June 24, 2011

Run Barefoot Girl Interview

I had the pleasure and honour of being interviewed by Run Barefoot Girl's Caity McCardell a little while ago. Caity has completed her editing magic and posted the interview recently. It was definitely weird for me being on the other end of the microphone questions. I probably could have gone on and on, however, as we were talking about my favourite subjects: minimalist footwear and natural running.

Here's the link to RBG Episode #6.

For those not familiar with Run Barefoot Girl, it's a website and podcast dedicated to 'celebrating women who run barefoot.' It's DEFINITELY worth checking out!

June 23, 2011

Long Review - Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200

Seeing as my last post mentioned that I ran the 5 Peaks race in Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200s, I thought I'd link to the long review I recently wrote for these shoes.

Here's the link: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/06/review-inov-8-bare-grip-200/.

It's so great to finally have a pair of minimalist shoes with phenomenal grip. I have literally landed on my butt several times in either mud or snow because the shoes I had didn't have enough traction on slippery surfaces. The Bare-Grips are fantastic for traction. I have yet to find mud too slippery to slide in with these shoes and I've gone looking for it! It rained here for a week solid and I still couldn't find mud to slip in.

After the initial disaster of running in them without socks (and, oh yes, I still have the scars), they've been totally awesome. Running in the rain is such a pleasure again. And passing people on the race course who couldn't get traction: AWESOME!

June 21, 2011

Ghosting the 5 Peaks Canmore Sport Race

I've been volunteering at almost every 5 Peaks Trail Running Series race in Southern Alberta (although the website calls it 'Central') for the last 7 years (I took a few races off during 'the year of pain' aka 2009). This past weekend was the Canmore Nordic Centre Race #1 and I was volunteering again at the registration table.

Some years I run some races, some races I don't run any and just volunteer. Although I wasn't sure about being able to race the almost 6 km loop, I thought I'd ghost the race (run the course without a race number). I'm so glad I did because it was such an awesome course with amazing weather!

I started the course two minutes after the last people passed the start line. I was at registration until after the first wave of runners went through and then I got to use the washroom (finally :) ) and change for the race, hence the late start. I ran in my inov-8 Bare-Grip 200s because I knew the course was muddy in sections (my spouse had set the course markers the day before the race).

I couldn't see anyone ahead of me when I started so I was all alone in the beginning. After the first dip and corner, I saw my spouse course marshalling, I gave him a quick kiss and went in search of other runners. It wasn't long before I caught up to some race walkers and passed them. Then it wasn't long before I caught up to the tail end of the last wave of runners. We were in the trees by this point so I called, "On your left" and passed them, too, and finished with a "Thank you." Then I repeated these words for a good 10 minutes straight dodging trees and runners. I thought I passed about 50 people during the course of the race but it was closer to 100!

I very recently started wearing a heart-rate monitor again when I'm running. I found that with the new running form, my heart rate goes pretty high and I've been trying to keep it between 155-170 BPM on training runs. I wore it for the race for my time and to keep an eye on my heart rate. Sometimes it goes into the 190s when I'm racing and I didn't want to run THAT hard this time.

Turns out I ran the course in exactly 41 minutes. According to the results, that would have placed me 135th overall out of 238 runners. The only reason why I was curious about where my standing would have been is because when I used to run these races (back in 2008 and earlier), I placed no better than 5th to last EVER. Therefore, my conclusions are thus: either I can run faster now (kudos to Lee Saxby for teaching me the new running form) or the racing crowd at 5 Peaks has grown much bigger and therefore there is a broader range of runner speeds, or both. I don't care which, really. It was AWESOME to run that course and very motivating passing people as it really hasn't happened to me that often in my racing experience.

In addition, the Bare-Grips were an AWESOME shoe for the race. I had absolutely NO problems with grip or traction on even the slipperiest, thickest mud. One guy even said to me, "Those like like cleats, they're performance enhancing." To which I replied, "No, they're just shoes." I saw another racer wearing the same shoes and I asked her how she likes them and she said, "They're fantastic." I couldn't agree more.

So it was an incredible day overall. Long but still incredible. We woke up at 4:30 AM and wasn't done race stuff until 5:30 PM. It was a great course. Running was amazing fun and I had a smile on my face the whole time!

June 15, 2011

Powderface Creek Trail Hike and Run

Yesterday I hiked/ran my first mountain trail of the season. My spouse, my dogs, and I ran the 12 kilometre Prairie Creek and Powderface Creek Trail Loop.

