Monday, 29 October 2012


Over the past few months I've been working hard to build my form, improve my muscles and bone density, and generally develop my barefoot and minimalist running skills.  But as is the peril of many runners across the globe, there's always that need to do a little bit more - to improve on what's already there.

So now I want to start improving my speed.  I suppose I feel that if I don't push this aspect, I'll never improve my distance or my overall stamina, because I'm a great believer in the notion that if I'm concentrating on one particular element of my running, a lot of other elements improve without me noticing.  So far, I've concentrated on technique and I'm hoping that if I now concentrate on speed, the technique stuff will just fall into place without me thinking about it.

Today I went out - just for a short 2 miles as time was limited - and did some Fartlek work - running slowly followed by bursts of speed.  I wore my Garmin, and hit the lap button at every changeover, but I didn't set a goal pace, I just ran hard for 150 - 250 metres, then ran slow until I'd got my breath back for the next burst.

When I first took up running (shod), I followed pretty much the same pattern. Once I felt I'd got to grips with getting out the house and running for 3 miles or so without dying, I started to build in a variety of sessions - Fartleks, hill work, speed work and tempo runs.  It was only at that point that my running really improved.  Switching to barefoot and minimalist running took me back to those early running days, and now I've grasped the basics, I feel the need to do a bit more.

How did I get on?  Overall, I hit an average pace of 8.56 minute miles.  This is great because it means I should be able to hit my previous shod distance PBs with a bit of training.  In the short speedier bursts I managed to hit speeds of 8.05 minute miles - 8.30 minute miles.  Granted, these were really short distances, but the fact that my legs will move this quickly is great - it's something I've wondered about as my cadence has increased dramatically and I wasn't sure I'd be able to move my legs fast enough to get the speed.

What I need to do now is increase the speedy sections to up to 0.5 miles, so I think perhaps it's time to plug some training plans into my Garmin and push myself properly.  Doing this completely barefoot will need to wait until warmer days, I think winter training will be minimalist, with barefoot easy runs thrown in for good measure, and barefoot training will be a Spring challenge.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A lot going on

Vibram TrekSports
Well I've certainly made up for a poor start to the running week.  On Friday I went for my longest run for ages, wearing my Vibram TrekSports.  I did around 4 miles in them and they felt amazingly comfortable. I haven't worn these since February, and what I really noticed was that the soles are way thicker than my Classics.  I added 0.3 miles in bare feet at the end for good measure.  I think I'll be wearing these quite a lot in the colder weather.

Yesterday (Saturday) I dropped my son at his gymnastics class and got chatting to a fellow runner.  I told him I've been running almost exclusively barefoot or minimalist for some time, and he made my day by asking "Doesn't it hurt?" and "What if you step on dog poo?".  No-one has blatantly asked me these classic questions yet, so it made me chuckle.  When I got home, I tried my new Vivobarefoot Evo's for 0.8 miles, which I found really comfortable - just a slight bit of rubbing on the left big toe, but I think these will make a great substitute when barefoot's not an option, or for days when I'm keen to keep a low profile and look 'normal'!

Vivobarefoot Evos
Shortly after I had taken off my Evos off to run the last half mile barefoot, I was stopped by a passing driver who wanted directions.  I wondered if he wished he hadn't stopped me when he spotted my bare feet and shoes in hand, but to his credit he did not flinch or waver from his train of thought once.  To my own credit, I also did not flinch or look embarrased, but gave him clear directions to his destination and padded off.

Today (Sunday) I've run just over a mile without any footwear.  The weather is getting colder, and I thought it would be interesting to see how my feet fared on the cold pavement.  Air temperature just under 8 degrees Celcius, and the pavements were noticeably warmer on the sunny side of the road, but my feet coped admirably and have suffered no ill effects.  I did notice that the ground seemed more gravelly and ouchy today - I'm not sure if that was the cold or the fact that we've had lots of rain...

My OH graciously agreed to accompany me on this run, forfeiting his own pace to match my slower one, and I was very grateful for his company when a bus pulled up and offloaded it's passengers just as we ran past.  Pity there weren't any trees to hug I guess!