Last month when i finished born to run at first i figured it was just another good book with a story line. However, over the course of a few days I remembered my surfing days in Southern California and the fact that by the end of the summer my bare feet could take a pounding and do very well.
I also remembered the Seal Beach Wrestling team. We always dreaded wrestling these guys because they seemed so tough and as always never wore wrestling shoes; 100% barefoot. Tough feet due to never wearing shoes.
So given these memories I decided to try some barefoot running and collect data so i could learn and pass along what I learn to others with a long term goal of mutual sharing.
First attempt and lesson learned:
Given i had no idea where to start I drove out to Beaver Pond Park (private city park full of runners) and took off my running shoes. Zero stretching just started to run. No socks, just bare feet. Within minutes I could not walk let alone run. The bottom of my feet are soft and gentle. Even the smallest rock or bump caused the bottom of my feet to hurt. I learned that shoes have turned my bare feet into wimps. super wimps.
Data collected from the first effort:
- Feet are super sensitive after years of wearing shoes.
- Park grass is full of bumps and rocks. Feet are very sensitive to the unsettled grass
- I felt everything. Brain seemed very aware of what my feet where doing.
First week of efforts:
The next day I returned to barefoot running but this time at the UNCA soccer field. The grass is super short and very well groomed. The field is closed to the public so i ran on the sidelines of the field which appeared to be in the same condition as the field. Boy what a difference. I was able to run 2 miles.
Data collected from my first week of running:
- Soccer field much easier to run on then park grass
- First 100 yards my feet did not know what to do. I was kinda lost
- 200 yard mark to 2 mile mark my feet felt very good.
- Was landing at the back of the ball of my foot, both feet
- After 100 yards of running my feet started to do the same thing
- When I started the left foot had a different style then the right.
- By the time I finished the 2 miles the left and right foot had the same style.
- I did not spend much energy.
- Moved about the same speed as running with shoes but with much less effort
- Near the end of 2 miles the heal on the right foot started to hurt a bit. New pain.
Second and Third week effort:
Each time i would go out the running seemed easier. I looked forward to the short runs. My brain felt like a kid when I kicked off my shoes and started to run. I also did the same course with my shoes on. First, I would run the 2 miles then I would put my shoes back on and run the same 2 miles. I would return on week three and try putting my shoes back on with and without socks.
Data Collected from second and third week:
- I felt like a kid when I went running barefoot
- Within a few yards of running both feet would self correct and have the same style.
- Would run the 2 miles without shoes then put shoes on with no socks.
- Noticed that shoes require much more energy to run on the same grass.
- When I ran barefoot my feet and the brain connected. I did not have to do anything
- When I put the shoes back on with or without socks left foot would land on the left outside of the foot almost right away.
- I went running 2 miles then went on a 14.3 mile trail run. Noticed that my entire body was in balance with almost no pain. It seemed like the pre-barefoot run was a great warm up to a long trail run.
- When I wore no shoes the feet relaxed. When I put shoes back on the foot would crunch up and I would have to tell the foot to relax. (all the time)
The most important thing I have learned so far is running a short barefoot run on groomed grass then heading out to the trail is a great warm up exercise. My entire body performed much better with this process then without this process. Most important thing I noticed was the body was much more relaxed on the days that I went running barefoot before I ran a long trail run; 14 miles.
I tried a bit of park grass this week. So far the foot is still not too excited about the rocks and bumps. However, the bottom of the foot is getting stronger just not very fast.
Tonight I went to the soccer field and ran about 1 mile. The field is very wet and very cold; 32 degrees. At first my feet performed very well with both feet acting the same and relaxing. However, within 10 minutes I could not feel my feet and before you know it I had no clue what my feet did. With my feet numb from the cold it felt like i had shoes on. I had lost a connection with my feet even though i had no shoes on.
Data collected from the fourth week
- Bottom of the feet getting tougher but a long ways to go.
- Within 20 yards both feet self correct and start running almost the same style
- Put the shoes back on and the effort is much harder plus feet start running a different style. Right foot does its thing and left foot does its thing.
- If the foot goes numb due to running on a super cold surface the feet start acting like they are in shoes. I can not tell what they are doing any more.
- If I run 2 miles barefoot on the soccer field then head out and do a 14 mile trail run the entire body is relaxed and i use much less energy during the run. My leg muscles do not hurt. I sweat less. (not a whole lot less however).
Back to my surfing days. At the start of spring when i started to walk around on pacific coast highway or the hot sand my feet needed some protection. By the time school was out my feet could walk on any road surface including hot sand with no problems.
Second, when i wear shoes the feet do their own thing. The right foot has its landing and motion style and the left foot has its landing and motion style.
Most important after a month of this effort two big things stand out. First, it takes a ton less energy to run without shoes then with shoes. Second, a 2 short miles on the groomed soccer field barefoot then a long 14 mile trail run create perfect condition. My body is very loose and very relaxed.
It seems so far that shoes do a great job of protecting my feet while making my legs and upper body do tons of work. My feet stay super weak and my legs get super strong.
to be cont..