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Suguru

Suguru the Barefoot Ranger

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Well, here goes my second challenge (and my first as a full-fledged Ranger). It will technically be a five-week challenge for me, as I don't finish my exams until the 14th and so I will be using every spare moment up until then to cram! 

 

Main Quest: 

 

To make exercise a natural, joyful and intrinsic part of my life. I want exercise to be something I do instinctively, something I look forward to, rather than just another chore to be crossed off my to-do list. I know this may take a while, and that I may have to treat working out as chore initially, but hopefully these coming weeks can help me to take a few first steps along that path! 

 

My fitness goals:

 

1. Run barefoot for 20 minutes (STA - 4 points)

 

I used to run barefoot back in high school, simply because I ran faster barefoot and found shoes so uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I have been wearing shoes to run for more than five years now and have completely lost the knack of landing on my forefoot and not my heel! I know it will take a while for my feet and calves to get used to the change in my stride so I plan on taking it very slowly to begin with. I don't expect to be able to go outside and run five 5k barefoot right away! I am planning to use the first five weeks of the couch-to-5k program that got me back into running initially, so that I can gradually increase the time I run for with breaks in between runs to walk. Grading will be as follows:

 

A - 20 or more minutes barefoot (4 points)

B - 15-20 minutes barefoot (3 points)

C - 10-15 minutes barefoot (2 points)

F - Less than 10 minutes barefoot (0 points)

 

2. Do pistol squats barefoot! (STR - 1 point, DEX - 3 points)

 

I can do unassisted pistol squats wearing shoes with a low heel. Barefoot, I can do either box pistol squats or assisted ones (holding on the edge of a table for balance). The issue for me is not so much that my legs aren't strong enough, it's that I lose my balance at the bottom of the squat and fall backward onto my bum. Not so classy! Even a two-inch heel gives me enough of a boost to be able to perform them, but I want to improve my balance and flexibility such that I can do pistols in bare feet. Like a boss. Or should I say, like Al Kavadlo: 

 

Grading will be as follows:

 

A - 5 or more barefoot pistol squats (1, 3 points)

B - 3 or 4 barefoot pistol squats (1, 2 points)

C - 1 or 2 barefoot pistol squats (1, 1 point)

F - Still unable to pistols barefoot (0 points)

 

3. Do 10 consecutive pull-ups (STR - 3 points)

 

In my first challenge I sought to make the seemingly impossible jump from 0 pull-ups to 1 pull-up. While I was unsuccessful in my attempt during those six weeks, I kept at it afterwards. My first pull-up happened only two weeks later! In the month and a half since then I have gone from 1 to 5 pull-ups, so I feel like 10 in five weeks should be reasonable. I really hope I am successful because that will mean I can do more pull-ups than my (male) gym-going mate who inspired me to try them in the first place! Grading as follows:

 

A - 10 or more pull-ups (3 points)

B - 8 or 9 pull-ups (2 points)

C - 6 or 7 pull-ups (1 point)

F - No improvement (0 points) 

 

Life-related "Side Quest":

 

4. Read the Bible daily (WIS - 4 points) 

 

I am a Christian and believe that spending time reading the Bible, meditating on it and praying are essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with my heavenly Father. That said, as with exercise, I often struggle to make time with God a natural, joyful part of my everyday life. I want to make Bible reading a habit. After all, "Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." (1 Tim 4:8) 

 

A - Bible reading 5+ times per week (4 points)

B - 4 times per week (3 points)

C - 3 times per week (2 points)

F - Less than 3 times per week (0 points) 

 

My motivation:

 

As before. To "run the race and keep the faith". I want to build habits that will stick with me through the rest of my life. After all, as FlyLady likes to remind me "Motivation gets you started but habit keeps you going". I was talking recently to a colleague about the concept of a "Life weight" - of maintaining a stable, healthy weight (plus or minus a kilo or two) throughout one's lifetime (not including pregnancies I suppose!) I'm not really sure whether the concept is a sensible one or not but I certainly like the idea of striving to maintain my current level of fitness into middle and old age. If I never allow myself to get "out of shape" I never have to get "back in shape"!

 

My Weekly Exercise Routine:

 

Monday - Modern Jive class (unrelated to any of my goals, but I love it, so I'm going to keep going!)

Tuesday - Run

Wednesday - Bodyweight workout

Thursday - Run

Friday -  Bodyweight workout

Saturday - Run

Sunday - Bodyweight workout 

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Barefoot barefoot. I don't own any minimalist footwear and I can't afford to buy any. We're coming up to summer where I live so cold is not an issue.  :smile-new:

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The last exam is over! Time to get started on my challenge! Although I said I wouldn't start worrying about my goals until I finished exams, I was going rather crazy studying non-stop on wednesday, so I did a quick body-weight workout at the local playground. I managed three sets of five assisted pistol squats (using the fireman pole to stabilise myself, not to pull myself up). I also did three sets of pull-ups to failure which turned out to be 6, then 5-and a half, then 4. Not too shabby if I do say so myself! I feel like the number of pull-ups I can do on a given day has almost as much to do with my self-confidence, how hot the day is and how long it's been since I last had a meal as has to do with my raw strength! 

