Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shoe Review & This Weeks Race Report

SHOE REVIEW

So I purchased a pair of Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150's about a week and a half ago and start running in them about a week ago.  Before trying Inov-8 I had been running in a pair of Brooks Pure Connect that I purchase last October, so I got about seven months out of the Brooks and I am still running in them while I get more acquainted with my new Inov-8.

The Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150 are more minimal than the Brooks Pure Connect and have taken some time to get use to.  Until my last run I was about to walk away from them but I have had a change of heart.  I went for an easy 8 mile run yesterday which was the day after my first race of the year so my legs were a bit tight.  The first thing I noticed and still notice about the X-Lite 150's is the absence of cushion.  This is a true bare foot running shoe.  I have posted a picture so that you don't begin to confuse this shoe with a toe shoe.  The X-Lite 150 looks like a traditional running shoe with a wide toe box and a 0mm drop between the heel and toe.  The first couple of times out I experience the same calf soreness that I experience when I moved from traditional running shoes to the Brooks Pure Connect because the Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150 are flatter and have less cushion. 

When I stepped out the door yesterday I didn't have high expectations but after a few miles my legs felt pretty fresh.  As I became more accustomed to running in them I felt my speed picking up which was confirmed by looking at my GPS watch.  So after about 50 miles in the Inov-8 Bare X-Lite 150 I am giving this shoe a thumbs up.  The next test will be to see how long they last.  I am not sure if I can get seven months or more out of these shoes or not.  Time will tell.

THIS WEEKS RACE REPORT

I have my first multisport race of the year under my belt and know what areas I need to keep working on.  The Flower City Duathlon was held this past Saturday and consisted of a 5K run / 20 mile bike / 5K run.  I expected to do well and the run and crush the bike.  It turns out that I did well on the run and did a little better on the bike but not as well as I would have like to have done.  I ran my first 5K at a 6:50 pace, finished the bike with an average speed of 20.5mph and improved my second 5K with a pace of 6:40.  I am very happy with the run pace but expected to be closer to 21mph on the bike.  My take away from the race is keep working hard on my run but start adding more hill workout to my bike training.  I really got bogged down on the climbs more than I expected to.  That is one of the reasons I like these early season short races.  I get a good feel for what is working well and what needs some improvement.

My biggest concern coming into the race was not how I was going to perform but the temperature outside.  When I got into my car on Saturday morning the temperature was 27 degrees.  At the start of the race it was about 30 degrees.  By the time I got through the first run I was warmed up and felt great during the bike portion of the race.  My feet did a little cold but I expected much worse.  I finished the race in 1:43, 26 overall out of about 300 participants and 8 in my age group. 

That is it for me.  Please be safe and train smart.  I had heard and seen to many story's about cyclists being run over by cars this year.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

CAN'T??? & LAST WEEK


DON'T TELL ME YOU CAN'T

I came into work on Monday and someone asked me what I did over the weekend. I said, "I did some yard work on Saturday then did a 55 mile training ride on my bike, made pizza, ran 13 miles on Sunday and had dinner at my in-laws. The group standing around looked at me like I had two heads. They said you rode your bike 55 miles and ran 13 the next day! I do understand the surprise or disbelief because I get the same response on a regular basis. I am here tell you that you shouldn't think that way. In fact you should ask yourself when you are going to try something that seems to hard or just a bit out there.


Most people tell me that they can't run. It is not because of an injury it is just their perception. The fact is that all of us can run minus those with some sort of handicap or injury that prevents them from running but even some of those folks find a way to get it done. For the majority of the population I think people don't run because the chose to think they can't when they really can. I am not saying that everyone has the ability to run a four minute mile or complete a marathon in under three hours. What I am saying is that we are a species that was meant to run. It has been proven that we are the most efficient runners on the planet. Call me crazy if you want to but first check it out. The data is out there.

I would love to see more people getting out and taking better care of them selves. That doesn't mean that everyone needs to lace up their running shoes and go log some crazy miles. What I am saying is that the majority of the population needs to wake up and find a way to live a better healthier life. I know that right now some of you are coming up with reasons why not to run or do something else that is good for you. Here is how I see it. Running is not going to hurt you if you do it right. I did it wrong for most of my life and did get injured on a regular basis but I learned how to do it right and have remained injury free for longer than ever. I have logged more miles this spring than ever. I would be happy to share how I have done this but please don't think of me as the expert on healthy running. I do have a few short tips.

