Tag Archives: run

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

We’ve been under siege from blustery winds for the last several days. Fortunately, we didn’t fall under tornado like other unfortunate towns. I am thankful for that.

Saturday, I planned to take the Cub Scouts (and willing family members) for a 7 mile bike hike along the Wauponsee Glacial Trail where we would end at the Kankakee River to be picked up by non-riding family members. I once ran a half marathon on this trail. I was very excited about taking the scouts on the trail, but I fretted over the weather for 10 days. When 1 PM rolled around, the winds picked up and the gusts started to blow the boys around. The problem was that these blustery winds were coming from the exact direction we were headed into.

Scratch that plan. The scouts wouldn’t have made it a half mile against that wind let alone 7 miles. We shortened the trip to 5 miles, put the wind at our backs, and headed north on the trail instead. Those kids pedal led their little hearts out. What a great time but all were happy to see the finish line.


Ironically, a month ago, a scout leader planned to fly kites on our regular meeting night this week. Now, we were worried the winds would carry the boys off with the kites. All day the winds were 24 mph with gusts as high as 36 mph. The wind advisory was scheduled to end a half hour before the meeting.

More ironically, as soon as the advisory was over, the wind was so dead it could barely be considered a breeze. We had to run the whole length of the field to get the kites to fly at all.

“Hey, are you supposed to be running in that boot?” I was asked.
“No, but the doc didn’t say anything about flying kites,” I called back.

We sprinted up and down that field for an hour having a complete blast. Two hours earlier, I had to scream at the soccer team just to get them to jog. Now, I was looking at a field full of boys begging for me to untangle their lines so they could run some more. The kites soaring higher and, really, not high at all.


Need a little variety in your runs? Need to do speed intervals. Try flying kites on a zero breeze day. Put play into your run because it’s a super smiley way to run.


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Filed under cycling, injury, running

Treadmill Smiley

It’s the first (now second) day of winter. As a runner in the northern hemisphere, I am happy for the first day of winter because it means it might actually snow soon. Plus, it means early morning daylight is on the horizon. Until either one if these magical events happen, I will carry on, plodding my way through winter on a treadmill.

Almost every runner hates their treadmill. I think hate is a strong word but wouldn’t bestow a BFF title on my treadmill either. I don’t hate the treadmill because I have learned there are ways to make a treadmill run smiley.

Treadmill Method #421
(I like choosing random three digit numbers to number my methods because it insinuates that I have more than a thousand different ideas, and I just pulled a random idea out of a hat for today’s post.) First off, when I want to run four or five miles, I am not obliged to run them consecutively. Second, being able to listen to music while running on the treadmill eases the agony of running into the oblivion. Although I list music as a runner-up, listening to music is really treadmill method #1. However, method #421 is a modification of method #1 so music gets secondary billing under this particular method.

How Method #421 Was Developed
The hotel had a “cardio” room instead of a fitness room. I asked where the fitness room was and was corrected with “cardio” room making me wonder who sued them over that terminology. Tomato tomahto as long as the room included a treadmill.

The hotel employee led me to the ‘restricted’ area of the hotel. The sign on the door stated “Employees Only”. My first glance was of a dimly lit room. It was narrower than a regular guest room but wider than a standard closet. There were no windows, clocks, or pictures. A treadmill, a stationary bicycle, a stair master, and an armchair were lined up one in front of the other. I suppose armchair quarterbacks come here for their super bowl preparations? The “cardio” room was a pinch creepy but functional.

As a rule, I spend the warm-up period gleaning a method to keep the treadmill from extracting my spirit. Acknowledging my dour surroundings, I opted for a less routine method, #287, referred to as non consecutive miles. It’s perfect for when I need mental breaks through that hour’s length of time. I would fill the gaps with push-ups.

Love Shack by B-52s was pounding in my earbuds at the leading break. I was into the tune enough that instead of pressing my nose into a sketchy carpet, I descended from the treadmill and started grooving. Sure, there wasn’t much room and my only partner was a armchair waiting for someone to turn on a TV, but the music was in my soul. If there were any security monitoring cameras in the”cardio” room, they would have witness Elaine inspired dance moves.

