Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 6, Run 3

In reference to this

Last night's run was a barefoot 6.2km, and... educational.

The biggest lesson I learned was in preparation. My distance for this run was going to be a new peak for me for this year. As a result, I had to expand my route. I'd drawn up on a map what looked like a good route, and proceeded to follow it.

My feet weren't ready for what I threw at them. It wasn't the distance, it was the terrain that doesn't show up on Goole Maps. Several blocks of new construction means a mix of nice new sidewalks, and nice new sidewalks covered in debris. Then there's the older houses which have sidewalks made rough by years of erosion. And then there were sections where the just was no sidewalk where I expected it! My only choice was to share the gravel littered street with vehicles. Not fun.

Because of my feet, I ended up cutting some of my intervals short. It was supposed to be 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking, 10 times. A few of my runs were 2 minutes and a few of my walks were 2 minutes. But some of my runs were 4, and I did about 13 intervals in total. So I think I made up for the 2 or three cheat intervals.

As this is my 5th run using RunKeeper, I can now start seeing patterns in my results. It looks like my first and second intervals are by far my fastest. During these intervals I actually reach my goal speed of 10km/h. Based on my notes, it seems the longer I maintain that pace during the run, the more likely I am to refer to it as "brutal". In other words, I'm not quite at the point where I could sustain that pace comfortably. It's hard to be building up distance while also trying to increase my speed. Things will get better. I'll be making sure I pack my VFFs when I'm uncertain about the terrain. My goal of finishing the Sun Run in an hour is higher priority than finishing it barefoot. Besides, FiveFingers get enough funny looks and comments already.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Week 6, Run 2

In reference to this

Last night's run was decent. It was raining a bit, so my GPS results are a little wonky. The increased humidity also made it hard to keep cool.

It had been raining most of the day, so everything was quite wet. Wet feet are soft feet, and soft feed get chewed up by street running, so I decided to run in my black/orange KSOs which I haven't worn much. They're a bit thinner on the sole than the Trek, which was good, but I also noticed they were a little heavier. I'll probably continue to run in them when it's too wet for barefoot.

This run was basically the same as my last solo run, minus one interval. My pace was every so slightly faster, based on how far up the hill I got before my last interval was over. I actually felt so good at that point, and was so far from the house, that I threw in a few minutes more running. It was good. I'm getting a good idea of what kind of pace I'd need to meet my 60 minute goal time for the Sun Run. At this point I'm not able to sustain that speed for long enough. Maybe on a flat route, and after I've warmed up, I could keep it for a few kilometers, but certainly not 10. But hey, I'm only at the half way point, so I've got lots of time to build on that distance!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Second Barefoot Run

Just ran my second barefoot run of the season. Finally a good run, and it was 8 intervals of 3 minutes run, 1 minute walk. So one interval short of my run last Sunday that was so rough for me. I'm seriously considering showing up for the next group run without shoes because my feet are handling the distance so well. I've got 7 weeks to go my feet are already good for at least 4 of the 10km of the Sun Run.

You can get all the details from my RunKeeper activity log.

Oh, and it was another nice night run at 5C/41F. That is officially my most comfortable temperature for running. Not looking forward to running in the 30s.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Learning to Run

In reference to this

For anyone interested in the program I'm following for training for the Sun Run, you can get the LearnToRun10k PDF.

It's a great 13 week program to take you from non-runner to being able to complete a 10k. I can't compare it to any other programs because it is the only one I've ever done, but it worked for me last year.

I'm following the same program this year since I didn't run nearly as much after the Sun Run as I'd have liked. I'm also doing it in Vibram FiveFingers this year, so that's a good reason to use a gradual build up program.

I highly recommend this type of training program for anyone interested in getting into running. It may be hard at times, but by the time you're half-way through the program you'll feel like a runner. And by that I mean you'll start to crave your run.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Barefoot Run of 2010

It's funny how restarting something you've done before can be new ground...

I transitioned to running and walking barefoot and in Vibram FiveFingers last summer and am familiar with that process. Getting back into it, however, is new to me.