1) Buy a good pair of running shoe from a local RUNNING shoe store that can help you get the right shoe.

2) Start slow and increase your distance by 10% at most each week.

3) Listen to your body. If it tells you it hurts than stop and walk. There is not shame in training smart.

4) Be consistent with your routine and effort.

5) You don't have to go out and run as fast as your can. Find a pace you enjoy and stick with it. If you want run a race the speed will be there when you need.

6) Mix it by finding some trails to run.

7) Enter a 5K that is about 6 months away so you have a reason to get out there and train. Feel free to sign up for something a little longer if you are up to the challenge.

8) Enlist your friends and family to run with you. having someone there to go through it with you is a huge help in the beginning. At this point I usually run alone but I had running buddies in the past and still do on some of my long runs.

I am done now and getting off my soap box.


TRAINING

So this week I had to get back on the horse as far as my training is concerned. I had traveled for a week for work and got out of my groove. I got a couple days of training in but nothing I felt great about. I tried to find hotels with good pools and actually found a hotel in Milwaukee that had a 25 yard pool with lane lines and everything. The only problem was the hotel it self was a dump. I had my temperature set as low as it would go and my room was still as hot and muggy as the amazon so lets just say I didn't get much sleep and had a crappy swim in the morning. I ended up in Madison, WI later that day for more meetings and found myself in a much nicer hotel that sat next to one of the small lakes in Madison and a park with some nice running trails. I checked into the hotel which didn't go so smoothly because I made an error when booking the room. About a half hour later I unpacked and got changed and decided to just go see what I could find. One of the things I really like about Madison is the pedestrian roadways all over the city that runners, bikers and walkers can take advantage of. I couldn't believe all of the triathletes I saw there. I followed the pedestrian road for about a half mile to a park and went looking for some trails which I found pretty fast. The trails were only about a mile long so after three times through I was getting a little board until I found some single track but I ran through that in no time at all. By this time the effects of traveling, not sleeping and not eating like I normally do was setting in and I was feeling pretty run down so I headed back to my hotel. That was all of the training I got in that week. I traveled for another day and was home Wednesday at midnight. I took it easy on Thursday and put some time back in the family bank expecting to get some long workouts in over the weekend but the weekend do go as planned


On Thursday night I started to smell a skunk like smell in my house. It didn't smell like what you smell when you drive by one dead in the road so I blamed it on the dog. I know...the dog gets blamed for everything but that is part of being a dog. When the smell didn't go away I thought that my furnace might be the problem so I turned it off. The next day the smell was very intense in my basement so I thought maybe its my hot water heater or an electrical problem so I called RG&E. The tech from RG&E showed up and said, "you've got a skunk man". For those of you saying DUH! You couldn't tell that was a skunk! I say to you, this was unlike anything I have ever smelled. By Saturday morning we had to leave our house. We were initially happy to have skunk problem and not a furnace or hot water tank problem until we realized what a mess the odor would be to get rid of and out of our house. For the next 7 days I was either working, cleaning the house or helping my wife with the laundry so I didn't get in any training over the next week. Sure I could have found some time to do something but I was tired and frustrated with the skunk situation. I won't go through the whole thing again because I wrote about it last week but it is still with us two weeks later. We are able to live in our house but we can still smell it from time to time.

Last week I did manage to get some minimal training in. I got in two pretty good swims and a few rides. Over the weekend I put in what I consider a good ride at a good pace for mid April. I road 55 miles at an average speed of 20.7. As my bike fitness improves and I continue to drop weight I am hoping to see my average speed somewhere around 22.5-23 mph. On Sunday I ran 13.2 miles at a 7:38 pace which is my best ever and I was only training keeping my heart rate at 75%. I am pretty excited about my progress this year and how I hope it will translate into finishing in the medals at more races this year.

I am trying to stay consistent this week as well by battling my desire to stay inside instead of going out for a run when it is 30 degrees out at 5:00 AM. I have my first real competitive multisport event coming up in two weeks so I'll get a chance to see if I am doing as well as I think I am or not.

