Altra-nate shoes

With the Altra Torin 2.5’s being on sale for near half price everywhere I bought a pair.  I ran them yesterday for my intervals (10min warmup, 5min Z4, 1m z2, repeat 4) with my running partner.

makes me bounce like Tigger on a sugar rush”

I wanted the Altra Paradigm 2.0’s but they’re hard to find in my size.  They’re a maximal cushioned shoe, i.e. a massive stack height.  For long distances though a maximal stack height is something I kind of want.

It was wet out, a bit of a spring downpour had just gone overhead so the first thing I noted about the Torin’s is they actually have some traction on asphalt unlike my Hoka Clifton 3’s which are very slippery on wet concrete.

The Torin’s are definitely a ‘moderate’ cushion shoe.  I’m not sure I’d want to run a marathon in them without dropping another 70 lbs.

The 0 drop shoes reinforce moving off of heel striking but they can only go so far in changing your stride.  Trying to switch from a hard core heel striker after 50 years of running that way is tough.   Trying to toe strike makes me bounce like Tigger on a sugar rush. Getting a mid foot strike may be the best compromise I can come up with.

I think they run a little small myself in spite of their ‘true to size’ rating.  My foot measures as a 12.6 on the U.S. foot scale and at a 13 these may require a little breaking in or thinner socks than the Balega Blister Resists I was wearing to fit ‘right’.   As usual when things are a little crowded my pointer and middle toes on my right foot start to complain at about the 3 mile mark.

Luckily I have three boys who wear the same size shoes so any shoes I don’t like for running and aren’t bad enough to send back go to them.   So if these don’t work out one of them will get them.

Each time I do intervals I do think my natural pace is faster than my current pace.  9’s feels more natural to me as a pace.  The problem is I can’t maintain it for a long distance.  It takes a lot of energy to push as much mass as I have and am likely to continue to have and the energy costs are not linear as pace increases as you’re very aware.

On a plus note, I matched my 5K PR time during this training session and I could have pushed it more for a 5K distance.  On top of that it was an after work run and my morning runs are always better.  Bottom line my next 5K, first Friday in May should see me with a new PR.  Of course the day after that 5K I’m running back to back Warrior Dashes.  So those may not be all that fast. 🙂

A #runner I deal with on a daily basis REALLY wants a Stryd.  I was looking at them, the whole train by power thing and the #omfgaccurate allegedly for pace it is interesting but I’m not sure about the data. How do you ‘use’ that data to become more efficient or better at #notrunning?

I was looking at their training plans and they seem to be dominated by intervals and hilly intervals.  The whole high intensity training seems to be everywhere.  My own Garmin based training plans have quite a lot of it.

I doubt I’ll ever get down to the 8′ pace I had in my 20’s/30’s again.  There’s a very valid reason the BQ times get longer based on age.   There’s only so much stress/output you can squeeze out of the human body at any given age and in general it continually declines over time after peaking far too soon IMO of the human lifespan.

Interestingly statistically #runners who start young burn out in their 30’s in terms of their PR times.   #notarunners who are more casual in their efforts can set PR’s quite later in life.  So in theory I still have some performance increases and can keep setting PR’s.


So I’ve missed my second scheduled training day in the last 10 months. I ran a 10K race on Saturday (setting a new PR by 6 minutes; go #notarunner). I’ve felt a couple of twinges in my left knee on a few of my last runs, nothing major, just enough to make you go “hmm I don’t care for that”.

putting a cold pack on it twice a day trying to encourage shrinkage”

Then Sunday I had a 10K training session. Now leading up to the training run my knee was doing okay after the 10k, no major ouchies. But from the very first running stride on Sunday my knee went straight from a 0 to a level 3 pain (out of 10). I of course being me did the run and if I hadn’t already set a PR for my 10K the day before I’d of set it on Sunday just not as fast.

But not being totally dumb I decided to give my Tuesday run, a 45minute Z3 run, a pass. One could say I’d already done it and then some between Sat and Sun’s runs. And then some. But I don’t want to risk doing greater damage because honestly if I’m out for any significant length of time I don’t know that I’ll start up again. I don’t enjoy it, it’s taken me 9 months to get from the couch and 2 minute runs to being able run for 2+ hours. Not sure I have the enthusiasm and energy to fall very far and have to climb back up.

