Showing posts with label vibrams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vibrams. Show all posts

Tales of Running: The First 5 Years...1000s of Miles Later

I find it curious to be writing this post when I have had trouble running for the last two months--ever since I ran 5K and came in around 24:30.  But this post is necessary to write.  It's been five years since I first start running.  Five years since the flip switched and I went from hating running and unwilling to run even a mile to literally running thousands of miles in the last five years (between 1000 and 1200 a year).  What seemed like something that I just couldn't get has now become something I hate the idea of doing without.  Life is indeed funny like that.

Lance with finisher medal after his first marathon.
First marathon completed.
Who knew I'd be back for more!
I hope that I never lose the amazement that I feel every time I set off on a run because it, in itself, is something that is truly humbling and amazing.  Don't get me wrong, I love the feeling of my body after a good run: the muscles feeling loose but tired, the sweat dripping all over my body, the breathing bringing refreshment to my beating heart, and the sense of accomplishment for sustaining the movement for the duration of the run.  However, I still feel like a kid sometimes when I'm running; doing something forbidden or risky or strange and new.  Each time, I feel like a veil has fallen, and I'm a newborn horse moving from its stumbling initial steps into a gallop.  Silly, absolutely, but no less true.  Maybe this is why running has stuck with me so much because I continued to be awed by something that for decades of my life, I thought was something beyond me.

Coupled with the running has been a good amount of writing (just over 60 posts to date) on running; again, another thing I'd never imagine writing so much about (unless it's was like Bart Simpson on the chalkboard, "I hate running" five bajillion times).  And from that has been many an email, message, and note from people thanking me for helping them, encouraging them, or giving them food for thought as they begin or continue on their running journey.  The Bull and The Cheetah, 10 Ways Running Reminds Me of Learning, The Two Demons I Run With, and "I ran 15 miles, I got assalted, my face hurts, and it's your fault!" are by far my favorite posts that I've written about running as they highlight so much of my inner world while running and thinking about running.

As I said, I'm currently recovering from an injury--my IT band has decided it's not happy and so I'm giving it a bit of rest and seeing if that helps before slowly rebuilding myself back up or needing to see any kind of specialist.  Thus, it's been weird to hit my 5-years of running mark and not be able to talk much about the runs I've been doing of late.  Yet I know that I am not done with running.  This past year has shown me that I can take running farther (pun intended) than I have previously.

While I have seen myself as a long-distance runner, enjoying half-marathons in particular but also the occasional marathon, I also have begun to make significant progress on speed.  My first half-marathon had me come in at 2:25 and yet, the marathon I ran two months ago, had me at 1:51.  Now, that's not necessarily fast for the serious and competitive runners--but for a 36-year-old guy who ranks in the Clydesdale (over 210 weight) and runs in the barefoot shoes, it's pretty damn good.  All of this is to say that I 'm finally understanding and learning to improve and maintain a good steady pace throughout the longer races and I believe that I have the chance to continue to do better.

Book cover - The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by The Oatmeal
Looking for an entertaining book
to inspire you to run?
Try this one!
It's so hard to explain what changed.   There was a convergence of things that seemed to propel me into running.  I've noted that the shoes (Vibrams) played an important role.  So did the Fitbit (and Basis) too in terms of helping me monitor progress.  I also know that because several people I knew were becoming active runners, that also had a positive impact on me.  Especially as I started to run, their support, encouragement, and recognition of my accomplishments (many of them knowing my loathsome view of running previously) gave me little boosts.  I know that writing about running and even posting the races that I planned to sign up for aided me, creating some level of public accountability.  I also rallied around my accomplishments.  Every time, I made a new distance, a new speed, a new challenge, I celebrated--if not publicly, then with a pat on my own back.  Basically, I harnessed every piece of positive influence to keep me going and kept myself from discouragement by regularly reminding myself that I was in competition with no one--just on a journey to make me better.  

