Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pearl Izumi Kissaki Review

Pearl Izumi Kissaki
If the color-scheme doesn't pique your interest the name certainly will: Kissaki. As I opened the shoe box all I could really think about is, 'what is a kissaki'? Images of kissing and saki-bombs danced merrily and effortlessly through my mind. Of course, I don't think any company would name their products after something biologically natural and tasteful poison, but you never know. Kissaki is the tip of a samuri sword. <Now, I'm picturing 'Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol 2. or even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'> and according to Pearl Izumi the name was chosen in honor of their Japanese roots...continue reading

Weighing in around 9.5 oz, it's not a
race flat, nor is it a land yacht.
Heel-to-Toe drop: 19mm - 10mm
for a total drop of 9mm.
Continue reading the Pearl Izumi Kissaki review on is the personal blog of Balanced Athlete employee: Trey Bailey

Leave your questions or comments here, on The Balanced Athlete Facebook, or on Trey's blog

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Montrail Rogue Racer Shoe Review

Montrail Rogue Racer
It doesn't take much to turn a road shoe into a trail shoe, right? Replace the slick rubber tread with a dirt clawing aggressive mud-tire sole and you're set to hit the soft surface highways. Unfortunately, for the manufacturers and consumers there are way too many variables: mud, roots, rocks, packed dirt, gravel, and more, to just throw on some mud stomping, soccer cleat traction on the sole and title it "trail ready." So, picking a trail shoe needs to be based on the conditions. The Montrail Rogue Racer, I do admit, is one of the most versatile trail shoes on the market.

Montrail Rogue Racer
Continue reading the Montrail Rogue Racer review on is the personal blog of Balanced Athlete employee: Trey Bailey

Leave your questions or comments here, on The Balanced Athlete Facebook, or on Trey's blog

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

inov-8 Evoskin Review

This isn't about our ancestor's or cavemen... 
I want to make something clear before you begin reading my shoe (well, maybe lack thereof is more apropos) review: This is not a review on the validity that 'traditional' running shoes cause, or do not cause, injuries. It's my belief that the repetition of running form inefficiencies (biological or habitually developed) are the major culprits of injured runners; under most circumstances. Other factors such as inappropriate shoe size (not type), over-training, the sedentary choices between runs (i.e., sitting in front of a computer perhaps reading this blog for too long, work related stress, long commutes in a vehicle, etc.), and repeatedly poor nutritional choices should also be at the forefront of cerebral inquiries. Also, 'minimal' shouldn't be solely (that's a pun) defined as less between your foot and the ground, but also by less heal-to-toe drop. The inov-8 Evoskin falls into both categories, of course.

Continue reading the inov-8 Evoskin Review on is the personal blog of Balanced Athlete employee: Trey Bailey

Leave your questions or comments here, on The Balanced Athlete Facebook, or on Trey's blog

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weekly Group Runs

There's a hesitation from some new runners, and some veteran runners, when it comes to attending a local group run for the first time.  Do I need to be in a certain shape to attend the group run? What if I can't run the entire time? How far is the run? What if I don't know the route? All valid questions, but not the type of questions that should keep you from attending a group run.Group runs are not reserved for the elites, or people that are already in great shape. Group runs should be a supplement to an individuals training. This includes walkers, joggers, run/walkers, runners, and racers. Group runs provide a number of valuable training tools for everyone, of all abilities:


Group runs provide the type of accountability to get you out the door and on to the road. When you have people that expect to see you it's much harder to cave-in to the, "I'll run later, I promise." mindset. The more you surround yourself with others that have similar mindsets the easier it will be to get into a good exercise routine.

Diverse Information Sources

With group runs ranging anywhere from 5 to 20 runners on average, it's easy to bounce ideas off other people. Maybe you have a question about an upcoming race, diet, places to run, etc., a group run is the perfect forum for running information.

A Break From Solo Training Runs

Running can be tough, there's no escaping it, but breaking up the monotony of training alone can keep you enthused and excited about your next run. The social aspect of group runs turn a 4 mile run into 4 miles of talk, laughter, and good exercise. Group runs are great places to meet other runners in the area, set up relay teams for races.

You don't need to be in the best shape of your life, or have a 10 year running background to attend. All you need to do is show up and have fun.

The Balanced Athlete's Group Run Schedule: All group runs meet and begin at the store.

Sunday: 8:00 AM - Runs can range between 4 miles and 20+ miles. Sunday's group runs are great for half-marathon and full-marathon runners looking for a group to get in their long run.

Tuesday & Thursday: 6:00 PM - Runs can range between 2 miles 8 miles. A perfect run for the entire family, new runners, and veteran runners alike.

