Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reinvention Complete!

The Plan
Back in February, after a year of limping around with knee pain, I decided to "start over" and reinvent myself as a runner.

I had a simple 5 part plan:
  1. Stop - Stop running races and hurting myself. 
  2. Get Healthy - Fully Recover from the beat down I received in Uwharrie, as well as the catalog of lingering aches and pains from last year.
  3. Learn to Run -  All over again, but this time barefoot. (Actual barefoot, not Barefoot®). Toss all of my cushy shoes that I have been hurting my knees with.
  4. Go Minimal - Once my legs and feet were strong enough, learn to run on trails in my Trail Gloves
  5. Train - for a trail half marathon 
This was a smart and sensible plan, though obviously quite ambitious.
A reasonable amount of time to achieve all of these goals was about 12 months.

But after looking at the calendar, I decided to shorten it up a bit.
I thought, "Meh. 10 weeks should be enough."
Then I signed up to run the Trail Half Marathon in Pinckney, MI at the end of the 10 weeks.

The 10 weeks are up. How did I do?

Well, I gave it my best shot. I ditched the cushy shoes and only ran barefoot on pavement or on single track in the Trail Gloves.

But it turns out the reinvention schedule was just a tad aggressive, and my impatience awarded me just about every type if "-ITIS" one can have from the ankle down. I have become yet another TMTS(Too Much Too Soon) casualty of the minimalist movement.

In case it's not obvious, the "Done!" declaration is a joke. I have a long, long way to go.

Here are some stats:

10 Week Training Stats
Barefoot Miles 55
Merrell Trail Glove Miles 120
Bike Miles Lots
Number of runs 2 miles or less
"Long" runs (12 miles)
Number of Races I Ran even Though I Shouldn't Have
Things that feel better
Things that feel worse
Achilles, soleus,
 calves, top of feet,
 bottom of feet,
 side of feet, toes
Times I stepped on something and said "ow"

Here are my observations on barefoot and minimalist running, so far:

The Bad
  1. Building up strength and coordination in the lower legs and feet takes a long, long time.
  2. I have an old metatarsal injury (2008) that keeps getting re-aggravated.
  3. Running on rocky terrain is harder and takes much more energy and concentration.
  4. I cannot run as fast down rocky descents as I used to with cushioning.
  5. My running speed on pavement (barefoot) is currently much slower than it used to be.
The Good

  1. On single track, I am generally faster in the Trail Gloves than I was in the cushy shoes. I set a PR for the Umstead Figure8 course.
  2. Arthritic knees are much better than last year.
  3. Barefoot feels really good (most of the time). For someone running over 20+ years in shoes, it is a revelation.

Ready Or Not....
So despite a messed up left foot, last weekend I flew up to Michigan to run the Running Fit Trail Half Marathon. It would be my longest run since Uwharrie 3 months ago.

Race report to follow...

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