Slipper Located and Acquired

Last Thursday, post 20 minute nap after a long work-day , I made my way down the stairs and out into the advancing twilight of evening for a quick run.  I strapped down the velcro tab on my Vibram KSO, picked up my toes and took off!  Half a mile later, I stopped at my local REI.  I decided to make my shoe purchase errand a short run.  (Really short).  But after half an hour of conversation with a very helpful sales associate, I didn’t even know which shoe I wanted to try on my foot.  I decided to run home, the long way (a two-mile run still didn’t seem like much), and try another day.  I was pleased to see that I kept a rather swift pace up, this late in the evening, arriving home to see sub 8’10” average pace.

Saturday finally rolled around and my day was stacked with activities.  The morning run, a trip to the farmer’s market, go find a spiralizer (to make spiral zucchini “noodles” for a wheat and grain-free pasta dish.  I found Helen’s Spiral Slicer on sale at Kitchen Kaboodle), and do various other home-keeping tasks.  I had no time to get new shoes.  Therefore, after a wholesome breakfast of gluten-free granola, coconut milk, a banana, some frozen blackberries, and a cup of coffee (and time for the meal to settle), I once again strapped on the KSO’s and went for my morning run.  I ran my favorite loop, down around the waterfront.  It was such a beautiful day!

 

The cooler morning air, bright sunshine, swimming geese, and multitude of other runners kept me motivated and moving at a quick clip.  When I finished my route, hit the “End Workout” button on my Nike+ App, I was rewarded with the female voice letting me know I had completed four miles at an average pace of 8’15″/mile.  I cut 45 seconds per mile off my run wearing the KSO’s rather than a traditional tennis shoe.

That did it.  SOLD.

My next shoe will be a Vibram toe-shoe.  I am now a believer.  Evidence points to the fact that I move faster, and with more ease, wearing these shoes than any other conventional running shoe I have tried.  I decided to look into the shoes with some extra tread for the probability of rain soon to come, and the option of trail running and sparing my soles the pain they would otherwise endure on the small rocks and tree toes that are scattered across most of our trails.

Tonight, I went back to REI (they have quite an array of minimalist shoes), told the sales associate exactly what I was looking for, tried three different pairs, and came home with one. They have a little more room than the previous pair.  Admittedly, I went up a size. It was brought to my attention that I have been wearing one size, or possibly two sizes, too small in this shoe. With the intention of committing to longer runs, and possibly wearing wool toe-socks this winter to keep my feet warm, the extra space provided is rather logical.  We always go up a size for running shoes anyway, why not with a minimalist toe-shoe?  When I first purchased the Vibram KSO I was directed that it should really fit the foot snugly.  I now understand this instruction makes sense if you are boating, or possibly rock climbing, in these shoes, as the close fit will assist you.  But be advised, if you’re going to use your Vibrams to run, the feet swell, and buying a size up as you would for traditional running shoe purchases is smart. Your feet will thank you later.

Tomorrow morning, my new shoes and I are going to get acquainted.  I’ll let you know how the run goes, and whether the shoes pass muster!

Happy running!

I am a Runner

After two days of rest to prevent injury after possibly over-doing it, I decided I was ready to run again.  Last Saturday, I enthusiastically and joyfully went running in my barefoot shoe of choice, the Vibram KSO, and may have stressed my calves out a wee bit.  But this morning, it was a delightfully cool near 60 degrees and I decided I would go out for a run, and really go for speed.  For this, I wore a shoe with some sole.  🙂

For me, going for a morning run has always meant waking up 15 minutes before heading out the door.  I’ll drink some water, get dressed, grab my phone and keys, shoe-up, and head out the front door of my apartment complex at a steady jog.  Recently, I experienced some Achilles pain, and while lamenting my woes to a fellow (more experienced) runner, I was advised to allow my legs a warm-up.  Walk for five minutes, then start to run.  Since implementing this practice over my last two outings, and I have noticed a huge difference!  My legs do not get that tight, unhappy feeling when I first start out on the pavement.  This five-minute warm-up is now a part of the daily run routine.

Needless to say, when my five minutes of walking were up, I felt good.  I spontaneously decided to run a different route, and that I would run the first mile (which later became 10 minutes rather than a mile) as fast as I could, comfortably.  Pushing a little, but still breathing regularly and not needing to stop to recoup.  After the first half mile, I came to an intersection that was more congested with locals heading out to their jobs in their cars, and as I was slowing to stop for a car to cross in front of me, the driver kindly waved me across.  As he continued on his way, he rolled down his window and proclaimed “Nice stride!”  A broad smile crossed my face, and I turned to wave, hollering back, “Thank you!”

There is nothing so encouraging as having a stranger offer up a positive comment while running.  During this first leg of my run, I was concentrating on my gait: keeping my turnover quick, and stride shorter because I know this keeps my pace at a nice clip.  Before I encountered this gentleman, I had actually been pondering running, as we are like to do while practicing the sport, and noticing that I felt different.  I felt my legs moving in a way that until that moment, I had only observed seasoned runners with lean legs and an unfailing stride demonstrate.  I suddenly realized I felt like a runner.  During this revelation, a passerby noticed, and affirmed that what I felt was truly visible.

