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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday, Dec. 31st . . . making peace with the treadmill

After a .5 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, I put on the Evo and did a 6 mile run at 8:30 pace. It was -8F this morning and while I've run in temperatures that cold before, I don't have much interest in doing it any longer so I made peace with the treadmill and accepted that it will be part of my running routine this winter. I put on a good movie and had a good run.

I had almost no pain in my right foot so it's almost completely healed. The past 4 days has actually been a great reminder for me about how much I love running but also a reminder about the delicate balance required to pretty much run injury free. I've been injury free for over 1 year because I've been disciplined with my feet strengthening and maintaining a good mix of easy and hard running.

However, for the past 3 weeks, I got a bit lazy and didn't continue all my feet exercises and I started to turn my Sunday long run into a tempo run and instead of running a good comfortable pace (7:30 - 8:15), I started running it between 6:15 - 6:45 which was plain stupid. I already have 2 runs per week where I run at paces ranging from 5:30 - 6:30 so it was stupid to add such paces to my long run, not to mention my body, and specifically my feet were not prepared for it.

Since I run close to barefoot (in Evo's), I must be very careful and conservative when I add pace, distance and/or intensity as I can overload the tendons and muscles in my feet (actually this applies to any runner, shod or unshod). Thank god I've spent the time over the past year learning and understanding my body so that I could reduce my pace work for a few days and quickly recovery without having to take an extended break and most importantly, I was able to avoid the dreaded plantar fasciitis injury.

I'll spend the next few weeks running nice and easy to make sure I'm 100% before adding back the heavy pace work.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Say it ain't so . . . treadmill (dreadmill) time . . .

I'm looking at the window at about 6-8 inches of snow and the projected wind chill is -14F tomorrow morning. Now, while I'll do anything to run outside, I won't go that far. I'll be on my nemesis, the treadmill. I'm thinking I'll probably go with the Evo's. Normally for treadmills, I run 100% barefoot but with my recovering right foot, I'll wait until all the pain is gone.


Thursday, Dec. 30th . . . back to the Evo's

Although I still have some slight pain in my right foot, I decided to go back to my Evo's, and it was a smart decision. It would have been a bit easier to run in a more supportive shoe but when I am barefoot or close to barefoot I can feel what's really going on and I run much smoother.

I finished 4.24 miles at a 8:25 pace. I feel considerably better than the day before and I've been spending a lot of the day barefoot. Funny how many doctors tell you to not walk or run barefoot when you have foot pain and I do the exact opposite and it allows me to recovery much more quickly. I remember when I had plantar fasciitis in mid-2009 and I cured it by going 100% barefoot. I'm going to continue to run easy for the next few weeks and I'll start to add back the pace work in a few weeks.

I get to add this to my learning's basket in terms of how I approach my speed/pace work. It's that old adage, "run easy on easy days."


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday, Dec. 29th . . . back on the road again

It was really nice to be back on the road again after 2 days off to allow my left foot to rest. I made the decision to run in the Nike Zoom Streak XC's although I said I'd never run in regular racing shoes again but I decided to play it conservative and give me left foot a bit more protection and support since it is not at 100% (it's at 85%-90% right now). Of course, the soreness is due to my increasing paces, especially my easy run paces which has increased over the past year by about 1:00 per mile.

This morning, I ran for 47 minutes at a nice 7:47 pace. This is still a bit faster than I would otherwise prefer but it's clear that I've reached another level of improvement and it's actually hard for me to run slower. I'm not trying to run faster as I just trying to find a nice easy comfortable pace for my easy run days and that comfortable pace is between 7:30 - 8:00, whereas 12 months ago my comfortable pace was 8:30 - 9:30. I'll chalk it up to improvement and getting stronger over the past 12 months but now

As a result, I'm going to need to modify my training schedule to allow my body to fully adapt to these paces since I'm running in the 7:30 range on easy days, 6:40 on medium effort days and and 5:45 - 6:15 on hard days. I'm not sure what I'll do tomorrow as I will see how my body and left foot feels in the morning.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 28th . . . back at it tomorrow

After 2 days of rest, I'll be back at it tomorrow. With these 2 days of rest, this is only the 2nd time in 14 months where I've run less than 6 times in 7 days. Life is all about learning lessons and I've learned an obvious one which is I can't run hard on too many back to back days as I have been doing over the past 14 days which led to pain in my left foot. I am happy that I've at least smart enough, through bad past experiences, to back off before a small pain turns in to a serious injury.

I'm interested to see how my body responds tomorrow.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday, Dec. 27th - time to back off

So what you learn with practice, consistency and commitment is when to back off and let your body rest. I'm at that point. I'm at my strongest point and I'm running faster than ever but as a result, I'm not being very good in terms of discipline and I've been running pretty hard for a few weeks, even though December is my back off month, so it's time to take 1-2 days off. I've also been quite lazy with my pre-run and post-run exercises and I think it caught up with me. I was so strong that I didn't maintain my stretching and stretching especially in key areas focusing on the plantar muscle, Achilles tendon and IT band. I have no current issues but I can feel very early signs of problems if I don't start back doing my exercises.

It's very hard for me to not run but if I don't back off, then I risk potential injury. I have some pain in my left foot and I know exactly what it is so, unlike I use to do in the past, I'm not going to run through this but instead back off. When you are top shape, taking a day or two off really has no impact and you don't lose any fitness, speed or endurance. Conversely, if you don't back off, you risk a debilitating injury.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 26th - crossroads . . . decision time

This was my planned long run. For my long runs, I run by feel and try to find a comfortable pace where my form and technique feels good and natural but I don't actively try to run slow. However, I had to cut this long run short as I originally planned to run for a 10 mile run but I cut it short at 8.5 miles as I had a slight pain in my right foot.

If I were smart (which I'm not right now), I should have taken today off as my foot was feeling great this morning but it could have used another rest day to fully heal. I would have also been fine if I would have run a lot slower but I found a comfortable 7:30 pace which is a bit faster than I would like to run my long run as I would prefer to run in the 8:15-8:30 range but I'm gaining strength and it's hard to run much slower.

A 7:30 pace is about 1:30 per mile slower than my race pace (5:45 - 6:00) but I'd prefer a 2:00 per mile gap between race pace and my comfortable pace. I've hit a crossroads and this is partly the reason for the slight pain in my right foot. I'm at a point where my speed is increasing and I need to figure out whether I should slow down for easy runs or figure out what adjustments to make that will allow me to run my easy runs in the 7:15 - 7:30 range which is :30 - 1:00 min. per mile faster than my easy runs over the past 2 years. It took several years of maintaining a consistent weekly base of running to get to this point.

I know need to make some big decisions on where I want to go with my running. Due to the amount of racing I do and my training schedule, I'm maintaining more of a competitive running schedule vs. a recreational running schedule. If I'm going to continue down this path, I'm probably going to have to make some adjustments. I'm not sure where to begin so I'll start by looking at my running routine, form and technique and my footwear (yet again). It's one thing to run slower every day but the paces I'm running (at my age) raises a completely different set of issues I need to address.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday, Dec. 24th, easy pace getting faster

A very good recovery run. It's clear that I'm hitting another threshold in my running where I'm getting stronger and faster. This was an easy run for me and 1 yr. ago, my easy runs were in the 8:30 - 9:30 pace range but now my easy runs are sub 8:00 pace. Today's run was 5.68 miles in 44:55, for a 7:58 pace. I've hit a point where the delta between my race pace and easy pace is about 2:00, with my race pace ranging from 5:45 - 6:15 pace and my easy pace ranging from 7:45 - 8:15 pace.

I've had a slight pain in near my right heel for the last few days which is a very early indication of plantar fasciitis if I let it go for months but I know immediately what's wrong. I've been lazy with my pre-run and post-run routines for the past 2-3 weeks and this is the result. So, I'm back to my traditional pre/post run routines which include pre-run towel crunches and golf bal rolls, all targeted toward the plantar muscle, and post-run routines that include calf raises and eccentric calf raises.

