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

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Being ill, skin disease and other stuff (667,5K to go):

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Coming from 3 consecutive weeks of being almost back to my normal short weeks of 30-40K a week adn thun run head first into first a skin disease issue, the disease is a know issue, but it atacking my feet happens rarely and made me miss out on the opportunity to run barefoot while in Rome.

Add a case of the flu and high fever and I was out of business with no running and no workout at all for a week and a half. That just plain sucked, especiall as it hit right after having visited my running coach.

A visit that was both inspiring and deeply humiliating (in a good way I might add). It was a most welcome reminder to keep my running form compact and to run lighter. quite a wake up call to see one self on video after a while.

SOmething everybody needs to do regularly I think.

Anyway, Thursday I managed to Squeeze in an afternoon 10K in my wonderful Greenlandic surroundings, I truly love running the hilly sections and the fact that the only flat section is my own porch, my skin disease kept me from going completely barefoot, but just running again after a week and a half of being ill was absolutely amazing.

Pace was deliberately slow, but cadence and form seemed OK, still need to work a lot with posture and heel pull in particular, as that is where a few bugs have been sneaking into my running style.

Zoom forward today.

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I am back in Copenhagen and the weather has been absolutely fabulous for a couple of days. It is time for one of those super cosy partner runs, usually around 5K with my girlfriend. She is new to running, but putting in a massive effort and running together is something that really makes me feel very privileged.

As I came home from the gym, I looked at the soles of my feet, looked outside, looked at my soles, looked outside and though “Ohh, what the f***”, showed my Five fingers in the running drawstring bag and set off with no shoes at all. RUnning totally barefoot is something that one has to experience to believe and I would guess that most people will get truly addicted. At least I have become so in an instant. The tactile sensation of running totally barefoot is nothing short of amazing.

5 gorgeous and wonderful kilometres later we are back home. the still not completely healed skin on my soles had taken quite a beating. No blisters or wounds as such, but as the skin has still not fully recovered from the disease, it is more beaten up than five leisurely paced kilometresd would normally justify.

That said I was and still am high from running barefoot again.

Tomorrow I will continue my travels towards Madrid and Barcelona in Spain for 10 days and hopefully lots of barefoot running πŸ™‚

Along wet run…. and more… (682,5K to go):

Been a while since my last update and not surprisingly I have been running πŸ™‚

It startede out thursday with a 6K completely barefoot run in Copenhagen, a run where I felt fast and everything was good. I just forgot that one important thing…. To listen to your soles.

As I got home I had 3 major blisters on the ball of my feet, not friction blisters as such, no more like blivers from running too fast on a too hot surface. It really was a tough lesson learned for me and something I need to be very aware of as summer arrives.

Sunday I got the silly idea to run to my moms place, around 20K depending on route, weather the day before had been amazing and the forecast was not overly bad.

In fact it was such a nice forecast that my girlfriend decided to bike the trip keeping me company and all.

Just as we were about to leave it started raining and not just a little. opted for a switch to a waterproof jacket on me and the long sleeve in the bag

The first couple of kilometres was mainly about getting wet and into a nice rhythm and to get used to running and having a bike to factor in. At 5 K the rain really started to pick up and we went from wet to drenched in a matter of munites. At 10K the weather turned for the worse and we were in the middle of a real downpour. Luckily the seeyas do not have a lot of shoe, thus there is not a lot to get wet and pick up weight.

At 10K my legs still felt great Β and I really had to focus not to burn of way too much energy off too soon,I kept focusing on technique and on to stay warm and in a good constant pace.

15K passed Β and I started to feel a little burned and wet and cold, but I kept my thoughts on the last stretch home and on a good running style, which at least for me means a fully occupied πŸ™‚

At 20K I was tired, but at least I was in know territory and that meant that I knew that it would be roughly 2,5K home. I picked up my pace slowly and started running faster. I got to admit that it felt great arriving at Moms place.

22,5K and my longest run to date in barefoot style shoes and I felt great afterwards.

Right now I am waiting for a flight to Rome, so look out for a round of running in Rome soon πŸ™‚

Barefoot in Budapest (711K to go):

W020Sunday around midday I boarded a flight from Copenhagen to Budapest.

Two and a half day of very interesting conferencing ahead of me, but I had the good fortune to already around my arrival at the hotel to sneak in a run.

Knowing nothing about budapest and much less around where to run, decided to run to The Danube river and follow it for a bit while taking in the view of the “pest” part of Budapest. Call it a quick run around attractions such as the chain bridge and other interesting stuff.

