About loosing count and the 1000K update that disappeared

Day break, during Singapore approach

Day break, during Singapore approach

It has been ages since my last update, so long in fact that most have probably come to the point where you have been wondering whether there would ever be another update.

The truth is that real life, winter, traveling like never before, running and a whole host of other things trapped me made me loose count and really think hard about my blogging in general.

Powder heaven @ Isola 2000, France

Powder heaven @ Isola 2000, France

But such a massive amount of travel also have meant a massive amount of opportunities to connect to new countries and cultures with my bare soles.

Not long after my return to Copenhagen from the USA, I found myself doing first a quick day trip to the Swedish Capital Stockholm, then a quick morning run in Copenhagen, before I had to pack up the big bags and head for France and first a couple of days of work around Nice, including a couple of rather brisk morning barefoot sessions, before initiating what turned out to be a very long and very slippery drive from Nice to Isola 2000 and 3 days of amazing powder heaven on my snowboard. Not quite the high arctic powder we get in Greenland, but the sheer amount of snow easily made up for it. It was great to have 3 full days of solitude, just me and the board.

Christianshavn, Denmark

Christianshavn, Denmark

Following France was a short lay over in Copenhagen and a gorgeous run through the cobbled streets of Christianshavn, cobble stones really do make for a very unique barefoot experience or minimalistic experience even.

I have come to really enjoy running all kinds of surfaces over the last year, it really is quite amazing how much shod runners miss out on, I think. they in turn probably think i have missed that boat called shoes, making everything alright πŸ™‚

Coming home to Greenland and to running the familiar trials and heavily snow and ice covered roads were pure bliss. I took up running again while living here and there is just such a deep connection between running and Greenland for me. i enjoy running all over the world, but Greenland is where running feels natural and amazing.

I did not have long though before the next journey would come up, I would be exchanging my wonderful desolate arctic winter home with something completely different.

Singapore skyline

Singapore skyline

The difference upon arrival in Singapore was mind bogglingΒ  12 hours time difference and -15C was exchanged with 31C and the air went from crisp and dry arctic winter to humid tropical spring.

Some would likely have found the drastic change unbearable, but I really do have a big heart for both and the nearly daily morning barefoot runs around the Marina by the bay area before sunrise was absolutely amazing, not long runs, only 5-6K, but the hot climate made it a true pleasure to go from full winter clothes to bare feet, shorts and a light tech tee. These morning runs will be with me for a long time πŸ™‚

Singapore also meant a hello to massive food courts, top flight Asian food and that excellent service south east Asia is famous for. Sure enough we did put in long work hours, but the half an hour before sunrise spend running, the excellent food and the genuinely amazing service made for a wonderful stay.

Hotel Lichtburg, Berlin

Hotel Lichtburg, Berlin

From Singapore we pretty much continued straight on to the German Capital Berlin.

And what a drastic change, the morning runs in perfect conditions, were trade for something a touch on the dull side of 10C and misty, semi rainy weather. and the that letter perfect accommodation turned into what can barely have been a 2 star hotel, with sloppy cleaning and poor location.

Berlin though was still a gorgeous experience and it remain an amazing city in my book, but from a running point of view, Singapore remain the clear favourite of the two though:)

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Barefoot sled dogs – Ilulissat, Greenland

From Berlin I traveled more or less straight to Ilulissat and in addition to some very chilly morning runs with temperatures just below -20C. I had the great pleasure to be back dog-sledding again too.

Nothing short of amazing it was to work with these, loyal, tough and hardworking animals and their drivers.

Ilulissat is another one of those destinations in Greenland that are able to turn arctic winter into an absolute paradise.My Copenhagen back yard

My Copenhagen back yard

A happy finisher :)

A happy finisher πŸ™‚

From Greenland my journey took me to my favourite Danish back yard, making the final preparations for the IAAF Half marathon World championships in Copenhagen. my first official half Marathon distance completely barefooted and as part of the biggest run ever organised in Copenhagen.

Preparations were great and my last run showed good progress in terms of running intensity. I have not been doing race preparations for this one and since it is still very early in the season, my feet are still a little winter soft, so it would in many ways be a bit of a challenge.

Weather on the race day was perfect and I arrived a bit early and just enjoyed tumbling around the start area, relaxing and topping up my hydration, while enjoying the varied and different pre race routines at display.

Finisher feet :)

Finisher feet πŸ™‚

To my surprise I saw no other barefooters in the lineup, managed to spot a few minimalists, but I was really surprised to find myself and a Norwegian barefooter from BRS being the two only barefooters attending.

I followed my normal training game plan for the run, which means a very steady 5:25ish for the first 18K and then open up to 4:40-4:30 the last stretch home.

I was a bit worried how my feet would handle the home stretch, but it turned out to be a perfect running day in all aspects, my own performance too.

