Inch By Inch, It's A Cinch!
I think it is part of Seussian literature, that states "Inch by inch it's a cinch, yard by yard it is hard!" Or, my favorite, "Inch by inch, it's a cinch, mile by mile it's a trial.
Before I started running barefoot, I started to do more of what I call Zen Running. For me, this meant concentrating on the ground in front of me and not worrying about what was a block or more down the road. I tried to clear my mind of what was ahead and just enjoy and feel each step. (In this way, the slow gradual incline of the hill was tackled when I actually started to climb it rather than in my mind before I even arrived.) This was a great mindset when I started barefoot running. It came in real handy, also, to know where I was stepping and not be preoccupied with the road ahead.
What I'm really talking about here, if you haven't already figured it out, is metaphor. I am especially speaking to new barefoot runners who want to run the same distances and speed they did when they were shod. It may come for you ... later. Don't you hate that? Kinda like when your parents told you that you weren't quite ready for an added responsibility. If you're like me, damnit I want it now! Too much, too fast, however, is probably not the best for any of us. Some may do it, but the vast majority of us need to build ... slowly. We all want to be the exception, but most of us are pretty much the same in our abilities.
My advice to new barefoot runners and especially those who want to run exclusively barefoot:
1) Set goals that are realistic.
If you were running 60 to 70 miles a week with shoes, consider dropping that WAY down and learn the fundamentals of barefoot running, even if it means running 20 miles a week. Quality is the keyword, not quantity when first starting out.
2) When it quits being fun ... STOP!
There is a difference between "faking it til' you make it" and just being flat miserable and not improving. Take a day or two off and return to it. Chances are your body will thank you by giving you a pleasurable run.
3) Reward Thyself!:
When you accomplish a barefoot running goal, celebrate! That may be something as small as soaking your feet in a mountain stream or a fountain. Or, if it is some really stupendous, go get a foot massage, or a back massage, or an ice cream cone ... whatever! You get the picture.
Small goals, those "inch" improvements, will soon turn into miles of accomplishment. It can be downright daunting when we look WAY down the road -- where we want to be. However, it is always amazing to look back and to see where we have come from.
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