Running Faster

As a result of my injury this year and subsequent treatment (getting my knee drained & a shot of cortisone), I’ve had to take some time off from running this year.

In fact I didn’t log a single mile for 7 weeks, including the entire month of October.

I’m well below my yearly average over the last 5 years but I’m just happy to be pain-free and back to the grind again.

One of the things I’d like to do better in the coming months & years is to get my speed back up to where it was before my injury and then see how fast I can get. I hate to even speak this out loud, but I’d love to run a sub-4 hour marathon by the time I hit my 45th birthday.

That means I’ve got a little fewer than 4 years to optimize my running to such a point that I’m roughly six minutes faster than my PR.

No pressure.

Now the inimitable Extraface (Dave Coustan) shared a link on his wonderful Slack1 – “Fancy Running Shoes Really Do Seem to Make You Faster“.

I’m no fan of Nike shoes (save for my dad’s original waffle trainers which were cool as hell), but the research seems pretty compelling. Wired even did their own ad hoc skunkworks study at the New York City Marathon which seems equally promising that these shoes (and potential new versions like them) have measurable performance benefits for long-distance runners.

But $250 is a lot of money to spend on shoes, especially when I try to have 2-3 pairs I rotate to keep my feet feeling fine & the treads new. Plus it’s a lot to ask runners to change their kicks, since we’re notoriously finicky and we tend to stick with a model once we find one we love.

The flip side of the coin – at least for me – is tracking and data. I love my running app, iSmoothRun, on both my phone and my Apple Watch but I’m always looking to learn more from my running data.

One way to do that is crunching the numbers more effectively. I’m this close to buying a Pro membership to SmashRun, my current favorite place to see learn about myself through statistical analysis. (I also did a fun mapping project almost exactly a year ago to the day. You should check it. It’s cool.)

The other route I could go is to get a “smart shoe” like the Altra IQ version of my current running shoe, the Torin IQ. That way I’d get to stay in the shoes I know, love & run in while getting more data. Of course I’d have to drop $220 which is almost as much as the “fast” Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%.

Still another option would be to “roll my own” smart shoes by adding something like the MilestonePod ($30) or the Stryd ($200) to whatever pair of shoes I use. Both seem simple to setup and swap out, it’s simply a matter of how much I’d like to spend and how much more data I’d like to track.

Both units also currently work with my running app, so there’s that too.

In the end what I’ll likely do is just keep running more often. Work my way back up to my pre-injury weekly mileage and see what that gets me.

If and when I feel like I need better gear – either to track my efforts or to make me faster just by virtue of lacing up – I’ll make the change.

Until next time, see you on the road!

  1. You should join his Slack or, at the very least, subscribe to the email list that spawned the community – Three Banana Thursday – for more fantastic stuff like this.