Ultra Mel and Jon

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Prio Performance Running Shoe by Xero Shoes – Product Review

The two of us have been running in minimalist footwear for many years now, and the vast majority of the miles we run are in running sandals made by Xero Shoes. Two of our favourite are the simple DIY Xero Shoe, likely the closest you will ever come to running barefoot, and the newest of their sandals the Z-Trek and Z-Trail, which are both a bit more robust for technical running or hiking. There have always been certain circumstances which prevented (or at least made it difficult) to run in sandals. Whether it was training in the cold Canadian winter, extremely muddy training, or some intensely technical trail where we felt we needed a bit more protection for our feet.

Well we’ve been asking (and let’s be realistic, many people have been!) and Xero Shoes has finally released their first performance shoe called the “Prio” and we’re going to share some of our thoughts on them.

Xero shoes prio running shoe

 

We’ve had our Prio’s for about a month now, have put quite a few miles on them including big ascents and descents, muddy runs, rainy runs, outdoor agility cross training workouts, so in our minds, have got a really good feel for their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Prio Pro’s:

  • The overall FIT

    • Stating the obvious, they have a nice wide footbed, a true zero drop sole, and no unnecessary arch support, meaning your feet will feel as comfortable as they are when barefoot. The thing we noticed though, that blew us away, is just how well the shape and fit of these shoes have been designed to give you all the room you need to move freely, but don’t allow your feet to slide around when going up or downhill or running along technical tracks.
  • Durable but Flexible materials

    • You might hear other shoe companies promoting their zero drop shoes with widefoot beds, but let us be the ones to tell you the biggest difference between them and the Prio’s. The other brands shoes are made of rigid materials that will feel like boxes on your feet. Don’t believe us, we’ve been getting holes in our socks wherever our foot toes touch the inside of the shoe. That to us doesn’t seem at all like a shoe that moves WITH your feet. They’re containing them, and therefore restricting them. The Prio’s feel like a kick ass pair of socks because they are so flexible.
  • Super Breathable

    • We started wearing the Prio’s during the melting of all the winter snow, meaning it was a time when the trails are muddy and wet. We noticed how breathable the Prio’s were, first when we kept getting out feet wet on the mucky trails, but noticed our feet were drying up faster than we expected. This helped a ton to prevail blisters from forming (even though with how well these shoes fit and flex with us, we’ve never even experienced a hot spot!). However, now that we’re starting to see warmer weather, we’re liking these shoes even more for how cool our feet stay during runs. This was one thing that we HATED about wearing shoes, is how your feet start to burn up and throw off your mindset.
  • lightweight running shoes - prio from Xero shoeTraction without bulk

    • The Prio’s use the same chevron-like tread on the bottom of the soles as all the Xero Sandals, and we put it to the test during a technical and very muddy 50k race in Washington. Not once did I feel that the Prio wasn’t giving me enough traction. For being an extremely lightweight sole and overall shoe, it’s quite impressive that they have the same level of traction as some of the bulkier trail shoes with “gnarly” treads.
  •  Affordable
    • The price of shoes seem to be rising all the time, so having a performance running shoe for under $100 is almost unbelievable. At only 89.99 (if Xero Shoes isn’t running a sale!) you almost can’t go wrong buying a shoe that will strengthen your feet and look pretty badass! Not to mention your 89.99 will go so much further than other shoes. While other shoe companies are recommending you switch out your shoes every 300-500 miles, Xero Shoes offers a 5,000 mile warranty on their soles! That’s not a typo, a FIVE THOUSAND mile warranty!!! The “price of shoes” no longer has to be a limiting factor to your training.

 

Prio Con’s:

  • They are SHOES

    • Although this is obvious, and a pathetic topic to label as a “con” the fact that the Prio’s are a performance running SHOE, means they will catch rocks, will keep your feet wet for longer after a water crossing, will have more contact on your feet to possibly cause blisters. This is all comparing them to a running sandal though, and not to any other shoe.
  • Limited Traction on Extreme Terrain

    • Even though I’d rate their traction as pretty stellar, the fact that the treads are “minimalist” in nature, means if you were needing to trek through thick mud or deep snow, you might be better off with something a bit more gnarly on the bottoms.

