Run Abroad: Tracking 101 Bucket List Races

Running in your hometown marathon is rewarding and comfortable. Year in and year out, it’s the same friendly faces at the finish line. Perhaps it’s time to change things up a bit. Why not try competing in a different state? Or if you really want to go the distance, why not check out a marathon in another country?

Renato, editor of RunningAbroad.com and international runner

For those who want to broaden their horizons, Renato, editor of RunAbroad.com, offers information on international marathons. With a tagline that reads “101 races to run before you die,” the site features marathons from Cyprus to Liechtenstein to the Channel Islands.

Renato launched RunAbroad.com in 2009 with a few friends who wanted to write about their marathon and travel experiences. And now? They’ve documented nearly 84 different marathons that circle the globe — well on their way to 101.

What inspired you to create RunAbroad.com?

I think there are many internationally known events like the marathons in NYC or London that need no introduction. But there are literally thousands of smaller races in amazing places where you can combine a lovely holiday and a wonderful run. We like the idea to suggest a new race every week, or interview a runner who suggests a new destination or event in a European city or beyond.

What does it take to run 101 races before you die?

A few pairs of running shoes. Some time off.

Can you tell us your top five race picks out of 101?

My favorite runs have been the Swissalpine in Davos, the Marathon des Alpes-Maritimes in France, the North Downs Run in the UK, the Hark the Herald Angels Run 25K in San Francisco and the Fim da Europa in Portugal.

Renato in Istanbul 2010

What are the characteristics of a great race or marathon?

The ones where at least 50 percent of the course I would have walked nevertheless as a tourist. And as a runner, I have a chance to run with no cars and buses around. No ballots, many local runners, friendly organizers, less than 15,000 participants, not too many loops and a sunny day are all great extras.

What country would you suggest not running in and why?

Countries you are not willing to travel to in the first place. And the ones where the only races available are booking through tour operators with no or very minimal local involvement. I find them somehow artificial events.

Where is your favorite place to run?

Trail running in Corsica.

Renato at Fim da Europa 2011

What has been your most challenging run?

Looking at the few I run in the past, I should say the Swissalpine in Davos. But somehow I found it easier than other city runs.

What’s your favorite brand of running shoes and why?

Salomon. I guess not many runners can say that they have run a trail marathon with their wedding shoes. But maybe I just have to thank a very understanding wife who let me buy a pair of Salomon Speedcross 2 for the wedding day.

Guess Which Billionaire Wears Brooks

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg creates a Facebook page for his dog, it’s news.

But when he wears Brooks running shoes in the pictures with his new pup on Facebook? It’s breaking news at Running Shoes Blog. With an estimated worth of $13.5 billion, Zuckerberg can probably afford a few pairs of the technical yet stylish athletic shoes.

Coincidentally (or not?), his new and fluffy Hungarian Sheepdog is named Beast, which also happens to be the name of a Brooks shoe style. However, it doesn’t appear to be the shoe in the photo above.

Now here’s the real challenge: Can anyone decipher what style of Brooks he is wearing?

[Image via Mashable]

Q&A: Trail Running Tips

Phong Chieng

Running on a path carved out by Mother Nature can prove to be much more of a challenge than that man-made track at the gym. Prepping for such a run requires additional planning and equipment.

Experienced trail runner Phong Chieng, who blogs about his outdoor excursions at Trail Running Blog, joins us this week to answer those questions. After running cross country for three years in high school as a way to stay out of trouble after school, Chieng has continued to train and blog. He shares tips on trail running, blogging and gear.

How often do you trail run?

Not as often as I would like. Trail running takes more time—driving to the location, figuring out where and how much to run. I did run a trail half marathon about a month ago. It was very challenging, but rewarding to finish, too.

How did you get into trail running?

When I first joined cross country in high school, quite a few of the races were on trails. Every day we ran on a horse/dirt trail. So when we raced on flatter surfaces, it felt a lot easier.

How is trail running different from other forms of running?

Trail running is a lot harder than traditional running. You have to be alert with your surroundings and focus more on your form when running up and down hills.

