Three Firsts

So here's three firsts [say that three times fast!]: first of December, first accumulating snowfall for Rochester, and first run in the snow barefoot.

Last night we got an inch or so of snow accumulation.  I was excited to try running in it.  After all, I've been practicing as the weather got colder.  But, as it turns out, snow — being largely frozen water — takes a lot of heat to melt, and in turn, it feels really really cold. And as a result, this run was spent most focused on running and on the condition of my body, particularly my feet.

It was kind of funny, actually, because I swear I could hear my cardiovascular system curse in surprise as it attempted to boost blood-flow to my extremities. My feet got much colder, much faster than they do even at colder temperatures, and I kept making sure they weren't losing sensation, feeling hot, nor appearing a color other than pink. I wasn't going to push things too far, so I decided to cut my run much shorter and barely covered more than a mile.

After an hour or so, everything was back to normal. Lucky? Not really. Just careful.

700 total views, no views today

Pictures from Running

I went for a run this morning and brought along my camera.

Along the canal path a recently painted note appeared on the trail. I always get a chuckle out of it: it says, "JPL Lock of Love" in a heart with an arrow pointing to the guard lock and the date 7/5/05.

Painted tag on the Canal Path near the west guard lock that says "JPL Lock of Love" in a heart with an arrow pointing to the guard lock and the date 7/5/05.

"Lock of Love" tag that appeared about two weeks ago.

Then I get into Genesee Valley Park (Hawthorn Dr.). I've always appreciated Frederick Law Olmsted's designs for paths to be varied in an ornamental fashion without becoming inefficiently winding.

A trail heading west in Genesee Valley Park

Heading West in Genesee Valley Park

For months now, I've noticed that nearly every car parking in the lot by Building 520 on The University of Rochester (Elmwood Ave. at Intercampus Dr.) is in a handicapped-accessible parking space. I commend the University for their progressive thinking to hire people of different abilities. Of course, things weren't always that way.

The University of Rochester Building 520 parking lot shows all but one car parked in handicapped-accessible spaces.

The University of Rochester Building 520 parking lot.

I think it's funny how pervasive cultural norms are. When I say I run barefoot on sidewalks and streets, about 90% of people say, "what about glass?" I seem to be gifted and have an instinct to not step on things. When I run, if I just look toward the ground in front of me, my brain automatically sets my footfalls so I don't step on things — all without thinking about it consciously at all. Of course, when I see glass, I make a deliberate effort to go around it: I'm not concerned that I'll cut myself badly stepping on a big piece, the nearby tiny shards that get stuck in my foot are more likely and terribly irritating.

Broken glass in front of 185 Elmerston

Broken glass in front of 185 Elmerston.

620 total views, no views today

Barefoot Running with Stretches

This morning I went out for another run barefoot. The last few weeks I cut back as my right heel was hurting — I felt it was indicative of an inflammation on my Achilles tendon and my chiropractor — Dr. Karen Santini at The Greater Rochester Chiropractic Office (30 Allens Creek Rd.) agreed. She used a cortisone ultrasound application and suggested I add calf muscle stretches. In a brief search I couldn't find a description (or pictures) of what she had showed me, so I'll have to explain.

She said there are two calf muscles: the gastroc (or, more formally, the gastrocnemius) and the soleus. To stretch the gastroc muscle, stand on a stair or step. Put one foot backward so your toes and part of the ball are on the edge of the step. Keep your calf relaxed as you shift your weight backward onto that foot, allowing your heel to drop below the level of the step. To stretch the soleus, put one foot on the next step as before with the heel hanging off. Keep your calf relaxed as you shift your weight forward onto that foot, allowing your heel to drop below the level of the step.

I gave it a go and it seems the run went fine — if I did shorten it to 15 minutes or so.

521 total views, no views today

Back to a bit of barefoot running

Just a brief update from the running file: I went out for a 15-minute run and did about half of it with water-shoes on then the other half barefoot. It was about 27°F outside and a light snow had made the ground damp. When I got home, the coldest part of my toes were still only around 50°F. It felt good to get back out there again after a wintry hiatus.

414 total views, no views today

Running Barefoot and Glass

Yesterday I went out for a run and mixed between water-shoes and bare feet depending on whether the pavement was snow-covered or not, respectively. Due to the minor thaw I was even able to get out onto the canal path. It was around 25°F outside. I decided to run barefoot through the snow-covered sidewalk on the last 100 yards down the street. Naturally my feet got extra cold but I'm trying to get increased circulation and I figure the way to do that is to train my feet that they need it — not so bad that I get frostbite, but enough that it's uncomfortable.