That is all I have. Train smart and stay safe.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RIP Caballo Blanco & Getting Skunked

RIP CABALLO BLANCO

 
A few days ago someone I know posted on facebook that Caballo Blanco had been found dead in New Mexico after he had gone missing during a 12 mile run. For those who don't know who Caballo Blanco (Micah True) is.  He is one of the main characters in the non-fiction book "Born to Run". I started reading this book last fall while I was recovering from a running injury and the book and many of its characters reminded me why I love to run and opened my eyes to a different way of running that has kept me injury free for longer than I have ever been injury free as a runner. It reminded me that there is a time to run as fast as I can and there is a time to run at an easy pace, enjoy the run and take in everything around me. I enjoy both hard and easy runs but I to much hard running wears me down and catch myself running harder and harder all the time and this does take away from some of the enjoyment of running. I think this happens because I am competitive in every aspect of my life and I am always trying to one up myself and everyone around me.  Okay, I am starting to ramble on. Caballo Blanco was a guy who ran not to crush records or to make money but because it made him feel good. I sometimes wish I could spend all of my time training to be a triathlete but I need to make money so that I can pay my bills and take care of my family, so until I go pro (which will be NEVER) I need to juggle work and training .

The point I am trying to make is that I need to remind myself that it isn't always about how fast I can run 5, 10 or 15 miles. It is about enjoying my alone time. My favorite runs usually take place on trails when I can find them because I don't have to worry about getting run over and the view is a little better in the woods. For anyone who is taking the time to read this, remember to slow down from time to time and go for a long run. Speed work is important and makes you faster but so does running slow. I know this is true because most of my training this year has been done at a slower pace and when I have raced I have posted my fastest times ever.

Go out today and go for a nice easy run and if you haven't had a chance to read "Born to Run", get on it. It is a great book and changed the way I look at running.

GETTING SKUNKED

Last Thursday night I was hanging out with my three year old daughter and our dog Oliver while my wife was at the gym. I thought I smelled something skunky and told the dog to stop farting and took him outside. As the night went on I thought that I might have a furnace issue so I turned it off. In the morning I thought the smell had dissipated some so I left the furnace off. I was home at lunch that day and noticed that the smell had gotten significantly worse so I thought maybe the water heater was going or maybe I had an electrical problem. The smell was skunky but not skunky like you smell when you drive by a dead skunk on the road. I became more concerned about my house as I drove back to work so I grabbed my lap top and headed back home. My wife called RG&E to come out and check the gas and electric and when the tech showed up he looked at me, smiled and said you've got a skunk buddy. At first my wife and I were happy that we wouldn't need to dump a bunch of money into our furnace or buy a new hot water heater. Well, almost a week later we are not feeling the same way.

On Sunday I started ripping boards off my deck trying to find the source of the smell, knowing the smell inside wouldn't go away until the smell outside was eliminated. After removing about four boards I found a hole going under some bricks that looked like they could be part of my house. My wife and I went into minor panic mode at the though of a skunk being inside our house. After a few minutes of poking at the bricks with my shovel I realized that the bricks were not part of the house and just left there from some reason unknown to me. I moved each brick VERY CAREFULLY in an effort to not get sprayed. I moved the first brick and nothing but a stronger odor. I moved the second brick and nothing but more odor. At this point I can't see the end of the hole and I am thinking this sucker is in my house! I move the third brick and I SEE SOMETHING BLACK & WHITE! But it doesn't move. That is good news for me and bad news for my house. I didn't get sprayed but when a skunk dies and starts to decompose they release all of their spray and it just happened to be laying right up against the side of my house.

Today is Wednesday and we have been fighting the smell that has taken over every inch of my home and everything in it since Saturday. We have had to move into my in-laws house because our house now smells so bad it gives us a head ache. My wife has been doing laundry nonstop since Saturday and we have been back and forth going to our house to open windows during the day and close them at night because it has been getting so cold. I have a restoration company working with me to clean up the smell and so far we have hit a brick wall. Today he is coming out to try something new to eliminate the odor outside. Hopefully that will work so we can start getting back to our normal lives.

As a result I have done very little training this week and I am feeling very guilty about that. I guess it isn't the end of the world. I don't have any big races for a few months and plenty of time to get to the fitness level I'll be comfortable with.

I am going to be trying a sports drink that is new to me in the next week or two so stay tuned for my feed back.

Until then train smart and have fun doing it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

THE NEW BIKE, TRAINING & MUDDY RUNNING

TRAINING
Training has been going very well this year.  I haven't had any injuries yet which is a big plus.  Every year by this time I have a problem with my foot, hip or back but so far I have managed to avoid the frustration of not being able to workout.  I did catch a nasty chest cold from my daughter that slowed me down a lot over the weekend and since then I have had trouble getting back on to the training groove.  I am suddenly feeling the need to be lazy or I guess you could say I am not feeling very motivated.  This happens at some point every year and I am wondering what I can do differently to fight that little voice in my head that says, stay in bed.  You can run later and then later comes and the little voice says, you have been working hard.  One more day off isn't going to kill you.  I have only missed a few days here and there over the last few weeks but I don't want to let these little bumps in the road turn into a problem.  I think some sunny 70 degree days would help my state of mind.  I can't complain about the winter weather we have been having because winter hasn't really shown up this year.

