Friday, 9 November 2012

Back in my running shoes

-= Starting up again =-

It's been a while. Not being able to run after having run these past six and a half years is painful. Not only did I physically miss the feeling of running outside and feeling each pebble in the road, I get cramps that increase in intensity with longer periods of inactivity.

After the painful half-marathon of some time ago, I have been in and out of the physiotherapist's office and had to force myself to not run. Two weeks ago, I got into my (new) Vibram FiveFingers Bikila's and went out for a very cautious 1.4K. The past week, I did three iterations of 2.5K and that felt So Good. There was no pain during or after the runs and now my main challenge is to not go for a 10K the day after tomorrow, but to gradually build up the number of K's I do.

-= Footwear =-

While my ego was recovering from my leg-injury, my good friend visited the US and brought back a pair of Bikila's and a pair of black KSO Treks. I will use the Treks to wear casually. Wearing them to work is still one step too far from my comfort-zone. I do wear them regularly on my days off.

I discovered that these two pairs brought the total number of FiveFingers I own to four. The Missus has one pair of Fresca's and the your Padawan cannot wait to get a pair on his feet (he will almost fit in a size 29). Or rather, I cannot wait to buy him a pair.

-= City Trip =-
Two weeks from now, The Missus and I will board a plane and go to London. We make it a habit to go there at least once each year. There is no particular reason why we keep returning to that city, other than drinking coffee in our favorite coffee-shops and eating in our favorite restaurants. We go there to be there.

Another reason for my having to be there, is to visit a conference. From Monday to Friday, I will be in a conference-room listening to all sorts of serious topics and discussions, while The Missus will be visiting places such as the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

Naturally, I will bring my Bikila's on this trip, just in case I find a possibility to go for a run. Additionally, I will bring my KSO Treks to wear casually. I am seriously curious about the furtive looks people on the Underground will give my shoes. The people I will meet during my conference will not be shocked too much by the shoes, because I found that there is a growing popularity of toe-shoes among geeks.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Au... That Hurt!

A week ago, the Missus, the young padawan and I went to the venue of my half marathon. After picking up my bib and the shirt, we went to the starting line.

After getting a final High-Five from the littleone, I went on my way for my 21K run. The start was a little faster than I had planned. Still, despite my extremely poor preparation, I kept pace with the rest of the runners without a problem.

After a very comfortable start, I began to feel my old lower-left-leg injury about six or seven K into the run. After nine K things began to become heavy. My energy level was fine and I probably would have been able to stick to my sub-2-hour pace, were it not for the increasing pain in my leg. Eleven K into my run, the pain began to become too much and I knew that I would not be able complete the run. On K twelve, I knew I had to stop running because the pain had become too much and after thirteen K's I finally swallowed my pride and did stop.

I called the Missus to come and pick me up. Because my muscles were still warm, I could still use my left leg a tiny bit - though the short walk to our meeting-point was extremely painful. After a shower I sat down for a cup of green tea and I was unable to stand from that point onwards.

Getting up for work on Monday morning was impossible and each step I took was SO painful. Picking up the Padawan on my bicycle became a very dangerous and almost impossible mission. Now, a little over a week later, I am able to walk again (though some of the pain is still there). My physiotherapist told me that a week of ice, heat-packs and tape might enable me to go for a careful short run within a week or two.

It's been a week since my run and I am missing the activity. Still, I realize that the main thing is to get this injury solved before I get to start to run again.

Though the pain in my leg is real, the pain to my not-too-modest ego, was hurt the more because about fifteen people gave money to the good cause because of my run. Naturally I do realize that the money was given to the cause, I just feel that I should have finished the run to match the gifts of those generous people.

The pain to the leg will be gone soon enough. I will probably need a whole lot of running and retail therapy to repair the damage to my ego.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Pain is for Pussies

... And boy, am I a pussy. Braggingly, I announced my plans to do a half marathon for a good cause. Not long after the announcement, somewhere in June, I got a mild injury on the outside of my lower left leg. As injuries and pain are for pussies, I decided to ignore the pain and was full of confidence that the minor issue would disappear long before my upcoming half.

Heh, little did I know that pulling an ostrich does not make the injury disappear. Try as I might, I kept feeling the annoying sting in my left leg. During the past two weeks, I began to get a bit worried and used ice on my leg every night. There was some improvement last week but I decided to put an end to that by doing the second half of an 8.4k run in my higher speed. This resulted in a another week of misery.

