Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Coaching Session and Refuel with Eggnog

Haven't blogged in the past little bit. Doesn't mean that nothing has been going on, on the contrary it seems like too much has been going on. That's life with 7 kids I guess. :) Finally found some time to write up about our coaching session with Toegirl Tina. We met up with her on November 25th at the Spray Lakes Sawmills Family Sports Centre in Cochrane. We met with her for a 1 on 2 coaching session. Tina is a VIVOBAREFOOT certified coach, training under Lee Saxby. I know barefoot coaching certification is a touchy thing in the barefoot running world but we certainly see the value in it. You don't need a coach to learn good form, however doing it yourself can take a long time. We feel that having a coach can help jumpstart better form and reduce the chance of injuries. Take it as you will.

Tina videoed our form, gave us pointers on what we were doing wrong and exercises to work on correcting how we are running. I went into the session thinking that there would be tons wrong with my form and that I would have lots to work on. Turns out I was doing pretty good already. My posture was good and my cadence was about 180 bpm. I was overstriding just a little and landing a little on the outside of my feet. The biggest surprise that I had was that I was using my Hip flexors instead of my hamstrings when I run. As Tina explained, the hip flexors are small muscles in the front of your leg whereas the hamstrings are large muscles that stretch across the back of your legs. I was driving my legs up using the hip flexors. Using the larger hamstrings would be better with less chance of stressing the muscles out.

All in all the coaching session was great. I felt that I learned lots and it was cool for Robbie and I to get to sit and talk with Tina about all sorts of things. Our 1 hour session stretched to 3 hours just because we got to talking.

Anyways on to today's run. I usually have my runs on Thursday but as I have a work Christmas party tomorrow I decided to run today instead. It wasn't too cold out but it had just snowed a couple of centimeters. It was a little slushy and there was enough snow that my shoe of choice was my Deep See Beach Walkers. They did the trick. 5 miles through lots of snow, a couple of very slushy spots and my feet stayed warm and dry. I know that with my Vibrams my feet would have easily gotten wet and cold, and the same would have happened with the Neos although they would last a little longer. I could stand in a puddle of water with the water shoes on and I would stay dry. Plus the soles are super flexible and let all of the sensation through. I still want to see the difference between the water shoes and the Neo Trails. Soon I will get a pair of Neo Trails and then I will definitely put them through the paces.

I have heard lots about the Refuel with Chocolate Milk promotion going on. I very much enjoy having chocolate milk after a long run. However in this season I vote that we change it to Refuel with Eggnog. Probably my favorite drink ever. If only it was calorie free and available all year round. I remember when I was younger my mom found an eggnog drink mix from Costco. I was in heaven when we had that as it extended my eggnog drinking season for a much longer time. I'm sure that Eggnog probably doesn't have the right ratios of carb/protein/fat like chocolate milk (or regular milk) has but I don't care. Any excuse to drink eggnog is good with me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

5 miles on a snowy day

This morning it seemed like everything was going wrong. I was feeling really tired and didn't want to get up for work. I had run out of frozen strawberries for my morning smoothie. I lost my access card for work. When I got on the bus I realized that I forgot to pack a lunch. When I got to work I realized that I forgot to pack my Garmin. When I went to the gym to get changed for my run, my new access card wasn't yet coded for the gym. Things were not the best but I was still looking forward to my run. I had 5 miles on the training plan for today and it had recently snowed a little. How crazy is it that I was really looking forward to getting outside and running, to getting out in the cold.

Well it wasn't that cold. Probably about 0ºC. I still wore my base layer pants and shirt as well as track pants and jacket. Once again I forgot to grab my mitts so my hands were a little cold. Ah well. I managed. On my feet I was wearing running socks and my VIVOBAREFOOT Neos.

My knee felt good the whole way through. Keeping my form in check seems to be getting easier, however I must say that we are having the coaching session with Toegirl Tina tomorrow (alliteration for the win!!) so I'm sure I'll find out all the ways I'm still screwing up and need to work on fixing things. Can't wait.
Cold but beautiful

Back to the run. It was beautiful outside. Saw quite a number of runners out, even some still in shorts. I ran east from Eau Claire along the river. Went across the bridge to the Zoo island. and back to work along the other side. Some dryer patches of pavement, lots of snowy patches, even some snow and ice. I also ran a short portion on a gravel path. My Neos worked wonderfully. I had the liners in so they were warmer, the trade-off being that I couldn't feel the ground as well. I never once felt like I was slipping and my feet stayed warm the whole time.

Path on the Zoo island. Love it here. Have to come back again
another cool thing about running by the zoo is that you get to run with dinosaurs. :)
Wet, but not too icy yet.
Gravel path. Fun!
I have heard that the Neo Trails are excellent winter shoes. Very warm with great tread. I'd love to try them out and see just how warm they are in freezing temperatures. Maybe sometime in the future I will get to play around with them, but not yet. :) I am working on a review of the Neos and hope to get it up shortly.
My replacement lunch. Very yummy and no wheat. Woot!

