Friday, 15 April 2011

Barefoot Running 4 Days In

Of course it isn't really really barefoot running at all. The real barefooters call it Minimalist Running. MR shoes have no support, minimal protection and the heel is at the same level as the forefoot. Still I'm 4 days in and its an interesting experience. All the advice said to start at 1 mile and increase by 10% a day so four days in and I'm at the dizzy distance of 1.33 miles. It is driving me nuts and Reiver is decidedly unimpressed! Last week we were doing 6-8 miles a day in the Torridon Hills he wonders what on earth is going on. Still tomorrow I'll get a proper run in as well as my MR training. We'll batter out at least 6 miles through the Troon woods.

Anyway back to the barefoot. It does feel good but I think that I'm thinking about it too much. I'm running almost entirely up on my toes rather than allowing the foot to fall naturally. Also the advice says that your cadence rises from 140 to 180 per minute. Thinking about that is really slowing me down. So all in all four days in I'm feeling good but think that I need to mellow out a bit and just run naturally. Love the way that the shoes feel though.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Barefoot Experiment

This year's challenge is to get back to barefoot running. As a kid in Kenya and Zambia I went barefoot except during term time. Two years ago I was having real problems with various lower leg issues and finally, in desperation, abandoned a brand new pair of road shoes (they are still under my desk in mint condition) and started running in a pair of trail shoes with no pronation correction at all. The issues went away and I even ran my first (and last) ultra training largely on roads in lightweight shoes.

Then last year I read Christopher McDougall's Born to run and an article in Nature snappily titled: "Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners". The ideas on the problems caused by heel strike were compelling and matched my experience the year before. I continued to do my road running in trail shoes, my hill shoes are of course already pretty minimal and I did some actual barefoot work on the beach. I tried to buy a pair of Vibram Fivefingers but my feet don't fit them.

So this week after seeing an advert for Merrell Barefoot shoes in Trail I've invested in a pair of their trail gloves and am giving barefoot style running a real shot.