Wednesday: 6:00 PM - Women Only. Runs can range between 2 miles and 8 miles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How should running shoes actually fit?

I'm narrow, with no arch, and every time I buy shoes they feel great in the store, but when I get home...

"There's the size shoe you can put
your foot into, and there's the size
shoe you should put your foot into."
- Max F.
Accuracy in the shoe fit process can eliminate a poor investment in a tool (running shoe) that's designed to protect the runner, or walker, from being run over by the terrain. Each individual has different needs, some need alignment, others need a high volume shoe. Some don't need alignment, and some want to run with as little as possible between their foot and the ground. The specific bio-mechanics and comforts of each person are important characteristics addressed during the fit process. A running shoe should never function in a way that negatively interferes with natural foot function. The running shoe is designed to be an absorbing, protecting, and supplemental medium between foot and ground. Not something that's painful, injury causing, and menacing. 

Do I really need to run (walk) on the treadmill?

The first step in any shoe fitting needs to take into account an individuals foot alignment. The ankle is a diarthroses joint. Diarthroses joints can move freely and have high ranges of motion. While we're not going to get too deep into the anatomical classification of joints, there are some key terms to understand about foot mechanics:

Supination is inversion and abduction of the foot. Supination occurs when the foot makes contact with the ground and 'rolls' outward.

Pronation is eversion and adduction of the foot. Pronation occurs when the foot makes contact with the ground and 'rolls' inward. This is the most common type of foot movement.

Note: Over-pronation is a self-defined industry term that isn't an actual anatomical movement. The foot has the ability to roll outward or roll inward. The degree at which the foot moves in either direction does not have it's own classification. The degree at which the foot pronates, however, does have a bearing on the type of shoe that will be most suited for the individual.

Each person either pronates or supinates and it's important to align the individuals specific foot movement with a shoe that is designed for their alignment. The issue is extremely important in terms of reducing the risk of impact injuries related to poor alignment. The first step of the fit process is to run or walk on a treadmill. This allows the fitter to determine your foot alignment. The reason The Balanced Athlete video records the treadmill process is because it allows not only the fitter to visually slow down each step and make an appropriate analysis, it also allows you, the runner or walker, to see exactly what your doing. The more you understand about your own mechanics the more you'll be able to improve them.

My feet go numb when I run, and I get lots of blisters on my long runs...

Once you've run, or walked, on the treadmill it's time to take measurements to ensure that your foot aligns properly with the shoe. But first, some key terms:

Dorsiflexion is when the toes are raised toward head. (Think, lifting your foot off the gas pedal in your car.) Dorsiflexion occurs during the forward movement of the foot during the swing phase of the gait cycle. Basically, when your foot moves forward to take the next step it's dorsiflexed so your toes don't drag the ground.

Plantar Flexion is when your foot is flexed so that your toes point away from your head. (Think, pressing the gas pedal in your car.) Plantar Flexion allows your foot to 'toe-off' (push-off) the ground. This movement enables forward propulsion during running or walking.

Men's, Women's, and Kid's
Brannock Devices
Brannock Device is the industry standard tool for measuring a persons foot. It provides heel-to-toe, heel-to-ball (arch length), and width measurements to ensure the correct size.

Shoes are designed to provide a shock absorbing medium between your foot and the ground. Shoes take into account foot alignment (pronation or supination), overall length, width, and arch length. When a shoe is properly fit all of the special features in the shoe, placed for comfort, will align with the needs of the foot.

Shoes need to bend, or flex, at the same place the foot bends (ball of the foot). To align the bending place of the shoe and foot a heel-to-ball (arch length) measurement is taken. This measurement can be different between two people even if their foot length (heel-to-toe) is the same.

Click to Enlarge.
Toe length: 9 Arch length: 10
Click to Enlarge
Toe length: 6 Arch length: 6.5
Example: Three people measure heel-to-toe a men's size 9. Person A, however has an arch length of a men's size 10 and Person B has an arch length of a men's size 9.5 and Person C has an arch length of a men's size 9. What this means is that Person A will fit most properly in a size 10.5, Person B a 10, and Person C a 9.5. The reason each person's shoe size is at least a half-size up is because swelling and foot expansion upon impact need to be taken into account. Some shoes may fit a little different size wise, as well, so always be sure to try the shoe on. If the foot is being squeezed during impact it turns the foot into a rigid platform. The more rigid a structure the less shock it will be able to absorb and dissipate. (Think, ceramic tile being dropped. No flex in the tile results in shattering.) The added stress of the foot being squeezed can result in, numb toes, plantar fasciitis, blisters, bunions, metatarsal fractures, and a lot of other foot injuries than can be avoided by wearing the correct size. 

