Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Baby Steps to Barefoot Running

This is a sponsored post

It's been a week since my last run.

Sunday, I wrote an update of how training is going along so far for #BAM2013 (running 3 consecutive marathons in 2013: Berlin, Amsterdam & Mystery Marathon) in the month of July. 

Writing that blog helped me sort out my mind and made it easier to decide to take a break from running one long distance Sunday run (28th of July: 5K race or a fast 10K) to give myself time to heal and recover from the strain that is causing me pain.

Since I took a break, I have been walking around mostly barefoot around the house.

My left ankle feels better now; the bothersome toe on the right foot still shoots pain at unpredictable moments.

Today, I am going to attempt a slow 8K run. I'm nervous.

The last week, I have been thinking even harder over barefoot running. I am not sure if I should start building up on barefoot running in the middle of a multiple marathon training.  It is something that I am contemplating on and researching further before I make a decision.

After running my last long distance run - 25 K- last Sunday, 21st of July, we went to the beach and I relished once again the freedom of having my bare feet on the sand. Pure relaxation!

14 km lap of my 25K Sunday long distance run Sunday, 21.07.13
Barefoot  at Wijk aan Zee after a 25K run July 2013 - 21.07.13
My first barefoot run ever, a 16K run on the beach. Sunday, 07.07.13

I took a week rest after this run because of muscle pains.
It was an awesome experience, I'm looking forward to repeat (even with muscle pains!).
During and after my rest I felt great, soaring in runner's high.

Although it was awesome to run barefoot on the sand it is a different matter running on the open field.

On the 10 km lap of my 15K run Sunday, 14.07.13
My 13 year old daughter running barefoot for a couple of hundred meters to see if the path further ahead leads back to our village.
It didn't!
She is running back here towards where I was waiting for her.

A moment caught during my 15K run Sunday, 14.07.13

I was attempting to softly approach a butterfly on the fields.
A moment caught during my 15K run Sunday, 14.07.13
by oldest daughter
A moment caught during my 15K run Sunday, 14.07.13 by oldest daughter
A moment caught during my 15K run Sunday, 14.07.13 by oldest daughter.
I had to admit defeat with my first attempt at barefoot running on the fields, and put my running shoes back on again.  It was not as succesful as my attempt to run barefoot on the beach. The sole of my feet kept getting thorns embedded in it. It was a stop and go run, that I gave up on it.

This weekend I once again consulted an article on beginner's guide to barefoot running.  I've previously read a lot of articles about barefoot running after my barefoot run on the beach and so far this one lent a lot more clarity. At the end of the article are a lot more reading sources regarding barefoot running.

This article mentioned barefoot shoes (Vibram Five Fingers), which would seem contracdictory to barefoot running!

After my experience with zigsagging on the beach to avoid broken sea shells and my short but painful encounter with tiny (OUCH!) thorns on the field, I think it makes sense and is not a bad idea to wear "barefoot" shoes while slowly easing  into complete barefoot running.

Womens Bikila Barefoot Shoes - Cotswold Outdoors

I will be reading more on learning to run with Vibram Five Fingers, and try them on for short runs before I finally decide if it will be something I will add permanently to my running gear.

This is a sponsored post

Sunday, July 28, 2013

OUCH! Bad Little Piggy! (#BAM2013 Training Update)

Keep Calm & Nope Lost It...
Google image
Google image

Two weeks ago, during the last 5K of a hot 15K run, I felt a searing pain below the fourth toe of my right foot. I had to stop a couple of times, to remove my shoe and sock and massage it. It was as if  I had a thorn or a needle puncturing the sole of my foot.

On the 10 km lap of my 15K run last Sunday, 14.07.13

I tried to push through the pain but I was also scared of getting injured out of sheer stubborness.

Even though I had a week rest before this 15K long distance Sunday run, the next day, I opted to rest, and begin a new training week fresh instead of playing catch up.

My first barefoot run ever, a 16K run on the beach. Sunday, 07.07.13

I took a week rest after this run because of muscle pains.
It was an awesome experience, I'm looking forward to repeat (even with muscle pains!).
During and after my rest I felt great, soaring in runner's high.

This is the run I felt the shooting pain on the toe of my right foot for the first time.

This was a clever decision because Tuesday and Wednesday, interval and tempo runs respectively, both went well; I did not log in any problems with my right toe.

I have to add, that I switched my shoes (currently have three old pair, I use interchangeably), and I noticed that the pain disappeared with the switch.  But I still have to wait until next month to get the new pair I planned to purchase, which has the stability I need for the upcoming high volume of long distances I am going to run.

During and after my Sunday long distance run of 25 km though, even with the pair of shoes that worked in my Tuesday and Wednesday runs, I kept feeling the shooting pain on the right toe, and had to stop several times again to massage it.

14 km lap of my 25K Sunday long distance run Sunday, 21.07.13

Again, I thought the best thing to do is rest. I did not feel the pain I had warranted a visit to a doctor.

Last Wednesday, although it was late before I finally got around to running, and the pain on my right toe bothered me during my rest days - not a constant pain but as always a shooting, random pain - I ran an 8K.

