Posts Tagged ‘Primal Running’

Running again!

Crystal Falls early in my standard run. The left side of the waterfall is frozen.

Returning to the trails is like meeting an friend you used to see almost daily but circumstances kept you apart for a month. Not just the running. The experience of primal running is much, much more. It is prayer. It is breathing God’s creation. It is flowing through God’s creation. It is a return to the way things are supposed to be.

These last three days I’ve run 8 miles total. That was made possible by about a week of rather pathetic outings, hobbled combinations of running in place and trotting/stumbling a few dozen yards and back.

Pathetic as it was, I returned each time feeling better than I left. That how running primal works. I’ve said it before, but there is something about running that helps us heal.

This recovery I am doing a number of additional things that I was not on my previous 6 month recoveries (which matched how I felt at the beginning of this one and the only other times I was super slammed like this, so it’s the only bench mark I have.).

First: I understand now how having adrenaline kick in sets me back and I know how to avoid it. I’ve again regained the ability to shut down rather than enter fight or flight, which helps.

Second: The Genotype diet, Buteyko breathing, barefoot running, and floor living. God’s engineering makes everything more efficient, and so healing occurs more rapidly.

Third: I am eating a few finger-fulls of Cacao nibs each day. This raw, unprocessed bean is used to make chocolate. It soothes my continuing skull tectonic plates as they find their proper places. I’ve no idea what else it does, but it is considered a superfood for the brain and it’s part of my Genotype diet.

Forth: the inversion table and hyperbaric chambers.

Fifth: I’m intentionally staying out of interacting with my family as much as I usually would to prevent myself from short circuiting as often, which research shows only prolongs and deepens recovery time. Better two month of greater seclusion than 6 months of being slammed.

My hope is that since I am near the one month mark, I will take an additional 2-4 weeks recovery time to get back to where I was, then see where I get to go from there. Now that I am able to run, perhaps that will speed up the timeline?


New Huarache Tying Method

This method does not have the toe string between the big and second toes (which I’ve never been able to put up with), allows for the wearing of socks (winter is coming), and is secure enough to use on the mountain trail around Pikes Peak. I’ve got four miles on this exact method so far, but have been experimenting with other methods to reach this one.

It actually creates opposing forces from the heel to the midfoot, and then from the forefoot to the midfoot, do does a surprisingly good job of being very stable. One trick is to tie it looser than you think when just standing, as the forefoot expands greatly at running speed when landing.

I use a thick leather footbed and parachute cord. I may experiment with Vibram Cherry but I haven’t been able to make leather or other natural laces work for me because of the abrasion and/or stretching/shrinking involved with getting them wet.


Gorge-ous Rio Grande!

I had a blissful run along the rim of the Rio Grande river’s gorge North of Taos. A feast for my feet with a  variety of pumice lava rock, packed and lose dirt. It was incredible fun, and I’ve never run anything that flat for that long (15 miles round trip). Actually did an average of 7:40 minutes per mile. My average at home is 9:20 minutes per mile – so the lower altitude combined with level terrain combined for a about an 18% increase in speed. No wonder it was so fun!

Primal Running Form

I was intrigued by these shots of me running. It’s one thing to try and run a certain way, and a completely different thing to then see pictures of that form in action.

Two things here: first is the clear preparation of the foot for an outer forefoot strike (just behind the pinky toe; second is the way in which one foot is right in front of the other. For me, it creates a straight line about an inch or two in from the inside edge of my feet. When I had to wear snowshoes, it felt really strange and hard to have to walk with a wider stance.

Shoe companies would have us believe we need support and protection; however, this shot clearly shows my left foot’s arch (AKA windlass mechanism), at full load. That kind of compression is supposed to happen (it absorbs shock of landing, and returns close to 20% of that energy back to your next step). Any arch support prevents this natural mechanism from functioning at all. Arch support does nothing but weaken the foot, send unnecessary shock up through the leg, and make the whole body work harder to propel itself forward.

Run with abandon!

What a Fantastic Retreat!

Alpineglow from the cabin’s deck.

