Thursday, December 30, 2010

Almost years end

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 784.9km]

An un-timed 7km run today (because I rushed out and forgot my watch) on my usual road/beach combination.
It was going to be a warm 39C today so I set off at about 8.30am when it was still a very pleasant 24C.
The beach was a hive of activity at that time, parking was tight. The cafe's were full, lots of people on the beach walking dogs. The best part of the day.

I parked up at Grange jetty and ran along the Esplanade.
I felt pretty fast today and on a couple of occasions when I heard the tap tap tap of one of my shoed brethren just behind me I accelerated away and left them behind.
That will make sure they don't feel too superior wearing their new Nike or Asics :-)
After 3.5km on the road I had a slight ache in left calf, it might have been caused by some calf raised I did the day before in the gym.
I made it back without problem along the beach. I soaked the legs for a while in the water then cooled off by the cafe.

Tomorrow the heat is on again with a forecast 43C, not sure if I will run yet, see how I feel.

Neil

Monday, December 27, 2010

4km puff pant

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 777.9km]

Monday, ah holidays, great when you don't have to force yourself out of bed to go to work.
Three days of running, this time a short 4km dash along the beach.
I do need to get a bit more speed into my legs so I decided a shorter but faster paced run was called for.
The jetty to jetty distance is approximately 2km. To set off from cold is always tough and before long I was puffing and blowing. After a kilometre I settled down a bit, the breathing became a bit more even.
I covered the distance in 10m 20s. I did have a bit of a rest when I got to the end. I let my heart rate drop back to under 100 before setting off to cover the same distance again, this time with a tailwind.
My total time was 20m 36s, so, fairly consistent, that would give me an average of 5m 9s per kilometre.
My average heart rate was 140bpm with a max of 150 so I was working between 81% & 87% of my maximum.
As a comparison, my race on Christmas day was far more leisurely with an average of just 109bpm (gee that seems too low) and a max of 148bpm.

If I could keep that pace up I could do a 10km in around 51m
The question is, could I keep up that pace on the road, at the moment the answer would be no, but that is what training is about.

Neil

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Yearly totals

Distance 8.5km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 773.9km]

Well as the year draws to a close I should try to make an effort to work out approximately how many miles my feet have covered and if I need to buy a replacement pair in case the cushioning has started to deteriorate.

I put in an easy 8.5km along the road and beach today. There was a bit of competition with another barefoot beach runner but I just couldn't catch him, what's my excuse? he must have been younger.
I was concentrating on my form whereas I think he was just running flat out.

Maybe I should say that next year I should work on some more speed and set a goal to run the 13.6km Christmas day run in 70 minutes, that would mean knocking about 30s off my kilometre splits. Should be possible.

Well, the next race on the calender is the 4km Beach Bash in March, can I hit the 20 minute time for that one.

Neil

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day race

Distance 8.4km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 765.4km]

Finally after much anticipation my first low key race on the roads with some other keen runners who can get themselves out of bed long before dawn to get to the start line before 6am.

A calm day, overcast as far as I could tell in the dim morning light, about 20C.
A decent turnout of people, most would be running the longer distances of 13.6km and 21km. As it was my first barefoot race I stuck to the 8.4km.
I started at the back and tried to keep the adrenaline under control so I didn't mess up my stride.
I had no problem, the run went much faster than I thought. I had company of a friend of mine for 3/4 of the way around before he peeled off to do the 13.6km.
The feet were fine, as were the calves, it felt quite easy once I fell into a steady rhythm. Not a single cut or blister so I was very pleased with that.

I got home in a time of 48m 32s or 5:47/km, slower than my times of 20 years ago but it's a start. The objective was to get around the course rather than do a record time.
I didn't see any other bare feet around, I think Santa must have had sacks full of new runners for most people.



The feet are black but great, why do they get so dirty though?
Happy Christmas!

Neil

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Summer arrives, again

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 757km]

After a dip back into winter temperatures over the weekend when the mercury couldn't get above 20C and the wind and rain lashed down, next weekend is promising to have more typical summer weather, 30C-34C.

Today the temperature just scraped past 20C but the skies cleared of clouds that have blanketed Adelaide for the past four days, blown away by the strong southerly winds.

After work I headed to the beach to put in an 8km run. I kept to the pavements as I ran into the wind then came back along the beach with the wind pushing me forward.
I got a bit of stiffness in the left shin, must have been over-striding a little. This disappeared as I started the run back along the beach.
Had a bit of competition on the last 500m from another runner, as I had plenty of energy left I stepped on the accelerator and left them behind.
Feet are in good condition, not much or an indication that I do plenty of running with no shoes.

Neil

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Getting closer to Race

Distance 24km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 749km]

Well with just one week to go before my first real race with other participants how are things going.
During the week I did a short 4km run along the beach on the Monday.
I need to pick up the pace a little on these shorter runs as these are the ones where I am not going to get sloppy in my style as the distance is short.

On Wednesday I did a 8km run, for a change I ran the first half along the road. It was a bit breezy out on the beach so staying on the road was a bit more sheltered. After about 3km I took the path to the beach then ran 4.5km up the nice flat beach non stop before once more taking the path off the beach and continuing back to the start point along the road.
It took me around 55 minutes for the round trip.

Saturday morning and I'm met with grey skies and that southerly breeze again. It is ideal running weather though, not too hot or cold.
I put in 12km today on the run from Grange to Semaphore, a nice steady pace and recorded a time of 71 minutes or 8:52 per mile, not too bad. This would imply a time of around 50 minutes for the run next weekend.

Neil

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More km on the hard stuff

Distance 10km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 725km]

Saturday was a blustery cool day, the rain had held off though which was good.
Rather than go to the beach I chose to run along the linear park that follows the River to the sea, a run I had done about a month earlier and ended up with sore feet due to the rough surface.
This time I made sure I took small light steps and it did help. After the 8km distance I had just two small blisters at the main landing pressure points on each foot.
Some of the new laid bitumen on the re-vegetated parts of the linear park are a joy to run on, smooth and almost bouncy, but, then its back to the coarse stuff where you have to treat as lightly as you can.
I covered the 8km in 55 minutes, a bit slow, hopefully I can bring it down from there.

Sunday. The only bit of running I managed today was some Pose drills on the nearby field. I was in two minds about running at all today but glad I did, it just seems to energise you once you start to get the heart rate up.
I did a couple of laps as warm up then started the drills with 100m sprints in between.
The sprints feel excellent these days, choppy with good leg speed.
I remember about 5 years ago having a bit of a race comp with my young second cousins. I gave them all a 20m start then had to chase them up to a tree, around and back.
During one of the runs I was stretching my stride out to get the speed up and I locked my knee out and almost felt like I was pole vaulting over my knee, gee that was scary, and it hurt too.
That is one reason why it is so important to always run and land with the knees bent.

Neil

Monday, December 6, 2010

Form form form

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 715km]

Umm, I think I have pinpointed the problem that is causing the tendon soreness.
It's the form! I'm pushing too much quantity and not enough quality.

On my short beach run tonight, I just concentrated on feeling the hamstring pull all the way through and as I only ran a 4km distance I didn't lose my concentration due to fatigue.
I felt great this time, short strides with a fast leg speed and a definite pull. I felt no strain at all.
I believe just by leaving my foot on the ground too long there must be a slight push off which, over many repartitions, causes pain.

Revisiting Dr Romanov's Pose website, there is a vast amount more information on that covers all aspects of problems that can be encountered.
One thing I picked up on was the importance of practising rope skipping for calf resilience. Now being a somewhat uncoordinated person at times I have always found skipping hard. I think I find it hard due to the running, let me explain.
With running you are picking one foot up then the other, with skipping you have to pick both feet up and get it in time with a rope passing underneath them. Picking both feet up at the same time is not hard wired into my brain.
I can do some step skipping for a short period, where I move both feet separately and step through the rotating rope. I managed 13 'skips', hey, it's a start.

Lets see if by the end of the summer I can look back and see a big improvement.

Neil

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The heat!

Distance 12km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 711km]

A taste of things to come as the mercury rose to 38C today, even now, my thermometer is reading just under 32C at 9.30pm.
I tried to make an early start to get to the beach to do a 12km run but ended up getting there around 8.15am, 30 minutes earlier would have been better.
When I parked the car the next decision was should I take a bottle of water or just drink some now and see if I can hold out until I get back.
I decided on the latter.

The tide was getting near its low point for the day so there was plenty of nice flat sand to run on.
My tendons have been sore recently, maybe I'm not leaving enough time in between runs to recover fully.
I set off at a conservative pace in the warm morning air, already it was 28C. By the 3rd km I was getting thirsty, I managed to keep licking my lips to keep a bit of moisture there but I was starting to dehydrate. I got to the 6km halfway point and came off the beach and found a drinking fountain.
I filled up on plenty of water before setting off back.
The return journey was tough, my tendons were complaining, maybe I was tired and not running in the best form, I took occasional detours into the water to cool off.
By the time I got back the temperature was over 30c and I was exhausted, I could just keep up a slow trot

The pain I get is at the top of the tendons, where they join the lower calf, I may need to rest a bit longer next week, only do some short runs.
I really need to book in for a massage as well, I am long over due for some maintenance.
I am now certain that I will stick to the shortest distance in the Christmas day run.

