Run Like Monkey

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Nathan Endurance Hydration Vest Review Posted

Posted by scott on April 4, 2011

I wrote up a detailed review of the Nathan Endurance Hydration Vest I have been testing lately.  It makes some nice incremental improvements over the HPL #020 vest that has been so fantastic.  But it doesn’t lose any of the #020’s goodness!


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Fargo Marathon Recon Run

Posted by scott on March 2, 2011

I had my coldest run of this winter in Fargo last weekend:  -15 degrees F air temp / -28 degrees F windchill.  Layered up and no problems over 14 miles:


I was in Fargo for a hockey tournament, but took some time out to do a recon run on 8 miles of the Fargo Marathon route for Neil, who is considering that race.  I was giving him a hard time about doing it, but now I feel a little bad.  It was no Superior or Twin Cities route for me, but it was an enjoyable, low-brow run with a small-town feel.  It reminded me of a 22-miler I did through Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa while training for Grandma’s Marathon.

The mileage I did was in the middle and was very residential.  My guess is you would have a lot of spectators for most of the route.  I did brief segment that went through the quaint area of downtown Fargo and that was nice; though I would be tempted to stop at Sammy’s pizza and risk a DNF.

I think I even ran the “hilly” parts of the course – which were actually just running the dips of underpasses.  I think the thighs will be alright on this one.

Anyhow, this is definitely a flat and fast course.  Though I’m not really fast on any course.

I also had a successful test of keeping food and hydration warm:  I took water bottles and Gatorade, put them upside down in wool socks (so any freezing wouldn’t freeze the lids in place, it would be at the bottom), put gels and Clif bars in the socks, added hand warmer packets, and then stuffed them in my Nathan Endurance vest.  They stayed room temperature and drinkable for 2+ hours in -15F temps, very cool!

Posted in Races, Training | 1 Comment »

Surf the Murph

Posted by scott on November 4, 2010

I posted a race report from the Surf the Murph 50k with all of the gory details.  If you have limited patience, here is the video version:

What a great time!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Monkey Diet and Vespa Power

Posted by scott on October 8, 2010

I’m in the middle of a nutrition experiment.  I’m normally not a big fan of dieting or formal diet plans, which is no surprise since I’m also not very interested in formal running/training plans.  But I’m on a short-term mission to see how a several week pre-race nutrition strategy might work out for an event.  I became interested in Vespa Power products, and that’s where it all began.

About Vespa

Ironically, I actually got interested because I saw an ad featuring Zach Gingerich, who is tearing up the heavy duty ultras like Badwater and Arrowhead – no small feat.  I immediately remembered an interview with Zach in Silent Sports where he talked about how basically ate “garbage” and thought I should see what Vespa is about.  But after some conversation with Peter Defty of Vespa and Dale Humphrey (a successful local 100-miler), I found that diet is a big part of using their products.

In a nutshell, the goal is to “blunt” your insulin response by combining any carbs with protein or fat.  You also want to avoid refined carbs as much as possible so your body grows more accustomed/prepared to metabolize fat.  Vespa supplements purport to increase the body’s ability to metabolize fat and are taken before and during endurance activity (they are not a daily supplement, etc.).

The Monkey Diet

I am not a huge fan of “diets” (see above).  But I took Peter’s advice and wanted to give Vespa the best chance to work.  I took a look at various low-carb diet plans such as Paleo, South Beach, and Aitkins and decided that I didn’t like any of them.  Too many rules, and nothing that I would stick with.  Of course, they might be more founded on research than anything I would come up with, but whatever.

Here are my current diet rules:

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates – sugar, corn syrup, etc. at all costs; but also white rice, white pasta, white flour
  • Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, of any variety and quantity
  • Eat meat, beans, tofu, nuts, cheese of any variety and quantity
  • Restrict alcohol to only red wine
  • Still drink coffee (but no coffee drinks with added sugar)

I’m following this plan 95% of the time, and have been doing so for the last 3 weeks.  I have broken the rules for things like work dinners where its just not worth it to me to be too strict, but am following it very well day-to-day.

