Ultra Mel and Jon

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Life After Quitting Policing

What Did You Do After Leaving The Police Service?

It has now been a little over a year since quitting policing, and in this time I have learned a number of important life lessons, I’ve grown a much stronger relationship with my spouse, really revved up my physical capabilities and have changed my views on quite a few things.  I have received many messaged from readers of my first post about why I quit policing, which has forced me to reflect a lot on my decision.  So I thought I would share a bit about why I don’t regret my decision to quit being a police officer.

 

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If you’re interested in a deeper dive of my reasoning  for leaving, some of the realities I learned about policing, and where I am today.

Grab a copy of my ebook “Wearing the Badge”

 

 

Finding Work After Policing

For anyone who follows our blog or Facebook page, you may know that after quitting our jobs, we sold almost everything we owned and moved abroad, landing us in Chile, a country neither of us had visited before.  In a new country and not knowing Spanish, my search for work after policing was a little tough.  Of course, everyone told me “don’t worry, you’ve got over five years of ‘professional experience.'” But the more and more jobs I applied to, the more I debated pulling my policing experience off my resume, and the more I started using stories and examples from other areas of my life (volunteer work, athletics, starting races, etc.) during interviews and on applications. To be honest, I found people weren’t really sure what to do with a story from that family fight you responded to, or that drug dealer you once investigated. I’ve recently wrote in detail about my experiences finding work after policing, and more specifically why I took police officer OFF my resume.

life after quitting policing

 

Does Being A Police Officer Affect Your Relationships?

Another significant change I noticed after leaving the police force, was the kind of relationship I had with my now wife, Melissa.  This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone as the stats have shown that 60-70% of police relationships end in divorce.  Why the change? It may have been due to us both working at home, so were now spending quite literally 24hrs a day together.  It may be due to the fact moving abroad took away many other “comforts” or “familiarities.”  But there was absolutely something to not coming home every night and sharing all the crap I had to deal with that day, complaining about the system and how dysfunctional it was, or rushing to bed (at all hours of the day) because my next shift started in 12 hours.  There was definitely a negative energy that I was able to shed when I left the police, and this opened up time and room for deeper conversations about our beliefs, values and desires.  The kind of things that shape our personalities, not simply the type of things that make up our identity.

 

Health Improvements After I Left The Police

I mentioned in my first post how the emphasis put on physical fitness was almost embarrassing.  Well since leaving the shift work environment, the clunky “sam brown” belt, and other stressors that come with working as a police officer, I have noticed huge improvements in my health and fitness.  Training for ultra marathons can be tough when you have to do hard intervals or a 2-3 hour run before an 11 hour night shift, wearing 10 pounds of gear on your hips, and let’s face it, spending 80% of your time either sitting in a car or sitting at a desk is not the healthiest.  So by eliminating these, we’ve been able to ramp up our training so much actually that we’ll be taking on a 200-mile race this year, our longest race distance ever! Understanding long distance running might not be for everyone however, we’ve also branched into other things, developing our skills in a lot of bodyweight gymnastics and other more advanced yoga movements.

yoga inversions mel and jon

 

Now explaining the health changes is a little more difficult, and I’m not going to go into anything major, but since quitting policing most of my stress indicators such as canker sores, digestive pains, and acne, have all but disappeared. And when they do revisit, I can almost always pinpoint attribute them to a single “stressful email” or even a single food I ate.  Dealing with it or eliminating it the next day, symptoms gone, just like that.  I can’t even imagine returning to the police work environment and letting these types of “small things” manifest and deteriorate my body slowly over the years.  To me it’s just not worth it, even if they do pay you an extra $1.20 per hour during night shift. (Literally, thats it!)

 

Have I Changed As a Person?

Whether it was the police environment or perhaps even the city of Edmonton, Alberta, but since leaving it all there have been a number of small but significant changes I myself have noticed but so have my family and friends.

  • I hardly swear anymore
  • I’m nowhere near as cynical
  • I am SO much more relaxed when driving
  • My mood and energy levels are more consistent and “more uplifting” (as Mel puts it!)

 

What Life Lessons Have I Learned?

