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June 12, 2011

5k Race in FiveFingers

Filed under: Running — Tags: , — Marcus @ 4:05 pm

So I have not dropped off the face of the planet, I know it has been almost a month since I have posted.  Things get very busy for me over the summer and I just haven’t had time to write.

I have not been doing that many different things, mostly trying to keep up on yardwork and of course as much running as I can fit in. Since running the Cleveland full marathon, I have been just out enjoying myself.  Last weekend I ran the Distance Classic Half Marathon in Concord, OH (About half an hour from my house).  It was a really fun run, and I was able to do it in 2:04.  I was hoping for between 2:00-2:15, so I was right where I wanted to be.

This weekend I ran two 5k races, yesterday was a practice race so I could try to figure out how to run a shorter race, I have been training for such long distances that it is totally different running the shorter ones.  I took off way to fast on this race running the first mile in about 6 minutes 30 seconds, I spent the next couple miles really trying to just keep going.  I finished pretty close to the front, at least in the top 20 I would guess out of a few hundred runners.

Today I ran again, this time with two friends/coworkers (Matt & Rebecca).  Rebecca has been working the the couch potato to 5k training program for the last 2-3 months I think, and this was her first 5k, I was hoping it would work out for me to be able to run it with her for the heck of it, and then I talked her husband (Matt) into running it as well.  They did great and they both beat their personal records for the distance.

I was excited because I ended up winning this race, the race coordinators were running the 5k and a Biathlon at the same time, both races did the same course, but at the end the Biathlon runners got on their bikes for the second leg of their race while the 5k runners exited to the finish line.  I pretty much kept up with the first group of runners through the whole race, they didn’t have mile markers so I wasn’t really sure how far along we were until I was within half a mile of the finish line and I was still moving pretty fast.  I didn’t realize until after I crossed the finish line that I was the first runner through for the 5k.  The next runner for the 5k was a full 3 minutes behind me!

That being said, that 5k is very small, I am not sure how many people ran it, but I doubt that there was more than 15-20 people that ran it.  I finished in 22:28 I think (I will get an official time in a couple days).  All three of us ended up getting metals.  I got the overall mens first place,  Rebecca got third place in her age group, and Matt got first place in his age group.

Overall, it was a great run, and I have been having a fun time running some shorter races while I am still training for my next marathon.

Check out the Vibrams, Matt and I both raced in Vibram KSO’s.  Rebecca is going to start training in hers for the next race!

April 2, 2011

Marathon Update – 17 Miles & Mud

Filed under: Running — Tags: , , , — Marcus @ 12:48 pm

Its been a tough couple of weeks running wise, I am trying to get adjusted to running outside and I missed another of my long runs last week (I ran 13 miles instead of the 16 I was supposed to).  This week I didn’t make it out for my two shorter runs because I was too tired to do it (And I have found that is when I tend to get hurt).

However, I feel that I made it back on track all in one run today, today was a 17 mile run, the furthest I have gone before today was 15 miles, and I didn’t do so well with that run.  However today went very well, this was also my first long run I have done outdoors, my longest run outside before today was 8 miles, and that was the run that triggered my bout of Peroneal Tendonitis (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2011/03/marathon-update-ouch-peroneal-tendonitis/).  I decided to just go for it today and try a really long run outside because I couldn’t face spending 3 hours running at the gym and probably having a really awful movie on.

While I was out a couple weeks ago scouting places to take my wild edibles group, I found out that I could string together trails at three different parks here along with a few miles of running through some nice neighborhoods, I decided to give that one a run today, it turns out the route is 6 miles each way which is a great distance.  I get to run along two different trails that are along lake Erie and about 2 miles of trails going through the woods.

