Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Massaging the Plantar Fascia the Natural Way

By going barefoot in my backyard, I have stumbled on some little discoveries that I don't know if I would have found if I had not been walking around barefoot.

In walking on the uneven terrain of my backyard in bare feet, I learned that the edges of rocks and tree roots massage the tender plantar fascia connective tissue.  I have tried to use tennis balls and golf balls and even little balls from a special plantar fasciitis trigger point therapy kit I bought in a running store.

However, when my feet stumbled on the sharp edge of my uneven stone backyard, it found massage heaven.  And when I watered my flowers and stepped on a giant tree root, my bare feet told me I had found something good.

This happened simultaneously with my having read a little suggestion on the chi running blog (Plantar Fasciitis Prevention and Cure) about massaging for plantar fasciitis by walking barefoot on gravel.  I didn't have any gravel, but very soon after that I accidentally stepped on the "ledge" of a piece of sidewalk and found a similar effect.

Up until that point, I had been using the plantar fasciitis massage recommended in some books and demonstrated in this video here:

 It required me to pull back on my toes and stretch the plantar fascia.  It seemed to help, however, I felt also like it was pulling the fascia at the place where it was attached to the heel and maybe stressing that point too much.

Anyway, having my camera handy and this blog in mind, I took some video of me massaging my foot in this manner on various rocks and tree roots in my yard.

You can see the videos if you click here:  Plantar Massage Videos

Vibrams or Barefoot Today?

I still have those tiny little abrasions on my left foot and it is time to go run again. (I'm running a mile 3x a week and my goal is "consistency" right now.)

The question is whether to use my Vibrams or not today.  I really was looking forward to more barefoot running, but the adult in me says to just wear Vibrams today to protect the little sore spots from dirt and bacteria.

However, the kid in me says, "I want to run barefoot."

I had my husband look at the little cuts and he says they are just fine.  They are so tiny.  Like a dot.  I can't feel them when I walk, even walking barefoot around the house.  I only found out they were there when I was washing my feet and I felt soreness when I rubbed the spots where they were.

As I was writing this blog, I decided to go out and try to take pictures of the little abrasions.  I think the photos actually came out a little interesting -- totally by accident.

I told my runner friend I started a blog to journal about my barefoot running and I told her that I posted pictures of my feet and she said, "I would NEVER post pictures of my feet on the Internet!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Uh-oh -- Some Little Barefoot Bruises

Last night I noticed two little abrasions on the bottom of my left foot.

Oh no!  That's it!  No more barefoot running!

Okay, calm down.  Why didn't I see these before?  One was some very slightly scuffed skin below my pinky toe, and the other was further down on the outside edge.

They were really tiny and insignificant and may even have been caused by my walking to my voice lessons in new Teva sandals yesterday.  I am very squeamish about any kind of abrasion of the skin and I was reacting to these like a little kid who is upset that he got a small boo boo.  Very wimpy.  I am most certainly not a warrior.  In fact I've already decided I will NEVER trail run barefoot.  I will stay on the safe paths!!! (famous last words?)

At the barefoot running clinic I attended a few weeks ago, Michael Sandler (Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth) had mentioned that  the feet need rest time so the muscles can build themselves up.  He said we can "rest" our feet by wearing our supportive shoes.

But when I tried to wear my running shoes to walk to an appointment last Friday after having run barefoot in order to do just that, my feet ended up hurting horribly. I just couldn't stand the hump under my arch in the running shoe.  It felt really uncomfortable.  After trying to walk in the running shoes, I realized even more how they may have played a role in me getting plantar fasciitis.  At least I think I bought the wrong kind of shoes for my feet.

So, when I had to walk to an appointment yesterday after having run barefoot, I chose my Tevas this time -- a new pair I just got.

The little cuts on my feet may have been caused by this walk and not the barefoot running.

I had inspected my feet carefully after my run yesterday and they had looked fine.

However, I seem to recall having read on one of the barefoot blogs or one of the books that bruises and cuts sometimes don't show up until later.

Anyway, a good night's rest seems to have taken care of things.

But, being new to this, I am on alert!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Care and Keeping of Bare Feet

One thing that caused me to stall going for a barefoot run for the first time was the idea of how dirty the sidewalks must be.  I walk my dog out there, and for that alone, a person of a genteel nature might hesitate.  I've seen people spit on the sidewalks., smokers flick ashes on the sidewalks, people dump drinks on the sidewalks. It's not something a woman wants to encounter.

But I also realized there are probably tons of germs, maybe even more disgusting things, on the grocery store shopping carts.  So, maybe I can just wash my feet more often -- like I wash my hands.

I'm starting to develop a little after-care routine for my feet.  I throw a little towel down on the floor first:

This gives me something to set my wet feet on so I don't slip on the kitchen floor tile.

Next I get a bit of stretching in, because lifting my feet up there is a feat.

I have a foot scrub brush upstairs.  I want to get a downstairs one.  (Mental note: purchase a downstairs foot brush)

I know some people will wince at the thought that I'm using the kitchen sink.  I' probably shouldn't.  But I do scrub it thoroughly afterwards!  I like the kitchen sink because it has a removal spray head.

Well, the very last thing is that I'm using Aquaphor on my heels and around the edges of my feet where it's getting a bit of tougher skin.

The aquaphor is very soothing, and I know from using it in other ways that it does seem to be able to condition and repair dry skin.

That's all for now.  Just part of the journey.  All these little aspects of changing to a barefoot runner.

Barefoot and Beautiful

I have always felt that my feet were an asset in the beauty department.  I have always liked their shape and I have taken time to care for them.  You may disagree with that when you see the pictures below, but -- oh well -- we have to like something about ourselves and I have always felt my feet were okay.  Yes, I have marks where my flip flop has been rubbing, and an uneven tan, and some discoloring on my toenails.  But overall they're kind of nice.  I mean, some people really hate their feet.  But I have never felt that way.

Now that I am trying out barefoot, I have some vanity concerns.  What will my feet look like if I proceed on this path? Will they get really ugly?

I went to a barefoot running workshop in Central Park with Michael Sandler (author of Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth).  His co-author, Jessica Lee, was there and she gave us ladies a talk about some things to expect once we develop into more advanced barefoot runners.

For one thing, she said that our forefoot area was going to get wider.  It's been smushed up in shoes and misshapen and is underdeveloped muscularly, so it's going to change shape a little.  She said that we may change our preference for shoes, especially wearing high heels.  I guess barefoot running stretches out the achilles tendon and wearing heels, which shortens and tightens that tendon, will not be as desirable.

She also said that we don't want to slough off the tough skin on the bottom of our feet when we go for pedicures.  That skin on the soles of our feet is protection and it's something we want to be there.

Jason Robillard -- in his book The Barefoot Running Book: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running -- says that the bottom of our feet won't be calloused, but smooth and leathery.  Hmmm!

I made a decision a while back that I was not going to have long manicured fingernails.  I play the piano and long nails made it really hard to play.  I went through a stage where I had wraps put on my nails and I was going for regular manicures to keep it up.  I guess I was experimenting with it.  Is this who I am as a woman?  But eventually I gave it up.  It was not who I was as a woman.  I had decided that I wanted to have hands that were not pampered and preserved, but hands that worked, made things, accomplished things.  I do recognize that there are women who have the pampered hands who accomplish a lot too.  Some of them do amazing things while sporting their long nails.  So, I just want to say that it was a lifestyle choice for me.  I wanted to work hard, play the piano, get my hands in the dirt and that's more who I was -- was more natural to me -- than the other kind.

Well, now we've turned to feet.  I didn't realize that while I was getting my hands out for a lifestyle choice, I was leaving my feet in the pampered supported world.

Anticipating some kind of transformation of my feet last night, I wanted to take a picture of my feet before they change.  So, here's a few pictures.  Before pictures.  They're not as pampered because I  have been barefooting for a few weeks, but they still are not what they will be later.

I Did It Again -- I Ran Barefoot

Today was my third time running a mile barefoot.  It was fantastic.