I crossed the line in 1:54, far from my shod PR, but it was definitely a new BR for 2013/2014 so far, Simply a perfect running day and the joy of sharing it with 30.000 other people from all over the world definitely added a lot to the BR experience.

Save for some really black feet and somewhat tender soles the next day there has been absolutely no problems, not even the tiniest indication of a blister.

I am now back in my own amazing backyard – my Greenlandic running paradise and first run was a gorgeous 10K run taking in the pristine spring snow conditions Greenland is so famous for in Spring.

Do stay tuned for that elusive 1000K running form update πŸ™‚

Spring in Nuuk, Greenland

Spring in Nuuk, Greenland

Arctic winter running – on shoes (219K to go)

Winter running in Nuuk, Greenland

Winter running in Nuuk, Greenland

Now before I get to the actual shoes that I prefer and a few alternatives I highly recommend, then I want to add a few words about how I approach my choice of shoes. reading my previous post may shed some additional light on the subject.

Winter where I live dictates snow, ice and very little actual pavement available, it also dictates very cold temeperatures. Even been running up a steep icy hill, run it without spikes and it will teach you a lot about efficient running form. ever run through 20cm during your entire run, well you quads will come home burning in a very different way.

What I try to say is that I do not run winter like summer, but see it a bit like a different sport.

My favourite trio - seeya, spyridon and el-x

My favourite trio – seeya, spyridon and el-x

The sharp reader will notice it is exactly the same shoes I run during summer and therein lies the truth for me. Winter running does not require a special kind of footwear in general.

The el-x is my go to winter boot for casual wear, I wear it down to -25C without socks, when I go shopping, to from work, when going for a walk, had it not been for the tight upper and the slightly narrow sole profile I would be running them too. The sole itself is near perfect, very grippy on all surfaces and still soft, flexible and light.

The seeya is an excellent running shoe for anything from road to light trail work, true for summer and winter alike. it is not the most grippy, but since I am running for the experience and use the slightly poorer traction to optimise my technique it is a great shoe even in slippery conditions.

The Spyridon is the shoe for when the going gets tough. hard technical trails in summer, nordic skiing trails and snowmobile trails during winter. it is a shoe that will take anything you throw at it smiling. it has the advantage that it is roomy enough to take a thin smartwool toesock, thus making it good for as cold as you would want to run. add a inov8 debris gaiter and it will be good well into knee deep snow.

Now I do not say that the approach some take with big sturdy, spiked, thermo lined, goretex protected shoes is wrong. I used to like it a few years ago, as it essentially would make me plough through winter as if it did not exist. truth is that I have just come to value feeling my environment while running and that comes at the price of speed during winter.

“But are you not freezing wearing so thin shoes during winter?” is a very common question and the reply is simple one. I have found that by nearly not wearing shoes the feet start heating from within. barefoot is probably on the frostbite risky side of things, but if it was not for the crushed rock the spray all over the place to buy people some traction on ice and snow I would likely be experimenting more with this barefoot thing during winter too πŸ™‚

If I were to run a closed toebox shoe during winter, then I would likely look towards vivobarefoot evo lite, or breatho trail, perhaps even the merrell trailglove 2 as it has a wonderful fit, it is however not exactly a durable shoe and Merrell so far has decided not to respond to my emails on the subject.

If you are in the need of a little foam or more of a real shoe minimalist thing, then the Sketchers gobionic trail is an excellent shoe, with a very very nice sole design and good traction on all surfaces. I own a pair and I really like both the fit and the feel of them, even if they are too padded for my taste.

So that concludes the shoe side of things, now get out there and run πŸ™‚

Arctic off trail – why I love to run (438K to go):

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Why I love to run

It really is that simple, the picture above really spells out why I love to run and why off trail running in Greenland is an experience everybody trail (or road) runner should allow themselves at least once.

But I am getting a head of myself here, first run after my vacation in the Netherlands was actually a gorgeous 12K single trail on the gypsy trails just outside Copenhagen, arranged by a local runner and a great introduction to a very nice trail area hidden in plain sight πŸ™‚

It was also the first test run of the Merrell trail glove 2, but I will get back to the shoe towards the end of this post.

Trail? what trail?

Trail? what trail?

The 18K off trail:

Pretty much the minute Β I arrived back home in Nuuk snow started poring down and that in the city it self. Why on this Saturday in mid September we woke up to a landscape covered in bright white snow, and with more falling from the thick dark clouds.

I checked the weather and it promised better conditions around noon, a quick text exchange with another local off trail runner sealed a deal about a run to the lowest of the local peaks at 12.

Going up - serpentine  style

Going up – serpentine style

We set out on the first relatively flat and not too technical 5K to where the mountain really start to rise. conditions are normally easy off trail, but when everything is covered in anywhere from 10-20 cm of snow it is a whole different ballgame. you only see snow and have no clue whether it is pebbles, bigger rocks, a hole or a rock face that can be plain contoured or sloping below, Even better it is often a combination of it all.

