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    [SUMMER FIT] Cleaning that dirty running gear

    I just finished cleaning up my cat's room. The room is really our study, but her litter box occupies a small corner. Wow! One little cat can make the entire room stink up. We have a nifty litter box for her that is fairly stink-free. However, today was the day I had to get out the brush and mop to take care of that stench. Yuck! Furball-my-sweet-smelly-cat While I complain about my feline friend, my wife complains about me. "Your shoes stink!" "Your shirts stink!" "Don't forget to pre-wash - your clothes are not going in the washer like that!" Etc. What is a runner supposed to do? In the summer, I sweat. I sweat a lot. Seriously, I understand why my wife says those things. I can't stand the stink of my shoes either and I don't have a very good nose. I switched to Vibram Five Fingers about four years ago and am not looking back. I love the shoes. But I just can't wear these shoes with socks, which means my shoes will stink more than usual. During a trail run last Saturday, I lamented my problems to my running buddy, Eric. He is a chemist and just was full of fantastic ideas. Here is a list of some of his essential summer fitness cleaning advice:

    1. Put out your dirty shirts, shorts, and shoes in the sun.

    After washing my clothes and shoes their best, I put them in the sun. In Japan just everyone hangs up their clothes so this advice was quite natural for me. Runbell-Shirt-in-the-Sun

    2. Put your gritty gear in the freezer

    A big reason your clothes stink is the live bacteria and fungus taking up residence. Freeze the little guys and a big part of the smell factory will be removed. I haven't tried this advice yet, but my shoes are currently in the freezer. Looking forward to some better smelling shoes in the morning. Vibrams-Freezer-Smell-Out

    3. Use Vinegar

    I wish there was an easy way I just dropped my clothes in a bucket and they came out clean. Hence, this vinegar idea is so intriguing. Eric went on and on about the benefits of vinegar in cleaning just about anything. "Put your clothes in a giant tub of vinegar from Costco. Leave them overnight and bam your clothes just smell like vinegar. The vinegar smells goes away leaving your clothes smelling clothes!". On my next Costco run, you can bet I will be grabbing a giant tub of vinegar! I can't wait to try this one out. Just Google "vinegar to clean up clothes" for tons of ideas on how to use vinegar for cleaning. ---- Let us know your advice! What do you do to keep those clothes and shoes clean? --- Is your gear so worn out that you need completely new gear? Imagine going to website, buying a gift card for less than face value, and then replacing your stinky gear with new gear! Perfect. Your catch goes further. This post has been inspired by Raise.com with their [Summer Fit] campaign. Raise.com is the first online marketplace to buy and sell gift cards, where you can buy discount gift cards to your favorite stores or sell your unwanted gift cards for cash. From Target to Dick's Sporting Goods, our marketplace is full of gift cards to meet all your summer needs. Check them out if you like.    

    Almost There

    We haven't updated in a while, but are still hard at work. We have reached a new milestone with a finished sample product of Runbell. The below picture is not a prototype, but rather a manufacturing sample. 

    The manufactured Runbells are light! The Runbell prototype was heavier than the actual Runbell. The Runbell weighs in at 30 grams for the men's Runbell with two silicone inserts (as advertised). The ladies' Runbell is slightly lighter.

     The Bells

    The bells are looking great. We approved the brass plated and the copper plated bells this past Monday. They are now being mass produced. Both sound excellent. We will upload sound clips soon.

     The Grip

    The grips are looking great as well. We confirmed the size matches our requirements and that all components fit together. Mass production started this Monday as well.

    The Pouch

    The pouches for Runbell are finished and we will be receiving them this week or next.

    A Surprise for all Supporters

    All orders of Runbell will come with a cleaning cloth to take care of your Runbell. For all our Kickstarter supporters, we have designed a special edition cleaning cloth.

    The Boxes

    The boxes are finished and we should be receiving them next week.


    No project is complete without surprises and challenges. We have had our fair share as well. In general, our project is behind our original schedule. We added contingency in order to accommodate any possible delays, and can still meet our September shipment deadline. We are staggering our initial purchase order of 3000 Runbells so that our Kickstarter backers and all preorders will be getting their Runbells first and on time. Another major challenge has been the text stamping on our bells. We originally planned to stamp the text on our bells, but moved to a laser engraving system instead. The laser engraving allowed us to engrave more creatively. Unfortunately, our supplier cannot do the engraving as planned. We have found a second supplier who we will be working with instead. We will update you on our discussions with them moving forward. Hopefully, we can resolve any issues without delay.

    Schedule Update

    We plan to mail out the first shipment of Runbells in September. We are looking at a late September shipment and will keep you updated as we progress further in production.

