OK so I tried the Crossfit Endurance tabata (8 x 20”on, 10” off) workout running in Vibram FiveFingers KSOs today for the first time. And no, as predicted, my feet didn’t get cold! I am really starting to get the “falling out of control” feel of the pose running and it feels like I am a comic book character when sprinting. So I decided to count the beats and found that I was doing the 20-sec intervals in 60-65 beats, or 180-195 bpm. Given that I am 6’3”, 190 lbs, that feels like Fred Flintstone running. It’s almost more taxing to decelerate for 10 seconds than to just keep it going. Anybody else have comments on the cadence they do for tabata? Interested in others’ experiences as this is new ground for me.
1. It takes about a month or more to adapt your muscles to the new style.
2. Overall mileage is way down, but speed and intensity is way up.
3. Knee/shin pain disappeared seemingly by magic.
4. 6 months in, my arches are still not strong enough and I have some work to do.
I think the thing missing from the article is that it assumes people will need time to get back to their “weekly mileage”. I have had a different experience altogether. I am running much less, and for maybe 1/3 of the distance I used to per-workout. I am not interested in getting back to “weekly mileage” because my whole approach to running has changed. Because of #2 and #3 above, I can hop out, bust out a 2-mile run at anaerobic threshold, and then do it again later or the next day because I am not needing a week for my knees to heal. I am no longer attempting to replicate a “chronic cardio” approach of running 10 miles at “utilization” pace and then hobbling around for 3 days after. THAT’s the real innovation here!
The big question is how will I do when it starts to snow – stay tuned for that one. My bet is that it will be no problem, because my feet will be working and flexing, which will keep them warm, vs. being frozen stumps immobilized in giant shoes. Ice is another matter altogether…
So I have a new project – a focus on hip, ankle, and lower back mobility in order to improve rowing performance. I have stiff hamstrings and ankles, as do many rowers who have focused for years on exercises that work the quadriceps exclusively.
My question is: what would be the effect if I could comfortably and safely get an extra inch of compression on the slide on each stroke? At its simplest, this would mean an extra inch through the pin, and would make it possible for me to gain the same length through the water with a shorter oar length. The effect would be easily measurable on the Concept 2 ergometer because splits on the machine are directly related to how long your pull on the chain is.
One way to work on this is to achieve good form in the truly deep squat. To date in Crossfit, I have tried to increase weight, but I just can’t get LOWWWWW with it because I am not flexible and my knees have traditionally hurt from running. Switching to a FiveFingers “barefoot” approach solved the latter, but the former is still there.
Here’s my plan:
1. Lighten the weight, go for perfect form. This is a sequence with 205 lbs, which I consider my new “PR” because it was done correctly with a rack to gauge my depth. Even though this is about 50lbs. less than my squat PR, my legs were cooked from it. You can see in the right hand picture that my mobility limitation is causing me to rotate a little at the bottom of the squat – gotta work on that!
2. Focus on mobility exercises for hip and ankle flexibility. I have been doing the deep squat (also called the “Asian Squat”, the “Indigenous Peoples’ Squat” and the “10 Minute Squat” as part of my warm up for both Crossfit and rowing. There is a funny video on “How to do the Asian Squat” linked from Mark Sisson’s blog and a post from Kelly Starrett on his Mobility WOD blog.
3. Measure the impact through the upcoming winter on the Concept2. More TBD on this.
I hope that this approach will not only help my rowing and Crossfit results, but will also help prevent lower back injury when doing heavy erg work this winter.