Saturday, May 29, 2010

Barefoot run and Bootcamp at Tufts

I've read a lot about running stride efficiency, running light and easy.  ChiRunning was my "best running book of 2008" and it made sense:  running should feel easy and enjoyable.  Enter the recent trend in exploring barefoot running ...

More recently, I've seen dozens of articles about how barefoot is the best way to learn mid-foot striking.  Apparently most running shoe critics feel that a stacked heel both A. encourages and B. sets up the runner for a heel strike.  This heel-to-toe roll is what most people are "taught" about how to run, but it's not how we first run when barefoot and free.  Kids don't have to learn how to run.  They run naturally with a mid-foot stride until running shoes make the teen/adult runner strike heels and land with more of a back-to-front foot rolling action.  

So, why not return to basic, barefoot running?  The mid-foot stride can be relearned and the glass/rock/surface hazards of pavement can be avoided.  Advocates of barefoot running say that relearning how to run without shoes will make many of us run better, farther, or with less injury.  Who wouldn't want to do that?   Sign me up.

I decided last week to take that curiosity about barefoot running to the Tufts U track surface.  Safer than streets, no glass or rocks, so no pain, right?  Wrong!  Every step felt like running on a sandpaper covered Mars.  I jogged the first lap easy, second lap a little faster, and the third at a regular (to me) running pace.  Getting used to the surface was not easy, but it felt GOOD!  The orange-ish red composite felt very warm, springy, and yet still rough under my feet.  It stung just a little on the push-off from each step to the next, but I thought nothing of it.

Wanting to continue running, but knowing I shouldn't "over do it" on the track, I entered the grassy middle of the track and started doing sprints to mid-field and then running the full length of the field.  These were super-fun!  Each field-dash took about 28 seconds, and felt good again.  After a few of these, I sat and rested my grassy feet by raising them to the sky.  When it seemed that my friend and trainee, Wendy, would arrive any minute, I set out the bootcamp equipment and got ready for her session.

We did have a great workout there in the sun.  The theme of the day was functional strength with lots of body weight drills.  Among the drills:  walking lunges, twist lunge steps, curtsy lunge hop ups, and the evil, horribly difficult walking push-up planks for the full length of the end zone (~80 ft).  Lordy, those were tough and we had to break the push-ups into two sets just to get through them all.  But Wendy was a champ and completed the set!

More workouts like this are coming soon.  I just have to let the blister on my toe heal before trying the barefoot run again.  If you'd like to join us, here's a teaser video for next week's kick-off to June session.  Read about it here in the May Newsletter or below:  

Afternoon BOOTCAMP (May 27 and Thursdays in June)

6-week series starts May 27th, this week — Tufts Track on Thursdays at 3pm.  Perfect for teachers and people with flexible schedules in Somerville, Medford, and Cambridge.  This is small group training at its best —  challenging and highly-personalized fitness training for anyone who is eager to get into top shape.
Pricing for 2, 4, or all 6 weeks of the series is affordable at 2 for $60 , 4 for $100, and all 6 for $120!  Personal training sessions with SunnyDayFitness are normally $60 each, so this is a great deal for a group of 4 or more — join with a friend and you’ll save even more!  

P.S.  Morning bootcamps coming soon...become our Fan on Facebook today for more info.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tuesday's ritual -- Mystic Marauders

5:20am and my phone chimes to wake me.  I strip down and dress into the clothes I'd laid out last night:  swimsuit first, then cycling shorts and top.  I use the bathroom and quickly brush teeth before heading down to bike over to the Wheelworks shop near Davis Sq.  

5:45am and six of my teammates greet me.  All carry their backpack or string-sacks stuff to the brim:  wetsuit, towel, and cap with goggles folded in and secured for the ride.  We head out for a 13-mile ride out of the city and into hills around the golf course at the Winchester Country Club.  

The workout seems to run like clock-work and we arrive at Sandy Beach for our swim.  Yes, it's early still, but the weather is already warming up.  (One friend Beren noted on FB:  I prefer cold - you can always put on another sweater to get warm, but if you're nekkid and still too hot yer outta options. =) ).  That's so true!  And that's why I like to workout early in the summers -- Beat the heat, take a swim.   

I look and see that the swim ropes are up and the beach has been combed by park staff, removing most of the leaves and debris from last fall and recent gully washers.  It's lovely and yet dotted with pollen and living 'stuff' -- green and gooey, alive and kicking (or rather, swimming).  I spot some goose poop (yes, the Canadians are back) and decide to place my flip-flops a few feet farther away at the water's edge.

Then we swim.  Two by two we buddy up and head out for the first buoy.  We get back to the beach about 25 minutes later and start to peel off the wetsuits.  Unlike the photo below, which was taken on a much colder day after a swim in much colder water, today's weather was perfect:  65-70F and bright.  More smiles than shivers!

Following the swim, we gab about summer racing plans and don our gear for the ride home, stuffing the wet wetsuits back into our packs.  It's wonderful to hear how everyone enjoyed the water, felt good on the hills, and keeps learning from the others.  (My friend Dave said that Sierra was giving him training tips on timing his breathing while swimming, and that's exactly why we train together.  We keep each other safe and help each other out, each striving to improve a little each time.  This is why and how training groups work!)  We also keep each other safe through numerous stop lights as we make our way back to Davis Sq, now in the heavy morning traffic.

7:30am and I arrive by bike over to a client's house -- I've been training her for a little over a year.  She knows I'll arrive a little water logged, but she's ready to train hard in her bi-weekly Tues AM session.  So I take her through new back/ab strengthening moves on her Swiss ball, have her try out a few balancing and hip lifting moves on the ball (Knee Tucks and Diver's Pikes) and then get out the resistance bands.  Imagine this move in someone's living room... we did that!  

We did a lot more, too.  From the easy crunches and plank holds to the complex Turkish get-up's, we got through her whole body routine in 55 minutes.  And my work is done for now, it's 9am and I'm back home for breakfast.  Whew!

Here's a tip:  Get your workout done early.  Beat the heat, break a sweat, and then get food.  
Most bodies love to run a little on empty before topping off the tank.  Enjoy the clean burn of an early workout! 

That's my typical Tuesday morning...and it just gets better from there.