Thursday, December 23, 2010

Six Month Anniversary -- 150 Barefoot Miles!

Six months ago today, I ran my first full Barefoot Mile.

What a day that was!

I thought it was really something.

Wow, it's possible!  I can run a whole mile barefoot!

"Hey everybody!  I just ran a whole mile barefoot!"

(I think I put it in my status update on Facebook that day, but not really anyone noticed because before that I had been posting pictures of my new Vibrams so everyone just thought "barefoot" meant Vibrams, and to this day most of my friends still think that when I say barefoot I mean I'm running in those funny shoes.  It doesn't matter how much I try to explain that I am running completely barefoot, it takes them a really long time, if ever, to get that I don't mean those funny shoes.  When they do get it, their faces kind of fall.  "You mean, nothing on your feet?"  "Yes! Yes!  I mean nothing on my feet."  And then it starts, "Ewww, isn't that dangerous, etc...." and I am no longer cool -- because the Vibrams kind of barefoot are cool, the other kind, not.)

You know what?  It was really something.

It was two days before I made my very first blog post.   That post was on the day of my second barefoot mile.  After that I very patiently ran single barefoot miles for 10 miles, resting a day in between each one, before I began to increase the distance every so slightly during July.

Since then I have strung a whole bunch of those barefoot miles together and yesterday I ran my 150th barefoot mile. And the last 15 of those barefoot miles were in temperatures that were in the 30s of degrees.

Let's take a look at what the bottoms of those feet look like after 150 barefoot miles:
 Not bad, eh?

No more little blood blisters.  No more little abrasions, bruises, scrapes, and peeling skin.  No more little embedded dark mysterious objects.  Even the calloused spot where I have trouble with that third metatarsal head (morton's toe thing-y) has smoothed out as I've been very careful of my form and not to push off from there.  And I've developed these really wonderful, thick cushion-y pads that are so comfortable and supportive to walk on.  Back when I started, I was so worried that my feet would become all scruffy, calloused, and ugly looking that I took pictures of my old feet to say good-bye to the pampered state, and so I could always remember a time when they had been soft and beautiful.  Little did I know on the day I took those pictures that barefoot running would make them way more beautiful.  And strong!

You can kind of see why I don't want to stop barefoot running.  I mean, it took all summer and 150 miles to get these babies into this kind of condition.  I feel this sense of protectiveness of them, almost a kind of pride.  I can't just let them wither down to that tender-footed wimpy state they've been in for so many years again so soon.

I just found a new blog by a fellow barefooter named Claire.  On her blog, Take Two, in her post "Gravel Marching for Dummies" she talks about the lengths she's willing to go to during the bad winter to keep her bare feet conditioned for barefoot running.  I have to admit that I saw a youtube video of a guy doing that earlier this summer and I thought, "Now that's taking things a bit too far!"  Fast forward several months of patient bare foot conditioning and I kind of get why someone would want to do that.  Weird evolution.

I will confess one teeny little touch-up I did to this photo.  There was a piece of grey fuzz from my sock stuck to my right foot and I clone brushed it out.  That was a teeny spot.  But I did absolutely nothing else to the photo.

15 of those miles have been in weather that was below 40 degrees.  It only took 15 little barefoot miles to get my feet conditioned for the cold.  You would think it would have taken a lot more, but now I'm running in the cold pretty comfortably now.

My last two runs were Saturday (the day of the sunrise) at 35 degrees, and yesterday at 32 degrees.  I did not go out and try when it was below 30 because I didn't have to.  I might have tried the 20s if it had lasted enough days, but as it was, I waited and the temperatures went back up to the 30s so I didn't have to try the 20s yet.

Sidewalk Salt
A new thing Daffodil and I encountered was salt on the ground.  See those white spots in the picture alongside this text?  That's the salt.

At first it looked like crushed glass and I was doing the little hoppy don't-want-to-step-on-glass dance. But I figured it out soon enough.

I suppose I don't really want to step on salt either.

What Next?
Well, as I've written here before, the whole reason I've been running in the cold is because I have that 5K at Disney in January (Buzz and Woody's 5K). It is only three weeks away.  I think that my luck held out really well with the weather here.   I think that no matter what happens from here-on-in, I will be good to run barefoot in the race.  If I am able to run at least once a week barefoot until then, I'll be good.  I think I will.  I really don't know.  I don't know how long it takes the soles of one's feet to de-condition.

My mileage is down a little bit.  You know I ran two 5Ks barefoot this past Fall (5K number 1 and 5K number 2).  So, I know I'll be able to do the 5K.  But I had two step-backs I hadn't figured on earlier.

One was after I had that strange dislocated fibular incident.  Once that healed up, which didn't take too long at all if you remember, I had to get back into routine carefully.

The come-back from fibula weirdness runs went like this:
1.45 miles
and then finally
4.3 miles
But then I hit the cold weather, and had to step it back again to get my feet used to the new conditions.

So, the runs have gone like this:
1.4 m @ 37 degrees
2.74m @ 35 degrees
2.74m @ 31 degrees
2.74m @ 31 degrees
2.74m @ 41 degrees
2.74m @ 32 degrees
1.5 m  @ 32 degrees
I have three weeks until Disney.  Now that my feet can handle the cold, I will bump up to a 5K distance at least once a week and I'll be fine.  I already previously made the decision not to increase mileage at this point during the winter and that was a good decision.  I will save growing my mileage for next season.

In the meantime, because I haven't been running further, I have been stepping it up on the last quarter mile of my run each day.  It's been feeling good to push a little on the speed, and it seems like just the right amount for someone in my state of things.

Just three more weeks to go and it will be the end of my first barefoot running season.  And then we'll have a whole new season to look forward to!

I recently found a post on my other blog, Avocational Singer, that I wrote the day after that first barefoot mile.
Here it is:  "More Barefoot Running"


Claire said...

Congratulations on your 150 miles...what a huge accomplishment! It's crazy what our bodies can adapt to isn't it? And how warm your feet can get in such a short amount of time.

I have yet to do a barefoot race and can't wait to read about yours!

Barefoot Neil Z said...

I thought you said it was COLD there! haha, j/k, you are doing fantastic! You are a real inspiration!

Avocational Singer said...

lol, BF Neil -- we have been really fortunate with our weather and to a Canadian like you, I suppose this is positively spring-like. If I was running in shoes I wouldn't think it was all that cold. I usually start thinking it's cold in the 20s.

But taking into account what a wimp I am, I'll still be proud of my "accomplishment." I NEVER would have let my feet experience these temperatures.

Anonymous said...

Congrats you!!! Here's to many more miles and many more blog posts!! Merry Christmas!

Avocational Singer said...

Merry Merry Christmas to you too, Mamaruns!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your dramatic and consistent progress!

I ran exclusively barefoot from late July to late November (including 20 races), but haven't managed to run BF since temps dropped to near-freezing and below. (My feet lose their feeling, and I think I might injure myself without realizing if I can't feel the ground beneath my feet.)

In these cold conditions, I've tried various options to run "nearly" barefoot: Vibrams, mocassins, XC shoes. The mocs have worked out best. But I'd really love to be able to run barefoot comfortably on a regular basis through the winter months. You are a great example, and give me hope that I'll find a way.

Merry Christmas, Sweet Solstice, and Happy New Year to you and your Happy Feet!

Julie said...

Congrats!! I didn't realize that it had only been 6 months. It seems like you've been doing this far longer. May your next 6 months be as great as the first.