Month: February 2014

Running in MSR Snowshoes

If you remember my last article about Snowshoe Hiking in Colorado [CLICK HERE] I mentioned that I was using MSR EVO Ascent snowshoes and that I would hardly consider running in them. Here’s the article quote:

I have a pair of MSR Evo Ascent Snow Shoes, and so long as you’re not trying to run, they’re decent enough for snowshoe hiking.

Running in MSR Snowshoes - Pace Intervals on STRAVA
Running in MSR Snowshoes – Pace Intervals on STRAVA

I decided to give it a try to see how I would do, in spite of that, since I know a few people do run in them. I’ve seen someone running in MSR snowshoes on the Steven’s Gulch Road toward the Grays Peak Trailhead. Trail running has been rough the past several weeks with all the fresh snow we’ve been getting in Summit County Colorado. I’ve been getting slower and slower with each run. The snow has been loose and just sucks your feet in no matter what type of spikes you wear. I did my 10k hike in the snowshoes and my speed was actually right in there with my slower trail runs. So I decided to try running in MSR snowshoes to see what happened.

Experiment: Running in MSR Snowshoes

I began with a fairly mild pace, going for about 15:00. That seems slow if you’re used to running pavement at sea level in warm temps. In loose snow trying to figure out the whole snowshoe running thing while going uphill at 5-10% it’s not too bad. After I felt warmed up I set the camera on the tripod and started an interval up and down the road. I was surprised that my watch reported the two back to back intervals at 7:30 and 8:00. I didn’t feel like I was going that fast. Later I checked STRAVA and sure enough it coincided with the watch readout.

The last time, on my hike in snowshoes, I wore my Salomon 3D Ultra shoes. My feet got pretty sore in a few spots so this time I wore my Hoka One One Stinson EVO for the extra padding. I have an older pair I run in a lot on the snow because I spiked them [SEE ARTICLE]. These are a newer pair with no spikes and only about 50 miles.

Video: Running in MSR Snowshoes with Non-synchronous Poles

In this first video I’m using a pole action similar to what I do in my vertical running training. I reach forward, walk up to the pole till approximately even with it, and let it trail to the rear as I set the opposite pole. I might take 2, 3, or 4 steps between pole plants. It’s easy on the arms and I can always push harder or lighter with the poles.

Video: Running in MSR Snowshoes with Synchronous Poles

In this video view of running in MSR snowshoes I’m using synchronized pole plants. I’m using them in a short arc jab, one for each foot landing. I found it to be very powerful and fast feeling, even though the interval time was slower at around 7:40, there wasn’t an appreciable difference between the uphill and downhill speeds. That was interesting. I noticed this pattern in the Nordic events in the Sochi2014 Olympics and wondered how I could make use of it in my own training.

I spent some time in the 12:00 range, which is a little faster than I’ve been doing in spiked running shoes in the loose snow. I was surprised that running in MSR snowshoes wasn’t that bad. I thought that as wide as they were I’d have a weird gorilla gait. It turns out you can slide them right over each other with the edge inside the little groove in the toe of the snowshoe. This allows for a closer foot path while running and helps prevent you from tripping over the other shoe.

Running in MSR Snowshoes with overlapping grooves shown
Running in MSR Snowshoes with overlapping grooves shown

In the photo above, taken during my previous snowshoe hike in my Salomons, I added in red arrows to show the overlapping grooves that allow you to keep your feet closer together while running in MSR snowshoes. I’d love to try other brands to see how they perform, now that I’ve had a taste of this fun winter sport.

On the flip side, I found that running in MSR snowshoes is a bit noisy. When the flat plastic plate hits the snow at various angles you can hear a definite pop and slap noise. It’s not a major issue, just a minor annoyance that I’m sure you can hear a few times on the videos.

UPDATE: Found this really good Trail Runner Magazine Article on Snowshoe Running

Inspirational Quotes: Hills to Climb

Inspirational Quotes: Hills to Climb…

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
Nelson Mandela

I have a notebook full of inspirational quotes and this is one I reflect on frequently. I’ve been to the top of so many hills in my life. From that lofty vantage, I realize that there are indeed many more hills to climb. I’ve gone from success to failure to success so many times and so fast, that I’ve begun to enjoy the uphill journey as much as the time on top. I wrote about one of the lowest days in my mountaineering life in my book “Elbrus My Waterloo” CLICK HERE.

