Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Barefoot beginnings

A few months ago I read Born to Run and loved it. I started doing research on barefoot running and thought if I could ever get two seconds to myself I would give it a try. Recently hubby came down with shingles (massive stress in our house after adopting our 5 year old daughter from Ethiopia) and we realized that we HAD to learn to de-stress ourselves.

On Monday, Feb 15th I started the Couch to 5K program along with my step-daughter Nichole back in NC. The first week consists of 30 minutes: 5 min warm up walk, 20 min of alternating 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking and then a 5 min cool down walk. Through all this I'm concentrating on a mid-foot strike instead of a heel strike. I'm wearing very old sneakers with nearly all the tread worn off because I live in Colorado and it's too cold to try running barefoot in the winter.

Unlike any other time I've taken up an exercise program, this time I'm listening to my body--which is 40 years old and deserves to be listened to! It took me Tue (I felt pretty good), Wed (achy), Thurs (I needed Advil for my lower back) and Friday during the day to recover from that first run! Or wog (walk/jog) as Nichole likes to call it. Friday night I went again and felt pretty good. Several days later, when the muscle pain went away, I went again and nearly doubled my distance! I felt like a million bucks! :-)

The mid-foot strike is, of course, different than anything I've ever tried and I find that the only pain I have after a run is muscle pain. Excellent. I haven't (knock on wood) hurt myself. I find that amazing. I roll out my IT Bands almost every day and gently stretch before and after runs and occasionally on the days between runs.

So after my third run I catch a cold. I think back on all the times I've started something like this and how I ALWAYS catch a cold soon after starting. Instead of powering through I give myself a break. This is a shocking thing in my life--I don't give myself a break! I end up with a week and a half break between the cold and a short vacation back to NC to visit family.

On Friday March 5th I go running again but instead of moving to week 2 which is 90 seconds of running and 2 minutes of walking I stay with the week 1 workout. My breath was fine my muscles were so sore!

On Saturday Brad, the kids, and I are wandering around REI in Boulder and I walk by a display of Vibram Five Fingers.

I talk to the guy trying them on and the guy selling them. I try some on. I run up and down the aisles. Wow. Nifty. As the sales guys says, "You don't have to think about running right, you just do." He's right. I'm not concentrating on running midfoot. In fact, I'm running on the balls of my feet automatically! I order the VFF KSOs for women online through the store because they didn't have my size in store. They should be here next week. In talking with the sales guy he tells me about how some people are running in pool shoes. I had forgotten about that--I'm on several minimalist running lists and several people mentioned that. So I went off to Target and bought some pool shoes. Last night was the first time out in them. It was interesting. I wore socks for both comfort and warmth and had a similar experience as the VFFs except my toes were more constrained in the pool shoes. I like the way they were able to spread out in the VFFs. I think they are a good option while I wait for my VFFs. Luckily I read a lot about how to start barefoot running so last night's run was only 15 minutes long. I walked/jogged (again in week 1 mode) until I felt pain and then went home. Interestingly the pain was only when I walked. I find it easier to run with a forefoot strike than to walk that way. Are we supposed to walk that way too? Not sure. I tried midfoot strike too, that was slightly easier but still weird and stressed my hips and knees a bit. Will be researching the whole walking thing today. Either way the run was fun! I enjoyed the feel of 'bare' feet a lot.

I've always spent all my time in the house barefoot and a lot of time outside in the summer barefoot so my feet don't have to start completely from scratch.

What this all comes down to is: I feel like a kid again when I run and that's pretty cool.

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