Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Splish-Splash!! My First Pool Running Experience

I've been cross training using a modified version of P90X. That's been okay, but it's not running. Not even a little bit. So this morning I worked it out with my hubby that I would ride the bus in early and get in some pool time before work. I used to swim competitively as a kid, so I started off my doing laps for 30 minutes ( I figured, go with what you know). I alternated doing 4 laps front crawl, with two "recovery" laps doing the breast stroke. By the end of the workout I was getting back into my swim form, so that felt really nice.
Then I tried pool running. My first lesson was in water depth. I figured the kiddie pool would be plenty deep-nope. My feet touched the bottom and I just felt silly trying to make it work. So I hopped out and jumped into the big pool, careful not to get into any "serious" swimmer's way. That worked out MUCH better. I had to adjust my floatation belt-it was too loose to start, it kept riding up my back. But once I cinched it up I was good to go. I worked on pumping my arms and driving my legs up and down. It wasn't real running, but for short moments it felt close! I did about 10 laps of the pool, inching my way up and down slowly ( a total of 30 minutes pool running). Everyone else around me would sneak a peak at what the heck I was doing but they all left me alone to do my pool running thing. I didn't get out of breath or anything even close, but my arms and my legs feel like they got a good workout for the first time in two weeks so that was a real bonus to my mental state. After I took 5 minutes and vegged out in the warm water of the kiddie pool, just letting each muscle group relax. Ah, bliss. I may just try that again in the next few days. It was a lovely way to start the day if you've gotta wear the vader bootie!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sidelined for 5 weeks

For weeks I knew something was wrong. I kept running and the pain on the top of my foot got worse and worse. Eventually some of my toes lost feeling and I would get an electrical shock when I shifted weight. I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor for xrays two weeks ago. She said there wasn't anything wrong and sent me off to the orthopedic specialist to investigate further. His diagnosis was that it was indeed a stress fracture in my second metatarsal and the treatment is my very own darth vader bootie. It even hisses and whooshs air as I walk.
As running takes a back seat to cross training for the next 5 weeks I see how much running has invaded my life. My bedside table is loaded with running books, magazines and the charger for the Garmin. My running clothes sit piled neatly on the chair beside my bed. My iPod is organized by race playlist. Running magazines sit in almost every room for easy access. Even the hair ties on my dresser are even the non-slip kind for sports.
I will say my crankiness factor is pretty good for being a week removed from running. I've searched out the easiest and cheapest swimming pool in the city for tomorrow's workout. I think that will be my saviour for the next few weeks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Race Route Decided!

I got a great piece of news in my inbox the other day; the race route for the Hypo Half Marathon in Feb is going to be an out and back course from Shearwater! Yay, that's only 3kms from my house! The race director mentioned a portion of it was a bit "hilly" and, having run that trail a few times I can attest that "pancake flat" would be a more accurate description. Not sure if this guy was making a joke, trying to egg people on to get out a train on the trail beforehand, or what, I spoke with a coworker who's taking part in the Running Room clinic for the half marathon. She wasn't sure what he meant either, so I said I would run most of the route this weekend. 
I got out late in the day Saturday, but thankfully the sun had warmed the temperature up a bit so I didn't have to wear gloves or a toque. I took off at a steady pace until I hit the trail at the 2.75km mark. Then I worked on being faster or meeting my pace goal of 7:10 for the next 5kms. I got to the end of the trail, where the main road meets the division between this trail and another separate trail system, and decided that any hills were going to be met in the subdivisions off that main road. That means only 4km can have any kind of hill, and knowing the area, that's nothing to get too concerned about. The snow started falling as I made my way back making a pretty scene over the lakes, but I was determined to get a negative split on this run so I pushed myself past my 2.5k walk break and went straight out until I was 1km from the trail end. I did an extra loop around a small road to make sure I would hit my 16kms and finished at 1:57. Not bad, considering it took that long to do 14kms last weekend. Now if I can only keep working on my speed, I should be able to pull off that 2:10 or better I'm hoping for. Good thing I love trails :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paying Tribute

