Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday home run

Distance 16.5km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 259.5km]

Once again a warm day, too warm to be just barefoot.
I left work at about 4.40pm and put plenty of sunscreen on as the Australian sun is pretty aggressive.
The problem with sunscreens of course, while running is that if you put it over your face it drips off when you start sweating, when it gets into your eyes it can hurt like hell.
I had been using the P20 sunscreen that has to be put on 90 minutes before sun exposure. It's not sold over here but I can get my family to send some over at Christmas.
Recently I had switched to using Piz Buin 1 day long Sunscreen which you could put on your face and didn't cause the problem of stinging eyes when you sweat.
More recently I was sent some Piz Buin factor 30 sunscreen, I put this over my arms before setting off this evening. This has relevance later in the story.

Had slight discomfort in the tendons after a 5km on the hard surface. Even wearing the Vibram Five Fingers alters my running style I find.
I could feel the hot road surface coming up through the thin soles and was paying attention to the condition of my feet as the warmth would cause sweating and sweating leads to blisters.
The anti-blister powder I put in the shoes seems to work but I am still cautious. I haven't had a blister while running for well over a month now, this must be a good sign.
By the time I got to 10km I was staring to tire. I just kept my head down and concentrated on keeping up the steady if slow pace.
Running on the hard surface puts far more strain on your foot muscles. Mine are fine for short distances of 4km but as the distance increases so the fatigue sets in.
My feet felt very tired by the time I'd covered the 12.5km to home.
I gave them a refreshing dunking in a bucket of cold water to try and ward off any stiffness.

I turned up for a meeting with the fitness club people who run the 4km circuit from jetty to jetty.
They were kind to me today and ran along the beach rather than the road, I'd mentioned how I'd been clearing shards of glass from the path further up just the other day.
It really does make you move up a notch when running with others. I kept up a decent pace and did the 2km distance in 10 minutes, sure not that fast but I was happy running barefoot at that pace. My heart rate at the 2km mark was 155bpm.
Running back was a bit more relaxed at a slightly slower pace.
The cooling off in the sea was great to cap off the run.
From there it was to the coffee shop for a morning coffee and to relax and watch all the other morning runners and cyclists getting their training in.

Now, back to the sunscreen. I have noticed that I have had a reaction against it, coming up in hundreds of raised itching lumps over my arms where I had rubbed in the sunscreen.
From research on the internet this appears to be a not uncommon reaction to the Piz Buin Sunscreen.
I shall be throwing out this bottle. I have never had this happen before, it makes you wonder what harmful chemicals they put in there.
There seems to be nowhere to complain too about their product, I am honestly amazed they can put something out on the market without thorough testing.
My advice is to steer well clear of Piz Buin sunscreens unless you want to end up with an itching rash. Thanks guys, where is the defective product recall?

The photo above was taken 4 days after the sunscreen was put on the arm.
It is now day 5 and the lumps are still there but the redness is beginning to fade.


Thursday, January 28, 2010


Distance 7km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 243km]

Well, I've signed up for my first fun run, a 4km 'beach bash' on March 5th held at Henley Beach.
This will be my first paid for race in 10 years.

The last race I ran in as I recall was the Sterling 10km which is a race held in Autumn in the Adelaide hills village of Sterling.
A tough little race with a long hill climb about halfway around.
It was around there that I pulled a hamstring and after that I could never get into running races again due to constant injuries which then lead to the podiatrist office and the recommendation that if I didn't give up running my knees would be stuffed unless I bought super stable cushioned shoes and orthotics.

I had a 7km run along the beach tonight, it was warm and there was a moderate southerly wind blowing.
The tide was on it's way in so the sand was soft, dry and well trodden which makes for tough running as there is no stable surface.
I was feeling a bit of strain on the Achilles tendons by the end so I spent 15 minutes standing in the sea to let the cool water take away any pains.

It seems like the barefoot running revolution is starting to gain some traction with some articles appearing from different studies.
The tide may be starting to turn against the ridiculous designs that are now filling the sports stores that are more for fashion than any practical use.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Short break

Distance 10km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 236km]

Just had a short break to let any aches dissipate but I find that the need to get out there and run gets pretty strong.
I ran 8km at the beach on the Monday, it was a work shutdown day today making a four day weekend as it is Australia Day on the Tuesday.
The run went well, the tide was out leaving plenty of flat wet sand to run on.
I am much more aware of being careful about softening the feet in water then running on the hard concrete.
If I run on the beach I should stick to the beach the entire way or only have short stretches on the hard surfaces so not to wear away the skin.