The key to injury free running is a very complete and thorough understanding of your body. I know that strong calves are the key to avoiding any achilles or plantar issues and, for me, the only way to maintain strong calves is daily and regular calf stretches and strengthening. This is one of the advantages of having been injured when I started running years ago and today I can point to the causes of most potential injuries.

Notice I said "potential" injury because I'm now able to avoid real injuries by addressing the problem in the very early stages. But, this is the reason why so many runners are injured every year, because 99% of runners' are not dedicated enough to spend the years of consistent running that it takes to listen to and understand your body, but if you do, then you can develop your own specific routine to avoid injuries.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 23rd, 5x800 intervals on trails

I started with a .5 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, then laced up the Evo II's, warmed up for 30 minutes then moved into 5x800 intervals on dirt trails. My pace times for the 800 splits were 6:17, 6:16, 6:02, 6:02, and 6:05. The total workout was 6.93 miles in 53:27.

I'm happy with these times especially considering the dirt trail terrain. The great thing about doing interval and speed work on dirt trails is that you have to work harder on dirt as you have less grip and have to work harder to get your foot off the ground. Additionally, you don't have the safety of the perfect round soft track as now you have to deal with twists, turns and uneven terrain.

When I run good times on dirt, I know I'm ready for hard surfaces. I'd run about :15 seconds per mile faster on roads. These paces were a bit faster than my 5x800 session last Friday so I'm pleased.

I'm looking forward to a nice easy run tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ultra Minimalist vs. Minimalist

I've had some discussions with my minimalist friends and we've been discussing the new trend of shoe companies basically taking their racing shoes and "zero dropping" them and calling them minimalist shoes ("zero drop" is reducing the heel such that the shoe is completely flat and there's deviation from forefoot to mid-foot to heel).

While I think such shoes are a move in the right direction, they are a far cry from true minimalist footwear developed by companies like Terra Plana, Feelmax, Altra, and Vibram (and a few others).

Perhaps we should distinguish between the two groups and for those, like myself, that run in shoes with no heel differential, no arch support, no motion control, and less cushion than any traditional running shoe, perhaps we are "ultra minimalists" and compared to those that run in more traditional racing shoes that are designed with only a few of these elements. There's a big difference, for example, between running in Evo's, KSO's, Osma's or Adam's and Inov-8 F-Lite 195's, Instinct's, New Balance minimus, etc. I personally believe the latter is a far cry from the type of footwear that truly allows the foot to function naturally.


Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, nice easy run . . .

A very enjoyable nice easy run. 6.74 miles in 57:58 over hilly terrain. Average pace the first 30 minutes was 9:10, and 8:03 pace for the last 27 minutes. This is exactly the paces I like to run on easy days. That 8:00 - 8:30 range is a perfect pace for me as it's 2:00 - 2:30 slower than my 5k race pace but it's fast enough to allow me to maintain good form and technique. There's a point where if I run too slow, my stride is choppy and not smooth.

It was a bit chilly (11F) so I had on running jacket on with gloves. The Evo II's are great in cold weather with the additional inside lining.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 21st, a needed day off

I'm glad this is my weekly day off because I need it!!!! I was a bit sore yesterday although I feel good today. I'm sure it's a combination of heavy business travel changing my running schedule and the fact that I tried a new shoe a few days ago being the Alta Adam. Any time you introduce a new shoe, it requires some level of body adjustment. I'll give the Adam another try in 3-5 days as I very slowly introduce new running shoes into my rotation.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, Dec. 20th, the very easy recovery run

A very easy run on the treadmill. I had to run very early as I had a morning flight for a business meeting. After running in the 6:30 pace range yesterday and since Monday is the last run in my 7 day running cycle, my legs are pretty tired by this time.

I believe in alternating hard and easy days so after yesterday's faster paces, I slowed down significantly so I can log additional miles but also allow my body to recover. It's not uncommon for me to run a 6:00 min. pace one day followed by a 9:00 - 10:00 min. pace the next day.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 19th, my favorite tempo run

A great tempo run in my Evo II's. 7.39 miles at a 6:46 pace, after a 1 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill. I was perfectly warmed up after the barefoot warm-up and immediately started into my tempo run (I ran on packed dirt trails).

This is my favorite run in the world, being the hard tempo run. My form and technique was on cue today and my arm placement felt great as I've noticed I breathe easier and better with my arms a bit lower. I rarely run with an iPOD but I did my entire tempo run with my iPOD, tuned into a play list of rap music which was a nice change of pace.

My feet are a bit tired but that's normal since I run barefoot and in true minimalist footwear but that's the beauty of minimalist running as I'll accept tired feet (your feet recover amazingly fast) any day as opposed to plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis and runner's knee which occur when I run in traditional running shoes.

It's interesting that I've never been injured running barefoot or in Evo's. It's really too bad that 99% of runners will never have the guts or patience to find out there's truly not only a better way to run but a way to run without being one of the 50% - 70% of runners injured every year. The injury rate is not surprising considering 99% of runners are running in high heels (think about it).



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Altra Adam Review - Dec. 18th, great Saturday run

Altra - The Adam

I was lucky enough to receive a test pair of Altra’s Adam shoe. After walking around in them for a few days, I took them out for a 40 minute test run today (Saturday). Saturday is my easy run day which for me means I try to run 2:00-2:30 minutes per mile slower than my hard day workouts (I alternate between easy and hard days). I ended up running a 7:45 pace for 40 minutes in the Adam’s which I’m actually not that happy about as that’s a fit faster than I prefer as I like to save my legs for my long tempo run tomorrow which should be about 8 miles on hilly terrain, around a 6:30 pace. However, this was an indication of how easy it was to run in the Adam’s.

My primary shoe is the Terra Plana Evo and what I love about the Evo is that it does not do much as it just protects the foot and does not interfere with the natural functioning of the foot. Well, the Adam is on equal ground (literally) with the Evo. The Adam is extremely comfortable and there’s no problem maintaining my natural forefoot/mid-foot landing (I don’t heel strike but I’m pretty sure it would hurt to heel strike in the Adam’s).

For those that love the KSO (like me) the Adam is an improvement on the KSO. Why do I say this? Well, first I’m not a fan of the toe design of the KSO and the Adam provides a traditional toe box but it’s a very wide toe box which allows your toes to spread. This also relates to performance because you can run easier and faster when your toes are engaged and the Adam allows for such engagement (it’s easier to push off at the toes when the toes are not restricted as they are in all traditional running footwear).

The Adam - Design & Performance

The Adam has a nice trail type design and I would compare it to a Vibram in terms of the overall look and feel. The Adam weighs in at about 5 oz., for a men’s size 11.5. It has 2-strap system which is a great design feature as you can adjust the fit at the toe box level as well as the top (as a side note, my wife thinks they look very cool, for what it’s worth, and she wants a pair just based on the look and design).

It was easy to run pretty fast in the Adam as it allows you to run pretty effortlessly. I ran 20 minutes on hard surface (asphalt and concrete) and 20 minutes on hard packed dirt trails and roads, and the Adam performed great on both surfaces. I did a few surges and took my pace down to sub 6:00 pace and they felt great but I backed off as today was an easy day run (those are my paces for tomorrow). However, as for the real tough stuff like mountain terrain with sharp rocks, I don’t think the Adam (nor the KSO or Evo) would provide sufficient protection but the Adam is not marketed as a trail shoe necessarily (on easy/medium trails, the Adam would perform great).

The Adam features a 3 mm rubber bottom, which is similar to the KSO. You are provided with two insole options. One is a flat 3mm insole and the other is a thicker 5mm insole for those that prefer more cushion and slight arch support. I do not like arch support (or any other type of support), so I opted for the 3mm insole.

Of course, one of the key questions many will want to know is “How is the ground feel?” Well, at a high level, it’s very good. To dig deeper, you have to analyze it with and without the insole options. Without the insole, the Adam has a 3mm rubber bottom and feels very much like the Vibram KSO. With the 3mm insole option, the Adam feels like the Evo. With the 5mm insole, there’s no direct comparison but it has slightly less ground feel than the KSO (although I’ve never worn Bikila’s, I suspect it is similar to the Bikila).