For those flirting with running, trying to start, or standing as far away from it as you can (that is, running away from it), I get it.  I've been in all of those spaces over the years.  But I encourage you to keep at it if you continue to find yourself wondering if you could run any distance.  The switch can flip for many people; it's just a matter of finding the right conditions.  The three most important pieces of advice I can tell you are this:

Time-jump

Ditch the watch, ditch the distance tracker at the start.  Pay no attention to how far or how fast you are going.  This is merely noise.  Until you feel you are at a point at which you enjoy running, don't bother using a watch.  You might want to mark a particular distance that you know is between 3-5 miles (e.g. a bike path, a lake path, etc), but don't track your time until you feel like you can enjoy the running in itself.

Load up the playlist

Make a powerlist of music to keep you going.  Early on, keep it limited to your 20 most energizing songs--the kind of songs that you can't help but move every time you hear.  Rather than using a clock, you can use songs to measure distance initially.  Try to run for at least 3-4 songs and expand from there.  Let the music channel through you and get you moving.

Go slow

I can't say this enough.  One major reason running never worked for me was because I couldn't figure out my pace.  When I got the Vibrams, it meant that I really had to slow down because my feet couldn't take the pain since the soles were so slim.  This slowing down was super-helpful because it meant my breathing wasn't being overly stressed.  It doesn't matter if you could walk faster, they are different movements.   Work on slowing your run and finding your rhythm--once you unlock this harmony, speeding up becomes increasingly easier.  This is likely to be the hardest piece of advice here, especially if you are listening to your favorite music as it's likely to push you to go faster, but resist it.  Go as slow as you need to until your step, lungs, and heart are aligned. 

Celebrate every and all wins

Lance - Half-Marathon June 2016
Ripping up the road on the final
stretch of my recent half-marathon
Any time you get out to run, anytime you got a bit further or a bit faster, complete a race, or just struggle and manage to do a run you weren't going to do otherwise--own it and celebrate it.  It can be so hard to get up and out the door to run.  For some, maybe it is easy, but for others, it can feel like an insurmountable challenge just to get out the door.  If you get out the door, celebrate!  I would recommend to also join a social-network for health like DailyMile or if you have a device, Garmin Connect (then you can add me and we can encourage and celebrate each other's accomplishments!). 

Smile

No really.  Your body affects your mind.  If you work to smile while thinking out running, heading out to run, while running, after running, it will affect your overall mood towards running.  This will boost your enthusiasm and excitement for running and create a fantastic feedback loop.

So that's all I have for now!  It's been a great five years running and I am so grateful for each and everyone one of you who have directly and indirectly cheered me on. 


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Getting Back on Track: Recovering to Running

So my last post on running was a while back and I was discussing an injury.  The final diagnosis was a herniated disc with a pinched nerve.  Fun times!  May was a hard month, especially coming off my personal best of running a half-marathon in 2:03.  

I was able to start running in June but I had to take it easy.  For the first half of June there was pain that accompanied the running.  Additionally, June was just a very busy month for work and having to do the doctor shuffle only added to it.  July was also busy with work and teaching.  However, in both months, I managed to do over 80 miles, so I'm happy with that.  80 miles is still a distance that there are upwards of decades where I did not accumulate that much running--so I'll take it!  

Image of Train Tracks.  Source: http://pixabay.com/p-11408/?no_redirect
Getting back on
them tracks!
After the diagnosis in late June and a regiment of physical therapy that went on over June and July, the doctor gave me the go-ahead at the end of July to return to training.  During June and July, I did not do more than 6.5 miles on most occasions.  I went up to 7 once or twice.  However, now that we're gearing up to see if completing the Bay State Marathon is possible, it's back to training for me.  I talked with Dave, my coach at Breakthrough Performance Coaching and we started up slow--trying to get me back up to the longer distances I was used to before.  

This past weekend I had my first real long run in a while:  a 1.5 hour/9 mile run.  In some ways, it felt intimidating because it had been so long since running it, but in other ways, it felt like an old friend.  In fact, while I took the first six miles at a light pace, just trying to endure, I decided to push myself the last three miles of it and found that I actually managed to do under 9 minute miles.  Given that I had been happy with anything under 10 minutes, I was ecstatic to see the mileage ringing in around the 8:50s.  

It's 9 weeks or so until the Bay State Marathon.  I believe I will be in good enough shape to complete it but I'm not sure I will be doing anything better than what I did last year.  I'm slightly frustrated by this because given all that I've been putting into running, I feel like not being able to improve upon this is somehow a failure.  I know it's not, but of course, my Doubt Demon loves to prey upon such insecurities.  

