Mini Distance Widget

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Need

I need another one of me.

I need another one of me to run with, to talk to, and to watch my form for feedback. I need another one of me to listen to my complaints and thoughts and to tell me that it's clear I should stop running now before the pain gets any worse. (And to argue with me when I say that it'll be ok)

I need another one of me to be my voice of reason.

I'm so good at doing that for other people, being their voice of reason, but I can't seem to do that, or be that, for myself. Starting to sound like a broken record, all this "I ran too much and hurt myself" nonsense. It's not necessarily that I'm running too much - it's that I'm running when I feel slightly off, and I think the mileage is not going to affect it.

I think too much.

Also, I really want to see what my own running form looks like. I keep seeing these pretty videos of barefoot runners and their fantastic form and I want to be that but I have no idea if I'm even close or not. Once I'm healed, I'll have a run with my friend Meredith, who said she would videotape me. (Weeeee!)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Warning: Product Placement

So it's summertime, and because it's summertime I'm never in town. I didn't realize I would be travelling THIS MUCH but I guess I am! I've been to Yosemite (got some monster blisters there), Tahoe for a wedding, Salinas to visit family, Stockton to visit kitty and/or significant other, Sacramento for IKEA trips and games, Moraga to BBQ with friends AND to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on IMAX 3D! Not to mention I've also been driving all over Sonoma County for various Team In Training Saturday long runs.

Training for the half marathon has been going well. I've been successfully increasing my mileage steadily and building up my endurance. I have nothing that can be called speed right now, but I have time to work on that and will be going to track practices from now on.

I minorly injured myself a couple weeks back (tendon to the inside of the achilles) and decided to take a week and a half off of running to let it heal, and in the meantime I found KT Tape. I gotta tell you, this stuff is amazing! It comes in all sorts of pretty colors, is super fun to play with and it really does wonders with supporting and easing pain most anywhere on your body. I ran with some tape on my ankle today just for a little extra support just in case my tendon still felt weak, but I had no pain at all and it was great!

I've also been experimenting with different GU flavors and products. I know I won't be able to down any solids, so I stuck with the gooey versions of energy packs, and decided that the one I liked best so far was the Strawberry Banana flavor with no caffeine. It was really easy going down and not at all overpowering or lingering like the other flavors were. If I had to go for a second best I would say Espresso Love, especially for before-run fueling. I'm not sure how that one would work out mid-run, but it was tasty in the morning before heading out.

One thing about training with the TEAM is that I'm still afraid I'll be judged for running barefoot. I've been wearing VFFs for all the TEAM trainings (which have all been long runs so far) and they've accepted that I run in them but I feel like if I just started running barefoot at team trainings I would have coaches to answer to. I don't mind running in VFFs but my main concern is blister development.

Two weeks ago (8 mile run) I developed huge blisters (multiple) on my left foot because it was warm outside, thus sweaty feet, and we were running on the side of a road so the pavement was tilted and I was running on a slant most of the time. I think this was the main factor in the blisters as well as the messed up tendon afterwards. I got one minor blister today while running 9.5 miles in my Sprints, but I'm just worried that every Saturday is going to be a new blister. It's tearing up my feet more than barefooting ever did.

Anyway, I'm excited to keep running and to build more endurance for the race. I'm about 20% away from meeting my minimum fundraising requirement, so I've gotta get that finished up too! Here's my fundraising page.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Race Recap Y'all

Kaiser Permanente Women's Fitness Festival 5K RACE RECAP!!!!

Pre-race! From left to right: me, Meredith, Tomiko, Danielle. 

I'm a week late in posting this, so I'm going to do the best I can. I spent the weekend in Sacramento with my best friend Meredith, celebrating the end of our first year as music teachers. Most of the weekend was spent in the apartment relaxing (read: playing Lego Harry Potter, etc) but we did decide to run a 5K together.

Woke up race morning, headed over to Tomiko and Danielle's apartment (they last-minute registered to run the race with us), got ready and headed out to the capitol, hoping that the rain would stop.

At this time I have not made barefoot peace with the rain, so I decided to wear my Five Finger Treksports. Otherwise, I knew I would have bits of asphalt and debris sticking to the soles of my feet and I didn't want that to happen.

We started in the 2nd corral at 8:10. I told Meredith I was going to run at her pace and try to push her to get a PR, and just enjoy the run with her. I'm glad I did, because although I know that I could have done the whole thing faster, it was just so much fun being by her side doing this together (this is the farthest we have run together, EVER).

Various moments in the race were memorable:
1. The guys on their front porch watching the race and telling all of us ladies that we were an inspiration.
2. Meredith thanking the police officer monitoring the race just because he was good-looking.
3. Me telling Meredith she had to earn her booze and the woman next to us confessing that she was going to order a mojito afterwards...
4. The most ADORABLE little boys handing out water at one of the stations. None of the other volunteers were getting any love because these two were so cute.
5. The woman cheering us to the finish saying "I'm old and fat, you HAVE to beat me!"
6. And finally, as I pulled away from Meredith towards the end saying that I was going to make her chase my ass, she magically reappeared at my shoulder saying "Ready? Ready? Go!" and pulled a dead-out sprint towards the end from who knows where!

That last one happened so fast that Tomiko and Danielle, who were waiting for us at the finish, didn't have time to get the camera ready. Thankfully the race photographers were there to capture the gloriousness of our sprint faces (ugh. Why.)
My right hand looks like I'm swimming. What are you trying to pull?!?!
I think Meredith's face looks great here. I'm thinking how the hell is she beating me?? Also, what the heck am I doing with my right foot? And of course, I am oddly intrigued by the respective positions of our *ahem* chests.

Overall this race was really well organized. Packet pickup was easy and convenient, there were a TON of freebies and the whole foods breakfast was delicious. The race t-shirt is amazing and so cute, and there was just so much stuff to see at the expo. I will definitely run this one again next year!

Our final time ended up being 41:37. A PR for me, since this is technically the first timed race I've ever completed! Looking forward to smashing that one out of the water at the next 5K I race. Below are a few more photos, before and after the race. My bedhead looks AWESOME.
We're laughing because I just burped.

JUST after the race... I think Meredith and I were still light-headed from the sprint.

The crew and John, our gentleman chauffeur for the race! Thanks John!

Clearly he's very tall. Also, clearly Meredith is slightly insane after the race.

Butt picture! Slightly disappointed that Meredith's is covered by her jacket. The other ladies just look hot.

Aaaaaand last one from the official photographer. Many people!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Be or not To Be

When I am happy, I am productive. I clean when I'm happy. I exercise when I'm happy. The cleaning and exercising both increase my happiness, until I'm just a fit and clean happy ball of sunshine.


But then something tough comes my way and if it hits me just right it'll send me to comfort food... and sweatpants... and sappy television.

The rational and sane part of my brain tells me, "But if you clean and exercise, that will make you more relaxed and help you deal with the tough stuff. So go exercise and clean!" However, I allow myself to fall into the trap, and I just don't do what I know I should do.

When I created this blog and named it Running Unencumbered, I meant it to be about running without shoes, without that extra weight or "burden". It wasn't until last night that I realized it means more than that.

It's not just being barefoot. It's running to BE UNENCUMBERED by everything that's weighing down on your life, no matter how hard.

Next year is going to be a stressful year (if I have any prediction skills whatsoever) and I know I'm going to NEED the running and the exercise in order to make it through. So I have to say NO to the trap, and remain constant, and hope the constancy will bear me through.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Motivational Stickers

We are nearing the end of the school year here in Sonoma, and everyone's lives are crazier than ever. Massive amounts of field trips, events, and other such amazingness happening all at once are turning the campus into a whirlwind of insanity activity.

