Pure Grit & Determination

To be honest, I’d forgotten about it so it was  a nice  bit of a surprise when our +Brooks Running rep Adam arrived into +Amphibian King Galway bearing gifts. He was with us a couple of weeks back and in conversation had promised a pair of Pure Grit for me to try out and to see what I thought of them.



We had been talking about the Pure Project range from Brooks:

PureGrit™, PureFlow™, PureConnect™ and PureCadence™ characterised by the ideal bio mechanic adjustment of each runner, to assure you on your path of feeling the run. This allows an efficient and natural foot strike. So you are prepared best for new impressions on your tracks and the pure experience of your run.

The Pure Project is a range of shoes developed to provide Brooks lovers a minimalist option, my first experience of Pure Project was a pair of Pure Connect which I picked up during 2012 (again thanks to Brooks!) originally considered the replacement of the Green Silence which was in the process of being discontinued.(I’ve captured that webpage of information in the event it ever disappears.)

 I was excited by the thought of trying these out. 

 One of our friends, pro triathlete +Paul Hawkins has a pair of these and has been training in them all through the winter in Spain with +Oliver Watts and his Kinetic PB training centre. Paul was a Green Silence runner who is now wearing Pure Connect & Pure Grit for all his training and racing. (Still has a pair of Green Silence tucked away, just in case.)

Back to the Pure Grit.

Brooks say:
When you want nothing to come between you and the trail, the ultra-light PureGrit won’t get in your way. We constructed an outsole with an aggressive, multi-directional lug pattern for better grip on the ever-changing surfaces of adventure. Its concave shape delivers better balance by splaying out upon impact and creating more surface area for ground contact. With blazing colors, you’ll light the trail on fire. Metaphorically.

Straight out of the box, I liked the look of these. Nice strong colouring, a feature I like in my road shoes, not too sure how practical it is in a trail shoe, we’ll see later.

Time for a bit of unboxing. 


Off to a good start there was a pair in the box, left and right shoes present and accounted for.

The last (shape) of the Pure Grit is generous. My normal shoes are like this, spacious in the toe box yet snug in the heel area, gripping the heel giving a very secure and comforting feel of stability.

The shoes look great too, which is a help, though covered in mud you wouldn’t see that. You can see from the styling that the shoe is designed to hug your feet. This is a feature of all Brooks shoes which I’m understanding better and better the more I wear them.

Its like a journey of discovery, new little things become obvious each time you look at the shoes. The heel cup wraps up and links into the lacing, holding your heel down and back into the shoe, no risk of slippage here! 

Similarly with the toe box, it is reinforced where needed and supports the sides of the foot without being too snug. I like! 

You can see the split toe which helps with flexibility allowing the toes to work independently. The big toe being key to balance, allowing it to work free of the other toes enhances your proprioception & balance.


You can see the grippy lugs on the sole. Having them reversed gives optimum grip no matter what you are doing. The rear facing grips to the front, help with going forwards and the front facing lugs at the back help with stopping or running downhill. 

Enough about looking, I wanted to get a run in these puppies so I quickly swapped out my footwear and spent the afternoon wearing the Pure Grit to make sure they suited me and I would have no issues with rubbing or blistering when running.

They felt great, nice and stable, flexible on the foot yet secure. They are a real contrast to the Pure Connect which I’m not 100% sure about (for me!). Having worn the Pure Connect regularly I generally find my feet quick tired after them (a sign my feet are working) and there is a very definite roll heel to toe across the shoe which I can tolerate, but not love.
 
Once home, I got geared up for the elements. It was sub-zero out so my Brooks Silver Bullet jacket was getting an outing too. 

As I’d ‘misplaced’ my Polar G5 pod through a rather unfortunate act of stupidity last weekend I dug out my S3+ stride sensor to give me an account of the run.

There is an elasticated comfort band on the Pure Grit which was a perfect spot for attaching the S3+ sensor. The lacing runs under the band which pulls the sides of the shoe in and hugs you around the midfoot. Nice touch, giving extra comfort & security. 


Out the gate. The roads were lethal!! I have a section of road to run before I get into the woods & trails, roughly 800m long, it was a skating rink. Now I wouldn’t expect any shoe to give me grip here so I ran along the verge in the leaf litter and immediately felt the effect of the grippy lugs.

