Saturday, February 28, 2009

All the Fastest Snowshoe Racers in New England Showed Up...

...and I WON!!!
OK, not really...first see the post below about dreaming dogs!

Actually I entered the Joppa Hill Snowshoe Sprint race in Bedford, NH and won the race out of a small field of very enthusiastic snowshoe racers. All of the fast guys were somewhere else.

It was another great race put on by Michael Amarello and 3C Race Productions. Due to rain and warmer temperatures the snow season is melting away, but Michael kept the course snow-filled and full of variety. We had to do two loops, but that worked out real well for me as I tend to get lost often.

The race was at The Educational Farm at Joppa Hill. It looks like an interesting place and I'll have to find out more about what they do there. The world's largest port-a-jon was in the barn. I wasn't sure if it was for horses or people at first. The farm had horses and a small burro (or donkey) and sheep sharing a fenced in area right before the start. They were so happy to see people that the little donkey kept running around and getting the sheep running too. It was fun to watch, but it did remind me of my fourth graders a bit and I am supposed to be on vacation and not thinking about them!

There were about 15 people in the two races (one lap or two). I had the lead from the start and hoped the course was well marked. After a short distance we had to run next to a fence and this was the trickiest part of the race as my feet kept breaking through the top layer of snow and sending me off balance. Then the course had a mixture of rolling up and downhills and two little stream crossings. I wasn't sure if I was still on the course after the second crossing and stopped to see if the other racers were following me or if I had gone too far. They signaled me to go on and I eventually found the hill with the turn-around. I came back down and could see and urge on all the other racers as I headed back on the same trail to the start, only to turn around and do the loop again.

I think I won by about a minute or so. I was told both of my laps were done in about the same time. I like the out and back nature of a course like this and found this a fun and entertaining course to run. It would have been nice to have a racer or two to chase during the race as I probably wasn't running as hard as in other races but it was nice to finally win my age division in any race since turning 50 and not only that but to actually win a race. I also came away with a Fuel-Belt as an award. I think this is the end of the snowshoe season. I did four races. After getting my racing snowshoes ten years ago with the intention of entering races, I finally did so this year!

Here are the results from the race:

4.4K Results

1 25:39 Jim Hansen Gate City Striders 50 M Nashua NH
2 27:55 Joe Merriam acidotic RACING 49 M Franklin NH
3 31:39 Bill Howard 60 M Winchester MA
4 32:24 Gary Reuter acidotic RACING 69 M Kittery ME
5 32:57 Michael Amarello acidotic RACING 45 M Merrimack NH
6 33:00 Rand Snyder 20 M Stratham NH
7 36:50 Nancy Brome Sweetie Pies 46 F Manchester NH
8 37:10 Gordon Snyder 59 M Stratham NH
9 39:02 Richard Dinovo Sweetie Pies 41 M Goffstown NH
10 40:24 George Brome Sweetie Pies 47 M Manchester NH

2.2K Results

1 13:33 Brian Crockett acidotic RACING 50 M Gilmanton NH
2 23:52 Karyn Merriman 46 F Bedford NH
3 44:09 Belinda King 34 F Bedford NH
4 44:26 Rheya King 5 F Bedford NH
5 44:27 Stanley King 35 M Bedford NH

Dreaming About Running?

Do you ever have a dream where you are out running? or racing? or running and being chased by a dog? or some other type of evil creature? Well here is a video of a dog who dreams of running while fast asleep. The poor dog finally was catching whatever it was chasing...and then...

Do you ever have dreams where you are out running and you hit "The Wall"?

Then you should have some empathy for Bizcit the dog.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Great Day of Running on the Cape!

I went down to Cape Cod to visit my parents for a couple of days. After arriving on Thursday I put on my running gear and headed out for a run. My hips were feeling good so I started thinking that I might do more than the 5 miles I had planned. My parents live in Falmouth, right off the road at about the 18.5 mile mark of the Cape Cod Marathon (which makes for a great place to quit the race on a bad day!). I headed out on the marathon course and ran about two miles to Woods Hole. That is where the course joins together with about 200th yard of the Falmouth Road Race course. I ran the route of both races and hit Nobska Lighthouse, where my wife and daughters were enjoying the afternoon, so my daughter took a picture (if you know the course, you will note that I did turn around for the photo to get the lighthouse in the picture). Since I was feeling so good and the weather was perfect for running I kept going and did the whole Falmouth Road Race course. Then I kept going down to Little Pond and back up through Falmouth Heights to run by the house I grew up in on Lake Leamon Road. So many things have changed. My old style Cape house has doubled in size with additions and a huge garage. I ran through my old neighborhood and headed back to my parents house. It was a great run. I ended up doing a little more than 14 miles. I felt energetic and was never tired the whole way. My hips weren't perfect but they weren't painful or stuck in bad positions. It was one of those rare wonderful days where everything falls together.

