Saturday, September 24, 2011
Hellow Barefooters! This morning I had a beautiful run with my daughter Megan on the Westfield cross country course. We arrived early for my oldest daughter Rachel's invitational meet with 10 other schools. It started pouring as soon as we showed up, so we got to help the coach set up the team tent in the rain. Afterward, Megan and I took off slowly across the wet field, me barefoot and Megan shod. Megan changed her mind about wearing shoes about 50 feet into the run and she kicked hers off and ran just in her socks! It felt great to do a barefoot run in the pouring rain, although it began to let up almost immediately, just enough to soak everything and get the ground nice and squishy. The temp was about 52 so the feet were sort of getting numb, but Megan kept saying she was fine, so we pushed on. Into the woods on the pea gravel trail which felt great except for the occasional larger rock or cracked walnut shell to add to the challenge. After crossing the wet slippery bridge, it was around the combination asphalt/gravel loop which slowed us considerably, and we stopped to check our feet for damage. I was a little worried since I had just done a 3 miler the day before (my first "back to back" barefooter) but the feet were holding up fine even though they were cold and soaked. To my surprise, these harder surfaces now felt really hard (and sort of uncomfortable) since earlier we had been enjoying the mud and grass. But soon it was back across the bridge, onto a nice grassy stretch, and back through the woods to the finish. A nice little 1.86 mile run, albeit at a pretty slow pace. A great intro to the brand new world of barefoot cross country running! Sarah (Megan's twin) and I did a cool down run back to the van and then all three of us made a donut run to White's Donut Shop for some well deserved carbs! We made it back in time to cheer on big sister Rachel in her JV race where she set her new PR for the year!...so a great day for us all. Happy running everyone, and keep enjoying that barefoot stimulation. BF Dan (Weekly barefoot mileage: 9.36 miles)
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Good morning barefooters! Last night was my first barefoot city run, if you call Westfield IN a city...really more of a town. I was hoping to get in 3 miles or so, to make up for cutting my Monday run short due to rain (only ran 1.5 miles hoping to avoid blisters) The idea was to meet my buddy Barefoot Tim at the local track and get some foot friendly running in on the rubberized surface. But much to our disappointment the middle school football team was having a game (how dare they use their own facility!) So for Plan B we decided to do a couple of loops through town which gave us the opportunity to experience a whole range of surfaces: smooth asphalt, rough asphalt, concrete, pebble strewn asphalt, grass, tree debris littered concrete, and even a nice redbrick sidewalk (we liked the bricks!) We stopped at the halfway point and checked our feet and decided to continue on for a 2nd loop. This gave us a nice 3 miler and some great conversation along the way. It was a fairly warm evening and we topped it off with an ice bath after...yes, I'm a dork and actually bungee'd in my two 5-gallon buckets of ice water in the bed of my S-10 pickup. I iced for 3 min and Tim stopped after 1 min (it definitely takes some getting used to)...the icing has certainly been shortening my recovery times between runs and is minimizing the blister I'm still fighting on the ball of my right foot. I hope to do a 3 miler tomorrow (Friday) and if possible a 1.86 on the cross country course Sat. am with one or two of my daughters. Sitting here this morning, my feet feel "electrified"!
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I feel blessed! Today was my first 3 miler. Actually went out for a 2.5 but the weather was great (52 degrees and sunny) so I went for 3. The mini blisters which started on last two runs this week didn't seem to bother me so I'm hoping my form is getting a little better. I'm still icing for about 3 minutes afterward which has been a real help. I took the girls to the farmers market in Noblesville and walked around barefoot to see Mom's both and get Sarah a feather in her hair (11th birthday is tomorrow!). Later all 5 of us walked the 1.7 mile gravel loop at MacGregor Park, although I threw on my Vibram's since I already had my mileage done for the day. Megan ran/walked with me in her socks again -- she's becoming quite the barefooter herself. My feet feel great, with just a slight ache on inside of my right ankle. -- Total barefoot miles for week: 8
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Here is my article from the Sept. 2011 Kokomo Roadrunner Newsletter
Kick Off Your Shoes!!
Barefoot running!!…huh?! When I first heard about it, I thought it was crazy…probably like most of you are thinking right now. Won’t it hurt my feet? What if I step on glass? Don’t I need my well cushioned, motion-controlled, high $$ trainers to prevent injury? Will I look like some homeless person running down the street? What will my running buddies think? Will I still be able to run high mileage or even a marathon if I switch over to bare feet?
Well, let me tell you. I recently switched over to barefoot running and I couldn’t be happier. I’m more excited about running right now than I’ve been in a very long time. And yet, I’m still only running about 3 miles a week and then only at an 11 min/mile pace. That’s right it’s a very SLOW transition. Doesn’t sound too appealing yet, huh? I had tried adopted the Chi Running technique a couple of years ago, which in some ways is similar, so barefoot seemed like the next logical step. And now, my feet and legs feel great and my chronic hip/hamstring/sciatica thing finally cleared up as well. I finally feel like I’m running the way my body was designed to run. And really, I’m not trying to convince you to do it, but rather just tell you about my experience.
