Fish and Chips and Running

Here’s some advice for runners: don’t eat a full portion of British chip shop fish and chips and half a pineapple fritter, along with a nice large bottle of golden ale, and then go for a run an hour later. Your stomach won’t be too happy apparently.

The rescheduled Cupid’s Chase 5k in New Brunswick was on Saturday but I wasn’t there. I’m not sure if my decision not to run was influenced by the fact that I hadn’t actually paid an entry fee, but it was definitely influenced by the fact that I was catching a flight to the UK that night for work – I felt like I wanted to spend the day with the family before heading over. Maybe I should have run it – based on the times I would have been 4th overall, and if I’d had a good day I might have even managed 3rd (

I hate the day after an overnight flight to the UK. Trying to get a bit of sleep on the plane is a very difficult task for me, so in a 6.5 hour flight I’m lucky if I’m actually asleep for anything close to 3 hours (as much as I tried this didn’t happen this time).  This meant a day of exhaustion yesterday.

This time round I tried to combat the tiredness with a run. Soon after arriving at my parents – I’m lucky they don’t live too far from the office so I can stay with them rather than in a hotel – I headed out for a short run thinking it might wake me up. After about 3.5 miles, and a shower I did actually feel more awake, but it was short-lived. After eating lunch I was completely exhausted again, so had a 30 minute power nap.

I ended up fast asleep by 9pm. Today was a busy work today and when I got back I was really hungry so ate a whole piece of cod, with plenty of chips (with salt and vinegar of course) and washed it down with a bottle of Two Hoots Golden Ale. I didn’t think I would run, but for some reason after this meal I decided I wanted to, so I rested for an hour and headed out. I got to the edge of town and rather than looping back to run back to the other end of town and around, I headed up the main road (which was fairly quiet) along the shoulder to the nearby village of Caxton, and down through the town before heading back. I didn’t have my headlamp so some stretches were really dark, but I avoided tripping. What I didn’t avoid was the food and drink getting churned up in my stomach and not feeling at all pleasant after about 2 miles. Still, I managed to get back without being sick, and with 5 miles done.

I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to run the rest of this week (maybe not at all). Trying to plan runs around work and catching up with family and friends is proving a bit difficult. Oh well, perhaps a low mileage week isn’t a bad thing after last week’s long runs.

Running is… achieving personal goals

I reached a milestone that I wasn’t expecting to reach so early in the year – a 20 mile run.

There are a few things to write about relating to this run, including: that sense of achievement when you do something new; how I feel about my Newton Running shoes after a few runs in them; energy gels and chews for the long run; how lucky I am to have a wife who puts up with my running.

Let’s start with the achievement part – running has been a series of achievements for me. Setting myself new goals and working towards them, and there’s nothing like the satisfaction you get from doing something new in your running. I wonder if anyone ever gets to the point where they feel that there’s nothing new to achieve? I’m guessing not, as even as you get older there are goals to be achieved that are relevant to your own capabilities.

Here’s a summary of my run:


and the full details are here.

I’ve been trying to go out and do a long run each month, and have usually gone somewhere new to do them, but for a variety of reasons I decided to run from home, out through Johnson Park to the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. This allowed me to do a straight out and back. At one point I was thinking about only going out 9 miles, then back to Johnson Park and add the extra 2 there if I felt I could do it. Ultimately I decided this could lead me to give up and only end up with 18 miles. I was trying to maintain a comfortable pace, which turned out to be around 9 minutes per mile. I think it helped that I knew the path really well (having cycled it many times), but going out started to feel really long. After the turnaround something changed, and it seemed like the first mile of the return run flew by, and then I realized my 14th mile was faster. I was telling myself to slow it down, but before long my pace was faster again, so eventually I decided to just go with the flow.

Now, there are several things that surprised me about this run. Firstly, that I was able to do it at that speed (and that I was able to pick up the pace); also, I was able to do it 2 days after getting caught up with some fast runners at the club run on Saturday and doing this.


And finally, that I have no muscle aches or pains today. I am especially surprised by this, as at the end of the run yesterday my calf muscles felt like they were on fire, but that’s where having “the stick” probably helps.

Now, about the shoes.

I bought the Newton Running Distance with the aim of using them for my longer runs, and I have been doing this. However, for this 20 mile run I decided to wear my trusty New Balance Minimus Road Zero.

After 3 runs (of 7, 11, and 16 miles), I’m still not sure how I feel about the Newtons. It’s not that they’ve caused me injury, but I have this nagging feeling that they could. I’m not sure I can even put my finger on exactly what the problem is, or even if there is one (perhaps it’s psychological). The thing is I don’t feel as sure as I would normally that my form is correct. At the end of runs I have felt like there are some muscles that have been used that I don’t normally notice in other shoes (although it’s been very minor and any aches have disappeared extremely quickly). So, what do I do? Keep them for hilly runs perhaps (they definitely help with speed on the downhill sections)? See if I can exchange them for something I know I like with the Road Runner return policy (not sure how that works)?

I wonder if the problem I have with the shoes comes down to proprioception? This video I came across recently does a good job of explaining it.

Perhaps the lack of feedback is affecting my run, or perhaps the lack of feedback is just making me question how well I am running in the Newtons.

On to energy gels/chews… for a few years when cycling I have used Clif Shot Bloks successfully (Margarita flavor) and now I am running long I have started using them for runs. I usually keep a decent supply in stock by buying in bulk but apparently I lost track of how many I had left, and had nothing. I ordered more, but knowing that I would need something I decided to try something new. I picked up some Jelly Belly Sport Beans and some PowerBar Energy Blasts. Both were disappointing for different reasons. The Jelly Belly Sport Beans tasted good and were easy enough to eat, although the small packet was difficult to open with gloved hands (and it was quite a bit below freezing with the wind chill), but I didn’t notice any effect from eating them. Perhaps the sugar helped a bit. Perhaps I just needed a lot more of them. The Energy Blasts were not good at all – perhaps it was because it was so cold – as I chewed them they broke into small pieces in my mouth, and on one breath I managed to inhale one piece which subsequently had to be coughed back up. I’m planning to try the Honey Stinger Organic Chews soon but didn’t have any for this run.

On to the most important thing of all. My wife. It’s hard to find time to run with 2 young kids. I often go out very early in the morning before anyone else is awake, or I might go out after the kids have gone to bed, but now I am running further than I have before, the time requirements are greater. Yesterday kindergarten was in session for a make up day from Sandy, but the youngest’s daycare was closed, so one was home. My wife encouraged me to go and run; so without her understanding of my obsession, this run would not have happened.

Snow run = trail run

I got to wear my other new pair of shoes today, earlier than expected. While not really a trail run, I decided that the best shoes for running in the snow today were my new trail shoes. Even the BBC News website was covering the “snow storm” that hit the Northeastern US last night, so I would imagine most people reading this heard about it. Round here it wasn’t that bad – I’m guessing we had about 6 inches or so of the white stuff.

Vivobarefoot Neo Trail

Vivobarefoot Neo Trail

Tread on Neo Trail

Tread on Neo Trail

I wanted to take my phone with me to take some pictures, but as I was heading out the door I realized the battery was nearly dead, so that didn’t happen. So here’s a shot from the porch which gives a reasonable idea of what it is like around here (now that most roads and paths have pretty much been cleared and the sun has started to melt it a bit).


I decided to head down to the park, and while the sidewalk on the main street was clear, there were some that were still snow covered, but the shoes did well on those stretches. When I got to the park, the path had been partially cleared but was still snow covered (just not deep) and that was pretty good for running on. But then I got further into the park and the paths had been cleared such that there was a thin layer of ice across much of it. I ran mainly along the edge where I could get some traction in some of the snow before deciding to just run on the mostly cleared road (although with plenty of slushy sections).

The far end of the park was more icy and it was getting harder to not slip around all over the place, and I hadn’t really dressed properly – I hadn’t factored in the wind which was pretty strong down in the park, so I decided to turn around and head home.

Given the conditions it wasn’t too bad overall – I somehow managed to run about 4.75 miles in under 40 minutes even with the slippery sections.

“Millions of shoes”

My 3 year old said to me yesterday “daddy, you have millions of shoes”. For the record his estimation is a little on the high side.

I wondered where this had come from, so asked my wife whether anything had been said earlier in the day, and she recounted the following story:

3 year old, to wife: Mommy, why did Daddy buy new shoes?

Wife: He wanted to try them.

3 year old: Well, what about those blue shoes and those and those and those?

Wife: Well, Daddy just wanted to try new things.

3 year old: Daddy has lots of shoes. He has more shoes than anyone in our family. 

3 year old, standing over the running shoes looking down at them turning his head from left to right then holds his arms out really wide: He has millions of shoes!

After a short pause: When I’m bigger maybe I can have lots of shoes.

I’ve been thinking about posting a picture of all my shoes for the last couple of weeks, but was waiting until my latest pair arrived, and in the meantime another blogger, Vegetarianbarefootrunner, posted hers (so at least one person beat me to it). I’m glad I waited otherwise I wouldn’t have had the story of my 3 year old’s conversation with my wife.

Here are my running shoes:

photo (2)

Top Row, left to right: Vibram Bikila (my first minimalist shoe), Vibram Bikila LS, Saucony Kilkenny XC4 (not barefoot shoes, but they are flats – I haven’t run much in these at all), Another pair of the Bikila LS.

Middle: New Balance Minimus Road Zero, Merrell Trail Glove (these are a bit worn now but still doing ok).

Bottom, left to right (my newest shoes): New Balance Minimus Road Zero (again), New Balance Minimus Road 10 (I only use these jogging to the gym, and at the gym), Vivobarefoot Neo Trail (haven’t even tried these yet – planning to run a trail President’s Day), Newton Running Distance (see my last post about my first run in these).

Now, I’ve also gone minimalist on every other type of shoe I wear daily, so here are those shoes:

photo (3)

Top, left to right: Vivobarefoot Dharma, Vivobarefoot Evo II (these are a running shoe, but I used them for casual wear – at the time I was running in the Vibram Bikila), Vivobarefoot Off Road Mid

Middle: Vibram KSO, Vivobarefoot Achilles

Bottom, left to right: Vivobarefoot Ra (Red-Brown), Vivobarefoot Dharma (again – the other pair are looking a bit worn), Vivobarefoot Ra (Black)

Vivobarefoot definitely has the biggest selection of non-running barefoot shoes (not sure there’s anyone else making anything close to a formal work shoe like they do), and they often have discount codes, so that helps.

I think I have enough shoes for now, but if I see some on sale I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

Do you have enough shoes?

Newton Running Distance

Apparently I like buying running shoes. I have a habit of buying shoes I either would like to try, or already own, if they happen to be on sale so I’ve amassed a reasonable collection (I plan to get them all together for a group picture sometime this week and will post it when I do).

My latest purchase is a pair of the Newton Running Distance S, Road Runner Sports had them on clearance and they have a pretty good return policy so I decided to go for it.

I first came across Newton Running shoes last year and I was interested. At the Rutgers Half Marathon Expo they had them and I tried some on, but the price tag kept me away. I was intrigued by the idea I could keep the form I have developed from running in minimalist shoes, but have some padding/springiness as well (if there are springs in the shoe won’t they make me go faster?).

Even in the sale, they weren’t cheap (I don’t think I’ve spent that much on shoes before) so the price is going to be an issue if I decide I like them enough.

Anyway, they arrived yesterday, just in time for the RVRR group run.

photo (1)

Before heading out I ran up and down the street a couple of times, and I wasn’t convinced. I was a little worried about the fit – Road Runner Sports website had said to buy a half size up, and I had, but they seemed a little looser than I would have liked. Ultimately this doesn’t seem to have been a problem though. They felt very strange, but I had read a review before I bought them where the reviewer had said that if they hadn’t gone for a long run in these as the first run, they wouldn’t have liked them.

This seemed to ring true for me too. For the first 2.5 miles I was still really unsure but suddenly everything seemed to fall into place and everything felt right. I was running with a small group of people at that point, and found myself getting a little ahead on what was already a reasonably paced run. Initially I held back but one of the group cut his run short, and as I kept going I realized I couldn’t hear the others behind me either.

The group run had turned into a solo run, although I could just about see another group ahead of me on the road, but I knew they were fast and I probably wouldn’t be able to catch them.

The run seemed relatively easy from then on (sometimes you just get a good day anyway, so it may not have been the shoes). I was doing the 7.3 mile route, and miles 5, 6, and 7 all clocked in at faster than 7:20/mile and I don’t think I’ve been running that far that fast for a couple of months.

I have no idea if this was partly down to the shoes, and I plan to try them out on some longer runs as soon as I can. It did seem like certain muscles in my legs were tight after the run that I wouldn’t normally have a problem with so I’ll be keeping an eye on that, and I will try to get some similar distance/pace runs in on other shoes as a like-for-like comparison if I can.

At the moment this does seem like it might be a good option for me on the longer distances.

(UPDATED thoughts on the Newton Running shoe on Feb 19th: