Thursday, 31 May 2012

31.05.12 Monster set!

I looked on my swim coaches website yesterday to see that the new program was available to view and saw the main set for today.  Hustle and Hurt 5-8 X 300m.  I get there and there is a 300m warm up followed by a 300m kick session and then followed by another 300m warmup.

Then it was onto the main set 8 X 300m.  It was a killer with the first 100m at full sprint then the second 100m at a pace that you could maintain and the last 100m in recovery.  These are some of the hardest sets in swimming because you bring your body to fatigue and then you can't just stop and suck in big gulps of air, you have to keep going.  Not only that you are still going at a reasonable pace and trying to suck in big gulps of air in water!  The last 100 you pulled right back and had a relaxing swim before finally stopping for 45 seconds and then doing it all over again.  I was put in the fast lane again, I should take this  as a compliment but when you are swimming behind a olympic swimmer and an American girl who looks like she was also an ex does not make for a fun swim session!  The two olympians finished the set with 2 sets still to go whilst the rest of the lane finished all 8 sets.  A warm down of 300m finished the set.  I was stretching on the pool side and was doing the math and realized that we had swum 3.6km today, a monster set.  I was absolutely exhausted!

Whilst having lunch I was on the internet and somehow stumbled across an article on Barefoot running catching on in Wellington from back in January.  I start reading it and am blown away by the comparisons of the people who start running barefoot and what they are feeling.  I can't actually believe that they are talking experiencing the same calve pain that I have experienced when they first start running in their Vibram.  I keep reading and honestly can't believe win I read that one of the people interviewed stated that her posture improved dramatically her posture and she felt like her spine just shot straight up.  That is exactly how I have felt over the last couple of runs.  At least I have not been dreaming it is feeling different, it is now backed up by other people who are feeling the same thing.  The best part about it is that these people have continued with the running and swear by it.  Maybe that will be me in a couple of months...

30.05.12 Running Upright

So I came home from work today, determined to do a longer run.  I got changed and decided that I would do the run that I used to do when I first moved to Wellington.  As I remember the run, I recall it is around a 5km run and should take me about 30 minutes.  This is the perfect stepping stone from my 20 minute runs so I am looking forward to it.  I even put on my heart rate monitor!  The run consists of a long downhill from our house and then it flattens off after around 1km.  I have been thinking about it over the last couple of runs and I start thinking about it again today.  I have come to the conclusion that until your feet are really ready for these shoes, downhill running is not good.  The reason for this is that I am so concerned about landing heel toe that I feel like I am being very tentative in my running and it doesn't feel right.  It feels like I am taking a very short stride and almost tiptoeing down the hill.  If I was doing this for a long time on a long run, I could imagine that this would become quite sore for the bottom of your foot.  I watched a youtube video the other day about the fact that the Vibram shoes are great for training but they are not fast shoes.  "If they were fast then everybody would be wearing them" the guy said!  I can understand that they may not be so fast especially running downhill (well for the moment at least) but on a flat piece of road in a marathon or ironman, I personally think that they can be just as fast as a normal running shoe or maybe even faster!

I am now on the flat and just like the other day, I really feel like I am running upright.  I feel so upright it is almost unnatural.  My shoulders are back and I am sucking in the air with ease.  I am feeling really comfortable on the run and find myself as I have been through this whole transition process into barefoot running, really concentrating on making sure my feet are landing correctly.  On this flat section though I find myself not concentrating as much on my foot strike.  I realize that my feet are never going to go heel toe as it would be too uncomfortable and my body would react.  I try to forget about my footing and by doing this the run becomes even more comfortable.

The last section of the run is straight up a steep hill.  When I say hill I mean from 160 metres to 295 metres at our Front Door.  It is straight up for around 1km and then the last 1km is a mixture of flat and steep incline.  My calves are starting to tighten more so on my left leg than my right for some reason.  Although they are tight I know that if they are going to get really tight it is going to be on this hill.  I start the hill and feel no difference in my legs.  I am starting to tire by this stage but I am still running upright.  I make it up the hill and to the quick flat section before the last incline before home.  I am feeling really tired by now but my feet feel fine and I finish the run.  I look at my clock and the run has taken 24 minutes and was a little shorter than I expected only 4.15km.  Regardless of this I have completed two runs in two days and my legs are fine.  My bad knee is playing up a little bit.  It is a bit sore when I start my run and a little sore the following day but it is not a major concern at this stage.

