Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gear Review: ON Cloudracer

While down in Florida this past summer I noticed someone running in a pair of shoes that well, just looked different than any other running shoe I've come across.

When I was able to catch up to this gal (there was a red light!) I found out that the shoe was the ON CloudRacer. I never heard of ON befor that meeting, but a quick Google search later I found myself on the ON website reading up on these little beauties.

The technology on which these shoes are built is referred to as ON CloudTec technology.  I really find the story surrounding the development of this technology quite interesting, so I'm going to share it with you as it is posted on ONs website:

The wish for a pain-free and effortless running experience marked the beginning of the On CLoudTec (tm) technology: a Swiss engineer and running pioneer, who was struggling to continue to run because his knees had taken severe damage from years of using conventional running shoes, set out to change the physics of running.

He had realized that he felt much less pain when running on gravel or sand covered trails, which would allow his foot to softly glide into every step.  The engineer observed that there are two forces at work when running: the vertical and horizontal impact.  He discovered that it is the horizontal impact, which causes the most damage to muscle cells, ligaments and joints.  Oddly, existing running shoes only absorb the vertical impact.  The engineer wanted to create a running shoe, which would allow a runner to land as softly as on sand and to push off as effectively as on concrete.

The result was a surprisingly simple, yet highly functional cushioning element:  A piece of circular rubber, which absorbs both the vertical and the horizontal impact.  As the foot hits the ground with forward momentum, the CloudTech (tm) element folds back, effectively allowing the foot to glide to a softer halt.  After landing, the element is compressed by the weight of the runner, locks together and is fully firm for the push-off.  The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Testing and Research concluded that the On CloudTech (tm) cushioning system reduces impact force by 25 - 30 percent, and is even more active during push-off than a regular running shoe.
The company went as far as to ask the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) to test the ON against the favorite running shoe of athletes.  Check out this video (results of the study are posted towards the end):

Now, IMO, research is a funny thing.  You can likely find research that supports or negates an argument so unless you have multiple research studies conducted by third parties you have to take some of this with a grain of salt.  HOWEVER, the fact that these shoes were developed by an actual RUNNER and not a bunch of marketers goes a long way in my book.  There's something positive to be said about a running shoe company whose Founder is a 6-time Ironman winner!

Out Of The Box:

Now that I bashed marketeers (of which I am one), let me pass along big KUDOS to the ON Marketing Team.   The packaging is absolutely beautiful.  Included with the shoes are an extra pair of laces in a contrasting color and a membership ID card that gives you access to the company founder, Olivier Bernhard who really is a 3-time world champion and 6-time ironman winner.

The shoes are simply stunning.  Seriously, the nicest looking running shoe I've come across.

Most notable are the treads or "lugs" that provide the cushioning between the ground and foot.  The heel to toe ratio is 5 mm and the shoes weigh in at a mere 7 3/4 oz (Women, US 7).

The Run:

When I first put on the shoe I noticed a disc-like padding in the mid-foot area.  A little research and I was able to find out that this is called the "flight pad".  Its purpose is to stimulate the toes to splay out as to aide in a quicker toe off.

It also allows the runner to "feel" the ground, as these shoes are marketed as a minimalist shoe.  So, basically, the "flight pad" enables the runner to feel the connection with the pavement.

I wasn't a big fan of the "flight pad" when I first tried the shoes.  By my 3rd run it was a total non issue for me but did make me all that more appreciative of that technology that has gone in to the design of the CloudRunner.

Now, back to those circular rubber "lugs" that make up the sole of the shoe.  These lugs are what separates the CloudRacer from any other running shoe I've tried.  As previously mentioned, they're designed to not only absorb impact (you really do feel as if you're running on air), but they literally fold back on impact, helping you glide in to your stride and enabling you to push off on a solid surface.

For me, I feel as if this shoe provides this neutral gait runner with an even more efficient running stride.

So, What Would I Change?

