I’ve written about this before at Subject Seek and I’m just filling in a little background now–reading about barefoot running turned out to be a lot different than actually doing it. First we had to make huaraches, because indigenous footwear worn by the Incas isn’t readily available in stores. Barefoot Ted sells a kit, though, and very reasonably priced. In less than an hour you can be trying to figure out how to lace them up. That’s a procedure that never ends, I guess, because I’m still tinkering with the rigging almost a year later. As with sailing, there’s always something to adjust.
Our first run was about a hundred feet to the end of the gravel driveway and back. Even with the Vibram huarache soles we were both in serious pain. Every day we’d give it another try and get a little farther, and eventually we managed to hobble the two hundred yards to the beginning of the county pavement and smoother sailing. Then we had some pretty good experiences. At least I did, for awhile. I was accustomed to running with hip pain, thinking it was the result of a career of hard labor. In the huaraches, that quickly went away as my stride and my footfalls changed. Suddenly I was running with a natural step, and completely sold on this outrageous new idea.
There were a few glitches along the way. The leather bindings that came with the kit were made for people with wider feet than mine, and I had to do some trimming to stop the chafing between my toes. The knot that anchors the strap to the Vibram sole never flattened the way it should and I wound up walking home without the shoes one day because of the pain from it. Instead of the recommended square knot, I tied a tight half hitch about a quarter the size of the first knot, and that flattened out just fine.
The other minor adjustment was an extra turn of the lacing strap over the heel strap, which kept working down if I wound things the way I’d been told to do it. Aside from an occasional pebble that I’d have to stop and flip out, that was the end of the rigging problems (except for my unending tendency to see if I can get things to work a little better).
By that time, it was the end of the season. I was back to running a three and a half mile course on asphalt county roads half covered in loose gravel and dirt, without any serious pain, but I had not been able to run the back course of four and half miles on hard clay and sharp chat. It was like running on little sharp spikes that occasionally ground into very tender places.
As the weather turned nasty I put that on the agenda for next year–which is this year.
Next, winter training . . . .