Well, it's been exactly a month since I started power walking and jogging and today I managed to do my first ever jog fully barefoot (so far, I'd been wearing either my Vibram FiveFingers Sprints or my Nike Free runners).
The day has been beautiful here in Toronto. We reached temperatures of 14°C, the sun is shining and there is a nice breeze. When I went for my workout, the temperature was about 8°C, so I decided I was going to wear my gym shorts, a t-shirt and a spring jacket – I thought I was going to get a bit chilly but I was perfectly fine throughout the whole time.
I managed to go for about 2.4 Kms in 20 minutes. I know it's not much, but it's quite significant to me, since a month ago I was basically doing 0kms, let alone barefoot! While I have been doing most of the power walking and jogging in my FiveFingers (the Nike Frees are only relegated for temperatures below 3°C), I definitely noticed some substantial differences today while walking/jogging completely barefoot
Right off the bat, I loved the sensation of the warm, sun bathed, sidewalks under my feet. I loved the feel of the sidewalk and street textures underfoot as well. Despite my soles are still fairly thin from the winter, they held pretty well today.
I had a very interesting sensation of "lightness" – hard to believe that I would feel such a noticeable difference between wearing the FiveFingers and going completely barefoot, but I definitely did. My feet felt much more limber and free without the wrapping for the shoes.
Once walking I noticed that I didn't have to purposely think about not landing so hard on my heel with every step I took. I know it's a personal thing, but it seems like, when I wear any type of footwear, I automatically start landing harder on my heels. This doesn't happen when I'm completely barefoot.
During my jog, my arches didn't bother me the way they do sometimes while wearing the FiveFingers. My theory is that, despite the FFs are quite flexible and allow for almost a full motion range of the foot and toes, there is still a small amount of resistance from the rubber soles, especially around the toes. This resistance impedes the toes to go exactly where they want to go and this creates some tension around the ligaments and muscles. While completely barefoot, every part of my feet move and land exactly where it wants/needs, so there is no discomfort at all.
This time around, it took substantially longer for my calves to start hurting during my jog; consequentially, I was able to run a bit longer than in previous outings.
In summary, I think I'm truly a better jogger when I go completely barefoot. I predict I will still need my FFs a few more times over the next couple of weeks, as the temperatures are still going up and down quite a bit here in Toronto. I'm quite happy with my results so far… I wish I were running already some 5kms a day, but I know I have to take it easy and build up progressively…