Being a former teacher I know the ups and downs of the profession. One of the biggest downsides is losing one of your students. I have lost three students during my time as a teacher. Two were to battles with cancer. The last death though was a horrible accident. A student I had taught during my first years as a teacher slipped off the rocks during a storm at Peggy's Cove and drowned. Thankfully (for his parents) his body was finally recovered after 11 days. He was a happy, kind and spontaneous person. His personality could fill a room. And now his short life, one that was just starting to take off, is ended. I've cried, reflected and emailed condolences to his family and friends. But I need another way to honor his life. So I am going to run 27kms in honor of Stephen. He was 27 this year and running one kilometer for each year of his life seems like the most appropriate way I know to pay tribute to him. I hope somewhere, he knows how much everyone around him loved him and enjoyed having him as part of their lives. Rest in peace Steve.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Let the Training Begin!

Today I start training for the annual Hypothermic Half Marathon in February. I've decided to go with Runner's World's Smart Coach program. Besides begin free and easy to use and customize, I think the mileage build up is perfect for where I am at right now with my minimalist/barefoot running.
Last week I ran a total of 40kms, with 20kms of that being done totally barefoot. So finally, I've reached that 50/50 barefoot/minimalist shoe ratio I've been aiming for. I hope to keep that ratio until the spring when the streets and weather in general are a bit warmer and I can handle going outside barefoot.
But, for now, and really until May, I'll be going between my VFFs and barefoot runs (on the treadmill and indoor track). Today's schedule has me running just 6kms at a 7:06 per/km pace. I've got a whole hour to do it, so that shouldn't be an issue. I've programmed my Garmin to do 7 min./per km for 6 rotations, with 1 minute rest intervals.
The big question though is where the race will be held. I know, I know, "You signed up for a race that doesn't have a route?" Well, the race has been traditionally held between a local park and the waterfront area of Halifax, but in the past year a new market has taken up residence right smack in the middle of the route so the race directors have had to change the route and they haven't quite figured out where exactly yet. The two options they appear to be considering are the BLT trail and the Cow Bay/Shubie Trail area. I would love it if the race was held in the Cow Bay area, since that's just down the road from where I live and I'm much more familiar with the terrain. Hopefully they will decide soon so if I need to make a few training trips out to the BLT trail I'll have time to do so.
Either way though, me and my purple VFFs will be making an appearance and I'll be going for a PB of 2:10. Let the training begin!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spreading the Word :-)

I had a neat conversation with a woman this past weekend about barefoot/minimalist running. She noticed me wearing my VFFs and asked if they were comfortable. I told her they were like wearing a second skin for me, and I've run as far as 20km in them. Her jaw just about hit the floor. "20kms?" She said, "you don't need arch support?" I said, "No, you don't need arch support, unless there's something structurally wrong with your feet to begin with." "Well, you must have been born with perfect feet then." she retorted. Nooo was my reply and I listed off the running injuries I've had and how they no longer bother me wearing VFFs or going barefoot. She asked what I wore previously to going VFFs and I told her I used to love my Saucony's, but now I can't imagine putting my feet back in running shoes. She thanked me for letting her quiz me like that. I told her to give them a try at least, you never know, you might like it.

Going minimalist/barefoot is still SO new in Nova Scotia, even seasoned runners are reluctant to give up their tried and true running shoes. Maybe, though, just maybe, she'll try them (or something similar) and she'll start telling people about them too...you never know!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday's Wickedly Bad Race Pic

I was way too busy yesterday to post, but better late than never. This guy gets props for conquering the distance (especially carrying a backpack) but the photographer-sheesh!

"V" is for Victory-rock on buddy, rock on.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Barefoot PB!

