My friend Hari had some of his favorite running friends over for dinner a few months ago. As we stood in the kitchen, shooting the breeze while we waited for Hari’s world famous pulled pork to be ready, someone noticed a jumble of running stuff in the small pantry off the kitchen. When I say “jumble,” I really mean an overflowing waterfall of running stuff spilling from the counter. It was everywhere — and it was a MESS. After giving him a hard time for it for the next few weeks — because that’s what I do — I looked around and realized my stash of running stuff looks just as bad as Hari’s.
This is my confession.
My running stuff is not confined to one area, like Hari’s. It’s all over the place. There’s the bookshelf next to my computer that’s a jumble of office supplies, yoga DVD’s, teaching materials, yoga mats, weights, and running stuff. There’s the dining room table where I put out all the things I will need for the next day’s run. There’s the closet where I keep all my shoes, jackets, shorts, shirts, capris, tights, gloves, caps, etc to ensure I’m warm/cool/dry enough for any type of weather or season. And there’s the dresser drawer where I keep all my socks. Yes, three-fourths of an entire drawer of socks — thin socks, toe socks, trail socks, and thick trail socks. And I won’t go into depth about the TEN pairs of Nike Frees I bought on sale last year that are stacked up along the floor of my closet.
Don’t get that snooty look on your face. I know I’m not alone. I bet your place looks just as overrun with running items as mine.
MON: Recovery – OUCH. My quads are very sore from yesterday’s half marathon.
TUE: Recovery – Still sore. Too sore for yoga even.
WED: Recovery – Just a little residual soreness in the quads, but I have a headache, so I’m taking another rest day and not feeling an ounce of guilt for doing so.
THU: Easy Run – 5 mi – Yoga – 20:00 – I thought I was just being lazy for not running yesterday, but my quads were still pretty sore on my run this morning, especially the left one. It was cold (37 deg) and Liz and I had to keep slowing ourselves down. We ran negative splits and finished off much faster than either of us really wanted to. I have to admit that it feels kind of awesome to be running so fast again. Enjoyed some forward bends afterwards and hoping it will help with the quads.
FRI: Yoga – 35:00 – Since my quads were still sore yesterday, and I have two long runs this weekend, I decided to do some easy yoga and take a running rest day.
SAT: Long Run – 13 mi – It was SO COLD on our run this morning. 32 degrees at the start with an icy cold wind to boot. My fingertips were frozen the entire run. Nevertheless, it was still a good run — despite the trauma of having our start time pushed back to 6:30am, UGH — and we kept a good pace. I am going to appreciate every single cold run from now on because I know these days are numbered. (I really could have done without that cold wind, though!)
SUN: Trail Run – Rowlett Creek Preserve – 11 mi – A gorgeous morning for both a trail run and a birthday. The weather was perfect, and we had a nice group running with us. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an extended trail run with my friend Hari, so it was nice to spend the morning on the trails with him. Afterwards, breakfast at Hubbards with some of the group, and a quiet birthday at home. It was nice to take some time off this week from running to recover and to run a semi-long trail run to cap off the week.
Stats for WEEK 8: Run – 29 miles, Yoga – 55:00
Well, I didn’t really get mugged, but it was awfully warm and muggy outside for my runs this week. And my wallet did kind of get mugged because I just dished out a lot of money for some new running shoes.
After being so sore from Sunday’s 10.5 miler I had to take an extra rest day on Tuesday. I ran in the morning on Wednesday when it was still fairly cool (75 degrees) and slightly overcast but, man, was it humid. On Thursday I thought I’d mix things up and run in the evening. It was just as gross. I guess I forgot that I live in north Texas.
One thing that did make the runs extra special fun is that I got to wear a brand new pair of shoes. They’re the same brand I’ve worn for the past two years (Nike Free), but are an older version (3.0). I was ecstatic when I found them on sale online.
I had just about given up on finding any of the old versions, and was starting to get desperate since I definitely do not like the new Free Run. Too much arch, too thick of a sole, and wider than the previous versions, especially in the toe box.
I hate changes like that, when someone feels the need to change something that doesn’t need to be fixed. I have a narrow foot and have always struggled with finding shoes that fit right, especially in the heel. The Frees fit me perfectly. Also, I love how they are seamless. And so light.
So I did some online research and discovered that Nike does still offer the 5.0 version, but only in the ID version. Which means you get to customize them, choosing your colors and laces, and even having your name or logo printed on the tongue. Of course you pay for it, and what once used to be an expensive $90 for a pair of cheaply made minimal shoes now costs $130 for the same product.
At first I resorted to digging out an old pair from two years ago that probably have more than 600 miles on them and had been relegated to the back of my closet. Then I found the older version online. Extra bonus: they accepted my running group’s 15% discount.
And I did celebrate my birthday two weeks ago, so I felt justified in making a small purchase.
I channeled Imelda Marcos (though I’m pretty sure Nike’s weren’t her style) and bought four pairs. Then a few days later I saw the pink version was on sale for even cheaper, so I ordered four more pairs.
I just bought EIGHT PAIRS of running shoes!
Okay, so I may have some latent hoarding tendencies. I admit that I don’t like running out of something, like shampoo, or soap, or running shoes (apparently). I always have a backup. And I’m very organized. I was a teacher!
Anyway, it’s not hoarding, it’s stocking up for the running shoe apocalypse. It’s gonna happen.
This is proof positive that I need help. But at least I’ll always have running shoes that fit.
