Yearly Archives: 2015

10K Milestone

To get to the finish line, you’ll have to try lots of different paths~
-Amby Burfoot

 I ran a 10K distance today, 6.20 miles and it felt great! I’ve not run this far in a long time.  I ran this far today, because I felt good. I had no pains, or anything that was hurting.

I like that I wasn’t sure how far I was going to run. I just set out for a run and let my body decide.  About 3 miles in, I realized I felt wonderful and I was going to run a 10K if I ran just a little more and then headed back.  I actually felt like I could have gone longer.

I’m still a little worried that something is going to give though, and I’ll re-injure my hip, if I push it too much.  I’m trying to just follow the guideline of not increasing mileage by more than 10% a week.  But it is hard- I’ll admit, as I’m feeling so good running.  But I’m determined to not overdo it and get reinjured.

As I was finishing up an easy 10K, it struck me, I’ve really done it. I’ve become a minimalist runner!  It took me about nine months from the first run I ever ran this way, to where it just feels natural and easy for me.  It feels hard and awkward now for me to run in traditional running shoes- I really don’t like running that way.  But running minimalist- I love it, and I’m adjusting to it where it feels like the natural way to run to me now.

I know I still have a lot to learn though and a lot of running miles ahead of me, to perfect my form. It will always be a work in progress.  I’m not sure I could run a half marathon minimalist yet, but I could definitely run a 5K or a 10K.  I’m thinking of signing up for a 5K to just to run it free, have fun and see how I do.

So this was a great run for me today. I’m knocking my goal down one mile at a time.  To think about running 26.2 miles- that is hard for me. But thinking I can run it a mile at a time- that is easier.  26.2 miles minus 6.2 miles leaves 20 miles.  That’s 10 miles one way and 10 miles back, and I’ve done that before. I will do it again- I’m getting there.  6.2 miles down, 20 to go!

(Note: While I was designing Running Free Blog, I was writing blog posts too as I started this process, but had no place to post them.  So for a while the blog posts will be a few weeks “retro,” until I run out of content and start writing “live” every week. This post was originally written September 7.)

Running Five Miles & Lessons From A Hawk

The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground~


 I’ve been slowly but surely, increasing my mileage running in my minimalist shoes.

I intended to run about 4.5 miles tonight.  I’m being conservative in building up mileage running this way. I went after work and it was just perfect running weather.  Late summer- dusk.  It wasn’t too hot or too cool.

I started off on the route I’m really liking. It starts as pavement, but I can run on grass on and off for a mile.  Then it’s more pavement and grass, and turns off on a trail, where I can run on pavement or trail.

I ran on the grass and pavement as much as I could.  I am noticing so much, how my feet just naturally know what to do and how to maneuver around any terrain, running this way.  There is really something to having your feet “feel” the ground.  It’s like I’m not just running- I’m connecting with everything around me by my feet.  I don’t feel everything of course, but so much more than I ever have.

I notice my toes shifting constantly too.  I’m not even thinking about moving them, but they do.  They will spread out on grass or trail more, compared to pavement. I would guess because they need to sense what is coming on uneven terrain like a trail, versus a smooth surface like pavement.

It’s like my toes are milseconds ahead of the rest of me. Tonight I *almost* fell in two holes I didn’t see in the grass.  But my toes instantly felt the difference and adjusted- that quickly. One hole, it was deep. My ankle turned slighty, but my toes were already grasping at the top of the hole, and even though I felt a little twitch in my ankle, I was able to straighten it out in milliseconds.  It was fine. I didn’t even miss a step.

I just couldn’t help but think, as I ran on, if that had happened in my regular shoes, I likely would have twisted my ankle. By the time my toes and foot would have realized what was happening, my ankle would have been turned too far in the wrong direction.  There is just no way in regular shoes, my toes could feel ahead of what was coming. They couldn’t- too much padding.  The shoes cut off that feeling from the feet and toes.

