Treadmill taper run

Today’s run (treadmill): 2.4 miles

The twin furies of wind and rain forced me to stay inside this morning. I didn’t mind too much. It’s been months since I’ve run indoors and I was almost looking forward to a change of pace. One thing I did like was the reduction in time between waking and running. This is usually 10-15 minutes for outside runs because of all the extra safety gear and complexities of getting out the door. This morning it was simply shorts, shirt, socks, shoes, run.

Every time I use it, I say the same thing. I really dislike the treadmill. It scares me and it’s hard. I don’t like my running surface dictating my speed and if I stumble I know I’ll find myself unceremoniously swept off the tread. But we bought our treadmill for a reason and that reason includes always having the option to run, even on miserable days like today.

I started slowly because the treadmill felt fast, even at a moderate speed. Each quarter mile I increased my speed by .1 MPH so that by the time I’d finished my run I was pacing in the low 9:00 range. Although my overall pace averaged in the mid 9’s it felt like a hard workout. I only ran about 23 minutes in total and I enjoyed the extra time finishing my coffee while watching the local news. I wore my Brooks on today’s run and didn’t love them as much as I had prior to my using the Kinvara’s. I’m planning to run with the Saucony’s on Sunday for the 10K. After all, they’re my PR shoes at that distance. Tomorrow I’ll stay indoors again for a final intensity workout on the elliptical. I’ve never run two races on consecutive weekends before. I’m curious to see how that goes.

Kinvaras as a daily trainer?

These cool Kinvaras are becoming my everyday shoe

The transition to fall weather makes me happy. Although it will take some time to adjust my running gear so that I don’t go out under-dressed like yesterday, I still welcome the change. This morning the temperature where I live is 51 degrees, perfect for a run but quite chilly when standing on the train platform. I always wish for this weather when enduring the heat of summer or the frigid cold in January. I’ll enjoy it as long as I can.

I wore my Saucony Kinvaras during yesterday’s run and I’ve started to really appreciate them. Lightweight but not insubstantial, they are minimally constructed but still reasonably supportive. The Kinvara is a neutral shoe and I thought I’d have trouble with it because I pronate when I run. I’ve had some 8+ mile runs with them without experiencing any problems with my knees or legs and that brings me to question the idea of stability shoe engineering. I suspect that because the drop off between heel and forefoot of the Kinvara is only 4mm, compared to 12mm, (common for standard trainers) the shoe facilitates a more natural mid-foot landing. This would logically neutralize the effects of pronation. I continue to rotate through my other pairs and still consider my Brooks GTS 10’s my everyday shoe, but the Kinvaras are forcing me to rethink that these days. If I do move primarily to the Kinvaras I’ll need to consider their durability and the thermal properties of the barely-there uppers compared with the Brooks’ more substantial build. After all, it’s getting colder out there these days.

Pre-hurricane run

Today’s run (street): 4 miles at 9:20

I’m out of the office today and that allowed me a little more time to run this morning. We’re back to seeing temperatures in the high 90’s after a string of cooler days but, happily, it was still below 80 degrees when I went out at 7:00 AM this morning. If I had more time to run I would have liked to go out for 5 miles or longer. I’m hoping that the Labor Day long weekend will provide the opportunity for a few longer distance runs but hurricane Earl may get in the way of those plans.

My route around the neighborhood was similar to my daily course but I ran a little longer today and there was enough light to see without a headlamp. I saw many neighbors out walking or riding bikes and had to remind myself that it was the middle of the work week and not a Saturday morning. Although it was 77 degrees and rising, I didn’t feel at all uncomfortable during my run.

I wore my Saucony Kinvaras as a change from the Brooks and I’m beginning to favor them over most of my other running shoes. Still, on runs greater than 6 miles, I’m concerned that the Kinvaras will provide enough protection for my feet. I’m still dealing with the effects of the Dirty Sock race from two weeks ago that left my feet swollen and the tip of my left-middle toe black. I’ve been primarily wearing the Brooks since then and that’s helped my foot to recover. The Saucony’s uppers are gossamer thin and the toe box has enough volume as not to create further problems on shorter runs like today’s so I’m now rotating them with the Adrenalins.

