Wow!  This week I have been practicing what Karl Marx conceptualized as ‘class consciousness’I taught, or co-taught, 24 fitness classes this week and my self-awareness of this is apparent…in many of my energy spheres and a few muscles too.  In addition, I had loads of private client work, a couple of meetings, and the ever-present paperwork tango too!

Okay, Marxist theory doesn’t really apply to this kind of class, but I thought I should have some sort of intelligent theoretical perspective underpinning my blog post…

MOVE IT! Boot Camp started this week.  Kathryn Burke and I are, as I call it, Co-shouting this fitness program.  Four mornings a week for four weeks at 6:00am in the beautiful and inspiring Victoria Park.  Leading 26 dedicated women in sunrise workouts has rocked my world!

My alarm clock has been set for 3:30am all week as I have about a 40 minute drive to Victoria Park.  With only one morning a bit wet and gray, jumping jacks as the morning sun breaks the horizon, bouncing corals off the water, silhouetting the unpretentious city skyline and placing the boot campers in relief against a ruckus of a dawning day, any alarm clock misgivings have been put to shame.

Robillard's book

This week also marked the advent of my barefoot running adventure. Working along side Jason Robillard‘s sort-of program (I call it a sort-of program as he tells us our feet are our best coach and he is right about that), I have been on three barefoot runs.

I began about two and a half weeks ago with some pre-running exercises.  Learning to lift my feet instead of pushing off the ground was a great shift in my world view.  The result of thinking about lifting is a softer landing – the ‘foot kiss’ – as Robillard calls it.  Keeping a focus on relaxing my legs and arms – loose like wet noodles –  while using the strength of my torso has been interesting and a bit of a challenge.  Working at ‘feeling’ the movement rather than ‘thinking’ the movement has not been a new nor difficult concept for me; rather second nature.

I have spent a good portion of my life barefoot and the soles of my feet are already accustomed to feeling the earth below me.  The smooth, leathery soles I already possess have served me well in the pre-running stage and I do not need to get over any anxiety about the tenderness of where I root most solidly to this planet.

step up to foot health

My first barefoot run was last Sunday.  It was chilly, with the temperature just below zero (on the celsius scale) and a heavy frost.  I loved the run despite the sting of the cold asphalt.  Focusing on my form and feeling an integral part of the environment diminished the bite of the cold.  On Wednesday, after teaching three classes, working a personal training client, and approving the proofs for t-shirt silk screening, I headed to Victoria Park boardwalk for a second go at unshod running.  The noon time weather was welcoming and the boardwalk made for a great surface.  As  a coastally raised girl, it is hard not to feel energized, relaxed and totally comfortable next to a body of water, so this run was pure pleasure.

Yesterday I completed my third barefoot run.  I had a bit of time between teaching a Kettlebell Class and a Seniors’ Fitness Class in a gym (not my studio), so I slipped total tootsies on to a treadmill.  This gave me the perfect opportunity for practicing the cadence of my strides per minute.  According to Robillard, it should be somewhere between 180 and 200 spm.  I thought that was  a lot and I wanted to test it.

If you want some idea of 180 bpm check out The Vapors’ Turning Japanese. Run to this beat. ☺

Though I downloaded metronome beats at 180, 185 and 190 bpm, I did not load them on to my ipod.  I just don’t have it in me to ever again stick earbuds in my ears and run.  Running is a beautiful meditation.

So, treadmill digital clock in front of me, I ran and counted my foot lifts.  30 seconds count, 92 lifts.  At first I had to work to get my pace up to 180 spm, but it became fairly easy to maintain the pace after a couple of tries.  This stride speed means short strides and this helps keep the foot fall under my body’s centre of gravity, thus preventing the need for a push off instead of a lift.  It felt okay.  I can work on this.

the not-so-inspiring box gym

The treadmill belt underfoot was not as pleasant as the freshness of early morning asphalt or the slightly creaking boardwalk of the park.  Nor was my physical view inspiring – a bank of mindless television sets, aging Nautilus machines and an area that was drywalled and crackfilled at least 8 months ago which has not yet been primed and painted. On the other hand, I didn’t much notice my surroundings as I attended to my biomechanics, my foot lifts and my strides.

I am very much liking the barefoot running and today decided I want to build up sufficient barefoot mileage over the summer to train for the 10k of the 2010 PEI Marathon — barefoot.  For those of you who followed my training for the 2009 10k, you will know that I am not a runner.  But, who knows, maybe running barefoot will allow me to claim the title.

My week has been full, in a most satisfying way.  Thanks to the so many wonderful people who have directly and indirectly contributed to my cheshirecat smiles this week; I sleep content, awake rested, and move through my weekend days with satisfaction, calm and anticipation.

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