Summary Jan 15-21

Sunday Jan 15, AM 5 Miles, 42:19 Broken Shin Loop with Limpy, Roadie, and Jeff Boy-ar-Dee. Met the guys for a frigid AM run, wish I had worn socks, and managed to freeze my beard pretty well… although, the companionship made the wind and unreasonably cold temperature a lot easier to deal with.

Monday Jan 16, AM 11.6 Miles, 2:04 Ran through Allamuchy with Dave, again, wicked cold (~8 degrees) but we covered roughly 1550 feet of ascent/descent over the course of 2 hours, without running particularly hard at any point (but managed to test some speed on a few technical downhills). We also took the time to take some rather contrived trail-running photos, and upon returning to the car, and changing, my jacket (a lightweight softshell) froze completely solid… I suppose winter has come….
PM 3.85 Miles, :40, Turkey Brook loop with Roadie, Jeff, and Hairy, a nice second run of the day, trying to stay loose, also wore uber-minimalist shoes to concentrate more on biomechanics.

Tuesday Jan 17, AM 4.85 Miles, 40:39 Power Line Trails, completely frozen over, making for a rather nice variety of rocks, and frozen mud, good traction, fast trail, I think this is either THE, or close to the fastest time for me on this route… eventually I’ll check the log-book and find out. Also, took a pretty great digger tripping over an embarrassingly small rock.

Wednesday Jan 18, AM 10.15 Miles, 1:16:04 Tempo-ish hill run through the local roads, running this route at mid 7 pace is becoming increasingly easy, I’m going to need to find a harder tempo run in the next few weeks… or pick up the pace substantially (still haven’t decided which yet)

Thursday Jan 19, AM 4.85 Miles, 41:02 Power Line trails… Ground has softened up a lot creating a strange combination of really soft mud, ice, rock, and frozen soil, footing is a complete guessing game. This variety of trail conditions is part of how, and why I run the same routes a lot, I may cover the same ground, but each run is fantastically different from those that precede and follow it.
PM, 5 Miles, 37:52 Broken Shin Loop, ran ahead of the pack, and then was chased down by Bob, power of ego overtook my better sense, causing this intended recovery run to be much faster than I would have liked.

Friday Jan 20, PM 4.85 miles, 44:16 I originally tried to run 10+ at Allamuchy, in fact I drove all the way there, stood outside my car for a few minutes, used the bathroom, and instead of running, returned home…. a  few hours later I pushed myself out the door for the Power Line loop, and ran the whole thing convinced that I was falling asleep

Saturday Jan 21, AM 10 Miles, 1:26:41 Ran through Schooley’s Mountain and surrounding Rail Trails during a snowstorm. This was by far the most challenging run of the year, mentally, physically, and especially with regard to the elements. The snow made for questionable traction(causing me to fall on level trail), as well as providing additional drag/forcing me to keep my knees higher than I would otherwise like, not to mention the constant head-wind, and snowfall pounding my face. There’s a beauty to the solitude of being the only runner out there in this sort of weather, and the challenges that face you while attempting to run trails under  these conditions.

Total Miles:  60.15 8h52m, Falls: 2 Frozen Beards: 4

Gino also has his beard frost over

Jeff around Turkey Brook

Dave and I on top of Allamuchy (Photo courtesy of Dave Franz)

Ice Beard at Allamuchy (Photo Courtesy of Dave Franz)

Descent is steeper than this shows (Photo courtesy of Dave Franz)

Finally, it snows

Downhill in the snow

Summit!

Summit Profile

Not quite postholing, but close…

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Week Summary Jan 1-7

Sunday Jan 1, 6.1 miles, 51:37 Ran through Brooklyn and Prospect Park. Started off the year by running shirtless in split shorts, far cry from my usual ice-encrusted beard for the winter months

Monday Jan 2, 6.0 miles 44:19 Running local roads, trying to alternate trail mileage with roads in an attempt to not completely surprise my body with the sudden jump in mileage from last month to this.

Tuesday Jan 3 AM 5.22 miles 55:48 1300ft elevation gain/loss through Schooley’s Mtn Park, would have run longer, but mild ankle issues made the effort cut short after summit #2.
PM. 6.0 miles 43:41 Same route as Monday morning, getting quicker, decent tempo-ish run

Wednesday Jan 4 AM 4.85 miles 43:58 running along local powerline access trails, steep ascent/descent, overall tough run, but within ~1 minute of personal best
PM 4.85 miles 43:30 Rarely do I run a double that includes the same course twice, even rarer that I run the second loop faster… I blame it on the shoes (MT101’s in the Eve, as opposed to uber-minimalist Merrells in the AM) Felt sluggish, but the stopwatch says otherwise.

