Due to a trip abroad (Croatia, as you asked) I’ve had a hiatus of a week from running. Keen to keep my feet thinking that they have to continue toughened up, I tried to be barefoot as much as possible, although didn’t do any actual running.
So with this in mind I was a little apprehensive about running last night. I’ve spent the past 2 months running 3 times a week and building up to 6k each run. I really didn’t want to stop this momentum. I need not have worried. The run was very easy on my feet and legs, the thing that was a bit of a struggle was my cardiovascular fitness level. Not surprising really after a week of drinking and smoking.
I’ve had a few witty people trying to heckle me as my runs have now extended onto a very public Clapham Common. I should really keep track of them here. Last night on Clapham Common North Side, someone from a car shouted, “get your shoes on!”. Mmm, very well thought out I thought. A couple of weeks ago in the same spot someone shouted, “you’ve forgotten your shoes!”. At least this was an attempt at humour. I’ve also had a, “well done!” from a women in standing traffic on The Avenue about a month back. But my favourite has to be the guy who was standing on Abbeville Road about 6 doors from my house where I usually end my runs. As I stopped he stood there (in his overgrown rappers’-fashion trainers) and looked at my bare feet in horror. As I started to get my breath back he said to me, “are you sure about that bruv?”. I smiled back at him and replied, “yes mate, you’re the only one who’s unsure”, I then ran off around the corner grinning.
Tried the 6k again tonight, no problems at all. In fact didn’t feel anything in my foot where the glass splinter went in from the moment I removed it.
One interesting thing tonight was the fact that it had been raining and much of my run was on greasy paving stones. I’ve mentioned before that you’re really not supposed to push off with your feet, rather lift them, driving with the glutes instead. So having the ground underfoot slippery really makes you aware if you’ve a tendency to do this or not. Either way it’s good training for form, which as regular readers should know is everything in running, shod or barefoot.
So today was go have been my fifth 6k run in a row, every two days.
About a kilometre into the run I noticed intermittent discomfort in my left foot when it bore weight. In fact it was a kind of shooting pain, localised to my metatarsal heads and toes. I carried on for another half a K before I decided to abort and walk back home. Even this wasn’t completely comfortable, as every tenth step or so I the shooting pain happened again. Before I got home I’d decided that I must have a splinter of some sort that was touching on a nerve, causing the uncomfortable shooting pain. There was nothing to see, I couldn’t see any evidence of anything, except for what looked like a tiny blood blister.
Based on this I had a long soak in the bath, and sure enough, when picked at with a needle, I could hear something in there. It took some getting out as it was deep, but eventually I extracted a small piece of green glass that must have measured 3x2x0.5mm. There was no pain digging it out. It was wedged in the now thicker skin under my second metatarsal head. Had I had a needle or something similar with me I reckon I could have extracted it out on the route and carried on. I only really noticed it as the end was obviously just touching on nerve.
Looking back I do remember stepping on what I thought was a small stone in that area about 300 metres into the run. It must have taken the rest of the first kilometre to work its way onto the nerve.
Now that it’s out, I can’t feel a thing. I’m going to do the run again tomorrow night and fingers crossed everything will be fine.
Considering I started barefooting and bare shoe running over two years ago, and I’ve been running completely barefoot for the last 11 months, I think that’s not bad; only having one piece of glass in my foot this whole time. I think I’ve probably have more splinters in my hands over that period, and nobody thinks anything of that.
Last week I completed a circuit of Clapham Common, which is just under 6k, including getting to and from it. I was going to spend the past week doing the final set of 5k runs around my block. But cycling home last Monday it was such a nice evening I longed to be running somewhere more scenic the streets immediately around my home.
The first K felt a little tough on my soles; especially just forward of my metatarsal heads, in-between one and two on my right foot. I’ve started developing thicker skin there. This has become a bit of a pressure point, I believe because I have a tendency to push off slightly with my right foot. I need to work on that.
However, once I’d got about a K under my belt things started to settle down. Maybe this was because I was concentrating on my gait, maybe not. Either way the run was good over a variety of terrain ranging from brand new smooth flagstones, to very sharp weather damaged tarmac.
As a general precaution I iced my soles for 10 mins when I got back, followed by a soak in a bath, then applied Sudocrem. I’m not sure any of that was necessary, but I thought it good as a general precaution.
I’ve resisted posting this for the past week, as I wanted to see if I could maintain this distance every two days for at least a week. I’ve just got back from my forth run in eight days and I’m happy to report that this does seem to be sustainable. Sure my soles are a little sore right now, but this only the same amount of soreness as when I was running only 2k (four times around he block) a month ago; so things are improving.
My next goal will be 10k, but I’m going to remain at 6k for a few weeks until my soles have gotten used to this and the soreness abates.