I myself just led two concerts last week, plus I'm working overtime to help out with the group of 6th graders who didn't go to Outdoor Ed, so I'm part of the crazy whirlwind. (And getting paid for it. Yes!) Actually just getting an extra half-day off available. Whoops.

The great thing is that even though all of this is happening at school, I'm still making time to run and I'm still making time to escape into the things I want to escape into (yes I know, you can stop editing me in your brain now).

This past weekend I visited my friend Meredith in Sacramento. We went for a run in the park where she usually does her training, and it was really fun. There is a fine line between thinking someone is weird and judging them, but thankfully Meredith's thoughts on my barefoot running fall into the "That's weird. Whatever" category.

It may sound stupid but one of the things I look forward to the most (besides the run) is getting to put an awesome motivational sticker on the awesome motivational colorful calendar I made and put on my bedroom door. IT'S SO CHEESY, but I love it! It's also nice being able to see your progress in sticker form rather than electronic form (like dailymile) all the time.

Stickers. Gotta love 'em.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I have a fundraising page! What?

I joined Team In Training on Monday! I'm going to be fundraising and training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in October, and I need to raise $2,400. (Holy freaking wow)

For those of you who don't know yet, my dad was recently diagnosed with Leukemia (again, holy freaking wow). He was discharged from the Stanford Hospital last Friday and is now at home recovering, but I decided that I still needed to do something to help him with his battle in whatever way I can. Team In Training seamed the perfect way to do that.

So, here's my fundraising page, and I hope that you go check it out and perhaps even make a donation! Every little (or large) bit is going to help me on my way.

For those of you who don't know what Team in Training is, I suggest you go check out their page at It's not too late to join if you're interested in doing this with me!

Monday, May 2, 2011

NWM update and a plan is born

A few weeks ago, I blogged about signing up for the Nike Women's (half) Marathon. I found out last week that my team did not make it in through the random drawing. I was bummed, but my mind refused to let go of the idea that I'm going to do this.

Sometimes it's beneficial to have stubbornness as your subconscious sidekick.

I decided that if I wasn't going to be able to do this the conventional way, that Team in Training is the next best thing (or, even better than plan A!).

I double-checked with my Dad to make sure that he was okay with me asking for money in his name before committing fully to Team in Training. He gave me the "comma duh" and I signed up for an informational meeting a block from my house next Monday. I already have the support of Murphy's Pub (my friend's dad is part-owner) and I might end up doing a fund raiser there.

Trying not to get ahead of myself here.

Barefooting is going well so far. I'm taking it one inch at a time. It would be very easy for me to do too much too fast, because I often think I've already done more than I actually have. For example, I was trying to plan out when to start running, when to up my distance or my time, and I had to look through my dailymile training logs to check how long I've actually been walking barefoot! Not long enough.

So, because I do best when I write things down, I took a bunch of markers and blank paper and made myself calendars and whatnot to post in my room, so I can put stupid motivational stickers on the days when I go out, to help me keep very visual accounts of my exercise.

I'm also marking out chunks of time to designate for certain activities or goals, like for the next two weeks I marked that I should focus on walking and building soles first. The following two weeks I have dedicated to adding only a few minutes of running to my already-established walking schedule. I'm going to let my skin be my guide throughout this, but I'm just trying to surround myself with visual reminders to slow down and take it easy, so that I don't go too far beyond my capabilities.

I think that sounds like a plan. DONE.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I'm having doubts.

I really want to be a strong runner, to be able to run barefoot or in minimalist footwear whenever and wherever I want; but so far I've injured my feet twice already, and it seems a third time is inevitable.

I really want to run/walk the Nike Women's (half) Marathon in San Francisco in October, but I'm afraid that if I try to do barefoot running and try to train for a half marathon within the same six months, that the patience needed for barefoot running and the mileage needed for half marathon training will conflict and I'll just end up injured.

(I understand that I should probably be posing this question next week when I actually know whether or not I've gotten into the race.)

