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Archives for June, 2011

If you’re a frequent visitor to our blog, it’s probably obvious that we enjoy hitting the trails and getting our feet muddy. Trail running offers a refreshing challenge with breathtaking views — and the satisfaction that only a portion of current runners dare strive for away from the pavement.

There are plenty of tips and tricks you will learn after getting out there and doing it a couple of times. However, we wanted to help give you some background knowledge and additional reading material, I have a couple of useful links you may want to read over at your leisure.

First, I wrote up a short guide on TrailsEdge about trail running for newbie trail runners.

As you’d probably expect, Runner’s World has an amazing online microsite aimed at trail running.

Whether or not you enjoy using Active to register for events, the Active news and training portion of the site is great. I’d recommend visiting the Active “Sport Spotlight: Trail Running” section of the website, as there are some great resources available.

Men’s Health tends to focus more on weightlifting and core exercises — but can easily deliver when it come to high quality running material. Here are a few tips published by Men’s Health that will help you survive your first trail running experiences.

Trail Run Crazy also includes information about basic trail etiquette and information about surviving a possible mountain lion encounter. The information is available here.

Clif Mojo Trail Mix Bar Review

I have a preference for the Clif Mojo peanut butter pretzel bar.  I lean towards organic products whenever possible (when exercising or just lounging around).  I believe “organic” has become a bit of a buzzword lately and Clif is not bashful about jumping on the band wagon.

That being said, I really like Clif the company and only ask the companies make an honest effort into giving us good calories.  I say this because the Clif Peanut butter pretzel bar tastes really good.  It is loaded with 200 calories, 80 of which are from fat and the ingredient list is longer than a Twinkies.  I trust that Clif is giving me good stuff.

I love the Mojo bar line with no real preference for the different bars.  I just saved the peanut butter pretzel wrapper for review.  I can easily eat a bar while riding my bike without feeling nauseous.  I prefer to eat half of a bar at a time to spread my calorie intake a bit.  When you are out on a long training day, all of these calories are good.  Give this bar a try; you might be surprised at how good an energy bar can be.

Note: I paid for my last box of bars, after Clif handed me some to try.

Honey Stinger Energy Chews Reviews

Honey Stinger energy chews are a good source of calories while out on a long training day.  I have well documented problem consuming enough calories when I am out on long training and racing days.  I frequently find myself crashed in a corner feeling ill effects from the calories that I tried to consume.  I am happy to say, Honey Stinger energy chews in both lemonade and pink lemonade flavors work for me.  Each pack of 10 chews comes in with 160 calories and 80 mg of sodium.  I can handle 4 or 5 chews at a time.  The chews taste okay and they stay down.

Being nauseous during training or racing is bad.  Honey Stinger products are new to my inventory and have quickly moved to the top.  When Vineman 2011 arrives on July 17, I will be carrying Honey Stinger energy chews and Honey Stinger waffles as I can consume both without becoming ill.

Alameda Runners is all about trying to help casual athletes learn more before embarking on your own physical adventures — and to help share information and interviews with companies that you may not be aware of. Injinji, a specialist company focusing on unique socks, is one of those companies I likely would have overlooked — and this article would have never come to fruition — if it wasn’t for Alameda Runners.

I was able to contact Injinji to learn a bit more about the company’s products and why athletes should care. For starters, Injinji’s unique five-toe-sleeve design is patented and was also awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

“From marathoners to trail runners, mountain bikers to triathletes, Injinji offers a sock for everyone,” an Injinji spokesperson recently told Alameda Runners. “The Performance Series, Injinji’s original and most popular toesock, is ideal for running, walking, cycling, track & field, cross training and other multi-sport activities. Injinji’s Outdoor toesock is perfect for trail running, hiking, trekking, adventure sports and mountain biking.”

The ability to use toesocks along with minimalist footwear, such as the popular Vibram Five Finger shoes, has been a concern for some athletes.  Trying to wear socks with minimalist footwear typically doesn’t work too well, but athletes like having some type of layer of material between their feet and shoes.

“Injinji Performance Toesocks are the perfect complement to VFFs and other minimalist footwear. We recommend Injinji’s Performance Series Liner for minimalist footwear fans. The Liner is an ultra-thin and sleek interface that provides superior moisture and blister protection.”

There are immediate benefits runners and athletes will be able to enjoy if they decide to give these socks a try, according to Injinji.

“Injinji Performance Toesocks are recognized for their ability to provide superior moisture management and healthy digital alignment. The toesocks separate each toe with a thin layer of anti-friction, moisture-wicking CoolMax® fabric. Wearers experience all of the biomechanical benefits of being barefoot, just without the risk of blisters, hot spots and other painful ailments.”

I’ve grown to appreciate the need for a quality pair of running or cycling socks — but Injinji toesocks still look extremely bizarre. Hopefully we’ll be able to give them a proper test this summer, so we’re able to see what all the fuss is about.

You can purchase Injinji products online through the company’s online store or use the Injinji store locator to help find a store around you with Injinji toesocks.

I am not a fan of wearing extra stuff while exercising.  The Hydrapak has changed my view of things for long bike rides.  I do wish the bag came with cleaning instructions for first-time use, but that’s something that can be fixed in the future.

Hydrapak sent us a 70 ounce back pack hydration system for review.  Since I despise wearing backpacks, I decided to review this product.  It is amazing how negative I was when I started out the review process for this thing.  A back pack is not like a water bottle where you wash it out and then simply use it.  With a backpack, you have to disassemble the thing then figure out how to wash it.  I did not have any hydrogen peroxide in my cabinet so I cleaned the bag out with bleach.  I cleaned it a few times to make sure it was clean.  It may have been clean but the water still tasted terrible.

