Friday, February 29, 2008

4K Week

This week I increased the distance for my daily runs to 4 kilometers.

I didn't do a long run last weekend because I blistered my toes on an experimental barefoot run I did on Friday. In fact I took Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. It might seem sort of strange, but the weekend here in Israel is Friday and Saturday not Saturday and Sunday like in the Western world.

I did 4K on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It took me 28 to 30 minutes to complete each run so I'm backing off the average pace to 7:15 minutes per kilometer or 11:40 minutes per mile. That's about my racewalking training pace from last year but I've got a hilly course and I just got started about a month ago. In addition, by backing off my pace I'm able to keep my heart rate at a more sustainable 160 bpm average instead of getting too close to my maximum, though near the top of the course I'm peaking out at around 175 bpm. Average cadence is around 85 (170 steps per minute) so I'm still a little short of the "ideal" 180 steps per minute.

I was thinking of increasing the daily run to 5K next week but I haven't decided on it yet. I'd rather start adding some long distance work into my routine and make 6-daily runs per week rather than increase the daily run distance and have to skip a few days. Apparently the rainy season is over so weather shouldn't be a factor for the next few months.

But what about another barefoot run? I'm actually thinking about doing it again. My toe blisters hurt more when I walk than when I run and maybe it was more a matter of doing 30 minutes on asphalt with unprepared feet that caused the blisters in the first place. Hopefully I won't be having to endure 100 blisters like this Wall Street Journal Article: Baring Their Soles: Pain Doesn't Defeat Unshod Marathoners

Here's an excerpt of the article:

Baring Their Soles:
Pain Doesn't Defeat
Unshod Marathoners

To Harden and Condition Feet,
Runners Chuck Sneakers;
Mr. Yoshino Gets a Blister

December 27, 2006; Page A1

Last month, after returning from an eight-mile run, Tsuyoshi Yoshino heated up a three-inch sewing needle until it turned bright red. Then, he says, he plunged the glowing instrument into the ball of his foot, puncturing a three-inch-long blister.

Despite the risk of infection, he walked around his San Diego house for 20 minutes on the open wound to get used to the pain. "It's not something I like doing," he says. "But I have to."

While other marathoners train by carbo-loading, Mr. Yoshino has a more painful regimen. The 32-year-old graduate student at San Diego State University is one of a growing cadre of formerly shod distance runners making a torturous transition to running barefoot in the hope of improving their times and strengthening their soles. Blisters are an inevitable part of the journey. Mr. Yoshino estimates he's popped about 40 of them in the past 18 months. (See "Running Shoeless May Be Better," June 6)

Over the years, a handful of world-class runners have been able to compete barefoot because they had run that way all their lives, hardening their feet naturally from early childhood. Among them: Ethiopia's Abebe Bikila, in the 1960s, and South Africa's Zola Budd Pieterse two decades later. But for runners long-accustomed to cushiony footwear, making the switchover often involves bizarre, agonizing feats.

"I wish there was an 'Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running,'" says Mr. Yoshino, a former collegiate cross-country athlete. In 2002, he completed the Boston Marathon -- in sneakers -- in two hours and 43 minutes, placing him among the top 260 finishers.

Nowadays he limps to a halt after eight miles because his bare feet heat up and blister. Since commencing barefoot training through the streets and hills of San Diego 18 months ago, he's consulted an acupuncturist for pain relief. A sports-injury specialist taught him to remove deeply embedded thorns from his feet with a box cutter.


[Health Journal]

Health Journal: Running Shoeless May Be Better

Mr. Yoshino says he'll need to lance another 100 blisters before achieving his dream -- an outer crust on his feet as hard as that of some Australian aborigines. "It's no picnic," he says.