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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 30th . . . easy to medium effort

60 min. run, starting easy and ending with a medium effort.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 29th . . . recovery time

After yesterday's double session which included evening speed work which I did all barefoot, today was a classic recovery day. Just 35 minutes of nice easy running making sure I keep a nice clean and crisp stride. I ran in the Luna's and, of course, they rock!!!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 29th . . . double session day

Morning: 45 min. easy run in Luna sandals.

Evening: All barefoot track speed work. 14x300, with 300's at 4k pace, 100's at 6k pace.

Oh yea, I feel great!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday, June 27th . . . pre-race recovery run

55 min. easy post-race recovery run. My body feels amazingly good as I turn my attention to selling all my running shoes (about 1 dozen pair brand new in the box, untouched). I won't run in regular shoes again as there is no need after I've proven I can run race pace in the Luna sandals and I feel better post-race than I've ever felt.

The body is an amazing device and I'm absolutely convinced that shoes play a critical role in the continued high injury rates of runners. Traditional shoes are designed to fight the natural mechanics and functioning of the human body. How else can you explain an elevated heel and tight toe box. With the natural foot, the toes splay at landing which are constricted by a tight toe box. Balance and stability is at the core of running so we do we run in high heels, that is, shoes with elevated heels . . . last I checked my feet, I don't have an elevated heel.

But very few people will listen. We live in a society where we believe whatever we read or hear without doing our own research . . . it's why politicians are so damn effective but shame on us for lacking the desire and discipline to do our own due diligence. We'll continue to believe that running is hard on the body which is a complete lie . . . we were designed to run but we make what is so natural, oh so difficult.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

5k - 2nd place overall

I had one last hurdle to pass with the Luna's. I've run, trained and completed trial races in the Luna's and they simply rock, however, I had to run an actual race in them before I could call them the best footwear I've ever run in, so this morning I ran in a local 5k and finished 2nd overall.

This was, without question, the most difficult 5k course I've run. It was a loop course at elevation and quite hilly (4x800 meter hills). The first loop was on asphalt and the 2nd loop was on dirt. I was in first place for the first 800 meters then a runner who I immediately knew was a collegiate runner passed me and I decided at that point to tuck in behind him and I held the 2nd slot for the remainder of the race. It was clear at the 2 mile mark that I was not going to be able to catch him but I found out he was a former collegiate runner (miler and 800 meter specialist) so I felt good and I beat several other former collegiate runners.

I finished in 19:25 which is far off my PR but this was my best 5k race I've ever run considering the difficulty of the course. The 1st place winner could only muster a 19:01. The 1st place winner told me it was one of the harder 5k courses he has run.

Well, going forward I'm a Luna runner, plain and simple!!! Here's the great part . . . this is the best I've ever felt after a 5k race. I passed the finish line and I had absolutely no pain not even soreness. I took off my Luna's after the race and walked around barefoot until the medal ceremony. . . . I won a bunch of awesome coffee and a $500 gift certificate. All the entry fee money and donations went to support the Kibera Girls Soccery Academy located in Kibera, East Africa's largest slum.

The looks I had from folks looking at my Luna sandals was beyond classic. Before the race started, several folks looked at me like I was an idiot and that just fueled my fire :). One lady said, "really?" and another guy just shook his head . . . by the way I found that guy after the race and said "good race," with a major smile on my face and he just turned around in shame!!! I don't feel good about the encounter but no one should judge another runner and that pissed me off. On the good side, the 4th place finisher was running in Vibram's (very cool dude).

The control I had with the Luna's was unbelievable and the closest I've ever been to barefoot. Last hurdle crossed and now I'm a Luna runner . . . thanks BFT.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Ponder this . . .

Worth a listen:

Wed. thru Friday . . . I now get "toe splay"

I'm a bit behind in my posts but I have a fun remainder of the week running including running with a few friends and a good hard tempo run, all in the Luna sandals. What has really struck me in the "toe splay" issue, that is, when you run barefoot, when you land your toes will expand so the question is can you toes fully expand at impact in traditional running shoes. I've come to the conclusion that the answer is "no." Only in sandal-like designed footwear can the toes fully expand because there's nothing on the top to interfere with the natural functioning of the foot.

