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.