Summary: August 19-25

Sunday August 19
???? Miles, ???’ ??:??
Hash day, I honestly have no clue how much distance we covered, in what time we did it, or how much vert there was or wasn’t. Course was laid by Road Scholar and Hairy Palmer, and was definitely one of, if not the best laid hash of the year. Forded a river for about a mile, ran some pretty ideal trail, bushwacked up a decent size hill (tourne?) then bombed back down it with Roadie afterwards. Left my ITB strap at home, which proved to be of no disadvantage, since everything was solid for the duration… drinking beer the whole time might have been helpful though….

Monday August 20
5 Miles 740′ 43:42
Really pedestrian jaunt through the Power Line trails, nothing spectacular to mention on either the positive, or the negative side of things.

Tuesday August 21
5 Miles 740′ 41:35
Busted out my (now very beat up) Trail Gloves to try to make lemonade with regards to my slower times. The lack of protection (these do have a rock plate, but it it’s the protective equivalent of putting a band-aid on a bullet wound when you’re trying to run really rocky trail) usually forces me to go a lot slower, and concentrate much more on my footing and foot placement. While no shoes I wear are particularly clunky, these are by a long shot my lightest pair, which, I think in turn makes me a better runner in the long run. Much to my surprise, this is my fastest time on this course since the injury (and still… ~4 mins behind PR)
PM 1, 1.24 Miles 15:00 Ivan Drago Secret Training Project
PM 2, 1 Mile 9:08 Evening Barefootin’

Wed August 22
5 Miles 740′ 42:27 
Another very average Power Line run. Becoming more consistent overall, but positive splitting pretty heavily, and not really taking advantage of the topography the way I should (struggling uphill, being a wuss downhill)
PM 1 Mile 9:20 Barefootin’

Thurs August 23
1 Mile 335′ 13:40
Local park/powerlines over by Mooney Mountain. Really direct line up the hill, followed by some nonsensical switchbacking on the descent. Probably would have been a lot faster had I not consistently lost track of where the trail was, but really, I can’t complain about a proper mile with 335′ of ascent and descent….
PM 5 Miles 360′ 40:30
Broken Shin Loop with the usual suspects. Dave and Bob went ahead while Luis and I slogged our way through the loop. Feeling sluggish, tired, and generally out of shape. I guess it’s a good sign that feeling like crap I’m still running what would have been an average time on course… although I’d prefer to still be feeling fresh with such a modest weekly mileage.

Friday August 24
5 Miles 740′ 41:53
Finally feeling comfortable, and consistent on the power lines… no good news, no bad news… no news is good news.

Saturday August 25
6 Miles 290′ :48
Roads around town, no pain, no real discomfort at all. Legs felt a little heavy (did a leg workout Friday evening)   but otherwise no worse for the wear.

Totals: 35.24 Miles, 3945′ 4h47m
Finally feeling like I have some semblance of a groove going on. If you add in the hash, which should have been ~5 miles, then I’m actually over 40 for the first time in months. (of course, I don’t count hash mileage as part of my log) Although my legs seem to be taking a long time to warm-up (I usually don’t feel good until 3 or 4 miles into a run) it’s fantastic to simply not be suffering, and not have any knee pain. I figure that if I can maintain this sort of volume for another couple of weeks, then I can finally begin doing some more ambitious runs, and behaving more like myself on the trails.

An older video of a buddy of mine from college. Gotta represent some UNH music now and again.

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Summary: August 12-18

Sunday August 12
 4 Miles, 700′ 40:14 Short jaunt through Allamuchy: TH to summit, then skirted around the backside of the hill and directly back to the trail-head. It’s nice to finally get back on some technical trails and not feel beat up about it. Overall a slow 4 miles, although the trip to the summit was in the ~16min range, which is pretty spot on for average runs, even during heavy training.

Monday, August 13
 5 Miles, 740′ 42:10 Powerline trails. This is probably the hardest “short” course for me to run right now, since I ran it so much during the spring that even without a GPS, I know all of my “typical” splits for the major course landmarks. Since I’m very much not in the shape I was in, it’s incredibly frustrating to see how far behind my times are (average time on course was ~38m)

Tuesday, August 14
 5 Miles, 740′ 44:16 Dead legs, humidity, general suffering while running.

