Sunday, October 31, 2010

Luckiest People On Earth

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Terra Plana Achilles: First Review?

They are a bit bizarre-looking, but they may well be the ideal warm-weather running sandal.

And, unlike the Ultra, they have a kevlar panel built into the sole.

In white, they're hideous, by the way; but the black is not too bad looking.  I think a dark brown would be pretty cool.

Thanks to Ian for the link.

P.S.: See the comments for an update (and the explanation for why the linked picture is missing!).

Nike Free Run+ Review

I've got no bid; but if I was in the market for a transitional shoe, or just a regular sneaker, these sound appealing.

Cold Winter Ahead?

Not good for barefoot running, but hopefully good for skiing. ;)

Famous Barefoot Runners: Tegla Lourupe

Clearly I should spend more time following women's running: it seems to be where the best barefooters are. 

We all know of Zola Budd (now Zola Pieterse), but she ran back in the 80s.  There was a girl who won the Cross Country Worlds last year bare foot, but the whine I always hear is, "There are no elite runners today who run barefoot.  Nyah nyah."  Well... (Emphases below mine.)

"Loroupe holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the world marathon record. She is the three-time World Half-Marathon champion. She was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon, which she has won twice. She has won marathons in London, Boston, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Berlin, Rome and many of other cities....

"...At the age of seven she started school, making her run of ten kilometres to and from school every morning. At school, she became aware of her potential as an athlete when she beat others years older at school races held over a distance of 800 or 1500 metres. She decided to pursue a career as a runner, but - except for her mother - was not supported by anyone.

"The Kenyan athletics federation, Athletics Kenya, did not support her at first, thinking Loroupe too small and too thin. However, after she won a prestigious cross country barefoot race in 1988, this changed. She began to train to compete internationally the following year, earning her first pair of running shoes in 1989, which she wore only for particularly rough races....

"...In 1994 and 1998, Loroupe won the Goodwill Games over 10,000 metres, barefoot....

"...During the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, favored to win both the marathon and the 10,000 meters, she suffered from violent food poisoning the night before the race. Nevertheless she fought through the marathon race, finishing 13th, then, the next day, ran the 10,000 metres, finishing 5th, running barefoot in both races, a feat she later stated she achieved out of a sense of duty to all the people taking her as a bearer of hope in her home country...."

Neat stuff.  It's nice to see that an elite runner in the modern era can still be competitive in her bare feet.

Via this nice, well-researched article.

Friday, October 29, 2010

NYC Barefoot Run Video Is Up...

Please visit John Durant's site for his commentary, but the video is embedded below:

Official highlights from the 1st Annual New York City Barefoot Run from John Durant on Vimeo.

Low-Carb Diets And Physical Performance

Fascinating stuff, from "Ketogenic diets and physical performance" in Nutrition & Metabolism by Stephen D. Phinney.

"This second study utilized competitive bicycle racers as subjects, confined to a metabolic ward for 5 weeks. In the first week, subjects ate a weight maintenance (eucaloric) diet providing 67% of non-protein energy as carbohydrate, during which time baseline performance studies were performed. This was followed by 4 weeks of a eucaloric ketogenic diet (EKD) providing 83% of energy as fat, 15% as protein, and less than 3% as carbohydrate. The meat, fish, and poultry that provided this diets protein, also provided 1.5 g/d of potassium and was prepared to contain 2 g/d of sodium. These inherent minerals were supplemented daily with an additional 1 g of potassium as bicarbonate, 3 grams of sodium as bouillon, 600 mg of calcium, 300 mg of magnesium, and a standard multivitamin.

"The bicyclist subjects of this study noted a modest decline in their energy level while on training rides during the first week of the Inuit diet, after which subjective performance was reasonably restored except for their sprint capability, which remained constrained during the period of carbohydrate restriction. On average, subjects lost 0.7 kg in the first week of the EKD, after which their weight remained stable. Total body potassium (by 40K counting) revealed a 2% reduction in the first 2 weeks (commensurate with the muscle glycogen depletion documented by biopsy), after which it remained stable in the 4th week of the EKD. These results are consistent with the observed reduction in body glycogen stores but otherwise excellent preservation of lean body mass during the EKD.

"The results of physical performance testing are presented in Table 2. What is remarkable about these data is the lack of change in aerobic performance parameters across the 4-week adaptation period of the EKD. The endurance exercise test on the cycle ergometer was performed at 65% of VO2max, which translates in these highly trained athletes into a rate of energy expenditure of 960 kcal/hr. At this high level of energy expenditure, it is notable that the second test was performed at a mean respiratory quotient of 0.72, indicating that virtually all of the substrate for this high energy output was coming from fat. This is consistent with measures before and after exercise of muscle glycogen and blood glucose oxidation (data not shown), which revealed marked reductions in the use of these carbohydrate-derived substrates after adaptation to the EKD."

VivoBarefoot Ultra: First Review?

OK, I'm jealous.  He likes them, he got a tiny bit of abrasion, but not bad for a 10k run in new shoes.  (Mr. Sing has a nice name, also.)

He does say:

"Running with Ultra at MacRitchie trail, I do not feel so worry because of the puncture resistant sole so that makes my focus more on my running style and tempo."

This isn't correct, unfortunately.  The puncture-proof part of the Ultra is the sock, for maximum protection you need to wear both the sock and the outer.
Apparently he got these from a store in Singapore.

P.S.: Here's a longer review (from the store above).  Thanks to Mowgli.

"I switch the treadmill to 18kph for the last 250meters of my run... the Ultras can fly if you want it to."

I can't wait.

P.S.  Now I don't have to.  I got a pair, here are my first impressions.

"The Beginning Of The End Of The Modern Running Shoe?"

Let's hope so.  This is in Forbes.  This is becoming mainstream in a big way. 

In a few years, people will deny they ever wore running shoes, just as everyone now says Reagan was a genius. ;)

"No Child Has Ever Been Killed By Poisoned Candy. Ever."

Yes, yet another thing "everybody knows" turns out to be without basis in fact.  Sigh.

Happy Halloween.  And it's not just that the candy is safe:

"...Elizabeth Letourneau, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, studied crime statistics from 30 states and found, 'There is zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation.'

"In fact, she says, 'We almost called this paper, "Halloween: The Safest Day of the Year," because it was just so incredibly rare to see anything happen on that day.'"

Irrational fear of imaginary risk is paralyzing this country.  All of us barefoot runners are figuring this out pretty quick.  Word needs to spread.

(I'm posting this early so folks can enjoy Halloween on Sunday in peace.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Congratulations to Stephan Guyenet

Whole Health Source gets an Instalanche.

Hopefully Stephan can get Glenn to realize that we don't have to rely on technology for the cure for many of our current health woes.

"Don't Eat White Bread or Pasta"

It's a good start.  For best results, don't eat the whole-grain stuff either.  Nutritionally, neither's very useful.  And the bad effects can occur with either.

Follow-up To "Inov-8 F-Lite 195 Review (Short)"

Today I received this comment on the original post:

"The 195 is a performance based minimal trail shoe.  Having a snug fitting last means the wearer can contour without the shoe moving on the foot.  The heel to toe differential is actually 3mm but this forms part of inov-8's transitioning from conventional heel to barefoot story which isn't offered by any other brand.  The 3mm lift relates to a 1 arrow midsole (6mm for the 2 arrow, 9mm for the 3 arrow etc).  Zero arrow models including the Baregrip 200 will be available soon.  Also, there is no condition whereby inov-8 will only allow vibram stockists to stock the lower profile shoes."

Correction made; thanks, Graham. I gather from your comment that you're an Inov-8 employee.