Will the extra room in the toe box cause me to trip, or get blisters because of how long it is?

The difference between a full size of a shoe (Example: Women's 10 and Women's 11) is 1/3 of an inch. not an inch, which seems to be most commonly assumed. So, the extra length of the shoe is small enough that, no, you will not trip over the end of the shoe. The extra room in the shoe can feel unusual to most people, if they've been in a shoe that has been more restricting than necessary, but the room will help ensure the foot can function naturally.

Note: Most people in wide shoes don't need wide shoes. Not all, but most.

Many times the shoe will cause blisters if it's too small. Specifically on the tips and on the outside of the big toe and little toe. When the foot is squeezed it will have a tendancy to rub the foot and form a blister. Also, if you're wearing cotton socks you'll be more prone to developing a blister. Cotton isn't a bad fabric, but because cotton saturates quickly and doesn't 'breath' it will hold in the sweat and bunch. The bunching will form between the shoe and foot and cause hot spot blisters. Make sure to wear a synthetic blend or wool sock. The synthetic and wool socks will allow moisture to pass from the foot to the shoe (always made of moisture wicking fabrics) and help decrease heat and moisture build-up.

My toe nails turn black and sometimes fall off. Why?

Black nails are caused when the nail bed of the toe becomes bruised. The bruising will cause swelling and sometimes cause the toe nail to fall off. The bruising is, generally, caused from the toes hitting the front of the shoe. Extremely steep downhill running can aggravate this scenario, but most bruising is caused from the shoe being too small. When the shoe is too small the toe nails constantly hit the end of the shoe, the repeated irritation with result in bruising, which will swell the nail bed and may cause the toe nail to fall off.

To prevent the black toe nails, make sure you measure the arch length of your foot and the toe length and go up about a half size, sometimes a full size. The extra room will allow your foot to swell and expand upon impact.

My heel slips in shoes that feel too big.

If your foot falls out of the shoe, yes, it may be too big. However, some movement in the shoe is appropriate. The volume that shoes will hold differ among styles. Each brand has different types of shoes and each style will fit differently. Not all the styles in one brand will fit the same. Each different style will also address different alignments. To determine whether or not the shoe fits the type of volume your foot will take up look at the laces. Generally the width of the laces on top of the shoe be about two fingers width apart. Too close and the volume of your foot is not filling up the amount of volume the shoes is designed to handle. Too far apart and the volume of your foot is larger than the volume the shoe is designed to handle.

My legs are different lengths will a shoe address this?

Differences in leg length, that are doctor diagnosed, may require a special insert to help correct the difference. The inserts that are customized will, generally, fit into running shoes. It's important to take out the insole that comes with the shoe first. Inserts take some time to settle into the shoes, so if your heal feels a little bit higher than normal give it some time.

To summarize...

  1. Determine foot alignment.
  2. Measure foot arch length, heel-to-toe length, and width.
  3. Find a shoe that matches the volume and shape of your foot.
Take these three steps a little more in-depth by having someone fit you properly and you'll reduce your risk of getting injured, blisters, lost toe nails, numb feet, and foot pain during and after runs. If you have any questions please leave us a comment.

Next week's blog will focus on Group Runs. Post your questions here, or on our Facebook page

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Q&A Blog Series: Shoe Fit, Group Runs, Running Form, and Running Recovery

The best way to become a better runner is to run. Putting one foot in front of the other multiplied by, well, a lot seems fairly simple. And it is. Go ahead, try it. Most people have no problem completing the first few repetitions.   Stick with it long enough and you'll be on the road running miles upon miles. But somewhere in-between the first two steps and the last two steps running can become rather hard. For some, the physical challenge of running keeps them ticking away at the never ending cycle of 'left-right-left-right.' For others, motivation comes from the medal placed around their neck, like an Olympic champion receiving a Gold medal, as they cross the finish-line. Regardless of where the motivation stems from, getting from start-line to finish-line can be an experience of a lifetime. The experience can be great, good, or not so good. Like we said before, running is simple. Running well, however, isn't quite as easy, especially in the beginning. Over the next four weeks, we'll be covering the basics of running in an effort to provide you with the information you need to void any 'not so good' running experiences. Here's what the blog calendar looks like:

July 20 - Shoe Fit July 27 - Group Runs

Sunday's: 8:00 AM - Long Run 4 mi. - 20 mi.+

Tuesday's & Thursday's: 6:00 PM 2 mi. - 6 mi.

Wednesday's Women Only: 6:00 PM 2 mi. - 6 mi.

