After much thought and talking to many friends, I have decided to get back on the proverbial “writing” trail again. I am excited to jump start my blog back into life and hopefully discuss some interesting topics.
First of all, a lot has changed. I needed a change. I needed to take care of me and get healthy. Being healthy is a choice and it is work. A lot of work. But you do it. You have to train your mind to accept it and then your body to handle it. It’s never easy. But, if you set reasonable goals, you will see results. I set one major goal and then several little goals along the way. I am not at my major goal yet, but I have had incredible multiple little success all along the way so far. After a year I am closer to being the new and improved version of me I have been wanting to be for a very long time. I decided it was time to stop complaining and start acting. You know that old axiom… “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it”! When I started my journey I was 250 pounds. As of the writing of this blog I am now at 205. I have a ways to go yet, but I like where I am headed. Working out regularly (4-5 times a week), jumping on the Keto bandwagon (although not religiously, but it certainly is working wonders) and above all, being accountable to friends and family to help keep me committed to staying the course. So, if you have been a part of my journey, I cannot thank you enough for your investment in me.
Ok, enough of that. As a kid, through high school and into college, I was a very active person… baseball, track, cross country and soccer as well as hiking anywhere and everywhere I could, even if that meant the swamps and backwoods of my stomping grounds in Florida. I never really thought about the proper gear, shoes, etc. But, as I am healthier and able to do so much more I am paying a lot of attention to what works and what doesn’t work for the activities I do. I exercise (run, row and floor/strength conditioning) and I hike, usually once or twice a year in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
So, let’s talk today about exercise, trials and the right shoes. There are so many factors to being able to stay focused and aware in our daily lives. Exercise, wow, I cannot say enough about it. It gives you drive, strength and stamina. It clears your mind. It helps get oxygen flowing through your body and into your brain through increased blood flow. So whatever your poison, there is a specific “chalice” for it. Your shoes.
Notice the picture below. We are at an Orangetheory Fitness Studio in Spring, Texas. Notice that each of us is wearing workout gear… water-wicking style shirts and shorts as well as proper shoes. If you do not get professional advice before working out on the proper shoes for the activity you will be a part of, you could be doing more damage to your body, especially your feet, than you know. I speak from experience.
Let’s take running for example. When I started I needed a thicker, heavier-support style running shoe to support the weight that I carried. There are several factors to consider when thinking about replacing your running/workout shoes. The Asics professional running team recommend changing between 450-500 miles .
Height, weight, frequency, weather and road/trail/treadmill conditions play an active part in the wear-down of your shoes, so be careful to not over-extend their welcome. So, if you run, not jog or power walk, your shoes definitely should be designed specifically for running. I have been consistently running since January 2017 (9.5-11 minute miles depending on my distance). I alternate between two different pairs of Nike running shoes. I am in no way promoting or recommending any specific brand. Plain and simple I have had great success with Nike running shoes. Comfort and fit are key. Running shoes typically offer more heel and arch support since that is where the majority of the friction will take place. Another type of shoe athletes like to wear are cross-fit style shoes. They are a bit lighter than a running shoe and generally offer less arch and heel support as they are designed more for short intervals of running, weight lifting and floor exercises designed for strength conditioning. I made the mistake of thinking since they were lighter that they would be great for running. Not a good decision for me. Almost immediately after starting to use them for running I began to get some serious shin splints that just would not go away. About a week or two after going back to my running shoes my shin splints finally faded… boy, you talk about pain!
If you are a walker, jogger or power walker, you may be able to alternate the style of shoe from a walking shoe, to a cross-fit shoe to a running shoe. If you do a lot of inclines you may want a running shoe with more support, but lots of flat walking, most cross trainers and cross-fit shoes will do the job. I have adopted the Orangetheory saying that goes like this: “Nothing feels better than a finished workout”! I complain before I get to the studio or gym, but am always glad I forced myself to get there and get my workout on! I always feel better afterward! There is so much more we could talk about here but I’ll leave that to the experts!
Let’s move on to one of my all time favorite activities, hiking. Whether it’s in the woods and swamps of Florida, the trails around the sugar mills of St. John U.S. Virgin Islands, hiking the trials in an around the Rocky Mountain National Park or running drills at your favorite outdoor gun range, you need to be prepared to protect your feet. Sweat, water, heat, cold and socks all play a part in successful hiking. For wet hiking environments look for a water-wicking style of sock (i.e Pure Athlete), for some damp but mostly dry environments, look for a 70+ % merino wool style sock (i.e. People socks), for cold environments a thermal based sock will keep you dry and warm (i.e. DG Hill) and then for general dry and arid hiking trails, an ultra lightweight merino wool sock is best suited for the job (i.e. Smartwool, made in Colorado). We’ve got your feet covered, now let’s talk about protection, hiking shoes.
We could certainly spend a lot of time here as the market is flooded with an overwhelming number of choices. Hiking shoes, hiking boots, tennis shoes, military boots, you name it. You can throw a dart at your local sporting goods store and hit almost any make and model available. But, here are a couple of guidelines to consider. Weather (cold, wet, dry, hot). Terrain (snow, sand, mud, gravel, rocks, boulders). First, let’s address dry, hot, sandy, gravelly trails. Usually these areas are fairly easy to navigate regardless if you are a novice or an experienced hiker. Typically an ankle-height hiking shoe is best suited as you need the flexibility and movement in your ankles in the dry to softer terrain. You can go extremely high dollar or fairly moderately priced, but anywhere in that range will get you the style, quality and comfort you need to have a safe and enjoyable hike. I alternate between Merrill and Vasque. Both very comfortable, but Vasque is a bit heavier and will do a fairly good job of keeping water from puddles and shallow streams out of your shoe. The Merrill I use is lighter, and seems to grip a bit better in gravely type terrain but will definitely get your feet wet in puddles and shallow streams.
When I am hiking rough, rocky terrain with some water exposure, I have to admit, I totally favor military style boots specifically designed for our troops to withstand their harsh environments, day after day. For example. Below, the boot on the left, is Oakley’s very first military combat boot (the SI), designed hand in hand with experts from the U.S. Navy Seals. Our boys wore these extensively in the inhospitable terrains found across Afghanistan, especially in the Hindu Kush mountains. They are comfortable, keep you dry, grip almost any terrain in any weather condition, wet, snow, dry, hot, and the 6″ height provides optimal ankle protection from twists and turns. I wore these out using them for hiking as well as in my business as a firearms instructor. I have smoothed out the soles and have worn the outer lining off, but man, these were phenomenally comfortable in any conditions. The boot on the right, also made by Oakley, is the Tactical Six, also a 6″ boot. These are my replacements to my SIs and I wore them for the first time this past October, while hiking trails in Colorado and am happy to say they were amazingly well suited for that rough, gravelly, rocky terrain, as well as water. Having crossed several shallow streams, not a drop of water penetrated the boot, keeping me high, dry and warm. They provide superior ankle support, are a comfortable fit and my feet never seemed to feel fatigued after wearing them all day. These are an excellent choice for cooler climates as they keep you nice and warm, even while standing in 6″ of snow.
As I said in the beginning, I am NOT a professional runner or hiker. I just thought I’d give you a point of view from an average guy, doing average things while overcoming personal hurdles to becoming more fit every day! This is truly fun stuff for me! Sure, I can always talk guns, ammo and politics, but, why?
I hope you found this, at the very least, entertainingly interesting, but at the most, directly helpful in your own journey in becoming a healthier you. Let me know what you think, good, bad or indifferent. I’d like your thoughts. I’ll post your responses. As always friends, Stay Focused!