A plug for Saucony running shoes

After an hour long visit to Sports Basement in Sunnyvale, I ended up with a pair of Saucony Progrid Omni 6 running shoes. After an analysis by the very helpful and knowledgeable sales staff we determined that I have overpronation. (It it very difficult to find references to the word “pronate”, it is always defined as “pronation” or “overpronation”.) This was explained to me as a tendency for my ankle to collapse while running. As a result I ended up with the highest level of ankle support available. Proper running shoes are rated with different levels of ankle support which makes it easier to know which shoes will work best for you.

The shoe selection process was much more scientific than I have ever had before. I tried on 15 different shoes and did comparisons between them by putting one type of shoe on one foot and a different on the other. Each iteration of this process involved jogging up the path in the store being observed by the sales associate. He was also very patient when I wanted to repeat tests with the types of shoes on opposite feet than I had already tried; it seemed that whichever shoe was on my left foot always felt better since my right knee is where my injury is.

The real test is how they performed when I ran. On Thursday, my workout plan was to swim one half mile, and then to run 1.4 miles. I’m happy to report that I felt no pain in my knee that day, nor the day after. In all fairness, it could have been the difference between swimming as a warm-up versus the elliptical trainer as a warm up. Today, the workout will be 40 minutes on the elliptical followed by 1.6 miles.

Other good news: I’m ahead of the curve on running. With luck and perseverance I will pass the 1.5 mile marker running today.

Plan Update

Based on inspiration wand wisdom from my buddy Art Clarke I’ve put more thought into this weeks training regimen. For those who don’t know him, Art is one of the more clever people I’ve had the luxury to work with. If you want to learn from someone’s successes he’s a fine choice. If you want to learn from his failures, he’s good for that too. Check out his blog here.

Training for this week:

  • Tuesday (today): 35 minute normal workout on the elliptical trainer. Run 1.1 miles on the treadmill focusing not at all on speed, and entirely on form. Stretch after workout.
  • Thursday: Go to a store and hopefully purchase proper running shoes of joint saving quality. Swim 1/2 mile, then run 1.3 miles. Stretch after workout
  • Weekend: Do either an elliptical workout then run 1.4 miles, or cycle at least 10 miles. Since I have no structured daytime plans, doing both is not out of the question.
  • Consider purchasing an inexpensive cycling computer to gather higher quality data for cycling training.
  • Put out of mind that I drooled over a Cannondale cyclocross bike in a shop last weekend. My Bianchi is just fine.

The Mile Marker

A worthy and useful plan must include milestones. Since I’m training for a triathlon, my plan includes fitness milestones, and today, I crossed the first one: I ran one mile.

In most circles, running a mile is not considered that big a deal, nor should it be. However, since my relationship to running has been tense at best this is meaningful for the following reasons:

  • This is a mile run without pain on a previously injured knee.
  • This is a mile run after a workout on the elliptical trainer
  • This is a mile run when I didn’t really feel like working out

Next milestone: running 2 miles.

Days left until triathlon: 48

*edit – there was a slight amount of pain in the knee after the run. It was not evident the next day, which is when it is typically the worst. Training tomorrow will involve a 1.1 mile run.

Training for a sprint distance triathlon: The Plan

So what am I doing to train exactly? As I alluded to in a previous entry, the obvious first step is to evaluate my present fitness level.

Can I presently:

  • Swim .5k – yes
  • Bike 20k – yes
  • Run 5k – no

In my case, the focal point of my training is becoming clear. I need to work on running. Compounding the situation is that running is the last phase of a triathlon, so I’ll have to do it after swimming and biking, which means I’ll be starting the run tired. I interpret this as a secondary focus of training on general endurance.

Because of the subtle injury in my knee, I’m taking the running pretty slow. I’ve done three training sessions so far, distances of 0.50, 0.63, and 0.75 miles. The encouraging news here is that I have not felt pain in the knee at all. It is possible that a treadmill is a much more forgiving situation than hard ground. It could also be that since I’m doing the running after I’ve done a workout on an elliptical trainer, the good long warm up has made things work that much better. It could be both or neither. Whichever way this is a good sign.

However, at the present rate I’ll be running 3 miles right around the date of the Triathlon, which does not seem like sufficient preparation. If I move the increment of mileage up from .125 to .250. This puts me at a 3 mile distance around the middle of October, which meets other training goals that I have (more on that one in my next post).

The plan, in all of it’s documented formality:

  • twice per week, at the gym: swim and run. Swim at least 1/2 mile. Run incrementally more each time, working up to 3 miles by mid-October
  • Every weekend bike 10-15 miles.
  • In mid-October, do a simulated triathlon at the gym (swim .5k, bike 20k, run 5k)

The Motivational Toolbox: How-to Keep Exercising

Staying motivated may be the hardest thing to do when forming new habits. Remember all of those great resolutions for the new year that have fallen by the wayside. One method I’ve used is to find a training partner: the idea is that you’re accountable to your training partner to show up on schedule. Skipping a work out becomes a social liability, “Hey, why did you flake on our running date at the last minute?”.Since I can never seem to find a training partner that has a schedule or commitment like mine, I often turn to books to keep myself honest and my motivation up. Ultimate Fitness: The Quest for Truth about Health and Exercise by Gina Kolata is a great book that examines many of the myths of fitness and claims made by those selling exercise routines, diets, equipment, etc. Kolata is a science reporter at the New York Times, which in my opinion gives her better than average credibility and means that she can explain things in English as you and I understand it.

Speaking of motivation, it was reading Ultimate Fitness the first time a couple years ago that really got me to push myself in my exercise regime. It seems that it’s time for a reread, so look for a full fledged review in a couple of weeks.

Ultimate Fitness by Gina Kolata

Swim. Bike. Run?

he three elements of a triathlon are swimming, cycling, and running. Two of these I enjoy and am decent at. The third will take the most of my dedication and effort to think about. Throw in a knee that historically is uncooperative and we’ve a real recipe for non-success.My loathe for running has been with me as long as I can remember. My parents were both runners, which, even as a child, I never understood. I was a pretty athletic kid, but I still hated running laps around the field during PE in school. Running as part of soccer, basketball, or any other sport was just fine, but as a end unto itself, forget it.

Fast forward to 2006. I really got my act together and lost a good bit of weight (30 lbs). I figured, just for kicks, that I might give running or jogging another shot just to see what the fuss was all about. It turned out, the being 30 lbs. lighter made quite the difference. It wasn’t a barrel of monkeys exactly, but it was approaching fun. So I went out for a second shot a few days later. That’s when the knee pain started. Since then, after any activity that puts stress on the knee I feel it the next day.

As physiological problems go, this is pretty minor. It is merely irritating; it does not even rank as inconvenient. That being said, it would seem to serve as a warning that going further down this road may be potentially damaging.

Action Item: See a doctor about the knee and make sure this is a good idea not the worst idea ever.

Running With It

A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I were at the neighbors place having a good time when out of the blue we made a pact to do a sprint distance triathlon.

A week later I figured we were joking and no one remembered anything about it. Being one for clarity I figured I would check into it and apparently we are.

And thus begins training..