Results So Far

The first thing I’ve learned is just how many things have sugar, corn syrup, etc.  Holy cow!  You don’t realize the reach until you start reading every label and really try to avoid them.  I’m definitely eating healthier in this regard.  I love to snack during the day and have found a lot of great alternatives to what I used to eat.  Fruit also now tastes very sweet to me – its my dessert.

I didn’t enter into this to lose weight, but I’m shocked how much I have lost – about 10-12 lbs.  I have been weighing myself every morning, and this seems to have stabilized.  My BMI has also dropped to around 21.5.

I have been doing my longer runs as soon as I wake up, with no carbs prior or during and I’ve used Vespa.  At this point, I have only gone up to about 2 hours.  Those runs have gone just fine, but they are really not long enough to get my body metabolizing fat.  Hopefully my body is seeing them as a hint, and I can get some much longer distances in during October.

The big test for me will be Surf the Murph.  My goal there is to take in mininal carbs, use Vespa, and see how far I go without bonking.  No specific fuel plans just yet, but we’ll see.  At the very least, I think this eating plan is a smart thing for me to do once or twice a year just as an eating-habits reminder.  But I don’t think its a long term plan for me.

Posted in Training | 3 Comments »

Surf’s Up!

Posted by scott on September 16, 2010

I  might be going surfing!  I am still finalizing plans, but it looks like this monkey might be going surfing in a little over a month.

Sock Monkey in San Clemente
photo credit: Zen Cupcake on flickr

This is a rather unknown surfing spot in the Midwest, that has only been surfed for the last two years.  The “waves” are more gentle than some of the waves you would find on the North Shore.  I won’t need a wetsuit, even though its in Minnesota in late October.  I probably won’t even bring a board.

Any idea where I will be surfing?

I’m invigorated to have another event on the calendar.  I’m even working with Vespa to test out their amino acid supplements for this event, and will report my findings.  Surf’s up!

Posted in Races | 2 Comments »

The Anti-Gear Junkie

Posted by scott on September 8, 2010

I had to first admit that I’m a gear junkie.  I’m always interested in hearing about new gear, and have tested pre-release products for several companies and blogged about it.  And I love all of that.  But in the end, I tend to stick with just a few items and try to eschew the insatiable consumerism that surrounds running as a hobby.
TATTOOED POST RUNNER  --  Delivering the mail in Old Japan (2) 入れ墨
Photo credit: Okinawa Soba on flickr

Do you really need so much brand name, expensive gear to run?  Too many runners really get their heads wrapped up in their gear, and think they can’t perform well, or sometimes even at all, unless they have certain pieces of equipment.  I definitely have a few pieces of what I call expensive gear, that I rely on in certain situations:

  • My Nathan HPL #020 Race Vest is my favorite hydration pack for runs of any length.
  • My Moeben arm sleeves are my favorite piece of clothing for hot or cool weather.
  • I always wear a Garmin, but not sure if my brand new 405 was really worth it over my used 205.
  • My Vibram Five Fingers KSO are my favorite running shoes.  They are the most expensive priced shoes I have bought, and the cheapest by far per-mile.
  • My Petzl MYO XP headlamp is heavy but totally worth the carry for night runs.

Many of these items last for a long time, so were durable purchases.  I buy clearance running gear almost exclusively, and still question the need.  At any rate, I also remind myself that I enjoy those items, but I don’t really need them.

I love seeing Anton Krupicka run through an aid station at the Leadville 100 wearing a button up shirt.

I love reading about Joel’s new Dickensian wool running pants for winter, $3 from Goodwill.

I love hearing that John through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in Chaco sandals.

I had a blast running 18 miles once with just a wallet, shorts, and sandals.

I think you can do a lot more than you think with a lot less.

Posted in Training | 5 Comments »

Saying No to the Devil – Have Fun at Sawtooth

Posted by scott on August 17, 2010

I had fun this Summer with the little devil on my shoulder, who kept telling me that running the Superior Sawtooth 100 mile would be a Great Idea.  I finally decided to tell him no.

