Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Path to running a Marathon with VibramFiveFingers

Many people running with VFF or barefoot, all with difference types of reasons. Some said it helps to prevent injuries; some belief that BF or VFF allow a better biomechanical form in running. Some like it simple, and some may even think this is hot and sexy by doing something out of ordinary.

My reason of running in VFF/BF is because it is simple. There are no/minimum barrier between you and the road surface make you felt that all your senses are activated and you are running as a WHOLE person. There are so many disturbances on our daily life, most of the time we do thing half-heartedly but hoping for the best. Running is one of the activities that you can throw in the whole of YOU and working towards your personal best. Running in VFF or BF put it to an extreme (try day-dreaming via running in VFF/BF, and then you will understand this). And this feeling is very addictive.

I am with my KomodoSport for 10 months now. I lost track on how far it goes, but guess it should be only >500km. Due to my lazy feet, the outsole is in bad condition. Both legs have similar problem but the left leg is slightly better. Other parts are still in good condition.

How to start running in VFF?
Start with walking in it first. I used it as shopping shoes for 2 weeks before I start running with it. There are not guidelines for how long you needed in this stage. Take your time to enjoy the walking in VFF until you are comfortable with it. You should not attempt your normal mileages right away, build you mileages in VFF with the usual practice you had with normal shoes. Start with short distances of 20~30minutes. Slowly increase in weekly basis and stop pushing further when you encounter pain especially in knees, heels or ankles.

Running in VFF or BF is all about landing on your mid-forefoot. So, if you are a forefeet striker, tentatively your calf muscles are more ready then other to adopt the additional load from its barefoot liked running style. If you are heel striker, then you need more time. While adapting to VFF via walking, you can also train up your calf muscles by hill works. Focus on your landing and make effort to land on mid foot on each step. This can be done relatively easy in slow pace, try it with 1~2 minutes on top of your normal marathon pace (or 9~10min/km). Shorten you strides, but fire them rapidly. Your cadences should be faster than 170~180spm. The fast churning will not only help to regulate the breathing, it also prevented you to overstrike.

How far and how soon you are ready for a Marathon? Its all depend on how flexible and adoptable your feet are. Some runners took years just to moving from heel striking to mid foot landing, some just took a few weeks to adjust. You will need to listen to your body to avoid TMTS (too much too soon). When should you start running Marathon in VFF? I would suggest you to consider that only after you done a 32km LSD in VFF without feeling abnormal amount of pain especially in your calves and soles. It will be definitely a painful experience to run 32km or a Marathon, the judgment I made is at least your calves and soles are ready to take the pain.
Retiring VFF KomodoSport
New VFF KomodoSport
New VFF KomodoSport Black & Silver Color Scheme
I completed my first VFF Marathon in ENR2012. I got my second pair of VFF KomodoSport (Black and Silver color scheme, I still prefer the previous Yellow color scheme) and the New Balance MR00. I will be on full time minimalist running shoes. Next race is to challenge the sub-5 Marathon in SCKLM with VFF. Not too confident I can do it, but I will try.
New Balance MR00

Monday, May 21, 2012

PJ Dawn 2012 Race Report

This is another half marathon starting at 3am. My first HM started at this difficult hour is the last Penang Bridge International Marathon. But this time, I don’t need to travel so far and stayed in a noisy hostel. The pre-race preparation went well. The whole family went to bed around 8:30pm (I don’t know about the rest, but I collapsed around that time once light out). Wake up about 1am and felt fresh and excited, and the coughing and blocked nose seem to at ease.

Left home around 1:45am, drove to Kelana Jaya Stadium but the organizer blocked off the entrance of Old Airport Road from Federal Highway. I guess that is a good sign as they are putting some effort on the traffic control (but it can be hard to others whom less familiar with the other access ways to the stadium). Reached the parking around 2:20am. Done some usual stretching, warming up, and then standing in the starting pan wait for the flag off. Met my colleague who took part in 12km. Took some photos.
Race flagged off few minutes before 3am, I think this is the first race that flagged off before the planned time. Usual start off jam only cleared until we reached the Old Airport Road. I stay with my 5.5~6 minutes target pace all the way until we turned into the Ara Damansara after 9km, and then drop the pace to 6.2 minutes. The initial part of the race is very hot without any breeze; we only felt some breeze after few km into Ara Damansara. I lost my pace around 13km when facing the climb before the 2nd U-turn. May be due to the blister forming in my toes, the light breeze, or the very quiet Ara Damansara. I don’t feel like pushing it back to target pace after the U-turn. Stayed at 6.5 minutes all the way until finish. Again missed my sub-2 goal for 7 minutes. Anyway, still a PB in HM distances.
Look back to my HR records, the average HR only 157BPM, typical tempo running mode. And it is inflated too as I pushed at the final 1km back to 5.4 minutes pace. I imagined the average HR will be someway around 165~170BPM if I pushed all the way. It may not be a sub-2, but it will land closer or may be right on the target. I think the issue laid on myself i.e. I am not ready to die for the sub-2 HM. Read Jamie’s blog about this, I think I am still lagging the will to pushing all the way till the end. Need to include some training on the endurance in the mental stage.
Next race will be the SCKLM, I will do my first attempt of sub-5 marathon, but seriously I am lagging of training lately. The workload is catching up and I am currently down by coughing and flu. The training plan went out the window for about 2 weeks now. Hopefully I will be fully recovered by this weekend to squeeze in LSD that more than 32km. Else, I will only have one more chance for a 32km LSD before SCKLM. This is importance for the mind/mental stage training.

Next importance issue, get a replacement of my VFF KomodoSport. Brought the New Balance MR00 last week and tried it on BA-Sri Hartamas 20km, don’t think it can replace the VFF. Stay tune for more detail review next week after I put in more mileages to MR00.