Tuesday, 21 January 2014

These Feet Were Made for Running(!?)

I've already touched on the fact that I never used to understand runners or the running mentality. Other than short runs trying to catch a bus or my train, I don't think I've run since my schooldays, and even then, they were the days where I'd forgotten to get a note from my mum to say I wasn't technically allowed to run because of my knees (subluxating patellae).

Today wasn't a c25k day, but whilst I was walking on the treadmill today I decided as an experiment, to see how long I could run slowly for. Now bearing in mind this week's longest run periods are 3-minute stretches in the c25k programme, I was expecting to do 4 minutes comfortably. Surprisingly, I ran non-stop for 6 minutes and could have gone further if I'd had more time: after the initial few minutes I just seemed to settle into a comfortable routine. Compared to my c25k 'practice' session on 30 December, after which I had incredibly painful DOMS in my calves and hamstrings which made getting up and downstairs... let's say interesting, I'm completing sessions now without any pain whatsoever.

One thing I've not mentioned yet (although any astute runners may have noticed from my choice of footwear), is my running style.

I spend a lot of time barefoot or running around wearing socks, flat slippers or flip-flops. Even in the office, I only ever wear my heels when I'm collecting guests from Reception or in meetings - other than that I pad around the office in my tights. :)
Like many people, I bought my first pair of trainers off the shelf from a discount store as I didn't see much point in spending loads of money on something I wasn't sure I'd really use. They have big air-cushioned heels and felt really lightweight compared to the skate-style trainers I'd usually worn. The problem was, I felt really unstable in them when I started to do weights last year so I started looking around for alternatives and came across the barefoot (or minimal) running technique (I plan to discuss the science behind the technique at a later date when I can consider myself a little more experienced).

From my initial research, it is apparently common for experienced runners to encounter problems when transitioning to a barefoot style due to the use of different muscles as they adopt a midfoot strike, landing on the balls of the feet (as opposed to a more common heel strike). However because I am most comfortable when not wearing a heel, and would be starting from scratch, I decided to jump in at the deep end and train myself in the barefoot style from the start of my c25k programme. Furthermore, because barefoot-style is lower impact than a more traditional technique, it should be easier on my knees and joints - this has certainly seemed to be the case for me so far.

Now I'm not saying that barefoot or minimal running is for everyone, because it isn't, but for me, I've actually surprised myself with how I'm easing comfortably into it. As I mentioned above, I plan to write more about the technique when I've had a bit more experience with it, and also to review the two makes of minimal running shoe that I use now. Keep an eye out for them :)

Today's Workout:
Rowing (moderate, 30 spm) = 5 minutes
Cycling (Level 5-9, 85-90 rpm) = 15 minutes
Walking (brisk, 3.8 mph) = 9 minutes
Running (slow, 4.9 mph) = 6 minutes

Shoes: Vivobarefoot Breatho
(Still awaiting replacement Minimus ones)

1 comment:

  1. An interesting idea to start from scratch in minimalist shoes. I'm a heel striker, although have gradually been training myself away from it as I've started to build back my miles since my injury in November. I'll definitely be interested to see how you get on. :)