Monday, December 18, 2006

Global Warming and Running Barefoot

This is crazy. I am complaining about my ability to continue to run barefoot through December in New Jersey. If the Earth was right, I should not be able to run barefoot so much this late in December. Last year we had already had an 8" snow and a day off from school by now.

Friday, Saturday and today's runs were 100% barefoot. I ran six miles today on the road. The air temperature was 55 degrees Fahrenheit! Half of my mileage so far this month has been barefoot; though it has been relatively low, especially with six days devoted to a trip to Vail - where there is snow, thankfully. Last year, I did about 7 barefoot miles in the entire month of December. This year, I have done 22 so far; 15.5 within the last 4 days. We haven't seen a flake of natural snow yet in the Northeast. Looks like these temps are going to stick around for a while. Can't stand this global warming stuff. You can read in my other blog how I am writing about not skiing in the Catskills. But we will be there all next week. Looks like I am going to be able to wear flip-flops to the ski lodge!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time to Move On

It has been over a month now since the New York City Marathon. I skipped the two important category II races to complete my USATF-NJ Grand Prix in the weeks after the marathon. My training has been minimal. I spent 4 days skiing in Vail and have not been out running for 10 days straight. Even though Vail skiing is high altitude, and it was hard skiing with bumps and backcountry, all day nonstop, it isn't the same as running. This is entry is not about running barefoot, or running at all.

I have been following the Floyd Landis doping situation very closely. The best place for keeping up with the daily news and chatter about it, on both sides, is at the Trust But Verify blog, a.k.a. "TBV". (Today TBV linked to the great cartoon screen-captured at right. "Hand over the medal, Tortoise. Your "B" sample also tested positive....")

The case is emerging at an important time in drug testing for sports. I believe that the majority of the public at large and athletes think the general idea of drug testing to deter and punish cheaters is a necessity. However, the method and quality of enforcement seems to violate the rights of the athletes. Some become victims of bad tests, ambiguous test interpretations, rule changes they are not informed about, contaminated and mishandled samples, and accidental ingestion of banned substances because of manufacturer errors or misinformation. These athletes are found guilty and penalized as stringently as deliberate cheaters. The accidental positives have chemical values that would not result in performance enhancement. The deliberate cheaters have quantities hundreds to thousands of times higher than the accidental positives. See these recent outstanding LA Times articles for an excellent overview!

In July 2007, when I am putting in a lot of barefoot miles, I want to be able to see Landis race, fully recovered from his hip replacement. After reading most of the case documents that have been made available, and following all the Internet analysis and discussions centered around Landis, I believe his high ratio of testosterone test result is an error. He should be in the Tour de France in the summer of 2007, defending his 2006 win. If he and Basso and Ulrich and Vino get to be there, it is going to be an awesome few weeks.

It is time for the sport of cycling to move on. Anti-doping procedures and protocols need to be changed to be fair for all athletes.

And It is time for my own training to move on to the next set of progressive goals:
  1. Resume running in an "active rest" cycle for the next 10 days before our annual Christmas-New Year's Day ski trip.
  2. On January 1st, begin a build up for possibly running the Boston Marathon.
  3. January-February run from work 3X per week at least 10 miles, plus the Wednesday night club run, while still getting the ski weekends in regularly.
  4. Enter Boston on February 20th if the run-from-work strategy works.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The New York City Marathon

I have waited a week before posting my account of the New York City Marathon. I guess I needed it to ferment in my mind before I really realized what my response to the marathon would be.

Right off let me say that I ran the race wearing shoes. I wore Reebok Circa Waffle cross-country shoes, insoles ripped out. They are very flat and minimal. One guy did the marathon barefoot. And the shoes did give me some trouble - I had to pull over and loosen my left shoe because I had pain under the ball of my foot because the shoe felt too tight. My foot must have swelled, because this wasn't until after the 59th street bridge.

My finishing chip-time was 3:19:28. That was way slower than my 3-hour goal. Part of the reason that I entered was because I wanted to run with Lance Armstrong. That didn't happen. For a lot of the race I was only a few minutes behind him. There were a lot of spectators yelling stuff like, "Lance is right in front of you!" But a non-runner doesn't realize that a few minutes is really quite a distance. I never saw the media entourage following Lance at all. Despite not hitting my goal, which I am a little disappointed about, it was a great experience and I can pull a lot of positives out of it.

First of all, though this is my 15th marathon, I haven't run a marathon for about 12 years. The last time I ran New York was 1986, 20 years ago. I ran 3:41 in 1986 and I ran 2:48 in 1985. The 3:41 was a negative split after running the first half with my friend Paul G. So at least, by finishing, I have a 40's PR.

Second, I remembered a bunch of stuff. Like I remembered how much a marathon hurts, compared to anything in the 5K-half-marathon range. I remembered how difficult the NYC Marathon course is. One does not think of New York City as a particularly hilly area. But the bridges, Central Park, and even 1st Avenue are quite a factor. The 59th Street Bridge, was especially difficult. It is about a mile of constant up-hill.

Third, I realized that even though I had more mileage behind me this year than in the last couple of years, I need to run faster long runs. My pace early on seemed easy, but that was just because I was tapered and the weather was so perfect. In reality, I was over my head to try maintaining sub-7 minute pace for 26 miles. All my long runs were too slow to expect that to happen. You can see below my analysis of my early great form, and subsequent decay.

I ran a great 30K - which is ironically the length of two trail races I did this summer with no problem, the Double-Trouble 30K and the Escarpment Trail Run. Each 5K after the first 30 was slower by three minutes! That means in 30-35K I ran one minute per mile slower than I did in my first 30, then in 35-40K I ran two minutes per mile slower than I had for the first 30. That is quite a slowdown. If I paced for a 3:08 or so from the start, I might have made it.

While running during the last few miles I knew I was damaging my muscles. I didn't want that to happen, considering that I want to run a good 15K next weekend to complete my Grand Prix. I actually thought about dropping out, but realized that as a president of a running club, that would not be a good example nor a good story to tell to the members of the club. During miles 24 and 25 I walked through the water stations, and probably another 100 yards after them, and I walked a little up the last steep roller in Central Park. You can see that I am walking in one of the photos by Brightroom here:
I am looking back to make sure nobody is coming up to run into my slow walking body. The Central Park spectators are deep and they do not let you walk for very long! I did run the entire way after hitting mile 25. But you can see my "Red Zone" info above, the pace there was 9:02/mile.

The second marathon on marathon day is getting to your bag of stuff in the UPS trucks from the starting area, and getting to the ride home. After crossing the finish line in Central Park, there is about a hundred yards of rehydrators, medal and solar blanket givers, chip clippers, photographers, medical help. Then the UPS trucks start. They are simply parked on the park road, starting with truck #1, then continuing numerically. First thing I did was take off my shoes and began the long slog. My stuff was in truck #26. It felt literally like a second marathon walking to #26. I felt really sorry for the people that had truck numbers as high as the seventies! Once I got my stuff, I exited the park at about 75th street & Central Park West. The church where the busses were was on 60th & Columbus Avenue. So I had to walk the 15 blocks back down to 60th.

