The $32 Running Shoe

    Posted on 21 November 2015 | No Comments »

    Children always amaze me with the most intriguing questions.  Recently, I was speaking to a group of 600 6th-8thgraders about setting goals and like all presentations, the most valuable time of the talk is during Q&A.   There were many great questions including, what brand of running shoes do I use.

    I mentioned a few brands that I regularly use, Hoka, Newton, Adidas and it triggered some thoughts with regards to cost vs. benefits of the shoes.    We all have our own preferences of shoes based on the race distance, training, trails, fit, comfort, running style, price, etc.    Running shoe trends continue to go back and forth, and as we all know, this industry is based on marketing and branding.    Gel, Air, minimalist, extra cushioning, we have seen it everything imaginable over the last 40 years.   When the perfect shoe comes along for individual preference, what happens?  The running shoe companies change the style, model and sizing many times is not the same! This is my biggest gripe with Hoka.  How much did you spend on running shoes this year!


    Recently, when competing in the DECA Ironman in Mexico, a competitor and good friend from Switzerland had some interesting running shoes that looked very cool and clearly different.  They had no brand name but bright colors and appeared to be lightweight.   After some conversation, I found out the running shoes were from Aldi – the very large grocery store chain based in Europe and now throughout the US.     The most interesting thing was the price, approximately $32!   Keep in mind; he was doing a Quintuple Ironman (1 Ironman a day for 5 days) and 5 marathons in a row.  He mentioned how great the shoes are and best part was the incredibly low price.

    The challenge is to get these in the U.S. to test them out.    If you have a wide foot -, high arch, the Aldi shoes might fit well.  All of the reviews mention that they run a bit large – no ½ sizes.

    If you have used the Aldi running shoes, please email me and where to purchase them in the US.

    DECA Ironman GRIT – Race reflections of 2015 Leon DECA

    Posted on 13 November 2015 | No Comments »

    I am not a fan of lengthy race reports outlining every aspect of an individual’s race.  The real value of race reports is to follow a story, learn about the specific race and hopefully some laughs and learning lessons.

    The DECA (1 Ironman per day x 10 days format this year) as many of you know is my favorite and preferred race in the ultra distance endurance-racing scene.   I remember back in 2008 when a good friend mentioned the race to me and started “selling” me on the attraction of the event, why he competes in it almost every year and the magnetism of this special race.   Personally, I would never of thought 7 years later that I would finish my 4th DECA.


    This years DECA was in Leon, Mexico and hosted by our great friend Beto Villa who is an experienced DECA athlete.    The DECA started in Mexico and there is a special vibe of Mexico – the food, great people, nice race layout and of course almost always, exceptional weather.    The ongoing saying with so many athletes is “It never rains in Mexico” and no one would of expected the surprise in Leon this year with a hurricane!   The course would consist of 8 loops on the swim, 25 loops on the bike and 21 loops on the run – this is a typical DECA course and no car traffic and held within the park.

    The race started like every DECA, nervous energy as the athletes headed to the reservoir for the beginning of the swim.  Tristan (an athlete) played a nice tribute (Mexico national anthem) on the trumpet to kick-start the event.    As normal, everyone races a bit fast on day, are all happy and normally and not a lot of suffering this day.

    As day 2 began, there were some discussions about potential bad weather arriving in a few days because of the remnants of a hurricane.   Thank goodness most athletes were sore and a bit groggy on day 2 as it’s one of the toughest days in the 1 x10 DECA and the hurricane discussion was quickly dismissed.

    As the race rolled on, all the uncertainty and nervous energy dissipates quickly.   The crews, volunteers and athletes become one family unit with the goal of moving through the day of swimming, biking and running.   A highlight every day for the athletes was waiting to hear what Beto’s remarkable wife Marta and the rest of the volunteers would cook for the day and night.  A variety of food choices is crucial in a long event like the DECA and there was no shortage of food with unique tastes and flavors!    A highlight for every athlete was the 2:00PM pizza.   I remembering riding  loop after loop and waiting for the call from the crews “Pizza is here”.

