I have run three full road marathons and multiple road halfs. I average 40-45 miles per week, and go up to 55-60 during marathon training. My plan for the coming year is to spend the first six months focusing on two goals:
- running trails, starting at half marathon and working up to marathon and 50K
- trying to improve my HM PR on the road
and then train over the summer for a Fall road marathon
Above information is to give you an idea of the type of runner I am, and what my 2015 goals are, but my questions relate to trail running:
- After a first trail half, I found my feet were hurtung on the sides. This was not post-race, but during, particularly on downhills. This is due to the impact and friction on the side of the feet, something that is not a problem in road running (all contact on the sole, not the sides) Wondering if I need to change socks, put on an extra pair of socks, or just suck it up and hope that the skin toughens up in the painful and sore areas
- experienced some knee pain post-race. Never had any knee problems on the road. Thinking it is due to the different type of impact. Is this normal for someone transitioning from road to trail?
- similarly, feeling some heel pain in one foot. Same questions as above
- recovery: for those of you who run road marathons and trail marathons / 50K, how would you compare the recovery that is needed from each. I ask because I want to know how much trail running I can do without this negatively impacting my half marathon road goals due to rest and recovery required from trails.
I am actually hoping that the complimentary activity of trai running will make me fitter and stronger and help my HM road goals.
On the trails, I have run one HM already, and this is the plan moving forward:
- another half weekend of December 20th, and maybe an extra few miles to push up to 16/17 miles
- a full marathon (trail) first weekend of January
- 50K in February
- 50K in May (North Face Endurance , Bear Mountain, NY)
Thanks in advance for any advice and guidance
It definitely take some time to toughen up the joints and muscles used on trails that are not used on the roads. There is much more lateral movement, uneven pacing and uneven stride length, particularly on technical trails. All of the problems you are listing sound like overuse/under conditioning and should lessen with time and training. Many feel running is running but the transition from roads to trails (and vice versa) can be quite taxing (I run exclusively on trails and have similar issues if I run a long distance on a road). You definitely need to invest in some good socks (most wear Injinjis to prevent chafing - I like the mid-weight trail ones) and invest in a good pair of trail shoes (a very personal issue, minimal versus maximal, drop height, etc.). I like the Saucony Peregrines, which are a 4mm drop with a full rock plate. The rock plate is vital if you are running on very rocky technical trails so your feet don't get too beat up. Read reviews, try a lot on and invest in a VIP membership at Road Runner Sports which allows you to return used shoes for 90 days so you can actually run in them.
I think based on what you have said your experience is that you may be pushing it on your race schedule. To go from nothing to half to marathon to 50k in two months is pushing it and may be begging for injury. I am not saying it can't be done but it is an aggressive plan and you really need to monitor yourself. It is also a fast ramp-up in the winter, as snow may prevent you from getting a lot of trail running in. And you need to specifically train on trails, as it is a learned skill, particularly running on technical rocky trails and running downhill on uneven terrain.
As far as recovery and road miles versus trail miles, I find it is not much different. You are naturally going to run slower on trails so the added impact from technical is offset by the slower pace. Everyone recovers at their own pace. I can run a 50k and be back to my regular running pretty quickly while others need more time. It is not a reflection of being a better runner, it is simply a function of your physiology and experience. Always err on the side of too much recovery if you are in doubt.
There are plenty of people who run both trails and road successfully, but it is definitely a balancing act and you risk being less effective at both by dividing your training. Trial and error will tell you the right balance and you will need to play with your training.
Tommy's reply pretty much covers everything, but i will second a couple of points:
- a good pair of trail shoes will be your best investment if you are going to be logging serious mileage on trails. I had a pair of the Peregrines (the first edition), and thought they were fine shoes (although the toebox wasn't wide enough for my liking), but these days i only run in zero drop shoes.
If you're interested in zero drop shoes take a look at the Altra trail shoes- there are 3 different models, with differing amounts of cushioning. I like the Lone Peaks, i don't care for the Superiors.
I am also a big fan of Merrell shoes.
