Monday, November 29, 2010

Change in the Weather

This week was a major change in the weather. We had a blizzard warning Tuesday, something I don't ever remember having before ever. And while it wasn't anything that we don't see around here, we usually don't see it until January. The temperatures have been below 0 and the high's are in the teens. While I don't like driving in it, I love to run in these temperatures. That is I really used to love it until I discovered that I liked to run bare foot. I am a wuss when it comes to cold feet. I've done it in the 30's but it hasn't been comfortable. It just seems that I become extra sensitive to every little rock that I'm stepping on when I'm cold. So it's been pretty much shoes all week long. But I have ditched my Asics completely and have used my Newton's or have done the treadmill thing in bare feet.

It was 8 degrees on this sunny day.

But man, the cold seems to make everything look so beautiful. I love the sky on cold winter days. It seems a brighter blue. I love these mountains. I am grateful everyday that I see them.

It was super icy. The plows had come around the night before but whatever fell after that just froze. It was pretty slow going so that I wasn't going to slip and fall.

We took a trip to Idaho for Thanksgiving which was just as cold (11 degrees for this run) only they have so much more snow than we do. It was piled up on the side of the road over my head. Beautiful!

The roads here were even worse than at home. But I learned that you can not push off on the ice and so it really helped keep my form in check. Lift those feet!

Back in my town Saturday was cold. I started my run at 12 degrees and ended at 17 degrees. I loved running by this little river. The sound of the water running was great. I really worked on relaxation on this run. I kept reminding myself to not care how far or how high or how long it was, just to relax and enjoy it. And I really did.

Seriously, look how gorgeous this is! I'd never appreciate the beauties of winter if I wasn't out running in it.

I found an old house that I want to buy on my run. Too bad it's not for sale. I'm going to keep my eye on it though.

The roads weren't nearly as bad on Saturday. I ended up going about 3 miles farther than I had planned. But I guess that's what happens when you don't plan your route and just take off. My legs felt great. My shoulders did get sore. It was the farthest I've gone carrying my water bottle. My feet did start to ache towards the end of the run and felt worn out all day after. It was the farthest I've gone in my Newtons. Probably too far. But the rest of me felt great... like I could have kept going forever. My feet just need to gain more strength. I think I'm going to do a yoga day today and get back at it again tomorrow. Mileage PR week though. 43 miles.

Monday: 7 mile run in Newton's, full body weights
Tuesday: 4 mile run (barefoot-treadmill)
Wednesday: 8.5 mile run in Newton's
Thursday: 3 mile run in Evo's, full body weights
Friday: 7.5 mile run in Newton's
Saturday: 13 miles run in Newton's

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What a Week!

This was a really, really great week. Maybe a even breakthrough week. I've been reading my book and trying to really practice those things in there that would help me develop good form. It takes me back to the part in Born to Run where says that most of us have it all wrong. We're all so concerned about speed. Caballo tells Christopher to think easy, light, smooth, and fast. First, start with easy. Because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on light, make it effortless, like you don't care how high the hill is or how far you have to go. When you've practiced that for so long that it doesn't feel like practicing anymore, you work on making it smooth. You won't have to worry about the last one, you get those three, and you'll be fast. Not coincidentally, the first thing to work on when attempting to run bare foot is relaxation. Forget about speed and just relax.
So the first cool thing that happened this week came when I was running bare foot and things were going well. It was still slightly dark outside and as I approached a couple of teenage girls getting ready to leave for school, I could tell that hadn't seen me. As they got closer to the curb and their car, I got closer to them until I was finally right next to them almost passing them. The girl let out a scream because I surprised her. I apologized for scaring her and moved along. But inside I was smiling because I was stepping so lightly that she didn't hear me coming. Cool.
The next thing happened the very next day. It was about 2 1/2 miles into another barefoot run. It was so cold that morning that I kept putting my socks on and off when my toes warmed up and got numb. I was running down Main Street and was checking out my form in the windows. To the observer it might look like I'm conceited and just checking myself out, but really I'm looking to see how my foot is landing, if my upper body is straight and in line and if my knees are bent. When I ran out of windows, I realized that suddenly everything felt great. I felt light and smooth and I felt like I was gliding across the ground. It only lasted for about a mile, but it was wonderful. I tried to memorize how everything felt, how my feet were touching the ground, how easy it felt. Maybe it was that elusive runner's high, but I really think it was because everything was just right. It was awesome!
I decreased my miles this week because the last few weeks have been high. And I planned on doing the Turkey Trot on Saturday. I really wanted to be able to do it barefoot, but the weather would have a lot to do with it. As it turned out, the weather decided it for me that morning by being rainy, cold, and windy. I just wasn't willing to do it. And I thought I'd probably be faster in shoes where I don't have to be so careful of rocks and little things on the road. All the while I was running I was wishing that I didn't have shoes on. I did wear my Newtons though and they are really lightweight. I also planned the lower miles so that I could cross the finish line and reach my goal of 1000 miles this year! The race was not very fun. I had a side ache almost the whole 4 miles. I was not relaxed and didn't feel really good about my performance. I finished in 36:37, just about the same as last year. I should have just done it in my socks and had fun and focused on my form. Dang pride.

