Product Review: Shoekicker.com

The opportunity to try out Shoekicker.com before it launches for everyone in September came through my real life friend Katie, who runs the incredible foodie blog 24 Carrot Life. Dave from Shoekicker reached out to her for a review and although she runs most days, she thought I would be a better person to try the site and I was psyched for the opportunity.**

Basically, Shoekicker is the “Kayak” of running shoes and is intended to comb the web for the best price on particular shoe models. Founders Imran Khoja and Dave Jordan (sorry Dave, but you have to take credit for great things!) have an impressive algorithm that scans the web constantly, looking for the desired model and size of shoe. Although we all have the ability to do this (I regularly use 6pm.com), the upside of Shoekicker is the ease of finding your shoe model WITH the size you need still in stock.

When I tried it, I looked for one of my go-to shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5. When you input your size and shoe model, you get the following results:

Shoekicker Example

$56 dollars for a pair of Kinvara 5 is an excellent deal and I didn’t have to spend time searching all the various bargain sites on the web to figure out where my best deal was. The fact that I didn’t know Amazon had running shoes is another issue entirely…

The only negative feedback that I gave to Dave was that some shoe brands (Skechers and Salomon, for example) and shoe models (Saucony Fasttwitch) aren’t currently available on the site. However, as Shoekicker gets up and running, these brands will eventually be added. Overall, the big names of Brooks, Asics, Saucony, and Nike as well as up and coming brands like Hoka and Altra are all available so most people should be able to find their favorite shoes.

Who is Shoekicker good for? Runners who already know what shoe models and sizes work for them and who aren’t picky about particular colors. If you are new to running, looking to make a shoe change or coming back from an injury, it is still best to hit up your local running store for their expertise.

Try Shoekicker.com out and let me know what you think!

Thanks to Dave for sending me the Beta site.

**I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

Week in Review 8.17.15 to 8.23.15

Feeling a bit like I cannot catch a break! Had an awesome early week of getting up at 4:30 and getting my runs in only to wake up sick as a dog on Friday heading into our training camp. Will assures me it’s not the end of the world but I’m too full of snot and sore from coughing to totally believe him.

Monday: 6.5 miles early.

Tuesday: 8.65 early with Chris and Carl on the bike path. Epic humidity.

Wednesday: 10 miles with 2 by (3 min, 2 min, 1 min hard). Dewpoint of 70 = wheezing during my run. In hindsight, perhaps the beginning of my sinus infection/cold.

Thursday: 7 mile recovery run.

Friday: No voice and swollen sore throat. Decided to push my long run “a day” in hopes that I would feel better with more sleep. 5.2 miles easy.

Saturday am: No such luck on feeling better. 3.5 miles of hilly, rocky terrain when we arrived at Windridge.

Saturday afternoon: 5 miles of speed training courtesy of cross country lacrosse.

Sunday am: 5 miles with the team with 6 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Totally knocked down by my cold. Legs after the workout.

Sunday pm: 2 mile run with Joe before drills. 15 minutes of aquajogging cut short by a bee sting in the pool. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Spent the rest of the night absolutely miserable between the cold and an allergic reaction.

Total Miles: 53

Obviously the end of this week was anything but optimal. My big job right now is to get healthy so that I can attack Phase 3 next week. The good news is that my schedule is now wide open for running and that as soon as I stop coughing, wheezing and generally feeling horrible, there’s nothing in the way of training. It is certainly hard to keep the faith right now, however, so I’m definitely getting plenty of practice with my positive self talk!!

Weeks in Review 8.3.15 to 8.16.15

I made it!! The last two weeks haven’t been pretty but I did the best I could to keep myself running through a crazy schedule and total exhaustion. I took faith in Will’s assurance that it doesn’t matter what tips the work-recovery balance and am just hoping I’m in a good position as I start the bulk of this training cycle.

8/3: 8.5 mile recovery run

8/4: 10.1 mile speed workout. 3 by (400, 300, 200). Focused on cadence and form. Legs afterward. First night shift after this.

8/5: 7 mile recovery run.

8/6: 8.5 mile run on Spear Street.

8/7: Completely and utterly wiped out. Worked til 9:30, slept until 3 then back in for 5 pm. Brutal.

8/8: Opted out of long run and went to the track for 6 by 200 to give my legs the best stimulus possible on almost no sleep. Flipped to days over this weekend.

8/9: 8.5 mile run after my first day shift.

8/10: Gave up on trying to get normal training volume and just got out for a 6 mile jog after my shift.

8/11: Off day, prorated to 8.5. So tired, I started feeling perpetually dizzy.

8/12: 4.5 miles after my last day of OBGyn.

