Tag Archives: running

Running updates and new minimalist shoes

trueglove2So I noticed my last running update was nearly a year ago, and thought it overdue to bring things up to speed.

I’ve kept up with the running, and have managed to get an official half marathon under my belt.  After the 10K I ran last May, I continued to push myself and grow my mileage each time bit by bit, and mile by mile.

I ran a few more races, including another 10K in the fall, and then signed up to commit to a half marathon.  13.1 miles and the near equivalent of a 21K.

Despite my planning, training, and the countless blisters, the half ended up getting canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.  It was frustrating, but my problem wasn’t nearly as bad as those who lost homes, cars, or lives so I took solace in that.  Despite the cancellation I ran a nice circuit around town and managed to achieve my goal time of a hair under 2 hours total.  And I do mean a hair, as the final time came in at 1:59:51.

Once the cool winter weather rolled in my shoes went into the closet, and didn’t see the light until late March.

Getting myself back up to speed took some time, but I began slow with a 6 mile loop, and again worked my way up.

2 weeks ago, on May 5th, I ran my official half marathon.  This was the same lcoation as my first 10K – the Redding Road Race for the Cows.  Again there were hills galore, but I managed to tough through it, and in better time than I expected as I was still ramping my mileage up.  I didn’t break the 2 hour mark, but came decently close at 2:06, and a better time than the lower 43%.

So with that under my belt, I have a handful more half marathons to run this year, plus a Tough Mudder and Super Spartan.  More than enough to keep the twinkle in my eye, and the rolls off my belly :)

I’m finding I am at a new level now.  It is actually pretty cool because I’m the kind of guy that likes mixing it up.  When I plan my routes, I typically do so using either mapmyrun.com or Gmap Pedometer.  Not only can it tell me how to get from A to B, but how far, so I can plan out a 9 mile run, a 5 mile quickie or a 13 miler for the weekends if I’m up for it.

Lately I’ve been plugging in a wide circle starting from my home, around 9-10 miles, but the best part… I don’t care about where it goes.

What I mean is that I feel like I have finally gotten to a plateau where I can run anywhere – hills or flat, and I love a route that takes me on meandering tours (like my meandering blog post.)  The other day I found roads that take me past no less than 5 farms, and all the beauty that they hold.  The wide expanses of fields, the picturesque fences filled with animals, and the rise of the hills overlooking the opposite side and all the greenery I love to enjoy.

It is a really, really good feeling :)

I’m also finding that using the minimalist shoes I like so much, are more dependent on proper lacing.  Over time it seems I’ve pulled the laces tighter and tighter each time I put them on, leaving no wiggle room as my feet naturally expand when I hit the pavement in the rhythm the music beats out over my headphones.  So in turn, the shoes rub, the blisters grow, and I hobble just a bit more a day or two after the run.  I’m sure it affects my gait, and proper form, and now the shoes I’ve been using have burned out barely a year later.

I spent time figuring out which ones are best suited for me, as I often do with entirely too much time sorting out the balance between cost, quality, needs and desires.  In the end, I chose an updated version of the shoes I already use and enjoy.  From the Merrell True Glove to the Merrell Flux Glove .  I’m not the only one who loves these shoes either, as many reviews rate them at or near the top of minimalist rankings.  An updated outsole, liner, and footplate that better suit mid to fore foot strikes, all tell me they should work out great.

To the pavement!!  {insert batman whoosh}MerrellFlux3


Running Like The Wind (so long as its at my back)

So here I am, just over a year since I first began running. Things are pretty good.
I’ve run just over 8 miles at a clip, been in a bunch of races, and improved my distances, race times, and personal best times. My feet have transformed into hobbit feet, unshapely masses, and a series of connect the dot bunions and blisters.
Frankly, none of those matter a whole lot, but it does make it easier to gauge how well I’m doing, and how I’ve improved.

I’m finding running is a series of setting goals.
In the beginning it was simple – get to the end of the road, and don’t kill myself on the way back.
My goal yesterday was to run for 7 miles without choking on the car fumes thanks to local Boston traffic.

