Tag Archives: barefoot running

Almost Time

So everything is moving pretty quickly. All the sudden things snuck up on me and I realized that it’s almost time to move! Because it’s my life and all, nothing has gone according to plan and some pretty sharp curveballs were sent out way the past couple of weeks. But I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make this move work. Including…going on vacation next week! Hopefully we’ll do some more packing this weekend (we’re actually doing a pretty good job so far) and then I’m off to my family home in Newport. I’ll get some relaxing time to myself, see some family, and pay tribute to my Uncle Phil who will finally the East Coast remembrance he deserves.

My exercise routine has been all over the place recently. Seeing that we live in a swamp, the weather has been tortuous (hot and humid to the 100th degree). Because of the stress in my life, I’ve been itching to run a lot. But even my nighttime runs outside at 9pm are still dreadfully hot (we’re talking in the 90’s). I’m getting ridiculously bored in the gym, to the point where I’m alternating between the bike and elliptical in the same hour because I can’t stand being on either (I do enjoy the bike but with my frame – well there’s not a whole lot of cushioning and after 30 min my butt gets real sore). But I’m trying to remind myself that in a few weeks I will no longer have a full gym, downstairs. I’ll have to take a bus to get to a gym. So I might as well make good use of it now.

On one of my recent night runs I decided to stop off at a middle school I pass and see if there was a track. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. There is in fact a track, a nice one too, and man, my feet were so happy to be off that hard concrete and on a rubber track. So the next night I got the “brilliant” idea to stop off there once more, run a mile, and then go barefoot. Which was pretty interesting. My feet turned black. And my toenail finally came off. But I really enjoyed myself. I’m only doing half a mile at time. I don’t want to push myself too much. But it’s interesting how much my form transforms. Mid-strike is perfect. Knees are better. Stride is shorter and much easier to contain. But most of all it was fun. And it makes me look forward to trying many more new things, fun things like exploring a new city on foot.

Below is a video Pete took of me running barefoot on the treadmill in our gym. I’m actually on the balls of my foot more than I usually am, but I think that’s because there’s a slight incline on the TM. Pete tried to coach me. I tried to resist his coaching, even though he *usually* knows what he’s talking about. So don’t mind the convo.

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Born to Run

There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time. – Born to Run

So, as I mentioned in the last post I just finished Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. And wow. Loved it. I don’t know why I haven’t read it sooner. Well maybe I do. I have an affliction to trendy books. I don’t know why. It’s kind of a stupid, elitist thing. So when this book came out and became the most buzzed about book in all the running circles, I decided to stay away. But obviously I didn’t stay away forever and I’m very happy I decided to give it a shot.

First impressions: I highly prefer to read non-fiction, love reading a journalist’s writing, and I like books that take on an anthropological view. Oh, and it’s about running, which is kind of my thing, so how bad could it be. Second impression once I began reading it: Man did it take on a million directions. Like I said, I love journalistic writing, but this seemed like one ADD reporter if you asked me. But I trusted him. I trusted that he was taking me on a journey and setting me up for something. And I liked that this “something” was something that I didn’t see coming. Looking back I realize that maybe it was somewhat obvious, but for me, the moment I was totally hooked was when I realized “Shaggy” was Caballo.

Before I go into anything else, let me just say that while I’m still slightly skeptical, I’m becoming more and more sold on the idea of barefoot/minimalist running. So much so that I intend to begin a slow regiment of barefoot running in Newport next month, being extremely mindful that this is something that should be done gradually. And I’m not ruling out the Vibram Five Fingers being a part of my future. Pete’s brother has them and seems to love them. But I’d like to hear from some women who wear them first. The arguments the book makes are very compelling. And as someone who has been battling injuries, much of what is said about shoes and form really speaks to me. For example, until it was pointed out to me I never noticed that I’m a little “knock-kneed”. When I run my knees brush past each other on almost every stride, and even when I’m walking I have noticed it happening as well. But without shoes? Nope, not so much.

Vibram FiveFingers

But ok, with my support and interest clearly stated, I must say that there are a few counter arguments I have. I guess the first regarding ultramarathoning: I simply don’t think just anyone can run an ultra as is implied (even though I know he’s not saying that ANY person RIGHT NOW can run one). I’m just saying that there are certain things that I believe takes super-special athletic ability and that’s one of them.

I also don’t think that barefoot running is for everyone, or that running shoes affect every person’s stride in a negative way or any way at all. Listen, I recognize in the tone of the book that he’s not arguing that does. I just felt that there was way too much generalization being made. What worked for him, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for everyone. I think the arguments are there, I think the examples and evidence are there, but I can’t help but think that it’s all that simple. But maybe it is.

One thing that I thought was interesting was a little anecdote he told about a great ultra runner who loved to run in his old sneakers. Then he went and tried to buy new shoes and it didn’t turn out well. So he went back to his old shoes that had hundreds and hundreds of miles on them, but didn’t cause him any injury. Well I guess first of all this seems to me to be an example of an individual story and not something that can necessarily translate to the general population. It’s like the line from He’s Just Not That Into You: You’re not the exception, you’re the rule. BUT, let me just point out this: I began running 4 years ago. I had no idea what I was doing really. I bought a random pair of New Balance xtraining sneakers and for almost three years I ran 3 miles on the treadmill, seven days a week. But then I decided I wanted to become more serious. So I bought a new pair of shoes, followed a training plan, and voila…I became a much better runner; and a distance runner at that. But let’s also put this in perspective: I haven’t been able to run seven days a week in who knows when. I’m constantly injured. I feel like I barely run anymore. I’ve been to a million specialists, had my feet examined, bought shoes that are supposed to help me, ect. It’s pathetic, but running 3 miles at a 10 min pace, seven days a week seems like I dream I could never reach. And so I have to wonder, what if I went back to those old beat up New Balance cross trainers…hmn.

