Falling In Love with Running . . . Again

>> Friday, September 24, 2010

Stephen writes today's post -- helping me out while I mend from my injury. Look for more posts from Stephen in the coming weeks and months.

A hypocrite is one who knowingly acts in contradiction of his stated beliefs or feelings, whereas an enthusiast tends to get passionately absorbed in an interest. What am I getting at? A confession: Months ago, I prescribed a rather benign plan for easing into barefoot / Vibram running (in response to the painful aftermath and improvidence of my first experience.) And as you may recall, early September should have marked my first 3 mile Vibram run.

So, what am I confessing? Insanity: performing the same task over and over expecting a different outcome. Luckily, I'm not insane, just enthusiastic! Once the initial pain subsided, I was able to tack on a few 1-2 mile barefoot runs a week. A week later, I began substituting one 4-5 mile maintenance run for one 4-5 mile Vibram run. And now I'm able to run five days a week, banking between 30-35 miles in my Vibrams or bare feet.

Why did I abandon my plan?

I'm an enthusiast. I always have been. I’ve become overzealous for practically every musician, author, or hobby with which I’ve been interested. I've purchased and listened to every Iron Maiden album, read every Ray Bradbury short story, and spend entire summers devoted to oil painting. There is a point, however, where I change interests. Rapidly. My Maiden CDs and albums are now shelved to make room for Joy Division. Likewise, Tim O'Brien short stories boot Bradbury anthologies, and, of course, running boots painting.

A lingering fear of mine is that I might grow tired of running like I did at the end of high school, and at the end of college, and so on. I fear that if I don't have a constant goal, an upcoming race, or a purpose for running, my desire may fade away.

So why did I shed my shoes?

It feels good, for lack of better words. I crave the feeling of the ground against my bare feet -- the instant feedback that communicates smooth, firm, and cold -- the sensation of the earth pushing back. Over the twenty minutes I spent drafting this post, as the late afternoon sun faded behind dark rainclouds, I traded my khakis for running shorts and splashed five barefoot miles through the pouring rain. Eugene Kelly, Curt Kobain influence and Vaseline's frontman says it best:

"It feels so good, it must be bad for me."

But is it bad for me?

If you do too much too soon, yes. If you listen to your body, no. I have to admit, I just finished tending to matching blood blisters on my longest toes. But my steadily improved form and increased cadence (180 steps per minute) compensates for any cuts and bruises I’ve had along the way. After all, skin heals.

Where to go from here? Wherever my newly established goal -- to fall in love with running, again -- takes me.

Are you trying to relight the fire in your relationship with running? Tell us your stories. Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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