Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Running shoes

TL;DR: Flat footed, heel underpronating and toe pronating, mildly bow-legged runner purchased a pair of ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3. Will let you know about the performance.

My faithful Reebok Verona Supreme 2 tore yesterday, and it was about time too. It didn't trouble me for the most part, but I did have some issues with it, for instance, every reasonably long run caused pain in the arch. And thus began my quest for the perfect running shoe (for me, obviously).

I am posting this because I have spent the last 4 hours on this quest, and perhaps this will help someone.

The first thing I did was to search for shoes that suited runners with a flat foot. Most websites blindly suggested "Motion control stability shoes", whatever the hell that was. I checked out a bunch of them, and I liked what I saw. Mainly because the shoes predominantly had a wide midsole, and the most common problem I've had with shoes in the past was a narrow mid sole causing my foot to pull the canvas under my shoe. This often caused my foot to slip sideways if I tied my laces for a snug fit, and forced me to tie them too tight for my comfort. So all was well, and I was about to order when I realized I kept coming across this term called "pronation". The shoe was supposed to be extremely good for flat footed people and was supposed to help them with overpronation. On further research, I realized overpronation was when the runner rolled the foot along the inside of the foot.

I had my first and only DNF earlier this year caused by an injury. Since then, I have carefully analyzed my running and have tried to find the perfect stride that keeps my feet happy. And I remember that I felt most comfortable when ran in a mid foot stride and rolled my foot along the outside. I have been running that way ever since, and haven't faced any injuries. Most sites said the simplest way to check pronation was to just take a look at the sole of the shoe but that was difficult since the Verona Supreme(VS2) has an extremely awesome sole that didn't wear out even after 1.5 years of running. I initially assumed since the VS2 has a high arch support, it probably forces me to roll my foot on the outside. I was proved wrong when I checked my almost brand new formal shoes (which have no arch support), and the midsole and heel showed a slight wear, predominantly along the outside. So I was an underpronator. A flat footed underpronator.

The next half hour of search didn't lead me anywhere, and mostly left me feeling like this.
Wisdom of the Ancients

A friend suggested Runners World search, which asked me a set of elaborate questions. One good thing was they asked me separately if I was flat footed and about my pronation. But it is a shoe finder after all and most of the results was either for flat footed overpronators, or for high arched underpronators. The one shoe that seemed to achieve a decent middle ground was the Scott eRide Trainer 2, but that was apparently cramped in the toebox and that was a strict no-no for my broad feet.

During the search on RW, I found something else that was interesting. RW defined pronation not in terms of how the foot rolls, but in terms of how one pushes off the ground at the start of the stride. Overpronators were supposed to push off mainly from the large toes, and underpronators from the smaller toes. I went back to my brand new black shoes and realized that the sole, near the toes, was worn more towards the inside-center and not outside. So my stride landed midfoot, rolled back and forward along the outside, but pushed off closer to the larger toes.

I spent the next five minutes wondering what I had done to offend the running gods so, and planned to give up, when I chanced upon a post by one Ms. Lenni on RW forums. She had a similar problem, only she was a complete underpronator. And she mentioned that she had it checked and it was unusual, but occasionally happens to runners who are bow-legged and flat footed. The long comment thread subsequently helped me find so many people with such unfortunate combinations, a high arched overpronator, a knock kneed underpronator, someone who was an overpronator at the heel but pushed off his little toes, and finally, someone with exactly my condition. The cause of my troubles is that I am ever so slightly bow-legged! He recommended a select few, and after careful thought, I ended up with Saucony Men's Echelon 4 and ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3. Since barefoot running is prescribed by a lot of experienced runners, and since I don't really have the patience to do this all over again in a year when my new shoes wear out and the shoes in the thread have newer models that suck, I am purchasing a pair of ASICS Men's Gel Lyte33 3, because it is a minimalist shoe. If it doesn't work out, hello barefoot running!

Monday, 5 May 2014

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Although I have one more month at IITM before I officially graduate, handing over the responsibilities as the institute water-polo captain made me so very aware of how little time I have left here. And of all the places in the institute that hold memories so close to heart, the pool is probably the one I am going to miss the most. If home is any place where you belong, the swimming pool at IITM was definitely one for me. This is the farewell letter I sent to the institute water-polo team.

Hi all,

My tenure as the captain of the institute water-polo team has come to an end.

Being a part of the team has always been a matter of great pride for me, and it has been a great pleasure and honour to have served the team from this position. Devika, Anand, and Satra have been chosen to take up the captaincy positions for the next year, and I am very confident that they will do a great job.

The past year has been a wonderful year for the sharks and for me personally, and I would like to thank every one of you for the experience and the memories. More importantly, from where I stand, I see a new team full of promise and enthusiasm, and for that, I thank all the juniors. My biggest wish is that, someday, the sharks will win the treble, and with the enthusiasm and the talent in the new team, I won't be surprised if that comes to fruition in the immediate future.

Go Sharks!
Bonus, Insti Goalie da.

I thank all the people I have played with; especially Prabhat, for teaching me the sport and showing me that there was a sport I could be good at. And Veena and Amrutha, for all the moral support and love - from the early tense moments owing to inexperience and to the recent tense moments owing to experience; almost every match I didn't fade on stage was probably because of either of them. And lastly, I have to thank Superman, for being the unknown adversary I always had to be prepared for.

When I look around at the current team and the people who are graduating along with me, I can't help but recollect the quote from Troy. But in my head, it sounds like this -

If they ever tell my story let them say that I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Crunchy, tamer of lob shots/ Roja, tamer of center forwards/ GPS, tamer of power. Let them say I lived in the time of Tokas.

Friday, 18 April 2014

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I was introduced to Gabo with "The handsomest drowned man in the world". I remember the short story leaving me feeling so very empty, much like now. Today, when I heard of the great man's passing, memories of when I read the handsomest drowned man came rushing back, and it somehow seemed very apt.
When they spread him out on the floor they saw that he had been much bigger than any other man, for he hardly fit in the house, but they thought that perhaps the ability to continue growing after death was in the nature of certain drowned men.

...because they would paint the fronts of their houses with joyful colors to eternalize the memory of Esteban, and they would break their backs digging springs from the rocks and sowing flowers on the cliff s, so that in the dawns of the coming years the travelers on great ships would awaken suffocating on the aroma of gardens on the high sea, and the captain would have to come down from his quarter deck in full uniform, with his astrolabe, his pole star and string of war medals, and signaling the promontory of roses on the Caribbean horizon would say in fourteen languages: look there, where the wind is now so gentle that it stops to sleep beneath the beds, there, where the sun shines such that the sunflowers don't know where to turn, yes, there, is the village of Esteban.

I am at a loss for words, so I shall borrow, for one last time today, from Amrutha. "He gave me Solitude. He gave me Love. He brought me as close to catharsis as one could have. He showed me beauty through language. RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the greatest writer to have written in the twentieth century".