Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hot Morning!

Distance 28km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 913.4km] Week 5

Monday, 24-Jan. Drills
 I did some Pose drills and sprints on the local field. Last time I did some drills it felt awful but I think that may have been because my back was sore after the first day back at work and sitting down all day.
This time it was great, the sprinting felt excellent, I have much more springiness in my calves now and I don't get any (very little) soreness in my tendons when I put in the fast bursts.
Very pleased with the progress.
I'm thinking of doing a race on Australia day, again, its a free one. It will be longer than anything I have done in the last 10 years, it is a 16km run from Brighton to Hallet Cove and back. A course that will be on road, stony and sandy trails.
I will be a bit nervous again but hey, the main goal is to complete it.

Wednesday, 26-Jan. 16km
This was a bit of a spur of the moment decision to have a go at running the Brighton to Hallet Cove trail. I have not run 16km in quite a long time, probably over 10 years in fact.
This was a casual run organised for Australia Day, no fees, numbers or times.
The meeting place was Brighton Jetty where the organiser gave some facts about the run such as climbs of 400m and 900 steps to negotiate.

One of the Many Sets of Steps To Climb

What was more relevant to me was, what were the quality of the off road paths.
At 7am around 40-50 runners had assembled at the jetty and were busily limbering up. I heard increasing evidence that says static stretching isn't that good for you so I didn't bother, just did some small jumps.
I set off near the back as I didn't want to slow anyone down.
The section from Brighton to Kingston caravan park was on the road, a distance of around 2.4km, that was fine, after that there was a small section of gravel for 300m then back onto a road for the first bit of climbing for 450m then you hit the gravel trails and the point where I have to slow down.
If the trails were natural earth it would be ok but these are all irregular stone chips and you have to keep your eyes and brain engaged to ensure you don't hit you heel on any.
Here I am negotiating some of the many steps
The rest of the trail to Hallet Cove consists of nice wooden boardwalks, lots of steps and gravel trails in between.
The boardwalks were great, the steps that were set in the gravel were hard as they were some 1m apart and about 30cm high so you couldn't bound from step to step you had to negotiate the gravel in between. Going up was easier than going down.
I got to the halfway point at 8km feeling good then had to do the whole thing in reverse. Going back was harder as I was more tired, the feet were more tender so I had to slow down to walk on the downhill stretches.
It was a joy to hit the bitumen roads again after 5km, I managed to perk up a bit on those last few km to the end.
It took me a little over 2 hours which doesn't sound very impressive, I was just glad to finish, it was a tough run.
My feet were good, no cuts or new blisters, the old skin had come off some of a blister on each foot that I'd acquired a few weeks earlier.

I shall have to pamper my feet for a few days now.

Scrap Iron Dog Looking out to Sea, Brighton 6.45am

Thursday, 27-Jan 0km
Wow, I forgot about the payback when you run longer or harder!
All that running up and down steps over 16km, my calves are shouting 'hey buddy what the hell were you doing?'
I think they like flat ground.
They will be ok in a couple of days but for now I've got the compression gear on to keep them quiet. The feet are quite happy about the run, no complaints there.

Saturday, 29-Jan. 8km
We have some of the hot ones lined up for the next few days as the Aussie summer hits full steam ahead.
Today it is due to get up to 39C, tomorrow 42C and then a 41C day, those kind of temperatures seem to suck every bit of moisture from your lungs. Unless you are drinking litres of water a day it is so easy to get dehydrated and running is the biggest user of water as you try to cool off.
I need a special ice hat!
I managed to get to the beach today at 8.30am and it was a nice temperature around 25C.
My aching calf had settled down so I felt confident to do my shorter run along the road then back along the beach.
Barefoot road running is so easy now, I feel so springy now that I have learned Ken Bob's important mantra about the calves, relax, relax relax it all makes sense now, it took long enough to learn it. I think now I am attaining the stage of unconscious competence.