Saturday my VFFs got a good 30 minute workout on the indoor track at the sportsplex where my daughter takes ballet and swimming. After a week on the treadmill it was really nice to actually move forward when I run. I think I did 4-4.5k on the track, so in my VFFs that's not too bad. I would have preferred to run barefoot but the rink where the track is was so cold I couldn't bear to lose any clothing.
Yesterday I felt a bit stressed between handling my daughter on my own (and therefore sleep deprived), the standard cleaning that needed to be done, a trip to the local market then preparing the house for my sister in-law and her two kids to spend the night. So I decided to jump on the treadmill for a bit of stress relief. I popped in Spirit of the Marathon and off I went. If you've read my previous posts you'd know I've decided that when I run on the treadmill there's no need for any shoes so I go barefoot. After my standard 30 minutes I did a body-systems check and everything felt great so I just kept going. At 45 minutes I stopped, but only because I was concerned I would overdo it if I went for a full hour. But 45 minutes is a new PB time for running barefoot for me! Yay! My feet always feel a little hot after a new time goal is reached, but there are no blisters or sore spots at all. I'm now fantasizing about running my next marathon (the Bluenose this coming May) 50/50 between VFFs and Barefoot. Time will tell. First I have a whole whack of training to do between now and then. But for now things look promising!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Up to 50% BF!

With my DH being away in Ohio and me taking care of our daughter here at home I've been slightly restricted with regards to where I can run. Lately my training has been consisting of a 5k walk, downhill in the morning and uphill in the evening pushing a jogging stroller (ugh) to and from daycare, then a ~5k run on the dreadmill in the evenings. Barefoot. It's going great! Yes, my feet were a bit black from the belt the first time (which necessitated me scrubbing the bathtub to remove the stains), but overall it's worked out really well. I think when I finally have some time to visit the indoor track again I'll start doing those runs barefoot too. I might as well keep it up. This week I've managed 20km barefoot so I think I can handle my 8-10k runs on the indoor track.
The funny thing is, when I tell my DH about running barefoot he's totally mystified. He doesn't understand why anyone would run barefoot. And he runs in Vibrams occasionally. He thinks the human foot is ugly, I don't. I've always liked my feet-Morton's Toes and all. So maybe that's the missing link. I don't mind running barefoot because I like the look of my feet.
So two and a half more weeks of this routine and then a whole new routine will begin. I used to be an early morning runner, but now I'll have to compromise on that, unless I'm willing to get up at 4:30am to run. Yikes. I think I can do that once and awhile, but not for every run. For now I'll be happy with this and see what the next few weeks bring.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday's Wickedly Bad Running Pic of the Week

So I thought I would add some variety to this blog, so starting this week I'm adding Wednesday's Wickedly Bad Running Picture to this blog. Check back here each Wednesday to see if you see a familiar minimalist/barefoot runner :-) I'll start with my own nasty picture, taken at the Valley Harvest 10k race on 10-10-10. Enjoy. Really ;-)

Honestly I didn't feel as exhausted as I apparently looked!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Valley Harvest 10k Race Report

First I was going to run the Valley Marathon, then after some job-changes on my husband's part I decided on the Valley Half. Then I fell down a few weeks ago and the Valley Half turned into the Valley 10k race for me. Still, I was happy to finally being able to just do the Valley-something in my VFFS!
My husband (who also ran the Valley 10k) and I dropped our daughter at my Mom's place the night before, ate some great sushi at Sushi Nami and hit the sack early. My alarm went off at 6am-I think. I pressed snooze until 6:20 and then we both ran around the house like crazy people getting ready to head out the door and hit the road for the hour long drive at 7am. We downed a Pepsi Max about 30 minutes before we arrived so I had a little energy kick that helped us both sprint around the university looking for the race kit pick up area. Finally we found where we needed to be and grabbed out little orange bags and headed outside to get pulled together.
I decided to try a 25mg Gu for the first time-I know, I know "Never try anything new on race day." Yeah, those words would haunt me later. But I figured. Hey, a 10k is a walk in the park so what the heck I could use all the caffeine I could get. My DH wanted to start in the back for this race, so we compromised on being near the back, but not dead last. The race started and off we went, walking then running as we crossed the mat. We had agreed to a 5:30 pace average. As we came up on a half kilometer I asked DH if he wanted me to lead, since running 2-abreast was next to impossible with the crowd. He said yes and off I went. I didn't see him again until the finish! He said he had to take a walk break around the 2km mark and lost me as I crested a hill. Still, I had a great time. The wind hit everyone hard as we crossed the dykes, but aside from that the route was well planned, the crowd was super supportive and there were plenty of aid stations. I found myself picking people off right up to the 9k mark when major stomach cramps forced me to a walk/run. Darn GU, should have taken a second one at the 5k mark..or maybe that Gatorade at the last aid station...ah well.
I had a few people comment on my VFFs. One guy ran up to me and asked if that was what I was wearing. I said "yes" and he said "OK" and dropped back. Guess he just wanted to check? A spectator yelled out "Nice Shoes" at the turn-around point. Another lady in a skirt caught up to me and asked about them, how I liked them, where she could buy a pair, running injuries, the whole gamut. She eventually passed me and then when I reached the track for the final lap before the finish I found myself next to her and we decided to finish it together. I kept looking behind me for my DH, but I couldn't find him. Turns out he was only about a minute behind me, but that was just far enough that neither of us could catch sight of the other. I got my medal and waited for my DH at the finish line. Sure enough there he was gutting out the last few meters. We high-fived as he crossed and then we went in search of food, drink and showers.
I've been to other post-race parties that had alot more food but neither of us was too hungry so we grabbed bananas and chocolate milk and headed for the showers. All that done we were both happy with our results. I managed a 1:01 in my VFFs and with a knee injury and he managed a 1:02 with next to no training. All in all much better than we expected!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Giveaway Contest from iRunFar!