Running in my EVOs

I have run twice now in my EVOs. So far I am in love. They are light and flexible and have great ground feel. I ran 4 miles on Tuesday early in the morning and my toes were nice and warm. My favourite part of the run was running in the snow and felling how soft it was under my feet. It is such a cool feeling to actually be able to tell what you are running on. I ended my run by running through the alley. It was cool to feel the gravel under my feet.

 I ran another 5 miles on Wednesday. I was super warm out. I love Calgary where we can go from -20°C to 10°C in a day. The run was great and the shoes were perfect. I really feel like I am flying in these shoes. It is almost as free as I felt while running barefoot. Almost. I didn't take any pictures on either run. I would love to know how others take picture while running. My iPhone is always tucked into my spibelt behind me so it is hard to get to it for pictures. My other camera is small but I don't really want to carry something while I run. I figure I'll have to get used to it if I want pictures of my runs. 

Tomorrow Kyle and I are meeting with Tina from Toe Girl Tina for our barefoot running coaching session. I am really looking forward to it. I am also kind of nervous. I don't like to do things the wrong way and I am sure that she is going to correct my form and tell me I have been doing things wrong. That is the point. I want to get better so I need to admit that I'm not perfect at this yet. Oh man that is hard for me. Maybe I'll make sure Kyle goes first. Anyways I am expecting it to be great and I am looking forward to improving even if it hurts my ego. 

Lastly Barefoot Neil posted on his blog about an upcoming race in Cochrane to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Martin Parnell's 250th run. Kyle and I will be there doing the half marathon. It looks like a lot of fun. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mail Time!!!

 Here's the mail, it never fails. It makes me want to wag my tail. And when it come I wanna wail MAAAAIIIILLLL!!!!
They're here!!!!!
Today our VIVOBAREFOOT shoes finally came in the mail. We have been going crazy waiting for these shoes to arrive and we are both so glad they are here. Of course they arrived while I was at work so Robbie was the first to try hers on.
Black pair of EVOs.

Robbie loves the look of them.
I got home from work and tried on my new shoes.
My pair of Green/White NEOs
Styling. I love them so far
We will try and do a full review of these after we put in some miles but for now we are loving them. We have both been wearing them since we got them. I took mine on a trip to Walmart (without socks) and they are super comfortable so far. Very happy.

Long Run Day

This has been an interesting weekend. Saturday we were supposed to have foster care training but it was cancelled. Too bad no one told us, so we were up by 6 and had all the kids up and out the door by 8:30. Once we figured out that there was no training that day we decided to make the best of it and head over to the science centre for the day. We only have 5 kids because our two little girls were with Grandma. She was driving them to ballet and then taking them out for the day. The science centre was great. We had a nice time and headed home around 1:30 or so. Kyle got in his long run and I headed out the door to shop for boots with my sister. The funny part for me was that last year I was looking for boots and I had a had time finding boots that would fit over my calf. This year I had a hard time finding boots that were tight enough around my calf. I am so grateful every time something like this reminds me that all of the hard work I have put in actually made major changes in me.

Sunday we headed to church like always, only like Kyle already posted Joey had an accident and had to be rushed to Children's Hospital to get put back together. I was so thankful to see him come back into the church by the end of the service. He looked bad but he was happy and running around. Finally we headed home, both Kyle and I were still shaken up and feeling overwhelmed from the accident. It is unbelievable how much a head wound bleeds and really I don't think any parent wants to see blood pouring out of their child. We served lunch and put Joe down for a nap. The little girls had a birthday party to go to and I was planning on running while they were there. I felt guilty even thinking about running when my little guy was hurt but Kyle assured me that he could handle Joe and that I really should run. Thank God for a husband who is supportive of my running. He knows when to push and when to back off and he has been instrumental in my running so far. I dropped the little girls off and headed out for my run. A few of the parents at the party asked me about my water shoes, I was dressed in my running gear. Some strange looks when I said that I wear them because they have no support and let me feel the ground. I number of people also commented that it is crazy to run when it is so cold. At -20°C with the wind-chill I guess I could agree but part of my mental game with training right now is to remind myself that the race is going to be cold, probably much colder than -20°C and I need to get used to it.

