Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.


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Rubber Feet?

Caveman running

I’ve been asked quite a few times lately what I think of those FiveFinger shoes, aka Barefoot runners, Skeletoes, etc. You know what they are…those shoes that look like Rubber Feet.* Remember toe socks? Like those, but made outa rubber.

The thinking behind Rubber Feet is that modern-day running shoes provide too much support and cushion, therefore changing the biomechanics of running, causing injury. They use the example of how children run before they walk, and that they seem to launch at full speed everywhere sans shoes. They also claim that cavemen used to run for miles and miles just fine sans fancy shoes. Apparently donning Rubber Feet is like being barefoot, but with a thin barrier between you and the earth. Call it, Paleolithic-old-school and the answer to pain-free running.

Here’s what I think (brace yourself). First of all… sure, kids run like crazy for a few yards in the grass or inside the house, not down the road for 10k, or up some single track covered with rock. The caveman point is especially fun as I’ve never seen a caveman that didn’t appear to have walked all hunched over looking like he was in unbearable pain. My guess is, his feet his back and everything else hurt because he spent all day running on rock! Not only that, but cavemen only lived for about 20 years. I bet if they had to run around for another 30 years sans shoes they’d have figured out how to stitch up some nice fat pads for their trashed tootsies.

Basically, I don’t buy the Rubber Feet hype. In my mind it doesn’t add up, they look incredibly stupid, they make an annoying slapping sound as they trot along, more seriously, I’ve never once seen a person wearing them that didn’t look like they were in severe pain. During my last half marathon (on the trail) my Asics Trail Runners and me started just behind a young man wearing a pair of Rubber Feet. When the whistle blew the man took off running, a mile and a half up the road I passed him as he limped along delicately navigating each small pebble in the trail. I never saw him again, guessing he didn’t finish.

If your feet hurt when you run then you need to learn how to run properly. If you don’t support proper running form and mechanics, your shoe choice will not change anything. Learn proper running form and then play around with footwear if you like. My suggestions, hire a running coach, attend a clinic or take a class. Don’t just jump on the Rubber Feet bandwagon.

Now…I realize that I’m not being completely fair, as I have not personally tried to run in Rubber Feet. I am only sharing my educated opinion. With that, if you wish to prove me wrong and or convince me that running in Rubber Feet is a good thing, I invite you to send me a pair and I will happily try them, and revise my post accordingly. I take a size 9.

P.s. If you want to run barefoot, go to the beach and run in the sand. That’s something I approve of whole-heartedly. Stand tall, pick your knees up and have fun!

* The term Rubber Feet is a Kelleyism used to refer to “shoes” that look like fat rubber feet, make annoying slapping sounds when they hit the ground, look stupid and don’t make sense, in her mind.

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Hot slithery love

Photo by bejdigudi-zlati

Snake Love

Earlier this week I was trundling along the path that parallels Baker Beach and runs along the road traveling from the beach up to the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was late morning and there was lots of warm sunshine beaming down.  As I moved up the path I began to see fat, appetizer-sized lizards running all over the place. From the path to the road and to the brush again.  Dozens of them. Frankly I can’t remember the last time I saw a lizard that big outside of the zoo and so many of them at once.  They startled me at first and then I started to worry that I’d smush one or worse, smush one and slide on it twisting my ankle again (I can hear the lectures now).

Then, just about the time I was cresting the hill and getting over my fear of a lizard slip and slide I spied a garden snake quickly slithering off the path to get out of my clumsy way.  Ack! I hate snakes, talk about jacking your heart rate up! Thankfully the poor thing saw me coming and ran off as I screamed.  That was the second time this month I’ve come across a snake on the trail.  My friend Dora was with me the first time, that time when I saw the snake I jumped behind her as I screamed.  Guess that wasn’t very nice, using Dora as a shield.

Anyway, in the newspaper this past Sunday I read an article titled “Looks like year of the snake, again.”  The first line in the article is, “Sex can be dangerous, even with the softest of hearts.” That’s what got me reading.

The gist is, with all the rain this past winter there are hordes of little animals running around out there. Something about high soil moisture gives rise to high reproductive success for everything from mice up to rabbits. With that, there’s lots of good stuff to eat for snakes especially rattlesnakes. Plenty of food and the effects of the warm spring days trigger chemicals in the brain that say, get busy making babies.  In this case baby snakes. Apparently the slithery links like to love eachother right out in the open while soaking up the warmth of the heated ground. According to the article, not even an earthquake could distract a snake while absorbed in “relations.” Point is, they won’t see you coming so you gotta keep an eye out for them. Riding your bike over, or stepping on a rattlesnake is gonna send you to the hospital. But you know that.

