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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, May 30th . . . back to the future?

As I was going through my closet I found my original KSOs so I strapped them on and went for a 50 min. easy trail run and loved it. Of course, the KSO is my all-time favorite running shoe and holds a specific place in my heart as it was the first minimalist shoe I ever ran in. Suffice to say it got me thinking and I'm going to do some more runs in the KSO's and I'll likely purchase a pair of Speeds and Bikila's. I'm phasing out the Nike XC from my shoe rotation as I'm going 100% barefoot and minimalist footwear going forward.

As I've said, I've crossed that threshold after so many years of barefoot and minimalist running, such that almost all running shoes (even racing shoes) either hurt my feet, don't feel right, and/or have an impact (negative) on my form and technique. Some are better than others such as the Nike XC and MWU3 which I still recommend but they are just too much shoe for me at this point in my running progression.

It's scary how flexible and strong my feet and ankles have become since moving in this direction 3 years ago.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 29th . . . easy run . . .

45 min. easy run. Everything was clicking and felt nice and easy. I just love those days. I may take tomorrow off but we'll see. Track session on Tuesday.

Still lovin' the Ultra's although we'll have to see how they hold up in terms of durability. About 95 miles on them and I see signs of wear and tear. We'll see if that turns into anything or not. If I can get at least 300 miles on them, I'll be satisfied.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday, May 28th . . . long run with strong ending . . .

7 mile trail warm-up at half marathon pace, then ended with a 3 mile tempo on dirt roads with 1st mile at 10k pace, 2nd at 5k pace, 3rd at 10k pace with last 600 meters at 3k pace (finished the last 3.4 miles in 20 min.; 6:10 pace). Overall, I'm pleased but the pace per mile for the final 3 miles was about :10 per mile faster than I like for a tempo run at it was too close to my 5:50 race pace . . . I prefer to run :30 sec. slower than race for this type of run.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Perhaps the real issue is "sensory feedback"

for additional discussion on the topic:


Friday, May 27th . . . commitment to barefoot/minimalist . . .

50 min. total workout. Started with a 15 minute warm-up in the Ultra's, then headed to the soccer field for 8x300 meter intervals barefoot at 10k pace.

Gave away all my racing shoes to my brother-in-law. I'm 100% barefoot and true minimalist running from now on (Evo, Ultra's, Luna's). After 3 years of barefoot running, my gait has changed too much for me to run even in traditional racing shoes. Shoes just filter out too much of sensory feedback/information (my sub 18:00 5k's were all in minimalist footwear).


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday, May 26th . . . longer trail run

Nice easy 65 min. run, mostly on trails. I've held back the last few days for no other reason than my body felt like it, so I suspect I have a fast workout coming in the next few days but I'll let my body decide what day that is. It's about time to signup for another 5k race.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25th . . . easy does it . . .

A nice easy 40 min. run this morning in the Ultra's. After yesterday's progressive tempo, I'll back off with back-to-back easy day runs, then see how I feel Saturday as I move back to race pace training. Nothing new or exciting to report other than I feel great and I really like the Ultra's (I just ordered a 2nd pair).


Tuesday, May 25th . . . easy does it . . .

60 min. easy run.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day off and Quote of the Day . . .

Leave your watch on the kitchen table and go—freely, like a child -

Claire Kowalchik, The Complete Book of Running for Women

Words of wisdom as this is why I don't run with a watch or Garmin and "run by feel."


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22nd . . . is this really happening?

Have I discovered my perfect running shoe? It sure feels like it. A nice easy 40 min. recovery run in the Ultra's and I can't say enough good things about the Ultra. What's amazing is how your foot changes so quickly as you move to more minimalist footwear. I regularly run barefoot but even comparing the Ultra and the Nike XC, I can feel my toes slightly expand after 6 consecutive days running in the Ultra but it's also feels weird to try to run in the Nike XC's and that's only after 1 week. It verifies again and again the differences based on what's on your feet.
As has been the case in the past, my stride rate increased 4-6 strides per minute in the Ultra's compared to the Nike XC's. This is not only a stride rate increase but I have a slightly shorter stride length in the Ultra's compared to the Nike XC's.

I read an article that described 2 types of running: feeling and floating. Do you like to "feel" while you run or do you like to "float" while you run. It's an interesting perspective and I definitely prefer to feel than float. The "feel" approach is how my body best communicates, aligns, balances and positions itself.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday, May 21st . . . combined long runs with intervals . . .

