Friday, December 22, 2006

Waiting to Heal

After that one cold morning run where I got blood blisters in each toe, my right toe healed up just fine, but my left toe continued to bother me. I ran with it bandaged up a few more times, putting in 8 miles on Dec 13th and 10 miles on Dec 15th. The blister on my left toe then got infected and had to be opened up to drain it out. That's when I discovered a little piece of glass in it! Now that I know what was bothering it so much I think it will heal now. I have been nursing the open wound left over with hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin. Today, the 22nd, is just about one week since I had to cut it open, and although its a little sore still, I have been itching to get out and go running again!

I got me some super-strong bandaids to wrap around it so I think I will venture out today for a run. Its not raining today so at least I will be dry! This might be a good day to go down and run on the Portland waterfront. Its been several months since I did that. I'm sure they all miss me!

Ryan

Monday, December 04, 2006

Weekly Total Report

My total for last week was 29 miles.

Monday I ran in sleet and slush and got a couple of blood blisters on each big toe. My left toe has been the sorest. So I rested them a few days.

I went out Friday for a five mile run. My course took me through one section that was littered with lots of gravel all across the sidewalks, so I wore my new Vibram 5Fs for the last part.

Yesterday I went out for a 12 mile run. I ended up wearing my Vibram 5Fs again because of lots of gravel again in certain sections.

Vibrams aren't the same as running BF, but they do allow me to keep going at a faster pace through rough territory. I've noticed that while wearing them I tend to hit the ground harder with my feet. After wearing them through one section I took them off to continue going barefoot. I enjoyed the barefoot experience much more than I did wearing the Vibrams.

I noticed that my running pace has been very slow, around 10 minute miles. I prefer trying to keep it around 8:00 minutes or less. I don't know if its caution or me adjusting to the longer distances I've been trying to run. Or maybe old age. I just turned 53 years old a couple of weeks ago!

I went to a church Christmas party last night, "A Night in Bethlehem" dressed up in period garb. I decided to go barefoot. I told a few people that I had just come back from running 12 miles, an hour before the party. They each wanted to see the bottom of my feet! One couple had to touch them to see if I had tough callouses or not. They were surprised to see fairly normal skin, though a bit dirty. That "comes with the territory!"

Ryan

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Observations About Cold Weather Running

I went out yesterday for a 12 mile run. It was 39 degrees when I started, not bad, my feet warmed up naturally and felt nice, even while I was running through some soggy, swampy wet grass in a park at about mile 6. Then on the way back I could feel the temperature dropped quickly, and about mile 9 it started to snow/sleet and the street got covered with slush. That's when my feet started getting numb. I thought No Problem! I'll just keep running with good form and my feel will just take care of themselves! Right?

After my run I noticed that each of my big toes had blood blisters on them, my left one is also very sore to the touch. Why would they be sore? The rest of my feet were in pretty good condition, even though I was a little worried about possibly having too much skin wear on the balls of my feet. But only my big toes seemed to have any problems.

The Role of Toes in Running

I believe that our toes help act as proprioreceptors, helping us feel the lay of the land, etc. When our feet are warm enough, the toes aren't needed as much and we can just pull them up out of the way. When our feet become numb from the cold then we instinctively start using our toes to help feel for the ground, for balance, etc. because the feet aren't feeling enough feedback. That's my theory, anyway. When the feet cannot feel the ground, the toes kick in to try to help out.

I noticed that evening and today that my feet (as well as the rest of my body) are very warm and comfortable. This supports my old theory that the feet act as thermostats for the body and help it to regulate the over-all body temperature.

Ryan

Monday, November 27, 2006

Last Week's Total

Last week I only got two runs in. We've had some pretty bad wind and rain storms which didn't inspire me to get out and run much! On Monday I ran 12 miles and on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I ran 10.2 miles. I was disappointed on Friday's run because I thought the course I was following would pan out to be closer to 12 miles. Oh well. Time to replot my course and make it longer!

I got some Vibram 5-Fingers for my birthday and have tried them a couple of times. They will be a nice alternative for really cold days or really rough surfaces I might encounter. I now wear a hip pouch with my 5-Fingers and a water bottle in it when I run.

I'm looking forward to some good running this week - cold or not. I've decided I can't wait for winter to end, so I'm just going to jump into it and keep running anyway!

Happy trails!

Ryan

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

New Course & New Personal Best Distance

I plotted out a new course last Monday using mapmyrun.com and then went out and ran it. It was a 12 miler from my work. The first and last two miles were all on nice smooth cement sidewalk. I was afraid the course might have a lot of gravel and glass since it follows an industrial use road. But it was actually fairly clear. I did most of my running on the white lane marker line (we call that the "fog-line"). The last section before the turnaround point is 1/2 mile up and back on beach sand, which was kind of nice! I even did some running in the water just for fun. The area is near a bird refuge, so there were a lot of birds flying overhead. I think they were trumpeter swans by their very distinctive sound. This run matches my furthest single distance I've run so far!

Someone asked me about my recent success in increasing my running distances & frequency. Here's what I answered:

Most recently, I have focused on keeping my feet more beneath my torso and keeping my knees bent. It was such a hard to shake, in-grained belief that I had to put my feet out in front of me to run.
I have been thinking about the angle of my shins with each step. I try to keep the angle of my shins relative to the ground as close to 90 degrees or less (when my legs go behind me) and try to never let them go more than 90 degrees (meaning I'm putting them out in front of me too much.) This has helped me a lot.

Closely associated with this exercise is knowing that I need to keep my knees bent more than I thought necessary. This forces me to automatically place my weight more towards the fore-foot, so I don't really have to think about BHB (ball-heel-ball) action.

These two things, angle of my shins and knees bent, have helped me to stop sliding and twisting of my feet against the ground, which was causing me to have skin erasure.

One other thing I have been working on is increasing my "swivel-hip" action with each step. This also seems to help align my foot as it is placed on the ground and helps eliminate friction to the skin on my feet.

So, those have been the secrets to my slight rise in success lately. I'm always working on improving things, though. As I slowly increase my distances I am also increasing my over-all conditioning. So form and conditioning go hand-in-hand, or foot-in-foot. I can't improve conditioning with bad form which limits my ability to run.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Personal Weekly Best Last Week

Last week I went out running four times and logged a total of 36 miles. That is the most barefoot miles I've run in any one week since I started running barefoot back in August, 2004! I am slowly convincing my brain to just let my body do what it should do and not try to impose its old running rules any more. I ran: Monday - 10 miles, Tuesday - 6.5 miles, Thursday - 10 miles, and Friday - 10 miles. I took Saturday off, but did find time to mow my lawn barefoot before the next rain storm moved in.

I have been playing with employing more hip rotation during my running. I believe it helps to reduce foot wear somehow. Its a pretty different way of running. I lead more with my hip of my leading leg, so I have more "swivel hips" type action. I'll keep playing with it to see if it something worth keeping up.

On one of my runs I opened up and did some faster speeds for a couple of miles. I noticed that at faster speeds, my feet kick up higher behind me, but they also place down more gently beneath me. I felt like faster speeds make the rough sections of road actually easier to negotiate! This might explain why Ken Bob Saxton says he always speeds up through rough sections to get through them faster - maybe it also makes them more gentle on the feet!

This week I probably won't match what I did last week. We have a beautiful Fall day today, sunshine, but then its going to be a lot of rain the rest of the week. It would be cool if I could find a 5K or a 10K on Thursday morning to run in.

Ryan

Monday, October 30, 2006

Healing Run

Today I decided to challenge myself, after several painful, disappointing runs last week. I was determined to have a successful run. I chose to follow my tried and proven running route so I wouldn’t have any surprises. It was a crisp Fall day, lots of leaves on the ground, temperature about 52 degrees, sun shining brightly.

I ran 10.3 miles today, really trying to keep my form true and correct. It paid off. I had a very nice run, felt like I was “in the groove” the whole way. I concentrated on pulling my feet up a little higher than usual, just to make sure I was not pushing off in any way. I also concentrated on placing them straight down beneath me. I felt like I was really working my thighs, in a good way, by keeping my legs bent in an "S" curve, strengthening them and my hamstrings.

