Archive for January, 2010

An Evening With The Stars

I need to post here more often, I’m stating to accumulate topics to write about.
I got paced by a bus this morning. Yes, really. The Park Street bridge that I cross at the beginning and end of my runs is a lifting bridge and the buses are required to stop before crossing. And so I ran past the Transbay bus as it was stopped. When it started again and drew level, it stayed level. I could not see the driver in the dark, but waved anyway and sped up. So did he. So then I turned on the jets and drew ahead. By the far end of the bridge I was going full out (The Garmin recorded a few seconds at 4:25 pace) and the bus blew past. That was fun.
Yesterday thee marathon training group was hosted by Innersports Chiropractic in Berkeley, where we saw a demonstration of video gait analysis, and listened to a talk on Marathon training and prep by Perter Gilmore and Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. On the subject of the big hill in the Oakland marathon course, Peter remarked “You have two months to go. Be afraid of it now so you’ll be well prepared on the day.” This led to a discussion on hill work. Magda talked about specificity in training. Although she likes the treadmill, particularly for hill repeats, and loves the trails, sh runs the majority of her miles on the roads. It’s not just a matter of gait-tuning for hard surfaces, but the road miles strengthen you so that you’re less likely to get injured during an actual race. When I asked her afterwards what races she has coming up, it turned out she’s training for the cross-country nationals, so some of her miles are on grass in spikes. If she gets onto the U.S. team, she’ll go to the world championship in March in her native Poland, and her 98-year old grandmother will get to see her race. Here’s hoping she makes the team!
Nutrition factoids from the talk: Women don’t benefit much from carbo-loading, And don’t have your regular breakfast on race-day. You need to be vary low-fiber in the final 24 hours, to avoid those emergency bathroom breaks during the race.



I’ve been encountering some further wildlife. On Monday it was a skunk, not far from the last one. It might even have been the same animal. I was running along an unlit section of trail on Bay Farm Island and just thinking “Hmm smells a bit skunky here” before realizing that the dark patch on the trail ahead was matching my speed. I stopped, and it ducked into the long grass to the side. The strip of green is only about ten feet wide with a dropoff to the bay, so I waited for a few seconds. There he was, doubling back in the grass. He stopped opposite me with his tail up and I slowly started walking. Down went the tail, and we went our separate ways. The very next day I nearly ran over a raccoon in Alameda, He remained calm while I zigged past him. Sheesh!

There has been a lot of chatter about running barefoot or in minimal shoes lately. I’ve read Christopher McDougall’s “Born To Run”, looked at some of the punditry online, and formed some tentative conclusions. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that people with chronic injury problems have seen some improvement after they started to run barefoot or in very thin shoes. Most of these runners are not high-mileage or particularly fast, so it’s reasonable to suppose that their problems were gait-related. Of the various ways to improve your form, running barefoot has the advantage that it works without supervision from a coach. I’ve been self-doctoring my gait for quite a while now, and think it’s still capable of improvement. I’ve added some barefoot minutes to my shorter runs. I don’t think it’s changing my footstrike much (I’m mid-to-heel), but I’m bending my knees a bit more. I need to keep at it to see if it’s having any effect on my shod running. It’s fun to do, and gives me a better appreciation of my feet as a collection of moving parts.

Apparently quite a few track coaches have their runners do barefoot drills on grass, so this is not exactly new. I’m running on a smooth well-lit concrete path near to home, since suitable grass is not available nearby. This being January, I can only run for a few minutes before my feet get cold which is no bad thing. Easy does it. Will I be getting some “Foot Gloves” to extend my forays? I’m going to try something a little more basic first. Barefoot Ted, who appeared in McDougall’s book, got a lesson in sandal-making from Manuel Luna of the Tarahumara tribe in Copper Canyon. He is now selling custom-made and kit Huarache running sandals from his website. I have ordered a kit. It puts a bit of protective stuff between your foot and the sharp stones. This is your basic running footgear 1.0, as might have been worn by Achilles as he ran down Hector under the walls of Troy, only updated with modern rubber. It might be fun, or it might be a bust. At some point I’ll be trying on some flats. Brooks make some nice ones.

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


January 2010
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