Archive for May, 2012

23
May
12

Vivobarefoot Training Session

Imagine being given a computer and, having no experience, you teach yourself how to work it. You use it as best you can until someone upgrades your software and shows you how to use it. Properly.

This is what I felt like after attending a training session at the Vivobarefoot store in Covent Garden yesterday. Beforehand I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I’d be asked to do. I arrived at the store with my running kit and a bottle of water and was met by Natalia, my trainer for the session, who took me through to a glass roofed room at the rear of the store. We chatted about the type of running I currently do, how long I’ve been running, how far I run and whether I get any injuries, before she asked me to step onto the treadmill so she could film how I run at the moment. I’ve been using “minimal” footwear for a couple of years now so hoped that I’d have good running form, landing beautifully on my forefoot with easy, relaxed strides.

A quick look at the resulting video and I am disappointed – it shows me lumbering along, a kind of controlled stagger and not at all like the fleet-footed image of my running style that I had in my head. I have stiff hips, I lean forward too far and lead with my head… but before I have a chance to despair, I’m quickly told that it can all be fixed.

I’m taken to a pressure sensitive mat to check my stance – to see if I favour one foot more than the other or concentrate all my weight on one part of the foot. I’m then asked to run across the mat so I can see how my feet land and where the weight is distributed.

And so I am shown a series of stretches that I can do for ankles, hips, toes. I am instructed how to squat, properly, with feet flat on the floor and a weighted bar held above my head to ensure correct posture. It’s all quite gentle stuff and my trainer explains the stretches and then subtley corrects me when I do them wrong.

Then it’s back onto the treadmill. I’m asked to jump, with both feet, like I’m skipping and then continue running, take smaller steps, look forward, keep my head up. Then my trainer places a small digital metronome on the arm of the treadmill, it’s emitting a series of fast, tinny bleeps. I am asked to time my paces with the bleeps. It all feels strange…so different to how I usually run and yet… easy. Like gently running on the spot. This too is filmed – it is to be the sequel, the “after” sequence compared to the disaster movie of the “before”.

Before (left) / After (right)

Before (left) / After (right)

I leave the treadmill to watch the footage, side by side with the footage from the start of the session. It’s been less than an hour but Natalia has managed to take my clumsy running style and sculpt it into something neater, tidier and way more efficient. I am pleasantly surprised as I thought it would take far longer to make such a change. Natalia patiently answers the many questions I have and I leave the store feeling positive. I am more aware of how I move but more importantly, aware of how I should move. I’ve learned that a barefoot running technique is more than just buying some new shoes and avoiding a heel strike. Most of all I’ve learned that, with the correct instruction, changing your running style for the better is easier, and more enjoyable, than you think.

I did my training session at the Covent Garden store:

Vivobarefoot Experience Store
64 Neal Street
Covent Garden
WC2H 9PA

t: 02073795959
e: 64nealst@vivobarefoot.com

One to One training sessions are chargeable and need to be booked in advance. However, if you are curious, the store offer free breakfast clinics which happen twice a month and a Running club every Tuesday (also free of charge which anyone can attend – shod or unshod). For more information, contact the store or log on to: http://www.vivobarefoot.com/uk/

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20
May
12

the loneliness…

It’s not often that I get a sudden urge to run quite a long way. When it rears it’s head, it is such a surprise that I often just blindly follow it’s calling. Which is exactly what happened last Sunday.

On Saturday evening, a glance at the following days weather forecast showed big yellow radiant spheres all around where I live and this prompted the thought of getting out for a long run. So when Sunday morning brightness shone through my curtains, it was an easy decision to make. I had a loosely planned route in my head which was to encompass a little loop of my locale before heading off along the Cole Green Way. I’d been told that there was an underpass at some point that would allow me to get to the neighbouring town without getting mowed down trying to navigate a particularly busy section of dual carriageway.