What I'd like to see is a shoe from you guys that lives up to this statement:

"'Our philosophy is not to inhibit the natural function of the foot,' says Graham Jordison, head designer and development coordinator for Inov-8. 'Support is less of a requirement than most people think is needed only through a lack of muscular development or biomechanical function.'

The step-down model is a good one, but for folks who have already transitioned to a truly minimalist shoe, you don't currently offer anything.  The crux of my complaint about the new F-Lite is that it does inhibit the natural function of the foot. But as I hope I made clear in that review, I think you guys make some nice shoes, I really hope that you offer minimalists a great option.

As you can see from this post back in January, I'm a supporter of Inov-8, and part of my dissapointment with the F-Lite is that it didn't deliver what I was hoping to get.

I posted a link to this review at Barefoot Ted's Minimalist group, the conversation is here.

Tim Butterfield Attempts To Zero-Drop His Sneakers

It's not as easy as you would think.

My first attempt to zero a pair of shoes were my beloved Montrail Mountain Masochists.  I'd been running in my Vibrams for a couple of months, as well as hiking and wearing them to Home Depot.  I decided, since I was planning on racing in them, to go back out on a run in the MMMs.

It was a pain.  The heel kept interfering with my stride; I was regularly jamming it into the ground.  So when I got home I realized that I was not going to be wearing the MMMs any more, although they were one of the better sneakers I'd ever owned.  I followed Anton Krupicka's example, bought a bread knife at Walmart (so as to not use one of my wife's bread knives), and attempted surgery.

It wound up like Tim's attempt.  I severed the heel from the upper.  Whoops.

My second attempt involved a rotary table saw and the L.L. Bean Katahdin Iron Works Engineer Boot.  This is one of the few non-military Munson last boots available, and is amazingly comfortable to wear, aside from the heel.

Let's just say the patient didn't survive, and I was lucky to retain all my fingers.

The next pair of shoes I wanted to modify went to the cobbler, who explained, in passing, that severe cuts were the norm when first working as a cobbler.  OK, then.

Vibrams and Busted Toes

Unfortunately all is not roses in the land of the barefoot-style runner.  Or at least those of us who are trying to become barefoot-style runners later in life.  While certain running injuries become less likely, certain others become more likely.  One of the most painful injuries is the busted toe. Nathan asks the unfortunate question at Barefoot Ted's Minimalist group, and here's the answer I gave him:

I may well be the group's expert at slamming toes into rocks. At least I hope so. ;)

My experience has been that you get less hurt all in by busting a pinkie toe than you do when you kick a rock while running in shoes. If you do that, you fall flat on your face, generally hurt your knees, hands and/or elbows.

If you break a pinkie toe, you will curse, but you won't fall, and you won't have to stop running. You will also be able to keep running after a day or two when the swelling goes down.

Unfortunately breaking pinkie toes seems to be a part of the Vibram experience. You do seem to get better at paying attention after a while.

I busted a toe running with Gordo in Colorado; he was in his barefeet. Gordo can attest to the cursing, but also to the fact that I finished the run. I kept running for the rest of the week I was in CO (trail and road runs, barefoot and Vibrams), and continued training for and ran a 200-mile relay race with the busted pinkie toe.

I will note that the Speeds, Bikilas, and leather Treks (in that order) are the most comfortable to wear after you've busted the toe. The smooth interior on these models allows you to slide your toe right in. The KSOs become virtually unwearable, and the Sprints are difficult.

The first toe I busted running in Vibrams was not from hitting a rock.  I turned left, and my dog continued straight.  I kicked him in the leg, and broke my fourth toe.  Lord it hurt.  He seemed completely unharmed, aside from being mystified as to why I was jumping around and cursing.  Having no better idea what to do, I finished the run. 

If you do break a toe, make sure you keep running.  Evolution has ensured that a broken toe will not slow you down, but once you stop running, you're done.  It will swell up and you'll be unable to run for a day or two.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Low-Carb And Longevity

Read the whole thing, but if you want the highlights:

"Professor Cynthia Kenyon, whom many experts believe should win the Nobel Prize for her research into ageing, has discovered that the carbohydrates we eat — from bananas and potatoes to bread, pasta, biscuits and cakes — directly affect two key genes that govern youthfulness and longevity....

"...But what Professor Kenyon found out was why ­drastically reducing calories has such a remarkable effect.

"She discovered that it changed the way two crucial genes behaved. It turned down the gene that controls insulin, which in turn switched on another gene, which acted like an elixir of life....

"...To test this, last year she added a tiny amount of ­sugary glucose to the normal diet of some of her worms that had had their genes engineered so they were living much longer, healthier lives.

"The effect was remarkable,’ she says. ‘The sugary glucose blocked the “youthful” genes and they lost most of the health gains.’...

"...In fact raised insulin levels, triggered by high carbohydrate ­consumption, could be what connects many of our big killers.

"Research is at its early stage, but raised insulin triggers an increase in cholesterol production in the liver, makes the walls of blood vessels ­contract so blood pressure goes up and stimulates the release of fats called triglycerides (linked to heart disease)....

"...But Professor Kenyon herself doesn’t need convincing.

"'Carbo­hydrates, and especially refined ones like sugar, make you produce lots of extra insulin. I’ve been keeping my intake really low ever since I discovered this.'"
I'll note that if you've been paying attention to the 'anecdotes' coming from the low-carb and paleo worlds, none of the stuff in this article will be a surprise to you.

Via Primal Wisdom. Jimmy Moore's take is here.

Wheat, Type 1 Diabetes, And A Leaky Gut


"I realized last week that I often call wheat the most toxic food, but I haven’t really explained why on the blog. The book has a detailed explanation, which focuses on toxicity effects and on autoimmune processes attacking the gut and thyroid. Here I would like to add to the book’s argument by showing how wheat causes other autoimmune diseases....

"In humans, the relationships between these diseases are much the same as in rats. Crohn’s disease and Type I diabetes are co-morbid: the prevalence of Crohn’s among Type I diabetics is 6- to 9-fold higher than in the general population. Meanwhile, newborn children exposed to wheat at 3 months of age or earlier, when the gut is immature, are 4- to 5-fold more likely to develop Type I diabetes."

Training And The Marathon

Do enough.  Not doing enough won't kill you, but obviously doing damage to your heart is not a terrific plan. ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Are The Long-Term Test, Part 1: No One Is Tracking Side-Effects

"Dr Roberts said: ‘It seems that women, and perhaps pharmaceutical providers, are not fully aware of the range of potential psychological side-effects associated with [birth-control] pill use and more specifically brand choice.’"

New Inov-8 Road Shoe Lineup

They still don't seem to get it.  Oh well.  We'll see what the Merrell Barefoot line looks likes soon.  Maybe then Inov-8 will get a clue...

See here for more reactions.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"How to Follow the Paleo Diet Without Eating a Single Piece of Meat"

If you're so inclined, this strikes me as the being pretty much the way to go about it.

How To Walk On Acorns

I think it's fall... Corduroy and acorns.
Don't look down.

But be mindful of wild animals.

Kipling, a regular barefooter.

Good Form and Wear For Vibram Five-Fingers

"I've worn through three pairs of standard KSOs so far.

"First one was 800 miles.

"Second was 900 miles

"Third is about to wear out at around 1,100 miles

"I've lost weight and improved my form over the course of these pairs, which I believe accounts for the difference.

"Generally all my pairs have been been worn through on the outside of the forefoot opposite the ball."

That sounds about right, and is a pretty interesting validation of the notion that with improved form comes decreased wear on your body. Wear of the shoe is caused by friction, and friction implies a shock to the body. Less friction should cause less shock. Of course if you look at your sneakers, you'll likely notice the wear appears at the outside of the heel, not the ball of the foot.