There have been so many, but something that I have noticed/learned since quitting policing, is that it’s fine, and sometimes even beneficial to go against the grain and “break the rules” every now and then.  You see, in the police world, you follow the rules or you get in trouble.  Even if you’re actions got the job done faster than if you sat in the “paralysis by analysis” norm of policing.  There are three police officers I used to work with and knew quite well.  They were all phenomenal cops, in part because they were not scared to make a quick decision to get the job done.  This, unfortunately, got them in trouble.  Despite being incredibly smart and knowledgeable, as well as reactive and capable of leading others in stressful situations, the police service penalized them for not standing in line and following their ineffective ways of dealing with things.

I have always been the type of person who will follow rules, but when an opportunity arises that could be handled differently, more efficiently than before, I will go against rules and take that action. Since leaving the straight-laced police service, this skill has landed me my current job, incredible partnerships to help me race in different countries, published articles in Canadian and American magazines, and I would never again want to be forced into that mold that required you to talk a certain way and act a certain way.  The rest of the world is trying to stay with the times, encouraging innovation and new ways of thinking about things or doing things, I think it’s time the policing world caught up and acknowledged the way they do many things is sub par.

 

Closing Thoughts On Life After Quitting Policing

I’d like to stem this closing thought off a quote from Time Ferris: “It’s better to design an ideal lifestyle and then fill in the gaps with high-output streamlined work than to fill the calendar with as much as possible and hope an acceptable lifestyle will be the by-product.”  My life after quitting policing has been focused more on designing my ideal lifestyle and filling in the holes from there.  Detaching myself from the 40 hour a week job (especially one where you’re working for someone else), the big empty house, the cars and other toys, have all opened up room to do more and own more of the things that truly matter to me.  Each day we only have a certain number of decisions we can make, emotions we can process, and things we can do, make sure you’re focusing your attention on the ones that really matter to you!

"Wearing the Badge" Ebook

Read Jonathan's in depth story about why he left policing, the realities of the job not often talked about, and where he is now today.

The Ultimate Travel Shoes

I recently read a great article from the team at Rogue Expeditions with packing tips for your next adventure. It was a great article on packing minimally even if your taking off on a trip headed for adventure. Now let me first be clear, this is definitely not speaking to the “backpacker” audience of young travellers trying to live out of a bag. The trips put on by Rogue are almost the opposite of backpacking trips.

If you are the type of adult that plans their vacations around adventure, races or any other style of extreme physical, recreational work, then you’ve probably faced this dilemma of what to pack. Bring too much and you’ll get weighed down, but forget a single essential and it could ruin your trip or even worse put you in danger. Where this article really stood out to me, was that Allison from Rogue had a really good take on footwear. You’ll need tough versatile footwear than can handle the physical challenges you’re about to take on, but you’ll also want to have some things that are nice to put on back at the hotel/camp, or even something relatively nice looking to wear if you go out for dinner.

This is where it hit me, just how far Xero Shoes have developed their footwear line to fully serve the adventure traveller. Let me break it down. To prevent half of your suitcase from filling with shoes that you might wear once on your whole trip, you can aim to find three pairs of shoes.

 

1) A running/adventure shoe

This one is pretty obvious, and you can sub this out for hiking boot or whatever else you’d need it to be.

best lightweight running shoe

Xero Shoe Option = Prio Running Shoe

Their recently released Prio’s are an incredibly comfortable running shoe that is built to last. We’ve already taken them through multiple trail ultra’s, countless miles of mountain biking, and our day to day training runs, and they feel as good as new. (A bit dirtier of course!) If hiking is more your thing, Xero shoes still have you covered, as they have just released a new minimal hiking boot (the DayLite Hiker). The beautiful part of these is unless you get them covered in mud or soaked, these are still slick enough to wear out and about, unlike some other super loud trail running shoes.

 

 

2) A pair of comfortable sandals

best outdoor sandals - best travel shoesXero Shoe Options = Z-trek, Z-Trail, DYI, too many to list!

Just about any of their sandal line will fill this, so it relies a bit on your preference. I personally love the new Z-Trails, but some things to think about would be; where will you be? Think about the ground you’ll be walking around on. How much running/hiking are you doing? A super thin sole might not be great if your feet are killing after a day of running, the Z-Trails have just a tiny bit extra thickness for this case! And will you be using these for any of the running? This is one of the main reason I love the Z-trek and Z-Trail sandals, as they are probably the most robust sandal for Xero shoes, meaning we can wear them on more extreme terrain than the other models. Again the beauty is in the multi-use, as you can wear them for walking around the hotel in the evenings, but can use them for some of the running days as well, making them a great pick to pack for your next adventure.

 

3) A pair of non-running or non-adventure shoes

minimalist loafer - zero dropXero Shoe Option = Hanna + Lena

These are their slick looking urban shoes that look more like a light loafer. They are super minimally built so lightweight and flexible to pack, and can serve as a great looking shoe if you head anywhere relatively nice on your trip. And although we haven’t, many people have done lots of running in these, so there you go, multi-purpose yet again.

 

 

Still not convinced that these are quite the ultimate travel shoes? Well if you take a mens size 11 version in the Prio, Z-Trail, and Hanna, you’d be looking at a grand total weight for all three pairs of shoes of 2.6 lbs (or 42 oz). Considering you’ll be wearing one of the shoes, you’re really only going to adding 1.66 lbs (26.6 oz) to your suitcase. If that isn’t a travel hack then I don’t know what is!

Check out the amazing line from Xero Shoes now!

 

Ultra Mel and Jon

9 Tips for Taking the Best Care of Your Adventure Dog

We have had many dogs in our day, and we’ve always been advocated of bringing them outdoors so they can experience as many of the adventures that we do. Whether it’s running, hiking, biking, SUPing, or even just some relaxing camping, it makes it just that much better with your adventure dog by your side. These are some of the tips we’ve learned from experience can keep your adventure pup as happy and healthy as possible!

caring for your adventure dog

1. Don’t Cheap Out on Dog Food

It falls within the theory that we say with our own bodies, that the quality of nutrition you put in will be correlated to the quality of output the body can generate. There are lots of great dog foods available out there, but there are also LOTS of low quality ones. If you’re looking for the best fuel for your adventure dog and you’re know sure which ones are good, we’d recommend finding a local pet store that seems to really know their stuff (avoid the big box places like Petsmart) and ask them for some guidance. We’ve had great success with some of our dogs feeding them Orijen and Acana (sister companies I believe), and recently we’ve switched Ndeze over to a newer company called GO, who make food specifically for highly active dogs!

We also supplement Ndeze’s regular food on days of higher levels of activity by either adding some fish oils on top of her kibbles, mixing in some wet dog food that’s a bit higher in cals, or simply giving her a peanut butter filled Kong to snack on.

 

2. Invest in quality gear for them

They’re trying to keep up to the high performance training you might be doing (or any training really) so we always recommend to get the best quality gear for your adventure pup, so they stay healthy and happy. A couple that would be good things to consider would be;

best gear for running dog1) A good harness for them, no matter of their size – reason for this is even if they have a thicker neck, by the time the speeds increase to running speed, a jolt on the leash can really start to cause harm to their neck. Hands down the best harness’ we’ve ever used are made by a Finnish company called Hurrta (the simple one we use and love with Ndeze is their padded harness, though we’re interested to try their new active harness!)

2) Running leash – for similar reasons to protect them for higher speed jolts on the leash, running leashes simply have an elastic component to them that allow them to stretch. We use one from Ruffwear and it works great.

3) Winter coat – find a good quality one that won’t chafe as your dog starts to increase their mileage.

Lots of other items to consider depending on your activity of choice; maybe a flashing light for them to wear at night, a reflective vest for night time runs/walks, an orange vest for out in the forest, lifejacket, and the list goes on.

