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

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday, Feb. 7th . . . more barefoot, and more minimalist on the horizon

I had a great treadmill run this morning. 20 minutes barefoot; 25 minutes in Evo's.

I'm continuing to make changes to my running approach and schedule based on the 3 years of detailed notes I've kept and I'm continuing to isolate the key components that have allowed me to run the strongest, fastest, and without significant injuries. I admit that I've been all over the place from barefoot only, to shoe only, to a mix, back to barefoot, back to shod, and it goes on and on but I know it's all part of my learning process and it's necessary and required in order for me to find my perfect mix.

I am continuing to increase my daily % of barefoot running with the goal of returning to about 30-40% of my running being barefoot which I was doing about 6 months ago when I felt my strongest. I'm also back to only tracking distance and pace on 2 days each week, those 2 days being my interval and tempo workouts, but otherwise, I just use a cheap watch to track time with no idea as to specific distance or pace as this was how I learned to "run by feel," which subsequently led to my 5k PR time.

I'm also going back to my more minimalist approach. Besides barefoot, I will maintain a shoe rotation as I think that's important but my rotation will only include very minimal shoes and at this point, I'll try a rotation that consists of the Evo, Mizuno Wave Universe 3, and Invo-8 F-Lite 195. The F-Lite 195 will be the most cushioned shoe I run in and the bulk of my running will be in Evo's and MWU3's (my current pair of MWU3's has close to 500 miles so they are as thin as my Evo's at this point). I also plan to buy a pair of the New Balance minimus trail shoes when they are available for my mountain running.

This week is a big week for me as I have 2 complex gait analysis that will be done and I can't wait for the outcome and analysis which I'll share.



  1. Hi Harry, I thought I could use the comments section instead of emails - that makes for a more lively blog, and may enable a few others to be inspired ;-)
    Very interested by your latest post. I am wondering - what is it that made you think, today, differently from what you were thinking in your Jan 20th and Jan 23rd posts? I understand it is not all scientific, and maybe all cannot be explained, but I would be quite interested to dig that a little bit, because from where I see it, the information you had at that point and the information you have now i.e. your 3 years training history, is not significantly different?
    As you know, I cannot even run at the moment, but am already giving hard thought to the way I will run when I come back. I was totally minimalist when I broke down, so obviously I will have to back off a bit. But how much? :-)

  2. Let me start by saying that while I’m an avid supporter of barefoot running, I have to admit that I’ve also been fighting the notion for years. Barefoot running has been fantastic for me but several times I go back to traditional shoes thinking there’s no way I can’t run in regular shoes and each time, I end up right back at the barefoot doorstep.

    It taken me weeks to pour through 3 years of running notes but it has allowed me to isolate some key findings and conclusions. Each time I thought I learned everything, I found something else but I think I’m pretty much through it although I reserve the right o find something else. There a few obvious facts from my log:

    1. My fastest 5k time (18:02) was in Evo’s on a hard road surface.
    2. My fastest 10k time was in MWU3’s on a hard road surface.
    3. My fastest trail runs have been in both Evo’s and MWU3’s.
    4. Any metatarsal injuries have occurred in Evo’s or MWU3’s, however, I’ve had no such issues in more cushioned shoes like Nike Air Zoom Streak XC’s or Nike Katana’s.
    5. I can run fast times in all my footwear from Evo’s to MWU3’s to various Nike racing shoes.
    6. My feet prefer Evo’s first, followed by MWU3’s. My feet have never been completely comfortable in regular racing shoes other than MWU3’s. I’ve raced fast times in XC’s and Katana’s but they never feel totally comfortable. They don’t necessarily bother me but they don’t feel great like when I put on a pair of Evo’s or MWU3’s (or even Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s). The difference is my foot can’t fully flatten in narrow racing shoes which means I’m slightly off balance during the loading phase and that can’t be a good thing.
    7. The more cushioned the shoe, the lower turnover I have . . . hmm.
    8. I was at my strongest point when I was doing a minimum of 20% of my weekly running barefoot, up to 40%. I also love barefoot running.
    9. While I’ve been injury free for 15 months, when I’ve come close to injury it has occurred when I’ve increased intensity or pace, specifically on my easy run days and/or reduced barefoot running . . . any combination of those factors.
    10. I was really learning to “run by feel,” and could tell you my paces without a Garmin, within :05-:10 sec. per mile because other than my interval and tempo runs, I didn’t run with a Garmin. I only tracked time and not pace or distance.

    So based on the above, I’m taking the best of my experiences to develop the optimal approach going forward, which at this point includes the following:

    1. Barefoot running will again become the pillar of my training approach. No less than 20% of my weekly running will be barefoot, up to 40% (treadmill in the winter; grass in the spring/summer/fall).
    2. Evo’s and MWU3’s will be part of my primary shoe rotation.
    3. I will put the Nike XC’s and Nike Katana’s back in the closet and just focus on running barefoot and in Evo’s and MWU’3 for roads and non-technical trails and dirt roads.
    4. For tough mountain roads, I’ll try the F-Lite 195’s and avoid the Evo’s and MWU3’s as they don’t offer enough protection from metatarsal injury.
    5. I will only use a Garmin for my interval and tempo runs, but otherwise I will “run by feel” and only track total time running each week . . . no fancy watch. This will also help me run easy on easy days.
    6. I will have at least 48 hours of easy running between hard sessions, and no more than 2 hard sessions per week (I’m 41 yrs. old so I recognize I need longer to recover from hard sessions).

    That’s my approach for now. We’ll see how it goes.



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