I successfully negotiated some “corrugated” cement sidewalks. I ran into several sections of ouchies in several places where little acorn-like seeds were scattered on the sidewalk. I just tried to step through them as carefully as I could -- mostly successful! My feet did not scream at me like they did last week. The best part is that I returned completely fired up and energized. A picture perfect day and a most satisfying run!

Call me happy.

Ryan
Goodbye Garden

Last night we had our first frost. And it did freeze well in my backyard. I still had a lot of lettuce that I was planning on picking. Oh well, its all frozen now! Just the same, I'll wait until later today to see if any of it survived enough for one last picking of lettuce. I pulled out my pepper plant, some tomato plants, and some other things. I'm waiting to see if I still have raspberries that are pickable. Once I'm done picking them I plan on cutting that monstrous bush back to more tame dimensions. I'm worried that all of those overripe berries that have dropped off will grow into a jungle next year! I'm going to be busy hacking out extra shoots that grow in the wrong places. I have a number of carrots still in the ground. They last all winter if you mulch well over the top of them. I don't think they suffered any last night. I also have a lot of onions. They are the sweet variety, so they won't winter-over in the ground. They never grew very large, some are maybe 2 inches in diameter, most are smaller. So tonight I'll pull them up and see what shape they are in and figure out how to use them up quickly. Maybe I can dry them.?

So my lush garden is quickly being scaled back to the dry dirt, waiting for next year's new crops. I love the growbox method of gardening. Once its set up, its the absolute easiest to care for!

Happy barefoot gardener,

Ryan
Painful Record Week of Running Barefoot!

Last week was one of accomplishment and pain. Accomplishment because I ran a personal best total mileage for the week. Pain because I kept on going over areas that turned out to be rougher than I expected. Monday I ran 8.5 miles as reported earlier. I rested on Tuesday to let my feet recover.

On Wednesday I plotted out another course that I hoped would be nicer to my feet. On the map, at least, it had sidewalks all along the route. It was pretty good for most of the run, but one area had older sidewalks that were quite weather beaten, so they were very rough and raspy. I changed by route and cut my run a little bit shorter than I planned on and headed back. While I was running this particularly rough section a lady stopped in her car and asked if I was alright. She must have figured only an emergency would make a guy run down the road barefooted!

When I got to within a few miles of finishing, my left foot developed a very sharp pain in it. At first I thought I was getting a stress fracture (again - same place as one previously). But it felt different. So I thought maybe I had gotten a glass puncture or something. I stopped and checked for fresh signs of new glass wounds, found nothing obvious, and so I figured it must be an old piece of glass I got in my foot one time that I couldn't get out, even went to the doctor's for some probing, and he couldn't find it either. I think its lodged in there but sometimes gets worked a little loose and starts poking places that hurt. My foot was painful and kind of swollen at exactly the same spot where that old piece of glass was stuck in my foot.

So I carefully finished my run by the most direct route possible. Still -- I logged in a 9.75 mile run!! Yippee!

I decided to see how I would do if I ran the very next day, so on Thursday I headed out again. This time I planned on running an old, tried and proven course. It was going very well, along predictably smooth surfaces through downtown Vancouver, a very rough but manageable short section that resembles corrugated cardboard, only its sharp cement ridges - as the sidewalk bends to run along the edge of the Columbia River. Then it was quite smooth running from there on.

I ran a couple of miles along the waterfront sidewalk, keeping to the smoother edges as much as possible, then kept on going towards Wintler Park. They had even made some areas better than it was last year. New pavement on some of the cross streets made intersections a lot smoother and nicer. Ahhh! I love new, smooth asphalt!

Once at Wintler Park I ran down to the water's edge to experience the sand and cool water. My feet felt a little tender, but not all too bad. Then I looked off in the distance and saw the I-205 bridge a few miles away. I thought how nice it would be to run all the way to the bridge on the river's sandy bank. So I took off. There were places in the sand where it got kind of rough, lots of pebbles, shells and glass. I was careful as I could be, but I could tell my feet were starting to complain. I went as far as I could before the sand ran out, then returned and started to retrace my steps back to my office. The closer I got back to my work the more my feet were complaining. My left foot was feeling some stabbing pains again and was a little swollen, and the soles of my feet just complained in general. I ran gingerly the last mile to my office, took a shower, and patted myself on the back for another long run. This one was a 10.25 miles run -- nice even if it was painful!

I was also happy to have logged in the most miles I've run in a week barefoot! 28.6 miles!!

Now, I just need to condition myself a little more and hold true to good running form so my feet don't get so upset with me! I know I can do it -- I have run 12 miles before without any problems! It all comes down to keeping the proper form consistently throughout the run. When I get tired I sometimes let my feet start slapping the pavement too much.

So, I rested my feet the rest of the week and that weekend. Well, almost. On Saturday I mowed my lawn barefoot. It was therapeutic. It was soft and gave my feet a gentle stretch and massage that they needed! By Monday my feet felt completely well again. Ain't the body wonderful??

Ryan

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rough Run

Last Monday I looked on my map (www.mapmyrun.com) and plotted out what looked like would be a nice run taking me to areas of the city I have not visited before, hoping to run about 10 miles. It was a beautiful, clear sunny day and I thought I would increase my distance a little bit.

Maps don't tell you all you need to know.

Turns out that a lot of the course I planned to run did not have any sidewalks at all. Worse, they didn't even have shoulders on the roads! I came through this one section which was nothing but broken up pavement, gravel and glass for about 1/2 a mile on the very edge of very fast moving cars. I hoped it would just last a short distance and then I would get back to nice sidewalks. Not so. The road split -- one that wound its way up through some very dark, shady trees and had even less of a shoulder -- no room for me plus cars that were speeding up or down this windy, narrow road in the shade.

So I opted for the other route, which also had no shoulders, but was straight and out in the open. I realized that almost all the traffic was coming from one direction only, so I crossed over and ran on the less busy side without very much interference from traffic. But the road was very poor condition and rough. I found a softer tar repair strip that I could run on for about 1/2 mile which was very nice, but then it was grimace and pain time.

By the time I had gone about 7 miles into my run, my feet were very sore and complaining a lot. I finally found my way down to some businesses with long parking lots that were smoother than the roads. After that I got onto some familiar sidewalks and was able to limp my way the last 1 1/2 miles. Once I got back on smoother surfaces I got back into a better running pattern and it wasn't so bad.

Even though my skin was worn fairly smooth from that run, it still felt very nice to have done it. I won't do it again, though.

I had to cut it short because I could not get to the areas where I originally intended on going.

Total distance: 8.5 miles

Ryan

Friday, October 20, 2006

Glass Field!

I went on an easy 4 mile run today over unchartered territory. I mapped my intended run on the computer first, then went out and executed it.

It was quite a bit rougher than I expected. Lots of gravel alley-ways cutting across the sidewalks I was running on. I could have just run in the street, but the sidewalks were a little bit smoother.

I ran past a home daycare and a lady was in the yard with about 8 little girls playing. One of them saw me running and yelled, "Hey, look!" All of the girls stopped what they were doing and stood watching me run past. I was waiting for some comment, but they were all fairly somber and just stared. Hmmm, I don't know what to make of that.

I wound up running next to Clark College in Vancouver, WA. On the sidewalk was a fairly large area of broken glass -- probably about 4-5 meters long with glass bits scattered fairly evenly throughout. I could have run around it by going out into the street, but at that point cars come around a bend going fairly fast and it was too risky. I'll take glass over cars any day.

I thought about turning back and crossing over the busy street to the other side, but then that little voice in my head suggested, "Maybe someone saw you coming and put that glass there just to test you. If you turn around you'll let yourself and them down!" So I just aimed for a course through the glass field that avoided the largest shards, keeping mainly to the smaller flakes and specks, and I *really* focused on non-abrasive foot placement!

When I came out the other side I stopped and looked for any damage or remaining pieces and found nothing at all. I swished my feet through some grass just to make sure and was on my way. I felt like I passed "the test," whatever it was.