BTW. I was too early to call my PF going away. It’s still here, but seems to benefit from my barefoot running. If I go 3-4 days without running it really seems to come back. However if I maintain the running every 2 days, although it’s still there, it’s really just in the background and it’s a not bother at all.
So last night was the first time in my current push that I ran 5k. 5.4k actually according to Google Earth. If I run this distance twice again this week then there is nothing to stop me graduating to running a full circuit of Clapham Common next week (5.9k).
I was expecting my soles to be very tender after last night’s run. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. My soles are doing very well and hardly seemed to have noticed the run at all. This strategy of focusing on the regularity, whilst slowly upping the distance really seems to be working out. My ankles are a little achy today, but aside from that, nothing really. I’ve even stopped the practice of using the inserts in my barefoot shoes the day after a run, as now my soles not need them.
Let’s see if this week pans out the way it should and if I feel ready for the Common next week.
Oh, and on a final note, I noticed this morning that I’d largely stopped noticing my PF. So it looks like I spoke a little too soon last week when I said I was disappointed that it wasn’t abating at all. But let’s not get too excited yet. More next week.
So, the second time I ran 4k I suffered a little afterwards. I think I must have stepped on a small stone* right under my 2nd metatarsal head, which is the centre of weight and first point in the touchdown of each stride. Anyway, for the next few days I didn’t run as I was a little concerned that I was pushing too far too fast. However I then ran again 4 days later with no problems at all.
So now I’m into my third week of running 4k, 3 times a week. Last night’s run was the best so far, with very little, if any, soreness on my soles, and zero joint ache the following day. I plan to step up to 5k (10 laps) next week. Not long now before I leave the saftey of running round the block and head on out onto the Common.
I am a little disappointed that there seems to be no letup in my PF though. I would have thought that as soon as I got back into barefoot running this would have resolved itself. That said, it’s much better now than when I wasn’t running only a few months ago, so maybe the running is having some effect, just not fast enough for me to consciously acknowledge it.
* I’ve discovered that stepping on small stones is par for the course if I’m going to run around with no shoes on. However when I first started this, stepping on the smallest stone would induce severe pain. Now however, it’s more like a little discomfort than full on pain, and it’s all so fast that a few strides later and I can’t feel it anymore. That combined with the fact that my proprioception is so sharp now that I’ll detect the stone under my foot before my full weight comes down on it, thus being able to take action to mitigate the possible injury.
So I’ve just ran my first 4k (8 laps of the block) in my current push. The previous two weeks I ran 3k, three times a week.
So far, so good. Although famous last words and all that, as I’ll see how it feels tomorrow. But unlike the third and final lap a month or so ago, my feet really didn’t feel like they were done on the last lap and I felt I could go on. I’m going to stick to the programme though and only increase gradually.
My feet and legs really are feeling good. Next week I’ll step this up to 10 laps (5k) and then the week after I’ll leave the block and set out around Clapham Common which is 5.5k. The plan after that will be to then build up gradually to 10k, then two laps of the Common. But baby steps until then.
So it’s week two of my new found enthusiasm for running, and trying to keep at it so that my soles don’t soften up again. This week I’ve completed 2 x 3k runs already, with just one more to go to complete the week.
I did get a bit of a twinge around my 3rd metatarsal last night about half way through the run. I wondered if I should cut the run short as the last thing I want to do is have an injury. But I remembered when I’d sprained this area before (thinking it was a stress fracture due to all the disinformation on the net about barefoot running and the dreaded metatarsal stress fracture) and it only actually stopped nagging me when I made the effort to run on it. So I just slowed down a little and really paid attention to my stride in order to make each foot fall as gentle as possible. To be fare this is what I should be doing with each stride anyway.
6 laps done (3k) and my feet felt great. I could have carried on, but again, must not push it if I want to increase this distance injury free.
So I did 3 x 2k runs last week, and this week I’ve made a good start by extending my run to 3k, or 6 times around the block. The increased regular running (as opposed to long runs more spaced out) seems to be paying off on the soles of my feet. Only a few weeks ago my feet felt tender on the last (forth) lap of my short 2k run around the block. However they felt so good last night I just kept on going and did an extra two laps, making my total run 3k. It felt so good in fact that I could easily have done more still, but managed to rein myself in and stop whilst I was ahead… and without injury.
The only thing I felt was later on was a little discomfort in the region of my 3rd and 4th metatarsal on my right foot. This is the same area I thought I’d gotten a stress fracture in a year ago. However this didn’t turn out the be the case and was probably just a sprain. It’s not a sprain this time as it was only very slight last night and I can’t even feel anything this morning.
I can feel a little tightness in my feet and ankles this morning, but nothing to worry about. Just enough of a feeling to let me know I did a run last night.
The PF doesn’t appear to have changed. Let’s see if this continued use of my feet, running 3 times a week over the next few weeks changes this. I’m deliberately not doing any stretching exercises, as I’d like to know if the barefoot running alone sorts my PF out.