Follow the link for the conversation, and thanks to DocHolliday2006 for the interesting post.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doctor Versus Doctor And Lame Journalists

A colleague sent me this article:

"Q. Other than celiac disease, is there any reason to avoid gluten in the diet?

"A. 'Though the hype continues on gluten-free diets being the panacea for all ills, science still lags behind in concrete evidence supporting this belief,' said Dr. Vandana Nehra, a gastroenterologist who specializes in celiac disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Nehra said it was 'unclear if the benefit of a strict gluten-free diet in conditions other than celiac sprue may be related to the avoidance of carbohydrates and thus eventually to weight control' or was 'merely a placebo effect as individuals feel better eating a healthier diet.'

Gluten, a protein in cereal grains like wheat, barley and rye, has been blamed by some individuals for everything from indigestion to arthritis to depression. However, these people often do not have any allergic sensitivity to gluten, nor do they have celiac sprue, an autoimmune disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with food absorption. Gluten is known to aggravate intestinal irritation in the disease."

There are so many issues with just this part of the article it's tought to know where to start. First, the "if your symptoms don't match our diagnostic framework you must be crazy" approach to medicine drives me nuts. It's not scientific, for starters. Dismissing evidence contrary to your hypothesis is pretty much the definition of unscientific, in fact.  Second, I've never heard a single person claim that a gluten-free diet is "the panacea for all ills", so that's a straw-man argument.  Third, if it's 'unclear' to Dr. Nehra if it's only a placebo effect, she should consult with Dr. Fasano:

"'In your medical practice, how do you determine if a patient has non-celiac gluten sensitivity?'

“'Because gluten sensitivity is not a food allergy (like wheat allergy), or an autoimmune process secondary to exposure to gluten (like celiac disease), the diagnosis is based on exclusion criteria. In other words, people that experience symptoms that are suspected as being related to gluten exposure will be tested for wheat allergy and celiac disease. If they are negative for both, gluten sensitivity is considered. The diagnosis will be confirmed if symptoms resolve following the embracement of a gluten free diet.'"
Fasano is one of the leading researchers on celiac.

I don't mean to pit Drs. Nehra and Fasano against each other, however.  I'd wager that 90% of any difference in opinion between the two of them is the result of the journalist at the Times doing a bad job of asking questions of Dr. Nehra, and of conveying the answers, never mind trying to get more than one source.

Celiac and wheat sensitivity are difficult, complicated issues, and there's a lot more going on than what is conveyed in this New York Times article.

New Runner's Hydration Pack

I've been thinking of getting a dedicated runner's backpack.  The Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 S-Lab Hydration Pack sounds like it fits the bill pretty nicely.  (But what a name!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Inov-8 F-Lite 195 Review (Short)

Not quite there, sadly.
Really short: They're nice sneakers; but I won't wear them.

As you can see, they're beautiful shoes.  I would have preferred the black, but the red is spectacular.

I picked these up last night at the Shoe Mart, which happens to be on my way home from work. 

  1. Light.
  2. Well-made (as far as I could tell).
  3. Good-looking.
  4. Minimal cushioning.
  5. Good ground-feel, for a sneaker.
  6. Sole seems to offer good traction, from looking at it.
  7. Upper is well-ventilated.
  1. 4mm heel lift. [Correction, it's 3mm.  Thanks to Graham in the comments.]
  2. Narrow last.
  3. Big toe gets bent.
  4. Cushy insole, but that comes right out.
So I tried on a 10 (UK 9), my "new normal" size.  I also bought a 10 in the MT101, FYI.  Even in the 10, my big toe felt pressure pushing it in.  Not a good sign.  Nevertheless, after confirming the Shoe Mart's excellent return policy, I bought them and took them home.  I took out the insole (which is not glued in; thanks Inov-8), and wore them around inside for a few hours. 

The heel lift bothered me from the outset.  I found that they strained a muscle in the sole of my left foot, just from walking around inside.  I took them off, put on my Treks, and went for a two-hour run.

The fellow I ran with was wearing the F-Lite 195s, in fact.  He loves them.

So this morning I packed the F-Lites back into the box, and drove to my local cobbler to ask him if he could drop the heel.  "Sorry", he said, "It's too flat.  Can't you run in them like that?  What about [racing] flats?"  I explained that these had the same heel lift as most flats.  Sigh.

Next stop was the Shoe Mart, where I returned them.

I feel bad about posting this review, in a way.  If I had found these shoes 18 months ago they would have been the answer to my prayers.  But after a year spent diligently training my feet to be stronger, and to run in Vibrams and barefoot, these will not do.  They are too narrow, and even the minimal heel lift is too much.  I'll stick to my Vibrams.

A note to Inov-8, if any one from that company ever finds this review:  Regarding your performance last, which I understand is the narrow last that underlies this shoe: why do you think that a last which deforms the foot from its natural motion improves performance?  Do you have any evidence, other than statements from runners with already-deformed feet, that this works?

Maybe next time?
Inov-8 supposedly has a BareGrip model coming out, with zero-drop from heel to toe, and hopefully a better last than the performance last.  If both those statements are born out in the product, I'll buy those.  (Hopefully they'll have a model with a less-agressive tread pattern, too.) In the meanwhile, I'll just stick with my 101s.

[Correction: Mark from the Shoe Mart says in the comments that this is not the case. What I reported above I was told by the salesperson in the Shoe Mart store, but I guess that was in error.] Now, the interesting point I got from my two visits to the Shoe Mart, is that apparently Inov-8 won't allow a retailer to carry their more-minimal models unless the retailers carries a lot of Vibram models.  That's their condition.  I was pretty surprised to hear that, but it's good business on Inov-8's part.  The Inov-8 models were shown in the same display as the Vibrams, right by the front door of the store. 

I also learned that the Shoe Mart can't keep the Inov-8 models in stock, so my opinion may be a minority one.

P.S. Follow-up here.

P.P.S.  The shoes Inov-8 ought to have made.

Problems From Eating Wheat

But people love it.  I'm happier skipping it at this point.

How Not To Bonk In A Marathon

A fascinating post by Amby Burfoot:

"The mathematics in Rapoport's paper are, frankly, beyond most of us (me, anyway). But he has developed an online calculator at to simplify the process. After all, the main goal behind his work is to make "computational marathoning" (my words, not his) accessible to real-world marathoners. He wants runners to understand that The Wall is not an inevitability; it only results from inexact science."

I have a theory that if you have a fat-optimized metabolism you may be able to adapt a different fueling strategy.  Our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably didn't have to depend on finding a nice source of carbs every time they set out to run down dinner, and bonking in the middle of the savannah would clearly not be a survival trait.  Unfortunately I have no evidence to support my suppostion, since most modern competitive runners have adopted a carb-based fueling strategy.

But this issue may well highlight the line between our persistence-hunting ancestors and a modern competitive runner.  It seems to me that if there is a case where "Chronic Cardio" would start to become a problem to your health, this is likely over the wrong side of that line.

I'm not endorsing the notion of Chronic Cardio, btw, and I hope to do a post soon explaining my problems with that theory.

Do Night-lights Make You Fat?

If you're a mouse, yes.  Interesting, and easy-to-follow.  The advice to avoid big meals late at night is not new, but here's some validation of that idea.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life In The Paleo State Of Nature

Not so bad after all?

"The fact that Elvis was so infirm suggests he was looked after by his contemporaries, which BonmatĂ­'s team say is good evidence that hunter-gatherers didn't abandon the weak. He could not have been an active hunter, nor could he carry heavy loads. 'For food he would have depended on sharing what members of the group had caught,' says BonmatĂ­."

