Category Archives: Marathon Training

Was I Ready to Get Lucky?

These days, I’m not as anal about running events as I used to be. In fact, it is safe to say the thrill is gone. More than likely it is because I haven’t been thrilled about my running.

My January Thaw.

It’s a not so aptly named blog post title, I know. In fact, we are deep in the thick of winter. The temperatures haven’t even gotten close to zero the past 5 days. We aren’t even close to any type of thaw, but for me personally, it is has been just that. I’m thawing out. I’m learning to cut loose a little bit. I’m trying not to be so anal about my running.

Back To The Future Of Running – The Toe Shoe Experiment

I never intended to start a running streak. It just turned out to end up that way. And now that I’m waist deep in it, I’m not so sure I’m ready to quit just yet. After all, running every day for 107 days has kept me limber and sharp. How? Well, I have to keep up with all my exercises, especially those that my PT’s and chiropractor have prescribed, in order to get out there every day and run. I’ve also been able to incorporate some other experiments into the mix, seeing that I’m running every damn day. The biggest experiment of which has been my running shoes, of all things.

It’s no secret that I’ve suffered with sore inner calves for as long as I can remember. At first, it all began with that stress fracture that almost took away my first Boston Marathon run in 2014. As it turns out, it likely wasn’t a stress fracture at all, but instead, a form of shin splint that affects my interior lower leg and the tendon that runs from the heel, to the inside of the tibia and around the knee, or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome or MTSS. This injury rears its ugly head in so many ways. Just when I think I have it licked, it reappears in another form, like a shapeshifting spirit who can’t decide what form it wants to take next. Once I got the shin splints licked in late May, the injury decided to re morph to my achilles. It’s kind of a bizarre injury because it really doesn’t hurt while I’m running. Rather, I awaken with very stiff calves, and have milliseconds of sharp pain a few times a day when I might be doing absolutely nothing but standing around and chilling. Mind boggling, to say the least.

At one of my pre-Grandma’s marathon graston sessions, I finally asked my chiropractor his thoughts of the Vibram Five Finger sneakers that he wears on a regular basis. “I love them,” he says. “In fact, you should try them. I’m thinking all that lower leg stuff you have going on would go away…just like that…if you could incorporate them into your runs.” I got a little nauseous and instantaneously felt sharp ghost pain sink down my calf muscles and into the heels of my feet. But I’m SUCH a heel striker. And I run on pavement. And I must wear socks…and…and…

Oh, quit being such a wimp, Theresa. Buck up. What would it hurt you to try the shoes?

As it turned out, back at home, I have this pair of barefoot sneaker already. They aren’t Vibrams, nor are they “toe” shoes, but a brand called Be Real. These were sent to me a few years back as part of a product review agreement I promised to the developer of the shoe. Unfortunately, they arrived in the dead of winter. Not good for Minnesota running. When I finally decided to give them a try, the dreaded “stress fracture incident’ arose. The shoes took up residence on a forgotten shelf in my office…until…this summer.

Be Reals are made to be durable, yet allow flexibility and traction, while still being able to wiggle your toes.

Screenshot 2016-08-22 20.41.38

And as fate would have it, I also had become recently inspired by a book I had been listening to on my runs through late June. It was called Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn.

In it, he talked about his personal experiences with the Kenyans and how he trained along side them to run a marathon in South Africa. He discussed in great detail how they run now versus how they ran as children, and how they run with the efficiency and the pace that they do, and if there are any secrets to running like a Kenyon. The part about their footwear had me hanging on a shoestring, quite literally. Sure, there was some barefoot running involved. But it wasn’t always that way. The barefoot part of their running happened entirely in their youth. It is how they learned their perfect running form, the staccato, light footedness that they carry with them for the rest of their lives. But as runners and racers, they do don footwear (in its most simplistic form). The barefoot running they did as children will always stick with them, and therefore, they in turn, run like the Kenyons that they are.

After hearing all of this, I was ready to try my barefoot shoes.  What did I have to lose?

I put them on, a few times, just to test them out around the house. I decided that this particular brand of bare foot running shoe needed a sock, which was a good thing in my eyes. Socks, especially Toe Sox, which are the socks I prefer to run in, mean less of a chance for blisters. I HATE blisters. I haven’t had a blister in a years. And I have to think it is because of the socks, as well as not straying too far from my two favorite brands of sneakers…Brooks and Newtons.

But once I paired the Toe Sox with the Be Reals, I felt like I stumbled onto something big. I was ready to give this a try.

My Be Reals

One mile. It would start with one mile. And it would be on the packed gravel road right off my driveway. No pavement, at least not yet. Let’s give this a go.

The run was surprisingly easy and unforced. It was far from speedy, but yet so natural. I couldn’t help but wonder why I waited so damn long to try these out.

