Follow up to barefoot run

I went out the next day after my last barefoot run intending to run barefoot again. I got about 200 yards, and I could tell that my feet felt tender. I didn’t have any painful spots, but they didn’t feel as tough as the day before. I went back and put on some shoes and had a good run. I ran again the next day with shoes and had no problems.

I was busy the next few days and didn’t have a chance to run. I’ve been back at it the last couple of days, wearing minimal shoes. I haven’t had the urge to go barefoot. Maybe I got it out of my system last week.

What I learned from my 4 mile barefoot run

I won’t be running and racing as much the next couple of weeks because I’m going to be pretty busy with work. I find that running a lot doesn’t mix well with my job, because it sometimes leaves me feeling a little low on energy.

Since I won’t be running too seriously for a while, I thought it might be interesting to see how long I could run barefoot today. My son went with me on his bike, and we had a good time. I went pretty fast at times to keep up with him and ended up varying my pace quite a bit. We passed back by our house at one point, and he stayed there while I continued. I ended up going about 4 miles total on pavement.

In the past, I’ve gotten in trouble running barefoot, because it usually feels so good that I end up going too fast or too far, and eventually severely skin a toe at some point. Other times, my form has apparently not been good enough, and I’ve gotten a friction burn from scuffing my feet.

It seems that my form has improved to the point that I’m simply lifting and putting down my feet, without allowing any friction to occur. My feet aren’t very calloused, but they didn’t get scraped up today. It was interesting to notice that my footstrike seemed to be on the outer edge towards the middle of my foot, with my entire foot then settling before I lifted again. It would have felt harmful to strike with my forefoot, as some people advocate. I have a feeling such a strike would have caused scuffing on the ball of my foot. A pure heelstrike would have felt uncomfortable too, of course. My heel did make good ground contact with each step, however.

Honestly, I’ve always wanted to be a proficient barefoot runner. Today I proved that I can at least run a 5k race barefoot. I might do that eventually. I would like to go on and do other distances barefoot as well. For now, I’ll see how my feet feel tomorrow, and if everything seems OK, I’ll try it again.

2 5k races

After a week of more running, I got up Saturday morning to go run a 5k. I was hoping to do better than my last one two weeks before, which took 22 minutes. Not many people showed up for this one, so I knew my chances of getting an award were good. The race went well and I felt in control the whole time. I finished in 21:19 and earned a first place age group award. I was 3rd overall.

My plan the week leading up to this race was to actually do two 5k races in a row, so Sunday I got up early again and headed out for another one. This race attracted more runners-somewhere around 800, not including all the people walking or doing the 1 mile race. I was still hoping to get an award, based on results from past years.

This course was very similar to the one the day before. They were both flat, and the weather was the same both days. Again, I felt very good the whole time. My plan was to hover around a 7:00/mile pace and go a little faster at the end if I felt good. I finished this one in 21:05. Unfortunately, there were some really fast runners between the ages of 40-44, so no award for me. I still feel good that I managed to go 14 seconds faster than the day before.

My body is holding up well, and obviously my form ideas are working. I have some more helpful ideas about posture and arm carriage, but I’ll save them for another time.

5 mile race

I took several days off because of work last week. I hoped that the rest would help me feel fresh for a race during the weekend. I signed up for a 5 miler on Sunday.

The race started very well. My first two miles were under a 7:00/mile pace and I did indeed feel well rested. At about the halfway point, we made a turn into the wind, and started a long 1 mile uphill slog. At one point, it looked as though one of the people helping on the race course directed us the wrong way. I stopped for a minute to make sure about where we were going, and almost just gave up. I was really getting tired. I knew I was near the front of the pack, though, so I made myself keep going.

The race continued into the wind, with several more hills thrown in for fun. Finally I could see that we were arriving back at the school where we started. As we got to a point where I hoped we were ending, we were directed onto the school track and told that we had to complete one lap before the end. I was pretty far ahead of anyone behind me at that point, so I stopped and walked a few feet once I got to the track. I was wasted. I started hearing people yelling at some runners coming up behind me, so I started running again and mercifully finished the thing before anyone could catch me. My time was 38 minutes, which is far from my best of just over 35.

I waited around for the awards, and received a first place plaque for being the fastest in my age category. I was 6th overall, so I feel pretty good about the result, even though my time was not great and my performance was less than stellar.

