1st Barefoot Long Run, Feelin Groovy

Of the year, of course.

Since I’ll be running the Blue Ridge Marathon April 24th, I figured maybe I should start thinking about adding some long runs into the routine. Obviously the mega mileage Lydiard-style training is out the window,  what with only two months left, so my plan is now to run one long run (at least 15 miles) a week. Anything else, whatever I feel like.

So today I stayed in town and ran around the local hills, lapping by the house for beverages and layer removal. I ran the first lap with Princess Sun Chip, the new dog. It was chilly, so I wore socks (cotton). They worked great, and my feet were warm enough to take the socks off after dropping off the carpet fragrance enhancer (that would be Sunny). I did a lap that included a freshly rocked path, which required me to hike. The wife kept me company for the last couple miles to the tracks and back. 16.7 miles, and the feet feel great.

But who cares about how they feel. How do they look?

16.7 mi (13.2 barefoot, 3.5 socks)

I covered the not-healed-yet spot on the big toe with a couple of bandaids

And how, pray tell, do I clean these feet? Why, with Charlie’s Soap, of course. If your local retailer doesn’t carry it, handcuff yourself to the counter until they do. Here are the results:

bandaid worked.

Clean!

No speedwork, just peak foot maintenance pace. I took Simon and Garfunkel’s advice (my go-to guys for all running issues):

Slow down, you go too fast
You’ve got to make the moment last
Just
Kicking around, the cobblestones.
Doo da doo doo, feelin groovy

No, I didn’t need to include the lyrics. I just wanted to make sure the song goes through your head for the rest of the day.

Oh, and if there are any podiatrists out there, let me know if you see anything wrong with my feet.

I’m not drunk, I just write like it

So you’re at a race, but for whatever reason you don’t feel like going fast. Maybe you under/over-trained. Maybe it’s in the middle of training for a “bigger” race. Or you have no chance of winning and man oxygen deficit is uncomfortable. Do you need to be at 100% physically and mentally to run a race?

Runner and Fashion Model Miss Zippy asks a tapering question for an upcoming half marathon trail race, which steered me to this train of thought. How can you make the most out of non-racey race days? Here’s a few suggestions I wrote in the comments:

1. smoothness. Especially if you are thinking about trying all this barefoot craziness. Focus on running the trails without a single trip, stomp, scuff, or thud. At a slower pace (and with less exhaustion) it’s easier to work on HOW your body moves.

2. internal clock. You’d need a GPS thingy for this, but pick a doable, medium effort pace and stick to it. This helps effort management, which gives you a more accurate gas gauge. (gas gauge? not sure what I meant by this -js)

3. Tempo. Forget time, just try to maintain the same effort level. That means slow uphills, fast downhills. Don’t wear a watch. Focus on how you feel.

4. Start in the back, don’t let anyone pass you. This is a fun way to race without worrying about the time. You have to race smart, especially if you didn’t taper. This is strategy practice.

5. Help the slower runners. Change your regular objective of being as fast as YOU can be, to helping someone else be as fast as HE/SHE can be.

———–

Ok we’re back.

The more I think about it, my second suggestion seems weak. #4 could be a lot of fun, just plodding along, waiting for someone behind you to get cheeky, so to speak, and try to pass, then zoom! Ha ha ha. Near the end, if you have a lot of energy left, you could pick it up and fly by other runners, ruthlessly breaking their will with your effortless sprint. Or if you want to be nice you could do #5, which of course requires a slower runner wanting your help. Then your time totally doesn’t matter; in fact, the slower the race, the more selfless and saintly you seem. And when people trust you and think you’re a nice person, you can enter politics and cash that goodwill in for cold, hard, POWER. Then you shall rule all the lands with an iron fist.

You know what, let’s take out the current #2, and replace it with running the race like a day trip. When I used to ride a bike everywhere, I would enter the big group rides. It didn’t occur to me to race; I just enjoyed riding around. Maybe at your next non-racey race you should try just running around. From that you can determine what your “just running around” pace is. Which I’m sure is like, really important and stuff.

Enough rambling. I’ll leave you with this thought: the difference between a running shoe and a minimalist shoe is not as great as the difference between a minimalist shoe and bare feet. Nothing to do with the above, I know, but I feel it’s time to wrap it up.

Pictures of Mutilated VFF Classics

I gnawed at the heel with my teeth.

That means no string. It just clings to my heel. Note the traction:

I think those are gills so my feet can breath underwater

These are my trail running shoes. I’ll wear the aqua socks sometimes too, but I actually prefer these. Well, I prefer barefoot, but only short distances on trails so far. I’ve worn these on the singletracks of Owls Roost in Greensboro, and Papago Park in Phoenix. From wet leafy mud to dry crumbly desert. If I can do it, given my general gracelessness and lack of athleticism, you can understand why I’m skeptical of knobby soles.

UPDATE: The shoes need to be cleaned. Sounds like a job for Charlie’s Soap!