 

I am planning on getting a free seven-day-trail to a local gym just to try it out and I'm hoping to do four full-body workouts (including squats, dead-lifts, bench and pull-ups) during the seven days. I know I will have to start very light because I have never lifted weights before, but I am also curious to see how much I can squat, DL and bench. Those of you who work out at a gym, I would be interested in your opinion.  Considering that I can do about ten good-form push-ups (on my toes), about 5 good-form pull-ups, 100 consecutive body-weight squats and about eight pistol squats holding on to a pole for balance, what would you estimate I should be able to lift for the big three? I know it's impossible to say for sure, but if someone is strong enough to do pistols, should she, in theory, be able to squat at least her bodyweight?

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Update: I decided to play it safe for my first session at the gym. 30 kg for squat and DL and just the bar (20kg) for bench. I did three set of five reps for each of the three. I asked one of the guys if my form was okay, and he said it was. That said, he may have just been being polite! Also, six pull-ups again! So I know it wasn't just a once-off fluke. Did some pistols as well, but not in bare feet! I thought the gym owners might object from a work health and safety point of view. 

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Well, my first official C25K barefoot run/walk is done! It went well, I think. I have been running very short distances barefoot here and there for a couple of weeks now (as in, when I'm walking to the park I will run for a minute, then stop and walk, then maybe run again) so I think I am getting the hang of the forefoot stride. My calves certainly don't hurt the way they did when I first tried it. Unfortunately it started raining quite hard toward the end of the half hour, so I had to cut it short, but I didn't miss any running time, only my "cool down" walk. Also, I got a bindi in my heel :( I usually run on the pavement to avoid the nasty little things but in this case was forced up onto the grass by an oncoming vehicle. Nothing a soak in warm water and a pair of tweezers couldn't solve! 

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Hello Suguru!

I love all of your goals. I tried the barefoot running with C25K and as the mileage picked up I started having issues with my Achilles. Mainly just soreness, which I tried to stretch out but it lingered for a long time so I switched back to a stability shoe after going to running shoe store. I would suggest a good stretch of the tendon after each run to avoid my mistake. I do think you are in much better shape (Pistol Squats!) than I was so I hope you don't have issues.

As for weight training, I assume you could squat your BW if not more. I would definitely try to find your max by taking some time and doing it. This will gibe yk u a better idea for working set weights. You should definitely be able to DL your. BW. As for bench, probably 3 times what you did. Make sure to get someone to spot you!

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2

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Thanks for commenting, Alex! I am definitely aware of the potential for damage to my achilles. My uncle ruptured his some years ago so I know how excruciating it is and how long rehabilitation can take. I have been stretching after every run so far. I used to even before I started barefoot so it's not like it's a new habit I have to remind myself to do! Thanks also for your advise regarding max lifts. I would love to have someone spot me but unfortunately I'm going to the gym alone and I feel a bit shy to ask a total stranger to spot me. As an untrained female, even walking into the weight section is terrifying, let alone approaching some super-strong guy to ask for a spot! 

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Also, I was initially planning to go back to the gym today, but I discovered that my free trial is only valid in staffed hours, which does not include Sunday. It's probably a good thing, since I'm still incredibly sore from my last gym session. (Especially my legs, my goodness, going up and downstairs has never been so excruciating!) Hopefully the DOMS will be gone by tomorrow and I can head back to the gym and take a shot at a 40kg squat and DL and a 25kg bench. 

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Thanks for commenting, Alex! I am definitely aware of the potential for damage to my achilles. My uncle ruptured his some years ago so I know how excruciating it is and how long rehabilitation can take. I have been stretching after every run so far. I used to even before I started barefoot so it's not like it's a new habit I have to remind myself to do! Thanks also for your advise regarding max lifts. I would love to have someone spot me but unfortunately I'm going to the gym alone and I feel a bit shy to ask a total stranger to spot me. As an untrained female, even walking into the weight section is terrifying, let alone approaching some super-strong guy to ask for a spot! 

 

Cool! I just like to mention it because it became a setback to me when I started barefoot running. I wanted to run more than to be barefoot, so I switched to regular shoes. I'm hoping to get back into barefoot shoes with some nice barefoot shoes for work.

 

Don't be too intimidated. Most people are willing to help! You could always ask the gym employee, they're usually helpful and might know who to ask for a spot.

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Update: Gym went well, I was able to do six-and-a-half pull ups (the seventh my form was pretty dodgy!), bench 25 kg 3x5 and squat 40 kg 3x5. For DL I did a set of five with 30kg and then had a go at 40. I was able to lift it, but I didn't try and do sets because this was at the end of my workout and I was pretty worn out. I know that form is particularly important for deadlifts. Also, I got up the courage to ask for a spot when I was squatting 40kg and the guy I asked was very polite about it and a total gentleman. It may have helped that the gym was pretty empty and he was pretty much done with his workout. 

