Head to the Mountains, on your Bike! March 02 2017, 0 Comments

Head to the Mountains, on your Bike!

Are you a triathlete, road cyclist or runner who is curious about mountain biking? Want to learn but need some basic tips? I was in your shoes a few years ago when I got a little burnt out on road cycling. I have since switched over to mountain biking exclusively and while I am no expert, here are a few things you may want to know about mountain biking:

 Start slow, go short and pick easy trails. Get comfortable on your bike and find some beginner trails. 20 miles on a mountain bike is MUCH different than 20 miles on a road bike. So don't start off planning a huge ride right out of the starting gates! Miles to miles, it is NOT the same.

 Adjust your body on the downhills. Move your body to the far edge of your seat when going downhill. Keep your center of balance low and stable and your butt off the saddle. If you have a dropper post on your bike: stand and use it. By standing you are allowing your body to absorb the shock from obstacles on the trail. Another trick I've learned was to keep my pedals parallel to the ground when going downhill. I try and keep them at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. This way they are high enough that you won't gash them into a rock at high speeds. It’s not fun, trust me. 

 Get your bike dirty, stop treating it like a baby. Remind yourself this is NOT your road or triathlon bike. Get it dirty and it's ok if it gets scratched. Mountain bikes are much better at taking a beating than our precious tri bikes. But to keep your mountain bike in top shape always clean after every ride.

It's ok to walk! Mountain biking terrain can be steep, loose and rocky. It's ok to get off and walk. It's more important to have fun rather than to end up in the emergency room.

 Look way ahead of you. Always, always, always look at least 10 feet ahead of you. This way you have more time to react if something is on the trail. Keep your eyes focused on where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. For example, do not fixate on that large rock on the edge of the trail that you are worried about crashing into. If you are focusing on the rock, your body will naturally draw itself to that rock and before you know it, you'll be crashing into it!

 Practice shifting gears. You shift gears a lot when you mountain bike. I can recall the first couple times that it drove me crazy to be shifting around that much. It was so different from road biking but that is normal so shift away. You will also want to get into the habit of shifting before you reach the hill. Again this is where you always want to be looking ahead and make sure you are prepared for the hill by shifting early.

 Take a lesson or join a group. Keep your elbows loose and don't clench your hands. Use your elbows to absorb the shock. Just relax, have fun, enjoy the scenery and give mountain biking chance. These are all tips I learned from my local bike shop: Soul Ride in Prescott, Arizona. They cater to beginner mountain bikers and frequently hold lessons and retreats. It’s a great way to improve your skills and be a part of the mountain bike community.  Please look them up or join one of their group Wednesday rides that I help lead each week.

Are you an experienced mountain biker? What tips do you have for beginners? Leave your comment below.

Guest blogger

Amanda Remlinger

Soul Ride:

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Busting Beer Mile Myths March 01 2017, 0 Comments

Busting Beer Mile Myths

You’ve been known to toss back a few with your buddies in record time. You’ve chugged a beer before/after/during a race. Keg stand? No problem. We get it, you’re a beast. But if you think the Beer Mile is all fun and games--think again!

The Beer Mile has become popular in the running community and is now commonly found as either part of a larger running event (especially ultra running events) or even as a separate organized event on it’s own. Some running groups put on their own neighborhood Beer Mile, because beer and running.. why not?! So it’s no doubt you’ve been toying with the idea of participating in this crazy running challenge. But the Beer Mile has been known to chew up and spit out many a man or woman who weren’t prepared! I know. It happened to me.

For those unfamiliar with the Beer Mile, it sounds pretty simple on paper: chug a beer, run a ¼ mile lap. Chug another beer, run another ¼ mile. Repeat until you’ve downed 4 beers and ran a mile. Only rules are you’re not allowed to vomit and the beer has to be 5% alcohol and no less than 12oz. These simple rules have fooled many into just showing up. It didn’t end well for them.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Let me bust some of the biggest Beer Mile myths so you can enjoy the challenge and not curse it.

  • It’s Just Four Beers. Correct. Four beers… in approximately 15-30 minutes. Think back to your college days. Even when you shotgunned a beer, did you follow it up with 3 more back to back? Yeah. Now you’re seeing the big picture.
  • It’s Just A Mile. Also correct. 4 laps-1 Mile. But have you ever ran laps with multiple beers sloshing around, threatening to come up? Way tougher than it sounds.
  • I’ll just throw up and keep going. Nope. If you vomit there’s another beer and an additional lap waiting for you. And honestly, this is the hardest part of the Beer Mile-not throwing up! Chances are high that beer is going to come back up. The key is waiting until after you cross the finish line to let it loose.
  • I’ll go slow. Okay, I’ll admit, this is a pretty good strategy, if you’re not competing to win. But if you’ve got a competitive side like me, try getting your speediest miles in the first two or three laps, gain some time on your competitors, and then keep it steady on the last lap.
  • I’ll be so drunk it won’t matter. You’ll get intoxicated for sure, just not right away. It takes a bit for it to hit your system. It’s not going to be like running an entire mile drunk. Most won’t get buzzed until about the third/fourth lap. But once you cross that finish line, be prepared for it all to hit you at once!
  • I don’t need water. False. This may have been one of my biggest mistakes during my Beer Mile experience. My stomach was full, I was feelin good. Why would I need more liquids? The massive hangover later was my answer.
  • All finished. Let’s celebrate! The beers have hit everyone, you’re all feeling good. Time to crack open the celebratory suds. No! I’ll admit, I was the one who was calling for a toast amongst the cheers and high-fives. Which quickly led to “let’s open the good stuff”. Our 4 beers quickly became 5, 6, 7... did I mention the massive hangover? My advice is to toast over some water and food, wait a bit, then start in on the “good stuff”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I loved my Beer Mile adventure, and want to do it again. But I’m sharing my advice so that you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into. The better prepared you are, the better experience you’ll have. Take my advice into consideration and you’ll be ready for a fun time.

Have you participated in a Beer Mile before? What advice would you give to the newbies out there?

Guest Blogger,
Jeremy Heath
Instagram: @runner_blogger_az
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Endurance Pack Review for SUP February 24 2017, 1 Comment

Endurance Pack Review for SUP

"As a long time adventure racer, ultra runner and standup paddler I have tried numerous different style bladder hydration packs never really being satisfied; that is until my first experience with the Orange Mud Endurance Pack this past weekend in a 6 mile standup paddle race.  First thoughts out the box is that the pack is super light weight. Once you put it on the pack seems to fit like a glove and contours to your body perfectly. The hydration tube is long and has excess so you can cut to preference.  With two pockets on the chest, shoulder and rear pockets to store whatever is needed you can load down this pack for the long haul or keep it lightweight for shorter races.

Endurance Pack for SUP

For my crash course race test of the Endurance Pack I have to admit I was skeptical of its ability due to the leaning over required for a proper SUP stroke(near 90 degrees); well, the pack did not disappoint, I never felt it shift back and forth, it breathed well and my gels stayed in the front chest pocket even while digging deep to a 2nd overall place finish. My last concern was that moment we all fear when we take of the gear to find chaffing and abrasions; Not A Single One and I didn't even have on a shirt!

Endurance Pack Walker Higgins

This pack is now my favorite I have ever owned and will be replacing all my others; congrats to Orange Mud for producing this awesome pack!"

Endurance Pack SUP Review

Follow Walker Higgins and his race company at WHOA.

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Running with Diabetes February 08 2017, 0 Comments

Running with Diabetes

As most of us do, I really enjoy running. My favorite distance is the marathon. Even though to-date I have only done 3: NY, Sydney and Melbourne. I began running when I was 24 years old - 12 years after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic autoimmune disease where the pancreas stops producing insulin. Type 1 diabetics have to take a minimum of 4 daily insulin injections with multiple blood glucose checks through finger pricks, and constantly manage food intake to do our best to stay as healthy as possible and avoid long-term health complications.

 For me, running provided an immediate, new found freedom from the frustrations of living with type 1 diabetes. A normal day for me consists of testing my blood glucose levels up to 20 times a day, giving multiple daily injections every time I eat and trying to manage all of this with exercise – sometimes the biggest challenge of them all.

The rewards I reap from running, far outweigh the associated challenges with having type 1 diabetes. In 2016, I decided to take my love for running to the next level, signing up for my first ultramarathon for 2017. A 50km race in the Blue Mountains region of Australia.

I had a great 2nd half of 2016 in terms of racing – completing 8 races in a 3-month period and qualifying for the 2017 Boston marathon. 

I was ready for a good year ahead… until I got a stress fracture in my left foot in October at the Melbourne marathon.  

 This took me off my feet for the following 12 weeks, putting my training plans back a couple of steps. Fortunately, I have still been able to continue running and swimming to keep up my cardiovascular fitness.

Since getting back on my feet, there have been a few challenges probably not faced by the average runner. My diabetes has to get used to high intensity and endurance exercise again. This generally means during runs my blood glucose levels drop too low and I have to eat a constant stream of fast acting carbohydrates (gels, jelly beans, energy bars or fruit) to keep them within the normal range and prevent them from dropping dangerously low and potentially collapsing.


This adjustment can take the body up to 6 weeks to get used to and the need for carbohydrates slowly reduces.

So how does a type 1 diabetic train for a marathon or their first ultra and keep their diabetes in good control?

On a typical mid-week 8-mile training run I will test my blood sugar levels 20 mins before I run. I would eat some short acting carbs, generally a banana or dates 10 mins before I head out the door and closely monitor how I feel and my sugar levels for the following hour.  


Thankfully I recently got a device called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which feeds constant, live readings of my blood glucose levels to my insulin pump and I can monitor my levels without having to prick my finger while running – a tricky skill to acquire through lots of practice. The CGM device makes such a difference with my diabetes control during training and races.

 During any training run I have to closely watch my sugar levels and try to keep them in the ideal range whether refueling with carbohydrates to bring them up or giving microdoses of insulin to bring them from being too high.

I also always have to bring snacks with me for both refueling my energy requirements and in the case I have a low sugar level.

During longer runs I will test my sugar levels with my blood glucose meter – generally around the 13 & 18 mile mark for an average 20 mile run. I also have to refuel a lot more not for my diabetes but to keep my glycogen stores up as I am burning through so many calories. I will eat 3 Clif bars (40g of carbs each) during my run with no insulin.

 Training on the trails for the ultramarathon has added a couple of other challenges too, which I am learning to enjoy, very different to training on the tarmac.I am generally on my feet for longer hours and at a slower pace.I have more time to focus on my diabetes management but have to plan ahead with what I am going to take with me before I even head out the door and hit the dirt path.


The typical questions that run through my mind:

  • Do I have enough water for hydration?
  • Do I have enough supplies for refueling?
  • Do I have extra supplies to treat low sugar levels?
  • Do I have my blood glucose monitor as a backup to my CGM to test my sugar levels while running?
  • Do I have a fully charged phone in the case of an emergency?
  • Do I have my identification on me and do people know where I am running (if going on my own)?

And the most important question of them all: Am I ready for some fun?

In so many ways I am blessed to have type 1 diabetes. It has changed my perspective on life and allowed me to enjoy running with an appreciation unique to my experience.

Both diabetes and running have changed my life in ways I can’t put into words.

Now here is to Boston and running my first 50kms. 2017 is going to be a good year.


Instagram: @amylmck

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Stop and Smell the Hops February 01 2017, 0 Comments

Stop and Smell the Hops

One thing I love about running is the sense of freedom that it brings me every time my foot strikes the trail or the pavement. It’s more than a release for me, it is a way of life. I look forward to my run. When I’m working I’m thinking about hitting the trail and when I am running I’m thinking about the awesome tacos and beer that I am earning or my next race. What I am not thinking about is the guy in traffic who cut me off, or the long day at work that I had, or my bank account and the bills that need to be paid. It is a time for my mind to rest and for the most part be relatively clear and calm.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. We love running. It’s what we do. One thing that I’m trying to do this year is bring that same feeling to my races. I want to run well and have a great race but I also want to enjoy my surroundings. I want to meet new people, suffer together, and when it’s all over, enjoy a beer. It is easy to get caught up in trying to set new personal records, qualify for that big race, or simply beat that person who gave you  a weird look at the starting line. I have been there myself. I have had good and bad races. This year though, I want to really soak in everything that my races have to offer. I want to run WITH friends and strangers, not just blow past them and try to catch up when the race is over.

 The point that I am trying to make is that it is easy to get caught up in the racing aspect of a race. It’s easy to overlook the fact that there are some cool people around you hiking, running, enjoying good company, and every now and then having that aid station shot of whiskey or beer. There is a whole other world inside the race itself of people just simply having a good time. I am not saying go to every race and party. I am simply challenging you to sign up for a race or two this year where you snap a few pictures, take in the scenery, meet someone new, and have fun. Enjoy the camaraderie of the like-minded people that you are running with. That doesn’t mean you can’t sign up for a race and go crush it either.

Ultra and trail running are gaining popularity everyday. Races are popping up everywhere and are offering better courses, aid stations, finishers medals and t-shirts, and after parties. As much as I love all of this, it also means that race prices are going up. I am all about paying for a great race! I want to make sure that the people putting together these fantastic races and their volunteers are being compensated for their hard work. I also want to make sure that after I’ve paid for the race, the travel expenses getting there, the time I spent training which kept me away from friends and family, that I am getting the full experience of the race and my “money’s-worth.” So challenge yourself this year and make sure you have some races on the calendar where you will have time to stop and smell the hops.

Guest Blogger: Mike Coutu

IG: _ijustfeltlikerunning_



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Running With Your Dog January 18 2017, 2 Comments

Running With Your Dog

Your New Year’s resolutions may vary--ranging from more miles to new challenges. And I’m a big fan of running with friends to keep you motivated year round. But sometimes there just isn't anyone available around (or let’s face it..anyone willing to run).  So what do you do? I say grab your pooch! Dogs need exercise.. and so do you.. so why not enjoy a little together? Plus, dogs rarely complain, make excuses, or ditch you for an extra hour of sleep.

My pups love to run. They see me grabbing my gear and can't wait to get out the door. It’s a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion. On those days when you're lacking some motivation, and you have a pup who can handle the activity, strap on that leash and go.

Don’t have a pup? This is a great excuse to go to a local shelter and rescue your new running buddy. If you’re still on the fence about adopting a dog, some animal shelters will allow volunteers to take certain dogs for a run throughout the week. What better way to find the perfect 4-legged running partner that’s right for you!

Running with your dog isn’t going to be easy if it’s your first time. Before you head out the door, there are few you things you should take into consideration:


  • They need water just like you. Sometimes more! Even if you’re you go on just a 30-minute run, it's a good idea to carry water with you. I take my Orange Mud VP2 with me so both of my pups and I each have our own water bottle.
  • They need to train. Was your first ever run a 10-miler? Probably not. So make sure you start off small. They need to work up to longer miles just like you do.
  • They will stop frequently. Besides all the smells, they will have to poop/pee. So don't expect to run with a specific time in mind. Just enjoy the company of your companion. Both speed and distance will come with time.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. You may not feel the sharp gravel or broken glass beneath your feet, but your pup surely will. Keep in mind you’re wearing shoes and try to avoid areas that would hurt if you were barefoot. Also watch for approaching traffic, other dog, cyclists, etc. While other people may be aware of you, they may not see or notice your dog, especially at night. For night running, there are a variety of clip-on LED lights to help keep your pets safe.
  • They WILL frustrate you.  That's right. They will see a squirrel... another dog... a stick...a stick that looks like a squirrel... It's going to take time to teach them to run with you so you MUST be patient. Give it time and they will learn to leave those things behind.

Do you and your dog log miles together? What was your biggest frustration when learning to run together and how did you overcome it? I hope these tips help both you and your furry running partner have a happy and healthy 2017!

Jeremy Heath - Orange Mud Ambassador and blogger extraordinaire!

IG:  @runner_blogger_az

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Running in the Right Mindset January 05 2017, 0 Comments

Running in the Right Mindset

2016 was a real soul questioning cluster, at times leaving me confused, self-doubting, stretched thin, and frequently benchmarking against the previous scale by which I’ve measured my former successes. From a running perspective, I walked into 2016 with the mantra, “I will run for fun, I will run to free my soul.” I had made a vow of returning to the road for the love of the sport, and I was hell-bent on a season of easy targets and finding the existential freedom that judgment-free pavement can do for the soul. 

Coming off the most painful marathon of my career in New York’s November 2015 season, I was ready to throw in the competitive towel and quite literally put my feet up for the year (forever?). I was a bucket list marathoner, I’d reminded myself. The fact that I kept signing up seemed like some sort of masochistic subconscious that I was dying to shake. In my third 26.2 mile race with a time mere minutes over my “under 4 hour” goal, I was beginning to think my body just didn’t have the mental endurance to carry me 4 minutes faster. 4 minutes. That’s 240 seconds over the goal time I’d now attempted three times and failed.

A bit of a baseball watcher, and certainly a fan of Disney’s Aladdin, three seemed like a pretty perfect number to walk away with a strikeout and give the genie his freedom. I’ve admitted many times that I’m a middle-of-the-pack runner, and I’d proven time and again (and again) that I wasn’t capable of reaching that mystical goal.

 In 2016, I expected to run less, but more vividly, and to watch the other areas of my life excel without the added pressure of BQs, PRs, and various other competitive banter. I wanted an opportunity to wake up on a Saturday morning and say “screw this, we’re going to the beach” instead of panting through 14 sunny miles. But when it came down to it, I didn’t do that at all. I kept up with my training regimen with the same intent and half the stress. I went to multiple practices with my running team on both weeknights and weekends, and in the small window I’d decided my competitive career was in countdown, I PR’ed the Brooklyn half marathon and ran a sub 3 hour twenty mile training run.

 Of course, the races were painful. The practices took a toll on my body, but for the very first time they were only reassuring to my mind. Then, it clicked. I wasn’t afraid of pushing myself. I wasn’t tied down by my training routine. I was simply afraid to truly put myself on the line for the risk that I would voice my expectations and then miss them by mere seconds.

That was the summary of running in 2016, hell...that was 2016 in general. It was a year of realizing fears in the wake of failure, and making a pledge to be the type of person that doesn’t lose sight of the fact that running - and life - is and will always be a personal sport.

 With this mindset, I signed up for and was granted lottery into the 2017 Chicago marathon. In 2017, I will return to the road with a new goal to find my “absolute max.” I’ve heard time and again professional runners talk about a lack of race regrets because they “left it all on the road.”

“What does that mean?” I would think. What it was it to give my true all? ...even more so what did it feel like to leave it all? At this point, I still don’t really know. The runs of 2016 and before were a careful calculation of “all-enough” to make sure I couldn’t fail. Not anymore. I am and have been in pursuit of my personal best, a far more internal record than a personal record.

 And suddenly it’s not really the road that’s freeing, but the incredible turmoil of possibility which comes from unbridled exertion in pursuit of a new challenge. So bring it, 2017, with your expectations, judgements, comparisons, and benchmarking. Bring your muscle soreness, tired eyes, and double shots of espresso. I feel empowered for your arrival as I never have before, ready to take the trying times of 2016 and use them to fuel a year of great charge.

Jess Ferrucci

Author at 

Instagram: @thehappyrunnerdiaries

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Register for your first trail race! December 29 2016, 0 Comments

Register for your first trail race! I’ve been a runner for most of my life, and nearly all of my adult life, so I’m obviously biased, but I’m convinced that it’s really the best, most accessible, and most adaptable sport out there. You can run anywhere and at any time, provided you feel safe. It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting around a track, frolicking through a park, jogging through a forest preserve, coasting through your neighborhood, or meandering up and over and through a mountain pass: it all counts as running. Fast or slow, short distances or long distances -- there’s a flavor -- a distance and a speed -- for everyone. Plus, just because you run one particular distance or speed now doesn’t mean you’ll be forever married to it. Sprinters sometimes “go long,” while ultra-runners sometimes dabble in the shorter distances. The variety is what makes this sport so rich.


I know many runners who are satisfied with just running for the sake of running, without targeting a goal event in mind, but many others I know prefer to structure their training around an event that’s months away. I think I, too, belong in the latter camp. Having a target race on the calendar can help bring meaning but also structure to training without robbing yourself of the “joy” factor, too.


