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Posted by on Jul 30, 2009 in forefoot running, FYI, Gear, Injuries, Links, Running, Technique, Treadmill Runs, Trials

Why I wear Newtons, Part I

A skeptic recently asked me, \”Why did you switch to Newtons?\”. If you\’ve heard earlier episodes of Brandon\’s Marathon Podcast, or if you\’ve followed this site by reading many of my articles, then you have probably heard or read about my running evolution which brought me to Newton Running. Now, however, I am going to lay it out.

I was not a runner. This is a very important point, I feel because it gives perspective to how innocent and blissfully ignorant I was of running and all the trappings that come along with it. Yes, in high school I ran the mile like everyone else had to for the Presidential Physical Fitness program. Due to the fact that I was in insanely good shape from swimming (my sport of choice in which I was nationally ranked), I was able to get on the track for the mile and crank out a respectable 4:40. But, I was not a runner.

When I was in college, I stopped swimming on a team due to the fact that my school, VCU, did not have a team. I also discovered beer and loved it! This made for a not-so-great physique, which I did basically nothing to work on. I would lift fairly consistently, but this did little for my cardio health or weight loss.

After college (2002), I went to work as an apprentice artist with Virginia Opera (I am a singer, you see). Part of my job was touring around the state and giving concerts and recitals. This meant a great deal of time in hotels and a lot of eating out. Around Christmas of that year, I overheard someone at the opera house say that I was beginning to \”look like a real tenor\”. This was not a compliment. Tenors, well, most singers for that matter, have the well deserved reputation of being a little less than in shape. When I heard this statement, I knew something had to change. I weighed 240 lbs.

I began working out by getting on an elliptical machine because I believed, \”my knees can\’t take running\”. I coupled the elliptical with some swimming (stick with what you know, right?) and lifting as well as watching my diet…sort of. I began to lose weight, coming down to a svelte 215 lbs. I think it is important to note that I am a heavily muscled person, and I\’m 6\’1\” so weight is relative. To give you an idea, in THIS picture, I weigh 201 lbs.

Eventually, I began to run a bit. In the summer of 2005, I was working at Santa Fe Opera and was living very close to the gym. So, I began to run on the treadmill about for about twenty minutes at a time. This was the first time I really \”ran\”. I think I was wearing some Reebok or Adidas shoe that I probably bought because it looked cool. My running kind of came and went for about the next year. In December of 2006, my wife (who is also a singer) and I were working in Osaka, Japan. We both got really excited about the then new Nike+ system and we each got a pair of Air Zoom Moire+. This is a very flexible, lightweight, slipper-like shoe. I began running in them quite a bit and they really felt great. However, my runs were always about two miles and rarely more than three. That\’s about the point where my legs would begin to break down.

I kept up running pretty consistently, never pushing my body or trying to find out how to do more. Then in February of 2008, I was inspired and decided I was going to enter the lottery for the NYC Marathon (I won\’t go into the details of all the races and things, please read older posts for that). At the same time, I had been running in the same shoes for what I was told was far too long. So, I went to Nike\’s online store and chose a new pair of shoes. Because they were so narrow, these hurt my feet a lot (again, read older posts), so I exchanged them for a pair of Nike Air Vomero II\’s. My reason for going with Nike was because it was what I knew, and it seemed to be working well enough.

The Vomero\’s were literally like running on marshmallows. There was a HUGE heel-toe drop (height difference between the back and front of the shoe)  which emphasized my heel strike which felt ok for a while because of the insane amount of heel cushioning. I also began increasing my distance, mostly on a treadmill, and then my knees showed up to the party and everything went to hell. I had it in my head that my knees were not built for running and that I would have to get through my marathon on muscle and will (which partly came true, but only due to injury).

To be continued…

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