Saturday, June 25, 2011

My first Barefoot 10K!

I had fun this morning at the Wilma Rudolph 5K/10K in the Sango area of Clarksville, TN. The race consisted almost entirely of country back roads with a double yellow line - which I ran on most of the way because it was way smoother than the pavement. Actually, the paved road was quite a bit rougher than what I expected or am used to. Nevertheless, the painted lines on the road were quite nice when my I started having discomfort.

On more than one occasion, I left the road to run in the still-dewy grass that lines the shoulder of the street. As soon as I stepped onto the grass, my stride opened up and I just started flying albeit just for short stints. Grass is just amazing on bare feet. This is a two-edged sword, however, because returning to the pavement brings you harshly back to unforgiving reality. Form immediate has to tighten up, but that's the way it goes. The only really rough spot for me in the race was one windy, narrow connecting road that was tree lined and beautiful, but a tractor had criss-crossed the roadway several times as it entered and left adjacent fields leaving debris everywhere. I had to do a little dance to kick off some passengers on a couple occasions which I am sure was amusing to those running behind me.

I wound up finishing 36th out of about 160 runners with an official time of 49:29.

My feet post-race:

Right Foot: Sorry if you're grossed out. The white you see is old blisters or calluses (on my big toe). The race removed some of the skin from the old blister on the ball of my foot that has been there for about two weeks. I learned the hard way never to remove skin from a blister on your foot unless there is some specific reason you have to.

The left foot looks a bit better than the right, but both feet feel fine. Honestly, neither foot was ever in real pain, nor is either one sore or even tender now. Woot!

Other observations about my race:
- People start off way too fast. It's fun picking off people at mile three that blasted past you out of the gate.
- I could have run faster. I was neither fatigued or in pain as I crossed the finish line.
- The toughness of my feet are the primary limiting factor for my running speed and distance. I am not sure if the weight of shoes would have affected me all that much, but the extra protection would certainly have improved my ability to move swiftly over most of the road surface. Thus is the life of a barefoot runner.
- The increase in mileage in my training has certainly positively affected my fitness. My pace felt easy despite being quite a bit quicker than my tempo runs (-15 to -20 sec/mile)

A few notes on the race overall:
- The race was well attended and well organized by the Clarksville Running Club.
- The atmosphere was welcoming and lighthearted.
- I got an awesome chair massage after the race from one of the staff at High Pointe Rehab.
- Sango United Methodist was an awesome host.

And now..... I have a date with this guy:


  1. Congrats! I'm also post-Army (recent retiree), with a history of chronic back pain (almost gone now!), running barefoot. I've done 4-5 5k's barefoot and will do my first 10K this weekend (but it will be preceded by a 500m swim, not sure how that will affect the skin). I've got 17 shod marathons to my name and hope to do my first barefoot one at some point. Keep it up!

  2. Fantastic, Tom! I am helping my sister prepare for a half marathon, and she has never run regularly before at all (she may have bitten off more than she can chew, lol). She bought some Vibram Fivefingers Sprints to follow my training plan, and I keep thinking that it is likely easier for her to take up minimal/barefoot running than it is for a seasoned runner because her overall fitness will grow along with her feet's tolerance of distances/speeds. Experienced runners often seem to get frustrated because they feel like they are starting back at "square one."