It was nice that in the basement of the church there was warmth, bathrooms, food and massage therapists. I was one of the first ones arriving at the church, so I had plenty of time to get myself together. I toweled off, changed, ate and got a massage. This was good. After about an hour I felt pretty normal. Others got to the church, there was much congratulations, war stories, conversations. We left the church at about 5:30, but it took a couple of hours to get home because the driver got a little lost in the city. School bus seats hurt when it takes that long to get home after a marathon!

I think I will do it again to get it right next year, if I can get in. I think I have a qualifying half-marathon time again from Liberty. If I can pull off my run-to-work plan this winter, I would even consider running Boston, since my NYC time qualifies me.

One thing I have to note about New York, is that running that race takes a financial toll as well as a physical toll. It costs $9 to process an entry, then the entry fee is still an additional $109. I paid $50 for bussing to the starting line and back to Cranford. It cost $12 in train fare to get into New York to pick up my number. That is $180, not including incidentals like PowerGel.

Another toll the marathon takes is one of your time. And I am not talking about the time spent training. As the marathon approached, I spent a lot of nervous energy on Friday night preparing for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I went to the expo, then to some family activities which I didn't get home from until about midnight. I had to pack my marathon bags and didn't go to sleep until about 1:30 AM! Waking at 6:30, then not arriving home from the marathon day until about 9 PM. The weekend of the marathon just sucks you into it and becomes all encompassing.

My recovery is good. Last week I took a couple mile walk on Tuesday, and I ran 5 miles barefoot on the road on Thursday. Friday I ran easy about 15 minutes, and Saturday I did 55 minutes on the D&R Towpath in the morning (shod), and another 15 minutes in the afternoon, barefoot on pavement. Today I ran the Giralda Farms 10K at 41:04. During the race my legs felt fine, just not too fast.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Barefoot at The Library

j milliken wrote at the Yahoo! Group:

I voted on Tuesday. Then I got kicked out of the building. It was a library.

"Where are your shoes? Do you have any shoes? Come with me."

I was taken to the reference desk. The reference librarian stared alternately at me and into space. Another librarian at the adjacent desk said, quietly, as an aside, "It's not really a rule."

This brought a third librarian bursting out of the back room. "It is too a rule. It exists for health considerations."

I was given a blue card with crimes on one side that are absolutely not allowed in libraries: public sex acts, flashing, molestation, theft.

On the back there was a very long list of unacceptable behaviors. Failure to wear shoes was one. Also, sleeping and bathing in the library, having hygiene so horrible it is a nuisance to others, beating your child so hard you injure it, putting your feet up, etc.

I responded:

I have a good relationship with our small library in my town. I have been going often since my oldest kid was about 3 - that is about 10 years. The library has probably saved us thousands of dollars in books and CD's. The librarians recognize me, some speak to me by name, and one even waves and says hello when I am running and she is out on her daily exercise walk.

I had been going to the library barefoot with no problem for a while, then one day last summer, while picking up some holds, a familiar librarian said to me, "I'm going to have to ask you to start wearing shoes when you come in." When I asked why, she said it was because books could fall off a shelf and land on my foot and injure it. I tried to explain that there were both librarians and patrons wearing flip-flops, and that those would not prevent such injury. Also that there is a near zero probability of a book falling off a shelf in the library because earthquakes are rare in NJ, and asked her if that had that ever actually happened to anyone, shod or not. She then added that an additional reason was that if she let me be barefoot, she would have to let the teenagers come in barefoot in the summer. I asked what was so bad about that, that at least teenagers were coming to the library.... but I let it go at that and said I would bring flip-flops next time. So that is what I do now.

Floyd Landis: Why Do I Care?

I have really been trying to figure out why I care so much about the Floyd Landis doping allegations. The story is very engrossing, starting with Floyd's horrible ride in the mountains at the Tour this summer, followed by his outrageous ride, then the announcement that he had a bad urine sample, then all the problems that have been revealed about the entire procedure. With the comments and rumors available on the Internet about the power brokers and conspiracy behind professional cycling, it reads like an unfolding novel! Here is something from today -

Trial in Cofidis affair opens window into cycling's doping culture

Doping has plagued cycling for years but has hit the sport particularly hard in 2006. A Spanish doping investigation led to nine riders _ including pre-race favorites Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich _ being barred from the Tour de France.

The Tour winner, Floyd Landis, tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone and is no longer considered the champion by race organizers. He denies doping and is contesting the charges.

This is by an AP writer who seemed to cover some TDF stories this summer, yet it is inaccurate on several counts. If not the writer, at least the editor who lets these things through should research the implied "facts" before going to print with a story!

First, Landis's level was not "excessive", rather the test alleges that the ratio of two types of testosterone were too far apart. That may mean that one type was too low. Additionally, there are too many problems with the test procedures, with the mathematics used to interpret the results, and the with samples themselves to even list here. See the current status updated several times daily here.

Secondly, Landis is still considered the champion, unless he loses his appeal - which, many observers agree, he has a good chance of winning. Landis is still listed as the winner at the official TDF web site.

And what does this have to do with running barefoot? Perhaps it is similar because of the way so many people think that just walking around during one's daily routine barefoot is a lot like being accused of doping in cycling. The self-appointed shoe police accuse barefooters of doing something that they believe is not good for the public health. Once accused, the barefooter has to prove his or her innocence. And that is the way it is in cycling with doping allegations - the doping police can accuse without much cause, and then the accused must prove innocence. That is not the way justice is supposed to work in the civilized world, or so I thought. Guilt has to be proved by the accuser. In cycling's case, the accuser is depending on tests to prove the guilt - but the tests in Landis's case don't look any more reliable than those winning lottery emails I get every day.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Was it the tree branch or the aluminum can?

Stepped on two things today that hurt while running on the grass at Greenbrook Park.

Thing one was a tree branch. There was a lot of wind yesterday. The wind brought down a lot of sticks. I was just running happily along and all of a sudden crack - I was breaking a knobby branch under my foot.

Thing two was a compactly crushed old aluminum soda can. Couldn't do much about that one.

So when I got home I felt a little damp under my right foot, and sure enough I had a flap of skin torn away under the middle of my foot. It was bleeding just a little. Took a photo for the blog. After satisfying my carb craving with some juice and some fig bars, I took a shower and cleaned it well, then put a band aid on it. And I have been wearing socks tonight around the house, just to keep it clean. Don't want to jeopardize my New York Marathon on Sunday!

