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!


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!


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.

Vancouver Barefoot