The Barefoot Journey…oochie, ouchie!

05 Apr

With my achilles tendonitis spiralling agonisingly out of control, it’s time to seriously consider barefoot running. As I had suggested before, start with wandering barefoot round your flat, but, eventually you have to take the (stupid) step of going outside.

My first strategy was to go out in light plimsols. Find a quiet area, and slip them off. When I built up the courage to leave my secluded circuit  to run home, it seemed more acceptable to have a pair of shoes slung over my shoulder – at least I could prove that I was wealthy enough to own a pair of shoes.

Still, I’d been out barefoot in the metropolis – only for 5 minutes (after a 20 minuted shoed jog)- but my feet had been naked in public

On the second run, I plucked up courage to do the whole thing barefoot. Ten minutes of very cautious padding about round the back of  Stratford shopping centre, up the service ramp, round the car park, back down, round to the Mall entrance (without being seen!), back around the service route, and back to the flat.

So what are the early barefoot  lessons?

  • Darkness is your friend while you build up your confidence , but you need to see the ground in front of you.
  • Experiment with your foot placement
  • Some pavements are soft
  • Some pavements are hard
  • Tarmac can be hard, but some can be smooth
  • Tarmac can be very nobbly and painful
  • Watch the road in front of you for glass, stones and stuff that could stick in your feet.

As to the actual running lesson: make your early runs modest, say 1000m at most. Stay close to home, experiment with your foot placement. I felt this time lifting my toes a bit, and trying to put the whole foot down (perhaps with a slight ball of the foot lead) felt right, rather than heel-striking (out of the question) and staying on the balls of my foot (which felt to0 nasty on my achilles) Maybe I was POSE running, but I found myself running through some of the guidance given by  Gordon Pirie.

Getting back home, you cannot take dirty shoes off, so you need to either brush your feet off, and get to the shower.

Watch out for the next instalment of this nude foot experiment

4 thoughts on “The Barefoot Journey…oochie, ouchie!

  1. well a few more days experience

    1) i put the flat of my foot down, ball slightly leading but with a slight preference for the outside of the foot to avoid excessive rolling in ( i noticed i pronated a lota and collapsed my arch

    2) noticed that Im thinking a lot more about my feet, rather than letting them run riot

    3) did 25 minutes of steady state and really quite enjoyed it.

    4) useful to have pair of 5 fingers

  2. One place I used to do a lot of my barefoot training in London, is Victoria Park.

    Quick and easy to access from Stratford or better still, Bethnal Green.

    It’s kept nice and clean for the most part and they have an old running track – perfect for getting in some safe barefoot miles.

    In the summer pretty much everyone goes barefoot around there for a little “grass between the toes” action, so for those afraid of hostile reactions to baring their peds, the fear should be alleviated 😉

  3. It would be great if one of the fitness magazines could make barefoot running “cool”. That would reduce the risk of funny looks, as well as cutting the profits of Nike in half.

  4. I have joined the VFF running crew in Australia (although am moving to London in 3 weeks) and have become accustomed to the funny looks and questions about why I am wearing ‘those wierd shoes’ while running (esp now I bought a bright pink and orange pair of Bikilas as they certainly draw attention). However I, like most VFF (or similar) wearers, enjoy the feeling of superiority to those normal folk who wear thick-soled shoes and heel-strike, not realising there is a much safer and less-injurious option. I don’t really mind being different from the rest of the pack, although I am sure Nike will cash in on this and make their own versions of barefoot runners soon. As with all things, a minority have to set the trend for others to follow and undoubtedly, in 6-12 months, barefoot runners will be the mainstream. I look forward to the rest of the exercisers coming over to the light side of barefoot running. In the meantime, I will continue to smile to myself when people double-take when I run past them. 🙂 April.

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