Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Longest Mile

The other night, I ran a mile. I know that a mile isn't a long distance, and I didn't run this mile particularly fast. But, this mile was still an accomplishment for me. An accomplishment that took me all summer to reach.

This mile was an accomplishment because I ran without shoes, completely barefoot.

I ran one mile on pavement with nothing between my feet and the ground!

At the beginning of the summer, I decided that I wanted to try to give barefoot running a try. I had been previously running in "minimalist" shoes, but wasn't keeping up with it regularly. So I figured it would be the perfect time to start trying to run barefoot. If you didn't know, when you start running barefoot, you basically have to start from scratch. You need to take it VERY, VERY SLOWLY. You need to give your feet time to build muscles that have atrophied from years of being trapt in shoes. You have to give the bottoms of your feet time to toughen up. You have to learn to constantly scan the ground in front of you for small stones and pebbles. You have to change the way your foot lands. You have to be constantly on the watch for the first sign of blisters. OH, did I get a lot of blisters. Basically, you need to completely re-learn how to run. When you first start, you can only go about a 10th of a mile at a time, and slowly add distance as you figure out the correct form.

That is why it took me an entire summer to build up to a mile. It was very frustrating at times. Sometimes I would think I had my form down, and then the next run I would get a huge blister. But I accomplished my goal. I ran 1 mile completely barefoot.

So what am I going to do next? I'm actually going to switch back and start running again in my Merrell Trail Gloves again. Although I enjoyed the idea of running completely barefoot, I was never able to get the form quite right. Instead of being able to enjoy the run, I had to be constantly thinking about my form. Generally, I just find running in my Merrells more enjoyable.

I know that running barefoot is defnitely not right for everyone. In the end, it proved to not be right for me. But that being said, I would highly suggest giving it a try. There is an exhilartion that comes from running and having nothing between you and the ground.

So go out and give it a try. Just be sure to take it slow at first.

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