Trail versus Concrete for Barefoot conditioning.

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by I-Did-It (Steve), Jun 6, 2014.

  1. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

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    I'm new to this, and have so much to learn, and so much to improve upon.

    But one thing I noticed is that running on trails seems to have really accelerated the conditioning of the strength of my feet, (muscles and connective tissue), and less prone to injury.

    Running on the constantly even and smooth surface of concrete, asphalt, and treadmill seems to really help identify form issues, but the downside is that the constant repetition of the same motion, with no variation, seems to make me more prone to repetitive use injury on novice feet.

    The trail, conversely, with its uneven and constantly variable movement of the foot fall (the foot lands differently literally with every step on the uneven trail) seems to strengthen the novice foot faster, with less repetitive use soreness and injury....

    As a newby, my feet can go at least 5 miles on the trails with no discomfort, but on even concrete 2-3 miles is my limit so far...plus, I think I can go a lot further than 5 miles on the trail barefooted...my overall strength and conditioning seem to be the weakest link on the uneven trail surface, whereas my feet are the weakest link on the even concrete surfaces.

    Seems like the concrete is good for identifying form problems, but the uneven trail strengthens faster with less injury as long as you watch where you are stepping.

    Do you more experienced barefooters have any thoughts on the subject, or better yet, some advice :)
     
  2. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/health/nutrition/19best.html
    Different, not better, not worse.

    Concrete form =/= Trail form =/= Gravel form =/= Sand form
     
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  3. Hobbit

    Hobbit Barefooters
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    Hi Steve,
    there are different kinds of injuries: those inside the foot, which concern bones, tendons and muscles and those on the surface of the foot, which concerns mostly skin and deep skin. Running on uneven or rough surfaces is, as you said, better training for muscles and tendons than always running on the same kind of hard and neat surface. But in my experience, it is running on this latter (asphalt or concrete) that helps to develop skin and pads.
    To have these is after all also helpful on rough trails. :)
     
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  4. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

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    Yeah, I did two runs on concrete today, couple miles each, and had a rude awakening...my form needs so much more improvement lol...and everytime I start to feel like my conditioning is improving, I have to make a form improvement that needs strength building again.

    So I'm gunna start doing two a day runs, one on concrete, and one on trails when I can, at least three times a week.

    But there is not the same level of JOY in the concrete running for me like the trail running.

    I really need it though....its still fun, but I don't get that feeling of effortlessness on the concrete yet, you know, that just cruizen feeling....gliding....outa your body :))


    Its amazing how mental all this is though...in the right frame of mind I can carry this fat old outa shape body for a half marathon, but on bad days a few miles is a struggle...seems like its all mind, not so much the body.
     
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  5. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

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    I think (hope) it will all get easier the more weight I lose.

    I was 261 pounds when I started out a month ago, I'm down to 247 now, but I'm still carrying around an extra 67-72 pounds of dead weight.
     
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  6. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Sometimes it's form, sometimes it's a foot problem. Sometimes, it's hard to tell what it is.
    http://www.thebarefootrunners.org/index.php?posts/150370
     
  7. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Not better, not worse. Different surfaces, different emphasis on different muscles.
     
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  8. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/training/is-there-one-best-running-surface_53024
     
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  9. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

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    For sure I have some problems with my feet, I recently discovered that each foot was striking the ground significantly differently, even the ankles were moving differently...my right foot seems to be doing much better than my left, despite the fact that I had a car crash that ended my competitive running career just after I had qualified to State championships in four events in highschool...The back 3 inches of my heel area was all but amputated, I almost bleed to death, and it took 9 hours of reconstructive surgery to rebuild the foot.

    Surprisingly that foot is doing fine...right foot

    5 years later I totally blew out my left knee, sounded like a bunch of dry sticks being broken and twisted at once...the foot on that leg is problematic.

    I also have a rare form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis.

    I was forefoot striking like a sprinter does, and the right ankle was staying rigid, while the left ankle was flexing.

    I accept that there are plenty of physical 'opportunities' to deal with, but i also think if I listen to my body, that the body and the mind are both adaptable enough that I can adapt around and/or outright repair these issues by listening to my body, and with a healthy dose of pain tolerance, courage, and mind over matter...
     
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  10. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    That does sound challenging! Welcome to BRS and good luck on your barefoot journey!
     
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  11. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

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    Thank you! :)

    Haha, ya know, I never really listed all the injuries together like that at once, sounds worse than it is in real life, at least in my mind...I try not to think about the obstacles, just a solution....so far barefoot running has been a big part of that solution, I could not run for years, like, at all, till I discovered barefoot running, now I've done two half marathon length runs in the last three weeks, and feel great that I even get a chance to run on a trail or concrete or anywhere at all...Barefoot running is kinda giving me a big part of my life back.
     
  12. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Honestly, I don't know that it matters what surfaces that one runs on. It's just a lot more convenient to be able to go outside and run on whatever is easily accessible. :D
     
  13. Tristan

    Tristan Barefooters
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    In the beginning I really couldn't run on trails, my feet just couldn't handle the rocks and such. But I was very un-barefoot in my previous life. :facepalm: Smooth surfaces were all I could handle. Usually the road in front of my house - but actually it was a bit rough for pavement so it was still harder on the soles than say smooth concrete (though not as stiff). When I went to the nearby rail trail, which was freshly paved and very smooth, I could run much further without my soles hurting. I could probably have done a nice grassy or dirt trail, but most trails that I tried were rocky or had gravel and I gave up on them. So honestly in my first year or two of barefoot, I really didn't do any trails/natural surfaces with the exception of a few times I did wearing VFFs.