Some trail shoes, I find, can feel like running in football boots when running on a hard surface. Immediately I was thinking these would be a great shoe in the summer on dry hard packed trails as they are extremely comfortable, not too luggy giving a smooth feel on a hard surface but lets see how they do on nice damp winter forest trails…

Well, I got that wrong!

I expected a little bit of frosty ground with a bit of a crunch. Instead I got trails that had been churned up by mountain bikes & tractors. They were soft, cut up and muddy!!

Now in fairness the trails are maintained by the local MTB club and they rotate through a few locations so as to be gentle on the trails, so no fault of theirs, they may not be back for weeks so no harm done. It did mean an unexpected surface for testing these shoes out though.

I wasn’t hesitant but I took the first loop handy. I wanted to get a feel for the shoe. You have to trust your trail shoes, if you are going to dig into a turn or let rip on a down hill you have to have faith in the knowledge that the shoe will let you do this with confidence.

Sounding out the trails, I haven’t been in here in a while, I found parts cut by tractor wheels, unexpectedly I must say, and a quick dunk in freezing water soon had me ‘over’ keeping my new shoes clean.

I was happy to let rip on the areas I knew to be clean where it was just leaf fall and composted forest floor. The shoes dug in nicely and felt extremely secure and comfortable.

It may not be to everyone’s taste, the broad toe box, but I very quickly forgot about the slight side to side freedom as my feet settled in. Absolutely zero slippage at the heel but the space at the front may upset some people who prefer a snugger fit in their trail shoe.

As I say, its doesn’t bother me in the least, I feel the more my feet feel relaxed in a shoe, the better they will work .

As this was really my first proper run in a Zero drop shoe I was conscious of the distance and being careful not to overdo it. However, the temptation to just run, had me doing a second lap without any hesitation. 🙂

Following the path back around I was much more relaxed and really allowed the shoes to work their magic. Confidently stepping on wet rock the only thing I was wary of were wet roots  which will upend you regardless of the shoe you are wearing (except specialist orienteering shoes). 

Puddles (yep, feet got wet, but no sploshing water in the shoes), mud, hard gravel sections, and good old fashioned forest floor all taken in the stride with no problems.

Colour didn’t last long! 
 


This is a shoe I will buy. I thoroughly enjoyed running in these, and for sure I will be going again.

As Brooks say, Run Happy!! My feet were smiling after this one.  



Brooks Green Silence

Lifted straight from the Brooksrunning.co.ok website, I wanted to preserve a record of the Brooks Green Silence running shoe as it is a shoe that will soon be spoken about in hushed tones as a feature of folklore.

In the future runners will not be measured by their marathon times. 

Instead you will be asked if you ever ran in Green Silence, at least if you’ve read this you will never be left short with a response like “Green Silence ??”

🙂 


Green Silence Eco Innovation 

A racing flat that’s green (and fast!)

It’s no secret. When it comes to sustainability, it’s time for running gear to lead the way, not follow. With our usual passion, Brooks has embraced this challenge. The result is the Green Silence —available now— a groundbreaking advance in running shoes that will not be kept quiet.


By utilizing recycled and other earth-friendly components, this striking—and strikingly fast—performance racing shoe breathes new life into the competition category—as well as countless post-race plastic water and sports beverage bottles, rubber that would otherwise be abandoned, and discarded Skid Row, Kix, and Ratt CDs. No wonder the Green Silence has so much personality.

Key Green Features:

  • BioMoGo, the world’s first-ever biodegradable midsole for running shoes
  • 75% of the shoe’s materials are post-consumer recycled
  • Biodegradable insole and collar foams
  • Laces, gillies, and reinforced webbing are 100% post-consumer recycled
  • Water-based adhesives are used throughout
  • All dyes and colorants are non-toxic
  • Packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled

Constructed with roughly half as many parts as comparable shoes, the Green Silence requires less petroleum and energy to make. Of course, the shoe manages all of this while delivering the premium performance expected from Brooks.

Reduce your carbon footprint. Move forward. Run Happy.

Thank you +Brooks Running for the memories.