I'm wondering if maybe I should start training in my Nikes to get back into running again? I would try this time to focus on good form and a midfoot or forefoot landing. I would also try to incorporate small amounts of barefoot activity before or after runs, perhaps like a warmup, in an effort to strengthen my feet and still work towards minimalist or barefoot running in the future.

I know it seems like this is a backwards step - but all I really want to do is run the hell out of this thing for my Dad. I can't do much for him, but this is something I CAN do to support him as well as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

And really, isn't the running the most important thing? Not necessarily how I do it, but that I do it at all? Have I just gotten way too far ahead of myself here?

Any thoughts on this topic would be welcome.

Friday, April 15, 2011

So many textures!

I went for a beautiful walk today around Sonoma for about an hour before sunset. I kept my VFF TrekSports in my hand, and set off around town at a very slow, leisurely pace. The amazing thing about walking around Sonoma barefoot is all the different surfaces I encountered in just one mile. Below are a few pictures I captured on my phone's camera... sorry for the poor quality.

This is one of the roughest sections of the Sonoma Bike Path near my apartment.

Another rough section of the Sonoma Bike Path, but with a completely different feel underfoot. I don't know if you'll be able to see the difference in textures.

The most gorgeous and smooth sidewalk I have ever seen... right next to a winery with a huge fountain in the back.

A random section of Spain Street with no sidewalk... I opted to take the curb on this one.

Smooth and cool brick near the Mission. Felt very good underfoot.

And not much further up, a random patch of completely different texture. A lady walked by and gave me a weird look as I took this picture ;)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nike Women's Marathon and other drugs

Forget running unencumbered, how about walking unencumbered?

I feel like this week has taken forever, and I haven't had any time to just enjoy anything I want to do. I got home an hour earlier than expected today, and I decided to go for a barefoot walk. Running is out of the question for another week at least, the last run hurt more than it should have.

Mind you, when I say "barefoot walk" I really just mean "barefoot mosey around the block."

In other news, the superintendent of the school district I work in sent out a district-wide challenge to join her in the Nike Women's (half) Marathon in SF in October. I figured if she can make it across the finish line, then so can I, so I signed up for the raffle with the rest of the SVUSD team.

...I then proceeded to peer pressure every other running teacher I know into signing up for the race. More info later on how many succumb to my will ;)

I've always been intrigued by this race, but this year's registration seemed to time itself perfectly, in an odd sense. I recently found out that my dad has leukemia. There really is no elegant way to state that fact. He is currently undergoing a round of chemotherapy and other drugs.

Since the NWM benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I figured it was meant to be, so I signed up for the race to honor and support my dad. This is my way of contributing to an organization whose research (of which my dad is currently a part) has changed the way the medical profession battles cancer.

As it turns out I am not the only one I know participating this year. My friends Sus and Tomiko will be joining in on the fun, as well as a group of ladies I know from University of the Pacific, doing a Team in Training in memory of Christina Parks.

So, here's to crappy news, the love and support of family and friends, and the next six months of training.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Singing to the tune of Frustration

Heading out the door yesterday for a little barefoot jaunt, I felt a little twinge, stretched out my ankle, then thought nothing of it and continued on my way.

Today, I am regretting that decision.

I've been limping around school all day, though admittedly not nearly as bad as I was when I hurt myself in November/December. Also, it's the opposite foot, and not in the same area.

I'm wondering if this is part of the "my foot is weak and needs to man up" portion of learning to run barefoot (yes, that's what I'm calling it), or if it's just me being stupid and not listening to my body, or if perhaps I turned my ankle a little farther than I originally thought in that soccer field.

(By the way, grass, although it feels very nice underfoot, is frequently NOT EVEN. You can't see it until you step into the hole sideways. Lesson learned.)

In any case I found this link and after reading it, I realized that hey, perhaps just going out for walks for about a month would have been a better way to strengthen my feet and soles than doing the 5-minutes one week, 10-minutes the next week running schedule.


