Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Barefoot Fun

On Sunday I repeated the route I did a few days ago through the country lanes and then across the M4 roundabout. A 4.5 mile run with 2.2 miles in bare feet all in.

This time though, I felt a bit braver, and I didn't avoid the staring eyes of all those folks waiting in their cars for the lights to change, wondering why on earth this woman was crossing a roundabout in running gear but with shoes in hand instead of on her feet.  Instead, I looked at their faces.

It was a great laugh, and my husband and I were thoroughly amused to see so many double takes and wide eyes.  For once, instead of feeling conspicuous and self conscious, I just enjoyed the moment.  It was a great feeling, and brightened my day.  I hope it brightened the day for those who saw me, running barefoot and laughing.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gravel, twigs, stones and floods

After a mile or so in my Vivos yesterday, I came across a flood, going across the whole of the country lane I was running down.  I was at the point of taking off my shoes near there anyway, so it seemed as good a point as any.

It felt quite liberating to splash through the water - though I was quite wary of the fact that I had no idea what was under there, so my tread was very light.  The water was probably a couple of inches deep in places, and it felt very cold.

The remainder of the lane was quite difficult to negotiate.  As there had been water running across it, it was covered in debris - small stones, gravel, twigs, leaves, mud and even small branches.  It meant I needed to slow down the pace (even more than usual), but it certainly helped me concentrate on form.  Once out of the lane, I ran along a tarmac road, which I always find tougher if it's wet, but I continued on to the main road.

I considered putting my shoes back on, but with a bit of encouragement from my other half to just keep going, I did exactly that.  It wasn't that my feet hurt, just a mental barrier of running barefoot along a trunk route from the M4 into town.

The M4 rounadabout was a challenge.  It was made more pedestrian friendly just before the Ryder Cup in 2010, with the addition of small, firm gravel walkways between the numerous sets of lights.  In the past, I would not have even attempted these sections bare foot, but the stationary onlooking traffic is a great motivator, so I padded along and crossed over the roundabout in 3 places, avoiding looking directly at any of the drivers and passengers.

All in all, 2.2 miles in bare feet.  A triumph for me, not just because of the challenges of the terrain, but also overcoming the mental barrier of running in such close proximity to busy traffic and the public glare.

And my feet...  well, here they are:  A little muddy round the edges, but not a single scrape or cut.  Aren't feet brilliant??

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Frosty, frosty, frosty

I woke up to a sharp frost today.  'Shoes it is' I said to myself.

Last night though, I read an article in the Barefoot Running magazine I receive via email.  It was about running barefoot in cold weather.  A few days ago, I went out in my VFFs with very cold feet, and it hurt.  My old stress fracture site ached, and my ankle just didn't feel right.  This article quotes Barefoot Ken as saying 'numb feet are dumb feet' - and this certainly rings true.

So, I opted for my Vivo Barefoot shoes this morning and set off.  After almost two miles, my feet were really toasty warm, so I took a route high up along some pretty country lanes, and I took my shoes off.

I intended to run around a mile or so, and put my shoes back on before hitting the main road again, but my feet felt great, plenty warm enough, my soles felt tough and strong, and so I kept them off all the way home.

I had a few odd glances, and my first ever look of complete disgust from a woman gardening, wrapped up in coat, hat, gloves and wellies.  But I'm really pleased, because I've just clocked my longest barefoot run (2 miles) and on the coldest day of the year so far.  Happy days.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Shoes? You must be joking!

Last night I went out to a charity dinner/dance.  It was just down the road (0.3 miles to be precise) so naturally we walked.  Well, I say 'walked'.  It was more a case of stumbling awkwardly along clinging to my husband's arm with my toes crushed into the front of my very nice, very high, but very uncomfortable high heeled shoes.
It made me think how strange it is that people wonder why I would dare to run barefoot and risk a foot injury, when here were close to 50 women wearing shoes which were just as likely to cause pain and injury, worn for longer than any barefoot run I've done, and whilst dancing of all things!

During the evening I was introduced to another runner by a friend.  We got talking, and she asked me if I'd run the recent Cardiff half marathon.  I explained that I hadn't because I've been mainly running in bare feet.  She then exclaimed "Ahh - do you run through the lanes near me - I've seen you!!".  For a moment, I felt rather famous (or perhaps I should say infamous!).  We had a laugh about it, and I had the 'does it hurt' question, to which I replied "not nearly as much as wearing these shoes does!".

On the way home, I removed my shoes and walked barefoot along the pavements in the dark.  I was wearing tights, and as a testament to my new found form and delicate footfall, there is not a single run or ladder on the soles.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Further and further

I've managed to up my distance the past few days.

Yesterday, we ran through a local village, along a long and windy country lane.  I started in my TrekSports, and once we were on the lane, I took them off and ran barefoot.  My first experience of squishing in mud was encountered (rather nice), and we stopped to chat to a couple and their dogs, who acted like running barefoot was perfectly normal, and they didn't even acknowledge the shoes in my hand.

After 1.4 miles I rather relunctantly put my shoes back on for the main road, but I rather think I could have gone a bit further.  My feet had felt very comfortable without shoes.

Towards the end of the 6.5 mile run, I took them off once again, making a grand total of 1.95 miles in bare feet - a further to date.

Today we did a rainy 3 miler.  Again I started in my TrekSports, but they really rubbed in the rain, so taking them off was less of a risk than leaving them on.  In fact, it was a pleasure to remove them just under a mile before we got back, even though the ground was wet - something I usually find harder to run on.

Good progress then - it certainly helps having a supportive partner to encourage me to take off my shoes and not worry about what everyone thinks.