Friday, March 20, 2015


I've been feeling a little beat up lately.

Ok, I will admit that having run 576km since January 1st might have something to do with it. Today being the first day of spring, I even went back through my logs and worked out that I'm at about 630km for the whole of that buggardly winter to which we finally bid adieu.


However, I've run much higher mileage in the past and not felt quite as sore on a daily basis. My legs whine every time I get out of a chair, let alone lace up and go for a run. Why is it such a problem right now, and how much doom does this spell for my Sulphur Springs build?

Fortunately, I think I've found the problems, and while one of them rests in the hands of the weather to cure (just STAHP with the cold & snow dammit!) the other is something I can get some relief from right away...but that has another problem built in.

Problem No 1: Surface

Because of the "icy death" status of the trails and the suicidal tendencies that treadmill running tends to engender in my addled little brain, I have been putting in my mileage almost exclusively on roads. Yes, the dreadmill happened a couple of times out of necessity - one was a double run Sunday after a long run on Saturday, and the other was a day when nothing could stay alive for more than about 10mins outdoors. We're talking a total of 11.5km out of the stupid amount I've run since winter started. Additionally, I have done a few trail runs since the year began, but not since mid-February when I went for what can only be described as a "high speed stumble" through Linear Park that took every ounce of energy I had just to complete. No, really: part of that trail includes a 20% hill on which the snow was actually packed down, and it was easier running up that hill than it was running through the crusty-on-top, loose-underneath snow that had been broken up slightly by one or two people's passage, but remained obstinately unpacked. Since then I've been hiking on various local trails on Sunday afternoons with Tanker the Wonder Sherpa, and at no point have I thought to myself "Yeah, this would be just fine for running". My thought processes have been more along the lines of "If I'm having this much trouble staying upright in hiking boots..". I haven't managed to do my weekly long run on trail since January 24th, and that's pretty huge - I'm no wee slip of a thing, and this winter has required some *ahem* extra insulation, so running over 20km with those extra pounds on a hard surface just beats me up all the more. I seriously can't wait until I can hit the trails again, especially since the first couple of events I have coming up are, in fact, trail races.

Problem No 2: Shoes

Running shoes have a life expectancy, and it's measured in kilometers. No matter how diligent I am about rotating my shoes - and I am, to the point of bringing 2 pairs with me when we go motorcycle touring so I don't have to run in the same shoes two days in a row - their expiry date is inevitable. For high mileage runners, buying new shoes is kind of like getting a goldfish: sure, they're pretty neat now, but you can't get too heavily attached since you know this isn't going to be a long-term relationship. Their conversational skills are about on par, too.

Ok, I'm sure I had a point.

Having looked at my training log, it appears that 2 out of my 3 pairs of regular rotation shoes (I did mention I was a little particular about them - I try to rest each pair 2 days between outings and I run 6 days per week) are at the very least nearing the end of their useful lives, if not actually well past it.

The rule of thumb is to replace your shoes after about 500 miles / 800km. I've managed to eke about 900km out of a pair of Brooks Launch in the past (I freakin' love that shoe, and the 3 listed above are actually my 3rd, 4th and 5th pairs of them), but I was only doing short runs in them and my legs were still getting beaten up. The cushioning foam in the soles only lasts so long, you see, before it simply ceases to do its job. With the Launch being more of a hybrid trainer/racer shoe (that I just happen to use as my every-day trainers), most people recommend replacing it after not more than 300 miles / 500km, which means even the lowest mileage pair in the current roster is getting a bit tired.

Really, I might as well be running with cinderblocks on my feet with the other two.

Not recommended.

So, easy fix - sort of. I have one precious pair of Launches left, having bought the last of a local shop's stock in my size a few months ago. They're still in their box in my kitchen, patiently waiting their turn. I can't think of any better time than the first long run of spring to break them out, so that solves half of my shoe dilemma, and really the most important half - I'll have cushy, new shoes for running long.

The second half of the problem - replacing the other pair that is in dire need of retirement - will take some more effort. Brooks has come out with an updated model called (surprisingly enough) the Launch 2. While this sounds incredibly promising, initial reports indicate that they've made the forefoot of the shoe narrower...which may be a deal breaker for me. I have wide feet, and even the Launch just barely cuts it - I actually have to skip a set of lace holes near the widest part of the shoe, otherwise they end up putting too much pressure around the ball of my foot.

Seen here on my original pair at Around the Bay 2012.

So the hunt may be on for a new pair of trainers to call my very own. If you have any suggestions for a nice cushy, neutral trainer with relatively low ramp (<10mm drop from heel to toe) that accommodates a "fuller-figured" foot, let me know!

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