I never mentioned it in my race report for the Maine Marathon, but the night before my wife and I went to the expo to pick up my race packet and also to see what cool stuff was on display. If I remember correctly, there was four footwear tents set up: Brooks, New Balance, Vibram and Mizuno. Coincidentally, the expo was the same day as the release date for the new Brooks Pure line. I had been wanting to try out the new Brooks Pure Connect (road) and Grit (trail) so this ended up being the perfect opportunity. I also got the chance to try out the New Balance Minimus Road shoes at their tent, another shoe I’d been hoping to check out for a while. Anyways, just wanted to share my initial thoughts based on my brief experience with them.
I was excited to try out what I thought could be my next shoe after the Brooks Green Silence and interestingly, I had been coming very close to ordering a pair without ever having tried them on. After testing them at the expo however, I’m VERY glad I tried them out first. They’re nice light shoes and are flexible, like a minimalist shoe should be, but they have these pod-like things on the sole that you can feel with your feet. I believe the idea is that they only have sole thickness in spots where you would make contact the most with your foot to cut down on weight, but they feel very strange under your feet. I think I prefer the flat sole of the Green Silence (or the NB Minimus…see below.) I don’t have any plan to buy the Connect at this point, but in the future if I could get them really cheap, I guess I’d give them more of a chance to prove what they’re all about.
Originally, I didn’t have much desire to try out the Pure Grit, as I was focused on road running since the marathon was the next day. However, after trying out the Connect and realizing it wasn’t for me, the Pure Grit piqued my interest because the sole was more uniform and didn’t have any pod-like-ness to it. Currently I’m running trails in the New Balance MT101’s, so this shoe was quite a bit difference. The most obvious differences when putting it on were the squishy-ness of the sole and the flexibility. There isn’t a big offset between the heel and toe, but the sole could scare away some of the more hardcore minimalist runners out there. The shoe was very comfortable and while I didn’t give it much of a rigorous test in a school gym, I’m now very interested in buying a pair to rotate with my MT101’s.
After trying out the Brooks Pure shoes, I figured I should test out the New Balance Minimus road shoes while I had the chance. These ended up being everything I was expecting from the Brooks Pure Connects. The sole is uniform and flat, which is my preference (similar to Green Silence.) However, it was more flexible and there is less of a heel-toe offset than my current Brooks. I really like the feel of this shoe and could definitely see myself buying a pair to put into rotation in the future.
Patagonia Pau Shoe Review [Running and Rambling] – Another minimalist dress shoe option to consider if you're in the market for some.
Are Stretching and Warmups Overrated? [Mark's Daily Apple] – I think at this point it's almost a given that static stretching before a workout is not beneficial (and can be detrimental) but in case you weren't aware. I prefer a little stretching post-workout and that's it!
Born to Run [FORA tv] – Video featuring Christopher McDougall, Dan Lieberman, John Durant, Barefoot Ted and Peter Sarsgaard, talking about the book Born to Run.
This past Sunday I ran my second (and longest) trail run ever…the Lil’ Rhody Runaround 8-Miler at Burlingame State Park in Rhode Island. Here are some of the highlights below. Make sure to click the image to the right for a couple other pictures from the day.
Finished with a time of 1:04:46, which was good enough for 98th place out of 298. My 8:06 min/mile pace was WAY faster than my pace in my last/first trail run!
Although slightly longer than Bimbler’s Bash, I’d consider this course almost a Bimbler’s Jr. The hills weren’t quite as bad, the trails not quite as rough, and the one spot where you had to use your hands to climb a rock pile wasn’t nearly as crazy as the one in Bimbler’s!
It’s tough getting used to trail races with a lot of single track. Unless you’re willing to run through the leaves and dodge trees on the side of the trail, it’s tough to pass people sometimes without seeming at least a little bit rude.
I killed it on the downhills! Maybe I have less regard for my life…or maybe my foot/reaction speed is just better than some of the others, but the downhills were where I passed a lot of people and put them far in my rear-view mirror.
This was the first time I raced with my Nathan Speed 2 Waistpack, which was very handy considering their was only one water stop at the half-way mark! In my previous trail race, I didn’t bring a water bottle at all and it was rough. It seemed that most of the other runners didn’t bring any fluids though, which seemed odd to me. If it was an 8 mile road race, I would think tons of people would at least have hand-held water bottles.
Overall, it was a great race and I’ll most likely be doing it again next year!
This weekend I had originally planned to run the first marathon of my life, but due to a wedding and moving into a new house this summer, my training got a bit sidetracked. However, I didn’t want to completely blow off the race (especially since I had already paid for it!) so I changed my registration to the more realistic half-marathon variation. The Amica Half-Marathon on Sunday in Newport, RI will now be my fourth half-marathon…not too shabby.
Anyways, I haven’t posted in a while, so let me just get caught up a bit. Since this summer, every time I’ve tried to run a substantial distance, my PT tendon issues have come back to haunt me. I had been running in my VFF Sprints for a while and was starting to wonder if they were A) not helping or B) furthering along the issue.
So since I was between races, I decided to switch over to more trail running to see if the problems still occurred. I had a pair of New Balance MT100‘s that I put some decent mileage on and more recently bought the upgraded MT101’s as well. I’m actually using an arch support insert in them as well to see if that helps the PT tendon. Since I’ve been doing primarily 3-4 mile runs, it’s hard to really tell if running trails with these shoes is helping the PT tendon issue, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting it any further.
Since I’ve been running in the shoes with a minimally raised heel for a while now and the half-marathon kind of crept up on me this weekend, I was a little nervous about going straight to the VFFs. I ordered some new Brooks Green Silence to see how they would work out for some road running and just got them this week. After a trial run in them yesterday, they seemed to work pretty well. I also had the insert in them to help with the PT tendon. I plan to run the race this weekend in them as well (probably not as broken in as I’d like though!) so hopefully that goes well.
One thing I’ve noticed while trail running and running in the Green Silence’s is that my form has definitely changed from running in the VFFs. I’m running mostly with a mid-foot strike these days, with a bit of heel/fore-foot striking mixed in. I’m hoping that with this improved form, running in any type of footwear should be a bit better on the joints, etc.
In the end, all I want to do is run! My new goal is to run a full marathon at some point next year and whatever footwear allows me to reach that goal without rupturing my PT tendon is probably what I’ll end up wearing. Maybe a couple weeks break over the winter will allow the tendon to fully heal so that I can return to my VFFs, but only time will tell. I guess at this point the “Barefoot” moniker can probably be discarded until I get back to true barefoot running. However, I am sticking to shoes that are fairly minimalist and plan to keep it that way, so my return to real minimalist running shouldn’t be too traumatic when the time comes
I’ll try to get a race report up on Sunday after the race, depending on how I’m feeling.