Over the next month I want to work on speed so I can get my soft sand running time down below 5m/km, if I can do that it will give me confidence that I can better my time in the Beach Bash by 4 minutes, that would be great.
So, tomorrow, if I can get out early enough I'll do a short 4km run with some good bursts of speed, then, later, in the evening I'll try some drills, if it isn't too ragingly hot.

Sunday, 30-Jan. 4km
During the summer to keep my place cool I usually just open the windows at night once the outside temperature has dropped below that inside.
A bad omen is usually when it's time for bed and the temperature is still well above the inside temp.
Last night looked good, the temperature pulled back to 29C outside so I opened the doors and windows, I would expect the temperature to drop through the night.
This time I woke at just before 6am, the blinds were being blown by the wind, it felt warm, I checked the outside temp. and it was already 30C. I rushed around to shut everything to keep the hot air out.
What a contrast at the beach today, instead of a nice 25C I've got a hotter 31C at 8am. I was only going to do a short run anyway but I did intend to go as fast as I could, the heat drained my energy.
I went from jetty to jetty and back in exactly the same time of 11min for the 2km, it was thirsty work.
The temperature by afternoon will be 42C far too hot to do anything.
After the run I got on the bike and cycled to the gym for a bit of strength work. Worked on the hamstrings, that will help when I run.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Into the zone

Distance 23.5km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 885.4km] Week 4

Wednesday, 19-Jan. 7.5km
After giving the feet a rest for 4 days I was itching to get out for a run again.
To be gentle on my feet I made it purely a beach run today.
Temperature a nice 28C, the tide was on it's way in but there was still enough dry sand that had an unbroken crust on to make running good without being to difficult.

I tried to keep up a good pace over a few stretches of the run. I need to get some more speed training under my belt ready for the Henley Beach Bash in March.
I checked the tidal heights from the Adelaide weather website and it looks like the March run date has a very similar set-up to last year in that the tide will be be high and just turned, that could mean lots of soggy running shoes again hee hee hee.

Todays run didn't cause any damage to the blisters which are now drying out and will in a few weeks peel off. Lets see if I can keep the feet intact after that

Saturday, 22-Jan. 12km
My hair was turning into an unruly mess on top of my head, an indication that a visit to the barber was needed.
It felt much better to have half of it removed and as we are in the hottest part of the year it keeps the head so much cooler.
As I was still letting the feet repair from the walk from a few weeks ago on the hot pavement where I got the blisters I made the run an all beach affair today.

Parking the car on the Esplanade at the the top end of Grange Road the beach looked very inviting, low tide, blue sky, very gentle southerly breeze.
I set off running about 0.5km before the Grange Jetty with the intention of running up to the Esplanade at Semaphore. I didn't want to be out too long as I would be in the maximum UV time of day.
The run was just perfect today, felt fast and effortless almost like a dream watching the scenery go by. I must have been in the zone, the feet and legs were working in supreme cooperation as I padded along the soft sand, no aches or pains just running as humans were meant to run.
I could have extended the run to the Semaphore jetty but was a bit concerned the extra time out in the sun might burn me.
After filling up on water at a tap just off the beach I headed back and this time increased my speed. The feet were fine, no flare ups of the old blisters just a nice sanding down.

Making this transition to a new style of running has paid off, with the use of the forums on the internet to hook up with like minded people it made the whole think much more possible than if you had to tackle it alone.
Its great to see so many others starting out on this same adventure, discovering the same pitfalls and pains then coming out the other side healthier and fitter and with an expanded knowledge of how their body works before being lead astray by commercial interests.

