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Archives for July, 2012

Tapering can be difficult for athletes unaware of how or when to let their bodies rest before an event.

It’s extremely important to utilize before strenuous workouts, but is still often ignored.

To get an inside perspective about tapering, Alameda Runners recently asked an expert about the importance of giving your body a break.

Ada Wells, MPT, Physical Therapist & owner of ProBalance, Inc. had this to say regarding event tapering:

“Tapering before a marathon or other long distance event is extremely important as hard training the two to three weeks before an event will not only not give the athlete any additional training benefit, it will actually increase the runner’s likelihood of developing a musculoskeletal injury. Fatigued muscles will be less likely to properly support joints in their proper alignment and will be more susceptible to strains, tears, etc. It is in the runner’s best interest to have the muscles and body rested so that they are at their peak during the race and beyond.”

Often times we like to cover vocal points that are commonly brought up among athletes, and tapering certainly is one of those subjects. I published a story related to the importance of tapering previously, while Ted discussed how he is horrible when it comes to tapering.

Is tapering ‘crucial for optimum performance’? It’s certainly not a topic that will die down soon – and it’s very much something you should follow.  More on this subject in the future.

Now that I work and run in Fremont where it is hot in the summer, I find a need to stay hydrated for my lunchtime runs.

How do I know I need to hydrate more?

My main guess is because I am thirsty during and after the run.  One day, I ran for about an hour and 15 minutes then stopped to chat while I cooled down.  I reached up to brush something off my face and found it to be crusted with sodium.  When you are brushing sodium off your skin, it is a sign that you may need to replace some electrolytes.  Another sign is white streaks on your face after a run.  The electrolyte replacement got me to thinking about hydration while running.

•    Some of the questions I asked myself were:
•    Should I drink fluids before a run?
•    How much should I drink before a run?
•    What should I drink before a run?
•    How soon should I drink before the run?
•    Should I drink during the run?
•    How much should I drink during the run?
•    What should I drink during the run?
•    Should I drink after the run?
•    What should I drink after the run?
•    How much should I drink after the run?

Perhaps, I have too much time to think while I am running.  I am sure I came up with a lot more questions but they left my memory between the time I thought of them and decided to write about them.  When I was working in the Emeryville/Berkeley, California area, I did not sweat as much because I usually ran in 60-70 degree temperatures.

I always thought that when you don’t sweat, there is not as much of a need to replace the fluids that you did not lose.  One day, we had a health fare in my building.  Since we had nurses, scales and paper to document our weight, I weighed myself before and after an 8 mile run that took 65 minutes.  For me that was a difficult run.

My start weight was just less than 150 pounds.  I lost 8 pounds in 65 minutes of hard running in cool air!  Weighed myself every hour for the next four hours and only gained 4 pounds back.  I am not a doctor but I don’t think I can sustain losing that much water weight, every day, for long.

•    To start answering my question:
•    It is good to drink before a run.  If you drink before a run, you have fluids available to lose during the run.
•    I usually start my day out with coffee then drink water for most of the day.
•    Every now and then, I will drink a few ounces of electrolyte drink before a run.  Usually, I feel hot or the need for something other than water.  I don’t have a scientific formula, it is just by feel.
•    I drink right up the run and during the run.  If I am going fast for short distances, I will not slow down to run.
•    I like to stop for a drink if I am running for more than an hour.  If I am running for more than 90 minutes, I will drink constantly during the run.  If I am writing longer than 2 hours, I will carry water and make sure I count how much I drink and include electrolytes.
•    I usually drink an electrolyte or recovery drink after a run.  I have a 24 ounce shaker bottle that I usually drink most of after the run.

They say water is fine to drink, after a workout and you will get plenty of sodium from your post workout potato chips.

That may be true but I used to get a lot of cramps before I started drinking a lot of water, electrolyte and recovery drinks.  I did not like getting cramps.  I am happy to not get them.

I am not sure if I need all of the fancy hydrations stuff or not.  I am sure that I used to get cramps before I started drinking the fancy stuff so it does work for me.  I also get to run every day.  I am starting to accumulate some drink stuff again.  Perhaps, I will do a more scientific approach to my running fluid intake.


My list of items to review is starting to back up so I decided to get out do some reviewing.  I started out with a 1 hour weight lifting session this morning followed by a glass of chocolate milk for breakfast.  This left me pretty hungry before my lunch time run.  About an hour before my run, I ate a Lemon Honey Stinger Waffle.  The first time I had a lemon waffle.  I liked it every bit as much as the honey and vanilla waffles.  I have to admit that I was pretty hungry and in the middle of a stressful morning so the peace and the lemon waffle worked magic on me.
I carried an Osmo sports drink with me for this run.

