Shoe de Triomphe

Hopefully I won’t be saying “Whoa is me.”

Today’s run (treadmill): 40 minutes

I love a bargain, especially when it comes to running gear. Unfortunately, not all bargains pay off. Back in November, I was able to purchase a pair of ASICS Kayano 20s for $64. I’ve subsequently seen these shoes selling for $109 (discounted from $160 MSRP) because the 21s have since replaced them. So saving $45 on these highly rated “top of the market, super cushioned” shoes should have been a win-win. At best it’s a win-tie.

I’ve done my best to appreciate the Kayanos, but they don’t provide the fit or the comfort that I’d expected. If I’d paid full price, or even current market price, I’d be upset. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to put the Kayanos aside with no penalty. Saucony has asked me to test a pair of their new Triumph ISOs. This is Saucony’s top neutral shoe, with some very promising attributes.

Like the Kayanos, the Triumphs are designed for bigger runners who do a lot of mileage. That describes me not at all. According to CDC.gov, I weigh 13% less than the average adult male in the US (although I’m sure the gap would be smaller compared to the average male runner). In terms of volume, I run 50% of the weekly mileage of the average competitive runner. So this shoe may not be a match made in heaven. My plan at the moment is to love the Triumphs and relegate the ASICS to weekend casual shoe status. We’ll see. I should be taking delivery next week,

This week has been awful in terms of running. I worked from home on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and all three days should have provided opportunities for running. Between the big snowstorm on Monday and workdays that tied me up from 7:00 AM to early evening, I could not fit in a workout. I was scrambling to get some documents together before a video conference call yesterday and cracked my toe on one of the slate steps that lead down to the den. My hopes for a lunch hour treadmill run were dashed by what I thought was a broken toe.

This morning my toe was a little better. Still swollen, but the pain wasn’t as sharp. I put a little foam padding under the toe joint and wore my Kinvara 3’s on the treadmill with decent results. I kept it to 40 minutes just in case. I’m probably going to do the same tomorrow. With more snow coming on Sunday and Monday, it looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time running inside.

Acquitting the Kayanos

Not guilty

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

I’ve been worrying all week that my persistent soreness might be caused by my new Kayanos. In the past, I developed an injury that related directly to a pair of running shoes. In that case, the shoe had almost 700 miles and the outsole was worn down to the point of imbalance. Although the Kayano is a stability shoe, (which should probably help a problem like this) adapting from more minimal trainers could still cause an issue.

In terms of pain, I’ve been reading an article in Running Times (RT) that says soreness lasting more than 72 hours could signal a chronic injury. I’m going on two full weeks with mine. This morning I had to make a choice to try to run or find some other form of activity. All week I’ve been using the massage stick and doing both dynamic and core stretching. I had less pain when I got up, so I figured I’d try a run.

I wore the Opedix Knee-Tecs that promote stride alignment and also provide warmth. I needed the former to help with my injury and the latter to deal with the chilly temps. Due to my concerns about the ASICS, I probably should have worn my Virratas. I opted instead for the Kayanos to see if the problem got better or worse after the run.

I felt trepidation after my first few steps. The pain was radiating back to front but not to the degree where I had to consider stopping. The RT article said if pain decreases during a run, the injury is probably less serious. I hoped the pain would minimize once I began to warm up. At the half mile point I began to feel some pressure on one of my arches and started to question the shoes again.

I thought about how unfortunate it would be to discard these $160 running shoes (which I saw for $99 at Sports Authority last weekend and actually bought for $64). As I ran further, the pain had reduced to minor discomfort and the arch pressure had gone away. The big question was how I’d feel when I got back home.

I finished the run and concluded that the Kayanos did no further harm. I used the massage bar, iced the tender area and was pleasantly surprised to find that I felt better than before I left. So far so good. I’ll try to step up the mileage tomorrow and I hope to continue seeing improvement. After some success pushing speed last weekend, I’m anxious to get back to faster paces.