I feel like my toes are almost like antennas now- effortlessly sending messages every second to my body on what to do, how to step, how to maneuver, how to strike, how to land.  In almost 3,000 miles of running I’ve done in traditionalist shoes, I just never experienced that foot, ground, body connection.  I’ve experienced it now almost every time I’ve ran, and I’m only 12 miles into running this way.  It’s quite amazing to me!

I just kept running tonight.  It felt freeing and I had some things on my mind, but when I was running, I was just enjoying it all.  The sunset, the terrain, the marvel at my body, every last cell working together- even in advance of myself.

Pretty soon, I realized I had already 2.5 mi.  It felt easy. I was even wondering if I had really only ran 1.5 miles, but the Garmin confirmed what I had ran.

I headed back, knowing I’d have 5 miles if I ran the entire time. I hadn’t set out to do 5 miles, but it was the distance that I did, and felt good running tonight.

On the way home, I saw a hawk- it was soaring above me.  There was a lot of beauty in that- that hawk was just as free as I was soaring in the sky- he wasn’t thinking about wing span or flight times- he was just doing his thing, and letting the wind carry him.

That is how I’m trying to run.  And I’m getting better and better at it, with every run. Just letting my body take over, instead of thinking about it.

And I love it. As I finished my run, at 5.06 miles, it kind of dawned on me that I’m a minimalist runner now. I just ran 5 miles like it was nothing. I could have gone 10. I felt that good. That was the longest I had ever run minimalist, and I’ve ran “harder” miles at 2 miles before, than what the 5 miles had just felt.  I didn’t want to push it though, as I’m still transitioning to building up the mileage.

My calves are getting stronger and taking the brunt off my shins.  But it’s still a process and they need to build up to 10 miles steadily and regularly- not all in one night.

The most drastic change I noticed from running this way so far, was the morning after. I was kind of dreading it, truth be told.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve ran 5 miles and didn’t have something if not many something’s aching, hurting, tweaked, or sore.  The last time I ran 5 miles, I could barely walk the next day- I felt like I was crippled.

So I was a little nervous seeing what the next morning would bring- especially w my ankle- was that going to balloon up into a swollen ankle over night? Would my hip pain I’ve been battling since March come back? It’s come back when I’ve ran 3 miles.  I felt good, but I felt the uncertainly- maybe this would be my last 5 miles for a while- I could only hope I had no injuries lurking on the horizon.

I woke up early as I had my boys for the weekend. I didn’t even think about it as I got out of bed, and started my morning stuff. It was about 30 minutes of me walking around, doing things before I just stopped and thought “I have zero pain- nothing hurts.” I almost couldn’t believe it.  Where as I could barely walk before, after my last 5 mile run- not only did I not have any aches and pains, I felt like I hadn’t even ran!  My ankle didn’t even hurt!

I just had to stop for a minute and marvel and appreciate how wonderful our bodies are made. They know what to do.  My body can do this- I can do this.  I feel 20 years younger running this way!  The only thing I noticed later was one of my calves was just a little sore, but not in a bad way, just in a way like when you have a good work out and you feel it has been stretched a bit.  By the next day, that bit of soreness was gone.

So it was good I didn’t just abandon my training plan of “slow and steady” as my calf really would have suffered.  Before all this, I would have. I would have thought it would have made me stronger, and tougher.

I’m learning, sometimes taking it slow and respecting your body- that makes you stronger and tougher. It’s easy to just push your body to the max at times.  It takes patience, discipline, and mental forethought to respect your body and push it yes, but not punish it.

Just like the hawk I saw soaring. They don’t suffer through flying, really no animal in nature does.  A cheetah, doesn’t suffer through a run. A dolphin doesn’t suffer through swimming among the waves. A dog doesn’t suffer chasing its ball or tail- it effortless, and probably why humans love animals so much, because we recognize that pure joy in them. Shouldn’t we be able to do that too? Not focusing on results, but just on the pure joy we get from an activity we love?

I think we have lost some of those feelings in our society today. It’s more about results and winning versus the joy and fun in just doing something you love.

