Archive for August, 2010


arrivals and departures – Sore – 99 Problems And A Beach Ain’t One

With an impending holiday, the time goes slower and the number of things to be compressed into the time increases. What was supposed to be a leisurely few days finishing off at work has turned into a lesson in cramming. And tomorrow was supposed to be my “mopping up” day – getting all the loose ends tied – that will now consist of store visits in the morning, taking photos and making notes for the presentation that I have to now write by close of play tomorrow. There is a nagging thought that once the presentation is written, no-one will pick it up and it will sit untouched until I return, but that is not a risk that I am in a position to take.

The big crush started over the weekend when I, suffering from one of my frequent bouts of restlessness, decided on Saturday afternoon that I needed to do something physical. If I don’t expend physical energy on a regular basis I become like some unbearable hyperactive child and fairly unpleasant to be around. So I packed myself off into my garage where there are no end of weights to heft around to burn off some tension. An hour or so later and bored of repeatedly picking up and putting down heavy objects, I jump onto the fixie for a quick hurtle around which seemed to do the trick and I was once again at peace.

Sunday morning is “long run of the week” time so aimed for 10 miles. The previous days exertions were not the best preparation for a long run having worked both upper and lower body and the 16.7kms completed started fairly easily but very soon became a battle with shoulders, chest, biceps and thighs all sore from Saturday. The remainder of the day saw me shuffling around with the strange knackered / dehydrated feeling that I usually reserve for the day after a half marathon.

After a sound nights sleep, my body seems to have repaired itself and some excellent news around lunchtime (Welcome to the World, George Caleb Bailey) lifted my spirits further. I just need to power through tomorrow, pack the bags and I’m ready to go. I’ve been checking the map of our holiday location and reckon that the beach is a reasonable, runnable distance away (there is a shuttle bus for normal people) that could be my daily run – usher the family onto the Shuttle bus and then race it to the beach.

OK… the suitcase beckons.

Soundtrack to this post: Steroid Maximus – Chain Reaction


rained off and lost

Rain Stopped Play – Controlled By Machines – All Gain, No Pain

All my hopes for a “minimal shoe” run on Tuesday were crushed when I woke to find it absolutely lashing down at 7a.m. It then stayed like that for the entire day. Miserable. It meant that I either went out in the pouring rain for run or postpone until this morning. I decided to postpone and then spent the next 2 days wishing I’d just gone out in the pouring rain as I spent Wednesday and Thursday about 170 miles away in Leeds. Unfortunately, I knew I couldn’t sneak in a run whilst I was there as I had meetings both days and was out on the Wednesday night with a colleague so there just wasn’t going to be time. Which meant that Thursdays’ meeting was a torturous affair with me all fidgety and keen to get it over and done with whilst some others seemed hell bent on keeping it going as long as possible. The Leeds Trip was however a chance to try out the Sat Nav that I was promised 8 months ago when I started the job and which arrived last week. It got me to the office in Leeds OK, apart from telling me to go the wrong way out of the end of my road – it is literally 50 metres to the road if I turn right but the Sat Nav was convinced I must turn left, drive around in a big semi-circle for about half a mile before turning back onto the road that it told me to turn off of in the first place. It seems to be very accurate over long distances but poor over short distances. Leaving the office for my hotel, I was fairly sure I knew where I was going but not entirely sure. So I punched the postcode into the Sat Nav and set off. It took me along the route that I knew until it suggested I take the first turning off the next roundabout that I was planning to go straight over. Here things really started getting odd as it directed me onto the A1 for one junction, told me to turn left, then left again and announced that I had “arrived at my destination” when I was clearly in the centre of a non-descript housing estate. Losing patience, I turned the wretched thing off and, like Luke Skywalker attacking the Death Star, completed the rest of my mission being guided solely by The Force. Suffice to say, I was at the Hotel with 10 minutes. Incidentally, the Sat Nav is a Garmin and gets a signal almost immediately. So why does my Garmin Forerunner “wrist mounted running thing” take so long to lock on to satellites? Eh??

