Archive for the ‘chi running’ Category

Natural running and speedwork at the track

Friday, February 18th, 2011

At risk of being ostracized by the popular running community I’d like to add my two cents about the barefoot running/natural running phenomena. I have been an advocate of Chi Running for many years. I think the principals behind it are solid and I have run relatively injury free for years, much of which I attribute to adopting a Ch Running style. Since the barefoot running fad broke out with the publishing of Born To Run, its theories have been adopted by Danny Dreyer, author of Chi Running. While I really enjoyed Born to Run, I wasn’t swayed to try it until Dreyer embraced it. With his endorsement I have thought more and more about it. I have figured I wouldn’t be able to do it because of the heal lift I wear to offset my shorter right leg. The barefoot folks says we should base out stance on our natural stance by not wearing any sort of orthotics whether they be in the base of running shoes or additional devices. I believe my leg correcting lift is necessary to make sure my spine is properly aligned. Doctors convinced me at an early age that I needed to keep my spine properly aligned in order to avoid back issues both in my youth and especially into old age. So barefoot running seemed like it wouldn’t be for me, Vibram Five-Fingers also seemed interesting but I had my doubts about whether they would work with my lift (they are really low on the ankle and my lift made this an even larger potential issue). So I was really interested to hear about the concept of Natural Running and this book.

So I got the book from the library and have been reading it. The author feels that barefoot running is best, but that there are pitfalls to running without protection on the feet: rocks, hot or cold pavement, glass etc. He thinks that shoes are ok to wear as long as you do a mid or forefoot strike rather than a heal strike. He says most running shoes build up the heal to such an extent that it is hard to do the fore or mid strike. He says the elevated heal causes most runners to hit the heal first (which brakes you) before rolling to the ball of your foot. My heal lift in the one side makes this even more of an issue. But despite that I have been striving for a mid-strike for years since reading about Chi Running and I think I do a pretty good job of it.

When I first started to run on the dirt roads on Pendleton, OR I was told that I should rock my foot on each step. Land on the heal and roll my step through to the lift off on the toes. At first it took so getting used to landing on the mid portion of the foot. It was good to read scientific basis for what I have been doing for years.

The book had a number of exercises to help the reader develop this mid-strike. Most of them were based on balance (so far anyway) and this is an area I could use a lot of work on. Between the shorter (and smaller) right leg and the ms, I have my issues with balance. I have been working on this and probably overdoing it as my ankles have been sore as well as my knees. I think I will back off on doing the balance stuff a bit and try to more slowly incorporate the work into my workouts. I do think better balance will have large benefits for strengthening my core and therefor bettering my running. Not sure what is happening with my knees, I rarely have issues in that area. It could also have something to do with the new shoes.

Today, I went to the track to do some more straights and curves. The track was mostly empty so that was good for my multi-paced workout. My knees and ankle soreness didn’t seem to bother me, but I did slow down my sprinting in order to respect the potential injury. Seems to have done the trick. I also added on some miles to boost my weekly totals. Ended up doing a 2 mile warm up, 2 miles at the track and 4.5 mile cool down. Good run.

300 recovery day

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

This is the 300th post to this blog and I celebrated with a recovery run with the extra loop in the canyon. I did pretty well keeping my HR proper, only going over my 70% max when I came out of the canyon and up to the neighborhood. The canyon this morning was a lot less humid than the last couple days, I think the winds cleared it out a bit. My legs feel pretty good, no further pain except usual tiredness (maybe a bit more than usual…) Tonight = more foam rolling.

I signed up for the Pints to Pasta 2010 run today. Really don’t like paying the fees for online payment on activities, be it races, concerts, whatever. But I am lazy and want it now, so there you go.I am looking forward to running another race to cap off the summer.

So my big toe that I have been having splitting nail issues mad it self known the other night.  I thought the split part was healing, but I snagged it and ripped a chunk off of my toe. I bled all over the place. At first I was worried about  how it would feel on my next run, but it wasn’t going to stop me and it actually wasn’t bad at all. I used a salve called Oregon Cream II on the area and then a band-aid over the top, wrapped around my toe it stayed on for the run. It seems to be getting better as long as it doesn’t get infected I’ll be ok running this week and Pints to Pasta on 9.12.

My college buddy who I road tripped with last week is reading Chi Running which I sent him (and some sport beans and runners junk mail). He has been doing a few ten minute runs. He is pretty active so in good shape, but he says he feels new muscles. I’m glad he is getting into it. I am curious to hear more about how (and if) he employs “the way”!