All abilities welcome: walkers, joggers, and runners.
All group runs start at The Balanced Athelete
800 N 10th Place, Suite F, Renton, WA 

August 03 - Running Form August 10 - Running Recovery

Photo Courtesy Max's Facebook.

One crucial part of this blog series will be you, or friends, or family, or co-workers, etc. We need your questions! Leave us a question on the blog, our Facebook page, or write one down while you're at the store. This is your chance to ask the questions that have been bugging you and get an answer, so take advantage of it. Next week's topic: shoe fit. Leave us your questions, from today (Wednesday, July 13), through next week (Tuesday, July 19) on shoe fit and check back next week for the answer. Title your Facebook post with 'Blog Q&A', please.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Running

It's July and the summer running season is, now, in full-swing. We have longer days, less rain, blue skies and warmer temperatures. Getting outside in this weather can do wonders for the psyche and provide the grounds for some great training. It's easy, however, to lose sight of some important factors to making each and every run in this beautiful weather safe and comfortable.

1. Hydration - Pre- and Post-run hydration are just as important as staying hydrated throughout the run. Starting a run dehydrated is dangerous and the higher the temperatures the more higher the risk of heat-related injuries. It's not just about water ingestion. In fact, too much water ingestion, known medically as hyponatremia, can be just as serious as not enough. A good way to maintain a balance is to add electrolytes to your drinking water and switch back-and-forth between . Products such as NUUN, Heed by Hammer Nutrition, GU Brew provide you, the athlete, with the appropriate amount of essential electrolytes

2. Apparel Selection - When fabric, particularly cotton, saturates with sweat it can leave your body chaffed and unable to cool itself off quickly enough. The build-up of heat can lead to an increased rate of dehydration and place added stress on the body. Wearing moisture wicking fabrics will help your body stay cool even when the outside temperature continually rises. And we're not just talking about t-shirts and shorts, but socks and hats, too. Whether it's Feetures! socks, Louis Garneau shirts, The North Face shorts, or a Brooks hat, moisture-wicking fabrics (found in all apparel at The Balanced Athlete) will ensure a positive heat and moisture transfer from your skin to the air, thus keeping your built-in air-conditioning system working smoothly.

3. Sun Protection - Soaking up the rays, tan lines, and an increase in vitamin-D levels can only mean one thing: the sun is out. As with anything, though, too much of a good thing can be trouble. Endurance athletes spend a majority of their training outdoors and in the elements, exposing themselves to harmful sun rays more than most. Skin cancer is no joke, nor should protecting yourself be. Wearing a brimmed hat, long sleeves (moisture-wicking, of course), and sunscreen can keep you and your skin safe.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rock-n-Roll Seattle Race Day

Race Day Recovery

An outstanding showing today from everyone: walkers, joggers, runners, half-marathoners, marathons and even the weather. Post-race events can be draining to the runner and post-race runs can be a disaster if not done properly. Whether you had a great race day or you've seen better don't increase your risk of injury, illness, or over-training by not taking following some appropriate recovery guidelines.

1) Stay positive - You're done, now, and it's easy to start playing the "Yeah, I did well, but I could have done better." or "That was the most horrible race I've ever done." or well, you get the point. Regardless of how well you did, regardless of whether or not you achieved your goal(s), a negative post-race mentality can put added stress on your body and the last thing you need is more stress. Also, take a couple of days off of running, put on the house slippers, and have an extra cup of java in the morning. Give yourself a high-five, pat yourself on the back, and even give yourself spoken compliments. Tell yourself you did well...even if you may not fully believe it. When people ask how you did give an honest answer, but avoid negativity.

2) Good Nutrition isn't just an extra desert. It's also an extra serving of vegetables - Post race nutrition is right on par with pre-race nutrition and training nutrition. Keep it healthy and avoid too many poor quality foods. You're going to need to take in more fluids and electrolytes for the next couple of days to combat the debt you created today and a healthy post-race diet will help fuel your body through the recovery phase of training and keep you at a lower risk of getting sick.

3) Personal Race Review - This is an honesty test, a revealing test, and something that most runners don't do enough of, but the key to critiquing your future training to produce even better results is to analyze your race day performance. Sit down with yourself and write down your pre-race goals and how you fared. Go through each mile of the race and think about how you were feeling. If you have high points and low points identify them and adjust your future training accordingly. Example: "I really struggled on the hills, today." This could be from a lack of hill training or going too fast during the miles prior to the hills. Adjust your future training by either, adding in more hill training or working on  maintaining a consistent running intensity. By the end of the review identify three things positive to keep in your training and one or two things to add into your future training ventures.

Share with us, on Facebook, how you did, your race day photos, and your favorite blog post over the last ten days. Also, leave a comment here, on the blog, with any recovery questions you may have.