Inspirational Quotes: Poster

Inspirational Quotes: Hills to Climb
Inspirational Quotes: Hills to Climb

My good friend and climbing partner Todd Gilles is featured in this photo, from our recent snowshoe attempt on Quandary. This is one of my favorite mountains, a Colorado 14er I’ve been up many times. I have been to the top so many times now that I don’t mind at all not making the summit. We had high winds on the ridge above a wind-loaded slope with no small risk of avalanche. In the back of my mind I saw the reality that there are many more hills to climb. We retreated and had a great day discussing our plans for the upcoming running and climbing season. Those too are hills to climb.

I am alone most of the time on the mountains. When I do climb with friends I enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship. I enjoy having our goal, the summit, shared for that brief period of time as we ascend. I know what it’s like to have a good partner, at least in spirit, to help you along the way with moral support. Inspirational quotes can be a source of support in our daily lives. We can reflect on their meaning in our own moments of sadness or failure and go forward.

As you become more advanced in your goal setting skills, the chance of failure should become higher and higher until the chance of success is maybe only 50%. With that level of failure potential you should enlist the assistance of another skilled goal setter to give you the boost you need in accountability and helping you to never give up. Even if you’re only a beginner, with your first goal, you should consider getting help in setting and keeping your goals. Give it a go. Every day you don’t pursue your goals is one more day you’ll have to wait to enjoy them.

If you truly are alone, and have no one to assist as you reach for your summits, please, consider letting me help you. CLICK HERE for info on how you can sign up for the most affordable accountability partnering program today. You don’t have to be alone.

Vegetarian Differences in Practice

Vegetarian differences vary a bit between many people who call themselves vegetarian. There are those who eat their diets based on moral or philosophical reasons. There are those that eat based on health concerns. Some have obvious allergies or react badly to different foods. There are those that eat according to religious ideologies. There are a few technical terms for the vegetarian differences if you want to go look them up. There are lacto and ovo and pesco etc. etc. etc.

Vegetarian Differences might be as colorful as this bowl of goodness
Vegetarian Differences might be as colorful as this bowl of goodness

If you go to the message boards and other places where people can leave comments you’ll find quite a few opinions about vegetarian differences. One problem you might find is a certain level of elitism and snobbery. I’ve posted before here about how unhelpful such attitudes are EXAMPLE POST. I’d like to offer only positive, helpful suggestions if at all possible. Please remember that if you feel the need to comment below.

First of all, let’s separate ourselves from the typical “Western Diet” where breakfast might be a half dozen eggs and as many or more slices of bacon. Add in pancakes slathered with butter and fake maple syrup. Have a mid-morning snack of a Canadian bacon and egg biscuit. Have a lunch of fast-food quad cheese burger with fries deep-fried in non-transfat lard. Dinner could be a steak, or pot roast, or ham. I’m sure you get the idea there.

My opinion is that anything you can do to break free of the traditional American eating pattern is great. Many people who don’t eat “normally” do consider themselves vegetarian. That’s what leads to some of the conflict between the different types of vegetarians.

Vegetarian Differences Outlined:

  • You eat nothing but plant materials
  • Above and honey
  • Above and dairy
  • Above and eggs
  • Above and fish
  • Above and poultry
  • Above and the very rare occasional mammalian meat

I’ll also mention a couple of the more extreme examples:

  • You eat nothing but plant materials that killed themselves by jumping off the mother plant
  • You eat nothing but plant materials that involved no level of human or animal slavery

So as you can see there are quite a few vegetarian differences to explore on your way to fitness and health. I myself make no level of judgement, and consider that anyone eating a balanced healthy diet with the intent of continuous improvement is just awesome and needs to be encouraged. Taunts of “you’re not a real vegetarian” are not helpful. If you have an agenda in promoting any of the vegetarian differences in the above bullet-points, then relax and slowly encourage your friends. Don’t shut them down with strong opinions stated in a way they can only accept as rude.