 

Who would the Prio Minimalist Shoes be perfect for?

Runners and walkers (obviously!) > These are top notch running and hiking shoes

Crossfitters or Gym-goers –> With the Prio’s being zero drop they are great for stability during cross training workouts

Travellers –> Lightweight and easily packable, and you can use them for just about anything along your travels.

We probably don’t have to even say it, however, if anyone asked us if we would recommend these, we would tell them we already have! Many of our friends, family, fellow runners, or social media followers have ordered themselves a pair and have told us they’ve been loving them. So if you’re looking for a new shoe, and the Prio’s are sounding like a good fit (get it!) we’d say to give them a try. They really are as awesome as all the review and promotions are saying they are.

Run free!

Ultra Mel and Jon

Why I Took Policing OFF My Resume

Since leaving my job as a police officer just over two years ago, my life has changed quite a bit. From the country I live in, the sports I’m involved in, and of course my career path. This was sort of an odd anomaly in my mind, but after looking back on it and thinking more about it, I thought it would be valuable to share my job hunt experiences for anyone who might be leaving their past job as a police officer or another first responder field.

 

Here’s a bit of info on me, to help set a bit of context. I graduated my undergraduate degree approximately 7 and a half years ago and was fortunate enough to have been hired onto the Edmonton Police Service within weeks of finishing classes. Of these 7 and a half years, I worked as a police officer for 5 and a half years, was unemployed for 3 months after I left, and have been working in digital marketing for the past two years in the same job. Lately, I started feeling as if I had gotten everything I could out of my job, and started my hunt for the next opportunity. When I updated my resume, I initially assumed the obvious, and that was to include my 5 years work experience as a police officer on my resume. However, I eventually made the shocking discovery that it was, in fact, better for me NOT to include policing on my resume. And I’m going to share some of my thoughts about why.

 

leaving policing and finding a new job

 

There is an absolute boatload of information out there right now about how to perfectly craft your resume, how to write a cover letter that stands out, and other best practices when applying for jobs. What I have found in the past and continue to find is all the information contradicts itself in so many ways. I’m not shocked by this at all. After all, there are so many different types of companies hiring people, so while the big corporate jobs might want your I’s dotted and T’s crossed, a fast growing startup might be more interested in learning about your personality and whether you will fit into their team. There are also so many different types of people, so while some might comfortable sharing personal information, some might simply want to keep work and personal life entirely separate.

Should I Include Police Experience On My Resume?

 

When I left the police service, there were so many people who said “now you have a good 5+ years of professional experience, which will help no matter where you go.” (These were the supportive ones, and for that I’m grateful!) In one sense they were right, but it wasn’t quite that simple. When I began my job search recently, I decided to include policing in my work experience with a good amount of detailed points around what I did and how it can help me in future jobs. Don’t get me wrong here, I read dozens of articles and guides on how to craft a well-polished resume, so I wasn’t way out of line here in something as simple as a poorly written description of job experience.

 

If someone was asking me today “should I include policing on my resume?” I would likely tell them it depends on what area you are looking to find a job in. If it’s something related to police work, like security, military, even companies that offer supplies or otherwise service the police niche, then absolutely. If you’re pivoting career paths into something entirely unrelated, then I wouldn’t be so quick to say include it. I’ll get into WHY below.

 

Why I took policing off my resume?

It’s quite simple really. I decided to take policing off my resume because I received a better response without it. After I began my search, I had spent about a month applying to just over 20 jobs that I was quite well suited for (at least in my opinion). Of those 22 or so, I received 2 replies back that were simply a canned response saying they were moving forward with someone else. Even after consistent follow-up, I never heard a word from the others. Honestly speaking, I was a bit confused, and whole heartedly feeling a bit incompetent. Why was I having almost no luck at this? I wasn’t aiming for things way out of my league like the CEO of Apple or anything.

 

I talked with Melissa about removing policing off my resume, and like we’ve learned in just about everything in life, she said to test it and see what happens. If things go better, you made the right move. If nothing changes, that’s likely not the issue. So I decided to get rid of it.

