Barefoot Marathon in 167 days....is this possible?

Discussion in 'Training Information/Training Regimens' started by James Snook, Nov 3, 2014.

  1. James Snook

    James Snook
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    Hello All,

    So I am a newbie to barefoot running and my calves are still adjusting to the extra load. That being said, I am suffering zero of the injuries I used to get when running with shoes on (especially shin splints) and I absolutely love running barefoot.

    At the moment I can do 3-4km barefoot twice a week. This allows me ample time to recover. I am really a triathlete at heart not a runner, so I also ride and swim every week, so will be unable to devote a lot more than 2-3 runs per week into my marathon training.

    The question I want to ask is, do you think it is realistic that I might be able to get up to barefoot Marathon distance in 167 days. I am entered into the Brighton Marathon via a charity place in mid April 2015 and would dearly love to run it barefoot.

    Any thoughts, comments, hints or tips would be graciously received.

    James
     
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  2. BroadArrow

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    remember that you get what you pay for and this advice is free.

    the short answer is: yes.

    long answer: the only information i can contribute is my own experience. when i took up running, i had been doing daily life barefoot for about 2 months (i.e., no shoes starting in june, started running in august). i was starting effectively on a zero base. i tried to go running fairly regularly, but the combination of just starting out and life in general meant that i was probably getting out about 2 or 3 times a week for maybe an average of 2 or 3 miles per run. around january, i decided that i should make an attempt at preparing for the local marathon which was like the 3rd week of april. of course, it was the middle of winter, so that made life interesting. but, after doing a half-marathon distance in training (clearly, not the first run....) without excessive effort or any ill effects, i figured i should take the plunge since i knew i could do the half. in the event, i more-or-less ran the first half decently and then made a bad "nerves+banana" decision that set my stomach back for the next many miles resulting in a walk/run mix very heavily tilted toward walking. but, i did finish, which was the primary goal for the day. this was accomplished entirely skin-to-roadway with no backup shoes. naturally, my legs and feet knew they had run a marathon, but the skin was not ground down at all and the muscles/tendons/ligaments of the foot were strangely appreciative of the beatdown and recovered quickly. i was back to taking my kids out on walks either that day or the next and back to running on day 2 or 3.

    i'm not saying that my experience is the right way, but the question was whether it was possible, so it only takes one instance to be able to answer the question in the affirmative.
     
  3. James Snook

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    Thank you for your reply BroadArrow. Whether your experience is the right way or not is largely inconsequential, as you have managed to complete a marathon barefooted with only a few months proper training (indicating that whatever you did, it worked). I am impressed.

    Also I'm hugely enthused by the fact that you managed to complete the race on a similar amount of training to what I can commit to. I am in about the same place that you said you started from; however I have a couple of extra months on my side.

    Think I will continue to increase my distance very slowly, listen to my body and I am quietly optimistic that I can get there.

    Thanks again for the reply.

    James
     
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  4. Tristan

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    Well I'm no expert but I'm fairly sure the proper answer is 'impossible to say with any certainty'. Especially without knowing more about your current condition. You say you can do 3-4k barefoot right now but we have no idea what you can run otherwise... I mean are you already an experienced marathoner? Or never ran in your life before a few months ago? How tough are your feet? Are you habitually barefoot around the house and in other aspects of daily life or is it a completely new experience for you? Even with the answers to the above questions its still hard to say... some runners will never run a marathon in their life while others seem to be able to train and complete one in just several months.

    The general and conservative advice that was once given frequently on these forums (but since then people are often ok with much faster progression) is not to try to race at all in your first year of barefoot running.

    I can give my own experience like BroadArrow did, but realize this is just me and everyone will be different. Mine was on the slow and conservative side. Prior to starting barefoot in 2011 I had sort of got back into running 2-3 years before that. By sort of I mean just when the weather warmed up in spring, and usually by the end of summer and start of fall I was done. It wasn't structured at all and my runs were maybe around 3-8 miles, 2-3 times a week. In those few years shod I did do several 5k races and one 10k. Suffered through shin splints or something like them, and also plantar fascitis. I was not barefoot AT ALL in my 'previous life', so I started from scratch with walking barefoot for a few weeks (as well as wearing minimalist shoes in 'every day life'), and progressed to very short runs after a few weeks. It took me a couple months of running to get up to a couple miles. And after every run my soles were burning so I knew I was at my limit. Certainly there are those out there who start off running a mile or two and in a couple months time are up to half marathon distances. So I'm definitely on the slow side of normal progression. Besides my soles, my calves struggled with the new found forefoot landing (I was a bad heel striker prior). That problem has remained with me mostly throughout the last 3 years. Winter set me back since I could not run barefoot much after October, and didn't start again bare until April. In May I ran a 5k race though I did it with a friend who was much slower than I so I didn't really race it. I did my first (ever) half marathon in August (11 months after starting over barefoot). The following year I did 2 more half's before finally going for a full marathon in October (25 months after starting over barefoot).

