Sof Sole Running Select Sock Review

I managed to score a couple pairs of these socks at the Expo for the Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon. I was nervous about fit because I am a size 12 shoe wearer, but use a size 13 running shoe. They were kind enough to let me open a pair and try them on the spot. They fit great, so I bought two packages of 2 pairs each.

I was a little worried and restrained myself from buying more. Because sometimes socks fit well   fit well at the store and then give me problems on the run.

I wore them on a 10K training run and they felt great. I didn’t want to drive down to the convention to get some more, but I really liked the socks and the price, so I got my buddy to pick up three more packs. He got two of his own on the recommendation as well.

As a Swiftwick customer, I found these socks to be comparable or even superior at a bargain price. They are less than half the price of Swiftwick.

They have a very comfortable form-fit that is snug around the arch of the foot without being too tight. The top of the socks have a very breathable mesh and stay very cool. And I like the slightly extended top that helps protect the achilles tendon from rubbing, not to mention prevents the sock from getting pulled down into the shoe.

The socks worked out so well, that I raced in them the next day for the half marathon. The race was a disaster, but the socks worked out great.

They come in multiple colors and are available at https://sofsole.com/product/running_select.

Crawl, Walk, Run

I was listening to the Diz Runs With podcast Episode 16 with Sarah Doughtry, and she was explaining how she started running.

Like myself, Sarah lost quite a lot of weight and was still heavy when she started to run. Since it was extremely tough for her, she started out by “running to the choruses.”

 

What a great strategy! I did something similar when I started. But I didn’t have it broken down so specifically.

I was listening to a really great song and felt to energized to only walk, so I ran a bit, walked again and then ran some more.

Over time, my walk intervals became shorter than my run intervals and eventually I dropped them. I did make it a point to continue with a good half mile or more walking at the end of runs to cool down though. That allowed me to more effectively recover.

It is very dangerous to go out, run hard and then just sit down. When you are just starting out, your body has to adjust. Running is a very intense, high impact activity. If you don’t condition yourself, you are headed for injury. And I have had a few.

In the army, they teach the principle of crawl, walk, run. You don’t become an expert overnight.

By using a method like Sarah’s running on the choruses, someone new can build up safely.

One of the keys to being a successful runner is to stay injury-free. If you hurt yourself, you won’t be able to improve. You will be stuck and never improve. Build up gradually, be safe and you will be more likely to enjoy running pain free.

Once you have built yourself up to running full time in a workout, please check out my post Training with Purpose to help extend your gains.

Stickers, magnets and finisher medals… Hell yeah!

There are those who think we are jerks for displaying 13.1, 26.2 or another distance on our cars. Actually, some may call us worse. I’d like to address that.

I understand from where some of the venom originates. Some people may feel that we are arrogant and displaying how tough or strong we are. Worse still, we are rubbing their faces in it. This is not the case. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

As I have written on this blog and spoken about in podcast interviews, I lost quite a lot of weight. This was not an easy journey and it took a great deal of time and effort. After I lost enough that I wasn’t in agony, I discovered that I didn’t actually hate running and grew to like it. And I started to enter races.

At first, I was prudent and entered 5Ks. I did all that I could fit in and I was doing well at them. I figured that it took me a while to work up to them and that I had found my distance and peaked. That would be about as far as I would ever run. I wasn’t superhuman and would not be doing anything truly crazy like a marathon, or even a half marathon.

But I kept seeing these 13.1 and 26.2 stickers all over the place. I honestly didn’t know what they represented at first. I think I finally figured it out when I saw them in a parking lot to a race — I’m a slow learner sometimes.

Anyway, like many things, after you first notice something and realize what it is, you start to see more instances everywhere you look. In my case, that was the grocery store, on the roads, and at races — I don’t get out much. But when I saw the people getting in and out the cars, I realized that they looked normal. This planted a seed I think.

As I kept racing, I was unable to find a 5K in the middle of the summer, so I entered an 8K figuring 5K-5 miles was an increase, but I could probably do it. I started to run a bit more to cover the needed distance in training. After I successfully finished the race, I felt confident that I could do as much as a 10K.

It didn’t take long before one day when I was out doing my long run, I decided to take it as far as I could. I would see if I could get to 11 or more miles. In the back of my head, I wondered if I could reach the amazing 13.1 distance but only promised myself 11 miles.

I ran the full distance and was elated. I couldn’t believe that I could actually run that far. It was an astounding breakthrough and I signed up for a half marathon with a course that literally crosses in front of my house. This same half marathon I watched the year before — amazed that so many people were able to do it. At the time, I had only been running for a little while and was just working my way up to run a 5K distance without stopping.

