Saturday, October 29, 2011

How I Tie My Invisible Shoe Huaraches

There's lots of ways to tie huaraches.  I like to tie mine in the more traditional "toga" style, slightly adapted from Steven Sashen's instructions on the Invisible Shoes website.

Start with the basic lacing pattern.

Bring the lace around to the outside of your ankle, above the ankle bone itself, bring the lace
around to the front, then make one more pass around your leg.

Pass the lace under the toe strap.  Pull it snug so the toe strap moves more parallel with your foot.

Bring the lace back up and around the ankle in the opposite direction you were going before. You may require assistance from your cat.

Make a small loop under the doubled top of foot strap.

Make another loop with the loose end of the lace, and pass it through the first loop.  Tighten the hitch by holding the doubled top strap on either side, and pulling the second loop.


It's as simple as that!  There are lots of ways to tie huaraches, play around and come up with what works for you.

Invisble Shoes - the shoes for barefoot running, walking, hiking and... FUN

Friday, October 21, 2011

First "Cold" Barefoot Run

Last Saturday I set out about 7:30 am for a run.  I want to be barefoot as long as possible into the Fall and Winter so the chilly Saturday morning was my first test of my superhero abilities.  The temp was 41 degrees when I set out.

The pavement was cold but not crazy cold.  I could really only feel the cold for the first 1/2 block or so.  I set off on my normal path, expecting to only do a mile but I was ready to go further if I could.  It was nice to be barefoot again.  I have been using the Merrell Trail Gloves on my weekday runs because I'm always running at 8:30 or 9:00 PM and I was having trouble in the dark.  I wasn't relaxing my feet and I ended up with some top of foot pain that stopped me for about two weeks.  I let the foot pain resolve with some massage and time and the Trail Gloves have helped to prevent it returning.  I want to try some night-time barefooting again, but the trail I always run on has two areas with broken glass and I can't see it at night to avoid it.

Anyway, it was nice to be barefoot again.  It's like a foot massage the whole time you are running.  My feet even start to itch a little when I'm running barefoot and the scratching of the concrete and asphalt feels nice.

Around the corner from our house is a mulberry tree that hangs over the sidewalk.  I could see purple dots all over the sidewalk as I was getting closer and I remember thinking "oh, the berries are falling off".  Wishful thinking.  What eats berries?  Birds.  What do birds do?  Crap everywhere.  I realized that about halfway through the mess.  Nasty.  At least I was still running and wearing it off.

After about .7 miles my feet started to sting a little and I was worried about blisters.  I checked them out and no signs so I decided the chilly pavement was just starting to get to me.  The stinging wasn't that bad and by the time I hit one mile I couldn't feel it anymore, so I just kept going.

I ended up doing a full 5K and even avoided the bird crap on the way home.  It certainly wasn't a fast run, about 40 seconds/mile slower than I had been running, but it was a good run.  I'm hopeful that I can keep going to below freezing temps.  Keep the snow away!  My goal is to be able to run the Gilman Memorial Turkey Trot barefoot on November 19.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gymboss Interval Timer - Gear Review

Isn't it about time you heard some more about what I think?  I thought so too.

I bought the Gymboss in April.  I was embarking on my latest running career (the one that ended up leading to running barefoot) and I was following Jeff Galloway's 5K training program.  His programs focus on run/walk intervals and I was actually using a kitchen timer to do my intervals.  It was kind of cumbersome and I was spending too much time fiddling with the timer when I was trying to run.

I decided that I would invent a timer that I could set to two different intervals.  I would also make it repeat the intervals over and over until I stopped it.  Genius!  However, my electronic design skills are limited, and I don't have a soldering iron.

I have found in life that whenever I run into a problem like this someone else usually has too and they have already done something about it. That is why I love doing home improvement projects.  I usually get to go but some new tool that I didn't have before.  (I'll have you soon, compound miter saw...)  There really is nothing new under the sun, as the saying goes.  A quick Google for "interval timer" introduced me to the Gymboss.

Front View
This is a handy little gadget.  It is really simple to operate and never failed me during use.  Here's a quick rundown of features:
  1. Able to set one or two intervals.
  2. Able to repeat your intervals automatically until you stop it, or you can set a specific number of intervals you want to do.
  3. Three alarm settings: beep high, beep low, or vibrate.  You can also set it to vibrate along with either beep setting.
  4. Three alarm durations, one beep, five seconds, or 10 seconds.
  5. Strong spring clip to hold onto clothes easily.
  6. Very light weight.  I even clipped it to the neck of my t-shirt once and it didn't pull at all.
Back view/clip.  Includes a quick refresher if you forget how to operate it.
Top view.  Next and change buttons.  Start button is on the right edge (not visible).
Next to my phone for size comparison.  No, I don't have an iPhone but I am still cool.
 I really like the Gymboss.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  I don't really use it to run much right now since I'm not doing intervals, but I do use it for the half-hearted Tabata training I do in my basement.  My only complaint is that it doesn't have a stopwatch on it.  If it had that, I would use it for running more.  I went to the Gymboss website to make this suggestion and found out that they actually do have a newer model now, with a stopwatch.  I don't want to spend the money to upgrade though, so I will sit in the corner and feel sorry for myself instead.  Ok, I'm over it.

This is a great little tool.  If you get one, make sure it is the new model with the stopwatch.  I hope the next model screams motivational phrases at you if you slow down.  That would be sweet!  I might even upgrade for that.  Check them out at

I sent the folks at Gymboss an email letting them know I did this review.  Just a few hours later I had a response thanking me and letting me know that my model did have a stopwatch.  All I have to do is press and hold the change button for three seconds and booyah!  Stopwatch.  Add great customer service to the list of things you get with your Gymboss timer.  I should also add that reading the directions you get with gear is a good idea!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Barefoot Running Coach Certification - Is it necessary?