Wed, August 15
 5 Miles, 740′ :43 More dead legs, some gnarly heartburn as well. Trying to remember how to run first thing in the morning, and my stomach seems to not be agreeing with coffee quite yet…. or it’s still lagging behind from the previous nights dinner… all in all, very frustrating.
PM 1 Mile, Barefoot 9:14 Barefootin’ always feels good, trying to get the biomechanics back in line, and get the two-a-days feeling normal.

Thurs August 16
 5 Miles, 360′ 39:39 Broken Shin Loop with the usual suspects. Luis flew ahead right out of the lot, so I ran the loop with Bob at a semi-recovery pace. Felt good to pound the pavement for a bit, gaining some confidence in my legs.

Fri August 17 
5 Miles, 740′ 44:52 Hearburn, dead legs, ran in the heat of the day. All in all, a bad idea.

Sat August 18
5 Miles 740′ 42:23 Back to a semi-normal run time on the course, and not feeling like complete and total crap the whole way. I think my body may be adjusting to the consistent running, I’m also starting to find my (slow) groove again.

Totals: 35 Miles, 5500′ Vert, 5h6m

So, we’re back to normal, sort-of. While I’m really excited that I can grind out a 35 mile week, and not re-injure myself, it’s tough to think about the mileage I was able to put in, as well as how long it may take me to get back to that sort of consistent volume. I’m also still wearing the ITB strap, although Sunday’s hash seemed to prove it unnecessary. Ideally, I’ll hang out at this ~35mpw range for a bit, add in some more barefooting, and eventually start to push the volume up (this time in a much more prudent manner).

No pictures, so here’s something that’s been on repeat in the car for a while now…

Review: Merrell Road Glove

The efficient road shoe is elusive. How do you find the right combination of lightness, ground-feel, and protection from pebbles whilst not interfering with the natural motion of the foot, and subsequently the remainder of the kinetic chain up the leg? When looking for a road shoe, I often find myself making compromises, some are too squishy, others too stiff, do I want a Zero-Drop shoe? or would I be better off with a bit of a heel?

The Merrell Road Glove is Merrell’s answer to the minimalist road running shoe dilemma. Based on the same last as their incredibly popular Trail Glove, the Road Glove is really a result of some minor alterations to its trail-oriented brother. Here are the Stats:

Weight: 6.6 oz (men’s size 9)
Cushioning: 4mm EVA foam
Vibram Outsole
ZERO drop

Okay, so that’s the boring part, and precisely what one would expect from the Merrell “Barefoot” line of shoes, so I’m really not telling you anything new right now. The fit on the Road Glove is exactly what any barefoot/minimalist runner would be looking for, snug in the heel, wide in the toe box. This allows the foot to feel attached to the shoe (in fact, it eventually feels like the shoe is molded onto your foot) while giving the runner enough toebox room for the toes to splay naturally. There is a piece of foam that touches the arch directly, much like the Trail glove. This is NOT an arch support, it’s foam, and is there to lock the foot into place within the shoe. This foam has no rigidity, and collapses easily when your foot flattens out, so it is in no way taking any load off of your arches.

The ground feel on these shoes is fantastic. Merrell has taken an approach that concentrates more on the outsole than the midsole of the shoe, so there’s only a small layer of EVA (4mm) between your foot and the outsole, but the outsole is present for the entirety of the sole of the shoe. While this makes for a very consistent ground feel, and prevents any squishiness in the shoe, it does feel a little stiff when compared to the outsole designs using pods (like the NB MR00). However, this is such a minor complaint, it’s barely worth noting. In fact, the Vibram outsole combined with the modest amount of cushioning seems to take the edge off of any pebbles you may encounter, while not sacrificing the overall ground-feel (a major upgrade from my VFF’s which leave my feet sore on any run <5miles)

How are they different from the Trail Glove? Simply stated, they have a different (less aggressive) outsole, and have eliminated the rock-plate. There have also been some changes to the upper, since a trail shoe really needs to be more connected to the foot than a road shoe requires. These handful of changes makes for a lighter shoe that will hopefully last longer on roads (the trail glove is reported to wear out very quickly on the roads… although it was never intended for road use).

