Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fartlek Run

I did a fartlek run this morning. Once again, I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. Jason Robillard says that if you're new to running, then it will be slow, and it should approach or surpass our 5k speed. What does that mean? My fartlek runs consist of short sprints separated by brief walks to cool down. I should look into it to make sure I'm doing it right.

Anyway, it was a good run. I like fast runs. I feel more in control for some weird reason. There were alot of people at the track, so I felt self-conscious, but that's okay. I just ignored it and did my thing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

13 Laps

It may have been twelve laps. I think it was thirteen, but lap three may have been only two. I was only going to run twelve laps, but to make sure I didn't cheat, I slapped on an extra lap at the end, making it thirteen. I'm training myself to persevere. I used to be one to take the easy way out, but not anymore. However, I'm pretty sure I didn't miscount.

My form is becoming more relaxed, which is good. I was very aware of my breathing and posture. I'm slowly learning what good posture feels like. I feel like form becomes easier with speed. On lap thirteen, I sped up to almost a sprint. I feel more control at a sprint. I hardly bounce, I breathe fine, and I just feel good. Plus, the fact that I can run farther than I've ever run in my life, feel worn out, and finish it off with a sprint, says either my distance-running form needs work or that there's just something about sprinting that feels good.

There was no soreness or anything. I felt sort of tired early on, but once again, I felt about the same the whole way through. I wasn't dead at the end.

I read a couple review of the upcoming New Balance Minimus Zero Trail and Road shoes. They were positive. I'm glad that more companies are releasing legitimate minimalist shoes. I like to think that as more and more come out and more and more people are buying them, the price will go down.

My aqua lites are plenty for me, though.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tempo Run - 4 Laps

I ran a 4 lap tempo run today. I think I still haven't quite figured the tempo run out. I wore myself out again and had to stop to walk a bit. I was well-hydrated today, but I still tired quickly. I think I'm going through a phase. I hope it passes soon.

One reason might be my lack of sleep. I've been getting a maximum of 6 hours of sleep a night recently. I don't really notice it throughout the day, but I wonder if I would have more energy if I were to improve my sleeping habits.

I'm falling in love with my neo trails. It's so nice to be able to walk normal all day every day. I've noticed a definite difference in the way I walk now. I'm much lighter on my feet. Since I started barefoot/minimalist running, I've begun to carry myself much better. My balance has improved. I'm much more comfortable on my feet, especially when barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes.

For my birthday, I think I'm going to get a pair of Teva Zilchs. Eventually, I might also get a pair of VivoBarefoot Dylans. While my neo trails are good enough for now, the Dylans are better for casual wear. The soles are thinner, for one. I could wear my aqua lites, but with soles that thin and a price that high, I think I'd better reserve them for running. My neo trails should also eventually be reserved for trail running. I want them to last as long as possible.

I'm not going to buy new dress shoes just yet. I have two pairs right now. Some might say it's about time I got some new ones because they're well-used and worn, but I can't justify buying more shoes right now, and since I only wear them once a week, they'll probably last me a little while longer. However, when I do buy new shoes, I think I'll get some Vivobarefoot Ras.

Jason Robillard prefers the Merrell Tough Gloves for dress-shoes, but honestly, I think he is a little biased. Merrell seems to be the only minimalist shoe manufacturer that he talks about. I've seen alot of good come from Vivobarefoot, but I've only heard him mention them a few times. I'm glad that Merrell is making an effort to go barefoot, but Vivobarefoot is definitely more dedicated to the movement. Merrell could get by if their barefoot line never sold, but Vivobarefoot is all minimalist.

Plus, while Merrell has different shoes for different purposes, they aren't all that different from each other. Heck, their dress shoe has the same sole as their trail running shoe. The main difference between the true glove and the trail glove is that the trail glove's upper is more flexible. I honestly think the only ones worth buying are the tough and trail gloves because they do everything the others do. Hopefully their 2012 line has a little more variety and specialization.

That's where Vivobarefoot shines. While they have some multi-purpose shoes like Merrell's (Evo and Neo), they also have one of the most specialized road shoes (my aqua lites), and some serious trail shoes (my neo trails). They also have water-friendly shoes, hiking boots, dress shoes (that look much better than Merrell's tough gloves), casual shoes, etc.

They have the biggest selection of minimalist shoes I've seen. And they are true minimalist. Their shoes aren't the Nike Free, the Reebok Reelflex, or even the New Balance Minimus. Nike and Reebok are targeting people that really don't know the first thing about minimalist running, New Balance is targeting people that know the first thing, Merrell is targeting people that know the second thing, and Vivobarefoot is targeting people that are totally cool with wearing no shoes at all.

About New Balance, they're designing a new line that will be more minimal than their current. It's called the Minimus Zero. They'll be zero-drop and all. Anyway, I was reading an article about the development of the new soles. It mentions that the principal designer has had difficulty developing a midfoot strike, but running in the shoes he's designing has helped him out. I don't think they should have said that in the article. It's not the most reassuring thing to hear that the man in charge of designing a minimalist line of shoes is not himself a minimalist runner. Because of that, I doubt he has the best judgment of what makes a good minimalist shoe. I can't say I do either, but I think there are probably some people working at New Balance that know more about it than this guy.

But then again, New Balance, like Merrell, is selling its name. They don't have to make a shoe as good as Vivobarefoot's to make money. Vivobarefoot, as small as they are, have to really excel to stay in the running, and excel they do. Plus, Vivobarefoot has Lee Saxby on their side. I'm sure he gives them alot of suggestions for their shoes. He gives them legitimacy.

Maybe I'm as biased towards Vivobarefoot as Jason Robillard is towards Merrell. I don't know. I just feel that Vivobarefoot is more serious about it. Merrell, as Jason says, is trying to convert shod runners to minimalist running. Vivobarefoot, on the other hand, is mostly targeting those already converted. It's cool and all what Merrell is doing, but I'm already converted. I already bought my pair of Merrells. On to Vivobarefoot.

Then again, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised by Merrell's new line next year...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

11 Laps/2 Miles

Before I talk about the 2 mile run, I'll speak of a run I did over thanksgiving break, which I didn't blog about. I was in washington, and I didn't know distances, but my brother-inlaw drew me a map for a route which he said was a mile and a half. I was excited for an outdoor run. It's not as cold in Olympia, Washington as it is where I am in Idaho.

Anyway, I started the run and there was a downhill portion, which was interesting. I haven't done a downhill run since I started running. It was fun trying to apply barefoot form to a new activity.

Unfortunately, when I was pretty sure I'd passed the mile-and-a-half mark, the end still wasn't in sight, and I was getting tired. I stopped, afraid I'd find the end just around the corner. However, I wasn't even close to the end. I'm pretty sure it was at least two miles. Anyway, I ran the last stretch. It felt good, but I'm just so used to being able to measure my distance.

