Summer Summary

Sep 6, 2011 by

Summer Summary

September is here.  Even though school has been back in session a couple of weeks now, I guess the passing of Labor Day weekend and the start of college football make it official: Summer is over.

So while the kiddos took a break from school, I used the summer to learn some new things about running.  Here’s what I learned in summer session 2011:

1. Trail running is great fun. Sometimes something wonderful is right under your nose.  For several years I’ve literally had a trail in my backyard – a two-mile loop nature conservatory trail around the neighborhood that I had never used for running.  Until this year.  In an attempt to get out of the sun, I started running this trail, which led to running other trails, which led to completing my first official trail run.  I am now planning another trail race in January – the Harbison 50K.

2. Barefoot running is fun. And therapeutic. I’ve mentioned my 2nd attempt at barefoot running in another part of my website.  The first attempt really didn’t involve being barefoot, but instead consisted of running in Vibram Five Fingers.   That first attempt didn’t go so well.  This summer, though, in attempt number two, I have actually been running barefoot.  I started slowly, with short quarter mile or so runs and built up.  Over the last month and a half, I have run about 13 miles barefoot, with a longest run of 2 1/2 miles.  May not sound like much, but it is a start.  My feet are strengthening for sure, and my problematic left foot is better.  I’d say it has improved from a C- to a B-.  I plan to continue barefoot running.

3. Blogging is fun. But a lot of work.  Kind of like running  As an IT person, I’ve enjoyed learning some new software (WordPress).   If you compared my blogging pursuit to my running pursuit, I’m probably still back in 5K land.  I’ll keep at it, though.  Hope you’ve enjoyed it so far.

Hope you had a good summer and are ready to enjoy the upcoming fall weather!

POFIFOTO!

 

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Working on Form: Video Analysis

Aug 17, 2011 by

Working on Form: Video Analysis

Once Upon a Time

Back when golf was my obsession, I occasionally recorded my swing and tried to analyze my faults.  Many times, what I thought was happening was proven wrong by the video. Up until the last couple of weeks, I had not used video to help my running form. Now that I have an HD video recorder in my possession most of the time thanks to a smart phone, I figured it was time to use it.

What is good form?  Click here for a link to a good video on form at Active.com.

How am I working on improving my form?  I am concentrating on foot strike mostly, trying to transform from being a heel striker to a mid-foot striker.  I know I am a heel striker from race photos and shoe wear patterns.  I am working on this transformation through changes in shoes (reducing heel to toe drop) and experimenting with barefoot running to get the feel of not heel striking. I am learning to lengthen my stride by lifting the heel higher toward my rear end, instead of extending my forward step. Here is a video of me running in my new Newton Gravitas shoes.

What did I learn from this video? #1, I think this is going in the right direction. #2, I am definitely not heel striking, and #3, I can see how high my back kick was.  I was intentionally going with what felt like a higher heel lift than I normal feel, and I can see that it was much better.  This run was very short and it was tough to keep the form toward the end.  I will now have to work on hamstring strengthening.

Here is a video of me barefoot on the treadmill.

 

What did I learn from this video? #1, I seem to be way too tense.  I already figured out earlier in the year that I am an under pronator, and I don’t see much pronation there at all.  So, I need to relax and see if I get a bit of normal pronation.  #2, I might have my feet pointed outward a bit.  Just a minor thing maybe, but I could experiment with my toes pointed a little more inward.  Other than those 2 things, I was pleased with the foot strike.

So, just like in golf, the video proved very useful.  Feel free to comment.

Finally, here’s a link to a recent article at Runner’s World which asks ‘Does form matter?”

POFIFOTO!

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Barefoot Running & Free Book Download

Jul 23, 2011 by

I am working on barefoot running again.  Why? You might ask.  Read my newly-added section of my blog called Barefoot Running – Part 2 to find out.  In this lengthy write-up, I cover my experience over the last year to move toward minimalist shoes. Please check it out here.

I have followed Jason Robillard’s Barefoot Running University blog for some time. He recently completed the Western States 100 mile ultra marathon and has a fascinating race report on his blog.  You should read it.

I am currently reading Jason’s book, The Barefoot Running Book.   He has graciously offered a free PDF download of this book here.  No catches. Just download and read.  Even if you never plan to run without shoes, you should read this book!
You can also buy it on Amazon by clicking on the picture below:

POFIFOTO!

 

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Myrtle Beach State Park Run

Jul 6, 2011 by

Myrtle Beach State Park Run

Myrtle Beach State Park Pier

One of my goals in starting this blog was to highlight various state parks, forests and other destinations in South Carolina as places to go run.  My first attempt at such a highlight is Myrtle Beach State Park.

Back in June, my family and I headed to Myrtle Beach for our summer vacation, as I highlighted in a previous post, Vacation Running.  While there, I planned to visit Myrtle Beach State Park to check out the trails for a run.  This summer, one of my main goals is to hit the shade more.  These trails gave me a chance to do just that.

I checked out the official park website to get an idea of what to expect.  The park is located  at the south end of Myrtle Beach, close to the airport. I saw the park had 2 trails,  the Yaupon Trail and the Sculptured Oak Trail, totaling about 1 mile. OK, not much length, but they sounded interesting.   The site provides this descriptions:  “The “Sculptured Oak Nature Trail” provides a rare opportunity to see one of the last stands of maritime forest on the northern coast of South Carolina”. So off I went.

Myrtle Beach State Park Entrance

Park Entrance

The admission to the park is listed on the site, but I was by myself, so it cost $5 to get in.  I drove right in and found a parking space near the pier entrance.  Neither the beach nor the facilities were crowded.  There were several shelters and picnic tables for use.  A few families appeared to be having parties at shelters.  I checked out the pier and the beach before I headed back up to the trail entrance.  Heading down the trail was like stepping into another world.

Trail Beginning

The run was not difficult at all.
Of course, it was pretty much flat, and the main obstacles were a few roots.  I was wearing my New Balance Minimus Trail shoes, but any shoe would do for this trail.  This would probably be a good trail for a beginner barefoot runner to try as well.

 

 

Myrtle Beach State Park Pond

Entrance to Sculptured Oak Trail

 

The paths were a little less than a mile total, so I went down to the pond first, but the lack rain had left it pretty much dried up.  I then went back down the main trail and hung a right down the Yaupon trail until it came out in the parking lot near the beach.

 

 

A little ways back up to the left was the entrance to the Scultpured Oak trail. I took it back to the trail beginning. Overall, on the paths, I covered a bit less than 2 miles.  I then decided to go for 3 total and ran on the road through the campground section of the park.

Plank Bridge on Trail

At the end of 3 miles, the temperatures were getting pretty warm, and I was about out of water in my handheld bottle, so I called it a day and headed back to the condo. Overall, I enjoyed the trip.  $5 well spent.  If you are visiting the Myrtle Beach area, take the family for a visit to the park.  There were additional  activities and a playground in the park to occupy them for a bit while you run.  Better yet, take them with you on the trail. POFIFOTO!

Beautiful Live Oak

 

 

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