New Year, New Goals, New Socks

January 14, 2015

Whether you officially set a New Years resolution or not, you can’t deny the feeling of change that comes with the turn of a calendar year. I always find myself in a reflective state during the last few runs of the year, and it’s only natural to begin to turn my attention to new goals for the new racing season. In 2015, there is one undeniable thing that could not only contribute to all my racing aspirations, but arguably make all my daily runs a bit more exciting. So here it is, live and in print:

I, Katie DeSplinter, am fully committed to getting faster on the downhills.

First, I need a plan – which fortunately, is already in progress.  This includes: 1) speed work to increase turnover; 2) more running-specific cross-training and core work; and of course 3) actually focusing on downhill running in my workouts. That last one sounds ridiculous, but honestly, I was putting all my effort into running as hard as I could up the mountains that downhill became nothing more than my easy recovery. I should be working on both throughout the week, and now I will.

[caption id="attachment_703" align="alignright" width="318"]Leading a downhill charge like a boss. (Mineral King, Sequoia NP) (Photo by Dominic Grossman) Leading a downhill charge like a boss.
(Mineral King, Sequoia NP)
(Photo by Dominic Grossman)[/caption]

Next, I need the right tools for the job.  Depending on the terrain, I wear a minimalist trail flat or a road running flat for the majority of my speed work.  This allows me to feel the ground and really concentrate on proper form and toe-off. And wouldn’t you know that with my new goal for 2015 came a brand new Injinji sock that fits perfectly into my plan?  I’ve been rocking the new Women’s Specific Run Lightweight No Show since I’ve shifted focus, with the key word being light-weight. (It’s hyphenated, so it’s one word – I promise.) Seriously, combined with the natural toe splay, it’s the closest thing I can get to barefoot, and I absolutely love it.

Since you’re here on, I’m assuming you’d like to hear a bit more about this new sock, so allow me elaborate:

FEEL:              My good friend just had a baby, and I often find myself wishing there was any material in the world as soft as her skin. Behold! This sock!

FIT:                  “Why Women’s Only?” I thought. “Aha!” I exclaimed, after trying it on. I have an extremely narrow foot, so usually I am just excited when something fits well enough to not rub or fall off. But something that actually hugs my foot and arches in all the right places? Oh man, I haven’t even known what I was missing. All socks should fit like this one. Even the toes feel tighter! *Squeals with joy*

WEIGHT:        I’ve already touched upon this, but these things are like the result I would imagine were I to have my socks airbrushed on. I have no idea why I’d ever do that, but if I did, it would likely be something like this. I feel the ground, not my sock, and that is a top priority for me when focusing on good running form.

MATERIAL:    You know how some light-weight socks are so slick that they end up just causing your foot to slide around in your shoe? Particularly bad if you’re focusing on downhill running and are expected to wear open-toed shoes in your friend’s wedding this spring. Well, this is exactly not that. The material feels closer to cotton than synthetic (note: it is not actually cotton – it is moisture-wicking CoolMax® XtraLife) and stays put in my shoe.

DURABILITY:  I’ve been testing one, single pair for a month solid. I’ve worn it over and over, washed and dried it multiple times, worn it on dusty, rocky trails, and thanks to California finally getting some serious precipitation – through rain, mud and even snow. I also haven’t cut my toenails in a hot minute, because… well… holidays. I honestly would have expected a sock this thin to blow out, but they look and feel the same. 

TIP:  When my Injinjis get seriously dust laden, I rinse them in my sink with hot water before throwing in the wash. This eliminates the “crunch” factor. You’re welcome.

STYLE:           The Achilles tab from the Run 2.0 is carried over which is fantastic if, like me, you love the no show look but hate your shoe rubbing in the heel. The colors are super fun, which is important because even though you can’t see them above your shoe, you know they’re there. And you want to have cute socks. AND THERE IS NOTHING WEIRD ABOUT THAT.

So, that’s what’s up with my new favorite sock. If you’re a guy, and you’re sad – dry those eyes and grab the Run 2.0 No Show – it’s awesome and will fit your wider-than-ours foot just perfectly. If you’re a guy with a freakishly narrow foot, go ahead and snag a pair of these… no one will know.

As for my goal, I’m honestly enjoying myself right now.  Entering my sixth year of running ultras, it’s nice to shake things up and I’m excited to see how it plays out for me in my first race of 2015 – a 100k exactly one month from today with a ton of descent. I’m armed with an arsenal of downhill interval workouts, a weight and core routine from my Pacific Mountain Runners teammate and Physical Therapist, Michael Chamoun, and at least according to Strava, am starting to dominate the downhills. Happy, blister-free feet are an absolute must to keep this train rolling, and thanks to Injinji, I’m all set.