 

3. Understand the Differences in Physiology

Dogs are very different from humans anatomically, so you should be aware of some of these differences as you start to push your dogs physical limits. Dogs run more in spurts with rests here and there rather than a steady pace. So if you leash up your running dog and head out the door for a steady 10k run, that might push them for too long that they can’t keep up or catch their breathe, and even make them start to fear or not enjoy running. We aim to keep our on-leash runs a bit milder and shorter (1ok max and no more than 80%), then scale up a bit whenever we go run trails in the forest somewhere that she can be off leash (Ndeze can handle a good 15ish km run when she’s free to run however she wants. That’s a big difference!).

 

4. They Don’t always understand “It’s only one more mile”

Running adventures in the snow with dogTowards the end of a workout (run, bike, hike, etc) you might feel the urge to hold your pace or even step it up a bit. That’s a very human trait that has been programmed into our heads. Try not to let that forget about your dog who’s along for the ride and might be feeling tired. They don’t understand that they’re almost done, so just hang in there. If your adventure dog is looking tuckered out, you might have to check your own agenda and take it easy until the finish line. Best to keep your dog healthy and happy for all the workouts coming in the future.

 

 

5. Flea and tick meds are a Must

An active adventure dog will likely not only be coming out on the trails with you, but will probably venture off the beaten path more than we ever could imagine. As they push through all that thick brush, the chances for picking up flea’s and ticks are super high. So if you live in areas where these are present, do your dog a favour and get them some meds to help fight these off. And even if you’ve used these preventative measures, we still highly recommend that when you get home you check for ticks and other bugs, as well as any scraps or bumps they may have acquired on your adventures.

 

6. Wildlife

This is a tough one, because there is no easy way to train your dogs behaviour around a bear or snake. It’s something you just have to be aware of in your adventure locations. Know what wildlife you may come in contact with, and do some research for how to react if you run into one on the trail, or care for your dog if they have a confrontation.

Real Life Example: While hiking one afternoon, we came across the biggest pissed off rattlesnake either of us had ever seen. Somehow Ndeze snuck by it and was now on the other side of it from us. The “Oh sh*t” moment was that we never trained her to “stay over there away from us..??..??” so her reaction to us yelling at her to stay there, or pointing to go to the side, was to walk up and sniffed the rattlesnake. She was definitely within easy striking range, but I think the snake was focused on the two yelling humans, that Ndeze managed to sneak by unharmed. On our walk home, we realized we didn’t have any clue what we would do if Ndeze was bit by a snake.

–> Learn from our mistakes, do your research and prepare as much as you can before you hit a situation like this.

 

7. You’re dog won’t know when to carb load or rest up for that long Saturday run

As smart as they are, domesticated dogs can’t exactly make the schedule, you do. So if you’re planning for a big adventure the next day or that afternoon, think about your dog the same way you would think about getting yourself prepared. Feed them a bit extra that morning, make sure they have lots of water available to keep hydrated, keep the prior days exercise pretty light for them. It’s funny to think about but put yourself in their shoes (figuratively) for one second, every time you put them in the car, they have almost NO CLUE where they’re going. We’re so fortunate that just go with the flow with a smile on their face, but do what you can to help make sure they’re as prepped as you are for the adventure ahead.

8. They might need a rest day when you don’t

This one is pretty obvious, but always respect that your dog might need to take a day to rest, even when you were planning a workout. They are obviously loyal animals that will probably suit up and push through the pain if you bring them, but if you notice a low energy or an unmotivated dog one day, they might just need a bit of rest.

 

9. Plan in some Dog Fun

Sure the outdoors is a haven for dogs as much as humans, but plan out some fun times for them along the way; bring a toy, stop in the dog park, let them jump in the water. It’s amazing how much of an energy boost they can get from a bit of fun!

beach adventure pup - running partner

If anyone has any tips they want to share on how you keep your adventure dog running at max capacity, we’d love to hear them!:)

Ultra Mel & Jon

Xero Shoes Z-Trek Sandal Review

Both of us are obviously huge supporters in Xero Shoes Sandals and the entire minimalist movements, and we have been using/testing out the recently released Amuri Z-Trek Sandal for quite a few months now, so we thought it would be nice to share our thoughts in a product review.

Melissa and I have ran countless miles and tons of races in our Xero Shoes and while we absolutely love them, they obviously have a few drawbacks.  A couple of them being that mud decreases your traction, very technical downhill can seem a bit unstable at times, and while water crossings don’t affect your feet as much as shoed runners, pulling your foot through the water can put pressure on the toe string and cause weakening of it.

Mel backbend xero shoes beach

 

So when Steven Sashen showed us the demo model of the new Z-Trek sandal, we were stoked to try them out.  We got our hands on a pair earlier this year and have put them through some good use.  Lots of road and trail runnings, flat and technical terrain, muddy, rainy and even sandy environments, and we can honestly say at this point we are very impressed with how they have held up!

Z-Trek Pro’s:

  • z-trek ultra marathon chile muddyNo Toe Post 

    • Not only does this get rid of string between your toes (some people just can’t stand that), but with an extra point of connection to the sole, this boosts the stability and have massive improvements in the way you can trek through muddy terrain!
  • Downhill traction

    • Love to run downhill! And when I wore my DIY Xero’s it always felt like I was holding back because I didn’t want to apply too much pressure to the toe post.  The Z-Treks strapping system allows you to tighten things up around the ankle so that when you’re running up and downhill, almost all of the pressure is applied there, which feels SO much more stable, and allows you to really pick up the speed on descents!
  • Water functionality

    • We have a new level of confidence dragging our feet through water now in the Z-Trek sandals because of the extra stability and the straps being easier to quickly tighten.  They worked so well in fact that we have started using them as our water shoes whenever we go kayaking.

bruce county ultra marathon mel and jon

  • Easy of Use

    • The Amuri Z-Trek sandals have a single velcro strap behind the heel which makes them very easy to slip on and off.  Adjusting the strapping system will take a few wears to fit them perfectly, but everything moves easily and adjustments only take a second.  Short of going back to a useless flip-flop, one of the easiest sandals we’ve used.
  • travel sport sandal ztrek Size and Flexibility 

    • This is to be expected from any sandal made by Xero Shoes but the Z-Treks still allow free barefoot feeling movement in the foot, and can even roll up into the size of … this –>
  • Compatible with Sox

    • While you can wear finger sox with any of the other Xero Shoes, the Z-Treks open up the possibility to wear any type of regular sox you own which can allow them to be used in colder climates.

Z-Trek Con’s:

  • More Material Contact 

    • With the extra stability comes extra material, and with extra material in contact with your foot, there are more areas susceptible to rubbing and blisters.  All we can say with this is pay attention to where you are feeling these hot spots, first try to adjust the straps, then look into your running form to see if this might be telling you something more subtle.
  • Not Easy to Fix

    • To be honest, we haven’t had to try fixing one of these, but this is an educated guess that the Ztrek sandals would be more difficult to fix if a point of contact were to break.  Unlike in the DIY where you can just retie your laces, these would require a more mechanical fix of some sort. Again, just struggling for cons here obviously since this one has never happened to us.

xero shoes huarache sandal ztrekWould we recommend the Amuri Z-Trek?

Absolutely! This sport sandal is a blend of all the highlights from the rest of the Xero Shoe line of footwear.  Lightweight and flexible, yet sturdy enough to go to work, and on top of it all, they are easy to adjust and fit to your feet!  We probably wear our Z-Trek sandals more than anything else we own, and would highly recommend runners, walkers, kayakers, or just about anyone looking for a more natural feeling sandal to give them a try!

 

Amuri Z-Treck – Lightweight Sports Sandals for Men – Only $59.99
Amuri Z-Treck – Lightweight Sports Sandals for Men – Only $59.99

 

Who would the Z-Trek Sandals be perfect for?

  • Runners and walkers (obviously!)
  • Anyone who does water sports (other than swimming, I don’t know how that would go:S)
  • Travellers! Not flimsy and roll up into almost nothing.

xero shoes gymnastics workout chile

If you’ve used the new Z-Trek Sandals from Xero Shoes, we’d love to hear what you thought!  Share in the comments or send us an email to share your story!

Run Free

Mel and Jon

–> If you want to go minimalist but still aren’t sure about running/walking in sandals, you have to check out the new Prio Minimalist Shoes

Monkii Bars Versatile Fitness Tools – Gear 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

 

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