be there, though a part of me definitely regrets not being able to attend the inaugural run. If you're interested in learning how to run barefoot or in the Pose technique, check out my Running page and sign up for a clinic!
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Half Marathon
is the fifth and final half marathon in the New York Road Runner's Half Marathon Series. My goal for 2010 was to run all five halfs in all five boroughs, and today I achieved my goal, and man does it feel good! (Though I'm wicked sore at the moment!)I wasn't expecting to do well on this race for a few different reasons. First was that I hadn't had much time to train recently. My trip to Spain got me off my schedule, though I was able to get in three runs since I returned. The next reason is that my best mate Josh (I'm Australian for the rest of this entry) had his 30th birthday party last night, on 10-10-10 (FYI: 10+10+10=30!)
I had to have at least a few drinks to celebrate. Finally, I started developing a stuffy nose and a foggy head Saturday morning, which unfortunately got worse throughout the day. All in all, I only got 4.5 hours of sleep last night, though I constantly woke up due to my stuffy nose.
I woke up at 6am and felt like a piece of crap. I met up with my friend Mary at the SI Ferry and kept repeating how much I wanted to go home and crawl back into bed. But I had a goal to run all five half marathons, and I'd just have to suck it up and build some character. The air was very cool in Staten Island when we arrived at 8am, reaching only in the low 50's. I used the wonderful port-a-potties and then got into my corral with two minutes to go before the race. Phew!The first few miles went by fairly fast, and thankfully my nasal passages opened up and I was able to breathe, though I frequently had to make use of the pocketful of tissues I carried. The course was mostly flat, though there were of plenty of hills that kept things interesting and challenging. The first few miles abutted the water, making for pretty views.I don't think I ever really woke up during the race, but I do remember feeling pretty good until about mile six when I hit a mini wall. I noticed a lot of people passing me, but all I wanted to do was finish under two hours, so I didn't care. Run your own race Benny, run your own race.Things got a bit easier after mile eight, and I remember watching the slower runners go past me on the other side of the road after the turnaround. That kept my mind occupied and my body on cruise control. Around mile 10 I realized I could set a new PR if I hustled, so I stepped it up a tiny bit and planned for a burst for the last mile. I probably ran a seven minute mile on number 12, and before I knew it the race was over. My final time was 1:40:20 for a 7:40 minute mile pace, which was only 35 seconds slower than my PR at the Bronx Half Marathon in August. Not bad for feeling like crap and not getting much sleep!My feet felt pretty sensitive due to the rough Staten Island pavement, and I guessed I had at least one blister on my right foot (yup, it was a fairly big blood blister...ewe.)
The race really wasn't all that bad, but I felt very tired afterward, and was grateful I didn't have to wait to catch the ferry back to Manhattan. I didn't see any other VFF-clad runners on the course, though I did see at least three while on the ferry. It feels great to have done five half marathons this year, and I'm really happy I made it a priority to complete them all. I'm also impressed that I sustained zero injuries this whole year (knock on wood), even though I've run more miles this year than any other my whole life. I truly enjoy running, and I couldn't have done it without Pose running and my Vibram Five Fingers.
Cruising near the finish!
So this Sunday at 8:30am I'll be running my fifth and final half marathon of the year, thus accomplishing my 2010 goal of running all five NYRR 5-Borough Half Marathons. A few years ago I couldn't even run two miles without knee pain, but today I run pain free and HAPPY due to Pose running
and my Vibram Five Fingers
.Today's Quick Workout Of the Day is just a run outside. You'll be doing a fartlek (tee hee), which is a combination of anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Basically you'll be running at your normal pace, then picking up the pace to a sprint for a short time, then back down to normal pace. It will give you a better workout than just running at one average pace, and it will actually make you a faster runner overall. Bring a stopwatch and give it a go - let me know how it worked out for you!QWOD for Saturday or Sunday, October 9th or 10th
- Run 2 minutes at an easy pace
- Sprint for 30 seconds
- Run 2 minutes at an easy pace
- Sprint 30 seconds
- Run 2 minutes at an easy pace
- Sprint for 30 seconds
- Run 2 minutes at an easy pace
- Sprint 30 seconds
VFF's on the NYC subway
My kickbutt bootcamper Melanie sent me this link to an article in the Gothamist
, a local NYC blog. I guess someone spotted a VFFer on the subway and was taken aback by the awesomeness that is the KSO's. Very funny stuff!
MAZ store in Barcelona
I was in Spain this past week touring Barcelona, Sevilla, and Madrid for one of my last vacations before our daughter arrives in February. It was an amazing trip, and I got to eat new types of food, see some amazing architecture, and discover a new brand of minimalist shoes. Whaaaa?Yes folks, there are a handful of alternatives to Vibram Five Fingers out on the market, with new brands popping up every week. New Balance and Merrell are just two of the major shoe companies coming out with minimalist shoes in the new few months. The pair that I found, similar to the Brazilian Jinga shoes, was the Brazilian-made Maz sneaker. When I saw them in the store in Barcelona, I got all excited because there was a pair on display rolled up in a ball, just like a sock. Sweet!After finding my size, I bought a pair of the green ones for 39 Euro, and went for my first outing in them later that evening. They fit great, and felt like a pair of slippers while walking around. The toe box is regular size, which means my pinky toe was a tad bit smushed into the other toes, but that's expected from all shoe brands (save for Vivo Barefoot shoes.) The flat, thin sole allowed me to feel the ground even better than with VFF's, so I was able to get a real "feel" for Spain (punny, but true!)Because they are light and not as robust as most shoes, they probably should not be used for running or anything too strenuous. I basically wore my new pair nonstop for the whole trip, and the front toe of my right shoe is starting to separate from the sole. Am I disappointed? A little bit. Am I surprised? No. I'd love to figure out a way to make them a little more robust so I could use them for all sorts of different activities, but for now I'll stick to just roaming the streets of Spain and NYC in them.My wife really wanted a pair, but they didn't have the right size/color combo in the Barcelona store. When we went to Sevilla, we tracked down the Maz store there, but unfortunately they didn't have the right size either. Then on our last full day in Spain, this time in Madrid, we went to the location of Calle Fuencarall (awesome street for clothes shopping, by the way) and she found an awesome pair of Maz's that she really liked. That night we roamed Madrid's streets in matching shoes (awww, how cute). She also really likes her new kicks, we both highly recommend Maz sneakers for the minimalist enthusiast.
Wrong end of an elephant
My green Maz's
Maz's are flexible!