Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mile 81 -- Cold Bare Feet

I had to get a run in today.  Sunday is usually my rest and recovery day, but I missed a day during the week so I wanted to do a "make-up" this morning before we got into our Sunday routine.

It was hard to tear myself away from the computer where I usually leisurely enjoy coffee on Sunday mornings.  There were two reasons I didn't want to wait until later in the day.

  1. I am planning to do two runs back-to-back this week -- something I don't usually do -- so I wanted at least 24 hours recovery time.  Recovery time for me is a pretty "sacred" kind of thing.  I am amazed at how respecting this aspect of training has helped me to get strong very gradually.
  2. I have been out with all the Sunday runners before.  The sidewalks are crowded a little later on in the day.  Although I get a kick out of meeting a runner or two out there, I don't know if I'm ready for lots and lots of the local runners seeing me barefoot.
-----------------Pain in the Joint-------------------
It turned out that the little pinprick pain I was feeling -- which I wrote about last time -- was not being caused by an object embedded in my foot, but was a problem with the joint.  My DH gave me a foot adjustment (he was a chiropractor for 25 years before he went back to get his medical degree).

The first steps out and I felt the joint issue at certain moments.  I wondered if I should skip my run, but decided that I would go out and try to focus extra specially on setting my foot lightly on the ground and picking it up without grinding my foot into the ground.

I don't know if you remember, but early in this journey, in trying to solve the problem of pain in the second metatarsal head, I realized I had been pressing my feet in to the ground and pushing off (wrote about that here).

Well, I was reading a post on Barefoot Ken Bob's site -- The Running Barefoot -- where the OP was asking about this very issue.  Barefoot Ken Bob posted a link to the "solution".  It involved not pushing one's foot into the ground, and paying attention to the lifting of the foot.

I decided to proceed with that idea in mind very strongly.  I also referred myself back to some good advice from Barefoot Josh.  He has a great video on his web site that gives some instruction on how to take the barefoot running step.  He suggests running backward to get the right feel of how to step.  I did that a bit before I went out today to just review and get that feeling solidly into me before I proceeded forward.

It turned out that this approach worked very well.  Having that little sore spot helped remind me to get it right.  Sometimes, like I've said before here, going out with a painful spot is a helpful teacher.

I did notice that the rough going on the nubby stone sidewalks and the stretches of asphalt were where the problem must have first occurred.  It's when the foot sinks into the little crevices in the ground and bumps up against the ridges that it is prone to be injured in the way I have.  I noticed that it felt better if I did not lift my foot all the way up so it was flexed completely, like in this picture:

It's not that my foot every got quite up that far.  This is a very exaggerated example. But lifting the feet when they are still relatively flat avoids pushing off from that joint in any way, or pressing that joint into the ground, or just bearing one's weight on that joint for any amount of time will cause the problem.

I found, at any rate, that I could go for my entire run without making the joint any worse just be being really careful about my form.

Running in that "back woods" section of my run (the nubby sidewalks and asphalt section) is tough going for my feet.  Yet I insist on keeping that section there. I feel like I'm almost not running, but kind of gingerly stepping around very quickly.  It's very hard to describe what I have to do to stay light and relaxed there. (It goes something like this: "ooh-chie -- aah-chie -- ooh-chie -- aah-chie -- ooh-chie -- aah-chie!" all the way.)

Going through that section causes more fatigue, but I will tell you that it feels so wonderful when I get back to smooth ground.

-------------------Cold Feet ---------------------
Oh, did I say that I had cold feet in the title?  Yes.  This was hints of what is to come in the coming weeks.  The walking warm-up today was not very warm.  I wanted to get myself moving faster sooner, and waiting while Daffodil sniffed around and made her little pre-run pit stops was too cold on my feet.  I had to kind of run in place a little when we stopped to keep my feet from getting cold.

I have been worrying about what will happen to me as a barefoot runner as winter comes on.  Barefoot Angie Bee mentioned something on her blog post today about dressing warmly so her body could send warmth to her feet more efficiently.  I will have to keep that piece of advice in mind.  It may be enough to get me through at least October and November.

-------------------Running Buddies---------------------
I, for the most part, am content to be what I am as a runner -- at least at present -- and that seems to be a pretty slow runner.  I am fairly certain that when I participate in the 1st Annual NYC Barefoot Run  next week that I will be the very last person there.  That would certainly make me the least of the barefoot runners, although I am sure there are some unknown people out there who might be of my ilk (I hope they find my blog to comfort them.)

And I have mused -- in the post where I celebrated my 50th barefoot mile -- about whether there is any reason I should at some point (definitely not now) have a reason to try to increase my speed.  In that post, I think I mentioned that I don't really have a motivation to increase speed.

Well, I do actually have a motivation, and it is this:

These girls passed me when I was out there today.  They were having a nice conversation and as they passed I thought it would be nice to be able to run with people. At least sometimes.

When I joined the running club in Spring of '09, I found myself way behind everyone, and running basically by myself.

That's what happens. When you are slow you are often alone.  I do enjoy being alone, and would probably prefer to run a majority of my runs alone.  That solitude is part of what I actually like about running.

But when I do get together with people, I would like to be able to run along with some people a bit.  There is a time for solitude, and there is also a time for solidarity.

It was so nice of the two sweepers at the Harlem to Brooklyn Barefoot Run with Chris McDougall to run along and chat with me.  I enjoyed that very much.  But I could tell that they were itching to go faster.  They kept getting a bit ahead of me and circling back.  That's what happens.  It's natural.

For now,  however, I shall be as content as can be in my "place."  It is patience with one's present state that gets the job done.

And in the meantime I shall remember that I am, indeed, not alone, nor shall I take my present running partner for granted (even though she, like the sweepers, is also itching to go a little faster):

My Little Running Buddy!


chris mcpeake said...

good luck with your barefoot race

Anonymous said...

Your commitment is very inspiring. I'm so proud of you and impressed by your courage to keep going!

I prefer running alone. Running with people isn't my thing (though, it's nice sometimes) but I completely understand your desire to be able to have some company.
Hopefully, we'll get to run together one day soon.

Avocational Singer said...

@Chris -- thanks for stopping by and leaving some well wishes -- welcome to you!

@Robin -- Thanks! Running alone is great! We shall run together again one day! I know it!