Kristian Eilersen is a 27 young and dynamic runner from Aarhus, and he is the most devoted Green Machine ambassador we have. He has been with Green Machine since the beginning, helped us building what the brand is today and we would like to tell more about him.
Running is his main discipline and preferably long distance. His personal best are for a marathon 3:19, half marathon 1:27 and 39 minutes for 10 kilometers race. He likes to play around with triathlon and ran many half Ironman and Olympic distances: he was 3 times finisher of an Ironman with his last timing being 10:45. Kristian is also a barefoot runner since 2013.
Barefoot, but why? Back in 2010, Kristian ran his first marathon with his older brother. In the last part of the race, he got into some problems with his knee. This made him slow down and finishing in the “brilliant” time of 4:27. The injury kept him from running on hard surfaces, so he kept playing football, which was his main sport at that time.
Running came back in Kristian’s life when he started studying at Aarhus university. His new time schedule did not allow him to play on the high level of football that he wanted. So, he slowly moved into running. But short after starting up again, the knee problems came back. He read books and articles on the topic and scouted the internet for solutions. This research let our ambassador to a YouTube video (“Terra Plana – Learning the skill of barefoot running” [link at the end of the article]) where a person was describing the bio-mechanics of the body, and especially how humans are supposed to run. To recode our muscle memory in order to run as we are designed to, one should do some drills and run short distances.
Green Machine: What do you mean by “run as we are designed to”? Quickly can you also say what is wrong about running with shoes?
Kristian Eilersen: What I mean by saying ‘running as we are designed to’ is this. Most of runners are what we call heel stickers. This is when you are letting the heel hit the ground and then roll the rest of the foot to the offset. It is the same thing we do when walking. When we walk, letting the heel hit the ground is not a problem because we only are adding 1 time our body weight on our heel. But when we run, we are putting down 2 times our body weight or even more on our heel. The reason that we can run as a heel striker is the shoes that we are running in. The cushing inside the shoes are absorbing the forces that we put down into the ground. If you don’t run in shoes you will automatically run the way that we are designed to do. When running barefoot, your feet are not protected against anything. When you don’t have protection, you get stronger.
I think I will give you an example: Broken bones. If you are unlucky to break a leg, then you go to the doctor and get it fixed. You end up with a leg in cast for support and keep it for some weeks. When it is removed, you will have a leg that doesn’t have the same muscle mass as the other leg. When the leg is supported, it doesn’t have to work and the muscles disappear. Shoes are the same as the cast, it is a support and makes you weaker, it is just affecting the muscles in the foot and around the ankle.
So, that was it. At first, Kristian did not think that he could run long distances barefoot but after a month, he was running a ferly good 5 kilometers. Then the challenge started. If he could run 5, then he can run 10. When he ran his first 10 kilometers, then he thought he could run a half marathon. This challenge is still on to this day, his longest race has been 70 kilometers (Aarhus – Vejle).
If Kristian likes to run without shoes, he still put some in winter due to the cold and the salt on the streets. But definitely, Kristian will not go back to only running with shoes. He feels like he runs better bare feet. Kristian says he feels a little out of place to run in shoes and doesn’t feel like he is landing correctly on his feet. If taking away all the beginner’s injuries he made, his main injuries only happened with shoes on.
But barefoot running is not easy, it is hard work since the skin under the feet takes times to get strong and enable the feet to land on the ground perfectly. It can even replace the shoe entirely, but is not a very known practice for long-distance runs.
Green Machine: Could you explain more about the skin that gets strong? What happened if you do not run barefoot for a long time? Does the skin getting stronger can entirely replace a shoe then?
Kristian Eilersen: I do not know the biology behind it, but again I can use an everyday example. If you take any craftsman that are using his/her hands a lot, you will see a darker collared skin, in their palm. It is the same thing that happens to my feet. When the skin is being put under a lot of stress, the body will rebuild itself just a bit stronger than before.
I do not run bare feet all year, I run until it gets too cold (when it takes 2-3 km before I get warmth in the feet) or when they start to put salt on the roads. I have seen some people have tried it, with out success. So the skin becomes softer over the winter and I have to rebuild the strong skin again. It is not always so pleasant to start with, but within a few weeks, it is back to normal.
