Sunday, 8 February 2015

Journey to minimalist running: 4 to 5k.

Wow, it's almost been a month since the last update! It took longer than expected to get up to 5k because I had to take a break from running. But after that I picked it up where I'd left off and increased the distance again. Here's how running has gone along with my further plan and some notes on what's changed compared to running in classic trainers.

The first run was of course a 4.2k one. It was actually going really well: my legs were great, my heart and lungs were keeping up. But about halfway through my tummy felt bad and it held me back. I did end up with a pretty good time though. Then I did a 4.4k run which went pretty well too.

After this I took a  ten day break because of lady pains and a very busy schedule. As it'd been a while, I didn't increase the distance, but ran 4.4k again. It was okay, but not great, and my right calf got tight at the end. I guess it's normal that it wasn't a great run: for ten days I hadn't used the muscles that I'd been building up so carefully before.

Two days later my sister A. and I went for a run together. It'd been a long time since we'd ran together! I intended to run 4.6k, but she said we could do a little more. So we ran 4.8k and I ended up regretting it. My legs felt fine at 4.6k but my right calf grew tight again at the end of our run.

The first full 5k in minimal shoes was okay. I ran slowly, but felt good until I was at about 3.5k. At that point, my right foot started to go numb. Feet going numb is a thing that I've often experienced in my regular trainers, but it had barely ever happened in these new shoes. Perhaps my technique was off, and I was landing too hard. But I had a theory that my feet weren't getting enough tactile stimuli, so I ran in the grass and gravel next to the street instead of on the pavement to give my feet a more varied terrain. It did help to keep the numbness at bay, though that may also be because these surfaces absorb shock better.

Yesterday A. and I ran another 5k. We were 35 seconds faster than I'd been two days earlier and my calf didn't get tight nor did my foot grow numb! My legs felt rather heavy and I had to pay attention to my form, but overall I'm happy with yesterday's run!

As for that problem of my right calf getting tight: I suspect that it does because my right foot points slightly outwards and I use it differently than I do the left. That's just the way it's attached to my leg - if I set it straight, my knee is turned inwards - so I don't think I can change that. The mantra for my next runs will be "relax, relax, relax,..." I don't stretch after a run any more, with one exception of that first 5k. I just walk to cool down after a run and stretch throughout the day whenever I feel I need to. My legs feel less worn out after running: in my old shoes I just felt like sitting in bed was all I could do for the rest of the evening, but now they feel less tired after I've cooled down. It might be a consequence of running more slowly, but in any case, it's nice!

Even though I've reached my goal distance now, the journey is not over. I'll keep on running 5k's for now until I think my muscles have really adjusted to it whilst paying attention to technique and relaxation. If things go well, I hope I'll be able to run a bit faster. Perhaps I can increase my distance a bit more after another month or so. In spring or summer I really want to learn to run barefoot!

For now, I enjoy running more than I used to do - or dread it less!