December 25, 2013 by scratchtype1
Christmas Eve morning was bright and clear, a nice change from the prior days of overcast and Monday’s buckets of rain. Monday was so dark and foreboding that when work was done, I couldn’t bring myself to put the running gear on and take some loops at the township park. It’s going to happen sometimes, you take a look in the abyss and the abyss swallows you. And it had done so after some good days of running, especially on Thursday evening when I used the parking lot at the park to run barefoot: the park’s path was then was still packed ice, slush and snow, but the parking lot was clear. Well, mostly clear, there was also a thin layer of salt residue. As a result, my soles got tenderized some by the 2.6 miles I ran, but not terribly so. Still, it taught me that I will need to be careful about how much running can be done on roads that have been treated with salt.
But let’s get back to Christmas Eve morning. It was a great pleasure to wake up and slowly see the world come to light outside, as the skies had cleared. Then later, when it came time to run, I was quite happy that the wind was light and I went out in shorts, 2 short sleeve t-shirts and a long sleeve tech shirt, and Xeros on my feet just to help them stay dry as things were still wet and damp some. The goal was to run a comfortable and easy pace, then adjust my out-and-back some to how the legs felt. When I passed approximately 1 mile, I kept running but also looked around some and marveled out how brilliant the world around me was. Clear and bright colors, clear air, the legs felt springy and crisp and I ran smoothly with a sense of very little effort. I had settled into what was going to be a good-feeling run and knew right then I ought to run until this tiny road I was on crosses a bigger one that sees lots of traffic.
When I came back, I worked a tiny bit harder, just to give the muscles a tiny nudge. But not too much as I didn’t want to go hard and blow them out before what I planned for after the run, 8 10-second hill sprints. Everything was comfortably warm, from the fingers in the gloves down to the toes. It’s amazing how warm feet can stay when there is blood being pumped to them because the muscles in them are being used.
The hill sprints went well, although I began to cool down during them while I walked between reps.
Christmas day got even colder. It was about 17 degrees when I woke up, and seeing how I had the day off, I decided to push the run back to around 12:30 or so, to give the sun time to warm things up a bit. I decided to make this run a bit different, and run back and forth between the mailbox at home up the closest main road, going out and back on that is around 1.13 miles. Decided that there would be at least 3 reps of that, but if things felt good, do 4 reps. And with the roads dried out, and no sign of any salt residue, I went barefoot.
Again it was a good easy run. I ran very even splits, except for pushing a little bit harder during the 4th out, and a little harder again for the 4th coming back. I even toyed around in my head of doing 5 reps, but decided to go with just the 4 reps and enjoy at how smoothly I had run a fairly hilly 4.52 miles or so. The only difficult part I found was the first 10 to 15 minutes or so while my body got fully warmed up. Something about cold air below freezing that sometimes makes me feel like I might start losing my breath.
It was also like the run on Christmas Eve morning one of clarity. I felt good purpose psychologically and physically. The stride had rhythm. Unlike the prior run though, this Christmas run had full connection to the ground. My bare feet bounced off the chipseal and the soles got fully stimulated. The feet stayed comfortably warm and were a nice rosy pink when I was done. One car that came up from behind me and went by did so rather slowly, guess I must have been getting ‘is that guy running barefoot?’ look. All things considered, that may have well been the first time that driver has ever seen someone running barefoot on Christmas Day.
So there it is, a couple of good runs, about 8.6 miles worth. It’s becoming ever clearer to me that running minimalist or barefoot, especially barefoot, helps my mood a lot. For example, where I mentioned earlier about running barefoot in a parking lot, I didn’t mention how when I first got to the park, I started out in running shoes on the park path. During the second loop around, I looked again over at the lot and said to myself, “Fuck this, my feet feel all wrong in the behemoths of shoes, I want to run, not clod about in these things.” So that’s when I completed the 2nd loop, went to my car, removed the shoes and got to run. Really run. Out of the shoes, my legs felt like springs again. I felt like a runner, like a human being, like I was alive and not disconnected from everything the way I had felt while running in the shoes through the slush and over the packed ice. That barefoot running last week lifted my spirits and reminded me that I am okay, that I am healthy and that there is purpose to running my life now, that there is purpose to it when I run barefoot or minimalist. I need to feel that ground contact for running to be running.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. May your feet always be quick, nimble and light when you need or want them to be.