Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Early morning

Distance 9.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 171km]

On the Monday evening I trotted off to the sports field across the road from my place to test the calf out to see if it was good to run on.
I was also going to practice the Pose style on these few laps to see how it felt.
This was the first time I had run barefoot around this field, I remember walking around it a few months ago to strengthen my feet and standing on all the seed cases dropped by the trees and how it hurt.
Big difference this time with tougher feet, it felt like soft carpet and I don't recall even feeling the bits and pieces that had fallen from the trees.
I think I had the correct form in that I concentrated on using the hamstrings to pull the leg from the ground rather than the quads.
I know this is the case as today I can feel the tightness in the hamstrings where they were being used.
I ran 6 laps around the field and the calf was fine.

I'd arranged to go on a run with a friend today, when I go on an early run, my idea of an early run is between 8.30am and 9.30am. He wanted to go at 7am, this would mean no breakfast before and I am no good without food in the morning. So I got out the GlucEvol and had a glass of that, it really is the best sports drink I have come across in that it causes no stomach problems at all and I can run without feeling like I'm going to fall over from lack of energy.
So, after a much interrupted nights sleep with various noisy neighbours letting off fireworks at midnight and beyond, talking loudly, a chorus of dogs barking etc I probably got a few hours sleep.

We got to the beach at 7.10am, there were plenty of people down there already to do their morning walks before the heat of the day kicks in (35C today).
Running with another person stops you from taking the little breaks you get accustomed to taking and makes you run a bit harder which is good.
The sand was cold at that time of day and the tide was out, a good running surface. My training partner ran in shoes and has worn orthotics for years, apparently he has about 8 pairs, must cost a fortune.
I showed him was you can do once you take that risk and throw the orthotics and shoes in the cupboard.
Learn to run correctly and you don't need them, you just have to overcome the dependency and fear.
We covered 7km today, feet were a bit tender underneath as I was running a bit faster than usual but they will be fine by the end of the day.
I think he was impressed with how it is possible to run without shoes but might be a bit conservative to take that next step.

On the Sunday I went to check out the open racing at the Bay-Sheffield held at Glenelg S.A between Christmas and New Year.
I was interested in taking photos so I could analyse whether the competitive runners were heel strikers or forefoot landers, from the series of photos taken it seems like the majority are forefoot landers.

Spectators on the first day of the Bay-Sheffield, the large crowd turns up for the finals the following day


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas day

Distance 10.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 162.5km]

Isn't it great to be able to get up on a Christmas day and to go to the beach for a run with a perfect temperature of 21C.
There was enough cloud around to keep the sun from burning me as quickly but it can still penetrate the clouds.
I ran 7km today (Friday), concentrating on keeping the heels light and most of the weight bearing pressure on the forefoot.
The tendons seemed to be ok, the soreness I was feeling over the last few days eased off and felt better for the rest of the day.

Out again on a sunny morning, back at the beach for a slightly longer run. I had a go at practising the pose stance for a while before setting off.
I am going to try to learn a different aspect of the pose style each month if I can, give it plenty of time to sink in.
I set off running from Grange to Henley and then to the Torrens River outlet. The stretch from Grange to Henley jetty I ran at a fast pace and was quite breathless for most of the distance.
The thing I find interesting is the almost subconscious way you seem to be able to avoid sharp stones along the shoreline, there were plenty of big and small stones around but I am not aware of ever feeling any of them beneath my feet.
On the return run I had to stop half way as I could feel either a muscle cramp in the calf of the beginnings of a pull.
It may have been because I was running faster than usual at the beginning and put more of a strain on the muscles.
I stopped immediately and gave it a light massage them walked the rest of the way back.
From past experience when the muscle is warm it doesn't hurt as much as when it has cooled down that is why stopping immediately is the best course of action.
I think I managed to avoid doing too much damage but I shall rest a day to see how it feels.
I got back and had some GlucEvol to get a bit of energy back into the muscles followed by a protein drink and then some L-Glutamine.
I'll see if this has helped at all in the next few days.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Calf strength

Distance 0km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 152km]

