Category Archives: stuff

Arse wheat?

Lots of shoe giveaways going on in blogworld right now.  Bryon’s got 5 pairs of NB MT110s up for grabs and all you have to do is leave a comment here.  648 comments on day one…

For slightly better odds, you can enter to win some Merrell Road Gloves from the Maple Grove Barefoot Guy.  It requires a little more thought than just leaving your name and location.  He wants a haiku poem.

Pic from MGBG site.

I don’t know what is going on in my head lately with shoes and poetry.  I keep repeating phrases in my mind and coming up with different words that fit the sounds.  I’m sure there is a name for that kind of thing, but haven’t bothered to look it up.

My entry:

I think
them are el rowed
loves arse wheat

DIY Suspension Trainer

I have always felt the need to be doing more than just running for keeping fit.  Yeah, the dreaded core work.  I stink at keeping to a regular routine.

Some of my problem, at least the excuse I lean most heavily on, is that I have a disc issue in my lower back that is easily aggravated when doing the traditional crunches and other core moves.  I have looked at doing things like Crossfit, but have never really gotten any traction there.

When I first saw suspension training, the lightbulb finally went on.  Here was something that looked like I could handle doing without ticking off the trouble spot in my back.  It looked fun and challenging.   Then Lucho started posting a bit regarding some of his TRX workouts.  I was sold.  This had to be the tool I had been searching for.

A few mouse clicks later, and I hit my first roadblock.  $250 for the system I wanted.

Seemed a little steep for some webbing and handles (oh, plus all the workout DVDs).  Still, I could easily justify that amount if it was something that I would consistently use and would work for my needs.  I just didn’t want to spend that much up front to find out.

The gears started turning and I figured I could make something myself fairly easily to try out.

There are dozens of examples on YouTube for doing that very thing:

Some of them looked okay, and I even had the straps they used sitting in my garage.  The buckles are huge and heavy, though.  I didn’t like the idea of them banging around into each other and/or me while I was trying to work out.  In the first video you can hear the buckles and hooks clanking around while he’s just standing there holding it all in his hands.

I wanted something that was adjustable, but I didn’t want to rely on buckles to accomplish that.  Keep it simple, light, strong, and clean.

I opted to use the pvc handles, but with one piece of rope running through the entire setup.  I went with 7mm static cord because it was easier to work with for the types of knots I used and made a cleaner design than webbing could have.  Since there weren’t any buckles in the design, webbing wasn’t needed.

I used Figure 8 knots for the handle loops which are much more secure than the bowline used in the video.  The bowline is a good knot, but can work loose when it is unloaded.  I backed the knots up with a couple of hitches and taped the ends.  This design also has the advantage of allowing the handle loops to be clipped directly, in case you wanted to set up something for doing pullups with independent attachments.

I then used an Alpine Butterfly knot in the center of the cord to be used for clipping with a carabiner.  That knot is a perfect one for making a small loop in the center of a line.

You need to be able to quickly adjust the suspension trainer to different lengths to allow for various movements (like the Scorpion, or an Atomic Pushup).  The crux of my design is to use a daisy chain type of arrangement to accomplish this.  After trying many different variations with webbing and rope, I settled on using a length of rope with Figure 8 loops on each end and Alpine Butterfly knots at regular intervals in-between.  This allows for a great range of adjustment and is as simple as clipping a ‘biner to whatever loop you want to get the desired length.

Very simple.

I’m probably most proud of the design I came up with for the foot loops.  Again, simple and clean was the goal.  I used tubular nylon webbing and inserted a thin piece of hose I cut up to help it hold the ‘U’ shape.  Then I threaded the webbing through the handles leaving plenty of length on each end.  I tied a simple overhand knot in each end and then pulled the webbing back inside the handles forcing the knots into each other to hold it all in place.  Then trim the excess.  Nice and tidy.

I tested out a handful of different prototypes and liked this one the best.  It’s everything I was hoping to achieve when I started the project.  The biggest challenge by far was getting all of the knots centered and evenly distributed.

I toss it into a cinch sack and take it along on the shorter mileage days to mix things up a little.

The total cost was around $20.  The carabiner was the most expensive item.

I even created a door hanging option using some webbing with a double stopper knot.  Works great!

Now I just need to build some strength up to where I can actually make good use of the thing.

Gift Ideas for the Ultrarunner

A.K.A. – If I didn’t already have all of this stuff, it’s what would be on my list…


Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich

I won a signed copy at the Slickrock 100.  Haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to digging into it over the holidays.  I’ve heard good things about it and particularly like Marshall’s Ten Commandments of Endurance:
1. Expect a journey and a battle
2. Focus on the present and set intermediate goals
3. Don’t dwell on the negative
4. Transcend the physical
5. Accept your fate
6. Have confidence you will succeed
7. Know that there will be an end
8. Suffering is OK
9. Be kind to yourself
10. Quitting is not an option
Okay, this is one thing on the list I don’t own.  I plan on ordering a copy soon.

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Bryon Powell


4th Generation iPod Shuffle

Sure, everyone has one, but if you are an ultrarunner you’ll need two!  Unless you’re Hal K. blazing 13 hour 100 milers the battery won’t quite make it through your race.  This is the 4th shuffle I’ve owned and I really like it.  It is noticeably smaller than the previous generation, and has nice voice-over features to help you navigate your playlists.

They are tough, too!  I ruined 2 prevoius generation shuffles, one in a snowstorm, the other with sweat (ewww).  I tried to kill this one by dropping it in a river, but it survived and is still going strong.  As I approached the river crossing just past mile 40 of the Leadville 100, I thought it would be a good idea to put the shuffle in the small ziplock bag I had in my pocket.  I unplugged the shuffle and dropped it right through the bag into the calf deep water I was walking through.  The baggie was missing the bottom seam!  I recovered the iPlop, shook and blew out the water, and tucked it in my pack for an hour.  Fired it up after that and the tunes flowed like a river.

Duracell Instant USB Charger

If you are going to be on the trail for a couple of sunrises, a portable recharge unit comes in handy to keep the juice flowing to your GPS watch.  I used this one successfully in my last 100 miler.  I just clipped on the cable and held the battery in my hand for 3 miles or so at about the 60 mile mark.  That topped off the watch enough to get me through the rest of the race.

It works great with phones and other gadgets, too.

Petzl e+LITE

This light has been out for several years, but makes an excellent gift if you don’t happen to have one.  It weighs less than one ounce!  It’s great for early morning race starts, you can see it clipped to the brim of my visor:


For a 100 miler, I just keep it with me for the rest of the race in case I misjudge the pickup point for my main lights.  It’s great to have it along to act as a spare, too.

Joby Gorillapod

A lot of trail runners like to take pictures.  The Gorillapod only weighs 1.6 ounces and is a great way to get some good shots while out in the mountains or woods.

You can use it to see what your footstrike looks like:

Black Diamond

Ultra Distance Z-Pole Trekking Poles

These poles showed up in a big way this year, and will continue to be a hot item in the ultra world.  I have yet to use mine in a race, but I did use them on a week long backpacking trip with great results.  They are super light (9.5oz for the pair!) and fold up nicely. They are pricey, and are probably not the most durable thing out there.  If you like to move fast up big mountains, give them a shot.  They also come in cheaper/heavier versions.

I know runners can be hard to shop for.  Hopefully this list will give you some ideas.  Happy Holidays!

(I don’t have any financial interest in any of these products…)