Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 2,332: A five-fingered flight test

I've owned a pair of Vibram Five Fingers running shoes -- you know, the ones with the funny-looking toes -- for several months.

Today is the first time I've done any kind of running in them.

As a runner who has run every day for the last 6-1/2 years, I've been interested in reading about the barefoot running movement. Although when I've thought about doing it myself, I'd always think, Ouch! Wouldn't that hurt?

Today I was prompted to try running in these shoes for the first time, after my checked luggage disappeared on our trip home from Rochester. Inside were my Nike Air Pegasus+ 29 shoes. All of my older shoes, including my last pair that I ran in for nearly 700 miles, I've long since donated.

Yesterday I ran in my old Solomon trail shoes. I would have run in the Vibrams then but my kitty Forrest has a way of moving shoes around the house.

Anyway, I've talked to people who run in Vibrams and I've done enough reading about it to know that you can't run the same way. Traditional running shoes allow you to strike the heel of your foot as you run but Vibrams are made for the ball of the foot.

In recent months, I've noticed that I may not be a heel striker at all. I find myself many times striking the ball of my foot first.

It's a more natural way of running, proponents say, and can keep people from developing running injuries.

Yet how would this affect someone who runs day in and day out and never gets injured?

I was about to find out.

The first thing I noticed is that I started out with shorter strides. My running stroller seemed almost too fast for me down the first hill. And it felt like I could pick up every rock that I ran on.

I made a concerted effort to not strike my heel and after a while I felt like I got into a good groove as I entered Piedmont Park. It sort of reminded me of running in flip-flops. My legs definitely felt less encumbered and I felt like I was flying along my regular running route.

Around mile 2, the inner sides of my feet started to chafe from the stitching, which wasn't very comfortable. And I could tell that as I got tired, I wanted to cheat a little bit by striking my heel.

With my feet irritated, I was only about a quarter of a mile away when I must have stepped on a piece of metal in the sidewalk. It wasn't really pleasant.

I ended up at home after my 3.5-mile trial run. Later on, I could tell my right calf muscle was a little sore but that wore off later on in the day.

My impression of the shoes is that they definitely are novel and felt good in some instances. But for someone who can run day in and day out without worrying about the wear and tear, I think I'll stick to traditional shoes.

Time: 8:40 a.m.
Temp: 72.6 degrees (96 percent humidity)
Gear: Short-sleeved T (Carolina), shorts, Vibram Five Fingers.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day 2,314: The power of Ingress (for running)

It's been a while since I've updated, so I thought I should write a post about what I've been up to.

Last month I crossed 2,300 consecutive days of running! It's nice to know that's still happening. Today, and more recently, my runs have focused on the Piedmont Park area, where I can get a good run with baby K. in the stroller and gain some points in Ingress, Google's augmented reality game.

Basically you get points by either setting up or destroying virtual "portals" which are typically located at historic or public places. There's a few in Piedmont Park and a bunch in the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

So it makes it quite easy to run down the hill into the park when there's some work to be done.

Since I last wrote, we spent half a week in Miami, where the wife had a conference. Because of space issues, I used our Maclaren umbrella stroller, instead of our all-terrain Bob Revolution SE.

And on the pretty flat terrain around downtown Miami, the stroller worked just fine. We brought it last September to Missouri, where we went for a wedding, and the wife pushed it around then.

I'll update more later!