DarkerSide does running

I’d like to admit to you, dear reader, a bizarre affectation I’ve been indulging in over the last few weeks.

I’ve started running.

I’m also wearing the daft toe-glove-shoe things you can see artfully modeled above.

Even worse; I’m rather enjoying myself.

This affliction started when I realised that the sudden increase in commuting distance when we move house again in February was going to prove challenging if I didn’t start some kind of proper exercise beforehand. The daily 10km of gentle pedalling through flat urban Glasgow that I’m doing at the moment won’t exactly ease me in to 40km a day with 450m of climbing…

Lacking the time for spree of long rides, and with the Reluctant Runners thread on CityCyclingEdinburgh suggesting almost EPO-levels of fitness improvement could be gaining from a daily constitutional (in the non-euphemistic sense…), I decided to Start Running.

Fine, I hear you cry. But why the stupid shoes?

From past experience I know that I run with all the grace and efficiency of a drunken elephant in clogs. Loping strides that crash heel-first into the ground with every step, jarring joints and leaving me a broken marionette of aching ligaments and tired tendons. In a moment a boldness a few years ago I decided that the best way to resolve this was to acquire some Vibram Fivefingers – minimalist running shoes with absolutely no padding on the sole. This lack of give forces you to adopt your stride to a more natural forefoot strike that uses the natural spring of your leg to cushion each landing, instead of masking bad technique with shock-absorption built into the shoe. At least, so the marketing spiel said. I thought it was worth a go.

For whatever reason (idleness), I used the Fivefingers a few times when I got them, and they hadn’t seen the light of day since. I’ve now dusted them off and to the astonishment of all observers (me), they do appear to work. My legs are tired, sure, but my knees and ankles no longer feel like they’re not long for this world and my cadence is up to a healthy 180 (which Google assures me is good). I even managed ten kilometres last weekend, and only really stopped because one of the stitched logos on my shoe was starting to rub. For someone who hasn’t run in years, 10km on only the ninth run didn’t feel too shabby at all. I’m also getting steadily faster:

Graph of distance against time

(The blob size is distance, if you’re wondering.)

I’m convinced I’m in some honeymoon period where cycling fitness quickly converts to running fitness, resulting in tangible improvements every time I step out of the door (on Tuesday I beat my best times for 500m, 1km, 1 mile and 5 km, all in one run).

Personal best run graph

I’m not complaining. Whilst the effienct recumbent cycling position makes it hard to truly knacker yourself without taking a few hours, I can go for a half hour run after work, get a massive dump of endorphins, and still be back home in time to sort tea, bath and bedtime for mini-DarkerSide.

I may even have to open up a new category of posts on the blog.

See you out there!


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Be interested to hear your opinions of the Fenix – I’ve started running again and was looking at watches – the Fenix definitely appeals!

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