Four discoveries from a 30 day run streak

This morning I completed my 30 day run streak and during this time I made some discoveries about my running. Here they are…..

  1. Aerobic training is beneficial

At the start of the run streak I decided that all my running in these 30 days would be aerobic and I would forget about pace. On the whole I was able to manage this only running twice outside my aerobic capacity. This was a parkrun effort and last weeks goal race pace half marathon run.

Running purely aerobically for the majority of the 30 days has seen me develop my aerobic capacity. Running aerobically often is easy on the body and recovery is simple, when you run within your limits there is no soreness the next day and you are able to run more. Following this when I did increase the intensity and complete a tougher workout, my half marathon felt very comfortable. Building the aerobic engine is very beneficial for running performance.

The take away from this discovery is that during my next focussed training block I will have more aerobic training to compliment the focussed harder workouts.

   2. Technology is unnecessary (almost)

Another goal of this run streak was to divorce pace and use perceived effort to measure my run rather achieve a pace for the run. This has been a successful discovery where I am now unconcerned by the pace my watch is saying and rather the feeling my body gives me from the effort I output.

During each of the runs I have only looked at the time for the run on the watch and not pace. This has taught me to focus on my feeling and breathing to stay aerobic and run consistent pace through effort. During the harder half marathon effort the same applied and I was impressed by the consistent pace I was able to achieve.

The future of my running will feature less reliance on technology, I am committed to continuing to monitor my running by feel and use the data to analyse post run.

3. Running everyday is good for you

While I am normally an advocate for rest days, life balance and letting the body recover from runs I found the task of running everyday good for me. All my runs are completed in the early mornings and the simple task of committing to getting up each morning and going through the process to get out the door and run was mostly pretty easy.

During the 30 day streak I had wet weather on 5-6 of my runs, only one of these days did I consider not running through the rain, however this doubt lasted about 15 minutes before I decided to get the job done.

I enjoyed the day to day commitment of getting out the door to complete my run. Committing to a run streak is a way to challenge you to overcome a small challenge everyday and start the day ready to tackle something bigger if it arises.

4. Minimal footwear is better

This may have not been a discovery but more a reinforcement. Every run I did with the exception of one run were completed in zero drop footwear. these specifically were Gladsoles sandals both the trail 8mm and new 6mm and Carson Footwear Iguana Racers.

If you are fully transitioned to barefoot running then minimal footwear is better for your running. After 4-5 days of the run streak I had a slight pain in my right calf that was evident for a few runs, this went away by itself and I was able to run without pain for the  all the other runs. Minimal footwear keeps you aware, your feet stronger and running with better technique. To run injury free for long periods of time these are important. Without trying to jinx myself to an injury I believe the benefits of transitioning to minimal shoes will help me run longer into my life.

Don’t be scared to make a change to your footwear if you are on a path of consistent injuries. It will take time but it will be worth it.

Overall the run streak has been an enjoyable experience and most likely will continue beyond 30 days. My routine of running every morning is a habit I would like to continue.

Photos from a 30 day run streak

 

Things to do when transitioning to barefoot running

 

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In a recent post I listed the reasons why you should be barefoot running, however how do you transition? The main barefoot running transition question people as is how long will is take? This is different for everyone and may take as little as a couple of months or much longer. In order to give yourself the best chance of transitioning successfully and without injury the following tips may help.

If you take the time to transition correctly and build the strength and mobility needed to barefoot run long term you will reap the benefits down the track.

Be Patient

If you are an accomplished runner and have decided to transition to a flatter more minimal shoe or to barefoot running then it is difficult to stomach that you may only be able to run for very short periods for the first weeks or months. Patience is essential to avoid injury. For the first few weeks you should be combining walking and running either barefoot or in minimal shoes and running for no longer then 10 minutes working up to 30 minutes at a timely the end of the first month.  This will require patience and humility if you are used to running for much further.

Be ‘barefoot’ in everyday life

Increasing the time you walk barefoot will assist in building strength in your lower limbs and feet that are essential for barefoot running. Look to purchase some minimal shoes for work or casual life and try and be barefoot when at home. This will increase your mobility of the muscles that need to be retrained in order for injury free barefoot running.

Concentrate on your form

While you are transitioning to barefoot running concentrate on your form. Concentrate on landing on the balls of your feet, stay upright, don’t over stride and stay light on your feet. This will make sure you use the muscles associated with barefoot running and give them the best chance to gain mobility and strength.

You may choose to continue to run some mileage in your ‘old’ cushioned running shoes, especially if you are a seasoned runner. This is perfectly fine however make sure you concentrate on your form even in your cushioned shoes and retrain the body to run on your forefeet.

Listen to your feet

When you start running barefoot or in minimal shoes it is essential you look for the signs that you are overdoing it. It is normal to experience a small amount of pain in the calves, achilles and feet however too much and you may need to reduce the mileage and take longer to transition. This is a key sign of taking the time necessary to transition successfully and avoiding injury. Be prepared to have a long term view if the pain is experienced.

 

Use these simple tips and ask for advice if things don’t go to plan. Every runners barefoot transition is different and will therefore the process for each runner may be different.

If you have successfully transitioned to barefoot running  how did you do it?

What obstacles did you need to overcome, and how did you do it?

 

 

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The road is a long one, be patient

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The top 4 reasons you should be barefoot running

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While barefoot running has faded somewhat from the mass media attention it was receiving a few years ago there are still some very valid reasons why you should be running barefoot.