Below is the graph of my run.  As you can see it is quite a steep downhill until the flat and then the uphill run home begins.  As you can see also, the blue line shows my speed.  The speed is very consistent no matter running downhill or uphill or on the flat.  The only deviation is when I stopped at a couple of lights.  This graph backs up that these shoes are making me more consistent with my speed regardless of the terrain.  It must be because I am running upright...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

29.05.12 Those freaky shoes!

I was at Wellington Zoo the other day with the whole Wellington family including my baby son, wife and two sisters in law.  It was not the best day to go as it was pouring with rain and freezing cold but it was enjoyable anyway.  Of course I wore my Vibram shoes to give them a good workout.  Little did I know it but one of my sisters in law had discovered that Victoria and I were wearing very similar outfits including a black Kathmandu coat, blue jeans and then she saw what we where wearing on our feet.  Victoria had a nice white pair of sand shoes on (something I would normally wear), but I had my Vibram's on.  Apparently they "freaked" my sister in law out.  What I did learn though was whilst the rest of me was soaking wet from the weather my feet were warm inside the Vibram's despite the wet conditions, even if it just was walking around.

It was swim training again today and the session was huge and it hurt!  I can't remember the whole set but I do recall that it was a 500 warm up followed by 12 X 25 metres with a focus on stroke length.  That was then followed by a 200 metre freestyle to warm up for the next set which was Technique Golf.

The idea behind this set is that you try and score the lowest score you can by combining your strokes for 50 metres with the time it took you to complete the set.  For example if you count your strokes and you do  45 strokes for the 50 metres and it takes you 45 seconds then your golf score is 90.  You have to maintain this score for 10 sets.  My first score was 79.  I was able to do 38 strokes in 41 seconds.  From there my strokes spread out to around 40 and I maintained anywhere from 40 to 41 seconds.  My range for the whole set was 79-82 which is a good range to have.  Anything more than 3 and you have not got the right mix between strokes and speed.

Following this was another 200 metre warm down before we started the sprints.  This was done in 2's so  I was up against a guy in the lane who is a good sprinter.  The set composed of 12 X 25 metre sprints on 45 seconds.  Basically for a full sprint for 25 metres it will take you around 20 seconds to get down the other end.  You then have around 20 seconds rest before you do it all again.  You are absolutely gone by around 6 of them especially doing all the swimming before but you are in a race with the person in your lane next to you so it motivates you to push hard.  Finally to finish it was a nice 500 warm down that included 2 laps of freestyle followed by 1 lap of backstroked and 1 lap of breaststroke.

I spoke to a friend today who is a swimmer and runner and her mum and sister are professional triathletes.  I was talking to her about this blog and barefoot running.  She looked at me funny and said "You don't have those finger shoes do you? They freak me out!!"

When I got home I put on the "Freaky" shoes and head out for my 20 minute run.  I want to do a longer run but am starving tonight from this mornings swim and need to eat.  I had a longer run planned that would take around 40 minutes but that is going to have to wait for another day.  I start out and my calf's feel fine from the start.  I do notice that the bottom of my foot is a little sensitive today but I believe that is due to my new walking style.  I have noticed that when I am walking around in my work shoes that I am doing that slow march that I felt that I was doing when I first wore the Vibram's.  I am thinking that all this walking on the middle of my foot rather than heel toe is causing the sensitivity.  During the run it doesn't bother me though and I am feeling good today especially running down hill.  My calf's are still not hurting and I have successfully made it down the hill and onto the flat.  I am feeling good and although I am tired I notice I am still running upright rather than leaning forward like I do when I run in shoes when tired.  It almost feels like my posture has changed and it feels very comfortable.  I am heading to the long run up the hill home and although tired still feel good.  I finally make it home and know that I have gone pretty hard.  I look at the time and it has taken me 18 minutes, my quickest time yet!

My legs still feel a little jellyish after each run but they are getting better.  I have a good stretch and my legs feel fine for the rest of the evening.  It will be interesting to see how my calf's are feeling tomorrow.  Hopefully they are not sore like last week and I will be able to have that longer run tomorrow in my "Freaky" shoes.

Friday, 25 May 2012

26.05.12 I love barefoot running!!!

After Thursday's run I was concerned that I may have done some damage to my legs as I continued to do the run even though I was in hindsight probably not the smartest move.  My legs on Friday felt fine though, not even that tight, certainly not like the day after a couple of other runs I have completed.

I am a little dejected by what has happened on Thursday though and so do some more research on barefoot running and find a video where the guy is a credible runner but says that you should not use Vibram to run long distances in nor should you use them when running on concrete.  I am seriously considering stopping the barefoot running and then I watch a video on barefoot running by a professor who literally runs barefoot and does his running on the road.  Check it out here.  I am reinsured and decide that I need to keep going with this thing.

