If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Barefoot Bliss

I went for my fifth or sixth barefoot run on the beach yesterday. Normally I go to White Rock but stayed closer to home due to time and the fact that the tide was really low it didn't matter. White Rock has better sand, with fewer shells but I have to drive there and you have to pay for parking (cheap firefighter, you know). Sometimes it's low enough to do a decent one there but at Crescent Beach at the same time the tide is still too high. I did my standard thirty minutes, not wanting to overdo it so the muscles can get used to the softer surface unsupported. It was the first time I wore my music during a beach run and it was pretty cool. There was a harsh wind blowing north so at the start I could barely hear the music but after turning around I was flying with the tailwind. I thought as I was running that it would suck to step on a shell or other sharp sea object and cut one of my feet and hence jeopardizing the Miwok run. Then I thought I could use it as an excuse if (when) I have a crappy race. I decided to stay the course and avoid all crustaceans. I'm looking forward to the delivery of my Vibram Fivefingers I bought on Ebay to prevent some of small nicks and cuts. More so I want to eventually be able to run on the roads in these things. The long term plan is to get used to them on the beach then progress to the trails or grassy fields and finally do some shorter road runs.

When I finished I drove to get some fruit and veggies at a local place. I went in barefoot with no weird looks and no comments. I was wondering what I'd do if someone questioned choice of footwear or lack thereof and asked me to leave. What would be the grounds? How is it different from people with flip flops? I couldn't think of anything. I left, walked back to the van, put my sandals back on (not safe to drive barefoot) and went home. Next adventure: walking barefoot with the kids to school.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Been a While

Due to the fact it's been a month to the day since my last entry, much has changed with me.

In the two days after Chuckanut when doing recovery bike rides my left knee was a bit aggravated. I know it was from the uphills at the race. After those two days it was pretty much okay but still flares up a bit on runs even now.

I've given up on speed work. March 27th was my last long fast run. I was doing 7 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy for about twenty miles. The day after I felt that too-familiar pain in my shin. I decided to stop running for ten days or so. I also had a long think about my training and goals in general. Then I had a long email discussion with coach Ian. I know he has nothing but good intentions for me but I decided to stop using his or anyone else's training program and just run. I don't want to answer to anyone as to why I didn't do a workout or believe it's anyone but me responsible for getting injured. Plus I don't want to feel guilty about doing other things instead of a workout. It was too much to be training for six days a week (including riding) and have to maintain that over time. I've always done well on three or four runs a week and want to get back to that. I also think the speed work was what was giving me problems. Last year at pretty much the same time I got shin pain again and that was after doing long intervals of speed. I don't think ultra distance requires the great volume of speed incorporated in the week. I did some reading on the internet and mostly found that people did some mile repeats or 800s on the track once a week and that was about it. I spoke with Rick Webb from the World 100km team and he had a lot of advice about running in general and it carries a lot of weight because he's been running for probably thirty-plus years. We talked about speed training and also the advantages of running in less-supportive shoes. More on that in a bit. The thing that he said that struck me the hardest was that he knows lots of people who have run hard for years and now can only ride the bike for fitness because of overuse. I don't want to be like that in five or ten years or at least have the choice. I also got some good info from Jack Cook, another member of the Canadian Team. He logs 150 mile weeks consistently without injury. Mind you he's been doing that for years as well.

I've also done some reading on barefoot running and have subsequently done 3, 30 minute runs on the beach at low tide. I remember the first one feeling like I was at the starting point of something epic. I'm planning on doing no fast running for the rest of the year, only comfortable pace and with no heart rate or gps. I just want to put in the miles and build up strength. I'm going to try and hit the beach three times a week and build up the time. Check out this link I received via email from a friend, Sheldon Boreen:

The Painful Truth: Are Expensive Running Shoes a Waste of Money?

It debates whether running shoes are more harmful than helpful.

So in light of these new developments with Miwok around the corner, I don't plan to "race" this or any other event this year. This is like a re-building of sorts where I need to get back to a solid foundation. Each of the last few years I've had trail and/or road races or triathlons to train for and couldn't focus solely on running long. I'm going to see what happens. A goal for Belgium will be to still go sub-eight hours, not 7:15 that I wanted to do, to hopefully qualify for next year if I decide to stay with the team. If not, there's England or H2H as a last chance.