Posted by scott on October 27, 2008
Delayed posting – notes from 23 Oct 2008…
I had another debate this morning about whether to go out in the Vibram FiveFingers or not. I was really excited to run in them, but just before bed last night was finally starting to feel the aches from yesterday morning, including an incredibly tight right calf. But I rationalized that warming everything up with a VFF run would just let me get good and stretched out! So I squeezed into the toe pockets and took off towards Coit Tower.
It was a little over a year ago in this very town that I first laid eyes on what I thought was the most bizarre footwear I had ever seen. I took note after hearing an odd foot slapping sound approaching me from behind on the Embarcadero. I came home and mentioned them to fellow runner and POSE practitioner Jeremy who immediately told me they must have been FiveFingers. I just laughed when I first checked out the web site and shook my head. But now a year later, here I am pleased to hear that familiar footslapping sound in the town where I first discovered them, coming from my own feet.
I passed through the Chinatown gate on Grant, and ran straight over to Lombard, then turned to attack the hill. I took the roads up to Coit Tower, and was surprised to see a couple other runners on stairs. As I got around to the other side, I naively realized that I would be taking stairs down the other side, and quickly got a bit lost. There is quite a rabbit warren of staircases on that hill! I caught the same runner I had seen now going down, and he helped me get back on my route. That dude does 45 minutes of stairs in the morning – what a great workout!
Back through the financial district and I was still loving the FiveFingers the whole way. The financial district is quite boring to me compared with North Beach and Chinatown – I would opt for the latter if you are a visting runner in San Fran.
I had a good long stretch when I got back, careful to work the calves and the piriformis stretches. I still don’t know how much is VFFs vs. San Fran hills, but I’m definitely feeling those 2 relatively short runs! Good times, though.
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Posted by scott on October 22, 2008
Delayed posting – notes from 22 Oct 2008…
If San Francisco has one thing, it is wicked hills! This is the first time I was in San Fran as an active runner, and couldn’t wait to check out the sights. I still think there is no better way to see a place than to have it rolling by you at 7 miles per hour at ground level. I was psyched to get out. With busy days, I had to get up early which meant I was running in the dark, but the city was quiet and the weather was perfect.
My first destination was the winding hill on Lombard Street. I knew that was going to be a challenge, but I was ridiculously naïve to the challenges before and after. I planned out a route on Powell, Sacramento and Hyde that looked great on MapMyRun, but I was totally ignorant of the hills involved. I mean these hills are insane when you are running them. And my ignorance of the streets meant that after conquering a 2 block demon on one street, I would be rewarded by turning a corner to see another one looming.
Lombard was a bit gimmicky for running, but still fun. I came at it from the top and did the downhill, but turned around at the bottom and did a round of repeats just to say I did it! The most treacherous part was just watching out for the running water from early morning sprinklers. And little did I know what I was in for on Jones street at the bottom – a completely crazy 3 block scramble uphill. A real thigh burner, but I pulled it off. I came back through Chinatown, which fostered pleasant memories of Shanghai.
In the end I did just under 4 miles, but learned that you cannot count miles in this town! It’s all about time and elevation. Was debating whether to go out in Vibrams this morning, and glad I didn’t as I am still in ramp up with them. Coit Tower tomorrow.
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Posted by scott on October 17, 2008
So after a little bit of a false start and a size change, I am settling into running with my FiveFingers. While I waited for my size exchange to be sent back I had started a barefoot training program, so I had a couple of weeks of getting used to running without an elevated, cushion under my feet, and got my soles a bit toughened up. I’m sure that helped jump start in the Vibrams, which I think you definitely want to start with gradually if you are coming straight from shoes.
So far I have done a couple of 2-3 mile runs on the dirt road near our cabin in the KSOs. But I LOVE them! For some reason, it is just a blast to be cruising along with almost nothing under your feet, feeling like it is really just your feet and legs moving you along. I went for a very easy 2 mile first (again, after much more gradual barefoot conditioning), and had no additional pains or soreness. So today I stepped up a bit and went 3 miles at a more moderate (vs. slow) pace. Again, no problems and the feel is fantastic.
I definitely have to pay more attention to footing than with shoes, but I’m OK with that for now. The FiveFingers can handle small rocks (penny-size?) without any trouble. But I have landed on some larger rocks that I definitely noticed. But a forward-leaning running style and the immediate sensory feedback make it easier to shift weight quickly, and I haven’t had any ankle rolls or injuries.
Based on my first miles I am still really excited about giving these a try. I’m just bummed that I’m starting right when the weather is about to turn. I’m interested to see how long I can continue running in these as the temperature drops. I am considering some additional cold weather options for a barefoot-like experience and will start testing those soon.
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Posted by scott on October 14, 2008
I have taken the Zoom Waffle cross country flats out for a few spins, but the verdict is still out for me. These were a great find because they were so cheap, and they are fun to try, but still not sure if they will be a long term shoe for me or not. For one thing, they are a 1/2 size too big, which I knew when I bought them. But that might turn out to be a bigger deal than I thought. I also have been running them on pavement more than they are probably intended for. This should probably just be a trail shoe, and I’m pushing it.
But I’m not done with them yet, and I still need to get them out for a good sized (8-10 mile) trail run before I decide if they are keepers. And overall I love how lightweight they are. But I think I have decided that they won’t be a good ongoing option for pavement, so I still need to sort that out.
I’m seriously thinking about turning to low-top Converse Chuck Taylors for the roads.
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Posted by scott on October 10, 2008
Report from Twin Cities Marathon now posted.
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Posted by scott on October 2, 2008
I had the chance to hear Alberto Salazar speak today, and he was great. He had some great stories about the heydays of American distance running (at least on the world stage) during the 80s. He also talked about his terrifying, but incredibly fortunate in terms of outcome, experience with sudden cardiac arrest.
His comments around the current dominance of Kenyan runners are what really stuck with me. He said that it will likely be decades before the US competes with Kenya in a meaningful way in distance events, and that’s largely a numbers game. He cited the common anecdote that so many Kenyans spend their youth running to and from school that they have years of training in the bank when they reach a serious training age. He shared a stat that by age 18 the average Kenyan schoolchild has run around 30,000 miles more than the average 18 year old runner in the US. He has visited Kenyan training camps where 300 runners are doing 200 miles a week each. At the Nike camp in Oregon, they have something like 12 runners doing that. So his current assessment is that we just need to do the best we can with the few that have the greatest potential.
He also said the best thing we can do to help the US compete with Kenya in the short term is send them buses!
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