As 2016 begins to come to a close and you’re looking at your race calendar for 2017, why not take a risk and do something that’s perhaps out of the ordinary for you -- register for a trail race. As I mentioned, I’ve been running for a long time now, but it’s only been within the past few years that I’ve gotten into trail running, and let me assure you: it’s an adventure out there!
Below, I’ll give you some of my bits of wisdom and reasons why you should take the plunge and register for a trail race (or several) in 2017.


It’ll shake up your daily running and bring you a new focus. Unless you already run exclusively on trails every single day, chances are high that foraying into training for a trail run will bring a new focus to your running, which can be a good thing. It’s really tempting and ridiculously easy to do the same running route day after day, but it obviously gets pretty boring and stale after a while. When you’re training for a trail race, you’ll probably find that you need to do a different type of training -- maybe by training with the focus of “time on my feet,” perhaps, or by including lots of hill repetitions and elevation ascents/descents -- which in turn can make you a stronger (and faster) runner. Besides, variety is the spice of life, right?


Trail racing (and training for them) can make you mentally unbreakable. If you’ve been running and racing for a while now, you know how important it is to be mentally tough. In fact, I’d wager that having sound mental fitness is as important, if not more, than getting yourself into fantastic physical shape. When you’re training for a trail race, you’ll probably need to spend more time on your feet than you usually would, as well as climbing and descending more hills than you usually do, and this can be tough, both physically and mentally. I’ve spent many days on trails where I wonder what I’m doing -- why am I running 15+ minute miles when I could easily run sub-8-minute miles on roads -- but then I remember how the “mental callusing” I’m doing in training will be helpful come race day. Trail running can be definitively harder than roads running/racing, yet the mental fortitude you’ll develop from racing trails can pay off in all areas of your life: running and otherwise. Remember: getting outside your comfort zone is a great thing.
It’ll keep you accountable and might make you more willing to put in the work. I know many people who swear by having a race on their calendar if for no other reason than it makes them continue to put in the training week after week, month after month. After a while, though, it makes sense that you’ll begin to maintain some base fitness, and you might not necessarily have to work as hard to “stay in shape” or be able to complete the distance. If you’re planning to run a trail race, though, and you’re used to running and racing roads, you’ll likely find that you’ll need to work a little harder and put forth a little more effort -- in the form of getting strong on climbs, on figuring out ways to be nimble and fast on the downhills, or learning how to hike expeditiously -- just to get or stay in shape. I know many runners often aspire to “run more hills,” for example, but in the absence of having a hilly trail race on the calendar, this goal falls to the wayside. Putting a trail race on your calendar -- after paying for it and registering, of course -- may make you more inclined to properly train for it, even in inclement weather or when it’s “inconvenient” to you to do so, if for no other reason than you not wanting to waste your hard-earned money.


The best reason: trail races are fun! As I mentioned earlier, I’m completely biased in my opinion that running is the best sport out there, and even if you’re used to just running and racing on roads, I bet you’ll find that the race-day atmosphere at trail races is still as energizing, exciting, and fantastic as what you’re used to. Sure, trail races are sometimes a little more “chill” compared to road races, and you may not run as fast as you would if you were on flat pavement, but there’s still something so gratifying and exhilarating about pinning on a bib and trying your best to run as fast as possible, even over rocky terrain, upturned rocks, exposed roots, or through water. Perhaps a better question to ask yourself: why not sign-up for a trail race?! What have you got to lose?! Provided you put in the training, remain injury-free, and show-up healthy and ready to rock, you may very well surprise yourself at how much fun you have.



As you’re planning your 2017 season, seriously give trail racing a shot. Fortunately for you, as your research will reveal, there are distances available for everyone: anything from a 5k all the way up to (and beyond) 100-milers or multi-day races. Who knows? Maybe even after one season of training for a trail race and then running your event, perhaps you’ll even migrate over to trail racing for the foreseeable future. Let me assure you: it’s a good place to be.



Writer Bio

Dan Chabert

Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is a husband, entrepreneur and ultramarathon distance runner. Aside from those 3 things, he spends most of his time on, & and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.



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Mini Adventure Mondays December 21 2016, 1 Comment

Mini Adventure Mondays All too often I find myself scrolling through my Instagram feed and seeing pictures of people running, hiking, and biking through the mountains and I immediately begin to question why I chose to live here in Texas. It seems as if everywhere else is where I want to be and where I am just doesn’t offer the grand landscapes that my heart desires. It’s easy to get caught up in this type of thinking and it just kind of snowballs into the idea that there is nothing around me worth exploring. Let’s be honest, there are probably more than a few people out there reading this that are in complete agreement.


Two years ago my wife and I took an epic road trip that took us through ten states and nine national parks. I had recently just left the Navy after eight years and we wanted to take advantage of my time off before I started my current job at Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth, Texas. We packed up our Nissan Cube and hit the road. We saw mountains, canyons, deserts, glaciers, lakes, and even a few bears. We hiked, explored, visited craft breweries, and I ran in some of the most beautiful mountains I had ever seen. It was magical to say the least. That was until we were on the last day of our trip and we pulled into our driveway and reality sunk in.


Time went by and we both sunk back into the work grind. We each began our training for our yearly trip to Los Alamos, NM where I run the Jemez Mountain Trail runs and she bikes the Santa Fe Century. We had been looking forward to hitting the road the day we returned from our road trip. We went and raced and had a blast and on our nine hour drive back we decided that we would no longer sit at home wishing we were somewhere else. We would take “Mini-Adventures” that would tie us over until our next grand adventures. It didn’t take long before “The Itch” set in. We began to research local parks, trails, anything that was within driving distance that could help us make that “Itch” go away. We set out one Monday to explore Colorado Bend State Park which was only about a three hour drive. Pulling up to the park we didn’t think too much of it but when we made it further into the canyon and we saw the Colorado River for the first time since we camped on that very same river in Utah on our road trip two years prior, we were blown away. We set out to hike one of their many gorgeous trails and discovered hidden canyons, waterfalls, creeks, and all kinds of natural beauty that we did not expect to find in Texas. After a day of hiking and exploring we were determined to explore more of our surrounding areas for adventure. From then on we dubbed these expeditions “Mini-Adventure Mondays”.
Since that little trip that we took on a whim we have taken many mini-adventures to local state parks and anything that is within driveable distance. We realized that there is so much around us and we have been sitting around pouting because we aren’t back in Glacier or Yosemite National Park. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and wonder why we aren’t all living in cabins up in the mountains running trails everyday. I still sometimes think about it. What I encourage you and anyone that reads this article to do is to get out and explore your local state parks. It doesn’t even have to be a state or national park, it can be a local park that offers neat trails and a close getaway. I recently found a nature center 20 minutes from my cabin that has become my go-to training trails. Stop wasting time wishing you were somewhere that you aren’t. There are untapped resources all around us. Get out and explore, be spontaneous, and take rad mini-adventures.


Written by Guest Blogger: Mike Coutu


IG: _ijustfeltlikerunning_


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Volunteering is the New Racing December 14 2016, 1 Comment

Volunteering is the New Racing

 Paying it Forward

Running and cycling are individual sports.  You train and race to get a specific placement number or time by your name. You start out with individual goals, but as you meet people, you find a sense of community.  I find, more often than not, that is the community that keeps bringing me back to sport and not a desire for me to get a specific time or place in a race.  Over time, I’ve evolved from being an individual participant to wanting to help others and foster a sense of community amongst my fellow athletes.  The focus shifted from “me” and seeing how I improved to “we” and helping others gain confidence in a new sport, make friends, and feel included.  It’s actually become a driving focus and I now seek out opportunities to help people out or provide a friendly face when out training or racing.  If you’ve ever experienced someone helping you out or maybe saying a nice thing along the way, then it’s time to pay it forward and do the same out in your community.  Here are some suggestions:


  • Go to races and spectate. Do you have friends racing at an event that you’re not signed up for?  Go and cheer your friends on at a race! Make it even more fun with costumes and signs!  I will usually make signs and put them out in lonely parts of the course and then place myself in a more central part of the race to maximize my face time with athletes.  You’d be surprised how a friendly face or word can lift up an athlete and propel them for miles!  Bonus points if you also have a cooler full of cold beer for post-race refreshments.
  • Volunteer at races. Are you looking for a simple one time way to help out?  Find a local race and volunteer at it.  Here in Denver, we have many race organizers who offer you a discount for a cheap entry to a future race.  By volunteering, you get good future racing karma AND a cheap future entry.  Win win!!
  • Help with a specific group that interests you. Are you excited about helping a bunch of new people learn how to mountain bike? Maybe it’s helping a specific group of people, like veterans, women athletes, special-needs athletes, kids?  Find something that really interests you and find a group that aligns with your interests and see how you can become involved.  You’ll gain a new perspective on sport and help out a group of athletes in meeting their goals.
  • Volunteer as a training coordinator. Have you been participating in a local training group’s activities?  Pay it forward by coordinating some training sessions!  You can make your commitment a simple one time deal where you lead a group of runners on your favorite trail or you can make it a season-long commitment by organizing an entire season.  There are MANY groups that need help (run stores, running clubs, tri clubs, mountain bike groups) and all it takes is some enthusiasm, organization, and good communication skills.  Don’t feel like you have to be an expert to be a coordinator either – most groups just want someone to organize things and be a friendly face.
  • Sign up to be a leader in a local club. Have you been an active member in a club for a while? Do you want an even bigger role in helping groups out? Consider becoming a club leader. This usually involves nominating yourself for a club position that interests you and becoming a Board Member.  This is a heavier commitment with higher visibility but also has a larger impact on a group of people.


No matter your commitment level, I challenge each one of you to go out and make a positive impact in your community.  It could be something as simple as a smile or kind word to a fellow participate or something more complicated like helping a bunch of beginner runners learn how to run on trails. 

Guest Blogger, 

Erin Trail

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The Pacing Project November 30 2016, 0 Comments

The Pacing Project


Disclaimer and Safe Harbor Statement:


What you are about to read is based on my first and only experience pacing in a 100 mile event. In fact, prior to the Pine To Palm 100 Mile Endurance Run this year, I had never even been to a 100 mile event as a spectator, volunteer, much less as a runner. I've done a number of Ultras, but the longest distance at any event was 50 miles at the time I arrived at this race.  So what I have to share is from an informed, but inexperienced outsider's view and veterans of the distance may have a different perspective.  If you disagree with anything I have written in this post, so sorry, but tough.. Enjoy.


A short overview.  I was introduced to my runner for this event by Coach Ann Trason who said that she knew someone named Mary Cates who is an experienced runner and running coach who could use a pacer in a few months. At first, Mary appeared to have everything covered, but Ann brought the subject back up about 6 weeks prior to the race and so I decided to reach out and confirm.  I'd been looking for an opportunity to pace in a 100 mile race and Ashland, Oregon was on my bucket list of places to visit.  Mary was a little nervous about the idea, not knowing me or my background, and probably wondering if I would be a burden and screw things up. To be honest, I had the same concerns x 10. 


Mary is a much more experienced runner than I am. She is a stronger runner overall and had some very specific goals in mind, namely to qualify for the Tahoe 200 the following year, secondarily to finish sub 24 hours.  So if I was going to do this, I needed to treat this with the same focus and preparation as I would my own race.  Overall, Mary killed it, 4th in the women’s field and I believe in the top 25% overall. To say I learned a lot from the event would be an understatement, but I digress, that's a topic for another post...


Ten Things I think I think about pacing:


  1. Pacing is about the runner, not the pacer. End of story.  It's not to be treated as a training run, or something you are measuring yourself on.  The pacer is there to keep the run safe, motivated, moving forward and to help avoid the unforeseen issues that always arise when a runner is that tired and worn. If you can't grasp this and fully appreciate it, stay away.
  2. Don't sign up to pace a distance you are not comfortable you can easily cover. Be candid and up front, being effective for 20 miles is far better than blowing up yourself 30 miles in and being a burden. I was worried about this given Mary's ability and pedigree.
  3. Your focus on your own food, hydration and well-being only matters in that you can't become a problem for the runner.  Once your basic needs are covered, everything else should be about your runner.
  4. Aid station workers, etc will help you with whatever you need, but don't take their focus away from your runner, or other runners unnecessarily. You need to be able to be self-sufficient for whatever distance you are covering.



  1. When you are pacing someone you haven't met before, you need to invest a little time to try and understand the person, their personality, what they want to achieve and what motivates them.  From everything I had read about running 100 mile events, especially in the mountains, things were going to get dark, both literally and figuratively at times.  Waiting for your runner to hit a wall to figure out what makes him or her tick is too late, you should have a plan in mind before you start out.


For me, I chose to pepper Mary with simple, easy questions periodically leading up to the event so that I had something in mind to fall back on. Here's the first salvo of questions I asked as a reference:

  1. Hills - are you running up hills or hiking? What's your criteria for busting out the power hike or walk ?
  2. Do you want your pacer to run ahead behind or side by side ?
  3. Do you like to talk and run? Or maybe have someone else talk and just listen to distract yourself?
  4. Topics of conversation that are off limits - list them or you bear the consequences.
  5. Give me five foods you can always get down and five foods you sometimes crave on a long run.
  6. You ok with me going ahead at an aid station to get food and drink prepped for you and catching up after you pull out while I binge?
  7. What's your top 3 pump up songs?
  8. Give me the names of the two most important people in your life but no reason why- that's for discussing at 2 am.
  9. Why is Tahoe 200 so important to you? Of all the things you could do why this one?
  10. What was your greatest joy in life so far? Don't tell me why - just a title. The rest is best served for a face to face or heal to toe conversation.


  1. At 1 AM, when you are on a ridgeline trail 2 feet wide and with an 800 foot drop off to your immediately left, you need to be conscious of the fact that your runners response time, coordination and mental awareness is impaired.
  2. Have an extra torch light and make sure everything around your runner is illuminated if you see them struggling or slipping.
  3. Sometimes firmly suggesting they slow down a little (or graciously supporting their utterance that they're thinking of slowing down) for safety is not a bad idea.
  4. If you are running in front or side by side, call out any intruding brush or debris and call out rocks in the trail, especially when they blend in to the ground under headlamp illumination.  From my own experience, unexpected stumbles, falls, etc after 30 miles can lead to a myriad of issues like spams, sprains, etc, let alone after 70.


  1. At 2 AM, when you hit a point of boulder scrambling and the markers on the trail seem to jump around or be too infrequent, and your runner is getting really upset, have them stop. Go scout a little ahead and then come back. Don't make them backtrack unnecessarily when they feel like they don't want to go on. Don’t assume they know the course forwards and backwards. Even if they had memorized every last twist and turn, by this point, they likely can’t remember their own name. You need to be the logical part of their brain that has long since departed.


  1. At 2 AM, when you hit a point of boulder scrambling and the markers on the trail seem to jump around or be too infrequent, and your runner starts talking about quitting, it's effective to remind them you are in the middle of nowhere and the closest point of contact is at least 3 miles in any direction, so you might as well just move forward to the next aid station. Use some blunt, stark pragmatic talk to get them to accept the moment and move forward. Then, as you move forward…

Every time you pass another runner who is struggling, offer them help, offer it twice. This has three important benefits you will immediately realize.

  1. Your runner, in their mentally impaired state will think you are a nicer person than you are, meaning your less likely to get in trouble when you miss a turn 2 hours later.
  2. The running karma gods will smile upon your runner.
  3. Once the struggling runner is out of ear shot, you can ramble on about how much better your runner is handling this, lifting their spirits and reminding them that they can handle whatever is going on. Don’t laugh. Your runner will take comfort in a sadistic sort of way of knowing someone else is hurting more.


  1. At 3 AM, when you get past the boulder scrambling fiasco, remember, you are responsible for your runner's emotional well-being and those your runner interacts with (i.e. aid station workers).
  2. You should not only profusely thank them for being there in the middle of the night for you, you should over do it and thank them on behalf of your runner who is too tired to think straight.
  3. In general, people are uplifted by compliments and praise from people they don't know.  Therefore, you should do all you can to find ways to get anyone around you to heap praise on your runner. Here are things that worked for me.

b1. Let everyone know how you were awful and your runner saved your bacon, whether it's true or not.

b2. Sing and play air guitar to the theme of mission impossible (in particular MI2 - the song by Limp Bizkit version). The aid station workers will take pity on your runner.

b3. Compliment the aid station workers on their weird hats, puffy jackets, wool blankets and ask for the website or stores where they got them.

b4. Let the aid station workers and your runner know that of all the bowls of chicken broth and noodles you have had, this is the greatest in the history of the world.

b5. Playful joking, laughter, smiling, whatever to make everyone there realize this is supposed to be fun goes a long way.

b6. Thank your runner multiple times throughout the night for letting you share in this experience, especially when their GI track is bugging them so much they can't think straight.  Your runner won't want to kill your buzz and it will get them to think about something positive.


Bottom line, aid station workers are giving up their weekend to be out there in the cold and dark at 3 AM to give you chicken soup and listen to you gripe. Treat them well.


  1. Whatever gear you are carrying for yourself, be prepared to fork it over without asking to your runner, possibly carry something extra just in case.  For me, I had an extra foldup wind breaker that would keep me (or Mary) warm and protected from the wind on the ridgelines after we were soaked with sweat and the temp dropped 30 degrees.


  1. Once the sun has been down at least an hour, you need to have a series of things to talk about periodically and you need to pointedly engage your runner for a few reasons.
  2. Your runner needs a mental distraction. As much as their body is hurting, their brain is what is failing most of all.  Keep it engaged with something other than running.  There is a saying, "That which motivates also demotivates".  At this point, running maybe be a demotivating activity, but talking about cuddly dogs, well that's a different story.
  3. Having them talk about something that is relevant or meaningful to them lets you, the pacer, know how with it they are at that time. Are they coherent? If they're too tired to eat, getting them to talk about something uplifting brings back some energy.
  4. Finding a subject they are experts in, other than running, and having them teach / educate you along the way, in my humble opinion, helps them pass a lot of time and increases their awareness and faculties.


  1. When all else fails, find a subject that they're passionate about and make up a scenario for them to get mad over (preferably not at you).  Fear is a powerful emotion, but a little directed and focused hostility can be helpful to combat it.


  1. When approaching aid stations, find out what your runner might want ahead of time (food cravings, change of clothes, a blanket, a fresh headlamp, battery charger for their watch or phone). Go out ahead, get it going, have something to hand them the moment your runner arrives. Once they start eating, split your efforts between finishing off their requests and getting yourself ready. 
  2. If your runner is ready before you, send them out, don't let them wait on you less they get eaten up by the folding chair monsters. If you can't catch up to them quickly, you shouldn't be pacing them any longer.


  1. (10 was a relative number, just like mileage on a Garmin).  Remind your runner of what they have accomplished when they get dark.  Less than 7000 people in North America finish a 100 miler each year, they are elite whether they know it or now.
  2. When your runner handles an obstacle or stretch well, or hammers a climb at 4 AM, let them know. Be profuse and obnoxious. Not just to pump them up, but also because their brains are mush and they probably didn't hear you the first time.


  1. When you hit cool landmarks, or venture onto the PCT for the first time (especially if they're from the east coast), emphasize how cool it is that they're there and how else would they be able to experience this wilderness (even if it is pitch black and you can't see anything).


And for the most important learnings...


  1. When you meet up with your runner's crew at aid stations, take 2 minutes to let them know how your runner is doing, any GI issues, etc and things to have ready down the trail so they have time to prep for possible issues that are building. By mile 70, most of the best laid race plans and expectations have changed dramatically.  Do they need to ready extra toilet paper, different foods, TUMS, whatever?  Give the crew some heads up so your runner doesn't have to ask for anything twice.


  1. What is said on the trail stays on the trail unless your runner has specifically given you permission to share something. My  rule for Mary was simple, as long as you don't insult my wife or kids, you can say anything about anything or anyone to me until we are done and I promise I will have forgotten it by the time we reach the finish.


  1. If you are a parent, you will understand this. Sometimes your kids get so tired or worn out, even while doing something they love, that they just can't think straight or handle their emotions. They can't answer questions, they are irritable and don't know why.  Your runner may be overcome with guilt for having you witness them in a state of 'weakness or shortcoming' which I think is hysterical given what they are pulling off. They're emotional and could just as easily burst out laughing or crying at any moment for no apparent reason.  As a parent, you wouldn't hold it against your kids, treat your runner the same way. While you are focused on moving them forward and keeping them going, remember, they're still people, have a little empathy, even if you've walked the past 3 miles.


