Where to run. What’s Clear and What’s Not

This time of year we are all playing the guessing game of what trail are clear of snow and what still has thigh deep post holes designed to cut shins with crystalized snow.

Here’s a few ideas in and around Missoula that may keep you running snow free. Please remember that if you do encounter mud, snow, or puddles stay on the trail! Run over the snow, through mud, and ankle deep in that puddle. If you have any recommendations to add please let me know!

  1. North Hills – the north hills/waterworks area is almost completely devoid of the white stuff. One or two drifts near the Homestead are easily navigable over the top, otherwise the North Hills are free.
  2. South face of Jumbo – the Jumbo South Zone is now open! Everything from the Cherry Street Trailhead is free of snow and pretty dry. If you’re planning on pushing over the summit to the saddle, however, be prepared for some deep postholing!
  3. Blue Mountain – most of the lower trails are free of snow. Depending on how high you go keep an eye out for lingering snow banks and wet trail. You’re gonna get wet!
  4. Rattlesnake – A lot of the lower Rattlesnake Recreation area is snow free, but there is some ice tucked in shady spots. The south facing trails above Sawmill Gul

    Photo courtesy of Lee Macholz

    ch are surprisingly dry.

  5. Larry Creek Loop – Larry Creek is a hidden little gem at the mouth of Bass Creek. It’s south facing and melts out quick. This six mile loop is worth the drive.
  6. Sentinel – Mount Sentinel is clear to both summits and actually dusty in a few spots now. Seeps at the bottom of the Mo-Z trail add some moisture, but pretty much everything on Sentinel is snow free, just be cautious when considering adding a beacon lap or descending the upper part of Smokejumper.
  7. Little Park Creek/Inez Creek – both of these trailheads up Miller Creek Road melt out early and offer gradual climbs uphill. Be aware that you are sharing these trails with tics, but it’s still very much worth it!
  8. Barmeyer Trail – Is pretty easily traveled now, plus if you make it to the lookout you can see the work Montana Trail Crew just did to re-veg the road cut.

If you have any questions on where these trails are either give us a call, or take a look at the Cairn Cartography map of the area (the featured image). We can point them out to you on the map as well!

 

Happy Trails!

 

 

Product Review: Brooks Fast Forward Zip Bra

Raise your hand if you’ve come home from a winter run cold and sweaty with fingers too numb and body so tired that wrestling a wet sports bra off your clammy skin felt like an insurmountable task. Me too. Death by soggy bra is a good way to kill even the coziest pre-run situation but wriggling out of a damp bra underneath a pile of winter layers is the worst.

Enter the Brooks Fast Forward Zip Sports Bra.

I’m not someone who needs a lot of support from a running bra so I usually just go for whatever pullover racer back has the softest fabric or cutest pattern. I have never owned a sports bra that wasn’t a pullover until last month. I always thought the fancy ones with hooks or zippers weren’t for me.

And I was a little skeptical of the Fast Forward bra. Would the zipper make a weird bump under my shirt or bounce around? Would I hear in clinking as I ran? Would the zipper feel like cold metal when I put it on? Nope, nope and nope. Despite the zipper, this bra has a simple construction with a mesh racer back, sleek front panels and a wide soft elastic band along the bottom. Like most bras it came with pads, although, like always, I removed them right away. The zipper has a cozy panel behind it that protects your skin from ever feeling the zipper and the zipper lies smoothly under your shirt. The zipper pull locks down and doesn’t bounce. The best feature? When your run is done the zipper is smooth and easy to undo freeing you from a soggy bra in seconds. No struggle!

A note about fit and sizing: since I don’t need much for support I tend to buy sports bras a size bigger than my normal shirt size, so I can avoid feeling suffocated. This bra fits true to size, and the medium I tested was probably a little big but it was comfortable and I didn’t think about it while I was wearing it. I often find sports bras feel too short, and that I have to keep tugging them down, and that didn’t happen with this one, if anything the straps felt a tad too long. The elastic band around the ribcage is soft and supportive without feeling restrictive.

Despite having a zipper this bra feels light, breathable and sleek, and I’m sure it will be in heavy rotation all summer. I recommend this bra for anyone looking for an option that doesn’t require a clammy wrestling match to get out of.

Product Review: Trail Butter

Sean Kiffe is a Runner’s Edge Ambassador for the 2018/19 season. He is very visible around town as he runs just about every Runner’s Edge race
and Run Wild Missoula event each year. We thought Sean would be the perfect person to review the new product we are carrying, Trail Butter. He often spends countless hours on the trails, so who better to test this product than Sean?! Read his review below and you can also follow Sean’s adventures on instagram@seankiffe.

