Monday, July 30, 2012

The Joys of Jet Lag!

I woke up at 4 a.m. today, feeling oddly refreshed because my body thought it was 10 a.m. (Germany is 6 hours ahead of EST).  I did stay in bed for another hour, because it's just uncivilized to be up before 5:00, especially when you don't have to work!  After that, I enjoyed a healthy breakfast, surfed the web, changed and was at Burke Lake before 8:00. It's a pretty run, one of these days I'll take some pictures and share them.

Image Souces:

I have been putting off running at Burke Lake until I was sure that even with a walk/run I wasn't going to hurt myself.  Today I threw caution to the wind and to paraphrase the Nike commercial I just did it.  The circuit around the lake is about 4.5 miles, and I completed 4.75 miles in 60 mins.

Progress Report -
  • Walk 5 mins (approx. .25 mile)
  • Run 11 mins 
  • Walk 5 mins
  • Run 6 mins 
  • Walk 5 mins
  • Run 6 mins
  • Walk 5 mins
  • Run 6 mins
  • Walk 5 mins
  • Run 1 min (end of the loop)
  • Walk 5 mins
Total mileage - Approx. 4.75 miles

The entire circuit including the walking averaged out to a 12'37 pace.  It's kind of tough to judge distance on my running segments.  I'm sure my first run was faster than average, but I'm also sure my walks stayed about the same as they always do.  Factor out the walking (1.5 miles) and this leaves me with about 3.25 running miles in 30 mins.  If I had maintained that pace for the entire 3.5 miles, my pace would have been about 9'13 per mile.  Much better than the 11 - 12 min pace I've been hitting on my outdoor runs.

Of course, that's not even close to what happened, but it does highlight the value of walking if you need to, clearly my energy stayed up because I used fast paced recovery walks in between the running segments.

No foot or calf pain before, during, or after.  Surprisingly, the big challenge today was walking. I really had to pay attention to avoid falling into heavy heel strikes.  I did this by keeping my knees soft and my steps under my body - instead of long strides reaching out in front of me.

All in all, a great way to start the morning!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Today is Sunday, I have been traveling since Saturday.  It took me about 31 hours hotel to home, definitely not normal for a trip from Germany to VA, but an overnight delay caused by a missed connection will do that.
Image Source: Travel World Online

I have already picked up Rex the Wonder Dog, called my kids (they are visiting my Mom), been grocery shopping, and put my Vibrams on and hit the treadmill for a brisk walk.  Sad, I know.  Especially since I have only done strength workouts since my last running at all!

I simply didn't feel like it after all that travel, but I thought it was important to get into my shoes and do something.   I dreaded the workout I should be doing, but still wanted to be able to post and not feel like a total slug after two days of airports and planes. Mission accomplished (sort of).

Progress Report -  

Total Mileage - 4.5 miles

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another Catch Up Post

Today is Monday.  My last post (Wed) covered the joys of walking for 3 miles in not quite broken in boots and my first truly barefoot run.  You would think I would have learned a little something from that experience...and you would be wrong. 

Thursday I spent the day in my boots (work necessity), but did not walk 3 miles or run (blister on the right sole necessity).  Friday, I spent the day in boots, but that night I went out to a Festival in Herrenberg, very happy to do some minimal walking and wine drinking, but no running.  Saturday it rained most of the day, but I did find a short period where the sun broke through and went for a quick run WITH my Vibrams strapped securely to my feet.  No warm up, and a short cool down walk, because the rain cut my run short.  Sunday was a sightseeing day in Stuttgart, plenty of walking, but no running.

So, we're back to Monday.  Feeling good, blisters gone, wearing my super soft moisture wicking socks with my what do I do?  I go on another 3 mile walk, at a much faster pace!  Surely, my boots are broken in by now...right?  No.  I ended another day with blisters raising on the back of my heels.  This might be a good time to mention I have an above average IQ, but I'm not sure you would believe me.

Monday night, I did some casual walking into the city center of Sindelfingen just to have dinner and walked back.  No run, nothing touching the backs of my heels, and no other work out.  Not sure this Germany thing is good for my running, but other than foot issues, I am actually having fun.