I want to get in a few long runs between Friday and Monday but with the storms coming through I’m not sure that will be possible. I don’t mind running in a little rain but I’m going to stay indoors if I see “Hurricane Warning”scroll across the bottom of my TV this week.

Weekend ending run in the Brooks GTS 10’s

Brooks GTS 10

Today’s run (street): 5.44 miles at 9:11 per mile

It’s been a good week for running and today was no different. After yesterday’s trail run at Stillwell Woods I was ready to return to the street and spend some time in the neighborhood. I’ve felt tired over the past few days so I planned to take it easy today and do my distance at a reasonable pace. After running in the Saucony’s on my the last few outings I returned to my Brooks GTS 10’s that provide a more cushioned ride. That’s no dig on the Grid Tangent 4’s which are still extremely comfortable (and fast) or the Kinvaras that are minimally designed shoes that trade some cushioning for far less weight. Each pair of shoes I own has a specific purpose and I cycle through them all.

I set out for a quick loop around the northeast part of the neighborhood before heading south toward neighborhood #3 that’s adjacent to the industrial park. Upon reaching the park I did the main loop to get in some hill work. It’s not a steep incline but it goes on for a while before rewarding the runner with a nice downhill segment. Coming out of the park, I turned left into neighborhood #3 and ran through those streets before I headed back to my neighborhood to complete my 5.4 mile route. I didn’t push hard throughout the run but I threw in a few speedy tempos that helped me maintain an overall pace that was closer to nine minutes than 9:30. The Brooks are great shoes because they are so comfortable and stable while still providing an energetic response. I’ve had some slight knee soreness and every time I run with the Brooks my knee feels a little better. I had the same experience with the GTS 9’s. Brooks makes great shoes. I’m going to rest tomorrow since it’s going to be a day of meetings and travel. I’ll resume my running on Tuesday morning when I return to Cambridge for my Memorial Drive run.

New posting on Runner’s Tech Review – ATAYNE

Today’s workout: Rest day

Runner’s Tech Review is back with a new posting about ATAYNE’s technical shirts. We’ve been testing these high quality shirts made out of 100% recycled materials since December. With their great feel and cool looks they’ve certainly found a place within our running clothes collections.

I wasn’t feeling great this morning when I got up and quickly decided to rest instead of run. The weather may have contributed to a headache and although it wasn’t yet raining, I knew it would start soon. I needed rest and figured not running may be more beneficial than an actual workout today. Tomorrow I plan to be back to the street. I’m going to run in my Brooks GTS 10’s to see if it’s the lightweight Sauconys that have been helping my performance or if I’m just getting faster. I’m betting it’s the shoes.

Return to Jackrabbit

Today’s run (street): 2.4 miles at 9:24 per mile

Yesterday I headed over to Union Square with my friend CK for lunch and a visit to Jackrabbit Sports. CK was in need of a new pair of running shoes. The NB 1225’s he was using were a year old and had a lot of mileage. He was never very happy with these shoes, mostly because of their wide toe box that can make the forefoot feel unstable. I showed him the Brooks Adrenalines that I wear and really like. He tried on a pair and initially said he felt “flat-footed” but after a few minutes he said they felt very comfortable. I could tell CK was ambivalent about the shoes and I encouraged him to try other pairs. He selected a pair of Saucouny Guide 3’s and loved the fit and the energy return that he thought was better than the GTS-10’s. CK bought the Guides and I picked up an Amphipod water bottle that is form fitted for carrying while running and has a strap that secures it to your hand. I’ll probably use it on Friday during my Central Park run. I could have used it last weekend when temperatures were close to 90.

This morning I headed out again for my run and was surprised by how cool it was compared to Tuesday. I actually felt cold having dressed for warmer temperatures. It took a few minutes to get comfortable but once I did it felt pleasant because there was little humidity in the air. My pace felt much brisker than yesterday’s and while it was still a leisurely 9:25 average per mile that was :15 per mile faster than the day before. If not for my time constraints I would have added more miles. I returned home fresh and wishing I had more time to run. I guess it’s always to finish wanting more.