Yeah yeah yeah. So I'm going to ice down every evening after school and hope that I'm not on my ass for too long on this one. IMPATIENCE. Can't I just be good at it already? kthxbai.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Four thoughts

For tonight's blog, I have four thoughts.

ONE. I need to find a proper warm up, something that will thoroughly lubricate my joints, warm up my feet and ankles, and help me get ready to start running. Any suggestions would be helpful.

TWO. I need to try running at the beginning of the day whenever possible - although I like to run near sunset, the sidewalks and asphalt have been baking all day. The surfaces do cool down somewhat, but it's still not as nice as cool concrete under my soles. Sonoma's just going to keep getting hotter.

THREE. If I miss a few days of training, I need to back off a notch and take it easy. Pay more attention to what's going on. My feet and ankles were a bit cold/weak/tired today and I probably could have done less. My swimming coaches used to tell me that if you miss one day in the pool, you have to make up for two days' training lost.

FOUR. I don't drink enough water or hydrate myself enough. Headaches during runs just don't help with the enjoyment factor.

That's about all I have for tonight. It felt good just to get out and run, but three five days was too long to go without running. Oops... definitely thought it was only three.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Oh sweet Lord. I wish I had not asked."

"I have a blog about my barefoot running. It is required to have a blog."

This just made me crack up... had to share.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sonoma doesn't believe in street lights

It feels really awesome when the only motivation you need to get out and run is the imminent threat of sunset. 

I stayed at school working until 6:30 today, then hopped over to Sonoma Market to buy some ingredients for dinner. I have a bad habit of shopping hungry and decided to shop before the run for this reason.

I wasted no time when I got home. I changed, ditched the shoes, got my blood pumping a bit with some warm-up exercises in my apartment before heading out the door. I have noticed that I'm slowly getting more comfortable on rougher surfaces. Mind you, I'm not running on gravel or even trails but I did choose a route with slightly more beat-up cement, and felt pretty comfortable.

I am slightly surprised that I haven't gotten more weird looks. I see people noticing that I'm barefoot, but there are no double-takes or questions. Perhaps they are too polite, or just not as shocked as I would expect them to be. Or, I just sneak up on them too quickly. I have to admit, I do feel like a ninja sometimes!

Foot check: no tenderness or soreness anywhere on the feet, except a slight feeling of fatigue for a few hours after the run. I did find one tiny puncture in the bottom of my foot, probably from a loose piece of gravel. In any case it doesn't hurt (unless I poke it real hard like an idiot), and I cleaned it and patched it with Skin Shield liquid bandage for good measure. But HOLY WOW my calves feel it! That's probably an exaggeration, but I am definitely sore in the calves and loving every minute of it... I even caught myself with a stupid happy grin on my face once or twice ;)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It burnsss ussss!

ALERT: whining may be involved in this blog.

OOOOOOMMMMGGGGG ice water so cold so cold it hurts usssss... I am writing this blog with my feet in a bucket of ice water. I've heard from several sources that icing your feet after a run is beneficial, and helps to reduce the chance of injury, especially in the case of barefoot running. So, since I upped my running time today, and it's getting much warmer, I decided to submit to some ice lovin'. (pshh.... NOT loving it)

Went for a run today in sunny Stockton. It's getting hot! I went outside to test the sidewalk before I ran and decided that it was still cool enough to run on. I planned my route, about one mile, decided to go for ten minutes today, and then started! Somehow, I missed a turn and got off route, which sent me farther than I was planning to go. So, I stuck to the original 10 minute plan, then paused to put my VFFs on. By that point, the sidewalk was also getting pretty toasty, and my soles were glad for the break. Side note: Vibrams are much harder to put on when your feet are already hot!

