Our Barefoot Beginner facebook group now has around 300 members. It is a great place to keep up to date with all things barefoot/minimalist related. The chat is warm and friendly. You will be made very welcome. Join here.
We also have a facebook page for you to like (I usually post things here first) and you can follow us in twitter.
Since beginning to barefoot run, I have not really worried about speed and running quickly. My reasons for barefoot running were all to do with injury prevention and to be honest, I have just been grateful to run consistently and without fear.
Over the past year, I have completely changed my running form from a bouncy, loping style to a pitter-patter that I sometimes feel I could maintain for hours.
My bouncy, loping style was fast though. I was never going to win any races but my pbs were 38 mins for a 10k and 1hr 28 mins for a half marathon. I would usually be somewhere in the top quarter of races and enjoyed running against my club mates in our own competitive championship.
I discovered interval training and ran half mile repeats on a section of road near home. I loved the feeling of being on the edge of what I could manage and to be powering along.
All that vanished in a long, sorry tale of calf injuries and I was finally at the point of hanging up my running shoes for good. (That wasn’t meant to be literal)
The new challenge has simply been to run without hurting myself. It has taken patience and although I am not there yet, I am feeling a little more like my old speedy self.
Alot of the barefoot running advice I respect, talks about a 3 stage process.
You cannot put one in front of the other as you relearn how to run.
Form is everything to begin with. I started out convinced that I could study books and videos and change my form whilst running in shoes. A metronome helped but I still picked up injuries. At this stage, I was still in footwear and looking back, it may have been that I was just running too fast. Becoming a true barefooter has slowed me down and my form has improved as my soles feel what is underneath them. I ran a couple of days ago, half barefoot and half in RunAmoks. My barefoot miles were between 11 and 13 minute mile pace and my shod miles were just under 9 minute mile pace. I only found this out when I looked at my log when got home.
Distance – I also ran too far when I started out. I have spent the last year slowly building up my barefoot distance to the point where I have just completed a barefoot half marathon. Taking my shoes off has made me limit my distance. I try not to run any further in shoes than I can manage barefoot and it has served me well.
Speed – I have always read that if you look after the form and the distance, the speed will come. Well, I can say that it has started to arrive. I first became aware of it when running up hills near home. I found myself unconsciously increasing my cadence and flying along. My head stayed remarkably level and there was no hint of a bounce in my stride. I did a 2 mile relay race with friends and enjoyed seeing how quickly I could run. I was amazed when it was my lack of fitness that limited my speed rather than my feet. My heart and lungs couldn’t keep up. I took that as a good sign.
I am running barefoot everyday and to mix things up, I have started to include that half mile repetition route into my runs. I only do it if I am in the mood but I am finding that I look forward to it. My legs and feet have a couple of niggles in response but nothing that I am concerned about. It just feels like they are waking up and ready for this next step.
I do worry about standing on a stone at speed but I have found that I am more vigilant than ever and I am convinced that because running at speed is so unforgiving, my form is better. It has to be. My cadence goes way above 180 bpm when I am at speed but I don’t worry about that.
I feel like I need a 5k to have a really good go at. I will look for a night race over the summer.
I love barefoot running. Without it, I would have become just another broken runner.