Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Balance MT110: The Review

Google New Balance MT110 and apparently you'll end up at this website.  I wrote a very brief post about getting the shoes as an early Christmas gift.  I say brief, because I literally only wrote about one sentence, and was still injured so not really running.  Since December, this non-review has been clicked from a Google search over 160 times.

So to you 160 anonymous blog readers sent from Google, I dedicate this actual shoe review.  I apologize for your fruitless search for information that ended in a photo of our Christmas tree and only one sentence of actual information indicating that the MT110 was indeed an early Christmas present.

About a month ago, I began running again and was convinced the stiff sole and forefoot roll of the Newton shoe was just the thing I needed to run comfortably and prevent irritation of plantar plate.  Unfortunately, after two runs and about a week I figured out these were not the shoe for me.  The top of my feet hurt for some reason, and I just couldn't get used to running around in a shoe that felt so blocky.  I might try them again sometime.

In the meantime, I had been waiting patiently to try out the MT110.  Since I was frustrated with the Newtons, the time had come.  I ran for 3 or 4 miles on road and trail on my first time out in the shoes, and I knew immediately I had stumbled onto a great shoe.

If you have a narrower foot and lace these tightly, the "hug" of the shoe from ankle to mid foot just feels extremely secure and balanced with no tight or uncomfortable spots.

Looking at the shoe from above, what I felt in the fit is also visually apparent.  The shoe has a narrow and comfortably secure mid foot, but also a spacious but not ridiculously wide forefoot that gives your toes adequate room to spread without blistering.  This is simply for my taste one of the best fitting shoes I have ever worn.

The inside of the shoe doesn't have a traditional insole, and has a thin liner surrounding upper of the shoe.  In both my road and trail runs done without socks my feet have been comfortable with no uncomfortable rubbing.  Also when running sockless, I didn't get the achilles tendon rubbing and eventual bleeding I had from the New Balance Minimus Road or MT101.

I've now ran every mile for three weeks in the MT110.  Although not designed as a road shoe, it actually works out pretty well.  The mid foot lugs made of a less resilient rubber compound have worn down pretty quickly, but the heel and forefoot lugs still look new even with road abuse.  The shoe has just enough cushioning to be comfortable on the road with a mid foot strike.  The first few times I ran in the shoe due to the low 4mm heel to toe drop I had a little upper achilles tendon irritation on my less flexible right calf.  As I have settled in to running in the shoe and worn it walking quite a bit I haven't had any trouble.

As for trails, the sole isn't quite as grippy as I thought it might be on wet rock, etc. but is overall grippy enough.  The light feel of the shoe and precise fit does make trail running feel particularly nimble and a little like dancing on trail when tricky footwork is required.

I've put the most miles on the shoe in the Deam Wilderness, and this is a case where the shoe particularly excels.  Because of the often muddy, wet and creek crossing filled lower areas on the trails it is probably my favorite shoe I've worn there.  Instead of worrying about hopping on rocks I have just blazed through the water and it feels great.  The shoe drained incredibly quickly after these crossings and I forgot that it was soaking wet.  Even immediately after a creek crossing the shoe didn't feel heavy.

Also having kicked or stepped on roots and rocks I would argue the shoe has adequate protection in the front as well as under the forefoot in the rock plate.  I think that for Bloomington area trail running this will be my usual shoe for a while.

Post run, the shoe is easy to clean up because the synthetic surface just wipes down for removing layers of mud.  The exterior of the shoe is also reasonably tough as the shoes still look new.  For some reason the interior gets very smelly though, so I have battled trying to air it out somewhat.

The Breakdown


  • Lower price than competing shoes at $85 MSRP
  • Minimal, but more cushioning and greater stiffness than most other "minimalist" shoes out there
  • Minimal, but adequate protection for the foot
  • Very light weight (7.7 oz)
  • Fast draining and doesn't get water logged
  • Awesome fit for the narrow foot
  • Reasonable toebox avoids blister
  • Perfect "no sock" interior
  • Silver color is cool
  • Durable and cleans up easily
  • Knowing ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka has contributed to the design while logging hundreds of miles in the shoe


  • More expensive than the MT101 was
  • Gets smelly inside pretty quickly
  • Not that cushioned, but if you like the feel this doesn't really matter
  • 4mm drop and relatively small platform might make this a tough shoe to run a 50+ mile ultramarathon in
  • Probably not the best shoe for a heel strike on harder surfaces
  • Knowing ultramarathoner Anton Krupicka has logged hundreds of miles in the shoe and is still battling injury

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Running Together Again

I've been to three doctors, and five different physical therapists since December.  I admit, I probably would visit ten times that number if I had to.

