Saturday, 28 December 2019

A hot, smokey start to summer

Given the number and extent of the bushfires it's no surprise that I'm still in Sydney. No plans to leave for the immediate future. The weather has been hotter and drying than normal. The fires have started earlier, are more numerous and burnt more than ever before. I'll stay in the city for the moment until the situation improves.

I'm feeling more confident on my feet lately. I've been walking a minimium of 12km daily, with some days of 24km. Smoke and heat have limited the larger days. The amount of time it takes has also been a factor. The Keen sandals have been working well, but I miss the open toes of real sandals. So, I've started wearing a pair of Merrell Mojave Sport sandals a couple of days ago. My kind of sandal - no toe box, so the toes wiggle free. Early days yet on them. I've have also patched the Vibrams - so still wearing them sometimes, depending on where or what I'll be walking on.

Besides the shoes, I've been looking at how my body moves. I had thought I knew how to walk. Like, how hard is it? We all get it worked out by about 15 months. I started watching how I walk and reading about gait. I realised how little I knew. It's terribly complicated all the bits that work together for locomation. Where are the feet are pointing, which bit hits the ground first, how hard, are you upright, or hunched forward, pushing off with the rear foot, and on and on.

And then when I started trying to monitor my own walking - what is that foot doing, I was reminded of this quote from Alan Watts, The Way of Zen:

"The centipede was happy, quite,
Until a toad in fun Said,
"Pray, which leg goes after which?"
This worked his mind to such a pitch,
He lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run."

I feel like the centipede. Watching how I walked or trying to change my gait, at times it feels like I can't walk. It is all too much to direct. I feel like a broken puppet and I can't walk unless I direct every action. At times I do end up stopped and need to forget about it for a while. With practice I'm getting better. Less broken feeling and more 'gliding along' times. It's a slow process. In the begining any change feel really weird, and require a huge amount of attention. This also triggers centipede freeze up.

Changes are slow. It takes time paying attention to have the change stick. It is so easy to drift back to the old way. It also takes times for muscles and tendons to adapt to some of the changes. Things hurt, ache or feel tired really fast. I have to pace the effort. A little bit each day, slowly increasing the length of time. Then one day, I notice that the change has stuck and it doesn't feel weird anymore.

I'm still working on it.

This has a bit of a guide about walking technique.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Footwear (again)

Not the post I was hoping to make.  My cart is still resting beside me and not adventuring along the roads (yet).

Since the last post there has been a seemingly never ending stream of unexpected events that delayed me.  The latest is back to my feet.

Also hoping that adding an update will stop the spam bots.  Maybe they look and see no updates and think the blog is abandoned and so try to post comments. Been getting a lot lately.

A tale of feet footwear sorrow follows.

Sadly I wore a hole in the sole of my Vibram Five Fingers. I returned to Barefoot Inc for another pair, but found their retail store has closed. The building is being refurbished. They are still in business online until they find a new location, but I'd rather try on shoes than do the order/return cycle. Specially as Vibram Five Finger sizing is all over the place. It is not the same size between models, and they keep changing the models. All the Vibrams I have had have been different sizes, and apart from one occasion, different models.  As much as I and my feet like Vibrams, it has been an the increasing hassle finding them. I also really want sandals, specially with summer on the way. Time to try something new.  Something more easily available.

Unshoes looked good. The Pah Tempe 2.0. I liked the strap placement so the toes can wave free, and the options for custom sole sizing. Ordered and they arrived quicker than expected. But I wasn't that happy with them.  The single strap adjustment is a compromise and the hold on the foot always feels loose. I'm still have them and continue to experiment with them, but the telling feature was I went back to wearing the Vibrams with the hole in the sole.

In frustration I tried on a pair of work shoes in Kmart. Heavy with the steel cap, but could work. Decided to look at hiking shoes just to get some shoes and get walking more.

Ended up with a pair of  Keen Newport H2. Pretty much a shoe with holes. I wavered on the sizing, and may have sized wrong with too large. Found out later there is a half size that might be a better fit.  Day one I walked 15 km in them and immediately had sore knees, feet and legs. Lesson: it takes adjustment after Vibrams, go easy.  That eventually settled down, and I was able to increase my walking distance. But now I'm working through blisters - heel, between the toes, and on the toe tips. I had preventative taped spots, but missed a couple - which did blister. Some might be because of callouses, but the heel blister is rubbing on the sandal. I'm not a fan of the moulded foot bed. Trying to decide if I sized wrong, or I just need to cut the moulding away in that spot.