Since I was still a ways from home, and my feet still felt good, I decided to try adding five minutes in my Treksports. The interesting thing about the transition from barefoot to shoes this time is that I still kept the forefoot strike that I was using while I was barefoot, as opposed to switching from a traditional running shoe to the minimalist shoe, which changed the way I was running, but not enough to protect me from injury.

The VFFs felt very cushy under my feet, which was an odd sensation! I can understand the comments about the lack of ground feel now. The rest of the run felt light and smooth. My calves certainly feel stronger, and I can feel soreness in between runs in my legs. The places on my feet that were tender on my last run are no longer tender; however I do have some sensitivity the outside of both feet, just below the pinky toe. I think that's from the sole/upper seam in the VFFs.

Note: If you want to keep your Five Fingers from smelling like death, swipe a stick of deodorant along the soles of your feet before wearing them. The only problem is it's kind of strange to carry around a stick of deodorant on your run, in case you want to put your shoes on!

Now that my feet are sufficiently numbed, the ice water isn't so bad... =P

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fair weather in Salinas

California winter is finally ending. With the first flash of heat, many people will go outside, don their bathing suits (yikes! Not ready!) or just enjoy the weather in any way that they can. While I enjoy the weather, I am not used to it! I wilted like lettuce onto the couch and stayed there (mmm.... naps). As a result I have not been as regular with this brand new running schedule as I would like.

I am at my parents' house in Salinas, CA for a couple days, visiting, getting my old car fixed, and happily nodding my head when my mom says "do you want to go shopping?" Yesterday I spent a lot of time on my feet, and they were TIRED by the end of the day. I don't think my VFF Treksports are as ventilated as I thought they were. My feet end up being very cold on cool days, or very hot as they were yesterday. I'll keep testing that theory as we get further into the warmer months.

Today my mom and I walked to the grocery store to get some ingredients for dinner - we're making quiche per my dad's request - and she offered to carry the groceries back if I wanted to run back home from the grocery store. I didn't want to run the whole way, so we walked to a nearby elementary school and I ran home from there instead. I don't know if it was the fact that we had been walking for a while, or that I was still tired from yesterday, but I had to really concentrate on form. It's amazing how easy it is to slip back into old muscle-memory habits like heel striking, even when you're barefoot! Every time I felt myself slapping my foot on the pavement I gave myself a little mental slap across the face (In my imagination, I deal a pretty hefty slap). I ran on lawns wherever I could, and stretched a little bit on my own lawn while waiting for my mom to catch up.

Foot health seems good: no blisters or raw spots, but there is some tenderness on the ball of my foot and the side of my big toe. Not sure if that's just from the run.

Two minutes left on the quiche! OM NOM NOM

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Break and Sunsets

Having been a student all my life, it is remarkably easy to fall into the same patterns I always have: work really hard, stress a whole bunch, then do absolutely nothing during spring break or during the summer. Being a first year music teacher is no different. I have been trained well on this schedule, and I thrive in it. I have been working really hard, stressing out of my mind, and now I am on spring break and damnit I am doing as little as I can get away with!

With that said, the weather was so inviting today that I just had to get outside. I didn't run today - I wasn't really feeling up to it, but I did walk for a while. By myself I walked about 15 minutes, barefoot, around the block, then waited for my friend Sus to get back home. She told me of her barefoot excursions as a kid and how much she loved it, so I asked "why not kick off your shoes now?" So, she did, and we walked barefoot for about another half hour.

The walk itself was very enjoyable. The sun was just beginning to lower in the sky and the temperature was perfect. Sus is from a family of fast walkers, so even though she ditched her shoes, she was still setting a formidable pace. I warned her, and told her to take smaller steps, but it turns out she gave herself a blister by the end of the walk. Granted, it was her first time walking barefoot with me, so she might have just done too much too fast. In any case it was a great time and I absolutely needed it today.