Friday, June 24, 2011

1 Day left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Gear Bag Checklist

Race day morning is not the time to fumble around for gear at 5:00 AM. Seriously, showing up to the start line without your gels, or race number, or your lucky socks, or your running shoes is not a good way to start the morning off. Yes, forgetting your running shoes may seem like an impossible task, but when the alarm clock goes off on race day morning and you're rushing around gathering gear that you didn't put together the night before things get left behind. Doesn't matter if you're in a hotel, at home, or sleeping in a tent. Race day morning, if left unplanned, is chaotic.
Today, clear a spot on your bed, or the floor, just anywhere that you can step back and take a full look at everything you're taking to the race. Lay out first what you'll be wearing during the run. This may include a hat, shirt, sports bra, shorts, socks, and shoes. Take out you race number that you picked up at the expo, attach your D-tag timing tag to your shoe and your race number to your top. Lay out all of your gels and make sure you have them attached to your running belt, in a pocket, or however you're going to be carrying them. Make sure your watch's battery is fully charge, you have your heart rate monitor, your sunglasses, and anything you'll be using on during the run. Set your race day wear aside and pack a bag with a change of clothes, shoes, and anything else you'll be using after the race.

Remember, the best way to ensure you have everything you need is to make a list of what you'll need, set it out the night before, and on race day morning put it all on and check things off the list as you go.

Contest Alert: While you're filling out your race day goals with us at our expo booth write down your predicted race finish time, take a picture with us at the expo, and the runner closest to their predicted time will win a free pair of shoes. Yes, a free pair of shoes...lets repeat that again: A Free Pair of Shoes! Submit your official chip timed result on our Facebook page and good luck! As a bonus, if you're wearing a Balanced Athlete t-shirt in your expo photo and you win the contest you'll receive an additional surprise along with your free pair of shoes. If you have any questions about the contest ask us at our expo booth. Also, be sure to submit your race day photos on our Facebook page in your Balanced Athlete t-shirts to be eligible for special prizes.

Having trouble attaching your tag? Check out this video from the official timers of the 2011 Rock-n-Roll Seattle Marathon:

Good luck, tomorrow!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2 Days left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Course Breakdown

Lets face it, not every runner is going to be leading the marathon and half-marathon field through the streets of the city this Saturday. In fact, only one runner will be leading. Everyone else, whether you're in second or second from last will be following. The further back in the field you get the less likely you may think you should know the course ahead, because after all there'll be plenty of people to follow. Right?

Not so much. Yes, the further back in the field the more people there will be to follow, but not knowing the course isn't the smartest choice. There are some key facts that every runner on Saturday should know about the course to ensure a well paced and enjoyable race: the course profile, the water stations, which water stations will have GU, and even where your favorite rock band, high school cheer team, or high school band will be standing.

Course Elevation Profile:

Don't let the rather obtrusive blue and green mountain like figures haunt you in your pre-race dreams. Yes they're hills, but they're not mountains. The scale can be a bit misleading, but it's important to take note of the undulation along the course.

Course Overview:

