My Running Shoe Roundup and Why I Shouldn’t Wear Vibrams (But Still Do)

My brother, (who is a rockstar and is about to graduate with a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering – oh my goodness I’m so proud of you BROOO!), recently sent me a text asking:
“What running shoes do you have now?”

I have to admit, I was more than a little psyched to have an opportunity to share my running shoe love with someone, so it took exactly zero seconds for me to start typing away on my iphone and sending him pictures and links.

Ahem.

And I know you haven’t technically asked me for this, but I thought I would share my running shoe roundup, and maybe help someone looking for information or trying to make a purchasing decision!

I will also talk a little about my experience with the Vibram fivefingers – which I love in an irrational way because, well, you’ll find out.

So, here goes:

1- Nike LunarGlide+
I use these shoes for my longer runs. At about 9.7 ounces, they are lightweight, but for me still sturdy enough to hold up and give me support.

When I first bought the Lunarglide+ I was transitioning from even heavier shoes, so I felt like I was flying in them.

Another good thing about the Lunarglide+ is that it has built-in support for the Nike+ system – meaning there’s a little spot where you can put your Nike+ sensor in the shoe and you won’t even feel it there. Good for those times when I am interested in using the system.

Overall I think the Nike Lunarglide+ is a pretty good shoe, but the toe box doesn’t really fit my feet that well. I’ve had shoes that fit my feet a lot better than these do in the front – most probably because I have weird feet, but we’ll talk more about that later.

2- Adidas Adizero Boston
I love these shoes. My typical Adidas shoe for the last few years was the Adidas Supernova Glide, but I saw the Adizero Boston on sale one time (online at my favorite store to buy running shoes + gear, Road Runner Sports, which used to be a 15 minute drive from my house in Sunny Southern California. I stayed loyal even after moving away, because their VIP service is pretty amazing).

Anyway, I have to admit that what initially attracted me to the Adidas Adizero Boston was… the AWESOME color and blue stripes on the side. For some reason really reminded me of Boston, probably because I had some Adidas when I was back in Boston but they were VERY classic Adidas – white with the navy blue stripes on the side. Ah yes. :)

I feel really light running in the Adizero Boston, and I like that. They give me enough support to be able to run on the roads, but doesn’t feel clunky or heavy. They also fit my feet REALLY well, which is a feature of most Adidas that I’ve worn for running.

3- Vibram FiveFingers
My beautiful, misunderstood Vibrams. People are just trying to get to know you better, my lovelies, so don’t take offense!

I wrote a post about what got me interested in barefoot running here, but the summary is that I read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run in early 2010, got crazy obsessed about giving barefoot running a shot, and ended up injuring myself going 7 miles without any preparation. That spells D-U-M-B. And O-U-C-H.

Couldn’t take the stairs to save my life for about 2 weeks, couldn’t walk like a normal person for about 3. Fun times.

Fast forward to 2012, I’m SO MUCH older and wiser, and I decide to take people’s (good) advice and take it easy. I bought these and started out with 1 mile, then 2, then had to do 4 one time because I forgot my other shoes at home (oops!). Things were actually still ok, so I’ve been running in them for about 4 miles at a time since then. (I may have gone 5 or 6 miles one time but never longer.)

I really like how fast I feel I can run in the FiveFingers (ahem, fast to me might be your recovery pace, but hey no judgement here). My calves and even hips feel so much stronger after a good run in the Vibrams (sore = stronger, right?).

The thing with these is:
a) I have only been using them on the treadmill (ew treadmill), mostly out of fear of hitting the asphalt with them and breaking myself.
But this summer is definitely the summer of the Outdoor Vibram Adventure – bring it on!
b) *sigh* Here’s where we talk about my weird feet (and explain why I shouldn’t wear Vibrams). See how nicely the toes are on the Vibrams? How they go from tallest to shortest? So nice and neat.

NOT the case with my toes. There’s a reason I don’t have a picture to prove this to you – I want to make sure we stay friends.

The summary is, my second and even third toes are over-achievers, and they want to be taller and more important than my first toe. Soooo, they aren’t too happy crammed into the nice and neat Vibram toes. But whatever. They like the pain (hence why I keep wearing them), just like me (DON’T YOU, OVER-ACHIEVING WEIRDO TOES? Hmmmmmm?!?!)

I hope this was helpful, and slightly entertaining, especially the last part. Please don’t tell your friends about my toes.

Run wild!

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SLC Half Marathon Round-Up


It’s been a couple of weeks, and the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon is solidly under my belt.

It’s also a distant memory (you guys are like WHY DO I EVEN CARE ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW???), but I promised to summarize the race for you, so here goes.

The SLC Half-Marathon was a great experience, because:

It. Kicked. My. Butt.