    I think the trails would be better in the long run, to introduce more movement into the foot and ankle, and to toughen the feet up even more (up around the edges and in the arch where pavement would never touch). But early on learning form and such, sticking to asphalt roads and trails worked well for me. But I don't think it really maters so much which you do, best probably to do a variety. Just remember on natural trails you have to be a little more mindful of rocks and stuff.
     
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  14. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Hard surfaces are extremely demanding on the forefoot. Trails are more demanding on the rest of the body. It all depends on the individual.

    I don't know that tough arches are all that essential for those who run in urban/suburban environments.
    Agreed! New challenges can be fun! :D
     
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  15. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    bf running is a drug. some highs are better than others. i'm almost like you. not quite as overweight but still a bit heavy for my frame. i started out great having fun and just running. a few years later and my old injuries are popping up and it hurts to run, even walk for a bit. if you can seek out some help with the form and old injuries. running, as you know, is highly repetitive and that can flare up old and create new injuries.

    just go out have some fun. when you're not having fun, stop. going too long can break you down and cause injury. mixing it up is good. pavement is easiest to run on but very boring. they're good for ease of use and maintenance.

    oh yeah, welcome.
     

  16. I-Did-It (Steve)

    I-Did-It (Steve) Barefooters

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    Hello Mig,

    Thanks for the advice!



    I'm curious about your 'old injuries' returning...is it possible that as you feet got tougher your running form started shifting in some way that is more like running in shoes?

    I'm feeling a little beat up today when I got outa bed lol


    But I think I'm gunna try some big miles (for me) this weekend, at a very slow pace.

    Maybe 10.2 trail miles both today and tomorrow.

    Dunno though, I actually think getting in some speed work might help improve my overall form, I suspect that running at between 10:30 and 14:00 minutes per mile pace may be working against my form development. Because its not activating enough 'running movement'.

    Dunno, the local chapter pres wrote the/a book on barefoot running, so I'm hoping to connect with him in the next couple of weeks for some advice...I read his book, but a book cannot replace having someone watch you run and making corrections.
     
  17. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    whose your prez? BF KB?

    as far as i know it seems every bf'r had old injuries pop up one after another. working backwards from newest to oldest. what i'm dealing with now is so old i don't even remember it happening. it could be that it wants to heal now that it has gotten sufficient blood flow or that i was running too fast too much and didn't allow enough recovery. either way i'm taking it easy by just biking and walking.

    i do slow running, or training. when i did i didn't have as many problems. doing too much of it and then speeding up for too long brought on my limp. which increases as my leg gets tired. don't forget to do some strength training and some other activities. running will make you weak and you need to be strong to do it. it takes a lot of skill to run well, believe it or not. unless your a child. damn kids can do anything.
     

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  18. jldeleon

    jldeleon Barefooters
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    I maxed out concrete at 3 miles, after which time I have to switch to trails -for the same reasons you have pointed out. I can only correct my form "so much" but after 3 miles on the concrete, it just becomes a matter of my body becoming annoyed by me running on hard surfaces. As you age, you tend to form more "imbalances" for various reasons, age, injury, jobs, stress, etc. What I have found is that trails ACCOMMODATE those imbalances. The 3 mile concrete run is also good for doing a cadence check with my metronome, just to make sure I'm not pushing off, cuz once you're on the trails you will definitely push off, inadvertently.

    Oh, incorporate some barefoot hiking and weightlifting.
     

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  19. Bare Lee

    Bare Lee Chapter Presidents
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    That's what the pro trainer sites say.

    Sounds like you were a natural runner in high school, until your awful accident. So you already know more about running than most of us here.The whole 'go slow' approach may work for some, especially recreational runners, but most training programs involve a mix of aerobic, tempo, and interval work.

    I had the same problem about uneven foot landing. Then I spent a week trying to correct it, and I did. It helps to run on harsh surfaces like chip seal. I also think doing strength training, as I suggested to you on another thread (you're setting a record for newcomer posts!) was part of the process in correcting my landing/form. Although there's some controversy about what a proper landing is, I think you want to aim for a flat-foot landing at slower paces, with the forefoot landing just a split-second earlier than the rest of the foot. At faster paces, of course, the forefoot landing becomes more prominent.

    For me, the ideal aerobic pace is about 8-9mm. That's when my form feels really smooth, although my form at 10mm pace has improved considerably over the last couple of years too.

    For running surfaces, trails are king, but if you're stuck in the middle of a city like me, concrete and asphalt surfaces are fine. I do think there is a greater tendency for repetitive stress injuries with more uniform surfaces, but given enough time, and stretching and massaging maintenance work, I adapted to running half-marathon distances on urban surfaces just fine. The key for me is stopping to stretch and/or massage when the legs start to feel tight and wound-up, as well as massaging the lower leg and feet before a run, and stretching out the upper leg after a run.
     
  20. jldeleon

    jldeleon Barefooters
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    Great, BL, now you are going to incite the stretching controversy! Lol. Good thing I have to go to an appointment right now, but I'll be back!!! :)
     

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