Posts Tagged ‘barefoot running’

8th Annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

Right, then…

[This is something that I posted on TheBarefootRunners.Org]

I started to regain feeling in my feet after about 1½ miles. Up to this point, they were fairly numb due to the cold; after all it’s Thanksgiving Day. Well, maybe I should qualify that: The numbness was due to the “cold”. I have to put that in quotes because cold means a lot of things to a lot of people – so if you live in the Northeast, cold means temps are hovering around 0 F. But I wasn’t in the Northeast, I was in San Jose running the 8th Annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot and temps were in the mid 50’s. Me and 8039 other folks were tooling through downtown San Jose, trying to make a caloric dent in forthcoming grotesque exercise in extreme gluttony to commence later in the day. This is the third year I’ve run this.

Overall, the run was good. I’d run 10K before BFR, but that was a trail run; this was all pavement. I hedged my bets by carrying a pair of Invisible Shoes with me, lest the road surface be too much to tolerate. Fortunately, they were not needed.

Also, I applied [ahem] “Nail Paint” to my toenails to make them aerodynamic.


Orange and brown seemed to be somewhat seasonal, but folks did not notice my nice Earl Scheib-quality paint job (or if they did, they felt awkward saying something). Regardless, bolder colors for maximum “Dig Me” effect are in order.

Interestingly, it took a bit before I was able to settle my mind into just cruising down the road. Normally when I run, I’m somewhat familiar with the surface, but this was all new. In addition to that, I had 8000 other people to contend with. So it was a lot of random thoughts: Watch out for the pothole; run in the center of the road at the top of the crest; the manhole cover has drain holes in it, don’t get your toes stuck in one; pass this dude; pass that dude; pass this chick….no – wait – let’s hang back behind her, what’s the rush?; I can run on the painted lines if the road surface is too rough; I think I just stepped on a LEGO; that guy has a tattoo of either Pat Robertson or Andy Rooney on his calf – can’t tell which one.

I’m not positive I was the only one running barefoot, but I would not be surprised if that was the case. At first, while waiting for the race to start, I’d get the random sideways glances, or someone would whisper something to their friend who’d turn around and look at my feet. After the race started, more folks felt comfortable saying something. I’m happy to report that the comments were along the lines of “Hardcore!” followed by a fist bump, or the general “You’re running barefoot!” I’d ask if they tried BFR – some had, some hadn’t but said they wanted to – fair enough. I happened upon a couple of folks wearing min shoes but they weren’t up to chatting too much about footwear. I must have intimidated them with my aforementioned hardcoredness.

In the end, I’m happy with the outcome – I did 10K in 1:08:14, which gave me 10:59/mi. Being that shod, I normally run 10K in about 62 min, I can live with the 1:00/mi slower time. All this got me back to my friend’s house in time to start setting up for a meal that could choke Henry VIII.

Run Commuting

Note:  This is a slightly modified version of what I posted on

Right, then…

Last week, I made my first try at run commuting. I’ve been toying with this for about a month or so – that’s when I heard about the concept of running to work. Up to this point, I’ve been bicycle commuting and either running on my days off, or doing a short run at lunch. When I heard of run commuting, it opened up some new possibilities.

My commute is broken up into different sections, so I run barefoot (henceforth, “BFR”) the first 2.4 mi to the local train station, take the train south for a bit, and then run shod the remaining 3.8 mi in to work. Over time, the plan is to gradually increase my BFR mileage (using the 10%/week rule) so that the entire run is barefoot. As of yet, I am not running home, but that can become a possibility in the near future. Ultimately, the thought is to run the entire 11 miles in to work.

Overall, I can happily say that I enjoyed it and I am planning on run commuting at least once per week.

These are some random thoughts and whatnot that I noted on my run this morning:

1) I would not even consider this if there were not any showers at work. I’ve read some articles where folks did a variation of the Greyhound Bus Depot bath (basically, wash your face and the parts that stink), but that’s no good for a guy like me who sweats buckets.

2) My running clothes were not fully dry at the end of the day. True, I just mentioned above that I’m a good sweater (and I also am a lovely shawl), but I sort of figured that the forces of evaporation would not need more than 9 hours to dry out my running clothes. As I do not intend on wearing my work clothes for the trip home, I pretty much need to bring a dry set. Unfortunately for the guy sitting next to me on the shuttle, I was wearing damp, moderately pungent clothes for the ride home.

