Banish the Sole and open up the room

One step closer to the trash

Today’s workout (elliptical): 45 minutes

It occurred to me that I could temporarily recover some space in my guest room/office/workout room by folding the Sole and putting it into the corner. Once I did that, I changed the angle of the elliptical so that it faces the television (sort of) instead of sitting perpendicular to it. I never really cared about watching TV on the treadmill, especially in the last six months when the relatively quiet machine started sounding like an out of balance washing machine. But the elliptical is quiet because it’s self powered, but so boring that the TV is an essential distraction.

Instead of using my Karhu Fast2s (shoes I product tested a few years back but never liked for running) I put on the new Sauconys for my elliptical session. Prior to that, I tried on the ASIC Kayanos to compare the fit. There was a very different feel between the two pair and I preferred the Triumphs.

Until I actually run in the Sauconys, I’ll have to judge them on their indoor attributes. The Karhus have a fairly stiff mid-sole while the Triumphs are little more flexible and I liked them better. I would have preferred to run this morning but we have to use the tools we have. I really need to get another treadmill.

SIOR asked me why I’m not using the fitness center at my office and I was embarrassed to say that I’d forgotten it was there. I get into the office early but I usually start focusing on business right away. I need to remember to bring in running gear. I probably won’t do that next week because my schedule is crazy and I’ll be in the city on one of those days. I’ll plan to try it the week after that. I may get out and run at Old Westbury on Sunday because the running club posts are saying it’s clear. I’m curious to see how these Sauconys perform on pavement.

New shoes and nowhere to run

ISO excited!

It’s a little ironic that my new Saucony Triumph ISOs came today. They look cool and my first impression of them is that they feel great. Unfortunately, all the snow we’ve had during the past two weeks makes outside running seem too risky. The treadmill has always been my alternative to the road, but that’s no longer a viable option. Until we have a thaw or we get a new treadmill, the Sauconys will have to wait.

I’m excited about the Triumphs. They look to be the trainers I’ve been hoping for. My ASIC Kayanos, a similar type of running shoe, have been a disappointment. I can already tell that the Sauconys will provide a greater balance of energy and comfort than the ASICs and I expect that I will like them a lot.

With temperatures expected to stay around freezing this weekend, it looks like my only opportunity to try the Sauconys will be when I’m using the elliptical.

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.

A chilly, windy, wonderful run

Circuitous route

Today’s run (street): 5.6 miles

Yesterday’s steamy treadmill workout reminded me that we’re not quite done with humid days. All I hoped for this morning was clear skies so I could get outside for my run. What I didn’t expect to see were temperatures in the mid 40’s — cold even for early October. Goodbye humidity and hello dry air. I was thrilled.

45° is chilly enough to wear long sleeves, yet warm enough for shorts. Since I’m more concerned about comfort than fashion, that’s the combination that I went with. The stiff wind from the west made things occasionally unpleasant. Changing direction along today’s circuitous route helped to keep things manageable.

Unlike last Sunday’s long run, I didn’t encounter too many oddities along the way. I did notice that the Justice Monkey sign was replaced by a small kick board that someone had hung in its place. Once again, puzzling and strange. I also followed a skateboarder down one of the longer roads. I tried to stay with him, but was never able to catch up. How fast do skateboards go?

I would have liked to do a full six miles this morning, but I needed to get back in time to meet our day’s schedule. Even so, it was great to be outside and running in the crisp fall air. A review of the run data shows that, despite replacing the battery in the foot pod, it didn’t record my cadence. That was disappointing because I tried to work on that and would have liked to see the results. I’ll probably have to re-link the foot pod to my Garmin 210 to make it work again.

Hoka Clifton (top), Saucony Kinvara 5 (bottom)

Today’s run was a nice antidote to yesterday’s treadmill slog and I hope this cooler weather sticks around until next weekend. I’m starting to think about replacing my Virratas and I’m on the fence on whether to stay with a minimal platform (i.e., Kinvara 5) or join the new wave of cushioned running shoes that Hoka started. After running in Hattoris, Kinvaras, Pure Drifts and Virratas over the past four years, I’m open to a change.

