Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Vivobarefoot Tip #1 - Walk Before You Can Run

If you are sitting down, right now, then stand up and take off your shoes. Wiggle your toes, rock onto your heels then the ball of your feet and back again. Ensure that the Great Toe (big toe) is acting as your anchor and engaged with the ground. Your body weight should be distributed  in between your 1st and 2nd metatarsals (knuckles). Stand upright and look into the horizon, take a few deep breaths. How does it feel? Pretty incredible pieces of equipment, the feet, aren’t they?

Standing: a simple, static, yet fundamental skill should be perfected before any dynamic movement occurs. Posture alignment by correct weight distribution and proper use of the feet is essential.

1. Stand upright, align your posture and hold your hands by your sides and set your gaze on the horizon.
2. Ensure the heel, ball and big toe are engaged with the ground.
3. Ensure your weight is distributed evenly.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Learn the skill of barefoot movement with VIVOBAREFOOT



The team at VIVOBAREFOOT have put together a handy training guide that is a must if you are just starting out in the world of Barefoot running.

"So, what now? Even though barefoot is in our blood, that doesn't mean you'll start doing it correctly the second you whip off your shoes and take to the streets.

Here is a training system that uses physical and mental milestones to help runners transition from conventional trainers to barefoot:


  • like all natural systems, the human brain constructs complex patterns by adding simple patterns together. This is visible in the way babies progress from simple to more complex movements; that is, from creeping to crawling, sitting, standing and eventually walking and running.
  • know the saying, 'you have to learn to walk before you can run'? It couldn't be truer. If our brain doesn't learn these simple movement patterns in the right order and to the right level of competency, our potential performance further down the line is jeopardised – for runners that means poor performance and injury.
  • this training system has three distinct movement milestones: walking/squatting, jumping and running. To fully realise the potential of your barefoot life, you must perfect each skill before moving onto the next.
If you've been wearing over-protective footwear all your life, your barefoot running muscles will be weak and your posture will be all out of whack. There's a bit of work to do first.


A Quick Movement Mantra
As you relearn the art of movement, this mantra will help to keep you on track – efficient and injury free:

Posture
Rhythm
Relax

Correct posture, an awareness of rhythm and a relaxed form will allow your body to receive the sensory feedback it needs to move efficiently and safely – as nature intended.

This mantra applies whatever you have on your feet: trainers, minimalist shoes or nothing at all!"

Here is the link to the main article on Vivobarefoot's Training Clinic.

Thanks for Vivobarefoot for a great article!





Monday, 13 January 2014

Bang Them Out Early

It's been a while since the last post, mainly due to a number of commitments, but now I am back with a BANG!

2013 was a year of firsts.  I completed my first Ultra-marathon.  I completed my first Ironman.  I got my first real injury (Plantar Fasciitis), soon to be followed by another injury.

It has been an emotional rollercoaster, with the highs of finishing some of the biggest and toughest events I have put my body through, and the lows of not being at the top of my game through injury.

Well 2014 has started well as I revisited the Country 2 Capital Ultra event.  45 miles of trail running from Wendover, Buckinghamshire to Paddington, London.
This was the second time I had run the course, and my aim was to go out an beat my previous time.  I had everything ready for the big day.  This time I had not gone mad with the equipment, and just kept to the essentials.

Isn't it strange how you can so prepared for something, then one little event can really screw things up? 

I had finished work, got the kids home and was waiting for Mrs W2B.  I got that dreaded phone call. The train she was on had been delayed.  OK, panic stations, I had to get my train at 19:13 and she would not be back until 18:55, then a short cab journey.  This would be close, and my stress levels were rising.
19:05 - still no sign!  I was cursing and trying to work out when the next interconnecting train was to Wendover.
19:10 - I finally get out the door, and walk to the station knowing I had 30 mins to the next train as I would miss my connection.  Lady luck gave me a glimmer of hope.  Someone had crashed into the barrier at the train crossing.  I know this sounds crazy, but this meant I could get the shuttle to the next main station and get a fast train.  I was back on track!!!
I made my connecting train to Wendover with 1 minute to spare, and finally arrived at the hotel at 22:00hrs. 
It was a case of straight to bed for an early rise.

The race itself was a simple task of a 400m sprint, followed by a 45 mile jog as there is a bottleneck right at the start.  The conditions this year were pretty tough going due to the heavy rain over the previous week.  The mud was energy sapping early on, and it was a case of being mindful of how much effort was being expended, and not to burn out too quickly.

The race passed without event, and to be honest, the last 20 miles was very dull so I won't bore you with the details.  One thing did stick in my mind though was a comment from a fellow runner.