THE NEW BIKE
So I have finally come to a decision regarding my new bike.  Yes, I know I have most likely put way to much thought into this but that is how I role when it comes to this kind of thing.  I have been wrestling with the idea of Trek, Felt or Blue since September.  I learned about the Felt DA4 about two months ago and I was intrigued by the integrated front end design.  What I discovered is that the Felt DA4 is a faster bike than the Trek Speed Concept 7 series but not as fast at the 9 series.  The Trek 7.8 comes with a pretty sweet set of Bontrager wheels but I already have my SRAM S60 wheel set so wheels are not an important factor.  The Felt DA4 does come with a nice set of aero wheels that I can use as back up wheels if I need them.  I will put the wheels that come with the Felt on my Serotta and us that bike for cruising with the guys when we are not training or for rides with my wife and daughter.  I plan on ordering the bike from The Bike Zone in Greece and can't say enough good stuff about them.  Chris who I spent the most time handled my thousands of questions without getting frustrated and my thousand questions don't come all at one time.  I think of something and call him then I think of something else and call again.  This went on for about four weeks and he never got sick of me calling.  At least he didn't let on that he did.  If you are looking for a good bike these guys are who you need to go see.  They now their stuff and will give you a good deal. 

What has two thumbs and will be super fast on...

THIS BIKE


WITH THESE WHEELS




THIS GUY



MUDDY RUNNING
I went for a trail run on Sunday expecting the ground to be somewhat frozen only to be surprised by the extreme amount of slop that I had to contend with.  I pulled into Black Creek Park and decided to start my run by going up the hill the kids sled down and found it to be a little sloppy but figured that is was just because of the low lying area.  I got to the top of the hill and started down one of the main trails that turned out to be very messy.  The upside to this was I found some great single track trails to run on for the first half hour of my 1.5 hour run.  After I finished up on the single track trails and got back onto the main trails where I spent half my time trying to avoid the water and mud by walking over logs and running through the brush.  About 45 minutes in I came to one of the larger wet spots and was about half way across balancing on a big fallen tree when this guy came glopping through the mud and water (I don't think glopping is a word but it fits).  He looked at me and said, "can't turn back now"!  At that moment I decided to man up and get wet and dirty.  Wet and dirty is a total understatement but the wet part wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I expected that my feet would freeze but they were fine.  By the end of the run my legs were toasted from pushing through the mud and slop.  I have run on the beach before and this was much harder.  It made this the hardest run I have been on at least a year and a half.  When I got home and showered I could feel the full effects of the run.  My muscles were sore from my feet to my hips.  I have new respect for the Tuff Mudder races.  They are only 10 miles long but running in the mud is no joke!

I am hoping I have a chance to try the minimalist running shoe offered by INOV-8 and give my thoughts.  Until then stay safe and enjoy your training!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 RACE SCHEDULE, TRAINING AND THE HUNT FOR DOC BROWN

I didn't do a lot of racing in 2011 for a number of reasons.  I was working 8:00 to 8:00 Monday through Friday and 9:00 to 1:00 on Saturday. I'm not complaining because that is part of owning a business. After spending that much time at work and away from my family I couldn't leave and go train so I chose my wife and daughter. I'd cram what I could into Saturday and Sunday but I over did it every weekend and ended up hurting myself. The end result was only doing a few races last year. I did Musselman but only did the Aqua Bike because of an injury that kept me from running. I did Shore Line and Finger Lakes even though I was injured and did pretty well all things considered.  So in 2011 I limped through three races with results I didn't feel all that great about.

2012 will be a much better year. The business that was bleeding my family dry in many was is thankfully no longer part of our lives so my work life balance is much better. This will allow me to train like I should, be injury free and post some fast times. My schedule is looking pretty good so far.