  1. When you get to the finish line and Hal Koerner is greeting you, and just 30 minutes prior your runner was pissed about the long, steepish descent for the final 5 miles destroying her quads, be sure to heap praise on Hal right away for an amazing course so that your runner doesn't let anything inadvertently slip out while in a state of fatigue.


Submitted by: Derek Jacobson –


Instagram id: derekjacobsonaz

Twitter id: @dLevementum

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Finding a Coach November 23 2016, 0 Comments

Finding a Coach

This is not an article about how to find the best coach for you. It is about finding a purpose as a coach. It may give insight into that person you see as “coach”.

For much of my early life in running I would have defined myself as an athlete. Running wasn’t always easy but it was something I could do well and hard work brought good results.  Slowly I realized that there could be more to my involvement in the sport than just the place I finish in a race and the time I ran. The transition from athlete to athlete as role model started. At this point I would not yet have considered myself a coach but it was a transition where I started to see myself as someone who could influence how others approach running. I quite liked this role and this was the beginning of a long journey towards the place I am now. Now I would define myself in running as a coach, former competitive athlete and someone who runs quite a bit when there is time.

Along with the transition from athlete to role model to coach comes a transition in the way to see this role. Starting with passion, an intense desire and enthusiasm for the sport and this remains the basis and daily approach to coaching. Initially coaching is an avocation, a hobby or minor occupation that allows the coach to help others with their running while pursuing other interests. For some, this is where coaching remains in their lives. For others, over time, the passion for the sport leads to learning, improving to be the best you can be at coaching. At this point avocation starts to become a profession. As a professional, coaches strive to have a high level of education, keep current on the latest research and continue to look to mentors, athletes and colleagues to see what everyone is doing well.

The biggest difference between being an athlete and a coach is that as the coach it is not about you. The ego sits off to the side helping in your desire to get the best from your athletes but only that. You must find a way to help them with what they want from running. No matter what, the coach cannot jump in and do the intervals, cannot be there to tell them to go to bed, cannot be on the start line and run the race for them. You can prepare them physically with great training, you can listen to the other stressors in their life and work with them to get the most from themselves, you can encourage them to make good choices nutritionally and from a recovery point of view, and you can be their role model and advisor. Most importantly, you share their passion.

At the beginning this was not about how to find a coach. It was about how an athlete found herself as a coach. This is a life long work in progress.

Guest Blogger,

Kathy Butler

2 x Olympian

USATF Level 2/IAAF Level 5 Coach

Boulder Track Club Development Team Coach


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Finding Home November 03 2016, 0 Comments

You know you've found a home meant for you when you can't wait to get back to it.

That's exactly how I feel about Durango, Colorado. It's tucked away in the Southwest corner in the San Juan Mountains and far away from the highly populated areas in the front range of the state. Just how I like it.

Every time I leave, even if it's to an amazing place, I am excited to return to its coziness and breathtaking landscape.

How I decided to move to Durango is complete happenstance. I had been living in Buffalo, Wyoming for about 15 months. It's a pretty tiny town, especially for me coming from Atlanta, Georgia. My seasonal Summer job was about to end and I had to figure what my next plan was. If I were to stay, I would probably end up working at Pizza Hut or Subway to make ends meet. Jobs were super scare there and I knew that I didn't love the town enough to work that type of job there just to make it by.

So one day, I posted in the Dirtbag Runner's Facebook group. It said something like "looking to move to a mountain town with tons of trails. Any Suggestions?"

I got a decent amount of responses but a lot of them weren't interesting me. Phoenix, Fort Collins, Boulder, etc. Only one stood out though. Someone recommended Durango. I hadn't heard of it before, so I did a Google image search and that was enough to solidify my decision on where to move.

When I was in college, my family took a trip to Western Montana. We stayed with family in Missoula and that was my first taste of what a mountain town in the west was like. Growing up in Georgia, our yearly vacations were pretty much all to some beach in a neighboring state. My only mountain experiences were in the North Georgia mountains. Compared to the Rockies, those are just hills covered in trees. So when we went to Montana, my whole world felt like it infinitely expanded and I was completely infatuated.

It also didn't help that soon after that trip I got into reading all of Jack Kerouac's books. I couldn't stop thinking about a big trip out west every year after college. It seemed like around Springtime ever year, I got this mad itch to take off into the sunset.

More and more I was becoming disconnected from Atlanta. Traffic, people, high rises, all of which created a longing to get away. Eventually my yearly trips, weren't enough to satisfy me. I had to get out. I had to live out there. Somewhere "out there." It really didn't matter where, just as long as I had mountains in my eyesight every day.

That's what took me to Wyoming. I found a job as a hiking guide at a guest ranch for a Summer. Once that job ended, I decided to just stay there. I worked as a housekeeper at a motel, then as a reporter for a newspaper, then as a camp leader at the YMCA.
As a trail runner, Buffalo offered one single track trail in town. That, combined with other reason, is why I had to find a new place to live. To feel satisfied and fulfilled. I needed something new and I needed a place that more suited for me. It was pretty easy watching Buffalo fade in my rear view mirror. 

The more I think about the time progression of my post college life, I think Durango found me instead of me finding Durango. I took a huge leap of faith coming here. But I think you have to do that at least a few times in life. Sometimes it won't all work out. Kind of like me moving to Wyoming. But eventually things will work out perfectly for you in a way you never could have imagined.  

This place continues to amaze me. I still feel like a kid in the candy store and even if I've been on the same trail before, I'm glowing with joy from the sweeping views and mountains that surround the city. 

I just passed my one year anniversary that I just showed up in town with my possessions crammed into my car, along with my cat. And I couldn't be any happier now. After hearing my story, a lot people ask me if I plan on staying here or find another place to shortly live in. It's an easy answer for me...

I'll be here for a while.

Guest blogger,
Joey Schrichte
Follow on Instagram @ JoeySchrichte
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Material Tech Session: What is the D or Denier in materials mean? November 02 2016, 0 Comments

Material Tech Session: What is the D or Denier in materials mean?

We love to play with materials in our hydration packs and lifestyle gear. Frequently questions come up about what the heck Nylon 1000D, 1680D, 210D, 70D, etc stands for. So here you go, all focused on Nylon materials in this case. 

Tech of the big D

The "D" stands for "Denier". Denier is simply a unit of measurement which describes linear mass density in a given material. It's calculated by mass in grams of a single 9000 meter strand. Weird right? A single strand of silk is approximately 1 denier. Therefore a 9000 meter strand of silk weighs roughly 1 gram.

1 denier = 1 g / 9000 m

So how about that? 5.6 miles of silk weighs 1 gram. Hard to imagine? For comparison, a human hair is 20 denier. So 5.6 miles of a human hair will weigh 20 grams. 

Ok, so now what?

A low denier count in fabrics tends towards light, smooth, silky, sheer, and likely soft. A high denier count tends to be sturdy, thick, and more durable. Tents often use a 30d or 70d material for lightweight, breathable, and packable design intents. Many lightweight packs use anywhere from 30D to 600D with the most common typically ranging from 70D to 400D. This ensures a lightweight pack that is reasonably durable too. Heavyweight multi day packs often use 600D to 1000D nylon for maximum durability realizing weight will be an increased factor. 

So what does Orange Mud Use? 

Hydration Packs - 400x300D, 400D

When it comes to hydration packs, ours are focused on high performance, stable on your body, and light. Rather than using a lightweight 70D like what is common in the market, we instead focus on a more durable material, 400x300D Ripstop Nylon. Its diamond pattern is designed to take a beating and isolate tear resistance to it's own cell. The weaving of fibers into this pattern is what makes the "Ripstop" designation. This helps greatly with rips and tears in the fabric and though a tad more grams than 70D, we find that the added strength and durability makes it a superior product. 

Gym Bags, Every Day Carry Packs, and Lifestyle Packs - 200D, 600D, 1000D, 1680D

We frequently use Nylon 1000D and Nylon 1680D in our lifestyle packs. 1000D is the standard in the industry for tough bags. 1680D takes a step up in feel and strength, originally being designed for fighter pilot flak jackets to take shrapnel. Neither are light, but we like the feel of it as the higher Denier count means the fabric holds it's shape, is more durable than lighter fabrics, and will generally last longer in abrasive environments like the gym locker, airplane storage, etc. We occasionally use 600D and 200D in our general purpose bags which is still a very tough material, but more economical in price. The 200D is often used as a lining, non weight bearing, or non-abrasive surfaces. 

Keep in mind this is in relation to Nylon materials. When you compare Nylon to Polyester, Nylon is stronger. So a 400D Nylon is stronger than a 400D Polyester. A 420D Nylon is even stronger than a 600D polyester! So always use Nylon right? Actually, not necessarily, but that will be in the next Orange Mud Tech Session...

So there you are, a brief summary on Denier in relation to nylon pack materials! 



Josh Sprague is the designer and CEO at Orange Mud. Designing packs and other gear is at the heart of his passions and Orange Mud as a brand. Making packs that are light, fast, functional, and always important, a major focus in his designs. 

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The Emotional Side of Injury Recovery October 25 2016, 0 Comments

Two weeks ago I flew over my handlebars at 20 mph, landing superman style on the concrete bike path. It was a combination of bad timing and bad luck and 100% my fault. My bike miraculously is ok, save a few scuffs to my brakes and shifters. My bones are ok. I had some sweet road rash that’s fortunately all healed now, thanks to Tegaderm and Duoderm (this should be in every cyclist’s first aid kit). But my poor left shoulder… I have a 1 cm full thickness partial tear of my supraspinatus muscle of my rotator cuff. This means no bikes rides for a while (especially outside) and 8 weeks of no swimming. I’m a swimmer and this will be my longest time out of the water in 10 years. Oh, and I have a bunch of races scheduled.

The physical injury and healing process is one thing, but I find that the hardest part of being injured is the emotional healing. Like most athletes, I was going a bazillion miles per hour, with a full training and racing schedule and was met with very sudden literal and physical stop. Riding for 30 minutes on the trainer is presently a touch too much for my shoulder. No swimming. Thank goodness I can run. And like most athletes, I’m very Type A and need some sorts of schedule or plan or something. Which is hard, since I’m not sure if I can actually do my races that I have planned at the end of the summer. So here’s some tips on how to emotionally recover from a sudden stop forced by injury.

* Don’t play the “what if” game. You got injured. It happened. Now you need to accept it and move forward.

* Your “training plan” consists of healing. Take those supplements, do that PT, don’t overdo things, and sleep. It’s similar to recovery techniques you utilize for training, so instead of saying to yourself “I’m hurt and on the couch, my life suuucks” say “I’m actively recovering”. A little mental tweak, but it helps.

* Reach out to race directors well in advance of your race and see if you can make some changes. I’m fortunate that my races are all locally organized. I’ve swapped my early August Xterra from a tri to a duathlon (hopefully I can ride my MTB by then…..). I can switch my Buffalo Creek Xterra from a solo entry to a relay. And I can either downgrade my 106 Deg West from the 70.6 to the Olympic-distance race or defer to 2017. Be up front and honest about your situation and chances are, you’ll get some flexibility. But the key is to communicate your situation well in advance. If you email the RD a week prior to the event, chances are you’ll be stuck.

* Find something else to focus on while you heal. Fortunately for me, I’m a triathlon coach and I’m President of Altitude Multisport. So instead of working out, I’m leading workouts and coaching. If you don’t have something like that going on, plan a fun weekend getaway or focus

on a project that has been neglected for a while. In other words, find something that can take your time up since you won’t be training.

* Indulge in some retail therapy. I got some cute new running shorts, so I can coach Tuesday AMC Track Night in style.

* Spectate and volunteer at races. Several races in the Denver area offer discounts on future races to volunteers. This is a way to give back to your racing community, get out of the house, and get a sweet discount for a future race that you can do when you’re healed up.

* Try to have a sense of humor. I was joking to my husband that “Injured Erin = Fun Erin”, only in that I have time now to go and drink beer and do fun things since I’m not swimbikerunning in my free time. Thank goodness I can still do beer curls with my good arm. But seriously, planning some fun, non-athletic things with people that you like to hang out with is a very good thing to do.

* Finally, be very forgiving of yourself. Forgiving of the dumb thing you did get injured. Forgiving of being in pain. Forgiving of the time it takes to heal. The easier you are on yourself, the better your recovery will be.

Happy healing!

Guest blogger,

Erin Trail

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Covered In Mud - Heartland Running Podcast October 20 2016, 0 Comments

Covered In Mud - Heartland Running Podcast

The Heartland Running Podcast is the go to source for all things running in the midwest! 

Hosts Stephen Lee and Andy Cloud share their musings on the latest gear and nutrition trends in running while exposing the secret that is the running scene in the midwest.


Recently our founder and CEO, Josh Sprague was interviewed on the podcast to discuss how Orange Mud came to be and where the future of running hydration is heading! Give it a listen and let us know what you think!

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Company Spotlight October 19 2016, 0 Comments

Active Gear Review writes some great articles on all sorts of endurance sports, but they like to focus on the personal side of business too. In this case, a profile of our CEO, Josh Sprague, and how Orange Mud got started. Check it out here!  Link

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Now, I get it! October 10 2016, 0 Comments

Guest Post by: Katara Hause

Now, I get it!

Why does he do it? How can he do it?  He’s running how far?  All at one time?  You mean people really do that?  And it’s for FUN?  Is he crazy?

These are just some of the questions we get repeatedly asked when my husband or I mention one of his upcoming ultra marathons.  My pat answers are usually, “I have no idea,” “He loves it and lives for it,” “50K, 50 miles, 100K or 100 miles,” “Yes, all at one time, without stopping,” Yes, yes they do,” and “Yes, yes he is!”

That last answer, which usually garners a laugh, isn’t as clear as it used to be.  Before this past weekend and our experiences at the Barkley Fall Classic, it was much easier for me to dismiss my husband’s desire to be part of this tribe, as crazy, fanatical, and even manic. 

But now, I think I get it.  Let’s get one thing straight, I will NEVER understand the willingness to push my body to its absolute limits just for the sake of seeing what will happen; any voluntary activity that causes me to vomit, go potty in the woods, get stung by a swarm of yellow jackets, overheat, or literally tear my skin from the bone will NOT be on my to-do list!  With that being said, I almost felt like the actual running of this race was secondary to the camaraderie, compassion, and celebration of the human spirit.

The difficulty of this course and the obstacles it presents (both planned and unplanned) completely levels the playing field.  No singular athlete had a competitive advantage over the other.  Age, experience, fitness level…none of that mattered.  Determination, heart, and sheer will to continue moving forward were the difference makers. 


Obviously, I didn’t run this race.  And, truth be told, I didn’t even get to participate in as many check points and aid stations as usual, due to the structure of the race and complexity of the terrain.  But ultimately, that didn’t make a bit of difference.  What I observed during that weekend changed me.  It changed my opinion of the running community and allowed me to see all the gifts and wonders of this sport through an open, unfiltered lens.

Competitors became friends.  Strangers shared supplies.  Secrets and helpful tips were revealed openly.  Egos were destroyed as souls were bared.  Favorites faltered.  Underdogs triumphed.  Dreams were both crushed and realized.  Hands were held.  Hugs were doled out.  Minutes, sometimes hours, were counted in joint anticipation.

The humanity I witnessed first-hand last weekend is only a fraction of that which the participants beheld.  The kindness, generosity, and humility on display by this community was both astonishing and incredibly refreshing.  And this is why he runs.

Though it may have started out as a solitary, self-betterment hobby; a way to stay sane amidst the madness and unpredictability of our daily existence, running has grown into a purposeful, community-driven, life-affirming renewal of all the things that are good and right in the world.  His involvement allows him to see himself and others as their most basic, vulnerable selves; and at that core lies the way were meant to be: civilized, respectful, considerate, honorable, modest, and helpful; finding happiness through the success of others, building up instead of tearing down, learning from shared experiences.

What began as a distraction from the everyday toils and tribulations has become a necessary reminder that at the crux of our existence is goodness and a truth that only those brave enough to search for will ever find.  There is a light borne of this knowledge and I saw it shining in the eyes of everyone I encountered last weekend; whether they were triumphantly crossing the finish line or already planning to avenge their disappointment, whether they were running the course or watching from the sidelines, whether they were nursing injuries or just bruised egos.  The light was bright and powerful and all-encompassing.

This is why he runs.  His faith in humanity is restored.  And so is mine.


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The medal that is mettle. September 07 2016, 0 Comments

The medal that is mettle.

When I was an asthmatic youth in Asia, my parents would send me and my sibling to a survival camp founded two centuries ago by educator Kurt Hahn, who I think had a disability. He is quoted saying to a boy who thought certain standards were beyond his reach: “Your disability is your opportunity.”

It takes courage to do the best with what one has in a world where apprenticeships and promotions can be guarded jealously for “club members only”; it takes courage to retain the vision of possibility.

In the face of “disability”, at a time of greater-than-usual uncertainty, I started to run again. Luckily, I knew the benefits of (even slow-poke) physical activity from once upon a time. The survival camp founder explained its benefits in terms of Conrad’s Lord Jim: youths need to experience events which “reveal the inner worth of the man; the edge of his temper; the fibre of his stuff; the quality of his resistance; the secret truth of his pretenses, not only of himself, but to others.”

If, despite what seems to be trying to constrict us, we are getting out there to sweat it out, I think we are showing “what we’re made of”. If we’d doubted ourselves, now we can tally up one more victory.

Socrates said there’s nothing to be lost and everything to be gained through physical activity – including better memory, mood, mental health. There’s a funny part in Xenophon’s Memorabilia where he’s asked whether he fears the distance of walking to Olympia. He says: “Why do you fear the distance? When you are at home, don't you spend most of the day in walking about? On your way there you will take a walk before lunch, and another before dinner, and then take a rest. Don't you know that if you put together the walks you take in five or six days, you can easily cover the distance from Athens to Olympia?”

 Though I may be no Olympian, I am grateful for the opportunity to run. Where all doors appear closed, one remains open. The one leading to inner worth, which is our ability to cope, our resilience. It becomes our mettle – the door revealing our resilience like a medal for all to see. An aphorism advises: “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

The call of the wild! So much bigger than petty circumstance. And on that trek, I carry my Orange Mud hydration gear, because one of the basic rules of survival is the importance of staving off dehydration.

Guest post by GG, from Serbia. Thanks Greta!

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CTRL ALT DEL September 06 2016, 0 Comments


I feel sometimes like circumstance is trying to control me, trying to put me in a box with other people’s labels. It’s at moments like that when I CTRL ALT DEL to escape – and regain my own control on a run. “…we know not what the day will bring, what course after nightfall/ destiny has written that we must run to the end.” – Pindar

We could riff off Pindar, whose enviable job it was to celebrate athletic achievement, and say: “We will run to the end/ attended by horizons/ the pulsing heart and legs/ extend to.” Yesterday, I noticed an elderly man with his terrier in the wicker basket of his bicycle; kaleidoscopic shadows cast by trees; the wind raising bits of river up into aquatic stars. Afterwards, I could hardly remember what had been troubling me.

I would run sometimes after my shifts as a newspaper editor, at around 4 a.m. in Asia. I’d follow the road that steeply wound round the mountain to the peak, this effort rewarded by the bustling city-by-day now translated into a quiet and distant sea of fairy lights beneath my feet. I felt like an ancient Greek victor standing on the mane of something slain. Running around that peak, I enjoyed every angle of that victory, all of the worry of life deleted in the action of accomplishment.

But those victories can be so quickly washed away by the toughness of circumstance. Life happens, obstacles are thrown our way and we fumble. We lose the control that we had gained. Pindar knows it! “A man can learn, and yet see darkly; blow one way, then another, walking ever on uncertain feet, his mind unfinished”. Learning seems hard enough and in addition to that, Pindar prescribes resolve. But we know this from running. It resets us to be prepared for more to come.

Today, we don’t have poets like Pindar to laud us, but we do have our gear that gains war wounds the more mileage we put it through.

The great thing about having aesthetic running gear is that it doesn’t need to be hidden in a closet. As I sit and work for hours on end at my desk, doubting or overestimating what I can do, I love being able to look at, say, my Orange Mud bottle. It reminds me that if I can’t today, I have been capable before of rebooting in order to CTRL my life again. 

The wear on the gear is a reminder of all I’ve escaped – all the challenges that I’ve managed and controlled. I remember by looking at it that if I just take a few steps, I will get closer to a larger end. “The end shines through in the testing of actions where excellence is shown”– Pindar.

