Even though I had never run a full 42.2K without shoes I was confident I could complete the race in Pattaya. As long as the hills weren’t too steep and the ground wasn’t too rough since running downhill adds to the impact forces placed on the body.
During the marathon I felt good the whole way, kept a nice steady pace and with the support from friends and fellow runners my only goal really was to complete the race. Time wasn’t a priority and that made the whole experience more pleasant.
I find running barefoot downhill being most taxing for the ankles and the lower body in general (this theory is also supported by research). I did a 10K race barefoot earlier this year (in Hua Hin) that had some brutally steep hills to climb and that left my foot soles and calf’s tender the day after.
When I run barefoot I often get the question if it hurts and what if I step on something sharp. In response to that I say that my eyes guide me away from most sharp objects on the ground and as long as I’m not running on rocks or gravel the ground is most of the times very forgiving. This is thanks to the barefoot technique I’ve developed that allows me to run “soft and light” and minimize friction and ground contact time by running without protection on my feet (shoes). The technique of effective barefoot running is definitely a skill (and that doesn’t always come naturally).
I would say there is a difference between running barefoot and with minimalistic shoes. With my fivefingers I can still be sloppy with my foot strikes and get away with it, at least for the moment. The foot placement when running barefoot has to be precise in order to avoid over striding and spending that split second extra on the ground, landing in front of the hips and not underneath the center of mass (hips).
After completing the Pattaya Marathon I felt fine considering the circumstances. I didn’t feeling any soreness or fatigue and had no problems to get along with my day, quite surprising considering I had taken about 50.000 steps with forces around twice my bodyweight for every step (total load of 4 million kg/leg). The day after the run I was a bit stiff in my knees waking up although that disappeared shortly after I started and move around. In summary, the after matches from the run were mild. One of the reasons why I run barefoot is to stay away from injuries. I believe the running mechanics from learning to run barefoot can help me achieve that and so far so good. The problem with running related injuries is that they occur over time (chronic injuries) due to repetitive stress to tissues and bones. When you feel the injury symptoms it’s often already too late.
In summary; with no sore legs, no blisters on my feet or any other complications that to me is a receipt for a well prepared body and a well paced race. Personally, long slow distance (LSD) activity is a very small part of my regular training. Occasionally I challenge my body and mind with long distance events for variety but I prefer to spend most of my time doing intervals and strength training. Like mentioned, barefoot running has attracted me not only for skill acquisition and learning something new but also for the added experience it brings, the mind-body connection and the claimed benefits of being easier on the body than shod running (running with shoes).
For the future, I will continue to enjoy running barefoot and I will most likely complete another Marathon barefoot as well. Pattaya Marathon barefoot was a great experience and like all other running events it’s the people, friends and atmosphere that makes it all worthwhile. I’m already looking forward to do it again next year.
Would you like to learn more about how to prepare for a barefoot run? Visit Aspire or call 08-76 72 74 52 for more information on how you can integrate barefoot running in to your training.