Friday, June 25, 2010

Beginning the Barefoot Journey

I have started a barefoot blog even though the only knowledge I have of barefoot running is what I have read and exists as an appealing theory to me.

I have started a barefoot blog even though I'm an absolute beginner who has only run barefoot about six times.

I have started a barefoot blog even though I have no idea if I'm going to stick with barefoot running or not.

However, I have another blog, Avocational Singer, and my desire to talk about my experimentation with barefoot running might not fit the theme of a blog that is supposed to mainly talk about my singing journey. Although  I have written on that blog about how there is a way that barefoot running actually does fit in with my singing journey,  I don't want to change the topic and talk too much about barefoot running there.

But here, I just want to have a place to talk about what I think about barefoot running and/or running in general and how it is going for me.

I'm an absolute beginner with this so I speak with no authority on the subject.  Just want to share my journey somewhere.

Not only am I an absolute beginner with barefoot running, but I'm almost pretty much a beginner as a runner too.  Although I started on the path of being a "real runner" many years ago in my youth, I abandoned that path for many years, and in the past few years I have been trying to find my way back to running.

Several attempts in recent years to "become a runner" again have ended with disablement that got me discouraged, and forced me to stop running in order to heal.

Things are different as I struggle to become a runner again now.  Back then, even though I was an active youth,  I was not a very strong runner because I was very afraid of pain, so I did not push myself.  I was a comfortable runner. I ran at a speed that felt comfortable.  Oh, there was some sacrifice and some little bit of struggle to get to the level of being that comfortable runner. But I was no, as they say, "bad-ass."  I was no "animal."  I had a lot of fear about running and pushing myself harder.  So, once I attained some level of running, around a 10 minutes a mile, and once I built up a little stamina and endurance, I kind of settled into a comfortable runner's mode.  I never would have won any competitions.  In fact, when I was on the cross country team, there were girls who were walking part of the way who beat me!

But that was enough for me back then, and I was happy to go out and run 6 miles at 10 minutes/mile.  It was hard for me to attain that modest accomplishment and I was happy and proud of myself.

There hasn't been a day in these past over 25 years -- mainly because I see runners every day -- that I haven't wished I would go back to running.  And even though I was not running, for some bizarre reason I still considered myself a runner.  Some kind of de-activated runner or something.  As people saw me waddling along in my very unfit state, had I stated that I was a "runner" I might have been laughed at or just written off as someone deluded.  But I think runners understand what I mean.  It's like the title of that book, "Once a Runner ...."

I finally did get started again -- with a plan -- about 6 years ago.

But this time around it is much harder to get started.

For one thing, I no longer was young and I no longer was very active.  I had become very overweight.  So, in my forties, inactive, overweight, getting started running was going to be a much different kind of project than it was when I first picked it up in high school.

Last year, I made another attempt to put running back into my life.  I thought I had a realistic, conservative, reasonable plan.  But despite my care, this time around I developed a terrible case of plantar fasciitis and finally admitted last November that I would have to stop running, yet once more, in order to get it to heal.

During the time of healing, I found and read information on running barefoot and I believe that I have found a way to get my foot strong so that I will not get that plantar fasciitis the next time I start to build my distances.  My first few experiences out there barefoot have indicated to me that what I've only read about making my feet strong and curing my plantar fasciitis may actually prove true.  I am cautiously optimistic about it.

As I'm out there running barefoot, like I was this morning, a lot of little things happen, and thoughts come to mind and it seems as if I want to just sit right down when I get home and write about it.  So, maybe that's what this space will be all about.

But, the way my feet feel at the moment, a little tender and sore, the thought of doing it again makes me cringe, even though it has always felt incredibly good each time I've gone out.

That's part of being a beginner barefoot runner for me.  I am loving and enjoying this new style of running, and experiencing something close to exhilaration as I feel the contact with the ground.  However, my feet have grown quite weak, soft and tender all those years in my shoes.  It is going to take time for them to toughen up on the soles.  So, after I've finished with my little barefoot run for the day, there is a little reminder that I have been out there running in my bare feet.  A teeny bit of soreness.  It feels kind of like a sunburn.  A teeny sunburn.  Not a really bad one where you really goofed and overdid it.  It feels like the kind of sunburn you get the first time out at the beach, when you've been careful, but you are a little pink, but it's not going to peel, it's just going to turn into a little base-layer tan.

Yes, that's the way it feels.

This morning when I was running my barefoot mile, I wanted to come  home and become a barefoot blogger. But now, when I have the time to sit down in the evening and create my barefoot blog, the little sunburnt feeling on my feet is saying, "You won't keep going with this!"

So this blog may end up with only four posts, or it may be the beginning of a longer journey.  I have no idea.

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