Having a long trail that goes through very interesting areas made all the difference in the world, running back and forth on a boring route makes it really easy to decide that you are going to cut things short, but with the longer run, you have the knowledge that you are upwards to 6 miles away from your car and that the fastest way back is to run :-).  The miles were pretty easy up until about mile 13-14 where my feet, ankles, knees, hips, and back hurt.  Though I realized pretty quickly that it actually hurt more to walk than to run, so on I pushed.

Going through the woods there was a ton of mud, there were fairly long stretches I had to walk, but the walking was every bit as challenging as running as they were really slick.  I ended up running over several roots that hit my arches well I ran and I found out that was about the most pain I have ever felt in my feet (The roots were under leaves so you couldn’t even see them, evil!).  However even with the mud and the pain from the roots, it was well worth running through that section of woods because it was such an interesting trail.

I am still going to physical therapy, I am going every other week.  The girl I am working with there has been working on getting me more flexible, and most importantly working the knots out of my calves.  There is a very noticeable difference in my runs before and after I go to physical therapy.

So there you have it, it turns out I can run 17 miles, and I am feeling much better about my marathon to know that I am back on schedule, these distances are hard, but that is expected.  We will see how I feel tomorrow though (The day after a long run tends to be brutal).

March 12, 2011

Marathon update (Back to running)

Filed under: Running — Tags: , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

So the limping is over, thank goodness!  The anti-inflammatory that the doctor prescribed me was fast, within about 24 hours, my foot was done hurting.  This week I have been slowly getting my mileage back up, starting with 1 mile last Friday and working up to 4 miles this Wednesday.  If you are reading this between 8am – 9:30am, then I will most likely be out running my long run for the week (10 miles this week).

I was surprised at how much I missed running, I was starting to twitch not being able to have my morning run, I was still going into the gym and spending the same amount of time I would have been running and instead working out on the elliptical machine, however that is not much of a workout for me anymore.  A couple of nice things that came out of this injury, I am now hooked up with a great physical therapy place that has a lot of experience with runners.  That may not sound that great, but now I have a place that can monitor my running and give some feedback, they are going to help me a bit with my form and such to help prevent future injuries.  Also after meeting with them, they said I was in excellent shape overall and they cleared me to get back to my normal training schedule.

So depending on weather, hopefully this next week I will be able to try running outside again, however I am going to take it a bit easier this time, I am going to do my 3 and 4 mile runs outside to get used to running on pavement before I start trying to run the long runs again out there.  My physical therapist told me that as soon as I felt comfortable with running outside I should probably start doing short runs, as I will need all the time I have to get used to it since the Marathon is coming right up.

This last week while I was browsing through some sites reading about others that have run marathons in Vibram FiveFingers I ran across a website from Harvard University where they were highlighting the difference of running barefoot VS running in shoes, it was great to see that they had studies and research to backup the fact that running basically barefoot was in fact not bad for you, and that in most cases it is better than running using regular running shoes.  It was fascinating to watch the slow motion video’s of a runner running in shoes VS barefoot and to see how much softer overall it was on their joints.  I was also very interested to see that there is no issues with running on hard surfaces barefoot.  I know that has been one of the bigger questions people ask of me, and now I have an answer, running barefoot on pavement isn’t bad for my joints, it will just take a little bit for my body to adjust to it.  Please take some time to look around their site, especially the FAQ there, they really have some great info. (http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/index.html)

Hopefully, for my update next week I can share some really successful runs, and maybe have a picture from a gorgeous morning run!

March 5, 2011

Marathon Update, Ouch – Peroneal Tendonitis

Filed under: Running — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

So, first major setback since I started training for my Marathon.  It turns out I hurt my foot during the very same run I posted a picture of last week (http://www.kd8itx.com/blog/2011/02/marathon-update/).  In my excitement to get to run outside for the first time, I didn’t think things through and my first time running on pavement instead of a treadmill I ran 7 miles.  The smart thing would have been to do one of my shorter 3 mile runs outside and build up to my longer runs.