 

Let me be quite clear here. I did not delete the entire section from my resume. I simply renamed the position, changed “Edmonton Police Service” to “City of Edmonton”, and re-wrote all of the bullets below to come across more as a municipal employee, rather than a cop. Like my co-workers had said before, I still agree that this was professional work experience, and I needed to include something for what I was doing for 5 years.

 

The results were pretty dramatic. After making the changes, I applied to 6 different jobs in the next few weeks. Of those 6, 4 replied back, 3 set up interviews, and one landed me a job offer that I was happy to accept. Strictly looking at the metrics, I would have to say that taking the title of “Police Officer” off my resume made a significant improvement in the success of my job hunt.

 

changing career after policing

Working at a coffee shop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with an Affogato on the side!

What do I think changed?

 

I’ll never know for 100% certain whether seeing or not seeing Police Officer on my resume had an influence in whether I was considered. It’s pretty probable, though, based entirely on the metrics I mentioned above. If I had to take a stab in the dark as to WHY I had better success without policing, this is what I would say.

 

First thing is, in this day and age, policing is a sensitive issue. Police are always in the media, and unfortunately, it’s often making them out to be the bad guys. There are lots of viral posts on Facebook about PTSD becoming more prevalent than ever in military and law enforcement. The simple topic of police can provoke a wide array of emotions in people, and you have absolutely no control over whether those are supportive or resenting emotions. Can this play into a recruiter or hiring managers opinions? Sure the ethical answer is no. But in the same way that you’d likely lean towards the well dressed, well spoken and well-prepared candidate, over the guy who’s wearing dirty clothes, smells of weed and brought a sub to eat during the interview, it’s very well COULD play a role in the first impression that the hiring manager gets. So right off the bat, having ‘police officer’ on your resume might be putting you at a disadvantage.

 

Second thing that seems possible in my opinion, is that they simply don’t know what to do with it. When you say you were a great investigator, or you wrote very detailed warrants, or you supervised a squad, or just about anything else that uses very different context from the business realm, there is a very good chance that things get lost in translation. Not only is it possible that the reader of this doesn’t understand what exactly a warrant is, or how many people are in a squad, or any other detail that they’ve never been exposed to, but even if they can decipher the message, it’s causing them to think harder about that part of your resume. And if you are applying for something along with 2-300 other applicants, the last thing you want to do is make things difficult for the hiring manager to understand.

 

One of the supporting reasons why I feel these types of superficial obstacles were responsible, was that during most of my interviews, when the topic of my work with the “City of Edmonton” came up, I straight out told them I was a police officer, and on several occasion and in severals ways the person interviewing me expressed very high interest. Some commented on how that experience must have helped me handle stressful situations, some even applauded me for having the courage to stand up and leave something that didn’t fulfill me. In all situations, I didn’t detect any type of negative thoughts or feeling towards my policing experience, if anything it was a strong asset, but I think this was highly due to the fact I was able to word it in a way that would display the skills I developed or the lessons I learned in my own words. I was able to paint the entire picture, rather than let them draw conclusions or assumptions from a few words on my resume. And of course, I was crafting them to be as relatable to the position I was applying for, which further worked in my favor.

 

I think both of these quite possibly played a role in why I had such drastic differences in my success rates in applying for jobs. Which is why I thought it would be valuable for others who are thinking about leaving their policing careers or have recently left the police to know about these possible obstacles they may face when looking for new work.

Read My Book "Should I Become a Cop"

Should I Become a Cop is a deep and honest look into the ways policing will impact your life, and strategies to weigh out whether you are willing to accept this all. If you've been considering the police force, this is a must read!

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Best SELF Journal Review

About 6 months ago, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Best SELF Journal, as they knew I was a firm believer in journaling, yet can’t always find the time (or at least that’s what I tell myself). Throughout both of my yoga teacher training courses I have found that journaling was a powerful tool in helping to sort through your thoughts and get important ones down on paper so you can better see them, feel them and just be with them. It might sound like kind of “woo woo” stuff, but what this converts to is a clearer mind, improved focus, and more powerful internal drive. This is because you can manage your thoughts instead of juggling a million of them all at once. Once you can identify the most important things you need to devote yourself to, you can channel more of your brainpower that way.

