After that odd motor vehicle accident in May I took it easy for several weeks. My back was sore and my neck and shoulder were just not happy, particularly on my left side.
A few physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropracty appointments in, and I am feeling considerably better. The ligament sprain/strain in my right wrist remains irritable and restricts some of my activities, but the rest has sufficiently resolved to let me get back to barefoot running.
Heeding advice to ease into this wonderful past time, I am back to start. That is not a bad thing. With this in mind, I want to slowly build a weekly kilometre base and focus on form: the looseness of my body, the cadence of my stride, becoming relaxed, smooth and efficient. I want to release thought to feel the joy in running, to experience the freedom of moving with and of nature in my feet without borders.
Last Sunday I headed out for a short run in the dampness of an early morning. I ran along the asphalt surface of the rural road on which I live. It was a slug fest out there and I was hugely entertained by doing the dodge-the-slug dance during the short, maybe 3k distance.
Midmorning Tuesday and Thursday I ran the boardwalk of Victoria Park. Running by the water has the exact same effect on me as does running into the sunrise. Both are strongly reminiscent of how I feel when oxytocin floods me during spooning. Spooning elicits a total peace and contentment in being with; the water and sun in just being.
On Tuesday, for the first time, I strode off the end of the boardwalk and did a loop around a city block before returning to the waterfront. I was a bit anxious. There was road construction and city workers with weed whackers. It was okay and I enjoyed the cool shade along West Street as there is no shade along the boardwalk. On Thursday I added the extra bit of city street to go as far as the armory before returning to Brighton Road. The Tuesday run was about 3.5k and the Thursday distance was close to 5k.
This morning I ran along my rural route again. The sun was already low in the sky at 6:00am and giving off a bit of heat behind me. The breeze swayed the uncut hayfields and allowed the rustling leaves to imitate the sound of a rainfall. Silent sheep grazed, ignoring me in uncharacteristic fashion but the birds sang, the woodpeckers played percussion, and a dog woofed a startle into me.
I ran with smaller strides than I would with shoes on, trying to keep my legs always under my centre of gravity and striving for about 180 strides per minute. I sometimes feel like a cartoon character at this stride rate as I am not yet used to the relatively rapid rate. You can get an idea of this cadence from The Vapors:
Running barefoot naturally makes me a vigilant scanner of the surface on which I’m running. On the boardwalk there are raised nail heads of which to be cautious. The older boards have a lot of give to them and I have to take care not to have my toes catch on the depression and lift against the next board. The city sidewalks are mainly clear of debris though pebbles are common along driveways. Newer concrete blocks are smooth and easy to run on. Older ones have worn under weather and feet until the rough gravel protrudes, making for a rougher though not unpleasant surface.
Much is the same for the asphalt on which I run. Some places are quite worn and bumpy, the centre of each lane and the edges showing the dull gray razor burn of winter snow plows. Tar patches are soft and pleasingly cool in the early morning and I seek them out. The slanting sunlight casts thousands of small shadows in the pock marks on the road, reminding me of miniature lunar craters, and gives the illusion of pebbles strewn along the asphalt, causing me some consternation. It is an enjoyable learning curve I am climbing as I hop, zig and zag to avoid the nonexistent pebbles.
With this morning’s 6k, give or take 100m, completed and contemplated, I am feeling good. I have stride issues to continue to work on and must work more on relaxing my toes, which seem to be grabbing on to the planet instead of just sitting back and enjoying the ride. Harbouring some reservations regarding a fall training schedule, I plan on running the same 10k I ran last year again this year. This year, however, my goal is to run it barefoot.