Neil

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another 16km under foot

Distance 16km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 699km]

Thursday evening and just had a good run along the beach and back along the road from Grange to Henley on a warm sunny evening.
Even after a year since I first took my first tentative barefoot steps I still find my tendons and lower calves get sore by the time I am on the last couple of kilometres.
I would have thought by now that they would be sufficiently conditioned for it not to be an issue. Tonight's distance was 8km.
I don't think I could tackle longer distances completely barefoot at the moment.
Maybe I just need to get more distance in on the harder surfaces rather than favouring the beach.
Just checking back on my progress from 1 year ago, I'd just put in my first run from work at 12.5km around 4km with the Vibrams leaving 8.5km barefoot.
I do remember that run as my feet were so sore and blistered that I had to take it easy while they recovered.
Well, one year on, that distance on the road would still be quite a test, my feet would be in better condition.

On the Tuesday I put in a 8km mainly on the beach as there was plenty of nice firm sand to run on. The last kilometre was on the road. No injuries or problems with that run.

Neil

Sunday, November 28, 2010

River run

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 683km]

Sunday is here and it is still blowing outside so a run along the beach would be a battle with the wind in one direction and swept along going back.

For a change I decided to put a bit of variety in my routes and so drove a short distance to the river, about 4km from where it empties into the sea.
I parked the car at about 8am then set off. It took a while for my feet to wake up and to find the correct amount of pressure to land on the path with.

There were some nice smooth patches of bitumen along the river path then that would change to older rough surface that would was a bit more painful on the feet. I completed the 8km round trip in just over 50 minutes, not all that fast but my first priority was preserving the feet not speed.
I think I got a few curious looks along the way but no comments. I wore my compression gear as it was a bit chilly out when I started and I figured that it would also help the muscles if they got fatigued.
It would be good to get that 8km time down to 40 minutes and I think if I can get my feet more conditioned I can do it.
Only around 3 weeks now before the Christmas day race.

Neil

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Interesting week

Distance 28km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 675km]

After a bit of a break from the blog but not the running I better do an update to cover the last couple of weeks.
Last Saturday (20th) I put in a 12km beach run on a perfect morning, a little dull and cool when I set off but by the time I started on the return leg the sun had begun to warm the sand.
It was a slow start as I think my body needs a bit of time to wake up when I throw it into an early morning run. I had set off at about 7.45am.
Today was a rush day as after I finished the run I was due to get my haircut to my summer length. Then following that I headed to the gym and did an hours strength training. By midday I was due at a family barbecue, at least there I had a chance to relax.
Monday was a warm day of 33C, so a shorter beach run day was the exercise for the day. The sand was a little soft and there were plenty of obstacles in the form of beach goers. I felt a bit lacking in energy also probably due to the heat. There was a light breeze when running south along the beach, this became none existent on the return leg as I was running in the same direction as the breeze, now it felt hot.
I quit the run before the end covering around 4km.

Wednesday: I wake up at 5.40am after a warm night when the temperature stayed above 24C. I get out of bed and find pain coming from my left knee, not under the knee but more to the outer side. It was fine last night, what can happen overnight to cause this. I thought maybe I had been sleeping in a strange position and irritated a tendon.
I could hardly bend the knee, walking was very painful. I managed to make it into work. I also didn't feel 100%, my felt sort of queasy, it was hard to put my finger on, maybe I was coming down with a cold.

Thursday, the knee pain has mysteriously disappeared, only slightly discomfort remains, walking around is fine but there is a bit of burning feeling around the area. Still feeling a bit queasy though.
I went for a run along the beach, much cooler today at only around 23C, the leg was fine, no knee problems. I covered a distance of around 5km, not at my usual pace, I took it nice and easy.
When driving back from the beach I noticed a red blotchy patch in the area when I had my knee pain. On examination when I got back the area was covered in red spots.

After doing some research I believe I know what was happening.
I believe It was a viral infection of some kind, about a week previous I noticed I'd scraped my calf on something, I don't remember doing it which was odd, this must have been the entry method of the virus.
It must have lodged itself around the tendons in the knee, causing the pain. The body began to fight back and managed to eliminate the virus pushing it out through the skin near the knee.
On Friday I decided if the condition worsened that I would see the doctor on the Saturday.
Saturday is here and it is feeling better, the queasiness has also disappeared so no doctor for now.

The morning began with heavy rain, it began to ease off by 9am so I headed out to the beach to get some more barefoot miles in.
As usual when there is a change in the weather, the wind is blowing from the south. I started off slow and unenthusiastic, concentrating more on my form, speed was not on the cards due to the wind.

The thing I love about running is that no matter how rotten you feel when you start off, by the end, you are transformed, such was today.
I go to the river estuary then decided to do the return journey on the pavement. I was a bit cautious as it is at times when my feet are wet and softer that I rub up blisters.
I kept my steps short, light and as quick as I could and had no problems in the return 3.5km. The ankles and tendons felt good and by the time I got to my car I felt I could run the distance again.
Running can be compared to golf in so many ways, just when you think you have it all worked out, you make a subtle change and it all goes out of the window and you have to sit back and reassess.
I believe that sometimes I get tendon soreness when I push too hard, I try to race (or show off) and take larger steps, but still with knees bent and relaxed. This extra pressure is enough to cause strain in the tendons, it will fade off after a couple of days but it is a sign.

Neil

Monday, November 15, 2010

Around the lake

Distance 14.5km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 647km]

Saturday morning saw me have my first run around the artificial salt water lake at West Lakes.
It was an overcast day with some light spots of rain falling when I got to the lake at 8.15am.
I estimated the distance at around 5.7km (Measured on Google Earth). This is shorter than the 8km race at Christmas so I assume it must be following the pavement along the road rather than the path around the front of the lake. I shall check to see if that adds an extra couple of kilometres to the distance.

I started to develop a bit of soreness in the left ankle in the last couple of km, maybe I was pushing it a bit too much for a first go.
My feet were also getting a bit tender. They still need more distance on hard surfaces to toughen them up, I put most of my distance in on the sandy beaches
It took me around 35 minutes to do the loop.

After the loop of the lake, I still had a some energy left so I drove to the beach and ran a further 5km. I was going to try a faster run but took it easier so I didn't put any extra stress on my left ankle.

Monday found me at the beach again, not the best of runs this evening. Strong southerly winds blasted up the beach. The ankles and tendons still felt a bit achy so I kept a restrained pace.
I don't like these windy days as it is hard to get a steady rhythm because you are pushing into the wind on the way out and it is pushing you too fast on the way back.
The weather pattern should move over by the end of the week.

Neil

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Consistency Back!

Distance 24km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 632.5km]

After the longer Saturday run I did some drills on the Sunday, sticking to the basics of Change of Support, Pony, toe taps, Hops with a short run in between each drill.
It does pay to continue on with the drills even if you think your running form is good as it stops any bad habits creeping back, especially on the longer runs when you get tired.
After the drills I did a short 4km run, jetty to jetty and back. I need to get a bit more speed training under my sleeve so this was my first attempt.
I covered the 2km distance in 10 minutes and nearly exactly the same time the other way, now that is pretty consistent.
During the week I ran 8km on Monday, a good run but I felt pretty tired at the end, probably due to my early mornings and early lunch.
One thing is for sure insomnia is not a problem when you run in the evenings.

Wednesday: Put in another 8km along the beach. I'm making the best of the firm sand and low tide. I always like to finish off the run by a kilometre on the concrete to get my legs to adapt to the different surfaces automatically.

I am getting to feel much more relaxed in my running style now, I feel that I'm getting a natural leaning stance and only concentrating on pulling the feet from the ground. It feels good when you get into the correct stance, just falling forward without any pushing effort.
All I have to do now is learn how to stay relaxed when I get into the small unofficial little races that occur between runners when they are out on the beach training.

Neil

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Great saturday run

Distance 12km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 608.5km]

Ah, springtime, so much better than the winter. The ground isn't icy cold and foot numbing now, in fact soon I will have to start the running earlier in the morning to keep out of the strong sun and heat.
Today was a good day of running, I ran 12km, Grange to Semaphore, getting to the beach at 8am, still feeling a little sleepy when I set off.
The tide was on its way out which was good, the sand was a bit spongy in places but otherwise firm.
They had been training the horses earlier in the day so the beach had plenty of hoof prints all over it. Just had to make sure I didn't trip up by putting my foot into one as they make quite deep impressions.
Legs and feet felt good, just a little tender on the feet from the road running earlier in the week.
I need to do an early morning run around the lake at West Lakes as a preparation for the Christmas day run. The distance is about 8km but I want my feet to be fully recovered before I head out just to see what I can expect from the course.
My time for the 12km distance was an unspectacular 70 minutes but that was because I was running up and down the beach as well along. I could probably do it in and hour.

