Thursday, August 11, 2016

Colorado proud graphic artist

This is a blog that will now-and-then feature my favorite things, landmarks, activities about my home, Colorado. I will also have a few of my designs/illustrations and process of my clothing lines from by brand, FAAAST. Cheers!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Vibram Spyridon LS/MR - Trail running - Mudrun shoes Review with UPDATE

Initial review from 2012 (Update below):

Before you judge your purchase on my first week review, note the following. These shoes are specifically being broken-in faster than usual because the Tough Mudder is this Saturday. That's 4 days from today.
My wear and tear is from intense Red Rocks workouts at least 4 times a week. Along with running, drumming and outdoor activities.
When I first tried these on I wanted to go a size lower than my usual Vibram size. I didn't want water to seep in while running in mud runs.
I immediately noticed that the white curves on the shoe were not part of the fabric but seemed more like a screen print.
The nature of my Vibram Spyridon LS purchase was to beat these up. Yes, I figured the nice white details would eventually fade and crack but these are meant to be used on trails.
After getting over the shiny new look I decided to start breaking them in by wearing them everywhere I went, including the house, and bending them back and forth to stretch a little.
They have already been through various washes and "wet runs".
Now for the pics.

The first one shows a slight crack on the pinky toe of the left foot.

This next one shows the slight wear already on the tread of the shoe.

This last one shows the cracking on the curves of the right foot.
Like I said before, I expected the cracking. So, how do they feel? Although they are not completely worn in yet, they do feel a little harder than my KSOs. Not surprising. The Spyridon's have a thicker sole. They feel pretty great when wet and when I'm doing running or plyometric exercises.

To give you an idea of the harsh conditions these shoes go through I'll give you an example of my old KSOs.
These have gone through 2 years of Red Rocks training sessions, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Rugged Maniac, etc.

As you can see, they are pretty beat up.
I'll update the pictures after the Tough Mudder but the real test will be the rest of my intense training season, which should last until October.
Alas, so far so good. These are doing their job. A little disappointed the white details are cracking so quickly. I suggest purchasing these if you are going to beat them up. Hiking, biking, running, mud runs, anything dirty. These could be replacements for hiking boots.
If you are new to Vibram's I suggest the KSO model. My next purchase will hopefully be a pair of the Bikila LS or the Speed.
However, these little buggers are definitely an investment.
Happy trails!

So, after almost 4 years of running various mud runs including The Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac and Warrior Dash, I still hold the Vibram Spyridon LS and the Spyridon MR high in the class of hiking, mud run, and running shoes. Below are pictures of the more recent pairs I bought. The Spyridon LS has survived at least 2 years or running, hiking, trail running, mud runs and working out at Red Rocks Amphitheater which always takes a toll on shoes. The Spyridon MR seems to have held up even longer with minimal wear and tear. I especially liked this blue Spyridon MR since there was no screen printing detail that would flake off. As great as Vibrams are, I do have a suggestion. Do not get obsessed and make all of your shoes Vibrams. Your legs, feet and knees need the "regular" shoes too. Before using Vibrams I had knee pains but once I began using Vibrams my knee pain went away unless I did very long runs. After doing the same training in later years but also casually wearing five fingers year-round I began to feel my calves cramp up more frequently. As soon as I balanced my Vibrams with other shoes my calves seemed fine again. Everything can be overdone. Last year I ran my last mud run for a long while. I feel like I need a new challenge. Alas, I still have my trusty Spyridons to fall back on if I ever get the yearning for another challenge in mud runs. In the following week I will review the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 that I switched over for a "regular show". But for now, happy running.