Can't decide if it was the branch or the can that did it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Barefoot Ted's Adventures: Barefooting the Grand Canyon

Barefoot Ted's Adventures: Barefooting the Grand Canyon: "If you ask the question, 'Can one run down the Grand Canyon barefoot?', the answer would be yes. If you ask the question, 'Should one run down the Grand Canyon barefoot?', the answer should be, 'Hell no!'"

Ted has done something I have dreamed of doing since 1995 - and he did it barefoot! In '95 I would have never dreamed that. And if I went to the Grand Canyon today, I would do it in shoes. I don't think I could handle the trail barefoot. Ted didn't really make his goal of a rim-to-rim run, but considering the problems his group had to overcome, getting rim to river and back barefoot is still awesome!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Eniva VIBE

It is amazing that this stuff is not illegal. I have been using Eniva VIBE since last Friday. I can definitely report that my runs take less effort and my recovery has been amazing. I believe my body is using fuel and oxygen more efficiently. Not only do I notice this while I am running, but I notice it all the time. My breathing rate and heart rate is lower during everyday activities and I feel full of air as if my lungs are more inflated - just walking feels like I am pulled up by this inflation as if I was a floating balloon. I have not changed my eating patterns. I have continued to eat normally, yet lost some weight, and I am not experiencing hunger and carb highs or lows, as I had been tending to previously. I feel much more wide awake, without the use of several cups of coffee, even though I have not added extra sleep. My tendonitis in my Achilles continues to improve. All this while increasing mileage!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My Left Foot

When I run barefoot on pavement lately, my left foot feels less perfect than my right foot. On pavement, it seems to pick up more twisting friction at lift-off, and has a slight amount of landing friction, kinda like I am gliding forward into the landing with that foot. Before relearning to run barefoot, I had left ankle sprain issues, which was one of the factors that led me to run barefoot. Also, the extra friction thing only started this summer, around the same time I had some (now improving) Achilles tendon / PF issues. Perhaps it is a contributing factor. Also, I have been more "up on my toes" than ever before this summer - an evolution, this being my 3rd running barefoot. Last week, I noticed I do not have these twist and landing friction issues on grass. (Yeah, completely different surface features, but it is more than that. Read on...) So within the last week I have analyzed what I do different on grass as opposed to roads. I ran on that grassy strip between the road and the sidewalk, then would switch to the road or sidewalk, then back to the grassy strip. Here is what I can tell: On grass I twist my upper body slightly more when my left foot lands and lifts. That is to say, that my left shoulder travels a little more forward and back - It is a matter of about an inch difference each way. I don't know why this is. When I carry it over to the road, then I have no extra friction. But I still have to think about it. In a few weeks it will probably become autonomic. Perhaps the body twisting compensates for the foot twisting? I could not be sure of the biomechanics without complicated high speed digital imaging and computer footstrike analysis, but it feels right to me.

Vertical torso, but allow it to twist. Hips rotate with your legs, shoulders rotate with your arms."

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Racing 101

Here's some instructions that should make you look like an experienced racer and ease you into the racing scene:
Get there early and well hydrated.
Check in ASAP. Use the porta-pottie ASAP.
Warm up by running the last mile of the course backwards from the finish line, then turn around and come back. (I mean you run the course in the opposite direction, not actually running backwards...) It always pays to know what the end looks like, when you are hoping for the finish line to hurry up and appear!
Make sure you wear the race shirt they give you and pin the number on your back making sure to pin that big hole on the tear off section.
Line up right on the front line with all the fast guys.
Go out at 5:20 pace for the first half mile or so, then realize you are over your head, and slow down.
Whenever anyone passes you, compliment them on how good they are lookin' - tell them to go get that guy that just passed you a couple of seconds prior.
When the first female passes you, try to hang onto her to protect your ego. Plus watching her butt makes the running a little easier.
Let her go when you realize 5:40 pace is still over your head.
When you get to a water stop, cut over in front of somebody running faster than you without warning, and spill the water all over the volunteer. Stop suddenly and walk while you drink. Throw the cup on somebody's front lawn.
Throw up on yourself.
Walk for a few minutes. Try to remember where you can cut a few blocks off the course. Decide not to.
Start to run easy again, hopefully downhill.
Pick it up a little. See mile marker for 3 miles. Check your watch and swear it is inaccurately long.
Pick it up some more. Recognize that last mile you ran for warm-up. Pick it up some more.
Sprint when you are about 100 yards from the finish line! Don't believe the time on that clock, it must be wrong. Pass as many people as possible in the finishing chute, simply because of the momentum generated in your sprint, then stop dead in the finish chute, hands on your knees and breathe for a minute. Wonder why the volunteers are pushing you along and tugging hard at the number on your back.
Proceed to the refreshment table immediately - you don't need a cool down - and take 5 or six of everything. Stuff your face and bring the rest home with you.

Good luck~!

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Best Barefoot Race!

The USATF-NJ 8K XC Championship was yesterday. I ran it barefoot. I ran 32:49, was 2nd in my age group, and was 4th man on the winning open team and 3rd man on the winning masters 40's team!

Washington Crossing State Park was a new venue for this event. In previous years it was at Deer Path Park. Last year at Deer path, I ran the last couple of miles barefoot, after whipping off my spikes on the side of the course. I needed shoes there for the first few miles because of some gravel sections of the course that would have slowed me down too much without shoes. I ran almost a minute faster on that course last year, however my time this year may speak to the difficulty of the course, because a bunch of people that were in front of me last year were behind me this year. This new course is a three-lap course, with a decent amount of hill running each lap.

I am so glad I decided to go barefoot. I wasn't going to at first when I began my warmup and course checkout. I ran one lap and didn't feel that I could maintain race pace through one wooded section, full of roots and pine cones. The rest of the course was pretty much grassy trails, which was perfect. After my first lap warm up, I ran into a friend who wanted me to run another lap with him. I did - this time faster than the first lap, and I had no problem maintaining comfortable faster running throughout the section I was initially worried about. So my decision to go barefoot was easy.

And here is an interesting observation about the Achilles issue that has been bothering me on my left side. I am feeling very little pain from it today. The issue was one where the pain would migrate around my Achilles and under my foot to feel more like plantar faciitis. It changes day-to-day and even during the course of a single run. Over time, it has begun to feel more like classic PF. One would think that the day after a barefoot race that it would hurt a lot. As I said before, today it hurts less than it has for a while. I am thinking that wearing shoes is what actually aggravates it. Perhaps because I tend to run faster in shoes and I put more strain on the tendons? Or perhaps any heel elevation - no matter how slight - causes my calf and Achilles to stretch less each time my foot lands, and also contributes to my tightness in my hamstring?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ten BF Yesterday after racing on Sunday!

