Monday, November 11, 2013

Running (an) experiment

I’ve also decided to start experimenting with some new footwear this off-season, so that I can (hopefully) roll into 2014 with a bit more confidence. I’ve been running in Brooks Trance shoes for years now, and while they’ve gone a long way toward minimizing injury over the years, they definitely haven’t been perfect.

Before I get into any specifics, I should mention that regardless of the shoes I'm running in, I always swap in custom insoles/orthodics that are intended to help support my pancake-flat feet. It's been a few years since the molds were made, so I might try to get a new set in December or January.

Anyway, on to the shoes.

"Hello better."

Kristine and Alex have been ranting and raving about their Newton running shoes for a while now. Both of their stories are incredibly compelling: their knee problems seemed to vanish after just a few runs! I picked up a pair of my own last week: the Newton Sir Isaac S model, which is a more transitional shoe and features some extra posting to help counteract my natural tendencies as an extreme overpronator.

I’ve put about twenty miles into the shoes at this point, so the jury’s still out… but it’s definitely going to be an adjustment. I don't feel like I'm running "on the lugs" as I'm supposed to; it's been a few runs, but a wear pattern is starting to form about an inch behind the lugs. Sure, that's mid-foot... but I think Mr. Newton wants me to strike a bit closer to my forefoot. I’m also feeling some IT band soreness... in order to be successful in these Newtons, I’m really going to have to strengthen my left leg’s kinetic chain.

"Time to fly."

If there’s one brand out there that’s piqued my curiosity even more than Newton, it’s Hoka One One. These shoes the shoes are enormous and alien, but deceptively light and incredibly comfortable. I picked up a pair of these, too, and I’ll be giving them as fair a shake as I can.

My impression of the Hokas after a few runs is... wow, it really is like running on clouds. They do feel incredibly light (lighter than the Newtons!) and all of the cushion really makes me feel like I’m floating down the road. The fit of these shoes is less than ideal, however; they’re incredibly roomy and I’m forced to really clinch the laces down tight to keep my foot from moving around. I may actually head back to the store and investigate a size down…

Hello experiment!

All this being said, I really couldn't care less about the brand or the road feel of any shoe I wear so long as they keep me from getting hurt, so I think I’ll continue alternating between these two until one of them wins me over. I’m going to put 'em through their paces and I'll report back with a more in-depth review/comparison.

Where the Newton shoes strive to push me toward a drastic modification of my current stride, the Hokas seem to be more tailored to the way I already run. But again, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing -- I probably want to modify my stride a bit!

At the same time, I’ve got to start working on the flip-side of my off-season improvement plan: core strength via yoga and pilates! More to come!