There have been various studies towards long distance running and barefoot running is no exception to this. Every runner is different as the reality is they follow different training and diet plans and are living in different geographical / climatic conditions. So the debate is always on whether barefoot running is good, bad or is it ok as per the individual’s body strength. Before I started practicing barefoot running, I have never ever thought of including this even for my training.
For me it happened by chance. I have been struggling with common running injuries for some time after replacing my old shoes during April and May 2015. Knees, shin splints, ankle and STI, almost all these common ones forced me to undertake the physiotherapy and rehabilitation for more than a month, suddenly fellow runners from NCR took up a 100 days running challenge introduced by one of the running stalwarts – Tanvir Kazmi and I did not thought even twice before taking it up.
It started on May 1 and first month was going easy with my regular sessions on physio & rehabs, then it came the rains during 3rd week of Jun sometime, and that one day changed everything. It was raining cats and dogs and I was supposed to do my minimum quota of at least 2kms and started walking barefoot with an idea of going one km and get back. After 1 km, I returned back jogging instead of walking and it felt good. Tried another 2km after 2 days, it was another good feeling. Then after 3 days did a 5km and by end of next week, did 8km with our running group DRG around Nehru Park. No looking back after that. July 20, the Day Breaker Half Marathon Race day in Gurgaon was my first non-chip timed race for this distance with humid conditions. It was neither easy nor tough, I say, but yes managed to complete the distance in 2:29 hrs.
This was the time, when I started getting questioned from people around:
- Why barefoot?
- Doesn’t it hurt?
- Knees may get weeker, don’t you think it is harmful?
- How you manage the blisters and punctures?
- Is it good?
- How you feel, better?
- I also want to follow and practice, suggestions please.
Came September, Double Whammy HM back to back challenge on consecutive days that too on challenging GFR, where runners usually challenge themselves. On 12 & 13 Sep, I did it again barefoot (both days within 3 hrs) and had to answer all questions listed above once more during or post run.
After 2 weeks, another running event in Dwarka, general advisory was flashed by organizers couple of days ahead of the D-day, barefoot running on the decided route is a strict NO. I was silent, and mind Vs body challenge started. I did not run in shoes for a while, even during regular training runs? Left all thoughts behind and did it barefoot again against all odds, it was quite good at the end. Clocked 2:25 and was happy.
October passed by conditioning my feet through tarmac tracks, gravels within parks or Vans wherever I could run, I tried and tested and was almost ready for another HM on 01-Nov, the MCM Gurgaon HM. Started with ease without any finishing time target and managed a 2:23:58.
By now, I have learnt that I am fine with barefoot running. May be my running form is not able to do the justice with the shoes which I bought, so for now it is good to settle down practicing barefoot running. This may or may not be the correct judgement but it started working for me. By practicing barefoot, got to know that the architecture of our feet has so many bones and muscles, which may not get used with shoes, resulting in weakness and eventually to injuries.
ADHM – The running carnival which people across India and from globe awaits to execute their best performance facilitated by awesome weather of November in Delhi. Though I could not get a PB here, but quite satisfied with the learning of last few months which helped me to complete another HM.
Time to introspect – whether I should continue barefoot or should I switch back to shoes. After almost 6 months of training barefoot, I think I should give some more time to this art to learn the unearthed benefits, potential. During these 6 months I have been able to manage a pace of 6:45 to 7:05 under different conditions, so next phase of training to work upon the pace as a distance of 21.1 is manageable with the current pace.