The Osmo sports drink goes down really well.  Of all the sports drinks that I have tried, Osmo is the easiest to drink, by far.  I drank it cold on a very hot day.  Within 30 seconds of taking a drink, I could feel myself starting to sweat.  It goes down well but it left me thirsty after taking a drink.  The feeling went away after a few minutes but it was odd to feel thirsty right after drinking.  I ran for about an hour and drank a 24-ounce bottle of Osmo during the run.

My thirst was satisfied and I did not feel like drinking anything after the run.  I usually toss down a 24 ounce Gatorade after a run.  Today, I left it untouched.  The Osmo sports drink is low calorie so I carried a gel with me on today’s run.  Lisa from Osmo, tells me that calories should not be consumed from liquids.  That is something that moms have been saying for years.

I carried a Honey Stinger Organic Pomegranate gel and I loved it.  I don’t know if it was because I was hungry or that it was just good.  I usually take a gel and choke it down and hope it stays down.  The Honey Stinger tasted good, went down well and stayed down.  I don’t know how the Honey Stinger will work for long efforts but it does pass the short term test where I can eat it while tired and it stays down.  It also helps that it is mostly organic.

The Osmo sports drink and the Honey Stinger gel are both worthy of a serious trial.  I will be doing 3 hour runs again in September.  I think I will put these two products to the test during a big run.  The reason I try new products on a long run day and not a big triathlon training day is the distance from my car or house if something goes wrong.  Crashing on the bike when you are 50 miles and a big hill away from your car can make for a very bad day.

The Bamboo Bottle is a pricey, unique water bottle that people tend to overlook.

Beyond a novelty item — which is a bit bizarre for a water bottle — is there anything really to the Bamboo Bottle?  Is it worth it? Why would someone want it?

To help figure these questions out, Alameda Runners recently caught up with Bamboo Bottle.

Here is what the company had to say about its product and why it stands out:

“Bamboo Bottle offers a glass bottle that guarantees safe drinking that won’t leach chemicals into your drink – hot or cold. The glass is protected by bamboo which gives the bottle style and strength. Both the glass and bamboo are completely renewable resources.”

In addition to the bottle itself, the company has strong philanthropic efforts towards the environment.

“When you buy a Bamboo Bottle you are not just getting any old water bottle. Your money is going towards a product that is sustainably constructed from renewable resources. You are getting a bottle that you know is safe to drink from and guarantees that your beverage, hot or cold, is as pure as can be. The versatility of the three screw on tops allows you to use it for coffee in the morning and water in the afternoon, without that bad residual taste which makes it a great alternative to single use coffee cups and plastic water bottles.”

Plastic water bottles are common in grocery stores – but they are bad for the environment – and bad for your health. There has been a growing effort to create BPA-free metal water bottles, though Bamboo Bottle went with a completely different approach.

“One of the primary goals at Bamboo Bottle is to create a functional product that is completely sustainable. The glass is made from 50% recycled material, the Bamboo is sustainably harvested and the manufacturing process uses bamboo waste for electricity. Admittedly, the bottle is not 100% sustainable, but improvements are always being made to the manufacturing processes and materials used with a goal of limiting the companies’ environmental footprint.”

With so many water bottle choices available, Bamboo Bottle has a good reason why active people should follow the company.

“Bamboo Bottle Co. is the only company that offers a clean, safe and stylish bottle that is made from the practically inexhaustible resources of bamboo and glass. The versatility of the bottle allows it to function as your do-it-all bottle for hot and cold beverages. Not only that, but Bamboo Bottle Co. is devoted to creating a product that supports a clean and healthy environment.”

As mentioned before, Bamboo Bottle is interested in contributing while many companies tend to overlook what they can do to contribute towards green movements.

“Bamboo Bottle is a member of 1% for the Planet donating 1 percent of sales to environmental organizations around the world. They have also created the giveback program, which helps organizations reach fundraising goals and supports their efforts in giving to their cause. Also, Bamboo Bottle has created the Take the Pledge campaign, where citizens can make a pledge to stop using one time use plastic bottles to collectively help clean up our planet. Go to the Bamboo Bottle Facebook page to take the pledge.”

To finish the interview, Bamboo Bottle welcomes readers to visit the website “for more details on our products, sustainability and manufacturing.”

Bamboo Bottle truly has a unique product, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. I’m all for supporting non-plastic and BPA-free drinking solutions, but many people don’t want to invest so much in a water bottle.