Hindsight, it turns out is still 20/20.  Anyways, I have been limping around for almost two weeks now, my foot doesn’t hurt bad, it actually doesn’t hurt at all unless I try walking more than a few hundred yards.  However, it is hard to run when your tendons are burning a bit.

After the first week of icing my foot and resting, it didn’t seem to be getting much better, so I scheduled an appointment with a local Podiatrists, I wasn’t able to get in until just this last Thursday.  It took them all of 5 minutes to confirm what I thought it was (Peroneal Tendonitis), but it was funny to watch their thought processes on how to treat it.  I had worn my Vibram FiveFinger shoes in, I wanted to make sure they were aware of what they were since they are quite different than the norm.  The doctor started saying that this was a common overuse injury and that they would just get me an insert to put into my …, as he was saying that his gaze moved to my Vibrams and his voice trailed off, then he said “Huh, I don’t think an insert would do much in those shoes”.

He conferred with another doctor, and they mentioned me switching to regular shoes for awhile, but I told them part of the point of wearing the Vibrams was to strengthen my overall foot, which they agreed it would, and after talking for a few minutes they decided that any type of support would go against what I am trying to do (strengthen my overall foot).  In the end they prescribed some anti-inflammatory medicine and then referred me to a local physical therapy office where they said most of the staff there were runners as well.

So on Tuesday I will be going in there, they are probably going to have me run on a treadmill with my Vibrams on and record my running so they can look at it in slow motion and see if there is anything in my running gait that is incorrect.  They will also probably do electronic stim and such as well to help with healing my foot (I went through this a bit over a year ago with my lower back).  Either way, I am really itching to get back to running.  You can bet one of my first questions to the physical therapist will be when I can start running again.

As for my marathon, I have not been running, but I am still going into the gym and training on an elliptical machine, it is not nearly as good as running, but it is better than nothing.  I am very much hoping that this injury doesn’t prevent me from running a full marathon, however I still have over two months before the marathon, so my chances are good at recovering and getting back to my training.  At this point my worst case scenario is that I will have to drop back to running a half marathon instead of the full one.

I should probably also note, this is not the first injury I have gotten since I started running in my Vibram FiveFingers, its just the first one I have gotten since I started the “official” training program for my marathon.  I have had small issues fairly often.  However, that is by no means proof that you need shoes with lots of support, etc.  Each injury I have gotten so far is almost like a milestone for me, it is almost like I am finding my weakest point and then I have the opportunity to strengthen that point and move on.  When I first started running I had so many aches and pains in my knees, ankles, tendons in my feet, my Achilles tendon, my arches hurting, etc.  It really is enough to discourage many people, but you have to realize what is happening, all of those aches and pains were happening right along side my feet and legs getting stronger.  By wearing shoes with so much support, our feet and legs have lost so much of its own support, that if you force them to have to support you again on their own, you will go through these same types of issues.

I can feel a definite difference since I started running in my Vibrams, my arches in my feet are higher, my calves and tendons are much stronger than they ever were, and I have noticed that my overall posture while standing, walking, and running has improved.  I very much believe that the aches and pains along the way are worth the benefits I am beginning to see.

February 26, 2011

Marathon Update

Filed under: Running — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I am tentatively thinking of doing a regular Saturday post with updates on my Marathon training status, I am not sure how much people will care to read about it, but since it is taking up the majority of my free time at this point I figured I would start writing about it.

The picture above was taken during my run last week, we had a couple day of really nice weather and I was able to get outside to run for the very first time this year.  It was also the first run I have done outdoors in my Vibrams, and the first run I have done since I started doing any serious running.  I got up to Headlands state park right at sunrise, I actually got there before they opened up the park for the day so I had to park about a mile away, then I just ran there, and then ran back and forth on the trail they have that goes along the lake until I hit my 7 miles I had to run for the day.