The majority of running shoes have a narrow toe box so that restricts the foot, and even footwear with wider toe boxes, the top will compress at landing and push off even if it doesn't hurt with a soft mesh top. I'm not a proponent of barefoot running because you are barefoot but I'm a big fan of running in your natural state of which barefoot is the baseline. Every deviation from that baseline should be studied.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, June 21st . . . easy evening run . . .

55 min. easy evening trail run. Looking forward to running with a few friends tomorrow evening. Still rockin' the Luna's.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday, June 20th . . . recovery time

Nice easy 30 min. recovery run, including 5 min. barefoot warm-up. It's amazing what a 30 min. run can do for you when you are beat up. It dramatically increases the recovery process.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday, June 19th . . . doubled up . . .

60 min. easy trail run in the evening after my morning run. Sometimes you need to double-up.


Sunday, June 19th . . . just a good run . . .

60 min. medium effort trail run in the Luna's . . . not much more to report today . . .


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday, June 18th . . . drillin' barefoot

65 min. of barefoot drills (strides, lunges, bounding, etc.).


Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, June 17th . . . race day pushed back 1 week

50 min. easy trail run in the Luna's. I switched the leather laces for the braided hemp laces and I prefer the hemp laces, even over the Equus laces. At race pace, I have a bit more security with the hemp laces.

I was all psyched to run my first 5k in the Luna's this Saturday, however, I drove over to check out the course at lunch today and after reviewing the course, there's no way I'm running that race.

Half the course is on a narrow concrete sidewalk along busy streets looking at cookie cutter houses. I have several issues with that. First, I try my best to avoid running on concrete (I can deal with asphalt but not concrete). Second, sidewalks are way too narrow for a race course as it's not fun trying to pass runners on a narrow sidewalk and there wasn't much room to jump to the side as the sidewalk was next to a busy street. Lastly, running along-side suburbia is not my idea of inspiring as the scenery sucked and that's a big time negative. Well, that's the bad news.

The good news is the following week there's a 5k ("Kick it for Kenya") that is a benefit event to support the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy in Kibera which is a neighborhood in Nairobi and is the largest sum in Nairobi and the 2nd largest slum in Africa. Can you say "fate" and meant to be. So now I have a major smile on my face because this was meant to be. What a great cause to support and the perfect race to debut in Luna's (I'd go barefoot if I could but I know this course and I would have to slow down big time to run it barefoot).


Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is my plan . . .

If you run every day until you're 90 years old, I guarantee that you'll live a long life - Bill Rodgers'

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is there a threshold turning point?

I've been running in Luna sandals (and barefoot) exclusively for over 1 week and I'm feeling great. The Luna sandals are the least restrictive of any shoe I've run in (of course nothing equals the barefoot experience). I've put the Luna's to the test including yesterday's hard track session (this was after a morning 40 min. easy run as I doubles on Tuesday) of 4 sets of 400x300x200 at paces in the low 5:00's.

I usually gauge the workout by how sore my feet are the next day, including paying close attention to my plantar and Achilles. The next day I felt great and in fact I did a short 30 min. recovery run this morning and that's as good as I've felt for my Wednesday morning recovery run, which is usually a tough run having completed a double on Tuesday.

What I've noticed by increasing my barefoot and Luna running, which is consistent with what I experienced in the past when I've gone 100% barefoot, is that's it coming more difficult to wear traditional running shoes and even racing shoes. My toes are starting to expand and widen as they did when I ran exclusively barefoot. Additionally, anything other than the most minimalist amount of cushion negatively impacts my sensory feedback system and I lose the level of control I have while barefoot or in Luna's (I would add the Ultra to the mix but I'll give a slight advantage to the Luna which I'll explain).

The Luna is allowing my feet to move much closer to how they would move while barefoot with no toe box or restriction around the ankle to allow free movement of all the muscles and tendons in my foot and ankle. This is why I give the Luna a slight advantage over the Ultra because while they both have about 6mm of sole, the Luna provides a firmer sole which is more consistent with the actual ground but, more importantly, the freedom of the toes and ankles gives it the slight advantage.

With that said, I'm wondering if there's a point where after so much barefoot and barefoot-like running, do you pass a threshold where you feet start to return to their natural state thus making 99% of current market footwear uncomfortable? We know current shoes are "not" designed with the natural functioning of the foot in mind otherwise we wouldn't have narrow toe boxes and elevated heels, and that's the obvious.

