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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why the Dates?

Some of you may have noticed the date next to previous blog posts and are wondering, "What's going on here?" Well I started my telling my barefoot/minimalist story on posterous.com but recently decided to move to Blogger. As a result, I have transferred all of my old posts over to give new readers the whole story. Please read previous posts at your leisure. They say a lot about barefoot running in general, as well as my own personal story from shod cushioned shoes to now. I hope you have an interest or a love of barefoot running and if not I hope you do after reading some of these posts. Welcome and as I like to say, kick off your socks and shoes and go barefoot!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Technicalities and Chia Seeds (Feb 4)

Today I want to discuss a couple of topics: one the language I use to describe different kinds of shoes and running and two the great endurance food/drink, chia seeds. So early on I differentiated barefoot from 100% barefoot from minimalist. However, having read some more literature on the topic, including a post by my favorite, Steven Sashen, I have decided to reclassify how I reference this topic. You may have already noticed I switched over to calling all minimalist shoes, including huaraches and toe shoes, by the same name....minimalist footwear. Barefoot running, I now consider just that, running without any shoes. Go figure it makes sense now. Finally I will do away with the phrase "100% barefoot" except when wanting to add extra emphasis. Sorry to change this terminology, but as Steven says, it really doesn't make sense to call a shoe barefoot. Barefoot means just that. It's a small distinction but an important one. This doesn't change the fact that some shoes are more minimalist than others. Birthdayshoes.com created a continuum to more and less minimalist shoes (see here: http://birthdayshoes.com/barefoot-running-shoes under "barefoot running shoes continuum"). To see Steven Sashen's post on the classification of minimalist shoes vs. barefoot go here (http://www.invisibleshoe.com/1085/the-little-lie-of-barefoot-running/).

 

Now the other topic for today is the magical food chia seeds. Well I guess they aren't exactly "magical" per se, but they are an excellent source of just about everything. This is just a section I took from wikipedia to give you an idea:

"In a one ounce (28 g) sample, dried chia seeds contain 9% of the Daily Value for protein (4g), 13% fat (9g) (57% of which is ALA) and 42% dietary fiber (11g), based on a daily intake of 2000 calories.[8] The seeds also contain the essential minerals phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium[8] in amounts comparable to other edible seeds, such as flax[9] or sesame.[10]"

However, many sources have also applauded chia seeds, just type them into google. In addition, they also contain a substantial amount of calories, which make them a great endurance food. The Tarahumara put them in in water with a lime and a bit of sugar, also known as Iskiate. This is one of two endurance drinks that the Tarahumara live on when running 100s of miles non stop. So whether you use them for a natural daily superfood or for endurance running, these little guys can't be beat! They are also incredibly cheap and can be purchased at your local grocery store, I got mine at the bulk section of a local coop. They also have a shelf life of two years if kept in a cool, place. One CNN article praised the nutritional benefits but cautioned the amount of calories per serving. But if you use them for endurance running, they are perfect! (here's the CNN article http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/29/are-chia-seeds-a-superfood/) Well that's all for today but definitely go buy some chia seeds and try them out. One last note, if you let them sit in liquid for a while they develop a gel coating, which creates a second kind of fiber (both are good for your body!). This gelling also helps them fight hunger if you are trying to lose weight or are running long distances non-stop. Chia seeds magnify the taste of what they are put in, making limeade taste more lime-y, chocolate chip muffins more chocolatey, etc. They can also be used in baking! You can substitute chia gel for butter in many baking recipes as well! As you can see there are endless benefits to these magical little seeds. However, if you need to take any drug tests any time soon, be warned that they make you test positive for salvia. While legal in the U.S. and many other countries, some businesses will not let you test positive so just be aware.

 

As always kick off your socks and shoes and go barefoot!

 

P.S. I wanted to share this hilarious video done by Steven Sashen. It has already been put on birthdayshoes.com and it getting lots of attention.

http://www.invisibleshoe.com/1304/sht-barefoot-runners-say/

Today's Run: Success! (Jan 11)

Hi guys, I just went for a short run and it was awesome!  This morning when I got up I knew I wanted to go for a run but I wanted to watch some more videos on form.  What I found caused a couple of epiphanies to occur, which finally fixed my form (or so I think)!

First I watched:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkF61mAJZxI

Which compared running forms.  What I took away from it was the reinforcement of rolling the foot from the outside in, and that toe striking is best and the hardest for shod runners.  However, when looking at his barefoot form he almost midfoot strikes, but I digress.  I had been going back and forth over toe and midfoot strike, this video encouraged me to stick with the toe strike (a form I had even with conventional shoes before my barefoot awakening) over new attempts at midfoot strike.  It also returned me to the foot roll, which Steven Sashen talks about on Living Barefoot:

http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/07/we-interview-steven-sashan-owner-of-invisible-shoes/

Next I rewatched a favorite,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pd1QvXJS9m4

here we see Tirunesh Dibaba, an Ethiopian Olympian, doing a 10K.  What I take away from this video is her kick back with her feet, how far her knees come out in front of her, most of what the pop up comments say.  Today though, the biggest thing that stuck with me was that there was minimal up and down motion and maximum forward motion.  This was a central part of my run today that really improved my form and speed.  

