Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Barefoot running-hit the pavement

Taking that first barefoot run?  Hit the pavement!   Maybe you've run on the grass but not a hard surface.  It's time to take it to the street. Well, the sidewalk is actually best.

Any runner who trains with me can expect to be on the pavement the first day. That's how my coach, Michael Sandler, taught me, and it is how I will teach every barefoot runner.

Two rules to follow:

  1. Shorten your steps a bit. Shorter steps are generally better for runners in training so that you avoid the bouncing that will come from making too big a stride.
  2. Keep your barefooting distance short.  If you're just getting started, save the barefoot portion of your run for the last 100 yards or so. If you've done a few barefoot stints, you can go a bit further.  If you've already been training in minimalist shoes such as Vibram Five Fingers or similar "toe shoes", free-movement sandals such as Xero Shoes for at least twelve weeks, you can extend your barefoot run at your discretion.
Your first barefoot run may seem easy because it is very natural feeling and very liberating. But the muscles of the ankles and feet are indeed made lazy by traditional running shoes, and you don't want to get fatigued from overuse of those tender muscles, as you'll be sidelined for six weeks, quite easily if you overdo it.

Enjoy your barefoot run. Start spring training now and get your feet, ankles, and legs well-conditioned for barefoot races in the fall!

Thanks for reading!

About the photo: I picked it just because I liked it, and since going barefoot on the pavement was my theme. The photo is by Kevin Neece, and he has an interesting blog on barefoot life.

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