I just got back from run 2 of week 5. My goal is to do my mid-week runs on Tuesday and Thursday night, but that hasn't been working as well for me as I'd like. Oh well, better a day late that skipped.

According to the Weather Network, it's 5C/41F outside. Perfect for me. It was a 5 minute warm up walk followed by 8 intervals of 2 minutes run, 1 minute walk, and then finished off with a 5 minute cool down walk before stretching. I carried my pair of black Treks in my hands expecting to slip them on after an interval or two when my feet started hurting or get too cold. I ended up carrying them the entire time!

It was another brutal run for me, effort wise. I felt sluggish and tired for almost the entire time. The hills are particularly hard on me this year. Either I'm pushing myself harder this year, or I've fallen further than I thought from my peak. In either case, this is the tough period. I'm looking forward to it getting easy again like it was near the end of last year. I'm also looking forward to doing it at a faster pace than last year.

In addition to easing back into running in general, I guess the only other thing I need to watch for is how much skin I'm wearing off. Now it's time for a shower and thorough foot scrubbing before crawling into bed for the night. Hope my feet are still happy when I wake up.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First Barefooting of 2010

Nothing big, just a quick trip down the block to put a letter in the mail. The ground and air were the perfect temperature for me. Overcast, 7C (45F).

The biggest surprise to me was how natural it felt after wearing shoes (well, FiveFingers) for the last 5 or 6 months. I expected it to feel like the first time, with my feet overly sensitive and my gait feeling awkward. Seems my feet didn't go back to sleep like after the first twenty-something years of wearing shoes and there was no sensitivity problems. As for my gait, I'm giving the credit to Vibram for the design of their FiveFingers line of "shoes".

I'd been dreading the re-conditioning I'd have to do in order to add barefoot running to my Sun Run training, but not so much now. Things are looking up in barefoot land.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not Quite Barefoot

My group run on Sunday was brutal, but it shouldn't have been.

We started by walking up a not so short hill and then proceeded to run 9 intervals of 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking. This should not have been so hard. In fact, it normally wouldn't have been. But we had special guests. The UBC race-walk team. We had them come with us last year, and it had the same effect.

It seems being in the presence of people who walk 20km in less than 90 minutes makes some people run faster. Did I mention these are world class athletes? Ya, as in half of the top 5 fastest men and women in Canada. People who hold current national and continental records for race walking... But I digress.

What made this run so brutal was actually the pace at which we walked up that first hill. I'm prone to shin splints. I had a problem with them during last year's training, but my switch to VFF/barefoot running after the Sun Run made them a thing of the past. But walking with any speed over any distance has always triggered them for me (and probably always will). And it did, with a vengeance.

So I started my first run interval up hill, with shin splints, and at a pace that wasn't maintainable. The result? I was limping by the 5th interval and ended up walking through the 6th running interval. During this time I went from the front of the group of 70+ runners to the back. My cardio was not the problem, it was the pain, which lead to total mental failure. I knew it was a mental limitation, and that's the only reason I was able to force myself to run the last 3 intervals.

Our route was shorter than the intervals so we ended up running our last interval on the track and then cooling down by walking around the track. It was at this point I decided my Treks were too warm and took them off. I felt almost immediate relief! I was truly shocked. I didn't even know my feet were being constrained by my FiveFingers and had actually tightened up. My feet immediately spread out over the cold track and released all their tension. It felt so good, in fact, that I actually ran a short bit even though I was supposed to be doing a cool down walk.

I already knew from experience that VFFs were not the same as going barefoot, but I'm going to have to seriously reconsider where on the curve they actually are. I think I'll start by incorporating some barefoot warm up at the start of or before my run.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

jQuery Plugins

In reference to this

It may not look like it from my other blog entries, but I really am a programmer.

Lately I've been working a lot with CouchDB as both a database and an application server. As part of getting up to speed, I've jumped into JavaScript. Somewhere along the way I found jQuery and ended up writing a plugin.

Since I'm such a perfectionist and because I'd armed myself with some knowledge of JavaScript's good parts, I wasn't 100% satisfied with the way some jQuery plugins were written.

