Friday, February 26, 2010

Run #4 in the Vibram 5 Fingers (VFFs)

I went out at lunch for a quick run in the VFF (Vibram 5 Fingers). I decided to increase pace a little to see how they felt. I ran the first mile at a 7:40 pace mostly in the grass. I then took a few minutes to stretch and walk for a bit to check things over and see if I was feeling any pain. I ran about another mile on the asphalt at a slightly quicker pace. For me the VFFs still feel a little better to run in the grass as compared to the road. I tend to make slapping noises as I run on the street. At the two mile mark I was near the Mauldin Middle School (where my wonderful daughter attends). I decided to divert down to the track and do a quick lap. I opened it up (for me) and did a lap around the oval about as fast as I could sustain for a 1/4 mile. The result was a 1 m 25 s time. That is about a 5 minute 40 second mile if I could hold that pace for an entire mile. The VFFs felt great. However, I was somewhat bothered by the fact that I can barely hold a 5:40 min/mile pace for 1/4 a mile and the athletes in the Olympics are running a 4:45 pace for 26 miles! The more I think about it, it almost seems inhuman what those marathon runners can do. I am hoping to break the 7 minute/mile barrier for the 5K and these people are running 26 miles at some outrageous pace.

I really want to improve my pace. The problem has been the more I run the more I hurt. That is why I decided to try the VFFs. About twice a year I get this strange calf tear. It happens randomly and even at times when I am just putting along. One minute I feel perfectly fine and the next minute I can barely walk. I have been really stretching my calves and also exercising them. One thing I learned is to both exercise and stretch my calves in the straight leg position and the bent leg position. The most recent calf tear I had was last July. Recovery time for me after a calf tear is about 4-6 weeks. Hopefully those are now in the past.

Back to my run. I rested for a minute or so after my subsonic 1/4 mile run. I then ran back to the office. Fortunately the showers are still open for business. I believe I mentioned this in another post about the showers being closed to employees at my office. Due to the recession we have lost a lot of people. To reduce cost we are shifting all employees to one side of the building to save money on the lease. Unfortunately the side of the building with the showers will not be leased by my employer and will be closed. I have decided not to mention using the showers to anyone and just sneak over to them and shower after my runs. Maybe I can keep using them.

After race summary: I felt great in the VFFs. I believe I could easily run a 5 K in them. I am going to sign up for the Milliken 5K cross country run and give them a shot. I have noticed some slight pain in my right foot but nothing serious. My patella tendons are still feeling great. So far no other pains or problems.

Have a great day.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Born to Run versus Designed to Run

I read and thoroughly enjoyed the book by Christopher McDougall, Born to Run. However, there was one section in the book that bothered me a bit and that is the part of the book that explained how we evolved our running ability. I am a born again Christian, however, I am not going to use this blog as a means of spreading Christianity. There are other methods for that and this is a blog about running. That being said, I just ask you to read this blog through with an open mind. I am not trying to convert anyone to Christianity with this blog. All I ask is you do not allow any of your previous schooling or back ground to influence you. Just open you mind and actually sit back and think for yourself.
I had believed that humans evolved from simple organisms the first 33 years of my life. I watched the series Life on Earth and believed every bit of it concerning how all creatures evolved from simple life forms. One day a friend of mine challenged my beliefs. He gave a simple example. Suppose you are walking through the woods and you found a watch on the ground. You pick up the watch and listen to it and realize it is still ticking and operating perfectly. The time of day is correct. Now, ask this question, did someone design and build that watch or did it just evolve from the natural elements in the ground? You would not even question that for a second. You would say that someone designed and built that watch. Now, compared to a human is a watch more complex or less complex? Obviously humans are infinitely more complex than a watch. So, did humans just evolve from the elements or were we designed. From the moment my friend challenged my beliefs I decided to do some research into the “fact” of evolution.
I am a design engineer. Since I was a child I have enjoyed taking things apart to see how they were designed and assembled. When I look at the human body all I can do is marvel at the intricate design. I do not see a random mindlessly evolved life form. I see a well designed being. Look at your hand. How did that evolve? Start to question what you see. In the book Born to Run the author discusses how wonderfully evolved the human foot is. The bone structure that makes up the arch in your foot is perfect for absorbing the shock load when we walk and run. Our ankles can swivel and bend as necessary to keep you stable on rough terrain. And when you think about it just being able to walk on two legs is a miracle. I say the foot is designed not evolved.
So I ask you to do this next time you are running. Look at what you are doing. Look at the birds flying by held up by air that we can’t even see. Listen to the dogs barking at you as you go by. You are hearing vibrations in the air and your brain is taking the signals from your ears and interpreting them to let you know a dog is barking. A mysterious force named gravity is holding you to the ground. What is gravity? Has anyone really given an adequate explanation for gravity? It all seems a little too perfect doesn’t it? I believe this world was created. And whether you believe it or not, there are a lot of other people out there (including biologist and scientist) that believe evolution is a farce.
So again, I ask, think about it. Really think about it! Were you carefully and lovingly designed or did some mindless process called evolution make you? Even if you don’t believe in God I still challenge you. Did someone design us? Who was this designer?
Thank about it! Don’t just write it off. Your life may depend on it.

