Off trail 10K and first peak (858K to go):

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Spring has caught Nuuk and most of the Greenlandic west coast a few month early and the snowboarder in me hates it, then the barefoot runner in me loves it πŸ™‚

Today was another perfect day from the morning, a tough core and shoulder workout, followed by work and the strapping into my VFF Spyridons for the first real off trail test on rock in stead of snow.

The course for the roun would be a mix of roughly 5K mountain, with plenty of bare rock, pebbled sections, sections with jagged outcroppings of rock and plenty of snow patches in between and be rather steep to boot.

My run started uphill from the first step and the next 2,5 steep uphill kilometres threatened to kill me and my feet from quite early on. On road and the terrain I have been running so far, my feet has been taking the transition to a totally soft shoe with no padding very well. but running steep rock inclines in a soft five finger shoe is putting quite a lot of strain on both mid foot muscles, calves and the achilles tendon. this part of the run definitely had several sections of technical running that my barefoot running skills are not quite up for yet. But that said I loved every step of it πŸ™‚

Did the obligatory stop at the peak, calming myself, taking in the view and letting my feet dry. Felt amazing to sit barefooted up there and enjoy the view.

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From the peak I was looking forward to the perhaps funniest part of the run, the downhill run on what was left of the alpine slopes, still covered in thick slushy snow.

That part of my run was pure fun, took a lot of focus, balance and coordination to stay upright at some of the steeper sections, but staying true to good running/sliding style made for a fast and fun section πŸ™‚

Met several Nordic skiers on this section on the route, even friends, all preparing for either the Greenlandic Nationals or the Arctic Circle Race.

Got a few weird looks and exchanged a few friendly words, they were all going uphill after all and on Nordic skies, I am not sure I would have survived that.

From her it was a 5K paved section home.

Mostly it was a 5K Β long survival run, my feet were hammered from the off trail part and i had very little energy to do anything than focus on running, cadence Β and other things seemed about right, but I could tell on the way home that this run would fall in the TMTS category and now as i am typing this I am confident that I will pay for this over in the coming days.

That said I still think it was worth it and I would be tempted to do Β it again πŸ™‚

The spyridons we again an excellent off trail choice. excellent grip on all surfaces and I can now vouch for this mesh feature that take the brunt of the impact from rock cropping and stones/pebbles, It works a treat.

It survived the road section too and very well for a trail shoes, but coming form no shoes or a seeya it is a bit of dull experience on roads.

A parting picture for you all showing a little more of the mixed terrain.

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A perfect spring 10K (868K to go):

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You Know it has been a perfect run when your hands are as dirty as your feet and you are caked into , snow, dirt and mud from toe to hips πŸ™‚

But lets, back up a bit… Mother Nature has for some reason decided to bring spring to Greenland a good month earlier than normal.

Since friday we have had temperatures well above 0C and all my wonderful snow has either rained or melted away. Nuuk now look like it would normally do in May and we are only halfway through March. While that is just not OK from a snowboarding point of view. It did mean that I from a running point of view would be able to sneak back into the pair of running shoes that I enjoy running almost as much as totally barefooted. my VFF seeya πŸ™‚

The sun was out from early morning, but my legs were still quite sore and stiff from yesterdays leg focused gym session. But then again +100 weighted deep squats ( as in butt to heel deep squats), 100 leg curls onΒ  coreball, the usual 100 weighted calf raises and of course my favourite one legged achilles squats (in lack of a better description).

None the less, the sun and warm weather was too much for me, strapped in warmed up a bit and headed out the door and into the warm spring air.

much to my surprise I seemed to hit both running style and pace with ease, everything just seemed to click and I had to remind myself to keep my pace down and focus on running style. I floated through the first five kilometres, with excellent ground feedback and plenty of underfoot sensory impact from the massive amount of pebbles and gravel exposed by the snow melting away, but my feet seemed to almost mould around it (helped my the very thin rubber soles admittedly, nut still…)

On my home bound leg of the run I decided to take advantage of all the rock being exposed and drifted off onto the rocks, slushy snow and dirt quite a bit, amazing to run real rock without the snow and get a taste for what summer has in store for us πŸ™‚

Stats after the run was a 5:00 pace and a 200 SPM cadence. Heart rate was too high though, but I really could not help it, I was enjoying the run way too much πŸ™‚

I am still only in the early beginnings of my full time barefoot running, but style, feel and strength are slowly coming together and the difference from what people like to call a transitional shoe, which I have been running for a good year before Β thisΒ  and a truly minimalist shoe really is night and day. I ma however confident that this is the right choice for me πŸ™‚

 

6,5K of wonderfull deep snow (878K to go):

Well the next 3 days should be with miserable weather why the decision to do a run home from work came very easy.

I suited up in a pair of VFF (the spyridon) and set up.

Already as I took the first steps I knew it would be a tough one today. Legs were dead tired and neither running style nor energy was anywhere to be found. So a tough run home it would be.