Road test – the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10

Today’s big decision was whether to do this morning’s run inside or out. I try to do my week’s longest runs on Saturdays and Sundays because I have more time and flexibility on those days. I just purchased a new pair of Brooks GTS 10’s and had only run a few miles with them on the treadmill. The experience was fine but 25 minutes on a flat moving surface is far different from how I plan to use these shoes. I was curious to see how the 10’s felt after a longer run. While I knew I could do that on the treadmill, I also wanted to know how they performed on the road. Mark, the salesperson at Jackrabbit who sold me the shoes, said I have 14 days to evaluate them but he asked that I do it on the treadmill in case I need to take them back. I finally decided that I couldn’t properly evaluate the shoes unless I tried them under the conditions where I’ll primarily use them so I went outside for my run.

It was about 33 degrees with a little wind coming from the northwest. I dressed for the a longer run, meaning less layers and enduring the chill until my body heat rose. I was able to wear the 10’s tighter because the tongue does not bite into my instep (as happens on the 9’s) and as I set out I appreciated way the shoes wrapped my foot and returned energy with each step. I regretted that I didn’t wear wool socks and my feet were a little cold for the first mile but that can’t be blamed on the shoes. I was pleased that the “high arch” was a non-issue. I stopped noticing that soon after I’d started. I stretched my route around many different streets and noticed that the 10’s felt similar to the 9’s when I was maintaining my normal cadence. When I accelerated for some tempo runs they really felt fast, almost like a light trainer or racing shoe. At 11.1 ounces they are definitely not racing flats but the bounce and stability are a great improvement over the 9’s.

I ran a total of 4.5 miles which was more than a mile longer than my last long run. Prior to my pneumonia I typically ran five or more miles on each weekend day so I’ll call that progress. By the time I reached the last part of my run I knew these shoes were keepers. They felt like they fit my feet perfectly and provided a great combination of cushioning, stability and response. The tongue and collar of the shoe is an improvement over the prior version and the subtle changes to the heel (articulated edges that move independently for a smoother transition) and multi-density materials that make up the medial post allow for less jarring correction of a pronating foot. But geek talk aside, it’s a great feeling shoe that really performs on the road.

Of course I chose the Brooks!

Yesterday, before I even left for Jackrabbit,  I’d already decided to buy the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10’s. Even my wife weighed in on the decision, she wrote me a note in the morning that said “You should get the Brooks!”  I tried them on at the store and ran for a few minutes on the treadmill to confirm the fit. The arch supports in the 10 are more pronounced than in the 9’s and that concerned me somewhat. I wasn’t completely comfortable standing in the 10’s but when  I started running they felt fine. When I got home I compared the fit between the 9’s and the 10’s and felt that the toe box of the 10 was narrower but not problematic. In comparison it made the 9 feel a little unstable up front, something I hadn’t noticed before. The tongue placement and thickness on the 10 seems to be an improvement over the 9 as well. I was able to tighten the shoe well without feeling sharp pressure on my instep. The only concern had was with the arch support, I could really feel it, and I hoped it would not begin to hurt on longer mileage runs.

I had a late start to the morning today because my son accompanied me to work today and we caught a later train. I hopped on the treadmill at 4:45 AM and ran about 25 minutes with the new shoes. My initial impression of the 10’s was very positive: good mid foot wrap, good stability at the front, excellent transition off the heel. The higher arch was noticeable but not bothersome. The only other observation was that the fit at the heel was looser than I’d have liked. There was some slight slippage but not enough to consider it unstable. I can probably control that better by experimenting with the lacing. Overall the shoes performed well through the run and I appreciated the energy return off the front. That was my initial complaint about the 9’s, that they didn’t provide much bounce. I’ve grown to appreciate the 9’s but it’s nice to have that zip in the 10’s.

