Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On Community

‘Tis the season for gift guides, cookie eating, twinkle lights, and parties, and although I love these holiday-ish things as much as the next person, I also think such social + sensory overload has the tendency to overshadow the greater meaning of the holiday season. SO, in the spirit of slowing down and reflecting on the things in my life I’m most thankful for, I’m writing this post about why I think my (our) running community is so great.

I’ll begin by pointing out that running, at its very core, is an individual thing. You don’t need anyone else to do it. You don’t need anyone to round out your roster, no one to throw the ball back to you, no one to pass you the puck—it’s really just you and the road. On a day-to-day basis, whether you get out and run is solely your decision. You are responsible. And while this may be one of the deepest and most fundamental truths of the sport, there is just nothing quite like being part of a team. Running, like most things in life, is just better with others.

The running community in the Twin Cities is pretty incredible. I suppose I am pretty biased, having never lived in another major city, but I am still convinced that what we have here really is something special—I just know it’s not like this everywhere. I can't say what it is about this area that creates such an atmosphere, but I see it everywhere. I do most of my running on the trails that run along the Mississippi River—right through the heart of Minneapolis--and I am positively surrounded by my community. If I’m out for a long run, it’s rare I don’t see someone I know by name and can greet with a smile or a wave. And what’s more, I see people every day who I've never met personally, but I feel like I really know just because we run the trails together so often.

One of the reasons I have been so drawn to this store—other than the fact that I love Jeff and Bekah, of course—is that Mill City Running so deeply embraces the idea of true community and fellowship. The enthusiasm here is positively contagious, and the commitment to welcoming every person who walks in the door, runner or not, is impossible to resist. And the group runs! Come to a group run and see for yourself—the feeling of this community is tangible. No one can stay away, and it’s because deep down, everyone wants, and really needs to belong to something. When that’s provided, we’re drawn to it. Mill City Running embodies the value of fellowship, and the idea that we as humans are better together, both in running and in life.

I’ll leave you with Merriam-Webster’s definition of community, which is the following: 

“community, n. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

This is exactly what I’m talking about—running connects us, and there’s a kind of mutuality we share, an understanding. It’s seen in a subtle nod of the head as you pass one another, acknowledging that you’re both out for your run despite the bitter cold. It’s the smile you share as you run by the sweet old man you see every day with his black lab. It’s the message of encouragement you shout at the marathoners as they will themselves through their final miles. These are all little things, but they are the foundation of why being a runner is so great. We’re really all in it together—no matter how fast we are, who we train with, where we run, or how it fits into our lives. We’ve all discovered or re-discovered running and made it a part of who we are, and this simple fact binds us together, whether we’d like to believe it or not. I was lucky enough to discover running and develop a love for it, and it has afforded me countless incredible experiences and opportunities. But at the end of the day, I have to say that the single best thing running has given me has absolutely been the people. And for that—for all of you—I’m exceedingly thankful.


Friday, December 12, 2014

A few of our favorite things ...

While nothing can top snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes - especially during a silver white winter run - the frigid temps and dark days of December can make it harder to motivate to get out there. Even for folks who work at a running store! Therefore, the staff of Mill City Running has compiled a list of our favorite things - the gear & gadgets that help propel us out the door ... and into the winter wonderland. 


"Last winter I came into the store mere seconds from frostbite on a toe, I will never forget the exchange I had with Bekah: "Save my toe!" I demanded.  She told me about all the wonders of SmartWool socksSince that day, I have bought several pairs and still have all my toes."


"I used to want to be a tough guy...until I moved to Minnesota.  Then I decided that the SmartWool Neck Gaiter was the best thing I have ever owned on a miserably cold run in Winter.  Doesn't itch, doesn't rub...only warm and snugly on your neck."


"Seven Sundays Muesli is definitely my favorite nutrition item in the store. I love how versatile it is - you can eat it with milk like cereal, throw it over yogurt, bake it into pancakes or bars or make it into oatmeal on winter mornings. It's made in Minnesota with delicious ingredients and it's a great way to warm up after a cold morning run! P.S. My favorite flavor is Vanilla Cherry Pecan."


