Is Commercialization a Threat to the Purity of Trail Running?


Last month I set foot on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia for the first time since I took up running in 2007. For six years I had been purchasing books about the AT and accumulating hiking, fast-packing, and running gear. I completed my miles that day with Nathan handhelds, INKnBURN clothing, an UltrAspire pack, and Montrail shoes.

I can’t say how much money I have spent over the years on the sport of trail running, but I do know that as I ran along that famous trail, the last thing on my mind was what to buy next. And yet trail business is booming.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual report from 2010, the outdoor recreation industry boasts $289 billion in retail sales and services as well as 6.5 million jobs in America.

To argue that this bad-wolf commercialization is a perversion of the purity of our sport is in some ways ironic. Think about how you first heard or this sport. How many of us would be running trails if we hadn’t read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, Dean Kanazes’ Ultramarathon Man or watched JB Benna’s Unbreakable?

According to a study by Gary C. David and Nick Lehecka, the book Born to Run not only increased the visibility of trail and ultra running, but completely revolutionized the shoe industry. Their study quotes The Economist in 2011: “Ever since Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run hit the bestseller lists in 2009, Zappos, an online shoe retailer, has struggled to keep up with demand for minimalist footwear.” Similarly, Vibram saw sales jump from $470,000 in 2006 to $50m in 2010.

If you have:

  • read Born to Run
  • recommended running books to others
  • read or written shoe reviews
  • accepted free gear or nutrition in exchange for a review
  • listened to a sponsored running podcast
  • paid for a race entry
  • accepted a goodie bag from a race
  • accepted a cash prize from a trail event
  • clicked on a targeted Facebook or Google ad related to the outdoors
  • bought running gear on sale
  • supported race directors making a living from well-run, well-respected events
  • worn a promotional buff
  • supported or cheered for a company-sponsored team
  • become an ambassador for a company you believe in
  • recommended a product to a friend
  • bought or read a running magazine
  • become a sponsored athlete
  • entered a running-related giveaway
  • attended a book signing
  • added a promotional badge to your blog

… then you have already participated in the commercialization of this sport. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Does commercialization prevent us from enjoying the Olympics? The Superbowl? Perhaps it does. Or perhaps we wait for the commercials with anticipation, record them, analyze them, and share them on social media.

According to, commercialization may have more benefits than drawbacks. “Take one look at how well the North Face 100 is doing and what it has done for Australian trail and ultra running. It has attracted the likes of Kilian and Ryan Sandes to our shores and put us on the map as a destination to come and visit. Sure the companies behind this have deep-rooted motivations to sell more gear, but should we begrudge them that if we benefit too?”

It’s trendy to speak out against commercialization but the truth is that most of us are not mountain hermits. We live in a society of mass consumerism and eagerly participate in that system. We love swag. We’ll take free stuff even if we don’t need it. Can we really compartmentalize our sport so it never touches our morning Starbucks, Mac laptops, or Amazon accounts?

As avid trail runners, our job is not to keep the money out, but to keep this sport honest. So far we’re doing a good job.

When Leadville 100 crossed the line from a respected race to a greedy money-grab, we strongly objected. Hardrock 100 removed Leadville as a qualifier for its event, accusing the race of failures in “environmental responsibility, support of the hosting community, and having a positive impact on the health of our sport”.

The popular site removed any and all mention of Leadville 100, stating that “They’re no longer a part of the sport of ultrarunning, but simply a business venture.”

Instead of hunting down prize money, our top athletes care about and defend our sport. In a Runner’s World article, Karl Meltzer said about the new Leadville: “Life Time is in it for the money. This company is road runner, gym-based folks that do it purely to make a profit.” The gatekeepers of our trails are loyal and effective.

Another point to make is one of perspective. Although our sport has grown by leaps and bounds, it is still comparatively low-key compared to the commercialization around activities like Cross-fit or obstacle racing in the recent years. With the exception of a small handful of races, we don’t see anywhere near the bonanza of sponsors that invest in other booming events.

Still, it is not a low budget that makes our sport pure. It is the care we put into our trails. It is our willingness to move across nature with old friends and new friends, suffering when we don’t have to. Our sport’s purity lies in the value we place on resilience, determination, and giving back. We are trail runners whether we pay hundreds of dollars for gear or just head out with homemade car-tire sandals.