I did some laps around the field this evening to try to get a bit more speed into the legs.
I really do need to get a stopwatch and measure my heart rate to see what the maximum is when I do a lap.
Started off with 3 warm up laps then some faster laps, maybe too fast for now.
It felt great to be running fast over the soft grass and feeling the different surfaces, from the dry parched areas to the more lush green patches.
In all I managed 10 laps before warming down and doing a lap on the concrete.

Running on the concrete is so much easier now, not long ago I couldn't even walk that far in barefeet on concrete without pain.
Throwing away the orthotics and running shoes has been the best move I have made so far.
I have had no injuries in 5 months or running and all my small chronic back aches have vanished since getting rid of the shoes with heels.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday Run

Distance 12km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 226km]

I differed my usual Saturday beach run because my tendons were a little sore from the run on the Friday, by Sunday they felt much better.
About 5 weeks earlier I'd called around to see an old work colleague who now runs a fitness centre, he mentioned that a small group go for a regular run on Sunday mornings at 8am, I thought I'd give it a go and be a bit sociable on one of my runs.

Sunday morning was cool, cloudy and very windy. I got to the beach by 8am and waited around for a familiar face. The group gradually assembled by 8.10am. I was the only shoeless one.
I assumed we would be running along the beach but we stuck to the pavements for a short 4km out and back run.
It was a good test to see if I could keep up with the shoe brigade, I did once I got into a regular rhythm. There was a patch of pavement that had lots of pieces of glass spread over a 30m section, I had to keep my eyes peeled to ensure I didn't land on any.
After the run the group went to seek their reward in the local coffee shop.
I being money less and shoe less said I would have a wade in the water.
I stayed in the water, which was quite warm, despite the strong southerly blowing, for about 20 minutes.

Now for the interesting part.
Every morning when I wake up and get out of bed my tendons are stiff and need about 5 minutes to get them working and can still be stiff during the day.
This time, there was no stiffness at all, not a hint and the only thing I can put it down to is the cold water paddle after the run.
I have seen the footballers doing that after a game, the whole team goes to the beach and stands around in the water (in Winter when the water is much much colder).

Out at the beach again tonight, the wind is still blowing strongly from the south and the para sailors are all out on the beach catching the wind.
I ran 8km this evening and once again spent 20 minutes wading through knee deep water to see if it will ward off any stiffness the next day. I shall soon find out.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekly outings

Distance 22km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 214km] Week 3

My usual run on a Monday was postponed due to excessive temperature as the mercury tipped the 40C point. It is hard work running in that sort of temperature.

Wednesday, 12-Jan: 5km
My first run of the week was on Wednesday, they cool change had come in and the temp was a far more manageable 25C although that was accompanied by the wind blowing from the south once again.
I ran north first with a tailwind for about a kilometre which was easy then turned around to face into the wind and run the 2.5km to Henley jetty before once more turning around and letting the tailwind blow me back up the beach.
I did encounter some Achilles soreness towards the end but that was only temporary.

Thursday, 13-Jan: 4.5km
On Thursday my outing was on the rugby field next to my flat.
The weather was a pleasant 29C and a blue sky evening. I wanted to try a bit of faster running on the laps around the field.
I estimate that the field would be about 200m around the outside.
I would run steadily for 100m then push up the speed for the last 100m.

I read that in interval training that you use your heart rate as a monitor of fitness level. If that is the case then I need to do quite a lot of work.
I didn't actually measure my heart rate but the rule of thumb is to run the fast interval to push the heart rate up to about 170bpm then rest until the heart rate drops to about 120bpm before repeating the drill.
I doubt I managed to get my heart rate up that high, maybe 150bpm, by the time I did a lap I needed about 60s to recover. That is slow.
All this was done barefoot of course and it does feel great to be racing over the soft grass with your feet grasping at the soft grass under foot.
I ran just over 11 laps before calling it a day, the ankles and tendons were fine but I knew they would be stiff the next day.

Friday, 14-Jan: 12.5km
After wearing my flat Terra Plana shoes for most of the time over the last few months, putting my Asics on again does not feel good, they feel heavy and clumsy and run against the tendon at the back.
I wear the runners into work with the intention of leaving them there while I run back in the Vibrams.
The decision I had not made at that point was whether to wear them the entire way or go barefoot when out of the city centre.
Two things swayed my decision today, firstly the temp hit about 32C today so the surface temperatures would be hot secondly was an article I read regarding conditioning of the feet.
The article said only run barefoot on hard abrasive surfaces when the feet are dry and hard.
If you get your feet wet they will soften and be more susceptible to be worn away by the surface and will hurt.
As I had been at work most of the day with shoes and socks on the feet would be softer than if I had them in open air. Then putting the Vibrams on to run the 4km through the city, again they would be too soft for the hard surface.