Meanwhile, the count-down to my upcoming half is down to 6.5 days. The limited time to the run, the pain in the outside of my lower left leg, the very limited number of runs I did in the previous two weeks and the fact that I have not done a 21k run this year promises to make things ... uhm... interesting. As I promised a number of people to do the run - they were even good enough to spend money on the cause - I simply cannot throw in the towel. After the run - if my foot hasn't broken off from my leg - when I am confined to the couch until I can walk again, I will let you know about how things have gone.

-= Breakfast =-

The missus has been following a particular blog for some time (the one that inspired me to write I Run). The lady that writes the blog mentioned something about a new uber-breakfast, called overnight porridge. Doing some Googling, I found many pages on how to prepare it and ways to make it palatable.

In other places in the web, I found tips for making it even more healthy, by adding the magical ingredient of Chia seeds. To quote the Huffington Post:

Extremely high in the essential fatty acid, omega-3, chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants (more than blueberries), vitamins, minerals (including more calcium than milk), fiber (more than most bran products) and protein. Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run, the true story of the astoundingly fit and healthy Tarahumara barefoot runners in Mexico, (who take off on 50-100-mile running jaunts as if they were evening strolls) likened the nutritional value of chia to making a 'smoothie of wild salmon, spinach and human growth hormones.'

 The recipe  boils down to the following:

* Take one cup of rolled oats

* Mix this with one cup of yoghurt
* Add three table-spoons of milk
* Add seeds and dried fruits to flavour
* Mix and put in the fridge until the following morning.

Should my run end in disaster, I am looking to the innate goodness of my new-found (and very tasty) breakfast!

Saturday, 4 August 2012


It's not going to be a habit, but I have strayed from my comfort-zone for the second time in two months. The first time, I decided to forget my hate of asking others for anything in order to do a run for a good cause (see here). Previous week, I decided to buy an Android phone (possibly giving up a part of your privacy is not a very easy thing  for a paranoid person).

In an attempt to get to know the platform and some of the available apps, I found one that I think is too cool to be true. In the corner of the running apps, I found one that combined running with Augmented Reality. It's called Zombies, Run!. The idea is that your phone tells you where to go to escape from the zombies that are trying to catch you. You are sent to collect - medic packs, foods, etc - items placed on waypoints. After your run, you get to build your facilities with the stuff you collected.

Though the price is steep at approximately $8, it is something novel and utterly cool for the average running tech-geek.

For more info, check out the youtube clip below:

Saturday, 28 July 2012

It's a three-patch problem

The first year, I ran in my fivefingers, I did so without socks. This hurt, especially on 15k+ runs. It also caused all sorts of problems, from painful calluses to blisters that refused to heal before my next run. After about a year, I came to the conclusion that it wasn't that my feet needed toughening up. A layer of fabric will always help in reducing the friction between shoes and skin. After I had finally bought a pair of toe-socks - which helped a great deal - I still got calluses on the sides of my feet during longer runs. Yet another year later, I decided to try and find some Engo patches.

It's taken some time - and a long and rocky path, including a de-tour to Australia - but my Engo patches have arrived. Engo patches help to reduce friction between the inside of a shoe and the feet. What you do is you stick them into the inside of the shoe and the smooth upper layer takes away any friction between the foot and the fabric inside of the shoe.

I applied patches to the insides of both shoes (the outside of the ball of my foot) and on the outside of my left shoe (the wear to the shoe tends to cause blisters). Though I have done only three or four runs with the patches in my shoes, the difference is clear from the beginning. Anyone that has any sort of issues with blistering, hot-spots or calluses should give these a try:

In the words of Sherlock (the recent BBC incarnation), my blisters issue was a three-patch problem.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I run

In a previous post, I mentioned to do a little piece on my reasons for running and some for running semi-barefoot. This post is inspired by one of the blogs The Missus reads daily. In one of her posts, the author of the blog sums up her reasons for running and I liked the idea enough to borrow it from her.

