Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Running Log - Tuesday, 9/28/2010

Distance: 2 miles
Shoes: barefoot
Tonight kind of sucked. I started my evening off by thinking about changing my route to get out of my neighborhood. There's a green-belt/park with a bike path that is .7 miles away. I figured I would just walk the first .3 miles as a warmup, run rest of the .4 miles until I got to the park and then go another .45 miles along the bike path. Then turn around and run the 1.15 miles home. Totaling 2 miles running and a .3 mile warmup. For whatever reason, I told myself that I needed to do a few runs at this distance before trying a new route, and decided against it. Instead I just ran my normal .5 mile loop 4 times (in reverse because I'm alternating my direction each run).

I increased my pace a little for this run, which ended up being a mistake. The run started off pretty good. I made it about a mile without much trouble. After that first mile, I started feeling some pain under the 2nd metatarsal (the one next to my big toe) on my right foot. It kind of felt like a cut, or like a pebble was stuck to the sole of my foot. I inspected my foot and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, so I kept going.

On my last half mile, the pain in my foot got worse, and by the time I stopped I could feel a slight blister forming. On top of that, the blistered area feels bruised. And after my run, I noticed that my left outer metatarsal feels a little bruised as well. I guess the pain in my right foot was masking it during the run.

I think the issue was caused by 2 things. The first is that I've been forcing myself to run with the "proper" form. I've been trying to make sure I land slightly on the ball of my foot and then let my heel touch, but I think I've been pounding my foot into the ground. The second is that I've been pushing off a little more when I increase my pace. The combination of the 2 is that the ball of my foot gets pounded into the ground once when I land, and again when I lift my foot.

I remember a run from a couple of weeks ago when I just forgot about my form and ran the way my body naturally wanted to. My feet and legs were relaxed and I was basically just swinging my legs underneath me to keep up with the pace of my forward momentum. I think next time I'll try to emulate that feeling. Just clear my head of all the "proper form" junk I've been reading about and do what feels right. Hopefully that will be Thursday, but if my feet haven't healed by then, I might have to wait until the weekend.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Running Log - Sunday, 9/26/2010

Distance: 2 miles
Shoes: barefoot
Yesterday was only okay. I got up early out of habit, threw on my shorts and went out the door. The problem is that it was in the 60s and still damp from the rain we got this weekend. My 5 minute warmup walk didn't live up to its name. It took me about a mile of running before my feet felt warmed up and were used to the ground temperature.

On the bright side, I finished 2 miles (PR) without any major problems. I tried to focus on landing more on the front of my foot, but it actually caused a little bit of abrasion on my right foot (no blisters though). I guess I shouldn't have tried to change what was already working.

Next time it's this cold I'll remember to wear a shirt.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Running Log - Thursday, 9/23/2010

Distance: 1.75 miles
Shoes: barefoot
I felt drained tonight. My hamstrings, which were sore last time, didn't give me too much trouble tonight, but my hip flexors were sore. The pain is on the inside of my thighs, almost like a pulled/strained groin. I'm assuming it's because the lack of a push from my feet is putting extra strain on my upper legs to get my feet back out under my center of gravity.

I tried to focus on my cadence tonight, but I started feeling tired toward the end, and coupled with the nagging hip flexors, I couldn't sustain the high cadence. I did a long, medium-high intensity elliptical workout last night (1200 calories in 60 minutes), so that probably explains some of the tiredness. I can't wait for the day that I get all of my cardiovascular endurance from running.

Lately I've been feeling tight on the right side of my body, and I think it might be because I always run the same direction on my half mile loop. So, tonight I ran the opposite way and I'm hoping I'll start re-aligning the tension in my body. Some time soon, I'll be taking my runs outside my little neighborhood (so no more loop), but until then, I'm going to try alternating the loop direction.

I'm looking forward to increasing my distance to 2 miles on Sunday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Running Log - Tuesday, 9/21/2010

Distance: 1.75 miles
Shoes: barefoot
Good: Had a nice slow-paced run. Was able to go the entire 1.75 miles without stopping, despite some nagging hamstring pain (caused by doing some squat-like motions while doing yard work this past weekend). Weather was warm, but not too hot. Feet feel great afterwards, like they could have handled twice the distance.
Bad: I had some sore hamstrings that caused me to run a little slower than I might have otherwise. By trying to avoid the slight pain of the muscle stretching and contracting, I had to change up my form a little, which wasn't quite as smooth. But the slower pace allowed me to run without too much impact.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Running Log - Sunday, 9/19/2010

Distance: 1.75 miles
Shoes: barefoot
Good: The focus on my landing worked really well. I felt really smooth for the whole run. The first mile or so was really fun. I don't think I've ever run midday before due to the heat, and even though it was still pretty hot outside it was a different experience from running at twilight or in the early morning. I've been wearing nothing but some shorts for my runs lately, and the breeze and the sun on my bare skin feels really good. I also broke my previous distance personal record by a quarter of a mile, so that was a bonus.
Bad: Despite the pleasurable experience of running with the sun directly overhead, the heat of the road and sidewalks started to do a number on my feet. I didn't get any blisters, but I don't think I could have gone any further without being in a lot of pain. The heat also made me take a few rests (about 10-20 seconds after each half mile) to cool down and lower my heart rate. I was drenched with sweat by the time I was done.
For Next Time: I found the right pace this time for smooth running. Hopefully on Tuesday I'll be able to run at the same speed and distance.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Running Log - Thursday, 9/16/2010

I realized tonight that I could possibly benefit from a little more introspection on what went right and what went wrong after each of my runs. Barefoot running is great for the feedback it gives you, but I've found that you learn even more, and it sticks in your mind better, if you find a way to articulate what exactly it was that you did. So, this post is hopefully the first of many such small updates.