Regardless, I'll continue to slay the Doubt Demon, get back in my Vibrams, and keep running.  After all, any miles complete is a victory.  I'll keep you posted as I continued with the miles.  And speaking of which, even if I do not accomplish my 4 hour marathon, or 2 hour half-marathon (though I've damn close!), I'm within 300 miles of hitting my 1000 miles for 2014.  In terms of mileage, I'm close to where I was last year at the end of the year and I've still got 4 good months of fall running!  


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By Any Other Nerd Blog by Lance Eaton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Tales of Running: Vibram-Gait (Get it?)

About a month ago, I across several of my feeds that Vibrams had recently settled a big lawsuit.  Now, we all know here that I'm a big Vibrams fan.  They are a shoe for all seasons as far as I see it.  So when I found out that they had settled a lawsuit, I was pretty surprised, initially.  


Not giving them up any time soon!
They lawsuit did not have to do with injuries incurred by the users but by the health claims associated with Vibrams.  They claimed things about their product that were not scientifically proven and someone called them on it  Fair enough--no company should falsely represent itself in such a manner.  However, I noticed that a good amount of people have used the loss to gloat, laugh at, or validate their belief that Vibrams are bad.  I get why they have done so but of course, as someone who has made a fundamental lifestyle change (that is, became a runner) that was a direct result of Vibrams, I feel I need to speak to what the lawsuit does and doesn't represent for me.  

Vibrams settled and therefore, did not lose the lawsuit.  There is a distinction worth noting here.  They are not guilty but recognize the overstretching of their claims.  This translates into they cannot prove their claims as of yet but that's not to say the claims won't eventually ring true.  There has been limited research on this topic and with mixed information.  

The limited results don't sway me against Vibrams because they aren't robust enough.  In order for real proof to be acquired about this, you would need the following groups to study:

  • Group 1:  Do nothing--not even run (essentially, your control group).
  • Group 2:  People who already run with regular shoes (and continue to do so; a control regular group, so to speak)
  • Group 3: People who already run with Vibrams (and continue to do so; a control Vibram group).
  • Group 4: People who take up running with regular shoes.
  • Group 5: People who take up running with Vibram shoes.
  • Group 6: People who switch from regular shoes to Vibram shoes.
  • Group 7: People who switch from Vibrams shoes to regular shoes.
  • Group 8: People who stop running altogether (having run with regular shoes)
  • Group 9: People who stop running altogether (having run with Vibram shoes)

As someone who did not run at all and first started running with Vibrams, I know my experience is likely to be profoundly different than the person who makes the switch from running with regular shoes to Vibrams and I think this is where researchers explore for more clearer results.  Unfortunately, I think some will take the lawsuit as shorthand for the idea that the shoes are dangerous or injury-inducing and therefore, avoid them or encourage others to avoid them.  

That being said, if you have invested in a pair of Vibrams as a direct result of my encouragement or it was one of the things that influenced you, feel free to get your refund from the settlement at this website.  The form is easy to fill out especially if you've bought only one or two pairs.  

I will continue to run and purchase Vibrams as I have had amazing success with them and believe they are a useful shoe (when used correctly). 

Tales of Running: The 2014 Line-Up, or OMG, Are You Insane?

I started signing up for my 2014 races.  This list only goes up to July as many of the later summer and fall races are as yet not available for sign up or haven't confirmed a date.  As I mentioned elsewhere, I want to run 4-6 marathons this year and get myself ready for doing a double-marathon next year.  I'm also looking to get under the 2 hour mark for my half-marathon and the 4 hour mark for the marathon (though that one I think is a bit of a reach).  That's a lot to ask for in a single year but I'm up for the challenge given how well last year went.  


This is the time to beat!
I need to shave 35 minutes off.
Gulp
If you're a runner, feel free to join up with me for any of these races--I always appreciate the company!

