The snowdrifts are melting and a new pair of kicks arrived in the mail this weekend. This can mean only one thing: spring running is just around the corner. I took a rare mid-day run today in my new Saucony Virrata shoes and couldn’t help but look forward to next season’s race schedule. Let’s talk shoes first.
There are a few things I consider when slipping into a new pair of running shoes:
- Initial fit: Do they feel too big, too small, or just right? I find that trying shoes on after a run, or at the end of the day, helps ensure a good fit. Oh, and what works for one type of shoe, or even brand of shoe, may not work for another. I wear a size 6.5 or 7 in heels and a 7.5 or 8 in running shoes. Who knows.
- Comfort: After taking a few strides, does anything feel pinched, constricted, or otherwise unpleasant?
- Need to modify: Sometimes all a pair of shoes needs is a few simple modifications – a pair of inserts (I love OrthoLite for this), a different knot, or some other easy DIY fix. I got a particularly weird blister when training for the 2011 ING New York City Marathon before realizing the culprit was the tag on the underside of the tongue. One scissor snip later, all was well in the world. Sort of.
- Potential for socklessness: Call me crazy, but I hate wearing socks when running. I mostly just hate wearing socks in general. Unless they’re compression socks, and I am on the sofa eating a post-workout bowl of ice cream. Real talk.
I used to be so obsessed with cushioning (stress fractures will do that to a girl) that all of my shoes looked like ugly robot feet. (You’ll notice appearance does not make it to my “what to consider” list. Good looks don’t hurt, but they don’t make you faster. At least I don’t think they do… But for the record, these are some good lookin’ shoes.) After working on building overall strength and flexibility (thank you, CrossFit), I find I now favor a less is more approach.
I was so excited to take the Virratas, generously sent to me by Saucony, for a test run this week. The Virrata is their most lightweight (the women’s shoe weighs only 6 oz.) and flexible training shoe and was built on a zero millimeter offset to promote a more natural stride. Despite the minimalist design, I still felt perfectly cushioned and protected. The HydraMAX lining was designed to wick away moisture and ensures that I am completely comfortable going sock-less. The lacing pattern made the upper feel extra snug around my narrow feet, which I love. I’d say this pair is a keeper, and will definitely be my go to for spring races.
Spring race recommendations in and around Boston
March 17: Boys and Girls Club of South Boston 5k
Where else would you be on St. Patrick’s Day but South Boston? This is one of my favorite races of the year (a great alternative to the often over-crowded Ras in Somerville) and supports a fantastic neighborhood cause. The race begins at 11 AM, which gives you plenty of time to change and grab a gluten free adult beverage before the parade. The course covers my favorite hills on Broadway and features a turn around at the beach. The race itself is very well organized and staffed, and there are plenty of kids on hand (including the club’s band) to remind you of all the good being done by local Boys and Girls Clubs.
March 30: Feed the Need 5k, Hingham
I’ve run this race for the past three or four years and love the wooded location. This is a small, friendly race that loops through Wompatuck State Forest. Entry fees can be paid with cash money or canned goods, which are donated to local food pantries.
April 20: Colleen Kelly 5k, Melrose
This 5k run/walk is being held to celebrate the life of Colleen Kelly, a Framingham State student from Melrose who was killed in a tragic accident in December. Her family and friends established the Colleen Kelly 5k to raise money to fund a permanent scholarship in her name at Melrose High. I am grateful to Colleen’s sister Caitlin, and her friend Alison, for reaching out to me about this event. I hope you’ll join me in marking this race on your calendar.
Also On Tap for Today:
- Officially changing my name – woooo!
- Love this: Breaking a running record at 97
- Trying to prevent food waste
Which races are you most looking forward to? And what are your shoe “must haves”?