Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My 2-Year Barefoot Running Anniversary

January 2, 2012 - Two years ago, I began this journey as a barefoot runner.  It's really been quite an amazing journey thus far.  And on this 2-year anniversary, I spent the evening on my longest, barefoot nighttime run of 14-miles.  It was an incredible feeling to celebrate this milestone in this way.

For those of you who have followed my blog some of this is old news.  I began this barefoot journey quite by accident.  I had been a shod runner for about two years.  After my third marathon I took a two-year hiatus from running.  There were multiple factors that contributed to this hiatus - illness and recovery time, family and work obligations, and a loss of motivation.  In two years and three marathons, I had not been able to hit the goal of a 4-hour marathon despite all the training that pointed toward that mark.

In a desire to find inspiration, I asked for the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall for Christmas in 2009.  When I opened that book, I had no idea that it had anything to do with barefoot running.  On January 2, 2010 I went on my first barefoot run - 2.5 miles of energy filled fun!

Since that time, I have logged 592 miles running mostly barefoot with some miles in minimalist shoes.  In 2011, I logged 458 miles.  My goal, once again, this year is to hit 1000 barefoot/minimalist miles.  You can keep a tab on my progress on the right side of this blog.

Looking back over the past two years blows my mind when I think about the changes that I have experienced.  When I was a shod runner, I ran because I had a race to run.  I didn't always enjoy it and it was a chore.  Now, I seek out opportunities to run more.  Additionally, my attitude toward long distance running has radically changed.  I used to think that ultramarathoners were runners who had gone insane.  I didn't understand it and I sure as hell didn't want to do it.  As I became more adept at running barefoot, I found that I enjoyed, no, loved running.  After running several races barefoot from 5K to half marathon and on road and trail, I started to seriously consider the realm of the ultramarathon.  I jumped from the half marathon distance to a 50K ultra and was hooked. 

This past year had another milestone for me.  I beat my shod half marathon PR by nearly a minute this year.  My previous shod PR for the half marathon was 1:50:05.  My new official barefoot PR for the half marathon is 1:49:22 (1:49:09 by my watch).  Keep an eye out for my race report for this race (St. Joseph's Half Marathon), I'm a little behind.  The race was in October =)

Now I find myself in the midst of training for my first 50-mile endurance run and I am loving every minute of it.  Does it have its struggles?  Absolutely.  Do I always enjoy my runs?  Yes.  I take every moment on the run as a challenge to push myself toward that limit.  When I have a bad run, I use it as a learning experience on what not to do, eat, or whatever might have challenged me that day.

So, maybe ultramarathoners are runners who have gone insane.  But I have joined their ranks and I'm loving it!

More recently I have begun training co-workers to run distances up to the half marathon and the experience has been fantastic!  I love seeing people who never considered themselves runners now identifying themselves as a "runner". 

I truly look forward to my third year as a barefoot runner and all of the joys and challenges that lie ahead.  Here is a brief look at some of my hopes and goals for 2012:

American River 50-mile Endurance Run
The Relay for Life (hope to run the full 24-hours)
Pacer for a Western States runner
A 4-hour marathon

Here's to a great 2012!  Happy New Year everyone!

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