As I was running past the brewery about 4km into the run there is a patch where I run past some factories, here the sun was beating down onto a brick pavement that was strewn with fragments of glass. The stretch was about 200m, the pavement was hot, I could feel the heat coming up through the shoes and my feet getting hotter and hotter.
The worry when your feet heat up is of course blisters, I wanted to avoid them at all costs. I got past this hot dangerous piece of pathway and found a nice shady spot to let the feet cool down before setting off again.
I'd put a liberal amount of anti-blister powder in my shoes before setting off and this soaked up most of the moisture generated as my feet heated up.
I felt pretty exhausted by the time I got back, mainly due to the temperature.
I was probably dehydrated as I only drank the 600ml of water I took with me.

Saturday, 15-Jan
I passed up on my run today as once again I was hobbling around shortly after getting up. It takes about 10 minutes of walking around before the tendons allow the feet to operate correctly.
I need to get some calf massage done to ease the tightness and release the pressure on the Achilles.
Thirty years of wearing incorrect footwear is not fixed in 4 months. I'm hoping I shall look back on this blog in another 6 months and try to remember what the problem was.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

More heat

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 192km]

Saturday morning and after a late night I manage to push myself out of bed at 6.30am and drink a glass of GlucEvol so I can get out to the beach and run before the heat kicks in.
At 7am the temperature was just perfect at about 22C. The beach was busy with the early morning people taking the dogs out for walks.
It takes me a good while in the mornings to get the strength back into my calves and tendons.
They are still in a transition phase and are tight and rather fragile in the morning so getting out of bed I have to take small steps to ease things back to life.
I decided that there would be no higher tempo running today as earlier in the week, while running 7km along the beach I got the dull ache in the calf so there is still a bit of repair needed.
I'm actually not sure if it is a strain or some kind of cramp and maybe I need more magnesium.
I have been taking magnesium tablets but they ran out around a month ago. I hoped that maybe the magnesium in the Chia seeds would be sufficient.
I will order some more tablets and see if they make any difference.
I felt a slight pain in the calf on this run but eased back and gave it a rub as soon as I felt it.
I managed a good 8km today, nice and easy. Felt warmer by the time I finished and now the temperature is up to 40C outside.
Tomorrow and Monday we are expecting 43C. I need to get more heat training under my belt to acclimatise.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winds are back

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 184km]

Once more to the beach where the wind was blowing strongly from the south.
This is a regular pattern once a high pressure system moves to the right of South Australia.
As it is positioned directly over the top the heat builds up to the high 30's to low 40's, as it starts to move to the right then the hot northerly winds blow down from the desert then finally, as the next system moves in the winds reverse and blow from the south, these are the cooler ones from the Antarctic.
So, the temperature today was in the low 20's and the strong wind was there.
I ran 7km today but still lacked a bit of bounce, I need a day or two rest and more calf strength training.
Outbound part of the run was into the wind and so running back was easy with the wind behind me.
I just couldn't lift my heels of the ground as much as I wanted to, or rather they were touching the ground a bit too heavily, my foot in a more neutral position rather than forefoot biased.
I think in a couple of months the tendons should be strong enough to run longer distances with the correct stance but I must take it slowly despite my keenness to get more miles in.


Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year

Distance 6km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 177km]

After a late night celebrating New Year I dragged myself up and went for a New Years day run on the beach.
Not the best of runs today, only did around 6km.
Legs felt a bit stiff in the calves so I took it at a steady pace, I seemed to lack a bit of the bounce I'd been experiencing when running around the local field.
I did run in some very soft sand for the last 500m to give myself a bit of hard work.

I've sent off for the book of Dr Romanov on Pose running to get a fuller description of the logic and reasoning behind it.
I have also bought some of the elastic tubing to use for hamstring strengthening exercises.
While doing some after Christmas shopping I wandered into one or two running stores. It is so disappointing to find that the design of running shoes is getting more and more ridiculous.
I wonder if the designers actually ever run in the shoes they design, or whether all they are designed for is to attract the eye of the fashion oriented consumer.
I asked in the stores I went in whether I could buy racing flats, years ago I would have been greeted with a decent choice of light flat shoes, now, I get puzzled looks and they say they are too specialised to be stocked.

Well, all it means is I will not be spending any $$ in running shops for the foreseeable future.