Many times I did push myself too far. I wanted to be good, I wanted to be fast. I wanted to beat my own times.  But I failed to see, by training this way, I wasn’t trusting the process- I wasn’t training and letting my body accumulate. It was “all or nothing” with me, and I paid the price with constant injuries and pain.

Running shouldn’t hurt.  No activity should.  It should be fun and your body should feel good after it- not like it aged you 20 years.

I’m learning the joy for me now isn’t beating my last time, but letting my body just run- and it is.  It’s been amazing.

I was happy to see when I downloaded my stats, my best pace for this run was 7 minutes. I’ve not disabled the timing on my Garmin. I do like seeing it after the run, but not during.  I don’t even see the pace I’m running during the run, only after.  I could NEVER run a 7 minute pace (I didn’t run that the entire run- it was just my fastest pacing) for any distance over 5 miles, and not have pain the next few days.

So I’m seeing the progress.  I started out thinking if I could run 5 miles this way, I’m on my way to running a marathon for real.  I just did that.  Next stop: 10 miles, injury free.  But for now, I’m savoring the 5 miles.  In some ways I wasn’t even sure if I could ever run 5 miles again and not have an injury or pain, but I just proved to myself I could.  I’m respecting my body and running and it is respecting me.  It is all flowing!

A marathon is 26.2 miles.  I just did 5.06 easy and injury free miles.  Only 21.14 miles to go!

(Note: While I was designing Running Free Blog, I was writing blog posts too as I started this process, but had no place to post them.  So for a while the blog posts will be a few weeks “retro,” until I run out of content and start writing “live” every week. This post was written August 28th.)

First Minimalist Run

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair~

Kahlil Gibran

I took my first “official” minimalist shoe run last night!

I received my Vibram Five Finger Bikila Evo shoes, the other day and ran a mile in them on the treadmill.  They felt great.  It really is amazing.

Wearing my new Vibram Five Fingers Evo for the first time!

Wearing my new Vibram Five Fingers Bikila Evo’s for the first time!

I’ve been transitioning for months, to the “barefoot/minimalist” method.  The first time I ever ran this way though in my regular running shoes, I ran 3 miles, and I could barely walk- let alone run for over a week.  When your legs and feet are used to running with a “heel strike” in heavily padded shoes, you can’t just make the switch instantly.  So I’ve been running in my less padded shoes, aiming for a forefront strike most of the time.

I think that is why the transition is going so well for me. I’ve been transitioning since last December to running this way, in my padded shoes.  But with the Vibrams,  I felt like I was flying. I ran on a combination of pavement, grass, and little trail.  I was running at almost sunset. I chose a trail with a lot of grass. I ran mainly on the grass.  I started to feel the moisture from the grass under my feet. Like I *was* running barefoot- free, and easy, and not a care in the world- like a child. I realized it has been that long, since I’ve felt the grass under my feet, while running.

I couldn’t help but think- that is sad.  It’s been at least 3 decades since I’ve ran like this. It felt so good- so natural, and yet, it’s been 30 + years.  My kids, don’t run like this anymore, and really who does?  But this is how we were meant to be- free, easy, joyful- feeling through our feet, while running through the grass.

I noticed I was smiling- I wasn’t even trying to smile but I was.  This is what I had been hoping for- that feeling of just not caring if I was running faster, but just having the fun and the looseness with running.  I heard my feet hit the pavement. And it was light-and quick. I’ve improved so much in just a week. I didn’t hear my feet hitting the pavement with heaviness, and I didn’t feel it in me. I felt light- and quick.  I saw my feet leaving impressions in the grass.  When I was running back, and still saw my footprint impressions in the ground- that’s what running is about.  Running past yourself- always improving.  We can always become better than we were- even if it was just 10 minutes ago passing yourself in the dewy grass.