"Born to Run" Event in NYC

A little birdie told me that Chris McDougall was green with envy over missing the NYC Barefoot Run.  So he's gone and set up his own event.

I just signed up...


P.P.S.: Eventbrite was having problems with their credit-card system on their website.  If you're in NYC, you can call Paragon and pick up your tickets at the store by 4pm day of.

P.P.P.S: McDougall mentions a special guest related to the Born to Run movie... 

How To "Cheat" On A Doping Test

And get away with it:

"Because glucose intake, and likely food, decreases testosterone, she said, 'This research supports the notion that men found to have low testosterone levels should be reevaluated in the fasting state.'"

You can dramatically increase your testosterone levels just by getting off a high-carb diet?

All those cyclists taking steroids on a high-sugar diet are really missing the boat.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Scientists and Statements Unsupported By Evidence

My friend Mike Lieberman posted this interesting link earlier today, about a fellow who discovered what he thought to be grass-fed beef actually wasn't.

"The real question that is bugging me now is the bottom line: is grassfed healthier? I recently read this article by a real scientist who, although he has no problem with grassfed beef, wishes to dispel myths about it. He claims that grass-fed cattle actually cause a bigger negative impact on the environment than factory farmed cattle because of overall carbon emissions, and he claims that the CLA and omega-3 benefits of grass-fed beef are null and void once cooked. I haven’t done any research into his research, but I’m definitely curious to hear what others think."

Well, unfortunately a PhD does not mean you're a "real scientist".  The credentialed, but uneducated are a plague upon our society, and many of them claim to be scientists.  Giving people the benefit of the doubt no longer seems to be a viable alternative, either.

So let's examine the statements that troubled Kitchen Stewardship, from Dr. Comerford (emphases mine):

"The ‘potent anti-carcinogen’ CLA story may be one of the biggest hoaxes played on the consumer because the values used to differentiate grass-fed from grain-fed beef are from raw meat. Samples of raw grass-fed beef consistently have twice the CLA content as a proportion of total fat than samples from raw grain-fed beef. This means the typical grass-fed steak has the same CLA content as a Certified Angus Beef ®, heavily grain-fed steak because there would typically be twice as much total fat in the CAB steak. However, this is all irrelevant because studies show when the meat is cooked, there is no difference in CLA content because a large amount of the fat is lost in cooking. Even if people ate the meat raw, you would have to eat 176 pounds of grass-fed beef daily to get the level fed to the mice in the original CLA study (Ha et al, 1987). It also should be noted that in the original CLA study 16 of the 20 mice getting huge doses of CLA still got cancer. The dosage of CLA from this study would have to be increased 182,000 times for an equivalent dose to an average person. The whole CLA story has been based on these 4 mice, making this result irrelevant to human health.

His statement about the ratio of CLA in grass-fed to grain fed appears to be correct.  However, the other important difference between the two is the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats.  The grain-fed Angus may have the same amount of CLA, but it would have a far higher amount on omega-6 linoleic acid, which is well-recognized as having many negative effects on human health.  So making up for your missed CLA by eating grain-fed Angus is clearly not a good idea.  Oh, and if you spend a few moments looking over the research on CLA, you'll find it constantly described as a 'potent anti-carcinogen', and there are a lot more studies than just the one that Dr. Comerford mentions.

His statement: “However, this is all irrelevant because studies show when the meat is cooked, there is no difference in CLA content because a large amount of the fat is lost in cooking.” just appears to be false:

“The major changes in fatty acid composition, which implicated 16 out of 34 fatty acids, resulted in higher percentages in cooked beef of SFA and MUFA and lower proportions of PUFA, relative to raw meat, while conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) isomers revealed a great stability to thermal processes. Heating decreased the PUFA/SFA ratio of meat but did not change its n−6/n−3 index. Thermal procedures induced only slight oxidative changes in meat immediately after treatment but hardly affected the true retention values of its individual fatty acids (72–168%), including CLA isomers (81–128%).”

Meat Science, Volume 84, Issue 4, April 2010, Pages 769-777

In other words, the polyunsaturated fatty acids ooze out of the beef to a small degree.  Dr. Comerford doesn't explain why this would happen to a greater degree in grass-fed rather than grain-fed beef.

Similarly, this document, titled "Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Dietary Beef" from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association states: "CLA in meat is stable under normal cooking and storage conditions."

Dr. Comerford goes on:
"Similarly, the Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acid ratio is an important feature of fat intake in humans. The recommended daily intakes of Omega-3 fatty acids from the World Health Organization of 1.1 to 1.6 grams/day show it would require a person to eat 4 1/2 pounds of cooked grass-fed beef daily to meet the minimum daily requirement. Therefore, any speculation that eating grass-fed beef will enhance human health due to Omega-3 fatty acid consumption is clearly incomplete at best, and usually false."

Again, no evidence provided to support the statement. 

Now, this page states that the WHO actually recommends 0.2 to 0.5 gram per week of omega-3 [corrected] fatty acids.  That's a half pound to 2.25 pounds a week of beef.  One quarter-pounder of grass-fed beef per work day and you're good to go for your omega-3 [corrected]; not 31.5 pounds of beef a week.

Dr. Comerford may well be the only beef specialist who believes this particular statement, in fact:

"The data obtained from this study demonstrate that high grass intake resulted in a higher polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA):saturated fatty acid ratio and a lower n-6:n-3 PUFAratio in intramuscular fat of steers than in that of similar steers fed concentrates. Moreover, a higher concentration of conjugated linoleic acid was observed for grass-fed steers than for steers fed silage and(or) concentrates, when grown at similar carcass growth rates. These data imply that the fatty acid profile of intramuscular fat in beef can be improved from a human nutrition perspective by the inclusion of grass in the diet."

Also, he does not discuss the difference in the ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids in grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef. We know that high intake of n-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid specifically) is linked to weight gain and cancers in animals and humans. Wouldn’t eating foods reflecting a more normal balance of n-3 to n-6 seem wise in light of that?

The primary problem is that linoleic acid consumption is cumulative, so if you're always eating excess amounts of it, it will add up.  You will eat a little bit everyday, as it's a normal part of our diet.  But you want to minimize its consumption.

So I don't know what's up with this fellow.  I found another comment he made:

"Dr. John Comerford wrote on Jun 1, 2009 11:06 AM:

"We in the academic community should be very careful crediting grass-fed beef as a healthy product to humans. I am a preponent of the product, but I also know there is no scientific evidence to support grass-fed beef as any more healthy to humans. The one exception is possibly the Omega-6: Omega 3 ratio in the fat, but we also know it will take SIX raw quarter-pounders a day to meet the MINIMUM RDA of Omega-3 fats. After they are cooked, it will take even more because of the loss of the fat in cooking. This is also the problem with CLA in this product. There is very little there in the raw product and it is nearly eliminated by cooking, while the only clinical data related to health used 100 times the amount in the raw product. Let's stick to the important-and true-stuff. It is local, it is produced in a pasture environment, and it promotes the use of grasslands. These are features consumers will pay for. "

Guess what the Recommended Daily Allowance of meat-based omega-3 fats is?  Zero.  That's right, there is no RDA for meat-based omega-3 fats.  I'm beginning to think this guy is just making it up as he goes along.

P.S.: Got the omega-6 mixed up with omega-3 above.  Marked where corrected.

Tongue Patch Diet

This is moronic.

"A California plastic surgeon has come up with a new method for weight loss.

"Dr. Nikolas Chugay can surgically apply a patch onto your tongue which will make eating difficult, therefore you will lose weight."

"Going to the well and seeing God"

Great title for a typically good post.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp Review

Reviewed by iRunFar.