    My training in the beginning consisted of usually 3 runs per week, of equal distances, up until I hit around 6-8 miles. Then it became 6-8 mile runs with one long run, that kept getting longer each week. That seemed to work well for me. I needed the day off in between, and an extra day off after long runs or once I started doing faster workouts.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
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  5. BarefootJL

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    Hi James,

    I think what BroadArrow did was impressive, but I also think it isn't a typical case (he did point out that it was just his experience, not a plan or recommendation).

    I also managed to follow a similar plan to the one you intend to do, as I was also training the triathlon way (haven't done one yet), so my running days were just 2 or 3 per week, one of them being the long run. There were 2 important differences though: I didn't train/race barefoot (ran on huaraches) and I started my plan on a little longer base (10k).

    However, my training plan was about 20 weeks long, so that's 140 days. I guess the extra days you have can make up for some of the difference on the initial long run. In general, my running training consisted on a long run on sundays that would increase 10% per week, and a single run in weekdays (or 2 if I was out of town and couldn't ride or swim). Most of my training was done using the Maffetone method, so pretty much all of my activites -including rides and swims- were low-intensity. I did add some faster-paced runs when getting closer to the marathon and a half-marathon that I did some 9-10 weeks prior.

    I'm including a progression of long runs (since it was the only variation I did from week to week) that matches the one I used, in case you find it useful. It uses a 3-ups / 1-down approach, so here it is with the possible dates for your goal:
    09-11-14 7.0
    16-11-14 7.7
    23-11-14 8.5
    30-11-14 7.0
    07-12-14 9.3
    14-12-14 10.2
    21-12-14 11.3
    28-12-14 9.3
    04-01-15 12.4
    11-01-15 13.6
    18-01-15 15.0
    25-01-15 12.4
    01-02-15 16.5
    08-02-15 18.2
    15-02-15 20.0
    22-02-15 16.5
    01-03-15 22.0
    08-03-15 24.2
    15-03-15 26.6
    22-03-15 22.0
    29-03-15 29.2
    05-04-15 32.2
    12-04-15 15.0
    19-04-15 Race Day

    All in all, it went well. My only goals -being this my first marathon- was to finish it, and ideally to do so under 5 hours. I suceeded at both, with the main issues being huarache malfunctions, that made me stop 4-5 times to adjust them.

    Good luck on your marathon James, and keep listening to your body as that's what'll keep you away from any injury.

    Cheers!
     
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  6. BroadArrow

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    i am in agreement with everything that was said (except perhaps the bit about "impressive"). let us affirm the trite expression "listen to your body". but, i once heard an interview with "stjohnthegambler" wherein he described his experience. basically, his tape purchases to stabilize his feet in shoes bumped up against his budget constraint. so he couldn't run. then he decided to try taking his shoes off. the line went something like, "so i listened to my body, and my body wanted to GO!" so he started off with like a multi-mile run and never looked back. others (like tristan-oh) listened to their body and it said, "proceed slowly". so, uh, listen. you don't want to be like 90% of the runners that you pass who look like someone is punishing them...
     
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  7. James Snook

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    I have worked out a very similar plan to the one above already myself, increasing distance by 10% per week.

    Can I just double check with you. Are the distances above in KM or Miles?

    Thanks

    James
     
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  8. BarefootJL

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    They're in kilometers, I thought you guys in UK also used the Metric System, that's why I didn't bother to convert them. It may be a bit confusing since the longest training run is 32kms, but it's kind of the recommended maximum distance to do for marathon training (20 miles / 32 kms), specially for your first one.

    Also, I'm not denying the very important recommendation both BroadArrow and Tristan made, that you should listen to your body. I also, as Tristan mentioned, took extra rest days whenever I felt I needed them. But if you have a very specific goal and want to gradually get to it, it's useful to have a roadmap of what you need to achieve each week. It is a certain thing that life happens and not all long runs will be possible, or something else might come across, but still the plan works as a guide as to what you'd need to achieve for good results.

    JL
     
  9. James Snook

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    No probs, KM was fine for me, though I did start to panic that you might have meant miles. :)


    Also many thanks to BroadArrow and Tristan for your responses. To answer Tristan's questions, I have no previous marathon experience and have not run with any regularity until last year when I took up Triathlon. I have always had a barefoot lifestyle however (especially in the summer) and think my feet are fairly tough.

    I am definitely paying very close attention to my body, resting plenty and also am not totally wed to barefooting yet. I am running in a pair of Luna Sandals as well as barefoot and am thinking I will probably use these when it comes to the marathon.

    Really appreciate the posts and support from you all. This forum really is superb.

    James
     
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  10. migangelo

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    this is the same thing i ask everyone.

    what's the hurry?

    man makes plans and god just laughs.
     

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  11. James Snook

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    In my case I am competing in an Ironman race in September 2015 to commemorate the death of my friends daughter from Neuroblastoma. The marathon is part of my training plan and running barefoot stops me getting injured.

    Otherwise I would be taking me time believe me, but in this instance time is not in my side.
     
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  12. migangelo

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    it won't stop injury. ramping up so much training into so little time increases injury. good luck to you.
     

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