Sunday, April 11, 2010

Possible treatment for TOFP - Alpaca Shearing!!!

Hello all!
Last Thursday I ran an easy 4 miler.  It was supposed to be 5 miles.  However, I started to feel a little bit of that TOFP creeping back, so I cut my run a little short.  When I got home and showered, the realization that I was having a relapse of the dreaded TOFP set in.  Fortunately, the pain was not as bad as my previous run in 3 months ago which sidelined me for 2 full weeks.  With my first barefoot half marathon looming 5 weeks away, I was fearful that another 2 week hiatus would crush my chances. 
Enter alpaca shearing.  This weekend I went up to my friend's ranch to help them shear 50 alpacas.  To say this job is exhausting is an understatement.  Try wrestling one of these beasts to the ground (some weighing up to 200 lbs.) to be shorn against their will.  Then do it 49 more times.  But here's the great news - my TOFP was gone by the end of the first day!
How do I think this happened?  Well, in shearing alpacas you do A LOT of kneeling and bending.  There are times when I was kneeling, sitting back on my feet with the tops of my feet flat to the ground.  Other times I was squatting and up on my toes.  These two positions forced my feet into positions that ultimately stretched the muscles repeatedly over an extended period of time.  Essentially I stretched my foot muscles a lot.
My true hope is that I don't get TOFP again, but should it happen...I'll be kneeling and squatting a lot. 
If anyone else has had any experiences with TOFP and was able to get it to stop with anything other than rest, rest, rest, let me know!

Friday, April 9, 2010

My response to a local newspaper article: So-called "health risks of being barefoot"

So, I opened my local newspaper today at lunch and saw this article. . . and my poor co-workers got to hear an earful from me about barefoot running. 
Granted, this article is not referring to barefoot "running".  Additionally, I am NOT opposed to individuals in any country, let alone a developing country, not having access to shoes.  However, the article cites the "health risks" of being barefoot without even explaining what those "risks" are.  Now, I can see that children or adults wading through some toxic trash heap without shoes is not healthy in any way, shape or form.  However, maybe the real issue there is that there is a toxic trash heap in their neighborhood, NOT that they are barefoot.  I would imagine that wading through a toxic waste dump with shoes is just as unhealthy.
I plan to write a letter to the editor to bring our message of healthy, strength building barefoot running!!!  GO Barefoot Runners Society!!!

UPDATE:  Letter was published on 4/23/2010.  Here is the link to the newspaper.  It was edited slightly, but not much.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Barefoot Running Form

In training for my first barefoot half marathon, I ran 5 miles last week (longest distance to date barefoot).  Unfortunately I got my first blisters after 3 months and 40 miles of barefooting.  I gave my feet about a week to recover - I didn't want to drain the blisters lest I get an infection on my foot and have to wait longer to run bare. 
Last night I ran just about 4 miles.  I focused on two main things - putting my foot down as vertically as possible and no pushing off (my mantra was "lift the foot, lift the foot).  I got back from my run without any issues.  Important observation #1 - I didn't tear my blisters.  I think this was my best indicator of proper running form.  I figured if I got lazy like on my 5 mile run, I'd tear my blisters for sure and come limping home.  Observation #2 - no hot spots.  On occasion at the end of a run I would often have a couple spots on the balls of my feet that were a little sensitive.  NOT A SINGLE ONE last night!!!
My conclusion is that prior to my 5 mile run, I was doing okay on form.  The blisters at 5 miles were indicative of me slacking off.  Focusing on proper form not only prevented the tearing of the old blisters and no appearance new blisters but eliminated all hot spots.
Lesson learned - take your time, run with attention and have FUN!!!

P.S.  Saw a boat load of glass on a 20 foot stretch of road even in the dark with only a little light from the street lamps.  Ran through most of it with my eyes open.  Hey mom, I DIDN'T STEP ON IT!  Followed the advice from Last Place Jason - made a mental map of the area and placed my feet accordingly.