Posts Tagged by Brooks Running

Find Your Strong with Saucony Virrata

There has been a ton of hype around the minimalist running movement lately and I must say I’ve been intrigued.  I have friends who swear by their Vibrams or lightweight 0 mm drop shoes, so there must be something to this.  I’ve been fitted for running shoes numerous times and a minimalist shoe has never been recommended for me.  Maybe it’s because of my weight, my gait or how I pronate…I never really asked and I haven’t been steered wrong so I went with what was recommended.

Virrata_1

Recently I had the opportunity to try out the new Saucony Virrata, which is a 0 mm drop, minimalist shoe.  Better time than any to give this a shot!  But before I get into the shoes, let’s back up a little to go over heel drop and the benefits of minimalist running.

Heel drop (or heel-toe drop) refers to the amount of height between the heel and the toes in a running shoe.  Typically, the more supportive the shoe, the higher the heel drop which can range from 0 – 15 mm.  Now, I know you’re thinking… millimeters?? Does that really make a difference?  The answer is a big ole YES!

When I first started running, I was fitted for a pair of Brooks Adrenaline (at that time GTS 10).  These are considered support shoes and depending on the model have a 10-12 mm drop.  I went through 2 different models of these shoes, 3 5Ks and my first half marathon.  I loved them, but sadly they are what caused my psoas injury last year.  Generally the more you run, the more efficient you become, so unfortunately these shoes were too much support for me.

When I was refitted for shoes about a year ago, I went with the Brooks Ravenna 3 and was instantly in love.  These were an ounce lighter and the heel drop was about 3 mm less than the Adrenaline’s.  I felt like I could fly!  Clearly, a lighter weight and a lesser heel drop were a benefit to how my stride has changed.  This is what got me looking into the why heel drop mattered and the possible benefits of minimalist running.

Research has shown that a higher heel drop can lead to many common running injuries because it promotes a harder heel strike when running and can lead to overpronation.  Minimal shoes promote a mid-foot strike which is a more natural form and they are generally lighter in weight which can help with speed.

So that brings me to the Virrata.  These shoes are so light that when the box came I didn’t think anything was in it.  They are 6.5 ounces of mesh and rubber that make you feel like you aren’t wearing anything.  The heel drop is 0 mm, which is completely flat, but there is 18 mm of cushioning below your feet so it’s not like other minimal shoes I have tried on that feel like I’m walking directly on the pavement.  They actually feel like they have a good amount of support!  Oh and they’re super cute 🙂  Click here for more stats about the shoes.

Virrata_5

I first took these for a spin at CrossFit.  I had the Princess Half Marathon coming up and didn’t want to risk injury by going for a run in new shoes before the race, but I thought CrossFit would be good.  Typically, the flatter the shoe, the better when it comes to CrossFit because it allows for your weight to be more evenly distributed.  This is crucial when doing heavy lifting because you want that stability.  Because there is often running involved, I never went completely minimalist and instead wear Brooks Pure Connect for my WODs which have a 4 mm drop.  But let me tell you, I love the Virratas!  They provided enough cushioning for some of the aerobic movements, but were perfectly flat for the lifts.  WIN!

Ready for CrossFit

Ready for CrossFit

After coming back from the Princess Half Marathon, I was excited to take these for a run.  The snow was finally melted so I was happy that this didn’t have to be on the dreadmill.  I was keeping it to a short 3 mile run because I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond to the 0 mm drop.  Everything I’ve ever read about switching to a minimalist shoe has said that it needs to be done gradually to avoid injury.

Ready to Run!

Ready to Run!

I immediately felt a HUGE difference in how I was running.  My stride felt awkward and I could feel a lot more pressure on my knees and ankles.  It felt like I was just pounding the ground.  Whoa.  So I knew I really had to focus and pay attention to my stride, which I think was a very positive thing for me.  If I focus more, I can work towards becoming a more efficient (and faster!) runner!

Had to stop and enjoy the gorgeous scenery!

Had to stop and enjoy the gorgeous scenery!

Overall, I felt pretty good during the run and kept an average pace of 12:35.  After getting home and taking the shoes off, I definitely felt tight and sore around my ankles.  After doing some research, I’m pretty sure it is the Inferior Extensor Retinaculum that’s hurting and a few days rest from running should alleviate the problem and avoid this turning into a major issue.

