… but “I’ll be back”!
Still running around in minshoes or barefoot. Watch this space for my first race report …
… but “I’ll be back”!
Still running around in minshoes or barefoot. Watch this space for my first race report …
The term barefoot shoes is an oxymoron. Yeah, how can having shoes be barefoot. Well it’s not. Sure, in an ideal world for those that want to frolic barefoot all the time, then shoes can be taken out of the equation. However, it’s just not gonna work going barefoot all the time in many situations. Aside from the trials that the weather brings (at the moment its -4° C and snowing here), there is the gotta-fit-in aspect. Sure, I could walk around in Vibram all day long, but to be honest I just don’t want the attention it brings. I’m comfortable enough actually going around with monkey-shoes, but I just don’t want the “Oh, look what he’s got on his feet!” all the time. Some of this is positive, some negative.
Anyway, so “barefoot” shoes are generally shoes that have a very thin sole with zero drop (no heel-to-toe height difference). They’re not the same as going barefoot, but careful selection of barefoot or minimalist shoes can give your feet some of the feeling of actually being barefoot. And that brings me to the point of this post: My first pair of barefoot shoes that actually look like “normal” shoes. A pair of Merrel Barefoot Edge Glove. They are incredibly comfortable, fairly warm, have a spacious toe-box, and look kinda normal. I have also noticed that Vibram are making soles for various shoe manufacturers. Merrell being one of them.
So. No more people staring at my feet. Thank you :)
It happens quite often. I get periods where I marathon watch TV series. This time, due to a two day fever, I have been in the world of The 4400. To be honest it’s not the best of series, but I’m still addicted. So now I’m up to S02E06.
But really what I’m waiting for is the continuation of The Walking Dead. Now that is a series! It’s up there with the epicness of LOST. I still find myself admiring the actor Andrew Lincoln, who for me, has his roots as Egg in the brilliant series This Life. It took a few episodes before I truly allowed this English actor to become Rick, the American officer of the law, who is a master at Zombie annihilation. Sheriff hat’s off.
Other than plenty more episodes of the 4400, I have a few new books to consume. And you know what, I think I am becoming a caveman.
The next 3 books on my reading list are:
Ett Sötare Blod (A sweeter blood), Barefoot Running: How to run light and free by getting in touch with The Earth, and The Paleo Diet for Athletes.
It’s pretty much all about getting back to your roots. Caveman roots.
A fantastic day at the gym today! Well when I say day, I actually mean hour.
Wasn’t sure how my feet would react on the treadmill today after my 1K run a few days ago outside (-12°C) that left my feet kinda raw. After 15 minutes barefoot it felt great and I reckoned that another 15 minutes would work. It did. So at a 6 min/km pace I managed my longest 5K barefoot ever. Felt great! At this point my feet were feeling kinda worn out, so I quickly put on my VFF Speed and finished off another 5K. In total 10K @27minutes. A good days (hours) work!
I believe what got my through this 10K was the following video from the Natural Running Center by Mark Cucuzzella:
In recent weeks I’ve gotten in some barefoot running at the gym on the treadmill. Other than being completely mundane, the track gets too hot and gives me blisters. So in a bid to keep up the milage on the treadmill I’ll put on a pair of VFF and run further. This is where I think I am getting somewhere with regards to finding the correct technique. It feels good on my knees, my body feels relaxed, it feels like I am landing on my forefoot first, it feels like I am lifting my legs and not pushing off, my cadence is 180.
So with all this in my mind I decided to try out this technique outside, in the real world. Just to remind you, I live in Sweden. It’s cold here. -12°C at the moment. So less than optimal conditions for barefoot running. On with my VFF Spyridon. Lovely and warm. Even had a pair of socks on too. But, something that I am very aware of after reading Barefoot Ken‘s book Barefoot Running Step by Step (incidentally, I’ll be doing a book review of this soon), there is no sensory feedback with these minimalist shoes. So from the offset I could hear my foot either slapping the ground (flat foot landing), or thudding into the ground (heal strike). Not at all good! After a little over 4km of trying to find the elusive correct technique, I quit my run. My left knee at this point was not enjoying things, so a very wise decision. Very frustrating though.
