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Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I opened a huge can of worms by clicking on a Facebook advertisement today. The Tough Mudder endurance race is having their NorCal event at Bear Valley on Oct. 9th & 10th. That's 60 days away. How much can you train in 60 days? I began reading every bit of information off the site. I looked at the course map and found the official promo video that shows what it really takes for each obstacle to be concurred. Honestly, most of them look like a cakewalk and a lot of fun; however, I would be doing them back to back and running 7 miles up and down a 2k foot difference in elevation. I can't even run 7 miles on a treadmill, how would I be able to do that trekking across a mountain? As I continued to research past events, I found detailed accounts of what it really took for those who had achieved their personal goal of completing the race. I then decided that completing this race is something I need to do.
I asked my brothers, cousin, and a couple of friends if they would be interested in forming a team. Only one brother got back to me, and, while interested in participating, will be out of town that weekend. He has agreed to allow me to come along on his morning runs, but I think I need to practice on my own to narrow the gap in our performance levels.
He extended some helpful advice on how to start off, and some pointed my feet toward their new clothes. If I’m going to start running, I’m going to need some new running shoes. Because I work on my feet a lot, I have resorted to using my two pair of running shoes for work. My old cheap pair of Asics Gels have an internal injury, with all the inner padding coming loose. The once nice and expensive pair of New Balance are doing the opposite, external structural failure that leaves pieces of the sole everywhere they tread. Road Runner Sports had a local store that will analyze your weight distribution while running, and make a recommendation of what works best for you. Then they try to sell you really expensive orthotic insoles that you probably don’t need. I hesitated to make such a significant purchase, as my form will probably change as I progress from novice to proficient, with my weight distribution being altered as well. My brother also told me about a relatively new alternative, that don’t require testing of running style and weight distribution for matching with the proper type of engineered footwear.
The Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) shoes are basically gloves for your feet. Each toe is separate in the shoe and allowed to move independently, and the shoe fit like a sock. The idea is that your foot can flex and contour to a surface the way human feet have evolved human history. It is similar to wearing moccasins, because while your foot is now free to bend and flex, it is also protected from painful rocks and such with a protective layer. Ten years ago I would have thought these were a gimmick, but now I think they are the way to go, after learning about the evolution of bipedal primate and hominid locomotion in my physical anthropology courses. After watching and reading an in depth review, which included scientific data supporting the design, I decided to check a pair out. Just one mile from my house is a mom and pop outdoor store, Redwood Trading Post, and they happen to be an authorized retailer. I'm glad I went in, because I was using the manufacturer's online usage chart to determine which shoe I needed.
Originally, I wanted the KSO because it looked like having coverage all the way up to the ankle would help keep the mud and crud out of the shoe, the item description also suggests this. After I told the clerk what I intended the shoes for, he pointed me toward the models with better traction.
The Bikila has a sole with tread designed for running, and KSO Trek has an even beefier sole for more traction and is mostly more sturdy and durable machine washable kangaroo. I put one of each kind in my size and ran around the store. I liked them both on concrete and carpet, but I decided to go with the more durable KSO Trek, keeping in mind the extremes Tough Mudder obstacles will put them through. If I were going to go be running on paved surfaces exclusively, I would have gone with the Bikila.
I wore the shoes around the house for the rest of the day. If they cause my feet to work too hard from years of conventional shoes, I will wear them while walking and buy a conventional pair of running shoes from the above mentioned store. They really are comfortable, and they kind of look like ninja shoes.
This gave me the idea to run the Tough Mudder with a team of ninjas. I think it would be hilarious for us to wear all black running cloths, a ninja hood/mask, and some cheap plastic kids ninja toys.
I soon learned that ninja is a different pronunciation of the two kanji characters for the word. The correct pronunciation is shinobi-no-mono, which is often shortened to shinobi. Even though ninja is more commonly recognized, it bothers me to not call something it's correct name, i.e. it's Deutschland, not Germany. Hence, the title of this blog Tough Mudder Shinobi.