95 min. long run with 50 min. warm-up, then iPod pace down workout starting with half marathon pace for a song, into easy pace for next song, then same alternating paces to 10k, 5k, then ending with 3k pace. Another great run in the Ultra's . . . still lovin' that shoe!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

More Runners World Pics

Some more pics (click to enlarge) from the Runner's World article the photographer (Embry) sent me:

Friday, May 20th . . . drills baby drills

After a 10 minute warm-up, I moved into a series of drills: lunges, skipping, jumping and bounding drills including 12 or so 100 meter strides at 10k pace. These drills are my secret sauce to running the 5k. This is where I work on hip extension, stride length and overall form and technique refinement. When all is said and done, it's all about the stride.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19th . . . continuing down the Ultra path . . .

Another 6 mile run in the Ultra's with a basic running sock (I took out the plug-in sock). It was rainy and cold and the Ultra performed great on hard surfaces and soft trails (it wasn't the greatest in mud but it wasn't designed for that). I'm still pretty blown again and I know Tuck, Gordo and others must be laughing at me but this is beyond my expectations.

For me, this is the most "non-intrusive" shoe I've run in. It is surpassing the KSO which was my all-time favorite but for me, the toe construction always caused me some problems but the Ultra is perfect.

I do want to clarify for others considering the Ultra, do not expect a traditional running experience. The Ultra is unlike any shoe I've ever run in. The construction and feel is unique. You look at it and think, "it's a croc-like sandal," but it is a legit running shoe which was unexpected. I still don't know about the durability but the construction of the sole provides an experience must closer to barefoot running that the Evo because the sole of the Evo isn't nearly as responsive and the weight of the Evo is significant as compared to the Ultra, or really light footwear like MWU3's and KSO's. When you run in the Ultra without the plug-in insole, it feels like air and you can forget anything is on your feet.

I will warn as with any light minimalist zero drop shoe, if you don't do a lot barefoot running or true minimalist running, be conservative in terms of the mileage and intensity because you will be working the Achilles, plantar and foot much more.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18th . . . Continuing the Ultra Experience . . .

I did another 6.5 mile easy run in the Ultra's on dirt roads and trails, without the plug-in sock, and it performed as well as the last couple days (that's 3 consecutive days running in the Ultra's and so far no issues to speak of). At this moment, the Ultra is on course to replace my all-time favorite minimalist shoe which is the KSO. The versatility of the plug-in sock provides options for warm and cold weather and the flexibility to vary the degree of ground feel.

I'm not sure if the 6mm is with or without the plug-in sock, but there's excellent ground feel without the sock and with the socks, it's still a true minimalist footwear experience (probably similar to comparing the Bikila to the KSO)

I'm curious as to the longevity but time will answer that.

At this point, I'm going to continue running in the Ultra's on a daily basis until or unless I have a reason to run in something else.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday, May 17th . . . the Terra Plana Ultra test . .

I decided to do a short 30 minute run this morning before my track session tonight. For the first time, I laced up the Terra Plana Ultra's and did my first run in them and it was wonderful. Terra continues to get closer and closer to the ultimate running shoe. The Ultra is freakishly light and even lighter than the MWU3 once you remove the plug-in sock liner. This was closest to barefoot I've run next to the KSO. I ran on hard surface and trails and it was enjoyable. I admit this was just a first run so I'll have many follow-up observations but they felt great and I threw in several race pace surges.

As is always the case, my stride slightly shortened as compared to my Nike XC racing shoes, and unlike racing shoes, the Ultra will immediately punish you for bad form and immediate feedback is most desirable as opposed to a shoe allowing for bad form over an extended period of time until the ugly injury monster appears. To test it, I put a little pressure on my heel while walking in the Ultra's and you would most definitely feel a heel strike, and it would hurt. This is exactly what I like because when you are in your natural state (barefoot), a heel strike hurts so why should that change in shoes? Shoes should not promote or enable bad form but that's exactly what 99.9% of running shoes allow.

So let's get down to the nitty gritty details.

Weight. The Ultra is unbelievably light weighing in at 3 oz. as there is no insole. The difference in weight between the Evo and Ultra is dramatic! I weighted my Ultra at 3 oz. vs. close to 10 oz. in the Evo (more than 3x) . . . again, the difference is dramatic and only the MWU3 comes close. I ran without the plug-in sock because it was pretty warm this morning but I could see using it in the winter with a warm sock if needed.

Upper (no blister world). What sets this apart from the Evo is the upper and lining as the Ultra is a simple EVO with neoprene sock lining and the Evo uses a nylon mesh with microfiber which is what I believe causes the blisters I can get in Evo's.. Even if the Ultra toes your toes, it too soft and flexible to cause any issues.

Sole. The Ultra provides 6mm of protection vs. the Evo at 4mm, however, I can't feel any difference in ground feel. The Ultra provides excellent ground feel.

Performance. There's a noticeable difference in energy return in the Ultra vs. the Evo and even the KSO. Due to the light weight and minimal sole, I had more energy coming from my feet and the uncoiling of my Achilles tendon and some of that energy return felt blocked in the Evo and obviously more is lost in traditional running shoes, and I attribute this to the weight of the Evo.

Fit. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get a tight/close fit but I was with the lock lacing system. I hope that continues but for this run, it was nice and locked in perfectly.

I will be taking the Ultra's for speed work tonight and I'll report back. I have to say I'm very impressed with the Ultra but again, I'll need to put more miles on them.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Manic Monday, May 16th . . . listen to the body . . .

As I woke this morning, my body tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I gave you my best for Saturday's 5k race and now I need the day off," so I took today off. It only took me several years to listen to my body and identify when I truly need rest and I need a rest day. My muscles are still sore and it's time to recover.

It's amazing how much a short 3.1 mile race can take out of you when you run all out. Only runners truly understand the intensity of the 5k when you are running for time and performance. You also have to understand the amount of muscle damage can be substantial from the 5k, especially for us masters' runners. I have my track workout tomorrow evening and I plan to attend but I'm not planning on doing any speed work, just some nice strides, or as I call it, a "on and off" workout with 200's at medium effort followed by 200's easy (anywhere from 12-20 sets).


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday, May 15th . . . post-race recovery run . . .

70 minute post-race recovery run with 10 min. barefoot warm-up. Yesterday's 5k took a lot out of me and my quads are still very sore. The day after a hard race is always a tough run for me. I use to take the day after a race off but I've learned that while it's hard to run the next day that a good easy run helps the healing process by generating more blood flow and working through muscle tightness.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

New 5K PR

Ok, it was a PR by only :02, but it's a PR. I finished a great 5k trail run (packed dirt trails) in 18:22 and finished 5th overall (900+ runners) . . . about a 5:55 pace. Considering this was on dirt, I'm very pleased as I probably would have run faster on the roads.

For the first time in a long time, I ran hard (I know because of the pain in my quads). There were a few tough moments but I prepared mentally before the race for some of the inevitable pain and suffering that comes with running hard. I'm happy where I am and I'm expecting to go sub 18:00 in the near future. From this point, improvement will be incremental. I have a lot of work ahead but that's the exciting part. It's amazing how big "seconds" are in a 5k when you truly hard hard . . . running :05 per mile faster is huge (and hard).

I ran in the Nike Air Zoom Streak XCs (my previous PR was in the Evo's on a flat road course).

I'm happy today and then back training tomorrow.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why do we do it?

Why are the East Africans so great?

Well, I'll expand it and ask, Why are the most of the greatest athletes in the most popular sports from humble poorer backgrounds? It's all about humble beginnings which build fire, desire, hunger, effort and fight:

How hungry are you? How willing are you go fight through the pain when that wall hits?

Tough questions for each of us to answer.


Wednesday, May 11th . . . easy recovery day . . .

After a 10 min. warm-up on the stationary bike, I did a nice easy 30 min. run to shake out my legs from yesterday evenings' track workout.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 10th . . . evening at the track . . .

I had a great track workout. After a 2 mile warm-up, I ran 3 miles alternating 300's at 4k pace and 100's at half marathon pace. My coach said something very interesting which falls in line with my new focus to find out how fast I can run. She essentially said that I was inefficient at slower paces and it's not until I get around marathon pace that my stride falls into place and I'm finding to be true. I don't run slow very well as when I dip below a 8:30 pace, I become inefficient and my form is less than ideal.


Stop the Excuses!!!

"Saying you don't have enough time is a bad reason to not run. There's always time to run"

Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday, May 9th . . . easy run, reflexion and decisions moving forward . . .

