Thursday, 27 December 2012
It's the second time the heel has flaired up and both times it's been within a couple of miles of the start on a long run.
It was time to get some help. As said before, I think I started to believe the hype on barefoot and had refused to accept that I could get injured with minimal running and I must be doing something wrong? Even advice on the various barefoot forums was pointing to the fact that I dared to even look at a pair of normal trainers now, let alone still wear them occasionally.
Who is right? All I know is that I'm injured and what I was doing wasn't helping. I started with some sports massage which really helped and took a few days off running to let the pain calm down. I then started to take some anti-inflammatory pills (which I never really do) and set about getting the foam roller from behind the sofa and actually use it!
I sat down and analysed the training and anything I'd changed. Well the only things I'd changed were I'd started actual barefoot training and I'd increased the mileage with 20 mile plus weekly long runs. Well I think I'd answered my own question right there.
I either need to cut back the distances or the attempt to convert to full barefoot. Well I've got an ultra in Jan so cutting the miles was going to be tricky, I'd decided to ease back on the latter for now, while starting a daily routine of extra stretching and massage. Who would think rolling pins would be so useful in running training.
Well it was the Sunday before Christmas and the few days I'd taken off were starting to hurt as I had itchy feet (not literally). I'd decided to squeeze in a cheeky trail race with Katie near Maldon. It was a short 3.5 mile muddy and wet route around a nature reserve and the best thing about it was the fact it was fancy dress with a festive theme and chocolate at the checkpoints!
I dressed in the only costume I had to hand which was Michael Jackson from Thriller, Katie dressed as a Christmas Elf. It was great running round the woods laughing at giant snowmen running past each other in circles.
Back to the important stuff... I'd decided to christen the NB MT110's and Sealskin socks I'd picked up. I still had a little heel pain but specifically ran on the forefoot and it felt ok. The 110's held up well in the thick mud as the sole design was more aggressive than the Trailgloves with defined lugs and the waterproof socks proved awesome as I actually ran through every patch of water that was at times deeper than the tops of the socks and the feet were dry as I ran fast trying not to stand in it too long.
The day was topped off as we both won a fancy dress prize and actually finished reasonabley high up in the results for the short route.
Over the next couple of days I jogged slowly in my Lunas with our new puppy up to about 3 miles. You need to be slow and take it easy with young dogs so I made sure that she only ever walked and didn't full run and this would only be a couple of times.
The heel was getting better and the massage was starting to work. I just wish the rain would stop for 5 minutes lol. Well Christams day came and went and on Boxing Day I couldn't hold out anymore and drove down to the Witham Boxing Day 5.
I entered on the day and decided to wear the Luna Leadville's. I'd not raced that short distance for a while especially on road but taking the chance to probably be the only person running in sandals was too good to pass up.
The only comments at the start were from my own running club members who asked the same old question "are you really running in those?" I was worried about my foot as there was still a little pain but I'd finish even if I had to walk it. After the start I felt ok. Again I purposely ran on the front of the foot and I could feel it rubbing but it actually felt good!
I knew at the start I wouldn't be fast but I was running with a smile on my face. I looked at the watch and I was sub-8 min miles which I was happy with as I'd only be a few minutes off my usual finishing times. I ran with a couple of people of similar pace when after awhile one guy asked if I'd read Born to Run... Classic! He said I was the first person he'd seen wearing sandals to race in! It's great to be a relative trendsetter.
In fact the only issue I had was the large patches of water what I had to run through. My Leadville's don't have the MGT (Monkey Grip Technologhy) and as a result the sandals would slip and move and the toes would take the strain. Ill try and get another pair soon to test. I know Tracy at Barefoot Britain was looking to get them in.
I really enjoyed the run out and it was a great day with a great crowd, I even saw Mr Potter on the route cheering us on! The only issue was a tiny blister on the front pad of the foot and a slightly sore calf from the change in running style. Not bad at all and a day later I was fine.
Next run could be Sundays 25 mile Stansted Stagger.
