Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekly thoughts...5/13/12

I suppose I had a "decent" week this past week.  I didn't have any bad runs, just lower volume than I would have liked.  Been on the go quite a bit lately, with both Monday and today traveling and not really allowing any solid time to beat feet.  I ended up with 31 miles this week, which would have been awesome about 6 months ago.  Now I just feel like I should be doing more.  I really feel like 50 is my magic number right now, but more than anything lately it's just been finding the time to get in the miles.

This week is going to be busy with work, as will much of the next, but depending on how my schedule turns out being (find out tomorrow), I'm going to try and get in 40+ this week.  I might have to pull some two-a-days, but it wouldn't be the first time, and I usually feel better after doing two 5 milers in a day than trying to bust out consecutive 10 mile days.  We'll see what happens, and hopefully I'll be able to get the numbers in.

I'll definitely go for broke this week, and lighten up next week to start tapering.  The North Face Endurance Challenge Trail race in DC is in about 3 weeks, and before my last race I don't think I rested enough prior, and gassed out a little bit.  It wasn't exactly that I was tired after the distance last time, because I know I could have run much farther than the 10k race, it was more just maxed out on speed.  I have a good feeling that with a little better rest plan this time I can have a better race (10k distance again).  It may be a little optimistic to think that I can run a faster time than the last one, simply because I don't know what the course is, but I know I can definitely have a better effort.

Although, deep down inside, my personal goal for this one is to run sub 46 minutes.  Possible?  Definitely.  Likely?  We'll find out.

Either way, I think this will be my last 10k distance for a bit.  I need to start going farther on distance.  I know signing up for a longer race will definitely mentally push me to raise my weekly mileage.  I'm thinking my next one should be a 1/2 marathon distance, or maybe a 30k.  Mentally and physically I know right now I could finish a marathon distance, but I'm not sure I would be very happy with the effort or results.  I'm still going to push to hit up a 50k before the end of this year, or early next year, but I guess that all depends on where I'm at then (physical location, I still have nothing definite on where that is at this point).

In other news, I'm still fighting this semi-issue I have with my left leg.  Basically it's a tightness in the lateral and medial heads of the gastrocnemius.  It's fine once I start running and it loosens up after a couple miles, but a couple hours after the run is over, it's tight again.  I've tried foam rolling, heat, massage, pretty much everything, and nothing seems to be helping.  That paired with the off-and-on pain I'm still getting on my outer knee at the IT band junction, and it gets quite annoying, though not debilitating.  I guess I should go see a doctor about it, but my lack of faith in military medicine has precluded me from doing so.  Eventually I'll convince myself to do it.

Up next...gear review.

So while I am a firm believer in the minimalist running idea, I've never claimed to be a barefoot guy.  I do own a pair of Vibram KSOs, that do see occasional running use, but more for foot strengthening than regular training.  I'm a believer in more that you should use the least amount of shoe that your body allows you to do comfortably.  My primary road shoes are Merrell Road Gloves, and Saucony Kinvara 2s when I need a little more cushion.  For trail, I run in Merrell Trail Gloves, and Brooks Pure Grit's, and now also my latest addition to the stable.

I recently bought a pair of Brooks Cascadia 7s.  Now most people would say they are about the farthest thing you can get from a "minimalist" shoe, and I would agree.  But, sometimes when running on a little tougher trails, I welcome the extra protection.  In that instance, the Cascadia 7 fits the bill.

It's definitely more shoe than anything else I have.  Weighing in at 12.2oz (size 9), and with a 10mm heel/toe differential, they are a substantial shoe.  It still has a very breathable upper, allowing plenty of ventilation for the recent 13 mile trail run I did in them.  There is a good amount of midsole cushioning, and solid underfoot protection, which was great running through the heavily rooted sections of the Neusiok Trail.  Note: I did remove the insole and ran without them in, giving a good amount more of room in the toe box, and it was still very comfortable.

Though there is a 10mm differential, I didn't find it hard at all to maintain my midfoot strike on the trail, as I checked it often.  I'm a firm believer that if you train yourself in more minimal footwear to have proper form, that you can carry that over to pretty much any shoe.  In at least my case, this has proved to be the case.

So far, the Cascadia 7s get my vote for a great trail shoe with good protection.  If I was running gnarly trails all the time, I could easily see this as my go-to shoe all the time.  But, since right now, I spend more time on the pavement and gravel fire roads, it's a little more shoe than I would want on a daily basis.  That being said, it has definitely earned it's place in my rotation for longer distance trail runs.

Next I'm searching for the perfect (for me) running hydration pack.  My two handheld bottles just aren't enough water for my longer runs in the North Carolina heat, and the runs are just going to keep getting longer. 

Searching around right now is leading me to the following as my top 3 thus far:

1. Gregory Miwok 18 w/Hydration bladder

2. Nathan HPL 020

3. Salomon XT Skin Pro 3

We'll see how those are once I actually get the chance to check them out in person...REI, here I come!

In the meantime, Keep Running!

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