Today is a running rest day. I have a lot of them. I want to run more but it takes several days to recover after a run. The main impediment is sore Achilles tendons. I’ve never had this problem before taking up barefoot running. In fact, I’ve probably never used them properly before. However, tendon soreness was about the first thing to flair up after my initial 5 minute run. Having seen someone with a snapped Achilles tendon the other week, I’m extremely keen not to push mine to the limit. Spending months on crutches and unable even to drive does not appeal!
My original plan was to run three times a week, starting with 5 minutes and adding 5 minutes after every couple of runs. I wrote out the schedule on my calendar. By now I was meant to be running 40 minutes in barefoot bliss, having already completed a 5km Parkrun. The reality is that I can run for about 15 minutes covering approximately 3km. From where I’m standing at the moment, a Parkrun seems like a marathon!
The best plan for anyone wanting to start barefoot running is to not to think of distance or speed, just time. Start with 5 minutes and see how you feel after a couple of days. Wait for any new pain or soreness to subside before beginning your next run. If, after a couple of runs you feel fine, increase your time. But do it gradually. And accept that the process will probably take longer than you think. Learning barefoot running is like learning a new language – you are not going to master it in a day or even a week. Unfortunately I think it is going to take months of practice. Like life itself, enjoy the journey and don’t worry about the destination.
I said at the top of this post that this was a running rest day. I can still cycle, swim, walk, or work on core strength – there is no reason to let general fitness levels drop off while barefoot training. But don’t feel bad about just resting – it is important to give your body chance to rebuild itself after each barefoot run, hopefully getting stronger each time!