This time, the pain on my right toe, was accompanied by an ankle pain on my left foot. It made itself noticed in the first 100 meters, and I pushed through the pain until 3 kilometers.  The ankle pain eased up but the toe kept bothering me.

Instead of worrying that I might be sidelined from running, I worried more that I might have to reduce the volume of my long distance running until I feel better!

Man, I am 23 kilometers away from reaching the blue level at Nike+ and there is a 200K challenge this August I would like to participate in. :(

Google image
Then I thought to myself (shaking myself literally  at the same time), "What's wrong with you! What exactly are your priorities?! What is your main goal?"

Even if I reduce the volume of my running during the week, as long as I am on track with my long slow distance running on Sundays, I am (still!) and will be OK with my training.

I always tell those who ask, why I run, that running is what makes me strong, and aids me in focusing on what's most important in my life.

Lately, I discover myself again distracted by other goals, which has nothing to do with my main goal: keep running for a free mind, strong body & happy spirit.*

Although I am aware that I need to be careful, and find out exactly what is causing the pain on the fourth toe of my right foot, I feel this painful sting on my toe is there to give me a lesson.  It serves as reminder for the future, just like Dory with her jellyfish sting in the movie Nemo.

I need to relax (mind, heart, body and spirit!), and enjoy the adventure of training to be strong to finish my multiple marathons**.  The focus should be on how to reach my end goal** while making sure my main goal* are not forgotten. 

These goals powers the motor of my being, that I could be present for my family. They are the reason, I do what I do, and have the passion and drive to do it.

Next week, I'll adjust my training volume/schedule.  If the pain persists, or my anxiety over it further affects my training, I'll consult a podiatrist.

I hope by going back to this post, when the need arises, I will regain focus.  After all, even if my memory is better as Dory, a reminder is always good.

Pain-free reminder!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer 2013: Sports Shirt Off, Sports Bra On!

This is a sponsored post.
This is my Summer 2013 poster!

Hot, hot, hot in Holland!

Yesterday, the Netherlands officially had a nationwide heatwave not experienced since 2006.

We've had temperatures between 25-30 degrees.

It has been so hot that my usual modest self have done what I have not done before.

Nope, I did not literally rip my shirt off. :D Nor someone elses!

But I did shed my own running shirt off, and for the first time in my life: ran with only my bikini top over my running shorts at the beach (16 km!) without being conscious about it.

first barefoot beach run, and first time I ran with a bikini top Summer 2013 07.07.13
Summer 2013  07.07.13
My 13 year old daughter & 1. We ran the first 3 km of my 16 km barefoot beach run.
Summer 2013 07.07.13

The following weekend, instead of running on the beach, I ran my scheduled long distance run in the neighbouring village.

I had my dry fit sports shirt on for the first 5 km of my 15 km run, then I had to take it off. And I felt so much better.

I keep running, running, running Summer 2013 - long distance run  for my multiple marathon training - 14.07.13

My daughter tried to give me an extra moral boost by saying at a certain angle (picture below) I even look like I have abs. :D

It was too hot for me, I shed shame together with my shirt for a refreshing cool 15K run!
Summer 2013 14.07.13

Bless her with her good intentions; it helped me in letting go of my last inhibitions!

It is one thing running on the beach with your bikini top but a different kind of adventure running in the village with a bright pink sports bra.

J, eldest daughter, would like to be called my Running Buddy! She's been awesome in motivating me to run my long distance run in the Summer heat.
Summer 2013 14.07.13

My shirtless/confident with my sports bra running adventure continued during the week when I had to do my interval training, and tempo run.

It was a refreshing run in all sense of the word.

Last Sunday, I ran my longest distance - so far in this year's marathon training - in the woods, accompanied this time by my husband.

Summer 2013 21.07.13
Summer 2013 21.07.13
Last Sunday's long distance run of 26 km - Summer 2013 21.07.13 - I had to go to the woods with my husband because of the sweltering heat

They predict that this weekend the temperature will be between 29 - 30 degrees!

Although I do make an effort to get up early for a run to avoid the heat, I still have not been able to wake up early enough to run before the sunrise.

I am hoping that when the girls are back to school, I have already acquired the habit of running early in the morning.  It simply has to happen during this Summer school break.

In the meantime, it's reward time for me after all that running in the heat! I'm getting myself three new sports bras for consistently running my three long distance run, three consecutive Sundays!

There are so much styles and bright colours - love bright colours! - to choose from. :) I'm happy that by running all those marathons, I  have not only developed a fit body but gained confidence to wear sports clothing I never ever imagined that I will fit and look good in.

NIKE Ladies Pro Printed Bra - ActivInstinct UK

ADIDAS Ladies Techfit Bra - ActivInstinct UK

SHOCK ABSORBER Ladies Active Multi Sports Support Bra - ActivInstinct UK

According to Runner's World - How To Choose a Sport's Bra - "After 30-40 washes most sports bras need replacing. As a rule of thumb you will need three new bras for every one pair of running shoes."