L'il Devil

Photo credit: Darwin Bell on flickr (

I had to finally admit that my running has been below even my minimalist standards.  I have done a few decent long runs, and the devil and I even pulled off an epic 18 mile spontaneous barefoot run that was a hoot.  But this turned out to be a Summer full of other types of family fun (like longboarding with the boys), which is just fine.

I agonized for a week or so before finally deciding, and it was a hard choice to make, since Sawtooth is high on my list to complete.  I took a few weeks completely off running after the decision just to let it bake in and stop wondering if it was the right choice.  It definitely is.  I’m glad to have the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run under my belt for the year, that was a great experience and a nice milestone to hit 100.

Fall and Winter are tough times to race for me, as the hockey season gets underway.  It’s fun to think about the  Wild Duluth 100k, or maybe even the Tuscobia 75 mile, but hard to commit at this point.  Maybe I will start puttering with a pulk, and see how it goes.

So have fun at Superior this year, those races are a fantastic time.  Volunteering is a blast if you aren’t in shape for running, its not going to work for me this year.  Best of luck to you if you are running.  Good luck Adam, Susan, John G., John T., Jason, and anyone else who I can’t think of at the moment.  Hope you run safe and have a great time!

Posted in Races | 2 Comments »

Custom Homemade Longboard!

Posted by scott on July 15, 2010

I swear I am actually doing some running to prep for the Superior Sawtooth 100.  But there is too much other fun stuff to do in Summer that I’m doing a lot of other things too.

Our latest project was a homemade longboard skateboard with custom finishes – including Bones Super Reds bearings.  This is such a cush ride, it will glide you right into the sunset!



Good times.

Posted in Training | 2 Comments »

Summer Barefooting and Cross Training

Posted by scott on July 6, 2010

We are finally getting into some great weather and, as usual, I am distracted with many things other than running. My big plans for the very long runs (30+ miles) get replaced with 3 hour runs and trips to the beach/pool/cabin/lacrosse/etc for family fun. And it’s a great trade!

photo credit: jiaren on flickr

I decided to hit barefooting hard this summer and am doing most runs barefoot, and then some in FiveFingers. I haven’t worn “real” shoes since I crossed the finish line at Zumbro, and I’m having a blast! I have had a few blisters here and there when I took the pace up too fast, but for the most part no problems whatsoever.

I had my real test last week when I carefully packed my running supplies to run home from my son’s lacrosse game in Coon Rapids – hydration pack, S! Caps, food, TP, map, etc. – and then left it all at home when we left in a hurry. I was so bummed when I realized this at the game! But then I got to thinking… I had put my running shorts on under my clothes for an easy change afterwards, and I had worn my Garmin. I had a phone, wallet, and sandals – did I really need anything more? No! So I kissed wifey goodbye and hit the pavement barefoot for 18 miles home. I carried my sandals to put on for buying aid in stores and chowed my way home. The pace was slow and my feet were pretty tender when I got home, but it was an exciting experience to go that far barefoot. No blisters, cuts, etc. No sore muscles, joints, etc. I had been waiting to clear 30 miles before signing up for Sawtooth, but after that run, I’m all in!

My summer is also filed with cross training and I love it. A lot of people say there really is no cross training for running, but I believe otherwise. I think anything balance oriented is great cross training. I have been hitting the wakeboard (no crashes this year), and doing a bit of yoga.

I also picked up an Indo Board and am loving it. It’s way more interesting to me than the bosu ever was, and it looks cooler! 😉 Its been hard to get the hang of it but I’m up to doing 15 uninterrupted full squats now. Next up – hanging 10!

Posted in Barefoot, Training | 4 Comments »

Why I Love Trail Running

Posted by scott on June 2, 2010

Photos from an early morning 13 miler last Monday say it all. What’s not to love about scenery like this? I will take this over pavement any day.







Posted in FiveFingers, Training | 4 Comments »