Supine Groin an Emergency Self Defibrillation Technique

Several years ago, I developed a heart condition. The rhythm of my heart can get out of synch when applying pressure or compression to my chest. Bending over, lying on my side or even just tensing muscles surrounding my chest can trigger dysrhythmia. A medical label given to this condition is postural or positional cardio-myopathy or tachycardia. Some of the cells associated with triggering the electrical signals in the heart that are responsible for initiating heart muscle contractions for heart beats become sensitive to pressure and can dysfunction.

Heart arrhythmias are not all that uncommon in older endurance athletes where heart tissue has become damaged and scarred or the heart has become enlarged.

At its worst, I’ve experienced cardiac arrest where my heart essentially stops which quickly leads to loss of consciousness and if not corrected immediately – death. More common is Ventricular Tachycardia (extremely high heart rate) which can lead to fibrillation. This can also become life threatening but usually one retains consciousness longer giving one more of a chance to administer a defibrillation technique.

Long Term Standard of Care

The standard of care for this condition is either ablation or implantation of a pace maker defibrillator. Ablation first involves identifying the rouge cells or nodes in the heart responsible for the abnormal electrical signals. Once these areas are identified, the tissue is destroyed using cold or heat or cauterization. An implanted pace maker takes over the job of electrically triggering heart muscle contractions (heart beats). A defibrillator senses when the heart rate becomes to low, to high, out of synch or chaotic. It then electrically shocks the heart to restore normal rhythm.

Possible Self Defibrillation Techniques

So far, I have not taken the step of getting ablation treatment or an implanted defibrillator. Any invasive or surgical procedure has risks. Weighing the risks and rewards is important when making choices regarding any medical treatment. When experiencing a dysrhythmia or tachycardia, I’ve tried many suggested techniques of emergency self-defibrillation. These include: coughing, gargling, humming, splashing cold water on one’s face (mammalian dive response), pounding one’s chest and or applying pressure to the upper lip just below the nose and or other pressure points. None of these worked quickly or reliably. The theory on these as they increase vagal nerve tone and transition you from a sympathetic to para-sympathetic dominate nerve state calming the tachycardia.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon a technique that so far has worked fairly quickly (within a few minutes) and reliably.

Supine Groin to the Rescue

For me, getting into a supine groin position at the first onset of dysrhythmia has worked better than anything else. This involves lying down on one’s back, arms stretched out to the sides with palms up and legs elevated. Supine means lying down on your back. Groin implies hip flexion. Ideally you can do this on a slope where you can have your legs higher than your head. Raising your legs by resting them on a chair or large rock or something also works. If flat ground is all that is available, you can just raise your legs by bending your knees and hips. Once in this position, deeply relax by breathing slowly and calmly with the intent or visualization of being heavy and melting into the ground.

Supine Groin Position

Sensation of Defibrillation

The transition from dysrhythmia tachycardia to normal heart rate occurs abruptly as if a switch is thrown or a downshift in gears. There is almost a clunk sensation as my heart goes from fluttering with no detectable pulse down to a normal beat and pulse that I can feel. If I am wearing a heart rate monitor, the heart rate measurement will be maxed out (over 200) while in tachycardia and then will abruptly drop to below 100. My normal max hear rate is about 150.

Recent Episode Experience

Until recently, I’ve only experienced heart rhythm problems such as Ventricular Tachycardia in situations where I compressed my chest. A few examples are crawling under a sink to do plumbing, squeezing through a fence, pushing my side against a stuck door, tensing my chest when descending a steep rocky trail on a mountain bike. Unfortunately, I have experienced it recently when running doing sprint intervals. Changing pace quickly and tensing up with exertion has triggered it. And now most recently during a half marathon race.

The following image captures my heart rate and pace during an episode. In this case, it took about 1 minute stopping to lay down in the Supine Groin position to defibrillate. I was then able to continue on.

Stopping to Defib and Episode of V-Tach during Training Wearing Heart Rate Monitor

The next image is from the recent half marathon. It shows pace and elevation from GPS. I was not wearing a heart rate strap so the heart rate scale and value of 0 is meaningless. In this case, it took 2 minutes to defibrillate before being able to continue.

Stopping to Defib an Episode of V-Tach at 1st Mile of Half Marathon

The situation at the race start probably conspired to trigger an episode. The start of the race was delayed and it was cold. This led me to probably be tense and start too fast in a cold state shocking my nervous system before I had a chance to warm up. Thus triggering the arrhythmia tachycardia. When V-tach sets in, I experience it as a tightness in my jaw and the sides of my neck. Not unlike the common symptoms of a heart attack. In addition to this, my legs began to seize up from lack of blood flow forcing me to stop right at the 1 mile marker into the race. I did not have a heart rate monitor on, but I quickly realized what was happening and moved to the ditch at the side of the road and assumed the supine groin position. Within a couple minutes, my heart rate normalized and I got up and continued on. But not before many hundreds of people had passed me and one, yes just one, slowed down and asked if I was alright and needed help.

Going into the race, I had plans to shave another couple minutes off my 60+ age PR for a half marathon. So already this goal was out the window as I had chewed up 2 minutes just lying there. The goal now became: do the best I could, given the conditions. As it turned out, I did a respectful time and matched my previous 60+ PR and probably would have come close the 1 hour 25 minute goal if my heart behaved.

