Tuesday, July 9, 2013

shoes for africa

Dear Customer,

Did you know that your old athletic shoes (running & soccer) can be turned into irrigation pumps, agricultural training, food-bearing plants, tree nurseries, and much more?  Those dusty shoes in your closet have more power than you know!

The MORE Foundation Used Athletic Shoe Recycle Program: We want to help you harness that power by supporting the MORE Foundation Group (formerly PPPF) - a Delaware Not-for-Profit foundation that recycles used athletic shoes in West Africa.  The vast majority of Africans cannot afford new shoes.  The MORE Foundation provides used athletic shoes to street vendors in West Africa. The proceeds then provide tools, training, and technology to the poorest rural farm families in Ghana, West Africa.  Instead of spending 100 years decomposing in landfills, your used athletic shoes can help regenerate farm land in African villages while creating prosperity with a bottom-up approach — one village at a time.  Get all the facts at MOREFoundationGroup.org

How You Can Help: 
Bring in your used - but not abused - athletic shoes. The MORE Foundation needs running shoes (sizes 7 and up) and soccer cleats all sizes. Please tie the laces together.  It's time to change your shoes and change lives.

Where to Put Your Shoes? Look for the collection box near the door. Local Action with a Global Reach!

Help Adopt a Family: With 600 pairs of donated shoes, the MORE Foundation will adopt an African family on our behalf. The family will receive organic farming training as well as the tools and other essential resources to increase their productivity 1000% or more!  We will receive a banner of gratitude from West Africa bearing the name of our adopted family and the name of our store. We will also receive a photograph of our adopted family holding the same banner


(especially those who are new to training programs)

Physical and Fitness Evaluation - 10 sessions - FREE
Workout Strategies and Motivation - 10 sessions - $100 total

Together -
These two programs make a integrated, sensible fitness program.
Separately - Choose the one that fits your budget and interest.

Ladies! Are you interested in improving your health? Would you like more information on nutrition and suggestions on the type of physical activity that will best fit my schedule and interests?  Do you need the motivation to stick to a health and fitness plan?

Well this is what Gear West Ski and Run has to offer: A Free medical consult with a registered nurse coupled with information on how to begin, continue with or discover new types of fitness activities to improve your health and happiness…..

Join us! Offered for a limited time only, below is our background and …’The Plan’!

Ingrid Melander  is a Registered Nurse completing a Bachelor's Degree from Bethel University. She's been a nurse for seven years and a triathlete for 16. Her focus is on holistic nursing and wellness coaching. Her personal philosophy is that most human beings can maintain a healthy life free of medication and illness if given the knowledge and encouragement to do so.

Jan Guenther is the owner of Gear West Ski and Run and Gear West Adrenaline & Casual (all in Long Lake) and at the ripening older age of 54 has years of experience in juggling the sports of running, xc skiing, paddling, swimming, biking, triathlons and a variety of strength exercises with running retail and raising children. Her philosophy is finding creative ways to fit fitness into your busy lifestyle and how to maintain the motivation over the years.

Meet at Gear West  Ski and Run 2x/ month for a five month period.

Physical and Fitness Evaluation - Ingrid

Initial visit is for a private consultation to have: blood pressure, pulse, body fat, BMI, perceived stress level, and body measurements taken. Goals regarding nutrition and fitness will be discussed specifically for the client. Tasks set up to reach those goals determined and then one on one encouragement through text and phone as the client desires. Twice monthly it will be important to collect vitals and measurements to determine health status while working toward health goals.

These services are offered FREE through Gear West with a commitment to meet twice a month with the nurse/consultant. Information and goals will be evaluated and offered for five months.

Workout Strategies and Motivation - Jan
Additionally, after the physical measurements with Ingrid you may sign up for a approximately ½ to ¾ hr (2x/month) to discuss different types of workout options available to you; discussions of fitness goals; what equipment you may need; and the motivation on how to stick to your physical and nutrition goals. Basically at the end of the five months, our goal is to assist YOU with improving your health, understanding a fitness and nutrition plan and helping you stick to the plan so you feel GREAT!  Cost for this program (ten scheduled meetings following the health measurements) is $100  ($10/session)

How do I sign up? Please contact Ingrid  Registered Nurse and Triathlon Coach   
Phone (612) 747-3887 to register a date for the FREE health consult

