More from Tony …
The first time I ran a race barefoot.
As I have said before I had a lot of problems when running in trainers and eventually took the advice of a friend and physio and started training barefoot.
I initially started with very short runs no more than 400m and I also started the task of making my calf muscles stronger with plenty of calf raises with more and more weight as time went by. The other most important exercise was stretching afterwards. I can’t stress enough about how important it is to stretch properly and thoroughly before and after exercising. I know of plenty of people who have started running barefoot and neglected to stretch the muscles afterwards which has led to some serious issues.
The whole concept of running barefoot does NOT happen overnight, it takes time for your body to adjust to this way of running and you will use muscles that have been dormant maybe for most of your life.
It took me a good 3 months before I allowed my self to run a complete mile barefoot on tarmac and over the following 3 months I increased this up 6 miles.
So, to my first race.
A friend of mine decided she wanted to run a 5k fun run for cancer charities and I said I would do it with her but that i would do it barefoot. Plenty of sponsorship money came in along with the customary ‘you must be nuts’, ‘you’ll cut your feet to ribbons’, ‘weirdo’, etc, etc.
On the day of the race I turned up nice and early got a good feel for the terrain and got myself warmed up ready to run. At the start line I had plenty of funny looks and shouts of ‘where’s your shoes’. Even one of the race marshals came over all concerned and wanted to find a spare pair of shoes for me despite my protestations.
A local businessman even came over and offered another £100 sponsorship if I got around the course. And so the starting gun went off and I, along with my race partner, set off on a nice even pace nothing to strenuous. The first 2.5k were along nice smooth roads then it was on to grass for 1k and the final bit was on rough tarmac. I must admit i learned a valuable lesson on this type of road. Run light, very light, the lighter you can run the better. Over time you get to feel how you are running by what your feet are telling you.
Anyway with 100m to go I put on a bit a sprint to the finish with a good size crowd applauding my efforts and most pointing at my feet and shaking their heads in disbelief.
When I got home a could feel the start of a blister forming on my big toe and i noticed some abrasions on the feet from scuffing something I have learned not to do so much nowadays.
Overall very successful day, one that opened a few peoples eyes. It also provided one negative from the local sport shop who said that I was a fool for running the way I did and I was gearing up for some problems later on. Well later on is here for me and to date I have had no running related injuries.