    Until the Next Update

    Thanks again for all your support. We can't want to have you running with Runbell. Cheers, Kevin, Tomoko, and the Runbell team

    Bike Commuting vs. Run Commuting

    Today I braved the streets of Tokyo on my bike. I love riding and really enjoy taking in all the sites as I ride. Normally, I commute underground in the subway and don't see much of anything. Riding is twenty times better than the subway. But riding can be nerve racking. Today, a large truck brazed right along side me. I seriously just had to do one mishap and I would be toast. While I do love to ride, this fear of being run over is serious. What do other bike commuters do to stay safe on the roads? Now, run commuting takes place on city sidewalks for the most part and is as safe as walking. I never have the fear of being run over, mainly because I do follow the stop lights and don't run like a mad man. I hear some stories of other urban runners who neglect all laws of the road. I show respect for everybody's right to use the sidewalks and roads. Unfortunately, it means I have to wait for stop lights sometimes. When I am really in shape and looking for a new personal best for a run commute, these lights are aggravating. But when I want to time myself, I join a proper race. I typically take my run commutes for weekly training, and leave any tough training for the weekends. So bike commuting vs. run commuting? I will stick mostly to run commuting for now. Bike commuting is awesome, but I can't do it every day. We now have two children dependent on their mom and dad to raise them up.

    Transitioning from Shoes to Barefoot

    The book, Born to Run, has changed my life.  I always thought running was a sport for the young.  That running was a sport that destroys your knees and joints.  Born to Run changed this misconception and has put me on the long term path of successful running into my old age.  During so many races, I am passed by 60 year old runners.  I am not slow, these granddads are just super fast. Not only did I start running due to Born to Run, but I also changed my running style.  After finishing the book, my wife got me some Vibram Fivefingers for my birthday. The shoes were so exciting.  I put them on immediately and jogged to the river, where I usual start my runs.  My first run I just made it to the river and was done.  The transition from shoes to barefoot running is a long and tortuous journey.  Make the transition too quickly and you are at serious risk of injury.  Make the transition too slow and you have a good chance of going insane. The key is to take your barefoot runs slow at the beginning.  Running in Vibram Fivefingers requires completely new muscles that are most likely severly underused.  You can't expect to be able to run long runs immediately.  The best way to make the transition to barefoot running is to carry your former running shoes in your backpack and change your shoes mid-run.  Or if you are lucky like me, you couldn't run far when you first started. When I started running barefoot, I ran 2.5 km five days a week for about six months before I could finally start increasing the distance.  I slowly built up to 5km and then to 7km.  I signed up for a half marathon and wasn't sure how far I could make it.  At this point I had not run further than about 7km.  The adrenaline propelled my start, but I was hurting at 13km.  My calves were tightening up and I felt I couldn't make it any longer.  My style worsened but I kept going and finished in 1 hour and 47 minutes, which is a respectable time for a first half marathon. Ten months later, I was running my first marathon.  Friends told me to stop and put on shoes with cushion.  Friends told me I was never going to finish a marathon in these wacky Vibram Five Fingers.  Well, marathon running is 5% race and 95% training.  I trained long and hard for this marathon race.  Unfortunately, I got sick two weeks before the race so I feel that I could have done better.  However, I finished the race in 3 hours and 47 minutes.  Lovely! After another year and a few other races in between, I signed up for my first trail run.  The Hakuba International Trail Run is an amazing run that I have blogged about in an earlier post.  Let's just suffice it to say, trail running requires some trail shoes.  My Vibrams were worn out and had very little traction for the slippery mountain trails.  However, 50km in Vibrams on mountain trails is possible and comes with serious bragging rights. How has your transition to barefoot running been?  Let us know in the comments.    

    Successful Run Commuting

    I am a run commuter.  One funny trait of the Japanese company that I work for (during the day) is that they ban commuting by bicycle.  The reasons are plentiful and are all rather weak: no place to park the bikes, dangerous, our insurance doesn't cover it, etc. While most of my coworkers here in Japan find it strange that I commute home by feet, they have slowly begun to respect this quirky side of the foreigner in the office. Successful run commuting, of course, does not depend on the acceptance of your boss or coworkers.  Successful run commuting begins with the essentials: shoes, map, and water in the summer months.  I use the following equipment during my run commutes. 1. Runners backpack: The backpack I use is a tiny Camelbak one that has just enough room to carry my shoes, shorts, shirts on my way to work and my keys, wallet, phone on my way home from work.  It's light-weight and unfortunately a bit filthy.  I need to buy a new one, but hey the old one still works. 2. GPS map: The streets of Tokyo are hella confusing.  The city was actually laid out so the streets would run in circles.  Legend has it that if the city was under attack, then the invading army would be confused and lost due to the confusing street system.  Thanks to this quirk in history, Tokyo streets are still way confusing.  If you live in Tokyo, you should know your way home in case of an earthquake (but probably don't).  On your first run commute home, I recommend taking a GPS map on your smart phone so that you don't get utterly lost!  My phone saved me on my first few run commutes. 3. Runkeeper: Tracking your distance and pace is  a great way to understand your training and improvements with time.  Runkeeper has the extra social element that makes sharing runs so fun. 4. Shoes: So many blogs seem to focus on shoes.  I am a minimalist runner (using Vibrams) and want to make the switch to completely barefoot.  Shoes are convient, but an essential...maybe not. 5. A Runbell: Use your Runbell to warn pedestrians and slow bikers that you are coming through.  Nobody likes to be suprised by a fast running brushing up aside them.  Use your Runbell and run commuting will be as easy as running along a lonesome river path. Runbell is coming to Kickstarter on May 5th.  Support us and join our launch.  Sign up for our newsletter and be the first to know about our launch.