I was supposed to run again before I came home, but I didn't. My feet were a little sore. I think it was a combination of walking in minimalist shoes all day and going to the beach during the low-tide (it's a rocky beach, so my feet were working hard). So, I think I made the right decision.

Anyway, on to today's run. I ran two miles. I ran slower than I usually do. Before, I couldn't run slow without bouncing a bunch, but my form is better now. However, my feet and calves still felt pretty hot and tired through most of it. I first noticed this when I started wearing my aqua lites as opposed to fully barefoot. I'm not sure if it's because I'm wearing shoes or if my feet are just going through a phase.

Throughout the run, I almost feel like I'm using muscles that are only used for slow running and neglecting muscles used for faster running. Sometimes I'm tempted to speed up because it feels like it would be easier, but I stop myself. I wonder sometimes if there's a minimum speed you should go to maximize energy savings. I've never read that, but I honestly feel like I have to force myself to go slow. Maybe I'll experiment a little and figure it out.

Because I felt that way, I sped up on the last lap. Throughout the run, I constantly felt tired and ready to stop, yet it felt really good to speed up. That doesn't seem right. I think I might try to google that and see what other people say. Maybe it really is that I need to build a little muscle that's only used for slow running, and then it will be a cakewalk. We will see.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tempo Run, 4 Laps

I ran a four lap tempo run today. For those that don't know, a tempo run is a faster run for a shorter distance. It should be faster than your usual pace, but slow enough that conversation is still possible, though difficult.

I ran a little to fast at the beginning and wore myself out midway through. I had to slow down. However, I'm not too upset because I'm still new to this. I imagine I'll have a much better feel for this after doing it for a while. However, I finished and felt good about it. Whether or not I went to fast at the beginning, I'll still benefit from it.

I'm getting more used to my aqua lites. I love them. They're the best. And the fit is just fine. What I'm not yet used to is walking in them. Normally, the only barefoot/minimalist walking I do is to and from the indoor track, and until now, I did that in my Merrell True Gloves, which have thicker soles. Thus, I haven't quite learned the art of barefoot walking form.

Sometimes, my knee starts to hurt a little bit as I walk to the indoor track. I'm working on a softer landing, but it's harder than running because walking is normally heel-first. However, I think I'm just so used to walking in padded shoes. I can't wait until I get my neo trails because then I'll be pad-free. I'll be forced to learn barefoot-form because I'll be doing it all the time. Only on sundays will I ever wear anything with a raised heel.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I was going to run stairs yesterday, but like last time, I ran out of time in the morning and went at night when the gym was full, so I did a fartlek run in the indoor track instead.

I was going to run ten laps again, but my quads were pretty sore and my calves and feet felt hot, so I stopped after a lap and walked a bit. At that point, I was debating whether or not to stop and go home. Basically, I was pretty sure I couldn't run ten laps. However, I really didn't want to stop, so I did a fartlek run.

It was fun. I like fartlek runs. It's only my second one, so I'm still working on my barefoot form at higher speeds. This time was definitely more natural than last week. I'm improving on my cadence. Previously, my legs didn't want to move that fast, but now they're moving alot easier. I felt my posture was better as well. It's sort of nice running at night because I can see my reflection in the windows and correct my form.

As for my aqua lites, I'm really starting to like them. Last time, I was unsure what I thought. They felt loose, which I wasn't used to. However, I found that as long as I tied them right, they wouldn't shift too much, and that's the only problem with looseness. They give my feet plenty of room to do what they need to do, and the soles are thin enough to allow plenty of proprioception. I think I'm honestly more excited about them now than I was when I first got them.

I truly miss running barefoot, but these are the next best thing. Unfortunately, my feet feel hot in them because they're waterproof and therefore not that breathable, but I just need to get used to that. I'm not sure why they decided to make the aqua lites with aquaphobic material. I mean, they're pure road shoes. The neo trails are the same way and I'm guessing they got alot of complaints about it because they're releasing a new trail shoe with a mesh top for breathability. However, the neo trails make a great winter shoe, so I'm not fretting about it.

Also, the aqua lites have almost no tread, so they don't work well with ice. However, it's actually sort of fun running on black ice. It forces you to run correctly. If you overstride or push off, you'll slip, so you have to land under your center of gravity and barely kiss the ground. I actually think it might be a good way to learn form. I might do a few outdoor runs with my aqua lites now.

I'm really starting to enjoy running. I'm feeling more confident and I feel like running every day even though I know I shouldn't just yet. I can't wait until the day I can. Maybe once I'm running three miles or so. I want my feet and legs to be built up. I only recently started my fartlek runs and I have yet to start stair stepping, and I want to have done both of those for a while before I start back-to-back runs. I'm feeling sore in my quads because of my fartlek runs and I'm sure I'll feel even more when I start stair stepping. But this is a good thing.

Also, Lee Saxby says we should squat instead of sit as often as we can. It sounds sort of funny, but he says it uses many skills similar to barefoot running. I've been trying it out. My balance isn't all that great just yet and I can feel my calves stretching when I do it. I imagine after a while, it will feel natural. He says that in countries where people often live without furniture, squatting is common, so I imagine it becomes fairly comfortable after a while. Hopefully, it helps with my runs.

The Sock Doc says we shouldn't start any anaerobic exercise until we have an aerobic base. However, he doesn't say how you really know when you have it or not. I'm pretty darn sure I don't have one, so I stopped doing pushups. However, since I don't have any way of really knowing when I get there, I'm planning to start anaerobic exercise once I start running three miles. That's about a month and a half from now. I think I'm going to start with Jason Robillard's program and sort of make it up from there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 Laps in Aqua Lites

I got my aqua lites today. I was so stoked. Unfortunately, they came while I was on my way out the door. When I got back in the late afternoon, I tried them on. My first impression was that they were too big, but honestly, I've never worn minimalist shoes that fit, so I really had no idea what they were supposed to feel like. I fiddled with the laces until I could tie them tighter without choking my ankle. I figured I only needed them to be tight enough that my feet wouldn't shift around.

They felt weird at first. It's like I have a thin piece of cardboard beneath my feet. They're so thin. The proprioception is way better in these than the Merrell True Gloves. Plus, they have a really wide toe box, the widest I've ever seen in a shoe. They look a little funny, but not too bad. I won't wear them around every day, in other words. Plus, since the soles are so thin and stiff, they probably won't last terribly long if I use them too much.

The walk to the indoor track was interesting. I'm still not entirely used to walking barefoot, and this was about the same, except with a little less prioproception. I imagine it will feel normal before too long, but it felt funny today.

The run was good, which means I ran all ten laps. However, I grew tired pretty early on. My legs were hot and tight, and my feet felt funny at the beginning. Fortunately, the foot discomfort didn't grow into pain like I feared. My feet gradually began to feel better as they usually do when I run. I had to really focus on my form because of my fatigue. Whenever I passed the windows, I would look at my reflection and correct my posture. Also, I've found that I am struggling with the fast cadence. It tires my legs to move them that fast. I found my cadence slowing down towards the end and I had to consciously speed it back up. If only I had an ipod and I could listen to a song with 180 bpm.