My run

I ran 6.11 miles in -20C and I really wasn't cold at all. The sun was shining and I was thankful that I was out running, thankful that this is my life, that I am fit and active and that this year I am not going to go stir crazy in the winter because I am going to get out and run even if it's cold. (well I hope so at least) I ran an out and back on the bike path that runs North to South through Calgary. It is a familiar path and actually it is the path that I did a lot of my long runs on while training for my last half. I was able to run home from church on Sundays and get in anywhere from 7 - 13 miles depending on where I started and how I looped around to my house. The path has been under construction for the past few months and I am happy that it is finished now. I am looking forward to my first run home from church, possibly next week. Anyways the run out was warm so I took off my windbreaker shell. With the sun shining down it was lovely. After the turn around the sun started to go down and I was starting to get a chill so I pulled my windbreaker on again and continued to be warm. Really, I was warm the whole run. I didn't feel cold until I got back into my van after the run. I was sweaty and now freezing. I stopped at my church to change and then headed to Starbucks for a recovery Peppermint Mocha. I picked up the girls and headed home. All was well at our house. Joey was running around like crazy, not seeming to be bothered at all by his head wound. I had a bath with epsom salts and relaxed the rest of the night. So long run #1 is in the books. Only 11 more to go until the Hypothermic Half. I am really looking forward to each run now and hoping to continue to run even when it gets much colder. This was a crazy wordy post, thanks for reading if you made it this far.

Joe at home colouring while waiting for lunch.
Joe being silly at bed time. 1 soother is good so 2 should be so much better.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Long run and hospital run

Kyle here. Yesterday was my long run. My first long run since I hurt my knee. My knee has been feeling better and so far my trick of making sure my form is good has been helping my knee to remain good. Would it last through a long run. That was the question. It was about -16º C outside so first I had to consider what I was going to wear. I opted to go with my running base layer, long johns over that and then track pants over that on my legs. On my top I was wearing a running base layer, cotton t-shirt, and then a Running Room wind proof jacket. Not a warm jacket, but it was pretty windy at the time so I knew that I needed something to cut the wind. On my head I was wearing my Bondiband toque and Robbie's Flexi-chute over my mouth. On my feet I wore a sock liner, big wool socks and then my water shoes. I wore heavy gloves on my hands.

Now I say it was a ling run, but it feels kinda funny calling 6 miles a long run. Considering before the half marathon we were doing 6 miles on normal days and 13 miles on our long run days. It has been a long time since I've done a long run so 6 miles felt pretty good. 6 miles is also the farthest I have gone in minimalist shoes doing actually good form (I'm pretty sure I was heel striking in my Vibrams before. Amazingly it didn't hurt me to do so). 6 miles felt good though. All said and done the 6 miles was a great length. Felt good to be getting my distance back up. My knee acted up every now and again. It first started at about 3 miles in. All I needed to do though was correct my form and slow down and the pain went away. Awesome. As far as injuries go, one that reminds you to keep your form in check is pretty good. :) I must say that my knee is a little sore today, but I think I just need to take care of it a little more next time. Ice it and use tylenol. Even still it's only a tiny bit sore so it's all good.
Mmmm, frosty

My layering strategy worked pretty well. My feet were nice and warm. My hands were nice and warm. My body was pretty good with the exception of one (ahem) delicate area. I'm thinking some thermal underwear next time would solve that problem. One other item of note is that the cotton shirt wasn't a very good idea. It was soaking wet when I got back and heavy. Also Robbie found snow under my jacket in the back. The snow could only have been crystallized sweat. Yuck.
Sweat snow!

So that was my long run yesterday. What was the hospital run? This morning at church Joseph (our almost 2 year old little guy) was in the foyer and tripped over his shoes. He smacked his head on the edge of a wooden door and sliced his head open. Blood everywhere and a screaming boy. The other kids were in the sanctuary, pretty upset. Rebekah and Sarah were the most upset and were just crying. Poor kiddos.

Auntie and Pastor called 911 and the paramedics showed up shortly after. They checked him over bandaged him up and said that we could drive him to the hospital (they also offered a ride in the ambulance, but we didn't think that was needed). I was less shaken up by all this so I drove him. He was a wonderful little trooper. Once we left he didn't cry at all. He was happy, listened well and was fantastic. He got a little bored in the waiting room, but that was the only complaint. :) At one point he was knocking on the door and then was banging his head on the door too. I stopped him from doing that for obvious reasons. Apparently the head wound didn't feel too bad to him.

Joey with his bandaged head and bloody shirt. Shame, it was such a nice outfit.
He was still pretty happy though
The doctor came in and checked him out. Thankfully the wound would press back together nicely so they only had to glue it together, no stitches needed. Phew. So Joey has a nice new war wound on his forehead, bloody clothes worthy of a zombie costume and Robbie and I got all the excited we could handle for today.
Head wound all glued up and ready to go.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quickie post.

I wanted to write a quick recap of my day yesterday.  I thought it would be fun to share what goes into a day with 7 kids and training for a race.