If you find my entries informative, feel free to show your support for my Colorado Apparel line:

Colorado Apparel by FAAAST

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Knee Problems - Patellofemoral Syndrome - Remedies

Back in 2012, I was in the middle of my four-year mild obsession with mudruns and obstacle events. For a few years I took part in the Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Insanity Mud Run, etc. If you have ever completed any of these races you know training is key to survive. I am not a runner but these events demanded such a training regimen. I worked out at Red Rocks Amphitheater and ran when I could. However, I was suffering from knee pain after my runs. The most I could go was about 3 miles until sharp pain started to affect my knees. The Tough Mudder was a huge challenge considering my knees were in pain for most of it. I was limping towards the last mile. After that first Tough Mudder I had to take a 3 month break from any strenuous activity. I RICED my knees,  popped Ibuprofen and took ice baths to help out the recovery. I thought that was it;  my days of races were over. How could I be 30 years old and already have such debilitating knee issues?

I searched everywhere for a solution and researched various causes. Was it my diet, my muscle ratio, my genes, a disease? After many hours online, I came across an article that described a knee condition very similar to mine. The culprit: Patellofemoral Syndrome, more commonly known as "movie theater knee". This is the type of pain you get when you sit for a prolonged amount of time and your knee tightens so much, that it aches on the sides and/or in the middle area. What to do? The article suggested several solutions such as stretching and heat, but overall the condition would always be there.

I thought, stretching should work. Meh...kind of. It seemed to help a little bit before my runs, but ultimately my calves would tighten and my knees would ache again. There is a whole view point on stretching that I will go into in a later post.

The most obvious answers would not be known to me until 2014-15.

Ok, so maybe it was my shoes. The more I researched, the more I read about regular running shoes being unnatural to our bodies and how our strides caused more impact to our bodies than we would like. The heel-to-toe running style bangs your joints too much and it could have been another reason why my knees felt bad after running. That's when I decided to transition to minimalist running shoes. In this case, Vibram Five Fingers. I had read some reviews on various sites and a few mentioned their knee pain subsiding after making the switch. I will do a more in-depth review and process on the Vibrams, but for now I will focus on the knees.

The shoes seemed to help. I was training up to 5 days at the Red Rocks Amphitheater and my knees felt good. So did my back. It wasn't until I started doing some long distance runs that I noticed the pain was still pretty substantial. I bought a compression brace which had similar positive but temporary results. Then as I was shopping on Amazon, I saw a recommended item, the Mueller runner/jumper knee strap. These straps are supposed to tighten the middle area of your knee and stabilize it. I tried them for a few months but they didn't work well in very active, sweaty situations; which made them useless considering that's exactly why I bought them.

So, I researched more and looked for better braces, healthy drugs, ointments, aspirin, home remedies, something. For almost 2 years I sucked it up and changed my training. I went from doing tons of cardio and running the Red Rocks Amphitheater stairs, to doing more Tabata, yoga, stretching and weights. The new training regimen seemed to help a tad but I couldn't recover fast enough. I was about to give up and accept my fate until I rethought my training process and realized the most important factor I was missing out on was practically right in front of me.


My views on massage therapy is probably the same as some of the rest of the population. It's for fancy-asses who can afford it and belongs within the same realm of getting your nails done, the spa, and typical pampering. Or does it? 

I have a friend, who at the time was studying to get her license as a massage therapist, enter the free massages to help her practice. Little did I know that she was specializing in sports massage. Well, that changed my mind on massage therapy completely. I had no idea my legs were so tight. Here I thought stretching was helping, here I thought the training was helping, the shoes, the braces, the Ibuprofen. All I needed was regular massage therapy, whether it came from a person or from myself with the help of my foam roller. The more I listened to my body, the more I realized I was training too much on the Vibrams, I was over training my quadriceps which pulled on my knees and my stair training was making my calves too big, so they too pulled on my knees. So, I changed my training regimen again. This time I would switch my shoes. I bought a pair of Inov8, which I will review later. My Vibrams were for trail running and my Inov8 were for most everything else. I also invested in some Tiger Balm, which a buddy of mine uses on his shoulder. All key tools for recovery.

Out legs are not meant to be tight all day via sitting in front of a computer or standing on your feet. Legs are not meant to keep getting tighter via training regimens that do not include more than one type of recovery aid. So, what do I do now?

