Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mile 117.96 -- Perfecting the Brrr--Foot Mile -- or, "The Barefoot 5K"

We have entered the era of the Brrr--foot miles.

My Droid app says it's 48 degrees out there now, but I think it was colder when I started today.

Like the other day, I was unhappy with the first few steps out.  The ground was cold and it hurt my feet.  Plus, you know I've mentioned in the past that I like to give Daffodil some sniffing around time for the first 1/4 mile or so.  This serves as a kind of walking warm-up for me.  However, Daffodil wanted to stop and sniff in the shade where the ground was cold.  Not good.
Hurry up, Daffodil. My feet hurt and are very cold.

I wonder why it hurts when they are cold?  They feel stiffer.  I also have read that the nerve endings on the bottoms of our feet send signals regarding the type of surface we're walking on.  This is a reason given for pounding feet too hard while shod, because we are trying to get a reading from the ground.

Maybe cold feet dull the sensory perception and we are pounding harder on the ground to get a read?  That would make sense a bit.  I have read stories of this condition where there are children who cannot feel pain and they keep breaking bones when they play because they are not getting sensory feedback information about how hard to land when they jump and stuff. (The article I linked to is a very sad one, but it was the only thing I could find when I googled the condition.  I remembered seeing a documentary on it one time.)

Anyway, the numbness our feet feel while cold may be causing us to press and pound a little harder to feel.  But then that hurts more.  So, staying light and concentrating on the form I've learned while barefoot running in the warm summer is crucial.  I don't want my barefoot running form to change in the cold because I can't feel.

It is better to get on some ground the sun in shining on:

But it is even better to get moving.

I am starting to figure out the structure of a 3-mile run for me. (Remember I spent the summer going round and round on "The Barefoot Mile," then figured out what a "Barefoot-Two-Miler" was going to be all about.  Well, now I'm studying a "The Barefoot 5K."

For me, the first mile of "The Barefoot 5K" is a warm-up.  And when it's cold out, it's not only a whole body warm-up, it also is to get the feet warm so they can feel the ground again.  So, during the cold weather days, I think I'll dub this first mile "The Brr--Foot Mile." During this warm-up mile, I remind myself of barefoot running form and try to get in the groove.  I check things.  I check posture.  I check foot landing.  I check for pain of misalignment (I'll get a funny twinge in my knee if I haven't got things lined up right).  I check my breathing and rhythm.  I check my forward lean.  And in the case of the cold weather, "The Brrr--Foot Mile," I concentrate remembering how to step lightly in the case of not being able to feel the ground as well.  I try to run right without as much feedback from my feet.

So now we have it: the first mile -- the warm-up mile -- is "The Brr--Foot Mile."

The second mile now becomes "The Barefoot Mile Maintained."  The second mile is where I enjoy the fruits of my previous work, and the fruits of the warm-up.  This is where the "perfected" barefoot mile lives (at least as "perfect" as it has become up to this point.)  This is the mile where I experience and maintain all the work I've done in the past.  This is a mile of enjoyment and pleasure.

The last mile is my growth mile.  I come off "automatic pilot" and begin to concentrate on form again.  I am getting tired and it is very important to maintain a good barefoot mile for this tired mile.  If I do not maintain form and step lightly and move smoothly with good form, then I'd better stop and go no further.  Because otherwise I'll just be repping in muscle action that is useless to me when I want to develop further.  There is no point in slamming my feet down now.  This third mile is what "The Barefoot Mile" used to be to me.  The place where I grow, develop and learn. Perhaps it can be called "The Barefoot Growth Mile."

Now, when I say "mile" it is a rough mile.  It could be .90 or it could be 1.2 or 1.4  The Barefoot Mile is a kind of distance that orbits around an exact mile.  That's why a 5K has roughly 3 Barefoot Miles in it, even though it is 3.2 officially.  Get it?

Okay, so I think I've decided to maintain this 5K distance for the winter and not grow much distance.  I think there's enough to work on with this.  I probably will do 4 miles here and there, but I will not go further than that until the spring. One of the reasons is that there is plenty for me to work on in "The Third Barefoot Mile" section of the 5K distance to keep me busy for the next few weeks.

Oh, I had so much more to say about today's run -- about breathing, about dog-running, about Morton's toe and asphalt -- but that would make this post way too long, so maybe I'll save those thoughts and discoveries for another day.  If I remember them.


Ewa said...

:) I can't resist but smile thinking of how you are going to tackle 26.2miles, which I am sure you eventually will.
I think the other day I had at least two brr--foot miles.

Avocational Singer said...

Ewa, you are funny! I was thinking about that after I wrote this post today. I figure "The Barefoot 5K" will eventually become a unit like "The Barefoot Mile" was, and replace "The Barefoot Mile" as the unit.

Then a 1/2 marathon becomes 4 "Barefoot 5Ks" Something like that ...

Anonymous said...

This will be my first winter running brrr foot..Not sure how I'll do it! You sound very confident.

Avocational Singer said...

Mama! I am so happy you stopped by and left a comment. I just peeked at your new blog and you are a way more developed runner than I am. Believe me I am not confident, as those who have been reading along with me from the beginning well know. I am the least of the barefoot runners!

I have always been assuming that I will have to wear shoes when it gets colder, even as cold as it is right now. I am just holding out for as long as I can. So far so good.

I figure the least I can do is try. If I can't do it, I can't do it -- but I can try.