But sometimes it is different.
Try out a new route and finish it full circle.
See how far I can go after not having run for the last week and a half.
See if I can go my usual despite the current back pains.
Try for a run in the woods and avoid getting mauled by a bear.
Or lets see if I can run that far, and just push my limits without rubbing out my nipples.
Btw if you don’t get the nipple bit it sucks.
In the hot weather I find I sweat so much over a 6 mile run I get some serious chafing going on. I’m not alone in this, and await a delivery of runners lube.
Sounds like something you’d get in a porn flick…

But even without the goals, or the joy of just being in shape, there are the additional rewards.

I’ve just wrapped up a 4 day stint for a Boston hotel. Yesterday while out for a run I came across a pile of IDs, credit cards, cash, and security access cards. Some poor soul dropped his wallet.
Time to Samaritan up!
One of the cards was a student id from Harvard.
I called the campus police, and to his good fortune it was back in his hands before the end of the night.
Kudos to karma.

Here’s to running :)


Wishin and Soapin’, Running and lovin’…

So I thought I’d put out an update of how things are progressing, and fortunately it is all good news (unless you ask my wife that is).

Starting with soaps, I’ve gotten the first batch out as you know.  The Orange spice has a great aroma kicking up in the bath every time we use it.  Sadly though, we’ve burned through it in about 2 weeks, and far faster than I expected.  Since then I’ve come up with both a second and third batch.  The second was my ode to the Woodshop, with scents of Pine, Fir and Cypruss with some self rendered tallow in the base, and a small kick of ground pepper.  That’s still curing until the end of July so no test washes just yet.

The latest batch (3rd) was a nicely scented Lemongrass.  Lots of Lemon, lemongrass, and bits of lemon rind to round it out.  Smells wonderful!  I tweaked my base formula to make the soaps a bit harder, so while it loses some of the Conditioning qualities, I think it needed hardness more to make ‘em last longer.  I think I’ll whip up a coffee based soap, or perhaps an Oatmilk Honey next :)

As for running, here come the good depending on your perspective.  In a nutshell, I’m still going strong.  Just ran tonight as a matter of fact.  But, the wife doesn’t like how my feet are getting very Caveman-like.  Toes are spreading, and they’re getting wider.  A little wierd, but my back issues have all but disappeared as a result.  I’m finding however I have a mild case of Plantar Fascitis.  As a result I’m going back & forth between shoes & barefoot sandals.  There was a Moonlight 5K in New Milford I managed to run, and despite the light on & off rain I managed to get a decent time.  Nothing spectacular to be sure, but I was happy to have run my first and finished it.  On to the next, here in wonderful Woodbury come Sunday.  If all goes well I’m shooting to run this one in the barefoot sandals too :)

Its funny when people see me walking around in them.  Lots of comments, and I think overall people are interested, but its hard to tell if they’re humoring me, or if they’re genuinely curious as to what it entails.  In either case I don’t mind spreading the word around.  What works for me isn’t for everyone, but I’ll chew your ear off about it if you’ll let me :)


Barefoot update

My feet hurt.

Not exactly unexpected, but here I thought I was taking it easy.
The other day I had purchased and received some Invisible Shoe running sandals.

I was all excited to use them as my feet have been tenderized on the tiny road pebbles.

So I strapped in, and took off.  Running was definately a bit easier, and it seemed I could focus more on the running itself, than worrying about the abuse on my feet.

As I approached the turnaround at the end of the road, it felt like the burning lungs I’d get from running – wasn’t really there.  In fact, I felt like I was in a  rhythm where all I needed to think about was moving my legs, and the discomfort had passed.

My guess is that I got too cocky here.  On the way back, I could feel my right arch starting to feel pains, and the top of my left foot (tendon?) was beginning to throb.

No problem, I thought.  I’ll tough it out and finish my run and be the better man for it.

That was not the way to go.  After stopping and resting a bit at home, I began to hobble.  I could barely walk down stairs with weight on my left foot, and my right arch felt like it needed a serious massage.

To the internet I went, and I found that despite what I thought was taking it easy – I probably was not.

Most people say to start out easy with the barefooting at one quarter to one half mile at first.

That seemed pretty paltry to me, so I pushed it to around a mile and then just over within days of starting out.

Turns out it isn’t just your soles needing to toughen up, and just your arches and muscles accomodating the change, but you actually run different, and that can affect your feet differently in turn.

Needless to say, I think I’ll run 3/4 mile barefoot to the end of the road, then slip on some regular shoes and keep going from there.