So it is now Saturday and I am up early and decide to go for the same run that I have been completing during the week.  I want to go for a longer run as I have time for it but after Thursday I am conscious that my legs are not ready for it.  Vibram state that you should slowly increase your running 10% at a time.  You need to remember that I used to do 2-3 hour runs as a norm so to be competing a 20 minute run is almost a wast of time for me.  I do not want a repeat of Thursday though and the potential for me to have to sit out for a week due to injury.

I slip on my shoes and start the run.  Whilst I have just woken up and feel crap as I am a little tired from the week, I am not experiencing too much pain like I was the other day.  A little tightness but nothing too bad.  I start to come back down the hill and decide to try something different.  I stretch out my toes before they land and find that I am more comfortable running down the hill as I am landing right in the centre of my foot rather than flat on my foot which emphasized the pain in my legs the other day.  I feel good running down the hill and hit the flat.  Whilst I am still feeling tired, my legs definitely feel better and I continue with the run.  I am really tired by the end of the run but my legs feel good.  I can feel them shaking a little bit as I stop and I know that my muscles are still getting used to barefoot running.  What I do realize though is that my feet don't hurt.  My feet have never hurt since I have been running in the Vibram's and I find that strange.  I thought for sure my feet would show some kind of discomfort but it is not the case.  The Vibram's are back and I feel good.  Tomorrow I know of a 30-40 minute run that I can do and I think it is time to give it a go.  Although it is going to be a late night tonight I am slightly looking forward to finding out how my legs are going to feel...only time will tell!

24.05.12 I hate barefoot running!!!

So I wake up numerous times during the night as Lachlan is having a terrible sleep.  It has not helped that I turned the TV off at 12.04am due to watching the State of Origin match and although I knew it was going to be hard to get up for swimming in the morning I wanted to watch the match.  I was having a busy week at work so in the back of my mind I knew that I was probably not going swimming.  At 5:20 Lachlan is screaming and I am tired but think to myself, would I rather lie here or should I just get up and go swimming...I decide the latter.

We get to swimming and it is a nice 400 warm up followed by some stroke exercises before heading into the main set.  The main set consists of 10 X 200m on 4 minutes with alternating paddles.  Basically this means that you use paddles for the first 200m and you have 4 minutes to finish the 200m.  We were finishing them on around 3.30 so had 30 seconds rest to take paddles off/put paddles on and get ready to go again.  For those of you that have not used paddles before, they are a great tool to teach you to reach deep into the water and also to feel the pull that is required to get you through the water.  Whilst they can make you swim quite fast due to the grab under the water, they also tire you out quickly due to the resistance they create in the water.  To finish the coach springs a 200m time trial on us.  He wants us to go  as hard as we can for 200m.  He wants to see how much stamina we have left in us after completing a relatively hard set.  I am first off and feel good in the first 50m, turn off the wall and porpoise kick and back flying for the last 100m.  I turn off the wall and start heading back for the last 100 and decide to bring in the kick as I come to the end of the 150m and turn to hit the wall.  Now I am heading home and I am remembering when Ian Thorpe used to bring in the legs in the last 50 and the whitewash behind him.  I think I am matching him for whitewash but sadly what I think and what it probably looks like will be quite different.  I finish and the most important thing is, no one has overtaken me in my lane and I feel good.

It has been a busy day at work and I decide that I have not done a run for a couple of days now so need to go for one when I get home, there is a problem though...I am really tired.  I reluctantly put on my running gear to go for a run in the wind that is Wellington.  I am getting over these short runs.  I can't believe I am saying this but I prefer doing long runs.  Usually when I do a long run I am going for 2 hours and you feel like you have achieved something at the end of it all.  There is a mountain near where I live which has a big telecommunications tower on top of it called Mt Kaukau.  It is a really good run up the hill from my house to 445m above sea level, probably one of my favorite runs.  I keep looking at it whilst at home or around town and wish that I could be doing a long run up there just like I was doing a couple of months ago.   I know however that that would just be stupid with the Vibram's this early so block it out of my mind.

Anyway, I get dressed and go outside to do my short 20 minute run...boring!!!  As I run out of the house and start going up the hill which leads to a long downhill I notice that something does not feel right.  My calf's are really tight and they are starting to hurt and I am only around 300m from home.  I concentrate on my stride as maybe it is too long and is causing the pain.  I realize that it is not my stride as it does not go away even when I shorten it.  I keep going and start heading downhill to the flat section.  My calf's are feeling really tight and as I am going downhill it is getting worse.  I begin to doubt this whole barefoot running thing and start to think to myself, why am I doing this stupid thing???  I was perfectly fine running in shoes so why have I stopped and now am running with no protection whatsoever and now in pain??

