Stomp of Approval!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

My moral dilemma...

In January 2012 were planning on taking a family vacation to the oh so coveted "Disney World" in Florida. It will be myself, my wife, and our 2 children (ages then will be 2 years and almost 4 years) and while were there Im debating on running the Mickey marathon, or possiblly even the Goofy challenge (both full and half in the same weekend), but I have stumbled upon a moral dilemma with my hard earned (sorta...) money going to a Disney sponsored event...

Walt Disney was supposedly a wicked individual who was very sadiatic and full of hate. There are millions of rumors that circulate throughout the internet regarding this man and his evil ways. He was known to be anti-semetic (hated jewish people), supposedly he worshiped satan, his signature bears the letters "666" in it, he drank the blood of murdered pregnat women, burned down orphanages, had cities built underground at Disney world where he held children captive and tourtures them and bottles their tears to drink with his waffles in the mornings, and supposedly cryogenically froze his body so that at a later date he could be revives and have his collapsed lung replaced at a time when technology could warrant such a procedure. Theres rumor that he went to Cuba, captured Elian Gonzalez, brought him home, and now he is a skeleton in the "Pirates of the Carribean" display. He was also a major supporter of homosexuality and was a secret undercover agent for the goverment and responsible for over 16 known foreign asassinations.... His cartoons depicted preists with boners, showed nude women in the backgrounds, and suggested that kids take off their clothes. One cartoon even had a massive golden phallus (penis) on the front cover!!!! This was on a kids cartoon none the less...

I try my best to ignore rumors, so these aren't the cause of my dilemma...

Every ad I see for a Disney sponsored run features a "runner" in full stride, with their lead leg way out in front of them, knee locked so their leg is straight, toes pointed to the sky, and coming down right smack dab on their heel. Grade A example of a classic overstrider. This leada to major injuries and issues and is in no way what so ever the proper way to run. Honestly, how can they put out an image like this and sleep at night?

Monday, June 13, 2011

So Saturday I went for a nice 13 miler early in the morning so as to avoid burning the soles of my feet off and I made several keen observations during my run. I drove down to the far end of my new favorite running road (FM 421) and parked my truck. I started off at about 5:55 and headed back the 13 miles to town. 421 is a back road thats PERFECT for barefoot running, its 2 lane with a good sized sholder, slight rolling hills, some good sweeping curves, lots of farm land type scenery, and the biggest plus is that its very seldomly traveled. Its the perfect road to haul ass down in a sports car or motorcycle. Being that the road is really in the middle of nowhere, I get to enjoy the wildlife that runs rampant in the area. On this particular run I saw a few deet and was accompanied by 2 little stray puppies for a few miles.

Anyways, it was a great run and heres a few interesting discoveries I made that I thought might be of value or interest to others...

1) Since Ive started running barefoot Ive noticed a trend forming where I have an uncanny ability to unintentionally step in dead animals. It seems that the smaller the animal, the more likely I am to feel its carcass fill up the spaces between my toes. In the case of this run it seemed that small squashed toads were my foot cushion of choice. I have a pretty in depth theory and explination on this subject that I will discuss more thoroughly in the future via a seperate entry.

2) Horses give me the strangest looks when I run by them. Ive gotten plenty of strange looks in my lifetime, but these take the cake! I always talk to them after staring back for a few minutes. Ill usually try to come up with something a little edgy and original with a slight aftertaste of disrespect like "Why the long face?". But it usually backfires into something more along the lines of "I bet your staring at me cause you want a horsey back ride, well not today pancho!" then I realize it is I who is supposed to ride the horse, so I try to recounter my previous statement with "I mean, you wish I was on your back, cause then it would be you doing the work and me looking at you doing the work and laughing to myself.." and at this point Im talking to myself because Ive already passed the horses, so I feel like a bigger fool... Damn horses and their mind games...

3) Goats, Cows, Sheep, and Rams dont seem to give 2 shits about me. While horses show vauge interest, sort of like when you see a cactus outside of a mexican resturant although cacti (is that right?) arent native to your area. But cows and other farmland animals (with the exception of bird-esque animals like roosters amd ducks) dont even take notice of me. It was suggested that I start carrying a pitchfork and bar-b-que sauce with me on my long runs, but none of these animals have opposable thumbs, so I dont see how these items would spark interest either. I guess they know Im of no danger to them because A) their not dead, so Im not going to step on them or B) Im not currently eating meat. Either way they need to realize that I am an attention whore and I demand some attention!!!

