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When should I replace my running shoes?

When should I replace my running shoes? Finding the right running shoe is an iterative process and there is no one perfect running shoe suitable for everyone. The perfect fit has to do with the shape of your foot, your running style and the terrain you run on. In fact, there are runners who don’t seem to need shoes at all. Many endurance sport injuries are purportedly caused by using worn out shoes, and there are many factors which help a runner determine whether it is time for a change of shoes.

When should I replace my running shoes?

One important factor is mileage – one school of thought is to replace running shoes every 250 miles, where others recommend changing shoes after running 300-500 miles. So how should a runner gauge his mileage? This is where your training log comes in. Documenting your effort is the best gauge on getting a true sense of what is right for you.

Time is another factor – a generally accepted duration is 6 months. This has been calculated by assuming a regular weekly schedule of 3 to 5 mile runs / 4 days a week. A runner who follows that schedule would change shoes around the 300-500 mileage mark. Logically, a runner who runs more miles would find it necessary to replace his/her shoe earlier than the general 6-month rule.

Other important factors include weight and running style. Clydesdale/Athena runners (like myself) might find themselves changing shoes more often as carrying extra weight can break down shoes faster. Lightweight runners who are heavy footed or use unique running techniques will also burn through shoes quicker.

How can you tell if your shoes are showing signs of wear? Place your shoes at eyesight level and look at the back of your shoes. If the soles look worn out and appear uneven, there could be some damage to the midsole. The midsole is one of the more important parts of the shoe. However, finding a defect is not easy. If you feel tightness, fatigue, aches and pains while running, then it can be an indication of midsole damage. Try twisting your shoe, if it twists easily then it might have a damaged insole. Similarly you can check the other parts of the shoe — wear can affect the cushioning, back heel, arch point or the toe box of the shoe as well.

Knowing the condition of your shoes is important because neglecting their condition may lead to injury. A tip for longer shoe life, try rotating shoes during a training week. Not only will it reduce mileage on each pair, it is a great way to test different brands to determine which shoe is giving you the best performance.

Finding the right running shoe is not an exact science, it depends on the various factors I have mentioned above (plus more). You are the best person to determine what works. Log your training and keep notes about how you feel, plus how your shoes feel, and you will quickly be able to answer the question, “When should I replace my running shoes?” for yourself.

Fire Your Customers (okay not all of them)

Although a cliché, it is true that for the most part companies exist to solve problems and serve their customers. Profit is the life blood of any business and capital comes from the people you serve. A cliché that isn’t always necessarily true in business is, to make a large impact you need to cater to as large a market as possible. On the contrary, having a sizable audience is not always a good thing. Having a large customer base that do not appreciate your goods or services, feel unsatisfied, and yet continue to engage you because of your competitive advantage in the market are usually a waste of time. A wise entrepreneur will foster relationships with customers who are genuinely interested in their offerings and brand.

Properly targeting the right customers can make your efforts much more effective and efficient. It starts by knowing who your right customers are. So, how do you define the “right” customers? The right customers are those who are loyal and generally help your business. Loyal customers are those who repeatedly purchase your goods or services or subscribe to your offering. In addition, they help your marketing efforts by becoming social advocates for your brand. They also are repeat customers, requiring no cost of acquisition to make the sale. If you are looking for exposure through Internet marketing, what better way than a customer recommending your products on their blog or Yelp? With the rise of interactions from social media sites, any good praise helps increase exposure thus increasing chances of conversion.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame states in his book, “When you properly target your clients, you will discover that you no longer have to work with jerks… Clients who don’t respect the value you bring, don’t pay on time, and don’t do their part will drag your marketing business down faster than any other business dynamic.”

Keeping your great customers happy and “firing” the rest frees up valuable time to improve existing relationships and seek out additional good customers. This allows you to focus your marketing efforts specifically on those customers you would like to attract creating a synergistic loop that ideally will increase sales volume and sales total per transaction.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Digestion is the way us humans process food into energy. When our digestive system is functioning optimally, it is the biological fueling system that keeps us active and engaged. Probiotics (basically ingestible bacteria) are a well known element in helping most of us improve upon this system. When ingested in the proper proportion, probiotics can be quite beneficial for a healthy individual.