I had a longer run planned for this day, so I carried my Brooks to the top of the driveway and changed them after the mile so I could continue on. I was amazed at how light and free my footing felt after I changed out of the barefoot shoes. This was epic.

For my next run in these shoes, I’d more than double my distance. And, the run after that, I doubled it again. After two weeks, I’d been running in them every other day. It had gotten to the point where I didn’t have to bring my Brooks Launch along to make the change for longer runs. I could just wear the Be Reals alone. It was then that I began to consider trying a pair of Vibrams.

But could I run without the socks?

Two weeks later, in mid July, I ordered from Road Runner Sports, three pairs of Vibrams, in three different styles. I chose Road Runner Sports because I have a VIP membership with them, and this allows me to test drive sneakers for 90 days before ultimately deciding if they are right for me. This is such a great perk! When my Vibrams arrived, I considered calling my chiropractor to find out which style he wore, but then I realized these were my feet. I’d better experiment myself to see which would work best for me.

Vibram V-Run

 

It didn’t take more than a few moments to determine that only one pair had a perfect fit. They were light and flexible, and had no obvious areas where I felt any rubbing, or places where chafing might occur. There was no question. I didn’t even have to take the other two pairs for a road test. It was decided from the get go. It would be the Vibram V-Run.

I was looking forward to my next barefoot run. Or so I thought.

It still took me a few weeks to work up the nerve to try the Vibrams. My thought? “Well, if the Be Reals are working so well, why should I risk it?”

Gawd, I’m a creature of habit. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let’s do this. So, three full weeks after receiving the Vibrams, I finally slipped them on…or toed in…or whatever one does with five finger shoes.

It took literally a half hour to get them on. Fitting each one of my ten toes into these shoes was a challenge. I was beginning to wonder if this would even happen.

My littlest piggie took the longest. I determined at the end that I had to start with that little piggie first and then work my way back up to my big toe to get the Vibrams to fit correctly.

Finally! Time to run.

Vibram Five Fingers

I brought my sneakers with me to the end of the driveway, just to be safe. And on this particular day, there were construction crews on my packed gravel road. This would not do. But I was determined. I was forced to christen my Vibrams on the pavement.

Honestly, though. It went way smoother than I ever anticipated. I managed to complete a 4-mile loop near my home. I took my time, of course. But, the run felt very good. It wasn’t until I removed the sneakers a few hours after my run that I discovered I did infact incur a blister on the upper knuckle of my left big toe, on the top of my foot. It didn’t hurt, but it was obtrusive. And I held back the urge to pop it.

When I ran the next day, I was able to get my Newtons on without any issue. In fact, between the socks, and the sneakers, and the run, the blister took care of itself. But, the following day, I couldn’t get the Vibrams back on. The top of my foot was irritated just enough to not allow it to happen. I was back in the Be Reals, so I could continue my barefoot training and wear my Toe Sox.

It took me a full week to get back into the Vibrams. And I belly ached the entire week, debating whether I should just sent the kit and kaboodle back to Road Runner Sports and call the entire experiment a failure. But, once I got those Vibrams back on, I realized I had already become quite accustomed to them. These sneakers would be staying in my rotation.

Yep, the summer began at my roots, running in my original Brooks Launch. I even tried a few rounds in my original Brooks Cadence, hoping for miracle upon miracle that something would help alleviate the sore Achilles. Deciding to return to the Newton Fates, coupled with the barefoot training, has done wonders and seems to have changed the situation. There is improvement. And that is good. But, I’m far from 100%. It is rather clear that I’ll need to stay the course, continuing with all of the exercises I have been doing, keeping up with the shoe rotation, and treating my feet and lower legs with the utmost of respect. After all, they are what will keep me running well into my 50s. So, I don’t want to piss them off.

Have you ever experimented with barefoot running? How did it go?

Lola’s Half Marathon – #Race Recap

I think we’ve all had those days…the one’s where you wake up and you just can’t get synced. It seems as though you are one step behind, or sometimes even one step ahead of where you should be at that particular moment in time. On this race morning, I was one step ahead.

I had already arranged to have my bib mailed to me. Like the Goldy’s 10-Mile run back in April, I don’t remember doing that. When it arrived in the mail, it was a bit of a relief because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to fit packet pick-up into my schedule. The weeks have been packed full with kid stuff, mainly. I really should just start a taxi service rather than make running charms. I’m thinking it would be much more lucrative.

MDRA Mississippi 10-Miler Birthday Run – #RaceRecap

Yes! My 50th birthday! I’ve been waiting…er…um…50 years for this! Ha ha! Actually, up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for my birthday. But then I had this need to run. What better way to celebrate my birthday than to go for a run?

I scoured the internet, searching for races on May 29th and as luck would have it, an MDRA event appeared! And it just so happens that I’m a sustaining member of the MDRA. So, for me, this race was free. Sounds like the perfect birthday present!