Tag: inknburn

Bryant Grove Trail – Review

Bryant Grove Trail – Review

The Mad Cows were on the mooooove yesterday!  Say what?  My local running group is the Mad Cow Running Company (MCRC), located in Murfreesboro, TN.  For some strange reason, we like each other enough to crawl out of bed on a frosty Saturday morning to hit the trails.  We have a really great and dedicated group of folks so it isn’t uncommon for some of the herd to drive for an hour (or more) to find our next great trail running adventure.

Being in Tennessee, we have access to so many wonderful trails, it seems like I should start sharing the details with everyone else.  As such, I will try to share information about the trails we encounter when the herd is on the move.  Yesterday, MCRC went for a fun run on the Bryant Grove Trail.

Here the basics of the trail:

Location:  The trail is located in Long Hunter State Park (2910 Hobson Pike, Hermitage, TN 37076) – go in the main entrance of the park, make your first left, and the trail head is on the right hand side of the parking lot near the play ground.  There are number of other great trails in Long Hunter State Park, including a beautiful 2 mile paved loop around the lake, but we’ll focus on the Bryant Grove Trail for the purposes of this post.

Length:  The trail is 4 miles out and 4 miles back for a total distance of 8 miles.  The trail does NOT loop.

What else? The park opens at 8 am (sometimes earlier in the summer) and closes at sunset.  No pets allowed on this trail or in the Couchville Lake Recreation area.  There are bathrooms at both ends of the trail.  The trail is clearly marked with white blazes and mile markers.  And if you really like the trail, there is a 9 mile race there in August, sponsored by the Nashville Striders, called the Wild Thang 9 miler.

In my mind, this is one of the best trails for new trail runners.  The trail has minimal elevation gain (approximately 200 ft) over the course of the trail, so that runners can focus on the run.  Most of the folks I have talked to about becoming trail runners report that their biggest fear is tripping and twisting and ankle or falling and getting really hurt.  This is always a risk, but this trail is not super technical so it allows runners to get their trail legs.  In fact, yesterday I ran this trail as my first trail run after spraining my ankle at a trail race in mid-December.

I like this trail because it gives me an opportunity to run fast due to large open stretches without a lot of obstacles.  And let’s face it, the best part of trail running is the adrenaline high of zipping through the woods.  There are a few more technical spots that allow you to test out “quick feet”.  With short stretches of rocks and roots coming in clusters, some quick feet are needed to keep moving without tripping.  This is a good place to practice the skill.  If you are new to trails and want to get better at quick feet and improve ankle stability, I highly recommend jump roping.

If you come from the Couchville Lake Recreational Area side, you will pass by beautiful views of the water on your right during the first mile.  There is a mixture of cedar tree groves and single track trail but also plenty of parts of the trail where you can run two folks across.  The deer in the area are without fear and it isn’t uncommon for them to walk out onto the trail to investigate the people.  If you are lucky, and get up early on a cold day, you may also see some frost flowers like the herd found yesterday.

In short, this trail offers a lot of opportunities for new and veteran runners. For those dabbling in trail running, the trail allows runners the chance to practice basic trail running skills of quick feet and the ever important, picking up of your feet (so you don’t trip) without having to worry about hills, poor trail markings, or an overgrown trail.  As for veteran runners, it is a great place to practice raw trail speed.

Feed the Beast – part III

Feed the Beast – part III

In the last segment of our blog on nutrition, I will provide some details on how to fuel on the run and some possible alternatives to the normal “carb-covered carbs” that are traditionally used by runners on the go.

Okay, let’s talk turkey . . . well not really but you know what I mean.  The two main issues related to fueling on the run are when do I need to consume calories and how often?  In terms of when, if you come to the race/run with a full tank of muscle glycogen from carb loading (see Feed the Beast – part II) you should be good for at least 45 minutes – hour before starting your fueling regime.  Once the “bewitching hour” for nutrition intake hits, be consistent.  Runners can absorb 200-240 calories per hour, depending on their size and stomach happiness.  For some folks, this is a lot of calories to ingest while running.

In the middle of a run, it can be hard to remember to eat/drink that much so set a timer on your watch or make a mental note to “check in” on nutrition every time you pass a mile marker.  Do not assume that you only need to eat or drink when you see an aid station.  Particularly for longer races on challenging trails.  Just because there is an aid station every 4 miles, doesn’t mean you will travel four miles at the same pace each time.  On some trails, where boulder hopping was the activity of the day, it took me almost 90 minutes to move between aid stations only 4 miles apart.

Unless you have a stomach of steel, it may be easier to try and consume smaller amounts of calories every 15 minutes to get the magic 200-240 calories in an hour.  Another strategy is to mix solid food with liquid calories.  During a marathon you might consume Gatorade or some sports drink every few minutes and then down a Gu with water at an aid station.  Always take gels and chews with several ounces of water to prevent a “gut bomb”.  For even longer events like 50 or 100 miles, you may eat half a PB & J sandwich with a cup of Ginger Ale or a Coke to be sure to get your calories.

When you run ultra-distances, you start to think of nutrition in a different way.  Most of the experts report that carbohydrates are the way to go for your “in run” fueling needs.  But is their a place for other fueling options . . . say protein?  The answers continue to be divided.  In general, the faster you go, the more carbohydrates you use and the less protein and fat that is broken down for fuel.  Breaking down carbs seems to be the body’s general preference to get nutrition to the muscles faster.  But if you are not planning to break the 2 hour marathon record or running 30, 50, 100, or more miles, is protein a good option on the run?  The science currently says that supplementing carbohydrate drinks or gels with protein (in a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein) MAY result in some increased performance, but this is a big MAY as some studies have shown no increase in performance.  Protein has also sometimes been linked to stomach issues.