Guest post by GG, from Serbia. Thanks Greta! 

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Horizons September 02 2016, 0 Comments


“Some sprint to snatch the prize, My goal’s the far horizon”–Michael Franks. Probably because I am not fast, I love that line from a Michael Franks song – but I also like it because I think it is true about training. We have to be in it for something more, because sometimes training is like eating dirt.

Franks’ song reminds me of a Tagore poem in which the poet describes people coming home burdened with goods, whereas he has left his belongings behind him and is hunting for the golden stag: “I run across hills and dales, I wander through nameless lands, because I am hunting for the golden stag.” The poem is similar to the song because both have to do with being called to what begins as being out of sight and elusive.

I began running far distances in high school, in order to escape from the confinements of boarding school life. It was still, if barely, the 80’s and there were no nifty hydration packs for amateur runners. That meant I went with no water and ran as far as I could, then would make my way back by focusing on reaching the furthest telegraph post I could put in my vision. After chasing telegraph post after telegraph post, I would finally return, having found as much of the golden stag that I could for one day.

Only by running longer distances do I feel that I begin to put whatever ails me into perspective. I love how on most runs I begin in the middle of the city and at one point find myself across the river from it, and it has shrunk smaller than Lego pieces. As I run on, the city just disappears, altogether. By running, I am literally putting distance, powered by my own legs, between me and whatever is troubling me. I wouldn’t zealously say that running solves all problems: part of the “problem” is that the run needs to be practiced most days anew precisely because some problems are too elusive. In fact, I feel like I am still working things out: some of life’s larger questions seem to require much larger increments of distance and time to be viewed, but at least I am “on my way”. Having to renew the task almost daily is not defeating, it kind of makes sense. Each day is new, so it’s understandable that each day, the problems require new responses. Running might not dull the pain, but it gives a possible answer to it, every day

“You may smile, my friends, but I pursue the vision that eludes me.”– Tagore, “Golden Stag”

The equipment we bring on as we take on more and more miles comes to seem like a more and more coveted medal, commemorating our pursuit of the horizon. My first medal was “earning” my first handheld from Orange Mud early this year. I write “earning” because I had successfully put in the mileage to actually need one. At first, it only held water. But now, as I learn to reach farther horizons on less, it sometimes holds electrolytes and nutrition in its pocket.

Guest post by GG, from Serbia. Thanks Greta!

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DIY September 01 2016, 0 Comments


The title of this blog series is a nod to both the Long, Slow Distance (LSD) of some training, but also to the fact that for many of us, running is to a certain degree a do-it-yourself (i.e. individual) endeavor: from selecting the right running shoe, to determining nutrition. 

I like to think that I can figure out how to run efficiently by learning to listen to myself, as opposed to only copying what someone in a video does. Sometimes, first checking there are no obstructions, I close my eyes when I run to pay attention to balance and breathing. I find running to be an enlightening activity, like yoga is for so many. Yoga helped cure me of asthma in the 80’s, but I feel running to be close to the core of who I am. It’s up to us to figure out what works for a power of one to “get it done”.

Life can be viewed as a do-it-yourself endeavor, despite all of the modernizing sophistry of paving roads smooth and talk of reaching “tomorrow’s world” – though I sometimes think that I am missing out on the magic formula to reach that world. It seems like there’s a divide between the smooth roads and promises of tomorrow and my actual lived experience, which is bumpy. In fact I’d add that one of the most useful things I’ve learned is to take life one day at a time, and try to avoid plans for days that have yet to arrive.

Runners are forced to accept rough surfaces and uncertainties, whether because of injury, training plans that don’t deliver, general idiosyncrasies, or etc. I think that runners are also aware that what works for one person doesn’t work for another – like in the example of how some prefer the Orange Mud HydraQuiver Double Barrel without the Vest Pack. Another example could be how different training techniques work for different people.

I was so impressed when I read in What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Murakami writes that he never warms up. I was in awe at his courage for admitting something that goes against the credo in all the running magazines: of warming up before AND after exercise. I also felt vindicated because I’ve found that when I run about 60mi/week, I am better off stretching before and not after a run. I use the dynamic stretches from Marathon Nation’s “15 Minutes a Day to Stop Getting Injured and Start Getting Loose”.After my runs, I usually take a walk around the block, but rarely do anything more, because I’ve found post-run stiffness goes away and flexibility returns faster when I leave my body alone.

The great thing about distance running is that it brings us face-to-face with ourselves. But any sensitive soul knows that already. In fact, the cryptic message above the ‘entrance’ at the Temple of Delphi in ancient Greece cautions: gnothi seauton – know thyself. And know ourselves, we will need to, like when we learn to crack jokes with ourselves when the going gets tough: remembering to remember what will help when we are too tired to think. 

There are so many ways we do-it-ourselves as we get distance done. But if you are looking for practical hydration advice for early miles, I can recommend giving the Orange Mud Handheld a try, even if you think it is too hard to carry water that way. I myself doubted that I’d manage but I did, and even came to love it. In fact, I find it so easy to carry that I sometimes bring it to work – where Orange Mud works for me.

Guest post by GG, from Serbia. Thanks Greta!

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Distance August 30 2016, 0 Comments


Gaining distance is easier when it’s looked into. At least that’s what I tell myself as I try to keep my head up after mile 20 on some days. As if by seeing the distance, I can get there. It’s funny how so much of what we tell ourselves as we run or train hard can sound like philosophy. Take this line from the novel ThePower of One that I am sure came out of doing drills: “The mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter….”

Covering distance is one of the reasons I have run in certain periods in my life, but I did not know that distance running was a genre until I began researching handheld water bottles when I wanted to buy one. I currently live in Eastern Europe, away from the superfluity of product displays. I didn’t like what came up on Amazon so went off-road in my search and discovered ultra blogs. I learned of landscapes I’d never known I could even imagine running over – and also, Orange Mud.

The name Orange Mud brings to my mind Grand Canyon oranges and all its expanses, exactly the kind of mythical terrain I dream of running across one day. Orange Mud gear itself began as an athlete’s vision and is conscientiously made.To have the gear is to be part of a dream.

And why not focus on great visions? They help, though it’s true they have to be fought for. And even if they aren’t attained in their entirety, by chasing after them just like “chasing trees” down the road when a run seems like it’s gone on way too long, it makes philosophers out of us. Once I was an asthmatic child. Now I run 60 miles a week and have a little story to tell about my first handheld. The concept of what’s “too far away” begins to change with consistent training. 

Maybe the protagonist in The Power of One says it best: “The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated.”

Guest post by GG, from Serbia. Thanks Greta!

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Ultra Bond August 18 2016, 2 Comments

By Randy Zuniga

Mile 40, bent over with cramps, half way through an eight mile climb. “Gel? Bar? What do you need?” I looked past my legs behind me and saw the upside down view of a thigh pinned bib. The cramps passed and I stood back up. “I’m hurtin’.” I moved off the single track to let the Runner pass. “Come with me. We’ll go together. What’s your name?”

This is what you find in the Ultrarunning community. A group of people who root for each other while competing against one another during a race or even out on a training run. And when these people aren’t running in the races they’re volunteering at them in the aid stations and on the trail.

SURF (San Diego Ultra Running Friends) is a group in San Diego that completely supports their local races and the runners who compete in them. Yesterday there was a training run for The Cuyamaca 100K. SURF had an 18 mile training run along the course and finished with a picnic with a great spread of food provided by the organization. The elites ran with the middle of the packers and the middle of the packers with the back of the packers. One runner referred to it as the “accordion effect.” The elites would take off then stop and wait -- the rest of the group would follow. Everyone would spread out then come together… Spread out then come together… All the while encouraging one another, giving and receiving advice, and exchanging gear tips.

SURF Training run for noble canyon 50k

I’m not running the Cuyamaca 100K this fall. I have my sights set on another race the weekend before. But, I want to give back to the community that I feel I have gotten so much from. I told the Race Director that I wanted to volunteer for his race and with a smirk he responded… “I’m going to give you all of the shittiest jobs.” And I knew at that point we were buddies.

Last year I ran the 100K with my brother -- at mile 56, he could barely bend over and tie his shoes. He had small rocks that had worked their way into his shoes between his toes. The aid station crew sat him down, took off his shoes, and cleaned his greasy feet with their bare hands without even flinching! They threw his shoes back on and sent him on his way.

At an aid station during a different race, my wife lost her wallet. The aid station manager knowing it was probably someone’s involved in the race -- called the bank on the debit card -- within an hour my wife got a phone call from her bank, was told where she could pick up her wallet, and had it back in her hands.

Ultrarunners are good honest people who bond together for the love of the trails and friendships that are born on them. People who pick you up when you’re in a dark place with miles of trail left in front of you and vice versa. People who clean the crud off of your sweaty feet and people who just want to help you succeed while even trying to give a wallet back to your loved one. Overall, just an amazing group of people… Actually, not just people, but friends. Friends who can run incredible long distances.

That runner who came up behind me on that 8 mile climb while I was wrecked with cramps ended up finishing that race. I was unable to “right the ship”. I didn’t know him, but when I found out he finished I couldn’t help but smile to myself.

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Mishaps From a Newbie Trail Runner: What Not To Do August 17 2016, 1 Comment

Mishaps From a Newbie Trail Runner: What Not To Do

You always read articles about tips to make you better at something. Well, I don't have enough trail running experience (only about a year), to give you that but I can tell you some tips, (some comical)  on what not to do when setting out on your next trail run if you, too, are in the beginner boat!

1. Don't wear road shoes! Don't say I didn't warn you. Been there done that. Here's what happens. 

On the descent I went down and I wasn't injured in the fall so it is comical now to look back on! There is a reason trail shoes exist. The terrain is different than the road and you need to be equipped for it.

2. Don't pick an unmarked trail- you will get lost and the Blair Witch Project will start to haunt you.  I may be aging myself but I've been lost my fair share of times and at dusk I seriously get the heebie-jeebies and start thinking about this movie from the late 90s. In it, two filmmakers disappeared while hiking and their film footage is discovered a year later. I don't want my Gopro footage to be the last remembrance of me so I stick to marked trails these days... hey, it could happen.

3. Don't shuffle -you will fall. Pick your feet up. There are lots of obstacles on the trails and after you trip over something, like a root, you'll remember this one.

4. Don't run your road pace - you will sputter out. The trail is not the place for ego or pride. Check it at the trail start. Your main concern is your safety, not your speed. Your pace will be dramatically slower than on the road. The scenery will also be worth looking at, so don't speed past it. The first time you do try to run your road pace will be your last.

5. Don't run empty handed - you will die. Joking, but a vest, pack or belt of some sort to carry hydration and fuel is a good idea.  This is where no matter how short of a trail run or hike you think you are going on, you may end up doing #2 and get lost, so you would be wise to be stocked up on water and fuel.  I like to carry my Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest Pack 1. I can fill the pockets up with fuel, chapstick, my phone, my Gopro, additional water if necessary, my keys, and even fit a change of clothes.

6. Don't wear headphones - then you can't hear the snakes and bears, just kidding, I meant then you can’t hear nature's beauty, of course! Truthfully, it’s a safety concern. Not wise to wear them. Save them for the road.

7. Don't look up while running - I don't think I need to explain. You’ll faceplant.

8. Don't be afraid to walk - with steep inclines, declines and different terrains, it's okay to walk. It's a trail! Enjoy it.

9. Don't forget your phone - for Uber.  Joking! In case of emergency and for pics of course (an action camera is great, too)!

I'm guilty of all of these "don'ts" so I feel like I've excelled at not excelling at trail running.  I'm hoping my bad experience can help you avoid making some of the same. I plan to keep at it and continue to learn as I go!  Do you have any "don'ts" to add to my list? Would love to hear from you!


Jess Runs Blessed



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Want a chance to win a free pack? Here's how! August 17 2016, 2 Comments

We love our new Endurance Pack. It's super light, breathable, great for ride and run, has quick access pockets, and fits almost anyone. You know what we also love? You're pretty face telling us why you love running or riding. So if you want a chance to win a free pack, follow the steps below and if you're video is chosen by the end of August you'll get a brand spankin new one!

Here are the steps.

  1. Sign up for our newsletter
  2. Post a video to Facebook/Twitter/IG, any of them, or all of them is good, telling us why you love riding or running. 
  3. Tag #WINSOMEMUD in your post, and tag some friends too! Sharing is caring right? 
  4. Follow us on IG/Twitter/FB!

Prize details.

  • 1st place prize = Endurance Pack
  • 2nd place prize = Transition Wrap
  • 3rd place prize = Hat of your choice from 


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Best Core Stabilization Exercises For Runners July 26 2016, 0 Comments

Best Core Stabilization Exercises For Runners

Author Bio: Andrew is the founder and CEO at Aim Workout.

As a passionate fitness professional and triathlete, there is no adventure he won’t embark on. From mountain biking, deep sea diving, rock climbing and cycling to boxing and mixed martial arts, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.

Runners do not need to perform major strength training exercises several times a week to be able to run longer or faster. It makes no sense for them to be bench pressing or doing lat pulldowns, bicep curls, shoulder presses or any other strength and bodybuilding exercises because they have no carry over or effect on running form or endurance whatsoever. However, runners, irrespective of their speciality, whether it be marathons or shorter events, can benefit immensely from strengthening their core muscles and working on their balance.

Here is a list of a few core stability and performance enhancing exercises that will improve your endurance and stability so you run longer and harder with minimal risk of injury or fatigue. 

The following exercises will improve lumbo-pelvic stability (or core), thus optimizing abdominal integrity, efficiency of movement and adequate absorption of ground impact forces. For the best results, one should perform the exercises 3-4 times a week and progress gradually as strength and balance builds from 1-2 sets of 15 reps to 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps for each exercise.

  1. Clam Shells

Clam shells activate and strengthen the gluteus medius and minimus muscles. The gluteus medius is a “hip abductor that moves the leg out to the side and plays a major role in controlling the sideways tilting of the pelvis” ( Strong glutes help improve athletic performance, injury prevention and help maintain weight among other benefits. 

To perform clam shells, first lie down on a mat and get comfortable by lying on your side. Extend and place one arm under your head and keep the other on your side. Make sure that your torso, hips and extended arm are aligned in a straight line and that your back is neutral.

Now, with one leg on the ground lift your knee upwards and outwards. Remember to keep your hips stable and avoid any hip movement during the exercise. SImply lift the knee as far as is comfortable and return it to its normal position. Start with 2 sets of 10 reps on each side and move onto 3 sets of 15 reps over time.

  1. Hip Raises

Hip raises although simple are an extremely effective exercise that engage the entire stabilization, activating the transverse abdominus, glutes as well as the hamstrings.

For starters, tuck the hips and engage your transverse abdominus. This will allow you to lift your spine off the floor safely while maintaining a neutral spine position. Next use your glutes to raise your hips. This is important because unless you use your glutes, you won’t successfully activate the areas that are responsible for optimal running stability. Using your lower back instead of your glutes will only inhibit proper movement and limit progress with the exercise.

Once you reach top of the movement, squeeze your glutes and hold for 5-10 secs before lowering your body back to the ground. Do not drop your butt on the floor, but rather lower it gradually.

Start with 2 sets of 10 and progress to 3 sets of 15 reps.

  1. Runner Pulls

Standing runner pulls are a great exercise for improving core stability that mimics actual running form. By slowing down the movement and focusing on balance and core strength, one becomes aware of the mechanics of their running form as well as of the all the muscles involved in making the movement happen.

Although it’s possible to perform this exercise with a stretch cord, you’re better if you have access to a home gym with a high and low pulley system.

Stand tall with your weight on midfoot some distance from the pulley and grasp the pulley handle with your left hand. Now raise the left knee and balance on the opposite leg. Lean forward until your torso is close to parallel with the floor then pull and bring your knee back to the starting position while simultaneously twisting your torso toward your opposite leg.

Work your way up to 3 sets of 10-15 reps.

  1. Planks

The plank is perhaps the all round best exercise for enhancing strength and stability in the entire lumbo-pelvic region. However, unless performed with proper technique and the prerequisite gradual progression, it could do more harm than good.

Most people end up using either extending their lower back to far to compensate for their lack of core stability or kick their butt up in the air and transfer weight to their shoulders and arms to avoid engaging their core because of the burn they feel. Well, folks it’s all about the burn. But, for starters you should work on form and engaging the right muscles.

To successfully perform the plank, you need to activate the transverse abdomimus and the core. You do this by maintaining a straight line from your head to your legs and squeezing your glutes (pretend you holding a card with your butt cheeks). You need to using the same muscles you feel when you’re laughing like a maniac.

Start by holding the plank for intervals of 10-20 secs and work up to 1-2 mins. 

  1. Side Plank Knee to Chest

The Side Plank Knee to Chest is another great performance enhancing exercise for runners. However, you do need good core strength before you attempt this. Begin in a side plank and rest your shins on a balance ball. You’ll need to balance on one arm and your shins during the length of the exercise, so make sure you have good strength to be able to do this. 

Drive you knee upwards towards your chest, while moving the same arm backwards as in proper running motion. The motion recruits the core, scapular stabilizers and muscles down the leg.

Perform 10-12 reps for 2 sets on either side and work your static holds up to 45secs-1m.

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Why is my Treadmill Pace so Wonky!? July 22 2016, 0 Comments

Whether it is focused speed work, hill repeats, or a break from the elements, there are times when we break away from the great outdoors and hit the treadmill for some of our training.

How many times have you gotten on the treadmill and noticed how much different the treadmill pace was to your Garmin, Suunto, etc. watch?   This is actually where technology has gotten the best of me!   I have come obsessed with looking at data from my runs and studying the rise and fall in my heartrate, my pace over different terrains and temperatures, or making sure that I continue to maintain a consistent cadence even on my climbs.   If you are like me, much of that seems to go out the window as soon as I step on the treadmill.   While much of the running dynamics captured are still very consistent whether I am running on the treadmill, road, or trail, there is one measurement that causes me great pain; The pace!

It never fails, when I hit the treadmill my pace is typically FAR off from what the treadmill says I should be running.   The treadmill may say a 9:00 min/mi but when I look at my Garmin it says 7:00 min/mi.   For the longest time I just attributed this to my cadence thinking that I was just naturally running faster than the treadmill and it was ok.

Today on the treadmill I discovered something fascinating!   Keep in mind I have googled this problem several times and I never really find a valid answer. The typical answer is they won’t match, the treadmill may not be calibrated, or some other random reason on why there is a difference.   The end-state is the same. Many people seem to have just accepted this!   Well, I may be able to offer you some information that can change that!

Without getting into the technical details, most of the fitness watches measure your “indoor” pace based on the accelerometer that exists in the watch and/or heartrate monitor! (If you are one of those that uses a footpod, this will not apply to you as your times are already pretty close!).   Many of the watches “learn” your running dynamics over time and then use this same information to calculate your indoor pace when there is no GPS signal available or when you are running on a treadmill!   This is actually where I have discovered what has been impacting “my” pace on the treadmill! 

When I am running outside, I carry a handheld on the majority of my runs and I carry this handheld in the same hand that I wear a watch.   On a treadmill though my hand is empty as I put my bottle in the beer / Pringles holder.   While it may have been obvious to most people, I never took into account the difference that carrying a handheld had on my running dynamics. In the case of my hill repeats on the treadmill, that difference was approximately a 1:00 min/mi difference!   At one point during my run today I grabbed my bottle for a drink and held onto it.   When I glanced at my watch this time I was amazed; the pace between my watch and the treadmill was only off by 5 sec!

For the duration of my workout I continued to experiment and came up with a couple solutions to increase your pace accuracy on the treadmill if you are also one that runs with a handheld;

1) Begin carrying your handheld in the opposite hand (non-watch hand) while running outside; This approach will then recalibrate your watch so running on the treadmill without the handheld will be more accurate.

2) Run on the treadmill just as you do outside. If you carry a handheld, carry that handheld on the treadmill. This will ensure that your range of motion while running is in sync whether you are running inside or outside.

So if you are like me and have been plagued with this treadmill pace accuracy issue, hopefully this shed some light on what I have experienced!

Miles and smiles!