6:00 wake up get into workout clothes
6:30 make tea, start strength training, light weights arms, abs and legs
7:00 finished workout, sit down to read, blog and eat breakfast (egg whites with salsa and fruit)
7:45 get GG (our foster baby) up and give her milk, get her dressed and ready to go for a visit
8:00 all the other kids get up and start making noise wanting breakfast, leftover oatmeal with fruit
8:30 GG picked up, kids clear table and we start school work
10:00 snack time, call kids to the table for snack, read aloud to them while we eat
10:30 more school work, help 4yo with piano practice, read with 6yo, tell 7yo to keep working and stop bugging other kids, encourage 9yo to find another place to read where 7yo isn't around
11:15 GG gets back, put her down for short nap
Noon lunch time serve lunch, wraps with PB&J for kids, cucumbers with feta and balsamic vinegar and a sweet potato for me
12:30 scramble to make sure everyone is dressing including, shoes, coats, warm things, wake GG and get her ready to go out
1:00 leave for Costco after about 15min of buckling everyone into carseats
1:20 shop at Costco with 7 kids (this went really well, we even had 5 samples)
2:45 pay and head to van, it is snowing by now and pretty cold, unload groceries while listening to tired kids bicker in van
3:15 finally get home, hand out snack at kitchen table
3:30 send littles kids for a nap, 1yo, 2yo, 3yo, 4yo all go for a nap, olders finish school work or play video games
3:45 bring in box after box of groceries while freezing, watching for Kyle to get home so I can stay inside
4:10 cut up veggies and prepare soup to simmer on stove until super time
4:20 get into 4 layers of running clothes and head out for a run, -4C about -14C with windchill
4:30 run 3miles. 2.5 in my water shoes, .5 in just my socks, I also ran down the alley to try running on the gravel. Very interesting sensation.
5:00 grab soup and head to bath while Kyle feeds kids homemade pizza
6:30 head out to choir practice all by myself
10:30 get home from choir, eat my weight in fruit and more soup 
11:00 finally crash in bed

Anyways that's a look at my day. Normally we don't leave the house but with Kyle and I both training for a race our evening are more busy so I may have to start taking all of the kids to shop with me alone. Normally we wait for Kyle or Kyle goes by himself. Yesterday really was a great day. I was amazed at how much energy I had at choir practice after my run. I am so grateful to feel that high again. This is why I am so into running it makes me feel so good. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Knee is still rocking and so many pretty shoes

Kyle here. Last night I went for another run as per our half marathon training plan. It was for 3 miles, so I just ran up to the top of the community and back down. I believe that it was about -7º C, maybe -12º C with windchill. I had on my base layers again. I decided to try wearing my Bikilas with Injinji socks. As I set out of the house I still had a little bit of dread that my knee would hurt again. Well the 3 miles came and went and my knee was perfectly fine. Awesome. Looks like keeping my feet parallel is really going to cure my runner's knee.

So as I said earlier I decided to try wearing my Bikilas with Injinji socks. I must say now that I am not a fan of wearing both. It felt like there was too much between me and the ground. I could feel rocks that I ran over, but I could only feel that they were there. Nothing hurt or was uncomfortable at all. Like I said, it just felt like there was too much between me and the ground. So I can easily say that the Water shoes are the way to go. At least until my Vivobarefoot Neo's come. Then we will see. I so can't wait and I just want to get out in them. 
With that in mind, today while I was at a conference I decided on a whim to see if there are any stores in Calgary that carry them. I found one. Riva's The Eco Store.  It was even within walking distance of the conference. Woot! Lunch time came and I headed out. For anyone in Calgary, they are located just east of Fort Calgary at 1237 9th Avenue SE and they have a ton of Vivobarefoot shoes.
Riva's The Eco Store
I went there to try on a pair of Neo's to see what they were like. But also to look at all the pretty shoes. Tried on the Neo's in the size I ordered and they were tight in the toe box. Crap. We will have to see when my shoes come if it will be okay. Otherwise I'm not sure what to do. We shall see. Rather than describing the shoes, I'll just post pictures of them. Robbie and I will definitely be back to this store. So nice to be able to try them on and their prices are quite comparable to the Vivobarefoot store. They have a ton of selection which they said will only get even better. In the spring they will have everything available. If it's on the Vivobarefoot webpage, they will stock it. I highly recommend Riva's!
The only problem is our lack of lots of extra funds. Sigh. If we had tons of money I would go nuts in this store. Laff If anyone from Vivobarefoot is reading this and wants to send us a shoe to review, that would be fantastic. Not likely to happen, but I guess we can dream. :)

Try on a pair and you can enter to win a pair. But don't, so I'll have a better chance. ;)
The Neo's I tried on. Small toe box. :(
Dressy shoes. Love to get a pair of Dharma's for work.
Robbie would love a pair of these. Would work great for church.
Lovely shoes. The Dharma is on the far right. I'd want it in black I think.
My Neo's are in the same coloring as the third on in.
More shoes.
Even more
Even some boots.
Beloved Neo Trails. One day these will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Half Marathon #2 here I come.

I am training for another half marathon. I am so excited I can't even tell you. I have felt like my running has taken a back seat of late and I haven't been feeling very motivated to get moving. Kyle and I were talking last night and I proposed that we try and run the Hypothermic Half in February. It is 13 weeks away. I was beaming while we looked up training plans and my excitement for running mounted again. I guess I needed a goal. The plan we picked includes cross training which I thought was wise as we are still transitioning to minimalist running. Yesterday was a strength and stretch day and today was the first official running day. I am super excited to have a plan again, I don't follow the plan to the letter but like having something to shoot for.

