I’m back in Saudi Arabia again, and haven’t even had time to hit the treadmills so I’m missing my running.
The first time I was here this year I was desperately trying to keep up my fitness as I neared the end of my training for a 30-mile cross-country hill run. It was a major challenge and the goal at the end of 6 months’ training. Inadvertently it also turned into the beginning of my journey into barefoot running.
So with time on my hands in a hotel room, and fifteen weeks of barefoot experience behind me, now seems like a good time to reflect what I have got out of barefoot running so far, and what my hopes are for the future.
The photo I have chosen for this post is one I took yesterday in Saudi and it makes me smile.
In a quiet moment I was passing the time standing on one leg, as you do, and looked down at the sole of my upturned foot. The dust from the ground clearly marked out a footprint – even down to the separation of the toes from the balls of the foot. To me this is a wonderful thing – it is no flat, solid heel and sole – it is a working, living foot, touching the ground through the super-thin soles of a Vivo Barefoot shoe.
My feet ache for flexibility now – that’s what barefoot has done to/for me. When I put on the ‘normal’ shoes that I used to think were comfortable I feel artificially propped up by the heels. I want to flex and extend my toes, raise my heels up off the ground and stretch my arches. I want my feet to always feel alive.
This change in sensation is possibly the best thing that’s happened from my barefoot running. Yes, I love the running and yes I want to run the Bristol Half Marathon barefoot in 2011 (but of course even September next year may be too soon) but if I didn’t carry on any further the way that my feet have changed would be enough.
I need to start running longer distances again to really test my progress, because it was when I was running over 20 miles that my arches began to really hurt and the whole question of what is the right shoe, what is the right level of support, came into my mind. I can’t imagine now that if I were to run those distances again that my feet would feel those cramp-like pains.
My feet are strong, responsive and flexible. They can support themselves in exactly the way nature intended and that is a pretty good outcome for a 15-week experiment.
I’ll leave the rest of my reflections to another post for now.