In regards to the injury I’ve gone so far as to putting a cold pack on it twice a day trying to encourage shrinkage and increasing my intake of turmeric and tart cherry extract/juice as well as nsaids. All anti-inflammatory. I also now own KT tape and use it as directed on the off chance it does what it says. There’s no science that I could find to back up their claims and their benefits could easily fall under the psychosomatic category but for a few bucks I’m willing to give it a shot.

The pain site and symptoms all say ‘runner’s knee’ which is inflammation of the attachment points of the tendons. Not sure if there’s a specific cause, we’ve added more mileage, more hills and on top of that trail running. I don’t ‘think’ it’s shoes since I’ve worn three different pairs of shoes during this time frame, Nimbus 19’s, Topo Terraventure and Hoka Clifton 3’s.

I think I’m going to add a pair of Altra Torin 2.5 or Paradigm 2.0 to my line up. Luckily with 3 kids, ages 14, 12 and 12 who are all over 6′-2″ any shoes that don’t work out for me I simply give to them as daily shoes.

Tomorrow is another training day. I may either due Tuesdays run 45m z3 or Thursday’s run of 7 minute sprints followed by 90 second recoveries x 3. With a 10 minute warm up. Not sure which is going to be least stressful.

Sunday is 105 minute z2 run. We’ll see how it goes.

Topo graphy

I wore my Topo Ultrafly’s today, took them for a around the block run and they’re just too small.   I wear a size 12.5 to 13 depending on the brand and at 13’s the Ultrafly’s were killing my toes.

Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass being as big as I am, not literally, well not usually.”

The Topo Ultrafly shoes definitely run small.   But that means I have to jump to a size 14 if I want to try them because no one makes half sizes after 12’s.

I was looking at the Altra Paradigm 2.0’s as well but again the same issue.  Everyone says size up a half size.  Well when you’re a 13 that means going up to a 14.

Not sure what the ratio might be but my pointer toes are longer than my big toe and my middle toe is as long as my big toe.  Both the pointer and middle toe were either hitting the end of the shoe on impact or pushoff on both feet or just getting compressed down due to lack of height of toebox.

In either case it meant I had to box them up and take them back to the store.  I really wanted to like them, I took their almost identical twins, the terraventures out this morning on the trails and did somewhere between 3 and 4 miles without any problems at all in the same size 13’s.

After some rummaging around and trying on alternatives I swapped the ultrafly’s out for some current model Hoka Cliftons.   I’d tried some last year and the marshmallow cushioning was just too offputting for me as a new #notarunner.  I felt with each step I was going to turn an ankle.

These new Clifton’s are not nearly as mushy and honestly feel a lot like my Nimbus 18/19’s.

But I really want a splayable toe box which means the Altra’s or the Topo’s.   My Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s are as mentioned the most comfortable shoes I’ve worn ever.   They’re just not 50K shoes.  I’ll  use them for shorter trail runs without any problem.

I don’t think the Terraventure’s are going to be a 50K shoe for me either. We’ll see how they do with some more miles on them but I’m still looking.

In a road shoe as well I have the same problem.   The Nimbus 18/19 are not a marathon shoe for me I don’t believe.   My longest run to date is 11 miles and I think maybe a half is about as far as I want to take those shoes.

But I have whatever miles are left on my 19’s and a spare pair of 18’s as an emergency backup solution.   And now these Clifton’s.   How they work out remains to be seen, they’re not honestly wide enough for me to be a 50K shoe either I don’t think, not without some serious breaking in, but they may be okay as a trainer.

Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass to being as big as I am, not literally, usually.  But things like finding shoes that fit or even clothes, I fall into a weird size where my waist size and inseam are unusual.   Apparently people with my inseam size are much fatter than me or people with my waist size are taller than me.   Not that that’s always the case now.  I’ve lost enough weight that I’m starting to look like a shar pei puppy from the right angles and need a whole new wardrobe.  But do I buy for the ‘me now’ size or the ‘me I wanna get to so I can run further faster’ size?

Shoe fly…

Asics Nimbus 19 update – I’m not finding the shoe to be very durable.  I’ll be surprised if I get 250 miles out of it to be 100% frank.   Comfort wise for my feet they’re good shoes.  I’ve run my longest distance so far, 11 miles, in them without issue.  But the the tread, what there is, is wearing off where I push off on the forefoot on both shoes.   The lining is pilling up in the heel area where my blister resist patches don’t cover.

the better the cushion the better the pushin’ is something I’ll have to keep in mind.”

And this is with maybe 120 miles on them.  My 18’s got 300 miles before I wore the heels out of them.  I wasn’t using any blister patches on those or even just your basic duct tape or gorilla tape patch.

Granted I’m a super clydesdale but still I expect more I guess from a ‘premium’ shoe that runs $150 dollars release price.

In my search for a 50K trail shoe I picked up some Topo Terraventure’s.   I haven’t run in them yet but they fit better than my Leadville 3’s and my Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s.

I ran 4 miles today on trails in the Altra’s and they felt decent but I don’t think they’re 50K shoes for me.   They’re super comfortable though.  If they don’t work out as trail shoes then I’ll make them every day shoes, they’re that comfortable.

I also picked up a pair of Topo Ultrafly shoes.  The Topo shoes have some very good reviews and both felt pretty good to me.

I’m still looking for a marathon distance road shoe.  I’m not sure the Ultrafly is it but the Nimbus 19 and 18’s are not.    I have a pair of 18’s I picked up cheap as spares for interval and tempo training runs but getting something for the weekly long runs which keep getting longer is needed.  To go the distance the old adage the better the cushion the better the pushin’ is something I’ll have to keep in mind.

Ridiculously that gives me 3 pairs of road shoes and 3 pairs of trail shoes.  Which is crazy talk for #notarunner.   In my 20’s I ran literally in the same shoes I wore every day.  Just basic generic ‘tennies’.   With a $10 timex digital watch with a stop watch feature.   Distance was based on half mile marker posts on the trail or the cross streets.

But now shoes that are perfectly acceptable for 5k’s are questionable for 10k’s and really need to be re-examined for longer distances.

How times have changed.

Long one…

Today was the longest run yet for us.  Two and a half hours broken up into a 10,60,10,60,10 session.   10 minute walks, 60 minute runs.   The idea being of course to get us used to beatnig our feet on the pavement for hours at a time.

I can eat anything and I mean almost anything to be polite or on request”

It’s all well and good, even necessary based on conventional training wisdom, to do HIIT and tempo and fartleks for speed and VO2 max and lactate acidifying and all that but to prepare your body for running distance requires running distance.  Shorter length and time segments do not simulate the pounding you take over the long haul.

We covered 11 miles in our 2 hour 30 minute session.  Not very impressive but then again… #NOTARUNNER.  This session was also a Z2 heart rate zone session and my average BPM was barely 117.  Not quite full training for me. But when you run with someone you run with someone.  This is something I’ve already covered.

My current running partner has matched me for speed but I have 6+ months on her in terms of training so conditioning she still working on.   She’s come a long way in the 3ish months she’s been training, far faster and longer than myself.    She pushes herself hard, possibly too hard to keep up with me showing an order of magnitude greater spirit and dedication than I have myself.

Our first half is coming up in roughly 7 weeks, April 28th.   I’ll be okay if we finish in 2.5 hours.  Hell I’ll be okay if we finish in under 3h.   I may have mentioned (once or twice) but I’m not built like a runner and at the moment with 270lbs I’m pushing a little more weight up those hills than your average actual runner.   So honestly just finishing each new length race as I do them for the first time is a step in the right direction for me.

Today for nutrition I tried Gu’s Stroopwafel, the chocolate one and I was very not impressed.  It wasn’t bad but it was even more bland than the Stinger Waffles if that’s possible.   I won’t be purchasing a box.

I also tried Gu’s Chocolate Fudge gel.  Not a fan and I’m not sure if it was the distance or the gel but right around the 10 mile mark I started feeling slightly nauseous.  It also could have been lack of caffeine.   But overall the Gu chocolate was like eating the cheapest uncooked brownie fudge batter, the  2 for a $1 kind.    I can eat anything and I mean almost anything to be polite or on request that doesn’t mean I don’t have preferences.

My strong preference is still the Stinger Chews followed by Stinger Waffles in commercial solid nutrition.   Runner up is Clif Bloks.

I’m going to be taking a look at Topo shoes in a couple of weeks when one of the FLSS’s gets a shipment in.   Both the road and trail shoes.   I wore my Altra Lone Peak 2.5’s yesterday for about an hour walking and the 0 drop does really promote toe/mid foot striking which I need to try to shift to.   The Altra’s are very comfortable, probably the most comfortable shoe I have in terms of feel.   But an hour of walking in 0 drop left my calves just starting to take notice of the lack of heel.

The Topo’s at 3 to 5mm drop are a reasonable alternative to 0 drop I think and they have some pretty good reviews.   They’re foot shaped like the Altras which means they might possibly fit me.

When I was at one of the FLSS’s one of the worker/runners there who’s a ultrarunner and does 350 miles of trails a month was wearing Topo’s and was pretty enthusiast about them.   Since I still haven’t found ‘my’ shoe I’m willing to investigate further.   Once I find ‘my’ shoes I’m buying 20 pairs of them as one thing I’ve learned is every year the shoe companies change each shoe up and the changes mean you may be looking for another ‘your’ shoe as a result.


Blistering Pace

I’ve got a problem with wearing out the heels in shoes.  Just picture a velociraptor trying to wear shoes and that’s me.  In the last 8 months I’ve gotten blisters twice, once due to a bad tie job on my laces and once due to a combination of distance, pace, old worn out shoes and wrong socks.   It all came together to leave me with bloody heels that day.

the next pair I put in I’ll get my wife to help hold the crease open so I can stick them in”

So I went looking around and found Engo Blister Prevention patches, specifically for the heels.  In my new Nimbus 19’s, which had already started to pill up after only 100-150 miles I decided to add the heel patches.

They went in pretty easy although the next pair I put in I’ll get my wife to help hold the crease open so I can stick them in.   After roughly 15 miles on the heel patches I believe they’re providing the service they say.    My heels feel cooler due to the decreased friction coefficient after the run and they show no signs of coming off.

They’re fairly spendy for what they are, just some teflon impregnated material with an adhesive backing but if $10 worth of patches both saves me from blistering up and gives me an extra couple of months of shoe life then they’re worth it.   My 18’s were still good in terms of padding, just the inside heels were eaten away.

If you have problems with blistering or premature wear in the inside heel liner of your shoes then these are worth examining I believe.

Don’t be a Hierro

The idea of trail running appeals to me.  I spent untold hours in the woods in my youth, wandering around, catching lizards, climbing rocks, rolling boulders down hills, okay granted they were small boulders.  Even being 6′ by age 12 there’s only so big a boulder you can dislodge by yourself or with friends.

I’m on the far end of the bell curve in terms of size in most areas.  Most.”

Knowing from experience that my road shoes of forced preference suck  donkey butt on grass and non-road terrain I went looking for shoe options.

Thanks to genetics, nutrition, active life style and nurturing environment in my youth, I’m on the far end of the bell curve in terms of size in most areas.  Most.

So with my size 13 4E ideal shoe size requirements firmly in hand I go looking online.  I’m shocked to find there are not one but two whole options for a dedicated trail shoe that comes in that size that is for a neutral to slightly pronated gait.  The New Balance Leadville V3 and the New Balance Hierro V2.   Okay shocked is a strong word, fully expecting is probably the best term.

New Balance has for a lot of years now, okay decades, been my shoe of choice simply because they’re the only manufacture that actively caters to the large footed crowd.

So that they make both of the options I could try isn’t surprising.

The question becomes which one…  Trying one on locally isn’t an option, no one carries either one in the size I need.  Yes I did call around.

The Leadville, in spite of it’s homage to a rather famous trail run as I hear, has a few complaints about it and I don’t care for the odd number of lace holes and the lack of a heel lock hole.  The Hierro being brand new has no real world reviews.

So I’ll have to guess I suppose.  Order one from Running Warehouse and hope it works out.  I have a 50/50 shot of getting the better of the two.

The reason this is coming up is I have this stupid ass thought of trying to do a 50k trail run in fall.   Says the person who’s still to do a half marathon (scheduled for May).   It’s a beginner trail run with a fair amount of dirt and gravel roads as part of the trail.  And 50k is enough to get you the Ultra runner status albeit by just a few miles.  But you can by letter of the law sashay around the holding pens in your “yeah I ran an ultra, what have you done lately?” shirt.

And honestly isn’t that worth something?


Asics Nimbus 19

I’ve had my Nimbus 19’s for maybe a month now with maybe 50 miles on them, mostly shorter runs in the 3 to 4 range and one 8 mile run as of now.

“if you were getting pounded by well over 300lbs 3.4 times a week for 4+ months…”

Being a #NOTARUNNER I can’t give you a ton of technical details on these and honestly you can get that stuff from Asics or Running Warehouse etc with far more substance and authority than some random 50 year old on the internet who’s been running for 6 months.

What I can say is that for a large runner such as a myself the Nimbus 19s are one of the few options you have in a road shoe.  For trail shoe’s we’re even more screwed but more on that later.

Luckily the 19’s are a pretty good option as it turns out.   My prior shoe was the Nimbus 18’s.  The 18’s in my opinion wore out fast in the heel area for me but if you were getting pounded by well over 300lbs 3.4 times a week for 4+ months you’d likely wear out fast too.  [So many comments could be made here].

The 19’s are not as wide as the 18’s both visually and in practice.    This is an improvement I believe in general.

The heel support isn’t as obnoxious on the 19’s, I don’t even notice it’s there thankfully.  Unlike the 18’s where that rigid heel cage would on occasion be very noticeable and un-enjoyable.

Don’t get me wrong, the 18’s were up til this point a good shoe for me of the very few options I have and they had close to 300 miles on them. And I’m hard on the heel area of shoes, it’s always the first place that wears out on me.

The toebox is about the same.  Which for me means my pinkie and ring toes on my right foot still rub but they do that on every shoe.

The cushion feels a bit softer but honestly without a brand new pair of each it’s really impossible to tell other than just “I think it’s better”.

Bottom line, there’s a reason the Nimbus line is one of the most popular shoe lines for runners and although stupid expense to thee and me, at the end of the day, reducing the suck factor of running is worth the extra expense for me.

Big Shoe Dance

If you weigh more than than a duck then it’s very likely that shoes are going to be really important for you in reducing the suck factor of running.

What’s this?  My knees don’t hurt?  My hips don’t hurt?  Witchcraft!”

When I decided to get off the couch I bought a pair of ‘running shoes’ based on Amazon reviews.   They were cheap, 1200+ people had rated an average of over 4 stars, they must be fine right?

Not so much.   That first month was a lot of knee and hip pains, lower back pains and general suck.   Not being the size of a duck I assumed it was due to a combination of lack of exercise, weight and in general feeling like I was learning to run all over again.

So a real runner, a co-worker/friend, told me I should go to the FLSS so I did.  A very friendly and knowledgeable girl (I’m 50, she was maybe 22 which makes her a girl from my perspective) watched me walk, measured my feet and then recommended a few options.   I tried them on and in the end walked out with a pair of Brooks Ghost 8’s.

Very next time I ran, “What’s this?  My knees don’t hurt?  My hips don’t hurt?  Witchcraft!”

In full disclosure those Brooks while they felt good in the store and they worked for the distances I was doing at that time (not very) turned out to be not as great for much more than 3 to 4 miles as I found out over time.   But they’re good 5K shoes.

The moral of this story is you need to find out how you walk, do you pronate, do you supinate, do you need control shoes?  Are you a heel striker or a toe striker?  Do you like a lot of drop or minimal drop?   These are real, valid, technical questions that deal with your actual running form, gait and general physiology.   And it takes luck or some real guidance to find the pair of shoes that works with you because folks shoes are not made equal.

When you’re starting out the first thing you should do is visit one or more local shoe stores that are at least operated if not owned by runners.   You might get lucky with a national chain and find sales people who are actual runners but a local store is much more likely to be staffed by #RUNNERS who have gone through many models of shoes, have helped other people select even more shoes and have run with a lot of people who’ve talked about their experiences with even more shoes.    And typically, because they’re real runners, they’re super enthusiastic to talk to you about running and shoes.

Be aware that if you’re on the far end of the bell curve like me (size 13 4E typically) that they may not have very many (or any) shoes in your size in stock.  But they can certainly recommend some options.   And statistically it’s unlikely you’ll have the same issues I do in shoe selection.

Additionally, at the time of this writing, Running Warehouse offers a free video analysis of your running form.  Just send them a short film of you running on a treadmill and they’ll come back with some recommendations.  FWIW the folks at RW have been super awesome to work with in my short stint of running.    Just recently I asked them a fairly involved question one evening.  I’d done my due diligence but I wanted to reach out to people who had the ability to be hands on with the type of item I was asking about, probably had personal experience with it.

I got back a response in a few hours that basically said “Give us time to research this”.   In a couple of days they came back with a long technical email outlining various options, features, pros and cons of items that fit my fairly demanding question.   For someone to do that kind of research for a customer?   You don’t see it much in most industries in this day and age.


if you want a little less suck in your career of being #NOTARUNNER then shoes are important.  If you’re on the end of the bell curve in weight?  Then they’re even more important.