Running Isn’t Painful-It’s Just Uncomfortable!

Running On Healthy

“I would like to run but it is just too painful for me.”  I hear this all the time.  Too much actually and it is time I take a stand!  The people who are saying this have it completely wrong, well sort of.  Painful, by definition is not the right word.

Pain: Physical suffering caused by illness or injury.

You probably feel like you are physically suffering when you start running.  I will give you that much.  But if you are suffering from an illness or injury, you shouldn’t be running and you need to stop blaming running for the problems.

Uncomfortable: Cause or feeling of slight pain or discomfort.

Hmm, sounds a lot like the start of about 90% of my runs, and the others are just flukes.  Running isn’t painful, it is uncomfortable.  When you use such drastic terms you are doing yourself a disservice and psyching yourself…

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Just another funny day

I don’t know what to make of myself today. I ran this morning before breakfast and later I sort of put together bits and pieces of things I still haven t found the time to do.

Starting day, large to do list and not the least intention to begin, just scrolling and scrolling through clipboard and twitter, looking for news and something to think about. I’m seriously considering buying online a pair of five fingers Seeya although I already have the Treksports and the Bikila ls
I would if I didn’t think it better to try them on first.

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I m tired of winter and socks and boots. I want to go for a walk with my favourite Levis a T-shirt and my bikilas. Maybe grab my vespa and take my girlfriend somewhere nice.
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Maybe I should stay in and study though. So many things I would like to do and none in particular. What do they call this state of mind? Apathy? Boredom? I refuse to have a state of mind. I just want to feel alive and free while I m living. Sorry about the philosophy ( if it can be called that way). Happy run fellas!

Quick Feedback

Just one comment: Today I was finally able to do a 45 minute run with my fivefingers. My legs feel strong and though my ankles and my calves were a bit stiff they have already recovered from this morning. I wouldn´t eel better if I had run in any other shoes. I guess transition has not only started but is much advanced. I ´m really excited at how fast I´m getting used to them and hope to do even better in the future. Could this really be the point at which I switch to fivefingers never to return again? 

Fivefingers on the treadmill

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  It´s been rainy lately and the road I normally use for running is full of bumps and puddles. Not that I mind them but they are less than perfect for my transition to fivefingers. In other words, today I decided to take my training indoors and I found out a couple of things.

First, that the treadmill is far better than asphalt or even hard soil for running. My body in general reacted better to this surface and at the end of the 40min continuous workout my muscles felt way better than after a 20 min run on other types of surface. I have to say I was surprised. After reading for years that treadmills are horrible machines on which only a few muscles are exercised thus weakening ankles and knees and setting the path to injury my whole body was feeling much better than the last few days. 

Secondly, the treadmill has proven invaluable in helping me figure out the best running technique. Let me explain. When running outdoors you get a lot of ground feedback. That is, your feet get the full experience of the ground surface. On the treadmill there is not much feedback to be received, except, of course, your own feet´s  . As I was running at different speeds I could tell exactly what part of my sole was touching the ground first. I could hear the thumping sound of my feet and tell if I was absorbing the impact properly with my muscles or if I was loading my knees too much. Finally, I was able to feel how the design of my treksports ( maybe not the best model for treadmill but the only one I have available as of this moment) helped me touchdown with the famous ball/midfoot stride. 

Just one more thought: As I have already shared with you on some of my other articles the faster I ran the better my running technique got. I don´t mean to say you have to half-sprint all the time but to be honest even though  increasing my speed meant shortening my training I am sure my legs will thank me for it.

I know that many of you may think there is not much point in running on a treadmill with shoes that are specifically designed for running outdoors and get in contact with the real world. I normally would agree with you. I love feeling the earth and the grass beneath my feet. But you must understand that not all of us get a chance to run through leaf-covered paths and autumn-coloured woods. My conclusion is that treadmill is extremely useful for getting to know your running technique and helping improve it. Maybe when my feet are more adapted to minimalist running I won´t feel such a big difference.

HIIT TRAINING WITH VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS: DAY 2

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It´s been three days since my first go at implementing my vibram fivefingers into HIIT training and it was about time for day 2. The truth is two days ago I went to the gym with a friend from work and couldn´t resist bringing my treksports along so tried them out at the treadmill for the first time too.

As you know, my training consists of ten minutes warm up running, five minute HIIT and then another ten minutes cool down. This may seem soft to many of you but you must consider I am in a state of transition to minimalist shoes and it´s a lot more than it seems.

First consequence of today´s training is that my legs weren´t fully recovered from last time so the training began with some muscular stiffness. This stiffness felt a bit funny at first, specially because it took me three or four minutes to figure out the right pace and stride. HIIT went pretty well, same as last time. It´s as if vibram fivefingers were designed for sprinting rather than steady running.

Lastly the strangest part: As I was feeling pretty well I decided to stretch the last bit of running to fifteen minutes. It seems the more tired I was the more difficult it was for me to maintain the right posture thus making different muscles in my legs work harder. The feeling I got was that my legs were working in a totally assimetric way no matter how hard I tried to make my effort homogeneous. The result: I feel I ´ve stressed different muscles in each leg.

