Monday, October 31, 2011

Best Sellers In Men's Running Shoes

At Amazon, no minimalist shoes until no. 17, the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove.  Next it's the Tough Glove at 44, and Vibram FiveFingers KSO at 50.  (I'm skipping the New Balance Minimus MT10 at 47, because it's got a heel rise.)

Still a long way to go...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Constipation Myths and Facts"

If you were wondering.  Some interesting information in there.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Doctor Told Me He Could Not Believe It"

I can:

"He told me that I was lucky to be walking and that I would be in a neck brace for about a year and we would just have to see how my body took to the bone fusion. He then said that he doubted that I would ever be able to do high intensity sports again...."

"...But since my diagnosis was grim I decided to look into everything that could possibly benefit me. I began researching what might help my recovery and stumbled onto At first I was just intrigued by how different of an approach it was from everything else I had come across. After reading for a long while, a lot of it seemed to make sense to me and I decided that I would give it a shot.

"Over the next few months, I stopped taking supplements, stopped eating grains and legumes, and ate a high omega 3 diet with clean protein..."
Hmm. That diet sounds familiar. Oh yeah:

"What exactly was this diet? Here's how it was described in the paper (note: cereals = grains):

"...instead of cereals- for example, bread, oatmeal, rice, and tapioca- an increased allowance of potatoes and other vegetables, milk, fat, meat, and eggs was given. The total sugar, jam, and syrup intake was the same as before. Vitamin D was present in abundance in either cod-liver oil or irradiated ergosterol, and in egg yolk, butter, milk, etc. The diet of these children was thus rich in those factors, especially vitamin D and calcium, which experimental evidence has shown to assist calcification, and was devoid of those factors- namely, cereals- which interfere with the process."
Cod-liver oil is a good source of omega-3 fats, of course.  It's not suprising at all that a diet that heals your teeth would also heal your bones.  And our caveman ancestors recovered from some pretty brutal injuries, so it's not surprising at all that the paleolithic diet should help bones to heal.
Read the whole thing.

Authentic Paleolithic Sports

"Wife" being carried
This is excellent:

"Wife Carrying Championships feature many similarly strange rules, and perhaps the oddest one is this: the wife you carry doesn’t even have to be yours. According to the official rules, “The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbor's, or you may have found her further afield.” The only requirement is that she is at least 17 years old.

"The World Championships originated in Finland and take place there annually. There’s historic context to all this: some say the event commemorates a 19th-century marauder whose gang raided small villages to steal food and kidnap the town’s women. Others think it recalls a custom of young men sneaking into neighboring villages to steal someone’s wife for their own, literally carrying them back to their own house. Sure, it’s barbaric, but realistically, there probably weren’t many other sports in early Finland aside from wife stealing...."

Stealing wives was a part of many cultures.  This sport could have world-wide appeal.

"Sounds Gross, Works Great: Fecal Transplants Cure Nasty C. Diff Infections"

Given the predelictions of the medical profession, it's only used as a last resort:

"A new review of more than two dozen scientific reports involving 317 patients, some dating back 50 years, finds that fecal bacteriotherapy, commonly known as fecal transplant, cured the problem in 92 percent of the cases. Nearly all got better after just one treatment. That's a better record than other treatments, including probiotics, toxin-binding molecules and an experimental vaccine."
The bacteria from the healthy donor out-compete the bad bugs, and you get better without using antibiotics to destroy your symbiotic biome. 

Which is what causes C. Diff infections in the first place.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Advice For Novice Marathoners by Arthur Lydiard"

Read the whole thing:
"Eat normal meals during race week. People who have been training thousands of miles have a greater ability to lift their blood-sugar levels than the untrained. You've been hearing alot about carbo-loading these days, take my advice, forget about the carbohydrate-loading and eat your normal meals. Don't overeat on race day. If you have eaten well the week before a race and lightened the training workload, you should not require very much food on the day of the race. If you are racing early, a light breakfast of cereal with some toast and honey, tea or coffee should be sufficient---and the less the better. On race day and the day before, do not eat foods that will form gas in your stomach. Gas can cause pain and cramps throughout the large intestine."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Does A Healthy Diet Cause Distress?

I don't think it should. 

"Too Many Vegetables? How To Prevent Gas and Digestive Problems Caused By Healthy Eating":

"The number of questions I get from people about bloating, gas and other digestive problems is not small, and since it is a sensitive subject I’m sure the questions I get represent just a fraction of those of you with concerns."