Switching to minimal shoes like the Saucony Virrata for running is going to be a long process for me.  I know I will have to lose some weight to avoid excess stress on my joints and I will need to gradually work up to these shoes.  I’m thinking about maybe going down to an 8 mm or even 4 mm drop first and getting my body used to that on longer runs.  I’m actually very excited to try the new Saucony Mirage 3, which are also very light weight and have a 4 mm drop.  So for now, the Virratas are going to be my go to shoe for CrossFit WODs that include a lot of running (a lot usually being a mile).

If you’re looking for more information on minimalist running, heel-toe drop and making the transition, I founds some great articles for you:

I would also encourage you to check out Saucony’s Find Your Strong Project.  This is a wonderful community to get inspiration, motivation and tips.  I love to go and read some of the posts when I need some encouragement to get out the door.  The fun thing is that when you use the hash tag #FindYourStrong on Twitter, Instagram or DailyMile, you will be featured in the project on their website!

How do you Find Your Strong?

Saucony via FitFluential LLC sent me a pair of Virratas free of charge for this Campaign. As always, all opinions are my own.

Back in Action and Team Challenge Training

I’m back baby!  Well sort of.  I’m not where I used to be, but I’m running again which is definitely a start.  I’m glad I listened to my physical therapist and took those 3 weeks off to rest.  I’m running pain free and feel much better.

On Thursday, I went to my first training practice with my Team Challenge group.  This was a track practice held at a high school and it was the perfect place for me to get back in the swing of things.  It’s a flat, cushy surface to minimize any strain on my legs.  I stretched and did 3 laps before training got started.  I had met a few of my teammates at a bowling event a few weeks prior, but it was great to meet some more of the crew.  We started with the following drills for about 25 yards down and back: high knees, butt kicks, high skips, and cross side steps.  This was followed by 8 rounds of high knee speed hurdles that were killer!

Hurdles...boooo

We then began our run.  We did 4 sets of 2 laps with a 3 minute rest in between each.  I was able to maintain about a 12:30 minute-mile for all of the laps, which I was very happy with since this was my first run in 3 weeks.  My endurance has definitely declined, but I’m glad I kept up with the Spinning classes in the off time because it could be much worse.  I also had no pain in my psoas.  I will repeat NO PAIN!  That rest thing really pays off 🙂

I should also mention that this was my first run with my new Brooks Ravenna 3’s and I LOVE them.  Super comfy and I felt so much lighter in them.  I can’t continue to stress enough how important it is to get fitted for proper running shoes on a regular basis.

Brooks Ravenna 3

Running with coaches watching your form and yelling out your time was very new to me.  Running has always been a very solitary activity for me and is a way to relax a bit to let my mind wander.  But I must say that having coaches on hand is really nice.  Coach Janis noticed right away that I was swinging my arms incorrectly.  Apparently I have been crossing my arms in front of me as I run, which is a big no no.  She told me to hold my arms at a 90 degree angle and pretend like I’m holding a carton of eggs.  Keeping my arms apart like this will help my momentum and move my body forward more easily.  And boy did it work!  I have to say that it was hard to keep my arms in that position since I’m not used to it, but I really felt like it was easier to move.  Coaches rule!

After our track practice, we all headed back to the Team Challenge/CCFA office for a sports nutrition seminar from a local specialist in Sports Dietetics.  This was very insightful and I’ll be highlighting it in more detail in a later post…so stay tuned!  I stopped for tacos on my way home from my favorite spot Bartaco since I felt I deserved a reward after my pain free run.  Probably not what the nutritionist had in mind as a post race meal, but hey, I have a weakness for tacos.  YUM!

Pork Belly & Red Snapper Tacos!!!

I felt good the next day, but my quads were sore from not being used for a while.  That’s a good pain though.  I took Friday and Saturday off due to other obligations, but I also don’t want to push myself to hard in the beginning.  I want to make sure I give my body enough rest between runs so I don’t re-aggravate my injury.

Sunday morning I went out for my second run of the week and all was good.  I ran along the Long Island Sound, which is one of my favorite spots and I feel so lucky to live right down the street from it.  I had intended to do 5 miles, but around mile 2 I had to turn around and head home due to a minor GI emergency.  That was a difficult 2 miles home, but I managed to get through it and end up with a good time.  My average pace was 13:24 for the 4.1 miles, which included quite a few walking breaks.  Not too shabby for just getting back into the swing of things!

Gorgeous morning for a run along the Long Island Sound!

