November 16, 2010

Pulled the trigger

I bought a new pair of running shoes today. I wasn't going to. I told myself when I bought the Vibrams I would use them all winter, and be ready for a barefoot season next year. I planned to purchase the Vibram Bikila before the snow started to fly, as they have more tread than the KSOs my closest Vibrams dealer had in stock.
                           KSO                                      Bikila
I haven't run much in the KSOs, mainly because I've been focused on next weekend's half marathon. There was no way I had time to get my Vibram or barefoot mileage up to match either my weekday or weekend runs. I tried to throw a mile in here and there, but that didn't happen as often as I'd hoped.

Meanwhile, I've been running in my Asics 2150s.
Asics 2150 - my current shoe
This is the 2nd pair of 2150s I've worn, and while the last pair (a smaller, woman's version) was better, I do not believe it is the shoe for me. This particular pair is a full size larger than my normal walking shoe. The idea at the time was to give my toe room, so it didn't rub and hurt. The larger shoe did not solve this problem. What it did was give me a clunky, heavy shoe with a rigid sole. It has arch support, which I do not believe I need, and also happens to have a very high heel. I'm not certain this shoe is the cause of my knee pain. What I am certain of is, when I took them off on Saturday's run, the knee pain went away. Not immediately, but quickly.

I started thinking about a new pair of shoes several weeks ago, soon after I signed up for the February 15K trail run. I did not believe I could get my Vibram or barefoot mileage up to 15K by mid-February. I wanted something more comfortable; a shoe that fit, with a more flexible sole. Maybe something like the Nike Free. I didn't want to buy just a race shoe, though. I wanted something I could train in. I also did not want to put the big bucks into a shoe I would wear out in a month or two.

It is possible my Asics are the perfect shoe for trail running. Trail shoes are supposed to have sturdy soles, to protect feet from roots and sharp rocks. I just don't enjoy running in them. Saturday's run was the last straw. While I believe my inability to walk yesterday was the direct result of running 2.5 miles barefoot, my knee was considerably more comfortable without the shoes. If I'd built up to that 2.5 miles more gradually, I believe I would not have had the issues I did.

So I went out to Fleet Feet today and purchased a pair of Saucony Kinvaras.
Aren't they pretty?
I asked the sales person for a shoe with a flexible sole and a low heel, that I can use for training and racing. I added the low heel because I still intend to transition into Vibrams and barefoot running. I just can't build the requisite ankle and calf muscles fast enough for the races I've already entered. The Kinvaras are very comfortable, very light, and exactly what I asked for.

When I came home I Googled Saucony Kinvara, and found Pete's review over at Runblogger. I read Pete regularly, and had forgotten he wore this shoe for his recent BQ (the male version, which does not come in pink!). Pete mentions something else I'd conveniently forgot. I may not be able to run these in Sunday's race. I was hopeful, if I ran the week in them, they would be serviceable Sunday. With the lower heel, this will probably not be the case. I may not even be able to run in them all week, and be capable of running 13.1 miles Sunday! Not if my calf and ankle soreness from this past Saturday is any indication.

I am anxious to take these babies on the road, but with continued ankle, calf, and knee issues, I decided not test them out tonight. The ankles and calves are just very stiff at this point, so extensive stretching tonight and in the morning should hopefully solve that problem. Tomorrow I will certainly get at least a couple miles in, before rock climbing with The Energizer Bunny. If the ankle and calf issues persist Thursday, I will switch back to the Asics and consider them my race shoe this weekend. I have a bit of time between Sunday and February 13, to mainstream the Sauconys and further the Vibram/barefoot program.

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