I’ve been struggling with my weight over the last few years so, after turning 40 last year and a wakeup call from my doctor, I’ve decided to take charge. Knowing how beneficial barefoot running has proven to be, I thought I ought to give it a try myself. Of course, I’m no runner and I’m overweight, so I need to be sensible about the whole thing and start from the beginning: walking – power walking, that is.
Last week, I approached fellow barefooter Ryan Graham to get some pointers and he gave me some sound advice and info on how to get started. I got out for my first power walk last Wednesday and it really felt good! I’ve been getting out every second day since and I’m hoping to get out there on a daily basis, starting next week.
Unfortunately, we’re still dealing with the last of the winter here in Toronto, and I’m not an accomplished winter barefooter, so I have resorted to having to wear footwear to do my training. The first few times, I wore my Nike Free runners – although not the ideal “minimalist” footwear, it’s the best I have for now, as I’m not ready to invest any money (or wait for delivery from the US or Europe) into a new pair of “barefoot” running shoes as of yet. I found that the Nike Free worked well in snowy/slushy conditions as they have very soft soles that help gripping in those conditions.
Sadly, the pair I have is not water resistant so my feet ended up fairly wet after walking into fairly deep snow. I also learnt on Monday that they are not very good on icy conditions: the temperature was just hovering around the freezing mark and there were some icy, wet patches on some of the sidewalks. I ended up slipping 3 times and banging my right knee on the concrete – nothing bad enough to stop me from my training, but certainly need to re-consider my choice of footwear until I can get out there completely barefoot. In the meantime, I’m learning very quickly how to avoid those icy patches by jumping around them into the snowy spots.
This week, the temperatures are much more favourable, as they are claiming well above the freezing mark, so there are very few icy spots left – but plenty of puddles! Today, we had a beautiful day here in Toronto. It was about 2°C, sunny and very little wind. I decided to give my FiveFingers Sprints a try – the reason that I didn’t wear them for my previous walks was their lack of traction on snowy/icy conditions as their soles are much firmer and flatter than the Nike Frees. I had a great walk today: I clipped almost 4 km in a period of 40 minutes. This particular model of FiveFingers is definitely not water resistant so I could feel the water seeping between my toes very quickly as soon as I stepped into wet patches and puddles along my path. However, I must say, I was surprised on how warm my feet stayed throughout the whole period. Even knowing that the water that poured into my shoes was very cold, it certainly didn’t feel that cold and it got warmed up very quickly around my toes – it kind of felt nice!
I’ve skipped to mention that I haven’t been only power walking over the last week. I have also been working on some light jogging, alternated with the walking, as to start training my feet and legs for the running. Today, I managed to jog about 25% of my entire workout. I think it’s not too shabby, considering I’ve been pretty much sitting on my behind since the end of last October!
After my workout today, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some incidentals and, on my way back home, my feet were achy and tired from the exercise – they also felt rather hot. I couldn’t resist the temptation when I noticed the sun bathed sidewalk ahead of me… About two blocks away from my house, I decided to take my shoes off and walk the rest of the way in bare feet. I must admit, the FiveFingers Sprint provide a good amount of insulation, since the sidewalk felt much colder than I anticipated. However, I was walking still at a fairly good pace, so my circulation was pretty good at the time and my feet seemed to get used to the colder temperature quite quickly.
I’m not sure if I would have been able to walk barefoot much longer than I did today, given the temperature and the current softness of my soles after the long hiatus from outdoor barefooting, but I certainly enjoyed this short walk, and I can only look forward to more enjoyment as the weather changes into spring.
One thing I can tell you, I can’t wait till I’m able to actually jog a whole 30 or 40 minutes, completely barefoot! I think that’s a neat goal to have for this coming season.
Keep ’em bare, keep ’em happy,