Things are coming together in many ways and I hope it is a good sign for a good running year. Last year was my worst year ever so any improvement will be welcomed.

I have now completed four weeks on the Warrior Diet. Basically I am eating healthy foods and leaving out the processed or sugary foods. I have lost some weight but I feel I am fueling myself so much better. In the four weeks I have only had two cookies and two bowls of ice cream. I used to eat more than that most days! I did my 14 mile run in the afternoon, after only drinking a protein drink for breakfast, eating some fruit and cheese for lunch, and a Balance Bar before the run.

My hips and back have been the best they have been in over 25 years. That is no lie! However they feel great when I am not running and just walking or sitting. I am still working on getting them balanced for running. At the beginning of the year I started doing a leg press against my own resistance of my arms. This seems to put the hips and pelvis back into some balance. A couple of weeks ago I made up my own stretch that hits the point where my pelvis connects to the sacrum. Sometimes when I do this right it does some magical realigning. I am still experimenting with it but when things back there start tightening up it relieves a lot of my symptoms. I can walk and sit and not have the pains in my hips and psoas that have bothered me daily since about 1983 when I started doing triathlons! It has also relieved the tension and tightnesses in my legs. I think I am finally learning how to get my hips and pelvis back into alignment. When that happens the muscles throughout my body no longer have to react and compensate.

I did get a couple of DVDs that I had ordered this week. The doctor calls what many people have the Malalignment Syndrome. I have watched most of the DVDs and I like the explanations of different pelvic rotations: inflare/outflare, forward/backwards rotations, and upslip/downslip. The DVD shows you how to assess yourself as well as how to correct these rotations through Muscle Energy Techniques, Contract/Relax, and traction. I haven't tried the remedies yet, but I did note that one of the techniques is exactly what I have been doing on my own since January. Now I know why it seems to work. The DVDs are very educational as I understand things and terms a whole lot better now. I will review the DVDs at a later date after I have tried the techniques.

It has taken many years, but as my wife noted after my long run, things are improving. She said that this was the first time I have been able to ride in a car for a couple of hours and get out and run. Usually my back is so sore from the car ride and I have to stretch or try to do something to feel "right" before a run and usually I can never get to that point. All that I had to do on Thursday was put on my shoes and head out the door!

I also noticed that Emily's (my daughter) camera had some great pictures of the Falmouth Mile men's and women's races last summer that she took. I will put a few up here. Nice Job, Emily!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shoes that Mimic Barefoot Movements: Running and Walking

I gave up on running shoes a few years ago. As much as I enjoy running and trying out the newest technologies and shoe designs, I was becoming completely frustrated with what the running shoe companies were coming out with as training shoes. I could not find a running shoe that I was comfortable running in at all. It all came to a head a few years back when I was training for a Fall marathon and I was in decent shape. I had no training shoe that I liked and Nike just came out with something called the Shox. I tried it out and thought it was pretty comfortable at first. Then I went for a 25 mile workout with some friends in them. I thought I was fine, but the next day I had my problems with my knee that kept me out of running for a few months.

I decided to go with what I enjoyed running in. I always liked running in racing shoes. Of course, I was always told not to do that as they would wear out too quickly and that I would harm myself from too much pounding. I found that with my weird stride the racing shoes had the least amount of support and that allowed my feet and my foot muscles to "do their own thing" as I ran. I started using up all the older pairs of racing shoes I had around. Then I had to find shoes to buy. Unfortunately stores around here don't well racing shoes. I found some models I liked such as the Asics Tiger Paw, but then Asics would stop making them and after using up all the last ones I could find online, I still had a tough time finding shoes. I tried some retro shoes. I found some Tiger 81's that I wore for awhile and some retro waffle trainers from Nike. I had wore many pairs of these when they were the current technology back when I was in college. The funny things about the retro version was that I got blisters on the same spot on my foot as I had when I wore the real versions years earlier. I still could not find a shoe that I really enjoyed running in.

