Tag Archives: Minnesota

Getting Traction on Ice and Snow

What do you wear to gain traction while running in icy or snowy conditions? I personally wear YakTrax when I want extra traction and sure footing.  I know of people who drill small sheet metal screws into their shoes, and I’m sure people use other brand traction devices.  What is your preferred device?

There are a few factors I consider before adding my YakTrax to my shoes.

1) Where am I going?

We live by a hospital so if I run that direction I’m guaranteed that a large part of my run will be on plowed the majority of my run. Running the Lakes? They will be plowed, but not to the ground.  Downtown – plowed to the sidewalk.

2) What are the conditions of the trail/sidewalk?

This depends on where you go.  Most actual off-road trails won’t have been plowed and I often will wear the YakTrax on them just to be safe.

3) Is there fresh snow/ice?

If the snow/ice is fresh or falling then I’d probably wear them just to be safe.

I’ve worn my YakTrax a few times this year for runs. A lot of my runs from home end up having a fair amount of the run being on sidewalks that are well taken-care of (hospital or downtown) so I don’t wear them a lot.

The YakTrax basically use a coil of wire to form an X on the ball and heel of your shoe.  They pull over the sole of your shoe and have a strap that helps hold them on.  They make a very distinctive mark in the snow!  When running on clear pavement these coils add a little bit of spring to your step and if worn for long stretches can mess up your shins.  For shorter periods of clear pavement you can survive or run in a snow bank to prevent the shin pain.

In the past when I’ve known I’ll want them for running around a park I’ve crossed the street or even run in the street instead of running on the hospital’s clear sidewalk.

I’ve been wearing YakTrax since we moved to Minnesota 6 years ago.  I wore my first pair out mid-winter last year and bought a new pair of YakTrax Pro.  I did receive a free pair of YakTrax Pro to review this winter (and some hand warmers).

My YakTrax wore out similar to how the heel of my shoe wore down.  The rubber and coils on the back of the heel eventually broke due to my running form.  I didn’t keep track of how many miles it took for this to occur, but having them for almost 5 years seems like a pretty good amount of time for them to last.

Another benefit of YakTrax over sheet metal screws is that you can wear them on virtually any shoe (mine won’t fit onto my winter boots, but do on my every day winter shoes).  This also allows you to rotate through your running shoes instead of only wearing (and ruining) one pair of shoes!

Have you enjoyed your YakTrax or other traction method?  What works for you?

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Give to the Max 2011

Today is Give to the Max Day in Minnesota.  It is your chance to support your favorite MN nonprofit organizations.  Why is today special? One donation each hour is a Golden Ticket, earning the recipient an extra $1,000.  Additionally there are awards of up to $15,000 given in a variety of categories.

This year, in the first hour of giving $100,000 was given! In 2010, over $10 million was raised by 42,000 Minnesotans.  Each year (2009, 2010) I’ve provided a list of running related organizations you could support.  This year’s list is sadly smaller.  I’ve decided only to highlight organizations that have completed the GiveMN portal’s profile.

In no particular order:

Bolder Options – youth mentoring

YWCA of Minneapolis – fitness, youth, women, and so much more

YMCA of Metropolitan Minneapolis – fitness, youth, and so much more

She Runs – helping young girls complete their first 5k

Twin Cities in Motion – Support TCM’s community work

Team Tesfa – support education in Ethiopia

Midtown Greenway Coalition – support the Midtown Greenway

I’m sure I’ve missed some great running organizations.  Let me know which ones and I’ll gladly update the list.

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Team World Vision Tackles TCM

I had a lot of fun cheering for all of the runners at this year’s Twin Cities Marathon.  I wasn’t sure which of my friends were actually running, so I was caught by surprise as a few of them ran past.  My wife said I looked scary, but I was dressed to be riding my bike on what started in the sub-40’s temp wise and warmed up quite nicely.

I met up with my friend Brad, who also happens to be the regional coordinator for Team World Vision.  We did a lot of cheering for the Team World Vision folks.  Brad brought a bullhorn which you heard right before mile 15 and 26.  He was pretty funny on the bullhorn and most of the runners really enjoyed his cheering and antics.  Several people requested he cheer for certain runners! At mile 26 a woman actually stopped running and did a somersault for us!

We cheered for pretty much everyone who went by and I cheered specifically for the friends that I saw, but the Team World Vision – orange jersey stands out and so I was able to get some good pictures of them.  Below I created short video:

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Twin Cities Running Stores

You can buy shoes almost anywhere it seems.   But runners tend to be a little more picky about shoes that are going to carry them over the miles.  Most runners tend to prefer a good quality running shoe or the growing trend of going barefoot.  Even barefooters need clothing and accessories.  So I’ve compiled a list of the “running specialty stores” in the Twin Cities metro area.  I’ve commented as best I can on them.  I’ve listed the Top 5, followed by a few others!  I hope this list is helpful and please provide feedback on your experiences.
Run N Fun – St Paul, Burnsville
If you were to ask most of the guys I run with, they would say this is the only running store to visit. The Burnsville store just opened last year and their St Paul store was in the news due to a robbery.  Their staff is extremely knowledgeable and experienced.  The St Paul store, which I’ve been to a few times, covers 3 or 4 store fronts and offers quite a range of merchandise. Like most of the other stores they offer a great discount for local running clubs (I know the MDRA and USATF-MN).  They have a Facebook group that shares photos, upcoming events, and information.  Finally, Run N’ Fun is the choice of most of the local college teams.
Marathon Sports – Minneapolis
This is probably the running store I’ve been in the most.  The MDRA training groups have had special discounted events there.  Most recently I won a gift certificate from the MDRA Annual Party.  They are known for having a doctor in the store twice a month.  They are also located a block from Lake Harriet. I’ve always been impressed with the staff and the products they offer.  The last event hosted there included post-run bagels and drinks plus a special discount (larger than the normal MDRA).
Running Room – Minneapolis, Burnsville, Woodbury, St Paul, Rochester, and Maple Grove
This is the closest store to our house and I’ve been there a few times.  They are the most “corporate” of the specialty stores.  Running Room is a chain of stores in Minnesota, Iowa, and Canada.  I was not overly impressed with their staff the few times I’ve been there.  But they have some amazing sales.  One thing that sets the Running Room apart is their marketing machine.  It helps to have the large corporate backing (i.e. not being family owned) but they have a monthly newsletter and sales.
Gear – Edina
I’ve never actually been into this store.  Some friends of mine really love it and say it is one of the best running stores.  Here is their Facebook Fan Page.  It is actually very close to Marathon Sports.
TC Running Company – Eden Prairie
We visited this store one night for a Team USA-Minnesota event.  Nothing really stands out to me about that brief experience.  They sponsor a team and have an RV that makes appearances at races. Their Athlinks page has some great info.
Other Running Stores
I included some “corporate” stores, because they do sell running shoes and occasionally the staff can be very helpful. In college we actually went to Finish Line.  They didn’t really provide much technical help, but we got a good discount.
Schuler’s Shoes (Twin Cities New Balance) – Bloomington, Burnsville, Golden Valley, Maple Grove, Roseville, Saint Cloud, St Louis Park, and Woodbury
Runner’s Edge – St Paul Their website doesn’t work and the phone rings and rings.  Anyone know if they are open still?
Nokomis Shoe Shop – Minneapolis
Runners Gate – Lakeville
Gear West – Long Lake
Start Line – Minnetonka
REI – Roseville, Bloomington, Maple Grove
Foot Locker – Minneapolis, St Paul, Richfield, Edina
Finish Line – Burnsville, Mall of America, Minnetonka, Maple Grove
[tags] Running Shoe Stores, Shoes, Store, Twin Cities [/tags]
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2010 MDRA Annual Party Awards

The MDRA Annual Party is a great time to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen since the marathon!  It is also a great place to win gift certificates, race entries, and other running related stuff.  Not to mention the free pizza and ice cream! All in all a great event, especially since I won $20 to Marathon Sports, and some friends gave me their race entries to some local 5k’s. Here is a slideshow from the day taken by Wayne Kryduba.

State of the Club address by President, Kirk Walztoni:

2010 Awards:

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Volunteer of the Year Award this year went to Rob Lundquist.  Rob is an all around great guy who continues to provide invaluable service to MDRA and the running community.

MN Elite Athlete Development Program.  From Twin Cities in Motion (pdf):

MEADP is a collaboration of Grandma’s Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Inc., Austin-Jarrow Sports and the Minnesota Distance Running Association, and is designed to assist elite Minnesota distance runners who have completed their academic running careers in reaching their full athletic potential. In 2009, MEADP will provide
grants, in amounts up to $2,000 per recipient, to promising Minnesota elite distance runners, to
assist them in reaching their full athletic potential.
Recepients were:
Pat Lanin Award From Down the Backstretch:

Masters road racing star and long-time MDRA officer Gloria Jansen will be presented with the Lanin Award for Distinguished Service. The award is MDRA’s most prestigious honor, given for years of service and contribution to the sport.

The award is named for the founder of MDRA, Pat Lanin.

MDRA Grand Prix Winners:

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Full video
If you want to watch the entire 30 minute video, it can be found here.

[tags] MDRA, Minnesota, Running, Awards [/tags]
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