When I motivate people to get on trails, I know full well that my encouragement is directly contributing to a commercialization of the sport. But the payoff is worth it when I see someone finish their first ultra, win their first trail race, or grow monstrous quads.

When the crowds do get overwhelming, I can simply retreat to my backyard mountains and enjoy miles of commercial-free solitude. In a few more years, when my Montrails are completely disintegrated with gaping holes and paper-thin soles, I’ll finally descend from the mountain and buy a new pair of shoes.



This article is part of the April 2014 Trail Runner Blog Symposium. This month’s topic was: Is trail running becoming too commercialized?


You May Also Enjoy:

Should Children Run Endurance Events?

Vulnerability and Catcalling in Bear Country

Unfair Advantages in Trail Racing and Don’t be a Douche


Check out my book: The Summit Seeker

12 Reasons Handheld Bottles Are Better Than Hydration Packs

Photo: Jared Busen

I used to be a die-hard hydration packer, now completely converted to a handheld bottle holder. For hydration packs, I have used the Nathan and a few different models of UltrAspire. I now use either Nathan or Ultimate Direction handhelds, combined with UltrAspire products.

While hydration options are a matter of personal preference, here are the reasons that personally convinced me to make a switch, and never look back:

1. More Fluid Choices

While a hydration pack will only hold one type of fluid at a time, I love having the choice between two drinks. I never have the same drink in both of my bottles. I vary between:

  • a carbonated drink like Coke or Gingerale (helps settle my stomach)
  • water
  • an electrolyte drink
  • some type of juice
  • ice
  • coffee (during a 100 miler)
  • soup (during a 100 miler)

The two-fluid option is a flexibility I’ve really enjoyed. I usually keep water in one bottle, so if the mix in the second bottle is too concentrated, I can always dilute it. This is super helpful in races where I’ve filled up at an aid station and the mix isn’t quite right.

At my last race, I asked for half Coke, half ice in one of my bottles. I was a mile down the road when I realized that they had only given me half Coke. The Coke taste was too sweet for me, so I diluted it with water from the second handheld. Problem solved.

2. More Visual Reminder to Hydrate

I drink more from handhelds, because I can see my fluids in front of me. When I’m wearing a pack, it’s easier for me to forget to drink. Plus I never know how much I’ve had to drink, or how much water I have left when I’m wearing a pack. With bottles, it’s all right in front of me.

If I know the mileage to the next water stop, I can monitor exactly how much water I should drink, or how much I need to conserve so I don’t run dry unexpectedly. It also helps any race aid station volunteers gauge whether or not I’m drinking enough. Because hydration is such a key aspect to running success, this is a huge benefit for me.

At the Cuyamaca 100K I crossed the last aid station in a daze. A volunteer grabbed my bottles and asked me if I had been drinking, “Um… I think so…” I couldn’t really remember. He took a look at my almost-full bottles, and immediately handed me more fluids. I left that aid stations with a fresh drink and hot soup. Enough to get me to the finish line.

3. More Minimal

Because I have significantly less room to over pack with handhelds, it has changed my mindset to a more minimal approach. I take only what I will absolutely need and this has really helped de-clutter my mind as well. I’m not obsessing about what I may have forgotten to bring with me, and I’m not carrying unnecessary gear.

The first couple of times it’s a little scary because you’re carrying much less that what you may be used to in a pack. But after a few runs, you realize that you need much less than what you previously thought. It’s a freeing realization.

4. More Dog-Friendly

Some people teach their dogs to drink from a hydration pack straw, but mine doesn’t know how. So when we’re on a trail and I’m not carrying a doggie dish, bottles allow me to stop and give my dog a drink quickly and easily.

One trick I use is to take a clean doggie poop bag (weighs nothing to carry), make it into a dish-shape, and pour water into it, holding the bag in place while she drinks. I have also dug a small hole or indent in the ground, and placed the bag over that. The water pools in the hole, held in place by the bag, and she drinks from there. I can then cover the hole back up and move on.

5. Less Injury From Falls

Handhelds reduce hand scrapes and wrist/arm injuries when you’re going down. You can use them as a barrier between you and a rock when you’re reaching out to catch yourself. They work essentially like gloves. I have scrapes on my water bottles from a few falls or stumbles, but my hands have remained untouched. By comparison, when I would fall with my hydration pack, my hands were the first things to get scrapped and bloodied.

