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.


Thursday, February 25, 2010


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.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

On the beach

Sunday again, wow another week has just flown buy and has another year as I add another year milestone onto my age.
Sunday finds me at the beach with the small group of runners that has adopted me :-)
We did the 4km from jetty to jetty and back.
The sand was a bit soft for my liking and so running with small strides is the only option even if I wanted to run with larger strides.

One thing I read in the Pose Method book which struck a chord with me was a bit about the psychology of running, what should be on your mind.
What is says is that you should keep your mind in the present moment by thinking about your movement, style, breathing etc.
Dont let it wander into the past or present to think about how tired you might be at the end of the race or any other tactics that you may want to employ as all this information can feed back to the present and modify your style to cause a self fulfilling prophecy and wreak your run.
This must be similar to say, tennis players who must only think of winning that one point that they are playing now, not what has happen prior to that or what may happen.
If you are down 6 games you still play like it is the first point in the first game, the same with running, don't worry about a bad start just concentrate on getting your movement correct now as that is all that exists.
I will practice more of this, but this time it was late nights and drinking a little too much beer that slowed me down.

On the Saturday I ran 4km along the beach and 2km along the pavement. I feel much lighter on my feet now, don't get the same scraping feeling on the surface, maybe as I am pulling my feet of the floor and using gravity more and not forcing myself forward using my feet.

In training on Thursday one trick I tried, from the book, was running with my hands clasped behind my back.
If you feel a difference between this and your normal 'pose' running then you are doing something wrong.

I missed out on my usual Friday run home as I went to the Fringe Festival opening parade through Adelaide's East End. After a few drinks and managing to miss my usual bus back at 11.45pm I had to get a bus that went in the approximate direction. I got off and had a 3km distance to get home. I had my flat Vivo Barefoot shoes on so set off running in a nice pace and I was amazed how easy it was to cover the distance after 5 pints of beer, not of course that I would recommend it, but just in case you are faced with that situation.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Not quite there yet

Out of interest I got someone to take a few photos as I was practicing some sprint drills on a field near my home.
It is always difficult to know how you are running when you don't have any objective external information.
From the shots in the photo below I would say that my style is still not correct. The leading leg is still pushing out too far in front of the body. The lean into the direction is not enough. In one shot it looks like I am about to land on my heel. I think maybe in the end, by the time contact was made that the foot was under the body. The grass, being a variable surface makes it look as though the foot is about to hit the ground.

I've almost finished the Pose Running book, I have been taking my time to allow the information to sink in.

On Thursday I ran 7km along the beach. Found it tough on the tendons as the sand was very soft and well trodden due to the numbers of people that had been on the beach in the hot weather.
I cooled off in the water after the run and it was quite chilly due to a cool southerly wind blowing.

Friday was my run home from work in the Vibrams and I can report that I felt quite good this time. Once again I kept in mind the lean forward idea and just pull up the legs then let them drop back.
It is very hard to 'feel' if that is in fact what I am doing as I mainly concentrate on the lift part.
Maybe a sign is how you feel at the end. I had no blisters or any foot soreness. I think the tenderness I get in the tendons is due to the fact I am still pushing off a bit rather than lifting the leg.
I'm sure it will come, with time.

A beautiful morning, 21C and sunny. I decided to do a run from Grange to Semaphore, a distance of about 6km there 6km back along the beach.
it took me just over 30 minutes to do the outbound run, it was on the way back that I realised I felt tired. I think the cumulative effect of yesterdays run and this early run had drained the strength from the legs.
I got halfway back and just had to walk.
I'd not anticipated this and so had not put any sunscreen on and so it was a race to get back under cover before the sun took too much out of my skin.
It felt good to get back. I might have a rest tomorrow rather than pushing myself out each day to add some more km to the record.


Friday, February 5, 2010


Today was my longer run home from work and even though it is too early in my change over to the Pose method I thought I'd try to modify my style as best as I can with the amount of knowledge I have so far.

The day was much cooler than some of the Fridays I have run back on, this time it was a pleasant 24C.
I kept reciting a mantra in my head to try to keep me in a better form.
In Pose you have to keep the feet under your centre of gravity, not out in front. The other thing is not pushing off with the foot to move forward but to lead forward and then let gravity take you in that direction and using your feet only as support.

