Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Journey to a Barefoot 50-mile Endurance Run - Week 3 of 18

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I hope all my readers had a fantastic holiday.  Ours seemed crazier than usual with lots of food to be prepared and gifts to wrap.  Lots of fun was had by all, way too much food was consumed, a giant Nerf gun war, and lots of karaoke singing.  As for gifts, I managed to score a reflective running vest as well as a blinking runners light - now I'll finally be visible on my evening runs!

Last week I had assumed even as Christmas approached I would be able to get in most of my miles for the week.  The plan was T/W/TH = 2/2/4 and 12/8 for Sat/Sun.  Well, that really didn't work out too well.  I managed one midweek run of 7 miles on Thursday evening.  As for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - well ... yeah, that didn't happen either.

The one midweek run I did was pretty decent.  I held a good pace (just over 8-min miles) for most of the 7 miles.  I did have to play mind games at the beginning of the run.  My favorite game that evening was shadow-running.  I watched my shadow to keep an eye on my form.  Minimize the bouncing and concentrate most of my energy to drive me forward.  This kept my mind occupied for the first 3 miles as I was trying to keep myself motivated to get to at least a 3.5-mile turnaround point. 

On my return I had my first ever near fall.  Driving my left foot hard into the sidewalk, I nearly did a forward slide across the concrete.  I managed to catch myself and maintain my run.  Something to say for quick cadence??? 

So, apologies for nothing exciting this week. 

The plan for the coming week is to tack on a few extra miles on the week:  T/W/TH 4/6/6 and S/S 14/8.  Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Journey to a Barefoot 50-mile Endurance Run - Week 2 of 18

Week 2 has been an interesting week on a number of fronts.  As you all probably are experiencing, the stress and bustle of the Christmas season can get pretty crazy sometimes.  Our family and extended family had a wide range of events that happened all in 4 days - everything from the joy of a baptism to the funeral of a loved one and a college graduation.  Additionally, there were Christmas parties to attend.  Despite all of this rushing around and emotional roller coaster of it all, I managed to get almost all of my mileage in.

I managed to get two of my mid-week runs running barefoot despite high 30s nighttime temperatures.  I have been doing a most of my miles in my Sockwas because of the cold, but this week I decided I would just deal with the cold so I could have the joy of having my feet actually in contact with the ground.  I had no problems running in the cold.  That being said, the concrete of the sidewalk is much colder than the asphalt of the street.  Another interesting thing I noticed with my bare feet was the temperature gradients as I passed various landscaping features.  There were noticeable temperature changes (colder) in the first 5 - 6 inches off the ground as I passed areas of plants.  The grass areas were slightly warmer.  Extended periods of running on the sidewalk made the balls of my feet slightly numb so I would try to switch up running on the sidewalk with periods of running on the street.

My third mid-week run was skipped due to one of the aforementioned events.

This weekend I had to switch my Saturday and Sunday distances.  Saturday morning I headed out to Cosumnes River Preserve for a quick 6-mile on a trail.  The temperatures were a very frosty 32-degrees.  After 5 miles, I tried pulling off one of my Sockwas to see how cold the ground was.  It was very cold and wet too.  So, I decided against running at near freezing temperatures with wet feet. 

A cold, frosty start to the morning - just before sunrise

The leafy path and fog

Sunrise across the Cosumnes River Preserve

The temperature was about 40-degrees as I went out for my 10-miler late last Sunday night.  I started off in the Sockwas and switched to barefoot for the second half of the run.  The run started off rough.  As I always tell people, running is about 99% mental.  At about 3-miles my brain started to complain that I was too tired to finish the run.  I had to debate myself out of stopping or turning around.  By the time I reached 4.5 miles, I had found my groove and was floating down the road.  At about 8 miles, my body started to protest all of the food I had eaten over the past 48 hours - 2 Chinese multi-course meals, various cocktails, and a Christmas lunch from that day.  I managed to make it home without any incidents and just over 90 minutes for the run as a whole.  So, I was fairly satisfied with the run.

