Really, really, really new to barefoot running

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Norma Smith, Jan 27, 2019.

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In the winter months, do you wear socks at home or are you always barefooted?

  1. Yes, my piggies get cold!

    2 vote(s)
    40.0%
  2. No, barefoot for life!

    3 vote(s)
    60.0%
  1. Norma Smith

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    Finally had some time this weekend to explore this site, and I found this introductions page, so here goes:

    I'm currently suffering from two knee problems: my left probably has a slight tear in the meniscus (according to doctor), and it hurts while running fast; my right hurts when I run slow - probably runner's knee. In desperation, I started my own research, and I'm hoping that a change to form and foot will solve some of my problems. In the meantime, I'm still training for a half-marathon on March 9 (with cushioned shoes), and I have x-rays scheduled for the knees. After the marathon, I plan on fully and s-l-o-w-l-y beginning the transition to barefoot/minimalist shoe running. I have begun wearing zero-drop shoes to work, and I already spend my nights and weekends without shoes at home.

    The good news is I'm under doctor supervision, and he has given me the green light. By the way, this is the VERY short version of my running history and my running injuries. I turn 50 in a few days, and I've been running since I was 13, so yeah, I love running, and I have the full spectrum of injuries to prove it. However, it's time my love affair with running got some sexy new attention to spice things up, and by that I mean, it's time I try barefoot running, reconnect with the world through my feet, and kiss knee injuries goodbye.

    I'm so happy I found this site. I am incredibly appreciative of the support!
     
  2. Gordon

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    A couple of red flags here. The transition takes a lot of patience and perserverance. Long-time runners are usually unwilling to give up "real" mileage long enough to make it. Delaying the transition until after some race? Makes me wonder. The older you are, the longer it takes. In my experience, most people who succeed have no choice, like me. It's either barefoot or no running at all. When every run is a gift, it's easier to be patient. You should have a plan for a replacement activity to maintain your fitness. Dancing or a martial art would be good. Swimming and riding not as much as they are not weight-bearing exercises and while good for your heart, do nothing for the bones and soft tissues that you need strong for running. You absolutely have to have an aerobic activity queued up and ready to jump into or you will go nuts and give up.

    Another thing about your expectations: Going barefoot does not mean that all your injuries will magically disappear. They might or might not. Between the drop in mileage and change in form, injuries usually do heal, but if you've worn those knees out, they aren't coming back except in an operating room. Barefoot running is easier on your knees, but fast barefoot running still requires them to work well. Contrary to what one prominent barefoot guru writes, running barefoot does not guarantee good running form. It does limit how badly you can run, if you're really barefoot barefoot, so many people do see great improvement, but many barefoot runners still don't have great running form. Virtually all runners that attempt to transition down to barefoot by going to minimal shoes first run like crap. Most get hurt. You have to go full-monty for it to work. The change in form can also cause different injuries. Stress moves from the knee to the foot and ankle, for example. Metatarsal stress fractures and achilles tendon problems are common among those who try to transition too quickly. It's well worth doing some Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais work to help you relearn how to run naturally, especially since you've run so long in shoes, changing form is really, really hard. At age 50, a year would be a very quick transition back to full mileage and probably only possible if you already have fairly natural form. Given that you have had a lot of injuries, that sounds pretty unlikely. Planning for a transition taking at least two years would get your mind in the right place. If that's too long, and the goal is injury-free running, you could try some Alexander or Feldenkrais work to help improve your form without having to virtually stop running. A good coach with educated eyes can also be a godsend. Depends on your goal. Keeping the goal the goal along the way is often the hardest part ...

    Good luck!
     
  3. Norma Smith

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    Thank you for this thoughtful and informative reply, Gordon. This is great. What are Alexander Technique/Feldenkrais? Can you point me to a book/paper on these? I didn't go into my history too much, but yes, I have already been working on form with my doctor for the past year and a half, and it has improved tremendously. Cadence work and correcting imbalances have been a big component, and I'm running upright without a heel strike. I am ready to take two years to transition if that's what it takes (or longer). I'm about to start writing my dissertation, so it's a perfect time to spend less time putting in mileage and more time working on strength and balance. I'm also ready for surgery if need be (most likely on the meniscus problem), so I've wrapped my head around that too. The only reason I'm waiting until after the race is that it's the first time I will race with my son, so there's some mushy mom stuff motivating me :) However, I love the advice of having an activity ready to go. Can I walk and hike or are these too similar to running? Thank you for realigning my expectations! Patience will be my new mantra.
     