Some of the purported benefits of probiotic intake include:

  • Management of lactose intolerance
  • Prevention of diarrhea
  • Reduced risk of colon cancer
  • Lowering of (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Improved immune system function

However, it is important to note that some of these potential benefits are being reported from preliminary research. The theory behind taking probiotics is to balance good and bad bacteria (also referred to as pathogens) in the gut. However, there is some proof that probiotics can be harmful for certain populations. For instance, in the study Probiotic prophylaxis in predicted severe acute pancreatitis, a correlation between the consumption of probiotics (in people with an existing illness) and mortality was shown. Because of this study and others like it, please consider your own health before considering probiotics.

If you think probiotics might be right for you consider taking prebiotics as well. Prebotics are indigestible carbohydrates that usually encourage the growth of probiotics in the body. Prebiotics can be found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables such as oats, wheat, garlic, bananas, asparagus, tomatoes and onions, and they can also be obtained from grains and legumes. Because of probiotics’ ability to live inside the body and prebiotics’ ability to encourage the growth of probiotics, both have gained popularity in the field of health and wellness.

Define Your Market First

Inexperienced entrepreneurs create a business or product without knowing who their potential market audience is going to be. They innovate some new service and/or product and then go find the market (people to sell it to). If your goal is to be an entrepreneur (as opposed to an inventor where this model is part of the process) this course of action is ill-advised.

Market Blueprint

Seasoned entrepreneurs seek out hungry customers with a problem and then try to provide a desirable, consumable solution (product or service) to help these people alleviate their problem. The potential and capacity of your entrepreneurial reward is determined the minute you finalize the market choice for your product or service.

The world’s most successful fishermen will tell you this piece of advice (which is just as applicable to starting a business): You can have the best fishing pole and the best bait and still not catch any fish in a puddle of mud. With the advent of the Internet, there are some great ways to find a profitable market before you get started. A great book covering the topic of AdWords (with lots of details on finding profitable markets) is Google AdWords For Dummies by Howie Jacobson of AskHowie.com.

Make the Call!

In my experience one of the clear cut differentiators between successful entrepreneurs and those that have been, for the most part, unsuccessful is tenacity and the ability to pick up a phone. Use these two skills to your advantage and almost anyone in the business world is accessible. For examples of this look no further than this Web site. How did someone like me get an interview with someone like Getting Things Done guru David Allen? I asked.

Tim Ferriss discusses an experiment he performed as a lecturer at Princeton (in his book The 4-Hour Workweek) where he challenged a group of students to contact three seemingly impossible-to-reach individuals for a chance at a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world. In the first year of conducting the experiment not one person was able to complete the assignment. The second year Mr. Ferriss was able to do a better job instilling confidence in his students stating, “From contacting billionaires to rubbing elbows with celebrities – it’s as easy as believing it can be done.” In the second year of conducting the experiment, 6 out of 17 of Tim’s students had completed the task within two days.

Roadtrip Nation further supports the notion that people are accessible if you are motivated. The show has highlighted numerous notable interviews, with remarkable interviewees, and virtually unknown interviewers. The show does a great job highlighting that fact that successful people will make time to help other people driven by purpose. The truth is successful people remember what it was like to begin something new, and if asked, are usually happy to help out the next guy… you! Success leaves clues, go find them.

Applying the Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule as it is known to some, is the concept that 80 percent of any given output, usually comes from only 20 percent of a given effort to get that output.  Or conversely, that 80 percent of a given effort generates only 20 percent of a desired outcome.

The numbers 80 and 20 are arbitrary and are only used in the context of the general principle. The distribution could be 75 and 5, or 90 and 40. In other words, it is not necessary that the numbers add up to 100. What is important is identifying that in general there are tasks and habits that are considerably more effective and efficient than others.

Peak performers use this general concept to their advantage by continually evaluating any system they use to garner results (whether it is in business, fitness, education, or well-being) and eliminating tasks and processes with little yield. Identifying what is working and doing more of it, and identifying what is not working and doing less (or not doing it at all) seems intuitive but unfortunately is rarely applied in the real world — many people are simply resistant to systemic change to the detriment of productivity.

Remember to Breath

No matter what area of fitness you are involved in, practicing your breathing and maximizing your oxygen intake is essential. One of the biggest culprits of bad breathing techniques is novice weightlifters. Newbies to the weight room are often witnessed holding their breath while lifting heavy loads (myself included). It is true that anaerobic activity uses little oxygen in the body to create energy. However, when most people are engaged in heavy resistance exercise arterial hypertension goes up. If arterial hypertension gets too high, the lifter is potentially at a higher risk of a stroke (see Influence of breathing technique on arterial blood pressure during heavy weight lifting).

