Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Friday, 13 August 2010

Materialism is for the birds (and me, because it makes me fast)

Did you ever think you were morally and/or ethically superior to others because you were less materialistic? ... No, no, me either. I was just asking.

So, I don't buy a lot of expensive things. Partly because I lose and ruin so many things I own (which I'm trying to improve). But, I was tempted by the Devil. Actually, it was an email flyer sent to the members of our tri club saying Ecco Biom running shoes, once 1699 kr., were now on sale for 999 kr ($171). Why on earth would a running shoe cost so much, I wondered. Well, I did quite a bit of research into the subject and then found this very well-written review, which convinced me I had to at least go try them on. And then it started pouring when I biked by the store where they were on sale (Sport Master), so I needed a place to hide for a few minutes (good excuse, huh?).

Since most of you are probably already aware of this shoe, I will boil down the idea of it for the perhaps few who aren't: around 250 Danish runners' feet (Ecco is Danish brand) were analyzed by fancy computers to develop a shoe that supported and protected feet without in any way altering natural running mechanics. So all of the benefits of barefoot running, but with a shoe. And more support and comfort than a Vibram.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, I am entirely convinced that my chronic left hip injury is, if not caused, at least exacerbated by all of my previously non-properly fitting shoes (I have very narrow feet. I once explained to my grandma that I had double A width feet and she replied quite huffily, well, I had TRIPLE A when I was your age. Guess it's hereditary. The competitive spirit, too.). Anyway, when I run barefoot, I never have hip pain, I just have sole pain.

Bear with me. I would not be writing this, if these shoes were not BY FAR the best shoes I had ever run in. And you can see in this picture that they do not really resemble normal running shoes. I would take a picture of my actual shoes, but SR has the camera right now.

This picture of the heels shows best how they are different than conventional running shoes:

And here's the actual model I have (which is minus yak skin), since it was the one on sale in Sport Master.

I tried 'em out yesterday in a class which directly translates into English as "Pulse: stomach, butt, thighs". It is what it says. And the shoes were a bit slippery there, but I just wanted to break em in a bit. But then I went for a 5 mile warm up with The Lorax this morning, which was very smooth. You really don't notice they are there.

And then I went on my first 6 x 1 mile interval session in months. I had been kind of dreading it, knowing I would never just be able to hop into running my old fast times from when I was in great shape last spring. But I just had to get that first session out of the way and improve from there. But I completely shocked myself. Here were my times, with 2 min. breaks in between (note exceptions in parentheses).

6:29 (2:30 break to pee)
6:42 (I was suddenly and violently reminded why I don't eat oatmeal before intervals ... into bushes to have diarrhea in someones yard! -- sorry! ... full 2 min break once that was over)
6:46 (yes! It's over but, ... into the woods one more time due to oatmeal)

This was both my fastest and most consistent interval session EVER. And absolutely nothing hurt. I felt like I was flying. Can you blame me for wondering if my new shoes helped? They at least felt wonderful.

Just to clear things up, I have not lost weight since last spring, and may weigh slightly more (which I believe is muscle in my upper body). Could it be that pregnancy doping effect after the miscarriage?

One other strategy I have begun to employ is something I have invented called "Invar" (oh, my, I am such a geek. Sometimes I really embarrass myself). This stands for (am I really going to write this?) "Intensity and Variation". The idea is that every day, I have a very intense work out which leaves one muscle group sore, but it can't be the same muscle group two days in a row.

Here is a sample from this week:

Day 1: 4 mile run warm up, 8 mile tempo run
Day 2: 19 mile bike tempo (70:40 - beat my old record!), easy swim (I admit I did this to burn calories - bad girl!)
Day 3: 40 pool laps, alternating intervals and recovery stroke. Class: Pulse: stomach, butt, thighs)
Day 4: 5 mile run warm up, 6 x 1 mile intervals

The biggest way this helps me is I have eliminated junk running. I told my Invar plan to SR and he said he thought it would hurt my running, though he sounded mildly intrigued. Who would not be intrigued by Invar?

OMG, I have got to get to work here.

Running song of the day: Come with Me by C.E.O. (I listened to this during my entire interval set today. I can't be the only on who is comforted by repeating a song during intervals, am I?)


Diana said...

Your Invar sounds just like the weight lifting schedule I used to follow when I rowed in college. We rowed 6 days a week and lifted alternating muscle groups in the weight room about four days a week.
I'm just curious about one thing in your plan--don't you miss having a daily run? The act of running is like a daily ritual for me, and it clears my head and gets me centered. I'm not training or trying to be faster, so my goals are very different, and that obviously influences my workout activities, but I know I would sorely miss my time running even if I replaced it with swimming and biking.

P.S. You have given me shoe envy.

Ewa said...

I would not mind trying those shoes but I am afraid I might like them and the price scares me. Mesh ones here are $195 and leather even more expensive. I think I will keep on working on the barefoot thing. A bit cheaper.

