Friday, 31 August 2012

Action Plan

After a week off with my sore heel, I decided to put a more consistent plan into action.

This involves sticking at a comfortable distance for a few weeks without any pain or injury before upping the distance by approximately a quarter of a mile and repeating the process.  This was always sort of in the back of my head, but I was not really keeping track of my progress and tempering the distance increases perhaps as much as I should.  I was reminded of this process after reading the "Lose the Shoes" plan on

So, here's the progress so far:
25/8/12:  0.5 miles - 7 mins 2 seconds
26/8/12:  0.52 miles - 7 mins 7 seconds
27/8/12:  0.53 miles - 7 mins 0 seconds
29/8/12:  0.5 miles - 6 mins 32 seconds (on account of having to run away from lots of people I knew!)
31/8/12:  0.61 miles - 8 mins 21 seconds

I'll now stick with the 0.6 mile distance for two weeks (and here's the reminder to myself) ie mid September.

The last run on the list (today's) was a fantastic run.  It's a beautiful, cool but sunny morning and my feet felt really good and strong.  I could have easily been tempted to do more!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Pause for thought

I've had to be sensible and take a few days off.  Things were going really well: I've braved the main road, and for two consecutive days I ran a mile completely barefoot.

However, I'd developed a small bruise-like pain on my right heel - outside or lateral edge, underneath my ankle bone. When I was running on the second day (a 2.5 mile run, first 1.5 in Vibrams, last mile barefoot) I could feel pain developing quite rapidly in this area. It scared me a bit because it reminded me of the pain I got when I had my stress fracture. I slowed for the last 400 metres or so, and iced the area on my return.

I little later I could see a small amount of swelling in the area. I did a bit of research and found an excellent website for pinpointing foot pain. It is either posterior heel pain (though this seems to present much more at the very back of the heel), or more worrying - a developing stress feature of the calcaneal.  Another classic symptom of this is that that there is pain in this area when the achilles is 'pinched' on both sides simultaneously - something that I can definitely confirm.

That was the 17th August.  I've been good and rested my foot now for a few days, and whilst there is still a little pain, it's much improved.  Symptoms now are only noticeable when I walk - on flexing the ankle to lift the foot up at the end of each stride - or if I squeeze the area.  I'm not limping.

So another little set back.  I think, as runners we accept that our running life is never straightforward - except for the lucky few.  Have I been put off running barefoot?  Certainly not.  In fact, as I drove down a local road the other day, I commented to my daughter that it looked like it would be a great road to run down barefoot, because it was a little bit rough and gritty, and I thought it would feel nice on my soles.  It's frustrating to wait, but I know it'll be worth it.

I thought it was important to make this post, because I'm guilty of raving about how great barefooting is, but (for me at least) it's not a quick route to faster and longer runs.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

I braved the main road

Very brave today (and to be honest, I've annoyed myself with my fear of public barefoot running).  I ran to the end of our estate, and then along the main road.  This is significant progress, as so far, I've only run around the houses on our estate, or along a very quiet country lane.  I didn't take any shoes (even though I felt they'd be added security and I could put them on if I felt too conspicious).

I've checked with all my family that they aren't embarrassed (a bit tongue in cheek on my part - I'd probably do it anyway, but it's lovely to have their support).  My friends just think I'm a bit wacky.  I don't suppose it really matters what anyone else thinks.

My feet felt fantastic, the ground felt lovely, and when I got back there was not one single ache or blister.  This is the way forward I think.  0.88 miles and rising.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Back from our hols

I've had over two weeks off running because I've been living it up in Florida.  Plenty of walking in flip flops or bare feet (in the water parks), and a couple of days in VFF Classics, so my feet felt like they'd had a great workout every day and I was confident that they'd feel strong on my first run back.

I ran just under two miles in my Classics - pretty slowly as I had my son in tow, but as expected, my feet felt great.  None of the twinges of my stress fracture were present, and I loved my final 0.3 miles in bare feet at the end.  Great to be running again.

The following day I did a four mile run in my trainers.  This certainly felt like hard work - whether because of the break from running, or because I've only been wearing very light shoes for two weeks, or because I'd had a short run the day before, I cannot say.  The following day, my thighs and calves were all very achey, and I really noticed the hip pain which I suffer from, which I've not had for the two weeks off running, nor had it returned on my VFFs run.

Today I've been for a two mile run in Classics, followed by 0.3 miles barefoot.  Much nicer than trainers, and I averaged around 9.40 min miles which is by far the fastest I've gone in minimalist footwear.

I'm thinking of signing up for the September 10k, and wonder whether I should go for a fast time (52 mins or so) in trainers, or whether to just go for any time, but in my Classics....  Decisions, decisions...

I Spy FiveFingers

I haven't posted for a few weeks because I've been on holiday, enjoying some sun and heat and the hustle and bustle of Florida's many theme parks.

Whilst I was away, I spent a lot of time in very busy places, sometimes in queues (for those hairy scary rides), sometimes in cafes or restaurants, or just cooling down with an ice cold drink.  I used the opportunity to entertain myself with a few games of "I Spy Vibram FiveFingers".  Surprisingly, I didn't see that many - of all the tens of thousands of people I must have seen, I would say I only spotted a dozen or so people in VFFs.  I also noticed a slightly greater number of people wearing Fila toe shoes - with one split for the big toe and a separate pocket for the remaining four.  Interestingly, a Google search for Fila Toe Shoes reveals that Fila actually make five toed shoes also - very similar to VFFs but at a much reduced price - something for me to research at a later date.

But I digress...  by far the most popular footwear at the theme parks were trainers (not surprisingly) and the rather strange (at least to me) practice of flip flops and woolly black socks. I think this is an American trait, and may be perfectly normal to some, but in 36 degrees and blazing sun, I can't think of anything worse than woolly socks.

I did dare to wear my Classics on two days in the parks - once at Universal's Islands of Adventures, where we spotted a couple of girls curiously pointing to my feet and whispering whilst queueing for the new Harry Potter ride, and on another day when we went on an Airboat ride (very practical for that) followed by a wander around Downtown Disney, where a lad said "I like your shoes, Mom" as he passed me on some stairs.

I had thought that not running for a couple of weeks would cause the skin on my soles to soften a little, but I need not have worried... a number of days in water parks where we wore nothing on our feet all day, and only wearing a pair of Birkenstocks (or my Classics) the rest of the time meant my feet had an excellent workout (and we must have walked miles each day) and were raring to go on my return to the UK.