I ran two miles and I had absolutely no pain.  I am not tracking my pace, but when I downloaded my run, the Garmin still records pace. My fastest pace was 6:50.  I did that on a good day in my regular shoes, so while I’m not basing any of this on stats, it felt like it was a little nod that I was on the right track- my first minimalist shoe run, for two miles and it was easy and fun, and I’m still able to hit my “normal” fastest paces.

I absolutely love running this way so far. The day after, I had zero pain- no hip pain, no shin pain, none of the “normal” aches and pains I have after running.   I’m planning a longer run- maybe 3 miles on Saturday with the Vibrams. I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing and run and have fun- taking it easy and light.

I had a moment though- I rarely run into anyone running.  But a woman passed me on my return run home.  She wasn’t running that much faster than me.  I had that few seconds where I thought about trying to catch her- not because I wanted to show her up, but because I wanted to see if I could catch a strong runner- she was about 10 years younger than I , and was running well.  If I had not been on my first run, in minimalist shoes, I might have really tried to catch her.  I think I would have. I would have pushed myself to catch her.

But this night- I let her go.  It’s more important to me now to train smart than trying to push myself to the max, to catch a runner. She may be a sprinter and was doing a fast run. I don’t know.  I like I still have that- there is a place for pushing yourself and making yourself better- that time is coming- but it wasn’t tonight.

I used to think there is always a runner to catch.  But now it’s more important I re-learn running and I know, without a doubt, I’ll be catching runners soon, when it isn’t even my goal. This is a good lesson for me.  The only person I have to “compete” with is me, and I’m not competing with myself. I’m improving myself- as a runner and a person.  I can let that runner go- where as before, I would think I had to catch her no matter what. What I thought I was achieving- speed- came at a cost with injury and a lot of soreness the next day, and the next day after that.

I am building myself up to take the stress of running when it really matters- and it won’t be to pass someone else on a training run or a race- it will be to show me, I can be better than I thought, in that moment I don’t think I can. It will be for me, running at my best- just for me.   And that is running- pushing yourself when you have to- but appreciating that you can.  We don’t run to measure ourselves against others- we run- I run- to show myself I can be better than I was- and better than I thought.

That is the beauty of running- passing your own footprints in the dew soaked grass-passing yourself, feeling the “earth delighting in your bare feet”, better than you were, better than you thought- running for yourself, chasing who you are becoming…

(Note: While I was designing Running Free Blog, I was writing blog posts too as I started this process, but had no place to post them.  So for a while the blog posts will be a few weeks “retro,” until I run out of content and start writing “live” every week. This post was written August 21st.)

The Beginning

(Note: While I was designing Running Free Blog, I was writing blog posts too as I started this process, but had no place to post them.  So for a while the blog posts will be a few weeks “reto,” until I run out of content and start writing “live” every week. This post was written August 13th.)


It was not like the beginning of a journey; it was like the beginning of a dream~ H.G. Wells

I ran today after work. It was hot- in the 90’s- I came home and thought I’d relax a few minutes and let it cool off.  I ended up falling asleep!  When I woke up it was almost 8PM, the sun was setting, clouds had rolled in, and it had cooled off a lot. So it was perfect running weather (well perfect for August) for me.

I don’t have an “official” training plan. I’m not going to get tied to trying to hit certain distances and paces.  I suppose my only real plan is to just run as it feels good to do so, and keep gradually increasing my mileage.

As I started off, I was paying attention to my form. I am making the transition to landing on my fore foot.  I ran again with no socks in my shoes.  It felt easier tonight- not so weird.  I’m noticing I do feel the ground a bit more and my toes can spread out in my shoes, making the fore foot landing much easier to do almost all the time.  My feet don’t feel as confined.

It’s funny- I have a rip in the side of one of my shoes.  My beloved The North Face Kilowatts, the first pair of semi-minimalist shoes I bought a year ago, when their light weight appealed to me. They have been to date, the lightest weight shoe I’ve owned. Running them always felt great, even though they had less padding than I was used to. (must be something to that.  😉  )   The tear, a few months ago, this would have bothered me and I would have thought I needed new shoes. But these shoes really are comfortable for me- they have over 200 miles on them and they feel like they are just getting broken in.  So I’m going to keep them.  My toe may have a little extra dirt on it after running, but a little dirt doesn’t bother me.

