10 amazing kilometres, after a week in heavy boots (848K to go):

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There is a lot to be said about todays 10K and the events leading up to it.

Easter was spend wearing heavy duty snowboard boots way out in the Greenlandic Mountains, Heliboarding it is called.

Essentially it involves being carried by helicopter to a peak and then snowboarding down steep offpiste terrain πŸ™‚

It has been amazing to be back out there and to be able to enjoy the challenging snowboarding. Snowboarding is another passion of mine and being off piste and carried to peaks and runs otherwise inaccessible is an experience I will carry with me forever. I mean, how often do you find yourself strapping into your board (or skies) with mountains, glaciers and inland ice in one direction and the deep fiords and ocean in the other.

I have not been running while there though. the decision to conserve every bit of energy to recover between runs and during the evenings came easy. My feet and legs were in no shape to do anything but rest after the long days on the board, but to kick off the boots and walk around barefooted in the evening was amazing, just as it became clear to me how much stronger my feet and lower legs have become from the barefoot running style.

Arriving back in Nuuk today was both a bit of a downer, but also a welcome chance to start recovering and slowly comprehend the sensory overload from the trip. first thing I did though was to sneak my bare feet into my seeyas and Β go for a nice run in the late afternoon sun.

And I felt fast right from the get go. I felt the urge to just run fast and see what my barefoot skills could handle, the seeyas are amazing for that, just enough sole to make pebbles and others smallish stuff a non issue.

At between 7 and 8K I paid the price though and had to slow down to keep my technique nice and clean, but overall I was easily back under my 5 minute average and with a natural cadence of 198 SPM.

So overall a very very good run and a reminder of how amazing the feel of running nearly barefoot is πŸ™‚

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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.

7,5K of Ice, snow and pavement (987,5K to go)

Today’s run took place in Nuuk, Greenland. Temperature still a leisurely -5C or so, but today’s run would be on primarily hard ice and snow, with patches of pavement and all of it covered in fine pebbles (1-5 mm in diameter) in anything from a dense layer to just a few pebbles here and there. In other words, not exactly barefoot friendly and would I later learn quite painful. of much the same reason I climbed in to a pair of well worn Fivefinger KSO’s and decided on a very well known 7,5K route.

The first few hundre meters were still very cold, but having a few mm of vibram rubber between me and the road made all the difference to me and I quickly warmed up.

The stinging pain under the arch of my foot returned at around 2K again, reminding me that I was pushing too hard with my toes and not focusing enough on lifting my feets off the ground. and on the angle of my foot when catching my steps. Forcing myself to focus again made the pain go away and actually made for a very pleasant run.

Only downside today was the pebbles, for the most part it seem my foot were able to swallow most of the pebbles without any pain, but the last K home my feet were too tired and after the shower I noticed to black bruises one on each of my big toes.

I think A pair of slightly more padded fivefingers like the Speed is probably a better fit for this kind of surface

Pulse was way higher than usual even though pace was slower than usual for such a short distance. Cadence was slightly higher than when wearing shoes too, about 190 on today’s run and with a little bigger spread than last time thanks to the steep hills.

Running barefoot still feels like a total different experience and I am hooked like never before πŸ™‚

Just have to work on not scaring the sh*t out of people when passing them. apparently you do not really make any sound at all when running barefoot, so people do not really notice that you are there until you pass by them. I had an unusually high number of surprised pedestrians today, but it is something to be aware of.