Good recovery day!

Road trip sans running except…

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

So with my anticipated break due to work load in the past I decided to go on a road trip with my photographer buddy and that became my newest running block. We ended up doing some photo shoots in a wind farm and a tree farm and got some good shots (according to my buddy anyway.) Other than those short sprints I took a nice break from running for the past six days. The air quality has been really bad as there have been many forest fires in WA and OR so another good reason for not running.

Running breaks are really hard to do in some respects, I found myself really wanting to go out for a run. The rest was good even though much of it was in a car. We took numerous photo breaks which broke up the drive really well. We did get a short hike in so that was a nice break as well.

Today I ran for the first time in six days and just did a basic run, nothing special. Tomorrow we’ll do nine miles, probably up Thurman and the Leif Erickson trail. So a good return back! Today’s six and a half miles came pretty easy but I am somewhat sore. I am going to do some stretching tonight and maybe even some foam roller.

There was an additional running moment on my trip. We managed to drive several dirt roads north of Pendleton and managed to find the old pig farm I used to spend my summers at. It was here I got my start at running when I was 13 or so. I used to run up the dirt road to the top of the  rolling hill and then I would run down back to the house, maybe a full mile. I remember my friend’s dad having me rolling my foot form heal to toe and while I try to be as flat footed in my foot strike as I can, I still think about this and apply some of those stride patterns today. It was awesome seeing the old place and even though it has changed a lot since I was last there 28 years ago, it still felt like home a bit. Good ole Hog Flats, OR.

Base run

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

This morning was a typical base run of 6.5 miles, nothing fast, nothing slow. I felt a bit draggy this morning before I ran, but I knew once I got going that I would be fine and I was.

There was one thing I did differently this morning. I have been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougal. In his quest to figure out why his feet hurt so much (sounds like a similar journey, eh?) he discovers the amazing Tarahumara runners of Mexico and their fantastic ability to run long distances. The book turns into a discussion of barefoot running and the advantages of using the natural foot design as opposed to all of the fancy running shoes, orthotics and inserts we runners hold dear. It made a lot of sense and I would really like to try the Vibram Five Fingers shoes he recommends. I have some reservations though, I wear a half inch lift in my right shoes to compensate for a shorter leg, I wonder how that would work with these and I also wonder if running without my lift would be a bad thing. So with barefoot running on the brain, I did the absolute opposite for my run today and embraced the evil cadre of podiatrists and wore my orthotics for the first time in a couple of months. My feet feel a bit more achey after my run and I don’t know if I want to go back to wearing them. But we’ll see.

Nearing a peak

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

My running has been going really well these last 3-4 weeks. I have been getting in some great long runs which I think have been helping quite a bit. The soreness in my feet hasn’t been too severe and I have been able to recover with little to no lasting affect. I feel as if my conditioning is ratcheting up to a peak point that would be optimum for doing a race. Its actually a good thing I am not as I will be taking what will amount to a two week layoff here in a few weeks to go to Europe. If I were training I would think that another 3-4 weeks of training at this level and I would be rock solid.

I have never been able to time my peak for running a race. When I was training for the Portland Marathon I peaked way early (about two months so). I was enjoying establishing my base so much that I kept wanting to push myself further. If I had been able to hold back around 30-35 miles a week instead of getting over that cusp of 40-50 I would have been fine. But I wanted to run far and I did, so I paid the price of missing my peak. Course then I just tapered off and started again but it wasn’t quite right and plus I was dealing with a groin pull I got by jumping out of the way of a rushing mother and her carriage coming out of a blind entrance to a park. Really bugs me to this day that she never even said sorry and had no idea what so ever what she had caused me to do. Grrr, shouldn’t drag up those old bad memories.

While watching the marathon, we watched an African runner go by who looked really impressive as a runner. John Riak was one of the most ripped individuals I have ever seen and had fantastic form even though he was finishing up a marathon (as it turns out his first and he placed fifth.) On my run this morn I visualized his legs and gained a feeling of sturdiness and strength in my own. I was IMing with my running partner and we looked him up to see where he placed and who he was. She found this great article on his struggles living in Sudan. Hefriended us both on Facebook and sent us nice notes. We both have a new favorite marathoner!

