Monday, March 31, 2008

Barefoot Running Post on ChiRunning

I don't usually post on discussing boards these days but a very active thread on barefoot running on the ChiRunning site caught my attention and I responded. However, there seems to be a problem with their software and I can't submit my post--no use letting the effort go to waste:
Update--I was able to post this after several emails with the site manager.

Barefoot Running... Injuries?

I just got my ChiRunning/ChiWalking email newsletter and found this "Hot Bulletin Board Topic" listed. Although I don't consider myself a barefoot runner (yet) maybe some of my experiences can shed some light on this topic.

I was never much of an athlete but just before I turned 40 I got the urge to run a marathon--call it mid-life crises. I trained with a run-walk Jeff Galloway certified group and made it through all the pain and suffering of trying out several expensive running shoes guided by the "experts" at a local high-end running store until finding something that worked for me. Somehow I made it through a run-walk-run-walk-walk-walk-walk-OK, run that last 0.2 mile.

I didn't consider doing another marathon for 13 years then that familiar urge came back a couple of years ago. This time I started my training knowing what to expect--lots of pain until I got the right shoe combination again. Only this time I couldn't get rid of the knee pain. It eventually landed me inside an MRI machine with an orthopedic surgeon telling me to cut way back on my running or I'll be looking at knee replacement surgery within a year. My father and sister both had terrible knee problems so I blamed genetics for cutting short my dreams of ever running another marathon. However, I found out that the race that I was planning to do (Los Angeles Marathon) had racewalking and wheelchair divisions--I chose racewalking. For those of you that aren't familiar with racewalking, it is a very technical sport so I took classes. Whoa, what an awakening, I had terrible walking form. It took me months of training but eventually I got it right. Oh, I did have some knee problems that were "fixed" with some custom orthodics but as my form improved I was able to ween myself off of them.

So--what does all this have to do with barefoot running? Hang in there.

Once it sunk in that I needed to learn how to walk--I started researching how to run and discovered, among other things--ChiRunning. About that time I was needing less and less help from my shoes for racewalking until I was using the most minimal racing flats. If these were the best walking shoes, could they also be the best running shoes? The answer, at least for me, was a resounding yes. The less cushioning, motion control, support and especially springy heel on the shoe, the better.

Of course the next step would be to take off the shoes. After a lifetime of never going beyond two steps out of the shower barefooted, I gave it a shot. It was like learning how to run all over again, only this time my feet demanded proper running form from me.

Like I said, I'm not a barefooted runner, but I'm finding that mixing in some barefoot runs every now and then helps reinforce good form. It also helps strengthen the ankles and foot muscles.

There are lots of reasons to try barefoot running and one not to--the fear of cutting open your soles. A little prudence helps a lot when running barefoot. The worse I suffered were some blisters the first time I ran on asphalt. Then again I had much worse blisters when breaking in new shoes. Oh yeah--and my knees don't need replacements.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Transportation of the Future?

I've been thinking that a perfect combination for commuting in these days of high gas prices would be a recumbent bicycle with an electric assist. Poking around the Internet I found this electrified Cruzbike posted on by a fellow going by the screen name of echo_anomie. Nicely done!

Anyway, just dreaming right now but if I do get into this I might take it a step at a time. Like maybe converting my old 26 inch street bicycle using a kit from We R Electrified.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

10k in 1-week

That's the total that I ran this week, but coming off an ankle injury--I'm pretty happy. So, assume the blogging position!

Last week I did a total of 1 kilometer the whole week and I made a promise to come back slowly. Doing 10 times the distance the following week might not seem prudent, but before the ankle injury I was doing 4k daily runs 4-times a week and an 18k long run. OK, that was too much but my goal is to eventually get back to doing at least a 5k daily workout like I was doing before starting this job in Jerusalem. Of course out here I'm running on hills at an altitude of about 820 meters (2,690 feet) while at home it was pretty much flat at nearly sea level and I was racewalking so it is going to be more of a challenge to build up my distance.

