Wednesday, November 05, 2014

On Strike

Been enjoying my off season/recovery month.  Perfect weather, the nicest fall I can remember ever, anywhere.  Lots of hiking, walks w/ dogs, Kangoo jump boots, even some agility - I know, shock horror.  I've been doing my strength training at the playground.  Very fun.  Very challenging.  First time I tried it I did 20 minutes worth and it felt like nothing then I woke up the next morning and couldn't move for 2 days.  Lots of little experiments planned.  Too many in fact, had to cut down and I think the first one getting the axe for now is ketosis.  Partly because I'd have to pony up just over $100 for a ketosis meter but mostly because - Sweet Potato Season!  I love sweet potatoes.  But they don't go with ketosis so much.  Again I could buy a meter and see how much if any I could eat and stay in ketosis but . . . yeah, too much money and hassle for now.  It's still on my list of experiments, just moved to the bottom.

The big thing I'm working on right now is my running.  It's the one thing that didn't improve this year despite what felt like a lot of hard speed work.  So I've decided to focus on form this fall and there are lots of methods to choose from.  For now I've decided on Kelly Starrett's 'Ready to Run' book, hot off the presses.

He's a bit controversial I think, especially amongst triathlon folks/runners probably because his focus is Crossfit.  But I like his 'systems approach' to running.  He outlines 12 steps to take to prepare the body for running and these include mobility exercises for various systems of the body to improve range of motion, restore function, etc.  I have a suspicion that these range of motion limitations are a big part of what's holding me back.

Step number 2 of this program involves building up strength in the foot by walking around barefoot when possible and otherwise wearing flat (zero drop), minimally or uncushioned shoes with the end result of being able to run in such shoes.  And I suspect this will be the biggest issue for me because right now I have mega-cushioned stability shoes and custom orthotics.  And despite several years of trying to change my stride I'm still a heel striker.  Big time.  My feet are not so fabulous either.  I'll spare you the tedious details of all my issues but I've had foot surgery that included sawing through my big toe and reattaching it with pins and plates.  And I've got broken sesmoid bones in both feet (the sesmoid bones are in the forefoot).  So I've spent maybe 20 years avoiding landing on my forefoot in addition to 14 years of cushioned stability shoes and custom orthotics.

The podiatrist told me my foot problems arose as a result of wearing flat, unsupportive shoes so I'm very leery of drinking the Kool-Aid of minimalist running shoes.  And don't even get me started about the myth of it's impossible to heel strike in a pair of uncushioned, flat shoes or while running barefoot.  Because I just saw a video of an agility competitor running in 3 different styles of flat shoes including the Vibram 5 Fingers and she was heel striking in all 3 of them.  One of the runners in the promo video for Kelly's own book is heel striking!

Check out the runner heel striking at around 44 seconds.

And how big of an issue is heel striking anyway?  I honestly don't know.  There are disadvantages to forefoot striking.  Plus for me all the hardware and broken bones in my forefoot.

But I do like the idea of building up strength in my feet and if I have any complaints about the book so far it's that there are only mobility exercise for the foot, no specific foot strengthening exercises.  You're supposed to rely on barefoot walking and minimalist shoe usage to build up the strength.  So I set out yesterday to get a pair of cheapo flat gym shoes at the local Payless only to discover that it's fallen victim to the mansionification of Boulder, ie rich folk don't buy their shoes at Payless and Boulder is so overrun with rich folks.  Middle class/working class pretty much gone.  And real estate prices/rentals are going through the roof again.  Not sure what I'm still doing here but that's a post for another day.

Anyway I ended up at Boulder Running Company which is the last place I wanted to end up somehow it sucked me in and I ended up with a ridiculously expensive pair of zero drop but minimally cushioned shoes.

Very comfy, very purple.  I do love the purple.  Probably too much cushion for what Kelly was intending but the only zero drop shoes in the joint and they're probably a good transition for me given all my issues.  Something in between the super minimalist and the super cushion.  Might not build up the foot strength as much at first but again maybe a good transition for now until I get used to the taste of the Kool-Aid.

But despite the minimal drop and lighter cushioning, I'm still heel striking though admittedly not nearly as bad as in my regular shoes.

First 2 clips are in regular shoes the rest are in the new shoes

The plan is baby steps.  I'll spend 2 months just walking in these things, first just a mile on Lola's old dog walk then increasing gradually to a longer, faster Strummer walk.  Then the protocol is for 10% of total distance and gradually increasing I think by 10% each week but I may go even slower than that.  I'm going to wear them for my plyometrics and playground strength training as well.  I'll shoot more video in a month or so to see if there's any improvement.  There's definitely a change in stride with these shoes and I think I'll like it but I'll need to read more in the book to see what else is going on.

Oh for the days of being able to run around like a little kid without so much thought or risk of injury.


  1. Elayne, Don't know if you've seen your wonderful tribute to Josh Gottheil that appeared on your blog and we posted on the website If you have not objection, I'd like to have your full time in recognition but I'm sorry to say don't have it. Send me an email at and I send you warm regards. Diane (Josh's mom)

  2. Hi Diane, so nice to hear from you! Sent you an email.