Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Celebrating my 50th Barefoot Mile!

It's got to mean something.  Hitting my 50th barefoot mile today.  I'm not sure exactly what it means, but 50 always seems like such an important number. It's got to be some kind of milestone. Something golden!

Today's 2.5 mile run felt as easy as pie.  I even tried to add little "speed" sections (probably meaning I sped up to 15 - 16 min/mile pace for a few yards, lol.).  The really great thing about today was that my feet are not sore and do not ache now an hour after I've finished my run.   Usually they feel pretty good immediately upon finishing, but after sitting and resting in a chair for a bit (usually to write this blog) after getting up they will hurt and then I will feel residual soreness on and off until they "recover."  Usually by about 12 hours before I'm supposed to run again they've recovered completely, so the every other day running schedule has been just right for me this summer.

But right now, the feet feel great.  I'm walking around my kitchen barefoot and not even feeling like my feet just ran outside on the hard pavement at all.  It feels like somewhat of a miracle, if you ask me.

This is good!  It's just gotta' be.

Toe Relaxation
Last time, I wrote about relaxing my toes.  I thought that it was going to take miles and miles of running to deal with the tense toes issues but I was very surprised at how well my feet took to relaxed toes and how easy it was today.  I think they really liked the way relaxed toes felt, and wanted to run that way.  Running on various surfaces, asphalt, pavement with set-in bumpy stones, different kinds of uneven tile -- all of it was much easier with relaxing the toes.

Sometimes when I go to fix something in the running "form" it takes a long time to fix it.  One reason is that once one set of muscles that had been strengthened by the "old way" get deactivated,  a new set of muscles gets activated that wasn't participating in the "old way."  It can take quite a bit of time and repetitions for the newly activated muscles to get up to snuff.

But in the toe relaxation case, all the muscles seemed to like the adjustment right off the bat.  Good news.  It's nice when there's an easier fix, just for a change of pace.

Thoughts About Speed
For someone who runs at the back of the pack, I do a lot of contemplating the idea of speed.  People always say "thinking is not doing."  In the case of speed maybe I prefer to theorize and think about it rather than actually try it out.

Today I was thinking about how motivation affects speed.  A couple of years ago, when I would be late to get out for my walk, I  had to hurry and get it done in time to get to an appointment.  I would walk much faster because I had an internal motivation for speed.  In those days I also used to contemplate speed while walking (also instead of doing it) and I remember imagining how I would walk if I was trying to get to my parking meter before the meter maid did.  I would speed up and walk like I really meant it.  Having the motivation made a difference.

I don't really have a motivation to go faster right now.  But if somewhere I encountered information about what I might get out of trying to go faster, it might make me more interested in speeding up.

For now, however, I'm content.

Speed Increase Strategies
Okay, so not knowing why on earth I would want to go faster (except maybe to get to the finish line in time to get one of the free handout snacks, and before everyone packed up and left the area so I could still feel a part of everything), I started to strategize in my mind how I might go about improving speed.

My first thought was that I would add little segments of bursts of speed.  I think I remember reading in Jason Robillard's book -- The Barefoot Running Book: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running, which just came out with a new edition -- that he would run as fast as he could until he couldn't go any further that way and then slow down to an almost-walk, and then he would begin all over again once he was rested up.

Having that thought in mind, I figured I might do something like that, only not run as fast as I could, not want to feel that much pain -- only a little more pain.

Would I run faster for a set amount of time and then slower, like run fast one minute, rest one minute?  Or would I just run faster until it felt like I should slow down and rest -- the "listening to my body method."

Would I start out with the "speed" work right off the bat, or would I run a regular mile and then do the speed work during the second mile?

I pondered these and many other questions as I ran along.

Not that I am necessarily going to do this, mind you.  Just in the thinking stage right now.  Thinking is not doing.  And we all know that once you start doing something, all your theories get revised.


Julie said...

Congrats on your 50 miles!

ac said...

I don't think you should worry about speed at all.
You'll naturally get faster as you increase distance.

In my experience, trying to go fast is when I get injured.

Barefoot Neil Z said...

Great work!

barefootjosh said...

ac is right, but that doesn't mean speed offers nothing but cardiovascular agony.

Running fast is fun. It makes the slower paces easier. There's a lot to learn about smoothness and efficiency when you go fast.

But mostly, it's fun.