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  4. Barefoot TJ

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    Well, you look good for almost 50. Doggie is adorable!

    I would say that if you want to transition to barefoot running, then it's best to not transitional at all. Just stop running shod. Start running barefoot. That's the best way to learn how to run barefoot safely. I tried to transition from shoes to minimal to barefoot, and I got injured...badly. I'm still paying for it today.

    You'll need to just feel your way to see how your body (knees, etc.) handles it. Don't expect too much at first. It takes time to ramp up to where you were before. You just want to be sure you are paying attention to your footfalls and not overdoing anything.

    Good luck, and let us know how you're doing. :barefoot:
     
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  5. Tedlet

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    Welcome Norma.
    Ditto the comments above!...
    Take it slow and steady and listen to your body ...and enjoy..:)
    Keep us posted with progress too...
     
  6. Gordon

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    Google is your friend. For Feldenkrais: There are some free audio lessons here: http://openatm.org/recordings.html Some are for running specifically. All will give you an idea about what it's like. "The Art of Slowing Down" by Yu is good. For Alexander: You probably need a teacher. Some are better than others. A more expensive option.

    Hiking is great. Hiking steep hills barefoot is a great way to maintain your cardio fitness, build foot strength, and build/maintain the glute strength you need for running. Letting your heels touch the ground on the uphills helps stretch out your calves. Stand up, though, hunching forward and putting your hands on your thighs is easier and great if you're in a race, but it loads your quads more than your glutes. Downhills are where your quads should get worked. Your volume can be really high because impacts are low. I can't recommend it enough. Plus it's fun and you really feel connected to nature. Trail walking on the flats is good for foot strength. Flat sidewalks are only OK. You can build strength in your arches that way, but that's about it. Rough uneven ground really works your whole foot as it needs to be worked. It's worth seeking out. Throw in a lot of hills and you'll lose less running fitness than you would believe.

    Edit to add:
    These exercises make a good daily warm up: https://gmb.io/feet/



    These stretches are good:
     
  7. Norma Smith

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    Thank you!
     
  8. Jaap Francke

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    Nice drills, however to me these seem pretty much for people who already/still have strong flexible feet. After 50 years of shod living, I'm running barefoot for 2 years now, but these exercises are almost un-doable for me!
    Moving my big toe versus small toes independenttly - i just can't do it.
    I'm afraid this indicates I need to do more foot-drills :-(
     
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    #8 Jaap Francke, Feb 21, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  9. BareFootHeath

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    I found this response extremely insightful, there was a lot I could relate to...
     
    #9 BareFootHeath, Feb 21, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
  10. Norma Smith

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    Here's an update - not necessarily about barefoot running - I ran the half-marathon (with my son, yay!) this weekend to "celebrate" 50 years. I ran a 1:51, so I hit both goals of finishing and running under 2 hours. It was a great morning! While I did run shod and not in minimalist shoes, I do attribute my accomplishment to all the strength exercises I've incorporated in preparation for transitioning to barefoot running. @Gordon, I immediately added the foot stretching from the videos, and while at first I thought, "Ouch!", I noticed a difference in strength and mobility and balance. I know zip about anatomy and physiology, but I swear these exercises helped with nerve pings and dings that I feel. I suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, and they helped with this as well. I've been wearing minimalist shoes to work for two months now and barefoot all weekend, and this little bit has helped. I do agility ladder and balance exercises and running drills while barefoot, and I'm adding these to the list of items that have helped, especially with proprioception. The only "uh-oh" moment I had during the race was a slight pull or cramp in my hamstring during mile 6. I stopped and stretched it, and it was ok after that, but I was certainly "aware" of it. I'm taking this as my running technique/form still needs work. I'm hoping the barefoot running will help with this. With the weather warming slightly here in Virginia, I hope to post more as I begin to add more barefoot running. Wish me luck!
     
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  11. Barefoot TJ

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    Congrats, Norma! That's a good finishing time.
     
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  12. Gordon

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    Good luck and congrats
     
  13. Tyler J L

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    Welcome to the group. I'd say start off slowly and work your way up. I don't run barefoot a lot, but I do walk barefoot a lot.
     
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