7.7 miles on the treadmill today, middle 6.0 at 7:07 average pace (6:46 incline adjusted). Feeling better than yesterday, in my Frees, actually looking forward to the sixth mile during the fifth to hammer it a bit (6:29). The shin's a little worse for wear, icing as I write. Before I started, a young guy next to me, cruising at 8+ mph, 5+ miles, casually asked me how I liked my shoes, said he wanted to try them out — I said 'No way dude, I'm using them', not really, I told him I loved 'em etc. I get so many comments on these, especially the orange ones - anyway, it was kind of like I was in a commercial.
For me, the Frees are great, I've been running in them once or twice a week since last summer, treadmill and outside. I think they've helped to strengthen my feet and lower legs (I don't know for sure as there's no accessible version of me who hasn't been doing this — no control!). It really is similar to barefoot running (which just isn't practical very often); you just naturally (after some initial acclimation) land softer and more midfoot.
Actually, when I first ran in them, my natural inclination was to land totally forefoot, springy, but expended too much energy, wasn't pronating/relaxing enough. Then I gradually found that I could indeed achieve that moment of relaxation on each step, when the foot pronates, relaxes, and becomes for a brief instant a loose bag of bones, by landing midfoot. It was almost a leap of faith, I'd initially been landing forefoot as protection mechanism against the jolt I sensed I get if I landed like I did with shoes. But if you just trust your body, it'll figure out the right thing to do.
I was lucky enough to meet and visit with an Olympic champion — Venuste Niyongabo of Burundi, 5000 meter gold medalist, 1996 Atlanta Olympics — when I was in Oregon last summer for Hood to Coast. Really sweet guy. Anyway, he thought that training in Frees could be very beneficial (as well as barefoot training), but also warned to be careful, not to overdo it (he does work for Nike, btw). This is a pretty good Free review. Of course, the barefoot running community does not approve; well I'm sure if you're a seasoned barefoot runner, Frees must feel like real clodhoppers, but for most of the rest of us, I think they function as designed.
In my travels today, I came across some interesting/sundry marathon stats, and a Maffetone Low Heart Rate Training FAQ — I wonder if there's real merit in this, I don't think I could do it, I'd have to train at a heart rate of 140. I did try a MAF run a while back, couldn't stick to it for even one run! I ended up with 4 miles, 7:33 average pace, 145 average HR — running slower than 7:35 hardly even feels likes running to me (yeah, let's hear you say that in mile 20 of a marathon). Anyway, I just don't seem to have the discipline/patience right now to do this, maybe my loss.
Being a bit of a geek, this book, The Bug, looks like it might be interesting, don't know how it escaped my attention, here's a review. A novel by Ellen Ullman, a former computer programmer, and set within that culture, it's actually about, what else, a bug! Sections of the book are said to delve into The C Programming Language (a classic), that could be going a bit too far, but perhaps kind of like how Melville explores cetology in Moby Dick. Maybe I'll check it out.