    Over the years, many have asked me which is harder – the continuous DECA or the 1 per day DECA.    I will start with one important piece of advice if you want to finish the DECA – develop GRIT.   I am sure you all know that already, but either format requires a mentality of “grinding”.    There is an incredible amount of suffering and plenty of times when you will feel so bad that stopping creeps into the mind.   In my opinion the 1 x10 is the harder of the two formats.    Many of the reasons include, it’s a daily race and it’s pushing the pace, all three disciplines are required every day and trust me putting on the wetsuit every morning and jumping into cold water is a mental drain.  Lastly, only 10 days is allowed (24 hours per day per Ironman – sounds easy right?!) vs. the continuous DECA allows normally 14 days.   Sleep deprivation believe it or not can become a bigger factor in the 1 x 10 format if you get sick, injured and just have a bad day.  Over the years, I have seen 9-10 hour Ironman athletes struggling time and again in the 1 x10 format and doing the DECA shuffle which is significantly slower than a typical marathon shuffle.

    Going back to the race, the hurricane did eventually arrive to Leon and yes it made it very difficult for all the athletes.    Driving rain and wind made the bike and run unpleasant to say the least but the storm continued to motor through quickly and there was hope that after 2 days it would be out of the area.   This is where GRIT comes back into the equation for this race and the mindset was to just get through the two bad days and the weather would be significantly better.   Of course it’s easier to say it vs. actually suffering through the misery.    There is no question, this was some of the worst weather I have experienced in a DECA and the shame was many great athletes dropped out after the first day of the bad weather.   It’s always sad in the morning when the number of athletes getting ready for the swim starts dwindling down.   This was the case after the storm and there were 6 athletes remaining in the DECA.

    After the storm, the typical great weather of Mexico returned and we were all back in synch with the daily grinding of the event.   The DECA creates such a bond with the athletes that stay in the race as everyone just suffers together racing every day and it’s not too hard to get to know every aspect of an individual’s personality for 10 days!    The crews, volunteers and athletes all working together is amazing and the best way to understand it is to see it live.   It’s like no other race around, especially if the athlete can get through to day 7, which is always the critical day.   In most cases, if you get through day 7, then you will finish.

    Some amazing performances as always, starting with our champion Deca Dave Clamp.   Dave is such a veteran and class guy who knows every aspect of this race and the uniqueness of the bond of DECA finishers.    Dave was superb day in and day out but even Dave had struggles and used his GRIT to overcome some bad times.   Dave’s encouragement and “bantering” to keep athletes in the race is what we love so much about this great guy.    This was Dave’s 5th DECA finish.

    Tristan Vincent followed Dave and just had an amazing year – 25 Ironman’s during the racing season and completed every IUTA race except one.   Tristan and Eva his super crew were such a pleasure to be around every day.  We all will never forget the memories of Tristan powering the bike with the sound of the disk wheel and in German yelling to brightly colored fashion of Eva for the various items he needed during the bike and run.    Superbly consistent every day was the common trait for Tristan.    This year was Tristan’s second DECA finish.

    Next up was Francis touJouse with a great performance again for his 3rd DECA finish in the last three years and this is clearly his favorite race.   I met Francis in Italy several years ago while I was competing in the Triple DECA and he was doing his first DECA.   Francis always focused, fun guy and he used his experience every day to be very consistent with his daily race times.   Of course Francis is always a highlight at the finish line and awards parties and always includes plenty of laughs.    Our Bordeaux Man!

    I was next in line at the finish and overall was very happy with my race and can’t wait for the next DECA!