After my beach run on Monday it has taken until today for my lower legs and tendons to recover.
As I was emphasising the landing on the forefoot at each step and was running at a faster pace than before it put quite a bit of stress on the muscles and tendons.
They were sore as hell on the Tuesday, improved on the Wednesday but not fully and now today they are almost back to normal.
I'll leave it until tomorrow until I venture out again on the beach to give them 3 full days to recover.
I thinking of sending of for the Romanov Pose running DVD to see if I can improve my form and efficiency.
I'm pleased with my progress so far and I should set a goal for next year such as to participate in one of the races.
The big one in Adelaide is the City-Bay run, a 12km run from the city centre to Glenelg by the beach. It is one of the big runs of the year which most people use as a target for their training.


Monday, December 21, 2009


Distance 8km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 152km]

Finishing work by 4.20pm and at the beach by 5pm, it was a warm day of about 30C, slightly cooler at the beach.
The tide was out so there was a nice firm surface to run on. Only light breezes today rather than the strong southerly I've been pitted against on several occasions.

I tried to concentrate on how my feet contact the ground, emphasizing the forefoot but not toe running as that strains the tendons too much and you lose the power needed to get a good speed.

It is now almost 4 months since I first ran barefoot on the beach and now I feel far more comfortable.
The heel only contacts after the forefoot and then only lightly, the calves still are not strong enough to give me complete even contact and I am still aware of the tendons being worked hard.
I ran relatively fast over the 8km today, stopping briefly to catch my breath at the jetties.
I think it was this extra speed that made my feet a bit tender on the underside. They will be ok tomorrow.
I really need someone to look at my running style to tell me if I am running correctly, it feels natural but that is not objective enough.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Getting better

Distance 20km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 144km]

Thursday was a windy day after the early morning rain cleared up. The hot weather that we had earlier in the week when the temperature touched 40C broke on the Wednesday night with rain and thunderstorms leaving Thursday cool and wet.

I ran 8km along the beach and road on my circuit that takes me up and down the beach. The outbound part was into strong south westerly winds that whipped sand up and blasted it at my legs, I needed sunglasses to keep the wind and sand out of my eyes.

I recently came across a book that was written by English 50's & 60's runner Gordon Pirie.
It is long out of print but is available on the internet for free (legally). It is eye opening in that he was trying to promote correct running style for years and was saddened to see how the running shoe industry has made shoes that make that proper running style all but impossible. He blamed them for the millions of runners that end up injured each year.
One of his tips to correct running is to stand on your tip toes and lean forward, your leg will automatically move to a position to stop you falling and you will land on your forefoot. From there you just continue to keep moving and landing on the forefoot, but not, he emphasises on the toes.
The book is called "Running Fast and Injury Free' and I can recommend it.

Putting this into practice on my beach run it feels like you are gliding along, even running into strong wind it seems like you expend so little energy that I don't need to stop and catch my breath. What a contrast to when I had my runners on, they suck the energy out of you.
On the return journey the wind was blowing me along the beach but I actually preferred it when I had the headwind as I could control my stride length better.

I am far lighter on my feet now, running along the stony beach path is easier. A woman running the other way said "I must be a sucker for punishment", I just told her to tread lightly.
My feet no longer seem to get as much abrasive damage as they did a couple of months ago mainly due to the way my foot contacts the ground.

I missed my Friday run as I forgot some vital equipment, namely running shorts, I was also a bit pushed for time due to having a party on that evening.
So, Saturday morning, the sky is overcast but not cold, maybe 20C, good running weather.
I headed back to the beach but this time ran a longer course that took me north from the Jetty at Grange to Esplanade at Semaphore a distance of 6km, the beach is quieter up this way. I ran the entire distance without stopping then turned around and ran back.
When I set off I didn't feel that good, breakfast was only an hour earlier, and my tendons ached a bit from standing up all yesterday evening.
By the time I got back to Grange, I felt almost like I could go at racing speed. My legs and body are really responding well to shoeless running. If I ever buy any kind of running shoe again it must only be a lightweight racer with minimal padding. The only thing is that when you go into a sports store these days all you will find his heavily padded runners as people believe all the hype about the shock absorbing capability. Lets hope the enlightenment spreads.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekly Km

