C25K W1D3, Vibram FiveFingers KSO’s Day 1

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Yesterday, I completed my first week of C25K. The first week is nice and gentle: walk briskly for five minutes, then alternate jogging for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds for 20 minutes, cool down with another five minute walk. This was totally doable, even for someone like me who hates running.

The first two days of the program (note, I ran three days in one week which is the expectation; this is not a seven-day-a-week runathon) went by pretty quickly. I did have shin splints after the first two sessions as well as some glute pain. To be frank, my ass hurt! I also noticed some pain in my right shoulder as I ran so I tried to be conscious of letting my shoulder muscles relax. Compared to most new workout routines I would say my soreness was quite mild, which helped motivate me. I was definitely red-faced after both sessions but felt comfortable during them.

I should note that, being a gadget nut, I did buy myself a nice little iPhone app to help me on my journey. After spending the first session staring at the stopwatch on my iPhone, I decided it was worth the $2-3 to get an app that would watch the clock for me. I went with Get Running, mostly because it’s one of the highest rated C25K apps, but also because they were the first to respond to my Twitter request for C25K recommendations. I like that it’s easy to use, works well with my music playing in the background and there’s a nice British woman who tells me when to switch up the routine and lets me know I’m doing a good job. It would be nice if it included GPS or Nike+ support, but for what it is it’s a great app.

Yesterday was my third session as well as the first session that I used my new Vibram Fivefinger KSO’s. It was a chilly day in Waitsfield, with a mix of overcast and drizzle as I ran along the Mad River. The first thing I noticed was the feeling of wet cold mud under my feet. Now, I understand that reading “wet cold mud” must sound terribly unpleasant. However, I have to say that there was something inherently satisfying in that feeling. I felt childlike in my exploration of the mud and how differently it slipped around each part of my feet and in between my toes as I briskly walked along the path.

I was initially concerned that the weather might be too cold for my endeavor; as I was not interested in getting pneumonia from wet feet. Luckily, the pace of the workout quickly warmed me up. I felt as though I was able to go faster without trying. I easily jaunted over rocks and sticks, dodging fallen tree limbs. I have to say I really had a lot of fun. This was also the first time that I felt I actually ran instead of just jogged, but I did not feel as though I was pushing myself.

I generally favor the balls of my feet, so getting used to landing on the balls of my feet while running was easy for me. I was warned by other runners that learning to run with the Vibram’s could be a challenge. Luckily, I’m so new to running and I’m in such a light period of training that I feel learning to run “barefoot” is just as challenging as learning to run in my New Balances.

After the session I was surprised to find that I did not get the post-workout-red-face that I had the other two times. Being fairly logical, I don’t want to outright say that’s thanks to the Vibram’s, since it could also be that I just built up my endurance in the previous two runs, but I’m open to the possibility that the Vibram’s made things easier. After all, we were given toes and several plantar articulating surfaces for a reason, why don’t we use them more?

Now that it’s “the day after”, I’m checking in with my body. No shin splints (hooray!). I have one blister on the superior inner arch of my left foot, but that’s the only one so far. I had some minor arch aches last night but have none today. No other aches to complain about besides some continued glute pain which feels like good work-out aches.

I should mention that I’m being a good-girl and stretching before and after the runs. Since I added in the Vibram’s I also added in stretching my feet before and after the run. As a Muscular Therapist, I have directly seen the negative results of half-assed stretching routines, or skipping stretching altogether. While I appreciate that it keeps me in business, I do not recommend it. Stretching makes all the difference!

Tomorrow I start week 2 of C25K!!

Barefoot Running on C25K

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I am not a runner.  I have never been a runner.  I have gone so far to say that I will never be a runner.  In high school I was on track and field and I somehow got away with refusing to run.  I sprinted, I jumped, but I did not run.  Apparently, I am a hypocrite because now, for the first time in my life, I am learning to run and loving it so far.

As I mention in my profile, my body changed a lot once my metabolism caught up with me.  I was always a skinny kid.  I have “bad knees” from growing too fast, being put in braces, and then battling Lyme’s Disease at a young age which has left me with some arthritis in my knees and hands.  My immune system was not tops and I used this as an excuse to skip gym classes and “poo-poo” exercise in general.

When I hit my early 20’s, my physique really changed and I ignored it at first.  I’m tall so I hide extra pounds very well; it was easy to pretend I was still healthy when that was no longer the case.  I don’t care about “skinny”, I care about “healthy”.  At 40lbs overweight I was no longer healthy.

The change was slow.  I started exploring my diet by ditching the fast food and adding organic and local goods.  I started walked to work and thanks to a new job in retail I was on my feet more and the weight just started dropping.  I was practicing yoga regularly.  I felt great!

I was inspired (for other reasons) to begin working on a degree in Muscular Therapy and I found myself surrounded by personal trainers, physical therapists, nutritionists and healthy active adults all around.  The mentality couldn’t help but leach into me.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was working with women in their 50’s who had physical and mental strength that came from their dedicated workout routines and diet.  “A body in motion stays in motion.”  “Move it or lose it.”  I realized, I have to start NOW if I hope to be healthy and active for decades to come.

Along with regular yoga, I started lifting light weights.  Since I’m a gadget-lover, I bought myself a Wii and Wii Fit and lost 16lbs in three months (seriously).  I then “graduated” from Wii Fit and moved on to My Fitness Coach which I’ve been happily using for over two years now.  Since moving to Vermont, I’ve rekindled my love of hiking, swimming and kayaking.

Now, I’m not a workout junkie.  For one thing, I just plain don’t have the time, and, for another, as much as I’ve learned to love how I feel when I work out, I’m still not 100% gung-ho about it.  At this point I would consider myself in shape, but not “athletic”.  So why on earth did I decide to start running?!

It started with peer pressure.  I have a friend who just started Couch To 5k (C25K) and she’s loving it.  Spring has also officially sprung here in Vermont and it’s gorgeous.  I want to be outside with my awesome dog, Toby, instead of working out in front of my TV.  The problem is that I don’t want to give up the cardio work that I’ve done and walking/hiking just doesn’t get my heart rate up enough.  Then, I read several reviews of the C25K program from people with “bad knees” and people who “hate running” and I figured, what the hell, I’ll try it!

I tried it, and I love it so far.  However, I’m doing it a little differently as I also discovered Vibram Fivefinger KSO’s at the same time.  Being somewhat of a tree-hugging hippie, the idea of being able to safely hike, swim and run on trails while feeling barefoot is very enticing to me.  Not to mention the anatomical reasons for running barefoot appeal to me.  It trains one to run on the balls of ones feet which helps absorb impact creating happier knees, ankles and a lower incidence of foot injury.

There’s a great debate about barefoot running. My friend who’s also doing C25K cautioned me against it.  Some say it’s a fad and it’s dangerous.  There are also several research studies that back up the claims that barefoot running is beneficial for posture and helpful for those with knee issues.  I wanted to make up my own mind so this blog will chronicle my personal experience with barefoot running and I will probably also discuss other “barefoot” activities.

Intro done!  Now, let’s get to the good stuff!!