2014 Has Been…

It’s been weird. January typically passes quickly for me (I think it’s the mid-month birthday) (and it makes the slog of February even more painful), but this month has seemed exceptionally speedy.

For a while, I just didn’t have much to say. Sports-wise, 2013 was a great year for me — but it was fairly frustrating in some other respects, and I can’t say I was sad to see it go. I intended to spend January figuring out how to make 2014 better, and I’ve made a small amount of progress there, but, well, it’s hard to see anything tangible coming from that just yet. And then, finally, when I did have some things to say, I spilled a pint glass full of water on my computer keyboard. (It miraculously worked again after several days of drying out, which is good, because after a few false starts, I think it’s safe to say I’ll never blog regularly from my phone.)

All of which is a long way of saying, while I find “here’s what I’ve been up to” posts sort of silly — because really, who cares? — I’m going to write a “here’s what I’ve been up to” post now, as a way to reset and move forward.

So. In 2014, I’ve been:

Getting Addicted to a Boutique Fitness Class

If my friend Jess is reading this, she’s certainly either laughing or gloating or both, because she’d been telling me for years about Burn. I am not, generally, a group fitness person. I’m not even a gym person. Group fitness in particular is not motivating to me as an introvert; god, what if someone wants me to socialize? Plus, while I’m sure I look plenty goofy while running or riding a bike, I typically don’t have to look at myself doing those sports. Busting out “Vertical Mountain Climbers” in a room wallpapered with mirrors is just, urgh, gross, no thank you.

And yet, I was inclined to trust Jess’s opinion on Burn because our dispositions are not terribly dissimilar. Besides, there is a Burn studio 1.5 blocks from my house; it’s closer than the gym or pool. It’s practically the same thing as running in terms of the prep required.

The workout is part ridiculous group fitness cardio moves, part weights (similar, I think, to the way barre classes handle weights — I’m talking 3- to 12-lb dumbbells, not power lifting), and part Pilates springboard class. The cardio makes me feel silly but is fine if I manage to get a non-mirror-adjacent spot, and the weights are actually about at the right level for my lifting right now; sure, there are moves I could be doing with more than a total of 16 pounds of weights, but for good form and focus, I maybe shouldn’t be.

But all of that is nothing compared to the springboard. I like it for arm work (and the bonus core work it takes to stay upright during those arm sequences), but I adore it for leg springs. Leg springs give me this amazing hamstring-burning, strength-and-stretch combo, and I leave feeling both totally worked (like after lifting) and also way more flexible than usual (like after yoga). Plus, we lie down for leg springs. I love lying down!

This tells me I’d probably be well-suited to finding some actual Pilates springboard classes, but there aren’t any of those within a 90-second stroll from my front door, so for now, I’m sticking with Burn. I bought a 30-day unlimited deal and have been going twice a week all month. I’ll probably dial it back to once a week in February, because the cost will be about the same and I’m sure there’s something to be said for doing some more traditional lifting at the gym that I’m, y’know, already paying for, but I’m glad to have it in my routine.

Biking Outside Again

We’ve had a supremely dry winter, and while this is bad for a whole host of reasons, it’s great for cycling. I’ve been biking to work about once a week fairly consistently, and I’ve started to add a few long rides back into my schedule. This past weekend, I rode the cheese factory loop for the first time since last February, finishing just over 41 miles in just over 3 hours (and I mean “just over” like if I hadn’t gotten stuck at the final stoplight, I would have rolled in at 3:00:00), which is not bad for me on a course with a few substantial climbs.

I realized, on that ride, that the last time I rode that loop, I was still not consistently biking in my big gear. That seems nuts now — man, I wish I had cadence data from back then, because I imagine my little legs in my little ring must have just been like “pew-pew-pew-pew-pew” the whole time — but it’s also a nice, tangible sign of progress.

Judging what that progress means, though, is always the trick for me with cycling. I have my eye on a pretty substantial bike adventure, but I’m still not convinced I can hang. More about that later.

Hunting for Running Shoes

After more than a year and close to 1000 miles, the Brooks Ravenna 3 train has pulled permanently into the station. One pair of blue-and-grays, two pair of yellow-and-grays, and a handful of PRs later, I am on the hunt for something new. My newest pair just hit the 200-mile mark, so I actually have a while to settle on something, but I’ve traditionally been able to feel the wear on Ravennas right around 300, so I’m hoping to have new daily training shoes before these hit “only for rainy weather or desperate circumstances” status.