Or, have questions? Contact Jan at gearwest@gearwest.com

Questions or ready to begin? Ingrid and Jan will be at Gear West Sunday July 21st from 12-4

Trail Running Trends and Footwear

Many longtime road runners are doing more running on trails. Possible explanations are: Their body is sore and they would like a more forgiving surface; they find running on hilly trails and a variety of surfaces uses different muscle groups and allows the runner to become more balanced in strength;  Or, some runners just want more variety and adventure and hitting the trails provides branches to jump over and duck under, rocks to dodge, roots to trip over and the occasional deer hiding in the forest to admire. Regardless of your reasons for running trails you want it to be a good experience and that starts with the proper footwear.

At Gear West, the two questions I hear most from people wanting to trail run are:

1. Do you need trail shoes?
If you are only running on crushed limestone or smooth hard-packed dirt regular running shoes work fine. If you are running on rocks, roots, mud, and twisty single track you may appreciate a trail shoe. Trail shoes provide extra traction, weather resistance, a more stable platform under your foot, toe protection up front and most offer a forefoot rock plate for extra protection when  landing and pushing-off on rocks or roots. Trail shoe ‘uppers’ are more durable than run shoe materials and take more wear and tear than run shoe materials which are built for breathability and low weight.  Trail shoes are not a great idea for road running  because most are firmer and less flexible on the foot, and combined with hard pavement, a trail shoe will provides a hard, unforgiving ride.

2. What is a good trail shoe for you?
You can  start figuring that out  by looking at your road running shoes and see what is working. If you feel better in a more flexible road shoe, you might want to look at trail shoes that bend more easily when you take them in your hands and flex the toe toward the heel.

Every trail shoe brand offer both flexible and stiff models. If you like a shoe that has a firmer raised heel,  try the Salomon trail shoes such as the Mission, Crossmax or Speedcross. If you like a shoe lower and more flexible in the heel, you might try Asics or some of the Montrail models. Many serious trail runners  look for lighter weight with flexibility, such as the Inov8 trail shoe or the Salomon S-Lab Sense.  If you lean towards more flexibility and minimalist shoes with a tiny bit of protection, New Balance offers the  Minimus trail or Vibram Five Fingers offer toe shoes with rock plates in the forefoot – Spyridon, TrekSport, and Lontra. On the flip-side there is a trail shoe designed for cushion – lots of it- to protect your  foot from hard landings on rocky ground –the Hoka Stinson.

Trail shoes to consider
Salomon trail shoes (men's)(women's)
Asics trail shoes (men's)(women's)
Montrail trail shoes (men's)(women's)
Inov8 (men's)(women's)
New Balance (men's)(women's)
Vibram Five Fingers  (men's)(women's) look for Spyridon, TrekSport and Lontra
Hoka Stinson (men's)(women's)

Is Gortex necessary in a trail shoe?
Not unless you are only planning to use the shoe for winter running. Gortex in the summer will be HOT and will also trap the moisture/water from streams or puddles inside your shoe. Tread type could also be important for a trail shoe choice if you plan to run in very muddy locations.
Try several styles of shoes to see what works for you

A wide variety of trail shoes
If you like running trails, you will enjoy the variety of trail shoes offered to runners. Personally you may like a couple of different trail shoes, for different types of trail running. For me, Jan, an avid athlete (who is aging) I prefer a more protective trail shoe when running the Superior Hiking Trail and a lighter more minimal shoe when running the trails around Gear West. Wendi Morin, our Gait Lady, chooses the Vibram 5 Fingers for most everything. The point is, its fun trying different types of shoes and exploring the freedom of movement and/or the protection each provides.
Trail running hints and gear

Other trail gear
Lastly, a few tips on trail gear. If you come from a triathlete background, don’t bring your elastic laces to your trail running experience.  The elastic stretch in the laces could easily contribute to a twisted ankle. Keep them in your road race shoes. Do use however, body glide to prevent chafing, and a durable sock that covers your ankle to prevent cuts from brush and debris from dropping into a lower sock.  For socks we suggest Smartwool or Darntough.

Drinking systems are crucial on long trail runs and trail runners are very personal as to what works best for them. The waist pack drink belts from Nathan (Elite 1 Plus carries water and gel) and the Salomon (Hydro 45) both carry the basic larger water bottle. Little bottles spread evenly around the waist, such as the Nathan Speed 4 or 6 bottle or Fuel Belt, work well for women and those who like water weight distributed evenly. Waist belts made with stretchy webbing fabric fit better than the less expensive designs which use cheaper non-stretchable fabric to hold the bottles.

Hydration packs  – the extreme light weight water packs that Salomon offers such as the Advanced Skin S-Lab set  are  the best set- up for carrying a lot of water comfortably- and the bag is designed to carry gels and other foods or discarded clothing. Hand held sets like the Nathon Quickshot or larger Vaperdraw allow you to easily carry water bottles in your hand. The new market entry is Salomon’s new collapsible flasks for their new  S-Lab Hydro Set– a hand held hydration system.

We hope this gives you a good place to start when it comes to what you need or want for your trail runs. Come on out to Gear West!  Bring your road shoes, tell us what you like about them and we’ll help you find your new trail shoes and what cool accessories work best for your trail adventures!

~Wendi  (AKA The shoe Whisperer)
~Jan Guenther the store owner.

Please call the store with any questions on these products

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Favorite Trail

Some great entries for our favorite trail contest.


My favorite trail is Chester Bowl in Duluth, MN.  I used to run it every day in the Spring and Fall when I went to UMD.



There are a lot of "destination" trails upon which anyone would love to ski, hike, etc. However, the CCCP trail has to be my favorite, because it is on my property and I can be on it every day of the week! I call it CCCP for Cannon Cross Country Program - I live half-way between Cannon Falls and Red Wing. From here I don't use the Twin Cities trails very often - I especially avoid the long trip to the 2K loop at Elm Creek. So its nice to have CCCP so handy! There is ~100 feet of topographic relief and I have a half-dozen tricky downhills that remind me, and prepare me, for Bobblehead Hill on the Birkie trail. I own 40 acres so there is a fair amount of looping around, but its a good place to fit in an hour of skiing on a busy day. Belle Creek runs through the property, so if the temperature cooperates (below zero for a couple of days) the creek is ski-able too. Deer, turkeys, eagles, and many other birds and wildlife keep me company on the CCCP trail. Right now the wildflowers are keeping my honeybees happy.



The most amazing views!



My favorite trail is the Appalachian Trail. I hiked this end-to-end in 2006, taking 5 months and 4 days to complete its then 2,176-mile length. I hiked it solo and turned 54 on the trail. About 3000 people attempt to "thru-hike" the trail every year. Only about a third finish. It was a huge accomplishment for me, as many can imagine.

The AT is the nation's first designated National Scenic Trail. Because of its location up the spine of the Appalachian Range in the eastern US, millions of people step on the trail every year to day hike, or backpack for a weekend or, like me, several months. For that reason, it is sometimes referred to as "The People's Path."

The AT is a unit of the National Park Service, but it crosses many land managed by the Forest Service, as well as crosses state and local park units, as well as some private lands. It starts at Springer Mountain about an hour north of Atlanta, GA and winds its way through 14 states to Mt. Kathadin in Baxter State Park in central Maine. It's highest point is at Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (6643') with its lowest point at the Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain, NY (124'). The AT is maintained along its length through a volunteer network of 31 trail clubs.

I live in Asheville, NC now and volunteer for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and my local AT trail club. The AT is nearby and people travel from all over the world to especially hike up to the southern balds - denuded areas on mountain tops that afford one a 360 view of the Appalachian Range. There is no firm reason why these anomalous balds exist.

Thanks for letting me share my brief story and a picture. Gear up some folks and send them east so they can enjoy the AT!



My favorite trail ... is the Blue Lake Trail in the Rawah Wilderness of north-central Colorado!

Starting out around 9,500ft and winding up to over 11,000ft, it's an exhausting run but definitely worth the view once you make it to Blue Lake (photographed last fall)! Don't forget to ice your legs in the glacial waters before heading back down! We help maintain the trail through our graduate school program to make sure it stays accessible to all.



This trail has it all! From the quiet beauty of it's trickling streams and rare mountain flowers that grow only at 14,000 feet, to the ruggedness of the rocks and the unforgiving boulders on mountaineer's route, to the physical challenge of the endless scree scramble to the base of the notch and lastly to the technical climb on the final push to the summit of the highest peak in the lower 48.  This trail will test your will and leave you breathless but forever changed!