Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twenty kilometers

My transition to minimalist running continues. It hasn't been entirely smooth. My calves really missed the heel raise of running shoes, and learning a midfoot strike also put a lot more stress on my calves than they were used to. For a while I was getting a bit of a strain in my calves almost every time I ran in my Vibram Five Fingers. I've been going back and forth between regular shoes and minimalist footwear, trying to maintain the same running form both ways.

Sometimes I run with a metronome set to 180 bpm to keep my cadence up. Lately I've been using the "Run One Eighty" playlist on my iPod, an eclectic mix of music that has only one thing in common: eighth notes ticking along at 176-183 bpm. And when I say eclectic, I mean it. I've got Benny Goodman, Dire Straits and Owl City in a big mish-mash with Dave Brubeck, The Academy of Ancient Music and David Bowie.

Gradually my leg and foot muscles have seemed to acclimatize. I've had two injuries relating to uneven ground, both small tears in my calf muscles. One happened as I ran up a curb near Vancouver (we don't have curbs here in the boonies). The other happened when my heel dropped suddenly into a mini-pothole on the road near home. But those setbacks aside, my legs seem to be getting used to this.

In the past week or two I've begun running unshod a bit and I've now got 20 kilometers logged on my bare feet. The soles of my feet are beginning to acclimatize. My first barefoot run was three quarters of a kilometer and even that gave me a blister on my big toe. But now I'm up to 5-6 kms and my feet are getting much tougher. This is my foot after today's 5k run. My feet aren't exactly lovely, but they aren't covered in calluses and blisters either. I got a new little blister on my 2nd toe today, mostly because the asphalt was hot and I think my feet were sweating a bit. But I expect they'll get used to that too.

Because I love trail running so much I'm still using my Asics Kayanos. Maybe in another year my legs and feet will be ready to run the rough long trails around here with just VFFs. For now I just keep my cadence up, concentrate on not heel-striking, and wear shoes.


  1. The idea of asphalt being too hot is a novel conceit for those of us in Scotland.

  2. Anonymous2:16 pm

    Okay, I am very curious about this barefoot running and I know the trail that your running on. How are your feet not hurting when you go completely barefoot and how would you reccommend starting this. I am quite intriqued and wonder if it will help with my itband problem. Does your stride automatically switch or do you have to take time to work on that??
    I have pain problems on the top of my feet which is a little unusual and am wondering if my shoes are causing this.
    another post on barefoot running and the mechanics would be appreciated.

  3. Ann, so far my trail running almost all uses my Kayanos (shoes) or VFFs (minimalist shoes / slippers). I've done tiny bits of very slow running on part of the Galena, but I'm careful to choose the parts of the trail that are pretty grassy. Most of my barefoot miles have been on more predictable asphalt surfaces of the roads around here.

    I find that yes, my stride switches fairly automatically when I'm truly barefoot. Noticing what I do unshod helps me create the same sort of stride when I'm wearing stuff on my feet.

    I'm hesitant to give specific advice on barefoot running because I'm so new to it, and because everyone's running needs, issues and mechanics are different. Probably as I learn more I'll continue to share bits of what I discover here but for your current questions I'd suggest looking to the 'experts.' You might find some good information at Barefoot Running University or Barefoot Ted's Google Group.

  4. Anonymous12:39 pm

    Thanks Miranda, I will have a look into those sites. You mentioned issues with your calf muscles are they tighter than normal when your running "barefoot".
    Totally off topic what kind of condition is the Galena trail in after the winter?? Is there lots of blowdown, I am specifically thinking of the section from town up to Three Forks?? We camp at Roseberry every labour day weekend and then ride the bikes around the area, this is one trail that we do with the kids.
    I just love it up there, your very lucky to have the Slocan as your backyard.

  5. For a while I was running too tippy-toed, not transferring my weight to my heel soon enough in my stride. That gave me a calf strain that I haven't allowed to heal properly and keep aggravating. Silly me; can't seem to stop running long enough.

    I forgot to mention that walking about outside in bare feet is a very useful habit which helps acclimatize the soles to barefoot running. I remember walking out to Erin's cabin a few weeks ago across the gravelly driveway and practically dancing on my tip-toes because my feet were so tender. Now it's easy -- I can walk without a second thought.

    Galena Trail is in great shape. The lovely little bridge a couple of kms from ND on the way to Three Forks was taken out by trees last winter but they've build a simple plank bridge that works fine. There were some blowndowns above the trail, and they seriously hamper access on connecting trails from our property down to the Galena, but the trail itself is pristine at this point. No one but us and our neighbours are affected by those blowdowns.

  6. Anonymous7:02 pm

    Okay thanks for that info. Thats a shame about the bridge, I almost got seriously hurt there a few summers ago, had just crossed the bridge and heard a loud crack above me and a tree broke in half and landed just behind me!! If I had been riding any slower than I was I would have had a serious head injury, I don't think my helmet would have been much help at that point.
    I will be cycling that way in a few weeks. It is my second annual ladies cycling tour. Last year we went from the ferry to ND, stayed the night and them cycled back the next day. This year we are starting in Kaslo and riding to Nakusp, and then riding back the next day. I have to admit I am not looking forward to the hill out of ND,hopefully it won't be too hot!!


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