I tried out some Puma H-Street "fashion" shoes that some minimalist runners were using and very much enjoyed them (except for the colors). They were basically a thin layer of rubber sole with a track spike upper. They weren't made for running in but they were great for running in. I used them for a few years including racing in them up to 1/2 marathons. I still have a few pair for walking around in (the slightly heavier leather ones) and one good pair left for running, but like all good shoes, Puma stopped making them and I could not find them cheap on eBay any more.

This summer I started using Asics Hyperspeeds for all of my running. The model I liked was upgraded to a model, Hyperspeed 2, that I didn't like as much, but that I have been wearing since October. Oh my, it is time for a new pair as most of my training and racing have been in that same pair. I tend to get plenty of miles out of a pair of racing shoes. There is a Hyperspeed 3 and I guess that is what I will have to try next, even though I read it is a narrower fit. The other thing about the Hyperspeed 2 is that it has holes in the bottom. This is not a good thing for winter running here in New Hampshire.

What I really like is that it is not just some runners who are getting into minimalistic shoes. It seems that shoes companies (and not just Nike with the Nike Frees) that are making shoes that allow your feet and and the muscles of the feet do the work when walking so as to strengthen your feet like you would do if you were walking barefoot. I have had 3 pairs of Nike Frees, but my favorite was the original which they don't make anymore (isn't that a common thing with running shoes?). The thing with the Nike Frees is that "you can leave your old self behind".

I wrote how much I enjoy using the Vivo Barefoot Dharma shoes here. They are a definite hit with my feet. There are other companies following similar ideals in the design of their shoes to give your feet a more natural stride. Here are some interesting shoes that I have found.

The Sanuk sandals look like an interesting shoe. It is really a sandal base with a canvas upper. I don't ever wear flip flops or sandals but these seem like they would be comfortable for kicking around in when you are wearing shorts in the summer. I think my Vivo's just wouldn't make the cut. But what do I know about fashion. I am most interested in comfort!

Feelmax is a shoe company in Finland that is coming out with shoes that simulate barefoot movement. These look very light and flexible, sort of like the pair of wrestling shoes I had in high school. I am not even sure if you can get these in the United States yet, but they look comfortable.

The Ecco Biom is a shoe I first heard about on ruuner author Matt Fitzgerald's blog. The Ecco Biom Project website is fairly graphics intensive (sort of like Nike's) so it is hard to move around quickly. It looks to be quite a technical and expensive running shoe, particularly if you get the Yak leather version. Although it doesn't look like it in the pictures, it claims to have a low heel where the heel remains close to the ground. The web site claims it allow natural foot movement. The concept is that excess cushioning and external support is not what is needed in a running shoe. They claim that the shoe allows your foot to do what it was created to do, because the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the foot were designed to run, let them run. I like this philosophy so it is interesting to see how this will translate into a running shoe that looks pretty technical and includes a training plan to adjust your feet to the shoe. Of note is that when the Nike Free first came out and I bought a pair a training plan was in the box to slowly help you adjust to the shoe. It worked fine for me from the first 8 mile workout I did in them. The are supposed to debut in March this year, so it will be interesting to read the reviews. I bought a pair of Newtons when they first came out and they were just as expensive. They sit in my closet unused because me feet were too wobbly in them.

Then there is the Vibram Five Fingers shoe. Some runners swear by these for the ultimate barefoot running experience without being barefoot. They seem really weird looking to me. Maybe I'll try a pair someday because the concept sounds natural.

If it is the upper of the shoe that bothers you, you could try out these topless sandals from You just stick them on the bottom of your feet and go.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Kettlebell Basics to Improve Running Form and Effeciency

I have been getting back to basics with my kettlebells. My goal over the past week or so has been to do just a few kettlebell exercises each day. I have chosen three exercises to concentrate on. They are the turkish getup, the swing, and the snatch. Check out the Pain Free Kettlebell Method here.

My key daily exercise is the turkish get up. Here is a quick video of someone doing one getup. I am doing about 5 minutes of getups for each side of the body.

This video show different stages of performing the Turkish getup. As you can see it works the whole body as you move from a supine position to a lunge and then a standing position. You have to stabilize throughout the body. It also helps the connection between the shoulder and the hips. As my hips are rotating through the positions I hear little pops and shifts that I hope mean that I am loosening and strengthening the hip area as I do the movements.

