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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Evo Review - Long/Hard Run

Today I did a hard 10 mile progressive tempo hilly run in the Evo's and one word describes the experience, "AWESOME." This shoe was designed specifically for me, so much that I wonder if they got a hold of the design of my foot :).

After a 15 minute barefoot warm-up, I did 15 minutes at 9:00 pace, 20 minutes at 8:00 pace, 15 minutes at 6:55 pace and then a 15 min. cool down at 8.41 pace. It was everything I hoped it would be. The shoe doesn't interfere with any of my mechanics as it allows the complete natural function of my feet. My Plantar and Achilles could not be happier. The zero drop is perfect . When I took my pace to 6:55, I was relaxed and I could not over-stride in the Evo's which makes it a very similar experience to the BF. I was only exerting about a 80% effort at that pace and my stride was quick and fluid, uphill and downhill.

At 6:55 pace, I'm within :30 seconds of my race pace so it was a good test for the Evo and my body since I haven't done a tempo run at that pace since suffering PF. And, the best part was no hint of PF after the run. All I have is "mildly sore feet," and you BF'ers know that's music to the ear . . . sore feet is easy to deal with but AF, PF, Runner's Knee, etc. are debilitating injuries.

Also, it was about 20F when I started my run and I didn't even use toe warmers of anything and my feet were warm the entire way . . . not even a trace of coldness in the toes. If I wore my KSOs or Treks, my toes would have been too cold to run anywhere near this distance.

I ran over trails, concrete and asphalt, all hilly, so I put them through a good test. The Evo's are wonderful.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Thank You EVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's my review of the Evo after my test run this morning:

I did a 50 min. workout. After a 15 minute warm-up barefoot on the treadmill, I did 15 minutes on the treadmill in the Evo's; 20 minutes outside in the Evo's in 1 in. of snow, trails and clear pavement and concrete, so I got a varying experience. Overall, the experience was pretty awesome. I had a tough time controlling my speed which is one reason I stopped my run because this is an "easy day" run for me. It was effortless because my feet, especially my problem left foot, was acting like I just let it out of jail and it was hard to not run faster.

What makes the Evo great? The fact that is doesn't do anything and that's the beauty. All it does is protect the foot. Immediately my feet (especially my left foot which has suffered from AT and PF) just smiled because there is nothing to interfere with the natural functioning of the foot. My Plantar and Achilles could fully stretch. Nothing interfered with my arch and I kept the insole and there was no problem. Evo clearly made this shoe specifically for me. The weight was no problem and after a few minutes, I had no idea it was 8 oz. And, by the way, 8 oz. still qualifies as a racing shoe so it's still light.

The Evo appears to be constructed very well. Even the lace outlets are well made. I see they took time and thought in constructing the Evo. I also have no doubt the Evo will work for trails. It's like the very durable slipper to protect the feet that Gordon Pirie described. I look forward to seeing how durable it is over time.

In comparing the Evo to the KSO or Trek, the Evo has 4mm on the sole so it has more than the KSO but provides better ground feel than the Trek. The difference in ground feel between the KSO and Evo was pretty minimal in my opinion. I suspect if you take out the insole, it would provide even better ground feel but I actually liked the insole. I used a thin sock and it was about 19F and my foot "never" got cold. I would have very cold toes in the KSO or Trek at that temperature.

Sure, one run is not conclusive but this is a bit different. I've also always distinguished between footwear and shoes. The Universe 3 is the perfect "shoe." I don't consider the Evo, Vibrams, Feelmax, etc., as shoes but instead I consider them "footwear," that is, something that doesn't interfere with the natural functioning of the foot. In terms of the best shoe available today, for me it's the Universe 3 but I didn't want a shoe, I wanted what Gordon Pirie described and I wanted it to look like a shoe. I've been running for 3 years and very consistent (I've only missed 3 days in a row twice) and I've averaged 50-60 mile per week over that time. The minute I put on the Evo, I knew things were different. As Golden Boy said, there's nothing like a "zero drop" feel and this is better than zero dropping a shoe because you will still end up with more cushion with a regular shoe. The Evo is 4mm from forefoot to midfoot to heel. A few months will "not" be necessary. I said the Universe 3 was the best running shoe I had tried after the first day and I stick to that today but only as it relates to traditional running shoes. I've been very consistent in my desire to find a shoe with no heel lift and, until now, the Universe 3 was the best I could find that also allowed me to run in cold weather (with consistent BF, I can run in the Universe 3 without major injury but I can't do that in any other regular running shoe). I won't retire my Universe 3's as they will be great to walk in :).