It was a slow run, but nice to get out and see new neighborhoods.

Ryan

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Evolution Made

The Bumblebee once ran so swift and so sure,
and ever so quietly on her bare little feet,
Then said an old otter with wizened fur,
“You can’t run barefoot; an impossible feat!”

The otter extrapolated, interpolated and said:
“Its against science! And its against reason!
“It violates nature and – Oh Dread,”
“You might be committing Faunistic treason!”

The Bumblebee, thinking, became dejected,
Bereft of solutions as to what she should do,
For to ambulate was now scorned and rejected,
So without another thought, she just up and flew!

“You dare to mock us with your sleight and your cunning?”
The scientists scurried and clamored to say,
“Impossible! Preposterous! Go back to your running!”
But the joyous Bumblebee smilingly flew away.

After she thought she couldn’t, she didn’t,
But before thinking she couldn’t, she did!
So, grateful to the Nayers who said she couldn’t,
She found her true talent no longer hid.

Its not in the saying that we do what we can
But its by doing, that we say what we’ve done,
To ponder may squelch it before it began,
But by already doing it, we’ve already won!

10/19/06 by Ryan

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Reporting In

Yesterday I went on an easy 6 mile run. Form started slipping at the end, but overall a good run.

I decided I needed to start running more frequently. Better if I could run nearly every day. So today I went out on a run so I could go two days in a row. I didn't know how far I would feel comfortable going.

I started off feeling a little tender, so I was taking it slowly. Continued tender for the first two miles, but not too bad, so I ventured up towards the OHSU hospital again. Between miles 2 and 3 are some rougher sidewalks so I got to practice my careful foot placements. I went past Portland University. Got a lot of stares from the young brains there. One blond preppy looking girl gave me a look like, "Ewwww! For gross!" I was wearing my "It Takes Balls" t-shirt. Maybe she was offended by that. Or maybe she just smelled me. Who knows?

After mile 3 my feet were not feeling as tender any more. Something about the rough surfaces making the concept of tenderness a relative issue. Or something like that. So I kept on going up towards the hospital. I thought I would take a shortcut and save myself some distance. I ended up going up this steep, rocky trail. So awfully rough! I thought for sure that would shorten the length of my run. But once I was back on asphalt again I adapted and continued.

I got onto the sidewalk with the curbs that I ran on last time, only this time I stayed on the sidewalk and continued practicing my careful foot placement. I passed this lady running with her dog. She exclaimed, "No shoes??" I answered, "Nope, not needed!"

I turned and ran up by the Veterans Hospital, got myself kind of stuck in a back parking lot. The map said there was a road through there. I couldn't find a trail to get across this steep ravine to the OHSU hospital area, so I opted to enter one of the buildings and climb the stairs up to a long sky-way. I mean, its a long sucker! Slick, polished tile floor, windows on both sides. Very nice! It was full of people coming and going, patients with oxygen tanks, doctors, nurses, etc., (plus this sweaty old barefooted guy with a rude t-shirt.) They probably thought I was a psych patient. I expected to get rushed by security guards at any moment so I was looking to make a quick exit. I wonder if I left foot prints on their nice polished floor?

I took an elevator down to a parking garage. I've never seen so much glass on any of my runs as there was inside this garage. It was everywhere. I pity the doctor's car windows that must be getting smashed in all the time. I finally found my way down to street level and ran down the hill to re-trace my steps back to the Point of Beginning. I kept on wondering when my feet would get hyper-sensitive. They never did. I think its because I really focused on keeping my form true the whole run. That, plus I didn't walk very much. Walking hurts my feet. My hip muscles were getting tight the last mile or so. I never knew I had muscles in my hips! I passed a guy doing some squatting, stretching exercises. They looked like they might be good for me to try.

My miles today: 8.7!

It will be interesting to see if I am up to running tomorrow as well.

Happily tired,

Ryan

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Perspectives

Today I went running. I intended to repeat my run up near OHSU, which would have been a 10 miler. However, I noticed along the way that my feet were feeling more tender than I expected so I knew I wouldn't be running the entire thing.

As I approached the beautiful tree-lined parkway that leads up to OHSU and the Veteran's Hospital I passed three medical student looking fellows all dressed in green scrubs. They got off a bus and were walking up to the hospital. I thought it was odd that they were wearing scrubs around in public. I thought scrubs were supposed to be clean and sterile, but these certainly wouldn't be after walking around in them outside.

I ran up to the pathway I ran on last time, and even did some curb balancing like I did before. Strangely, I again passed those same three green scrubbed students. They took a short-cut that I didn't know about. I felt a little satisfaction in flashing them my proud bare feet - twice! Maybe instead of thinking "You can't run barefoot!" they might think "HOW do you run barefoot?" Instead of going up to the end of the parkway this time, I turned up a little side street and went right up to the hospital itself. I was thinking thoughts about "the mouth of the lion" or "the belly of the beast." The road led me past OHSU School of Dentistry and then up by the Doernbecher's Children's Hospital.

By the children's hospital I noticed a number of girls ranging in age from about 8 to about 16 walking up the incline into the hospital. The common feature that stood out most was that each was wearing some kind of cap or scarf to cover their bald heads. Thats the result of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It was touching and moving to see these little souls each involved in their fight for life. Here I was being somewhat of an ass, running barefoot under the noses of doctors just to provoke them or get them to think a little bit, and here were a bunch of innocents involved in a race for their very lives -- a race I'm sure some might not win. It put things into perspective.

I left there feeling humbled and grateful that I have been blessed with a very strong and healthy body and mind.

My run was 7.5 miles, a little shorter than the 10 miles I had planned on doing. After seeing those kids, it kind of didn't matter to me much any more if I ran the full 10. I was happy just to be out running. Period. I smiled a lot at people on my way back to the Point of Beginning.

Celebrate Life.

Ryan

Friday, October 06, 2006

Another T-Shirt Idea

Simple...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Observations While Running

I went on a 10.5 mile run today - a bit of a stretch for me! I tried to stay true to correct form and did quite well as far as my feet are concerned. My legs, though, got very tired and stiff. Maybe I was too tense.

I went on a "revenge run" - kind of like my Nike Teaser. Only this time I ran up to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) just to show those know-it-all doctors what a barefoot runner looks like. This comes about from an experience I had last Spring where an OHSU doctor went riding past me on his bike and told me, "You can't run barefoot! You'll ruin your hips! I KNOW - I'm an orthopedic surgeon!" He was gone before I could engage him in the finer aspects of running barefoot.

So I was running along this very nice road that runs up to the hospital and smiling at all the cars and other runners and walkers that passed me. Nothing much exciting happened. One guy in a nice car really stared at me hard. But no snooty doctors said anything to me this time. I stopped at one red light and a mother with a bunch of kids in the car were waiting at the intersection. One of the kids, about 7, pointed me out to the others and then all eyes were on me. I smiled and held my foot up for them
to see that I really was barefoot. They all smiled back and waved. I ran by a bus stop and a mother and little boy about 4 were waiting. The little boy saw me coming and was watching me in fascination. I was waiting to hear something about being barefoot, but instead he said, "Mommy, that man doesn't have any pants on!" I laughed. It must have looked this way because my running shirt came down almost to the bottom hem of my running shorts.

Here's my interesting observation:

I was looking for the smoothest surface to run on. The road and sidewalk were asphalt, with the road being smoother than the sidewalk (more traffic & wear). There was this 10" wide paint strip separating a bike path from the main road. I tried to run on it, but that put me dangerously close to speeding traffic. So I opted to run on the raised cement curb separating the sidewalk from the bike path. It was smoother than the other surfaces, especially where it was covered with old moss growth. The curb was about 5 inches wide and was raised about 6" to 10". I must have run about 2 miles just on the curb, most of it uphill.

At first my balance was precarious and I had a hard time staying on it. Then I thought about how I needed to "run from the core." As I focused on this, my balance became completely natural and automatic. I was even able to let my thoughts wander and still keep on the curb. This was a great lesson and exercise for me.