Barefoot running requires much more than simply kicking off your shoes (as the title would suggest). It involves completely changing your running style which, depending on your current form, could be very drastic indeed. Most of us are heel strikers and over-striders when running shod (in shoes). When one switches to barefoot, you “automatically” begin landing on the ball of your foot first…and why, you ask…because it hurts like #@$% to land on your heel when you’re barefoot! By running in shoes for years, our heels (and feet) have been allowed to run sloppy without “feeling” the ground as we run. This causes us to over-stride which leads to all kinds of other problems and injuries to our knees, tendons, hips, backs, you name it. About two-thirds of all runners will be injured each year due to poor running form which, conventional wisdom leads us to believe, is simply an over-use injury to our already injury-prone musculoskeletal system. WRONG, when we pound the pavement, because we can, in overly padded shoes, we run with bad form and wind up hurting ourselves without knowing it, until it is too late. We need to learn to run more gently.
With all that said, my transition to barefoot running has been anything but smooth. I started off slowly enough (I thought) back in early May with some Vibram 5-Fingers (toe shoes) and very gradually alternated between Vibrams, barefoot, and regular trainers. But I quickly ended up learning two of the most important acronyms of barefooting: TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) and TOFP (Top Of Foot Pain). I went limping into my doctor’s office, and one expensive MRI later, I had a diagnosis of “Stress Response” in the 2nd metatarsal and was told no running for 6 weeks and walking only in “very stiff soled shoes.” I was dangerously close to believing that my initial gut reaction had been right…barefoot running is crazy and dangerous…but then, I did some research. Duh…maybe I should have done that BEFORE I injured myself. With my foot propped in the chair, I began to read “Born To Run” by Chris McDougall, and it changed my life. Needless to say, this was not only a great story, but it was a real eye-opener and led me to three other books and many great websites on barefoot running.
Q: So what was my big mistake?
A: I wasn’t running barefoot!
I was running with bad form, and too far, in shoes which offered minimal or no support, and at the same time insulated my feet from feeling the ground. This lack of feeling, allowed me to run almost completely up on the balls of my feet, without allowing my heel to gently “kiss” the ground before lift-off. The only right way to do this transition is by truly going barefoot…that’s right, NOTHING on your feet. If you run in Vibrams, or Nike Frees, or running sandals, then you are not, by definition, barefoot. This is known as minimalist running, which is fine (for some), but you first need to develop your form in just your bare feet. Then, and only then, if necessary, due to weather or other conditions, should you use the minimalist shoes. The soles of your feet are the two best coaches you could have and they will “talk” to you. They will hold you back and limit you from doing the wrong thing, if you “listen” to them. And lastly, you must ramp VERY, VERY slowly. Run only every other day in the beginning, and start with only a hundred yards or so.
I don’t have the space to lay out a training schedule here, but suffice it to say, you will significantly reduce your mileage and slow your speed in the beginning. And slow is an understatement…you must first learn to stand (on gravel and other surfaces), and then walk, and then run. My first week or so was spent standing in my gravel driveway before I even started walking. But honestly, I’m happy with my one mile a day, three times a week, at my 11 minute pace. All my time/pace/race goals are out the window right now, but I believe I will eventually meet and even surpass my previous fitness level. But for now, no goals…I’m just enjoying running like a kid again! And so, if you decide to give this a try, PLEASE don’t let this be the only article you read on barefoot running. There are several great books and websites out there (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more info).
In the end, there is something really cool, and cathartic, about starting all over. And running…simply…the way God designed us to run…barefoot.
Hello fellow barefooters. As I increase my mileage, I'm finding I can only go about twice a week since I need almost 3 days in between to recover. Last week I did my first 2 miler on Monday and had to wait till Friday to run again. We were in Gnadden Huten Ohio and the roads were VERY rough, like chip and seal but with large river rock. I ran the 2 miler with my buddy Mike who was in shoes and graciously slowed his pace patiently while I ouched my way along. We reached some smooth pavement finally in the middle of the run but it was very slow and I may have bruised the balls of my feet and heels slightly. I recovered over the weekend and then did my first ever 2.5 miler on my "home course" here in Westfield IN. I seemed to have hot spots on both feet at the 2nd metatarsil, worse on right foot. Also a slight inside of right ankle pain. It was difficult to walk around the first two days, but by today, Thursday, I did another 2.5 miler and it was much better. The temp was 42 which almost felt cold at first with my toes seeming to go numb. But as I warmed up I really started to enjoy this temperature. I paused twice to look at my feet and examine the "hot spots" from Mondays run. I continued on and now feel fine on left foot but right foot does have a slight blister on the ball under my 2nd metatarsil. Both feel much better after the run this time and I am continue the 2.5 min ice bath after each run when possible. Also I did get my first barefoot article published this week in the Club Kokomo Roadrunner newsletter so I will do a second post and show it. Happy Running, BF Dan
Monday, September 5, 2011
Okay, first day blogging. Yesterday's run was my first barefoot 2 miler and it went really well at the time. Although today the balls of both feet are tender (like start of a blister) under both 2nd toe/metatarsil. Icing after each run for a couple minutes has been very helpful. I ran only twice last week, 1.5 miles on Sunday with my daughter Rachel, and then this past Friday in Temecula CA on a business trip. This was also 1.5 miles but on the cart path at Temecula Creek Golf Course where I was staying. I have started very slowly in the completely barefoot mode in late July with only 0.2 miles at first. In the beginning, I would walk my gravel driveway to toughen up my feet and help with softer landings. My main inspiration has been "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Ken Bob (I drove past Bolsa Chica Beach last week in Huntington Beach) and would like to meet and run with BF Ken Bob someday.