Hey, I just wanted anyone who might pass by this page to know that iRunFar, a great running resource and website is having a gear giveaway. Their site is: http://www.irunfar.com/
You have until October 15th to post a comment and try to win some pretty awesome gear! (Open to US and Canadian residents only)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Getting back in the Saddle

After the fall 2 weeks ago I haven't run a single step. The frustration was killing me until last night when I jumped on the treadmill (barefoot ;-) and went for an awesome 2 miler. Ahhh. There's nothing like a good shake out run to make you feel human again. And, I ran to one of my favorite shows; Star Trek Voyager which is in re-runs on Spike-sweeet.

I'm so glad to be making my way back from this little running layoff. To be totally honest, I'm actually a bit nervous to run the same route again so for now I'm not really minding the "dreadmill." I know that the fall was my fault-I wasn't paying attention. But on the treadmill I have to pay attention or I'll fly off the thing. I have a 10k race on Sunday I can prep for and after that it will be base building time for next year's marathons and hopefully, finally, an ultra. So, since my DH is taking off for 3 weeks of work training and I'll be home alone with our 4 year old daughter I'll be doing alot of treadmill running..and for the first time in 3 years, I'm good with that.

Here's a poem I read awhile ago but right now really hits home:

I will never know myself until I do this on my own,
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed,
I will never be anything till I break away from me,
I will break away, I'll find myself today.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My cat is my new alarm clock

I think my cat and my training plan are in cahoots with each other to get me on track for this upcoming half marathon. As strange as it sounds, for the last 3 weeks or so my elderly kitty has decided that 5:30am is the purrfect time to begin meowing incessantly until someone gets up and lets him outside. So, since I've already hit my alarm clock at least once by this time that person who gets up to let him out is me. And since I'm up, well, I might as well go for a run.

Today was one of those mornings. But instead of slogging through another early morning 5 miler I was surprisingly springy this morning and began right off at a 6:30/km pace. Today must have been popular with other runners too since I saw 4 others while I was out doing my loop. The coolest part though was when it was all over I looked at my Garmin and it said "You Win!" So I guess I went faster than I had predicted. Super sweet.

Thanks Wee Wee; same time tomorrow?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Road Rash

Today I started my half marathon training for the Middleton Half Marathon on November 7th. My goal is to break 2:15, but my secret goal is to hit closer to 2:05. Today's run was supposed to be a steady 5 miler at 6:45 per/km pace. Well..it didn't go quite as planned. From the start things looked promising. I had remembered to charge my iPod, set my Garmin, all my clothes were ready, check, check, check. Off I went down the dark morning streets, pitter pattering away in my Vibrams. I didn't quite hit that 6:45 pace I was hoping for, but I did manage a steady 7:00.