2013 #Zero25k Running Group 1 & 2

Last Saturday saw us heading out with two Groups in our #Zero25k programme. To keep things as simple as possible I’m lumping the reports & data from the #Zero25k Running Groups in together rather than one for each. 


Group 1 can keep an eye on what Group 2 are getting up to and vice versa. (Nothing like a bit of rivalry to keep everyone motivated!!)

All in all we have over 100 people registered to participate or follow in our programme, which is just mindblowing! The vast majority are turning up and attending but we do have quite a few people following online in their own time too.

Saturday was a cold and frosty morning (I don’t know about anyone else but I thought the view to the bay was majestic with the foggy / frosty layer hanging over the water) so there was no hanging around as Group 1 assembled ready for the off from +Amphibian King Galway at 8am. There was a little bit of confusion as some transfers were taking place between the groups, this is inevitable but should be all settled down this week now that we have commenced.


Leaving the shop, the plan called for a modest change in the intervals being run. The usual warm up and then an increase in the duration of the ‘work’ phases but overall reduction in the number of intervals. Overall it adds up to a little more time running and a little less time walking. 

This is how the #Zero25k Session 4 looks on PolarPersonalTrainer as a planned session:



Now the data from my recording is off as I was running up and down the group a bit but you can get a rough idea from the layout. During work phases your pace should go up and your heart rate along with it. Obviously in recovery both should come down.

Our goal is to get your heart rate in the Orange & Red zones and back to Green / Blue for recovery. Pace will follow over time as you get fitter you will find that you are running faster at the same level of effort (as guided by your heart rate).

You can check out the full data set through this link: #Zero25k Group 1 – Training File. 

Arriving back outside the +Amphibian King shop, I left Group 1 to do some stretches while getting Group 2 organised and briefed on what was about to happen.

While doing this I placed my Polar G5 GPS pod on the roof of the car so that I wouldn‘t lose signal whilst inside the shop. This is something I often advise people to do while waiting for their GPS device to pick up signal. 

Little did I realise, in a real +Mr. Bean moment, that while I was speaking to the group, owner of said car jumped in and drove off, with my G5 on their roof!! 

It’s gone now. As both +Peppa pig  and my 4 year old daughter would say – “Silly Daddy!!”

I’m going to have to revise my advice and qualify it by saying make sure its your own car 🙂 

Anyway Group 2 introduced and a quick grab of my trusty old Garmin FR305 (for mapping) and we were off out the Coast Road in #Oranmore.

The format was exactly the same as the first week of Group 1 with the same phases. You can find the previous post outlining the process along with a comment about converting the session to a treadmill:   Regaining Ground: 2013 #Zero25k Group 1 – Week 1

I don’t have the map data to hand, I’ll edit later and insert it for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing. My HR data is a lot clearer than that above and gives a better indication of what we are trying to achieve (although pace info is absent):


As always any questions, drop me an email or ideally a comment, and I will get back to you.

Happy running!

2013 #Zero25k Running Group 1 & 2

Last Saturday saw us heading out with two Groups in our #Zero25k programme. To keep things as simple as possible I’m lumping the reports & data from the #Zero25k Running Groups in together rather than one for each. 


Group 1 can keep an eye on what Group 2 are getting up to and vice versa. (Nothing like a bit of rivalry to keep everyone motivated!!)

All in all we have over 100 people registered to participate or follow in our programme, which is just mindblowing! The vast majority are turning up and attending but we do have quite a few people following online in their own time too.

Saturday was a cold and frosty morning (I don’t know about anyone else but I thought the view to the bay was majestic with the foggy / frosty layer hanging over the water) so there was no hanging around as Group 1 assembled ready for the off from +Amphibian King Galway at 8am. There was a little bit of confusion as some transfers were taking place between the groups, this is inevitable but should be all settled down this week now that we have commenced.


Leaving the shop, the plan called for a modest change in the intervals being run. The usual warm up and then an increase in the duration of the ‘work’ phases but overall reduction in the number of intervals. Overall it adds up to a little more time running and a little less time walking. 

This is how the #Zero25k Session 4 looks on PolarPersonalTrainer as a planned session:



Now the data from my recording is off as I was running up and down the group a bit but you can get a rough idea from the layout. During work phases your pace should go up and your heart rate along with it. Obviously in recovery both should come down.

