Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dr. Cool Wrap Review

 I have been dealing with shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, sore knees and hips for quite a while now.  I usually use a foam roller and ice at night before I go to bed.  Dr. Cool came up with a great product that allows you to ice while you are on a run, climbing a mountain, or just out and about.

The Dr. Cool Wrap combines the benefits of ice and compression in one good looking package.  There are three sizes:

3” x 25” Wrap for smaller areas.  This is ideal for Plantar Fasciitis, your wrist, and ankle.
4” x 50” Wrap for medium areas.  This is ideal for your elbow, knee, shin, and calf.
6” x 50” Wrap for larger areas.  This is ideal for back, shoulder, and thigh.

Each size is offered in 7 colors.  The 3” and 4” wraps also have an anchor hole which can be helpful when you start to wrap your injury.  It has a Velcro closure which does a very good job at holding the wrap in place. 
The Dr. Cool Wrap is very easy to use.  You simply wet the blue side and fold or roll the wrap up.  You throw it in the freezer for 20-40 minutes, then it is ready to use.  I found that it was a little difficult to wrap right after you pull it out of the freezer because it was still a little rigid.  You might have to rewrap it after a minute or two, but it fits perfectly after that.  

Made to use while on the go.
Combines  ice and compression in one package
Comes in three sizes and 7 colors
Ready to use in 20-40 minutes

It only stays (very) cold for 15-20 minutes
If you put it under clothes, it might look like you wet yourself

I am very pleased with this product.  It seems very durable and should hold up for a long time.  I like that I can use it during my runs.  During my test runs, it did not slip and it felt comfortable the entire time.  Even after the wrap wasn’t quite as cold, I could still feel the benefits of the compression.  I will be using the Dr. Cool Wrap in the future to tame my shin splints and other ailments. 

Keep your eyes peeled because I will be giving away a few Dr. Cool Wraps over the next few weeks.  Tell your friends to follow my blog for their chance to win as well.

Running Posture and Foot Placement

When I met with my running coach, he taught me the four keys to having good running form.  I have discussed having a cadence of 180 steps per minute and proper arm swing in my past blog posts.  I will talk about running posture and where your feet should strike the ground in this blog post.   

Most people don’t think of their posture when they run.  I know that I sure didn’t.  I was more worried about just finishing my runs and not my form.  There became a point where my runs got easier to finish and I wanted to focus on getting faster.  Having the right running form will not only help with your speed, but you will use less energy and will be less sore afterwards.  Having the right form is also a great way to reduce the risk of getting injured.  

It will take a practice to change your running form, so be patient.  You want to run with your chest forward while trying to stand tall.  You will want to have your shoulders back and relaxed.  You want to look straight ahead and keep your head at a neutral position.  If you look too far down or too far up, your head will throw your balance off.  I try to look about 25 feet ahead at the ground. 

You will also want to lean slightly forward.  A good way to figure out how far to lean is to stand with your feet at hips width apart.  Start leaning forward bending at the ankles (not bending your knees or waist).  As soon as you feel your heels lift off the ground, you have found your optimal leaning angle.  

It is important to know where your foot strikes the ground when thinking about running form.  Your foot should land directly under your hips and you should be landing softly.  If your foot lands in front of your hips, you will most likely be heel striking, which is one of the primary causes of shin splints, as well as knee and hip pain.  If you overstride, or try to have huge strides, you are actually slowing yourself down because your feet spend more time on the ground.  Think of it as putting the brakes on.  That is why having a quick cadence and having your feet land underneath you are so important.  

Hopefully this information on running form has been helpful to you.  I can tell you from my own personal experience that changing my running form has helped me run faster, more efficiently, and injury free.  If you have any questions on running form, please feel free to comment or email me and I will get back to you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How To Lace Like An Ace

When I started to run, I had no idea how to tie my shoes.  I know that sounds stupid, but let me explain.  I was asking my running friends if I should keep my laces tight or loose.  I felt that my calf tightness and shin splint pain could be related to how I tied my shoes.  I never got a definitive answer because each runner has a different preference on how tight they tie their shoes.  

I used Nathan Lock Laces for a while which are elastic cords with a lockout system.  This provides some flexibility and you don’t have to untie your shoes in order to take them off.  I loved the convenience factor, but wasn’t sure if it was also causing my laces to be too loose.  I searched online and found out that there are several alternative ways that you can lace your shoes in order to alleviate pain.  There are patterns for people with wide feet, high insteps, narrow heals, and even problems with your big toe (great if you get black toe nails).  Here is a great diagram that I found (courtesy of

My favorite lacing pattern is recommended by Altra.  It will allow your shoes to be tight in heel, relaxed over the arch (you should be able to put a finger under the laces here), and loose at the fore foot.  This works particularly well in Altra shoes where you have a wide toe box.

