Archive for June, 2010

And I’m back in the saddle! Kinda. Short run tonight (1.94 miles) due to lots of thunder and a new iPhone that didn’t want to cooperate with Runkeeper.

Tried a new route tonight. Found that, even though I’m only 5 runs in, I was already training myself as to when I “had to” walk on my route. Give me a new route, with completely different visual cues and I discovered I was going a little farther between walk rests.

I was psyched at first because the rate/pace indicators worked and let me know how far along I was. But I really wish that Runkeeper had a 15 minute option. Every 5 minutes is just too much distraction. Also, I don’t know if it’s the new phone, or the way it was sitting in my pack, or Runkeeper, but I had major problems on the last half of my run keeping my music going. That and Voice Control kept breaking in trying to do…what, I don’t know. I’ll have to do a bit of research once the Runkeeper site comes back online.

Speaking of, they’re going through a service upgrade over there, so no run link tonight (edit: fixed!). Other than the aforementioned playlist problems, the app works great with iOS 4. Multitasking is perfectly implemented.

Oh yeah, the one positive thing to come out of my music problems was the discovery that “I’m On A Boat” by Lonely Island is the perfect pace song. It’s hysterical, steady, and has just the right amount of mock outrage (it’s also foul – not for sensitive ears, m’kay?). I should know since I got to listen to it 5 times in a row.

Only three days till my beach run! Hopefully there will be less lightning bolts to dodge!

Did something to my instep at karate last night, so I’m going to take the night off.

This is in no way an excuse to eat pizza, drink beer, and play with my newly-delivered iPhone 4. Not at all.

See you in a day or so!

Post-run: Soaked and Loving It!

Well apparently a few thunderstorms and a 20 degree dip in temperature are what it takes to get me really going! Missed karate tonight and was determined to do something, so I pulled on the Bikilas and headed out despite the rain. Didn’t have any gear tonight since I didn’t want Noelle’s iPhone or iPod to share the same fate as my poor pool-soaked iPhone. It was actually nice – there wasn’t anyone out because of the weather, it was considerably cooler than normal, and the rumbling in the distance created a nice mellow soundtrack. I took the time to really listen to my stride, since I didn’t have any other distractions. When I’m really getting things right, I barely hear myself hit the ground at all. When the wheels start to come off, that’s when I get the wet slapping of my whole foot hitting. I also tried to change up my technique; lifting my feet with my knees, rather than pushing off with the ball of my foot. I’ve seen it described in a few places and thought I should give it a shot. It helped considerably and I was able to shave ~3 minutes off my pace (the temperature helped a lot too).

I noticed that I didn’t have any of the bone-jarring landings that I’m used to when running. Granted, I’m fairly certain I’ve been doing this all wrong for as long as I’ve run; but running “barefoot” forced me to take notice of it. My heels don’t have the cushion to absorb those kinds of landings, so as soon as the horizon starts thudding and vibrating, I know I’ve got to adjust quickly.

Minimalist...and filthy

So 28 minutes, 2.1 miles later, I came back soaked, dirty, and ready for more. A note on the Bikilas – they performed perfectly in the rain. I was concerned that they would tighten up in the wet, but the material they’re made out of stayed pliable. And they kept great traction – even on wet grass, I didn’t worry about slipping even once. I’m hoping for more rainstorms soon!

Well this morning’s run turned out to be an interesting one. I got the Bikilas in the mail yesterday and I’m already a fan. You put them on and, standing still, you feel fast. Once you get going, you forget the shoe is there at all…until you run through terrain that has twigs or rocks or other sharp bits; then it just feels like you’ve got a nice protective layer on the sole of your foot. There’s still a substantial amount of feedback – if there’s something jagged or something that’s not going to easily yield under your foot, you feel it; not enough to hurt, but enough to know that you need to react.

Aren't they pretty and shiny? We'll take care of that.

So this morning, I threw on my new Bikilas and was ready to see what kind of difference they made in a regular run. Like I said, they performed exactly how I hoped – they didn’t get in the way and kept my feet protected at the same time. There was a bit of rub on the Achilles from the loop pull, but that will work itself out after a couple of runs (or with a bit of hacking of my own). Nothing else chafed or rubbed. Think armored toe socks and you’re not too far off.

The surprise 5K came into play when I was nearing the back half of my run. There’s a gravel road near the front of our neighborhood that I’ve driven by for years, always wondering where it went. Well this morning, looking for a little bit of surface variety, I figured “It runs parallel to the main road, I’ll just see where it comes out…” About 5 minutes later I was in the back end of neighborhood I didn’t even know existed! By the time I got myself to a road that looked familiar, I’d already chewed through another mile and was right back where I started…which was a mile from the house! Considering the longest run this week was two miles, I was slightly dismayed. So my pace took a hit and by the end, my feet were dragging (another benefit of the Bikilas, when my foot inevitably drags, it’s the sole of the shoe taking the hit, not my foot; but it’s still enough of a jolt that I correct right away and start picking my feet up again). 15 minutes later and I was finally back at the house looking at my first (incredibly puny) 5K time (give or take .1 miles)!