Each barefoot km I get under my belt is one where I get better. It is still only a relatively short time since my transition and I am looking forward to seeing what I am doing a year from now.

Neil

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yikes, blisters!

Distance 15km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 596.5km]

Wow, I thought I'd seen the last of blisters on my feet, I must have been doing something wrong this time!
Actually my feel were a bit tender from Thursday, the warm evening were I ran 8km, 5 of those km on the road, tender but not sore.

Forward to Saturday, the weather is cool, windy and rainy. I headed to the beach at 9am with the intention of doing 12km along the beach from Grange to Semaphore and back.
I was looking forward to a smooth flat expanse of beach but was met with an incoming tide, big waves and well trodden sand. I decided that this was all too hard, especially as I would have to battle a strong headwind on the way back. After running a few hundred metres up the beach I turned off the beach and back onto the road and changed direction and started running south into the wind.
I didn't have too many problems on the outbound leg but by the time I got to the river my feet were feeling a bit tender again.
On the way back I concentrated on getting my feet off the ground as quickly as possible.
Halfway back I was aware of the pressure on the balls of my feet and how they were starting to hurt. I slowed the pace and took shorter steps but found the wind pushing me forward was disturbing my natural rhythm.
I made it back to the car but my feet felt sore on the underneath, I wasn't sure if this was a blister of just some skin taken off because my feet were wet when I started running.
After getting home I checked the feet and I have a couple of small blisters on the bottom. I think they will be fine in a few days.
I think that as most of my running is on the sand that the feet need to be a bit tougher to handle longer distance on hard surfaces.
I'm still aiming to run the 8km Christmas Day run at West Lakes and that will be hard surface all the way. It is the shortest of the 3 distances they run that day so I shall be conservative rather than a hero, well, I'll decide in about 6 weeks time.

Neil

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fixed again

Distance 10km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 581.5km]

Well here we are at the end of a warm Thursday.
The temperature got up to 30C today, it would have been just below that when I set out on my late afternoon run.
Plenty of people out on the beach this afternoon on this unseasonally warm day.
A change is due in for tomorrow and that heralds a wet weekend ahead.
I ran 8km tonight on sand and pavement.
I think I have shaken off the tendon soreness in my right leg. I think it was due to bad form and calf weakness.

I kept up the concentration on form during this run but the mind does wander a bit as I got tired due to the heat. The feet were a little tender at the end as I had been running on some stony ground as well as the concrete.

Earlier in the week (Tuesday)I did a 40minute session of drills as I have let them slip over the past few weeks. I felt a bit rusty at them.
A little later that evening as I was heading out to the cinema to see a movie, I drove past the football stadium which has a training area east of the ground. What did I see but fellow Pose runner practising drills. If I hadn't been in a harry it would have been good to stop and compare notes.

Neil

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Tendon pain

Distance 0km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 571.5km]

umm, having a bit of enforced rest since midweek as I have developed a bit of pain in the right Achilles tendon, not enough to stop me walking around but the running causes it to increase.
I've tried doing reverse calf dips but that has not made much difference.
I thought at first it may have been caused by running on the soft sand over the course of a few weeks, the uneven surface means your feet and ankles must withstand the twisting.
It seems ok when I run on the pavement, a more uniform surface.
It could also be the fact that I boosted my distance up too quickly after coming back from the calf strains.
I may go back to doing more drills and less distance even though distance is what I really want to do.
The Achilles/ankle pain first became apparent when I went back to doing the longer home runs from work, a distance of around 13km.
I thought it was the VFF shoes that were causing it but maybe that wasn't the case. It may have been more to do with too much too soon.

Neil

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taste of heat to come!

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 571.5km]

A warm spring day today where I think the temperature peaked at 29C.
When you get a hot day in the middle of cooler weather it knocks you out a bit.

I wanted to get my runs out of the way early this week as the rain is heading in an the temperatures will be back down to 16C.
I went to the beach to run my 7km course. I didn't feel that energetic when I got there and I had a slight headache, maybe dehydration from not drinking much during the day.
What a revitaliser a run actually is, after a couple of km's the headache had gone and the energy returned.
The sand was soft and challenging at the north end of the beach turning into damper hard sand at the south end.
On the way back I avoided the soft sand by running along the brick path, it was a bit easier on the tendons as you don't need to balance as much on the firm surface.
The warmth is returning to the pavements and I wonder how long it will be before the heat gets too much to run barefoot.
I will be interested to see if my heat tolerance is better this time around and if I can move my feet faster.

Neil

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Anniversary

Distance 26.5km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 564.5km]

Well, I've made it to the first year anniversary of a new way of running and despite some of the setbacks I experienced along the way I can say that they were all learning experiences.
One year ago I could hardly even walk with bare feet on concrete without getting pains in the feet. They must have been so weakened over the years from the shoes and orthotics that they couldn't even cope with the most basic of things that feet were made to do.
This truly has been an interesting adventure.
One year ago, as now, the first of the spring weather was coming through.
At the beginning of October 2009 I went for my last run in my Asics running shoes, it was a short run of only 1km before my shins were so painful that I couldn't place my foot on the ground. I walked home angry and frustrated.
After running for 30 years I thought maybe I was getting too old and these were all the signs.
But no, that wasn't it. The blame lay with the shoe designers who have gradually been increasing the thickness and cushioning of the shoes over this period, making it impossible to run correctly.

Now on this anniversary date I am now teaching others how to run correctly.

Reviewing this week, on Wednesday I ran 7km against a strong southerly wind blowing up from the Antarctic, the tide was high and sand soft which made for a challenging run.
The return journey along the road was much better.
On the Friday I did my second run from work and this time it took me 1hour 25mins for the 12.5km shaving 12 minutes of last weeks run.
I was experiencing a little tendon pain in the right leg so will do a few calf raises to correct the imbalance.
On the Saturday the weather was calm sunny and warm.
I was going to do just a short 5km run but as it was so nice out there I did 7km.
My feet were getting a bit tender, a sign that I was moving my running distance up too fast. I'll ease back next week, I'll keep the total distance down to around 25km.
The forecast for Friday next week is cold, back to a winter temperature, I will make that a rest day.

Neil

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More km underfoot

Distance 23.5km [total: minimalist 128km: Barefoot 542km]

Just a quick summary of some of the running over the weekend.
The weather has shifted into Spring like temperatures, low 20's which is far more pleasant than the 15C we have been having for the last 3 months.
Friday the temperature got up to 21C and sunny, a perfect afternoon for a a run home from work.
I was a little worried that the distance might be a bit too much seeing as I have only been running 7km distances recently. I didn't want to overdo it and get injured again.

I ran through the city centre area with the Vibrams then removed them after 4km to run the rest of the distance barefoot.
It takes me about a kilometre or so to get into the rhythm when I do the switch as the Vibrams give the feet less feedback so you run with more force.
When you remove them, the ground feels hard because you have to re-adjust how you make contact with the ground.
I also tried out a little program on my Android phone called My Tracks a great little program that plots where you have run and gives statistics like average speed, distance, elevation.
The GPS is accurate to within 10m so that can give some strange off path movements but generally it is pretty good.
It told me the distance I ran was around 13.45km in around 1.5 hours. That sounds slow but I was not racing, I stopped plenty of times for a drink and to change out of shoes.
I did get a bit of pain in the lower calves but nothing came of it, it is usually a sign of bad running form.
The feet were a little sore after I got back but by the next day they were fine.

On the Saturday I ran a short 4km along the beach then back along the road as the very soft sand was quite tiring to run through.

On Monday, which was a public holiday, I ran a further 7km and felt pretty good, especially on the road section of the run. I even put on some good bursts of speed when I could hear the thud thud of some shod runners behind me.

If I can get my weekly distance up to around 30km by the end of the month I'll be well on my way to being able to complete the casual race on Christmas day.

Neil

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Distance increase

Distance 12km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 522.5km]

As the weather is slowly improving as we move deeper into spring I want to spend more time running rather than on treadmills at the gym.
Saturday morning and the weather is benign. a light covering of morning cloud and just a gently breeze rather than strong winds.
I thought I'd do a longer beach run today and see how I feel so I chose to run from Grange to Semaphore then back, a distance of exactly 12km.

The run was a success, although my right Achilles was aching a bit towards the end. That is to be expected as I have just run a distance of double what I have been doing in the past few months. I only had one short stop at the halfway point.
It took me 35mins on each leg with a few minutes added for a rest at the halfway mark.

I made sure I kept the knees well bent and only pulled the foot from the floor.

In the Pose running book there is a section on the psychology of running, how you should only concentrate on the present and not at some point in the future.
It is an important part of the jigsaw as if you let your mind drift you can end up losing your form and creating the situation that your mind predicted would happen in the future.
Only concentrate on how each foot contacts and lifts from the floor to make it as short a contact as possible, in that way there is less chance of injury to the calves or tendons.