I've begun to discover something about endurance, however. While I start without too much energy and I start to feel the fatigue around lap three, somehow I push through seven more laps. I'm learning to slow and deepen my breathing and relax. I surely haven't mastered it, but I'm definitely more conscious of it, and I think that's what allows me to get through the rest of the run.

Jason Robillard, speaking of foot sensitivity, said that rather than toughening our feet, we actually only interpret the pain as sensory information rather than pain. I think this applies to what I'm talking about. Previously, I thought that an experienced runner goes a long time without feeling tired. However, I'm starting to think that maybe I'm not so tired after all. Maybe in thinking I'm tired, I panic a little and start to lose my form and my breath gets shorter, resulting in real fatigue. I think I'm interpreting my heavier breathing and my not-quite-warmed-up legs as fatigue. I just need to get used to how it feels to run and not interpret that feeling as fatigue. Obviously I can run seven whole laps feeling that way the entire time. If I really was that tired, I probably couldn't do that.

However, I did feel more tired than I usually do. I think I was dehydrated. I need to drink alot more water. I don't think I've yet run fully hydrated. I need to get on the ball.

On thanksgiving, I'm going running in Washington with my brother. We're running to the coast and back, about three miles round-trip. Unfortunately, next week's run is two miles, so I'm not quite conditioned for that. However, I like to think that we'll have some time to rest once we get there. I can handle a mile and a half. I'm looking forward to it. I'll just have to make sure I'm well-hydrated. I don't want to kill myself.

On a positive note, running a mile isn't intimidating at all anymore. It used to be. Heck, a few months ago, I tried to run from my house to the nearest stop sign, almost a half-mile away. I think I ran half the distance, walked the rest, turned and walked a little bit, then ran the final two-thirds back and almost threw up. Today I ran almost two miles and felt...tired. At this rate, two miles will soon sound small, then three miles, four, etc.

Also, I think the neo trails will help alot. Lee Saxby, Jason Robillard, and most other barefoot runners say you should learn to walk barefoot before running. Unfortunately, I don't get too many opportunities to walk barefoot anymore. It's freezing cold outside here in Idaho, so I'm forced to wear shoes, and my shoes aren't close to minimalist. When my neo trails come, I'll wear those every day. Walking in minimalist shoes all day every day will definitely change the way I walk. Soon, walking in padded shoes will be weird. I'm looking forward to getting used to walking and running the way nature intended.

I think eventually my posture will correct itself, I'll become lighter on my feet, my feet will grow stronger, I'll be more balanced, my feet and legs will feel better, etc. I'm stoked. I never want to go back to padded shoes. I just hope that minimalist shoes start to get cheaper. Living a minimalist lifestyle is supposed to be cheaper.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Neo Trails Delayed, Aqua Lites Coming Tomorrow

Yesterday, I got an email saying that my aqua lites shipped. I was confused because I'd ordered the neo trails two days before the aqua lites. Today, I got another email saying that they've been having some issues and the neo trails would be delayed another day or two.

Oh well. The aqua lites are the most important. I can't run until I get them. But it really is frustrating that I have to wait even longer for the neo trails. Fortunately, the ground isn't covered in snow yet.

Anyway, I'm missing a day of running this week because of the wait. If the neo trails were here and not the aqua lites, I would run outside in some grass or something. But alas, it's too cold outside for bare feet and all I have are thick-soled shoes and too-small Merrell True Gloves. If I was tougher, I'd still run barefoot, but I'm not.

On a lighter not, I'm trying to educate myself about barefoot running as much as I can, and I'm writing an essay about it. It's primarily an informative essay that seeks to establish the legitimacy of barefoot running.

I wrote a rough draft. Now I'm reading some of Daniel Leiberman's work in order to better educate myself on the science behind it. I'm also trying to find sources to cite. Most of what I know is from people like Jason Robillard and Michael Sandler, who have plenty of experience, but no PHD next to their names. Citing Daniel Leiberman, being a Harvard researcher, would give me credibility.

I hope that, in writing this essay, I'll become comfortable enough in my knowledge that I can talk about it confidently with people that ask questions.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Only 8 Laps

During the last lap of my last run (two days ago), a guy approached me and asked me to put shoes on. I figured he didn't know the dress code. He probably hadn't seen too many barefoot runners and just figured it couldn't be within the code. Fortunately, it was my last lap, so I just finished. Also, it was at night, and I usually run in the mornings, so I figured I wouldn't see him again. However, this morning, another guy said the same thing, only it was on lap 8 instead of 10. I said I didn't know it was part of the code and he said it was for sanitary reasons. I looked it up and he was right, it's against code. Darn it.

No more barefoot running in the indoor track for me.

Anyway, it might have been for the best that I ended early. My shins were sore from my speed run two days ago, and my feet felt a little funny. But gosh darn it, I wanted to run 10 laps so I could run 11 next week. I would run 10 my first run next week and up it to 11 for the last run, but I can't run in the indoor track. I could if my stinking Merrell True Gloves were the right size. When my VivoBarefoot Neo Trails come, I can run outside in the snow.

After that guy said that, I realized that unless I get some new road shoes, snow running is all I can do, and I don't think I want to do that every time. So, I thought for a few minutes and ordered a pair of VivoBarefoot Aqua Lites. I hope I don't regret this. I told myself that the Neo Trails were my only Christmas present, but now I'm eating my words.

I've had my eye on the Aqua Lites for a while now, though. They're the most proprioceptive shoes I know of besides ultra-thin huaraches and socks. Their soles are 3mm thick. They have hardly any tread at all. Their toe boxes are plenty big. They're super flexible. Also, they're fairly water-proof, which probably means they'll get hot, but that's okay. They're Lee Saxby's favorite.

The way I see the VivoBarefoot collection (aside from the boots, casual, and amphibious shoes) is in order from road-friendly to trail-friendly:

  1. Aqua Lite

  2. Evo

  3. Neo

  4. Neo Trails

In other words, I'll have the two most specialized running shoes. I want the Aqua Lites because I want to be as close to barefoot as possible. I want the Neo Trails because I need a good winter shoe. Plus, while being the most specialized in function, they are the most conservative in appearance. The Evos and Neos both look funny and would certainly attract more attention than the other two.

From the shoe companies I've looked at so far that aren't 100% hippy, VivoBarefoot seems to be the most barefoot-friendly. Merrell and New Balance are on the right track, but they have a little work to do. Plus, they have a small selection. This is understandable given that they are fairly new in the barefoot business. VivoBarefoot is my favorite. Let's see if that holds up once I start wearing their shoes.

