40 miler training update and Hoka One One's

As I mentioned in my last blog, I am training for a 40 mile run in November to bring in my new decade of age in style. The run volume is aggressive, ramping up 4-5 miles of a long run every 4-5 days and yesterday was no exception. After running 14 miles five days prior, I ventured out for a 19 miler on a mostly dirt, lightly rolling hill course at a lower elevation (5500-5800 feet). This journey of training for a 40 mile run in 4 weeks will be done all by using RPE (rating of perceived exertion) as I will run comfortably, paying attention to my breathing as a marker of intensity. And of course, no music. I like to engage my surroundings and pay attention to my body signals.

I admit I went out a bit too fast yesterday on my run, which provided me a 7:37 minute/mile average for the 19, but I couldn't help it. I had gotten a pair of Hoka One One Bondi B shoes and was eager to try them out to see what all the hype was about. Many ultrarunners are choosing these shoes for their comfort and even some triathletes from what I have been hearing. As you can see from the photo, these shoes look gigantic; however, their ramp angle is only 4mm which encourages natural running form.

The true benefit of this shoe is the 30% more padding in the sole, which I will admit, feels quite nice on the legs! I did have to size up a full size as I like a bit more room in the shoe when I run long. Weighing in, my size 11 weighs 11.4 ounces which is not bad considering it looks heavier.

As I set off on my run, my initial worry was the horizontal energy loss from the tremendous amount of cushion the shoe provides. While I could not accurately measure this, especially since I was on dirt for 90% of my run, I can say that I was easily able to maintain my high cadence at a decent pace. What surprised me was that I immediately noticed my ability to maintain my higher efficiency running form with these shoes on. The eyes can be deceiving and while it looks like this shoe would be a heel strikers best friend, the Bondi B, with a low ramp angle and sole design, promotes a good lever that promotes proper knee drive and lift. I found it extremely simple to land on my midfoot for all of the 19 miles. Now, I do know how to run efficiently in any shoe but this shoe did promote more of a natural running form without much thought to it and I certainly did not have to "battle the heel to try to overcome a large ramp angle.

The real reason that I wanted to try this shoe was because I wanted to test the cushioning and the small 4mm ramp angle with my chronic Achilles tendonitis. Running with pain is common for me in any shoe but I wanted to subjectively measure the difference between this shoe and my others. My typical pain level, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), during a run is usually around a 7-8 depending on if I run aggressive hills or not. As I began this run in my Hoka One One's, I was at a 7 but interestingly, my pain level decreased as the miles accumulated. At around mile 6 I was down to a 6 and by the time I hit mile 13, I was around a 3-4. Now, this particular run was an out and back of sorts with the last 3 miles uphill, where I typically expect more Achilles pain. Amazingly, I remained around a 3 on the pain scale those last few miles.

Upon returning home, my legs were tired but increasing your long run by about 35% in 5 days will do that to you! ;-) After taking off the Hoka's, I immediately noticed two things: 1) I felt like I was walking on clouds and 2) I had ZERO Achilles pain. After a run of this nature, I usually have about a 5-6 on the pain scale but nothing after I took off the shoes. That was probably the most interesting finding of my first run.

Fast forward to later this week where I will be running a 23-24 miler but this time, I am heading up to the mountains and testing the shoes on trails. I want to test the pain scale and the performance of these shoes ascending and descending single track in the beautiful foothills of Colorado. Oh, and in case you want to know my nutrition for this run, I had a chocolate Generation UCAN 30 minutes before the run then a bottle of water mixed with chia seed and lime juice throughout the 19 miles. Energy levels were steady the entire time!

Stay tuned for the next blog post. My curiosity is peaked and I am sure yours is to.

Coach Bob