Sofa Thoughts – Barefoot’s Back

From Patient.co.uk

Hey there. Well a lot’s happened in the last few months. I left my old job and now I’m self-employed. I moved and I ran the Virgin London Marathon.

Well, I ran 23.2 miles and was forced to walk the last three after a hip flexor became too painful to run with. But I sort of ran most of it…in Nike Free v3.0s.

Those of you who read my early preparations for the race will know that I intended to run barefoot or in minimalist footwear if possible, but I suffered from heel pain when wearing my Vivobarefoot Evos. My feet plainly weren’t ready for the distances I was running, and I couldn’t risk injury.

So I ran the VLM in my Nikes. I’d trained in them for the two months prior, but I’m not sure even that was enough. In the last three miles of the race, when I began walking, my right foot ached and throbbed incredibly. It was only afterwards that members of my Running Crew expressed their surprise I ran the Marathon in my Frees. Apparently most had opted for Lunars, or other makes’ more supportive shoes.

Now it’s nearly a month gone, and I haven’t returned to running. My right heel is sore and aches, and a recent stag do involving paintballing made it very uncomfortable. So yesterday I saw my doctor and he had this to say.

“I think you have plantar fasciitis. Rest and take anti-inflammatories. Do not run until the pain goes, and if it does not go we will give you a steroid injection.”

My immediate thought was “no you won’t”. I’m in my late 20s, I’ve run one marathon. I’ve got two halves booked in for later in the year, and I’m not starting my relatively short adult running career with a marathon followed by a steroid injection.

I headed to Twitter.

One member of my Running Crew runs in Vibram Five Fingers. He tells me he’s also suffered PF. He tells me barefoot helped him, and it can help me.

Yeah, you can see where this thought is going.

I’m back, I’m injured, and I’m intrigued. I can’t run just yet, but I can talk and research and prepare to tackle barefoot again. So…let’s see what happens.

A Turn of Tide?

So yesterday I posted about how I had to ease back into my padded Nike Free Runs to prevent further heel pain. I think that was sensible. Going for a three mile run last night, I had the extra-assurance that the thick but flexible soles provided. And yet, almost as a counterbalance, because I could feel myself falling back into the old running pattern of mid-foot flopping, I lifted my head, straightened my posture, shortened my strides and lifted my heels.

It helped that near the start of my run is a slow incline leading up to Blackheath village, which itself has an incline onto the heath proper. It allowed me to almost stalk up the hills on the front foot, while trying to consciously keep my posture correct, and my strides short and quick.

And it both sounded and felt different. Again, I know I was wearing more padded runners, but the crunches I heard form my footfall shifting icy grass, and the light beats of my feet on the tarmac were more concise and purposeful than the usual slap of slabs striking the ground. In terms of feel, I was getting more propulsion. Consciously trying to do this is one thing, but for brief periods I settled into a somewhat unfamiliar, and yet comfortable, running style.

It felt positive, it felt easier, and – dare I say it – it felt lighter. Now I guess getting the right running gait in thick-soled shoes isn’t exactly where I want to be. But it’s a step further along than where I don’t. Naturally, I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but I’m stoked to actually have an idea of what a positive forefoot running gait feels like. And hopefully I’ll be back in the Evos pretty soon – hopefully without the heel issues!

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