Saturday, 22 December 2012
Well after some decent planning I felt confident that this time the planned 25 miles would prove easier than the last time out.
Unfortunitely, as well as confident I also felt I slight pain in my right heel. I'd had this pain before and it didn't end well as I got about a mile into a long run before having to stop and quit.
As I stepped out into the pouring rain wearing Lunas and Injini socks, I felt good. Even when within a few seconds as my footwear were soaked, the feet felt refreshed. For the first few minutes I thought the foot niggle would not be an issue but this was short lived.
As I approached town after about a mile the pain quickly spread and the whole heel area was in pain and I couldn't run anymore. This was exactly like before and I knew I couldn't run it off. I made the quick decision to get back home limped to the nearest bus stop.
When I got back home I put my feet up and could actually see the swelling on the inside of my ankle and it was really sensitive to touch. I always used to suffer from PF and I thought this was the case but he pain was slightly different and the way it came on didn't feel 100% like PF.
By lunch time I managed to walk around town as it had calmed down and I took the opportunity to buy a pair of New Balance MT110 Minimal Trail shoes which were £34 from Sports Direct. I'd thought about buying these for quite a while as the Trailgloves were a little light on grip and these were cheap!
After a couple of days rest I had some light massage on the foot by a physio from my running club Jen Lovelock who works out of Toe Zone Foot Care Chelmsford. I have to admit I'd have sports massage everyday if I could afford it as I think it makes a huge difference when training especially as you get older and the body doesn't recover as quick as it used too.
It was interesting having a chat with Jen about barefoot running and her views on it. She's not a huge supporter of minimal footwear as she feels that it defeats the purpose of proper barefoot running. But admitted that going true barefoot probably was positive.
Its been said that one of the main reasons for converting is the fact that as soon as you ditch the trainers that you never get injured again....
Well that isn't true (for me). As a largish flat footed runner with a poor running style even though I've taken 7 months to get where I am and theres a need to be realistic and take things slow.
Well planning a little jog out tomorrow, ill let you know how a get on.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
I made the choice to run down to Chelmer Park where we hold the Barefoot Beginners sessions. First I put on my Xero sandals but this time thought I'd test out wearing normal socks with them as it was winter and still chilly. Ok the decision was a little "tongue in cheek" and I have to admit a part of me liked the fact people would comment.
Actually the result wasn't too bad. The socks actually fitted well and this would also serve to stop any chaffing too. My daughter loved the look but I don't think the wife will be volunteering to run with me any time soon.
I hadn't run in the Xero's for a few weeks and they felt hard going at first but as I warmed up I got used to them again. After a mile I'd got to the park and took the sandals and socks off to run the first section which is approx. 2 thirds of a mile of grass. The ground was soft but still really cold and the feet were taking time to adjust. Yes the going was easier on the feet but I still had to be careful of twigs etc. from the many trees and I noticed for the first time that I did actively chose my route "on the run".
I got to the Tarmac path and straight away the feet felt like they were burning when running on it. I think a combination of temperature and pebbled finish made the run hard work. I got to the end of that section and decided to put the Xero's back on and run home. I ran half the way home and got to a piece of path that was smooth and flat. Again I took off the sandals and straight away it felt right. My feet were well warmed and the ground though hard, felt warm? Strange how different hard surfaces can feel.
As I began the last section home I noticed also that I was trying to run light on my feet as if I was running on a hot surface protecting the feet, I do think I need to let go of that habit and get used to the feeling. Anyway I was happy with the short barefoot run out especially as I analysed so much.
So what's next? I'm planning my next long run and I've got a route in mind which is a homage to my youth as I plan to run the old disused railway line between Witham and South Woodham Ferrers via Maldon in Essex where I grew up. That's 15 miles but I also planned to run from home to the start in Witham which is an extra 10 miles. After finishing I aim to get the bus home :)
Well I'm also trying to incorporate the lessons learnt from my last long run. I've brought some cereal and chocolate bars and will fill my flask so will will have lunch as I go, so we'll see how it goes?
Wish me luck!
Monday, 17 December 2012
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Sunday, 2 December 2012
As I was still feeling a little below par, I decided it was a good idea to postpone this weeks long run as a couple of days rest now will save me maybe weeks if I pushed hard now. There's still sometime until I need to have finished my long runs and I decided to move this weeks long run to mid week to cover this and next week as I'm away next weekend.
Well I thought about how and where to start the session and picked Chelmer Park in Chelmsford Essex. The park is pretty quiet at most times and is a mile around the perimeter. Most of the route is grass which apart from the occasional twig is pretty easy going. It features though a decent section of hard surface path which in my opinion offers new barefoot runners the chance to ease into it. I can eventually see people adding additional laps when they get used to the transition and there's even a couple of slopes!
This obviously presumes anyone will "sign up" to do it lol A few people have expressed interest in my journey so far and I know of many people that have taken the plunge and brought minimal footwear. This combined with the running group I started at work where a few of us run at lunch "san-footwear" so who knows?
Special thanks go to my son Ali who is the Technical guru of Essex Barefoot. He designed the logo and edited the video.
Hopefully see you soon.
Friday, 30 November 2012
You'll be glad to know that in today's modern army that doesn't physically happen but in this case it relates to my constant capability to underestimate and pay for it.
This time as previously indicated it was my decision last Sunday to break in my new Xero's with a long off road run when I'd not run in sandals for sometime due to the weather change instead of the sensible option of a simple short run.
Well I came off the run bruised and sore as expected but nearly a week later I've missed two training runs so far this week and my long run tomorrow is in trouble as I'm way off full fitness.
The sandals decision though wasn't the only poor choice last Sunday as I ran a series of short runs most of the day. The day started badly when I didn't have my usual porridge breakfast and opted for bacon sarnies. Never change anything in your routine unless you test it first and then only a little at a time.
Well because I ran a number of short runs, I'd again managed to under estimate the required fuel and after 18 miles I'd only had one gel and limited fluids. From 6am till 4pm all I'd taken on was a small sarnie, a gel and limited water and I'd taken part in a Cross Country and 10k Road races as well as running to and from events and racking up nearly marathon distance!
Monday morning my calfs were on fire probably also due to my lack of effort with warm down and stretching. I felt stupid waddling my way around the office like I'd messed myself. As well as this, my big toe that I had the op on earlier had started to ache a tad.
I took a couple of days off running then strangely the toe started to really hurt to the point where I could hardly walk on it something that hasn't happened since the actual surgery. That was Wednesday and its Friday now and I'm still limping slightly on it.
So do I risk it tomorrow? The course I'd planned is a fig 8 of Chlemsford so there will chances to opt out mid run. My heart says go for it but my head says take it easy.
Anyway i'll let you know how I get on
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Saturday was spent with the family first visiting a Running Expo in Surrey then we checked out Chessington Zoo while in the area :)
I'd heard about the Expo via Runners World and it sounded interesting with the usual large amount of stands featuring mainly manufacturers and running stores so I knew there would be some nice goodies on display but what really caught my eye was this was the first event where there was a noticeable Barefoot Running representation.
There was a small independent store called Barefoot Britain (www.barefootbritain.co.uk) and a stand run by a couple that specialise in training Barefoot Runners.
These coaches were also holding a talk on minimal running so I was sold.
The Barefoot Britain stand was run by a nice lady called Tracy Davenport. She seemed to know loads about the minimal running scene and had a stock of some interesting products that included some slip on plastic shoes for general “chilling” but also sold basic DIY style running sandal kits. They were branded as Xero but I later found out they were actually rebranded Invisible Shoe sandals from the U.S. the main competitor of Luna.
I really liked the foot beds as they had a nice tread pattern and seemed to be made from a harder material than the neoprene Luna’s? I actually fancied trying some basic sandals to see how I could get on, I love my Luna’s but because they are the 10mm thick soles I feel I'm missing a little of the true barefoot ride if that makes sense. Well my lovely wife Kelly could tell how much I liked them so offered to buy them for me (love you!). Tracy had already “traced” my feet and she picked out some appropriate sized soles, some laces and even a hair pin and hole punch.... I’ll get back to those.
Later we attended the talk on barefoot running. It went into detail on how the techniques differ but also the physical benefits. My whole family actually attended it and they said they found it interesting. The presenters have written a book on the subject so I might try and track it down. My 8yr old daughter especially liked the talk. She’s getting into running and has already run a large number of trail races and is now into Cross Country. I loved the presentation and was the first to ask a question at the end asking "Does it hurt running barefoot?" The presenters actually took time to answer her question in detail and I was impressed with her and the time taken by the guy’s. Below is a pic of Katie at the talk.
Later that evening I built my sandals up from the kit. They were actually pretty easy to put together and I looked forward to testing them the next day. The hair pin I found was for threading the laces through the footbeds lol.
In the morning, I planned to get in some miles by running to a Cross Country in Little Baddow and back then later taking part in the Chelmsford 10k road race. This should cover the minimum of 20 miles long run for my ultra training.
Well what to wear? I wanted to try the new sandals but wasn't sure if I would run to the XC in them or actually race in them later in my 10k road race?
I took the decision to wear them to run to the XC in Baddow. This meant 6 miles of road and trail with some water and mud thrown in.
So what were the Xero’s actually like? Well to start with they felt nice! They actually felt like I wasn’t wearing shoes (hence the Invisible tag?) But what about running? They were hard to start but this was probably due to the fact I’d shelved the Luna’s for the winter and I hadn't run in sandals for a few weeks and it was taking a little time to adjust.
After a few 100m, I was getting used to them though. I'd managed somehow to get the laces set-up bang on and they actually felt better than the top of the range Luna laces. After a couple of miles I felt at home with the new footwear and even did my first mini review live!
See the video review by clicking the link below:
I got to the race start and enjoyed the statements from the rest of the members of my running club on how mad I was to run in those and loved the shocked look from the other clubs runners. Generally I was really pleased on how the Xero's performed. I'd almost say I liked them better than the Luna’s for now but we’ll see.
Did my feet hurt? Well yes to be honest. Were my wet muddy toes cold? Well yes again to that too but nothing serious and when running the friction warms you up. I'd covered probably the toughest terrain these could handle first time out and I felt ok.
Next up was the actual Cross Country event. I changed into my Walsh's for the XC and took it pretty easy on the course as I knew I was running home post event.
I finished 97th (no idea how good or bad that was), I had a quick cup of tea and a custard cream and changed back into the Xero's to run home.
The run back felt emotional. I was a lot slower and the feet were starting to get sore.
Well I kept going and even though I felt tired it wasn't that bad, well until I thought I'd trod on what a initially thought was a really sharp stone but it turned out to be a long thorn that had gone through the sole and into my foot.
I pulled the torn out and kept plodding on till I was home. I'd by now run about 16 miles and I just had enough time to change into a clean club vest before heading off to the 10k road race.
In hindsight, I should have started with something shorter and a little less technical and I knew I’d got blisters in my heels but that was nothing to do with the sandals and I remember a statement from the barefoot presentation yesterday “if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong and need to change something”.
Monday, 19 November 2012
After looking at various ultra-training plans and guides I've decided that as I've taken part in regular marathons and races up to around 30 miles that training for 40-50 shouldn't be that different (notice I never said EASY!)
I've also covered 100km in the Trailwalker event previously which I ran/walked but more walked and also covered long distances in the Army even carrying weight and in boots, so I knew that it would probably be painful, mental and slow!
Due to the above I decided to base training around the marathon training format of short runs in the week with long runs at the weekend. For the last marathon though I'd not done any long runs and still did it ok but the key for me is getting the balance right and not over committing. Be realistic and only plan what is achievable.
So the result is at weekends I'm going to try and fit in a 20m plus off-road run and another shorter run back-to-back. This I've heard is the key to ultra-running as you can't do 50m training runs (well I can't), so instead you get the body used to operating when it's already tired.