Does your gear differ?

I usually carry a hydration pack with me when I go trail running, just because it can get quite hot and public drinking fountains are almost always non-existent. In the hydration pack, I usually pack some snacks and my phone for emergencies.

Where is your favorite place to trail run?

There is a trail just north of where I live called Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. There’s a waterfall, which looks more like a river, about three miles away, which is a nice place to relax mid-run. Although I haven’t been there yet, I heard La Jolla/Torrey Pines has a great scenic trail with beautiful views of the ocean.

If you are new to trail running, are there any precautions to take?

Try not to go alone. If you have to, make sure to let someone know where you are going and how long you plan to be gone. You can easily get hurt or lost while on a trail run. Also make sure to bring hydration, snacks and a phone at all times.

You started your blog as a suggestion from your high school running coach. Did it help keep you motivated? Would you suggest blogging to other runners?

When I ran in high school, there was a teammate that I would always compete against. Most of the (pre-blog) journal entries were about how well I did against that teammate. So, on days I did not run as well or did not beat my teammate, it kept me motivated and made me want to try even harder the next day to run faster.

Blogging is a great way for runners to log all their runs (and look back on them) but also have a place to share their stories for others to read. It’s a great way to keep you motivated and receive support from other runners.

In one blog post you refer to running as “daily punishment.” So why do it?

That was actually a quote from another blog, but there are days that it does feel like a punishment. There are days when I don’t want to get up in the morning to run and just sleep in for that extra hour or two. But it’s important to understand that any training you do now will pay off and benefit in the future.

What’s the most difficult part of being a runner?

Letting your mind tell you to slow down. There is always a point in a run when you’re too tired and you make internal ‘negotiations’ to slow down, run less or just stop completely. Being able to overcome that feeling is a victory in itself.

Do you think you’ll ever run a marathon? Why or why not?

I’ve actually ran two now. The most recent was the LA Marathon in the most terrible weather conditions I’ve ever ran in. The marathon is not something you can just wake up and do; it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to complete. It still amazes me how many people participate every week. But it’s definitely something I would recommend everyone to try at least once in their life. The feeling you get when you cross that finish list is something you’ll never regret.

What’s your favorite brand of running shoes and why?

My last two pairs of running shoes have been Brooks, and I have a pair of trainers on its way that I’m hoping to use for shorter distance races. They seem to fit me well, are very comfortable and I’ve never had an injury running in them. So I definitely can’t complain.

What would be the coolest thing you could imagine to be at the finish line?

Easy. Running a 3:09:59 at any marathon, which would qualify me for Boston, winning in my age group and smashing my current marathon PR of 3:40.

Top 9 Ugliest Running Shoes Ever

Technical running shoes are often criticized for being “ugly.” Usually these negative comments come from non-runners who lack the appreciation of a good pair of shoes.

But to deem something “ugly” is really a subjective thing. Everyone has a different idea of what ugly really means. For example, many believe Vibram FiveFingers to be the epitome of icky footwear. Others peg that on Crocs or Uggs.

Running the gamut of cringe-worthy to oh-my-gosh-look-away, we dug up what we believe to be the top nine most hideous and horrifying crimes against running shoe fashion ever committed. Did we forget your favorite? Be sure to add a link to it in the comments section.

Running Clogs

While they might be excellent stability shoes, we can guarantee that wooden cushioning is not the way to go.

Futuristic Footwear?

This shoe atrocity was inspired by Back to the Future II. If this is what the future looks like, let’s not go there. Ever.

Just Bieber It

Let’s hope Bieber fever is not contagious. And someone finds a cure for it. Quickly.

Track Meat

Part of Lady Gaga’s new shoe line perhaps? Either way, this is a surefire way to distract opponents and give flies something to buzz about. Yuck.

Crusty Combo

 

It might be just us, but the color scheme of this shoe sort of reminds us of the layers of the Earth. Whatever it is, it’s unfortunate.