I run for my health
I run for fun
I run because it makes me feel like a tough cookie
I run because I never could
I run because it gives me energy
I run because it gives me peace of mind
I run because it makes my heart stronger
I run for my father's heart
I run to inspire the young Padawan
I run because -relatively- very few people can
I run because it gives me energy
I run because I need to use my energy
I run because I want to get home to my loved ones fast
I run to be aware
I run to feel my body
I run because it makes be feel good
I run at ridiculous times
I run ridiculous distances
I run because I hear SO MANY lame-ass excuses why others do not
I run because it is a very useful skill to have
I run because it may save my life one day
I run because I love stats
I run because I feel cool doing it
I run because it forces me to get out of the house
I run because I can
I run to take my mind off things
I run to explore
I run on the road
I run on gravel
I run abroad
I run to collect GPS tracks all over the world
I run to boldly go where (thousands of) others have gone before me

I run barefoot
I run barefoot to feel the earth
I run barefoot to be aware
I run barefoot because it feels good
I run barefoot because it gives me stability
I run barefoot because it makes my legs stronger
I run barefoot because it makes my feet stronger
I run barefoot because I have always been a mid-foot runner 
I run barefoot because -relatively- few people do so
I run barefoot for the sheer fun of it
I run barefoot to be independent
I run barefoot to always be able to run
I run barefoot because I like the Vibram Five Fingers slogan
I run barefoot to not need running shoes

I run in barefoot shoes because I am too big a pussy to run completely barefoot
I run in barefoot shoes because I am easily grossed out
I run in barefoot shoes because I am too geeky to deny their coolness
I run in barefoot shoes because too much padding makes my feet hurt
I run in barefoot shoes because I hate wobbly soles under my feet
I run in barefoot shoes because people don't understand

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Switching to barefoot

When I bought my first pair of Vibram FiveFingers, the Missus had to suspend her embarrassment somewhat to join me in the Run and Become shop in London. Because I could not wait to test them, I went for a couple of breakfast-runs to the Pret store close to our apartment at that time, wearing my black-and-orange KSO's. Those were my first steps in barefoot-type shoes. Before buying these shoes, I had been figuring out the dos and dont's of barefoot-style running and I knew that going cold-turkey would only result in serious and long-term injury.

Like many runners, I am serious about keeping track of my runs and I find much pleasure in keeping my records up-to-date (on my smart-phone for portable reference, in Garmin Training Center on my home PC for storage purposes, in Garmin Connect for reference on the go and sharing with running friends and in my paper calendar just for fun). Still, I will not bore you with the details of the switch from my heavily padded and seriously heavy Asics Kayano 15 to my FiveFingers. What I liked about the transition is that it more or less forced me to do strange stuff such as bring my clunky Kayano's in a bag and switch shoes after increasing distances. I loved to finally be able to leave my regular shoes at home and to slowly start re-building my distances wearing only my FiveFingers.

Switching to FiveFingers was a process of discovery and watching many, many YouTube movies on form, stride, landing, distance and protection while running barefoot. Long before I bought my first pair of FiveFingers, I had been reading up on the subject for two years. In this time, I also hoped to strengthen my own reason for taking the plunge by boring others to pieces with stories of how I would love to try it.
Among the most useful resources were the pointers given in the VibramFivefingers Training Schedule (click here: and the video on the three golden rules of minimalist (and any other type running for that matter) running by Lee Saxby (see below, source:

No purchase is done without at least six months of planning and research (or is that just insecure old me?). I read up on the various models of VFF's on many sites. Justin Owings maintains the Birthdayshoes blog and does very elaborate reviews of all types of minimalist footwear. His work proves to be a great help with each purchase of the type. Additionally, he posts a great number of stories by and about users and their experiences with the different types of shoes. Should you be playing with the idea of getting some minimalist footwear (or are just curious), go visit his blog.

Now, several years later, owning three pairs of Vibram FiveFingers and three pairs of other minimalist shoes, I am beginning to get the feeling that barefoot or minimalist running has become mainstream. Even the Missus has become the proud owner of a pair of Fresca's. Yet, this feeling might be because of the news-sites and twitter-feeds I follow.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Bernard Baruch

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Running for a Cause

About six years ago I started to run for many, many reasons (but most importantly for my health). I will do a separate post on my reasons later. Over the years I have run mostly for myself. I have done only a very modest number of races (three 10K's, one 10 Miles and two half marathons). My reason is that no matter how much fun a run might be, it always takes up too much time. A 10k race will take a day rather than an hour, while a 10K run at home will take an hour and a half, including changing and stretching before and a shower after the run.