Second observation:

Rick told me something about landing on a triangle area of his foot with a lot of the initial weight put on the outside part. When I was coming down the hill I decided to just run on the sidewalk and work more on my form. I imagined a "golden triangle" on each foot, along the right edge and towards the middle of the ball of my foot. I tried to make each step land on this triangle and roll back towards my heel from there. This made it so the area beneath the big toe was not the primary focus. This made my running a lot more enjoyable. It was almost as if my foot was just this little area, like goat feet. I ran all the way back to my car imagining each step landing on the golden triangle.

All in all a very satisfying run, although my legs were a little stiff and tired -- probably from only having low mileage this past few weeks.

I'll have to keep in mind running from the core and landing on the golden triangle in the future!

Happy and tired,

Ryan

Friday, September 29, 2006

Barefoot T-Shirts

I've been thinking up t-shirts to design to wear when I'm running barefoot. A couple of these I've already made. Here are the ones I like the best, so far:


I've actually made the first and third ones and wear them all the time. The "balls" t-shirt gets smiles and some comments from people. I don't know if they catch the joke in that one or not.

This one at the right is my latest idea. I think I'll make one of these and wear it the next time I go running around the Nike campus in Beaverton!

Ryan

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Nike Teaser Run

Well, I did a Nike Teaser run today at noon. I parked about 1 mile away, not knowing where else to park. Turns out I could have parked curbside in front of the corporate campus! Oh well.

I wore my homemade t-shirt that says, "It Takes BALLS to Run BAREFOOT!"

I passed oodles (or is it gaggles) of presumably corporate runners, some were coming, some were going. I wonder if they get bonus points for running on their lunch breaks? A few struck me as being fairly elite runners. You can just tell who they are. Others were just plodding along, huffing and puffing, maybe meeting some quota. One lady looked terribly anorexic, poor thing. I wished I had a cookie or something to give her.

Reactions were interesting. A lot of conversations suddenly stopped as I drew near. Shock? Awe? Dumbfoundedness?

A couple of guys came up from behind me and I moved over to let them pass. One of them said, "Nice day!" and they moved on ahead of me. I decided to pick up my pace and follow along behind them. A couple of hundred yards later one of them turned and looked at me with surprise. Either he didn't know I was shadowing them or he was surprised I had kept up with them. They turned and entered the campus and I kept going.

I actually got two smiles from other runners - both ladies. Was it my t-shirt? my bare feet? or my manly legs? Whatever, it was flattering.

Quite a few times I ran past cars waiting their turn to go. Lots of stares from drivers, some actually gawking. Lots of BMWs.

I made it around the campus one time and decided to give it another go for an additional two miles. Lots of the same reactions along the way.

On the satellite map I noticed a strange lighter-colored band going around the campus, obviously some kind of trail. Turned out to be a shredded bark running trail. Maybe it became cement in some places. I thought, now why would all these runners need a soft, cushy bark path to run on? Aren't their cushy shoe soles adequate? Is the corporation worried about its workers getting running injuries upon its property?
Think lawsuit here. Did some risk manager recommend a cushy bark running path? Hmmmm, makes one wonder!

The bark was pretty chunky and rough on my feet so I chose not to try it out this time. I'm pretty sure someone would have noticed me and called security. I found it would be a cinch to get on that trail and run their private corporate running path! Maybe I'll try it next time!

I'm thinking about making a t-shirt that says: "Really Free, Nike!" I'll wear it when I try this teaser run again.

Oh - No dobermans. No black limos following me. No serious folks in shades speaking into their wristwatches. I'm so disappointed!

Anyway, mission accomplished! I hope I rang a few mental bells, shattered some corporate paradigms, planted some seeds for thought, etc. It was fun and a pretty good run.

Ryan

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Catching Up

Wow, its been two whole months since I last posted here! I guess things that were once new and exciting become routine and boring.

I've enjoyed harvesting lots of great produce from my garden -- chinese pea pods, corn, broccoli, beans, raspberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, chiles, zucchini, and onions. I usually have more than I can use so I've been giving some of it away. The tomatoes are especially nice this year. I heard that it helps them to cut back on new growth starts and to trim away some of the older larger leaves so that sunlight can get to the fruit. This helps them to ripen. Last year I only had a lot of green tomatoes that rotted before they ripened. This year I've been picking lots of nice, red tomatoes.

I'm continuing to run barefoot, about 3 times a week, usually about 5 to 9 miles at a time. I get mostly positive comments from passers-by. This week a street person on a bicycle rode along next to me for about 1/4 mile. He was amazed that I could run barefoot. He said he had never seen such a thing before. On that same run I ran alongside a guy who had a "chest band" around his chest. I asked him what it was for. He said it was for monitoring his heart rate so he could keep it within the ideal training zone. About that time he noticed I was not wearing shoes and he exclaimed, "Pass the plate for this guy! He needs shoes!" We talked for a while about running barefoot. He said he could never do it. I asked him if he had heard of Pose Method, which he had and tried one time but didn't take to it very well. He was in training for a triathlon.

The other day I was running in Portland, Oregon for an 8 mile run. I had just come back down to the waterfront after running a loop up through the city streets. Up ahead of me I saw a group of younger (20's) people sitting on a bench and one guy was barefoot and running in place with exaggerated leg motions waiting for me to arrive. The other people there were laughing at his antics, so I figured I had me a real joker to contend with.

As I ran past them he started running along side me. I asked him how long he thought he could hold out running with me, barefoot. He said he could run the whole distance with me, and explained that he runs 20 miles at a time at a 6 minute pace. I then realized that he was not really making fun of me, but just wanted to meet me. We talked about the Hood to Coast race and he asked if I had ever run in it. He invited me to run with his group in next year's race and I gave him my telephone number to contact me. He only ran with me about 100 yards -- I could tell he was not really an experienced barefooter by his form.

So it turns out he was actually sincere in wanting to meet me! I'm hoping he calls me so I can set up some runs with him and his group.

Some time before that I was running while wearing one of my home-printed t-shirts. This homeless guy saw me coming and called out, "Hey, Runningbarefoot dot com! Way to go!"

This week I ran from the Convention Center in Portland up to Washington Park and the Rose Gardens. I decided to try coming back down hill a different route and ran over to Burnside. On the map it looked like a major route and I hoped it would have decent sidewalks. It was awful. The sidewalks were very narrow and overgrown with blackberry bushes in a lot of places. The cement was covered with gravel from when they sanded the road last winter and a lot of glass. They sweep off the road surfaces but ignore the sidewalks. Traffic was too heavy to run in the roadway, so I had to gingerly pick my way through about 1 1/2 miles of very slow, tough going. When I got home I noticed two places where I had glass slivers in my right foot and I could not get them out. That was a very tough 9 mile run. For future reference, I will return the same way I went up -- no gravel or glass to contend with!

Still happily running (barefoot of course!)

Ryan

Friday, July 28, 2006

Garden Update

My Mittleider Grow Box garden is doing exceptionally well (once again!)

We harvested five cauliflower heads,
each as large or larger than a dinner plate.













We had a lot of edible pea pods that we have
been giving away. The plants grew to about 7
feet high and are still producing!



My corn is growing nicely, about 8 feet tall and tassling now.

I have an English cucumber plant (foreground, left) that is completely filled with blossoms and a few cucumbers already.

My tomato plants are doing really well, lots and lots of blossoms and growing tomatoes. This year I am not letting them grow completely out of control, but have been pinching off the growth tips when they get to a certain height, and I've been pinching off the "side runners" that always seem to develope. So my plants look and act very well behaved this year!

A friend of ours wanted to do a small grow box, so I went over this week and helped them mix the artificial soil and gave them some of my fertilizer to use for a couple of months.

Happily gardening (barefoot, of course!)

Ryan
Comments Heard

Oh, today during my run I passed two bicyclists who had stopped and were sitting on a ledge. When I approached them, one said "Now THAT'S what I'm talking about! Like THAT!" The other guy said, "Hey, dude, you're our hero!" I wish I knew what they had been talking about
before I came along. It was so nice getting positive cheers as I ran that I started to go around my 3-mile loop a third time just for the encouragement, but they had moved on by then. On my run a different bicyclist passed me going the opposite direction and said, "Barefoot! That's awesome!"

