A Barefoot Week

I’ve had a full week of barefoot running, as of this morning’s run. (Actually, a bit over, as I started BF running last Tuesday, which makes for an eight-day week.) I ran a total of 41.5K barefoot, taking off one day (last Friday) because my calves were sore.

I’m a convert. I dread the idea of wearing my Brooks Trance 8s again, simply because I can remember how boxy and heavy they felt, compared to running barefoot. Sure, I’ve got a couple of blisters, but they’re small, and they’re almost healed. Interestingly, I don’t have the tightness in my left shin that came after every shod run of any length. My running posture is maybe 100% better, and my biomechanics are working the way they should.

I went for an 8.3K run this morning. It was the first time I’d attempted anything beyond a basic, Sunday LSD run kind of pace. I managed a nice tempo pace of 5:40 – not blazingly fast, but brisk. I’m working my way through the advice given by Caballo Blanco in Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” about running through Mexico’s Copper Canyons. All you have to do, says the wise Caballo, is “easy, then light, then smooth, then fast. Take care of the first three, and fast will take care of itself.” Well, I’m on my way past easy to light. When I run barefoot, and when I’m running well, I can barely hear my feet touching the ground. That translates, obviously, to smooth – no bobbing of the head, no superfluous movement of the upper body, legs going round in a brisk cadence. Fast? I’ll wait for fast, no problem. I wanna be smooth!

Another experiment this morning was fueling. My pre-run fuel consisted of chia gel (yes, that chia!) and blueberries, followed by an espresso. Post-run fuel was a smoothie made of soy milk, Vega protein powder, and half a banana. Chia seeds are good in all kinds of ways – they’re high in omega-3 and omega-6 oils, complex carbohydrates, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, and, best of all, they slow the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar in the body. The latter means that chia is an endurance energizer. Chia’s high protein content as compared to other grains makes it a great muscle and tissue builder. My post-run smoothie is a recovery tool, and sets my body up nicely for the next run. And espresso? Well, there all kinds of arguments for the performance-enhancing qualities of caffeine, but, to tell the truth, I simply really like to have an espresso just before a run or race.

One week into it, and I’m a barefoot runner. Feels like home!

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