Retroactive run

Old faithful – Brooks Adrenalin 10’s

Today’s run (street): 4.5 miles

This morning I was looking at the the spring shoe guide in the March issue of Runners World. I’ve always liked running shoes because they are technically designed and they look cool. Most runners view a new pair of trainers as a reason to get excited about a run, which is why so many new pairs are sold every year.

As I looked at the 2014 models, two trends occurred to me. One was that most manufacturers have moved away from minimal models but are still maintaining the concept of “low drop.” This means that the height difference between the heel and forefoot is typically less than 10.” The other trend is toward super-cushioned running shoes. Models like the Hoka One One have huge out-soles that resemble the old running shoes from the ’80’s and ’90’s.

 

I was an early adopter of minimal running shoes, beginning with the first Kinvaras, followed by the Grid Tangents, Hattoris,  and the Brooks Pure Drifts. Before that, I used to run in conventional shoes, my favorite being the Brooks Adrenalins. The Adrenalins are built to last. I got over 700 running miles out of my GTS-9’s before I switched them to being weekend casual shoes. I had a similar experience with the 10’s. In fact I still wear those every weekend.

After looking at the shoe guide, I wondered what it would be like to take the 10’s out for a run after treating them as sneakers for the last three years. I love my Saucony Virratas, but I felt like a change today and figured the nicely cushioned Brooks would provide a good break. I laced up the 10’s and they felt as good as ever. From the first steps off the driveway, I knew that they’d be fine, despite having over 1,000 miles on them.

I haven’t run outdoors too often this year, so I’m re-acclimating to pavement. The purpose of today’s run was to nudge my comfort beyond the 3 mile base that I’d defaulted to over the past two months. The shoes felt fine, but there is a difference between the 11.1 ounce Adrenalins and the 6.5 ounce Virratas. I don’t know if that extra weight slowed me down compared to yesterday, but something did.

Forgetting that for the moment, I did appreciate the well cushioned feel of the classic Adrenalins. I wondered if there is a happy medium between the two types of shoes. Apparently some of the 2014 models are leaning in that direction. New materials that perform better than EVA are being used, resulting in softer cushioning and lighter weight.

I’m not sure if I’ll include the Adrenalins in my primary shoe rotation, although I see no harm in using them for long easy runs. I’m remembering the foot issues I had when training for the half marathon in 2012, when I’d do 9-12 mile runs on the Bethpage bike trail every weekend. That might be a good way to build up my long base without going through that painful stage again. I also wonder if training in those heavy shoes would give me a performance boost when I return to the lighter Virratas.

A Valentine’s running treat

I heart insoles

Today’s run (treadmill): 3.5 miles

Happy Valentine’s Day. This is a nice holiday because it’s providing a nice diversion from all the cold, ice and snow we’re having. I got some shoveling in today so I can check the cross training box once again. I also ran on the treadmill this morning and can check the running while un-stimulated box. But I did give my feet a Valentine.

A few weeks ago I bought two pairs of gel insoles for my shoes, so my feet wouldn’t end up blistered and sore after a walking around NYC all day. They do a good job compared to regular insoles and I’ve felt much better after covering five or more miles on city streets. My Saucony Kinvaras have about 700 miles on them and they have served as my treadmill shoes for the last 200. The Kinvara 3’s have held up very well, but I think the mid-soles have lost a lot of their support. I decided to try the other pair of insoles for today’s run and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

I was concerned that the gels would be too mushy, but they turned out to be very supportive. My Kinvaras suddenly felt more like my old Adrenalins which provided a nice combination of cushioning and response. The biggest benefit came from lower fatigue in my calves and less strain underfoot. The tedium of the treadmill was somewhat mitigated by this additional comfort. Why hadn’t I tried this before?