Progress Report 
  • 15'37 run (approx. 1.5 miles)
  • 6'12 walk (approx. .25 mile)
Total Mileage - Approx. 1.75 miles

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ow, Ow, Ow, Ooooowwwww!

I don't even know where to begin.  You know I'm in Germany, but you don't know that I'm doing an Air Force Reserve tour and I wear combat boots to work.  Not normally an issue, as I have been doing that off and on since I was 17.  The problem is my boots are relatively new due to a change in the color mandated by the Air Force a few years ago, they used to be black, now they're sort of green, see...
Image Source:  Air Force Footwear site

Yesterday was a Rest Day, but some of the guys in the office walk during lunch, so I joined them...for 3 miles, in non-broken in boots.  The sore spots that developed on the backs of my heels were just the beginning, it gets better...or should I say "stupider" on my part.

Today was a gorgeous day, perfect for a run outdoors.  But my Vibrams sit right where those sore spots are, which, by the way are now raw after another day in boots.  So, what does a barefoot runner do?  She runs barefoot, of course!  Vibram-free, I hit the German sidewalks outside my hotel completely barefoot for the first time.

Germany is a very clean place, the sidewalks are swept and there isn't much litter, so I knew I wouldn't have to dodge rocks or glass, plus there is a park near my hotel.  I didn't do my normal walking warm up, I just walked out the door and started to run...felt good, very aware of my foot strike for obvious reasons, and I went for about a mile, then I knew I was in trouble.  My feet hurt!  My muscles were fine, but the balls of my feet felt raw...just the balls since my heels did not touch the ground once.  And to top it all off, I had to make it back to the hotel.  The walk took me about 15 mins and despite the smooth asphalt, I think I may have a blister or two in the morning to balance the sore backs of my heels.  Not a shining fact, I may have to re-title this blog "How Not to Barefoot Run"!

Progress Report -
  • Run 10'20 (appox. 1 mile)
  • Walk 15'07 (approx. .75 mile)
Total mileage - approx 1.75 miles

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday's German Blues

Image Source:  Wikipedia

I don't mind traveling, but I do mind rushing through airports and having my flight cancelled, I also mind rushing through airports to be one of the last to board my plane and sitting there for an hour.  I also mind arriving in a foreign country without my luggage.  Yes, it was one of THOSE trips.  The good news is I got here (as did my luggage about 6 hours later).

I left on Saturday, arrived on Sunday and went to work on Monday.  I did get a good night's sleep on Sun, so worked out Monday least I tried to.  If you had asked me, I would have denied being jet lagged, but apparently my body knows better than I do.  It was a low energy run and I had to break it up, not "opted" to break it up, I had to or I just was going to quit.  I imagine almost 24 hrs of travel and less than optimal food choices also added to the sense of not having enough gas in my tank.

The good news is the weather is in the low 70s here and the sun was out, so I ran outside!  The bad news is I had no clue about the area or the distance, so I was reduced to running around the block and switching up based on time.  But the best news is that I got out and did something...

Progress Report -
  • Walk 10 mins (approx. .5 mile)
  • Run 10 mins (approx. 1 mile)
  • Walk 5 mins (approx. .25 mile)
  • Run 7 mins (approx .75 mile)
  • Walk 5 mins (approx. .25 mile)
  • Run 5 mins (approx. .5 mile)
  • Walk 5 mins (approx. .25 mile)
Total mileage about 3.5 miles

Friday, July 13, 2012

Taking My Toes to Germany

Yes, I am! I have no idea whether the minimalist running trend is international, maybe I could be the first person to wear Toe Shoes in Germany, maybe in all of Europe!

This pic of a couple running in London sort of crushes that dream...maybe it hasn't caught on in Germany yet?
Image Source:

I'm going there for work and am planning to be a little more diligent with my running. Wish me luck!

Progress Report - Wed was a short walk/run/walk day, just 1.5 miles of running, Thurs was a night out and Friday was a walk on the treadmill day - 4 miles.  Sat will be frantic packing (yes, I should be doing that right now) and flying.
  • 1.5 miles - 15'00 (10'00 min pace)
Total Mileage - varied

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TMTS...Now What?