Overall, I really enjoy running in the CloudRacer.  Being that it has the same 5mm drop differential as the PUMA Faas 250Trail shoe I ran in most of the summer, I'm not sure I've gotten closer to barefoot running, but I have a lot less knee pain than I've had in the past.

With that said, if I had to find something to nit-pick it would be

(1) The laces are a little long. Ok, they're alot long.  Shorter laces would be more than welcome and a simple upgrade.

(2) The mesh material took a little getting used to for me.  I've been known to run sock-less in the hot weather, especially if I'm just running intervals.  I found socks to be a must when wearing the CloudRacer.

Overall, I really give the CloudRacer two thumbs up.

If any CFB readers are running in ON Running Shoes, I'd LOVE to hear from you!  Also, for those of you considering ON, you can learn more about ON's complete line of running shoes HERE.


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Friday, October 5, 2012

Primal Menu 2

Primal Wings with Guacamole Dip
My 30-day Primal adventure should be coming to an end next week, and I originally scheduled a follow-up blood workup for 10/8/2012. I've since rescheduled my next blood test for 10/30/2012.


- Due to issues I was dealing with my first 2-weeks on the program, I don't feel as if my body was responding the way I hoped and,

- I initially approached this as a 30-day test as I didn't know if I'd be able to sustain a diet void of whole grains and legumes.

Fact is, once I made it to the 3rd week, it's been quite easy to maintain this diet.  Because I'm following a Primal (versus Paleo) diet, I do have some leeway and the Nutritionist I hired to help me with this plan actually allowed for me to have a potato and/or sprouted brown rice 2x/week.  I haven't even found that necessary and have managed to get enough carb intake through vegetables and fruit.

As such, I've decided to push my blood work out as I'm very curious to see the changes that are going to occur over the next month.

Today's menu includes:

Breakfast: Homemade chorizo stuffed in a red pepper with a fried egg on top.

Lunch: Buffalo chicken wings with Guacamole dip, along with a salad of romaine lettuce, raw spinach, carrots, cucumber, roasted red pepper with EVOO and a splash of lemon.

Snack: Apple with Almond butter

Dinner: Cajun shrimp with sauteed peppers, onions and Brussels sprouts followed by a dessert of fresh berries.

Bon appetit!


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Monday, October 1, 2012

Steve's Original Paleo Stix

It's been about 2 years since I've been so inspired by a food product I felt that I just HAD to blog about it.

That dry spell was broken by one of my favorite new snack treats, Steve's Original Paleo Stix.

I've just ordered my 3rd case in as many months.

Can anyone say "addiction"?

Fact is, Steve's Original has lots of healthy treats that are worth exploring.  Unfortunately, the sodium content runs a little high for me being that I need to keep my sodium intake at 1,000 mg/day.

The exception are the Paleo Stix.

Hard to believe but Steve manages to pack a ton of flavor in to each stick with only 71 mg/sodium.  With zero carbs and 7 grams of protein in each stick, these are the perfect snack while following my Primal diet.

Vacuum packed and no refrigeration necessary makes these the perfect food to take on flights.   When traveling, I take a few extra packages to keep in the hotel room or in my bag.  If I miss a meal, I know that a healthy option is close at hand.

Oh, and you can also feel good from a charitable perspective when purchasing from Steve's Original.  Proceeds from each purchase support Steve's Club, a non-profit organization through which at-risk or underserved youth of any socioeconomic background can join in the CrossFit Community at a reduced, low or no cost structure.

How awesome is that?


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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Primal Menu 1

Farmer's Market Shopping Trip
Heading in to my 3rd week of following a Primal Diet I do have some insights to share and, as promised, I want to start providing some details in regards to my Primal meal plan.

The first 2-weeks were rocky due to

- A flare up of Meneire's related issues that started prior to 9/11, so they are not a result of my dietary changes
- An overwhelming lethargy
- A stomach bug that may or may not have been due to my dietary changes

The level of lethargy really took me by surprise as everything I've read about the Primal and Paleo diets is how energized they make you feel.