The first two kilometres made for plenty of wonderfully deep and soft snow. I spend a lot of time being in snow to well above my knees, making running an additional challenge. Tired legs and lack of energy did all the sudden not matter at all, running snow made me feel like a kid again πŸ™‚

Then followed a few K of paved roads, or paved roads covered in snow and ice, but at least it made for a somewhat easier run on my legs and burning thighs.

I crossed the nordic skiing trail and decided to follow it home. I love the soft groomed nordic skiing trail snow when running, the sensory feedback from running it is nothing short of amazing, not to mention the soft sensation of have snow between your feet πŸ™‚

I survided the last uphill kilometre on pure will, I know my running style was sloppy and that I did not have the energy to care. There is a chance though that my ankles will pay the price for me being sloppy.

I did not really care a lot about statistics on this race. but cadence was an OK’ish 190 SPM, so not bad in its own right. The 5:20 pace was not a total disaster either. so perhaps it was all down to how I felt and not quite as bad as I wanted it to be.

the condition of my ankles tomorrow will tell πŸ™‚

Time for me to concluded this not very motivational Β post.

Thanks for reading

7,5K of gorgeous spring snow (884,5K to go):

W001First night back in Nuuk and a day with perfect weather.Only like -2C, a pure spring blue sky (you know, the kind only found when travelling North) and plenty of soft snow. Add the crisp and super dry air and no wind to speak of and you have a pretty much perfect spring day πŸ™‚

In fact, it seemed like the perfect day to put the pair of VFF Spyridons I have just received through an Initial test run on a variety of mixed conditions:

Todays route was a very simple a 1K downhill approach, 5,5K of Nordic skiing trails, rock, soft snow and pure ice mix, topped off with a 1K uphill progressive run home. meaning lots of technical terrain to test the sole and how it handles a variety of surface, steep up and downhill snow/ice sections etc.

The run itself was amazing, I mean the conditions kind of speak for themselves and I just love running in snow, so not a lot to explain away there. Pace was a little on the slow side, but my legs and thighs in particular were still a bit sore from the more than 100 deep (as in but to heels deep) squats, plus my regular 1 legged squats. Overall I was able to maintain a somewhat decent form though. Admitted some of the downhill sections were probably not super pretty, but I think I did OK. a quick stop at my favourite viewpoint on the way home for the usual picture and a very good 1K uphill progression run to top it off with.

Cadence was a bit on the low side for me, only a 185 SPM average, but I am sure that my tired legs are part of the explanation as the run otherwise seemed OK, both from a running style and health point of view.

What I really feel I need right now is getting some outside help tuning my running style. There are something that is not perfect, But self coach is not really optimal, even though running fully barefoot is a great way to spot mistakes. Hopefully I will succeed getting a time with one soon.

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The Vibram Five finger Spyridon:

Now as far as fit and feel goes, they are based on a soft KSO like upper of some coconut material. It is not quite the perfect soft fit of the seeya and not the annoying and super padded heelcup found on the bikila LS, but overall it seems to strike a good balance between stability, durability and minimalism. The sole is threaded with heavy duty MTB tyre like lugs and some kind of mesh thing underneath to distribute impact from rocks, pebble or hard ice. So first impressions are good. The colourway is a bit bland though. I am one of those loving the colourway of the dayglow seeya. I mean, running is supposed to be fun and five fingers look funny already, so give us some bold colours to spice it up a little πŸ™‚

Now how did the feel then?

Well on pavement and the ice/pebble covered parts of it, it felt like a lot more shoe than say a KSO or seeya, It still retained a surprisingly large amount of ground feel, but it seems diffused or softened up. on smooth surface you will even be able to feel the lugs, but not badly so. but this shoe was not meant as a pavement surfer anyway. grip was overall very good, but even the KSO did well on surfaces like this, so hardly a surprise.

As soon as I hit the snow, ice and rocks the shoe really started showing its true nature, perfect grip on nearly all surfaces and angles, the excellent, but oddly diffused ground feel (probably due to this mesh thingy) really is efficient especially for sharp rocky sections or sections where ice had formed sharp ripples. Only place where I had a bit of an issue was on a steep icy downhill section where I really needed to focus on keping center of gravity perfectly aligned, but then again I would probably have needed a pair of microspikes to handle that section.

The last uphill kilometre was a progression run and the added protection meant that I could focus a little more on running style and speed towards the end than normally.

My only gripe right now is kind of self induced. I normally never tight my VFFs too much, but I had the right shoe a little too lose and developed a hotspot where the strap-lug near the arch of my food sits, but nothing serious.

So overall I think the Spyridon is an excellent winter trail shoes, I usually combine my VFF’s with a light INOV8 debris gaiter to keep my ankle joints warm and add a little extra snow protection, if anything my worry is that this shoes will prove a little on the warm side for a summer run. But a very nice shoe overall and definitely a shoe I am looking forward to put through some hard trails as the snow clears. I might even attempt a winter peak run if I can find a partner in crime for it πŸ™‚

Ohh and if anyone wonder why i run with a blueseventy triathlon race chip band all the time, then it is because I use it for my cadence sensor, kind of the only way to wear it when running truly barefoot and it keeps the sensor a little less exposed to snow when required too.

