I think winter in the Northeast has finally broken – it’s not warm, but it’s trending upwards. The air is perfect for running and the days are long enough to actually be bright. I took off the Inov-8 running shoes with heavy socks and put on the Vibram FiveFingers. The new ones with laces worked really well for running. It was weird because the Inov-8s feel like lead boots in comparison, and even with low-drop shoes, it was hard to get the “heel kiss” vs. running on the forefoot when transitioning to shoes without any appreciable soles.
I finally got my copy of Power, Speed, Endurance by Brian MacKenzie of CrossFit Endurance. I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect – maybe 100 pages filled with controversial ideas. What I got was:
- A beautiful, thick, large-format book packed with hundreds of slow-motion stills of every CrossFit exercise as well as running, swimming, and cycling technique.
- A nuanced view of the pros and cons of traditional endurance training and the CrossFit approach.
- Finally, a clear explanation of CrossFit Endurance programming that “clicked” with my brain – I never really understood the methodology behind the website programming until I read the book!
- A comprehensive “manual” of CrossFit, incorporating weightlifting, gymnastics, sport skills, mobility, and nutrition.
In short, it far exceeded my expectations. It deserves a place next to Tudor Bompa’s classic Periodization for Sport on my bookshelf, representing a radically alternative philosophy. PSE advocates constant variation with a lot of flexibility in programming, but also admits that in order to compete in endurance events, you have to practice the skill of the sport and do time trials at distance. Bompa agrees on the skill aspect, but advocates a highly regimented program that is proven but breaks down easily if you don’t have 800-1000 hours per year to devote to training. It will be interesting to read (or re-read in the case of Bompa) both books and draw out the nuggets from each.
I will tell you the following impacts in the first week:
1. I found out that what I thought was Pose running was not. When I tried it after reading the running skill section in the book, I was exhausted and felt like I had just done 1000 deadlifts, meaning that I was using completely different muscles. Humble pie indeed. In 25 years I had never thought about midline stabilization when running. Duh.
2. I got in the pool and found out I was actually swimming pretty well. Core engaged – check. Both push and pull on the kick – check. Etc. Etc. Again, never really thought about it before. Eye-opening.
Congrats to BMack on a great product. Plus it’s heavy enough to turn my backpack into a weighted vest!
…go for a run in FiveFingers of course! Love a crisp cold night where I can see by the light of the moon.
Recently Xeno Muller, a multiple Olympic medalist single sculler and rowing coach, posted a great piece on using minimalist shoes for both running and indoor rowing. I respect and agree with his opinions on both! A lot of heavyweight male rowers are tall, heavy guys who don’t fit the typical “runner” profile, and they should read Xeno’s post.
Springtime in the east means sketchy, stormy weather for single sculling. I’ve been supplementing with quite a bit of running using Inov-8 or FiveFingers minimalist shoes. While I feel that my foot strength is now high enough not to worry about recovery as much, I am struggling with the technique after a winter of too much snow for running. I tend to land with my foot too far forward, meaning that I am actually decelerating a little before pulling through, as opposed to picking up the ground speed and adding to it seamlessly.
This is the running equivalent to “hanging at the catch” or catching too slowly and throwing up too much backsplash in rowing. Working too hard to maintain speed vs. accelerating each stroke/step.
As usual Brian MacKenzie has posted a great video that helps me visualize the correct motion – after watching this, I tried again doing short intervals and it helped me out tremendously. If you look at the dude on the treadmill, his legs look like the pistons on an old steam locomotive – very smooth, forward-pull, forward-pull. That visual helped me nail the right cadence and pick up a lot of speed.
Well the blizzard of 2010 of course had a silver lining for those of us who like to inflict some unique abuse on our bodies as a way of getting stronger. First of all, 2 3-hour snow shoveling sessions in 40-mph winds in less than 12 hours was probably one of the hardest workout days I’ve ever done. My reward was the opportunity to do a deep snow run the next day. The base was about 2 inches beneath my knees, and the drifts sometimes were up to my hips. So I suited up in my Inov-8 Mudclaws and Skins and dove in, literally.
1. Deep snow running is incredibly difficult. I could get maybe 50 yards before I had to stop.
2. It is amazingly hard on your stabilizing tissues: hips, knees, arches, core. That’s where I was REALLY sore.
3. It’s pretty much impossible to actually run. Forget pose or any other technique. It’s more like doing step-ups or walking lunges.
4. When the snow gets over your knees, it’s humbling. You’re pretty much done. You get a taste of what quicksand must be like. Stop and say uncle to mother nature.
5. Inov-8 nailed it. The shoes were unstoppable. Not a slip.
Not that I wish for more snow, but it was a fun experience, and highly recommended!
Well I went for my first run in my new Inov-8 MudClaws (thanks Mom & Dad!) over the weekend, and I didn’t know what to expect. I went through Saddle River Park in Bergen County, NJ, with a combination of on-road and off-road running in below-freezing temperatures. Would the lug soles be squishy and unstable on pavement? Would the toe box feel too narrow, as I’ve read in some reviews of Inov-8 products? Would it feel weird to wear shoes after a summer of running exclusively in Vibram FiveFingers?
The answer is no, no, and no – these shoes ROCK in a variety of conditions!
1. On road – they are light and surprisingly flexible – almost as light as FiveFingers, and the mesh upper is so ethereal that I felt almost like I was wearing nothing. The rubber on the soles is really solid but also really light and flexible, which I can’t figure out. Great design.
2. Off road – ditto #1, except that it’s like having monster truck tires on your feet. I looked at my footprints on the frozen ground, and there was a big, wide, shredded circle where the forefoot touched down, and just a tiny little divot near the heel – clearly these things can tear it up even on packed, frozen earth. I ran some trails that involved leaf cover over pools of ice – no slippage at all. I purposely tried to run across pure black ice frozen puddles, and I was able to without slipping. I bounced up on rocks and right over a fallen tree. I deliberately stepped on some sharp jagged little rocks embedded in the ground that would have put me out of action in FiveFingers, and they were no problem. It’s like you get the shielding of 1/2 inch of rubber, without the weight or stiffness due to the sole design. Incredible. I can’t wait to try them in deep snow.
3. Toe box – I love it. I have a “Roman toe” (second toe longer than big toe), and these are the first running shoes in which I didn’t smash up the nail on the second toe. The toe box is long and narrow, which is great for me, but the area around the toe joint is very wide and very roomy, which is the best of both worlds.
4. Freezing temperatures – a standard running shoe with heavy “leather” around the lace holes and thick laces becomes like a block of ice as soon as it gets a little wet. These are made of mesh, the laces are tiny, and the lacing holes are angled so that they do not interfere with the flex at the toe joint at all. Again, because my feet were able to move and work, they were no uncomfortably cold. I am probably not using the correct “shoe” terms here, but it’s amazing that no major shoe company thought of angling the laces before this?
All in all, this is destined to become one of my favorite shoes. I can’t wait to try a Tough Mudder wearing these. I also think they would be great for doing sprints on a football field or other grass/turf surface – huge traction, tiny weight. Although they are designed as a specialized shoe, I will likely wear them all winter, for all kinds of applications. I can’t wait to try other Inov-8 products. Good show!