Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Croom Trail in the Withlacoochee Forest for my Birthday!

Saturday was my birthday.  John got me a cute little Sanyo video camera; I have been wanting something that's small and lightweight and easy to operate, to be able to spontaneously shoot some video of my grandson.

Also, for my birthday, John said we could do anything I wanted...  and mentioned going up to the Croom Trail.

Well, Croom is one of my most favorite places.  It is one of several tracts in the Withlacoochee Forest up in the middle of Florida, west of Orlando, northeast of Tampa (closer to Tampa).  I ran my first 50-miler there and many 50k's (see archives:  http://www.run2joy.com/search/label/Croom%20Trail).  But since my running has been so messed up, we haven't made the trip up there for years.

Drove up Friday afternoon and arrived at the beginning of the Withlacoochee Trail (a rails-to-trails asphalt path which people use mostly for biking) around 8 pm or so that evening, sat at a picnic table there and drank a bottle of David Bruce pinot noir while taking in our surroundings...   the moon rising, tall slash pines and big oak trees, an owl hooting in the distance, the stillness of the forest.  And lightning bugs!  South Florida does not have lightning bugs, so that was a treat!

We got a late start Saturday morning, which meant being on the trail at the hottest part of the day. (Mid-90's, full sun, 95% humidity!)  Oh, but it was glorious!  The smell of the pines, all the different bird songs and noises,  the greens of the leaves and grasses, and the blue, blue sky!

We chose the north side of the road, entering at the Tucker Hill Trailhead, to run first.  I started out before John, as he wanted to walk a while first, and ran a little more than three miles in, then turned around and ran back till I met up with John, and we walked the rest of the way back together.

I wore my huaraches both days on the trail and they were just great!  Didn't know how they would handle the soft sandy parts of the trail, but there was no problem there.  The only thing I had to be really careful of was watching for roots, and those are mostly at the entry points onto the trail.  Stubbing a toe hurts even with shoes on.

After a leisurely lunch (which we had packed beforehand and brought with us), we biked on the Withlacoochee Trail; only about an hour and a half...  John forgot his bike pants, and my back tire had a slow leak which we were too lazy to fix and so just occasionally stopped and pumped it back up.

Saturday, June 26, 2010, on the Croom Trail...  wearing my huaraches!

Sunday, we were on the trail before 9 am, the south side this time.  I ran about five miles in, took some video, walked awhile, ran another 2 1/2 miles, then walked the rest of the way in.  All in my huaraches.  I was in heaven!

If I ever get back to being able to do trail ultra racing, I just might wear my huaraches... :-)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Barefoot Running Controversy Continued

I just found more talk on Steven Sashen's site about the barefoot running controversy, that I didn't see before.  Steven's comments are really good.  Here is the link:  http://www.invisibleshoe.com/348/barefoot-running-is-bad-for-you/comment-page-1/#comment-128

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Barefoot Running Controversy

A few weeks ago I read an article by Matt Fitzgerald (http://running.competitor.com/2010/05/features/the-barefoot-running-injury-epidemic_10118) about the rise in the number of injured runners from running barefoot.  Matt quotes several podiatrists or physical therapists who say they are seeing an increased number of runners with foot injuries caused by barefoot (or nearly barefoot) running.  He also recounts his own experience with running in Vibram Five Fingers, becoming injured and quickly returning to regular running shoes.  The podiatrists/PT's basically say that most people need a shoe that helps them be able to run, as most of us are not "born to run" as the popular book by Chris McDougall contends, but are biomechanically disadvantaged in some way.  Matt ends the article pretty much agreeing with the opinion that running barefoot is not for everyone, or even most of us.

At the time I was entrenched in shower/event preparations (see last post), but I have been thinking a lot about this, and since then have read other people's opinions on the matter also...

From the barefoot running blog I follow:  http://barefootjason.blogspot.com/2010/05/barefoot-running-controversy-wtf.html

And from Steven Sashen (Invisibleshoe.com):  http://www.invisibleshoe.com/442/hbo-real-sports-on-barefoot-running-right-or-wrong/, who comments on HBO's Real Sports feature on barefoot running.

    ...all the while continuing to run and walk in my huaraches...

A little background...

