Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New Kicks From New Balance

Leave it to a married pair of runners to turn a date into a running shoe shopping trip.

I dropped off our little girl at Grandma's house, then headed over to the elementary school my wife where my wife teaches. We headed into town and would up making a short stop at a store called Hyder's that sells factory second shoes. A pair of Inov-8 shoes caught her eye, but they were too small, then we wound up each finding a pair of New Balance Minumus MO10s that fit. We spent a total of $60 for two pairs of shoes.

Did I really need another pair of shoes?

I had decided I didn't really need another pair of shoes. I was planning on getting through this winter with what I had, but I kind of wanted a pair of shoes good for cold weather, more waterproof than my VFFs (not hard to find that) but still minimal. The Merrell Sonic Glove was on my radar as was the VFF Lontra, but being on a budget was a deterrent there unless I found a great deal.

The MO10 seemed to fit the bill, so I quickly checked the ankle cuff to see if it had the same problem I found with the NB Minimus Trail Zero pair that I returned. The cuff was sewn in so no problem there. They were a size larger than my size, but I often go up a size to accomodate my forefoot. Even in minimal shoes with a wider toe box, I have trouble getting a good fit just behind my toes. (My wife has the same issue.) I tried them on, liked the feel and bought them.

This shoe has a 4mm drop from heel to toe, more cushioning than any of my other shoes, and a slight arch support. I was concerned about these factors, but so far they have not shown a problem for me. In fact as I am still recovering from a couple of injuries (I think my glute/hamstring issue is the root of my plantar issue in my left foot,) This slightly more supportive shoe has been leaving me less sore the day after a run. I was also concerned about the band across the forefoot causing a problem with my wide foot, but it turns out not to be an issue for me. It does, however cause an issue for my wife. Perhaps if she went a size up or found a wide width version she would be OK.

Warm and dry.

 These shoes have a gusseted tongue and water resistant upper so these will be my go to shoes for wet or cold weather. While there are plenty of folks running in snow in Five Fingers, I hate having soggy toes, and am a weenie about the cold. I've been wearing them about in temperatures in the lower 20's Farenheit and they provide adequate warmth, especially if I add socks to the mix.

Too much shoe?

I've been working on improving my form as I think that some of my soreness is due to my twisty duckfeet. So I was concerned about a shoe that has more cushion and support might allow me to relapse into poor form. I was excited to try them out on a run though, so I got ready for my long run wearing my new shoes. Just in case of unforeseen problems with the shoes, I threaded a race belt through my Xero Shoes huaraches, so that I could change shoes if the need were to arise.

So how was the run?

I was able to run the full distance in my new shoes with no problems, and as an added bonus, there was no soreness the next day. these are the only shoes I run in now, that I continually notice while they are on my foot. There was much less ground feel than my VFF Treksports, Bikilas, or Soft Star Dash Runamoc. I could also feel the arch support and the elevated heel. There was not so much heel lift as to cause heel striking while running, but I have found myself scuffing my heel occasionally while walking in them. I also noticed that my foot does not get cold in them. I don't know if this will become an issue for running in hot weather, but I am not concerned as my intent is to wear this shoe for cold and/or wet weather.

The other use I will have for this shoe is as a casual shoe. I like to have shoes that serve multiple purposes, until they finally wore through the upper after nearly two years of use, my black Treksports were my all-purpose shoe. The only two complaints I had with them was they were not all weather, and I was a constant walking FAQ for Vibram Five Fingers. I feel like these shoes will blend in better than toe shoes.

Summing it up.

These shoes have a soft comfortable upper that I like with or without socks. Sized up they give me enough toe room while being a little long. The length is not a big issue because of the slight toe spring lifting the end of the shoe over obstacles. The sole is flexible, less than my other minimal shoes, but sufficiently flexible. The heel lift and arch support I generally think of as negatives, but they appear to be helping me keep running minimal while recovering from injuries. This shoe should be good for someone interested in heading towards a more barefoot shoe, but not quite ready to go all the way minimal. It had earned a place in my shoe rotation, especially through the cold winter and wet spring.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Be Like Water

A friend was recently given this vague advice. "Be like water, my friend."

I've heard this advice many times in my life and usually the implication was to flowing, take the path of least resistance, take the shape of the container, or something along those lines. There are, however, many ways to be like water.

A gentle steady rain providing needed moisture to plants and animals.

A thunderstorm creating flash floods wiping away everything in its path.

A consistent coursing river cutting down into the earth over many years.

An arroyo only carrying water when conditions are right.

A calm sea.

A tsunami.

A water fall crashing over a cliff.

Freeze and thaw splitting rocks.

So go my friends and be like water. There is a time to take the shape of the vessel and a time to dash the vessel against the rocks. A time to conform to the path laid out for you and a time to wash it away. A time to wait patiently, a time to consistently push to greater depths.

Be like water.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

You Mean I Have To Swim A Whole Mile!?!?

Now I've gone and done it.

I've committed to an Olympic Distance Triathlon.
(Yes, I know that didn't require capital letters, but in my life it does.)

Someone please swim this last lap for me.
In case you didn't know, the distances for this race are Swim 1500 meters, Bike 40K, Run 10K.

Wait, what? 1500 meters.

You mean I have to swim a mile!?!?!?!

The thing is I'm a pretty lousy swimmer.

Less than two years ago I started training for my first triathlon, and basically had to relearn to swim.