Still, since I started to run, I have wanted to run for a good cause. While checking how to sign up for a local half marathon in the beginning of September, I discovered the possibility to run the race for a good cause. As the cause is one that people that are close to me have benefited of quite a bit (research into heart-disease), I decided to take the leap and see if I can raise some money for this research.

I signed up for the run today and expect to receive the money-raising kit before the weekend. Let's just see if we can get people to pay for my run.

The course of the race promises to be interesting. The start and finish will be in a not too large village. A large part of the middle piece is along one of the Schiphol runways and through cropland and meadows. Though this will be the eight's installment of the run, I have no idea how many participants there will be.

Preparation-wise, things are going well. This evening, I did run 2 of week 8 of my half marathon training. Because of my new I-Have-No-Shame-And-I-Love-It playlist on my musicplayer, I simply had to extend my fast run and do 8.2K rather than 6K. This night's run taught me a thing or two about myself (especially about my music-preferences) that I am not particularly proud of. The songs that give me most energy during a fast run are songs by British back to the seventies/eighties punk bands. I even found any bit of fatigue or pain disappear at the end of my run when I heard the opening tunes of "Run to The Hills" by ehrm... yes, ehrm... Iron Maiden. (but in the words of the most modern of my favorite singers: SO WHAT!)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

1100 K's in my Vibram Fivefingers Speed

Yesterday's run was Hot, Too Hot for a person living where I live who is not used to any sort of heat. Still, I went (because I could) and completed training 2 of week 7 of my 12-week Half Marathon schedule (more on this later).

With completing this training, I have run 1100 K in my Vibram Fivefingers. I did the 1100 K's in about a year and a half. (This is very disappointing compared to previous years, but I have a number of Excellent excuses lined up for every one who asks me how my running has been going.)

I have run approximately 1100 K's in regular running shoes earlier, and I have had to replace these because - besides the regular wear - the soles had lost their bounce and I could distinctly feel the effects of this in my knees. As there is no bounce in my current shoes, I do not need to throw them out for that reason.

Still 1100 K's in any pair of shoes will leave signs of wear. The wear in my Speeds is visible on the soles (these became Very thin in several places) and several places on the upper part. I noticed various holes on the sides when I put them on without my socks (you won't notice a hole in black shoes when there is a layer of black fabric behind them). The insole of the shoes have a hole in them on the outside of the left shoe. This is probably caused by something strange in the way I place my left foot (likely caused by a rather painful hernia that affected my left leg and immobilized me for three months several years ago).

Using a layer of liquid rubber, I was able to repair the worst thin-spots on the soles. I am planning to use Engo Patches to fix the damage to the inside of the shoes (especially the left side of the left shoe). These are difficult to come by and I HOPE to receive my order by the beginning of next week.

Obviously, the damage to the upper part of the shoes is more difficult to repair - I won't be able to. Despite these war-wounds, I am planning to keep running in them for at least five more months. I expect to then have run approximately 1700 K's in them, including three half marathons and (if all goes well) one 10 miles run. They have some more work to do before I will send them off to the eternal running grounds.

Naturally, I will keep you posted.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Fathersday 2012

-= Breakfast =-
This morning I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee, baked beans, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. The Missus and the young Padawan had spent at least 30 minutes in the kitchen to prepare a Champion's breakfast for me. This breakfast was a small reminder of the time when the Missus and I were just the two of us and would lavishly go about traveling through Europe. Whenever available, I would always take the British cooked breakfast - and yes, there was 30Kg's more of me then than there is now.

For presents, the young Padawan had bought me a kite (a larger one than the one I keep stealing from him). Flying a kite with the little one has been a dream since long before he was born. Despite the fact that he is distracted by everything around him (he is two), I am loving every second of it. The Missus gave me a gift coupon for a lunch for two and I look forward to the time together. No doubt the Padawan will have the time of his life during a sleep-over with his nieces and nephew.

-= Windy run =-
(Some time) After my rich breakfast, I went  for a run. My half marathon schedule required me to do an 80 minute relaxed run. Though wind-force 5 caused the run to be not so relaxed, it was good to do a longer run again. I did the first training of week 7 in my HM schedule (just over half-way) and the runs are getting longer again.

