Saturday, March 31, 2012

CRUNCH TIME: 4 weeks to Eugene / Review on Brooks Ghost 4 shoes

Training stuff
Since returning to running after the second hiatus/knee mystery, I have been able to get in a 20 miler and two solid threshold-paced runs. Running is going well, though at a reduced mileage from where I had planned to be when I started this training cycle. From Friday the 23rd to the following Thursday, I managed 63 miles.

My legs are getting stronger with each faster or longer run I do, but they are certainly begging me for recovery between those runs! I have been unconcerned with my pace on these easy runs, and just focus on keeping my heart rate at less than 80% of max. I don't measure my progress as a runner by my easy pace. What matters are the races!

"Plan B" progresses

I am trying to structure my remaining two 20 milers about 10 days apart, with a medium-long run and 2 faster days in between. This is all a "grand experiment". I have no idea whether the speed days will be T pace, MP or 5k pace.  My knee feels like it is at about 90%. I still have lots of questions about that, and what is "safe" , yet challenging enough to regain lost fitness before it's time to shorten all my runs.

My biggest question for the next 4 weeks is whether to run marathon pace in my long runs or try to work it into different workouts. I am grateful that that is my biggest question- not whether I will try to race or not. Lord willing, it might stay that way!

What are your thoughts about marathon paced training? Do you train at MP for your long runs or other workouts?

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Ghost 4 review 

I started wearing the Brooks Ghost 4 after my pair of Ghost 3's saw their last run- in August 2011. Now I've been through several pairs and a review is overdue!

Brooks says: 
"Now friendlier than ever, this super-balanced wonder is at the heart of our Neutral collection, making it the "go-to" shoe for a plethora of runners. Now with Brooks® DNA, the new and improved Ghost 4 adds customized cushioning to its already generous comfort arsenal, plus Omega flex grooves for extra flexibility."

I say:
This gem of a distance shoe has been overshadowed by the snappy new Brooks Pure Line.

These are my standard shoe. I would wear them for every run if I didn't know that there were shoes designed for races and speed work! At 9.3 oz and $100, they are heavier than my speed shoes, but still lighter than other "heavy trainers" on the market (adidas Adistar Ride- 10.2 oz, $145).

Like all Brooks shoes (excluding the Pure line, which are all 4mm), these have a 12mm heel-toe offset. I find the toe box roomy enough, but these are also available in widths.

Pro:
  • One problem I have had with some shoes is that the part under the ankle can sometimes be too high, causing a rub. Not in these! 
  • Truly, I feel like there is enough flexibility that I usually use them for tempo (threshold!) runs and sometimes for speed drills. I will most likely wear them for my marathon in April.
  •  Another thing I love about these is that I can get 400-500 miles between replacements. (With other shoes, I have had the rubber outsole wear off after 200 miles or less.) 
I still have a pair this color (my favorite) in rotation, so I decided to try a pink pair.
Con:
  • I have high arches and might try adding an arch support to these, but I believe most will find the arch support adequate.
Note: Brooks states in their shoe advisor to order a size larger than your usual shoe. 

Although I am truly grateful to be sponsored by Brooks, I am not asked or required to review their products.

59 comments:

  1. Nice review on the Ghosts. I love my Ghosts for easy runs. They feel a bit heavy when I am doing tempo or more speedy stuff. They do seem to last longer than my other shoes. A pair of Launches are worn down in no time. :) So excited that you're feeling good and on track Raina. I want to see you have such a great race. And your workouts are right on. Your threshold workout last week was a sure sign that you haven't lost much. I've had a few longer runs at marathon pace this time around and I think it is definitely helpful. I'd like to see more of it in these last weeks as I see in the Run Faster Plan. Thanks again for your support and encouragement friend. I've learned so much from you.

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    1. Thanks Amanda. Do remember, you are following a specific plan and doing VERY well at it. I don't think you are missing ANYTHING. !!!! You will be ready to RACE on Patriot's day! :) BELIEVE IT.

