Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Period of Adjustment

I just had to stick in a couple more pictures from my favorite trail run. It has been beautiful this time of year.

These last couple of months have been a real period of experimentation for me. After reading Born to Run and after years of multiple injuries, I have decided to take the "less is more" theory and change up the way I run. It's almost been like starting all over. It felt uncomfortable and weird and every step was a big thinking process. I read Chi Running 2 1/2 years ago but couldn't really get into it. I didn't have a partner to watch me run. But I've tried to implement some of the form tips into my running since then. This time around, I've had my running partner watch me run to observe my form. I lost some speed to begin with and had sore, sore muscles (calves) for a long time. But it's getting easier. I find that I'm focussing less and less and it's coming naturally. Now when I pause to check my form, it's almost right where I think it should be.
So now shoes. I want to move to less shoes. But how much less shoes is right for me? It's almost as diverse and confusing as the normal shoe debates. I've listened to those who are real barefoot runners and from what I've heard, they will tell you that you don't need any type of shoe. You need that sensory feedback from the bare sole to know what to do. I totally and completely agree with that. In theory. But in real life when it's 9 degrees outside, I don't think it's really practical. I don't want to trade IT band problems for frostbite. (Although you might recover from frostbite quicker!) So now what about just changing my form to mimic barefoot running? Is that possible? After two months of concentrating on EVERY single run to have a forefoot or mid foot strike, I can safely say that while my form is improving and is better, it's still not the same as barefoot running. And I'm still not sure I'm ready to move to the Vibram 5 fingers.
The last time I bought shoes was around Christmas time last year. I bought the old standby of the Asics 2150's and a new pair of Asics lightweight trainers. I didn't use the trainers very much. Only on shorter faster runs and I really didn't start using them until after my April marathon. They felt lighter and just different. I was scared to use them on long runs because I didn't think they would give me the support I needed. However, I really liked them and started gradually wearing them more and more and pretty soon they were my "go to" shoe. The 2150's were retired at the end of the summer and I wear the trainers exclusively now. But they are falling apart, fraying from the inside out. It's time for something new. But what?
I started checking out the different shoes and what I wanted in a shoe. As badly as I want to do the Vibrams, I need something in between while I'm working up to the strength. I don't want to jump into something and end up with a whole new set of injuries. After watching a video and review from Runner Dude and then another review from Mark as well as listening to a podcast on running form and one on barefoot running, I decided to get the Newton shoes. With my discount from Road Runner's they weren't too expensive. I also decided to get another pair of the Asics trainers to work with while I was working into the Newton's. Too bad they changed the style of the Asics trainers and they created a hot spot on my feet. I'll be sending those back but still don't know what to get for the interim. I guess I'll just be using my old ones until I decided what to get. Or maybe I'll just keep the old ones until I can wear the Newtons more. Then I can transition down early next year to the Vibrams. On a funny note: Runner's world had some video reviews of minimalist shoes. While reviewing the Brooks Green Silence they noted how much the runners liked the feel of the shoe "from heel strike to toe off." It made me laugh. They just don't get it. That's exactly what I'm trying to get away from.
An amazing thing happened last week. I had run a couple of miles on the treadmill and had decided to take off my shoes to finish it out. After I had run another mile something happened where I suddenly realized that I was comfortable in my bare feet. I would have to say it was something of an "ah ha" moment that took me by surprise. I wasn't prepared for it. Which is why this morning marked the first outdoor barefoot run for me. All the others have been on the treadmill. But since I've been gradually working up to it, I decided that I was finally ready. It was 34 degrees and slightly wet so I wore socks. O.k., o.k., so not totally barefoot. Still, it was really different than anything else I've done. I did 4 miles and made myself go home so as not to overdo it. So far the calves are good. But my poor feet feel raw. And I even had socks on! Can you imagine what it would normally have been like? My feet are not dainty things either. I walk barefoot all the time, crossing the roads, walking down the sidewalk, around the house. However, this is an entirely new thing. I wonder how long it would really take to develop some good callouses to run without pain. There were a few little rocks that bugged me as well as some small twigs that I couldn't see under some leaves. I found that sidewalks were better than the roads that hadn't been swept. And I also did it this morning when it was still quite dark and stayed off Main Street to avoid any looks. I'm just not totally there yet, o.k. But it's coming. I'm sounding conflicting, I know. Shoes, no shoes. Am I working towards being barefoot exclusively someday and am I in transition or am I just changing my form? I really don't know the answers to those questions yet. I'm just taking it slowly and I guess I'll see where it goes. Comments are always welcome. I'm obviously in need of help and advice.

The latest stuff:
Wednesday: 4 mile run
Friday: full body weights, cycling class (13 miles)
Saturday: 10.5 mile run (4.5 miles up canyon, 3 miles trail)

Monday: 5.5 miles (1.25 barefoot)
Tuesday: full body weights
Wednesday: 4.5 miles
Thursday: 5.5 miles
Friday: cycling class (13 miles)
Saturday: 12 mile run, full body weights

Monday: 5 mile run (2 miles in Newton's, 1 mile barefoot), full body weights
Tuesday: 4.5 mile run (in Newton's)
Wednesday: 5 mile run (3 barefoot), full body weights
Thursday: 4 mile run

Monday: 6 miles run (1.25 in Newtons, 1 mile barefoot)
Tuesday: 4 mile run barefoot outside, full body weights


Wendy said...

Wow, that IS beautiful!!

Love those shoes!

Michael said...

I ran a mile barefoot on a beach in Ireland this summer. it was so gorgeous and the sense of freedom was inspiring. The barefoot runners in Canada switch over to mocassins in the with. Apparently it's the next best thing to barefoot running. Mike

Candice @ I Have Run said...

Keep us posted on the barefoot running. I am always so fascinated by people who make the transition. I ran barefoot on the treadmill at the end of a few long runs but just because my feet were tired and sore. After reading this, I might give it another try for a different reason.