Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Book, New Shoes, An Interview and a Battle

If I had a bit more time these days, I wouldn't have to cram 4 topics into one blog.  Life has been busy with many good things but I've been trying to get to this blog for a while.

New Book: I've been using Greg McMillan's training calculator and training/racing paces for about 3 1/2 years now.  I use them to guide my training and to give me realistic expectations for races based on what I am able to do in training or in previous competitions.  I had not delved too deep into his philosophy beyond that but knew that he had some interesting insights into different bodies and how training needs to be different from one person to the next.  He finally came out with a book, (which I pre-ordered so I could get a signed copy) that explains his whole training plan and how to build an individualized plan for oneself.  I was so excited when it arrived on my doorstep and dove right into.  As a self-coached athlete I try to be open to what's available but also am guarded about what I try to do in my training.  With so many injuries in the past few years, I've been on a quest to be super smart!

I have since built my new McMillan training plan currently targeting a half marathon distance, although I will be running several different distances in the meantime, including a road mile.  I have increased my mileage this year ... carefully I might add ... because as long as I can keep my body in check and avoid injury, it adds strength, endurance and mental toughness.  From McMillan's book, I learned I am a combo-runner which a slant toward speedster.  Translated into English, this means I do equally well at varying distances but longer race distances and training are much harder on me than the fast stuff.  It takes me longer to recover from a long workout than it does a speed workout and I enjoy the faster, shorter stuff much more than the longer, slower stuff.  So with this in mind, I have been able to build a training plan that includes a lot of mileage (for me a lot means around 45 miles a week) but includes carefully inserted quality workouts that both challenge me and yet sit in my sweet spot.  I have placed enough recovery after the long workouts to keep me fresh for the fast workouts.  I'm still going through the book and building my plan but so far it all feels great and I'm hoping will translate into better running and racing.  I highly recommend the book.

New Shoes: I have talked about my Hokas before.  To sum up what I've said in the past, the shoes are heavenly but for me have to be used sparingly because they have proven to be too much of a crutch in workouts and led to weakened performance and the inability to easily switch into racing flats for fast workouts and races.  I use them on days when my legs are really feeling beat up and usually not more than twice a week, but mostly just once a week.  The that once per week run in my Hokas is what I look forward to.  I wake up excited for my Hoka run.  I now equate running in Hokas to swimming with fins.  The feel great, help you run faster with less effort, but can make you weaker if you rely on them.

Recently I had the opportunity to try a new model of Hoka, which is still in the design stage.  This new model is designed more for fast running and even possibly for fast racing.  They still have the thick cushion and bulk but are less "marshmellowy", more narrow and look a bit more like a typical shoe.  They are very light and somewhat flexible.  I have wanted to see if this new model might bridge the gap between my traditional running and racing shoes and the over-stuffed swim fin shoe and perhaps could be my new every day shoe.

When I first laid eyes on the new model my observation was that they were much more narrow.  This concerned me because my feet need space or else I begin to have some issues with blisters and neuromas in both forefeet getting irritated.  The new shoes were plenty big but unfortunately my feet felt smothered in the narrow toe box.  Their maiden voyage of 7 miles produced blisters on the top and bottom of my right foot, the tongues of both shoes slipped down and seemed to make them bend in the wrong spots, and I felt serious friction in both forefeet.  It was a totally different experience than my regular Hokas but I was optimistic that the next run would fare better.

The next run in the newbies was a 10 miler and I had similar issues but also additional issues.  I first noticed that there seemed to be some sort of clicking going on inside of the deep cushioning of the shoe as if there was a bubble inside there.  It was annoying but otherwise not too much of a problem.  Early on this time I began to feel a pain along the outside of my left foot.  It felt a lot like a cramp and didn't keep me from journeying on but was worrisome.  As I hit the more flat ground the friction began and hot spots developed this time on both my right and left feet and again the tongues slid to some strange location causing the shoe bend to irritate the tops of my feet.  I stopped more than once to pull up the tongues but they wouldn't stay where I needed them to stay.  I also had to stop to remove both shoes and allow my feet to "cool."  The friction that was being caused was intense and very uncomfortable.  In the end, that run ended up being miserable and left me with a slight injury in my left foot which ran up into the calf.  My Chiropractor determined that my foot had to be landing improperly and was compensating.  In general the toe box seems too restrictive and I still haven't figured out why there is friction in the forefoot area.  On the good side, the shoes have that great cushion and impact control and are less bulky than my regular Hokas.  I plan on trying them again but for the moment am hesitant.

An Interview:  John and I were guests on Coach Z's Endurance and Strength radio shoe.  John was the USMS Master's Coach and I was the elite runner :)  It was fun to talk about recent races and strength training advice, but I kind of think the boys (Zack and John) went off on some crazy open water/Wild Flower/Ironman France tangent and I sat there with my mouth open waiting to interject but then cocked my head to the side and just listened.  Ha ha, you know I'm kidding.  It was all good and very fun.  Here's the link to the podcast if you'd like to listen: Coach Z's Endurance and Strength Podcast - John and Cindy

Finally, a Battle:  Every year the Santa Barbara Tri-Club competes against the UCSB Tri-Club (and the Rincon Tri-Club as well) for dibs on the coveted Battle in the Sand Trophy.  The victor gets to possess the trophy until the next year's competition.  Our SB Tri-club claimed it last year and were poised to defend it.  The competition is won by the team which claims two out of three wins in the following categories:  All Women's Team, All Men's Team, Co-Ed Team.  Each team (relay team) has 6 members who switch off between swim and run.  So the first member swims, the second runs, the third swims, and so on until all 6 team members have done their part.  Therefore each relay team has 3 swimmers and 3 runners.  This year I was on the All Women's Team - as a runner.  The run is a beach run and this year is was nice and short (less than a mile).  We were up against excellent competition and after the first swim leg, had some ground to make up.  We remained behind the UCSB's all women's team through our first run leg, but our second swimmer, Tina, made up all the ground (er, water) and passed the other team and put some distance between us and them.  From there we kept the gap or lengthened it making my anchor leg quite easy - which was nice because I was running on dead legs as is typically the case on any given Saturday.  So our All Women's team won, but unfortunately our All Men's team and Co-Ed teams both lost to UCSB meaning the trophy left our possession ... until next year.

Upcoming events:  Next week I will be doing the State Street Mile as a Master's Elite.  Road miles and other short races are so nerve wracking and I'm already nervous but yet looking forward to it.  Last year was my first State Street Mile and I broke the Master's record with a 5:03.  Of course you can't come that close to breaking  5 minutes and be satisfied so this year I have already heaped pressure on myself to go under 5 minutes.  That would require me to get older and faster which I'm not so sure is happening.

Thanks so much for reading.  I feel like I'm a bit caught up now with the blog and hope to follow this one up with a race report next week.  Blessings to you!

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