Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breezy Day

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 88km]

My usual Friday run was abandoned as the weather deteriorated during the afternoon from a warm 32C day into a heavy rain with gusty winds.
It was a good excuse for a rest, it would probably do me good.

Saturday morning and the high winds and intermittent rain were still with us. This weather can be quite exhilarating to run in as well as a good test of mental resolve.
I got to the beach by 8am and the wind was blowing 35km/h from the north, it wasn't particularly cold as the north of the country will be warmer.

With the wind pushing me on the outbound leg it was hard to slow down to a regular pace. There were very few people out on the beach today as the waves crashed in and created big clouds of foam on the beach.
It was great running in and out of the water whenever I wanted to without panicking about getting shoes wet.

I turned around at the river then headed back straight into the wind. Here is the strange thing, I could run into it and I didn't feel that tired. With no dead weights on my feet it gave me more energy or at least didn't sap my energy to the same extent.
Usually if I am running into the wind I find myself stopping to catch my breath but this time I was fine.

I have taken a couple of photos of my new very comfortable Terra Plana shoes, one pair are the Aqua trainer that I can wear at the gym without attracting the attention of the gym police, the other pair are Oaks which are a more casual pair of shoes.
The only problem I have so far is that my jeans are now too long and have to be turned up and also the feeling of having to look up to people.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sandy 8km

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 80km]

Thursday evening and I was down at the beach after work at about 6pm.
The temperature was a pleasant 26C, the tide was out leaving a good amount of beach to run on.
I gave my calves a good workout, they felt pretty tight by the time I had run the 3.5km to the river exit.
The tendons at the back and around the ankle were also worked hard on the way back when I changed surfaces from hard wet sand to soft dry sand.
The more km's I can get under my belt the more the strength the lower leg should gain.
I am looking forward to reading beginning of the blog in 6 months time so I can get a picture of progress.

On my way back, running carefully down the gravel beach path, I passed a runner going in the other direction and got my first wisecrack, the not very original "You should try shoes".
I need to have a quick come back line such as "I've got them on, they are a new lightweight model".
My feet feel a little tender after tonight run but I'm sure they will be ok by tomorrow. They are starting to thicken up on the forefoot but I still need to take care to run correctly and relax, sometimes harder done than said.

My new Terra Plana shoes arrived last week and I have been wearing them at work during the week.
One thing I have noticed immediately is that I feel smaller.
As everyone else has heels of some kind I feel like I am looking up to everyone.
Another thing is that they are one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.
In my other shoes, if I stand up for an hour my back stars to ache and I need to sit down, yesterday I stood up for 4 hours watching a band and not once did my back ache.

It almost feels like a new discovery, which it is for me, shoes with heels are not good for your back, plain and simple.
What I don't understand is why has there not been more of a backlash against heeled shoes that cause weaker backs and future problems.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome Rain

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 72km]

Saturday morning I was greeted by grey sky and fine rain and much cooler weather than what we have been experiencing over the last couple of weeks.

I was feeling not the best after a late night and a few drinks in the city with work colleagues.
The best way of shaking a hangover off is fresh air and the best place for that is at the beach.
It was a great change to be driving to the beach with the cars windscreen wipers going.
It was good to feel the difference when your feet hit the floor and it is wet instead of dry and hot.
There was still warmth in the pavement despite the rain.
I covered about 8km today in light rain and low cloud, the sea was calm and far fewer people out on the beach.
I ran across the stony path alongside the beach towards the end before hitting the road for 500m. I was still a bit hesitant about running across the sharp stones but I was faster than the previous week.
So far I think I am covering about 20km/week barefoot which I am amazed at considering 4 months ago I had not even started.
I shall stay around this level for the next few months before going any further.
Thirty years of running in shoes that weaken your feet are not reversed in 3 months.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heat is on!

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 64km]

The weather warnings today were at level 'catastrophic' with temperatures of 43C and strong winds from the north, ideal conditions for a run!
I used to call the wind 'The Hairdryer' as if you have wet hair it would be completely dry in about 5 minutes.
I did find out that this northerly wind does have a name, it is called The Brickfielder, it usually heralds a change on the way.
If it rains it will coat the cars in a mud and grime that has been picked up from the deserts and fields north of the city.

I ran about 7km, it was tough on the return leg as I had to run directly into that Brickfielder wind.
I would say that it was a little cooler at the beach, maybe 39C.
Because the humidity is so low you use a large amount of water during a run.
You sweat but it dries almost instantly in the wind
I mainly drink water through the day and had a 600ml bottle before the run.
Still by the end the throat feels dry and constricted.
I had a second 600ml bottle in the car for when I got back, nothing can quench your thirst like water, not Coke, Juice or beer.
I felt that running barefoot actually helped in the heat as I ran with less weight to carry and I could run in the water whenever I needed to.
I'll keep on drinking water all through the evening to rehydrate, I also had a glass of GlucEvol when I got back to get a bit of energy back into the muscles.

