This was a really, really great week. Maybe a even breakthrough week. I've been reading my book and trying to really practice those things in there that would help me develop good form. It takes me back to the part in Born to Run where says that most of us have it all wrong. We're all so concerned about speed. Caballo tells Christopher to think easy, light, smooth, and fast. First, start with easy. Because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on light, make it effortless, like you don't care how high the hill is or how far you have to go. When you've practiced that for so long that it doesn't feel like practicing anymore, you work on making it smooth. You won't have to worry about the last one, you get those three, and you'll be fast. Not coincidentally, the first thing to work on when attempting to run bare foot is relaxation. Forget about speed and just relax.
So the first cool thing that happened this week came when I was running bare foot and things were going well. It was still slightly dark outside and as I approached a couple of teenage girls getting ready to leave for school, I could tell that hadn't seen me. As they got closer to the curb and their car, I got closer to them until I was finally right next to them almost passing them. The girl let out a scream because I surprised her. I apologized for scaring her and moved along. But inside I was smiling because I was stepping so lightly that she didn't hear me coming. Cool.
The next thing happened the very next day. It was about 2 1/2 miles into another barefoot run. It was so cold that morning that I kept putting my socks on and off when my toes warmed up and got numb. I was running down Main Street and was checking out my form in the windows. To the observer it might look like I'm conceited and just checking myself out, but really I'm looking to see how my foot is landing, if my upper body is straight and in line and if my knees are bent. When I ran out of windows, I realized that suddenly everything felt great. I felt light and smooth and I felt like I was gliding across the ground. It only lasted for about a mile, but it was wonderful. I tried to memorize how everything felt, how my feet were touching the ground, how easy it felt. Maybe it was that elusive runner's high, but I really think it was because everything was just right. It was awesome!
I decreased my miles this week because the last few weeks have been high. And I planned on doing the Turkey Trot on Saturday. I really wanted to be able to do it barefoot, but the weather would have a lot to do with it. As it turned out, the weather decided it for me that morning by being rainy, cold, and windy. I just wasn't willing to do it. And I thought I'd probably be faster in shoes where I don't have to be so careful of rocks and little things on the road. All the while I was running I was wishing that I didn't have shoes on. I did wear my Newtons though and they are really lightweight. I also planned the lower miles so that I could cross the finish line and reach my goal of 1000 miles this year! The race was not very fun. I had a side ache almost the whole 4 miles. I was not relaxed and didn't feel really good about my performance. I finished in 36:37, just about the same as last year. I should have just done it in my socks and had fun and focused on my form. Dang pride.
Before the race: me, Heather, and Jodi
After the race with our hot chocolate! Those Newton shoes of mine are sure bright!
My form this year...
My form last year.
Now before you think that this bare foot thing comes without any pain, or that my week was perfect, it's not and it wasn't. My calves have taken 2 1/2 months to finally get mostly used to running differently. I say mostly because if I overdo it they still get sore. This week I wasn't being as vigilant as I should have been and stepped on a biggish rock right on my arch. It hurt, but truthfully it was so cold that until my foot warmed up it didn't hurt that bad. But once my foot was able to feel the full force of the pain it caused me to stop and walk for a bit. Good thing I was almost home.
This is the beautiful bruise I got from it. I had already planned to take the next day off and it doesn't hurt now, but baby, it's not pretty!
This week I also ran only 4 miles in my Asics trainers. I am looking forward to decreasing that even further!
Monday: 6 miles (2 barefoot-treadmill), full body weights
Tuesday: 4 miles in Newtons, cycling class
Wednesday: 4 miles barefoot outside 31 degrees
Thursday: 5 miles barefoot outside 35 degrees, full body weights
Saturday: 4 miles in Newtons