This week I've been for a couple of 10km runs and learned a bit, I think.
Although I'm not exactly aiming at becoming a solely barefoot runner, I figured I'd try and work some barefoot miles into my routine to try and force myself into running the right way. I've been struggling to nail a comfortable forefoot strike (I think I've been naturally running with a midfoot strike, not exactly a full-blown clonking heel strike) and since I haven't been running properly for a huge amount of time, I want to get it right now, before settling in to any bad habits.
At the start of the week, I ran the 10km home from work, setting out without shoes and with the idea to only run as far as was comfortable. This turned out being pretty much most of the way, barring a couple of stretches of rougher terrain. I won't be doing this again for a long time; I know that I need to gradually work up to running that far barefoot and I did end up with a few blisters and pretty much tenderised soles (although no aching or stiffness in my legs, interestingly). This was more a case of trying to find the line that I shouldn't cross, I guess.
I definitely got some good out of it - it was probably the most enjoyable run I've had in a while, once I settled into a comfortable speed (this probably contributed to me getting so far); I also noticed that for the stretches where I put my shoes back on, I managed to keep a good forefoot strike going for a while.
Although that run put me on tender feet for a couple of days afterwards, I was pretty much back to normal today and ran the same route in reverse (in shoes) - and kept my forefoot strike going all the way without any problem! This is like, the smallest first step, but I'm pretty pleased with myself. I kept actively remembering the feeling of running barefoot for about the first 3km, but after that it became a lot more natural and I could relax into it.
Although I'm not too bothered about time, I was pleased to see that the run only took me about ten minutes more than I'd previously been running it (around 55 compared to 45). Ben's goals for the next couple of weeks: keep a good knee-raising, log-hopping stride going and do not run 10km barefoot again!