On another note, I keep expecting some horrible painful transition experience to happen, but then I realize that I love being barefoot and have found ways to walk around barefoot for most of my life. Around my house, on the pool deck, during the summers at the lake and of course during kickboxing class. Perhaps my feet are a little stronger than I gave them credit for. Still, that does not give me an excuse to do too much too soon. It is incredibly frustrating not being able to just jump in and do a few miles, but I know that if I want this to work in my favor I need to give it time.

Now for fajitas with friends. =)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day Two

I tried yesterday to go out for my second barefoot jaunt, but by the time I was ready to go, it had started raining outside, and I decided other things were more pertinent, like doing my very very dirty dishes (I put the "pro" in procrastination).

Today, however, there were no excuses. I dragged my friend Sus along with me, but didn't time exactly how long we went. I have a feeling it was between 5 and 10 minutes, but honestly I couldn't be sure. Feet felt great, weather was beautiful, and Sus was nice company to have.

Although my form feels good, I think the next step is either to have someone watch the way my foot is landing, or videotape myself so that I can slow it down and watch my stride. I want to make sure I'm running correctly this time! No injuries please! I still feel shy about telling people I'm running barefoot. I'm afraid they'll think I'm crazy, or that they'll chastise me... working on the shortest and simplest way to explain my reasoning.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Day One: tracks hurt!

It's easy enough to find information about how to make the transition from running in traditional shoes to running barefoot, or running in minimalist footwear, but it is much harder to find information about whether or not it is advisable to start barefoot from square one. I found one blog that suggests starting from square one barefoot may be easier than switching from running with shoes, because you might not have to unlearn so much.

So, today I embarked on my first barefoot adventure. I followed the advice of many barefoot runners, and only did five minutes. I found a post somewhere that said running on a track would be a good way to log miles without tearing up your feet, so I tried it. WRONG. A track, especially in the wet weather, has many tiny pieces of rubber on its surface that enjoy sticking to the soles of your feet like... oh, well the musician in me says like cat hair on your favorite concert dress. In any case it sucks to run on. I stopped because it was uncomfortable, realized what was happening, brushed the excess track off my feet, put on my "hand weights" and jogged on my toes back to my starting point. I then tried a couple other surfaces: the asphalt path that leads to the track, which was better, and the sidewalk in the neighborhood next to the track, which was infinitely preferable to either of the previous surfaces.

My feet feel a little tender, but alive, and I'll know next time to run on the sidewalk where it is most smooth.

My first glimpse of freedom

My entire life, I have been a swimmer. I have never considered myself to be a runner. However, new city, new job, new need for fitness and I decide to turn to the most accessible exercise regimen I could muster: jogging.

I started out on a good foot, with a new pair of Nikes and a gradually building regimen set out for me by, and everything was great. But then I found an incredible love for a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and it felt so amazing to run with such light feet that I didn't feel the damage my incorrect form was slowly causing. I didn't feel the stress fracture sneaking up on me... until I ran out my frustration from a bad day, further and longer than I had ever run before, and completely overdid it.

Thinking it was just another sore day, I gave it a couple days' rest and ran again... and again. It felt great when I was running! ...until I had to hobble to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Until I was limping around at school. Until I was an idiot and gave myself a stress fracture and did not give it enough time to heal before trying to run again.

It has been over two months since my last run. I have confined myself to a boot, I have taken every precaution, and I have been pain-free and playful for several weeks now. It is time to get back into the running game. I realize that last time I went for a pair of Vibrams, I made the switch completely backwards. You see, it doesn't go: running shoes, Vibrams, barefoot, it's the other way around: running shoes, barefoot, Vibrams. I've learned that in order to run in a minimalist fashion, you have to learn to run all over again, and that means starting with instant feedback, the best and cheapest coach you will ever find: your bare soles.

So, I'm starting on a new adventure. I am going to try, very carefully, to start running barefoot. Everything about it seems right to me. I am not looking for speed, or distance, or glory... I am looking to fall in love with running, and get in touch with the part of myself that was made to.

Welcome to my barefoot adventure.