I know that most of the people I know think I am crazy for training for the marathon, but on days like this, I really am glad I am doing it.  I got to spend an hour running on a trail watching the sun come up, it was warm outside, but there was still ice on the lake.  I am in good enough shape at this point that it is not difficult to run, and it sure beats what I know many people do, which is to roll out of bed after hitting the snooze button a dozen times, drown themselves in coffee and then proceed to try and fight traffic on the way to work.

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December 16, 2010

Vibram FiveFingers, Frequently Asked and Asked and Asked Questions

Filed under: Running — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I do a fair amount of weird stuff, having half my office turned into an Aquaponic system is weird, spending the better part of a week cracking/grinding/boiling acorns to make flower to make bread is weird, but people don’t know about those weird things until I make some reference to it.

However go basically anywhere wearing Vibram FiveFingers and you had better allot extra time because you are most likely going to get stopped and asked what they are.  By default, I am a hands off type of guy, the most contact I will have with most people is a handshake, however I have had several people that basically demanded to touch my feet because they wanted to see what the Vibram FiveFingers felt like.

So today, I am presenting some of the common questions I get asked about my Vibram shoes, if I miss a question you have about them, feel free to ask in the comments and I will respond to them.

#1 Don’t they feel weird?  I could never stand having something between my toes:
For the first two weeks you can expect them to feel weird, but you will get desensitized to it until they feel normal.  Think about it, as a baby when you first had the ability you probably spent half your time trying to get out of your shoes or clothes in general because they felt “weird”, but I doubt you think about it much anymore.

#2 What if you step on a rock or something else sharp?
This was one of my questions before I bought my first pair of Vibram’s, and while researching I ran across a blog article where the author mentioned that you foot already has the muscle memory to deal with it, you just never use it in regular shoes.  That seemed a bit odd, but I have now experienced it first hand, I was doing some trail running in them and I landed square on a pointed rock, before I could even thing about it my foot kind of rolled around it, I not only didn’t hurt my foot, but I barely felt it.  In general the soles of the Vibrams are thick enough you don’t feel small things (like a gravel driveway) and the bigger things you foot will react and handle on its own.

#3 How much arch support do they have?  You have to have arch support you know!
There is absolutely no arch support of any kind, and for that I am glad!  I have always been slightly flat footed, and I used to have issues with turning my ankles when I ran.  I always thought I had weak ankles, and so I always wore shoes with lots of support.  I have since learned that is the exact opposite of what I should have been doing.  If you have weak ankles, don’t baby them, work them out, strengthen them.  And the best way to do it, wear shoes with no support that will force your foot and ankles to strengthen up!  I am now running at least three times a week in my Vibrams, and I am up to 5 mile runs, and my feet and ankles have never felt stronger.

#4 What are you wearing those?
I have two main reasons, first and foremost, from my reading, wearing the Vibram’s will strengthen the muscles in my feet, ankles, and my calves, which will in turn help keep my legs and ultimately my back more in line.  Since one of my main goals this year was to work to correct my back issues, the hope that these could help was enough to try them out.  The second reason is for running, I have been trying to run for over 6 months and I just keep hurting my knees.  Within two months of starting to run in my Vibrams, I have far surpassed what I was doing in my running shoes, and I haven’t even come close to hitting a wall yet.  Almost every week at this point I am either breaking my personal speed or distance records.

#5 Those are just like some aqua shoes I saw, its probably the same thing right?
It is unbelievable how many times people have asked me if they were aqua shoes I was wearing, and no matter what I tell them, you can see in their eyes that they know the truth and that they really are just aqua shoes.  No, these are not aqua shoes, yes you can wear them in the water, but you can also run a marathon in them, try that in your run of the mill aqua shoes and report back!

#6 Are they waterproof?
Looking at them, they look like they might be waterproof, however they are not even close.  The tops of the Vibrams are a very open fabric, you feet will get wet just walking across a damp parking lot, however the open design also means that even if your feet get wet, they will dry out quickly once you get back inside.