Today I have DOMS = Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. I've got nothing to complain about. I haven't raced since early August. I jumped into the Joel P. Spector 10K with nothing but easy distance running, and ran 38:29. I am glad certain people were behind me that I worry about for the USATF-NJ Grand Prix. I wore my Saucony Killkenny XC flats for a road race. They worked great. I had little to no Achilles pain during the race, but had some during a 5 mile cool down.

Then yesterday was a perfect barefoot day. And for some reason I felt very good, so I ran 10 barefoot miles at Greenbrook Park. The grass was long and cool, and ground is finally saturated with moisture.

Can you see why I have DOMS today? It is because I should have forced a shorter run yesterday. But with an 8K XC championship race this coming Sunday, I need to maintain distance for the NYC Marathon by getting in lots of distance from Monday through Thursday. Hopefully, I will recover in time for the XC race!

Monday, September 04, 2006

BarefootSoles asked: "Anyone ever step on a nail?"

No, but I have nailed on a step...
...Here's one outa left field - but first go out to your car, remove one of the floor mats, turn it over, and press your hand against the bottom side... ...Ok, so you're back?.... Read on:
On Sunday I was running at the New Jersey shore after we were hit with what was left of tropical storm Ernesto. Our condo was on the bay side, so to get to the beach I had to do about 1.5 miles on the sidewalks and over a drawbridge. Probably from the storm, there was a car's floor mat at the beginning of the drawbridge, where it started to incline. The floor mat was clear plastic, and it was UPSIDE DOWN with thousands of small nail-like pointy things sticking up. I figured they wouldn't be cool to step on, so I ran around it and continued on to my out-and-back mostly beach 10 miler with no problem. But, on my way back, maybe a little fatigued, and running down the bridge, after going around a family on bikes in the narrow walkway, my left foot landed squarely on the upside down floor mat - and it wasn't anything like laying on a bed of nails, as I was hoping, where the pressure is so spread out over each individual point it becomes negligible - it hurt like hell (for a second). My loud "OUCH" scattered a few seagulls...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Running During Tropical Storm Ernesto

It was still raining and blowing fairly hard this morning in Ventnor, where we are visiting. I went for a run fairly late, about 10:15 AM, on the Ventnor boardwalk into Atlantic City. This was an out-and-back run, first half going north. I was running into the wind. Sometimes the wind was about 50 MPH. It was more concentrated around the bigger buildings. It slowed my running down and I felt like a kite ready to take off. The wind drove the raindrops and sometimes sand hard enough to hurt.

I ran a few blocks on the beach itself. The ocean was wild and rough. The surf was big breakers from far out. Foam blew across the beach from the waves.

One great thing about this run was I could run right down the middle of the boardwalk in AC. Normally I would have to be running around people and avoiding ones walking towards me at this time. It was also cool to see the few runners besides me who were gutting out the conditions. And some of the people on the boardwalk were surprised to see me run by.

It took me about 43 minutes to get to the Taj boardwalk overpass. Then after the turnaround with the wind at my back I was able to run much faster. It was effortless flying for a while! Amazingly, after some of the heaviest rain intervals, the wind stopped as if Someone flicked an off switch. For the final 20 minutes or so, the weather turned calm. Still, it took me only 36 minutes to get back.

This was a good workout for my head. It is days like this that make me think I am getting ahead of others who might skip a workout.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Heel Pain and The Miracle of Ice

I have a confession to make: I have had a heel issue for about a month. I think it started at the Escarpment Trail Run. This is a 30K trail race in the Catskills, over 3 major mountains, with about 10,000 feet of climbing. The trail is continually rocky, and it was wet this year. The rocks were slippery. Though it was cooler this year than in 2005, most people that ran it last year and this ran slower this year. I ran a little faster: 4:09 this year, 4:15 last year. I really wanted to go under 4 hours, but I saw that slip away. The down hills hurt more than the up hills again, but after going out much too fast in 2005, I learned to walk the hills much earlier this time.

Anyway, I kinda ignored the little twinges in my heel at that time and continued with 3 more races over the next week. The following Tuesday night was the RVRR Summer Series 5K XC race, which I ran fairly fast. Then the very next weekend was the River To Sea Relay. In that, I ran both of my major legs fairly fast, plus stepped in for half of another guy's leg. Totaled about 17 miles of race-pace running on that day. By then the heel pain was increased a bit. I continued to ignore it, though, and my training had not been too heavy for a couple of weeks after that. Yet the pain persisted. I am fairly sure it is not PF, but just some Achilles tendonitis. The pain was kind of moving around. And it would hurt less when warmed up. By the beginning of this week it was hurting with every step, which isn't good.... So I decided it was time to do something about it!

This week I am happy because I shot my mileage up, but paid attention to the pain. All I did was ice it a couple of times per day, and I have been able to both increase mileage and reduce the pain. I will have a 60 mile week and an almost healed heel.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Three in Five

I have reported here and elsewhere before that I have only done two half-races barefoot, removing my shoes half-way through an 8K XC race and a road 10K. However, last Tuesday, I did an entire 5K XC race barefoot, winning my age group in 20:25. I almost chickened out, after warming up barefoot and then putting on XC shoes. But the shoes felt restricting, and I figured if I ran barefoot it would actually force me to go easy. See, I wanted to recover from The Double Trouble 30K trail race I had done two days prior, where I also won my age group (wearing XC shoes). Then I completed a The Sunset Classic 5 mile road race on Thursday, my 3rd race in 5 days, in 31:30 (shod).

Sunday, June 25, 2006

11th at Double Trouble - 1st AG

Double Trouble 30K Results

The Double Trouble race is made up of two 15K laps in French Creek State Park, PA. Runners can either finish at 15K or 30K, and they don't have to declare what they intend to run up front. It is a fun concept, and Ron Horn, race director, keeps it very comic in so many ways. He makes the runners recite the Double Trouble pledge which pits taunts between 15K and 30K intentions. He gives head starts to runners who come from farthest away or were recently in the armed service overseas. It had been raining the entire week going into the race. It wasn't raining when the race started, but it did during the race. So I wore the Reebok Circa XC shoes.

I ran the first 15K lap in 1:19, and the second 15K lap in 1:27. During the first lap, I just kept thinking, "This 15K is just a warm-up." I walked before I had to if I felt the uphill was putting the lactic acid into my legs. To avoid killing my legs too early, my thinking was often, "Use the uphill for recovery." During the first 15K, I tried to avoid mud and puddles. During the 2nd 15K, I just plowed through all the mud and water. I was so full of mud after the race that I simply threw my socks in the trash. I was kinda mad that the two guys in front of me passed me about 1.5 miles from the finish, and I was o so close at passing them back before the finish line. I was gaining on them, but ran out of road. This was great preparation for the Escarpment Trail Run!

