London Marathon Training Diary – 107 days to go

In the space between my last article this happened.

A: My second child was born.

B: I’m now running in my home city for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon instead of the 2020 Manchester Marathon.

Now I could go off in a rant about how tough having children is or how busy I am or how xyz has impacted my training since my son was born (BORING) the Rock says it best…

(Jokes aside) Family time is important, and puts things like running marathons into it’s right perspective. As such my training has changed and I’m adjusting to my new normal. I know that this will change week by week in the buildup to the London Marathon.

Coach John gave me a week of easy paced running 5-8 miles each day, or if it wasn’t possible then run zero miles.

Monday I didn’t run.

The plan started well, Tuesday I read “easy run” and ran an easy 10k.

Then things got real on Wednesday… I read “easy run” then I tried to run easy and dropped a mid six minute mile, after mile one. That’s not easy pace unless your Kipchoge, and even he runs slower easy miles than that.

Running faster then the planned easy pace wasn’t my fault (in an age of taking no responsibility) it was the fault of the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT Percent (Ekiden edition) I was wearing…

I’ve been a fan of the Nike Next% since I tried the first electric green colour way, which were seen in the 2019 London Marathon by Kipchoge, Farah and co.

Then the pink blast pair featured in the 2019 Berlin Marathon. Next was the (Sail/Black-Sail) white colour way featured late 2019.

The new colour way is the new Ekiden edition (Aurora Green/Hyper) which is featured below. All colour ways noted are available from Pro:Direct Running.

The Ekiden edition is inspired by it’s namesake. The Ekiden Season, is where thousands of high school, university and pro teams competing in intranational road-racing relays in Japan. The colourway is inspired by the scaled teals of Japanese bullet trains.

Of all four Next% colour ways the Ekiden is my favourite of the set.

I’ve previously reviewed the shoe, but after running in them for several hundred miles and several PB marathons, they are my go to marathon race shoe.

Whilst having a board in racing shoes sole is nothing new, it’s been in racing shoes way before Kipchoge was wearing them.

In reality the Next% feel like they propel me forward with the integrated carbon board. However we’ve been told that racing shoes must have minimal support, but even for a road marathoner, your carrying several times your body weight in each step, and that impact on your forefoot is definitely felt in your legs. The Next% supports the forefoot more than wearing a minimalist race shoe, which causes less impact to your forefoot, which helps with recovery.

Other rumours I’ve heard about the Next% is that they aren’t hard wearing, they have no grip on the forefoot and the thin vapour weave material isn’t strong enough.

All three are fake news.

Following the rain of the 2018 Boston Marathon, the athletes gave feedback that the flyknit material absorbed and held the water, which made the shoe heavy and invited blisters, and needed more grip etc. The resulting vapour weave material is strong, light and breathable. Plus the forefoot is designed to be hard wearing and give grip on wet conditions.

Whilst there are actual real benefits to the shoe which I’ve gone into detail for my previous review, Nike have pulled of a marketing masterstroke for the mental factor of these shoes.

Something I’ve commonly heard people say about them is “I’d they only save them for race day.”

Beyond the literal reading of that phrase and the actual physical benefits of the shoe, subconsciously thinking positively and having extra belief (in kit, or whatever) adds another factor to the runners performance on the day.

On the flip side it can be strongly argued they are saved for race day, because of the price (£240 U.K. RRP January 2020).

The Next% are expensive and sit at the higher end of the market, if you’re a rear foot striker, in my opinion it won’t give you the same gains and probably isn’t the best way for you to spend £240.

However these shoes are definitely a good investment, if you are a forefoot runner, this shoe is designed to give you gains for your stride as you move and build momentum, if you’re targeting a PB.

Also another mental aspect is it’s a shoe that’s featured a lot, in recent times in various road races across the spectrum of runners.

In last years NYC and Berlin Marathons I saw a sea of green and pink Next% on race day.

In Japan where ASICS and Mizuno are popular, the Next% made it’s presence known in the Ekiden race season. Below is an excerpt from the Bloomberg article – Asics Runs Into Trouble as Athletes Opt for Nike’s Super-Shoe.

Nike’s sneakers played a starring role in one of Japan’s most-watched road races, the Hakone Ekiden. The grueling relay marathon race pits teams of about 10 collegiate runners on a course of more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) between Tokyo and Hakone, near Mt. Fuji, over two days.

The overwhelming majority of this year’s contestants – more than 84% – ran wearing Nike’s Vaporfly Next% sneakers, according to statistics compiled by Ekiden News and shared by Bunshun Online. That included the winning team from Tokyo’s Aoyama Gakuin University, serial victors of the event who until this year were known for opting for Adidas sneakers.

Whatever you think about the shoe, it’s gaining momentum in the road running market, and it’ll be interesting to see how the rival brands respond.

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT Percent (Ekiden edition) Aurora Green/Hyper are available from Pro:Direct Running.

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