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!