Time for a snow bank withdrawal

Today’s weather took a turn for the better and the temperatures finally rose above 32°, allowing some snow to melt. There’s still plenty left and the snowbanks along my driveway remain about 4′ high. I had hoped this would be enough to clear the roads for weekend running, but today’s melt hardly made a dent. Temperatures have dropped again and we’re expecting about three more inches tomorrow. So more treadmilling this weekend. At least my feet will be happy.

Elite sale yields bargain Virrata

New running shoe day. Guess which ones are mine.

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

So far so good on the training front. This morning I went out with expectations of matching my recent pace range and I managed to do that. When I first entered time and distance into the pace calculator, I thought I’d missed the mark. I quickly realized I’d entered the time incorrectly, adding in an extra minute. It turned out that I’d actually exceeded my target and ran today’s distance four seconds per mile faster than yesterday’s.

I assign two factors to these recent gains: a constant focus on pace (via perceived effort, not watching the Garmin’s display) and the continued recruitment of fast twitch fibers in my leg muscles. In other words, I’m thinking about running fast and building fitness. Runners come closest to their potential when racing and an active focus on speed while training does the same thing, to a lesser degree. That’s why I’m not yet achieving sub-9 training runs, but I’m getting closer.

The family went out for a “Next to the last Friday before school starts” lunch and afterward we swung by the Gallery at Westbury Plaza. I wanted to check out Sports Authority’s new SA Elite store that only sells adult size sports apparel and running shoes. I had no intention of buying anything, but they were having a sale, so I checked out the deals.

I’ve been looking for a lightweight running raincoat for a while. My venerable ASICS rain jacket committed zippercide last year and I’ve been on a quest to replace it. SA Elite was light on raincoat options, but they had some genuine bargains in their shoe section.

The store was running a sale, and this was no bottom of the barrel clearance. I did a double-take when I saw a pair of Saucony Virratas priced at $79 with a label next to it saying 20% off as marked. The best price I’ve seen on the web for these shoes has been $78 plus shipping. I asked for a pair in hi-viz yellow, but they only had my size in black. I was disappointed, but I tried them on the treadmill and liked the way they fit.

At the same time, my wife found a pair of ASICS Nimbus-14’s that fit her well and were priced amazingly low with the included discount. I’ve been on her to replace her GEL-2160’s that probably have more than 2,000 running miles on them. I’m serious, you should see them.

I’m thinking about doing a long base run this weekend and a shorter speed workout on the other day. I’m pleased with my progress and excited to be runnning in shoes with less than 500 miles on them. I hope the Virratas feel as good on the road as they did on the treadmill today.

The will is there, but the spirit needs some help

Getting out of the ordinary

Today’s run (street): 3.3 miles

I have definitely reached a point where my running routine has become just that — routine. I was hoping that last Sunday’s race would reset my focus, but I seem to be caught up in a cycle of three to four mile neighborhood runs done with mediocre pacing. I could blame the hot, sticky weather and my seemingly endless bout of coughing and chest congestion to explain my current state of stagnation. I think I need some sort of change to reignite my running excitement.

This morning’s effort was done more of habit than to help reach a specific training goal. While running for the sake of running doesn’t generate a lot of progress, it does have its benefits. Having the will to run, even in the absence of adventure, novelty, stimulation or objective, reinforces overall commitment.   Like so many other runners, I’ve reached the point where lacing up my shoes and going outside is no longer a choice, but a necessity.

So what’s the thing that projects my running beyond the routine? Is it a return to Central Park, a destination race or a new trail location? I don’t know if any one thing will get me there. It could come down to something as simple as a new pair of running shoes. Yesterday I noticed that the combined mileage of my Kinvara 3’s and Pure Drifts (my two main trainers) now totals over a thousand. I’ll admit that my level of excitement was raised when I looked into pricing deals on a new pair of Virratas.

Searching for NAVSTAR and my next running shoes

Today’s run (street): 3.1 miles

Wait time: 8 minutes

We had a late night last night and I didn’t get up until 6:15 AM. That threw me off this morning’s very tight schedule. By the time I went outside, my window for running was only 40 minutes. It was sunny and bright and I was glad to see that the roads were clear and runnable. This was somewhat surprising, since the temperatures were hovering around the freezing mark.