For starters, maintain consistency. Even when I go a few days without foam rolling I can feel how tight my legs get. So, I keep a pool ball in my car and in my workout bag just in case I need to work a small knot. I keep a jar of Tiger Balm with me at all times, but especially when I know I will go for a run. In fact, I signed up for only one mudrun for 2015 and did not train at all for it. I was being lazy. I thought the distance was a doable 3 miles, but it turned out to be 6-ish. Tiger Balm was my savior. I rubbed some on before the race and after the race and they never felt better. The knee pain is still there, just not as consistent, as radiating or as cumbersome. It is manageable as long as I keep consistent on my recovery. Stretch, massage, Tiger Balm, braces, shoes, heat and cold when necessary and finally, patience. Lesson is, listen to your body, rest plenty and recover wisely.

If you find my entries informative, feel free to show your support for my Colorado Apparel line:

Colorado Apparel by FAAAST

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Benefits of (Sport) Massages - They're not just for rich housewives.

What do you think about when someone tells you they are getting a massage?
Do you picture a spa setting where plastic, rich cougars get their nails "did", with their faces caked with mud from some pristine mountain-top and who later get greased up by some underpaid, 24hr Fitness/glamour shots reject named Zafron?
Do you picture a dark, dank, secluded hole-in-the-wall where a thick, hairy, slobbering stink of a man, gets a sweaty handy from an old, haggard Chinese woman who is so bored with the current activity "at-hand" that she lets out an audible yawn?

If you answered neither, then you are a good person and have a cleaner imagination than I do.
Either way, massages haven't had the best reputation. Even in our current time of corporate massage chains and better education of fitness recovery, I hear horror stories from my massage therapist friends. "So...this guy came in for an hour session and then asked, is that it?" (While pointing at his junk.) As if he was expecting a "happy ending". Yeah, this behavior happens even in the higher-end joints. 

Massage therapy is great when you find the right massage therapist...
Before I had my friend practice on me while she studied, I had done what most others do in order to find a massage service, I bought it via social deals sites. I purchased a massage here and there from Groupon or Living Social just to see what all the hype was about. Needless to say, I was unimpressed and had no inkling to return. I would have had better results sitting on my hands. "This menthol based oil will open up your sinuses and aid your recovery" said my Groupon massage therapist. Um, no. It didn't do shit, just made me smell like an oversized Altoid. 

Once my friend got her degree, it wasn't long before I developed a much needed relationship with sports massage and its benefits. Good god almighty how well it helped my recovery time. My back felt better, my knees felt loose, my anxiety was in check. Until...she had to stop due to wrist issues.

Reset the research. 
Damn, it's hard to find a good massage therapist. Word of mouth is usually a decent avenue to find a service worthy of high caliber. However, that proved tedious and difficult once I realized just how much of a masochist I am when it comes to sports massage. My pain threshold can be pretty high and most massage therapists won't go deep unless they know you. Yeah, that IS what she said.

Enter the miracle worker. 

I met Lena at my old gym downtown. At the time I was working a very stressful job at a law firm and one of my only outlets was going to a bootcamp class at the gym 2 blocks away. I don't recall who made first contact, but I am glad we got to know each other. She happened to be an ambassador at this gym so I was able to see her quite often. Eventually we established a friendship and I quickly found out she was trained in the massage field. Lucky me. 

I previously mentioned my masochistic tendencies in this area, but Lena would probably still say I'm a pussy. I don't know if she eats a can of spinach right before working on me, or she takes her frustration out on me because I'm brown, but whatever her pre-massage ritual is, it works. Deep, concentrated and oh so good. She has also used hot stones and some little wooden knobs that feel incredible on those tiny knots. She could explain her tools of trade better than I could. I just lay there like an old wife and take it. In any case, all this jib-jab and I haven't gotten to the actual benefits. 

Well, for one, the release of tension throughout your body does wonders for the physical and mental knots we keep. If you are like most Americans, you spend most of your time sitting down on stiff furniture or standing on your feet on stiff areas. Our nervous system gets out of whack, our muscles tighten and we build up stress. Massages help alleviate this build up, loosen our tendons, our muscles, take pressure off our joints and release toxins. Foam rolling can only go so far. Stretching can only go so far. Only a trained professional can actually assess your individual situation and hone in on the root of the problem. Sports massages are even better considering their nature is to prevent injuries, improve range of motion and help recovery.