The following break time came before a good dance song had started playing. Hence, I continued running for another 1/4 mile as I skipped through songs until I located the right beat. Once more, I dismounted the treadmill and grooved like a funky cat.

I spent an hour in a run/dance combo. I fulfilled four miles with an impression of having executed only one mile. I ran and grinned. I had fun and was joyful that I’d found the dingy “cardio” room.

Official Method Descripition
Method #421 – Dance Interludes

Purpose: To Treadmill Smiley

Scope: To complete an enjoyable treadmill run while maintaining an elevated cardio rate for the duration of the time allotted.

Safety: Safe treadmill procedures are to be followed at all times using this method. This includes wearing the appropriate clothing. Shoes may not be necessary when running on a treadmill.

Terminology: Stint is the length of time spent running. Interlude is the time between stints when you dance.

1. Separate the target run length into short mentally manageable stints.

2. Run the stints at a speed to elevate your heart rate but reserves booty shaking energy.

4. Select a booty shaking or foot stomping song from your ipod in the interlude.

5. Select random play on your ipod.

6. Continue the interlude for as long as random play selects booty shaking or foot stomping songs.

7. Repeat steps 2 – 6 until run length or time allotted is culminated.

Have a Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Go Run Smiley!

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Filed under Barefoot, Lessons learned, music, running

Another Shoe

It’s hard for me to compare one shoe to another as I am in a different place and made adjustments as I moved along this path.  I am unable to determine if the difference is in the shoe or in me.  Perhaps that is why Dr. Craig Richard’s proposal to study running shoes makes sense after all.  

Neither here nor there, I am going to tell you about my new shoes.  For the most part, I like to go barefoot.  There are places like work, the store, Monster Truck Jam when I feel (or am required) that wearing shoes is necessary.  I find it most interesting how self-conscious we are about shoes or no shoes.   No matter how crazy, or different, or daring we are, even us barefooters, are programmed to feel self-conscious about going without shoes.   I have yet been reprogrammed.  Thus, I bought another pair of shoes. 

When I went barefoot, I kept my Adidas shoes for casual wear, turning the compost pile, or other emergencies.  This past winter I resigned to the fact that I had no tolerance for sub-freezing temps and slushy, icy roads when wearing my VFFs.  I sunk to wearing my Adidas for winter runs.  Bah.  I am fairly certain wearing those Adidas lead to the flare up of tendonitis that I have yet to resolve.   Even wearing the Adidas for casual wear began to make my feet hurt more and more.  As a result, I began my hunt for a minimalist shoe that I could wear for winter runs.  Now that it is summer, I need a shoe for casual wear. 

My latest purchase…. Merrell pace glove.

I do not intend to wear these shoes for the purpose in which they were designed, at least, not very often.  I purchased these shoes for casual wear in the summer.  See all the nice mesh upper?  I have not had a stinky foot since purchasing them! This is very important because I tend to take my shoes off all the time, like, in the car.  The 5 hour Memorial Day car ride was a bit unpleasant until I covered up my stinky feet. 

I also tried on the Merrell Pure Glove.  I was mad for the red ones. I have wide feet so I was very pleased with the fit of both shoes.  However, I have to note that I fit into a 9 for the Pace but an 8.5 for the Pure based on width alone.  It is not often that I have to go down a size due to width.  Although, I went to the store for the Pure, I chose the Pace just because it seemed to feel better. 

I was going to wait until I actually took them for a run before writing about them but the best you are going to get is a half hour of playing tag at the park with the Cub Scouts.  I did a lot of short sprints and twists and turns.  The shoes did well.  They have a little bit of tread in them as you can see below.  You can also see the dirt on the front of one shoe.   

I’m already tired of writing this review as you are reading it.  I’ll cut to the chase.