The week before this half marathon, I injured my foot by using a shovel with Crocs in the garden and my heel was frozen. It hurt to walk. Let alone run. At the race expo, there was a sports chiropractor who was doing free tapings using Rock Tape. He wrapped my foot and ankle up the best I could and I raced the next day.

It was the most painful thing that I have ever done. After the first 5K mark, I was running in front of my house and tried to fake it for my wife. She took video with the phone. While I thought I was a super stoic actor, my issues were obvious.

By mile 4, I had no idea what I was going to do. I started to play my mind games. I needed to run at least 10K before I started to walk. When I hit 10K, I decided to try to get another mile. Then, just get to 10 mile. Then, I had to just get through another 5K.

When I crossed the finish line, I even found a kick. I wanted this one so bad. But it took everything I had. I limped into the building where they were giving free massages. I talked the student into just working on my foot and it was just enough to allow me to limp across the parking lot to my car.

When I arrived at my car, what was the first thing that I did? I took the wet paper towel that I had collected from the bathroom and cleaned an area on the back of my car. I then affixed the magnet from my race bag. It was that important to me. I still display it proudly.

Onward and upward

After my incredible painful experience at the half, I thought long and hard. Rather than being a reasonable person, I figured that if I could survive that race injured, I could maybe survive a marathon healthy. So, I bit the bullet and signed up for the Shamrock Marathon.

Five months, 2 more half marathons, a 10 miler, a 14 K, a 10K, and some 5Ks later, I ran my first marathon successfully.

What did I do before I left the hotel parking lot to drive home? Yep, I affixed a new magnet to accompany the one I had from the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon.

They are called Finisher medals

Another pet peeve I have is people mocking medals from a race unless they are awards. While for some shorter distance races, I would agree that they may not be necessary, they are invaluable for half and full marathons.

Some people have a habit of calling them participation medals, like those that many children are getting now by just showing up to events.

Sorry, these are not participation medals, they are finisher medals. You do not receive one unless you cross the finish line and complete a race. That is an achievement. Anyone who completes a half marathon or marathon has accomplished a sizable amount of work and training to get there. Having the medal is something that we can look at to remind us of our capability when times get tough. We have a physical object that we can hold and feel. We did it! We will do it again!

Training with Purpose

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result – Unknown

I have been corresponding with a couple of runners lately.  They have been suffering either with injury, or a combination of frustration and burnout. They were wondering what could be the cause. Running just wasn’t very fun lately.

When glancing at their history, I noticed that all their paces were the same. Even worse, the paces were remarkably close to their latest race times. That sent up alarm bells. There was no variance in training. This was likely the problem.

Sure enough, as I looked at the history, a pattern emerged. They would run at a particular pace and it would decline over a few days. Then they would be off, the pace would get a little better and the process would repeat. Overall, their pace was staying the same or getting worse. They were at a plateau.

This is very common, especially with very new runners. When I started running, I worked my way up to a 5K distance and then raced the distance every day adding a little bit more each time. I didn’t know how to run slow.

My only experience was in the military and I thought back to Army Physical Fitness Tests. I ran these tests as hard as I could to pass with the required time. My method – start out running hard, and hold on for dear life. Of course the splits were ridiculously positive with a drop off of several minutes.

In fairness, the army didn’t outright teach me improper running, I just selectively remembered the APFT. That was the only time I ran on my own while in the service. In actuality, we ran a lot. But it was longer, slower and in formation. That of course made it slow for the fastest runners and brutal for the slowest. I wouldn’t recommend doing it the same way now. We also mixed in different types of runs that I learned years later were speed work. The most common were fartleks and last man up (Indian) runs.

The most important factor in training is variety, or at least to not run fast all the time. There are times where you may run slow consistently — base-building and recovering from injury — but you should never run consistently at a high intensity. That is begging for injury or burnout, whichever comes first.

Each run should have a purpose. They should be essentially one of four types, endurance, speed, strength, or recovery.

Endurance is typically served with the long run and tempo runs (tempos cross over to strength as well). Strength has a heavy focus on hills. Speed typically involves intervals and fartleks. The article 3 Key Workouts Runners Should Do Every Week shows a nice balance of the quality workout types to run.

The quality runs tend to get a lot of focus, but often recovery runs are neglected. Some think of them as filler, or junk miles. When run correctly, they not only are not junk but actually an integral part of training. Matt Fitzgerald has written a great article, Workout Of The Week: Recovery Run, that explores them.

When you are training and find yourself in a rut, you may want to consider a nice varied routine. The one I fall back on is 4 days a week. I will do this for a month or two to help reset my motor and start building endurance and strength or as a maintenance routine if I am between training cycles. It was originally influenced by the Lydiard Foundation and the site running-wizard.com.

