If you are a runner anywhere in the world in 2020 there’s a fair chance you’ve had a race cancelled. Across the globe there has been mass cancelations, from marathon majors to local community fun runs to everything in between. Some races cancelled and many postponed to later in the year and many more yet to announce as they wait to see how the coronavirus pandemic plays out in the short to medium term. As runners this pandemic has hit our events hard and each and every one of us are affected in some way. It might seem like a big deal having your goal marathon cancelled but there is people impacted far greater than us, so let’s put it into perspective.
Running a marathon or goal race is a special thing. It’s what we runners do. We train hard for races and challenge ourselves to be the best we can be. But put it all in perspective and move ahead. While races won’t be here, running will. What you can do during an enforced break from racing is get your body strong and ready for when races are held.
If you’ve been thinking of transitioning to barefoot or minimal footwear running, now is your time. There will never be a better time to slow down your training and build your strength. Start from your foundation, start with your feet. There is six months you can take to take your shoes off without the pressure of still having to log the required miles to get ready for your spring race. Stop Googling Vaporfly’s and Go Barefoot!
The money you save on your next race entry can be spent on some good quality minimal footwear and transition slowly. Better still start with 10 minutes walking or running barefoot at the end of your next run. See how it feels and build from there.
Add small increases over time to the time you spend barefoot and see the benefits. You can find a more detailed plan for how to transition to barefoot running successfully here.
In addition add some exercises to improve your intrinsic foot strength. Some simple exercises you can perform at home are.
- Single leg calf raises
Stand on the ball of your feet on one leg. Let your calf lift the heel off the ground. Do five on each leg
- Ball or pencil pickups
Stand barefoot and pick up a pencil or small ball (golf or large marble) with your toes. Place it down in front of the other foot and repeat five times
- Toe walks
Stand barefoot and walk 5 – 10 metres on your toes. Repeat five times
- Toe spreads
Stand barefoot flat on the floor. Spread the toes as far as they can go and return. Repeat 10 times
- Toe lifts
Stand barefoot flat on the ground and try and lift each toe individually. Aim to keep the other toes flat on the ground.
- Arch rolling
Use a hard or spiky ball and roll out the arch of each foot. Spend a few minutes on each foot.
When you begin to be stronger from barefoot running your feet and ankles will be more stable. Stand on one leg in place for 30 seconds. If you can do this then close your eyes. How long can you hold this for? Now swap legs and try again. Is there a difference between left and right foot stability.
Barefoot running will strengthen your feet. The more you run barefoot the stronger your feet will become. These exercises and drills will help you develop your strength but the benefit comes when you walk or run barefoot because you use all of your foot muscles and nature designed and intended.
This next period of running will be a test for us all. Without racing how will you keep motivated to get out running? Will the love of running be enough? Certainly for some amongst us the pure intrinsic joy that running provides will be enough. For others races keep us accountable and it’s easy to stay in bed when motivation wains without a race on the calendar.
Going barefoot could be the motivation you need to change your running. Going barefoot may be the way you transform yourself as a runner in an uncertain time. If barefoot running is not for you use your time without races wisely so you come out the other side a strong, motivated and better runner.