Showing posts with label Hattori. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hattori. Show all posts

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Born that Way (running shoe version)

Mister minimal at Bethpage this morning
Today's run (Bethpage trail): 5.2 miles
Yesterday's workout (elliptical): 50 minutes

We are who we are, no matter what we're told to be. After the minimalist running shoe movement started by the book, "Born to Run", I broke from the traditional style of running shoe (Nike Turbulence, Brooks Adrenaline, ASICS 1130, Saucony Grid Tangent, Adidas Response) and took delivery of a pair of Saucony Kinvaras. It was love at first run.

I put 500 miles on that pair of Kinvaras before retiring them. It was a new design and Saucony hadn't yet figured out how to make the soles more durable. My last run in them was a nine miler at Belmont Lake the weekend before the 2011 LI Half Marathon. I finished that run with a sore knee that plagued me throughout the race and for a couple of months after that. Despite a bad end to a great experience with the Kinvaras, I was eager to explore more minimalist shoes.
The original Kinvara
I am not what most people would describe as an efficient runner but I do really well with lower, less cushioned shoes. Following the Kinvara, I ran almost 400 miles in the zero-drop Hattoris, followed by another 500 miles in a pre-production pair of Brooks Pure Drifts. I liked the connection to the road that I got with those shoes and followed the Pure Drifts with a pair of Kinvara 3s. I used the K3s on the road for over 700 miles before making them my treadmill shoes. They probably have 1,000 miles on them by now.

Last year I managed to snag a pair of ASICS Kayano 20s for the astonishingly low price of $64. I know people who swear by the Kayanos, calling them the Lexus of running shoes, for their highly cushioned but stable ride. My speed was suffering and I thought I'd change it up with a return to an old-school shoe design. My initial experience with the Kayanos was disappointing, but I like them better now, mostly as a casual weekend shoe.

Saucony provided me an opportunity to test the new Triumph ISO, a shoe similar to the Kayano but modernized and lightened. All the same, it's a lot of shoe and it's neither low nor minimal. With both the Triumphs and Kayanos in my stable, I should be happy, but I've find myself going with my semi-minimal Saucony Virratas that have close to 700 miles on them. The Virrata's out-soles are very worn at this point and I don't want to invite injury.

(I'll) take Five
Yesterday I looked at shoes at one of the big box sporting goods stores and didn't see much that excited me. They didn't have Virratas or Kinvaras and I didn't like the current models from Brooks, ASICS or New Balance. I may order the Kinvara 5s online (the 6s got some bad reviews because of a new lacing feature). I'm not sure they even make the Virratas anymore. Too bad, I thought it was a great shoe.

I ended up wearing my Kayanos on today's run. The original plan was for the Runsketeers to get together at Bethpage but my buddies weren't able to make it this morning. I parked on Colonial and ran south for about 2.5 miles before turning around for the balance of the run. Conditions were good, with no direct sun but the humidity was 83%. I brought my water bottle and that worked fine. The only problem was that 21 ounces of water is heavy to carry. I was wishing for a smaller bottle by the second mile.

Tomorrow I return to work after what felt like a very long vacation. I was happy with my running and the distance I covered. I also got in a couple of good elliptical sessions because I have some slight sciatica and the no-impact workout seems to help that. I may visit a couple of running stores next weekend in search of my next minimal running shoe. What can I say? I was born to run minimally.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The pendulum of minimalism

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

I was reading an article that said the demand for minimal-style running shoes, once a growth segment, is beginning to decline. The book, Born to Run, made many people curious about barefoot-style running, and it forced us to reconsider the merits of the shoes we've always bought.

A few years ago, I saw a video of myself on the treadmill at Jackrabbit Sports. That clearly confirmed that I'm an over-pronater. The salesperson recommended that I buy a beefy, medially-posted "stability" shoe to correct that tendency. After all, they said, my stride made me susceptible to knee and IT band injuries. I wished at the time that I could wear a lighter shoe, but I feared the consequences.

I thought about all this on my run this morning. The idea that shoes with lots of cushioning would prevent certain types of injuries has been increasingly debated and challenged by many. That includes me. I wore out a a pair of Saucony Hattoris after 400 miles and I now run primarily in the Brooks Pure Drifts, Brooks' most minimal shoe. The Hattori and Drift are both simple designs. Each shoe weighs less than 6 ounces and neither has any stability features. After more than 700 miles running in that type of shoe, I haven't encountered a single problem.