However, I will continue to run barefoot and I will never stop. As it warms up, I will continue to put in a good chunk of barefoot miles and may do some days where I'm 100% barefoot. I'm healthy because of BF and I will never ignore that again. It's because of BF that I can even wear the Evo.

Lastly, I'd say no heel lift is more important than the mm of cushioning but to get both is ideal and the Evo did a great job addressing both issues. My original thought was that the Evo would be my training shoe but I might race in the Universe 3 but it's clear I can race in the Evo.

In a few weeks, I will be buying a 2nd pair as I might get some leeway from the wife given the smile she saw on my face when I walked in the door. This has been a long 2 yr. journey. At least this hobby of running is a healthy one and I'm spending money on something good for me.

Happy to answer any other questions.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'm Wearing My Evos!

I'm holding my new Evos. Just walked in them and my first impression is "AWESOME." Of course, the real test is my run tomorrow. The sole easily comes out and it's clear they were developed to give the person the choice to remove it.

They are sleek looking; extremely cool. They look like a new cutting edge running shoe. Completely flat from forefoot to mid foot to heel. No heel buildup and no arch support. In other words, my dream running shoe. My foot is great device by itself, as is the case for every human being, so I don't need a shoe that tries to replicate or improve what the human body perfected over the past Millions of Years.

More to come . . .

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Evo Lands Tomorrow

The first barefoot running shoe arrives at my office tomorrow, the Terra Plana "Evo." Check it out. I'll provide an update after I take these puppies out for my first run. They have no differential from forefoot to mid foot to heel and no arch support. The perfect shoe for my foot as I need "no" support. The human foot is all the support one needs.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Running Philosophy

I read everything I could find on Kenyan running philosophy and training. I found a lot of good information and started to map out a plan. Based on my research, these were some key take-aways:

*Take rest days when your body says it's time - no matter what the schedule says, if you need a day off, take it.
*Run only six days a week. Most of the Kenyans take one day off; usually Sunday.
*Make tempo and hill running the twin pillars of your approach. Start slow, finish fast.
*Stroll your slow days if you feel like it. Or go out walking after a race or hard run. Use walking as a way to "soften" the muscles.
*Do "drills" after each run.
*Run barefoot as much as possible.
*Vary pace, very much on your various runs. Some vary pace by as much as 3 minutes. This great disparity in intensity level from run to run is common. To Kenyans, every run has a specific purpose, usually expressed in terms of "easy," "medium/average" or "high" speed. When it's time to go easy, such as the run before or after a "high" session, Kenyans have no qualms about doing nothing more than a glorified trot. This low-intensity, active recovery allows them to still get in volume while leaving them ready to really nail the next hard workout. Most recreational runners, in contrast, run too hard on their easy days and carry around too much residual fatigue to hit the times they're capable of in quality sessions (THIS WAS ME). To reach your racing potential, follow the Kenyans-easy runs easier, harder runs faster.

So applying that to me, 6:30 is my race pace for 5k to half marathon. I decided to continue running 6 out of 7 days but only 1 hard day, 1 medium/average day, and 4 easy days. All easy runs are between 8:30 - 9:30, the medium run is no faster 7:30 - 8:30 and the hard run is no faster 6:45. Using the start slow, finish fast approach, my hard and medium run is a progressive tempo in 10-15 min. stages.

For example, today I did a medium run consisting of 15 minute warm-up on the treadmill barefoot, no faster than 9:30, then put on the racing shoes and did 10 min. at 9:30, 10 min. at 8:30, and 10 min. at 8:00. For my hard run, it will be the same approach but ramp down to 10-15 min. at 6:45 - 7:00 (I see no reason to run my race pace because if I'm training within :30 per mile, the adrenalin of the race will make up the delta and many Kenyans do not train at race pace put get close and continue to extend the distance but not the pace per se). For my easy runs, I haven't run faster than 9:00 and many easy runs in the 9:30-9:45 range (by the way, I'm loving the slow runs because it's a great opportunity to really concentrate on form and technique).

