Wearing in my shoes – Topo MT2

I was desperately in need of some new shoes. The old ones had split on the sides, and the even older ones felt like they had flat tires. So I went into Gord’s Running Store in Calgary, tried on a couple pair and walked out with Topo MT2 trail running shoes. I had never heard of Topo before but I have been very happy with them. They were strongly recommended if I wanted something between moon shoes (think Hoka’s) and tight fitting trail shoes (my most recent New Balance). Maybe something like my old Pearl Izumi’s but something that didn’t blow through the toes so quick because of all the downhill I do. I don’t have a good sense for what makes good trail shoes, just for what has not lasted very long for me.

The Topo’s I purchased are very wide at the toes (like Altra’s), but they don’t have the arch like Altra’s do. They are light like Hoka’s, but not as wide. And they dry quickly. They have decent enough traction but not so aggressive you don’t want to use them on the road occasionally. I’ve always struggled with laces coming undone, but for some reason, these laces seem to just stay tied. Nothing worse (almost) than laces that keep coming undone at inopportune times. And the 3mm drop works well with me. No blisters, no problems with the toenails, and no hot spots.

So this morning as I was walking around indoors it suddenly felt a little lower on the outside of the heel. Both heels. Was it my imagination? On closer inspection I noticed that the grip was starting to wear on the heel. Have I overused them on sharp rocks? Has my family been sneaking them into their runs? Has our cat been gnawing on the rubber? Then I calculated backward and realized that I already had 400 km on them, and much of it on tough gravel. Maybe shoes aren’t supposed to last forever but I’d love these ones to last.

On the trail I don’t notice the loss of thickness in the grip at the back so I plan to keep using them much longer this summer. I’m sure I will put another 400km on them before anything else wears out on them but I was a little disappointed. I mean, I just bought them 5 weeks ago. But 400 km in 5 weeks is a lot, I guess.

I guess Gord will be seeing me a couple more times this summer.

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Goodbye, Old Pals

You don’t say goodbye to a pair of running shoes everyday, but it can be a slightly mournful day when you have to send those tired runners to that great shoe pile in the sky. I like to think that those worn out shoes are chatting up a storm in that mountain of a pile as they compare tales of their adventures and where they’ve been.

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My most recent pair that gave up the ghost had holes where my feet had burst through the sides on both shoes on both sides. Also, the nails of my big toes had pierced through the front. Needless to say, these trail shoes no longer kept the grit out of my feet. And the cushioning was long gone. I couldn’t even use this pair for a backup. I had worn them too long.

We had been through a lot together. Those shoes had summitted mountains, logged hundred of miles on trails, run through small creeks, and not-so-small creeks. They had run cross-country races through the ice, mud, and snow. They prepped me for my longest race ever – 87km last August. They took me through my December run streak. They lasted through my Spring buildup this year.

They were my first pair of ORANGE shoes. Me, in orange shoes? I never would have thought. I think my teen daughters were jealous but they wouldn’t admit it. The orange shoes that are currently in the entrance way are not mine. I must have started a trend.

My next pair isn’t standing out quite so much among the mound of shoes in our house, except for the fact that they are still shiny. And I do like new shiny shoes. A new pair feels so good when the old pair really has nothing left to give. But the new pair doesn’t know what it’s in for. It doesn’t know where it might be headed tomorrow and what kind of runner has brought them home.

So I am ready to introduce myself to the new pair. There are trails to be run and adventures to be had. We can’t be mourning that old pair for too long. Let’s get out there!

Blisters (not!)

Even after my 87 km race my toes are healthy, blister-free, and there is no sign of black toe nails.

Maybe I am lucky to have hardy feet, or lucky to be picking the right shoes and socks but I have never had trouble with blisters, chafing on my feet or black toe nails.

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What am I doing right? I am not sure but here’s some things I am doing to make sure those feet problems don’t crop up.

Many of my socks have 2 layers. One slides with the shoe and one with the foot. The only sliding action is between the two layers of the sock. These are available at running stores and probably cost more than other socks but they seem to work well. Blisters be gone!

I tie the toe end of my shoe laces quite tight to prevent my feet from slipping around. This is especially critical on the steep downhills. The tightness you get them out of the store is never enough, I find. Experiment, but definitely if there is any downhill, tighten ’em up.

I keep my toe nails short. One of my rituals before a race is to cut them. I have learned the hard way that nails that are too long can hurt when they bounce up against the front of your shoe and if they do that too long they might go black and fall off (only happened once – 30 years ago).

Be barefoot or in sandals as much as possible. I don’t know if this does anything, but I know that being barefoot toughens up your feet to prevent them from going soft. And sandals keep your feet dry. Being in Canada, barefoot season doesn’t last long, but it is worth a shot for as long as possible.

Remember those two feet are all you got, and if they start screaming, it is pretty hard to ignore. Baby those 10 little piggies.

Shoe Saga

I had a no-win shoe choice for my 50 miler on Saturday. But I am glad to report that it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

As per my blog last week, my new trail shoes were still numbing my feet even after 100km of being broken in. So they were out. My very well worn road shoes had no grip, and my old trail shoes has lost both their cushioning and their grip. And I figured I couldn’t break in a new pair of shoes in a couple days.

So I brought both old pairs of shoes and planned to trade them and dry socks at the half way point.

The trail was very wet with numerous creek crossings so my feet were fully wet all day long. The dirt and mud caked my feet as I discovered when I swapped the shoes. And when I had to occasionally fish out sand and tree needles.