6. Less Overheating

On a hot day, a hydration pack would cause my back to sweat uncomfortably. I would try to combat this by filling my pack with ice, and enjoying the cooling sensation on my back. But this strategy would only last for a short time before the ice melted and I was sweating again.

Switching to handhelds drastically reduced this feeling of overheating. There was more air circulation, and it was easier to stay cool. I could also fill my handhelds with ice, and enjoy that cooling sensation on my hands.

If that weren’t enough, I could use a bottle to physically pour cool water on my head and neck from any stream. I have filled up an empty bottle with cold stream water, and carried it with me to pour on my head when it got too hot. Handhelds made a tremendous difference in temperature control.

7. Less Chaffing

Unless you have a perfectly fitting pack, you run the risk of chafing. And many of us know how tough it can be to find that perfect fit. It’s easy to go through countless packs in search for one the works for us, and a lot of money can be wasted on packs that we can’t use. Handhelds are much more universal, and there is no chafing at all.

I’ve found that even if the pack itself doesn’t chafe, the sweating on my back and lack of air circulation through wearing the pack sometimes causes my sports bra to chafe against my back over long distances. I figure the less chafing potential, the better.

8. Less Weight

I’m a bit of a pack-rat when I’m wearing a hydration pack, and I weigh myself down with things I don’t need like extra food, water, or clothing. The handhelds are significantly lighter and that weight difference is a big deal when you’re running long. I feel more “free” in handhelds. I feel lighter, and it’s feels easier to run and move around.

9. Keeps Your Form in Check

Running with handhelds is a great way to assess your running form and keep it in check. The first time I ran in handhelds, I was surprised by how much my water was sloshing in the bottles. I was waving my arms around too much, wasting energy. I quickly learned to adjust my form and run in a way that didn’t slosh my bottles.

I kept my back straighter instead of hunched over, and kept my shoulders back. I also learned to keep my arms loose and relaxed, instead of clenching my fists or gripping my bottles. As i started getting tired, the sloshing of my bottles was a great way to make sure I was keeping good form, allowing me to exert less energy and run further.

10. Keeps You Moving

If you’ve ever worked at a race station, you know that handhelds are much quicker and easier to fill up compared to packs. If you add up the time it takes to remove your pack, check it for water, open it up, fill it, close it up again, adjust the bladder in your pack, and put your pack back on, the minutes add up significantly over several aid stations on a long trail race.

Not to mention that some packs and bladders are tricky to maneuver, so aid station workers need an extra minute to get them open or closed. Often, my bottles are filled up and I’m out of an aid station while others who arrived at the same time are still fiddling with their packs.  I try to be in and out of aid stations as quick as possible, and I’ve seen first hand how every minute adds up.

In between aid stations, my handhelds also keep me moving because I know that if I take too long, I will run out of water. If I have 6 to 9 miles to the next aid station and it’s a climb, I know that if I’m not running I have to hike fast to make sure I don’t run out of water. When I had a pack, I was much more likely to dawdle or walk slowly. Getting to the next water refill is a great motivation to keep you moving. It also helps you focus on only getting to the next aid station, instead of thinking about the entire race distance and becoming overwhelmed.

11. Keeps Your Upper Body Strong

The first couple of times I used handhelds, my arms and shoulders were sore the next day. I have a weak upper body, but I’ve noticed that carrying handhelds has improved my arm strength over an extended period of running time. It also brought my upper body weaknesses to my attention, and helped me address it.

12. Keeps You Looking Like a Runner

Over time I’ve noticed that many runners near the front a race tend to be using handhelds, while runners in the back of the field tend to prefer packs. I don’t have any stats on that and it’s just a personal observation, but I did start to wonder whether the elites were picking up on something I was missing with a hydration pack. This inspired me to try handhelds.

I feel that with handhelds, I LOOK more like a runner instead of a hiker with a heavy pack. This may sound completely shallow, but sometimes when you dress the part, you start to feel and perform the part as well. It’s a little bit psychological. When I think I look faster, I run more and perform better.

Troubleshooting the Negatives

1. Running Out of Water

The first argument I always hear against handhelds is that they carry too little water. For longer training runs where I don’t have the support of aid stations or water refills, I sometimes carry a bladder-less pack that will hold an extra bottle or two on my back. This is still much lighter and more minimal than a hydration pack, and very comfortable.

There are the three packs I have used that I would recommend for this purpose:

The UltraAspire Spry

The UltrAspire Kinetic

The Hydrapak E-Lite Vest  (I remove the bladder.)