Weather was perfect, a little cloudy, but warm and pleasant. It begged for me to stick to the good old black soles, but I did not know anything about what I would run into in terms of conditions, thus I grabbed my seeyas in the hand on the way out. turned out they were totally unnecessary. While I spotted a fair amount of unpleasant looking glass of the broken beer bottle variety (particularly on the route from the chain bridge to the opera), then it was generally not enough to pose any threat to my feet and was quite easy to navigate.

Plan was for a 5K, but at the natural turning point it said 4K and an average pace of 5:30 Min/K, not bad, given that I really felt good and my feet had no signs of hotspots nor other friction issues.

The surface was generally smooth concrete or paved road, walk/bike lane, but some some fun stuff such as pebbles, cobble stones and even a few obstacles to jump here and there πŸ™‚

The run home was just as pleasant as the run out, Developed a bit of a hotspot on the inside of my right forefoot (see the picture below it is clearly visible). It puzzles me a bit, but it is a general issue when running completely barefoot. My own guess is that my right foot is not quite strong enough in the muscles supporting the arch of the foot, allowing it to sag a bit towards the end of my run, but it is only a feeling. On that note I am glad I have a meeting with my style coach soon, hopefully he can pinpoint the problem.

W021Fast forward to late afternoon today and the second run in Budapest.

Weather spoke for a pure barefoot experience and having done several evening walks after dinners and in between conference days, I had a pretty good feeling of what to expect. I planned for a slightly different and possibly slightly longer route, thus the seeyas came with me in my hand as I put the good old black soles to work.

One of the things that struck me while running the first half of the route, was that I much like Sunday, got an unusually large amount of startled looks and comments in Magyar, English and even a few Swedish ones. I very much doubt they are used to seeing barefooted runners in Budapest or even barefoot style runners. At least I saw none.

 

Pace, cadence and running style all seemed very good, I have noticed that I need around 2-3K to lock into my running style. Not that it is bad the first couple of kilometres, I just have to focus on the flow until I am in the “zone”

The “pest” side of my run was a fun surprise, a mix of huge cobble stones, and flagstones with a fine layer of pebbles sort of embedded in the surface, lots of construction work going on and, plenty of urban obstacles to run around, avoid or jump, not to mention a massive amount of pedestrians, cars and buses. All in all a load of fun.

As i reached the Hotel the watch said 9K, a 5:31 pace and a cadence of 198 SPM. Ok I am running fairly flat terrain, but I find it quite promising that I am able to run a problem free 5:30 average on completely bare feet, seemingly without compromising my style and that is Improvement to me πŸ™‚

Overall Budapest comes highly recommended to barefooters I think and I had a ball here πŸ™‚

Snowy and windy half marathon (728K to go):

 

 

NSP13_WEB_021Well today I was supposed to fly to Copenhagen, but shortly before my flight wind picked up a steady 20 knots and frequent gusts in the 35 knot range, not to mention that the temperature dropped just below zero and bringing snowfall, ranging from light flurries to heavy snow showers. In short, No Flying today.

I was a little moody after that. My girlfriend waiting at the arrival was no fun when being stranded at the departure point without an aircraft. Aside from messing up my Friday meeting schedule and evening plans today, it was also messing up my training plan. Friday was supposed to be gym and long run day, with a short run and bouldering session on Saturday., but as my Friday would now be spend flying I had to be creative.

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Well I dressed up warm and decided on a slow run target in the 12-15K range, I threw a couple of High5 ISO gels a pocket to make sure my stomach stay used to getting gels while running, the great thing about the ISO gels is that while a little larger than the average gel, they contain enough water to be digested without additional water, which is perfect for runs up to around half marathon distance where I usually do not consume water, unless it is very hot.

Weather was every bit as hostile as described, ans snow started to pile up several places, varying from a thin sometimes very icy crusty layer to sections of soft slushy snow varying from ankle depth to halfway to my knee.

Challenging, but also fun running conditions and the choice to strap into the seeyas were easy. with this much wet snow, I would be soaked well up towards my knee anyway for the duration, so might as well go for a shoe that drains fast and gain minimal weight from being wet.

The first kilometre and a half was all down hill, so an easy run, but given the unstable surface and varying traction, ice patches downhill are interesting, from a running point of view and while my feet were being hammered by the uneven surface, it is the perfect place for practising the whole centre of gravity thing πŸ™‚

Uphill for half a kilometre and then I had the wind in my face for the first time and here it would stay for the next 4K. At kilometre 4 I passed a friend that were making her way home from somewhere. she smiled and called me crazy. I smiled waved and said high and continued to push through a section of deep snow uphill. It felt amazing to get my wind in the back for a few kilometres at the 6K mark and my legs were now warm and my feet were totally soaked, but had found a rhythm with the uneven ground, although they were taking a beating from uneven Ice and largish pebbles invisible under the snow. having my wind in the back made it a perfect moment to grab a gel too, which really were a great energy boost.