My first trial was a 50 mile ride through the hills, in the wine country, to give the Hydrapak a real test.  It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to adjust all of the straps.  There are shoulder straps, a waist strap and a chest strap.

I filled the bag about 2/3 of the way full, adjusted the straps to snug and was on my way.  Wearing the backpack was a bit odd at first, but I soon forgot about it.  The water tasted like plastic so I did not drink much of it.  At about mile 25, I noticed my shoulders creeping up to keep the pack in place.  I stopped to adjust the straps and all was good.  It was comfortable wearing the Hydrapak for a 3 hour bike ride.  I could not drink the water but I had no complaints about the bag.

I cleaned the bag out a few more times and gave it another try.  This time the water was drinkable and it stayed cool for the whole ride.  I drink cold tap water so I am surprised the water stayed cool for 4 hours in the sun and on my back.

The bag has a pouch for the water bag and 3 other pouches.    The way the Hydrapak hangs, I put a lot of stuff in the pouches and was quite comfortable.  The big pouch is big enough to hold 2 wine bottles.  You will have to keep some water in the bag for it to stay comfortable while carrying wine.

The Hydrapak has changed my view of carrying water in a backpack.  I will continue to use it for my long rides.  I don’t have a lot of experience with water backpacks so I grabbed one from the garage for comparison.  Here are some things I like about the Hydrapak that stand out.

  • The quick disconnect hose
  • The extra front straps
  • The holders for excess strap ends
  • The way the bag fits on my back
  • The size and organization of the additional pouches

Daily deal aggregators are popular among today’s casual Internet users — and athletes are now able to find their own daily deals of the day. Popular service, which most of us have registered with, has its own ‘Schwaggle’ service that helps keep people active.

Deals range from discounted open water swimming and other event registration discounts to food and products. I’ve seen some rather neat deals posted by Active, though haven’t actually made a purchase just yet. It may be worth a look if you need new summer training gear to play with this summer!

If you’ve ever bought something from Active Schwaggle, you’re more than welcome to discuss what you thought about your experience.

A new report from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission indicates the City of Alameda has roads that need to be repaired after scoring a “fair” rating in 2010.

Our island was given a fair rating when it scored 66 out of 100 — the same rating given to the overall Bay Area — on the 2010 pavement condition index (PCI) charts, which indicated we have roads in need of repair.

The city normally does a decent job of fixing major road issues in Alameda, but there are plenty of roads and bike lanes that can provide a rather bumpy ride for us. At a time when local, regional, state, and national governments face budget issues and political scandals, some roads aren’t going to be changed any time soon.

As someone that has ridden a decent amount around the Bay Area, I still find Alameda’s roads suitable for leisurely rides — and hard training rides around the island. Instead of worrying about roads, I tend to be more concerned about the large number of reckless drivers not paying attention to pedestrians and cyclists.

Editors note:  Some roads are worse than others and some of the jogging trails are in rough shape.  I have no complaints because we have all of the trails with flowers and plants along the way.

Mike’s Followup:  Agreed about some of the jogging trails being in rough shape.  You should always pay attention when running or riding, but the trails help enforce this mentality.

Sports Basement plans to spread its growing sports empire further by opening a new store in Berkeley, possibly opening up in the former Iceland ice rink.

Sports Basement currently has three locations in the SF Bay Area: Presidio, San Francisco, and Walnut Creek. Another East Bay addition would prove Sports Basement to be a legitimate force against Bay Area sports stores competing to control a very select, niche industry.

“We were unable to find a space we were completely comfortable with until we visited the Iceland location,” said Tom Phillips, Sports Basement founding partner, in an interview with the Oakland Tribune. “We love the building, its history and its location. We hope to be a valued community partner to Berkeley and the immediate neighborhood.”

Well, Sports Basement will become an immediate draw to the area, though I’m unsure how happy Performance and Mike’s Bikes will be to hear this news. I was a frequent visitor of Performance in Berkeley, and think Mike’s Bikes is just a neat store, so I’m curious to see if either will somehow respond.

Since I’m absolutely addicted to Twitter (@Alamedarunners), it would only make sense I share some Tour de France 2011 Twitter love. July is my favorite month of the year — mainly due to le Tour — and I look forward to what shoulder great battle between Alberto Contador and the Schleck brothers.

Cyclingnews recently published its “Tweeters on Tour: who to follow in July” story, which features 10 TdF riders you can follow this July.

The top three in the list include sprinter Mark Cavendish, “Spartacus” Fabian Cancellara, and contender Andy Schleck.

In addition to VeloNews and Cyclingnews, which are two of the largest sites, there are several other great Twitter resources. I highly recommend following PodiumCafe and BikeRadar if you don’t already follow the Twitter and/or visit their websites.


Triathlon news source Xtri recently caught up with Craig Alexander, one of the most recognized names in US triathlon, who is recovering from injury.  Until he’s recovered and compete at the top-level of Ironman racing, Alexander took some time to chat with Xtri.  (The interview is available here.)

Alexander even showed some love for one of our favorite products, Athletes HoneyMilk:

It’s healthy, thats a great start, and it tastes AWESOME. I used to drink a mountain of chocolate milk anyway, so this now gives me a legitimate excuse. AHM is a great, progressive company that is pumped about triathlon, and I am honoured that they chose me to support. Plus Lucy now drinks so much of the new Strawberry banana that there is none left for me!

Similar to other pro athletes, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that they are just regular people. I enjoy reading and watching interviews with elite athletes, and it’s great to see how are things are going both professionally and personally.

In the spirit of Ted’s half Ironman next month, we’re going to include additional information about cycling and triathlons this summer.