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#TrainWithOrangeMud Update – Mallory Billings-Litke July 18 2016, 0 Comments

#TrainWithOrangeMud Update – Mallory Billings-Litke


It's been just a few weeks since I officially became an ultra-marathoner! I ran the Pineland Farms 50k in Maine over Memorial Day Weekend and it was amazing! I feel like I completely lucked out the entire weekend. On the day before the race, it was 90 degrees and sunny. I was dripping in sweat just setting up the tent at the campground down the street. Packet pick-up was a breeze and everyone was in a great mood. For lunch I had pasta and for dinner I met up with some new friends for dinner of grilled cheese and french fries. That night I slept great and I felt refreshed when I woke up. I struggled to eat breakfast because I was nervous about the race and I had my typical pre-race jitters. I had my Tailwind nutrition all packed in my Orange Mud bottles and I was off. I used my HydraQuiver Double Barrel Hydration Pack for the race and was able to carry my music, extra nutrition, inhaler and phone. I wore it with my Orange Mud singlet and didn't experience ANY chafing with the pack. The gun went off and I took off at lightning speed. Okay, that part isn't true but I did start running. My plan was to run the downhills and flats and walk the uphills, and to eat some food at each aid station. My plan worked marvelously and at each aid station I had Swedish Fish, potato chips and Mountain Dew. It was the magical elixir. All of the volunteers were friendly, the other racers were funny. The temperature was at a perfect 60 degrees and overcast; ideal running weather. As I was coming to the cross-section of the first loop, I saw my wife cheering for me, which really gave me a boost. She ran with me for a couple hundred yards and then helped me figure out what I needed from my drop bag. When I came back through, I changed my socks and kept moving along. I was feeling great and ready to finish this thing! I finished the first loop and was onto the second one. My playlist was rockin' and I was moving along easily. With just over 5 miles left, my wife joined me and was surprised at how comfortably I was moving. I passed over a dozen people in the last couple of miles. My wife positioned herself to get a great video of me crossing the finish line. I crossed the line with my arms pumping above my head and a huge smile plastered on my face. I felt incredibly accomplished and proud of myself. I gathered my cowbell "medal", water bottle and Darn Tough socks as my finisher's swag. I sat down for some food and some beers and enjoyed the afternoon. Headed back to the campground for a shower and then into town for dinner. At dinner, I could barely stay awake, even laying down on the booth at one point. We made it back to the campsite and I fell asleep pretty early. We woke to rain and scurried out of town. On the way home all I could think about was that I never hit any low points during the race and honestly felt good the entire time. I guess my strong, consistent, training really paid off. It was an amazing first ultra experience and I would recommend this race to anyone. 

Fast forward to this week. I started my 50 mile training. I hired the same coach as I had for my 50k training because I had such great luck and support from him. I'm a few days in and feeling motivated. This will be an exciting journey and you can follow it on my Instagram account @RunYoginiRun 

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How to Keep Your Skin Healthy While Exercising July 15 2016, 0 Comments

How to Keep Your Skin Healthy While Exercising

How to Keep Your Skin Healthy While Exercising 

As much as we love the warmth and relaxation of summertime, those few months still come with a few downsides. The heat can make even the toughest athlete want to climb inside the freezer rather than go out and exercise. For those brave enough to stick to their daily fitness routines, the UV rays and constant sweat can cause some serious skin problems. Runners are adept at taking care of the inside of their bodies, but what about the outside? Here are some musts for summer skin fitness.

Use Moisturizer with SPF

Hydrate. Wear sunscreen. These are our summer mantras, and should be all year round. But sunscreen has a habit of dripping into your eyes when you sweat, and the heavy oil ends up feeling a little gross. Instead of trying to remember to smear it on just before leaving, make sun protection a part of your daily hygiene routine. Get a light facial moisturizer with SPF and a heavier one for the rest of your body. If you install this routine between brushing your teeth and flossing, you’re not likely to forget again. 


Mix heat, dirt, sweat, and sunscreen and you get clogged pores. To avoid this, wash your face with warm water pre-workout to wipe off bacteria or makeup, and wash again when you’re done. Since you don’t always have the luxury of taking a shower or waiting around for a gym sink to start pumping out warm water, stock your gym bag with disposable cleansing cloths or Quick Fix Spray made for athletes. Make sure to get a shower scrubber with a long handle so that you don’t miss your middle or upper back when you do get a chance to rinse off.

Go Easy on the Hair Products

A rich, scented conditioner feels wonderful on your hair. But when sweat makes it leech down your face, neck, and back, it can cause a breakout that feels anything but luxuriant. Take it easy on the hair primping routine, or choose all-natural products without heavy fragrances.

Wear the Right Fabric 

Wear a moisture-wicking fabric like a cotton/nylon blend. While tight-fitting clothes seem like less fabric, loose items will help your skin breathe better. The more you air out, the less sweat will be trapped on your skin.

Treat Yourself to a Home Spa Day

Even with frequent maintenance and good habits, there are days when our skin just needs to heal. If you’ve gotten a little sunburned lately, stay inside and lather yourself in aloe vera. If you’ve been hitting the trail hard, exfoliate your feet and treat any blisters. Make a healing face mask out of Indian clay and water to cleanse your pores. There’s no rulebook that says you have to exercise every day, so give yourself a little time off to get fully well before going back at it.

Do a Proper Cooldown

You can start preparing for your cooldown before you even exercise. Get your home ready by turning on the air conditioning and closing all the blinds to prevent sunlight warming the room. If you don’t like wasting the money on cooling your house while you’re out and about, consider getting a smart thermostat to manage your HVAC system from your phone—something that we at Home Improvement Leads can’t live without. The sooner you get cool, the less you’ll sweat. If you’re in a private area, take off your sweaty clothes and hydrate deeply to keep your skin healthy.

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#TrainWithOrangeMud Update – Jenny Nakamura July 05 2016, 0 Comments

As you know, Orange Mud has been following along on my journey to my 10th marathon at the Vancouver USA Marathon and on Sunday that journey came to a end.

My fastest marathon to date was my second the 2013 New York City Marathon when I ran a 4:35:46. I trained like crazy for this race, through a hot Phoenix summer, up to 24 miles for my long run. I had a coach and a nutritionist and I followed my plan to a T.

Fast forward 2.5 years and 7 more marathons and my training has changed significantly.   No longer am I following a traditional training plan and in the last 4 months I’ve run a lot of races including 2 – 50Ks & one 50 miler, along with a lot of back to back runs.

Since I’ve been venturing into the ultra world, my training has changed and while I have nothing against a traditional plan currently my preferred method of training is a mix of trail & road and using races as training runs. I will say, if you are a first time marathoner or have other more aggressive time goals, this is probably not the way to go about your training J but it worked for me.

It’s been a long time since I even had a shot at a PR, with my last 4 marathons coming in at over 5 hours, not something I’m ashamed of at all especially since I haven’t made it a focus. At some point, I changed my focus from the time on the clock to the journey, but this year I felt compelled to see if I could PR and I thank Orange Mud for giving me a little push to embark on this journey and keeping me accountable.

Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get to the race. The Vancouver USA Marathon is a small race, there were 459 finishers.

Jenny Nakamura

We arrived at the start around 6:20am race day morning. The race would start at 7am for the marathoners. A unique thing for this race was that the half marathoners started 2 hours later than the marathoners so we were able to finish the race with more people around vs. most races when the slower marathoners are finishing by themselves.

Since there were only 459 people, it was a pretty quick start. I started out just ahead of the 4:30 pace group and quickly made my way up to the 4:15 pace group where I would stay for the next 7 miles. I was feeling pretty good and this part of the course was relatively flat. It was quite beautiful and I wish I’d taken some photos but I wasn’t really thinking about that at the time. The first 13 miles took us west of the city, mostly on the side of the road or on a path, we even had a small stretch of gravel trail.

As we made our way back to the halfway point, I fell off the 4:15 pace group, which I wasn’t really surprised at. I remember being so thirsty, I think I went through 2 Orange Mud bottles in the first 9 miles. And I only had 2 extra bags of liquid calories, which would prove to not be enough. I was wearing my Vest Pack 1 so I was able to stash my baggies of calorie mix in the pocket.

Once we got to the half way point, the hills started. They were only around 100 – 200 feet but they felt like they were mountains by that point. Lol. It was also around this point when we started to see the slower half marathoners – I passed the 3:00 pace group and a bunch of walkers in this section. Fortunately the road was wide enough that it wasn’t a huge issue.

I kept trying to calculate in my head how fast I needed to go to PR. And I knew it was going to be tight especially with the hills.

When the 4:30 pacers passed me at mile 17 I knew I needed to kick it up a notch. Unfortunately the lack of calories became a problem and I started feeling a bit nauseous when I picked up the pace so I had to back it down a bit. I know some people don’t care if they get sick, but I would rather slow down than throw up.

As we got closer to end of the race, the mile markers for the full & half were getting farther and farther apart & my Garmin was behind by .2 miles so I wasn’t exactly sure where I was in conjunction to the finish. I saw the sign for mile 25 and then mile 12 sign was less than a half a mile from the finish so I was really confused until I was almost at the last turn towards the finish.

I tried to pick it up but again I thought I started to feel sick so I just kept going as fast as I could until I crossed the finish line to Bart Yasso congratulating me and calling my name at 4:36:10, 25 seconds from a PR. Of course I was disappointed, but as I mentioned before I haven’t run under a 5 hour marathon in over a year so to get as close as I did to my PR as I did, was pretty darn awesome!

Jenny Nakamura

It definitely gave me back my marathon confidence and I am so excited to see what I can do at the New York City Marathon in November, where I’m running with the James Blake Foundation (, for my brother-in-law David, who was diagnosed with cancer in May. With the proper calorie intake and a bit more speed & hill work, I’m sure I go even faster, especially with the crowd support from the city of New York.

Again, a huge Thank You to Orange Mud for your support and amazing products.


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Runner Files: Ramon Hernandez June 30 2016, 0 Comments

Runner Files: Ramon Hernandez

Age: 42

Home location: Okemos, Michigan

Sport: Running

Profession and educational background: I've been working at General Motors for 21 years. I recently switched to a quality launch position. After graduating high school I spent a couple of years at Lansing Community collage.

Years in sport of any kind: I've been running since I was 15 years old and recently discovered ultra running. So I've been running for about 27 years.

Sports participated in: I ran cross country and track growing up.

Years in current sport: 4 years in ultra running

What got you started: Failure. I failed miserably at being physically fit at a young age and was always out of breath. I learned early that if I wanted something I had to work hard and go after it.

Other personal information you would like to share: I flew for the first time at age 41. I love chocolate ice cream.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport? My biggest accomplishment to date is my 148 mile run across Michigan to raise awareness and funds for Team Keegan. A local 501 (C) that helps kids with cancer.

What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success? I have found that cross training helps keep me on my game. Over the years I have been one dimensional from a sport and training perspective. Once I crossed over to ultra running it was clear I had many weaknesses and imbalances. Focusing on my lower body and strengthening my core along with an overall body maintenance has kept me on track.

What would be your ultimate achievement? If you'd ask me this when I first started running I'd tell you that I would want to be fast. Now my ultimate achievement is to enjoy the run, give back and make some good friends along the way.

How do you set your goals? I'm always looking to be challenged mentally and physically. I just take each run like its my last and make the best out of it. I'm always looking to conquer new experiences.

What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge? Finding balance in what I love to do is my biggest challenge. From work, family and more work it can and has been challenging to balance my passion for running with everything else. I just take it one day at a time and make the best of every moment.

What is your diet like? I've struggled in this area over the years trying everything. I've learned what works best for me is eating sensibly. A mix of whole foods to vegan snacks. I enjoy a good pizza every once and a while. You know, living on the wild side. 

How did you find Orange Mud? Favorite Product? I was in search of something better from the packs I was purchasing and I stumbled on Orange Mud. I really like the VP1 and HydraQuiver single barrel.

Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)? I really recommend the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. If you read it it will put an interesting spin on what you think you know about running.

Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it? My breakthrough came soon after I started ultra running. Over the years I've progressed to a minimalist when it comes wearing shoes. Years of injuries and improper running form was taking its toll on me mentally and physically. Once I switched to running in LUNA sandals everything I thought I knew about running changed. I run more naturally now, free of pain and injury. It's the closest thing to running bare foot.

What was the best advice you were ever given? The best advise I was ever given was to just have fun with it and enjoy the run. I take this advice on every run and for me it has made all the difference.

Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by? I am the me I choose to be. ~Sidney Poitier

Where do you draw your inspiration from? I draw my inspiration from the simple things in life. There is beauty in simplicity and when you strip back all of today's noise you can't help but be inspired to live.

Have you struggled with any injuries? How do you manage them? I have struggled with hip problems, IT issues, feet problems, knee problems, hernias and just about anything you could think of from running related injuries. I've been able to stay on top of things by strengthen my weaknesses, switching to running in LUNA sandals and finding the right gear that best fits me( hint hint Orange Mud Gear)

Anything else you’d like to share? I'm a Gemini, my favorite color is green and I'm a proud grandpa.

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Ways Yoga Enhances a Runner’s Life (and How to Make Space for It) June 17 2016, 0 Comments

The benefits of yoga are lauded nearly as often as the benefits of eating organic. There’s no doubt the practice is good for both the mind and body, but athletes who are busy pursuing other sports and fitness activities may not feel that yoga is necessary. But for runners, yoga can act as one half a whole exercise pie; where running helps improve cardiovascular fitness and maintain a healthy weight, yoga increases muscle tone, flexibility and focus. Here are a few of the benefits yoga offers to runners:

Getting in Tune with Your Body

Runners are so adept at pushing through pain, and while this is a commendable show of mental and physical strength, it’s not always easy on the body. Yoga gives you the opportunity to get in tune with tired muscles, to build and stretch them while simultaneously giving them a break. Through yoga, you may be able to sense an injury closing in and prevent it. It can also ease the pain of current injuries, and may offer an alternative workout when pain sidelines you.

Building up Your Core

    Running is an amazing workout, but if you’ve ever seen someone with a beer belly finish a marathon, you know that running alone won’t give you the core of a Greek deity. But strengthening your core outside of running can make you an even better runner. Yoga challenges and builds these muscles, allowing you to become a better runner.

    Breathing Mindfully

      With every pose and transition in yoga, breathing is of paramount importance. Slowing down the breath allows you to hold a pose longer and even puts you in a more calm state of mind. Learning to focus on the breath can help you build better habits that will allow your muscles the oxygen they need to sustain a run.

      Setting up a Yoga Space at Home

      If running is your preferred form of exercise, you may not want to commit to a gym or class membership in order to casually do yoga. But you can make room for yoga even in a small home or apartment. If you need more space in your living area, consider decorating with lightweight furniture pieces that can easily roll out of the way, or get furniture sliders to make moving your current furnishings easier.

      Use your yoga mat to measure your space. You don’t need a whole room dedicated to the practice, just an area where you can stretch out your limbs. But go beyond claiming an open corner of your home; make sure that you feel at peace and able to concentrate in the area you choose. Let light flood in through your windows, play calming music, or hang a large photo of nature right in your line of sight. Try to declutter the space and avoid distractions. Move technology like your laptop and phone to the other side of the room while you’re escaping into the practice. You’ll be doing your mind and your body good.

      Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an editor and writer for with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

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      11 Father's Day Gift Ideas June 06 2016, 0 Comments

      Our fathers make a big impact on our lives. I know mine taught me how to live off the land, fix pretty much anything with duct tape and a knife, be strong when you need to, humble when you don't, and always did the right thing regardless of popularity. Picking a cool gift is always tricky, but we have 11 ideas below for you. 

      Endurance Pack - $134.95 - Dads love epic adventures. This hydration vest pack is designed to take them there. From running any trail, bombing down a killer singletrack, hiking wherever, kayaking down a gnarly river, descending down a powdery slope, or any other outdoor adventure you want to tackle. Rock star dad Tim C below just ran 100 miles in 108F temps this past weekend in it. We give a grade A thumbs up to him! 

      Tim Christoni

      Modular Gym Bag - $169.95 - Great for a weekend trip, training, racing, or a trip to the gym. Carry on friendly, made in the USA, built insanely tough, and the last gym bag he'll ever need.

      Modular Gym Bag

      Transition and Seat Wrap - $39.95 - Dad is awesome, but when he sweats he smells. So why not give him a way of protecting his car seat, while also providing a tool for changing at the trail-head without mooning the neighbors. 

      Changing towel and seat cover - Transition Wrap

      UHTP - Sale $169.95 - Built for the daily grind or armageddon. Materials on this every day carry bag start with ballistic nylon originally designed for fighter pilot flak jackets and industrial grade seat belt webbing. Superman Dad Ramon Hernandez modeling this below.

      UHTP Olive Every Day Carry Pack

      5 Panel Black Trucker - $22.95 - Protect your dad's noggin in the hot summer sun, while looking like a boss doing so with this black trucker. We have an amazing crew of dads on our team, and below are just a handful of super humans modeling our various hats! 

      Running Hats

      Custom Machined Ink Pen - Karas Customs - $40 and up - I'm a nerd about custom machined things. These guys out of Phoenix, AZ make some killer ink pens out of raw bar stock aluminum, titanium, and brass. 

      Make Your Own Backcountry Beer - Backcountry Beverages - $49.95 - Your pap can likely build a satellite uplink via duct tape, an old cell phone and chewing gum, but can he make his own beer in the back country? Well now he can. 

      HydraQuiver VP2 - $149.95 - For journeys over an hour nutrition becomes essential. Tailwind makes some great products for epic adventures. Pick up some sticks or a big bag of their goodness so dad can stay strong throughout his next endurance event. This trail running superstar dad Joshua Creo Watson was rocking our VP2 on a beautiful trail. 

      Joshua Creo Watson VP2

      Injinji Socks - $Varies - Putting on these socks can be a pain, they look a little funny too, but function is more critical to most dads. I wear these things on all sorts of trail running and hiking adventures and even occasionally with flip flops around the house. You can't do that well with a normal sock! 

      SweetWood Cattle Co Meat Sticks - $25.00 - These guys make some wicked awesome beef sticks. No Nitrates or added MSG, a bunch of great flavors, and individually packed for a random snack or backcountry eating. 

      Dad doesn't eat meat? Checkout Primal Strips - $16.99 - This sampler pack of meatless jerky tastes great but uses soy, seitan, and/or shiitake mushrooms for a great tasting snack. 

      Any of these gifts should put a big smile on your dad's face. What other ideas do you have? 


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      Making Ice Baths Bearable June 02 2016, 0 Comments

      Article by: Margaret Owensby

      Ice baths.  It’s a love hate relationship for most athletes.  We run a bath full of cold water, throw in twenty to thirty pounds of ice, put on a sweatshirt and prepare a hot beverage.  Then we step in to the bath, and give a squeal as the bath is so cold it can actually be painful.  We shiver our way through fifteen minutes, then jump up and in to the hottest shower we can stand, in order to stop the shivering.  Does this sound about right?

      I'd rather run away than take an ice bath!

      About two years ago I was running a half marathon, and struck up a conversation with another runner.  We had one of those conversations that you can only have on a race course, and it ended up leading to a discussion about self-care after a race.  I told her about my aversion to ice baths, despite the fact that they made my legs feel so much better, and she told me her way of making them bearable.  Are you ready for this?  It’s life changing!

      First of all, do not run a cold bath!  What madness is this that you speak of?  Run a tepid bath, a little cooler than is comfortable, but easy to step in to.  After you have run the bath, and have seated yourself in the water, add the first ten pounds of ice.  Wait a couple minutes and adjust to the temperature, then add the next ten pounds.  For me, at about fifteen minutes the ice has mostly melted and I add another ten pounds.  At this point the water is really cold, but it is not painful!  I usually hang out about twenty to twenty five minutes total, and then take a warm shower to finish washing off all of the sweat.  My legs will stay cool to the touch, and therefor fighting inflammation and painful recovery, for a few hours.

      This was life changing for me, as now I can easily handle taking an ice bath after a really hard workout, and it has sped up my recovery.  Bearable ice baths…who would have thought?

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      Runner Files: Annie Weiss May 31 2016, 0 Comments

      Runner Files: Annie Weiss

      Home location: Milwaukee, WI
      Sport: Ultra-Distance Running
      Profession and educational background: I am a registered and certified dietitian (MS) working with eating disorder patients and athletes day to day on how to eat appropriately to live or perform their sport. In addition, I am a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor.
      Years in sport of any kind: Running since 2008
      Sports participated in: Road Running and Ultra-Running
      Years in current sport: Road: 2008-current; Trail/Ultra: 2011-current
      What got you started: I thought it would be a good idea to get the half marathon off my bucket list and it took off from there!
      Other personal information you would like to share: The Boston Marathon is my absolute favorite road race of all time. I love trail running even more because of the physical and mental challenge it presents no matter where I run.