"My favorite thing is the Moji 360 Mini Massager.  I am obsessed with this little bugger to the point of embarrassment. I suffer from chronic piriformis and IT band issues, which get worse in the winter when my hips have to navigate uneven snow, and I'm unable to sit for very long without pain. This hand-held massage tool gets deep into the tissue (hurts sooo good) without making me huff & puff like a foam roller. I just throw it in my purse and take it with me everywhere! I even use it when I go to the movies, which my boyfriend just loves."


"I adore the Nike Shield Max jacket in Hyper Crimson. It is our warmest and most versatile winter running jacket. It'll keep you toasty through the most brutal conditions Minnesota can dish out and the color makes you visible to cars, winter bikers and polar bears.*"

*not recommended for use in the Arctic Circle


"My current favorite thing in the store is my Nike jogger pants.  I love them because they are super warm and comfy with the fleece lining.  I also like that they aren't skin tight so if I need a second pair of tights underneath,on a really cold day, I don't feel constricted."


"I just got the new bluetooth Liberty Wireless headphones from Yurbuds- and I think my life is changed forever. Gone are the days where I get tangled in wires, or mess up my neck from a long 'hands-free' phone conversation with my mom. Great sound, easy to connect with my phone, and they're size specific so they don't fall out."


"I think I’d have to say my favorite thing in the store right now would have to be the Brooks Utopia Thermal Headband I got this year. It is suuuper soft and fleecy, and it’s so wide! I’m not a hat person when I run (mostly because of my ponytail), so having a quality headband is a big deal this time of year. This headband keeps my ears very cozy, and actually covers an impressive amount of my face as well, with its width. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the heathery grey color goes with everything—obviously I’m a pretty big fan!"


"Unlike some runners, I do not have the gift of internal pacing.  Purchasing a Garmin GPS watch has thus transformed my running life! From helping me keep track of my pace during workouts and races to looking at my history and stats from runs past, my Garmin has helped me take my running to a new level!"


"I love my foam roller but sometimes it just isn't able to pinpoint the small knots in my hamstring or glutes.  The Orb massage ball is perfect for rolling out those more precise areas. I also love how portable it is - it's small enough to pack with you during your holiday travels and takes up just a fraction the space of a foam roller."


"The CWX Xtra Support bra is the first bra I wear every time it is clean.  After experimenting with many sport bras and sport bra combinations it is the most supportive - and leads to the least chaffing of any I've owned.  There are so many things at the store that I love but that is one of my essentials."


"My favorite items are sort of small - the SmartWool Neck Gaiter, the Brooks Utopia 3-in-1 mittens, and Dermatone (or as I like to call it, "A sweater for your face"). I am all about being warm and when combined these three items ensure a comfortable run! They really are a package deal, kind of like Santa and his reindeer. :)"

Friday, November 28, 2014

Mill City Running's Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide

If you have a runner in your life, then you know how difficult it can be to track them down - especially around the holidays ("Just one more mile for an extra eggnog!").  In fact, the only thing harder to find than your runner during Thanksgiving dinner dish-duty is the perfect holiday gift - one that lets them know you love them despite their crazy. This year, utilize your runner’s getaway spots – and our handy gift-guide - to let the best gifts find you.

Your runner's been spotted: 

Circling Harriet (and Calhoun … and Isles): Run the Lakes tee ($28)
Got a pal who can’t start the weekend without her coffee, newspaper and spin around their lake du’jour?  Runners who trace the paths of this iconic running route will adore this iconic tribute to the famous Chain Of Lakes, designed by MCR staff member Jillian Tholen.

Just barely ... in the dark:  Nathan Light Spur ($20)
When you can’t find your spouse during marathon-training season it can be annoying.  When drivers can’t find them, it’s downright dangerous. This light spur saves the hassle of having to think about visibility every single early-morning or evening run – it simply (and weightlessly) attaches to a shoe and stays put until spring!

At Flapjack Friday: Mill City Pom Hat ($25)
If your runner’s a regular at this weekly run-slash-pancake fest, they likely already sport one of the most ubiquitous emblems of the Twin Cities’ winter running scene - a Mill City Pom Hat.  No matter! There are six colors schemes, and you can bet they’ve had their eye on a backup. And if your runner hasn’t been to Flapjack Friday slip the weekly run schedule into their stocking and give them the best gift of all - free flapjacks.