I think the injury to my foot has finally healed.  I'm cautious about believing this, but I think this is the case.  I still felt that my foot was tight two weeks ago, and I began having aches all over the rest of my forefoot but not exactly the swelling in one spot I did before.  My ability to run reasonably, forefoot flexibility and pain have improved dramatically over the last two weeks.  In the process, I think I've learned a lot from my previous mistakes and how to return from injury and prevent re-injury.  I'm finally starting to feel confident running again.  I credit this to three different plans of attack:

Fixing flexibility issues on my right leg:  Calf, Ankle, Hip

The reward for really getting to the root of some of my specific issues goes to a physical therapist at St. Vincent Sports Medicine (ask me for a name if you need one, he was clearly superior to any other I have ever visited in his attention to detail and knowledge).  My right foot dorsiflexion (bringing toes toward shin) suffers from flexibility issues at the calf, ankle, and achilles tendon.  The actual measured angle difference between right and left foot upper limit of dorsiflexion was 11 degrees!  I can't quote numbers on my hip but suffice to say the flexibility difference between left to right was glaring.  I've continued to use a number of stretches recommended on a daily basis.

Fixing left/right strength discrepancies and balance

I have a weaker right piriformis and gluteus minimus, weaker left quad, and weaker right calf. My weekly strength training now includes all of the following exercises:
  • 1 Legged Squats
  • 1 Legged Calf Raises
  • 1 Legged Dead Lift
  • Individual Leg Extension
  • Individual Sideways Hip Extension
  • Individual Foot Raises (dorsiflexion with resistance from pulley)
  • Lunges
  • Front, back, and side planks (core)
  • Back Extension on Exercise Ball
  • Crunches on Exercise Ball
  • Crunches with holds and legs extended and separated in Roman Chair
  • Inner and outer thigh weight machine
  • Balancing on an upside down bosu ball with one leg
  • Quick climbs on the Stairmaster at 120-135 stairs per minute
The strength gains I've made in such a short time have been greater than I expected.

Fixing my foot, eliminating the symptoms

With great results, I have continued to just hot water bathe and continuously massage the bottom of my foot with a golf ball.  This definitely has been working, and is even more effective when I start my day with the hot water bath and massage.  By the time I start moving around the foot tightness and pain is gone.

I also finally visited a podiatrist (Bloomington Foot and Ankle Center) and was pleased to get some  answers and a plan to eliminate the roughness and pain in my forefoot.  It did take a while to get in for an appointment (three weeks) but was well worth the wait.  The original foot pain I had was caused by a now healed but previously strained / damaged plantar plate according to his diagnosis.  I started up with an immediate twice a week graston and ultrasonic treatment on the bottom of my forefoot and plantar fascia.  This also seems to be working, as my tendons and plantar plate are starting to feel "smooth" again.


Just to make sure the healing process isn't delayed by an deficiencies I've been taking Cod Liver Oil and a "real food" based multivitamin.  I'm not sure if this has contributed to the healing, but I have been sleeping well and seem to be bouncing back quickly from long bike rides which I think is a good sign.

Back to Running Together

In the meantime, I've been running every other day with Katie.  In the last two weeks, we got to run trails at the Deam Wilderness, Lake Griffey, Morgan Monroe Low Gap Trail, and around town a bit.  Katie's faster than me right now and it just feels great to tag along and be out on the trails and roads again.

The last three weeks have totalled 11, 12, and 13 miles respectively.  This is absolutely the slowest and most controlled "return" to running I have ever done.  I guess I am accidentally observing the often quoted "10 percent" weekly mileage increase rule for the first time in my life!

Cycling for Cross Training and the Nashville 90

I think my leg strength has been helped on the trails from all the cycling.  I've been cross training on my bike almost every day in order to sort of "use up" my energy to keep the temptation at bay to run too much right now.  I've kept up my weekly long rides and managed to ride the "Nashville 90" route on Monday.  I forgot how beautiful, fast, and fun this route is.  I haven't ridden the whole thing since Ironman training in 2009 and I had forgotten completely about SR 58.  This road has light traffic, fast rolling hills, and plenty of great views of the forested hills to the north and south.