Monday, July 26, 2010

Knee Pain Nonsense

Today my sister sent me a link to her friend, Carla's, blog MizFit Online.  In this blog she writes about finally running 1/4 mile in her Vibram Five Fingers.  First of all, I say yay for her! I never thought myself a runner until I bought these shoes, now I'm a total convert preaching the good news of *almost* barefoot (aka minimalist) running every chance I get.  Anyway, I read through the comments and am always amazed by the misconceptions of barefoot or minimalist running.  Now if done improperly, sure, one can have injuries, but that's with anything.  However, we are really meant to run without thick, padded, spongy shoes, people!  They ruin your body.  I am living proof that the transformation from thick running shoes to thin running shoes is beneficial.  I used to have pain in my left knee and in my lower back because of running in thick padded shoes and I don't have that pain anymore.

So, running isn't the problem, it's the shoes and the technique.  This has been said before, but if you're so skeptical, run down the block/street barefooted and tell me how your foot lands... go on... do it... done yet?  That's right!  You don't strike with your heel first.  It's the last thing that makes contact with the ground.  So why is it that shoe companies - I'm looking at you Nike - make these ridiculous "high heeled" running shoes?  It has something to do with some doctor in the late 1970s in particular who thought the way people were running naturally wasn't natural, thus the padded heel was introduced, thus more injuries from running were introduced.

Like anything, running barefoot, or almost barefoot, takes practice.  I read in Born to Run that running is no different from any other sport where you have to learn how to do it properly.  Most people don't just pick up a tennis racquet or a baseball bat knowing exactly what to do with them, you learn by practicing.  The same goes for proper technique in running with minimalist footwear.  I know I have tons more to learn about how to do it properly, but I think I'm well on my way already.  The descriptions I've read to the videos I've seen seem to be how I'm moving, but I won't know for sure until I go to a clinic of some sort.  I'm waiting for Barefoot Ken Bob to get back from his nationwide clinic tour.  I'm looking forward to running on the beach with him and really learning how to run completely barefoot.

Anyway, I thought I'd never say these words, but I LOVE RUNNING! I think it's time for me to stop blogging and get out there to take advantage of the cool, cloudy morning we are having in late July.  See ya!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ahhhhh, Los Angeles Asphalt Welcome Home

Tonight was the first time I've had a chance to go out for a run since being home on Wednesday evening.  And I decided to do it after a night of drinking, dancing and general merriment.  Translation: hungover.  But as I've discovered, running is good for what ails me.

It's beautiful out there tonight, warm with a full moon on the rise.  The best part? No bugs, no humidity, and no allergies!  As much fun as I had in Minnesota, running there with those conditions kind of sucked.  And imagine running in the winter - egads!  No thank you!  I'm pretty partial to California, I think I'll stay.  Being home feels good.  Vacations are great, but they do have to end.  Luckily, I get to live in a state that has perpetual vacation weather, perfect for being outdoors and hitting those trails, asphalt or otherwise.

I finished Born to Run and although I really liked the book as a whole, I found the end to be kind of anticlimactic.  I've learned so much about the natural state of running through that book and through many websites.  I preached the gospel of *almost* barefoot running to anyone who would listen, including my dad who was intrigued by my froggish footwear.  I'll never be an ultramarathoner, hell, I'll probably never be a marathoner, but I totally dig feeling that ground under my feet even if it's only for 2-3 miles at a time.  I marvel at my shapely calves every chance I get and relish the feeling of strength in my feet and ankles.

I'm rambling a bit tonight, feeling kind of aimless.  A good night's sleep will fix that.  So with that sentiment, I must hit the shower and crawl into bed with a book.  Goodnight!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Romanticizing the Run

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm reading Born to Run, which is a fascinating true story of a race organized by a man named Micah True, otherwise known as Caballo Blanco, in the Copper Canyons of Northern Mexico.  This is the home to the running people called the Tarahumara.  These are people who run, just for fun, hundreds of miles.  Not only are the Tarahumara involved in this race, but a whole cast of characters of ultramarathoners from the United States that, in my honest opinion, have a screw loose somewhere in their heads (but that's not necessarily a bad thing).  With that being said, I am totally in love with these people.  They are fascinating to me.  I know I could never run a course as treacherous as the Leadville Trail 100 in the Colorado Rockies or the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley... in July, but I am completely enamored by those who do and actually complete them.  

I think why I find the ultramarathoners and Tarahumara so fascinating is the fact that they are so connected to their bodies, but more than that, their mental capacity to keep pushing themselves to the absolute limits is amazing to me.  I feel so wimpy barely running 2.5 miles and whining about the humidity and allergies in Minnesota.  I know a lot of my "stuff" is mental and I'm trying to get beyond that.  I have had great runs where I feel like I could run forever, but lately, something is blocking me.  Excuses: the sun, the humidity, my lung capacity, blah blah blah... they torment me.  I want to be present and in a meditative state when I run and I'm not finding it these days.  Don't get me wrong, I still like being out there, feet to the ground, breath in my lungs, I just wish it would be a bit more magical.  That's where the romance of ultrarunning comes in.  The capacity to even be that present, to have that determination is something I would like to have to even do 5k.

So, runners out there, what are your tricks to get into (and out of) your head when you run?  How do you attain your running nirvana?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Running, It's Good for What Ails Ya

I took a brief hiatus from running as it's seemed that I've developed an allergy to something since coming to Minnesota.  I thought I'd never miss the smoggy skies of Los Angeles, but I do since I'm not allergic to anything there.  Anyhow... I stopped running because said allergic reaction has been in my throat and lungs, making it difficult to breathe.  I decided enough was enough and went out for a 2.6 mile walk/run yesterday - I ran half the distance, I walked the rest.  I did cough several times during the run, but overall, it was great.  I honestly forgot how getting my blood coursing through my veins actually makes me feel good - duh!

My question is this: if you have allergies and they are not controlled completely by medication, how do you deal with your symptoms to be able to run or do any other kind of exercise?  I'm very happy that I will get to go home and not have this reaction any longer, but I could have lived without any allergies whatsoever.  We can add allergies to the list of things that are not endearing me to Minnesota when it comes to running.

I'll be back, L.A. asphalt...