I work in the classical music business and enjoy running along the streets and parks of Copenhagen, Denmark. Being a Norwegian, I’m even more happy when I find some real forest to run in, as illustrated to the left.
The blog is called “Flat Soles” because I run in so-called minimal running shoes. If you are wondering what that is: They’re just durable, light sneakers. They have less cushioning and support compared to a typical running shoe. For reference see the header of this blog. It’s my rendition of an Adidas “Marathon” shoe from ca 1939. The idea is that the foot works best when running barefoot, and the less shoe you wear the better.
My ambition is simply to enjoy running. If it’s not fun and effortless it’s not worth doing! It’s a hobby after all. This blog is my training log with a few thoughts along the way. My professional site is at tyrmi.com.
Just another typical runner’s history
I used to love running when I was 12-15. We mostly ran trail in our PE-lessons, so I don’t know what my best times really were, but I remember finishing a 10k trail race in hilly terrain in 45 minutes, well ahead of the rest of the school, and that I won the 2.5k lap almost every time. Most importantly it was easy and fun. My race tactic was to take the lead from the beginning and then increase speed at at the end, and it must have worked, because I rarely saw any competitors. I probably should have started training with a team, but it just never occurred to me. It was always a recreational thing for me, the feeling of running alone in the woods for an hour or two. I ran in basketball shoes with punctured air soles, flat indoor handball shoes, normal running shoes and, for shorter distances, barefoot. Then, at 15 I started studying music, and other parts of my life became more important.
My running history starts again in 2005, when I started putting on weight, and I wanted to get fit again. I decided to run or swim every day, bought a par of super cushioned, “high heeled” Asics, and started pounding the paths around Søerne, Copenhagen. First day I ran 3km in 20 minutes, but I was improving rapidly. My running spree came to a quick halt three weeks later when my knee started complaining, I figured I probably had what is commonly called jumper’s knee. So I gave up. I had (seriously) no idea that weight gain was not just a natural part of getting older. A lot of guys gain weight in their late twenties, and I thought that was just how nature made us. I don’t think that anymore. What I learned later from this experience is to be a bit more careful. It’s better to lose some weight before starting a running regime. Training alone is not going to make you thin. And also: Running every day is not for everyone, and especially not every overweight beginner.
Then in April 2011, I had lost 13kg (by eating vegetables instead of white bread and candy), and I had been swimming three times a week for a couple of years. I wanted to run again. I didn’t want to hit my head into the same wall as last time, so I sat down and did a web search for “running technique”. I found this video:
And the simplicity of it, the promise of pain free running, and just how easy, straight forward and natural it looked just spoke to me. It also contradicted what I had learned in PE, landing on the heel to avoid stressing your calves, so naturally I was intrigued. I started running Rocky style, in an old pair of Converse, shortening my strides and landing on the forefoot. It worked right from the start. My calves were sore, but I could run faster and further than before, and just weeks later I could run 10km in 57 minutes, almost without breaking a sweat. Something about the faster steps made me less tired over distance. I felt like I had uncovered a secret trick that allowed me to run forever, and three months later I ran a half marathon in exactly 2 hours.
Of course I got way to eager, and I remember very well the first injury I got. It was the day after I decided to start running twice a day. When stretching after a run I felt a sharp burning sensation in my Achilles tendon, which was the start of several months of reduced mileage, and periods of not running much. I knew I should ease into it, but still I got carried away. From then on, until about October 2012, I had all kinds of cramps and weird aches. At one point I hit my fifth metatarsal on a rock and couldn’t run for weeks. I’ve had a strain in the arch of my right foot, Achilles tendinitis on both sides, a very weird pain in my ankles. But thankfully, I haven’t had the same injury twice. In October I was finally fit enough to join the free training at Marathonsport, and that marked my transition from eccentric barefoot guy, to just another runner. It was nice to blend in with the crowd, and not think about foot strike or injuries.
So now, about two and a half year after transitioning to minimalist shoes, I have finally hit my stride. I have started to train to be able to run a bit further and faster, and my long runs are up to 21km now.
The great thing about minimalist running is that you can decide how hard you want your heels to land, and hence soften the blow according to surface, shoes and speed. That also means you can run in almost any shoe, as long as it doesn’t have too much arch support, pronation control and such technology.
So that’s the story of how I started running forefoot first. Hope this can be of inspiration to new “forefoot runners”. I had never imagined it would take several years to transition to minimal shoes, but then again I had to start from scratch, as I was a major couch potato.