Back at it after almost a week off
Can you believe it – we’ve made it to week 18 of the 22 week marathon schedule. Just 4 weeks to go before the big day!
So, yeah. The house of cards that is my fragile immune system came crashing down before last week’s Kenilworth Half Marathon and resulted in me taking a near week of recovery. I went to see my GP and we concluded I’d picked up a bout of sinusitis or rhinorrhea, and was prescribed with potions to get it shifted.
Having some time off hasn’t been nearly as bad as I feared and gave me an opportunity to temporarily recharge my batteries and get healthy to tackle the final stretch of this marathon campaign. Surprisingly, I didn’t go stir-crazy and simply went about my daily life and barely even thought about running!
Nike Zoom Streak 6 – initial thoughts
I love these babies and will be wearing them at the Yorkshire Marathon
After a disappointing few runs with my Adidas Adios Boost 2s (toe rubbed raw, a nail dislodged etc), which I’d planned to use for the Yorkshire Marathon, I decided that time was quickly ticking by and I needed to find another pair of shoes to fill the void. Enter the Nike Zoom Streak 6.
Working alongside marathon elites, Nike went back to the drawing board for their latest iteration of the Zoom Streak line after a lukewarm reception of the 5th edition (Paula Radcliffe actually quite likes them for what it’s worth). The modus operandi was simple on paper: give marathon runners just enough to get them to the finish line and no more. The result is quite simply the best running shoe I’ve ever worn (yes, even better than my long cherished Nike Flyknit Racers).
So, why do I think they’re so great?
The Zoom Streak 6 is one of Nike’s first shoes to roll out with a new Flymesh upper, which has to be seen in person to be believed. It’s incredibly thin, yet features plenty of ventilation to keep feet cool and dry, offsetting the potential for blisters. My size 7.5s weigh less than 180g per shoe, and clearly, majority of the Zoom Streak 6’s diet has come from the stripped down upper. The simpler construction is also reflected in the price – £85 RRP versus the more complex to manufacture Flyknit Racer at £130 RRP. The seamless nature of the upper is a godsend for me after my right foot had been mangled by the Adios Boost 2s.
The outsole of the shoe is an unconventional design where it’s been rounded off on all 4 axis. The shoe can rock back and forth, or left and right without too much difficulty. The benefit here is footstrikes of most runners are catered for; heelstrikers can roll their feet forward, whilst midfoot and forefoot strikers can land with a very smooth motion, eased in by the shoe. I’m a forefoot striker and pronate on my right foot, which has caused traditional shoes to wear away incredibly quickly on the outer edge, whereas my left foot lands almost perfectly – I should now be able to get more even wear out of both shoes before needing to throw them out. Nike has also stuck a piece of rigid plastic that runs from the midfoot to the forefoot (think Adidas’ Torsion system on the Adios Boost line and you’ve got it). The plastic is designed to enhance energy return, resulting in quite a springy ride in the Zoom Streak 6. What’s remarkable is how the plastic plate pulls double duty on runs; when I’m running fast and on my toes, I get an extra bit of bounce to propel each toe-off with a little more force, and when I’m tiring or taking it easy, the plastic stays rigid and helps to roll my feet forward with a little more stability. It’s some black magic that Nike pulled off, or maybe just good science!
What’s also impressive is how versatile they’ve been. I broke them out at this week’s Parkrun, and whilst they were a touch heavier than what I would normally wear for a 5k, they still felt perfectly at home on my feet and it was my return to fitness rather than the shoes that held me back from going any faster. On the below 17 mile long run, the weight-saving was very much welcome during the closing miles, and the plastic plate helped to give a wee bit of support when tired and my form began to grow sloppy, whilst still offering a bit of pop when I was feeling more energetic.
Nike, please don’t tinker any further because you’ve created a masterpiece!
Cannon Hill Parkrun
That first run back from any break is always tough to face because it exposes the extent of how much fitness was lost.
Cannon Hill held its own memorial run for Darren Hale, and like at Perry Hall, there was much orange on show to mark his affiliation with the Cannon Hill Crusaders team.
I’d promised myself I didn’t want to go bananas, but managed to get caught up in the start line frenzy and before I knew it, I had a 3:41 opening km on my hands…
Much steadier running returned for the next 3km, consisting of 3:52, 3:52 and 3:54 – this wasn’t paced by my Garmin, but rather entirely by feel to leave me dumbfounded!
3:43 and a sprint for the line rounded things off for 19:00 from the official timer for a not too shabby morning’s work.
Amazingly, I was also able to reach a new recorded maximum heart rate of 209bpm. It was 2013 when I originally managed to hit 207bpm as part of my saga of a sub-20 5k. I guess the underlying bug I’d caught was still hanging around, and my slightly amped up resting heart rate helped push me to new heights. Unassisted, I don’t think I could bring myself to seek out such a high heart rate due to the world of pain it would involve!
Here’s the Strava data for the run.
17 miles – to Brueton Park and back
I was fully expecting this one to sting a bit after a relatively fast Parkrun the day prior, and a lack of long and medium-long runs over the last 2 weeks.
The weather was pretty much perfect for running, with a nice chill in the air from the breeze, and some sun that came in and out of view overhead. It’s a real damn shame that next week will usher in yet more elevated temperatures – why can’t Autumn just stick around and settle in???
The first few miles were slow and a bit ploddy, never quite feeling right. Once warmed up, the middle was really rather positive and I had to rein the pace in a few times before I got carried away. As anticipated, the last few miles uncovered the lay-off from running and had me working a little harder than I normally would have.
All in all, this was a welcome return to training normality and launches me back into the training schedule to mop up the few remaining weeks.
Here’s the Strava data for this run.
The road to the Yorkshire Marathon
Whilst in an ideal world, I wouldn’t have gotten sick and I wouldn’t have had the dreadful race I did at the Kenilworth Half Marathon. Thankfully, the prize is just on the horizon and it’s hard to believe race day is just 4 weeks away from now. I’m not race-fit yet, though if pushed, I’m certain I could run a marathon at the moment and beat my 3:34:04 PB from 2014.
The 4 months of training since mid-May has been a slog, and truth be told, I kinda wanted race day to come around sooner. So, I’m actually viewing the last 2 weeks as a blessing, both as much-needed recovery and also to simply kill some time. The next few weeks will be crucial, especially next week’s 22/23 mile run, but also the planned Robin Hood Half Marathon as a marathon pace session (I’ve not decided yet if I’ll cover the full race at pace, or only part of it).
The marathon sure isn’t a distance for anybody that wants instant gratification!