Saturday, November 10, 2012

Running, the new hotness.

It's been a while since I've blogged, that is all I will say about that.

This blog post is about running, something I had convinced myself I was never going to be able to do or ever enjoy. Then, after trying it in a new way, I discovered not only can I do it, I can enjoy it.

My entire life I've had trouble running, I've never been much of an athlete, to be honest, let alone an endurance athlete. In school I struggled to finish most fitness tests but I NEVER finished a run in gym class, ever! I always got a cramp in my side, got winded and did that lonely walk of shame as more active kids lap me. I remember in junior high not even being able to complete the first lap of the run test, let alone the five that where supposed to follow. As I've gotten older and made numerous tries at getting into shape, usually the "look good naked" kind and not the "feel great" kind, I've tried running and always had problems. Usually, it was a problem of my knees hurting every time I ran. On top of that I would have the normal issues with not being able to pace myself, breathe and being super sore the next day.

So, what changed?!

Firstly, My brother brother started running, in part at the urging of his super athlete better half, using the "Couch 2 5k" running program. Since he completed that run program he's kept it up and when I was at my heaviest, seeing his transformation is what inspired me to start trying to get in shape and be more healthy, including quiting smoking. Unfortunately, I tried this run program on my treadmill at the house and it just served to confirm that I didn't like running and it didn't like me. I sold the treadmill on Craigslist and gave up

Secondly, I had a friend who planted a seed in my brain by doing a podcast on barefoot running. I looked into it and thought it was interesting but never really seriously considered trying it.

Later, the fad of the Vibram FiveFinger shoe took hold and soon many of my friends, who also had never run in their lives, where walking around in these goofy looking toe shoes. Like most things that become popular with people that have no business buying them, I laughed at all the people succumbing to the mindless consumerism of something they perceive as "cool". These shoes serve a real purpose, after all, and where not intended to be worn into public bathrooms, something I have personally witnessed.

After getting into hiking and biking again I decided to try barefoot running as a way to diversify my workouts and spend some time with my wife who was also interested. I did a minimum of research, went outside without shoes on and ran the concrete path down to the road and back and....... it was bad, I got huge blisters on my big toes, the tops of my feet hurt and could hardly walk for a week. So back to the drawing board. This time I got a little more determined to give running a solid try, so I ordered a pair of huaraches from, basically a thin piece of car tire like material that you tie off to your ankle and are specifically designed for barefoot running. These protect your feet from surfaces and debris, like broken glass, but give you the full barefoot running feel. At the same time they allow me to keep my indie street cred by not giving in to wearing those mainstream toe shoes.

Next I needed a plan to get running, I turned back to the "Couch 2 5k" but with all it's run intervals and walking intervals I need a way to keep track of when I should be running and when I should be walking without staring at a watch and trying to do math the whole time. So, being the android geek I am, I searched the Google Play store for and application to help me out. What I found was a great app called RunDouble that had the option of buying the C25k run program. This app tracks the run and tells me, using text to speech, when I need to be running or walking, let's me share my results and check out all my stats. Also, it allows me to listen to podcasts, my one true love, while I run, pausing the audio when it needs to butt-in with some info.

The results, I'm one run away from finishing the 9 week run program, I've had no knee pain and a minimum of soreness, mostly calves. I can now run 30 minutes without stopping while breathing normally. I enjoy my early mornings running around the Lake and now that it's getting cold I've overcome my hatred of the treadmill. I should add that due to the fact most people wear shoes 100% of the time the joints on the tops of their feet fuse and when you first start running barefoot it takes a bit of time for these joints to free up and that part hurts. After the joints start working properly, for me it took about 3-4 runs, I didn't have any foot pain at all.

So, if you've ever wanted to get into running but didn't know where to start or if you've tried and not been able to overcome the knee pain. I hope you will learn from my journey and find a path for yourself. It's worth it!
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