31 August 2011

Try, Tie, & Buy the Perfect Running Shoe

Buying running shoes is a tricky business. On the one hand, you really need to take the time to try on shoes until you find the perfect pair. On the other hand, you don't want to look like a complete fool who doesn't know his left foot from his right. And, you really don't want to look like you just started the sport yesterday (or, worse yet, like you're wearing running shoe as a fashion statement!).

So, what's a not-so-knowledgeable consumer to do? Below, I've compiled some tips on trying, tying, and buying running shoes:

  • Determine your gait and shoe model. Figure out whether you have high arch (supinated), flat (pronated), or neutral feet. Figuring this out will help you know what type of shoe you should look for (stability, support, etc.), and there are a ton of resources online to help with this. One site suggests the "wet test": get your foot wet and step onto concrete or another surface that will leave an imprint. Use this image to help you determine your gait: 

Image courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

  • Got to a real running store. Please don't pick your shoes from amongst the basketball and volleyball shoes. Go to a honest-to-goodness running store that is dedicated to all things running.
  • Let the salesperson help you. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't really know what you're looking at, and don't worry if they start asking you 20 questions. The seemingly endless interrogation will end (how far do you normally run? trails or roads? how many miles per week do you average? do you have joint pain?). He or she may even ask you to jog to see if you are pigeon-toed or have any other needs in a shoe that you may be unaware of. If none of these things occur, it may be time to move to a new shop that really cares about fitting you with the right shoe.
  • Check the width. Runner's World explains that the ball of the foot (the widest part) should fit exactly to the width of the shoe. Furthermore, your foot should "rest gently against the sides of the shoe, rather than jamming up against them or not touching at all. Also, be sure your toes aren't being pinched from the side."
  • Leave room for your toes. A lot of people make the mistake of buying running shoes that fit "just right," with their toes nearly touching the end of the shoe. Rather, a well-fitting shoe on a typical runner will have about a half to full thumb's width between the big toe and the end of the shoe. Leaving adequate room at the end of the shoe will help save those precious toenails, as well as avoid pain and soreness from long runs.
  • Lace it right. I only recently learned this one, but it has been important in maintaining stability in my foot. Not surprisingly, Runner's World has a great tying guide, including videos. I prefer the loop lock, which helps keep my narrow foot from sliding forward.
Image courtesy of "The Champion Lifestyle"

  • Try it out. Take the shoes for a test run...a real test run. Jog outside, around the corner, up and down a hill if you can. It's worth it: you'll be taking these puppies on some long runs, and they're not cheap, either.
  • Ask about the return policy. Good running stores will have a good return policy...say, if your foot goes numb after mile five or you find that the support isn't enough. Make sure that you can return or exchange them until you find your perfect fit.

Of course, this how-to guide isn't complete, but it is a good starting place. At the end of the day, probably the most important things are finding a good running store with a knowledgable staff to help you and not being afraid to really try the shoes until you find the perfect one. Good luck, and happy buying!

29 August 2011

Run Like a Pro: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 Running Shoe

Whether you've championed the toughest running trails or are just getting started in the sport, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 (also available in Men's) running shoe will likely make your run more pleasant, as well as reduce pain in joints and increase stability.

Back in my early college years, when I really started getting into long distance running, I went shoe shopping. My experience with running shoes was to just find something that fit, was comfortable, and was labeled "running" on the wall of shoes at one of my favorite sporting goods store. However, one lovely Spring day, I walked into Bandana Running and Walking in downtown Boise. The crew at Bandana fitted me to my perfect shoe, letting me take each model for "test run". They explained when to buy new shoes and how they should feel. I left with my purchase and tried out my shoes the next day on the Boise greenbelt.

I don't want to be overly sentimental about a pair of shoes, but they really did improve the way I run. They absorb the shock of the road and save my poor knees, which have a tendency to ache. They fit well to the width of my narrow foot, partially because they have width and length sizes, allowing me to get the perfect fit. They even have a good tread with enough grip to keep me upright in semi-slippery conditions.
Right now, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 Women's shoe is on sale for $65.00 through the company's website. The shoe is normally $100.00, but it's on sale because the new model, the GTS 11, is out (and full price). However, once the GTS 10 sells out, you can be assured that the newest model will be even more awesome. Over the years, I've been through model upgrades, and Brooks always outdoes themselves.

Not sure how to buy a running shoe? How about how to lace it? Look for my next blog: "Try, Tie, & Buy the Perfect Running Shoes".

28 August 2011

Keeping It Going: Pursuing Your Passion

Here's my question: What have you done in the last 24 hours to pursue your goals?

For many people, this is difficult to answer. Lots of us spend our time doing things that don't really help us in the long term--watching television shows, shopping, and partying, among other things--and continue to claim that there's just not enough time to do the things that give life meaning and purpose. So, think back on your last 24 hours, and answer the question. In what ways have you held off the temptation to waste your time and energy on things detract from pursuing your hopes and dreams?

I struggle with this. Some mornings, as I'm standing alone in the kitchen, waiting for my french press to finish brewing my coffee, there is the slightest inclination to just give it up already. On days like those, a cushy, nine-to-five sort of job seems attractive. It even seems downright enviable.

When this happens, I try to remember all of the reasons that I do the things I do. I remind myself of why I'm working these long hours and missing out on some of the fun I could be having. And, as I stare into my cup and think of all the good things that are to come as a result of my diligence, it gives me the strength to go about my day with joy and gratefulness.

