Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sorry, Runner's Soul

A week and a-half ago I came across an article about the benefits of running barefoot as compared to wearing running shoes. I thought, "Hmm, why not?" I'm an excellent test case. I have practically no arches to speak of. I'm over 50 and just a few pounds overweight. Most of all I'm willing to give it a try. Besides, I prefer being barefoot.

Now my callouses aren't that thick so I've been building them up by gradually increasing the distance I can tolerate running barefoot. I carry my shoes and when the soles of my feet start to sting I put my shoes back on. I'm sure it looks odd to see some old man running barefoot carrying a shoe in each hand. Hey, you know you can put those on your feet. Today I ran 4 miles during lunch and 1.4 of that was barefoot. On asphalt. And it felt great. Well, except for my still-not-thick-enough soles but that will come with time.

One observation I have is that my running form changes when I'm unshod. At first I was slamming my heels down on the pavement just like I do when I'm wearing shoes. That hurt since I didn't have a shoe's cushioned heel absorbing the impact. My form changed (Naturally? Maybe, it wasn't a conscious process.) to a more comfortable one that I can't really describe just yet but after doing some online research--I had no idea there was so much about barefoot running--I think this is a pretty close description. I notice I have more spring pushing off and I land lighter. Plus, I'm maintaining my 9-minute mile pace. (Yeah, I know. I'm settin' land speed records here.)

So I think this is worth pursuing. When I told Kathy what I was doing, she remarked, "You sure are a quirky guy."

I hope she meant that in a good way.

4 comments:

Spokane Al said...

Hank, good luck with that barefoot running. You are a tougher man than me.

If you have not already checked this site out, you want to take a look - http://barefootted.com . Barefoot Ted takes barefoot running to a new level.

Hank said...

Thank you for the site. This'll be fun.

Geoff said...

You might just want to try barefoot strides on grass. The faster speed forces you to improve your form, and you can tell if you're heel-striking by looking at the grass stains on your feet. Eventually you'll stop heel-striking, even when wearing shoes. If you want to go barefoot everywhere, you could get these: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/

Jacque Hendrix said...

You are a quirky guy. But we love ya anyway.