With the November Project: Shwings ($8)
The November Project hosts weekly workouts that are fun, free & colorful.  If there’s a free spirit in your life who runs hard but plays harder – with an occasional pause to Instagram it all – Shwings sneaker bling shows the world that not much in life is too serious for a smile.  

Racing for a cause: Mile in My Shoes run shirt ($40)
Does your runner use their passion to end world hunger, fight disease or help the needy realize their own passions? Then they’ll have twice the reason to love this Nike dry-fit top emblazoned with the logo of Mile in My Shoes, an organization that meets twice a week to get men residing at a downtown homeless shelter up and running – literally. For every shirt purchased a member of the team receives new running gear and the chance to take steps towards a better life. Now that’s a gift that not only feels great to wear, it feels great to give.  

Within sight of home: Believe I Am training journal ($19)
If you’ve got someone in your life who’s new to running they may not be so hard to spot just yet. But all of those circles around the block do add up, so show your support of their healthy commitment with the Believe I Am journal. Equal parts coach, training log, and personal journal this book helps runners track their progress on good days and their frustrated musings on days they may Believe I Am About To Quit.  In a year they’ll have 365 lessons & achievements to look back on – and you to thank for it.  

In your twitter feed: Oiselle Fly Necklace ($48-69) 

Have a gal pal who logs impressive mileage running through your timeline? Then she's likely already a follower of social-media savvy (and female-friendly) brand Oiselle. Gift her something shiny with this gold necklace showcasing the flock's signature wing & tagline and your feed will soon be filled with her #flystyle. 

On the couch: Mill City Running Sweats ($45) 
There is really no better way to celebrate a long run than with a loooong nap. And it’s common knowledge that sweats are the only acceptable attire for a real nap. MCR sweats are so freaking soft that it’s been said that 9 of 10 marathoners visualize them to push through the final miles of training runs. Give your runners the ultimate gift: A nap. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Difference A Year Makes...

As we are approaching Mill City Running’s first birthday, I’m feeling compelled to write about the incredible growth I’ve witnessed at this store from conception until now.  Yes, I’m using words like ‘birthday’ and ‘conception’ in reference to a store, because it’s more than just a store. Mill City Running is owners Jeff and Bekah Metzdorff’s baby, their firstborn, and I’m just lucky enough to have been invited along to help raise this incredible kid.

On July 6th, 2013, Mill City Running opened its doors to customers for the first time. I honestly can’t tell you a lot about that day first-hand because I was off running around in Europe, but the vibe I got in my social media stalking was that it was primarily a celebration for friends and family, the people who were invested with Jeff and Bekah from the beginning to make the store a reality.
In the days that followed, we had a modest stream of walk-in traffic. Neighbors of the store would stop in just to say they were happy to see a store like this in Northeast, and wished us well. A lot of people initially made token purchases, a pair of socks or a Mill City Running T-shirt, just their way of saying they support small business, and wish the store well.
We got some shoe shoppers too, and believe me, we gave them the most enthusiastic, thorough, and thoughtful fitting process anyone could ever ask for. This was of course a priority of ours from the very beginning, but we also were just hungry to help customers, and had plenty of time to spend on each individual shopper. We hoped the stellar service would be memorable enough for people to walk out and tell their friends about it.  No matter the purpose, we made it a priority to talk to everyone who stopped in, genuinely making an attempt to get to know them, and remember their names in case they stopped back again later. This strategy was awesome because I think we did impress a lot of people by greeting them by name when they returned to the store.
So time went on, and when asked how the store was doing, the company line moved from “We’re cautiously optimistic”, to “Things are going pretty well!” There are so, so many things that fed into this transformation, and this blog is already getting longer than most people like to sit through, so I’d just like to share a few random ‘then and now’ examples that paint a holistic picture of where we've come from and where we’re headed.
A picture says a thousand words: Check out the store when we first opened, and then look at the store today. ‘Nuf said.
July 2013

July 2014

OUR brand: Whether it’s the numerous, free, all-abilities-welcome group runs that meet no matter what (come hell or high water...or in our case, come ice or Polar Vortexes, we will still be there for Flapjack Friday!), or the ‘Cheers-esque’ feel of the store where everybody (tries) to know your name, it seems as if newbies quickly become regulars at Mill City Running. There’s just something intangible about the personality of this store that gives people a sense of belonging and a desire to take ownership too. Given this awesome community feel, our Mill City Running gear sales seem to continually grow (it also helps that every article of MCR gear is the comfiest piece of clothing you’ll ever own!) In the beginning, we started with a couple basic tees, and two hooded sweatshirts. Then we branched into new colors, crew-neck sweatshirts, zip-ups, pom hats, etc. It’s amazing to see how quickly people burst through the door when we reveal the latest article of MCR swag.