The goal of 1 hour 25 minutes has deeper meaning than just a PR as it is a perquisite for a 3 hour marathon. Using a rule of thumb for predicting one’s marathon time of doubling your half marathon time and adding 9 minutes; 1 hour 25 minutes or better is required to have a chance at breaking 3 hours in a marathon. 1 hour 25 minutes times 2 plus 9 minutes yields 2 hours 59 minutes.

If I can do a half in 1 hour 25 minutes, I will attempt to do a 3 hour marathon. This time, at age 65. Not unheard of at that age, but certainly not common and an ambitious goal.

Young People and Athletes having Heart Issues Happening More Frequently

Perhaps this Supine Groin technique of emergency self-defibrillation will help someone who suddenly finds themselves in a situation where they experience a heart arrhythmia or tachycardia. Or you can suggest it to someone who in your presence is having heart issues.

Lately, heart issues have become more common in healthy young people and athletes. It used to be very rare for healthy young people to have heart issues. The few that did usually had an underlying congenital heart abnormality. Why is this suddenly now happening? Well no one knows for sure, but the suspicions are that it is a side effect of the spike protein from the Corona Virus or from the mRNA vaccines that instruct one’s body to produce the spike protein. The spike protein attacks and damages the endothelial layer (lining) of blood vessels. It also damages blood cells causing blood clumping and clotting. Think of the spike protein as chemically active little shards of glass in your blood. As they get pumped through your blood vessels they wreak havoc.

Interestingly, people that have healthy blood vessels with a thin endothelium are the most prone to bad side effects from the mRNA vaccine where the generated spike protein is not attached to a viral body. People with a thicker endothelium (think calcified or plaque coated from arterial sclerosis) in older people are less prone to blood vessel damage from the vaccine. Older and unhealthy (obese, diabetic) people are more vulnerable to the Corona Virus and associated respiratory complications.

The vaccine manufactures know that a serious side effects of the mRNA vaccine for the young and healthy are blood clots, vascular damage and heart damage. To remedy this, they added the drug Tromethamine to the children’s version of the vaccine. Tromethamine lowers blood pH helping to stabilize the effects of a heart attack or heart damage.

Given that the spike protein associated with the Corona Virus and the mRNA vaccines will be with us for the foreseeable future, knowing an emergency defibrillation technique may come in handy.

Surprised YouTube has not censored the following video. It is an interview of an Elite Endurance athlete describing their heart problems as a result of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine. If you find yourself or a companion in a similar situation of a racing heart rate (Tachycardia) and are far from help, try the Supine Groin position to calm heart rate irregularities as you make your way to a hospital.

An Athlete Describing Their Heart Problems from the Pfizer mRNA Vaccine
Half Marathon Age PR Despite Stopping for 2 minutes to Defib an Episode of V-tach
Posted in Fun Stories, Race Guidance, Technique, Training Guidance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite – a Carbon Plate Trail Shoe?

A bit over a year ago I asked the question When Will There Be a Trail Version of the Nike Vaporfly?

When Will There be a Trail Version of the Nike Vaporfly? | Bridger Ridge Run (

There still isn’t a trail Vaporfly. And so far, the few carbon fiber plate race shoes designed specifically for the trail, are less than impressive. Fortunately, there is a carbon fiber plate road race shoe that works surprising well for trails.

The New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite is light, fast, stable, protective, comfy, cushy and offers good enough traction for most trail running situations. At the end of 2020, I did two trail races and lots of training runs with the Fuel Cell Elite. They were terrific and made running enjoyable.

New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite

Fuel Cell Elite Compared to Saucony Endorphin

Earlier in the year, before I got a pair of Fuel Cell Elites, I did a lot of trail running and one trail race in the Saucony Endorphin Speed. It worked okay as it was fast and protective with a nylon place (not carbon). It is 1 ounce heavier than the Fuel Cell Elites and not as grippy traction wise. The Endorphin Speed’s biggest drawback is that it is not near as stable as the Fuel Cell Elites. The Endorphin Speed is prone to rolling or twisting an ankle where the surface conditions are uneven. I also tried the Saucony Endorphin Pro that has a carbon plate as opposed to the Nylon plate in the Speed. The Pro is slightly lighter than the Speed, but the Pro did not work for me. They felt very hard. They lacked cushion compared to other ultra-cushioned plated race shoes. It may be they were just a bad pair from a production run where the foam was denser. Or perhaps they got over cooked in a shipping container sitting in the hot sun coming over from China. Or were stored improperly. Who knows, but the foam was very hard compared to the Endorphin Speed or the Fuel Cell Elite. So I returned the Endorphin Pros.

Fuel Cell Elite Size 10 7.44 Ounces
New Balance Fuel Cell RC Elite Size 10 7.44 Ounces

Stability Comes from Sole Shape

The stability of the Fuel Cell Elite comes from the lack of sole material on the inside (medial) side of the foot and the protrusion of the sole on the outside (lateral) side of the foot. This makes it much more difficult for the foot to roll to the outside (inversion). That is how most ankle twists or sprains occur. One steps on uneven terrain with the inside of the shoe tilting it to the outside. If there is less material on the inside, there is less leverage to tilt the foot. Likewise if there is more material to the outside, the shoe resists rolling to the outside. Some people have complained about the odd appearance and feel having the sole sticking out on the outside of the shoe.