Not so shiny now, are ya? Ya damn smug shoes!

So I really got to put the shoes through their paces (har) and learned that one should possibly consult a map when when one has a freaking GPS in their phone. But overall, it was a positive experience – looking forward to getting out again (next week, though – I need to give my legs a rest!).

A Conundrum

Posted: June 18, 2010 in Shoes
Tags: , ,

If the Fates smile on me, my Bikias will be waiting for me when I get home today!!! WOO!

Alas, I’m also giving blood in about 45 minutes…guessing that running as fast as I can for 2 miles in my shiny new shoes is one of those “strenuous activities” that they want you to avoid.

Sigh. Guess I’m “giving my muscles a rest” today, then.

After a bit of advice, I thought I’d change things up this time around and stick to the grass more (though not always – there are times where the sidewalk just looks safer). I knew I was in for more of a challenge – this being the second time out and my calves were still recovering from run #1, and I had a karate Fit class last night that killed my glutes, and…um…two pieces of sausage pizza kind of fell into my mouth before my run?

At any rate, I hit the road (grass, whatever) dragging. I did manage to improve slightly on my pace (13.16…woo); but the less regular surface proved to be a lot more work to run on than I was expecting. Easier on my feet, yes, but grass hides a lot of hazards. The benefit of going barefoot was that I could quickly adjust (though the twigs in my neighborhood apparently have it out for my instep!). I can see where doing this on soft surfaces is an improvement, but I still need that layer of protection if I’m going to make barefoot(ish) a regular part of my training. Luckily I tracked down a pair of Vibram Bikilas and they’ll be in the mail to me tomorrow! Woo!

I can tell that my stride needs work as well. I’m still wanting to hit hard with my heel and tonight, when I didn’t have the adrenaline of doing it for the first time, and my muscles were fatigued, I kept on falling back on that. I’ve read some interesting articles about kind of “falling forward” into your stride when you’re going barefoot and I think that, after I take a few days off, I’ll give that a serious go.

I did have one really solid moment towards the end of the run where the Season 2 theme for Buffy the Vampire Slayer kicked in and I decided “When Buffy is on, no matter how tired I am, I run.” That gave me the kick I needed and got me moving when I was fairly convinced that I was done for the night. Now I just need to figure out how to string those moments where everything clicks into a cohesive battle plan!

So a successful run, yes; but it’s definitely going to take some work to keep me going strong! Thanks for the support guys (and the song suggestions – they helped tonight, a lot!).

While I wait for the Kool-Aid sipping iPhone faithful to get offa my daggum internets so that I can pre-order the new iPhone, I thought I’d give a quick rundown of the app I mentioned in my previous post: Runkeeper.

I hadn’t been planning on buying the Pro version, but it turns out the Free version doesn’t work with iOS 4 (I have an early copy of the OS, so it’s my own fault). One click later, I had the $10 app up and running (har). While $10 is a lot for an iPhone app, it’s cheap for a running computer, which is what this is meant to replace. It uses your iPhone’s GPS to determine route, pace, and distance. Heart rate can get on there as well…but since I don’t have a heart rate monitor, I’m not sure how.

Simply put, it works. I told it how long I wanted to run for (you can also use mileage as the workout setting), what music I wanted to use (hence my request for playlist suggestions), then I clicked the green button and ran! The only issue I encountered during the run was that my music was too loud and I ended up drowning out the time notations (which are every 5 minutes…I’d prefer less frequent updates, but apparently that’s not an option, pity) so I had to wrench the phone out and check to see how long I’d been out for.

It’s when I got home that the oooh-ahh factor kicked in. My wife eagerly looked over my shoulder as I flipped through minute-by-minute stats on my pace, showed my route on in-app Google Maps, and pulled up a nicely rendered display of my overall pace, time, and distance. All of this is uploaded to the Runkeeper website automatically where you can keep track of your runs, set up routes, and do all kinds of automated sharing via Twitter and Facebook (which I won’t bombard y’all with…yet).

I’m looking forward to using it on a regular basis, as it clears up one of my biggest issues with outdoor running – knowing how far I’ve gone. The pacing calculation is great too and I see that helping me as I mature and try to even out those peaks and valleys. If you have an iPhone and you carry it with you on your runs, grab the Free version of Runkeeper and try it out (they’re virtually the same except on the Pro version the GPS is a little more refined and there are no ads). I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.