Rainbow Brite

Please don’t wear these unless you are actually serious about time traveling back to 1985 to stand in line for the Rainbow Brite movie.

Devil of a Shoe

Sure, this is really only an ad. But if someone actually wants to pump up the volume in these fire-engine red speaker kicks? We will be OK with it. Because to be honest, we can’t decide whether this shoe is atrocious or actually awesome.

Eyesore Kicks

Dragons, lizards, snakes … whatever it may be, these sneakers definitely have a creepy reptilian vibe that we just can’t escape. And those eyes. They have to be the kind that follow onlookers around the room.

Hannibal Lecter’s Shoes

What takes the cake of repulsiveness? This human flesh shoe. Is it real? No. But does it look real? Yes. And it also moves by using animatronics robotics. Beyond sick.

Best Running Shoes for Zombie Apocalypse Survival

It all started when I woke up this morning thinking about a zombie apocalypse. Now you might be saying to yourself: “That’s an odd thing to think about first thing in the morning.” Well, not really. See, I’m one of those “weirdos” who spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I’d do if the walking dead/rabid rage-filled hordes were to suddenly pop up all over the world.

Plus, this being Zombie Awareness Month, who isn’t thinking about zombies?

Sure, you can run. But can you outrun this undead horde? Image via Flickr

So anyway, this morning I’m staring into my closet and I think: “What would I wear when the world is in shambles and zombies are snacking on everyone in sight?” This of course leads to me to stare down at my shoes, only to discover I have nothing that would be appropriate to run for my life in. Not good. Thus I began my quest to find the perfect zombie-apocalypse shoe.

My criteria are simple:

  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Skid-resistant (if possible)

Why running shoes? Why not military boots? Oddly enough, this is a heated debate in the zombie-fearing community.  Personally, I don’t feel comfortable in military boots, and when my life is on the line, I want to be comfortable. I’m not going to debate the pros and cons between running shoes and military boots here; suffice to say that my footwear of choice will be running shoes. There are also some great trail runners out there, but I’m still sticking to genuine runners as I’ll have a pair of hiking boots in my emergency pack to supplement my runner shoes. Finally, I’m not a pronator so everything I tried on is a neutral shoe.

 

Brand: Asics

Styles tested: Nimbus, Cumulus

Zombie-apocalypse ready? Asics always manages to make a good shoe. However, these are a little too cushioned. On the plus side, the gel system is nicer than foam cushioning and will last much longer, especially during intense zombie runs. Both have Heel Fit technology that will mold to the shape of the heel over time to make a more personalized shoe. So, that’s a big plus.

Bottom line: The Nimbus would be my back-up shoes in the apocalypse.

Asics GEL-Cumulus 13

Brand: Brooks

Styles tested: Glycerin 8, Ghost 3

Zombie-apocalypse ready? Overall Brooks was my favorite brand to try. I’d never worn a Brooks shoe before and was pleasantly surprised. I found that both shoes slide on easily, which is a necessity when you’re awakened in the middle of the night by a dead moan outside your safehouse. The Ghost 3 felt a little loose in the heel but was otherwise nice. The Glycerin 8’s outsole is a high durability, abrasion-resistant rubber that should provide the longevity I’m looking for. Glycerin also has a ‘Sprung Platform’ makes the shoe curl up in the toe. I found that this helps propel me forward.

Z Award: Best shoe to be wearing during a zombie chase? Brooks Glycerin 8. It’s easy-on, breathable mesh and features a sprung platform to assist in forward momentum.

Bottom line: These shoes just might give me the advantage over the worst kind of zombie of all—the fast kind.

Brooks Men’s Glycerin 8

Brand: Mizuno

Styles tested: Wave Creation 12, Wave Rider 14

Zombie-apocalypse ready? The Wave plate in these shoes is just not my thing. Although the Mizuno line has a lot of great technologies that they build into their shoes, the Wave is one that I can’t seem to get behind. It makes the shoes feel very stiff and unforgiving. The Wave Rider 14 has a smaller plate so it isn’t as noticeable, but I wish there was a bit more arch support in this shoe.