One of the real joys of adopting a "paleo-style" diet has been a great reduction in gas and digestive upset.  "Elimination" is a better way to put it, in fact.  (I originally wrote "near-elimination", but that is not correct, in my experience.) So my inclination is that if you're suffering, that's prima facie evidence that you're not eating a healthy diet.

Ms. Pino has a number of good suggestions, but I think the best one would be to follow a program like the Primal Blueprint or the Perfect Health Diet for 30 days, and see if you can't just eliminate your digestive upset entirely.  It worked for me and for my family.

In my experience, grains, vegetable oils, beans, and starch are the main offenders, in that order.  (Vegetable oils are typically produced from grains or beans, so that's not too surprising.)  Another note: "lactose intolerance" is a typical side-effect of wheat poisoning, and often goes away once wheat is eliminated.  I consider "lactose intolerance" to be a symptom of wheat poisoning, in fact.

So skip the Beano, and skip the beans.  You just might feel a whole lot better.

Ms. Pino's of a similar opinion.

Sneaker-Related Injuries

I've surely had this happen when shod:

"Back to that barefoot trail runner I mentioned earlier. We were running a 5K trail race at a similar pace. Every time the course opened up to a field, he was way ahead of me, and then back in the woods, he slowed considerably and I caught up with him. So I figured that I would pass him in the woods. And I did, while he carefully placed his bare feet on the uneven trail, I roared ahead. Until I caught my foot on a root and landed directly on my knee. Barefoot Man politely asked if I was ok as he glided past. Was it my unnatural, un-sensing shoes that caught on that root, or am I just uncoordinated? I'm not sure, but he crossed the finish a minute ahead of me and my bloody knee."

Shoes cause all sorts of injuries that we don't think of as being caused by shoes.  Sprained ankles are another one, as are blisters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Fitzgerald On Barefoot Running

Not very compelling:

"As the number of barefoot experimenters who tear Achilles tendons, strain calves, fracture calcaneal bones,* and mutilate plantar fascia accumulates, fear of injury may prevent more and more runners from trying the same experiment, despite their evident curiosity."
I participate in an active barefoot running forum (See "Links" to the right).  I've not heard of any torn achilles tendons, fractured calcaneal bones, or mutilated plantar fascia from people in that forum.  Strained calves, yes, but so what?  I have heard of a lot of people who've cured plantar fasciitis with barefoot-style running, and loads of people, myself included, who've seen shin splints vanish for good. 

Fitzgerald doesn't have *any* evidence that there is a "barefoot running injury epidemic", just a few unlikely anecdotes.

I don't believe that these doctors are seeing that many barefoot running injuries because there simply aren't that many people running in their bare feet in the United States.

* I did break both my heel bones in high school, btw.  Oddly enough the heels on my shoes did not protect my heel bones when I jumped off a stair case and landed on the heels.

Merrell Barefoot Road Glove Review

Christian's right on this:

"In fact, I think there are a ton of people out there who are looking for a Trail Glove, but for roads. So much in fact, that unless something really drastic happens this shoe is very likely going to be the biggest minimal shoe of 2012."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Famed Barefoot Runner Tegla Loroupe Running On Clouds

On Cloudsurfer, with CloudTec™!
I have no interest in these, but it is interesting that Ms. Loroupe will be running the NY Marathon in them.

I wish her luck. 

I also wonder if she'd wear these if there were no money in it...  Less is more when it comes to shoes, but one still needs to eat.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bacteria Help People Digest Wheat?

Interesting, and it makes sense: Rothia to the rescue:

"...With regard to duodenal Rothia enzyme activity, it is relevant that R. mucilaginosa gains a foothold in the duodenum [36]. This offers the intriguing possibility that Rothia may colonize the duodenum and perform proteolytic activities locally in conjunction with mammalian-derived enzymes to degrade gluten.
The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine, and is one of the first organs to be damaged by wheat poisoning.  A helpful bacteria digesting the toxic components of wheat would be a real asset...

Run the Farm Race Report

Muscoot Farm
What a great race.  The farm in "Run the Farm" is the Muscoot farm, a county park in Westchester County, NY.  The creators of the terrific Leatherman's Loop race also run this one, and it shows.