I had a nice 45 minute trail run today but it's about what happened to me yesterday. While I was reviewing the 5k course I will race on next week and doing a nice 30 minute tempo run, for whatever reason the great Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine jumped into my mind and specifically the quote where he says:

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

This kept ringing in my ear over and over, and it caused me to reflex back on my brief runner career (having started later in life) and what I want to do and accomplish with my running. Also, from somewhere deep down inside, my old basketball competitive juices started to stir. I forgot this feeling but I know it well. As a high school and collegiate basketball player, I was ultra competitive and I couldn't wait to get on the court and push as hard as I could. I haven't felt that way since I started running a little more than 3 yrs. ago as I got into running to improve my health and over that period of time I started to compete at a respective level in the masters' categories. I've finished in the top 10 in most of my 5k races, finished 2nd overall twice and won a 5k outright (I'm running in the low 18:00's). However, I still didn't bring the same competitive spirit or expectations I had in basketball over to running and it didn't matter to me as I was running for the sheer love of running.

This is why yesterday impacted me so much because for the first time I was asking myself, "how fast can you be?," "how fast can you run a 5k," "how fast could you run if you lay it all on the line," "what would happen if you ran all-out." In the past, I never broached these questions or topics because it wasn't that important to me and I was happy finishing in the top 5-10% as I've been doing in past races. But, yesterday, things changed and I have no idea why. I have no idea why Steve Prefontaine popped in my mind and I couldn't let the thought go and it forced me to do some deep analyzing of myself while I was running and that quote from him about "sacrificing the gift," hit me really hard. We only get one chance at this life thing and I had to ask myself, "am I settling when I can push harder?," and if so, "am I doing myself a disservice by not pushing harder."

As I continued to think about this during my run, I started to smile and when my run was over, I said to myself, "I'm ready to push into uncharted waters and find out what I'm made of." To do anything less, is to sacrifice the gift. Now, I truly understand what Steve Prefontaine meant. My mental approach is changing and I'm focusing on the 5k distance with laser focus and I'm making a long term commitment (I'm thinking in years, not weeks/months) to find out what I can do at the 5k distance. Given all the various distances I've run up to the marathon, the 5k is the perfect mix of my talents and it's my favorite distance, and I love training for that distance (I also like 10k's for training purposes to get me ready for 5k's.).

Then, today I read June's edition of "Running Times," and it has an article on masters' runners that are moving back from marathons to 5k/10k's and focusing to be highly competitive at that distance (I recommend you read it) . . . that was another signal in my mind. So, I'm changing my training approach with a lot of focus on my stride, pace and tempo running. On the stride side, I'm doing a lot of drills and in fact some days are specifically dedicated to drills (jumping, skipping, bounding, etc.), all focused on the key to running: the stride. As we get older, we tend to maintain a good turnover level but not our stride length and without both in optimal form, you can't perform your best, especially at the 5k distance (this is what separates Bekele from the rest of the world).

So, today going forward I've decided to make another push and make sure I do not sacrifice the gift but that I feed and nurture the gift and let it take me wherever that may be . . . the joy is in the ride, not the destination.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday, May 8th . . . easy run and course evaluation . . .

Nice easy 4 mile run over the same course I will be racing next week. It was great to cover the course as I located a few areas where I'll likely hold back and others where I'll probably surge. It's a big mental advantage to cover a race course beforehand. I'm feeling great.

I'm also having an interesting shod vs. unshod dialog with my minimalist barefoot friends. I asked a few questions.

First, I mentioned that all the current World records and recent Olympic gold medal times have been set by runners wearing shoes, and this is a simple fact although many of my friends are unable to acknowledge that. I asked if top elite runners could run the same times barefoot as they do in shoes. Second, do shoes provide any advantages to those runners, whether physical or mental.

I'm a big proponent of at least some level of barefoot walking or running but many of the same holes we poke in the shoe arguments can equally be applied to barefoot arguments. There's so much we don't know and there's too many factors to account for in running . . . no single study will ever account for every potential factor in the runner's performance.

With that said, the facts we have show the current fastest times were produced by runners wearing shoes and not barefoot. Sure, runners wear shoes for endorsement money but does one really think that an elite runner would disregard barefoot running if they could run faster barefoot? A runner would not sacrifice the opportunity to break a world record just to wear shoes as there's more endorsement money for the runner that sets a world record and/or wins an Olympic gold medal.

