This is the first time in many years (since 1995 maybe?) that I've tried running right through the winter. In the mid-90s I was in grad school with University of Toronto gym access, so exercising in all seasons was easy. Since then I would always quit running around Thanksgiving and pick it up again around March or April. There were also a few years where I didn't run at all because... babies. This time around I've joined a local gym (and so has my husband, I'm so proud of him!), and I'm going there 3 times a week to hammer out miles on the treadmill. My membership expires on the first day of Spring and then I head back outdoors.
At the gym, I'm learning the obvious, which is that treadmills are pace specific. Outdoors, I tend to run at whatever pace feels good for the song I'm listening to on my iPod--I sprint or jog at will. But on a treadmill I can't just go faster unless I actually press a button and make it happen. So instead of pressing that button, I'm trying to stay on pace and concentrate on form. Every time a song gets awesome and I feel like taking off all gazelle-like, I pour that energy into higher knees, better foot-strikes, and snappier heel kicks while still running at the same speed. Basically, I'm working on maintaining an even pace for long distances, and then tweaking how I run within that set parameter. So scientific, eh? (I'm also learning about endurance thresholds, which apparently are great for metabolism and building muscle and increasing mileage, but aren't actually that fast. It's a reversal to hold yourself to a slower speed than you feel like.)
To aid the experiment, I bought new shoes.
They are Brooks PureFlows. Purple, yes!
Here are my old shoes, Saucony Guide TR trail shoes. I won them in a race in 2009 but didn't start wearing them in earnest until 2012.
Meanwhile, running shoes seem to have completely changed, with increased emphasis on "heel drop" and footstrike. Check out the difference between my high-heeled Saucony's and the relatively flat Brooks shoe on the left.
The new Brooks also has some mid-foot/arch area support (that white knob) that seems designed to help the foot roll forward and maybe avoid striking the heel so much.
There is also split toe technology where the sole is deeply indented at the front, apparently to allow the big toe to function independently, whatever that means (I saw that explanation on a shoe review site, not a Brooks site. By the way, don't you love that use of the word "technology" to describe a feature? My pants have zip-fly technology: whoa!!) Anyway, I can't figure out whether it's this split-toe thing or whether it's because I'm trying to increase my mileage, but I've been having a bit of toe pain since switching shoes.
Incidentally, Brooks has already put out the PureFlow 2--I'm not even sure you can get the PureFlow any more except in the backwaters of Vermont.
Tips for switching shoes: Do you have any? What I gather from running sites and various shoe store personnel is that one should introduce the new shoe slowly, just for a mile or so as you ease your feet and body into the new structure. However, I am too lazy or stubborn to stop mid-run and change my shoes (which is totally possible! Because I'm not going anywhere on a treadmill!), so I just stick it out in the new shoes mile after mile. On my most recent long run, a Sunday 6-miler, I felt perfectly comfortable from miles 1-5. Then I started messing with the settings (faster pace, less of an incline), and almost immediately my right toe started to hurt. I'm thinking the best shoe-switching advice for me right now is just Don't Mess with Success. What do you think?