Its been a busy week for me since Ironman Switzerland. After a week off with a couple of easy runs on muscle sore legs I had to move apartment the following weekend which was to put it mildly, a very physically and mentally demanding exercise.
Luckily I am off work this week and I have spent most of it recovering, sleeping an average of 11 hours per night and exploring my new gemeinde, Horgen. Located on the southwest of the Zurisee I as you can see below I am living even closer to the Alps which will make the winter even more interesting with the mountains and all the winter sports more accessible than before!
But. Back to business. I have been sponsored by Inov-8 Running for the last few months. I discovered Inov8 while back in Ireland and getting into hill running. I do 90% of my running training on trails. I prefer them for a number of reasons, the obvious one is being closer to nature and away from the hustle and bustle of traffic. I like to explore and I like the adventure that comes with discovering new territory. I also run throughout the winter here and at night too with a headtorch which makes it even more imperative that the shoes I use are ones I can trust which is the journey that brought me here:
But who are Inov-8?
This video should help
Different Strokes for Different Folks – Trust Your Equipment
Different conditions and terrain require different types of running shoes. Some shoes are better on dry rock, some are better on wet rock but useless on wet grass. So Inov-8 recognizing this, have developed a huge range of shoes each serving a different purpose. I am not saying that you should buy a shoe for each type of terrain you might run on, but at least identify what terrain you are most likely to be running on (rock, gravel, fell, grass) and depending on your running style and desired comfort zone, find the shoe that matches here
Sole Quality and Downhilling
Its one thing to be able to run up a hill fast, but a completely other thing to be able to run downhill fast. Watch any of the top trail runners and the speed with which they decend is astonishing. Of course, there is a technique to downhill running which doesnt compromise the health of your knee joints, its a rolling motion and your centre of gravity should be closer to the ground, leaning forward contrary to your instinct telling you to lean backwards.
Another factor in downhill speed, is of course, GRIP. One thing I have noticed in the past about certain brands of x-terrain shoes is the quality of the rubber and how quickly it deteriorates. I found that after 3 months of use with certain other brands of trail shoes, I no longer had grip on downhills and would slip quite a lot (not cool when you have been racing for 15 hours and the last thing you want is to be sliding around like crazy).
Since I have been using Inov-8 I havent had that problem. The rubber seems to maintain its traction and grippiness and I can trust them. In fact, I still have a 3-year-old pair that perform really well on the downhills.
Until now I had been using the Roclite 275 and the Mudlight 330 as I felt as though I needed a stiffer sole with more support for long adventure races and the like. However, in 2010 I really wanted to get rid of the orthotics in my shoes, focus on stretching my calf muscles and try to gain more flexibility and in turn develop a more natural running style with less dependency on gimmics and shoes that promise to do all sorts of things like correct your pronation etc. After reading “Born to Run” and talking to my ultra running friend Eoin Keith, surely the best way forward is developing a running style that is natural? Encouraging strong supportive muscle development and reducing the risk of injury? So after spending some time on exercises and flexibility and research on running style I graduated to the Inov-8 X-Talons
The first time I put the talons on thought “these feel like track shoes, how am I going to run in these on tough terrain?” But it felt so good to have such close contact with the ground.
The knobs on the soles of the shoes are indeed, like talons. Each one separates your foot from what is underneath it like spikes. It is a hard feeling to describe. They are extremely flexible, they don’t offer much in the way of support, but running with them is like running without shoes, however you still feel protected by the little talons underneath your feet, working hard to absorb impact.