Neil

Friday, September 24, 2010

Consistency

Distance 13km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 510.5km]

Well since the last posting I have had several runs that have gone quite well, no calf complaints at all.
Over last weekend I ran 7km on the Saturday, it was a beach run on firm sand with the tide at it's low point for the day.
The morning was cold and the sand was chilly as well so on the return journey I switched to run on the concrete pavement which was slightly warmer, it also gave the opportunity to see how fast I can adapt to different surfaces under foot.

I think now that my new running form is getting more and more engrained in my brain, maybe not permanent yet but give it one more year and the transition will be full.

Thursday Run:
A chilly evening with a very cold wind blowing from the south. I had intended to run about 7km again today but with the combination of the wind and the soft well trodden sand it wasn't very inspirational so I decided to save myself for a time when the weather was a bit better.
This time I covered about 4km and again came off the beach near the Henley Hotel to run back along the road.
I had plenty of company on the way back, lots of runners out this evening. I didn't offer up any competition as at the moment the shod runners take longer strides and will always try to assert their dominance on the 'weird' bloke with no shoes.
I just concentrated on keeping my landing light and springy.
It's always easy to tell if you are landing correctly as you should get no pain from the soles, no blisters or rubbing.
I remember only 9 months ago I was battling with blisters and sore feet because I didn't know how to land correctly. Your feet have to teach you.

Friday: I've not done any drills for a while so I should still put a session in once every week or two to ensure I'm still keeping the correct form. That is what I did tonight on the rugby field near home. I did drills for 30 minutes with short runs in between.
I sent of for some of the Skins compression tights to see if they are as good as they purport to be.
I bought them from a UK website as buying them in Australia is prohibitively expensive, I bought them and got then shipped over for half of the price I would have paid locally.
I use the long tights for recover to keep my calves compressed. I don't think I would like to wear the during my daytime runs as I prefer to have the sun on my legs.

Only a week or so from now and I pass the first anniversary of my change in running direction.

Neil

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cold weather dragging on

Distance 10km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 497.5km]

Since the last post I've put in two runs of about 5km each without any niggles in the calves so that is good.
I'm pretty sure I kicked off the problems with doing too much in the way of gym exercises without enough time for them to recover.

It chilly evening as I ran along the beach tonight.
The south wind was blowing cold air from the Antarctic, I didn't waste any time doing any drills tonight, I just set off into the headwind.
I did plan to go a bit further tonight but it felt so cold out there that it wasn't going to be any more enjoyable, save it for a day with some warm sun on my back.

I just came across one of the articles about flip-flops(thongs) making out how dangerous they are for your feet. It seems this is more rubbish from the podiatry community.
I had to add a comment to the end.
Flip-Flops

I think it is strange that in first world countries there are podiatrists on every street corner offering to sort your foot problems out.
I bet this doesn't happen in Africa or Thailand or Vietnam where flip-flop shoes would be more prevalent.
You would think that they would be rubbing their hands at the prospects of treating all those people who would have feet damages by those dreadful flip-flops.

Neil

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Interesting run

Distance 4.5km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 487.5km]

As we were in for some more wet weather in the next few days and as it had been a nice sunny day today I headed to the beach to give the legs a bit of a stretch.

When I got there it was close to high tide, there was a small strip of dry soft sand in the northern direction but towards the south the sea was lapping against the rocks.

The weather change was also heading in pretty quickly so I wasn't going to go too far.
As I made it to the area where the sea was about 6 inches deep I kept running through the water, good for testing out how sure footed you can be under unstable surfaces.
Ha, while negotiating one of the channels formed by the water as it ran back to the main body of water I misjudged how deep the sand would have been cut away. It wasn't a few inches as I thought but about 2 feet, so, I went straight over, crashing down into the water.
I was thoroughly soaked now but good other wise.
On the way back I was more cautious. The the rain started followed by a strong headwind that stayed with me for the 2km back up the beach.
I still found it thoroughly enjoyable, no worries about wreaking a pair of expensive running shoes just wet t-shirt and shorts.
So, covered about 4.5km, calves felt back to normal again.
I have a massage booked for tomorrow to iron out any kinks in the muscles.
I think the trick is to leave out the calf exercises at the gym, I probably don't need them.

Neil

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wild weather

Distance 10km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 483km]

Finally, I manage to have two runs on successive days without any calf problems.

Saturday morning - Feels mild outside, some sun but it is forecast to turn nasty by the afternoon.
I drove to the beach, the tide was far out and there was a nice flat beach to get my toes into.
The sand was a good temperature, not icy cold like on the days after a clear cold night.
I ran from my parking spot to the jetty at Henley then on to the Henley Hotel before turning around and running back, without any rest breaks.
The wind was against me on the way back but as I'm only taking small steps I hardly notice.
One thing I have to control is speed, my legs want to run faster and it pushes my heart rate over my training zone limit of 150bpm. I pull myself back mainly so I don't put too much stress on the muscle before it is fully recovered.
It was only as I was reaching the car after 5km that I got a slight feeling that if I had to do another km that I might get into trouble.
I gave the feet, ankles and calves a soak in the cold sea water.

The weather really deteriorated in the afternoon, high winds which shifted from the north around to the south, heavy rain. Trees were blown over, power was cut to many parts of the city. We have not seen a storm like this for many years.

Sunday. The storm had abated, blew itself out overnight. The morning sun was shining.
Usually I go to the gym on a Sunday morning but today I just felt like doing a few more km along the beach.
I repeated Saturdays run, feeling much better now. Any time I became aware of any message from the calves I put some more bend in the knees and slowed the cadence down.

Once again I chose the best part of the day for the run, during the afternoon the rainy weather returned.
I'll give the running a rest now until around Thursday when I'll try some more drills.

Neil

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to drills

Distance 2km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 473km]

Thursday, finally we have reached the Spring after what seemed like a long winter.
Ok ok I know Australian winters are mild by comparison to northern European winters, I guess I'm just a warm weather person.

We had some really nice spring weather on the Sunday, the sun shone all day and it was probably around 18-20C.
I went on a barefoot stroll along the beach for around 3 hours, no pressure of running just relaxing.
My feet must be quite tough now as I walk over shells and stones without hardly noticing them whereas my relatives who were with me were super sensitive to anything that wasn't fine sand.

Tonight I did some Pose drills on the field near home. Felt good but didn't do any fast sprints and didn't run much distance.
I gave my feet a soak in cold water after finishing off the drills then treated them to a massage and soak in warm water with magnesium.
No running tomorrow as we are in for some substantial rain that is due to last over the weekend.
I may see if I can get out over the weekend to see if the calf will hold up to a bit of distance.

Neil

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spring around the corner

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 471km]

Saturday and the sun was out and very inviting for a run along the beach to test the calf out.
Once again I chose a short distance on about 4km and disappointingly the pain returned at the halfway point again.
I gave it some massage and was able to complete the full distance but I had to be aware that if the pain increased to stop immediately.

I read an article on a sports injury website about muscle trigger points and I believe that this is my problem.
Trigger points are areas in the muscle that are knotted up and form a weak spot. The weak spot will be fine under normal conditions but as soon as the workload is increased such as running, this will be the area that causes the problem.
The solution is deep tissue massage and pressure applied to the trigger point area to straighten out the knot.
So it seems that maybe resting will not cure the problem, it needs a more pro-active solution.
Hopefully it is another lesson learned in my barefoot education.

August has been a training write off, I hope September brings better fortunes, especially as the better weather arrives and my urge to get out to run increases.

Neil

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Almost up and running

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 467km]

Just over two weeks from when I had the initial calf injury on the right leg, the run last Saturday showed that the right leg was fine but then the left leg then tightened up.

This time I ran only just over 1.5km before I registered tightness in the left calf. I did manage to keep going and run the full 4km today after some stretching and a little massage.

I'm beginning to suspect that the calf strains were caused by the rehabilitation and by the exercise I was doing before the runs.
Before the initial injury on the 12km run I had done calf raises the previous day.
After the injury I rested a few days before doing more calf exercises in the attempt to strengthen them. It may be that the very exercises that I was doing to stop calf injuries was in fact causing the injuries.

What I shall try now is no weight bearing exercises but keep up the calf stretching to see if that is the key to staying injury free.

Neil

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Test run

Distance 11km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 463km]

Well, after being out of action for around two weeks due to a sore calf I hit the beach again for a short run to see if it can hold itself together.
My last test run was a week previous and I was a little too enthusiastic in trying a 7km run
I managed only 4km before the calf pain returned.
So after another week passed where I did calf strengthening and stretching exercises along with applying heat cream most days I decided to try it out again.

The weather was awful, rain and strong winds blowing. The beach was empty and sand was blowing like a mist about 30cm from the surface.
The outbound run was easy as the wind pushed me all the way down, coming back was tougher but I still managed it without stopping.
I could still feel some tightness towards the end but not to the extent of last week, but there again I didn't run as far.
I think another week may be needed.

Neil

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Calf tightness

Distance 21km [total: minimalist 124km: Barefoot 452km]

A bit of a break since I last did an update to my progress.
Just reviewing what I did last week.
On the Sunday of last week I did some training drills on the nearby field, it was a bright sunny day, cool but not breezy.
I trained for half an hour doing jumping, hopping, balancing with 50 metre runs in between.