If the concept of shoes is to protect the foot from the elements, such as the terrain and/or weather, then putting cushion to the side as perhaps cushion is fine or at least not the primary focus point, but how do you explain restricting the toes with narrow toe boxes and elevating the heel above the base of the foot? I suspect I've reached a point where both of those features are untenable.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday, June 13th . . . day off and quote . . .

I can't imagine living and not running - Paula Radcliffe

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday, June 12th . . . go long Luna . . .

12.5 mile hilly long run in the hot weather (85F+). This was my longest run in the Luna's and they felt great and I feel great. This is my next to last test for the Luna's. The only thing remaining is for me to test the Luna's in a real race so I'll sign up for a 5k and give them a try. The freedom my foot has in the Luna's is second to none.

I'm still blown away by how efficient I run in the Luna's.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday, June 11th . . . luna-tic . . .

65 min. run in the Luna's including 6 min. barefoot warm-up. For the last 1/3rd of the run, I progressively increased my pace down to 10k pace which means I've done back-to-back days of race pace running days so I'll be very cautious tomorrow. I'm just lovin' the Luna's and they are so easy to run in.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday, June 10th . . . Am I turning into a Luna? . . .

I definitely feel like I won the lottery this month. First, I get the Ultra and it ascends to the top of my running list, even surpassing the KSO. Then, for reasons I can't explain, I decide to start running in the Luna's and have done so practically this entire week. Today's experience was mind blowing. As I warmed up, my body felt great and told me it was race pace day so I started to increase my pace progressively over the first 30 minutes down to sub 6:00 and then decided to hold that pace for 15 minutes and it was the easiest sub 6:00 running I've ever done (about a 5:52 average, and I could have easily knocked off another :15 sec. per mile).

The amount of body control I had in the Luna's was second to none. The Ultra is close but the Luna provides a better barefoot like experience. My turnover was high but very easy but the biggest difference with the Luna vs. Ultra, Evo, KSO, Nike XC, MWU3, or any other footwear I've worn to date was 2 things. First, the Luna allowed me to run so compact and close to the ground, I was able to reduce vertical oscillation which allows for more efficient running. Second, practically every foot strike was my natural forefoot strike and not a mid-foot strike.

I keep very simple notes of my running and have done so over the past 4 yrs. Prior to day, I've had 3 of what I call unbelievable runs in that my form and technique was as perfect as I can imagine and the footwear on my feet was ideal. The first was the KSO, which then got topped by the Evo, which ultimately was topped by the Ultra. Today, the Luna topped all 3.

I'm almost speechless, and since I know how fast Patrick Sweeney runs in Luna's, I know I race in them!!! I have no idea how I got here, that is, to this point in life. I'm running in friggin' sandals . . . I would have laughed at anyone that told me even a year ago that I would run race pace in sandals . . . I couldn't ask for a more interesting, fun and life changing journey than what running has afforded me.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday, June 9th . . . Is that a Luna moon I see? . . .

What is happening to me? I'm training and running in Luna sandals and I'm lovin' them. I am now considering actually racing in them. Pretty amazing how much control over my body and stride I have with the Luna's. I'm still a huge fan of the Ultra's and ultimately they are two completely different types of running shoes so I'm fortunate to have both of them. There's more of a barefoot-like experience and feel in the Luna's but the Ultra's provide more options in terms of sockless, with socks, with sockliner, etc.

I did a 45 min. medium effort fartlex run in the Luna's then I ended with 6 min. of barefoot running.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kickin' it with Luna's and Ultra's

I'm coming up on 1 month since I decided to cease any running in racing shoes or any running shoe that isn't a true minimalist running shoe (rocky mountain trails excluded). I've been running exclusively in Luna's and Ultra's (and barefoot) and there's no going back now as the last and final changes in my form have occurred and I've reverted back to my true barefoot form which I experienced twice before when I went 100% barefoot for 3 months, averaging 40 miles per week of barefoot running.

I have to say the Luna's are awesome and I look forward to increasing my miles in the Luna's and ultimately racing in them. As with the VFFs, of course, I'm back to having people look at me in shock or amazement to run in Luna sandals and I've already had a few folks disrupt my run to ask about the sandals I'm running in but, all in all, it's all good and I'm happy to stop and talk to folks about running. My attitude has changed since I kicked all watches/Garmin's to the curb as I now "run by feel" so I'm not concerned with specific times and splits as I know when I'm running hard, medium or easy, and know I don't mind stopping mid-run for a conversation (that's how it should be and shame on me for running selfishly all those years . . . running should be about sharing). I also know my race paces by feel so I don't need any technology.