"ultra-runners are like the crash-test dummies of the running world"

How true is that statement?
Well we go out, and run a ridiculous distance to see if our bodies will crash.

The good news out of all this is that I beat my time from 2013 by 30 mins!

Well happy with the result, and it has set me up for the year.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Product Review - Merrell Ascend Glove



Merrell have progressed their barefoot shoe series to a new level with the offering of the Ascend Glove.  The Ascend boasts a Gore-Tex lining to protect your feet from the elements on those long winter runs.

Official Blurb:

Cushioned for longer runs with waterproof and breathable fabric to keep your feet dry, this barefoot running shoe stays true to your natural stride through the thick of it. Charge over mountains and through creeks and rocky terrain with its aggressive, grabby lug design and TrailProtect pad for extra off-road support.

Technical Information:

UPPER/LINING
  • Fabric and synthetic upper
  • MotionMesh engineered for optimal breathability and range of motion
  • GORE-TEX® ConnectFit delivers amazing glove-like fit, exceptional breathability and waterproof performance.
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE
  • 0mm Drop / 6mm Cush / 10.5mm Stack Height
  • TrailProtect pad in the forefoot and heel offers additional support for the roughest terrain
  • Non-marking outsole
  • Vibram® outsole
First Impressions:

At first glance to would be forgiven for thinking that the Ascend is just another seasonal marketing ploy to make you buy the 'next best thing'.  Certainly when I compared the Ascend to my Sonic Gloves, outwardly to the untrained eye there is not much difference.  It is only when you put them on that you realise that the Ascend is a completely different shoe.

Left: Sonic Glove / Right: Ascend Glove

The Feel:

Laces in the past have always been a bug bear for me, and I generally take them off straight away and fit lock-laces, but they just seem to work.  I have had no problem with the laces coming loose, or sticking when wet.  This time I have left them along confident that they will not let me down at a critical moment.  Gone is the struggle just trying to get your foot into the shoe which I had experienced with the Sonic's.  The shoe is not as restrictive around the foot compared to previous models, but I would suggest buying 1/2 size larger to allow the toes to splay when running.  The large toe-box complements the shoe nicely, and has been the best feature for a while now.

The Outsole:

The outsole has changed from earlier incarnations with the onset of a more aggressive lug system.  This does restrict the feedback to the foot, but does provide superior grip in muddy conditions.  You can still differentiate between surfaces but not to the degree where it is detrimental to the overall experience. Gone is the raised lugs at the front of the shoe which I found quite a strange experience with the Sonic's.  The grip issues on wet concrete are negligible now but not perfect, as you ideally want as much rubber touching the surface as possible to provide the best results.  Ultimately, it is an off road shoe and performs best in muddy trails.



Upper/Lining:

Just a quick note on the lining.  With the addition of the Gore Tex lining, the shoe does not allow as much water to penetrate through to the foot, but I found in a prolonged test in the rain, that like most shoes the problem lies with the big hole where your foot goes.  Get water in there and you are going to get wet feet.  One thing that did surprise me was that my feet did not get hot with the Gore Tex lining, thus no blisters or hot spots.

Testing:

I wanted to give the Ascend a good test before the review came out, and having a very dry summer meant waiting for a couple of months before a decent amount of rain had messed up the trails.
Testing comprised of multi-terrain runs in both dry and wet conditions of varying lengths. 

  1. A number of 10 km runs on a variety of surfaces (Gravel, tarmac, woodland)
  2. 16 km night run along a canal path (mostly gravel)
  3. 38 km race in the pouring rain (mixed terrain)
I put in a good 100 miles+ testing the Ascends and I haven't found any bad points to speak of. Running on the trails seems a breeze as the Ascend is quite light and doesn't feel overbearing like some trail shoes.  Overall it performed admirably. 

Conclusion:

The Ascend glove is a great addition to your winter trail running kit.  The shoe is light and very comfortable, and I have not suffered any hot spots or blisters during the testing period.  Even straight out of the box, there were no tell tell rubbing marks, normally around the ankle or base of Achilles.  The design and build is still of a high quality which is to be expected from Merrell.
With the market now flooded with 'minimalistic' shoes, the Ascend stands out.  Merrell put a lot of R&D into their designs, and actually think about the runner as aposed to just jumping on the bandwagon (mentioning no names Nike).

Overall, this is a great trail shoe and I will be wearing this all through winter and into the start of my Ultra season.  I can't wait to see what comes out in 2014 from Merrell, as they have a good foundation in this market and things can only get better.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Merrell M-Connect - Feel Your Run

OUT or IN? When it's time to run, the choice is yours. At Merrell, they're all about being outside. Running outside, hiking outside, training outside - heck, doing pretty much everything outside. We encourage you to do the same. Feel your run, OUT YOU GO!