Sunday, January 24, 2010

Barefoot Training Project with collected Data

Opening Thoughts:
Last month when i finished born to run at first i figured it was just another good book with a story line. However, over the course of a few days I remembered my surfing days in Southern California and the fact that by the end of the summer my bare feet could take a pounding and do very well.

I also remembered the Seal Beach Wrestling team. We always dreaded wrestling these guys because they seemed so tough and as always never wore wrestling shoes; 100% barefoot. Tough feet due to never wearing shoes.

So given these memories I decided to try some barefoot running and collect data so i could learn and pass along what I learn to others with a long term goal of mutual sharing.

First attempt and lesson learned:
Given i had no idea where to start I drove out to Beaver Pond Park (private city park full of runners) and took off my running shoes. Zero stretching just started to run. No socks, just bare feet. Within minutes I could not walk let alone run. The bottom of my feet are soft and gentle. Even the smallest rock or bump caused the bottom of my feet to hurt. I learned that shoes have turned my bare feet into wimps. super wimps.

Data collected from the first effort:
  • Feet are super sensitive after years of wearing shoes.
  • Park grass is full of bumps and rocks. Feet are very sensitive to the unsettled grass
  • I felt everything. Brain seemed very aware of what my feet where doing.

First week of efforts:
The next day I returned to barefoot running but this time at the UNCA soccer field. The grass is super short and very well groomed. The field is closed to the public so i ran on the sidelines of the field which appeared to be in the same condition as the field. Boy what a difference. I was able to run 2 miles.

Data collected from my first week of running:
  • Soccer field much easier to run on then park grass
  • First 100 yards my feet did not know what to do. I was kinda lost
  • 200 yard mark to 2 mile mark my feet felt very good.
  • Was landing at the back of the ball of my foot, both feet
  • After 100 yards of running my feet started to do the same thing
  • When I started the left foot had a different style then the right.
  • By the time I finished the 2 miles the left and right foot had the same style.
  • I did not spend much energy.
  • Moved about the same speed as running with shoes but with much less effort
  • Near the end of 2 miles the heal on the right foot started to hurt a bit. New pain.

Second and Third week effort:
Each time i would go out the running seemed easier. I looked forward to the short runs. My brain felt like a kid when I kicked off my shoes and started to run. I also did the same course with my shoes on. First, I would run the 2 miles then I would put my shoes back on and run the same 2 miles. I would return on week three and try putting my shoes back on with and without socks.

Data Collected from second and third week:
  • I felt like a kid when I went running barefoot
  • Within a few yards of running both feet would self correct and have the same style.
  • Would run the 2 miles without shoes then put shoes on with no socks.
  • Noticed that shoes require much more energy to run on the same grass.
  • When I ran barefoot my feet and the brain connected. I did not have to do anything
  • When I put the shoes back on with or without socks left foot would land on the left outside of the foot almost right away.
  • I went running 2 miles then went on a 14.3 mile trail run. Noticed that my entire body was in balance with almost no pain. It seemed like the pre-barefoot run was a great warm up to a long trail run.
  • When I wore no shoes the feet relaxed. When I put shoes back on the foot would crunch up and I would have to tell the foot to relax. (all the time)

Forth Week:
The most important thing I have learned so far is running a short barefoot run on groomed grass then heading out to the trail is a great warm up exercise. My entire body performed much better with this process then without this process. Most important thing I noticed was the body was much more relaxed on the days that I went running barefoot before I ran a long trail run; 14 miles.

I tried a bit of park grass this week. So far the foot is still not too excited about the rocks and bumps. However, the bottom of the foot is getting stronger just not very fast.

Tonight I went to the soccer field and ran about 1 mile. The field is very wet and very cold; 32 degrees. At first my feet performed very well with both feet acting the same and relaxing. However, within 10 minutes I could not feel my feet and before you know it I had no clue what my feet did. With my feet numb from the cold it felt like i had shoes on. I had lost a connection with my feet even though i had no shoes on.

Data collected from the fourth week
  • Bottom of the feet getting tougher but a long ways to go.
  • Within 20 yards both feet self correct and start running almost the same style
  • Put the shoes back on and the effort is much harder plus feet start running a different style. Right foot does its thing and left foot does its thing.
  • If the foot goes numb due to running on a super cold surface the feet start acting like they are in shoes. I can not tell what they are doing any more.
  • If I run 2 miles barefoot on the soccer field then head out and do a 14 mile trail run the entire body is relaxed and i use much less energy during the run. My leg muscles do not hurt. I sweat less. (not a whole lot less however).

Closing point:
Back to my surfing days. At the start of spring when i started to walk around on pacific coast highway or the hot sand my feet needed some protection. By the time school was out my feet could walk on any road surface including hot sand with no problems.

Second, when i wear shoes the feet do their own thing. The right foot has its landing and motion style and the left foot has its landing and motion style.

Most important after a month of this effort two big things stand out. First, it takes a ton less energy to run without shoes then with shoes. Second, a 2 short miles on the groomed soccer field barefoot then a long 14 mile trail run create perfect condition. My body is very loose and very relaxed.

It seems so far that shoes do a great job of protecting my feet while making my legs and upper body do tons of work. My feet stay super weak and my legs get super strong.

to be cont..

Friday, January 1, 2010

Freedom Park 24 Hour Race New Years Eve
Complete race report with photos..

I am so excited:
I managed to come in 50th place out of about 100 runners and given i am always near last place that is nothing but super good news. If my right foot which is a pain in the butt all the time had held up just a bit longer I would have been at least in 40th place. Exciting!! Plus the brain was in heaven for most of the race. My weak mind did super super well. Watch out Utah.