Z Award: Best shoe to give to your slow-moving “friend” who is bait: Mizuno Wave Creation 12. Good shoe but takes a while to get used to and in a zombie pandemic there is no time.

Bottom line: Both of these shoes have Mizuno’s X10 technology in the outsole to create a longer-lasting heel, which could be very helpful when outrunning zombies who are willing to go the distance.

Mizuno Women’s Wave Creation 12

Brand: New Balance

Styles tested: 759, 890

Zombie-apocalypse ready? New Balance was my initial favorite going into this. I had tried the 890’s out before and really enjoyed them. They have a good balance between flexibility and stability, which allows me to roll forward smoothly. The 759 was too stiff for me due to the full length Abzorb board, but  the updated version (880), which is due out soon, is supposed to have a smaller shank. Oddly, the 890 has the same board but was nowhere near as noticeable for me. The 890 was also the lightest-weight shoe I tried, which can make a big difference in how fast my legs get tired.

Z Awards: Best shoe to wear if you’re a zombie: New Balance 993. Good support shoe for decaying feet. Best shoe to give to your slow moving friend who you like: New Balance 890. Great shoe with good bounce. Non-runners and runners alike will enjoy this one.

Bottom line: When its snack time for the walking dead, you won’t want anything weighing you down. New Balance provides one of the lightest option to get you off their menu.

 

New Balance Men’s 890

Brand: Nike

Styles tested: Vomero 6, LunarGlide

Zombie-apocalypse ready? I love the Vomero’s cushion and heel wrap and the LunarGlide felt lightweight, but I don’t think these shoes will last long. I also found that my feet moved around a bit from side to side in the LunarGlide if I was taking a sudden turn.

Bottom line: Don’t get me wrong, Nike is a great brand with some great shoes, but neither of these are pandemic friendly in my opinion.

Nike Men’s Vomero 6

Brand: Saucony

Styles tested: ProGrid Triumph 8, ProGrid Ride 3

Zombie-apocalypse ready? Although I have some Saucony Kinvaras that I love, these two shoes disappointed me. These shoes have stiff heels in the uppers that make them difficult to get on. Triumph 8 had a better balance of cushioning and flexibility and made for a more comfortable run than the Ride 3.

Z Award: Best shoe to wear if you want to be eaten: Saucony Ride 3. Stiff upper in heel and not a lot of bounce.

Bottom line: Both the Triumph 8 and the Ride 3 would not be shoes I’d want to be wearing while chased by zombies.

Saucony Women’s ProGrid Triumph 8

‘Runner’s World’ Showcases New Balance Neutral Shoes

Runner's World June Issue

The latest from New Balance seems to be a media darling this season. After recently being featured in a recent issue of Men’s Fitness, the ultra lightweight New Balance 890 is making a follow-up appearance in the June 2011 issue of Runner’s World.

What is it about this running shoe that’s worth talking about?

After being scrutinized at the Runner’s World Shoe Lab, the 890 was deemed the “go-to marathon-training shoe.” The shoe was commended for its cushioning and flexibility, and wear testers commented on its light weight and comfort.

Not to be outdone, the New Balance 880 (previously 759) also made it into the Summer Shoe Guide. It was recommend as a neutral cushioned shoe for intermediate to advanced runners. Other well-known running brands such as Brooks, Saucony and Asics were also featured in the guide.

New Balance 890

Earlier this year, Running Network magazine named New Balance 1080 (previously 1064) the “Best Neutral Shoe” calling it the “pinnacle of neutral cushioning.” It was praised for its ability to cradle the foot through each strike. Wear testers said the shoes held up well over time, too.

Do you wear neutral running shoes? What neutral shoe would you recommend?

Q&A: How to Run and Lose Weight

David Hylton runs because ... he can!

Before walking down the wedding aisle, David Hylton pledged to drop some weight in 2004. At 220 pounds, he made the life-altering decision to start running on a regular basis.

