Why You Need a Hydroflask

(Read to the end for a special offer.)

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At Kazi, we are not in the business of endorsing brands. However, this summer we must publicly and genuinely thank our friends at Hydroflask. This is not a water bottle; it is a lifestyle.

How many times have you filled a water bottle to the brim with ice or put boiling hot coffee into a thermos in an effort to preserve the temperature that makes the beverage so much more enjoyable? How many times have you been promised that a device is a solution to these problems only to find out 3 hours later that all your ice has melted and the boiling heat is now just lukewarm?

Dissatisfying. Disappointed. Disenchanted with the product.

The bottles and thermoses begin to take up more and more space in your cupboards like bland pieces of wonder bread with no substance, character, or redeeming quality. Some of them have a logo you like but since when were we in the business of buying products because of the logo? (Actually, that’s a bad question – we do it every day. But you get my point.) The products don’t work.

Until Hydroflask.

The vacuum-insulated stainless steels bottle is truly a marvel. TempShield technology allows cold liquids to remain cold for up to 24 hours and hot liquids to remain “steaming” for up to 6 hours. And for once this is a company that makes good on its promises. You don’t get that metallic taste that you get with some water bottles.

For those hot runs and hikes, the Hydroflask has been our trusty companion. We know people who own multiple bottles. And not just two; but three or even four.

So give it a shot; you’ll be glad you did.

And – in our first ever promotion of this type – if you get 15 of your friends to download Kazi, we will send you your own Hydroflask, free of charge.

(Image credit: Hydroflask)

Cross Training Benefits

Cross-training has been an ever-present term in the running community over the past decade. It is defined as “training in two or more sports to improve fitness and performance, especially in the main sport.”

Google Trends data suggests high and sustained levels of interest and there are countless books written about it, including Cross-Training for Dummies.

Typically, most people will discuss some of the biomechanical benefits of cross training. They say that it improves overall fitness, reduces injuries, and enhances “active recovery” (Men’s Fitness). Some say it improves weight loss, and Runner’s World says that it can “increase the number of time runners spend training without accumulating fatigue or getting injured.”

As none of these articles cite genuine scientific research on the benefits of cross-training, we suppose one simply must take the authors’ word for it.

Or should we?

The New York Times in 2011 issued a report that looked at the body of scientific evidence behind cross-training. The conclusion? No significant evidence of improved performance and no significant evidence of reduced injury incidence.

Now, the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine suggests cross-training because it is beneficial for one’s overall health. That is fairly intuitive of course. Just like running has a salutary impact on one’s “running health”, exercising other parts of the body surely boosts your health on a broader basis.

But here is what is said on actual performance improvements (emphasis added):

Hirofumi Tanaka, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas in Austin, came to that conclusion more than a decade ago in a review of published papers. Studies comparing athletes, both trained and untrained, had found that only one factor mattered if performance was the goal: training in that sport.

Since then, he said, there have been numerous small studies, asking the same question and coming to the same conclusion. For example, two subsequent recent studies — one involving moderately fit runners and the other trained runners — found that adding cycling to a running program did not improve running performance.

The article continues by then examining the impact of cross-training on injury prevention:

Dr. Willem van Mechelen, head of public and occupational health at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, looked at data on injuries in runners and tried to tease out the factors that were linked to them. And he concluded that the only way to prevent running injuries is not to run.

The harder you run and the longer your running distances, the more likely you are to get injured. And, he wrote, among the factors “significantly not associated with running injuries” is “participation in other sports.”

Unless cross-training means you simply do less of your primary sport, then, don’t expect it to protect you from injuries.

In fairness, resistance training (like weight lifting) has been shown – in some cases -to produce improved performance. But the impact is intermittent and depends on the activity for which you are cross-training.

Nevertheless, there is one benefit to cross-training that is surely undeniable; there is a reduction in burnout risk with cross-training. Participation in a rigorous training program is tiring physically and mentally. Having an activity that keeps you moving (lowering frustration risk) but reduces your involvement in the core activity (e.g. running) reduces the risk that you will lose the love for your exercise and view it as a chore instead.

Keep up the cross-training! Not only will it make you faster or reduce your injury count, but b it will provide some degree of the mental piece, variability, and excitement for your morning workout.

(Image credit: TryCardio)

The Top 8 Ways For The Not-So-Athletic To Get To The Olympics​

8. Canoe slalom – whitewater kayak. This is one of my favorite events to watch and has got to be a great deal of fun to participate in. We don’t know where one trains for this event but if you know, please tweet at us or send an email because this has “corporate team-building event” written all over it.

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7. Table Tennis. The benefit here is that you can train on a budget. Sure, you might look like Forest, Forest Gump doing it but there is no limit to the training that you can do.

