Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Enough time has gone by for me to formulate an opinion on the barefoot running craze that seems to be taking over. Every day, I am seeing more and more Internet articles on the phenomenon, as well as facebook entries, since Vibrams is my "friend" on facebook. More and more events are popping up as well.

As a reminder, when I first started this type of training, it was truly barefoot, while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. The beach there offered the best possible chance to start this, but for me it didn't go quite as well as I would have liked initially. I pulled something on the top of one foot that led to some pain and discomfort running for a few weeks, to the point where I was afraid at first I had a stress fracture. But fortunately, that wasn't it.

My feet were decidedly weak in that I have been running with orthotics or custom made inserts for most of my running years of 22 years now, as well as shoes designed to correct anything that seemed to be a problem for me. Initially, I started out with just the basic running shoe, no frills, no arch support, no motion control, no stability, nothing. I pretty much didn't have any problems other than a stress fracture from running too much in the beginning, and that led to seeing an orthopedist who recommended orthotics for the first time.

Then and now, orthotics were horribly expensive, and at that time while I did buy orthotics, it was a huge stretch of my budget to do so. And the type recommended for me at that time were made out of a cork-like material. I assumed they would last forever, so was terribly surprised and disappointed when after only 6 months they no longer gave me the cushioning or responsiveness I needed or was expecting, and found out later that 6 months truly was the life of that type of orthotic. The end result with wearing those longer than they were designed to accommodate was severe hamstring strains. So while one injury healed, another formed.

Because I could not afford another pair of orthotics any time soon, I sought to correct my supposed biomechanical deficiencies with shoes designed to correct overpronation, which I was told I had, which I didn't. As you can imagine, that led to other aches and pains cropping up. Everything was blamed on just running itself, and while that was likely part of the whole injury equation, it wasn't the entire cause. Needless to say, I spent years trying to figure out what kind of shoe I needed, eventually settling on Brooks Adrenaline, along with custom made inserts. I thought I had the problems solved, but basically my body/feet just adapted to the shoes and inserts.

Anyway, fast forward to now and the attempt to run barefoot. While it didn't entirely work with me to go completely barefoot then, I did end up buying the Nike Free 5.0 shoes. These are the Nike brand of barefoot running type shoe.

So here's my take on these: I love them. Going back and forth with these and my old favorites, these have become the clear winner in shoe of choice. The uppers are as soft as a slipper, and wearing them they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. The soles have flex grooves from toe to heel, so even with some slight overpronation problem, the shoe allows natural movement without restriction. I still have some instability issues in my ankles, but I'm positive that comes from babying my feet for so many years. All the info suggests with time the bones and ligaments will adjust to this type of running.

After years and years of searching, I thought I had found my perfect shoe, which until now I had. But clearly this barefoot concept has benefited me more than hurt me, and its going to be really difficult going back to my old shoes, if I ever do. Which leads me to say:

For sale. New, never taken out of the box, Brooks Adrenaline shoes, size 10.5.