Below is my take on a jQuery plugin template. You can see it in action in my autoExpandingList plugin (demo). I'll probably put it on GitHub eventually, but for now it's on jsbin (great tool, by the way).

* @author YOUR NAME
"use strict";
(function ($) {

$.fn.pluginName = $.fn.pluginName || (function () {

var defaults = {
//Default configuration

// Utility functions that you use inside your plugin that
// don't rely on per-invocation closures should go here.
// This is also a good place to keep track of any global
// state information that your individual plugin instances
// may want to make use of.
// This is your plugin function, what people will call
// with $("li").pluginName(...);
return function (settings) {

// Settings are cached per selector/invocation,
// not per affected element. This is a bit of a memory optimization.
// If you need/want your settings to be per element,
// just move this line to inside the each() below.
settings = $.extend({}, defaults, settings);

this.each(function () {
//Cache 'this' because it may change with scope,
// depending on what you do below.
var that = this;

/* Insert your special sauce here.
* Perform your operations on 'this' or 'that'
*and it will affect each element in the selector.

// This is important in jQuery land.
// It allows chaining. Even if you don't make use of chaining,
// people using your plugin may.
return this;
}(jQuery)); //Pass in the jQuery object by name in case $ is used

Some other things that I found to make things better were JSLint (which the above template passes) and js-beautify (which was used to format the above).

js-beautify had a small bug where it would make things ugly if you were using an empty object literal ($.extend({}, defaults, settings)'), but a one-liner patch was all it took to clear that up and I've already submitted it and had it applied, so it's ready for you to use!

I've also been teaching myself Python, so maybe I'll have some posts on that in the future as well. And maybe some thoughts on CouchDB.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Barefoot Followup

In reference to this

So it's been a little while since I talked about my barefoot adventures. I've come to a few conclusions.

Being barefoot is awesome, but having to carry shoes around for when public transit officials tell me I can't ride the train barefoot is a pain in the [expletive].

Vibram FiveFingers are very comfortable as an all-day, everywhere shoe and attract far more positive attention and next to no negative attention.

As you can imagine, FiveFingers are what I've been wearing lately. I managed to go a solid few months barefoot and my feet were getting quite tough. There were very few surfaces that I found uncomfortable, and none that I walked on regularly.

For my Sun Run training I've been running in my new FiveFinger Treks. I find the sole to be a little thick for my liking, but I love the leather they used for the rest of the shoe. I took a long break from running barefoot and pseudo-barefoot because it didn't feel right. I did some more research while I took my break and found I'd ignored one really important point.

Relax. Seriously, let your legs from the knee down go almost limp. Don't try to position your foot so you land on your forefoot. That was my mistake. If your knees are bent enough, your foot will land forefoot first. Let your feet relax too. If they are tense, you'll hurt yourself.

In other barefoot related news, I've finally converted my wife! Partially, at least. She's now wearing her own pair of FiveFinger KSOs and enjoying them. I've been watching closely to make sure she doesn't repeat any of my mistakes, like starting off too aggressively or running wrong.

Since I'm not keeping my Sun Run training a surprise this year, I'm going to try to post regularly about my progress. Stay tuned..

Great Week

I've had a few things going on lately and this last week seems to have ended on a high note.

My project at work paid large dividends over Thursday and Friday. I was able to get a couple week's work done in only two days thanks to my design decisions early on in the project. I love it when a plan comes together.

In fitness land, I finally got in both of my midweek runs for my Sun Run training. This was week 4. I'm still disappointed that things kept getting in the way, but I'm very happy that I was able to fit them in this week. I'm already at that point in the training where I'm finding it difficult to hold myself back and not over do it. I'm hoping to expand my route next week to up the distance to 2.8km/1.7mi from 2.2km/1.4mi. It's a small increase, but it should be. I'll expand it the week after that again I think.

And then there's this other project that I've been working on. Let's call it Project With A View. The most recent meeting I had about it was a blast and was a great way to cap off the week.

Actually, that's not quite how I capped off the week. We found a babysitter for Arland and I went out for dinner with my wife. Sorry, Project With a View, the wife wins.

I'll see if I can write up a couple other entries to follow up on some things in the near future. Tie up some loose threads from previous entries.