In recent weeks I’ve gotten in some barefoot running at the gym on the treadmill. Other than being completely mundane, the track gets too hot and gives me blisters. So in a bid to keep up the milage on the treadmill I’ll put on a pair of VFF and run further. This is where I think I am getting somewhere with regards to finding the correct technique. It feels good on my knees, my body feels relaxed, it feels like I am landing on my forefoot first, it feels like I am lifting my legs and not pushing off, my cadence is 180.
So with all this in my mind I decided to try out this technique outside, in the real world. Just to remind you, I live in Sweden. It’s cold here. -12°C at the moment. So less than optimal conditions for barefoot running. On with my VFF Spyridon. Lovely and warm. Even had a pair of socks on too. But, something that I am very aware of after reading Barefoot Ken‘s book Barefoot Running Step by Step (incidentally, I’ll be doing a book review of this soon), there is no sensory feedback with these minimalist shoes. So from the offset I could hear my foot either slapping the ground (flat foot landing), or thudding into the ground (heal strike). Not at all good! After a little over 4km of trying to find the elusive correct technique, I quit my run. My left knee at this point was not enjoying things, so a very wise decision. Very frustrating though.
On my walk back to my starting point (home), I starting thinking what it would feel like to run barefoot. Right now. These thoughts quickly evolved into the realisation that I was definitely going to take both shoes and socks off and run home. The main question was: How cold is it for my feet really, and how long can I endure it?
With roughly 800 metres to my house I whipped of my VFF and socks, and started my first REAL barefoot run outside. After 20 metres I kinda realised that this was a little stupid. But at the same time actually felt good on the knees. Let me just point out that it was after 8pm. Dark. The street lamps where however sufficient enough to guide my feet, but it was almost impossible to see exactly what I was landing on. Terra firma for this 800 metre journey was a mixture of ice, snow, gravel and various pavement and road surfaces. But to be honest my feet couldn’t distinguish between any of it. They were completely numb and frozen after 100 meters. At 400 meters I was seriously thinking about putting my shoes back on, but realising that I would need to sit down to have a chance of getting my freezing toes into the VFF I just continued. The last 100 metres were filled both with the anguish of “How many foreign objects do I have buried in my feet?” and the elation of “I am nearly there, I did it (crazy bastard)”.
Writing this some 45 minutes after getting home, my feet are still tingling (in a kinda burning way), but I am so glad that I “dared” to run barefoot in, well let’s just say, less than optimal conditions. Anyone know of any places to run indoors?