The “missing” 1000K update

Aeroe - a piece of Danish paradise

Aeroe – a piece of Danish paradise

If it has not been readily apparent from my previous post, travel is about the one constant in my life, travel and exercise that is. Where the constant form of exercise has 3 main components , heavy weight gym sessions, barefoot style running and climbing, add snowboarding in winter and the picture is complete.

The running though is where I empty my mind, it is something I mostly do alone, it is the easiest way for me to reach a meditative state of mind.

Copenhagen Spring

Copenhagen Spring

The now +2 year transition into barefoot running (or minimally shod when below freezing or trails are too rough) has not been entirely without challenges and as you will figure out reading back through my updates, I have probably been flirting a little with the TMTS syndrome on more than one occasion, but no transition is ever perfect and mine at least have been injury free, or almost, there has been the occasional blister or sore and bruised feet from hitting a stone.

One thing is for sure, a running coach is mandatory for a safe transition from big foam floats to bare feet and I am not talking a coach telling you how much to run or how often, but one able to work with the technical aspects of your running style. I meet mine at least twice a year and while my form is getting there, there is just no way to get there on your own. Well there is, but a coach will help you ease through the transition much quicker and avoid injuries getting there.

very easy dirt trail

very easy dirt trail

There is more to it though and by now the first carefully run kilometres along the harbour in Copenhagen seems a distant memory.

In the past i would hate chip seal and rough pavement, where as now I cherish the varity in surface structure one can run, I now run almost any pavement or chip seal and I am slowly taken my barefoot running to the trails.

Our local mountains are still difficult and while I certainly can run parts of the routes, I still rely on shoes when in the mountains, but single track dirt roads has become manageable as well. Now how many different surfaces one can run should never get a competition. I hear many new runners dreaming of negotiating tough gravel roads, but my question is why. Staying within your the comfort zone of your feet, is the key to an uninjured transition.

But do enjoy and experiment with where you run, it is definitely part of the barefoot experience ๐Ÿ™‚

My feet has changed a lot, they are thicker and stronger than ever. I do not remember having ever had an arc under my foot, over the last two years and the last year in particular arches have developed under my feet.

My feet are also wider than before and finding shoes is an ongoing nightmare, Vibram and Vivobarefoot has been saving me for my daily needs and I have now come to a point where wearing shoes hurt and is unpleasant, I have a hard time imagining ever getting back into a pair of Nike or the like again ๐Ÿ™‚

Barefoot in Beijing

Barefoot in Beijing

My frequent travels has mean exposure to a variety of running conditions and barefoot running in more than 14 countries from arctic Greenland to Singapore. Barefoot running has been a source of bewilderment, inspiration, amusement, hate and conversation no matter where I have gone. I have connected and talked to people I woud probably otherwise never speak to. I have been hated by a few too, mostly for barefoot and faster than them ๐Ÿ™‚

Favourite on the journey of barefoot running has probably been china though, there was just something special about the culture and how they reacted to my running that seemed amazing.

There was a unique feel to run barefoot along the forbidden city and through the streets of Shanghai and I am looking forward to going back later in the year.

Where my barefoot journey will take me from here is hard to know, hopefully into the mountains and to more destinations around out wonderful world and when time permits I am indeed looking very much forward to sharing thoughts on things related to barefoot running, my wonderful Greenlandic home and the world ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 bogglingย  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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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:)

JAV14_wall_011

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Arctic Winter Running โ€“ a magic experience (259K to go):

sunset over Ilulissat Icefiord, Greenland

Sunset run along the Ilulissat Icefiord, Greenland

Words sometimes fail to describe just home magic winter running in Greenland can be.

The last weeks has been a brutal and very beautiful reminder of winter having arrived in full and with that the time to do a write up on what winter running means when living in the arctic. Where many turn their focus to the indoor arena with treadmills and the like, othersย dress up and embrace the wonderful experience winter running can be (an experience we share in silence with the Nordic skiers).

99K have passed since my last update and 75K has been real winter running, with temperatures ranging from -6C to -22,5C, with chill factors down well below -30C.

Conditions have been a mix of paved roads covered in hard packed snow or ice, to off trail run on raw rock sections, with a varying ice cover and a snow from hard packed to soft and powdery, the latter can be a very tricky if combined with ice ๐Ÿ™‚

My normal winter running will include hard packed snow, soft snow, ice, Nordic skiing trails and in the early season rock sections and the occasional path of paved road.

Gorgeous and amazing if you are prepared โ€“ tough, cold and unforgiving if you are not.

The approach to running during winter is important, especially if you live in regions where you get cold weather.

The perhaps most important thing to remember when running in arctic winter conditions is to ease into them, run through summer and autumn into winter. It makes the transition a lot more pleasant. Jumping head first into winter running in -20C with a 10K race pace run is a recipe for disaster.

Run duration generally varies from 30 minutes to 3 hours or so, starting out with shorter runs and then working my way into the long ones as my body readjust to the conditions

As temperatures get very low you need to start considering to minimise speed work and focus on a more relaxed pace. Especially as temperatures dip into the -20C range, I do not have the links to the studies at hand, but as temperature goes below -16C or so, the risk of doing permanent โ€œfrostbiteโ€ damage to your lungs increase, thus it makes sense to not tax your body too hard, it already working overtime heating up the cold air you breathe

I tend to do a mix good mix of distances during winter, both shorter and longer runs, but with a focus on shorter runs early in the season and then build up mileage as my body readjust to the changed conditions.

I like to mix in a variety of surfaces too, Nordic ski trails are great to break up the monotony of the hard packed snow or ice on the streets and venturing off trail will put in a healthy dose of quad killing in the soft and deeper snow.

Make your winter about fun and exploration and less about speed and a whole new chapter of running will be before you.

The next two posts will be on footwear and clothing respectively, so stay tuned ๐Ÿ™‚