When I started this blog I thought -- and I still think -- that this is either going to be a blog about a woman's gradual metamorphosis into a barefoot runner, or it was going to be a blog with a few posts about someone who gave it a try and fizzled out.  But immediately after each barefoot run I lean more towards the first blog, because I am so amazed at the experience I am having running this way.

Before I head out, as I wrote on another page, I give a little shudder at the thought of running a mile without shoes on.  But it only takes a few steps before everything feels so right in a way that I haven't felt since childhood, and I know that I am headed in the right direction.

I took some videos today of my barefoot run and I'm going to post them in a special place in the web I call "Frescamari's Practice Room."   Frescamari's Practice Room is a posterous blog where I post clips of me practicing singing and kind of journal and note in a sloppy kind of disordered way all about what I'm trying to accomplish when I am practicing.

I'm have posted the videos I took of the little steps out to barefoot run today.  In them will be are some pictures of the surfaces I'm running on and some little commentary about how it feels to walk on the surfaces.  If you are interested, here's a link to click:

Barefoot Running Videos -- Part I
Barefoot Running Videos -- Part II

In a book I'm reading about barefoot running The Barefoot Running Book: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running by Jason Robillard, he writes a section on "comebacks" for comments a barefoot runner might get from onlookers and bystanders.  So far I have received amazingly few looks or comments.  I don't know if that's because I am in an urban area where all kinds of people do all kinds of strange things and people get used to just blankly observing -- "Ho hum -- cars zooming by -- blink -- man with dog -- yawn -- strange guy doing yoga in the park in bikini bathing suit --blink -- lady feeding 25 cats out her front door -- zone -- somebody's mom with dog running barefoot, etc...."

Today, I heard pounding on the ground behind me like a herd of antelopes approaching.  Before I knew it I was in the midst of being passed on the left and on the right by a group of teenage boys out for a run.  I would tend to get nervous when packs of teenage boys approached -- but NOT when they are running.  Because a pack of teenage boys out running are doing something positive and healthful. They are working on goals.  They are organized.  They've learned to give up comfort and burn their youthful boy energy in a focused way.  They are developing self-discipline and stamina.  Coming toward me in a pack like that they emanated a sense of group purpose.  Wow, this is what male energy working together can be like.  It's powerful.  That power of the pack.

This must be the high school cross country team getting together for a run, I thought.

They were young, fast, and strong, and wearing shoes.  They all passed me and left me in the dust.  My footsteps were soft, soundless and catlike compared to their pounding hooves.

I wonder if any of them noticed I was running barefoot, I thought?  Even though they were concentrating on their run, and went by so fast that it seemed like there wasn't time to notice, they must have seen me as they approached.  Even to just make a mental note of the scenery.  They had to see me because they had to move around me.

That's the thing about running, is that while you're out there, little things go by and sometimes the impression of something you saw remains or causes you to reflect.  I just had a feeling that someone in that crowd must have noticed the barefoot.

I was on a cross-country team in high school, and there were little "happenings" that just seemed so insignificant, but which kind of stay with you.  The little "happening" leaves an impression.  Perhaps one of those boys reads about running and is familiar with the barefoot trend.  Perhaps one of them just saw me, thinks it's weird, but doesn't know he is destined to be a barefoot runner someday and will then look back and remember that first glimpse he had of someone doing it in bare feet.  I may be the first person some people see do that.

A little after the pack passed me and left me in the dust the slower runners came along.  Even these slow stragglers on this young team were running faster than I was.

I thought back to my own days running cross country.  A friend of mine had asked if I could join the team because they needed five girls to have a team.  I was very slow.  We practiced with the boys team and I was always way way behind everyone else.  So, these stragglers reminded me of me.  Sometimes it's the stragglers, oddly enough, who later become the "true" runners.