My dad has been a great example of this. For as long as I can remember, he has posted a visual reminder of whatever his material goal is. When I was in grade school, he had a picture of a BMW pasted to his bathroom mirror. Later, after he got his Beamer, he changed the picture to a gold pen, which he later bought. By seeing the photo of whatever his current goal was, he was able to maintain the focus to go to work and save the money to purchase it.

I don't really have much in the way of material goals. Okay, that's not entirely true. I have a very clear vision of exactly what my future house will look like, including the separate writing and art studio that I want to build in the backyard. I can see myself sitting in my studio, writing, feeling content and happy. That's the dream that drives me. That's the dream that keeps me focused.

So, what have I done in the past 24 hours to pursue my goals? I've edited articles, e-mailed clients, and written this blog post. And I'll keep doing it until my dreams are accomplished. Then, I'll pick something new to aim for. What about you?

27 August 2011

Night Spot Review: Cock & Bull English Pub, Cincinnati

Image courtesy of: http://cincinnati.metromix.com/

Last night, Doug and I went to the Cock & Bull English Pub. I, personally, think the name is a bit unappetizing, but it seemed a good place to get a beer and do some people watching. This restaurant by day/eve turns into a happening spot as the twenty-and-thirty-somethings make their way to the yuppy's paradise that is the Hyde Park area.

We arrived around 10:30 p.m. and settled into an outdoor patio table. Doug ordered a Dog Fish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA, and I ordered a Franziskaner Hefe, with an orange (of course). We also ordered some delish pub chips--you know, the super thick kind that are like a french fry and chip in one? Yum.

The scene was pretty mild mannered at first, with a few older couples sitting nearby. However, around 11:30, things started to liven up, with the perpetually single (professionally single, as Doug called it) and newly divorced on the prowl. The drunker people got, the louder it got, as is usually usually the case. Nonetheless, it was a fun place to have a beer and enjoy Hyde Park Square.

So, here's my review of Cock and Bull. I've rated each on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest. Cost is rated from $ to $$$:

Beer: 6.5
Appetizers: 7
Atmosphere: 7
Price: $$
Likelihood of returning: 7

26 August 2011

Ode to Feral Cats Everywhere

Our cat is crazy. I don't mean the chasing-bugs-and-running-around-the-house kind of crazy. I mean the jumps-at-every-sound-foot-attacking-eyelid-biting kind of crazy. Yes, she bit my eyelid.  And it hurt.

We got our little bundle of love from the Dominican Republic. Having recently moved into our first apartment together, my then fiance (now husband) and I decided to adopt a pet. Why we did this, I'm not really sure. In hindsight, we probably should have waited until we got back to the States.

We started our search for our new kitten by looking online. Now, the Dominican Republic is a wonderful place, but it is immensely lacking in infrastructure--roads, mail, and Internet--so finding our kitty was not easy. After several choppy conversations in Spanish, we finally found an organization that had two kittens ready to adopt. We went immediately, of course.

When we arrived, we saw two, little, emaciated kitten-like creatures. One of those little things was practically screaming at us in meows, and the other was frantically scaling the wall of its cage, crying at us.

We are practical people. Both of us knew that something was wrong with those cats. Their mother had died a week after they were born, leaving them alone on the street, starving, for a week. The rescue agency then took them in and gave them hard food and water at two weeks old. These cats had some real neurological issues.

But, we were desperate. We needed a cat (or so we felt at the time). And, the cat needed us (which was probably true).

So, we took the less crazy of the two home and named her Lila, which is Spanish for lilac.

You know how, sometimes, a baby is cute just because it's a baby? Lila was like that. Her cuteness wasn't inherent, and our friends politely pretended to think she was cute.

Truth is, our cat was a nightmare in many ways. She destroyed $900.00 of furniture (which we had to pay our landlord for), left scars from the many scratches she gave us, and attacked me on multiple occasions. We've also paid hundreds of dollars flying that silly thing back and forth between the Dominican Republic and the United States (four times).

Despite all of that, I love every feral bone in that little monster's body.

The point? Well, I think my "ode to feral cats everywhere" was supposed to be a plug for adopting pets. I'm not really sure that happened. If I haven't scared you off entirely, adopt a friendly, feral pet today!

25 August 2011

Goodbye, Steve Jobs

Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced his resignation by submitting the following letter to Apple.

To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
What will Steve Jobs's resignation mean for Apple? Will Tim Cook be able to maintain the Apple legacy?
Sure, Steve's been called a tyrannical micromanager who demands the beauty and perfection of all Apple products...inside and out. Yes, it's been said that he spies on his employees, demanding the utmost secrecy surrounding all Apple products. So? Jobs's vision and type A Steveness has been the driving force behind this multi-billion dollar brand. A brand that has captured the hearts and wallets of the global marketplace, converted die-hard PC heads, and made computing into a work of art.
Okay, maybe that's a little bit sappy. I don't care. I want to wallow for a little while.
I say the world needs people like Steve Jobs. People who are maniacally committed to making a brand sing, to making technology accessible and simple, and to controlling every little aspect of production until it's perfect.
So, what will become of Apple? According to a Forbes article, the market will bounce back, no, bounce forward.
And, undoubtedly, it will. Yes, Steve has an incredible hand in the making of all things Apple, but this multi-billion-dollar company certainly isn't lacking in expertise. Stocks may have been down today, but they will go back up. Many believe that Tim Cook will bring a fresh perspective, and he's definitely got the experience to take on the new role as CEO.
In closing, I'd like to officially issue the following letter to Apple, on behalf of all fans:

Please, please, please, dearest Apple,
Maintain your creative integrity, your commitment to excellence, and your devotion to all things awesome. You do that, and I'll keep giving you money.
Apple fans everywhere