Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Half Marathon vs. Full Marathon

I had a friend ask me which is better, the full marathon or the half marathon. The timing of the question was interesting for me because I'm deciding whether I want to concentrate on middle distance and whether I'm interested in running another marathon or getting into ultra running. I also had this discussion with my wife who is also a runner having completed multiple marathons.

I decided to concentrate on the half marathon (and 1ok's). Having completed the marathon distance, it was very fulfilling but the training was time consuming and the recovery time limited the number of marathons I could do per year especially since you lose 3-4 months living in a region with a real winter and snow.

Here's the reasons why I decided to concentrate on the half marathon instead of marathons and ultra distances:

1. Half marathon is still challenging and you can concentrate on more speed work.
2. You don't lose entire weekends with really long runs as there is no need for a 18-22 mile run.
3. You finish the half marathon and feel fine (you can still go dancing that night).
4. If you are unhappy with your finish time, you can enter another half marathon race within weeks/months.
5. 10-15 mile long runs are all you need (less than 2 hrs. of running).
6. You don't hit "the wall."
7. I've never had post half marathon depression but I did feel a let down after completing the marathon probably due to all the training required for such an abrupt ending.
8. I've already completed the marathon including a 32 mile run.

There may be a less risk of injury just based on less miles required during training but I'm not sure as other factors weight in to that conclusion including how you train, # of miles, pace, etc.

That's my perspective. To each his/her own.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Treadmill After 14 months

After 14 months of consecutive running outdoors and straight through last winter running outside, the weather today forced me inside to run on the treadmill. It felt weird having gone so long not running on a treadmill. It was hard to not run outside but it was too icy and too dangerous. Snow and cold is no issue but ice is a killer for runners.


Winter Run

My run this week. Oh, so beautiful. Nothing like a winter/snow run.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

World's Lightest Racing Flat - Trying it out

Due to the winter weather, I've been searching for adequate footwear for the winter since my VFFs are not built for these conditions as my toes freeze in the VFFs. However, that's the beauty of the VFFs in being so minimal and providing incredible ground feel but this allows also snow, sleet, and cold air to easily penetrate the VFF and especially cold air which freezes the toes quickly.

As such, in my quest for footwear for the winter that still provides somewhat of a barefoot feel, I was lucky to come across the Mizuno Universe 3's which are the lightest racing flat in the world coming in at 3.8 ounces with very minimal forefoot, mid foot and heel cushioning. The heel is only 9mm higher than the 4mm of cushioning in the forefoot area. I completed a good 10 mile tempo run that I completed in 1 hr. 14 min. and they felt great. I could feel the ground and they provided great response off the ground. I would caution that this shoe requires good running technique and form with a high cadence (minimum of 180 strides per minute). Additionally, this shoe requires, at a minimum, a mid foot strike and optimally a forefoot strike. I'm a forefoot runner which is why my favorites runs are high marathons and 10k although I do complete marathons. If I decided to run more marathons, I would probably have to adjust to a mid foot strike since a forefoot strike puts a lot of pressure on the calfs, butt and Achilles.

In closing, there are potential alternatives for the winter. Give it a try but start very slow unless you are a more experienced runner with excellent form and technique.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Great VFF Run

The temperatures were pretty warm so I put on the VFF KSOs and hit the road. Nice 6 mile easy run. I did pick it up just a little for about 3 miles and took the pace down to 7 min. per mile. It felt great. I'm going back and forth between my VFFs (KSOs and Treks) and my racing flats (Asics Hyperspeed 3's) based on the weather. If it's not too cold, I go with the VFFs.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Shoes, Good/Bad?

After trying many different approaches to running including running barefoot, in VFFs, water socks, and racing flats, I've come to one conclusion. The barefoot runners and the shod runners are both right and both wrong to some extent, in my opinion. Many barefoot runners fail to admit that you can run in shods without injury. Many shod runners fail to admit the benefits for running barefoot. For me, the answer is in the middle.

I believe it is unrealistic to think any large percentage of runners will adopt barefoot running as their primary way to run. I also believe it possible to run injury free in shods and I'm doing it right now. The winter forced me back to my racing flats and I've been injury free. However, the real question is, "what type of running shoes are good and bad?" I think anything beyond a racing flat is bad, plain and simple. The foot doesn't need much and the built up cushion and arch systems in most shoes are bad and weaken the foot. Many racing flats are very light with minimal build up underneath which is very similar to running shoes in the 1960's and 1970's.

As for barefoot running, many college country country programs use barefoot running to improve running technique and to strengthen the foot. The trick, and real challenge, is to mimic your barefoot running technique in running shoes. This is very difficult to do and takes time and concentration to hard wire the running form in your brain so it is natural when you put on the running shoes. Things like a minimum of 180 strides per minute, bending the knees, straight upper body with slight lean at the hips, relaxing, etc., all help with this.