Rain was forecast for later in the week with Monday being the day with the best weather. I headed out to the beach and had a great run, down towards the river on the sand and back along the road on the way back.
The beach portion was tough as the sand was very soft and well trampled but by taking small steps with a fast cadence, you can almost get that floating above the sand feeling.
It takes longer covering the distance on the soft sand and by the time I got to the river it was getting dark so I decided that running back along the road would be better. It always takes a couple of minutes to adapt to the harder surface and then it becomes automatic.

I intended to book in for a leg massage on the Thursday but found that the therapy place that I go to were shut up until the end of August.
So, as Thursday was now free I decided to go on a longer run, this might have been a mistake but my mind had been made up as the weekend was due to be cold and wet and now the sun was out and it was a mild evening.

I ran on my circular river/beach route setting off from home at 5pm, it would be a 12km route.
When I used to run with shoes I would normally have to stop after 1km to rub my shins and stretch, I would then be fighting off shin soreness at regular 2km intervals, I could maybe shake the pain off after about 8km.
Now, wearing my VFF's (didn't want to be barefoot in the dark) I just ran all the way to the beach without a pause, no shin soreness or tiredness.
But then, calf tightness strikes. I was aware of it as I neared the beach, I stopped to stretch but it was too late, I would not be running back.
I was at the farthest part of the run. I had a 6km walk back.

The soreness was not bad enough to stop me walking so I would grade it as a No.1 strain on a scale of 3.
I walked using the pose method of letting gravity pull me forward. It took me an hour getting back.
It felt good to get out of the cold and dark, I'd cooled off during the walk and only had a t-shirt on when I left the house.

I rested over the weekend, just doing gym work. The calf feels good again now but I'll keep off it for another week, maybe just doing some light drills on the field.
Two steps forward one step back.

Neil

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunsets

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 112km: Barefoot 443km]

Monday evening and according to the weather people this is the last of the fine days before we get some cold wet weather heading in from the west.

I got to the beach at 5pm, the sun has about 20 minutes left before sunset. It's turning around now, the days are getting slightly lighter, minute by minute.
The tide was at its high water mark and there was not much beach at the lower end of the run.
The recent wild weather has pushed the sand dunes further back, erosion eating into them, a little bit more each year.
It was around there where I had to run in the water, only about 30cm deep.

No problems to report, the running is flowing much easier now, none of the aches and pains that marked the transition out of cushioned shoes.

I still find I have to heed the advice of Ken Bob when it comes to concentrating too much on my foot placement, relax, relax, relax, was the advice.
The more you think about how you are running the less well you seem to run.
One trick I have found when I find myself tensing too much is to let the arms go loose and floppy and then let that flow down to the legs.

I finished the 7km run off with a paddle in the water, which at this time of the year is pretty cold, I'd guess 10C. I paddled until my feet were too cold to work properly.
Then, back home in the car with the floor heaters on full as the reward.

There was a spectacular sunset on the Monday evening, its at times like that you wish you had a camera to capture it. The sky was clear except for a set of clouds on the horizon that were reflecting the sun that had just set, they turned flame red.

I'll see if I can squeeze another run in on the Thursday, or maybe just some training drills.

Neil

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two good runs

Distance 15km [total: minimalist 112km: Barefoot 436km]

Weekend here again.
I didn't get to do my usual run on the Friday as I had to get a tooth fixed during the afternoon.
I'm not sure if a run after that would have helped wear the anaesthetic off quicker or not.
Saturday morning took me a bit of a while to get going, I'm not good on these cold mornings.
The temperature had been down to 3C overnight. As I usually run in the mornings on the Saturday the sand would have been very cold today so I put the Vibrams on for the run today.
The tide was out and the sun was shining but not offering much warmth to the ground, it would take a full day of sun to warm the sand enough to run on.
I ran 8km today, some stats from my heart rate watch, average rate was 139 bpm through the run with a max of 161, that is getting up to the high end. Total calories burned 705kcal.

Sunday: I've not been turning up for the early morning beach run as at 8am it is really cold, probably about 8C.
A slow start, I only spring out of bed in the summer.
I did a session at the gym which included some balancing.
At 3.45pm I went out for a run, no shoes this time as the sand would have had chance to warm up.
This time I covered 7km, again average heart rate of 139 bpm topping out at 151 bpm.
Had slight stiffness in left calf but it came to nothing. 552 kcal burned.
Keeping the knees well bent ensures that you can't stretch your stride out too much.
I got into the zone where I had a good leg turnover or over 180 per minute. I want to practice getting that speed up higher over longer distances.
I feel I am getting a good compact running form now and just have to work on the stamina.
I'll rest now for a couple of days before getting out on the road again.

Neil

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cold feet

Distance 16km [total: minimalist 104km: Barefoot 429km]

A good week for getting out there and getting a few kilometres in.
On the Wednesday I did some drills on the field close to home.
There is not much light by the time I get home from work and by the time I have finished a 30 to 40 minute session it is dark.

I started with 3 warm up laps around the edge of the field and each time I would go around I would be harassed by two dogs being exercised by the owner who had no control of them. As soon as you turn on then and shout they run, dumb things.
I completed two sets of the Hops, pony and Change of Support with a short run in between each drill.
The grass felt freezing, at a guess I would say it would be about 8C but it felt colder and my feet were numb on the underside by the time I finished.
The reward is always after when you get back into the warm ans the life flows back into them.

On Thursday it was down to the beach before the few days of fine weather comes to an end later this evening.
I ran 7km, up to Grange jetty then back to the Torrens outlet then onto the road for the way back.
It was too dark to stay on the beach for the return journey as I can't see any obstacles in the low light.
I have no problem running on the hard surfaces now, in fact I quite enjoy the change of sensation of moving from the sand to the concrete.
I can hardly hear my footsteps on the ground as I move but I always hear the runners who 'pound the pavement' going my way or coming towards me.

The rain came later that night and it continued through the night and was still raining as I made my way to work.
I had to wear my old running shoes as I didn't want to get my Vivo Barefoot shoes wet as they are suede and not very waterproof.
Wow, the runners felt awful, heavy and with the high heel I felt clumsy and found walking in them awkward. How did I ever run in them I wondered.
I know now I can never go back to wearing shoes like that, maybe I can go for racing flats but I think I'll stick to the Vibrams on the wet days.

Saturday
Another beach run on a showery day.
I headed to to the beach via the hairdressers, it was dry and sunny when I went in but wet and cold when I came out.
Still I headed to the beach, the sun re-emerged. The tide was far out and there was plenty of flat sand to run on.
The sand was pretty cold though. After some quick warm ups I set off. By the time I'd covered about 3.5km my feet were numb on the underside and I always worry about them when I get no feedback. I found it easier running on the softer sand on the upper part of the beach than on the hard packed sand, there was less friction on my feet.
It began to rain, but once you are warm the rain is really not much of an inconvenience, it does stop you running on the hard surfaces though due to the wet feet being too soft.
You need harder dry feet to run barefoot.
It was a good satisfying run.

Neil

Thursday, June 17, 2010

8km loop

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 104km: Barefoot 413km]

A blustery Thursday afternoon was the setting for my run for the day.
I went on a loop course that took me 55 minutes in total with about 45 minutes being running time and 10 minutes of walking and waiting for traffic.
I followed the route in the map. Google maps is very good for working out distances as well and this route works out to exactly 8km


I ran wearing my VFF's concentrating on keeping the knees bent and stride short. I feel my form had deteriorated some what by the end. I felt a bit sore in the right Achilles but it was only temporary. I didn't get any problem from the calf at all.
I find it harder to run in the dark as it's not as easy to judge stride length.

Only one more week until the shortest day and then slowly the days will begin to lengthen, I'll be happier at that point.

Neil

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brrrrr

Distance 9km [total: minimalist 96km: Barefoot 413km]

Well, its the Queens Birthday long weekend and the weather is beautiful.
Clear blue sky and sun warming the air and ground from the chilly night.
The temperature dropped to 2C last night as it is going to again tonight.
I was in no hurry to get the the beach first thing for a run this morning, the longer I wait the more time the sun has a chance to warm the sand up.

I went for my run at 11.30am and the sun had worked its magic on the sand, it wasn't just above freezing and so I retained some feeling in my feet.
I ran a short 5km, just a bit longer than my 4km on Saturday just in case my calf strain reappeared.
It seemed fine now, kept my stride quick and choppy and it felt good.
I'm in the process of reading "Pose Method of Running" for the second time to see if I can pick up on some of the things I missed the first time around.
It would be great to find someone else who is at the same stage of learning the technique so we can correct each others errors.


Neil

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calf strain part 2

Distance 6km [total: minimalist 96km: Barefoot 404km]

After my home run on Friday last week I had a rest on the following day to allow for a bit more time for recovery.
My feet were great on the run as the ground was dry, it was a little cold in places but that makes you appreciate the warm patches of bitumen that have managed to absorb a bit of the suns energy during the day.