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    2. Good luck at Eugene. I am so BUMMED I won't be there. Next year!

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  2. Cool! Eugene is the same day is Big Sur!!! Stay tough through the final push and enjoy your taper (I know I will)!

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    1. YES! Same day. Too bad! I am sure some people were hoping to do BOTH (Not me).

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  3. The Ghosts keep getting better and better with each upgrade. I can't help but think that this year's edition is the most attractive yet (I know we're not supposed to judge running shoes that way;)).

    When I first saw the training log shot, it looks like mountains! Regardless of the injury, you've banked some serious miles and time. That should serve you well in Eugene!

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    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I like the graph to see the overall, it's just VERY hard to judge by the graph. I think my legs have largely forgotten everything before about 3/7.

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  4. p.s. your pic up top is adorable-you must have some awesome friends!

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    1. Thanks Adrienne! There's a story behind that picture I will have to share in a future post.

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  5. Something happened to Nicole in the middle of that comment, LOL.

    I've watched your training since you came back and it is easy for me to see how well you structured your comeback and also how quickly you are getting back to where you were between the little knee bump. I heard about the 10 day training cycle -I think it is smart to do it right now Raina, given that your body needs a bit more rest. And you know how I feel about easy runs/recovery runs. I slug along, ha!

    MP runs. I truly believe that the last month before a marathon should host tons of MP runs. I think all the track workouts and even extended time at HM pace should be replaced by MP runs. You want to lock yourself into that pace and really feel it. Specificity is the name of the game here. I would finish the long runs at MP (if you can run a 20 miler 10 miles easy, 10 at MP that would be super) and also do at least another 10-15 miles @ MP. This is for me the ideal situation, so obviously you want to make sure if fits with you and the knee likes it. LOL. have you thought about going on Facebook at Endurance Planet and leaving a question for Tim, to get a coach's perspective?

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    1. AM Thanks! I always love your training ideas! I will look for Tim on FB :)
      Hoping Nicole will be back?! LOL

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  6. oh thats the one thing about brooks, the no high arch support. I had to put in orthodics too. But a good shoe indeed! keep up the rest, training, strength, etc!

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    1. Thanks Lindsay! I can feel more arch in these shoes than others, I just think my R foot is SUPER high. So it's me- not the shoes so much. I probably need some arch support in any regular trainer.

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  7. I love your training graph. It looks like you came back fairly quickly with good success. Just be careful on the fast stuff until your knee is 100%.

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    1. Thanks Mike. I KNOW! The fast stuff is my concern, really. SO much to weigh out. So far, it still hasn't exploded though!

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  8. Morning sunshine! Thanks for the Ghost review!!! 400-500 miles. I could NEVER get that out of a pair of Launches! I am actually moving into the Ghost right now to try for a bit. I have no real plans for speedwork anytime soon so they may get a lot of use if they work out for me!

    Raina, one thing about you is there is never any doubt that you have put a great deal of thought and research into the reasoning behind your training. You've coached yourself to some amazing races this year and made some amazing progress and therefore I really do think you have a pretty good grasp on what is going to work for you from here on out!!!! I think the 10 day cycle was a good plan for you! I agree with AM about the specificity in the last month of training. At least in my experience. Even prior to using Run Faster, I did a lot of running near marathon pace at the end of my 3 good training cycles, some worked into daily workouts and in progressive long runs to MP or a little under and they did wonders for my marathon confidence. Physiologically, good benefit in preparing for race day as well. Best of luck to your with your decisions Raina! I'm confident you will make the right ones for you and I'm super excited to have you to cheer for in 4 weeks!!! Could not be happier to see your knee cooperating and that you WILL be running the race!!!!!!

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    1. Afternoon sunshine!!
      Boy have I got you fooled! You think I research this stuff? :)

      You can be sure I am weighing out EVERY word you put down regarding your experience with MP, Jenn.

      Hope those shoes work out for you..I know it's quite a change from the Launch. Time for you to start tearing up the gravel!!