As I was coming up to the last 4km I saw two fluffy, black puppies, extremely happy to be out and about with their owner, coming towards me. I've been bitten by dogs before, had a few close calls lately with dogs wanting to jump on me, so I was thinking about how best to navigate around these hyper pups when..blam! I see the pavement rushing towards me in time to stick my palms out to save my face and/or shoulders from hitting the sidewalk. I tripped. Big time. I turned over and sat on my butt to assess the damage. Remarkably though I did have the presence of mind to pause my Garmin. A couple of tiny pebbles stuck in my hands, my whole left leg was throbbing and turning an interesting shade of red (which I'm sure will be purple later) and my right knee, which took most of the force I think, has a huge patch of road rash. Lovely. I consoled myself with the fact there was hardly anyone around and got back up. A few painful steps and off I went again. I got a few curious looks from people as I finished my run with blood coming down one leg, but I was determined (or crazy) to finish my run.

I have to admit it's not the first time I've had an intimate encounter with the sidewalk, I'm just glad I could still finish my run despite my clumsiness. So today's run, check; as for my legs...well I'm sitting with an ice pack on my road rashed knee but I'm sure I'll be good to go tomorrow. And who said running wasn't an impact sport!?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back in the Saddle

After last week's mess of a training week (thanks to my overzealous speed work) I'm really ready to get back in the saddle and continue my barefoot training adventures. Saturday I went for an easy 8k and used the last kilometer to truly run barefoot on the pavement. Holy crap. It felt like sandpaper on the soles of my feet. Every tiny pebble was felt and I found running pretty tricky business when the pavement changed into concrete blocks. When I slipped my VFFs back on for the last half kilometer my feet felt like they were going into some heavenly slippers that made the ground soft and smooth again. Again it amazes me how disconnected we become from the earth beneath us when we put our feet in shoes.

Yesterday I took my daughter out for our customary Sunday romp in the jogging stroller. It was pretty hot so my run turned into a walk/run with a playground break in the middle. I do use the playground time though to strength train while my daughter runs around. I find I can do alot of upper body conditioning if I just use the equipment around me. By lunchtime we were both ready to head back home. I found my feet were a bit more sore than they have been lately. It's like the little bones in my feet are being flexed and strengthened in a way they haven't been used to in a while so they kind of "cramp up" a bit. I find stretching and bending my feet helps. On a happier note my calves seem to have gotten with the program and no longer feel like they did when I first started running 3 years ago!

After supper last night we all went down to Fisherman's Cove, grabbed a couple of ice cream cones to celebrate the last weekend of summer and walked around the boardwalk. My daughter and I took off our sandals after walking on the beach-and into the ocean as my daughter decided would be fun-and we kept them off as we finished walking around the big loop. As I passed one elderly man he said, "oh look, that girl must be religious." I guess he meant my barefeet since I must have left my habit in the car!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Vibram Run with My Running Group

The runners I run with on Monday and Wednesdays are an awesome group of people. We all work together in the same office but our paths rarely meet lately for one reason or another, so before last night's run I happened to mention to one of them that I'd be doing the group run in my new Vibrams. She had seen a news piece on them a few weeks ago so she knew what they were, but she seemed surprised that I was running in them. She was pretty curious about them and how they worked while running, so I was extra excited to show off my new shoes and running form when we would all meet later on.
I was late to the meeting spot, but the group knew it was me coming up the road because I was the one "who looked like she was running barefoot." I smiled and posed with my new shoes. The next moment we were off and running around the two lakes frequented by alot of runners. It was hot and muggy but it was fun to be out running with a group again. I was happy to see that I was able to keep up with the group without any issues, especially when I saw the pace we were doing was 30 seconds faster than I normally run!
We all chatted about work and running gadgets for awhile and we eventually hit a huge hill and I had to stop and walk for a second to let my heart rate go down. When I caught up one person said "We heard your little pixie feet coming and figured you were catching up." Pixie feet. I think that's a pretty appropriate name for running like this. You land softly, make a kind of pitter-patter on the asphalt and your leg turnover is super fast-especially on the downhills for me.
Overall it was a great run, I continued on after the group had gone their separate ways to head home, another 10kms. I'm pleased to report that my feet and my Vibrams held up well for a total run of 19kms!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Minimalism and Eating Regionally

