First 17k Barefoot Run

In the past 6 weeks I’ve done 6 big bike rides including 5 of the toughest cyclosportive races in France – so it’s time to have a small break from that and try to recover a bit. Each ride varied from 3800m to 5000m climbing. I don’t know if I succeeded in improving my performance – it didn’t seem to happen at all – but my other goal of rapidly losing weight has certainly worked – losing about 4kg and significantly changing body shape over that time. The last two races were in the same week and that kind of took it out of me – especially with the bad weather on the last one. In between the two races I ran my first barefoot 10k and was very pleased with the speed that came naturally. This is partly what motivated me to get out and run again yesterday despite a general feeling of tiredness.
Since the last race I’d been eating non stop but somehow didn’t put on any weight. Another reason to go out running was to stop the eating – the two being relatively incompatible. I decided to increase the distance to 15k and run a bit slower. This is a big jump up from 10k and being barefoot I sort of expected a few complications. Progress in running has been so good though that I expected it to be achievable. Only a few months ago I couldn’t run a couple of kilometres barefoot without serious recovery pain later on. 
The run started with high expectations of feeling fresh and “woken up” after the first few steps – but it didn’t happen. The legs were dead. Every stride was an effort and it only got worse. I thought that I’d stopped and turned around at 7.5k but it seems like it was 8.5k so the run would end up as 17k. My feet were still sore from the cycling shoes and perhaps just general tiredness caused them to be over-sensitive.  The outside of the left foot hurt on contact with the ground and at times this was very painful. It was swollen from some kind of constriction in the cycling shoes – not from a problem with barefoot running. The Achilles tendon on the right leg felt sore right from the start – so that must have come from the cycling too – it is apparently common with a high saddle and “toes-down” position. Because neither of those problems came from running I figured that they could be tolerated without stopping. By the end of the run – despite its shortness it felt like the end of a marathon. It was hard to move the legs and I was almost reduced to walking involuntarily. I actually felt worse than after the “Etape out of Hell” on Sunday. Incredible, since only a week earlier I’d been flying over 10k. That last race must have really drained my system out.
In the morning I woke up feeling terrible – everything hurt, could hardly walk and had a bad headache. Throughout the day this all improved, the headache going first and the Achilles easing up. The only pain that remained was the outside of the left foot. Both are undergoing icing at the moment. Near the end of the run I was wishing that I had padded shoes so that I could just be lazy and not focus so much of form and avoiding pains. It will be interesting to see what the next 17k is like, with a properly recovered body. There is no damage done even with all that tiredness and fragility so the technique seems to be working. There was no trace of plantar fasciitis pain that had dogged me for two years and was even present in the Spring this year when I tentatively started running again. Coming back from plantar fasciitis it’s amazing! I just ran a 17k barefoot and deeply tired, on tarmac with no plantar fasciitis. So much for stupid pronation control running shoes and stupid podiatrists- who’s expertise almost wrecked my running permanently.

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