The Adam - Fit

The Adam provides a comfortable fit with the 2-strap system. There are no laces as this is a strap design shoe like the Vibram’s (except the Speed’s). The toe box is the widest of any toe box I’ve experienced and Altra should be absolutely applauded for that design feature. Finally, a running shoe that isn’t too narrow, especially for those runners’ with wider feet. Additionally, it allows the entire forefoot and toes to spread and maneuver in their natural manner. I have to admit, the toe box is so wide that it took me a while to adjust but I have regular medium feet.

The wider toe box is an interesting feature for someone like me and I’ll need to log many more miles before I can provide valuable comments on that design feature. I prefer a slightly tighter feel around the foot as I tend to prefer shoes that fit like a durable slipper; hence the reason the Evo is my primary running shoe.

As for the size, I opted for the men’s 11.5 although I wear a size 11 in the Evo and KSO. However, although I rarely run in traditional running shoes anymore, for reference, I wear a size 11.5 in Nike XC’s, Katana’s, Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s, and MWU3’s. However, the 11.5 in the Adam fit just fine.

I’m use to feeling the sides of the toe box area and the Adam gives you plenty of room such that it didn’t feel as snug as the Evo, for example. This will come down to individual preference but the wide toe box is awesome. I probably could wear a size 11 in the Adam but I would stay with the 11.5 because my big toe had just enough room to move around (I’m always fearful of jamming my toes so I opt for more room). Furthermore, I lined up my Evo’s and Adam’s side-by-side and my size 11 Evo’s and 11.5 Adam’s were identical in size, with the only difference being that the Adam feels roomier because of the wide toe box.

The Adam - Summary

First, let me say that I will provide a follow-up review of the Adam after about 50-75 miles as that will give me a much better feel for the Adam. However, at this point, for the most part, I will put the Adam on the same level with the Evo. I will put the Adam ahead of the Vibram KSO because of the wide toe box and the fact that with a traditional toe box, your toes can stay warmer as they generate heat off one another and, additionally, you could even add toe warmers on those exceptionally cold days.

I would absolutely recommend the Adam at this point. Personally, I put the Adam right there with the Evo although I would give a “very” slight advantage to the Evo because of my personal preference of a running shoe that fits a big more snug. I also will admit that from an aesthetic standpoint, I prefer sleek racing shoe designs like the Evo and Mizuno Wave Universe 3, however that’s an individual preference of mine.

I applaud Altra as this is a great running shoe and I’m sure they will only continue to improve on the design. I haven’t tried Altra’s Instinct model which is a more traditional “zero drop” running shoe because it has a bit too much cushion for me (for the Instinct, I would recommend that Altra reduce the cushion by 50-60% so that it is similar to Inov-8’s F-Lite 195 model). Personally I believe “less is more,” so depending on the surface, I want the minimal amount of shoe that will allow me to run on the selected terrain.

Unless something changes as I put more miles on the Adam, I will add the Adam to my rotation (currently, I only run barefoot and in Evo’s). Great job Altra!!!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday, Dec. 17th, getting back on track . . .

After the interruption to my running schedule due to business travel, I'm starting to get back on track.

After a 3 mile warm-up, I moved into 5x800 meter intervals on packed dirt trails. My pace times for the 800 meter splits were 6:36, 6:32, 6:27, 6:20, and 6:16. It was a good hard run and I was happy with the reverse split times. I would give this a 7/8 effort.

I was a little worried after yesterday's run which was much longer than I normally run for an easy run but my legs responded well. I will take it very easy tomorrow with a 30-40 minute very easy run.

I will probably give the Altra Adams's a test run tomorrow.


The Secret to Running

This quote is oh so true. If you want to improve, there's definite sacrifice. I run early mornings and once you body adjusts to that, you will also wake up early on the weekends, hence no sleeping in much on the weekend either. That means I have to go to sleep earlier, hence no late night TV or other stuff. But, in the end, is it worth it? HELL YES.

By the time my colleagues come into work, I've already knocked of 6-10 miles and I've already accomplished something big before the day even begins. It's hard to have a bad day when you start off on such a high.

This is not about instant gratification. You have to work hard for it, sweat for it, give up sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

Lauren Fessenden, Cross Country Athlete

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 16th, run with Runner's World editor

Nice 80 minute run with a Runner's World editor. It was great conversation and a beautiful trail run. It was nice to get back on to it after 2 days off due to business travel. A good solid easy pace 9 mile run in 1:23:01.


Impact of the elevated heel

I can't find any compelling support or reason for the elevated heel in the design of traditional running shoes.

Now that I've fully committed to "true" minimalist footwear, if I even try to walk in cushioned or heel elevated shoes, they feel so weird, almost foreign. I think cushion and heel differentials are quite harmful but, as between the two, I think the elevated heel is the most damaging. In fact, I don't believe it's possible to maintain a "natural" forefoot and/or mid-foot landing with an elevated heel. While it is possible to maintain a forefoot/mid-foot landing in elevated shoes it's "not" natural landing and I don't think it can be as a level of body adjustment is required.

When you have an elevated heel, you must dori-flex the foot a bit more otherwise if the foot is about to land pretty flat (or horizontal to the ground), the heel, even 1-3mm of heel build-up, will interfere with the landing unless you slightly dori-flex the foot a bit more which can be done but it's not the natural body movement as it's a degree of compensation that body is forced to do.

I think this is why I have issues with heel differentials, even minimal heel differentials, as I must adjust and slightly dori-flex a bit more. When you think about how quickly the ball of foot touches down, followed by the heel, we are talking about mm's so 1-2mm is material unless you over dori-flex. This has to have some level of impact on the leg and knee. The degree of impact will vary by individual but there must be an impact.

I continue to narrow down on what type of shoe features are intolerable and heel differentials are a non-starter. The cushion issue is a bit trickier as I see it as a very individual thing as even Evo's and KSO's have cushion albeit minimal but anything more than what is absolutely necessary for the surface I'm running on is the most I will deal with. Except for tough trails, the Evo is the most cushioned shoe I will put on my feet and, if things go well, I'll add the Adam to my rotation.


New Altra Adam's - Initial Impressions

I received a pair of Adam's from Altra to test out. This is just my quick initial impression. I walked a lot in them yesterday and they feel awesome. They actually are more comfortable than the KSO (in my opinion) and I really like the KSO. I haven't run in them yet but I'll do so this Saturday. I would run in them sooner but I don't want to do speed work in a new shoe so Saturday is my next easy run day.

They are incredibly flexible, just like the KSO. They are pretty light (under 6 oz.) and feel good with and without the insole (I'll probably run with the insole). The "zero drop" feature is prefect of course. The minute I took my first step in the Adam, I said to my wife, "yea, they got it right." My wife thinks they look really cool and she wants a pair of the Eve's. They have a very wide toe box which is a great feature and they are significantly wider than the Evo. My toes have plenty of room to maneuver.

It is amazing how different a zero drop feels from any heel elevation, even 2-3mm feels completely different. I'll never run in any shoe that has a heel differential on the bottom sole, not even 1mm.

I'll provide a more detailed review after my first run.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday, Dec.15th, first time in over 1 yr.

I'm ending my business trip that required me to miss 2 consecutive days of running which I haven't done in over 18 months. I never take more than 1 day off per week so this feels weird, but I guess my legs will be fully recovered for my run tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 14th, the off day

No running today as this is my 1 day off each week. I'm convinced this is one of the keys to injury free running as I can feel my body repairing itself on my days off.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, Dec. 13th, end to a good week

Considering this is my last run in the weekly cycle, my legs felt pretty good. I warmed up very slowly including a 5 minute barefoot warm-up, and ran the last 20 minutes around a 7:15 pace. I was concentrating on my hands, arms, elbows and core. It's funny what you can focus on while running.

I'm traveling on business today which works great since tomorrow (Tuesday) is my day off. I'll have to take Wednesday off also but I'll be back at it on Thursday. I can't remember the last time I took back to back days off but I'm ok with it since December is my back off month anyway. I use December as the month to maintain good weekly bases of running but nothing too difficult as I get ready to start racing again early next year (I have a few races set for Jan.).


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 12th - I smiled the entire time . . .

