“5K is old hat for you,” said my friend Robin after I reported this morning that I had run a 5K distance again barefoot.
It sure did feel easy this morning. Only this past Sunday I was wondering if I would make it through my first 5K race since starting barefoot running, or if it would feel crummy bumping up the distance, and now two runs later 5K feels very good.
Barefoot Running Buddy
My new barefoot running buddy came with me today. She’s going to be joining me on Fridays. As she asked me questions I was surprised at how the past months of staying consistent with my runs had accumulated to a little bit of experience. I was actually able to give little tips about things I had discovered – which I hadn’t realized I had been discovering – and point out little aspects of the route that needed attention. Like a guide who has trod this path before.
She and I ran in a section of rough sidewalks which I’ve written about earlier on this blog (I think I first mentioned these rougher sidewalks here, in my 6th or 7th Barefoot Mile) She was finding the rough sidewalks a little … well … rough! It made me remember how much those sidewalks hurt back then. In fact, for a little while I decided not to run them and stick on the smoother terra cotta tile until the soles of my feet got a little tougher. Then I had gone back to the rougher sidewalks and they still hurt, but not as much, and day by day they felt better and better. (Here’s where I returned to those sidewalks, around my 55th barefoot mile and I mention their nubbiness again.)
Today, as I ran beside my friend, those sidewalks weren’t bothering me much at all and I may have even forgot how it was in the beginning if she wasn’t experiencing it right beside me. I felt a bit amazed at how I had developed.
We got to the section where I’ve added the 1/3 mile of asphalt. I think I’ve only done this about 4 times, so I am really amazed how much better it felt today. She ran on the sidewalk, and I was out with Daffodil in the road. At one point, when we turned the corner, I said to my friend, “this section is a little smoother. you might want to try it.” She laughed and observed, “You can feel the difference in the road texture with your feet!”
On the one hand, one has to be conscious of developing the soles of the feet gradually, but on the other hand – which seems to contradict it – the feet are amazing at making the adjustments they need. It seems like the skin on the soles responds pretty quickly to the demands. I’m amazed by it.
The Marvels of Foot Adaptation
I’m also amazed that I can run a 5K distance, come home and walk around my house barefoot. I’m amazed that I can go to an appointment in the city and when I get off the bus to come home at the end of the day, I don’t hobble down the street.
I used to run the barefoot mile, run my errand to the city, come back, and be so embarrassed at how slowly I had to walk after I got off the bus. I imagined that someone was looking out the window at me feeling sorry for the crippled woman. It would be the same pavement I had earlier been barefoot running on and I wondered if I would ever get stronger.
Another amazing thing is that my feet can look like this immediately after running 3.2 miles:
Okay, I admit that there are some weird looking specks there and I do not know why they are wrinkly, but compared to what I thought was going to happen to my feet when I started barefoot running, I am amazed at how they don’t get all beat up and horrible looking. I even took pictures of my feet before, thinking that they were going to change and get really ugly. They actually look way better than I ever thought they were going to look.
(I notice in this photo that one foot looks much bigger than the other – my right foot. I have lived with these feet for many years, and I have not noticed that. I’m going to have to measure them exactly and find out. Maybe it’s just the way I took the picture.)
Something else is happening. The pinky toe is starting to straighten out a bit. It had been kind of tucked under and leaning on the pads there. I thought it had formed that way from wearing a certain pair of New Balance walking shoes that was shaped that way. (First wrote about that here.) I thought that it was a permanent “deformity.” But in the past couple of weeks it has seemed like that pinky toe is getting stronger and starting to straighten out.
I don’t think I’m imagining this. Wait! I remember I was going to write a post about that pinky toe and changed my mind. I think I have a photo I took of it back then. Let me go look.
Ah, here it is!
This picture was taken July 30 after a 1.25 mile run. Do you see how that pinky toe is all smushed up against the foot and not lined up over the proper metatarsal? If you compare to the above picture, there is definitely a difference. I do think the toes are starting to splay out as they should.
Even though I posted this once before, I’ll shoe you the shoe again that I think did that over the years:
My feet have been changing shape since then. I think it’s good.