By barefoot running we mean running without shoes or in minimal footwear. By minimal footwear we mean shoes with the following attributes. Low heel to toe differential or heel drop, wide toe box and less cushioning and flexible materials. There are many different minimal footwear options available today.

Transitioning to barefoot running takes time. If you try to rush the process, you may suffer injuries in the calves or achilles. Be sure not to rush the process, it may take months or even years. Once your transition is complete your running will benefit.

The four top reasons you should be barefoot running are;

  1. Reduced injuries

Once you have transitioned to barefoot running you will likely run lighter, with a forefoot landing over a bent knee. This will ensure that you suffer less lower limb related injuries related to running. While barefoot running is not a panacea to injury free running it will go a long way to helping you run consistently more without injuries. Cushioned shoes won’t stop you getting injured, most likely they are the cause.

     2. Stronger feet

Running in an inflexible, cushioned shoe will inhibit the natural movement of your foot. The shoe does the work which the foot is designed to do, this will weaken your feet over time. Running barefoot or in flatter, more flexible footwear will build strength in your feet and lower limbs.  With strong feet comes a strong platform to run successfully and run injury free.

    3 Better awareness

” The more minimal you are the more aware you are” Chris McDougall

With more awareness comes better ground feel. While running you will become more aware of your posture,  foot landing, surroundings and effort. More awareness of your foot landing means you will be aware of every step and how and what you land on. This is a key reason why accomplished barefoot runners can run injury free as their awareness for where their foot lands is greater. Simply put running barefoot allows for more sensory feedback which increases awareness.

    4. Get faster

Forefoot running is faster than heel striking, pretty simple. Landing on your heel with a straight leg gives a braking effect, landing on your forefoot with a bent leg is faster and a more efficient way to run. If you want to get faster barefoot running can help you achieve this.

Transitioning to barefoot running is important, be patient and don’t rush the process however slow it may be. Once you successfully transition you will be free of heavy, inflexible running shoes and your running will become transformed.

If you wear traditional cushioned running shoes and have suffered injuries, it’s time to rethink your running footwear. Taking them off or replacing them with minimal shoes could be the answer.

 

 

 

 

Is six days without running during a marathon taper a bad thing?

 

 

Time will soon tell if six days without running in the week leading up to a race is a bad thing or not, but so far it doesn’t feel like it play a major role in the marathon I am running on Sunday. The week has been pretty relaxed so far and haven’t really had the race in the front of my thoughts just yet. Have been focussed on trying to get some good sleep and resting my foot, albeit with the normal demands of work, study and family life.

The good news is I haven’t eaten ice cream every night this week as I put my feet up and haven’t put on any weight. Resting has meant I will be very fresh for the race on Sunday but possibly slightly under done. Six days off running hasn’t sapped my confidence, still feel I’ve done the long training beforehand to put me in a good position as the race unfolds.

Six days off running has let my troublesome foot heal, there is now no pain in the foot. This is important for confidence as much as anything. I never really felt like the foot was going to stop me running or hinder the race in any way but decided to play it safe and minimise the risk of going into long race with pain. Marathons a tough enough without having other problems to hinder your race.

Overall I don’t think six days off running will have any effect on my race, it won’t be an excuse if the distance and terrain win the day. Looking forward to having a small run tomorrow morning and testing the foot and sharpening myself up before Sunday.

Weather forecast is for hot weather here on Sunday with a maximum of 33C/90F. This could cause problems for everyone as the race is scheduled just after the end of winter and certainly all of my running for this race has been in cooler weather. Heat also brings the snakes into play on the trails as they love to come out when the heat comes out. No point in worrying about the uncontrollables though.

Looking forward to the challenge on Sunday.

Photos are all from on the course of the Beach to Brother Marathon

Still Failing…

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Last week, I went for a run. Not far and not very fast as I have spent most of this year nursing my calf muscle back from injury amidst large amounts of frustration. I have been encouragingly building my distance up very slowly, the week before I ran my longest run of the year at 7 km and have been feeling myself getting stronger with very minimal pain. I went out this run on one of my normal routes near home at a comfortable pace, nice weather, headphones in feeling great. After 3 km into my run I feel familiar pain in my right calf, I immediately stopped and felt the calf and it felt slightly tender, I decided to abandon the run there and walked the remaining kilometre to home and sat down and iced the leg for 15- 20 mins.

This run is now exactly a week ago and I haven’t run since, the calf is not in a world of pain but there is enough pain when I push and prod at the muscle that I know if I start to run again now it will flair up. So at the moment I have quit running. I have made up my mind that I am not going to run again until my calf is completely pain free. I will be back to the Physio this week and try and speed up this process with some sound medical treatment.

I am crossing my fingers that the healing process won’t take too long but calf muscles are notorious for taking a long time to get perfect. When I first did the injury I thought I’d waited longer then necessary to start running again but it appears this wasn’t the case. This time I must wait until it is perfect. It’s a frustrating feeling knowing that running may be a little while away for me.

I have replaced my running with a few efforts on the bike which has not caused any further discomfort to the calf muscle, so at least I can still stay active and fit. I also plan to get myself to the pool this week for a swim or two.

Not running will drive me insane, that is a certainty. I rode my bike past a group of people running last week and felt envious that they were running, even though I was exercising myself at the very time they were. It’s going to be a frustrating period ahead.