At kilometre 7 I pass my friend again and were awarded a big grin and a high five (thanks Eva), which meant another boost of mental energy had a great smooth back-wind section, the downhill were rather icy and I really had to stay sharp on my running style not to loose balance and fall over. It went very smooth and felt great and controllable πŸ™‚

From kilometre 10 a Steep and 1K long uphill with the wind gusting a heavy snow shower into my face – hard. I shortened my stride a touch, adjusted my forward lean angle a touch, and upped the cadence a tiny bit and focused on my heel pull. The long steep uphill seemed to just roll under my feet, amazing. Another 3K of mixed shorter up and downhill sections followed and did a great job loosening up my legs a little, especially as I had the wind in my back for half of it πŸ™‚

A 14K I felt no where near ready to stop, thus on the whim, I veered left and did a gorgeous 2,5K uphill section with the wind now blowing and gusting very heavy snow into my face. Now I wore my bad weather running shades (the now discontinued Adidas elevation – I have two pairs and save for the soft lens coating they are a favourite of mine), but the snow was so dense it nearly covered the lenses and I were forced to use the back of my glove to wipe them for every ten steps, but such a great section. From here followed the same section downhill and now with the wind in my back, shades in hand I had a strong and fast downhill section that felt just amazing.

At Kilometre 19 I still felt great and decided that I might as well run the last 2,1 KΒ  and make it a half marathon, so a quick a sprint half a kilometre downhill and then finishing strong on the last 1,6K uphill to home.

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I was quite surprised to see that I came in faster than the last half marathon less then a week ago, only around a minute faster, but I felt more relaxed on this one and the conditions were a lot tougher, so definitely a great run πŸ™‚ I hope to be able to stick to these +20K runs once a week from now on, they are pure meditation for me and they really are able to challenge me on my technique and style. On this particular run my body posture was the big challenge. This due to the challenging running conditions, I needed to really watch my step and that cause a bit to much of a forward tilt from my hip neck, but I think I had it under control most of the time.

The other challenge were my feet, they really took a beating, but the flexibility and ground feedback from the seeyas were the right choice still and they remain my favourite running five fingers. they were soaked for 21,1K and not a single hotspot or blister. On rougher terrain I would still opt for the spyridon, but the seeyas do surprisingly well in a lot of terrain.

Last but not lest the centre of gravity thing got a lot of work here, the often icy Β up and downhill sections, with or without a foot worth of slushy snow cover to disguise it as safe ground, really made running as perfectly as possible under my centre gravity mandatory. Β pushing a touch with your feet on the way up in stead of lifting you feet off the ground and you are hugging the hill. stepping in front of yourself on the way down and you will slide the rest of it on your butt πŸ™‚

Overall a great workout, now I will hit the sack and get some sleep, boarding Β at 5:15 AMΒ  tomorrow, but I am going back to yourope where the weather is warm enough to go completely barefoot πŸ™‚

Travels, a half marathon and a blizzard run (749K to go):

I kind of hope a few of you have noticed that i have been inactive for two weeks πŸ™‚

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The first week was spend mainly flying and then a long weekend of hiking (in my spyridons) in the wonderful Ilulissat region of Greenland, enjoying another passion of mine – Photography, some dogsledding fun of course and then a week worth of running.
I think what many tend to underestimate is how much hiking and day to day walking can help build up foot strength. My Bikila LS is the most padded shoe I wear and I spend every chance I can barefoot. It has meant a tremendous improvement in barefoot strength and my running have seen real benefits from it.
To me, a valuable lesson learned since January. if you want to run barefoot, then spend as much time as possible being barefoot, whether running or not.
The Hiking was amazing and a good continuation ice, rock, snow and other interesting stuff.
The spyridon with a thin toe sock and a debris gaiter (I use the inov8 one) really makes for a very nice and flexible winter boot so far no issues down to -20C.
A more flexible water resistant model built on the sole from the spyridon would be a welcome addition to the range of five fingers.