Anyway, this morning I got a sharp pain my toe. I figured I'd stepped on something yesterday, although it could have been around the house or any time since yesterday morning. It looked like a sliver of some kind so I dug around and cleaned it out. When I finally got it, I realized it was a tiny piece of glass. I was so excited: I finally got cut on glass! It's usually the first thing anybody says when I say I run barefoot on pavement, "aren't you afraid of glass?" Well usually I don't run through it — I pay attention to the ground when I run. But I guess in the winter I can't see it under the snow so I might get a cut now and then.

1,287 total views, no views today

Running, but not barefoot

I got out to go for a run this morning. I figured I'd try going barefoot in the snow that still covered the ground. Well, I barely made it three houses down the street like that. I had read on the Running Barefoot Yahoo! Group that you can use some very minor foot cover (like water shoes or special footwear for barefoot-like running) in such conditions successfully. Figuring I wouldn't be able to hack the snow I had brought along water shoes which helped a lot. I ended up running comfortably for 15 minutes or so (I took a short course to try things out) and found that my feet were a lot warmer than they have been.

I had thrown out the theory that, like the callousing from barefoot running in the first place which seems so counter to "conventional wisdom", that humans might be able to adapt to the cold weather as well. I know this kind of running — well, running in general — does improve foot circulation so it's not out-of-the-question to get to a point where I'm able to run in extremely cold conditions without danger or discomfort.

602 total views, no views today

Running barefoot in the not-too-cold

Just a quick note that I went for a run this morning. It was about 32°F outside (the ground was probably a little colder still), the ground was dry, and it was somewhat breezy, but I was much warmer than Wednesday's run — when I got home the bottoms of my feet were around 60°F. I timed myself: 27:43 to run the 2.6 mile course. Although it's slower than my estimates, 10½-minute-miles are not all that bad.

452 total views, no views today

Too cold to run barefoot this time

I went out for a run and it's about 23°F outside. I figured I'd see how far I could get since there's no snow and it's calm. I ended up going down the block and back — about 6 minutes. My feet got really cold and the bottoms were numbed enough that I decided to cut it short before I injured myself. I got back and the bottoms of my feet were around 55°F and my toes were 52°F — just a few degrees colder than I'd experienced before, but cold enough. At least for now.

I also spent some time on Gmaps Pedometer which lets you draw on a Google Map, point-to-point and accumulate the distance. I did some measuring and the course I thought was 2 miles was really more like 1.8, so I'm not running as fast as I thought I was. Oh well.

458 total views, no views today

Running wet, cold, and barefoot

I went out for a barefoot run this morning. It was about 42°F outside and wet from drizzle. The ground sapped away heat from my feet fast and it felt colder than dry pavement that was 10 degrees colder. However, I got back from 2 miles in 18 minutes and my soles were 58°F and felt okay — cold, naturally.

Now you may be wondering why I started doing this. I briefly touched on some of the benefits when I first started, but since then have mentioned only that my calves got sore from the workout and that I kept with it. Well, way back when I was running — in shoes — The Corporate Challenge back in 1999 and 2001, during the race and during practice I felt like I was beating myself up. All the joints in my body were sore, especially my knees, but also my back, and I would finish up wheezing like I was going to die right there. I quit running for a long time because of that — and especially because I started getting chronic knee and back problems.

So I happened to start reading about this "barefoot running" on and off. Once I heard that you use the arch of your foot and your calf muscles as shock absorbers, I was intrigued. I mean, running is a great way to lose weight, but if you end up spending more time on a chiropractic bed then doing it, then it's probably not all that great. So I started — slowly at first — and now I feel like I can run a 5K race. Well, maybe with a little practice.

The best thing is that when I get home, I feel great. I'm tired from the exercise, but I am not sore at all. After today's run, for instance, my toes were scolding met that they were really quite cold, and my calf muscles complain when I walk up the stairs, but that's it. My knees feel great. My back feels great. And I certainly don't feel like I just got beat up.

Now if only I can figure out a way to continue without actually getting a debilitating case of frostbite this winter …

647 total views, no views today

Running barefoot with the flurries

So this morning I got out and ran my standard 2-mile course — this time in 16 minutes so that's feeling really good.  The outside temperature was 37°F and breezy but the most exciting part was that I got to run in flurries.  Occasionally one would sting my tongue with its cold pinprick.  And yeah, once again, I ran it barefoot.  When I got back I checked the temperature of the bottoms of my feet and they were a chilly 58° but pink from adequate blood flow.  It didn't feel too much different than when I ran last time in the cold weather, but this time there was some moisture on the ground from the rain last night and that made it draw more heat away.  I'll stick with it and see what happens, ever watchful of how my toes are feeling.

795 total views, no views today