Tag: Fitness

How Now Brown Cow: Chocolate Milk as a Recovery Drink

After hearing for years that water is the best thing to drink after exercise I was surprised to hear that the latest thing in recovery drinks is…chocolate milk!

I don’t know if it’s my imagination – or the placebo effect – but my knees do seem to feel better if I follow a run with a big glass of low fat chocolate milk. One thing I’m sure of, it’s been a great motivator. On days that I’m struggling with an extra helping of “doan wanna” it’s a little easier to get out on the trail knowing that there will be a big frosty mug of chocolate milk waiting at the end.

The Pros

According to WebMD chocolate milk has the following benefits over most sports drinks:

  • 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein
  • Easily digested whey protein that can begin rebuilding muscle tissue immediately
  • Casein, a protein that is digested slowly and reduces amount of muscle breakdown well after the workout

Livestrong, a site that seems completely sold on the idea of chocolate milk after working out, cites a number of studies showing that runners recover faster after downing a glass of choco milk than a carbohydrate loaded sports beverage.

The Cons

As awesome as chocolate milk is, it might not be for everyone. Livestrong also posts anti-milk articles that suggest (strongly) that any dairy consumption might be cramping your style. The best way to know whether milk might be causing muscle or joint pain for you is to keep a food diary. Try two or three weeks dairy-free and record your aches and pains. Then re-introduce dairy and see if there is a difference in the way you feel.

All I know is that chocolate milk makes me feel like a kid again.

What about you, what’s your favorite post-workout drink?

[Photo by Alice Birkin]

Micoach the App – a Better Way to Run

The problem I have with running is that my brain still belongs to a high school athlete but my body is ancient. Consequently I wind up pushing myself too hard. After three weeks it’s simply too painful to continue.

This changed when I started using the free Adidas Micoach app (pronounced My Coach). The core concept of this app is to give you interval training using four “zones,” Blue, Green, Yellow and Red. The zones are based on pace or heart rate, your choice depending on your equipment.

Micoach starts with an assessment workout that calculates the pace for each of your zones. You choose a workout plan and then work your way through a schedule of 30-some workouts.

I started with “Be Fit,” a beginner’s workout. Micoach would start me in the Blue Zone (15 minute mile) and then coach me when to pick up the pace to the Green Zone (13 minute mile). The user interface is clear, easy to read on the run and easy to use.

So far I’ve kept up with running three times a week for two months now. A personal best. One of the reasons Micoach works for me so far is because the workouts are so easy. No matter how rotten I feel in the morning I get a sense of “OK, I can do that” when I check in with Micoach.

The Adidas branded app keeps track of distance, pace, routes and calories burned. It also has a shoe log that I don’t use, seeing that I run barefoot-ish (Vibram Five Fingers). The interface for the Explore options looks very amateurish, as if it was tacked on as an afterthought which is too bad in such otherwise nice package.

Hold the Phone (Running)

This is just a quickie review of the Adidas Micoach armband for the iPhone 4. This item is generally loathed in reviews but I rather like it compared to a few others I’ve seen or tried.

1. Most people complain that the armband is too small. Yes it’s too small to wear on your bicep. But I find it easier to view on my forearm in any case. The Velcro is extremely grippy.

2. The plastic D-ring is terrible. It recently broke so I replaced it using a beefy plastic ring from an old iPod armband, stitched in place with a sewing awl.

3. The Micoach fabric itself is tough, completely waterproof and encloses the phone entirely. I have no concerns at all about sweat penetration. compare this to the Belkin iPhone 3 case that has open ports for the iPhone speakers. That said, I wouldn’t take the Micoach armband out in a drizzle. The stitching would likely allow water to intrude with constant exposure.

4. The Micoach armband keeps the iPhone 4 snug and secure. I have a Belkin clear GripVue case on my iPhone and it fits perfectly in the Micoach sports band. A thicker iPhone case would no doubt have problems.

5. The Adidas armband covers the light sensor on the iPhone and this makes the display unreadable in broad daylight. I find that if I uncover the sensor and then slide the phone back in the case it resets the sensor and I can view the display easily.