The weather was pretty nice so I warmed up barefoot for 1 mile, then put on the Evo II's started my run. This run was a mixed hilly tempo run with a combination of paces ranging from easy to 10k paces. This was such a fun run and I'm pretty sure I was smiling the entire way. These are the types of runs where you feel blessed and honored to have the ability to run.

After the warm-up, I ran for 8.74 miles with an average pace of 7:43, which included 4 miles at 6:54 pace. Considering it was a pretty hilly run, I was quite happy with the workout as it was a good medium effort run. I was also pleased because I hurt my groin yesterday playing tennis and it hurt last night and this morning but I decided to run nonetheless and it only hurt a few times while running and it feels pretty good right now.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday, Dec. 11th - a beautiful stroll with the wife

A perfect Saturday morning easy run with my beautiful wife. We don't get to run together nearly enough so this was a joy. It was beautiful outside as we ran mostly on back dirt trails. She is a serious runner and has run many more marathons than me but she sacrifices her running so I can get in more miles for my racing. During the week, we can't leave at the same time with the kids, so she tends to run on the treadmill while I run outside. There's no substitute for running outside, so I know she really enjoyed a good outdoor run.

We also did some walking and talking so it was an all-around perfect morning. Total run on 4.47 miles in 46:46. Tomorrow is my long run but I have decided what level of intensity I will run it as I will just play in by ear and she how I feel. I'd like to throw in a good tempo surge in the middle of the long run, something in the 6:00 pace range.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday, Dec. 10th - 1 mile repeats

After a 5 minute barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, I laced up the Evo II's and headed out for a mile repeat intervals. After a 3 mile warm-up I moved into 1 mile repeats and ran a 5k in 19:37 with my 1 mile pace at 6:47, 6:23, and 6:27 pace. The total run was 7.49 miles in 1:01:58.

It was a comfortably hard pace and everything felt good from my body to my breathing. I didn't completely open up my stride because my body didn't want to so I maintained a slightly shorter stride and higher stride rate and it felt great. I truly believe you must listen to your body and it will tell you how you want to run that day.

I will run short and easy tomorrow to recover for Sunday's long run which will be more of tempo run (in the 8-12 mile range) than a long slow run.


Quote of the Day

Running has taken me in, and continues to comfort, heal and challenge me in all kinds of magical ways. I am not a 'good runner' because I am me. I am a good 'me' because I am a runner.

Kristin Armstrong, Author and runner

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 9th, the short easy run

This was an all hills easy recovery run. I'm trying to incorporate hills into the majority of my runs and, in fact, I'm starting to search for hills while I run. Hill running really builds the legs muscles, especially the calves which come in hand when racing, especially on the flatter surfaces. I ran for just over 30 minutes, totaling 3.17 miles. My legs feel pretty fresh which should be useful for tomorrow's hard tempo run.

I've read that tempo runs are the most important training for the Kenyans and it makes complete sense. I've also been told that in order to get the most out of the hard runs, you must have discipline to run easy on the easy days and even feel like you held back a bit, and that's how I feel right now. I'm curious to see how my body responds tomorrow. I usually run for 45 minutes to 1 hr. on my easy days so this felt like nothing but my legs feel pretty fresh.

My thought is that it may be better to add 1-2 miles on the end of my hard runs and cut back on my easy run days, so I will maintain the same weekly base but there will be a big delta between my hard and easy days as my easy days will be easier and my hard days will be harder.

Today I ran in the 9 minute pace range, and tomorrow I'll be back in the 6:00 and sub 6:00 minute pace range so I'm curious to see how my body reacts to such a difference in paces day to day.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Balance & Vertical Impact: Role of Shoe Sole Materials

If you think cushion under the foot is good and/or if you wonder if cushion is related to running injuries, check out the article posted by my friend Luis:

It's actually quite logical if you think about it. Traditional running shoes create an unstable landing and base that causes increased impact through reduced flexion at the hip and knee so as to briefly achieve improved stability by compressing the interface materials of the shoe sole, and the force to create the compression increased the impact.


Wednesday, Dec. 8th, my favorite tempo run

I started with a 5 minute barefoot warm up on concrete then laced up the Evo II's and hit the trails for a good hard tempo run. The progressive tempo run is my favorite run. In fact, it is one of the runs that the Kenyans do religiously, many times twice per week. Here's a good article at it:,7120,s6-238-267--11909-2-1-2,00.html

After a 30 minute warm-up, I moved into a progressive tempo of 3 miles of running at 6:38 pace. I was running at about a 7/8 effort level on a scale of 1-10. It was a nice comfortably hard run. The complete run, including warm-up, was 6.22 miles in 52:41. My form felt really good and I felt great.

On slate for tomorrow (Thursday) is a nice easy recovery run then I'll throw in another tempo run for Friday.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday, Dec. 7th - my day off

Enough said.

I'll be back to work tomorrow with a good tempo run, alternating 5k and 10k paces.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday, Dec. 6th - Last Run of the Week

My legs were a bit tired but that's to be expected since it's the last run of my weekly run routine, and it follows my long run. However, my stride felt good as did my breathing. I did a lot of big hills and finished 5.41 miles in 49:02.

I can definitely feel the fatigue in my quads but that's normal after some hilly runs. I've been adding more than more hills to all my runs and it really pays off when you move to a flatter surface. It also strengthens the quads and calves.

While I'm feeling fine I will be taking tomorrow off. Regardless of how good I feel, I take one day completely off during each 7 day running cycle. I figure if Sammy Wanjiru takes one day off, there must be something to it.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday, Dec. 5th, I believe in karma . . .

I guess I do believe in karma because my running form and technique is really coming together even more since I decided to never run in traditional running shoes anymore. It solidified that my body has completely adjusted to barefoot/minimalist running and any other type of running will require a long and tenuous adaption for which I was no interest.

This is my long run of the week. This run was all hills for 10 miles. I completed 10.73 miles in 1:31:27, averaging a 8:37 pace, however, I finished the final 1.5 miles at a 6:45 pace.

Since my decision to run solely barefoot/minimalist, it's as if my body was waiting for me to let go of the traditional shoes and I noticed a few new tweaks in my form that felt unbelievable.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday, Dec. 4th, good recovery run

It was just a solid good comfortable run. It can be no more clearer that my body, after 2+ years, has fully adapted to barefoot/minimalist running and anything else I try to put on my feet requires adapation that I'm not willing to deal with.

I ran 5.57 miles in 46:45, a 8:29 pace. It was a nice recovery type run after yesterday's hard tempo hilly run. Tomorrow I have a nice and comfrotable 10 mile hilly run scheduled. My legs feel good. They are a little tired but that good type of tired.


Friday, December 3, 2010

I've accepted the inevitable . . .

As I've been saying over the past few days, I think the shod vs. unshod analysis starts with balance and joint alignment. I've accepted, after numerous trials, that my body has fully adapted to barefoot and minimalist (true minimalist) running and while I can/could run in cushioned shoes (i.e., minimal racing flat type shoes) it would require me to go through another adaption period to learn how to run with more cushion under my feet and I have no interest in going through another adaption period.

After spending 2 yrs. since I starting barefoot running, I've been adapting or, as I prefer to call it, returning my body to its natural state and relying on my body for performance as opposed to gear/ gadgets. My body has been always talking to me but I've always tried to return to racing shoes, or at least add racing shoes to my
rotation, and I've been able to do so and do so without injury or pain for limited periods of time. I can rotate racing shoes just fine but if I run in racing shoes on too many consecutive days, then tension arises in parts of my body, starting with me knees. I always stop at that point so it's never turned into a serious injury but it would if I continued.

This morning, I had a hard 1 hr. all hill run at 5k "effort" pace. It was very warm this morning in Denver (41F at 6:30 am) so I warmed up barefoot on the asphalt and "loved it." Normally, it's too cold and I warm up on the treadmill barefoot. Then, I laced up the Evo's and hit the hills for 55 minutes at a 6:25 pace and it was absolutely "effortless." The ability to control my body, my stride length, my stride rate, etc. is uncanny while barefoot, in Evo's or KSO's. But, even with racing shoes like Nike Zoom Streak XC's, Katana's, or F-Lite 195's, I can immediately feel the difference and my body does adjust but the problem now is I hate the adjustment because my body has fully adapted to barefoot/minimalist running and in fact, expects a certain level of ground and sensory feel.