An 8K barefoot run in London (892K to go):

W005I really had to do a daytrip to London to get some pressing meetings completed and spend last night walking a lot of the very familiar streets of central London.

An upside to all of this was that i this morning would have time to sneak in an early run and I decided to use the nearby Hyde Park / Kensington Gardens as my primary route. so a quick dash down Oxford street, around the park and back to the hotel.

Bein slightly worried about the glass and if there would be gravel, I decided to start out in my favourite seeyas.

But just a few kilometres into the run I striped off the shoes and allowed my bare feet to get in touch with the ground.

Route was a mix of flagstones, Paved trails/roads (of mixed quality), cobblestones, gravel and a combination of these.

Some were perfect, the flagstones and a lot of the paved stuff was amazingly smooth to run- Some of the gravel sections were a mess though and particular the gravel/cobblestone mix were quite challenging, as were some of the paved sections as it had a very rough surface and I am not yet light enough on my feet to run it.

The run itself was an 8K, 5:24 pace, 200 SPM average run, so all in all very good. 3 things was very clear to me after the run though.

  1. I need to work a lot on my running style and while it may seem odd then running completely barefoot is the easiest way to work with it, as I have instant feedback from the soles on my feet. Even a minimal pair of five fingers like the seeyas robs enough ground feel that I am pushing it too hard, I will need to work much hard on my self discipline.
  2. Cadence is faster barefooted, thus I need to increase my cadence, shorten my stride a bit and focus on posture, when wearing minimalist shoes, much more so than when running truly barefoot.
  3. Running truly barefeet is so addictive, when you hit those perfect strides where you just “float”. It just feels right πŸ™‚

But again, it would have been too good to be true if my style turned out to be perfect this early on and It will be interesting to work out some of these “challenges” along the way

I am now back in Copenhagen and if my legs can manage, I will be doing a short run again tomorrow πŸ™‚

A spring 5K and 100K status (900K to go):

W001Copenhagen have had some AMAZING weather today.

Warm and sunny, with only a touch of wind and that just became too much for me. When readying for my friday 5K, I looked outside, looked at my VFF seeyas, looked outside again and decide to go completely barefoot πŸ™‚

There is just something to being able to feel the minute changes in structure from running on different kinds of pavement, whether the flagstones are smooth or rough and the totally smooth surface of the cobbled sections (I just love running barefoot on cobbled streets :)).

The ability to really feel every twig and pebble under your feet. the difference in temperature between shaded and sunny sections.

Ohh not to forget the fact that you really are near silent when running barefoot. Gentle warnings takes away the scare factor when passing people form behind of it though

The weird look on other peoples faces and odd comments from them, takes a little getting used to though. But I guess running barefoot begs for comments like “he must be stupid”, which was one of the more pleasant comments from today πŸ™‚

Okay I could have been without the sensation of running on the occasional patch of road salted pavement (that sh*t hurts to run on), but still… πŸ™‚

5K is about the limit of what I can run completely barefoot without hurting my feet. The ground is cold still and my running style is still very dependant on the sensory feedback from my soles, so running any longer completely barefoot will require more work on my running style.

Pace was a very leisurely and comfy 5:40 average and cadence a perfect 190 SPM average. One of the upsides to running completely barefoot is that any technical deficiencies in my running style is almost auto corrected (the sensory feedback from anything but ideal running style is merciless) and it just feels so amazingly free and effortless to run completely barefoot and as mentioned in my last run report I had gotten a bit sloppy in style. Well today things felt absolutely right again.

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Now getting back in I had a good look at my feet and yes I know they are not pretty in the picture, what really stand out is old blister though.

I knew I had two smallish blisters forming (not visible in the picture) from not sidestepping a pebble, I misjudged the size a bit, but that aside no harm at all. Yes the skin on the ball of my feet feels like it has been hammered and will likely stay sore for a day or two. They did need a good wash and rub down afterwords though πŸ™‚

Running on road salted roads is a dangerous game though. Road salt can really mess up the skin on your feet fast, so be careful if running barefoot during winter in areas where road salt is used.

The 100K evaluation:

With the run today I have passed the first 100K as a full time barefoot style runner, 4Β½ weeks have passed in that period and today’s run was a hard reminder of that running completely barefoot on a regular basis is important for me and for me to continue my development of a good running style.

My five fingers will remain a very valuable training and running tool, especially for my trail and off trail runs, not to mention my running in Greenland for another couple of months. But even something as minimal as the seeya includes an increased risk of not paying enough attention to my running style or falling into the TMTS trap.

My strength in my feet and calves are slowly building, but I really have to be careful not to fall into the TMTS trap. I think I am very prone to that. Because there is quite a long way back to the days where a 40K week is lazy running week.

That said there is no going back to running in the large heavy and unwieldy running shoes for me, this barefoot style running and the true barefoot bit in particular are highly addictive and I am so hooked:)