Sunday, December 28, 2014

Two For The Road

Size 12-1/2 Brooks Ravenna 5 I use for the bulk of my training
One of the things I've learned over the years is I'm a much better runner when my total body is healthy and fit ... not just my legs.  The more cross-training and all-inclusive workouts I can muster, the better I feel and perform, during training and on race day.  And applying this fundamental truth to my feet has helped as well.  Constantly changing their routine and training in different shoes has added strength and stability to the smaller supporting muscles in my feet, and helped me withstand the constant daily pounding against the pavement.  Here's a quick look at the two different types of shoes that I use for different runs.

Throughout most of the year, I average about 50 miles per week, and up to 80 miles during high intensity marathon training.  I need a shoe that can handle the bulk of those miles, while keeping my feet healthy and strong.  And for the past few months, I've been wearing Brooks Ravenna 5 as my workload shoe. Although heavier than most shoes I wear, they're considered a fairly light version of a neutral/support shoe, weighing in at about 10.5 ounces - although my size 12-1/2's are a little heavier, probably around 12 ounces per shoe.  The heavier shoe allows for much needed high mileage cushioning, and also makes my feet feel light as a feather when I change shoes for speed workouts.  They have a bulkier heal and cushioned forefoot area, and are much "stiffer" than my other shoes, providing plenty of support.  I wear them for all recovery and slow runs, and for about half of my long runs, which probably accounts for about 70% of my workouts.  When I have these shoes on my feet, I'm focused specifically on my form, and running much slower than race or tempo pace.

Size 12-1/2 Saucony Kinvara 5's ... can't believe I ran so many miles without them
For races, and speed & tempo work, as well as the other half of my long runs, I wear lighter, faster shoes.  My shoe of choice (and maybe my most favorite shoe of all time) ... Saucony Kinvara 5!!! I won't  go into a complete review here, but I will say they're probably the most complete shoe I've ever worn.  At an advertised 7.6 ounces, they're super light.  And even with my larger shoe size, they only weigh in at 8.5 ounces.  It's not necessarily a "flat" shoe, with a 7 millimeter drop from heel to toe, but I would still probably place them in a "Minimalist" category.  Besides the light weight, what I like most about the Kinvara's is the cushioning.  For such a light shoe, they really seem to protect my foot fairly well, although I've noticed at the end of a marathon, I'm ready to get out of them.  But that could probably be said for most shoes after a lengthy race.

Some runners will wear their heavier shoes for their faster workouts, basically for increased weight and resistance - and only lace up their lighter shoes for races.  While I understand this theory, I'm a big believer in being completely familiar with how the lighter shoes are going to react when I'm running faster, and more importantly, how my feet feel in them.  I just don't want any surprises on race day, so I wear my lighter shoes probably a little more than some runners.

In addition to rotating the two pair of shoes, I also try to mix in quite a few jumping, and side-to-side movement peripheral workouts.  Forcing my feet to do something other than move in a straight ahead line, seems to really help with strengthening and stability.  Obviously keeping two or more pairs of shoes around adds to the cost of relatively inexpensive sport.  However, I've found that if I can keep my feet guessing, not only about what shoes they'll be sporting, but also the kind of workout they'll be completing, I'm a much stronger and healthy runner.
... be great today! 


  1. I've started trading off shoes each run, going from my Hoka Bondis to my Altra Paradigms and back. So far I'm not sure I'm sold on the zero-drop Altras, but I only have about 50 miles on them, so maybe my legs are adjusting still.

    1. I really think changing things up will help your feet Paul - but like you suggested, the key is finding two different pairs of shoes that you're comfortable with

  2. But when do you wear your smoking shoes?


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