I've got one of these.  It's real nice aside from the lack of a replaceable battery.  If  you're looking for a lamp that you can recharge on a long over-night run, for instance, this is not for you.  Also, if you're looking for a dedicated trail-running light, you might want one that's a bit brighter.

But if you run at night occasionally, mostly on the road, as I do, you'll never regret this purchase. 
I used it for the Reach the Beach relay race, and it worked perfectly.

Partially vs. Fully Hydrogenated Oils [by Dummies]

If you want the conventional wisdom, go here

(If you're going to title your post "for Dummies", at least get your facts right.)

Even unhydrogenated industrial vegetable oils are bad for you. Fully saturating them does not make them better either. Scientists use Crisco to make rats really sick, and corn oil works nicely to replicate Metabolic Syndrome. Olive oil is fine, but soybean, cottenseed, canola, and especially corn oil are basically toxic in the quantities most Americans consume. Animal-based natural saturated fats like butter, lard, or tallow are fine, however, despite what the authorities have been telling you.

If you want to learn the facts about industrial vegetable oils like soybean, corn, canola, cottonseed, or any other oil that contains high amounts of linoleic acid, go to Stephan Guyenet's site and start reading.  It'll open your eyes.

What's For Dinner?

This is looking good

We just got a delivery of beef from a local grass-fed beef farmer.  May be time to give this recipe a shot...

Bread Was Around 30,000 Years Ago?

This is bread, very broadly defined.

"The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal on Monday, indicate that Palaeolithic Europeans ground down plant roots similar to potatoes to make flour, which was later whisked into dough."

So gnocchi is Paleo? Sweet. (At least potato gnocchi, anyway.*)

This is kind of a dopey article, actually:

"The findings may also upset fans of the Paleolithic diet, which follows earlier research that assumes early humans ate a meat-centered diet."

I just listened to an interview with Loren Cordain, who said that people have probably been eating starchy tubers for a very long time. Robb Wolf and Stephan Guyenet have been making the same point for as long as I've been listening to and reading them.

So this more reflects the reporter's ignorance about the Paleo diet than a finding that reflects on the Paleo diet's validity.

"Fans" of the Paleo diet will likely not be upset at all.

But it's interesting. Thanks for sharing, Steve.

*Potatoes come from the New World, not Europe. They wouldn't have had potatoes 30,000 years ago in Europe. But it was a good line.

P.S.: Here's more info, with a complete list of the plants.  It's the sort of stuff you'd expect a hunter-gatherer to be eating.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meb Keflezighi In The Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Keflezighi was born in Eritrea and escaped the worn-torn nation with his family, arriving in California when he was 12. He discovered running in America, earned a full scholarship to UCLA and trained through the American system, becoming a citizen in 1998.

Many credit him as one of the athletes who helped to restore United States' prominence in distance running on the world stage —a goal he explicitly set for himself.

"Still, after Mr. Keflezighi snapped a 27-year drought for American men in New York's marathon last year, the doubters surfaced again, this time in the mainstream media: Should his victory really count for the United States?

"Mr. Keflezighi publicly shrugged off such speculation at the time. He had heard similar things before. And he has heard it since.

"But last month, as Mr. Keflezighi contemplated the exchange while he prepares to defend his title in New York City on November 7, his voice broke.

"'I was happy, I was so proud,' he said. 'I was hoping to be on the Wheatie Box, you know? Somebody just says you aren't an American.'

"He looked away, his eyes filled with unexpected tears.

"'I couldn't believe it when he told me that.'"

Let's be clear. What really makes you an American is a love for this country, and for what it stands for. It seems pretty clear to me that this is a great American. I'll never forget Meb pointing at the U.S.A. on his jersey and signalling the crowd to cheer as he ran across the finish line. In New York, city of immigrants.

Good luck this year, Meb. Win it again for America.

Jimmy Moore On "The Vitamin D Solution"

Sounds fascinating.

Jason Robillard's Account Of The NYC Barefoot Run

It was fun.

Exercise Increases Leptin Sensitivity?

This is good news, if it works the same way in people.  Leptin is the horomone that your fat uses to tell your mouth to stop eating.  Wheat and linoleic acid both decrease your body's sensitivy to Leptin, which causes you to over-eat.

So if you're looking to lose weight, this is a straight-forward program: eat less (if any) wheat and vegetable oils, and exercise more.  All three together should have a dramatic impact on appetite.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Cancer Caused By Modern Man..."

Basically correct, but we know from doctors working in primitive areas that cancer did occur.  Types of cancer and frequency have changed as we've modernized.

But yeah, it's a good idea to start thinking about what we are doing differently from our ancestors...

Humans as Kudzu

A fascinating take on human propagation across the planet:

"You'd think that the fact that we're adapted to Africa in a way we aren't adapted to anywhere else would be an advantage, but it turns out not to work that way. The overwhelming factor, for H. sapiens as well as stink bugs, is that our native range is adapted to us -- humans or bugs become dangerously invasive when we can escape not just the limited space of our native range, but the constraints on our population that come from other co-native species: predators or parasites (including diseases)."

Marathon Coach Goes Barefoot

He's even a Race Director.  We're becoming the mainstream.

Thanks to Barefoot Ted, who will never let himself be mainstream. ;)

Never Follow A Podiatrist's Advice On Shoe Selection

More evidence:

"Podiatrist Denise Lewins agrees barefoot running - or as close to it as you can get while protecting your feet - can work for people with a balanced foot and leg 'but if you aren't perfect, running shoes help with stability and control'."

Is there any evidence to support that statement, Dr. Lewins?  (I have to confess, I've never heard this bit about "a balanced foot and leg" before...)

There certainly are some folks who need to wear shoes, folks with peripheral neuropathy, for instance.  But even they would benefit from a barefoot-style shoe that encourages strong feet, I strongly suspect.  I'm not aware of any condition that benefits from permanently wearing supportive shoes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Sally Fallon Wants To Soak My Nuts!"

Pretty funny stuff.  "A practical husband's guide to surviving 'Nourishing Traditions'."

Achieve Immortality, Become A Happy Meal

They don't spoil.

Duh.  Food spoils.  Industrial seed oils are a preservative, and a toxin.  That's why the Happy Meal doesn't spoil.

If it doesn't spoil, don't eat it.

Oh No, Here They Come

Barefoot running featured in O, The Oprah Magazine. Via Soft Star's Facebook page.

We're officially mainstream.  Sigh... ;)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Runners World" Accepts Minimalist Running

"Is Less More"?  Yes, it is.

"'I pushed the cushioning trend as much as anyone,' the broad-shouldered [Benno] Nigg says in his Swiss accent. 'And I take the blame for pronation devices as well.'"

Good for you, Dr. Nigg.

New Interview With Dr. Cordain

"Accordingly, they and their message are vulnerable to human biases, errors and frailties."

This is coming from the guy who recommended spritzing your meat with flax seed oil before broiling.*  I've got bad news, Dr. Cordain, we're all vulnerable to human biases, error and frailties.  If you think you are exempt, you really need to go look up the word hubris.

Part One of the interview.  Via Matt Metzgar.

*Flax seed oil goes bad if heated, let alone broiled.

Cool News For Skiiers

Colorado's got some snow.  Jay Peak in Vermont is forecast to get some tonight, as well.

I spend a lot of time skiing in the winter.  I also trail run up and down ski trails, and have an alpine ski-touring (randonee) rig that I use a lot. 

Additionally, most of my diet and health issues appeared during ski season, when I was eating the most processed/restaurant food at the ski resorts.

"Children Don't Run with Garmins, So Why Do We?"