The most basic of kettlebell movements is the swing. It trains the hips, legs, back, and core.

Here is a video showing the kettlebell swing.

This is my favorite kettlebell exercise: the kettlebell snatch. This is a very pleasing exercise to do when you get it right. If not you can bang up your wrists quite a bit. I am just the barely the right height for doing this indoors in my house. An inch taller and the kettlebell would bounce off or through the ceiling.

One day I would like to get some kettlebell training. There is a new kettlebell gym in Nashua that I would like to visit and get some expert tips. I have used videos to learn the techniques. Getting a good instructional video is important so that you do the routines properly. Youtube can give you an idea of what to do but it is hard to sift through the good and poor instructions if you don't know what you are doing.

My newest video comes from Sarah Cheatham at Red Star Athletics.
She has sold out of her initial pressing of DVDs but you can sign up to know when she has more produced. She is an excellent instructor and you can learn some Z-Health joint mobility drills in addition to the kettlebell instructions on her DVD.

I also like the Kettlebell Goddess DVD. It is not just for the ladies! It has instruction and routines based on the type of training you choose.

Pavel Tsatsouline's DVDs will give you the basics on how to do the movements with a bit of humor.

I always enjoy exercising that involve endurance and movement. I have not been diligent with strength exercises which is probably one reason I have imbalance problems. The kettlebells are fun because the work on your stamina and movement. They are also a superb way to work on functional strength. I do like using them and think they can be an effective way to improve running form and efficiency.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Alphabet Routine for Ankles, Knees, and Hips

Here is a good little exercise called the Alphabet Routine. It comes from coach Jay Johnson. Anything that helps the ankle, knee, and hips is good for me and hopefully will help with my alignment, balance, and running economy. Notice that is it the standing leg that is doing the work. It is like a more intensive version of some Z-Health drills. All of which are meant to improve your neuromuscular system.

The best set of running specific exercises and drills that I have seen are Jay Johnson's "Building a Better Runner: Building from the Ground Up" DVD's 1 and 2. Jay sent me the DVD's back before Christmas as I helped him a bit as he was putting them together. I have gone through his preview DVD's a couple of times each to check them over but there is so much in these DVD's to learn and try that I have been reluctant to add the routines to my own running just yet. I have done a few of the routines but I believe I am not fully ready for them yet and will save them for when I get my hips fully working and in balance (I am getting closer!).

The exercises include Preventive Routines, General Strength and Warm-Ups. There is so much to pick and choose from and I believe these are geared for strong runners on up to elite runners. In fact Olympian Christian Smith demonstrates many of the routines. If you are looking to advance your running to new levels of strength you can check out more on these DVDs here. On this post last fall I discussed one of the DVDs.

UPDATE: One thing I forget about the DVDs (and there are two DVD's in each DVD pack) is that the videos are also in Ipod and Windows format. It was easy to copy the videos onto my Ipod Touch so I can more ealily play them wherever I am. So now I have started working through a few of the drills and routines slowly as I learn what may work best for me.

Here is a video of Christian Smith that shows how he made the Olympic team.

and after the dive.

Who Let the Horses Out?

I saw this video of the Criterium International in 1997 and it reminded me of the Hollis Fast 5 Road Race in June 2008 where two horses got loose and ran across the back of the pack. One horse sprinted ahead on the left side of the course going into traffic while us shocked runners watched him go by. His saddle had fallen back and the horse was trying to kick it off as well as catch race leader, Nate Jenkins, who is pictured here. I don't know if he knew the horse was coming (I guess he did) but I think he was ready to outrun the horse! I think the horse veered off the course (or fell over) at one point. I didn't see. I wish there were photos or a video somewhere as it was the strangest thing I have seen in a race.

Here are horse crashes of a different sort during the Tour de France.

Actually there seems to be a lot of horses ready to race. This video is from the 2007 Tour de Suisse.

It would be very interesting to have a race photo of the horse joining the Hollis race. Can you imagine the grins it would give! How about this race video at Sunday' Austin Marathon. Imagine seeing yourself in the video with the meteor!

I saw something like this when I was in eight grade delivering newspapers. I lived in Falmouth and delivered papers on parts of the Falmouth Road Race course. I was at about the 5 1/2 mile mark across from Falmouth Harbor, where the bandstand is today, and even though it was still daylight outside, I saw a fireball like this streak across the sky. It was pretty spectacular. I can only guess that it was a meteor.