Just when I am about to stop and walk home something happens.  I step on a stone.  It is pitch-black as it is late and I have just stepped on a big stone, some would call it a rock.  I notice something strange about me stepping on this rock.  My foot bends over the top of it and I carry on without any major problems.  Now I have stepped on many rocks in the past especially with all the cross country running that I have done in preparation for my adventure races.  Most of the times when I have stepped on a similar stone, my  shoe has rolled off it and snap, there goes your ankle!  But my ankle does not roll.  My foot bent around it and it was fine.  I did not feel the rock hurt the bottom of my foot either as it was protected by the Vibram shoe.  Although I am nearly at the flat section of the run and my calf's are killing me, I decide to push on.  I am now on the flat and it feels a bit better in my legs but it is not comfortable but I keep coming back to the stone.  It is not coincidence that I have not rolled my ankle.  My foot adjusted itself and stopped me rolling my ankle...maybe these shoes are not so bad after all.  I run home up the long hill and get home.  Victoria asks me how my run was and I say that it was not good.  My calf's are killing me and if they are hurting now, what are they going to be like tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

22.05.12 Leading the pack

I know you are are my calf's?

Well to be honest they are not sorer or tighter.  I was not able to go for a run on Sunday as was too busy with spending time with Lachlan however I was happy to my legs did not hurt as much.  I was busy on Monday night spending time with some work mates before I had to come home and babysit.  I wanted to go for a run but it was too late by the time I got home.  Legs where still tight but again not worse than they were on Saturday.

So today was swim training.  A nice warm up of 400 followed by 12 X 25 metres on 30 seconds.  It was then onto the main set.

First set was 6 X 100's on 1.55.  We were told that we had to do the set on around 1.40 and have 15 seconds rest before starting the next 100.  I was "taking my swimming to the next level" today and ensuring that I was reaching deeper today.  I was leading the lane but the lane was split into two but it seemed we had the faster group.  We did the first 100 on around 1.35 which was too fast so the next 100 was at 1.35 which again was too fast.  The next 100 was at 1.37 with the following three at 1.40.  1 minute rest.

Onto set number 2 which was similar to the above with 6 X 100 on 1.50 however the coach wanted 1.45 100's so around 5 seconds rest.  I was feeling really good in this set so was achieving around 1.35 100's for most of the set with around 15s rest.

We then move onto the last set which was the same as previous with 6 X 100 on 1.50.  Coach wanted us to do them on 1.40 so it meant limited rest in-between.  We did the first of the 100 on 1.30 and the second on 1.30 with the third on 1.29 with the fourth on 1.28 and the fifth on 1.27.  By this stage I am hurting and know that I have one set to go.  I start the last 100 and we eventually finish on 1.30.

Swimming was good today however pushing of the wall I could still feel my calves.  I wanted to go for a run tonight to see how they were feeling but with a long day at work have come home to relax.  Bring on tomorrow when I test out the shoes once more!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

19.05.12 Feel the Burn

I wake up this morning and it feels like someone has hit the back of my legs with a baseball bat. I can certainly feel the burn from my 25 minute run the other day and I am a little concerned. Have I overdone it and injured myself? I realise that my new style of running is certainly having an impact on my body. My calf's feel really sore. I was expecting that this might be the case as any major exercise that your body is not used to usually brings on DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) in the second day and as per my previous blogs, my calf's were reasonably sore yesterday.

I spend the day doing the shopping whilst wearing my Five Fingers and focus on not trying to walk differently whilst wearing the shoes.  I decide that if I truly was wearing bare feet that you would not step with your heel first as that would hurt so I let my body do its own thing and rely on the shoes to let my body do its own thing.  I find that relaxing this way allows me to walk around feeling very comfortable but I am slightly concerned about my calf's. I am happy that my feet feel fine and my quads don't feel tight either, it is just my calves that feel like I was doing calve raises all of Thursday evening.  When I sit down in the car or at home and then suddenly get up my calf's almost seize up until they seem to get warmed up again.  I have had enough of this and decide when I get home that I need to go for a run to see if that will help my calf's.