Our goal is to get your heart rate in the Orange & Red zones and back to Green / Blue for recovery. Pace will follow over time as you get fitter you will find that you are running faster at the same level of effort (as guided by your heart rate).

You can check out the full data set through this link: #Zero25k Group 1 – Training File. 

Arriving back outside the +Amphibian King shop, I left Group 1 to do some stretches while getting Group 2 organised and briefed on what was about to happen.

While doing this I placed my Polar G5 GPS pod on the roof of the car so that I wouldn‘t lose signal whilst inside the shop. This is something I often advise people to do while waiting for their GPS device to pick up signal. 

Little did I realise, in a real +Mr. Bean moment, that while I was speaking to the group, owner of said car jumped in and drove off, with my G5 on their roof!! 

It’s gone now. As both +Peppa pig  and my 4 year old daughter would say – “Silly Daddy!!”

I’m going to have to revise my advice and qualify it by saying make sure its your own car 🙂 

Anyway Group 2 introduced and a quick grab of my trusty old Garmin FR305 (for mapping) and we were off out the Coast Road in #Oranmore.

The format was exactly the same as the first week of Group 1 with the same phases. You can find the previous post outlining the process along with a comment about converting the session to a treadmill:   Regaining Ground: 2013 #Zero25k Group 1 – Week 1

I don’t have the map data to hand, I’ll edit later and insert it for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing. My HR data is a lot clearer than that above and gives a better indication of what we are trying to achieve (although pace info is absent):


As always any questions, drop me an email or ideally a comment, and I will get back to you.

Happy running!

Whats in a name? Coda.

iNOV8 – Transitioning Infographic

In a response to a recent post Regaining Ground: Whats in a name? where I was outlining my thoughts on the difference between ‘traditional’ technical shoes, minimalist shoes and barefoot running I was asked a question on the +Amphibian King Facebook page following a great observation in relation to the post:


Very good article. I had considered minimalist shoes as a viable alternative to racing flats, as they are equally light (lighter even) and have a very low drop. They also seem more cushioned than racing flats, which is why I figured they might be a suitable candidate for longer distance races (distances for which I couldn’t comfortably wear a racing flat). You seem to be suggesting that a minimalist shoe isn’t a long term racing proposition, but rather an intermediate shoe to help improve running gait?

 Straight away I‘m going to hedge my bets and say its all down to the individual 🙂

When barefoot running became more mainstream a couple of years ago, there was a lot of anticipation and hype due to the inspirational read that was Christopher McDougall‘s book ‘Born to Run’ conciding with the launch of the much lauded +Vibram FiveFingers footwear. In fact most would agree that ‘Born to Run was a major factor in creating and supporting demand for the funky ‘Toe Shoes’.

So motivating was the book that in +Amphibian King Galway I often would hear the claim: ‘I’ve read the book, I’m born to run, I want the shoes!!’ from some of the most unlikely of mouths.

The whole barefoot arena was definitely a talking point  and the Vibrams, a focalpoint for the talk.

Where’s the point?

Well, the running shoe companies were obviously reluctant to do anything about it, I mean, it’s a fad isnt it? Like, honestly, barefoot running? It won’t catch on, really!!

The thing is, it did and has. While barefooting will never threaten the business of mainstream technical running shoes, I mean never, they did spur quite a lot of research to be done into the mechanics of running. Most of what know is derived from reading and discussing mechanics of running off the back of barefoot studies. Some people conducted studies to support barefoot, others studied to disprove it as a fad, a joke, temporary, nonsense.

However, the shoe companies whether driven by what was happening or through natural progression started to make changes.

Some possibly made knee jerk reactions to be on the bandwagon, others made considered decisions through their own biomechanical studies and introduced shoes that were not quite traditional shoes but also not quite barefoot.

The shoe companies knew there were advantages to be gained by racing flats with their low profile heels giving runners an aggressive stride when racing. Racing flats and gutties have been around, since a long time, so they are tried and tested. The whole nature of the barefoot running seemed to strike a cord though. 33 joints in the foot, designed to be mobile, proprioception & feedback etc.

By enabling mobility you are creating stability. 

How Zen is that?

Minimalism was born.