Hopefully the next run will be a bit cooler.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Morning

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 57km]

Usually on a Saturday, by time I get out of the door to go for a run it can be from 10.30am onwards, but with this bout of hot weather it was prudent to make the effort to get out earlier.
I got down to the beach at 8am and already parking was scarce, the beach can get pretty crowded from first light.
The temperature was already 27C and heading up, its high for the day was about 39C.

I ran down the beach, a distance of about 3km, the turnaround point was the river then back for 4km and 1km on the road back to the car.

After running without shoes now for about 2 months I don't think I want to go back to put my feet in the prison of running shoes.
In the past it is not something I have spent much time considering, I just had not made the connection between all the injuries and the shoes.

My calves are feeling much stronger these days and I am looking forward to trying a bit of speed work over Christmas.

On the last kilometre I chose to run down a path alongside the beach, this path is stony gravel, it was an interesting test.
I ran with short strides fairly gingerly, the stones do press into your feet but not too badly.
Half the job is mental, it's the fear of stepping on sharp stones that makes it more likely that you will step wrong.
It was like the fear I had when I first took my shoes off to run, mainly because I hadn't done it before so had no idea what to expect. I had visions of Achilles tendons snapping, it didn't happen.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

At the beach

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 49km]

Another hot day, I will be getting used to them soon.
I headed down to the beach where there is a little relief provided by a light sea breeze.
I ran 7km with a few rests in between to catch my breath.
I was concentrating on my form.
The last time I was out I got some shin tightness as my stride was too wide, it eased off after I adjusted.
This time I set off with a shortened stride and as fast a leg speed as I could manage. I have read that the perfect cadence is 180 (total for both legs)per minute. I think I must have been going quite a bit faster than that as I got tired after 1km.
I concentrated on a short stride and higher knee lift.
Wow it really worked my calves, at one point I almost got cramp so walked for a short distance to recover.
The road felt hot on that 1km stretch even trying to move the legs faster so the feet spent more time off the ground.
I got back in one piece, feet were a bit worn looking but they will recover.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Hot Week

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 42km]

Just thought I'd post an image of the weather forecast for the week.
This is our spring weather and already it getting up into the steaming region.
Running in this temperature can get very hazardous.

I did about 4km at the beach this evening, the sand was soft and so gave my ankles a good workout.
I still find that it takes me a while to get into the right style and that I get some lower leg tightness at the front of the left leg.
I think it is because I am trying to consciously get my feet to land in a certain way rather than let them work it out on their own, does that make sense?

If the Friday forecast is correct I will postpone the Friday run and go on the bike instead.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Warm start

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 38km]

I tried some special blister plasters out on my foot last night, they did quite a good job of cushioning the blister so I could walk around quite easily.

Normally after a day when I have run home I take it easy the next day as I'm still a bit worn out, this time though, no problem.
It was a warm day today, even at 8.30am the temperature was 26C, it would be going up to 33C today.
I headed to the beach and ran 7km barefoot, I hardly felt the blisters even though the plaster came off in the water and sand.
I can really feel the stretch in my Achilles when I hit soft patches of sand, this is good as I was always nervous when I first tried no shoes as the tendon would complain noticeably.
I think I was the only one running without shoes today except for the surf life savers that were doing barefoot sprint drills up near their club. That was quite interesting watching that.
I shall have to do some sprinting in a couple of months once I have got more barefoot miles in my legs.
Here is photo of Henley Beach jetty where I do much of my running.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Home run

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 36km: Barefoot 31km]

Friday is the day I catch the bus into work the make my way back home on foot.
I packed my VFF's in my backpack and they stay there most of the day as I am not allowed to wear them at work.
I set off for my run at 4pm, weather was perfect, bright sunny, about 27C.

Last week I wore my Asics to run through the city (about 2km) to the river, then changed into the VFF's. I then ran about 8km before walking as my Achilles was a bit tender.
This time I ran the entire distance (12.5km)with short breaks for a drink along the way.
I did get a bit of shin tightness at first caused by not being relaxed in my running style, after about 4km the everything was fine.
About halfway I could feel the underside of my foot getting a little warm from rubbing on the shoes, would this be a blister or not.
I tried to land a bit more neutral and not push off as much with the toes.
I did have a blister on the ball of the right foot when I got back, not a really bad one but a blister non the less.
Next time I must remember to bring some talc to dust in my shoes to soak up any sweat and stop the friction.

I remember many years ago while doing a cross country race with spikes, I made the mistake of wearing no socks and putting some Vaseline on my toes with the idea that it would stop friction. Big mistake.
What happened was that the shoes had a great grip on the ground but my feet slid around inside the shoe and by the end I had a blister about 4 cm across.
To top that I had to run another race the next day. Not very pleasant. I think it would have been better if I had used talc.