Thanks to Bamboo Bottle for helping out – a review of the Bamboo Bottle will be posted on Alameda Runners in the near future.

Timex Marathon GPS watch

I strapped on a brand new Timex Marathon GPS watch that goes for about $100 on  It is well documented how little I like to read instruction manuals on how to use a watch so I did not bother with this watch either.  I pushed the mode button until it said run.  It was searching for satellites so I figured that was a good thing.  It took a little longer to lock than the Garmin 405 but not much longer.  I had to hit the start button twice before the timer started.  After a couple of minutes of running, I looked down to see what the watch was doing.
It showed 3 readings, elapsed time, distance and pace.  I was happy and kept on moving.  When I checked again, about a mile down the road, I could not recognize the numbers.  It took me a minute to figure out what the numbers meant because they were in kilometers and I never monitor my pace.  At the 5 kilometer mark, the watch beeped and appeared to stop.  I pushed some buttons to get it going again and wound up starting a new lap.  In hindsight, the beep and stopped time was there to let me know the lap time and would have resumed, if I left it alone.


  • A GPS watch for less than $100
  • Can be operated without reading instructions
  • Light weight
  • Great battery life
  • Fits small wrists


  • Reads in kilometers out of the box
  • USB charger does not talk to a computer
  • No HRM but not expected at price

I like the Timex Marathon GPS.  It is a nice light GPS watch that does not break the bank.  It is worth the $100 price tag and the great battery life allows you to throw it in a gym locker for two weeks then take it out for an hour jog.

The Power of Shea Butter!

Alameda Runners is about more than just running, cycling, and maintaining an active lifestyle.

As such, I want to briefly discuss the benefits of shea butter, which is based from the nuts of the African Shea tree. It’s best used for skin care, such as healing scars and skin imperfections, moisturizes the skin, and reduces skin irritations.

There are a wide variety of different shea products, and I’ve owned several products from Essence Unlimited – a small Oakland-based outfit – but have tried other products.  I don’t even think Essence Unlimited are out there anymore, so don’t go looking.

However, heading to your local flea market, in Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley, or San Francisco, you should be able to find a variety of different products.

I look for the shea butter products that are simple; all of my shea butters I purchase tend to have just shea butter and aloe vera, while any of the added junk simply isn’t necessary.  Feel free to purchase products that have added ingredients, but just make sure they are natural – you may find products with root extracts, plant extract, and coconut oil as well.

Shea butter might be something for you to take a look at – you can pick it up at your local flea market, or head to the cosmetic section of a grocery store. You can spend anywhere from $5 up to $50+ for a small container of the skin lotion.

Timmy Duggan, Team Liquigas rider and current US cycling road race champion, also serves another role that is unfortunately widely overlooked: philanthropist.

Duggan heads the Just Go Harder Foundation aimed at helping children become more active in cycling and skiing.  It’s a noble effort to help his home community, and Alameda Runners recently chatted with him about it.

“The JGHF provides scholarships for kids to become involved in cycling and skiing sports. Usually this involves offsetting the often prohibitive program fees associated with cycling and skiing clubs in order to have access to coaching and mentorship, training and competition opportunities. By donating, you will know that you are helping to get a kids foot in the door that could lead to a lifetime of positive development and successes.”

Contributing to the Just Go Harder Foundation is a simple process, and there are a couple of options available.  If you’re local in the Boulder, Colorado area, there is a method for you to help without donating cash.

“Readers can donate via the JustGoHarder Website or by giving old sporting equipment to, who will sell it on Ebay and donate the proceeds. Also, if you know a kid who wants to participate in cycling or skiing but can’t afford it, send them our way!”

Duggan also explained where this year’s proceeds will go:

“This year, JGHF will provide scholarships to the Boulder Junior Cycling Team and the Eldora Mountain Ski Club.”

Why help the community?

“I had great coaches and mentors coming up the ranks of ski racing and cycling. Having access to those people and learning from them taught me how to be my own best coach and I can apply that to anything I do now. I would love to open that door for more kids.”

As Duggan prepares for the Tour of Poland – starting tomorrow – he also has big aspirations the rest of the season. The Liquigas rider will represent the United States during the 2012 Olympics starting later this month, along with the Tour of Utah and USA Pro Cycling Challenge next month.

In case you missed it, I recently interviewed Timmy (story here) to learn about his experience winning the US road race championship earlier in the season.  I’d like to wish him the best of luck the rest of the season, as he’s a talented rider – and a super domestique – and I hope he can find