Sunday, 23-Jan. 4km
Time to do a short distance run but get the tempo a bit faster if I can.
I drove to Henley Square at 7.45am to see if any of the small running group I hooked up with a year ago are still running at that time.
I waited around until after 8am and no familiar faces turned up so I guess they have had a break for now.
The tide was just on the turn when I got onto the beach. The high tide mark had been left and now there was around 2-3 metres of wet sand to run on.
I ran one direction in the soft sand to give the ankles a workout, it was tough but worthwhile.
After a rest at the other end I ran back on the flat wet sand trying to avoid the many people walking dogs, it was like an obstacle course.
The run felt really good, I had a great spring in my step, it just felt like this was how running was meant to be.
I managed the 2km distance in about 10:14, I may have cracked the 10m if there were less obstructions.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tired feet

Distance 28.5km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 861.9km] Week 3

Monday, 10-Jan
Well in a few days I go from great form, good distances to feeling tired and having sore feet, what went wrong?
Well the only difference between this week and last week is now I'm back at work.
It started on Monday, the first day.
I drive to work, get out of the car, twisting as I get out with my bag and I manage to jar my knee.
It doesn't help that my car, an old Honda Civic is pretty low to the ground, unlike modern cars which have a much elevated driving position.
I limp into work and fire up my computer and within 2 hours I've developed back ache from sitting in the same position for too long.
I took some pain killers for the back but still decided not to run or go to the gym during the evening.
I decided to walk to the shops (barefoot) as I needed a few groceries. It had been a warm day of over 30C but it was cooling down slightly now. The footpath was warm but not raging hot like during the middle of the day.
I did a brisk walk 1.5km to the shops the 1.5km back, my feet feel a bit sore at the end and on examination I find I have managed to rub up a blister on each foot, damn! So walking is not as safe as running.

Tuesday, 11-Jan
Not much time to run tonight so I did some Pose drills on the field. I felt rusty and it just didn't feel right during the runs in between the drills.
I felt slow, I felt my timing was out and that I may even have been landing incorrectly. Not happy.

Wednesday, 12-Jan. 7km
A beach run today, or rather, a half road/beach run. So here I am at the beach and I don't like running on top of new blisters but I persevere, landing as gently as I can.
I didn't make them any worse. I ran back along the beach but I felt sluggish, lacking in energy.
The only conclusion I can draw is that I need more sleep. While on holiday I would have been getting around 8.5 hours sleep, now, back at work that drops to 7 hours. Could it be that the extra 1.5 hours makes a difference?

Friday, 14-Jan. 7km 
At last a good running day, felt good today, got the groove back, the timing is good.
I did the road section first as I have been doing recently to make sure I get equal time on soft and hard surfaces.
When running barefoot on pavements it is always good to be at your most conservative and cautious when starting the run, my first km is always a slow easy warm up.
At the end of 1km my legs know how much they should be bent and my feet are familiar with the surface.
What they were telling me this evening was the the surface was bloody hot. I ran alongside any shade giving walls I could find, I was constantly aware if there was any change in the temperature and if it was becoming dangerously damaging to my feet.
I reached the Henley Hotel where the pavement changes sides of the road. On the side I was on I had a nice 'cool' concrete, the other side had much hotter paving stones.
I crossed the road and that was hotter still, I had to sprint at high speed as it felt like around 50C.
The paved section was hot also but I found by running on the outer set of of stones they were just slightly cooler as they were neighbours to the grass verge.
I was looking forward to the cool of the sandy beach.
The beach run was good, my feet felt a little cooked by now and a bit tender. I had a nice soak in the water when I arrived back at Grange Jetty.

Saturday, 15-Jan. 14.5km
Got to the beach by 8.30am, nice and cool, 22C. Once again it took me a while to wake my legs and feet up, there were a few aches but they soon disappeared after 2km and I settled into a steady running groove, trying to stay focused on the present so I didn't lose track of my form.