Now here I've done two triathlons, each with a 400 meter swim and I still can barely swim. So I've got to start my swim training again. I've got to build up my mileage. This will be a lake swim so I can't stop and hang onto the wall to rest.

25 mile bike ride, no problem. 6 mile run? Pshaw.

That swim though, that's got me concerned.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Not Hating the Treadmill


Man, those things are boring. Standing in one place, going nowhere, staring at a wall instead of a trail or even at least a road, no change of scenery. It is so hard to stay motivated on a treadmill, so easy to just stop and sit on the couch.

It is so easy to hate the treadmill. So I started thinking differently.

The treadmill is a training tool. If there is any way to train your "stick-to-it-iveness" it is running on the treadmill. If you want to develop the willpower to keep pushing, try to keep pushing when the La-Z-Boy is within reach.

The treadmill is a choice. It might be more horrible to run in the freezing cold or sloppy weather, or it might be more horrible to run on the treadmill, but I am thankful to have the choice.

The treadmill is a blessing. Since I am male this one matters less to me than my wife. It is one thing for me to go out on a dark and isolated road at 5:00 am and run, it is another thing entirely for her to do the same. We just don't feel safe about that.

Hopefully my thinking here will help some of you feel better about the dreadmill.

How about you? What do you do to feel better about a treadmill workout?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Twisty McDuckfeet Strikes Again

I've blogged about my duckfeet before. I've found a new training tool that will keep me aware of when I duck foot, and hopefully help me correct it.

I recently moved to clipless pedals on my bike. If you haven't tried clipless pedals, the important thing to know about this as related to my duck footedness is that to unclip from the pedal you simply twist your foot. This is a good thing as there are times when being able to quickly separate your foot from your pedal can keep you from crashing, when your foot has a tendency to twist one way on the downward stride and the other way on the upward swing however it becomes very easy to unclip accidentally.  Apparently for me this happens most when pedaling quickly.

As I am a silver lining kind of guy, I will use this unfortunate fact to help me stop twisting my feet so much. I think it will improve my running form as well as my biking.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Only Run On Natural Surfaces

Not the "natural surfaces only" line again.

I don't know how many times I've been told that I can't run on man made surfaces without "properly cushioned" shoes.

If natural surfaces are so much easier for running why does EVERY track meet have a man made surface?

Oh, you meant a golf course when you said natural surface? I see, that would be a man made surface. The rock trails at Mammoth Cave National Park would be natural surfaces.

As I run on the roads around my house, I sometimes have to hop over onto the natural surfaces as cars come by. These natural surfaces include bare limestone, prickly pear cactuses, and fields of chest high wildflowers and prairie grasses.

When I trail run at Mammoth Cave it gets so much faster and easier when I hit the boardwalks and sidewalks.

I think most people that tell me to run on natural surfaces have never run on natural surfaces and never run in anything but heavily cushioned shoes.

I happen to love natural surfaces, but not because they are easier to run on. I love them because they are harder to run on. Running on trails forces me to use more awareness, better technique, a larger variety of movements and therefore a larger variety of muscles.

So yeah, run on natural surfaces, then when you need some active recovery take it easy on a sidewalk.
Natural Surface
Man Made Surface

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Are You Asking The Wrong Question?

It is very easy when starting something new to begin by asking the wrong questions. I have been seeing this a lot online lately as people are admirably firing up their New Year's fitness resolutions. "Should I run with a weighted vest?" "Should I be doing hill sprints?" "What shoes should I buy?"

These questions are like a phone call I got once while working at a local tour cave. Some guy called and asked, "How do I get there?" I responded, "I'm not sure. Where are you starting from?"

The first two questions you need to know the answers to in travel are, "Where am I starting?" and "Where do I want to go?"

The same applies to your fitness goals.

Where are you starting? If you are on google plus asking people how to achieve a fitness goal, the first thing you need to tell them is where you are right now. Have you been fit and want to improve? Have you been sedentary? Do you have special orders from your doctor? Do you get out of breath walking across the room?

If you ask someone how you should get fit and they throw out a simple answer without knowing these questions, ask someone else.

The next thing you will need to know is what your goal is.

Do you want to get fit enough to get through your regular daily activities without aches and pains? Do you want to get a faster time in a 5K race? Do you want to do strength training and find out how much you can lift? Do you want to run your first marathon or your first triathlon?

Different goals produce different answers.

Know where you are, and where you want to go first, then plan your workouts.

One more thing. I just can't let this one go. Please don't go online and say, "I just started running, what shoes should I buy?" And please don't answer, "Anything by (insert your favorite brand)."

Monday, January 7, 2013

She Begged, I Gave In.

She begged me.

I told her it was too cold.

She said it was just for the treadmill.

I relented.

I tied her huaraches.

She ran.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Resolutions Shmesolutions

I've never been a fan of the whole New Year's Resolution thing. For me, picking an arbitrary date on which I am supposed to make resolutions just doesn't work. I make resolutions throughout the year on an as needed basis.

I do recognize that it for many people it helps to have that external pressure. I've seen people get fired up this time of year for no other reason than a new calendar started, so hey if it works for you, go for it.

This year it just so turned out that several parts of my life sort or wrapped up neatly around the end of the year, so it turns out I have lots of goals I'm planning and working on right here around New Year's resolution time.

My plans include:

Getting my kung fu training back on track.
Doing at least one fastpacking trip with my wife.
Fall Creek Falls trail half marathon. <2:00:00
Tri Fall Creek Falls Olympic Triathlon
5K <00:20:00
and maybe, just maybe