SteveQ said...

I think I'm morally and ethically superior to others AND less materialistic, but not BECAUSE I'm less materialistic. Then again, I did give you a link to that hurdling photo, so maybe I'm a little deluded.

I have never spent $171 on shoes (running and street) in an entire year!

olga said...

I am NOT materialistic, but not superior to most (just some, the lazy kind:)). And I had never spent that much on a pair of running shoes, or any shoes. It helps to get free/discounted shoes:) but the most I paid full price for were $80 4 month ago for a road shoe - and I kept a box for 2 month hoping to return them and recover the money. My previous road pair lasted almost 2.5 years and was bought by a friend who worked at Nike (this deeply discounted). Weird...I pay for Bikram about $100/month these days. But yoga, like races, is an "experience" while shoes are "stuff". That's my idea, and I am sticking to it:)

Karen said...
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Karen said...

I wish my shoes looked that snazzy!!!

Just looking at your schedule makes me exhausted, but you train at a much higher level than I do. Invar sounds like it should help to not wear out any particular areas, but doesn't having one part sore the next day slow you down? I find it a little harder to run the next day (ie- the day after a brutal core workout). Maybe I'm just a wimp. :) I'm sure you'll be able to tell for yourself in a week or two.

green light said...
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green light said...

well, what a lot of your US readers don't realize is also how much more expensive shoes are in Europe. The Asics 2150, the best selling shoe in the US at MSRP $100, sells in Denmark, at the same store where you bought the Bioms for 1100 Danish Krona, and isn't that something like $180? So $171 for the Bioms isn't actually that ridiculous, relatively speaking. (PS: the shoe I recall you used to wear, the Saucony Hurricane, is MSRP $140 so even more expensive relatively).

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mmmonyka said...

Good job on mile intervals!

I am wondering...since your INVAR plan is for this week and it was only Friday when you wrote this, how many days a week you run and how many you bike or do something else?

Anonymous said...

Hey SLG -
Totally unrelated, but did I see you in a brief cameo at the start of the Dean Karnazes 50/50/50 movie?? Just wondering if it was indeed you!

- Shannon in KS

Anonymous said...


PiccolaPineCone said...

Olga/SteveQ: Whaaaaat? how many miles do you put on your shoes before replacing them? I change shoes every 1000 km but you're making me wonder if I am being too Princess and the Pea!

sea legs girl said...

We really ARE kindred spirits. Well, I missed my daily run a lot at first, but now it is sinking in how much better my runs are when I take days off between. I never thought I would be saying what I am now. Trust me! But yeah, my goal right now is actually to get faster, and I can completely respect just using running for enjoyment and stress relief.

Ewa & Green Light,

Yeah, I forgot to point out that normal running shoes here run about $150, so if one is going to buy shoes in Denmark, I really did get a good deal. :)(patting mysef on the back).

Steve Q,

I thought people who were morally and ethically superior didn't admit it! But what would I know, really?

Wow. You have good luck with cheap shoes, I guess. I can't remember the last time I bought a pair of running shoes for less than $80. I must have been in high school.

Yeah, Karen,

I found out yesterday that I absolutely needed a break. I was sore everywhere. I slept in, took a light run and took a long afternoon nap. I may find one real rest day a week is key to good training.

I will stop by. Thanks!


I'm just starting it. I still have to work out the details based on how I feel.


Wow. If I don't recall making a cameo, does that make the answer no? Was it just a shot of a runner? I will have to look up the movie and see if I can learn more. I am, however, one of those people who frequently gets mistaken for others. So, somehow I am doubting it was me :(.

PPC, agreed! I replace mine approximately every 500-600 miles, so I am a little worse than you. But I only replace them because I can tell I need to. I never write it on the calendar or anything.

SteveQ said...

@PPC: I had a pair of training shoes that I got 15000 miles of running out of, then made them walking shoes, then lawn-mowing shoes. 25000 total - around the equator. But that was unusual even for me!

It helps that recently I won a pair of shoes and that I was given a pair by someone who took up running barefoot.

Helen said...

Fun post! Definite shoe envy...!

Nice job on the intervals. Whatever the reason it's a welcome boost I'm sure.

mmmonyka said...
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olga said...

Re: miles in shoes. I don't count them. I wait till shoes fall apart (for trail shoes), or the souls deteriorate (for road shoes). Definitely over 700 miles.

sea legs girl said...

I am feeling the need to defend myself here. I wouldn't buy new shoes if I didn't start developing hip problems. When the shoes are worn out to a certain extent, the pain in the left hip starts again. It actually may vary a great deal how long a wait to change my shoes. But 600 miles is around when it usually starts happening.

Diana said...

I have to chime in that I replace my shoes between 500-600 miles, too. When I start to get knee problems and my shin splints come back, I know it's time to replace the shoes.