It maybe odd, but it certainly makes the Fuel Cell Elite one of the most stable shoes on trails I have ever experienced.

Dynaride Outsole

The outsole consists of rubber nubs embedded in a hard thin plastic coating over the soft midsole. When first running in the shoes over rocks, the plastic coating will crack and crunch and some of the rubber nubs get pushed in a bit. It will even make a crunching sound. Think stepping on cornflakes. At first it was a bit worrisome, but they seem to be holding up. Small rocks can get trapped in between the rubber nubs. The grip the Dynaride Outsole offers is good for most trail conditions. The exception being mud where the little gaps between the nubs get filled in with dirt.

Dynaride Outsole, Rocks Trapped Between Rubber Nubs and Cracks in Plastic Coating

The portion of the sole that is not covered with the Dynaride outsole is soft and vulnerable to tearing on sharp rocks.

Tear in Soft Unprotected Outsole


Some shoes are certainly faster than others. Especially in this era of the carbon fiber plated ultra-cushioned super shoe. I have a 2 mile road loop near where I live that I use for all out time trials. It works well to compare my times on it when I run it all out in different shoes. My fastest shoes are the Nike Next% in which I can cover the 2 miles is just under 13 minutes (about 6:30 a mile). The Fuel Cell RC Elites are my second fastest shoes only a few seconds slower than the Nikes. A traditional trail shoe on this road loop feels slow and clunky. For example, I have time trialed this 2 mile loop in a pair of Hoka EVO Speedgoats. These are supposedly light trail racing shoes but an all out effort yields a time of around 15 minutes (about 7:30 a mile). That is a huge difference. Granted the Speedgoats are 2 ounces heavier than the Fuel Cell Elites and the Speedgoats lack a carbon plate. It does illustrate how much harder one has to work in a heavier more traditional shoe compared to a new technology carbon plated light weight race shoe.

Posted in Equipment, Shoe Reviews, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

How to Run a 1.5 Hour Half Marathon, a Just Enough Training Approach

Comments and questions on the how to run a 3 hour marathon post inspired this post on how to run a 1.5 hour half marathon. There is some interest in how to adapt the marathon plan for a half marathon. This post presents a minimalist half marathon training plan. It details a suggested approach to training for a particular half marathon goal. The end of the post details my experiences using it to prepare for my own personal goal of a 1.5 hour half marathon.


After a bit of thinking about how to change the marathon plan into a half marathon plan, my first crack at it was to just simply:

Cut all the Training Distances in Half


Cut the Duration of the Build up in Half from 14 Weeks Down to 7 Weeks

Seems logical. A half marathon is half the distance of a full, so just do half the distance in the training sessions. And spend half the amount of time preparing in the build up.

Cutting all the training distances in half yields three weekly dedicated sessions consisting of:

  • Long run of 10 miles starting easy and finishing with the last two miles at race pace
  • Tempo run at half marathon race pace not to exceed 6 miles including warm up
  • Intervals of Yasso-style 400 meter (quarter mile) repeats with 2:00 recovery

Adopt similar rules as the Full Marathon plan:

  • Only Three Days of Dedicated Training per Week
  • No Back to Back Training Days
  • Other than Changes in Duration, The Training Sessions Remain the Same throughout the 7 Weeks

As long as they are spaced out, what days of the week you dedicate to the training sessions is not that important. Typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday works well. The order of the training sessions is not critical. From experience, the order that works best for me is Long Run, Tempo Run, Interval Session.

Long Run

The long run consists of a slow easy run of about 8 miles followed by 2 miles at goal half marathon pace for a total of 10 miles. The session is the same throughout the 7 week progression.

Tempo Run

The tempo run consists of a 1 mile warm up followed by 2 to 5 miles at goal half marathon pace. The amount of miles run at goal half marathon pace builds for 5 weeks then back off for the last 2 weeks as follows:

Week     Half Marathon Pace Distance

  • 1             2
  • 2            3
  • 3            4
  • 4            5
  • 5            5
  • 6           4
  • 7           2

Interval Session

The Yasso-style 400 meter (quarter mile) repeats are done at a time derived from your goal half marathon time. Take your half marathon goal time in hours and minutes and express it as minutes and seconds. For example, if your half marathon goal is 1:30:00 (one and a half hours), your 400 meter interval time becomes 1:30 (one and a half minutes). The rest or recovery interval between each 400 meter interval is 2:00 (two minutes) at a very slow run or a quick walk pace. Remember to do a sufficient 1 to 2 mile easy run warm up before you jump into the fast running intervals.

The build up and taper through the 7 weeks would be:

Week     Number of Repeats

  • 1      2
  • 2     4
  • 3     6
  • 4     8
  • 5     10
  • 6     8
  • 7     2


There are two requirements that need to be in place before attempting to attain the particular half marathon goal of 1.5 hours.