      What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport?

      I was ranked 6th in the state (WI) in 2011 for the marathon. I currently ultra/trail run and my biggest accomplishment is placing 5th at Black Canyon in 2015 and continuously placing in the top 3 in all Midwest races since starting on the trails.

      What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?

      cycle and hike. A lot. Cross training is huge for ultra-distance training and as valuable to ones success as a runner. I listen to my coach – it seems easy but so many athletes don’t do that! I listen to him because he is the expert and I’ve avoiding injury!

      What would be your ultimate achievement?

      I want to make the Altra Running team and place in the top 3 at Leadville this year, or Western States – when I get in (hopefully next year!).

      How do you set your goals?

      I set goals very high. If one sets goals that are limited they will never know their potential. I set goals to make the Olympic team or place at the most competitive races because they are limitless!

      What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?

      My biggest challenge is living in WI – there are no mountains or altitude. Its challenging but we make it work.

      What is your diet like?

      I am a dietitian. There is no such thing as a bad food, and athletes should not be dieting. Its all about moderation and living life. Following the 80/20 is what I do most – I eat whole grains, fruits, veggies, and plant proteins (I do not eat animal flesh) 80% of the time but 20% of the time – I enjoy myself! Treats are needed physically and mentally. It works, I promise.

      How did you find Orange Mud? Favorite Product?

      A friend recommended it to me! I absolutely love the handheld bottles. I have struggled to find a handheld that doesn’t leak or break or chafe me – this one is perfect! I highly recommend it. I have a hunch the bladder pack will be my second fav too. ;-)

      Do you have any recommended resources to share (books, seminars, websites, coaches)?

      I have to be biased and recommend my website for those needing nutritional guidance… I also recommend staying on top of the latest races and places to travel to race – it keeps things exciting in the running world.

      Have you experienced a breakthrough, and if so, what led to it?

      I am a great road runner, but with my past over training I have a lot of potential for injury; its not helping me – so my breakthrough was switching to trails/ultra-running and nurturing that talent.

      What was the best advice you were ever given?

      The best advice I was given – RELAX. So much of our success and failures are based on stress. We need to stop worrying so much and be relaxing in training, racing, and everyday life. It goes by too quickly otherwise.

      Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?

      I have learned to live with balance or moderation. I watch too many patients/clients live their life based on how others want them to live, and because of how society tells them to live. I want to be me and enjoy my life! 

      Where do you draw your inspiration from?

      I draw from my teammates on the Orange Mud, Altra, Swiftwick, and Fluid Nutrition teams – its inspiring to see what these incredible athletes are doing in their sport.

      Have you struggled with any injuries?

      How do you manage them? I have struggled with many! When I started to run, I was overtraining and needed PT on both IT bands; I also tore both glut medius muscles, had 3 fractures in my legs, and now currently live with sciatica because in the past, I didn’t listen to my coach as I should have. I manage my sciatica by listening to my coach! And also stretching, rolling, and ensuring my pace doesn’t get too speedy for too long at a time – a marathon is typically okay for speed work.

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      Denny Hodge #TrainWithOrangeMud Update! May 27 2016, 0 Comments

      "Embrace the suck."

      I hear that in my head when I’m training. The Marines beat that into my head and it never leaves me. When things get tough, there it is again and again. Training can get grueling, and you already know at times it's going to hurt. You also know that if you run long enough -- or run distances that most people drive on their daily commute -- that it's usually just a matter of time before things go bad. Confidence can unravel almost instantly. The most careful preparations and plans can quickly become secondary to just surviving another mile. Another step even.

      But with me, that reminder tells me that this is the BEST part of training. I don't meditate in my head and visualize rainbows or fantasize about unicorns. I grab that pain and hold it. Stay in the moment. Embrace it. Be in the now. That's where mental fortitude is built and honed. Sharpened to a deadly edge that you can rely on when things go south and you have to battle adversity. A weapon in your arsenal that you can depend on when your physical body is screaming for you to stop. To quit. To give up.

      My entire life I've needed every ounce of that mental toughness just to survive and be here today. Now I've embarked and committed to the hardest physical challenge of my life with testing the waters at the 100 mile distance. Month 1 is in the books and none of it has been easy. But every moment has been satisfying and brings me one step closer to stepping up to that starting line and giving it all I have.

      With a job that keeps me working a minimum of six days a week -- and with rotating on calls and night shifts -- ramping up training has been a challenge, and flexibility has been the key. I ran about 120 miles in Month 1, but it's the "other" training that has really been the biggest challenge. The countless stairs, hill repeats, cross training, weight lifting, boxing, and anything else that can be squeezed into an opportune time. The journey has and will continue to be an amazing one.

      The other key point in Month 1 of training has been nutrition. At 6'2", and after a bad second-half of 2015, my weight peaked at 230 coming into 2016. In the last 30 days, my diet has gotten strict. No cutting calories in any extreme way, just being disciplined and eating super clean. So, now with 30 days down -- and 15 pounds lighter -- I'm well on my way back down to my ideal race weight of 200 lbs.

      Orange Mud has a team full of bad asses that motivate me daily, and a whole shop full of gear that keeps me motivated and moving while I chase my dreams. My original HydraQuiver single barrel is still number 1 to me, but the VP2 is always close by and is crucial on long treks through the wilderness. 

      Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @_The_Mad_1 or search #trainwithorangemud

      Never. Stop. Running. 

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      Orange Mud is adding 360 spin to products via Hoot May 27 2016, 0 Comments

      In an effort to continually deliver the best product experience possible to online shoppers, Orange Mud recently decided to give hoot’s interactive imaging a spin. 


      Hoot offers revolutionary 3D product photography to brands that empower consumers to view a product from every angle online and engage with it as if they’re holding it in their hands. This delivers the information needed to make a confident purchasing decision.

      With the amount of time and resources spent to design, build, and deliver the highest quality products to our customers, it’s extremely important to represent them online in the best way possible. We take a great deal of pride in our work from start to finish, so were thrilled with the opportunity to showcase the end result more effectively. Now every painstaking detail, unique feature, and innovative design can easily be examined. Hoot’s product representation helps accomplish just that, without having a live product demonstration. 

      We pride ourselves on designing gear that is far from the ordinary, but educating our customers with pictures alone just wasn't cutting it. Checkout some of the links below to see how 360 spin is working for us and how you can interact. 

      UHTP Demo - Click on either of the spinning images on this link. There are two different demonstrations. 

      Transition Wrap Demo

      HydraQuiver Demo

      HydraQuiver VP2 Demo

      We’re excited to see how hoot’s imaging assists in providing our customers with the information they need and make a positive impact on their online shopping experience at Orange Mud. Any feedback and/or thoughts from our customers is always welcomed and appreciated. 

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      Slow and Steady May Not Win, but It Will Most Likely Finish May 18 2016, 3 Comments

      Slow and Steady May Not Win, but It Will Most Likely Finish

      Guest writer, Margaret Owensby

      Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Margaret, and I’m a thirty-something married mommy of three.  I am considered to be a large woman, due to my weight and stature, and I am a runner.  I am a slow interval runner, who primarily runs short distances.  Some may call me a jogger, but I still consider myself to be a runner regardless of my usual distances averaging between two and three miles.  My long runs are usually a 5k distance that take me about 50 to 52 minutes to complete, and I am often treated differently because of this very fact.

      I completed a half-marathon in 2014 (3:38:51 – see? slow), and had every intention of completing in 2015 in under 3 hours and 30 minutes.  However, I had two little babies come roaring into my life only two weeks earlier, and was not cleared to walk (let alone run) 13 miles.  So now I run short distances, in intervals, whilst pushing either a three year old or twin six month old babies in a stroller.  At this point in time and fitness, a 5k is an endurance event for me.

      As every runner knows, putting in base miles is absolutely vital when you are training for a race or an event.  I get out and run five or six days a week, but I get such an odd reaction from people when they find out I run intervals.  I receive a strange combination of scorn and disbelief when I ask questions from running groups and sites about nutrition, and am often told “You don’t need to worry about taking anything with you for such a short run.”  My short-term goal of running a 10k is treated as a joke by some, never mind that I might carry some form of equipment.  “Who needs a hydration belt for a 5k?  Aren’t they ridiculous carrying that?”  Before I started pushing the stroller (with all of the pockets and organizers), I carried either a hydration belt or my Orange Mud handheld for every run, if only because I needed a place to store keys/lip balm/money/tissues/mace/or whatever else I felt was necessary.  Yet the more accomplished runners did, and still do, make derisive comments about it.  Hey, I’ve got a 5k trail race coming up in two weeks, and I’m seriously wishing I had a Hydraquiver to sport.  I may possibly want to show it off a bit, and possibly also because I like having a place to carry all my water and such.

      In the world of running, distance and/or speed are what most (including me) will strive for.  Those of us who run slowly (or intervals, or short distances) are often seen as a joke amongst those who run fast or far.  So I have a simple request for all of you most awesome runners out there.  Be respectful of your fellow runners.  One runner's mile, is another runner's 250k desert run!  Those who are slower than you, those who may not run as far as you are out there doing it because they are attempting to make it in to a new pace group, because they are attempting to go longer distances, because they love it.  They may never win a prize, or place in the top ten, but most likely they will finish.  We are all runners, and we all deserve the love and respect that this community has to offer.

      Happy running, y’all!

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      Running in Borrowed Shoes: An 11-Year-Old’s Quest for a World Record May 10 2016, 1 Comment

      Running in Borrowed Shoes: An 11-Year-Old’s Quest for a World Record

      Guest writer, Syrafina Mohammed

      My mom is a runner. She has been ever since I could remember. She runs to help her think, to relieve stress, and to stay healthy both physically and mentally. She started running half marathons a little over a year ago and I wanted to join her. I wasn’t sure if I would like running. I didn’t have much time for it, but my mom let me sign up for a 5k color fun run to see how I would do in an endurance race. I loved it from the first step! My very next race was my first Half-Marathon! This was almost a year ago, May 16, 2015. I was 10 years old and my mom needed to get special permission for me to run.

      There were many challenges for me in my first half-marathon. I don’t think I did that well. I tripped and fell in a pot hole around mile 10. I was crying and blood was dripping down my leg from the scrape on my knee. My mom offered to stop and quit, but I was determined to finish. We were so close! So, I limped the last three miles to finish in 2:47:03. I was mad that our time was so poor but happy I managed to stay in the race.

      After that, every half marathon I run, I seem to hit a wall about the same mile. Right at mile 10 or so I get discouraged because I don’t see a significant improvement in my running time. It got very discouraging and each race got harder and harder for me. But, with my mom running next to me, encouraging me, I manage to get through that wall and push to the finish. My mom really helps me at those times.

      Running is an outlet for me. It’s exhausting and thrilling all at the same time. It’s fun and helps relieve stress. It doesn’t seem like an 11-year-old would have a lot of stress, but I do, and running helps. I also get to travel all over the country and see new and exciting places. My mom and I joined the 50-States Half-Marathon Club. The club members are challenged to run a half-marathon in every state. I discovered that the world record for the youngest person to run a half marathon in every state was 18. I want to break that record by the time I am 13 years old. The 50-States club has a lot of great members who encourage and support each other. We even try to meet up when we find out that members of the group are running the same races.

      Thus far, I have completed 13 half-marathons in 11 different states. There was one race that I ran that didn’t count because the course was found to be ½ mile short of a half-marathon. I will have to go back to that state to complete another race in order for that state to count. We have to be careful and make sure that the races are certified courses, otherwise, those don’t count towards my 50-state goal. Most of the time, we run back to back races in states that are next to each other. So, for example, we ran a half in Alabama on Saturday and another half in Mississippi on Sunday. Doing it this way, we manage to save money on travel costs and complete two half marathons in one weekend.

      I love the runs with pretty courses. My favorite was the Florida Music Marathon. It was also my most challenging half-marathon. The course does a loop around the Indian River in Brevard County, Florida, up and over two one-mile-long causeways with a variety of musical acts spread throughout the course (even a Grand Piano at the top of one of the causeways!). The course is beautiful and I love running by the water. However, the weather was horrible, it was miserably cold and rainy, even for Florida. It took me over 30 minutes to cross the last causeway because the wind was so strong and kept blowing me backwards.

      One of my most memorable races was the half-marathon in Oregon, I accidentally left my running shoes in the hotel room in Washington. We didn’t have time to go back for them before the start of the race, so my mom let me borrow her shoes. She wasn’t happy with me at the time, but I’m glad she didn’t let me just quit. It was weird running in borrowed shoes, but at the same time, they were my mom’s shoes. We run together. It’s our way of spending time together, encouraging each other and challenging each other. Running in her borrowed shoes made me realize how important our time running together really is and how much I appreciate having her right there, by my side, matching me stride for stride. She gives me strength when I want to quit and I haven’t found a way to thank her, yet. We have signed up for a 50-mile race in Michigan this fall. I know it will be hard for both of us, but I also know we have each other. And she can borrow my shoes if she needs to.

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      DNF May 05 2016, 1 Comment


      Guest writer, Katara Hause

      Being the spouse of an ultra runner can be both trying and incredible rewarding; riding a rollercoaster of up, down, and sideways emotions along the way! One specific situation we all will or have faced at one time or another; the dreaded DNF.

      In the world of competitive running, DNF stands for Did Not Finish; a trepidatious term equaling complete failure in a runner’s mind.  As the saying goes, “Dead Last Finish is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start.”  The DNF is a shadowy figure always lurking just a step behind, ready to pounce on an unsuspecting runner during the most effortless stretches of a course or trail.

      This past weekend was our first journey down this particular road.  We planned a family vacation around the first 50-mile run of the season and enjoyed a fantastic week leading up to race day!  A practice run through part of the course with a fellow participant, a family hike over one of the bluffs, and a pre-race solid night’s sleep all pointed toward a successful finish.  As support crew, we were well-versed in his race plan, familiar with the maps and directions necessary to meet him at the various aid stations, and well-stocked in anticipation of his every nutritional, hydrational, and apparel need (bananas, beef jerky, PB&J, watermelon, Mountain Dew, supplements, salt tabs, 3 pairs of shoes, 4 pairs of socks, and a first-aid kit any Red Cross responder would be jealous of!).

      My nerves were raw, but his were calm.  In fact, I’d never seen him this relaxed minutes before countdown.  He’s ready!  He’ll kick this course’s backside and justify all the training hours and sacrifices!  He’s got this!  3…2…1…and they’re off!  There he goes—strong, fit, eager, and primed for victory!

      Little did we know, just hours later, dehydration and cramps would all but incapacitate him; forcing him to withdraw just 31 grueling miles in.  After having some time to absorb and reflect on the day’s events, I would like to offer up some alternative meanings for the DNF acronym.  Here goes:

      Dare Not Fail

      Running at a competitive level compels athletes to reach degrees of fitness and determination most of us cannot comprehend.  The pressure to perform and succeed, while self-inflicted, are enormous.  Failure is not an option, but sometimes it happens anyway.  Despite our best preparations and the most favorable course conditions, the race plan can dissolve into an unsalvageable heap of “what-ifs” and broken dreams. 

      The fear of failure is constantly niggling the back of a runner’s mind.  And failure equals not finishing.  The running mentality seems to be derived from the well-known Yoda mantra, “Do or do not.  There is no try.” Completing a portion of the race is only marginally better than never starting at all.  I have to admit, this mind-frame frustrates the heck out of me!  While I understand my runner did not finish the 50-mile race he signed up for, he did complete the 50K.  What do you mean he doesn’t get the 50K swag bag?  What do you mean there will be no congratulatory high-five and finishing medal?  Let me get this straight…he ran 31 miles and gets zero credit for his efforts??!!  That’s a bunch of bunk, as my teenage son would say!!

      But it’s the way these events work.  It’s a pass/fail system.  You get no partial credit.  Anything short of success is failure.  No in-between.  No gray area.  No compromise.

      I would like all the runners to understand that as their supporters, we do not consider lack of finishing a failure.  Acknowledging the fact that many of us would rather have teeth pulled than push our bodies to the brink of destruction in the name of ‘fun’, there is little our runners can do that would qualify as a failure in our eyes.

      So runners, fear not failure.  Do your best.  Give it your all.  And know we will be waiting to wrap you in admiration and adulation, wherever your personal finish line ends up!m

      Doubts Never Flee

      While I’m certain every runner doubts themselves and their abilities during a race, there is more than a modicum of narcissism and arrogance rooted in the elite community, which make any doubts virtually unrecognizable .  I can’t speak to specific misgivings that may or may not float around in a runner’s mind, but I do have first-hand experience with those felt by many of their supporters.

      Regardless of how much I try to control the days leading up to a race, the oddest qualms enter my subconscious.  This race in particular, posed its own unique set of concerns.  What if the car battery is dead and we have to hike 5 miles to the nearest civilized establishment to get help?  What if we all get food poisoning from the unfamiliar restaurant we stumbled upon the night before the race?  What if the temps really do get into the 90’s as forecasted?  What if he asks for watermelon and that’s the one thing I left in the car (really happened!)? What if he breaks his leg on one of the climbs and is too far away to be rescued quickly?  Whether realistic or not, the scenarios are endless.

      But really, where is the worry coming from?  Are we skeptical of the dedication, fitness, or courage of our runners?  Of course not.  For me, doubt is bred from the ‘uncontrollables’; those things which, as hard as I try, I cannot influence or change.  I try to be faithful and prayerful, turning everything over to God’s will and plan.  But just as often, I find myself reverting to the two rules my Dad taught me: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  2. It’s all small stuff.  We’re not resolving world hunger or peace in the Middle East here, people—it’s a race.  And in case you weren’t aware, they’ll be another one next week!  

      In the scheme of things, what do any of us really have control over anyway?  I’m not on the course, and I’m certainly not running the course.  I can’t predict my runner’s mood or cravings any better than I can predict the weather.  I’m ultimately not responsible for the outcome of the race, good or bad, and thereby cannot take credit or blame either.  But just as a parent will never stop worrying about their child, a runner’s spouse (or significant other) will never stop worrying about their runner—or blaming themselves for anything short of a victorious finish!

      So supporters, embrace the variables and be flexible.  Let go of the ‘what-ifs’. And never let ‘em see you sweat:)

      Distress Nausea Fatigue

      These are pretty self-explanatory and may or may play a role in your runner’s DNF.  Obviously, we take every precaution to avoid these three words, but I’m not convinced the human body is equipped to handle the kind of trauma resulting from long endurance racing.  Runners like to spout off about mind over matter, saying things like, “After 30 miles, it’s all the same,” or “You’re brain will tell you to stop. Don’t.”  The truth is, the muscles, tendons, bones, and organs are taking a real beating.  At some point, the body will revolt.

      Rebellion will take the form of nausea, vomiting, cramping, fainting, muscle pulls, tendon tears, or broken bones.  I’ve seen it all…more than one of these in a single race!  Dehydration alone can cause side effects ranging from pain to spasms to delirium.  Any runner will tell you if you get behind in your hydration plan, there is little room for recovery.

      Our DNF can be directly attributed to dehydration, which resulted in all-over body cramping, severe headache, dizziness, and disorientation.  Not fun and super scary.  In fact, my exact words to him post-race were, “You know I’m never going to let you do this again, don’t you?!”  

      As a non-runner, I will never understand what compels these athletes to push themselves and their bodies to the precipice of shut-down.  But it’s not my job to understand.  It’s only my job to support him, cheer him refrain from walking the marked trails backward to drag his butt over the finish line, and at the end, pick up the pieces with some amount of grace and compassion.  Not easy, but necessary.

      So supporters, recognize the signs of trouble.  Be firm and get your runner’s attention, while trying to avoid shaking your head and screaming, “I told you so!”

      Determined Nonetheless Fragile

      Vulnerability.  Humility.  Fragility.  Not words any ultrarunner wants used to describe him/her.  Rather, strong.  Courageous.  Indomitable.  These are the attributes they try to project as they train for and compete in long-distance races.  Images of lean muscles, power stances, and plank challenges are all meant to reinforce their brawn and intensity, their devotion to the sport.

      But the circumstances (whatever they may be) which lead to a DNF are humbling; a reminder that they are, indeed, human.  And on any given day, it’s simply not their day.  Not this time.  Try again.