While the Ultra and Luna both have about 6mm of sole, they feel quite different when running. The Luna is a firmer sole while the Ultra is softer with a bit more of cushion feel than the Luna. As for barefoot-like experience, I give the Luna a slight edge as the foot strike is a bit more similar to the barefoot feel but I'm thrilled to have both in my rotation. Due to the construction of the Luna, I'm closer to the ground vs. the Ultra and I know that due to the additional work on my calves and Achilles but I've had no issues with pain or injury and I get a great workout in the Luna's. I look forward to increasing my Luna miles and ultimately racing in the Luna's.

The single biggest thing I've noticed yet again is my switch back to my natural forefoot strike vs. mid-foot strike. In running shoes (Nike XC's, Nike Katana's, Inov-8 F-Lite 195's, etc.) and some minimalist shoes (Evo's, Neo's, etc.), I tend to mid-foot strike but when I run barefoot or in minimal footwear like Luna's and Ultra's, I forefoot strike. I can't connect any performance or injury differences between the forefoot vs. mid-foot strike except to say that if I forefoot strike while barefoot, then any shoe that alters my strike to mid-foot is un-naturally altering my gait. That alone is compelling to me.


Wednesday, June 8th . . . Luna Day

Nice easy 35 min. recovery run after yesterday's track session. I ran in the Luna's (from Barefoot Ted) and they are great. I'm starting to add the Luna's to my rotation as I start to remove any non-true minimalist footwear from my running program.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday, June 7th . . . track intervals

8x200, 4x400, 8x200 in very hot weather. Ran near 5k race pace but was a bit careful considering how hot it was. The Ultra's held up great.


Tuesday, June 7th . . . pre-track warm-up

A nice easy 35 min. trail run before my track session tonight. I'm debating what to wear tonight . . . either my Ultra's or Luna sandals. It's really hot and the Luna sandals (designed by Barefoot Ted) may be perfect. I've run in the Luna's before but not much speed work so this could be interesting. I packed both my Luna's and Ultra's . . . it will be game time decision.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday, June 5th . . . medium effort tempo run

15 min. warm-up, including 5 min. barefoot warm-up, into a 45 min. tempo run at sub 6:30 pace (10k effort pace), on roads and trails. I'm still rockin' the Ultra's sockless and lovin' them. I have such control of my body when I'm barefoot or near barefoot. A high level of sensory feedback is the absolute key to my running, hence why it's a challenge for my run in any traditional running shoes.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday, June 4th . . . tempo time . . .

50 min. fartlek warm-up ending with 1.5 miles at 5:47 pace.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Terra Plana Ultra - 100+ mile report

Terra Plana Ultra – 100+ mile impressions . . .

The first time I picked up a pair of Ultra’s, I thought they were pretty slick but I imagined more of a walking shoe than a running shoe but to my unexpected delight, they are incredible running shoes.

After 2+ weeks and 100+ miles on the Ultra, it’s the “best” running shoe I’ve ever run in as of June 2, 2011. It’s that plain and simple. I’ve done every type workout including easy, tempo and intervals at and below race pace, including roads, and trails and all I can say is the Ultra is awesome. What I’m really pleased about is that Terra Plana addressed the issues I’ve had with the Evo in the design of the Ultra. While I think the Evo is an excellent running shoe, I’ve had blister issues and the weight has been a factor to the point that the weight has impacted by gait, however I’m delighted to say, all that is water under the bridge with the Ultra.

Design & Performance of the Ultra running shoe

At first glance, you look at the Ultra and say “it’s a croc-like shoe,” and that’s a fair initial assessment, however, that’s the only similarity. The Ultra is designed for running and even more so that I ever imagined. As for the design particulars, it has an EVA upper with a removable plug-in sock lining, and it also has a removable plug-in mesh tongue. It utilizes a lock-lacing system and it is very easy to secure a customized fit. With that in mind, please note that for purposes of this review, you can assume I’m reviewing this based on running “without” the sock lining due to how much ground feel I desire (further explanation below), however, I do utilize the plug-in mesh tongue.

