Windy morning run

Today’s run (street): 3.85 miles

A morning appointment prompted me to run early today. As I prepared my running gear I heard the winds howl and I checked the thermometer to see that the temperature (with wind chill) was in the low 30’s. My window of time before I needed to leave for my appointment was small so I figured I’d be happy to get three miles in. I’m on vacation until the 28th so I wasn’t as concerned about covering distance as I normally would on a Saturday.

I wore a stretchy short sleeved base layer under a half zip that my kids gave me for Valentines Day. On top of that I wore my trusty ASICS windbreaker and that turned out to be a perfect combination for today’s conditions. I had a busy work week that preempted my running schedule. I missed my Tuesday workout and did not feel well on Thursday so I didn’t run that day. I slept well last night and had hoped this week’s light workout schedule would have set me up for an energetic run. Even so,  I struggled a bit at the beginning but that could have been due to the stiff headwinds that made it hard to maintain good running form.

I’ve taken to having a gel 30 minutes before my longer runs but I forgot to do that until a few minutes before I left. Consequently,  I didn’t get any benefit until I was halfway through the run. I never felt particularly good but as I progressed through my route I did run better, with negative splits for the second and third miles. I’m not sure if I’ll visit Stillwell or Bethpage tomorrow or if I’ll wait until Monday to try a trail run. I’m concerned that we’ll get more snow on Monday and that could push my opportunity for off road running even further away.

Tubes, zig-zags, bounces, shocks and resistors

K-Swiss goes tubular

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I were on the train heading back from the city when we stopped at a station. Directly outside our window was a billboard ad for the K-Swiss Tubes running shoe. Knowing nothing of this shoe, I judged it on design alone. Built within the outsole were a series of open “tubes” that run perpendicular to the length of the shoe. The tubes were clearly designed to disperse shock and (I’m guessing) return some energy from the impact. I just remember thinking that I would never wear that shoe in public.

Adidas Mega Bouncer
Nike’s Shox absorber
Reebok gets Ziggy
The Reebok ZigTech shoe provides a similar visual reaction. In the case of this shoe it’s a rippled outsole (e.g., “zig-zag”) that supposedly provides a flexible high energy experience. I’ve been amused by the marketing of the shoes and the fact that not one athlete who endorses them is known for their running. I don’t know if the technology works but they sure look funny.
One model of a weird shoe that I have tried is the Adidas Mega Bounce. I like Adidas as a brand so I put on a pair out of curiosity. I expected springiness but all I felt was awkwardness. So much for that. I’d put the Mega Bounce into the same category as the Nike Shox. This shoe is built with shock absorbers in the back that remind me of the air shocks I installed on my Mustang when I was in high school. This shoe seem to be popular and they are fairly pricey but I rarely see them on the feet of real runners.
Skechers resists running
This weekend I saw an ad for Skechers SRR (Skechers Resistance Runners) that looks like a cross between those ubiquitous “Shape Ups” and a running shoe. Their website claims that dramatic gains in postural, gluteus medius and calf muscle activation (???) will come with the use of these shoes. Okay, good to know. I realize that all of the serious running shoe companies have their own unique science. Brooks has DNA and BiOMoGo, ASICS has their GEL and Trussic technologies, Saucony has “Pro Grid” and Mizuno has the Wave. At least these features are integrated into the shoe in such a way that they look like serious footwear. I could say I’m not one to judge but clearly I am. The question is, if K-Swiss or Skecher were to send me a pair of their latest models, would I give them a fair shake on Runner’s Tech Review? The answer is yes. However, I guarantee most of my testing would be done in the early morning, in the dark, so I’d have the lowest chance of being seen with them in public.

What Christmas means to me

Today is Christmas day and for me that meant something very special: I could run in my neighborhood on a Friday morning without a single car on the road. While I love the energy of the holiday season where everywhere you go there are fun decorations, happy shoppers, and holiday music I also love the fact that for one day of the year (Christmas) most businesses shut down and the world becomes a very quiet place. I’m enjoying this quiet for the most part today, although I did have to sit through a two hour Alvin and the Chipmunks movie this morning.

I decided to continue my experimentation with a more upright form, shorter strides and striking with the front of my feet. I ended up running 5.6 miles at 8:59 per mile overall on this morning’s run. Like yesterday, I was taking more steps per minute (averaged 85 today) but it seemed an easier effort than when I was running at 80 SPM. Although I was pleased to have broken 9:00 per mile on a 5+ mile run without working up much of a sweat I saw in my Garmin reports that I’d slowed down at around the 20 minute mark. It may be that I just need to build up my calf muscles to make it easier to increase my stride frequency. I finished my run with a final push, covering the last third of a mile at around 8:00 per mile. It felt good and again I was surprised to achieve a decent pace while feeling so relaxed.

Yesterday I spent an hour trying some shoes and I had a chance to try out the ASICS 2150s. I thought they felt much better than the 2140s that I’d considered prior to choosing the Brooks GTS 9s. I also tried both the ASICS Kayano 16s (new) and the 15s. They felt the same to me – fantastic. I’m going to give the new Brooks GTS 10s a try but unless they feel significantly better than the GTS 9s I might just pick up a pair of the Kayanos. The 15s were selling for $99, the same price as the new 2150s and GTS 10s. Of course, now that I’m running differently I may want to consider a different type of shoe. Perhaps it’s time to give the Newtons a try!

