Monday 4/4 (5.2mi, 35min, 6:48/mi) I just finished reading a book called Natural Running written by the guy that started the Newton Running shoe company. It goes over the benefits of running barefoot and with shoes that closely mimic barefoot running ("Natural running"). I didn't feel that there was that much information in the book that I hadn't already seen elsewhere but there were some good sections on transitioning to barefoot / natural running, barefoot running techniques / form, and exercises to help the transition. With this fresh in my mind I went for a run at lunch with my Merrell Trail Gloves (0 heel-toe drop and thin rubber soles) without socks. I'd been wanting to try the shoes sockless for a while to see if it was possible with my feet in those shoes. It worked out except for one small abrasion on the top of my right foot. The other thing I did on this run was focus on running up on my forefoot and working more on lifting my knees to begin each stride rather than pushing off with my back foot/leg. The two things I noticed the most were that 1) my heels weren't even touching the ground. I was running up on the balls of my feet, and 2) my pace was much faster than I thought it was based on my perceived exertion. I felt like I was running at about an 8:00 - 8:30 mile pace but my watch told me that I was running a little under a 7:00 pace. I was running at what felt like a conversational pace, when I should have been breathing very hard barely able to spit out a short sentence.
I stayed on the sidewalks and ran down to Grass Lawn Park. I ran a little over 2 miles around the track before returning to work. I wasn't trying to kill myself with a fast pace but the sub-7 miles came easy to me. I spent most of the run questioning the accuracy of my Garmin's numbers. So what's the catch? As I ran back to work my calves were starting to feel tight from running up on my forefoot the whole time and I figured that I'd be in for some soreness on Tuesday. I might have overdone it running so far up on my forefoot that my heels hardly touched the ground.
Tuesday 4/5 (3.2mi, 30min, 9:15/mi) My calves were on fire when I woke up Tuesday morning. I had definitely overdone it with Monday's run. I thought that with the amount of barefoot running I'd done that I would be okay but instead I was hobbled and had to carefully go up and down stairs with the gait of someone who'd just finished their first marathon. I'm sure my calf muscles were just full of micro-tears. That didn't stop me from getting out for a short easy run though. Hair of the dog and all that. I just ran around the block near work in a rectangle using the four nearest streets and took the pace easy, running some up on my forefoot and some on my mid-foot. I was a little bit limited by the calf pain but I thought that getting the blood flowing would help my eventual recovery. I'll have to keep working on the forefoot transition until my calves are strong enough to take the work. As I ran I experimented with my foot strike and felt just what a difference the forefoot strike made on my bad knee. That was a good reminder of my I'm doing all of this.
Thursday 4/7 (4.8mi, 36min, 7:38/mi) My calves were still sore but I figured that getting out for a few miles would soften them up. I wasn't in the mood to run slippery muddy trails with my aching calves so I ran out to Grass Lawn Park again. I ran a mile around the track while I was there and then ran out around the short trail system (gravel paths) that they've recently completed at the park. I ended up a bit short of 5 miles but that was okay because it gave me more time to stretch my legs back at the gym before showering and getting back to work.
Friday 4/8 (2.0mi, 17min, 8:36/mi) Another two mile warmup on the treadmill at the fancy gym before lifting weights at lunch. The more I'm running in the Trail Gloves, the more I want to run in them and feel the closeness to the trail/pavement/treadmill/whatever. I even enjoy wearing them to lift weights. I need to start looking for some shoes with a minimal sole like these for every day use.
Friday 4/8 (8.3mi, 1h 4m, 7:44/mi) I found time to get a run in after work and headed out to the Bridle Trails for a full loop in the Trail Gloves (what else, right?). I've been wearing them without socks lately and enjoying the feeling. I don't think I could go sockless for a big race but for an hour I've had no problems. The wide roomy toe-box on the shoes makes it that much easier to leave the socks at home. I did mostly a standard loop around the park. I started out at an easy pace and then once at the park I picked it up to the low 7:00/mi range for the next 3 or 4 miles. Instead of doing a complete outer loop I ran the reverse of the Bridle Trails loop from the middle of the park (the Horse stadium) which took me up a couple of short steep climbs and just sapped my energy. I was battling the ascent and the fatigue that my legs felt while my brain was telling my legs to keep going or pick up the pace. It was an interesting feeling when I didn't think I could go any harder but still trying to force it out of my legs anyway. I kept up the hard pace until I started to feel a sharp pain in my left calf. I backed off the pace about a minute per mile the rest of the run just to be cautious. I don't want to find out that it's easy to snap an Achilles Tendon with my new found love for natural running.
Saturday 4/9 (0.6mi, 7m 52s, 13:06/mi) Race day! I took my daughter to her second kids 1K race. Oddly this one used the exact same course as her first 1K race did last October despite a difference in race organizers. We lined up near the back of the pack and ran hand-in-hand down the dead straight out-and-back course. We passed quite a few kids and were passed by a few ourselves to come in about midway through the field. I was again impressed with my daughter that she A) was excited to run this race and B) beat the PR that she set at the last 1K race we ran. In the car on the way home she asked why she didn't win. I told her that it was because some of the kids were twice her age (she's 4). She said that she wanted to do a race that was all 4-year-olds so that she could win next time. As long as she has fun doing the races I'll keep taking her. It's a blast for me. I hope to be able to take both kids to races in a few years.