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You might be an Altramaniac if...

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  • Tuesday, September 04 2012 @ 11:31 PM UTC
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I was recently accused of being an Altramaniac by one of the sales folks at a local running store. When I look at my collection of Altra Zero Drop shoes, it is kind of hard to argue. I do own at least one pair of every model of Altra Zero Drop footwear currently available (I'm trying to get this blog post out the door before the Altra Superior lightweight trail shoe hits the shelves). Just call me "the man with many left shoes"...


Pictured (from left to right): Lone Peak, Provision, Samson, Adam, Instinct 1.5, Instinct black, Instinct original

In case you hadn't heard, Altra is a young shoe company that makes Zero Drop footwear. Zero Drop means there is no difference between the height of the shoe sole at the heel and the height of the shoe sole under the forefoot. This is also known as having a low (or no) ramp angle since the footbed lies flat rather than sloping downward towards the front of the shoe.

The true Altramaniacs make silly videos and show their love of Zero Drop footwear by dressing up in costume.

While I am not (yet) an extreme Altra nut like these two guys:



I am definitely a fan of Altra Zero Drop footwear.

My first 50-plus mile running week

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  • Friday, August 17 2012 @ 02:14 PM UTC
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A few weeks ago my family was out of town. I took the opportunity to run... a lot... and managed to hit my first 50+ mile week. It helped that I could take naps when needed and was able to go to bed early.

Here is a screenshot of my dailymile weekly mileage with the 50+ mile peak:



Following this high mileage week I had some "hint" pains in a lot of places, such as along the shin bone, in my foot, and around the knees. This was in addition to sore muscles. I listed to my body, backed off, and did not develop any injuries. Now I'm into high intensity training (hills and intervals on the track) and back into the 20-40 mile per week range.

I think that rest and recovery is likely a limiting factor for me so with a full-time job and busy family life you won't be seeing any more of these crazy mileage weeks for a while. However, I'm feeling very fit now and I am excited about the upcoming fall racing season.

Barefoot Running Study at the University of Florida

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  • Saturday, May 26 2012 @ 12:19 AM UTC
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I recently participated in a barefoot running study at the University of Florida Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.  As of the time I started writing this blog post, the study is still seeking participants (http://www.ortho.ufl.edu/research/studies/barefoot-running).

The stated purpose of the study is to compare how many calories are used and how much force is produced when the feet make contact with the ground while barefoot compared to wearing cushioned shoes.  Eligible test subjects are trained runners who have a mid-forefoot run pattern (where the middle foot or ball of the foot touches the ground first compared to the heels landing first) and meet the following criteria:

- Men and women 18-60 years old.

- A verified running foot striking style of mid-forefoot strike

- Run on average at least 20 miles/week.

- Able to run for at least 20 minutes at one session.

- Free of any ofthopedic limitation (e.g. acute injury to the lower limb, hip or back).

- Must have, and run in, cushioned running shoes at least once per week.  

 When I first heard of the study a while ago I didn't think I met the criteria (I either wasn't hitting the mileage or I was doing all of my runs in minimalist shoes). More recently I have been doing bigger mileage and running in my Altra Instincts at least once per week and I felt like I would be a really good fit for the study. 

The lure for participants is that they receive a copy of much of the collected data and the high speed video footage from the Biomechanics and Motion Analysis Laboratory / UF Sports Performance Center.

Here is a picture of me wearing the metabolic gear, motion tracking dots, and with my Altra Instincts all taped up to cover the reflective surfaces:

The red light in the background is one of the many cameras used for motion capture.  More on that in a moment...

Soft Star Moc3 is still the best minimalist shoe yet

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  • Tuesday, February 28 2012 @ 12:37 PM UTC
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To be fair, the Spring 2012 shoe models from many companies are not yet widely available and I have not yet tried them all. Reviews are starting to appear on the web and some of the forthcoming shoes do look interesting. However, they would have to be really completely awesomely perfect to knock the Soft Star Shoes Moc3 off the top of my best minimalist shoes list.

The Moc3 provides only minimal protection, no cushion. I have a tendency to increase my leg pounding as the level of cushion in a shoe increases (and my ability to feel the ground decreases). The Moc3 keeps me true to barefoot form but at the same time provides a fiction barrier to allow me to run more miles. The sole is made by Vibram and is the "street sole" used by Soft Star in their RunAmocs. The Moc3 sole has interesting cutouts that increase the flexibility of the shoe and reduce weight. The gaps in the outsole material are still protected with a thin flexible sole material that Soft Star uses in some of their other shoes. I have not yet been poked by anthing that snuck past the vibram.

The soles looked fine after the first 200 miles of mostly road/sidewalk miles and it is even still possible to make out the word "Vibram" at the ball of the foot:



I have owned the shoes for about 7 months and I am glad to see they will be usable for many more miles.

Running in Austin on the Barton Springs Greenbelt

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  • Wednesday, January 18 2012 @ 11:24 PM UTC
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I spent time over the holidays in Austin, Texas. Austin has some wonderful trails and greenways. I entered the Barton Springs Greenbelt at its Zilker Park trailhead, parking the car near the Barton Springs Pool facility.

I have to digress and mention that Zilker Park is just great. Children and adults alike can entertain themselves for hours. Besides the wide open spaces and nature trails, there is an awesome playground, ball fields, a train, and even climbing rocks. Notable events that happen there include the Zilker Park Kite Festival and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

So back to the running... I had not traveled very far along the trail before finding rocks sticking out of the path. At this point I was already glad that I had opted to wear my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes. It turns out that these scattered rocks were only a small taste of what was to come.



And then the trail became rockier...

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