Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shoe Fetish

My shoe closet

Since my cameras battery was dead I don't have a video this week.  Don't know if anybody cares, but it was getting to be a habit.  I'll most likely get back to that next week.  Instead, I've decided to write a little bit about my shoe problem.  My weekly recap is at the bottom as usual.

I have a shoe problem.  In the never ending quest to find the perfect shoe I have amassed quite a collection.  I still haven't figured out that such a thing probably doesn't exist, so I keep buying and trying new shoes hoping to find a shoe that can do the following.  I want a shoe to be cushioned, less than 4mm heel rise (preferably zero drop) flexible, lightweight, comfortable, drains well and doesn't cause any blisters over the course of 100 miles.  Recently I contacted a new company, Altra who has a very promising line of shoes that should be in stores soon.  The person who answered my emails is one of the founders, Brian Beckstead.  I asked him about his shoes and told him about my 5 in 5 (5 hundred mile races in 5 months) quest.  Not only is he a founder, but he is an ultrarunner who has successfully completed a few 100's, including the tough Wasatch.  He offered to sponsor me with their shoes and I'm super excited to try them to see if I can finally settle on one shoe.  Their shoes are all zero drop, but the have models that have similar cushioning to regular running shoes.  I should have a pair in a few weeks and I can't wait!

With that in mind, here is a quick preview of the shoes that I have used in just the past week, and why I was wearing that particular pair.

Merrell Trail Glove

These are the new Merrell Trail Gloves.  I was excited about the NB minimus until these came out.  They are the best zero drop minimal shoes I have ever used.  They have taken place of my Vibram Five Fingers because they have a similar feel but have tons of room for my toes to splay.  They also fit like a glove, have no internal seams and cinch up tight.  The fit and feel is amazing with these shoes.

Saucony Progrid Kinvarna

I use the Kinvarnas for running on pavement or the treadmill.  They have a 4mm heel rise and the souls have a nice spongy feeling.  The only downside to these shoes is that the toe box is very narrow.  I don't use the insoles in these shoes to get more toe room.

Hoka One-One

Of all my shoes, these are the ones that are radically different.  I bought a pair of the Hoka One-Ones because there are several ultra runners who are reporting massive PR's in 100 mile races using them.  The claim is that the gigantic (3 times the normal amount) of padding allows the runner to run with less fatigue.  They actually run like a minimalist shoe in that the heel is only 4mm above the forefoot and the toe is rockered.  If you run with a mid/forefoot stride you will instantly be able to run in these, but when you come to a downhill you can crash your heel into the ground as much as you want.  I really do feel a difference using these shoes on pavement.  My big problem with these shoes is the uppers.  They are riddled with gigantic seams and they are stiff and uncomfortable.  So much so that I am contemplating cutting the uppers off and attaching the souls to a pair of other shoes.  They just came out with a new model called the Bondi B that is supposed to have a much nicer upper.  The only problem is that these shoes cost a whopping $170!!  I'm not sure I feel like shelling out that kind of cash just to find out that they give me blisters.

New Balance MT101

The NB MT101's are a great compromise between a minimal shoe and one that has some protection.  They are very light weight, fit well, drain well and have better protection that you would think due to the full length rock plate.  I wish that the heel was lower and thats what prevents me from wearing them more.  I used them today on a 20 mile run on snowmobile trails the consistency of mashed potatoes and they were great.

Innov-8 Flite 230

When I first bought these shoes I almost returned them after the first run.  The toes are shaped kind of funny and stick out a lot.  They are wicked comfortable, have great cushioning (for a minimalist shoe) and look cool in the electric blue.  I just kept tripping in them so they sat in my closet.  Recently I decided to give them another try and for whatever reason they have become my regular long run shoe.  Maybe my toes have gotten longer (God forbid, they already look like fingers..).

As you can see from the opening picture I have a lot more shoes than just what I've gone over here, but this hopefully gives you an idea of just how much experimentation goes into figuring out equipment for running a 100 miler.  Granted, I'm a little nuttier than most.  A few months ago I was invited to participate in a focus group for New Balance.  They asked a few local Ultrarunners to come to the HQ with the shoes that they run in and tell them why.  I brought four pairs of shoes and thought I was going to be the dork with all the shoes.  It turned out that every single runner brought at least four pairs as well!  It was pretty funny and made me feel a little less neurotic.

Here is my weekly summary for this weeks running.

Weekly recap
Monday AM - 7 Miles (59:12). Easy 7 Miles on the treadmill

Tuesday AM - 8.1Miles (1:14:56).  Also strength trained for 45 minutes.  Did full workout.
Snowmobile trails.  Notes say: "Trails were tough this morning. Icy crust on top of some softer snow in places. Beautiful morning though. Starting to feel stiff, but loosens up after a mile or two".

Wednesday - 18.1 Miles (2:39:23)
Some roads, mostly snowmobile trails.  I thought my training schedule said 16 miles and I added an extra two.  Turns out I was only supposed to run 14.  Ran in my new Merrell Trail Gloves. 

Thursday - 7.2 Miles (59:08)
Hill intervals on the snowmobile trails.  Did 4 repeats.  Hard up, hard down then 1min rest.

Friday - 10 Miles (1:25:48)
Treadmill easy running at 8:30 pace. More watching "Weeds" on Netflix. My notes say "Very tired this morning so I gave myself a break and only did 10 instead if the 13."  Coach Jack emailed later and said no wonder I was tired, stop sneaking in the extra miles.

Saturday - 10.25 Miles (1:26:35)
Ran in the Hokas. A little weird, but were awesome on the downhills. I ran mostly roads, but hilly ones.  To bad the uppers are so stiff and have so many seams.  I ended up with a blood blister on the side of my foot. 

Sunday - 20 Miles (2:53:12)
Great run. I didn't feel like running this morning. I didn't sleep last night and have a little cold. Felt really run down when i woke up, but as soon as I got outside I felt great. Ran 4 miles of roads to get to an entirely new section of snowmobile trails. Ran 12 miles out on trails that were a combo of glare ice and mash potatoes. I didn't bring my traction devices and I was slipping and sliding with every step. Ran the last 4 miles home in 28 min flat and felt great considering that it is hilly. Another 80 mile week in the books and I feel pretty good.

80.6 Miles
11:38 Hours running
45 min strength training

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