I ran Leatherman's Loop this spring, and it was the most fun race I've done.  Never got around to writing a race report, however.  Micah True (Caballo Blanco) also ran the race, along with a whole bunch of other lunatics.  You've got to love a race with a mariachi band at the bottom of the toughest hill...

Leatherman's is a 10k, this was only a 5 miler, but the relationship between the two race becomes clear as soon as you start running.  These are real trail races, the terrain is difficult, injury is a real possibility, and the folks who lay out the trail like steep hills.  Godino's Grind, named for the founder, was the worst of the lot, and I walked the bulk of that hill, as did most folks I saw. 

I like to run hills, and I live in a hilly area on top of a hill, so most of my regular runs are hill runs.  The problem this creates for me is that I pass people going up and down hills, and get passed on the flats.  This race, therefore, was tailor-made for me: there were no flats.  It was all up and down hill; I don't think there was a single flat stretch in the entire course.  Pretty cool stuff!

Hope with her medal
 They also had a kids' mile race prior to the start of the 5 milers. They had 320 kids race!  100 under 6 years old!  All the kids got a terrific medal. Hope ran her first race, and I hope will want to do another.  Emily Snayd, who put together the Merrell Barefoot event in NYC was also there with her family.  She ran with her kids, and her husband ran the five-miler.  In the Merrell Barefoot Sonic Glove.  Merrell eats their own food.

Minimalist running really pays off in a trail race.  Trail running barefoot-style teaches you to be light on your feet, and keeping your feet under your center of gravity reduces the chance of slipping out.  Which, in my book, means I could pass everyone when they slowed down for stone walls and muddy stream crossings.  I just bounded across, not needing to slow down, since slipping and falling was not something I was really concerned about.  The only time I've fallen since going fully minimalist two years ago was when I've stubbed toes or tried to slow myself by using my heels. 

Again the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove was my shoe of choice, and again it was flawless.  Love those shoes.  Hope wore the Pace Glove.  While the TGs are my favorite trail racing shoe, I don't run in them much other than that.  So the poor things go from muddy races to the washing machine, and then off to the next race.  They still look brand new when they come out of the washing machine.  I felt slightly guilty putting on spotless shoes this morning, but I got over it.  I've still not gotten a single blister from them.

For fueling, I did my usual drill of coffee with grass-fed cream, and nothing else.  This time I also skipped dinner the night before, having only a small piece of meat at a party I went to.  Lots of energy during the race (more on that below) and wasn't even thirsty afterward.  This is the first race I've run where I got to the finish line and wasn't the least bit interested in water.

A few notes on training for the race.  I didn't.  In fact, one could argue that I counter-trained.   Last Saturday I ran 11 miles barefoot at my Maffetone heart rate.  Then on Sunday I went mountain biking with a bunch of cross-country racers.  I didn't even bring the HRM along for that one, as it was a social ride, and I'm not going to let trying to train to be a better runner rule my life.  So I rode hard, the dog ran hard, and we both crashed in the afternoon.  (The dog also did the 11 mile run, also barefoot.)  I managed to get a little running in during the week, and decided, against all good planning, to repeat the 11-miler the day before the race.  Yeah, I know.  But I had no chance of winning it, so who really cared. 

One of the things Lee Saxby had told me to focus on was pressing the big toe when running.  This worked miracles on my weak foot, clearing up the pain in that foot in a few days.  And last week I focused on this during the run.  This week, of course, I forgot, and overdid it on the second toe on the good foot.  I may have pulled the tendon under the second toe, or something, but it's not happy.  Pressing the big toe down is the only thing that helps.

So I arrived at the race limping and having done 11 miles the day before.  At a slow Maffetone pace, but still.  Brilliant planning.  I decided to give it my all, what ever little bit that happened to be.

So off we went. (Yes, they started the race with a cow bell.) I'm pretty sure we ran up hill for the first 2.5 miles.  There were a couple of downhills, but that was only so you could run up the other side.  I started off strong, and pretty quickly started working my way through the crowd.

I never stopped working my way through the crowd.  Typically I find a pace group, run with them for most of the race, and then crap out and get passed at the end.  This time I expected the same thing to happen.  Oh, and I'd forgotten to bring my Garmin, so I had no idea where I was in the race.  But, I had decided to give it my all.  I kept passing people, picking them off on the single track.  I got passed myself a few times, but the pooped feeling never arrived.  In fact I ran a hard race at the end against a woman I'd been switching places with for the second half of the race.  I decided there was no way she was going to beat me, and put the hammer down.  I crossed the finish line at a dead sprint, with that woman right behind me.