On the subject of group runs: Not only has attendance increased exponentially from day one, but it is so exciting to see the transformation of individual runners who consistently attend group runs. Most of you know about our Mill City Miles Boards in the store (where we keep track of everyone’s mileage ran from the store in 2014), but what you may not know, is many of the people with the biggest numbers on the 50- and 100-Mile Clubs are originally attendees of our Tuesday night Beginning Running group!

From group runs to a race team: Sometime last winter, we decided we should try to form a Mill City Running Race Team to compete in the USATF Minnesota Team Circuit. With little more than a promise of a jersey, camaraderie, and support for runners of all abilities, we quickly had over 100 members on board! The race team has grown to be more than just a store-affiliated affair. We love to see the postings that team members are meeting up for their own trail runs over the weekend, BBQ’s, and brewery outings on a regular basis- friendships that might not exist had Jeff and Bekah not followed their dream of opening this store.

I could go on and on about the continuous evolution of this store, but I think the two primary contributors to its growth and success are the things that remain constant.
First- Its very DNA is a perfect synthesis of all of Jeff and Bekah’s best qualities- a balance of organization and quirk, business savvy and philanthropy, disarming friendliness mixed with classiness. They have a knack for doing things differently, and a commitment to doing different right. Their love for this store-child spills over to the way we as employees aim to represent it, and thus reflects upon the experience you get when you visit us.
Secondly- YOU. While Jeff and Bekah may be the ‘nature’ contribution, what makes the store so special is the ‘nurturing’ that comes from the incredible community that surrounds it. It is thanks to your promotion, participation, and purchases that this store is already earning prestigious awards, and surpassing our wildest expectations for success. Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU for the very important role you take in raising MCR from infancy. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Written by Heather Kampf

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blaze a Trail

Earlier this spring, MCR Boss Lady Bekah managed to strong-arm* me into running my first real trail run (and first ultra), Three Rivers Park District's Trail Mix 50K. Now, my prior attempts at becoming a “trail runner” had been less-than-successful -  there was the time I got chased by the dog, the time my shoe was lost forever in a muddy pool of doom, and the time I bit it so hard on some jaggedy rocks that I tore my fishnet stockings. Nevertheless, I was determined to complete a race that would make me a legit trail runner - not one forever qualified by quotation marks - and a 50k seemed to qualify.

I use the word determined a bit loosely, however, as agreeing to run a race proved far easier than preparing for one (duh). We had only three weeks to train and I was exerting so much energy talking about our upcoming race that I had little left in me when it came to actually logging miles.  I wasn't doing nothing, of course! I had invested several hours trying on trail running shoes (went with the pink Newtons), managed to sucker my equally untrained boyfriend into registering (I would not die alone!), and made sure to pick up the tribal-print headband that I'd seen all over that Western States documentary.  I’d even made a few attempts at real-live trail running: The first effort lasted around three miles, when I bailed on that snow-packed ridiculousness for the nice, dry highway.  The second proved more successful, however, and after surviving around 10 miles at the Battle Creek Park trails, I felt a bit more confident – how much harder could it be to go 21 more?

I’ll spare everyone the race day play-by-play (I finished, smiling - and that's the important part!) and sum up briefly what I learned:  Trail running feels more like fun than work, and it can be tempting to take off at your road running pace. Don't. It is possible to run a trail ultra without much training, but I wouldn’t advise it.  And it is also possible to run a trail race without a tribal-print headband, but I wouldn’t advise that, either.  I would advise anyone who hasn’t run a trail race before to do it already, because it’s an exhilarating change from road running.  Don’t trust advice from a newbie? I figured you wouldn't.  So I asked four local trail running pros to give us their scoop on trail lovin’.  Read on for their advice. 

*To the casual observer Bekah's method of "strong-arming" can look more like "gleefully suggesting". Either way, I remain resolute that I was a victim of her benevolent trickery.

