Dates have a habit of sneaking up on you, don’t they? It seems like just a few days ago I was utterly relaxed at the prospect of running the Stratford half marathon in my Luna Sandals, with an eternity to get used to this new style of running. Er, not anymore. I’ve got five days. Eek.
I will, at some point, post a proper review of my Lunas, but for now let’s talk about how things have gone over the last couple of weeks. Well first, the good news. I’m pretty happy with my fitness. I’m no Olympian, but I’m running comfortably, if not particularly quickly. My breathing is a lot smoother, as is the whole feel of my running (although I still have a long, long way to go). I’m now taking one breath in every three strides and exhaling at the same rate, whereas before it had always been two. That wasn’t something I’d particularly planned or tired to do, it just kind of happened. Also I find it quite easy to hold a conversation as I run, which would be great if I had anyone to talk to. Anyway, I suppose I should be glad of the fact that I’m going into the race very confident that I’m up to it, which is not something I’ve always felt in the past.
On another positive note, I appear to have conquered my blisters. This is a great relief, because for a while they were really inhibiting my running. My initial method of dealing with them had been to beat them into submissions. Needless to say, I am an idiot and that did not work. So it was back to the internet, reading about the probable causes and trying to eliminate them as much as possible. So far, so good. The soles of my feet, whilst still far from pleasant, at least do not resemble the warzone that they did a couple of months ago. (Although I should point out that when I showed my daughter a large, fairly disgusting patch of dead skin last week, her response was to recoil in horror and run off.)
Finally, and still on the positive side of things, my calf muscles have proved themselves to be fit for purpose. I’m getting no pain from them whatsoever, not even the odd twinge. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that they’ve grown to the extent where they are now basically the same size as my (admittedly weedy) thighs. But they work, and I’m very pleased about that.
So here comes the bad news. I think I might have messed things up for myself. I wrote a little while ago about getting ‘top of foot’ pain, and it’s still an issue. More of an issue, actually. On Sunday I went out for my customary pre-race ten mile run, nice easy pace, quite relaxed. At around six miles, the pain in the top of my feet made its expected appearance. But to be honest, it wasn’t that bad. I managed it, and finished the run. That was probably a mistake. Minutes, even seconds after I got back to the car and stopped running, the pain in both feet escalated sharply. By the time I’d driven the ten minute journey home, I could hardly walk. The soundtrack in our house on both Sunday and yesterday was an assortment of groans and muttered swearing. (For the avoidance of doubt, I should clarify that I was the source of each, not my wife or either of my children. Although Charlie has started saying ‘bum’ quite a lot.)
I wrote in a previous post that if I didn’t feel I’d done enough to adapt to running in my Lunas, I’d revert back to my running shoes. This is where I think I’ve gone wrong; I don’t know if I can. What I haven’t mentioned is that towards the end of last week, I took off on an five mile run in my Mizunos, firstly because it was wet and secondly because I was curious to see how they would feel. The results were bloody awful. My top of foot problem flared up immediately, as well as a few other interesting and exciting little aches and pains. It was a horrible run.
So I am now left with something of a problem. As I write this, the pain in my feet has abated somewhat, and I’ve decided to just rest them this week. But even so, there’s no way of telling if they will be back to normal by Sunday. The next issue is the weather. I’m running in Original Lunas with a suede top and they are not the sandals to wear in the wet. It’s bad enough negotiating around puddles when there’s no actual rain, but if it’s chucking it down on Sunday I won’t be able to wear them, it’s as simple as that. Which leaves me trying to make my feet work in Mizunos again.
If I could endorse one single piece of advice for anyone wanting to try barefoot or minimalist running, it would be this:[slabtext] [slab]Don’t even think about[/slab] [slab]setting yourself the target of[/slab] [slab]being ready for a[/slab] [slab]race[/slab] [/slabtext]
I’m painfully aware of the fact that despite all the reading up I did, despite all the videos I watched, despite the pages and pages of excellent advice that is available in respect of running barefoot, I have pretty much ballsed it up. I suppose I could put a positive spin on things and say that I will be excellently placed to advise people on how not to do it, but it doesn’t feel like much consolation at present. After this race on Sunday, I’ve decided not to enter anything else until I’ve really figured out what I’m doing. No pressure and no deadlines. My only real goal is to enjoy my running, and if I’m honest I think I’d be enjoying myself a lot more right now if it wasn’t for the self-imposed stress from worrying about how it will go. Well, not long to wait!