A friend gave me the gift of a retreat and pilgrimage with him. We spent a week at another friend’s remote cabin around the Spanish Peaks near LaVeta, CO (Thank you!). Depending on the temperature and recent snow fall, I either ran in my moccasins or in my moccasins with snowshoes (which my feet really rebelled against, as the straps chaffed them raw a few places).

It was a grand test of my ear plugs, as they got quite a workout, with the long drive, in a new home with various noises, and then more long drives and even a few restaurants. They and I did wonderfully well, and the continued gifts and slurry of baby-step improvements from the Blood Type Diet, Primal Running, and Buteyko Breathing are clearly evident. Still waiting for my memory and cognitive capacity to improve. Perhaps with time and more running!

I did lose a few days to “short circuiting” — requiring time to recover because of cigarette smoke in our non-smoking room at one hotel (apparently there’s no such thing as no smoking rooms in even a brand new Casino. Who could have guess that one? Sardonic grin).

Running is cognitive therapy…

Since the first glimmer that I might be able to run again (last spring, so coming up on one year ago), I’ve intuitively known that primal running would be an integral part of my ongoing recovery for my bludgeoned brain. I had no idea of the extent (By God’s grace, I still don’t and this is just the beginning!).

For the past week, I’ve been testing out going for a run when my brain is fatigued. I’m not at all sure what prompted this, because it feels incredibly counter intuitive to my lived experience. But running has become so efficient for me, that I return from a run with more brain energy than I left with. I have no idea what the limits of this are, but I’m in the process of testing them out.

Yesterday, I ate something on my “avoid” blood type diet (4-5 bites was all). I asked my wife if it was on my avoid list because it just either tasted funny to me or I was beginning to feel “off.” I dropped rapidly last night (perhaps I should have immediately gone for a run?! I may get brave enough to test that extreme at some point) and was still recovering this morning. It was a “hard” brain day. So I decided to test it out. I could barely make it out the house, but once I was running, I was doing better. Inertia limits the ways you can fall, so my brain was less panicked about that (at least that’s the part of the equation I’ve figured out so far). I ended up running 5k, though it felt like 30k. (brain injury has a way of making life seem that way — the expenditure of an ultra-marathon to accomplish a walk around the block.). I even “hit the wall” 3/4s of a mile in, and felt my body shift to fat reserves by 2.5 miles. Arrived home and I’m more at a “medium” day in terms of brain fatigue. Amazing stuff! And I owe it all to primal running and primal (Buteyko) breathing!

Breathing amazing!

Today’s run was amazing. I ran 3 miles on my “easy trail” (just 200 feet drop and climb in 1.5 miles). Then I added in a more vertical road loop that climes 200 feet in a half mile to see how I would do breathing. I entered into the climb and while my breathing deepened it was still slow(er than it used to be) and relaxed. I could feel I was really raising the CO2 in my blood supply and also reaching my threshold at which I could maintain my pace.

On a second run, I did one of my favorite trails, a 4 mile out and back, with a 900 foot climb in the first mile. I definitely pushed my limit the whole way up, but literally within steps of the trail getting less steep I was already able to have a short pause in my breathing.

It is truly amazing to be running in “primal glide” while breathing slow with a pause. No billowing cloud of breath in my visual way in the 5F air. No cold mouth or lips. Just properly warmed air by the time it got to my lungs. This sure feels like how we’re born to run!

Plus 8.5 miles
Total: 427.3 Miles

Breathing deeper by breathing shallower

Mountain mahogany on a crisp highland morning

Today is one week of Buteyko breathing. I clearly see the benefits, and also the price of getting toward them. Today’s run (I’m keeping them to three miles for now as I adjust) was amazing — a taste of what i’t like to run along smoothly primal style while breathing slow and gentle. Transcendent and yet utterly present in the moment. Beautiful. It sure is wild to be running along as fast as I used to run the same trail, yet breathing a fraction as hard, and feeling far better — knowing I have a reserve and I could run even harder, especially as I get closer to the goal of a control pause of 40 (I’m at a measly 16 now, up from a start of 6).