First impression of the new Kayanos

So far so good

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

It wasn’t until I was ready to put on my running shoes that I remembered I had a brand new pair of ASICS Kayanos sitting in a box in my gear cabinet. I was excited to try them out and experience a very different platform. After years of low, minimal running shoes, I’m returning to a more cushioned trainer. It’s a little like going from a sports car to a luxury sedan. Both are great, but for different reasons.

Today was going to be busy and long and I was grateful not to have to do my long commute. I got myself out the door early enough to keep on schedule but (unfortunately) it was just in time to play “dodge the school buses and recycling trucks” in my neighborhood.

Once my Garmin got its signal I was off. The Kayanos definitely felt different from my Virratas. It wasn’t the pillowy float that I had expected. Instead, my impression of the shoes was a combination of comfort and purpose. The shape of the mid-sole facilitated a good rolling gait and that meant something today. My legs were not feeling too springy.

I really liked the Kayanos but, as short as it was, I didn’t enjoy the run all that much. It may have been due to all the things I needed to do once my workday started, but it was probably more related to how I felt. Despite being far below aerobic threshold, I had some labored breathing during the first half of the run. Warming up corrected that, but I began to feel some leg fatigue near the end. Some days are like that, even on shorter runs.

I ended up pacing decently – still below target, but better than prior weeks. I think the responsive Kayanos actually helped me today. I’m disappointed to read that rain is expected overnight and into the morning. I really don’t want to face the roar of the treadmill, so I’ll run with my rain jacket if it isn’t a downpour. If that’s the case, I won’t be wearing my new shoes.

Kayano say good deal?

My bargain babies

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

Thanksgiving break seemed like it would go on forever but Sunday is finally here. We had morning plans, so I went out for an early run. Although I didn’t intend to run with a lot of intensity, I kept my max HR between 81%-91%. This produced a nice speed improvement over yesterday. I’m still outside my target zone for performance, but I’ve brought my pace down almost a minute over my last four runs.

There were two factors that held me back today: a miscalculation in terms of dress (too many layers for 50°) and an 11 MPH wind that hit head on during a couple of long stretches. In neither case was I particularly uncomfortable, but I did wish for shorter sleeves and a gentler breeze. The smell of burning leaves enveloped the neighborhood and inspired me to push a little harder. In fact one of my splits was my fastest mile this year, not counting track intervals. I’m sure the Garmin was confused to see me running in the eight minute range.

The real news of the day happened after my run, when we did some end of break shopping at the Gallery at Westbury Plaza. After some awesome Thai coconut curry at Noodles & Co., I stumbled upon one of the biggest running related bargains I’ve ever seen. My daughter was looking for some new running shoes so we stopped into Famous Footwear to see what they had.

I usually view Famous Footwear as an outlet for low end models and slow selling remainders, but they do occasionally surprise me. As I scanned the shelves in the men’s section, I noticed a pair of ASICS Kayano 20’s with a sign that said $64 | regular price $159.99. I knew that ASICS had introduced the 21s, so I would have expected to see these discounted (at best) to the $110-120 range. $64 seemed way too good to be true.

Note the $95 “price conflict”

I found a pair in my size to try on. I figured that if they fit as well as Kayanos usually do, I could ask the actual price and see if it was still competitive. I was slightly ambivalent when I put them on, but after a few quick steps at the back of the store, I wanted them. I asked the assistant manager for the actual price and she said, “$159.99.” I showed her the shelf tag and she said I could have the Kayanos at that price – that it was their error. She was really nice and even let me use their deal of the day (buy one pair and get another at half price) to buy my daughter her shoes.

Needless to say, I’m very excited about this purchase. After five years wearing lighter, more minimal running shoes, I’ve been thinking lately about the industry’s pendulum shift toward more substantial and cushioned models. I’d considered the Hoka Cliftons as well as the Brooks Transcend and the new Adrenalin 15s, among others. The Kayano is THE classic stability trainer and I’m curious to see how I’ll do in a shoe that weighs 25% more than my Saucony Virratas. I suspect I won’t miss the lightness at all.