    Jesus Amaya Prado (Chuy) finished his first DECA and at the age of 30 had a remarkable race.  Chuy grinded every single day and pushed through some injuries later into the race.  Chuy had DECA Shin (this is where the sheathing over the shin bone swells and incredibly painful to even stand on.   It happens but with Kinesiotape and a full compression sock the pain can be reduced slightly.)   Chuy’s mentality every single day was exceptional and there was no chance at all in his mind that he would not finish.   For a young guy this was race is an “experienced” based event.   Chuy’s determination every day and great mentality is what got him to the finish line.   I had the privilege to coach this great guy and was so proud watching him finish on day 10.   I know Chuy will be back again for another DECA.

    The final finisher, Goulwenn Tristant defined the word GRIT.    Similar to Tristant, Goulwenn raced 6 IUTA races (Double and Triple Iron’s) throughout the year leading up to the DECA.   Goulwenn is a young guy like Chuy and was so great to see him make it to the finish line.   Suffering is an understatement of the daily race for Goulwenn, but he had a strategy and plan that developed throughout the race.  It was a great learning lesson, just make it to the swim the next day no matter what – and even if you have an 18 or 20 hour day.   Goulwenn planned some sleep time after the swim during the bike section and/or prior to the marathon run.   I will never forget seeing Goulwenn sleeping in the grass in the nice Mexico sun!   Watching Goulwenn day after day was inspiring to every single athlete.   After the hurricane when Goulwenn was at the swim start, I absolutely knew there was now way he would not finish!   Incredible effort!


    So another DECA in the books and the race was exceptional.   To all the amazing crews, volunteers and our special friend and race director Beto Villa – THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!

    I don’t want to forget all the great athletes that competed in the Quintuple, Triple and Single Ironman’s including a Quintuple world record performance by Norbert Luf– CONGRATS to everyone!


    It’s DECA Iron Triathlon Time

    Posted on 15 October 2015 | No Comments »

    October brings the end to the ultra triathlon season with the final event of the year, the DECA Iron. This year’s event will be held in Leon, MX  beginning Oct. 19th – Oct. 28th, (2nd year being held in Leon) – DECAUltraTri. For those of you interested in following the updates, please check out and Todo Triathlon on Facebook.

    Personally, this is my favorite event as many of you know. The main reason is the overall difficulty/challenge of the event. Of course seeing all the old friends and spending 10 days of suffering is hard to beat as well! If you want to do a race that will scare you, then the DECA is one to include on your list. There is a reason why it’s included every time in a listing of the “toughest endurance events in the world”.


    This year will be my 4th DECA and will be completing my 100th Ironman with the finish of Day 1, so a special year to say the least.    Reflecting back on all the events in Italy and Mexico including the Triple DECA, there is a magical “pull” of this race to keep coming back. It’s probably the same for you and your signature race – many Badwater multiple finishers mention this to me all the time.

    Our great friend/ultra distance athlete, Beto Villa will be directing the event again this year and we all can’t thank him enough for the tireless work it takes to host an event over this many days. If you ever get a chance to compete, crew or visit a DECA you will fully understand the magnitude of the event and the amazing team of people that help make it happen.

    I am working on the DECA book and expect to have completed next year. The goal of the book is to educate athletes with every idea I have learned from other athletes and racing this special event. The main focus is to have a resource for athletes to reference and to effectively train with a plan to finish this event. Over the years of racing the DECA, many fail to finish (60-70% finish rates). So many things can happen in 10 days of racing and the key is to provide ideas and tools to keep athletes in the race. I have witnessed many athletes that have not finished the race for a host of reasons over the years.  Injuries happen and that’s challenge for sure but for most it usually comes down to how bad they want it to finish and mentally staying in the game. It’s so easy to stop mentally because of the multiple loop formats and crossing the finish line time and again.