Just to balance things out, two walking ladies saw me, looked down at my feet, and had looks of pure disgust on their faces seeing my bare feet.

Taking a look at my own feet, I guess I can't really blame them. They aren't the prettiest of feet - but I won't trade them away!


Ryan
Running Update

I went on a 6 mile run a week ago and got pretty sharp pains in my left foot (always the left foot!) I felt like I might be getting bone spurs or something that were pushing from the inside-out. But I completed my run without anything catastrophic happening.

Beginning of this week I went on an easy 3 mile run and my left foot was still hurting pretty badly. Same issue. Hmmmm. Still feels like my bones are poking me from the inside out. In retrospect, I suspect I was not really using very good form, too much putting my feet in front of me instead of beneath me. That makes it so my feet and body weight are not coming down towards the ground at a 90 degree angle, but at a sharper angle, which makes the force of my body weight move up the length of my foot. Hard to describe but easy to notice. It has to do with lateral force versus vertical force. I believe my feet get hurt really quickly when I expose them to much lateral force. Good form means not much lateral force and more vertical force, from which my feet do just fine.

So today I decided to just go very slowly and really follow good form on the same 3 mile course. I eased into it gradually, keeping myself strictly to form. Feet placed directly beneath me. Body poised forward, hovering over my thighs. Shins vertical to the ground. Ankles bent, landing on front of feet. It got easier and easier as I went along and pretty soon I was running along at a nice pace, even passing quite a few other runners. Still focusing on form and easy foot-falls.

I got done with the 3 mile loop and decided I was feeling pretty good, so I ran it again. I stopped at one point to work on ankle flexes, which made finishing the rest of the run easier.

Nice thing... left foot came out just fine! Just a slight achiness on the old problem spots, but a whole lot better than my last two runs were!

Bottom line: Form, form, form! You can't take a vacation from good form.

Happy again,

Ryan

Monday, July 17, 2006

Not Much to Say

My goodness! A whole month flew past and I haven't posted anything! I have been doing lots of little fun running, no races, nothing major. I went on vacation to Glacier National Park and hiked a few trails, partially barefoot, and got to stick my feet in numerous cold lakes and streams!

A chat-buddy, Brett Williams from Salt Lake City, ran a marathon recently, his first. I had to post this pic of him - its just a great shot! Now those are feet to be proud of!


I went to Lincoln City, Oregon this past week and ran about 5 miles on the flat sandy beach. The movement of the sand under my feet gave me a blister! That surprised me because I thought the sand would be more forgiving than the cement and pavement I usually run on. Not a bad blister, just something unexpected. Today I ran 3 miles on sidewalks and noticed a hot spot on my left foot - an old blister still healing. I didn't even know that one was there! Oh the joys and surprises of running barefoot!

Ryan

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Easy Run

Yesterday I went for an easy run in Portland along the waterfront. I was just going to see how my feet (and left ankle) were doing after my race last Friday. They felt fine. I find that I can more easily get into the correct running form now. Before it seemed like a hit & miss deal, sometimes I was "there;" other times I was just hurting myself. Now my running is more consistently correct and feels more comfortable. Yesterday I did quite a bit of walking, because in the past walking has caused my feet more abrasion than running. My walking yesterday did not have any adverse effect that I could tell. So now my challenge is to start picking up more distances and getting in better shape until I can run a marathon some day!

Ryan

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fremont 5K - Seattle

Friday I went up to Seattle to join with another barefooter named Jon to run the Fremont 5K. This was my first ever official barefoot competition! I am so used to running just for the fun of it that I completely forgot to time myself or to even look at the 'official' time when I came back in! I got my results emailed to me and it turns out my "gun time" was 26:35, or an official pace of 8.5 minutes per mile. My actual start time was some 30-40 seconds behind the gun time, because it takes that long for the crowd to shuffle forward to the beginning line. I figure my actual pace was closer to 8.3 minutes per mile.

This is me coming across the finish line. Thanks to my wife, Diane, for taking my photo! My son who lives in Seattle joined us (shod) and he decided he would run a pace faster than us. Jon and I stayed together for the first mile, but he was pacing himself so he would still be fresh for a 28-mile ultra marathon he was running the next morning! So I found myself looking to set my own happy pace, which was faster than Jon's. I picked up some speed as I fell into my groove and started passing quite a few of the other runners. My time going out was probably around 10 minutes per mile, and my time returning was probably closer to 8.0 minutes or faster. This sounds like one of those awful math tests we used to get: (If Ryan ran 10 minutes per mile for the first 1.3 miles and finished a 3.1 mile course in a total of 26 minutes 35 seconds, how fast was he running the latter part of the course?)

My appreciation to Jon and his friends who gave me lots of encouragement the first part of the race. He kept on shouting, "Hey! Isn't that Barefoot Ryan I see? How does he run without any shoes on?" I guess having bare feet wasn't enough of an attention getter!

Since this was just a fun run, I had some fun on the course. For the first 1 1/2 miles they kept runners separated from automobiles by a row of orange cones. The surface near the cones was pretty smooth, so I ran a little "slalom" couse by zig-zagging around the cones. At one point I was leaping over them like a hurdler. All in good fun.
Jon and I posing with our custom-designed "running gear"!

See you out there, somewhere!

Ryan

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Running Experiments

Yesterday I went down to Portland to test out my sore ankle that I got on a not-so-good run last week. I was in a hurry, wasn't relaxing into my run enough, and crossed a section of very gravelly pavement so that I was kind of running up on my tip toes trying to find bare spots between the gravel. For all my efforts I ended up with a sore tendon at the base of my left ankle.

So yesterday I started off very slowly for one block, seeing if it would hold up. It did. So I kept on going. I ran three blocks down to the smoooooth sidewalks along the Willamette River in Portland. It felt so goooood to be running!


I really made sure my form was impeccable so as to not injure my ankle worse. There were two ladies behind me running in shoes. I didn't want them to overtake me (male pride? competive spirit?) So I leaned into it and sped up.

I found myself wanting to experiment with leaning and foot placement. So I watched to make sure my feet were still landing beneath my waist, making sure I wasn't pushing off or twisting at all, and noticing how they felt. They felt great. I noticed that the distance between my foot placements (stride) was pretty far, despite my quick cadence. Interesting what leaning can accomplish. I felt I had good knee bend, like my legs were "S" shaped and like my legs and feet were lifting well behind me. I was passing quite a few walkers and slower runners. Nice. It felt like I had more freedom and less contact with the ground.

Then I saw some guy about 50 yards ahead of me moving at about the same speed I was. How hard would it be to catch him? More experimenting. I leaned even more. It felt precarious. I was "on the edge!" Checked my foot placement. Good. Checked for foot stability. Good. Checked for ankle comfort. Good. Checked my leg movement. Wings! I was flying! I caught up to the guy in seconds and kept on going. I ran on like this for about 1/2 mile more, passing all kinds of people. Is there a speed limit on this sidewalk?

Then I decided I should be careful and not risk hurting my ankle, even though my feet felt much more comfortable running this way than they do even when I walk. I finally stopped to reload with water and to stretch a little. Some of the people I had passed earlier caught up and were staring at me with big eyes. I know, the crazy barefoot guy.

I finished up going much more slowly, cooling off (recovering from a cold and fever the previous 3 days). I ran through some rougher surfaces, keeping my form, no problem. I met up with a lady who asked me a lot of questions about barefooting as we cooled off and walked back to our starting points. We had a nice discussion about form and technique, time needed to adapt, do I run in winter?, how far do I run? what are my goals? We compared running injuries, etc. All in all a very happy run.

Ryan
Vancouver Barefoot

Friday, May 26, 2006

Roughing It

I ran yesterday along a new route, about 5 miles, across the bridge connecting Washington State and Oregon. The surface was mostly rough with some stretches of really rough. We have cement sidewalks here in the Northwest with a corrugated pattern etched in, probably to help friction when the slime and mold grow. The corrugated edges are usually very rough and sharp.