  • Be able to run a 5K in 20 minutes
  • Have a history of running 3 hours a week or more for the last year

Fueling and Hydration

If you are healthy, there is no need to fuel during a half marathon. Unless the race is held under high heat conditions there is also no need to drink during a half marathon. Exception might be if you are of large size and taking much longer than 1.5 hours. For most people, the training sessions and the race is short enough that you can just ignore fueling and hydrating. This makes the training for and racing a half marathon much simpler than a marathon.

What Limits Half Marathon Speed – The Theory

Your half marathon performance is limited by your aerobic threshold. A half marathon is typically run right at your aerobic threshold. That is the speed at which metabolic waste first begins to accumulate in the blood and tissues at a rate greater than your body can buffer and process it. At speeds faster than aerobic threshold, muscle failure from the accumulated waste (acidosis) will eventually slow you down to the point where your body can recover and begin to clear the waste. So if you want to improve your half marathon speed, you need to improve your aerobic threshold. Tempo runs at half marathon speed are an effective way to boost aerobic threshold. So are the short intervals at faster than goal half marathon pace.

For comparison, a full marathon is typically run just under aerobic threshold speed. In theory, you should be able to hold this speed until you run out of energy (stored glycogen). Energy depletion typically occurs between mile 18 and 20. Unless you are fueling, this exhaustion of stored glycogen will force you to slow way down (hitting the wall).

Besides energy depletion, the length of the marathon also introduces other factors that limit performance and complicate marathon training and racing. These include dehydration, over heating, neurotransmitter depletion and accumulated tissue damage to the muscles and tendons.

In the later stages of the marathon, damage to the tendons limits their elasticity forcing the muscles to work harder to go the same speed. Muscle damage limits the number of working muscle fibers left to do the work thus limiting strength and spring. The feeling of this tissue damage is stiff painful legs. Runners call this feeling dead legs, log legs, zombie legs. At this point, the muscles are prone to seizing up, cramping and tearing. The training to make your legs less prone to tissue damage consists of strength training (weight training) and eccentric loading of the muscles from downhill running.

Fortunately, the half marathon is short enough that energy depletion, dehydration, over heating, neurotransmitter depletion and tissue damage rarely occur are usually not limiting factors to performance.

My Experience

It has been over 10 years since I successfully employed the minimalist marathon training plan to run a marathon in under 3 hours. Since then, I have gotten older and slower. I turn 63 in 2020. I’ve also sustained a major injury to my left leg in a freak accident that has permanently deformed and weakened my leg. This injury has noticeably compromised my strength, coordination and ability to run fast. Realistically, a 3 hour marathon is probably out of my reach at this point in life. Carrying out the training required, even using a minimalist approach, leads me to injury.

A 3 hour marathon for a 60 plus year old man is a very respectable accomplishment. Not rare, but not all that common. When you get up to 70 years old, I think only two 70 plus year old men have ever done it. For women, I think only one women in their 60’s has run a 3 hour marathon. Famed former elite marathoner Joan Benoit Samuelson has set a 3 hour marathon as a goal and has come close. She has commented that at 60+ years old it is difficult to do the training required without getting injured.

Joan Benoit Samuelson 3:04 Boston Marathon 2019

Joan Benoit Samuelson 3:04 Boston Marathon 2019

Since I probably will never be able to do a sub 3 hour marathon again, I thought I would adjust my goal to do a half marathon at sub 3 hour marathon pace – a 1.5 hour half marathon. My last 1.5 hour half marathon was 8 years ago, but maybe, just maybe, I could do a half marathon in 1.5 hours one more time before old age shuts the door on that possibility.

Even though I haven’t been able to quite attain the prerequisite 20 minute 5K time outlined above, some recent 10K and half marathon times gave me hope. My speed curve is rather flat – my pace does not drop off that much as the distance goes up. With age, this seems to be the case. Performance at shorter distances deteriorates with age more than it does at longer distances.

So I began this half marathon training plan the end of November 2019 with the goal of running a sub 1:30:00 half marathon at the Saint George Utah Half Marathon on January 18, 2020. Given my lack of ability to run fast, this was not going to be easy. I would essentially have to hold my recent 5K race pace for an additional 10 miles without stopping.

As I began the 7 week training block, I was not able to do more than a couple miles at my goal half marathon race pace. As the weeks went by, I eventually built up to 5 miles at race pace for my tempo session. My 2 mile time at the end of the 10 mile long run dropped from 14 minutes down to 13 minutes by week 5. Things were moving in the right direction. The Yasso 400 intervals were a challenge for me. Given my compromised ability to run fast, they felt as though I was sprinting full tilt. As the weeks progressed, they did get a bit easier.

Race Day Strategy

The initial plan for the race was to start with the 1:35 pace group for the first mile, keep the 1:30 pace group in sight, reigning them in by half way and then hanging on till the finish. The Saint George Half Marathon has pace groups. I took full advantage of them.

As the race started, the 1:35 pace group felt a little sluggish and I found myself not far behind the 1:30 pace group by the 1 mile marker. There was a tightly bundled pack of about 20 runners running with the 1:30 pacer so I joined in and just hung with them for the first 7 miles.

If you have never run a road race with pace groups, I recommend it. There is a lot of synergy and camaraderie between a pack of runners all running the same speed with the same ultimate goal. There is little talk among the pack as most people in the group are working hard at the edge of their ability. Just the sound of breathing and feet hitting the pavement in a quick rhythm.