The last member of the team to come along was walking.  It was hard for him.  He was taking a rest.  I think he, even walking, was moving faster than I was.  He walked for half a block but then resumed running.  I wanted to call out to him and tell him he was doing great.  It's okay to stop and walk.  I never knew that when I was  young.  I imagined that he was not enjoying himself.  When you have to stop and walk it's often because you just don't have the will to go on.  At least that's why I would have done it.  But now I know that walking a little can rejuvenate you on a run and make a run fun again because you get a little rest.

Well, that was my barefoot running experience for today.  I went out, ran the same mile as the other times, got passed by a boys cross country team, reflected on a lot of things, and came home feeling amazing.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Next Barefoot Run -- Tomorrow -- Really?

Will I really start out barefoot tomorrow?  Will I really continue with this?

My running right now is so modest.  I am building from scratch after six months off with plantar fasciitis.  But even before I was waylaid, I was really only just getting back into it.

So, now, my goal is consistency.  I don't care how far or how fast.  I just made a plan to go out there M - W - F in between Kung Fu days.  So far I'm running a little over a mile each time and it's getting easier and easier.

The last two times were barefoot all the way.

I originally wasn't planning to be up to a mile barefooting yet.  At first I was just doing my little walking warmup barefoot.  Then I planned to walk a warmup and then start jogging barefoot only a few yards or so.  Finally I had worked up to walking about a 1/4 mile barefoot, then running a 1/2 mile barefoot, then running the last half mile in Vibrams.

But the last two times, I just kept running when I was supposed to change into my Vibrams.  I just knew it was all right.  I kept asking myself if I was overdoing it -- "Is this too much?  Am I overdoing it?" -- but my body knew I wasn't.

Anyway, tomorrow is my next running day.  Now that I've done the whole thing barefoot way sooner than I thought I would, do I have to keep doing it barefoot?  I have this weird kind of scrupulosity about running where I feel like I can't go "back."  Once I've run something a better way, I can't go back and do it the way I was before.  I have to maintain my new level.

Do I have to make up my mind ahead of time?  I feel like I have a choice set before me.  On the one side, it looks like the comfort of running shoes.  On the other side, it looks like "the hard way."

But like so many other choices like this, the appearance of comfort is an illusion.  Because plantar fasciitis was definitely not comfortable.

I wasn't able to change my running form while wearing my shoes.  Deep in my heart, I know these shoes had to come off and I had to learn all over again.

Will I be able to transpose what my feet are teaching me to running in shoes again?  That was my original idea:  Use barefooting to learn how to run properly and then put my shoes back on and run the barefoot way in them.  But now I'm wondering if I will ever put my shoes on again for running.

There's something else at work with this barefooting stuff.  It's all trying to tell me something.  Something about giving up planning and control and measuring and having it all tied up in neat little packages.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Running Shoes

As a woman who for many years loved to shop, when I found out that I had to buy good quality running shoes in order to protect myself from injury -- that I had to spend money to protect myself -- I was absolutely delighted!  My parents were very frugal when I was growing up, and frugal doctrines were programmed into me, but I had this streak of rebellion about frugality.  Yet I also always had guilt when I rebelled and spent money I shouldn't.  So, anytime I got permission to buy something expensive, I was very happy.

And what a wonderful thing to get to spend money on!  A wonderful pair of scientifically designed running shoes!  Not only was I required to buy these shoes for my health and protection, but -- o joy of joys -- they would wear out and I would get to do it again!  And again and again if I kept running.

Nope, the cheap shoes were bad, Mom.  I can't buy them at Kmart.  I have to go to a sports store or -- gasp of delight -- a special running store to buy them.

When I first walked into the store, the beautiful colors and sporty designs sparkled from the little individual shelves on the wall.  I wonder what wonderful pair will be mine?

Well, being a large sized foot, I find out that the cutest colors and styles don't always come in my size.  On top of that, the ones they do have in my size don't look as cute as the shoes on the little shelves when they come out of the box.  They are bigger, and in the uglier color.

But that's okay -- they are still specially designed and crafted specialty running shoes, and they are still expensive!  I still get to buy something expensive and luxurious for myself because I am required to.  If I don't, I will hurt myself.  My knees will feel shock waves from the ground.  My pronating feet will misalign my stride and cause repetitive stress injuries. I really need these shoes. I must have these shoes.