When I started the Garmin it looked like it would acquire a signal right away. Despite the clear skies, it took almost eight minutes before it finally locked in all the NAVSTAR satellites. This narrowed my running window down to 32 minutes. I’d watched the progress bar go almost to full, only to pull back to the middle. I had considered heading back inside to run on the treadmill, but I ended up waiting it out.

I set off on a rapid pace to help ensure that I’d make my minimum distance of three miles. A slight wind made the first half mile a little chilly, but it disappeared at the first turn. I felt fairly strong and figured I could maintain a low 9:00 pace without much trouble. I chose a set of roads that I expected would get me around the neighborhood and back in three miles and I ended up covering 3.14. It was an invigorating run and I made it back home a with a few minutes to spare.

While we were out this afternoon, I had the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about two pairs of running shoes that I’ve wanted to try. I put on a pair of Brooks Pure Drifts that were one-half size up from the ones I’d tested for Brooks. My biggest criticism of the pre-production Drifts was the tightness on my toes on the lateral side. The toe box on the production shoes felt roomier, but I felt some ridging from the mid-sole on that side.

The other pair I tried was the new Saucony Virrata, a zero drop trainer with a surprising amount of cushioning. The shoe reminded me of the original Kinvara, but with even better response on toe-off. The shoes fit perfectly and I wanted to them on the spot. I decided to wait it out a little longer as my Kinvaras still have some life left in them.

Brooks Pure Drift production model
Saucony Virrata with zero drop mid-sole

My verdict on the two was that I’d run in the new Pure Drifts if I had them, but I would still want to compare them further with the NB Minimus, the newest Hattori and, just for fun, the INOV-8 Road X-Treme. The Virrata is another story. It’s not a question of if I’d buy them, only when I’ll do it. I’m hoping that the Kinvaras will last me another 100-150 miles. But if the stability of those shoes changes sooner, I’ll be going Virrata shopping that day.

What’s your running shoe’s medical history?

 

Today’s run (treadmill): 25 minutes

When you go to a medical office for the first time, they usually present you with a clipboard loaded with forms that you have to fill out before you can see the doctor. Among those forms is a checklist for your family medical history. It makes sense since the best way to predict future health problems is to know your areas of risk. I’m applying the same concept in assessing the useful life of my main pair of running shoes.

I’ve always been skeptical about the commonly-held view that trainers should be replaced between 300 and 500 miles. Just as people may carry greater risk for certain illnesses, some shoes and brands seem predisposed to wear out sooner than others. My first pair of running shoes were some Nike Foot Locker specials that only lasted about 400 miles. But I ran in a pair of Brooks Adrenalines for 700 miles before I retired them.

People tell me that they notice when their mid-soles have worn out after a few months. I think it’s all in their head. Unless you are a large person, it’s unlikely that you would significantly compress EVA enough to matter. I’ve come to believe that it’s the out-sole that determines the life of a shoe. When I’ve needed to replace a pair, it’s usually because the wear pattern on the bottom has caused a change in my foot strike.

Of all the running shoes I’ve owned, the pair I’ve liked the most were the original Saucony Kinvaras. Unfortunately I loved them past the point where their out-sole could provide me a stable platform and I ended up with a knee problem. After 466 miles, I took them out of the rotation. I’m currently running in the Kinvara 3’s, a great shoe as well, but I’ve reached 436 miles with them. That’s only 30 miles less than what I got out of the first Kinvaras.

Saucony’s new Virrata looks interesting

So far, I’ve experienced no knee issues when running in the 3’s, but the wear patterns are starting to show. Should I be proactive and replace the 3’s in case they go from good to bad in the next 30 miles? Or should I put faith in the idea that Saucony may have engineered a more robust out-sole in the two generations since the first Kinvara? I’m on the fence about it, but it doesn’t take much to get me back into shoe-buying mode.