  1.  Start by running the lace straight across the bottom, over the tongue and downward into the shoe. Make sure both sides of the remaining lace are equal.
  2. Without crossing, skip under to the second set of holes, then over to the third set of holes.
  3. From the third holes to the fourth holes, cross the laces over the top of each other and insert downward into the holes on the opposite side. Continue this crossing technique until you reach the second-to-last set of holes.
  4. String the lace into the last holes upward from underneath. Create a small loop with each end by threading the lace back into the same hole.
  5. Slide the remaining lace from the opposite side into the hole.

By using this method, you allow your feet to spread out, which will cause a chain reaction and allow your legs to be looser as well.  Let me know what your favorite alternative lacing method.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Topo Runduro Shoe Review

Topo Athletic has hit another one out of the park with their newest road shoe, the Runduro.  This is a great shoe and has earned a permanent place in my shoe lineup.  Have to throw in the baseball references before the season is over.

The Runduro is a light weight shoe weighing in at about 8.2 ounces.  It is made with a printed upper and features no seams.  It is one of the most comfortable shoes that I have run in.  As with most of Topo’s shoes, you do feel the ground as you run.  I found that there is the perfect amount of cushion.  Topo wants you to connect with the ground to give you more of an organic run.  

Some of my favorite features of this shoe include the 3mm heel drop which is low enough not throw your form out of alignment.  It also utilizes the BOA lacing system.  Gone are the days where you had to worry about if your shoes would become untied.  The boa system is a knob that you rotate to tighten the cable laces.  The Boa system works great and has a lifetime warranty.  

The “anatomical toe box” as they call it, is a wider toe box like Altra uses that allows your feet to spread out as your feet are naturally designed to do.  No more having your shoes push your big toe inward.  I can feel that I am more stable and have a better toe off since running in a wider toe box shoe.  Unlike most Altra shoes (which my wife calls clown shoes), the Runduro is a great looking shoe.

This is a superb medium to long distance shoe that you could train in or take out for your next race.  I love this shoe and I am sure you will too.  The Runduro starts at $120 and is well worth it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How to Stay Active When Injured

I have been dealing with Achilles tendonitis for the last month.  It had been progressively getting worse as I tried to run through the pain.  I could run at times with no pain, but the pain got worse after my runs.  I have not run since my half marathon on October 5th (over a week ago).  I plan on taking another 2-3 weeks off of running to allow my Achilles tendon to heal.  

I now have the issue of not being able to do any high impact exercising without making the pain worse.  What can I do to stay active while I am recovering?  Here are 6 low impact exercises that can keep you active while you are trying to recover.

1) Swimming is a great low impact exercise that takes most of the stress off of your joints.  I have even read about water running where you get to run without the impact.  Swimming will help you burn about 330 calories in 45 minutes

2) Cycling is another great low impact activity.  You can really get your heart rate up and burn some calories without further injuring yourself.  Using a spin bike is a great alternative if you do not have a bike. Cycling at a moderate pace will help you burn about 380 calories in 45 minutes.

3) Walking, either on a treadmill or outside is a great way to exercise without the impact of running.  I walked on the treadmill adding incline as I went to make it more difficult without any added pain.  The elliptical machine would also provide a good low impact workout.  Walking will help you burn about 180 calories in 45 minutes (330 calories for 45 minutes on an elliptical).

4) You could also take a Zumba class at your local gym.  It is a good low impact activity that will help you burn about 350 calories in 45 minutes.

5) Climbing steps, either bleachers or a stair machine at your local gym is a great low impact exercise that will burn some serious calories. Climbing steps will help you burn about 430 calories in 45 minutes.

6)   The best part is the harder you push yourself on the rowing machine, the more resistance you get, which means better results.  The rowing machine will help you burn about 330 calories in 45 minutes.
One of the best full body machines at the gym is the rowing machine, and it is rarely used.

It is important to pay attention to your injury and how you feel.  Finding low impact exercises to keep you fit while you are injured is great, but make sure you do not make your injury worse by trying to push through the pain.  If it hurts, find something else to do.  You will recover faster if you don’t make the injury even worse.

What are your favorite low impact or recovery exercises?

Calories burnt found at