I’m not too worried about this rattlesnake business. I like seeing the animals. Not the snakes so much but the rest of them. Just keep your eyes open.

Consider yourself briefed.


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Is the Universe trying to tell me something?

Not again!

I did it again, sprained my ankle. The same one I messed up a few months ago. It sucks, I’m not a good sick person and I don’t deal well with immobility. I was running on the trail about 2 miles from my car and like the last time, my foot just turned under. Me, my favorite Lululemon togs and a sexy white tank top all became airborne just in time to for a slew of Trail Worker Dudes to witness the calamity. Landing, I slid along the path picking up leaves and sludge turning my white top into a camouflage print. Like I always do when I fall, I screamed. It’s a reflex I have no control over and it does well to magnify the peril. Once on the ground I looked up to see 3 very cute young guys standing about 20 feet away looking at me in shock. They just stood there looking at me with wide eyes. Maybe the scream frightened them? Nobody said a word, they just looked at me. Feeling a bit foolish I let them know that I was okay. ”No worries, I’m fine, this happens to me a lot.” Then one of them said, “Are you sure?” “Oh yea, I’m fine.” At that point they mounted their official vehicle and I was left to stumble back to my car some two miles.  As I dragged my rapidly swelling foot along the trail I began to speak out loud using words that might cause one to assume that I was deranged. Then the tears started to come. Poor me, I fell again! Life sucks, whatever will I do now? I might as well just lay down and die. Poor, poor me!

Everyone has had setbacks at one time or another. The only way to survive is to adapt. So I won’t be able to go for a walk on the beach tonight or run this weekend but I can certainly do plenty of other things.  I’m just going to have to look outside of my little box and find new and wonderful things to do.

It’s important to be adaptable and creative in all areas of life. If one thing doesn’t work then you have an opportunity to try something new.  Maybe my fall today was the Universe’s way of telling me to pay more attention to my bike or to work a little harder on my upper body. My arms are starting to look a little saggy…

I have to look at this as an opportunity and use it to my advantage. Something tells me that if I do this right I’ll be better for having had this little spill. After all, I’m a Scorpio, you can’t take us down, when we rise, we rise up even stronger.


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Train your feet?

Foot Love

I’ve had many wonderful trainers and coaches in my life but not one of them has ever told me to train my feet. Fortunately, I managed to figure this out on my own through various aches, pains and research.

If your feet aren’t fit then how do you expect the rest of your body to be? Your feet support three times your body weight when you walk, when you run they support seven times and when you jump, 10 times your body weight! Think about that!

When we exercise we usually focus on everything but our feet.  When your feet hurt that affects your ankles, knees, hips and lower back. Remember, The anklebone is connected to the knee bone.  Keep your feet in top form, and they’ll support the rest of your body making everything you do in your life a little easier.

Here are a few suggestions on how to keep your feet happy.

Stretch your arches every day – I like to sit on my shins, butt resting on my heals with toes curled under. You can also stand with your toes against a wall (one foot at time) and lean slightly into the wall until you feel a stretch along the bottom of the foot. Do each foot twice. If you don’t like those ideas, just sit on the floor and pull your toes back with your hand. The idea is to stretch the bottom of the foot.

Stretch your toes – Squeeze your toes together (they might crack) and hold for a few seconds, then flex them up. Do this a few times every day.

Don’t forgetAnkle Circles and Toe Points to keep the supporting joints flexible.

Stimulate the bottom of your feet – The soles of the feet are extremely sensitive due to a high concentration of nerve endings. Post workout give ‘em a nice soapy scrub with the loofah to wake up all those neurons & synapses. A little lotion massage after is always a good idea too.

Rule of thumb – As soon as you’re finished working out take off your shoes. Your feet will swell from the workout (or hard day at work) so give em’ room to breath.

Running Shoes – Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles.

Best foot friendly places to run – Rubber Track, Treadmill, Grass, and Dirt.

Any questions?

Giddy up!


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Code Yellow!

I gotta go!

I know a guy that once worked for one of those package delivery services (you know, like FedEx or UPS). One day he had to go to the bathroom so badly that he simply could not hold it anymore.  With no public restroom in the vicinity he was forced to empty his bladder into one of those (previously unoccupied) padded envelopes, as he hid from view in the back of his delivery van. While this story makes me laugh every time I think of it, I can definitely sympathize.

As a former elite bicycle racer with many hours in the saddle I know all to well what it’s like to be on the edge of dampening my drawers.  In the sport of bike racing there are skills that one learns allowing them to take care of such matters sans stopping your bike. Such skills are not easily mastered and in my experience used only as a last resort. Kind of like the situation above.