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6. Archery. Archery holds potential for many of our older members. It is an event based on precision and accuracy, nerves and composure. It is one of those events that you can actually show continuous improvement as you age.

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5. Handball. Perhaps the easiest event, this is a game played by many countries that struggle in basketball. Moreover, you don’t need to be the best one or two in the country because it is a team event. The rest of the team can carry you if you aren’t quite up to snuff.

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4. Bobsleigh. This is the one winter sport that we have on the list today. Admittedly, it is perhaps more difficult than we credit it. However, to our simple understanding, how difficult can it be (other than the little thing of “fear of one’s life) to strap yourself into a sled and go racing down an ice chute at 100 mph.

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3. Equestrian dressage. The problem is…you need a horse.

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2. Shooting. Similar to archery, and really – us Americans should never lose this event.

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1. Synchronized swimming. Any commentary needed?

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(Image credit: Olympic.org)

 

 

Cuba has 2x the Brazilian Olympics medal count? Really?

Fernanda Rodrigues and Jaqueline Carvalho from Brazil with gold medal

Like all good Olympics fans, at Kazi we have been digging through past data to get our bearings on the upcoming Games. It was of little surprise to us that the United States leads by a wide margin in the all-time medal count. It should; it is the world’s largest economy and has plenty of resources to provide the best and most complete training for its athletes. Further, the economic strength means there is significantly less malnourishment and physiological stress.

However, it is interesting that Russia/Soviet Union have averaged more Olympic medals per game edition than the United States. While the eastern European entity has averaged 123 medals in the 14 Games it has participated in, the United States has averaged just 103 in its 26 Games. There are probably a few good reasons for this; not least among them that the number of sports at the Olympics has been rising. Immediately following WWII, there were roughly 17-20 sports at the Games but in Rio there will be 28.

Nevertheless, we are sure that the Russian propaganda machine will be out in force, using this blog as a cornerstone for its national pride. (Kazi is just that important to them, we think, especially since we correctly predicted that the proposed Russian-Rio exclusion would come to nought. Yes, we are becoming a bit of a Nostradamus, in our time, especially when we are proven right about next year’s Golden State Warriors.)

But perhaps the biggest surprise out of the data that we saw, and something that no one will be very fond of talking about is the stunning lack of success Brazilian athletes have enjoyed at the Games. The country has earned just 108 medals in 21 appearances, fewer than even an independent Ukraine – a company that has participated in just 5 editions!

Brazil is a large country; its population of ~200 million is more than four times that of Ukraine’s. Little Cuba has participated in fewer games and has double the medal count! Yes, Cuba’s total is a whopping 209. And for those of you who will say that South American teams have needed to travel and it’s tougher for them, I would note that Argentina has 70 medals. It is a smaller total but for a country with a population of 45 million, still a much better ratio than Brazil – 70% of the medal count with 25% of the population.

So why is Brazil so bad when it comes to the Olympics? Is it just because they are so much more focused on soccer and so much less focused on the track and field events where countries can really rack up the medals? Maybe…but wouldn’t the same hold true for Argentina?

We think we have found the answer: samba is not yet an Olympic sport. It must be a conspiracy because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) surely knows that as soon as it becomes a sanctioned event, Brazil will be on the up and up. So watch out USA. And watch out Russia. increase that medal gap while you still can.

Enjoy the Games!

-Kazi

(image credit: Volleywood.net)

 

The PokeWorkout

The Pokemon Craze is here. It’s available, it’s everywhere, it’s a new reality!. Well, it’s augmented reality, but many people already can’t tell the difference. People are using Kazi to meet up, buy battery packs, and slay Pokemon together. It is happening all over in every corner of the United States. It happened today in Atlanta, GA and it happened last week in Eugene, OR.

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But if you are like me, you have attended one of these gatherings to find that your measly Level 8 Pokemon Trainer has nothing even close to that of the Level 15s and the Level 20s. This weekend, you need to do something different, step up your Pokeslaying game and return to work at Level 25.

But this raises a couple of thorny questions. First, how do you do this without taking three days off from work? Second, how can you possibly catch up to these Pokemasters?

Today, Kazi answers your questions in a few simple steps:

  1. Create a Kazi Pokemon Group. A group will give you the incentive to follow through on your commitment. Meet on both Saturday and Sunday at a large public park. For example, if you are in Kennesaw, GA, meet at Kennesaw Mountain. In Eugene, try the University of Oregon, or Spencer Butte, or Mt. Pisgah. These places are where we all know that the Pokemon are hiding.
  2. Before you arrive, hit as many Pokestops as you can. Collect all the Pokeballs you can so that you don’t have to worry about running short on supply when game time rolls around.
  3. Speed train. Sprint as fast as you can until you feel your phone vibrate. Catch the Pokemon and then continue with your sprint. If you want a great workout, this is best done going uphill. Your quads will be screaming at you the next day, but it will be worth it.

