More Than Just Buzzwords: Altra Running’s Olympus Shoe Review

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When something hasn’t changed for decades, and a company comes along claiming they suddenly know how to do it better, I’m usually a little skeptical.

Skepticism was my first reaction when I heard about the Altra Running Shoe company. All of Altra’s shoes follow a few main, unique philosophies:

  1. They are “Zero Drop,” meaning the heel and the forefoot are the same distance from the ground (Side Note: This has nothing to do with the minimalist craze. All of Altra’s shoes are fully cushioned as well).
  2. They utilize a “Foot Shaped” toe box. You have to really see it to fully understand, which you can do here. Basically instead of the toe-box cutting down on and compressing the toes, your toes can relax and spread out in a larger area.

Both of these philosophies go against the grain, and when made standard across the entire brand, the buzzwords had me a bit concerned.

I’ll be honest, it took me awhile to even consider giving Altra shoes a shot. It wasn’t until I received a free pair to test out as part of the Runner’s World Half and Festival a few months back, that I even put a pair on my feet. I should note here that I wasn’t required to write about the shoes, and will not receive any additional benefits for sharing my thoughts.

I chose the Olympus trail shoes for my trial, because at that point, I was running the majority of my miles in Hokas, and I thought the max cushioned Olympus would be a good option for comparison purposes. Over the course of 3 weeks leading up to the Runner’s World event, I put about 50 training miles on the shoes and wore them for all 35 miles of a 50k.

The cliff notes for this review would tell you that I really like these shoes. A lot. And after meeting with the owners in Bethlehem, hearing their story, and listening to the philosophy behind the shoe, I like them that much more.

But you don’t read blogs for the cliff notes, right? Let’s get down to the details.

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What I’m Looking For and How The Olympus Stands Up

Here are the 5 things I’m looking for in a shoe, and how the Altra Olympus shoes hold up.

1) Comfort

First things first, a shoe has to be comfortable. I want to slip my foot in and immediately feel like I can wear that shoe for several hours of running. The slightest discomfort will amplify over the miles, making a shoe not even worth trying.

How They Stand Up

If I were to tell you these were the most comfortable running shoes I have ever worn, I wouldn’t be exaggerating. They’re fantastic. A few things of note:

  • The toe box is where it’s at. It takes awhile for your toes to get use to all that extra room, but once they do, you can feel them relaxing and spreading out. It’s very freeing.
  • The max cushion in the Olympus gives the same “running on clouds” feel that that I loved in the Hokas.
  • My heel locks in perfectly in the back. No rubbing there.
  • My blister problem is gone for the first time since I started running ultras. It’s seriously amazing. Want to know how amazing? Check out this photo of my toes post MMT100 (warning: it’s gross).

Score: 5 out of 5

2) Grip

Running on dirty, muddy trails means you need a shoe with good grip. Slip-n-slides are for play time, not run time.

How a shoe’s lugs are designed will determine how well they cling to the trail. I want a trial shoe with good lugs.

How They Stand Up

The Olympus performs above average when gripping the trail. Aside from some super slick days where few shoes would hold up very well, I’ve had minimal issues with my feet not locking in to the terrain.

But I do have to mention an unfortunate issue I experienced during that recent 50k. I’m not sure it belongs in this section, but this is as good as any.

During the Comberland Trail 50k, we ran on a particularly wet course with major elevation gain (somewhere around 6000ft). The constant up and down in soaked shoes caused the insole to slide and bunch up in the toe box. That meant that not only were my feet sliding within the shoe, but my toes were being squashed by all the bunching. I had to remove my shoes twice to fix it.

I raised this issue with the owners, and they assured me they already knew of the problem, which only happens on courses exactly like the CT 50k, and that it would be fixed in the next model. I believe them.

I’ve worn these shoes at least 50 times since then, and have never had it happen again. But it’s important enough for me to mention in this review.

Because of that issue, I’m docking a few points in this section. What would have normally been a 4 out of 5 is being reduced.

Score: 2.5 out of 5

3) How The Shoe Affects My Stride

A shoe should create an atmosphere in which you are running at or near your natural stride.

Some heavy or high heel-to-toe drop shoes cause adjustments in your stride that aren’t natural. As much as traditional shoe companies like to say that can be a good thing, in my opinion anything different than what comes naturally is a harmful. A good shoe prevents those unwanted adjustments to your stride.

