I hope everyone had a great 2013 and is looking forward to some great barefooting in 2014. I know I am. As I look back over the past year I can hardly believe how quickly (relatively) my body has adapted to this new sport. I've now been at it for about 2 & 1/2 years. I'm also coming up on my 2 year anniversary of the last time I EVER ran in shoes at all (albeit Vibram 5 Fingers). Amazingly, at this time last year I was reporting that I had just acheived my first ever 500 barefoot mile year. Shortly after that, I set a goal of running 1000 miles in 2013 and later upped it to 1500 miles in mid October since the 1000 was already done! I was pleased to be able to run 5 different races this year. All 5 races turned out to be BPRs or "Barefoot Personal Records." That is the great part about switching over to barefoot running...I get to reset all my PR's without shoes. So far, of course, my speed is not up to the levels I had with shoes although I was particularly proud of the Highway Half Marathon in October which turned out to be a 1:46:27 or an 8:08 pace for 33rd place and 4th in my age group and placed me in the top 8% of all runners...not bad for barefoot! This race was also special since it was the one and only time the runners could run on the (at the time) unfinished highway.
Biggest Barefoot Year Ever
But the thing I find really amazing about my current fitness level is my renewed ability to go LONG, while slowly trying to get the speed back. The month of August was particularly mind blowing with respect to distance records. I ended the month with my highest weekly (90miles) and monthly (251miles) totals EVER (with or without shoes) and also my longest ever training run barefoot which was over 20 miles. This month taught me a lot about myself and what kind of recovery my body needs between long runs. I was amazed at what the soles of my feet were able to take and the ablilty to move beyond pain in a way I was never able to do with my shoes on. To those of you out there trying to increase your mileage, just keep at it and know that as you build up your soles and continue to improve your "soft landing" technique you will be able to go longer. I can't guarantee everyone will be able to surpass their shod mileage, but you should be able to come close within about a two year period if you stick with it and don't give up. So whether your goals are distance related or speed related (or just to DO it) just go at it slowly and remember not to fall into the TMTS (Too Much Too Soon) injury trap and end up having to take a lot of time off due to stress fractures, stress response, or related injuries. As I've said before, a lot of my chronic running injuries simply WENT AWAY once I started barefoot running. No more knee, hip, back or achilles pain. Of course you can still hurt yourself barefooting, but the nice thing is that it will probably be a true overuse injury and not related to the excessing pounding and injury to the skeleton caused by those "protective," "safe" and "padded" foot coffins...er, shoes.
Have a Healthy and Prosperous New Year Barefooters!
Well the month of November started off on a very sad note, as I lost my good friend Jim Kelley who was struck and killed by a car on his evening run up in his hometown of Grand Rapids Michigan. Jim was a fixture in the central Michigan running community and had been a great "long distance" friend who I ran 3 different Boston Marathons with as well as the Los Angeles Marathon back in 2011. Here is a picture of Jim and I after attending the expo prior to the LA marathon. Jim was a great Christian man who cared deeply for others and was a great encouragement to other less gifted runners (myself included). Jim is survived by his wife Teri and kids Corey and Amber. Jim, I know you're in heaven right now and enjoying some of the greatest long runs ever!
The next week I was on a business trip in the Chicago area and got to experience not only snow but some of the coldest temperatures of the season so far. One morning, prior to a customer meeting I ran in 18 degree temps although it was dry and I only ran 1.05 miles! This was no problem as I had gotten in a nice 15 miler back home prior to the business trip. As most of you know, I had set the goal last month of running 1500 barefoot miles by the end of the year. This meant I needed to average 38 miles per week, which I bettered in each of the weeks.
San Antonio TX - rainy city run
The next week I was fortunate to go south on business to San Antonio Texas and got in a couple of great city runs there. The first first day was a warm 73 degree run around the grounds of the Alamo for a looping 7 mile run in the dark (with headlamp). The second day was rainy so I waited later to start and got a little more daylight. But the temp was only 53 so it was a little chilly in the rain, but still better than Indiana! Still, it's always strange running in shorts, headband and gloves! That day I ran 7.6 miles until the Garmin went dead and had many people comment on the barefoot run through the city. I even had a lady come up and run with me the last few minutes and tried to pick my brain about barefoot running and how to get started. I encouraged her to give it a try but told her to go ahead and ramp up first to marathon distance (from her current long of 15) before she tries the barefoot thing.
This past week was Thanksgiving and I got in three nice longer runs up in Amish country dodging buggies, bikes and horse poop. I enjoyed the smooth surface of the white line along Highway 120 running around Howe Indiana. This was definitely needed after the many large meals including lots of pie! I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. Mine was definitely nice and relaxing.
With the mid 40 totals each week in November, I now only need to average about 30 miles each week in December to close out my 1500 mile goal. This is good since I will be travelling this week to NY which along with colder temps expected, may decrease my weekly totals. Again, no promises, but 1500 is still the goal.
Everyone stay safe, enjoy and remember the Reason for the Season!
November barefoot mileage total = 186 miles
(coldest temp = 18 degrees in Chicago IL, warmest temp = 73 degrees in San Antonio TX)