Repeatedly during the actual race, then for a few days afterward.

Ouch. My butt and ego have been aptly humbled. And taught a lesson.

I didn’t train well enough, and allowed life (and a bit of arrogance) to come in between myself and sticking to a good training plan. I thought that since I had done 8 or 9 miles a few weeks before the race, I would be fiiiiine.

Did I feel like a super-hero running machine? NO.

Did I feel AMAZING and proud for having gotten it done and for not dropping out, even though I may have considered it for a brief moment (I’m not saying I did, only that I MIGHT have). YOU BETCHA I DID!

I did it, it’s behind me, I didn’t quit, and I have a much greater appreciation for the value of proper training!

When I got home my little man greeted me, eyes as wide as the full moon from last night, asking:
“Mama, did you win your race?!?!”
I looked him in the eye and said,
“Yes, I did.”
“Were you the fastest one?!”
“No, I wasn’t baby, but I finished, and that made me happy.”
“Wow mama. You run good.”
“Thanks sweetie.”
Smiling, he hopped off to continue driving his little brother crazy “BLA BLA BLA BLA BABY ZEEEEE BABY ZEEE, I LOVE YOU LIKE A KOOOKOOO KOOKEEE!”

Taking into account all of the above, I think this medal is well-deserved

 

SLC Half Marathon

This is where I’ll be tomorrow morning:


NOT hitting a PR (personal best).

NOT beating myself up about it.

Focusing on the beauty of connecting to others with a passion for pounding the pavement, and the sense of community that comes from sharing a common goal: To finish.

Wish me luck (and plenty of carbs at the finish line!)

(If you’ve been following my posts since February, you’re familiar with my tumultuous, sometimes painful, persistent, sometimes dramatic, sometimes victorious journey of training for this event.)

Good night!

Barefoot (almost) running milestone

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4:34 a.m.
I stand, bleary-eyed and slightly disoriented, at the edge of the Chosen Treadmill.
Trying to remember how I got here, I think I can hear someone mumbling.
I look up, but the closest person is 6 treadmills, 3 ellipticals, and 4 weight machines away.

I realize, in my break-of-dawn haze, that what I’m hearing is a fight between my own Body and Brain.
So I tune in…

Body: Come on, you know you want to get back into bed! It’s way too early for this!
Brain: No! Must run! We made it all the way here, there’s no turning back now.
Body: But we haaaate the treadmill. It’s so boring.
Let’s go outside! Or back to sleep!
Brain: Negative. Too dark/damp/creepy outside. Suck it up, Body.
Body: But..
Aww come on! Pleeease can we do this another time??
Brain: Start. Running.
Body: But…
Brain: NOW!

And so began the journey of 6 vibram-clad miles – a new mileage milestone for us (us being me, my fivefingers, Body, and Brain).

The gradual mileage buildup approach has really paid off with this venture into barefoot running. No calf or foot pain today, and I think my form has just evolved to better absorb the impact.

Granted, I have only used the vibrams on the treadmill, but I’m hoping to start wearing them outside now that the weather’s getting better.

In other news, I can see the weekend peeking at me from around the corner, and I can’t wait for all that it comes with.

Paradigm shift

April 21st.

A date that seemed sooo faaar awaaaaay when I decided to sign up for what is now going to be renamed 13.1 Miles of Public Humiliation. (A realization I came to after 8 miles on the road this Saturday left me so beat I had to climb the stairs in my house on my hands and knees. WHY IS THE LAUNDRY ROOM AALLLL THE WAY UP THERE??)

The plan was solid: I would increase my mileage over time but obviously exceed expectations and be logging up to 20 miles on the weekends.
I would be breezily and effortlessly completing my training runs during the week, turning into a lean mean running machine.
In my leftover time, I would (obviously) be practicing Mindful Parenting, and would be regularly cranking out yoga poses along with grounded, yogic energy.
Om, not entirely accurate.

A few weeks later and I am probably no fitter than I was when I decided to sign up, but heck, I am definitely a lot more humbled (and maybe realistic!)
After dealing with baby sleep issues, alleged teething, lung/ear infection triple whammy, and other daily comings and goings, I have made peace with a new mindset:

Make it through the day with kindness to yourself and others.

Do your best to reach your goals, but be forgiving if you aren’t able to.

Keep setting goals for yourself so you keep reaching higher, even if you do so at a slower pace than you would have wanted to.

Celebrate the little things.

Remember to take care of you.

Back in the Running I

Dear Running,

I am back.

Froggie

Oddly and unexpectedly, I did not want to take off my Vibrams today. I always thought of them as an experiment, a way to maybe strengthen my calves and feet and see if my running felt any different in them vs. traditional shoes. This morning, I realized that I’m really enjoying how it feels to run in these non-shoe shoes. I feel engaged, present, and totally aware of every step. My whole body is awake, as if monitoring where and how my foot falls and making sure to appropriately distribute the impact.