Anyway, this weekend just gone....
Well I'd decided that I'd run the Chelmsford Centenary Circle which runs around the outside of the city approx.. 20 miles. I'd run most parts of this many times but there were a few legs that I'd never covered and a few places where I'd end up a little confused.
The run started well, I'd opted to carry some kit in my Inov-8 backpack but not use a bladder as I now preferred the hand bottle (strange as I used to hate anything in my hands). I packed a back-up 500ml bottle in the pack just in case. I used this run to test a few minor things with nutrition though.
The main change was the drink. Normally I'd use an Army issue drinks powered which contains lots of carbs and sugar. I used to suffer from minor cramping though and decided to try something different so this time used water with Nuun hydration tablets (Tri-berry flavour). The tablets have no calories so only provide the minerals needed when running and all the carbs come via gels. (think I might try the next run with no gels and just these to see the real effect).
I'd already tested them in the office in my normal drinking water so I knew I could stomach them but I packed some tissues just in case! Also emptied my energy gels into a single Salomon bottle which is a little like a collapsible "babies bottle". At my last race I fell whilst trying to take on some gel smashing my knee and I though this could reduce time opening packs. (Notice I didn't use the hand carrier).
2 miles into the run and I was feeling a few tweaks with my feet etc. (wearing trail gloves) but then something went click in my back and my back instantly locked like a trapped nerve. I'd woke a week again with the same pain but it had gone but now it had returned instantly?
I couldn't turn my head very well and even breathing was a little painful. I seriously thought I'd have to walk home but jogged a little and noticed that running caused no more extra pain than walking or standing still so thought I'd carry on for a while as I could be in pain at home feeling guilty or feel in pain at home after the run. Was it uncomfortable? YES but it actually took the focus off some other niggles so I carried on.
One of these niggles was some minor discomfort in my right foot in the main tendon down the front. I’d first had this from breaking in the new Walsh’s but now it seemed to return when wearing the Merrill’s also my toe joint started to hurt on the same foot where I’d had my op. These were not that bad and I could live with them but I need to remember that it’s the minor things that can develop into something serious when probably running longer 30-40m as its hard to put up with things for that amount of time.
Well the drink went down well with me only drinking 500ml which I think is too little for a 20m run and would normally drink a little more. I noticed later I’d get headaches even though I’d drank lots when home. The gel bottle also worked ok but I’m still not sure as the last bit was difficult to get out of the bottle so will keep looking at that.
Last point on the topic of Merrill grip in mud. I’ve spoken about this a number of times and again in heavy mud the shoes slipped BUT I tried to run through these sections as flat footed as possible using all the grip they had to offer and this did make a difference so will push on.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
With the autumn and winter upon us the barefoot option is getting a little narrower.
The footwear of choice the Luna Flip Flops were almost packed away for the winter as the last time I wore them they didn't stand up to the wet mud of UK trails in oct/nov!
I'm gutted as with Injini socks the flip flops are ok on warmth but they really don't do wet and mud. Luna have now released all there flip flops with Monkey Grip Technology which is like a non slip footbed. I actually even sent them an email saying do they have plans for a UK winter trail version but to date, nothing heard.
I've instead switched to the Trailgloves which I love BUT even they don't give that grip in the worst that British weather can throw at us. I will stick with these now but have been also using my old Walsh's which I'd promised myself I'd throw out as I'd brought a replacement pair of PB Ultra Extreme's from Pete Bland Sports at this years Fell Relay British championship.
I have no issue using the Walsh footwear in a barefoot blog as these are really basic designs and have little support or drop between heel and front. As said previously though these are very much aimed at serious fell races so I'm still in the market for something barefoot with a little more grip maybe lol
Well for now ill stick to the Merrell's. I've just entered Country to Capital 45m Ultra in January and also the South Downs Way 50m in April so better keep up the long runs!
Friday, 14 September 2012
Sore Points...Yesterday look another step toward full barefoot conversion when I did another long run home from work in the afternoon wearing the Luna's.