1) Flower City Challenge Duathlon (4/28)
2) Spring Classic Duathlon (5/19)
3) Musselman Half Ironman Triathlon (7/15)
4) Shoreline Sprint Triathlon (7/22)
5) Finger Lakes Olympic Distance Triathlon (9/9)
6) Ragnar 24 Hour Relay Race (I still need to fill the team roster) (9/28-9/29)
7) Rochester Autumn Classic Duathlon (10/7)

If my budget will allow it I will add a race or two out of the area. I have a friend doing a really tough race in Connecticut that I would love to do but I will have to wait and see what happens. I am sure I will add in a few random 10K races with my wife as we figure out what we are doing.

I have been trying to train smarter this year.  I would love to use a coach to train but I would rather spend the money I have a new bike this year.  Who knows what will happen.  Maybe I can get a new bike and use a coach.  For right now the new bike is priority # 1 so I am using the same plan I have used the last couple of years.  I am taking a different approach to the plan this year though.  I am actually using a heart rate monitor and following the suggested heart rate effort per workout.  What I have noticed is that I have worked too hard in previous years when I should have been just taking it easy.  A zone 2 effort workout is one of those runs or rides that you just lose yourself in.  I do get tired but my body is asking me to stop and as I get closer to the end I find myself going faster without pushing my heart rate any higher.  I hope this translates into a faster second half to my run splits this year. 

So far my run and swim are doing much better than at this time in previous years but I can't really make any judgement on my bike fitness without being on the road and that won't happen for a few more months.  I have gotten out on a few random road rides but that doesn't really count.  I did one ride with a friend who hasn't been spinning on his trainer and I was significantly faster than him so it appears that the long hours spent on the indoor trainer are paying off but I won't know for sure until I have put in a few good rides on the road.  If I can stay injury free this year I think this will be the best season I have had yet.

My hunt for Doc Brown is still on.  For those of you who didn't go to the movies during the 80's I am referring Doc Brown from Back to The Future and his time machine.  I am still searching for my time machine except mine won't take me back in time and it isn't a Dalorion.  I am hoping it will help me improve my bike split and prevent hip injuries this year.  I have narrowed my hunt to the Trek Speed Concept 7.8, Felt DA4 or the Blue Triad EX.  I am leaning towards the Trek and Felt  because of the wheels that come on the bike and that makes me lean a little bit more towards Trek because the Bontrager wheels that come on the bike are as good if not better than what I ride on today.  That is important because the SRAM wheels I have been riding for the last two years have broken spokes about 6 times and I had the carbon crack once last year.  SRAM has been great and sent me new wheels and even upgraded my wheel set but I still had problems after the upgrade so the wheels that come on what ever bike I go with need to be as fast as what I am riding today but stronger.  I know Trek can do it.  I am not sure about Felt and the Blue has a nice wheels set but they are not as nice as the wheels on the Trek.  I posted pictures of the bikes.  Let me know what you think by posting a comment.
Trek Speed Concept 7.8

Felt DA4

Blue Triad EX


Train smart and be safe out there!

Friday, January 13, 2012

MY QUEST FOR THE PERFECT SPEED MACHINE

So I started looking at new tri bikes about 3 weeks ago.  I thought by this time I would know what bike I wanted for sure but I am only somewhat sure of what I want.  I can compare this shopping experience to going out to dinner and looking over a large menu with a lot of options that sound really good.  Do I order something I am familiar with or do I go for something I have heard of before but I am not to sure about.  I also want to make sure I am getting the biggest bang from my buck.  That means I should being feeling very satisfied at the end of my meal and like I should maybe loosen my belt.

I first went to a bike shop I have been working with for years and looked at Specialized and Quintano Roo.  This was much different than buying my road bike 5 years ago.  When I bought my road bike the guy at the bike shop looked at my height and put me on a few bikes and asked me what felt the best and I ended up with the road bike I had wanted for more than half my life time.  Luckily for me I picked a bike that fit me very well.  Each shop I have been to has done some fitting analysis and some have been more detailed than others.  I road the Quintana Roo and thought is was okay and that is not what I want for the price or for a 118 mile bike leg of an Ironman.  I am sure the bike is perfect for some people but I didn't ride it and say to myself, "this is it"!

I have used the internet to do some looking around and I have read a lot of good stuff about Felt and Cervelo so I have sought them out at a number of bike shops but I keep running into one common statement.  That statement has been, Felt makes a great tri bike but you really need to look at the new Trek Speed Concept because it is the fastest bike out there.  I didn't listen right away because I haven't really seen Trek on the tri scene but spending some time with another bike shop owner I am about 80% sure that Trek might be the way to go.  Before I had a chance to ride the bike he put me through a much more detailed fitting process than the other guys and that is a plus in my book because the injuries I have had over the last year are partially related to bike positioning and I am hoping to have a much better season this year.