Running in toe-shoes that provide little to no protection to the soles of my feet, I am training my feet to toughen up a bit. During the Amsterdam half-marathon in 2011, my feet had taken quite a beating. I was used to running the distance, but my pace during the race was considerably higher than during my training runs. This resulted in my feet being tender - to the degree of a nice juicy steak - for at least a week. So far, things are looking promising. Though my feet were painful after the 8.5k interval of two days ago, today's 14k run was no problem and I feel completely recovered just hours later.

To my regret, the wind died just after my run, so we could not get the kite to take off (we did try naturally). I will take pics of the next kite-flying expedition we will be going on.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Running abroad

Our camping trip

The Missus, the young Padawan and myself just returned from a trip to France. As a different geographic location is never an excuse to not run, I brought my shoes with me for the trip. We were somewhere in the middle of the country for about a week and I only got in one run - for all sorts of excellent reasons. Quite unlike my native country, France is hilly and despite the relative shortness of my run there it was HEAVY.

Still, the scenery of the run was great. I ran through a tiny village (Alvignac), down towards the next village and up a tiny lane starting a steep ascend towards a Chateau d'Eau (yes, water-towers are usually built on the highest point in the area...). After having passed the Chateau d'Eau, it was a relaxed half hour more-or-less down-hill run back towards the camp-site where we were staying. Though my half-marathon schedule prescribed a very easy 40 minute run, this turned into a 50+ minute (8.6 k) hill-training.

Away from home

Being away from my regular running-haunts can be both very good and very bad. Some years ago, I needed to be in London several times in a short-is period of time. I stayed in a hotel with only a dimly-lit park in the vicinity and did not dare to encounter the regulars of the area. The treadmill - the only alternative if I wanted to do any sort of running - in the hotel was either facing a mirror (charming) or facing the floor-to-ceiling windows (which against the dark of night turn into a mirror - also charming).

Treadmills are evil.

The same city offers a Great variety of excellent running grounds in daylight. At one particular visit, I got into my running shoes at six in the morning and did a lovely 10 k through Hyde Park (Fartleking my way from squirrel to park bench). During the same stay, I was invited by the staff of a local running shop to join them and their regular Wednesday night running group for a run.

About a year ago, I was in Las Vegas, where the average day temperature is twice the value I am used to. Fortunately, at six in the morning, the temp is only 30 degrees Celsius. I left my hotel and went for a 7 k run where the distance I ran was determined by the half-way mark of my water bottle. (Forgive the crappy results of my BlackBerry GPS receiver. I forgot to bring my Forerunner).

What I specifically remember of a couple of runs I did in various cities villages in Norway were the extremely hazardous circumstances that were created by the lack of decent foot or cycling paths. I did some six or seven runs during my stay there and do not care to remember the trouble we went to to find locations that did not involve (mostly local) cars doing 1.5 times the speed-limit of 60 k/h.


Yet, no matter the challenge, I always bring my running gear on whatever (private or work-related) trip I go on. It's fun to collect Garmin Connect entries from across the globe (if you remember to bring the Forerunner). The fact that my VFF can be reduced to the size of half of one of my former running shoes definitely helps in deciding whether or not to see what the running conditions will be.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


It's been a while since I blogged on Paranoid and Running. In fact, the blog has been away for some time. I deleted the posts that were once there and decided to do away with the blog. Still, some weeks ago I noticed that I missed blogging and thought... What the Heck.

I will be writing on running, coffee, city trips and miscellaneous topics. I wrote a lot of (mainly boring) stuff in the previous iteration of Paranoid and Running. This stuff will not be rehashed and republished. Though I am a literature-geek, I will not blog on anything literature here. Check my other blog ( for anything literature-related. Very infrequent posts there. Additionally, I am focused on being barefoot. Though I do not go to work barefoot, I am barefoot or in minimalist shoes most of the time in my own time. As such I am interested in minimalist footwear.

What's new then?
In the time I was away from blogging, I moved away from regular running shoes and switched to minimalist shoes (I chose Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) as my poison). After the first steps of my first barefoot run I decided to never return to regular running shoes. It took me about 6 to 9 months before I was fully used to running in barefoot shoes. In the mean time, I did my first half marathon in them (October 2011) and am planning to do my second HM in them in the beginning of September this year. My third half will possibly be the Amsterdam half for the third time (second in VFF).