The cool thing is I can honestly say I tried the standard shoe thing,
over and over, and gave it a fair try even as I continued to improve
my form. What I like is that it's not that I can't run in shoes, it's
that it feels weird and would require me to learn how to run in shoes
and I have no interest in going back to that world. I can't come up
with one reason to return to that world when all my PR's times are in
Evo's so I can't even say I run faster in racing shoes when it's the
opposite as I run faster in Evo's. And, more importantly, I run
injury free while running barefoot/minimalist.

I never thought I'd reach the point where it's weird to even run in the lightest and most minimalist racing shoes available. I attribute most of it to the cushion but obviously the heel differential probably has some impact but I think the biggest impact to me at least, is the cushion, especially soft cushion where the foot sinks into the cushion which obviously makes it more difficult to balance thus impacting joint alignment.

So I'll remember this day as the day I had to finally draw the line in the sand and call "true" minimalist shoes as the most I can deal with on my feet down to barefoot (anything above the true minimalist threshold is a "no go"). I still need something for more difficult trails but instead of relying on shoes, I've decided to commit to learning how to run on more difficult trails in minimalist shoes. At one time, I couldn't run on the packed trails barefoot and I do it without problems today but it took over 1 yr. so it will take time but the end result is worth it.


Friday, Dec. 4th, it's all about the hills

I started with a 5 min. barefoot warm-up, then laced up the Evo's and hit the road for a 1 hr. "all hills" run which included a progressive warm-up, then 10 min. at 5k pace into 5 min. relaxed, into 6 sets of 1 min. very hard, 2 min. comfortable, then a 5 min. warm-down.

I averaged about a 6:25 pace and it was an effortless run (for the 1 min. surges I ran progressively faster from a 6:18 pace down to 5:57 pace, depending on the elevation of hill).

I've decided I can't run in regular running shoes, even racing shoes, anymore. My body has fully adapted to barefoot and true minimalist running and I can't go back to the old world as it would require me to go through an entire adapation phase to learn how to run in cushioned/heel elevated shoes and I have absolutely no interest in doing that. It took my about 2 years to get to this point, so it was a 18 month or so period of adapation, or as I prefer to call it, a return to my natural body state when I rely on my body for performance and speed and not shoes. No shoe can match the performance ability of the body/barefeet.

At the end of the day, it's about balance and joint alignment and cushion/heel elevation throws off my balance and joint alignment and I have no interest in leaning how to run off-balance.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, Dec. 2nd - Easy Short Run

After some dynamic stretching, I did 5 min. barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, then laced up the Evo I's and and headed out the door for a "run by feel," meaning I ran without a watch and let my body tell me what a "easy" pace feels like without regard to actual pace. I picked a route I run often so I know the approximate distance and checked the clock in the house before leaving and I estimated at the end of the run that I finished close to 4 miles at a 8:33 pace.

Everything felt right and I just ran relaxed and the stride felt great, just relaxed and easy. I went back to the form that I felt I had when I set my 5k PR last month. I'm getting back to letting body feel determine my stride length and stride rate as opposed to forcing it. A 8:30 pace for an easy run is exactly where I'd like my easy runs to fall (8:00 - 8:30 is a great easy run pace).


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dec. 1st, tempo trail run

I had a nice hard trial tempo run this morning. I started with a 15 min. warm-up barefoot on the treadmill, then laced up the Evo's and headed for the trails. After a 20 min. warm-up, I moved into 3x1 mile intervals (first and last at 5k pace, middle at 10k pace) with 2 min. recovery in-between each.

I completed the 1st mile @ 6:05 pace, 2nd mile @ 6:31 pace, and 3rd mile @ 6:22 pace. I had a slightly quicker/shorter cadence than I would like during the first mile but the 2nd mile was nice & smooth, and for 3rd mile, the first 800 meters was smooth but struggled the 2nd 800 meters.

This was a stride issue battle with myself but as I warmed down at a 8:15 pace, my natural slightly longer stride started to take over and it felt very smooth and easy and reminded me of my form during my 5k PR race last month.

This is directly related to the balance, joint alignment and cushioned shoe issues. My stride is slightly different in racing shoes as compared to the Evo's as compared to barefoot. I have a smoother stride in the Evo's or barefoot and I believe it is related to balance. While we are probably talking about small degrees of difference, it must have a material impact on me.

As I mentioned, we are optimally balanced when barefoot so as we add more under the foot, especially EVA cushion and heel differentials, our balance is thrown a bit off and we have to further engage muscles and adapt to maintain good balance. This is no issue for some but it appears to be a major issue for me as it must slightly alter my joint alignment from the ankle up to the knee and that causes other issues for me.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is cushion the devil?

I found a good study by Paul Langer (DPM), and while he still recommended stability shoes as more important than cushioned shoes (I obviously disagree as I think both features are bad), he had some good statements and findings regarding the impact of cushion on running shoes.

This is a specific issue that is very close to my heart and something I continue to focus on. On one hand, cushion can feel so good but on the other the hand, it could be at the crux of the injury issue.

I quoted parts of the article and commented on others. The major take- away for me was: "Research has confirmed that cushioned running shoes alter our alignment, muscle activation, sensory feedback and impact absorption features.”

Here's, the 2 compelling conclusions related to the negative impacts
of cushioning.

1. The cushioning in running shoes has a negative effect on joint alignment.

“Impact absorption begins with pre-activated muscle contractions which anticipate the landing while the leg is still in the air and upon contact, the plantar fat pad on the bottom of the foot cushions impact, then muscles contract further, joints flex and rotate in a precisely timed sequence extending from the foot to the ankle to the knee, hip and then spine. All of this occurs in less than half a second on every foot strike and 1,000 to 1,500 times per mile. Efficient impact absorption requires balanced muscle contractions, proper range-of-motion of joints and flexibility of tendons/ligaments. Proper joint alignment is crucial for efficient, injury-free running. The cushioning in running shoes has a negative effect on joint alignment.”

“The thick foam platform of a cushioned running shoe elevates the foot above the ground and compresses unevenly. This uneven compression causes instability and so the runner must now absorb impact while their joints are in less than optimal alignment. The consequence of this is that the collapsing foam causes joints to fall out of alignment and increases workload on tendons, muscles and cartilage. Basically, all the structures of the supporting leg have to work harder to overcome the de-stabilizing effects of the cushioning. Research has confirmed that cushioned running shoes alter our alignment, muscle activation, sensory feedback and impact absorption strategies. “

This makes perfect sense to me because basically all shoes negatively impact balance and if we are not perfectly balanced then joints are not optimally aligned. Why else do we exhibit our best balance when barefoot? As you add more to the shoes, it has a degrading impact on balance, especially as you add excessive cushioning, heel differential, arch support, etc. This could easily explain why I have knee tension with cushioned racing shoes like the Nike Zoom Streak XC vs. the Evo where I’ve never experienced knee tension, as it may come down to overall balance and joint alignment and, for me, when it’s slightly off, the misalignment impacts my knees (and probably other parts of my body).

2. The cushioning of running shoes has a negative effect on proprioception.

“We don’t often think of our feet as sensory organs but the feet sense the landing surface – its geometry and its density. Those sensory input signals then send messages to the joints and muscles to help them adapt to the landing surface. For example, concrete is significantly harder and flatter than a dirt path. Our body does not experience as much ground reaction force upon impact on the dirt path and so the specialized nerve fibers (called proprioceptors) embedded in the foot send signals to the structures above on the best strategy for adapting to the surface characteristics. If you have ever unexpectedly stepped onto a different surface you have felt the variance of how your body absorbs impact under changing conditions. The cushioning of running shoes has a negative effect on proprioception.”

Again, this makes perfect sense to me. The sensory organs are blocked at an ever increasing level as we add more and more cushion or other technology underneath the foot.

So the question is how much cushioning is too much. Basically, any shoe has some type or level of cushioning, even KSOs, Evo’s, Feelmax’s and others but there’s a major difference between the cushion on the soles of those shoes vs. more traditional racing, stability or motion control shoes.

