Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Top of Foot Pain (TOFP)

Went for a rather sweaty 1.75 miles today in my FiveFinger Classics.  Was going really well, but noticed a pain beginning in the top of my right foot at just over a mile in.  Alarm bells started ringing because of my old stress fracture, so whilst I kept running, I concentrated on whether the pain was getting worse or not.

At 1.45 miles, I planned to take off my Classics and run the remaining 0.3 miles barefoot (as usual).  I was curious to see if the pain got worse without the shoes, but was surprised to find completely the opposite.  No pain at all.

The pavements were lovely and warm, and I didn't feel at all self conscious today, and because the TOFP went away when I took the shoes off, it felt easier running barefoot than in shoes!  No aches and pains now.  Just can't wait to up the distance really!

Monday, 14 May 2012


I don't say 'lush' very often.  For me, 'lush' is something inexplicably 'nice', a bit indulgent, a bit special.

Yesterday I went for a run.  I was a bit short on time (roast dinner waiting!) so I ditched the 3-miler shod run I had planned in favour of a one-miler in my new FiveFinger Classics (which I've been wearing in over the past week walking around).

The Classics are thinner than the TrekSports, so I needed to get even closer to a barefoot technique than I had in the TrekSports.  It's still not the same as running completely barefoot though.  So, after two thirds of a mile (and once back away from the main road and in the safety of my side roads), I pulled off the Classics (much quicker than taking off trainers) and ran the last third of a mile in bare feet.

It was a sunny day, the pavement was warm under my feet, and the ground felt great.  Slightly scratchy, warmth from the earth, and the quiet 'pad, pad' of my feet.  My feet felt strong, my soles felt tough, but sensitive, the pavement seemed less scratchy than on previous runs.  It was liberating and fun.  As I ran through my front door, all I could say was 'lush', because that's exactly what it was.

I woke up this morning in a really good mood.  I'm definitely making progress, and I'm almost craving the feel of the ground on my feet. I think I'm turning a bit hippie!  Can't wait to go a bit further.  I might even be brave enough to hit the main road soon!

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Now there's a big word.  Whenever you read about barefoot running, there's that word 'proprioception' like a beacon on the page.  Is it to add scientific value to the discussion?  Probably, but when I run outside without my shoes, I think of this word.

If you look it up in the dictionary, it means something like "the sense of how your own limbs are oriented in space" or "the body's ability to sense movement within joints and joint position".  I suppose it's about what your body feels like when you move it.

Advocates of barefoot running say that it's only when you have nothing on your feet that you can truly experience proprioception, and I'm sure I've read anecdotes that imply that it's addictive - once you've felt it properly, you feel that trainers 'muffle' all those sensations.

I think I'm starting to agree.  I'm no scientist and will not cite references for the above comments.  What I will say is that I've noticed that when I now run with trainers on, my feet seem to get hot, and I really notice the way that the soles of my feet slide up and down (only a tiny bit, but there none-the-less) inside my trainers.  My socks feel woolly when I wear them.  On my last two shod runs, I've actually taken off my trainers for the last 300 metres and run barefoot.  I've almost craved the sensation of the pavement on the soles of my feet.  And it feels nice - like having a foot scrub (not that I'd like a foot scrub really!).  Today, I was even able to feel the gaps in the block paving that makes up our road outside.

I'm still not fully body aware - I'm trying to relax and keep my cadence up.  The difference is in my feet at the moment - and I wonder if that will gradually extend up my body as I do more.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Speed it up

I haven't run barefoot for a week.  No reason, just haven't got round to it.  Yesterday, though, I had a limited amount of time to run, so I went out (in trainers) for a swift 3 miler.  After a mile or so, I decided to reset my lap timer and run all out for the next mile, just to see if I could get a sub 8 minute mile (something I've been toying with trying to do since October 2011).

When my mile lap peeped at me, I was amazed to see a time of 7 minutes 40 seconds.  Granted, it was a little downhill (about 50ft according to Garmin), but even so, I was very surprised.

Not quite trusting the Garmin, I went out again today with the sole intention of trying to repeat the fast mile, but on the flat.  I took a slightly different route, out for 1.6 miles and then set a new lap and pumped my legs.  It felt great to turn up the speed (well, apart from the splitting lungs and burning thighs!), but I really wanted to see if could hit another sub 8 on the flat.

My time came in at 7 mins 35 secs!  This is fab.  I haven't trained to go particularly fast - although I did do a series of short, fast runs over the Easter hols, but nothing at this pace.  In fact, I've rarely hit less 8 mins 30, so this difference seems quite amazing.

Could my barefoot 'drills' be the cause?  Has my technique improved as a result and given me the edge I've lacked ever since I started running?  Maybe, or maybe not, but the evidence definitely shows that my speed has improved.

For the last 400 metres or so on warming down, I took off my trainers and ran barefoot.  My feet felt great, the ground felt great, and I didn't even mind the two lads on their bikes laughing at me!  I love running :D