Today's run was 3 miles. I decided to run this morning because Kyle was going in late and we are out Tuesday nights. I started out at 6:30 am, it was still dark and quite cold -14C (7F). The run felt great. I felt like my form was more relaxed and overall just enjoyed running. I was running 1.5 min/mile slower than before but I figure I can add speed as I progress. I forgot to take a picture with all my gear on so I decided to lay it all out on the bed to show how much I was wearing to keep me warm. Now it may seem like a lot but when you go from 60% body fat to 18% you feel the cold so much more.

In the picture I have my Bondi Band Ponytail Hat, Energizer Headlamp, Spibelt, Running Room Mittens, Icebreaker Flexi Chute, Nike short sleeve technical tee, Paradox Base Layer long sleeve shirt, Yoga Jacket, Running Room Coat, Paradox Base Layer Pants, MEC Mercury Running Tights, Injinji Socks, Running Room Socks, and Deep Sea Beach Walker shoes.

Wow what a lot of stuff just to run. I'll tell you that I wasn't too warm, my legs were cool but just about right, my face was warm although I pulled the Flexi Chute off of my mouth and nose, and my upper body was warm but not over heated. I am sure that I will need to find a better solution with perhaps less pieces for once it gets colder. I tell you I wear more clothes to run than I wear all week long. So tell me what are your essential cold weather running items? Now that I am signing up for the half I know I'll be spending a lot more time out in the cold than I am used to and I want to be prepared. Also anyone else running in Hypothermic Half?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm back in the game! Woot!!!

Kyle here. So after today's post with our revelation about my out-toeing I decided to give it a shot tonight. Robbie and I are hoping to do another half marathon in February and so we just looked up another training plan. On the bill for today was 3 miles. My last run was 1 mile before my knee started hurting and that was only 3 days ago. I was hesitant, but hopeful. I knew that if I started to hurt that I could just walk back and things would be okay. With that in mind my goal for today was to run barefoot style, but making sure that I keep my feet parallel.

It was -5º C tonight and the sun was already down. I put on my baselayer, with a track suit on over top. I had my Bondiband toque on with a headlamp. On my feet I had a pair of socks and a pair of Deep See Beach Walker aqua socks. First time running with them on. The shoes worked great. Nice and thin so I could still feel the ground and all the little rocks on the path, but my toes stayed nice and warm.
Ready for a cold and dark run!          My winter running Aqua Socks.

So I get out on the path and I'm making sure that I'm going slow. Keeping my feet light, land on forefoot, kiss with the heel, trying not to over stride. Oh and making sure that my feet are parallel. I keep checking my Garmin to see how far I've gone expecting pain to start up. Every single ache or twinge I'm over analyzing, expecting the knee pain to come. I get a mile into my run and everything feels great. Well mostly everything. The insides of my legs are feeling tight. This is from keeping my feet parallel. I'm now using new muscles in order to change how I'm running. It's aching a little, but it's a great kind of ache. The kind that lets you know that your body is working.

I get 1.5 miles into my run and then I turn around to go back. Still feeling great. I continued to feel great the whole time. About 2.75 miles in my knee starts to hurt a little. I do a quick form check, make sure my feet are parallel and slow down (I had started speeding up a little without knowing it). Wouldn't you know it, the pain goes away. Awesome. I get home after running 3 miles and I'm so thrilled. I feel fantastic and like I can do anything. So great to be back out running again. Looking forward to running some more.

Oh and one more thing of note. It just snowed today so I was running on snow the whole time. No problem. Even ran over a bit of ice. Felt exactly the same as the rest of the ground. No slipping or sliding. I had to turn around and run over the ice again to make sure that it actually was ice. Fantastic! Ice is a great form check so it was good to know that I wasn't doing too bad.

My duck feet and runner's knee

So as you may know I have been sidelined recently with a case of runner's knee. After my long run where I had to run with a sore knee for 2 miles so that I could get back to the van and pick up the boys my knee has been bugging me. I knew that I should just rest and so I have. Last friday (Nov 11th), my knee was feeling good and the weather was great out. A little warm, still no snow and my wonderful wife agreed to let me go out and run for a bit. I knew I wasn't going to go far, so I just chose to run around the lake close to our house. I wore my new Vibram Bikilas, which I love. I now wear either them or my KSO's all day long when I'm at home. I'd go barefoot at home but with 7 kids there are a lot of crumbs on the ground so that's not the best option. :)

Anyways it's about half a mile from our house to the lake. I ran there in my Bikilas and then took off my shoes.
Narrowly avoided getting pooped on by a flock of geese right after I took my shoes off. Yuck.
The path around the lake. Not a sunny day, but it was warm enough for barefoot running.
The path around the lake is just shy of 1 mile, so I was hoping to run around the lake twice and then head home. 3 miles still seems short, but good. About halfway around the lake though my left knee starts to hurt. Crap. My knee still isn't good. Resigned I put on my Bikilas and slowly headed back home as I didn't want to make things worse. Really getting frustrated at not being able to run more, but I can't force my knee to get better so I just have to rest more.