Other than that the legs, knees and back feel good.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

They got me again

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 31km]

Well, yet again the gym police were buzzing all over me.
What misdemeanour's had I carried out this time.
Well, last time you will remember they said the VFF's were a no no in the 'gym', they could be dangerous, maybe they frighten people.
Ok, so I don't wear them now.
This time I work my Asics in, I went to the cardio area, took the shoes and socks off and dared running a couple of km on the running machine.
The intention was, as soon as I had finished to put the shoes back on and go and do a workout.
Soon the sirens were sounding and lights flashing, a foot had been spotted, this cry for freedom must be suppressed as soon as possible.

I did explain that I get shin and knee pain when I run in shoes, all to no avail.
Maybe the gym police are all get kickbacks from the shoes companies, while pretending the rule is for my own safety, can't trust those feet, might fall over.

After a brief workout I went for a run along the beach to cheer myself up, I wonder how long it will be before there is a beach police that bans barefoot people on the beach in case they hurt their feet on a stone or a shell.
After all I might sue the council responsible for not having sifted soft sand.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 27km]

Here is the information on the sort of temperatures to expect on various running surfaces on a warm day.
Much to my surprise, the surface which I expected to be the hottest wasn't.
With an ambient temperature of 37C when the measurements were taken I found the average temperatures to be in the following order.
Bitumen road was 41.9C
Concrete pavement 44.0C
Brick paving 48.6C
Bitumen path Black 49.3C

The theory I have on why the brick paving is hotter than the bitumen is that bitumen is a thin layer that distributes heat more evenly and quickly.
The brick retains the heat and can only dissipate it into the air above, the bricks are much thicker than bitumen.

So, if you are running barefoot in warmer weather stay on the bitumen rather than brick pavements.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Taking temperatures

Distance 3km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 27km]

In yet another hot day when the temperature peaked at about 37C I decided to go out at lunch time to measure the temperatures of the surfaces that I would expect to encounter during running without shoes.

I used a professional digital temperature meter with thermocouple probe but I believe that the recorded temperatures would be slightly lower that actual due to not having full ground contact as the feet would.

The ambient temp at the time of measurement was 35C. The surfaces I measured were bitumen, concrete paving and brick. I was actually surprised which surface was the hottest.
I will post the figures tomorrow once I have done some analysis.

I had a short 3km run today along the beach and road, by the time I got to the beach the temperature had halved from its peak, it was now 18C and blustery as the change came through.
The pavements retained their warmth though and that was actually quite welcome.
I'm enjoying the extra senses that the feet bring of texture and temperature, all these are masked when wearing shoes.
My feet have repaired themselves from the hot bricks pavements of yesterday, the padding on the heels is getting thicker I have noticed.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bindii Hazard

Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 24km]

Just had a walk down to the local shops, shoeless to get the feet accustomed to the hotter surfaces.
There was a nice grass verge alongside so as the feet were getting a bit hot I walked along there as an alternative, it was cool and refreshing until I stood on a patch of Bindii.
These are small weeds that grow in the winter amongst the grass, they flower and seed in the spring/summer. The seeds are small and sharply barbed.
I must have had about 50 of the things in my foot, I hopped around on the hot pavement and slowly pulled them all out, ouch.
You can see some of the seeds from Bindii weeds below, not nice customers

I don't know if thicker pads on the feet would help, maybe with some but not others.
I'm assuming that the bane of cyclists the "Three cornered jack" is of the same family. They are like natures equivalent of the police road spikes.
Which ever way they land they always have a sharp spike pointing upwards, standing on one would not be nice.
Here is a pic of my poor feet after a 1km walk on the pavements during this warm weather, maybe the VFF's might bes the best option after all.



Distance 0km [total: minimalist 23.5km: Barefoot 24km]

Just thought I'd post a photo of my favourite (and only) VFF's.
I'm sure I'm going to add more to the collection in the future.
I still think back to how scary it was to wear them the first time, but as with all things, confidence is the trick.
I cycled to the gym this morning in them and did a workout too, including lunges.
Interestingly the first time I tried lunges (with 30kg weight) I found it hard balancing as my feet were not strong enough to keep me steady.
In just three weeks that has changes, the lunges were no problem in fact I could balance on my toe tips for the front leg.

I have been keeping up the debate about whether to call yourself a barefoot runner if you wear shoes like this.
There are practicalities that need to be addressed with being completely barefoot.
One such is that here in Adelaide we are heading into the hot period of the year and the pavements get up to quite high temperatures under the sun.
From my 30 minute walk during the week when I blistered my feet from the heat I wondered if the feet can toughen up to walk on hot surfaces.
I need to do some temperature measurements to get some hard data on how hot the pavements get.
This will vary depending upon what the pavement is made from, we have Bitumen, Brick and Concrete.
At a guess I would think that the temperatures would follow in the same order from hottest to coolest.
I'll try to get some figures and post during the week.