In our current state of society we prioritize our gadgets before our bodies, our guilty pleasures before our minds. Our cars need maintenance in order to function properly. If our internet goes down, we problem solve until our connection is up and running. Why gloss over the care needed for our state of living? That is the most important aspect of our immediate world. If you are depressed, anxious, stressed, unable to cope with the grind of our fast-paced society what should you do? Drown your sorrows in booze, prescription drugs, or false hope? No. You seek a solution to the problem at hand. Your car needs oil and a mechanic to keep up maintenance. Your body needs healthy foods and a good massage therapist to do the same. 

Like your car, maintenance of your body can be costly. We get into our bad habits and begin to prioritize and monetize obvious health services. Massages can run from $50-$100+ /hr depending on the therapist and the length of the session. Well, do the math. How often do you spend upwards of $50 on dinner a month? Sacrifice and compromise with your bad habits. That should be leave sufficient funds to schedule at least one session a month. If you are relatively active, this could be enough for you if you also maintain good habits on your own with the aid of other tools available. Here are some tips and tools I have found to help me when "adulting" and excuses get in the way of scheduling a massage therapy session.

Get a foam roller. There are several clients I have trained who have never foam rolled and it is painfully obvious to see how tight their muscles are when they writhe in pain the first time they push up and down on their iliotibial band (IT band). The one pictured above is a good, cheap one from Amazon. I also keep my Tiger Balm with me at all times, stretch and roll my little knots with the aid of a pool ball or lacrosse ball and hydrate, for god's sake HYDRATE! Some people may think a lacrosse or pool ball may be too hard for them so they substitute a tennis ball since it's softer. Like any habit, an overdone good habit can turn bad. Asses your situation and apply the correct form of recovery tool. If stretching doesn't help, foam roll. If foam rolling doesn't help, use Tiger Balm. If that doesn't work, use your ball. The important thing is to stay consistent. After all, you have one body.

Here she is, my massage therapist Lena reppin' some of my FAAAST 5280 - Colorado leggings.
I am trying to make these legs famous. Yes, they look just as good, if not better in person.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Intro - Fitness - Clothing - Info - Outdoors

I may use some "colorful language" here and there, so read at your own risk.

Ever since I was little, I can remember not really caring for sports or anything active. I am pretty agile and energetic (brown genes), so it's somewhat surprising to think why I never pursued anything to compliment those aspects of myself. Of course, my schooling had a minor impact on the lack of sports activity, plus my family was limited on funds.

My high school was so small we didn't have enough people for teams of any sport. However, they made up for the lack of a sports program by taking us on "outings" which were outdoor trips that could last anywhere from 2-5 days. I know, teens outdoors for more than a few hours? How the hell did they do it? It was a matter of planning and execution.

Whether we visited some amazing campground in the mountains of beautiful Colorado or biked the majestic scenery of Moab, my high school would make an effort to create an unforgettable experience for us. Granted, as a teen I would not realize the impression these trips would have on me until my later years. Because of the outings, I grew up with a great sense of respect and gratitude for mother nature and the joys of the outdoor active lifestyle. Cheesy but true.

This blog is a bit about my experience with the outdoors and fitness. I will rant about products that I have tried in order to aid my ever-growing active interests, jot down my opinions on recovery, training and various health related information, and now and then I will showcase my artwork/fitness clothing line. That's how much I like the outdoors. I am currently in the middle of trying to find my niche within the fitness industry. I like helping people and while I study for my PT certification, I wonder how I can set myself apart from the corporate-style trainers; the overly curvaceous, rigid and superficial fakes. My mission is to help others change their habits in order to live happier and healthier. So, with that said, this is a new chapter I hope to begin for 2016.

If you find my entries informative, feel free to show your support for my Colorado Apparel line:

Colorado Apparel by FAAAST