barefoottc

my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise

A mixed bag of runningness!

For those thousands of you awaiting with baited breath my blog post on the power of the blog, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a wee bit longer. It’s not that I couldn’t write it all yet, I’m just waiting on a couple of things to fall into place so I can share the whole story in one go!

So, this week’s blog is a bit of a mixed bag of running-related thoughts and descriptions based on the past week. First up, New Year goals. I know it’s a bit late on in the year for this, but recently I’ve been reviewing what my initial targets were back in early January, to see how I’m getting on.

Back in January, my goals were the following:

To enter more races (I’d only done 3 races by this point, a half marathon, a 10k, and a 5k parkrun).

To beat my times over the above distances.

To pursue barefoot running.

Now though, I think I can define my running goals for the rest of the year more precisely, so here goes!

1. To run a half marathon barefoot (I’m aiming to do this in late September, which gives me a good long while to build up to those demands).

2. To get close to running 10 miles in an hour.

3. To post a sub 17 minute 5k time (preferably during a parkrun event!).

4. To improve on my 10k race pb of 39:42.

I’ll take each of these targets in turn and elaborate more fully.

1. To run a half marathon barefoot.

Like many others, I’ve been inspired by reading Born To Run by Christopher MacDougall and convinced about the benefits of barefoot running too, with further reading in books by Adharanand Finn (Running with the Kenyans) and Ken Bob Saxton (the ‘guru’ of Barefoot Running, who wrote ‘Barefoot Running Step by Step’). As such, I want to give barefoot running a fair crack, and after my 10 mile road race in June, I’ll be devoting plenty of time to running barefoot on a variety of surfaces in preparation for my challenge. I’m also considering doing the half marathon for charity, as I imagine there won’t be many people having done a half marathon barefoot in this country before, and this should help to win over some interest and some cash for a worthy cause. I won’t be setting a goal time for completing this challenge until a lot closer to the event, as I’ll need to see how the training goes as to whether I feel up to it at all.

2. To get close to, or preferably achieve running 10 miles in an hour (I’m doing a 10 mile race in June and my ‘easy’ target is 65 minutes as I’ve done 10 miles of a 16 mile race in 66 minutes this year. My ‘secret’ target is 60 minutes, but I know this is going to be very, very difficult to achieve).

Running sub 6 minute miles is something I’ve recently started being able to do, although this is still for a maximum of 3 miles so far (but then again, I haven’t tried doing it for longer than that yet). When I think back to last September before the Robin Hood half marathon and in my training I thought that sub 7:30 miles were crazily fast, then you can perhaps see where my enthusiasm comes from. I realise that as times get faster the effort that goes in to achieving them no longer correlates and that for each second, you have to work so much harder to shave it off than perhaps is convenient. However, I like to set myself challenging goals and I see this as a much bigger challenge even than running a half marathon barefoot.

3. To post a sub 17 minute 5k time (preferably during a parkrun event!) Why sub 17 minutes? Well, I have to come clean. Parkrun (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/) list those men who manage a sub 17 minute 5k on their website and that’s why I have this as a target for the year. I’ve only done 2 parkruns, both at Rushcliffe Country Park, and have set times of 18:42, and then today 18:22 (check it out here: http://app.strava.com/activities/47435958 – I think I did it in 18:13, but I’ve gone with Parkrun’s official time).

Like my previous goal, I think this is pretty challenging too, as it effectively means I’ll need to run each mile of the three miles in approximately 5:30 pace, giving me 30 seconds to do the 0.1 of a mile at the end. Given that the first mile I did in today’s parkrun was at 5:37 pace, followed by miles at 5:54 and 5:59, it’s going to take some doing, but will give me a huge sense of satisfaction if I can nail it!

4. To improve on my 10k race pb of 39:42 This is perhaps the easiest of my goals this year, as it should hopefully come about during the 10 mile road race I’m doing in June. My 10k PB was set doing 6:26 per mile pace and this wasn’t all on roads either. The 10 miler I’m signed up for is run on roads and is flat too so as long as the wind doesn’t get up into my face, I’m hoping to better my current time. So, that was my section on goals. I’ll be reviewing these again in a couple of months ahead of my 10 mile race so I can see how much closer (if at all!) I am to achieving any of them.

I think it is very important to reassess goals periodically to help refocus your mind, resharpen your motivation and check that your goals are realistic and are still in keeping with what you actually want. It always seems to me that you can and should be able to change tack and your goals should be there to help you along the path(s) you choose, rather than being nailed down so hard you can’t be flexible in your ambitions.

I also wanted, in this blog post, to discuss a bit of a debate I’m having with myself about the benefits or otherwise of joining a running club. I know all the arguments for joining: the social aspect, the accountability, the new routes, the potential new friends, the extra accessibility to races, the discount on races, the insurance benefits if you hurt yourself, etc.

However, I’m still undecided as to how that can fit in with my already busy term-time life. My wife and I are busy leading a small group in the life of our church, I always have work to do in the evenings (marking, planning, etc), and with two wonderful kiddies to look after and think about, I’m just unsure if this is the right stage of life to be taking on another commitment. Particularly as it would mean me feeling compelled to attend at least one club run a week (either Tuesday or Thursday) in order to justify joining.

As I run twice a week to or from work already and tend to be able to squeeze in a longer run at a weekend, is it worth joining a club to run at a time that might not be convenient to me and our family? Should I take it easy for now and think about it again in the future? Or am I just making excuses and dithering about something that can only be beneficial? I’ve already taken on writing a blog about my running…do I need to immerse myself in another running-related activity?

I still didn’t manage to squeeze into this blog post an account of my impulsive debut run at a running club (to test the water), or the longest barefoot run I’ve done to date (1.5 miles) – all that to come next time!

Keep running and if you’re in the UK, welcome to Spring! We finally had some warmth today, woohoo!

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