I decide to do the same run from the other day that seems to have caused the issues with my calf's, and ensure that I am very careful when running down hills as this seems to be where I feel the strain the most as I start the run.  I feel a lot more comfortable in the shoes today, I am not heel striking on my left foot as much as I was the other day.  I think walking around the shops today has really got me used to wearing the shoes and my body feels comfortable.  On the flat my cadence is quick and although my calf's are not getting worse, they are not getting better either.  I feel like I am flying on the flat section and then come to the hill that will wind its way back up to home.  I am physically feeling good however I can start to feel that in the middle of my right foot it is starting to tighten up.   I only have about 800m to go so keep going up the incline to home.  Even though I have tight calf's and my right foot is tight, I strangely feel reasonably good.  I notice that I am running more upright than I normally do.  My shoulders are back and this new position feels good.  I finish the run and my calf's are still tight but after a stretch and a hot shower they feel a lot better.  As a precaution I put on some Voltaren Gel on both calf's to reduce any inflammation if that is what is causing the pain.  My legs don't feel like jelly like they did the other day, maybe I am starting to get used to these things.  We will see what tomorrow brings in terms of the condition of my calf's, if all is good maybe another run!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

17.05.12 Take it to the next level

I arrive at swimming yesterday and am not feeling particularly energetic so hope that it is not a tough session.  Usually my coach posts the program on his website so you can mentally prepare yourself.  "What are we doing today" I ask? "We are doing a time trial".  "How long is it?", thinking it is going to be a 1500m. "750 metres".  "I can do 750 metres" I say.  So we do a warm up for ten minutes and if I was not feeling motivated already, I am moved into the fast lane.  When I say fast lane, I am talking about ex New Zealand rep swimmers and leading age group triathletes!

We start the time trial and let me just say that I hate time trials.  I believe that time trials are something that need to be practiced.  You have to know when to go hard and when to get into a rhythm and when to sprint so as not to destroy yourself  and be a dead weight in the water.  I of course get this wrong all the time and end up going too hard at the start and then blow up about halfway into the time trial.  Today I decided that for 750m I was really going to focus on going out hard to start and then try to maintain technique before bringing it home at the end.  You can usually judge how you are going when you turn around at each end and see if you are getting closer to the person who is in front of you as well as if the people behind you are getting further behind.  Today I was not losing time on the person in front which I was extatitc about as she is a fast swimmer and was thinking to myself, I must be doing something right!!  To add to that I was gaining time on the people behind me so I was not going slow.  I finally finished to be told that I had completed the time trial in a time of 12 minute 11 minutes.  That is 1 minute 40 seconds per 100 metres which is a good speed.  I think to myself that my technique must have been good, my stroke count must have been good and I have not had it confirmed yet but I am pretty sure that this is my best time.  I am warming down and my coach comes up to me and says that he noticed that my stroke is still not right.  I defend myself and state that I have just potentially done my best time.  He is not impressed.  He wants to see more focus on what he is telling me with regards to the depth of my stroke, particularly my right arm.  "Nathan" he says.  "It is time to take it to the next level".  I sit there and think for while and agree that maybe it is time to take several things to the next level.

I come home and decide that forget these feet strengthening exercises that I am doing,  I need to go for a short run.  I have not been for a run in my Vibram Five Fingers since the first day I got them.  I decide to go for around a 20 minute run.   It is freezing tonight so put on the long skin pants and start running.  I feel good at the start of the run and realize that my cadence is higher than usual however I can also feel that I am trying to stride longer and focus on reducing my step which will improve my cadence.  I can also feel that I am still landing on my heel at times especially on my left leg.  When I have been doing my exercises, this leg in a couple of the exercises is definitely not as flexible and is causing the heel strike which in a long run will definitely be painful.

We basically live on top of a mountain so the run was mainly down hill to the main road and then a long stretch of flat followed by a steady climb back home.  Near the end of the run my feet are feeling tired and physically I am feeling tired.  I am pretty sure that this was not due to the shoes though, might have been the 4 course industry lunch I was invited to today...

I finish up a long hill and by the time I am home my legs are tired.  I feel quite tight as I finish especially in my calves but my feet feel pretty good.  I get home and have been gone for 25 minutes.  Probably is a little longer than I wanted to do but it was  nice run.  I take of the Vibram shoes and my legs are strangely shaky.  It is almost like I have done leg presses and have gone too hard.  I do some stretches and then have a nice shower before chilling for the evening.

I wake up today and my legs are tight especially in my calves.  My feet feel fine which is a bonus as I thought with the heel strike that I was doing at the start of the run yesterday that I may have a sore heel but that is not the case.  The Vibram Five Fingers have now proven to me that they will change the way that I run.  I would not normally be so sore in my calves but as I am pushing off from the middle of my foot and using my toes, the strain is being taken in my calves.  I am a little scared almost concerned about this change.  What if I don't like it?  I guess only time will tell but what I have learnt about my running is that over the next couple of weeks,  I will certainly be taking it to the next level!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

15.05.12 A bit tired today

I know that you are all waiting to hear about how I pulled up from my walk the other day.  The answer is a little tight.  I was surprised how tight I was in my calves and in my actual feet especially seen as though it was only a light walk.  From the tightness in my feet I can see why you need to do the strengthening exercises before going out and running in them for the first time, that would be complete madness and you could do some serious damage!!  So still no run a this stage but the continuation of the exercises will be a focus for the remaining week before a light run on the weekend.