Tim Lupfer - The Serial Trailist 

Tim can often be found near the trail shoe section at Mill City Running, trying on the latest models and obsessing over which ones will be his next "lucky pair."  His trail gear fetish aside, Tim is actually a more minimalist type of guy, and the simplicity of trail running suits him well.  An avid runner on both roads and trails, Tim writes (eloquently, hilariously) about his race exploits on his blog, which you can follow to find out how he prepares for his longest trail race yet - The Superior 100MI in September.  

What is the best part about trail running?
Condensing trail running to its single best attribute presents a unique challenge. For instance, testing the raw physical capacity of the human body interests me just as much as shuffling along at a walking pace, unraveling my latest existential crisis. Likewise, the jubilation of floating effortlessly to the finish line is seized as eagerly as the dark moments when I imagine I cannot take another step. Hours of contented, tunnel-like nothingness can transform in an instant to sincere appreciation of a single flower, a view of a lake, the trail at my feet, birds, sounds, smells, the oddity of language, or...whatever. So, I suppose the unifying characteristic is exploration and intimacy, digging deeper to learn things about myself, my environment, and what it means to be human.

What is your favorite trail-running spot? 
While there are a number of excellent local trails, my favorite (destination) spot is the Superior Hiking trail. Its ruggedness is rivaled only by its unexpected and unrelenting beauty. I've hiked nearly its entire length, run multiple races on it, and even coaxed several guests at my wedding into a morning hike of the Split Rock River loop. Still, I'm delighted each time I return.

Favorite trail race?
My favorite trail also hosts my favorite races. The fall Superior races are point-to-point events ranging in distance from 26 miles to 103.3 miles. John Storkamp, Rocksteady Running, and an army of volunteers put on an amazing event that captures the best of the trail during my favorite season. The recent spring 50k was also a blast, but the out and back course offers a distinctly different experience that diminishes somewhat from the compelling travel component of the race.

One (or two!) trail-runner “must-have” items?
Despite being prone to outlandish trail running gear accumulation, there are very few things that I consider universal necessities. Shoes, access to a trail, and a sense of adventure will usually suffice. That said, most people will benefit from a method of carrying water. During races, distances between aid stations typically range from four to ten miles and can feel much longer if your point of comparison is running on the road. Training runs? You might be going fifteen to twenty miles without water. I prefer flatter, non-cylindrical handheld bottles such as the ones made by Amphipod, but a pack, canteen, or well secured ziplock bag would also do the trick. For longer or hotter races, carrying electrolyte tablets (I love Nuun) also verges on necessity. Some other items that I really like but would not consider necessary: running hat, body glide, trail shoes, and GPS watch.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a trail-running newbie?
From one newbie to another: pace yourself. It can feel awkward and silly to get on the trail and begin shuffling along at a pace much slower than your pace on the road. If you're out for a longer run or race, learn to embrace it. You'll have more fun and probably finish faster if you can avoid staggering back to the finish line or trailhead. For races, I like to set a distance where I allow myself to "run hard". In a 50k, that distance is 20 miles. You can make up a lot of ground in the final 10 or 11 miles if you are able to maintain or even accelerate. I've only done one 50 mile race, but running harder after mile 35 allowed me to finish much higher in the field than my ability warranted. 

Sara Welle - The Newbie
Sara Welle has been a trail runner since January 2012, when her friend Steve Smillie took her trail running in Afton State Park, where the descents "scared the crap" out of her, but she loved it anyway. She started doing shorter trail races around the metro later that summer and was hooked.

What is the best part about trail running?
 I appreciate how freeing it is, how much it feels like playing. After spending so many years focusing on improving my marathon PR, it was nice to let go and just hop around and skip over roots and walk up hills and drink Coke at aid stations.

What is your favorite trail-running spot? 
Lebanon Hills in Eagan. I just discovered it last fall, and it is amazing. A short enough drive, but feels worlds away.

Favorite trail race?
There are SO MANY great races. It is a toss-up between anything by John Storkamp/Rocksteady Running and the Salomon Autumn Trail Series, put on by Sam Rush at Hyland Park. I've only done 2 of John's races (Afton and Zumbro), but he always puts on top-notch events. From the food to the volunteers to the course, everything is fantastic. Sam's trail series is just loads of mid-week fun in September and October. There are 4 races in the series, and you accumulate points based on how you place among your age and gender and you can win fabulous prizes. The course is usually about a 5K distance, the atmosphere is fun and friendly, and there are usually treats afterwards.