Vegetarian Differences: a blender full of fruit gracing the cover of my diet plan book
Vegetarian Differences: a blender full of fruit gracing the cover of my diet plan book

In my book The 100 Calorie Diet Plan [MORE INFO] I explain my plan with encouragement to reduce your reliance on meat products. Getting a lot of your calories from meat within a portion control system can be difficult. How do you feel? Have you tried it? How did it work for you? Let me know…

Snowshoe Hiking in Colorado

I’ve been running a lot this past winter. We’ve had a lot of snow this past month and the trails I usually use are very deep soft snow. Even the roads that the snowmobiles pack down are really loose and bad footing to run on. At the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake this January I was talking to a sales rep for a Colorado snowshoe manufacturer and he recommended I try snowshoe hiking.

Snowshoe Hiking Selfie - note the really cool shades
Snowshoe Hiking Selfie – note the really cool shades

I have a pair of MSR Evo Ascent Snow Shoes, and so long as you’re not trying to run, they’re decent enough for snowshoe hiking. I used them on Denali in 2011 and on Rainier a few years before that. I talked to the sales rep about switching out to running snowshoes, but thought I’d get some miles in with snowshoe hiking before I try running.

I started at the road intersection where the county stops plowing and put the snowshoes on. I headed up the hill trying to match my recent loose snow running pace of around 17:00 per mile. That’s really slow for some of you sea level pavement runners. Just for fun try running at 10,000′ and in shin deep loose snow over creek overflow ice and chopped up ice from the snowcat treads. With my snowshoe hiking pace I was able to stay within a minute or two plus or minus of that pace. My heart rate was good in the upper ranges of my primary training zone.

Snowshoe hiking behind Labonte's Cabin and Santiago Express at Keystone Resort
Snowshoe hiking behind Labonte’s Cabin and Santiago Express at Keystone Resort

After snowshoe hiking 3.1 miles (about 5k) I got to the base of the lifts at Keystone Resort. This is the road that the Ski Patrol uses to access the Outback and North Peak area of Keystone. I took a few pics and turned back toward the paved road with the target of doing a 10K, about 6.2 miles. I popped off my snowshoes at the shuttle bus stop. The roads were really bad from the snowstorm. I was glad to get to the hot tub after that. I was dressed very lightly since my intent was to go fast enough to stay warm.

Snowshoe Hiking Video

Is snowshoe hiking a good workout?

By the time I was done with my snowshoe hike I really felt the difference with that extra pound or so on each foot. I was wearing heavy goretex trail running shoes and I could feel the snowshoe bindings in a few spots on my foot. My legs were pretty tired. My stats from Movescount.com CLICK HERE show that I have a 29 hour recovery period coming my way after burning 1097 calories. If you go to that link to check it out, you will see some of the stats in Metric unless you register. Here’s a screenshot from my account so you can see my heart rate zones and other information to evaluate whether snowshoe hiking could be good cross training in your plan.

Snowshoe hiking stats on Suunto Movescount website
Snowshoe hiking stats on Suunto Movescount website

Snowshoe Hiking Tips:

Dress appropriate to your movement and speed and your body will go that fast. If you’re dressed like the Michelin Man you will shuffle along at a 1.0 MPH pace. Your hike will take forever. You might not have fun unless your goal is to count pine cones.

Same for shoes. You can go in Sorel style Mukluks or whatever you want. I’ve been on Denali in Everest Style System Boots (the big heavy boots with built in gaiters for high altitude and frigid temps) with snowshoes. I was wearing heavy running shoes today. The snowshoe racers wear racing flats with their snowshoes.

Learn to use a Nordic Grip on your trekking poles. This will allow you the most flexibility in using them for pushing off as well as balance. They’re not there to hold you up while shuffling. In the video I had to carry my poles in one hand so I could hold the camera in the other, so you don’t get to see pole action. I’ll try to get a non-selfie shot for you so you can see it.

Snowshoe Hiking Keystone Gulch GPS Track

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This won’t be my last time snowshoe hiking this winter. I’ll keep you up to date on how it works out for me. If you have any questions or suggestions, please drop me a note below in the comments. Thanks.

Spiked Running Shoes: Hoka One One Stinson EVO

Spiked running shoes are essential gear for the Winter runner. I had a pair of Hoke One One Stinson EVO with about 300 miles of trail use on them and I thought that I would be able to extend their life by spiking them. I also have a pair of Mafate WP that I’ve turned into spiked running shoes ARTICLE HERE.