Then last night Robbie and I were talking about running. Figuring out what our next race should be, what our plans are for the upcoming year, etc. She then asked about my knee. I showed her where the pain was and she said that it sounded like Runner's Knee. And then we had an 'Aha!' moment. When I stand normally my feet are not parallel. My feet point out in a V. I always have done that and I'm sure that it's kinda like that when I run too.
Relaxed stance. I might point my toes out even more normally, I'm not sure.
I have heard that running barefoot will help your body to correct issues like that. I can imagine that trying to run barefoot with my feet turned out like that would make landing on my forefoot more dangerous. With my feet turned out landing on my forefoot would probably make me land a little harder on the little 4th and 5th metatarsals in my feet. These are not really designed for high impact and can lead to stress fractures. Going barefoot probably naturally causes me to correct for this and run with my feet more parallel. Maybe this is the cause of my pain. I'm going to be more mindful of how I sit, stand, walk and run to see if this helps my knee to feel better. I'm also going to do some Runner's knee stretches that we had found on Youtube.

I'll document how it goes. Hopefully the pain will go away and my relaxed standing posture will improve.


Friday, November 11, 2011

My thoughts on women and barefoot running.

It has only been just over a month now since I have started my journey into barefoot and minimalist running. So far it has been wonderful and challenging. I have been so blessed to be able to read blogs and follow in the footsteps of some pretty awesome women who have gone before. One of my first introductions to barefoot running was through a podcast called Run Barefoot Girl. I was actually listening to Caity's podcast while training and running my first half marathon. It was inspirational and really just awesome. One on the questions Caity asked her guests often is why they thought there weren't more women barefoot running. At first I had no idea. I thought why on earth wouldn't more women want to do this. It's great and freeing. Now however as I transition I have some reasons that it is harder for me.

1. Giving up the mileage. I am not patient, I went from running 25-30 miles a week to running 5 miles per week. It has been so hard to be running so little. Running is my escape. I love the feeling of running away from my home. I feel like with each step I can leave behind my responsibilities and the stress that comes with raising a large family. While training for the half marathon I didn't really follow a plan. I ran 3 or 4 short runs and a long run each week. My short runs were seldom under 6 miles. 6 miles felt like my perfect distance. Far enough to get away and actually relax. Anything under just didn't give me the same feeling. So now as I am transitioning I am missing that feeling. I am only running around 2-4 miles at a time right now. What that looks like for me is often running 1-2 miles away from home then looping back for 1-2 miles. I don't get the same feeling for leaving behind my responsibilities. They feel too close still. On days that I can drive somewhere and run, then drive home it is better but with a full house I do not get that opportunity very often. So I am not so patiently waiting to get back to 6 miles. 6 miles feels like it is so far away right now. I am developing patience though.

2. My minimalist shoes are ugly. This is totally vain, but so true for me. I love running in my bare feet. I feel like a rockstar. I feel like a strong, powerful, confident woman as I pass people with only the soles of my bare feet carrying me. Unfortunately for me I live in Canada, not even in the warm parts of Canada. I need to wear shoes now. It is too cold to run in bare feet. I tried my VFF but my toes were too cold (I'm a sissy with the cold) and now I have found a great solution in my water shoes. The problem, they are ugly. When I run in my water shoes my form feels good but I feel like a dork. I lose that feeling of being strong and powerful. I feel self conscious, I wonder what people are thinking about me as I run in these weird looking shoes. After my run on Wednesday, I seriously considered putting my 'normal' running shoe on again for the winter. I can't really run in them now because I find it too hard to keep good form but at least I would look like everyone else. See for me if I am going to look different I want it to look like I did it on purpose, not like I forgot my shoes or don't know what good shoes to run in are. In my bare feet or my VFF I know I look different but I somehow feel superior. "I can run in bare feet or with no support, haha take that cute marshmallow shoes!" In my water shoes no one knows why I am doing it. Maybe if I had a shirt that says I am running in these on purpose because it is good for my feet. Maybe that would help. I have a pair of EVOs on their way to me so that may help the situation. Really I don't want to go back to my marshmallow shoes. I just want a pair of shoes that either stand out and say look at how awesome I am or a pair of shoes that blend in and let me look normal.

