maandag 27 juni 2011

Naked feet feel - my intro to barefoot running

Dear readers! A little overdue because of urgent matters in Greece - relaxing on a Corfutian beach, to be exact - I have made it a two piece act, to soften your judgements... enjoy, and let me know if and when you decide to give it a go!

No excuse
After we moved house last month, there really was no excuse left for me not to work on my fitness. Our new neighbourhood borders on a wonderfully lush lakeside park. It is spring. The writer in me is trying to get out; the runner in me should, too.

Cram the girls in
So I took out my battered, holey running shoes and crammed my large, lactating boobs into their pre-pregnancy sportsbra container. Too snug, really, but in this case it is better to err on the snug side. And off I went. I took it easy and I was in such a nice flow, that I don't really remember the route I took. But I do remember having to slow down to a walk because of my left knee. This knee hasn't given me any problems for years - I haven't been running for years. As I looked around at the skating and "rolski" clubs I happened to pass, my mind wondered. How to get back in shape with this knee? Should I take up rollerblading to improve my condition and hopefully my knees? Putting on skates and protection is a bit of a hassle, and I can only go on reasonable paved paths. Take an intensive Pilates course? Too much like work: boring. I prefer being outdoors, too. The idea of barefoot running popped into my mind just like that.

Google a little
A little Googling confirmed the excellence of my idea. I was amazed to find there's shoes for barefootrunning, too. I'm guessing the runningshoe industry is scared shitless about the promising future of this minimalist trend. Scientific research piles up, suggesting it's really the best way to prevent and cure long time running (knee-) injuries. For me, wearing shoes was never an option when trying out barefoot. Look elsewhere if you're looking for reviews of these kind of shoes.

Jump in!
On monday may 30th, I just jumped in. I looked up my favourite instruction video and got warmed up in front of my laptop, in between putting on my running clothes - good old friend sportsbra being the only really essential item. I had fun doing some ropeskipping, found my kitchen timer and set my first bare foot on the Amstelveen pavement.

What *will* people think?
I could not help looking around at any onlookers, wondering if they would think me crazy. At the same time, I was curiously looking at the pavement and wondering about how it felt to my feet. Not bad, actually. Not bad at all. Where I would have thought I'd try to run on grass whenever I could, in reality I just couldn't be bothered. Our local "stoeptegel" (pavement tile) feels just fine. The sensation, the actual feeling, the feedback, the information the footsole provides is very rich and automatically made me adapt my stride. Just do it, don't overthink it. Soon I was happily enjoying the scenery, the streets, the patches of green, the sunflowers locals had planted in them guerilla style, opening my mind, thoroughly enjoying the experience. I could not catch anyone looking at me funny. No one commented on the nakedness of my feet. Still, you need some courage. Just be Bolt, like Usain ; )

Dirty Feet
Yes, my feet were dirty. No, I did not step into a dog nasty. On the other hand, if I had: my feet are easier to clean than the soles of my running shoes. That I chucked, anyway. As a free bonus: my feet felt all tingly for hours after the first bare foot run. Like I'd had a peeling and massage.

More bonusses
To me, barefoot running combines is a perfect mindfull workout that I can do enjoying the wonderful outdoors. It's great if you want to build up your fitness like myself. The information provided by the sole of your foot makes you adjust your speed and style to the type of base you're running on automatically. Giving you a more varied workout.

The best part is, I ran without feeling anything in my formerly problematic left knee. Also, on the fourth day I went running, I found myself skipping the walking part of my interval session because the running was so effortless and free. The downside of this flow was, I did not notice stepping on something sharp. At home I discovered two little slits in the sole of my foot that did hurt a little. However, treatment was easy enough with a blisterpad and some sports tape.

In theory, the technique helps you run more efficiently, so you'll be able to run faster and longer. This was never my goal, though, so I haven't paid attention to this aspect.

What's next?
For me, my challenge is to work this into my routine in such a way that I can keep having fun with it. I should look into joining a running club or deciding on a frequency that will work for me. Ehm.. yeah. After I recovered from 11 months of broken nights.

How about you? Ready to give it a try, or?

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