Sunday, July 26, 2009

Red Nail in Ironmind Wraps

This was done exactly 1 week from the first time the red went down.

Up until recently, it wasn't my strength that held me back from big bends but my "toughness". Bending steel hurts. But I've overcome that and it's not so bad anymore. I'm pretty sure I could do this in even thinner wraps now.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hiking in Vibrams

This past weekend we took a family vacation to the Catoctin mountains where I got a chance to do a little bit of hiking in the VFF's. With my recent bending exploits I've been very interested lately in "toughening up" or desensitizing my hands and the feet are no different. Why do I want to desensitize my feet? Why not? I remember a time where I'd wear shoes on the beach! Walking across the street to get the mail... forget about it - I better get my Jordan's!

Well, I don't want to be a tender foot anymore! I don't need to walk across hot coals or anything but I like the idea of not having to depend on Timberland boots to be able to get through some rough terrain.

To be honest, I liked being able to feel the earth under my feet. A while back I read something on reflexology that related early natives and people who didn't wear shoes to receiving what equated to a daily foot massage just from their everyday barefoot travels. I can see how that could be. It felt good walking around the woods in the 'foot gloves' all weekend. Not to mention the balance and control I had climbing rocks and steep hills. I could literally grip the ground!

If you are like I was, hesitant to try VFF because they look funny, do yourself a favor and buy the damn shoes already.

The Red Nail Goes Down

This took about 1 year of training...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Never Let Go by Dan John

I just finished reading Dan John's book Never Let Go and all I can say is I'm sorry I waited this long to read his work. This guy is an incredible author! I've seen his name thrown around on message boards but all I really knew about him was that he was a thrower and coach somewhere out mid-west. I had never read any of his stuff, and for that I was unfortunate.

Better late than never I suppose but reading this book earlier would have saved me a lot of misdirection in my training career. This is one of the best books I've read in a while and I put it up there with other favorites like Dinosaur Training, Power to the People and Rock Iron Steel. It has done me a lot of good to hear how Coach John breaks things down into such simple, simple concepts. One of my favorites parts of the book is right in the preface when he says,
There are three kinds of strength training:
1 - putting a weight overhead
2 - picking it off the ground
3 - carrying it for time or distance
The simplicity in that is beautiful. I think I've told that to everyone I've talked training to since I read it. I am a big fan of this kind of message, summary and presentation of information.

As I read this book, I was constantly reminded of the Bruce Lee quote about "simplicity being the height of cultivation". As someone who reads a lot and knows a lot about strength training, I could see how cultivated Dan John's training philosophies are and I could see that he knows a lot more than I do. And right after I would read something that would totally blow my mind, in the very next paragraph he'll write that he's not telling me anything I don't already know. In many cases he was right, but hearing training concepts distilled to such purity really helps refine ones own philosophy.

My favorite workout that he writes about is the One Lift a Day program. I first did this workout in 2003 in preparation for a strongman contest - this was long before I read anything by Dan John. In that workout I deadlifted 405 for 53 reps in 50 minutes. The last time I did this workout (Thanksgiving 08) I deadlifted 405 for 100 reps in 60 minutes. The One Lift a Day program is a great workout! But I thought I made it up! Apparently not because in June of 1979 Dan John squatted 315x30, 275x30, 225x30. I squatted 225x30 once and I thought I might die. Wait, in June of 1979 I was not even a year old. Hmm. Ok, I guess I didn't make that workout up but it's still one of my favorite workouts that I hate doing.

The subtitle of the book is "A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning" and I find it refreshing to have those things highlighted in a book on training. When training is such a large part of a persons life, and they've spent so long learning about training, and teaching training to others, you can't leave that stuff out in a book on training. This is exactly what I want to read about! I want to train, I want to learn and I want to live.

Dan John will tell you that everything he knows he has stolen from somebody else, in other words, he gives credit. Coach John, I will do the same when I steal from you!

Never Let Go is available at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Barefoot running PR is a PR

After a deadlift workout last week I ran my normal route of 1.5 miles of neighborhood hills. My best time is 15 minutes and this time I did it in 14 minutes in the Five Fingers!

The crazy part is I actually walked two small stretches after racing up some hills. It was probably less than 40 yds each time but I never walk this route! I've run this route as many as 6 times in one workout and never once walked it.

A couple days later my brother joined me for a workout and we hit a vertical push/pull and a horizontal push/pull (presses, pull ups, push ups and one arm rows). We did two sets each and went on a run.

Same thing - 14 minutes - however, afterwards we ran a couple 100m races. A couple of the neighborhood kids saw us and joined in. Dave and I tied at 2 and 2. It felt good for 228lbs of 31 year old to keep pace (and even beat) kids younger and lighter.

I'm feeling good about the bad shoes!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Two days later and my feet are sore!

Feet, calves, hamstrings and groin. I figured this much but I didn't expect the groin to be sore. I've never experienced soreness in the adductors from running before and I'm not sure how this relates to barefoot training.

I also have a little soreness in the left heel but this feels like a bruise. I'm pretty sure it was that first heel strike when I set off to run as I don't remember stepping on anything that would have caused it. I do remember my stride changing almost immediately from what I am used to (heel striking as with shoes).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vibram Five Fingers & Barefoot Running

So I finally broke down and bought a pair of the ugly foot glove shoes - the Vibram Five Fingers - . I got the all black ones because they are the least conspicuous and I figured if I wear them at night then maybe nobody will see them:) My wife said they should come with a face shield for when people throw things at you. :)

All joking aside, they are actually pretty damn comfortable and I'm getting used to their funny looks already.

I'm convinced of the reported benefits to training barefoot and I have held that opinion for years. From proprioception, balance, natural gait to running mechanics; it all makes sense - smart shoes make dumb feet.

It wasn't until I read this article - The painful truth about trainers - and until mc (a fellow KB instructor, and barefoot training advocate) scored a 40% discount for RKC's, did I decide to give the foot gloves a try.

My first time out with them consisted of a 1/2 run and four 100m sprints. The first thing I noticed was there was no heel strike in my stride. Much smoother run. The sprints weren't as fast as in running shoes (I normally wear the Nike Free 7.0) but I felt like I could run easier, if that makes sense. I also noticed my feet started to fatigue; they were definitely getting a workout. It'll be interesting to see if I have DOMS tomorrow in my feet, I've got a feeling I will.