Before the race: me, Heather, and Jodi

After the race with our hot chocolate! Those Newton shoes of mine are sure bright!

My form this year...

My form last year.

Now before you think that this bare foot thing comes without any pain, or that my week was perfect, it's not and it wasn't. My calves have taken 2 1/2 months to finally get mostly used to running differently. I say mostly because if I overdo it they still get sore. This week I wasn't being as vigilant as I should have been and stepped on a biggish rock right on my arch. It hurt, but truthfully it was so cold that until my foot warmed up it didn't hurt that bad. But once my foot was able to feel the full force of the pain it caused me to stop and walk for a bit. Good thing I was almost home.

This is the beautiful bruise I got from it. I had already planned to take the next day off and it doesn't hurt now, but baby, it's not pretty!
This week I also ran only 4 miles in my Asics trainers. I am looking forward to decreasing that even further!

Monday: 6 miles (2 barefoot-treadmill), full body weights
Tuesday: 4 miles in Newtons, cycling class
Wednesday: 4 miles barefoot outside 31 degrees
Thursday: 5 miles barefoot outside 35 degrees, full body weights
Saturday: 4 miles in Newtons

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doing it backwards...

After doing half of my long run barefoot last Saturday and doing probably more than I should have in my exuberance to run with naked feet, they were feeling a little sore. Not injured or anything, just a tad overworked. I upped my barefoot mileage more than 10%, a no, no. So I didn't try any bare footing until Wed. It made a difference and I will be more careful from now on out. It's hard to hold back.
Which brings me to my next topic. I took up this whole barefoot thing after seeing people in their Vibrams at last year's St. George Marathon, during the Wasatch Back Ragnar, at the Top of Utah Half, and of course, after reading Born to Run. I had heard about running more efficiently with a mid foot strike and with a faster cadence from a seminar that my doctor attended. I did a bit of research on that subject and started to change my form. It made sense to me that I should gradually step down my shoes to a flatter heel and then I would be ready to bare foot it. If I would have done better research, I would have found that I was doing it all backwards. According to the experts it's best to start barefoot, get the feedback from your bare soles, and figure out the right way to run. After you've got that down... you can wear whatever shoes you want. Of course it means completely starting over at mile one and I don't know even if I would have read that first if I would be willing to do that. Even now, I'm sure my form is not perfect.
This Saturday I didn't have enough time to do my long run so I did it on Friday on the treadmill. I still have one youngster at home during the day so it limits my time outside. 12 miles on the treadmill is a new record for me. I mentally had to break it up into 4 x 3 mile increments. I also stuck a mile on an incline of 3 in each of those groupings to break it up further. I ran the last 3 miles barefoot. I was surprised to find that I didn't have the long run feeling in my legs afterwards. It must have something to do with the treadmill or maybe I was just having a really good day. Anyway...Saturday I ran outside in 34 degrees barefoot. I did stick my socks on after about a mile and a half when my feet didn't feel like they were warming up and I was kind of numb. Then I took them off again after a few blocks and they were fine. I thought I was doing my form pretty good, I did stub my 2nd toe on a sidewalk crack that was uneven. Good thing it really didn't hurt because it was so cold. But it did later that day! And I did end up with a blister on the outside of my foot. It just felt raw during the run, I didn't feel it actually blistering. So something is not perfect with my form. I think I may not be lifting my feet as well as I should be. Something the stubbed toe would indicate as well. Last week was also a first for me as well as I ran 36 miles and am not training for anything right now. The last 3 weeks in fact, have been over 30 miles. And not one part of my body is hurting. I'm still being cautious and doing strength training and cycling. But this is very encouraging for me.
If you are interested in trying barefoot running check out the following three sites.
Each one is very informative and something I look at them all the time to make sure I am doing it right and to get inspiration and ideas. I'm currently reading a book called The Barefoot Running Book Second Edition and hope to be able to perfect my form even further. I would love to be able to rewind time a couple of months to better weather. But for now I'm kind of stuck. It's getting pretty cold and after Saturday's run I think 34 degrees may be my limit for right now. I figure the socks is a pretty good substitute until I get some Vibrams or something like that. It lets me feel all the rocks and sticks, I'm sure it's just not as good of feedback as the real thing. Anybody have any other good ideas for me?
It's really amazing how beautiful the mornings can be. I had an awful run during this beautiful morning. I think that somehow God painted the morning gorgeous to make up for a pathetic run. It was cold and misty and magical.

Monday: 4 mile run, full body weights
Tuesday: 5.5 mile run
Wednesday: 4.5 mile run (2 miles barefoot-treadmill), full body weights
Thursday: 5.5 mile run in Newtons, cycling class
Friday: 12 mile run (3 miles barefoot-treadmill)
Saturday: 4 mile run barefoot- outside 34 degrees

Friday, November 5, 2010

A conversation with my body

Running seems to cause conversations with the body. Do you have these? I swear I don't have multiple personalities or anything. But I do feel conflicted a lot of the time. It goes something like this:
legs: "We hurt. Please stop. Stop now. The burning is intolerable. We're going to collapse."
me: "I know. Hang on just a little bit longer. How about just to the next stop sign?"
legs: "Not another hill! We just did 4 of them!"
me: "One more won't be so bad. Come on, legs, keep it together! You're strong, remember?"

me: "Shoulders, relax. Quit hunching up. Just relax."
shoulders: "I can't relax until you stop! Hunching up is a defense mechanism to this long stinking run. How bout you stop and then we'll talk about relaxing!"

me: "Boobs, will you please start growing again? I know it's been 20 years or so, but just give it another try. The first go around wasn't very successful."
boobs: no response.

My body is a bit of a drama queen. I try to talk sense into it, and most times I can push through whatever is going on. But I'm sad to admit how many times I let the body win. It reminds me of my teenage daughter who wears me down by her constant, unrelenting nagging. Sometimes she wins too.

However, I have been having a different conversation with my body as of late. It's been a much happier conversation. There's not such a battle of wills going on. And it's all because I'm talking through my feet.

I think I'm starting to understand all the craze behind the barefoot running. It is simple, really. It's not in the benefits of finally running properly. It's not in the injury prevention that lured me in originally. It's not even about getting closer to nature. It's about the joy. There is something about running without shoes that is simply joyful. You smile and enjoy yourself. You feel light and free. It can't really be explained. You just have to try it. And I can pretty much guarantee that once you do, you will know exactly what I'm talking about. And you won't want to quit. I can see why exuberance for it can cause you to do too much too soon.