The original Trail Gloves are about as minimal as you can get while still wearing trail shoes, but your feet will take a beating in them.
The Ascend Glove is a great shoe, but may still not have enough protection.
I just got a pair of the Bare Access Trail, and i think they may be my favorite trail running shoes yet.
If you want some heel to toe drop, check out some of the New Balance minimus shoes.
If you'd rather stick to "traditional" trail runners, your options are almost limitless.
I also think you should carefully evaluate your mileage while transitioning to trail running, as Tommy pointed out.
Deal with reality, or reality will deal with you.
Thanks Tommy, Michael. I currently use Brooks Cascadia 6. Maybe need a wider toe-box?
Any thoughts on the Hoka One One?
I've never tried any of the Hoka shoes, although i know they have a certain degree of popularity. Looking at them, my response is "way too much midsole", but that's not based on actual experience so take it with a grain of salt.
I'm not sure how many stores stock them, but if you go to a store that has them, i'd be interested in your opinion after trying them on.
I've also never tried the Cascadia, so i can't compare that toebox to any other brands.
Supposedly New Balance shoes in general have a wider toebox than most other brands, although i think Altra is the leader when it comes to that.
Deal with reality, or reality will deal with you.
If the Cascadia's work for you there is no need to change. The wide toe box is only an issue if your toes are being pinched. I have a narrower foot so I have never had an issue with toe box size and I find the Peregrines are very roomy (that may have changed since the early models, I am in 5s I believe). Remember if it ain't broke, don't fix it! My running partner will laugh at this if he reads this, as I have gone through at least 4 different brands in the last 6 months trying to get the right shoe. Thankfully I found ones that work for me (the Saucony Peregrines).
As to the Hokas, I know some people love them, but I couldn't imagine running in them, particularly on technical trails. There is little proprioception (ground feel and feedback) and I worry about ankle stability as the thick sole moves the pivot point up. They also seem heavy and hot. For me the issue with comfort is not the amount of padding, it is the existence of a rock shield. As long as I have a rock shield to prevent sharp rocks from jabbing me I am fine. I like the feedback I get from feeling the ground under my feet. And if I am being honest, I think they look a bit silly, like clown shoes, and am way too vain to wear them!
As to drop, that is a very individual thing and I am not sure how much a few millimeters make in either direction. I have found 4mm is about right for me. I have run in zero drop but found there was not enough rock plate or toe shield for my taste, but that is more of a reflection of the brand I chose. You just need to zero in on what is most comfortable for you based on trial and error.
In reply to this post by twofootshuffle
A lot of really good information in this thread. The Cascadia's are a super solid all around trail shoe, but so much is based on personal preference.
As was already mention, I would be cautious of the Hokas on very technical trails, like Bear Mountain.
"This is Watchung, not Siberia. Nothing bad will happen"...except bear attacks apparently!
It's taken me a good 5 years to where I have diminishing aches and pains from overextending joints like my ankle on NJ rocks. It seems like something where the body's soft tissue takes time to adjust to the kind of stress of lateral movements unlike going in a straight line- plus always changing direction involves a lot of upper body stability- as Tommy pointed out all of this above.
One thing I might add that is bassically optional but could pay off big, it's hard work but adding intensity runs of like an hour or more and definitely doing squats have helped lesson some of the post-long run on trails recovery time, but also overdoing it can effect the weekend outings. I think my biggest mistakes over this time have been running on an injury that SEEMS to have healed but really needs at least another month. I'm wary of signing up for races now that are more than a month away if there is something hanging around.
Touching on your mention of squats, one thing I have done that has paid back in a big way is incorporating Plyometrics into my training. I do a one hour Plyo workout every week, all bodyweight exercises with lunges, jumps, squats, etc. It really builds up the explosive power in the legs and strengthens the core as well as building cardiovascular strength.
You are also right about injuries, if you think you are all healed wait one more week just to be sure if you can. We tend to be driven Type A personalities who don't like to slow down to recover but all the advancements come during the rest periods.
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