The SELF Journal has helped me find the time to journal, and to journal better than ever before. In just 5-10 minutes a day I was able to accomplish the most important parts of my journaling routine. Then if I had extra time in the day, I could spend longer going deeper into certain areas.

review of the best self journal

What is the Best Self Journal?

The Best Self daily journal is sort of like a mix between a planner and a journal. It’s designed so that you write in it every day but it will only the take 5-10 minutes each day. The creators of it took a deep dive into the world of self-motivation and productivity, to discover what the tricks and habits were that made some of the most successful people in the world so successful. With this information, they structured the layout of the book so that it helps stimulate self-motivation and increase productivity, by helping you get clear on your goals and appreciate what you have and what you have already accomplished. To be honest, the science and detailed behind it all are a bit beyond my full understanding, but the effects have been obvious.

We had an insanely busy 2016, with our honeymoon in Finland, spending time in Argentina, moving back to Canada from Chile, running our longest ultra marathon ever, and I switched to a new job. The stressors were everywhere, and some of them were big. Sure, deep down I knew it was all for the better, and that I truly wanted to do everything we were doing. But at times it was pretty hard to manage. Once I started with this journal, it made the world of difference. Yes, I was in fact more focused and productive at achieving my goals and getting things done. But even for the areas that I wasn’t able to influence or control, I found myself more content with their progress or how they were happening. It felt like I saw the world a bit clearer, even though that’s a bit of wish washy statement!

 

Best Self Pro’s

Simplicity

The things you write in the journal each day don’t have to be epic statements or super deep memoirs. It can be absolutely anything that you feel urged to write down. Sometimes you might be trying to work through a difficult problem in your life, so you dive deep into that. Other times you might be stressed because there are a million small errands to run before an upcoming trip. It’s that simple, you just let it flow. The effectiveness of it, is in the simplicity of it.

Time Commitment

Like I said before, I used to consider journaling as a longer process where I would devote an hour or more to it so that I could really get lost in the writing. This is not like that. It’s 5-10 minutes a day, and it makes a huge impact. We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule, and this is whole heartedly following that. The 20% of your thoughts to get 80% of the clarity. Like Tony Robbins once said, “If you don’t have 10 minutes to spare, you don’t have a life.”

Consistency

Maybe it wasn’t designed for this. But after adopting the practice of writing in my journal every day, I started to leach on that newly built habit to try and build more. So I thought what other things could I do either immediately before or after, or even during the time I was writing in my journal. First, I started oil pulling, while I wrote. You’re not talking anyways, so why not swoosh some coconut oil around in your mouth to help whiten your teeth. Then after I became consistent in my oil pulling habit, I started doing some simple stretches while writing. Nothing extreme or exhausting. But sitting in pigeon pose or in a wide-legged straddle, would add 5-10 minutes each day of stretching. This one is still in progress, but I am still finding myself doing it more often than not, which is more than I used to!

 

Best Self Con’s

The con I have can not and will not ever be fixed or removed. That’s because it in itself is one of the hidden perks. In doing lots of traveling, there are always so many things to pack. The beauty of the technological era is that so many things are being made digital, that it is easy to bring more things along on your phone or computer. The Self journal, is not one of those things. It requires you to add on a small notebook to your packing list if you want to continue writing. Most of the time I still bring it, because I find the value it brings me is worth a little extra weight. But sometimes, it would be nice if there was an app. I know deep down, however, that pulling me away from the technology and putting pen to paper is almost a therapy it itself, so I guess things could be worse!:)

is the self journal worth it

 

Would We Recommend the Best Self Journal?

It really doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, what you’re job is, what your current stress levels are at, this is one of those tools that can help improve your life from terrible to a little less terrible or even great to a little more great. It doesn’t take any special skills or beliefs, simply to show up and write what’s on your mind. So in saying this, I can absolutely recommend to anyone wanting to find a little more productivity or clarity in their day to day lives, go check out the Best Self Journal now!

