14 In running

Back to basics, back to ‘barefoot’

Running on treadmill

Wheeeeew. It’s Thursday night. Time to exhale and blog 🙂

Our house is being ripped apart at the moment. It will be built into something great but it means lots of mess for the time being. And no hot water. Or television. Or much furniture. But I don’t mind any of that and I’m actually sleeping really freakishly well since we’ve just had the mattress on the floor.

In addition to that, I introduced another ‘temporary mess’ in my life yesterday morning – I spent 3 hours at the Vivobarefoot training clinic having my running style ripped apart. I learned so freaking much about the biomechanics of running and our bodies in general that my head still hurts today! I came away with a metronome,  a new pair of shoes and a heart filled with almost equal amount of excitement and fear.

My hope is to be able to run for decades to come without injuries and I believe that running the way that we would run out in the nature is the only way to achieve that. It is scary as heck though to go back to square one and relearn the way I run. To change posture, decrease stride length and increase cadence means that all of a sudden all kinds of muscles are working that haven’t worked before and running during the period of transition will not be as effortless as it’s been.

I practiced some jumping yesterday at the faster cadence ( 5 x 2 min + 7 min with jump rope) and my calves felt it. I practiced the new running technique during our 400m warm up run at Crossfit today and whereas it feels weird to step that fast, I could feel the efficiency and I can totally see that once I master the new technique and the muscles that need to be working have strengthened – I have the potential of running freaking fast!

I will write about this more once I have the videos from my session to post. In the meanwhile I’d like to hear if anyone has had experience with switching from regular heel striking to mid or forefoot – How long did it take you to adjust? How long before you could easily run 10km? Any tips? Anything ‘out of the ordinary’ you learned during the process? I’m eager to hear about it all! 

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  • Reply
    April 28, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I’ve never really been into running, therefore the silly question: is it really typical to hit first with heel? I guess then I’ve always been unknowingly running with barefoot technique (first hitting with the forefoot), possibly it’s related to the few years of ballet training. I can’t even imagine running differently…:-)

    • Reply
      April 28, 2013 at 7:45 am

      99% of uncoached runners heel strike. One can heel strike to different degrees though and it’s especially bad for your shins, knees and hips if you reach forward with your foot and at the point of impact your foot is not directly underneath you but ahead of you. I’m in transition at the moment learning to run with much smaller steps so when my foot hits the ground it’s under me, that kind of stepping automatically makes me stand up straighter and step less on the heel and more towards the middle and front of the foot.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    OMG! It looks like you are turning professional! How do you do it?

    • Reply
      April 28, 2013 at 7:52 am

      I’m not turning professional, trust me, I just like to run 🙂

  • Reply
    Donna D
    April 26, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Paying attention to good biomechanics is great. James Dunne of Kinetic Revolution (kinetic-revolution.com) is my run coach, and we pay attention to cadence and stride length too, as it relates to body position / centre of gravity over foot. Heel striking is not bad for a runner, counter to what many popular trends may have you believe. Biomechanics is much more dependent on your body position than the type of foot strike you have – for example, if your body line is directly above the foot, there is no residual shock on the knee. Anyway, based on my own experience I’d say biomechanics is fascinating, worth reading about broadly (and deeply) and experimenting with slowly to determine the best approach for you and your body. Good luck!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2013 at 8:43 am

    I did the switch from heel strike to midfoot strike last year. Took me about 2 months of regular training (running 4-5 times a week) to get to the point where I could do 10k on midfoot only. For another 4-6 weeks I switched to heel strike after about an hour of running, i.e. when I got tired… but now I can’t even imagine doing that any more. It would feel so wrong!

    I got “transition” shoes when I started – the soles are not extremely thin but they’re the same thickness all over, no extra support at the heel. Next ones I’ll get even more minimalist, but I’m very happy with my current ones and can’t be bothered looking for new ones yet.

    The first couple of weeks were rather hard on my calves, and even now when I haven’t run for a while (like, over this past Dec-Feb:S) they get really tight in the beginning. But you’re a foam rolling pro, you know what to do, I guess:)

    • Reply
      April 28, 2013 at 7:52 am

      Thank you for sharing. The vivos I got have an insert inside that I can use while I get used to them. Yesterday I did just 10km in my regular Nikes but with small steps focusing on not landing more towards the middle and front of my foot than regularly. My arches were a bit sore afterwards (and my ankles) so that hopefully means I was doing something right but I realise that I have to take it slow so the soreness becomes strength and not an injury!

  • Reply
    April 26, 2013 at 4:11 am

    I am so excited to read about how you’re doing with this!

    I’m not doing barefoot, but I am determined to achieve the cadence, so this makes it especially interesting for me.

    I’m just following Internet guidelines, not any coach or clinic (wish they had one here!) so I’ll be looking to your blog for pointers.

    My goal is to master the new cadence in four months. I’m two weeks in and atm three k feels ok without too much effort.

    Still a lot more tiring than what I’m used to though.

    • Reply
      April 28, 2013 at 7:48 am

      I have done two runs now in small steps and my arches and ankles are definitely feeling it. I have rest now until Wednesday, hopefully by then the soreness is gone. It’s amazing how slowly this change must be approached 😐

  • Reply
    April 25, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I tried out my barefoot shoes in Egypt 🙂 Took them with me and since the gym just happened to be next door to our room, I gave it a try. 10 mins, about 2 km on treadmill. Unlike you, nobody taught me any techniques, I just went with the feeling. Quicker, smaller steps, good speed. Didn’t feel too bad at all considering the lack of excercise in my life within past year. I actually really enjoyed it, natural& comfy, really did give the feel of no shoes. 2 days later walking downstairs was a challenge though.. Can’t wait to recover from my flu and get experimenting with these shoes. Maybe these are better for my knees?
    keep posting about your experiments, I’ll be waiting forward for the next one 🙂

    • Reply
      April 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

      From what I heard yesterday, heel striking is what messes up the knees because the heel, shins and knees have to absorb the shock but they are not made to be shock absorbers – our arches and achilles are. Just make sure you run short distances to begin with, it’ll take a while for your feet and the rest of the body to get used to the new shoes and new technique. Vivobarefoot training clinic has lots of videos on their site – check them out to make sure your technique is on the right track.

  • Reply
    April 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    oo will await with interest how you get on. I always wonder if they would be any good for weightlifting as they say to avoid cushioned soles, at the moment I lift in my converse.

    • Reply
      April 25, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      I think they’d be perfect for weight lifting. I wear Adidas adizeros for Crossfit but the Vivos are so much softer.

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