Mileage increase

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Last week my mileage cranked up quite a bit. I ran five days last week and ended with a long run of about ten miles, my total for the week was 37 miles. My feet were a bit sore yesterday after the long run, but overall I feel pretty good. I did however take the day off today in favor of a rest day. I think this was a really good idea. This will negate my fast start to the week, but I think that is ok. The last couple of weeks I have run on Mon and Tues, even if it is only a psychological difference (say from running Mon and Wednes), it has made me feel like I have been off to a great start in terms of running miles and frequency (which I have!) This week I’ll just have to make do.

I do think that I ran too much last week. For me I would like to keep it around 30 miles for the week. I think that is the optimum amount of running for me to do to keep the weight in check as well as a nice level of conditioning. Three base runs plus a long run on the weekend will give me those miles. I do still like going out five times though. One last thing on increasing miles, be careful! A safe increase is 10% on a weekly basis.

My run this weekend was really good. My running partner and I put in about eight miles running along the Willamette from Downtown to Sellwood and back. Our plan was to time our run to finish as the Portland marathoners were crossing the finish line. The last 30 mins or so we stewed and fretted about making it. We got there 30 seconds before the winner crossed. Great timing!

We did another slow run this time. It is funny how one might not think a slow run would work you as hard, but in actuality it is even tougher. I guess it is because you are taking more steps? The goal of the run is to keep your heart rate down so you are running in the “fat-burning zone.” The pace is supposed to be about 2 minutes per mile slower than marathon pace. I have heard advice to the contrary, but I know after doing these workouts a couple of times now that they are great workouts.

Once we were done with our run it was awesome watching the runners. There were some notables, one a Japanese man who had “Tiffany” on his race number (Portland Marathon lets you put your name or apparently someone else’s name on your number.) He was funny. We got some great smiles from folks who where only blocks away from finishing. Some runners looked terrible, some looked like they just started. We where about four blocks from the finish, when the first woman passed us, she was about forty feet ahead of the second. The woman is second looked a lot stronger and ended up passing the woman in first place with 200 yards to go (how disappointing for her).

Carried by the wind

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Today I headed out of the house for a morning run without too much confidence it would be a good one. I was well rested, but my stomach was upset (Ruthann (who felt the same way) and I referred to it as Pizza Roma-ria). It was also a tad bit breezy out as our fall weather is blowing the summer out. Not being a wind fan, I was a little discouraged with that (though looking forward to the cooler weather and rain that comes with fall in Portland). So I got going once I passed through the park and noticed, hey, I’m cruising along! At first I attributed it to the very slow run my running partner and I did on Sunday (more on that in a bit) and it may have had something to do with it both physically and mentally. But I figured it probably had more to do with the wind (which I had thought was at my back). It felt really good to be moving so well, especially after really slowing down on my runs in general lately.

When the half way point hit, I thought ok time to turn back into the wind. I also figured I would be sort of burned out after keeping my fast pace going for three miles or so. But I turned into the wind and it wasn’t there. So I happily kept on waiting for it to pick up any moment. Soon, about 3/4 through the 6.5 miles I was planning, I realized the wind was at my back. Huh? As it turns out I was running my fast pace INTO the wind and didn’t even realize it. That is when I knew this was going to be a great run. I spied a flag an confirmed the direction and quickly found myself home (with a break to talk to a neighbor I see on my route all the time). I came in at under nine minute miles for my pace, which is about 35 secs faster than I have been running lately. This just might inspire me to start up the speed work again!

So my run yesterday was a “S L O W” (as we kept IMing back and forth about it beforehand) run. Our goal was to do seven miles at about an 11 minute mile pace. It was hard to hold ourselves back but we did a really good job. Either the route was longer than seven miles or we went really slow at almost a 12 minute mile pace. It was a surprisingly good workout, but it makes sense when you consider your a taking more steps and pushing off more frequently. Plus it makes the next run seem super fast!


Monday, September 21st, 2009

Wow, 200 posts. That seems pretty amazing to me. Not that having enough to talk about on running for 200 occasions is that big a deal, especially for a runner. We love to talk running and many msers love to talk about ms as well. So I guess I have it pretty easy. As far as the ms goes, the only things I really have to talk about are my aching feet (umm, plight of a distance runner?) and bladder issues (plight of a 40+ year old?) so I feel like things are going pretty well for me. I could lose some weight, I’m about 15 pounds over where I would ultimately like to be. But I feel like I am in good shape if not great shape. As far as the weight goes I suspect it may be the rebif that is causing it (or we could go back to 40+ to explain it). I do feel like I should be lighter than I am with the running I am doing. Though I have found that I need to be running over 30 miles a week consistently in order to lose weight. I have altered my diet somewhat with eating more fruits and veggies and less pasta, breads and cheese (though my reductions in the last two food groups could be greater!)

