Monthly Archives: May 2005

NIKE Free and Barefoot Running

On Friday I went to Metrosports to pick up another pair of my favorite trail running shoes, the Asics Gel Eagle Trail IIIs. But another pair of running shoes caught my eye this time – the NIKE Free.
Created by NIKE to allow your feet to be protected but still have the biomechanical benefits of running barefoot, the NIKE Free can take your feet from the pampered, protected environment of the nicely insulated, cushioned, supported surroundings of a century of innovation in running/walking shoes to the scary, open place of running with naked feet.
I had read a lot about barefoot running lately. Many experts tout the benefits of strengthening the muscles in your feet to reduce the probability of injury. It also changes your running stance because heel strikes are not possible (they are painful!) and you need to run on the balls of your feet. This also provides an added benefit of an extra shock absorption joint into your kinetic chain.
I took them out for a brick run after my grueling King’s Mountain ascent and definitely there was a difference from these shoes to my normal Asics Gel Nimbus shoes, which are Asics’s most cushioned neutral shoe. Definitely more pounding on the feet as the NIKE Free’s do not have much adding at all, and also definitely more flexing of the shoe due to the slices through the bottom sole rubber.
I hope to run more on these shoes over the next few months to build up my foot muscles. They recommend a gradual buildup over the next few months, and certainly not at distances/speeds as you would normally run.
It will be an interesting experiment.

King’s Mountain, Geeking Out on Training with GPS

Yesterday I went up King’s Mountain Road for the first time in my cycling history in the Bay Area.
What a grueling climb it was! I had been up Old La Honda before which is supposedly 3.75 miles from bottom to the top. In comparison, my GPS said King’s Mountain was 5.2 miles although others say it’s 4.3 miles to the top, but all the way it felt like it was just sucking energy away quickly. Great training ride and I hope to do it more often now that I know where it is, especially with the 1+ hour warmup ride from Cupertino to Woodside to get there!
Grueling on the way back too in a different way – the screaming downhill down 84 back to Woodside gets you up to 25+ MPH and your HR cools down until you feel like you’re freezing because it’s still early morning and the fog hasn’t burnt off…!
This time I took my Garmin Forerunner 301 with me to check out some of its PC related features. It’s an awesome little device that is much better than its predecessor, the Forerunner 201, because it’s got a HR monitor in there. All my training is HR monitored and not having to wear 2-3 watches/devices is a good thing.
The GPS actually records tons of data when you use it. Using its training software, I download my King’s Mountain ride onto my PC. WOW. And I start geeking out big time. I had hit the lap button at various points on the ride and now I can see how long it took to get to the top of King’s Mountain, as well as the elevation, speed, and average HR during each lap.
This is way cool! Now when I get elevation maps from races, I can judge how hard the hills will be during the bike portion.
This of course also applies to running as well….

Cycling in NYC

This last weekend I went out with another M2 athlete, Chirag, and we went cycling up the west side, up Riverside Dr., across the George Washington Bridge, and up route 9W in New Jersey towards upstate NY.
It was an incredibly beautiful day in Manhattan especially having rained the day before. When we got up to route 9W, it was spring in full force with green leaves of the trees looking full of life.
However, given that this was my first time cycling in a big city, I have found out some really interesting things:
1. Getting from my apartment, which is on the east side, to the west side was an interesting exercise. With all the one way streets and sometimes road closures, you’re zig zagging around the streets to find a way to get all the way over and then to cross the west side highway to finally get on the bike path there. Pretty harrowing as there is no bike lane and the cars are right next to you the whole way.
2. Pot holes everywhere! You don’t notice this when you’re walking around the city, but man are there a lot! You gotta really watch out or else your ride is hugely jarring!
3. What’s with the tar? They are continually repairing something in the roads and there is fresh new tar everywhere. I swerve and one time even got off my bike to avoid rolling through some fresh tar.
4. Ignoring street lights seems to be the norm. I see cyclists roll through red lights all the time. So I do the same.
5. Dodging traffic is a given. Especially taxi drivers. Sheesh.
6. The worst was when I got up to my apartment, I realize that I am covered with this black soot or dirt. UGH! I whip off my cycling stuff and hop in the shower. After cleaning up, I spend some time wiping tar and dirt off my bike. As I do this, I start thinking about the soot that has entered my lungs during this ride. Yuck! So I reach for my vitamin bottle and take another vitamin C for antioxidant protection.
I hope my lungs survive training in NYC. Next stop: endless loops in Central Park.