Friday, 27 April 2012

A trainer day

I was planning to only run barefoot this week, but the dire weather (torrential rain) and the fact that I have only run distances of 2 miles max over the last few weeks (in trainers) left me craving a longer run, and that meant trainers.

So I did just under 5 miles in my trainers with a 9 minute mile pace, and on the return leg I found myself wishing I could feel the wet tarmac beneath my feet.

When I got home, I took off my soggy trainers, and ran 0.4 mile in my bare feet.  The wet ground felt lovely and cool, but I was considerably slower than on some of my previous barefoot runs - only doing just under 14 min miles. I think this was because the heavy rain made it more difficult to see the ground clearly, and there seemed to be lots of debris - small stones, twigs, puddles and so on, so I was more careful.  In fact, I would say that it also felt less comfortable - which I think was because of the rain - it seemed more abrasive than when it's dry.

Anyway, only a couple of odd stares today.  Another runner who I see quite often, who usually smiles at me, but stared right down at the floor as she passed me as if to say 'I have no idea what you are doing, and I'm afraid to ask', and a van driver, who seemed to slow down as he passed me.  Or maybe I'm just paranoid!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Remembering the 100-up

The Once and Future Way to Run (NY Times Video)
A while ago I blogged about the 100-up exercise which I did for a fortnight or so, and then stopped.  I did find though that in my shod runs I was incorporating the arm movements of the 100-up, which seemed to improve my cadence and foot landing.

I noticed on my barefoot run today that when I go over the really rough pavement (only 30 metres or so) at the end of my road, I instinctively return to the 100-up arm movements, as they seem to counterbalance my footfall and make it lighter and swifter, and therefore less uncomfortable on that gravelly section.

At the halfway mark today (0.25 miles) I began to stop focusing on 'relax, relax, relax, cadence, stones, glass, people seeing me' and all the other things that fill my mind when I've been running barefoot, and I started to look further ahead, properly relax into the run, and think about technique as a gentle, fluid motion.  I think it started to fall into place.  It wasn't quite a Eureka moment, but it was definitely an 'ah, this is how it's supposed to be'.

The pPlan for next week is to concentrate on barefoot only, just short distances, with rest days between.  This will stop shod running interfering with technique (if indeed it is).

My cautionary words today though are to keep an eye on my big toe (right foot), which feels a little achey in the bones.  When I prod it or wiggle it there's nothing to find, but when I take the first few steps after sitting, it just doesn't feel quite right.  I need to watch that.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Half a mile and counting

Today I ran half a mile in bare feet.  I haven't done any barefoot running for a week, but last night I was reading an online magazine from Barefoot Running UK (look for the magazine which is quite a good read) and it inspired me to get out and build on last week's efforts.

I'm getting braver!  Today it was almost 11am when I ran (I failed to sneak out before everyone was up).  The window cleaner spotted me, as did a man and his son who got out of their car and looked curiously at my feet, and another runner who passed me in the opposite direction.  I even stopped and had a chat with the postman, who said that he's seen many people out running, but never anyone in bare feet.

No soreness - although the section of pavement about 200 metres from the house is seriously gravelly and rough, so it's a great reminder of the required technique.  I even took great pleasure in running through a small puddle which felt lovely and cool on my warm, tingly feet.

There's no pain where I had my stress fracture when I'm running in bare feet (in fact, there's more when I'm wearing my trainers), but I am still being uber careful.  Relax, relax, relax, bend the knees and keep that cadence up!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Easter build up

Ok, I'm off work for the Easter hols.  I'm planning to run about 15 miles this week, and I'm really hoping that I can build up my barefoot running to about a mile by the end of the fortnight (though I'll be happy with about 3/4 mile).

2 miles shod today, followed by 0.4 miles in bare feet.  More people have seen me out, and the more that know I'm just a little bit mad, the easier it gets.  Today, it was the old lady with the dog, who was very concerned about the welfare of my feet and quizzed me about cuts and other dangers.  I chatted to her for a few seconds and continued on my way.

Three weeks ago I told my next door neighbour that she might see me out in bare feet.  The following week another neighbour saw me out without shoes, and reported this odd nugget of information back to my next door neighbour, who in turn reported that yes, I have been running in bare feet, and that it's supposed to be good for my form.  Apparently this news was met with a "she must be mad" look.

I quite like it - and the more people that see me, the less of a surprise it will be to everyone.

I do wonder sometimes why I'm still persuing this - after all, I did have to take six weeks out after my stress fracture, which - although it was in VFFs - was as a direct result of this weird obsession with minimalist running.  Maybe it's just a fad, but it does feel really nice running without shoes on - a bit scary, but oddly pleasant.  And once I've mastered the technique (if you ever really can), I'll make use of my VFFs again.