Monday, April 12, 2010

I did my first barefoot run!

Kathleen from Trifruit has influenced me to finally go for my dream of becoming a runner.

When I was a child, my dad and mom had a lot of fear that us kids would get injured, and so we were discouraged from doing normal kid activities like running, climbing, spinning in circles, going barefoot. Also, there were a lot of us (11) and the house would get overwhelming if we were all acting playfully. And they didn't want us to play outside unsupervised or go out into the neighborhood to play. All this added together, and I basically was a slightly overweight, definitely out-of-shape child who spent most of my time reading, doing housework, watching t.v. and daydreaming.

I used to dread the Presidential Fitness Test at school where we were required to do the mile run. I never ran it. I would jog for a little while and then walk the rest. In high school, my fitness improved a bit because I was in marching band and on the swim team (though I was pretty much the slowest person on a very slow team).

In college, I used to dream about getting fit. But for the most part, I would buy fitness magazines and read them in bed before I rolled over and took a nap. I really enjoyed walking around the city, though, and occasionally would get on a stairclimber or do a couple of sets on some weight machines.

My overall beliefs about my body were that I was flat-footed, uncoordinated, genetically ectomorphic, and basically unsuited to being an athlete, though I believed it was important to get some exercise for my health.

After I found 80-10-10, my belief in my own potential expanded quite a bit. I think watching a few seasons of Biggest Loser also changed my beliefs a bit as well. Heck, if people weighing 300-400 pounds can start running, what's my excuse?!? I began to harbor a secret desire to become a real runner. One who could run a mile continuously, or a 5K, or a marathon... Hey, if Oprah can do it, why not me?

But my initial attempts at running felt a bit awkward and difficult. I was feeling at my peak physically, having done several months of 80-10-10 and gotten to a very comfortable weight of 110 pounds. So why did running not feel good? My mother had admonished me that running was terrible for your joints and that I was sure to get injured because all runners do. I reflected that I did know tons and tons of runners who had all suffered injuries. I didn't want to believe her, but I put running on the backburner as something to try later when I had sorted things out for myself.

When I got introduced to the concept of barefoot running recently, suddenly things started to fall into place mentally for me. I no longer felt worried about whether I would get injured. I realized that the human body is meant to run, and if one runs in the way humans are designed to run, then it will be no problem. I planned that as soon as the weather was warm enough, I would start. I found this awesome article that gave me some invaluable tips on proper form.

And even though, I'm 40 pounds overweight, running felt a million times better than the first time I tried it. Unbelievable! Now, the only problem. After a mixture of walking and running on pavement and grass and over the inevitable sticks and small stones, the skin on my feet is a little sore. Perhaps I should take it a little slower and toughen up my feet a bit first. But my joints and muscles feel fine.


trifruit said...

You are a runner! We are all born to run. Yeah for you!

Going barefoot puts a new perspective on running. Glad you enjoyed your first run.

What I did in the beginning was go up to my gravel driveway and walk up and down. This helps toughen your soles. The key is to relax. If you tense your feet it will hurt more. When you relax your feet, your feet handle rocks better.
This will help desensitize your soles.

Anonymous said...

Wow ~ that's terrific! I'm looking forward to hearing more about your barefoot running experiences!

Also, my activities were very similar to yours in grade school. :)

laurie said...

Good for you, Marjorie! I got some minimalist shoes (racing flats) after talking with Kathleen. I'm not quite ready for totally barefoot! (Mainly due to temps, and yes, sticks and stones!) Keep us posted!

Greenmama said...

I really appreciate all the encouragement. Also, thanks for the advice on toughening my feet, Kathleen. I am working on it and I will try to remember to breathe and relax.

Hey, Kim. I was thinkin' maybe we should enjoy the childhood we never had now! :) (I'm not giving up reading or daydreaming, of course, I just wanna add a lot of playing!)


Azura Skye said...

Way to go! I do lots of barefoot walks and running is so much fun barefoot. It's like you have to use your mind much more, to see where your going, and quick! It's like a game, and your mind is engaged so running isn't so boring. Saying that - I haven't been on a long barefoot run.