running

Achilles Heel

You see, the funny thing about that title is that maybe you were expecting an interesting retrospective on some weakness I have, or something I struggle with—but no, this is literally about issues with my achilles. Both of them actually. A new chapter on injuries from minimalist running.

I had been cruising along pretty good there for a minute—no pain beyond the usual wear-and-tear of running for months—but after being sick in May and taking almost two weeks off from running, I came back to it, taking it easy, and both my achilles had sharp pains in them. I had experienced this before, on and off, but I was able to just slow things down a little for the first mile and the pain would fade. Sure, the next day my achilles would be sore and stiff, but I wasn’t too concerned. Heading out mid-May was different. I handled the pain for each run, but the next day I was significantly more uncomfortable. And it didn’t fade even with time off.

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running

Faster Not Further: Minimalist Running Update

It seems I start every post about running with some idea that I’m “new to” or “continuing towards becoming” a minimalist runner. Today it occurs to me that I’ve been running sans conventional shoes for almost a year now, so I think I can just call myself a minimalist runner. I have arrived. And here’s where I’m at:

I’ve logged 213 mi in my Vibram Spyridon LS [toe] shoes, and I still love them. They’ve held up really well but are getting worn on the inside to the point where I’ve gotten a few hot spots on my last couple runs, but I’m seeing if I can push them further. Since they aren’t conventional shoes, it’s hard to know when to replace them (though this may be an indicator).

I continue to be more inspired by speed, than distance. I’m impressed by my friends that run 100 mi/mo, but I don’t think that’s for me. I like being fast. And in that endeavor, I’m doing pretty good. I’m particularly proud of my run last week: 4 mi, 7’35″/mi:

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running

Time to Set a New Goal

It’s time for my monthly running update. By now, minimalist running for me is pretty much old news. 2013 was all about discovery and transition. Done. In my last running post, I discussed how I’d like to be faster in 2014 and I set a goal of averaging 7’45″/mi over 4+mi. Well, one month into the new year with 8 runs down, I broke that goal today: 7’43″/mi over 4.31 mi.

Now I just need to maintain that. I have to say, I feel it. As I’ve pushed my speed over the last few runs, my left hamstring—which I tore 5 or 6 yeas ago doing wind sprints—has been acting up. My strategy of resting at least two days between runs has pretty much taken care of that, but I’ll need to keep an eye on it. I’ve also noticed some stiffness and a few sore spots in my lower calves and achilles, but those also dissipate after a couple days’ rest and I’m able to get back out and run.

My goal has never been distance. Sure, getting at least 4 miles in each time is nice, and I might push for 5 this year, but ultimately I like speed. I’m going to keep pushing for consistency and speed and just see where I end up by December.

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running

Carrying “Toe Shoe” Momentum Into 2014

I took my first minimalist run of 2014 today. The air’s been so shitty here in Fresno—we get the smog from LA and The Bay, and since this is a valley, it just hangs here—so it’s been literally too nasty to go outside. But today it cleared and I carried on (4.3 mi, 8’06″/mi).

2013 was all about transitioning from my Nike+ Free shoes to the Vibram 5-fingers (a.k.a. minimalist running). A year ago, my knee hurt so bad that I couldn’t run at all, and walking was painful. So I began the transition to losing the shoes and learning some more natural (and hopefully less painful) running mechanics. To say it was a rough road is a bit of an understatement. You can read all about it, but basically I had small injuries and muscle pulls in my calves and achilles for the first half of the year, up until July, where I finally started to gain some traction.

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running

Minimalist Running Update: When Will I Run Free Like a Child?

minimalist_run_freeI started my transition to minimalist running (sans traditional shoes) back in April and wrestled with injuries and setbacks until July. Since July I’ve been able to stay consistent (and injury free!), gradually increasing my mileage from 0.25mi up to where I’m at now: ~4mi with no pain. Well, no pain until I decided to get frisky on Thanksgiving and run 5.5mi, my farthest distance by a lot.

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running

Almost Back: Persevering With Minimalist Running

10_6_13It’s been almost two months since my last update on transitioning to minimalist running and I’m still at it. In fact, after hitting a sort of stride in July, I’ve basically been free of injury, increased my number of runs per month, my mileage, and have actually improved my average time per mile. I’m even faster now, on average, than I was running with “normal” shoes. As with most things though, the numbers can be a little deceiving.

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running

20 Minimalist Runs in and Gaining Traction

20_minimalistLast week I completed my 20th run without conventional shoes. I’ve been making the transition to minimalist running and to say it hasn’t been easy is a little bit of an understatement. I might go as far as to say that my moral fiber has been put to the test. I started the journey on April 23 using Vibram five-fingers and pretty much up until July, I was plagued with minor injuries and much discomfort. The discomfort I can handle—I knew there would be sore feet, calves, achilles, etc.—but my left calf muscle was swear-out-loud painful on and off through May and June, which kept me from making real progress.

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Minimalist Run #12: A Small Breakthrough

minimal_run_12If there’s one thing I’ve truly learned with this transition to minimal running, it’s patience. Over the course of 2.5 months I’ve had (only) 12 runs with a few long breaks for injury. Everyone said to take it slow and I thought I was…but my body has told me otherwise.

Running in these Vibram five-fingers, I’ve been pushed to really think about and digest each step and stride on my runs. I’ve felt muscles and other parts (tendons? ligaments?) that I’ve never felt before. My feet, achilles, and lower calf are sore and tired. And I feel great.

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running

Minimalist Run 4: A Bump in the Road

minimalist_run_4So after my third run, upping my distance a quarter mile, I was feeling pretty good. Took the weekend off and came back on Monday ready to do it again. My body had a different idea. Right off the bat part of my left calf was uncomfortable but I pushed on thinking it would go away. Right after the half-mile mark, it locked up and hurt pretty bad. It didn’t quite feel like a cramp; felt more painful. At least there was more pain than any cramp I’d had in a while.

I limped home pretty frustrated. Everyone saying “take it slow” was echoing in my head and I was pretty frustrated. How much slower can you get than .5 mi every 2-3 days?! Guess my answer was in the pain shooting through my left calf.

I stretched a bunch, took some Advil, and the next day it was better. Still some pain, but at least I could walk without a limp. Did my cross-training workout today with only a little discomfort and think I may give it another go tomorrow. Taking it slow is taking on a whole other meaning for me with this minimalist running.

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running

Minimalist Run: 3

minimalist_run_3Got out again today after a good long rest since I was a bit more stiff/sore after run numero dos. Upped the distance a bit to .77 miles and increased speed to just under 7:59/mi. Felt good all-around but at 3/4 mi I definitely felt I should stop. No pain per se, but could feel a limit approaching.

This is a pretty tough exercise for me trying to slowly ramp up miles and curb my urge to be competitive. I have to say it’s been kind of therapeutic to slow down, be patient, and focus on how my body feels—how each muscle and tendon feels—and actually just try and run because I enjoy it. And I’ve realized being back out there, even at just .77 mi, I really have missed it.

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