I've run to work a number of times and it's not a real issue. It's just under 12 miles with most of the route on pavements / off-road. It can be a little poor in low light but it's ok.
The main reason running to work isn't bad is because it's mostly down hill! Well I've also run home before but usually fully off road which can take 3 hours of hard running.
Yesterday I decided to wear the Luna's and run exactly the same route home as I do to work. I average a reasonable pace in the mornings and can 9 minute mile which I'm happy with for that distance (I'm not fast).
Well I start quite fast but soon I hit the first long hill and I look at the watch and I'm 9.30 miling which is frustrating. I get to the top of that climb and I'm still at a slow pace and realise it's because I'm actually being lazy!
My minds completely off running and I've fallen into the trap where I'm coasting along. Well I've had a word with myself and started to push again. Soon the times are dropping and I'm back to 9.20 then 9.15 BETTER.
After about 5 miles I can start to feel certain areas on the Luna's rubbing again. Not bad just a little annoying. The toe strap on the left foot seemed a little tight and I was getting the uaual pain at the base of my big toes on the right.
Again, I just pushed on as I guessed they didn't get any worst. I've now decided that things will hurt and rub.... get used to it! It's your bodies way of telling you which parts are weak and need to "man up".
Anyway, I kept pushing and got faster finishing with 9 min miles which matched the "to work" times previously ran during marathon training. Most pleased.
The Luna's again performed well.
Monday, 10 September 2012
In for the long run
Friday, 7 September 2012
Building up the miles....
Thursday, 16 August 2012
Well this week marked another first in my barefoot adventure when on Tuesday I took part in my first race in my Luna Sandals!
I'd been talking up the Luna's all week and this 4.5 mile hilly road race was the perfect time to show people what they were like.
This was a very small club race but I still got many comments on why with minutes to go to the off, I still had my "chill out" footwear on and when I was going to change :)
Even at the start line I was asked "you're not really running in those are you?" like I was some kind of sadist... Well soon the race was on and it was uphill which suited the flip flops well as I was forced to take small short strides and soon I was mid-pack "best of the rest" maybe?
I ran past the first check point and the marshals were looking at each other in confusion as I'm sure some people still thought I was trying to be funny with my footwear choice. But the fun really started as I reached the top of the first climb....
Now I was sprinting fast downhill on tarmac road. The thick vibram soles of the luna's were fine and I was very comfortable and I started to think barefoot and road running really works (it has been said before by better people than me) BUT it was the noise that brought the smile to my face.
Slap, Slap, Slap! as I thew myself down the hill. It felt fine but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get any quieter. Maybe it was because I wasn't running right? but it made the marshals smile as they could hear me before seeing me. I later went on to say it was a safety feature!
Three laps later and as I was getting "looser" and more relaxed I did think I was a little lighter on my feet but I still drew comments at every bend from the spectators which was actually fun. Speed wise, I don't think they aaffected me at all. The only thing I did notice was that the rear straps kept creeping down slightly but I could move my foot and they would re-position. I think they need a little rework on the straps as I've been wearing them socially for too long.
Well I crossed the finish line in a respectable time and was asked again by the same club runner for the 3rd time "did I really run in those?"
Yes I did..... and I loved it! I'm going to give road runs a try in the VFF's and see how I get on?
The next day was a very short but steep Fell race. I thought I'd try the new Merrell's as I thought the route was stony paths but how wrong was I!
Oh while I remember......, I'd decided that I'd try and re-sell the original yellow Merrell's off ebay and they were soon snapped up from a fellow club runner so people are willing to give it a go I guess?
Well we set off and soon the path was under a mini lake of deep mud! I knew when most of the start line had fell shoes on that I might be in trouble but too late. I decided speed and aggression was needed so every time I hit a patch of the brown stuff, I went hard, straight and fast. Actually this worked quite well and despite blowing up on the race as it was something like 800ft in 1.5m I had a good time.
I've now not worn road shoes for weeks, maybe months... I little while longer and I should be fully converted.