#7 Do you wear socks in them?
No, there is a company that makes socks that will work with them, but most Vibram owners would agree that defeats the purpose of having more contact with the ground underneath you.

#8 Don’t they stink after awhile?
This is another one that it doesn’t matter what I say, I can tell the person asking me isn’t listening because they have already made up their mind.  As long as you take proper care of your Vibrams, they will not stink, for me I wash them once per week, and I rotate between my two pairs so that they have plenty of time to dry out between times of wearing them.  Most of the time my Vibrams smell like our laundry soap because they get washed so often.

#9 Aren’t your feet cold?
Your feet will get cold easier in these since there isn’t as much isolation between your feet and the ground, however, it is my belief that your feet will harden themselves against the cold with time.  However, that being said, I haven’t been wearing my Vibrams into work since it started snowing because they are very cold when you try to walk through snow drifts with them.

#10 Are you still wearing them???
Its amazing that people still ask me things like this, I get the same question all the time about my Polyphasic sleeping schedule.  Let me save you from the waste of time asking this over and over.  Yes, I am still wearing these, and unless something better comes along, I will continue to wear these indefinitely.

#11 You actually wear those in public?
I will wear them basically anywhere, I wear them to work every day (except in the snow), I wear them to the grocery store.  They don’t seem to go with my dress outfits, but besides that, you will see me wearing them most times I am out and about.

December 2, 2010

Running in my Vibram Fivefingers

Filed under: Running — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

One of the initial reasons I purchased the Vibram Fivefingers was because I wanted to try running in them.  Yes they are cool just to wear around, and I love walking through the woods and kayaking with them, but I want to be able to run with them.

I have been training to run off and on for the last probably 6-9 months, however it has been very sporadic because I have either been too sore or my knee would be hurting.  Most of the time, I would only be able to run once per week, and then I would barely be able to walk after that.

Enter my Vibram Fivefingers, I had to wait for over a month from when I purchased them before I could start running (Hurt my knee the first of September), but once I was cleared from my Chiropractor and started running, I knew immediately these shoes were going to make a difference in my running.

As per my Chiropractors advice, he wanted me to start off slow after hurting my knee and start off with much shorter distances, he didn’t want me to go more than half a mile, but I talked him into a mile for the starting amount, then he said I could add half a mile a week until I could build back up to my original distance (3 miles).  His advice turned out to be solid a couple ways, one I didn’t hurt my knee immediately again and secondly, it took a full 2 months for my legs to start getting used to running in the Vibram Fivefingers.

My normal run consists of 5 minutes walking, then running at the predetermined speed for the distance I have planned for the day, then cooling down by walking for half a mile, then I finish up by stretching out my legs.  As I started running in my Vibram’s, when I would get done running (even when I was just doing the mile), my Achilles tendon was just killing me, and my calf muscles would be twitching they were so tired, plus add in that I could barely walk because the arches on my foot hurt so bad.

It turns out I had to adjust to my Vibram’s twice, first was two weeks of my joints and such hurting just from wearing them (I discussed this in my last blog article), then my muscles really had to get up to speed to be able to run in the Vibram’s.

How about some results?  Well for starters, I just broke my 3 mile running record, well more like shattered I would say.  My previous record for running 3 miles was 24:59 and I didn’t know how I would ever beat it, however on Sunday I ran 3 miles in 23:15 shaving 1:44 off my record time.

I am still dealing with different sore muscles and my arches hurting immediately after running, but it has gotten MUCH better, the miles are coming much easier, and starting next week I am going to start pushing past 3 miles which was a barrier I could never make it past in regular running shoes it seemed.  Also, I now get to the end of my run in the morning and think to myself that I probably could have run a few more miles and not been too tired, where before, I would almost collapse at the end of my run.  I have also been able to run 3 times a week without having many issues with soreness and such.

