With credit to my friend, Chris Russell of the RunRunLive podcast (www.runrunlive.com), here is blog from him dated May 8 about his barefoot experience. Very insightful:
Losing my bare foot virginity.
Ow! It hurts!
Iím experimenting with running without shoes on. Just my bare feet against the world. I come to this as a veteran runner, marathoner, triathlete, cyclists etc. Iíve spun a few rotations of mother earth beneath my feet. Until this point my world and the actual world have been separated by lugs and leather and blown foam of one sort or another.
I find myself in the unique position of being able to report on the answer to the question, ďWhat happens when a old guy whoís been running high volume competitively for years takes off his shoes? Up to this point in my life this wasnít an option for me because Iíd have to step down from my mileage and give up my race goals to make the transition.
Since Iím an inherently lucky guy who is deeply loved by the universe I have been given the opportunity to try something new. The only way for an existing mid-packer, like Moi, to learn bare foot running is to start as if from the beginning with extremely low mileage and strengthening exercises. This was my first lesson.
You canít Ďjump intoí barefoot running. You have to give your feet a chance to get used to it. You have to give your legs a chance to learn the new form. If you just jump into it youíll tear all the skin off of your feet and give yourself stress fractures. But if youíre willing to start with 100 meters of running and work up from there over 3-6 months, well, anyone can do that.
Iím 2-3 weeks into my foot strengthening activities. I started with some short barefoot strides in the grass. I worked in some longer barefoot walks with the dog. Iím up to 2km every other day with the dog, but the cool thing is that Iím learning something new about running. Think about that. I guy my age, with my running resume, learning like a child in the wilderness. Thatís cool.
What have a learned so far? First thing I learned is that you may think you have an efficient stride but barefoot is a whole other ball game. I quickly discovered that although Iím a neutral mid-foot runner Iím also lazy. When the heel is there, you use it. When you donít have shoes on you quickly learn not to EVER use the heels. Why? Because it hurts like hell!
Second thing I discovered was that I thought I had pretty good cadence but with barefoot, especially on the road I have to be 2 times quicker with my steps. This is the only way to avoid over stressing the Achilles and pounding the forefoot. In my normal stride Iíll pause on the foot strike, flex down into the impact and toe off with force. You canít do that in barefoot. Want to know why? Because it hurts like hell! You have to take tiny, rapid steps like you are running on hot coals because it feels like youíre running on hot coals!
The third thing Iím learning is that my body is capable of building its own shoes. Iíve noticed that as my foot pads get sore and recover they are not doing so in a blanket fashion. They are not growing a new surface area like the bottom of a shoe. They are growing new areas specifically to how my foot hits the ground. My feet are constructing new shoes specifically for my stride mechanics. Thatís pretty cool.
The final learning Iíll share with you today is that I am amazed at how fast my feet are changing. Our bodies are amazing and my feet are amazing. After on 2-3 weeks of exercise my feet are getting bigger and wider. Put this in perspective of the 49 years they have been wrapped up in shoes (except for a few summers when I was a kid) and it is another amazing testament to the adaptability of our bodies. They are a well engineered machine.
Iím still running defensively and it still hurts like hell, but Iím seeing glimpses of overlap with my running past. I feel the power of my legs and feet on those uphills in the trails. I feel the joy of sweat and a raised heart rate as I mince along grimacing through the woods. I get to join Buddy in the mud at the stream crossings and the spring melt water feels so good on my sore feet. He canít quite figure out what Iím doing yet, but heís all for it, whatever it is.
Reporting from the front lines of this running life Iím here to tell you that bare foot running is not a panacea to your injuries and your race times but it is a cool experiment and hopefully a living, learning, bridge to my recovery.
Endurance = momentum forward.
WL = CB/T (Weight Loss = Consistent Behavior over Time)
| current weight: 191.8