Leading up to the Race:
Weeks leading up to the race I spent about 15 hours running around the circle track in Morganton. The splits did not look good and my brain was not happy with the circle concept. My biggest fear was giving up around mile 23 because my brain had failed. The good news is my brain did super well. I did a lot of reading on the mind and ultra-running prior to this race. What I learned helped me gain a better understanding of my brain.

Work leading up to the race was insane. I work on computer networks and systems associated with the mad and crazy banking world. December is the month of money and anyone in the money world can tell you nothing can break down. Second, the weather proved to be near global melt down with more snow and cold then in the last 40 years. This meant only gym time for December with very few running miles. Gym time is great but it does nothing for my feet and that is the point.

Race Overview:
The weather tried super hard to make this a very bad race. However, this race was a blast. I enjoyed the run, the layout and the other runners. Most of the runners loved to talk to you and see what you thought and felt; visa versa. I also enjoyed making that turn around the last corner to see tons of tents, food stands and timing devices all lite up in the night sky. It was fun to run down this row of stuff, stop by pick up some apple juice and head back out for another lap. Good stuff.

I knew from the get go that staying dry and warm was going to be a big challenge and a very important function if planned on staying alive. Freezing weather / rain is a great way to die. Every five miles for the first 40 miles I took off all of my top layers except the thin rain jacket and replaced with a brand new layer of clothing. My sister would take all the wet frozen clothes to her car and dry them over the dash board heater. This drying system worked for some clothing items but not for everything.

The best move i made was buying extra stuff to wear including some cotton shirt that sucked the water off my back faster then any fancy stuff but of course.. once the cotton is wet I had to pull it off and replace with another dry top. I wore about 5 layers and replaced all 5 of the layers except the rain jacked every 5 miles.

Shoes and Feet:
I wore a pair of NB 875 Double E shoes for the first 30 miles. The shoes did a great job with about 100 miles on them before the race. I walked for 3 miles in a new pair of 875 NB shoes. This was a big mistake. I should have just keep the old shoes on if for no other reason then it cost me tons of time changing shoes.

I changed back into the older pair of 875 shoes for the rest of the race. The shoe offers very little support but given my feet are a mess it does a better job then any other shoe I have found on the market.

The left foot was hurting a few days before the race due to all the walking at work. However, the left foot was a champ during the race causing no pain or issues. The right foot also did well up to about mile 47. I was running a slow pace when the right foot twisted outward 100% causing tons of pain. I managed to walk back to my tent and rest for a bit. At the 50 mile mark i stopped running and rested in the car holding the foot in the air. This helped. I managed to get out of the car and move another 3 miles before giving up. If the foot had held up I am sure the numbers would be much higher. It should be noted that at mile 53 i was full of energy but the foot was in deep pain.

Layout and Food:
I set up my old trusty tent. This tent has seen seven 7,000 plus meter peak climbs over the many years. I bought this Noals tent in 1984. Inside the tent was my old Moonstone sleeping bag and some pads. I had a cooler located outside the tent with vitamins and scaps including some gels and other minor items including the famous ibuprofen which i kept to a very limited supply.

Food intake:
  • 3 whole bananas
  • 4 quarts of water mixed with multidextrin
  • 6 Cliff Shot Gels (body got sick of these after a while)
  • 3 GU gels
  • 1/2 of pizza (big mistake it came back up )
  • 16 ibuprofens over a 24 hour period
  • 12 scaps
  • 1 small mixture of coconut water (hate that stuff)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 5 small cups of chicken broth soup
  • 11 small cups of apple juice
  • 2 small pieces of hamburger which also made me sick
  • 1 grilled cheese sandwich at mile 50

The cliff shot gels and the water mix of Maltodextrin played a super big role in giving me extra energy both with the mind and the body. The pizza and hamburger did nothing but bring me down with the body throwing the pizza right back up within 10 minutes of eating.

The cramp issue was big. I was eating scaps every few miles. The scaps did their thing but only for a few miles. I was very surprised how many scaps i consumed during this race.

  • 5 mile = 44 min My PB = 37
  • 10 mile = 1:20 My PB = 1:10
  • 20 mile= 3:35 My PB = 3:16
  • 50 mile = 11:40 My PB = 9:36 this year. Last race was 12:39 however.

  • Going into the tent and laying down without someone to help get me back out
  • Eating pizza slice cost me 15 to 20 minutes due to throwing up the food
  • Changing shoes at mile 30 cost me 15 minutes
  • Letting my sister leave at mile 40

Outstanding issues:
  • Figure out what is wrong with my right foot for the long term
  • Figure out why my lungs fill up with fluid starting in the 40 mile range

  • Beat my last 50 mile run by 45 minutes (beat it by 47 minutes)
  • Run first 20 miles in less then 3:45 (made this goal)
  • Never get frustrated or angry during the race, feel positive and in control (100% success)
  • Do not injury myself beyond fast repair so i can run another race in March (made this goal)

Recovery and Next Race:
The next race is March 27th on Antelope Island State Park in Utah. This is a 50 mile run and i should do very well with this race. This run is all trail and more to my style of Ultra running.

The recovery so far has been very strong. My best friend Brian dropped by on the 1st to party and have some fun. I drank 2 beers which caused my body to feel strange. However, here we are on January 3rd and I am feeling very strong. My right foot still hurts but is not super big (i can put my shoes back on.. wow!!!!). I figure it will start working 100% in about a week so no long runs for a while.

The legs hurt but after some bike ridding in the gym today I am feeling pretty good.

Race Results and Info on the race:

Closing thoughts:
I had a blast. Period. Sure my body was feeling the miles but the mind did so well that I am super excited about the next race. My biggest concern from the last few races was the brain and how it was dealing with running for long distances. I worked on this weakness with fantastic results. Until next time.