Miles 0 - 5
The first five miles of both distances is definitely gaining in elevation especially between mile 4 and mile 5. How does this play into your race day strategy? Start at a pace that is slower than your goal pace. This will not only ensure that you're going to be giving your body time to warm-up and adjust to the higher level of excitement, but also that you'll be saving your legs for the later hills on the course. A good point of reference: After Seward Park you can begin bringing your overall pace down closer to your goal race pace.
There are four water stations:
Water Station #1: Just passed Mile 1; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #2: Between Mile 2 and Mile 3; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #3: Just before Mile 4; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #4: Between Mile 5 and Mile 6; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Miles 6 - 9
The next few miles are relatively flat and a great place to settle into your pace. Use miles 6 to 9 to judge how your body is feeling. If you feel labored it may be a good idea to slow down just a bit. Burning up at this point in the race is not a good idea, both race distances have some hills to contend with following this section so make sure you're running comfortably at this point.
There are two water stations:
Water Station #5: Between Mile 7 and Mile 8; Water and Cytomax and GU Gel
Water Station #6: Just before Mile 9; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Miles 10 - 13.1 (Half-Marathon ONLY)
The races split at mile 9. Half-marathoners will go left and Marathoners will go right. For the half-marathon starting after Mile 9 to the middle of Mile 10 is the second series of hills. Take your time, concentrate on form, and think positive thoughts. After cresting the hill in the middle of Mile 10 you set up with a half mile of downhill and the course is flat through the finish line. Once you get to Mile 11 it's time to turn on the afterburners.
There is one water station:
Water Station #8: Mile 10; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Miles 10 - 13 (Marathon Only)
The races splits at Mile 9. Marathoners will go right and Half-marathoners will go left. Enjoy Lake Washington as you run an out-and-back on the Lake Washington Bridge. Definitely grab some water at the turn around because you'll have about two miles until the next water station. The course if undulating starting after Mile 9  to just before Mile 13. Settle into a groove and think positively.
There are two water stations:
Water Station #7: Just after Mile 10; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #8: Just after Mile 12; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Miles 14 - 17 (Marathon Only)
The section of the race is slightly uphill and meanders through the heart of the city, along Puget Sound and past the Seattle Space Needle. If you pushed the last couple of miles through the undulating terrain ease up just a bit and put some energy into the reserves for the upcoming hills between mile 17 and mile 20.
There are three water stations:
Water Station #9: Just after Mile 14; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #10: Between Mile 15 and Mile 16; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #11: Between Mile 16 and Mile 17; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Miles 18 - 20 (Marathon Only)
Just after Mile 17 the incline takes a turn upward and will be the steepest uphill section of the race. Settle down at the base of the hill and run at your pace not the person next to you. It'll be important to reach the top of the hills in this section in a comfortable state of fatigue that allows for a good recovery on the downhill section.
There are two water stations:
Water Station #12: Just after Mile 17Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #13: Between Mile 19 and Mile 20; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Miles 21 - 26.2 (Marathon Only)
After enjoying a relatively long downhill between Mile 19 and Mile 20 the course goes back to slightly downhill and most flat sections. At this point, most runners will be fatigued and feeling the previous miles, but take a deep breath, smile, enjoy the city because you only have 5.2 miles left.
There are four water stations:
Water Station #14: Between Mile 20 and Mile 21; Water and Cytomax and GU Gel
Water Station #15: Between Mile 21 and Mile 22; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #16: Between Mile 24 and Mile 25; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.
Water Station #17: Between Mile 25 and the Finish; Water and Cytomax only, no GU gel.

Useful Links:
2011 Course Band Lineup
2011 Seattle Rock-n-Roll Course Map
2011 Seattle Rock-n-Roll Elevation Chart

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

3 Days left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Expo Expectations

For many runners the pre-race events are just as exciting as the post-race events. Specifically, the expo. For the Seattle Rock-n-Roll the pre-race event will be a Health & Fitness Expo presented by Power Balance. It's a two day expo at the Qwest Field Event Center starting tomorrow (Thursday, June 23) at 11:00 AM and ending Friday, June 24 at 7:00 PM. The expo will feature enough vendors, products, and local businesses to pique curiosities and overwhelm most, but the most important aspect of the expo, however, is to pick-up your race number, swag bag, and t-shirt...and visiting The Balanced Athlete booth, of course. Share with us your race day goals at our booth and take a picture with us to share on our Facebook page.

Contest Alert: While you're filling out your race day goals with us at our expo booth write down your predicted race finish time, take a picture with us at the expo, and the runner closest to their predicted time will win a free pair of shoes. Yes, a free pair of shoes...lets repeat that again: A Free Pair of Shoes! Submit your official chip timed result on our Facebook page and good luck! As a bonus, if you're wearing a Balanced Athlete t-shirt in your expo photo and you win the contest you'll receive an additional surprise along with your free pair of shoes. If you have any questions about the contest ask us at our expo booth. Also, be sure to submit your race day photos on our Facebook page in your Balanced Athlete t-shirts to be eligible for special prizes.

Along with elaborate and enthusiastic product displays there will be a good number of free samples. And everyone knows that free is a good thing, but too much of a good thing may not be the best thing. It's not the free aspect that's bad, it's simply the temptation to try anything and everything that may lead to an unwanted disaster. Remember, race day on Saturday is the priority, not how many free gels, bars, and energy drinks you can try in one day. Being selective and conservative with what you try is going to be the key to not over-exhausting yourself. Another note of concern: germs. Anytime large amounts of people get together germs will have a field day. You might say germs are having their own expo at the same time. Make sure to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching too many hand rails, and drink plenty of water.

The expo is open and free to the public and there are also other sporting events going on downtown, so expect a crowd and plan ahead. Some things to take note of: On Thursday evening there is a Sounders Game at 7:00 PM at Qwest Field. Although the expo, on Thursday, ends at 7:00 PM parking rates will go from $11 to $30 at 5:00 PM. A similar scenario will be happening on Friday evening as well with a Mariners game at 7:10 PM. The event organizers advise that if you're visiting the expo on Friday make sure you let the parking attendant know where you're going.

