Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sprinting Barefoot!

Hi folks! It has been a while since I last posted, but I'm still running barefoot (just not running as often). This Fall I started my first quarter studying history at CSU East Bay. To maximize my exercise time, I'm going weekly sprints instead of 3+ miles runs. Sprints are a great way for men to boost their testosterone, muscle mass, and VO2 max, and metabolism. They are also great to do barefooted, so give them a try!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hill Running Barefoot in Oakland

Well, I ventured off the beaten bath of Lake Merritt today and ran through the hilly Lake Merritt neighborhood to the south! The steep hills provided an excellent opportunity to work on strength training and technique. Currently I am running 3-miles with about 7.6 minutes miles. I recently started running almost everyday with a program integrating long runs, fartlek, sprints, and today, my first venture in hill running (at least barefoot) in order to improve my speed. While running uphill is great for building strength, I found that running downhill was especially good for technique and improving cadence. Faster cadence is important in barefoot running, and in order to run downhill you have to decrease resistance by increasing running cadence. After reaching the flatlands, I found that my technique was definitely smoother for the first several hundred yards. I will have to continue with more hill running practice to make the technique learned from running downhill into muscle memory. Oh, another great thing about running off the beaten path was less litter and less goose poop! I'm going to have get over there more often!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Working on technique

After reading a little bit more about technique from Barefoot Ken Bob's website. I realized that I was not relaxing my pelvis and shoulders enough as I ran, letting my body keeps is natural counterweight and balance. On my last 3+ mile run around Lake Merritt I focused on relaxing and felt a natural spring in every stride. I also conserved energy and just felt more relaxed, resulting in a very enjoyable run. I am starting to realize how many nuances there are to running efficiently that I have never payed attention to before. Running barefoot and using proper technique is like drinking a well brewed cup of quality coffee after drinking Foldgers all your life. At first it doesn't seem to taste very good, but pretty soon you can't stand anything else, and you want a better and better cup.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Running to work

After reading about Kenyan children running 1 to 5 miles to school and back everyday, I decided that I would try running to work and back, which is about 1.5 miles. If I start running to work everyday and run home for lunch, then I will automatically get 3 miles of running in everyday. I also have about 12 traffic lights in between my apartment and where I work in Oakland, so it provides for some good interval training! I used to ride my bike, but a 1.5 mile round trip on a bike isn't much of an exercise! By running to work instead, I will get a little more bang for my buck. Sure, I was a little sweatier the first day I ran, but not too bad. Running barefoot keeps you cooler than running with shoes. I will keep you posted on my progress and if I keep it up!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mendocino Coast Running

Last weekend my wife and I enjoyed our three year anniversary by camping at one of our favorite places in the world - the Mendocino Coast! Usually we camp at MacKerricher State Park, but we decided to try something new and camped at Jug Handle Creek Farm instead. It is a more primitive camping location, with two out houses and one fire-pit, but it is run by a non-profit organization that focuses on ecological education. It is also located next to an amazing five mile single-track trail that is an "an ecological staircase." In other words, the trail features five different types of terrain based on the five dominant water levels of the ocean over the past thousands of years. At any rate, it was an awesome trail for barefoot running! My feet were tingling from the excitement of the varied terrains.

I ran just after the rain, and a had a blast running through puddles and mud (never having to worry about my shoes getting wet), over soft beds of pine needles, over rocks, and across wooden board walks. I never knew that it was possible to experience my surroundings in a whole new way through the nerve endings in my feet! I would have to say that it was one of the funnest runs I have ever done. It was so enjoyable that the five miles only felt like one! I did end up with a few bruises on the soft part of my foot from landing on a couple of rocks, but they healed up after a couple of days. More importantly, I didn't experience the normal knee pain or shin splints I would have normally experienced after running on such a rigirous terrain.

After the trail run, I also had a chance to run on the beach. While running on the beach is not the best barefoot running practice, as it does not allow the body to develope sensitivity, it did allow me the opportunity to analyze my foot prints. What I noticed was that I was still "pushing off" rather than "pulling foward." I was then able to focus on lifting my feet to move foward, which produced a change in my foot prints in the sand. The prints became more evenly distributed and less indented into the sand. Ultimately the barefoot runner wants to "tread lightly." If one treads lightly on the earth, the inverse is true: that the earth is treading lightly on the runner (specifically his or her joints and bones).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

First month of barefoot running

Freeing, painful, funny stares from on-lookers, blisters, dirty feet, sore calves..these are all words that describe my first month as a new barefoot runner. My feet have been reborn! I have to give a special shout-out to Barefoot Ken Bob, who provided the bulk of the information I have been using to get started. His websited is under "The Basics" links to the right of this blog.

I live in Oakland, CA, so the biggest obstacle holding me back from barefoot running was the fear of stepping on broken glass and needles! Thankfully, I've learned that I can use an incredibly sophisticated technology known as the "eye-ball" to look for obstacles and avoid them. I did step on glass once, but it didn't cut me very badly at all.

I regularly run around Lake Merrit and enjoy all the funny looks and giggles I get as I run around the lake with no shirt on and no shoes! Honestly, I kind of enjoy the attention, but I am still waiting for somebody to ask me what it is all about. The experience of barefoot running has been wonderful for me so far. I have definitely earned my share of blisters as I learn how to listen to the nerve endings in my feet, but I haven't suffered any of the usual shin splints or knee pains. I can also tell that I am building strenth in muscles that I have never used before in my feet, toes, calves, and thighs.

I think the worst thing about barefoot running so far, is stepping in goose poop and who knows what else on heavily used trail around Lake Merrit. I end up wearing sandals into my apartment so that I don't track dirt in from my feet! However, I have also gone running on a few of the trails in the Regional Redwood Park, and it feels so good to run barefooted on the forest floor!

I have also been brining my sandals with me, that way if my feet get sensitive after a while, I can put them on and run the rest of the way lightly shod. My plan is to build a pair of Huaraches sandals to use on especially harsh terrain, which I have experienced in some areas of the Regional Redwoods (where there are lots of rock). There are full instructions on how to make Huaraches (and avoid the rediculously priced and marketed Vibram Five Fingered Shoes) in the links I have listed.

I hope you are enjoying this blog so far. Stay tunned for future updates and photos! Please leave your comments or questions about barefoot running!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting Started!

You may have landed on this blog searching about barefooted running, like I did about one month ago. I was curious about all the hype surrounding the new Vibram Five Fingers shoes, and was fed up with the rediculous prices of those and other shoes. After doing a little bit of research, I found out that you don't need shoes to run! In fact, running without shoes with the proper technique has been shown to reduce the harsh impact that shod runners typically experience. This is a blog about my adventures in Barefoot Running and a one stop resource for all of the information you will need to start barefoot running. Please stay tuned for my ongoing progress in running barefooted and visit the links to get started!