Well, it's been a few months since my last barefoot trail update and man has it been a roller coaster! Plenty of highs and lows but my love of trails is growing significantly, which is awesome. Road running is officially dead to me! Well, I will still run a few events here and there but trails are definitely the focus.
Since my last post my new barefoot trail distance record is 25km. The course had a good dose of various surfaces from smooth single trail to sand, mixed–bag gravel and a few patches of never–again gravel. My feet were a little tender by the end of it but felt fine a few days later so all good.
One big change is I have started running with the Night Owls & Possums in bare feet. This has been an interesting challenge as I would typically sit up the back of the "A" group but clearly I can't do that in bare feet. Of course, I did get a rush of blood an try and keep up to some degree. I completed the 8km course fine but the speed was way too much for my feet and gave my soles a nice bit of pin cushioning from the gravely sections. After this I have stuck with the "B" group, which is a much safe pace. Still, it is difficult to not run faster. I never have this issue on my own—I guess it's just being around others that makes me think I'm in race mode or to quote my coach, "Just run, your friends are dead to you!"
Now that I'm starting to get the hang of a suitable, long distance pace, I still need to be careful with the arch of my right foot. The issue here is my right foot is a little flat, which results in taking a few extra hits from rocks than my left foot. Unfortunately this means it bruises quite easily if I'm not being careful or just tired. Not sure how this will play out over time but I'm hopeful this is something I can work out completely or in the very least, minimise the impact.
One thing I have been loving is running trails in the rain. There's nothing better than running through puddles in bare feet without concern of soggy shoes or loading them up full of mud. Both of these things are not my concern!
Speaking of concerns, my first official event is coming up in early April. I've signed up for the 22km Jabulani Challenge. This will be my first trail event bare footed. Should be interesting to say the least. If this event is successful I think I will have a crack at the Rafferty's Coastal Run 36k. Not sure if this is too optimistic as the course is very, very rocky but I should be able to tackle the 22km at least. Might be a last minute decision!
Lastly, the change in the soles of my feet is remarkable. Where the road acted like a big pumice stone the trails let my soles build up. They are becoming quite thick and yet, still smooth, kind of like leather. Presumably this trend will continue but again, hard to know how they will look in another few months. Guess I will see!