Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Barefoot Mile Number 58 -- All Systems Go!

I stuck with the new increased 2.75 miles today.  It felt like a piece of cake.  Now I've got one more run before I try out that 5K I'm signed up to do with my family on Sunday.

Cold Pavement
It's getting chillier.  There's a wall along the sidewalk I run on.  In the summer, running in the shade from that wall was a relief from the heat.  But now it's cold on that section.  I ran on the part the sun was shining on to warm my feet a little.  Daffodil, my dog, was able to stay in the shade, which she prefers.

Fall is an interesting time for a barefoot runner, I'm noticing.  The little trees are dropping all kinds of little nubby things -- seeds and leaves and little prickers.  The light of the sun is shining at a different angle that kind of makes it a little harder to see.

Effect of Last Night's Kung Fu Sparring
I could definitely feel it in my legs as I warmed up the first mile today.  We had sparred last night at Kung Fu. I had taken a little summer break from Kung Fu (a couple of weeks) and have been getting back into it.  But on top of that, I have not sparred much.  I don't like sparring and I sometimes forget to bring my sparring gear.  I prefer to work on the forms and learn the self defense techniques kind of as a solo discipline.

Well, we kept changing partners last night and one of my partners was a "circler" making our little pair go round and round.  He was punching and I was defending.  I was trying to stay "bladed" in a kind of forward stance, but I'm not that well versed in any kind of footwork, so I was just moving around any way I could figure out how to move around, while concentrating on keeping my arms up and blocking punches.

I could feel as I was running this morning that my legs had been tense and had that extra roundabout workout.  I mostly just tried to relax.  In fact, the barefoot running mentality was present and affecting my sparring last night. I was way more aware of tension and I just knew the answer to good reaction times was going to be relaxation.  In fact the more I focused on relaxation last night, the better I was at deflecting the attacks.  Yay, barefoot running for teaching me to be looser.

Daffodil Problems
Ever since Daffodil was a puppy, I've taken her along with me for my runs.  I think that dogs need regular vigorous exercise to stay healthy and there is no one else in the house who's going to do this for her, so I've got to take her with me.  The added challenge of dog management sometimes feels like a burden to my running.  I've tried to just accept it and take it as another aspect of my form to juggle and figure out.  I really love running with her, but she's a high energy breed and very small and wants to go faster.  I gaze longingly at those dog leashes that attach to the waist for hands-free running with your dog.  But I have not been able to get her to just run along with me nicely.  I'm afraid if I get one of those hands-free leashes she will be all unwieldy and run in front of me and trip me.

Actually, on the way out she runs with me nicely.  She runs right by my side, to the right and a little behind me.  The leash is slack -- in fact I can hold it lightly with two fingers.

It's when we get to the corner where we turn around that we have problems.  Ever since she was a pup, once we get to the turnaround, she gets very excited and wants to start sprinting home.  She pulls on the leash and it's that way all the way (for about a mile).  I am very insistent that she stay by my side still, but I'm doing it by force and I'm holding the leash tightly, and it affects the relaxation of my arms, and they don't get to swing as naturally.  I have even speculated that this problem may have contributed to getting plantar fasciitis last year.

Well, recently -- the past two runs -- this excitement at the turnaround point has escalated and she now barks in a high pitched bark and jumps up on me very excited, like when she invites another dog to play.  The first time it happened, I was taken aback and not sure how to handle it.  I just put my knee out so she couldn't springboard off of me and I just ran until she calmed down (a couple of hundred yards).

But people were looking at me and it looked like I did not have things under control.  Because I didn't have things under control.

Well, today at the corner, she did it again.  Uh-oh -- I thought -- this is going to be hard to break.  Today my strategy was to stop every time she barked and stand still and completely ignore her and refuse to proceed until she was quiet.  Each time I started up, she barked and jumped again.  I had to do this several times.

A man jogging with his very calm dog passed me.  People who have calm well-behaved dogs usually steer clear of dogs that don't look like they're in control of themselves.  I know because usually things are going somewhat well with my dog and I don't like passing the really hyper-excited ones because they can be unpredicatable.  It killed me to be out there in my bare feet with this hyper looking dog.  But I had to live with it.

As usually happens, she calmed down once we were underway for the journey back, but I'm concerned about this development.  I didn't like stopping running when it had been feeling so good.  Once I get to that corner I'm pretty warmed up and have a good rhythm going.  But if I don't stop and figure out how to solve this turnaround dog problem, it could get even worse later.  Gotta' nip it in the bud.

First Person Encounter
On the way out I ran into yet another mom friend (another experienced runner) who was out walking her baby.  This was during my barefoot walk prelim.  She mentioned the bare feet.  She expressed her concerns about the dirty stuff on the sidewalk and how that prevents her from giving barefoot running a try.

I know -- I told her -- I read about this for 8 - 9 months preceding and just wouldn't try it because of that very reason.  That's why I bought the Vibrams first.  I only took my shoes off to learn the form better and get the feedback from the soles of my feet.  I haven't put my shoes back on since.  You know the story.

She told me that she has a friend who has been running all her life and knows everything about running.  Her friend's mother even owned a running store.  I mean, how much more running a person can you be than that?  Well, this friend has -- after running all her life and now in her 60s -- developed knee problems.  Many people are telling the friend that she should try barefoot running.  The friend responds something like "Hey, I'm old.  If it was the shoes, it would have happened long ago."

When my mom-friend was done telling about her running friend, I agreed with her that someone like that probably knows what's happening with her body.  Yet I do think that it might be worth a try.  I mean, what does she have to lose really?  If it works -- great!  She finds a way to run into old age.  If it doesn't -- c'est la vie.

Second Person Encounter
Towards the end of my run I passed the guy-who-had-been-running-with-calm-dog (mentioned above) on his way back.  By now Daffodil was running nicely by my side, so I was glad to get another chance to look competent.  As the guy-with-dog runner passed he smiled and asked "How's the barefoot running working out for you?"

I called out "I love it!"

He said, turned around and running backwards because we had already passed, "Did you read Born to Run?"
"Yes -- and I even got to run with Chris McDougall!"

Well, he gave me the thumbs up and then we were too far apart to continue conversing.  But it just seemed like one of those nice moments where you feel somewhat cool, rather than clumsy and dumb!  Gotta' have a certain number of those moments in life too!


Barefoot Neil Z said...

Great work! You are doing amazing. Always take the time to look back at your progress and celebrate your achievement!

Forward Foot Strides said...

Sweet on the mileage increase, and good luck on your upcoming 5k!