Showing posts with label Kinvera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kinvera. Show all posts

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tough going for an easy four

Today's run (street): 3.9 miles at 9:17 per mile

By now I expect that my friend FS and her husband are celebrating their finish at Boston's Run to Remember Half Marathon. This race, that begins and ends in Boston's World Trade Center, covers a lot of ground including a lengthy segment that has runners going over the Longfellow Bridge as they make their way along Memorial Drive. The span on Memorial goes past Harvard University and then back again to the starting point. Having covered the Charles River segment twice last week I'm a bit envious but realistic enough to know that I'm not prepared to take on 13.1 miles. I am looking forward to hearing the details next week when we all return to the office.

My running challenge this morning was far more modest. I intended to go out for a 3 to 4 mile run and ended up just short of the 4 mile mark. The Garmin was not tracking accurately so I thought I had covered 4.06 miles when in fact it was 3.9 (per Gmaps). My sub 9-minute run was actually closer to a mid-9:00 effort. But effort was the operative word and this morning it was tough going. The chirp from the Garmin that signaled that the first mile had passed surprised me because it happened faster than I'd expected. I figured I was just having a good run and I was wearing my lightweight Kinvaras so why not? By the end of mile two things had reversed themselves and I was ready to start wrapping things up. I'm not sure what accounted for that but it was possible that the increasing sun and heat combined with the extra work running in the near-flat Kinvaras were the culprits. I have not had an off day since last Monday so it may have been an issue of over-training. I was happy to have completed four miles although it turned out later to be just shy of that distance.

 The rest of the day has been spent with family and we're enjoying the long Memorial Day holiday with plenty of pool time. Tomorrow I'll aim to start even earlier to better manage the heat. Tuesday I'll rest. I think I need it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Running technology report from the MIT Media Lab

Interior of the new MIT Media Lab building
 Today's run (street): 4.5 miles at 8:52 per mile

My recent visit to the MIT Media Lab was fascinating (as usual) and I was happy to see friends and faculty again after so many months away. I've written a couple of posts about my great runs along the Charles River this week but today I'm going to focus on noteworthy technologies that relate to athletics. Besides hearing from the architect of the beautifully designed new Media Lab building and from visionaries such as Stewart Brand and Nicholas Negroponte (who said the Media Lab's goal was to create solutions looking for problems) there was the usual "Open House" where students show off their latest research projects. It's essentially the coolest science fair in the world.

Bio-sensitive stretchable fabric
Above is a picture of a woven sensor that appears to be a piece of stretchable fabric but acts like a sensor that can pick up information such as core temperature, blood pressure/flow, heart rate, pH, etc. Imagine if your HRM or foot pod could be sewn into your running clothes? 

SportSemble performance capture system
Portable variable light illumination device
Another interesting project was the use of the SportSemble (above, top) system to capture the most minute details of movement by major league baseball players. In this project, players from the Boston Red Sox are wired with multiple sensors that capture metrics such as the speed of a pitcher's waist relative to the speed of the wrist of his throwing hand. The data is captured and correlated and the goal is to determine how certain sympathetic actions, however minute, can result in higher performing athletes. Go Sox!

In a more running related project I was given a demonstration of a lighting system that constantly reads conditions and enables lights based on the users needs. I often run with a headlamp at 4:00 AM and on dark days with no moon I really need the maximum amount of illumination. On other days, with clear skies and a full moon, I really don't need any extra light. This device can deliver, to the lumen, the exact amount of light needed at every moment. This conserves battery life and ensures that the light you need is delivered exactly where it's needed. The research assistant pictured above told me I could make this device myself with a simple microprocessor. I may need her help, especially since I've proven I can't change the battery in a Garmin 50 without destroying it.

Hugh Herr talks about devices to augment human running performance
During the Wednesday morning session Dr. Hugh Herr, who runs the Biomechatronics group at the Media Lab, talked about human augmentation. This group has developed the most advanced prosthetic legs in use today with capabilities that allow single and double amputees to walk and run with the same (or better) energy efficiency as able bodied people. Much of the research done in this lab is focused on augmenting athletes, especially runners. Imagine running a five minute mile while expending no more energy than a stroll in the park. I know my Saucony Kinvaras and Grid Tangent 4's give me a boost but that takes it to whole new level!

I thought about the science of human augmentation and the small differences in form and stride that can make a big difference in running pace. This morning I set out with my Kinvaras for a 4.5 mile run around the neighborhood and finished with an overall pace under nine minutes that just felt too easy. I definitely run faster in these lightweight trainers. Does running a little faster provide a greater training benefit than running slower? Hard to know. I loved the feeling of moving along in 50 degree temperatures on a cool, clear late May morning. Yes, the shoes are great but this morning's run was about much more than that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New rule: double check the race date

Today's run (Park): 5.15 miles at 8:45 per mile

I was excited about racing today and curious to see how competitive I would be with my new Saucony Kinvara running shoes. Team Emerging Runner arrived at the race location about an hour before the scheduled start. My wife took a look around and said, "We must be at the wrong place, there's no one here." It turned out that were at the right place but at the wrong time because the Brooke Jackman 5K had already taken place on Saturday. I was mad at myself for failing to check the date and assuming the race would happen on a Sunday. Most of my races have been held on Sunday mornings but that's a poor excuse. Seeing that I was upset, my wife quickly suggested that we stay and explore the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park that was just north of the race location. Or more correctly, yesterday's race location. I agreed that a run on a cool spring day overlooking Oyster Bay was a great alternative to a race.

Never having run in this location, I didn't know where the trail would lead. I started by following a paved path that ran parallel to the water. This path eventually looped around to numerous small walking paths that fed back to the main trail. I completed one loop and decided to head west to see if there were any interesting routes in that direction. I eventually ran out of pavement and cut across a sandy section before reaching the road again. Once I saw how far I'd need to go to reach a decent place to run I decided to circle back to the park to find my family. At the 2 mile mark I caught up with my wife and kids, passing them in the other direction as I made my way east. I ended up looping the park a number of times and occasionally passing by my family who were playing at the water side. After 45 minutes we decided to wrap it up and I noticed that I'd covered 5.15 miles at an average of 8:45 per mile. Running conditions were near perfect and there were no hills. The only things that slowed me down were the run through the sand and a couple of sharp turnarounds that reduced my pace. The new Kinvaras are definitely helping and I'm running 20-30 seconds per mile faster than I normally run. A calibration test of my Garmin confirmed the accuracy of these numbers. So how about that!

I really enjoyed today's run, especially because my family was there to cheer me on each time I passed them along my route. It would have been fun to race today but I still had a great morning with the family and a great run by the water.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tomorrow is race day in Oyster Bay, NY

Today's workout: Rest/taper

I've decided to run the Brooke Jackson Race for Literacy 5K tomorrow morning in Oyster Bay. Unlike every other race I've done to date, I'll be a walk-on participant, who registers on race day. There are two reasons why I'm racing instead of using both weekend days for extended runs. First, I haven't raced this month and this may be my best opportunity to do it. Second, I've had some slight soreness in my right knee and I thought I'd give that leg a break from running. Resting today will prepare me for tomorrow's race and three miles shouldn't have much on affect the injury. I do have slight concern that running in the neutral Kinvaras yesterday may have contributed to the soreness but it may just be a case of adjusting to a shoe with almost no drop from heel to forefoot, causing me to land more on my mid-foot than I usually would. I considered running in the Tangent 4's but I'm not sure I'd want to race in shoes that I'm using for the first time. I have three miles on the Kinvara odometer so I know how they feel at that distance.

My strategy for tomorrow is to start at a moderate pace and adjust speed as I go. The Kinvaras seemed to have helped yesterday so hopefully I can draw on that advantage in the race. I have no knowledge of the course and whether it has pronounced hills or other features that may affect my performance. Perhaps it's best not to know because I won't be thinking about upcoming negatives as I run. My goals are simply to run a good race, have fun and be competitive in my category. Although I haven't anticipated this race for weeks I am excited that I'll be participating tomorrow.

Finally, I'd like to mention my friends KWL and FS who are participating in a 100 mile bike event tomorrow on Long Island. They are certainly in shape for it. I wish them great weather and safe travels.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Saucony Kinvaras make a great first impression

Saucony Kinvaras ready for their first run
Today's run (Central Park): 3.2 miles at 8:47/mile

My shipment from Saucony arrived yesterday and I'm very excited to put these two pairs of lightweight trainers to the test. Lightweight is the word, the Kinvaras practically floated out of the box when I opened it. The pictures promised a different looking shoe and the Saucony Kinvara is certainly different. The outer layer on the upper is translucent and it looks like it was air brushed. My kids thought they looked amazing and my daughter asked me if they came in kid sizes. But looks are one thing, fit and feel are another and I put them to the test today at noon in Central Park.

The Kinvara is a minimalist shoe that can be used for racing. It's more flexible on the forefoot than the other running shoes that I own with an extremely small drop off from heel to toe that encourages mid foot landing. When I put them on I had the same reaction that I had when I tried on a pair of Nike Frees - it felt more like a slipper than a running shoe. Once I began to walk in them and got a sense of how they worked with the foot I realized they were nicely responsive. I started my run at the bottom of the lower loop and was happy to note that the ride was no harder than the Brooks Adrenalin's although the feel was different. I moved along well and passed some runners, even on the hills. The sun was out and it was very humid so the run was already feeling like hard work by mile 2. However, I maintained a decent pace throughout the entire distance and was pleased to average 8:47 per mile. I have to give credit to the shoes for helping me attain that pace since I can't think of another factor that would explain it.

Over this weekend I hope to test the other pair of shoes I got from Saucony, the ProGrid Tangent 4's. Like the Kinvaras, these shoes are extremely light and have some stability control for those, like me, who pronate. The fit, like every Saucony I've ever put on my foot, feels natural and correct. As much as I'm excited about the Kinvaras I'm thinking that the Tangents may be competition for the Brooks as a daily trainer. I'll be testing both pairs in the coming weeks. I'm still not sure whether I'll race on Sunday but if I do I plan to wear the Kinvaras. Since it's just a 5K on Sunday I'm not too concerned about racing with new shoes. Today's running experience seems to validate that decision.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Will Saucony's performance shoes make me faster?

Saucony's new Kinvera minimalist performance shoe
Men's (left), Woman's (right)
Today's run (street): 2.4 miles at 9:07/mile

Saucony Grid Tangent 4
I've always been interested in Saucony shoes but have never owned a pair. Saucony has always seemed like a quality brand and I know a few people who swear by them and won't run in anything else. I'm well equipped in terms of regular trainers with my Brooks Adrenaline 9's and 10's but I've often wondered what it would be like to run in a lightweight trainer or even a racing shoe. Could a few ounces really make a difference in terms of performance? Is the trade-off of weight worth the loss of cushioning? Would running in performance shoes, with their closer heel-to-forefoot height ratio, help me become more of a mid foot striker? The answer to these questions will come after I receive a couple of pairs of performance shoes to test. The Saucony folks are sending me pairs of the new Kinvera and Grid Tangent 4 this week and I'm really looking forward to putting them through their paces, so to speak.

It's almost the middle of May but morning temperatures continue to feel quite chilly. I headed out at 4:00 AM this morning and needed long sleeves to feel comfortable throughout my run. I didn't wear gloves and I regretted that but it was fine for a two mile workout. I felt strong, as I usually do after a rest day, and considered running three or four miles instead of the 2.25 to 2.5 miles I usually run in my short window of time. I knew that if I did that my morning schedule would be disrupted so I settled for 2.4 that I covered in just under 22 minutes. Despite feeling strong and running with good energy I only averaged 9:07 per mile. Good for early morning but slower than I'd felt I'd run. No matter, it was a really pleasant workout and with my performance shoes on their way I can worry about my pace another time.

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