8/13: 10.6 mile fartlek. 5 to 1 fartlek. Still exhausted but amazing what a full night’s sleep can do. Also the best day ever because cross country is back!!!

8/14: Absolutely brutal 15 miler. It kept getting oppressively humid then pouring rain, followed by more sun and oppressive humidity and then rain. Thought about quitting >15 times.

8/15: 5 easy miles on the Causeway with Emmy and KC. Arms afterward.

8/16: Finally feeling human and like a runner again. 10 miles with 6 by 45 second hills in very hot weather. Legs afterward.

Ended up with 50 miles for 8/3 to 8/9 and 60 miles for 8/10 to 8/16. Not optimal but not a disaster either. I’m still on Bridge this week but will have markedly more time for training, so looking forward to some solid mileage weeks ahead!

I did learn that going forward, I cannot expect to run after a 13 to 14 hour day on my feet. Nights were actually perfect for me; I’d come home and collapse into bed then wake up at 2:30 and get my run in on rested legs. Going forward when I’m on days, I’ll need to plan to get my runs in early morning, even if that means getting up at 3 am.

Doubt Versus Faith

The last few weeks haven’t been the best in recent memory. Some of that is the weather; it’s hard to have any faith when you feel like you’re melting into the sidewalk. Weather doesn’t tend to rattle me for long though: almost everyone is dealing with it and it always gives way to training perfection by mid-September.

What IS rattling me is this creeping sense that things just aren’t going to pull together for me this year. The logical side of my brain tells me that it’s way too early to tell anything but the emotional part nags that I’m behind past years and certainly behind the markers that would predict the run I’m seeking in Philly. There are a few recent moments contributing heavily to that sense of doubt. The first is the Montpelier Mile. In a vacuum, it was a totally acceptable race run off very little specific training at peak mileage but I am struggling to let go of the fact that I a) missed my (arbitrary) time goal and b) got outstepped at the line. Since then, I’ve felt…deflated. Not long after the Mile, I had a horrible training week where running was painful and slow and my legs felt like they were filled with concrete. I slogged through my miles and ended up in tears after almost every run. My recent adaptation week helped me to feel better but as soon as I did, the heat settled in and all of my workouts have been effort rather than pace based. Even though I understand that effort is the way to go, it’s extremely hard to work at interval effort that turns out to be usual tempo pace (or slower). All of this is compounded by the fact that I went out on a huge, terrifying limb and took time off school to train and feel like I might be the world’s biggest failure if I don’t get a huge PR out of the effort.

Teetertotterfinished

There are plenty of factors that can explain my funk, both actual and perceived. I’m barely sleeping courtesy of third year and when I do sleep, I need to recover both from my workouts and from standing all day. I’m in a constant state of flux (the curse of third year: you’re always new somewhere and almost always in the way) and because everything is so new and unfamiliar, prone to microbursts of adrenaline every time a new situation crops up. Even my nutrition is suffering. The past two weeks on clinic were better because lunch breaks were built in but on other services, it’s “grab what you can, eat when you can” which is the enemy of effective fueling.

One of Will’s philosophies is that the process is the goal. That is, it’s more important to build day by day and week by week than to be hyperfocused on only the final goal. Self-doubt is diametrically opposed to the idea of process as the goal. Doubt is fixated on the end goal only. Trusting the process requires enormous faith in self and faith in coach. And the training sweet spot is somewhere right between the two, where you have enough doubt to stay hungry and humble and enough faith to persevere through a training cycle.

Since I started thinking about this post two weeks ago, I’ve actually made some progress towards the middle of the doubt/faith teeter totter. I’ve slowed down my non-workout runs to try to spare my legs, adjusted my expectations significantly before heading out for workouts and am trying to be more honest and open about my feelings of doubt, rather than bottling them up to manage on my own.

How do you ward off self-doubt? Which side of the teeter totter do you naturally fall on?

Week in Review 7.27.15 to 8.2.15

The actual temperature for most of this week...

The actual temperature for most of this week…

Monday: Arms in the morning before clinic. 7.5 at night with Erin. Feeling pretty banged up post-Mansfield.

Tuesday: Temps in the 90s so I took my off day, prorated to 8.5.

Wednesday: Still ridiculously humid with a 72 degree dewpoint. 10.2 miles with 8 by 30 seconds hard uphill.

Thursday: 8 hot recovery miles.

Friday: 9.1 miles with arms after.

Saturday: 10 miles with 4 to 1 fartlek. 4 min at T pace (6:21), 3 min recovery, 3 min at T+ (6:05), 2 min recovery, 2 min at I pace (5:47), 1 min recovery, 1 min hard (5:35), 1 min recovery, 1 min hard (5:27). Not as fast as I would like but have to be happy with it in the heat.