+Nike Free, Saucony Kinvara, +Brooks Running Green Silence (ahead of its time) were some of the key innovators in the area. +ASICS created the Hyper 33 range, +New Balance have their Minimus Road & Trail shoes (been a big hit, especially the 4mm trail),  +Mizuno Running are launching the Wave Evo Levitas shortly.

Brooks Green Silence

ASICS Hyper 33

Nike Free Run

Mizuno Evo Levitas – sole

As you can see, all in some form or another feature low heel to toe profiles with a cushioned midsole and segmented forefoot to allow the feet to feel the road.

So, back to the original question:

You seem to be suggesting that a minimalist shoe isn’t a long term racing proposition, but rather an intermediate shoe to help improve running gait?

That is pretty much exactly how I would view the shoes. 

If you are looking for out and out performance and responsiveness, ie. you push off and get an immediate reponse in resulting drive then go with a racing flat.

If you are training to race 5, 10, half or even full marathon then by all means minimal shoes will be ideal for training, conditioning the lower body, remapping running form and still comfortable; then switch to flats on race day.
  
However, if you are conditioned to the low heel to toe profile the minimal shoes may, just may, be a better proposition for races of long duration (50k + ) where efficiency of stride and a bit of extra cushioning become paramount.

We don’t want anyone suffering stress fractures now, do we?

As always, if I’ve left you with more questions than I’ve answered, just post a comment below & I’ll do my best to clarify.

Happy running!  

Training Diary – Week 2

Not a bad week of training, quite happy with the balance I got. Our little training schedule seems to be working and having a planned out routine definitely helps in hitting those sessions.

Monday  (7st Jan)

With Edel first to hit the pool with a morning session, we tag-teamed the kids, I drop our daughter to school and scoot onto the pool for my session and we then swap out at +Amphibian King Galway  again. For some reason I can’t find my +Garmin Swim record of the session, I’ll upload it later and add it in here.

  • Swim: 2km, 00:47:26

Tuesday

I have a run scheduled on Tuesday morning but with the return of my Power Pedals from Polar UK I was like a child at christmas and decided to re do the FTP test this evening instead. By skipping the tempo run, I was saving my legs for the test (or so I thought!)

Set the bike up, installed the pedals and created the FTP test protocol on my CS600x head unit ready for action. With the test predetermined all I had to do was follow the ‘beeps’ and push.

 The end result was a disappointing 185watts or 2.1watts per kg of bodyweight.I always knew I struggled with leg power and this was obvious by the way I slip backwards on hills when out with the club. Being pragmatic, its a measure of where I am and gives me impetus to form a structured bike training plan.

  • Bike 25.4k, 01:00:08, AHR 144bpm, MxHR 178bpm, ASpeed 25.3km/hr

Wednesday

Pool session again, this time with my Garmin Swim. I mentioned this brilliant training tool back in November when I was getting over my injury. I’m still getting used to it and while my swim sets are quite basic at the moment, I’m just focussing on essential fitness & finding some technique.

I’m doing this by swimming 100’s, working on bringing them in sub2:00 and off at 2:15 for now. Goal is to get these back down to 1:4x and off 1:55. A couple of 400’s help with the grooving of the rhythm over longer distances.

I also stuck in a quick 25 minute preprogrammed Treadmill workout back at home in the evening.

  •  Swim 2.1km, 00:49:40 ; APace
  • Treadmill 4.65km. 00:25:35, AHR 148bpm, MxHR 172bpm, APace 05:30min/km

Thursday  

Bit of a disaster week with my training gadgets. Plan was to drop little miss at school, go for a longer run from +Amphibian King Galway and head to the gym for a shower & change before work.

Forgot my G5 GPS pod so only had the RCX5 and HRM strap. Decided to use my trusty old Forerunner 305 to map my run. I havent used this in a while and it was last used by +Micheal Gaffey who definitely showed it what proper training is all about! Anyway, holding a charge, off I went, just as the day turned miserable & wet.

Details here:

Post run off to the gym for a quick swim to warm up, shower and back to work.

  • Run: 10.25km, 00:55:45, AHR 152bpm, MxHR 178bpm, APace 05.27/km
  • Swim: 0.6km

Friday

Morning swim followed by an evening turbo session. Turbo was nothing remarkable, just a chance to spin the legs up with a couple of 3 minute mini-intervals and 2 minute recovery.

