Brooks Pure Project vs. Newton Running: The Long Awaited Follow-up

March 21, 2012

I will preface this post by saying the reviews and opinions stated below are totally my own and I was not paid by either company to write this non-professional runner review of each product 🙂

So a while back I wrote this post stating that I decided to try some new footwear and change up my stride.  I never had more than one type/brand of running shoe at one time (HA….and I call myself a runner) so I was a little reluctant to start changing things around especially after coming off a recent knee injury.  However, I figured I had no immediate racing plans in the schedule so if I messed myself up further – it’s not like it was going to miss out on a race that I had paid for or trained really hard for.

After months of running in each shoe, I have come to a decision — I LOVE THEM BOTH…but for different reasons.  And so my review begins.

Brooks Pure Cadence — love it for speed work and distances 11 miles or less.

The first time I put this shoe on I was amazed at how comfortable it was.  I’ll be honest, in the beginning I favored this shoe over the Newton’s for quite some time.  I love how you still have cushioning under your feet but it allows you to not only “feel the road” a bit more but they also make you very aware of your foot strike.  I credit these shoes to the early strengthening of my ankles and calves because I was definitely sore in places on my legs that I never felt before 🙂  I also was loving that they made me more aware of my foot strike because heel striking in these shoes feels so awkward (for me at least).  I wear prescription orthotics that are full length and these shoes most definitely accommodate these hard plastic monstrosities that I have the pleasure of running on.  My foot felt a bit cramped at first when I put the orthotics in but they stretched after a couple of wears and I’ve had no issues.  The shoe is well constructed and performs well on both the road and the treadmill.  I also love the color and get complimented on them all the time at the gym 🙂

The reason that I say that I love them for anything less than 11 miles is because that was my personal threshold for these shoes.  I did a run of 11 miles in them and my knees ached for about a week afterwards 😦  Now, I have read that there are others that can run marathons in these puppies without a problem so it’s not like it can’t be done; but for me I stopped doing any long distances in them because I didn’t want to jeopardize my knees before the marathon (I’ve been doing so good!) I may experiment with the longer distances in these shoes after the marathon when I can take time off if I notice any pain in my knees.

Bottom Line: It’s a great shoe and comes highly recommended by ME 🙂  I feel they have played a huge part in making me a stronger runner and would most definitely purchase another pair once these wear out.

Newton Terra Momentus — love it for all kinds of running (both long and short distances)

As I mentioned above I had a tendency to favor the Brooks over these shoes in the beginning.  They took a little (and by a little, I mean ALOT) of getting used to and I would get frustrated at how bad my calves would hurt when running in these shoes.  I knew they were meant to “train” me into using a mid-foot strike but my goodness did it have to hurt so bad?!?!?!?  I’ll tell you what – I’ve got some pretty fierce looking calves because of them now 🙂  I like to call these shoes my “lazy shoes” in the sense that I don’t necessarily have to concentrate on my foot strike as much because it they basically do it for me.  This didn’t come without a HUGE learning curve though!

I’ve done all of my longer training runs in them (16.5 miles so far) and ran a half marathon in them in the beginning of March.  They provide extra support and cushioning (not so much that I feel like I’m running on couches though) so my knees have never felt achy after a run in them…my calves are a different story LOL!  As with the Brooks, they fit my orthotics just fine and my feet don’t feel cramped.  The only thing I have noticed is that I developed a corn (gross I know) in between my last two toes on my right foot and that is an issue I’ve never had before with any other shoe.  I have also sliced my right ankle bone open numerous times from the sole of the left foot (this is my own fault) but it hurts like heck and I’ve only done it in these shoes.  They too are well constructed and perform great on both the road and treadmill.  I feel that these shoes helped immensely with my foot strike and even though I call them “lazy” I believe that they helped form muscle memory of the proper mid-foot placement.  Be prepared for lots of calf soreness and major sticker shock — these shoes are not cheap!

Bottom Line:  I would definitely purchase another pair of Newtons and may experiment with one of their other styles (like the Distance U) provided my checkbook can handle the price!

I hope this review provides some semi useful information.  Don’t ever just purchase shoes on a whim and make sure you visit your local running store to find out what works for you!

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Define “Good”

March 14, 2012

Last night after my simply fantastic run outside after work I started to ponder the definition of “good”; as in what makes you “good”.  Is it a 5:00 minute mile? Is it an 8 minute mile?  Is it whatever pace you think you totally rocked your run at?

To be honest when I took up running more seriously, I started to compare myself to other runners. It’s only natural for a type A personality such as mine to do just that.  “How come she barely trains and can run a 8 min mile and not break a sweat?”, “How come they decided to run a marathon 6 months ago already qualified for Boston?” , “How does he make it look so EASY??”  Oftentimes I would be running at what I felt was a difficult (for me) pace and glance down at my Garmin only to be defeated when the mile marker beeped something like a 10:25 pace.  Seriously?  I would get so down on myself because I wasn’t going as fast as I should be (whatever that was in my mind) or running as far as other runners.

When I decided to sign up for marathon #2 (The New Jersey Marathon) I forced myself to throw all those preconceived notions out the window. It was time to focus on ME and only ME.  I have to say that not only is it so freeing to let go of my original definition of “good” but it has allowed me to dig deep and push outside my comfort zone a little bit more to achieve “better”.  I’ve also come to the conclusion that if I can endure the pain of running a marathon (let’s be real…it ain’t no cake walk!) then I can endure a little discomfort that will bring me closer to reaching my goals.

Last year if you asked me if I could run 10 miles before putting in a full work day – I probably would’ve laughed at you.  Now I’m doing that on a fairly consistent basis.  Last year a “quick run” after work was 3 or 4 miles; now I’m going double that distance in less time.  Things are finally clicking and it feels great.  I won’t lie, it’s still a bit of a mental battle when I read other blogs or workout updates – but then I remind myself of how far I’ve come.

So here’s my unsolicited advice for the day:  “GOOD” is what you make of it.   Whether it’s a 5k, 10k, half, full,  or ultra – the last runner is covering the same distance as the first runner.  Just having the courage to get out there and accomplish something that you never though possible is GOOD enough for me 🙂


2012 E. Murray Todd Half Marathon Recap: I have a new PR!

March 9, 2012

Sorry this is coming in a little late — again, I’ve been super busy (and tired) so blogging takes a back seat.

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling like I’d much rather roll over and go back to sleep instead of getting ready to go run 13.1 miles.  Breakfast consisted of coffee and a banana (hindsight shows that I definitely should have had something more substantial) and I was out the door and headed for half marathon #4.

It was kind of dark and raw outside and I was glad that I had packed some extra layers because I definitely needed them.  There was no denying that it was COLD at the start of the race!  I met up with Amy – we did a quick warm-up walk and some light stretching before heading over to the start line.  She wanted to be near the front and I decided to hang near the back of the pack as I didn’t want to get swept up in the excitement of starting out too fast.  It was a smaller race (about 700 people) so it’s not like I couldn’t get into a groove right from the start.  Plus my legs were feeling really stale and I wasn’t sure how I was going to perform.  I went into this race with the impression that it was nothing more than a training run but if I felt good enough to possibly shave some time off of my personal best — well then so be it!

They yelled “Go” and we were off!  One thing I found odd was that we used a b-tag timing system but there was no mat to cross at the start line (yet we had 5 and 10 mile split mats).  I have also noticed that it takes my body FOREVER to warm up and feel decent when it’s  cold outside.  This race was no exception and two miles in I was hating life and seriously regretting not just staying in bed!  I actually did something I’ve never done before and ate a GU at mile 2.5 just to give me something to take my mind off of how sucky I felt.  I was already starting to bargain with myself like “get to mile 5 and you can take a walk break” — seriously, it was that bad!  Finally around mile 3.5 was our first water stop — I didn’t carry any with me because I hate running with a fuel belt and I was definitely looking for a quick sip.  Quick it was not 😦   Let’s put it this way — I literally had to stop, grab a cup and fill it with water from a cooler.

So now around mile 4 my body starts to feel loose enough to make this run less suck-tastic and I was starting to find my groove.  The hills were a constant reminder of how hard this race really is but they didn’t seem as bad as they did last year.  I attribute that to being much stronger this time around 🙂  There were still two pretty big hills that I decided to power walk up because I didn’t want to waste all my energy and feel trashed.   Miles 4 through 10 were a breeze (relatively speaking) and I was ticking them off around a 9:30 pace and feeling good.  I wasn’t feeling like I was running to the brink of exhaustion and I told myself that when I got to mile 10 I would make the decision on whether or not to really push the last 5k or just cruise.  My only complaint on the last 5k was that the mile markers were way off.  When I got to Mile 11 my garmin was only reading 10.5 miles (it had been slightly off the whole course but not by that much) so I wasn’t sure if I should really take off with all I had or wait until I got to mile 12.  The marker mess up was such a mind game because mile 12 was correctly marked — so that 1 mile (which was really 1.5 miles) felt like an eternity (and rightfully so!).  I got to Mile 12 — pulled off to the side for about 10 seconds to stretch my super tight calves and get ready to run as fast as I could to the finish.  I remembered that last year at this exact point I was feeling like death and here I was now feeling well enough to amp it up and kill it in the last mile.  I already knew at this point  I would  PR so I just wanted to give it all that I had.

I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and a time of 2:07:11…..that is 3:10 faster than my time last year 🙂  I was really hoping for the 2:05-2:06 range and honestly if it weren’t for the hills, I probably could’ve accomplished that.

I definitely felt tired this week and my calves didn’t start feeling “normal” until yesterday (Thursday).  I was still able to do speedwork on Wednesday and knock out 5 miles.  I have 10 on the board for today but I don’t know if I’ll get all of those in or not.   Trying to just run by feel and not forcing my body to do anything that will result in an injury.  I also noticed that the marathon is literally right around the corner and I’m getting super excited for it 🙂

Well that’s enough rambling from me!  Have a great day everyone 🙂


Blogging break….don’t worry, still training!

March 3, 2012

It’s been a ridiculously busy past couple of weeks and blogging about my training had to be put on the back burner.  Rest assured I’m still training hard and was able to complete 16 miles this past Sunday 🙂

Tomorrow I have a half marathon (the same race that served as my first half last year) and I’m really hoping to break my time of 2:10:21 on that course.  My legs aren’t feeling as fresh as I would like them to be but I’m hoping to report back tomorrow with some good news!

Wish me luck!


Week #5 = great training week!

February 4, 2012

I have now completed five weeks of training and besides feeling a bit achy from my long run yesterday, I am on cloud nine with my training accomplishments this week 🙂

Accomplishment #1 – not breathing with every swim stroke
Since I began swimming in August, I have definitely been improving each week. This week I finally decided to let go of the security blanket of taking a breath with each right stroke and tried going every other. Let’s see if I can explain this on “paper”. Normally I’d swim like this: breathe, left, breathe, left….(constantly taking my head out of water on the right stroke)
This time I tried this: breathe, left, right, left, breathe….once I got into the groove, it was fantastic! I even increased it to a breath every five strokes too and was okay with that as well.
The next milestone will be being able to take breaths with the left stroke as well, but that is a ways away!

Accomplishment #2 – mile repeats at fastest pace ever (for me)
With this training cycle I’ve been pushing the limits with my speed and forcing myself to break out of the comfort zone of my running. I’ve said it before that the only way to get fast is to run faster! This week my speed workout was mile repeats (3 x 1600) with a two min rest interval. I was able to run these at an 8:00/mi pace! I know I have it in me to go faster and I hope by the end of this cycle I can shave off even more time.

Accomplishment #3 – 11 miles on the tm (should have been an easy long run but I made it more of a progressive run)
Started this out nice and easy at a 10:00 pace for the first 3 miles, Then picked it up to 9:26 for the next two miles, then 9:09 for a mile, then 8:32 for the next two miles, then backed it down to 9:26 for 2 miles, then 8:50 ish for 1.5 miles and back down to 10:00 for the last half mile. This is probably why I’m a bit achy today and I was wiped out afterwards but it was a great workout!

Not going to list all my training this week. Accomplishments speak for themselves and I’m looking forward to week #6!!!!!


Busy Busy Busy!!!!

January 28, 2012

This is why I’ve been lacking on the posting lately! I have definitely kept up with my training and have managed to fit it in with my crazy work weeks! Yes, there are mornings when I wake up simply exhausted and question my motives as I stare at my tired reflection in the bathroom mirror at 5:15 a.m. But after I complete my workout, I feel great and ready to tackle the day. I think my biggest obstacle that I’m still trying to manage is my lack of ability to shut my brain off at night. I wind up laying in bed wide awake (though exhausted) thinking about all the projects that I need to complete.

I was going to try melatonin to help me drift off and stay asleep but I was given a suugestion by a friend to try a supplement called Holy Basil. It is supposed to help with managing stress and cortisol levels in your body. I took 2 capsules about two hours before bedtime and definitely felt “different” …. Kind of relaxed maybe? I’m not sure if this was just a placebo effect or not but I’m going to try it again and see if I experience them same sensation I had a couple nights ago.

Okay so the training has been going well. My body is tired (to be expected) and my knees were a little achy this week. I have a feeling the ache stemmed from running two long runs (10 miles each) within the span of 5 days with a 6.5 tempo in between. Normally I wouldn’t do something like that but the only time I could fit in my long run this week was on Tuesday morning before work….so I’m paying for it now! I also altered my schedule to fit one running day on Sunday so it felt good to start my week with only 2 more runs to be completed 🙂
Can’t believe I’ve already completed 4 weeks of training!

Here’s what the last 2 weeks of training looked like:
Week #3
Sunday: off
Monday: Speedwork (1200, 1000, 800, 400, 200, 100) all with a 200 rest interval in between. 5.5 miles total
Tuesday: swim 1250m, strength training and stretching
Wednesday: 7 mile tempo
Thursday: swim 1150m, strength training and stretching
Friday: 10 miles @ 10:15 pace
Saturday: rest
Week #4
Sunday: 6.5 mile tempo
Monday: swim 1100m, strength training
Tuesday: 10.25 mile long run (10:15 pace)
Wednesday: off
Thursday: Speedwork (5 x 1k) with 400 rest interval, 5.25 miles
Friday: swim 1150m, strength training
Saturday: off

Whew that was a lot. Thanks for reading if you got this far!


Marathon Training Week 1 – DONE

January 8, 2012

That’s right folks, first week is in the history books and I’m already looking forward to week #2.

The 3 key runs of this past week were tough but not too overbearing and I definitely felt “accomplished” after completing each one. The other great part is that I got my long run of 8 miles done on Friday so I was able to enjoy being lazy this weekend. I also like that if I decide to do any workouts on the weekend, they are just considered “bonus workouts” since I’ve already done the hard stuff during the week 🙂 Yesterday was a nice 35 min trail walk with the dogs and hubs…nothing crazy but a nice way to get some fresh air and a little cardio.

Obviously I can’t form too formal of an opinion of the FIRST program just yet; but I will say that I think I am going to enjoy not having to run 6 days a week! I also found that during this past week I was able to truly push myself during the 3 key runs without having the feeling of “gotta do this again tomorrow”. I also love the fact that I can swim on the cross training days because those days have to be “hard” as well and my body appreciates the workout without the pounding! I am also digging the true flexibility of putting the 3 runs any day of the week as long as they are not back to back. My plan is to do M,W,F since I leave work at 12 on Fridays and can go for my long run then :). This wouldn’t be something that would work during the summer months but for winter training, this is perfect!
In addition, our local running club does 6+ mile group runs on Thursday evenings so I can always meet up with them for a good portion of my long run if I wanted to switch things up some weeks…especially since they meet about 4 miles away from my office.

So far the body is feeling good and knees are holding up. Let’s hope everything stays that way for 17 more weeks!

Have a great Sunday everyone!