With 1 hour to go I suddenly had a blister coming on. I searched for the cause, perhaps some sand but frustratingly I couldn’t find it. It sure was painful though. But after inspecting after the race, a blister had not even materialized. I have super sensitive feet but I was sure they had been falling apart.

The very rocky terrain did a number on my grip. It seemed that well over half of the trail was loose sharp rocks that kept moving under my feet. With no grip to start with it was a bit hairy in sections. And for the parts that were not rocky, they were muddy. Better grip would have been very helpful but it probably would have been worn off by the end too.

And cushioning? I would have loved some cushioning. I was jealous of all those Hokas I saw out there.

This week I will be babying my feet. Sandals and bare feet will be my main choices for a while now.

And I will be doing some shoe shopping before my next race.

Awful Choices: Numb Feet, No Grip, or No Cushioning

Three weeks ago I wrote that my then new one-week old NB shoes were still giving me troubles. I figured I just needed to break them in a little more. Well, 150+ km later, my feet are still going numb after an hour of easy running. Both feet are going numb. I’ve concluded that they are too narrow for my feet. I was so looking forward to the lightness and grip (and “happy” colours) for the upcoming race.

But with an expected 12 hours on my feet, numb feet is not something I would even contemplate.

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So since I don’t have time to break in another pair of shoes, I will have to go with an older pair for Saturday’s race. My choices are my Asics road shoes and my Pearl Isumi trail shoes. Both have well over 800 km on them, maybe 1000 km, and both are severely lacking in grip. If the trail is dry they might have sufficient grip, but will definitely be short on cushioning. The trail is very rocky so the cushioning would be very nice.

Thicker socks? Backup socks? Band aids for blisters? Insoles? Grin and bear it?

Grr!

(Here’s my initial grumblings of the NB shoes after a few days of use.)

If it ain’t broken in yet, don’t race in it

My new shoes, just like any new running shoes I buy these days, need to be broken in. And it always seems my right foot needs more breaking in than my left. With my latest shoes, I have done 3 runs, and on each run after about 20 minutes my right foot has been going numb and tingly. The left a little but mostly the right. On one of the runs, my whole leg went tingly for 10 minutes before I was able to shake it out.

It has been this way with shoes that have a lot of drop and shoes that have only a little. Whether I run on pavement or on trails. And it usually lasts a couple weeks. Maybe I have weird feet that need to distort the soles. Maybe I don’t have much blood flow in my feet to start with.

I guess it is just the way it is. I will have to live with breaking in shoes. A reminder to wear your new shoes a few times before a race so you know how your feet will react.

Keeping my Feet Inspired All Day Long

I love a work place where you can wear your running shoes all day and no one even looks twice or comments on it. Everyone here knows I might jump up at any time and go for a run at lunch, late lunch, coffee break, or just run home.

My most comfortable shoes are running shoes. Why not wear them as much as possible? Why not keep my feet inspired all day to run?

Thinking about it, I don’t have many shoes that are not running shoes. Hmm, maybe I should diversify my footwear. But no, I have enough shoes already. I don’t need more (unless it is another pair of runners).

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Is it the shoes?

It’s down to the last five and a half weeks until the big marathon – Vancouver Marathon – May 3. The distances are getting really long, and the pressure is on to keep up the speed on the tempo runs. I’d really love to nearly meet or beat my best marathon time, but I don’t know if that really is a possibility. Some days I feel fast, but my longish run yesterday was painfully slow.

This weekend is a fast 15km and then a long 32km. We’ll see how this weekend goes and then I’ll know a little clearer what I’m capable of.

I know the last couple times when I was in the 3:09 to 3:20 range for marathon times, that the training really hurt too. And at that time I was surprised by how fast I was able to go on game day. Hopefully this time is the same.

Maybe it’s the shoes? My better times this season have been with my zero drop shoes but I can’t go beyond 20km without destorying my calves. My “normal” running shoes are more comfortable for longer runs, but why do my legs tire so much sooner?

I’m still experimenting with shoes with only 38 days to go. This shouldn’t be!

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Best of the Best

And now for a recap. Here’s the bestest of the best posts of the last few months. Well, at least they were the most popular.

#1 How to Cross a Creek (or NOT!!)

10849939_10152489114680334_1560160055020379127_n     Jeronimo!

#2 Trail Running in the Canadian Rockies

Floe Lake     Dog Lake

#3 Two Months of Running Bridges

Calgary Peace Bridge running
Peace Bridge – Nov 2014

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Fullerton Loop - Dec 2014
Fullerton Loop – Dec 2014

#4 Screw Shoes – It’s the Cat’s Meow!

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New year, new shoes

So I wasn’t planning on buying new shoes but I definitely needed some. I was looking for a winter coat at the end of winter sales even though end of winter is actually a long ways away. It turns out the store was also getting rid of their old stock of shoes at rock bottom prices.

So I bought two pair. I am sure they were only left over because the colors weren’t as popular as had been expected. But I am not picky. Both pairs were a mix of blue and yellow and matched each other very well and coincidentally matched the pair at home too.

But the fashion police will probably write me up for my red hat, yellow arm band, and my green pack that don’t match my old or new shoes.

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Then my wife bought a pair too. So we came home with 3 pairs of Merrells and are anxious to try them out.

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A new pair of shoes (or two) always makes a day so much better.