So early this morning or possibly last night I decided that my neighborhood 5k had already gotten stale and boring. Time to switch it up. The plan: Conquer the hill that conquered my hip. (oh, I’m officially blaming the hill for the stress fracture that started the whole mess now, by the way. The hill and a bad running form coming down the hill).
Wait. There is a precursor to this story. On Monday or Tuesday, I got barefoot-curious, and in 40* weather, I ventured outside barefoot. I had my keys in my hand, to go get……something…..out of my truck. (I may still be in the barefoot closet at this point). Just wanted to see what it felt like to walk around out there barefoot. I decided that it was too d**n cold for me, and promptly came back in, wondering how Barefoot Josh does it. Didn’t think much more of it at the time.
I knew today was going to be good weather to run; and today seemed as good of a day as any to go take down the hill. I get down there, no intention of running barefoot today. I did however plan on pushing my luck with a tad longer run than the doctor ordered (closer to 4 or maybe 4.5 miles had I done the actual half marathon route). While I’m stretching, I realize no one is around. Hmmm….it’s warmer today….let me just slip my shoes and socks off and see how cold the ground is today.
“Not bad, really” So there I stand. Barefoot. In the middle of a parking lot. Alone. I tuck my shoes behind the tire of my truck (not like anyone wants to steal some grubby old running shoes anyway). I walk calmly over to the walking path (completely away from the hill I came to conquer). I get that far and wonder, hmm…maybe I can run just a few steps to see what it’s like. So i hit start on the garmin, and off I go.
Remembering what I have leeched off of barefootrunning.com and advice from Barefoot Josh, I remember to bend my knees, to the point of feeling silly, run lightly and ninja-like (maybe I made the last part up, but you get the idea…quiet), stay off the heels, don’t let my feet twist coming up off the ground. Stand upright, high knees, keep feet in short, quick steps…. “I got this” is running thru my mind.
I finally look up and see a guy ahead of me, walking, clearly a public works employee. Crap. This guy’s gonna think I’m a nut, not only running barefoot, but doing it in January. I made the turn at the back of the trail, and there off the trailhead pops another runner, one whom I know and go to church with. He’s a good ways in front of me, and looking at my time, apparently I tried to catch him for a few seconds. That’s when he turns around and starts headed back toward me. Busted. Barefoot. Hoping he won’t notice, I wave and say “hi” and keep trucking. First words: “you lost your shoes, didn’t you?” I reply ” nah. trying to slow myself down. I’ve been running too fast”
It was the best excuse I could come up with. Looking back, it was lame. Whatever. I had to say something, because I’m sure it’s going to come up again Sunday morning. In front of my wife. Whom I have not yet told that I am bare-curious. I’ll come back to that though.
So just past him I hit roughly the .5 mile marker, and my feet are starting to get hot. Like sandpaper going across the bottom kinda hot. So I pause the garmin timer, and stand around for a minute, feeling kind of
lost stuck. I know the truck is a good ways away (.1-.2 tenths of a mile is a “good ways away” while barefoot). I decide it’s best to suck it up and run on back to the truck. I figure if I can run 8.5 miles on a broken hip, .2 tenths of a mile barefoot should be nothing. I get back to the truck feeling liberated. “Man. That was awesome”
Then I wonder if I can go farther. Can I conquer the hill barefoot? Am I willing to try it ? I decide after my recent feeling of hopelessness that it’s best to take the shoes, just in case. I’d hate to be barefoot and a mile or a mile and a half away. Been there, done that before (stupid hip…).
I opted for socks this time, thinking this will somehow “protect” my feet a little, while still allowing me to continue my barefoot quest up the hill. Let me say, socks don’t do much. But in my mind, at the time, they were great. Once again, it was like I had just started all over again. I trot on up the hill, until I get that burning sensation again. I stopped again and inspected my feet. Everything looked ok, but I have had enough for today. 1.5 Miles. 17 Minutes, 29 seconds. Actual time on feet barefoot: 19 minutes, 32 seconds.
I slipped my shoes on, and finished the run. I noticed immediately how much different my stride was barefoot vs. wearing shoes. I also noticed what I haven’t even thought about until this point: my hip, which hasn’t hurt at all, now is sore. Is it the shoes, the running form, or the fact that my feet demanded way more attention than my hip did? I may never know the answer to that question. Last half of the run was about 2.1 miles, did it in 22:49. It was slow, because1. I was on a hill. 2. My feet really were starting to hurt, and I was running slightly funny to compensate 3. I had already run 1.5 miles. 4. I was lost in thought about this whole barefoot thing
I finally get finished up, and down to the truck. I pack up and head home. My feet are tender, and I’m curious to inspect them, so as soon as I hit the front door I ditched the shoes and flip ’em over. Right foot: some redness, a whole lot of dirt, but in good shape. Left foot: uh-oh. that’s gonna hurt, isn’t it. Blister. On the big toe, maybe a quarter inch by one inch in size. Crap. I have to work on this all night.
I do a little googling about blisters and treatment, and actually wind up on barefootrunning.com again. The post I pulled up was someone who had 2 come up at the same time, one he drained, the other he let heal naturally. He said the one he drained hurt like the devil while the one he left alone was sore, but not really painful. He said in the end they both were back at 100% on the same day.
With that advice, I decide it’s best to leave mine alone.
So that’s that. 1.5 barefoot miles, 1 new blister, and a whole lot more curiosity.
For documents sake, and ’cause all barefoot kids seem to like grody feet pics, attached is exhibit a– my left foot.
Also, here’s the garmin data from the first half of the run– exhibit B
so…any speculation as to what I did wrong? the socks? the extra 3/4th of a mile? the extra 2.1 miles after barefooting-it? bad form? some odd combination of all of it?