Friday, April 27, 2012

Barefoot Running and a view from the Douglas Preserve

The Douglas Preserve, aka the Wilcox Property. 
This is an open space overlooking the ocean where I like to run. 
It's about 2 1/2 miles from my house. 
Acrylic on canvas.
I recently bought these barefoot style running shoes from Merrell. Over the last year as I have tried to heal from Achilles Tendinitis I have tried 3 or 4 pairs of running shoes (and you know how this can add up!) all with disappointing results. Before injuries I was an Asics Gel Kayano girl, then I ran in Brooks and although there was some improvement with the less technical Brooks, the heal pain kept coming back.
A friend kept insisting I should try barefoot (or nearly barefoot) running but it just sounds terrifying. No support? No cushion? Yes, I read Born to Run but I wasn't convinced.

I ended up with the Merrells more as a walking shoe. I walk my children to school often and like a fun, bright shoe that is more cute then a clunky running shoe. I was surprised by how instantly comfortable they were. After walking in them for a week or so I decided to try a short run.

It was...uncomfortable. I felt like a duck trying to run on floppy, flat feet. There was an audible slapping sound with each stride as I lumbered along. My calves hurt and the shin pain wasn't far behind. After the run was even worse, I felt sore and stiff as if I was totally new to running. I mentioned this to my barefoot running friend who suggested I needed to adjust my gait to barefoot running.

There are lots of videos out there to refer to, including some on the Merrrell website. I ended up on You Tube watching this video that was actually made by the Terra Plana company (who boast the first barefoot running shoe.) The basic changes I am trying to make when I run are:

1. Better posture
I'm a "head chaser," I tend to lean forward. I am trying to run as if I had a book on top of my head and an orange between my shoulder blades.

2. Shorter, faster stride
This one is hard for me but if I can master it I'm hoping it will make me faster, too.

3. Lighter, springier step
I tend to plod along like a tired horse, so I'm trying to add a bit more bounce to my step.

Yesterday was my first longer run in my barefoot shoes, just about 5 miles. So far, so good. If you've read my older running posts you'll know that I'm always afraid of over doing it so I'll give me legs a few days to recover before trying again but I am really excited by the prospect of creating a regular running schedule again.

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