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  9. In my opinion, even if you had to reduce the mileage, you are doing a very good training.
    I have never had a pair of Brooks. I don't know why, but this is.
    I ran only 3 marathons but most of my workouts were at the marathon pace.

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  10. LOVE, LOVE your new pic up on top...now I can put better together a face with a name!!!

    so glad to hear your knee is feeling better, and your mood has lightened... I think your mindset and training are right on track, it is working for you most importantly...and I am sure that you will continue to impress yourself and us along the way ;)

    4 weeks will be here in no time...hugs ;)

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    1. :) Thanks!! I am taking that HUG and running with it. :)

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  11. I think MP runs are great prep for getting comfortable with what MP feels like. So glad you've been able to run so many miles lately!

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    1. Thanks Tina- I appreciate your input!

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  12. Love the new header! Sounds like you're being really smart. I have no problem with easy runs either, especially when something is a little cranky. :) If I'm feeling strong, I do try to get some of the long run miles at MP, but if anything is giving twinges of pain, I don't risk it. You're so close!

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  13. The header is so much fun! I've love one of those shirts for your Eugene race :).

    I have to hand it to you, girl....you are so sensible about your training and injuries and getting back on the road. I admire your tenacity and think you are right on plan to have a very successful race in Eugene. There is no one right answer out there as far as training goes; you just have to have faith in your body and do what feels best. If MP pace runs are calling to you, then you should definitely implement some into your training. I'm not a HUGE fan of MP race runs for a long time. I may incorporate them into a long run in 5-6 mile increments, giving myself a break of a couple miles between sets. It just isn't as taxing on the body and you recover easier. But then again, you aren't as old as dirt as I am! :)

    Keep being strong!!!!

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    1. Jill- you give some fantastic advice here. Something I weighed out and had in my mind as a possible strategy.
      If you come to Eugene, I bet I could get you a shirt like that! Those are probably at goodwill now. haha.

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  14. I was really excited about the Ghosts when i bought them in December..but I only lasted 2 runs in them and had to return them. I could feel pressure run right down the middle of my feeet in them:( sad for me.

    Marathon paced runs....hmmmm...well....having done them last year for training and it ending in astress fracture i don't like them. FOR ME. I think they are too hard on my body. right now I am just sticking with the mentality that up until recent years, professional runners never did them and they did fine.....this helps me not get worried that I SHOULD be doing them. I think with another year under my belt of running I will consider adding 1 or 2 into marathon training again, but for now..I need to get stronger first.

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    1. Nicole- you make a VERY good point here as well. It is certainly true that they are taxing, and that the Elites really have not used them much until recent years- and still ran great marathons.
      And- You are definitely getting stronger!!

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  15. I liked the Ghost 4 except my soles wore down completely in about 200 miles. Maybe I am running funnily, but they were comfortable.

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    1. I'm not sure if you run funny or not, Rena! You will have to post a video for us to see!! :D

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  16. Back when I was shopping for new running shoes, I was debating between the New Balance 890 and the Brooks Ghost. I decided to go with the 890, just felt a little bit more stable to me. Brooks Ghost felt just a tad soft for me. But when I go shoe shopping again, I might try to go with a lower heel drop shoe like the Brooks Pure line or Kinvara. We'll see what the shoe people tell me.

    Hope training for Eugene goes well despite the injuries you've been having.

    And the blog header is great, don't think I've seen it before!

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    1. I am interested to see what the shoe people tell you too, Nelly! It also might be worth a call/online chat to Brooks. (see their website for chat). I got a lot of great info recently over the phone from them.

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  17. 1 - great new header!
    2 - Your numbers look great
    3 - Speed will not be your concern; the past is the best predictor for the future
    4 - Good review on the shoes
    5 - Looking forward to the post scripts, you once posted, to return :)
    6 - I am betting that this race will be much better than you think!

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    1. Thanks C2! Working on the faith notes part. This is a great week for it. :)

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  18. Yes, I like you're new header too!! I am so glad your knee is at 90% now and you are still on plan to race Eugene. You are almost there!!

