Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Comfortable Pace

While Nicole is working towards transitioning to a 2 arrow shoe, I am sticking with my 238’s until the end of May. After having some funky foot pain from running a bit too far in my F-Lite 230’s before I should have (shhh don’t tell), I took a brief break right at the start of my journey. I want to give myself plenty of time to transition fully and let my knees and feet catch up to the rest of me.

Today, I ran only three miles, but at a quicker pace than most as of late. Although it was a shorter run, the comfort (“comfort” might be an exaggeration) I experienced at a 6.5 on the treadmill or 9:23 mile, which I maintained for most of my run, was…exciting. I can’t believe it felt, dare I say, natural. It didn’t right away, but after a half mile or so, I settled in nicely. I could have easily continued at this pace for a couple more miles, but time got in the way.
According to Runner's World's, my true comfortable pace is when I am not gasping for air and I am at a pace that has my heart rate at 70% of its maximum rate. They recommend being able to take three strides when breathing in, and three more while breathing out. I will have to test this out tomorrow.
For their entire Tempo Running piece, click here
What is your comfortable pace? How long did it take you to get to this point?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Natural Running Transition

I’ve been transitioning over to natural running for about the last seven years. It started at a trail marathon expo back in 2004 where my wife and I met a sales rep from inov-8. We had never heard of this shoe line. Both of us being former running specialty store owners we were skeptical at first of minimalist footwear. I almost walked away from the spiel about their shoes but I’m glad to this day that I stayed around and listened. A year later I was racing for Team inov-8 and I have exclusively trained and raced in inov-8 shoes since that day.

At first mentally this was not an easy process for me. I was a heel striker back then. I have very flat feet and I’m bow legged. I fit the old shoe industry bill to a “T” for stability or even motion controlled types of running shoes, ugh! However I wanted to wear lighter and less supportive foot wear because of the improved feel and edge you get in running fast. At that time I thought I was doomed and relegated to wearing heavy supportive trainers. I was also consistently getting overuse running injuries. So I was quite nervous at first but still willing to try something new to change my chronic cycle of downtime from running.

The transition to natural running for me has been quite long but definitely well worth it. For some runners it does take time for your body mechanics to adjust to running in shoes with less support and much less heel to forefoot drop. I strongly believe that almost any runner can transition over to natural running, if they are careful and patient. Every runner is different and some can transition rather quickly especially if they have good bio-mechanics. While some runners just like me need to be a little more patient and do it slowly. Yes seven years is a long time but definitely worth it. I feel like I’m still somewhat on a journey to the zero drop running shoe one day. I’m comfortable now in a 3-6 mm heel to forefoot drop shoe even for ultra distances. What I am most ecstatic about is I have had far fewer running injuries since my transition to minimalist footwear.

The great thing about the inov-8 line is you have many choices to start you on your journey to natural running. If you are used to supportive running shoes you may need to start at the 9-12 mm heel or 3-4 arrow inov-8 models first. Unfortunately most runners are not all that patient; much like my self but running natural has huge benefits. The main benefit for me has been being healthy and running every day. I am no longer a heel striker, I’m more of a mid-foot to forefoot striker now. If you ever try running barefoot on grass you will tend to land more towards your toes regardless of what you do while wearing running shoes. This is a much more natural way to run. This type of running is so much more efficient since it was the way we were intended to run. In addition you are using less energy to lift shoes that are lighter, something runners should appreciate at any distance.

I feel that inside all of us is a natural more efficient runner. Try letting your feet function the way nature intended without being inhibited by the structure of your footwear. If a cowboy like me can go natural, having the bio-mechanics that mirror a horse rider, so can any runner. 
Thank you inov-8!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Moving On Down...

Transition-wise, this was a big week for me.  Here are the highlights:

1) My monthly orthopedic massage appointment rolled around, and it was the first time I needed the reminder call.  Generally, my back hurts so much by the 4th week that I am counting down the days to my appointment.  It was also the first time I didn't get chastised for the shape my back was in.  After a few minutes of my not flinching at the therapist's every touch, she commented "So you finally stopped running, huh?  I can really tell.  This is the best your back has felt since you started coming here."  She couldn't believe it when I told her I was running more than ever, but had transitioned to a less impactful style of running that was making all the difference. 
2) I comfortably ran every run this week at a 1 minute faster per mile pace than what I'd previously done to this point.
3) My calves don't hurt. At all. 

With this, it looks like it's time for me to hang up my Road-X 238's and go down to the Road-X 233's.  I began running in the 238's in early February, which means it took me right around 12 weeks to comfortably transition into the 9mm drop and get ready for the 6mm differential.  I plan to approach this next step pretty cautiously to make sure I don't undo any of the great progress I've made, but I am looking forward to continuing this journey!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Boston Marathon Experience

I hope everyone was able to catch some of the Boston Marathon in person or at least some news coverage yesterday. I made it down to the finish line (no, not running) to sweat watch the runners for their final moments of the race. It was fascinating to witness them going from full force through the finish line to unable to walk. It is such an amazingly exhausting feat for your body; I can only imagine what your legs must feel like post 26.2. I run 6 miles and my legs are rubber, what does over four times that feel like - past rubber to a pure liquid state?

