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If you’re a runner who also happens to be into jam bands and/or electronic music, these Bisco workout mixes might be the greatest thing you’ve ever heard. Or you might hate them. But for me, these running mixes are the perfect companion to a long cardio workout. They’re also great for just zoning out in the gym.

They’re excerpts from live improvisational performances by The Disco Biscuits, mixed together so that everything “flows” well from one jam to the next. The composed parts of the songs have been removed (in most cases), so there’s usually a pretty consistent beat. Most of these came from the deepest, darkest corners of Phantasy Tour message board, and I take no credit for the creation (or contents) of these jams.

So, without further ado… Biscuits workout mixes!

Not sure where to start? If I recall correctly, my favorites are “The Firemost Running Mix”, “Resurrection Running Mix”, “The Decade Running Mix”, and “Project Four Running Mix”… But they’re all good. Download a few and get your ass out the door for a run!

I’ve been running with the Nike Free Run+ shoes since August of 2010. They were my first pair of minimal running shoes (besides the Vibram FiveFingers), and while I’ve really enjoyed running in them, I wanted to try something new. I would say that 25% of my runs are done without any shoes on, but I’ve hurt my feet a few times running this way. I wanted to find something as minimal as possible that still provided some level of protection.

I did some reading and learned that there are shoes that are even more “minimal” than the Free Run+. Enter Evo Mesh (by VIVOBAREFOOT).

Evo Mesh minimal running shoes by VIVOBAREFOOT

These shoes are very minimal – they only weigh 7 ounces. They’re not the best looking sneakers I’ve ever seen – in fact, they’re kinda ugly – but that’s not really what I was looking for here. As I said before, I wanted some shoes that would bring me as close to barefoot as possible without risking damage to my feet. Based on the reviews I read, Evo Mesh were the shoes I was looking for.

The last time I ran barefoot, I had the genius idea of trying to run a 7 minute mile, and I shredded my toes up pretty good. Because of this, I hadn’t run barefoot in probably about a month, so my calves were not prepared for the run that they were about to embark on.

I started off with a very light jog to allow my feet to get used to the new shoes. The first thing I noticed was that these shoes really did seem more minimal than the Free Run+. I could feel more of the ground below me. It almost felt like I was running in socks, except the bottoms of my feet felt protected from sharp objects. Running in these shoes is as close to running barefoot as it gets… Without actually running barefoot. You land on your toes and barely tap your heel at all.

Anyway, I jogged for about an eighth of a mile, then I got impatient and started running. After about a mile, my calves were on fire. As I said, I hadn’t run barefoot for at least a month, and the Nike Free Run+ runs don’t work my calves the way barefoot running does. Clearly these Evo Mesh shoes are closer to barefoot running than the Nikes are.

It may have been the awesome music I was running to, but I noticed myself running faster than usual, with no desire to pace myself or slow down.

But at around 1.75 miles, I had to slow down. Calves! I walked for about half a mile as I headed back towards my house, and then I took off running again, even though it hurt. I don’t mind a “good hurt” – as long as it’s just my calves screaming at me because I’m working them harder than they’re used to, and it’s not pain from an injury, I don’t mind it.

I finished my 2.76 mile run in 23 minutes and 10 seconds.

I think that I run much slower barefoot because I’m always worried I’m going to stub my toe or step on something sharp. With the Evo Mesh, that fear was alleviated.

This run was last Wednesday (May 4th), and I haven’t run since. It wasn’t until Sunday that my calves stopped burning, and I can still feel the soreness today, but I knew to expect that, and I also know that the next time I run in these (hopefully tonight) I won’t be sore for nearly as long – I just need to get my body used to it.

Anyway, I’m clearly not well versed in reviewing shoes, but hopefully I’ve given you at least a rough idea of what these shoes are like. If you’re looking for barefoot shoes that come very close to running without shoes on, I’d highly recommend these.

As far as my online shopping experience with goes – fast shipping, good customer support. I’ve only ever ordered shoes online from Zappos and Planet Shoes, and I’ve had good experiences with both, so definitely consider them when placing your next order.

Finally Tracking My Runs Again

As you may or may not have noticed, for quite a while, I had no activity on my “Recent Runs” (in the right sidebar, under “NIKE+ STATS”).

This was for 2 reasons. I was running less frequently, and a lot of my runs were done barefoot. The Nike+ (which is essentially a pedometer) relies on a transmitter that rests inside the base of the sneaker. If my Nike+ enabled sneakers are sitting in my closet while I’m out running, there’s no run data to report.

I was running less frequently because I got burnt out on the (limited) options for running in the neighborhood where I was living. There was 1 nice running path, but once you do it 50+ times, motivation to continue to do so begins to vanish.

