Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Barefoot / Minimalist Running

Hello Readers - the few that may remain.  I've been absent for so long I would actually be surprised if anyone continues to read my blog.  As I haven't been actively training ... and I have seldom run ... I just haven't had much blog fodder.  I can report, though, that as the weather slowly begins to warm (though I did wake to a coating of fresh snow on the ground, third time this week) - I've been running more frequently.

In fact, I have been running barefoot!  I've been interested for a long time.  I first became consciously aware of barefoot running when I ran my first marathon (Portland '96) and saw another runner doing just that.  I was so intrigued I began to read the barefoot forums on Runners World.  Then last year as I struggled with Plantars Faciitis, Donald began to post regularly about his own foray into minimalist running.

I love going barefoot.  Those who know me can attest to the fact that when I'm comfortable at home or even while camping, I am typically barefoot.  I'll walk to the mail box, jog over to the neighbors, and even do yard work all the while my toes are unencumbered.  I love freedom.  It allows me to feel more connected with the earth, as silly as that may sound.
I've been increasingly interested and have been wanting to give it a try.  Last month, a girl friend recommended a book to me ... Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (which I haven't read yet but I have it on reserve at the library).  I bumped into a friend a few weeks ago who was wearing Vibram 5 Fingers and we got to talking about her experience in transitioning.  The following week, there was a panel discussion on minimalist running at the local Footzone.  All of these external signs telling me that I needed to give it a go.

I started with a 2 mile easy run on the treadmill on March 4th .... barefoot.  I went a little too far as the belt on my treadmill is textured for traction and I thereby ended up with blisters on the balls of my feet.  I thereby didn't run again until the 11th (4 miles easy), again on the treadmill, more conscious now of my gait and running form.  I noted that my calves were still sore from the run the week before - apparently I had used muscles that I haven't used in a long time.

That weekend, we went to the coast to see family and while there, I did an easy 3.75 miles - whereby I stopped and took off my shoes, running the last 1/2 mile barefoot (alternating between asphalt and grass).  I felt good.

The next day (Saturday) I happened to read of a local running club run, Run of Two Cities 10K.  I thereby decided to give it a go with no expectation other than to run my own race.  To finish strong and to enjoy that I was running again.  I struggled a little in the middle (very typical of me) but did in fact have a strong finish, crossing the finish line in just under an hour.  The last 1/2 mile or so was all downhill and I approached a 5 min mile pace!  What an awesome feeling!
I ran again on Tues 3/16 - an easy 3 miles - barefoot again the last 1/2 mile.

I have also started to attend a weekly Yoga session but a las, I haven't run since the 16th.  I've come to accept that I am in a different place - a different season.  I am going to enjoy running when I can.  Training when I can.  Incorporating a variety of tools into my arsenal.  Minimalist running is just one of my tools.  When everything lines up - when the kids are a little older - perhaps I'll be able to run another marathon.  Until then, I will do all I can to stay fit - to stay active.

Don't be surprised, however, if I begin to talk more about running with bare toes!  :)

For more information about minimalist running - there was an article in our local paper today, The Evolution of Running.  Enjoy!


  1. very cool. I want some VFFs! LOL... Ummm, you COULD wear socks on the treadmill. That might help with those blisters! Happy running!!!

    Loyal Reader #1 :-)

  2. You ARE Loyal Reader #1, Wes! Thank you!

    I just bought a pair of VFFs last week. I'll be posting more about them soon. :)

  3. It's nice that you find your way back to your love :D


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