Monday, August 29, 2011

My Sort of Transition

Even with as much running as I have done over the years I never had a gait analysis or a proper fitting. I bought what I thought I should which amounted to what looked good and how much it cost. Somehow, with only a couple of setbacks, I had managed to stay injury free. That all changed last fall. I found myself at the local running store, Rush Running in Bentonville. I needed a new pair of whips and a couple of guys I had met suggested I go there. Glad I did. Got a gate analysis and a clear explanation of what I needed. I came in wearing a pair of Brooks Beast and left in a pair of Asics 1150s. Big difference. From a full blown motion control to a mild stability platform. I had my doubts but rolled with it. I haven't looked back. I have since bought Brooks Ravenna, Pearl Iso-Synch, Asics 1160 and Brooks Defyance. All traditional mild stability shoes.
Like many I have read a lot about the minimalist movement. I read Born to Run. And I began to think. What if I tried to transition to the least amount of shoe possible? In baby steps. First, I began doing some runs without my Superfeet inserts. I had been advised to use them when I purchased a pair of trail shoes (on sale, of course) at a one stop sports store that I won't name. I didn't notice any new aches or pains from not using them. So after a while I put them in a box. I guess I don't need them after all. Next I began to wonder about my shoes. Curious how I would feel in a shoe with maybe 4mm of drop. My current skids are all like 12mm. Dropping that much worried me. So I am trying to find something in between. A lighter than normal trainer with less drop. I have looked at the NB890 and Saucony Kinvara but didn't pull the trigger on either. I would have to give an edge to New Balance there but would like to compare the 890 to the 905. Recently I tried on a pair of Brooks ST Racer. Really liked the feel. A lighter weight trainer with some medial posting and a lower heel drop. But the Denver Bronco color combo? I'm a diehard Cowboy fan. But it fits the bill better than anything yet. I will hold off until I get a look and feel of the new Brooks Pure Project line. I have no desire to eventually run in VFFs. I just want to find out how minimalist I can go and still run without aches or pains. If I don't need extra stuff then why use it?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Running Background

I started running in grade school. Why? Because my dad was a runner and like most little boys I wanted to be like my dad. I can remember going on runs of 5 to 8 miles before school. I also played soccer for 15 years so I guess it was in my blood too. I kept it up through high school but seldom raced. In fact I can only recall a few races over several years. I was content just going out and running. In college I discovered beer and running was put on the back burner where it remained for a long time. After school I did some running here and there but nothing consistent. Back in 1999 I got pretty serious for a couple of years but was nagged by injury, the achilles. I trained for a marathon two years in a row and in the closing weeks of training it got me both times. Looking back I imagine it was due to increasing mileage too much too soon and running too fast. Then kids came, more career stuff, medical school for my wife and so forth. A few years ago I began again, running maybe 20 miles a week. Not much but at least it was pretty consistent. It wasn't until we moved back to Northwest Arkansas that it became a priority again. I found it to be such a great escape, a release, a way to maintain sanity. No cell phones, no iPods, no TV, in short, no distractions.
In short order I found a tremendously dedicated and friendly community of runners in the Bentonville area most associated with the Rush Running Team. Running buddies were made, group runs became a regular event, weekly speed workouts, weekend long runs and an introduction to proper trail running. With their help I have completed two marathons in the last year. The first was ugly (Mother Road Joplin Oct. 2010). In the second one I improved by 61 minutes (Cowtown Ft. Worth Feb. 2011). This October many of us are traveling to Minneapolis for the Twin Cities Marathon. I fully expect a significant drop in my PR again. I also completed my first Ultra at the War Eagle Festival this June. A 50k trail race out at Hobbs State Park. If my first marathon was ugly then War Eagle was fugly. Brutal but I finished. Thanks to some great support from those Rush guys. Now I have the endurance bug. The Bass Pro Dogwood Canyon 50k is on the table for this fall as is a Rock Creek 50 miler (Tennessee) in December and the Memphis St. Jude's marathon. However, a torn meniscus will dictate my race schedule for the remainder of the year.
I run now because I like the way it makes me feel. As much as I love group runs and make them a regular part of my routine nothing beats a solo trail run. I love the solitude, the changes in terrain, the sights and sounds. After Twin Cities I plan on dedicating next year to trail running. I would like to see how far I can go and how much I can improve. Call it wanderlust.

Until later...