Anyway, my problem is solved. The soles I built up on my feet will likely be gone by spring, but I can still run. When my Aqua Lites arrive, I can hit the indoor track again. Hopefully they come quick. I hate missing my runs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I was going to do hill repeats (stairs) yesterday, but I was busy all day until 9 and the gym was full of people, and that's the only indoor place with lots of stairs to run. Instead, I decided to run a mile and try to improve my time.

First off, I should've waited until a little later because I had eaten a cupcake 45 minutes before. I thought it wouldn't be much of a problem, but my stomach felt heavy throughout the run.

My time was 7:05. I was sure that I was running faster than last time, but my time stunk. So now I'm wondering what was different last time. Did I miscount my laps? Was I much more prepared for my run? I don't know. However, I realize that 7 minutes still isn't half bad for a beginner, so I should be happy about it. I'll beat 6:40 later.

Good news, I ordered a pair of VivoBarefoot Neo Trails. I've been wanting to convert to minimalist shoes entirely, for casual, athletic, and formal use. These will be my casual shoes for now since winter's coming on and it snows a ton where I am. They're water-proof and they have a good tread. When summer comes around, I'll run trails with them. I'm stoked to get them. I think it'll make a big difference to be walking and running correctly all day every day (except sunday) rather than for an hour every other day.

My Merrell True Gloves don't really count since they're too small. I think my feet are growing wider because they're getting tight. This is a good thing. My feet are changing. But I'm afraid to run in them. I use them to walk to the indoor track for my run. They allow my feet to flex and warm up, which is still nice, but the tightness and small toebox make them bad for running. Good thing I run barefoot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fartlek Run

When I started running, my plan was to run 3 times a week, increasing distance by a lap a day until I hit 9, and then change it up. That's where I am now. Now each week, I will do a fartlek run, hill repeats, and a distance run.

Today, I did my first fartlek run. For those that don't know what that is, a fartlek run is where you run slow to warm up, then run fast until you're tired, slow down until you're ready to fun fast again, run fast, and repeat. It's nice to finally be able to run fast. It's interesting trying to keep my form when running faster. I had to think about my cadence, my stride, and a few other things because running fast feels different.

I couldn't run fast for very long, but I imagine it'll be easier the more I do it. I was wondering when I should stop. Jason Robillard says he goes for a set time instead of distance. He also says that a fartlek run is based on feel, so I decided to run until I felt like I should stop, whatever that means. Anyway, after a little while, I felt a little discomfort in my left foot, so I took that as my signal. It wasn't anything terrible, so I wasn't worried. I took it as a warning that I shouldn't run fast anymore. I haven't felt any discomfort since the run, though, so I think I did it right.

I saw someone running in Vibrams today. He saw me and said, "Barefoot's the way to go." I said, "I like your Vibrams." Profound, huh? I could've said something smarter, but we were passing each other and I didn't have time to think of a response.

After my last run (9 laps), I played racquetball in my Merrell True Gloves. I found myself pounding my feet into the ground. Soon before we ended, I took them off and played barefoot. I found it harder to move around as fast, but I wasn't pounding my feet. I was being more careful, which is instinct when barefoot. Later, my feet hurt and I had shin splints. My feet are not used to stepping lightly when covered. I have diagnosed my problem.

My feet only have two modes: barefoot and shod. They don't know the difference between minimalist and padded shoes. Barefoot means be careful, and shod means pound away. It is for this very reason that I want to completely replace all my shoes with minimalist alternatives. Gradually, without the padded heel to support the problem, shod mode would evolve into something close to barefoot mode.

I would only need three pairs: casual, dress, and sandals. Maybe a purely athletic pair. As for casual, I like the VivoBarefoot Neo Trails. Yes, they're meant for trail running, but they would be nice winter shoes. They are water-resistant and the tread would be nice for snow. In the summer, I would wear sandals, possibly the Teva Zilch. As for dress shoes, probably the VivoBarefoot Ra.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

9 Laps

Today's run was definitely the most challenging yet. It wasn't because it was the longest, however. I started to feel really tired at around lap 5 or 6. In previous runs, it wasn't until my last couple laps that I was that tired. But I pushed through and finished the run. Afterwards, I had to keep jogging a little bit because I felt like I'd throw up if I just walked. It felt good to finish, though.

I had some hot spots afterwards, but no blisters, thank heavens. No other foot pains either. I hardly even had any discomfort in my feet in the walk before the run either. There was a tad bit, but I was confident that it would go away quickly, and it did. I'm not even worried about that anymore. My calves aren't super sore anymore either. The bottleneck right now is my lungs. I can keep my legs moving just fine, but I slowly get out of breath. However, I think I diagnosed my problem.

Around the mile marker, when I started to feel tired, I sort of panicked. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish. Plus, when you think you're tired and out of breath, you are. It wasn't until my last lap that I discovered my problem. When I was on the last stretch, I started to relax because I was no longer afraid that I'd fail. I started breathing deeper and more slowly. If I had done that alot sooner, I wouldn't have had a problem. I think that's one reason why Jason Robillard, Chris McDougall, and Michael Sandler keep saying to stop thinking about the finish line and just have fun.

I talked about Lee Saxby in my last couple posts. He says that our ankles often tighten up when our wrists are tight. Today, I focused on keeping my arms and wrists loose. I think I'm getting the hang of it. I also quickened my cadence a bit. If only I had an ipod so I could listen to music with 180 bpm. Instead, I have to guess at the right cadence. I'm trying to utilize my tendons as much as possible to conserve my muscle energy.

Also, I timed myself. I ran a mile in about 6:40. Being a running newbie, I wasn't sure how good that is, so I found an online forum about other peoples' mile times and here are some tidbits of what I found:

  • "My lowest time so far has been about 8 min and 40 secs."

  • "My best is like 10 minutes..."

  • "I typically run a 10 minute high school track a good time for 1 mile was under 6 minutes. LOL I won't see those numbers anytime soon!"

  • "MY time was about 12 mins for a mile."

  • "I generally run 8:45 per mile in training....7:30 in racing short races."

  • "My best time for running 1 mile is 5:08."

  • "my best mile time is a 6.40"

  • "...i run 530 ish..."

My time obviously won't get me first place in a race, but I've only been running for a couple months. Actually, it's more like one month because the first month was almost entirely composed of dealing with foot pain and shin splints, so I didn't progress much at all. In fact, it was only three weeks ago that I started over, running only 1 lap that first day. Plus, I've never in my life run regularly. I've always been the first to run out of breath. Plus, I'm 4870 feet above sea level where the air is thinner. This morning, I was convinced that I was a really slow runner, but after looking those times up, I'm starting to change my mind. If I'm running a 7-minute mile after running for 3 weeks, imagine how much faster my mile will be here in the next few months. I imagine my speed will increase when I start doing fartlek runs.