2. Feels Funny at First

Many pack users don’t like the feel of handhelds, and they do take some getting used to. The first time you try handhelds, you’ll probably hate the feel. The second time is not so bad, but still weird. By the third and fourth times, I was comfortable with them.

Don’t let the transition deter you from giving handhelds a fair shot. I would encourage any hydration packers to try handhelds for one week, and see how you feel. Ultimately, stick with what works for you and keeps you drinking.


INKnBURN Denim Line  Product Review

12 Things I Learned at my First 100K Race

Why You Should Stop Rationalizing Running

INKnBURN Denim Line – Product Review at Trail and Ultra Running

Here’s is my product review for INKnBURN’s amazing denim line:

INKnBURN Denim Line Product Review


5 Keys to Enjoying All the Benefits of Money Without Actually Having Any

Softcup Review: Period Protection for Trail Running Vaginas

Why You Should Stop Rationalizing Running


Softcup Review: Period Protection for Trail Running Vaginas

Welcome vagina owners and lovers! If you are running during your child-bearing years, here is a new way you can protect yourself.

I was sent this product to review in exchange for a free race entry. If you’re interested in reviewing this product for yourself, visit: (Ladies only)

Direct YouTube Link HERE

Thoughts From a More Experienced Softcup User

Here are some notes from Tina, who has been using this product for six years. I wanted to add her experience here as well, since it does take some getting used to and can be difficult to review after only one cycle.

Tina Says:

“If you can feel it, it’s not inserted properly. I swear by this. Whenever I feel it, I can bank on it leaking. If you have strong kegel muscles you can dislodge this thing by pushing (like when you have a bowel movement or you are trying to carefully let out a fart in public).  

If your partner says you’re “tighter” rather than errr…. shorter? If your vagina is not as “long” as it normally is to touch your cervix, then it is not inserted properly. If it is parallel to his penis rather than almost perpendicular, it’s not inserted properly.

It should be inserted “back and down” rather than “up” like a tampon. It took me about six to eight months to really get insertion right. It’s so different from tampon insertion. I love this product.”


Girl Crush Confessions and Why Women Need Each Other

Women, Running, and Self-Esteem

Why Your Wife Hates Your Barefoot Running


Mileage: 51.2 miles

Terrain: Technical trails

About a month ago I received a complimentary pair of Invisible Shoe huaraches offered to the Run Smiley Collective. I was excited because these were my first real pair of laced huaraches. Previously I had worn Unshoe sandals, which are adjusted with a clasp (no lacing), and I was still waiting for my first pair of Lunas.

I started using the Invisible Shoes on San Diego trail runs, which I soon discovered were extremely technical. In retrospect, I am amazed that these huaraches did so well with the terrain and the mileage I was using them on. I ran over 50 miles in about 3 weeks of exclusively rocky trails.

Here’s what I think of them:

Ground Feel

The ground feel was very high, as the 6mm sole was really quite thin. I liked the fact that this forced me to pay attention to my footing, but it would also start to tire out my feet as the miles started accumulating. They didn’t hurt, but I definitely felt every step.

Tying & Adjustability

I never had any trouble tying these and they only came untied once under very harsh trail conditions. The best part of these laces is that they are easy to adjust on the fly. So if the fit isn’t perfect, I can tug a little instead of having to sit down and re-lace from scratch. They also come in slip-on form, which simplifies the lacing process.

Technical Trail Performance

I love running trails, so I really need a sandal that holds up. The thing about trails is that each footfall is different, and always uneven. So it’s difficult to find a perfect huarache fit. If the lacing is too loose, the sandal falls off. If it’s too tight, it digs into your skin and gives you blisters. Plus the constant foot-shuffling tends to loosen the fit in a way that doesn’t happen with traditional shoes.

That said, this pair only fell off once after a particularly intense trail run, and I was only delayed for seconds since I could adjust them while they were still on my feet. And I had run over 50 miles before they started to blister. I think that’s impressive considering I didn’t take any anti-blister precautions. No socks, taping, or BodyGlide. Creek crossings are also really fun in these.

General Fit

One thing that would bother me with the Unshoes was that the front of the sandal would fold over and I’d step on them a lot, no matter how I adjusted my form. So I was concerned that would be the case again. But that never happened with the Invisible Shoes. Overall, it was a better fit. I never felt the lacing between my big toe and my second toe, whereas this was also a painful issue with the Unshoes.