Sunday: 15 miles through Richmond. Hip core after.

Total Miles: 68.3

Total Miles for July: 277 miles with 3 off days.

It’s not easy but I’m pressing on with running despite oppressive heat and lack of sleep. I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to three weeks from now when all I have to do is train but I’m surviving and for that, I’m extremely grateful.

Not sure how the next two weeks will go as I start nights on L&D (6 pm to 6 am) but aiming for two more full mileage weeks as I wrap up this clerkship then an adaptation week while I’m on bridge and then the big time training begins!

 

Week in Review 7.20.15 to 7.26.15

Time is flying towards Philly! Somehow I only have a week of clinic and two weeks of L&D until I’m “off” til November. It’s both exciting to think about training full time and terrifying to feel like I’m not in the best shape I could be going into that focused period.

Monday: 7.1 in 87 degrees.

Tuesday: 8.5 at 4:30 am. 2 by (3, 2, 1 minute with equal recovery).

Wednesday: 6 miles at recovery pace.

Thursday: 8.5 miles with Annie. Slowed it down a bit and felt much better.

Friday: 6.2 miles and arms afterward. Starting to feel better.

Saturday: 8.2 mile Progression Run. First three miles of progression felt great; really easy. Last mile was awful.

Sunday: 12 mile run up Mount Mansfield. Yup, 925 feet to 2760 in 3.5 miles. Felt amazing going up. Coming down was a little rough on the quads.

Does this count as altitude?

Does this count as altitude?

Total Miles: 57

This adaptation week was needed both physically and mentally. With a little more focus on food (eating enough of it, on a regular schedule), only running in my GoRuns (can’t explain why my Kinvara and Hoka are killing me) and slowing my pace down, my legs have really calmed down. The weather is becoming a major factor with dew points well into the 70s but it’s a little easier to be patient for progress when no one feels good. Climbing up Mansfield was also a great bonus workout; hard enough to get my heart rate up but (hopefully) not so hard that I ruined my legs for the week.

Back to normal mileage this week. I flip to L&D nights next week so my schedule will be more of a 10 day structure but I’m just working on being grateful for every hour that I get to run!

Week in Review 7.13.15 to 7.19.15

Monday: 6.23 mile run with horrible OR legs.

Tuesday: Last case didn’t roll out of PreOp until 6:30 pm so no run for me.

Wednesday: 11 miles with 6 by 30 seconds hard up Depot Street. Legs pretty dead but felt smooth during the hills.

Thursday: 8.5 run just slogging along.

Friday: Fit 9 in and ran into Amy which made it much more enjoyable. Striders in the last mile.

Saturday: 7.5 mile speed workout. Another day with a dewpoint of 70. 6 by 400 on the track. Dying with the heat!

Sunday: Quite the weather potpourri run; thunderstorms and rain for the first hour, then opened up to sun for the second hour. 15 miles, grateful for Erin’s company for all but the last bit. Full body lift after.

Total Miles 65.3

Not going to lie, this week was not the best. My schedule was pretty crushing and I was just in low-grade pain all week. Hoping it’s just fatigue from this new rotation but making plans to get my hemoglobin checked regardless. Heading into an adaptation week next week and will assess from there.

On Anorexia Athletica

As everyone who regularly reads this blog knows, coaching is a central part of my life and I spend a lot of time learning as much as I can about both the physical and emotional elements of effective coaching. Will is similarly interested in coaching and has spent an enormous amount of time researching anorexia athletica, an increasingly common condition that is unfamiliar to many coaches and athletes. Unlike anorexia nervosa where a person’s body habitus usually gives away the condition, anorexia athletica is far more insidious and subtle. In fact, an athlete suffering from anorexia athletica may have what looks to be a “perfect athlete’s body.” I’ve become increasingly concerned about anorexia athletica as a number of popular bloggers have normalized obsessions with excessive exercise and “clean eating” and mainstream running magazines have run multiple articles on how to eat clean, weight loss for performance and “strong as the new skinny.”

Will recently made a training video for coaches and athletes on anorexia athletica (I’m just the narrator) and I think he did an incredible job of fitting in all the key elements including recognition of AA, performance impacts of AA and how to get help for an athlete about whom you are concerned.

Week in Review 7.6.15 to 7.12.15

It seems like I just wrote my Week in Review for last week, but apparently another week has passed! I lived through one week on Gyn Surgery and managed to get my runs in. They weren’t pretty, but they happened. Since not everyone goes to medical school, I thought for this week I would include the other bit of my schedule to give a more “full circle” view of my not-so-glamorous life.

