The start of my journey!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Anthony Warren, May 4, 2016.

  1. Anthony Warren

    Anthony Warren Barefooters

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    Hi all,
    Just thought I'd stop by here and say an official - "Hi" from Maidstone, Kent, UK !

    A little back story as to why I've just signed up here.
    I've been running (conventional shoes) for about 2 1/2 years, and just fulfilled a life long dream of running the London Marathon a weekend or so back.
    I'm super chuffed to have completed it (5hrs 20). However I struggled for the last 10miles or so with an angry IT band that reduced me to walk/run for most of that.

    Since the marathon I've been doing a lot of reflecting and thinking about what to do next, and I'd love to do another marathon one day....BUT I'd like to do it in a better time and be able to enjoy it more (pain-free?)
    So I've been doing lots of research into improvements in my form / technique that would help prevent IT band issues and some of that research has introduced me to the whole idea of barefoot/minimalist shoes.
    I've got a friend who swears by Vibrams and so here I am reading, learning, trying to work out what the next steps of my journey are going to be!

    One of the key themes that comes through the advice I've seen so far, is to take the transition VERY gradually.
    2 questions arise for me at the moment.
    1. What is the best sort of surface to start on ? (I'm happy to start barefoot to enable feet to learn best) - Grass ? Slightly shingly path? Pavement?
    2. If doing some very small barefoot interval stuff 30sec walk/30sec run - would I be best to only be doing that, or mix in some conventionally shod 5ks in the week as well ?

    That'll probably do for now...I know I have much to learn and am excited to see where this journey will take me!

    Anthony
     
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  2. Tedlet

    Tedlet Barefooters
    1. United Kingdom

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    Hi Anthony.
    Welcome & congratulations on the London marathon.. Hope you've recovered now.

    I'm sure you'll find lots of good tips and advice here. There's a lot of experience and knowledge scattered around the various forums. -You've already picked up the most important theme I think: i.e. take the transition slow and steady.

    What is also clear, I believe, is that we are all different. Hence what works for one of us might not necessarily be the right thing for everybody else.

    By way of sharing experience therefore, rather than trying to be prescriptive, I would probably answer your question re surfaces by listing them in completely the opposite direction (pavement first, then lightly shingled path, then possibly grass if you really want to).

    For my own first runs I managed to find myself a route that was a mixture of very smooth pavement and slightly rougher grade tarmac/'chipseal'. I found the smooth paving a pure joy to run on, but with the intermittent lengths of rougher surface to then constantly remind me to maintain (or 'try to develop' is probably closer to the truth) some form.

    I started out barefoot (i.e. skin to ground) and stayed that way. I have some xero shoes for walking around shops etc... but although you can feel the contour of the ground with them, they definitely remove most of the sensation & feedback you get through the soles of your feet when you run bare.

    I generally avoid grass for the simple reason that you need to be able to see the ground ahead of you so that you know where you're placing your feet -grass just hides things.

    Like I said, you already have the most important message -take it slowly, you will be changing what your muscles are used to.

    Hopefully, as you're clearly comfortable with distance, some of the members that regularly do much longer distances than me will chime in too with some tips for you.

    Keep posting your progress.
    Enjoy -it's fun!:)
     
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  3. Wanderer Jiyuren

    Wanderer Jiyuren Barefooters
    1. California...

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    my transition wasn't particularly rigidly implemented, mostly it included skipping track season for a year and only doing runs that were required by my regular physical education class and a bit of light solo stuff before cross country training started the next summer (so about an eight to ten month transition before running full on in minimals). Walking around barefoot is something that I would encourage you to start with. And more importantly than running barefoot or in minimals is the actual process of altering your foot strike. Homo-sapiens sapiens is a tool making species, and shoes are a tool that we use for a myriad of purposes, to look nice, to provide protection from harmful or unsurvivable environments, to keep us warm. The minimalist shoe is no different.

    The minimalist shoe is a tool designed to convince your body that heel striking is bad. I didn't use vibrams to start transitioning, I used converse (hi-tops because the shorter ones will dig into your heel). I reduced the amount of material between me and the ground, and made sure that what I was using provided no support in any way to my foot. This is how I slowly strengthened the muscles used in fore-foot striking, and I have never had an injury that was specifically related to being barefoot at the time since then. Then I started using the vibrams regularly, and eventually (during the halloween practice the following year) I discarded the shoes altogether (not literally, I still use vibrams when I go to work).

    At the time I would walk in excess of 10 km a day (5 km to school, 5 km back) consciously fore striking as often as I could. But you should only do what you feel comfortable with. There is a lot we as a species still don't know about our own limits. Not a lot of research has been done, and most of what you'll find is laden with anecdotal accounts such as the one I've just given you. The best thing you can do is try out lots of things and see what makes your feet and your body feel best.

    Also yes, you should still do some running while you transition. I would personally suggest reducing your distance significantly and maybe taking a few extra days off a week. Sounds like you'll need to do that anyway to alleviate that IT Band.

    Walking. Walking is good. <--Can't stress this enough.

    Good luck on your transition, should you choose to go through with it! You should definitely consult your friend and maybe even see if you can regularly exercise with that person to get feedback about your form!
     
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  4. Wanderer Jiyuren

    Wanderer Jiyuren Barefooters
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    Ah, I should clarify, I'm not suggesting that you take half a year or longer to transition, I'm simply saying that is what I did because I didn't have resources like this website or other barefoot runners to consult. Just go at your own pace. For all I know you could be running around barefoot in two months time if you do well with it. Your feet will tell you what you can and can't do. They're designed that way. They do have some of the densest nerve concentrations on your body after all.
     
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  5. Anthony Warren

    Anthony Warren Barefooters

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    Thanks for the welcome guys.
    I'll scout out some nice pavements to explore and see how I get on.
    I know the soles of my feet are fairly soft at the moment (at least compared to my wife's! :) ) so I'm aware that this is going to be a gradual process that I measure in months rather than weeks!
     
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  6. Phil Hart

    Phil Hart Barefooters
    1. Georgia
    2. North Carolina

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    Tedlet has it right, there are differences for everyone. But he is also correct in that some things seem universal, and he's got them covered for you in his post. WJ has also provided some great ideas.
     
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  7. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    Welcome! Glad to have you here! :barefoot:
     
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  8. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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  9. KTR

    KTR Barefooters
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    Welcome @Anthony Warren !
    I guess the most important pieces of advice have already being said. Just experience it by yourself, and little by little you'll find the magic formula that works for you. Even after some months you'll probably find yourself making little changes to your technique, since your body will adjust gradually and what worked last week may not work the next one. It's constant change and constant improvement during this phase.
    Cheers!
     
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  10. ClintonVoris

    ClintonVoris Barefooters
    1. Indiana

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    Howdy, Anthony! Glad to have you here!! Advance slowly. Live to fight another day. :) Enjoy each run. The several people I've helped to get started have done well with my advice of 'cold turkey'. Just take off the shoes and head out the door. for getting started, I would suggest concrete sidewalks. Not too smooth, not too rough, nothing hidden. Keep us posted on your progress!!
     
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  11. Anthony Warren

    Anthony Warren Barefooters

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    Thanks all for the comments.

    So, with a fair amount of trepidation I set off last night on my first Barefoot run. The plan was just to run a lap or two round the block to see how I got on.
    I know the soles of my feet need toughening up, as I got a blister on the end of one toe (I'm waiting to see what happens with the nail on this toe following the marathon!)

    After one lap, which felt pretty good, I thought I'd get one of my daughters to record me so I can see where my form needs to improve.




    I'd value any comments & feedback you guys and girls have about these short clips.
    I'm going to repeat these laps for a while to toughen up the feet some more.
     
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  12. Tedlet

    Tedlet Barefooters
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    Hi Anthony -couple of casual thoughts (in the absence of any others):

    I got the odd blister on my toes when I started out too. Looking back, I think this was partly down to lack of conditioning of my soles (as you have suggested), but also partly down to form. The appearance of a blister indicates there is a point of abrasion, which implies there is some movement of skin along the surface of the ground. The tips I was given included thinking more about lifting your feet rather than trying to pull yourself along with them (if that makes sense) and remembering always to keep your stride short -a long stride means your foot is out in front of you trying to drag your bodyweight along behind it.

    I'm no video analyst, but I notice (primarily in the still on the front of your first video) that you're maybe leaning back a little? I think a commonly quoted approach is to try to keep the head, torso, hips, etc... in a straight line above the point where your feet are making contact with the planet so that you touch the ground below your centre of gravity. It's probably just a tiny point, but it will doubtless have an effect to some degree on everything else.

    I found the attached links useful/helpful:
    http://naturalrunningcenter.com/2013/05/06/video-the-principles-natural-running/#comments
    http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/5BarefootRunning&TrainingTips.html

    As I say -just random thoughts...
    :)
     
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  13. Anthony Warren

    Anthony Warren Barefooters

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    Hi all,
    I'd thought I'd pop back and fill in some gaps since my last post in May.
    I didn't do a huge amount of running between May and August and then picked up an Achilles strain during a trail run in conventional shoes in September.

    So, after a few weeks off for that to recover I decided that was that and said goodbye to conventional shoes for good. I'm now using Vibrams and started the transition process, taking it very slowly to start with and continued over the following couple of months and all has been going pretty well. I know I used to heel strike quite a lot in conventional shoes and that has gone completely now. Both the speed and distance have crept up steadily and slowly. I certainly was enjoying the freedom and the feel of this new found way of running. Overall I think I've clocked up around 250km in my Vibrams so far.

    However, over the last couple of weeks I've noticed that the runs have felt harder work, particularly in my calves - not huge distances, mainly 5k's.
    I had opportunity to run at a track last night and someone video'd me on a couple of laps.

    Could anyone offer any tips/observations on technique or things I need to work on.





    Thanks all.

    Anthony
     
  14. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    I'm not good at analyzing video, but you said you've been feeling the calf strain more now with shorter 5K distances. Do you feel you are running faster with the shorter distances than you did with the longer distances? Do you think speed may play a role in your calf strains?
     
  15. Anthony Warren

    Anthony Warren Barefooters

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    If anything, I'm running slower because it feels tougher. If speed was still increasing I would be happy being able to attribute the calf ache to increased workload due to greater speed, but it just feels like I'm heading in the opposite direction just now.
     
  16. Barefoot TJ

    Barefoot TJ Administrator
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    How often are you running? Do you need to take longer breaks in between runs?

    Calf strain is common for some people when they transition from heels to zero drop. It may take time for your legs to acclimate to the change.
     

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