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Monday, November 14, 2011

A Crosstrainer Opens His Eyes and Loses His Shoes, Guest Post by Pete Kemme

Happy Monday folks!  Today's post is a guest post by my friend Pete Kemme.  I met Pete through our mutual friend, Jason Robillard.  Pete is a functional fitness expert, and the evil genius behind the website Kemme Fitness.  I've been learning from him and following his workouts for the past several months.  Let me tell you...Crossfit doesn't hold a candle to some of the mad workouts this guy comes up with.  He will wreck you...and you will like it.  You will also find yourself at Home Depot thinking of new ridiculous ways to use PVC pipe for something other than its intended purpose (like this for example).

I brought Pete in as a guest poster because I've been getting a lot of questions from readers on the topic of crosstraining.  I am, after all, a recovering meathead.  And as such, I can talk forever about my own thoughts on the subject.  And don't worry...I will be.  But on this subject there are a ton of different opinions and methods.  So I thought a different perspective would be also good....from someone with less of a running background. 

Although, as he'll tell you here...he's becoming more like us all the time.

A Crosstrainer Opens His Eyes and Loses His Shoes
By: Pete Kemme

What on earth happened? When did it happen? I am still not sure how the tables turned and I changed into one of them!

See for years now, I have been training and preaching to others, particularly runners, about the benefits of a Functional Fitness program. Last year I even created an 8 week program to try and convince—or ease—runners into a cross-training program.  I use the term "cross-training" when I talk to runners, as that seems to be the word they like to use. You all apparently have your own vocabulary.

Yeah, you guessed it. I am not a runner. In fact, I find you runners quite strange. You spend at least twice as much time exercising than I do per week and you put your bodies through so much wear and tear. I never understood what would cause a normal, rational human being to do that.

It took a while, but over time I eventually came to realize the answer. You all are addicts! I now look at my friends and coworkers who run the same as I look at crack addicts and gamblers. You poor folks—my heart truly goes out to you.

Now back to my preaching. I will make this a brief summary of my issues with runners. You only work along the Median or Sagittal plane and miss the other two (Coronal and Transverse). You lack variety. You neglect the majority of your body's muscles. You look strange in short shorts. Many of you have one or more types of bad posture. You are outside on crappy weather days. Many of you trudge along worrying about calories burned off. Others are focused on breaking PRs. Seriously, is that the only goals you folks can have? You are at higher risk for injury. The ones that run in better form are either barefoot or in weird looking shoes. Ever hear about balancing out your body? My goodness, I have to stop. I'm getting all worked up again.

Well onto my problem. It started years ago when my good friend, Jason Robillard, began barefoot running. Over the course of several years I came to understand and believe in the principals of running in better form. I still hated running and looked upon those that did in a sort of "gee, sorry you have that problem" sort of look. However, I wondered if some of the benefits of being shoeless would help me with my workouts.

So about a year ago I began to do my Functional Fitness workouts barefoot. After all, Olympic lifters have been doing that for years. And I found some surprising benefits. It increased my balance, of which is central to my program. I could move around weight more easily and more efficiently. I could truly feel my body was becoming a greater improved working machine, with even more muscles working together and engaging more neural connections.

But...yeah, there was a "but." I found a side effect. I started to enjoy being barefoot in general. I walked around everywhere barefoot. I annoyed my wife and embarrassed my daughters. I hated wearing shoes to work, and I had to spend money on new shoes (Merrell Tough Gloves) to wear. Not cool!

Then, something even more strange and disturbing happened. It was during the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven. We went there to visit my parents and my wife and I decided to go for a little run. I still hated running, but found that my knees didn't hurt when I wore aqua socks. However, I forgot my shoes that day and so decided to just wear a pair of my dad's old socks. You probably guessed what happened next. The run was wonderful. I felt everything. I had no pain and I instantly fell in love with the pavement. I even liked the tiny pebbles on the ground. The next thing I knew, I left the aqua socks behind permanently and have been running barefoot ever since. I do now have a pair of trail shoes for some Urban Runs and for trail running, as well as the cold weather coming up. But I am officially a barefoot runner.

I still can't understand how it happened. I can follow the progression, but I am still in denial. A runner? Me? I guess it is true. So now I am trying to figure out how to live life as a Functional Fitness slash runner. My severely addicted friends are all pushing me to run longer and to sign up for marathons and the like. I have to admit...the temptation is there. However, as with a Functional Fitness (er, cross-training) program, life is about balance. I will still maintain that. Just maybe sometimes I will be like my daughter sneaking an extra piece of Halloween candy, and disappear out on a long barefoot run.


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