Have a great day.

PS: I apologize for the diversion from running.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Run #3 in the Vibrams

I have decided on a good interim race to try out the Vibram 5 Fingers. I am going to try them on the Milliken 5K Earth Run cross country race. The race is on March 20th giving me about 1 month to prepare. My goal is to run this at an 8:00 min/mile pace.

I jogged over two miles today in the Vibrams. I ran on both asphalt and concrete the entire time. I took one small break in the middle of the run to relax my feet. I ran a 10 minute per mile pace and tried to soften my ground strikes. To be honest it really felt great. My patellar tendonitis did not bother me at all. I believe doing the Milliken 5K in the Vibrams should be easy. Another big advantage is the Vibrams are very light and make you feel like you can bound along easily, especially in the grass. When I run in the grass in my Nikes I feel weighted down and slow. Running in the Vibrams (in the grass) gives you a springy feeling.

Now the bad news (for me at least). They are closing the showers where I work. Doing these slower runs does not cause me to sweat much and I could potentially just dry off and go back to work without being to odorous. However, come spring and summer that will be impossible. After a hard run it takes a good 10 minutes just to stop sweating. I will need to come up with some other location to shower. I am bummed as it was really convenient having the showers at work. That is going to throw a wrench in my training routine. I might have to get up early and jog before work.

Have a great day.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Green Valley 10 Miler

I ran the Green Valley 10 Miler this morning. The weather and the views were fantastic. I love running through the country side. I also saw a lot of traffic jams and angry drivers waiting for us to pass through the intersections. I have not run over 6 miles since the Spinx ½ marathon so I decided to take it easy. I know this is an incorrect thought but I always believed if I complete a race without stopping and/or walking I have been successful. I have a few friends that actually do marathons where they run for a while and walk for a while. For some reason I feel like I need to run the entire race. Does anyone else think that?

The course is very hilly but there are not any of those “endless” hills where you feel like you are going to croak before you get to the top. I did not set any records on this run. I believe I finished in about 1 hour and 27 minutes. I held an 8:45 pace through most of the race, about mile 7 I started slowing down a bit. According to my Garmin I fell behind the 8:45 pace by about 300 feet. At mile 9 I decided to suck it up and speed up to get back under the 8:45 pace. I felt really good when I hit the finish line.

Instead of downing some Gatorade or other sports drink before the race I decided to go natural. I consumed a large cup of OJ, a banana, some peanut butter, and I poured a little honey down my throat. I also brought a banana along on the race. I will admit that eating a banana during a run is almost as difficult as trying to suck down some energy gel. I ate about ½ the banana about mile 5, another portion at mile 6 and finished it at mile 8. I think it helped give me the burst of energy at the end of the run. Actually now that I am thinking about it maybe I did not finish the banana. I think it is still shoved in the pocket of my running jacket. I better get that before it funks out and my wife finds it when she is doing the laundry.

One good thing about running is it gives me hope that life is still good in your 50s and 60s and later. I saw many older people as they passed me on the run. Besides being passed by a guy with one leg and the guy with the stroller in previous races, being passed by a person in their 60s also makes one feel somewhat inadequate. I also just remembered being smoked by a 10 year old in the Furman 5K last year too. I was planning on being in the senior Olympics when I am old enough but my dream seems to be fading.

Have a good day.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Run #2 in the Vibrams

I went for my second run in the Vibram 5 Fingers. I may have tried to do a little too much as I am feeling soreness in my feet. I started out with a jog of about 9 minutes per mile. I jogged for 1 mile mostly on the grass and some on the road. I then did a walk/run for the next mile and jogged back the last mile. My feet and legs felt good through the jog. I can tell that I have worked some tendons and muscles that are not normally used when I am running in shoes. I really want to cut loose and try a mile as fast as I can but I know that would probably be a mistake! I will say this. It feels great to run in the grass in those Vibrams. It makes you feel like a kid again, just running through the grass and having a blast. I am looking forward to trying them in the Paris Mountain Trail run in May.
I am doing the Green Valley 10 miler Saturday and I do not want to take any chances of injuring myself. I will definitely be doing the Green Valley run in my Nikes not the Vibrams!
I added a few websites to my blog. They have interesting information on barefoot running and running in general. The Running Barefoot site mentioned that the Discovery Channel is doing a segment on barefoot running. I would like to see that. I believe they are filming it in March.
I also briefly read through the huge amount of instructions on how to run barefoot on the Running Barefoot site. Sheesh, it seems complicated! I think the writer got a little carried away with his explanation.

Hopefully I will see some friends at the Green Valley run on Saturday. The weather is supposed to be good.