I kept repeating "walking on hot coals" to remind me to pull my feet up as fast as I could and I kept visualising a wheel to remind me where my foot placement should be.

Well, how did I do? I'll try some self analysis.
I found it tiring the pulling the feet up and also, surprisingly, it makes your quads work quite hard but not from a lifting the leg.
When you land on the support leg the leg must be bent and so it is taking your bodyweight for a short period and this works it quite hard.

I think the style change was kinder on my tendons (although they still ached by the time I got back) as I reduced the pushing off from the foot.
I don't think I have the style mastered by a long shot but the main thing is that if you know that then you are in a position to improve it.
IT is hard to observe whether my support foot is in contact with the ground under my body or slightly in front.
What I need to do is get someone to take some photos while I am training to see how I look over the shorter distance runs.
I shall have to look into that next week.

I dunked the lower legs in a bucket cold water at the end of the run then gave the calves a massage.
I'll have a rest day tomorrow then go on my 4km social run on Sunday.


Thursday, February 4, 2010


Distance 2km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 269.5km]

I'm going to have to devote more time to getting the Pose technique correct from now on.
I think I almost have it right but my form slips in and out so it is going to have to be a case many repetition until I have retrained my brain to run correctly.
This is why in the book he recommends beginning the training at a point in time when you would not be doing much training anyway.
Fatigue is the greatest killer of correct form.
Tomorrow is my run home from work. I won't be able to keep up the style over that distance but I shall concentrate on holding it for as much of the distance as I can.
Wearing a backpack won't help as it moves the centre of gravity towards my back, maybe I need to lean forward more to counteract it, I'll have to experiment.

Tonight I practised on the field doing a series of the training poses followed by a run of 100m. I trained for about 45minutes then called it a day.
It is harder to hold the pose positions and do the support changes when barefoot as the foot muscles have to hold the entire body weight on the ball of one foot (keeping the heel off the ground if possible).
Swapping over quickly with emphasis on using the hamstrings for lifting rather than quads is tricky.
Anyway I'll be interested to look back on these entries in a couple of months to assess progress.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's coming together

Distance 8km [total: minimalist 44km: Barefoot 267.5km]

I put in a 7km beach run yesterday.
As usual it was blowy at the beach, I had intended to run from Grange to Semaphore and back which was about 10km but that meant the wind would be behind me on the way out and towards me on the way back, so I opted for my usual direction.
The run into the wind felt good, I can still remember how tiring I used to find it when my feet were locked away in heavy trainers.

I might have pushed it a bit hard as I approached the jetty as I felt a slight pain in the tendon so slowed down on the way down to the river estuary.
It was fine in the end, I think I just get a little jumpy if ever I feel anything that originates near the Achilles.

A few weeks ago I picked up some of the cheapest minimalist shoes ever I would say.
They are beach/rock shoes, made for walking around on slippery surfaces. I picked a pair up in the New Year sales for $7.50, reduced from about $12.50.
They are a slip on shoe made up of a rubber sole and a neoprene upper.
They are very flexible and of course no heel of any kind.
While not as roomy or as comfortable as the Vivo Barefoot shoes they also are less than 1/20 the price.
I photo of them is below:

I have been making steady progress through the book on Pose running and it is like a light suddenly coming on. I just want to get out there and try it and get it working.
I feel like a child on Christmas morning just waiting to get the presents opened.
I wasn't going to run today but instead have a rest but the excitement got the better of me.
It had been a hot day today but humid as well, a change was on its way in the form of thunder and rain. The rain came down at about 7pm, it was brief but heavy and had stopped about 15 minutes later.

At 8.30pm I was just itching to get out before the light completely faded to see if I could implement any of the techniques described in the book.
Well, what can I say. I think I did it. It felt significantly different from the running I have done so far, even barefoot.
I started from the relaxed, knees bent stance then leaned forward and concentrated on just using the hamstrings to pull the foot off the floor.
It felt like I was going like a rocket, more significantly it felt light and almost effortless.
I ran about 7 100m sprints before it got too dark. I then ran back on the concrete footpath, and, I sprinted along there. Once again it felt light, I could hardly hear my feet making contact with the ground. There was no jarring or shock up the legs.
It was incredible.
For the first time in my life I think I have learned to run properly.