My skin is much stronger then the skin that normal people have. It is always funny in the summer time, when the weather is good, and people want to walk around in bare feet, they complain when they meet gravel, hot pavement, pointy grass and so on. All of this is not problem for me.
Unfortunately, bare foot running is not a very known practice and it is quite difficult to be accepted in people’s mind. It is not really taken seriously; many persons think it is just not possible to run long distances entirely bare-foot. Kristian struggles to make this practice become more popular but is not easy, people talk in the street when he runs without shoes. Even at races, Kristian gets remarks and some runners ask him to go put some shoes on or to run further back in the field. But, our ambassador knows what he is doing and that this is working for him, at a very good level. His way to respond to them is to keep running by them, same speed to prove them wrong. Surprisingly, when they see Kristian running by them with the same intensity, they don’t say anything.
Furthermore, there is not a big barefoot runners’ community in Denmark, and when there is, it is only for short distances from 3 to 5 km. Only a few for 10 kilometers distances and longer. Kristian’s biggest accomplished challenge is to have master long distance and speed in bare foot running. But he also has a strong memory of his biggest challenge as a shoe runner during the Lyssefjorden race in Norway of 62 kilometers where he struggled but finished in 13 very long hours.
Green Machine: Did you start barefoot and finish with shoes or was it entirely barefoot? Why was this experience your biggest challenge?
Kristian Eilersen: My biggest personal challenge is the race in Norway, Lyssefjorden inn. I started in bare feet, after around 8 kilometers, I slipped on the rock with my right foot and to regain my balance, I accidentally banged my left foot into the rocks. I kept on running for a bit, but then I could see, a bloody foot print behind me. I stopped and I took a water bottle to clean the foot, put shoes and socks on, and continued running. It was at the 8 kilometers mark only, so the trip to 62 k was very long.
When things hit you like that during a race, you have to space out, and find a focus in something else. The nature in Norway is stunning, so much of my focus went to that. Too much in fact, I did not get enough water but kept going anyway.
Later on, I was in the middle of nowhere, I felt like I needed some strong motivation to keep going. I call my dad for a few minutes, to get some support from a spectator that was not there. He got me to run again, until I got to my team who helped me the rest of the way. When I finish the race, my toe were of a dark blue color, and very shore. This was definitely my biggest challenge.
Kristian’s short-term life plan is to just keep running, he is addicted to running now and see running as his form of meditation. When he goes in the streets or in the woods, he is able to cut everything from his work and empty his mind.
His goals for running are the following:
Sub 1:20 Half-marathon – 2019
Sub 3:00 marathon – 2019
Sub 10 hours Ironman – 2020
100k ultra marathon – 2020
Kristian is very closed to Green Machine’ s business and it has been a long time since Kristian join the adventure. He is the number one fan of our products, and especially bras which are perfect for his running races.
Green Machine: Why joining Green Machine and being so committed to such a small company?
Kristian Eilersen: “When I joined Green Machine the company was very young. I think between 6-10 months. So, I got to be a part of a start-up, that was going to change the industry, by make “Clean” energy products.
Caspher told me that I could choose how active I wanted to be. He said, the more active you are, the more benefits for you. There, my opinion matters, and I could have a say in the products to come, and I could soon be able to shape new energy products.
I love that they have clean products, that my stomach can handle in large amounts. They know what is in the products and everything has a function. Even better is that they are always looking forward and bringing in the newest research to the field.
I was one of the first ambassadors, and they were my first sponsor, so I have a special bond to the company. The connection has grown stronger, because I don’t only give Green Machine some feedback about the brand and their products. I also use my education in Innovation Management and Business Development to help the company in many ways. So, my voice is heard on the advisory board. There, I come with input for new products that could work, sparring at business ideas, and I give them advice through a new set of glasses. It is a win/win deal, Green Machine gets some expertise and I get to be the hands-on ambassador.”
What we like about Kristian is his enthusiast concerning the brand and how much he likes showing us new things. He has a great vision of sports and running specifically. We could think of Kristian as a minimalist when it comes to running. What he is looking for is the essence of running and the primary function of the body.
He shares the idea we need to look to our body differently, if at stone age they could run without shoes than why are we overcrowding our body with running features from the latest trend. Our body is built to run, but not in the way most people run today. Below, you will find interetsing support concerning barefoot running. Give it a try!
On the barefoot topic, Kristian recommends to see these videos/movies: