Saturday, 20 July 2013

Weekly roundup

I didn't manage my long run this week (supposed to be 7 miles), but I did do a good 6 mile tempo run, well above target pace, and a 3.5 mile run in bare feet, followed by a PB at the park run this morning of around 26.40 minutes (waiting for the official time to come in).

I'm beginning to notice that my speed is picking up again.  I knew that learning to run in minimalist footwear or bare feet would mean a significant loss of speed for a fair amount of time, and I'd sort of forgotten that I actually can run at a decent speed (decent to me, if not to anyone else!).  But it was only really today that I've hit (and possibly even improved upon) my old targets.  My form has changed significantly - it's been a long time since I've suffered with those awful shin splints I used to get on every single run, and even my joints and muscles don't seem to suffer in the same way.  In the past, I've put this down to the slower speeds, and more gentle footfall.  Now I can see that my new form (which feels completely natural to me now) is starting to reap benefits, and with the pace picking up, I'm feeling better than ever.

Happy days :)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Today I did a tempo run in my Merrells.  I uploaded the workout to my Garmin before I left, so it was all programmed in:  1 mile warm up, 4 miles at 9.33 min/mile, 1 mile cool down.

My Garmin shows me an average pace for the entire run.  I always run slowly at the start as it seems to take a while for my joints and feet to warm up, so by the end of the first mile, the average pace was showing around 10.20 min/mile.  When the Garmin beeped to warn me to get ready for the middle 4 tempo miles, I checked my watch, still slower than 10 min/mile, so I sped up.  The Garmin quickly beeped to say I was in the 9.33 min/mile zone, and then shortly after beeped again to tell me to slow down.

This seemed odd, as I didn't feel I was going much faster than at the end of my warm up mile.  I didn't trust my watch.  I felt I wasn't pushing hard enough, so I ignored the irritating beeps until they gave up on me, and I just kept running at a comfortably fast pace.

When I got home, my watch told me that I had done the middle 4 at 9.14 min/mile!  This is significantly faster than the target pace, and makes me wonder if my form is beginning to show signs of speeding up without too much effort.  So far in my barefoot/minimalist running story I have found it difficult to run anywhere near as fast as I could have in trainers.  That (and the lack of structured training) have kept my pace pretty slow, though speed is not really of concern to me.

It was interesting to run today and feel like I could probably go faster than that, and maintain it, at least for a 10k if no more.  I did enjoy reading an article about adding speed to your barefoot running from Barefoot Beginner which came up on my Twitter feed a few days ago, and I even had a go at copying the video drill.  I thought about that whilst I was running, trying to replicate pulling up my feet from the hamstrings and keeping my ankle in line with my knee.  Maybe that has something to do with it.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Confidence is growing

It's been an interesting week.  My half marathon training plan says I should have done a tempo run, long run and easy run.  I did the long run (7 miles) in Vibram FiveFinger Classics.  No major problems there, average pace of 10.10 minute miles.  

On Friday, I should have done a 5 mile tempo run, but things conspired against my OH and myself, and we ended up doing a 2 and a half mile easy run, which I did mostly in Merrells, with the last half mile or so bare foot.

On Saturday, I did the park run with my daughter.  I wanted to run with her as she is trying to beat the 30 minute barrier, and I was very proud that she did the race in 28 minutes and 43 seconds, 2 seconds faster than me as she sneakily threw in a sprint finish which caught me unaware!

On Sunday it looked like a scorcher of a day, so my OH and myself went out for an early-ish run.  He was suffering from a little over indulgence the night before, so we only wanted to get a few miles in, and with no target pace.  I decided therefore to set out in bare feet.  I carried my Classics in case I needed to put shoes on at some point, but I was really pleased that I managed to run my furthest distance to date - 3.5 miles - all in bare feet.  The picture above is of my feet at the end of the run - a little red in places, but with no damage at all.  Our average pace was 10.40 minutes per mile, but we weren't looking to run particularly fast.

So I had a great week of running.  This morning (Monday) I walked the dog in the woods at the back of our house.  I've often looked at the ground in the woods thinking it would probably be quite dangerous to run through bare foot, as it is covered with bark, twigs, dirt and all sorts of unknown bits and pieces.  Today, being such a warm and beautiful day, I walked up there in flip flops.  As no-one was around, I took them off for a moment, and ran a few steps - just to see how bad the ground would be to step on bare-footed.  It wasn't as bad as I'd expected.  A little further into the woods, I took them off again, picked them up, and ran, very slowly and gently, through 50 metres or so of woodland.  Just as with the pavements, I found it much less difficult to run on than it looked.  Yes, I took care not to step on any large twigs and branches, but the ground was actually much softer than I expected.  I find this with pavements and roads too - when I'm in trainers, I look down and think "That's too rough or stony to run on", but when I take off my shoes, it's never as bad as I had thought.

I've started to contemplate running the 10k in September in bare feet as my confidence grows.  I wonder what the race organisers would think about that....