Now that I’m back to training, my goals for the week are the following:

  • Tuesday: 2.5 miles
  • Wednesday: Spinning (15 miles)
  • Thursday: 3 miles
  • Sunday: 6 miles

What is your training schedule for the week?

Here’s hoping for another week free of pain and continued improvement of my endurance!

The Importance of Proper Running Shoes

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

I’ve been wearing Brooks Adrenaline for the past 3 years and I have always loved them.  They are comfortable, supportive and seemed to fit my feet perfectly.  That was until recently.

I was fitted for these shoes at a great running store called Fleet Feet in West Hartford, CT.  They put you on a treadmill equipped with a camera at “foot level” to record your stride.  This helps the sales person find the best shoe for you.  I tried on numerous pairs of shoes and found the Brooks Adrenaline to be the most comfortable.  They were a great fit and got me through many miles.

This past September I bought my 3rd pair of Adrenalines.  Instead of getting fitted at a running store, I just went to Dick’s Sporting Goods store and bought the most recent model thinking these were the perfect shoes for me.  My serious race training began in October and these shoes were still working really well for me.  It wasn’t until I got injured in January that I thought there might be a problem.

I continued to train in them, even though it was minimal, and I even ran my first half marathon in them.  But still, something was off.  I felt like I was walking and running on the outsides of my feet and it wasn’t comfortable.  This was something new.  So I decided to get refitted and see if I should change up my tried and trusted Adrenalines.

Yesterday, I went back to Fleet Feet (now almost an hour from my new home, but totally worth it) and told the salesperson that I wasn’t sure if I needed new shoes, but something just didn’t feel right.  He had me take my shoes off and walk down the length of the store.  When I turned around, he was literally lying on the floor looking at how I walked.  No one at Dick’s will do that, or even knows what they’re looking at in terms of your stride.  He immediately said that the Adrenaline was too much shoe for me.  He also said that it was my shoes that caused my injury…say wha?!?  Apparently, the more you run, the more your stride changes.  I no longer needed the full support of the Brooks Adrenaline and needed to go a step down to a more guidance-based shoe.  He also said that my shoes ABSOLUTELY caused my psoas injury.  Things I wish I knew 2 months ago!

Saucony Guide 5

I first tried on the Saucony Guide 5.  I really liked this shoe.  It was light and felt very comfortable.  But then I ran in them.  There was something that hit across the top of my mid-foot that felt very uncomfortable.  If I felt that just from a jog down the sidewalk, this was prime for chafing on long runs.  I wanted to like these…I wanted to love these!  But that one little piece of fabric was making me skeptical.  Plus, you should try more than one shoe, right??

Brooks Ravenna 3

On to the next pair…Brooks Ravenna 3.  Ooooh these were fabulous.  Lightweight yet still cushiony, these shoes felt super comfy.  I went outside for a jog down the sidewalk and I felt faster than I’ve ever felt before.  I was sold immediately after trying them out.  I’m still on a 2-week hiatus from running on strict orders from my physical therapist, but I can’t wait to go for a run in my Ravennas!

I’m still going to physical therapy twice a week fro my psoas tendonitis and I’m feeling better everyday.  I’m currently under strict instructions from my PT to stop running for a few weeks to let myself heal.  This is very hard to do, but I haven’t run for a week now.  Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) I feel really good.  The PT and the rest are both working, so I’m going to stick with it for at least another week.  Pushing myself to keep training obviously wasn’t working.  Instead, I’ve started doing other cross training exercises, such as spinning to keep my cardio up!

So what to take away from this story?  Listen to your body, go and get fitted for proper running shoes, and take a rest every now and then…no matter how hard it is.  Now that the weather in the Northeast is cooperating, it’s incredibly hard to restrain myself from going out for a run, but I know it will be worth it in the long “run.”  I’m also fascinated on how the body adapts to training.  When I first started running, I needed more support, but now that I’ve been training more, I can scale down a bit.  I don’t think I will ever be a Vibram Five Fingers runner, but I’m hoping to get to a more minimalist shoe like the Brooks Pure Cadence.

My last tip is to go and find a local running store to get fitted for proper running shoes.  Then make sure to go back to get fitted every 300-500 miles you put on your shoes.  Trust me, you’re body will thank you, as this is the best way to avoid injury.  Visit www.runnersworld.com for many good articles on running shoes.  This one is particularly helpful on How to Buy the Right Running Shoes.

So what shoes do you wear?  Have you found that you’ve had to change shoes over the course of your “running life”?  Leave many comments…I’d love to hear your stories!  Happy Running 🙂