Trail running as painkiller

As I prepared for this morning’s elliptical workout I thought about all the mileage I’d put in over my vacation. I also thought about how it may have contributed to my nagging leg pain that started earlier this year. I’m still unsure of the cause of this pain, it may be a hamstring pull or something else entirely. I’ve thought numerous times about making an appointment with an orthopedist to figure it out. In the mean time it’s probably a good idea to do more cross training to rest whatever gets aggravated when I run.

I checked my workout list before I stepped up on the elliptical machine and saw that I hadn’t logged a session on it since June 11. I’ve taken every opportunity to run outdoors over the last few weeks and my early morning headlamp runs have contributed to that. I thought that an elliptical session this morning would be a nice way to use different muscles that could help strengthen my leg and lessen the pain. I then realized, for the first time in memory, that I had no pain. I was understandably happy but that made no sense to me. I ran a tough 4+ miles yesterday on the trails to top off a record mileage week. I should be hurting more, not less.

Perhaps it was the trails that made a difference. The softer surface absorbs the impact differently than running on pavement. If that’s the case I wonder if I should be considering an even more cushioned shoe than the Brooks. The Asics are comfortable and it’s my understanding that they represent the high end of the cushioning scale. Hard to know if it’s a coincidence but I will plan more weekend runs at Bethpage and Stillwell if that’s the case. Reminder to self: buy a compass.

A new definition of work shoes

I took advantage of being on vacation and set out for my daily run a little after 9:00 AM this morning. I’d considered taking a rest day or using the elliptical as I usually do on Mondays but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to run outdoors. Since Friday’s 6 mile run I’d run 3.1 miles on Saturday and another 3.7 on Sunday. I set out without any planned course or distance and settled into a comfortable pace for the first half mile thinking I’d speed up once I warmed up a bit. I reached the point where I usually turn left into the core neighborhood but I decided today to turn right over to Jericho Turnpike and ran west along the wide sidewalk. I’ve done this route a couple of times but from the opposite direction (uphill) so traveling this way was a lot easier. I actually felt so guilty for following such an easy path that I cut back into the neighborhood a third of the way in to find some more challenging terrain.

There were many people outside, mostly walkers, and I saw a couple of moms strolling with their middle school age daughters who would be graduating this afternoon. I purposely avoided the distance and pace readouts on my Garmin because I’d decided to run based only upon time. In all I covered 4.13 miles in about 38 minutes for a grand total of 17 miles over the last four days.

Later in the day my wife and I went out to do a few errands and we stopped into Marshalls along the way. Just for fun I looked at athletic shoes and didn’t expect to see much but I tried on a pair of Salomon Tech Amphibian water shoes that looked interesting. The price was right but they didn’t feel that good so I took a pass. The rest of the shoes were basically the same models you’ll typically see at department stores – low end models of good brands. I was about to give up until I saw a pair of Asic Gel-1130’s for under $40. I tried them on and liked the fit so I decided to buy them to keep in my office for both planned and spontaneous runs in the city. I may not have chosen the bright green trim if I had another choice but my daughter pronounced it a cool looking shoe.

I’m going to try the 1130’s tomorrow. I’m curious to see how they stack up against the Brooks GTS 9’s at almost three times the price. New running shoes, what could be better than that?

Give me the old soft shoe

My Nikes served me well for Saturday’s race and it was almost with regret that I set out on Sunday to find their replacements. On the advice of experienced runners I decided to visit a local running store in Huntington where I could get some informed opinions on the right shoes to buy. The woman who helped me certainly had the right attitude and she looked at the way I walked and confirmed that I have a neutral stride. I told her I wanted a neutral cushioned shoe with a good response for a front foot runner.

I was given a number of shoes to try from Saucony, Asics, Brooks and New Balance. They all felt okay although I found one pair a bit unbalanced. After some trying and re-trying it came down to the Asics 2140’s versus the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9’s. After some debate I chose the Brooks and took them home.

When I got home I looked up the shoes online and confirmed that the Brooks are more of a stability shoe for pronators (AG had warned of this) and the Asics 2140 had similar characteristics. I was deeply disappointed that I was steered toward this type of shoe despite my request for neutral cushioning. I spent the rest of the day deciding whether the Brooks, which felt okay, would be worth keeping. I ran with them on the treadmill and they felt fine but their responsiveness was not what I was hoping for. A big issue is the way they fit at the tongue, too tight against the front of my ankles. I felt like I couldn’t have the laces any looser without feeling some slippage. I also think I’ve diagnosed the problem with my Garmin, a low battery in the foot pod. I’m hoping to find a replacement for that today.

I tried the Adrenaline GTS 9’s again this morning and decided that I should be 100% happy with a pair of running shoes that cost twice what I paid for my trail shoes. Super Runners has a number of stores in NYC and their policy is to take back or exchange shoes if you’re not happy. I’m going to take back the Brooks and try on true neutral shoes until I find a pair that feels as good as the Nikes did when I first brought them home.