  • Swim: 2.1km, 00:43.09, APace 01:58/100, SWOLF 40
  • Turbo: 11.6km, 00:23:50, AvgHR 134bom, MxHR166bpm, ASpeed 29.3km/hr

Saturday

This is the first session of our new #Zero25k Running Group which I’m organising from +Amphibian King Galway every Saturday morning. Hopefully, the gang in +Amphibian King Bray & Ballymount will start something similar as the demand is huge for these programs.

After the session I went for my own interval run along the coast road. Yes the orange blobby shape puffing up and down the hills was me! I was actually quite happy achieving a 04:19 – 04:23 pace for the 5min intervals as I’m definitely feeling the lack of fitness.

  • #Zero25k Run: 3.05km, 00:26:35, AHR 122bpm, MxHr 158bpm, APace 08:41mins/km
  • Run: 10.19km, 00:52:13, AHR 152bpm, MxHR 176bpm, APace 05:07mins/km

Sunday

Aim was to hook up with Seven Springs on the club spin. Gamely I cycled from home to Loughrea to join them knowing that a 90k route was in the plan.

Yet again the switching between the different training units caught me out. Whilst I had the G5 pod with me this time, I did not have GPS enabled on the CS600x so there was no mapping done 😦

The back door slamed firmly in my face as the group disappeared up Rye Hill led by the young guns in the club. Definitely more leg power work required!

  • Cysle: 87.5km, 03:23:07, AHR 144bpm, MxHR 172bpm, ASpeed 26.1km/hr

Week Totals

Swim: 7m
Bike: 124km
Run: 28km

2013 #Zero25k Group – Week 1

Speed cameras in Oranmore?

Right now all I can say is WOW!! I’m completely blown away by the response we had to the #Zero25k email.

We had x56 people all registered for our new season #Zero25k Running Group being organised out of +Amphibian King Galway

We also had at least 20 people ringing over the course of the week desperate to join the group

Unfortunately we had to disappoint some people but we know the demand is there so we will organise a second beginners group to run immediately after this session. Bear with us, we are just trying to work out how best to manage this and a

Anyhow, lots of new faces all ready willing and eager to get started this morning. 

A short introductory chat in the shop, check that no one is using earphones (Sorry, for being the ipod police, but safety first) and after a quick group photo in front of the shop we were off on our warm up. (Bit of a laugh taking the photo, with all the reflective strips flashing, the passing cars slowed right down thinking they’d triggered a speed camera 🙂 )

2013 #Zero25k Running Group


The session was planned as: Warmup, x8 interval of 1 minute running followed by 90 seconds recovery. 

Here’s how the session looks planned out on Polar Personal Trainer:


This session when synchronised with your +Polar RCX5, RCX3 or RC3 GPS watch will take all the memory out of organising your run on the road. The wrist units will alert you to each interval, display your personal pace & Heart Rate information and ofterwards provide feedback on your progress. 

I use it with my RCX5 and with the session automatically progressing through from the start I can focus on the runners & pay less attention to managing the time.

Once back in the village we had a cool down and stretching session in the carpark beside +Amphibian King.

Also have to say a bit thank you to Susan from +Serenity Healing in Craughwell who was very quick off the mark in offering our members a very special deal on an introductory sports massage. Check them out and they’re on Twitter too.
  
Fantastic to see so many new people become runners this morning. A little bit of hard work over the coming weeks and they will all be ready to tackle their first 5k race.

Now there’s a goal for the New Year!! 

Happy running!

Whats in a name? #running shoes

Following a recent discussion with a pal this topic came up which, I feel, causes quite a bit of confusion for runners and needs a bit of +Amphibian King Galway clarity applied.

What exactly is the difference between a traditional technical running shoe and a minimalist running shoe? (Thanks Dave for the inspiration)


Where to start? 

Breaking it down, as I see it there are roughly three different categories of running shoes with differing characteristics:

  1. Technical Running shoes
  2. Minimalist running shoes
  3. Racing flats 

Taking the first category Technical Running shoes these are again sub divided into Neutral or Guidance (further into Support and Motion Control).

Kayano 18 – Old shoe showing build.

