Monthly Archives: October 2011

Check before you enter

Janice Nichols writes over on the Barefoot Runners Society blog about being DQ’d for competing in a triathlon barefoot. I’ll let you read her post (and take a look around the site – some great stuff there!) but will give you my thoughts here.

Thought #1  – Irrational, that sucks, stupid, unfair, how could they, what?, haters, outrage! etc, etc.

Thought #2  – How very unfortunate for Janice and I feel genuinely bad for her.

It’s certainly too bad that the rules were written in such a way that she ended up with the DQ. It goes to show that barefoot running has a ways to go to become a more mainstream and acceptable method of running. It shows an overly narrow view of what makes a runner in the eyes of a select few. Fortuantely over time, that is beginning to change and barefoot running will continue to make inroads and become more accepted in traditional running formats.

Thought #3  – After reading about Janice’s experience, I will make it a point to check with the race organizer’s before hand if barefoot / minimalist shoes are allowed.

I think this serves two purposes. The first being that it gives me confirmation prior to shelling out the bucks for a race. My budget is pretty tight and running in organized (timed, etc) races is a luxury spend for me so it makes sense to make sure I will be able to compete prior to entering. Secondly, this gives me the opportunity to make sure the race organizers are aware that there is some barefoot interest out there. Race’s need participants to be successful and if a race director is not aware that they are denying a certain type of athlete this is a great opportunity to educate them and help them make the event available to a broader spectrum of people.

In the end, we should all take a lesson from Janice and if you are signing up for a competitive event that you haven’t been in before, make certain that they will welcome all runners.

I am doing SCIENCE!

Stand back and put on your safety goggles, I will be doing Science this year!

Okay, so not really me, it sounds like I am more of the lab rat (what are we going to do tonight Brain?). The University of Delaware (go Blue Hens) has a running injury lab (who knew) and is currently conducting a study in regards to injuries of barefoot runners. This study will collect data from barefoot runners over the course of the next year and then compile the results. Interested parties can contact the survey coordinator at runningsurvey@gmail.com to find out how to qualify for the study.

My contribution will be to maintain a minimum mileage each month and report on any injuries, etc via a survey. I’ll keep you posted on my part in the science experiment ( same thing we do every night Pinky, take over the world!) and let you know the results of the study if and when they’re made available.

 

 

 

Dodging raindrops

Here in the great Pacific Northwest it’s the start of the rainy season. For the next 12 months, there will be a steady drizzle from the skies, then it will start all over again Actually, we have killer weather here, a little bit of everything and if you give it ten minutes, you’ll get something different. and while it sometimes feels like it rains all year long, truthfully, we get to enjoy all four seasons. Fall is terrific running weather of course, the red and gold leaves begin to fall and the local trails and streets can become a carpet of color. The cooler temperatures are perfect for longer runs, while the crisp air helps to invigorate the lungs and the slight chill before getting warmed up is enough to get the heart pumping.

I have learned a lot about barefoot running in the rain recently and thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned.

The first thing I’ve learned is that its damn fun! Running in the rain is wet, slightly cold, a little chilly to the muscles and your feet are cold – but its fun! It’s fun in a “I remember when I was a kid” type of way. Gliding over wet pavement and concrete, through muddy trails  and dripping evergreens is an awesome feeling when you can feel every bit of the way with your toes.

I’ve found that the paint striping on streets and curbs can be slippery. Fallen leaves and wet clay can be like a greased pig – so be careful! Pavement can have as much temperature variation cold as it does when it’s hot outside. I have also learned that the ground feel while going barefoot allows you to really respond quickly and safely when you begin to slip. There is an immediate feedback mechanism when your toes and feet begin to slide and your body will strive to automatically compensate and search for better footing and balance. Because of the light step and low impact that I am making as a barefoot runner, when I begin to slide, the effort to recover is so minimal that I barely notice the interruption.

I have rediscovered that puddles are cool.  It’s childishly fun to go streaking through the puddles. A note of caution though because a puddle is similar to a field of grass in one respect: you can’t see the ground underneath them. With grass you can’t see whats lying underneath – rocks, holes, dog poo, etc.  With puddles, there’s great fun in going through them, but recognize that there is probably some debris in the bottom of those puddles that you will need to be sensitive to. I happily splash through smaller puddles but I work to avoid large puddles unless I’m very familiar with the route.

You’re going to get wet. Wetter even than in shoes. You’re bare feet will splash water and dirt up higher on your ankles, calves, legs, etc. But really, if you’ve come this far in barefoot running, who cares about a little dirt and water. Sure you’ll get dirty but you are also going to get dry faster. No wet shoes and socks to deal with. When I get home, it’s a simple matter to wash off and dry my feet and then I’m good for the next time. I don’t have my wet and muddy shoes that need to be dealt with or smelly wet socks piling up. A definite plus and one of the great side benefits of barefoot running – you don’t need anything to go run, just go!

The mantra of “if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” can be a great partner in the rain. In a rainstorm, there’s a lot of distraction with the main ones being wet and cold. It’s hard to focus on the fundamental form and stride when your focused on being miserable. In the rain, it’s even more important to focus inward and concentrate on how you move through the run. By shifting the focus away from the discomfort and onto the fundamentals and moving through the environment, you can then work on absorbing the environment around you more. As an example by taking my focus away from what I could not control ( the rain) I have been able to run a PR,  speed around a rabbit  trying to avoid the rain, I’ve raced a small family of deer ( they won but I gave good chase for a hundred yards!), and I have waved at a bunch of friendly car honks.  Truthfully, I’ve not been able to dodge all the raindrops, but I’ve managed to outrun a few!

 

Cascadia Path - a barefoot journal

The best (and the worst) of running free.