Goofy picture
 The Maffetone heart-rate training I've been doing seems to be paying off.  I've never had that kind of energy in a race before, and it was all hills!  The results haven't been posted yet, but Emily told me I finished pretty early in the crowd.  We'll see.  But this was the first race I've ever done where I felt better at the end of the race than I did at the beginning.  Legs feel great.  Even the second toe feels OK, as I was focusing on the toe-press for the entire race this time.  That was easy, as it hurt when I didn't.

So a great race, and after the Paine to Pain half marathon of a few weeks ago, I'm feeling pretty good about my training approach.

Oh yeah, no crash after the race, and absolutely no carb cravings.  The fat-burning approach seems to be working so far.

And the nice thing about running these small local trail races: I ran into a family we're good friends with.  Dad ran, Mom ran the race with the kids, who did really well.  It's a great sport.

P.S.  Results are out.  I ran a 9:13 pace, which compares with the 9:06 I ran in the recent Paine to Pain half.  I would like to have seen a faster number, but then it was a much hillier course.  Tough to compare one trail race to another else, since the courses are so unique.  But what's important is feeling so great during the race.

Oh, and pressing the big toe as I'm walking around has got the sore second toe almost back to normal.

P.P.S. Here's the elevation profile for Paine to Pain:

Paine to Pain Half Marathon Elevation Profile
And here's Run the Farm:

Run the Farm Elevation Profile

So I guess 7 seconds/mile pace difference isn't all that bad...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Running The Army Ten Miler Barefoot


Future King Of England Wearing Toe Shoes?

Could be.  And a closet barefooter, too.  That's kind of cool.

"The royal, who is currently in the US on an advanced helicopter training course, was shopping in the The Marine Corps Exchange when he spotted a pair of the £85 ‘classic‘ shoes.

"‘We couldn’t quite believe it when we saw them, but he snapped them right up,’ said a source...."

Hopefully he sticks with it, it would surely be good for the movement.  And the fact that he bought his Vibrams at a US Marine base is great.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Stretching Doesn’t Prevent Or Reduce Muscle Soreness"

It doesn't seem to do much at all:

"As the Cochrane Review notes, people generally stretch for one of three reasons:
  1. reduce the risk of injury;
  2. enhance athletic performance;
  3. reduce soreness after exercise..."

It doesn't seem to do any of the above, as the link makes clear.

So why stretch?  Capability.  If you want to be able too do x, and it requires you to be limber, you've got one way of getting limber.  Do x until you're limber, or stretch in anticipation of the need.

The one stretch I do regularly is the potty squat, which I've found key to resolving my leg issues.  But I am going to be doing a bit more stretching because I've gotten to the point where my lack of capability is getting annoying.  The downside of a desk job.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Another Statin-Pushing Doctor"

"It’s a sad situation when we have to ignore our doctors’ advice in order to stay healthy."
Indeed.  Time for a new doctor.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon Report, Mark II

Last year I ran this race, hence the "Mark II" on this report title, and quite enjoyed it.  I just re-read that report, and have nothing to add to the first few paragraphs as an introduction to this race, so I'll repeat them here:

Thomas Paine
"First, let me say what a great, well-run race this was. The course was terrific and well-marked, the volunteers were enthusiastic and numerous, and they even had cheerleaders at the start and the finish. Race Director Eric Turkewitz and his team deserve a ton of credit for putting this race together. I really can't think of one thing wrong with the race today, they even arranged for perfect weather.

"The course starts next to Thomas Paine's cottage, in New Rochelle, NY, heads up a hill, and then follows the Colonial Greenway trail, ending on the track at the high school near to the start. The first mile or so gets you up and over a ridge between one drainage and another on roads, and then you hit the Leatherstocking trail, a windy, rocky single-track through Westchester County. From there the balance of the trail is on bridle paths that wind near the Hutchinson Parkway back to New Rochelle. It's a nice course, and, as the RD put it: 'Hilly, for Westchester. This isn't the mountains.'

"Most of my report on this is about my personal progress, with some race details thrown in, so bear with me if you're still reading. ;)..."

