Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New running shoes

Recently, my shins have started to ache on my runs. Shin splints are an overuse injury.

According to experts, this is a sure signal to buy new shoes as the cushioning is no longer effective.

I've accumulated only 200 miles or so rather than the expected 350-500 miles on my Nike Air Zoom Vomero 2+ but they're certainly over 6 months old.

To prolong the life of the old shoes would be false economy, as ignored shin pain can result in stress fractures. So today I went to the running store to pick up a new pair - or pairs, as you'll see presently...

Somewhat irritatingly, shoes manufacturers (like ski manufacturers) feel the need to update running shoes every single year. Sometimes it's only the graphics, other times there are significant morphological alterations. Fortunately, in the case of the Vomero, the fit hasn't changed although the sole have been updated. Voila, the Nike Air Zoom Vomero 3.

Another wierd phenomenon is that serious running shoes (current year) tend to be expensive and aren't discounted much off list if at all. You won't find the Vomero 3 for 30% off at places like Sports Authority. The list price is $125.

My first run today with the revised Vomero was a midweek 7.5 miler. I definitely detected improved cushioning over my worn Vomero 2+, though my shins still ached. Hopefully, the purchase wasn't too late, and ice and a NSAID will improve the situation.

At the same time as buying the Vomero 3, I happened to try the super-high-tech (and world's lightest) Nike Lunar Racer+ that was introduced to coincide with the Beijing Olympics. During the Olympics, I didn't notice any marathoners using it. In fact, it took me a while to locate the evidence on

It's a mistake to go too light on running shoes since cushioning will be compromised. So I was a bit surprised to find it as soft as the supercushy Vomeros. That feeling comes solely from the new lightweight foam used. There is no cushioning whatever in the upper: no liner, no padded tongue. It's minimalist to the point of being almost transparent and as a result its weight is about half the Vomeros.

Of course, that meant I had to buy it as well. (The fit is a little different, I had to move up half-a-size.)

[L to R: Lunar Racer+, Vomero 3 and Vomero 2+]

As a recovering weight-weenie cyclist, I also find it surprising that at a list price of $100 it actually costs less than the heavier shoe. When it comes to cycling componentry, you always pay more for weight reduction, sometimes way more for a ridiculously insignificant percentage decrease.

Saving the weight of one shoe (0.33 kg) seems pretty significant until you realize I weigh somewhere in the range of 68-69 kg at present. In other words, I seriously doubt I will be able to see the effect of the shoe in terms of my running speed. And in any case, I'm not exactly elite athlete material.

Adding the Lunar Racer+ to my shoe collection represents a deeply embarassing personal statement of dedication and commitment to completing my run workouts come what may (modulo injuries) this semester. Shelling out another $100 on an event-only shoe (or at most a once-a-week-speedwork shoe) doesn't make practical sense.

And somewhat irrationally, I won't feel like lacing them up unless I feel I've earned my right to use them. And they won't make any measurable difference anyway. Go figure.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Running in San Francisco

Recently, I happened to be in San Francisco for a few days.

{Pic courtesy of Duffy Gillman]

What's the best way to see the city in a hurry?

One might think of their iconic cable cars, perhaps BART or buses.

Instead, I ran.

In two runs, I covered about 11 miles.
Both days were sunny.

There's definitely a runner's high to be felt pounding along the waterfront along San Francisco Bay and up and down those steep hills with great views.

Wish I could've stayed longer and gone further, e.g. do the Golden Gate bridge.


Starting out each time from near Union Square along Market St out to the Ferry House.
Then Run #1: turning right to head south along the Embarcadero looping around the SF Giants' AT&T Baseball Park and back. About 5.5 miles and mostly flat. (Found this route on the SFRRC's website.)

Or Run #2: turn left to head north along the Embarcadero to Fort Mason, but coming back along Taylor St over Russian Hill (with a view of Telegraph Hill and the Coit Tower to the left) and then Nob Hill. About 6 miles.


One evening after dinner, I had the chance to cross the Levi Plaza and run up the Filbert Steps to the Coit tower in street clothing and shoes.

I felt like passing out but managed to snap two pictures with my iPhone camera (below).

Only two tenths of a mile according to Google Maps. Who needs a stairmaster and gym when you have this?