Monday, March 5, 2007

Balancing speed & distance

I've already mentioned that a week or so after the Woodside 50k I went to the track and couldn't run faster than 6:27/mile. This was a wakeup call that my mix of training needs to change and focus more on speed. But a few weeks  after this I ran 37 miles and pretty much beat any fast twitch fibers out of my legs.

This last saturday we were visiting Laguna Beach and I ran 10 hilly miles in 1:20:00 in the morning. Then I ran 8 hilly miles in the same time with a fast finish in the afternoon with Scott White.  I'm not advocating dropping long runs  over 20 miles but limiting the slogfest 5+ hour runs and alternating tempo 20+ mile runs one weekend with a double day of the same mileage would make for better recovery and not limit fast twitch muscle recruitment.

Saga of the Orthotic Search

It all started with overtraining for a marathon whose start line I never
crossed. I was training for the Silicon Valley Marathon when I took four
days off from training and everything else to vacation in Vermont and
attend a friend's wedding. I returned to what was eventually diagnosed
as achilles tendinosis in my right leg.

What to do? It was October and too close to the marathon to heal and
have any sort of race so I embarked on physical therapy. I did?lt run
for about five weeks. Then it became clear that PT wasn't helping.
Soreness was gone but still couldn't run in Nike Air Structure Triax or
Supernova Control without pain. I finally took control of my own
recovery and started experimenting with superfeet.

I bought a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire's and ran with a combination of
blue and black superfeet. I finally found that blue SF on the right and
plain factory insoles in the left worked great. It took about 5 runs to
work through the combinations but it paid off. I ran pain free (knock on
wood) from November through to a successful 50K in February 07.

Running with only one orthotic was troubling. My right leg felt great on
long runs and my left was just a degree or two from perfect. It bears
noting that I ran my long trail runs and the race in the Wave Ascend
which is best described as a torsionally rigid neutral trail shoe. My
left leg went numb for about a mile during the 50K but without loss of
power. In December I went to see a podiatrist recommended by a friend
and got fitted for orthotics. I didn't receive the orthotics until mid
January so I decided not to train with them until after the race.

Race completed successfuly and now the same combination of Wave Inspire
and blue superfeet (right foot only) is causing shin and knee pain.
Different model for the Inspire and this could be part of the problem. I
also have more than just casual pain in my left leg running in the Wave
Ascend without an orthotic.

Soooo... Back to the test matrix. Thursday 3/1 I ran with a waist pack
full of orthotics and ran successfully in the Adidas Supernova Trail, a
moderate stability shoe, with black superfeet in each shoe. This is
probably the right combination finally, moderate stability and moderate
support in the black SF.

Last week I ran some tempo with the Wave Rider and my custom orthotics.
Wave Rider has even less stability than it used to so I was fooled by
history. But it is such a comfy shoe I couldn't resist. The run was
moderately successful. There was too much wind to run consistent tempo
but my legs felt well aligned and smooth. My knees were sore after the
run which could be the orthotics or the lack of stability in the shoes.

In general is feels like the right custom orthotic is a great fit but
that the arch in the left is too high. It would be worth trying the
Supernova Trail and the Wave Inspire with the custom orthotics now that
i'm recovered from the last two long outings.

Lessons learned:

A moderate stability shoe with a smooth heelstrike and good cushioning
would provide the best foundation for orthotics.

If I can get the custom orthotics dialed in I should be set. I just need
to test them out again.

Mizuno is good but Wave Inspire might have too much stability. Nike
Structure Triax is soft but has a poor heel to toe transition. Might
try Brooks or Saucony. Asics just feels blah. Until Adidas improves the
Supernova Control itls off my list.

Thomas Clarke, PMP
IT Program Manager
Network Appliance