Today’s Vibram mileage: 4

Saturday 9 miler – Pikermi here I come!

I’m hoping to run my first Pikermi this coming April – after having my 2nd son last June. (Click on the link for more information, but basically a Pikermi = a Half-marathon. I love how the site in the link states “Because 13.1 miles should not be half of anything! Um, H to the ELLS YEAH!)

Go Pikermi-ers!! 

Part of getting over the hurdle of feeling like “Can I really do this? Am I CRAZY?” has been to accomplish a “long run” of more than 7 miles. Things have just been so busy and so crazy that it’s been hard to be able to get out and do any more than that distance.

Saturday, though, was a success! I got in my 9 miles, and it felt glorious.

The best part of the run was about 6.5 miles in, when my body took over and just went on auto-pilot. My hips knew exactly what they needed to do to propel my legs forward, my feet knew exactly how and where to hit the ground, my arms felt strong, and I felt light and in control.

I won’t say the run was effortless, since that is still a ways off, but I felt like I saw a glimmer of the fitter, faster, stronger me out there that morning, and I was happy to see her.

She and I even shared some birthday cake at my 5 year old’s friend’s birthday party later on that day to celebrate.

(Side note: I definitely recommend partaking in kiddie birthday party cake – the sugar high has some kind of numbing effect that takes the edge off of being in the middle of hoardes of screaming, hyper active children. You might even find yourself screaming at the top of your lungs, hair flying around your head, arms flailing away from your body as you jump on the inflatable bouncy-thingies right along with them.. Ahem.) 

Pikermi (Formerly known as Half-marathon), here I come.

When bad runs happen to good people

The following soundtrack is mandatory background music for today’s story. So put on your headphones, click on the link, and go forth!

5:07 a.m. I stand at the very front of the Chosen Treadmill, my body leaning in as I enthusiastically punch my goal workout/numbers/stats into the keypad. I. AM. SPEED. I know exactly what I need to accomplish for today’s workout, it is emblazoned into my subconscious (since I fell asleep memorizing it from the screen of my Nook – handy little bed companion, that Nook… Not like that, stop it now!)

I start my warm-up, raring to go, ready to take full advantage of the stars  being aligned on this particular morning to help make this workout happen. I diligently raise the speed at the pre-set interval to start my pace training, as my brain declares that this will be THE BEST TRAINING RUN EVER. I look down at the display screen, ready to scoff at the speed, ready to declare this “too easy/slow, can’t I crank it up just a little bit more?!”, when I realize that my legs and my brain were definitely NOT on the same page.

I was barely a mile and a half in, and my body wanted to call it quits. I ignore my body and turn up the music  playing in my ears, hoping to get distracted, needing to WIN.

Because any deviation from The Plan would mean failure. Ask any runner and they will tell you (or maybe they won’t, maybe it’s just me) that their biggest fear, a fear that has previously paralyzed me in my Adidas and caused me to park on the couch instead of hit the road, is that they will fail The Run, compromising and threatening the hard-earned title of “Runner”.

Failing The Run comes in the form of failing to complete your planned mileage, failing to run as fast/hard as you had intended to, failing to reach the point where your legs and body feel as though you could gloriously go on and on and run and run and run and look at me I’m flying oh my goodness what are you doing still crawling down there. 

In an attempt to re-create the victory of the last PR, I (and maybe some of you) have turned into a creature of running habit. Energy is spent on cloning the circumstances (to the very last detail) that led to the handful of times when I felt legit, effortless, capable. You memorize what you ate, when you ate it, what you wore, what shoes you ran in, the terrain, the temperature, the time of day, your hydration strategy, and try to re-live that moment of victory, the one that led you to feel worthy of the reflective, fancy, technical, and temperature-proof running gear you adorn yourself with as you head out the door.

5:33 a.m.

No more Rocky music. My body will have no more, and the headache that I’ve accumulated over the measly miles completed so far (probably brought on by jiggling the remnants of the head cold I had a few days ago that filled my head with snot) threatens to leave a hole in the right side of my head. 

I declare defeat, and slowly decrease my speed on the treadmill until the screen says 0.0. I hang my head and shuffle off the machine before it ( or any of my fellow 5 a.m. gym-goers) call me out on my pathetic attempt. I find myself a friendly elliptical trainer and complete my planned workout time, if not running then at least doing something, and head home.

I realize, in the span of time between the start of my 10 – 12 hours of work, driving kids to/from school and daycare, getting them fed, cleaned, and in bed, then making sure their lunch/milk is prepared for the next day before I crash in a heap in my bed, that I have not failed The Run.