Things I like: 

  1. The sole follows the curve of your foot.  I feel like it hugs the ball of my foot. 
  2. The width is fantastic
  3. They seem easier to walk in than VFFs.  Not sure if this is a real benefit or if I have just learned how to adapt a barefoot stride to shoes.  I do remember feeling awkward trying to walk in VFFs last summer.  I have no problem waking barefoot but I seem to have a brain-shoe connection with my stride.  This seems reduced when wearing my Paces. 
  4. Love the look.  They just look good plus they draw less attention to my minimalist style. 
  5. The back hugs up around your heel.  It is a fabric covered piece of elastic.  Because I am going casual in these shoes, I leave them tied.  The elastic heel allows me to just slip them on.  I had a bit of irritation from rubbing on the heel but I think that would be reduced if I was tieing them as I’m supposed to be. 
  6. When riding my bike, the grated edges of the pedals are less noticeable in the Paces than in the VFFs.  I won’t wear the VFFs when riding my bike.  The Paces are perfect.
  7. The sole is completely flexible unlike a lot of other shoes I have looked at. 

Thinks I don’t like:

  1. They might be considered barefoot, but they are a shoe. period.   They are not the same as going barefoot.    
  2. I agree that it seems a bit silly to spend so much money on a shoe that is supposed to feel like it’s not a shoe but I’ve tried going with cheap shoes.  I wore a pair of Payless ballet type tennis shoe last summer.   I don’t know why but if you are going to wear a shoe, maximus or minimalist, you do get what you pay for. 

In all, the Merrell Pace Glove is almost exactly what I was looking for in a casual minimalist shoe.   I’ll keep my Miminus Lifers for cooler weather when my feet won’t stink so much.  I’ll keep my VFFs for running on extreme surfaces.  I’ll try to go barefoot as much as possible and stop spending so much money on shoes!

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Filed under Barefoot, cycling, Vibram Five Fingers

Stubborn Rhymns

I moved those bare feet a little further on down the road.  My last bare run was 0.4 miles. Today, I went 0.85 miles.  I wasted time donning the VFFs at the bridge limiting how far I could go in my 30 minute run.  Tally of 2.74 miles. 

Wait, didn’t I just promise the other day to start making my runs more fun and less concerned about distance?  Ahem…

Seriously, running in the VFFs was a lot of fun. 

Light on my feet

Running through the street

Listen’ to the beat

Oh, man, light on my feet


..which brings me back to the barefooting…strangely,  I felt labored and leaded during the bare portion.  Once I had my VFFs on I was all foot loose and fancy free.  (Pun totally intended)

This reflection upon my bare run brings me to a decision.  If I intend to spend my summer trying to have more fun with running, am I able to … do I want to struggle to go bare? 

How many times does stubbornness rule your day?  I’m beginning to realize that I am much more stubborn than I give myself credit for. 

I really want to get back to, no, I’ll be honest; I really want to brag about going barefoot. 

How to do that?

In a conversation at work, someone asked another co-worker how far he runs every day.  It was like 6 or 10 miles.  They asked what he does to warm up for those runs.  I looked at the co-worker, he looked at me.  We said simultaneously, “Run a mile or two”.   I, myself, have experienced when the later miles were better than the former miles.  I was training for my first half marathon.  I recall miles 1-5 had sucked but the next 2-3 miles were fantastic.

Perhaps it wasn’t the barefooting that caused me to drag in the beginning of my run.  Perhaps it was just the general warming up part.  So, I’ve decided to rearrange my running plans.  I will run bare through the last mile instead of the first mile. 

Yeah, I’m stubborn as a mule

I take carbs and protein as my fuel

I fight my brain in a duel

Using my feet as the tool

Conquer the mental game so I can rule.

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Filed under Barefoot, running, Vibram Five Fingers

Trying to keep up Run Smiley Viral

I’m putting in a link to a great blog on running for fun.  My one reader can check it out and keep a good thing viral.  (My stats say I have about 5 readers but I’ve been here long enough to know not to trust stats.)