Monday, May 24, 2010


That feeling of being unfocused, unmotivated. Who knew it would only take the click of the "submit" button to get me out of my funk? Part of it was having the right event come along, which it did, in the form of an email from a fellow triathlete turned race director.
Its the Double Time triathlon. A sprint tri with an added twist of doing it twice. Once you finish the run, you hop in the water and start all over again.
I did one of these many years ago, similar distances, so its not as hard as it sounds. Other than once you get back in the water you don't want to get out again. But it is a new event, being capped at 250 people, and so I thought why not?
Already, my workouts have taken on the feeling of training. Now the workouts are for a purpose other than fitness.
Another purpose to my workouts is to put some quality into them, instead of just going through the motions as a means to an end. I'm quite capable of running, biking, or swimming endlessly, but the purpose of those types of workouts was to not blow up. Now I am pushing myself harder to see how far I can get before I blow up and then planning on working from that.
And I've complained forever about not being faster or being able to get faster on the bike. Yesterday I did two things different. First, we raised my bike seat just slightly, maybe a 1/4 inch raise. I've been bothered from aching knees since late last season, and then all through my race last year. I figured it was an accumulation of all the biking workouts I had done for months, but it continued to plague me this season as well, even after a long break from road biking. Since it didn't happen on my spin bike, only on my road bike, I knew something had to be changed there. What I noticed mainly was I just felt like I was sitting too low and using my quads for pedaling instead of the entire leg. Who knew just that small increase would make such a difference!
Second, once I could see my pace better than the last probably 20 bike rides I have been on, without much more effort, I started pushing the pace somewhat. This is huge for me, as what is a hard pace for me is just a cruising pace for most others. Still, I found myself overall for the 24.2 mile bike ride with an increased speed of .7 mph faster. Not huge but for me it was a breakthrough. I am hoping this continues, and the hard effort was not impossible. And this was even without bike shoes that I forgot!
So maybe all these factors are encouraging to me to get out of my comfort zone and see if I can bring back some of the thrill that goes along with a race, something I have felt severely lacking for a long, long time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



I am having a very hard time this year getting focused on what races I want to do this year because I’m thinking a little part of me wants to do none. And that for me is a first in over 20 years. For the first time since I started running back in 1988, I do not have a full year agenda for running or triathlons.

Part of it is, I am sure, all the mandatory training I did last year. And while some of the benefits of that should have carried over to the new year, the motivational part did not. Its not that I’m not motivated to stay in shape or work out. Its just that I do not have a goal race or races I am working towards. I’ve reached all my athletic goals except qualifying for Boston, but I’m not sure that will ever happen. I’m okay with that mostly, but a small part of me feels guilty too, like I should be using all that newly acquired iron power to excel over last year.

But I’ve also reached a different stage in my life, to a point where I want to enjoy each day and not feel pressured to train just because I hastily signed up for a race that I probably wanted to do but wished I didn’t have to specifically train for.

Its truly hard to break old habits, especially ones that have been over 20 years in the making, so I still work out most days—now because I want to. I enjoy the brief encounters on Facebook also, meaning I can still keep up with everyone’s accomplishments on a regular basis but am not necessarily compelled to blog about my daily routine.

Last week, on vacation in Florida, I couldn’t help realize how much I really enjoyed being on vacation, being in the great weather and sunshine, having a laid back routine with no set agenda until getting up for the day. And I certainly couldn’t help enjoy being away from work that for the past few months has offered me absolutely no stimulation. Due to a lot of changes around here, my daily work routine consists of either scrambling for work to keep busy or waiting for someone to give me something to do. There is no longer that daily list of tasks to be performed or ongoing projects to look forward to, so the days drag into endless tedium. And that certainly does nothing for my mood during the work day and leaves me with little to no motivation toward the job, as well as the constant fear of not having a job, like so many others recently. These days, its like being between a rock and a hard place when you don’t like your job, because on the one hand you can’t just quit because here in Michigan especially there is little to nothing out there, and if there is its not going to pay what I make now, and wanting to try something new but being fearful because of being low person on the totem pole.

Instead of getting up at 5 am to work out because of the need to fit everything into a day, my workout times have occurred a lot of times during lunch hour because it’s a way to shorten the work day, or after work with Don, who is now running regularly again and I know its me who keeps him motivated there, so I hate to not organize my day for noon or after work runs.

So I continue to mull over what the rest of my year will be regarding racing. Right now, since my one unreached goal is Boston, I really feel I need to give myself this year to work on my running more and see where I am at the end of the summer or maybe mid September and stop torturing myself looking at races I am not that inclined to do. Its like window shopping though, because I enjoy looking at different races, venues, courses, etc. and dreaming of being at that particular race but then not registering for anything.