I ran over them by really focusing on my form, being careful not to reach my feet out too far in front, and relaxing-relaxing-relaxing. It worked! Surfaces that used to slow me down and make me walk were manageable and I didn't have to stop at all.

The highlight of my run came when I passed a lady escorting two blind people, teaching them how to maneuver in a downtown city setting. She saw me and yelled, "ARE YOU CRAZY???" She was pretty upset for some reason. I guess working with the blind makes you very concerned about hazards, and going barefoot was out of reach of her acceptance levels. I replied to her, with a big smile, "Nope! I'm happy!"

A bike rider saw me running across the bridge that connects Washington and Oregon. He asked me if I swam the river and was running back. That would justify my bare feet, I suppose. I told him, Nope, I'm just running!



Ryan

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Repeat Performance

After my motivating, successful run last
Friday I decided to run the same course again last Monday, the 22nd. It was almost as good as last time. I actually ran a little bit further, just over 9 miles, and again, by concentrating on proper form, I had an enjoyable run. I felt just a little bit more tenderness on the soles of my feet due to a little skin erasure. I could feel that my form was not quite all there during some portions of my run, but mostly it went according to plan.

I was so excited by my recent successful runs that I got on a great website called MapMyRun.com and plotted out a number of different courses - some I have already run and others I would like to try. As I look forward to someday running a barefoot marathon, I plotted some longer courses - dreaming. You can see my courses by going to MapMyRun.com and checking out the courses for Vancouver, Washington. Not all of them are mine. There were a couple of others entered by other runners here. Wintler Park I is the course I've been running lately.


More and more, happily running barefoot in Vancouver!

Ryan

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Core Concepts

Another barefoot runner posted this comment about chi-running, or running from the "core."
I really like its concepts.

==================================================================

The subtleties of barefooting continue to reveal themselves; of late, the key seems to be in the core - or should I say "cores":
1) The core of our strength, in the navel just below the belly button
The basic "chi" form of engaging the core allows the very foundation of your strength to gently (and, ideally, quickly) pulse the hips alternately side to side and ever so slightly upward (I often envision the super-quick stride of the legendary "Pre" in the film "Without Limits." One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three...). This centrally-sourced motion swings the upper legs; along with a bended knee, it creates the sought-after "lift" of the feet.
2) The core of the Earth, to which we gravitate in a forward fall
Core strength, combined with lean from the ankles up, generates forward motion.
From time to time, I catch my self focusing on "lifting my feet," per se, or arm swing to facilitate rapid [foot] turnover. I just redirect my focus to the cores, and I'm flying again; distractions such as push-off abrasions, road conditions, or torquing ankles, achilles, or knees seem to melt magically away.
I LOVE this game!

Brett

===================================================================

Isn't that a great post?

Agony of Da Feet -- Euphoria of Success


Last Wednesday I tried running a new route I fashioned from my work down along the Columbia River. It was about 8.5 miles. I got to my turn around point and my feet just started aching. I ended up walking a good part of the way back, aiming for as much grass as I could for
relief, but even walking became very difficult and painful, grass or not. My skin was fine, it just felt like my bones were tired and over-stimulated. That was the 'agony of da feet.' Very disappointing.

Today I decided to re-do the same route - the old idea of "if you get bucked off, climb back on and show him who's boss!" I really focused on form: bent knees, putting my feet down beneath me, gentle BHB, etc. I decided to skip the grass and stick to the sidewalks/pavement, rough or not.

Today I was euphoric! I thoroughly enjoyed the run. I found myself just rolling along easily clicking off the miles, gentle rain making some nice puddles along the way. I arrived back at my work feeling very comfortable, my feet still feeling fresh. I felt like I could have kept running all day long! After the run, my feet feel absolutely no pain at all - just warm, happy tingling.

I'm convinced the difference was staying true to good form. There are subtle nuances, only different by fractions of an inch or slight variations of an angle, that make all the difference. Its easy to slip back into old habits because they can be so close to the correct form that they seem 'close' to right, but not 'quite' right. If I'm not careful I end up getting hurt by allowing my form to be just so slightly off and going too far that way.

Today I realized one problem I have to watch out for is allowing my shoulders to be too far back in relation to my waist. I tend to do this if I'm tired or if I'm on really rough surfaces. In my mind, its "un-cocking the gun" - losing the forward lean that gives me automatic propulsion. I then end up having to reach forward and "pull" with my legs and feet to keep moving forward, which makes my feet slap the ground with too much force and create shearing effects - wreaking havoc on my feet. Several times today I had to remind myself to "cock the gun" - pull my shoulders forward of my waist, keep my knees bent, put my feet down gently in BHB fashion. It worked. I had a great run, no discomfort, no damage, no skin erasure, no aching bones in my feet, and a feeling that I could have just kept on going and going.

Its days like last Wednesday that had me thinking I might have to go back to wearing shoes.

But its days like Today that make me think a marathon just might be in sight! Mark me down as one happy runner!

Ryan

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Running "Socks"

My previous post mentioned some running socks I made to help protect my feet when I don't want to be quite-barefoot. You can make a pair yourself like I did...

I bought a $12 pair of 5-fingered socks at REI and a can of plasticene at the hardware store (the stuff you dip tool handles in to coat them) about $6.

I slathered lotion on the soles of my feet to keep the paint from sticking to my skin (next time I'll use Vaseline), then I put the socks on and stood in a flat pan with some plasticene paint poured on the bottom of the pan. It took some doing to get the stuff to soak in to the fabric. This gave me painted surfaces on the soles of the socks across the pads of the toes, the ball of the foot, and the heel.

My socks are a light khaki green/tan color and I used black plasticene paint.

The plasticene does not offer much padding at all, its there mostly to protect the fabric from wearing out too quickly. I'll have to reapply it from time to time as the original coating starts wearing thin.

I thought it would be interesting to sew a bunch of zig-zag patterns across the soles of the socks with Kevlar thread (available at my local fly-fishing and tackle store) for additional strength. Next time! -- Ryan

A Nice Run!

Yesterday I went down to Portland for a run around the riverbanks of the Willamette River - verrrry nice surfaces. Then I decided to cut up into the city and find me one of those Immigration Marches.

Along the way I ran to REI and stopped in to see if they had any Vibram 5-Fingers. They didn't. I showed them my home-made version that I fashioned from 5-toed socks and platicene. They were impressed but didn't think they would start selling them any time soon.

I ran around and eventually heard drums and shouting, so I steered towards the parade. I was secretly hoping some news reporter would see the crazy barefoot guy and grab some footage of me. Didn't happen. I did entertain a lot of police who seemed to get a kick out of seeing me. The parade marchers were predictably noisy and respectfully gave way to let me run past them.

It was back to the river front sidewalks where I actually wore my personally-made 5-fingers for the first time just to see how they felt. I actually liked wearing them! Just enough shielding to help keep the skin from abrasions. A nice break.

I also experimented with some form techniques and think (once again) that I have crossed a new milestone in my development. I've learned that barefoot running requires some very subtle changes that are elusive to me. This time I concentrated on picking up my feet and setting them down like I was squashing bugs gently. Weird concept, I know, but it worked. The difference is in how I lifted my feet by raising my knees instead of by swinging my feet forward in an arc.

All in all, a very nice 6 or 7 mile run.

Ryan

Friday, April 14, 2006

Great Running Barefoot Pics

A barefoot runner named Rick Roeber, Lee's Summit, Missouri, ran the St. Louis Marathon on the 9th. He posted some pictures of himself on his website. One of them showed excellent running form! I'm posting it here for analysis.

These are the good things I see in his form: Straight body, torso and head erect, forward lean, knees bent, feet closely bunched together, ankle flexed, whole body relaxed, and happy! What a great example of good form!
Way to go, Rick!

His form reminds me of something else I wrote about running form. I keep noticing forms in the sense of triangles while running. I see shod runners and notice they seem to run as if their head were the apex of a triangle and their feet define the base of the triangle. In other words, their forward stride and backward strides seem to equal eachother so their head is near-center.