Expo Details:
Dates: June 23 & 24, 2011
Location: Qwest Field Event Center
Thursday, June 23 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday, June 24 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Useful Links:
Expo Clinic Schedule

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

4 Days left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Race Day Nerves

Big events have a tendency to bring out the best in people...and also their nerves. Anxiety, nervousness, butterfly's in the stomach, feelings of doubt, etc. It happens to the best of us and it can take it's toll on the runner. You toe the start line and the only thing running through your head, 'I don't know if I can do this,' 'Why did I sign up?' 'I'm never doing this again.' The whole time this mental battle is waging inside you're missing the guy wearing a pink tutu prance by in the brightest colored running shoes in the race. And when every one asks, 'Did you see that?' you snap out of your mind-race and realize you're missing out on what the start of the race has to offer: excitement, amusement, and a break from everything you usually do at 6:00 AM. Here are some tips for easing and accepting the nervousness of race day:

Trust your training.

This may be one of the toughest realities to cope with, but think back through all of your training and relish on all of the milestones you've accomplished at this point. The biggest being that you signed up months ago and now you're about to make the final push in accomplishing your goal. Confidence in your training will not only ease your race day anxiety, but it'll allow you to race better, too.

Make an effort to enjoy the race day excitement.

There will be runners dressed for success and runners dressed for show, both are amusing to watch. Not only will there be runners dressed to impress, the fans will be, too. It's easy to let yourself fall into tunnel-vision and miss out on the craziness, but take a moment when you're feeling the most nervous to take a deep breath and look around.

Don't get caught up in the number game.

You're out on the course and you realize that you're either ahead or behind of your 'goal' pace and you start getting really nervous that somehow you've messed the entire run up. Relax. So, you're not going according to plan, big deal. Part of running is about adapting to your circumstances. This could be adjusting to a slower pace, a faster pace, talking with a runner you've never met before, giving high-fives to every volunteer at the water/aid stations, etc., The point is, you didn't have any of this in your training, so now is the time to enjoy the running masses and the race for its entertainment, it's not the time for fretting over not being in line with the original plan.

Monday, June 20, 2011

5 Days left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Apparel Selection

Predicting the weather on race day is about as easy as predicting lottery numbers. Is it going to be cloudy or cloudless, rain or shine, snow or sleet? As of now, the weather for Saturday, June 25 according to the weather should be almost perfect for a race, High's in the upper 60's and lows in the lower 50's with partly cloudy skies and winds at 5 mph from the southwest. One thing to consider anytime you go out for a run, regarding temperature, add about 10 to 15 degrees to the actual temperature. This will help offset the build-up of body heat during your run. You should start the race/run cool, not warm. If you often find yourself ending your runs holding loads of clothes it's because you started with too much on. 

Hats - Hats are great for keeping rain out of your face and sun off the top of your head. Brightly colored hats will even act as good eye-catchers to drivers, further increasing the likelihood you'll be seen and cars will move over to a comfortable passing distance. Hats on race day can also be a great way for your friends and family to help identify you through the crowds.

Tops - Often bright, and hosting logos. Shirts and jackets act as your main identity around other runners. The materials should be made of synthetic blend fabrics (usually, nylon and polyester). Jackets are great for cold to cooler weather running and come in a variety of different weights. The warm the temperature the lighter the jacket. Jackets can also act as rain guards, but be careful because they'll also hold in heat some be sure to chose rain jackets at cooler temps. Shirts will come in a variety of types: long sleeve, short sleeve, no sleeve, and tanks. Wear what you're comfortable in, the hotter and calmer the wind the less you need, however, on sunny days be sure to wear shirts that have UV protection to help protect against harmful sun rays.

Gloves - Gloves should be worn when the temps dip low enough, usually under 50 degrees. If it's going to be cold and wet make sure the glove has some type of weather blocking material on the top of the hand.

Bottoms - Shorts, Long Pants, Tights, Capris, and Skirts. Lots of variation in this category. The length of the short/skirt doesn't have any correlation to race day/run success. If you like 'em short wear 'em short, if you'r a bit more conservative wear 'em long. Long pants, tights, and capri pants are great for temps below 45 degrees and windy days.

Socks - The key to comfortable feet is to wear properly fitting shoes and comfortable socks. Cotton socks may be comfortable during the work day, when you're running cotton tends to saturate rather quickly and hold in the moisture and heat which can cause the fabric to bunch leading to hot spot blisters. Wearing socks that are synthetic or wool will help reduce moisture saturation and heat build-up.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

6 Days left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Sleep and Food Tips

When an upcoming race is looming closely in the distance it's easy to let nerves turn into irrational decisions about what to do and what not to do the week of the race. After all, you don't want to ruin months of dedicate running, which may have been through pouring rain, on muddy trails, early in the morning, or late at night. You've invested your time, energy, and money into the sport, and it's important you get a positive return on the investment. The cruel thing about making poor choices the week before is simply that you don't have time to recover from mistakes. The unusual thing, the poor decisions are made on things you've been practicing the most (outside of running): sleeping and eating.