My main point is don't accept what the running companies say at face value and don't accept what the barefoot runners tell you at face value. Listen, research and come up with an approach and answer specific to your expectations and goals.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

What to do in Winter

Well, I've hit a snag with my VFFs. Let's just say they weren't built for cold temperature regions, like where I live. When it starts to dip below 32F, the VFFs are not built to adequately protect the foot from the cold and especially the toes. It is a double edge sword because this is what makes the VFFs so unique and great as they let you feel the ground but, in cold weather, the cold air travels from the ground right up the foot in VFFs as there's not much to block the transmission of cold air.

So, I've had to revert back to my racing flats. At least my flats are pretty minimal being about 6 oz. with a very basic construction and very little support especially at the heel. But, they are the same as running barefoot or in VFFs but compromise is required if I want to maintain my running schedule through the winter. So far, I've run 3 days in my racing flats without any injury or issues.

Let's hope that continues. I'll provide update as I continue to run through the winter.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Minimalism and Cold: Tough Combo

For those of us that live in colder climates, many of us have to find an alternative for running in the winter (cold temperatures, wind chill, snow, slush, sleet, etc.). For my run this morning, it was about 20F and a cold wind, so it was too cold for my VFF KSOs or Treks. So, I had to decide to run inside on the treadmill, which I hate, or put on some type of running shoe. I opted to run outside and tried my replica 1964 Asics Tigers (same shoe worn by Abebe Bikila in the 64' Olympics that we won the gold).

I ran for 6+ miles and it wasn't that bad. It didn't like it but I didn't hate it. It was an easy run day since yesterday was my tempo run. These older style Asics are all leather and they kept my feet warm the entire time. But, I didn't feel great at the end of the run. I had a very minor pain in my knee and I don't have knee issues. As much as I tried, it wasn't possible to keep the same strides per minute in the Asics vs. VFFs (or barefoot). I maintained 180 cadence in the Asics but in VFFs, I average about 186-188 and about 188-192 barefoot . . . it makes a big difference.

Also, it is clear that you land harder in shods even if you try to concentrate on landing softer. This must be because the foot is pushing through to feel the surface and anything in the way is a problem (the landing is harder regardless). It's a tough issue because I live in Colorado so those that recommend only barefoot, I don't think they live in the mountains of Colorado (or locations with similar weather). It might work for very short 10-15 minute runs but not for 45 min. to 2 hr. runs. I'm also not a fan of running barefoot in the summer then reverting to something else in the winter. I want the same approach for all climates which is why the VFF (KSOs and Treks) are my primary running footwear (I use barefoot for a small portion of training when possible).

I've decided to try toe warmers with the VFFs. Obviously, I can't place the warmer pad on the toes but if I place it at the base of the top of the foot, the heat may reach my toes (not sure, but I'll test it out). But, moisture will still be an issue with the VFFs. I've tried Moccs and a few other alternatives. It's also way too expensive to try all the possible footwear available. So, I'll stick with the VFFs, and try toe warmers, and ultimately, I may have to use the treadmill on days when it's just too cold.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nice VFF Trek Day

Nice run this morning. 7+ miles in my VFF Treks. Left in the morning darkness and finished as the sun started to rise. Made it an iPOD run this time. Decided to listen to all "Eagles" songs . . . can't go wrong with that. Overall, a very nice easy run.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend Long Runs in VFFs

Had 2 great weekend runs, totaling 24 miles, over the weekend. One in my VFF Treks and the other in my VFF KSOs. Overall it was a good week, 50+ miles. Just to humor myself, I tried to put regular running shoes on my feet and I thought I would die. They felt like 20 lbs. on my feet and all the crap underneath was killing me . . . it's so evident that the foot does not need all that artificial arch, heel and foot support. My feet are getting so strong and the unaided body is unbelievable. But for the winters, I would go 100% barefoot so the next best thing is a thin rubber under my feet called Vibrams. That's all I need.

And, yes, I'm faster in VFFs than running shoes.

But, you all keep drinking the kool aid. It reminds about what a conformist society we live in. We do whatever is the norm and let others define the norm. It's really sad. Someone asked if I felt weird when people make comments and make a weird face because of my shoes. I laughed and said first of all, I laugh as I pass these folks because I run faster than they do but, more importantly, I have to thank my parents for teaching me to not care at all about what people think about me . . . and I never have worried or cared what they think about me. Life is way to short for that.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Great KSO Fartlek

Finished a 7+ mile morning fartlek in my KSOs. I did 2x2 mile at a 6:55 per mile pace with 3 min. rests in-between. Then a 2x1 mile up-tempo and then a cool down. I also had a good warm-up which is critical to avoid injury. I warm-up no less than 15 minutes before starting my workout . . . 20 minute warm-up is ideal.

I like my KSOs slightly more than the Treks because I feel the ground a bit better but the Treks are great in cold weather and on rough terrain.


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