It appears that I'm in a taper, again. This week has been a tough one for me. The last three weeks, I had started back on the path to building up some basic mileage; I am a distance runner for crying out loud! I encountered a few blockers this week, mostly my own fault: poor nutrition, poor sleep, and some over-training (yeah, that last one baffles me, too). It appears I've have picked up a cold, to top it all off.
One of the marked differences between this effort and my last is that I'm committed to running as close to barefoot as possible. My guidance is a book titled "ChiRunning" by Danny Dreyer. Danny's focus is on applying the principles of Tai Chi to running. Some of the key concepts are "Cotton and Steel", "fall forward" and let gravity carry you, "land underneath your knees", "shorten your stride", and "high turnover".
I am changing my stride from a heavy-heel striker to a light mid-foot to fore-foot striker. The goal is to run injury free for life! I like running far too much to risk not being able to do it into my 80's and 90's!
The odd looking Vibram Five fingers you see here, which I purchased in June, are quite comfortable, and well worth the $80! If you're following trends, you'll probably recognize these shoes, but rest-assured, I'm not simply trying to follow a trend. I'm trying to fix my stride. These shoes, and running barefoot in general, seem to force me to run "better". The principles of ChiRunning seem to fall naturally when running barefoot, whereas trying to apply this change in stride in traditional shoes is just hard!
I have noticed two things with this running style, though. The first is that my calves kill me after long runs! I've been able to build up to a seven mile run barefoot, but it leaves me limping for days afterwards. Ice, ice, and more ice certainly help, as does Ibuprophen.
The second is that I get blisters! This is more of a factor of the shoes themselves and my soft-padded feet. Over time, I've been able to build up some callouses, starting with low mileage runs and ramping it up. I can now run up to 3 miles without socks, but anything over requires me to put on the Injinji's. As winter approaches, I'll probably need one or two layers of socks anyway. Wet and snowy days are going to be a bother. Time to find a new pair of shoes for the Minnesota Winters.
Last week's Sunday run left me really sore, both in my calves, but also in my right hip. I'm exercising muscles I don't use effectively, it appears. My left hip was the problem one earlier this year, so maybe this means that this strength training is actually paying off. My left hamstring is starting to feel better, perhaps stronger. I'm just looking forward to the day when I can strap these shoes on and head out the door without worrying about aches and pains.
The pain, the fatigue, and nutrition -- fast food this week -- have all left me a bit ragged. I took Wednesday through Friday off. This doesn't get me off the hook for my Saturday core workout, but it does mean I'm going to have to reevaluate my training schedule. I'm starting to get my head out of the clouds with this pipe-dream of the Superior Sawtooth 50 by 2011. I think a more realistic goal would be 2012. Next year may be the "Year of Half's and Tri's". One solid year of building up and aggressive cross-training.
I still haven't gotten that 5k out of the way, but the Living History Farms Cross Country Race is fast approaching! I can't wait to get out and race again. Hopefully, I'll be able to get out and train more effectively for the next two weeks. Wish me luck!