Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fruit Of The Day - Durian

I just got back from a trip to Miami, where I feasted on all kinds of fruit. I think I had 48 that I had never had before, which is pretty astounding when you think about it.

Southern Florida is obviously a place that's ideal for raw foodism and health. Plenty of sun, plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, plenty of beach....

Anyway, one of my favorite viands was the Durian, an asian fruit that wreaks of onions and last week's garbage.

It tastes like ambrosia, though, and I'm already missing it. It's like the sweetest custard you could ever imagine.

They're armored like a tank, and heavy enough so they've been known to kill people when they fall from tress.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Same Route, Less Footwear

I tried the same route from the other day, only in my five fingers.

Sure enough, all those bodily complaints disappeared. The only issue was the cut on the top of my foot got ripped open, but the run in general was really smooth.

At 5-odd miles it was also the longest I've gone with no shoes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Transitioning To A Raw Diet

I've gotten a few emails lately from people who want to know how to go about transitioning to a raw diet. It can seem daunting, I know. I wrote up this guide to help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shoes - Nope, Still Not Good.

I managed to gash the top of my foot the other day, and because the tight-fitting mesh of the five fingers would have ripped open the wound again, I decided to put on my old running shoes and see how the experiences differs with almost barefooting.

The difference is pretty astronomical.

No wonder I injured myself before. As I ran on W. Main after just 5.5 miles, I was aching all over.

I was trying to maintain my new stride in shoes, and successfully landed forefoot first, but it felt odd.

After a few miles my knees and shoulders were aching, just like they always have in shoes.

When I was over at OMNI Physical therapy they were amazed at how jammed up my feet and ankles got when running. I think I may have found the answer. After hauling off my shoes my feet weren't moving too well, though they had been fine in my five fingers.

Remember when I OMNI told me about my right leg not moving right? I worked on stretching out the muscle and got it under control after a month or so, but I hadn't realized that the issue had healed. I haven't had to stretch after each barefoot run, but running in my shoes I felt a distinct painful pull in the area.

In short, no more motion-control running shoes for me. I should avoid these things like the plague.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Illustrating The Stride Difference

I've gotten some emails from people asking me about the physical aspect of my new stride, and I found this online to demonstrate what I'm talking about. It's a flash animation that you can slow down to see the stress a heel strike puts on your body. Notice the difference on how far out the leg goes


Also, you might want to check out this interesting article. Skip the history part if you're only interested in the injury aspect.

On running injury reduction

Also, because people are continuously mystified by the fact that I have over 100 pounds of fruit in my house at any given time, I wrote up a guide on managing fruit

My Recent Runs

I've been trying to take it easy with my recent barefoot runs. Here's one I've done a few times. It's a nice jaunt through Walnut Grove Cemetery, but also includes varied terrain like broken sidewalk slabs, etc.

Newspaper Update

This ran in the Record-Journal Friday:

It's kind of like streaking, only with your feet. This was my off-the-cuff explanation to a friend when he found me jogging barefoot on a rare stretch of goose feces-free grass at Hubbard Park the other day.

I wasn't exaggerating too much. You feel every part of the earth that you traverse, and your feet conform to the terrain instead of staying static, locked in a solid running shoe. Stabilizing muscles that haven't been used much in years groan and strain to pick up the slack.

It's a completely different tactile experience than running shod. It's enjoyable, and is kind of freeing, but it also teaches a good lesson - how not to run.

After hurting a bone in both feet training for the Hartford Marathon in September, I had two months to ponder what I'd done wrong.

Just about anyone that knows about running would tell me to get some orthotics to correct my pronating feet and hope for the best, but given the rate at which runners injure themselves, that's not a path in which I have much faith.

And it just doesn't sit with me well that mankind ran unshod for millennia, apparently without suffering too much from it, yet my feet are defective and need correction.

So my response is to run el natural, or as close to it as I can get, and see if those expensive running shoes designed to stabilize my feet were contributing to my problem.

I've done a bit of research and found that spending more time barefoot decreases your chance of developing arthritis in the knees, and those who run barefoot at least some of the time have a decreased chance of developing the muscle strain plantar fasciitis, the bane of many runners, and of spraining their ankles.

Olympian Greeks, and the African runners who still go barefoot today, build up tough skin on their feet, but my pasty western hide doesn't especially like being rubbed against concrete, I've found.

So I've started using Vibram Five Fingers, a sort of glove for your foot. There's just enough plastic on the bottom to protect the sole from the shards of glass and rough concrete found on the streets of Meriden, but not enough to mask the clear signals the body sends that you're running wrong - such as when your heel painfully slams into the ground.

"You look like an idiot with gloves on your feet," my friend told me, as I demonstrated what I was up to.

"Yep, pretty much," is the only answer I had for him.

So what's the proper way to run, according to my noshoe method?

I'm still working on it, but it appears to be significantly different than the way I see many people running . I keep my torso erect, my feet come down flatfooted, and I take smaller, more numerous steps. Instead of reaching with my leg and pulling the rest of my body forward, my feet don't travel beyond what would be the perimeter of my shadow under a midday sun.

The end result is really pretty fun. I feel lighter, and my body isn't being jarred with every step. It's more of an animalistic lope than what I've traditionally expected from a run.

So now those unused muscles are a bit sore, especially my calves, but they don't hurt in a bad way, as did my bone injury.

After the - admittedly brief - two- and three-miles test runs I've been doing almost barefoot over the past few days, I'm noticing less strain in my shoulder blades, knees and back when I get done. It just feels better.

It's not all great, though. You also lose the safety net of a shoe. Lost in thought, my heel came down hard Tuesday on the jagged edge of one of the numerous broken slate sidewalk pieces around the city, and the center of my heel is still sore.

It's going to take me some time to build back up with a new method to the 20-mile runs that I was doing before I got injured. Hopefully, if I keep training over the winter, I can get ready for a spring marathon.

I'll have to see if my body has trouble with the abuse of long distance running with no padding.

I'm not sure what I'll do when winter comes and I can't wear the Five Fingers anymore, but I'll just have to play it by ear.