“So how much cushioning is too much? It’s hard to say. Human gait is so unique that runners do not respond in a systematic way to varying levels of cushioning in footwear. What may be too much cushioning for one runner may be just right for another. And to make it even more confusing, there is no reliable way to predict how much cushioning is appropriate. “

What sticks in my mind is that the body is designed to absorb impact without any artificial or technological assistance. And, all the data I’ve seen shows that, even with the most conservative approach, runners are, at a minimum, injured at the same rate in 2010 as they were back in the early 1970’s when shoes had dramatically less cushioning, support and stability.

I know the standard response, “well, modern shoes allowed more people to run.” I could write an entire paper on why that response is insufficient and not even relevant but I’ll leave that to another day.


Why identifying the root cause of injuries is difficult

Many of you know of my past injury issues which have included Runner’s knee, AT and PF. The past 12+ months, however, I’ve pretty much run injury free with no missed running days due to injury or pain. However, I did closely track what I’ll refer to as “tension” in my right knee which is since completely gone but it could have easily turned into a bad case of Runner’s knee.

That’s the background but the issue is trying to determine the cause of the “tension,” and that’s where it gets really tricky. I looked back at my log and running diary and here are the key points in time that point to the beginning of the issue but isolating what was the primary cause and/or if it’s a bit of everything is the real trick in analyzing the cause of potential running injuries.

1. Week of 10/18. I started double sessions running AM & PM, 3 times per week. At the end of the week, I notice tension in my right knee.
2. Week of 10/25. I reduce the double sessions to 2 times per week but did 2 runs in my new Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s. I also ran too hard on my Sunday long run which I essentially turned into a 10 mile tempo run at a 6:45 pace. By the end of the week, the tension is coming and going but not impacting my running.
3. Week of 11/1. I carve back on the miles a bit (50mpw) and mix Evo and Nike Zoom Streak XC (“XC”) running and no tension in the knees and that included AM/PM running.
4. Week of 11/8. One of my heavier mileage weeks (60+ miles for the week) with a mix of Evo, XC and Katana running. By the end of the week, tension in my right knee returns.
5. Week of 11/15. I’m still running fast times and the tension in the knee is still there, coming and going (some days something, other days nothing), but I start running a bit slower on my easy days.
6. Week of 11/22. I do a whole week of 100% Evo running and by mid-week all tension is gone and hasn’t returned since and I’ve been running pretty hard but I added more mileage to each run and stopped the double sessions.
I only list this to point out how darn delicate all of this is.

Was the problem due to increased mileage by adding AM/PM running?

Was it the increased intensity on some of my longer runs turning them into tempo runs?

Could it be the shoes (XC’s, Katana’s, etc.) since I did a full week of Evo running with no issues (but 2 weeks I mixed Evo and XC without any problems)?

Was it the introduction of the new F-Lite 195’s?

Did it go away by running easier on the easy days?

Is it a combination of all the above?

If I had to bet money, I’d say it was the increased mileage with double days but who knows for certain. It’s very tricky and it’s why I don’t automatically say it’s the “shoes,” as there are so many other factors. It can be difficult isolating the specific cause and it may be as simple as “any change,” requires slow adaptation.

Tuesday, Nov. 30th - Day Off

This is my day off. For the past few years, Monday has always been my day off but since my daughter's tennis schedule changed, I had to swap Monday for Tuesday as my day off.

While that may seem like a simple enough of a change, it's actually a big change since Sunday is my longer tempo run (10-12 miles at 10k to half marathon pace) and I would then totally rest on Monday, now I need to do a short recovery run on Monday. However, it's nice to rest on Tuesday before Wednesday's hard interval workout.

For tomorrow, I 'll do a 1 hr. run and throw in several 1 mile pick-ups alternating between 5k and 10k pace, with 2 minute recovery in-between. I'm still deciding which shoes to wear, either my Evo's or Nike Air Zoom Streak XC's for the interval workout.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.

George Sheehan

Monday, Nov. 29th - Running on a Bike

It was a bit chilly with a few inches of snow on the ground but it was beautiful outside. This was a total recovery run after yesterday's tempo run. This was a "run by feel" meaning I didn't carry a watch. I just checked the time before leaving and took off and ran according to how my body felt. I had weary legs which is normal for me after 7 runs in 6 days.

When my legs get tired I mentally see myself riding a bike and I copy the cycling motion and that tends to pick up my cadence a bit. I ran for just over 46 minutes and, if I had to guess, I probably covered about 4.5 miles and I probably averaged a 10:00 pace. I've had many folks ask how I can run that slowly then turn around and run sub 6:00 pace. The answer is simple. You need to run easy on easy days so your body can recovery and allow you to run hard on the hard days.

Tomorrow is my off day, and I'm looking forward to it.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday tempo, Nov. 28th

I split my run into 2 parts: warm-up and a combination comfortable & tempo run. The first part was a fun run (warm-up) with my son covering 3.53 miles. He complained and complained then started to like it and ran his fastest the last mile (funny how that works). It's also hugely beneficial to me to run slower as a warm-up.

After dropping off my son, I moved into the tempo phase of my run. I covered 7.19 miles, averaging a 7:29 pace and increased pace slightly in the middle and covered 3 miles at a 6:46 pace. I continued to focus on my posture, running taller with a crisp shorter stride, and it felt great.

I'm feeling even better having returned to full time Evo running.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday run with my son, Nov. 27th

Today was a recovery day after yesterday's hill run. I was able to convince my son to run with me and it was one of those special father/son days. My son is 13 yrs. old and we finished 6.24 miles in 1:10:47 and it was a very enjoyable run. We also walked another 2 miles or so, so it was good aerobic workout day. It was also perfect for me because it forced me to run easy today which is ideal since tomorrow is my long run (with my long run tomorrow, I'll be in the 50 mile week range).

I think my son has some talent in the longer distances and I'm trying to convince him to try cross country in high school next year. He ran a 5k last week with me and will run another 5k in a few weeks.


The Friday Hills run, Nov. 26th

I did a great 1 hr. hill run. It was 7.43 miles in 1:00:19. There's a specific section of the run where the hills continue for 2 miles, each hill about .3 to .4 miles, one after another. I ran comfortably hard and averaged a 7:15 pace going and 6:47 coming back.

I developed a blister on my right foot, on the toe next to the big toe in my Evo's because I used a toe warmer and it rubbed against my toe but I made it through the run. Interesting thing is that the Evo II is fine with toe warmers and doesn't rub but that's reminder that is I wear the original Evo's with toe warmers, I need to wear toe caps to protect a few of my toes, but in the end, no big deal.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday

A nice run on the back trails where I can disappear from the world. I didn't see one person on the trails. The world was mine for a brief moment and I covert those types of moments and experience. This was another easy day run before tomorrow's hard hilly run. I finished 4.68 miles in 45:45 (9.46 pace). This is what the easy run is all about before I return to the 6:00 pace tomorrow. These types of easy days are effectively recovery days.

My body a bit tired and maybe that was due to playing 1 hr. of tennis late last night, and although I played tennis in high school and college, this was the first time I played in 8+ years (I'm thinking of getting back into the tennis thing also). I started to get a good stride later in the run and started to feel the ground. Feeling the ground for me results in an easy and effortless stride, hence why I can't run in marshmallow shoes.

I'm continue to go back and forth at times but each time I'm starting to feel like my body has less tolerance for racing shoes, even the XC's (I've basically regulated the Katana's to my tennis shoes). I expect the Evo will be my only running shoe yet again. What I really need is a Terra Plana trail shoe . . . TP are you listening?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday, Nov. 24th

Started with a .34 mile barefoot warm-up on the treadmill, then headed out for my run. I decided this would be a pure "run by feel," so I left the Garmin at home and just ran. It was a nice easy 1 hr. run in the Evo's. Total run was 6.27 miles, mostly on packed dirt.