Spiked Running Shoes in the snow without gaiters
Spiked Running Shoes in the snow without gaiters

I do a lot of trail running outside in the Winter. Up here in Summit County Colorado that’s sometimes about 6 months, give or take a little. It’s great training for moving fast on glaciers and it helps you build up resistance to the cold. The coldest I’ve been out now is -10/-24 Real Feel. It was cold. Yeah.

I began the spiked running shoes project just the same as with the Mafate. I brushed off the soles and drilled little holes for the screws – #6 x 3/8″. The rubber on the Stinson is pretty thin so you don’t really need longer screws, though it won’t hurt anything in the thick rubber midsoles. I used a power driver to put the screws in and then hand-tightened them a turn at the end. If you compare these photos with the Mafate WP, you’ll see that I have a lot more screws in the mid-foot area in the arch. I found over time that I spend a lot more time there than on my heels on flat surfaces, so I put more screws there. Screws on the heels are essential to downhill running so don’t skimp there. I put a screw more forward for pushing off with the toe.

Spiked Running Shoes: Stinson EVO Gallery

Since I created these spiked running shoes for winter training use, I’ve put about another 100 miles on them on varied surfaces. I’ve used them on dirt roads that are commonly used for snowmobiles and snowcats at a local ski resort. I’ve used them on single-track trails on mountain ascents. I’ve used them for running on ice-slicked and snow-packed roads and paved recreation paths. They work pretty good overall. It’s especially good if you consider that the screws all together cost about $1.00 US. Compare that to a set of Kahtoola Microspikes at $60 or more. I think it’s one of those 80/20 things (Pareto’s Principle) – the screws work on about 80% of what the spikes would.

Spiked running shoes next to their tracks - note obvious screw head imprints
Spiked running shoes next to their tracks – note obvious screw head imprints

Spiked Running Shoes Disclaimer

I had contacted Hoka One One about the midsole to find out if there were any plates or gas bladders to worry about when drilling or screwing. They said there was nothing to worry about. I saw some air channels in a cut-away sole at the OR Show in January 2014, but nothing significant. Your shoe might have some type of plastic plate in the midsole layers. Your shoe might have air or gas bladders. Your shoe might have a very thin midsole. If you don’t know for sure, then please don’t attempt to convert it into a spiked running shoe.

When wearing them, be very careful walking on tile floors. They might actually feel slippery on tile. They might also tear up your carpet or scratch your tile. Walking on metal grid stairways is a bit sketchy (BTDT). On boiler-plate hard blue ice you will still skate. I slid over 20′ down a steep grade where a creek flowed over the road and froze. I was flailing and pedaling with my feet trying to find something they would catch on for traction. I finally managed to steer to the side and stop in ankle deep hard snow.

Remember, I know nothing about you or your shoes so be careful and don’t get hurt while making them or running in them.

If you have spiked running shoes, either ones you’ve made yourself, or that you bought ready to run, let me know on my Facebook Page HERE and share pics of your soles. I’d love to see what you have.

Inspirational Sayings: Man on Top

Inspirational Sayings are one of my favorite “down-time” activities on Pinterest, like MY INSPIRATIONAL SAYINGS BOARD which is one of my favorites.

Inspirational Sayings: The Man on Top of the Mountain Didn't Fall There - Vince Lombardi
Inspirational Sayings: The Man on Top of the Mountain Didn’t Fall There – Vince Lombardi

The photo I used to create this inspirational sayings poster was from my summit of the Carstensz Pyramid on 30 April 2013. At the time I thought I had a cracked rib, but it was damaged sternum cartilage and torn intercostal muscles (as diagnosed by physicians in Tembagapura, Papua, Indonesia, and Orem, Utah, USA). It was a tough upward battle of mind over muscle as each pull upward with my right arm, and each downward rappel braking motion shot waves of agony through my chest. I wrote about it in my book Carstensz, Stone Age to Iron Age CLICK HERE.

Inspirational Sayings in your life

Several people have consulted with me on success topics, from money to health to fitness to athletic goals. I have encouraged some to create their own Pinterest boards of inspirational sayings that are especially meaningful to their situation. One of the cool things about being human is that we have the wealth of the wisdom of all of our ancestors available to us. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we want to go anywhere.