Pure Drift

The dash toward barefoot running probably got too many people into minimal shoes too soon. Many are now going back to more cushy footwear. But the game has changed, and now even stability shoes have lighter construction. I know that many people feel that the shoe makes the runner. After 3+ years of (mostly) injury-free running, in barely-there neutral trainers, I respectfully disagree.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My speed is back, and just in time

Today's run (street): 3.2 miles

After weeks of focus on distance, I've turned my attention more towards speed. Yesterday's weight exercises were a good first step that provided direct benefits this morning. I decided to run in my Hattori's today. Between the colder weather and testing out new shoes, I haven't been wearing the Hattori's much and I've missed them. When I set out for today's run, I once again appreciated their simplicity and fit

Sorry Meb, they're nice, but not for me
We had stopped by Famous Footwear yesterday morning to get my son some new shoes and I took the opportunity to try on a pair of Skechers Go Run's. I've been intrigued by these shoes since Meb Keflezighi committed to them and the good reviews from both Running Times and Runner's World. I don't really consider Skechers a serious brand for running shoes, but this model seemed different.

My impression of the Go Run's was primarily positive except for a raised part of the mid-sole that helps facilitate a mid-foot strike. I appreciated the spirit but not the execution. For some who are looking to transition to a more minimal shoe, the Go Run may be a nice option.

The Hattori's inspired me to move and I came through the first mile at around 8:50. I maintained that pace through the second mile and then shifted into race mode until the end. I finished the 5K+ run with an overall pace of 8:32. Throughout my run, I used rapid arm motion to regulate my leg turnover and that produced my fastest training run so far this year.

Today's run reinforced my training plan and I feel good about my preparation going into Sunday's race. A little more speed and some end-of-week rest should get me there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Of all my running shoes, these were the best

GTS-10: like chicken soup for the sole
Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

My feet have been bothering me lately and I'm not sure what to do about it. My wife suggested that my tendency to switch shoes, rather than sticking to one pair, may be causing the issues. She may be right. The question is which pair to use? I've struggled to find my perfect running shoe and I haven't been too successful. But is the act of trying different models undermining the process?

I've tried a lot of shoes in the three-plus years since I've been running. Most were fine, some awful and a few great. But the great shoes also had their flaws. My two pair of Brooks Adrenaline's have never disappointed (I retired the GTS-9's after 700 miles, still using the GTS-10's), but they are old school in design, with a high platform and ramp angle. I run with the GTS-10's for recovery or if I detect a knee problem. A few runs in them seems to correct any issue.

The original Kinvaras were my second great model. They felt like the perfect shoe from the first time I tried them on and maintained that feel, almost to the end. But something happened and my last few runs resulted in knee pain that coincided with last year's Half Marathon. I'm hoping the new Kinvara 3's are sufficiently improved to ward that off after I've covered a few hundred miles in them.

Surprisingly, the best shoes, day in and day out, have been my Saucony Hattori's, a shoe so minimal it lacks a mid sole. But they are incredibly runnable, comfortable and responsive. The downside is that the uppers are ripping after 300 miles. I can still wear them, but time is running out. My second pair of Hattori's, that should feel and perform identically, don't fit correctly on my left foot and I've given up on them after 67 miles. It makes me wary of getting a replacement pair for my good Hattori's.

Right now I'm really pleased with the Spira Stingers, but I am experiencing this foot pain. I really don't think it's coming from these shoes and I'll run with them exclusively until Sunday. If my foot problems improve, I'll credit the Spiras. If they don't, I'll do a few runs in the GTS-10's and hope for a quick recovery.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stingers, Kinvaras or Hattori's? A hard choice to make

Hard to argue with success
I'm less than two weeks away from running my fourth consecutive Marcie Mazzola race.  The first time I ran it was in 2009 when the distance was 4 miles. The course was shortened the next year to 5K to increase the number of participants. What didn't change was the big hill on Woodhull Road that makes up a good part of the first mile. After three races along that course, I'm actually looking forward to the hill challenge this year.

Once runners get past the big hill, the course reverts to a net negative elevation, providing some great opportunities to let loose on the downhills. I'm on the fence about which running shoes I'll use for this race, but I'm thinking it may be between my latest two pairs: the Spira Stinger XLT's and the Saucony Kinvara 3's.