Thursday Jan 5 AM 10.15 miles, 1:24:55 Hill run on the roads, this point in the week I’m starting to feel the residual fatigue of higher mileage (especially compared to my lackluster numbers in Nov/Dec)
PM 5.0 miles, 40:50 Broken Shin Loop, felt rather anti-social Ran the second half of it with Roadie, first half being Chased by HH, sorry about the moon….

Friday Jan 6 AM 4.85 45:55 Semi-recovery-oriented run over powerline trails considered doubling it on the spot, but prudence got the better of me.
PM 6.0 miles, 50:26 Still in recovery-running mode, legs feeling rather soft by this point

Saturday AM 5 Miles, time: ???? (55??)Freezing Cold Hash

Totals: 64.02 miles 9h20m, Frozen beards: 4, Falls, 0 (hash excluded….)

I have no excuse….

What makes a good shoe?

Today I received two pairs of running shoes from the Merrell company. As some of you may know, Merrell tends to do things a little bit differently, and strongly encourages the average Joe hiker/runner to test their beta models, and provide them with honest feedback, which I think is awesome, this system helped produce the Trail Glove (review coming soon) and checking out the shoes I got today, I can see that they’ve really got their heads in the right place as far as providing sustainable running shoes for (barefoot) form-oriented mountain runners.
I mentioned in a previous post that my rule as far as running shoes and reviewing them is concerned, is that I require ~100 miles on a pair of shoes before I think I can give an honest assessment of their value, and I plan on sticking to this, it helps that I (when not tapering) run relatively high mileage, so testing a pair of shoes rarely takes more than 2 weeks in my rotation, with perhaps a few extra days to re-compare them to favorites in my pile.
Now for the nitty gritty, there are certain things that I require in order to consider a shoe for racing/every day running usage.
1. MINIMAL Heel-Toe drop, Yes, minimal, a zero drop is preferable, but to be honest if it’s only a few millimeters, it doesn’t effect my gait, and thus becomes a non-issue (greater than 4 mm seems to get annoying, and often will be ghetto zero-dropped by me, over a beer or 3, with a bread knife)
2.Reasonable amount of protection. Depending on the ruggedness of a trail, (or road) the amount of protection necessary can vary (imho). Jason Robillard talks about the same conundrum here. Basically I want enough protection that my feet don’t hurt after a long run/race, but not so much that I can’t feel the ground beneath me, and end up making stupid mistakes resulting in ankle twists, falls, etc etc etc. This is a fine line to walk, and every runner/running shoe is different.
3. Water Drainage. A trail shoe especially MUST drain water well. I cannot tell you how many times in a single run I end up with my foot submerged in water, this water must exist my shoe, and the shoe must dry quickly, this is not negotiable. I do not believe in gore-tex running shoes, I understand the principle, but in my experience, I often find myself in water above the top of the shoe, which results in a gore-tex shoe/boot being filled up with water, and turning into a bucket attached to my foot, not ideal.
4. Traction. A good shoe should track well. There is a fine line between good traction and durability, which is why I insist on 100 miles before i announce my review. Softer rubber holds onto rock better, but also wears much more quickly, the opposite is true of harder rubber. Lugging must be wide enough to shed mud easily, and not turn my trail runner into a mud-caked flat, but also close enough to hold well in less than ideal terrain. Vibram typically makes a good sole… they are not the only reasonable sole out there though, and often I am surprised by what a sole looks like, and how well/not well it performs.
5. Lightweight. The heavier the shoe, the heavier the shoe, you figure it out.
6. Breathable upper. Also self-explanatory. The upper should also keep the foot securely in the shoe,and not blow out too easily (100 miles!)
7. Flexible heel. Allows for natural foot motion
8. Wide toe box. Allows toes to splay, keeps foot motion natural, helps body absorb shock better, leading to less injuries etc etc etc.

That’s pretty much it, I’ve got some reviews queued up, as many of my shoes are beyond the 100 mile mark, as well as some training updates to post soon.