Zwift Run, Let’s get Virtual!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Run Pod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

It’s here, WINTER WEATHER, and if you live in the NorthEast of the good old USA like me: it’s dark and cold when you wake up, and chances are it’s dark and cold when you return home from work. I’m not a huge fan of running in the dark, so my running shoes typically see a lot of treadmill time during the cold winter months.

As a runner who flat-out hates treadmills, this time of the year is when my training suffers the most. Enter the Zwift Run Pod! The Zwift Run Pod is an amazingly simple device you attach to your shoe, that allows you to run in a virtual world using your smart device and a treadmill. If you dread indoor running like me, the Zwift Run Pod is a game changer!

When the pod arrived and I couldn’t wait to tear into the package and get running.  The pod is shipped in a small box, that includes the Zwift Run Pod, Battery, and Quick-Start Users manual. Now, I was pretty impatient so I downloaded the app well before receiving my pod, so you’ll need to download the App to your smart device and create an account before diving right in.

Once you unbox your pod the rest is pretty easy. Installing the battery is an easy job, with a coin or other flat object, just a quick twist on the bottom of the pod will remove the cover.  Insert the battery and simply tighten the cover back into place.

Connecting your Run Pod to your shoes is super simple. Just twist the pod off its base to expose the “mounting plate”, slip the plate under your laces matching the location in the user’s manual, and then twist the pod back on to secure it in place. It should make an audible “click” to let you know it’s secured.

Easy right?! That’s all you need to be up and running… so speaking of which:
LET’S GET RUNNING!

Zwift offers various training plans to get you up and moving toward your goals. The starting program is Zwift 101, where you are introduced to the app, it runs through the various functions and displays to help you get the most from your run.  From there you can work on running your fastest mile, training for a 5K, and even marathon training, the choice is up to you.  You can also fire up the app to run with a group, run with friends, or just log some miles without a predetermined time or finish. The possibilities Zwift has to offer means you’ll never have to settle for another plain old boring treadmill run again!

I found the interface of the app very intuitive and easy to use. I’m running Zwift off my iPhone X which is a little smaller than I would like, so I imagine using a Tablet or Computer will help you “see” a little better. However, the iPhone still gets the job done and the overall experience is still a lot of fun when you can virtually log miles in all the different places Zwift has to offer.

*GASP* Did I just read what I wrote: Running on the treadmill can be fun? Yes, I said it, running on the treadmill is FUN… with Zwift.

When I first saw the Run Pod in use, I was sold… literally, I bought one! The simplicity of the design, the ease of use, and the awesome user interface immediately caught my attention. Anything to brighten those dreary treadmill miles is a game changer in my book. I really enjoy my Run Pod… and you will too, use the discount code “BIBRAVE15” and save 15% off your very own Zwift Run Pod!

Be Sure to Follow me on Instagram for more awesome running content @kenstandsonthings

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Just Announced: BOCO Gear And Nuun Team Ambassador!

Have you ever associated a brand with a good time, maybe an awesome experience, so when you see that product or brand it brings back an outpouring of amazing memories?! Can you say the same for your sense of smell or taste? Certain things just take you back, right?

This may sound silly of me to admit, but honeysuckle reminds me of my childhood, when I had summers off from school and was just having fun being a kid. When I get a whiff of honeysuckle it floods my brain with awesome memories and gives me an endorphin rush and relieves the stress of being an adult.

Would you believe me when I say these two brands (BOCO Gear and Nuun) offer me the same overwhelming sense of assurance?

BOCO Gear is based out of Boulder, CO and when I think of Colorado I think of the amazing adventures my Brother and I shared driving across the US. It was an epic road trip I’ll remember forever, I even had his Colorado license plate tattooed on my leg!

You might be asking yourself; what does this have to do with running?

Here’s why: during that trip during overnights at hotels, I would lace up and go for a run in a new state, a new town, and a place that was utterly unknown to me. It was euphoric to say the least, catching a runners high in uncharted territory is crazy good.

Fast forward to the Ragnar Relay and I found myself in a similar circumstance. I was running off little sleep in an area unknown to me, but at the same time was catching a buzz off running in a new and exciting place. Call me crazy but it was a flood of emotions I’ll soon never forget.

At the completion of Ragnar I spotted the BOCO logo on an hat that just called out my name. Call me crazy, but that BOCO Gear hat just opened the flood gates on my memory banks and every time I place it on my head, it takes me back. When I’m rocking a BOCO Gear hat, you know I’m living in the moment and soaking in as much experience as my brain will allow. Since Ragnar I’ve purchased 3 more BOCO Gear hats, their fit, quality and feel really appeal to me as a reputable and dependable brand. Among so many things that’s why I’m proud to join the 2019 MVP Team of Ambassadors!

