Sacrificing Supersonic Runs and my Soles

My Invisible Shoe Huaraches 4mm
Running supersonic while people pass me on the bike trail with their dogs is not the brightest of ideas I've had lately. It totally fouled my tabata run this morning. Rather than taking a few bites in the ass I opted to slow down a bit to let the crazy dogs pass. It messed up my time and it totally fucked up my counting. Yeah. I'm challenged that way, as you know. I eventually finished out the run, but ended up doing one more sprint than needed which was just as well.

That wasn't the only run that was logistically sacrificed this week. Well sort of. I struggled with how I was going to run on Monday. Seth finally programmed either a longish (well... 45 minute) run or bike for my workover and I chose the run. I have been jonesin' to run barefoot lately, but knew that this was a "workover" and it (as Seth puts it) should never be comfortable or easy, unless he tells me just to go have fun, which he does on occasion. So although I could have worn my Pace Gloves and pushed it really hard on my run I opted to warm up barefoot and then slide my thinnest pair of huaraches on after about a half mile. Then I tried to push it while still running smiley.

That is until the knot on the bottom of the huaraches started to bug my neuroma. I had to stop a few times to adjust the knot so that it pointed a different direction, but it managed to work its way back to the spot between my toes a few times. I didn't have this issue with the 6mm soles. I haven't had neuroma issues since I started running barefoot so the fact that I even had an inkling of it was a little perplexing. Eventually it got sorted out or I just ignored it. One or the other.

Got my mojo back after finding some mysterious messages on the trail (which turns out were written by a girlfriend of mine). I think I might bring chalk on my next run if I'm not running trails. Even if it is a trail run, maybe I'll write in the path with a stick or leave pebble messages. I'm not a big fan of the cutesy stuff, but maybe I'll leave something to think about on the trail. Or something to laugh at. Ok. So that will probably take WAY too much time, but I LOVE the idea.

I haven't ran more than 4 miles barefoot or minimal in a while (if you don't count my last race which was 14 miles in my Merrell Pace Gloves) so my soles are pretty out of shape for the longer distances. My run on monday was around 5.25 miles with some little hills and I was trying to push it a little. I had no idea that my feet could still get the same rub spots and blisters in huaraches as with running completely barefoot. They did. It wasn't too bad, though, because although my soles aren't as tough as they were, say, seven or eight months ago, they quickly adapt. Even by running my smaller distances (half a mile or so) barefoot I feel like the soles of my feet leather up to close to where they were before I started cross-training. Its hard to keep them completely conditioned year round with HOT summer asphalt/cement (sometimes getting out to the trails is just a no-go) and sub 30-degree winters (don't laugh, you cold weather hard-asses!). I try though.

Besides the conditioning of my soles, what has barefoot running done for me over the course of the past year? Well, I can say with confidence that I will never need to wear an ultra-motion control shoe ever again. My pronating issues aren't gone completely, but I don't roll inwards like I used to. Just by looking at my shoes I can tell how much less roll I have. And those Merrells have been pretty well broken in by now. My balance is much better. My bunion hasn't bugged me. My running form is much more efficient. And with every barefoot run I do I can't help but smile because I truly and honestly love feeling the ground underneath my feet. I'm a little patchouli that way. It has definitely become a passion. Somewhat limited, but a passion nonetheless.

So what hasn't barefoot running done for me? Well, it hasn't been the panacea I thought it would be, although I say this with a little hesitation. This probably isn't because barefoot running doesn't work but more because I want more out of running right now. The more I started running barefoot, the more I got my old running mojo back and the more I just wanted to run with reckless abandon! In order to achieve this goal, and run the races I wanted to run this summer, I've opted to run minimally for most of them. After building up a pretty decent barefoot base (although in hind sight I think I could have used a whole lot more) I bought my first pair of minimal shoes... and second pair... and huaraches (which I was luckily given) to try out. I couldn't expect my feet to hang barefoot at the distances I wanted to go on trails I've never ran before so minimal was my choice. Also, my unconventional training (which is helping me run/race again) does not involve a lot of running - how ironic is that??? So... I didn't have the confidence to attempt some of these races completely bare.
No more rolling in!

With my priority being running these crazy fun but brutal trail races and not so much about the slow and steady trodding of barefoot, I am still experiencing the pain in my knee which I had prior to running barefoot. I'm not completely sure if its IT Band, Chondromaltia Patella, or my weird shortened/elongated tendon mystery dysfunction), although it seems I am able to go further now before it starts to bug me. I am still currently working on this with rolling, stretching and mobility work and, as always, trying to keep my form immaculate when I run.

So I don't expect too many issues at the barefoot run I will be doing in New York as its a "run-your-own-race" format and if things start to go bad I will just trade my running in for drinking beer. *grinning.* I do, however, expect that I will probably have some problems with my left knee come my marathon in October, but I'm working really hard at trying to get things sorted before then. I keep telling myself that I can take off the shoes if I absolutely have to. I don't think I will be capable of doing the full 27 miles of trail barefoot, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get me to the finish line.
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  1. I am back running after of months of training for my backpacking trip in the Sierras, and I am back to barefoot running. My poor soles can take only 5miles if the surface is not too rough. Still, I love the feeling and my barefoot runs leave me feeling strong while shod (Merrell Gloves, which I love) change my gait enough that I feel tired after I run in them. True, I run longer distances in shoes. I think I will try huaraches again but I did not like them very much last time I tried.
    When I was doing John Muir Trail, I would leave messages on the trail for those to follow, especially on some more nasty inclines.


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