Friday, June 23, 2006


Really hot and humid in NJ today. Felt bad on the run today. Legs felt fatigued, even though I did not run yesterday. More fatigue makes running barefoot less comfortable. Didn't feel comfortable on the grass because lack of rain has made it hard and clumpy. Didn't feel comfortable on the pavement. I am thinking that running barefoot is a fine motor skill, and that fatigue makes it more difficult because the accuracy of the fine movements and muscular balance is upset.

I am not going to make my mileage goal this week for the first time since I created a NYC marathon plan and began to execute it on the first of May. I am not going to make it because I totally missed two days, working at camp at night. With a 30K trail race on Sunday, I should probably only run 4 yesterday and get a couple of long nights of sleeping.

Why am I feeling so fatigued? Stress of ending school and starting camp? Stress of doing more mileage than I planned for the past few weeks catching up with me? From racing on Monday night, drinking beer afterwards, staying out late, then doing a short interval workout on Wednesday? Probably a little bit of all of the above.

I am going to avoid being a slave to my training plan by listening to my body: Run short and slow tomorrow morning so I don't mess up the race on Sunday.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Double Trouble Plan

I am running the Double Trouble 30K trail race on Sunday. Sherrie asked me what shoes I was going to wear. I am not ready for a trail race barefoot! This was my response ~
Remember, I suffer from early-onset CRS, so don't take this as gospel: The trail varies - mostly Watchung Reservation-like. There is about 1/2 mile on pavement each lap. I think there is even about 1/2 mile of bushwacking. A couple of miles on easy fire-roads. All of which one actually experiences at Watchung Reservation, coincidentally.

Last year I wore road racing flats, Mizuno Spacer. My feet felt fine, but thought they lacked traction: Some of the rocks were damp in the morning and had green algae on them and were a little slippery for the racing flats. Not to say trail shoes would have done any better. They also incurred unexpected tread damage - some separation of the harder rubber that is glued to the lighter midsole rubber.

This year I plan to wear either Mizuno Kaze XC or Reebok Circa XC shoes. They both have rubber "spikes", but are warn down a bit. They are very low to the ground. I will use the Kaze if it is dry, or the Reebok if it is raining, because I think they will be better in the mud. I have not done rocky trails with either shoe, but they have been fine on the towpath. I have a little more confidence in the Kaze because I used them twice for 15 miles, and they were fine. Reeboks only one long run of 13. Plus the Reeboks have thinner soles, and I use them without insoles, but they have better treads overall, which is why I would wear them if it is raining. But it will probably not rain. The Kaze have plastic under the arch, so they will be more protective. This race is practice for the Escarpment Trail Run for me. If the Kaze perform well, I will use a new pair of them that I have still in the box at Escarpment.

For that location in PA, shows a high of only 71 on Sunday ! Which is the third day of scattered T-storms. So I suppose the trails might be a little damp.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Comments While Running Barefoot

I needed a longish run on Friday, so I decided to head out for a 4 mile road loop west before hitting the grass for about 5 more. I am at a point where I feel I can run barefoot on roads at training paces just about anywhere, as long as I don't attempt it two days in a row. So this 4 mile road loop heads right down the main street in Dunellen on the way back. I was psyched that I was taking barefoot running right down the main street during a busy time, about 5:30 PM. I only got two comments. The first was from a woman pushing a stroller, walking with a guy. That group squeezed me over a little, and the woman unexpectedly said, after I passed, "I run just like that too!" I am assuming she meant barefooted. The second comment was out of a rolled-down car window. It was an older car, like a 1980's Buick. Guy slows down, leans his head out the window - I had the impression that he needed a shave, had a fat face, and was probably a smoker that may have even been drunk at the time, on his way home from his post-work bar stop - and the guy yells, "Hey, you forgot your shoes!" LOL what an ass........

Anyway, this hot Father's Day morning I was almost home at the end of a 5 miler. A woman walking a dog sees me approaching and says, "Doesn't that hurt your feet?" I reply, "No, it feels great, take off your shoes and walk barefoot!" She said, "O, I do!" I guess she just wasn't doing it this morning.....

Friday, June 16, 2006

Early Mornings & Late Nights

The majority of my runs from my home take place between 4:30 PM and 6:30 PM. Which is fine. I think my body is able to work at its peak during those hours. There is usually ample daylight, but also there is usually the most traffic. But this entry is supposed to be about a couple of runs that I did this week that reminded me of the beauty and serenity of early morning and late night runs.

On Wednesday night, I didn't get out until 9:30 PM because of obligations at home. There had been a light thunder storm in the early evening. The storm cleared out the heat of the day an left the pavement a bit damp. The air still had a lot of moisture in it, and it became that kind of atmosphere where it seems like you can hear little things clearly and sharply - like somebody sneezing inside the house down the street; like a phone ringing on the next block; like a dog barking across town. There were few cars, few stars, and the streetlights carried their light a greater distance from refraction in the moist air and reflection off the damp surfaces. This was a most enjoyable 5 miles. It reminded me of a poem I wrote in 1978, but I can't find a digital copy of it on this computer. I found this, though, with a similar sentiment, and I could have been reminded of it had I remembered writing it in 1993.

The next morning, Thursday, I did a run at 6:15-7 AM. It was barefoot through the wet dew in Greenbrook park. I wrote about it yesterday. It was a very enjoyable run, done at a time that I have been known to say that I hate running. But it set up a day for me during which I felt more awake and productive than usual. It is like when I used to ride my bike to work in my triathlon days, before kids. People used to actually get upset that I was so awake and happy in the morning. I think I will continue these morning runs, if I can get up for them, every-other day perhaps. Even though I layed out my shorts and shirt for a run this morning, when the alarm went off at 6:00 AM, I felt the need to just roll over and sleep until 7:15.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Am In The Home News Tribune Today!

My 15 minutes of fame - Vera Stek's Running Column in the Home News Tribune today. I think the editor cut some stuff, because the last couple of paragraphs are too long and the quotation marks don't exactly make sense.

Here is the on-line article.

Here is the actual, unedited interview in its entirety.

I ran barefoot in Greenbrook Park this morning, 6:15-7 AM. I saw a doe and a tiny fawn on the other side of the Green Brook, which my route parallels. It was the smallest fawn I have ever seen. It looked to be about the size of a medium dog. They stood still and stared at me, probably believing that if they just stood like that, then I wouldn't see them. When I got farther upstream, crossed the bridge, and ran parallel to the brook back towards where the doe and fawn had been, they were gone.

For the last week or so the birds have been practically attacking me as I run by their bushes in the park. They fly above my head, maybe 10 feet up, and squawk loud for a good 30 or 40 yards. It must be hatching time. But I have been running in this park for years and I don't remember them ever being so aggressive. I wave my fist at them and yell back at them that they are safe and I will not bother their families - and to please not crap on my head.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

RVRR Summer Series #1

Ran the first of four RVRR Summer Series XC races last night. My 12-year-old son was 2nd in the Youth 1/2 mile event. I warmed-up and cooled-down barefoot, but the new course went over some roads strewn with gravel, and barefoot racing would have slowed me down.