Currently in the running (har har):

  • Ravenna 4s. I went to a new-to-me running store hoping they would have the 5s for me to try. They didn’t, but they did have the 4s … at full price, which was kind of a bummer since I knew they were already being replaced. I tried them on anyway and, at least for a couple of jogs up and down the block, they felt about the same as the 3s. I then had a dramatic moment of clarity and drove several miles out of my way to forage through Sports Basement, where I was rewarded with a deeply discounted pair, discounted even further in their 20%-Off-Till-It-Snows sale. So, I’ve got those.
  • Saucony Guide 6s. The new-to-me running store recommended these as well. My first proper running shoes were the first-edition Guide, and I’ve been curious about the newer models, since Saucony made some pretty substantial changes to their shoes a couple of years ago. (I think? I was looking for an article to link but couldn’t find one, so maybe I’m wrong, but my memory was that they lessened the heel-to-toe drop in a lot of their shoes and committed to making them substantially lighter, even on the support end of the spectrum.) I took them on one test run — three miles, because the shoe fitter warned me that I’d notice the flatter platform — and while I didn’t feel anything unpleasant in my calves or Achilles tendons, I got the deepest, nastiest, most sudden blister on my right arch and it’s kept me from wanting to run in them again at all. I should give them another try, but honestly, they may just go back. I also found out that the 7s were out when I paid full price for the 6s, so I feel like a sucker anyway.
  • Kahru Flow 3s. These will never be my everyday shoes, but I am hoping to make them short run/track shoes. I was fitted for them nearly a year ago during a TAG gait analysis session, but I stalled on buying them till they came up on a daily deals site. I have worn them once, for two miles, and I will probably keep them to that or even less for the foreseeable future, because my legs were d-o-n-e after 20 minutes. My theory is that, while I never show wear on the heels of traditional stability shoes, I’m also not a true, natural midfoot striker; I’m kind of an “all-foot” striker, and the foamy heel in most shoes helps to balance out the fact that my feet would prefer to just flop down wherever-the-hell. In the Karhus, I had to work a lot harder to land anything close to lightly/efficiently/appropriately. That said, I got them specifically because I was prepared to do that work, so I hope to try some shorter track workouts in them soon.
  • Brooks Adrenaline 13s. I bought them a while ago and never really liked them, but hey, if I’m starting from scratch, I should probably throw them back into the mix, since they have all of about 10 miles on them.

As always, any shoe hunt is fraught with peril for me, plus the standard hand-wringing over orthotics and the like (e.g., when I use those online shoe finders, I never know if I should be describing myself with or without orthotics — without, I’m an overpronator, but in theory, with them I’m neutral … right?). So, this should be interesting.

Writing This Post for Too Long.

The whole point is to get this out there and move on. So! Onward.

8 thoughts on “2014 Has Been…

  1. I ran in the Ravenna 3s and recently got a pair of Guide 7s. I really love these shoes, in a gushing, I’ve-never-felt-this-way-about-a-shoe-before way. They’re an 8mm drop (Saucony has made this “standard” for most of their shoes). I went right from the Ravenna (which I think is a 10mm drop) with no issues at all. I agree, they feel flatter, but very stable, and I feel faster in them for some reason.

    Do you run in the same shoe for everything, or do you rotate them around? I recently started rotating (because I had my old Ravennas, my new Sauconys, plus a pair of Adrenalines, which used to be my main shoe, that I bought when I found them on sale for $50. So just to get through these three pairs, I’ve been rotating them and I think it’s working pretty well (meaning, I don’t have any injuries yet!)

    • kimretta says:

      I used to rotate Ravennas and Adrenalines. When I didn’t LOVE-love the Adrenaline 13, I went full-time to the Ravennas, but I really preferred how I felt when I was alternating (plus, I shopped for shoes a LOT less often). My dream would be to have two different “everyday” shoes and maybe something else for the track.

      I’m wondering if the issue with the Guide 6 I tried was sizing — the guy talked me into trying 7.5s (I’m usually a 7), and they didn’t feel too big when I was running up and down the block, but maybe I was just slipping around a little too much on a real run. I liked them enough for the first 2.5 of 3 miles that I really don’t want to give up on them yet!

  2. Angela says:

    Gah. The eternal shoe hunt. One of these days….One of these days…..

    • kimretta says:

      Ugh, right? I always feel so on top of things when I have my stash of shoes in the closet. As soon as it’s gone, I’m a mess! “You mean I have to do this AGAIN?”

  3. Kelly says:

    have you tried the Asics GT 2000s? They are a pretty good stability shoe. Or, the Mizuno Inspire would be another good one semi like the Ravennas. Have you ever tried a neutral shoe with your orthotics? That’s what I do and find it works really well. Gahhh finding a new shoe that works well can be so intense, haha. Good luck!

    • kimretta says:

      Ooh, I’m excited to see your take! I did try the GT-2000 but they didn’t quite feel right (it seemed like they wanted to bend in a different place than my foot wanted to bend). I haven’t tried any Mizunos for *years* and not since getting these orthotics so I should probably put them on my list! I also want to try something like the Ghost with orthotics — I tried without them just for the hell of it this last shopping trip and the guy was like, “yeah, no,” but I never ended up trying them with.

  4. Kristina says:

    I’m super impressed with anyone who tries a new fitness class. I’d love to do something fun and different one of these days, but for the moment, I’m totally boring.

    Good luck with the shoes! I bought 3 pairs of the Ravenna 3s last year and the last one is pretty fresh (I’ve been rotating 2 pairs at a time), but I’m going to invest in the Ravenna 4’s soon – I tried on a pair at Christmas and they felt great. Now I just need to pull the trigger!

    • kimretta says:

      You know, I’d been prioritizing trying all the other shoes instead of running in the Ravenna 4s, but I’m realizing I really should try out the 4s soon, because if I do like them, this would be prime time for stocking up cheaply!

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