From here we started uphill and the off trail grew from not too technical to 5K rather technical and quite strenuous uphill off trail.

Running straight lines were out of the question thus we laid a serpentine route creating a grade where we could keep a running like pace.

Mr J and dog leading the way

Mr J and dog leading the way

 

As we continued up the snow got deeper, but also more varied in depth as we ran into regular snow covered boulder fields. Requiring our full attention not to twist an ankle or a knee.

As we continued up, snow continued to get deeper in general, but also more varied in depth from one step to the next. one step might be knee deep, but the next only 10 cm or force you in to the hip. challenging and interest and we were both very grateful to reach the top and an energy gel break.

From here followed a VERY interesting 3K downhill run. plenty of slides and a great deal of care to be taken as we made our way down steep sections with loose rock covered in snow of unknown depth.

we were not moving our fastest here, Β but it was quite taxing on both breath and thighs.

From here followed the 5K of relatively easy technical off trail home and it was great to be able to remove the trail gaiters and untie the shoes.

Overall it had been around 2,5 hours (breaks included) of the kind of running that is precisely why I love Greenland, rough, desolate, remote and challenging like hell, but above all fun 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.

Another 6K and a bad run (917K to go):

Weather today was actually not that bad. sunny and -12C, rather windy though and a chill factor of -24,7.

Maybe not the obvious running weather, but normally I really like to run in weather and temperatures like this.

I took a slight detour from my normal run and right from getting out I could feel that something was not quite right.

My five fingers did not feel quite right on my feet, my feet felt sore and my calves were stiff and for the first time ever I had a really hard time finding my pace and my rhythm.

Kind of hard not to guess that I had an off day coming. I decided to push on and see how things would pan out.

The first two K I could tell from my running and feet that I was out of style and doing all the wrong things.

I was forcing my body too far forward and dropping my head, making for a slight bend in the hips and a disturbed rhythm and foot placement.

ANd these bad news just keep on, after 3K I paced down and finally got my running style somewhat under control.

Cadence was OK end to end Β on this race, but pace was not up to my usual standards.

As I reached the end, my right calf was (and still is) rock hard and my feet felt sore.

Bad runs are a reality for everyone, but this was my first real off day since going full time barefoot style. I chose to push through and run to the end, but in retrospect, I should not have been running today.

Ohh well, next run will be back to normal πŸ™‚

 

Gorgeous snowy and icy 6K (623K to go)

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Already when walking to the gym this morning I knew that should time permit just after work, then I would have a run home with some amazing light and with a little luck even a section of low tide ice flake jumping pitched in πŸ™‚

Luckily time did permit and after the now usual comments from my boss (a very successful triathlete) about my fivefingers being just a fad, plain silly and stupid looking. Comments I take as friendly banter, I zoomed out the door, past the 1.5K of ice/snow/pebbled pavement and and towards the nordic skiing trail to make my way home,

The Snow on the skiing trail have become very densely packed by now and i had several sections where I barely had snow covering my toes, but luckily also a few amazing sections of deepish soft powdery snow.

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I did make a slight detour as it was low tide and with the wind was coming in from the North, a massive amount of ice flakes will likely be lying stacked along the rocky shore, making for a whole heap of fun ice flake jumping for a few hundred meters.

Well “how much fun can 2-300 meters be?”Β you might ask. Well when you are jumping, sliding balancing on slippery snow covered ice flakes ranging from the size of a football to the size of a large dining table, all resting either in shallow water or on the rocks revealed by the tide, it can be “HEAPS OF FUN!” πŸ™‚ Especially because some of them are quite unstable.

I have been weary of doing it in the past, but wearing my KSO I had enough ground feel with the ice to make it challenging and exhausting but also heaps of fun for a while.

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The way back up and home was steep, but I was so energized from the fun section that the trip home felt light on feet and amazing. My running style got a tiny bit sloppy at a point, but the upside to nearly not wearing shoes is you notice real quick.

Upon arrival home, time said 30 minutes and 20 seconds. Distance read 6,01K.

Cadence averaged out to 192 SPM, which is in the ok range for me. and heart rate felt OK save for a few spikes while running two of the uphill sections.

Last week was from a barefoot point of view of a little high mileage, especially as I had two snowboarding session over the weekend too. Something my calves and thighs definitely can feel. Thus i am quite certain that tomorrow will be a rehab day for me running wise.

I thin my running style or form as everybody seems to call it is improving by the day, now I just have to be patient enough to let my legs get back to their usual self after a very tough weekend.

Ohh and I am really getting VERY fond of the KSO as a winter running shoe, amazing ground feel and stability.

But why not conclude this post with an image of the shoreline section where i had so much fun πŸ™‚

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