Storage & Convenience

I like to throw these into my hydration bladder and head out for a barefoot run. If the trails get too rough, I know I can throw these on fairly easily. They give me the confidence to try new trails barefoot because I know these can get me through any rough sections. They help me run MORE barefoot miles, not less. I think that’s how a shoe should truly function.

Customer Service

I have to mention the great customer service and personalized attention from this company. It’s always refreshing to deal with someone who can answer all your questions and get back to you promptly. Great job guys!


I can’t race an entire ultra in these on a technical trail. I still need a bit of a thicker sole. I also hate them on concrete. They slap a little louder than I’d like and I find it tough to run in complete silence, no matter how I shift my form. I would also recommend some blister prevention, like BodyGlide. Because when they DO form blisters, it’s very demoralizing and tough to avoid rubbing in the exact same places.


I definitely have a place for these huaraches. I love that I can carry them around when I’m barefoot. I also love them on slightly rocky trails, or on anything less than 20 miles. I love they way they look on my feet and they do spark some conversation. For the average runner, these would be a fun sandal. For me, they were also a great transition to huarache running.

If you’re considering moving into huaraches, I would recommend these as a great “first” sandal. They’re easier to tie than other options, they’re very reasonable, and will really give you a good idea as to whether huarache running is for you.


Invisible Shoes is generously offering one lucky reader a free pair of huaraches!

To enter, do one or more of the following things. Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do, as I will count up the comments and choose a winner randomly using Every separate comment will count as an entry. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.

The winner will be announced next Tuesday, October 4th. Come back and check because if you don’t claim your prize, I’ll choose another winner!

  • Leave a comment and tell me why you’d like to win these huaraches
  • “Like” Invisible Shoes on Facebook HERE
  • Follow Invisible Shoes on Twitter @InvisibleShoes
  • Post about this giveaway on any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc). Each posting counts as one entry, so leave a separate comment for every one.
  • Blog about this giveaway.
  • Follow/subscribe to this blog (top left hand side). If you’ve already subscribed, that still counts as an entry. Just leave a comment and let me know.

Good luck!

6 Must-Haves for my 20-Mile Trail Run

On Saturday I ran/walked/crawled 20 miles of Noble Canyon in training for the fast approaching Noble Canyon 50k. Every run out there kills me out. It’s a beautiful route that basically consists of running down a mountain, running back up, and running a few stretches at high elevation. It’s a run that you can both love and dread. Incredibly challenging.

I’ve tried to experiment with hydration, fuel, and footwear out there. In the process I’ve found some products I like. Here they are, from toe to head:

1. VIVOBAREFOOT Neo Trails    

VIVOBAREFOOT has been good to me and I’m impressed with their high customer service quality. They’re quick, I feel like I’m dealing with a real human being, and they generously rushed two free pairs of new Neo Trails for me and Shacky to use on Saturday’s training run.

I should point out that I haven’t worn shoes for running (minimalist or not) in almost a year. My previous Noble Canyon runs have been in Invisible shoe huaraches (more on those later). So I had no idea how I would handle a run in VIVOBAREFOOT’s product.

I was very pleasantly surprised. First of all, they look awesome. I was also very surprised by the ground feel. I was expecting little to no ground feel, but I felt the rocks a lot more than in my Vibram KSOs. I like that because I feel closer to being barefoot. I still felt like I had to watch my step and plan my strides. Post run, my feet suffered no ill effects.

Here are some stats on the Neo Trail:

  • Sole thickeness = 2.5mm base and 4mm lug height
  • Weight = Men’s 248g, Women’s 198g
  • Hydrophobic mesh (non toxic, lightweight, water resistant thin mesh)
  • Toe guard

Shacky tested the hydrophobic mesh with some creek crossings, and we were surprised at how long it took for the water to soak through the shoe. He basically had to stand fully immersed in water for a minute or so. Running, they wouldn’t get wet. However, once they WERE wet, the sloshiness was hard to dry out.

I’d like to get a few more trail miles in these and then post a more thorough review. So far I’m very much enjoying them. I think the fact that I could go from completely shoeless to running in these for 20 miles without an issue, says a lot about the quality of this shoe.