It’s the law of cause and effect at work. If we empty our bank account, the effect is that we can’t pay our bills. If we don’t work out the effect is that we don’t improve our fitness. That could lead to a more long-term effect like poor health and an early demise. Inspirational sayings are one way that we can exploit that wisdom.

The Man on Top of the Mountain Didn’t Fall There
– Vince Lombardi

If you want to be on top of the mountain, you don’t fall there. You climb there. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes training. It takes skills. If along the path you do fall, you get right back up and regain your ground and keep moving till you reach the summit. I’m available to offer support.

Speaking of support, reaching the summit, and training, do you remember my “Couch to Colorado Fourteener” ebook sample? After getting some feedback from some of the more vocal readers I have made several revisions and am almost ready to publish it as a training program. If you’re interested, drop me a note in the comments section and I’ll get some more details up for you.

Skiing Cross Training for Alpine Climbing

Could skiing cross training be the best for alpine climbing? It has a lot in common.

  • You’re out in the cold and snow
  • You’re wearing stiff clunky plastic boots
  • You’re wearing a helmet and goggles
  • You’re trying to stay in control on slippery stuff
  • You have to dig through a lot of layers to use the facilities

But aside from that I think skiing cross training is optimum because it’s really a great quad workout. I haven’t been doing a lot of skiing since I was in my early 20’s. It didn’t really fit in with building a family and career. When I married my wife in 2005 I began skiing again off and on. It was pretty frustrating because ski technology changed drastically in the intervening 20 years. Snowboarding took off hugely, which changed the character of the snow you typically ski on. Anyone my age who is suddenly dropped into a ski run shared with snowboarders will confirm this sad truth.

This past year I had the opportunity to get a family ski pass, so have taken my kids out several times to teach them how to ski and enjoy the great terrain at Keystone Resort. It’s been a blast, to say the least. My boots don’t fit right anymore. I got them when I was much heavier, at over 230 pounds. My feet changed a lot over the past several years of running and training and just getting older. I can make them work for now though until I can get around to deciding if I’ll be doing enough skiing cross training to justify the expense.

This past week we had nearly three feet of fresh powder snow to play in. The kids loved it, and fell a lot trying to figure out the new surface area. Here’s a video of our powder day out on Thursday:

Now on to the serious skiing cross training.

Skiing Cross Training Suggestions

Skiing cross training can be best utilized by realizing the combinations of strength and movement in the angles best suited to developing the same types of strength that you would use in climbing. You use your quads a lot in skiing. You also use your core and glutes, and in my case anyway, the IT Band gets a great deal of work. You use your poles much the same as trekking poles.

  • Emphasize your concentration on the up-down movement with your knees and hips.
  • Concentrate on your knees coming under your center of gravity.
  • Reach for your pole placement and try to see both poles at all times.
  • Skate as much as you can with proper Nordic Pole action, on the flats and on uphills.
  • Try to feel “rest” as you straighten your legs and flex your feet to relax them in your boots.
  • Static positions under high pressure, like in a GS style turn, are realistic for alpine climbing. I heard this great suggestion from Steve House

I use my Suunto Ambit2 S Heart Rate Monitor/GPS Watch. I won it in an Instagram contest last Spring. It has an Alpine Skiing setting that displays vertical feet, average speeds and heart rates. I think it’s an excellent choice for skiing cross training if you want to take it seriously.

Skiing Cross Training Data: quick stats overview
Skiing Cross Training Data: quick stats overview

Notice in the above photo that I’ve gone over 8000′ of vertical and consumed nearly 1000 calories in that skiing cross training session. It suggests that I need 14 hours to recover from that workout. The next photo shows a graph of heart rate and altitude. You can see when I’m in the lift lines and when I pause along the routes to catch my breath.

Skiing Cross Training Graph: Heart Rate and Altitude
Skiing Cross Training Graph: Heart Rate and Altitude

This next screenshot shows the map of the route I took for these four runs for my skiing cross training session earlier today. It was a busy Saturday skiing with our recent snowfall, but the runs weren’t so busy that any of us felt crowded. I suppose that’s because Keystone is such a big resort.

GPS Map of my Skiing Cross Training route
GPS Map of my Skiing Cross Training route

Those are a few of the key points I use for my own skiing cross training with an emphasis on alpine and ice climbing. If you’re skiing this year, let me know what you do to keep in your best shape for your own climbing.