All in all I’d like to find a better sportsband for the iPhone than the Micoach, but it’s a much better armband than the others that are available at your local stores.

Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek Review: Running in My “Bear” Feet

Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek

I’ve been running in Vibram Five Fingers off and on for three years now and they are not the miracle shoes that some would have you believe. For one thing, you won’t win any fashion awards. My college-age daughter won’t be seen with my in public when I’m wearing my Five Fingers. And for another thing, they may not cure everything that ails you. When I finish running I still feel like I’ve been run over by a bulldozer. My knees still hurt – just not as much or for as long as when I’m wearing regular running shoes.

The bottom line is that after three years of use my Classics are starting to wear out and I liked them well enough to cash in my REI dividend and upgrade to a pair of KSO Treks. Here are my first impressions.

Fit and Sizing

I followed Vibram’s sizing recommendations and got size 45 – the same size as my Classics, which are a little too snug. To be clear about this, the KSOs run a little large and a 45 in Treks are like a 46 in Classics.

Because the footbed of Five Fingers cup the heel and toes, these shoes won’t “give” with use. For hiking and running it’s probably better to opt for a little loose rather than a little tight if you’re between sizes.

First Run: On the Dusty Road

The KSOs have a thicker sole and this makes a huge difference on the gravelly trails where I do most of my running. There’s still a chunk of ouch! when you step the wrong way on a stone, but it’s far sight better than the thin soles of the Classics.

Keeping Stuff Out

On their “maiden” run the KSOs lived up to their name – the high cut, firm closure and kangaroo leather uppers really did Keep Stuff Out. The Classics, with their “ballet style” cut and stretchy fabric always ingested a certain amount of dirt. Running in the sand was a good way to grind holes in your feet in a hurry.


I have flat feet and at times tape my arches. The way the KSOs strap up they seem to give a decent amount of arch support.

This is a first impression. So far I’ve put the KSOs through a few miles of trail and a game of Night Ultimate Frisbee, and so far so good. These lightweight runners give you the “barefoot” experience without the pain and suffering of actually going barefoot. The quality and workmanship are excellent.

Order them online from REI:

I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good

I woke up this morning to a big steaming bowl of DO NOT WANT. But I can’t zip up my Adventure Pants, which means it’s time for decisive action. I must exercise this morning.

230 lbs. is kind of a metaphor for my life. It’s better than things were. Two years ago I tipped the scales at 249.6 lbs. 230 is not a horrible place for a 6 foot 4 inch fellow to be. But for me it’s a “stuck place,” and it’s weighing me down. At the climbing gym I’m about as agile as a sack of potatoes.

I follow a diet of sorts. And for a while it worked very well. The first 20 lbs. just “melted away,” as they like to say. But then I hit this stuck place. In so many ways I’m just spinning in circles, like a Roomba with a dirty cliff sensor.

So it’s time to pull on my Vibram Five Fingers and hit the ol’ dusty. My intention is to do short interval workouts three times a week (one minute intense run, three minutes walk, eight reps, two miles – it works for rodents, why shouldn’t it work for me?) followed by a longer easy run on the weekend and two or three trips to the rock gym.

This morning’s struggle? (See the new section header: “Capt Strugglebug”) It was too dark this morning to read my watch. I had to guestimate how long a minute was or stand under a streetlight and squint to see the second hand. I kept this up through four reps until it dawned on me that the GPS receiver I was holding (to measure the distance of the trail) had an elapsed time counter…and a backlight. D’oh!

To Be a Good Parent, It Helps to Be a Slacker

Fitz Cahall of the most excellent Dirtbag Diaries, has a most excellent side project blog in connection with Steve Bohrer and Danny Maynor. Three dads working together to “keep the Stoke” through that long season we call parenthood. The Outdoor Parent is a different kind of blog…one that doesn’t tell you how to keep your kids safe. It tells you how to keep them alive.

(Note to fathers: if you’re setting a slackline for the first time, be sure and set it a little lower than the length of your inseam. Unless you’re quite sure that your family is the right size.)