Boring Marathon

Boring Marathon Oregon Barefoot
Barefoot runner Boring Oregon Marathon

It was a strenuous route and it was not designed for barefoot runners–photo shows the GOOD GROUND. In fact, I was the only one crazy enough to tackle the rugged roads in my 4mm Xero Shoes–known to everyone else as “flip flops.” My heart leapt when the first notes of the Star Spangled Banner drifted out. It was sung high school sophomore girl with braces. As soon as the song ended, the horn blasted. We started off at the Barlow High School Track, then ran on the scabrous, mountainous roads for about six miles until we reached Boring Oregon. Once we got to Boring, we ran for 7 or so miles on the lovely and thankfully mostly level and smoothly paved Spring Water Trail. We had to cross to two busy streets, luckily the volunteers were there pressing the buttons to get us safely across. Luckily, I only got caught at one light. And I wasn’t there very long.

The aid stations were great and the volunteers were all in top form handing out water or electrolytes and saying, “Looking good. Keep it up! You’ve got this!” I appreciated the encouragement immensely, especially  when facing the last set of grueling hills at mile 22. Despite the painful twitches and spasms firing through my quads and calves and sheer exhaustion, I carried on and achieved my goal of sub four hour marathon. I managed to come in 3rd for my age division, 6th for the men’s division, and 8th overall.

I will be back next year for sure (They’re adding a 50K ultra)!!!!

Huckleberry Half Marathon Barefoot

Barefoot Runner with Bigfoot Huckleberry Half Marathon Welches Oregon
Barefoot Runner with Bigfoot Huckleberry Half Marathon Welches Oregon

This morning (August 8th) I think I became the first person to run Huckleberry Half marathon in Welches Oregon with 4mm sandals. Whether I was the first person to run the event barefoot or not, I received an awesome Wooden Bigfoot Medal–it’s dangling around my neck in the photo and had a lot of fun.

What a great event! No one said anything about sandals until we hit the streets. Thankfully, a majority of the comments were positive.

Things people said to me as ran. “You’re a beast” (in a good way). “That guy’s wearing flip-flops.” “All the crazies are passing us!” (To which I replied, the key phrase is “PASSING!”) “Let’s catch the guy in flip-flips.” (His friend’s reply, “I’m trying, but I can’t.” And neither of them did. I dropped them on one of the many hills.)

Although scampering across the streets in barefoot sandals made me a celebrity, it also took its toll on my feet. After three miles, I discovered why no one else wore minimalist footwear: the Huckleberry Half is NOT a barefoot friendly route! The streets are  long slabs of jagged, gritty gravel.  The roads climb slowly then level for a short distance then fall again, then climb again, then climb some more, the result is a route that never takes its fangs from your legs. My quads and calves are still sizzling from the lactic acid and my tender feet and toes are battered from the ragged asphalt. It didn’t help that I hammered  my left heel on a rock the first mile. The 13.1 miles were a struggle. The run was much more challenging than I expected and my time was much slower than I anticipated. But it was well worth it.

The volunteers and other runners were fantastic. I‘ll be back next year, even it’s just for the novelty of having teenage cheerleaders swish their pom poms in the air as I cross the finish line. BTW, I ran it in 1 hour 40 minutes 56 seconds.

Boring Barefoot Marathon Training Day 8

I didn’t want to get out of bed at five thirty this morning. I was too comfortable. Besides my legs were a little sore and I didn’t sleep well. It is by will alone I set my mind in motion…Once I got my ass out from under the sheets,  I strapped my on running sandals, but  the damned cord snapped. If you don’t own running sandals, then you don’t how much it motherfuckingsucks to retie them. It’s a fine art to get the delicate tension just right, especially when you’re using the “permanent knot” method. After fidgeting, cussing, and igniting the knot with a match*, I realized that had another impediment to overcome: my GPS needed to be reprogrammed. I needed to update my intervals. Thankfully, the update went smoothly.  Even so, I was frustrated because I was on a tight schedule. I need to get my runs before work. If I don’t run before work, the run hangs over my head like a well fed elephant. It also means that I’ll be stuck running in the heat or if it’s too hot, then waiting until eight or nine, which means going to bed at ten or eleven, skipping meditation and reading.