The bottom line is (no pun intended), we’ve all been in situations where we had to “go” and there was no designated place, to go. On that note I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk about the dos and don’ts of “going on the fly,” or “Code Yellow” as I prefer to say.

First of all public urination is against the law. While in the countryside it’s more acceptable than in town, it’s still illegal.  National Parks may seem like the country but they are not. It would be bad to get caught going in a National Park. Be aware and be as respectful as you can while committing such an act.

Find a spot out of view of others. We don’t need to see you, it’s not that funny! Please don’t leave paper or other “business” lying around. Take it with you or burry it. Also remember, if you expose yourself in public you can be put on the sex offenders’ list.  That can’t be good!

My friend Penny just reminded me that it’s also advisable to check for poison oak prior to dropping your drawers in the bush.  A case of poison oak on your undercarriage can really put a damper on things.

If you want me to teach you how to pee while riding your bike I can do that. However, it’ll cost you…


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Don’t bother me I’m sweating!

(An addendum to Yikes, critters in my path)

I should have said this before but forgot, it’s worth mentioning so here I go.

Rule #1 – Never, ever run up to a woman while she’s working out and tell her that you like her ass. That line only works when we’re drunk and even then you better be damn hot!

Rule # 2 – Don’t tell her that you’ve seen her around before.  You annoyed her with the first bit and now you’re freaking her out.

Rule # 3 – When she picks up her pace and politely turns you down for a date, do not under any circumstances keep trying. You’re done.

Do I sound cranky?  I was, but I’m not anymore.

Carry on…


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Yikes, critters in my path!

I was walking along Crissy Field the other day when I spotted a crowd of people standing around a pile of sand.  As I walked past one of men said to me “what is that?” He was pointing at a gopher that was popping out of a hole in the sand. I chuckled and said, “it’s a gopher.” A woman then said, “What do we do?” I chuckled again and said, leave him alone.

Further down the path I began doing some walking lunges.  Just then a dog that had been walking behind me with it’s owner started barking.  I stopped and looked back to see the woman scolding the dog.  She then apologized for her dog’s outburst.  I appreciated the gesture but knew that I was the one to blame, I had frightened the dog by my sudden change in movement.  I then asked the woman if I could say hello to her dog, when she agreed I knelt down to the dogs level, put my hand out for him to sniff and said hello. The fluffy fellow then ran up to me and licked my face as I pet him and explained to Dude (that’s his name) that I was just exercising and that he had no reason to be afraid.  The woman was very thankful and happy to have encountered a person who understood that her dog did not mean any harm.

It was at this point that I realized that some of us become confused when we encounter strange critters in our path.

Here are a few basic rules I thought would be worth remembering.

Basic human etiquette

  • Don’t hog the entire path.
  • Bikes yield to pedestrians and both bikes and pedestrians yield to horses.
  • Don’t litter & pick up your doggie doo.
  • Smile or nod at those you pass. Be nice.

Dogs in your path

  • You really should not bug dogs too much.  Don’t run up to a dog or approach them. Let them come to you. If a dog comes up to you to have a sniff, let it. If you want to pet the dog ask the dogs owner if it’s okay. Sometimes they will say “no,” but most of the time the owner will be happy to let you have some doggie love.  First show the dog the top of your hand (fingers closed under). Once you’re sure the dog is friendly, open your palm to so it can see that you have nothing hidden in your hand. Get down to the dogs level (squat down) so you appear the same size and it’s not intimidated by a larger animal (that would be you). Never put your face down by the dog’s mouth unless you’re pretty darn sure it’s friendly.

If you encounter a horse on the trail

  • Communicate to those on horseback as you approach. If you’re approaching from behind, warn them of your presence before you pass. All you have to do is say, “hello, nice day”. Just let them know you’re there and that you’re friendly.
  • The rider should reign the horse to the side, allowing you room. When a horse is passing you, step off the trail to give the horse plenty of room, but remain in plain sight. When you’re passing a horse, do the same.

If you see a coyote

  • Give the coyote space. Do not approach the coyote. They say if you see a coyote you should scare it so it will go away. Wave your arms around, yell at it and throw rocks.  I’ve run into coyotes in the middle of the city as well as on the trail. I’ll admit I stop in my tracks but never have I had to throw anything or yell.  In my experience the poor hungry soul will just walk away on its own.
  • Take note – There have been some episodes of coyotes going after pets so put dogs on a leash so your pet will not be enticed to chase after the coyote. The closer your pet is to you the safer it is.

In the end – Enjoy your encounter with the critters. I leave you with a quote from John Muir.

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.”