Finally I watched "My transition to barefoot running - 7 months (#4)"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUP0-q_wjPU

This video further reinforced the idea of rolling the foot from the outside in and also brought my attention to his kick back.  It isn't as significant as Dibaba's but still more than what I believed myself to be doing.  In the previous video, it noted that Dibaba was leaning forward slightly; however, here he is straight up and down.  I played with this on my run, but mostly agree with a straight body position.  However, there may be a slight lean forward at high speeds.

With this new found/renewed video form knowledge I took to the streets and went for a 15 minute run.  Another thing I thought about from the second part of the first video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlm4SCzpCkU

is that because I haven't been minimalist running every day, my feet and calves aren't as strong as they should be.  I do walk around barefoot or in my Soft Star Runamocs ALL the time, but it may not be enough to keep me in "barefoot shape".  Keeping this in mind I limited my run, also considering the cold.  Today the temperature came in right around 30 (nice and warm!) with no wind.

On the run, I focused on rolling my foot from the outside in, landing on my toes, keeping my body straight (although sometimes leaning slightly forward), stepping under my body, although the knee is allowed to come in front of you a bit, minimizing my up/down motion and really flinging myself forward down the road, and finally kicking my feet back and up.  My main focus was definitely moving forward quickly.  I know many sources say not to push/pull the ground but to place/lift your feet, however my mindset was to throw myself with my steps so as not to just bob up and down.  This made me a LOT faster.  At the same time I made sure to step light, being conscious of rocks under my feet, and to keep a high cadence (many steps per second).  Between my speed and the cold, I found myself having trouble breathing and my heart rate up before I became cold or felt any pain!  This is a first (at least for a long time)!  I actually was quite warm having worn long spandex and my winter jacket.

Overall I had a great run and look forward to many more in the future with the confidence of success!  Nevertheless, I am open to the fact that this form may not hold up over long distances, but I'll let you know as I experience it!

 

A shout out to Robert Ingram from the first and last videos of this post!  I loved his idea to record himself running everyday for a year!  He has some great info on running and it's fun with the snippets he throws in about his life.  It's easy to relate because it's just him running, no exceptions, no matter how he's feeling.  Check it out.

Thanks for reading and as always take off your socks and shoes and go barefoot!  Until next time.

Snow Shoveling Barefoot (Jan 4)

I recently read this post at invisibleshoe.com and have been meaing to share it:

http://www.invisibleshoe.com/1250/barefoot-in-the-cold/

Steven Sashen has built an incredible tolerance for the cold and wears his invisible shoe huaraches all year long!  Check it out!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrb7jjo202c&feature=player_embedded

Colder... (Jan 4)

Just went for a three mile run, it's a balmy 15 degrees outside with wind here in Vermont.  Today I ran in my Soft Star Original Runamocs.  I found that my feet stayed warm except for what was outside of the shoe, i.e. the part of Achilles that was exposed and the bottom of my leg.  I wore long under armor spandex pants, which came down most of my leg, but the area around my ankle was still uncovered.  Overall, the coldest parts of my body were not my feet in my Runamocs.

Some things that were cold were my upper head and thighs simply because I dressed too cold.  As I have been recently, I worked on my form today.  After I was a third to half the way there my body got cold and numbed a little, which took my focus, and feeling, away from the sensation in my feet.  I know my right foot wasn't doing the same thing as my left because it hurt more in the ankle and was stiff.  I found my neck and shoulders were somewhat stiff also.  This prevented me from completely relaxing, which would allow me to move more easily and smoothly.  I tried a variety of things but couldn't really get my right foot to do the same as my left.  Nevertheless I tried everything from allowing my foot to "collapse" after the ball hit, springing up to prevent push/pulling the ground, shortening my stride/ taking more steps, bending my knees and compressing my legs more, all to no avail.  I also experimented with running faster and slower.  Certainly running slower allows one to focus on the details of their form more but sometimes going too slow causes one to over think things.  As creator of Invisible Shoes, Steven Sashen, says, everyone's barefoot form is different and cannot be "taught" (paraphrase).

After the run I noticed a couple of things: (1) I was cold, (2) my feet didn't hurt at all or feel any different except that my big toes hurt a bit.  I have found that I bruise my big toes due to my poor form.  Recently I have been trying to lighten my stride and experiment with placement to prevent this from happening.  

Next time I go out I will look warm up the area around my ankle, either with socks or sweatpants, etc.  Also, I will continue to work on feeling the ground and properly placing my feet so that no injury results.  Thanks for reading and remember to take off your socks and shoes and go barefoot! (Unless it's below 50, then consider minimalist shoes :))

Winter Hiking (Dec 31)

First I would like to say that I wish I had found a posting like this when I transitioned to barefoot running/walking.  

 

I just came back from my first winter hike of the season.  Here in Vermont it is 20 degrees and has been snowing through the night and this morning.  This means that the trail my brother and I walked on has a fresh coating of snow over the leaves.  On this lovely hike I wore my Soft Star Original Runamocs with medium cushion Wigwam wool tube socks.  My Runamocs had been getting a bit cold in weather below 30 degrees.  