I was also amazed by the runners I saw just walking around after they finished. They were among us on Newbury trying to grab a bite to eat or shop. I felt like pulling them aside to congratulate them (maybe bow down a bit), but they looked just as determined to get through the crowds as they were to finish the marathon. Where were they going? Why aren’t they sitting and eating? I would plop myself down by the finish line and mow. I mean I-just-ran-for-multiple-hours mow. Last night, I was exhausted from being outside in the sun all day (I know, I know, I am pathetic…I walked a lot too!) that I struggled to get myself to the grocery store where I conveniently saw a marathoner with his number still scrawled down his arm as he limped into the store with the assistance of a friend. I wanted to cry out, “why aren’t you at home sitting on a couch being praised while eating cake?!”
If you ran, what did you do post-race? Any inov-8 runners out there?
Here are some photos from yesterday. I apologize in advance for the sub-par quality - I was not there early enough to get a good photo spot and I was using my cell phone.

Runners fly by on Hereford St. by Newbury as they near the finish line!

This photo suggests I was just focused on the people across the street in the shade, but I promise that someone was about to cross the finish line. 

Congratulations to all of the runners! I hope you are taking a wonderfully desevered break today.

Monday, April 16, 2012

1/6 of a Marathon

With our office closed for Patriot's Day and the Boston Marathon today, I jumped at the chance for a nice run outside.  I knew it was an unseasonably warm day, but in the 8 or so months since I've run in 90 degree weather, I'd forgotten what an effect it can have and couldn't wait to get some sun.

To say I ran below my normal pace would be an understatement.  In fact, to say I ran at all is probably an overstatement.  Here's what I kept telling myself to get me through the stitch in my side (what causes that, by the way?  I can't remember the last time I got a stitch in my side while running) and the heat:

1) Everybody driving by you is trying to figure out whether you're running or walking.  Move it.
2) Thousands of people are running 26.2 miles today.  You're doing 1/6 of that.  Quit your whining.
3) Ooh, Ri-Ra!  I haven't been there in a while! (A woman with a stroller walked by me wearing a Ri-Ra t-shirt, and Ri-Ra just happens to be one of my favorite bars. I think I even smiled briefly at that point.)

With summer right around the corner and my run distances increasing, I want/need to stop running on a treadmill during my lunch break and start waking up early and running outside in the morning.  Problem is, mornings and I don't exactly get along.  Every cheesy coffee cup saying about mornings was written about me.  If any of you morning runners have any advice, I'd love to hear it!

Congratulations to all of the Boston Marathoners! 


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Love-Hate Relationship With the 10% Rule

I have always read that it is best to only increase your runs by 10% each week. Whether it is distance, or speed, you should always gradually build upon your previous weeks' success.

However, I often struggle with this rule. Some days the stars align and I am running like a pro (minus actually running like a pro) – I feel great, I am not bored, the perfect songs are coming up on my ipod, I am maintaining a great pace, and my hair is staying perfectly out of my face. Then, there are other days. You know the ones. It is a perfect storm of badness – I don’t feel like running, my body doesn’t feel great (am I sore? I should definitely sit and watch Real Housewives of who-knows-where…with chocolate), I have nothing new on my ipod, I feel permanently out of breath and my hair is so in my face I fear I may resemble “Cousin It”.

When I have great days, it makes me want to push myself farther than just 10%, because I know they can be rare. However, when I ran in college, I definitely didn’t go at running gradually, and I know my knees will always crunch a little because of it.

Therefore, I am trying my best to stick to the 10% rule!

What are your thoughts on the 10% rule?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Legs v. Lungs

OK, so making the transition to a more natural running style isn't all unicorns and rainbows.  It hurts a bit too. 

In the past, when I've had to stop running it's been because I was out of breath.  This time around, my breathing and heart rate are level, even though I'm running faster (a relative term) than I ever did before.  It's my legs that are holding me back.  My calves get tight and if I go too long, I start to compensate and my form suffers (which my body communicates to me in the form of shin splints). 

Here's the good news: my back feels great.  My chiropractor told me I'd never be able to run without pain.  Yet with my inov-8's and a more natural form, I'm running back pain-free.  And while my calves are sore, my breathing has been so good that I know I've become more efficient in a fairly short amount of time, which is really encouraging.

I know that with time, my calves will get stronger and catch up to my lungs.  To help facilitate that, I'm being diligent about stretching, I'm strength training on my off days, and ice has become my new best friend.  If you have any other tips, I'd love to hear them!


Monday, April 2, 2012

An Outside Run!

This weekend, I ran a lovely three miles OUTSIDE. It felt great to get off of the treadmill and run in the sun! It is amazing how different a run can be outside.

Whenver I ran uphill, I felt like I could achieve the proper form a bit easier, and it was helpful for the rest of my run.

Speaking of form, Nicole and I will most likely be taking a quick video of me running to see what I do, in fact, look like. Depending on how humiliating it is, I will post it for all to see.

Did anyone get outside for a run this weekend?