Having done all this, then show up at your next Kazi run with your Level 25.

Why Road Running Beats Treadmills

We’ve all done it. We’ve all been on our own human hamster wheel, spinning the plastic covering as we watch the yellow dots slowly, inexorably fill up the digital track. For the lucky ones, we’ve watched yet another morning news program on yet another network talk about yet another pop star with yet another song.

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The minutes drift by painfully and wearily, like Time itself decided to get lazy today. You ramp up the incline, speed up, speed down, a finger permanently on the dashboard. Your three miles has become a chore, a thing you dread. Sure, you might feel “good” afterward. Similarly, you might feel “good” after leaving the DMV…just because it’s over.

That’s not how exercise should be. And that’s not what exercise is.

This is why we run outside. And there are a few very practical reasons for this:

  •  When you run outside, unless you are running in the salt flats in Peru, you’re probably running on different terrain, even if there’s just one small hill. This is a good thing because it strengthens your body and improves your form. Some people struggle mightily with the transition from the treadmill to outdoors simply because they aren’t used to having to deal with different environments. It’s like if a doctor just dealt with colds and coughs all day and then had a patient come in with a stomachache. Although the process of making a diagnosis may be the same, the cold-and-cough doctor may have unknowingly taken shortcuts simply because he never really had to use the process.
  • Fresh air. We all know that feeling when you come in from the outdoors, whether you’ve been tending the garden, or walking, or running. It’s that glow that you feel and it’s what we need. It doesn’t even need to be sunny. Some of the best runs that I’ve been on have been in what are veritable downpours. It’s almost the craziness of running through a thunderstorm which makes you laugh at yourself and appreciate the joy of being able to be outside – something not everyone is able to experience.
  • Stride length. We talked a lot about cadence and stride length last week. For those of you with long legs and long strides, sometimes a treadmill is simply too short to have a comfortable stride. You find yourself adjusting and modifying your natural gait simply so you don’t fall off one end or the other. Now, in all reality, falling off is very unlikely. But the subconscious adjustments you make harm your running form long-term.
  • Pace. Varying pace is key. Gallons of ink have been spilled about keeping a steady pace, but sometimes you may have a mile where for some reason you just feel better and want to go faster, or slower. That is much easier to do when you’re not on a treadmill. On a treadmill, you are almost shackled to the pace that you select and it is trickier to change pace on a whim.

So I know it’s hot, but get outside. You’ll enjoy your morning 3-miler more and not just when it’s over.

(Image credit: WineWorkoutWhipperSnappers)

The Two Most Underrated Ingredients in your Running Times

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Your cadence – the frequency of your steps – is inversely correlated with your stride and is perhaps the key to maximizing your potential as a runner. No one ever talks about this, though. Instead, grab your nearest running book and it’s about the psychology of running, how upright you need to stand, how many fartleks you need to do in order to prepare for the next race.

But your stride length is critical to everything. To illustrate, imagine your body as a bicycle. When you go downhill or you’re on flat smooth ground, you crank up the gears because you can go faster with a given amount of energy. You let the topography of the land work to your advantage. You don’t want to go down a steep hill in first gear and have the pedals whizzing all over the place while you struggle to control the bicycle. Rather you move to a bigger gear. Similarly, when climbing steep hills, you go to the smaller gear, spin the pedals faster and grind on up. You won’t go as far with each rotation, but when you are working against the grade, it is a more sustainable strategy than trying to stand up on the pedals and crank on it with a big gear.

The same is true when you go running. When you’re feeling good, on the flats, trying to grab a few extra seconds, or flying down a hill, feel free to stretch those legs and let your stride length work for you. And when you’re having a rough day, need to last a long time, or are climbing a hill, shorten it a bit. You’re not going to set any land speed records but you will be able to sustain your effort for a longer period of time.

Dogs do this subconsciously. When they are excited and full of energy, they bound forward with powerful force but when they are tired, they simply trot alongside you with short rapid steps.

We started off this discussion by talking about cadence. And that is how we will finish it. The key to all this is actually not to vary your cadence – the frequency with which you step – all that much. The key is to vary your stride length so you don’t have to vary your cadence on long runs. On shorter runs when you are going as fast as you can you want to maximize both. But on longer runs, a consistent cadence with consistent energy output will necessitate variety of stride length.

So don’t fight it. Let the hills work for you through stride length modification. Keep the tempo high and rhythmic and you’ll see two things happen. Your times will fall and you will feel less tired at the end of a run.

(Image credit: MuddyRace)