I’ve been increasing my running distance each week, and today I hit 16 kilometres for the first time. I am not sure what my long-term goal is.
Reading Born to Run last year, I got this image in my mind of running pain-free, and shortly after went out to buy my Teva Five-Finger Shoes. I wore them around the house for weeks. Cooking dinner each night, I wore my “monster feet” for an hour or so. It helped make cooking dinner more bearable.
As my feet got stronger, I took my monster feet outside, ran 50 metres on the footpath. At first, I was so self-conscious, I’d only wear them in the dark. After several weeks, I could run around the block, in full daylight. I started wearing them to TR-X, to the amused stare of the instructor (freak, he was thinking), then running on the treadmill afterwards. I started wearing them to the grocery store (super-freak, the check-out boy was thinking). In six months, I could run four kilometres in my monster feet. My old shoes, the top-of-the-line physiotherapist-recommended ones, felt strange and awkward; I bought a new pair that were lower to the earth to make a full transition easier. I began to read everything I could on barefoot running: blogs; books; websites; and some advice that I wasn’t prepared to follow. I tried to change my running style to forefoot landing, and my ITB pain went right away. It was replaced by Achilles pain. I read more, learning to land on my forefoot and let my heel land.
Now, I just want to know how far I can go. I keep adding on .2 of a kilometre, week after week. Travelling further onto terrain I’ve never seen. With no pain. Soreness, tiredness, yes. But no pain.
It is very strange, when the pain of ITB used to hit me forty minutes into every single run, and I’d have to limp for the last ten minutes to get home. In road races, I used to aim for the center line to minimise any camber that would flare up the ITB. No more.
So how far can I go?
How far do I want to go? There is much talk of ultra-running, half-marathons. I am an adventure racer at heart, loving the varying terrain and mental challenge of taking myself beyond my limits. Am I also an ultra-runner? Time will tell, I suppose.
I suspect my mind will give up before my body at this stage. Because my body, at 46, just seems to go on and on. My husband’s caution – “At some point, you may have to pay a big price for all this extra running…” – frightens me, but doesn’t really ring true. I feel like I am getting stronger and stronger, like my muscles and bones have just re-discovered how to run, even though I’ve run for thirty years.
Today, I saw a man running on my trail absolutely barefoot. I saw him last week too. He looked light as a feather. That’s what I’m aiming for. One day. I suppose the distance doesn’t really matter, in the end.
Thank you, barefoot running advocates, for allowing me to run like a child again.
Now to figure out how to combine barefoot running with trail running…