Profile photo of Steve Wagner

About Steve Wagner

The distance running journey is a little bit different for everyone, and mine started long before spending time on the roads and trails. My background was rooted in an appreciation for the path less traveled and an inclination for experimentation and experiencing the outdoors. It just didn't start as a love for endurance athletics. An assignment as a newspaper reporter, on an icy spring morning at the start of the Fargo Marathon, piqued my curiosity. Unknowingly, a year later, I would trade in the weight room for the roads. The start of the marathon changed me. Running races hooked me on the positive energy and unbridled hope present at the starting line. Since then, I've discovered the running community is filled with amazing people full of the strength and determination. Many of them have their own stories of courage and triumph. Along the way, I've been lucky to meet some of them. And I've shared my passion for running with two Golden retrievers -- Riley and Coby. As a single guy, running and the dogs have given my life some purpose away from the office. My path has led me to the start and finish of marathons, half marathons and trail races. An experiment of one and this journey allows for an appreciation for the path less traveled and experiencing new roads and trails.

Beating the yo-yo syndrome

Just the other day, a friend posted a comment on his Facebook page about working long hours and questioning whether it was worth it.

He’s no stranger to hard work — nor making sacrifices to obtain goals. A phenomenally talented and fit runner, his post solicited advice and some suggestions, including alternative employment. One unassuming comment triggered a response that provided insight into his secret to being a great runner: “Truth be told … it’s all about consistency, routine and putting in the work. If you do these three things, you will reap the rewards …”

And he’s right.

There’s no shortcuts to reaching goals. To be great on the road, you have to follow a routine, consistently, and put in the work. If your goal is to run fast, your routine must include practicing running fast. If the goal is to run further, you must run longer.

And the secret isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.

Last year, injuries depleted my base and fitness, leaving me with only a few miles on my legs each week. With the New York City Marathon five months away, it left me guessing how to train and run my best when race day arrived.

My initial thoughts left me wanting to jump back into a heavy training load and run my usual 50-plus miles per week. Several earlier attempts at this strategy had yielded a yo-yo syndrome of higher mileage one week followed by a week.

Perhaps pure stubborness led me to accept a different method: slowly rebuild by running a some every day. Taking a long view helped to establish a routine. It required commitment and the consistency made me a little stronger and better. By the third month, I was running more mileage than ever. And then the fitness came.

This year, I find myself in a similar situation. Since running the half marathon in Fargo, I’ve signed up for my fall marathon, picked a training program and began running consistently. The official kickoff to training is still a few weeks away, but I’m using the time before to establish my routine and base for the hard work to come.

During that span, I’ve begun taking Coby on a few runs, since he’s finally fully grown, and plan a few shorter races for fun.

IMG_2568 IMG_2576

The shoe quest

The quest to find the perfect marathon shoe continues.

In 2012, a decision to “retire” from racing 26.2 miles came with an unexpected twist. The following year, as my endurance sport goals shifted to other endeavors, Brooks discontinued the Green Silence.

Over the course of the Green Silence’s production, I opened up my wallet for several pairs in a variety of colors. While the shoe isn’t designed for high mileage, and aren’t the type this runner needs for regular training, the Green Silence proved to be my perfect racing shoe. Light, minimal heel-to-toe drop, responsive, a roomy toe box and comfortable.

The shoes stayed in my closet with the exception of speed workouts and races from the 5K to the marathon. With the popularity of these shoes, I never considered Brooks would discontinue making them, especially since the company didn’t alter the model from year to year. To my horror, when my goals shifted back to marathons, I found the hard truth — Brooks stopped production on my all-time favorite shoe and scouring the Internet only turns up a few used shoes with little wear left.

Stashed in a closet, I found a pair, with just enough tread, to save for running the New York City Marathon. The request to find a replacement shoe began at the expo there and with emails to the company. My disappointment was magnified when the response from a customer service rep suggested I try a shoe within a line that just didn’t feel right.

That left really one alternative: start a search for another shoe model.

And the search continues. So I purchased a Brooks racing shoe that I had experimented with several years ago during shorter races. It had been improved, but still didn’t hit all the check boxes. During the Fargo half marathon, I used the Saucony model that was my preferred model prior to the Green Silence. It worked OK, but still left me searching for something better.

And now I’m going to experiment with a pair of Nike racing shoes.

 

RacerSTFastwitch LunarRacer

A new training program in the buildup to St. George allows me to jump into some shorter summer races, where I’ll test some of the shoes to see if any of them will work as my marathon shoe.

By nature, I love experimenting, but my history in these tests hasn’t always been good: many of the different styles — in and out of the correct shoe category for me — have left me injured or broken down.

About a year ago, I swore off all experimenting — determined to stay healthy and content within the tried-and-true shoes for me. But a quest for a new racing shoe leaves me with little choice.