Old Fashioned 10 Miler and Fast 5K (OFTM)

11:00AM on February 16, 2014 (Sunday)
Distance: 10 MILES
35 Neponset Ave Foxboro, MA 
http://www.wampanoagroadrunners.org/oftm.html


The 4th Annual Black Cat 10 & 20 Miler

9:00AM on March 1, 2014 (Saturday)
Distance: 20 MILES
Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, MA
http://www.blackcatroadrace.com/


The Eastern States 20 Mile and Run for the Border Half Marathon

Mar 30, 2014
Distance: 20 MILES
Portsmouth, NH
http://www.easternstates20mile.com

Fools Dual Half Marathon (5K and Half-Marathon)

April 6, 2014 (Sunday)
Distance: HALF-MARATHON
OMaley Middle School, 32 Cherry Street , Gloucester, MA
http://www.yukanrun.com/Fools-Dual.html

Earth Rock Run

April 27, 2014 (Sunday)
Distance: MARATHON
North Andover, Massachusetts
http://earthrockrun.com/

Wallis Sands Half Marathon

May 04, 2014
Distnace: HALF-MARATHON
Wallis Sands State Park, Rye, NH
http://www.wallissandshalfmarathon.com/index

Granite State Marathon

May 13, 2014
Distance: MARATHON
Mine Falls Park, Nashua, NH
http://www.newenglandchallenge.org/granite.html

2014 Twin Lobster Half Marathon Challenge 

Jun 01, 2014
Distance: HALF-MARATHON
Gloucester High School, Gloucester, MA 01930
http://www.yukanrun.com/Twin-Lobster.html

Mad Marathon

July 6, 2014
Distance: Marathon
Mad River Valley, Vermont
http://www.madmarathon.com/MMarathon.html






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Tales of Running: What's in My Tool bag?

It's time to go for a run and you're thinking that about going for a long one.  What do you pack?  What's a must for you to have on any run?  Not just the physical goods but what's in that toolbox (ok, probably a bag since who runs with a box, right?)?  Well, I was thinking about what I need to pack both physically and mentally and here's what I came up with for my tool bag:

Physical Tools for Running

Vibrams five-finger shoes
Vibram five-finger shoesThey're a must for any run as I've said many a times here.  I find it hard to run otherwise.  

Content Belt
For lack of a better phrase, it is essentially a fanny pack.  But short of a backpack, there's not any other ways to carry extra items without weighing down your shorts/pants.  The belt holds tight to the waist and largely doesn't bother your form.  I've found that the one I have and sometimes also provide some back support depending on where I position the pack part and how tight I have the belt clip.

iPad Nano
Music is the tool that has gotten me past many a literal and metaphorical finish lines.  I have to wonder if the increase in running can be directly correlated to the increasing individual music machines (mp3 players) that are light, long-lasting, and rechargeable.  I tend not to fixate on one particular band or even genre but just an amalgam of music that I've found motivating over the years.  

Bandanna
I've tried hats and will use them if it a particularly sunny day but they are slightly irritating to my bald head.  By contrast, bandannas are perfect for keeping my head protected and soaking up the sweat.  Also, if tied correctly, the back part of the bandanna can become the low point for the sweat to exit from so that it drips down your back and not on your face.

Honey Stinger Chews
People use different fuels for the runs when they need to load up on some more carbs while logging in longer distances.  I like Honey Stinger Chews because they are tasty as well as organic.  Ultimately, anything will do and if I don't have Honey Stingers, I'll opt for whatever else is around.

A few bucks
I generally don't like to carry a water bottle during my runs.  They are distracting to me and I'm never likely to be able to carry as much as I need for a long run without seriously weighing me down.  Therefore, I carry about $5 on my in order to grab drinks on the go as well as back up money if something happens and I need to make a call.

Identification
Unless it's an official race that I registered for, I will typically carry my license and health insurance card on me in case something happens to me.  I know there are Road ID bracelets but one more thing to put on my wrists (see below) might be too much.

Basis
Basis watch for health monitoringMy Basis is a great tool as it gives me heart-rate and steps taken.  I've talked about it before and though it may be a bit ridiculous in tandem with the GPS watch below, I'm still inclined to run with both.  I'm sure the next generation of gadgets I get 2-3 years down the line will have them both combined.

GPS Watch
The GPS watch I have isn't great.  It takes usually 7-10 minutes to sync and sometimes, I'm know sure about its accuracy.  But it does give me a good sense of my distance and can help me keep track of my progress.

