Admittedly I’m early in the running barefoot game, but I’ve got to say that running in my water shoes is a pleasure.
After the initial shock to the system of using foot and lower leg muscles that have been dormant for quite some time, my body seems to be adapting nicely to the change; no shin splints, no knee pain, no hip pain. I’m enjoying it so much that I’ve decided to take running a wee bit more seriously and train for a 5K.
I know that a 5K is just a trot to the bathroom for experienced runners, but for beginners like me, making a statement about running a 5K is a big thing. To top it off, I’m going to do it barefoot (well, not really barefoot, but in my water shoes).
Why the Decision to Run a 5K
There are two reasons why I decided to do run a 5K.
1. My knees don’t hurt when I run
2. To promote barefoot running
A Small Digression
The other day I was talking to an experienced runner about running style and speed. He mentioned that after a recent race, a runner who finished quite a distance in front of him offered a bit of advice. His advice was “get off of your heels.” Well, he didn’t really say get off of your heels. What he did say is you spend too much time on your heels when you run and it slows you down.
That story, in my opinion, gave credence to barefoot running. When running barefoot or in minimal support, the body naturally switches up from the heel toe running stride to a forefoot toe running stride. The heel is bypassed. The body does this instinctively. After all, it only takes a couple of yards of slamming your unsupported heel into the pavement before you realize the forefoot is a much softer more cushioned landing.
The soft landing on the forefoot takes the heel out of the equation and speeds up the run.
End of Digression
Because I’m no spring chicken, I’m taking this 5K training thing slowly (not to give away my age, but I remember when you could get on the subway without a MetroCard and the token was 20 cents). My mature bones, muscles and tendons don’t like shocks, so I’m adding mileage slowly.
At the rate that I’m going, I should be ready for my barefoot 5K by the end of July or beginning of August. Just to play it safe, I’ll wait until September when the weather is cooler. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep running in my water shoes and walking in my running shoes (the extra heel cushion in the running sneakers come in hand with the heel-toe action of walking).