I will say there's definitely a "sharpness" difference running in the Evo's vs. Nike XC's, Katana's or any racing shoe. I can't fully explain but but I believe it has to do with "sensory feedback," and "muscle pre-activation." How that relates to potential injuries, I have no idea but I can feel slight tension in my knees if I run too many days in racing shoes and I have no tension when I run barefoot or in Evo's. I can also feel the engagement of the Achilles in Evo's vs. less engagement in racing shoes.

It's clear that your gait does change to accommodate running in shoes as the body is highly adaptive but you do lose something. Several studies report that there's a 45% energy return in the Achilles and 15% in the arch but with a build up heel as is the case with most running shoes, the Achilles shortens and you lose that advantage and with arch support, you negate the other advantage. I can tell the difference when I run in the Evo's with no arch support and totally flat on the ground.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Shoe Collection

[click on photo to enlarge]

The first row is my primary running shoes, the Terra Plana Evo's (Evo I and Evo II). My second choice is the Nike Zoom Streak XC (second row to the far left as you look at the photo). After that, I occasionally use the Nike Katana, Inov-8 F-Lite 195, and Mizuno Wave Universe 3.


Tuesday, Nov. 23rd - Intervals

After my regular morning foam roller stretching, I ran .35 miles barefoot on the treadmill. I do this several times each week as it wakes up my feet and keeps the muscles in my feet eager.

Then, I headed out the door and warmed up for 30 minutes at a nice casual pace then when I felt I was loose enough, I moved into 6 interval sets of 3 minutes hard/1 minute easy. The 3 minute interval paces were at 10k pace, 6:57, 6:37, 6:35, 6:23, 6:26 and 6:18. I felt good and strong.

The next 2 days will be easy runs with the goal of not running faster than 8:30 pace, and I'd prefer to run in the 9:00 pace range. I've found the key to injury free running is to run hard on the hard days, but very easy on the easy days (the easy days are actually recovery days).

I've also been thinking about my goal for 2011, and I'm leaning toward the sub 18:00 minute 5k (my current 5k PR is 18:24).


Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday, Nov. 22nd - Day Off

This is my day off after the 5k race yesterday. I feel fine but I generally always take a day off after a Sunday race. This conservative approach generally pays off and has worked pretty well considering I haven't been injured in over 1 year. When you are running 5k paces, you think you are fine but in reality, your body is still recovering from all the micro-tears from running at that pace. The injuries that result from overdoing it don't hit right away as they build and slap you later so I've learned to be conservative on the front end in order to stay injury free on the back end.

I'm not sure which workout I will do tomorrow, either a hard interval road run or an easy run. It will be a game time decision as I will see how my body feels tomorrow morning. In fact, I may not decide which workout until after I warm-up so I can truly understand how my body feels.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday, 5k race . . . 5th overall

I just finished my final 5k of the year, and finished 5th overall in 18:59. That’s a bit off my 18:24 PR but I didn’t enter the race intending to set a PR, plus this is a hilly 5k course compared to the flatter course when I set my PR. My goal was to run a hard even split 5k and I was pretty successful as my mile pace splits were 6:03, 6:06, and 6:08. I finished the first 800 meters at a 5:40 pace and I felt great but I decided to pull back because I didn’t come into the race mentally prepared to maintain that pace, as I did in my previous 5k. So I pulled back for the next 800 meters and finished the first mile in 6:03. After the first mile, I felt great and decided to maintain that pace for the race and it felt like a good hard tempo run.

I opted to run in my Nike Air Zoom Streak XC’x instead of my Evo’s for two reasons. First, I’ve never raced in the XC’s so I wanted to experience it. Second, this course is quite hilly with about eight hills ranging from 400-800 meters, one after the other, and, for me, the additional cushion takes some load of my quads on the hills. This course is also a very boring course so it’s not inspirational in the least bit. My previous PR on this specific course was 19:41 so that’s was a good: 42 second improvement.

I really enjoyed meeting the person that finished 4th and out-sprinted me in the final 300 meters. I met him after the race and it turns out he is 51 years old and finished in 18:49. These are the runners that give me inspiration. Being 41 yrs. old myself, I look at someone like that and I know I have plenty more years of being able to maintain this performance level. I get so excited when I meet someone older than me that beats me . . . I love it.

This was the first race this year that I didn’t see any runners in minimalist footwear. However, now that I’ve run 5k’s in just about every type of footwear, I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s not about finding footwear that can help your performance as they don’t exist but it’s about finding footwear that doesn’t interfere with your ability to perform (the performance comes from your body, training and commitment level). For me, it depends on the course and terrain. I prefer in the Evo’s on flat courses or the track. I prefer the Nike Air Zoom Streak XC or Nike Katana on hilly courses as I believe the additional cushion takes a little load off my quads on the hills (of course, I train in the Evo’s on hills to build strength). Of course, that’s only a portion of the analysis as there are just too many other factors that go into a specific level of performance on a specific day including how you feel that day mentally and physically as well as the weather and the course/terrain.

After the race, my body felt just awesome. No pain, injury or discomfort. In fact, I didn’t feel like I even pushed that hard so I went home and ran another comfortably hard 6 miles. The best part of the day was watching my 12 yr. old son finish the 5k in under 30 minutes and he rarely runs with me. . . just seeing the enjoyment on his face and how proud he was to finish outweighs everything else.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Close to 1,000 mile Evo's

Pictures of my Evo's with close to 1,000 miles on them. You can't do this in regular running shoes (click image to enlarge).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday, Nov. 19th Run

I've had several folks ask about my running program so I've decided to post (short) daily updates on my running starting with today's run.

I ran 5.23 miles in 47 minutes. It was a nice easy run with 6, 200 meter strides as I prepare for this Sunday's 5k race. My 200 meters strides were at the following paces: 6:59, 6:42, 6:50, 6:27 and 6:26. I did the strides on roads as Sunday's 5k is a road race. I do 95% of my running on dirt but I do get in some road running the week of races, if I'm racing on hard surface. The strides were meant to be comfortably hard and "not" race pace. My 5k race pace is around a 5:50 pace, so when I do comfortably hard strides, I try to get within :30 - :40 seconds of race pace for the last few strides . . . goal accomplished today. Basically, this drill is to do strides at 10k race pace, which is about a 6:25 pace for me.

I continue to focus on slightly shortening my stride while remaining comfortable and focusing on my landing to maintain a good center of gravity.

I ran in my Nike Zoom Streak XC's which I'll probably race in Sunday. For tomorrow, it's a nice very easy 30 minute run, which I'll do in my Evo's. I've pretty much settled in on a 3 shoe rotation: Terra Plana Evo's, Nike Air Zoom Streak XC's, and Nike Katana's.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is increasing stride rate better to decrease injuries?

Speed is achieved through stride rate and stride frequency. The goal is to optimize the both forces but there is a trade off as the stride length is increased resulting in increased air time . . . what goes up, must come down. Both factors are critical but I've diving into studies comparing the 2 forces as they may relate to injury prevention.

As I think back to when I started barefoot running, I listened to Barefoot Ken Bob, BFT and others talk about shorter strides and it occurs naturally when barefoot. You can still have a good stride length barefoot but generally you can't fly through the air and over- stride the way you can do in shoes.

Here's one of many studies I'm reading:


Purpose: The objective of this study was to characterize the biomechanical effects of step rate modification during running on the hip, knee and ankle joints, so as to evaluate a potential strategy to reduce lower extremity loading and risk for injury.

Methods: Three-dimensional kinematics and kinetics were recorded from 45 healthy recreational runners during treadmill running at constant speed under various step rate conditions (preferred, +/- 5% and +/- 10%). We tested our primary hypothesis that a reduction in energy absorption by the lower extremity joints during the loading response would occur, primarily at the knee, when step rate was increased.
Results: Less mechanical energy was absorbed at the knee (p<0.01) during the +5% and +10% step rate conditions, while the hip (p<0.01) absorbed less energy during the +10% condition only. All joints displayed substantially (p<0.01) more energy absorption when preferred step rate was reduced by 10. Step length (p<0.01), center of mass vertical excursion (p<0.01), breaking impulse (p<0.01) and peak knee flexion angle (p<0.01) were observed to decrease with increasing step rate. When step rate was increased 10% above preferred, peak hip adduction angle (p<0.01), as well as peak hip adduction (p<0.01) and internal rotation (p<0.01) moments, were found to decrease.