Right now, I feel very strong which is saying a lot since I was on crutches with PF 3 weeks ago and now I feel like I'm close to 100%. This approach is keeping me pretty fresh and the key is the easy run being very easy (I don't do short intervals anymore). Obviously, starting back with barefoot running as part of the training was been a huge benefit as barefoot running is the key to my form and technique which I must transfer to shoes. I make sure that I get at least 15 min. of barefoot running every day and I try to get 1 day of 4-5 miles of either barefoot or VFFs (a "no shoe" day). On a percentage basis, each week barefoot (or VFF or water socks) running accounts for about 40% of my running. I still use my Mizuno Wave Universe 3's as my racing shoe of choice (unless the Kuusa or Evo replaces it).

I've read that, on a scale of 1-10, the hard run should be a 8, the medium run a 6 and the easy runs 4-5. In other words, even after a hard run, you should not be totally drained.

Here's a few good sources you should check out:

Give it a try.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Training Philosophy

After a lot of research and studying of various training approaches, I'm pretty convinced we, in the U.S., have missed the boat. We have a very rigid and inflexible training philosophy which, among other reasons, probably explains why we have failed to challenge the East Africans. I've started a new training schedule that is more in tune with the East African approach to running. I'm running my easy runs, much easier and my hard runs, harder.

Additionally, I've decided to stop interval training and concentrate on tempo training which, if approached conservatively and slowly, should result in increasing my aerobic conditioning level. Instead of slow long runs, I'm going to concentrate on good hard tempo runs but only 1 hard run per week. And, when I say tempo runs, I mean progressive tempo running. So that allows the body to warm up and the focus is on 5, 10, 15, 20 min., etc., sustained paces instead of the 400, 800, 1200 meter sprints we do as part of interval training . . . intervals is what causes many of my injuries. It's too hard to warm up and start sprinting whereas it is much easier to spend 30 minutes gradually increasing pace.

I'm also doing most of my runs, whether hard, medium or easy, on hills as this will build strength and stamina. Although I just started with schedule, I'm feeling healthier and stronger.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Shoe Return

So, after 8 days of running only BF or water socks, I ran in my Mizuno Wave Universe 3's today and it is fascinating what I'm learning through this experience. A few take-aways:

1. I ran with no pain in my Mizuno's today. 15 minutes at 6:45 pace and 15 minutes at 7:45 pace. My BF form and technique transferred to the shods almost perfectly. I did a warm up 1 mile BF and warm down .88 miles BF. A few times I noticed myself getting sloppy in my shods and immediately corrected it based on my BF running. I ran with a straighter back and shorter stride, yet still ran as fast as I did before returning to BF. I also exerted very little energy to run fast which is direct result of BF. So this tells me my form was off when I was running in shods without BF.

2. I'm done with interval training and tempos is the way to go. The more I think about intervals, they don't make sense when you think about the human body. When you run tempo, you can work to the desired pace over a longer period of time. Then, to get faster, simply add duration at the same speed, then slowly add speed. This is more in line with how the East Africans train.

3. It's possible to run in shods but I still need to find the right mix. In this case it was 8 days of BF to allow me 1 day in shods and the day in shods included BF for warm up and warm down. I do know that I will not run back to back days in shods. So tomorrow, I'll go back to water socks.

4. In addition to training wrong, I (and others) may be over-training. I spent all this time to get to a 6:00 - 6:30 pace but today, rarely running at that pace over the past 14 days, I got there pretty easily. This tells me you don't need to train exactly at race pace but just be in the neighborhood (:30 - :40 sec. off race pace for training). The adrenalin of racing will fill the gap so I just need to make sure I do enough tempo and distance training so I'm physically ready to do it. My point, is for me to run say a 10k at 6:30 pace, I probably only need to run that pace once every 10 days or so and probably only need to do it for 30 minutes.

The journey continues but I'm committed since I know I can't go 100% BF living where I do. But I'm encouraged as I think there is a middle ground here. My original guess was that I would end up about 50/50 shod vs. unshod (Tuck, I believe that was your guess also) and I now believe that's where I'll end up. The only question will be whether there's other footwear like the Evo or Kuusa that can replace my Mizuno's, otherwise I'll keep going with the Mizuno's.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Pursuit of the Right Mix