Now that I think of it, that might be another reason why I was tired. I was focusing on my mile time, and probably ran faster than I'm used to. Maybe I should slow down a bit. It's difficult for me to run slower and try to maintain my form. The slower I go, the more I bounce, so in trying not to bounce, I naturally speed up. Maybe if my legs were shorter, I wouldn't have this problem. I'm 6'3".

Once again, I'm also pretty sure that I wasn't hydrated enough. In the morning, I wake up, throw on my exercise clothes, drink some water, throw in my contacts, walk to the indoor track, drink a little more water, and run. I highly doubt that's enough water. What I really need to do is hydrate the night before.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

8 Laps, Lee Saxby

I ran 8 laps this morning, just under a mile and a half. I was going to run yesterday, but I was too busy in the morning, and feeling a little sick in the evening. I prayed that I'd be up to running today, and I was. I starting to feel a little more confident. I mentioned before that I'm afraid I may not be able to progress as fast as I'd like because I was getting progressively more and more tired with each run. However, the increase in fatigue, I think, was only because my runs were only beginning to challenge me. I noticed today that I wasn't much more tired than I was when I ran three laps. I think I'm still adjusting from easy to challenging runs.

No blisters, no pain besides calf soreness, which is understandable. I'm trying out trigger-point therapy, as advised by the Sock Dock, to help with that.

Anyway, I've done alot of reading and seen alot of videos in order to understand the theory behind barefoot running. However, I think Lee Saxby does a really good job of explaining the basics in this video I found. In fact, I think he demonstrates and explains the faster cadence better than anyone else I've seen. I think this is the video I'll show to people that ask me about barefoot running.

I hope you enjoyed the video.

EDIT: I just discovered that Lee Saxby wrote an ebook for VIVOBAREFOOT. It's a great intro to barefoot running. It gives a good explanation of the idea behind it and shares a few drills to build strength and form. It's a short and easy read. I learned a few new things, so I recommend it to anyone that liked the video.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stem Footwear

I've been looking around for a good casual minimalist shoe that won't draw attention. My Merrell True Gloves are too flashy and clownish for an everyday shoe. Unfortunately, almost all minimalist footwear are flashy. It's like the hybrid car movement. I've always said that the main reason I won't get a hybrid car is that they look funny. Why can't they look like normal cars? Why can't they make minimalist shoes that look normal? Not all of us want to draw attention. I just want a thin flexible sole and a wide toe-box. That's all.

To my delight, I found Stem Footwear. All the reviews I've seen are positive. So far, they only have one shoe, and it's a slightly sporty casual shoe, which is basically what I've been looking for. It has a more conservative appearance for a minimalist shoe. Plus, it's about $90, which is a bit cheaper than most minimalist shoes, averaging over $100. I'm considering saving up and buying myself a christmas present this year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Barefoot Running Book, by Jason Robillard

Probably the biggest help I've had in my effort to learn barefoot running is The Barefoot Running Book, by Jason Robillard. I read through a few other books and they all disagreed on many points. Jason, at the beginning of the book, acknowledges this fact, and instead of giving yet another method that contradicts everyone else's, he promises to tell you only the things that most barefoot runners agree on. He says that all the other details are mostly preference and every runner runs their own way. He then goes on to recommend a bunch of other people to go to if his method doesn't work for you. If that doesn't sell you, this might: when he released the book, he first put it online for free for a short time and told everyone that downloaded it to email it to all their friends.

I think his purpose is clear, and it isn't money. He just wants to convert us to barefoot running. Credentials sell me less than intentions. An insincere man with a PHD is fine with being wrong as long as people believe him. A sincere man can do just as much research without the certificate, and is therefore the one I'll choose to trust. Jason Robillard does just that for a living. His book is primarily a compilation of other people's research and experiences. Of course, his own touch is present, but there isn't much in it that disagrees with other barefoot runners' opinions. In fact, he praises their work.

The book is an entertaining read. The chapters are concise and easy to get through, yet thorough. The book itself is reassuringly small. His program is simple and flexible and has yet to lead me astray. I am not yet advanced enough to really know what I am talking about, but I have yet to find anything to be concerned about.

I highly recommend it. If you want to get a little taste of Jason's philosophy, read the first 52 pages of his book or check out his website. He has shoe reviews, training tips, and all kinds of fun stuff on his site. It's worth a look.

Monday, October 31, 2011

7 Laps

I ran 7 laps today. My usual routine is to walk to the track in my Merrell True Gloves, and to walk barefoot around the track once before starting my run. Until I started barefoot running, I didn't quite see the benefit of warming up first. I knew intellectually that it was good, but I didn't feel the difference directly. However, when barefoot running, I need to wake up my feet first, and not just in minimalist shoes. I always feel a little stiffness and discomfort in my feet when I warm up. In fact, I usually worry a little bit that it will continue during my run. In the past, when I was overworking, it did. However, now it fades quickly after I start running. It's so nice to run a mile without any pain. That might sound funny to you, but I'm still getting used to it. Before now, I couldn't run at all without getting shin splints or top of the foot pain. I got another small blister on one toe. However, this time, I didn't feel the hot spot before I finished. Better than last time. I hope this doesn't keep happening, though.

I saw another barefoot runner there. I was a little excited at first, but that quickly faded when I saw her form. She was pounding the ground, heel striking. It was loud. At the end of her run, she sprinted a lap. I was doing that a few weeks ago (sans the heel-strike) and I paid the price. Sprinting is fine if you've worked your way up to it, but it was quite obvious given her form and shape that she was not an experienced runner. Maybe she's just starting. Hopefully she'll see the light soon.

I was tired at the end, more tired than I've been since my first run this year. Once again, I'm afraid I won't be progressing as fast as I'd like. However, I've observed that my lungs are dying before my muscles, so if I improve my diet and hydration, I'll probably be able to go longer. On the flipside, my form is improving. It's easier for me not to bounce or push off. It's easy to land softly. My calves are still a little tight, but I imagine that they'll begin to relax as they get stronger. When I started two weeks ago, I was doing calf-raises after my runs to maximize my progress, but I feel my calves are getting a sufficient workout from the run itself now that I'm going over a mile.

Things are great. Hopefully I can continue progressing at this rate. I've been going on a few dates with a runner lately. She ran a marathon and I'm barely going over a mile, so I hope she never wants me to run with her until I can run at least two miles. But that won't be for a few weeks.

Friday, October 28, 2011

6 Laps

6 laps is just over a mile. It was a good run, and I didn't lose count. I was definitely more tired than last time, but I imagine that's nothing to worry about. I got a small blister on one of my toes though. I felt the hot spot on lap four I think. I know I'm supposed to stop as soon as I feel it, but I wanted so bad to finish. I don't know for sure I made the right decision, but I won't run again for four days anyway. I'm pretty sure the tiny blister will be gone by then. No harm done. At least I had no other problems like before. I think it was because I was running too fast.

