Posts Tagged ‘minimalist shoes’

My latest running gear purchase arrived on Friday: a pair of Skechers GOrun. Like many, I was very skeptical of purchasing a ‘serious’ running shoe from Skechers, a brand more commonly associated with fashion, casual and lifestyle shoes.  After having read several very positive reviews from online resources that I respect, however, I decided that the GOruns would make the short list of potential future purchases.

I was debating between the GOruns and a pair of either Brooks PureFlow or PureConnects. My final decision was based on the following two factors: I have read reviews of the Brooks from online retailers, running magazines and retailers like Running Warehouse and Amazon. The reviews I read regarding the Skechers GOruns included several semi-pro runners, coaches, and enthusiasts so I felt I was getting slightly more personal feedback.  Reason number two, to be completely honest, was simply price. I have already invested a lot of money (for me) in this experiment and an opportunity presented itself where I could purchase the Skechers for about $30 less than either Brooks model. Done deal.

Maybe you’re wondering why I needed or wanted another pair of shoes if I’ve already made a few purchases. Especially if I want to save a few dollars, the easiest way is just not buy anything!  True enough.  I rotate several pair of shoes during my weekly runs, which include the Reebok RealFlex, Inov-8 Road-X 233, and Inov-8 F-Lite 195.  Each pair has its pros and cons, the Reeboks serve as an everyday casual shoe, as well as pulling duty on many of my longer runs where their extra cushioning is appreciated.  Having said that, I can at times feel a little lost in the Reeboks, my foot moving a little too much as the foam compresses and rebounds. The Inov-8 F-Lite 195 are my most extreme minimalist shoe, giving me immediate, unbiased, and unforgiving feedback.  I use them now mostly for my shorter, recovery runs, 5ks and also for cross training. My favorite shoe of the bunch is the Road-X 233. Minimal but not extreme. Flexible but with a little stiffness in the sole that I appreciate when pushing the pace or trying for a few extra miles.

The GOruns are just enough of what you need without anything more.  They are the perfect shoe to slide into place between the softer ride of the Reeboks and the precision handling of the Road-X 233s.  The uppers are incredibly light and with a roomy toe box the shoe almost feels like you are wearing a sock with a sole underneath.  The sole of the shoe is slightly curved, with a cut away or ‘missing’ heel.  When you stand tall, erect and with your feet close together you can actually fall backwards with the slightest lean since there is no heel to stop the momentum. This design also really seems to guide your foot into a mid-foot or forefoot landing, compared to other minimalist shoes that are still all too easy to heel strike in, if you are determined to do so.

Today was my first run in the blue and grey pebble crushers and I can say without reservation; all systems go.  I ran a 1 mile warmup, followed by 2 x 800 @ half marathon pace with 800 recoveries, 2 x 400 @ 10k pace with 400 recoveries, and wrapped things up with the run home of approximately three quarters of a mile.  No hot spots, no friction, just nice, care-free propulsion and landing without anything interfering with my perception of the foot strike and heel pull.

If you’re in the market for a light weight trainer or racing shoe, give the GOruns a spin. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

P.S. I purchase many running shoes one half size larger than normal to allow my toes to spread out, as well as accommodate any swelling that might take place during long, hard runs. The toe box on the Skechers is generous enough that I did not find this necessary and have a great fit with my normal shoe size.

 

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Small Changes Keep You Healthy

A detailed training log for the week is here.

Running seems so simple, and I guess it can be. Just lace up your shoes, or not, if you’re the barefoot type, and head out the door.

One danger we face, however, is running the same mileage and pace over the same surfaces while wearing the same shoes. Just so we can cross the workout off of the ‘must-do’ list.

Pretty. But not what I want to face everyday.

I live in suburban San Jose, Costa Rica and there isn’t a single road in my immediate neighborhood that stretches more than about three quarters of a mile before turning into a giant hill or series of hills, that don’t necessarily lend themselves to fulfilling every day’s training plan.

While I appreciate the benefits of running rolling hills, it’s not something I want to do on every run. So I run only the (relatively) flat sections of my local neighborhood, basically making a turn anytime I come to the foot of a hill that’s large enough to represent a significant change in the training stimulus.

The risk I run (no pun intended) with this technique is traveling over the exact same portion of road and running surface on every run, every week.  The body needs different stimulus in order to adapt, recover and grow stronger. Running over different surfaces and in different shoes causes slight changes in which muscles, tendons and ligaments are stressed and by how much. All of these tiny variables contribute to fitness.  Never change the input variables and your body will likely respond via fatigue at one end of the spectrum and overuse injuries at the other end.

To keep my legs fresh and confused I like to mix things up ever so slightly.  I rotate among three to four different pairs of shoes, ranging from a fairly neutral trainer to an extreme minimalist flat. Each day that I run I alternate the direction from which I leave my home, allowing me to cover the same local loop but covering the crests, ridges, potholes and crowns from a different angle. During any single run I will also move to the center of the road, whenever safe to do so, so I have a flatter surface beneath my feet, and I also move off into the grass for about 1/8 of a mile each time I pass a local park.

As far as pace and strength are concerned, once a week I run a series of hill sprints after an easy paced run, and on other days I add fartleks into the mix. Each fartlek I run is on a different section of the road or grass: some on flat stretches, and others may be either ascending or descending ever so slightly.

While seemingly insignificant during the actual run, over time these small variables can make a big difference in our fitness, performance and injury prevention.  Not to mention, if you’re limited by your local geography in regards to running terrain these small changes can keep you feeling mentally fresh as well.

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