On the Sunday I located the small running group that are based around the Fitness Express Lane folk. I thought they had given it away for the winter so I had also stopped getting up so early to get to the beach.
I was assured they still turn up as regular as clockwork so there I was at 8am on a cool Sunday morning.
Eventually Tony turned up and that was all for that day. We ran up the beach and back covering about 4km. I was feeling much stronger than I did earlier in the year and didn't get left behind.
The sand was incredibly cold and my feet went numb underneath, it was actually warmer if I ran in the water, which is what I did on the way back.
I was about to put in a final sprint to Henley Jetty to give Tony a bit of competition when I felt a dull pain in my right calf. I stopped straight away.
I had a post run paddle in the now quite cold water. It didn't help much I had strained it and only rest will help now.

I rested during the week, only venturing out onto the sports field on the Thursday as it was feeling better.
I did some of the drills and sprints. About halfway through the pain returned so I stopped the sprints but carried on with the drills before cooling off.

This meant that the Friday run home was off for today. I took the lazy way, the motor car.
I may try a light run along the beach tomorrow depending on how it feels when I wake up tomorrow.

One thing I know is that it is not the running style that is causing it but more of a case of pushing the training up too quickly.
I need to gradually build up the base fitness, my problem is that I enjoy running so much I can't help but wanting to be out there running as much as possible.
I need to reign in my enthusiasm.

Neil

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

8km run

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 96km: Barefoot 398km]

Wednesday is usually a night I do a bit of gym work but I had a swap around and missed my Monday run so went out tonight.
The weather was far better tonight anyway.
I went on a route I'd not run for a couple of years. I donned the VFF's for the run, the ground is getting a little cold and as the light is fading it makes it harder to spot hazards on the path in front of me.
I covered around 8km, first along Grange Rd to the beach, along the beach then back along Trimmer Parade and Tapleys Hill road.
It was a good run, hardly get any stiffness in the tendons these days, I think the strengthening phase is almost complete now.

Now that I am gaining confidence in the technique and gaining the skill of running I need to get more speed into my legs, then I can start entering races again.

Using my mobile phone I got a relative to try to capture some moving video of my running style. It's not great video and really, to get a better idea if I am landing correctly, I need to be filmed by a moving camera that keeps pace with me. I'm not sure how to do that yet.

video

From the small portion of the video where I run past my landing seems ok when I pause the footage. At first I thought I was landing ahead, maybe I am.
I'll see if I can get some better video to analyse at a later date.

Neil

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wintery weather arrived

Distance 21km [total: minimalist 88km: Barefoot 398km]

While not quite in winter yet the weather has arrived early.
The end of the working week was cool and cloudy with the rain arriving on the Friday.

I don't mind running when it is raining, my usual provision is that it mustn't be raining when I set off but I don't mind if it rains once I have warmed up.
On the Friday though the rain started about an hour before I set of for my run home.
I did consider taking the easy option and catching public transport back but psyched myself up for an 1.5 hour run in the rain.
It wasn't too bad, I was wet through after a few km, the rain was steady but not torrential.
I gave barefoot running a try with wet feet but it doesn't really work.
The feet are too soft once wet and the ground feels much more abrasive, small stones that normally you don't notice suddenly hurt. I ran for around a kilometre then put the Vibrams back on again, which by this time were soaked.
They felt much better and I could run faster with them on tonight.

Saturday run:
Today was a day of strong westerly winds blowing from the sea and intermittent bursts of rain.
For a change I drove to West Beach, parking at the sailing club then ran to Glenelg and back along the beach.
It was very windswept and hardly anyone around. The tide was quite high and in places was right up at the rocks and I had to run through 30cm of surf. Towards Glenelg the water was too deep to run through so I had to run on the path. Once again I had the problem of the feet being too soft due to the wet surface. I retreated back to the beach where the surface was more forgiving.

I don't seem to suffer from stiff tendons at all these days, not even in the mornings when it was usually at its most acute.

Neil

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cooler weather

Distance 13km [total: minimalist 75.5km: Barefoot 389.5km]

During the week I managed to get a beach run in on the Monday that was a little disappointing, mainly because I had stiffness in the legs caused by doing some over enthusiastic stretching at the gym the day before.
At the time I was thinking how I was increasing my flexibility but what I forgot was that I was well warmed up from the exercise and I was stretching a little too far.
Now I had sore hamstrings and had to run 4km where the hamstrings are the main muscle used.
I did some warm up exercises, that made it feel a little better but I just didn't have the pulling power tonight. That coupled with the high tide and soft and wet sand seemed to drain my mental energy. Live to fight another day!

Thursday:
Legs feeling better now, the soreness has almost gone, it took a while though. I did some training on the rugby field across from home.
I'd also just had a massage as an attempt to get my muscles more balanced and less tense.
Tonight I just had my back done, in 5 weeks I'll book in again and get the legs done.
On the field I did 2 sets of Change of support, Pony and Hop in Place. In between each I did a 50m sprint.
These always feel like really good workouts by the end and I'm usually drenched in sweat.

Saturday:
I missed out on my usual Friday run as I had a dinner to go to later that evening and there would be no time for running from work.
So, Saturday is here and the sky is blue, temperature a bit cool, only 10C as I head to the beach.
The tide is far out this morning but it is not nice and flat, it is very well trodden, this may indicate that there was not much tidal activity during the night. Most of the footprints would have been made the previous day.
I ran south towards the river keeping a nice even tempo. On the way back I decided that the beach was too soft and I wanted a change in surface, the beach sand was also quite cold and my feet were numb underneath.
Running on the concrete path was much better, the concrete was still cold as it was still in the shadow of the houses. In places when I did pass over areas where the sun was shining on the ground I could feel the warmth.
At the Henley Hotel the pavement switches side of the road and was in the full sun and this was great as my feet started to warm through.
At Henley Square I got into a bit of a race with some runners who were coming up behind me while I was walking through the square having a break.
It is good to have a bit of competition, it made me run faster and I realise how easy I find running on hard surfaces now.
I stayed in front for about a kilometre before the passed me as I neared my car.
All in all a very satisfying run.

I am going to have to look around for a short race to enter that I can run barefoot, I think the spring would be a good time. It would also be close to my first year anniversary of ditching the shoes.

Neil

Friday, May 14, 2010

Feeling good

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 75.5km: Barefoot 376.5km]

I had my Friday afternoon run home in perfect late autumn weather.
The only drawback, if you can call it that is that the sun shines right in my eyes as I'm running in a westerly direction so it makes it very hard to see the ground in front of me.
I ran 3km in the Vibrams and removed them once away from the main roads and I was in the peace and quiet of the Linear Park.
The heat of the road surface that was there in the summer is long gone, there are areas that catch the afternoon sun and I can still feel a bit of warmth there, other areas are cold due to shade from trees.
My feet got me back and were unscathed at the end. I am learning how to run and be gentle on landing, it gets better every month.

My feet are looking a lot healthier these days, I can even get slight control over my little toe on the left foot. It takes a lot of concentration to move it but it can be done.

Neil

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tight again

Distance 20.5km [total: minimalist 72.5km: Barefoot 368km]


Well, another Friday is here and it's time to get the Vibrams on again for the 12.5km run from work.
The weather was good running weather, a temperature of about 20C, a bit of cloud around but some nice gentle afternoon sun.
The first half of the run was good, I can hold my efficient form now for much longer and it is almost getting to the stage of unconscious competence, up from the previous stage of conscious competence.
The running is easier I don't feel the jolting I felt when first running in the Vibrams, I'm running now with far springier bent knees.
I began to feel some calf tightness at about 6km so slowed down and gave it a massage, this helped and I could continue running at a reduced pace.
I think I may have been pushing the pace a bit too much on this longer run.
I gave the calf a good massage later in the evening, there was a knot in the lower muscle, I probably need a proper sports massage.

I rested up on the Saturday and decided to go for a run on the Sunday instead.
I headed down to the beach at 10.30am a great sunny day, warm with a northerly breeze blowing. I did my pose warm up exercises for 10 minutes then started out.
A runner going in the same direction passed me while I was warming up provided a bit of competition, he was a young guy, maybe early 20's, also running barefoot.
I did notice that he didn't have the pose running style, he was stretching out more.
This would be a good test to see if keeping up a good compact form and working with gravity would help.
It did, I raced past him but he put up a spirited fight and by the time I got to the jetty my heart rate was well above 160, I had to have a rest. He carried on going.
I need to do more of this fast paced running, hard though it is.
I took it easy for the rest of the way, just concentrating on keeping the correct feel.
I ran the last km along the gravel track and road. I have improved my road running from earlier in the year I can run quite fast without any kind of jarring or pain like I used to get with shoes.

Want to see how ridiculous the shoe industry is becoming, look no further than Z-Coil.
If it were April 1st you would surely thing it was a prank, but it isn't either.
I thought the Nike shoes with springs on the back were the dumbest things I had seen but now they have been surpassed by these beauties.