I don't (for the most part) do any running in my huaraches on pavement, it's mostly on the trails in the park, which are mulched over a sandy dirt with pine needles and other leaves in places.  (There are areas that the only way to get to the next trail is to run on pavement, but not many.)  I run about half of my runs in my huaraches; otherwise I wear Nike Frees or Nike Moires.  I walk a lot in my huaraches; I wear them for almost all my daily activities outside the home (I go barefoot inside).   I have been doing this since the end of April, so it has been approximately eight weeks.

As a kid growing up, I did A LOT of barefoot running/walking.

When I began running at age 37 I ran barefoot on the beach at least once a week...  until I couldn't run because of the hip--the hip disease that went undiagnosed for five years (see archives:  http://www.run2joy.com/2009/08/my-return-to-running.html) really messed up my whole hip/leg so that I have had to recover/rehab since then.

 ...and I feel that my feet are getting stronger and my hip/leg issues are getting better.

I want to interject here with something that happened a couple weeks ago.  John and I were on a long walk, which we do regularly.  I had made a pair of huaraches for him and this was his first time wearing them.  Now, this was very dumb of us; I don't know why we did it, except that John regularly runs barefoot on the beach and does these long walks in flipflops with no problem, so I guess we figured he would be okay.  He wasn't--got several blood blisters on the bottoms of his feet.  So at about two miles out from home, he decided he couldn't go any further, and I said I would run home and get the car and come back for him.  I had my huaraches on and took off running and...  something really neat happened.  It was an asphalt path; I started out pretty slow...  and then my form gradually changed, naturally.  It was different from my running on the soft trails in the park.  I felt I was running closer to the ground, moving over the road.  And I had no issues, no pain.  It was such a nice little run!  It was only a couple miles, and I haven't tried it since then, as I was in Wisconsin just after that, running in shoes; I think I will need to work up to it again.

Now, I want to say that I greatly respect Matt's opinions; he's a scientist and I believe he bases all of his writing on evidence as much as he possibly can.  I have quite a few of his books; presently I am reading his Racing Weight and a book he co-wrote with Brad Hudson, Run Faster From the 5k to the Marathon.  In his Brain Training for Runners, he praises running in minimalist footware; he tells how he trained, "...as much as 60 miles a week in them...  and far from creating any problems of their own, these shoes clearly helped prevent injuries that my previous shoes were contributing to."  He says that (at that time, I guess), he also ran in Vibram Five Fingers, and that he is "...fully convinced that minimalist running shoes are less likely to cause injuries than conventional shoes..."   He qualifies these statements by saying that all of this "...has not been subjected to formal scientific evaluation."

In his recent article, Matt now says that, "despite easing into virtual barefoot running very slowly, I developed calf, ankle extensor and achilles strains immediately and could not quickly overcome them, so I went back to running full-time in running shoes."

The problem I see here is that he says that he "could not quickly overcome them..."

I have to agree that, of course, there are those who should not run barefoot or in minimalist shoes.  Many, many people have biomechanical issues that require special measures that enable them to run.  Many people have worn shoes all their lives, never going barefoot either walking or running, and should not expect to be able to run right away, or even after several weeks or months, in minimalist footware.  It could take many months or even years of building strength and changing tissue structure to be able to run barefoot.

But, even though I respect Matt's change of opinion (I think that it takes more courage to change your position based on evidence than to just stand by your position based on emotions), I think that, for those who can do so, running barefoot (or nearly) is the way to go.  I have seen my form change and my feet strengthened.  I don't know that I would ever go completely barefoot when running (things on the road--the "ew" and "ouch" factors), or race in huaraches, but rather use the minimalist footware as a tool to help my overall running.

And, of course, running in huaraches is a whole lot of fun!  Isn't that what it's all about anyway?

You just need to be patient and expect it to take as long as it takes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goals Revisited

I guess it was pretty silly thinking I should run a 5k.  My hip/leg still isn't right.  I am just so darn competitive when it comes to running.  Racing should be the last thing I am thinking about.

I have been lax on my yoga and strengthening exercises.  It always happens...   I get really involved in some project, in this case it was the baby shower for my daughter, and stop the exercise routine (except for running, of course).  Then I have a hard time getting back into it.  The baby shower was no ordinary baby shower.  We had 50 of our family and friends--girls, guys and kids--at our condo, in celebration of anticipating our new baby boy's arrival, the happy parents-to-be and other various children of ours flying in from all over.  It was great fun!

So...   my goal is to make sure I do my yoga and hip/leg exercises three times a week.  That's it.  Long range goal is to be healed by the end of the year.

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