I find myself analyzing everyone else's form when they run. I almost always look at their feet to see if they're overstriding. I also look at how much they bounce. Posture is my most recent fascination. It's really interesting to me that mostly everyone has bad form. I even saw someone heel-striking in Vibram Fivefingers. It baffles me that someone would think that merely wearing the shoes would do the trick. If you're going to heel-strike, those are the last shoes you'd want to wear.

Given, my form isn't perfect. However, my posture is definitely straighter than most runners I see, if only because I'm so conscious of it. I still need to work on running light and without bounce. Today, those two were my main focus. They say you get it right when you don't think about it, but I think that's false for someone who's never run correctly before. I think that once you've done it right for a while, it will be natural, and that statement will be true. At the moment, when I don't think about it, I midfoot strike too much, and I bounce.

They say that when barefoot running, you can forefoot or midfoot strike. However, when I midfoot strike, I feel a thump. That thump is my gauge for my foot strike. If I feel it, I'm hitting my heel too much. It feels right to me that this thump is exactly what researchers are talking about when they talk about the unhealthy impact of heel-striking. That thump is the impact being absorbed by my joints. That thump is exactly what we're trying to avoid in barefoot running. At least that's what makes sense to me. You're free to disagree.

Anyway, back to my run, I focused intently on striking correctly and not bouncing. I tried to rid myself of anything but forward motion. It felt a little weird, but then again, everything feels weird the first time you do it. I imagine that the more I do it, the easier and more natural it will feel. Even though it was weird and gave me a blister, I feel like I'm slowly beginning to understand what barefoot running is supposed to be. The biggest problem is that as I focused on forward motion, I sped up a little, which is why I got the blister I think.

I'm at the point where it's becoming a challenge again. When I first started, every run wore me out. However, after I took a week break and started again with one lap, every run has been really easy. Three laps was a little tiring, but four and five were fairly easy. The six laps was pretty tiring. It made me wonder if I can progress as fast as I'm hoping. However, I imagine that as my form improves and becomes more natural, I won't get tired as fast. Also, after next week, I won't be increasing a lap a day anymore. I'll be progressing by a lap a week, so I'll have more time to strengthen before I raise the bar again.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Counting Problem

I have never had a problem with counting, especially when I'm only counting to five. However, today, just like monday, I lost count of my laps. I ran either five or six laps. My feet are fine and I didn't feel anything during the run, so even if it was six when it was supposed to be five, no harm done.

Five isn't that big a number, so I think that unless I can train my mind to keep track, I'll need to compensate somehow. I like to think that my mind will get the hint and start focusing. We'll see. Six laps on friday. I'm going to continue increasing by a lap per run until the end of next week, finishing on nine. After that, I'll start increasing by a lap a week instead. I'll be running around a mile and a half by then, so I'll need to slow down my progression a little bit. However, since I'm planning to increase by approximately 10% a week, it'll speed up eventually.

Once I hit about three miles, then I'll really start expanding my horizons. I'll start doing fartlek runs, hill runs, etc. I'm excited. At that point, I'll feel like an average runner. An average runner doesn't run marathons. But I won't be an average runner long. I'll continue my progression until I'm running marathons.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Doing Great

I ran the three laps on friday and I think four today. After a few laps, I got distracted and forgot how many laps I'd gone. I wasn't sure if was on my third or fourth, so I ran one more just in case. So if I didn't run four, then I ran five. Either way, my feet feel great. No pains or anything to be concerned about. Five wednesday and six on friday, making it just over a mile. Obviously, I won't be running the 5k in four days. If I'd known a few months ago what I know now, I may have been that far by now, but I didn't and I'm not. But that's okay. It's not lost time. It was time spent learning from my mistakes so that I could do it right later. Later is now.

To paraphrase Jason Robillard, there are three kinds of barefoot/minimalist runners:

  1. Barefoot purists - Strictly barefoot.

  2. Moderate minimalist runners - Mostly barefoot, but accept minimalist shoes as tools (Jason Robillard, Michael Sandler).

  3. Minimalist shoe runners - Only minimalist shoes.

I'm sure there are some people that are mostly minimalist shoe runners that barefoot once in a while, but that's beside the point. I think I've decided which category I fit in. I'm fairly sure of it in fact. I'll tell you which and why.

First off, since I started barefoot running, I've become more and more aware of the thick heels in normal shoes. The big block heels in my dress shoes drive me up the wall. They make me walk funny. I don't know how girls wear high heels, and I can't see why they think they make them look better. I personally think girls' barefoot posture is very attractive. I remember thinking that well before I ever thought about going barefoot myself. My Chacos, which I used to worship, are now a pain. Barefoot feels much more comfortable and natural to me now.

Not only does barefoot feel better for standing and walking, but running as well. When I run in shoes, I really notice the impact. My impact is hard even when I run on the balls of my feet. They talk about how if you run gently, you can run in anything, but I just can't seem to run gently in shoes.

My Merrell True Gloves are the best I've got, but even they seem to keep me from landing softly. I feel like the balls of my feet are smacking the ground. I can't even walk normal in them. Given, it's alot better than when I'm wearing anything else. But I think I'm pretty much decided. Unless I really need minimalist shoes, I'm going barefoot.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two Laps

I ran two laps today. I felt pressure in my feet, which was a little disconcerting, but no actual pain, so I continued. It's been a couple hours and I still don't feel any pain, so I think I'm good. I'm hoping that the pressure is the foot's equivalent of positive muscle soreness. Either way, I was afraid to run any longer. I didn't feel that pressure last time. We'll see how my feet feel on friday. I may or may not run a full three laps.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back on Track

I ran a lap this morning without pain. It felt great. I didn't want to stop at a lap, but I had learned my lesson in the past. I'm going to run three times a week, increasing my distance by a lap each time until I reach about a mile and a half, at which point, I'll slow down the increase. I predict it will be about 9 weeks before I'll be able to run a 5k. In other words, if the 5k were in December, I'd be in good shape. Running it in a week or two is nuts.

Since I hadn't run for a week, I'd forgotten how natural running barefoot feels. I had been in shoes all week, and shoes feel so clunky and wobbly compared to bare feet. I have a pair of Chaco sandals, which I've been in love with for the few months I've had them. But now that I'm getting used to being barefoot, I'm starting to get annoyed by their thick soles. I've been trying to find some minimalist footwear for casual use. Unfortunately, most minimalist shoes are pretty flashy and expensive. However, Teva released a minimalist sandal for around $65, the Teva Zilch. Depending on the color, it can look pretty conservative compared to other minimalist footwear. If it weren't october, I'd be ordering a pair now.