 

Modern Jive last night was lots of fun. They were short ladies so I pretty much danced every song! It was rather exhausting actually, I would go to sit down or have a drink of water and almost instantly I would get asked for another dance! Not that I'm complaining :) 

 

Regarding bible reading so far I have done it every day since the eleventh except for yesterday because I got home late from dance and pretty much crashed straight away! 

 

Today is a barefoot Run day but I'm not sure if I'll have time for it as I'm having some friends over for a game of DnD and I'm cooking them dinner. Hopefully I can squeeze it in at some point. 

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Week 1 of 5 update:

 

Barefoot running - I have completed two of three planned C25K runs and also did one short barefoot run today on the way to the park for my bodyweight workout. 

 

Pistol squats - I'm still not able to do them unassisted and barefoot. I did three sets of five assisted pistols each leg today.

 

Pull-ups - I can do seven on the parallel bars at the gym but not on the single bar at the park. 

 

Bible reading - 5 out of 7 days

 

The seven-day gym free trail that I have been using this week has expired now so I will be able to focus more directly on my actual challenge goals! 

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Week 2 of 5 update:

 

Barefoot running - Again, missed one scheduled run. I am doing well though. I had no trouble with the slightly longer runs in Week 2 of C25K and no calf pain anymore. 

 

Pistol squats - I did one unassisted barefoot pistol squat on my right leg today but couldn't do one on my left without falling over. I have been consistent in practicing them, though. 

 

Pull-ups - seven at the park 

 

Bible Reading - 6 out of 7 days

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Week 3 of 5 update:

 

Barefoot running - missed yesterday's workout due to injuring my neck while jumping on the trampoline. I'm not as young as I once was!

 

Pistol squats - same as last week

 

Pull-ups - Eight! (and three wide-grip)

 

Bible Reading - 6 out of 7 days 

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Hey Suguru,

 

Congratulations on the R leg pistol! Hopefully the left is coming up soon!

 

Your pull up reps are also rising incredibly quickly. What is your next step (or variation) you are aiming for after you hit 10 consecutive?

 

I hope you can make the next Sydney NF meet up :)

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What's the trick with pistol squats? Is it strength or balance or something else? How did you pick them?

 

There's strength involved obviously, but I know a lot of blokes who can back squat their body weight and still can't manage pistol squats. I think the strength component is the easiest to work on, really. I have been "strong enough" do them for a while now, but would still wobble and fall over at the bottom of the squat when I tried them unassisted. The other two components are balance (which I have always lacked - dancing is a serious struggle...maybe that's why I do partner dancing, so I have a man to hold me upright!) and flexibility. Particularly being able to dorsiflex to the angle required. That's why I have been able to do them in high heels but not barefoot - the extra boost from the heel means you don't have to dorsiflex as much! (Seriously, find a girl with big enough feet, borrow her heels and give it a go!)

 

In response to your question of how I picked them up, I have basically used Al Kavadlo's progression to work on them. Here's a good video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Yuq9pD7JY

 

Hope that helps! 

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Hey Suguru,

 

Congratulations on the R leg pistol! Hopefully the left is coming up soon!

 

Your pull up reps are also rising incredibly quickly. What is your next step (or variation) you are aiming for after you hit 10 consecutive?

 

I hope you can make the next Sydney NF meet up :)

 

Thank you! I hope so too - my left leg is neither as strong nor as flexible as my right so it may take a while but we will see. 

 

I was actually just thinking about the "next step" re pull-ups the other day. I guess it will be weighted pull-ups or wide grip pull-ups or maybe both. I will have to get creative with weighted ones though as I don't have a weight belt - perhaps a backpack with books in it? Out of curiosity I looped my (3 kg at the time) handbag over my neck and tried a couple this morning. I was able to do two without much difficulty. 

 

I hope I can make the next meet as well! Did you guys (and Hatter) have fun at the last one? 

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Thank you! I hope so too - my left leg is neither as strong nor as flexible as my right so it may take a while but we will see. 

 

I was actually just thinking about the "next step" re pull-ups the other day. I guess it will be weighted pull-ups or wide grip pull-ups or maybe both. I will have to get creative with weighted ones though as I don't have a weight belt - perhaps a backpack with books in it? Out of curiosity I looped my (3 kg at the time) handbag over my neck and tried a couple this morning. I was able to do two without much difficulty. 

 

I hope I can make the next meet as well! Did you guys (and Hatter) have fun at the last one? 

 

Weighted and wide grips seem like worthy progressions. You could also try to work on getting extra height through an explosive pull (ie chest to bar pull ups).

 

The meet up was lots of fun. I was more than a little apprehensive about meeting 3 new people who all knew each other from a previous meet up... but it was surprisingly easy to talk to everyone, since we had 2 big areas in common (our nerdiness and love of fitness).

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