I made it to Semaphore jetty is a slightly faster time than I did last time , only by around 30s which is not really significant.
After a brief rest at the jetty I came off the beach to run along a bitumen walkway alongside the beach to see if some of my relatives were there on their early morning training session.
I didn't see them, maybe the class hasn't resumed yet due to people being on holiday.
I then moved back onto the beach for the 6km section back to Grange jetty.
I did another 4km and I could feel my energy levels diminishing like a rechargeable battery just before it pack up.
My feet were also hurting now, the blisters were puffing up. I ran in the water to cool my feet off but this probably softened the skin and made them more sensitive.
I walked the last 2km back feeling exhausted, I should eat more before setting out on a longer run.
The hardest part was then getting off the beach. My feet were very tender now and the soft sand that was well trodden on the path off the beach was too much. I hobbled off the beach very slowly using the side of my foot.
I thought maybe the blisters had torn open, I washed the sand off my feet and found that the blistered area was still intact but the blisters were more extensive now and I had on on my right big toe.
I think this is telling me to rest my feet for a few days. Learn the lessons. Walking barefoot is harder than running (on hot hard surfaces.
Left foot blistering

Right Foot Blistering - much more extensive


Sunday, January 9, 2011


Distance 41.5km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 833.4km] Week 2

Monday, 3-Jan: 4km
At last a run in the country, in less familiar territory. This was going to be the milder of the days during the week at only 27C so it would be an ideal day to run.
I set off at around 8.20am expecting to see quite a bit of traffic on the road but it was very quiet due to the public holiday.
Morialta Falls is across the city from where I live and takes, on a good day like this, around 30 minutes to get there. The worst stretch is North Terrace in the city which must have around 15 sets of traffic lights, horrible.
I had expected Morialta Falls park to be busy with walkers by the time I arrived but I was pleasantly surprised to find very few cars at all in the parking area where the walks start from.
The fist decision was do I run barefoot or do I wear the VFF's, awe what the hell, leave the shoes and see how it is.
The trail distance was only around 4km (from Google maps) but is is quite steep. As soon as you set off you are climbing for the first 0.5km a hight of 125m (417 feet)before you get to a lookout. The path was good at first then got progressively more rocky, my feet seemed to know what to do and handled the obstacles quite well.

I was hoping for some areas of the trail where it would be smooth and allow a bit of faster running but alas, just when it seemed to be evening out the rocks would reappear.
While running through some shady woods I rounded a corner and bumped into a koala, I think we were both surprised. He (or she) didn't bolt off but hung around watching me for a while before deciding that breakfast was more important that watching the strange guy with no shoes.

Umm what are you doing disturbing me?

Breakfast of eucalyptus leaves.

One of the easier parts of the course to run on was the gravel fire track, ironically, due to its consistent surface of small stones.

Fire Track with gravel surface

The better parts of the trail look like the photo below but they are few and far between, most is much more rocky and uneven.

Morialta Falls walking trail

And now at last nearly home, a self portrait with the gorge in the background (taken with my mobile)

So, how were the feet by the time I got back, pretty good actually, a bit tingly from the over stimulation, pretty dusty and grimy. No cuts or blisters. Oh and on the signs and leaflets it does suggest wearing some sturdy hiking boots.
Trusty feet do work after all!

Tuesday, 4-Jan: 14.5km 
Well, I made it, a longer run and I'm still in one piece.
20 years ago this kind of distance would be a piece of cake but now I have to really work at it a lot harder. I guess it will get easier as I get more longer distance runs under my belt (or feet).
I reckon this would be the longest run I have done in many years actually.

The temperature was just about right, probably around 24C and I had a nice flat beach to play with. The plan today was to do my Grange jetty to Semaphore Espanade run which is around 6km (12km round trip) then if I felt ok to run on to Semaphore jetty which is just over 1km more.

I decided to not worry about timing at all, so no glancing down at the watch to see what time it was when I get to certain landmarks, just keep up a steady pace and stay comfortable.
I could feel some calf ache in my right leg which was an indicator that I should relax more and pull my feet from the ground.
I reached my usual turnaround point and felt ok so pushed on towards the jetty at Semaphore. I reached there in just over 45 minutes, had a bit of a rest then set off back.