The Trail Butter brand is relatively new on the running nutrition scene and it is a welcomed addition. The company started in 2012 on a self proclaimed mission to…

“create delicious, all-natural energy food alternatives that provide balanced, slow-burning energy in a convenient portable package, all while using only unprocessed, whole-food ingredients” https://trailbutter.com/about/

It appears that they have done exactly that. As any long distance runner knows, you have to fuel the beast. Testing out Trail Butter could not have come at a better time for me. As I’m gearing up for the coming season of running with a couple ultra distance events on my calendar I’m attempting to explore the range of products out there to find out what works with my digestive system.

I used the Trail Butter product on four different runs. There are several things that I really liked about this product. First, I love the fact that these are made of simple, real, sometimes organic ingredients and when you eat it that’s what it tastes like…real food. Unlike the ingredient lists of other running foods and gels that sound like a chemistry text, the Trail Butter ingredients are simple. There are also vegan options for those of you who are so inclined.

One thing that I really enjoyed was that there was none of the gooey aftertaste or lingering paste in your mouth that you get with gels and that’s nice when you’re sucking wind on the long course. The claim of “slow burning” really resonated with me. The nut component offers a ready source of fat that burns slowly, perfect for those long distance efforts where short bursts of high fructose corn syrup or some other sugar are simply not enough to sustain you for very long. The butter-style format allows for quicker assimilation into your system than an energy bar which would take longer to digest and might be dry and hard to swallow on the run.

The packaging comes in three different styles. The single serving 1.15oz packets are easy to open and resemble the packaging of a typical gel. The 4.5oz pouches were my favorite. I loved having several servings in one reseal-able, easy to eat out of pouch. This limits the amount of garbage and mess that you end up having to tote around the trails with you if you were carrying 4-5 packets of the same product. You can also get the Trail Butter flavors in a 16oz jar, which might be nice for those of you who like to prepare custom running foods. Last year I was fond of taking quartered PB&J banana sandwiches on my long runs and eating them a quarter at a time every few miles. The jar size would be nice for that.

The small company hails out of Portland, OR and still has that homegrown feel about it. I like this and it almost gives it a sort of local feel. The product is not crazy expensive and ounce for ounce contains more calories than the typical 1oz gel packet.

While dark chocolate and coffee was by far my personal favorite, the original flavor and the maple syrup and sea salt both were delicious in their own right. Having a sensitive stomach, I tend to get some discomfort after too many sugary gels. If that sounds familiar to you I think you’re going to really enjoy this product. Trail butter goes down easily, tastes delicious and delivers long lasting energy that’s perfect for the long haul. In summary, Trail Butter is real food, real simple and really good. Trail Butter is a must-try for anyone looking to mix it up with their running nutrition this season.

 

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Training Consistency for Successful Distance Running

Ouray 50 mile

The roads and lower elevation trails around Missoula have melted after being snow-covered since mid-December. April 1st is the day fools like me test out our skiing fitness and ramp up our running mileage in preparation for early season races. April is, therefore, a perfect month to discuss training consistency as a means of achieving distance running success over the next nine months of 2019.

By training consistency, I do not mean following the same weekly training routine all year long. Changing running routes and intensity will improve fitness by challenging the body in different ways. I define training consistency as a training program which regularly includes the necessary components of loading, progressive volume, and adequate recovery.

Loading: Each running stride places 2.5 to 3.0 times our body weight of loading force through our body. How will your body respond to the cumulative loading forces of a 1-mile run versus a 10-mile run? How will your body respond to a Rut-specific fast downhill scramble over rocky terrain after a winter of gliding downhill on skis? How will your body respond to your first Tuesday track speed work session after a winter of slogging with a modified running stride over uneven, icy and snowy surfaces? The answer lies in load training. Think of loading as a strength training workout aimed at increasing your running durability. Building muscle, tendon, and joint health and strength requires loading-specific strength training. I am not referring to body weight resistance exercise, but rather heavy weight, low repetition strength training. Proper loading technique addresses tendon resiliency, muscle strength, and tolerance to both speed and long miles. Without a loading-specific strengthening program, injuries will become part of your running life.