The Saint George Half Marathon is a challenging course. It starts along the Virgin River then climbs 300 feet in the first half as it twists and turns up through the Bloomington Hills. It is a loop course where the first half climbs and the second half descends back to the start finish area along the river. The 1:30 pacer kept the pace very steady regardless if going up or down hill. After reaching the high point at about mile 7, I took advantage of the downhill and passed the 1:30 pacer. At this point, the pack surrounding the pacer began to fracture and spread out. Some runners pulled ahead taking advantage downhill. Others fell off the back of the pack yielding to fatigue. Through miles 8 and 9, I felt confident that I would be able to hang on to finish near or below 1:30:00. Each mile split was hit between 6:45 and 6:55. Perfect. Then I hit mile 10 and it was a 7:55 for a total of time of 1:09:20. My 1 minute cushion that I had built up the first 9 miles was gone. It meant I would have to run the next 3.1 miles (5K) close to 20 minutes. Granted my legs were feeling a bit stiff, but I did not think I had slowed that much during the 10th mile. My reaction was to panic and try to pick up the pace as best as I could. Those last 3 miles were grueling. The effort paid off. The finish line finally greeted me with a time of 1:29 and change.

Saint George Half Marathon Start 2020

Saint George Half Marathon Start 2020

Choose an Accurate Course and Train to Undershoot your Goal Time

A lesson to learn is train to under shoot your goal time and have a time cushion. Unexpected things happen. The half marathon does not require stops at aid stations to drink or eat. Loosing time drinking and eating is not a factor. But courses change and inaccuracies pop up in unexpected ways.

Another half marathon I ran last summer was a point to point. The bus driver taking runners to the start was also the official starter. The driver had to drive a short ways (.25 miles) past the official start line to park and unload the runners from the bus. He decided to start the race right there where he parked instead of walking back to the official start line. The course was certified and well marked. Every mile split accurately marked and placed. But the actual course became inaccurate (long) because a race official was to lazy to walk down to the official start line and herd all the runners down to the start line and organize them there. This person even joked about it saying runners got even more for their entry fee. Most runners would not agree.

In the case of the Saint George Half Marathon there was a course change involving routing runners around a parking lot instead of right through it as in years past. Not sure if it was marked wrong or was forced on the race organizers to avoid congestion in the parking lot. Neither am I sure if the added distance was shaved off somewhere else to keep the distance accurate. Or perhaps some of the mile markers around this extra loop were not placed accurately. All I know is that suddenly my mile split time slowed from a consistent 6:50 ish to 7:55 for the mile that included the extra loop around the parking lot.

Even the huge Arizona Rock n Roll Half Marathon recently had a course marking mistake that cost some runners an Olympic Marathon Trials qualification.

Mistakes happen. Sometimes course volunteers that are out on the course are not familiar with the actual course and will send runners in the wrong direction. Remember, many volunteers and race officials are not runners and do not have the same mind set towards course accuracy as someone running to achieve a particular goal time. So if you really care about your time and don’t want to make any race day course routing and accuracy mistakes, study and know the course ahead of time. Choose an event that has a reputation for excellence and accuracy.

Posted in Fun Stories, My Training, Race Guidance, Training Guidance | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

When Will There be a Trail Version of the Nike Vaporfly?

2019 was the first full year the Nike Vaporfly became widely available to the public. The year of the Vaporfly. The proliferation of new records and fast times set by runners wearing Vaporflys make it clear that the Vaporfly helps most runners run faster. Will 2020 bring us a Trail Version of the Vaporfly?

There are several theories as to why Vaporflys make running easier:

  • A high stack height increases stride length by increasing effective length of lower leg.
  • A lightweight resilient midsole foam helps in energy return.
  • A stiff carbon plate acts like a spring also improving energy return.
  • The layering of foam with a stiff plate reduces the vibration that causes fatigue.

Exactly why the Vaporflys work so well is up to conjecture.  Any and all the aforementioned theories may be contributory. There have been shoes in the past that had stiff plates that were unremarkable. And there have been shoes with high stack height that offered no speed advantage. If you can believe a recent study that compared the performance of dozens of different shoes, a popular thick soled shoe the Hoka Bondi was actually the slowest of all shoes tested. Of course the Vaporfly was the fastest. Interesting that the slowest, the Bondi, and the fastest, the Vaporfly, have a similar high stack height.

As I have stated before, I think Nike stumbled upon a great combination of resilient foam and a stiff plate. Somehow it just works.

Will 2020 see the Vaporfly technology banned as the Puma brush shoe was banned back in the late 1960’s? Or will 2020 see a trail version of the Vaporfly? A Nike Vaporfly Trail% if you will?

The existing Vaporfly already has a carbon plate that protects a runner’s foot from sharp rocks – a nice feature for a trail running shoe. Unfortunately, the current Vaporfly Next% does not have a grippy outsole required for wet or slippery trail conditions. It also is a bit unstable with a high stack height and narrow foot print. A recipe for ankle twisting. For smooth dry trials without any sharp turns, the existing Vaporfly would be OK. Any courses with uneven terrain would require one to wear ankle braces to avoid rolling and ankle.