This weekend I hope to put them to the test on the road, aiming for 4 or 5 miles as I go into my last two weekends of training for my trail race. I’ll be curious to see how my feet feel after 40+ minutes of running in the new shoes. I have two weeks to evaluate the GTS 10’s but I’m hoping to determine quickly that they’re keepers.

Decision day – Mizuno versus Brooks

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10

If all goes according to plan I’ll be heading back to Jackrabbit at lunch today to get my next pair of running shoes. I’ve been fortunate to have had a great experience with my Brooks GTS 9’s and I’ve carefully studied the running shoe landscape to determine what’s the best shoe to replace them. I’ve done enough due diligence in business to know that all this analysis can reduce the risk of making a bad purchasing decision but not fully eliminate it.

Mizuno Wave Inspire 6

Consider the two candidates left in the race: the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 and the Mizuno Wave Inspire 6. Both are highly regarded stability shoes. The Brooks is supposed to be the best in its class and an improvement over the GTS 9 that I’ve really liked. The Mizuno provides a very energetic response and gets good play in the Runner’s World shoe forum. It’s considered a fast stability shoe, more minimal than the Brooks. I’ve run with the Mizunos and liked them. I’ve only tried on the GTS 10’s but I thought they felt great. I’ve read that the 10’s have a higher arch than the 9’s which concerns me because my arches fall right between flat and normal. I don’t want a shoe that feels superb in the store but creates a problem when the runs go longer.

My affinity for Brooks does give some bias toward the Adrenalines but I’ve been intrigued by the Mizuno’s as well. This is a lot of agonizing for a $100 purchase from a store that will take them back if I’m not completely satisfied. I’ve spent hours pouring over reviews and trying on running shoes to get to this point, yet when I go shopping for a suit that costs five times that much I invest a fraction of that time. Why is that? Why do you think!?

My Chia fueled run

Yesterday’s trip to Jackrabbit did not result in the purchase of a new pair of shoes as I’d expected. I was accompanied by my friend FS who was interested to see if the store carried her shoe of choice, the Brooks Addiction (unfortunately not). She is running a half marathon in late March and now would be the time to start breaking in a new pair. As soon as I saw Mark I knew I wouldn’t be going home with any shoes on Friday. The snow had delayed the Brooks shipment and he was out of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10’s that I was ready to buy.

You may recall that I tried the Brooks Ravennas a week ago but, despite their lighter weight and responsiveness, I wasn’t convinced they were the shoes for me. I tried them on the treadmill on Friday and validated that doubt. While the shoes performed okay at speed the Ravenna’s fairly narrow forefoot required me to move up a half size to allow for adequate room in the toe box. That was fine but the heel volume prevented the snug fit I want in an everyday training shoe. I just didn’t feel like the shoe fit my foot that well. Mark had me try a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 6’s and they felt great when I ran with them. I need to decide whether the Mizunos are the shoe for me or if I should follow my instincts and get the Brooks GTS 10’s. I’ll go back next week and try them both again. I asked Mark if I should be looking at higher end shoes (like the Brooks Trance 9) and he said it’s absolutely unnecessary to spend more to get a top notch shoe. Honesty like that will make me a return customer.

Today I took a trip to a local mega-vitamin store in search of Chia energy bars. They had what I was looking for but they priced the product too high (I’d comparison shopped online) so I didn’t buy a whole box as planned. I did buy one bar just to try it and I also bought  a bag of ground Chia so I could experiment with that. When I got home I mixed 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ground Chia with 10 oz. of coconut water and drank it down. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and the lack of grittiness in the mix. I then headed upstairs and ran 5K on the treadmill. Although the room was warm and my choice of running shirt too heavy I had a great run. Unlike most longer runs on the treadmill that devolve into boredom and exhaustion I was almost as fresh at the end as I was when I started. I only ended at 3.14 miles because I’m still recovering from pneumonia and didn’t want to push past my limits. Was it the Chia that provided the energy to get through the run so easily? Or was it the coconut water? Maybe it was neither, just a combination of good timing and decent rest. Either way I’m intrigued. More experimentation to come!