On my walk back to my starting point (home), I starting thinking what it would feel like to run barefoot. Right now. These thoughts quickly evolved into the realisation that I was definitely going to take both shoes and socks off and run home. The main question was: How cold is it for my feet really, and how long can I endure it?
With roughly 800 metres to my house I whipped of my VFF and socks, and started my first REAL barefoot run outside. After 20 metres I kinda realised that this was a little stupid. But at the same time actually felt good on the knees. Let me just point out that it was after 8pm. Dark. The street lamps where however sufficient enough to guide my feet, but it was almost impossible to see exactly what I was landing on. Terra firma for this 800 metre journey was a mixture of ice, snow, gravel and various pavement and road surfaces. But to be honest my feet couldn’t distinguish between any of it. They were completely numb and frozen after 100 meters. At 400 meters I was seriously thinking about putting my shoes back on, but realising that I would need to sit down to have a chance of getting my freezing toes into the VFF I just continued. The last 100 metres were filled both with the anguish of “How many foreign objects do I have buried in my feet?” and the elation of “I am nearly there, I did it (crazy bastard)”.
Writing this some 45 minutes after getting home, my feet are still tingling (in a kinda burning way), but I am so glad that I “dared” to run barefoot in, well let’s just say, less than optimal conditions. Anyone know of any places to run indoors?
Todays session at the gym was musically inspired by the film I saw at the weekend. Les Misérables. Wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I’d never heard the music before (well maybe bits of it). It truelly was an uplifting experience. And yes, Anne Hathaway was fantastic. However, the person that stole the show for me was the character Thénardier played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Best know for his roles as Ali G and Borat, I was half expecting to hear the lines “Is it coz I is black” somewhere in there. Anyway. A great film and fantastic music. Maybe not for the gym though.
Other than a non-inspiring session with various machines at the gym, my training today contained 1km barefoot running on the treadmill and 3km with Vibram FiveFingers. The last time barefoot on the treadmill I quickly got blisters. After tips from Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton to lift my foot and not push off, I tried this. Hmmm. Very difficult to know if I’m doing it correct. The fact that I could feel blisters coming after 1km this time, is an indication that I’m not doing it correct. What I really need is somewhere to practice. Like an indoor arena with a hard surface. Maybe the blistering is coming from the warmth of the band, and the fact that getting a natural barefoot technique in order on a treadmill is eh… not natural.
Something interesting has appeared on my radar via Instagram. A couple of guys that go by the name of Han med skor and Han utan skor (translated from Swedish: Him with shoes and Him without shoes) have declared that they are starting a new marathon in Sweden.
At the moment this movement is somewhat underground, but I’m sure this is all part of the marketing tactics these cunning guys have. Build up a fanbase and support before going public. I think it could just work! Anyway, through following their pics on Instagram and their newly started blog, I have managed to attain the following information:
Now, I have absolutely no idea how to go about creating a marathon, but I can only imagine there is alot of red tape and hurdles to pass to get to the finishing line. So I’ll take this opportunity to wish Mr shoe and Mr shoeless all the best with their plans! I am looking forward to your announcement in April, and I hope to be able to run.
Jason Robillard, like many barefoot runners, found his way into barefoot running through injury. In the preface to his book The Barefoot Running Book: The Art and Science of Barefoot Minimalist Shoe Running, he tells us of this journey to shodless running. After setting the scene we are presented with “The First Steps” and an introduction to barefoot running. The following chapter then goes on to describe more concrete concepts and specific drills to help in the initial stages before actually starting your first barefoot run. Much emphasis is placed on taking things easy. The book then progresses quickly onto advanced barefoot running, where we are encouraged that “Now the fun really begins”. By this stage I could feel my feet on the ground, lightly and quickly moving across shifting terrain, running in some warm climate. Unfortunately I was on a bus in sub zero temperatures in Sweden. But my time will come.