If I only get such small amounts of barefooting it’ll help my feet, but doesn’t do much for overall exercise, so my hope is the shoe running will allow for that to happen.

Time will tell :)


Born to Run – Barefoot??

I am a barefoot runner.

There – I’ve said it.   Now some of you are scratching your heads, or asking ‘why?’  Or ‘what does that mean?’  Or even ‘Are you crazy?!’

Let’s go back to the beginning here.

You see, growing up I was fortunate enough to live near the woods and fields.  I can remember spending hours and days, and perhaps even a week, walking around barefoot in the summer.  We would run to our friends down the road, run to the pond through the fields, or even biking around the neighborhood.  All while wearing not a sock, shoe or flip-flop.  It was glorious.  Not much at the time, but looking back I loved it so much.  It was like a feeling of freedom.  Squishing through the mud.  Feeling the grass blades underfoot.  And I just… didn’t care to wear anything.  My parents left me well enough alone, so I pretty much was able to do what I wanted.

Years later, and just a few months ago, a friend on Facebook posted a picture of new shoes he had gotten.

The second I saw them, I had to ask what they were.  They seemed a bit bizarre, and yet made sense without knowing anything about them.  He tipped me off to a book he had been reading by Christopher McDougall, ‘Born to Run.’

I downloaded an audio copy (I listen to them while I’m driving to & from clients in the car).  But I didn’t have a chance to listen to it, but added it onto my own personal queue.  A few weeks later I got around to listening, and was completely engrossed.

In a nutshell he talks of how mankind’s natural instinct is to run barefoot.  All people all across the globe do it on a regular basis.  Some say that is why we were able to evolve as a species, and surpass the other mammals.  Not only that, but by wearing shoes it prevents a natural gait and stride, limits the arches our feet were designed for, and can typically cause more problems the shoes are meant to resolve by means of added support.

I was sold well before I reached the end.

I’ve had back problems for years.  Much of this stemmed from a snowboarding accident (Cernik!!)  Though I’ve been managing just fine with Chiropractic help.  But unfortunately it makes running difficult, and my back begins to hurt if I run further than 200 feet.  Not so with barefoot.

I decided to take the plunge last week.

The recommendations, more than anything else, are to ease into it.  If you’ve been running for some time, you’ve already got the stamina to keep going, but your arches and soles may not be quite so prepared.  Tales are common of people doubling over, miles into their run in pain.   My chiropractor was even less kind when I asked him for his opinion of it, and he dismissed it ‘as a passing fad.’

Having little running experience, other than those two months back in college, and my love of nature and hiking, I made sure to start off easy.

I stripped off my shoes, decided today was the day, and ran out the front door.

Next thing I know I’m at the end of the driveway, and I just kept going on the pavement down the road.  Now most people (myself included) think how painful this could be.  But you see that is also why you take it easy.  Your soles need time to toughen up, and your eyes can be your greatest asset as you dodge the rocks and pebbles that can cause the sharp quick stabs on your undersides.

Before I knew it, I was at the end of the road, and turned around and headed back home.  All in all, a short 1.2 miles per mapmyrun.com

The next day was Saturday.  Nico had his soccer practice, so I took it upon myself to scoot around the grassy fields.  Per the same site, my 5 laps equaled about 1.5 miles.  A little easier on my feet this time thanks to the comforting grass and cushioning soft earth.

And that brings us to today.  A run on main street with the kids on their bikes, and taking turns with Michelle holding the dog.  The time went by quickly, but I certainly felt it on my feet far more this time.  1.82 miles, per a new Android app EndoMundo (thanks Will)

3 days down, and I can feel the difference.  My toes have small blisters on them, and hurt for no less than 2 hours after finishing the runs.  To top it off, what I thought was a blister on one, turned out to be a rock embedded in my foot. But I haven’t given up hope.  McDougall’s book centers on people living in Mexico called the Tarahumara.  They run with thin soled sandals, that allow the natural feet to capably run, while protecting against small rocks and such.  Needless to say I’ve already ordered a pair at InvisibleShoe.com.

My hope is to run a 5K either barefoot or with the Tarahumara sandals.  Either way, I’m not only getting in shape, but able to enjoy it too.  For the first time in years, I’m really looking forward to running… barefoot :)