Unlike past years, the Youth Series races and the Summer Series 5K XC started in the same area, at the "north" end of the park; i.e. towards the right after you drive in. I remember that the Summer Series started there in the 1980's & 90's, so it was sort of a flashback situation for an aging few of us.

The Youth Series was fun for all as usual. Thanks to all the volunteers, parents, and directors Rosemarie and Mark Strawn.

The 5K XC followed. From a parent's perspective, I think it was GREAT that both races started in the same area. It as so much easier than having to get to the other end of the park for the 5K after helping out and watching the Youth races. I can't remember the last time I was actually entered early and warmed up properly for the Summer Series! It allowed volunteers to easily work both races, and it allowed all those impressionable young kids see that adults can continue to enjoy this sport throughout their lives. The course was still basically a two lap affair, but it overlapped the central gathering area four times, because of the placement of the starting line and a quick loopback at the end. Like international cross-country events, it allowed spectators to stay in one place and cheer for people four times. Since the hills were at a different point in the race that I was used to, I learned quickly that I went out too fast, drawn into it by the early flats. My slightly sub-6 minute first mile slowed to an average of 6:23 by the end of the race! I wonder how many other runners experienced such a steep learning curve last night.....

My full account here.

Results here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sunday's Barefoot Adventures

Got up at 6:45. Ran 4.5 barefoot on grass. Went to staff training at LVDC, but the camp director asked me to put something on my feet. I had to wear flip-flops for some of the time, but I removed them whenever we were seated and when I was with my own staff separated from the rest of the staff. Got home about 4 PM and cut my grass barefoot. Went for a second run about 6 miles, barefoot, 5 miles of it was on the road. And I was going quite fast. Like I felt like I can do a race barefoot without damage, given roads that have some decent pavement. I might try to run the 5K Summer Series XC race tonight barefoot. I have done a lot of barefoot running in Donaldson Park at this point, but I will have to checkout the course and make a final decision. It would be very cool to run a fast XC race, maybe place in my age group barefoot.

When I cut the grass barefoot, my feet get green. When I followed the grass cutting with the run on pavement, the green coating wore off and left my feet with some strange coloration effects. I took some photos of them. Am I weird for photographing my bare feet? It is kind of a fossil record of my runs. I used to examine the wear patterns and the extent of wear on the bottom of my running shoes. I don't seem to do that much anymore....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Running with Lance

In my last post I pasted my archived results from the NYC Marathon Web Site. I have not been in that race for 20 years! In 1986 I ran 3:41 and in 1985 I ran 2:48. The reason for the large time disparity is because I had different reasons for running each race. In 1985 I ran the race seriously. I learned how much energy you have to spend just getting to the starting line. In 1986 I ran with Paul G., purposely starting towards the back, purposely out there to enjoy the journey. Both Paul and I stopped on the Varrazano Narrows Bridge to urinate from such a great height. We were two of hundreds doing the same thing. The urine evaporates before reaching the river, I hear. The NYC Marathon running crowd was so thick at the start in that part of the pack, even 21 years ago, that running was difficult. The crowd is tight, and you literally have to run diagonally down the streets to pass people. I think I ran with Paul for about 10 miles, then I couldn't stand the slow pace at that point. I started to work at passing people in that diagonal fashion. I probably ran an extra half mile in diagonals.

So I am in NYC 2006. I bypassed the lottery because I had a qualifying 1:25 time last year at the Liberty Half-Marathon. I have been focused at getting long mileage into my running program again. I am using summer 5K's as my speedwork, trying to ignore pre-race tapering, even for just a day. My plan is to run well at four long events between now and NYC. While I am tapering for NYC, to also run fast at shorter events in the two weekends preceding NYC. I want to run 2:55 at the slowest at NYC.

One of the reasons I was motivated to return to the marathon distance after all these years is when Lance Armstrong stated his intention to run it. Hell, I wanna run with Lance! I am sure there are a thousand Lance fans that want to run with him. He will probably be in the middle of a media cloud during the race. But what other opportunity will I, and the other thousands of Lance fans there, have to run with Lance? We will toe-the-line with equal footing. Just think, me and one of the greatest athletes of my lifetime, competing in the same event. What an awesome situation!

Friday, May 26, 2006

I Had to Laugh

A runner friend of mine gets this mailer sent to him by St. Peter's University Hospital.

The lead story on the Community Calendar in this mailer for April (I have been meaning to post this for a while...) was titled "FOR FEET'S SAKE".... Well, he read it and thought of me, because of one of the points that jumped out at him....
Thankfully, the same feature is on their web site.

The article begins with, "Spring is here, which means days are becoming longer, flowers are sprouting, and your feet are longing to get out of the heavy winter shoes you've been wearing." ...looks promising, eh?....

...but the 4th bullet says, "PROTECT THEM: Never walk barefoot indoors or outdoors. It puts you at risk for injury and infection."


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Feeling Like a Barefoot Superman

Yesterday I ran for an hour and 32 minutes without shoes on - about 12 miles! I believe that is a barefoot PR for me. The first 3.5 miles were on the road, west from my house, through Dunellen and back to Greenbrook Park. The next 5.5 miles were on grass in the park and included 5 intervals at 5K race pace along the brook @ about 2:15 each with about 4 minute recoveries. And the recovery was at about 7:45 pace.

There was a group of urchins, boys and girls, about 10-12 years old walking around at the park. As I approached them from behind, I saw one boy throw a rock for fun. After I ran by, I heard a rock land maybe 10 yards behind me and the girls laughed. Even though it missed me by a longshot, I wasn't going to let this one slide. These kids need some parenting, and it is a shame that their parents have not taught them better. I turned around and yelled at them. I said, "You don't throw rocks at people!" "I didn't," said one boy. The girls laughed again. "Do you have parents here?" I asked them, because there were some adults in the parking lot 75 yards or so from there, leaving from a softball game that had been taking place. They said they didn't. I concluded with the brilliant statement, "Use your brains!" and continued my run.

I make it a point to "own" Greenbrook Park. Especially the part where I do most of my barefoot-on-grass laps. I run there almost an average of every-other day. There are people who come for softball, baseball and football, depending on the season. They are mostly from Plainfield recreation programs, mostly black and Latino, from a background of hard city life. It isn't everyone from these groups that are annoying, but there are usually a number of people within each group that qualify as crass and rude. I feel that those people are inconsiderate interlopers, because they usually leave trash - I picked up a Gatorade bottle and got it into the trash after that softball game yesterday, for example - and often have something negative to say about a barefoot white guy looping the park.

