Feet toughening

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Blemons, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. Blemons

    Blemons
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    Hey guys - I am 53 and have been running full barefoot now for 3 months and absolutely love it. I'm a little frustrated though at the time it takes to toughen the feet up. I'm running a consistent 3 miles per outing primarily on smooth concrete with no problem. I tried this week though to run on a fine gravel trail and felt like a preemo rookie tender foot. Maybe it's my age? Anyway, how long should I expect to be able to handle rougher terrains? Am I just too impatient?
     
    #1 Blemons, Jan 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2017
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  2. BroadArrow

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    it will indeed take a little while. it is not likely your age. it will probably take on the order of months to handle rougher terrains (depending on your definition of "handle"; maybe a year to get into the beginning of the gnarly range). and indeed you are too impatient: you are having fun! :) smooth concrete basically feels like someone massaging your feet with warm velvet. which is fantastic. except if you ever want to leave the sidewalk.

    in my experience, three things have to happen. first, your feet have to develop the fat pad to go between your tendons/ligaments/bones/muscles and the gravel. that will more or less happen by running on concrete as opposed to maybe sand or mud or grass. second, all the tendons/ligaments/bones/muscles have to strengthen and get used to what you are throwing at them. that comes by putting the miles in and throwing things at them. and third, the mind and the feet have to learn to work together to deal with the pokies.

    around here, i am becoming the chip-n-seal apostle. running long distances on smooth concrete made my heart/lungs/legs happy and my feet weak. after that experience, i decided to go out of my way to run on chip-n-seal at least a token amount as often as i could to strengthen my feet (and hopefully keep everything else healthy, too). for me, it was a pride swallowing exercise (that is, an acceptance of reality since there wasn't/isn't much to be proud of anyway). i slowed down to basically a crawl and would then slowly speed up to whatever i could handle on the surface. but, by hitting the chip-n-seal (which doesn't move under your feet while still poking like gravel, so you get more poking and less useless "pain"), my feet (and knees, strangely) got much stronger, the skin thicker (which is important through the winter), and the nerves able to adjust their sensitivity appropriately. and the mind was able to learn the difference between a poke that really mattered and a poke that just happened to be poking a little bit. after a while, i started weaving all over the road searching for the roughest patches; and while the broom-finished concrete sidewalks felt more wonderful than ever, when i ran on them, i missed the rough pavement.

    so yeah: it will take a while, but it will probably be worth it. your pace will slow waaayyy down and then slowly recover. and when you return to the smooth pavement you will really zoom.
     
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  3. Blemons

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    Awesome! Very good input. Thanks!
     
  4. pilotrunner

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    Hey guys and gals...long time no see.

    Just went over the 6 year mark, 5 official marathons and well over 7K miles (stopped officially counting after 5K) on my bare feet. Here's are my thoughts, worth exactly what you're about to pay for them...

    - Challenge your feet. What I mean is to seek out the roughest compound you can tolerate. Will be different for each individual, I realize, and while concrete will bed your feet (bones, tendons, muscle, etc...), it ultimately will not develop the bottoms to an acceptable level. Try to find some asphalt. Then seek out some chip-n-seal. Work up in difficulty.

    - Form over speed. Tougher, or rougher, surfaces will force a better running position resulting in even more natural body-cushioning from your ankles, knees, hips, etc... and don't worry a lick about speed.

    - HAVE FUN! This is lost on a lot of new to bare-feet runners.

    Cheers.

    PILOTRUNNER
     

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  5. Blemons

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    Thanks for the experienced insight! I will definitely put that into practice.
     