With regards to training, today was a swim day and what a session it was.   The set included a 400 warm up including backstroke, freestyle and breaststroke followed by another 400 of kicking including backstroke and freestyle.  We then moved to the main set which was called the 'Lactic Set'.  You know it is not good when the name of the set refers to the bi product of what is about to happen to your muscles...

The set started with 6 X 25 metre sprints @ 30 seconds.  Basically that means that you sprint to the other end of the pool and on the 30 second mark you sprint back again  for 6 repetitions.  It normally takes 20 seconds to get to the end of a 25 metre pool at sprint space so you have around 10 seconds to recover.

With no stop from the 25 metre sprints you go straight into 6 X 50 metre sprints @ 55 seconds.  You have just doubled your length of the sprint but  reduced your time by 5 seconds.

Move into 6 X 75 metre sprints @ 85 seconds.  You are now sprinting longer but have 30 seconds for the last 25.

Lastly 4 X 100 metre sprints @ 1 minute 55 seconds.  Again, you have put another 25 metres on your distance  and are sprinting longer.

Once that was complete (the 4 X 100 metres), you went back down again doing 6 X 75's again followed by 6 X 50's then 6 X 25's.

For those of you that swim, you would know the advantages of drafting and swapping the lead around.  This was all good for the first set (moving up to the 4 X 100's) but coming back down I was in front leading half my lane (we split the group and started from opposite ends) and that is where I stayed until the finish.   The new guy in the lane was gone before we finished the 6 X25's and just to cool ourselves down after all that we finished with a 200 freestyle and backstroke

Swimming is feeling good at the moment however I will tell reveal to you a fear that I have of open water swimming.  It started when I thought I could swim before my first triathlon.  I was in the front row of swimmers about to jump into the water when the gun went off.  It was all well and good and I think I was leading the swim for a small period until the faster swimmers started coming over the top of me...literally!  I remember swimming to the side and looking at my heart rate monitor which was showing 200 bpm...that is a little high!  Since then I have had mini panic attacks at the start of a triathlon swim and this is something that I aim to try and get over in the next couple of months.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

13.05.12 Walking Barefoot

Sounds harder than it seems. 

When was the last time that you walked a reasonable distance in barefeet. Today, I have no idea how far I walked but it was for an hour pushing the pram. I made sure that I walked over all sorts of terrain during the walk including wet soggy grassy ground, rocky ground and pavement. I was amazed that my feet did not hurt today. Firstly I was making a conscious effort not to put my heel down first and second, I thought I would feel so much more of the ground even though I had little rubber between me and the road but I seemed to feel nothing.  What I did feel was the muscles in my feet really getting tired about 45 minutes into the walk.  I appreciated the exercises that I have been doing lately to strengthen my feet.  If they feel like this after a walk, what would they feel like after a run?  I must admit that walking with the pram was really good.  It meant that my stride was limited as most of the time we were going up hill but even down hill you were holding onto a device to keep you at a certain speed and I think that the pram really helped me be 'careful' today rather than rush into a long run only after a week of buying the shoes.  I did want to run today but as mentioned before my feet were getting tired near the end of the walk.  I did manage to go for a little run barefoot (no shoes on at all) as I took the rubbish down and that felt nice but can't rush into these things.

This week is back into training, too many good times (boozing) and relaxing over the last 2.5 weeks.  Now it is time to get serious about next January.  I have been swimming since the Adventure Race but now it is time to get back into the bike riding as well as the barefoot running.  Of course this will be minimal until l slowly build up to major runs over the next couple of months.

I urge you sometime this week to go and do something barefoot.  Feel the difference of having nothing on your feet.  Feel the texture of the surfaces that you are walking on (mind those little stones as they hurt).  Feel the freedom of barefoot walking...before you know it you might be running!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

12.05.12 Can't afford shoes

Think to yourself when the last time you jumped in the car and headed down to the shops barefoot!  Anyone who does is either crazy (due to Wellington weather), or you feel sorry for them as they look like they can't afford shoes.  Well, today I spent the most time in my Five Fingers since the purchase and wore them all day whilst doing the shopping.