For simplicity sake, I like run on the Ts and Ss as in Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I like to run my tempo and long back to back so I can run long on slightly fatigued legs. This helps me develop fatigue resistance for later miles in races.

My schedule is as follows:

Tuesday: Recovery – Run in High Z1 – Low Z2 if using Heart Rates or 50-70% of 5K Pace. Distance of 1/3 Long Run

Wednesday: Cross-train – I will either ride my bike or use an elliptical trainer

Thursday: Easy – Run in Z2 or 50-75% 5K Pace. 50-70% of Long Run distance.

Saturday: Tempo – Run in Z2 for 10-20 minute warm-up. Run 30-60 minutes in Z3. Run 10-20 minutes Z2 cool down.

Sunday: Long Run. Run in Z2 or 50-75% 5K Pace.

 

Jeff Gaudette of Runners Connect has written an excellent piece that will help you determine your easy paces and offers a calculator in his article How Do Easy Runs Help You Race Faster (and what exactly your easy pace should be). Another great calculator for figuring out training times can be found at http://www.mcmillanrunning.com.

By running with variety and keeping the intensity down, you can prevent injury and maintain a healthy and fun lifestyle. Running doesn’t have to always hurt. To quote the legendary coach Arthur Lydiard, “Train, don’t strain.”

Gain running time by prepping food

I was just interviewed for an upcoming episode of Tips of the Scale — a really inspirational podcast about people who have lost copious amounts of weight and seized control of their lives. One of the topics we discussed were food choices and how to fit in food preparation with otherwise busy lifestyles. I shared one of the tricks that my wife came up with. This has helped us immensely for eating food that is both delicious and healthy.

One of the most important things we do is buy in bulk and prep several meals at once. I will use chicken as a example because it makes up the majority of our pre-prepped meals. I buy a flat or two of boneless, skinless thighs from our big box store (BJs in my case).

Notice that I did say thighs. The principles can be used for breasts as well, but I prefer thighs. Chicken breasts dry out very easily on the grill and are harder to work with. Thighs on the other hand are juicier and can withstand grilling much better. Also, the calorie count etc is not that different between them especially with the skin removed. The article The Nutrition of Chicken Breasts Vs. Thighs explains some of this. They often are less expensive as well.

After I bring the chicken thighs home, we divide up the chicken into heavy duty resealable freezer bags. My wife Leslie will have several sauces and marinades prepared. She mixes the chicken with the marinade in the freezer bag and makes sure that it will lie flat and any extra air is released. We then stack the bags in the freezer. Clean-up is very easy because it is all being done at one time and a lot of the mixing can be done in the bags.

When we want to have a meal, we pull the bag out the night before and place it in a plastic container in case it leaks. Trust me on this. I have cleaned the refrigerator a half dozen times now. Freezer bags don’t always hold up perfectly.

After the chicken thaws over the day, I will grill it for dinner and it is delicious.

The magic of the process is in the freezing and unfreezing. When we get the chicken, it is not frozen, so it can absorb the marinade. While it is freezing, it is doing just that. Then when it is thawing again, it is absorbing more. But since there is a freezing and thawing involved, it is not becoming over saturated. This gives a nice balanced texture and flavor.

By cooking the chicken on the grill, the fire is also burning off any excess marinade and sauce and helping keep the calories down while sealing in the flavor. And the chicken only takes 10-15 minutes to cook, so it’s very convenient. Add a salad and we have a nice healthy dinner.

Here are some of the recipes that we use for our meal prep:

White Barbecue Sauce (Southern Living AUGUST 2005)
Yield: Makes 2 cups
Prep time:5 Minutes
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Preparation
Whisk together all ingredients until blended. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 week.  Prepare all in a large bowl, (reserve some for dipping) add 9-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, toss & place in freezer bag.  Thaw & grill.

Lemon and Rosemary Marinade Chicken

  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano, optional
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme, optional
  • 1/4 cup of olive or salad oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 chicken thighs

Slice lemons, place in ziploc bag, and squeeze out some of the juice. Throw in the remaining ingredients. Mix together well. Add the chicken and mix well. Marinate for at least 4 hours.  Freeze.  Excellent grilled.

Leslie’s take on Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce Recipe

  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard (drop to 1/4 & add spicy brown & smoked mustards)
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Hungarian Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (optional) – Leslie hates black pepper, but if you are a fan add it
  • (Added 4 drops liquid smoke and some low sodium soy sauce)

Great for prepping chicken thighs, freezing, & grilling.

