Sunday, November 16, 2008

What to do with the shoe

ORN, Saturday: 20.7 miles, R2/W1 (mostly), 3:57:44, 11:30/mile

The long run three weeks ahead of a marathon is intended, among other things, as a final shake down for race day. Yesterday’s long run (intended to be 28 miles) fit that description but not all as I anticipated.

The good news was I did a final, satisfactory test of Salt Stick tablets. I popped one at the top of each hour. They sat just fine on my stomach and I had no cramping, wooziness or tingles in my feet as I do when I start to lose electrolyte balance. They will be quite simple to haul along on race day. I also reaffirmed my geeky practice of labeling Gu packs, mistake-proofing the time to eat each one.

I also had two cool “unexpected” fun parts to the run. The first was an active screech owl prowling one of the woods I run through. Wow, what a sight and sound. The second was seeing fast runners. The NCAA Regional Cross Country championships were going on at 11am Saturday at the Purdue Cross Country course, right next to the trail I run on. The timing was such that women’s teams from Indiana, Miami (OH), Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin were warming up on the trail just as I came through. What a contrast…these young, tiny, graceful, fluid college runners next to the big, lumbering 55 year-old slow guy. Ah, but we were all running and that was cool.

But the big news of the run is about shoes.

Nearly two years ago, I came to grips with my floppy, overpronating feet and shifted my shoe to the huge, clunky and very effective Brooks Beast. After moving to that shoe in February, 2007, I’ve had virtually no problems with my knees. I’ve gone through five pairs and just recently received my sixth pair.

And thus the problem.

Pair #6 was the “new model” of the Beast. Same general look but when I first put them on, I knew they were different. The sole was different, the posts were different and in my early short runs in the new shoes I just didn’t feel the same stiffness. The first five pairs worked wonderfully (and hard) to keep my 195 pound frame from inwardly rolling my feet on every step. They kept my IT band lined up and happy.

Saturday’s long run was the first lengthy outing in pair #6. The first ten miles went fine but as I headed out on the (intended) loop around Purdue, I noticed a twinge in my right knee. Will it go away, as it often does after a few run/walk cycles? It didn’t. It gradually got worse. At mile 17, I realized it wasn’t going to get better. So I shortened the course, heading back home. Around mile 19, I throttled the cycle from 2/1 to 1/1 and held that all the way home. But the left knee now hurt and continued to hurt all day. As I write this on Sunday, they feel better, but I won’t know for sure until I head out on Tuesday to run again.

In the short term, I’m OK on shoes through the Memphis Marathon on Dec 6. This due to a nice bit of advice from David Haywood as we sat in a hotel lobby the night before the Rocket City Marathon a year ago. David described for me his method of alternating shoes, always having a higher mileage shoe and a newer pair on hand at all times. I started doing that early this year and, as a result, I have my pair #5 of “good” Beasts which will serve me well through most of December. Luckily, on Sunday afternoon, I did a quick tour of the local sporting goods stores and found ONE PAIR of the old model at one store in my size. And on discount, as they wanted to move them out. So, I’m set through March 2009 or so.

But what to do beyond that?? I’m thinking I need to find out what other really good stability shoes are out there and then get somewhere to give them a good test run. I’m just a long way from a good running store, so “shopping” is a hassle. I recall from my trip to the Naperville Running Company in 2007 there was a pair of Asics that were very close to the Beast. I’ll have to check that out.

And I welcome advice from any of you.

In the overall scheme of things, this is a minor blip. If I was talking to a guy who just lost his job in the recession or was looking down the barrel at foreclosure or had a major health problem, I’d feel pretty sheepish carrying on about the subtleties of shoe design. So take this bit of chatting for what it is…just some thinking out loud to folks who can understand the criticality of shoes for injury prevention. The fact that I can go out and run 20 miles, even in bad shoes, is a huge gift. And it is those simple gifts that sustain us.

Persevere. With or without stability shoes.


Anonymous said...

it's the Asics Evolution. Give me a call at the store, I may be able to find some of the old model of Beast for you.
Owner, Naperville Running Company

Backofpack said...

I'm having the same type problem with Asics - the 2120 was perfect for me. A minor change in the 2130 gave me blisters in a whole new area on a run that wasn't even five miles! I bought up lots of 2120s, but now they are getting hard to find. So I bought a new Nike - comfortable, wore them walking in DC, wore them for a few five milers. All good. Wore them for a ten miler and my feet ached for two days after! Now I've got to get back out there and get on the hunt for a suitable substitute. I'm only covered for about a month!

Lots of bloggers commenting on how minor our complaints are compared to what they could be these days. I'm glad we are all aware of how this fits into the grand scheme.

David said...

I know a few folks who've lost jobs but not much else. I fear the unknown of budget bleeding myself.

On a more familiar note, I am also a victim of shoe design change in the Asics Gel Kayano. I have taken the approach that there must be another shoe out there that was "close" once before and hope it's changed too - closer to my preferred fit. In he meantime, I'm adding miles to my high mileage rotation of older Kayanos.
Sounds like Kris has your back. Good man.

Darrell said...

Bummer about the shoe. Thankfully you can usually find the older ones on one of the myriad of online shoe retailer, including on ebay.

I love the idea of marking the gu's. I'm a terrible calcualtor on the run. My first thought was that is sure a lot of gu. That would get me through two or three long runs.

Thanks for the bit of perspective. I seem to be loosing sight of it all to often these days. Looking forward to TN.

Anonymous said...

Glad to know my method of rotating shoes has worked for you. Hope the knee is not damaged....less than three weeks to Memphis.

Wes said...

I also believe properly breaking in new shoes is a must. The discount internet sites usually have the older models on sale. I wonder if these shoe companies realize how many people they lose as customers when they "improve" these shoes. I was just grateful that Mizuno didn't change the sole of my shoe this year. It matched last years model exactly.

Pat said...

someone needs to start and make a killing. Glad you found a pair of the old Beasts, I'd let Kris get me as many as possible.

Good luck on your next marathon.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Joe- so funny about labeling the Gu's. In Portland this year my Garmin battery died. Mustv'e been turned on in my bag. I didn't think I'd remember when to take my gels or S caps. I borrowed a pen and wrote the multiples of 4 on my arm so I would know which mile markers to take a gel and S cap at! It worked! I hear ya on the shoes. I'd search the internet and buy up all I could find of the model you like. That's what I did with the Brooks Adrenaline 6's. I loved them, hated the 7's and think the 8's are okay.

Sarah said...

I'm chuckling at the pic of your labeled Gu! : ) Good luck with your shoe search. That's always a bummer when they change a good thing.

Unknown said...

I have yet to understand the thought process that shoe companies go through when changing a good and perhaps the best shoe on the market in a certain category. I think the Beast fits that bill as well as the Asics that Michelle and David are talking about. I am glad that Brooks has not ruined the GTS yet. I am glad to hear you found another pair to get you through until March.

Bob A said...

Same problem with Etonic's Jepara SC (stability-control). I loved them -- used 4 pair, getting 650-725 miles out of each pair (no, that's not a typo and I'm not a light-weight runner). Etonic changed some things with the updated Jepara 2 SC and I do not like them. I had searched for the old ones online and din't find them. But, before I posted this comment, I decided to check again and, Kumbe! (Swahili for Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!), I found that Sierra Trading Post actually has them at a good price in my size -- I ordered 2 pair. Maybe you'll eventually find your shoes.