After getting fit and talking about the bikes I rode a Trek Speed Concept 7.5 and a Cervelo B14.  Both are awesome bikes for the money but the technology with Trek is really awesome.  I took the Trek out first and really liked the feel of the bike.  The Cervelo also felt really nice but the Trek seemed to have better shock absorption even though it is a stiffer bike.  So I like the feel of the Trek more but that is only one piece of the puzzle.  I also want to make sure the bike performs better than others aerodynamically.  Based on what I have read and heard Trek has the best aero design based on what I think I heard as YAW.  This refers to how the bike performs with side wind rather than just the head wind.

SOOOOOO....it has been a few months since I started writing this post.  I put my hunt for a new bike on the back burner and now I am on the hunt again.  Everything I wrote above is still true for the most part.  I think Trek makes a great bike but I am considering a few other options.  I am considering Blue and Kestrel.  I have a good friend who can get a great deal on both bikes.  He has ridden both bikes and has great stuff to say about them.  I rode his Blue and had an instant feeling of comfort on the bike I didn't get with the other bikes.  My only concern with the Blue is the fact that the seat post is pretty static.  That means that once you have been fit to the bike when it is built you can't change your seat height very much.  I know my seat has gone up some over the years and it may go up more or come down and I need to be able to make that change.  You could say that I want to make sure I can adjust my bike as my body changes.

The other conclusion I have come to is that the actual bike doesn't make that much of a difference.  Don't get me wrong.  It does help but the person riding the bike is a huge part of how fast the bike will go.  Things to take into consideration are how hard and fast can I push the peddles and what kind of wind drag do I create.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Shoe Review

It has been about two months since I purchased my Brooks Pure Connect minimalist running shoes.  I have put about 200 miles on them and have nothing but great things to say about them.  When I purchased the shoes the guy at the running store instructed me to take it easy and only do about 10% of my running in this shoe and build up over time.  That concept makes sense but I have trouble listening sometimes.  The day I bought the shoes I came home and went out for a quick 4.5 mile run and come to a couple of quick conclusions.  I realized is that the design of the shoe makes it much easier to strike with my mid and fore foot and forced me to take a shorter stride and increase my cadence.  Also, my feet felt great during and after my run.  My biggest concern when buying these shoes was how would my feet and body feel after putting in long miles.  I have added a few videos of me running in Black Creek Park to try and show what how my feet hit the ground.
video
video

I thought about gradually working into the new shoes but decided to listen to my body.  So far my body has told me that it likes the new shoes so I haven't gone back to my cushioned running shoes.  My calves were a little tight for the first couple of weeks but that passed and my hips, knees, ankles and feet have all felt better than they have in a long time.  I am not going to give all of the credit to my shoes but they do help.  The other reason I am feeling better is because I am running the right way.  I have a lot of friends who are struggling with injuries right now.  I have struggled with the same injuries in the past and think anyone who is sick of injuries getting in the way of training should give what I am doing some serious thought.

I can't say going out and buying minimalist style running shoes is going to fix every ones running related injuries.  I think you need to understand why you have the injuries and make the needed adjustments.  In my case I knew that I was a heel striker and that was a huge part of my problem.  My posture was another problem.  I was doing what some people call chasing my head, meaning I was leaning forward to far with my head down and in front of my feet.  Now, did I know this right away?  No shot!  I did my research and worked on my form which is still not perfect but much better than it was.

What I have noticed after making adjustments to my running form, technique and footwear is that my ailments have all gone away.  I have been gradually increasing my distance and the difficulty of my runs and I have continued to take note of some other positive changes.
1. My cadence has increased due to my shorter stride.  I thought this might make me feel more fatigue earlier in the run but I have come to notice that I feel better later in the run.  If I start feeling sluggish I pay attention to my cadence and make sure my stride isn't getting to stretched out.
2. My legs don't feel hammered at the end of a long run.  That is because my feet land under my hips and not out in front of me so I am hitting the ground with less force.  I am still tired at the end of a long run but minus any aches.

One question I do have is when do I replace my shoes?  Do I wait until the soles are worn out or do I do it sooner?

I am not saying this will work for every runner but if you are experiencing injuries every year it is worth looking into.  If you have an injury right now look at this hard and give it a try.  What do you have to lose.  I you have any questions let me know and I'll do my best to give you an answer.