Monday, March 28, 2011

Recovery, New Shoes, and Trail Maintenance

After running Chuckanut last weekend my legs were really sore. I took a proper ice bath the evening after the race and even took the recommended serving of Udo's Oil to try to help recovery. My Quads had it the worst from all of the pounding descents. They weren't as fried as they were after running Mt. Si in January thankfully.

I took Sunday completely off but I was back out for a run on Monday. I'd bought another pair of shoes a few days before Chuckanut and had been itching to try them out. I didn't want to run in them before the race out of fear of messing up my feet somehow. I'd been waiting to get my hands on the shoes ever since reading a review about them on Jason Robillard's blog a few months ago. The shoe is the Merrell Trail Glove. It's my first real barefoot style shoe. My beloved MT101 is a transition shoe with it's ~10mm heel-to-forefoot drop whereas the Trail Glove is marketed as a "barefoot" shoe with a 0mm drop from heel to forefoot. The soles of the Trail Gloves are made by Vibram of hiking boot and more recently Five Fingers fame. The shoe itself is really light at 6.2oz compared to MT101's 7.6oz and most road running shoes heading north of 12oz. The Trail Glove doesn't have much cushioning under the soles which makes you think more about where you're planting your feet.  With zero drop and no foam under your heels you have no choice but to run up on your forefoot in them. They're the next step in my transition from a heel striking to a mid-foot striking running style. With them being so different than any other shoes I've ever run in I was very wary of taking them out for a run pre-race.

Monday 3/21 (5.3mi, 49min, 9:15/mi)
My legs were pretty beat up from the race so I put on the Trail Gloves and took it easy heading out toward the Bridle Trails. It was interesting getting a feel for the minimal soles of the Trail Gloves on the dirt and mud along the corridor trail. They have a nice roomy toe box but a very narrow heel. The fit was snug with no room for my foot to move around inside the shoe, largely due to the narrow heel and the the excellent lacing system that snugs the upper around your foot. Putting the word "glove" in the name wasn't just clever marketing. They do fit like a glove which allow me a great proprioceptive sense and feel for the ground below me. The only downside of this is stepping on the occasional sharp rock that I wouldn't notice in a bigger shoe. The feel of running in these shoes was more than worth the trade off.

The route for the run was mostly the same as other recent Bridle Trail runs. I was running around on the East side of the trails and hit some of the short steep technical downhills to practice my fast descending. After all of the descending at Chuckanut that just trashed my quads, I wanted to warm them up with some more fast footwork. By the end of the run my legs were feeling much better than when I started. It felt great to get the blood flowing.

Tuesday 3/22 (5.6mi, 42min, 7:42/mi) I had so much fun running in the Trail Gloves on Monday that I did it again on Tuesday. Someone's horrible sense of time running a meeting at work meant that I only had about 1:15 to change, run, shower, change, and eat lunch. I still ran the same route I'd planned (Bridle Trails) but ran it about 8 minutes faster. I started out at just over an 8min pace and then picked up the speed to see how it felt to run fast in the new shoes. My splits dropped to 8:12, 7:26, 6:56, and finally 6:43. Only being 3 days after a 50K race, this surprised me somewhat. I got a childlike sense of enjoyment pushing a fast pace around the soft dirt trails in the minimalist shoes. As cheesy as it sounds, I did feel more connected to the ground as I ran. The increased feedback on how I was planting my feet was great. The only drawback so far of running in these shoes is the strain that I put on my calves because I haven't been running enough barefoot miles over the winter to prepare for the change in stride and form.

Thursday 3/24 (6.2mi, 47:37, 7:44/mi)
I chose lifting weights on Wed over running to give my legs a break. I have to remember that I'm still recovering from a race. (Maybe the ice bath and Udo's Oil really made a difference on Saturday). Thursday I decided to run my old Pro Club Loop. The route is mostly on sidewalk or asphalt so I went with the MT101 shoes for a little bit more cushioning and to give my calves a break. I started out easy and picked up the effort to a steady <7:30 pace for the second half of the route. I felt good but I could feel a little bit of tightness developing in my right Piriformis. So far tempo running in the MT101s seems to trigger the pain. I hope it's something I can find a way around through training or footwear.

Friday 3/25 (2.0mi, 18min, 9:00/mi)
I ran two miles at an easy pace on the treadmill at the gym wearing the Trail Gloves. Just two miles to warm up and get the blood flowing before I lifted weights. I wanted to see how the shoes felt on a steady unchanging surface. They were pretty good and I liked how low the soles are but they didn't have as much feel as I thought they would. Now I wonder how it would feel to run barefoot on a treadmill. I should try it after work one day at the gym in my building.

Saturday 3/26 (3.5mi, 30min, 8:30/mi)
I only had half an hour for a run so I ran out to the top of the tunnel trail and back It was a bit muddy up there and getting pretty overgrown. The Trail Gloves felt pretty good on the soft dirt.

Sunday 3/27 (3.5mi, 31:30, 9:00/mi)
A rare two-run weekend for me. I didn't have time for a proper run so I grabbed a Cross Cut saw and some gardening clippers and ran out to the tunnel trail. I cut back all of the bush and branches that were overhanging the trail and in my way. I also moved a fallen tree that's been across the trail for the last two years. When it fell it landed between two pair of trees in such a way that it sat about 5 1/2 feet high across the trail. I've been ducking under it every time I run the trails and lately it's been slowly slipping lower. It was probably just under 5' high which meant that instead of slowing down and running under it, I had to stop and walk under it carefully. I sawed one end of the log off and the tension of the two trees that it was wedged between on the other side of the trail caused it to pivot to the side of the trail as if someone has swung it like a baseball bat. I had to be quick to get out of the way before it knocked me out of it's way. I did manage to bloody myself up pretty good with all of the thorny vines and whacking myself on the wrist with the saw once on accident.

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