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Coming back to Nuuk last week, was great though, first thing was a relaxed 5K run with my girlfriend. her first in the steep terrain around Nuuk, but she managed a very nice run in spite of it. Personally it was just a nice relaxing 5K in my seeyas, to the point where little new to tell is available. I feel very settled in my running again, plenty of minor stuff to work on, but overall I feel relax and fluid when running.
Nuuk has fallen back to winter, so plenty of snow and a chilly temperature to it. I really like to run during winter and to feel snow between my toes when running, combined with the tactile sensation of plenty of tiny pebbles strewn everywhere and the sometimes rough ice underneath a thin crusty snow, is just soo nice.
Friday I had planned for a relaxed 6K home from work, but as I took off from work and started running, my feet felt strong and I just flew home in a way too brisk pace. I was great to be able to maintain that fast a pace with steep uphill sections in the run.
So a very positive run overall, my only concern about it was the long run planned for Saturday.

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Saturday, begun early, a trip to the gym for a leg, core and stability workout session, from there I went straight to the climbing gym and enjoyed a few hours of focus on precision hand and footwork. It is a very odd sensation to strap my climbing shoes on these days though and I actually did a good part of my warm up climbs in my KSO.
After the gym I did a light lunch and then started dressing up. blue skies and no wind, perfect for what I estimated to be a very slow 15K when setting out, because my legs were worn from the fast run and the days activities, but as I progressed through the first 5K my legs came back. pace cadence and style seemed good, at 10K everything looked really well an I decided to do the long route home and go for a 21,1K attempt. seemed a perfect way to test my feet, my style and my head above all. at 17K I started to have a bit of a crisis, my calves were beginning to feel exhausted on the downhill runs, but a hard focus on technique and upping the pace downhill solved it.
from 18,5K and home I upped the pace significantly and felt very good al the way home.
We are still far from my old half marathon race pace, but it does not matter much either at this stage. The important part is that I now have the necessary focus to keep my running style relatively tight on this distance and come out with nothing but sore calves from it.

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W003Today I decided that running home from work would make for a nice soft run to start the week, I was wrong though – Mother Nature had decided to play me and throw a fierce 45 knot blizzard, with gusts on the lively side of 60 knots.
The run home went OK, parts of the run were a little exposed and i had to fight to stay on my feet on the ice covered roads. The most dangerous seemed to be the cars though, I met at least two cars where the drivers were struggling to stay on the road and where I was glad to be running and not in their car.
The seeyas were probably not the optimal choice of footwear for the run, the spyridons would have been preferred here, but that the seeya keep impressing me, it is a very versatile shoe.

A long update, but I wanted to fit everything in.

Thanks for reading.

A 6K sunday barefooter (787K to go):

W011Well today was Sunday and not unlike other Sundays, it means that my girlfriend and I will head out on our joint running session.

Today we did as the image indicate move our running out of Copenhagen and to the scenic “Dyrehaven” (Animal Garden), a large nature reserve North of Copenhagen.

Weather was absolutely fantastic and warm. THe running conditions would be more difficult than ever for my completely bare feet.

Plenty of gravel roads and mixed paths of forest floor with twigs and stones, gravel patches and the occasional smoothly paved sections. Definitely a step up from my running so far and what a challenge.

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The first half a kilometre was real easy, smooth laved path/road all the way, but then we hit gravel and I had to question whether I wanted to carry on or reach for my five fingers, because it was a really painful experience. Luckily the gravel soon smoothed a bit and my feet gradually softened up enough to eat the pebbles and gravel much better and the pain gave way for a very sensory rich run. But also a run where I was fully aware that I might be pushing my feet way too hard, but I really died not feel ready to confine my feet with a pair of seeyas, I enjoyed the sensory feedback too much.

Just before the 4K mark we decided to make a brief sun stop as we reached a suitable stone:)

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it left me time to bruch off my sore feet and to check up on the skinn under my feet, because I was really feeling the, to me, challenging conditions I was running.

As evident my feet were taking a pondering, upside was that hot spots and blisters were not showing at all.

That said I think my foot in the picture on the right kind of says everything there is to say.

I was surprised though, that it did not hurt more in general and especially as I sat down, but it seemed that speed and technique was a pretty good match.

4,5K into the route we came across another surprise.

as we followed a narrow trail next to a larger paved road, we came across a very calm and hungry deer.

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It was grassing just next to us and it seemed very, very calm about us running by, not even me sneaking out the camera seemed to disturb it. Which gave us the chance to capture the moment so to speak.

I am not sure if it is common to see deer this close to people in Dyrehaven. WHile I have a feeling it is, then it is the first time in a while I have seen them this used to or careless about humans.

 

As the run was completed we both agreed that Dyrehaven is going to be high on our list of new running locations, I just need to grow stronger or more resistant feet, along side a cleaner and lighter running style πŸ™‚

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