So the journey continues for the right mix of shod vs. unshod. Living in a colder climate like I do, I can't run barefoot all the time. Also, running in the mountains like I do means I need to wear some type of shoe as the terrain and elements are too rough for even VFFs, Feelmax's or any other similar type of footwear. All this means is that I'm still figuring out the answer to "The Million Dollar Question" (see post below). I do know that barefoot running must play a key role in my running regime but I will also need to wear other footwear like water socks (Speedo water socks pic below) or VFFs but I'll also need to wear running shoes at times. When I have to wear running shoes, it will be the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 as I still believe they are the best running shoes made and only weight 3.6 ounces (picture on the right).
I'm still thinking as close to a 50/50 shod vs. unshod mix is the right answer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I just received my new Speedo water socks (picture to the right). I'm excited to start running in these tomorrow. I suspect they may not last long but my foot is rejecting running shoes. I did 11 miles Saturday in similar type water socks and it was a great experience and I ran as fast, and at times faster, than I did in running shoes. More importantly, I ran injury free in the water socks vs. PF pain in running shoes. So, as it stands, I can't put running shoes back on. I'm trying to maintain for the next 6-8 weeks until the Terra Evo and/or the new Sockwas footwear is available.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Feeling Much Better

I'm feeling much better as my PF is practically gone. I have no pain but I must continue to strengthen my feet to make sure it doesn't rear its ugly head again. Of course, the recovery has all taken place while I've run barefoot (no shoes).

At this point, it's becoming increasingly difficult to return to wearing traditional running shoes. I finished a nice 11 mile run on Saturday in socks and it include a sub 6 min. surge and a sub 5 min. surge, all on packed trails. If I can run that distance and at that pace without shoes, why would I put shoes on again? I guess only to deal with difficult elements like weather so I need to find an alternative for cold weather, after which, the traditional running companies can say "bye bye" to my money as they get no more of it.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The $10 Million Dollar Question & Challenge

So today, for the first time since my PF flare up, I decided to run in my Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing shoes and I had a great run with no pain, no PF issues, and so that's the good news. However, as many of you know, I've basically gone 2 weeks only running either barefoot or in Sockwas (which is pretty close to barefoot running). This is the same outcome as last year when I got Achilles Tendonitis and I went 100% barefoot for 2 months then the first couple of times I ran in my racing shoes, I had no pain and no issues.

However, I noticed some key things which tell me AGAIN that the key to running in shoes is to run the same way you run barefoot which is what the East Africans can do because they spent so much time barefoot growing up and the barefoot running style is hard coded in their brains, form and technique.

Here were the clear differences this morning running in my shods vs. running in my shods before my PF flare up:

1. Straighter back;

2. Shorter stride;

3. Higher cadence. My shod cadence today was the same as my barefoot cadence which is 198-202. However, prior to this PF flare up, my shod cadence reduced to 192 which is good but the 6-10 stride per minute difference is material (at least to me) especially if you consider the differential over 5, 10, 15 miles, etc. (this was at a 8:30 pace); and

4. I felt my quad muscles again and I didn't feel them while running mostly shod. I also felt my calfs which mean I'm not engaging the same muscle groups if I run only shod. Over time, if I only run shod, my form and technique changes and I get sloppy. This is verified since it's the second time I experienced the difference when I take time off from shod running and only run BF then return to shods.

The cool thing is the Problem and Key Challenge is clear but the right mix to address the Problem is the tricky part. The Key Question is:

What percentage (%) of barefoot running do I need in order to maintain a barefoot running style in shods?

I suspect this is the key question for many others that decide to use any shods in their running schedule.

The Keyans had 10-15 years of BF running before turning to shoes so we are "way behind" the eight ball. For my run this morning, I did 1.2 miles barefoot as the warm-up and .5 miles barefoot for the warm-down and 4 miles in my Mizuno's. So, on a % basis, 40% - 45% of my run was barefoot. I haven't figured this out completely but I will definitely continue to warm up and warm down barefoot and I'm also thinking of a regular mid-week longer run barefoot (or VFFs) of about 5-6 miles. Using the data I have so far, I'm thinking if I will use shods at all, 20% barefoot is not enough as I'll need to be more in the 40% - 50% barefoot weekly mileage range (Tuck, this makes me think of your question yesterday about the 50/50 mix).

But my main point is something we've discussed which is it appears it is possible to run pretty injury free in shods but that's the easy part. The challenge is what you need to do in order to run in shods. This will vary by person but I believe without question that barefoot running is integral although the individual question again is "How much BF does one need to effectively run in Shods?"


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

PF Improving

My Plantar Fasciitis is improving but of course it's because I ditched the shoes and have been running barefoot for 2 weeks, indoors and outdoors. So the question is can I (will I) put my shoes back on since this is the 2nd time I got injured in shoes and used barefoot running to recover.


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