During aerobic activity, your breathing pattern can be a key indicator of exertion. Hyperventilation is your body’s way of cooling you down and also its attempt to get more oxygen into your body. For extended endurance activity, a good rule of thumb is to operate at a level where it is still comfortable for you to engage in conversation with someone else. If you are involved in short duration, high intensity, aerobic activity (as known as HIIT training) the rules are a bit different but rhythmic, full breathing techniques can still prove beneficial.

If you would like to get better at breathing there are numerous resources available ranging from how-to books to yoga classes. The benefits of proper breathing techniques only begin at optimizing oxygen consume… some of the additional studied benefits are unique to the sport or activity you are participating in. These additional benefits include reduced stress, reduced risk of injury, and operating at a higher metabolic rate… to name a few.

Websites Should be Built for the Customer

Customers have inherent questions when they visit any business online. Some of these questions are determined by the customer’s personality, while others are influenced by the customer’s first impression of the Web page they landed on. If your potential customers can quickly and easily get their questions answered, they are more likely to convert to paying customers. If you or your Web designers did not build your business website with the customer in mind, you might want to think about a redesign.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, look at your website, and ask the following questions:

General
– Is this what I expect to see?
– Can I tell what this company does?
– Will I benefit from the products and/or services here?
– Are the prices reasonable?
– Can I trust the refund policy?
– Do I want to spend time here?

Credibility
– Does the site look credible and trustworthy?
– Is this company established?
– What do other people think of this company?

Next Steps
– What actions can I take from here?
– Are there any promotions I can take advantage of?
– Can I talk to a live person?
– Are there any case studies on the site?
– How do I learn more about the company?
– How do I contact the company?

Along with the questions I have listed, there will be questions that only you can think of (because they will be specific to your respective entrepreneurial project). Take some time to brainstorm as many questions as you can (better yet, ask some of your current customers to help you), add them to my list above, and evaluate whether your website is effective at giving your customers the answers to these questions.

Remember, most people hit the Web to gather information first. Provide this valuable service to prospects and these potential customers might just honor you with a few more seconds of their valuable attention.

Your Fitness Journey Should Start Now!

Just like most popular worthwhile endeavors, there is a plethora of information out there about health and fitness. The Internet has a lifetime of information you can consume about various, and sometimes competing, ways to get healthy or start a fitness program. With all this information available to you mere keystrokes away, when do you say enough is enough and get started?

The answer is now!

You probably aren’t studying for a fitness exam. And if you are an adult, there is little you need to mentally prepare for… you learned enough in high school to do something. Get up from the computer and get out there. Shorten the distance between contemplation and action. Fitness is a “learn as you go” proposition anyway. To get started most people need only to simply put one foot in front of the other and repeat. You don’t get your heart rate elevated by planning, fitness requires doing. So get started now! If something is not working for you spend some time to make the needed adjustment, then road test (or gym test) what you’ve discovered. You don’t like what you are currently doing? Take a class and learn as you go.

Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with researching and planning, but not doing this in tandem with exercise is simply your excuse to not get started. Start slow, but burn (calories) as you learn. Take the first step to a better you today!

Meditation Leads to Better Concentration

Well honed concentration skills are a cornerstone of being able to perform at our peak. Concentration is the ability to do a chosen task by focusing on the outcome and either blocking or mitigating distractions.

Recent studies have shown that concentration can be improved through meditation:

Meditation Leads to Better Concentration

Meditation is the practice of channeling our own consciousness through various forms of relaxation techniques. One of the many benefits from meditation is a more focused mind. When we are able to channel our focus, we improve our chance of achieving optimum performance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that undisturbed focus can even help people overcome personal limits.

Roger Bannister is a perfect example of this. It was a steadfast held belief that no one could ever run a four-minute mile. Yet Mr. Bannister broke this barrier by repeatedly visualizing this accomplishment in his mind’s eye so intensely that he was able to achieve a physical result, a 3:59 mile. He not only overcame a personal limit, he forced people to rethink the limits of human potential. Once Mr. Bannister had set the precedent, and people “knew” it was possible several others duplicated this feat within a year.

Getting back to mere mortals like myself, in the psychomotor study referenced above, meditators took Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) tests after meditating (which is a fancy way of saying they stared at LCD screens, and their response times were measured between seeing an image and pressing a button after being aware of the image’s presence). In this particular study, those who had gone through some sort of meditation (even if they are not experienced meditators) performed better during PVT testing, thus showing measurable improved mental performance.