• Tips to Dating a Barefoot/Xero Runner

    Barefoot/Xero runners are one of a kind. We are a special group of species that are just flat-out awesome to say the least…so who wouldn’t want to date one? Here’s some tips to having a successful relationship with us one of a kind runners ;)

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    1. Do not, I repeat, do NOT comment on heelstriking if you see it ever happen: telling a barefoot runner they had a heel strike is more of an insult to a barefoot runner than calling them fat (which 99% of runners aren’t anyways). Even if you see that heel drop once, refrain from stating it because the runner probably already knows they did a little oopsie anyways. But if you do so happen to blurt it out, pull up a chair, because you will be getting a good lecture on how barefoot runners ‘never’ heel strike.DSC01736

    2. We LOOOVE foot massages:  Jumping straight into this one when you first start dating a barefoot runner however may be a bit of a no-no. Because of the extreme self-consciousness we have towards the state of our feet..we may feel a little awkward. But once you have been with each other for awhile, go for it! We probably get some of the sorest foot muscles out there.  Sure, the skin on our feet may not be the most enjoyable to touch but I can promise you, you will be repaid after ;)         (Bonus points if you throw in a calf massage too!)

    3. We get even more moody than the typical runner when winter rolls around: No more trail running in barefoot sandals = no more chipper runner 24/7. Most trail runners would agree that running on treadmill inside just flat out sucks. But when you’re forced to run on one to be able to keep getting in the miles in your sandals…that ROYALLY sucks. So be cautious around us come the winter months. Best way to help alleviate a mood swing when it comes around?? refer back to #2…DSC_0994

    4. If you ever get stuck in one of those awkward silent moments with us, just say the words “Born to Run”. This will automatically make us switch to full blown chatter box mode and although you still may be saying nothing as we blabber on, I can assure you, we will no longer think the moment is awkward.

    5. Regarding the barefoot chickas – We like dates where we don’t have to be in heels for 8 hours. That doesn’t mean you can’t take us out to a nice restaurant still…just don’t one up us in the formal attire department. Otherwise we feel compelled to wear heels in which case we may resemble Bambi and you therefore become obliged to lend an escorting arm every time we walk as to make sure we don’t crack open our head.

    6. Please do not call our running sandals “flip-flops”. These are far from a pair of Old Navy flip-flops. Call them “huaraches”, “Xeros”, “running sandals”, “invisible shoes”, etc….just not “flip-flops”. A comment like that could easily land you in the dog house.

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    All-in-all: From this list I hope you take away at least one thing…the best kind of person to date out there is a BAREFOOT/XERO RUNNER ;)

     

  • Born to Run – The book that started it all

    Born to run coverI have to admit that I owe a lot to this book.  It taught me a lot, made me think, and ultimately has changed my life dramatically.  The most prevailing thoughts that this book provoked into my head were ones of a more simplistic outlook on things.  The more it spoke about the Tarahumara runners and how they lived their lives, the way they ran and “trained” (airquoted only because it is hardly training to them, its simply a lifestyle that includes a lot of running as a means of transportation and entertainment) caused me to look into my live and my fitness regime.  I my goals started to change from hitting a new pr lift or run, to running up this mountain, rock climbing in this mational park.  My eyes were opened from the narrow vision that we in the western world see our fitness as, and look at these experiences as once in a lifetime opportunities.  We need to do what we can while we can, becuase no one knows what tomorrow will bring. 

    This novel also dives into a broad scheme of topics from the evolutionary progression of humans hunting techniques, to looking into the physiological attributes that we have vs other species to help answer the question “Were we born to run?”  Christpher McDougal does a great job of bringing in a number of very interesting characters to the non-fictional storyline, which has been a major influence in the current minimalist movement we are in today.  Before the release of this book, you wouldn’t have been able to walk into a sporting good store and find shoes with soles only mm thick, and there definitely wasn’t a multitude of companies offering their take on the Tarahumara’s famour running footwear, huarache sandals.  The idea was planted, the research began to follow, and the popularity boomed. 

    DSC_0993In our 2013 season, we were able to experience things and meet people right out of this novel which made some of our adventures very surreal.  Running the Born to Run Ultra marathon in California where we met Patrick Sweeney and Luis Escobar, travelling to Costa Rica to race La Ruta, allowed us to spend time with over a dozen Tarahumara runners, including Silvino Cubasare who was a character in the novel.  On this trip we were even able to share our Xero Shoe’s with the Tarahumara, who in turn showed us how they tie their classic huarache sandals. 

    I can honestly say this book played a major part in why I run ultra marathons, and a huge part of why I run in my huarache sandals made by Xero Shoes.  I would recommend this book to every runner or fitness enthusiast, and anyone else who’s willing to read this great novel with an open mind. 

    Very rarely do I read a book twice, however this one is on my list for its second time as I think I will have a more enlightened outlook and appreciation for the storyline than I did before.

  • NDIZOTHEKA! We’re going to Africa!!!

    Ray Zahab - popular pic“We have one chance in our lives, to do something great!”      

    Ray Zahab (Founder of I2P)                                    

     

     

     

    From the hot plains of South Dakota to the humid jungles of Costa Rica, 2013 challenged Mel and I in ways we could have never imagined.  We’ve changed our diets, our footware, our goals and most importantly our outlook on the amazing sport of ultra marathon running.  After competing in 4 memorable races throughout the 2013 season, we look forward to new year and the opportunities that are out there.  One of our biggest challenges has been set, a 7 day/6 stage race in Madagascar!

    rtp LOGORacing the Planet organizes 4 annual events every year, located in the Atacama Desert, the Gobi Desert, the Sahara Desert, and Antartica (Bi-Annual race).  7 Years ago they introduced a yearly “Roving Race” which would follow the race structure of their popular 4 race series, yet the location would change every year.  Having been hosted in destinations such as Nepal, Vietnam and Iceland to name a few, the 2014 Roving Race is set to take place in beautiful Madagascar.

    Having always been a dream destination for both Mel and I, Africa is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes and wildlife this planet has to offer.  Not to mention some extremely elite running cultures throughout.  Madagascar is ever more unique in the sense that over 90% of its flora and fauna is only found on the island itself.  It will truly be enlightening to run over 250km through this country.

     

    I2P logoOn top of the entensive training and preparation that is going to be required for this race, we are partnering up with Impossible 2 Possible to raise funds for their youth expedition program, which works to inspire, educate and empower today’s up and coming youth.

     

    This race will be life changing for us and we want to share everything we learn and go through with those around us.  We hope we can inspire you to become a bit healthier, reach out to someone in need, help spread awareness of a global problem, or any little change than can brign a smile to someone elses face.

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    Run Free!            

    Ultra Mel and Jon    

     

    Ps. NDIZOTHEKA: is a term thats used in parts of Africa that essentially means “anything is possible!” We first learned of the term in a film called The Boy who Flies.  Super inspirational and we both highly recommend it!

  • La Ruta

    ***La Ruta Ultra Marathon***

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    November 16, 2013, will be race day…

    The week leading up to it will be where the memories are built…

    Visiting in and around San Jose, Costa Rica..

    With a small group of ultra runners from around the world…

    Including native Tarahumara legends…

    All mixing and sharing each others culture, endurance secrets and lifestyles…

    Building the memories and friendships to last a lifetime…

    Before facing off head to head, in a 100 km trail race…

    Climbing over 13,000 feet in elevation…

    Covering a biologically diverse trail through the ecological wonderland of Costa Rica’s mountains and jungle…

    Wearing simple huarache sandals made by Xero Shoes…

    We will literally be racing side by side with some of the best natural runners this planet has ever seen…

    What would you want to know? What would you like to see us ask these pure bred ultra-athletes?

    Let us know how you would see Costa Rica and all it has to offer…

    Follow our trip as we dive into this incredible experience…

    Twitter, Facebook, and here at ultramelandjon.com

    Or tune into one of our webinars that we will stream live from San Jose…

    What we will learn, experience, see will be shared to inspire each and every person to look outside the box and to what other cultures and countries have to offer this world!!!

    La Ruta

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    To say we’re excited would be an understatement… but we are more looking forward to sharing everything to followers… what have they always wanted to know, to try, and to see… Let us be the inspiration you need to take the jump and just go for it!!!

  • Gear review – Xero Shoes (4 mm contact and 6mm connect)

    Xero Shoes – Feel the world! (www.XeroShoes.com)

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    Huarache Sandals!! Likely some of the first forms of footwear worn by man, continue to be worn by people worldwide, and recently popularized by the best selling novel Born to Run by Christopher Mcdougal.  The system is simple, allow the foot to move as naturally as possible, while giving it just a bit of protection from the elements of nature.  Xero shoes was one of the first companies to manufacture and offer a huarache sandal made from modern materials.

    Xero shoe consist of a rubber sole (either 4mm or 6mm thick, depending on what you order) what is attached to your foot with a six foot polyester lace.  With endless tying methods (most with online tutorials to guide you) they can be tied to fit any pair of feet and for pretty much any purpose.  The soles also come with a 5,000 mile warranty with proves the confidence of the company in their product. 

    We’ve tried out both sandals, during short jogs, fast interval workouts, ultra marathons up to 100 miles, and for all kinds of hiking and camping out in the back country.  Here is what we’ve found!

    Yay’s

    Super lightweight: you will hardly notice these on your feet or in your pack.

    Odourless: they won’t hold the smell like some of the other minimalist shoes … vibrams!!

    Simple ties: While it may take a bit of time to adjust your laces, and get used to what that sweet spot is for tightness, when you get it right, it stays!

    Prevent injuries: You may have some new aches and pains when first switching over to your Xero’s (tight calves, sore arches) thats your body getting stronger.  The real benefit is that your shin splints, knee/hip/back pain will all subside as your body learns to run correctly and efficiently. 

    Water: you can run through puddles and streams and won’t come out with 5 extra pounds of weight on your feet.  With nothing to absorve the water these sandals are agreat for this.

    Ney’s

    Rocks: You will end up with some rocks sneaking under your foot, though very few will hang around for long and require you to flick them out.

    Mud: It will make the surface of the sandal slick until it dries up (usually within a minute or so).  On the flipside they won’t hold any mud like the big treads on trail shoes, so its a give-take decision.

    Transition:  switching from a regular shoe to Xero shoes will reruire time as you slowly build your speed and distance back to what it was.  Too much too fast will leave you will leave your calves and feet feeling sore and tired, that is until they can strengthen and keep up to your training.

     

    Bottomline, we would suggest Xero Shoes to anyone to help strengthen their feet and feel the world they are moving along.  We will continue to use mine as we enjoy running more than we ever have.  And being such a quality product, under a great warranty, for a very reasonable price, how can you possibly go wrong? 

    We hope this helps and would encourage you all to visit their website to order up a pair.  Any questions please toss them on the comments! 

    Jon and Mel