Besides those team-sport interlopers, there are the dog walkers. They are not so bad. Some of the dog-walkers are regulars, same time, same dog every day. Some are one-timers. The regulars usually have their dogs under control. Many of the one-timers are off leash, and their dog is not under their voice control. This is another reason I feel I need to "own" this part of the park. I want the one-timer, off-leash jerks to feel out of place. I want the regular dog-walkers to know me, and function as my allies, even though they don't know they are my symbolic proxy warriors against the interlopers.

After my park loops, I did another couple miles on the road east of the park, looping back and cutting through it for a little more grass on my way home. This entire run was awesome!

In the evening, I went to an assembly at my son's school. On the way back to the car I slipped out of my flip flops. As we went to cross a street, I kicked a broken signpost. It was only about 2 inches of jagged steel, left perhaps after a vehicle struck it down. I probably didn't see it because I was talking and it was almost dark out, and what was left of the post was the same color as the hard dirt it protruded from. I kicked it with the sole of my foot, just behind the separation between my left big toe and second toe, where the calloused pad of my forefoot begins. It didn't "hurt"; it just felt like a hard impact. It peeled back a 1/4 inch chunk of thick skin, and sure enough it was bleeding. This represents the biggest barefoot wound I ever received in the two years I have been barefooting.

The irony here is obvious. I didn't get injured running my longest barefoot run ever - I did it while walking to my car after a school event! That steel signpost remnant - maybe it was made of Kryptonite?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Running With Jody-Lynn Reicher

On April 27, a few members of my running club and I ran with Jody-Lynn Reicher. Jody-Lynn is a fairly well established elite ultramarathoner, who lives in NJ. Her goal was to run the length of New Jersey, following the route of the annual "Longest Day" bike tour. She wanted to do it in 48 hours. The route runs from Port Jervis, at the northern tip of NJ, to Cape May at the southern tip, about 207 miles. This is a feat that is greater than Dean Karnazes's "Team Dean" run, when he ran "The Relay" in northern California, as he wrote about it in his book Ultramarathon Man. It would also be the longest single run Jody-Lynn would attempt, though she has already finished Badwater a few times, and holds the US distance record for 24 hours of treadmill running.

The first leg companions were John G. and Sherrie. They were supposed to meet with Jody-Lynn at 7 PM. But she was very behind schedule. I was the second-leg companion for about 15 miles. It was after dark, about 9 PM by the time I joined the group. The last person to run with her was John E. He didn't even begin running until about midnight. Running with Jody-Lynn was a real learning experience. I didn't realize how low-key an ultramarathoner runs. She had no problem just stopping to eat, drink, get a quick massage. With my road racing background, I had the tendency to think that we should be walking while eating. It took me a while to relax and enjoy this run. There was a lot of fun conversation. And I discovered that a staple of ultra-running conversation is really bad jokes.

Here is an exerpt of the story of her run, written by Jody-Lynn herself:

"I had so much fun with Sherry, John G. And Gene, we told stories, jokes, talked about nutrition. I had a blast. I almost can't remember a time when I wasn't laughing or at the very least thinking of something funny. Soon enough it was just Gene and I. We talked about IPODs and barefoot running. Both items Gene is into and up on. He was so entertaining. Running on Canal Rd, which is an old Revolutionary canal road it was so serene." [ read the whole story here ]

She actually ran more than the 207 miles, due to going the wrong way, and raised over $4000 for the Mary Therese Rose Fund. Here is a photo of her and I at the end of my 15 mile leg, around midnight. (more photos here)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sensitivity and Perception - Warm Barefeet Are Happier Barefeet

I was gonna say that I believe the sensitivity my feet has changed immensely over time, but I have also observed that it changes from day-to-day, and even during the course of a single run. I am convinced that comfort/pain level is also affected by environmental factors like temperature, and internal variables like fatigue.

Today I am running over stuff that I would have considered painful just a few months ago.

The first second after something - usually natural tree litter like a stick or pine cone - that causes "pain", it might be painful, then it is gone....

Yesterday, in the beginning of a 7 mile barefoot run, my footstrike was uncomfortable, my technique was poor, but 20 minutes later it felt great....

When I am tired from lack of sleep or accumulated fatigue from hard training, I seem to need some running shoes more than after a day off...

Stuff that is uncomfortable at 50 degrees F is comfortable at 65 degrees F....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

I hate carrying my shoes. But I am at the point in my barefoot running life that sometimes I start a run in them and get tired of wearing them and just have to get them off when I am still miles from home. I have done some runs where I take them off and put them back on, depending on the quality of the pavement or terrain several times. Sometimes the ground in the grassy park where I like to run is painfully hard or cold or covered with tree litter, so I run barefoot on the road to get there, carrying XC spikes that I put on once I get there.

The subject of going to 100% barefoot vs. mixing barefoot and shod running is one of debate in the barefoot running community. Some people feel the mixing hinders barefoot running technique development. Others (me for one) believe it isn't a bad thing. It isn't bad for you because I am assuming runners discovering barefooting want to maintain their current mileage. If you try to switch to running barefoot at your current mileage right away, you would probably get injured. I suggest you keep track of your barefoot percentage and raise it a few percent each week. (I use this Excel file for tracking.) Chuck any heavy trainers and wear minimal shoes when you do run in 'em. Stick with it for the long haul and before you know it, you will be running many more of your miles barefoot.

Case in point - I am doing more barefoot running than I could ever imagined. I ran 7 miles yesterday; 1.5 were barefoot on grass, 4 were barefoot on pavement, 1.5 were in Gola Harrier retro trainers. I never could have forseen that I would be able to do that much barefoot as recently as last November, let alone when I started sheding my shoes on grass for 5 minutes every-other day two years ago.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Misuse Injuries

This is a great posting to the Running Barefoot Yahoo! group, by our mentor, Ken Bob Saxton:

I like to believe that "overuse" injuries are actually the same thing as "too much, too soon". In other words we are doing more with our body than it is ready for.

However, there is another important factor, which is "misuse" injury.

Being hit by a car traveling 60mph is also a "misuse" injury. We are getting hit with more force than we are designed to withstand!

Likewise, "Jogging" is a misuse of our body.

The common injuries to modern runners, like runner's knee, etc., are commonly mistaken as "overuse" injuries. These types of injuries occur in many runners who "pound" the pavement. "Jogging" and jarring thier joints for miles and miles, because they have always heard that they need to train long and hard. But they have never heard about "HOW" to run.

Misuse injuries are, in a strict sense, also "overuse" injuries. People pounding way harder, and much more frequently than their knees are ready to pound. In fact, in this case, since we aren't using the body according to the manufacturers specifications, it never gets an adequate chance to repair the damage, before we go out and pound out some more miles.

So, much like being hit by a car traveling 60mph, "jogging" or pounding the pavement, is simply something our bodies were never designed for.