3) I forgot #3...

4) Snakes are awesome! I knew this waaaaaaay before I even started running, but I saw a little copper head crossing the road and it reminded me of their sheer awesomeness! Id like to imagine that he was trying desperatley to flee from the oncoming awesomeness that is myself, but Im sure he was just trying to cross the road before it became too hot. Oddly enough I was doing the same thing, so I guess in a way the snake and myself are like one mystical being on a path through life destined to cross roads when cool.

5) Dogs make the best running buddies. They dont complain when I fart, blow snot rockets, sing off key, tell them to slow down cause I cant keep up, and they dont require conversation. I havent ran with a dog in a long long time, but I do miss it. My last running dogs name was "Newton" and his back right hip was bad, so he couldnt put pressure on his back right leg. To conpensate for this he would hop on his back left leg and pull himself forward with his 2 front legs. He was an awesome dog and was right by my side no matter how fast or long I was running for.

6) If I got into a place where I doubted myself or felt like stopping or started feeling "off" in any way, taking off in a sprint or any increased pace for 100-400 meters would bring me right out of it in a snap. Even picking up the pace slightly for a mile or so would help out alot. Not sure if it was the increased adrendaline or what, but it worked nicely!

8) I think of the strangest shit when Im out on long runs. The most pointless, unimportant, rediculous thoughts come to mind. Really, how important is it for me to figure out how to breed giraffes down to a max heigth of 5'5"? Please dont mistake this for those retarted Direct TV ads with the supposed "Minature Lap Giraffes" that really dont exist, and would be pointless if they did. This is the real deal here! Genuine household sized giraffes. Another pointless thought, what would you see if you made your way inside a perfect sphere made of a mirrored surface? I would bet that your life would seem dull after that, kind of like how regular ice cream tastes after youve had Blue Bell.... Nothing really lives up after that ya know? I really think it would ruin a person. That said, what would happen if you set a red laser light inside of this life destroying sphere and turned it on? Would it open a portal to another world where people are born with shoes on their feet and teeth on their fingers? I sure as hell DONT want to find that out...

These are all just small examples of how my typical long runs go. I actually wore my "SPI Belt" on this run since I had to carry my phone to call the wifey, so I plan on writing my first product review over the "SPI Belt" as I was actually quite pleased with its performance!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The False ideas about barefoot running.

As a member of the Barefoot Running board on the Runners World forums I get the honor of helping direct runners new to barefoot running, minimalist running, and running in general. There seem to be lots of misconceptions regarding barefoot running, so hopefully I can help to clear some of these nonsensicle notions for those of you who are interested in coverting to barefoot running or have never ran before period.

False thought #1
Modern surfaces (Ie concrete, cement, asphalt, ect...) arent natural and are too hard to run on barefoot, so I should start on grass or dirt.

The harder surfaces are ideal for learning how to run barefoot.

The whole concept / reason for running barefoot is to A) improve form and B) strengthen unused muscles in the feet and lower legs. So for this misconception we will focus on the form perspective.

Running in conventional marshmallow overly cushioned running shoes allows the use of poor form. The extra padding absorbs impact and kills the feedback that your body needs in order to react accordingly. This allows you to reach out way in front of your center of gravity with your legs and land on your heels with your legs typically straight. This has several negative side effects. Lots of the impact forces generated by landing infront of your center of gravity and sent through your body, this is primarially felt in the joints. Hence why lots of people dont enjoy runnig because its too "jarring" and hurts their joints. This also halts your momentum and slows you down, thus killing your effenciency and causing you to tire out quicker.

Running on grass, dirt, sand, or any other soft and forgiving surfaces allow you to mimic the same actions mentioned above. These surfaces allow sloppy form and dont really do anything to improve your form, so its somewhat pointless.