Unfortunately, there's probably only a handful of runners that could give us valuable insight. Runners like Haile G. or Tirunesh Dibaba who grew up barefoot, switched to shoes and set world records . . . they could tell us whether they could run the same times barefoot and/or if shoes provide them with any advantages.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday, May 7th . . . long run with surges

85 min. trail run with 7x400 meter surges at 5k pace. I feel great and I'm closer to the 5k shape I need to be in to make a run at the 17:30 - 17:45 5k time. I've decided to solely focus on the 5k and using 10k's for tempo training. After running all the various distances, I'm pretty confident my talent is pace and speed and specifically at the 5k distance.

I'm making this a 5 yr. commitment to slowly improve but ultimately find out how fast can I run the 5k . . .


Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday, May 6th . . . running with a smile . . .

Nice easy 50 min. trail run with a smile the entire way :). Everything seemed to click and I feel great. I feel physically and mentally on track to make a run at the sub 18:00 5k (I'm a few seconds off). I think I need 2-3 more tune up races, then who knows.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday, May 5th . . . technique drills

65 minutes of technique drills (skipping, bounding and marching) and short hill sprints (40-60 meters up steep hills). Key workout for stride efficiency. Interesting thing to note . . . for masters' runners, you maintain stride rate into your 80's but you lose 40% of your stride length as you get older unless you do these type of drills to combat it.

Otherwise, you become a shuffler and while we have elite shuffle runners, they rarely are able to beat runners with smooth longer strides like Bekele and most of the great East African runners. Stride efficiency is a result of a stride rate and stridge length and if you don't concentrate on both, you can't run efficiency and you increase the likelihood of injury.

As Pete Magill says (he ran sub 15:00 5k at age 47), a "smooth long stride is an essential ingredient of a fast 5k" . . . and these drills help you achieve that without over-striding.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Runners Who Inspire

Wednesday, May 4th . . . recovery shake-outs

2 race pace workouts in 72 hours have left my legs pretty wore so that means it's recovery time. I'm not a big fan of taking the day off when I'm sore as I want to move to increase blood flow and kick start the healing process.

So, my favorite recovery workout is on a football or soccer field. This morning I found a soccer field and did 20x100 meter easy strides diagonally across the field, then walk to the other corner. I can it the zig zag.

I wore the Nike XC's which I haven't worn in weeks as I've been exclusively running in Evo's but it was a nice change of pace but I'll be back in the Evo's tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday, May 3rd . . . night at the track . . .

I harder session at the track tonight. 2 x 1 mile @ 6:05 and 6:00, into 800 meters @ 5:50. My calves are quite sore, especially since I raced on Sunday. I usually keep a 48 hr. buffer between hard sessions but I broke that rule this time, but I'll likely be a sore puppy tomorrow morning. I'm slowly working my way back to peak 5k form.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Sitting is a killer, even if you workout

I've been a bit lazy with my stand-up desk but I'm going to start using it again.


Monday, May 2nd . . . post race recovery . . .

I woke up a lot more sore than I anticipated so I ran very very slowly as part of my post race recovery. A very easy 45 minutes with 8 minutes of barefoot warm-up. The only goal of this workout is to increase blood flow to support the healing process.

Post-race recovery is critical but even more important for masters' runners as you really need to listen to your body and when in doubt, play in conservatively as you get older. Now allowing the body to repair itself especially after races often results in injury. It's always better to play in safe and even take a day off to avoid the injury. It's always better to miss one day and come back strong as opposed to getting injured and spending months trying to recover and as you get older, it takes longer and longer to recover from injury.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday, May 1st . . . Race Day . . .

I had a great 5k race this morning. My first of the year so my strategy was to be conservative, so I ran the first 2 miles at 10k pace and the last 1,200 meters at 5k pace. Finished in 19:06 . . . top 20 of 3,000 runners (they actually had an elite field that took off 30 seconds before us mere mortals). It was a bit frustrating in that I couldn't break from the pack for over .5 miles as there were way too many runners for my taste. I even bumped into a few of them.

I ran sockless in the Evo's and loved it. My stride felt great and I had so much control over my body. I could easily shorten my stride for uphill and open up on the flat and downhill. I lose degrees of control in cushioned shoes. The difference in my proprioception is dramatic when running barefoot or in true minimalist shoes vs. traditional shoes (even racing flats like my Nike XCs).


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