      Frustration, anger, pain, and fear often manifest as tears, trembling, and a complete inability to stand under one’s own power.  When my husband finally went as far as he could go (with our son walking the final 300 yards with him), he literally melted into my arms.  His head hit my chest like a boulder and his arms hung over my shoulders like limp, heavy noodles.  He was trembling, sobbing, and unable to take a full, deep breath.  As I raised his head to look into his eyes, I realized he was unable to focus and his color was putrid.  Truly frightening.

      In that moment, all I wanted to do was make it all better.  Get him fluids and ice packs and shade.  Massage the spasms tormenting his muscles.  Wipe the sweat from his brow and find a smidgeon of recognition in his gaze.  He was bent but not broken.  He went to the brink, but did not fall.  He proved his humanity through super-human feats.

      So runners, know that when you are at your weakest, we are ready and willing to be your strength; a fresh set of legs to support you and loving arms to embrace you.  Despite what you think, our respect and admiration are not based on how you end your race day.  We are just relieved you SURVIVED race day!

      Develop New Formulas

      Now that the DNF is in our rearview, we are preparing for the next race on the schedule.  Redemption is just 3 weeks away and will quickly be followed by two more races within a 4- week span!

      It’s critical to take time to reflect on and analyze the race plan after a DNF.  Emotions are raw and egos have taken a hit, but a runner and his/her support team need to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and what can/should be changed going forward.  Listening to, acknowledging, and encouraging each other’s observations are key to keeping communication open and productive.  Obviously, there are two VERY different perspectives to examine.  Don’t dismiss one as being more important than the other.

      In our case, as soon as I got the text that my husband was in trouble, I went into rescue mode.  The planner and partner in me tried to come up with all sorts of things I wanted to say or do to make sure he didn’t blame himself or brood about the DNF too deeply for too long.  Knowing my husband the way I do, I feared the disappointment would make him nearly inconsolable.  

      Thankfully, after 100 ounces of fluids and a 3-hour nap, his race assessment was straightforward and much more positive than I expected.  We talked through each pit-stop, as well as the course details.  We nailed down the point where the wheels came off and discussed how it could have been avoided.  I shared what I saw and overheard from other support teams and aid-station volunteers, including things like using chicken stock as a possible hydration/salt-intake option and applying cold, damp compresses to the back of his neck and temple during stops.  Alternately, he revealed his observations from other runners as well.

      Together, we will make a new plan to tackle the next race.  No guarantee that we will be any more successful, but we’ll give it our best shot.  And we will continue to experiment with, record, and modify our race-day strategies; getting ever closer to consistent and dependable results.

      So, runners and crew let’s learn from each other!  Let’s share our experiences, our triumphs AND our catastrophes.  Afterall, as one of our most vocal presidential candidates once said, “sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war,” (Donald Trump). 

      DNF.  I wasn’t familiar with the term before we embarked on this journey.  Now, I am intimately aware of the widely accepted definition.  But DNF can and does mean so much more.  Fundamentally, they are just letters.  You can make them stand for anything.  You hold the power to change the perception.  

      Convincing our runners, however, to alter their mind-set will surely take every ounce of patience we have left:)  Hang in their spouses, crew, and loved ones...the season has only just begun!!

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      The Wife of an ultra runner May 02 2016, 2 Comments

      The Wife of an ultra runner

      Guest writer, Katara Hause

      Welcome to my world…piled high with sweat-stained clothes, heaps of colorful shoes, stacks of trail maps, and masses of mismatched water bottles and lids.  This is the life of a runner’s wife; a long-distance, trail runner’s wife to be exact.  If your significant other is a member of the ever-growing competitive running community, this is familiar territory.  If you’re new to this lifestyle, grab a seat, take a load off, and allow me to enlighten you:)

      Maybe your story started as ours did, or maybe you knew what you were getting yourself into.  Either way, just as our runners have their community to support, encourage, and commiserate with, we (those of us supporting them) gotta stick together too!  Wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re not alone on this journey?  I assure you there are others who share your frustrations, anxieties, eye-roll moments, immeasurable pride, and uncontained exuberance.  So, buckle up…here we go!

      My husband didn’t start out as an ultra runner…he didn’t start out as a runner at all.  He was fit, of course, but not a gym rat or even a regular exerciser.  Then, one day, he casually said, “I’m going to start running!”  Okay.  Sure.  Whatever you want, dear.

      As I write, he is in full-bore training mode for his first hundo, and only half-jokingly, plans for another 100 mile, back-to-back 50’s, or some blind-folded, in-the-dark- dropped-off-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-no-support kind of jacked up race later in the year.  I think he mentions these events just to gauge my reaction! 

      He scoffs at some of the “crazy” people he hears or reads about, who run weeks’ long races through entire national forests (the same way he once scoffed at folks doing what he now does every day!).  “How could they do that?”, he asks, and in the same breath nonchalantly mentions he will be spending his day off this week running 35 miles in the rain on one of the toughest trails in the area…all in the name of fun.  

      Welcome to the world of ultra running.  Or more succinctly, the world of supporting, loving, and living with an ultra runner!  Here’s what you need to know:

      1.       He will NEVER own enough pairs of running shoes and they will seemingly multiply overnight!

      Shoes of numerous colors and styles will infiltrate EVERY room of the house, both cars, and likely the patio and deck.  What looks like “just another running shoe” to you, may be THE missing half of his favorite pair of “low-drop, light-weight, mid-range, trail” shoes.  At least once a week, a full-blown, all-out search by every member of the family will be required to reunite these lost and separated pairs!

      Your runner will be able to readily recite the exact mileage on each pair of shoes at any given moment, and will always be needing “another couple pairs” to hold him over.  And NONE of these shoes constitute every day runaround shoes.  Those are a completely different animal.

      Tip: Invest in a boot/shoe dryer.  We were gifted one for Christmas and though I didn’t see the purpose early on, it’s become a very useful tool!

      2.       He will NEVER own enough gear.

      Gear is a general term used to refer to all items outside of shoes and clothing, including but not limited to: water bottles, hats, visors, sunglasses, headphones, chargers, hydropacks, supplements, compression sleeves, etc.  For a long run on a hot day, gathering all the accessories necessary can be exhausting in and of itself!

      And even if there is a specified place to store all said gear, it will end up covering every open surface in your home!  My daily ritual now includes picking up various running paraphernalia and placing it on his nightstand for sorting and storage.

      Tips: a. Encourage your runner to (at a minimum) rinse all said gear immediately after the run and hang to air dry.  This will reduce the potential for gear to end up at the bottom of a hamper or piled on the floor becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew growth —YUCK!! 
      b. Find a reliable disinfectant/deodorizer safe for clothing and gear which can be used as a soaking mechanism and keep plenty of stock!
      c. Don’t invest in high-end sunglasses or headphones!  These invariably end up falling off, falling out, getting left behind, or breaking on a regular basis.  Consider these items disposable and stock-up so replacements are available at a moment’s notice.

      3.       His favorite “non-running” clothing will only consist of logo’d apparel representing choice running gear or race swag.  

      Whether your runner is loyal to a particular shoe brand, or devoted to a specific race series, there is a certain level of elitism that goes along with this level of competitive running.  They are dedicated to the sport and want everyone to know it:)

      Tip: Don’t bother buying him off-the-rack t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, etc.  Find out his favorite brands, manufacturers, and race sponsors…go direct to these sources for every day, casual clothing options.  Pass along this information to friends and family for easy gifting options as well!

      4.       He will INHALE anything resembling food after a long run!  

      My husband has always had a super-quick (and disturbingly enviable) metabolism.  After a long-distance run, his appetite is nearly insatiable!  I guess if he’s burning 10,000 calories, he can rightfully eat anything and everything he wants:)

      I try to always keep lots of healthy options available to hold him over in between meals; Greek yogurt, raw almonds, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, and homemade granola.  But he is just as likely to grab a snack bag of Doritos, a banana, and one of his favorite IPA’s (not necessarily in that order) on his way to the shower.  Bottom line: keep your fridge and pantry stocked at ALL times!

      Tip: Buy and use a powerful blender made specifically for protein shakes!  We have found various combinations of raw veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and spices that help reduce inflammation, diminish pain, ease muscle cramping, and moderate metabolism.  It’s been life-changing and has significantly improved his training and race preparation.

      5.       Get used to “me time.”  

      If you live in an area like we do, which celebrates the start of hunting season with the fervor and tenacity of shoppers on Black Friday, then you are familiar with the term “hunter’s widow”.  Well, I’m here to introduce you to a similar phenomenon…the runner’s widow.  The endurance required to train for and complete long-distance races, requires many hours spent running.  Early mornings, evenings, weekends, holidays…any time is a good time to run (so I’ve been told).  

      You will spend a lot of time physically and emotionally supporting your runner, so when he doesn’t “need” you, find a hobby or activity which gives you a sense of accomplishment and which brings you joy.  To give your best to your runner, you have to be confident in your own worth and content in your existence.  

      Tip: Discover your own passion.  Maybe you are also a runner.  Or maybe you enjoy yoga, or photography, or cooking.  Whatever it is, use the time your runner is away, to feed your soul in a way that rejuvenates and inspires!

      6.       His “social circle” will now include runners of like mind and communication with this group will consume an inordinate amount of time and energy.

      My husband does the majority of his training solo.  Only on the rare occasion will he team up with someone and run together.  However, his “peeps” depend on him to pontificate the benefits of running, provide motivational inspiration, offer proper hydration methods, demonstrate cross-training techniques, and share the topographic features of all his local trails.  Needless to say, he is in high demand!

      His post-run priority will consist of posting said notions to all active social media sights, including but not limited to FB, IG, and Twitter.  Only after this has been successfully completed, will he entertain the thought of toweling off and removing his mud-covered shoes.   Many hours post-run will be spent reading, smirking, and responding to comments on these posts.

      Tip: Don’t take your runner’s non-response or delayed response personally.  Much of this journey can only truly be shared by folks on similar journeys.  If you, like me, are NOT a “real” runner, we find ourselves outside the circle of trust.  Find other ways to connect to your runner without undermining their dedication and efforts.

      7.       Remember he loves you more than running (even though it doesn’t seem that way sometimes!).

      It’s hard not to feel like running is his clandestine affair.  He leaves quietly, before dawn breaks so as not to wake you.  He leaves a note by the bedside and you’re not sure when he’ll be back.  You know while he’s away, he’s happy, fulfilled, and care free.  When he’s not actually on the trails, he’s posting/blogging/dreaming of/planning for/talking about/reading up on/shopping for…running.  Especially during the height of training before a big event, it seems all-consuming.  

      It’s easy for the mind to wonder, “Is running getting the best of him?”  “Does running do something for him that I can’t?”

      Well, the answers to those questions are no and yes respectively.  Running makes him the best he can be.  It centers him.  It fills him with a sense of achievement and confidence.  It gives him an outlet for his frustrations, worries, and anger.  He pushes his body and mind further than 99% of the population believes is possible.  He takes care of himself so he can take care of you.  Put simply, it allows him to give you his best possible self.

      Running absolutely does things for him that you can’t…and what a blessing!  If his happiness, serenity, and self-esteem were solely your responsibility, imagine the burden it would place on you personally or the strain it would cause your partnership.  The impact could be catastrophic!   

      But, he loves you.  And he needs you.  He wouldn’t be able to do what he does without you.  You take care of all the other important “to-do’s” in his life, so he can focus on the next run, the next race, the next challenge.  He knows this and he will thank you in big and small ways every day.  You just need to be present enough to recognize and appreciate them!  

      Tip: Don’t let bitterness or jealousy play a part in your relationship.  These are “energy suckers” and will feed on your insecurities and faithlessness.  Communicate your feelings with your runner and try to keep your emotions in check (tough, I know!).  

      8.       Crewing is a critical part of the process.

      At no time will you feel more a part of your runner’s success or failure than while crewing at an event.  From the days before preparations, to the early wake-up call on race day, to the start gun and to the finish line, you’ll get wrapped up in the anticipation, excitement, anxiety, disappointment and triumph right along with them.

      As his lifeline, it will be your responsibility to predict what he will need each step of the way.  I can’t stress it enough…BE PREPARED!!  I’m a planner by nature, but if you don’t share my propensity for making lists and organizational charts, you need to find your own way of managing race days.  Familiarize yourself with all the supplements, powders, chews, gummies, pain killers and food stuffs your runner prefers before, during, and after a race.  

      Sometimes you will know what he needs before/better than he does.  Don’t be afraid to be firm in your suggestions for nutrition, hydration, and first aid during check points.  There are such things as a “runner's high” and delirium which can cause your runner to feel better or more indestructible than they actually are.  Remind them of the race plan and the importance of sticking to it.

      With that said, flexibility is also important.  Make sure various food options are ready for him to grab-n-go at all times…half a peeled banana, peanut butter and jelly mini sandwiches, beef jerky, flat Mt. Dew, etc.  Depending on how the race is going, the temps, humidity, and so on, his needs and his wants will vary greatly.  Better to have every scenario covered, than to find out you forgot the one thing he has now decided is critical!

      As important as nutrition and hydration are, a well-stocked and easy-to-transport first aid kit is essential.  All the basics should be packed along with smelling salts, toothpaste, ace bandages, replacement shoe ties, disinfectant/baby wipes, Tums, gum, sunblock, and bug spray.

      You are not only responsible for nourishment and first aid, but also for attending to the emotional needs of your runner; knowing when they need that encouraging word or swift kick in the backside is something only you can provide.  Letting them vent can be difficult and humbling, but it may be exactly what they need to clear their head and “get them in the zone”…all part of our crewing responsibilities.

      Tip: You know what they say about the best laid plans…inevitably, something crucial will be forgotten, lost, misplaced, or broken.  Forgive yourself (and your runner) for the mid-race argument that may ensue!

      9.       You will never stop worrying.

      Aside from being in the best physical shape of his life, my husband has had his fair share of running-related and completely fluky injuries.  There was the corneal abrasion which laid him out for two weeks; the puncture wound in his foot which subsequently became infected and required a week-long hospital stay; the partially torn calf muscle thanks to a pick-up basketball game with our boys.  Numerous training delays due to Achilles tendonosis, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures have also occurred.  So pardon me if I worry…regardless of weather conditions, length of run, or training vs. race day.

      I send him off with a kiss and reminders like, “Don’t go out too fast”, “Run YOUR race, not anyone else’s”, and “Be safe”.  What I really want to say is, “Please, please, please come back to me in one piece!!!”

      For me, this is TOTALLY a control thing…I’m not a runner and have no real desire to put my body through the literal gut-wrenching tests of fortitude.  I cannot comprehend what it takes to push my body beyond what my mind thinks possible.  Because I can’t understand it, I worry.  Sharing in all the race-day excitement is a gift, but after the gun sounds, I’m left with faith and prayer as my only companions until the next aid station check-in.  During those early morning or late night training runs, sleep is NOT my friend and only comes fleetingly when exhaustion finally wins over angst.

      Tip: Worry, but don’t obsess.  Share any safety concerns with your runner and help them understand and appreciate your fears.  Take precautions where necessary and let the rest go!

      So, welcome to the club!  From one runner’s widow to another, I challenge you to embrace the lifestyle with all its quirks and eccentricities.  Go willingly and eagerly on this journey with your runner and amidst the chaotic schedule, mounds of laundry, and empty pantry, remember these are the signs of a healthy, happy runner…job well done!



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      Mallory Billings-Litke #TrainWithOrangeMud Update! April 27 2016, 0 Comments

      Mallory Billings-Litke #TrainWithOrangeMud Update!

      Every year since 2010, I have wanted to hit 1,000 miles for the year have always fallen short. Today during my race, the TARC Spring Classic, I surpassed 500 for the year so I am well on my way! I’ve mostly stuck with half marathons so far in the years that I’ve been running but I’ve got several BIG goals for this year.  Along with some half marathons, I will be doing two marathons, one 6 hour race, a 50k and a 50 miler.  My two “goal” races for the year are the 50k and 50 miler.  Memorial Day Weekend is around the corner, which means my 50k is as well.  Training in New England in the late winter/early spring offers a Mixed bag of weather.  I wish I could say that I always opt to run outdoors but I have succumbed to the treadmill on several occasions throughout the past several weeks.  That being said, I do solemnly swear that I will not do more than one run per week on the treadmill.  It’s finally getting a bit warmer out so I’ve been enjoying the outdoors more often.  The nearest trail to me, that I am aware of, is 35-40 minutes away so I very rarely get to do trails during the week and save them for my long run on the weekends.  When I do my long runs, I use my car as an aid station, taking along my Orange Mud modular gym bag; I keep my gear organized and accessible so I can be in and out of the car, just as I would in a trail race.  On several of my runs during the week, I have been running home from work and I use my Hydraquiver Double Barrel Hydration Pack to aid me during my run commute.  I bring my work clothes home on days that I don’t run so all I’ve got to carry is my wallet, phone and keys.  I hired a coach for my 50k and I plan to hire the same one for my 50 miler and I can honestly say this is the most consistently I have ever trained.  I’ve also become more involved with my local trail running community and have run a few races with them this year.  I am getting more comfortable on the trails and am loving every second of this training.

      With just a few weeks left until my first 50k, I need to stay focused on a few things: consistency, strength training, nutrition and hydration.  My goal is to follow my plan to a T and do all of the miles outside.  I need to continue experiencing the variety of weather so that no matter the weather on race day, I’m ready.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve experienced rain, snow, hail and high winds. Even though I hate it in the moment, I know it’s good for me to experience running in this weather.  I have not been as strict with my cross training and strength training as I should have been so I am going to make sure that I put more effort into it over the next several weeks.  With all of these miles, I know I’m more susceptible to injury, especially if I’m not caring for my body.  I’ve been working on my nutrition for the past couple of months and have even been using an app to keep track of everything I eat.  As a runner, it’s easy to overestimate how much you can eat, even when logging a lot of miles.  I’ve found this to be a useful tool to make sure that I am eating a variety of foods, especially my fruits and vegetables.  Lastly, hydration.  I sit at a desk all day for work so I am making sure that I drink 32 ounces of water before lunch and another 32 ounces after work.  I do not do as well on the weekends but it’s a work in progress.  

      Want to follow my progress?  Follow me on Instagram @RunYoginiRun or search #trainwithorangemud

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      Jenny Nakamura #TrainWithOrangeMud Update! April 27 2016, 0 Comments

      Jenny Nakamura #TrainWithOrangeMud Update!

      I moved to Phoenix in late 2011. Shortly thereafter I made the decision and started training for my first marathon. The New York City Marathon was supposed to be my first, but then Hurricane Sandy happened and we all know how that went. So I restructured my goals and my training and ran the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World marathon as my first marathon instead.

      A year later I made it to New York City and ran my fastest & favorite marathon to date; 5 boroughs, 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 35 minutes!

      For my first 3 marathons, I had a super specific training plan that I followed to the letter.I very rarely missed a day and it was super exciting to be hitting mileage goals that I’d set for myself. With such specific training I didn’t always listen to my body and had an issue with my hamstring that still bothers me from time to time today.

      Fast forward 3 years, 6 more marathons, amazing destinations like Rome & Venice, Italy, no specific training plan, slower times, and no new marathon PRs. When I picked the Vancouver USA marathon to be my 10th marathon, my birthday race and PR race, I picked it because it’s supposed to be flat & fast. I also didn’t have a lot on my race schedule at the time.

      In the last 6 weeks, I’ve run 2 50ks, 2 half marathons, a 15k and a 5k along with many miles on the trails. It’s not a traditional training plan, and not necessarily one that I would advise anyone else to embark on but it’s worked for me.

      My endurance is definitely at an all time high and my recovery from the 50ks has been amazing, with recovery runs the day after the race, active recovery at it’s finest. My race nutrition is still a work in progress but I feel like it’s slowly but surely coming together and using my Orange Mud VP1 has helped significantly so I can carry my own fuel with me vs. having to rely on aid stations.

      My focus for the next 6-8 weeks is to work on increasing my speed on longer runs, get used to running in the heat and to continue working on my nutrition.

      Happy Running!

      Follow Jenny on Instagram and Twitter@runnylegs

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      Three Amigos Take On the SISU Iron April 26 2016, 0 Comments

      Three guys walk into a park – one from Illinois, one from California, and the other from Wisconsin. Sounds like the start to a classic joke, right? But this is far from a joke. These three friends - Jesus Chavez (39 years old), Anthony Lazo (25 years old), and Chad Weberg (42 years old) – are about to embark on one of the toughest challenges that exist and hope to emerge as “unbreakable athletes”. In less than two weeks, these three amigos will be traveling to Monrovia Canyon Park (California) to take on the SISU Iron.