Now if you were to remove these cushionings from under your feet and continue running in this manner it would hurt and you wouldnt make it more than 5 or 6 strides before you started to make corrections. This is why hard surfaces are best to start on, they do not allow for sloppy form. When you have to rely on your bodys natural ability to absorb impact your body will start to make the necessary adjustments almost instantly without you even noticing. Your feet will make contact with the ground either directly under your center of gravity, or just a tad bit ahead of it so your not working against yourself by creating a braking effect. Your knees will bend them selves a little so that the impact generated is absorbed via muscles like the quads and calves instead of your joints. Your shorter stride will result in an increased cadence to maintain your speed. And you wont be landing directly on your heels anymore. Instead it should be a more midfoot to forefoot landing to allow your calves and achillies to absord the impact.

So the truth is that soft surfaces will hide faults. When learning how to run Barefoot, the harder surfaces will give you honest feedback.

Falsity #2)
The ground is covered in glass shards, nails, bits if sharp metal, poop, rocks, and hypodermic needles. Im sure to step on something and cut my foot wide open and bleed to death, or at least surely get a bad infection and / or virus.

Yes. This stuff is out there, no denying that. Luckily your just barefoot, not blind.... Over the last 8 months of my barefootedness Ive never cut my foot open, and Ive only seen 2 cases where someone has.

I will admit that I have stepped in some gross things. The worst of which was a freshly ran over Opossum. I stepped right smack dab in the brains. I imagine if I ever step in a bowl of warm jello it would be very similiar. Ive also stepped in lots of poopy of various type, mainly bird poop. Yet Im still here!

Falsity #3)
Your feet will become nothing but a giant calluses.

Not so. When I used to run shod my feet were giant calluses, now their nice and smooth and leathery, much like the palms of my hands but thicker. There is a slight amount of abrasion and friction that tale place while running bare, and that removes most of the dead skin cells and builds up the plantar skin. Think of each step as a minature pedicure!

Falsity #4)
I need to slowly transition from my conventional marshmallow running shoes, to a reduced running shoe, then to a minimalist shoe, then finally barefoot.

You dont have to.

You can do this if you like, theres nothing "wrong" with it. Its just sort of pointless and costly. If you want to run barefoot, then you dont need shoes. Hence it being called "Barefoot".

Falsity #5)
Man hasnt evolved to run barefoot.

What? Really? So the thousands upon thousands of years before shoes man never once ran anywhere? It wasnt untill the invention of shoes that man realized he could move faster than a walk? Really? This idea boggles my mind. How can the last 40 years of marshmallow shoes erase the thousands of years of evolution before it? And if man wasnt intended to run barefoot, then how can myself and hundreds of other people do it every day with no issues?

Hopefully this has cleared up some confusion for someone out there. I plan to add to this as more comes to mind.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The beginnings.


First off, if your reading this, then thank you. I mean that. Thank you even more if you continue reading to the end...

A little about myself. Im currently 26 years of age, have been married to the most wonderfull woman in the entire world for 5 years, and have had 2 awesome offspring with her. My family really is my life, everything else is just filler. I spend most of my time in a chemical plant working and inhaling toxic fumes, which could explain a whole lot of things. My hobbies include running, cycling, swimming, and automobiles but running takes up 99% of my hobby time. As with every other runner thats currently taking up blogging, I run barefoot. This leads into my first official blogging rant...

Barefoot running is a form of minimalist running, but minimalist running is not necessarily barefoot. It really irks me when people say their barefoot runners, but their feet have never made contact with any surface outside of a shoe. If you have anything on your feet, your are NOT barefoot, you are shod. Some shoe companies have taken advantage of the barefoot phenomenom and labled their shoes as "Barefoot Shoes" which is an oxymoron in itself. Granted these shoes might be a great product, but they are shoes and not being barefoot.

These are known as "Minimalist Shoes" and I personally think its great that the industry is heading in the right direction and away from the conventional built up, overly cushioned, non flexible foot coffins that have been in production for the last 40 or so years. I currently own 1 pair of minimalist shoes and their the Vibram Five Finger "KSO". I hope to add onto my collection of minimalist shoes as its starting to get very very VERY hot here in southeast Texas (Greatest state in the world!) and the roads are too hot to run barefoot on with out burning, scorching, and blistering .

Thus is one of my intentions with this blog. A) Spread the good word of Minimalist and Barefoot running, and B) Become a swag ninja and give good honest reviews of the products Ive tested for others to read and evaluate for them selves.