How They Stand Up

Another impressive showing in this section. For a long time I said that a 4mm heel-to-toe drop was what worked best for me. I no longer believe that. The Zero Drop technology works with my stride perfectly, and I’ve seen nothing but positive benefits from the way these shoes affect how I’m running.

The one caveat here is probably the max cushioning, which is something I chose myself (because I like it). That extra cushion does give your heel a bigger safety net to land first, which isn’t really a good thing.

But that’s a reflection on what I like, not on the shoe’s design. Altra even have a disclaimer about that in the shoe description, which I love.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

4) Durability

Trail running is tough on shoes. Sharp rocks slice through the upper, gnarly terrain eats away at the sole, and mud and dirt grind away at the seams. After just a few runs, it’s easy to tell if a company hasn’t designed the shoe properly for trails.

olympus-durability

How They Sand Up

With probably 150-200 miles on the shoes so far, I’m seeing very little ware. There is some slight separation between the upper and rubber side on one of the shoes, but that is of minimal concern. The soles look hardly worn, and the tip of the toe box, where I typically have the most trouble, is holding up nicely.

Score: 4 out of 5

5) Looks

Let’s be real for a minute. We’re all a little vain. If a shoe looks too goofy, I’m going to have a hard time wearing it. This is probably the least important rating, but one I’ve got to include.

How They Stand Up

Altra does a great job with design and color selection. They are sleek but don’t draw too much attention, exactly what I look for in a shoe.

Altra also does an incredible job at not making the max cushion in the Olympus, for example, look like moon shoes. Compare the Olympus to any Hoka, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

The Foot Shaped toe box, however, throws things off. It just looks different than basically any other shoe out there. The benefits of that toe box significantly out-weigh the cons of appearance, of course, but it’s true. They look a little funny until you get used to them.

Score: 3 out of 5

Bonuses

One thing I absolutely love about the Olympus, and all Altra shoes for that matter, is that they include a few unique design features that add a lot of value. Here are the bonus features included with the Olympus:

1) A second top lace hole, like you’d see in many hiking boots. This allows the runner to adjust the lacing to fit their needs.

2) All shoes in their trail running line include the “Gaiter Trap“, a built in way to attach a shoe gaiter that keeps out rocks and trail debris. Brilliant idea.

Score: I wish I gave bonus points for these two things, but I can’t change the rules now.

Total Score: 19 out of 25

Why “Zero Drop” and “Foot Shaped” Aren’t Just Buzzwords

As you can probably tell from the scores, I’m a fan of the Olympus. To take that one step further, I’m a real believer in Altra shoes.

It’s been awhile since I discovered a brand and really believed that their products were better than most of what the competition has to offer..

That’s the way I feel about Altra.

Does this shoe have a few flaws and ways to improve? Of course. But how Altra is approaching their shoes and design is really exciting, and shines through the Olympus.

Now go get you a pair. You won’t regret it.

How to Plan A Race Calendar for 2015 and Beyond (Video)

Calendar Contemporary Digital Device Concepts

Every year around this time, people start thinking about what the next year will bring.

They set big goals and ambitious resolutions. Big picture ideas.

Unsurprisingly, runners are no different. After-all, we have dreams too! I know I’ve set more than a few over the years:

  • I want to run a marathon
  • I want to run my first ultra
  • I want to run a 100 miler
  • I want to PR a half marathon

They are often grandiose and scary. But claiming them as your goal for the year simply isn’t enough!

You need to take action.

And when it comes to running, that usually means you need to actually plan out your race calendar for the season now, so that you can commit to the races you want to run and schedule your training.

With races filling up quicker than ever, it’s even more important to plan well in advance, before it’s too late.

In today’s video (the first installment of Trail Talk: Quick Tips…more on that later), I discuss the approach you should take when planning your race calendar.

Here’s a breakdown of the topics covered in today’s video:

  • Why it’s important to start planning your race calendar now
  • Having a focal point for each season
  • Using other races to build up and prepare for your main goal race

Introducing Trail Talk: Quick Tips

Last month I posted a 12 minute video on how to know if you’re ready to run an ultramarathon. Since video was a new format for me, I asked you guys for feedback and if it was something I should keep doing.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. You seem to really like video!

In the excitement of the moment, I committed to myself to put out a new full 10-15 minute video every two weeks. A week later, I realized my eyes were bigger than my virtual stomach, and that the time it takes for me to plan, produce, edit, and post an in-depth video that frequently just isn’t feasible for me to commit to at the moment.

So that’s when I got the idea for Quick Tips. A short (quick) video posted just to my YouTube channel every Thursday.

A weekly source of trail and ultra running advice delivered in 3 minutes or less.

Then once a month, I’ll follow those quick tips up with longer, more in-depth Trail Talk videos.

But here’s the deal, I’m not going to post each of these Quick Tips to the blog like I am this one. I made that decision, because I want to continue to produce great written content for those of you who prefer that format, without cluttering it up with too many videos.

If you want to receive the quick tips each week, you’ll have to check them out on the Tube. To make sure you don’t miss any, subscribe to my YouTube channel and you’ll receive a weekly notification when a video is posted each Thursday.

If you’re like me and have never subscribed to a YouTube channel before, it’s quick and easy, and even private if you want it to be. The only notifications you’ll get are automatic ones from YouTube when new Trail Talk videos are upload.

Enjoy today’s video, and I hope to see you over in YouTube! Now get to planning before it’s too late!

The Only Running Jacket You’ll Need This Winter: Sandstone Soft Shell Jacket Review

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I’ll just come out and say it. If you had asked me a few months ago if I thought Eddie Bauer made clothes I would want to run in, I probably would have chuckled and moved on to the next question. It just wasn’t a brand that came to mind when I thought of trail running.

So when they offered to send me a few winter items, described as being perfect for trail running, I was a bit surprised, but I also knew I had to give them a shot.

Before I go into all the details below, let me just say that Eddie Bauer threw me for a loop. In the best way possible. Which is why the Eddie Bauer Sandstone Soft Shell Jacket I’ll be reviewing below is my #1 choice for mid-weight running jackets this season.

And for the sake of full disclosure, I should also mention that this post is sponsored by Eddie Bauer in return for an honest review. All the thoughts are entirely mine, and their sponsorship has nothing to do with the fact that it’s now my favorite jacket (well, except that I would have never bothered to give it a shot otherwise, so thanks for that EB!).

What I look for in a running jacket

To put things into perspective, let’s start with what I look for in a running jacket. As I browse through a store or surf online, I’m looking for how a jacket holds up with the following traits:

1) Breathability: Cold weather running is all about regulating temperature. Too cold and you can’t ever get comfortable. Too much warmth, and you begin sweating, which will cool you back off. It’s a delicate dance we’ve all hand to tango. Breathability is crucial for regulating those temperature swings. How breathable is the fabric? Does it have air vents? These are the types of things I’m asking.

2) Flexibility: When you’re swinging your arms back and forth, moving (or stumbling) over rocks and roots, and huffing your way up a steep incline, you want a jacket that moves along with you instead of constricting your movements. Tightness around the chest constricts breathing. Tightness around the shoulders leaves you tight and puts stress on those muscles. The best jackets are ones you don’t know you’re wearing.

3) Wind Breaking: There’s simply nothing worse than a big gust of sub freezing wind, blowing through your damp clothes during a run. If you’ve had that bone chilling blast mid stride, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

4) Good Pockets: This goes with any piece of running gear. You need to access what you want, and access it with ease. A good jacket is designed with nice pockets.

5) Compactability: If you want to shed a layer mid run, it’s nice to be able to pack it up tightly either around your waist or in a pack. How well does the jacket stuff or roll?

6) Color/Visibility: When choosing a running jacket, I want a product that will let me be seen without drawing attention. Electrifying neon greens are good for the first, but not the second. I just want to avoid cars or hunters, not look like a glow stick.

How the Eddie Bauer Sandstone Jacket Stands Up

eddie-bauer-jacketAccording to Eddie Bauer’s website, the Sandstone Jacket, which is part of their First Assent line, wasn’t designed specifically for running, but for “high-output activities.” Here’s part of their description:

Built by our guide team for high-output activities from alpine and rock climbing to trail running and cross training. Ultralight Flexion four-way stretch performance shell of nylon/spandex/polyester offers superior flexibility and breathability, and is wind- and water-resistant. StormRepel® durable water-repellent (DWR) finish beads water so it doesn’t soak into the fabric. Streamlined design eliminates bulk while allowing full range of motion.

