One of my early students who came to me for running coaching very kindly agreed to write about the experience now that she has made the transition to becoming competent barefoot runner. Here is Katie’s story:
I first went to Paul having heard about him by word of mouth (a friend of a friend of a friend kind of thing). The idea of barefoot running had been around for a while in the back of my mind, and I had already shifted my style of running to forefoot strike, but had no further idea of what to do or how to do it.
For some months then I’d been running with a forefoot strike, in ordinary Asics trainers.
My first session with Paul he made it very clear what the basic principles of barefoot running were – using a simple diagram, basic physics, and looking at a video of me running. I could immediately see, and feel, the difference – mainly that I should place the forefoot down followed straight away by the heel. This idea made sense to me, from my extensive yoga background. I tried it on the treadmill, and pick up this part quite quickly. I also understood the principle of the forward lean, the quicker cadencce, and the steady upper body, but these didn’t come so easily and were things to practice.
On my next visit I reported some discomfort in my right heel – in the achilles area, but not acute. When it ached, it prevented me from running, but it was not consistent, and eased with rest. I found that running in my old heeled trainers was good for a while. We agreed that I should not expect to change overnight my running style, and also perhaps not to over emphasise the forward lean, as it was this that seemed to cause the problem – I was just not used to running with no height under the heel.
Anyway, rest and a slow but steady change to my running practice soon solved this problem, and my third visit showed how much I’d improved my style. With a reminder on picking up the leg from the top, rather than pushing off from the foot, I was once again set off on the right foot! Now running 3 or 4 times a week for 30-40 minutes, always in barefoot shoes (sometimes actually barefoot). I notice my cadence is much quicker. My overall pace a little quicker. My stamina much improved. I don’t think about forward lean, unless I notice my pace slowing, and then all I need do is take quicker steps and it sorts itself out. My upper body stays steady and relaxed. I sometimes do runs of 1 1/2 hours without a problem.
Thanks Paul for a life changing experience! I am enjoying my running so much more, am telling everyone about barefoot running, and now have 4 pairs of barefoot shoes (finding it hard to wear anything else)
It was inspiring to work with Katie and see the positive impact our time together had on her running. Katie now has an excellent running technique and can be proud of her achievement.
To learn more about my coaching see Barefoot Running Coaching