Friday, July 9, 2010

Barefoot Running Progress and Lessons Learned So Far

I'm continuing my experiment with barefoot running. I've gone about this in a fairly conservative manner, because that's my nature, and I wanted to avoid serious injury. So far my progress has been very much in line with what I've read in the two barefoot running books that I've reviewed.
Yesterday, I ran one mile on gravel. I could have gone much further, because my feet were just fine, but I had only planned to do one mile to test my progress so I stopped. It was also getting dark, and I have a strict rule about not running barefoot in the dark. Not only did I run the mile on gravel, but I was also able to do some light sprinting without any problems. A couple of weeks ago, I was not even able to jog a quarter of mile on gravel without stopping to walk.

So far I've learned some important lessons. I've mentioned some of these points previously, but they are worth reiterating.
  1. It helps to start with good technique. I never really had to adjust to hard surfaces. The challenge for me was rough surfaces.
  2. Take it slow. Don't do more than your feet can handle, and let them fully recover before you go on your next barefoot run.
  3. Walking on rough surfaces is excellent training for running on rough surfaces.
  4. Relax, take short strides and maintain a quick turn over is not only good barefoot running technique, but it's also good barefoot walking technique.
  5. You can make progress even if you only run barefoot once or twice a week.
  6. I know that many barefooters will disagree with me on this point, but don't run barefoot in the dark.  I've found broken glass on both the gravel and asphalt tracks I practice on, and never mind the sidewalks and streets. Over the 35 years I've been running, I've had  enough glass crunch underneath my shoes to know that barefooting in the dark is a really bad idea.

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