I’ve been running for just over two years. I started from scratch, as I always used to hate it before. I’ve gone from ‘I will never be able to run 10K’ to ‘no way am I ever doing a half marathon’ to contemplating doing a full one in Helsinki in August when I’m back home, and have already entered the London ballot
for next April.
Everyone can run, so just make sure you get properly fitted for a pair of trainers and you’re good to go, right? Well, so I thought, but apparently it’s not quite as simple as that…
I’ve been looking into this whole barefoot running thing for the last couple of months, as I have a few friends who do ultra distances, and swear by wearing thinner soled shoes and landing on your forefoot as opposed to your heel. And if you saw any of the London marathon and checked out how the top women and men ran, it was short stride on fore or mid foot. There are also a lot of people who claim ‘barefoot’ trainers have saved them from a strain of injuries.
Thanks to Fit PR, I was lucky to have a one on one three hour session with Rollo Mahon, an injury and athletic performance specialist, who has been teaching the skill of barefoot running for the last couple of years. I met him at the Battersea running track and after a quick chat, he told me to run a short distance as I normally would. After that, he asked me to do the same with no shoes on. All this was filmed and it was intriguing to see myself run.
I am, of course, a heavy heel striker! So we spent the next two hours or so at a gym doing various stretches and strengthening exercises. We did a lot of deep squats, which seem to be one of the key moves to strengthen the muscles and learn about the balance points and posture to nail this running style. Rollo also gave me some drills on the treadmill, so I would get the hang of the pace that would be the most beneficial with the landing that will not only save energy, but put less strain on your joints and therefore prevent possible injury.
I have been lucky so far and haven’t been injured from running, so I am not thinking I need to tweak my form because of that. For me, it’s all about the potential to become a much more efficient runner, which means more speed! Being as competitive as I am (against myself just as much as against others), anything that can make me run faster and longer has to be a good thing!
So after an excellent session with Rollo, I decided I was going to give this ‘barefoot’ running a go. My plan now is to get a pair of Vivo Evos that have a 4mm sole and see how I will get on with changing my strike from heel to more forefoot. It will take me a while to build up, as you should take it really easy to begin with. And by easy I mean start from just running a maximum of 1km in them to see how your calves feel afterwards. You should also do various strength and stretching exercises alongside the running training.
As soon as I get the shoes, I need patience, which isn’t a word in my vocabulary! But with this, I have no choice, as if I try to go for my standard 7-10km run route in the minimalist shoes, I will without a doubt be in so much agony, I won’t be able to run for days after.
I could write a serious essay on this subject and my session, but I’ll spare you! Instead, if you want to find out more about the session I had, check out Rollo’s expert opinion about me and my running… And I now have a 6 week program he has designed that I need to follow.
I would love to hear from anyone who has done the transfer to barefoot trainers! What shoes did you go for? Was it difficult to get used to the new stride, and has the new technique made you a better runner?