I have been running off and on for about thirteen years, and something has finally shifted within me to be able to claim “runner” for myself.  I am willing to push myself to the point of some discomfort, whereas in years past, I would only jog if it was easy; not daring to push myself past that invisible wall, afraid of encountering potential pain.  Perhaps, after a year of some pretty extreme ups and downs, and moments of leaps in personal growth, I am finally able to bear pain due to moderate stress because it no longer causes anxiety; I am finally comfortable breaching that line which leads to the unfamiliar.  I am, of course, still conscientious of the fact that there are limits to the body, and I will not knowingly do something that I think will hurt me (and make me unable to run for an extended period of time).

I am simply willing to test my limits and be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  I want to work on improving my mile pace, my stride, increasing turnover, and to continue really feeling like a runner.

Because I am.

Barefoot running: Vibram KSO

Day 11 – Half 22

I can’t believe I’ve already completed 11 days of running every day.  And I have kept my promise to myself, rain or shine, getting out and getting those two miles underfoot.  The distance seems pretty meager to my mind, as it has been trained to endure 4, 6, 8 mile runs as normal training lengths.  But the constancy… that is what has me spinning!

For most of my adult life, I have not been able to commit.  Yes, period.  I can’t commit to a workout routine, my favorite color (yes, I don’t know), a hairstyle, a favorite food, an apartment to live in (my friends and family are laughing right now…), or to my own passion and desires.  Now, here I am, committing, to myself, to a short (and starting to feel effective) workout plan.  No one else to report to but me, … and it’s working!

I am also preparing to commit time, effort, hard work, perseverance, and my whole heart and mind to pursuing my dreams.  Who would have thought?  One and the other, in the same year, the same month!

Fascinating, that after years of being static, my life is changing.  All due to my own choices.

It is incredible, the sense of accomplishment; knowing I can take credit for these awe-inspiring (small – but significant!) leaps I have taken.  No push from behind, just one foot in front of the other…

And if I just keep plodding along, I will prevail!

Preparation

As I near the start of my first big journey as an adult, I find myself allotting more time for me.  I am allowing time in the morning to practice at least 15 minutes of yoga to help my back feel better.  I am noticing my aches and where I need to stretch and regain motion after the accidents of last year, and I think that with this practice, I can slowly recuperate of my pre-car accident flexibility a little more each day.

I am taking vitamins to boost my immune system, which I have been neglecting.

I am making lists and checking off tasks as I achieve each one.  I am more methodical about managing my time, and this directly affects how successful I feel at the end of the day.

I unconsciously started giving myself time to sit in bed, relax and read, or catch up on email (and relieve stress or the worry of needing to respond at a later date) at the end of each day.  And what I am noticing is a lack of constant noise and chatter in my head, a sense of ease, and, above all, feeling happy.

Reflecting on these things brings a smile to my face, and causes me to laugh.  At myself.

In preparation to leave my normal daily life of work and constancy, I have started prioritizing and living in a more meaningful way for myself. 

My question is this: why do I need to take a big trip – a vacation – in order to finally make myself a priority in my own life?  For me, this trip to Ireland is the greatest gift I have ever given myself, and perhaps leaving the country (and other various recent events which definitely contribute to this re-evaluation) is the jump-start I needed to put me first and live as I want to live – pursuing and supporting people and places and activities I hold important.

Wow.  Finally!  I can claim what I want for me.

And it only took 30 years to get here.
One starts to wonder what the next 30 years will bring to light…

Evening Quiet

As I ready myself for sleep tonight, I have decided to leave my curtains open.

Yes, I live in the city, and my neighbors may, possibly, see me sleeping.

But I like the light of the city to brighten the room.  I delight in daylight brightening my walls to a golden glow and waking me more naturally than any alarm ever will.  Therefore, I choose light over convention.  Call me a rebel, but from this day forth, I choose to do what pleases me, and do the things to which I commit my words and time.  Because these choices and acts are what make life worth living.

So do as you please:
Go for a run.  See that movie before it is out of the theatre.  Go to the beach for the day. Plan the trip and take it because you never know when you may not be able to run or go to a movie, walk in the sand or get on a plane.

I have learned that doing what you enjoy is important.  It is the reason we are here and how we learn about ourselves.  It is how we define our purpose, making us happy beings.

So, tonight, open your curtains and stare at the stars before you drift off.  Even the small pleasures which bring us joy stand to be counted and applied; they are a part of what makes it worthwhile to be here, living the human experience.

Never enough…

…minutes to sip on your morning coffee before work.

…time in the day to accomplish everything you thought you wanted to do.

…hours in the day to get to know a new friend.

…days in the week to work, eat, sleep, and play.

Plenty enough…

…laughs in a lifetime to share with all you know.

…smiles to cheer the frowns away.

…hugs to clear the blues away.

…kisses to make the boo-boos all better.

…love to bring comfort and joy.

Laugh a little louder today.  Bring some happy to the world.