Thoughtful running..being present in your run.

I was out for my ‘easy’ run this morning.

Supposed to be 1 hour and easy Zone 1-2. At least that is what is on the plan that I am revisiting at the moment.

So when selecting a @wearenation podcast, looking for ~1 hour, my decision was made easy by the most recent one featuring Brian MacKenzie

Continue reading “Thoughtful running..being present in your run.”

When is Minimalism too much?

Lower and lower, sleeker and faster, lighter shoes is what we all want.

In my opinion, transitioning to a minimalist shoe for many may be a step too far.

When transitioning to a minimalist shoe ‘form’ should be the first consideration. Do you naturally run as a forefoot striker or a heel striker?

If you are a forefoot striker naturally, ie. without forcing it or thinking about it when you slip off your shoes and run, do you land on the front, outside of your foot as per the diagram below?

Barefoot Forefoot Strike

If this is you, then it should be no bother to you to effect a transition process to a minimal shoe. Depending on where you are starting from we would expect to see this transition period having different durations for each individual.

If, on the other hand, you are more of a midfoot striker or heel striker you have a lot more work to do to achieve a smooth, injury free transition to minimalist shoes.

Barefoot Heel Strike

Transitioning from this position is a much more gradual change as you are having to work on changing your natural form, re-mapping neuromuscular pathways and developing core strength to help stabilise the pelvic area which will become more active during the transitional phases.

Speak to us about this as invariably you will be best advised to rotate between your traditional shoe and minimal shoes more frequently to prevent tweaking connective tissues or causing injury.

The series of images below graphically represent and explain the differences in the loading of the feet during the landing phase and the effect on capturing and releasing kinetic energy on the propulsive phase.

Running Kinematics

Heel Striking

Forefoot Striking




Hip and knee are flexed.
Ankle is dorsiflexed (toes point up). Ankle is plantarflexed (toes point slightly down). Foot is usually slightly inverted (the sole is angled inwards).
Land on the middle to outside of the heel just below the ankle joint. Land on outside of the forefoot (the ball of the foot, just below the 4th and 5th metatarsal heads).
As you land, the ankle begins to plantarflex (toes move towards the ground). As you land, the ankle begins to dorsiflex (heel moves towards the groud).
Arch of the foot is not loaded. Arch of the foot is loaded and begins to stretch/flatten.
Impact  Foot Flat Barefoot Heel Strike

Barefoot Foot Flat
Barefoot Forefoot Strike

Barefoot Foot Flat
Knee and hip flex.
As the ankle plantarflexes, the forefoot comes down. As the ankle dorsiflexes, the heel comes down under the control of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon, which are stretching.
Foot Flat Midstance Barefoot Foot Flat

Barefoot Midstance
Barefoot Foot Flat

Barefoot Midstance
Knee and hip continue to flex.
The ankle dorsiflexes as the lower leg moves forward relative to the foot and the foot everts (rolls inward).
Now that the whole foot is on the ground, the arch begins to stretch/flatten. The arch continues to stretch/flatten.
This combination of eversion, ankle dorsiflexion and arch flattening is called pronation. This combination of eversion, ankle dorsiflexion and arch flattening is called pronation, but occurs in the reverse direction compared to heel striking (from the forefoot to the rearfoot not heel to toe).

Toe Off

Barefoot Midstance

Barefoot Toe Off
Barefoot Midstance

Barefoot Toe Off
Ankle plantarflexes bringing the heel off the ground (calf muscles and Achilles tendon now shorten).
Foot’s arch recoils, and the toes flex.
These actions push the body upwards and forwards for the next stride.

Images and table layout from

In transitioning, a natural heel lander has to overcome the tendency to load the arch in a forward motion. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles the best way to naturally change your landing pattern is through a mixture of your ‘normal’ running and some focused efforts at re-teaching your body what natural (forefoot) running form is all about.

Any questions please fire them at me!

Happy running 🙂

Exercise or Training ??

The first third of 2013 is over and I’m looking back at my training diary since the start of the year. Training Diary

While I haven’t been blogging about it I have been logging the sessions. The stand out question that I now have to ask myself is, have I been training? or just exercising?

The distinction has got to be made between exercising with a specific purpose in mind, ie. target races and a planned structured approach to getting fitter, faster and leaner and just exercising to get fitter and diet to get leaner.

I’ve been fairly consistent in knuckling down to doing sessions but with no big balance in the week or any structure.

I set out my stall in January with some Goals rather than Resolutions for 2013. Technically while I have entered x2 of the three middle distance races I targeted (Tri an Mhi and the Humbert Challenge) and plans are afoot for Amsterdam Marathon in October, I have missed my first stated goal of weight loss.

I’m not too upset by this, I’m still 5kg off the mark. I can become ultra serious about this and lose the weight or I can enjoy the odd beer and slice of cake.

Mrs AKW's chocolate biscuit cake

I like cake! 🙂


If you look at the calendar to date you can see the rather sporadic nature of the sessions. SOme weeks really good and others with nothing. Now, swim sessions are not included in this calendar as I use a Garmin Swim for recording those, however, swim sessions have been thin on the ground as I decided not to rejoin my gym. I was solidly doing Monday / Wednesday and Friday sessions just before I would go to work, right up until the pool was closed to members on account of a schools session. (It’s a membership gym which has hired out the pool, due to child protection they close the pool. Fair enough, but excuse enough for me to stop swimming!)


