Friday, 30 December 2011

Marcothon and Minimal Shoes

Well the second Marcothon ( ) is nearly over and I've really enjoyed it. With few races on the horizon and a smug belief in my own relative fitness it is all too easy in the winter to fall into the trap of being "a bit too busy to run today" as the rain lashes at the darkened windows of home or office. The Marcothon gets you out day after day, attracts a good deal of support from family and friends and is at just the time of year when the training slump happens. The trick, I think, is to still have rest days. You have to run of course but you can run slowly and gently. Accordingly this year I've really enjoyed it. My mileage hasn't been high but I am feeling very good on it in the middle of a wild and wet winter.

The other aspect of this year's running has been barefooting for wimps. Running in minimal shoes that is. At the real risk of angering jealous gods I'm still injury free and doing every bit of running that isn't on a hill, in a pair of Merrell Trail gloves. I've done some real barefooting as well but only on the gentle surface of beach or golf course! Running is always a genuine pleasure now even if the weather does occasionally require the invocation of Robertson's rule (Craft's rule now I suppose)

Friday, 23 December 2011


A week or so ago Reiver and I were in the Ochils early enough to be breaking trail in new snow. Well he was breaking with his 3 inch legs and I was happily running in his wake. He didn't seem to mind. Low cloud meant it was dull in the car park but sparkling white on the tops. Photo is him at the top of Dumyat.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Minimalist Running 8 months In

Well. Despite a complete lack of blogs I did stick with it. I now run only in hill shoes or the Merrells. I confess I've never enjoyed my running as much and am a complete convert. I'm still not tempted to run barefoot. I just don't believe that you can avoid glass or worse but a minimal shoes are a real joy to run in. Next step perhaps is to try the innovate minimal hill shoe?

Friday, 15 April 2011

Barefoot Running 4 Days In

Of course it isn't really really barefoot running at all. The real barefooters call it Minimalist Running. MR shoes have no support, minimal protection and the heel is at the same level as the forefoot. Still I'm 4 days in and its an interesting experience. All the advice said to start at 1 mile and increase by 10% a day so four days in and I'm at the dizzy distance of 1.33 miles. It is driving me nuts and Reiver is decidedly unimpressed! Last week we were doing 6-8 miles a day in the Torridon Hills he wonders what on earth is going on. Still tomorrow I'll get a proper run in as well as my MR training. We'll batter out at least 6 miles through the Troon woods.

Anyway back to the barefoot. It does feel good but I think that I'm thinking about it too much. I'm running almost entirely up on my toes rather than allowing the foot to fall naturally. Also the advice says that your cadence rises from 140 to 180 per minute. Thinking about that is really slowing me down. So all in all four days in I'm feeling good but think that I need to mellow out a bit and just run naturally. Love the way that the shoes feel though.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Barefoot Experiment

This year's challenge is to get back to barefoot running. As a kid in Kenya and Zambia I went barefoot except during term time. Two years ago I was having real problems with various lower leg issues and finally, in desperation, abandoned a brand new pair of road shoes (they are still under my desk in mint condition) and started running in a pair of trail shoes with no pronation correction at all. The issues went away and I even ran my first (and last) ultra training largely on roads in lightweight shoes.

Then last year I read Christopher McDougall's Born to run and an article in Nature snappily titled: "Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners". The ideas on the problems caused by heel strike were compelling and matched my experience the year before. I continued to do my road running in trail shoes, my hill shoes are of course already pretty minimal and I did some actual barefoot work on the beach. I tried to buy a pair of Vibram Fivefingers but my feet don't fit them.

So this week after seeing an advert for Merrell Barefoot shoes in Trail I've invested in a pair of their trail gloves and am giving barefoot style running a real shot.

Monday, 31 January 2011

A week in Kvitåvatn

Just back from a week spent part working and part playing at Kvitåvatn just south of the Hardanger Vidda in Norway. No running but plenty ski running or Nordic Skiing. Despite spending a good deal of the first day on my backside (with a massive bruise as evidence) eventually got the hang of it. What a cracking sport and in a very beautiful location. Think I might be a little hooked!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua

This is nothing to do with my running but relates to a great sportsman, a warrior and a very fine man. Today I attended the Memorial Service for Pte Joseva Vatabua of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland who was killed at the beginning of this month in Afghanistan. In a deeply touching service today which included singing by his family and fellow Fijian soldiers we learnt of a fine man, a brave soldier and a rugby player of great ability. In the words of his sister Alumita this morning a true Fijian Warrior.