Friday, 24 May 2013

Longest run to date

Today I've run 10.35 miles :)

I couldn't decide what footwear to put on before this planned long run.  Options were Vibram Classics - so far the footwear that's seen my longest run of 7 miles or so; Vivobarefoot - I didn't fancy these for a long run, because they are ever so slightly too short on the toe (my fault for being a cheapskate and buying the only remaining size in an Amazon special); or Merrel Pace Glove - super comfy when I tried them out the other day, but I've only done 2 miles in them, and the last thing I wanted was to have to cut the run short over a blister.

The other option of course was regular trainers, and I admit I was tempted with these from a safety point of view - I know I can run 13 miles in trainers, because I've done it before.  I reminded myself that my goal is to run the 10k and possibly half marathon in minimalist footwear though, and that trainers don't guarantee blister-free running (I've got the photos to prove it), so I finally plumped for the Classics.

When I ran 3.5 miles on Wednesday I had a bit of Top of Foot Pain (TOFP), and I was concerned that this might be an issue for a long run.  However, I recall Barefoot Ken saying that pain can help you refine your form, so I decided to view any pain as being welcome, so long as I could then adjust my form to prevent the pain.  Before I set off I did some Asian Squats - something I've been trying to do once a day to built foot strength and stretch my achilles / calves etc.  I also did some tiptoe exercises - I could feel the TOFP when I stood on tiptoe, so I adjusted the angle of my foot slightly and this avoided the pain.

Once running, I adopted the same foot angle as when I had practiced standing on tiptoe before setting off.  I tend to run very straight footed (if not actually turning my toes in towards each other just a little). This seems to put extra pressure on my 2nd and 3rd metatarsals.  By turning my foot out ever so slightly (ie so my feet would make a very slight v shape if I stopped and put them together - like a ballet stance) the pressure was taken from the middle toes and moved more squarely to the ball of my foot.  This seemed to do the trick and the pain was non-existent when I used this technique - just coming back if my form changed.

I took my shoes off 2.5 miles into the run, and did 1.4 miles in bare feet, and then put the shoes back on for a while, removing them again just over 7 miles in.  I did a total of 2.93 miles in bare feet (the longest I've done so far), and 7.42 miles in Classics, making a total of 10.35.  Towards the end of the run, my knees felt quite stiff, but the pain was not a 'bad' pain which concerned me, just a bit of muscle fatigue I think.  What was reassuring was that both knees were equally sore, which made me think that I must have been running nicely aligned (something which I'm sure I never used to do).

I'm very pleased with today's efforts.  I finished off with a cold bath for my knees, and my feet are a little sore on the soles, but nothing that a good night's sleep won't sort out.  If I continue to progress as well as this, I should be able to complete the half in Classics / barefoot.  Happy days.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Race is on

I've entered a couple of races...

Cardiff 10k in September 2013, and then the Cardiff Half Marathon in October.  I was thinking of doing some races this year (or next) to raise some money in memory of my Mum, and with a bit of gentle persuasion from my other half, I've taken the plunge and paid the entrance fees (or rather, he has!!).

The question now is what to wear on my feet when I run.  I'm quite keen to run the 10k at least in Classics or Vivos.  A week ago I would have said Vivos, but this week I've done quite a lot of miles in the Classics and I've really enjoyed wearing them.  I don't think I'm ready to run barefoot yet (and I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to face the crowds without at least something on my feet), but September's still a way off and I'll hold off making a decision until nearer the day.

Training for the time being will be in minimalist shoes on the whole, though I did wear trainers for a run today as I had a little top of foot pain at the site of my old stress fracture, and I erred on the side of caution and stuck to the more solid support of a trainer.

I'm quite convinced now though that my ankles seem to suffer a lot more in the joints when I wear trainers, as on Friday I did 7 miles in Classics and bare feet, and felt no discomfort or stiffness in my ankles at all.  Today I can already feel that they have done some miles, even though I didn't go as far.  I also found my socks rubbed my soles (just as much as any rubbing from the pavement on bare feet, if not more) and my feet did feel really hot at times.

All good stuff though, and I'm feeling really positive about supporting the hospice that looked after my mum (and my family) back in February.

My JustGiving Page.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Yay - 2 miles plus

Headed out again today in my Vibram Classics with the intention of clinching that 2 miler that I missed on Friday.

Shoes felt good, though I did notice a bit of Top of Foot Pain at the site of my old stress fracture, so I didn't push it, just ambled along.  I took them off earlier than yesterday, telling myself that I could always put them back on if I needed to.

I ran the same route, and stayed barefoot for the whole of the run after that first mile or so.  My feet did feel a little bit sore - still recovering from Friday's 1.99 miles, and in particular, my left foot, on the far side at the base of my little toe felt a little uncomfortable.  There's not much padding there, and whilst I avoided most of the friction, there was still a bit of that tarmac rub which is noticeable now, a good few hours later.

Did have an amusing moment when a cyclist passed me and said 'enjoy your run'.  My brain took a while to engage, and what came out in return was 'yes..... thank you..... and you...... on your bike....'.  Doh!

Still, I'm well chuffed, as I've done 2.2 miles Barefoot today, with a total of 3.5 in all, and that takes me over 50 miles in bare feet since I started last year.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Not quite a 2 miler!

Last Sunday would have been my mum's 70th birthday.  We had a family get together planned to mark the event, but early in the morning I decided to get out for a run.  The weather was beautiful, and whilst I had only planned to go a couple of miles, I felt good, my Vivos felt comfortable and the dog was running well too, so I decided to head for a slightly longer route which took me away from the main road and up into the countryside. 

When I got to the lanes, I took off my Vivos and ran barefoot.  Instead of thinking about sad things, I relished the feel of the road on my feet, and the peace of running without the slap, slap of trainers, and things felt good.  I did just over a mile in bare feet, then put the Vivos back on to reach a total of 3.5 miles in all.

Yesterday I took the same route, this time setting off in my VFF classics, which I haven't worn for a while.  They felt incredibly comfortable, and I enjoyed the greater degree of feedback from the pavements, even in comparison to the Vivos.  I took them off earlier in this run, and my feet felt so comfortable that I didn't put them back on all the way home, clocking up a total of 3.52 miles, with 1.99 in bare feet.  In fact, I reckon I could do that whole circuit barefoot, just with a slight caveat that there tends to be a lot of broken glass along the main road on the second half a mile out (which I can avoid on the return journey).

What I really enjoyed from this second run was a surprise moment:  we overtook an old lady walking along the road, my husband and the dog first, and then me, silently padding past.  As we ran past, I felt incredibly light footed, as if everything had fallen into place and I could run forever.  It was really quite an exhilarating moment.  I hope that if I can continue to improve my distances in bare feet I will get that feeling more and more.

My feet were not at all sore when I got home.  The soles were warm and tingly (and remained so for most of the day), but as usual, I was amazed to look at them and see no visible signs of wear and tear, even though in places I knew I had stepped on some sharp stones.  My next run?  Well, I'm going to have to hit that 2 miles in bare feet, and then I'll be almost at the point I was before Christmas when everything else in my life went a bit pear shaped.