Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Serious Trail Barefoot Running

This past Friday we went out on the trails of Park Brittania. I have run through Park Brittania many times before, but always on the main paths, not the trails. This run was going to be a mostly trail run, anywhere from 13km to 16km.

The trails in Park Brittania, I quickly found out, are very hard trail, extremely rocky. Making the rugged terrain even more difficult is the constant fluctuating between ups and downs - we were going uphill, then downhill, then back up, then down, etc. you get the point. So it was not just the difficulty of the rocks and the feet, but the concentration of running on the rocks to avoid pain and injury along with the frequency of changing style from ups to downs and back.

Far more difficult than running barefoot on rocks is running barefoot on rocks when running uphill, constantly looking for good footing. And even more difficult than that is running on rocks downhill, as you try to avoid going too fast, as you are sure to misstep and hurt yourself on a stray rock.

I must say, this run was a lot of work. I was wiped out by about 12km, but had to keep going. It was a great run, until I tired from the over-concentration. After that it was mostly a struggle.

The other runners were amazed that I was able to do it at all, considering how rcky it was. My feet are mostly ok with it now, considering that I have run numerous trails and my feet are fairly well-conditioned for it by now. I still have to be careful, and my heel came out a little bit sore from some obvious missteps, but overall it was pretty good and mostly painless.

Running trails in Vibrams FiveFingers is very doable. It takes some effort, and a lot of practice building up the foot. Start out on soft trails, and move up carefully to more difficult trails. Your feet will adjust their abilities.

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