Anyway, I digress. This mornings “minimal footwear” run was duly carried out. It felt great to be finally out and running. The “barefoot gait” came far more easily this time and I rattled off 2.6kms with tiny amounts of discomfort in my calves and no blisters. Result!

Soundtrack to this post: Tackhead – Hard Left


national diversity week

I Know You Got Sole – A Few Short Bursts – Say Hello Wave Goodbye

It’s not really… I just made it up. But if it were, I think I may have inadvertantly participated.

The beginning of the week saw me dip my toes in the murky waters of minimal footwear / barefoot running. I received a few comments on the blog (more that I normally get) that seems to indicate that there are a few others out there who are “barefoot curious”, just beginning to experiment or fully fledged barefoot runners. A little trawl of the internet will also throw up many opposing viewpoints – from the zealous “Everyone should throw away their shoes now!” to the equally extreme “running barefoot is insanity!”.

I did my first Audiofuel Pyramid Interval session early Thursday morning and was pleasantly surprised. I tackled the 180 Max Pyramid and enjoyed it. The final bit at 180bpm was hard going but not impossible. I’ve used Audiofuel on longer runs before and enjoyed it but do not use it on a regular basis as I like to mix up the music I listen to keep my mind occupied. For an interval session, however, I found it worked really well. As you are running for perhaps 25 minutes, it is very easy to stay focussed on running to the beat for short bursts. It also gives you something to keep you going. When I have done intervals before, it has always been running a set distance or set amount of time, which does allow you to slack off if you are feeling weary or to extend the periods between intervals. With the session from Audiofuel, the beat keeps you going and the instructions let you know how long you have left to run / rest so I found it very helpful.

This morning, being Sunday, was long run morning so decided on a 10 mile out and back route along the canal. I set off, run along the canal towpath for 8.3 kms, turn round and come back the way I came. Nothing could be simpler… Unfortunately, I think a combination of barefoot running and interval sessions has taken it’s toll and after 10km (ish), my right calf was feeling very tight and uncomfortable. And here is the downside of running a straight out and back route… I was still 6kms from home whichever route I decided to take, so the only course of action was to have a little walk, find a suitable tree stump and have a little stretch of the offending calf and push on with the final 6km. Subsequently, it wasn’t the fastest 10 miles I’ve ever covered but does make me feel a little better about tackling longer distances. I’ve the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October and know that if I don’t start putting in some miles now, it’ll creep upon me and I’l have to cram in the distances in the few weeks before the race.

So assuming the calf sorts itself out in the next day or so, I plan to attempt another “minimal footwear experiment” on Tuesday.

Finally, whilst out running today. I was struck by the amount of runners that ignore each other when out running. I always try to acknowledge other runners but usually only about half reciprocate. What’s wrong with a little camaraderie, eh? Even a polite nod of acknowledgement… acknowledgement that there is someone running towards you with the same determination and the same goal, to get out and run and get better at it. And don’t try and say that you are so “in the zone” that you didn’t notice them running towards you as it just won’t work… Maybe I should start some sort of Facebook group or a renegade runners collective who will smile and wave at every runner they see…. Hmmmm! Brothers and Sisters, who is with me??!!!

Soundtrack to this post:Alton Ellis – I’m Still In Love With You, Girl


look mum… no trainers – vibram five fingers

don’t believe the hype? – strike action – tarmac and the grassy knoll

I’d been curious about Barefoot Running for a while now and, as with all things, you can read books and talk to people to try and learn as much as you can but there is eventually only one real way to find out – so I invested in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and set off on my barefoot running journey.

I had some invaluable help from Adam at Fitness Footwear who advised me on fit and helped me choose the style of VFF as there are a few variations. I went for the Classic – the entry level and least complex of the range that would allow me to try running in minimal footwear without any frills.

Apart from a very short run in the shoes whilst I was trying them on, they had sat in the corner of the room for 3 days before the opportunity arose for me to try them. I’d read that runs should be brief to begin with as the change to a barefoot gait takes some time to master – too much too soon could lead to injury, ironic when a large part of the decision to barefoot is to improve running technique.

