• Joel Whittaker

My barefoot marathon

26.2 miles later, and I cracked it. Though as I'm writing this a week after completing the longest run I've ever attempted entirely without shoes I have to admit my left foot is pretty sore. This was a tough #challenge mainly due to me only allowing myself six weeks to relearn to run entirely without shoes. But, I gotta tell you, I loved it!


Total distance: 26.4 Miles (about 4 laps of #Richmond park)

Total time: 5:13:32 (not breaking any records here!)



So, I'm nursing a poorly foot but after more than 5 hours of running around Richmond park I deserve to be a little sore.


I found the run a lot of fun, not overly painful despite trashing my feet the week prior on a road session. You can see that damage in this picture, though I take heart that at least my feet were landing properly. Technique being everything with #barefoot #running. The Saturday before my #barefootmarathon I decided to run 7 miles entirely on road to ensure I was foot striking properly. It took my about that to realise my toe was feeling pretty sore. I'd developed a blood blister - painful - and limped home, wondering if my feet would heal in a week.


Marathon day: I started the run quite early on a Saturday morning, running though the park on at a misty 5am sunrise was magical. It had rained a lot the day prior, and my initial thoughts were the ground will be nice and soft for my barefoot marathon. But, actually, it was like submerging my feet in a bath and the skin on the soles of my feet got softer and softer. Luckily the sun showed up around 7am and started to quickly dry the ground out which allowed my now wrinkled feet to dry out too.


I don't remember too much of the run, largely because I was focusing a lot on technique. I was helped along my way by the beauty of my surroundings. #richmondpark is a delight, and with reduced air traffic and the car ban currently in place thanks to #covid-19 it's super quiet. I was powered along by some pretty disgusting homemade oat biscuits I'd made the day before. Despite being a bit grim they served their purpose and kept me going for the 5 + hours.



Final thoughts:

From never having run barefoot to running a marathon barefoot within six weeks was a little crazy, it's a lot of pressure on limbs and ligaments that aren't used to it, but it did focus me on getting the technique spot on.


I learnt early on that technique is everything in #barefootrunning. It's actually not about not wearing shoes, it's about getting the forefoot down in the right position and many other key elements that help you get it right. I've researched it enough to think I have nailed the technique, and after this marathon I feel it's the only running I'll ever do. And that's no small thing from a 30 year heel striker! I'm convinced that forefoot running is better for me, and that the best way to stay on track with technique is to go bare foot (some of the time). I've paid out for some #minimalist #sandals and will trial and review these on a future post. I've also got a 100 mile run planned for August, though not entirely barefoot!

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