A great post by Harry

"So how did so many of these Americans run so fast from 1979 to 1989? Obviously there are many factors to consider but from what I’ve read and researched, these runners would 'run by feel,' and often did not adhere to a rigid set daily schedule, or record every split second using a GPS or Garmin-type device. Sure, they ran everyday but they monitored their bodies and performance based on effort level and feel."

This has prompted a spirited discussion over at the Minimalist google group. (Harry cross-posts a lot of his stuff.)

More Minimalist News From The Chicago Marathon

Eric Vouga's feet
Nice work. Congratulations, Eric Vouga.

More Reasons To Eat Only Real Food

Trans Fats Boost Baby Obesity?

"Researchers, whose results appear in the early online edition of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that infants whose mothers consumed more than 4.5 grams of trans fats per day while breastfeeding were twice as likely to have high percentages of body fat, or adiposity, than infants whose mothers consumed less than 4.5 grams per day of trans fats.

"The researchers investigated different fatty acids, but determined trans fats to be the most important contributor to excess body fat. 'Trans fats stuck out as a predictor to increased adiposity in both mothers and their babies,' said study co-author Alex Anderson, assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences."
Read the whole post, and follow his advice.

Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Follow-up to "Vibrams Taking Off In The Military"

Justin's better graphics
Birthday Shoes has a great post on this as well, with some first-person accounts.  The Army PT test may not allow Vibrams because they're an "unfair advantage", but lots of soldiers seem to be wearing them anyway.

Plus Justin has better graphics than I do.  OK, Justin has graphics.

Original post.

Celiac Disease Information

A list of the publications of:

Dr. Peter H.R. Green
Director of The Celiac Disase Center at Columbia University

Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Physicians & Surgeons
Columbia University Medical Center

I have no idea if this list is comprehensive...


Great post. A good reminder that barefeet are far from a panacea.

You Are What You Eat

Literally, in this case:

"Children in Burkina Faso likely got many of their healthy digestive bacteria from their mothers’ birth canals and skin, as well as from their environment, such as from the termites they sometimes eat.

'We’re not saying you should eat termites,' Cavalieri says. But, he says, people could get those healthy gut bacteria from new probiotic pills that could be developed in the future."

So you eat a termite and the termite's gut bacteria can find a home in your tummy, helping you eat.

Perhaps this is why gorillas, who eat a steady diet of fibrous plants, also eat lots of ants and termites.

I guess we should be eating termites, at least until those "new probiotic pills" are developed.

Thanks to Thodin for the link.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Things You Shouldn't Put On Your Blog...

If you're a sponsored athlete:
"Wore some new kicks that put an instant spring in my step. Charged up the frontside of Green in a one-second PR of 31:28 (6:20, 12:10, 14:40, 18:20, 22:00, 28:55). Jogged over to the top of Bear then and enjoyed the new shoes' grippiness for a 17min descent of Fern."
Alright, darnit.  New MT101s or Minima wouldn't really be "new kicks", now would they?

UPDATE: To eliminate uncertainty that this post seems to have engendered: Krupicka has been wearing the New Balance 101 and Minimus for a while now.  I doubt that he'd refer to them as "new", just because he got a new pair.  It's got to be a new prototype, IMHO.  

I suggest he shouldn't be putting this on his blog because I hate being teased... ;)

P.S.S: He clarified in the comments to the above post:
"When I wrote "springy new kicks" I was simply referring to the fact that it was a fresh pair of shoes as opposed to a pair with a few hundred miles in them."
Never mind.  This is what's known as "jumping the gun", in running lingo. ;)  Thanks to Doug.

Barefoot Julian Breezes Through Chicago

A nice story.  Thanks for making us all look good. ;)

Unfortunately, this post suggests he may get into hot water for doing the marathon...  Sure enough:

•Participant race number bibs are specific personal identifiers and may not be exchanged with or transferred/ sold to any other person.
•Sale and/or transfer of race entry/bibs is strictly prohibited and will result in the disqualification and/or banning of any individuals involved from future events.
That's not so good, but a minor infraction, in my book.  So maybe he's not making us look good.

Treating Migraines With A Low-Carb Diet?

Interesting stuff
"A report by a physician whose wife suffered from persistent migraines revealed a serendipitous result. Apparently the woman went on a reduced calorie diet consisting of low-carbohydrate protein shakes to lose weight after two pregnancies. Not only did she lose the desired weight, she also 'lost' her migraine headaches. They didn’t return even when she assumed a more conventional diet."

My wife has seen an improvement in her migraines since going primal/paleo.  My migraines were much less frequent, and fortunately not painful, so I'm not really sure if there's been any change.   My first migraine, like most of my maladies during the last five years, occurred during ski season, a time when I was consuming lots of wheat and veggie oils.

Lots of folks report an improvement in their migraine symptoms on a primal diet.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Difficulty Of Being A Doctor

"Because I’m a breast cancer surgeon, I most frequently have to deal with breast cancer screening, which means, in essence, screening with mammography. The reason is that mammography is inexpensive, well-tested, and, in general, very effective.

"Or so we thought...."

How To Design a Trail-Running Shoe

Tony Krupicka's ideas on how to make a good shoe.

"In thinking about the design of this sort of trail running shoe, I start with two central, unassailable guiding principles:

1. The purpose of a trail running shoe is ultimately to improve one’s footing

2. The concept of Occam’s razor: The simplest solution is usually the best.

My biggest issues with the MT100/101 revolves around the midsole...

UPDATE: In light of this post, I think NB's working on a new trail running shoe, beyond the 101 and Minimus.

Friday, October 8, 2010

When Are We Leaving?

Gliese 581g
It's time to start thinking big.

"Pressed during the news conference about the possibility of life on Gliese 581g, Dr. Vogt protested that he was an astronomer, not a biologist. Then he relented, saying that, speaking strictly personally, he believed that 'the chances of life on this planet are almost 100 percent.'"

"How To Start An Obesity Epidemic"

In case you were wondering.

iRunFar Reviews the New Balance MT101

Everyone seems to love this shoe.  New Balance has a winner. 

Bryon is having a give-away contest, so follow the link and you might win a pair.  You won't regret it.

Vibrams Taking Off In The Military

Wow.  I'm just shocked at this article.  Read the whole thing, but here are some key excerpts (emphases are mine):

"The sergeant major of the Army is thinking about training for his next marathon in them, but Army officials have banned them from the PT test over worries they might give some soldiers an unfair advantage."

An unfair advantage.  Heck, the atom bomb was an unfair advantage.  Don't we want our troops to get all the unfair advantages they can?

"Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Cui, at Bagram Airfield, has banned airmen from wearing them with the Air Force PT uniform in Afghanistan, citing their wear as one of the most violated rules on base in a recent edition of the Bagram Express."

That's pretty cool.  Bunch of rebels. ;)

"Down at Kandahar, however, military doctors are encouraging their use and even prescribing them for recovering runners.

"'VFFs are the best thing out there for rehabilitating lower extremity injuries,' says Navy doctor and physical therapist Lt. Cmdr. John Mahoney at Kandahar. 'I have converted a heck of a lot of people since I got here.'"

Wow! At least someone gets it!

"Before his latest assignment, he was the physical therapist for Naval Special Warfare Group 4 in Norfolk, Va. He estimates about 35 percent of SEALs have incorporated Vibram’s toe shoes into their workouts.

Once Navy SEALs start wearing them, everybody in Virginia Beach wants to wear them,” he says.

This confirms what I've been hearing at Barefoot Ted's group for a year.

But then comes the obligatory dingbat podiatrist quote:

"The shoes are not for everyone, however.