Progressive Volume: Disclaimer: I occasionally do not follow this training rule which is why I am so familiar with the multitude of running injuries I treat in my patients. The take home message is that gradually progressing your training volume will decrease your overuse injury risk significantly. Most runners are familiar with the 10% rule of weekly running volume (mileage) increase. Our long winter combined with a June 30th Missoula Marathon date does not give us much time to safely build training volume. Maintaining consistent fitness over the winter allows one to enter the spring at a higher training volume which helps reduce the urge to “catch up” by doubling your mileage in one week. It is also important to remember that rest days are rest days and rest days are necessary. If you ride your bike 20-miles or swim 2,000 yards on your “rest day” from running, you are further increasing volume to your training week.

Adequate Recovery: Nutrition, hydration, sleep, and body work should be a consistent part of your training routine. The nutritional saying “junk in, junk out” resonates with the miraculous human machine each one of us are. Well rounded whole food nutrition and simple hydration practices will fuel your body for optimum performance. Sleep remains elusive in our modern day society. You are an athlete, however, so 7-9 hours of sleep should be a priority to facilitate recovery and reduce overuse injury risk. Finally, some sort of body work will release tissue tension, muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce muscle soreness. I intentionally used the general term of “body work” as this may include rolling, massage, myofascial release or manual therapy provided by a physical therapist.

I encourage the reader to seek advice (myself, my fellow PT staff, or one of the other qualified local resources) regarding the specific definition of each training component for you individually. Factors such as running experience, athletic experience, injury history, age, and running-racing goals must be considered on an individual basis. I welcome questions and can be reached by email (john@sapphirept.com).

John Fiore, PT

Sapphire Physical Therapy

 

 

Spring Trail Running Etiquette

With dirt patches reappearing on the sides of Waterworks and Mount Sentinel we know trail season isn’t too far behind. But, as excited as we are to get out and run some fresh single track, we do keep in mind a few rules for spring trail running etiquette.

  1. Trails are not like Valentine’s Day, we want single! Help keep single track trails single by continuing to run through the snow and ice. A lot of times the actual trail holds packed ice longer than the adjacent dirt, but tough it out and stay on the path. Every time someone avoids the ice by running alongside the trail, the path widens slightly. Keep it single!
  2. Run through the mud! As the ice melts we may see a week of puddles and mud in the path tempting us to run on the fringes. The same rules apply as to the ice; run through puddles, run through the mud. Some discretion is required here, however. If the mud is incredibly deep and sloppy, please consider not running that trail for another few days. Give it time to dry before you leave deep footprints that will be there until August.
  3. Pick up dog poop bags! This time of year we start to see lots of little ‘presents’ emerge from the snow left behind by our furry friends and lazy owners. Please don’t leave dog poop bags behind thinking, “I’ll get that on the way out.” Please clean up after your dog all the way to the trash can! We can also help keep our trails clean by picking up bags that are not our own. One of our customers reported finding just over 60 bags left on the trail in one outing thus leaving the trail much, much cleaner than she found it.

With Bitterroot Runoff, Sentinel Hill Climb, 11 Miles to Paradise, and Mountain to Meadow all around the corner we are looking forward to putting in some miles on the trails and we hope to see you out there (respecting the trail of course)!

 

 

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RE Events is going Cupless!

In 2018 we used over 20,000 disposable cups at our events. That’s a lot of trash! Moving forward we are working on ways to host more sustainable, community minded events and part of that is a commitment to reducing waste.

For 2019 all Runner’s Edge races will be entirely cupless!

What this means for you:

-If you are going to want fluids on the course please plan on bringing your own bottle, or collapsible cup. We will still have water and electrolyte drinks at aid stations, just nothing to put them in!

-If you would like to take advantage of pre-race coffee or hot chocolate (event dependent) please plan on bringing your favorite travel mug.

-For post race fluids (recovery drink, water, beer, mimosas, chocolate milk, bloody mary’s, etc.) please remember to bring an extra cup in your travel bag. In case you forget, we will have a fleet of reusable cups for you to borrow for finish line beverages that you can return and we will wash for the next event.

-We will do a better job of marking recycling bins, trash bins, and compost bins. Moving forward any plates, bowls, and flatware that we provide for post-race meals will be compostable. Please be aware of what bin you are tossing items.

Our ultimate goal is to leave an event with less than one bag of trash. Going cupless is one step in the process and we want to help you help us! If you don’t have a bottle option or collapsible cup we will give you a cup if you plan on running one of the Runner’s Edge Trail Series events.

Thank you for helping us reach this goal. If you have any questions please let us know.