      Left: Jesus Chavez, Top Right: Anthony Lazo, Bottom Right: Chad Weberg


      When and where is the SISU Iron? April 29th – May 1st in Camp Trask in Monrovia Canyon Park in California.

      What is the SISU Iron to you?

      [Jesus]: SISU Iron is an extreme endurance race formed by people that have completed several of the toughest races around. Their mantra is "Forging Unbreakable Athletes".

      [Anthony]: A 30+ hour endurance event, to test your true GRIT!

      [Chad]: A 30+ hour endurance challenge. This includes both mental and physical challenges. A required gear list is supplied. A few of the items make you think “what did I sign up for?” 30 pack of diapers, baby doll, axe, saw, etc.

      Is this your first event like this?

      [Jesus]: No, I have finished multiple day races. For example the 66 hour Death Race, 36 hour Ultimate SUCK and a 24 hour Legend of the Death race – of which I won.

      [Anthony]: No, I have competed in a Tough Mudder, a Death Race with Jesus and Chad, and the 2014 SISU Iron.

      [Chad]: No. I’ve done two Death Races.

      How have you trained for the SISU Iron?

      [Jesus]: Crossfit Joliet / Undisputed Strength is where I train the most. It's collegiate style weight room, focusing on speed, strength and athleticism. Brandon "The Broiler" Kelly's programming has been the main factor in finishing these races. And Avery YMCA is my second home and where this journey first started.

      [Anthony]: I honestly haven’t trained much, but I believe the SISU Iron to be more of a mental game more than anything else.

      [Chad]: Trail running / hiking. I heat my farm with wood, so splitting wood all winter is a favorite activity. Hopefully, there will be a little of that at the IRON. I have also studied some of the US Presidents and Morse code, because there have been hints of needing to know a little about these topics for the event.

      Are you doing this as a team or individually?

      [Jesus]: Races like this are usually team oriented at first, but then it eventually splinters off into an individual race.

      [Anthony]: The SISU Iron is a different beast in all! We will most likely start as a team, but as the hours add up it will turn into an individual battle.

      [Chad]: I always start these events as a team. Not necessarily with a specific group, but you build a team as you go. If you see someone in need – you help them. This is how new friendships are formed at events like this.

      What are you most looking forward to?

      [Jesus]: I'm most looking forward to seeing friends that I usually only see once or twice a year. Although some of these people I have only met during these races, you created such a special bond that you look forward to embracing the suck together.

      [Anthony]: Being out of my comfort zone, and meeting with all the athletes there. This OCR / Endurance community is really kick butt!

      [Chad]: Seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

      What are you least looking forward to?

      [Jesus]: There's really nothing that I'm not looking forward to. If you have a negative mindset coming into this then you're not going to do well.

      [Anthony]: The infamous camp trask pond <sigh> . . . that thing spawned the swamp thing, as well as, poison oak! Which I know 100% that I will be getting it! AGAIN!

      [Chad]: Don Devaney . . . he’s an old friend, but he is helping to organize the race this year and will be there to put us through hell! He is a sick man and that’s why I love him. We’ll hug before the event starts and can continue being friends on Monday. <Grin>

      What is your WHY for doing this event?

      [Jesus]: My ”WHY” in anything I do is to be a better human being. If I strive to become a better version of myself, then I can become a better father, husband and friend. I need to be a stronger version of myself to raise my daughters to become amazing individuals.

      [Anthony]: The first time I did the SISU Iron it was for my birthday since it landed on May 4th. This time will be to test myself. Also Jesus wanted me to run it with him, so I agreed and forced my friend, Daniel Kim, to join in on all the fun too!

      [Chad]: To push myself both mentally and physically with a bunch of like-minded friends.

      How do you define success of the SISU Iron?

      [Jesus]: My success is not defined by finishing the race. I want to be known as the guy that gave everything he had, raced with integrity, and was an awesome teammate. Finishing would be nice, but not the determining factor in a success.

      [Anthony]: I’m happy with just meeting and being around the community of people willing to torture themselves, pushing themselves to be the best they can be, and still standing around them at the 30 hour mark.

      [Chad]: Starting the event and trying your best.

      Do you have anything planned beyond this event?

      [Jesus]: I'm signed up for the 36 hour Ultimate Suck in September 2016. Also, on my radar is the 12 hour Spartan Hurricane Heat and the 24 hour Catamount games.

      [Anthony]: I do not. I tend to be more spontaneous with my events . . . I didn't even sign up for this event until April 15th!

      [Chad]: A 50 mile trail ultra-marathon in July, and hopefully, a few longer races / events this coming Fall.

      Rapid Fire Questions:

      Nicknames: [Jesus]: Jesse and Mas Chingons, [Anthony]: Lazo, [Chad]: Cheeseburger Eddie

      Home City / State: [Jesus]: Plainfield, Illinois, [Anthony]: Corona, California, [Chad]: Mazomanie, Wisconsin

      Occupation: [Jesus]: Tech Engineer / Land Surveyor for Walsh Const., [Anthony]: Project Consultant, [Chad]: Manufacturing Manager for a Theatrical Lighting and Rigging Manufacturer

      Most Favorite Food: [Jesus]: Tacos, [Anthony]: Burritos, [Chad]: Bacon Cheeseburger. Hence the nickname Cheeseburger Eddie. I’ve been known to carry McDonald’s cheeseburgers in my pack during ultra-races. Fuel for me and to help fellow racers.

      Least Favorite Food: [Jesus]: Fish, [Anthony]: Green beans, [Chad]: Sushi

      Favorite Music: [Jesus]: Metal (Bullet for My Valentine), [Anthony]: Oldies (Classic Rock), [Chad]: Country

      Favorite Vacation Place: [Jesus]: Mexico – Cancun area, [Anthony]: Tennessee (Knoxville), [Chad]: Hayward, Wisconsin. Quiet time in the woods or out on the lake.

      Favorite Color: [Jesus]: Blue, [Anthony]: Blue, [Chad]: Red

      Favorite Mantra: [Jesus]: Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always. [Anthony]: I can't stop, because I won't stop! [Chad]: I have to always go back to the old Death Race saying. “Every man dies but not every man lives”.

      Top Left: Anthony Lazo and Jesus Chavez, Bottom Left: Jesus Chavez and Chad Weberg, Right: Chavez’s Medal Display

      For more information on the SISU Iron, visit the website.


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      Ultramarathon checklist April 22 2016, 0 Comments

      Ultramarathon checklist

      Photo credit: Lindsey Shiflett

      It takes months of time and dedication to train for an ultramarathon. The last thing you want is for something to go wrong on race day…because you forgot to pack a necessary item. Because of that, I’ve created an “Ultrarunning Packing Checklist” that I’ve used from race distances of a 50k (approximately 31 miles) up to a 100 miler. Of course, this list will vary based on terrain, weather, race location, etc, but I’ve found for the most part, this list works pretty well for any race. When you run long distances, it’s not unheard of to have a 30° temperature fluctuation during a race, necessitating various clothing items; or literally running through a pair of shoes and needing to change into a spare set. Sure, it may look silly to have a big bin of items come race day, but I haven’t found myself without a necessity yet! Remember, always check the weather before your race (usually a day or two before your race, or before traveling to the race location), but don’t check excessively—you can’t change the weather, so there’s no reason to stress yourself out over it! Pack right, and you can concentrate on what’s important—having fun running an ultra!

      What I carry on my person during the race

      • Orange Mud Hydraquiver Vest Pack 2
      • 1 orange OM bottle (for Heed)
      • 1 clear OM bottle (for water)—having the different colored bottles makes telling volunteers what I need simple
      • my phone in a Lifeproof Fre (waterproof) case—I occasionally listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music. But even if I didn’t, I like having the potential to call if I need emergency assistance (if I’m lucky enough to have cell service)
      • pre downloaded podcasts, music playlists, and audiobooks (in case of no cell service)
      • headphones
      • snacks—my favorites include peanut butter power balls (homemade), PB&J sandwiches cut into quarters, banana halves, orange slices, Honey Stinger waffles, and CHEX MIX (I swear, Chex Mix is what got me through my 100 when I couldn’t eat anything else). You may be wondering why I carry food when most ultras have fully stocked aid stations. I do this because you never know when something you need/want might run out at the aid station; or in the rush and madness of your race, you just simply forget to grab all the fuel you need at the station. I try to consume 150-250 calories an hour, and if I’m carrying some of my own food, I always know I can manage this.
      • no zip, plastic sandwich bags (for trash; for easily accessible snacks)
      • a Ziploc bag with a sample pack of Biofreeze, a sample pack of Vaseline/Body Glide/Trail Toes, a couple Tylenol, a couple electrolyte capsules or salt packets, pre rolled toilet paper (make your own from regular rolls, no need to spring for the store bought pre rolls), pre cut moleskin of varying sizes, a few band-aids, a safety bin for on the go blister piercing, and Gin-Gins candy for upset stomach issues.

      What I keep in my dropbag (a clear plastic bin for easy visibility)

      • a big Ziploc with medical-type supplies—Tylenol, a stick of Body Glide, Biofreeze, Moleskin, KT tape (I pre-tape both my knees before any long race), scissors, bandaids, toilet paper, single use heating pads, safety pins, Tums, sunscreen, bug spray -no zip plastic sandwich bags
      • duct tape (for fixing shoes, other gear)
      • large garbage bags (for trash, dirty shoes, dirty clothes)
      • snacks—more of what I carry in my OM Vest, but also some extras like Gummi Bears, chips, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, gum, whatever I think might be appealing when forcing myself to eat
      • Heed (in case the race doesn’t have the flavor I prefer)
      • extra pair of headphones
      • portable charging device
      • headlamp charging cable (or extra batteries)
      • phone charging cable
      • dry sacks (sometimes I’ll categorize items in different colored dry/stuff sacks to make finding items easier)
      What I keep at camp (because I almost always camp before and/or after an ultra)
      • Orange Mud transition towel
      • compression socks for after the race
      • compression tights for after the race
      • warm jacket or hoodie
      • slide sandals
      • tent
      • sleeping bag
      • sleeping pad (you don’t want to be stiff the morning of a big race because of an inadequate sleeping pad)
      • pillow (use clothes in a stuff sack, or an empty bag from boxed-wine works great)
      • camp chair
      • toothbrush and toothpaste
      • prescription medications/vitamins
      • meals for the days before and after my race
      • Jetboil
      • cup; plate; spork
      • camp suds (they work for dishes and showering)
      • personal pack towel
      • cooler and ice
      • coffee
      • beer
      • muscle roller stick
      • wallet/ID
      Clothing, shoes, and accessories (weather dependent)
      • shorts, capris, tights
      • Tech tee (racerback, short sleeve, long sleeve)
      • hats (heavy duty beanie, lightweight beanie, billed trucker)
      • headband (fleece lined, non-lined)
      • rain jacket
      • gloves (2 pairs—in case you lose one)
      • bandana
      • hair ties
      • sunglasses
      • compression calf sleeves
      • socks (I wear a pair of extra-light cushioning toe socks, and my favorite pair of unicorn socks over the toe socks)
      • Hokas (2 pairs)
      • a GPS watch
      • headlamp

      Guest article by Nikki Klein

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      Fake Tahoe: The Land of Fire and Ice and Bike-Swim-Bike-Run April 19 2016, 1 Comment

      Fake Tahoe: The Land of Fire and Ice and Bike-Swim-Bike-Run

      Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014, The Journey of One Girl Towards an Undeniable Finish Line


      Lake Tahoe is notorious for having been one of the most challenging Ironman courses in North America and beyond… 1) for the fact that it’s extremely unpredictable as far as weather and conditions are concerned and 2) because it’s situated at 6-7,000 feet of elevation with over 6700 feet of elevation gain throughout the bike course. Needless to say, as a girl from New Orleans, I was terrified of this race for the greater part of a year!

      When I arrived in Tahoe, I vividly remember walking over to pick up my bike box at the airport and by the time I had pulled it to the front door, I was out of breath. Great! I figured I was in for a real treat once I had to do actual physical activity. I spent the first day acclimating to my new environment and doing absolutely nothing. It was concerning from day one, when I learned of 2 nearby forest fires, one only about 10 miles away, that were producing smoke that would fill Lake Tahoe and the entire surrounding valley for the coming week. Each day, I tolerated the smoke as it came and was smart about when to call it quits. After all, I was saving myself for race day.

      The morning of the race, I woke up to smoke filling the inside of our hotel room and knew that things weren’t looking good. We proceeded to get everything together as normal and took the long shuttle bus ride to race start. When we got there, music was blaring, volunteers were everywhere and it looked like your typical Ironman event: ready to rock and roll! The air surrounding the lake was clear and the water was still, much different than any of the days I had practiced in this “lake” with its 5-foot waves and surfers riding them. Everything was looking great to start the race. We were lined up on King’s Beach, toes in the water, waiting to begin our individual journeys.

      The race was literally cancelled about 5 minutes prior to the start, out of safety concerns for athletes, volunteers and the general public. I understand and respect Ironman’s decision to cancel that day, however devastating it may have been to the 1900+ athletes that had traveled from all over the world to be there and made unbelievable personal sacrifices in order to get to that starting line. I’ve never seen so many grown men crying in one place before. It was terrible! I too, sniffled for all of about 5 seconds. Just then, I got that feeling when you just “know” and told myself, “I’m doing it.” Now don’t go thinking I was trying to go against WTC rulings or trying to prove a point to anybody. I wasn’t. I had been dealing with this smoke for the past week and had been smart about not training in it when it got bad. I was saving myself for this one day and I hadn’t come all the way to Lake Tahoe to vacation. I wasn’t going home without a fight. In true ER nurse fashion, I strapped my N-95 mask on and began my journey.

      Because of the layout of Lake Tahoe and the mountains, I had a few logistical issues with the flow of my race. I swam in the middle of my bike ride, which is a bit of a change from the usual race day flow. But all in all, the day was extremely pleasant. No pressure, just me and the road and this mission I had set out to accomplish. It’s funny, everyone is so shocked that someone would go out and do this with no crowds and no support. But guess what? That’s what we do every day in training! I don’t always need a man on a microphone (I love you, Mike Reilly!!!) to tell me I’m an Ironman (although I would later get that anyway). Training for these things is the real journey… the every day, silent, long hours that go into even getting to that starting line. So this part was no big deal. I was merely earning the medal that they had already handed out to me (yes, this was the only race I have ever done where I got the medal first and then finished!)

      Despite wearing an N-95 mask under my helmet for over 6 hours, the bike ride was really nice. Elevation was not an issue for me, and the hills, well, I had prepared myself way better than I thought! I only stopped breathing (ok, I’m being dramatic) twice on 2 of the bigger climbs and the scenery is SO AMAZING that you almost forget you’re doing work. The smoke got progressively better throughout the course of the day and by the time I was on the run, I didn’t need the mask at all.

      The marathon was a special experience. By this time, I was aware that there were a few others out on the course and we had already formed a special bond through waves and cheers. Their people became my people and I found myself with random strangers checking on me well into the night. One thing I learned about running a marathon on a mountain is that it is PITCH BLACK. Talk about not being able to see your hand in front of your face! I even had a light on my race belt, but it was still incredibly difficult to navigate the run path in this environment. Towards the second half of the run, I found myself doing loops around our hotel (yay) so that I could see where I was going. This is about the equivalent of running on a treadmill for me, so that part was not very exciting, but I had to get the miles in. About 5 miles from the finish, I decided to detour up the mountain a bit to where the finish line would have been. To my surprise, I was greeted by bright lights, music and about 20 screaming people. I jokingly said, “Wait, I’m not done!” A “guy named Matt,” now on board as a good friend and one of the best Ironman cheerleaders I know), was there leading the group. He started running with me and asked how many miles I had left. I told him 5, and he said, “Great, we’ll be here waiting for you.” I told him they did NOT have to do that and asked about what family members or friends they had come here to support. He responded, “You. We’ve been watching you all day. We came back here for YOU!” WHAT?!?!?! I couldn’t believe these strangers were getting crazy at almost midnight on a dark abandoned mountain for ME…So I continued to run for almost the next hour with a renewed sense of excitement for my once “virtual”, now very much real Ironman Lake Tahoe finish line.

      When I did come in for the finish, I had my very own announcer complete with microphone and loudspeaker, refreshments, an unofficial bedazzled heart necklace and a 1999 Ironman New Zealand bag that one of my new friends had scratched out and scribbled “Ironman Lake Tahoe 2014” in its place. These people were hugging and kissing me like I had known them my entire life. They took pictures and videos and did everything in their power to make the culmination of that initially very disappointing day an incredibly amazing finish! I formed a special bond with them in that moment that has now grown beyond Lake Tahoe. These are my kind of people; these are friendships that will forever remind me that our triathlon community is truly amazing.

      As if it couldn’t get any better, two months following the event, on November 14th, my wildest dream came true. Ironman announced a handful of members of the Ironman Lake Tahoe community who had shown up, checked in and signed up for another race in 2015, that would receive the “golden ticket” to race in the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii... and MY name was on that list! I knew that day in Lake Tahoe was special for many personal reasons, but as it turns out, the decision I made to follow my dreams resulted in the ultimate reward. This was Ironman #4 of 9 for me, but definitely the most important and special one of the bunch. I did it for ME. I did it because it’s in my blood and it’s what I had come to do. I’m proud to be the only known female member of the “Unofficial 6” that finished Ironman Lake Tahoe that day. I learned that if you really want to achieve something, be smart, be safe and go out and get it! I’m glad I did.

      Never give up,

      Jenn Garnand

      @conqueringkona on Instagram

      @conqueringkona on Twitter




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      Runner Files: Rachel Bell Kelley March 21 2016, 0 Comments

      Runner Files: Rachel Bell Kelley

      “If you are going to do something you should do it to the best of your ability” – Rachel Bell Kelley

      Rachel grew up playing soccer and running track. While she has been running for quite a while now, Rachel has only been running trail and ultra events for about four years. Her soccer coach once told her to always smile. Her coach believed participation in sports should first and foremost bring joy to the athlete. While running can be painful at times Rachel always remembers to put a smile on her face. It helps to remind her that at the end of the day she is out there to have fun.

      Rachel was introduced to trail running when she moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She met a great group of trail runners, adopted an awesome trail running pup and hasn’t looked back!

      While Rachel has experienced podium successes, her greatest accomplishment to date is staying healthy and injury free. Four years might not sound like a long time to be in a sport but when you are putting the amount of training time in required for ultra distance events, it’s quite an accomplishment to stay healthy! Rachel’s key to staying injury free is listening to her body (which can be very difficult for runners to do when a goal is on the horizon). While Rachel isn’t afraid to push herself when feeling good she also does not hesitate to pull back if warning signs flare up.

      Rachel has some pretty epic goals on the horizon! She would love to be able to properly train for and finish the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run. Hardrock is one of the most challenging races out there. It has a tremendous amount of elevation change and takes place entirely at or above 10,000 feet elevation. Rachel lives at sea level with the nearest mountains three hours away. This means Rachel will have to get creative with her training in order to accomplish her goals; speed work and stair climbing can simulate the challenges of mountain races. Above all else, Rachel’s biggest goal is to be able to continue racing for years to come so that she can continue to share her passion for the sport and inspire others. Right on, Rachel!

      Running ultra distances is so much more than physical training. Nutrition is key. As a result, Rachel has had to reintroduce meat into her diet after being a vegetarian for nearly a decade. Being a vegetarian was just one more thing to think about when packing for and travelling to races. Rachel now sticks primarily to veggies, nuts, seeds and local meats while avoiding gluten and dairy. Dialing in nutrition is a huge challenge for distance runners and so far this method is working for Rachel.

      Rachel first saw Orange Mud at a race she was volunteering at. At the time, she was new to trail running and looking for a way to simplify hydration. She tried Orange Mud and was hooked! Rachel’s go to product is the Hydraquiver Vest Pack 1. She loves the bottle based hydration because it enables her to mix in hydration products easily while always knowing how much she has left. Rachel also really digs the front pockets on the VP1; she’s able to carry everything she needs for her racing and training!

      We’re super pumped to have Rachel on our team here at Orange Mud. Follow Rachel while she continues to crush her goals and inspire fellow runners @wisp_kelley on Instagram.

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