The first thing you have to worry about is, am I going to look like a freak when people look down at my shoes?  The answer is probably yes, but how many people actually look at your shoes that you are wearing and even if they do, how many are going to come up to you and announce "Nice freaky shoes mate", not many, if any.  For the first time today I actually felt like I was walking barefoot but chad the protection of a piece of rubber under my feet.  I still feel like I am slow marching most of the time, especially with my left foot.  That is my bad leg though.  Stems from a touch football injury sustained in Melbourne.  It was one of those injuries that you are half proud but never have I been in such pain.  Basically I was defending on our try line and a cut-out pass went right in front of me and I managed to get my hand in the way and pull it into my body.  Cue a full length of the field sprint with the defenders gaining as I was coming to the try line and to get the ball down quickly I lent down with my right hand at full speed with my left leg in front of me.  My cleat that I was wearing stops in a hole that was in the field and my left leg snaps backwards whilst my body goes forward.  End result, depressed fracture of the Tibia Plateau.  Which basically means the Tibia and Femur smashed together and in the process cracked the plateau or knee joint.  Was taken to hospital and lay there in agony for hours.  Finally was seen by a doctor who told me to come back in the morning and see a specialist.  As it was a public hospital it was first in first served so get here early I was told.  I arrive the next morning after not much sleep and walk into a room that would be the size of a large conference room filled with people.  I see numerous people on crutches and decide that I am going to be here all day so call mum and ask what I should do based on the fact I have private health insurance.  I am told to head to the nearest private hospital emergency room which happens to be the Epworth Hospital.

I get back in the car of my flatmate and head down there.  Get seen by a doctor in a couple of hours and referred to a specialist that afternoon.  I have no appointment so will have to wait in his rooms to see if he has a break in his patients.  He does and sends me for numerous scans and does numerous assessments over the next couple of weeks.  Finally I am operated on by them punching up the bone that has depressed and then putting a bone graft in my leg to fill the whole and holding the whole thing together with a staple.  The worst thing about the whole experience apart from the original fracture was the pethidine.

After the operation I had two things in my hand.  One was a self administration button for my pethidine and on the other was the call button for the nurse.  At the slightest hint of pain I would push the button around 3-5 times.  I was doing that quite a bit for a couple of days and I am not sure what the limits on how much you could self administer were but I seemed to be going through the drug like nothing else to the point that the nurses were concerned by how much I had used.  I can only say that what happened after this was an addiction.  Basically whilst I was asleep in bed still in the hospital, I would twitch which basically meant me almost flicking my legs including the leg that had just been operated on!  That made me wake up screaming in agony and of course pushing both buttons in my hand simultaneously, one pushing more pethidine into me and the other calling the nurse for further pain relief.  This happened around 5-6 times a night for three nights.  Eventually I was discharged and sent home and my concern was when this happened at home, there was no nurse to offer more pain relief and certainly no pethidine drip.  The best I was going to get was some Panadol Forte.

So head back to the specialist and he is really happy with how everything has gone.  I ask him when I can run again and he looks at me funny.  "You will never run long distances again" he says.  "You may be able to run around 5km on grass but that will be it".  I say, "I want to do an Ironman in the future".  "If you start doing long distance running, you will need a knee replacement in ten years".

That was about 8 years ago now and I have had a couple of niggling issues with my knee but I take Glucosamine daily as well as Salmon Oil tablets and that seems to have assisted me through the years.  That is why barefoot running is going to be such a big thing for me.  I don't want to re-injure the knee injury or suddenly make it worse by not having the security of a big piece of Asics foam underneath my feet for protection.  However if I am running like I have for the last 34 years of my life then I will injure myself as the heel toe movement will destroy my feet.

Barefoot running means that you are landing on the middle of your foot and slowly lowering your heel rather than landing on your heel and bringing down your foot.  It is a complete change in the way that you  land hence why you need to ease into it.  Time to go and do my Vibram exercises...maybe there is a short run on the cards in the near future!

Friday, 11 May 2012

08.05.12 New Shoes

Still on the 8th.

So we are on the morning of the registration for my first ever Half Ironman.  I decide that the Vibram Five Fingers is something that I want to train in for something different as well as a different way to do an Ironman.  For all the comments that I received that I received below in summary:
1) You can't do an Ironman in bare feet
2) Get off your fat ass and do some exercise as it makes you feel good
3) I don't need to see your type of barefoot running Mr Westpac.
4) I agree that the shoes look creepy but have you seen Victoria's feet...
5) Yes, I love pushing myself to the limits especially in the great outdoors.