Monkii Bars Bodyweight Training Device – Product Review

We’ve been using the Monkii Bars ultra-portable bodyweight training device for a few months now and have really found, among all their benefits and features, their versatility to be what serves us the most.  Always wanting to find new gyms out in nature and frequently wanting to workout while travelling, have made the Monkii Bars incredibly useful for us.  Now we could go on all day about every detail in a super nit-picky review, but we just want to touch on the aspects of this piece of equipment that affect us the most, being ultra marathon runners, yoga and acroyoga practitioners and world travellers.

 

PRODUCT UPDATE: Since writing this post, Monkii Bars 2 has been released, and they are a serious improvement on the incredible originals. Shop Monkii Bars 2 Now and get 5% OFF

travel workout equipment

Monkii Bars – Technical Specs

Just so you have a good idea of what we’re talking about.  The Monkii Bars are a pair of super lightweight suspension style system, that act similar to a pair of gymnastic rings, for bodyweight training.  They would be almost like an incredibly lightweight TRX system.

The bars themselves are 8 inches in length, weigh less than one pound as a pair, but they are strong enough to hold up to 220 lbs.  How can something so lightweight be so STRONG?  Monkii bars are made with some incredible materials, including hard Maple wood for the handles, Spectra materials in the line, and aerospace aluminum for the attachment hardware.  The lines that come standard with each pair of Monkii Bars is approximately 18 feet, making it extremely versatile to do all kinds of exercises, attached to all kinds of things!

ultra marathon runners

 

 

 

Monkii Bar Pro’s

Compact Design

The technical specs above give you an idea of how lightweight the materials these bars are made out of really are.  But the beauty part of them is the entire line and attachment piece stuff into the handles themselves, so when all packed up you have to 8 inch handles!  These are super easy to carry in your hands as you run, toss in a pack, and of course pack into a suitcase for travel.  They also come with a small piece that attaches the two while being stored/carried to help keep them together.

Simple Setup and Take Down

The attachment piece of hardware can be a bit unique if you are used rock climbing hardware, but like anything new it only takes one or two times before its almost second nature to it.  The instruction card that comes in the box gives some super easy to follow instructions that get you setup in just a few minutes.  Now that I understand how the mechanics of the attachment piece work, and I’ve set up and taken down our Monkii bars a bunch, it will usually take me between 3-5 minutes to set the bars up to be ready for a workout.

VersatileBodyweight training monii bar promo code

The one thing that stands out with the Monkii bars when you compare it to things like gymnastic rings or a TRX system, is their simple versatility.  Rings are designed to be used a certain way.  TRX you have to set up your anchor and can only attach to that.  Monkii bars you can literally wrap that line around anything you can think of then hang, pull or drag until you’re done training.  We’ve obviously attached it to high hanging poles and tree limbs, we’ve used the door attachment which makes it easy to hit an indoor workout, we’ve strung it to stairwell railings, we’ve hung it off a boardwalk and propped out feet up on the railing up the boardwalk to get a bit more difficulty in the workout, we’ve even wrapped the line around a big log to drag it along the beach.  I’ve seen some of the wild Monkii Ambassadors rig up huge boulders to do farmers walks.

And I know what you’re thinking, if this thin little line is being dragged and strapped to so many things, won’t it break.  Well right out of their websites FAQ; “Our Spectra® Line is insanely durable and strong. However, we’re certain that some of our users will be wild enough to wear down the line. If this happens, we have you covered.”  So if you ever do break the line, it will be replaced free of charge!

 

Monii Bar Drawback

As we mentioned above, we like bringing our bars with us on runs so we can find something to strap onto along the way, and get a bit of calisthenics worked into our workout. With the bars taking 3-5 minutes to setup, it creates a bit of a downtime, allowing your heart rate to drop down. This might be good to build up some energy for your bar workout, or bad because now you have to get your heart rate back up. Small thing that really has no easy fix, and no other product can really handle this issue, but just one thing we noticed.

 

Would We Recommend Monkii Bars

Whether you are a big calisthenics fan, an endurance athlete looking for some fast and light ways to keep muscle mass balance, a big traveller who is always on the go and living out of a suitcase, or even someone who just doesn’t like going to a public gym, the Monkii Bars would suit you well!  They have created a super innovative product to make fitness simple and accessible for everyone, no matter where you are, and the makers themselves are great people who really believe in their product and what it can do to the fitness industry.  If you feel like giving them a try, we’ve dug up a promo to get you all 5% off!! Get your set of Monkii Bars

ultra mel and jon training monkii bars vs trx

 

9 Must-Have Travel Items for Athletes

Traveling Can Be Hard on the Body, Especially an Athlete’s Body

Through years of racing internationally and interacting with other travelling athletes, we have compiled what we’ve found to be the must-have travel items for athletes.

