The Outside Blog

Adventure : Jun 2013

Russian Cat Theater Reopens

A Russian circus family reopened Moscow's famed cat theater. In a typical show, cats will skateboard around stage and may even be found balancing on spinning plates. Founded just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the theater, run by clown Yuri Kuklachev and his sons, Dmitry and Vladimir, recently reopened following major renovations.

"With cats, each show is an improvisation," Yuri Kuklachev's younger son, Vladimir, told AFP. "Some cats enjoy the stage, they love it when we watch them attentively, while others do not like noise or lights and sit motionless," he added.

Yuri, a legendary clown, began training cats to set himself apart from the clown competition and opened the theater in 1990. It is not the only animal theater in Moscow. The Durov animal theater features a performing raccoon, ravens, and mice who run on a miniature railway.

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Midwest Pummeled by Thunderstorms

Emergency officials are assessing the damage caused by another burst of thunderstorms and tornadoes that took at least five lives and injured 75 people across the Midwest Friday.

Bearing down on Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the storms toppled cars and left commuters trapped on an interstate highway. One tornado tossed a Weather Channel storm chaser truck nearly 200 yards before slamming it to the ground, though the passengers escaped with minor injuries.

Storms in Missouri and Arkansas caused considerable property damage and flooding. Three people went missing early Friday and three others were reported killed in flooding near Y City, Arkansas, 125 miles west of Little Rock, Arkansas.

While Friday's storm didn't match the fury of the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, 11 days ago, they dumped around 7 inches of rain, making the tornadoes difficult to spot and leading to severe flooding in areas.

"Some tornadoes are wrapped in rain, so it's basically impossible to see, which is extremely dangerous," Bruce Thoren, a meteorologist with National Weather Service told The New York Times. "Somebody driving along really not familiar with what's going on can basically drive into it."

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California Wildfire Explodes in Size

A fire threatening foothill communities of Los Angeles, California, exploded in size overnight, fanning out to nearly 41 square miles and triggering the evacuation of nearly 1,000 homes. Five structures have been destroyed by the blaze.

The fire broke out Thursday near a hydroelectric plant and quickly burned through thick, dry brush. Crews have been battling triple-digit temperatures and strong, erratic winds that have pushed the fire up and down steep slopes. The blaze is 20 percent contained.

A blaze near Santa Fe, New Mexico, has spread to nearly 10 square miles since it was sparked by a downed power line on Friday, enveloping the city in a thick haze. Residents of about 140 homes have been evacuated as a crew of more than 400 battles to keep it at bay. The fire was zero percent contained as of Sunday morning.

Check out this eerily beautiful time-lapse of the fire that's rapidly spreading in New Mexico.

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Veteran Storm Chaser Killed

Veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras along with his 23-year-old son Paul and longtime chase partner and  friend Carl Young were caught and killed by a large tornado that tore through El Reno, Oklahoma, Friday.

Jim Samaras, Tim's brother, announced the death of the storm chaser on Facebook Sunday, saying all three died "doing what they loved."

Samaras was one of the country's premier storm chasers, who engineered probes to capture information at the base of tornadoes. In order to collect data, Samaras and his team chased storms, placing probes directly in the twister's path. He also founded TWISTEX (Tactical Weather Instrumental Sampling in Tornadoes EXperiment) to advance the warning available to the public.

“This has really shaken up everyone in the storm chasing community, we knew this day would happen someday, but nobody would imagine that it would happen to Tim," severe storms photojournalist Doug Kiesling told CNN. "Tim was one of the safest people to go out there.”

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How to Transition to Minimalist Running

The minimalist vs. traditional shoe debate shows no sign of slowing. Minimalists argue running with little cushioning and stability underfoot will encourage a more natural stride that lessens impact on the hips. Traditionalists counter that downsizing your shoes can lead to injury—broken metatarsals, in particular—and that some people will continue to heel strike anyway

So how do you know if minimalist running will work for you? Try it. Below, tips for making the transition injury-free.

Increase Your Mobility
“It’s not a shoe thing, it’s a movement thing,” says minimalist running evangelist Dr. Mike Cucuzzella. “You’re basically retraining your body.”

Your soleus, calves, Achilles tendons, and plantar fascia need to be loose to be effective at absorbing impact. If they’re stiff, Cucuzella recommends starting with exercises that will increase range of motion. Squats, foam rolling, and rolling on a lacrosse ball are all effective options.

Walk to Strengthen Muscles
“Almost all of the essential transitioning takes place while you’re walking,” Cucuzzella says. “Most people walk more than they run. You can do a lot of strengthening just by walking around in a minimal shoe.” That means ditching stilettos or other raised-heel work shoes for thin-soled dress shoes or sneakers. “Walking is also a great way to work on mobility,” Cucuzella says.

Another easy way to strengthen your feet: heel raises. Stand on the ball of one foot and hold your heel off of the ground for 20 to 30 seconds. If that’s hard, work your way up to 30 seconds before running in minimalist shoes. Another option: Do 20 heel raises slowly. “You’re assessing your strength and mobility,” Cucuzzella says. If you can’t complete these exercises yet, keep walking.

Be Patient
A recent study found that habitually shod runners who abruptly transition into barefoot running experience increased tibial shock, knee flexion, and inner calf engagement. “If you force yourself into this running style, and your body’s not used to it, you’re increasing your risk of injury,” says lead researcher Evan Olin.

His advice for runners looking to ditch their shoes all together applies equally to those making the minimalist switch. “Make the transition in stages,” Olin says. “Maybe do just the first quarter-mile of your run with the new technique, then put your shoes on to finish it. Then very gradually, very slowly increase your mileage so you’re not giving your body a crazy shock.”

Cucuzzella agrees. “If you go to the gym, and you do a new exercise that you haven’t done, even if you do it just right—the right amount—the next day you’ll feel a little bit sore.” Transitioning to minimalist shoes is just like trying a new exercise, he says. “You’re working things differently. You may have a little soreness in your calf area, and in the muscles of your feet.”

If you’ve been running and walking in motion control shoes, expect the change to be a relatively long process. It may take four weeks or more to transition without injuring yourself.

How long it will take you depends on your current biomechanics and form, but Cucuzzella has a few ideas on how to get started:

  • Add 10 percent a week in a minimalist shoe
  • Add five minutes every day or two in a minimalist shoe 
  • Add a mile every day or two in minimalist shoes 
  • Run slowly and pay attention to how you feel

The Bottom Line: Transitioning can be frustrating for runners who’ve already built up mileage in traditional shoes because they may have to start from scratch. But with the proper strength and flexibility training, and a gradual build-up, Cucuzzella believes everyone can make the switch—and that running will be more enjoyable after they do.

Click here for more of Cucuzzella’s tips on transitioning. 

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