Distance: 1.5 miles
Style: barefoot
Good: Tonight was my third run at 1.5 miles. I did my warm up barefoot as well, for a total of 1.9 miles. It's starting to feel frictionless, and I think after 3 weeks of no blisters, the tender soles are starting to feel like a distance memory. No ankle or shin pain either.
Bad: After an awesome run Tuesday, I think I might have gone out a little too fast tonight. On Tuesday, there were parts where it felt entirely smooth, like I was floating, whereas tonight felt more plodding. And I can tell because I think I may have bruised the outside metatarsals, just under the balls of both feet (left hurting more).
For Next Time: I want to find a way to get back to running as smoothly as I did Tuesday. Focus on the landing part of my form.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Blog<Running> Fun in the Rain

This past Tuesday was the kind of rainy day that makes you want to just stay inside and do nothing. For most of the day, I was your normal middle-class American. Running between building and car, trying to stay dry. Side-stepping puddles to avoid an hour or two of soggy shoes while you sit behind a desk. It's kind of funny how much less you care about getting wet when you know you can take the shoes off.

One benefit of running barefoot is that rain is less of a deterrent than heat. There is a little discomfort while transitioning from dry to damp, but since I'm a pretty heavy sweater* I'm used to working out in wet clothes. Still, I didn't see any of the usual evening runners/joggers. Maybe they didn't want to mess up their shoes? For the unshod, a little water is no obstacle.

So, I was happily running through the rain, coming up on the end of my first half-mile loop, when I saw a guy gardening out in his front yard. Ordinarily I'd think this guy was crazy for doing yard work in the rain, but I suppose if you put our 2 activities in a line-up you'd get just as many people calling me crazy. On the other hand, I looked like I was having fun, and this dude looked like he may have been escaping something worse.

As I got closer to him, he looked up from his spot on the grass and stared for about 10 seconds before finally yelling out "doesn't that hurt!?"

I was at the end of my first half-mile, maybe 20 feet from the spot where I usually stop to verify the quality of my form by examining my feet (sole-searching as I like to call it**). Since I was going to stop anyway, I decided to have a quick conversation with the guy. I explained how it helps your form. I explained the concept of removing the cushioning of shoes to force you to run smoothly. I brought up the fact that thick-heeled, modern running shoes have only been around since the 60's.

The guy didn't seem convinced, as there was still a hint of "you must just have a high pain threshold" in all of his responses. After about a minute of neither of us convincing the other, he told me to "keep it up." I said "thanks," and for my closing argument I yelled back over my sholder "it's more fun than running in shoes." I then proceeded to stomp my way through a 3-inch deep puddle. I may have played it up a little to make sure he knew that, at that moment, I didn't have a care in the world.

I passed the guy 2 more times for a total of 1.5 miles***. A ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day.

* By pretty heavy sweater, I mean that I perspire a lot. Despite what you might have heard, I am not a fashionable, winter-time, article of clothing.
** I don't actually call it that. I'm so sorry.
*** A new personal best for barefoot running.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blog<Losing Weight> 8 Months Later

Changing It Up

In the last post about my weight loss, I talked a little about my new goals. I had just just lost 60 lbs over the previous 7 and a half months, and I was still in the mindset of measuring success by the number on the scale.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I've finally started to let myself stray from the strict dieting, long cardio, and boring resistance training that got me to this point. That's not to say that I'm not still watching what I eat and exercising, but I'm a little more relaxed about it. I'm starting to ease myself into more of a maintenance mode (with a little bit of weight loss along the way).

For most of the year, I was doing 4 days of elliptical per week (55-70 minutes 3 times and 80-120 minutes on Saturday). And on 2 days, I was lifting weights for about 45-60 minutes. I have to say that I'm happy with the results, but after 7 and a half months you start getting sick of it.

So I started to think about how to minimize my time in the gym.

The first change I made was to replace some of the elliptical days with running. I started off replacing 2 days, but that has recently grown to 3. I still do my 2 weight-lifting days, but I've been trying to switch up the exercises I do from workout to workout. And finally, I replaced the last elliptical workout with a HIIT workout and added another HIIT workout on what was previously my rest day.

Normally I wouldn't recommend 7 workouts in 7 days because it's usually a good idea to have at least one day a week to let your body recover. My take is that life normally intrudes and forces a day (or more) off anyway, so if I can't work out on a given day, so be it. Because of this, I've only actually completed the 7 workouts in 7 days once in the past month.

The new schedule means less time in the gym and no more mindless cardio. The HIIT workouts hurt pretty bad but you can't say they're boring, and they only take 40 minutes each (including warm-up and cool-down). The three running days probably add up to 45-60 minutes total since I'm still a beginner. And, as a bonus, running is actually fun. My weight-lifting days are still a drain on my motivation, and they still take 45-60 minutes each, but they're important with all the potentially-muscle-burning cardio that I'm doing.

As of this morning, I'm down to 198 lbs, which is what I weighed near the end of my freshman year in college. 8 lbs in 6 weeks is significantly less than the 2 lbs per week I was losing before, but the important thing is that I've mostly had fun doing it.

8 lbs also happens to be the half-way point for my end-of-year goal to slim down to 190. I normally don't like counting my chickens before they hatch, but I'm pretty sure this one's in the bag.