6 Weeks to Barefoot Running – Part 2: Movement

Written by Barefoot Dawsy

<< Back to Part 1: Baring Your Soles

Last week we focused on increasing foot strength and learning how to land softly on our forefeet. Most of the week, however was spent standing in one spot, which is pretty much like torture for anyone who has the urge to just get out there and run.

The focus of this week’s training is going to be on movement.

Placing one foot in front of the other is a movement that most of us take for granted and do thousands of times per day. The problem is, however, that because we’ve learned and reinforced our movements wearing shoes, we need to untrain ourselves and rebuild our gaits from the ground up.

Session 1

As with last week, we’re going to start off with a short run. 2 short runs, in fact. So take off your shoes, find the nearest Hard surface, and jog to the end of the block and back.

Again, try to keep it under 100m all up for now. When you’re running, try to pay attention to how your feet are landing. Concentrate on placing your feet gracefully, and not pounding them into the pavement. Make sure that you’re landing on your forefoot and gently easing down the back of your foot so that the heel just barely brushes the ground.

When you get back, take stock of how your feet are feeling. Have you got any bruises or scratches? Any blisters? Have a look at the soles of your feet and see if there’s any redness.

If you’re placing your feet correctly there should be minimal friction as your feet touch the
ground, so your feet should look nice and fresh, if a little dirty.

Now that you’ve had a look at your feet, give the run another go. Play with the way your feet are landing and how much your knees and ankles are bent. When you get it right you should almost feel like you’re floating along the ground. Don’t worry if you’re not at this point yet though, there’s still a a lot of ground to cover.

If you find that you need a break, take a day off after this session and make sure your feet and legs are feeling good before proceeding to the next session.

Session 2

As the old saying goes, you need to learn how to walk before you can learn how to run. Today we’re going to do what amounts to a slow-motion version of barefoot running.

As mentioned previously, one of the keys to correct running form is to have bent knees. The exercise we’re going to do today will reinforce that concept by slightly overexaggerating the movement. Are you ready?

First, of course, remove your shoes and socks. Find a nice Hard area to practice on with a good few metres of space (were going to be walking up and down in this exercise). Place your feet together and bend your knees. You want to keep your feet and knees together, and your back and head nice and straight. Keep bending until your thighs are at a 45 degree angle to the ground. This is your stating position.

From the starting crouch, raise your left foot and take a step. As your foot moves, you want to transfer your weight, so that when you put your foot down, nearly all your weight is above it. Make sure that as you step, your back and head stay straight up and down, and that your body from the hips up move in a straight line. Try not to bob up or down as you move.

Once you’ve transferred your weight so that it’s above your left foot, raise your right foot. If you did the last step correctly, you should be able to lift it off the ground without moving your body.

Bring your right foot up next to your left foot, and you should find yourself back in the starting position. Well done!

Practice this move until you’re confident with it, then try taking 5 steps in a row, turn around, then do 5 steps back. Do this 5 more times (for a total of 50 steps – 25 each leg). If your legs or feet get tired, or your form starts to fall apart, then stop, take a break, and start again from the beginning.

When you can do 50 bent walking steps, then you can move onto the next session. You may want to leave a day or two between sessions to let yourself recover if you feel it’s necessary.

Session 3

As with last week, we’re going to repeat the workout, but this time on a Forgiving surface. Do 5 up and 5 back again for another 5 reps. Keep your form in mind, and make sure your back is straight and that you don’t bob your head up and down.

Session 4

In this session we’re going to do the same thing one more time, however this time it will be on a Rough surface. You may find that as you transfer your full weight onto your front foot, that it may be quite uncomfortable.

The trick here is to bend your knees really deep and relax your feet. Focus on making a smooth movement as you glide forward. Take your time on this session and make sure that you’re happy with how it’s going before proceeding to the next session. It’s also a good idea to take stock at this point and check that your feet and legs are ready to continue.

Session 5

Finally try repeating the exercise on a Soft surface. Enjoy the feeling of the grass, carpet, sand, etc beneath your feet and savour the sensation. Once you’ve done 5 X 5 X 5 again, then you’re done! Fill out your scorecard and move on to next week’s session.

Scorecard:
1. Second run complete
2. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Hard (lv3) ground
3. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Forgiving (lv2) ground
4. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Rough (lv4) ground
5. 5X5X5 bent knee walks on Soft (lv1) ground
6. No blisters/Sore calves/Injuries

On to Part 3: Lifting Your Feet >>

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