Since that time he lost 30 pounds and has participated in numerous marathons. He blogs about his athletic experiences at Running … Because I Can, where he has shared his ups and down starting in 2007. He joined us via email to chat about his diet regime, his blog and #runchat, a twice-a-month live Twitter question-and-answer session.

Just as the title of your blog says, you run because you can. Why else do you run?

I started running to lose weight for my wedding in 2004. That same year cancer hit three of my family members. Losing weight and going through all that was a major wake-up call for me to live a healthier lifestyle. That alone is enough reason to keep me going all the time.

You mention you were “naturally” athletic as a kid. What happened in college that caused you to stray from your athletic ways?

I use the word “naturally” loosely. I was active — rec league basketball, playing football on the neighborhood street, riding my bike for no reason and even some track in high school kept me in shape without realizing it. With college those things went out the door, and I was introduced to buffet style meals every day for every meal, easy access to pizza and, of course, beer. It all got gradually worse with each passing year.

I wasn’t completely lazy; I would play tennis every so often my last couple of years after taking a tennis class. But I really got to loving beer. As for the easy access to pizza, my college had a direct line to Dominoes –*37. That would be *DP.

What advice can you give to once-athletic folks who want to get back on track?

It’s amazing to me how easily people give up and think things happen overnight. Our society makes it seem like it can happen like that. It’s cliché, but true: Take it one day at a time. Don’t make it a goal to run a marathon if you haven’t even made it a mile yet.

The photo that sparked Hylton to start running on the road to weight loss.

I think it’s important that you’re mentally ready. I kept putting off “tomorrow” day after day, week after week, month after month. I don’t know why it clicked when it did, but I just had that feeling that I knew I was finally ready. People who want to lose weight or get in better shape or quit smoking can do it … when their mind is ready.

We often hear that running is the best method of weight loss. Would you agree with that? Is there any particular regime you follow when looking to drop a few pounds?

When I started running, I didn’t just run. I changed my diet — more fruits and vegetables and smaller portions of things. Initially when I ate out, I would take half my meal and put it in a to-go box. If I wanted a burger, I still got a burger, but I got vegetables instead of fries.

To answer the question honestly, no, running is not the best method. The best method is a combination of things. For the last question, I really struggle to answer that as I’m still looking to lose those “final” five to ten pounds. I know in order to do that I have to get back to basics.

After Hylton's first half marathon in 2006

Tell us about #runchat. When did you start it?

The idea of #runchat came up about a year ago after Scott from iRunnerBlog.com (and @iRunnerBlog on Twitter) and I crossed paths on #fitblog — an awesome weekly chat held Tuesday evenings where everything about fitness is discussed. Scott and I had exchanged comments on our blogs before, and we both launched our dotcom running sites about the same time. I had already been blogging for three years but switched to a dotcom last April.

After several emails, thoughts and research, we launched #runchat in June. It was initially held on Thursday evenings, but we soon discovered that there many other chats at that time, and our schedules kept getting in the way of things. So we took a small break and then relaunched #runchat on the second and fourth Sundays every month at 8 p.m. ET — it’s taken off since then. We have between 200-300 people participating in each chat; the #runchat tag is now used dozens of times a day by other runners just asking questions, using it to post to their blogs or using it to just talk about running in general.

Who can participate?

#runchat is open to anyone. We have runners just starting out, marathon veterans, middle of the pack runners, barefoot runners — you name it. Everyone has been there. I can’t stress enough how much we want to keep #runchat open to anyone.

We usually ask about five questions in that hour and try to form the question in a way that everyone can participate. As we approach #runchat’s first anniversary, Scott and I have some things going on that will continue to improve the #runchat experience.

What is your favorite running shoes brand?

I love Brooks. My last few pairs of shoes have been Brooks Ravenna. Now that the original Ravenna is on closeout and harder to find, later this year I am probably going to go back to square one and get refitted and analyzed to make sure I get the right shoe. If that happens to be Ravenna 2 or some other brand, I am fine. I would love to be brand loyal, but I also want to get what’s right.

What other running gear has helped you along the way?

There are so many things I really like a lot — like toe socks, my Garmin, my iPod a few times a month — but with running it comes down to being comfortable. Back in 2006 when I was in a training group, I was encouraged to buy non-cotton clothes. I made the transition that year to everything non-cotton and haven’t looked back.

‘Men’s Fitness’ Features Mizuno Wave Musha 3

It’s not everyday someone names the best shoes out there. But that’s exactly what the editors at Men’s Fitness did in its April issue.

Mizuno Wave Musha 3 was their top choice for racing shoes. To be more specific, the magazine called the Musha 3’s flashy flats that are “light and fast but have enough support and cushioning to keep your feet from getting battered on asphalt.”

The other picks included in the write-up were New Balance 890s for added cushioning and Saucony ProGrid Mirage for support.

Why did they pick the Mizuno Wave Musha 3 as the best racing shoe?

Perhaps it’s because the unisex shoe is lightweight at 7.8 ounces and highly breathable with its Mizuno AIRmesh upper. It was designed for pesky over-pronating, which happens especially for those with flat feet. The forefoot contains blown rubber that adds to the shoe’s overall feather-like weight, flexibility and grip.

When you wear the Musha 3, you are also wearing Mizuno’s trademark wave technology. This technology was born from the natural shape of a wave. The idea is to create shape that pushes the foot through an entire stride. By doing this, it will take impact forces away from the foot for a smoother ride.

Tell us about your favorite racing shoes. What features matter to you?

Finding Humor in Running

Running Humorist Mike Antonucci

Some runners take their sport very seriously. Then there are those who take it, well, less seriously. Mike Antonucci is one of those people. And he is proud of it.

As the brains behind RunningIsFunny.com, Antonucci does what he can to find the most LOL-inducing stories every day. He created the site due to the plethora of uber-serious publications dedicated to running. “Let’s lighten up!” he exclaims on his “About Us” page. “Running is funny … and fun.”

Perhaps it has to do with all those endorphins floating around. We decided to ask Antonucci and find out.

Why is running so funny?

Have you seen the people out there? It’s the only thing you can do that makes your body feel great while you look ridiculous.

When is it not so funny?

When you have completed a marathon and there are 17,000 people in the line in front of you for a cup of lukewarm tomato soup—for which you would gladly sell your soul at that moment.

Do all runners have a sense of humor?

Runners as a group do have a better sense of humor than most amateur athletes. You never see someone show up for a round of golf in a rhino suit or play tennis while juggling.

Can you share with us your most funny running memory?

I once thought I could qualify for Boston. That’s pretty funny now that I remember it.

What about the most funny running video?

That’s like choosing your favorite child, but I like this TV ad called “The Day after the Marathon.”

Can you explain The Carnival of Running?

The Carnival of Running is a weekly compilation of humorous and odd running stories, races and blogs. Sometimes they share a single theme. I’ve had carnivals devoted entirely to Santa races and pancakes.

Is running and laughing at the same time advisable, or is it the same as laughing while drinking milk?

I would suggest Gallow-laughing, where you run for 3 minutes then laugh for 1.

What about the funniest type of running shoes? Does such a thing exist?

Well, I’ve written quite a bit about stiletto races, and I’m sure everyone thinks I’m going to say Vibram Five Fingers…. but funniest running shoe has to be the kind that look like hairy hobbit feet.

Running shoes built for The Funny Pages.

 

Endorphin Rush: Arc’teryx New Running Line

Endorphins. The sudden release of chemicals into the brain during intense cardio always seems to make everything all better. It’s what gives us that runner’s high.

It’s also the name of Arc’teryx’s new spring running line.

The British Columbia-based manufacturer said it created the line around the question: “How can we perform better?” The line infuses lightweight, breathable materials with Phasic fabric that absorbs perspiration in order to keep you dry. The colorful collection includes head-turning hues such as sapphire, poppy, cardinal red, magenta and chartreuse.

Check out some of our favorites from Arc’teryx Endorphin below.

What’s your favorite new running gear for spring?