So after 6 weeks of the 12 week plan, I decided to take a week off barefoot running, which became two weeks, then three. During the break, I don't think there was ever a time when I actually missed having barefoot running as part of my training. In retrospect, there were some things I appreciated about barefoot running, but not missing it shows me quite a bit as well.
So what were the takeaways?
- Barefoot running really made me conscious of what I was doing, no more autopilot runs where I didn't think about what I was doing.
- Including barefoot running improved my running form - thinking about bending my knees and focusing on lifting my feet rather than pushing off always makes me feel less tense, though no less dorky.
- Barefoot running made me slow, which is a good thing, since too many of my runs were at a singular pace, when the LSDs should be much more relaxed than the tempos.
- Barefoot running never felt "natural" to me, perhaps if I ever ran barefoot on trails or for a complete run it might have been different, but the lacing/unlacing, putting socks on and off became more of a hassle than it was worth. On the positive side, it was good practice for starting up again after a break, which is a useful skill in ultrarunning.
- Coinicidentally or not, I haven't had much foor or ankle pain in the last few weeks of this 10 week interval. Perhaps the barefooting strengthened my body, perhaps the improved form helped, or maybe it was just a cyclical thing.
So now what?
I think that barefooting will have a place in my training, not sure that it will be the minimum 25% that Barefoot Ken Bob suggests, but there was enough there that once a week or so I think I'll be baring my soles, reconnecting with the ground, and working on my form.