Speaking of crashes at the Hollis Fast 5. At the first running of the event the finish line was about 20 yards beyond a tight 90 degree turn into the parking lot of the landscaping place. They no longer have that corner there anymore. The race now finishes in a straight line on the road. Race director George LeCours hinted that he was going to call that corner "Hansen's Corner". While finishing the race I saw I was about to break 18 minutes on the course clock and tried to go fast and quick through that corner. I was a little too quick and slid out on the silt on the side of the road doing a spectacular sliding fall (at least to me). I quickly got up with quite a bit of road rash but did not break 18 minutes (I know it is a downhill course!).

Here is the photo taken seconds before the fall.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why I Like Running

Running is sort of a safe sport (besides overuse or muscular injuries). Other sports are not so safe. Some activities probably should not even be called sports. Have you ever seen wingsuit base jumpers? These guys are completely nuts but they can really fly! Check out this video.

I remember seeing a show on these guys a few years ago and one jumper misjudged the bridge he was jumping under and killed himself so this is not the best sport to try, but it is simply cool to watch when they get it right! I think I will stick to my running!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Horse Hill 7K Snowshoe Race

photos by Steve Wolfe

Today I did my third ever snowshoe race and all three races have been my only my only time on snowshoes this year. The race was in Merrimack, NH at the Horse Hill Nature Preserve and was again put on by Michael Amarello and 3C Race Productions. All three of the races that I have done this year on snowshoes were well produced and different in race design and difficulty to make snowshoe racing fun and complex enough to be a great winter sport. I am happy to have these races put on so close to my home as well as them being cheap and easy to enter.

I had some idea of the course because I did a couple of snowshoe workouts on these trails last year with Steve Wolfe and Bill Morse. I knew there were hills and dodgy trail, but I knew it wasn't going to be as bad as the Feel Good Farms race in Lyndeborough, NH. I haven't been getting many running miles in lately (10-20 miles a week) due to my hip imbalances and a hamstring problem that disappeared suddenly after two weeks where I really couldn't run. But I have been dieting and eating healthy so I felt pretty good and lighter in weight than I have been before the race. The trails and weather seemed perfect and the only thing that was bothersome was that some snowshoers that had previewed the course said the downhills looked icy and treacherous. I wasn't too happy with that report since I had such difficulties going downhill at the Feel Good Farms race (well I had difficulties on the flats and uphills there too!).

I was happy to see two first time snowshoe racers show up from the Gate City Striders (besides Steve Wolfe and myself). There was Tom Kolb, who most of the younger Striders probably don't realize was one of the best masters runners that the Striders have had in years, and Michael Wade (who I was hoping had some big heavy- maybe wooden-snowshoes to run in because it has been a year or two since I have placed ahead of him in a race).

The start was narrow but the snowshoers had pretty much seeded themselves accurately. I could seen Jim Johnson ahead (briefly going for another win) and Steve Wolfe a bit ahead with a couple other racers. This is Steve's hometown course and I was hoping and expecting him to put up a good fight for second place. I was in a pack with a handfull of racers and I was happy enough to see Mike Wade striding out ahead. I didn't know if he would crash and burn later because he didn't really have the racing snowshoes that the other competitors had, but Mike is tough and fit so I was interested to see what would happen with him.

My group started going single file. I was heavily winded (something that I notice happens at the start of these races) and I wasn't sure if I was going too fast or not fast enough. Scotty Graham (my 50+ competition) was a bit ahead of me in the group so I figured I should settle into my pace. On the uphills some of the guys walked. I jogged at the same pace because it was hard to pass going up. I was tentative around corners as I didn't want to crash but the course was varied and fun and well groomed. On a flat section I looked down at my watch and fell. I was quickly up but one of the two Dungeon Rock Racers I had just passed a bit earlier got by me again.

I was not wearing a hat which worked out well but my upper body was overdressed (two shirts and a vest). I was heating up a bit too much and took my gloves off. Somewhere along the way I passed the racer ahead of me. I think I did better on the uphills (which is funny as I am not an uphill runner). I was slower on the downhills however (when running I love downhills). On the last steep downhills I was too tentative and Dan Cooper went flying by me. I am not sure if he was the guy I was trading places with earlier or just someone who finished fast and passed me and the two Dungeon Rock Racing guys that finished behind me.

