Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Far?

Last weekend my wife and I were part of a crew for a 48 hour film project that took up every waking minute of my life from the time I got done with work Friday until the movie was finished on Sunday night. So, needless to say, I didn't have a chance to run BUT this did allow me to rest my calf muscles a bit. Even though the recovery time has been getting much shorter lately, I've been so excited to go running lately that I haven't given them the proper time to recover between runs.

On Monday (July 19th) I went out for my first run since last Thursday. I decided to go fully barefoot for this one, which started out great. A few minutes in I was completely booking. Passing everyone in sight. I was running pretty close to my old 6-minute mile pace and it felt awesome! But, after only about 7/8th of a mile my feet started to feel hot! I slowed the pace for a minute and realized it wasn't helping. I finally stopped to look and lo and behold. BLISTERS!


I've read stories about people getting blisters when they start barefoot running but in two months of running on crazy rough asphalt I've never even seen a hint of a blister. This was a first....

I think, besides giving my form less attention than it deserved that day, the sidewalk was a much smoother surface than I had been running on which I believe caused me to let down my guard and not pay as much attention to my stride. So, the run was cut short and I headed home, mad at myself for ignoring all the little signs.

So, fast forward to this evening (Thursday July 22)


one blister popped and looks pretty gross but doesn't hurt anymore at all, and the other two (the matching blisters on each foot, right below my big toe) are almost gone.

SO, I decided I NEEDED to run tonight!!!!
I popped on my Vibram KSOs for a little added protection and took off for a 4.25 miler..

4775943429_42b7fe8475_owhat I've been wearing when I do where shoes

When the end of my loop was nearing, I still felt great, so I decided to add another mile. which turned into two, which turned into just over three extra miles. By the end I logged 7.35 miles, which is finally getting back into my old average running range.

Around the 6.5-mile mark my feet, where the blisters were, started getting tender and I figured I better listen up this time.

The rest of me still felt great and if the 3-day old blisters hadn't started hurting I believe I could have easily run 3 or more miles on top of that distance.

It's taken 2 months but I finally feel like I'm getting back to comfortably running the distances my body was used to. My legs feel worked out but not painful. Actually I noticed that with fancy running shoes after a 7-mile run my knees would be killing me, my body would feel beat up and my shins would be achy, but after finishing today's run, I felt more like I just finished a long bike ride. I had a good muscle work out but no "structural" issues. I could push the clutch down in my car without my knee giving the old twinge I expected after a run. This is good stuff!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finally Getting it Down

Wednesday, July 7th, I set off for my normal 7 mile run (With running shoes). For the first time after a few weeks of successfully running barefoot, I quickly felt the aches and pains... the NORMAL aches and pains I though just came with running but had forgotten about until the shoes were back on my feet. My usual 7 mile run was chopped down to a 4 mile run and with about a mile left I untied my laces, popped off my shoes and ran the last mile barefoot. It was the best mile of the run. Instantly my leg pains vanished. This was great, I was totally sold....

No more running shoes for me.


Now, at 5.25 miles, Saturday July 10th marks my longest run (natural style).
Working my way up to my old distances and speed while getting unused muscles used to doing what they're supposed to do...

Before turning my back on running shoes, I was averaging around 30 miles a week, usually doing a few 7 mile runs with a 4.25 mile run at a fast pace or a longer, 10 plus miler tossed into the mix. I noticed my shins, knees and sometimes my hips were achy after my runs, especially the longer ones. I figured this was part of running and like a true man ignored the pain. "If I run more my legs will get used to it and therefore I would become much, much more awesome."

One afternoon I was out of the house running some errands and decided to go for a run. My shorts were already in the car from a failed attempt to go running the day before (thanks to a crazy lightning storm) and I keep an extra pair of crappy old Asic running shoes in the trunk of my car, mainly for rainy days but this day I would be running in them. I laced up and headed out for a 7 mile run. I quickly noticed that my old shoes, with soles beat down with about a years worth of extra miles, were surprisingly more comfortable to run in than my newer shoes, that had MUCH softer, cushier soles. I found that being less uncomfortable of a run actually made me much more aware or my stride.

About 2 weeks after this discovery, on my mom's suggestion I started reading Born to Run. A book that my wife bought a few months earlier but didn't have a chance to read. Convenient right?! Throughout the book the author, Christopher McDougall, bashes running shoes and gives many, very good examples to back up what he's preaching. His main example is a tribe called the Tarahumara who live deep in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. These people run crazy distances, exceeding 100 miles in a day, well into old age with virtually no health problems. All of these runners cover these huge distances in homemade huarache sandals.


I saw somewhat of a connection between my old shoes and the minimal sandals these people were wearing and decided to look into minimalist running some more and came across loads of info on barefoot running.

Curiosity got the best of me so I left my shoes inside, headed to the end of my driveway and started to run.

Instantly my form was different... better. a LOT better.. and NO aches in my knees at all. My road is in dire need of resurfacing but the roughness of the asphalt wasn't phasing me. Sure I was aware of it, but strangely it didn't hurt once I started cruising along. Actually, it felt more akin to some kind of rough massage than pain.
I ran up and down my street then stopped deciding not to push my luck but not being able to get the fantastic feeling out of my head. An hour later, I was back outside to do it again. Still felt good.

A closeup of the asphalt in front of my house. this is actually a smoother section of the road!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So it begins...

I've recently decided to give the fancy, high-tech running shoes the final kick to the curb.

"Why!?" you might be asking. Well, for more than a handful of reasons, I've been turned on to natural running, which means going barefoot or using minimalist footware and allowing my feet to do the job they were meant to do.

Honestly, the idea of ditching the snazzy shoes sounded hokey to me too, so naturally, I decided to give it a shot to find out what all these dummies were talking about. After only a few minutes of my first barefoot run I was sold. And now, at just about a month into this transition I never want to wear a running shoe again. So much so that I'm constantly rambling on to my wife about it.

She suggested that, since I'm just steps into my long journey, I start up a blog and share my discoveries and progress along the way.

So, if you want come along, pop back over here in a few days and I'll tell you all about the shoeless run that forced me to reconsider everything I thought I knew about running.