It’s just a month until the Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in Washington, DC, so time for the longer distances, the pace runs, and the speed work. I’m doing the half marathon with my wife and both daughters. Pushing the distances up on the weekends, I did 16k this morning. Next week its 18k and the week after that 20k. Then I’ll drop back to 12k the week before we leave for DC.
So, I’ve got the push to longer distances covered. The pace runs are no problem, either. After more than 50 years of this activity, I’ve got a pretty good handle on how fast I’m going and how it feels. I no longer need to spend a lot of time learning what I already know. The speed work is another matter. I’m acutely aware of the fact that I’m pretty slow, and, of course, I’d like to go faster. Lots of things that I can’t effect–age, lowered metabolism, and reduced strength, for example, all combine to slow you down. But, within those constraints, I’d like to run as fast as I can. Speed workouts, particularly interval training, are the way to accomplish this. Unfortunately, I never did like interval training. I didn’t like it 50+ years ago when I was in high school and college and had to do it regularly, and I still don’t like it today. The difference today is that there is no coach pushing me, and I’m a lot feistier than I was then. So, I’ve retired from interval training and have to rely on gradual improvements that naturally occur over time.
But, I may have found another way. Last week, I bought some new shoes. I got a pair of Hoka One One shoes, a newish style of shoe with a thicker, cushier sole and a rocker shape to the sole instead of the traditional cut out in the mid-sole. They are sort of the opposite of the minimalist shoes that have been popular lately. You have to get used to minimalist shoes gradually because of the much thinner soles and the lack of any sort of lift in the heel. Too much too soon and you risk painful over stretching of those tendons around the ankle–or worse. I never got used to running in them even though the greatly reduced weight was attractive.
The Hokas were immediately comfortable, and the astounding thing is that every run since I bought them has been faster than comparable runs just before. I did 5 miles on Tuesday in my old shoes and 5 miles Thursday on the same route: a minute faster. 10 Miles today on the same route as the 10 miles I did 2 weeks ago: 4 minutes faster. Surface conditions the same. Weather similar. No wind either time. Three runs in a row suddenly faster. Could still be coincidence, but I’m starting to think otherwise. Excited about my new shoes!