running training plan

The barefoot running experiment


Why a section on here about running barefoot?

Like many people, we have read Christopher McDougall’s excellent book, Born to Run.

Aside from the fascinating story, the information and ideas contained in the book were a revelation. Reading the book coincided with the participation in a 10k road race recently. Lining up at the start I was amazed to see a runner without any shoes; how was this ordinary looking guy going to manage this run on the road with no shoes?
The route of the 10k contained a turn-around point so that runners ran right past those who were ahead, and subsequently those who were behind them. I saw this guy ahead of me and he was running pretty well, ahead of me anyway. For some reason, seeing someone run well on the road without shoes was very interesting to me.

I’ve been running since 1992, and was born in '62. I’d rate my standard of running as a somewhat typical club runner: 37.45 best 10k some years ago, and a marathon in a shade over 3hrs (now targeting under 3.15), 1.25 for a half at my best.

Over the years I’ve experienced my fair share of running injuries. In the early days it was runner's knee. The physio I consulted — and subsequently then a podiatrist — diagnosed a less than perfect gait. He showed me, by drawing lines on my legs, how the lower half of my legs were rotating inwards on impact, and causing the knee-cap to move out of it’s normal tracking range, hence, causing the problem. He prescribed, and made me, some orthitics that raised my arches and lessened the rolling inwards (or pronation) of my feet as they hit the ground. This all made sense and it did indeed work.

That was more than 15 years ago, and since, I have modified and experimented with orthotics and successfully kept my runner's knee under control.

However, for a long time I have felt that using orthotics to prop up the inside of the foot is not an ideal fix. Using the orthotics also brought other problems: if I spent much time without shoes (as I do in the summer months), my ankles didn't like readjusting to their more natural position.

Born to Run made me think that maybe a better alternative would be to strengthen my feet so they didn't actually need a 'prop' to stop them collapsing. Running barefoot seemed like a very natural and efficient way to build the strength back into my feet; hence the barefoot running experiment.

Read all about it in the barefoot running diaries.

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