Part of me here too is not being ready to quite push myself to the level I want to be at. Because I know I’m not there yet and don’t want to be totally disappointed that I’m not. But another part of me wants to get out there and just do something to see how I do. Ambiguous, I know, but that’s how I’m feeling right now.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010


I haven’t had much to say lately, so have been lax in updating my blog. Unlike last year, when I was spending countless hours training and when I had lots of time to think of things to say, this year my training has taken a new focus, at least for a while. Shorter, more intense workouts, usually done after work, and usually with someone or at least doing the same workouts on the track.

I do like track running, and I do like running faster. I finally gave up all hope of ever seeing a decent 5k time last year training long slow distance all the time, but now have been actively working on making a comeback, so to speak. Its been a struggle, but the legs are starting to come around. Having Don to run with again has helped tremendously.

Also, working out in the evenings or lunch hours makes a huge difference in my “free” time away from the job. Not having to get up at 5 am or earlier most days, I am enjoying the luxury of sleeping in—until at least 6:30 some days!—eating breakfast at home, and not having to pack a steamer trunk of food and workout clothes every day and haul that to work with me in the wee hours of the morning.

Weekends here haven’t been conducive to many outside bike rides either, with rainy and windy weekends nearly every week, making me glad once again of not needing to get those long bike rides in. Instead, we have invested in spin bikes, so that has also been an alternate way to work out, in the evening, at home, again eliminating the need to get up at o’dark thirty for those morning spin workouts. There’s no place like home.

I have also been experimenting with cooking and different ways to eat, often spending hours scouring recipes, reading info about, specifically, the wonders of coconut oil, and many recipes relating to its use. It was something I needed to acquire a taste for, and now use it in practically everything I eat, as well as using it on my skin. In the process of learning about coconut products, I am experimenting with gluten free cooking as well. Not that I have known problem with gluten, but going without it hasn’t hurt me at all either.

On the job front, as with many employers, cutbacks and job restructuring has found its way into my life, and the work I was doing in past years has literally either dried up or shifted elsewhere, leaving me in a constant state of boredom and/or scrambling for work, with not much prospect of a change any time soon, if ever. This is a law firm. We will always have work. But the way we are handling it now has totally changed, due mostly to economic conditions of our clients. Looking elsewhere is a hard decision even if there was an abundance of choices, because of the years spent on the job here and the benefits either earned or acquired. That in and of itself makes it hard to go elsewhere at this stage in my life. But I am always open to reinventing myself if necessary.

And then there has been the almost constant problem with my laptop computer, with one problem or another needing to be fixed in order to just use it. I have just recently gotten that fixed again, but in the process nearly everything I had stored was wiped out, so I need to start rebuilding all those favorites I have acquired in the last three years. Windows Vista? Don’t go there.

What races I will do this year and in the future still have not formulated in my mind or found their way on paper. Not only can I not decide what I want to do, I seem to be questioning the need to do some things based on cost and travel expenses involved in that process. I am not so quick to click the “submit” button without taking into account the cost of the race, the need for travel, and how much all that will cost, making me far more selective than any time in my life. I used to run a race every other weekend and not bat an eye at the cost, even in my poorest days, because I had such a need to compete and that was truly my only outlet or entertainment for many years. Now I am also weighing the time needed for training against the rest of my life, so that’s also a factor in making me think twice about the next event.
Then there's Facebook, which has allowed me, thankfully, to catch up on everyone quickly without the need to wait for the old dinosaur PC to awaken from its coma so I can read blogs--not that I don't like reading, just haven't been able to spend much time doing that and have lost all the links on my laptop.

And family life has always been busy and hectic so no need to recap on that. The fact that I can actually participate this year is almost a novelty after cutting myself off from the everyday things last year due to training and job responsibilities.

Coming up: a trip to Florida with my daughter and her kids. We likely won’t be hitting all the theme parks (thank God!) because we’ve been there, done that before, but are looking for relaxation and some unique things to do, like a manatee cruise? Or Gatorland for the boys? Probably at least Sea World, but other than that, spending time together.

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there! I will try to post pics from Florida (if the laptop holds out!) and maybe will have some time for updating also. See you all soon.