Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Week Ending 4/1 (Tribute to Micah True)

Before I go into the details of the week ending 4/1, I want to share a few thoughts about a man who was--and still is--revered in the ultrarunning community: Micah True (1954-2012). Micah, aka "Caballo Blanco," died last week while on a trail run in the rugged and beautiful Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. Runners from all over dropped everything to go to New Mexico to help with the search. I didn't know Micah well. I'd seen him a few times in Leadville (he lived part of the time in Boulder and often ventured to Leadville for the big race) and I've always admired his gentle spirit and selfless works on behalf of the Tarahumara Indians. Micah lived his own way. Years ago he walked away from a potentially lucrative career as a boxer/kickboxer and turned to a life of meditation and running, ultimately venturing into the Copper Canyons in Mexico to live among the Tarahumara. Despite the fame brought on by Christopher McDougall's best-selling 2009 book Born to Run, Micah always stayed true to himself, never losing his way or losing sight of his commitment to the Tarahumara, who he selflessly helped through the 50-mile Copper Canyon race he founded. Whereas some have sought to exploit the Tarahumara, Micah probably would have gone to the end of the Earth to protect them. To many, Micah will always be the inspirational leader of ultrarunning and will be remembered as a legend.
Having said that, this tribute, by Brian Metlzer, who is senior editor at Running Times and knew Micah quite well, is to date the best I've read.

And here's an incredible first-person account of when Micah first met the Tarahumara at the Leadville 100.
Here's a wonderful video from the Leadville 100 in 2011 that includes some words from Micah:

Another solid training week is in the books. Here's how the week went:
AM: 40 minutes on the indoor bike trainer at easy pace.

AM: 8.7 miles in 1:07 on the Tomahawk loop in Parker. 550'. This was not a great run at all, as I slept horribly and barely made it out of bed. Also, I was a bit leery about running outside due to the smoke from the fires out in Jefferson County, but ventured outdoors anyway. Turns out the air wasn't that bad after all.
AM: 9.45 miles in 1:13. 620'. Got some decent sleep last night for a change. I decided to delay my tempo run by a day as my ass was still dragging a bit and I felt I needed another day of rest.
AM: A decent, but not great, tempo run, as my splits were slightly off from last week--likely a sign that a recovery week is needed. My splits were: 1) 8:24 (warm-up), 2) 6:35, 3) 6:18, 4) 6:14, 5) 6:27, 6) 5:59, 7) 6:29, 8) 7:58 (begin cooldown), 9) 7:23, 10) 7:48, and 10.25) 1:58. The legs just didn't turn over as well as the previous week. 550'.
AM: 9.5 miles in 1:13 on the Tomahawk loop. 620'. Held a pretty relaxed pace and felt decent.
PM: 5.57 miles in 44 minutes minutes during lunch at work. 200'. Ran the single track along the Cherry Creek Trail and then followed up with 7 minutes of barefoot running in the field in front of my office building.

AM: 14.15 miles in 1:51 on the trails and dirt shoulders near my house. 900'. I was pretty tired even though I slept well the night before. 8 minutes of barefoot running and definitely felt it in my calves.

AM: 17 miles in 2:14 on the trails in Parker. 1200'. Like many, I dedicated my Sunday run to Micah True. Ran all three trail loops in Parker multiple times--the Legend High School loop, Buffaloberry loop, and loop behind house--and also covered sections of Tomahawk, East Parker Road (westbound) and Canterberry Parkway. Pretty windy from the southwest (what else is new?).

Weekly totals:
  • 74.6 miles run
  • ~5000' of climbing
  • 11 miles on the cycle
  • Total training: 10:14
  • 7 total runs
  • 15 minutes of barefoot running
  • Averaged 7:43/mile
  • Push-ups and core work
March totals:
  • 321.8 miles
  • 43 hours, 39 minutes
  • Averaged 8:09/mile
  • 22 miles on the cycle (1 hour, 20 minutes)
Year to date mileage:
  • 804.3 miles run
  • 118 miles biked
  • 2.6 miles walked
It was a good but not great week. I didn't get to the mountains because of time issues, which left me feeling a little hollow about the week since it involved so little serious climbing. Also, I didn't like to see a dip in my tempo run splits. To me, that dip may signal the need for a recovery week.

I'm really getting into barefoot running as a great way to strengthen my feet and improve my form (as well as strengthen my calves). When you run barefooted, you automatically adopt proper form, landing on and pushing off from the forefoot. If you landed on your heel or midfoot while barefoot running, you would find the experience altogether uncomfortable. This all leads me to the conclusion that the human foot (at least in most cases) was designed by nature to run properly. But, alas, built-up shoes have more or less ruined the fabulously designed human foot, enabling us to do unnatural things like heel strike. I have been working on my form now for about 3 years in an effort to further-improve my efficiency, and I have to say barefoot running is a critical part of the process.

Unfortunately, at the age of 38, I'm leery about reversing the effects of the built-up shoes I've been wearing and adopting minimalist footwear, especially as I've had some foot issues in recent years (including a nasty bout with plantar fasciitis that effectively sidelined me for five months in 2010-2011). But I can see that barefoot running has the potential to bring many benefits even to those of us who wear built-up shoes. I may at some point try out minimalist footwear, such as New Balance's minimalist trail shoes, but for now I'm going to continue exploring barefoot running as a way to enhance my fitness, improve my form, strengthen my feet and enjoy the simple act of running.

1 comment:

  1. Wyatt -
    Another good post. I am a huge believer in barefoot running as a "tool", but not a fix all. I do believe that it can help with form, efficiency, and strength. But of course it comes with risks. I have seen an explosion of information over the past few weeks (Running Times article, Vibram Lawsuit, blog in Science of Sport, etc..). Hopefully people can start to look at this topic more objectively and without the extreme points of view that seem to come out with this topic.

    I am a forefoot/midfoot striker and love minimalist footwear. In fact, Science of Sports suggests that forefoot runners actually put less load on their body wearing minimal footwear than traditional cushioned shoes. But I recognize that many others, particularly older runners, need to be smart about transitioning due to injury risks. Both Running Times and Science of Sport address this topic pretty well.

    Hopefully your readers are smart enough to know that there is more to it than just buying Vibrams and calling yourself a minimalist runner. Your discussions on the need to evaluate smart training and x-training as part of a larger equation of total health are dead on.