Fortunately, I was able to get out of door at a reasonable time. I had to force myself to break into a jog: It is by will alone I set my mind in motion… Once I cleared a few streets with my freshly tied sandals and my GPS programmed, I had a good run:

After a two mile warm-up, I ran ten sets of intervals: 2 minute fast (80-90% effort) with 1 minute recovery.  All told, I ran over six miles. Some of the intervals were unintentionally uphill. I didn’t plan them that way, it’s just the path of my regular running route. I don’t get much recovery uphill, but it tones the fuck out of my heart without staining my lips–for lip staining, I need the juice of sapho.

It is the day of the Mentat. This post it just to let you know that I’m still training. Check back tomorrow, perhaps there will be some of Paul-Muad’Dib’s wisdom.

 

* Setting fire to the knot shrinks it, thereby saving your foot from excessive agony.

My Blog My Content

Valen Longfeather Barefoot RunnerAs many readers know, the content of my blog is anything but focused. So I was shocked when someone offered to buy my Website.

I immediately thought about what I have written over the year.  Rifling through the archives, I found posts about ghost encounters, an interview with a fictional reptilian from Star Trek, a remarkably handsome long haired fellow ranting about Vibram Five Fingers on a YouTube Video, some silly jokes, a few Podcasts with too many sound effects, and even crappy poetry.

I have, of course, slanted all my content and media for this blog toward barefoot running and what it means to me. But I must admit that some of my “popular” content was written with keywords and search engines in mind. I used the keywords as a writing prompt–similar to the way I write sonnets, I start with the end rhymes, then write the lines. I never published anything that I could not spin into a worthwhile post. As you can tell, I speak my mind and I do my best to be transparent and honest about my affiliates–even going so far as write “shameless affiliate plug” next to affiliate links.

The offer to buy my Website forced me examine the blog. Looking at it, I realize that impressions and affiliate income isn’t my main goal. I want to express myself and I don’t want to box myself into writing posts from a list of keywords. I HATE blogs like that and I HATE how dirty SEO has rendered Google and other search engines useless.

It’s time to get uncomfortable; it’s time for a change. I started it off with an ultra conservative haircut. And I’m continuing it with this blog.

The disquieting truth of life is that everything is transient. People, pets, prizes,and possessions sparkle bright in the darkness for a bit then fade away. There’s something that seems inherently sad about that. Buddha said that the pain of impermanence/transience arises from attachment. We cling to the world, our lives, our relationships, our families, our possessions, and accomplishments. We expect them to remain present, predictable, and permanent. They aren’t. When the earth rumbles and land beneath our feet sinks, we scream and claw at crumbling dirt instead of floating into the Great Abyss.
It’s odd that I find myself compelled to shake my personal universe, to write about my personal life, “to explore strange new worlds, to seek new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no barefootedly written split infinitive has gone before.”

Since I don’t always wear shoes, barefeet will stomp through my posts. But on the whole, the writing for my blog will not be as instructional or as heavily “barefoot runner”; instead, it will shift to the “life” part of “barefoot runner’s life”. I will, from time to time, write how to posts or offer tips about running without shoes as learn them. And I will also preserve the content  and media that I have already produced. I hope you continue read. I hope you comment, and I hope you become a new friend not only in cyberspace, but also in real life.

May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

–Valen

Enhanced by Zemanta

3 Easy Barefoot Running Programs.

Discourse-into-the-night
Image via Wikipedia

As I have mentioned many times, barefoot running has to be eased into. In fact, many responsible, barefoot shoe makers, such as SoftStar, are putting caveats on their products. You can, however, discuss deep philosophical topics without shoes or special training like these scholars of old.

In the “how to run barefoot” section of my site, I include a video that has step by step instructions about how to start running barefoot. But some people prefer reading and want to have a schedule. So, here are three resources to help first timers make the transition to barefoot running:

  1. The utter beginner program. For people who haven’t run a while and want to start out in their barefeet.
  2. The shod to shodless runner. For people who run in bouncy shoes, but want to become hippie barefoot runners.
  3. The “common sense” approach. This is for people who want advice from a Harvard man. Yes, it’s Lieberman.  Lieberman is a luminary  in the barefoot running community. His paper about the evolutionary roots of running explains much about the our biological need for cardio vasular exercise: “endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo, originating about 2 million years ago, and may have been  instrumental in the evolution of the human body form.”
Enhanced by Zemanta

DIY Running Sandals / Authentic Barefoot Shoes

Elizabeth and huarache running sandals on Moun...
Image by MiguelVieira via Flickr

Have you ever wanted to make your own running shoes? Steven makes it easy with his step by step Tarahumara Running Sandal Kits. He shows you everything you need to know to build a custom running sandal.