Well, then I find out I've got some other issues besides big feet.  It seems that I need a wide toe box and all the cuter women's running shoes taper at the toe.  In some styles I even have to put on a man's version of the shoe, which is in men's colors.  Ugh!

Yet, all is well when I put them on and walk around the store and my feet feel like they've gone to heaven with all that wonderful support and cushioning.  How wonderful it will feel to run in these!

Yes, this is the frame of mind I had about running shoes for many a year and many a pair.

But when I tried to get back to running in the past couple of years, I didn't run right to the store to buy the shoes.  No, I decided I had to earn them first.

No longer actively running, I had switched, over the years, to a practical white New Balance walking shoe.  I bought a new pair of these same shoes every year for over 10 years.  There was no reason to go shopping for running shoes because I was not running.

So, my plan to get back into running started with developing a walking base first.  I could just use the shoes I owned for this, but I got a second pair, one for walking workouts, and one for just hanging around in my life.

But once that walking base was built, and it was time to start running, it was time to go back to the running shoe store once again!

I felt self-conscious going in to the store this time because now I was only planning to become a runner, but was no longer an active runner.  I was overweight, and did not look like a runner or like any of the customers I knew must frequent this store.

However, the sales person was very helpful.  He looked at the bottom of my walking shoes ("yup, you're a pronator") and gave me a pair of shoes with special strong springy material right in the place where pronators do their thing, and special bolstering in the arch so the shoe would not wear down and keep me from pronating.

After that, the next time I needed new running shoes was while vacationing out of town. I was introduced to -- gasp -- a running shoe store on the Finish Line to the Boston Marathon.  I took touristy pictures.  I was so excited, and felt so justified by the special occasion, and even more justified by the fact that I was now actually running (I had brought my "gear" to Boston with me and had run along the Charles River even, right while I was on vacation and in a hotel and all -- "real" runners do that right?)  Surely I was justified in splurging and buying two pair.  I couldn't decide between a pair of Brooks and a pair of Saucony Lady Jazz (which was the first kind I had ever worn) that I just went ahead and got them both.  After all, I had read somewhere that it actually took 24 hours for running shoes to actually completely dry from all the sweat from our feet and that we should let them dry completely before we used them again.  AND, I just figured it was good to have a pair to alternate.  Maybe the slightly different fit of the different shoes would develop slightly different aspects of the muscles or something.  Who knows? Just seemed good somehow.

Well, the next time after the Boston time that I needed to get running shoes was after my latest attempt last year to get myself back running.  I had walked for 8 weeks in the alternating pair of the by-that-time worn-down Brooks and Sauconys.  I was using Chi Walking to teach myself a better walking form because I had previously been waylaid by a bout with two strained hips and I was hoping Chi Walking would help prevent that from happening again.  I had successfully completed a brisk-for-me 5K event (48 minutes) and felt I was now  ready to start a conservative run/walk program.  I also decided I was going to try to train to walk/run a half marathon at the end of the year.

So, to reward myself for building up the 8-week walking base, and to inaugurate my new run/walk training plan, I , of course, had to take a trip to the running shoe store to purchase a brand new pair of shoes to train in.

Only the problem was that the shoes I had were pressing on my toes and I was getting this weird toe pain and ingrown toenails.  So, maybe I needed a bigger size (10, instead of 9.5?)

But when I tried on the bigger size, my heel slipped out the back.  It just wasn't working.

So, the sales guy brought out a pair from the back room.  "Maybe these would work," he said, "but they are way more expensive."  $150 -- the most I would have, up to this point, ever paid for running shoes.  They gleamed as he held them before my eyes.  Silver mesh and navy blue.  They were light and wonderful.  There was plenty of room in the toe box.  He showed me an alternate way of tying them so the heel was snug.

Of course I got them.

And then IT happened.  IT is the horrible plantar fasciitis monster.

