New member from London

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Tom Nor, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Tom Nor

    Tom Nor
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    Barefooters

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    I found this site when I started running barefoot recently, and was worried about injuries and how quickly to transition, as I will explain below. It has been really helpful, so I will give a few details about how it has gone for me in the hope it will be of help to other people.

    I am 55, but I have run barefoot before, but only on sand - I lived in CA for a while in my 20s and ran c. 8 - 10k / day on beach, that probably helped my running form in retrospect, I think I have been a natural mid/front foot striker since then. When I moved to London which was 30 years ago I pretty much gave up barefoot except for when on beach holidays. I have always run with New Balance shoes, pretty cushioned. My mileage has typically been 25 miles per week recently, but I once in a while train for a half and that takes it up a bit. I have never had any problems with injuries, except recently a bit of a sore knee sometimes.

    In April this year I started training for a half in September, so I upped my mileage to 35/wk and heading for 40. At the same time, I read Chris McDougall's "Born to Run" (I'm sure a lot of people here that's how you started), and also Dan Liebermann's "Human Body". One day, I was near a field in the morning and I thought "why not", so I just did a half mile without shoes on the wet grass and that was it, I had to do more! I started gradually adding a bit more barefoot to my runs and I realised it was not difficult to find places where there were grassy fields and indeed even pavement is OK if its flat and not too rocky. So, off I went to potential injury land.......

    Within a month I was going for 5 mi of my daily run barefoot. Interesting, no problems with blisters or soles of my feet, but I did choose easy surfaces. My "little niggle" came in my calfs - I assume a bit more front foot striking and a bit more spring action were the reason. It happened one day when I was on a pavement, so more spring in the calfs - sudden sharp cramp in one calf. Not a pull but definitely on the way.... So, I looked on the web and sure enough, other people had experienced the same, so I read around a bit, realised it was a bit foolish to try to go from 0 miles per week to 25 barefoot in a month, and put my shoes back on and started to transition more slowly. Now I'm doing about 35 miles per week and c. 1/3 of that is barefoot and no problems at all.

    Things I have noticed (1) My form is better - I'm striking more front foot and I feel like I'm gliding my feet along; my cadence has gone up I think too to c. 180 (was c. 170) - this includes when wearing shoes (2) My knee has given me no problems at all since incorporating a bit of barefoot. (3) Training is much more interesting/fun when you can kick your shoes off for a while. I think my speed is improving more quickly than it has previously when I have trained, so I am hopeful of beating my (not very impressive - I am slow!) p.b. of 1.52 this time.

    I haven't gone for the rubber shoe Vibrams etc., if the road is rocky or there is glass or trash or big stones then I keep my shoes on. So I am genuinely saving money running barefoot as my shoe consumption which was 3/year will certainly go down and not be replaced by rubber shoes that wear out presumably even faster.... And, it must be good for the environment in a little way (less landfill).

    It certainly feels great to leave the shoes by a bench, anyone reading this and thinking about it, "go for it!" - just do go slowly and listen to what your body is saying, it can take a while particularly if you are older.

    I have not found any fellow bare footers yet.

    I'm also not sure how I will get on in the winter, when it is not so much the cold but the muddy conditions that might be tricky for a few months. I will keep people posted - for now, all is good!
     
  2. trevize1138

    trevize1138
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    Barefooters
    1. Minnesota

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    Welcome!

    The calf pain is certainly common and often I find it's the result of a slight over-correction. Personally, I used to be a "heel-striker" and thought I had to simply transition to "forefoot-strike." I put those in quotes because I've become highly suspicious of focusing at all directly on what part of your foot touches down first as that's just a symptom of everything else that has to go on.

    What I was really doing was over-striding no matter what. I stopped over-striding with a heel-strike and started over-striding with a forefoot-strike. I suffered shin splints with the former and pulled calf muscles with the former. The root cause was over-striding. I didn't really stop injury nor did I learn truly efficient running until I figured out to keep my feet under my hips.

    And what you may find over time as you do more barefoot is you reverse your way of thinking when it comes to injury. This past spring I was running almost exclusively in shoes or sandals (I'm in MN and it was still snowy in March). I did too much too soon and pulled a calf muscle. I took a week off and then to recover I stuck strictly to unshod running (spring is volatile here so it was warmer by then). These days I find it very difficult to run with safe, efficient form on pavement unless I'm unshod.

    I've never tried the VFFs but I run 50/50 unshod/hurarache sandals these days. I love unshod so much I just don't like the feel of something on top of my toes or feet and the toe post strap style of huaraches lets my feet move freely. It's just like taking with me a smooth surface for when I run on rough gravel (I live in the country near a wealth of gravel roads).

    So, sounds like you're on the right track! Good luck with the half. Hopefully you start to find what I found which is learning to run long distances unshod can really "unlock" the super long runs. I just completed my first 50K trail run Saturday and a little more than a year ago I was training for only my second half because I couldn't understand how people could do anything longer. Barefoot really did show me how to run that much more efficiently.
     
  3. Tedlet

    Tedlet
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    Barefooters
    1. United Kingdom

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    Hi Tom. Nice back story.
    -Good to hear you're now running without knee issues. That was one of reasons I first started BF too -happily I've also not had knee problems since...:)
    As for Winter -I find it's generally not too bad, although you do need to be careful once the temperature starts dropping to sub zeros. Mud is basically just a bit slippery -but then I imagine it's slippery in shoes as well!
    Keep going with the transition & keep it gradual.
    Enjoy...
     
  4. trevize1138

    trevize1138
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    1. Minnesota

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    I'm absolutely addicted to unshod in the mud! Just check out my profile pic. :) Feeling it squeeze through your toes and just knowing that other runners are frustrated by how its getting their precious little investments dirty and heavy as the mud cakes on to their tread. Righteous!
     
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  5. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ
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    Welcome! You're doing just fine. I would say try those more difficult surfaces, rocky, gravel, etc., if you really want to learn a lot about the way you currently run and learn a lot about the way you don't want to run. Also, if you like to read, please look into Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton's book, Barefoot Running Step By Step. And be sure to join the England Chapter, Chapters link above. :barefoot:
     
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