First Impressions and Run in Altra Superior – 3/1/13

I got my Altra Superiors this afternoon after ordering them from Optimal Run on Wednesday – I don’t know why it took so long (yes that is sarcasm, this was faster than I thought it would be).

Optimal Run Thank You.2

Honestly, I am super impressed with the way Patton and the staff do things and recommend them highly to buy running shoes online.

I have really wanted the Superiors since they came out and came really close to getting a pair when I was at #RWHalf back in October. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and money, so I didn’t get them then. The more I have researched and read other reviews of the Superiors, it only confirmed that I wanted them for my trail shoes this year.

Appearance

The Superior is a great looking shoe and I imagine when the next generation comes out that there will be more colors to choose from. Personally, I tend to like the brighter colors, but I do like the way the Superior looks with its Green, gray and black.

Altra Superior Long Laces.2

Looking closely at the shoes, they had a few Irish Pennants (that old military in me), which I took care of with scissors and a lighter. Otherwise the construction was excellent, no noticeable stitching problems and the sole to shoe was secure. The shoe laces were a LOT too long, this really doesn’t matter to me, since I put Lock Laces on all of my shoes now, but it would have bugged me if I had kept them in.

I am not going to get into the removable rock plate – a lot of others have written about it. I think it is a great idea and I will put it back in, if I am going to do any gnarly trails. For around here, I have a feeling that I will be fine without it and without it the shoes are a little lighter and flexible.

Superiors and Rock Plate

The shoe’s tongue is different and initially I was wondering how comfortable it would be. After wearing the shoe for a while, it didn’t bother at all. You just have to ensure that it is smooth before you start.

Let’s get down to brass tacks, while looks and construction are important, what matters to me is how the shoe fits and how it feels to run in.

Fit

I LOVE the Superior’s fit. I am one of those unlucky guys who is an in-between size, my foot is too big for most 7.5 and a little too small for many 8.0’s, so it is hard for me to get a good fit. The Superior’s fit my feet better than all of the shoes I have worn over the past year. I think they run a little small, according to everything I have read, so the 8.0’s I got, fit my hard to fit feet perfectly.

Feel

My right quad has been bugging me a little since Monday, so I didn’t want to go run outside today on snow-covered icy slush, that is just asking for problems, especially in shoes I have never run in before.

Road Conditions 3-1-13

So I did something that I have never done, even though the Superior’s are a trail shoe, I decided that my first run in them would be a treadmill run. I thought it would be a good test of how comfortable they are and I would be able to compare more easily to my present Altra Instinct’s.

Remember this is the first time I have run in these shoes. Here is my workout today:

  • 3.0 miles @ 6.7 mph
  • 4.0 miles @ 7.0 mph
  • 3.0 miles @ 7.3 mph

That’s right I ran 10.0 miles in new trail shoes on a treadmill and didn’t have ANY issues or problems with the Superiors. I don’t recommend that others run this far in new shoes, especially new zero drop running shoes – especially, if you haven’t ever run in them before. This was more Harold being Harold, than someone being smart about running in new shoes, but that is a different story :-).

Treadmill 3-1-13

I have never run 10.0 miles as my first run in any running shoe (maybe my second run, but not my first), so this run totally impressed me! That it was on a treadmill and I could stop, if problems developed probably helped, but still, I have not run that far on the first run in a pair of new running shoes for my first run.

My Superiors were very, very comfortable, no hot spots and the tread didn’t bother the soles of my feet, which really surprised me. I thought that the more aggressive tread would become an issue on the treadmill.

Altra Superior Tread

I figured that I would probably get in 6.0 miles max, before the Superiors would start to bother me or my quad would act up – neither happened. Actually, I could have gone further than 10.0 miles, without any problem with my new shoes!

Now to get them outdoors and see how the Superior’s feel outside!

If the Superior’s live up the expectations they have made on this first run, I have a feeling that I will be putting a LOT of miles on them and it won’t just be trail miles. I have not had too many pairs of running shoes, that I felt this positive about, the first time I have run in them. It will be interesting to see how I feel at 50 and 300 miles.

Overall, my first impressions of the Altra Superior’s are this – WOW!!!

On a side note – I found the perfect fuel for me before double-digit runs — Yellow Bunny PEEPS and you have to bite their heads off before eating the rest ;-).