The chief make up of these shoes will generally be an outsole made of rubber, a midsole composed of several shock controlling and cushioning components and cushioned comfortable upper wrapping the foot.

The principle distinction between a Neutral Runner and a Guidance Runner is that there will be a wedge of high density foam (or similar structure) on the medial side (instep) of the Guidance shoe.

The Heel to Toe* drop is not a critical factor in Technical Running shoes but over the past couple of seasons there has been a tendency for shoe companies to offer lower H-T drop shoes as an alternative to the traditional 12mm.

*Heel to Toe is the difference  in the midsole depth of cushioning comparing the heel of the shoe to the toe. It is not a difference based on the visible height of the midsole as seen on the shelf, for example.

The effect of reducing the H-T drop is a change the mechanics of your running style, enabling a more efficient transfer of the foot from the heel landing through the midfoot and ultimately off the toes. The drop is rated 12, 10, 8 & 4 ususally, though some brands (such as Inov8) work 12,9,6,3 & 0.

Taking on the grey area of Minimalism there is a natural association with Barefoot running (which may or may not actually be ‘barefoot’) which is inherent in the intention of natural running. 

To me a minimalist shoe has to tick a number of boxes:

  1. comprise of a low H-T drop 6, 4, 3 or 0
  2. have a structurally neutral effect on the feet
  3. be flexible and segmented to allow mobility of the foot joints
  4. fit like a slipper so your body forgets you’re wearing shoes  
Old +Saucony Kinvara exploded

There are other criteria but these are the primary ones. Whether there is 20mm cushioning under your forefoot or 3mm is a matter for the purist to argue about, I just sell running shoes. 🙂

Low drop, further develops the forefoot landing, loading, lever and spring off mechanisms in the foot.

Structurally neutral means no implied guidance, control or other effect is imparted on the natural movement and felxion of your feet. This along with being ‘flexible and segmented’ ensures that your feet ‘read’ the surface your are running on, proprioceptive feedback from your feet trigger muscular and skeletal development and adaptations to the mechanisms of natural running.

One of the key things across all types of footwear for me is that you should be able to forget that it exists and run with no inhibitions, allow your body and feet to relax and just go with the flow. Nowhere is this more important than in a minimalist shoe.

Racing Flats are often confused with minimalism. It is quite easy to understand why this is when you take an abstract look at the H-T drop. Most racing flats are 4-6mm and lower and have a thin outsole and midsole so are visually quite similar to some brands of minimalist shoes.

Musha 5 from +Mizuno Running 

However, for me, that is where the comparison ends. Racing flats are for racing, minimalist shoes are for adapting to a more natural running gait.

Racing flats are designed for going fast. 

  1. They should be firm underfoot to aid propulsion (no fluffy foam absorbing push off energy) 
  2. Reduced H-T drop (relative to their Technical counterparts) but not necessarily as low as minimalist shoes.
  3.  Lower profile again relative to their Technical brothers (& sisters) – helps with weight reduction = faster feet.
  4. They must look fast!! Nothing like a bit of mental lift when going fast 🙂   
  5. They will have a shorter life than even the minimalist shoes, anywhere from 100-250km on average (the weight saving costs durability too)

As with everything, common sense needs to be applied to choosing minimalism or racing flats. I have a piece on the +Amphibian King Galway facebook page about Experiencing Minimalism that may be of further help to anyone considering transtioning. 

Of course, we are here to help you through the decision making process too.

Happy running 🙂
 

Do my feet look big in these?

Every day when sizing people for runners in +Amphibian King Galway , I would normally hear several suggestions that I’m telling fibs about the numbers.I also get quizzical looks about sizes I may be suggesting.

I‘m used to it at this stage.

There’s a couple of measurements I look at; your barefoot size (just standing there), your recommended shoe size (normal everyday shoes) and then your running shoe size.

Foot width, bridge height & foot volume are generally ‘eye-ball’ dimensions that are taken into consideration when selecting and recommending a pair of shoes for you to try out.

What is the reason for the running shoe size?

Well, depending on your arch which may be high, neutral or low your foot will do a certain amount of work when you are running. The arch is a flexible structure of joints, muscles, connective tissue all designed to be a mobile unit that helps the body absorb impact energy (when running) store it as potential energy (in the muscles of the lower leg) and re-use that force as kinetic energy (driving your forwards). A highly efficient use of energy systems.