Distance 24.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 124km]

A little late in posting an update due to a lack of time.
I had two longer runs during the week and a shorter run of 4km on the beach on Monday.
The Thursday run was about 8km again along the beach during the evening.
It was a good run but the calves were a bit tight by the end of the beach section which just shows that it will take a while to get to full strength in both tendons and muscles.
On the Friday it was the longer run of the week from the city to home, the 12.5km distance.
Once again I used the VFF's for the city section as the place is littered with glass fragments.
I wasn't aware of any blisters this time in the VFF's by the time I got to take them off.
I was aware this time that my feet felt much more sensitive to the road surface. Maybe I was still recovering from the previous day but I didn't feel as fluid and I had a few pains around the ankle.
When I moved onto a rougher bitumen surface I had to take much smaller steps as my feet felt quite sore. I ran along the concrete gutter along the road as that was gentler on the feet.
In surveying the damage at the end of the run I did have a cut on the left foot, I wasn't aware of what had caused it but it was a bit sore. I covered it in iodine solution and now it seems to be on its way to healing.
I gave the calves a massage during the evening as they were tight, it did the trick and they felt much better after.
I postponed the Saturday run to let the legs and feet recover.
I shall venture out again on Monday for a short easy run.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The new day

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 40km: Barefoot 103.5km]

After a early night and a good sleep the feet have basically recovered, not 100% but maybe 80%.
The funny thing is I actually want to go out for a run, not like before when I was so exhausted from the long run the previous day I would usually want a rest.

It did take a bit of getting going once I got to the beach but after 1km I was back into a good stride and enjoying the cool water on the shoreline.

I covered 7km today with the feet feeling a bit sore by the end.
I can now give them a rest for a couple of days.

I shall have to consider how I run back on subsequent weeks, depending on the temperature it may not be practical to run barefoot because the road temperature may be too high.
I shall have to set a cut off point of say 28C for a max daytime temperature beyond which I keep the Vibrams on.
I am a bit concerned about the blister on the toe caused by the VFF's, that is the second time I have rubbed one up wearing shoes.
Maybe the great advocate of totally barefoot running Barefoot Ken Bob is correct in saying that any kind of shoes modifies your running to the detriment.
I am coming down more on this side after my 2+ months of experimenting.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Barefoot 8.5km

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 40km: Barefoot 96.5km]

Today was the day I planned to try a longer distance barefoot run.
It was perfect running weather, bright, sunny and about 23C.
After a full day at work and an early start to the day it can sometimes be quite tiring to then run about 12.5km home.

At just after 4pm I donned the Vibram FF so I could run through the city centre without attracting too much attention. There area also too many hazards in the city centre, plenty of glass and other sharp debris.
Last time I covered a longer distance in the VFF's I got some quite bad blisters due to the feet rubbing inside the shoes. This time I put some anti blister powder in to counter this.

I ran the 2km to the river then another 2km to take me past the South Road underpass.
At about half that distance I was aware of by right big toe rubbing inside the shoes so I took them off ad added a little more powder. By 4km I was sure It had given me a blister so the shoes came off and put in the backpack.
The path along the river is good quality bitumen mostly but in some places where it is older it gets a bit rough.

I had to adjust my running after taking the shoes off then settled back to an even pace, I soon began to forget I was running without shoes.
I did occasionally step on a sharp stone but nothing that caused any problem.
After about 5km my feet were feeling a bit tender and were starting to get a bit tired.

By 8km the spring had gone from my step and I couldn't land to heavily on the forefoot as it was getting more sensitive to the abrasive surface.
I ran along the road gutter when the road surface became the stone chip in tar finish as that is really hard on the feet.
I walked the last 200m and it felt good to get back. The feet were tired, sore and dirty.
I thought I'd take a photo of what 10km's does to the bottom of the feet. As you can see only one small blister on the right toe but even that was caused by the shoes.

I think a nights rest will help the recovery and we will see if I am up for a 7km run along the beach tomorrow. At the moment I don't feel that much up to it but tomorrow is a new day.

The feet look a lot better after being cleaned up, no cuts or punctures which is good.