Archive for the ‘trail running’ Category

A Barefoot Runner’s Playground   Leave a comment

When everyone else was running the Condura Marathon, I took the opportunity to run along side the Marikina River. If you’re a barefoot runner, or maybe you’re trying to start running barefoot, then I suggest you try running that route, too.

From Marikina Riverbanks, I walked my way to the, er, river bank and ran on the left side of the river. Even though I’ve heard a lot about people running this route, I was still surprised by the number of people running with me. Marikina is definitely into the fitness.

The route is definitely a scenic one, with statues and gardens and murals everywhere, not to mention the river itself. Sadly, many of them have been vandalized.

They still helped with the run though, I couldn’t wait to see the next sculpture or painting, or even the plants. I think they made me run faster!Did you know there’s a corn farm there?

So what about barefoot running?

I always believe that if you want to run barefoot, you have to expose your feet to as many and to as rough a terrain as possible. This is to build feet strength. It also helps in improving the running form.

Don’t worry, your feet can take it. Unlike what many shoe companies would tell you, your feet are actually tougher than you think. Just remember to always listen to your feet, and to relax, relax, relax.

Now back to running along the riverbank. Let me take you through the route I took last Sunday.

go to the far left

When I went left, The surface I was running was on pavement much like what you’d see on sidewalks. Smooth, straight, clean (this is Marikina after all) pavement. The only thing to worry about are the other runners, walkers and bikers; with the occasional small rocks.

After about three kilometers, you’ll get to a school/military facility. I’m not sure which it was, but it had barracks (one building had a board which said “barracks”) and a lot of strctures used for exercise (pull up bars and ropes, etc). Going past that, you’ll see a sign which said “no vehicles allowed”.

Then you’d notice the path start getting narrower and narrower, being replaced by thick grass and shrubs. Now you would have to watch out for stray sticks.

this is dessert

Then the pavement disappears altogether and you’d be running on grassy dirt path. This would go for another kilometer until you get to the dead end.

road less traveled

The dead end:

a cliff!


Going back, you run a kilometer or so, waiting for the next bridge going to the other side of the river. The metal bridge was cold to the feet, and maybe a bit too smooth.

On the right side of the river, after crossing the bridge, you’ll be running on unfinished road.

You’ll encounter dirt paths:

nature, baby!

Gravel-y dirt paths:

eyes on the path.. a must!

Newly paved roads:

nice group of people.. and they're on the way.

And gravel!

can you say "ouch"?

It’s amazing how your running form will suddenly change with each terrain. You almost don’t have to think about it because the body adjusts automatically. And if it doesn’t, your feet will immediately teach you the right form. Yes, that’s what that sharp pain is for.

Ouch.


8 Questions   Leave a comment

 – Why do you run barefoot?

– How long have you been running barefoot?

– Can you run races running barefoot?

– Does it hurt?

– What if you step on something sharp?

– Have you asked a doctor about barefoot running?

– Your running must be limited since you can’t run on rough ground, right?

– Why don’t you use those funny looking barefoot running shoes?

***

When people see me running without shoes on, and get curious or interested enough to approach me and ask, these are the most common questions I get.

Truth be told, aside from through this blog, I rarely recommend running barefoot to other people personally. The most I would say is to try sometimes in smooth roads where one is sure there won’t be any sharp objects one could step on, maybe inside the garage or the house or on the streets of plush subdivisions.

I only have one reason: I don’t want to be blamed if something bad happens. Hehe..

Believe me, there’s a lot more people you’d better off asking about this than me. There’s tons of reasons for and against barefoot running, and I sure don’t know enough to advocate either.

Like most people, I run because it’s fun and don’t bother much with the technicalities. I don’t know how to use heart monitors. I don’t really know how pronation (or supination) affects running. I have never taken energy gels or beans or bars, nor do I really bother with “runners’ diets”. Heck, many of what I know about running barefoot came from personal research from the Internet, mostly from therunningbarefoot.com.

***

So to once and for all answer the questions above, here’s my answers:

Q: Why do you run barefoot?

A: The short answer is because I really have a lot more fun running without than with shoes. And if (and only if) pressed for a “better” answer, then that would be because my knees and ankles don’t hurt when I run without shoes. It hurt when I was running with shoes.

 

Q. How long have you been running barefoot?

A. I started transitioning to running barefoot December 2009.

 

Q: Can you run races running barefoot? Your running must be limited since you can’t run on rough ground, right?

A: Yes on being able to run races. My first barefoot race was the Men’s Health 4th All-Terrain Race, of which I joined the 6k Trail Run event. I also joined a road 5k.

 

Q: Does it hurt? Don’t you get blisters? Your feet are probably full of callouses now.

A: It doesn’t hurt as long as I keep a correct running form. The form really helps in making my feet land softly on the ground.

 

Q: What if you step on something sharp?

A: To be honest, this has never (and I hope it stays that way) happened to me yet. One thing people automatically assume (which I find crazy) is that our streets are so filthy, and every inch of it seems to be littered with cans, glass, nail and sharp rocks. It’s not, people!

 

Q: Have you asked a doctor about barefoot running?

A: Might be something I should have done, but no, I haven’t. I seem to have an aversion to talking with doctors. I didn’t even return to the doctor when one asked me to get an MRI for my knee pain. I do recommend that one get assessed by a doctor first before trying any sport or fitness activity.

 

Q: Why don’t you use those funny looking barefoot running shoes?

A: First, let me say this: the term “barefoot running shoes” is a contradiction. Now that that’s out of the way, I would love to have (just because they look cool) a pair of Vibram Five Fingers but they are just ridiculously too expensive (about P6000). I do have my trusty Planet Aqua Shoes which I bought from SM Department store for P175. I bet it has about 500km on it now, and I’m still using them!

***

I really recommend people reading this first before trying barefoot running. It’s not for the faint of heart, and people will be be thinking you’re crazy. I do think it would be a lot of fun to run with other barefooters someday, but that may not be sometime in the near future. I have been reading a lot of blogs about pinoys trying out the shoeless alternative. I hope I see them in one of them races.

Official Results are Out!   Leave a comment

34:04. Here‘s the complete list.