One (or two!) trail-runner “must-have” items?
SHOES! TRAIL SHOES. They are a necessity. I used to wear road shoes on trails, but came to appreciate the grip and sure-footedness that trail-specific shoes gave me. They also work great as winter running shoes for the icy, snowy paths.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a trail-running newbie?
Find people to show you the trails. In my experience, trail runners are fun, happy people and want to share their love of the trails with everyone. Second piece of advice (if I may!) - forget about time. You'll be slower on the trails. Accept it. It's ok. It's part of the fun.

Monika Hegley - The Skeptic

Monika has been running for about 12 years, since - at the age of 30 - she began running to deal with the stress of having lived through 9/11 in New York. She found running to be very therapeutic and got hooked. She's been running trails for about ten years, though she admits she hated her first trail run, when her husband introduced her to trails running with a rocky and narrow trail!  That day she turned around and headed back to the roads, but these days she can conquer the most difficult of trail races - including Zumbro, where this spring she won the women's division for the 17-mile race!

What is the best part about trail running? 

 It’s hard to describe, it’s just the feeling I get. I love being outside, in nature, and being surrounded by the woods and the birds singing. My husband and I often run trails together – call it a “date run” – and we talk, and laugh – and the couple that sweats together, stays together!

What is your favorite place to run?
I like any place with a good trail. I run trails most-frequently at Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which has a nice mix of easy and more-difficult, single-track trails. I also like Afton State Park, which has great views - and some nice steep hills!

Favorite trail race?
 I just ran the Zumbro 17 miler in April, on a cold and rainy day. I will have to say it’s my favorite right now because I won the race! It was long and grueling, but the views (between rain drops) were nice, the volunteers at the aid stations were just awesome, and it was a very tough trail – definitely not for beginners. This season, I am running several of the races in the Upper Midwest Trail Runners Grand Prix, so maybe I’ll have a new favorite soon.

One (or two!) trail-runner “must-have” items?
Trail running shoes are a must, for traction and protection. Always shop at a specialty running store to try on several different models until you find on that fits just right. I also use a Fuel Belt to carry my own liquids and gels for longer trail runs. And in the summer, don’t forget the bug spray!

What is one piece of advice you would give to a trail-running newbie?
Don’t stress too much about your pace. Trail running is naturally slower, and you should run based on effort, not by your watch. It’s best to run with others – safety in numbers – but if you run trails alone, be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you’ll return. Stay on marked trails, of course. And when you just getting started, don’t let my husband take you on rocky, technical courses! Just kidding, but do begin with smoother terrain and work your way up gradually to harder stuff. In this area, Hyland Park is a wonderful place to get started, the trails are wide and soft (especially around the lake) and there are often many runners out there. Trail runners are a friendly, welcoming bunch, so say hi and smile when we see each other out on the trails.

John Storkamp - The Renaissance Man 
Talk about well-rounded - in the 15 years John Storkamp has been running trails he has raced distances from 4 miles to 350, covering all sorts of terrain.  He is also the director of Rocksteady Running, the racing company behind our other trail gurus favorite races including the Zumbro Endurance Run 100, 50 and 17MI, the Superior 'Spring' trail 25/50K, the Afton Trail 25/50K and the Endless Summer trail series (May thru August, 5K to 7MI).  

What is the best part about trail running? 
Quiet, natural, beautiful, peaceful, no cars, less people, easy on the body.  Don't get me wrong I love running roads too, its just a different vibe!

What is your favorite place to run?
Locally, I would have to say Afton State Park and Lebanon Hills County Park.  Beyond, The Superior Hiking Trail on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota.

Favorite trail race?
Minnesota Voyageur 50 Mile Trail Race - Carlton to Duluth Minnesota and back.

One (or two!) trail-runner “must-have” items?
Patience and a hat or Buff to swat mosquitoes and black files during our Minnesota Summers! 