Well, most specially for this Summer training for my multiple marathons, I'm not only grateful for fresh socks but for fresh sports bra for each day if not 2-3 a day! ;)

This is a sponsored post.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding "The Force" to Run

image from Google
As much as there are a LOT  of excuses one could think of (or one legitimately has!) to skip running/training or to finally begin with running, there is a much longer list of  how to motivate yourself to run, and keep yourself motivated.


I won't list down the excuses I feel, I  "legitimately" have every day, nor the excuses that my left brain has nagged me (and keeps on nagging me!).

Excuses, which sadly successfully broke me down in the past until I gave in, resulting to more than a few painful experiences in my races and running.

This would be very counter-productive!

Nope. Not going to give my left brain further satisfaction, than it already has.

Instead, I will share, focus and highlight what keeps me motivated.

Below are my top 5 of how I keep myself motivated on days I feel very low on #LoveRunning positive energy.

I chose to share 5 because it equals the distance (5K) I ran in my first race.  A distance most aspiring would-be runners aim/train for, when they begin with running.

It can be considered a "relatively short" distance but when one is simply beginning (or returning to running after a break), the effort equals running a marathon in one's mind.

Perhaps, I will be sharing more sources of motivation every Friday. For now my top 5, mentioned in no special order. A baby step.

1. Recalling a great memory of a memorable run/race.
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

Many runners experience even after years of running: a struggle to begin.  A feeling as if one is literally in pain (all in the mind though!) while preparing to go out for a run.

This run maybe a "simple run" after a required pause due to injury, or stress in personal life, or a vacation.  Even when prepping for a race, one has trained for, one can struggle to go to run the race.

image from Google
When one has don on one's training/race gear, and is one step out of one's home, a huge step has already been made.

As soon as you are on the move for 5-10 minutes (10 minutes max. Promise!), you will be filled with gladness that you conquered yourself, and broke through the worst barrier you are confronted with: your own voice in your head that seems to constantly say, "Not today!".

Each run you will do, will one day be an accumulation of memories (see No. 3) you can fall back on , when you struggle.

Keeping this scenario in mind should be enough to animate you to run to create (great & unforgettable!) running memories.

YES, today!
This is what I told the voice in my head last June.
You would not see it from the look on my face on this photo but I struggled to go to our village local run - Driedorpenloop 2013 for many reasons.
There were many more great memories from this run ; I'm glad that I did not stay at home.
I ran one of my fastest pace continuously on this day.

2. Rewarding self OR accepting an unexpected reward.

image from Google

This varies for every runner.

I have a long list of ideas for personal rewards for running achievements or for reaching simple running goals.

Today I will share what for me is the most obvious reward, a runner can give herself/himself: a pair of new running shoes!

After a succesful year of continuous running (August 2011 - August 2012 : my first RUNniversary!), I rewarded myself with a new pair of running shoes.

My Nike Lunar Glide, bought September 2012

A few months later (December, 2012), I got a DM (direct message) via my @PaperInEurope Twitter inbox  from @NikeRunning.  They wrote, that they have noticed my runs, and I will be receiving a reward!

As promised, just in time for Spring Running (March, 2013)! I received these beauties:

3. Recording running adventures on different social media channels.

My story on No.2 of this list (just one of many rewarding stories!) will probably show you, when you simply go about your running business, record it, share it  (on your blog, on Facebook, Twitter, instragram, etc),  you will not only have a clear picture of how you are progressing  but in the process receive a pleasant surprise!

Happy Feet in the Netherlands FB page

Surprise gifts are awesome. 

What is more awesome are the great connection with others,
whom you can meet through the various channels of social media. 

These connections are priceless.  These people who share your passion or respect you for your passion, can help you keep motivated if you allow yourself to be open to the connection.

4.  Give as much motivation, if not more as one receive.

A philosopy I learned through life experience. An age old wisdom: giving is better than receiving!

It is not only through the running community, that you can give and receive motivation but in daily life.  This topic deserves a blog in itself because of the magnitude of how it has positively influenced my personal view of life, and lives of many others.

Basically, the more you give positive support (energy) to others, without expectations the more energetic you will feel.

Below are the running pages of social running groups, where I met very good and supportive running friends for life.

Loopmaatjes FB Page
Running Junkies FB Page

5. Follow the running adventures of fellow runners & athletes you respect and admire.

Blogged : In the Presence of an Olympianleft: moi middle: Churandy Martina right: Udjen Lewis
As with No. 4 I need another post to write extensively about how I keep myself motivated by following the running adventures of athletes I admire, and fellow runners I am friends with in real life. 

Or those magnificent (running & non-running souls), whom I've met online and communicate with via their blogs.

In brief: we identify with the struggles and celebrate with the success of those who share our passion.

Knowing we are not alone, that even those who have achieved (world wide)  success in their field (what their passionate above!) struggles and overcome obstacles,  can keep us motivated towards having a positive attitude.  If they can conquer and achieve, so could we!

Whoever you are, wherever you may be, I wish you a great weekend, and leave you with the words of Yoda: May the Force (literally!) be with you (on your weekend training)!