Mental Tools for Running

Always one more step.
It's a mantra I have readily accessible, particularly when I know I'm having or going to have a rough run.  I simply tell myself repeatedly and almost exclusively to all other thoughts, "There is always one more step you CAN take."  And there usually is.

All this is profit.
I coined this phrase when ran the marathon back in October.  It \ means that once you've pasted a distance that you haven't done before (or past the distance that you had originally planned to do), that every step after that is purely beneficial and supremely rewarding.  As someone who used to hate running, this is a profound concept for me.  I never ran more than I had to and usually did my best to get around even that.  So finding myself in a place where I want to go further than before is profit of all sorts.

Projecting running when not running.
Particularly when I'm gearing up for a big race where I want to achieve a new distance or new time, I make sure to spend a lot of time in the weeks leading up to picture myself running and in doing so, feel the muscles throughout my body.  I have also talked about this in a previous post as well of trying to get my mind and body preparing before the actual run.  Training the mind can help to train and prepare the body for the challenge that awaits you in any run.  

Setting markers for walks.
This is something that many people do not always value or understand especially when running long distances; planning and taking time to walk.  Granted, this is not relevant if you are trying to win a race against others.  But I'm talking about us who are largely just racing ourselves.  Particularly when it comes to half-marathons or longer, I usually get out about 4-5 miles and then use the water stops as a time to hydrate and walk for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  While some people feel this might threaten a personal best, I find that time and again, it has helped me achieve a personal best.  First, it breaks up the running into smaller chunks that are easier for me and my body to handle.  It also alleviates inner stress of thinking about how many miles to go before I can comfortably stop, even if it's only for a minute. Finally, it keeps me from having to stop outright.  Many  people run until their body is so worn they can't keep going or they get progressively slower.  By planning your walks, you better care for your body which helps get you to the end quicker and healthier.  

A high and a low mark for success
I try to set a range for my finished time.  The low-goal which is something I think is feasible but still requires me to give it a solid effort.  The high-goal is something I aspire to and may not achieve in this run but having it in my sights gets me mentally ready to achieve it some day.


Thinking cup - Image Source: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3023/2808468566_6d19c9e090_o.jpg
Thoughts for Running
I often try to prepare a few things to think about on my run.  Though even when I don't have them, I usually find them.  It's a great opportunity to get lost in thoughts and problem solving or reflecting.  This also helps the time go by quicker as you try to figure out something in your head.


Tools that Don't Accompany Me on My Run

Phone
I see many people use their phones in versatile ways, but I'm not at a point where I enjoy taking my phone with me (unless I find it absolutely necessary).  The distraction to take photos of scenic landscape or check my email and messages is also a bit too strong and would take from the run itself.


So what's in your tool bag?




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Going the Distance with Vibrams

I started running about two years and four months ago.  As I've mentioned elsewhere, I was in a hate-hate relationship with running for the 30+ years prior to that.  But after seeing Vibrams around and brought up in several conversations in the months prior, I decided to get a pair, just to see how they fit and what benefits could be had from them, even just for walking around.

The Challenges
There are three challenges that come when you acquire your first pair of Vibrams.
  1. Getting the damn things on!  The first month or so, it could easily take me 2-3 minutes to get them on.  Nowadays, I can get both pairs on in less than 30 seconds.  But my toes weren't as used to the feel and the need to spread out as they are now, so trying to get each toe into each slot proved a bit challenging.  
  2. Dealing with the looks, because you will get looks.  In fact, I think the social challenge for many is the biggest hurtle.  It feels quite challenging to walk around in Vibrams because they don't look "normal".  This is amazingly ironic since most foot apparel does not look "normal" by any means (in relation to what the foot looks like).  I wonder sometimes how it is that Uggs, Crocs, and stilettos are somehow more "normal" than a pair of shoes that replicates the foot.  
  3. Oh, Hi there muscles that I never knew I had!  Realizing that changing to a shoe that reinforces the traditional ways in which our feet actually operate can be painful in that there will be muscles that have been vastly underworked now trying to catch up with muscles that may be overdeveloped because of the ways traditional shoes work.  
The Questions
Coupled with these challenges, I also get these questions:

Question:  Doesn't it hurt your feet?
Answer:  To start running in them, yes.  I got tired and sore feet as well as my share of blisters.  But the foot was meant for walking and running, barefoot.  It's designed to move barefoot.

Question:  But what about rocks and glass?
Answer:  Running in Vibrams or barefoot does mean you need to pay more attention to the ground.  But that's a good thing because it often takes your mind off the distance.  But rocks and glass are not as traumatic for Vibrams as they may appear.  Glass or metal, unless it's stick up at a crazy angle is not likely to do harm with the Vibrams on.  Rocks can be trickly.  But something that happens when you start running with the Vibrams is that though your foot toughens up with some callouses, it remains extremely sensitive.  I cannot count the number of times that I came down on a rock and was quickly able to switch balance because I sensed and reacted quickly.   Your feet are amazing sensors when given the opportunity to response.

Question: Doesn't that do harm to your knees and back?
Answer:  I've actually found my knees and back doing much better since I've started using them.  Knees and back hurt because as runners or general walkers we land harder than we should on our feet.  We don't realize this because our shoe cushions our feet.  It doesn't cushion our knees or back which still feel the impact of hard steps.  However, with Vibrams or while barefoot, we can't slam down, we have to purposefully plant and absorb the step and it relieves the stress on the rest of the body.  What's actually has happened is that my foot and lower leg muscles have seriously developed so that they receive each step, lessening the pressure on the rest of my body.  The only place this is challenged is when I run down hill where the pull of gravity delivers a bit more pounce with each step (which is why I actually enjoy running up hill way more than I do down hill).

Question: Doesn't it feel weird to run in them?
Answer:  Initially, it certainly did.  But now, it feels natural and right.  I love that I feel the impact of each step and that I can feel such balance, grip, and centeredness because of my Vibrams.

Keeping Stock
Clearly, I made it through these obstacles and am now an ardent fan of the shoes to the degree that I (when possible) buy them in bulk when they are on sale.  (Let's not talk about the fact that I've turned into that running person who buys such things in bulk--another post for another time, I suppose).


Newest to oldest; left to right
I just started on my third pair of Vibrams in September.  My second pair of Vibrams probably still have decent mileage on them, but I wanted to start with a new pair and break them in fully before I did the marathon in October.  However, what's great with the Vibrams is that you literally can wear them down until there are holes in the soles.  In fact, I still have my first two pairs of Vibrams and will use them substantially this winter for runs on the treadmill.  In this way, I can maximize the life of the three pairs and hopefully have the third pair carry me well into the next year.


My first pair.  I'm still able to use them on the treadmill.


Starting to show some wear,
but still has a few hundred miles left in them.


The new pair, ready to go.

Going the Distance
A lot of runners I know who are interested in Vibrams tend to be reluctant for a few reasons.
1.  Knees and back.  Many are concerned about how it will hurt their knees and back.  As mentioned, my experience is that it has improved these or at least taken some of the stress off of them.
2.  Retraining.   Switching to Vibrams will mean a loss of progress for some.  It will take a while to build up to the mileage that one is used to if they have already been running.
3.  Loss of Speed.  You trade in speed for stability and strength when you switch to Vibrams.  You are much more limited in your speed because of the impact factor.  For people who race for speed, this is a major detriment but for the rest of us, it just means adjusting your goals and recognizing that though you might be slower, you're getting more punch out of each step.

However, if you are flirting with running, I highly recommend the Vibrams.  The biggest benefit that it gave to me while building up to my marathon and beyond is that it kept me from running ahead of myself.  With shoes, it's very easy for us to outrun our bodies and thus mess up our breathing and rhythm.  Because I needed to start very slow with the Vibrams to get used to the new running style and the impact of each step, it means I was able to slow down significantly so that my body and breathing could work together to get me to the distances that I wanted.

In the end, I will never be a fast runner.  Of course, I never expected to be any kind of runner besides a non-runner.  But with Vibrams, I will always be a runner.

So what are your experiences with Vibrams, barefoot running, and other types of minimalist running shoes?



Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email. 

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Seasons According to Vibram and Barefoot Runners

We're all familiar with the regular seasons here in New England but the seasons take on a different meaning for a runner. To the typical runner, the seasons run as such.

Spring
Length: Two months if we're lucky, but usually two weeks in April or May, crammed in between wintry cold and humid heat.