About half a mile into the run, I turned off my music.  I just felt like I didn’t want to run with music tonight.  In my first year of running, I was training for the Army 10 Miler in Washington DC.  One of the requirements for that race, was that you could not run with music.

So I started weaning myself of music and it was really hard. I hated it at first. I’d do a mile at a time, and I did eventually build up to running 10 miles with no music.

Something odd happened though- even though I didn’t like running without music, I actually started running faster. My pacing was faster every time with no music and I was faster just naturally during the miles I wasn’t listening to music than when I did.

With no music, you are forced to listen to yourself. You hear every breath you inhale and every breath you exhale.  Instead of a song keeping a beat going for you (consciously or unconsciously), you start to regulate your own rhythm and timing. Your pacing and breathing work together and gets even in more sync and you are running in tune, like a perfect symphony.  As I built up to 10 miles of no music, I started to like running this way.  I never ran in the race though, and I stated running with music again.

I honestly think tonight has been the first time in almost five years, I’ve ran without music.  I didn’t miss it tonight.  I’m not a newbie to running without music, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.

I listened to my feet hit the ground and the dirt on the country road I was running.  Big, puffy, rain clouds were in the sky, the sun was dipping behind the mountains- it was a gorgeous August evening.  And then I heard a rumble of thunder.  Nature was giving me its own music. It kept thundering, and a breeze started up. It cooled me off right as I was climbing a hill, and it was just perfection. I was in total rhythm with my breathing, running, and the elements outside.

This is what I’ve been missing. How wonderful, really on the second run I’ve gone on, since I decided to “run free,”  I have such a great time!  It is fun to run this way.  It was hard running the other way I have- it felt like work- all those years.  This feels like play!

I wondered how many times I have missed this, because I was too “plugged in” running to the beat of music, instead of to the beat of my own breathing? How many times have I missed the tunes of thunder, or the sound of a breeze whistling by my ears?

I realized too, as I was running, that I run loud. As in I make a lot of noise landing.  My feet hit the ground too hard.  In “Born to Run” part of the advice given was to run “easy and light.” I can’t even remember the other 2 elements, because I want to master these two first. I definitely am not running light.  I never really noticed this before.  As I heard my feet pounding down, I couldn’t help but wonder if that is a reason I always end up with running injuries? But with music on all the time, I could never hear the force I’m landing with.

No time like the present, to make the correction.  I focused on the rest of the run, just landing lightly. And for me to do that, it required me to land even more on my fore foot than I had.  I didn’t want to overdo it running the whole run like that, because the first time I ever ran more than 2 miles on my forefeet, I couldn’t walk for 5 days!  It’s definitely a process to ease your body into- not force it.

I noticed too at times I didn’t feel like I was running easy. It felt like work. Old habits die hard and my eyes would immediately go to my Garmin. But I’ve taken the pacing feature off it.  So I didn’t know how fast or slow I was running.  But since it was not feeling easy, I slowed down and that allowed me to land even lighter.

I ended up running 3.15 miles tonight on dirt, pavement, and grass. There were hill climbs too, so I got a good workout in. I discovered though my Garmin still keeps track of the pacing.  I thought it wouldn’t but when I download the run to my computer, it’s there.

I’m going to have to think about this. I really don’t want to see my pacing while I’m running and I don’t.  Maybe seeing the time and pacing after the run, will be a tool for me. But maybe I don’t want to see it at all because then I will become focused on pacing. I like the idea of not having any idea of my pacing at all, and just letting my body figure it out.  So I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that yet.

The best part was the thunder and then it started lightning at the end of the run.  Just as I got back to my home, it started raining.  Not a lot, but just enough to cool me off and feel refreshing.  I learned so much tonight in just 3 miles.

Running was perfect tonight- just as it was.

The beginning.