December 2, 2009

Barefoot Running

I went for my first completely barefoot run today. It was about -20oC outside so I went to the indoor track. Today's run was stellar: effortless and painless. I was surprised that I had absolutely no hot spots on the bottom of my feet. There was, unsurprising, no pain in any of my joints, too. Whenever the weather is too cold or the sidewalks too slippery, I'm going to the track to run more without any shoes.

Now that I've run completely barefoot, I have a better idea of the difference between running barefoot and with VFFs. There really isn't much difference in how it feels and there was no difference in form. On a completely smooth surface (like the track here), running in VFFs feels slightly more cushioned than with absolutely nothing on my feet. My cadence and running form were otherwise unchanged between today's run and my last run in Flows on the sidewalks outside.

A note on cadence, I've timed how many times my right foot hits the ground during one minute of running, and it is consistently 84 steps/minute. I was surprised that the number was unchanged between running in VFFs and completely barefoot, but it's probably because my form didn't change at all.

The only difference I noticed today while running was that I felt that my feet spread out a little more on impact with the ground without any shoes. Maybe the Flows constrict this natural movement, maybe I just never noticed the feeling before, I don't really know.

I liked the feeling of smooth track beneath my feet. I'm definitely going to run barefoot at the track whenever I go there to run. I do like my VFFs for running outside, though. In the spring and summer, I'll work on strengthening and toughening up my pansy feet, but until then, there's always the track.