I am doing the best I can do with what I have, and that is not failure. That is success.

Also, (just so you’re sure it’s still me here and I haven’t turned into somebody else), tomorrow is Saturday, which is another opportunity at THE BEST RUN EVER OHMAGOD I AM GOING TO KILL IT. 
9 miles here I come.

Training Update

Quick one.

Legs not as sore as I feared they would be, so either:
1) The compression sleeves worked REALLY well after the accelerated Vibram boot camp yesterday, or
2) I am a super-bionic self-healing character in a Japanese animated cartoon show.

I vote #1.

I had planned to do some training at half-marathon pace today, but my legs were just beat, so I turned it into an “easy run” (that wasn’t that easy) day.

Tired Legs

A bit of a rough “recovery” run, but still left me proud to have dragged myself out of bed before 5 a.m. to make it happen.
On the topic of things that might or might not happen, the half-marathon I’m training for is still at jeopardy of even becoming reality. Amid a  big controversy last year regarding race vendors not getting paid, the entire organizational staff of the race resigned. New owners of the race are hopeful they will be able to get it back on track, but there is still a lot to be finalized.

Crossing fingers (and vibram-clad toes!) for you, SLC Marathon! Will keep training in the hopes that this show must go on!

Pain Management

My official, 9-week half-marathon training plan was supposed to be kicked off yesterday with a high-intensity 5.25 mile run that included speed training as well as pace training, and was just going to simply be the best first-run-in-a-training-program anyone has ever had, because WE ONLY DO THINGS ALL THE WAY IN THIS HOUSEHOLD!

Phew. Sorry about the shouting. Things can get a little intense up in here.

So, obviously, since I was supposed to wake up at 4:17 am, Baby Z decides to wake up at 2:30 am, and keep me tethered to his bedroom for an hour, just rocking him and holding him, not wanting to be put down. I forgive him though, because I know he’s been congested and not feeling so great, AND I suspect he might be feeling the push push push of a little tooth trying to break free. (I really hope he gets a tooth soon because that’s the excuse I give him every time I can’t figure out what’s causing the fussiness. “Oh he’s teething.” “Oh, I’m sorry, he’s just teething.” “Oh he was crying? Yeah it’s because he’s teething.” So far, I’m a liar, because not even a little tip of a tooth has peeked out yet.)

Anyway, after much sulking and self-pity, I decide that I will take matters into my own hands, and modify the training plan to start TODAY, and then just cancel out the first rest day to make up for yesterday.

Everything leading up to this morning was perfect. I had a mellow and relaxing night with the boys. They went down before 8:30 pm, I got lunches ready, sat down to relax for a bit, then got myself into bed before 10 pm. I lined up my Vibrams and gym bag next to my iPhone, set the 3 alarms that go off at 4:17, 4:23, and 4:40 (just in case!) with their labels of “JUST DO IT!”, “GET UP YOU LAZY ASS!”, and “HALF. MARATHON.”, and had a great night’s sleep. No babies waking in the middle of the night, not too hot, not too cold, and I woke up ready to tackle the dreadmill!

The plan was to do the first mile of the run in the Vibrams, just to continue getting used to them, then strap on my regular running shoes for the remainder of the run. I strap on the Vibrams, gather my things, and run off to the car to get to the gym.
Perfection! I was on time, rested, READY!

I start running, then as I move my gym  bag out of the way I realize it’s lighter than it should be. Deep breath here… The reason my bag felt lighter than it should was because it was. Because I FORGOT MY OTHER SHOES AT HOME.
I stop myself short of starting to hyperventilate, and tell myself it’s ok. I’ll just work with what I’ve got. We’ll just call this the Accelerated Calf Training Program and roll with it! The show must go on! We can DO this!

I keep going, and made it to 4 miles before deciding that I should really stop before I lose my calves for the rest of the week. As I hobble off the treadmill, I realize that I need to attack this head-on in order to minimize the impact, so I devise a recovery plan that is work-attire friendly.

Here’s a visual breakdown of what went through my head:

+ 4 miles =

 

=================================================================================

Recovery Plan:

R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) =
Sitting at work for the next 10 hours +
Ice later on at home +

+  = RELIEF.

I will happily report, I am wearing those ugly white things (which are actually athletic compression socks) underneath my long boots, sitting at my desk at work, and so far, so good.
The compression REALLY seems to help with the recovery, or at the very least, reducing the amount of soreness and pain (so far!).
And the long boots do the job of disguising the socks, which, let’s be honest, there is just no way to wear white compression socks that is flattering, no matter who you are.

Ok maybe if you’re an elite runner that looks like a cheetah they can be flattering.

Here’s hoping my legs won’t fail me the rest of this week!

Daily Vibram mileage: 4 miles
Total Daily mileage: 4 miles

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