The following chapters cover Troubleshooting and Challenges, and present real world problems (and solutions) that have plagued Jason. Training plans and many examples of different Cross-training drills/exercises conclude the “science of” part of the book (undoubtedly the part of the book that will get most page curls), whereas the book is nicely rounded of with Jasons account of when he ran the Hallucination 100 Mile Race in September 2009. This part reminded me a little of Born to Run by Chris McDougall, and the highs and lows of running an ultramarathon. Reading this part gives a sense of closeness to both Jason and what it’s all about; getting out there and running. (A side note: There are some really funny elements throughout this book which left me grinning. I am normally a straight faced reader)
Altogether this was a thoroughly enjoyable book that explained barefoot running in a non-complicated and un-biased way. There was a good balance between true barefoot running and running with minimalist shoes, and between the science of running and the fun of running.
It is my intention to bookmark several pages: the drills, the ample cross-training section, and the training plans. Other interesting content are the appendix with a list of notable barefoot/minimalist runners, and barefoot resources (invaluable websites).
Being the first book of it’s kind that I’ve read, I have no other references to compare too, and I imagine that there are more technical and bulkier books out there. Although, when it boils down to it, the whole point of minimalist running is less is more. So maybe this little gem of a book will grow to become the barefoot bible.
Thank you Jason for an inspiring book!
In this case, a very inspiring package with two books about barefoot running. The first “Barefoot Running Step by Step” by Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton. A true barefoot runner. The second book by Jason Robillard (eh, a true barefoot runner too): The Barefoot Running Book. Jason’s book include more information about running in minimalist shoes, whereas Barefoot Ken describes shoes as “foot coffins”. But the general theme of the books seems to be technique. I’ll post reviews soon …
Otherwise: A quick 10 minute barefoot run on the treadmill at the local fitness centre today. Still not sure how my technique is. It felt good though! First time last week I ended up with huge blisters, but things seemed better this time. I reckon it’s the friction on the treadmills rubber track. What I really want is to get outside and do the real thing barefoot but it’s just too frickin’ cold here in Sweden at the moment. (Note to myself: Find an indoor track)
(Hmmm. Good job I checked the title before publishing this post. Don’t know what kinda “animal” could use Vibram FiveFeet!)
Always equally exciting receiving a package in the post. Todays contents: Vibram FiveFingers Speed. This is my second pair of VFF. My first pair where purchased a couple of weeks back. The’ve seen a few km’s on the treadmill, but today was the first time outside in a pair. So on with the Speeds and off to the gym.
Actually, back to the “on with the Speeds…” part. It’s not just a case of slipping them on and that’s it. There’s a fair bit of toe juggling required with the following thoughts popping up – “Where the heck is my little toe”, “Ok, all you little fellas in place, what…why are two toes snuggled up together…”, “What the F#@K, I swear I had 5 toes!”, and so on …
The main problem seems to be that darn pinky toe that after a lifetime of abuse in “normal” shoes, wants to hide under it’s neighbour. Well I’m sure it’ll get easier.
Once the VFF’s are finally in place they feel real comfy! I guess you could compare it to slipping on a glove. Initial concerns that my feet would turn into blocks of ice, where quickly melted, and 1°C proved to be a perfectly ok temperature (well at least for this short 15 minute walk). I’m pretty sure I’ll need toe-socks for temperatures hitting -5 or colder though.
So here I am walking around in VFF. I gotta say, it felt really nice! The ground at the moment is a mess of stones, gravel, ice, and other crap once hidden by snow. So all this debris does require some focusing on exactly where your treading. But I’ve gotta say, it was like a complete massage for my feet. And the feeling of actually being able to sense what I am walking on was exciting.
Oh, And I did some running at the gym too. With my other pair of VFF. 3 x 1km @5,30min/km. Pretty sure my teknik is good, coz my calf muscles where screaming at me. Gonna feel that tomorrow! And incidently I reckon I might be bold enough to wear my new VFF Speeds to the office tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of explaining to do. I’m more than happy to tell you!…