Everyone likes to be a certified something.  Lord knows that a lot of my time has been spent acquiring more letters to put behind my name.  Is it always a good thing?  Is it necessary?  Do the letters guarantee results or can you put stock in them at all?  I think that the letters behind my name actually create more responsibility in my everyday life.  I see them as a mandate for keeping up with current understanding of the human machine and the best ways to help any given patient that walks in the door.

That being said, does a certification imply responsibility or can it be just a way to push your way into a place of authority?  Jason Robillard created some controversy when he published a blog post asserting that certifying Barefoot Running Coaches was a bad idea.  Christian Peterson jumped in the conversation with a well thought out post on the other side of the argument.  Christian's post alerted me to Angie Bee's thoughts on her own certification, and Katie Kift's "uneasyness" on certification.

I realize you are just dying to know where I stand on the issue.  It's a question that keeps you up at night and makes you jittery all day.  Well get ready for it, because here it comes!

I'm fine with certification, especially since the certification comes from Lee Saxby and VIVOBAREFOOT.  I've read Lee's awesome "Proprioception" publication and watched some video of him on YouTube and he really knows his stuff.  I was having a lot of trouble with form when I first started and Lee's video help was a great asset to my learning.  It was something I just couldn't understand from reading.  It was like I needed a coach or something...

I think the real trouble will start when anyone and everyone starts their own "certification" program.  What happens when Sketchers starts a "Natural Running" certification and starts teaching people how beneficial it is to run in Shape-ups because they "replicate a natural barefoot experience".  Think I'm kidding?  That is a direct quote from the GOrun section of their website.  I'm not going to link to it, but go check it out.  Look at some of the pictures of people happily overstriding, but landing "midfoot".  They have to land midfoot because there is a giant lump of foam in the way of landing on their heel.  It's really bad stuff.

I guess that's why I'm just fine with Saxby's program.  Get someone who knows about running out there first.  Good luck competing with Sketchers' marketing dollars though.  The point of this post is not to hate on Sketchers so I'll just say go check out their site and be amazed at what you see, then do the opposite of everything they say.

I think the important thing is to help each other out in the pursuit of better running form, barefoot or not.  Bad form kept me from a running career for years and that's almost distressing to me now that I have come to really enjoy it.  Absent a local coach, it is up to each of us to share our experiences and give our own tips and tricks to anyone who will listen, all the while encouraging people to research multiple perspectives until they find the way that works for them.  Share your thoughts on a forum or blog.  Here's a post I did on the topic.  Ask lots of questions and spark discussions on other people's blogs.

I envision a certified coach teaching larger groups on how to get started, but I'm not sure of the utility of teaching one on one.  Maybe it will be beneficial, but I know I probably wouldn't have paid someone to teach me.  I'm sure there are people out there who will, though.  I don't suppose it is that much different than taking golf or tennis lessons, but then again I've never paid for those either.  Maybe that's why I'm such a crappy tennis player.  More power to ya, Coaches!

I'm no pezzonovante in the barefoot running world, but I do have opinions.  What's your opinion?  Do you think running coaches, specifically barefoot coaches should be certified?  Leave a comment below or on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Running and Wheezing - Lungs, Asthma, and Smoking

Let me first say I wasn't smoking on my run tonight.  I'm sure that was obvious but I just wanted to clear the air, so to speak.

When I was in elementary and middle school I had some breathing troubles.  Asthma is a reactive disorder that causes constriction of the lung passages and therefore makes it difficult to breathe.  I was on different medications and a couple inhalers for a while, but pretty much grew out of it.  I had some trouble in high school, but nothing major.  I was never the kid that was hauled off to the ER at 2:00 am turning blue.  I feel bad for those little buggers.  I can't imagine how they must feel.  I still deal with seasonal allergies and have trouble with mold in the air, but I don't need medication anymore.  I do have a rescue inhaler just in case, but I'm not really sure why.

The main point to this post is that I had a lot of trouble breathing on my run tonight.  I did two miles, and had to walk twice.  I was actually feeling pretty rough and I was having reactive airway problems.  My allergies have been really flared up for the last few weeks and now harvest has begun in Minnesota so there is a lot of dust floating around.  I almost gave up on my run early, but the short walks did help.  The first walk was at about 1.5 miles.  My lungs were really wheezing and I ran past a bench across the street from St. Mary's Hospital.  This bench is where Hospital employees take their smoke breaks since they aren't allowed to smoke on the hospital property.  When I ran by, there were three of them sitting on the bench and as soon as I got a little second-hand my lungs shut off.  Cigarette smoke usually doesn't bother me but just half a whiff kicked my ass tonight.

I walked for half a block or so, then was able to get going again.  A stitch in my side stopped me again a couple blocks later, but that resolved quickly just by putting my arm up for a second.  I ran the rest of the 4 blocks home.  As I was nearing our house I pulled my phone out of the case to check my distance covered and was glad to see it was almost two miles.  I ran past our house to finish those last 5/100ths of a mile.  Probably not necessary, but I like round numbers.  As I hit the 2 mile mark I looked at the pace.  9:13/mile!  15-20 seconds faster than normal, and all while my lungs were shutting down.  Pretty nice for my slow legs and it's no wonder my lungs were burning a bit.  I'm glad my conditioning is improving well.

The moral of the story is that I'm glad I finished the run.  I know it's never best to push it when you aren't feeling well, but in this instance I'm glad I did.  I wonder what my pace would have been if I hadn't walked that little bit.