If these things don't land you in hospital within a year I would be truly amazed.
I wonder if a podiatrist is behind this design. As they are not "off the shelf" but customised to your own specifications this all sounds like lots of $$ to be spent.
How far away from nature have we travelled you have to wonder when we have to wear things like that just to walk.
I wish people could just see that you already have a shock absorption system built into your feet by nature over thousands of years, you just need to know how to use them.

Neil

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Winter around the corner

Distance 16km [total: minimalist 60.5km: Barefoot 360km]

I didn't go on my usual Friday run home from work as I had neglected to buy a weekly bus ticket and it would mean paying full price on the bus just for the privilege of running home, so I got in the car.
As it turned out Friday was a beautiful Autumn day.
I did do some training when I got home from work, I did drills and training sprints on the rugby field for around 45 minutes.
I did three sets of the three basic drills with a sprint in between each drill.

Saturday.
A cool bright summer morning and I headed to the beach at 8.15am with the intention of putting in a longer run to make up for the missed long run on Friday.
I would do the run from Grange Jetty to the Esplanade at Semaphore.
I had my Polar watch set in interval training mode, I'm still not sure how to interpret the various beeps it emits but I'm guessing that you have to do your fast burst during the furious beeping stage then ease off when it stops beeping.
I got about 5km from Grange when I suddenly felt some tightness in my calf during a sprint stage. I think I had strained the calf as the beach was quite uneven and maybe I hadn't recovered from yesterdays session.
I had to turn around and walk back, I managed a quick trot for the last few km.

The calf was sore for two days but the massage and cold water helped it. It seems it was a strain rather than anything more serious.
Monday I did a 4km run on very soft sand along the beach in the late afternoon. The calf seemed fine then.

Neil

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting the feel

Distance 10km [total: minimalist 60.5km: Barefoot 344km]

After a long weekend and not much training as I was in Melbourne visiting my brother who is over on a short holiday I managed to get out for a beach run on the Sunday.

Sunday was ANZAC Day and there were plenty of people walking along the beach.
The weather was perfect, sunny, light breeze, and low tide.
I always begin now by warming up doing some change of support, pony, and hop in place along with some light runs.
I now have a Polar heart rate monitor to help me see what area my heart rate is operating in while I am on my run.

I am finding it a lot easier getting into the right rhythm when I set off. I can feel my hamstrings doing the work now rather than the quads.
Looking at the footprints I leave behind I can see the weight is now on the forefoot with a lighter impression for the heel, this is a good sign.
I ran 8km today then soaked the lower legs in the sea, which is now starting to get colder. Will I be doing this in mid winter I wonder.

On Monday I did some training drills on the rugby oval. Three laps for a warm up then drills interspersed with sprints.
The pulse monitor showed that initially my heart rate goes up to 170bpm before settling back to a more regular 120bpm once I'm warmed up.
During the sprints I can push it up to 140bpm but that is still short of the maximum.
The coordination is much improved with the hop in place, I do 50 hops on each leg.
They are great exercises for getting the 'feel' of the hamstring working.
During the sprint I concentrate on getting the foot off the ground as quickly as I can feel it land, it is a great feeling when you get the timing right.
It feels light and effortless, not lung bursting like I experienced in the past.

Neil

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekend training

Distance 9km [total: minimalist 60.5km: Barefoot 334km]

After skipping a few runs during the week due to other commitments it was time to get back into in over the weekend.

On the Friday I'd been out having some drinks around the city and trying my best to limit my alcohol intake, it was tough and I ended up having about 4.5 pints of beer and some wine. I guess as I drink so little on most other occasions this would constitute binge drinking.

Despite drinking two large glasses of water on getting back I still woke in the morning not feeling the best.
It was a nice warm morning and I headed down to the beach. The tide was well out so there was plenty of flat sand to run on.
I felt a bit achy in the feet this time but it got better as I warmed up. I concentrated on form over speed and was fairly happy with the run but it was not the best.

Sunday:
Rather than go to the beach I walked across to the local field to do some drills this morning.
I started with 3 slow laps of the field to warm up then did sets of changing support, Pony, and Hop in Place.
I have improved my coordination on the Hop in Place over what I was doing a month ago.
I can now do fifty on each leg.
I'm much encouraged by this as it shows that I am getting a better feeling for when my hamstring is being activated, the reaction speed is faster.
This in turn helps the sprints in between the drills.

I remember when I first started doing the pose drills and running sprints in between some 3 months ago, I could feel a bit of pain in my lower back, this was caused because I didn't have the technique correct.

I am re-reading the Pose Running book again and am about 1/3 the way through it. I'm hoping to pick up on things that I missed the first time or that I will understand now whereas before I wouldn't.

Neil

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Zen moment

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 60.5km: Barefoot 325km]

While out running along the beach on Monday evening I got into the 'zone'.
I haven't felt this for quite a while now, maybe some years.
The tide was high but gradually retreating and sand was soft and spongy.
While on the return leg everything just felt right, I was taking short compact strides with a high cadence, there were not aches in the muscles or anything to distract me and it felt almost like floating across the ground.
It's at times like this that you feel you can just run and run. I'm hoping that this will be a more common occurrence as I get better at the Pose running style.

What I need to do now is get a digital video camera to record my running to see if it is correct or if it just my imagination that it is.

I also had a 4km run along the beach on the Sunday. It seems the small group that would turn up had wound itself up for the winter.
It was a very windy Sunday with a strong southerly blowing, but again, it doesn't bother me as much now that I am using gravity as an ally and not expending as much energy.

Neil

Friday, April 9, 2010

Barefoot friday

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 60.5km: Barefoot 317km]

Friday comes around once again and it is my first longer run since I was nursing a bruised foot.
The weather looked threatening, it had been raining hard for most of the morning and now sullen grey clouds hung low in the sky.

I set off from work at about 4.10pm, now we are off Daylight Saving it will be getting darker sooner, but should still be light by the time I get home at this time of year.

I had the vibrams on for the run through the city for glass protection, there is just so much of it around that the risk is too great. Once out on the river path I took off the shoes and ran the remaining 8k without the shoes.

The last time I did this distance without shoes was back in January I think, quite a few months ago.
I was interested to see how my feet would fare with all the extra training I have done to land more gently and not push off, it is the push off that causes friction and blisters.

Well, I ran it a lot quicker than I did before & I didn't feel the same fatigue that I felt last time.
The feet came through relatively unscathed, I had a very small blister on the right foot and a small scrape on the toe but that is about it.
Not bad considering the paths were covered in bits of trees, mud & stones from the recent heavy rain.
I am still aware that my form deteriorated as the distance gets greater but it has improved by leaps and bounds over the 3 months.
I can tell just because, as I mentioned, I don't feel worn out at the end.

Neil

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Training drills

Distance 2km [total: minimalist 56.5km: Barefoot 308.5km]

I have been out on the rugby field near home practicing the pose drills on Tuesday and Thursday.
I start the session with 3 laps at moderate pace around the field to warm up.
Then I practice 4 of the drills.
1. Change of Support.
2. Pony.
3. Hop in Place.
4. Forward Lunge.

In between each of those drills I run 80m, concentrating on getting my feet off the ground as quickly as possible after touching down.

I am starting to feel a difference. I am becoming aware of my hamstrings and if they are engaged correctly.
I can remember in the past when I used to practice fast sprints it was always my quads that ended up sore the next day, that is not the case now as I am not using them to same extent any more.
I am aware that my hamstrings start to get tired by the end of a training session.
My coordination is getting much better, I had trouble with the 'hop in place' initially, especially on the left leg. Tonight I managed to do sets of 50 hops on each leg.

I received an email from the Posetech website informing me that Dr Romanov was in Sydney to do a coaching session. I would have like to have gone but it is too short notice, the session is this weekend. Maybe next time.

Neil

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good again

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 56.5km: Barefoot 306.5km]

Well, I ran 7km this morning and no problems at all.
It definitely was a bruise on the underside of my foot, I could see the remnants of it as a slightly yellow area.
The jumping onto a hard surface probably wasn't the best of ideas at this early stage.
In the future I'll practice the jumping on a grass or sand surface, all this is, after all, a learning experience.

Funny how everyone was just waiting for me to get an injury to enable them to say "ah, told you so, barefoot running is dangerous and the injury proves it".

The injuries I used to suffer from were far more debilitating, the tendonitis, the shins that were so sore I couldn't touch them. The squeezed toes and blackened nails.
It has now been 6 months and I have had none of this.
I need to practice more of the Pose drills. I have about 4 of them I regularly do before a run but I need to expand my range.

Neil

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Almost better

Distance 6km [total: minimalist 56.5km: Barefoot 299.5km]

After spending about 5 days with foot pain I think I am almost back to fitness again.
Wow, I wish I knew what it was that I did. I think it must have been a bruise or ligament over extension.
It's not a good situation when you cant place any weight on your forefoot, it was affecting the muscles that ran down the shin so I had a pain there as well.