The thing I have been learning to do lately is how to run on a relatively full stomach.  I've always been a weak-stomach runner.  Before races I used to only manage a slice of toast with peanut butter.  I had a breakthrough last summer with the Skyline 50K that taught me that I could eat a lot of different stuff without adverse effects.  This week was definitely no different.  Wednesday night, I had eaten a very healthy bakers dozen or more of chicken nuggets about an hour before my run.  If that didn't put a damper on my running, then I don't know what would.

For this coming week, the running plan is 2/2/4 on T/W/TH and 12/8 for Saturday and Sunday.  The challenge will be that this weekend is Christmas.  I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to manage the weekend miles.  I guess you'll find out when I post next Monday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Journey to a Barefoot 50-mile Endurance Run - Week 1 of 18

This is the first of 18 weekly installments as I train and prepare for my first 50-mile ultramarathon.  This will be the longest distance I have run with or without shoes and of course, I plan to do it barefoot.

My goal race is the American River 50 Endurance Run on April 7, 2012.  This week (of December 5, 2011) marks my first week of 18 weeks of training to come.  Each week I plan to write a short summation of my training for the week and a look toward the week to come.

My training for this race is based on the schedule produced by the Santa Clarita Runners website for ultramarathon training.  It is a schedule based on successive days of running.  I will be running Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  Long runs are back to back on Saturdays and Sundays.  It's a fairly simple plan, but definitely rigorous.  I used a similar plan from their site when training for the Skyline 50K.  However, I lagged a bit while training for that race and did not complete several of the longer runs.

This time around I don't believe I will able to "fake it" or just "dig deep" for a 50-mile finish.  So, I intend to hit as many of the runs as possible and keep the missed runs as close to zero as I can.

So with that introduction. . . Here is Week 1 of training. . .

This past week (Dec. 5 - 11):  Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday - 2 miles each;  Saturday 8-miles, Sunday 6-miles.

I officially started my training on Tuesday, December 6th with an easy, evening 2-mile run.  Even though it was quite chilly out, I wanted to be sure to start out on the right foot (a bare one).  The air temperature was hovering in the upper 30s (F) and the concrete sidewalks were definitely closer to freezing!  I remembered reading something about a barefoot snow-runner dunking his feet in hot water before snow running to get the blood flowing and feet warm before going out.  I gave it a shot - well sorta.  I ran the hot water in the tub over my feet for a couple minutes - then headed out.

One thing about cold-weather running for me is that I run much faster.  So, cold-weather runs = speed workouts for me.  I managed an even 16-minutes for the 2 miles.  I varied my run between asphalt and concrete.  I had been taking some time off of running in November so I wanted to get my feet stimulated.

The ground was cold, but not unbearably so.  I was concerned because I did have an incident last January in which the tips of my toes had swollen following a run on sub-freezing concrete.  There was no problem with that this time.  However, I did notice that the couple times I skirted across the grass from street to sidewalk that the spray of dew across my feet caused a considerable temperature change.  This happened about 3 times during the run, the last one unintended due to a person walking their dog off-leash.

The next two nights I chose to wear my Sockwa G2s.  These shoes are awesome!  They are so thin (1.2 mm) that you can really feel the ground but keep your feet comfortably warm.  On Thursday, I was having issues with my Garmin not syncing with the satellites and spent a good 5 minutes standing on the cold sidewalk - even the G2s couldn't keep my feet warm.  I finally gave up, since I knew the exact distance I was running and just took off using the stopwatch only. 

Saturday morning came and I chose to get a good 8-mile trail run (as it turned out I ended up doing about 7.4 due to avoiding wildlife photographers).  I headed out to the Cosumnes River Preserve.  The ground was very frosty and the bridge heading over to the trails was iced over.  Thankfully, I chose to wear my G2s again.  Being back on a trail was heaven!  I love the feel of the ground, rocks, gravel and well, no mud this time.  In the coming weeks, I am hoping to mix up minimalist/bare trail runs to maintain good running form.  I have managed to run cold-weather for two years barefoot.  I think I'm just being prissy this year.

I closed out the week this morning with a quick 6-mile run (about 55 minutes).  So, that is my first week of training - a total of 19.4 miles. 

The mileage plan for the coming week:  T/W/TH at 2/2/4  and Sat/Sun at 10/6

Stay tuned.  . .