Sole. The sole is an EVA dual density product. The overall sole is 6mm which puts it down the middle fairway in terms of the amount of cushion under the foot compared to other minimalist footwear. It’s not clear whether the 6mm is with or without the sock lining but I’m pretty sure it includes the sock lining as only us hard core barefoot/minimalist runners remove insoles. Off the bat, I noticed a major difference in ground feel with or without the sock lining and I elected to run without the sock lining because the sock lining is a bit restrictive for me as it is very form fitting similar to a compression sock (just too tight especially around my toes) and with the Kevlar lining that’s in the sock lining, I just lose too much ground feel. To give you some comparisons, the KSO is 5.5mm, Speed 6.0mm, Bikila 7.0mm, Evo 3mm (6mm with the insole), and the Trek is 8.0mm. However, due to the use of the amphibious EVA sole, the ground feel (without the sock lining) is very similar to the KSO so I give it an “A” for ground feel.

Weight. The Ultra joins a very select and short list of shoes that weigh under 4 oz. (the Evo, for example, is my heaviest running shoe coming in around 10 oz. for a Men’s 44 (US 11), which is more than 3x the weight of the MWU3 and 2x the weight of the Nike Air Zoom Streak XC (Nike XC) which I consider a solid racing shoe for some folks)). The Ultra is so light I literally forget there’s something on my feet at times. It’s just freakishly light, as is the MWU3, however, unlike the MWU3, it’s a true minimalist zero drop shoe.

The Ultra Fit

The Ultra has a wide toe box which is wider than the Evo. Again, this is without the sock lining. My toes had enough room to move, breathe and grip as needed. The Ultra is very flexible as you can bend and flex the Ultra any way you desire.


This is the big question. How long will a shoe designed like the Ultra last? Before I ask that, I look at price and durability together. So, for $90 I conservatively expect the Ultra to last as long as the MWU3 or Nike XC. On the low end, I will be disappointed if I can’t get at least 300 miles on the Ultra and closer to 500 miles will make me one happy camper. After 100 miles, I can clearly see my foot strike pattern and I can see wear and tear around the ball of foot area, however, that alone doesn’t concern me but the issue is whether the EVA sole with hold and for how long.

Only time will tell so look for future reports from me on this key issue but I’m happy that Terra Plana reasonably priced this shoe compared to the $160 Evo which creates sticker shock for many.

High Arch Issue.

This is a specific note for us high arch folks. After 3+ yrs. of barefoot and minimalist running, my high arches have dropped a bit but I still have a defined arch. I raise this because I’ve had issues running in Vibram’s due to my higher arches. I have very sensitive arches and anything that touches, pokes or interferes with my arch is problematic in the long run for me. The Ultra (as with a shoe like the Luna sandal from Barefoot Ted) is perfect for a high arch folks like mine because it allows my arch to function without interference. I can run in Vibram’s but not consistently otherwise I tend to have arch pain which ultimately can turn into plantar fasciitis as the Vibram’s have this unique plastic section in the arch area of the sole (evident in the Speed’s and Bikila’s) and it can cause me issues.

Ultra Summary

Next to barefoot running, the Ultra is the best footwear I’ve ever placed on my feet. As of 6/2/11, it’s the best footwear I’ve run in and it is on track to surpass my all time favorite KSO, and in fact, I’ve already purchased a 2nd pair.

Kudo’s to Terra Plana

I give a lot of credit to Terra Plana and especially their head designer Asher Clark. Terra Plana is truly committed to producing healthy footwear. This is evident by the investment they’ve made is research and data about how the body functions and moves and it is evident in their shoe design. They aren’t perfect but no shoe company is but they continue to tweak, re-design, modify and create footwear that not only enables the body to move naturally but, more importantly, doesn’t interfere with natural body movement and specifically running form and technique.


Thursday, Jan. 2nd . . . Ultra time

55 min. trail run in the Ultra's. Awesome as usual. I'll provide a review on the Ultra's in a few minutes.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wednesday, June 1st . . . KSO but more to come . . .

55 min. trail run in my KSO's, however, I received my Speed's today as well as a pair of Bikila's. I can't wait to take the bad boys out for a run. I'm picturing a pure Terra Plana and Vibram shoe rotation (Ultra, KSO, Bikila and Speeds).

I'm committed 100% to the barefoot/minimalist thing going forward. While I can run in racing shoes just fine, it does change my natural forefoot landing to a mid-foot strike. I can't make any connection in that to injury or performance criteria but the fact that it changes my natural gait is compelling enough data for me.


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