What is one piece of advice you would give to a trail-running newbie?
Adjust your pace expectations, city streets and roads have maximum allowable gradients - when you get in the woods those rules are out the window and you can get into some steep climbs - along with hills, softer running surfaces (while easier on your body) do not return your kinetic energy like a road does, so between the softer ground, technical trail and hills you will be running slower and working harder!  Finally, don't get frustrated if you are not the best technical trail runner right away - it takes awhile getting used to running on varied terrain; roots, rocks, obstacles etc.

So there you have it folks - an excuse to run slower and justify another pair of running shoes! Check out this Minneapolis Running post on Twin Cities trail routes to blaze a solo trail, or just show up at one of Mill City Running's weekly group runs and you're sure to find some folks to trail along with
Trying to look the part.
-Mishka Vertin  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fit to be Tied: Lacing tricks that can save your shoes

Despite the painstaking effort that was (hopefully!) put into your shoe-fitting process, there may come a time when the harmonious future you had envisioned for your sneaks and your feet is suddenly, terrifyingly, in jeopardy. Maybe a seam in the shoe’s upper - nonexistent at mile two - likes to show up unannounced at mile four to literally rub you the wrong way.  Perhaps a long-overdue pedicure resulted in a considerable downsizing of your shoe-length requirements.  Or it could even be conceivable that you managed - like so many shoe-buyers who have come before you - to convince yourself (after much internal debate and several trips to the store treadmill) that the shoes that looked the best were also the ones that felt the best.  Whatever the case, before you haul your kicks to Goodwill or turn them into stylish planters, check out these common shoe issues and the lacing tricks that can solve them.  A simple twist of lace can customize your fit and have your shoes and your feet running happily ever after … or at least for 300-500 miles.  

Heel slipping?

So the nice people at Mill City Running insisted you go up a half-size in running shoes, but now your heel slips a bit with each step? Before layering on that third pair of socks, try a loop lace-lock.  With your shoes untied, insert the end of each lace into the shoe’s final eyelet (closest to your ankle) on the same side, leaving space to form a loop.  Then, insert each lace through the loop on the opposite side, and gently tug the laces until the loop has locked and the fit is snug. 

Hourglass foot?

When you’re “little in the middle” but you’ve got much, err, forefoot, some run shoe types may be too spacious and leave your foot feeling insecure.  “Just cinch it” may be a solution for a sweater from the Gap, but not so much for your running shoes.  In order to secure a narrow foot in a wider-width shoe, create a loop-lace lock at the midfoot, and then continue lacing as normal. 

Big toe blues (or blacks)?

A gross black toenail will impress your friends the first time, but make it a regular thing and watch your BBQ invites dwindle come sandal season.  Either move those freaky feet into some longer shoes or try this trick with your current runners:   Starting with them unlaced, insert one end of the lace into the first eyelet on the inner-side.  Pull through about one-third of the lace, then cross it to the opposite side and lace it through the eyelet closest to your ankle, leaving enough lace for tying.  Then on the opposite side, lace the shoe diagonally all the way down the length of the shoe, then tie as normal.

Here comes the high-stepper?

A high instep can be a real pain for even the most lyrical of gangstas.  So start by lacing the shoe normally, but after completing the second eyelet simply feed the laces up the next two eyelets – once over, once under - without criss-crossing.  Then tie them up and go, uh-oh!   

Little piggies need to wiggle?

While distance running may make your figure svelte, it can have the opposite effect on your feet.  Bunions, calluses and hammer-toe are just a few of the lovely side-effects of high-mileage training, and they often require a roomier toe-box to alleviate pain and give your toes some room to breathe.  If you’ve still got plenty of miles left in a narrow shoe, follow these steps:  Unlace the shoe completely.  Pull the laces through the first eyelet on each side, then pull the laces through the next two eyelets – first under, then over - without criss-crossing.  When you reach the midfoot, resume lacing as normal. 

Busting out the seams?

Before you put your feet on a low-carb diet (they’re just big boned!), try out this technique for giving your shoes an all-over roomier feel.  Remove your laces completely.  With one end, insert the lace through the first eyelet on the left, then cross it over and lace through the first eyelet on the right side.  Pull the lace through about halfway.  Next, taking the same end, skip the second eyelet on the right, and pull the lace up through the third eyelet.  Cross it directly over to the left, pull it down through the third eyelet. Continue this method of lacing directly across, then skipping down an eyelet, until you get to the end on both sides.   Have I got you in knots?  Check out this video for more help.  Then hit the road already!