So what would a trail version of the Vaporfly look like?

Imagine this. Take the existing Next% and leave the upper unchanged but add a full length grippy cleated rubber outsole. Lower the stack height a bit without losing much of the magic cushioning and widen the footprint for stability. It wouldn’t take much to create a supper fast comfy trail version of the Vaporfly. It is already light, fast and protective with the full length carbon plate. It just needs some enhancement to traction and stability.

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next% on the Trail

Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next% on the Trail

Experience Running some Rocky Trails in Vaporfly 4%

Recently I tried running in a pair of the Vaporfly 4% out in the rocky desert. Given my concerns about twisting an ankle in them, I used them with ankle braces. The combination worked pretty well, but is not recommended.

Nike Vaporfly 4% with Ankle Braces

Nike Vaporfly 4% with Ankle Braces

The stiff carbon plate offered terrific protection from all the sharp volcanic rocks on the trail. But that stiffness made them feel a bit clunky as the shoe gets torqued and pushed around by any irregularities on the trail.

The ZoomX (Pebax) foam midsole make the shoe light and cushy, but it also makes them very fragile.  You may want to think twice before taking a pair of Vaporflys out on a rocky trail. The ZoomX foam is prone to tearing from encounters with sharp rocks on the trail. Depending upon just how rocky a trail is and how sharp the rocks are, trail running could quickly ruin what is an expensive pair of running shoes.

Nike Vaporfly ZoomX Pebax Foam Tears on Sharp Rocks

Nike Vaporfly ZoomX Pebax Foam Tears on Sharp Rocks

Posted in Equipment, Shoe Reviews | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Training Log Prior to 2019 Bridger Ridge Run

Here is my training log from beginning of June through race day. Typical week is about 15 to 30 miles of running. Some weeks included some mountain biking of 15 miles or so.

2019 Training Log

2019 Training Log

2019 Goal: Small Town Montana Race Tour

For the summer of 2019, I was focused on doing lots of races all over the state of Montana. They were either races I had never had the chance to do before or hadn’t done in several decades. During June and July, I raced somewhere in the state of Montana nearly every weekend. I did 3 5Ks 4 10Ks and 2 Half Marathons.

Racing oneself into shape is usually not such a good idea.

Peak performance was not so much a goal as just seeing and experiencing different parts of the state. From Libby to For Peck to Hot Springs to Ennis to Fort Benton to Philipsburg to Geraldine I was blessed to see so much of the state. And during a pastoral summer widely regarded as having the best weather conditions in decades.

Fort Peck Dam - Longest Dam Run Course

Fort Peck Dam – Longest Dam Run Course

The Ridge Run was was another chance to run in a magnificent part of the state; capping off one of the most memorable summers I have had in Montana since a was a teenager the mid 1970’s!

Geraldine Half Marathon Course

Geraldine Half Marathon Course

Health Issues Limit Training

My training lacks the mileage necessary to fully develop one’s running potential. It is not what I would recommend to anyone preparing for the Ridge Run. Unfortunately, I can no longer train and run as much as I would like or as much as needed for best performance. There are two health issues that now prevent me from higher mileage training. The first is a heart condition and the second is chronic problems with my feet.

Heart Condition

From numerous broken ribs and blows to the chest over the years, my chest cavity is compromised. Pressing on or compressing my chest triggers a heart electrical signal malfunction that has caused me cardiac arrest or ventricular fibrillation. Both potential fatal situations. Even just the simple act of bending over to tie a shoe if done abruptly and unconsciously can lead to disaster for me. I can no longer sleep on my left side. A possible label for this condition is Postural or Positional Cardiomyopathy. Standard of care is implanting a pace maker/defibrillator. Instead, I have self treated my condition by taking some common nutrients, avoiding situations that compress my chest and backing off on the long duration training if my resting heart rate drops below 50 beats per minute. A slow resting heart rate indicates the heart is enlarging. An enlarged heart does not have to beat as fast to pump the same amount of blood. Yes, it is also a popular indicator of improved fitness.

The heart adapts quickly to increased training lode. It also adapts (de-adapts) quickly when decreasing training. The heart adapts to logging high mileage at or below the aerobic threshold by enlarging with chamber wall thickening. Similar to a body builder maximizing muscle growth (hypertrophy) by high volume (high rep, low weight) weight training. Already squeezed in my busted up chest, when my heart enlarges from training, my heart condition worsens. Unlike most runners, I do not want to enlarge my heart.

Fortunately for me:

The size or fitness of the heart is rarely the limiting factor in endurance activities.

Limits to Performance

Glycogen depletion and muscle tissue damage in the legs is what limits performance in long duration (longer than one hour) endurance running events.

So instead of focusing my training on improving aerobic fitness, I focus on improving durability by doing downhill running and improving leg muscle fitness by doing tailored high quality short duration training sessions. So for the sake of my heart, I avoid long training sessions.

Smart Fueling to Maximize Endurance

Proper fueling with not just carbohydrates but essential amino acids and oils is critical in helping the body sustain long duration efforts without tissue damage and flagging energy levels.