Overall I think I will recover from this run much faster: My calves aren´t even half as loaded as the first time but I know I still have a long way to go. See you on day three!

Fivefingers Night Running

I don´t know about you but I usually run at night. Except on weekends, I have to find the time either early in the morning ( let´s be honest you won´t see that very often) or just before dinner. Not long ago my girlfriend and I adopted a hound-type dog called Ami and taking her out for a walk has turned into sometimes taking her out for a run. She seems pretty happy with it

As many of you know running at night has it´s risks. Don´t worry I won´t talk to you about proper lighting or avoiding roads. All those problems remain the same no matter which shoes you desire to wear. I want to bring your attention to the main problem I have to face when I go out running: Small stones

When I say small stones I mean stones not so big that you can actually step with your whole foot on it and not so small that you can step over them without even noticing. I love my fivefingers, I think they´re the best shoes in the world, but the truth is no matter how perfect the design of their sole may be , or how resistant their material, every now and then I step on a stone that will make me jump.

These stones are to be found everywhere. Roads, streets, even on grass fields. I used to live in the vicinity of a golf club and sometimes at night I would run with my fivefingers through the soft grass, feeling like the first man on Earth must have felt. You can´t even imagine how that feels unless you´ve done it before. Well even then I would stumble from time to time on a small stone. Those little bastards are all over the place.  

No counselling this time, just sharing. Whenever you find yourself running at night and step on one of those blessed small stones just remember me and know that you ´re not alone. Happy run!

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Rest day: Some considerations

Although yesterday when I finished running I was feeling awesome this morning when I woke up my legs and buttocks felt tight as hell. Given the present situation I have decided to take a rest and allow my muscles to recover.

 

I ve been doing some research on the difference between trailing models and urban/asphalt models to see if there was much of a difference in design. The truth is appart from having a slightly thicker modified sole to increase grip and reinforced structure all five fingers models are pretty similar.

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That makes me wonder whether using fivefingers with a thicker sole may be better for transitioning to barefoot running. I used to have a Bikila model and I get the feeling that it was much harder on my feet than my current treksport model. I am not an expert but if you are planning on transitioning I would definitely suggest a trailing model, that is, if you intend to use it for running. Just talking out of my own experience though, could be different for others.

 

So, my mission for today is to fight off the urge to slip into my fivefingers and let my feet recover. Tomorrow I will resume my 25 minute training and see how it goes

Personal fivefinger story

 

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Two years ago I spent a month working on shifts. I would work from 2200 until approximately 0700-0800 on the next day. As soon as I finished work I went to bed and slept through the morning till lunchtime. Unplugged from my friends and my family it was at this time that I started running with minimalist shoes.

The first few times were painful. I would run for half an hour and my calves ached for a couple of days. After two weeks I finally started getting used to it and felt how my legs were growing stronger. The reason I left after one month of training was that I started to feel intense ache in the balls of my feet. Not wanting to develop plantar fascitis I stopped running for a while and abandoned minimalist running

I never really gave much thought to it anymore. My vibrams remained in the closet under a pile of shoes and months passed before I remembered where they lay. I tried to use them a few times afterwards but I couldn´t see the point of risking an injury when everyone said they were supposed to be good for your health.

It was clear that transition had to be very very slow. It was also clear to me you couldn´t make that transition when starting to train. Starting from a certain leg strength was paramount. Finally if I wanted to succeed I needed to really want to. This meant switching to minimalist shoes once and for all. That´s what this blog is all about.

Day 1: HIIT with vibram five fingers KSO TREK

For a couple of years now I ve been trying to switch to minimalist running shoes. Sometimes my training ended up in injuries, sometimes it just got uncomfortable and I quit.

Enough of that though. I have spent the last few months training hard to achieve a better running condition using conventional asics shoes. My legs are strengthened and I am positive this time I will succeed switching to minimal shoes.
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These are my vibram fivefingers treksport. The only reason I chose this model was its slightly thicker sole designed for running in non paved roads.

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I decided to start interval training with the result of swapping my 45 minute to 1 hour runs with 25 minute trainings consisting of a 10 minute warm up run, 4 minute HIIT and another ten minutes of cool down run. Since the routine is much shorter I expected it to be softer on my calves and so it was.

Today I was careful not to push myself too hard as it was my first day but I didn’t need to. As many of you will know by now minimalist shoes equal calf loading and eventually calf pain. During the first ten minutes I focused on proper running technique: landing softly, absorbing impact with my muscles, shorter strides etc… This worked out OK.

Surprisingly enough the HIIT (high intensity interval training) consisting of 8×20 second sprints with 10 second rests in between, which I thought would be the most demanding part for my feet was actually not hard at all. During sprints the foot naturally lands on the ball thus being the perfect training for using minimal shoes.

Lastly during the 10 minute cool down run I started feeling the familiar calf pain associated to these shoes. I was careful to stretch properly and though I still feel some soreness I consider this first day of training as successful. Let s hope tomorrow will be even better.