If you’re not into DIY, Invisible Shoes will also cut and construct a custom shoe for you. You just trace your foot and mail them the template.

If you’re going to run in a barefoot shoe, but don’t want to spend too much money for a running sandal, I highly recommend Invisible Shoes.

BTW, you can use Steven’s  excellent instructional videos to make your own Tarahumara running sandals out of other materials. I built some out of cardboard, oven mitts, and an old doormat. I use the oven-mit sandals for treadmill running. (The cardboard sandals were a joke.)

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Ways Barefoot Running Beats Bicycling

Cyclist Léon Georget in 1909.
Image via Wikipedia

I am recovering from a strained soleus. No I did NOT strain running barefoot. I strained it because I thought I was strengthening my Achilles. I did eccentric heel drops, an effective Achilles strengthener and treatment for sore Achilles, the heels drops overloaded my sore soleus, I kept doing them, turning a sore muscle into a full blown strain. That’s where the crappy bike riding comes in. Whilst riding, I realized why I am a barefoot runner and not a bicyclist. (I would just ride my unicycle, but the unicycle is different animal from the bike. It is much better. Unlike a two wheeled bike, the unicycle  swings all of your leg and core into action. I know that just mounting it would put pressure on my tender soleus.)

  1. Bicycles boil your but. Even the soft seats are a pain after a while. Having the constant pressure of the hard saddle leads to to a super sore, bruised butt.
  2. Bicycles cost big bucks. They’re not exactly money pits and they do beat rising gas pricing. But they are expensive. And do require maintenance from time to time.
  3. Ugly Clothes. You have to wear spandex shorts, a tight shirt, and a helmet, none of which are very comfortable or fashionable.
  4. Flat tires and maintenance. Changing tires on the side of the road is a hassle, even if you have the right tools.
  5. Just a quad workout. Yes, bikes do work your arms too, but the major muscle is the quad. My quads are fine, I hate they way they look when I bike a like. My leg feels out of balance. Barefoot running gives you sexy balanced legs and feet.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Are You a Gladiator or a Ninja?

In the Ludus of barefoot running two rivals emerge, the gladiator with his stylish sandals and the ninja with her sleek Vibram Five Fingers (or the host of similar shoes such as ZEM). Is one better than the other? Should they drench in the sands in blood to appease the Barefoot Running Gods?

A few weeks ago, I would have said that the Gladiator should fight the Ninja, outright. But blood seldom settles disputes well. So, I decided to take a less violent approach and considered the differences between Sandal Runners versus Five Finger Runners.

You’re a Gladiator Sandal Runner if you:

  • Like to tie your “shoes” differently every once in a while. Sandals allow for a host of different tying methods.
  • Like to have your feet in the open air. Much less fabric means better exposure to air.
  • Like or don’t mind people looking at you with confused or surprised expressions. There’s no doubt that running in sandals will draw a little attention to you.

You’re a Ninja Five Finger Runner if you:

  • Like to have a firm wrap and minor support around your foot as you run. Some people like the snug fit of Vibram Five fingers. One nice thing about the full foot wrap of Five Fingers is the way it prevents pebbles from getting wedged between the sole of your foot and the sole of the shoe.
  • Like to stomp over rough gravel, rocks, and other abrasive, hard objects with little fear of injury. The extra thick sole of Five Fingers allows for maximum protection when traveling over rough terrain.
  • Like to look more like a “regular” runner than a crazy barefoot runner. Vibrams look a bit more like traditional running shoes and tend to draw less attention than sandals.

When it comes down to it, it’s just a choice. Some people, like my lovely wife, are ninjas; others like her crazy husband are gladiators. It’s a matter of personal preference. Personally, I think sandals are much better than five fingers, but I already explained that in a video and in another post.