I never liked to categorize myself as a runner until I saw this from runner and author John Bingham:
“If you run you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There’s no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run”. – John Bingham
That description definitely fits to me and many others and now I can even call myself a “barefoot runner”, with no more meaning then the fact that I run and that I sometimes do it barefoot.
About two months ago, after years of minimalistic running (fivefinger shoes) and months of barefoot running I decided to run my first barefoot Marathon and on July 15th 2012 I successfully finished Pattaya Marathon (in 5 hours, 15 min…)
The preparation to successfully complete a Marathon can’t be taken light hearted and yet alone running a marathon without shoes. When I started to run barefoot about 8 months ago I first struggled with blisters on the soles of my feet by friction created from striking the ground. First months I didn’t run more than 3K/run barefoot and used fivefingers to cross-train and integrate barefoot in to my runs to practice technique and conditioning.
My switch from running shoes to fivefingers came after studying running techniques (Pose running, Chi running, etc) and the theories that minimalistic running is safer on your body. I started using fivefingers just before my first Marathon (Stockholm Marathon 2011) but was far from conditioned to even attempt that race with anything else than a traditional running shoe.
As the distance of my fivefinger runs increased I became more and more tempted to run barefoot and started a training plan about 8 months ago to gradually increase the distance and volume of my barefoot runs. After about 3 months of a weekly barefoot run I reached a point where blisters weren’t a problem anymore. Thanks to my history of everyday wear and use of fivefingers the conditioning of my feet and lower limbs were pretty much already taken care of to handle the transition to barefoot well.
The most important factor to be aware of when running minimalistic or barefoot is to allow your muscles, ligaments and joints to condition to a new form of stress. Overuse injuries is a relatively common problem experienced when making changes to running technique so a plan is needed and preferably a running coach too for feedback.
With a solid training background, experience and understanding of biomechanics when running I felt confident I could complete a full 42.2K (Marathon) barefoot. At the same time it was enough of a challenge for me to get me excited about running long distance again.
In the next post I will write more about the Pattaya Marathon itself and some tips and advice to think about when running long distance barefoot.
Would you like to learn more about how to prepare for a barefoot run? Visit Aspire or call 08-76 72 74 52 for more information on how you can integrate barefoot running in to your training.