Here's how the week went:
Sunday    - No run but did strength training and wrapped ankle in hot towel for good measure

               HR      Pace          Cadence
Monday    -   156      6:31            83
Tuesday   -   150      6:31            83
Wednesday -   147      6:40            83
Thursday  -   152      6:40            83
Friday    -   159      6:49            82
Saturday  -   165      7:08 (avg.)     82 (5 kilometers in 35:54)

Some numbers might not match up exactly because the Polar SR800sd foot pod does vary from day to day. Sometimes it reads the course at exactly 1k and other days it is a little longer or shorter. I'm thinking about getting a GPS unit when I get back home, that might improve accuracy and it will help if I get into cycling.

I'm thinking quite a bit about what changes I'll do once I get home in about 9-weeks from now. With gas prices over $4 per gallon maybe cycling to work might not be as crazy as it once seemed. Besides, I'd do the daily workout and commute at the same time--think time management!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

From All Wrong to All Right

Once again I only did 1-kilometer the whole week, but last week I did things all wrong by going out too hard on an injured ankle and this week I was careful not to try anything until I was fully recovered--and even then I started very gently.

Last week I really wanted to get back into it and whip myself into shape for either the Jerusalem half-marathon or the 10k. In my head I was trying to convince myself that I could go 2k on Sunday, 3k on Monday and so on until I could hit an LSD run this weekend--right. Sunday I knew I was foolish, Monday I kept up with the weights, stretching and applying heat to the injury, Tuesday the pain miraculesly disappeared, Wednesday I suited up for a run but decided to do a little running in place before going out--ouch, I didn't go out. And that's how it went. Friday I did my usual 5k walk to get some food, I did a fast walk to the market and it felt pretty good. Saturday, today, was the day that I finally set out for my first run in a week. After an easy 7:19 min/km around the course I did my strength and stretching and wrapped up my ankle with a hot towel.

My strategy now is to ease back into running and not to suddenly increase my speed or distance. It might take more time, but hopefully I'll spend less time laid up because I over did it.

Once I get home, just a little over 2-months from now, I'm thinking about mixing things up a bit. Some racewalking, bicycling and I've been having this urge to learn the unicycle. Oh, and barefooted running? Yeah, on some nice cool wet Pacific coast beach sand.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shortest Long Run Ever


Well, it wasn't really a long run but I usually do a long workout on the weekend and since this is the weekend--

I'm still recovering from a sore right ankle. Yesterday I did my usual walk to the Mahane Yehuda, which is the Jerusalem Shuk (outdoor market), and although my ankle didn't hurt to the point of limping, it wasn't all that comfortable for the hilly 5 kilometer trek. However, I felt pretty good this morning so I thought about going out for a slow 1 kilometer run all morning and decided that today was the day.

Ouch. The run was fine, I didn't feel like I was going very fast but my time was 6:18, a full minute faster than I probably should have taken it. After I stopped running though, I felt the pain. Instead of packing ice on it I wrapped my ankle with a hot towel, something that I've been doing every day because instead of the usual R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) treatment I'm using M.E.A.T. (Movement, Exercise, Analgesics and Treatment). See my post, Will you have R.I.C.E. or M.E.A.T. with that Injury? I'm also taking papaya enzyme tablets because I can't find fresh papayas or pineapples these days.

Is my therapy working? Well, it has been 2-weeks since the 18 kilometer run that probably over stressed my ankle and 12-days since my last run, where I probably did the most damage because I didn't allow enough time for recovery from the long day. Shortly after today's run and a quick hot towel treatment I was feeling pretty good. This is a pretty short recovery compared to a website, which will remain nameless, which is promoting a book by someone who "cured" his sprained ankle in "only" 5-months--his prior sprain took 18-months to heal! Of course I may just have an overuse injury, but it has all the symptoms of a sprain.

Will I go out tomorrow and start increasing the distance? Maybe, I'll wait until tomorrow to decide.

