Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Barefootin (and quick steppin)

My last weekend of soccer related activities is OVA!  I do have one more match coming up this Sunday, but for the most part, I’m about to be inundated with free time.  Yes.  Teh Bug is glad, as am I.  Sunday morning found me standing in the dark outside the stadium at Kell High School.  There were buses and teams in the parking lot, but nobody inside the stadium.  Given that the teams were from out of state, they weren’t quite sure how to get in.  The lights weren’t on or anything.  To make matters worse, the field wasn’t even set up.  Not good for a very important tournament.

In short order, I ended up with four teams inside the stadium.  I knew there were soccer fields in the back (two to be precise), so I hopped in my car and drove back there to confirm the field was set up and ready to go.  There was another lone referee back there, but the field was indeed lined and properly marked.  After getting the teams situated, we commenced to footballing.  Of course, on my field, we had to delay 15 minutes for more daylight, as no one was there to turn on the frickin lights.

All in all, it was a good day of soccer, if a little dry.  In the three games in which I participated, only one goal was scored.  The high light of my day was when the coach of a highly ranked team from California told me that my match was “the best he’d had in years”.  The crew did a fine job.

I had to run by the headquarters at the Embassy Suites before heading off to my adult match at 3 PM.  I managed to nab some lunch.  When I showed up at the field, I noticed the crew was short.  I ended up running the line for half a D-1 match before my own D-3 center.  I guess you could say I got my running in on Sunday.

Monday, I could feel it too.  I try not to hobble.  The best way to recover sore muscles is to put them through a normal range of motion, but Tuesday, I wasn’t feeling very “normal”.  Still, I felt compelled to go run and run I did.  Since it was raining, I opted to go to the gym and hit up the treadmill.  My normal “easy” run is 4 miles now, and this time, I remembered to bring my Vibrams.

To begin with, I warmed up for 4-5 minutes before settling into a 6.5 mph pace.  After 1.5 miles, I put the treadmill on its lowest setting, changed into my Vibrams, then hopped back on again and revved the engine.  I ran another mile before switching back to my trusty K-swiss.  Running a mile was probably a bit risky, but I managed OK, and my legs were ready to be done!

One of the things I noticed during this exercise caught my attention.  While running at 6.5 mph in my K-swiss, I was maintaining about 89 steps per minute with one foot.  When I switched to my Vibrams, I was running 95 steps per minute at 6.2 mph.

There is some insight here…  Let me explain.

A lot of people who injure themselves running, find salvation when they switch to minimalist shoes.  I think too much credit is given to this “natural method”, when in reality, it is a change in form, required by barefoot running that is the cure.  If you haven’t tried to run barefoot, give it a go, even if its just for a couple of hundred yards.  You will quickly learn a couple of things.  Running on your heels hurts, and to lessen the impact, you need short quick strides.  Both of these things are conducive to developing a mid-foot strike.  Even if you don’t plan to switch entirely to running barefoot, once a week will help strengthen your muscles and improve your form.

With that in mind, I have decided that I am going to run this years Guns and Hoses 5K in my Vibrams, and maybe the Georgia Half Marathon as well.  I say maybe because I don’t know if I’ll be ready to run a half marathon in Vibrams by March.  Since I’ll be pacing Dee Dee, it should be OK.

Happy hump day, y’all!



Michelle said...

Totally agree on the change in form, Wes. I still haven't tried minimalist shoes, but I know without a doubt that focusing on changing my form from long, plodding, heel-striking strikes to short, quick strides is one of the main reasons I've been able to avoid any recurrence of my dreaded shin injury. And I firmly believe it's made me faster, too. When I'm tiring on a long run, I can feel my form suffering and my stride lengthening, and it feels so inefficient (and just plain wrong). Glad your last soccer weekend went well - enjoy the return of free time!!!

Lisa said...

I don't know about running a half marathon in them.

I think the heel pain that I was experiencing was due to wearing minimalist shoes (merrells) all over. Not even running , just walking.

If you can do it, good on ya though!

Kevin said...

I've decided to run more in my VFFs this year. I seem to have less issues in my knees and hips when I run in them.

I think you are right that there's nothing magical about the shoes themselves other then they force you to relearn to run with proper form. I definitely notice an increased cadence with no spike in HR.

Carolina John said...

yea it certainly changes your form going vibram, and for the better. I've been preaching that form for a while now, it is really easy on the joints.

Jess said...

My bro is a complete barefoot evangelist and he's slowly starting to make sense ot me about the very same things you speak of. Perhaps one day, I will give it a go...

I don't know; at this point, I've heckled the barefooters an awful lot to join them!

LBTEPA said...

isn't that ineresting! Happy hump dayto you too mate :)

Stef said...

I've done nothing more than read about minimalist shoes but what you're saying here based on your experience makes a ton of sense.

I'll be curious to know how it is building up to a possible half marathon in them.

Joe said...

Always, always enjoy your soccer stories, Wes. I was watching Manchester United vs Wolves on Saturday morning and chuckling if you and I couldn't do that sometime!!! Dreamin', just dreamin'!!

The issue with changing form is valid and I think your point here is really profound, Wes. Reffing changes form; trail running changes form; minimialist shoes change form. All of the above, in reason, helps develop more muscles, more strength, more endurance.

Plus, we know the meaning of "touchline".....

Colleen said...

YAHOO for being done with soccer for a while. What are you going to do with all of your free time???

I think you are smart for doing both shoes... I'm sure it'll do your body some good to have the change! Interesting findings though about your # of steps!

Stuart said...

Not sure about the Vibrams but totally agree with the form and forefoot...have fun with it though!