Bennie and the Peeps

He was a good boy and didn’t touch them!

RunLog 3-1-13

 

What I Learned In February 2013

IMG_0219

It is the end of February and I get to do a quick look back and think about the progress I have made for getting ready to run the Marine Corps Marathon in October.

It is hard to believe that in just over 6 months I will be running a marathon again.

I have some BIIIGGG news that I will be sharing in the next week or so, that directly impacts my participation in the Marine Corps Marathon – it is something GREAT!!!

We are just working out the details now. It is very, very cool, but that is all I can say right now.

What I learned in February

The biggest thing that I have learned this month is that I am not running slow enough on my recovery runs and at the right pace on my faster runs. Looking back most of my training runs were run – between 7:30 and 8:30, which means I have to really look at how I am training.

I am finally figuring out that my seat of the pants, train according to how you feel, isn’t going to work, preparing for the marathon. I  will be 56 in August (which isn’t that old) and I still tend to train like I am 25. Which causes me to break down, because I am doing more than my body can handle (yes it sucks to get older physically).

I know that I do need more structure in my training! However, adding more structure will be hard for me, because I do really hate training plans and how rigid they tend to be…it will be interesting to see how well this goes.

What training methods am I looking at using to prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon?

  • Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training and the Runner’s World Challenge Program
  • Hanson’s Marathon Method
  • Find a local running coach, who shares my running philosophy (or at least close) and have them worry about what my training plan and for me to just do it.

Right now I am leaning more towards the Hanson method, even though all are great ways to prepare for a marathon. The Hanson’s Method seems closer to what I have been doing, except for the long run piece (which always seems to be the point where I get injured) and provides me with enough structure to properly prepare me for the marathon. Plus I can do it for free, which is a consideration.

Lots to think about on the training front.

Running form

As a result of the Strider’s race in January and the videos I saw of myself, I have gone back to really working on improving my form again. I bought the Pose Method of Running book and read that and picked up a few pointers on changes that I should make to my running form. I know that eventually I am going to have to suck it up and go to a day-long running form clinic to do it right. Now to find one within a few hours of where I live, that is the tough part.

However, if I got a running coach, that would be part of the deal, they would have to help me with my form.

Injuries

I have been lucky, things seem to be healing up nicely, the only thing of consequence has been self-inflicted. I kept running a fast tempo run, even though I could feel my quad tightening up, which has resulted in a reduction in mileage and speed for a few days. I just have to listen to my body better.

Stats

Here is a quick review of my February Stats

  • February Total Miles Run: 160.9
  • Miles Walked: 77.55
  • Days Run: 23
  • Days Off: 5
  • Longest Run: 13.2 – Home-Leighton Road-Mary’s Work
  • Fastest Run: 8.0/7:19 Tempo run on Treadmill
  • Best Week: 51.01 week ending 2/3/13

Month in Review Feb 2013

Shoes Run In

I have been running in my Altra Instinct’s (1.0 & 1.5) all month and have been feeling GREAT in them. I have run fast on the treadmill and done well outside (even in the middle of a blizzard). They have impressed me enough so that I just bought the Altra Superiors, so I would have a better pair of shoes for running trails and in the nasty weather we get up heah in Maine during the winter. I can’t wait to get them.

  • Altra Instinct 1.0 – Personal Purchase  that have 253.67 miles on them.
  • Altra Instinct 1.5 – Media sample from #RWHalf  that have 115.66 miles on them.

Honestly, I believe that if you do not have perfect running form, that the style of running shoe you run in, does make a difference and can help you focus more on a different style than you have used in the past. I definitely don’t have good running form and I believe that the Altra Zero Drop shoes are helping me think more about how I run and focus on a mid-foot/forefoot landing that I want.

No I am not affiliated with Altra Running Shoes, other than being a fan of their stuff and that I like some of the staff that I met back in October at the #RWHalf.

While I am very happy with my current running shoe rotation, but want to try the Torin’s (more cushioning for long runs) and The One (racing flat) also.

Running Goals

Good progress, while I worked hard at my running, I didn’t allow it to become work. I still look forward to my runs and don’t get too wound up about them if they are not what I am looking for that day.

This year my holistic goals are:

Keep running fun – It is not a job. So far dong well, I am enjoying my running, even if I do push myself pretty hard every so often.

