Sunday, June 2, 2013

Does Running Barefoot?

1. Q. Doesn't that hurt?
A. No, if it did I won't be doing it.

2. Q. What about rocks?
A. What about them?
Q. Doesn't it hurt if you step on them?
A. Of course it does, that's why I don't step on them.

3. Q. What about glass?
A. There's really not a lot of glass on the road, and if I see it, I avoid it.

4. Q. Why do you run barefoot?
A. That's a little more difficult to explain. Once you start doing it it just feels right. I do wear minimalist shoes during the winter and when transitioning back to barefoot running, or when I'm just putting a lot of milage on my soles, but it's a downer.

5. Q. So there are times that you won't run barefoot?
A. Yes, there are times I feel it's a good idea to put on some protection. It maybe for long distances when I've been putting a lot of miles in - you should be smart about it.

6. Q. So barefoot running is only OK for short distances?
A. No, that's wrong, I've run a marathon barefoot, but during the 3+ months training for a marathon you can run 30 to 50 miles a week, which, if you've not conditioned your feet to run that volume, can start to take it's toll. However, your feet adapt amazingly well, so given time, your feet will adjust to those regular distances as well.

7. Q. You must have really tough feet, right?
A. Actually no. Most people expect barefoot running gives you hard calloused feet, but that's just not the case. Again, your feet adapt by building up the pads of your feet, but your soles remain supple, not hard. You were out the old dead skin, which is constantly being renewed. The more barefoot running you do the better your body gets at doing this.

8. Q. I read and hear a lot from other runners, runner magazines, and online sources that running barefoot is just a fad and that there's not data that says running barefoot results in less injuries than running with shoes.
A. That's true, but there are also not studies that say running with shoes causes less injuries than running barefoot. Something you should consider is that real barefoot runners, those that have been doing it for a few years and swear by it, is that most barefoot runners have years of experience running in traditional shoes. I'm not aware of anyone that runs in traditional shoes given barefoot running a real chance, I'm talking about running barefoot for a year or more, then transitioning back to traditional running shoes. One other thing to keep in mind, running shoe companies don't make any money off you if you run barefoot - follow the money.

9. Q. So you're telling me it takes years to be able to run barefoot? Why would I want to spend the time doing that when I could just put on a pair of shoes and go run.
A. No, it does not take years to learn how to run barefoot. It really comes down to the individual, but my experience has been that it takes years to run barefoot well. But I believe that the same holds true for running in general, you can strap on a pair of shoes, but you won't be a good running until you've done it for awhile.

10. Q. I don't know, it sounds crazy.
A. I believe it only sounds crazy because we're practically born with shoes on our feet, it's engrained within us to have shoes on. There's a stigma when it comes to bare feet, which, if you think about it, is really more of a strange point of view. There's a ton of myths about being barefoot too, but most, if not all are wrong. I'd suggest to anyone who's actually interested, question the things you think you know about being barefoot and attempt to change your mind about it. Since I started both minimalist running and barefoot running, my feet have become stronger, healthier, more adaptive, stable, etc. How well would your hands work if you wore mittens for your whole life?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dry Spell

The Toronto Waterfront Marathon is 9 days away. Other than my post on getting a juicer, I've not written anything since early summer and this post is just a brief update with an explanation.

First, Toronto will be my forth marathon and the first one I will run barefoot. My intention had been to write about my training for this marathon using a program provided in a great marathon book, Advanced Marathon, which, in my opinion, is the next level of marathon training for me. That clearly didn't happen. The short explanation is that I lost my way, took the wrong path, if you will. I was having problems staying motivated and couldn't seem to successfully run any notable distance. I think the problem can be traced back to my little calf injury that happened a week after Smuttynose - one year ago. From that point on, things just compounded slowly, so slowly that I just couldn't see it, but things were definitely building. About halfway through my training for Toronto, which wasn't going as planned, I realized what was happening, I'd lost the joy of running. This acknowledgement allowed me to refocus on my love for running and let go of all the secondary noise. I reassessed my goals for Toronto, I let go of time and pace goals and set the obtainable goal of running a marathon I could feel good about. Ironically, the first step was giving myself permission to not to run the marathon if I felt I wasn't ready. I held onto the goal of running this marathon barefoot as running barefoot was the one thing that remained a positive throughout.

So, after Toronto, there are several topics I plan on writing about, some of which will be more detail of the above, and several will be about things I learned along the way, such as breathing, nutrition, mentality, and conditioning to name a few. And of course, my first blog post after Toronto will be about Toronto. Stay tuned :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Learn by Doing - Enter: The Juice

I've been considering juicing for a few days now and had been back and forth on whether or not to try it.  Yesterday I thought I had more or less decided to shelve the idea after seeing what a quality juicer costs, and suddenly thinking, 'why juice at all, just eat more raw vegetables', which seemed to make sense, right?   But this morning that answer didn't really sit well with me, I was missing some, I mean juicing has been around for a long time and the market is well developed for niche industry.  So I searched for an answer to my question, 'why not just eat more raw vegetables', and when I saw the answer I immediately saw the truth of it, 'because you won't'.

I'd been looking at different models of juicers and there appear to be two basic kinds, centrifugal and masticating, and of the two the latter seemed to produce a far superior juice.  The disadvantage of a masticating juicer is it takes longer to juice with verse a centrifugal juicer.  With this in mind I had more or less decided on a masticating style juicer.  If I had not talked myself out of it yesterday I probably would have selected a vertical masticating juicer, which is a relatively new take on masticating juicers, over the more traditional horizontal masticating juicer.  The vertical is a faster masticating juicer than the horizontal and takes up a little less counter space, but from what I could see those were about the only advantage.  The horizontal model is a proven design, can juice leafy greens better, appears to extract more juice and produces a drier pulp, is actually cheaper than the vertical, easier cleanup, is more versatile (you can actually make your own pasta with it), and is far more forgiving making this ideal for a beginner.

This afternoon I purchased an Omega J8006 Juice Extractor - it'll be here tomorrow.  I was hesitant about spending the money without learning more about it, but as I continue to search around online I realized the only way I was really going to learn was to jump in and try it for myself.  We have a local Farmer's Market every Saturday during the summer so I plan to pickup lots of veggies tomorrow to toss into the machine and start experimenting as soon as the machine arrives.  I honestly don't know where this will take me, but my gut tells me I'm on the right path to a healthier me.  While good nutrition is certainly a major component of running, I'm not yet sure how much time I'll spend writing about it on this blog.  I suppose it'll depend on whether I see a direct correlation between juicing and running.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Charity - Upper Valley Haven

Hello all, 

I'll be running the Covered Bridges Half Marathon (CBHM) for the Upper Valley Haven on Sunday, June 3rd. The race starts in Pomfret, VT, goes through Woodstock, VT, and ends in Quechee, VT. This will be my third year running the CBHM for this charity and it may be the last as I'm planning on running the Vermont City Marathon next year, which takes place just a week before the CBHM. 

I know times are still tough for many folks out there or there are other obligations that take priority, so please don't feel obligated to donate. However, any amount you can give helps so if you are able to give even a small amount, you've helped families that have fallen on even harder times.

Here's what the Upper Valley Haven does:

"The Upper Valley Haven is a private not-for-profit organization, founded in 1981, that provides temporary shelter for homeless families and their children, as well as food, clothing and educational programming to those in need.  The Haven has fostered independence by providing resources through our shelter Advocacy, Aftercare and Educational programs.  All services are provided free of charge."

If you would like to help me support this worthy charity, please visit my FirstGiving charity page by clicking on the "Donate" button to the right.

Thank you for your support, 


Update: We raised $808 for the charity, well over my goal of $500. Thank you for your generosity, I know the Haven was very appreciative of the support.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Peering into the Future

As I tend to do, I've been thinking about races far into the future, that being 2013. After my last marathon I decided I was done with trying to run a marathon too early in the year, i.e. February. Through Twitter I learned of the Vermont City Marathon, which takes place in Burlington, Vermont at the end of May. This marathon sounded great so I decided that I'd run it in 2013. The only problem with it is that it's one week before the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, in Quechee, Vermont, which I've run for that last two years and will run again this year. This event was my first race since embracing running and it's that best course I've run to date, so I've had it in the back of my mind to run it every year. I've also run (and will run) this race for charity each time. Now I'm sure there are plenty of people that can run a half marathon a week after running a full, but as of yet, I'm not one of those people, nor do I ever expect to be. So, this year's CBHM will be my last, at least for awhile. The Vermont City Marathon will also like by my most challenging as all previous marathons I've run (and will run - Toronto Waterfront Marathon) have been (is) relatively flat, Burlington, Vermont is one hilly town.

My fall race for next year will likely be the Baystate Marathon that takes place in Lowell, Massachusetts in October. I think I learned about this race early last year and was surprised I never knew about it. I went to college at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and I live less than an hour from the event and I'd never even heard of it before. When I went to Myrtle Beach to run my first marathon last year, I was shocked at how few of the locals seemed to know about this event, I think it had something like 17,000 runners (marathon and half marathon), I mean it was a lot of people jamming up the streets. The Baystate Marathon is considerably smaller than the Myrtle Beach Marathon, and since I wasn't a runner back in my school days, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that I never knew about it. It still seems mind boggling that there's not more general knowledge of an event that stops traffic and has several hundred to several thousands of people in the road.

I'm definitely decided on running the Vermont City Marathon next year, and I'm fairly certain about Baystate. The thing about the Baystate Marathon is it's convenient, so there's relatively no coordination required, i.e. travel and hotel arrangements, so it's possible that if another fall event catches my eye between now and then, well, I can always run Baystate in 2014. I've added countdown timers for both events in the left column at the bottom.