My new found minimalist running style has had an interesting effect; I'm trying to eat only regional foods. After listening to Christopher MacDougall and Barefoot Ted's Google lectures I've realized that by taking off my running shoes I've been able to connect more fully to the earth. It truly has had a profound effect. I'm not wearing my Ipod unless it's on an early morning suburban run, I try to go barefoot as much as possible and I've heard myself discuss the monopoly of the shoe companies more than once. I think it has alot to do with my new found connection to the earth; I want to encourage more people to find this connection and see that we are a part of it and it a part of us. I know that sounds new-agey but until I freed my feet from all the layers of cushioning I had forgotten how fun it is to run barefoot (or nearly barefoot).
Then I saw a couple of documentaries on food; Food Inc and Killer at Large. These are two powerful films that tackle the issue of mass food production in the USA in two different, yet effective ways. One of the most powerful images in one of the documentaries is the aerial view of the beef production facility in the US west. Acres and acres of cows that all look exactly the same. Smoke stacks in the center of every few acres, where the beef would be slaughtered then sent to McDonald's. Another part discussed Soy bean producers being threatened and sued by a big corporation into only planting their one type of soy bean seed and insane repercussions if they dare try and keep their own seeds! So I thought, if this is what the food industry has come to in the USA, Canada probably isn't far behind. I was right. Finding local produce (especially in the summer) is not difficult. There are local vegetable stands and farmers markets around the city, some open 7 days a week. Meat on the other hand was a bit more challenging. I called a couple of grocery stores, and to no surprise, learned that the meat they sell comes from Quebec and provinces even further west. So then I tried the local meat markets. Even then, it was impossible to find a place that sold pork, beef and chicken that were raised in my home province. So then I decided that I would have to expand my "allowable radius" to include the entire Atlantic region. Even then it was hard to find a place that sold beef raised on this side of the country! Luckily I did find one meat market that very proudly states all of its "fresh" products come from Atlantic Canada. Finally success!
After discussing this with my husband, we agreed that eating this way was not only better for us and our daughter but also for the environment as a whole. We have both started looking at products we had in the house and realizing that just because the label on the front is from a locally-owned grocery store, its products are shipped from as far away as India (for relish) and China (for frozen haddock-for example). So we've decided to make the leap and only buy produce and meat if its has been grown/raised in Atlantic Canada. It may be a bit more expensive, but in the end our health is worth every penny.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Running with the Kiddies!

Today it looked like rain. But, as the morning went on the sun peaked out and the temperature rose fast. I had forgone my morning run in trade of sleep and 20 minutes of P90X-the rest to be finished after work. I had all of my gear so I sat 5 minutes before lunch trying to decide, do I go out and run in the warm humid air, declining the refreshing shower as I would be running to and from the office or do I grab my stuff and head to the indoor track at the gym next door? Opting for the cool-ness of the icerink below the track and the shower I got ready for my run.

Deciding this was an excellent opportunity to test out my lap counter on my new Garmin 305, I pressed lap and off I went. About half way I noticed a group of kids doing drills with a coach on the rink stairs. A couple of laps later they were doing jump drills along the yellow lane lines. Another few laps and the coach yelled "GO!" and off they went sprinting in one massive group. I happened to be right beside the pack as they started and I noticed out of the corner of my eye after 100m or so this little boy grinning his face off at me. I smiled, and thought "Does he want to race?" So I sped up, he ran faster but kept at the same pace as me instead of speeding ahead. "Okay" I thought, "I'll do one nice fast one and see if this kid wants to stick with me." So I sped up a little bit more, and sure enough he kept pace. By then a bunch of his little friends caught up to him and huffing and puffing I paced them all back to the start. "You guys are good runners," I said to one of them, "You too," said the smiling kid. Thanks kiddo, thanks :-)