As for winter-wear, I don't know of any alternatives. My Merrell True Gloves are way too flashy for me. I would gladly wear a pair of Vivobarefoot Aqua Lites, but they're $130. It looks as though I'll have to be happy with my thick-soled shoes for the winter. Maybe next summer I'll get a pair of zilchs. Maybe someone will buy my chacos. They're in great condition since I've only had them for a few months.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taking a Break

A couple days ago ran one lap around the track. I hadn't run for four days, and my ankle looked okay and wasn't bothering me, so I decided to give it a go. However, midway through one lap, it began to complain. It didn't hurt bad, but I knew better than to argue. I stopped, threw on my sweats and Merrell True Gloves and walked home shivering in the rain. After a few minutes of sitting on my couch, my ankle began to feel tight. The swelling flared up a little bit, though not as bad as last time. I'm writing this at night, and I only feel a slight bit of tightness. I like to think I didn't make things worse.

This morning, I checked out my ankle and it looked and felt fine, so I decided that I'd run just one lap around the track. I figure I should start following the pros' advice and start small, since running as little as a mile has already caused problems. Unfortunately, right as I hit the track, I felt pain on the top of both feet. If I were the only one in there, I would've stopped right then and gone home, but there were a few other people. Prideful as I am, I decided to fight the pain for one lap, then I threw on my shoes and went home.

I made a decision. I'm not going to run at all next week. The fact that I felt the pain after only a few steps tells me that my feet haven't yet healed from the mile runs and even my short runs are keeping them from recovering. I'm pretty sure my goal of running the 5k later this month is out of the question. But that's okay. I've decided that I'm going to swallow my pride and take it slow. If I don't humble myself and slow down, I'll just hurt myself. I just need to trust Michael Sandler, and Jason Robillard, and all the other prominent barefoot runners who all agree that starting small is the best way to go. They even recommend that experienced runners start running less than a mile. I'm no experienced runner and I've been going a mile. Bad news.

Anyway, I'll be doing calf and foot exercises in the meantime. Hopefully that will help me hit the ground running when I start again, no pun intended. Really.

Friday, September 30, 2011


A few days ago, I ran a mile barefoot. My feet are definitely getting tougher. At the end, there was a hint of the remainder of my shin splints, but not much. I like to think they're being caused by running too much too soon, and that I'll be able to run a little more each week. Though, I've read that shin splints are almost nonexistent with barefoot running, which is really odd.

Unfortunately, two days later, my ankle swelled up after a short run. It's still swollen today, so I didn't run. Before the run, I felt some minor discomfort in my feet, which got a little worse during the run, but it was never anything really painful. However, I should've listened to my feet and waited until all the discomfort was gone. Fortunately, the swelling doesn't hurt, even when I put pressure on it, so I can go about my day as normal. I like to think that if it were serious, it would hurt.

I bought a couple books. The first is Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler, and the second is The Barefoot Running Book by Jason Robillard. I'm almost halfway through the first. It's interesting to see the similarities and the differences in his approach vs. Danny Dreyer's in Chi Running. I imagine everyone has their own ideas. For example, Danny Dreyer says that the calf should be totally relaxed and that a midfoot stike is best while Michael Sandler says a forefoot strike is best so that the impact can be absorbed in the calves, which is basically what I was doing when I first got my shin splints. The latter seems to fit the barefoot philosophy better. However, Chi Running is not barefoot running.

Michael Sandler says that the calf bones should grow thicker when we run barefoot. I am hoping that the pain I feel is merely the bone realizing that it needs to grow a bit. I'm hoping that because I'm going to run as Michael Sandler suggests instead of Danny Dryer's method. In fact, I didn't fully follow Danny's anyway. I didn't like the midfoot strike. While less than a heel strike, there was still too much thump to it. I think also that my calves were just too weak for my form to be effective. But they're coming along nicely.

Also, I'm doing pushups and planks to build my upper body, especially my core, which is apparently very crucial to good running form. I'm in terrible shape, so I can hardly do any.

I don't whether I mentioned this before or not, but I've never been a very active person. I've always been weak and uncoordinated. I've never been able to keep up with anyone else. I was good at math.

I've always wished I could keep up with everyone else, and recently, I've proven to myself that I can do whatever the heck I want to do. Nothing can stop me. Since I began to realize this, I've chosen a few things here and there to learn. It started with the ukulele. I thought that while I could probably play an instrument if I'd put the time into it, I didn't think I would ever be above average, let alone learn it fast. However, I constantly pushed myself to do better and I learned to play songs that I had heard long ago and thought amazing and impossible to play.

Then I learned bluegrass mandolin. Yes, I can pick fast. It's a blast. Now I'm taking piano lessons. While piano is by no means easy, I've become confident that I can become very good at it if I put in the time and effort. Back to running, I know I can do it even though I've never done it before, and I know I can do it well. I don't know that I can be better than everyone else, but I know that I can run a marathon.

When I started, I ran out of breath fast. I still run out faster than the average person, but not nearly as soon as I did before. However, I think back to swimming lessons when I was a kid. Case in point, I was the slowest swimmer there by a long shot. However, slow as I may have been, I could swim the farthest underwater without coming up for a breath. Imagine how far I could've gone if I had been as fast as everyone else. I've since lost those lungs, but my legs have grown much longer. If If I build my endurance back up and perfect my form, I'll find myself running marathons one day.

Also, I love the idea of minimalism. I've always been this way. I think that's why I was so attracted to the idea of barefoot running. It fit my philosophy of life. I like the idea of shedding off all the excess and live like we were born to live. For example, I find high-heels unattractive because they make women walk funny. I've always liked it when they'd wear thin-soled shoes and carried themselves well with a healthy (not just skinny) body. I don't like it when people augment themselves. But I also don't like it when people get hippy about minimalism. I think you can be a minimalist and still shave and keep your hair nice and trim. I think that too many good things get associated with this crowd and therefore are never adopted by the normal crowd.

Anyway, there's my two cents.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shin Splints Again

Yep, shin splints again. It's so frustrating. I felt them after only a lap or two, which tells me the bone was already on its way. Maybe it's because I'm running every day. I'm going to run only every other day now. Bummer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Even Better Run

Last night, I went for a fun run through a neighborhood, so I didn't really know how far I ran, but I'm pretty sure I ran farther this morning. It was a mile, like I do every day, except this time I ran it without stopping. Usually, I stop four times during my runs.

I don't get out of breath nearly as fast as before, and my legs don't get nearly as sore. I'm going to work hard on perfecting my form so that I can run longer and move on to hill runs.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Best Run Yet

First off, I'll admit my ignorance when it comes to running. The pain I mentioned in my last post was a case of shin splints. I had heard of shin splints, but I have never been very athletic and cannot recall ever having them before, so I did not know what they were when I had them a few days ago. Now I know.

I also know what I was doing wrong. The following day, I went to the bookstore and bought a book called Chi Running. I'm not sure how I feel about Tai Chi, but Chi Running's form is apparently very close to barefoot running. I picked out some points that I needed to improve in my form and went for a run, focusing specifically on those.

I found that I was able to run much longer than before and finished feeling much more refreshed. It was exciting. Plus, My legs felt as they should have rather than feeling pain in weird places. However, I still don't have the core strength and coordination for perfect form. I still felt like I was bumbling around a bit, but it was still by far my best run yet.

