Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Pendulum Effect

So life has been laughing at my attempts at writing a book lately, so I'll let that go for now. However I do have some new thoughts to share, as I increase my own training, and with an influx of runners lately (I call it the 'Boston Effect'- which fortunately coincides with tax time.)

Last running season for me was all about the minimalist movement. Reading 'Born to Run' capped three years of experimentation with barefoot and minimal shoe running, and made me a believer. I was able to finally find my true natural running form, something I had spent years looking for. Having previously been dependent on stability shoes to run, the pendulum had swung all the way in the other direction. Running was fun and life was good again..... right up until getting a stress fracture running in Vibram FF's on the road.

This season the pendulum has come back to a happy medium. I have been more focused on increasing my pace, hoping to improve upon some of last year's MOP results. I have still been incorporating barefoot running, doing my speed workouts on grass soccer fields near my house. If I had the time or inclination to build up sufficient skin toughness, I would probably do a lot more barefoot running. But I'm just a gringo living in a place with cold winters, so for most other runs I've been using very flat road (NB rc230's) and trail (NB 790's and just got some NB MT 100's). I still like Vibram's but will not wear them on the road anymore, and they don't provide enough protection to go fast on trails I run on anywhere but Pineland.

This morning's long run has really helped put things in perspective. I drove to Baxter Blvd. (something I hate doing, but oh well), hoping to run in Vibrams to get the best of both worlds: skin protection to run at pace, but still the barefoot feeling. After two laps however, I thought I started to feel pain on the top of my left foot, triggering stress fracture flashbacks from last year, and I thought, "Screw this!" and immediately took off the Vibrams (of course just in time for a bunch of unavoidable gravel and the bridge, all at 38 degrees.) As I had hoped, the skin sensitivity factor made me land a lot lighter and I did my last lap with no foot pain. It was fun, especially the looks you get (ranging from smiles to incredulity to outright disgust.) However, I had to slow way down, which kind of defeated the purpose of the run.

People develop certain views of the world based on their occupation. EMT's wear seat belts, E.R. nurses don't drive motorcycles, and insurance agents know that stuff happens. Based on my experiences I've come up with a new philisophy about my running. I'm training for Boston, for Western States, for Lake Placid...... 20 years from now. My point being, I still want to be healthy and in the game then, doing the things I love.