2. Injinji socks 

Already a staple for barefoot and minimalist runners, I mostly wanted to mention this to direct people to the great Toe Salad Injinji giveaway that’s going on this week. You can enter HERE. Injinjis are awesome and if you haven’t tried them yet, definitely do.

3. Dirty Girl gaiters

Until last week, I didn’t even know what gaiters were. I saw my trail buddy Christine wearing them and they looked super cool, so at first I thought they were just for style. Then I saw several people wearing them at the Stairway to Heaven 15k so I asked what they were for.

Gaiters are basically funky looking sleeve things (Kate called them ankle warmers) that prevent stones and pebbles from falling into your shoes. Trail runners use them. You don’t need them when you’re barefoot.

Because we’ve been testing out some trail shoes on very rocky terrain, Shacky was kind enough to pick up some gaiters for us. He got Dirty Girl gaiters which I loved because they’re all made by hand. He got me the scissors print which I was SO EXCITED about because I have a shirt that says, “I run with scissors,” and for a while I was.

Back in my woods in Toronto I would carry scissors on my runs so I could forage for dandelions and other greens. I’d use the scissors to cut into the dirt for wild dandelion roots. Running with scissors is badass and my scissor gaiters make me feel hardcore. Dirty Girl has so many awesome prints, it’s hard to choose just one favorite.

But the best part is probably the woman behind the gaiters. I was told that Dirty Girl once opened her shirt and asked Kirby (fellow Dirt Devil runner) to pour ice cubes into her boobs during a race. To further solidify her awesomeness, a quote from her website regarding design prints: “There is no such thing as too much leopard.” And regarding shipping: “Slow is the new fast.”

I am honored to wear Dirty Girl’s gaiters and would buy a thousand more.

4. Zensah calf compression sleeves

I don’t like to trail run without my compression sleeves. I already wrote about these, so you can read more HERE.

5. Sport Kilt

This is the company that sponsored me and Shacky to race Noble Canyon. I didn’t wear the kilt on my training run, but I will be wearing it for the race. Last year, Shacky raced this in a non-Sport Kilt kilt (another company’s kilt), and overheated. I love the kilts because a) They’re super cute and b-f) They’re light weight, easy to wear, and ideal for runners. I also love the deep, discreet pockets. And they keep you cool.

6. Navitas Power Snacks


Nutrition is a never ending experiment for me. I tend to shy away from the mainstream runner’s gels and aim for whole foods as much as possible. Convenience is obviously an issue – I need to find fuel that is both natural and compact. Easy to carry and tastes good.

I am pleased to report that the new Navitas Power Snacks fit all of the above criteria. Not only are they natural, the ingredients are also Paleo (fruit and nuts), so Shacky was happy to fuel on them as well. He was pleased with the fat/protein ratio and the fact that they were low in sugar. They are also gluten and dairy free.

We had some Navitas Power Snacks at the midway point of our run and shared with some other runners in the group. Then later we sat down again on the trail and ate more.

The snacks are small, bite-sized pieces. I packed a few in a ziplock bag and carried them in my hydration vest pockets. They were easy to pull out and eat while walking or running. I also loved the texture. They weren’t as hard and chewy as a bar, but not as watery as a gel. They were soft and easy to break down, but didn’t leave you with a mouthful of sticky goo.

I received two flavors from Navitas – Citris Chia and Cacao Gogi. Shacky liked the chia and I loved the gogi. We’ve almost finished both of them.

Here is some more info I received from Navitas via email:

Offered in an 8-ounce re-sealable and recyclable pouch for a SRP of $8.99, Navitas Power Snacks are chewy, bite-sized nuggets that provide robust flavor.  It is a healthy bonus that they contain no refined sugar, and are gluten-free and dairy-free. Navitas Power Snacks and other Navitas products are available at a wide variety of retail locations throughout North America including Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans and HEB, and at many online stores such as and

The mission of Navitas Naturals is to provide premium organic superfoods that increase energy and enhance health.  Nutrient-rich whole foods are at their best when they are produced via organic agriculture and minimal processing methods.  That is why all Navitas Naturals products are certified organic, and use methods such as freeze-drying to ensure maximum nutrition.  Food safety is very important to Navitas Naturals, which is demonstrated by the rigorous third-party testing of their superfoods.  Since its founding in 2003, Navitas Naturals has been committed to socially responsible business.  Their direct purchasing partnerships expand fair trade opportunities for farmers in developing regions around the world.  For more, visit

The experiment for optimal gear and nutrition continues for me. I’m lucky to have so many great friends and companies willing to help me find my place on the trail.