Conclusions? I like them… a lot. While I don’t run exclusively in Zero-Drop shoes (I’ve found that I prefer a 4mm drop in my trail shoes) These have found themselves used heavily in my rotations. I would definitely consider racing in these, and am looking forward to putting some 20+ mile runs on them in the near future.

Note: These shoes were provided to me as part of my Merrell Sponsorship to Participate in the Outdoor Nation Summit.

Try Again.

It looks as if I’m falling victim to the overly cliche never-ending injury cycle. Every time I get a glimpse of some positivity with my IT band, I do exactly what I would be doing if I were truly healthy, which is, run as much as I possibly can until something hurts, the sun sets, or I’m too tired to keep running. This obviously is NOT the way to recover from an over-use injury (this is where you cue in a quote from my mother saying that one should not cure overtraining by overtraining.)

After having a really encouraging week in the Pine Tree State without any hints of needing to slow down, I ran the River to Sea relay with the Highlands Hashers. Whilst the R2C jaunt only totaled a pedestrian 12.6 Miles, of entirely flat terrain, in 2 legs, on road… cranking it out at ~7:15 pace proved just a little too much for my knee, as well as my calves (which, after a week, are finally feeling normal again). So, after limping around for a few days, having 2 really shitty runs, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to run with Dave on Friday morning to check out the course for the Wildcat Ridge Romp. As you could expect, this only re-aggravated my knee, and wiped me out pretty well.  (Yes Dave, you kicked my ass on this one)

So what does this mean in the broad scheme of things? I really need to focus my energy on trying to run pain-free for a bit right now, especially with autumn (my favorite running season) right around the corner, and some pretty lofty (albeit unspoken) goals for next year. So for the time being, I’m going to pretend that racing is non-existent, and concentrate on simply enjoying my runs, pursuing the terrain, and courses that I really want to run on. So hopefully if I stop dangling the idea of racing in the near future in front of myself, I can do a better job of increasing my mileage in a prudent way, instead of the reckless mileage spikes I’ve been having lately.

As for how I’m feeling about all of this… maybe some graphs can make it easier:

My fitness level since getting hurt:


 Here’s how I feel about myself, and my eating habits:

 And how my mileage effects my life:
 

Pursuing direct lines

Spending some time in the Pine Tree State running the local mountains… I’d forgotten how much fun, and how challenging running directly up a big mountain can be. For the sake of brevity, and my (still) lack of trust in my right leg, I’ve been choosing the most direct lines to the summit, to reduce the amount of actual mileage, while still getting myself above treeline, which has amounted to pretty short trips (~45 mins) but with maximal effort throughout the entirety of the trip.

Only a few short months ago, I would be frustrated going for a run where the overwhelming majority of my time would be spent hiking. In fact, it seems that hiking, despite its inherent necessity in mountain running, (especially at the ultra-distance) hiking is often under-appreciated. The reality of the situation is that these more direct lines, while shorter in mileage, more than make up for their brevity by requiring a backbreaking effort throughout. Nothing can compare to an extended incline session with your nose to the ground, hands on your knees, and breathing heavily with every planting of the foot. Sure, it’s not a run, but it’s still the most efficient way to move quickly through the mountains.

 This past weeks worth of serious vertical abuse has helped me to successfully regain a lot of the lost trust in my right leg. In spite of the brevity of my sessions (the longest being ~1h46m) I managed to really attack some vertical gains and losses, and contrary to my expectations, my knee/ITB feel great, even after bombing down scree, leaping over boulders, and generally being reckless. Perhaps more importantly to me is the fact that I was able to consistently get above treeline almost every day this past week (I did take a day off for prudence, and one for travel). and if the sunburn on my shoulders is any indication of summertime mountain-efforts, I’m doing pretty well.

Saddleback in the fog, Photo courtesy of Snake-Girl

Wearing the ITB strap… for prudence

Summit Proper

Return from the Horn