I was first introduced to Nuun right before the Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15k. My Mom said she saw some at the race expo and decided to give it a try. As a World Champion Dragon Boat Crew Member, I take Mom’s word when it comes to hydration. So I remember I popped the tab in my water and letting it fizz away into tasty goodness.

That was my first ever race I had registered for following my epic weight loss of around 60 lbs. and it was my first experience running a 15k. The crowd and the excitement of race day in the City of Brotherly Love was beyond memorable! I recall almost every moment of that race and remember how overwhelmed I felt, and yet oddly empowered seeing the miles go by. You always remember your first race, and I’m so happy that Nuun was a part of such a great time.

Every time I taste Lemon-Lime Nuun it reminds me of the excitement of running and the enjoyment this community brings.

Cheers to a new year and new opportunities!

Just Announced: BibRave Pro

Guys I’m super stoked to share that I’ve partnered up with BibRave as an ambassador for 2019! I can’t wait to dive in and really put my talents to work.

I’ve got a lot of plans for 2019, and I’m really hoping to kick things off on the right foot! What you can expect to see from me in the near future:

  • Race Reviews and Promo Codes
  • Product and gear Reviews
  • Interactive Runs
  • Podcast updates
  • And much more!

To all my friends and family: Thank you all for your support! And to all my runner friends and fellow BibRavePros here’s to a successful and wonderful year ahead! Also, if anyone wants to collaborate and join in the podcast, the more the merrier!

My BibRave Reviews

Trail Running the Conestoga

As the Frozen Snot lingers in the distance, my good friend and I headed out for some much needed training with an 8-mile point-to-point trail run. Our initial plan was to hit up a familiar trail, but decided to work on better elevation challenges with a more difficult trail (as suggested by his wife and fellow runner). We dropped off my friend’s brown truck at the finish and made the drive to the start.

Difficult is a bit of an understatement. The fact that we couldn’t find the trail start should have been a sign of things to come. After driving around for a bit and doubling back a time or two, we located the trail head.

The weather was cold with rain in the forecast. At 40°F I decided to wear shorts, along with a tech shirt and light running jacket. The plan was to cover 8-miles of fairly difficult terrain with lots and lots of hills. I decided to tote my Ultimate Direction running vest, with a hydration pack full of Tailwind nutrition.

Since the weather was cold, gloves were a must. However I must say, in the end it didn’t matter, it was cold, it was wet, we finished soaked to the bone and freezing. But, I digress.

Mile 1 was quick and easy, and it was swiftly followed by 2 miles of the complete opposite; slowly climbing and punishing terrain. The climbing must have jostled my hydration pack, because (I don’t know how) the top came loose and I ended up dumping half its contents all down my back. Sweet sweet Tailwind Nutrition, just wasted. I cried. I cried inside. It was painful and bitterly cold.

I nursed what little Tailwind I had for the remainder of the run. Thankfully, I had a Honey Stinger gel in my front vest pocket, which came in clutch later on.

The creek crossings in the beginning felt refreshing and were a welcome treat. Given the weather was a steady light rain, everything was wet and slippery so I felt very much in-tune to what and how I was navigating the trails. By mile 4, I was relishing in the fact that we were half-way done and felt strong.

At some point I remember mile 5 having a decent downhill cruise, which was somewhat pleasant. Pleasant as you can be while watching your footing and avoiding slipping on leaf covered dangers.

At mile 6, we stopped for a quick break. We were soaked to the bone, creek crossings were less enjoyable and I mentioned 2 miles was all I had left in me. Everything was wet, and my phone managed to call home 15 times within 15 minutes. My wife left me a lovely voicemail. We were having fun.

Mile 8 came and went and we realized we were no where close to our finish as the brown truck was no where to be seen. We called and got some much needed guidance on how to get back to the truck, a “short” trip down a lone service road was all we needed. I got to thinking we weren’t too far off, but as we rounded corner after corner, the brown truck was no where in sight. Either we were wrong, or just not listening, but that darn truck wasn’t even close. The truck was another 2 miles from where we were.

Miles 9 and 10 were brutal and angry miles. I don’t remember much, the sight of the brown truck was an instant relief. I never thought I’d be see happy to see that truck in all my life, but there it was just beckoning us with its dry interior.

All-in-all, it was 10 miles of perfect training. The weather was garbage, the terrain was tough and technical, but in the end we made it and learned a little bit more along the way.

Let’s talk injuries…

The mind is a wonderful thing, it can be wildly constructive and lead to wonderful things and it can be just as destructive at the same time.

Back in July, after counting up my monthly miles, I had it in my head that I could hit triple digits. Heck, I was following loads of people on social media hitting 100+ mile months and if everyone’s doing it…

So in August I hit my goal of 100 miles ran in a month (110 to be exact), I felt great and unstoppable. Every day I was lacing up and heading out on 4 to 5 miles of pure running joy. I felt little to no pain or soreness, life was great.