The Best Accessory

Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes (I can’t say change in attitude without singing the song)

Thanks to Barefoot Angie Bee for keeping it viral

I used F.U.N. as a running accessory last year.  I got to say, Kate is right.  My summer runs last year were really good runs.   How did I get there?  I think it did happened for me when I went minimalist/bare too.  Because my goals were no longer the hard and fast distance, speed, and miles.  They were soft and fluffy like a cloud or a pillow.  Who doesn’t like pillows?  Anyway, with a goal of transitioning to barefoot, I got really excited about just completing the run.  About doing something a lot of people thought was CRAZ-ZY.  I kept it up and just kept going.   I was feeling good about accomplishing a run rather than obsessing about the data that went with the run.  It was like falling in love all over again.

Thanks for the reminder, Kate.

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Filed under Barefoot, personality flaws, running, Vibram Five Fingers

Why It’s Hard To Save the World

I enjoy playing the super hero, doing things to save the world… like carpooling. 

But, carpooling puts a little cramp into my style. 

See, my car pooling buddy goes to work earlier than I do(did).  So, I am now leaving the house an hour earlier.  Which means that if I want to run before work, I’m going to have to start getting up before 5 am.  Eeek!

Except this week because my car pooling buddy is on vacation.  I’m back to my foot-fancy gas guzzling ways for one week.  Which means, I totally killed a run this morning!!

Actually, I only went 2.46 miles with plenty of walking breaks because I’m trying to ease back into running after the half marathon so that MAYBE some of my tendonitis issues will actually heal and I won’t have to listen to a bunch of people tell me how my shoes are bad or running is bad or how I’m just asking for it. 

Still, I’m loving the freedom of my gas guzzling ways so that I can run, run, run till my car pooling buddy comes home.

Speaking of shoes…

New Balance Minimus Life

I’ve been wearing these babies for about a month now.  I really like them except 1. really, they are too narrow for my feet and 2. they are hot so they are getting a little stinky.  I’ve been looking for a “winter” /casual pair of minimalist shoes.  These fit the bill pretty well.  I wear them nearly every day.  The sole is thicker than VFFs so there is extra cushion and warmth.  I need a wider shoe but I don’t like the looks of the men’s shoe.  They promote it for walking/casual.  I’ve taking them for a 3 mile and a 2.46 mile run when I didn’t have my VFFs.   Both runs were great.  Disclaimer: I still run in my VFFs except for those two runs.  I plan to build back up to barefooting this summer.

I noticed with all my tendonitis issues that my feet were starting to hurt worse after wearing my Adidas all day in the lab.  I’m pretty confident that the inflexible sole was aggravating my tendons by not working with them.  These minimum life are very flexible and give me just what I need.  I even felt some relief one day when I switched out of the Adidas back into the Minimus life. 

Anyone ready for a shoe burning?  Meaning my Adidas not my VFFs or MLs

When in the New Balance store, I tried on the trail shoe and if the top hadn’t been so tight and narrow I would have gotten it.  I liked the sole better but couldn’t stand how tight they were.  This line of shoes is not for the wide foot.  They didn’t have the men’s shoe in my size.  I did not try on the running shoe because it looked too much like a regular shoe to me.  I also think New Balance needs to train their sales people to be prepared when  barefooter comes in looking for shoes.  My sales person was condescending and clueless on fitting a barefooter.  He’d be good for someone who’d never run in anything but conventional shoes.

Now I’m on the hunt for a minimalist sandal for casual wear.  I saw some at the New Balance store I want to check out. (Can’t find them on the website) Plus, I’m thinking about ordering some Merrel’s.

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Filed under Barefoot, personality flaws, running, Vibram Five Fingers

Run For The Health Of It 2011

It’s not a very good idea to be standing in line for the port-a-potty when you hear the National Anthem play.  I was the good little Cub Scout Leader by being quite, respectful, with my hand over my heart, but I had a little trouble stopping the pee-pee dance.  The worst part was that there were still about 10 people in line in front of me.   Mrs. PG and I, we met in line, she’s pregnant with #2, had a decision to make.  Do we stay in line and start late or hope we become dehydrated before we pee our pants?   Yeah, I guess good competitors never die.  We totally went for dehydration and sprinted down to the starting… er… crowd.   I didn’t make it to a bathroom until about 3 hours after the race was done. 