I’ve recently started drinking what has become a wonder food in my diet – matcha green tea.

Matcha is a powdered green tea that has been praised for helping to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and to help reduce harmful cholesterol in the blood. It does this by fighting free radicals, which cause disease in our bodies. Its luminescent green colour is because of its high chlorophyll content.

Matcha green tea has 10 times more antioxidants than green tea! It actually contains the highest known concentration of antioxidants in a food source (beating gogi berries, pomegranates, and cranberries). It has 9 times the beta carotene of spinach and boosts metabolic rate by 35-40% when consumed regularly, making it ideal for weight loss. It is also high in L-theanine, which increases alertness, improves concentration, and reduces stress.

The great thing about this powder is that it has so many uses. If you don’t want to drink it as a tea, you can add the powder to a smoothie, or in a cold drink. You can also use it for baking. Here are some examples of what you can make with matcha:

Matcha macaroons

Matcha cookies

Matcha cupcakes

Matcha cheesecake

Matcha Rice Krispy squares

Today you can win THIS free Match Green Tea canister from Vitalife!


1. Do one or more of the following things. Leave a separate comment below for each thing you do, as I will count up the comments and choose a winner randomly using

2. Every separate thing you do will count as an entry. The more you do, the higher your chances of winning.

3. The winner will be announced next Tuesday April 11th.

* Leave me a comment telling me which of these Matcha recipes you like best

* “Like” Vitalife on Facebook HERE and tell them that I sent you

* Follow Vitalife on Twitter @VitalifeMatcha and tell them that I sent you

* Blog about this giveaway

* Post about this giveaway on Facebook

* Tweet about this giveaway

* Subscribe to this blog (top left hand side)

* Follow me on Twitter @vanessaruns

* Add me on Facebook at

Good luck everyone!

Navitas Giveaway Winner & Honey World Review


Last week I had a Navitas product giveaway and the lucky winner was…


Congrats Simi! Email your address to and I’ll send you the goodies!


I recently had the privilege of trying some manuka honey and bee pollen from Honey World. Both are known for their impressive health benefits.

The bee pollen is made up of little yellow grains that I added to my oatmeal in the mornings. It can also be sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, mashed potatoes, almond butter or honey toast. Bee pollen is known for its energy boosting and stress fighting properties. It also lowers blood pressure and helps with skin conditions.

Bee pollen contains all essential amino acids – it is a complete protein. It also contains Vitamins A, Bs, C, D, E, K, and Rutin. It has 28 of the trace minerals our body needs for good health, as well as the enzymes and co-enzymes necessary for its digestion. It is also only 90 calories per ounce.

Dr. Joseph Mercola writes:

Pollen is considered an energy and nutritive tonic in Chinese medicine. Cultures throughout the world use it in a surprising number of applications: for improving endurance and vitality, extending longevity, aiding recovery from chronic illness, adding weight during convalescence, reducing cravings and addictions, regulation of the intestines, building new blood, preventing infectious diseases such as the cold and flu (it has antibiotic type properties), and helping overcome retardation and other developmental problems in children. It is thought to protect against radiation and to have anti-cancer qualities.

The manuka honey comes all the way from New Zealand and is known for its anti-bacterial properties. It is used to improve energy levels, as well as in cold, flu, and sore throat treatments. Of course, it tastes great. But it can also be used topically to treat conditions like athletes foot, insect bites, rashes, pressure sores, and chronic wounds.

Here are two common uses:

1. For sore throats and colds.

When you feel you are coming down with a cold and start getting a sore throat, take 1 teaspoon of manuka honey and let it slowly melt in your mouth and slip down your throat. Do not drink liquids right afterwards. Do this 2-4 times/day, for as long as you have to.

2. For acne.

Wash your face with warm water. Tie back your hair and apply a thin layer of manuka honey all over your face. Leave it on for 15 minutes. Wash off with warm water.

As a runner, I’ve found the honey to be a great simple carb/sugar source for energy before a run, or refueling after a long run. And if I ever get an injury on my foot due to barefoot running, I could also use it as a salve. In combination with the consumption of the bee pollen, which improves endurance and helps build new blood, I feel like my bases are covered. I’d recommend both of these as natural, runner-friendly foods.

Many thanks to Honey World for providing these great products.


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