However, when I run, I envision that I am an upside-down triangle. My feet are the apex because I'm keeping them centered beneath my torso, trying to keep them confined to mostly up and down movement. If the plane of my body is back towards the rear wall of the triangle, then I'm only running in place. But if I move the plane of my body forward towards the front wall of the triangle, the triangle wants to tip over, and that forward pull moves me forward as I run.

Putting it another way, shod runners make their broad leg movements the source of their locomotion. I make my forward body angle the source of my locomotion. I have experimented with speeding up/slowing down just by changing the angle of my lean. Its kinda cool.

Ryan
Aha! Self Discovery Moment

Someone wrote on the Running Barefoot discussion board something about how hard it is to run downhill without getting foot problems. I replied with this:

Running downhill requires much less 'lean' than running on flat surfaces or uphill. Think less of leaning forward and more of placing your feet beneath your body with even quicker steps. If you "run in place" on a downhill slope, you will automatically move forward. If you wanted to stay in one place, you'd almost have to think about running 'backwards'. If you are extending your feet out in front of you thinking you need to 'brake', then you ARE creating extra friction on your soles. Keep those feet beneath you. Slow down by taking shorter steps and quicker sequences.

Calf cramping may be due to using a greater range of motion in those muscles and tendons. This can be compounded if you are still pushing off. For myself, I found that when I allowed myself to reach my foot too far forward with each stride, I tended to push off with the trailing foot to give me more 'air time' so I could have time to get my foot 'up there'. This led to the old running sequence of pushing off, leaping forward, and harsh slapping or pounding the ground with my forward foot. I still fight that tendency!

Now, I think about simply picking up my foot by lifting my heel towards my butt and putting my foot down directly beneath my body. Quicker sequence. Smaller steps. Forward progress is achieved by leaning from the ankles.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I just realized something else I'm doing wrong!

(ALERT! Self discovery moment here!)

If I am afraid of stepping on gravel, sticks or glass I tend to carefully watch the surface where I will put each foot. Its like I am 'aiming' for clear spots. But in order to 'aim' I need to see where my foot is going to land. Its best to run with my head up instead of crooning forward from my neck or my waist, so in order to watch my foot actually landing I have to reach my foot a little forward so its in my field of vision. Then I'm no longer running with good form - my feet are no longer being placed directly under my body, and I suffer for it.

My best runs have been when I've abandoned my fear of stepping on things, stopped looking directly at my feet and kept my feet directly under my body. I am then concentrating on *lifting* my feet instead of *placing* my feet. I still generally watch where I am going, but my visual focus is not on that spot 18 inches or even 12 inches in front of my foot. Its more like 10 to 20 feet out (3 - 5 meters). In fact, I cannot even see my feet landing when they are properly directly beneath my body!

Whew! Who knew that running would be so much mental as it is physical?

HINT: To help me get over the fear of stepping on things and the fear of pain while running, I use a technique called "EFT" - Emotional Freedom Technique. Learn about it for free here: www.emofree.com

Truly break-through information and help!!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

New Barefoot PB

PB means 'personal best'. Yesterday I went out for a run in downtown Vancouver, Washington. I have a loop-type course I like to run that is 4 miles. I ran it and was feeling pretty good! In the past I've had a lot of issues with rubbing skin on my feet a little thin, due to incorrect form. Plus I thought I got a piece of glass in my left foot about 2 weeks ago, went in to the doctor for exploratory, found nothing, so my foot's been healing from that fun experience.

I was happy to run the four miles without any real issues happening! So I decided to keep going and run it again. The second time was even better than the first! I was more relaxed, not thinking about 'running' as much as I was thinking about my form. There's this one section of wild field I chose to run through, full of weeds and grasses, pretty lumpy. In order to avoid any surprises, I had to really pick up my heels and be careful to place my feet down beneath my body - not out in front. This was a much needed hamstring exercise for me. When I got back onto the sidewalk I kept this form up and felt like it really helped my running technique!

So I finished the second loop (8 miles) and thought "Hey, let's do it again!" So I ran it again. My feet were starting to get a little tender, so I was really concentrating on form, form, form! I felt pretty good throughout the next 3 miles, including through the field again. But around mile 11 I got tired and my form suffered because of it. I completed the 12 mile run, not in the best time, but still something to make me happy and proud.

Now, to just do it again, stronger and with better form throughout!!

Run On!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hello, Spring!

It appears Spring is really going to stick around this time. We had some unusually warm weather a while back followed by some very cold, nasty weather. But things are looking good out there lately. I'm starting to "refurbish" my garden by adding fresh sawdust and peat moss. The old stuff gradually rots away and my garden level starts looking only about 1/2 full. That's probably because its half sand. So I add more organic material to it and fluff it up a bunch each Spring. I've already added one helping of fertilizer and soil sweetener and one helping of bug pellets, getting it ready to plant.

With my running, I thought I got a piece of glass in my foot almost 2 weeks ago. I waited about four days to see if it got better, but I kept on feeling something poking me in my foot, so I went in to the doctors to see if he could get it out. He did lots of probing and mangling but couldn't find any "foreign body" in my foot. Thanks a lot! $225 later and now I'm healing from a much bigger hole in my foot. I just started running again a couple of days ago, slowly, and I can feel the scar tissue like a lump in my foot. I think it will gradually work its way out with use. I can't feel the sharp sensation I felt earlier, so maybe the doc did something good after all.

I got an urge to play guitar and last week I went out and bought a used12-string Alvarez, then took it in to a shop and they told me it had some serious problems. I shouldn't have bought it. But while in the shop they showed me a very nice 6 string guitar that I ended up buying with a case, something to learn on. I'm checking out getting the 12-string repaired, hopefully it can be done without costing me too much. I think I still want to sell it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Iraq

I read someone's blog which said:

America has launched a new air attack on Iraq.
This means more unneccesary casualties in what is an unneccesary war in the first place.

I responded as follows:

No, actually, Iraqis, with American support, have launched an air and ground attack against foreign criminal terrorists whose sole purpose is to prevent the Iraqi people from having a choice in their lives and in their government. These terrorists are lurking in back streets and underground holes, and are just as willing to kill Iraqis as they are Americans. If America abandons this moral and just cause, those criminals will only kill a whole lot more Iraqis and destroy all civilization there.

Its attitudes like yours that permit totalitarian monsters to feed off the blood, death, and terror of their victims, unchecked.

If you don't see the error of your views, then prepare to start having to pray to Allah ("the merciful") five times a day whether you want to or not -- or watch your wife be gang raped and your children be tortured before your eyes just before the monsters cut off your head!


Friday, February 24, 2006

This Week's Running Progress

Trying to get back into things after resting my feet to let them recover from some small things, I went running four days in a row. It would have been five except last Monday was frigid here, more than I wanted to tackle. Tuesday, four miles. Wednesday, four miles. Thursday, four miles plus a little bit. Today, Friday, 6 miles. I was afraid that running every day would leave my feet raw, but it hasn't! The area I have been running has some very harsh sidewalks. In order to prevent soem foot pain and a recurring blood blister on my left Big Toe, I've really been concentrating on my form. It paid off! No problems, even through the rough stuff. And my feet did not feel stiff and crampy after my runs. So I must be doing something right.

FYI the form I'm working on maintaining is this: Keeping knees bent more. Keeping feet right beneath the body. My rule is to not put my toes in front of my thighs. Maintaining an even height - no bobbing up and down. Keeping my cadence high, 180 per minute. Plus a new thing. I decided that my left foot has been pointed too far to the inside, so I'm focusing on keeping it pointed slightly outward. Since thinking about this an ankle pain I've had for the past month has not been bothering me this week at all. Plus I have not gotten the blood blister on my left Big Toe like I did before. I have been trying to focus more on form than on speed, yet my times are not all that bad.

A very good running week! Now, to increase my distances and to run each day!

Vancouver Barefoot

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Update

Well, I went out running yesterday in beautiful sunny weather and ran for only about three miles. I was pressed for time plus I didn't want to push my feet to where they might get injured, so I took it easy with several walking breaks along the way. It was a very pleasant experience, my feet handled it very well. Saturday's little cuts did not bother me at all.