It’s obvious that I need more quality workouts in order to perform better in races. I don’t enjoy feeling like giving up. I ran 10 miles at a fairly slow pace today. The best way to build fitness is to run long and slow without feeling like you’re stressing your body too much. I’m going to do that the next few days, along with eating a little better. We’ll see if that makes racing next weekend feel easier.

Waking up the legs

I did the 5k that was in our town yesterday. I jogged the 2 miles slowly to the race site to warm up. The race went pretty well. Once we all got going and the foolish sprinters who ran out of gas were passed, those of us fairly near the front maintained our positions the entire race. I ended up finishing in 22 minutes which I guessed was probably good enough for some sort of age group award. I didn’t feel like waiting around, though, so I jogged back home. Only later did I learn that I was 2nd in my age group and 12th overall. My time wasn’t terribly impressive, but I’m happy with my result.

Today I went out for a run in my five fingers. Those are the ridiculous shoes with the individual toes. They’re pretty close to barefoot, and I enjoy running in them occasionally. I ended up going nine miles at an 8:19 pace at what felt like an easy effort. It was the best I’ve felt during a run in a while. My legs felt springy, and I didn’t feel tired or heavy at all. It seems that forcing myself to run at a 7 min/mile pace as I did during the 5k helped wake up my legs.

Another thing that may have helped today was modifying my posture just a bit. I talked last time about finding that sweet spot between looking out too much and looking down. I think perhaps my gaze was still directed down too far during the race, causing me to “run myself into the ground” so to speak. Today, I thought back to my idea from posts long ago about “running within yourself.” This inward sort of attitude makes us direct our eyes downward without actually lowering the head too much. My profile picture or Gravatar picture, or whatever it’s called here on this blog displays what I’m talking about very well. It was taken during my 3:31 marathon, which felt very easy. Everything seemed to be working right that day. You can see in the picture that my head is back, balanced upon my spine. Everything seems to be lined up well, without looking too stiff. I think you can see that I appear to be looking down, without lowering my head.

Today’s run felt so easy that I hope I may have unlocked some more speed with my racing and tweaking of my form.

More miles and POSTURE STUFF

Hey, what’s going on? Let’s see, what have I been up to? Well, I did a 15 mile run last weekend, followed by runs later in the week of 9.3, 7, and 6.2. I might do a race tomorrow because it’s within walking distance of my house. How convenient!

OK, time to talk about posture. If your posture isn’t right, it throws off everything else. To get the kind of poised, balanced posture which prevents injury, there are a few things you can try. Hold your arms outstretched at your sides as if you are about to do a swan dive. Imagine your are at a great height, looking down at everything below you. You might find that your head is drawn back atop your spine differently than it typically is. This is the kind of position you want when running, or doing anything while standing, actually. When running, it helps me to occasionally remember this idea of imagining I am quite high up, perhaps gazing down at things miles below me. This helps me keep that light, poised feeling of having correct posture. Do not look too far down. You should not be looking at your feet. That will make you draw your chin in too much, causing tension in your neck. There is a sort of “sweet spot” between looking out too much and looking down at your toes. You should be gazing at the ground several feet in front of you. If you were running barefoot, you might automatically look at that spot to avoid any obstacles in your path. Hmmm…interesting!

Anyway, it’s very easy for us to succumb to gravity, with our spine compressing and our head moving forward on an outstretched neck. This posture is typical of many runners, and is the first step toward injury.

Barefoot

The run I enjoyed most last week was one where I did some barefoot stuff. I did it Thursday during my last workout before Saturday’s race. For me, doing a little barefoot running and walking seems to help my feet and legs feel stronger. I ran on a grassy field and walked home barefoot. It was fun and felt great.

I run for enjoyment. After yesterday’s race, which I didn’t enjoy at all, I was wondering why I should keep doing it.  I know that many runners talk about needing to run right on the edge of nausea, or in constant discomfort during a race to know that they’re doing it right. I REALLY have no interest in this kind of experience. Yesterday I felt uncomfortable most of the time, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Today, I thought back on that barefoot session and decided to try it again. I went out this afternoon with shoes on, but took them off once I got to a bike path. I ran and walked around barefoot for a couple or three miles and took it slow and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I think having decent form allows me to do this without getting hurt. I didn’t scuff up my feet and my legs feel good. I plan to keep doing this for a while.