I've done my last two long runs in the Spiras and they have performed exceedingly well. I was prepared to dismiss them as a gimmick when offered the opportunity to test them on Runner's Tech Review and I'm glad I stayed open minded. Make no mistake about this shoe - it's lightweight, comfortable, supportive and responsive.

The Kinvara 3's are also very nice. I loved my original Kinvaras but found the Kinvara 2's less appealing each time I tried them on. To be fair, I never ran in them, so I don't really know how they'd have performed. I do know that the Kinvara 3's feel more like the original and, with their 4mm ramp angle, suit my preference for a lower platform. I have had noticeable irritation in one foot when running in these shoes, but I suspect it's as much a foot issue as it is a shoe problem.

It's hard to determine which of these shoes would serve me better for a fast 5K. Perhaps I'll simply opt for door #3 and run with the venerable Hattori's. These shoes, despite over 300 miles on their thin soles, still deliver one of the best running experiences I've ever encountered.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kinvara 3 discomfort - is it me or the shoe?

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Quit pokin' my plantar!
Winter returned to the New York area overnight and I stepped outside this morning into 30° temperatures. I wore the new Kinvara 3's to see how they'd feel after my feet had an opportunity to recover from a weekend of long running. I expected the new shoes to perform in a similar way to my original Kinvaras, and they did, but I also experienced some discomfort underfoot. Much to my chagrin, the mid-sole was poking noticeably against the sock liner on the lateral plantar fascia (top left side) of my foot.

I've had a similar issue with my second pair of Hattori's that cut in on the medial side, prompting me to retire them after only 70 miles. My other pair of Hattori's fits me perfectly after 300 miles of running. The problem with the Kinvaras could be more related to me than the shoes, and I'm hoping it isn't a design or fit problem. I went up 1/2 size on the Kinvaras because the Mirages feel slightly too snug in the toe-box, and I expected the same from the K3's.

Perhaps that sizing up created a vertical alignment issue that resulted in this issue. I'll run with the Kinvara 3's again tomorrow and, if the problem continues, I'll switch back to the Spiras for a few days. I really do like the Kinvara's design and by the end they did feel more comfortable. I just know that if the issue continues I'll probably end up passing them over for other, more comfortable, options.

Monday, March 5, 2012

One-line running shoe reviews

It's been a while since I've updated Runner's Tech Review but I may be testing a new pair of running shoes soon. These shoes are different and the manufacturer promises to deliver measurable gains in performance. That's always an intriguing notion, but I've rarely seen these claims pay off. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'm more than ready to find a replacement for my Hattori's that I've used both as a trainer and race shoe over the last year. I'm impressed that they've held up as well as they have after 300+ miles of pounding, but they are showing signs of wear. I have a second pair of Hattori's that were sent to me by Saucony but something about the fit is different. I find them unwearable after 60 miles of running.

Yesterday I had a little time in the middle of the day and went over to Dick's where I tried on a few pairs of running shoes. I didn't find my next pair but I was glad to reinforce what I expected. Here are my quick impressions:
  • Adidas adizero® Rush: Light, surprisingly comfortable, smooth roll, stiff fore-foot, high platform (too much heel).
  • Brooks Pure Cadence: Light, cushioned, tight arch/mid foot, awkward roll, expensive.
  • Brooks Adrenaline 12: Extremely comfortable, natural roll, moved well with foot, high platform (too much heel).
  • New Balance MT20: Tight forefoot (even 1/2 size up), light, uneven roll.
  • Merrell Road Glove:  Light, unstructured, wide toe box, lack of fore-foot response.
The New Balance experience concerned me because I've been waiting for the similar NB MR00 zero-drop road shoe that should be in stores soon. I've been hoping that will be a worthy successor to my Hattori's. If I don't like the way that shoe feels when I try it, I might need to wait until Saucony launches the Kinvara 3 in early summer. Even then, there's no guarantee that I'll like that new design. All I want is the perfect shoe. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Looking for my winter running shoe

Perhaps I need some (new) balance in my running
After trying on the Kinvara 2's only to realize it wasn't the shoe for me, I'm back to rethinking my winter footwear. I really loved my original Kinvaras. In fact, I'd still be running in them except that I wore out the Kinvara's mid-sole to the point where I began experiencing knee pain. That breakdown coincided with the timing of my half marathon that I ran while injured.

Green Silence - an opportunity lost
A couple of years ago I anticipated Brook's launch of the Green Silence, their first "minimal" shoe not made specifically for racing. I couldn't wait for them to go on sale. I ended up being dissuaded by the salesperson at Jackrabbit who steered me toward the Brooks GTS 10's, a great shoe but it rides too high. I ended up switching to the Saucony Kinvaras midway through 2010.

The Hattori - great except on really cold days

The Mirage - a really good shoe but the fit is narrow

Earlier this year I tested the Saucony Mirage, a Kinvara-like shoe with some stability features. It's a great shoe and I've put in a few hundred miles in them, but the toe width is a bit narrow. I was hoping that Brook's new Pure Project line would provide a shoe that met my needs. I tried on the Pure Connect and really disliked the fit that was narrow and very tight in the arch. The other models weren't much better so I decided to look elsewhere.

After looking at many reviews, I am thinking that the New Balance Minimus MR00 may be a "good fit" for me. My hope was to find a minimal, zero-drop, road shoe that will give me a little more insulation that the Hattori's for winter running. Given that the MR00's aren't due in stores until March, I may need to get through most of winter in the Mirages on cold days and the Hattori's on more moderate days and races.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A return to the Hattori's

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Super minimalist ninja
Hattori Hanz┼Ź was a famous ninja and samurai who lived in 16th century Japan. I'm guessing that his sword skills were the inspiration behind Saucony's Hattori super minimalist running shoes. I've put about 250 miles on mine since I've got them and I've come to love their purposeful simplicity.

For the last three weeks I've been running in either my Saucony Mirages or Brooks GTS-10's in an attempt to clear up a minor pain I've had near my right Achilles. I figured that the greater cushioning and stability control on these shoes (compared to the Hattori's) would help my healing. It  must not be the shoes because the pain remains, although it always goes away after a few minutes of running.

Since Sunday is race day, I thought I'd end my taper with a run in the Hattori's. It's a different experience going back to a shoe 1/3 the weight of the Brooks. I worried that my layoff from these shoes would cause me some calf pain when I returned to them, but I had no problems today. I ran okay but I'm nowhere near my late September peak. I think the Hattori's provided some benefit over the heavier shoes this morning since I ran 30 seconds per mile faster than yesterday. However, that pace was still far off my target for the 10K. I guess I should reset my expectations for this race and defer my focus on performance until the following weekend when I run the Long Beach Turkey Trot.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hurtin' Hattori's

Along with the damage to my Hattori's toe box yesterday, that probably came as a result of so much downhill running during the race, I also managed to aggravate my right Achilles to the point of great discomfort. This injury has been a long time coming. I started to notice some pain at the back of that foot (just above the heel) some weeks ago, but it never became worse than an uncomfortable distraction. It wasn't too bad after the race yesterday, but later in the day I felt some sharp pains as I walked around.

I don't know why this problem developed. If it is the Hattori's, I'd think the injury would have happened on both Achilles tendons. But running related injuries never seem to occur symmetrically. It could be a combination of the shoe and the way I run. I've been icing the area and taking Aleve since last night, and that combination has helped a lot.

I considered doing an easy run today, just to get outside, but I decided that might do more harm than good. A slow, easy recovery run wouldn't help my conditioning and it would definitely put more strain on the Achilles. I'm probably going to do most of my running in the Mirages over the next two weeks to see if that helps the problem. I love the Hattori's but they may be getting to the end of their usefulness. I have another pair of Hattori's that I can start to use once my Achilles feels better. When I do, I'll know to replace them soon after I reach 200 miles.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Puzzling find beneath my Hattori's

Hey, that's nowhere near my mid-foot!
I did both of my weekend runs on the treadmill and used my second pair of Hattori's that have yet to see pavement. Out of curiosity, I looked at the bottoms to see if the tread picked up a wear pattern from the belt and noticed some evidence of impact on the front medial side. That looked like I may still be pronating, even with a mid-foot strike. I also thought that it may just be belt dust that attached to the out-sole.

When I looked at my primary pair of Hattori's I was quite surprised to see that both heel pads showed clear evidence of wear towards the outside edge of the shoes. These are outdoor shoes and there's no other explanation except that I'm still pushing off the heel at some point in my strike.

This is puzzling because I know I'm landing on my mid-foot when I run in the Hattori's and the white EVA shows an imprint that supports that fact. Clearly there are two points of contact when I land and I'm guessing that I glance off the heel and then strike ahead of the arch. No too bad but not what I want. Perhaps I'll make a trip to a local running store in the next couple of weeks and ask to have my gait videoed. Even if my theory is confirmed I'm not sure if there's much I can do unless I want to go back to a lightweight stability shoe.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I've found my minimalism threshold

Dare I say "a little too minimal"?
It wouldn't meet the definition of a "Two-a-day" but I did get out late in the afternoon on Sunday for a bike ride. My wife and daughter had gone over to the middle school to play tennis and I thought I'd surprise them with a visit. After I saw them I did a ride around the neighborhood and followed a route that I commonly run. Once again I was amazed how quickly I covered the roads on my bike compared to when I run them. It's also a lot easier to ride these roads, especially the hills, but there's something about the simplicity of running that I far prefer. Must be this minimalist mindset I've adopted.

Regarding minimalism, I made my second attempt to run in the Invisible Shoes huaraches yesterday and it didn't go well. I tried the sandals with socks (much to wife's horror) but kept in the backyard to prevent her any further embarrassment. I'd hoped the socks would protect my toes from the lace but it actually exacerbated the discomfort. I shed the socks and tried another run but it was so uncomfortable I had to stop.

I really wanted to reach the point of minimalism where all that existed between my bare foot and the road was a thin layer of rubber. The Hattori's get me very close to that and it feels correct and natural. The huaraches may be a good solution for others, but I know I'd need to invest a lot of time acclimating to the feel of these "shoes." The Hattori's work for me already. I think I'll stick with them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekend video report: running huaraches

Today's run (street): 3.55 miles

No, I didn't do today's run using the Invisible Shoes huaraches but I did manage to get them laced up for a short run in the back yard. The website for the shoes provides videos with detailed instructions on how to prepare your huaraches. You can choose between full DIY, where they send you a square of Vibram Cherry material that can be cut to size, semi-DIY where you receive shaped soles based on a supplied foot measurement, or custom made huaraches created from a tracing of your foot.

I went the middle direction and had to punch a hole for the toe area and then lace up the shoes using the supplied material. Adventure Girl went with the custom options and she and I will be putting up our review of the Invisible Shoes huaraches on Runner's Tech Review in the coming weeks.

After preparing the huaraches, I made a few rounds in the yard, running on grass. I think I understand why this form factor would appeal to barefoot wannabe runners, the 4mm soles deliver plenty of ground-feel while providing some protection from things that you may want to avoid with bare feet. While this is almost as minimal as you can go, I couldn't get comfortable with the feel of the laces between my toes. I will do some runs in these huaraches to inform my review but I'm probably not a candidate for transitioning from running shoes to this platform.

When I put on the Hattori's I couldn't believe how luxurious they felt compared to my run in the huaraches. An ASICS Nimbus couldn't have provided a better sensation of security and cushioning. The funny thing is that the Hattori's actually provide no cushioning, but the way they hold and guide my foot makes it feel as though they do. The Hattori may seem to be a very simple shoe, but Saucony has put a lot of engineering into that design.

I did a relatively short run around the outside of my neighborhood, going clockwise to maximize the hill challenges I'd meet. Much of the run was shaded by trees and this was good because it was hot (82 degrees) and humid, according to the electronic sign at the local fire station. I'm planning on a long run tomorrow morning and, since we're going out early, I'm hoping we'll miss some of the heat. I'll write more about the Invisible Shoe huaraches when I try more runs in them. But tomorrow, I'm going out with my much more comfy Hattori's.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kinvara reunion

Hello darkness my old friend

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

It was surprisingly cool this morning when I stepped out for my run at 4:00 AM. I'm guessing that the temperature was in the high 50's and the dark skies helped to exaggerate the cold. There was a little humidity to soften the air but overall it felt more like early spring than summer. I wore my Kinvaras just for a change from the Hattori's. I expected the Kinvara's to feel like an old friend, but instead, I found them tight on my mid-foot. I wondered if the Hattori's flat, arch-less, platform had changed my perception of how a foot bed should feel. Interestingly, I have no such issues with the Mirage that has a 1-2 mm higher ramp angle.

Once mobile, I observed the way I was landing in the Kinvara and curious to see if I would strike closer to the heel than in the Hattori's. It seemed like I was landing on my mid-foot but it felt different than it did prior to going ultra-minimal. My energy level was okay but my form was not fluid. This has been the case all week. I felt that I was moving along well this morning (and I was compared to Wednesday) but my overall pace was still 30 seconds per mile slower than I would have liked.

The long weekend is almost here and I think it's time to get back to speed work. Perhaps my fast twitch muscles need a wake up call.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Barefoot but for my shoe

Today's run (street) 2.6 miles

I was reading the blog of a runner who I follow on Twitter who is just beginning to run in the Hattori's. Like me, he prefers to run in socks but he found that running sock-less really improved his experience. I had considered doing a sock-less run in the Hattori's but I didn't in fear of abrasions and blisters. Inspired by this blog post, I put on the Hattori's this morning without socks and got ready to head out for my run.

Before I reached the door I realized that the counter of the shoe on my right foot was pressing uncomfortably against my upper heel. I quickly slapped on a bandaid and headed outside. The Hattori lacks a removable insole but the material that's there is soft and porous and contains no scratchy stitching. My feet felt okay and the fit was better than with socks. I did miss having another layer between my foot and the shoe but it wasn't a problem.

As I ran, the notion of socks became less of an issue. I ran neither better nor worse. Around the mile mark I began to notice that my foot was sweating and sticking to my foot while slipping slightly in the shoe. It was slight but it was there. By mile two I felt a hot spot on my left instep that I hoped wouldn't turn out to be a friction burn. With a short run like today's I headed off blisters but my instep, after the run, had a red mark the size of a pencil eraser.

It was a better run than yesterday's and I ran the last half mile fairly quickly. I'm glad that others have had good experience running sock-less in their Trail Gloves, Minimus, Green Silence and Hattori's. I'm sticking with socks. It's more comfortable and, with sweating, far better for the shoe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Saucony Hattori's: read all about it on RTR

New on Runner's Tech Review
Today is the last day of my vacation. It's been very relaxing and I've had lots of fun with my family and done some great runs. I'll be taking another week off in mid-July when we head to Maine and spend some time at Acadia National Park. I can't wait to run on the carriage roads that are adjacent to the ocean and the mountains.

We've posted our latest shoe test on Runner's Tech Review. Me and the Harrier of the Night both provided our perspectives on the Hattori's after a month's use on the road, track, trails and mountains. I'm on the fence whether I'll go for a run or go out on my bike today. I may just enjoy this last day of vacation by skipping my workout. A little more recovery prior to returning to work couldn't hurt.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can't afford Hattori's or Vibrams? Try pool shoes

$15 minimalist shoes - and you can swim in them!
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Almost a year ago I went on a 2.2 mile run in my pool shoes to understand the minimalist experience. Overall, I found these shoes to be a credible alternative to running shoes but with some serious caveats. First, I ran without socks and the subsequent friction came close to producing blisters on my mid-foot. Secondly, I had not spent time adjusting to mid-foot running and going from my Brooks to this shoe on a daily basis would have been a recipe for injury.

A year later it's a different story. I'm happily transitioned to the Hattori's that provide a level of minimalism close to the water shoes but are measurably lighter and designed for stride efficiency. I do wish the Hattori's weren't so snug on my foot but that is becoming less of an issue as I use them. Perhaps they are beginning to stretch.

This morning I decided to revisit the "pool shoe as trainer" idea and went out for a 3.5 mile run in the neighborhood. I wore thin running socks to prevent the friction issues I'd experienced the last time. I needed to be careful this morning because elementary school graduation was happening and I had to be vigilant with hurried, distracted drivers streaming up and down the road. Closer to the school I observed many people jockeying their SUV's for a closer parking spot. God forbid they should walk more than 100 feet.

I stayed on the sidewalks as much as I could. The pool shoes allowed me to nimbly avoid buckled concrete around the trees that are planted in front of most houses. There was no doubt that my feet were doing their part to cushion my footfalls and I had no unpleasant landings on my heel. I knew I wasn't moving very fast but I maintained a mid 9:00 pace throughout the route.

Running in pool shoes did create more work than an equivalent run in the Hattori's. In terms of comfort, the Hattori's come out on top, being lighter and better shaped, with much higher quality materials in the liner and mid-sole. I'm looking forward to my next Hattori run so I can complete the comparison. I'm expecting that to be a much more comfortable experience.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Runner's World got it wrong on the Hattori

I'm happily in the middle
Yesterday afternoon's workout (Cycling): 4.6 miles

After a year of trying to adapt to a mid-foot stride I am finally sure that I've actually done it. Not everyone is comfortable running this way but (fortunately for me) my transition was fairly painless. The Saucony Kinvaras helped that a lot. I'd assumed, after running in the Kinvaras for over a year, that I'm landing closer to my mid-foot. However, the 5-6 mm ramp angle of  both the Kinvaras and the Mirages made it difficult to know that for sure.

Every sharp rock that I land on with the Hattori's (as happened on Saturday) confirms that I'm landing on my mid-foot. Sunday's run of almost seven miles in the Hattori's showed me that heel cushioning and forefoot padding aren't necessary for middle distance running. A mid-foot stride lets your foot's natural shock absorbers -- the arch and the ball -- disburse the pounding.

Experiencing this, I was dismayed to read Runner's World's characterization of the Hattori as a "trainer for efficient runners to use as cooldown shoe or for speedwork drills on grass." This bias surprises me. I'm certainly not an efficient runner when running in highly constructed, stabilized and cushioned running shoes. But when I run in the Hattori it's a whole other story.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Good long run on cloudy Sunday morning

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 6.6 miles

Yesterday's experience landing on a sharp rock made me concerned that I would end up with a real injury. My foot felt tender after that run so I iced it for about an hour before we all headed out. I wore an old pair of Brooks Adrenalins in hopes that the cushioning would protect the bruise as I moved around. I didn't give it much thought after that and I went to bed hoping my foot would be back to normal by morning.

I woke up at 4:00 AM to the sound of driving rain and wondered if my morning run would be a washout. I returned to bed and when I woke up at 5:30 I saw that the rain had moved out. I watched the local weather report to be sure that was the case and headed off to Bethpage State Park for a run. My plan was to go out for about 5K and come back for a total of 6+ miles. My foot felt okay and I hoped that would continue once I hit the bike trail.

It actually felt chilly when I stepped out of the car and I did some dynamic stretches while the Garmin 210 acquired its signal. As soon as the satellites locked in I took off, attacking the first hill that begins right after the start. Soon I was bounding down the long hill, maintaining a mid-8:00 pace. I knew I was running harder than planned because my breathing was labored and I slowed down until I felt more comfortable.

As I've mentioned before, the Bethpage bike path feels like it's a predominantly uphill route no matter which direction you run it. My foot felt fine and the Hattori's were doing their job. I watched my form and felt energized on the hills. With cloudy skies and the early hour there weren't a lot of runners on the trail.  Every few minutes I'd encounter clumps of people either walking or running together and an occasional cyclist.

I concentrated on the way I was running (arm position, posture, strike) and decided to block out the final hill from my thoughts. I'd deal with it when it came along, no sense wasting effort dreading the inevitable. By the time I reached that hilly stretch I was feeling a little tired but I put in some additional effort and did my best to surge on the steepest part of the hill. I'm not sure if it made a difference but I am definitely becoming less intimidated by that final challenge.

It's been a good week of running despite taking two rest days and I credit the Hattori's which have noticeably improved the experience. I'm pleased with my form and I'm hoping that it will translate into better efficiency (and therefore speed). Even if that's not the case, I feel like I'm running better right now than ever before.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The shoes are minimal but the benefits are not

Today's run (street) 2.65 miles

Today is supposed to get very hot with temperatures in NYC reaching 95°F. It was far cooler at 4:00 this morning and I took a different route than normal just to break things up. I was also able to take advantage of a slightly earlier start than usual. Today's run felt much like yesterday's although I didn't push as hard as Tuesday and ended up running about 18 seconds/mile slower. But I covered more ground than my usual early morning distance and, once again, felt that the Hattori's provided me with a much more efficient stride.

The biggest difference between these shoes and almost every other shoe I've run is the way they feel on hills. Credit goes to the mid-foot strike and the lightness of the shoe. It's almost like downshifting for extra power and torque. While I don't look forward to hills, I'm not looking to avoid them. At one point I thought the Kinvara was the best shoe I would ever experience but the Hattori's seem to have an even more positive affect on my running style.

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