I tried to out today, but work was wayyy to pressing and I didn't have time, plus our temperature took a dive and it has been much colder all day today.

I still might get out later today, just because I want to set up a pattern of daily running again.

Happy trails!

Ryan
Vancouver Barefoot

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Running Pics

I finally got a couple of pics of me dressed for barefoot running! Here they are...


I went out running last weekend and did 8 miles. The course I followed started and ended really badly. The first and last 2 miles were covered with lots and lots of tiny gravel on the sidewalks, leftovers from when they sanded the streets for ice a couple of months ago. The gravel ends up getting knocked up on the sidewalk and nobody ever cleans those off! The back half of the course was very nice, an asphalt bike path that was relatively clear and smooth.

Between work, church, and temple service, I end up wearing shoes most of the time, so my feet get kind of soft in between runs. This didn't help my Saturday success much. I got a few little cuts on my right foot. Strange, its usually my left foot that gets the most damage.

I'm thinking I need to run more frequently, not necessarily longer. So, I'm going out today (Wed) for the first time since Saturday's run.

Ardidub
Barefoot in Vancouver

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Barefoot in Singapore

Well, the week of my vacation has arrived! Last Monday my wife and I traveled to Singapore to stay with some friends of ours there.

Today, Thursday, I ventured out for a barefoot run. I haven't figured out how far I went yet. I'm guessing about 5 miles or so. The sidewalks and streets are amazingly friendly to bare feet. They've been going through one of the worse monsoons in the past 15 years - lots and lots of steady downpours. They all complain about it and how "cold" it is. I'm loving every bit of it. The sidewalks get a thorough flushing every few hours, leaving them squeaky clean. The temperature has dropped to a comfortable 82 F degrees (about 27 C). The Singporeans are practically shivering in their sandals, I'm loving it.

Today when I started out it was very humid, dry, but the air was very heavy. After my turn around point a couple of clouds must have collided, because suddenly we got a torrential downpour. I loved running through all the new puddles, watching the locals tip-toeing around them. I was wet to the skin, but it was a warm rain, like having a personal shower while running. I got quite a few stares - they were probably surprised to see an old, chubby white guy running with no shoes. I ran down to an area called Little India. They didn't seem surprised to see me at all. Some of these folks walk on coals and pointed nails, so I was just a rank amateur by their standards!

I met an old bearded holy man. He offered to bring me "good luck" for only a dollar. I wish I had something on me to give him - I can always use a little more good luck! We walked and talked for a bit. He asked me how long I exercised each day (a couple of hours). He observed my bare feet and commented on how good it was for the ankles and knees, but warned me about not stepping on glass. I thanked him for his concern and went on my way - feeling just a little bit more lucky despite not having a dollar to give him. I'm thinking of loading up with some money tomorrow just to try to "get lucky".

If today was any indication of how tomorrow's run is going to be, I'm looking forward to having a good time - lucky or not!

Ryan
Vancouver Barefoot, aka
Singapore Barefoot

Friday, January 06, 2006

Thoughts on a Different Subject


I read on another blog somewhere, this:

"It's amazing to me how many men don't wash their hands after using the restroom at the mall or other public places."

I confess I am sometimes one of those men. It depends on what I went in there to accomplish. If we're talking about going #1, then I may or may not wash up afterwards. I supposed it depends on whether there are other people in there at the time. If someone else is there, I will do a quick rinse afterwards, a kind of ritual hand-washing, not intended to sterilize my hands but to give the impression that I am being sanitarily consciensious. If we're talking about #2, then I will always wash my hands with a good scrubbing, the way a health nurse would teach.

Does this gross you out?

I think other guys understand why men might not wash. Women probably don't get it. Here's why:

I shower every morning before heading out for the day. I consider myself clean, even on my privates. I never put them where they don't belong, so I am not afraid of disease spreading. Going #1 is not inherently dirty. Urine is biologically sterile. I'm careful when I "go" so I don't have a problem with the flow going anywhere but where it is supposed to. Guys know that going #1 is basically a clean and simple operation for them, no fuss, no mess.

So where's the need for meticulous hand-washing afterwards?

Some will say its because you touch the handle when you flush. There is no reason to believe that the handle of a urinal is any more or less dirty than the handle on a car door, a door knob, or a telephone. In fact, its probably a lot cleaner. Bathrooms get scrubbed down with powerful disinfectants very frequently. Handles (or hands) in other places rarely get such a thorough cleaning.

There's always the valid reason that it just makes good sense to wash our hands frequently, and so we should take advantage of the opportunity when its convenient. That may be true. However, how many times has a person gone into a bathroom only to adjust clothing, check hair or make-up, and not washed their hands, even though its convenient?

I think the whole concept of hand washing after using the bathroom is part of the difference between men and women. Women were generally taught about their privates as being that non-descript place "down there" without really differentiating between one orifice and another. They were probably taught that this region is dirty, as a motivation to get them to learn to wash up afterwards. For women, going #1 and going #2 involve approximately the same amount of preparation, fuss, and clean-up.

Men are taught about their private orifices being more distinct and separate. Going #1 is no big deal; simple access, do the job and zip up, no wiping, quick and efficient. Going #2 involves more preparation, fuss and clean-up, so it stands apart as a distinct experience for men, with a much more dirtier connotation to it than going #1.

So, the emphasis on the need to wash hands after using the bathroom for men, at least speaking of going #1, is more of an objective standard (to pass public muster) than it is a subjective one (are my hands really contaminated?)

I believe hands are much more likely to become contaminated by simple contact with other surfaces and especially by other people's hands. How many times have you seen someone cough or sneeze into their hands and NOT rush off to wash them?

Now, just to give the ladies something more to be worried about: Men's urinals are usually not very well designed to prevent the dreaded "splash back." When we go #1, there is often some amount of spray that gets deposited on our pants, usually in the area between the crotch and the knees. Its not much, but there can be a fine mist left behind. I don't know of ANY men who rush home and change their pants after going #1 because of a little splash back. Its something we don't think about - and its probably something that women have never even considered! So, instead of worrying about our hands, perhaps you should be more worried about our pants instead!

Here, this ought to really gross you out: How often are you concerned about the cleanliness of the bottoms of your shoes? You walk through all kinds of spittle, feces, urine, tobacco juice, animal hair, organic matter, etc. etc. and it gets all over the bottoms of your shoes, more so if your shoes have any kind of pattern on them. Do you scrub the bottoms of your shoes as often or as thoroughly as you wash your hands?

Then you go home and walk on your floors and carpets with those same dirty shoes. Then you, your kids or your pets lay down on those filthy, contaminated floors and roll around in it. Ewwww! Before you critize someone like me for not washing their hands after urinating, check your own soles for cleanliness!

Enough on this topic! I'm washing my hands of it, ... er, getting it off my chest...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Born-Again Bigotry

It has apparantly become chic to practice bigotry against Christianity.

Too often the general public condones or even applaudes outright "faith-ism" against Christians by a vocal few who want to make a name for themselves. Somehow it is not okay to ridicule minority groups, but it is okay to ridicule majority groups. If a little bit of bigotry is unacceptable - how is a whole lot of it okay?

It used to be that the occasional anti-religious primadonna was viewed generally with a roll of the eyes and a shrug of the shoulders, with some reference to practicing free speech. Now such views are being generally accepted. Consider the public uproar over whether to call a decorated tree a "Christmas" or a "holiday" tree; the pledge of allegiance; what greeting stores should use to their customers in the period just before December 25th. These may all seem rather trivial in and of themselves, but they are indicators of a current trend that seems to be growing.

Now, NBC has scheduled to run a weekly show called The Book of Daniel which appears to be yet another bigoted attack against the religion of Christians. There is a movement afoot to call and protest to the local NBC affiliates and to the sponsors of this show. www.afa.net

I support this counter-protest. Imagine the public uproar if they were to try to run a weekly show making fun of or slamming niggers or fags! We would not tolerate it. Yet here is a show that is a direct slam against religious people and practices. We should not tolerate it, either.

Faith. Power to the People.