Archive for February 16, 2010

Sometimes it is the simple things in life that make you smile.  A baby discovering that they can in fact fit their entire foot in their mouth, the Hot Now sign on outside of a Krispy Kreme or the way your dog greets you at the door after a long day of work like you are the most important person in the world.

For an early morning runner like myself – there are a lot of great ones.  Coming around a curve on a trail and being greeted by a group of deer.  Seeing the sunrise as I’m heading east on my run.  Just last week I saw an early morning beaver making their way back to the dam on the old ranch land that I train on.  But one of my all-time favorites is the first run in a new pair of shoes.

Now for me over the last five years that has meant the first run in essentially an identical pair of shoes than the ones I had retired.  Aside from annual changes made by the manufacturer I have been running in essentially the same shoe since 2005.  I have loyally gone through each product enhancement in the Asics Gel Nimbus line moving through the Gel Nimbus VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and XI’s.  Well over 5,000 miles all in the same shoes.

But this morning as I laced up for my morning 4-mile recovery run it was literally the dawn of a new day.  Run for Dom meet the Asics Gel Kinetic.

Asics Gel Kinetic II

What made me change?  As I have been increasing my training intensity since suffereing shin splint issues in December I have been trying to analyze everything about my training.  I have been looking for any possible edge that will allow me to continue to train hard, but make sure I show up at the Boston Marathon 100% healthy.   With only 12 days of recovery time before a second cross country flight to the race at Pittsburgh, I know I need to start recovering from the first of two marathons virtually right after coming through the chute in Boston.

The healthier I wake up on April 20th the better off I will be 12 days later.  I know that taking care of my feet, legs, hips and back will be critical to a strong performance in the second of my two marathons.  Lately during my strength training sessions I have noticed that any of the soreness that I have experienced in my feet after a tough run has lingered while I am lifting weights.  I think part of the reason is the fact that I essentially take of my running shoes, shower, then put on a virtually identical pair to spend another hour in while working out.  Same shoe, same model, the only difference being is that pair I am cross-training in had reached its 300 mile retirement age and had been set aside for strength training.

I’ve said in the past that sticking with a formula that you know is successful is very sound strategy for a distance runner.  I remain a firm believer in that strategy as essentially the training for the sport is deeply rooted upon repetition.  But by wearing the same shoe over and over any “hot-spots” that I may have on the bottoms of my feet, toes or lower ankle area were not getting a break from the pressure points my running shoes were applying.

I was very reluctant to change shoes as I have been running and training basically injury free for many years – again, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  The other thing that I like most about the Gel Nimbus series of shoe from Asics is that for me I can literally pull a pair of size 9 D width shoes out of the box, lace up and run.  No break-in period, no worries, no problems.  That is a great, great thing.  In fact for my actual marathon racing shoes I typically run only my final 8-mile long run the week before the race in my new shoes just to make sure there were no issues or deformities inside and then box them back up for race day.

But Monday while at Sports Authority replenishing my Body Glide supply I saw a “Godfather Ad”.  They made me an offer I could not refuse – $60 off a pair of Asics Gel Kinetic II’s.  The good news is that the shoes were $60 off … the bad news is they were still $99.  Now, no matter what kind of runner you are that is a lot of dough, but if not now, when?

So I chose to look at it as a great deal on a pair of shoes and not worry about the real question I have about making the switch.  What if I really like them?  Had I crossed over to a new level of crazy?  I’m not sure there can be that many levels left.

So how did it go this morning on the maiden voyage?  I have to admit – I really liked them.  The key difference between the Kinetic line and the Nimbus line appears to be the level of cushioning in the heel of the shoe.   The Kinetic really seems to have increased stability and cushioning in the rear of the shoe that the manufacturer claims improves mechanics and a wider platform to drive from your heel forward.  I have always thought that the Gel Nimbus was a really plush “ride” so to speak – but after only a few strides I could really feel a difference in the Kinetic.

It was only a quick recovery run this morning at a relatively easy pace – but I did like the way my heel felt on the ground-strike and how stable my foot would feel driving onto my next stride.  I plan on placing the Kinetics into my weekly shoe rotation and running my 12-miler a week from this Sunday in the shoe. 

Click here to read about proper shoe rotation:

For this week’s 17-miler we’ll stick with our reliable Gel Nimbus XI’s as a training run more than 2 hours in length is not the time to experiment with new equipment.

I can see why there are fans of the Kinetic out there – we might just have to call around to a few more Sports Authorities and see how long this sale will last, because after all – it’s gotta be the shoes.