  •  Love the blog Mr Frost! Look forward to reading more. Hope your well mate.
    21 hours ago via mobile · 

  •  Keep it coming Frosty, you may even inspire me to get off my fat ass.
    21 hours ago via mobile · 

  •  Looking forward to hearing how running barefoot, or with those pair of Vibram Five Fingers go! I'm not a fan of shoes and the only thing about running that I don't like is not yet finding a great pair of sneakers : )
    21 hours ago · 

  •  I'm exhausted just reading this Frosty! Good job though, it all sounds very exciting! I'm sure you've got Lachlan in the pram while your out training while Vic puts her feet up! Love to you all xoxo
    21 hours ago via mobile ·  ·  1

  •  U need to toughen up Aussie, that's not bare feet! I'll show u barefeet! Lol I am thinking of dng marathon but not sure whether to do actually in bare feet! Yeah right :p
    20 hours ago via mobile · 

  • Inspirational! Great work and look forward to hearing about your running feats :)
    17 hours ago · 

  •  Best of luck with this mate!
    14 hours ago · 

  • Nice work Nathan, good read! Not sure about the creepy shoes but hey ho, who needs fashion when there is a race to be won!
    14 hours ago · 

  •  Cool Nathan, it's great. I'll be reading it for sure. Yep Ebeny, they be some creeeepy shoe/feet.
    13 hours ago · 

  • nice. so have you been on your first barefoot run yet? suggest you invest in a foot spa, am sure you'll need it!
    10 hours ago · 

  •  mate if you actually did the ironman barefoot that would something to blog about.\
    10 hours ago ·  ·  1

  • I had no idea you were such an outdoor person, too much suit wearing.
    6 hours ago · 

  •  Great reading ... enjoyed it!
    3 hours ago · 

  • Victoria Frost Awesome Frosty! Lachlan and I are soooo super proud of you. You are an inspirational father to our gorgeous wee man xxx
So getting back to it, I decide that if I can complete a certain amount of work in the morning that on my lunch break it will be a trip to Gordon's Outdoor Equipment in Wellington.  I am not a big fan of giving accolades to shops but I met one of the best salespeople in my life in this store.  As previously mentioned, I had done my research on Vibram Five Fingers and knew exactly the model and what was going to be required to use these them.  I walk in to the shop and meet a Canadian shop assistant.  I feel really bad but I never got here name.  She was one of those people that you wished you had taken the name of so that you can write a letter to the manager.  Anyway it turns out that she is a physiotherapist from Canada who is waiting for her papers and knows everything about the human body and everything to do with Vibram Five Fingers.  She told me everything I need to know about them as well as benefits of them and what I was going to go through to get used to them.  She explained how they should fit and gave me the options of colors.  As Henry Ford said 'You can have any color your like as long as it is Black...and Grey...'  So thank you for one of my 'Cheque' birthday presents as this was put to good use... a new pair of Vibram five fingers.  So I went with the Bikala LS below (named after the Abebe Bikala who won the men's marathon in two consecutive olympics, the only person to ever do this).
I tried them out and the first time that you put them on you feel like you are putting your feet into a rubber glove, however the wrong toes are going in the wrong holes...very frustrating.  You think how can I coordinate the rest of my body when I can't even put my toes in the designated slots of my new shoes.  With several attempts my feet are in.  I get told to go for a walk and feel like I am doing a slow march (ex Kings boys would know what I mean).  I am trying to walk properly but am slapping my feet down on the ground, that is what no heel does for you.  I walk on a rocky surface by the front door and feel the surface but don't feel the sharp rocks digging into my bare feet. I feel a little naked in my suit and wearing slippers but if feels good.  After much consideration (a couple of minutes), the choice is made, I will take them.  Being natural I do not take the offer of a bag and walk back to work with the box that encases the most expensive rubber I have ever bought.  I almost feel embarrassed to cary them, what am I going to feel like wearing them?

Of course I can't wait to get home and try them on and let alone run in them.  I finally leave after a busy day at work and head home with them in my backpack as I am on the motorbike and luckily have the backpack due to carrying my swim gear to work.  I finally get home and get changed into my run gear with a 7 minute run circuit on my mind.  I put them on and feel naked with my Warwick Caper short short running shorts and nothing on past my thighs except for my Bikala's.  I go for a run and don't feel any different but it is only a short run. I come home and think to myself that maybe running in bare feet with no preparation is a good idea.  So I log onto the Vibram website and start looking at Vibram Five Fingers Exercises and decide that I better not rush into things and launch into this barefoot running thing and prepare my feet for bare foot running in a physical sense.  I start doing the exercises and vow to complete them at least 4 times a week for the next two weeks to get my feet ready.  This means little running for the next couple of weeks but swimming will have to do for now.   I wonder what the weekend will bring...