Five minutes after the the gun went off, we began to move forward.  Mini-steps lead to shuffling lead to walking lead to a desperate attempt to start running.  I tried to stay with Mrs. PG at the starting line but I felt good and wanted to go faster.  I guess it’s hard to develop loyalties after only 10 minutes in the port-a-potty line. 

With all my tendonitis issues, I wanted to “sit” back and take in a delightful run through Kalamazoo.  The problem was that I was running faster than everyone around me.  I tried to slow down but I still kept weaving in and around people.  A pacer was near-by me.  I must not have been thinking very clearly because it took me a good 10 minutes to realize that I was near the 2:45 pacer.  Eeek!  From that point on I had my sights on the 2:00 pacer, yet, I would never find him/her. 

The best section was clearly the down hill in the second mile.  I must have easily passed 100 people.  The last time I did this race, I ran that mile in about 7 minutes.  I missed the 3 mile marker so I don’t know how fast I was running but I was fast.  It’s something I’ve learned by going minimalist.  I hated running down hills because my back would tense up so bad I’d have to stop and walk on a down hill.  How embarassing.  With minimalist, I let gravity take me down.  By landing on the forefront of my foot, I don’t get that back jarring impact I used to get.  It’s like running like a kid all over again.  I’m sprinting down the hill but I’m not using any more energy than when I’m going flat.  It was fun and for a few minutes I was really, really, really fast. 

The worst part is hard to choose but I guess the bridge was a little worse than the hills.  With so many of us running on the bridge, it was bouncing enough that I could not get my footing right.  I’d step down but the bridge wasn’t where I was expecting it to be.  You know the effect, but imagine being about 10 miles tired and trying to run as fast as you can still manage.  I think that bridge sucked a lot of energy out of me. 

I wish I had known the course better.  I do much better when I can mentally/visually check off a list of landmarks.  When I did the Chicago half years ago, I stopped to walk at mile 10, even though I knew there were 3 more miles, because the course did not turn the way I was expecting it to.  The last time I did the Kalamazoo half, I PR’d because I was able to see myself pass the list of landmarks in my head.  The course was different this year so I struggled, again, with keeping my head in the game the last few miles.

I’m very glad that during training, I had established that I wanted to finish strong.  That I was willing to sacrice my time to finish strong.  Fortunately, I’ve realized and cemented the “natural pace” belief in my head.  While this may not be a good theory in the end for getting a PR, it does help you kick  yourself in the butt when you want to walk.  Everytime I wanted to walk, I said to myself, “Your feet are going to hurt whether you walk or run. Your legs aren’t going to be any different. Your lungs are fine. So, pick up the pace.”  It wasn’t too long ago on the treadmil when I recalled that it IS actually easier to run faster than slower.  When I’m below my natural pace, I feel like lead and I want to stop.  When I push my pace up, I begin to feel lighter and better.  It’s the pace that I should be at insted of restricting my energies by trying to go ‘conservative’. 

As I came into the last mile, I was running next to Tatoo Sleeves.  She and I had been going back and forth for some time so I was using her as a pacer.  I asked myself if I was still strong enough to pull away in the last mile.  Since I wanted to finish strong, I pushed up to that natural pace and pulled away from Tatoo Sleeves.  Once I rounded the corner for the last 0.1 mile, I pushed the turbo speed.  I grunted a lot but I sprinted that last section and crossed over at 2:10:49.  It was not my best time, it was not my worst time, it may have been my strongest time.   

I saw Mrs. PG cross the finish line about 5 minutes behind me and ran into her on the shuttle bus with Kid #1 in tow.  It’s that strange feeling you have when you recognize someone on a plane that had been on the same parking shuttle bus as you an hour earlier.  I think we both did pretty good as neither one of us stopped for the port-a-potty.

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Filed under Michigan, running, Vibram Five Fingers