Tips on Getting Started with the Muscle Runners
Marathon champion takes the Muscle Runners for a Muscle Run!
Hear from Jack, who's a European Masters Champion in the age group above 35 years old. He was recently looking for a shoe to help strengthen his legs and promote a proper running form for his training runs. He found the Muscle Runners. We partnered with him so he can experience this "truly new and unique" running shoe, as stated by Road Trail Run, and provide us with his thoughts.
Jack also provides suggestions on how to properly warm up the calf and the Achilles before the run. He also points out different muscle group to train and strengthen, to help with the transition or incorporation of the Muscle Runners into your running routine.
Read what he thinks and leave us a comment to let us know if you agree:
A few initial thoughts from my short easy run in the shoes.
When starting my run I at first found the ride and feeling underfoot a bit awkward as running in a negative heel to toe drop shoe is something that I have never tried before. It was quite apparent when running the negative drop as usually the heel would bottom out after landing on the front of the foot which was not initially happening.
I think warming up before using the Muscle Runners would be beneficial with stretches/activation for the deep calf muscle (Soleus) and main calf (Gastrocnemius) along with trying to loosen up the Achilles before heading out. I believe some pogo hops would be a good idea as they would mimic the similar motion to the heel not touching the ground while keeping your feet and legs reactive.
I felt that when running uphill the negative hill to toe was accentuated further due to the gradient that I was running up giving an effectively even bigger negative drop.
The fit of the shoe in an UK8.5 for me was perfect leaving me with a little space (lengthwise) in the toe area. The width of the toe-box was generous and comfortable. I had no issue getting a solid lockdown on my foot and experienced no heel slip even when running downhill.
Once I had somewhat warmed up after about 5 minutes into the run I started to find that my Achilles and calves had seemed to loosen up and I was to find quite a natural rhythm running in them. The forefoot of the shoe has a quite wide platform which I found very stable.
I found that once I had gotten going that the shoes were promoting a good foot strike position below my center of gravity and encouraging me to keep my torso in an upright position which led me to feel quite efficient in the shoe once I had adjusted to the initial strange feeling of the negative drop.
I carried out one or two slightly quicker surges within the run and they felt good at the slightly faster pace but more testing is definitely required at different paces as did not get close to any race paces during this run.
The weather was quite nice and the ground generally dry in most places.
After my very short easy run in these I feel like they actually done a good job of stretching out my calves and Achilles. Because how different they feel to a traditional drop shoe I will probably integrate these into my training gradually but next time I run in them I would like to test them at a few different paces.
I will try to take them over to the athletics track... and try a few efforts at around HM effort (5:20 per mile roughly) down to 10k effort (5:07 per mile approx.) and see how they feel at quicker paces when I am putting a greater amount of force into the ground.
I like the clean design of the shoe and the insoles were a nice touch. The foam is quite a firm ride underfoot from my initial run but I feel if the foam was much more compressive it would possibly negatively affect the stability of the shoe.
In terms of strengthening/preparing prior to using the Muscle Runners a range of stretching and strengthening exercises focused primarily on the following areas would be beneficial;
Also ankle mobility work would be a good idea along with stretching of the under side of the foot in the plantar area and mobility/strength of the toes (primarily the big toe).
I will be interested to see how I feel tomorrow after the short run in them as I imagine that I have used muscles that have not previously been used or used often at least. Certainly I will have went through a greater range of motion in the ankle (dorsiflection wise) than I would usually had done due to the drop.
- Jack N.
(edited for clarity)