Saturday, February 25, 2012


Once again, readers, it is time to hit the restart button on something, blow it up and go back to the beginning.
No surprise to most of you, I'm rebooting my approach to running. To recap: Last year I started running again after a long layoff; I decided to do it barefoot because I read it would help reduce my injury rate and risk. It didn't; by year's end I was pretty seriously injured and had to take a two month break from running.

So, now I'm starting over. With regard to shoes/barefoot/minimal weird footwear options i seem to have come full circle.  I have come to the conclusion that shoes, or lack thereof, do not dictate a risk of injury. Human stupidity and stubbornness DO greatly contribute to an increased risk of injury. I'll explain. I was pretty sure that barefoot running wasn't ideal for me sometime in October (before I got hurt) but I stuck with it because I had bought completely into the idea that it was "better for me." I did all the drills, exercises and visualizations to "get it;" I took it slow, like everyone said to. I never improved as a runner. Sure, I could suffer through a 5k but I couldn't walk normally after, regardless of the pace and care I took during the run. But, I kept pushing on because "barefoot is better; I just need to adapt to it (could insert a long rant here, but will save for later date)..." Stubbornness got me hurt. Had I been more flexible about shoes I would not have gotten hurt as I did. FACT. Several times I thought I should throw on shoes for a given run, but didn't, making it worse. 

My foot has improved mightily since I a.) took a break and rested and b.) gave myself permission to try out running shoes for a while. On the runs I've been doing in my comeback, my feet aren't the weak link; my lost fitness is. I hadn't built a ton of a base miles last year due to the slow build philosophy of barefoot running so I wasn't "cardio fit" yet. It didn't take much time off to lose that fitness. So I huff and puff through a mile and a half, while my legs and feet are all "wait?! that's it? let's go longer!" sure; I have aches and pains after a run, but guess what? they're no more debilitating than the stuff I had after my early barefoot runs. I am fully convinced that if I take a slow build approach this time around I will be able to run and stay healthy, longer.

After all, it's the carpenter, not the hammer that builds the house. Knowing how to manage the tools and materials I have is the key to success at this endeavor. No; I don't think barefoot running is bad and I do still think it's a great approach for a lot of people. I took a lot of good from my experience that will help me be a better runner for sure. it just isn't for me. And, this is all about me, right?

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