My carb intake on the Primal diet is ~ 70 grams/day. While not super low (less than 50 grams is needed to put your body in to a state of ketosis), it's about half of what my body is accustomed to.

Apparently, what I experienced is referred to as a "low carb flu". Some people have this happen to them while others do not. It can take your body 2 - 3 weeks to adjust.

I'm happy to have gone thru this stage as it likely indicates that my body is increasing fat oxidation pathways and decreasing fat storage pathways. At the end of the day, that's why I've decided to go Primal, so it looks like everything is starting to "click".

For now I feel like my body is definitely starting to embrace the concept that grains and legumes simply aren't necessary. The lethargy is gone and I'm starting to feel more energized.

I've used the past two days to prepare a Primal Vegetable Chili and Gyro loaf that will be readily available to me throughout the week. I think of these as my version of 'Fast Food'.

Monday's meal plan will be as follows:

Breakfast: Two farmer's market eggs basted using Kerrygold unsalted butter, vegetable hash of sauteed Brussels sprouts, onions and mushrooms and a 2 oz homemade pork breakfast sausage patty.

Lunch: Homemade Primal Vegetable Chili with a side Big Girl Salad that includes Romaine lettuce, raw spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, roasted red peppers and avocado, topped with EVO and lemon juice

Snack: Blackberries and raw cashews

Dinner: Filet of Sole stuffed with Spinach, roasted asparagus and scallions with sauteed mushrooms

If you're following a Primal or Paleo diet I'd love to know how you're doing on your program, hear about your successes and share recipes!


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Friday, September 28, 2012

Gear Review: BRD G18 Knee Brace

I typically refer to my left knee as Snap-Crackle and Pop and for a few years I have been using a McDavid hinged knee brace that I purchased at Walgreens.  While it has done a seemingly good job, it's a bit clunky with large side hinges and larger metal inserts that provide laterial and medial patella support.  It's also fairly hefty at 11 1/4 ounces.

With that said, the McDavid is the first knee brace I've used and I didn't really have anything to compare it against.

As luck would have it, I recently had the opportunity to test drive the BRD G18 Knee Brace.  Please note that this knee brace was sent to me free of charge.  You can read CFBs product review disclaimer here.

The first thing I noticed out of the box was how light it was, weighing just 5 3/8 ounces according to my scale.  The second thing noticed was that it looks and feels more like a compression garment than a knee brace.  That was something that took some getting used to in terms of getting it on/off.  What also took some getting used to was the amount of compression when wearing the brace (something that I've learned to appreciate after several runs).

According to BRDs literature the G18 knee brace is specifically recommended for:
  • Irritations
  • Feeling of instabilities
  • Tendonitis, osteroarthritis
  • Post operative and trauma
The brace itself is latex free and I found it to be very breathable.  Features of this particular brace include:
  •  3-dimensional knit offers anatomically contoured fit.  This design minimizes bulk and bunching behind the knee and I found it to be fairly comfortable over the course of my runs.
  • Viscoelastic insert redistributes pressure away from the patella to surrounding soft tissues.
  • Knee activity moves silicone resulting in massage to soft tissue.
  • Stainless steel spiral stays offer medial and lateral support.
The photo I've provide shows an inside out view of the brace so that you can clearly see the metal flexible stays that run the length of the brace, and the doughnut shaped silicone insert.

With 3 uses under my belt, I'm pretty pleased with this knee brace.  It provides good support, stays in place during runs, is breathable and lightweight.

If you have ongoing joint pain, it's always best not to self-diagnose.  Speak to a doctor to determine what type of knee support they would suggest for your specific condition.

If like me, you're simply looking for something to help stabilize the patella when running, I do feel the BRD G18 Knee Brace is worth a closer look.