3) I’m learning the downfalls of using a cheap backpack. True, I don’t need a pack that can withstand Everest, but there are some things that are problematic.

  • Number one: The shoulder strap buckles do not hold after they have been adjusted. It got to the point that I constantly had to hold on to the bitter ends in order to keep the shoulder straps cinched up (which prevents the pack from swinging while I run).
  • Number two: Operating the zippers are a two-handed affair, making it a pain as I had to stop and close one of the waist pockets when I checked my phone.
  • Number three: The access port for loading/unloading is a bit small, which is fine for soft items (e.g. clothes) but creates problems with things that don’t squish down, like shoes or the container I carry my lunch in.
  • Number four: The pack I’m using now does not have one of those air-mesh back suspension things that create a void between your back and the pack. My thought is that I’m still going to be sweaty, so there’s no point to trying to avoid it with the air-mesh back suspension thingy. What I did learn is that while this might be true, I’m also soaking the padding with sweat, which – as you can probably imagine – will probably get rather nasty in short order.

This aside, I’m going to tinker with how the pack is loaded and see if there are any cheap mods that I can do to make the pack a little user-friendlier[1].

4) For now, I’m using a 30-liter pack (Outdoor Products Skyline 8.0). I went with this size so I can carry clothes, lunch, and my running shoes for the times that I’m BFR. I’m pondering different options that would allow me to use a smaller pack, like storing some clothes at work for when I run in (like I do with toiletries) as well as eating in the cafeteria those days, so I don’t have to carry lunch (don’t like the cost of that, though…also, whenever I eat at the cafeteria, I’m virtually obliged to buy at least two cookies, which starts me on a cookie binge). As for the shoes, I might look at carrying them outside of the pack in the water bottle pockets. In time, I should be able to go BFR the entire distance, which would eliminate the need to carry shoes, altogether.

5) My lunch salad seemed a bit traumatized by my run in to work. The vegetables were…I don’t know…bruised or something. Oddly, the dressing tasted like tears, so I don’t know what’s up with that.

UPDATE:  Since I originally wrote this, I modified the straps on the pack.  It turns out that when webbing (like what is used to adjust the shoulder straps) is too smooth, the buckles do not bite and hold it in place.  To counter that, I’ve glued a small section of rough webbing to the webbing on the pack, where it laces through the buckles.  I think I’ll wind up spending some time adjusting it, but by the way things look, I think it will hold nicely.  As for the zippers, I did some Googling and found that you can make zippers run smoother if you rub a bar of soap on the teeth – so I did just that and things seem better.  We’ll see how this shakes out in practical application.


[1] This was originally written as “more user-friendly” but the MS Word gods felt “user-friendlier” was more apropos.

One quick update before the week starts

Right, then…

I wanted to circle back on one thing and open the topic on another, before I trundle off to bed.

In the last post, I mentioned that I signed up for, so I can locate folks to climb with at my local gym. Straight out of the chute, I connected with someone that was looking for a partner the same day and time that I was looking for, and we arranged to meet…but – well, if this were a date, I’d say I was stood up, because she didn’t show. The main point, however, is that so far, it seems that the ClimbFind app is fairly slick (human frailty, aside), so I actually look forward to calling out for climbing partners to see how well it actually works.

Also, after dinking about, I’ve decided to give minimalist running a try. Since Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) became popular, I’ve been intrigued by them. In fact, I was eyeing some at REI yesterday, but backed off when the sales guy offered to let me try on a pair. After thinking about it, I remember that a former roommate bought some “invisible shoes” (or Hurarches) that he liked, so I just ordered a pair – which are approximately 1/2 the cost of VFF’s, so if I don’t like it, I’m not out that much. Note that while I’m getting a custom pair made (I had to send them a trace of my foot), I could have just ordered a kit which consists of sole material and lacing and made my own…maybe I’ll try that with the next pair. In the meantime, I’m going to work on building up some foot muscles by walking barefoot around the neighborhood (0.5 mi or so), so I don’t inadvertently tear something out the first time I try to run on these things. It should be interesting…