Saturday, October 15, 2011

New training shoes.

When I started running 2 weeks ago (that's right, I'm a 2-week runner now!) I had to make a decision about what shoes I wanted to use. I felt strange just hopping back into my old Asics Gel Nimbus for some reason. Maybe it is because so many of my team members have downgraded to lighter shoes or maybe it is because I haven't the slightest idea how many miles are on them. I'd been rotating two pairs for a while, but I couldn't remember which pair had been giving me a blister on my first metatarsal head when I stopped running. Was it the pink pair? The white ones? Both? Crap.
Either way, I decided to start fresh with a new pair, but a new pair of what? I can't help but read the studies about heel-to-toe drop and how it affects your stride, etc. I'm not getting into the details of that here, you can find a million other more informed sources elsewhere, but I'll just mention what I was thinking. I did my first run in my lightweight Saucony Fastwitch racing shoes. They aren't flats, but they're super light and comfortable for short distances. They were fine for my second mile, which I ran outside, but I was reminded on my first "big" run (2.5mi) that there simply isn't enough cushioning for my foot. Also, they're getting old. They wear out quickly because of the lightweight nature of the foam on the soles. This is one of the main reasons that I knew I couldn't use them as my training shoe, I didn't want to have to replace them so often. I think I'll stick with them as racing shoes, but there's a new shoe in town now-The Saucony Cortana.

After lots of asking around, just to get ideas about what lightweight shoes were out there, I went to Paragon Sports and NY Running Co. in search of something good. NY Running Co. didn't have any of the New Balances I wanted to try, but they did have the new Brooks Pure line of lightweight but still techy shoes. I tried and really liked the Connect, but I kept looking. I've never worn Brooks, other than wear-testing for them, and I would need to research and bit more. Their drawback was also that they are "low mileage shoes" (read: replace often). At Paragon Sports I described my ideal shoe to the gentleman assisting me and he was less than helpful ("those Fastwitch shoes are for overpronators." Wrong) but I'd done my research and tried on a handful of NB and Saucony shows without finding a winner. When I spotted the Cortana I asked what it was and he listed its features, they were exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for not suggesting them, doofus. I tried them on the treadmill at the store, twisted, poked and prodded every detail and said thanks, but handed them back. I never buy shoes at full price. I went home and read up on them, there are plenty of glowing reviews suggesting that they are long-lasting, lightweight and fit very well in the heel. I found them on my favorite gear site, Holabird Sports for $15 less than retail and they came with a $15 gift certificate and a free pair of Saucony arm warmers (which I will save for the bike or very cold weather when they can be covered up. Arm warmers are the dorkiest things ever. Don't say no, you're only kidding yourself.)

The shoes came really quickly (and shipping was free!) and I wore them to PT and on my 3 mi run Tuesday evening. I think I love them, they're like running on clouds, but really light ones. The heel to toe drop is only 4 mm vs traditional 8-9mm so they're sort of a "transition shoe", not that I'm headed towards any type of funny looking shoe with toes. I figured if I'm going to take my heel to toe drop down at any point, I might as well do it while my mileage is low and I can build up slowly.

So far they have about 7 or 8 total miles on them and I'm very satisfied. (Ok, I added 6 more this morning before posting this, so we're up to 13-14 miles on them)
I'll add a few pictures and a silly video...

Watch the tongue of the shoe closely: 

They have a cool "Sauc Fit" feature on the medial side of the shoe, I just discovered it this morning. The top three lacing holes are separated from the rest of the holes by a gap near the center and a stretchy material (the black/silver vertical stripe on the left photo) which allows the shoe to be tied tight without cutting off circulation. I have a hard time tying my shoes because my feet go numb. I've had no trouble with that in these. There's also a funny little pocket in the tongue of the shoe. 

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back at it

I thought about blogging many times this past week about my return to running, but it didn't seem like there was much to write about. I'm simply running again. I'm increasing mileage slowly and listening to my joints and tendons and all of the other little pieces that creak and whine when I do something "new". I'm still having soreness and knots in my Peroneal muscles (the ones that run from your foot up the outside of your lower leg.) That's been annoying, but not a huge deal and it doesn't bother me while I'm running. My ankle gets a little sore after I run, but nothing like before my rehab.

The truth is that nothing ankle related hurts when I run. It's funny because other parts are squeaking, like my knees, because I couldn't properly keep them prepared for the return to pounding the roads. Normally I might initially stick to softer surfaces when returning from injury, but the dirt and rocks are more likely to cause re-injury by their uneven nature. I do have plans to run on a soft trail in NJ next weekend, one that I know is pretty even and smooth. I'll be extra careful about watching my footing.
For now I'm out running the roads and sidewalks (Inwood is no place to run in the road, seriously) and enjoying every minute of it. I'm wearing my Garmin, but just to keep my mileage in check. We were curious about the group pace last night because it felt quick to me and another friend returning from injury, but it was actually around 9:30's! Haha, we had a good laugh about it because we felt like we were pushing close to 8:00 or something around there, but we were happy to realize that we'd been talking comfortably for the whole way. We were both thrilled that we maintained our aerobic fitness during the recovery. Thanks swimming.

Last Thursday I ran 4.5 miles (I should pay attention to the Garmin distance once in a while, oops, too far) and it felt really good. Simply put: I feel really wonderful when I'm putting one foot in front of the other and the wind is blowing in my face. I love the steady rhythm of my footfalls and my breath and the feeling of pushing myself through the world with my own strength. I'm sure plenty of people get that same feeling from cycling, but for me the bike gets in between me and the earth. It's not the same. Luckily for me, moving through the open water with the strength of my own arms and legs provided a good alternative this summer.

Yesterday was Columbus Day and I had the day off so I spent Sunday night at Mom's and got up for a very familiar 4 mile run. I didn't pack the best shoes for the run, I had my North Face trail shoes, but it was fine. I started off at an easy pace, letting my legs warm up naturally and I ran mile 1 in 8:57. I felt great, the weather was perfect - 55 degrees and sunny. I decided that I'd just let myself find a natural pace for the next two miles and if I felt okay then I'd push a little for the last mile. I eased into and 8:28 pace for miles 2& 3 and I was happy with that. That's my usual "I'm just going for a run" pace. As I pushed towards the telephone pole that marks the end of the 3rd mile I got excited at the prospect of picking up the pace. I let myself ease into it because the first 75 yds or so are uphill followed by a gentle downhill for much of the mile. It felt harder than it normally would have to run at and 8:10ish pace, but I realized I was running into the wind. I let myself go for the last half a mile or so, like loosening the reins on a horse in the final stretch. I didn't sprint, that would be stupid this early in the game, but I cruised and finished up with an 8:04 for mile 4. That felt good. So good.
The best part is that my Peroneals aren't sore today at all. My soleus (solei?) are tight again, but I worked them out with a little yoga this morning. I've noticed that my footstrike is a little more on my forefoot these days so I attribute the soreness to that.

I'm curious how many people know the difference between their calf and soleus. I am always surprised when a seasoned runner says something like "wait, which one is my hamstring again?" while pointing to their quads with one eyebrow raised. I think I may begin a little "what's this muscle?" series to help folks out with the basics of running musculature.
posted from Bloggeroid