So the bottom line is, mid-run fueling with protein might be helpful for some runners but it should be taken with caution on a run.  Test out adding protein to your “in-run” nutrition for shorter workouts and build up the amount of protein to see what your body will tolerate.  Here is a list of some possible “on the go” protein options to use during a run:

  • Justin’s Nut Butter – comes in easy to use individual serving packets (just like a Gu)
  • Beef or Turkey jerky – you can buy these in bite size pieces but they can be tough to chew on the run
  • Huma Chia Energy gel – still has the carbs and electrolytes but also gives a boost of protein in the form of chia seeds
  • PureSport – a liquid option for folks wanting lower carb, lower calorie, but with added protein
  • Accerlerade – higher protein drinks and gels
  • Bacon – I’m not even kidding about this one.  Precook some bacon to get it extra crispy and throw it in a bag for a quick snack on the go.
Dem’ Britches

Dem’ Britches

Being part of the ultra-running community means that we log a lot of miles. Which also means we do a ridiculous amount of laundry and go through a ton of shoes and clothes every year. On the plus side, this means we have an opportunity to put a product through its paces and form a list of products we like and dislike. We will post regular gear reviews of everything from shoes to hydration packs and underwear to headlamps in the hope that someone will find a product they can use without wasting time or money on things that do not meet their needs.

First up on the gear review is the InknBurn 6″ shorts. As an InknBurn Ambassador I will occasionally review the best in class products that I have used but will also try to keep the reviews balanced as I understand that every company who wishes to excel must continue to innovate and develop. So here I go with our first gear review.

As of summer 2017 InknBurn has produced 5 different designs for their 6″ shorts (Mejiro pictured in the attached photo).  Visit their website for the availabilities of the different styles.  The shorts are made of a synthetic blend of fabric that is stretchy, soft, and moisture wicking (mostly, see below).  The shorts come with standard features of two front pockets on the thigh, drawstring to adjust fit, triangle crotch, and super sick bold patterns.  Now let’s talk details:

Fit – most folks can do two sizes of these shorts.  I wear a 4 in their standard shorts but can do a 4 or 6 in the 6″ shorts.  Both sizes work for me.  The big difference in fit for me is in the waist.  Sometimes on super long runs I hate feeling any pressure on my waist so I size up.  There was also some concern on the forums that if you went with a smaller size, the shorts would be “see through” and there would be “wash out” of the pattern.  This is true of all my running tights and a fair critique of this product.  For me personally, I always wear a solid color “boy short” cut of underwear or compression shorts (if it is cold) under these shorts.  I know triathletes will also wear these with their bike shorts underneath.  For me, this was not a deal breaker.  The bigger concern was if the shorts would ride up during use on my “soccer girl” quads.  I was pleased to find that regardless of the size, the shorts stay in place and do not require readjustment on the run.

Features and Care – the shorts are fairly low maintenance.  I wash in normal or “sports” detergent, no bleach or fabric softeners.  Personally, I line dry my InknBurn gear because they dry fast and I don’t have to go on a “treasure hunt” in the dryer to find my clothes for the next run.  I wash these shorts with my normal laundry but am sure to remove any Velcro products from the load (e.g. my husband’s running hats).  The Velcro will catch on the fabric.  The pockets in the front are spacious and will hold your average smart phone, gels, or a key.  My only critique is that I wish they could add a zipper pocket in the back of the waist band.  My single greatest fear as a trail runner, besides getting lost, is running a ton of miles on the trail and staggering back to my car only to find I lost the keys in the woods.  So let’s hope they add a security pocket for the paranoid among us.

Overall review – 4.5 out of 5 stars.  The shorts are fairly close to being perfect for me.  I wore a couple of these shorts during the Jackal Marathons, 5 marathons in 5 days, during the heat of June in Tennessee.  I never had problems with the shorts in terms of needing to readjust, no chaffing, and they looked sick.  Some of the designs look like jean shorts and I always laugh when people think I’m crazy enough to run in jean shorts until they get close to see the actual material.  I get a lot of compliments.  The only thing I didn’t like and I am not sure I could have solved the problem with any of my other gear, is that at some point when the humidity is 95% and you are sweating something fierce, the shorts get saturated beyond their ability to wick moisture.  Then you are stuck just being soaked . . . everywhere.  The shorts do become a bit more noticeable to me with the added water weight but still not a deal breaker.  So my plea to InknBurn and any other running short manufacturer is to find the magic material that can withstand the heat and humidity of the South.

Cheers to the runners

Cheers to the runners

Whenever you begin a new journey (or run) there must always be a first.  A first step.  A first introduction.  A first foray out into the unknown.  This year has led to many firsts for my husband and I.  We have run our first multi-day event (the Jackals Marathons – 5 marathons in 5 days), this will be our first year as official Marathon coaches for our local running store, this is my first year as a manager, and my first year as an InknBurn brand ambassador.  And more pertinent to this moment, a first blog post.

My husband and I have shared many wonderful and daunting moments in the 6 years we have been married and through it all, our old friend “running” has kept us moving forward and connected.  We hope to use this blog to share some of the comedy and crazy that comes when you have two ultra-runners sharing the journey together and how sharing thousands of miles  and bearing witness to the other’s life on our journey has led to a connection beyond any  we could have imagined.  So on this, our inaugural blog post, we propose a toast:  “Cheers to the runners, a community like no other.  You have given us far more than we could have thought possible and have taken us to places both physical and mental that we did not know existed.  Bring on the miles and the smiles as we begin another foray into the unknown.  Cheers!” Continue reading “Cheers to the runners”