Off I ventured, heading through familiar territory before looping back and taking the Cole Green Way as far as I could. There is indeed an underpass and it is quite a contrast to enter the underpass, leave the tree lined avenue of the previous few miles and emerge the other side on an exposed tarmac path flanked with freshly planted small trees at shoulder height. From here, a run into the town centre before heading back out the other side to close the loop and tackle the home stretch. At 20kms, I suddenly began to feel tired. Until this point I was feeling positively spritely but a combination of hills and a lack of footpath made me tire quickly. I was having to run right on the edge of the tarmac on a country road as cars whipped past inches from my elbow. My tired feet were beginning to go numb as every detail of the ruined edge of tarmac was felt through the sole of the Vibrams.

25.5kms run and my longest distance ever. I did feel very, tired when I arrived home but it was bolstered by the sense of satisfaction at completing my longest run. It dawned on me that the route would have been much kinder if it were run in the opposite direction – fresh feet on the road edge to begin with and then a (mostly) gentle downhill.

All of which has no doubt helped today when I ran the Wheathampstead 10k. I have written about this race before (here, here and here) and so will not bore you with the details but SonNumberOne ran a great 2k (about 4 mins faster than last year) and SonNumberTwo managed to get a couple of minutes off of his time before I set off on my own 10k. The course seemed a little more congested this year and it was difficult to pick my way past at some points. The queues at the stairs and the kissing gates seemed a little slower than usual and, as I was feeling quite fresh, I was finding this a little frustrating. Apart from that, a very nice off road race. Hilly and challenging but with a good atmosphere. 54.14 this year – a couple of minutes slower than last year but think the hold-ups accounted for a good portion of that.

The question is… do I squeeze in one last Half Marathon in St Albans before my Berlin Training Regime starts. I think I’ll sleep on it…

Soundtrack to this post: Mugstar – Sunburnt Impedance Machine

08
May
12

timing

Those of you reading the title of this post and expecting an analysis of racing speeds will be sorely disappointed. Nope, this post is more about the juggling and the planning to squeeze a run into the balancing act of everyday life.

Recently runs have been snatched at opportune moments. Slipped in at the last minute or put off completely at short notice. They have become not a rare commodity but a valuable one. The almost constant rain we have experienced for nearly a month now has scuppered many a planned run. I don’t consider myself a “fair-weather runner” but do find it hard to get my self outside in torrential rain which hits the streets and bounces right back up a foot or so. I enjoy my runs and any half-hearted attempt in monsoon conditions often leaves me feeling more frustrated at the lack of satisfaction gained from the run than the frustration of not going for a run at all.

Couple that with a magnificently busy period at work – 12-13 hour days and 400 mile round trips in pouring rain have meant that I have really felt I needed to get out and run but found myself too knackered to even contemplate it by the time everything else was taken care of. Which has made the runs that I have made it out for all the more enjoyable. I often find that after a really bad day, getting out and running is a great way to vent frustrations, clear my head and invigorate me. And the more rotten the day I have had at work, the longer or faster I run. And I’ve had some rotten days recently.

Thankfully then, I have found a few instances where I had some time coupled with a lack of water falling from the sky, so have been able to get out and just run. Most of these have been longer (18-20kms) with just a rough idea of where to go. They have been made up on the spot… if I get tired, I turn one way and head home, if not I take the other and run some more. I have also done a lot more running without listening to music which is very unusual for me. Perhaps it’s the getting away from it all aspect of my recent runs – perhaps I just want the sounds of the run filling my head? It has added a different dimension to the runs and made me more aware of the surrounding. Running with music is brilliant but it does isolate you from what is going on around you.

So, the recent lack of blog posts has not been a symptom of a lack of running. Just a lack of time to write about the runs I have had. In a little over 3 weeks time, training for the Berlin Marathon will begin so will have to get organised and plan my runs and distances and times. Which has made the last few weeks of running where and when I could all the more enjoyable.

Soundtrack to this post: Orbital – The Box




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