I wonder what role altitude plays with making the transition? I spend an hour yesterday in my hyperbaric chamber. While in it I really pushed myself with the breathing exercises, and the effects seem to have helped me reach a new level. I wonder if living at 8000 feet makes the transition harder/slower? Using the chamber really seems to make a difference. I’ve used it today also. Usually I wait 12 days, to allow my brain to keep up with the changes — but I’m testing out if it’s actually my O2 and CO2 levels that got out of whack and it takes 12 days for my body to recover. I imagine the chamber magnifies any mistakes or benefits of our breathing.

Plus 9 miles (3 miles over three days)
Total milage: 418.8

Snow Traction Update

Traction in the snow on steep trails (One I run climes 1000 feet in 1.5 miles) is a challenge. There is (at least) one dilemma for the minimalist runner: how to get enough traction while not weighing down the foot or hindering it’s function.

The bottom line:

  • I run in most situations in my double soled primal mocs. This includes in well crystalized snow up and down on moderately packed snow. More on this later.
  • When I absolutely need additional, I now use Stableicers Lite. Why? Because they are the only traction device I’ve found that doesn’t constrict my foot through the minimalist footwear. I use velcro straps over the top to help hold them on (they slip off otherwise).

Here’s more details:

R and D with a solo moccasin maker in the Christmas season slows way down because he’s filling Christmas orders! We’re working on a possible wire and leather traction solution, but it remains in the pre-prototype stage for being too successful. Grin. Shameless plug: Chuck is great to work with and I highly recommend him if you are ready for a fantastic, quality, custom sized primal moc you can resole and will last forever. Connect with him at Mountain People Footwear.

I much prefer the leather sole to a rubber one (like Vibram’s Cherry). Why? With proper primal running technique traction equals rubber soled shoes, yet is warmer, provides better ground feel, and allows the exchange of energy with the earth. Exchange of energy with the Earth? Isn’t that a bit wacko? Possibly. But I experience it. I feel much more energized running with leather sole on any surface, but particularly on trails. The closest thing to a “scientific” explanation is that running barefoot or with leather allows for the exchange of energy/electrons with the earth, in which we release waste energy through the soles of our feet and receive renewed energy from the earth. I’ve tried multiple testing of this and, whatever the explanation, I simply feel better running with a leather sole.

Winter is hard on leather soles. Replenish them with Obenauf’s Heavy Duty LP.

Snow type does make a difference. Like any shift in terrain, the type and temperature of the snow we run on makes a difference in terms of how we interact with it. As any skier using waxed skis knows, there are different waxes for different types and temperatures of snow. For leather soled folk, the wetter (ie, warmer) the snow, the less friction it has. Snow is slippery when wet. Increased traction is required on wet snow. On well crystalized snow (ie, temps 25F and below), I’ve found very few circumstances requiring additional traction (again using proper primal techniques (as a refresher: primal is the style/technique/experience of running or walking either barefoot or minimalist).

Running a winding, rocky trail downhill in primal footwear is mind altering delight. The concept/ technique for it is this: small, rapid steps that take you on the edge of the traction/friction equation. In essence, you run as close to the point of slipping as you can, but because your feet are moving so fast you have a LOT of traction when and as you need it. It’s amazing how our feet and legs are made for this (the same is true of any steep/rocky terrain) — our mind only has to decide the track of our travel, our feet and reflexes take care of the rest (I suspect this requires a lot of time learning the technique and building up the right muscle groups, but Wow! is it a fun payoff!). So, while the Stableicers are functional, and at this point the best I’ve found, they greatly hinder primal running an so the search continues. Hopefully our own research for a primal moc traction device will yield some results.

Cold Weather Running

Today’s run was a bit over 3 miles in -10F, (-30s with windchill). I wore my primal mocs (double leather sole) and a thin pair of merino wool work socks. The bottoms of my feet felt slightly cool, but they stayed stable and very happy. The tops and toes were warm and cozy.

Plus 3.2 miles
Total Milage: 262.4

Deacon Patrick’s Round the World Progress

Deacon Patrick's Round the World Progress