So let’s see how it stands up as a running jacket:

1) Breathability: The first thing I noticed when I put this jacket on was that it didn’t have any vents, something I always look for in a running jacket. This is probably due to the fact that it isn’t designed just for running. But as I actually took it out for a spin, I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t really need any vents. The fabric alone was breathable enough to vent out my heat and much of the dreaded moisture.

Score: 4 out of 5

2) Flexibility: This is where the Sandstone jacket really excels. In fact, I’d even say that I’ve never worn a jacket so stretchy. I presume it has to do with the mixture of fibers (78% nylon, 12% spandex, 10% polyester), but I don’t know enough about fabrics to say exactly what it is. What I do know is that you can literally pull the jacket and it stretches, only to bounce right back. This thing moves with your body, like I crave a beer after an ultra. In other words, a lot.

Score: 5 out of 5

3) Wind Breaking: It feels funny writing this on December 3rd, with my windows open… but just a few weeks ago we were experiencing 20 degree weather, high winds, and even some snow. I wore just this jacket with a long sleeve dry-fit shirt underneath, and was comfortable the whole time. When needed, the zip-up collar makes for a nice wind breaker around the neck, and as long as the pockets are closed, I felt no leaks.

Score: 4 out of 5

4) Good Pockets: If I were to talk to the designers about the biggest flaw, it would be the pockets. There isn’t really anything wrong with them, they could just be better. The Sandstone Jacket has two decent hand pockets, and a chest pocket designed for a phone. Unfortunately none of them are very tight or streamlined, which means there isn’t much I could put in them and not expect to bounce. I think this is the one place where it shows that this jacket wasn’t designed just for runners.

Score: 3 out of 5

eddie-bauer-jacket-size5) Compactability: The Sandstone jacket is a mid-weight jacket, not an ultra thin wind breaker, so it’s automatically going to be a little bulkier than some of the lighter jackets on the market. That said, it still scrunches up nicely, and can easily tie around the waist or be stuffed into a race vest. Check out the photo to the right, with a coffee mug for comparison.

Score: 4 out of 5

6) Color/Visibility: I absolutely love the burnt orange color of this jacket. While it also comes in a navy blue and black, I think the orange is the way it go. It’s bright enough to be seen on the road or the trail, but still mellow enough that I find myself grabbing it as a light jacket even when I’m not running. Now if only I could get it to quit smelling like I just went for a run…

Score: 5 out of 5

Final Thoughts, and Why I’m Recommending It

Overall, I’m crazy about this jacket. I have worn the Sandstone Jacket for nearly ever run that required a jacket since the day it arrived about 5 weeks ago. It’s the perfect weight for cool runs, and can be used as a top layer for the really cold adventures.

When I first read that it wasn’t designed specifically for running, I was a bit nervous. I typically wouldn’t purchase something unless it was just what I needed. But aside from the small pocket issue and maybe a back vent, there’s nothing I’d change in a “runner” version. And both of those things can be overlooked without compromise.

The total score comes to 25 out of 30. The best score of any jacket I have in my mid-weight arsenal.

So does this make me an Eddie Bauer convert? They certainly showed me up! I also had the opportunity to test out the Incendiary shirt and a pair of FluxPro gloves. Both also a part of the First Assent line, and both also solid pieces of gear.

All that’s to say that yes, Eddie Bauer will be on my list of brands to check out for gear in the future.

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I’m not a huge sports guy.  I can hold my own when I find myself in the middle of a sports-related conversation, but unless we’re talking about the Nationals, it’s rare to find me watching sports on TV. But for some reason I absolutely love watching the Olympics.  It’s something about having top athletes from…

How to Reenter After Taking A Break From Running

This post was written by Jennifer Heidmann One of my favorite races of the year is coming up this weekend. And I won’t be there. In truth, I could be there, but I cannot bring myself to toe the line when absolutely nothing has gone as planned in the last several weeks. Including my vague…

What Runners Really Think: Secrets Revealed

We all have them.  Those little secrets, or thoughts, or maybe even judgments that we don’t like to share with our non-runner friends. Not because we are mean, but because we know that to some degree, they’ll just never understand our drive and need to log miles. Running is more than a hobby, it’s a…