I finished my run with the last kilometer barefoot. I took off my Vibrams and just went for it. The interesting thing was that those last 5 laps were actually faster than the ones previous. Maybe it was the memory of the kids or the coolness of the track floor, but I didn't care. I had a great run. I had managed another 8.5k in my Vibrams, paced a pack of 10 year olds and lived to talk about it. Go figure.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vibrams on Different Surfaces

When I think about my Vibram training over the past few weeks I see that I've run on just about every imaginable terrain that a runner would typically encounter. So, for what it's worth here are the surfaces and description of each one:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Running Around

I had a great couple of runs yesterday. In the morning I went out before work, hoping to get in a nice 10k run in my vibrams, but my lazy bones could not get out of bed in time. Alas, I had to settle for 8k. The best part of my run was running with so many other people out on the road. Usually I'm lucky if I see one other runner at 6am, but yesterday I passed 5, which was some kind of record. Then after work, it was such a beautiful sunny day I couldn't keep my mind from thinking what a great way to wrap up the day then to run in the park near my work. So I knocked off a few minutes early and dashed out the door to hit the trails. I managed to have a fight with my new Garmin watch over wether or not I was in fact outdoors, but I did manage that last 2k I had missed in the morning and got to run through some beuatiful flower beds that had little paths running behind each row.
Today I expected to be sore from all that running around and varied terrain, but I feel fine. My husband, Rich, was grumbling how I seem to love my vibrams but I also seem to be more sore than ever after running in them. I've tried to explain that it's like starting over again in running and I'm not experiencing any pain that I truly didn't expect to feel now that I'm actually using my calf muscles they way they were meant to be used. I understand he doesn't want to see me in discomfort, but I know that the way things are going I should adapt to the new stress on those muscles in a couple of weeks. He's ordered his own pair of Vibrams, so I'm sure he'll understand what I'm talking about soon ;-)
Happy Friday the 13th everyone!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A bit of advice on all that Pronation talk...

Doesn't all the over/under, neutral, motion-controlled, stability talk just make your head spin? Ugh, I find it does. And then I read Born to Run and alot of the ideas I'd had about the running shoe industry rang true. Think about it. Running shoes haven't decreased the number of running injuries, even though just about every kind of material type has been tried over the past 30 years to try and "help" our feet. Humans ran barefoot or in simple canvas shoes for thousands of years and we don't see hundreds of 50-something ex-runners hobbling around on wrecked knees.

When I first started running I read everything I could on running, convinced if I just found the "right" shoe my running injuries would be solved and my running would be faster and easier than ever. Well, after testing just about every type of running shoes brand out there I realize one thing about the running shoe industry-it's a sham. They come out with new versions of their shoes every 6 months claiming they are somehow better than their 6 month old brother. Are they? Most often not.

I never found that "it" shoe that I was searching for. From the articles I had read I should be in motion-controlled shoes but they only hurt my feet. To heck with all this I decided. In fact, on a lark I decided to try minimalist running. Thinking that if I strengthened my feet it wouldn't matter what shoe I wore. Well, by running in minimalist shoes (Vibram Sprints for me), my feet have become stronger and running more enjoyable. My running injuries no longer exist and I actually enjoy running more. So my advice would be to throw out all that over/under pronation mumbo-gumbo out the window and embrace what you (and us all) were evolved to run on-our feet.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dragging my Daughter Into It

Yesterday I gave my Vibrams the ultimate test; make it through my Sunday 12-15km run with my daughter (30+lbs) in the jogging stroller. My vibrams smiled up at me and I figured out a loop that I could cut short if this little experiment didn't go well.
My daughter hopped in the jogging stroller along with her baby doll, sooky blanket and five mini barbie dolls, along with the standard supplies of cookies, blueberries, juice (for her) and water (for both of us). All in all the stroller probably weighs about 50 pounds when everything and everybody is snug inside. I usually find it a great upper body and quad workout and a great way to spend some private time with my daughter doing something I love.
As we rolled along the quiet streets she and I chatted as usual until I began to run. I didn't really notice any major difference in my running. My feet felt fine, despite the extra weight and I cruised along at a pretty good tempo. Once I start to run my daughter switches into humming/random song singing. I can get any combo of row-row your boat, to part of a pop song she heard on the radio to some crazy song she decides to make up on the spot (by the way-she's 3). I find her songs pretty entertaining. For a few runs I hadn't realized she was doing it until strangers started laughing and I would take off my earbuds to hear her yelling out nursery rhymes. Nowadays I just leave my Ipod at home when I run with her.
Once we approached the downtown part of the village there were alot more runners out and about. My daughter would point out each one and let me know if they were running fast or slow in her opinion. One girl seemed very determined not to get passed by us as we came along, but in the end we went cruising by during one of her walk breaks. I think I heard her say "seriously?" when she saw my Vibrams.
Overall it was a great run. My daughter got her customary 12km run in with mom, her standard ice cream cone and joe louis cake and I got in an awesome run in my Vibrams with the most beautiful girl in the world singing me background music!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vibrams take to the Track

My vibram adventure took me to the indoor track today. The humidity outside was just too much at lunchtime so I opted for the nice air conditioned ice rink indoor track beside my work.
I have been finding my motivation to run waning a bit in the last 2 weeks. Could it be my summer vacation last week? The humidity? The idea of running a fall marathon? No, I think my real problem is much simpler than all that. I'd rather be running in my vibrams and running in anything else just doesn't sound as fun anymore. A month ago I would have thought that notion was totally nuts, but here I am, day after day looking at my vibrams and wanting to run in them rather than my regular running shoes. I think I might have become converted.
Today's run was my longest in the vibrams yet; 7km. I did try to take it easy by walking the last 200 meters of each kilometer but I will confess as well that I snuck in some very speedy sprints in the middle (to see how it felt). My calves were a bit tight towards the end of the run but overall I was able to run pretty close to my standard pace throughout. I feel alot faster when I run in the vibrams, but I can tell from my breathing that I'm not actually running any faster. I still haven't figured out why that is yet.
I have had a few people comment on my vibrams but I still haven't seem anyone else out training in them. I think if I do I will have to stop and chat with them so I can share my love for the minimalist way :-)) Hopefully whoever it is doesn't mind pausing their own run!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Those look like comfortable shoes

A nice lady said that to me after my run in the vibrams today. I smiled and tried really, really hard not to break into a monologue from Forrest Gump. In reality I said they were and I really enjoyed running in them. Her raised eyebrows told me I had stepped into TMI/you must be nuts zone.
The second run in my vibrams was on the sidewalk by my work. This little 4km loop takes me on some rather rolling hills, but it also gave me the perfect opportunity to head back early if the run didn't turn out well. As with my first run my legs immediately fell directly under my hips and my stride shortened, but my overall pace wasn't really affected which was great. I felt the sidewalk, but the little bumps were cushioned enough but the thin rubber sole that it wasn't a bother. I was able to relax into my run better this time since I wasn't constantly watching for large pebbles. Overall I was really pleased with how these vibrams are working out. I might even work them into a regular run next week if my calves recover well after today's adventures.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My first run with my new Vibram Five Finger shoes was beyond expectation. I decided the best place for me to try them out was on a trail system that had varied terrain consisting of fine gravel, larger gravel pieces, tree needles and dirt. The idea was to minimize the shock to my legs. I set my watch for 30 minutes and off I went, I immediately noticed how my legs fell directly under my hips and my stride shortened. I felt like I was standing much taller than I usually do.
As I powered up small inclines and carefully watched my footing as I went down declines I passed alot of people going to and from the adjoining lake. I heard a few say something along the lines of "what's that on her feet" as my bright neon-purple vibrams and I came cruising past. I felt more in touch with my surroundings and I noticed how much quieter my run sounded. I even think I sneaked up on a squirrel as he was munching on a leaf and as I came within a half meter he jumped and ran for a hole. I didn't feel as much as an intruder to their territory.
I told myself to take this run easy, that pushing the pace would only hurt my calves, but it was just so simply liberating to feel the ground under you as you run that I found myself only taking breaks after I ran out of breath.
I can't wait for tomorrow's run!