Today felt better so I went out to the beach for a walk in the sand to get some movement back.
It felt ok, no extra pain as I walked so I tried some short runs. I found that the running was better than the walking as it put less pressure on my foot.
I ran I would estimate about 3km and walked another 3km and now the foot feels fine.

I will have to be more gentle in the future until they have had at least a year of running without shoes or supported shoes. Then the ligaments and tendons will be far stronger.

Neil

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Foot injury

Distance 0km [total: minimalist 56.5km: Barefoot 293.5km]

For the first time since I took barefoot running/walking I have a small injury.
I must blame myself for this.

After my recent holiday and no real training for 10 days I had a had a concentrated period when I ran each day for 4 days, not huge distances 2km, 7km, 13km, 4km but I think that along with some jumping I did at the gym on the sunday I have a pain in my left foot.
It's under the forefoot and very hard to take any weight on it at the moment.
It could be one of two things, overstretched ligaments or some kind of stress fracture.
It has been sore now since Monday.
So, I am now on enforced rest until it sorts itself out.
I wouldn't have thought with what I was doing I could have caused any serious problem but you never know.



Above is a photo of a hike up to the Maitai Cave situated in the mountains above Nelson, N.Z.
I covered the whole distance, there and back without shoes, a total of about 4 hours walking.
It was really great feeling that connected with the ground you are walking over, feeling the temperature, texture and hardness or softness of the ground.
You don't really need to wear big thick hiking boots, it is good to walk quietly through a forest without heavy crunching of the ground.

Neil

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wet Sunday

Distance 11km [total: minimalist 56.5km: Barefoot 293.5km]


I believe I am getting to 'feel' the correct way of running more now but it still requires concentration.
If my mind wanders then I find I am not getting that correct feeling of pulling the leg from the ground.
It helps if you can hold a vision in your head of doing the static change of support drill and just get that feeling of shifting the body weight from one leg to the other while you are moving forward.
I ran 7km along the beach on the Saturday and even though I was tempted to get in races with others running along the beach, I resisted to concentrate more on the keeping a compact, efficient form.

After a late night I got myself out of bed to go on my social beach run at Henley at 8am.
I had my breakfast an hour before as I can't run without eating early in the day.
As I was driving to the beach it began to rain, it was not cold though so I didn't cancel my training.
It got to 8am and nobody showed up, it seems like I must be made of sterner stuff, the other have decided to be fair weather runners.
I felt a little stiff this morning but once I ran through some warm up drills I was fine.
I took the run nice and easy and once again just concentrated on keeping the compact, efficient movements and visualising the load shifting from leg to leg.
After the run I waded in the water to stop any stiffness build-up in the lower legs.

The barefoot miles are starting to accumulate now.
Maybe I should have a celebration when I get to the 1000km mark.

Neil

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday long run

Distance 12.5km [total: minimalist 56.5km: Barefoot 282.5km]

First week back at work after my holiday and it is time to do the longer run from work to home, the 12.5km distance.
Thankfully the temperature dropped from the high of 32C down to a more reasonable 28C.
The run went really well. I keep concentrating on pulling the leg from the ground and being as relaxed as I can when it comes to the landing.
It seems to lower the stress on the tendons when there is no 'push off' which is what you would expect.
Sitting here now, typing this I don't feel any fatigue from the run which must indicate that I am maybe becoming more efficient.
I will need to get the camera out again to check on the technique. I was not happy with shots last time, it looked like my landing was too far in front of my body.
I really need a video camera to be able to study the landing to get a true picture.

The results for the beach race I did before the holiday are out and I came 18th out of a field of 108,
I thought my time could have been better so next year I shall have to aim at a lower time. Hopefully by them my Pose technique will be that bit better.

Neil

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back from New Zealand

Distance 5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 282.5km]

After a two week holiday break in New Zealand it is time to get back to some training again.
I did a little practice while away which consisted of a run around Blue Lake at Rotorua, a distance of 5km. It was a bit of a spontaneous effort and I wasn't dressed for the occasion but it was a good run through the thickly vegetated lake edge.



I did start off barefoot but as I was unsure how long it was going to take I put my thin rock shoes on.
All the way I concentrated on lifting the legs with hamstrings as far as I could tell.

The only other bit of running I managed to squeeze in was some training around a running track at Inglewood, a small town close to New Plymouth.
The lady at the motel where I was staying the night picked up a key for me to use the facility, very thoughtful of her.



In the photo you can see Mount Taranaki in the background.
I found that the tartan track is quite abrasive and as I was training with no shoes on at first I noticed it was filing my feet away and they started to get a bit sore.
I did manage about 5 laps and some 100m shorter runs while practicing the Pose drills.
That was the extent of the running practice while away.

Neil

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Henley Beach Bash 2010

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 277.5km]

A beautiful evening for a run along the beach, 25C and a gentle breeze from the south west, there was only one problem and that was it was high tide and there was not much beach around.
The race was on the Friday at 6.30pm, the registration & refreshments table was set up in Henley Square and people slowly started to turn up from around 6pm.
I think in the end there were over 100 people that turned out to run the 4km from jetty to jetty and back.

I noted that, considering it was advertised as a 'beach' bash 95% of the people wore their running shoes.
I am sure it is harder to run in soft well trodden sand while wearing running shoes than it is to run in bare feet.
I also noted that at two points along the course that the tide had come in right up to the rock walls and was about thigh deep, that would lead to a lot of wet soggy running shoes.
As this was my first run in a paid for race in over 10 years I thought I'd start at the back. I was more interested to see if I could keep up my pose form rather than attempt to race off.
The race started promptly at 6.30pm and there was a burst as people jostled for position and to get on the thin area of semi firm sand where the waves were washing over the soft sand.
I ran in the soft sand for about 1km before moving over as the race stretched out.
On the outbound leg I was able to just about run through the knee deep water but by the time I got back to the same spot 10 minutes later it was nearly waist deep and the waves quite strong.
It was a good run, I don't know my exact finishing time as I left before the winners were announced but it was somewhere around 23.5 minutes. I think the soft sand and water obstacles would have lead to slower times than the previous year where I read that the tide was right out.
I think I managed to retain a semblance of correct form and it was a very enjoyable way to spend the early part of Friday evening.

Neil

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Race day nears

Distance 4km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 273.5km]

Sunday morning and I'm at the beach at 8am with my small group of beach runners.
It was a blowy start to the day, a change had come in overnight to drop the temperature down so it was only around 18C.

Its always a tough decision about whether to just run to keep up with the group or concentrate on getting the running style right.
I decided getting it right is better so I curbed the competitive edge and ran at my own pace.
What made it a little harder was the fact that the sand had not had time to warm up at this time of the morning and so the underside of my feet became numb after a kilometre.
Gee how do those barefoot runners on Youtube run on ice and in snow, must be a lot tougher than me.
On the way back from the jetty turn around point I found it was better to run in the water as the water was warmer than the sand so I got a bit of feeling back.

When I got back I waded into the water to get the calves and ankles submerged to squeeze out the lactic acid. This is a great recovery aid.

After that I put in some more drill practice.
My jumping is getting better. About 3 weeks ago I would still get pain in my lower back when jumping, it now seems to have almost disappeared.
At Henley square there are some stone steps about 30cm in height each, jumping up these is great for the calves.
It is a great confidence booster as you realise you do have the springiness in your legs to be able to cope with landing on hard surfaces. It is now more of a case of how far can I jump and how high.

How long ago was it when I used to get ankle pain running barefoot, must have been before Christmas, it's almost a distant memory. I am just amazed by how quickly the body adapts when you give it the freedom.
I just wonder what the podiatrist would think now if he saw I didn't need the orthotics or even the shoes these days.

Neil

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Training

Monday found me out on the cricket/rugby field practicing 3 of the pose drills.
The changing support, pony and hop in place.

When I first tried the drills I found them difficult to get right but as with all things practice practice practice is the only solution.
The Changing support I have no problem with, Pony is ok, the last drill Hop in Place the newest of the drills to me and shows up bias' in the legs.
It is harder to get the action correct on the left leg, the synchronisation can be really out as you have to pull the left leg up and make a small jump with the right leg.
After each of the drills I would run about 50m across the field.
I also practiced some jumping on the spot to improve muscle resilience.
I have actually improved my jumping from a few weeks ago where it would hurt my lower back. My calves now seem to have a bit more springiness in them.

I also practice while at work by running up the stairs but making sure I use the hamstrings to pull the support leg up rather the the quads to lift the whole leg up and I can say it makes a big difference. The former is definitely not as taxing, I'm not breathing as heavily.

Tonight I had a beach run, not the best. With the soft well trodden sand pulling the hamstring all the time is tiring. I think I must have been too conscious of the landing as I got some stiffness in the shin on the left leg but shook it off fairly quickly.
I observe other people running barefoot on the beach to study form, most just still stretch out in a long stride while I concentrate on keeping stride length short.
I'm not sure if my lean is correct, if it is a lean from the ankles or the waist (which is wrong).

Well it has only been about a month since I began reading the pose book and implementing the actions to change my style and so it is still very early days.

Neil