Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is Barefoot Running Irreversible?

So here we are in January and the temps are finally dipping below 20F.  So much for Old Man Winter staying on extended retreat.  In his absence I have been doing more miles unshod, and now that he's back I find myself with a dilemma.  Shod, or unshod?

I ran a 5K today and it was definitely cold.  I mean bone chilling cold - the kind of cold that stings your exposed skin.  I elected to run in my Nike Free Run's.   I would have run in the 5's, but since my Top of Foot Pain (TOFP) continues to bother me, seemingly more intensely after a day of just "walking" around in my Five Fingers, I elected to go shod in a more traditional shoe.

Except I haven't run in a traditional shoe since early November.  Mostly it's been barefoot as I try to build up mileage, but occasionally VFF's and I have gotten in 1 run in my INOV8 Barefoot Lites.  Both the Nike's and INOV8's yield me the same result - it felt like I couldn't move my foot.   God's honest truth - it was like trying to run in a work boot.   My 5K today was over 29 minutes, yet I can do comfortable training runs in the VFF's in about 25-26.  I even tried to sprint the end today and just couldn't figure out how to move my foot so I could  do it.  I felt like a baby that has learned how to walk, and then Mommy slapped shoes on me and suddenly I was unbalanced and disoriented.

All the way from the beginning of mile 2 onward I chanted every other step:  Can't.  Feel.  Ground.  Must. Get.  Bare.  At that point I nearly tossed off my shoes, what was another 30 seconds to strip going to matter?  The only reason I didn't was the upcoming road is a total cheese grater, and I had no desire to run that in sub-20F temps barefoot.  It was bad enough at 50F.  And coming into mile 3 I realized that I'd been mashing my foot into the ground to try and get ground feedback - and wasting a lot of energy to do it.

So where do I go from here?  I'm getting my foot X-Rayed next week to see if I really have a stress fracture that's causing my TOFP.  I guess that will determine my next steps (pun unintended).  I should be starting my Spring marathon training Tuesday.  But if I'm unable to run shod or in VFFs, and going barefoot is not yet an option for all the required marathon miles, I may need to push off the Spring event or downshift to the Half and run bare.


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