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Posts Tagged ‘resolutions’

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Yes, it’s been a long time since I updated this. I took an accidental mega-break from the world of blogging. Partly because of the workload I had as the Christmas deadlines approached. And partly because I lack the self-discipline to sit down sometimes and just write.

But that is one of my new year’s resolutions! Despite the fact that I am about to commence my second placement in Manchester, with four hours of commuting time a day, and a whole load of new assignments and deadlines to contend with, I fully intend to get writing here again.

I’ve missed it.

I also have TWO races to write about. I would mention them here but my anally retentive personality prevents me from doing so, and I just have to document them in separate entries. But I will begin my return to blogging with a post about running.

Because, for Christmas, Santa brought me… *drumroll*…

 

 

…a pair of Vibram KSOs! Stylishly modelled in the above picture with the new cycling bib that Matt bought me.

Looking back at 2011, it wasn’t a good year for me where running is concerned. I started the year injured, and didn’t run at all for the first month and a half. I managed to build my training back up in time for the Kildare Half Marathon, where I knocked 5 minutes of my previous PB with a time of 1:31.05, coming in second place. Things looked promising. I followed it up with fourth place in the Leeds 10k, and began the early stages of marathon training for Chester.

And then shin splints struck. I had heard about this particular demon many times, and thought I was lucky to have escaped considering how quickly I had thrown myself into running from being a non-runner. Well, they caught up with me. I had most of the summer off, and just as I was getting back into the swing of things they hit me again. I was sensible enough to take nearly four weeks off before Christmas (and as a result, my performance at the Chevin Chase – the race which inspired me to get into running and which I had been looking forward to taking part in after a nasty cough stopped me the year before – was well below my usual standard).

During this time I started to look for solutions to my problem. The physio I saw over the summer was useless and had me returning week after week with no clear treatment plan. Maybe it was my shoes? But I know I’m a neutral runner, and they’re a neutral shoe, and they feel so wonderfully light. I didn’t want to spend money on another pair only to find that they weren’t right either.

And as Christmas was approaching, and my parents were asking me what I’d like from them, the idea crept into my head or trying out these crazy barefoot ‘shoes’ I’d heard so much about.

Of course, I’ve read Born To Run. And as soon as I’d finished it, I wanted to strip my shoes off and run down the street barefoot right away! Fortunately I was smart enough to know that it wasn’t a good idea. Having planned to look into this whole barefoot thing, I got sidetracked and carried on training in my regular shoes for another year.

Until now! I have promised myself that I will be careful, and ease myself in. So far, I’ve kept that promise. I’ve only run in them twice – the first run was 1.5 miles long and the second was just a mile. I’ve been running in my trainers, coming home and immediately changing into the Vibrams then heading out for an extra mile. I’m planning to do that again tonight.

So what’s the verdict? Well, it’s far too early to say. I plan to use this blog to document my transition to barefoot running, so watch this space! I don’t know what my plans are – maybe I’ll become hooked and transition to running only in my Vibrams. But I’m open to just trying something new. They might solve all of my problems, but equally they might cause a whole host of new injuries. I know they will, if I don’t take it slowly. I’m giving myself a whole year to get into them. I’m aiming to complete a full run in them by the end of the year. By full, I guess I mean anywhere from 7 to 10 miles. I’d love to be able to do a long run in them.

As for how they feel, they’re more comfortable than I expected. I chose the KSOs because they seemed the most popular for runners. Their sole is a little thicker than the Classics, but still thin enough to achieve the barefoot ‘feel’. They’re super comfortable. I measured my feet as 9 4/8″. The sizing guide suggests a size 38 if your feet are 9 3/8″, and a size 39 if your feet are 9 5/8″. As I was in the middle, I went for the larger size. It’s perfect. I have a little extra room in the toes but not so much that they don’t feel snug. I can easily forget that I’m wearing them because they just feel like an extension of me.

I had read up on them prior to my first run, and I knew to expect tight calves. They encourage a forefoot strike, and require you to use the spring mechanism that is naturally present in your foot. Of course the fact that I’m not used to using my feet in this way means that I have to take it slowly, and build up their strength. I actually found that I could still heel strike in them without too much discomfort. But I know this is the wrong way to run in them.

I also noticed that my stride was much shorter, and my cadence increased. This is all consistent with what I had read about them. I don’t know what my actual form was because I couldn’t see myself running, though it did feel closer to the Chi or Pose methods of running that I have read about. Instead of striking out in front of my body, my feet seemed to be landing underneath me.

I would love to wear the Vibrams when I’m not running, and get used to walking around outside in them. The only thing is, I feel self conscious! They’re attention-seeking shoes, and I’m not an attention-seeking person! It would feel as if I was trying to elicit people’s attention by wearing them, when in fact I’d like to wear them without anyone noticing. Maybe my confidence will increase with use though. I certainly intend to start going on walks in them, particularly in woodland areas where the ground is uneven.

I was actually a little disappointed that my feet felt so protected in them. I had expected to feel the ground more. Although I have only run on the road so far, and the one occasion on which I did step on a large stone I definitely felt it! It didn’t hurt, but I can imagine that trail running will really put them to the test.

 

Okay, time to get on with some more work. Still to come – two race reports and a recovery update!

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