Plantar Fasciitis, almost every runner that I know has had to deal with plantar fasciitis. It’s par for the course if you ask me. If you haven’t suffered from it, consider yourself lucky. I was able to identify the problem early and was able to treat it with a series of proactive stretches and massage. Remember that plantar fasciitis is the symptom, you need to treat the cause.

Treatment:

Stretches: SmashWeRX on YouTube, this series of stretches will help you prevent and treat your plantar fasciitis injury.

Self-Massage: Dr. Bruce has a video on an awesome technique and if done consistently I have found it has almost an immediate effect.

Stress Fractures, September rolled around and I was determined to hit my goal of triple digits again. And so every day I put on my trust shoes and out the door I ran. I noticed a twinge of pain in my left shin, but ignored it. After a mile or so, the pain would subside and it was easy to put the pain behind me.

By the end of the month my 100 mile goal was in sight, but my motivation started to dwindle. My mornings became a little harder to get going as well. I now would wake up to what felt like a bruised shin on my left leg. I could put weight in my leg without issue, but just the impact with the ground while walking would cause me to hobble. I would foam roll my legs, but as soon as I would hit a pinpoint spot on my shin, shooting pain would stab through my leg. And as the sun slept in and would rise later and later it started to take more coaxing to get out of bed. After much internet research, denial, and eventually seeking outside advice I have come to the conclusion that drastically increasing my monthly mileage lead to hairline fractures on both of my legs.

How to identify stress fractures:

I caution anyone looking to increase mileage to not exceed an increase of more than 10% each month. Treatment is no running for 6-8 weeks, and I would strongly suggest seeking the advice of a medical professional.

Hex Hollow Half

It was oddly warm for a rainy and dreary December Sunday, but a bunch of us felt it necessary to run in the woods along some of the gnarliest, muddy, hilly, soggy, soul crushing trails in York, Pennsylvania in a 6.66 mile race known as the Hex Hollow Half. The race is held at Spring Valley County Park, in Glen Rock, PA.

Now it’s called a half since it is a 13.1 mile race if you decide to run the 6.66 mile loop twice. But let’s be honest, only the crazies attempt that. Since this was my first year, 6.66 miles was just enough for me to handle. So I guess I technically ran the Hex Hollow Half-Half.

Did I mention it was muddy?

The race begins on a downward trail that run along the border of the park’s woods. You feel great, the air is cool and damp, your footing is strong and the slight drop in elevation teases you into thinking Hex Hollow is a nice and easy quick race. I saw my 9:30 pace and chuckled as I jumped over some course obstacles. I left my Ultimate Direction hydration pack in the car, I mean it’s only a little over 6 miles, did I really need it?

The answer was yes. I’m an idiot. And it’s not because I needed hydration per se- it’s the fact that I started the race wearing too many layers. The pack would have been ideal for toting all my junk versus me awkwardly carrying everything the entire race.

Mile 1 was a freaking tease. The course never got any easier after that. What’s the saying? “What goes up, must come down.” Yeah, we went up alright and some sections we came down, but it never was easy either way. Going uphill seemed to be the theme of the day, and my heart rate was at maximum threshold the entire time. I would walk when the incline was just too much, but it didn’t seem to help the mental games the course played. I doubted myself in some spots, stopping was never an option because if I did I was calling it quits.

Miles 2-3 were tough. Coming down to the aid station at mile 3 was tricky. The trail was wide and looking inviting, it was a downhill section that was asking for trouble. The leaf covered ground hid rocks, twigs, and ankle twisting moss covered roots just salivating at the sight of runners. My quads burned as my internal Jake-brakes kicked in and I jarred and jolted my way down the hill. I’m not sure if I drank the water or just poured it all over my face, either way it was ice cold.

Most of the race was single track, sopping wet and muddy with no room for mistakes. The mud did everything it could to suck the shoes off your feet.

Miles 4, 5, and 6 weren’t any better. The stream crossings were refreshing and fording the knee deep water at one point was the highlight of the race. The air was cold, damp, and foggy, but as soon as your heart rate increased you could feel the humidity and weight on your chest. At mile 6 in a sharp incline an older woman passed me and grumbled something to God that there were no more hills. She hexed us, as we rounded a corner the hill only kept rising and if I had a rock I would have thrown it at her.

This race was a humbling experience. Beyond humbling if that. As I ran up to the finish line at 1:30:05 the race director asked if I had fun as he put his arm around me and matched my weak jog. I looked him in the eyes and said, “how do I politely tell you that I hate you guys? I’ll see you next year, I’ve got unfinished business.” He laughed and told me that is what he loves to hear, so many people have a love hate relationship with the race that it draws them back for more. He’s right. I’ll be back, it was an awesome race and a great experience I’ll remember until next time.

https://www.bibrave.com/races/hex-hollow-half-reviews/11306