There was a lot of uphill walking but tons of flat and downhill running. I wore my VB Evos with only 4 mm of sole and it was awesome! (I can't imagine hiking in conventional hiking boots anymore.) The Evos had just enough grip for all the uphills and flats, although a little more might have made me feel better about bombing down some of the steep downhill sections (bring on the Neo Trails coming this fall!). But there were no falls or slips so YAY! There was a ton of mud and creek crossings, too. The trail reminded me of my Death Racing days.

I'm only mildly sore today, mostly in the quads, and not at all in my feet. I'm pleasantly surprised by how strong my feet felt yesterday and how great they feel today.

Here are some pics:

June 7, 2011

My First Living Barefoot Coaching Clinic

Yesterday, I hosted my first ever Living Barefoot Coaching clinic. It was an Introduction to Natural Running clinic and was held at Trailblazers in Cochrane, Alberta. The format was a two-hour lecture on the biomechanics and skills of running, motor skill milestones for natural running, and exercises to improve the skills of running. I worked on the slides for about a week before I was happy with the presentation. I provided demonstrations of most of the exercises (and I do all of them almost daily) as well as videos of my current running form (it's not perfect but it's a good starting point).

I think the clinic went well. My audience seemed enthusiastic at the end about what they'd learned. I was a little nervous at first; it was my first presentation to an audience in six years. I videoed the clinic so that I can work on its delivery for future presentations. I also made a little movie (my first movie ever) of the introduction to the clinic. I'm a little nervous about sharing it but here it is anyway:

The Sweat Collective Workout #3

The latest Sweat Collective Workout asks the question: What fuels you?

For me, that answer is both simple and yet complex, that being: PASSION.

It's my passion for the quest of pain-free movement that fuels pretty much everything I do. After being so broken in body as to be horizontal for the better part of a year with motor and sensory nerve dysfunction and a great deal of pain, the drive to become pain-free in general and to move again pain-free was not only necessary for my physical health but my mental health as well. That drive is fueled by passion. That passion translated into a near obsession (using the word 'near' might not entirely be necessary in that statement) of minimalist footwear because I can move in them without the pain I used to feel while wearing conventionally heeled footwear. It's the obsession for the minimalist footwear that brought me to write this blog and writing for Living Barefoot. It's researching for writing for these websites that brought me to learn about the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program and learning about appropriate biomechanics of movement. It's attending the Coaching Program that has taught me how to achieve good posture, what the skills of running are, how to improve these skills, and (most importantly) how to coach it to others. Now I have a new passion that fuels me: sharing this knowledge with others so that they too can be pain-free. #ENDURE

New Standing Desk

I like to keep this blog dedicated to 'barefoot adventures' but I think this piece of news qualifies: I (and my spouse) built a platform to convert my sitting desk to a standing desk. I think it qualifies because I'm barefoot most of the time while standing (unless the house is cold and then I'll wear socks :) ).

Why would I want a standing desk, you may ask? After learning the plethora of information on biomechanics, I learned how bad sitting is for humans. I have had bad back issues in the past (if you know me well, you might laugh at the understatement) so sitting has been a big problem for me. Standing just seemed like common sense.

Why didn't I convert to a standing desk sooner? Standing has a lot to do with good posture and I have had terrible posture most of my life. Therefore, standing was not very comfortable for me either. But after learning a plethora about posture and HOW to achieve good posture easily and without thinking about it (but feeling it), I now know how to stand properly (at least I think so).

So far the results have been a much happier back (and happier me as a by-product of the lack of pain) and somewhat more tired legs. I'm working on reducing the muscle action required for standing and balancing better but it is a process. My feet are a little more sore after standing for a long time but they are adjusting, too.

Here's a pic of the new setup (old desk, new platform):

VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra and Jazz Long Reviews

I've been crazy busy with Living Barefoot Coaching lately and have been lax whttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifith blog posts. I have finished writing the full-length reviews of both the VIVOBAREFOOT Ultra and Jazz, and they are both online on Living Barefoot.

Here is the link for the Ultra: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/05/review-vivobarefoot-ultra/

I've pretty much been living in my Ultras since I got them. They are so comfortable to wear. I usually don't like wearing shoes without socks (a habit forced by my climate) but these are so comfy to wear without socks. I've gone running in them several times without socks and love them.

Here's the review for the Jazz: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/05/review-vivobarefoot-jazz/

I love the casual look of the Jazz. Finally, I have a pair of comfy minimalist shoes that look good with or without socks!

My First Book Review - Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Not surprisingly, the first book review I chose to write was for Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In addition to being a great read, it's also incredibly inspirational, and been called a great 'impetus for the barefoot movement'. I (and the other participants of the VIVOBAREFOOT Coaching Program) received signed copies of the book. :)

Here's the link for the full-length book review: http://www.livingbarefoot.info/2011/04/book-review-born-to-run-by-christopher-mcdougall/