a vegan couple: eating; running; living–minimally.

Tag: Scott Jurek

Rethinking what “running” means

Instead of being the ultimate priority, running to me became just another skill in the toolbox for getting to the top of a mountain quickly.  If the terrain dictated that I could only use it on the gradual approach, or once I’d achieved a high ridge, or maybe only on the descent, then that was fine.

-Tony Krupicka (TK)

Once you turn to the trails and the mountains you learn that the idea of what it means to be a “runner” shifts and changes. Trail running can often involve lots of walking/hiking/scrambling/climbing. One needs to be aware of the terrain and what is needed at that particular moment. The trail may not be offering you the opportunity to run—you might need to power-hike or walk or hand-0ver-feet scramble some boulders. Does this make you any less of a “trail runner”? I don’t think so. I think that that moniker, which we slap on ourselves, is a multi-faceted phrase that means different things at different times. I love the quote from TK because it captures, so poignantly, what is great about running trails. (Of course, he is talking about mountains…but potato potawto.)

One of my goals for this year is to focus on improving my climbing and descending—really thrashing my quads and calves to improve my ability to take on hills (and possibly mountains). That is why TK is so fascinating (and inspiring) to watch. He has such a love for the mountains; he exudes this kind of joy for being out there. It is a simplistic joy that draws its strength from a minimal, unadorned experience. The environment might be some of the gnarliest terrain around—but he just makes himself a part of it, molding himself into the kind of runner than move forward up the mountain. This simple joy was picked up by none other than Scott Jurek in his book Eat and Run:

We had trails and the fresh air and a little water and food and our fit bodies to move through and with the land. That was all we needed. Seeing Kyle and Tony so happy reminded me that that was all I ever needed, all any of us needed.

I love trail racing—there is no denying the fun, camaraderie, and the rush of pushing yourself against others. But I also love just being out on the trails. I want that love to continue for as long as I live. Like Gordy Ainsleigh, I want to be doing this for many  years to come. I want to just be out there. Trail running doesn’t have to be fast; it doesn’t even have to be running at all. All it has to be is a connection with the trail, with nature, with your surroundings, with yourself. All it has to be is that act that takes you places, and if that means hiking or scrambling or walking then embrace what “running” has become for you.

I have been waiting to post this for a while now–not sure why—but it makes perfect sense because I was subconsciously waiting for Ultimate Direction to come out with this: a feature film that looks at TK’s “running” through the Rocky Mountains. THIS I am excited about. Check out the link to the trailer below to see what I mean. If this doesn’t inspire and motivate you then I do not know what will!

For a first-person view of TK running the mountains, check out this video with him and Kilian Jornet (!) running in the Grand Tetons

3 Products I Want to Test

I was talking with my brother the other night about living minimally and trying to withstand the continual pull to buy-buy-buy. Katie and I live as minimally as possible, purchasing only when we need it and trying to live as un-extravagantly as we can…

…that being said, I still suffer from “the runner’s condition.” That is, I love new running gear. I might not buy it; in fact I probably won’t. But I love to think about how cool it would be to try it. So, these are just three of the things that I want to try:

1. Altra Superior

While Altra is a relatively new shoe company, they did amazingly well with their first trail shoe: the Lone Peak. I love this shoe. The new shoe, the Superior, is a bit more stripped down compared with the rugged nature of the Lone Peaks. The Superiors have a removable rock plate that allows you to customize the shoe depending on the terrain. They are also lighter than the Lone Peaks. Finally, they have a dramatically different lug system on the bottom of the shoe: certain lugs are meant to help with ascending and and others help with descending.

Superior Weight: I have seen 8.9 oz. w/ the rock plate (maybe even 7.9 oz.; still pretty minimal)

Lone Peak Weight: 9.9 oz. (though i have also seen 10.9 oz.)

Superior Stack Height: 12mm

Lone Peak Stack Height: 17mm

Why I want to try this: I love running in my Vibrams; and I love running in my Merrell Gloves. BUT, I also love running on gnarly, rocky terrain with ascents and descents. I love plowing down hills and that puts a real strain on my feet—especially over distance. The Lone Peaks are amazing, and I will continue to champion their resourcefulness; yet, they can be a bit boxy and cumbersome when moving at faster pace (since I am use to much more minimal footwear). So while I will keep the Vibrams and the Trail Gloves, having a lighter zero-drop cushioned option will allow me to keep me feet protected when I want to run fast but with protection.

You can get the Superior at Altra’s website or at Runningwarehouse.

2. Ultimate Direction Signature Series Running Vest

There will be a few vests in this series, but I think that I want to try the TK (Tony Kurpicka) version. This will be the most minimal of the vests: it sounds like it will weigh in under 10 oz. and will include the two 20 oz. water bottles. Pockets on the back sides, elastic drawstrings to hold extra gear, and a place to stow a bladder (or coat) if desired.

Why I want to try this: I run with an old EMS hydration pack with a Camel Pak water bladder (it is actually Katie’s but she has gracefully let me use it). It is bulky, doesn’t have much capacity, and doesn’t breath well. I have wanted a hydration vest for a while now, and the prospect of carrying bottles (I do love handhelds) as well as having them up front really intrigues me. It will allow ease for water filling at aid stations or on long solo runs (I can buy a filter for longer training runs on the Long Trail) and give me the option to run with a bladder if need be. I like running as minimally (and inexpensively) as possible, plus I ain’t going to be going on any 50 mile runs through the wilderness anytime soon.

The Signature Series vests aren’t out yet, but you can follow the progress on Ultimate Direction’s blog. The word is that the Jurek will be out in November 2012 ($125), and the TK in January 2013 ($90).

3. Salomon Sense Hydro S-Lab 8 oz. Handheld 

This handheld was developed in conjunction with Kilian Jornet, who field tested it during the 2011 Western States 100 (which he won). He doesn’t like to run with handhelds so, he and Salomon developed this soft flask/glove combo. The handheld comes with two 8 oz. flasks (left and right) but will fit both a 5 oz. and (supposedly) a 17 oz. flask. The glove is supposed to be very comfortable, with breathable mesh and a terry cloth backing for wiping sweat.

Why I want to try this: I run with an Amphipod handheld, which is very comfortable and which I really enjoy. Sometimes, however, I don’t want to carry 20 oz. of water. Plus, during races I don’t always like getting water at aid stations (for a number of reasons), and often (espeically during “shorter” races) I wish I had a smaller capacity handheld that could allow me to carry just enough water to get through. The Hydro S-Lab seems like a real possibility, and one that sounds “hand comfortable.”

You can get the 8 oz flask here ($40) and individual 5 oz flasks here ($15). No word on when the 17 oz. flask will be available.

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