Bad Feet

My feet have been a weak-point for me my entire life. It is probably from growing up wearing cowboy and work boots instead of running around barefoot as a child. And then spending lots of time with my feet bound up in Alpine ski boots. From experience, I know spending much more than a couple hours on my feet at stretch leads to foot problems. So for the sake of my feet, I avoid long training sessions.

Ridge Run Training

For 2019, my key Ridge Run training sessions were 3 separate runs in the Bridgers. First was going up Sacajawea and repeating the last section from the pass to the summit. The other two Bridger sessions were going up Baldy. Each of these workouts left my quads quite sore for days afterward. A bit troubling and indicative of under training. The last Baldy training day was 12 days before the race. Other workouts were described here. It is interesting to look back and think that in years past, I have done 3 runs in the Bridgers each week for many weeks in a row, not just 3 for the whole summer!

Compared to previous years, my training was much less focused on training on the course. The biggest compromise to race performance this year was the downhill running sections. My splits between Sacajawea and Ross Pass and the Split from Baldy to the Finish were each about 10 minutes slower than recent past performances. Some slowing is probably from having a permanently damaged left quadriceps. Lack of confidence on the technical terrain is another reason for slowing on these normally fast downhill sections. That confidence is only built from experience training on that terrain. With age, I also get more cautious. Over the years, I have taken numerous falls while doing the Ridge Run or while training on the course. The memories of these falls and the resulting injuries, some serious and permanent, are deep and certainly contribute to a more cautious slower pace on the downhill rocky sections. Remember:

Uphill speed is governed by fitness, downhill speed is governed by fearlessness (or foolishness).

2019 Injuries

I did incur a couple foot injuries over the summer. First was from fast downhill running on a treadmill. A nerve in my foot got irritated. Very painful. Similar to a neuroma. Backing off running and focusing on uphill power hiking saw this issue improve in about a week. The second was an ankle injury from a yoga session. This injury is still bugging me.

Posted in My Training, Race Guidance, Training Guidance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

2019 Ridge Run Recap and Race Fueling Details

2019 brought much more typical conditions compared to last year’s challenges of being the hottest day of the year combined with smoke.

The 2019 Ridge Run greeted runners with mild temperatures, clear skies and calm winds. The day before the race, there had been some rain so there were some damp and slightly greasy sections on the first part of the course before the day waxed and the sun had a chance dry things thoroughly.

The most excitement was on the women’s side as two runners became the second and third women ever to finish under 4 hours. They were quite impressive as they both broke the women’s course record previously held by world class trail and ultra distance runner Nikki Kimball. Results are here.

The women’s race was close and the final outcome came down to some differences in route choices in the final minutes of the race. A similar drama played out in 2012. At this point in the history of the race, there is very little opportunity to make different route choices. But there still are multiple routes down from the top of the M down to finish line in the final portion of the race. The routes differ in distance, steepness and footing. Runners that have the luxury of training on the course get their personal preferences dialed in well before race day.

2019 First Woman

2019 First Woman


2019 Second Woman

2019 Second Woman

Personal Experiences

Given last years disaster for me with cramping issues, I had my trepidations going into this year. So when my right calf muscle started to clench up when slogging the steep climbs between Ross Pass and Bridger Bowl it felt like deja vu all over again. Instead of freaking out and thinking oh no not this again. This year, I squeezed a couple drops of peppermint essential oil stored in a tiny plastic dropper bottle into my mouth and it did the trick. Along with focusing on keeping my calves relaxed by either side stepping or duck walking up the steeps, I experienced no more problems. Last year, I chewed on fresh ginger and that did not work. What is the ultimate cause of cramps and what works to mitigate them, is still a bit of a mystery. Just in case, I also brought along a tiny zip lock bag of powdered ginger this year, but never used it.

Cramp Busters

Race Fueling Details

After decades of doing multi hour trail events similar to and longer than the Ridge Run, I have had the chance to experiment with many different fueling strategies and products. In case anyone is interested, here is what I consumed during the 2019 Ridge Run. It is a snapshot of what of what works for me at this point in time and represents the culmination of a lot of trial and error and years of experience.

I started the race with the following:

  • 1 24oz water bottle premixed with 200 calories of Tail Wind.
  • 1 Small Flask containing 400 calories of Tail Wind powder.
  • 2 Packages of Clif Bloks
  • 4 Tiny Zip Lock Bags Each Containing 1 Capsule Each of: Carnosine, Citruline, Choline, Esential Aminos, ECap, MCT Oil. One of the Zip Lock Bags in addition to the above also contained B Vitamin, HMB and coQ10.

Vest and Fuel

Race Supplements Every Hour


Race Supplements Once Mid Race

At each major aid station (Ross Pass, Bridger Bowl, Baldy) I refilled my 24oz bottle with water. At the first two aid stations, Ross Pass and Bridger Bowl I emptied half the contents of my flask containing the Tail Wind powder into the water bottle. This is a tricky process as it requires the cooperation of the aid station volunteers to fill the bottle half way, add the Tail Wind powder and then finish filling the bottle with water. This year went smoothly, but previous years have seen some messes from overfilling, spills and the such. Yes, there was Tail Wind on the course, but I would rather know exactly what I am getting and at what concentration it is mixed at than leaving it to chance and the whims of whomever mixed it. At the last aid station, I had no more Tail Wind so just filled my bottle with water.

