Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shoe crisis

I'm afraid that I'm about to have a shoe crisis. See, I got into running just before the whole minimalist deal starting getting legs. I read about it, gave it a shot, and what do you know, I liked it. I'm not one of those, "I used to get injured every time I ran in my 'normal' trainers, switched to VFFs, and now I'm setting world records in Huaraches!" minimalist success stories. I've never been injured, so I didn't really have anything to magically be fixed overnight when I made the switch. I just like running in light, flexible, low profile shoes with enough ground feel that I don't feel like my feet have gone numb.

It's been in the news for a while now that sales of minimalist running shoes are drying up. Shoe manufacturers have to make money. They have to make shoes that they can sell. If minimalist shoes aren't selling, then that's not what they're going to make or market. It's no secret that I have an affinity for Merrell's Barefoot line of shoes. The original Road Glove is my favorite running shoe of all time. I was eager to try the Road Glove 2 and gave it a fair shot, but ultimately was disappointed in them as a running shoe (although I think they do look cool and work great for casual use). It felt like Merrell had reacted and maybe over corrected a bit for my preferences. The follow ups were thicker, firmer and felt like they were resisting my feet and legs more than working with them.

Perhaps I'm overreacting a bit myself. This is only one shoe from one brand. There are still plenty of other brands that market themselves as minimal, and there are definitely plenty of options to be had for all kinds of tastes and needs in running shoes. However, more and more I'm seeing words like "protection" and "support" not to mention larger stack heights than I'm used to seeing in marketing materials in places I didn't expect it. My shoes had just the right amount of cushion, protection, and material under foot before. Please keep making them.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 in Retrospect

2013 may go down as the year where my training to racing ratio was the most unbalanced towards training. The last race I ran was a 10K in February. Yep, that's nearly a year ago. I honestly didn't realize that it had been that long until I typed those words just now. We went through a few too many life changes this year to piece together anything close to a regular training schedule. I just can't bring myself to wake up early any given morning, Google for a local event with race day registration, and then run it. I have to fight for a good night's sleep and against stress on the starting line enough as it is. Entering a race without training specifically for it (or as part of a build up to another race) just isn't the way that I like to go about it.
That's me at about the halfway point of my last race

You're right: it's really not that big of deal. It's not like running is my job, and since no one knows me at the races anyway, no one even expects me to run fast. I even really prefer to wing it a lot of the time in my life, but when it comes to racing, I probably take it a little too seriously for the level of runner that I am. Still, I wouldn't say that this has been a bad year for my running.

While I may not have raced, I did run quite a bit. My paces haven't been what they were along that flat Pennsylvania levee, and a lot of it wasn't a formal workout. Don't tell them that I said this, but I've actually come to enjoy these mountain roads (except for on speed work days, still working on that one). Hills used to be a big problem. Now, at least normal sized ones just aren't. I topped 1,111 miles for the year. I didn't have a stated goal for this, but it has inspired me to set one for 2014: 1,500 miles (roughly 29 miles a week).

I found a group of guys to run with as many as three times a week, something that I didn't really think I cared about until a few months into it. I've also come to really appreciate exploring a good trail, which we seem to have buckets of around here, thankfully. Besides getting acquainted with my new, and now usual routes, I got to run in San Francisco and got a taste for what it's like to be a city runner (not as bad as I imagined, actually). I also won (yes, outright won) a 5K back in February. It's a fun story that maybe I'll tell sometime, but in short, it was cold, snowy, and the race had a low turnout, of course.

Anyway, here's looking forward to 2014.