I still have a ways to go, but I am feeling a little better about my goal to run the 5k next month. The problem is that half of the run is uphill and the other downhill. The Chi Running book says not to start running hills too early because it's hard to get the form right on a hill unless you already have it down on flat ground. However, though it may not be the smartest thing, I'm going for it. I still have a month though, so I can work up to it.

I'm feeling really good about my running. I plan to read the entire book and see what I want to apply to my runs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sore Bones

I had a little scare today. As the name of this blog states, I'm new to running. I'm unfamiliar with the various possible injuries. Well, I had read that if you're not patient when breaking into barefoot running, then you're likely to be injured. Fortunately, I can't run very far to begin with, so I can't really get impatient. However, I noticed that I was feeling more soreness than usual the last couple days. I thought at first that this was just the usual soreness that comes with using new muscles. I decided to heed some advice I'd read to massage the muscles. I was finding it difficult to find the soreness, which was odd.

Suddenly, my fingers rubbed against the bone and I felt a sharp pain. I hadn't read anywhere about bone pain associated with barefoot running. I realized that my calf muscles were just fine, but the soreness wasn't one that would just go away. I was doing something wrong. I walked slowly home, showered, headed over to school, and googled the problem. I never found a direct answer to my specific problem, though I did find a problem in my running form. I usually flex my calves so that I can absorb the impact, only allowing my heels to brush the ground. Apparently, I'm supposed to relax my calves. I'm not sure yet how I'll do a good forefoot strike, but next time I run, I'll experiment. However, that won't be for a few days. I'm going to let the soreness fade before I run again. Hopefully it goes quick.

I'm a little flustered by this, but I'm choosing to see it as a learning experience. I thought I was on track, but apparently I was headed towards injury. Thank goodness I caught it early. From now on, I'm going to check my calf bones after runs to make sure I've corrected the problem.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Barefoot Running

I'm a barefoot runner.

All my life, I've wondered why running was so bad for us. The fact that we have to make shoes to pad our feet must mean that our bodies just aren't made to run. We talk about how amazing our body is, what with its nervous system, blood circulation, etc., and somehow the foot didn't evolve with the rest of it. That is, it didn't evolve for anybody but those natives in Mexico that run and run and run all their lives without injury. It didn't make sense to me. It was a paradox that something that seemed so human was so bad for the body.

A couple years ago, I was talking to a marathon runner. He said the body is made to run. This was a refreshing idea. All my life, I'd been hearing otherwise. But how is it made to run when we have to compensate for its shortcomings? Isn't the idea behind running shoes to allow the body to do something it's not supposed to do? He mentioned barefoot running.

Apparently, those natives in Mexico are running with thin sandals. They protect their feet, but they don't pad them. The foot is designed to run. Imagine trying to write a letter with gloves on. That's running with padded shoes on. Our shoes are designed to keep our feet from doing what they're supposed to do. The world thinks that pronation is unhealthy for our feet, but our feet are designed to pronate. The arch is designed to flatten on each step because the arch is a spring. The more you use the arch, the higher it gets. Arch support is what causes the foot to flatten. If we just took off our shoes and built some callouses, we'd all have healthy feet and legs. We'd realize that running is healthy.

Initially, I wanted to buy a pair of Vibram FiveFingers because they seemed to be the iconic barefoot shoe. They're the only kind that look like feet. They fit like a glove. However, I have something called Morton's Toe Syndrome, which means my second toe is longer than my first. Ten percent of the people in the world have this, but Vibram has yet to accomodate. Thus, I instead bought a pair of Merrell Truegloves, which I'm told are like Vibram FiveFingers without the toes. After my first run in them, my calves were so sore, I couldn't run much the next few days. Obviously, I was out of shape. But it was very interesting that it was working different muscles. This must have been normal thing before the seventies when the first padded shoe was invented. I'd never been that sore after a run before. Doesn't it make sense that running should use our muscles? It was exciting. I felt like I was opening myself up to a new life. I could run without fear of injury. I was enlightened.

However, as I used the Truegloves, I began to wonder if they were the same as running barefoot. While they were surely alot closer than any padded shoe, I sensed that the soles underneath the balls of my feet were thicker than the heel, so when I set my foot down flat, my toes pointed up ever so slightly. This felt unnatural. Now, when I'm running, I hardly use my heels, so this isn't all that much of a problem, but I began to wonder if maybe Vibram FiveFingers would have a more natural feel. I found no hint that they were going to release a Morton's Toe shoe, but I found a site that told how to mod a shoe to fit those with the condition. I found this interesting, but beyond my capabilities.

I gave up on that, but began to research barefoot running. I'm reading Born to Run. Also, I read what Harvard had to say. These sources didn't state that the best solution was to find the thinnest shoe. Instead, we should actually run barefoot. The thinnest shoe is for when our feet need protection. I was still caught up in the world's way of thinking, I thought that the body needs to wear a shoe. This felt even more liberating. All of a sudden, I didn't have to spend a bunch of money on shoes anymore. I could run with the best and cheapest footwear of all: my feet.

Yesterday, I went for a run barefoot. I ran on an indoor track. The reason why I run indoors is because most people are running outside, so I won't be as embarrassed when I run with bad form for only one mile. Anyway, it felt way different from the barefoot shoes. By this time, my calves were getting used to the barefoot shoes, but running completely barefoot was like starting over again, only this time, I not only felt a big difference in my calves, but I also felt a huge difference in my feet. It's an interesting feeling. Wearing shoes all my life, I'd never worked my foot muscles, but I could feel them working and getting tired. It excited me. It made me wonder what life would be like with strong feet. Nobody these days has strong feet.

Unfortunately, I developed blisters on the bottoms of my toes, so I had to go back my Merrells today. But that's okay. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to kick the shoes off again. They say that running barefoot is actually comfortable once the callouses are developed. I'm stoked. It might slow my progression for a little while, but I think the wait and pain are definitely worth it. One day, I'll be true runner.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Noo Runner?

I'm 26 and I am a new runner. All my life, I have wanted to be one, but I never started. Now is my time. I have been running almost every morning for the past week and I intend to continue for the rest of my life. I have only been running a mile, but that's an improvement. Actually, I'm doing a combination of walking and running, but that's the best I've ever done. I am proud.

The reason why I want to run is because everyone who does seems to love it. And girls who run are usually more attractive. I figure the same goes for guys. I want to feel better and enjoy sports more when I am with friends. I want to get that runner's high that people talk about. In Born to Run, the author talks about how the secret to overcoming something you hate is to love it. I've always hated being out of breath. I have never enjoyed straining myself. I liked being comfortable. Now I want to enjoy exercise.

That is why I am running. I have discovered that I can accomplish anything I want to accomplish as long as I put in the time and effort. I know that I can become a runner.