I realised the other day that it's been ages since my last blurb on here and to be be honest I thought it was because I hadn't had much going on in the running side of my life but when I thought about it that simply wasn't the case.
This blog post includes a health warning as it is quite long..
September - Let me hear your body talk.
During September I didn't race but I had a very solid month of running with only one day of non running. In the past I have pretty much been someone who gets out the door 4-5 times a week but having decided that I wouldn't race during that month I experimented with getting out the door daily and run based on how I felt.
Some days I was plodding along, others I backed off the mileage as I was tired and others where I felt really good so I let rip with some "run to the barn" tempo runs over hills, roads and trail but never all out hard running. It turned out to be my highest month of mileage for a long long time (229 miles). Runs varied from 4 miles to 15 miles yet the body didn't feel taxed compared to normal and yet I averaging 50-55 miles per week. A bit higher than normal for me.
I felt fitter, stronger and mentally clear everyday despite getting out pretty much everyday. I was hopeful that this would continue long into the winter months. I was in a very good place come the end of September.
October - The Body Strikes back
Unfortunately this level of consistency didn't last throughout October as I hurt my foot doing a foolish interval session with a friend early in the month. I pushed the run far to hard due to thinking I could keep up with him so I had to take some time off to rest the foot as it was too painful to run on. I tested the foot each day to see how painful things were and after a week off I got back into some short runs. During the period of time I ordered a pair of Hoka One One Bondi B shoes after hearing so much hype about them. During the first try out runs with these I had some positive opinions of them them but noticed I was working a lot harder on easy runs as they felt heavier than the shoes I normally wear and my ankles were aching a bit after each run. This was probably an adaptive phase and so I just let it go and just wanted to get out there and run.
Now I was going to do a full review of these shoes however after literally having them for only 2 weeks disaster struck again. The short of the story is that after a wet and muddy run in the Hoka's I cleaned them up and left them on my doorstep to dry out but subsequently forgot that I had left them out there! The next day I went to the office and didn't give it a thought. I then received a call from my wife who told me that one of my shoes had gone missing. It boils down to the fact that after discussing the situation with our neighbours that during the previous night a fox had carried off one of my Hoka shoes and chewed it up. I sat at my desk both shocked and in disbelief but most of all annoyed with myself that this had happened . I sat there and contemplated what to do next. I needed some new shoes as my Brooks Green silence uppers had virtually ripped apart and it was only a matter of time before my feet would be hanging out of them. What did I want to do?
Time for Change
Staring at my computer screen I remembered a conversation I had been having with Ultra runner and team Inov8 member Terry Conway over the last few weeks regarding minimalist footwear.
I had always been a fan of Inov8 having worn and completed several long races in the Roclite series and at first I considered getting another pair of either the 315 or 295's. Having talked with Terry in depth about this I made a decision that now was the time (no racing for several months) to change my whole approach to running, slowly but surely of course. With those thoughts in my head headed up to Covent Garden during my lunch hour and after much consideration and trying on different shoes I bought some Inov8 F-Lite 230's.
Terry advised me to take things slow in these as the stress on my calves would be telling if I had not run in minimalist footwear and maybe purchase some compression calf sleeves to help during the adaptation phase. During my first run in them the feel was so different to the Hoka's (of course it would be) but also very different to my Brooks Green Silence which I thought were quite minimal. The shoes felt like slippers and I was dancing across the fields in them. One thing that all minimalist runners mention is the feedback you get from the ground. In these shoes you can instantly tell whether your form is lazy, heavy or that you are pushing off rather than pulling your legs up.
Since that first run 2 weeks ago now I have gradually felt less soreness in my calves as I have been mixing up my runs in both the F-lites and Brooks shoes. Until yesterday things were going great as I had managed to get out at least 6 days a week however I have been struck down this week by a stomach bug and not managed to get out yesterday or today. I haven't got all worked up about it because rest and recovery are a vital ingredient to any running plan and I don't want to jeopardise things at the moment especially as to how things have gone the past few weeks.
The journey has just started in transitioning to minimalist footwear and I am confident that with a good dose of common sense, good health and listening to the body I will make this change permanent with the ultimate goal of running in minimalist shoes for every run in the future especially long distance adventure. It's not for everyone and I expect some criticism from some folk however I finally understand after the past 2 months that some things happen for a reason and for me this is my moment of revelation in running!
Before I leave it there I must say a big thanks to Terry and Inov-8.
Happy running folks