Other things to think about for a 200 post review: I seem to have a bit of short term memory loss, I also seem to have a bit of short term memory loss (ok sorry, I couldn’t resist the dumb joke.) I have noticed that every once in awhile I will set out to do something and it will just be gone. If I fret and stew it tens to stay gone, if I just move on to something else it tends to come back to me pretty quickly. I find myself relying on lists more and more which could just be a defensive reaction to memory loss paranoia. Throughout my life I have experienced minor bouts of insomnia. I have noticed that I have been experiencing it more regularly as well. Like last night for instance, grrr. The other oddity has been getting music stuck in my head, it seems to happen really easily and gets really stuck.

This weekend I went for a long run, 12.5 miles. I thought about adding another miles to make it a half marathon distance, but I was feeling like I had already pushed myself enough. So I ended it. But it was a good run and I didn’t kill myself too much. I did some yard work after and I think that sent me over the edge in terms of exhaustion. I slept like 10 hours that night. Today’s run was a base run. I felt like I was going pretty quickly, but I was doing a 9:30 pace (or plod) but I did feel pretty light on my feet, so I think I am improving (at least my cardio if not my speed.)

Base run in the rain

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

The rainy season isn’t quite upon Portland runners, but we have been getting a taste of it recently. I really enjoy running in the rain, as long as it isn’t a downpour (which is fun in it’s own way). The sprinkly rain we have gotten this week is really refreshing though it does tend to make things very humid. Today when I was doing my post run workout, it felt fantastic to have the rain on my shoulders as I was doing push-ups.

Today I did an afternoon run which I rarely get to do in the summer because of the heat. Today it was pretty cool and the aforementioned rain kept things very nice. The only issue I had going on today is my feet. Running in the motion control shoes does seem to help with the pain. One of the most difficult things about my foot pain has been separating pain I feel from injury from the ms pain I feel in my feet. I can run through the ms pain, but I don’t want to over do it with the injury pain. I would rather recognize that and take it as the warning it is meant to be.

Running through the ms pain is not that big of a deal at this point in my ms career. It is more of a discomfort. But sometimes it does feel like my foot is sort of cramping up and stiffening. It sounds worse than it is, but it still isn’t great! I do think I can run through this with no problems. As long as I can rely on my muscle memory and awareness of my foot placement I think I will be ok. I think if that goes say from an extended break from running, that I’ll be able to build it back up. I would think this would be the same for someone just starting out as well.

Fastest run this month & flip that lift

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I didn’t really set out to do a fast run, but that is what I ended up doing. I didn’t wear my orthotics, but used my lighter Aisics Gel Kayano 12s which are also a size smaller than my Mizuno wave rider 10s. I have noticed being able to run faster in them in the past, but the two previous runs were at my normal of late pace of 9:30. Today I ran just over nine minute miles.

I also flipped my lift over. I have been wearing a lift in my right shoe since I was like 9 or 10. I remember being mortified that I would have to wear giant shoes to correct my shorter right leg. But it was only a half inch or so, all I needed was a lift in my right shoe. So they made me a leather and rubber wedge shaped thing that I have been wearing ever since. Yep the same one. Over the years I have molded it down pretty well on the inside of my foot, so that side is completely worn away. So I decided I needed a new one. I was really excited to have a new one, a thirty year wait over and done with.

I went to a foot store in a strip mall (yes, questionable, but I figured they would be cheaper than a podiatrist) and showed them my lift. I told them I had worn it way down on the one side (as was obvious) and that I wanted a new one, a full one. They said they could make me a new one out of hard foam and carve it to match my foot. Perfect!

Two weeks later it is ready and when I pick it up they have made me an exact replica of the old one, an almost artistic replication. I tell them no, I wanted one that isn’t worn away, a full one. The person said, “Oh sorry, the guy who made it quit and he is the only person who knows how to do it.” Great. Well I can always use another lift exactly like the one I had, so I took it and went home dissapointed.

So, today on my run I flipped my lift so the worn side was on the outside of my shoe giving my inner foot more support. And it worked well I thought. It was pretty comfortable, less foot pain than many of my runs. I don’t know if I would recommend flipping your orthotics, since I wear my lift under a motion control insert I think it worked for me.

I am thinking about buying a pair of walking shoes to wear to Europe this fall. Time to research!