My favourite running gear – pt1

So I’m going to start a mini series of reviews about the gear I use. As with so many other runners, I obsess over data, but again, as a runner, I obsess over running shoes even more, so I am going to start with my running shoes.

I have been through many shoes in my time as a runner, I used to be a huge fan of Saucony shoes, primarily because they are just so damn comfortable, starting with Saucony guides then moving on to Saucony Freedoms, replacing my shoes roughly every 5 months or so. Last year though, I tried Vibram V-runs, a minimalist pair of running shoes after reading Chris McDougall’s ‘Born to Run’ and being inspired to try something new with the hope that it would improve my running performance. I had bought a pair of Vibrams, some years ago, on a bit of a whim while in the USA on holiday, they never came home with me, there was so much about minimalist running that I didn’t know and I just thought they were bloody painful to wear!

Last year, when I finally had read a lot, learned a lot and taken the decision to buy a pair, I finally got the Vibram 5 Fingers V-Running shoes:-

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I needed about a month to adapt to running in minimalist shoes.

It hurt.

A lot.

I have done an earlier post on the adaptation process I experienced, might be useful for you if you are considering it! But suffice to say, do not rush this, it is not worth it.

So, what do I think about these shoes, that I have been running in 3-5 times a week for around 13 months now? Well, let’s explore!

Lets first think about value for money (I can be a bit flinty!). When I purchased these they cost £120, not an unusual price for a good pair of running shoes, a pair of Saucony Freedom 3 shoes could set you back £140, so not a lot in it. I also needed to buy a couple of pairs of Injinji toe socks so that more than made up the difference. The big difference I am going to shout about is that with my Saucony shoes, I would have to replace them frequently because they wear out and manufacturers recommend replacement (my cynic is shouting “well of course they do you idiot!!”), oh, and this is not just Saucony, this is every running show I have ever worn. I have historically replaced my running shoes around 3-400 miles, mostly because they look more knackered than me, but with my Vibrams, I am currently at 736 miles and they are going strong, just starting to show a little wear on the soles but not of concern. The reason for this of course is that in (lets call them) ‘normal’ running shoes, you have a layer of foam or gel or whatever to cushion your heel strike, obviously this wears out and you can end up causing more harm than good to your body and your running technique. With Vibrams there is ZERO cushion from the start, so it can’t wear out and you adapt to running in a way your were ‘Born to Run’, ie without a heel strike.

From a styling perspective, lets just say that these are fairly unique! I usually get comments from other runners (or at least used to when running together was ok at places like ParkRun) asking how they are and do they make me faster (I’ll come back to that) also sometimes a little banter about looking like I have gorilla feet lol. But to me they are functional and work perfectly.

The quality of the shoe is undeniable, well stitched, machine washable and they dry quickly, I have absolutely no issues with their quality.

The effects of using these shoes for over a year now is interesting. The first thing I notice is more flexibility in my feet, particularly my toes, (not so much one of my big toes because I recently broke that, not running!) I can flex my toes much more than before and have far greater individual control of each toe. I had heard this before starting using minimalist shoes but disregarded it thinking it was hokum, but its true! I also notice far greater muscle definition of my calves, which makes sense seeing that you end up using your tendons and muscles as springs when running in shoes like this. But I guess the burning question from many runners is, do they make you faster, and I have to say, no, if anything, I am slower. I don’t know if that is down to the shoes, my training plan, age, beer etc, maybe a combination of all of these but I am slower than I used to be, but I’m ok with that. So, don’t expect to put these on and get magically faster, they simply make you run the way your body is meant to, without any carbon aids or springy foamy gel stuff. If you stick with the shoes, you will become a forefoot striker, widely recognised as the best way for a distance runner, other than that and the incidentals I noted above there is no other benefits to minimalist running that I can see. That said, these are great benefits, from just a shoe!

In a nutshell, I love these shoes and run in nothing else except a pair of Vibram V-Trails which I use if I know I am going trail running. I did, one day, try running in my Saucony’s (which I now use around the house) but they felt awful, unnatural, heavy and cumbersome. I had to stop and get my Vibrams, so I guess that proves it for me!

So, next up for my reviews will be clothes, giving you my views of the tops, shorts and underwear I use 🙂

 

Longest run in 3 years

Today’s run was long, for me anyway!

A 14 mile run, twice around a 7 mile loop which takes me passed my house. Going passed my house was hard, starting the second loop was a little emotional to be honest!

The run was a power zone 2 run so was intentionally slow, which from a power perspective is ok but oh lord it took so long at nearly 3 hours, it seemed a very long time to be running so slowly. You can see below I had regular stops for water and Trail-butter which I love, along with a couple of extra traffic stops as this was all road running.

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I have also blasted my weekly mileage goal, which is set at 20 miles a week in order to hit 1000 miles in 2020, this week having hit over 33 miles, putting me 34 miles ahead at this point for the year. Bearing in mind my wife is due our second baby in 12 days, I need to get ahead if I want to ensure I meet that target, obviously, it is far more important that I support my wife than meeting the goal, but it would be nice to do both.

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So as you can see above, slow, but done! Whore hey (Jorge) was kind to me and it stayed dry, if a bit windy. At around 9.5 miles, I nearly bailed, strangely, I started feely fuzzy headed and could not focus for some reason. I was not sure what was happening as I have run further than this before with no problems and had been taking plenty of fluids and nutrition. I decided to carry on running and see what happened, knowing my wife would be unlikely to come and pick me up anyway as she was out (also with baby 12 days away, I wouldn’t blame her for not wanting to come searching for me lol). So I trudged on and if you look carefully at the charts from Stryd you will see that my power output went all over the place at around 10 miles, which was me basically battling this fuzzy headedness. At around 11.5 miles I started feeling fine, but it was a real battle during this time. This is something I am going to have to investigate because, it felt like I was bonking, so maybe my nutrition was not at the right levels for a run of this length on an empty stomach.

 

 

 

Slower than a slow thing having a slow day in slow town

Today I was slower than a tortoise in treacle

But I’m ok with that.

Today was a 1 hour zone 2 run, simple, straightforward, nothing fancy. It was a good time to chat with my friend about work and understand more of the politics going on at work while having a nice relaxing run at very low effort.

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We didn’t run far or fast, which was exactly what we had planned. I stayed in mid zone 2, did not break a sweat or get out of breath at all. Slow. Yes, indeed, but I was ok with that because that is what I am supposed to be doing. Running like this brings the joy back to running again which I love, but also it allows me to spend an hour with a friend just talking stuff through, I think we both find that beneficial to be honest.

Screenshot 2020 02 29 at 19 36 53You can see here that I am diligently following my plan, tomorrow is a long run (well, long enough for me at 14 miles). I have a nice 2 loop local route planned and I am hoping that storm Jorge (whorehay!!!??? WTF!! LOL!) won’t hit too hard in the morning and the run will be a comfortable one. Whatever happens, you can be assured that I will complete my target, worst case scenario I might have to run on the treadmill. I don’t mind a treadmill run but for this distance, I am going to struggle with boredom I think, which then means I will end up focussing on the pain. So hopefully, whorehay will be kind!

Screenshot 2020 02 29 at 19 58 08As you can see from my PMC I am now slightly fitter than I was 2 years ago when I ran the London Big Half, which is encouraging because I don’t feel like I have had to train particularly hard to get back to a fitness level where the thought of running 14 miles tomorrow does not phase me, in fact, I’m looking forward to it.

I have found that forcing myself to slow down while running has allowed my body to adapt faster. I am definitely losing weight, at some point I might have to change the name of the blog, but hold on, let’s not get carried away lol! People are noticing my weight loss and my clothes are getting looser, so the 80/20 plan I am following is doing all the right things!

2 social soulless sociopaths bound together in a friendless world

So this post is nothing about 2 social soulless sociopaths bound together in a friendless world, I just heard that phrase recently and it made me laugh, thought maybe it would share a smile!

Today was a rest day so I am feeling fat and heavy, hold on, I am fat and heavy(!), well, more than normal! I have been sat at my computer fathoming out spreadsheets for work all day and cajoling people into doing what they are paid to do, but hey ho, I’m paid too!

The rest day is an odd beast, the night before, I look forward to not having to get up early and going out in the rain. Then I wake up early, get up and look out the window, wanting to run! I then proceed to slouch around all day and hardly move.

Normally I take about 13000 steps a day, on a rest day, it’s more like 3000 steps and I really feel the difference.

Anyway, Just a short note tonight to have a grumble about inactivity, looking forward to my run with a friend in the morning!

My Stryd wind pod says I’m balancing my running stress and recovery and my TrainingPeaks PMC says I’m getting fitter (blue shaded area), in fact, fitter than I have been for over a year now so I will trust the data!

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