    Nice review on the Brooks Ghost. Would it be safe to say these are your favorite running shoes? What do you race in? Just curious. So far I love my new Brooks but i lean towards liking the Launches more than the Pure Flow. It's only been a week though so we'll see. :-)

    I hope your last big 20's go well. Keep us posted!

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    1. Have you worn Brooks Launch or Pure Flow? If so, how do they compare to the Ghost?

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    2. Tia, I find that the ghosts feel a bit roomier in the toe box than the launches, and I notice that though they are on the same offset, the launches feel like they are lower. I think it has to do with the heel shape. I haven't done a test run on the pure flows yet- too afraid to do that until after Eugene.

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    3. And yes! (oops forgot) The Ghost 4s are my favorite shoe- so far. :) For a shorter race 5k to HM I will use the Launches, but now that I have the Pure Flows I might switch to those. Need to test them first :)

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  19. My fingers are crossed that your knee stays healthy. You are being so smart about your training. I like the focus on heart rate for your easy runs--that's something I was planning to work with this spring until I got derailed from running. I'm definitely watching my HR on my bike rides, but I'm not sure how it will translate to the various kinds of training runs when I'm back.

    I'm excited for Eugene for you!

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    1. Thanks Terzah! Hope you are back on the road soon! HR is a good tool. I am shooting for 80 % max or under for recovery runs.

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  20. I have done exactly that: added an arch support and I am loving my Ghosts!
    Typically as the cycle nears taper, I do more of my runs at MP.
    So excited for you! :)

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    1. Hm..totally curious..do you use custom orthotics or something else?

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  21. Hmmmm, two 20 milers 10 days apart with a medium long run and two faster runs in between seems aggressive to me. Of course, everyone is different, but I find my risk of injury increases when I run a 20 miler and then run a speed workout too soon afterwards. It also really depends on how you run those 20 milers and what the speed workouts are...perhaps you could run the first 20 miler very easy (allowing for easier recovery), run the majority of the medium long run at MP, do the two faster runs, then run the first 14 miles of last 20 easy with the last 6 at MP. Just a thought...

    It's so great to hear that your knee is doing better and you'll be able to run your marathon!

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    1. Well, yes. It is aggressive Katie. About as aggressive as I think I can get away with. I feel like i lost a big chunk of my "peak" training time and hope that if I can balance the longer runs with some real recovery runs or days off, I might actually do better. Hoping the 10 days between will allow for enough recovery. We shall see, I guess.

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  22. I too like the new header! You look ready for Eugene! Glad to hear you are going to be able to run the marathon.
    I have never run a 20 miler at Marathon Goal Pace. I'm too afraid I'll injure myself or be too worn out to run my weekly speed workouts. I'm curious about what you decide to do and how it works out for you.

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    1. You pose a good point about the speed work. I hope that my little 10 day plan will help with that...maybe...:)

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  23. So glad to hear that training is going well again for you! I, for one, can't wait to read the Eugene recap. You are going to have an awesome race!! :)

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    1. Thanks Jen! I hope you are right!

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  24. I have no good marathon advice, but I wanted to lend my good luck to your knee's continued good behavior. I'm excited to hear how the remainder of training goes for you!

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  25. I like your plan. I needed to do more 20 milers for my marathon but I didn't and paid the price. I also like that you are not so concerned about pace during training runs, but try to maintain a 80% HR.

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    1. Thanks Kepa! Yeah- I think it helps to have plenty of long runs- within reason and depending on how much time you have. I do pay great attention to pace in certain workouts- but the HR is very important to the recovery aspects. I am starting to lean more on it.

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  26. ackk....I think my heel trouble is the start of a Plantar Fasciitis problem. Track w/o was ok for first 2+ miles last night and then I had to call it quits. I'm heading to the store for new shoes today and I'm going to start icing/stretching in hopes I've caught it early. I'm determined to see you at the end of the month!

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    1. I hope you find the right trick Julie! You NEED to be there!! Take care of that foot.

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