Monday, March 8, 2010

Not Quite Barefoot

My group run on Sunday was brutal, but it shouldn't have been.

We started by walking up a not so short hill and then proceeded to run 9 intervals of 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking. This should not have been so hard. In fact, it normally wouldn't have been. But we had special guests. The UBC race-walk team. We had them come with us last year, and it had the same effect.

It seems being in the presence of people who walk 20km in less than 90 minutes makes some people run faster. Did I mention these are world class athletes? Ya, as in half of the top 5 fastest men and women in Canada. People who hold current national and continental records for race walking... But I digress.

What made this run so brutal was actually the pace at which we walked up that first hill. I'm prone to shin splints. I had a problem with them during last year's training, but my switch to VFF/barefoot running after the Sun Run made them a thing of the past. But walking with any speed over any distance has always triggered them for me (and probably always will). And it did, with a vengeance.

So I started my first run interval up hill, with shin splints, and at a pace that wasn't maintainable. The result? I was limping by the 5th interval and ended up walking through the 6th running interval. During this time I went from the front of the group of 70+ runners to the back. My cardio was not the problem, it was the pain, which lead to total mental failure. I knew it was a mental limitation, and that's the only reason I was able to force myself to run the last 3 intervals.

Our route was shorter than the intervals so we ended up running our last interval on the track and then cooling down by walking around the track. It was at this point I decided my Treks were too warm and took them off. I felt almost immediate relief! I was truly shocked. I didn't even know my feet were being constrained by my FiveFingers and had actually tightened up. My feet immediately spread out over the cold track and released all their tension. It felt so good, in fact, that I actually ran a short bit even though I was supposed to be doing a cool down walk.

I already knew from experience that VFFs were not the same as going barefoot, but I'm going to have to seriously reconsider where on the curve they actually are. I think I'll start by incorporating some barefoot warm up at the start of or before my run.


Dave said...

Hey Ryan, just found your blog tonight and funny, I had a very similar experience wearing KSO's. My feet were a bit "worn" and the sidewalks around my neighborhood are a bit rough (only been barefooting for a month or so) so I broke down and ran a 3.2 mile route that I had completed 2 days prior barefoot... My shins were killing me in the morning. The exact same route, first barefoot and no pain, 2 days later, in KSO's and shins hurt for 3 days. The bottom of my feet felt better though. :) I'm still a beginning BF'er but it's times like these that make me think there is something to this.

Ryan Graham said...

I'd say that's a pretty strong argument for splitting your runs and doing them half barefoot and half shod. Barefoot first, of course. I'm thinking of switching back to my KSOs from my Treks. I think the Trek may be too much shoe for me while I'm still focussing on my form.