1. Travel Roller®

The absolute smallest “good” roller we have found. Strong enough to get deep, but a thin cushion to not be extreme, this roller gives you an amazing recovery rolling session. The best part about it though is the centre is hollow, so you can stuff clothing inside the roller and not lose room in your suitcase. Or depending on your travel destination, the roller will house a bottle of wine just right for you to safely bring a bottle home with you! Shop Travel Roller® Deluxe Foam Roller

2. Compression Socks

Any style will work, and there are many companies making them these days. Compression socks are great to wear on the airplane to reduce swelling of feet, and can be worn during runs or after workouts for recovery. There are so many uses, this is a vital travel item. You can find so many options at your local running store, we always like to buy local, so if you are in Canada, visit Runners United, as they often have great deals on good brands.

3. Universal Adapter

There are way too many available today, but through all the ones we’ve tried and tested, the “WanEway” All-in-One Universal Travel Adapter is by far our favourite. It was a recommendation from Tim Ferriss, and we totally agree with him. About as light as you can get, while offering adapters for just about anywhere in the world, this little thing comes with us on every trip. So if you want to keep your iPod, laptop, kindle, speakers, or GPS watches charged up for runs or workouts, this will be essential for international travel.

travel jacket for athletes

4. Inov8 Rain Jackets

 

Sure they can be any brand, but we’ve tried a few and these ones are the best we’ve tried. A waterproof breathable jacket that is super compact is tough to find, but incredible for outdoor style of travel. Will keep you dry in the rain, can be worn out to dinner (though nothing fancy) but can be worn on runs, these are just a great thing to pack for your trips. Men’s jackets/Women’s jackets

5. Skipping Rope

Whether you are in a crunch for time or simply aren’t sure where to run in the surrounding area, a super light skipping rope can help you build a high intensity workout with limited space. We love the cable speed ropes because they are extremely light, very fast and durable to handle workouts just about anywhere. The one in our suitcase right now is Cable Skipping Rope (by Outrigger)

6. Greens Powder

This can help keep your energy and immune system up and running during your travel or while on the road and not eating as healthy as you would at home. We are obviously partnered with Prairie Naturals because we find they make an outstanding line of products. There Blueberry Greens-Force is pretty wicked because it tastes good even when mixed simply with water.

7. Monkii Bars

Equipment isn’t always easy to find while travelling, and Monkii Bars has made one of the most travel friendly suspension style training setup available. They weigh almost nothing, compact down super small, and still offer you a good variety of exercises to help you get a good strength workout while on the go. Get 5% off a pair of Monkii Bars

athletic travel essentials

8. Dehydrated Food

This one is really only important if you are traveling to a country where the cuisine is unknown or questionable. If you are going somewhere well developed, then your meals should be all set, and healthy food is not too hard to find. But in countries where they don’t appreciate flavour, or ingredients, and finding a tasty meal that is somewhat healthy for you is relatively hard to find, you might want to pack one or two dehydrated meals. They can cover you in a jam, and give you a solid meal by just adding boiling water.  Agreed, a dehydrated meal might not be the absolute healthiest meal, but this industry has changed drastically over the past several years and some high quality ingredients are being worked in. A couple of our favourites are made by Harvest Foodworks and Backpacker’s Pantry.

9. Organo Gold Coffee

Let’s face it, some countries just don’t know what a good cup of coffee tastes like. But are you really ready to buy a crappy instant coffee to bring with you? Organo Gold Coffee is an instant blend coffee that all you have to do is add water. What make them awesome is they are made from a variety of mushroom powders, so they are a superfood powerhouse that will energize you the same a a cup of joe, but with much less caffeine.

 

What Are Your Favourite Travel Items for Athletes?

We’d love to hear them, so share some of your packing essentials in the comments!

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