Will I do the Jerusalem half-marathon? Probably not at this point, though I did get the half-marathon map, got in the car, with a newly repaired GPS, and tried to check out the course. I got lost--I couldn't even find the start! What was no surprise was that this is a very hilly course.

Besides running and getting lost I also did some research. Why did I injure myself in the first place? Probably because of that rash I got between my inner thighs. Once it started hurting I most likely changed my gait to relieve some of the rubbing. Both ankles hurt after the long run but I probably stressed the right side a bit more. The masseuse at En Gedi noticed that my left shoulder was tighter than my right side and that makes sense that it would affect my right ankle. I red another interesting theory about injuries in Michael Yessis, Ph.D, book - "Explosive Running." Dr. Yessis states that running improves cardio but doesn't really do much for strength. Check out Dr. Yessis website for more. Strength exercises specialized for running will keep injuries down and reduces the amount of running time needed to get fit. I thought back (way back) to the days when I did only weights and no running--when I did run I could feel my heart was working very hard but my legs wouldn't get tired. These days it seems that my legs can't keep up with my heart and lungs. Pretty much every post I made is either a cardio workout or recovering from an injury. I think I had it right for a while last year when I was alternating strength training on day and a run/racewalk the next. Gee, I sure do miss my home gym! Only two and a half months before I'm home.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Too Much, Too Soon

Last week's 18 kilometer long run left me with more than just a rash on my inner thighs. I injured my right ankle. Both ankles hurt a bit the day after the long run, nothing unusual about that so I did a 2K run Sunday morning at a 7:30 pace just to keep myself "loose". Monday morning my right ankle hurt even more but I figured that a quick 1K wouldn't do any harm. I only managed a 7:08 pace and it did do me some harm.

I'm now in injury recovery mode--no running or long walks until the swelling and pain goes away.

On Friday I did my usual walk to the market, about 5K, and even though it wasn't terrible, it didn't feel good either.

Saturday I went to the Ein Gedi Spa for a massage and had the masseuse concentrate on my lower legs. She noticed the swelling and also noticed that the upper left part of my back was much tighter than my right side. Did this have anything to do with it? Maybe, it is all connected after all. The massage felt great and I had a good conversation with the masseuse, it turned out we both did the 10K race a few weeks ago at the Dead Sea Half-Marathon, though she walked it.

What's next? It depends how quickly I heal. I've been doing some strength training exercises, especially on the ankles, but I have a feeling that this is going to take a while--at least another week, maybe more.

I'm not going to sign up for the Jerusalem Half-Marathon until I feel fully recovered. Even then, I've got to decide if I'm doing the 21.1K or the 10K distance. Of course I had my hopes set on the longest distance.

In the meantime I've been doing some reading and consoling myself that I'm running for health, not to be competitive. If I can get my cholesterol level down so I won't have to take medication, that's worth more than any half or full marathon to me.

The other part of getting my cholesterol level down is being careful with what I eat. I've been doing a Google search before buying or consuming any food item. Of course I also came across some interesting reading materials about diet. One book that I downloaded and couldn't put down until I finished it was "Improving on Pritikin--You Can Do Better" by Ross Horne (click on the title to download it). Of course I had to find out more about this rather obscure author and a little Googling turned up that his last book was titled "Cancer Proof Your Body" published in 1996 and that he died of prostate cancer in 2005, he was somewhere between 79 and 82 years old--reports varied.

In any case, I learned to take claims on various diets with a grain of salt--or maybe take that without salt!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

First Long Run in a Long--Long Time

I headed out to the Tel Aviv boardwalk this morning to do a long run. I was thinking about starting in Jaffa and going 10K North then heading back to complete a 20K run, but I ran out of boardwalk. In addition it was very humid, it started raining when I headed out but eventually cleared up. I ended up settling for 18 kilometers in 2 hours 30 minutes--ugh! I walked a hilly 21.1 kilometers in that time but this was the longest I have ever run without stopping or even taken a walking break.

I made a couple of mistakes, I went too slow and forgot about putting something on my inner thighs to prevent chaffing.