Last point because I know this is getting a little long: A lot of people say Born to Run is a book about barefoot running. It certainly is. It craftily weaves science with storytelling. But I think there’s a whole other element of the book which, to me, was even more powerful: The joy of running, which is ultimately the greatest lesson we can learn from the Tarahumara. I love the stories about ultra runners, really good ultra runners, seeing the Tarahumara pass them at some un-godly mile, laughing and smiling. Of course they were tired. But their ability to enjoy running, their joyfulness, is what makes them the greatest runners on Earth.

I feel like I’ve left a substantial amount of information out, so I urge you all to go pick up a copy and read for yourself about the wonderful runners in the Sierra Madres.

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A Summer’s Day in VA Wine Country

It’s been very busy lately, but I’m hoping that the next two weeks will be slightly calmer. After that, well then it’s crunch time because we’re moving really really soon.

I’ve been running *a lot* lately. A lot for me at least. Considering I haven’t been able to run consistently in the past year, it’s been wonderful to get out there and run 3-4 miles a couple times a week. There’s no pressure on these runs, which makes it nice. And I love how it’s been so light out lately, because it means I can do my 9pm runs outside. I learned this past winter that for some reason I really enjoy running at night. Not just the time – I already know my body is better in the evenings – but in the dark. Of course where I live it is never exactly dark and that’s cool with me. I live on a very well lit street, run on the sidewalk, and there are always people out biking or walking their dogs at that hour. Still, it’s the allusion of night running that I really enjoy.

This weekend I picked up “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougal. I don’t know why I haven’t read this sooner. I’m almost done (I hate reading a good book so quickly) and have a lot to muse about. I know many people see the book as an ode to barefoot/minimalist running. And I do too. But I think it’s so much more than that. Not only is it an anthropological study, but above all it’s a testament to the virtuousness of running. More to come later.

For Pete’s birthday yesterday (summer solstice) we had a rare day together. I’m lucky if I see him for 15 minutes right before I fall asleep at night. We live and work on completely different schedules, and we have for a couple of years now. It’s been hard, but I think/hope we’re tougher for it. But yesterday we both took off from work and headed into western Loudon County, Purcellville to be exact, to visit some wineries. A few weeks ago we were talking about things we want to do in DC before we leave. The funny thing was that we couldn’t really think of much. Except for golf. Pete wanted to play on more courses. But after a few days it came to me: we’ve never been to Virginia wine country. Part of Pete’s job is to learn about wine. I know he’s taken a couple of courses and really enjoyed it. He loves that stuff. And considering I only drink wine, but am embarrassed my lack of knowledge in the area, this seemed like a perfect idea. Pete agreed.

Me and the Birthday Boy


It took about an hour to get there. Which really wasn’t that bad, especially since it was the same route I used to take to go ride Charlie. Not only is it wine country out there, it’s horse country. I of course have to point out every horse I see along the way, as if I’ve never seen a horse before. The first place we went to was called Breaux Vineyards. It got great reviews, but I’ll be honest: the New England girl in me was drawn to their logo of a lobster. Except that it wasn’t a lobster, I learned, but a crayfish. The winemaker was originally from Baton Rouge, so that made more sense. Because it was a Monday we were the only ones there, which was great because I could ask a million questions. This was by far my favorite winery, and I even bought a bottle for myself. Pete’s favorite was the 2008 Nebbiolo Ice …After the tasting we walked around and took in the gorgeous views.

Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Va

Our second stop was Hillsborough Vineyards. Another spectacular view. Only Pete partook in the wine tasting here (I was the one driving afterall), but he enjoyed it. Our pourer wasn’t as engaging as the first one we had though. So we sat outside for a little while and then decided to move on.

Our third and final stop was Sunset Hills. I felt like I was driving up to the stables going up their winding driveway. And sure enough, there were two barns! The one on the left for horses, and on the right was the winery. I of course said I’d go see the horse and meet up with Pete later, but he convinced me to come in with him. Out of the three this was the most bustling of places. There were several couples there for tastings, and the wine was delicious. I’m partial to Chardonneys, which seemed to be their specialty. The building/barn was incredible too. Totally added to the atmosphere. I expected someone to walk a horse down the aisle at any minute. As much as we enjoyed it here as well, I think what I really enjoyed about the first place was the variety of wines that they make and offer.

Oh, and I learned something about myself: Apparently I prefer wine that is from a stainless steel barrel. I don’t know if I’m phrasing that correctly though. Maybe, “I like steel barreled wine instead of oak barreled?” I guess if you know anything about wine you’ll know what I’m trying to say. All in all this was a wonderful day and I’m so glad we were able to get out and try something new.

2007 Jolie Blend Virginia Seyval Blanc

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