In my mind, I have been taking a fairly conservative approach to minimalist running, but a nagging foot twinge (I refuse to call it an injury) that didn't stop until I took a full week of rest from running, might argue against that belief.  

So, obviously you can't trust my advice.  Reviewing the many sites that discuss minimalist or barefoot running injuries and assuming that you haven't seriously injured yourself, the advice from Vibram's My Five Fingers site is this,  
"So if you push it too hard anyway, keep limber afterward. Don’t over-stretch damaged muscles; just keep moving. When you’re training muscles with strenuous loading, you’re actually tearing muscle fibers that you body then has to mend with scar tissue. Stretching muscles that are torn up just makes those repairs harder and slower. But keeping some gentle movement going will help flush blood into the muscles and help flush lactic acid out."

This seems to be the general school of thought for most muscular, for future aches and non-serious pains, my game plan is to not run or stretch through the pain, but to simply walk it out.

Of course, if you think you've overdone it, please consult with your sports medicine doctor.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Flat Feet is No Excuse

I don't have this issue, but know several people who do. So looking around, I found this Invisible Shoes blog post to share.  It's a couple years old, but the discussion is great for anyone (with or without flat feet) who is considering minimalist running.  

If you've read some of my previous posts, there isn't anything really new, but the comments after the post are very interesting.  Two flat footed people claim that barefoot running led to the "creation" or improvement of arches.  Scanning the blogosphere, there are some other anecdotal claims of the same phenomenon, but no actual study that I can find.  

This 2012 post on Dr. Gangemi's blog indicates that arches can be strengthened if the patient has "flexible flat feet" which apparently is the most common type (not caused by specific injury).  He is a chiropractor, not a podiatrist, but in the section titled "Natural Prevention and Treatment of Flat Feet" this doctor says "...running while barefoot is the ultimate way to naturally and most effectively strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg and foot."  From my non-medical perspective, this makes sense, because babies start out with flat feet and develop arches when they start walking.

Image Source: 

So, if you're not trying minimalist running because you have flat feet, you may be missing out on exactly what the doctor ordered!

Progress Report - Another day over 100-degrees here in VA, so after two Rest Days, today was another treadmill run.  Starting to worry a bit, because I haven't done any "real" running in a few weeks.  My warm up was the usual 1/2 mile, followed by a 2 mile run and a 1 mile cool down.  No issues, twinges, or weirdness, except for a moment when I though I was going to fall as I leaned right to see who was calling....maybe they make some sort of seat belt for these things...

  • 2 miles - 20'00 (10'00 pace)
Total Mileage - 3.5 miles

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Yes, I'm still here and I'm still running!  These last ten days have been interesting, incredibly busy, fun, nostalgic (my son is leaving for college all too soon), stormy and flippin' hot!

I have been doing various Run/Walk/Run combos (rarely back to back) - anywhere from .5 mile to 2 mile runs for total distances of anywhere from 3 to 4 miles.  The bad news is it has been all treadmill.  The great news is that my feet don't mind at all.  No returning twinge!  My calves don't mind either.  Although from time to time that tendon that goes down the back of my heel to my foot has been weirdly tight in the mornings, but normal walking around takes care of it.

Distance wise, I'm not where I planned to be at this point in the game.  I should be doing a solid 2.5 miles for the main run.  I'm still a little gun shy about adding distance, so have just kept it comfortable. I have about 12 weeks until my 10k, so I should be fine.

Progress Report Today's run was another treadmill run. The warm up was .5 miles, followed by 1.5 mile run, .5 walk, .5 run, .5 walk.  Since I was on the treadmill, my pace was steady (#6 on my NordicTrack) at a 10 min mile.  Nothing unusual to report, which is a good thing.
  • 1.5 miles - 15'00 mins (10'00 min pace)
  • .5 mile - 5'00 mins (same pace)
Total Mileage - 3.5 miles

P.S.  I don't think I've made this clear before, but I do other things besides run!  Light weight training, hula hooping (don't laugh!), stairs, and I just started a push up/sit up challenge following the example of Monica, a local VA woman on Facebook.  You can find her at  Like her page and you'll get motivation and inspiration in return.  Sorry, no free gifts, but really what is better than motivation to get your butt in gear???

P.P.S.  Happy Independence Day!