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.

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:

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.