Sunday, 27 February 2011

Barefoot Dave's Great North Run

I have run many half-marathons, and I have run a few miles barefoot, in my crazy Vibram FiveFinger shoes. But the 2011 Great North Run will be my first barefoot half marathon; a test of endurance, perseverance and my skills in emergency blister managementLike Barefoot Ted and Barefoot Ken Bob before him, I will be exploring the mysterious and marvellous world of naked-footed running and, unusually, this particular mad project actually has a solid basis of motivation...

Caught between the excitement of running the world’s biggest half marathon and the fear of running a very long way without any cushioning or support, I am absolutely, ridiculously excited about the prospect of reaching South Shields after 13.1 miles of serious barefoot ground pounding. Even more dramatic, of all the races I’ve entered in recent years, this is the only one –to my mind- where just finishing is going to be a genuine trial...

54,000 runners, the Red Arrows and no shoes...
...sounds like an adventure to me.

As you’ll know from the time I ruined more or less all of my toes, I’ve had a crack at barefoot racing before. It went very well on the face of it – a fast time, good feelings in my legs and general excitement all round. But a more pressing issue was the catastrophic blistering of my toes, and later the incredible pain in my calves. Barefoot running means using different muscle groups to running in shoes – in the absence of a thick layer of cushioning and shoe science, your body has to learn to run in a more natural, organic way, tending to land on the midsole rather than the heel. It's a completely different kettle of fish.

And yes, you’ve guessed it – I’ve decided that this is going to be my charity race. I'll be suffering my barefoot half marathon for the sake of the Alzheimer's Society. I've written in a little more detail about my motivation and excitement to be fundraising for the Alzheimer's Society on my justgiving page. Please do take a minute to have a read and think about donating whatever you can.

So what I’m saying is that there’s going to be a lot of training to fit in before I’m ready to toe the line in Newcastle. That barefoot-specific training is going to have to fit in between high-mileage work for San Francisco, hill and mountain work for the Seven Hills and next year’s mad plans, and then some more high-mileage weeks for the next marathon. But it will be worth it if I can know I've made a small difference to a big problem - here's looking forward to the next seven months...

Happy running.


2011 to date - miles: 188.44, parkruns: 3, races: 0

1 comment:

  1. How did you get on? Did you go 100% barefooted? I ran to the half way point totally and truly barefooted then switched to minimals. Biggest hazard was the plastic bottle tops which had been trodden on and smashed into splinters. Not a single blister.