Monday: Orientation from 7:30 til 3:30. 6.9 mile run afterward with Joey then studying/prepping for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday: Orientation from 7 til 2, break to run 9.7 miles in 70 degree dew point with 5 by 300 hard on the track. Incredibly miserable run. There was sweat pouring into my eyes and I wasn’t sure I could move. Then back to school from 6 to 8 for pelvic boot camp. It was what it sounded like…

Wednesday: Up at 4:30 am to prep for the day. 5 cases for the day, so I stood for 12.5 hours in the OR. Home at 6:30 and since my legs were throbbing, decided to take my scheduled rest day (prorated 7) for the week. Prepped until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

Thursday: Up at 5 but only 3 cases today. 8.8 recovery miles afterward. SORE/ACHY.

Friday: Up early but no scheduled cases. Studied in the library with my legs up until we were released at 1. Napped, went to Burlington Beer Company with my best friend and her husband who were passing through then ran 8 miles home from there. Gotta do what you gotta do.

Saturday: 10 miles with 4 by 5 minutes at T pace (170 HR) on the Causeway and a lovely lake soak afterward. Legs at night.

See the trees on the horizon to the left? That's the incredible Causeway.

See the trees on the horizon to the left? That’s the incredible Causeway.

Sunday am: 15 mile with Annie absolutely dying in the heat, even at 8 am.

Sunday pm: 5 miles with the team. River soak planned!!

Total Miles: 70.4

This week was brutally painful on my legs. I wore compression socks and running shoes and tried to focus on good posture in the OR but am still in just an enormous amount of low grade pain from concrete floors. Just working on being kind to myself and going on effort with the reminder that in 5 weeks, I’m off to focus on training until Philly.

Leftover picture from last week on the Rail Trail. 16 miles of this!!

Leftover picture from last week on the Rail Trail. 16 mile trail, for 32 miles of amazing running if you need it.

Dear Cyclists

We’ve had a bit of a rough summer here in Vermont, with three fatalities already following car versus bike. Two were alcohol related and one was speed related. All have heightened the intensity of conversations about what it really means to share the road. Some people are blaming the cyclists; from what I understand of these three accidents, this is wholly inappropriate. All three were experienced riders, wearing helmets and following traffic laws. All three drivers were incredibly irresponsible and totally out of control of their 3000 pound vehicles.

The impact of all of this is that many of us, both runners and riders, are feeling a little skittish about being on the roads. Last weekend, Will and I talked about going for a bike ride and then decided we just didn’t feel comfortable given the current climate. It was also a topic of conversation in the OR this week; one person stated that she won’t ride anywhere but the bike path now. Another said he’s been riding more, almost in homage to the three riders who passed away.

I am a fervent supporter of safe running, biking and whatever other person powered movement you want to engage in, but with that said, I am also LIVID at some of the behavior I witness as a driver and as a runner. The saying “one bad apple” comes to mind and although I think most of the cyclists in town are fantastic, I have two enormous pet peeves that I just need to get off my chest.

1. The Surpriser. He comes up behind you silently either on the road (why he’s riding against traffic is another issue) or on the bike path and without saying a word either pushes you off into traffic as he passes or scares the life out of you as he blows by. Related to this is the peloton of who come upon you at 40 miles an hour or the person who yells “On Your Right!” If you’re on the bike path, ride a reasonable speed to accommodate all the other people using the path and pass on the left. Passing on the left is such a convention that when I start to hear someone speak, I automatically move to the right. Following this convention keeps everyone safe; I don’t jump in front of oncoming bikes and you don’t hit me as you pass on the right.

2. The “I’m a Car No Now I’m a Pedestrian.” Pick one. You are either operating as a vehicle or as a pedestrian. You cannot invoke the privileges of both as it is most convenient. I see this most often at stop lights and on cross walks. If you are on the sidewalk (which, by the way, is not allowed in Burlington), stop at the Pedestrian Cross, dismount and wait for your turn to cross. If you are on the road, it is 100% not acceptable to blast through the red light that all the other cars had to stop at. I see this at stop signs all the time as well; cars dutifully stop and wait their turn while bikes blast through. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve almost been hit by a bike while running as I cross an intersection when it’s my turn as a bike blows a red light to turn across the cross walk.

We are all responsible for sharing the road and most of us use the road in different ways throughout our week. When we are drivers, we need to be aware, drive the speed limit and give as much space as we can to other users of the road. As cyclists, we need to ride single file, follow traffic signs, wear bright clothing and lights and generally use common sense. As runners, we need to do much the same. Anger over cyclists trickles down; one bad experience as a driver makes it more dangerous for the next cyclist or runner.

Sharing the road is every single person’s responsibility.