What do I mean, we aren't using the human body according to manufacturerers specifications? We are designed to run?

Yes, I believe we are designed to run. However, we were never designed to run without one of the most valuable safety features available. This safety feature was installed, at the time of manufacture, not as an option, but as a necessity. It is the feedback from our feet, as they touch the ground.

We have covered this wonderful sensory organ with shoes, blinding it to the wonderful feelings of touching the earth, just so we can run on surfaces, with such insensitive pounding, that we blow out every conceivable joint in our body. And when the joints start hurting, we take pain-killers, so we can continue pounding, and reduce our joints to bare bones, grinding against each other!

In our automobile, this might be seen as the equivelent of putting a piece of black tape over the "oil low" indicator light or pressure gage, so we aren't annoyed by it's persistent warnings!

Keep in mind, that virtually all of those studies about "normal" wear and tear as a result of aging, are based on "normal" people in modern society, who are so out of touch with their own bodies, that, if they wanted to restore a channel of communication, they wouldn't even know the phone number to call to talk, and listen, to their own body!

The "secret" to preventing this "normal" wear and tear due to aging, isn't LESS RUNNING, it is MORE AWARENESS, so that we can run more, to continue building strength and endurance, with LESS POUNDING!

Have fun,
-barefoot ken bob

Sunday, April 09, 2006


No, you are not seeing double. ... I love it when the banner ad served is from New Balance, a SHOE company, using a campaign that depicts a BARE foot with the New Balance logo on it. I guess they are implying that if you buy New Balance shoes, your foot will feel free and natural. While it is true that New Balance makes some very minimal racing flats and spikes, most people using them are wearing their cushion and stability shoes, which are fairly substantial. The "regular runners" flocking to New Balance usually do it to correct injuries and biomechanical woes. It is a lot less expensive to just remove whatever you are presently wearing!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Yesterday's Run

The first half mile: Barefoot on the road to Greenbrook Park. No problem. Feels great for my feet. Rain is on its way. Very little drizzle.

The park, miles 1.5-3: Barefoot on the still-hard grass and dirt. Some of the dirt is so dry it is cracked like a dry lake-bed. The grass is a mess. There are pine cones, acorns, tons of sticks. If the ground was soft or the grass more lush, they would sink in when stepped on. But it is still very dry in NJ, so the sinking-in isn't happening. Raining just a little, but it isn't helping. We need a lot of moisture to make things softer. I even switch to the road in the park for a quarter mile or so. The road feels better for my feet than all the natural tree litter on the grass.

The road, miles 3-4.5: Barefoot on the rest of the loop on West End Avenue, Greenbrook Road, and back home. Lots of random pebbles on the road. Lots of bad pavement. Infrastructure improvements are so needed in this town. How about a run by with a street sweeper? That would be nice. Still only very light rain. Shucks.

My old Reebok XC Spikes, miles 4.5-7.5: Put on my old spikes for the rest of this workout. They are ripped out at the bottom of the upper on the outside of my feet. I have chucked the insoles. The 1/2 inch spikes are worn down to 1/4 inches. One of the spike holes is permanently misaligned, so the spike is at a 45 degree angle. Running on people's lawns back to the park. The park's debris don't bother my feet now. Running faster. Gotta get this done in time to go pick up my kid at religious school. Somebody left a soccer ball under a bush. Nobody around, so I practice kicking it home. It still isn't raining hard enough. Maybe tonight. Maybe soft grass and dirt so the stuff will sink in when I step on it tomorrow. Hope so.

Friday, March 31, 2006

No Rain in New Jersey Hurts

On Tuesday I wanted to run nice and barefoot at Greenbrook Park. I ran right out of my front door and down the street, doing the very comfortable road half mile to the park. (Note that during the first half of last year I had to run that same half mile with shoes on, then I took them off at the park. Then I progressed to just starting the run barefoot, but had to run on the grass next to the street as much as possible for it to be comfortable.) I got to the park and hit the grass. And it hurt. The dirt under the grass is hard and uneven. It was much more comfortable to run on the road. After putting up with the pain for a few minutes, I turned around and ran home for some XC shoes.

Yesterday I tried again. The ground is even harder, if that is possible. But I was prepared. I carried my XC shoes while I ran on the street, then put them on for hte bulk of the workout in the park.

It is supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. New Jersey really needs rain. I need it to soften up the ground. My coworker told me that we had zero inches of rain in March in NJ. I looked it up at the National Weather Service. Here is the current map -

As you can see, we are down 3 inches from the normal in Somerset and Middlesex counties. That is a lot. I am looking forward for a great day of rainy weather on Saturday. Let it rain and make lots of soft mud of the hard cracked earth!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Warmth Returns and The Cop Doesn't Like It

Warm 70 degree day today. Last Thursday I did 4.5 miles barefoot. Skied the weekend - glorious warm sunny blue sky day on spring snow. Today I did 5.5 barefoot. When I picked my son up from indoor soccer practice at the high school, the cop on duty at the door stopped me, asking, "Where are your shoes?" I told them they were in my car. He asked me to go get them becuase, "You're really not supposed to be walking around the building without shoes." He thanked me when I safely wearing flip-flops.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'll get you my pretty! ...... and your little dog too!

I'll get you my pretty! ...... and your little dog too!: "

What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed? -Michelangelo"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Running Barefoot Improved My Skiing!

Living and Running barefoot and wearing ski boots are about as opposite as one can get as far as footwear is concerned, but I am convinced running barefoot has improved my skiing.

From December 15 through the beginning of April, I ski a lot, relatively, for a guy who lives in New Jersey. Thirteen days so far this season. Last I season, I skied 27 days - this year my goal is 30. It isn't the total of an instructor, patroller, racer or Salt Lake native - but it is something. Anyway, This winter I have had a breakthrough in skiing moguls (AKA bumps), followed by an epiphany (er, or something). In the past I skied them fine on gentle terrain, but on steeper terrain had only limited success. I would take a few turns, then had to stop and think about it, or would get my weight too far back and then onto my uphill ski and lose my balance. But this season, with more barefoot mileage behind me than ever, I have skied them with aplomb and grace and speed, and without hesitation. Here is the epiphany: In order to ski steep bumps well, you have to push your ski tips down into the troughs between the bumps, keep your weight well forward, respond to the feedback your feet feed you - all at the same time that you are looking for the next five turns, and keep both knees bent and RELAXED. RELAX, RELAX, RELAX - sound familiar?... Running barefoot moves your weight distribution to your midfoot or forefoot, makes you run with more bend in your knees, teaches your body to absorb shock, develops your eccentric contraction strength in your calves and quads, and increases the feedback and reaction time between your feet and your brain. All of the things that are a result of running barefoot "right" are what is necessary to ski well in the bumps!