As you read this entry I am preparing for my first marathon this weekend and, in two weeks, I will hopefully be running a long distance marathon known in running parlance as an ultra. Typically, an ultra is any distance above the standard marathon distance of 42.2km - anywhere from 50km and upwards. Mine will be 75km. Some extend for 165km and take over 24 hours to complete.
I will write of this unique experience in more depth after it has occured, but for now I'd like to share with you the things that I have experienced while training barefoot for long distances.
Technique is everything.
Like swimming, parkour and climbing you must learn the nuances of running technque, to become quicker and more efficeient using all of the springiness of your body. You are not running with your legs, you are running with you entire body.
Don't worry about losing your plyometric power. I feel like I have vastly more springiness than ever, and I have not appeared to have sacrificed my jump. There is something more going on here than switching from fast to slow twitch muscle fibre,
If you are not enjoying a running session, stop running. I've had a few days where I felt like I was running heavy, so I stopped before it was becoming a chore to run. If you are enjoying yourself, you will be lighter and easier on your feet. Try smiling.
Running long distances can be WEIRD. My training partner dropped into a little waking dream when he hit about 20km. I've personally had ocassions where it felt like I was running on the spot, and I was rolling the entire planet Earth beneath me like a massive beach ball. And when I have finally stopped running after almost 4 hours, the stillness was startling.
Shorten your stride, but increase the rate of the feet turning over. Pitty-patter steps are vastly more efficient.
And drink Beetroot juice! There are a few papers out there suggesting it increases endurance by about four percent. I'm here to tell you that this is true, and it definitely has aided my performance by a noticeable amount.
And to finish, I want to leave you with a quote that is something you may have seen before:
'Find your rhythm, enjoy your run'
If you haven't already read Born to Run by Chris MacDougall, then go and do so immediately. It can explain more about barefoot running that I could ever hope to explain here.