After CIM I took the time off I'd promised myself.
For the first couple of days that was easy, but once the stiffness had gone it was a lot harder to hold myself back. Still - after a week without running I was a little disappointed to feel some residual pain in my left knee. I booked another physiotherapy appointment to find out what was going on.
A few days before I had the PT visit I found myself in Boulder. It's only a 30 minute drive from our house and I'd read about the Newton Running lab there. If you haven't heard about Newton - it's a relatively new (couple of years) old shoe company who believe landing on your midfoot/forefoot is the most natural way to run, as well as being the fastest and most efficient way to run. They design shoes to try to achieve that, as well as recommending you change your running style to shorter strides, concentrating on landing on the mid-foot. Very much like Chi-running. I'd read reviews in a couple of places with some people saying that they'd been injury plagued before switching to their newtons.
The shoes aren't cheap, so my intention was just to check the place out. When I got there I found myself being fitted by Danny Abshire, the co-founder of the company and designer of the shoes. Pretty cool. Danny showed me how to run in them, and helped change an insole I'd brought with me to add extra support. I can get a 15% discount through runners roost, and when I mentioned that to him - he said they'd match that. So I walked out with my Christmas presents...
But I didn't run in them. The plan was still to take December off and I had the PT appointment coming up. When I saw the doctor he suggested a few new exercises - trying to give additional motion to my left hip which was tight, and some calf stretches too. I mentioned the time I was taking off, expecting to be congratulated, and got the opposite reaction. He told me to get back to it straight away, reasoning that if I wasn't running, I couldn't be providing feedback on the new exercises.
Twist my arm doc. The next day, after 10 days off, I was back at it. I ran 6 slow miles in the newtons. They were definitely different. I'm naturally a heal striker so I had to really concentrate on my form and kept catching myself slipping back to old habits. The next day when I woke up - no knee pain at all. That was a little bit of a shocker. I hadn't had that happen for a couple of months. I decided to push things a little more. I ran 8 miles both the next two days. Again - no pain. I took a day off, and then ran 13 one day and 8 the next. No pain. Amazing. I'm sure it was partly the exercises, but the shoes and changing styles was likely the biggest contributor.
This was partly proven out today - Christmas Eve. We had a snow storm come through yesterday dropping 8 inches. Knowing that I'll not run so much on Christmas day, I very much wanted to get 10 miles in. 10 miles on the treadmill is my vision of hell, so with some suggestions from the RW boards I took the kayanos that I'd been running in recently and screwed in 20 x 3/8th inch sheet metal screws to each. They worked great. They gave me the grip I needed to run on the compacted snow.
Literally half a mile in I could feel my left knee again. I was still trying to maintain the mid-foot form, and the pain went away a little, but after 6 miles it was definitely back. Rather than risk damage, I came home, switched to my newtons and ran the rest of the miles on the treadmill. No pain. So definitely the shoes help - I'd had the kayanos fitted at a running store using the slo-mo video so know that my form in them was good, albeit as a heal striker. Still - this was all the proof I needed. From now on - I'm a newton guy. Great shoes, and a local company to boot. I've still not completely got used to the style. I find myself regressing back - at least to the longer strides. It's going to take several months before I do it naturally.
I've spent the last few days getting my running plan together for Boston. I'm going to use the Pfitzinger 55-70 mile plan. After the rave reviews from my friends on the RW forums, I figured I owed it to myself to train the right way for once. I realized I didn't have the recent mileage to jump straight into a 70 mile / week program, so have adjusted it slightly - starting off with the 50 mile plan for the first few weeks and then merging them together. I've run 53 miles in the past 8 days so am pretty much on track. The 'official' start date I've set myself is next Monday. That will be 16 weeks until Boston. With the help of the newtons and chi running I'm hoping I can get through this cycle healthy !