My Kind of Tribe

Tribe

It’s far from my nature (and the spirit of this blog) to get hung up on running gear, but there’s one particularly novel company which I believe deserves a big shout-out.

Nothing reflects the community spirit of this fledgling company more so than the fact that it got off the ground by one of the most successful fashion campaigns in Kickstarter history. That’s right, people from all walks of life invested a lot of money to get yet another manufacturer of sports clothing on the market.

But why would anyone do such a thing, you ask? To put it simply, people believed in Tribesports because the athletes themselves (that is, you and me) are at the heart of this company. Tribesports does things very differently, you see.

All the big names in sports apparel (bless them!) develop new gear with a small team of experts and then spend heaps of dosh trying to convince you and me why we really need this particular gear. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes, well – let’s just say not so much. And then there are the middle men, the retailers that all take their slice of the profits.

The clever people behind Tribesports, on the other hand, start by asking thousands of people what they really want. And then they go and make it. It’s as simple as that.

The result is some really wicked, technical gear (just think: the gear you have always wanted!). The icing on the cake is that Tribesports apparel actually retails for significantly less money than that of their big name competitors, because they don’t spend the money on advertising, middlemen or getting it wrong. It’s just you and them. And the tribe.

This wild runner is proud to be part of the tribe.

Tribe Logo

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Holiday Randomness

St. Andrews fog(running near St. Andrews in the fog)

One of the best aspects of being off work for the holidays is that much of the structure and routine in my life get swept away by a wonderful sense of randomness. I get up when I like, go to bed when I like, I eat when I’m hungry, and I run and ride my horse whenever I feel like it. I’ve been baking cakes, hung out with friends and have contemplated writing my next novel.

Unfortunately, in the midst of this controlled chaos, I have yet to find the time to write a coherent blog post. Therefore, rather than yielding to blogging silence, the least I can do is to share the randomness with you. In that spirit, here are some of the running things I’ve been up to:

  1. I’ve added a new pair of running shoes to my repertoire: the Asics Hyperspeed 5. As I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, one of my main running goals for 2014 is to get serious about my speed workouts. I was so excited when they arrived that I decided to take them for a spin straight away…
  2. I’ve discovered that early morning runs are not for me. Seriously, half of the time I don’t know my own name before breakfast, so why I thought it was a good idea to go for a run after rolling out of bed (new shoes or not) eludes me. While my first run in my racing flats wasn’t terribly fast, I was still very impressed by them – they are insanely light and definitely keep me on my toes (no pun intended). However, the absence of cushioning is also very noticeable, and I know that I’ll have to work my way up the miles with them carefully before I can comfortably race half-marathons in these shoes.
  3. Eating a curry the night before going for a long run is not a good idea. Actually, it’s an exceedingly terrible idea. Just thought you’d like to know.
  4. Try as I might, I just can’t convince my friends that running in the hills in December is good fun. Most of them think that my hill runs are crazy (regardless of the time of year) and some even think that any form of running is a dreadful idea. I have, however, been able to convince some very important friends to come hiking in the mountains with me. It’s also good fun (just slower fun) and means that I can scout new trails for running. I’ve been getting very excited about sneaking back to some of the places we have visited; just me and my running shoes.
  5. While I’m on the topic of scouting new areas: I’ve started reccing the route I’ll run in June as part of the Great British Relay. I’ve almost got the route it finalised; I’m staying off the main roads, which makes the route slightly longer, meaning that I’ll have to run faster. It’s a careful balancing act between safety, fun, speed and time. While I know that the event is still months and months away, I’m getting pretty excited about it already.
  6. Last but certainly not least, my experimentation with the Nike Running Dri-fit Toe Socks has begun. So far, I can report that they are a bit tricky to put on but feel quite nice to run in. They also make my feet look kinda cute (now there’s something I never thought I’d say). I will keep using them for a few weeks and see if they make any difference to the state of my toenails. Certainly after my long run this morning, my toes felt marginally less battered than normal, so my hopes for these socks remain high!

I hope you’re all having a very merry holiday time!

From Familiar To Intriguing

night-run

Over the past few weeks, the darkness has forced me to take my evening runs off the trails and onto the sidewalks of my village. It’s been a different, but unexpectedly enjoyable running experience for me. I love the silence, the solitude, and the way the shadows dance in the streetlamp lights.

It’s this new-found love for running in darkness that has stopped me from joining a gym so far this winter. I’m not only very comfortable and happy while running outside on the dark winter nights, but lately, I’ve been tempted to venture away from the relative safety of the well-lit sidewalks.

With this in mind, I’ve found myself seriously contemplating the possibility of investing in a head torch. Given that I don’t know anything about them, I decided to head down to my local running shop – which had conveniently announced a late-night opening for a Christmas celebration this Wednesday evening. Armed with a Santa-hat, my ulterior motive and I trotted down to the store to join in the merriment of their Christmas evening, prize raffle and organised run.

The evening began with an easy and jolly 5k group run, which saw a group of us jogging merrily around the city while nattering away about Christmas, running and certain things we promised to never mention again. Upon our return to the shop, while preoccupied with nibbling the top of a mince pie, a certain bewildered runner in a Santa hat was announced as the lucky winner of… a brand new head torch!