Sleep - Remember the first training day labeled, Long Run, and how on the night before you told your friends that you wouldn't be able to stay out late because you had to run in the morning? That decision is a sound decision, you were relaxed, not quite as nervous, and although you may have felt some anxiety coping with how far you were about to run you took it all in stride. This week, apply the same decision to every night. Get into the habit, now, starting today, of going to bed at reasonable time and getting up around the same time that you will on race day morning. This week, you should place an emphasis on getting a good night sleep on Thursday and on Friday.

Food - Nutrition can be one of the most debated topics when it comes down to what to eat the week before, and especially the night before. Every runner is looking for an advantage and people, in general, understand that there are quality foods and foods that are not quite as high in quality. The term 'carb-loading' may be one of the most popular expressions, regarding food, the week prior to a race and everybody has a different opinion on why to do it, how to do it, and when to do it. But, every person has different tastes, different metabolic rates, and different caloric requirements. The best advice on what to eat the week of and the night before the big race, eat the same thing you've eaten during your training. Your body has grown accustom to the type and amount of calories that you've fueled yourself with during your training. Race day is no different. Some helpful tips: finish eating your breakfast between an hour-thirty and two-hours prior to your race start time, avoid things high in acidity and fat, and make sure you're eating enough the morning of the race so that you're not hungry right before the race starts. The night before, sweet potatoes, salads with no dressing, and vegetables are good nutrient rich foods that for most people won't react negatively with nerves the next morning.

The reality is, keeping things consistent with how you've been training will give you the most advatage race day morning, because there is no secret formula. Some people have no problem drinking coffee the morning of a run and others don't do very well drinking coffee two days before a run. Some people can eat eggs, bacon, and pancakes the morning of a run, and others can only eat bland grains. Stay confident in your training, stay focused, and stay consistent.

Yesterday's Post: Psychology of Race Day

Saturday, June 18, 2011

7 Days left 'til Rock-n-Roll Seattle

Psychology of Race Day

One aspect to running is the ability to understand your fitness level when you toe the start line. The number of days until the race are dwindling down and your training should be more about fully recovering than inducing fatigue. During your training some people have experienced new levels of fitness, some people have become injured, some people have fallen in love with running. You've most likely, at some point, been too tired to stay up late with friends, too tired take a shower after your run, and too hungry to eat just one slice of pizza. All of these experiences will culminate on Saturday, June 25 and your job is to now decide what all your training experiences add up to. For the majority of first time half-marathon and marathon runners the goal is going to be to complete the distance. Some runners will be in it to complete it with friends, other runners will be out on the course to soak up the sideline parties along the route, and then you have the racers, the runners that are going out to leave everything they've got on the course.

Categories aside, each runner wants to be successful and appropriately judging your fitness level with your race day running intensity is going to help lead you to an enjoyable and successful 2011 Rock-n-Roll Seattle. So, which category do you fit into: Completion, Soaking Up The Fun, or are you going to be Racing? Pick your category and below are some race day strategies things to focus on during the race.

Completion - Whether it's by yourself or with friends, race day needs to be about staying in a comfortable intensity during the entire race. Starting out too face will turn your race into an all out effort during the closing miles. Avoid starting in the front of your corral, if you're nervous about starting to fast set a run walk time limit (Run 5 minutes, walk 2 minutes, repeat) Take your time at the water stations. This is your chance to take in your water, sports-drinks, and gels to fuel the rest of your race, no need to rush it.

Soaking Up The Fun - Maybe you're dressing up in party attire, maybe not, but either way take some time to party with your favorite band, cheer squad, or high school band along the course. Don't be afraid to high-five everyone at the water station, help other runners that seem to be struggling, or hop, skip, and jump your way to the finish line.

Racer - Today is the day to make all the miles, hours, and ice baths count. Know where you sit as far as a sustainable pace and stick to the plan. Letting faster runners, or dream goals get the best of you early on could spell disaster in the letter stages of the race. When you only have a couple of miles left kick in the afterburners and enjoy the pain. Once you cross the finish line the pain stops and victory is yours.

If you're running the marathon and your training hasn't gone as planned and you don't feel confident enough to complete the course, it may be better to switch to the half-marathon and save the risk of injury for another marathon. Half-marathoners it's a little more tricky, but don't force yourself into something you're not ready for. There'll be more races.