My daily runs have been averaging about 7 to 7:30 minutes per kilometer on a hilly course. The 10K at the Dead Sea averaged 7 minutes per kilometer so for a LSD (long slow distance) run I've been told to add 30 seconds per mile to the pace. Converted to kilometers that would be no slower than a 7:45 pace but my average on this run was an agonizingly slow 8:20 per kilometer, or 13:24 minutes per mile. A pace that lethargic makes for extra tired legs--but on the plus side I did get out and run.

Here's a chart of today's progress.

To add to the disappointment, I've got chaffed inner thighs. I've had this before and should have known better. Normally I'd apply some Body Glide before heading out, but where can I get that in Jerusalem? Maybe good old Vaseline petroleum jelly will do the trick, though it wears off quickly. A quick search on the Internet made for some entertaining reading. I copied these tips from Kevin Sayers' Ultra Running Resource Web Site.

Lycra Buns I earned the nickname "Lycra buns" as a result of the large number of brightly-colored short tights I ran in. With my "thunder thighs" I got chafing the first mile I ever ran. Someone suggested the tights, and I never looked back. Stay away from the biker shorts. They have two problems -- they usually have padded seats which work fine on a bike seat, but are hell for running, and they are cut to conform to the body in a crouch on a seat, not standing up for running.My best source was the "workout" short section in our local Target. Once I got over feeling just a little silly in them, I started heading for the women's section where the better pattern selection was.If you feel silly wearing them, you can always wear regular running shorts over them. I like the feeling of freedom, and occasionally a whistle...I've got 'em short and long, thick and thin, and wouldn't run in anything else.Try 'em, you'll like 'em.

Hawk ...I will be switching back to compression (biker) shorts. and using my FAVORITE thing, Bag Balm. PLEASE use bag balm... I discovered it in my cycling days. it is found in feed stores or hardware stores, and is designed for cows udders when they get chafed from the milking machines. it stays on WAY longer than Vaseline, and it contains some healing stuff as well. it comes in a square green can, and I guess it's a little trendy now cause they make it in a small human size can too, which costs considerably more.But it's just the most wonderful thing for things that chafe. I mean, if it can help a sore teat on a milker, then it is good for me!

Bonnie Busch I saw liberal use of Body-Glide at the 100k USA championships this weekend as well as good old Vaseline. Several years ago Dr. Andy Lovey published his own mixture for chafing, that I prefer.It was published in Ultrarunner magazine many years ago, probably early 90s. Dr. Lovy is an ultrarunner, most recent public siting was in Across the Years 24-48 Hour run, DEC97. I received this information as a friendly gesture, without warranty, without guarantees, without warnings, without clinic tests, without FDA approval, without medical evidence, without anything (get the picture!), which is how I pass it along to you. What else can I say to keep me out of legal trouble? I am not responsible, use your own judgment, and never perform your trial in your one big race this year.Most items can be easily found at a drug store, generally in the same shelving area. I have seen this mixture used for chafing and for blisters. (I have never seen anybody eat it, yet.)Here goes:
Mix A&D ointment, Destin ointment, and Vaseline in equal parts. Add vitamin E cream and aloe vera cream.Been awhile, but I recall if I used 1 cup of A&D, 1 cup of Destin, and 1 cup of Vaseline, then I used « cup to 1/4 cup of vitamin E and « cup to 1/4 cup of aloe vera cream, enough to make it smooth and nice smelling. I did not use my kitchen utensils to measure this so measurements were not exact. I believe the creams made it smoother, more consistent and aided healing. (Mixture should be stiff, yet applicable.) Obviously a single batch can last quite awhile if ingredients are purchased in sizable quantities. Purchasing the ingredients in small, resoluble jars is a good move - got to have some place to put this stuff after you have mixed it, and do modify the label so as not confuse anybody. I have stored mine in the refrigerator for years.The last batch I mixed up was years ago now. It not only protects skin from chafing but can help heal the skin and also is helpful with blister prevention. Low cost and effective.