3. It's hard, slow work. Learning to run barefoot/minimalist is hard work. I have to think about my form. Am I stretching to far forward? How's my posture? Are my feet lifting or pushing? As with point #1, I run to stop thinking. I run to leave the world behind. I used to get lost in my runs, enjoying the sights, sounds and thrill of running. Now as I transition it is more work. I cannot just run without thinking because my old muscle memory of shod running takes over and I start to hurt. When I lose myself in the run I over stride, getting caught up in the excitement of putting my feet in front of me. I now run slower too. So it takes me more time and more energy (brain energy not body energy) to cover the same miles.This is hard for me. With my shoes on I could run and run. I wasn't crazy fast but I was somewhere in the middle of the pack. Now I am starting all over again. I like feeling like I know what I am doing and with barefoot running I am still learning. I am hoping to help this out in a couple of weeks. Kyle and I have signed up for a coaching session with Toe Girl Tina. Later on this month we will meet with her and learn more about how to run barefoot and how to maintain good form even with minimalist shoes on. This will help, not only with form but with forming a much needed support system. To see Tina run and know that the transition can be done and that I will again be able to run away reminds me why I am doing this.

Overall I am not sure why I keep pushing to transition, I didn't have any injuries, yet, I enjoyed running in my shoes and I was happy. There was no real reason to transition and the transition is challenging. So why do I keep going? Part of why I am keeping at it is the basic biological evidence for the natural running form. I've seen it, I've read it and I've observed it in my own children. I'm sold that a natural running form is the best for humans. I am also sold that the best way to get to a natural running form is through my bare feet. The other reason I keep going is the community that I feel like I am part of. When I ran in my shoes I didn't feel connected to other runners. Now I feel a connection to the other barefoot runners I know, in real life and out there in the internet world. I am inspired by the blogs I read and the stories I hear of women running barefoot and loving it.  I feel like we are doing something good for ourselves and for me I feel like I am paving the way for my children. I hope that when they are grown and want to run that their bodies never forget how it was to run barefoot. The transition has been slow and it is work but I believe that, like with many things in life, it will be worth it in the end. I am forever grateful to those around me who have encouraged me and pushed me to take off my shoes. To those of you in the blog world who have already transitioned and have shared your stories, I am grateful to read your stories and hear about how awesome barefoot running is and will be for years to come.

Monday, November 07, 2011

My last run in my VFF for the season

Today was a stressful, tiring day. I do not know who thought that daylight savings was a good idea, but I doubt they had kids. My kids have not adjusted to the time change and I really haven't either. We were all awake before 6:30 this morning. After finishing school late and dealing with a sick baby and a clingy toddler, I was done by the time Kyle came home from work. I texted him and asked if I could get out and run as soon as he got home. Being the loving and very smart man that he is he was very supportive of me getting out and getting in a run. It was about 2C and falling as I left and it was getting pretty dark. I started out in my VFFs and my Injinji socks. I dressed warm in a t-shirt, base layer, vest, thermal tights, mitts, and my bondi band ponytail hat. I was warm and feeling good. I noticed two things about running in my Bikilas. First, when I ran on soft unpacked snow the snow stuck to the bottom of my shoes and I could feel very noticeable chunks of ice/snow under my feet. I had to stop and scrape it off. I also noticed that after about 1.5 miles my toes were getting numb. It actually felt like I was running on bricks of ice. I couldn't flex or wiggle my toes anymore. I headed home because frozen toes isn't my idea of a good time. I hit 2 miles by the time I got home and I was feeling great except for my frozen, and now thawing painfully, toes. I decided to do quick shoe change and head back out. I grabbed my new Deep See Beach Walkers, a pair of sock liners and a pair of running socks. All warmed up I headed out for some more. The shoes were great. Light and flexible but nice and warm. I could still feel the ground under my feet but I no longer felt like I was running on bricks of ice. I ran another 2 miles. I ran in ankle deep snow, over ice and along the path around the pond where I live. I was perfect. (not my running, I still need work), but the shoes did everything that I wanted them too. Me feet were warm and snug and I could still feel what I was running on. They worked very well in the snow and my socks didn't get wet. I slipped on the ice with them any time I pushed off instead of lifting my feet but anything short of spikes on ice is a recipe for slipping without great form I'm sure.  I was quite surprised at how little slipping I did when I remembered to lift my feet. I am looking forward to many more miles in my Beach Walkers. I am sad to say that my VFF will now be stuck inside the house to be saved for chinook days and spring time.

Meeting Toe Girl Tina

Last night Kyle and I had the opportunity to meet Toe Girl Tina from The Living Barefoot Show. It was so much fun. We had heard from her blog that she was going to be part of the 5 Peaks Central Alberta Mountain Equipment Co-op night. She was super friendly and has tons of great information. We asked her about shoes and running in the winter and also talked with her about barefoot coaching. Tina is a  VIVOBAREFOOT Certified Coach. I am very interested to get some coaching from her. I have enjoyed running barefoot and listening to my feet to adjust my form but with the winter here, now I cannot run barefoot and I need more help learning proper form. It was also so nice to meet another woman who runs barefoot and minimalist. I have only met one women in person running in VFF. Actually I ran with her for a while in the harvest half this past October. I have connected with barefoot women online but Tina was the first I've connected with in real life. I was very impressed by her vast knowledge on minimalist shoes for all occasions, dress shoes, winter boots, and what I needed most, ideas on what to run in during the cold winter. Tina suggested a pair of water shoes from Atmosphere; Deep See Beach Walkers. They are super flexible, have great ground feel all the while keeping the cold out. Kyle and I lucked out on Sunday. We ran across the street to Atmosphere to pick some up and they were having a members sale. For a 2$ donation we were given a 25% discount and a 10% discount on sale items. Awesome! Winter running shoes for less than 20$. While we were there we also browsed and pick up some new Vibrams. I got a pair of Jayas and Kyle got a pair of Bikilas. We will let you know what we think of them later on. 

