“It’s important to remember that each footstrike carries you forward, not backward. And every time you put on your running shoes you are different in some way than you were the day before.”
– John “The Penguin” Bingham, Author and Runner
I recently joined a mass of runners for an group run organized by Portland Running Company (PRC). It was an event I had been looking forward to for three weeks, ever since the email announcement landed in my inbox. A run from their SE store to Peacock Lane for holiday light viewing, returning to the store for hot cocoa and shoe shopping. What could be more enticing? I found myself extremely motivated at work, efficiently completing my tasks for the day to leave work on time to get to this event. I had asked a few friends if they wanted to join me, but in the end made the trek to PRC solo.
When I arrived, the store was packed! I had never seen so many people gathered for a fun, friendly, short, easy group run. I was ecstatic! Walking through the door to donate the jackets I brought with me, I was giggling with excitement. So many people in bright running clothes, fluorescent yellows and reflective stripes, beanies and headlamps, and flashing lights being passed out to clip on to clothing for added safety. I was surrounded by my people! Or rather, like-minded persons who appreciate running, safety, and camaraderie. The anticipation was almost as high as pre-race giddiness, but we were all there for fun without the time chip and anxiety of competition.
Halfway to Peacock Lane I found myself in conversation with another runner, and it made the experience even more enjoyable to share the joy of the lights (as my new friend had never been to Peacock Lane, and I had not visited since my childhood). The run was four miles, which we swore could not have been more than 3 because it was so easy and so much fun.
Post run, I decided to take advantage of the offered discount for jacket donation, and found myself purchasing a pair of Saucony Kinvara 3, in a brilliant colorway. I have been running in my Vibram shoes for most of the year (the Komodosport LS or the KSO), and the past few times I have noticed how uncomfortably cold my toes are at the beginning of my run. I do not wear socks with my barefoot shoes, so the chill of the concrete (most of my runs take place on the sidewalk) seeps right through. On the Peacock Lane run, I found my feet were cold, and toes were numb, for the first two miles. Eventually, my toes and feet were warm again, but then quickly the run was over. For the winter, I have decided some insulation between my foot and the ground may be beneficial, and as I add miles to my training program, switching between barefoot running and running in a moderately minimal shoe sounds appealing. I took them out for a jaunt this weekend.
Admittedly, after barefoot running, wearing a “real” running shoe feels very different. I was able to try on several pair of shoes at Portland Running Company, and this Saucony Kinvara felt most light and natural on my foot. The footbed is accommodating, but not overly wide. There is some midline arch support, but it is not too noticeable as I wear them. The most surprising part of the shoe I am aware of while running is the heel cup and the top heel edge. The back of the shoe is taller than the Vibram shoe, and much more structured, therefore I was able to feel it against the back of my achilles. Overall, I really like these shoes. Perhaps they are not as minimal as I would like (any suggestions for a real racing flat?), but the Saucony keeps my foot much warmer, ending the search for a shoe to keep my toes from going numb from cold.
And look at them. They are so cool!
I have long been looking for a way to become ready for running and train more seriously. I now realize that you can’t “look for a way” to become ready. It happens. Running is something you simply do, and when you are finally making time for the activity and it is a normal routine to put the shoes on and pound some pavement, that is when you can really begin training.
Last week, I ran four times, logging 15 miles. I know this is a pretty minimal amount of mileage for a runner, but for me, this is the beginning of a great change. A great challenge. I want to run a marathon next year, and I intend to set goals (a.k.a. shorter races along the way), a training schedule, and keep a log to help myself reach this goal. My grandpa was kind enough to give me a couple of well-loved, and highly recommended books for training purposes:
To start the year of 2013 on the right foot, I am signed up for Portland’s First Run 2013, a 5K at midnight on the 31st. I am hopeful that a couple of friends may join me (wink, wink to all you running buddies out there) to bring in the New Year at a trot, but if not, I am sure I will make new friends out on the course.
Wishing you all joy in running!