Saturday I had planned to run 12 miles. I thought I'd do 8 and then head home and take off the shoes and finish out 4 in my socks. But in the middle of my run, I realized I was at the high school track. I turned in and took off my shoes and socks and took off. I ran 3 miles until I just couldn't take the pain anymore. The track is not soft and plush. It was worse than asphalt. The little chips were painful. I tried to run as lightly as I could but 3 miles on tender feet takes its toll. But honestly, I had a smile on my face and my feet felt free. They were light and nimble and I was bummed that I had to quit a little earlier than I had wanted to. My footsies just aren't used to the abuse. I think since I've changed my style of running that the muscles are adapting faster than the actual skin. My calves are hardly sore anymore, now it's just some thickening of the skin that I need to work on. The worse part was putting my shoes and socks back on. Seriously it felt like they were suffocating. And it felt like my legs were carrying lead feet all the way back home. After I got home and ripped those suckers off, I inspected my feet to find that the outsides took the worst of it. They were even a little torn up. Good thing they healed quickly and I was walking normal in socks that afternoon.

The next Tuesday I ran 5 miles outside in my socks again. The furthest to date. And I didn't want to stop. My legs felt fresh and good and my feet didn't feel torn up or raw. They felt good. It was fun. It was Joyful. It was freeing. It almost feels like being a kid again. If it wasn't for getting the kids to school on time I think I would have gone farther. Since that run it has been killing me to run with shoes. I know I can't overdo it. I know that it's going to get really cold and I'm going to need some sort of protection from frostbite, but it's just so freeing and fun that my run on Wednesday with shoes was pretty much torture. O.k., so not quite torture. Maybe I have a bit of drama queen in me as well. There were no bamboo shoots under my fingernails or anything. But my feet were crying to release them. Now I really am looking forward to any barefoot runs that I can do. And while I'll continue to take it slow... my feet can't wait until they can be fee all the time.

Wednesday: 7 mile run
Thursday: 2 mile run in Newtons, full body weights
Friday: cycling class
Saturday: 11.5 mile run (3 miles barefoot-outside)

Monday: 5 mile run (2 miles barefoot-treadmill)
Tuesday: 5 mile run barefoot-outside
Wednesday: 5.5 mile run
Thursday: 4 mile run in Newtons, cycling class
Saturday: 11 mile run (5.5 barefoot-outside)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Famous people who don't want to be famous are cool.

I know I'm a little slow... but did you know that Jenn Shelton (one of the fabulous ultra runners in the book Born to Run) was in my home state and won the marathon while she was here? I didn't. Until a couple of days ago while reading through this blog. Why do I think this is so cool? I'm not one of those people who likes to get autographs nor am I generally impressed with famous people. But I really like her attitude and admire her natural abilities and her hard work. She is just funny. Check out her interview below and you'll see what I mean.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wish list

Deanna at Miles to Run posted a while back a wish list of exercise things that she'd someday like to purchase. I had been eyeing a few things myself and although mine are just clothing, I thought I'd stick them here so that I could refer back to them. Although adding it all up in one place in dollars makes me cringe.

Someday I'm going to get me a pair of Vibrams. I still don't know which style I'd like best. But I'm kind of drawn to the Classics which seem to be the least amount of shoe. I just worry that maybe they wouldn't stay on. But I really don't want to deal with the strap of the other ones. Anyone with experience, speak right up.

This cute fleece jacket would be great on really cold days. Athleta has great clothing. But I'll only order if it's on sale. I got some turtle necks from there last year that are my very favorite and not just to run in. I wear them as often as I can. They are buttery soft and great quality. I wish they had them this year again.

And I love the idea that I might not need sunglasses with the brim on this hat. Also the ponytail cutout is a great addition.

And these cold weather pants would be nice since I only have two really good pairs and one of them is quickly wearing out. Like starting to hang by threads wearing out.

And ever since I saw this Under Armour top, I've wanted it. It's actually much cuter in person.
I really have a good selection of cold weather running gear. I got quite a bit for Christmas last year. So besides the pants and maybe the hat, the rest might be just be wants and not needs. But hey, it's more fun to go on a run if you know you look good.

What have you been eyeing that you might not be able to live without?