Here are some pictures of the Deep See Beach Walkers. Paired with some warm socks we think these will get us through Calgary's cold snowy winter. 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Not running sucks

Kyle here. Still with a bum knee. This sucks. I have to say that I enjoy running. A year ago I would never have thought that I would ever wish I could be running, let alone enjoy it. It is addicting though and I love it. Which is why it sucks so much to be sidelined by a bad knee.
I think the part that sucks the most was that I was finally getting up to. a good distance barefooting. My last run I had done 4 miles and my feet felt wonderful!! If it wasn't for my bum knee things would be great.
I feel defeated by my knee. I still don't want to push it though. I know that trying to push through it will only injure it more and not let it heal. So sucky as it is, I'm resting. And I feel lazy for it. My weight has gone up (although Halloween may have had a huge part in that.... Mmmm candy) and I feel stir crazy. So tonight I tried going on our stationary bike. It's no running, but it felt good to get my heart pumping. I did 12 km on the bike and my knee feels pretty good. It wasn't perfect on my knee, but a little ice should fix it up.
Tomorrow night Robbie and I will be going to Mountain Equipment Coop as Toe Girl Tina will be there in regards to the Five Peaks Race series. We wanted to go to get a couple of things from MEC, as well as to meet another local barefooter. Should be fun. Plus we get a night out without the kids. Woot!!!


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Barefoot running in the cold

Today while my older kids had their piano lessons I headed out to the Nose Hill pathway which I used for my long runs when I was training for my half marathon. The path has been closed down for most of the summer for construction and repairs and has just reopened. I decided to try out Kyle's KSOs because my Bikilas were hurting my foot. After my last run which was completely barefoot, I had to stop at sobeys for groceries so I put my bikilas on to go into the store. After really just a couple of steps I noticed the pain in the top of my foot toward the outside of my ankle. This has happened a couple times before After that I decided that I wasn't going to wear them anymore. See, around the house I usually wear cheap flip flops year round. I hate to step on crumbs and I have 7 kids so I have to have something on my feet. Well I've been wearing my Bikilas most days and then wondering why my foot was hurting. Once I realized it was the shoes I was disappointed. Has anyone else had trouble with the bikilas? So all day yesterday I wore Kyle's KSOs. Now, he is a 41 mens and I am a 41 women's so they were a little big on me but they felt great. I wanted to try them out because there is a lady close to me who has some in my size for sale. I am really disappointed that we spent good money on the Bikilas only to have them hurt my feet.

Anyways on to the run. It was about 2C with very little sun and the path was deserted.

Neon orange in case someone is hunting along the path.
I started out in the KSOs and found that the ground feel with them is much more natural than with the Bikilas. Everything felt good. As I ran I noticed that there was a short trail through the tree in behind the new science centre. I couldn't resist. I love running on trails and I wish that I had more time to go away and run in the woods. The trails was pea gravel and I noticed right away the difference between the KSOs and the Bikilas. It didn't hurt really just that I noticed the feel of the rocks more. 
I had to take a quick video just to show you how much fun it was.

After the trail I came out right beside the science centre and back onto the path back towards my van. I wasn't quite done yet although my toes were getting pretty cold. The pathway was nice and smooth so I took my shoes off and hooked them onto my spibelt. Seriously, who takes off their shoes when their feet are already cold. It felt great again to be running bare but I was noticing how numb my feet become when it is cold out. It wasn't uncomfortable just different. I had to watch that my form was still good as I couldn't depend on my cold toes to tell me if I was pushing rather than lifting. Everything was going along well. Then I saw up ahead that the path was all broken up. I thought to myself that I had better just keep going, I might as well see if I can run on gravel without hurting myself. I ran through the first time with no problems. Kept relaxed, lifted my feet and kept moving. I got past and then had to turn around to go back to my van. I ran over it again. This time it was kind of a thrill to run on the gravel. Oh my gosh I can do this. 

Overall it was a great run. I did 2.47 miles. 1 mile barefoot. I am really going to have to find a cold weather solution though because now that I don't have so much insulation I am freezing all the time. Tina from Toe Girl Tina is going to be in Calgary at MEC this Sunday and Kyle and I are hoping to be there. I am hoping to see what she uses in the frigid weather and hopefully pick up some injinji socks to keep my feet warm until my EVOs get here.