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Clearly, it was meant to be. Last night, I took my new gadget for a test run in my local park, and I absolutely loved everything about it. The torch itself is small and light; I didn’t even notice that I was wearing it, apart from the light bubble it created just in front of me. The solitude and stillness were extreme and beautiful, and the crisp grass beneath my feet and my frosty breath in the night air were wonderfully refreshing. The familiar surroundings of the park suddenly became mysterious; a new territory to be explored by night.

I really hope that my gym isn’t missing me too much, because at this rate, they won’t be seeing much of me this winter!

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(A massive thank you to Run4It for a lovely evening and an awesome new toy!)

One day, two terrains, three cheers and four new shoes

Someone may have just acquired not one, but two brand new pairs of running shoes. Runners are so easy to please.

Greedy, you say? Nonsense – I can explain everything…

Competitor Magazine Fall Shoe Review

As much as I enjoy training for a marathon, the increased mileage has rapidly raced my beloved road running shoes towards an early retirement. To ease the pain of letting go of my trusted companions of many miles – am I the only one who gets a bit sentimental about replacing her running shoes? – none other than Santa himself rushed to my aid today. He bestowed upon me a brand new pair of the very same shoes, just in an even nicer colour. What is more, because Santa knows everything and totally rocks, he brought them to me at a serendipitously perfect moment in time, while will allow me to break them in for use during the Athens Marathon. Amazing! (Incidentally, I couldn’t help but notice that Santa happened to be sporting the same Birkenstock sandals that my dad wears a lot. Weird, or what?)

Thanks to my fath… I mean, Santa’s miraculous intervention, I was free to plan a new mischief with the contents of my piggy bank. I briefly contemplated just how much chocolate I would be able to purchase with my riches, but a rare bout of sanity thankfully interfered before I could find out for certain.   

Instead, I came up with a much more sensible course of action: given that I no longer needed the money to buy new road running shoes, the only logical solution was to go immediately and spend it all on a pair of trail running shoes. Not wishing to postpone our destiny, my piggy bank and I trotted off to our local specialist running store, tried and tested several pairs of trail shoes, uhm-ed a little and ah-ed a lot, and eventually returned to the homely hearth sporting yet another pair of running shoes.

And just in case anyone is interested in the devilish details, the new shoes which are now eagerly lined next to my soon-to-be retired pair by the back door are the Asics Gel Kayano 19 and Adidas Response Trail 20.

I can’t wait to take them out and treat them to their baptism of mud! Right now, only one dilemma remains: shall the happy bunny go bounce on the trails or on the road this evening?

(P.S.: Three cheers to my dad, who is really awesome!)

Baring all…

barefoot2

I have a confession to make: I love to run in shoes with lots of cushioning. The softer, the better; I just love it when my feet feel as though they are cuddled by cotton-candy clouds.

My love of cushioned shoes is so intense that my preferred road running shoe is basically viewed as the embodiment of all evil by the disciples of the barefoot running movement.

Barefoot runners would, at best, argue that my cushioned devil shoes are overkill and at worst would suggest that the shoes themselves would tempt me towards a fiendishly sloppy running form and summon an array injuries upon me.

My own thoughts on this matter are twofold: first of all, as I have pointed out above, I simply feel great in cushioned shoes. And if I’m going to pounce on concrete for 42.2 kilometres, I think that I would be a complete mug if I didn’t choose the most comfortable attire for the job. Secondly, while I am certainly a devotee to good running form, I don’t think that this is directly related to the shoes I wear.

I certainly don’t wear my demonic running shoes in an attempt to prevent injuries. In fact, in ten years of running in diabolical trainers, I have never once experienced a running related injury – bruised toenails aside. (Excuse me for a moment while I do a swift lap of my house, touching anything wooden in the process).

Having said all that, I am always interested in taking a fresh look at my running form and I am open to the possibility that an odd bout of barefoot running could, potentially be somewhat revealing. Besides, I am curious by nature and yes, I may have read Born to Run.

Therefore, last week, I decided to embrace the lingering summer feeling and temporarily hung up my trainers to conduct a personal case study on barefoot running. For my first attempt I ventured into the relative safety of the local park and its extensive fields of green.

I’ll come straight to the point here: the main outcome of my barefoot running experience is that I had heaps of fun. It genuinely took me back to my childhood and I relished the feeling of the dewy summer grass beneath the soles of my feet. Oh boy, I even enjoyed tiptoeing along the road and gravel paths and flashed a sheepish schoolgirl grin at the gardeners who were commenting on my seemingly forgotten attire. In no time at all, the wind had robbed me of all my caution and I was running wild as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

Perhaps it was easy for me. I often walk barefoot around the house. Moreover, I have always been a midfoot-striker, irrespective of the footwear.

Once I managed to tear myself away from my latest “au natural” adventure, I have come to the following conclusion: perhaps humans were born to run barefoot, but surely not on such unnatural surfaces as asphalt or even concrete surfaces. Also, I suspect that extensive barefoot running requires some pretty tough feet in the first place. And given that I have no intention of wandering through my everyday life without shoes (I’m not that alternative!), why would I expect my feet to put up with the most extreme battering I inflict upon them without the protection they enjoy for the rest of their lives?

Personally, I will stay loyal to my beloved and insanely comfy trainers. However, when the sun is out on a beautiful summer’s day, don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of a 32-going-on-11 year old skipping around your local park with piggy tails and unashamedly nude below the knee.

After all…

“I only do this because I’m having fun. The day I stop having fun, I’ll just walk away.”

– Heath Ledger