A few years back, when I first started running, I felt conspicuous – that everyone would immediately see that I wasn’t a real runner, and I got a similar feeling before leaving the house in the Vibrams. They do look very odd, particularly on a man and they are cut low on the foot. This is not something usually seen in men’s footwear so at a glance, I felt I looked like I was wearing ballet pumps or stilletoes. Secondly, they force you to change your running style to avoid hard heel strikes and I was sure that this would make me look like some sort of Dressage Horse.

Casting these fears aside, I set off. Walking to the start point of my run whilst the Garmin took an age to get a signal, I had to concentrate on not heel striking whilst walking and it took me a little while to find a way to not make each step jar. Once the Garmin had a signal, I was off and the first thing I noticed is that it is easier to run without heel striking than it is when walking. Within a few strides I was very aware of how my foot was landing – the mid foot first, toes, then the rest of the foot with the heel landing last of all. And you feel each minute detail through the sole, sensitive enough to sense details of the ground but sturdy enough to keep the skin safe. I’d deliberately kept the route short but varied so in the space of 2 and a half kilometres I took in tarmac, concrete, gravel and grass. Grass is easily the most pleasurable to run on – harder surfaces caused the shoe to rub slightly on the balls of my feet and big toe, grass has just enough give to ensure that the foot lands gently and that the sole doesn’t grip the surface too much.

The shoes themsleves are comfortable. Putting them on is a little tricky as all the toes need to be lined up with the relevant toe pocket but a few trys and it soon becomes easier. Adjustment is from an elasticated tab at the rear of the shoe but I didn’t tighten mine at all and the shoe stayed on perfectly well. Once the run was complete, I noticed that my calves felt tender and suspect that this is due to the change in running style. I also have a small blister on the balls of both feet and on each of the big toes. This is partly due to the running style but also, I think due to not wearing any socks – the thought of running in my regular trainers without socks frightens me and I am sure that I would have worse blistering were I to try that. A quick trawl through other blogs has shown that others have the similar findings (there is a particularly good review from Warriorwoman here) and that the initial strangeness is quickly overcome.

I really enjoyed my first “barefoot running” experience… it is a very natural and enjoyable way to run. It takes away any competitiveness or anxiety about running (am I fast enough, have I covered enough miles for my upcoming race etc.) and makes the experience fun again. It’s the same as going out for a run, but different.

Soundtrack to this post – Alien Sex Fiend – Ignore The Machine


relieved of duty

I don’t like camping. I find it inhumane and slightly absurd.

Unfortunately, the other members of my family do enjoy it.

Fortunately, Mrs Eatingtrees knows how much I detest it and organises camping trips for her and the kids knowing that I will not go. So after a silly week that has, once again, had me visiting places that bear no geographical vicinity to each other, it has been nice to have the entire weekend to myself.

I don’t believe that I do any less when the family are away, in fact I believe I do more as I am able to do things as and when I choose so am often in a better state of mind to get them done than if I was forced to do them. The last few days have been a flurry of activity that has felt relaxed because the activities have taken place at my own pace and to my timetable.

I went for a run this morning, the first since a hurried and unblogged mid week scamper, and it was an opportunity to try something different… As it didn’t matter how long it took, or how far I went, I ran just as much as I wanted, walked for periods, sprinted on occasion. If I felt like running a bit faster, I did. If not…

So 13.1kms travelled, at varying paces which again gave me the chance to think about how I run. I’ve invested in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and plan to try them out tomorrow. I did toy with the idea of going out in them today but fancied a longer run. The VFF’s need getting used to and I’ve no idea to rush headlong into “barefoot running” only to find that I get injured. I did a little run around the block when I bought them to see how they felt and it is a strangely liberating sensation to feel your toes move independently of each other and sense details of the ground underfoot.

I am looking forward to the family’s return on Tuesday as the house is uncharacteristically quiet but you’ll have to excuse me now as I have a giant plate of houmous, sundried tomatoes, cous-cous and pitta bread to urgently attend to before I get to watching The Book Of Eli on DVD. No rest for the wicked…

Soundtrack to this post: Every Man Is An Island – Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart

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