Sunday, December 04, 2011

of names and lizards

Over the past few weeks, my running consistency has not been what it should be. Mostly I’ve run 3 times, one week only twice, I think—one run during the week and a run on Saturday and another Sunday. During the week, I just sort of “haven’t felt like it” or something. Partly I think that taking time off to rest my Achilles and then the tendonitis on the top of my right foot got me out of the habit somewhat. And it seems that the weekend runs are a bit harder on my feet as a result. So, my plan this week is to run more frequently, but shorter runs. Ideally, I’d like to run every day, at least a mile or two, but we’ll see how it really pans out. I’m hoping giving myself permission to run shorter (rather than having to do an hour every time), will get me out the door. I always feel better when I get out there.


Yesterday (Saturday), I ran eight miles, but I had to get off the pavement around mile 5 or so because it just got too hot for my tootsies. I like to laze around a bit on the weekends, but this can put a crimp in my plans because if the sun is out, the tarmac is really too hot to run on by 9:30 or 10:00am. Though I’ve pushed it until I cannot stand it anymore, I don’t think this is the wisest move. Last week on Sunday, even wearing huarache sandals and running on the sandy trail gave little relief. Fortunately, this week it had just rained Friday night, so the trail was cooler.


Today, it was totally overcast (yippee!) when I went out and I decided to do a trail run, for the first time in weeks and weeks. This was my longest barefoot run yet at 10 miles. I ran into the sunshine around 4 miles, so those middle two miles I was pretty hot, but then I ran back into the clouds which I really appreciated. The path had a great diversity of textures—about as much diversity as one can get around here—soft and hard sand, some sandy mud, dirt, grass and some rocky bits. Very nice. I didn’t get any blisters, but I did have some “friction” marks, reminding me that these trails let me get a bit lax with my form.


Best Positive Exchange: Yesterday, while running back on the trail that parallels the road, I ran into two young girls. I said hello (it is pretty rare to see young girls out just playing) and to my great surprise, they started to run with me! As readers know, I’ve had this happen with boys, but never before with girls. They were Anna and Giai (spelling?). I cannot really figure out how to spell the second name. She pronounced it with a very soft G and a long I – like “shy” except starting with a soft G sound. It just hit me like one of the most beautiful names I’d ever heard! For the past year or so, I’ve been pondering the possibility of changing my name and, if I could figure out how to spell it, I think I may have found my new name! At any rate, they were very sweet girls, about 10 years old, I think. They ran with me for about half a mile talking to each other along the way in amazement, clearly about me. Were they surprised to see a woman running? Or that I was barefoot? Or that I was white? Or the whole combo of a white woman barefoot? Either way, I was happy to make their acquaintance and give them a different image of what a woman can be.


Sunday was a much more solitary run. Two miles into this trail, I turn onto a path that is pretty much deserted except for the two weeks in August that the Seventh Day Adventist Church is using their camp out that way. I did run into some very fresh foot prints, but never found the people that belonged to them. However, on my way back, I encountered one of the coolest lizards I’ve ever seen! He was neon lime green with black circles like leopard spots. His head was roundish, like a chameleon, but he was very small. I looked him up in my guidebook, but he wasn’t listed. I ran over him and then stopped to watch him (hmm, or her?) and he was walking painfully slowly. He’d lift his right front leg and his left back leg and then they would both move forward and touch down, then he’d raise the left front leg and right back leg. . . Luckily there weren’t any cars around ‘cause he’d surely be squished at the rate he was moving. But geez, he was really beautiful. I kept looking at him and saying, “ah geez, I wish I had a camera!”


Friday, December 02, 2011

The 100 Up experiment

I can’t believe today marks 3 weeks into the 100 Up experiment. And it is pretty amazing how many people are doing it. On the Facebook group alone, there are well over 300 people.


There are two types of 100 Ups, the “minors” and the “majors”. The minors are basically walking and the majors running (in both cases “in place”). I have been doing both on most days because they are very different. The minors are slower and more controlled. It is easier to concentrate on my form. They are also less effort, so when I am feeling lazy and “don’t wanna”, I just tell myself to do the minors and that gets me going. But when I do the minors, they are still very “jerky”—there’s some way that my foot lands on the ground and the next one comes up which is not smooth. But I have definitely improved over the course of the weeks. At first, my right foot was coming down consistently behind my left foot and they are now even. I’ve also felt “smooth” a couple of times—a glance into what is possible.


I find the majors overall easier, though. And quicker! I’m lighter on my feet and somehow more fluid. Again, there have been some changes as the weeks have gone along. As I discovered through running barefoot, for me all the action is in my hips. For proper form, I need to focus on tilting the top of my pelvis forward. (To me, this feels like I’m sticking my butt out, but when I look in the mirror, I’m actually barely straight. . .) This action has my feet come down under my center of gravity and helps to keep my feet from “scraping” the ground. This has changed and been reinforced by doing the 100 Up majors. When I started out, I was just basically lifting my knees high. But this tilted my pelvis under and rounded my lower back and had my feet land in front of my body. One day, I experimented with keeping my arms down by my sides (because I had read that the guy who “invented” the 100 Up said that is how you should do them) and suddenly, I had to change my pelvis or I would fall backwards.


Have I seen any benefits?


I’m not sure, but I’m holding off assessment at least until the 30 days are up. I had hoped that my barefoot running form would improve, allowing me to run longer and faster. I did really hope that they would help me go faster. Though I cannot say that I’ve seen any difference on that front. Ever since running with the heart rate monitor, barefoot and breathing through my nose, I don’t think I’ve improved at all. I just looked at a graph of my runs for the last 3 months since I started this and maybe I have improved my average pace from about 11:30 min/mi to 11:00 min/mi but, hmm, I am really hoping my “easy” pace could be more like 10:00 min/mi. And I thought 10-12 weeks would show more improvement. But my consistency has not been great the last few weeks. I strained my Achilles tendon (my calf got so tight it was pulling on the Achilles tendon) and then I had some kind of tendonitis on the top of my other foot. So maybe I just need to be more patient? Not my strong suit.

Barefoot beauty

aka foot porn ;-)


Thought I’d share what my feet look like, in case any of you were worried that your feet get all gnarly and nasty from barefooting. Au contraire!