Tomorrow, June 21 is officially the first day of Summer…but the temps in June so far have definitely gotten ahead of the game! It’s been a hot and humid month so far, which while not surprising sure makes me glad I’m not in the middle of 50k training right now. I’m also well into my Summer of Experiments!
As I mentioned in my post two weeks ago, I postponed my 50k attempt in an effort to work on what seems to be chronic shin issues. I decided it was time to change some things and have been working on my form with the help of the Vibram Five Finger KSOs.
Before I bought the ‘feeties’ as I like to call them, I did a lot of research on why these help better form and what the best way to use them were. Each resource I went to reiterated the same thing..build miles slowly so your feet and legs can adapt to the new form. Its been about two and half weeks since I bought them. The first 2 days were just walking after which I added 0.5mi every other day and built up to a 1.5mi run on paved trails as of this last weekend. The best part so far…NO SHIN PAIN!!! I couldn’t even remember the last time I went 1.5mi on paved with no shin pain…its totally wonderful!! I can definitely feel it working my lower legs muscles and feet more, but so far no major pain or stiffness. I think part of that is because my lower legs have gotten somewhat stronger this last year with trail running and therefore have held up pretty well to this new experience. I’m also working more on stretching and strengthening calf muscles and making sure I foam roll after these runs. I definitely notice the difference in form as there is no heel striking. I run mostly forefoot/midfoot on these and have obviously reduced the strain on my shins. I’ve noticed I can actually run a little faster pace as well, although I’m being conservative and only focusing on building some steady, pain free miles in them and not on speed at this time. I hope that I can add on another 0.5mi this week and by the time I get back into training early July be at 3mi Vibram run.
While working on my form with the help of the Vibrams, I have been researching some new shoes as well. It’s unlikely that I will be doing all my running in Vibrams, so I wanted to find a pair of road and trail shoes that will help me work and keep my form as well. After looking around and talking to several people, I went with Sauconys. I got them from Road Runner Sports as they have the 90-day Wear’em and Love’em Guarantee for VIP members. Totally worth the extra $1.99 I paid for this year to get that peace of mind, discounts and free shipping!! I got a heck of deal on them, love it! After a lot of review and blog reading, I went with the light as air, Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 2 (picture on screen left) and the ProGrid Peregrines (picture on screen right and Runners World Editor’s Choice Shoe).
The Peregrines are backordered and should come in later this week. The Kinvara’s however arrived last Thursday. Since it was raining pretty much all day Thursday, I waited until Friday evening to take these out for their first run. I met Allison and we went out for a 1.5mil loop out on the Sprint campus. All paved with a few rolling hills mixed in for good measure. Allison in her Vibram KSOs and me in my new Kinvara’s. The first thing I notice right off is how light they are. The site states they are 6.8oz for a Women’s size 8, so guessing my size 9 is about the same which puts it about 3oz lighter than my current Mizuno pair. While running, my feet felt light and I could tell I was doing more of a forefoot to midfoot strike similar to the Vibrams. Except right now, the bottom of my feet had more cushioning than the Vibrams. The Kinvara’s have a 4mm difference between the heel and forefoot when compared to the 12mm on most shoes and this seems to be the key in helping reduce heel striking. Regardless of or due to all that, 1.5mi run loop and 1.5mi walk loop later NO SHIN PAIN!! We could both definitely feel it in our calf muscles, but that was likely because we finally hit the pavement and one with some nice rolling hills. The calf muscles were getting a good workout. Good news is no unusual soreness the next day. I had two back to back days of 1.5mi in Vibrams on paved and 1.5mi with the Kinvaras on paved and no major pains or soreness…especially on the shins!! That seemed like step forward to me :)
While the next few weeks and miles run will tell me if this experiment is a success or not, I’m very pleased with my Vibram runs and my first run in the Kinvaras so far. I think they are good tools in my road to better form and have given me some hope for being able to run without chronic pains. Hopefully I will be able to get some miles in with the Peregrines soon as well for an all around comparison. The trails will be interesting as they will need to be pretty rugged while being light. More to follow on that.
My hope is that I am able to rotate between the Vibrams and the Saucony’s on road and trail to build miles towards some fall races races I have my sights set on. Time and miles will tell I guess…Stay Tuned!
P.S. If you are wondering, I’ve finished Week 2 of the 100 Pushup Challenge and have worked up to total of 60 with 60sec breaks in the middle :) So far my Summer experiments are going pretty darn well…here’s hoping for continued strength and pain free running!!