If You Want to Run an Ultra, Don’t Do What I Did

Several months ago I was sitting around having a beer with a friend, and we got on the topic of our first 50k ultramarathons. Turns out we had pretty similar stories: We both signed up on a whim with no training plan or real knowledge (unless you count Born to Run) of ultrarunning. We both…

4 Mistakes to Avoid During Your First Ultramarathon

I signed up for my first ultramarathon on a whim. I had just experienced my first trail race, an 8k at a state park in Maryland, which was so much fun that I couldn’t drop the idea of running a long distance trail race.  It was just a few days after that 8k that I…

Scared Sh*tless

I’m incredibly excited about 2014. Want to know why? Because I’ll be taking some major risks. And I’m scared shitless. But shaking in my boots is all part of the excitement. If all goes as planned, and even if it doesn’t, I’ll be putting myself out there more in 2014 than I ever have before.…

32 Rules Runners Should Live By in 2014

It’s that time of the year again.  The time when we start reflecting on our biggest achievements and our worst setbacks from the past year, all to help us prepare for the next. Some people say that we put too much emphasis on setting goals and resolutions for the new year, but I think the…

Fuel Your Run With This Ultimate Fueling Giveaway!

Ed Note: It’s Holiday Spirit Week here at Rock Creek Runner, and we’re celebrating with two awesome giveaways to help you kick-start your training in the new year. You can still enter to win the first awesome giveaway here.   Originally I was going to split this giveaway up into separate nutrition and hydration prizes,…

Injinji Compression Sock Review + Giveaway!

Ed Note:  It’s Holiday Spirit Week here at Rock Creek Runner, and we’re celebrating with two awesome giveaways to help you kick-start your training in the new year.  Today we’re giving away 5 pairs of Injinji Compression Socks and Thursday we’ll post details on a nutrition giveaway, featuring hydration gear, Nuun products, and Bearded Brothers…

A Thankful Runner

I am a thankful runner. I’m thankful for my two feet, which propel me forward, stride after stride.  And for my legs which continue to build in strength to carry me up hills and through miles of trail. I’m thankful for my head, and my heart.  Combined they get me off the couch or out…

11 Books Every Runner Should Have on Their Shelf

If you’re like me, sometimes you just need more than a “How to” list, or a 1000 word post could ever offer.  You want to dive deeper. You want science, back story, and page after page of useful information or good stories that will make you a better runner.  In other words, you want a…

Why I’m Setting A 100 Mile Goal

On Saturday, May 17th, 2014, I will run 100 miles. Or at least that is the goal. Only it’s more than just a goal, because I’m certain it will be a reality. On Setting Goals I spent the last week accompanying Matt Frazier and Matt Ruscigno on the No Meat Athlete book tour. We stopped…

9 Steps to Running Your Entire Life (And Being Happy With Your Results)

This post is written by Jennifer Heidmann This is not an existential how-to-guide for living life fully through running. Nor is it a treatise claiming running as the next fountain of youth or as an uplifting cure for all that ails us in modern society. Granted, it could be about any of those things, but…

The 24 Dos and Don’ts of Running a Marathon

Last weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon was my fourth marathon finish, but in a way, you could say it was a first. It was the first time I didn’t study the course map for days before the race.  I didn’t plan out when to take each gel, how much water to drink at each station, or…

How to Improve Your Running Form [Infographic]

Websites, including this one, love to share articles about how to run faster, get stronger, and avoid injury. They talk about hills, trails, and training plans, and while those can have major impacts on your running, they pale in comparison to one key ingredient: Your running form. Making slight adjustments to your running form is…

TomTom Runner GPS Watch Review

There comes a time in every runner’s life when they have to learn about the GPS. The runner has to decide if and when it is right for them to take that step, and what they are most attracted to once they’re ready. If they rush it, the runner might make an impulse decision which…

The Dos and Don’ts of Running a Ragnar Relay: Ultra Division

If you don’t read anything else in this post, but are considering running a Ragnar Relay, at least read these two important bits of advice: Don’t forget your pillow. Don’t get caught up in the “roadkills,” especially if you are racing on an ultra team (more on that to come). Now that we got that…

