I’m a Maximalist

Once more KC has said something in an email missive to me that struck a chord and causes me to think for three days straight until I formulate something in my head I feel is worthy of writing down. Does that ever happen to anyone else but me? You’re having a conversation, or email string, with someone and they write something to you that you’ve never thought of, and then it just sits in your melon until you have to break it open and spill it out all over the computer?
Oh … me neither …
As someone that is heavy (I will wait as this shocking revelation passes … you good? Ok … ) I have many issues when it comes to training (as a side note for KC, this is not using my weight as an excuse, as you will soon see). It is hard to describe to some that have never been heavy just what it feels like to train heavy. There is no such thing as an “easy run”, for example. Running hurts. The only person I have read online that seems to get this is Andrew Weaver (www.DoughBoyToIronman.com). In reading his material (he’s a very good writer so I suggest checking him out) and especially listening to his interviews over at Vinnie Tortorich’s p’cast (www.vinnietortorich.com) he seems to be a kindred spirit. Running hurts. And not the hurt like runners feel, but in actual pain. Personally I have been on the sideline now as far as running goes most of this season. As soon as my Achilles healed on the right side, my left one goes. On top of that I have never finished a long run (i.e. 10+ miles) feeling like I could walk well. My feet always feel “bruised”. I have gone through Chi Running, used long strides and short strides, have used cadence tools, and intervals. It always ends up the same way. The bike has gotten better, but I still have back issues every time around the 35 mile mark. It happened last year in Augusta on a Tri Bike, it happened this year in Ocala on a Road Bike, it happens every long ride every weekend. I do constant planks and core work to improve this but it is still the same. I have a sneak suspicion its due to the gut hanging down and straining the lower back. Again, not an excuse KC, just stating what I think is happening.
I had written in the past the mistake I made is season two as far as nutrition was concerned (it was great to hear Weaver speak about this as well so I know I wasn’t alone). After my first season I was a “triathlete” so I started listening to the advice written and spoken by professionals.
“High Carb!”
”Low Fat!!”
“Carb Load before a big race!!”
“Chocolate Milk for Recovery!!”
This was before discovering NSNG and realizing what a load of crap most of this was, at least in my case. The worst thing is realizing that what some of these pro’s recommend they don’t even use themselves. I saw my races in 2012 get progressively slower and my weight go back to 263 pounds by the end of the season. I am back to 240 pounds this year and through three races have seen some improvement (except for the running).
Another one of the issues these pro’s constantly wax poetic about is the minimalist shoe. Even Danny Dreyer during the clinic I went to used my shoe (Brooks Adrenaline at the time) as an example of the “wrong shoe”.
So, against my better judgment, I listened and tried light shoes.
Two Achilles injuries later here I sit, with three sprints ahead of me and Augusta 70.3 in September looming unable to run even a mile without hobbling.
I know this is frustrating my coach as much as it frustrates me. As a last ditch idea she threw an idea at me to look into a show made by a company called Hoka One One (pronounced own-ee own-ee). I looked at the website (www.hokaoneone.com) and it had decent testimonials but it’s not like they’re going to post bad ones, so I shot a message to Brian Brink at FITniche in Wesley Chapel to see what he thought also, as well as reading an online review by a local runner (Brad Minus at www.irongoof.com) that I know is an honest reviewer. Brian’s store doesn’t carry them but a few others did and he had a personal pair that were my size he let me try. They were definitely different. It has about three inches of cushion but only a 4.5mm drop. I instantly felt no pain walking, and could run a bit (though there was some pain then). I ordered a pair (Jennifer got a pair as well). This is when, though, that little voice starts creeping in telling you that “you’re not a real triathlete unless you wear minimalist shoes … wearing these Frankenstein shoes are almost like cheating”.
Then KC writes me again as a “by the way” part of another topic …
“I just bought a pair of Hoka’s”
Um … what???
I thought all runners swore by the lightest, most minimal shoe out there.
Not in her case. She tells me “I am a maximalist”.
Instantly made me feel better. If someone of her ability prefer running on maximum cushion and support, then it’s OK for me also, right?
So … I have come to grips with being a maximalist. I like my feet not feeling like I am running on bruises. I like my bike to be comfortable and not feel like I have a seat three inches up my ass after 50 miles. Pain, in this definition, does not make you stronger. It makes it so that you don’t want to keep going.
I am not an expert by any means, but if someone asks me my opinion I tell them to find the thing that makes you not hurt. Yes, triathlon is about being uncomfortable most of the time, especially when racing, but you should not be in pain. If you are, fix it, quickly.
Or you’ll be on the sideline waving a sign instead of racing.

9 thoughts on “I’m a Maximalist

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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    I think the Hoka One One company is really onto something with these shoes. They actually sent me a pair to do a product review on before they got into the stores here in Tampa. http://irongoof.com/goof-review-hoka-s2/. I understand the pain you are in because I was there myself, but just keep listening to your coach and you will figure it out and it is worth it. Capre Viam John!

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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    I think the Hoka One One company is really onto something with these shoes. They actually sent me a pair to do a product review on before they got into the stores here in Tampa. http://irongoof.com/goof-review-hoka-s2/. I understand the pain you are in because I was there myself, but just keep listening to your coach and you will figure it out and it is worth it. Capre Viam John!

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm
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    Brad…you are the local runner I referred to in the post. It was the review that swayed me in the end. Thanks for posting the link!

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm
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    Brad…you are the local runner I referred to in the post. It was the review that swayed me in the end. Thanks for posting the link!

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm
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    Definitely one of the downsides of minimalism is the whole concept of “just hop in minimalist shoes and everything will be better mantra”!
    What a bunch of BS.
    Personally, I love my Altra The One shoes! But it has taken a couple of years of hip, glute, leg and foot strengthening and repairing to be able to run strong and correctly. Overall, I'm better for the journey but if I had to repeat, I'd start with the strengthening, loosening and repairing first and then transition to minimal. For me, minimal will never mean Vibram's or similar though. At 190# (formerly 240), I do like a little cushioning.

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm
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    I added your name and link to the post. Thanks for getting it to me!

  • June 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm
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    I added your name and link to the post. Thanks for getting it to me!

  • June 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm
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    Oh do tell us how these work out. I keep seeing people in them and I'm with KC. I run with some cushion under these toes! That whole minimalist thing doesn't work for me and I always say I'm about forward progression. If cave people had it so great barefoot why did we invent shoes?

  • June 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm
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    Oh do tell us how these work out. I keep seeing people in them and I'm with KC. I run with some cushion under these toes! That whole minimalist thing doesn't work for me and I always say I'm about forward progression. If cave people had it so great barefoot why did we invent shoes?

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