BRD also offers an adjustable knee brace as well as ankle and elbow braces.

Always interested in feedback from Catapult Fitness Blog Readers on what gear preferences they may have!  Feel free to post here or send an email to letting me know what product categories you would like to see reviewed!


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Friday, September 21, 2012

Primal Update

It is now a week and a half since I began my 30-day Primal diet and I just picked up my blood work results.

Without further ado, here are the numbers:

Current weight: 129 lbs
Total Cholesterol: 244
HDL Cholesterol: 71
LDL Cholesterol:  158
Triglycerides: 73

Other numbers I want to share include:

C-Reactive Protein: < 0.4
Vitamin D: 19

So, truth be told my first instinct was to look at my TOTAL CHOLESTEROL number and panic!  My total Cholesterol has never been above 220, so seeing that 244 number was a bit alarming.

However, if you buy in to the entire Primal lifestyle you need to accept that Cholesterol is not the enemy.  Rather, it is an essential metabolic nutrient and there is little to no relevance to heart disease risk. Cholesterol is only dangerous when oxidation and inflammation occur.

How do you know if you're suffering from chronic inflammation?  That's where the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) marker comes in to play.

The 'normal' reference range for CRP is < 0.5.  Anything above this would indicated systemic inflammation (this may include pregnancy) and if you're above 10 mg you likely have acute inflammation.

“Normal” CRP levels are supposedly 10 mg/L. You want to stay well below 1; you don’t want “normal.” Between 10-40 mg/L (and perhaps even 1-9 mg/L, too) indicates systemic inflammation (or pregnancy), while anything above that is associated with real acute stuff. Note that exercise can elevate CRP.

With a CRP of 0.4, I feel that I'm in a pretty good spot considering that I have an inflammatory condition in  Meneire's disease. 

As for the rest of my numbers:

Weight: I'm down 3 lbs in 10 days

HDL Cholesterol: Ideally, whether you're a man or a woman you want to strive for an HDL-C of > 50.  The higher this number, the better your cardiovascular health.

LDL Cholesterol: The reference range for LDL-C is < 130, so I have some work to do in this area.  LDL-C is almost entirely controlled by diet, so how this number changes over the next several weeks will be a clear indication of how my body is responding to the Primal diet.

Triglycerides: The reference range for Triglycerides is < 150, but anyone following a Primal or Paleo diet is likely well below 100.  Interestingly, I somewhat carb loaded going in to this 30-day test phase so go figure.  The lower the better when it comes to Triglycerides, so this will be another interesting metric to re-visit when I have my blood work re-done.

Vitamin D: My reason for sharing this number is to help make people aware that there is an alarmingly widespread epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.  The reference range for Vitamin D is 30 - 100.  With a marker of 19 I fall in the "insufficient" category (< 10 ng/mL is considered 'deficient').

As of today I'm beginning Vitamin D3 supplementation.

TO ANY OF MY READERS SUFFERING FROM A VESTIBULAR DISORDER, note that there is some indication that symptoms such as Hearing Loss, Tinnitus and Vertigo may be exacerbated by deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and calcium.

This is something that is certainly worth addressing with your physicians and I'll be curious to see how my Vitamin D levels impact my Meneire's symptoms.

I've received a few emails from folks asking me for diet specifics.  Sorry that I haven't been able to post much but work and the holiday's have kept me pretty busy.  I promise to start posting some daily Primal menus soon!

If anyone else has been following a Primal or Paleo diet, I'd love to hear from you to see how it is working for you!!


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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set ...

... GO!

Today, 9/11/2012 is the official start of my 30-day Primal diet.

In about 30 minutes I will be having a complete blood work-up done and will post results once they are back from the lab. My starting weight is: 132 lbs.

Obviously, it is also Patriot Day, designated in memory of the 2,977 killed in the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. Lest we never forget their sacrifice and those of our armed forces dedicated to defending our freedom, I cannot think of a better day to begin something anew.


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