Why did it rear it's ugly head?  Plantar fasciitis?  I had been using such a good form with the chi walking that I felt like I was just flying down the sidewalk.  I had surely built enough of a base with that walking.  And I was being so conservative about incorporating some running into my routine.  So gradual.  I gave myself plenty of time to train and build a base.

Now I have often read in the barefooting blogs, forums and books that I have inspected, that there is some kind of finding out there in research that there are more injuries with more expensive running shoes, and that the more expensive the running shoes are, the more problems there are.



Could it be true?

After all those years of believing I had to have a really expensive, amazingly designed running shoes, could it be that it was my beautiful pair of silver and navy blues that did it?  That caused me to run in such a way as to put strain on my plantar fascia?

The more I experiment with barefoot running, and the more I read and discover, the more I am beginning to think that, yes, indeed, the new pair of $150 running shoes had a role to play in my developing one of the most painful conditions my feet had ever experienced.  I've been so worried that after my 6 months hiatus to get the plantar fasciitis healed it would just come back again when I started to try to train.

Because I could not ascertain the cause.

Was the cause my weight?

Did I do too much too soon?

Was it my running form?

Was it ... was it .... was it .... the $150 running shoes?

Well, I am running barefoot for a bit now, and I am running an entire mile -- not run/walking like I was last year -- and I am 25 pounds heavier than I was when I developed the plantar fasciitis.

The reason I am not run walking is because the first day I was out running in my Vibrams I had forgotten my watch to set for run a minute/walk a minute.  So, I just said to myself that I would just run until I was tired, then walk until recovered, etc... without timing it with a watch.  I would just listen to my body.

But I never got tired and I just kept running and running for a full mile.

And I was not wearing my $150 running shoes (although the Vibrams are expensive) and my feet felt really great.

And now I have run that mile two times completely in bare feet, and my feet (except for the sunburnt feeling, which is now completely gone) feel really great.

Could it be?  Was it really? ... the shoes?

Second Barefoot Running Post

Why am I posting today, on a day when I'm cross-training with Kung Fu and not running?

Well, rest days are part of being a beginner barefooter.  Running on the pavement slightly abrades the soles of my feet (hence the "sunburned feeling" I wrote about yesterday, and on rest days the skin is growing back stronger.  I heard that from Michael Sandler (Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth) at a barefoot running workshop of his I attended several weeks ago.

Last night -- as I wrote in the first post of my new blog -- the thought of stepping out on my sensitive slightly abraded soles didn't seem too appealing.  But overnight it is amazing the repair job the body does.  My feet feel closer to ready for another little barefoot run.

I was at the park today, and I saw a long tree-lined path that beckoned to me.  I felt like kicking my flip flops off and just running there.  But I know that I have to build this gradually and should resist such an impulse for now.  As I walked along the paths in the park, I couldn't help but notice how clear they were, pretty clear of debris, actually.

I am surprised to find out how clear the sidewalks and pavements are around here.  Is it because it is a suburban-type area and people walking along with shoes have kicked stuff out of the way?  It reminds me of how the main roads are clearer after a snow storm because there are more cars there.

I also, even when walking shod now, have become more aware of the different surfaces I'm walking on.  Yes, only a few times out there barefoot, and an awareness of something taken for granted grows.  It's almost like there's information out there -- just like the barefoot running people say -- that would be gathered by the nerve endings in our feet that give us information about the earth beneath us -- that gives us feedback about where we are that helps us be more present to where we are.  It gives us a feeling of exactly where on the planet we are standing.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beginning the Barefoot Journey

I have started a barefoot blog even though the only knowledge I have of barefoot running is what I have read and exists as an appealing theory to me.

I have started a barefoot blog even though I'm an absolute beginner who has only run barefoot about six times.

I have started a barefoot blog even though I have no idea if I'm going to stick with barefoot running or not.

However, I have another blog, Avocational Singer, and my desire to talk about my experimentation with barefoot running might not fit the theme of a blog that is supposed to mainly talk about my singing journey. Although  I have written on that blog about how there is a way that barefoot running actually does fit in with my singing journey,  I don't want to change the topic and talk too much about barefoot running there.

