I remember the first few times I ran out there barefoot in the 40s and it seemed quite cold. But after those few sub-40 degree barefoot runs I had back in December, and after those few tentative little walks out in the snow, this 41-degree-day today seemed so warm and comfortable.
This was my first time running outside since I got back from the Run Disney Buzz and Woody's Best Friends 5K early in January.
The running path looked mostly dry today:
I ran an introductory "back out there" barefoot mile today.
I didn't know before I went out how it might feel. After a month off would I have to start all the way at the beginning doing a quarter of a mile? Would it take a long time to work my way back?
Well, that mile felt so good, and my feet feel so good now, that it is clear to me that the gains I made over the past season are with me, and that I will not have to start at the very beginning again.
I have spent a few weeks just thinking about barefoot running, what my "goals" might/should be for my second "season" and exactly what it means in my fitness life.
I have been influenced by a book I've been reading: Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning by Vern Gambetta.
Today, as I ran along in my barefoot mile I had these passage from the book in my mind:
"Effective movement, especially high-level athletic performance, is the result of the interplay of the three movement constants; the body, gravity, and the ground. Understanding each of the movement constants independently is one thing, but the real key is to understand how they interact."
"A better understanding of muscle function will allow training to be more focused, logical, and exact ... The focus shifts from "feel the burn" and "no pain, no gain" to an understanding and feeling of flow and rhythm in the movements."and
"Movement is gravity driven. Movement is a delicate balance yielding to gravity or being able to overcome it."and
"The interplay between force reduction, force production, and proprioception will produce the highest quality of movement."
So, what does this mean? It means that as I ran along today I was more interested in the really sensing the relationship between gravity, my connection to the ground, the fluidity of my movements in relationship to the ground and gravity. It means that I was interested -- throughout the course of one barefoot mile -- in really experiencing what the movement was all about as I ran barefoot along. It means that I was focused more on the quality of my movement and how my relationship to gravity felt while moving than how far or fast I was running.
If Year One of my barefoot running was about being a beginner and just learning how to get out there and get my feet and body conditioned for some barefoot running, then I think Year Two is going to be, for me about the quality of the movements.
Will my blog be slow-moving and boring because of this focus? I mean, if I don't run faster than I did last year, or if I don't run farther than I did last year, will it all fall into "the same ole, same ole" category? Perhaps.
I am not planning to try to out-do myself this year. I am not planning any personal records. I am not planning to run farther and farther and faster and faster. I am merely trying to run better. I want to really understand what running movement actually is. I really want to try to feel and experience what my body is actually doing, how all the systems are working together with the ground and gravity.
So, I hope it doesn't get boring, because since a lot of what I'm going for is a feel and experience, it might be hard to write about.
Let's just say for now that I'm off to a good start with it.
Disclaimer: I think by law I'm supposed to tell you that the link to the book above is part of Amazon Associates. If anyone clicked on that link and bought the book I would get some money. I am not writing my blog for money. (If I ever do, I will tell you). I would read this book anyway, and I would link to it anyway, so since they have this gadget, I figure, why not just use it since I'm going to link to the book anyway. I am not trying to sell books though. I am really trying to share stuff I find interesting and inspiring. (If that ever changed I would tell you.)