Characteristics:  A perfect-medium temperature that suits many runners.  Great scenery of an awakening natural landscape, birds chirping, and all that good stuff.

Running Experience:  Often a season of empowerment for the runner after being trapped on Dante's Inferno (also know as "the treadmill") at the gym for months with the person to the left of you, humming and singing every third or fifth word from "Eye of the Tiger" and the person to the right of you, running at 2-3 mph faster than you and not even breaking a sweat.  You're out on the road gaining mileage and feeling the fresh air and thinking how wonderful the world is.

Summer
Length: Usually several months from late May until early September.

Characteristics:  Hot.  Humid.  And the occasional lightning bolt to avoid.  Highly aromatic due to the interwoven mix of tar and roadkill sprinkled with the occasional hint of skunk (unless, of course, the roadkill is the skunk--then it's like triple word score on Scrabble).

Running Experience:  "DEAR LORD, why is it so damn hot?  Seriously, when did I end up in hell?"  Be prepared for having high expectations crushed by crippling heat.  It's also the height of hallucination season, so there's that to enjoy.  If the Spring runner was working towards bathing suit season, it's only because one might as well be running in a bathing suit during the summer given the amount of sweat produced.

Fall
Length: September to Thanksgiving (no negotiation there; it's officially winter).

Characteristics:  Crisp air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, long sleeve shirts, and regular infusions of nostalgia produced as the icons of Halloween and Thanksgiving begin appearing everywhere.

Running Experience:  It's great to be a runner.  It's also useful to burn off more energy now because we know the feasting of HalloThanXMas is coming.  Motivation for running is usually present, even if time is at a minimum.  You're also constantly fighting the urge to play in the piles of leaves you pass by (ok, that's probably just met).

Winter
Length: Thanksgiving until March (at least).

Characteristics: DAMN COLD!

Running Experience:  The season most runners find themselves seriously challenged to be inspired with their running.  You've got roughly three types of runners for the winter:
  • Hibernator:  "That's it, see you next March when I'll be working off this newly acquired 10 pounds."  Giving up the running in full or part, these folks lose motivation to run outside but can't suffer to get on a treadmill (and no one can blame them).  
  • Gymbers:  "I guess I should use this gym membership I've had all year."  Returning to the gym and climbing up on that treadmill or maybe cross training during the winter.  
  • Polar Bears:  "Oh, it's -10 degrees?  I can't wait to see how quickly  my spit freezes."  These runners are almost gunho about the winter and love to get out and log in the miles.
Of course, Vibram and barefoot runners may experience these seasons a bit differently because of their foot apparel (or lack there of).  In many ways they experience all of the above, but because they also experience the seasons much more through their feet, the seasons hits them in other ways:

Spring
The Foot Experience:

  • Rocky:  Street sweepers are my friend; but they generally don't cover sidewalks.
  • Squishy/Mushy: Reminiscent of treks through the swamp as a kid, but still unsettling.  Except when it's not (such as when your feet desperately need the rest of softer ground).

Catch phrase:  "A beautiful spring day!  Look at the budding flowers--OW!  Goddam rocks and debris!  Oh crap, that was a puddle."

Summer
The Foot Experience:

  • Hot:  When the you're never quite sure if your blisters are from the barefoot running or indication of burning because of the boiling tar.

Catch phrase:  "OW!  Goddam hot tar.  It's cool, I mean, do I really need a sole?"

Fall
The Foot Experience:

  • Crunchy:  Leaves, branches, and nature's debris clutter the sidewalks making for disguised pitfalls.
  • Slippery:  Wet. Leaves.  Ew.

Catch phrase:  "What beautiful folia---OW!  Goddam acorns under those leaves!  Ahhhh...I almost slide onto my ass back there--damn wet leaves!"

Winter
The Foot Experience:

  • Cold.  FREAKING COLD!:  It's not until you get home if you decide if your feet are still there or worth saving.
  • Slushy:  The worst for the barefoot and Vibram runner.  It's enough to send us back home, immediately and give up till spring.
  • Rocky:  No street-sweepers till March and plenty of rocks, rock salt, and torn up roads from snow removals.

Catch phrase:  "BRRRRRR!  What happen to my feet!"

What are your favorite running seasons?



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