But here, I just want to have a place to talk about what I think about barefoot running and/or running in general and how it is going for me.

I'm an absolute beginner with this so I speak with no authority on the subject.  Just want to share my journey somewhere.

Not only am I an absolute beginner with barefoot running, but I'm almost pretty much a beginner as a runner too.  Although I started on the path of being a "real runner" many years ago in my youth, I abandoned that path for many years, and in the past few years I have been trying to find my way back to running.

Several attempts in recent years to "become a runner" again have ended with disablement that got me discouraged, and forced me to stop running in order to heal.

Things are different as I struggle to become a runner again now.  Back then, even though I was an active youth,  I was not a very strong runner because I was very afraid of pain, so I did not push myself.  I was a comfortable runner. I ran at a speed that felt comfortable.  Oh, there was some sacrifice and some little bit of struggle to get to the level of being that comfortable runner. But I was no, as they say, "bad-ass."  I was no "animal."  I had a lot of fear about running and pushing myself harder.  So, once I attained some level of running, around a 10 minutes a mile, and once I built up a little stamina and endurance, I kind of settled into a comfortable runner's mode.  I never would have won any competitions.  In fact, when I was on the cross country team, there were girls who were walking part of the way who beat me!

But that was enough for me back then, and I was happy to go out and run 6 miles at 10 minutes/mile.  It was hard for me to attain that modest accomplishment and I was happy and proud of myself.

There hasn't been a day in these past over 25 years -- mainly because I see runners every day -- that I haven't wished I would go back to running.  And even though I was not running, for some bizarre reason I still considered myself a runner.  Some kind of de-activated runner or something.  As people saw me waddling along in my very unfit state, had I stated that I was a "runner" I might have been laughed at or just written off as someone deluded.  But I think runners understand what I mean.  It's like the title of that book, "Once a Runner ...."

I finally did get started again -- with a plan -- about 6 years ago.

But this time around it is much harder to get started.

For one thing, I no longer was young and I no longer was very active.  I had become very overweight.  So, in my forties, inactive, overweight, getting started running was going to be a much different kind of project than it was when I first picked it up in high school.

Last year, I made another attempt to put running back into my life.  I thought I had a realistic, conservative, reasonable plan.  But despite my care, this time around I developed a terrible case of plantar fasciitis and finally admitted last November that I would have to stop running, yet once more, in order to get it to heal.

During the time of healing, I found and read information on running barefoot and I believe that I have found a way to get my foot strong so that I will not get that plantar fasciitis the next time I start to build my distances.  My first few experiences out there barefoot have indicated to me that what I've only read about making my feet strong and curing my plantar fasciitis may actually prove true.  I am cautiously optimistic about it.

As I'm out there running barefoot, like I was this morning, a lot of little things happen, and thoughts come to mind and it seems as if I want to just sit right down when I get home and write about it.  So, maybe that's what this space will be all about.

But, the way my feet feel at the moment, a little tender and sore, the thought of doing it again makes me cringe, even though it has always felt incredibly good each time I've gone out.

That's part of being a beginner barefoot runner for me.  I am loving and enjoying this new style of running, and experiencing something close to exhilaration as I feel the contact with the ground.  However, my feet have grown quite weak, soft and tender all those years in my shoes.  It is going to take time for them to toughen up on the soles.  So, after I've finished with my little barefoot run for the day, there is a little reminder that I have been out there running in my bare feet.  A teeny bit of soreness.  It feels kind of like a sunburn.  A teeny sunburn.  Not a really bad one where you really goofed and overdid it.  It feels like the kind of sunburn you get the first time out at the beach, when you've been careful, but you are a little pink, but it's not going to peel, it's just going to turn into a little base-layer tan.

Yes, that's the way it feels.

This morning when I was running my barefoot mile, I wanted to come  home and become a barefoot blogger. But now, when I have the time to sit down in the evening and create my barefoot blog, the little sunburnt feeling on my feet is saying, "You won't keep going with this!"

So this blog may end up with only four posts, or it may be the beginning of a longer journey.  I have no idea.