I am training to do the Cleveland Marathon on May 15’th, though the 18 week training schedule I found online doesn’t start until the first week of January, I have already started, I want to make sure I am in good enough shape to keep up with the training schedule as I don’t want to risk hurting my knee again.

Sorry for having no pictures for the post today, I run in the gym each day, and I am not sure they would appreciate me taking pictures while in there (plus the fact I run in one of the movie theaters they have so its pretty dark to take pictures anyways.

November 25, 2010

Going almost barefoot (Using Vibram Fivefingers)

Filed under: Misc,Outdoors — Tags: , , — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I keep coming across references online to people who are starting to run barefoot or nearly so, normally this would hardly register on my radar, but one of the blogs I read from time to time did a really good article on starting to run using Vibram Fivefingers (http://zenhabits.net/barefoot-running/).  After reading the article at ZenHabits I started doing some more research on these to see if it was mostly just hype, or if there could be something to running barefoot.

One of the most consistent benefits people mention when they talk about barefoot running is that it will strengthen the muscles in your foot and calf, which in turn should help with your overall posture which will lead to less back problems, etc.  Great!  One of my main goals for this last year was to strengthen my core muscles and work on getting my back more healthy since I have had back issues since I was a teenager.

The more I read about the Vibram Fivefingers, the more I wanted to give them a try, I was a bit worried that they were mostly just hype and that I would end up just wasting $100 on shoes I wouldn’t ever want to wear, but I decided to give them a try.  I found a local store about half an hour from here that sells them so I decided to go down and at least try a pair on and get sized for them (the sizes are more precise than normal shoes). I don’t know that I would say it was love at first sight, but after trying them on and walking around with them, I decided to go ahead and get them, about $100 later I walked out the store with a new pair of Vibram Fivefingers TrekSport.

From my research I knew that I should expect about 2 weeks of my feet hurting pretty bad since they would be adjusting to doing more work than they were used to.  I had hoped that somehow I would get to be spared the pain from adjusting, but I wasn’t.  The two main things that hurt for the first couple weeks were:

  1. My little toe ached in the bone at the joint, my little toe has always curled just a bit under the next one, and the Vibram Fivefingers forced it to be separate.
  2. The balls of my feet and toes ached a bit because they were not used to flexing so much, in normal shoes your toes don’t flex as much when you walk as they will in the Vibram Fivefingers.

My little toe aching was the worst, the second I would put my shoe on it hurt pretty bad, but I mostly tried to ignore it and know that it was probably temporary (thought it felt like it would never end).  However just like everyone said, by the end of the second week I was mostly adjusted to the new shoes.  I made a point of wearing them everywhere I went so that my feet would adjust quickly, I also wanted to see how they did on different surfaces.

I have now been wearing the Vibram Fivefingers for about 2 months, I wear them to work everyday, I have worn them running, hiking, kayaking, and wading in the water.  It is hard to describe how connected you feel to the ground beneath you.  My balance and sure-footed-ness (Made up word, just go with it!) are much better than they have ever been.  The first time I used them to walk in the Chagrin River it was incredible, I have always been very unsure of my step in the water as totally barefoot, I am a wimp, and with regular shoes or sandals I slip off rocks, stub my toes on boulders, etc.  However the first time I walked into the river with my Vibram Fivefingers I felt as sure footed as I am on land.

I took a fairly long hike out through the woods a few weeks ago in them, and once again, it was incredible how much contact I had with the ground I was hiking over.  The only issue I had while traversing through the woods (no trails, just hiking) was I kept getting ferns stuck between my toes, I wasn’t expecting that one!  After a couple months of wearing these almost exclusively I would have a hard time going back to regular shoes, I actually just got my second pair of Vibrams (A pair of red KSO’s) so that I can use one pair for running and one pair for work.

** This is part 1 of a 3 part series I am going to write about my experience with the Vibram Fivefingers, you can look for an article on running in them and a FAQ article over the next few weeks.

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