Coco-Thai Chicken (My Favorite)

1 can Coco Lopez or other sweet coconut drink base

Thai seasoning blend (to taste) recipe below*

Place both items in large bowl, mix thoroughly.  Add boneless, skinless chicken thighs; stir to coat.  Bag, freeze, thaw, & grill.  Awesome!

*Homemade Thai Seasoning Blend Recipe

This spice blend can be used to impart Thai flavor to meat and seafood, or veggies or grains. You can also use it as a dry rub. To make an easy Thai marinade, toss a generous scoop of this seasoning mixture into creamy coconut milk.
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tbsp dried cumin
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground dried hot Thai chilies, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp dried lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp dried lime zest
  • 2 tbsp  garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dried ginger
  • 2 tbsp dried mint
  • 2 tbsp toasted unsweetened coconut, ground

Instructions: Combine all ingredients with a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Store in an airtight jar. (The little spice jars with rubber gasket seals keep herbs fresh longer than jars with screw-on tops.)

Other non-chicken recipes

Here are some other recipes that we enjoy using the same prepping ahead principle and the grill.

This first recipe is one that tastes better over time. It is like chili and tastes better over time as the flavors meld.

Green Chile Hominy Casserole with Chorizo

  • 2 poblano chiles or 1 can of green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

  • 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from casing and crumbled (frozen & chopped)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 15-ounce cans of hominy, drained
  • 8 ounces low fat sour cream & half Greek yogurt blended in equal parts
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (smoked cheddar, cubed)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method: Roast the poblano chiles under the broiler or on grill until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chile steam for 20 minutes. Take the chile out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove stem and seeds and cut dice chiles. Preheat the oven to 350. On medium-low heat, heat the vegetable oil and then cook the crumbled chorizo while occasionally stirring in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet until brown, about 8-10 minutes. With a slotted spatula, remove the chorizo and drain any excess grease from the skillet, leaving 1 teaspoon. Add to the skillet the diced onions and jalapeños while occasionally stirring, cook on medium-low heat until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the diced poblano chile, chorizo, hominy, sour cream greek yogurt blend, lime juice and half of the cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined, taste and add salt and black pepper and adjust seasonings. Top with remaining the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Yield: 4-6 servings

Stout Marinated Steak Tips  (Leslie & Eric’s Favorite)

Recipe courtesy Chef Wolf, Lobster Shanty, Salem, MA

Cook Time: 5 min Serves:  10 to 12 servings

Trim silver skin and icky fatty parts from your flap meat and cut them into 3 or 4-ounce chunks, or whatever size you like. Put them into a container with a tight fitting lid; don’t forget to leave extra space for the marinade.  (Put marinade in bowl, add meat, divide into freezer bags; any left over marinade is good with chicken, but best with beef. Make sure your bags don’t leak, this can create a very sticky mess!)

In a large bowl whisk together the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, molasses, brown sugar, pepper, pepper flakes, and garlic. Add the stout- careful, it will foam a bit. There is really no need to add salt; the soy and Worcestershire are plenty salty.

Pour the marinade over the tips and gently stir to coat evenly, if you don’t use all the marinade it will keep for 2 weeks, refrigerated in an airtight container. Refrigerate the meat for 8 hours or overnight. (Will keep, refrigerated for 4 or 5 days) and then cook as desired.

Greek Lamb Burgers (6 servings) – (Cooking Light)

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 pound lean ground lamb
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey breast
  • Optional: add cooked & well squeezed & chopped spinach to mixture.

Form into patties and grill.  Serve open faced on pitas and drizzle with feta/yogurt sauce.

Sauce:  Greek yogurt, feta, squeeze lemon juice, green onion, oregano, garlic salt.

3 (6-inch) whole wheat pitas, cut in half

Amount per serving – burgers only  (Cooking Light)

Calories: 275

Calories from fat: 34%

Fat: 10.3g

Saturated fat: 4.4g

Monounsaturated fat: 3.6g

Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8g

Protein: 25.9g

Carbohydrate: 19.1g

Fiber: 0.8g

Cholesterol: 62mg

Iron: 1.9mg

Sodium: 576mg

Calcium: 78mg

Shepherdess’s Pie

mashed sweet potatoes over browned ground turkey, onion, carrot, spinach, & seasoning.  May want to tweak this with cinnamon and curry, adobo seasoning, evaporated milk, 2 wedges of laughing cow veggie cheese, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup wine, dash celery seed, salt.  Bake in 13×9 pan, cool, cut into pieces & freeze.  Nuke on high 3.5 min or so.

 

There are many possible options available when prepping food ahead of time. Definitely explore and experiment. You may come up with your own creations to share with me.