Conclusion: We conclude that subtle increases in step rate can substantially reduce the loading to the hip and knee joints during running and may prove beneficial in the prevention and treatment of common running-related injuries.


Running, Politics and Corruption Collide

First of all, thanks to Luis for posting the following:

We often forget about the "ugly" side of sports and when sports and politics collide. This reminds me of the genocidal war that prevented some runners from making it out of the Rift valley to race. It reminds me of the political turmoil in some countries and how very lucky we are in some countries. To even think about the possibility of Haile being pressured or intimidated by the Woyane lead governmentis crazy but entirely possible and, personally I believe it's likely true (sure, Haile and Hermens have no choice but to deny it).

Just think about what Haile has at risk . . . the safety of his family and his business interests, and his obvious love for his country. Haile is a easy target for a corrupt government in Ethiopia. I'm sure there's more going on than we could ever realize.

We humans are great at poisoning the purest things in life!!!! I hope this isn't true but history would support a different conclusion.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Quote of the Day

We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.

Sir Roger Bannister

Friday, November 12, 2010

There's More than Just the Marathon

I read an interesting article in Running Times by Pete Magill about the fascination with the marathon and the lack of respect for the shorter distances (it’s worth noting that Pete ran a sub 15:00 5k at the age of 47). I’ve provided a link below to the full article and used parts of the article in writing this short article as this is a discussion I’ve had with many beginning and advanced runners about the focus on the marathon distance as opposed to the shorter distances like the 5k and 10k. It’s interesting how many runners disregard the shorter distances.

“What I find is disrespect across the running community for the short to medium distances,” says Sam Kinkaid, a former college runner who shed 115 pounds in order to compete again as a masters athlete. “I get this general feeling that if you don’t run a marathon, or at least a half marathon, you’re not a distance runner!”

This follows many of the discussions I’ve had with runners who act as if you are not considered a real runner until you finish a marathon. I know for many, the marathon represents Mount Everest, however, all distances and just running in general should garner equal respect and both are great accomplishments. I feel like some beginning runners feel as if they are forced to run a marathon to be considered a runner and that’s flat out wrong. In fact, the greatest distance runner of all said the following:

It’s worth noting that there isn’t much difference in the quality of runners who excel at both distances (5k and marathon). Haile Gebrselassie was the 5,000m world record-holder long before he claimed the world mark for the marathon.

There isn’t much difference in training either. Both races require a base of volume, tempo and VO2 max work. The marathon demands a few longer long runs. And the 5K adds some sessions for “speed.” But most of the training is the same.

When it comes down to it, we choose the race that works for us. For Tuttle, it’s the “fast and furious” nature of the 5K. Empey prefers the race that best suits her talent. As for me, 5Ks and 10Ks throughout the year provide my anchor to a healthier, happier lifestyle.

I will concede that I’ve run all the distances from 5k to the marathon and I find the 5k every bit as challenging as the marathon, of course if different ways, but equally challenging. Running near VO2 max levels is an experience and challenge in of itself, as is running for 26.2 miles and the level of endurance required. Both require incredible mental fortitude especially as you increase your performance. As with many others, I call the mile 20-24 mark in the marathon “The Wall,” however, I also refer to “The Wall,” in a 5k around the 2.2-2.6 mile mark when you are at or have entered the world of “oxygen debt.” Both require mental fortitude to push through.

Now, it’s noting that when I’m fortunate enough to discuss this topic will elite runners, they have absolute equal respect to any runner, at any distance from the 100 meter sprint to the marathon and every distance in-between. This is because they understand the training and commitment required to excel at “any distance.” I think we recreational runners should take notice.

I think this is an important topic because the issue isn’t whether you have run one block, one mile, a 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon or ultra distance. As the article stated, “The question is whether we’re training, racing and making fitness a part of our lives, and that’s the long and short of it.” As I tell everybody, “Just Run.”


Here’s the link to the full article:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Dead Zone

As I continue to narrow in my ideal shoe rotation, I'm currently down to 2 shoes. The Evo is my primary running shoe and my other shoe is the Nike Air Zoom Streak XC. Of course, I own many other shoes, and many more than I care to reference. In fact, my wife told me I have more shoes than her, which isn't a good sign. In any event, there are a lot of shoe options that fall between the Evo and the Nike XC's but I've found that the closer I get to the Evo, I just opt to run in the Evo. Conversely, the closer I get to the XC, I find other shoes lack either the protection I need on trails or lack the range to be used on both hard and soft surfaces, so I end up back in the Nike XC's as they have great range and function well on concrete, asphalt, packed dirt trails and roads, and more difficult rocky trails.

I call the zone between the Evo and the Nike XC, the "dead zone." If a shoe falls in the dead zone, they generally don't provide much worth to me other than to be used as specialty shoes. For example, I own the Inov-8 F-Lite 195's and they are great on more difficult trials but do not perform well on hard surfaces so that puts them at a disadvantage to the Nike XC which can function on both surfaces, and cost half that of the F-Lite 195 with the Nike XC only costing $49.95.

It goes without saying that the Evo is the best minimalist shoe in my opinion. It's an incredible shoe and works well on any surface, until you start running on more difficult trials but the Evo wasn't designed for difficult trails. Hint, hint, Terra Plana, you may want to consider designing a trial shoe.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nike Zoom Streak XC insole

I ripped out the glued insoles from my Nike Zoom Streak XC's and it was pretty astonishing how much better they felt as a result. I've liked the XC anyway and I didn't think the insoles could be removed but over the weekend, I felt a little crease so I started to pull and sure enough they came out.

I measured the insoles with my digital calipers and they are almost 3mm with a 1mm heel differential formed like a heel cup. After removal, the XC's felt even better.

Of course, they aren't the Evo's but in comparing the XC's with the F- Lite 195's is a complete tie right now. I'm not sure which one is better but I'm sure time will tell.


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Great One Retires

As I'm sure many of you know, Haile was unable to finish today's NYC marathon. He pulled out around mile 16 because of issues with his right knee.

I just read that, "He later announced he was retiring after an illustrious career which included two Olympic 10,000 metres gold medals and 27 world records."
For me, it's a sad day but we all knew this day was coming for Haile. At 37 yrs. of age, it's difficult to maintain that level of performance against the new crop of youngsters that are tearing it up. But what a career and what a person.

Very few transcend their sport, and Haile was one of the few to do it. I wish him the best and I wouldn't be surprised to see him play a key political role in Ethiopia's future.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mizuno Wave Universe 3 - The Real Heel Differential

For those of you that use or are interested in the Mizuno Wave Universe 3, you may find this interesting. Long story short, the reported 9mm heel differential is really only 3mm. For the full story, link here:

Update October 8, 2010: A few weeks ago I started wearing size 9’s in the MWU3’s, up a half size. I think this is great evidence to support the idea that if you have a generous toe box your foot will widen when unconfined. More importantly though, a new discovery. A new discovery I had been suspicious about for a long time. The Running Warehouse web­site gives a heel-to-toe ratio of 15mm in the heel and 6mm in the forefoot. For a long time I've been suspicious about this measurement because it seemed wrong. But at almost $100 bucks a pop and plenty of miles still left in even my old est ones I didn't want to slice them up to see. Now that I've sized up, taking my beloved flats to the chop shop was justified. I sliced them in half from front to back and measured the real heel-to-toe ratio. Surprise, surprise: <= 3-4mm of difference. That’s a big difference from the original. I thought for a moment… “well maybe I've worn them for so long that I've flattened them out”… nope, if that was the case the difference between the heel and toe would have increased with the fore­foot portion becoming more compressed and the heel staying the same as my heels never touch the ground… so not possible.

The reason why the measurements are different is because the outside of the mid-sole is built up around the edges to support the upper in other words the mid-sole is concave. If you measure the outside then yes you get a big difference. But when you cut them in half and measure where your foot actually sits–bingo–big difference. So once again another testament to what I think is the best flat out there. My wife is in Spain right now with the cam era so no pictures yet, but I did buy a brand new translucent ruler just to give ya’ll some tangible proof.

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