Listen to the words of advice in my current tagline. Be positive, be strong and keep smiling = great things can happen. I changed my tagline to:

Do Not Go Quietly Into the Night

I don’t want to let my getting older, become the reason that I get old and boring! I want to live life and enjoy it, not become the old grouch down the road. Doing pretty good on this one!

Be Me: Continuing to do a lot better on this one, I am who I am.

I will not sweat the small stuff. I am sweating some things that won’t matter a year from now, but now they do seem important, so I need to work on this one.

I will control my social media presence. I think that I have found a good balance and will try to maintain it.

Improve my running form. Making a lot of progress

My measurable 2013 Goals

  1. Run at least 2,013 miles in 2013 – 234.17 miles so far
  2. Run at least 300 days in 2103 – 49 so far.
  3. Run a sub 20:00 5K at the Joseph’s 5K in Fairfield in April
  4. Run a 10K sub 45:00.
  5. Run a sub 1:35:00 at the Rail Trail Half Marathon in Augusta in June
  6. Run a sub 3:30:00 at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in October.
  7. Run at least 13 races in 2012. Ran 1 so far

I finished the 1983 MCM Marathon and to finish Marine Corps again 30 years later will be very cool and would be even more fantastic, if I could qualify for Boston that same day.

As you can see February has been a month where I have done a lot of learning and re-evaluating my training and running form. I have also done a lot of research and reading about how to improve my training and running form, which I believe will help reduce and avoid my previous issues with over-use injuries. Maybe even force me to admit that I am almost 56 and can’t train like I am still 25 – nawwww probably won’t happen. 😉

I plan to keep on fighting growing-up until I can’t anymore, so I imagine that my body will have to keep reminding me that I am 56 in its own way :-).

10.0 Good Miles in my Altra Instinct 1.5’s

Altra Instinct 1.5

My knees are starting to get that regrettable ache, that tells me it is time to think about replacing my primary running shoes.

Fortunately, I have a pair of almost new Altra Instinct 1.5’s in storage, that were just begging for me to run in them again.

Hamstrings

Back in November when I put the Instinct’s in storage, I didn’t know if they were or were not the cause for my hamstring woes. I wanted to let my hamstrings heal completely before I started to run in the Instinct’s again.

Unfortunately, I have found out that my hamstrings are a weak link and until I really work on strengthening them, they will continue as an issue for me. However, since I haven’t been wearing the Altra Instinct 1.5 or 1.0’s for a couple of months, I do know that the Altra Zero Drop shoes are not the reason for my hamstring problems. What a relief it is.

Photo by David Colby-Young

The Biggest Reason

However, the biggest reason that I am going back to my Altra Instincts 1.5’s as my primary running shoe is that, my form has deteriorated badly!

I have reverted to being an inverted “V ” runner again.

During the 34th Annual January Thaw Road Race yesterday my feet were slapping the ground far too much and when I looked at the race photos and video that David Colby-Young took, I was over-striding and landing on my heels – not good.

The bottom-line is that I have gotten lazy with my form and I need to get back to basics and running in the Altra Instincts will help me do that.

Today’s Run

What I did today, I Do NOT recommend that anyone else do and I have a feeling when Jeremy at @AltraZeroDrop reads this he will just shake his head say that is just Harold being Harold.

8.0 Mile Treadmill Run

Treadmill 2.0 Miles 1-28-13

I did a total of 10.0 miles on the treadmill this morning for my first run in my Altra Instinct 1.5’s since November.

I had planned on doing only 3.0 this morning, but I felt good and kept going and going and going. The only problem was my right sock, just felt like I had pulled it on too tight and I had to stop at 8.0 miles and take the shoe off and fix the sock. Then I ran 2.0 more miles to give me the 10.0 miles at close to an 8:00 minute pace.

I know you are not supposed to run 10.0 miles for a first run in zero drop shoes and need to transition a lot more slowly to the Altra Shoes.

Today I just ran and felt pretty good the whole time. After the run, I did a hard lower body workout and felt really good doing that. Sitting here writing this post, my legs feel tired, just like they should after running 10.0 miles but they are not sore (no not even the calves). Will I pay tomorrow, for some reason, I don’t think so.

Before the Run

Before running this morning I reviewed this video that I took at the #RWHalf of Golden Harper talking about proper running form to get my mind back on what I need to do with my improving my form.

Golden Harper on Running Form – link to the YouTube video

While I was running I really focused on landing less on my heels, more towards the forefoot, with a shorter stride length and quicker turnover. At first the Altra Instinct’s felt a lot different from the shoes I have been running in, but by the time I got to the half mile point, I was running comfortably. It was almost as though my body had decided this is what it needed now. I didn’t have any issues other than the one with the sock and I definitely felt good running – best of all, no achiness in my knees.

The reality is that

I like how Altra ZeroDrop views and interacts with the running community both online and in person, along with their commitment to their customers. However, it seemed that I had more hamstring issues when I was running in this style of running shoes, so I put them in the closet for a couple of months, to see if they were the problem or if it was me. I found out it was a “me” problem, not a shoe style issue!

Even though I was not wearing AltraZeroDrop shoes, I continued to keep in contact with their staff on Facebook and Twitter. To be blunt I like the Altra Staff that I met down at the Runner’s World Half Festival last October and felt a real connection with some of them. They impressed me down there and since, with their presence on social media, with their dedication to running and truly wanting to help runners improve.

This commitment of the staff at Altra to go beyond just selling shoes, goes along with my philosophy of “doing the right thing for the right reasons”, which in turn makes me want to use their products, whenever I can.

No I am not an ambassador for Altra and am not affiliated with their company in any way. Disclosure: I did receive the Altra Instinct 1.5’s  that I ran in today as part of my blogger swag bag at the Runner’s World Half Festival – like the other 26 FitFluential Ambassadors who were there did.

Treadmill 1-28-13

I purchased and ran in the Alta Instinct 1.0 (my 50 mile review) long before I got any swag at Runner’s World and have been talking with @AltraZeroDrop since at least last February, so I have been watching AltraZeroDrop develop and how they respond and interact on Twitter and Facebook over the past year and have been impressed.

The people at Altra and premise behind their Zero Drop shoes are the reasons that I want to run in AltraZeroDrop running shoes and want it to work so much that I keep coming back to their shoes. I hope that all of my runs are as good as today’s 10.0 miler!

Now to look at their new shoe lineup for 2013 and I eventually buy a pair of Superiors – I liked them a lot when I saw them at #RWHalf, but just couldn’t get the fit right in the short amount of time that we had to try things on. 🙂

Runner’s World Meet and Greet BBQ

Tonight was a meet and greet BBQ at The Runner’s World Offices. Usually these kind of things are something you gotta do as part of work, but tonight I was excited about going! Being a runner this is one of those places that I have dreamed about going to and having the  opportunity to meet so many of the Runner’s World Staff and also my fellow FitFluential Ambassadors in an atmosphere conducive to mingling in a relaxed atmosphere.

The ride over was noisy, with everyone introducing themselves, getting to know one another (beyond our Twitter handles or Blog Names).

Then when we got to Runner’s World we were met by Bart Yasso and David Willey

Bart Yasso telling me that I was lucky to be the only guy with the ladies tonight.

David Willey – Editor-In-Chief – Runner’s World

Amby Burfoot – figured out who I was (we did SpeedWork (I got to watch his back a lot) together at the USCGA Indoor Track back in 85 & 86) after we talked for a while.

Amby Burfoot and Golden Harper from Altra Running

Michelle (NYCRunningMama) and me.

Amanda L. (Mizz Zippy) and me

I could just keep putting more and more pictures into this post, because there were so many Runner’s World Staff and FitFluential Ambassadors that I met tonight, who were simply fantastic! It was almost like I knew so many of them after talking with them online over the past year.

The food was GREAT and I was good – I only had two Brownies and one Chocolate Chip cookie!

I also got fitted for the Altra Superior Trail Shoe and found out that they run just about a full size small for me, compared to my Instinct’s 1.0, but I know that I can’t wait to run in them, especially on some trails that I have back home.

The Altra Running staff were absolutely great and knowledgeable about their shoes and made sure that all the Ambassadors shoes fit correctly.

Overall, the night was a lot of fun, I got to meet a lot of GREAT people, and learned a lot more about Runner’s World and Altra Running. That they are all passionate about running and love to talk about it with other runners. Also they are more than just names in a magazine are fantastic people who love running as much as we do.

However, the best part is that I got to meet so many of my other FitFluential Ambassadors who I have Tweeted with online, Read their blogs and Facebook pages!