Beach running is hard from a psychological aspect as you can see where you have to run to and it looks a long way and doesn't seem to get any closer despite your efforts. All you can do is keep concentrating on your feet and putting in step after step.
I was feeling tired by the end but managed to liven up in the last kilometre as the end was in sight and that eased the aching of the lower legs.
What a relief to reach Grange jetty, to stop and just paddle in the water was heaven. I soaked my lower legs and kept an eye on my heart rate, I stayed in the water until my heart rate is consistently below 80 bpm, that is my cool off and exercise over signal.
I'll have to keep up the fluid intake for the rest of the day as I will have lost a litre of fluid maybe more over that run. Time: 1:33:30 (6:27/km)

Thursday, 6-Jan: 7km
After my long run on the Tuesday I was a bit achy in the tendons, just adding that extra distance makes a difference.
I think I have been getting more km's in as well, so, not exactly sticking to the 10% per month rule is it?
It wasn't actually tendon soreness more of a cramp feeling in my low calves, if I had then in the wrong position I could see them going into an uncontrollable spasm.
I am still in a transition phase all these months on from my start.
It was due to get up to 36C today, a bit on the warm side so I got to the beach at just after 9am. It was about 26C already.
I did the road stretch first and felt fine in the legs if a little dry in the throat, very dry in fact. The warm north wind was blowing and drying me out.

I stopped for a drink at on of the beach taps at Henley before carrying on the run to the river.
The run back along the firm sand was incident free, I was just so thirsty.
I could have extended the run past the jetty to put in another km but I think I had done enough for the day.

Legs are great at the moment.

Friday, 7-Jan: 7km
I was a bit undecided this morning if I should do some training at the gym today or go for a run.
It was going to be another warm day up towards the mid 30's. By the time I'd decided I could handle another run and the legs were fine it was coming up to 11am, at 9am the temp was around 28C now it was around 32C.

I parked the car by the cafe at Grange and ran my usual route along the roads & footpaths to the river. I could feel the heat, the brick paving was ok to run on probably around 40C but I crossed the road near the Henley Hotel, the bitumen was really hot, I had to move fast over that to avoid blisters.
Then it was back to cooler tile footpath which was far better. At the river I crossed onto the beach, over that road again, I could feel it burning through the pads on my feet.
The sand was hot in the areas that the tide never touches but the slightly damper sand was better.
Running back up the beach I was beginning to feel overheated. I took a 3 minute break under the jetty at Henley before steeling myself for the 2km dash to the next jetty.

I got to Grange jetty without any problems except heat fatigue. It was a joy to wade into the water to cool off.

On the foreshore I did some cool down dynamic stretches, it took quite a while for me to cool of completely, around 15-20 minutes.

I should aim to get out at 8am on these hot days, as the holiday progresses it's harder to get out of bed really early.
Work starts up next week, that will be a shock to the system, early mornings again.

Sunday, 9-Jan: 9km
This was going to be a longer ran but I ran out of oompf about 3km from the end.
I did have some breakfast so I did have some energy to start off.
The problem today was the humidity.
I got to the beach at 8.30am and the temperature was in the mid 20's but the humidity must have been around 70%.
I set off running trying to keep an efficient pace that would not be tiring or cause me to lose too much water through sweating.
After 3km I was getting pretty sweaty and the breeze if any was behind me. I kept on going until I reached the Esplanade at Semaphore and made my way to a tap and filled up on water I just drank and drank.
On the way back I ran with a bloke who was running in the same direction, it would take my mind off the distance.
He mentioned that he was just coming back from a knee injury. So I mentioned he may like to read the Pose Running book and Born to Run.
He ran about 3km before turning back I carried on back to Grange.
By this time the wind had picked up and was much cooler. I was drenched in my efforts of the way up and just had no energy to continue.
I walked the remaining 3km.
Maybe I should have had some of my energy drink to keep me going before I set out.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday 7km

Distance 7km [total: minimalist 132km: Barefoot 791.9km] Week 1

Sunday 2-Jan 7km 
A nice easy, no pressure 7km on a nice flat beach. Bit of a southerly breeze to cool things down.
Did plenty of stretching to cool down at Grange jetty. The cafe was full of early morning coffee drinkers and the joggers were out in force.