The last few days have tested my barefoot readiness. Storms have left the paths at my favorite park strewn with sticks and gravel in some spots. I've found it necessary to pay more attention to how my foot strikes the pavement. However, a big part of my ability to do this has more to do with my calves than the soles of my feet.
This is one point I seem to have trouble conveying to people who ask me about my barefoot running. People are so obsessed with how tough/calloused the soles of my feet must be. I get a lot of slack-jawed stares when I say I'm more worried about straining my calves then stepping on something sharp.
But the strength and flexibility of my calf muscles are among the most important parts of being able to run without shoes. It is those muscles that act as the shock absorbing springs that help keep my heel from striking the ground too hard. I don't run on my toes, but my primary impact is toward the forefoot.
Someday, I suppose, I may benefit from video of my stride, but for now the best way that I can describe my stride is to say that I imagine reaching out with my foot and pulling the ground behind me. I try to keep my foot low to the ground to minimize the shock of coming down. When I'm running my best, it feels to me like I am placing my foot on the ground and letting my body glide forward until I push off. It feels less like I am landing on my feet and more like I am deliberately reaching out and grabbing the ground with my toes.
Hitting my stride
Blog entry posted by TD Moose, Jun 27, 2013.