The Great Cushion DebateWhen I started running just over 4 years ago I was clueless. The first month or two I ran with what I had - a pair of shorts last worn in the 1970's and trainers pulled from the back of my wardrobe. That was until my running buddy Adrian turned up one day with "real running shoes" that he had got in John Buckleys, the local running store. Suddenly I felt disadvantaged, I wasn't using the right gear, my feet, knees and hips were on the rocky road to destruction and so before long I was sporting a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus that John Buckley himself advised me were best for my high arches and neutral gait. I felt much better - at least now I looked like I knew what I was doing. The Gel Nimbus has been a staple of my wardrobe ever since - a necessity even if they did cost €120 (with the 10% discount). I changed to a pair of Saucony Triumph 5's once after a free gait analysis - still the same shoe though - "Neutral Cushioning" - my type, my passport to injury free running, no matter where I was in the world the "Neutral Cushioning" shoe was my shoe.
In the intervening years the rest of my running wardrobe changed as I became familiar with terms such as "moisture wicking", "anti-chafing", "compression", "breatheable" etc.etc. anything that I felt would give me an edge. But I digress........ Over the last 4 years Asics has served me well and caused no problems that I know of. Not that I didn't get injured - just that my injuries were primarily muscle tears/strains which I put down to overtraining - my joints were fine and I have no long term niggles. Nevertheless I experimented with a pair of minimalist shoes 2 years ago, because I had read about them in Matt Fitzgerald's "Brain Training for Runners" and he recommended them for those plagued with injury. While I didn't fit into that category I fitted into the other category of "I'll try anything once" and I must say they felt great and while they take time to get used to (about ten minutes;) the feeling of freedom is worth the struggle of getting the toes into their right home. Having said that I didn't cross the chasm and abandon cushioned running, in fact I stuck with the old familiar and only pulled out the "Vibrams" for short recovery "fun" runs which were few and far between. Over the last 3 months I have started another experiment of one by introducing a cheap pair of runners from Lidl (I think they cost €13) into my training runs. Over the months this pair of runners has slowly taken over from the Asics as the shoe of choice for all my runs. Initially my feet would have felt more uncomfortable in the Lidl shoes (weaning off the cushions perhaps) and I would have just used them for short outings, but gradually they began to feel more comfortable as they began to mould themselves around my feet, something that the more cushioned shoes take much longer to do - usually about the time you tend to throw them out (600+ miles). I used the Asics for the first time in a few weeks for a short recovery run on Monday and certainly noticed a very spongy feeling under feet (and my heels in particular). I'm less inclined to use them now but still feel apprehensive about what my next "new" pair of shoes should be - were the Lidi shoes a once off or should I try an equally "cheap" pair of shoes and see how it goes? I think I've proven that I don't need all that cushion under my feet as all my long runs of the past month, even the 33 mile beast, have been in the Lidl shoes, which now have 440 miles up on them (compared to the 205 on the Asics - what a waste if I don't use up the remaining 400 odd miles - see I'm still in 600 mile expiry date mode). This thread is not going to draw any conclusions as the one thing I have learnt from running is not to draw conclusions and leave the mind open to all possibilities, which forms part of the joy of running for me. The whole minimalist running thing has been fueled by the book I am currently reading "Born to Run" - the story of the Tarahumara tribe from the copper canyons of Mexico who are natural barefoot runners who think nothing of running for days on end as they appear to love the act of running.I read a post recently on "what you shouldn't buy at Lidl" and running shoes were second only to condoms - didn't know I was living that close to the edge. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What Have I Been Doing
The last two weeks have see me do more of the same - in and around 60 miles a week. Going Long - My long runs have been a bit all over the place with a 21 miler the week after my 33 miler and back to back 16 milers last weekend. Today I had planned on a 20 miler but a dodgy gut cut that back to 18. As I plan on running a 4 mile race tomorrow there'll be no back to back long runs this weekend. Going Fast - My mile sessions at the track never got back to the pre-christmas 6 minute pace. However the 6:20 miles were at reduced recoveries of 2 minutes with 4 last week and 5 in the pouring rain this week (the last 2 were on my own) - My endurance appears to be good as I did not struggle with the 5 reps and felt I could have went on. Therefore I need to increase the pace towards 6:00 miles to get the desired training benefit. I headed back to the track for a second time on Thursday to get in 4 tempo miles @ about 6:30 pace if I could manage it. I had initially planned on 2 x 2 as I had not done a tempo session for some time and was unsure of my speed/endurance ability. However I managed to sustain the effort over the full 4 miles, averaging 6:30 pace - each 1,600m was faster than the previous one and overall I was happy with the effort as at times I felt like quitting - 6:35/30/25/20 (25:50 for 3.98 miles). Hopefully I'll better that time tomorrow. Going Slow - I'm not very good at going slow although I did have a recovery run at 9:18 pace last Monday evening through the fog, rain and rush hour traffic of Douglas while waiting for Safan to finish her Guitar lesson. Miserable run when you have to compete with so many other road users. I think i'll have to don the Vibrams for some slow easy fun training runs.
No Going - I had one down day on Thursday last week as I was recovering from a head cold and as Friday is my day of rest the cold was well an truly gone for saturday's run.Sun 10th Jan 21.13 miles @ 8:30 pace @ 128HR (Hilly long run) Base/Training Week #7 - 60.97 miles Mon 11th Jan - 5 miles @ 7:52 pace - Treadmill + 5.45 @ 7:21 pace @ 140HR Tue 12th Jan - 7.21 miles @ 8:02 pace & 134HR (with 4 x 6:20 miles & 2 min rec) Wed 13th Jan - 8.66 miles @ 8:06 pace & 125HR + 2.5 miles treadmill Sat 16th Jan - 16.2 miles @ 7:53 pace & 138HR - last 5 miles @ 7:02 pace avg Sun 17th Jan - 16.81 miles @ 7:19 pace @ 143HR Base/Training Week #8 - 61.83 miles Mon 18th Jan - 4;34 miles @9:18 pace & 113HR - Recovery Tue 19th Jan - 7.84 miles @ 8:19 pace & 146HR (Track with 5 x 6:20 miles & 2 min rec) Wed 20th Jan - 11;51 miles @7:55 pace & 126HR + 2.5 miles treadmill Thur 21st Jan - 7.69 miles @7:38 pace & 137HR (Track tempo run with 4 miles @ 6:30 pace) Sat 23rd Jan - 18.19 miles @ 8:09 pace & 130HR.