  6. Lorena

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    This thread is related to what just happened to me yesterday. I had a set back on my second metatarsal so I stopped for 4 weeks. I went back to running 2 miles last week and then this week 4 miles. Not back to back. I had already left behind blisters or discomfort on my soles. I decided to try a hard surface yesterday and I got a blister on my fourth toe and a bruise at the bottom of it. Since my right foot was the one I got that issue, I wonder if my form is the problem. I was running without more issues. Hmm.... I guess I must improve. Well, I thank you in advance for any suggestions. :)
     
  7. Tristan

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    @Blemons just give it some more time - 3 months isn't a whole lot of time for changes to really happen. And as been said already you need to seek out some rougher surfaces. Concrete is to smooth. I run mainly on asphalt rail-trails and even they are of little help unless you get a lot of mileage in. As much as I absolutely love real nature trails I've always hated running on gravel. It's a love hate relationship and I end up just running on the smooth paved surfaces and save the real trails for hiking. Mind you I do occasionally run on chip-seal too but not much when looking at total distance. One thing I've found that helps me even on the smoother asphalt trails is the summer heat. Doesn't do much good right now though. And for someone starting out it's a bit dangerous... it's easy to burn tender feet on hot asphalt. But my tolerance to heat has grown (over a few years time, not months) and I find not only can I tolerate just about anything the summer heat throws at me up here, it seems to help turn the soles into very thick, tough, and smooth leather of sorts.

    @Lorena I'm not quite following exactly what your problem is, but I can say blisters are usually from friction and if you get them on your toes it often means your 'clawing' with your toes too much. Try to let your toes be loose, and the last thing that touches down, and make sure you're not pushing off with your toes either. I'm not sure about the bruise, never really got any of those other than stepping on a rock.
     
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  8. Bill B

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    What he said!! I too am 53, been barefoot running for 6 years. We used to live in the country, lots of gravel, seal coat etc. Feet got tough! Have since moved to town where I run on paved bike trails. Took a trail run, and couldn't believe how soft my feet had gotten! Had a tough time on spots I cruised through before. Be patient and switch it up, it'll come!! Good luck!
     
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  9. Tedlet

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    Welcome Blemons.
    Ditto everything that's been said above I think. -If you trawl through the comments on the forum surrounding most topics I think you'll spot a common theme very often: 'patience'. Keep at it slow and steady, gradually increasing what you challenge yourself with and it will come...
    Enjoy...:barefoot:
     
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  10. Lorena

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    You're absolutely right, I was clawing my toes since I recently had a stress reaction so once I went back to running unconsciously I was landing not as relaxed as I was doing before. I stopped for 3 days and today I tried again on a short run. It wasn't that bad but I still feeling that ouch! Well, it's all about practice practice until my soles are happy again. I truly appreciate your advice. Thank you :)
     
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  11. Lorena

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    A "proud swallowing exercise" sounds a funny way to describe how the cheap n seal feels like! Yes! It's all except for funny! Hurts like hell! But yeah, I understand now why I'm so ouch! It's the second time I run on that surface. Before all was concrete and smooth asphalt trails. Easy peasy lol! Now I get it. Well, I'll keep trying!
     
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  12. Lorena

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    I ran again today since I had no pain at all due to that bruise I mentioned before. It's swollen, hurting and even walking bother now. I could have wear my xero sandals but but I felt good enough to run on clean asphalt trails. My PT checked on it and except for that awful bruise all is good. I am posting a pic of how it looks hoping your opinions about it. I appreciate in advance anything you like to share.
     

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  13. JosephTree

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    Wow! I was just going to write "run a few more years" and " yes, you're too impatient." Everyone else's responses are much better.
    To throw a little reference back to the BF gurus, I think its BF Bob who ishould constantly encouraging us to challenge our soles with the roughest surfaces we can handle (footle?)
    "Two roads diverged in a wood....and I chose the one much rougher...and that has made all the difference." Apologies to R. Frost
     
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  14. Blemons

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    Interesting thing happened... I've been running barefoot for about 3 months now decided to just do a barefoot walk on an off day between my normal 3 mile run outing days. Well, I walked about a mile and wound up with blisters on both heels! What the heck?! I thought my feet were passed that stage! I guess that proves though that I'm not heel striking when I run!
     
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  15. Barefoot Gentile

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    7 years running barefoot for me, and I don't think you ever get used to challenging surfaces if you don't train on them consistently. I mostly run on the streets, but even now when hit some chip-n-seal it's always a bit tougher. I ran a 50k trail race barefoot years ago, and purposely trained on gravel paths, and did notice a higher tolerance for "tougher" surfaces, but after the race that toughness disappeared. And 3 months is not long at all, you are very much in the green stage:)
     
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