What Jim Carrey Taught Me About Running

You may remember a film released back in 2008 called Yes Man.  If you’ve seen it, you probably remember it as that mediocre film where Jim Carrey runs around saying “yes” to everything. The premise of the film is simple: A lonely, sad man named Carl is down on life until he goes to a…

Stop Running Like An Idiot

You’re an idiot.  There, I said it. Go ahead and curse me if you want, but I’m calling you out for what you are. An idiot. Alright fine, it’s possible you aren’t as dumb as I think you are, but there’s a high probability that if you aren’t acting like an idiot now, you have…

Why I Ran 442 Consecutive Days (And Why I Quit)

I took the elevator down to the hotel lobby around 9:30am.  I had told people to meet me there if they wanted to join for my final run of a 442 day run streak. To my surprise, over 30 people in running shorts and sneakers were waiting by the door ready to go out for…

An Ode to Cross Country

This post is written by Jennifer Heidmann No matter where you live, there is something magical about fall running. Perhaps it is the slight coolness that pushes away summer, as a prelude to the crisp days of true autumn. Perhaps it is that first day you can wear a pair of tights or a light…

3 Surprising Reasons Trail Running Prevents Injuries

This is a guest post from Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running. Ask most runners about what prevents injuries and they’ll list the crowd favorites: strength exercises, good running form, and increasing mileage at a responsible rate. And it’s true – any smart runner should work on these aspects of their running to stay healthy. But mention…

The Importance of Good Running Socks (And a Review of the Best)

Lots of runner will tell you the most important piece of equipment for a runner is the shoe.  While that is probably true, socks, which are often overlooked and forgotten, are a close second. Nothing so small can cause as much discomfort to a runner as a blister.  They are painful, annoying, and if not…

Fighting the Running Demons With a Mantra

Ask any runner and they’ll tell you, sometimes you have to dig deep. Whether you’re 3 hours into a marathon or 15 minutes into a 5k, running can hurt.  And pain can make you want to quit. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you just aren’t running hard enough. When the going…

Embracing Inspiration: In The High Country Movie Review

Runner’s aren’t all alike. We don’t look alike. We don’t eat alike.  We don’t always dress alike.  But we all do have at least one thing in common. Inspiration. Without it, there would be no PRs, no first marathons, and no run streaks.  We wouldn’t get up and run in the heat.  Or the cold. …

Why Your Job is Killing You (And Making You A Worse Runner)

This shouldn’t be anything new. If you haven’t already read countless articles on the topic, then you’ve probably figured it out on your own. Your job is killing you. Not to be all melodramatic on you or anything, but when you work in a 9 to 5 office like I do, it is hard not to…

Beat the Post-Race Blues

This post is written by Jennifer Heidmann Running without a Garmin is peculiar. How far did I go in that 1 hour and 3 minutes? How fast did I go in that 63 minutes? If nothing is recorded, did it actually happen? I just race a marathon.  Months of training.  Hours of workouts.  All for the…

How to Properly Stay Hydrated During a Long Run

During my first 50 mile ultramarathon, I only pee’d once.  And it was within the first hour of the race. And I ran for almost 10 hours. But before we get too deep into my bladder issues, let’s first take a step back. I’m the type of runner who will schedule a whole shopping trip…

The 7-Minute Workout: Does it Work for Runners?

A few weeks ago I was sitting around the bar with a few friends when someone mentioned that they had just done the 7-Minute Workout, made famous in a recent New York Times Magazine article. If you aren’t familiar (and none of us were), the 7-Minute Workout is basically this:  A high-intensity interval circuit, featuring…

Wear Dirty Shorts: Running Practical, Not Hip

This may come as a shock to you:  I’m not very hip. And I’m totally fine with that. Because when it comes to running, a sport filled with new trends on a near daily basis, we often need to take a step back and take a more practical approach. We need to do what works…

8 Reflections on the Joy of Running

This post is written by Jennifer Heidmann Many of us grew up with Irma Rombauer’s book on our family’s cookbook shelf. I never knew that this book, which is almost iconically kitschy, and in retrospect fairly bold for the times, was born from grief. It was the depression era, and Rombauer’s husband had committed suicide.…

Rock Creek Round-Up: May 2013

May has been a great month.  The weather in DC was fabulous, the trails are surrounded by budding trees, and the big cicada scare of 2013, causing terror up and down the East Coast, doesn’t seem to be as big a deal as people thought. It was also a great month on the interwebs, and…

Learn to Love Running…Again

It is difficult to equate fun with pain. Tempo runs.  Hills.  Long hours up and down the trails. Running can be painful.  And pain usually isn’t fun. But as any runner knows, running can be one of the most enjoyable activities out there!  After all, why would we spend so much time doing it if…

4 Ways to Rethink Your Everyday Run

Unless you are deep into a training schedule or getting yelled at by a coach, chances are you have an “Everyday Run.” Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: You’re short on time and only have about 30 minutes to squeeze in a run, so you quickly slap on your shoes and head out the…

Introducing The Rock Creek Runners: DC’s Newest Trail Running Club

“Do you lead group runs in Rock Creek Park?” That question, or some variation of it, is probably the most common question I get on Rock Creek Runner. The main goal of Rock Creek Runner has always been to provide a space for runners to come together and learn from each other, both through my…

Rock Creek Round-Up: April 2013

Last month I decided to start a new RCR feature highlighting some of the best articles and videos I’ve enjoyed over the past month. With so much exciting and fun information out there, limiting this list to just a few is harder than you might expect!  But here they are, some of my favorite things…

Finding A Diet That Works For Your Running

It’s not difficult to spend too much time thinking about running when we have access to countless blogs, articles, and coaches, all cranking out free info.  We spend all this time pouring over running advice because we want to run faster or further, and improve. But it is easy to forget that one of the…

How to Beat Your Fears of Running Trails

This post is written by Jennifer Heidmann I originally wrote this post before the Boston Marathon took place. The attack is a reminder of what the feeling of fear is based on: vulnerability. On April 16, the day after the bombings, I took a 20 mile run and without even thinking had thrown on my…

The Finish Line: My Reflections On Boston And A Letter From My Mother

The finish line is a sacred place for runners.  It represents months, sometimes years of dedication, hard work, sweat, and tears. It is a place of celebration, relief, and most importantly, triumph. Like you, I was devastated by the news coming from Boston yesterday.  I’ve never run the race.  I’ve never even made it a…

5 Benefits of Hill Workouts (infographic)

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve altered a route because of an approaching hill.  They are just one of those things we runners tend to avoid as much as possible. But skipping a hill is a big mistake.  Like it or not, hills make us better runners. This week I’ve decided to do…

Moving Forward (Broken Ego and All)

It was only mile 16, but it felt more like a tired 40.  I had already climbed around 5000 feet, descending about half that, and here I was fighting my way up another climb. I first started to notice my body screaming while standing at an aid station waiting on a friend just a few…

Rock Creek Round-Up: March 2013

Sometimes I have plenty to say, but other times it is best to let the others do the talking. Every day I read something inspiring, informative, or just plain fun, and it seems selfish not to help spread the word about these great articles, videos, and podcasts. I’ve decided to try something a little different. …

OGIO Endurance 8.0 Pack Review (Video)

Sometimes you buy a product and think to yourself, “eh, it’ll do.” But other times you pick up a product and know after first use that it is really going to make your life easier. I didn’t actually buy the OGIO Endurance 8.0 Pack, it was given to me for Christmas by my mother, but…

The ABCs of Healthy Running

This post is written by Jennifer Heidmann First, a disclaimer. Though I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. I do not herein offer official medical advice. Read at your own risk. If you are new to running, or planning a great big new running feat, check in with your doctor first. I have…

One Word Changed My Training Forever

I discovered a new word this year. Well, I guess I’ve known the word for a long time, but this year brought it new meaning. Consistency.  Yeah, I’m sure you know the word as well. Over the past several months, I’ve really begun to adopt this word as my main focal word for running.  I’ve…

New Free eBook: The Power of a Running Mantra

There is just no way around it. Running is tough. I recently experienced this firsthand, several hours into the Mount Mitchell Challenge, when my legs were on fire and my mind was starting to doubt a finish. Had it not been for the 7 word phrase I repeated dozens of times, I might still be…

A Fitness and Nutrition Bundle You Don’t Want to Miss

Today I’m going to breaking one of my own rules on Rock Creek Runner. Let me explain: I don’t talk much about my diet on this blog, maybe nutrition as it pertains to running, but I purposely avoid making proclamations about diet on Rock Creek Runner. Even still, many of you probably know I eat…

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