So, let’s assume you have a neutral arch, nicely flexible with good mobility. When you run, between strides you are airbourne so gravity starts having an effect on your landing. It multiplies the impact forces from 1-2 times your walking body weight to anywhere from 2-5 times of point load on landing.

To absorb and redistribute this impact energy (remember from school science class the Law of Conservation of EnergyEnergy in a system may neither be created nor destroyed but can be changed from one form to another. ) the arch flattens as the impact energy becomes stored by the foot. As the arch flattens your foot becomes longer.

If you don’t have space at the head of your shoe, you are going to lose toenails, simple.

With sandal season around the corner, tell me do you this this is a good look?

Didn’t think so.  🙂
 

Don’t believe me, want to test me?

Next time you get out of the shower stand on the floor with your feet shoulder width apart. Have a look at your footprints. Now place one foot alongside the prints and stand on one leg. The second footprint is larger both in length, width and surface area. This is how the body starts dealing with running impact energy.

So that’s it in a nutshell. We’re not trying to make you trip over your own feet, or turn you into a circus clown. We’re not even making up the numbers for fun. 

Your foot size is your foot size, but your running shoes size is a different thing altogether.

Trust me.

Happy running!!

Training Diary – Week 1

So 2013 has started. Week 1 and its time for me to get in gear and on the road to achieving some of my stated goals for the coming year.

The first step on the road is working out a training calendar with my wife. We share the available sessions around minding the family and work, where possible we will train together too, kinda like a date 🙂

Week 1 my main aim was to get kick started again. 

For the past 2 years I’ve done the 5k Resolution Run in Renmore in Galway, this year it moved to a new route in the City. Unfortunately the little lad had been ill with what we found out to be an ear infection so I missed it this year. I got out instead for my own New Year’s run.

Tuesday  (1st Jan)

Easy Run – 10 mins warm up; 50mins Zone 3; 5 mins cool down 1:05 total / 9.2km

Back onto one of my favourite run routes from last year. Definitely going to be my testing ground for FTP for the season.

Tuesday: 12.00km, 01:08:56, AHR 144bpm, MxHR 179bpm, APace 05:42/km

Thursday  

With no ill effects from Tuesdays run, biggest run in months, I was hoping to get out again today but opted for a nice little treadmill run instead. Much slower than I though and really strange compared to road running but there you go, that’s why I love road.

Thursday: 6.00km, 00:39:14, AHR 148bpm, MxHR 181bpm, APace 06.32/km

 Friday

Basic Run – 10 mins warm up; 50 mins Zone 2; 5 mins cool down 1:05 total / 9.2km

With Edel & the kids away for the night I decided to go for an evening run with my headlight. Same route as Tuesday, just not as far.

Friday: 11.02km, 01:02:12, AHR 144bpm. MxHR 162bpm, APace 05:39/km

Saturday

Awake early so I decided to give the turbo a visit. I’ve been a bit demotivated about the turbo on account of any excuse so it was time to make peace with it. Set myself up, before any breakfast with Miami Vice: Season 3 on the DVD and just rolled out a session.

Turbo: 25.21km, 01:00:01, AHR 135bpm, MxHr 154bpm, ASpeed 25.4km/h

Jumped off the bike and onto the treadmill for an interval run session. I struggled with the HR strap all the way through this so it made a complete joke of the data.

Interval Run: 15mins warm up; 6x 4mins on / 2 mins off; 5mins cool-down 00:56 total / 6.1km

Hard to call the intervals so I warmed up at 8km/hr and did incremental interval to have a ‘look-see’: 12 / 12.5 / 13 / 13.5 / 14 / 12 with recovery of 8km/hr each time.

Treadmill: 9.16km, 00:56:15, AHR 113bpm (?), MxHr 178bpm (?), APace 6:06/km

Sunday

Out on the road bike for a change of scenery and dose of freshair. Nothing dramatic here, all about trying to keep the HR stable and below my threshold calculation of 144bpm, my fat burning zone.

Sunday: 38.4km, 01:35:57

Week Totals

Swim: 0m
Bike: 63.6km
Run: 38km