Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winter Cross Training in Vibrams -- Part I I I -- The Barefoot Part

Ah, here we are at last in the final part of the 3-part series "Winter Cross Training in Vibrams."  Yes, folks, I dared to write a 3-part series about an hour out running the same route I've run for the past 6 months.  I don't know how long I can keep it up, writing about the same run over and over and over again, but somehow, there is always something new.  There was so much on this day when I capitulated to the fact that the weather had beat me and I would have to put on shoes, that I did, indeed, need to tell the story in 3 parts.

In the first part -- "The Preliminaries" --  I wrote about how I fretted over exactly how I would proceed with this new kind of running with shoes on.  I gave an account of the short walk up the block to the boulevard path and the little challenges the presence of the snow presented.

In the second part, -- "Running in Vibrams," -- I wrote about what it was like to run my first steps with shoes on since last June.  Since you've seen my little running route adorned with summer and fall, I gave you a peek of it in its winter dressing.

Now, in this final part, I get to the fun -- "The Barefoot Part."  This part could also be titled, "It Doesn't Have to Be All or Nothing."  That's because just because weather and my degree of conditioning may cause me to have to forgo being barefoot for one of my runs, it doesn't mean I have to give up barefoot altogether until spring.  I can still include a little bit of barefoot. A little bit of barefoot to keep me happy.  A little bit of barefoot is better than nothing at all.  And that little bit of barefoot might be doing two things: 1) it may be keeping my feet conditioned enough over the winter so that I don't have to start so tender-footed when the good weather comes and 2) it may be conditioning and accustoming my feet to winter conditions so that I may enjoy longer barefoot runs in the winter in the future.

So, here we go.

I had decided that there was a little stretch out on the bluff that looked favorable for a barefoot section of running.

When I returned to the spot, it was time to take off the Vibrams.  This proved to be a little tricky, as there wasn't a place to sit, and I wasn't sure how to go about it.  I finally settled on something like this:

I picked the Vibrams up and tuck them under my belt.  My feet were pretty warmed up from having just run 2.37 miles.  Since I had done those other runs in the 30s of degrees, it really did not feel bad at all.

I set out and took a video of it for you all:

I continued on to run a half mile in my bare feet.  It felt really great to run a half mile outside the day after a giant blizzard.  Somehow I felt way less defeated by the natural forces around me.  I think a half a mile is fine for someone like me -- still a relative beginner -- to tackle my first year of barefoot running.  I definitely could feel that the training and preparation I had done in the colder weather -- even the very few steps out into the snow I had done -- had made it possible for me to run barefoot this way.  I was very happy.

The last piece of tricky business, was how I was going to put my Vibrams back on.  Back when I had been trying to envision this, I had pictured sitting on a bench, and tying Daffodil to the bench so I could use both hands.

But when I got to the bench I realized there was a bit of a problem with that plan:

I considered just trying to climb over the snow bank in my bare feet and head home, but when I looked at the snow bank, I decided not to:

It looked like I was going to have to try to put my wet Vibrams on while standing in place on one foot and holding a dog leash.  It went something like this:  First, drying my feet with the little towel I had brought along.

Then the rest:

It was a bit of a struggle, cold toes were hard to feel so I couldn't tell which toe was going in to which slot.  But it wasn't as bad as I had pictured it would be when envisioning it beforehand.

Daffodil and I took one more look back at the path:

And then I picked her up and carried her over the snow bank.

First one step:

and then another

and another

Until we were all done.

Thanks for coming with me on my first day of cross training in Vibrams. (Remember, I decided to think of it as a completely separate sport from barefoot running, so I wouldn't feel bad about having to do it.)

New Year's Day will bring some surprisingly warm weather and delight me in that I will be able to go for a completely barefoot run again.  But I didn't know that at this point.

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