Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Last week was quite a mixed bag; you will have to decide which bits are the good, which the bad and which the ugly!

I started the week hoping to put together a "medium" week of training which would be 5 sessions, somewhere in the region of 40 miles, including possibly my longest run so far. Things started in a rather unorthodox way on Tuesday as I borrowed a friend's pair of Hoka Combo XT shoes. After having a look some Hoka shoes last weekend, I really wanted to have a go in a pair, especially after reading lots of reviews and blogs by runners, some with Achilles tendon problems. The snag was that my chum is way taller than me and two shoe sizes bigger! Just to get a feel for the radical design, I did half my route in my normal shoes with the Hoka's in a rucksack, then swopped shoes out on the trail (along with two extra pairs of socks.) Well, first impressions were very positive. Despite the size problem, I was soon bouncing along which rarely happens on my sessions after work, these runs are often just steady plods.

 I only had the shoes until Thursday, so had to squeeze in another short run on Wednesday after refereeing a football match but could only manage 3 miles. Even so, the shoes seemed to make everything easier, looking after my legs nicely. I finished the run, walked into the house and said to Tracey that, even though I am trying not to like them, I'm going to have to get a pair; the comfort factor is simply too great and they feel fantastic to run in.

Thursdays session was a complete disaster! The intention was to do a single hill rep, the aim being to condition my quads to long downhills, something really important for the Lakeland 100. The plan is to run uphill for 40 minutes, then bomb back down, increasing the length of the rep as the year progresses. For whatever reason, I felt lathargic but still set off with headtorch to run a fair way up Skiddaw, however, the weather decided to kick a man when he is down, with a dramatic hail storm arriving just as I started the first steep climb. After battoning down the hatches of my jacket, I did a Falstaff, turned tail and thought about fighting another day.

Looking to St John's in the Vale
After spending Saturday morning with some of our pupils at the Cumbria Schools Cross Country Championships, I called in at The Climbers Shop in Ambleside and am now a proud owner of a pair of Hoka Bondi B shoes. These are actually the road running version but had by far the best fit for my narrow feet. The trail shoes had a rather large toe box which my feet just rolled around in, the Combo shoes were a little too short in the toe area, but the road shoe is a lovely fit with hardly any difference between the grips, particularly at the speed of an ultra race (one full size up on my usual UK10.) I may have to change my name to Goldilocks!

Lakeland 100 route, just beyond Latrigg
The good bit of the week came on Sunday with a 16 mile run, my longest so far since the operation. The new shoes were superb. They really take the sting out of the trail but I did still find I had some connection and did not feel it detracted from the whole aesthetics of the experience. Stability was good and you feel very confident, especially over rocky terrain. The large footprint gives good grip and, interestingly, the minimal drop from heel to toe (something like 4mm) gives a really natural mid foot strike, even though you assume that with so much padding you will be more likely to heel strike. The shoe's biggest asset seems to be decending; you eat up the terrain with great confidence and so much less pounding. I know it's still early stages but, so far, I am impressed. I finished the run strongly and, satisfyingly, in the same sort of time I was doing last winter. This week, I am having a lovely recovery week, which I feel I deserve, followed by easy, medium and hard, including a long run on the West Highland Way, so that's the next month sorted. Easy!

1 comment:

J.Steele's 50 in 52 said...

I enjoyed that thanks!! Ive been thinking of some Hokas for a while, I think you have just convinced me!! ;0)