Good solid month to start the year, like most people, motivation is high and the promises to self are still clear.

  • 138k running (treadmill, trail & road)
  • 8k swimming
  • 301k bike (indoors & out). January was also the scene of the crime for my first foray into bike FTP testing.

Jan 2013


Again not too bad, no major rhyme or reason. Mostly trying to tick off the Polar endurance training sessions for the run. Supposed to be working towards the Rock and Road Kinvara Half Marathon in March but if I’m completely honest I was struggling with tiredness, uncertain of my running on account of the injury last autumn and really busy with work so there was no real focus.

Still tried to tick off  a tempo run and several steady runs through the week. Also long runs on Saturday as I ran in & out to meet our #Zero25k group session.

  • 140k running
  • 4k swimming
  • 204k bike

Feb 2013


Brilliant start as I ran a super PB in the Kinvara Half Marathon of 01:39:51!

I’ve no idea where this result came from and looking at the data it was perfectly paced and comfortable for me. Maybe all the marathon training last autumn is still standing for something!?

I did sit back a bit in the week month or so after the half (recovery!) but managed another bike FTP which had a small increase.

  • 104k run
  • 0k swim
  • 179k bike

March 2013


With race season imminent I finally gave myself a shake and started out the month the right way.

A week’s holiday in Lanzarote with the family. Lovely place to do some running, a bit of swimming and just to relax in a bit of sunshine and warmth.

I returned with a bit of vigour (blog post on my ‘Volcano Run’ to foll0w) and started hitting training targets properly. It helps that a pal and myself keep up the regular longer run on Saturday mornings too.

  • 158k run
  • 3k swim (Open water)
  • 284k bike

April 2013

First race coming up on 18th May, the goal is to keep ticking off the running sessions, continue with 2 turbo sessions per week (focusing on strength / power) x1 steady outdoor session on the bike and get into the sea for some open water swims. Brick sessions with decent effort on the bike followed by progression runs will also feature weekly.

So to answer my openign question, I think I’ve mostly been exercising this year, time to get training!

Roll on the second third of the year!

Tipping the scales

The difference a couple of stones make

Being injured is no excuse for being lazy.

After  the Predator Triathlon Club night on Saturday night / early Sunday morning, it’s safe to say, doing a morning weigh in after the night before, is probably not one of my brighter ideas. But I did and suffice to say, being tired and having a sore head are the least of my problems.

Time to get off my ass, work around any current limitations and step away from the biscuit tin. This year it has taken me 6 months to drop 4kg and only 4 weeks to put them right back where they were.

Time for them to go again, for good. 

Back to structured eating, sleeping and training from today. 

First, maybe just one more Chocolate Kimberley….

Just cos it says Elite

Therapy !?

I think I’ve done myself a mischief! I’ve done a right job on myself.

After a full season training without so much as a niggle I really went for it when I hit the Aillwee trails.In fairness being injury free was a much down to regular visits to Greg Maclean as it was being careful and not over doing anything in training. Greg is a Neuromuscular Rehabilitation Therapist (NMRT for short) and what he does is magic!

With a bit of a chat to discuss any problems he will identify any potential issues with a few well placed thumbs (which I’m convinced he sharpens with a parer cos he hits the sensitive spots bang on) he will outline the course of action he’s going to follow. It can be anything from a straight forward sports massage, to deep tissue massage, dry needling or his latest card trick, which I discovered today, electro-stimulus of needles.

Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s not new to the game, its just a new ‘card trick’ for me.

When he says “I’m gonna suggest something, and you won’t like it” I know it involves needles.

I thought fine, go ahead, you’ve done it before. Then he starts rooting at a cart with wires hanging off it and I swear there was a hint of a maniacal smile playing on his face as he said, “I’m going to pass a pulse through the needles”.

Hooked up to Dr Frankenstein’s machine

Not going into a blow by blow account of what he did to me today. Essentially he inserted fine needles into a couple of trigger points around the injured area and passed an oscillating current through the needle to stimulate blood flow in the injured tissue.

The reasons, he outlined, are because the area around the knee cap (patella) is mostly supportive tendons and ligaments linking the upper and lower leg and providing attachment points for the leg muscles. Tendon & ligament are unlike muscle tissues in that they have a limited circulatory system service which means they don’t heal as quickly or easily as other soft tissue.

So the way I’m hooked up the two mini-jumpleads with the yellow cabling are passing a current into the area below my knee cap. Its like there’s two little Leprechauns with mini lump hammers tapping away at the area really furiously, not pleasant but not uncomfortable.

The blue leads are into the attachment area of the tendons supporting the side of the knee cap and where the quad muscles are wrapping around onto the lower leg. Same sensation as above and all of a sudden my knee feels like its the face of a Leprechaun quarry.

The grey cables are for the craic. They are stimulating the quad muscles. Basically because I’m not using the left quad the body is atrophying the muscle and it is decidedly noticeable, at this stage 5cm circumference difference left to right quad. By passing a current into this leg he is activating the muscles and hopefully giving them a workout while I sit on my ass.

How does this work? Just look at the video below to see the muscle at work.

After 30 minutes of this I felt like I’d done a proper workout on just my left leg.

Greg also recommended that I start taking Serrapeptase to help prevent the development of scar tissue within the knee and to help reduce the bursitis bubble.

If you need any information on Greg or on any of the treatments he offers in his rooms in Kilcolgan, just check out his website for more information.