live and learn. living is learning.

CEO of my company asked all employees to read this article and I think it’s a very healthy read for anyone. Via the NY Times Business section: Q and A with Chauncey Mayfield — President & CEO of MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors.

I became very comfortable over the years with older people.  I always thought I could learn something from them.  Tell me, teach me — how does this work?

Full Article

[Review] Merrell Women’s Pace Glove

Back in March, I named four running shoes I would keep my eye on this year as I was on the market for a pair of minimalist trail running/hiking shoes. After two months of deliberation, I picked the Merrell Women’s Pace Glove. I think Merrell, as a shoe company, is one of the few that has truly embraced the minimalist movement (rather than other companies that are just following the market). They’ve started their own barefoot race series (The Merrell Naked Foot 5k) and maintain a blog dedicated to barefoot running. At the beginning of this year they introduced a great barefoot/minimalist shoe line. One plus (for me) is that they’ve collaborated with Vibram to manufacture the rubber soles for the entire line; it makes me feel like I’m not cheating on my Bikilas!

Here’s a snippet from the website:

Merrell Barefoot (Trail and Pace Glove) named Best Debut by Runner’s World Magazine, April 2011.

Best Trail Running Shoe: Shape Magazine, 2011 Shoe Guide

Designed specifically for women, less is definitely more when exploring with our Vibram®-soled Pace Glove natural adventure shoe. All the protection your feet need from rocks and roots, and an ultra-lightweight upper with a synthetic leather foot sling for stability fits like a glove.

Construction:
Heel-Forefoot-Drop: The pace glove is categorized as a “zero-drop” shoe. This means that there is 0mm from the ball to the heel (no raised heel) — just like the way your feet are naturally designed!

Toe-box: When I first tried them on at the store, I thought it was a bit strange how much room there was in the toe-box. My feet fit them lengthwise perfectly and I knew that they were designed to be worn without socks. So it wasn’t until I finally ran in them, that it clicked why there was so much space. The extra room gives your toes a certain kind of freedom similar to that felt in Vibram FiveFingers. In this way, because the toes are not strapped down too tightly, it functions nicely to emulate barefoot running.

Other Concerns: I have seen complaints that the elastic heel can create blisters or cut into the heel. I personally haven’t run into any issues like that at all; I find it rather comfortable, actually. There’s always moleskin available for the rescue if that does end up happening.

Look
There are four available colorways on the website: Lavender-Lustre, Chili Pepper, Yellow, and Black. All are very pretty, in my humble opinion. Local REI stores currently only offer Black and Lavender-Luster for the women’s line. The male equivalent, the Trail Glove, is offered at REI in Smoke-Adventure Yellow and Black/Red. Note: if you’re used to the attention that VFF’s inevitably bring, you will not be getting it while wearing the Pace Glove. Perhaps people will be looking at my face more now as opposed to my feet!

Feel
I test drove them out on both treadmill and pavement this past week and they felt great; beautifully light, springy, and flexible. Surprisingly, it was quite a comparable experience to running in the Bikilas and will serve as a great alternative. What does set it apart is that I know I’ll be able to use these for trail running; I stepped on all sorts of surfaces and wasn’t phased by any of the changes. I’m really impressed by Merrell in their first line of barefoot shoes, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll continue to give us in the future.

PHOTOSHOOT

Flexibility Test: Pass

Top

Top 2

Elastic Heel

Lateral

Sole

Vibram Logo


Broken Record: Form.Does.Matter

Just when I learned my lesson in the pool about form, how timely it is that Runner’s World would post this article: Does Running Form Matter?

In most sports, technique and performance are closely linked. Take golf, for example: Golfers derive power from their hips, so hip engagement and rotation are pretty well correlated with how far and accurately a golfer can drive a ball. Running is different. How fast somebody runs is mostly about bioenergetics—the internal stuff, like the strength of the heart and efficiency of the muscles—not biomechanics, which is how individual body parts move together. If you wanted to go fast, you were better off lining up for intervals, not perfecting your arm swing.

Recently, however, the hands-off approach to running form has been called into question throughout the sport, from scientists like Larson and Harvard’s Daniel Lieberman to elite coaches like Alberto Salazar. Meanwhile, chatter on the topic fills running forums and blogs. Form, it seems, suddenly matters.

It’s long, but definitely worth reading.

Luna Sandals

A couple months ago, a friend e-mailed me a link to Luna Sandals, with the subject line: The next big thing.

CIMG0899.jpeg

It wasn’t until I finished reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall, that I realized what I was actually looking at. The sandals above are called The Leadville, named after The Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run where sandals in similar construction were first run in the US (by the Tarahumara Indians from Mexico). Secondly, the name Luna comes from the Tarahumara Indian, named Manuel Luna, who taught Barefoot Ted how to make his own sandal to run in. Barefoot Ted is the co-founder of Luna Sandals and ran with the Tarahumara, Christopher McDougall, and others in the race that is depicted in Born to Run.

It was like a mini revelation all coming together in my head at once. The running world has such a close-nit community that not many people know about. I’m ready to keep spreading the word!

As for the sandals, I’m not sure I’ll be trying them for myself any time soon, but I love the idea. Perhaps someday it will be the next big thing.

[Proper Form II] Cycling

I have not been biking since the biking season ended last Fall so I knew getting back into it would be hard while training for my first tri. I decided to start on a stationary bike at the rec center and boy was it a noobtastic experience.

I placed my feet on the pedals and just went Go! The first mile was EXTREMELY tiring and my butt burned like it has never burned before. After that first mile, I began to think about how my form could improve. I immediately noticed that I was pushing the pedals with the arches of my feet instead of the balls of my feet. That’s a big no-no in cycling. I made the change and suddenly the next 4 miles were a breeze (aside from the butt burn — that can only be cured with more conditioning).

Other form tips:

  • Saddle height: your knees should be bent just slightly when the bottom pedal is in the 6 o’clock position.
  • Knees: Your knees should go in a up and down motion and not outwards.
Besides that, I still consider myself a beginner cyclist, so if you have any tips, please throw them my way!

Lesson of the Day: Form DOES Matter

As I have mentioned in the past, one of my fitness goals for 2011 is to complete my first triathlon. I decided that the Virginia Run Sprint Triathlon would be a great way to start since it’s distances (250m swim, 12mi bike, 5k run) are relatively short compared to other sprint and international triathlons.

I started my swim training about a month ago and my main goal has been to steadily increase in lung capacity. After about 3 weeks, I had only been able to decrease my 250m swim time by 30 seconds. That is, until I decided to focus specifically on form. (Prior to this, I was only swimming the way I could remember from swim lessons 15 years ago).

I corrected my head position, my stroke, and and my breathing pattern. I could feel the difference almost immediately and it showed in my time. I was able to reduce my time another 60 seconds; and on top of that, I felt amazing. I did the same 250m set twice more and still had energy left. The point I’m trying to make is: if you take the time to work on proper form, it could be a completely different experience altogether. 

As a triathlete, this proposes one question: If there is a proper form for swimming which can increase efficiency, and the same goes for cycling, what about running? My answer: a big, huge YES. In general, most people (in our generation) just put on a pair of sneakers and go out on a run without even a thought if there is a better way to do it. I’m telling you, THERE IS! I’ll delve further into that thought on a future post.  Till then, I’ll leave you with a a side-by-side picture demonstrating improper and proper running form.

Macaro(o)n

Random, quick post on macaroon vs macaron.

Macaroon: The original macaroon was a “small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds.” Most commonly we see coconut macaroons in the market.

Macarons: Commonly filled with buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies.