pre-Boston half choice, running lately, and SHOES galore

And the winner is…

e.murraytoddDark horse, huh? Sometimes I write blog posts asking people for advice, when I really end up deciding for myself just by writing down my thoughts on the choices. My last post was one of those times. I won’t be shooting for a PR here. I won’t need to travel overnight or spend over forty dollars. I could do both of these things, if I picked another race. However, I decided this is best. Boston is my goal race. It will be the biggest race I have ever run in my life, and so that is the race on which I want to keep the focus. Therefore, choosing a really hilly, low-key half marathon to run seven weeks before will force me to not stress over it and treat it as a race I’m running purely as part of my training. A running friend of mine said she’s running it as well, so it will be nice to have her there too (whether or not I can keep up).

Recent long runs

If there is one common theme to my long runs so far in 2014, it’s HILLS. If my memory serves me correctly, it was on the last hill of the first one of these runs that I decided something like, this is a hard run because of all these hills. If I do this often, any hill on the Boston course will feel easier. And thus it began, my new motto:

Suffer now. Glory later.

I may have just made up the wording right now. The concept has been in my mind for awhile though: why not do things the hard way in training, so that on race day, the same factors are so much less of a problem? I can watch the pace on my watch slow down and try not to give in to a steep incline on mile 11 of a long run in January, February, and March. I can make weird faces and wonder how my quads can possibly burn so much after the ascent. I sure as hell want to feel better than that at mile 22 on April 21st. Therefore, I must commit to doing more than my necessary share of hills in training, right now.

Here is what my recent long runs have looked like, elevation-wise.

elevations

Those of you living in the Rockies or San Fran, I don’t want to hear it! I’m basically finding all the hills in a certain radius and doing the opposite of avoiding them. I’ll hopefully drive to some even hillier places later, but for now I think I’ve done a decent job. Each of these contains the same hill at one spot on the run, I believe, and my average pace for that particular mile has gotten faster.

I want this.

I want this…

Theorizing: more is more?

As you may know, I am a little terrified of high mileage training. In high school I would run 45-50 miles a week and was just fine. When I started getting injured I cut it back to 40ish and added cross training. When I still was getting injured, I cut it down to 35ish and added even more cross training. I was paranoid for a reason: when you get stress reactions in places like your pubic ramus on 32 miles a week and people say you “must be overtraining” – newsflash: you are going to get really scared of normal mileage levels. Training for the New Jersey Marathon last year, I really did the minimum possible. I just maximized the training I did on the days I did run. My highest mileage week was 40…and that was the week I did my 20-miler. I did a 20-miler and a 18 (okay, 17.8...)-miler, and those were my two “really long” runs. That’s it. To feel totally prepared for 26.2 as I did come May 5th…that was pretty awesome. I’m considering the theory now that running more will teach my body to handle more, though…and furthermore, actually prevent overuse injuries my strengthening everything just because I’ve taught my body to better handle stresses. A podiatrist once told me he thought my stress fractures happened because my body needed more years of running to truly get used to the stress of running. It took awhile, but I’m starting to get that. I am in no place in my training to experiment – Boston is a mere three months awayHowever, I’m going to try to add one more run a week that my former, paranoid self would not have done. Continue to do PT and core and cross training to the max. See how I feel. It can’t hurt…unless, well, it does.

Workouts

I did one workout last week with the Intervals group. It was nice and easy to start: 3 x 10 minute tempo with five minutes rest (mostly active). I felt better as time went on, averaging about 6:59 for the first, 6:42 for the second, and 6:35 for the last. Clearly that was not a workout meant for marathon training, but it’s still early. As the weeks go on though, expect me to be on the prowl for the best marathon-specific workouts others (all of you…) have done…as I said before, this is something I do not want to skimp on over the next three months!

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SHOE REPORT: this just in, from the land of shoes…

New Ravenna: I am still running through the pair of Brooks Ravenna 4s I got in October, but the Ravenna 5 came out January 1st! I’m getting seeded a pair any day now and I can’t wait to try them out!

I tried them on at work on a day I happened to be wearing pink jeans…so much color!

They FINALLY came!

They FINALLY came!

This is the men's Ravenna 5 if you were wondering.

This is the men’s Ravenna 5 if you were wondering.

Sayonara: Riley stopped by today and graciously gave my coworkers and me some lightly-used (former testers) pairs of the Mizuno Wave Sayonara! The first time I tried on this shoe I wasn’t a fan, but it turned out I was trying a half size too big. I wore them for the rest of the day at work and concluded that I really liked them! (It may have helped that they weren’t the magenta ones….) I’d like to try them out for a short and fast workout…I will report back after said workout occurs.

SAY SAYONARA!

SAY SAYONARA!

New Balance Fresh Foam 890This new technology from NB won’t be released until the first of February, but we were given a sneak peak at our annual work party Friday. We’ll all be getting a pair so I shall report back on those as well. It reminds me of the Adidas Boost, but then again we don’t carry Adidas so I was never fully teched on that anyway.

freshfoam

Run Co group pict

Group picture from the party.

Brooks Transcend: Finally, the Transcend is coming out February first as well. I’ve seen the shoe in person several times – heck, I’ve even sat inside of it:

Seattle-20130821-02364…and falsely advertised its release date months after the fact:

franklin-20130923-02595…so long story short: it will be good for this thing to actually get here. In the meantime, I’m channeling the energy garnered from my anticipation toward drawing spaceships:

 I’ll have lots more to say when I actually run in all of these shoes, of course. This got lengthy; I didn’t even realize I had enough to say about shoes to fill an entirely new post until I was well underway!

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Running shoe myths, dispelled

(Note: originally written for Run.com)

Working at the Running Company and consequently being surrounded by shoes and runners all day, we have heard it all. From recounts of doctor experiences to descriptions of shoe wear patterns to stories of past running shoe experiences, customers tend to tell us a lot of things about their shoes. This can be helpful in recommending their next pair…however, there are comments at which we find ourselves constantly cringing. Sometimes these statements are heard within our walls everyday, making them almost cliché. Okay, a little comical, actually. Here are some of the top running shoe myths we regularly hear, and why they aren’t true. If you think you may be guilty of them…please read on and be enlightened….

Podiatrists seriously need to get over their infatuation with New Balance. Don’t get me wrong, New Balance is a great company that makes awesome running shoes. They’ve even been very innovative in the past year, improving on some of their running shoes immensely, and doing things like snagging the road racing flat of the year. The issue with this statement is, you can really replace NB with any and every other company. New Balance may have been one of the first companies to make widths readily available to the average shopper looking for a good shoe; however, nearly every running shoe from every company now comes in wide and narrow widths. In fact, in our store we stock more widths in other brands than we do in New Balance: Asics GT-2000Asics NimbusSaucony RideNike VomeroNike StructureBrooks Adrenaline versus the New Balance 990, currently the only NB shoe we have in wide widths! Most of the top-selling shoes are available in 2A (narrow women’s), B (narrow men’s, medium women’s), D (wide women’s, medium men’s), 2E (wide men’s, extra wide women’s), and 4E (men’s extra wide). So, the next time you fall in love with a shoe but it’s just a tad too tight – ask if you can get it wider! Chances are, you can. Even without a big “N” on the side of the shoe, I promise.

There are a few things wrong with this assumption. First, let show you where people are pointing when they say this:

Newsflash: if you strike on your heel at all, you are going to strike here. It’s just going to happen. If you can show me an exception, I’d be really interested in analyzing your gait, so please stop in and show me! Having wear in this spot is normal; it is indicative of the supination that is the first part of the gait cycle as your foot approaches the ground. Everybody supinates (it should be a book title, right? Okay maybe not…). What’s important is what happens next. Do you roll onto the ball of the foot and push off without your arch excessively rolling inward? Do you remain on the outside of the shoe once you roll onto the forefoot? In case one, you are in an appropriate running shoe for your biomechanics. In case two, you are either oversupported if you are in a stability shoe or a “supinator,” as some say, if you are in a neutral shoe. So that being said, the location of shoe wear on the heel doesn’t matter; it’s only good to know if it exists. Shoe wear on the forefoot can actually tell you something:

There are two more things to keep in mind: 1.) A mid-foot strike would generate a wear pattern that looks like the middle shoe above, but without wear (or much of it, anyway) near the heel, and 2.) You can only get a limited amount of information from looking at the wear pattern on your shoes. the best way to really understand how you are running and what you need is to get to a store and have your gait analyzed on the treadmill and/or as you run down the sidewalk (sometimes they produce different results, trust me!).

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up. I’m not sure there is a single brand that can be categorized as “bad” as a whole. Some running shoe companies make only higher-quality running shoes, meaning there are no models that retail for less than ~$80 and all have pretty sound cushioning systems (e.g., Brooks, Mizuno). However, most brands make “cheaper” shoes that are abundant on the shelves of department stores and retail for $50 or less. Put enough of these on the market, make them attractive enough, and advertise them as “running shoes,” and you will certainly get a lot of complaints from runners trying to get 40 miles per week out of them. Maybe even 20. Nike is a culprit of this practice, and it’s actually fine – if you let the half-mile dog walkers and the gym class-goers purchase them for those purposes only.  Nike makes plenty of superb running shoes in addition to their sub-par models – those are the ones you want to try. Another reason someone might believe the above myth is…the Nike Free. I’m not sure why, but in some people’s minds, the Nike Free = Nike. This is obviously not true. Frees are flexible and not supportive…they work for some people, not for others (like any other shoe). It shouldn’t define Nike as a brand though. Need some support? Try the Nike Structure the next time you come in for a new pair of shoes. You might be pleasantly surprised. Are you a neutral runner who likes a lot of cushion? If you haven’t worn the Vomero or Pegasus, don’t knock on Nike.

Back in the day, before I knew what i was doing, I wore cheap Nikes...in a race for that matter!? I have since learned, obviously.
Back in the day, before I knew what I was doing, I wore cheap Nikes…in a race for that matter!? I have since learned, obviously.

 

I’m sorry, but this is totally backwards. Let me explain. Here is a diagram of the foot in respect to arches:

When we talk about having a high or low arch, we are usually referring to the height of medial longitudinal arch with respect to the ground on which we are standing.  Usually, if your arch is “high,” it is stable, meaning it stays upright throughout the gait cycle and you are a neutral runner needing no extra support from your running shoe. A running shoe with stability could cause you to not pronate enough, which is just as bad as overpronating. There are occasions in which a high arch is also very flexible and needs more stability, but this is a rarer case. It is not wrong for someone with a high arch to want to feel “support” though. A stable shoe is not the answer though; all shoes are flat inside. Now, there are some that have a more narrow platform in the center, which might feel better given the shape of the foot’s arch. What a runner with a high arch should consider is actually an insert such as Superfeet or Powerstep to fill in the gap between the arch and the shoe. While it’s not necessary from a visual/biomechanical standpoint, its addition has many benefits, such as plantar fasciitis prevention, comfort, and increased toe-off efficiency.

Green Superfeet insole.

Another note about Superfeet: the different colors aren’t just for fun! Each (Berry, Orange, Green, Blue, Black, and Carbon – new at PRC!) are a little different, and what works for the unique combination of your foot + your shoe depends on a number of factors. As always, let us know if you aren’t sure why you have the color you have, or if you should try something different. There are only subtle differences…but how many steps do you take on a run?! It all adds up, and the key is to be comfortable and supported.

Well, I’ve got to get back to work…chances are I’ll hear about five other myths throughout the course of the day and kick myself for not including them in this post.

What questions do you have for me? I’m down for dispelling myths all day, so ask away in the comments! Don’t be shy!