This year the weather was perfect, but it rained several hours before the race started, and for several days before.  So the trail was quite muddy.  Which didn't seem to hold anyone back (the winning time was 1:21), but definitely made for a more interesting run, especially in the single-track sections, and across the wet, muddy wooden bridges.

Last year I ran this race in my New Balance MT101s, and was left with a serious case of IT band syndrome in my "bad" leg, which took about 6 weeks to recover.  I've spent most of the last year working on that leg, and today was my big test of what, if any progress I have made.  I'll note that to conduct this experiment in the most scientific manner possible, I should have worn my MT101s again (I'd worn the MT100 on the training run for the half last year, so that would have been an acceptable substitute); but I decided that I really wasn't in the mood for a long rehab again, since all my previous knee-related running injuries had occurred in those shoes.  So I passed on "science": I couldn't get the experiment past the ethical review board.  Self-mutilation is generally frowned upon, after all.

Very well used
I ran instead in my Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves, the shoe I wish had existed when I bought and modified my MTs.  As usual, they were excellent.  I'll post something seperately on that.

As far as the race goes: last year my knee gave way at about the 6 mile mark, leaving me limping for the next 7 miles.  I must have been limping pretty quickly, or, more likely, ran far too fast in the first part of the race.  Injuries aside, I somehow managed to eke out a 2:06:26 time, which was pretty decent for my first trail half, and about 10 minutes slower than my first road half, the Brooklyn Half.

This year as I looked at my Garmin and saw I'd passed the five-mile mark I felt a twinge in my right IT Band again.  Hypochondria is a very real thing, apparently.  I quickly decided that this was entirely a function of an over-active imagination, and it promptly went away.  And never reoccured.

I wound up finishing in 1:59:25, a result I'm very happy with, especially given the tougher conditions.  I ran a smarter race, I think.  I'd also like to note that the Maffetone training I've been doing seem to have paid dividends.  I've not blogged about it yet, but I've been pursuing this for the last couple of months, and running almost entirely at slow speeds does indeed seem to improve your results in races; at least it doesn't impede it.

I'd like to thank Lee Saxby.  His tip on pressing down with the big toe when running was continuosly on my mind during this run.  I think I may have over done it a bit, as I started to get some soreness at the first metatarsal head during the run, but I eased off on the press a bit, and was fine.  I still have a little lingering soreness there, but consider that a minor inconvenience.  Changing your gait is never trivial, and doing it during a race fraught with hazard.  But it was an excellent tip and I'm enjoying the easiest post-race recovery I've ever had.  My legs feel great; sore, of course, but I spent most of Sunday after the race on my feet.  I have no discomfort whatsoever in my knees or my metatarsal-cuboid joint, which has been plagueing me for a few months.  That's a good result!

Barefoot-style running, which I'm starting to take for granted, really pays off in a race like this.  With good form little slips are not a concern, and as little slips were a constant for a good part of this, you can keep up a quicker pace with more confidence that you're not going to wipe out.  Ankle-turns are also not a concern, and finishing with your joints in tip-top shape is a nice benefit.

I also did a much better job of pacing myself during the race.  The Garmin was invaluable for that, and I backed off a number of times early in the race, and when walking up hills, to keep my legs in reserve and my heart rate down.  Thanks to some of Krupicka's latest blog posts, I didn't feel a desire to run up all the hills, especially later in the race.  I had a good bit of energy for a quick last mile, which is usually where I struggle. 

Additionally my training and racing nutrition plan since going 'paleo' and low-carb has been to exercise in a fasted condition.  As usual, my pre-race nutrition was a large cup of coffee with some cream.  I started obsessing over carbs in the latter part of the race, but when I finished, that largely evaporated.  More hypochondira, most likely.  I had a shot-glass sized fruit smoothy at the finish line, and an apple, and felt fine.  No post-race crash, either, which has also been a regular and unwelcome part of the routine.  Hopefully the combination of a low-carb diet and Maffetone training are improving my abilities as a fat-burner; again, it certainly didn't impede my performance.

I'd set a lofty goal of 1:45 and a negative split.  I came pretty close to a negative split, but not my time goal.  Nevertheless the race was a good and satisfying improvement.  Hopefully I'll be able to put my half-marathon injury streak behind me, and move on to a marathon.

Thanks to my friends at the Huaraches group for all their advice and assistance.

1st 7 miles, Avg09:05.3178
Total Avg09:09.5177