Born to run?

Detail from the book cover

Just finished this one, and it was a surprising read.It’s sort of two books in one: It’s a beat-inspired novel about ultrarunners, (very Kerouak) and an article about injury-free running, baked into one book. I expected it to be less of a narrative and more of a report, but I enjoyed it a lot. The book is chuck full of myths, facts and stories, and inspired me to get out on the trails.

Christopher McDougall’s thesis is basically that running without shoes, or in very light shoes, contrary to common belief, is healthier than running in padded running shoes. There is a lot of hype around this book, and I can understand why. It’s a very entertaining read, and his arguments are strong.

The book is setting a trend. Last year I had never heard of Five fingers or minimal running shoes, this fall they seem to be everywhere. They’re even making a movie of this book starring Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m not kidding.


Minimus Zero

MInimus Zero Trail

A preview of the NB Minimus Zero Trail

It seems New Balance are launching a zero-drop Minimus next year. It will be called Minumus Zero and there is some information at the NB website. Pictured above is the trail shoe. I’m hoping to try out both the road- and trail version. Though they are true zero-drop shoes, they have thicker soles than my EVOs. I’m thinking it might be nice for a longer race.

Running Easy

Kastellet, Copenhagen

This is where the running happens. What a great place!

Just came back from a nice, easy 7 km run. My new Vivobarefoots are amazing at keeping me on the forefoot! My game plan is to stick to the forefoot like glue but not overdo it in terms of speed and mileage. Hopefully this will make my lower legs rock solid.

It did not feel fun to run as slow as I did today, but I focus on my 100% success in keeping good form, back straight, stride short and light. From my race experience, it seems my cardio-vascular system (i.e. heart and lungs) is in a lot better shape than my legs. So I focus on my form, and building strength in my feet, quads and ankles.

Good Form Running

There are so many good resources out there on technique, but this is the one that got me started. While I absolutely love the look of NB Minimus Road, the holes in the sole are a dealbreaker for me. I run almost exclusively on gravel and dirt, so I can’t have soles that collect pebbles. The video is great anyway.

I might try the Minimus R for a roadrace in the future.

Where did the fanny pack go?

Illustration by BGM Illustrations

Traditional fanny pack.

Back in 1990 I was sporting a fanny pack, listening to Snap, and generally being a very hip ten year old boy. Then the fanny pack disappeared. Only homeless people would be seen wearing one. When it came back around it was more or less as a practical joke. People would wear it as an edgy fashion accessory, most likely empty.

I want to bring a minimal water bottle, a cellphone, biscuits, and my keys for my run, all strapped around my waist, preferably locked as tight as possible. Sometimes I even want to bring my camera. All they offer at my running shop are belts with specialized compartments for energy gels (I’ll never eat that) and water bottles big enough for a double marathon, and a compartment with room for one key. I realize running with a camera is a weird thing to do, but am I really the only one?

In my humble opinion, the fanny pack is due for a comeback. Maybe not as a fashion item, but at least on the trail.


I see the pool from this angle.

I went for a short swim in the pool today. For me the best cross-training is swimming. I also swim laps under water which builds a lot of lactose acid in my muscles. I feel like it must have some benefit for long distance running, but mostly I do it for fun.

Running with the ladies.

I sometimes join my girlfriend and all the pregnant and elderly ladies for an Aerobics session in the park. I feel completely un-manly, but basically it’s a great warm-up for a run. I still need a lot more strength in my quads and ankles, so any bouncy and jumpy activity is a stepping stone to a better half marathon.

Also, while jumping around to old dance hits in the park, it strikes me that one of the reasons women live longer than men may be because they excercise. A lot. Most men either excel at sports or watch sports from their sofa. I think somewhere in that middle ground you find a lot of healthy women who excercise just about the right amount. And they keep at it for longer. At least for me, it has taken some psychological strength to run slower than before. I used to be able to run 3 to 5 km and then I was completely dead. Now I regularly run more than 10 km and when I’m done I feel like I could have continued. I even want to. I don’t strive to be the fastest, but to enjoy the ride.

All in all, I regard women as my real competitors in a race. The way they run light inspires me. How they can outrun me using half the power.


Vivobarefoot EVO

Just did my second 5km run in the EVOs and they feel very much like my old flat H&M sneakers in terms of keeping me on the forefoot. They are lighter and have a lot better grip though. Landing hard on the heel feels very unnatural when wearing these. My plan is to get my quads in shape for another half-marathon in the beginning of November, and beat my 2 hour PB, which I figure I should be able to do.

I ran a half marathon a couple of weeks ago, and I completely lost power in my legs after 15km. Around the 11th km I caught up with the 01:45-guys, but then my legs just turned to gel. A bit annoying, since I felt fine otherwise. I hadn’t really done a practice-run longer than 13km so I guess I got what I paid for. Still I was pleased just to finish, it being my first race and all.

VivoBarefoot Evo

EVO II - Flat as a pancake!

EVO - Flat as a pancake!

Just got these babies yesterday! I got to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill in my local shop. I tried some different models, and these where the most comfortable ones. I have a flat right foot, so I overpronate a great deal. I also tried a few other models: The Nike Lunaracers were nice but too narrow for my feet, and the Brooks Green Silence made me overpronate more for some reason. As soon as i put the Vivobarefoot on I cranked the treadmill up to 15km/h, which is fast for me, so I take that as a good sign. The plan is to use these frequently in my training, and hopefully their complete flatness will improve my technique also with padded shoes.

EDIT: After a few months of use I am very pleased with the shoes. There’s no way to heelstrike in them, even if you try. These first generation* Evo’s are extremely breathable. Actually the wind blows right through them. It’s definitely a summer shoe, despite looking warm and black. I use it as a road shoe. The soles traction is excellent for light trails too, but both the sole and the upper are very pliable, so if you kick a root or step on a hard stone, you might as well have been barefoot. Ouch. Of course water also runs right through the mesh.

The later model “Neo” is also a good shoe, slightly more comfortable, but also heavier and warmer. More suited for colder weather or trails I’d say . Both shoes are pretty minimal as running shoes go.

(*Second generation, the Evo II has a tighter mesh.)

Forefoot running?

Sneakers by H&M

I used to run a lot as a teenager, but I was 10 kilos lighter then. When I started running again six years ago, I simply had to stop, my knees were killing me.

In 2010 I started swimming four times a week and I got bitten by the adrenaline rush I guess. I had the urge to run again, more than I’d felt in 15 years. I took up so-called “forefoot running” in spring 2011. Because of my old knee problem I googled “running technique” and one of the first posts to come up was a Youtube video of some guy in flat shoes with separate toes, and the usual ridiculous comment discussion. But at least I learned there were several schools of running, not just “left-right repeat”. I found some useful stuff on other blogs and soon I was pounding gravel in my local park wearing flat shoes from H&M. Lo and behold! No knee pain.

My lap times also improved considerably, plus I had a sudden urge to run farther. After two weeks of forefoot running could run 10 km in less than 50 minutes. My old PB from when I was 14 is 45 minutes!

Running was never this much fun.