I could see Scotty Graham ahead of me most of the race and I almost caught him on the uphills but I was in no way ready to compete with him and wasn't thinking of doing so- but I wouldn't mind if I gave him a bit of a worry if he looked back at the swithbacks! He was the 50+ top dog and the results say he was only 21 seconds ahead but it could just as easily have been a half mile. 21 seconds is a lot of time in a snowshoe race! But I am improving as he beat me by 23 seconds at the Beaver Brook race. At this rate oif progression I may place ahead of him after 11 more races!

I enjoyed this race more than the first two races. Beaver Brook was flatter and fast but this had a more challenging and varied terrain plus it was fun running in a line of snowshoers throughout the race. My hip wasn't jamming up today and I felt looser than in the first two races but I was still very much imbalanced between my left and right sides, but it is something I am working on with some deep hip stretches I am making up that I have never seen anywhere else but they seem to get at tightnesses is my lower back and sacrum with the muscles or ligaments that seem so tight back there.

Mike Wade turned out to be a brilliant snowshoer as he finished fourth overall in his first race. Steve Wolfe finished 2nd and Tom Kolb had the gnarliest spit and sweat covered face at the end of his race!

Results are here:

The top 15 and a few others are listed here:
1 30:41 Jim Johnson 31
2 36:03 Steve Wolfe 44
3 36:51 Chris Dunn 40
4 38:11 Michael Wade 40
5 39:03 Reeder Fahnestock 29
6 39:21 Patrick Smith 46
7 39:48 Scott Graham 50
8 39:52 Jay Myers 38
9 40:04 Dan Cooper 36
10 40:09 Jim Hansen 50
11 40:21 Ted Hall 35
12 40:24 Austin Stonebraker 29
13 41:06 Sal Genovese 43
14 41:22 Jay Curry 37
15 41:42 John Skewes 51
19 42:25 Liz Hall 35 F
20 42:47 Bill Morse 57
27 47:50 Tom Kolb 53

50 snowshoers finished the race

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Boston Indoor Games: Saw Two American Records

Tonight I went to the Reebok Boston Indoor Games and witnessed some great athletes competing in many events. My son, Andrew, and I went to the Reggie Lewis Center and found some nice seats at the first turn near the start and finish lines. The meet was sold out but was not nearly as crowded as when my wife and I went a few years ago to see Haile Gebresalasie run. Two American records were set. In a spectacular finish Ethiopia's Sentayehu Ejigu outleaned by the smallest of margins American Shalane Flanagan. Both were timed in 14:47.62. I think the last one tenth of a second was the only time the Ethiopian was in the lead. This was another American record for Shalene. Check out the picture above which is available at Track and Field Photo Magazine.

Here is the video I shot of the incredible finish. Notice that the two leaders lapped Olympian Jenn Rhines.

There was also an American record in the woman's pole vault by Jenn Stuczynski. Here is the video I shot of the record vault.

There were other great races. If I have time tomorrow I may put a few more videos up.
The Boston Indoor Games is always an incredible meet and a treat to see such great athletes up close in Boston. It will be fun to watch the meet again on television tomorrow.

I finished a week on the Warrior Diet and it has been great. My pants are getting too loose! I have been off sugar and other processed food. I don't feel hungry and I think it will be a great way of eating for me. I have eaten more fruits and vegetables, and enjoyed them, in this week than I have ever eaten in a week before. In fact it has probably been the healthiest week of eating I have ever done.

My hamstring would let me run slowly for more than a mile or two until Thursday and then it just eased right up. I increased the mileage up to an 8 miler today outside on my usual loop and with the inactivity, diet, and mostly treadmill running last month I was happy that the run felt great and was at a pace that beats about 85% of my training runs.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Recover Your Feet: The Vivo Barefoot Shoe

Last summer I came across a New York Magazine article called "You Walk Wrong: How We're Wrecking Out Feet With Every Step We Take" by Adam Sternbergh. I was intrigued by the article because it related to footwear and going minimalistic with your shoes. I have found that I run best in racing shoes or even shoes like the Puma H-Street, which looks like a track spike upper but has a low, thin, and soft sole to it. I like having a feel for the ground and letting my foot do its own thing as I run. If I wear trainers my feet tend to pronate more and I have a rougher time with my running.