One night my brothers and I went for a walk around on a paved road with little snow.  After about 30 minutes my feet began to get cold and move towards numbing.  On the walk back I flexed my feet, stomped on the ground, and stretched them, tightened them, etc. to get some warmth back in them.  This did work, to my delight, but it wasn't comfortable, just good enough to get me back to the warmth of my house.  However, my experience today has changed everything.

The first thing I noticed on the hike up was that the ground was slippery, and not just for me but also my brother who was wearing thick, waterproof army boots.  The snow coating made the trail slick, so one had to be careful on the steep inclines.  However, I was able to feel and grab roots, rocks, etc. very well!  The ground feel was incredible for the winter!  My feet cool actually bend around rocks and roots like they might be able to in the summer with bare feet or huaraches!  As a result my feet got a major workout, seeing as I haven't been doing minimalist runs lately.  Once back on flat pavement I could feel like slight ache that athletes crave.  But the best part of the hike was that my feet stayed 100% dry!  While the uppers of my Runamocs got a bit wet in the toe, the Wigwam socks kept me warm and even a little hot at times!  I was so happy with this experience that I wondered how my Smartwool toe socks would fair.  After getting back home and taking off the moccasins, I check the wool socks and only the tips were slightly damp and I believe some of that was sweat.  I am very very please with the result because this allowed me to practice my form on the trail, stepping light and on the mid/forefoot.  At the same time I stayed warm but didn't compromise ground feel!  I will test out hiking with toe socks soon and post about their effectiveness as well.

Thanks for reading and as always, take off your socks and shoes and go barefoot! (Unless it's below 30)

 

P.S. I recently got some other great advice on going minimalist in a read cold winter.  One comment on birthdayshoes.com recommended going to a shoe guy to get the sole removed and replaced with a zero drop sole (like the Vibram Newporter in his case).  He said this cost about $50 and could be done by any shoe repair place.  Here's the post:

"Comment from: JD Hall [Visitor]

JD HallThese are very similar to boots that I modified after falling in love with VFF and minimalist shoes. I had an old pair of Red Wing boots that I stopped wearing because of the huge heel. I took them to a local shoe repair shop and had the sole, shank, and everything else removed. Vibram Newporter soles were then stitched on. I love wearing them in the winter and for work now and the modifications only cost around $50. Any shoe repair store can make this conversion for you. I'll post pics in the forum section.

12/08/11 @ 10:33"

It was from this new post on the Oetzi 3300 Troop Boot:

http://birthdayshoes.com/oetzi3300-troop-boot-review

Good luck and have fun!

 

Injuries and More Cold Weather Running (Dec 2)

  On Wednesday November 16th, I went running with UVM's Running Club on a 5 mile run.  Now for the average shod runner that's almost entry level, especially seeing as their pace was very slow.  Nevertheless, for a barefoot runner coming out of transitioning, I had a lot to learn.  

In the beginning I was doing fine, just holding my form and speeding up my steps when I needed to keep up with the group.  I lost the pack on downhills but could still see them.  When we got to flat turf I would speed up my steps and catch back up.  However, after a while I began to lose the group and had to alter my stride a bit to keep up.  I believe I opened my stride like I would if I was wearing conventional shoes.  By the time we approached campus, I was still in the back of the pack.  The group had decided to power it out and I could keep up with them.  One reason I couldn't keep up was my arches were KILLING me!  By the time we reached our starting point, my feet were throbbing.  "Stupid, stupid," I kept telling myself, "You get what you deserve."  I had thought I had done a good job transitioning and modifying my form, turns out I had been lying to myself.  A vacation from running 100% barefoot and instead running in my huaraches at a slow pace had convinced me I was ready to move up.  This just wasn't so.  

My next move was to stay away from running for a while to prevent any real damage from being done.  Yesterday, Wednesday November 30th, was the first time I ran since that 5 miler.  I decided that my form was off and I needed to go back to square one in a lot of ways.  This meant 100% barefoot running, except this time it is cold.  

Here in Vermont it is a balmy 35 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind in Burlington.  Today I went on my second barefoot run since my "injury" two weeks ago.  Before I went out yesterday I watched several videos on YouTube and revisited old sources to refresh my memory on good form.  I also practiced in my room a bit to get myself used to it before I ran out in the cold.  I decided on this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=787hU5R79JY

Even though he runs in shoes in the video, his form was correct compared to various sources I have read over the past year.  I still looked at other videos to compliment but I mainly used this one.  With this form in mind I set out to run around campus for a >1 mile jog.  I focused on keeping excellent form and put on my Original Chocolate Runamocs when I got cold.  Once my feet warmed back off I took of my mocs and ran barefoot again.  My form feels much better now, but I still have a slow pace and don't have a relaxed upper body yet.  Holding my arms up so high creates a little tension.  Nevertheless, I plan to continue this pattern until there is snow on the ground.

Thanks for reading, as always, take off your socks and shoes and go barefoot!!!