    Wishing everyone in Mexico competing in all the ultra events, Single, Double, Quintuple and DECA Iron’s the very best races!   If you need any advice or coaching for a future DECA on your calendar, please let me know,

    Age 40 Runners – Watch Your Achilles

    Posted on 08 October 2015 | No Comments »

    One of the most nagging injuries among runners is Achilles soreness. It becomes more prevalent as we age especially when hitting the magic number of 40. The old word of Achilles tendonitis has been revamped to a more technical term of Achilles tendinopathies. No matter what you call the pain, it can be an injury that can last a long time if you don’t treat immediately. It can be very similar to getting a bad case of plantars fasciitis.


    What’s the Cause? 

    The recent statistics in runner’s surveys illustrate the problem, 11% of total injuries are related just with the Achilles. As we age, our calves get significantly tight; fatigue quicker and we seem to aggravate it more often. Also, we don’t stretch often and when increasing mileage quickly it can become a significant problem. Achilles pain will normally involve an intense pain on the tendon and many times very close to the bottom of the heel.

    Personally, I have found that increasing hill running mileage and not keeping the heel down will aggravate the injury. Also, you may experience the pain during speed work as it stresses the Achilles. Other causes may include the specific flexibility of the running shoe and pronation. Pronation can cause the Achilles to twist in many cases.

    How to recover?

     The best medicine for treatment of Achilles issues is to stop running as prescribed by most doctors. Not a solution for most passionate runners, but this injury can last a long time so be cautious coming back to soon. Consider taking a few ibuprofens along with icing several days if possible. Self-massage techniques along with the use of a foam roller can help speed up the recovery. Use the Stick

    ( often as part of your post run warm-down routine. Also, consider pool running with a running vest and cycling (spinning in a low gear) as alternatives during your recovery.

    Once the pain is gone, consider coming back slowly with toe raises, skipping rope and monitoring any pain. Then gradually build your running mileage when your pain free. Most self-treatment programs will do the trick but if it continues to become a problem then consult with an orthopedic doctor to see if the problem is scar tissue on the tendon.

    How to prevent?

    Stretch and strengthen the muscles in the foot, calves and front of the lower leg (shin).  Toe raises regularly along with trail running with help build strength and flexibility.   Also, if you promote excessively then consider stability shoes.  After consulting with your doctor, orthotic prescriptions may be helpful as well.

    The old standard rule applies – change your worn out shoes regularly.  Look at the side of the shoe if you see wrinkling in the sidewall cushioning time to replace them ASAP! Hoping you all remain injury free.

    In case you have some questions or looking for some good tips, please don’t hesitate to send me an email:

    Bacon and Ultra Endurance Racing– Top 10 Recipes

    Posted on 28 September 2015 | No Comments »

    Over the years of racing and training in long distance events there are certain foods that we all list as our staples for very long endurance events.   Looking for a food (not gels, energy liquid drinks but real food) that packs a lot of calories in a small package then consider the power of bacon.   For most, it’s relatively easy to digest – of course test for yourself.

    The taste, salt, fat, non-spoiling, and calorie content of bacon work well in long events.    Cook some strips of bacon and keep in a small Ziploc bag and it can be very helpful when experiencing a “down” in a race.  The variety of the taste will counterbalance the sweetness of so many of the drinks and foods at an ultra aid station.


    There are many menu choices to consider when consuming bacon to add variety.   These are my favorites in a long event.

    1.  Plain bacon strips from a sandwich bag
    2.  Toasted Cheese and Bacon on white bread
    3.  Bacon and avocado sandwiches
    4.  Bacon and Nutella (mix of salt and sweet)
    5.  Bacon and Peanut butter sandwich
    6.  Bacon and mustard sandwich
    7.  Bacon on top of pizza
    8.  Bacon, apple and peanut butter sandwich
    9.  Bacon, hummus, mustard sandwich
    10. For breakfast with coffee in a multi day event – Bacon wrapped inside a pancake with syrup.

    Give bacon a try during you long hot training days and see if it agrees with you digestive system. There are plenty of varieties to select today, gluten free, organic, turkey, etc. The options with other food choices work well if you like the combinations of salt and sweet.

    Good luck and send me your favorite recipes with the magic of bacon,