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

First time running in Vibram 5 Fingers!

To succeed I have been told you always need to set a goal and map out the way to achieve your goal. My goal is to run pain free (and also do a 6 minute mile but that is probably another blog). I am not sure how to map my way to the pain free running goal but I have been trying many ideas to alleviate my nagging injuries. One option I have not yet pursued is what many people have loudly suggested; “quit running!” After researching running injuries on the web I came across one idea I had not tried and that is barefoot running. My feet have been in shoes for years and there was no way I was just going to run completely barefooted. I could imagine myself running down the street and stepping on a broken beer bottle and adding a new running injury to my list. I then came across the Vibram 5 Finger shoes. These are supposed to be as close to going barefoot as possible. As mentioned in the previous post I researched barefoot running and also read the book “Born to Run”. I have decided to give barefoot running a try!

I have set a goal to train and run the 15K Paris Mountain Trail Run in the Vibram 5-Fingers. This blog will chronicle my training and experience with barefoot running.

First a few words about me. I am an ordinary average guy my friends are all boring and so am I, every Saturday I work in the yard and pick up the dog do and hope that it is hard (borrowed from Joe Walsh’s song Ordinary Average Guy). During my best 5K I ran about 7:30 minutes per mile, however, I am more of an 8 minute per mile guy at best in the 5K. I did manage to run the Spinx ½ marathon where I averaged about 8:35 minutes per mile. In my mind I feel as though I should be running like a Cheetah going down the road at 6 minutes per mile. Unfortunately the reality of the situation is I am more like some strange deformed creature that crawled out of the swamp. My left foot swings out at a 30 degree angle, one leg appears shorter than the other, my head bobs up and down and my arms flail out like I am trying to fly instead of run. My wife happened to be following me one time in the car and yelled out the window that I have terrible running form. I thanked her for the comments and ambled along.
To add insult to injury, at the BWM 2-miler last year a guy pushing a baby carriage zoomed by me and beat me. I was running all out at that time! I believe all baby carriage runners should not be allowed to run in these races. These people do not realize how much it crushes one’s spirit to be passed by someone pushing a baby carriage (with the added weight of the baby in it of course).
Well enough of the crying. I am excited about trying these shoes. My first try with them on a run was Tuesday, February 16th. I did a walk/run of about 3 miles. I ran some on the street and some on the grass. I went slowly at first. I probably ran 10 minute miles. About every ¼ mile I would walk for about ¼ mile. As I became more comfortable I ran a little faster. Running in the grass felt great and natural. Running on the road was a little scary. Information on running barefoot suggest running on the balls of your feet. I am more of a heel striker so it is very awkward trying to run on the balls of my feet. I probably ended up landing flat footed. I also tried to shorten my stride and quicken my leg turnover. I have heard that the faster runners have a higher cadence than us slow guys. To speed up I tend to lengthen my stride which apparently is not a good idea. I completed the 3 mile walk/run in 34 minutes. My feet did not hurt and my knees actually did not hurt. I usually wear a knee strap on each knee to help reduce the pain of the patellar tendonitis. I did not wear the straps and virtually had no pain. At times I did have a pain in the arch of my left foot while walking. While running I did not have this pain.
So I put Day 1 of the barefoot experience as a success. My next day out is Thursday. I plan to do the walk/run again and take it slow.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Hello, this is my blog of my attempt to start barefoot running.

I am now 46 and have been running for the past few years. During that time I have slowly been "falling apart". I have blamed it on getting older, my gait, my shoes, my genes, the running surface, etc. So far I currently have or have had the following injuries:

1. Patellar tendonitus
2. Plantar fasciitis
3. IT band pain
4. Sciatic nerve pain
5. Heel pain
6. Back pain
7. Calf tears-those are very disabling
8. Torn hamstring

In attempt to reduce my injuries I have been trying different ideas. I have tried better shoes, different brands of shoes, cutting my shoes, stretching, othopaedic shoe inserts (expensive ones), glucosamine-chondrotin, running on the grass, exercising with weights, reading running books, visiting specialist, rehab clinics, and probably many other ideas that I have forgotten. After all that I still have most of the listed injuries.
I then heard of barefoot running. Many people claim that running barefoot strengthens your feet, improves your gait, and actually reduces your injuries. I went on Barefoot Ted's website and read through some of his suggestions. I also read the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. In his book there is a tribe named the Tamahurara that can run for days in simple sandals. I thoroughly enjoyed that book except for the portion on evolution (more on that later). If you love running you need to read "Born to Run". Just reading the book made me want to go out and run 50 miles!
I have now purchased the Vibram 5-Finger minimal shoes. These shoes are supposed to be as close to running barefoot as possible without actually running barefoot. Today, Tuesday, February 16th, was my first attempt to jog in them.
My post is named Running with Sasquatch because when my wife first saw the Vibram 5-Fingers on my feet she said they looked like sasquatch feet.
God bless you and have a wonderful day.