Tuesday, July 12, 2011

my never final say on barefoot running

i had the opportunity to run barefoot (or nearly so, i was wearing socks) the other day...  and so i did.  not far, and not for long, but it was absolutely enlightening.

the short version:  i'm done (kind of) trying to ween myself from running shoes.

a little bit longer version:  the experience of actual (almost) barefoot running was really great.  for about 10 minutes.  the pressure on my knees, my ankles, hips, etc...  it wasn't there.  my stride felt so incredibly efficient and natural.  after 10 minutes, i had to stop due to blisters that formed on the formost part of my foot, directly in the center, behind the toes.

no brainer:  it takes a long time to build up the kind of callouses you need to run barefoot, and even then, there are things in the road you quite simply cannot build up enough protection against (i found a surprising number of sharp little cell phone parts strewn about, for one).  i live in a city and i don't see myself moving out of it anytime soon...  the fact that i need SOME protection is, well, a no brainer.

so why not minimalist trainers?  i've done a bit of running in minimal shoes (keen sandals, slip-on canvas "sneakers") and found the experience to be completely different than running barefoot.  a couple clear points 1.) i very clearly land mid-to-fore foot when running barefoot, 2.) the pads of the front of my feet seem to hit the ground just before my spread out toes, 3.) the instantanous sensation of the foot pad and then toes seems to clue my body in very naturally to what kind of pressure, how long to keep the foot down, etc...  4.) none of this happens naturally with any kind of shoes on (that i've tried).

so, for me, not matter what shoes i'm wearing, it's still not the same as barefoot running.

important too is the fact that each step is different, based on terrain, body position, level of effort required, etc...  we don't all run on completely flat surfaces 100% of the time.  what i found was a shocking amount of variety of "steps" that i did when running barefoot.  this, for me, cannot be replicated with shoes on; without all the sensory feedback.

i learned i cannot run without shoes and i learned that minimal shoes don't bring me near to what i'm hoping to achieve from running barefoot.

so last night i strapped my trainers on and ran, thinking, you know what, this is it...  enjoy your run, it is what it is.  i CAN say i learned a lot about foot PLACEMENT from running barefoot (i.e. to SIT a bit more on my run so that my knee and ankle are slightly bent when my foot hits the ground, to not allow my stride to go out in front of me, which makes me feel like i'm falling forward at first, but then really settles in naturally, to let my foot land where comfortable for the particular stride, not necessarily forcing my foot to land of the balls of my feet, etc) which i can actively apply to my running form in shoes.  and, so i'm told, if you don't something long enough, it starts to become easier.  isn't that what running is all about?

maybe in some part, but running for me really is about enjoying myself.  and despite the small form adjustments i made on last night's run, i really just ran for the fun of it, didn't worry so much about doing it this way or that way.

you can tell i'm not being very scientific about this...  i don't WANT to be.  i just want to do what works for me.  so, i do not own motion controlled shoes any more...  i am smarter and more educated in my form...  but all in all, i'm just out there doing it the way that works best for ME, the way that makes me happiest.

at least for now.

1 comment:

  1. One good thing about barefoot running - at least it's not an expensive experiment!

    I think your attitude is right on. Glad you had a good run last night.