Total calories of Tail Wind consumed during the race was 600. Total water consumption was 96oz.

During the race, I would occasionally grab a Clif Blok and suck on that till it dissolved. During the race, I finished off a little more than 1 pack. 7 individual Bloks for a total of 233 calories. At the end of the race, I had 5 individual Bloks left over, uneaten.

The little zip lock bags of amino acids and supplements amount to about 20 calories each for a total of 80 calories.

Opening up the zip lock bags removing the capsules and swallowing them is a bit tricky. Especially when having hands occupied by poles and a water bottle to wash them down. Eating them when walking slow up a hill works best. The first pack got consumed climbing up to Sacajawea. Second pack with the extra B vitamins climbing up out of Ross Pass. Third pack right before Bridger Bowl and the fourth pack on a climb somewhere after Saddle Peak but before Baldy.

These various amino acids and supplements don’t amount to much in the way of calories, but they help keep neurotransmitter levels up and mitigate tissue damage. This wards off the sense of fatigue and pain (mental, emotional and physical). They keep my mood up and make the race feel fun instead of a grind.

Total Calories Consumed: 913

Given my finish time, this is approximately 200 Calories per hour which is the sweet spot between not enough and bonking versus too much and stomach upset.

A very minimalist lightweight vest with several front pockets makes grabbing fuel and essential odds and ends very quick and easy. I modified this one with a second sternum strap to keep it from flopping around when running.

2019 Bridger Ridge Run

2019 Bridger Ridge Run

A waist belt that carries a 24oz bottle in a horizontal has always worked well for me being comfortable and stable.

Waist Best and Water Bottle

Waist Best and Water Bottle

Posted in Equipment, Race Guidance, Results | Tagged | 4 Comments

Nike Zoom Pegasus 35 Turbo Review

This spring and summer I have been running in the Nike Pegasus Turbo. Available for a couple years already, that makes me a bit late to the party. So what inspired me buy a pair and give them a try? It was a drop in price. The price of certain styles (Nike calls them Color Ways) has come down to an almost reasonable price: $100.00 versus the original $180.00.

Nike Pegasus Turbo

My first experience with the Nike Pegasus was 30+ years ago. In the succeeding years, Nike has always offered some version of the Pegasus as a staple. From what I can remember, this current model fits and feels similar to those I used decades ago. The Pegasus has always been a traditional training shoe with a lot of cushion under the heel and not so much under the ball of the foot. The Turbo version is certainly lighter and has a springier feel most likely due to the new Zoom X foam. A men’s size 10 without the insoles weighs 7.8 ounces.

Nike Pegasus Turbo 7.8 Oz

The upper and profile still has that Pegasus look and feel. They even have a tendency to cause my second toe nail to get bruised just like first generations. Most other shoes don’t cause this. It must have something to do with the volume of the toe box which is generous. So it is not from being to small (short), but probably from being to roomy vertically and my toe slapping around inside. The shoes have a fairly thick mid sole under the heel promoting heel striking and foot slapping aggravating this tendency to bruise my second toe. Perhaps downsizing a half of size would be warranted.

Over the last month and a half, I have raced two 5Ks four 10Ks and two half marathons all in the Pegasus Turbo. The lightness and liveliness of the turbo make them fun to run in and give them a sense of speed. The lack of an aggressive out-sole and lack of much protection under the ball of the foot makes them most suitable to smooth roads or trails.

Nike Pegasus Turbo Sole

One of the half marathons I did was on a gravel road and doing a bit of per-race reconnaissance I realized that the Turbos did not give enough protection from some of the sharp rocks composing the road surface. My solution was to add an improvised rock plate to the insole under the ball of foot. This is where the turbo offers the least amount of cushioning. The added rock plate is just some thin plastic cut from a yogurt container. It worked well. My feet held up surprisingly well running a hard 13 miles on rough gravel.

Insole with Added Rock Plate

An ensuing training run on a rainy day on muddy trails exposed the Turbos lack of traction on slippery surfaces. These shoes are not intended for trail running in wet conditions.

The Ginger Runner Reviews are Informative and Entertaining. Here is the Ginger Runner Review of the Pegasus Turbo:


For those of you that liked the soft cushy foam of the original Hoka Clifton, but are disappointed with current crop of Hoka shoes that utilize a much stiffer harder foam, give the Turbo Peg a try.

Caveat Regarding Nike Haters:
Given Nike’s recent actions and their sponsorship of athletes that have taken anti-American actions, I realize that many consumers consider Nike anti-American and will not buy their products. You are free to make that choice. Nike is also criticized for being evil by exploiting cheap foreign labor and work camps that are the modern replacement for slavery. Realize that Nike is an international corporation whose purpose is to make money by selling a product or service that people want. They are an entity, neither good or evil, that adapts to thrive in the current tax environment and consumer culture. The free trade situation that eliminates import tariff and duty taxes replacing them with income taxes makes it more cost effective to utilize foreign sources for labor and materials. The current grievance oriented culture that looks up to individuals that busy themselves searching for reasons to be offended by America’s past and traditions represents a large market that Nike does not want to alienate.

Posted in Equipment, Shoe Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment