#13 Whew….it’s getting too hot in this pot

It’s been said that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water it will try to jump out, but if you put it in at room temperature and bring the heat up slowly it will just bathe-away until it’s someone’s dinner.  No matter which side of the boiled frog as food conversation you shake out on, the concept is not much different than the life we often find ourselves in……..the slow changes in life that we don’t even realize are happening until something truly boils over…..we often see it with people who get “the talk” from their doctor about their health and decide to turn the ship around…..but it happens to all of us….we so often are a product of our environment/social circle that we forget to realize the effect, good or bad it’s having. 

For me, it seems I was slow-cooking myself to an injury by eeking every last mile out of my running shoes……most people agree that getting 350-500 miles out of a pair of shoes is about right, with the extremists claiming to get more…..if you do the math, this means about 6months to a year (max) for a typical runner. Sure, that’s a pretty wide range, but there are a lot of variables at play that can accelerate the material breakdown….

  • how old are the shoes?  Born-on-dating anyone?
  • Are you a “clydesdale” or “athena” (triathlon’s way of saying “of larger frame”)?  
  • What surface are you running on primarily (concrete being harder than well groomed trail)?  
  • Where do you strike (heel vs. mid vs. forefoot)?  
  • What weather are you running in (dry vs. hot vs. cold, etc)?  
  • Are you prone to injuries or pain syndromes? 
  • And probably some others that I don’t give much emphasis to (or I’m forgetting)

For me, I’m a pretty medium build most of the time (getting damn near “small” lately though….mixed feelings about this), I run on all sorts of surfaces, but mostly road surfaces so firm to hard, I started as a heel-striker, but as I learned more about efficient mechanics I refashioned my gait to primarily a mid-foot strike pattern.  I run in all types of weather and although I’ve had my share of lower extremity aches/pains (especially of the knees), I’m usually pretty resilient to injury.

But recently, which I’ve posted, I’ve had some discomfort off and on in my R (back of the) knee……where a bunch of muscle tissue comes together (hamstrings, calf-group, popliteus).  It has been feeling pretty good lately, but it’s definitely the longer or harder runs that seem to flare things up……it’s been dragging on too long for my liking so it was time to start picking apart the issue.  And so, I decided to look back and see if/how my shoes were contributing……not good.

I bought the pair I’ve been wearing in November 2008.  YIKES!  Not exactly practicing what I was preaching about 6-12 months.  I knew it was going to be over, but I really didn’t realize I was pushing it so far.  In early January of 2009 when I stopped tracking this particular pair of shoes I had an estimated 410 miles on them.  I actually bought another pair of the same shoes, wore through them during 2009-10 training and once they (pair-2) were completely shot, (and perhaps forgetting how far gone pair-1 actually were), went back to pair-1 sometime last fall when I couldn’t stomach paying any more for hobby-gear.

My training log from there says I put another 70-ish miles on them, but I didn’t log anything from November through Early December when I was training casually (off season)…….so I’m figuring I was probably up around 600 miles on these shoes……a high potential for the aches/pains I was experiencing being at least in part due to shoes.  But it wasn’t until I looked at the tread-wear compared to the new shoes that I realized my pot was boiling……

I decided to go with something that would hold me a bit more neutral on my R this time around (video at some point maybe), but essentially the same shoe…..Brooks Defyance (old) and Brooks Glycerin (new).  See if you can tell which is which.

OK, so not terrible so far right?  Besides the dirt and some curvature that the feet cause after 600 miles….the old shoes look….uh, old.  

Maybe you can spot why it was time to replace from the next few pictures….


And so, I’ll be monitoring my symptoms closely over the next 100 miles or so…..


I love recovery week……it’s not easy, but you feel like you have so much more time and by the end of the week, the body and mind are ready to get back to action.  Was scheduled for just over 9 hours of training and got just over 8 (missed one of my swims mid-week).  Feeling recharged though.  Despite arguably one of the 10 worst runs ever on Saturday (wind was brutal and I totally missed the mark in planning my “ensemble”), the run on Thursday was strong, the ride on Saturday was solid and I felt good in the pool today once I got my rhythm.


My intake this week left a little to be desired……I battle sometimes with the need to eat and the desire to eat healthy.  Couple that with running all over the place last week and I missed too many meals.  My weight is showing it, I lost almost 3 lbs by Friday, but I stepped it up this weekend and should be back on track.  I’m sure for many people this sounds like a great thing…..but it’s not….it so important to ease the weight down and not fluctuate too much if I’m going to get the most performance bang for the buck…..I’m about 4lbs off race day weight and in the single digits of body fat…..need to plateau for a little while.

Going to be tricky to pull this one off…..got lots of hours to log and a busy week.  Nothing a little creativity can’t take care of though right?  We’ll see.

I wish you the best, because that’s what you deserve (Harry Harrison)

Mike E.