Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wakonda Camp Trail - Crushed Rock Sucks - Thoughts on How to Transition

A couple of thoughts I had about transitioning to barefoot running....

In many ways barefoot running as a change or commitment is just like any other resolution such as eating less, quitting drinking or lifting weights and stretching.

The first thing you need to do is publicly proclaim your commitment to what ever it is you are attempting. Staying "in the closet" makes it easy to back away. It puts you on the record. Your reputation is now at stake. Don't worry about failing. We all fail. In fact most successful people fail more than non-successful folks. They just try more things. Being able to laugh at your life's antics is healthy and good for your personal development. At the least, it'll make a great stories for your funeral.

Next you need a goal, say completing a 1/2 marathon barefoot. This gives you something concrete to measure your success upon. Actually pick out a race in the near future and peg everything around it. It makes the abstract idea into a monument that can be obtained. It's all about giving you a motivating deadline and making it real.

Finally, set up a plan than includes mini-milestones such as...by this date I wan't to be totally sans shoes; ...On this date, I'll run the Washington 5k barefoot. When you finally make the leap and set the dates, the progress comes much more quickly.

Forgive yourself along the way. Don't get upset by setbacks. They will happen. Keep at it. Set new goals if you miss a deadline, or just roll with it. I've been experimenting with this for about 2 years. I often would jump back into shoes after a barefoot run. I think being half assed made ultimately for more pain not less.

My recent injury training for Boston provided me the opportunity to step back and give barefooting a chance.

After last weeks trail run in my five fingers I was determined to run this week at Camp Wakonda sans shoes. I knew it would be tough but it helped me mentally not having anyone waiting around on me. No matter how slow, I figured I could pick my way through. I didn't even bother carrying shoes like I do on my long runs. I just knew I could do it. The terrain is great for working the stabilizers and barefoot running on uneven terrain is really the way to go. If you aren't up to this much intensity, I suggest trails using your vibrams. San's shoes, you don't worry about twisting an ankle. It just won't happen. There's no grabbing associated with a trail shoe. It's easier to judge your footing and to navigate difficult terrain. It's the surfaces we evolved to run on. Considerably much more natural than pavement but in some ways more challenging too. Having said this, I will say I am definitely a NOVICE trail barefooter. It took me much longer than had I wore shoes. The really tough parts of the trail would have been the easiest in shoes. The parts where they "improved" the trail with crushed rock were the hardest on my pigs. I was a bit miffed that these long straight sections posed such a problem for me. I wish they hadn't done that. I mean, the improvments aren't exactly natural. Man just can't resist the urge to add to nature. The crushed rock does not appear naturally. I supose it helps keep a trail clearly defined, but the rest of the path thats just dirt seems to be just fine. Perhaps I'll eventually able to run quickly on these surfaces. Regardless, I took away a new level of confidence from the experience. My feet were sore but not shredded. The gravel kept me from being able to run the whole thing. But, I'll be fine tonight for the FAST workout. I ended up running about 4 1/2 miles on the trail. Here's a video showing a similar terrain trail run. The feeling on the feet? Awesome!


Matt S. said...

Good read Rob, once again. Hey BTW, since you are training for your first full barefoot marathon, I have a question. How long did it take Julian to get to the point he is at today? I mean, really, he is running sub 3 over and over barefoot! I appreciate all your wisdom and if it makes you feel any better, I wrote this post barefoot :).

Rob F. said...

Julian said:
"I did my first marathon 3 months after starting barefoot, and I got sub 3, but my training runs were painfully slow, like above 10 minutes per mile a lot of the time. "

He's amazing and my BF hero! BTW, he came across about when you did in San Diego. I was checking the race results the other day.

Matt S. said...

Amazing, only 3 months! Yeah I saw him out there. He finished with Dean Karnazes.