"'Very, very flat-footed people should probably not wear them,' says Dr. Steven Pribut, a podiatrist and sports medicine expert in Washington, D.C., who specializes in working with runners.

That should read "who specializes in injuring runners".  We already know that barefoot is the best thing for flat feet.  Pribut is the guy who still has "A Brief History Of Sneakers" on his website, which contains such gems as:

"Within the context of modern athletic-shoe development, podiatric biomechanical thought and terminology have sunk deeply into the psyche of the athletic-shoe industry and the buying public. Words such as pronation, stability, and motion control are now widely used in the description and ranking of running shoes. The significance of types of feet and lasts, the use of motion-control devices, new shock-absorbing materials, and many other ideas have become common as a result of both podiatric sports medical influence and the realization that foot and lower extremity biomechanics plays a vital role in the performance of the casual athlete as well as the world-class athlete."

He's right, they became common.  Unfortunately they don't work.  Even worse, they injure the runners they're supposed to help:

"Every runner in the highly pronated group who wore a motion control shoe reported an injury. In other words, all runners (yes, 100%) who were supposed to be wearing a motion control shoe based on their degree of pronation got injured." [Emphases in the original]

Pribut does have some good advice, but it's sadly far outweighed by his bad advice.  But that's fodder for another post.

"Lt. Col. Kerry Sweet, the Army’s top foot doctor and chief of podiatry at Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis- McChord, Wash., has been monitoring the trend at his base.

"'We have not seen any appreciable — or even noticeable — increase in injuries as a result of people wearing these shoes,' he says, but he adds it may be too soon to tell. 'We’re in a real gray area right now.'

So despite what doctors like Pribut have been telling us minimalists for as long as I've been following this, a doctor who is actually monitoring minimalist runners reports no increase in injuries!  I wish I was shocked.

The article finishes up with a branch-by-branch status report, and a list of suggestions of how to get your commanding officer to allow you to wear toe shoes.  Clearly this is still up in the air in the Military, but the degree of acceptance is, to me, just shocking.

I never figured it would be going this quickly.

Now, just imagine if there was a study that actually finds minimalist shoes to be beneficial to injury rates...

UPDATE: Follow-up post.

Why You Shouldn't Wear Crocs

I looked long and hard at Crocs.  My daughters love them and they're light.  Ultimately I decided they're too supportive.  One daughter went without them this summer, and the other wore them.  The Croc-less daughter's feet are strong and tough after a summer spent barefoot.  The Croc-ed daughters feet are weak, narrow, and soft.  She used to love to run, until she started wearing Crocs all the time. We threw out the Crocs a week ago.  Crocs are crack for your feet.  They feel great, and they make them weak.

Today I find this article:

"Not Such A Croc: Might a Fad Shoe's Health Claims Stand?"

"You've tried to ignore them, but they've spread like vermin. Crocs are everywhere. That's often the way with shoe crazes -- think Birkenstocks, Earth shoes, Dr. Scholl's. Crocs wearers are practically evangelical about the shoes' supposed comfort, but really, how can you trust people who go out in public wearing goofy rubbery clogs with vent holes in them? Might as well ascribe health benefits to chopped-off garden galoshes or jelly shoes.

"Time to call in the foot experts and expose the things for the frauds they are. Except -- surprise -- that turns out to be more difficult than you might imagine.

"Crocs, made of a resin foam called Croslite and listing for $29.99, are featured prominently on the Web site of the Bethesda-based American Podiatric Medical Association ... as one healthy alternative to flip-flops; two Crocs models -- both in the Crocs Rx line, designed for people with diabetes and others with circulatory and foot ailments -- recently have been awarded the APMA Seal of Acceptance. The APMA takes special note of the fact that Croslite 'warms and softens with body heat and molds to the users' feet, while remaining extremely lightweight.'

"Harold Glickman, chief of podiatric surgery at Sibley Memorial Hospital, praises Crocs for their ample toe room, deep and supportive heel cup and secure rear strap. Their loose fit, he said, means no pressure points or rubbing spots, and their nonporous material gives them antibacterial properties that makes them 'a huge asset to those susceptible to infection -- those with diabetic ulcerations, wounds or poor circulation.'

"Glickman, who isn't among the physicians who have partnered with the makers of Crocs to stock the shoes in their offices, began recommending them to patients after he began wearing them himself. 'I found them myself to be so comfortable, a bell went off.' Now he suggests them to people with plantar fasciitis, a painful stretching of the tissue along the bottom of the foot, and to those undergoing bunionectomies or other foot surgery. 'The patient can go right into them post-operatively, bandage and all.'"

Here's a rule of thumb for you: if conventional podiatrists approve of a shoe, it's bad for your feet.

VivoBarefoot's new shoe the Ultra, on the other hand, is the anti-Croc.  I can't wait for it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can You Do The Asian Squat?

This is my favorite pre and post-running stretch. In fact, it's pretty much the only running stretch I do, unless things are feeling tight.  (I generally refer to it as the "potty squat", though.)

Great Ultrarunning Video

If you wonder "Why?", maybe this will give you an idea. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nike Was Right

Patrick Sweeney winning a race
This is how you sell shoes.

Follow-up To "Patrick Sweeney Wins the Manhattan Beach 10k"

Patrick's race report is up.  "...there were quite a few bewildered looks wondering why or how this freak in his sandals was in the lead."  Too funny.

Original post.

How Do Kenyan Runners Eat?

Like poor people.  As noted in Born to Run, this is not a bad thing. (It certainly beats starving, after all.)  The conclusion I've come to is this:

"The really interesting story in the China study (not the hooey in the book The China Study) is that people can be healthy on a wide variety of diets, from mostly vegetables to mostly carnivorous. What we cannot do are the extremes: vegan or completely carnivorous. Both cause nutritional deficiencies.

"The other really interesting thing was that it appears that a few foods cause a disproportionate number of problems. If you avoid those foods, you can eat a wide variety of foods in good health."

What is really interesting about the Kenyan diet is that it contains a fair bit of sugar. I've started to come to the conclusion that sugar isn't the worst thing in the world for you, especially if you're avoiding the common parts of a modern diet that are the worst things in the world for you: wheat and industrial seed oils.  Sugar and white wheat flour combined seem to have a uniquely bad effect on the human metabolism.  Top that off with industrial seed oils, and you're in a really bad place.

The article above doesn't mention wheat as being part of the Kenyan diet, and, since they're not eating large quantities of processed foods, they're likely not eating a lot of industrial seed oils.

But, with all that being said, must you eat like a poor Kenyan to be a good runner?  I really doubt it.  We evolved to run to hunt down large ruminants, not corn kernels.  To paraphrase Larry Niven, corn kernels don't run very quickly.  A high-starch diet is what you eat after you've eaten all the large ruminants in an area.  It's plan B for humans.

Thanks to Thad for finding this, click through to the link to see the discussion.

"Saturated Fat Heart Harm Questioned"

Times are changing...

More on Merrell Barefoot

"The goal is to make Merrell the go-to brand in the barefoot outdoor shoe category, Wolverine Chief Executive Blake Krueger told analysts during a Tuesday conference call following the announcement of strong third quarter earnings."

Cool.  Sounds like they're committed to the concept.

MT101 Review At Running And Rambling

Donald likes it too.

News from the Late Neolithic

Dogs were domesticated sometime between 15 and 30 thousand years ago.

Neat article if you're a dog fancier, or if you wonder about the certainty of a lot of the dates for ancient events that are thrown around...  Lots of speculation, much less fact. ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The State Of Nature...

At the Farmer's Market. Caveat emptor.

New Terra Plana VivoBarefoot Shoes

They both look mighty interesting.  I'd be all over the cross between an Evo and a Croc, as would my daughters.

Pictures at the link.

More from Barefoot Ted's Huaraches group:

"Following the success of the Evo performance shoe, VivoBarefoot is expanding its performance range for SS11 by introducing three groundbreaking shoes. In addition to the Revo, a new minimalist running model, Vivobarefoot has transformed the EVA beach shoe and humble flip-flop into multi-functional, genuine barefoot performance footwear.

• "The Revo – an accessible minimalist running shoe that transcends performance and streetwear

• "The Achilles – a pioneering barefoot running sandal

• "The Ultra – the first fully molded, amphibious, barefoot running shoe

See here for the rest.

Even more, a video interview with Asher Clark (head designer for TP) from Harry.  OK, after watching this, I'm really all over the Ultra.  And the Achilles doesn't look bad either, although I hope there are other color options.

Amby Burfoot On The Upcoming Chicago Marathon

No one is likely to crack two hours, but the reasoning is interesting.

Wisdom From The ASICS Blog

"Q: What is your opinion about barefoot running?

"A: The current barefoot running craze irritates me! I agree with the premise that runners can learn a great deal from understanding the foot strike and body position that occurs naturally when you run barefoot. However, I believe running barefoot should be incorporated as a drill that you do in small doses under controlled circumstances. For the general population, barefoot running is more likely to cause injury than running with shoes. Runners should educate themselves on the construction of running shoes and go to their local specialty running store to find expert help in selecting the right shoe for their needs. Shoe companies make a wide range of models for all types, and you should find the perfect shoe for you."

Sneakers are the 'craze', and have been since the late 1960s.  But of course this fellow has blinders on, since he works for ASICS, and the barefoot running craze threatens him.  "Shoe companies make a wide range of models for all types, and you should find the perfect shoe for you."  Sorry, none of the mainstream sneaker makers offer barefoot-style runners any options. We'd be happy to have them, but they're not there now.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What Have We Lost?

"Homogenization and the detrimental effects of a uniform bureaucracy may make local places and people more legible to governments and other large institutions, but they rob us of something deeper, more profound, and more human. Tradition, folk wisdom, and the particular knowledge of place are brushed aside and replaced with lists and grids.

"Such standardization occurred early on in the field of medicine. As the medical profession first gained a footing in the 17th century, many of the natural folk remedies known to local places were replaced by the conventions of modern medicine. Birth, once the realm of midwives, became an act performed by doctors. Women who once used birthing stools and squatted when delivering babies were now strapped to a gurney. This made delivery more efficient for the doctor and his forceps, but much less convenient for women. Soon women required powerful drugs to stand the pain. Early on women were given chloroform; now they are given epidurals. Lying on a gurney works against gravity, whereas traditional methods of giving birth were quicker and less painful.

"In the West, this folk knowledge was quickly extinguished and is only recently undergoing a revival. However, modern medicine has also brought great advances to human health, and much of its success relies on standardized practice and an elaborate codification of medical terminology."

We really don't know.  Fortunately the Internet is allowing us to route around the intermediaries that have been stomping out our natural, human diversity.  Hopefully that will continue.

Patrick Sweeney wins the Manhattan Beach 10K

In Barefoot Ted's Luna Huaraches. Way to go!

New Balance MT100 versus MT101

When New Balance released the MT100 last year, minimalist runners were quite excited.  The good news about this shoe was that it was designed for famed (in the ultra-running community) minimalist runner Anton Krupicka.  Minimalist features included: a flexible sole (except for the rock plate), a breathable design geared to be worn without socks, and light weight. 
Side view, 101 on top

The problem is that the shoe features a whopping big drop from the heel to the forefoot: 10mm.  Due to the construction of the shoe, this was easily resolved, however.  Heel-less MT100s are quite a nice option to have, especially in colder weather, or while racing.

MT100 original ankle collar
 But nothing is ever perfect in the first draft. There were a few relatively minor issues with this shoe: it was a bit narrow across the front of the toe, and the tongue and the achilles thingy tended to bother some people. (If you look closely at the Side View picture, you'll note that the part of the 100 that rides up the achilles is missing, while it's present on the 101. It's missing because I cut it off with a razor knife after attempting to run sockless in the 100s one summer day. This only took a moment, and significantly improved the shoe.)

I will note that the soles on both shoes are functionally identical.  The toe area on the 101 may be a smidge wider, but this seemed to have no effect other than to avoid feeling like the soles were a tad narrow, which did occur sometimes in the 100, especially when running down hill.

Rear view, 101 on right
Unfortunately one feature carried over is the 10mm differential with the heel.  In the side view photo you'll notice that both shoes have had the heel zeroed (reduced to a similar height, approximately 8mm).  The 10mm heel differential is gone.  The 101 and 100 were done by two different cobblers, and since this is a manual process, they're slightly different, but after a few minutes of running feel the same.
The 101 is indeed wider across the toes, although upon trying them on they felt like they were crowding my big toe a bit.  This may be a function of the fact that I've been wearing my 100s without the insole.  To give my toes enough room I bought the 101s in a size 10, versus the 9.5 in the 100, so I have a comfortable fit even with the insole.  This allows for a bit more protection in the heel area when racing.  There is enough room in the toe to splay my toes when running down hill, and that, along with wearing the insole, allowed me to bomb down hills heedless of the rocks.

Front view, 101 on left
New Balance also slightly changed the tongue; although I never had any problems with the prior tongue, but if you did, rejoice.
They also significantly redid the overlays on the top, and the material seems to breathe much better than the 100 did.  The laces are either the same, or are so similar that I can't tell the difference.
The one welcome improvement is that the achilles-tendon slicer at the top of the heel is much reduced, and the soft liner material (light green in the picture) curves over the plastic material which was formerly so effective at gashing your leg.
I've not tried running sockless in the 101 yet, but hope to have a pleasant time of it.
To test the old and the new, I ran the same course twice, as detailed in my Paine to Pain Race Report.  I won't recap that here, except to note that the modified 100 performed well in the practice run of that course. 
I had only worn the 101 around for about half an hour prior to sending it to the cobbler for a heel-ectomy.  I picked them up Saturday afternoon for a race on Sunday.  Yes, like a fool I took a shoe that I had never even run in once to a trail half-marathon.  It occurred to me while in the parking lot at the race start that I was doing this, and that I had sworn I would never do it again after making this mistake with my Bikilas.  But I had no other shoes, so I really had no choice at that point.
Happily, they performed perfectly.  I wore the exact same pair of socks with the 100 and the 101, and I did not experience any discomfort whatsoever with the 101.  Not a blister, not a hot-spot, no break-in at all.  Kudos to New Balance for that.  I did stop at about mile 11 and adjust the tongue on one shoe, but that was precautionary. 
So I like both of these a lot.  If you can find the 100 on clearance and make the modifications I did, I think you'll be quite happy with them, while saving some money.  Or buy the 101 and, after removing the heel, wear as is. 
My only caveat about these two shoes is that they do have excessive cushioning.  Yes, even 8mm is too much for me nowadays.  The only knee pain I've ever had in my running career has been from the 100s last winter (runners' knee), and two Sundays ago (IT band stiffness).  The IT band stiffness repeated the second Sunday in the 101.  I don't know if this is the result of the 101s or of my weakened ankle (detailed in the race report), so I will withhold judgement.  Ideally I'll do the Paine to Pain course again in the next few weeks in my Treks, and see how the knee and ankle do.

P.S.  Here's my summary of my New Balance MT100 and 101 posts

Here's my follow-up post on the knee issues I had running in the MT100 and 101s.  In a nutshell, the two New Balance sneakers exacerbated an existing condition, but they did not cause it.  I avoid cushioned shoes, and avoid problems.