Barefoot Beginnings

A few months ago I began exploring using occasional barefoot running sessions to strengthen my feet. It was never my plan to go all out barefoot, but now here I am on the verge!

My decision to push barefoot further than the original plan was instigated by yet another book on running – “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. I’d never even heard of this book until two weeks ago when my sister emailed me a link to a TED talk by Christopher.

My sister is well aware of my crazy goal to run 5 half marathons and 4 full marathons this year and so on occasion will send various news articles or video links.  Watching this video caused an even crazier plan to germinate – running an ultra!  What if instead of treating each run this year as an individual goal, why not treat the entire year as a training year for running an ultra in 2016?  Brilliant!

So I bought Born To Run so that I could read about the Terahumara to see what gives with the extreme distance running.  I received it just in time to take it with me to a convention in New Orleans.  I settled into my seat and started reading before taking off from Omaha.

By the time I got to New Orleans I only had one chapter left to read. Even if you never plan to run a single yard barefooted I highly recommend this book to all runners, I found it very inspirational.  So much so that I called my daughter to recommend that she buy it.

By now I’d already been sprinkling some barefoot runs in, exclusively on the treadmill though.  After reading the book though I decided that I was all in.  I haven’t pushed it hard, I’ve listened to my body, and my body is pretty much telling me to go for it.

I’ve upped my mileage barefoot to the point that all of my runs except the Sunday 15+ mile runs are either barefoot or in my New Balance Minimus shoes.  Not exactly 100%  barefoot, but I’m still working on toughening up my soles and don’t want to risk anything this close to the Lincoln Marathon.

For my everyday wear, like to work and such, I’ve ditched anything that remotely has a thick sole, opting for my deck shoes, a couple pair of loafers, and my beloved hand made deer hide moccasins that I bought at a Mountain Man Rendezvous in Utah.

Tomorrow my new pair of Soft Star Run Amoc shoes will arrive, and shortly after that a pair of Xero Shoes huaraches.

In the two weeks that I’ve switched all of my weekday training runs to barefoot/near barfoot my right knee has actually stopped aching, my left calf no longer complains, and I don’t have any extensor digitorum longus muscle fatigue during the first two miles of my runs like I did with my heretofore usual Asics Gel Nimbus.

I seriously doubt that I’ll run any of my marathons this year barefooted, or as near to barefoot as possible but I might be surprised.  I’m not going to say never.

In fact, I’m going to finish this and head to the Goodwill to drop off all of the other shoes that I’m not going to be needing anymore 🙂