Anyway, I have moved to a new neighborhood (less than a mile from the beach here in SoCal!) and I also got an iPhone. The Nike+ GPS app for iPhone relies on GPS to determine how far you’ve run, so I no longer need to have my Nike+ shoes with me to track my runs.

So now I’m able to record run data, and I have tons of new paths to explore. Awesome!

On a somewhat unrelated note, I recently acquired a pair of barefoot running shoes (“Evo Mesh” by VIVOBAREFOOT) from Planet Shoes. I’m planning on trying them out tonight, and if all goes well I’ll be posting a review shortly. Stay tuned!

Runner’s Question: I am currently running a minimum of 7 miles a day. My dad told me I should be running barefoot strides after every workout. I tried that on the football field, only 4 strides. When I was done, I noticed that my calves and hips felt amazing. Does a little bit of barefoot running actually prevent injury?

My 2 cents: Good question! I’ve been doing my share of barefoot running lately… As in literally running without any type of footwear. I’ve only worked up to roughly 3 miles, as it tends to get harsh on your feet, especially when running through the terrain that I’ve been (neighborhoods… streets and sidewalks). I only do it during the day when so I can concentrate on my foot placement and be sure that I’m not stepping on any glass. Anyway, not gonna go off on a long rant here, but I would definitely recommend adding barefoot running to your training/cardio regimen. Just be sure to start slow and ease your way into it. Only do like 3-4 blocks your first day – Your calves are going to be feeling it soon after!

Add your two cents! Answer this question (or check out the other answers) in the comments section below.

Why The Lack Of Nike+ Updates?

Just a quick update, for those of you wondering why I seemingly haven’t been running at all lately.

The Nike+ run updates in the right sidebar come from the Nike+ iPod chip. This chip is in my sneakers. I haven’t been running in sneakers lately. I’ve actually been running barefoot. More to come on barefoot running later, but until I figure out a way to use the Nike+ run tracker without wearing shoes (or perhaps with a pair of Vibram Five Fingers), I’m not sure how I’ll be keeping that thing updated.

But yeah, general lack of updates due to what I’d say is a major shift in my running regimen. Slowly but surely working my way into the whole running without shoes thing… So far, so good. Will post a more detailed update all about this when I have some more time.

Running My First Half Marathon

So I ran my first half marathon a few weekends ago.

I followed this training program. I’ve never used a training program before a run before, so it was nice to have that “structured” feel. I felt prepared and somewhat confident when going into the race.

I ate a lot of spaghetti the night before (the “carbloading” that other runners know and love) but I had a problem – It didn’t come out the other end. 10 minutes before the race starts, I run to the port-a-potties in a desperate attempt to make a bowel movement. I knew that if I didn’t do this, I would have some serious problems during the race. I was able to make a little progress in there, but the run started while I was inside… Thank god for the race tags.

I didn’t have time to stretch – I ran right out of the port-a-potty and crossed the starting line.

I was in a bit of a panic, but after the first mile or so, I relaxed. I was, however, still a bit worried about the lack of stretching. I went through some weird pain during my training, and that was with a lot of stretching.

Anyway, I made it about 5 miles before I had to use another port-a-potty. I didn’t want to stop, but there was no way I was gonna be able to hold it in.

Back to the race! I felt like I had a pretty good pace going, and the running music I was rocking out to (The Disco Biscuits) was really helping – It matched my stride pretty well, and kept me thinking about the music as opposed to the bathroom or the pain in my knee that I was beginning to feel.

I think it was around mile 8 that the course turned around. I continued to slowly, but surely, pass people by.

By about mile 9, I was exhausted. The pain in my left knee became too much to ignore, and I seriously considered stopping to stretch. But I decided against it, I had to keep moving. I already made a “pit stop” and that was more time than I would have liked to waste.

By mile 12, I was really hurting. I knew that I shouldn’t continue running through this kind of pain, but I kept going. When you get close to the finish line, more and more people are lined up on the sides cheering you on. I knew I was close, and the adrenaline started kicking in. With about half a mile left, the adrenaline became almost too much to bear.

In the last 30 seconds of the race, I took off. I ran faster than I have in a long time, and I passed 10 people or so. It felt amazing. I finished in 1:57:49. I wanted to finish in under 2 hours, so I met that goal. I also limped around for the following week or so… I definitely put a hurting on my knees.

Anyway, I’m not sure if my knees just can’t handle that kind of distance, or if the lack of stretching is what did it. It may be a combination of the two. Either way, I’m gonna keep running. I don’t have anymore half marathons scheduled, but I’m more than willing to give it another shot.

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