This article talked about how shoes can be bad for you and that we should walk barefoot if we want to use the muscles in our feet properly and to keep them strong. While I know some runners advocate barefoot running it is not for me, although I will do my strides barefoot on grass if I am able to. However there are shoes that mimic barefoot walking. This article talks about a few of them including the Nike Free which I like to walk around in when I have a pair. It mentions the Masai Barefoot Technology (which I tried out at the Boston Marathon Expo), the Vibram Five-Fingers, and a shoe called the Vivo Barefoot.

Since the summer I heard a few more good reviews and recommendations of the Vivo Barefoot shoe and I though I would like to try them but there was only one store in the US selling them, and after the New Yorker article they sold out, plus they were very expensive at $160. So I put it on my list of things that would be fun to try out but that I would probably never get a chance to buy. Last month, after another recommendation I decided to look on eBay. I found a green pair in England for about $40 and decided to shop overseas. They came in about a week and a put them on with great expectations. Fortunately they fit. They were like wearing slippers. The Vivo's have a 3mm flexible kevlar bottom so they are thin and flexible. The toe box is wide so that your toes can spread out and they are very comfortable. It wasn't a shock to my feet to wear something so thin as I am used to walking around in the few pairs of H-Streets I have left (those things never wear out). They may look dorky- I don't know- I am fifty- I can be a bit weird. The kids at school thought they were cool though!

Here is an article "Feet Hurt? Stop Wearing Shoes" on NPR about Adam Sternbergh's article. It is funny to find out why high heels were first used. You can listen to more on NPR here

I wear them all the time except when running or shoveling snow and I will definitely buy more of these shoes. I haven't gone for a long walk in them yet, but it does give me a better walking stride and I feel my toes trying to do more work as I move around. I have been wearing them for about 3 weeks. I don't think so, but I do wonder if my hamstring problem is related to the shoe as I may have changed my balance as I walk. I think the hamstring is more related to my keeping that hip more flexible and free.

Or it could be that I I hurt the hamstring running in some trail shoes I was trying out. I have never used Trail Shoes before but I got a pair of GoLite Sundragons on sale for less than $30 and decided to try them out. They are so much bigger than what I am used to in a shoe. They had a comfortable "suspension" system for the foot and I like them. I ran in the for 5 miles and then the next day did the Feel Good Farms 7.2 K snowshoe race using them with my snowshoes. That is when my hamstring started hurting. It could be the sliding in the snow or the way the shoe positioned my feet. I am not sure what caused this problem and I guess I will never know.

I am just as thrilled with The Warrior's Diet. I wasn't hungry at school at all. I ate my fruit, nuts, and cheese. I had a great dinner again tonight. I feel wonderful and was barely hungry at all through the day (usually I am hungry most of the day. I was thirsty however and had to drink a lot of water. Sarah is following along with the diet. She is not so sure about The Warrior Diet, but is losing her sugar cravings on it. I told her if I called it the "Princess" Diet instead it just might be more apppealing to her!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Am Not Missing the Eating of Ice Cream!

Day two on The Warrior Diet was terrific. I have no sugar cravings and only limited times when I feel hungry during the day. I like feeling good throughout the whole day. I enjoy the tastes of the healthy food I eat at dinner. Tomorrow we will see how this diet translates when I am at school. I am just bringing in water, cashews, sunflower seeds, a bit of cheese, an orange, and an apple. I will see if that gets me through the day. Now listen to me, previously the only food I enjoyed talking about was ice-cream.

Today I tried running on the treadmill. My hamstring is still sore and tight. I only did 2 miles slowly. I am looking at it as a good sign. I have my hip flexor feeling so good and loose that I think it changed my stride a bit (hopefully for the better)and that stressed the way I use the hamstring. Either that or I am just getting old and falling apart in new ways! I guess it is better to think positively though!

I did some more Z-Health drills today along with some work using kettlebells. I ordered a DVD from Sara Cheatham at Red Star Athletics and just recieved it yesterday. She is a top rated kettlebell instructor and Z-Health coach. If you want a DVD to get you started in kettlebells as well as Z-Health joint mobility this is a good one to get. I have learned a lot just going through the instructions to improve my kettlebell form. She offers good tips as well as top notch instruction. I was particularly interested in getting another perspective on doing the Z-Health drills. I did learn some good tips and different ways to do these movement drills and I am more clear on how to target the joints on several of the movements. Of coure there are more drills on the official Z-Health DVD's, but it is good to get a different perspective and to pick up hints on how to better perform the drills. By the way, there are warm up and warm down joint mobility drills.