I’m not sure how many years I can stretch out these last eight pairs of Nike Free 3.0’s, and how I’ll cope when that final pair bites the asphalt, but I’ve got awhile before I have to deal with it.
One day last week I decided to run without a plan. I wanted to break free from the marathon training plan and just run, as in head out the door with no preplanned route, no watch, no idea of where I wanted to go, how far, how long, and how fast. It had been so long since I had done this, and less than six weeks out from the marathon the idea of running without a plan actually made me somewhat nervous.
Just to change up the game plan, I even wore a running skirt.
Of course I couldn’t leave the Garmin home (I wanted to know my distance), but I did take a completely new route. Since our house is just a mile or so from downtown, we’re completely surrounded by very busy roads. Depending on the time of day, crossing these very busy roads means either playing Frogger with traffic or playing it safe and waiting forever at the traffic lights. In my neighborhood, it’s not always so easy to simply head out the front door and start running, but it’s not impossible either.
The cooler temperatures call my name these days, and now that fall is in the air all I want to do is hit the pavement. After complaining all summer long about how hot it was (hottest summer on record!) I feel I owe it to the Weather Gods to get outside and enjoy these beautiful blue sky days. We might still have green leaves on the trees for another month or so, but it is nevertheless officially fall, and I plan to celebrate that.
The run also coincided with a new version of the running shoes I wear, and I was hoping they hadn’t changed them too much. I used to wear another brand, but my feet were not happy with the new version that came out, and was part of the reason I switched over to something more minimal in the first place. That, and a bad case of plantar fasciitis.
I didn’t notice any difference between the old shoes and the new ones, other than the color. They felt slightly roomier, but not enough to make a difference.
So I set out. I ran down past the fire station and kept going up towards the lake. At the last minute I decided to head north instead of going to the lake, where I run all the time, and take a completely different route. I hardly looked at the Garmin. I passed walkers with dogs and mothers with strollers, and a few runners who nodded hello as we passed each other. Everyone was happy to be outdoors. I wondered if anyone else was running without a plan.
When I got to 2.5 miles I decided to turn around and head home. I didn’t want to go too far since I was running 16 early the next morning.
There were no mountains or rivers or forests on my run, just a lot of paved roads through a pretty, urban neighborhood. But running without a plan was nice for a change. It gave me a chance to be alone with my thoughts, and most of them were thoughts of how fortunate I am to be healthy and active. Pace was irrelevant. The run was a good reminder of what running is really all about: body and mind working together, in tandem, doing what it was meant to do.
No plan needed.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about staying in the present moment, and I was cognizant of that as I ran back towards the house. Rather than worry about how much farther I had to go, and look at the watch constantly to check my pace, I tried to stay right where I was–just running. The miles behind me were already done, and the ones ahead of me were out of reach. All I had to do was focus on running the next step, then the next, over and over, and not worry about what was to come or what had already happened.
So I guess running is nothing more than a metaphor for life. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, over and over, and stay present in the moment. If the miles were tough leading up to the present, you try not to let them hold you back. You wouldn’t go back to run them over again anyway. There are still miles to be run, but you don’t worry about them. You know you’ll get there eventually. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and get the job done.
And plan or no plan, you do get the job done, every run, every day.
Feet are a runner’s best friend. I was going to say shoes, but know that a lot of people don’t run in shoes these days. Plus, if there’s something wrong with your feet, chances are it will affect how you run. Common sense, right?
When I first started running I was told that I needed a new pair of shoes every 500 miles. This sounded good to me, and I’m not one to argue about having to buy a new pair of shoes, so I started tracking my shoe mileage. A few years later, when I had some minor foot issue, everyone told me that 500 miles was too much, that I needed a new pair every 300 miles. This sounded even better, and I religiously started getting new shoes once I hit the 300 mile mark.
Then I met Michael.
Michael tends to not believe anything anyone tells him at face value. Anytime he hears the word “should” he pretty much goes out of his way to do the opposite.
This should be evident by looking at his running shoes.
Neither one of us is sure how long he’s owned this pair of running shoes. There was another pair before these that he bought when we first met, but they have long since bit the dust. The pictured pair have been around a long time. Obviously.
Granted, Michael doesn’t run long distances. A former triathlete and half Ironman, he doesn’t enjoy running long like I do. He tends to run 3-6 miles here and there, whenever he feels like it, and he’s happy with that.
I’ve also always read that you never wear your running shoes for anything but running, and you need to let them “rest” for a day to let the cushioning go back to its optimal shape. Which means you should have two pairs of shoes and alternate them. Michael has one pair of running shoes and wears them for just about everything but work. In addition to running in them, he walks the dogs, works in the garden, mows the grass, AND plays touch rugby every Sunday morning in them.
In essence, he’s broken every shoe rule you can break in those shoes.
When I switched over to wearing Nike Frees two years ago, I wondered if the old 300 mile rule applied to this type of shoe as well. They are decidedly more minimal than the Asics I used to wear, and I suspect they only need to be changed when the soles really start to wear down. I generally tend to change them anyway around 350-400 miles or so, and haven’t noticed any difference or problems.
All of this makes me wonder if the 300 mile rule is a bunch of hooey? Is this merely an arbitrary number the shoe manufacturers have come up with to convince us it’s time to peel off the bills, or do injuries increase with more mileage on the shoes?
As for Michael, we finally got him a bright and shiny new pair of shoes this week. Let’s see how long it takes before they look like the old pair.