Feet and fitness

Around the end of 2012 (July/August), I started getting an interesting in getting fit/healthier again.  My typical response is to over plan like mad, quickly end up not being able to meet my schedule/plans, and then give up.  So I actively decided to not do anything like that – rather, my goal was “go run at least once a week, and if you feel like it do something else”.  That worked like a charm, and soon I was off to gym 3 times a week, and running nicely.

At the start of 2013, I heard about the “Warrior Race” which was basically a fun obstacle course over a 8-10km run.  I ended up getting about 14 people from work joining in, and we had a great day (some were more fit than others).  But through it, I realised that my shoes were not ideal for that kind of race… they collected mud and water, and were rather frustrating to run in.

I’ve always loved walking barefoot and I probably spend 90% of my time barefoot – at home or at work, regardless of the weather.  So for an age I had wanted to try out Vibrams and finally I had an excuse.  I’d heard loads of cautionary tales about hurting yourself, but the more I read/listened, the more I realised that it was about changing your running style and being more efficient as a runner.

I got some great advice from Dave and got to do a run with him looking at how he ran and getting advice from him.  (He now runs TheBareFootRunner – a local site selling some great minimalist shoes/products)

Unfortunately my core was very lacking, and eventually I got hurt, and didn’t improve a lot.  My physio was great, but ,u instruction for strengthening my foot muscles was basically “imagine this muscle that you can’t feel/see in your foot, and try to contract it”.  I knew that there was a muscle here, but apparently putting a finger on my foot wouldn’t help me?

In the end I didn’t recover well and missed a few races that I’d booked for, so I was rather demoralised.  I took up some cycling, and saw a Bio Kineticist to help build up my core and rather left it there.

Recently a mate pointed me to a bodyweight based exercise philosophy (backed with a paid for app, training, nutrition, etc – as any “new” philosophy seems to be), which basically was bodyweight base CrossFit without the fanatics.  I did my first few routines in my old shoes, but really didn’t like it and found I lost some grip with my feet on the floor when doing burpees. 

I started wearing my Vibram’s again, and had way better traction when exercising, and suddenly I found that I could feel stiffness in that mystery muscle in my foot that my physio had been trying to get me to work on.  So… bodyweight exercising and wearing minimalist shoes suddenly was working on strengthening my foot muscles!

I’m going to take it slowly and possibly try sign up for some more obstacle races (when it gets a bit warmer)… hopefully I’ll be able to keep up my foot strengthening process and keep moving towards a healthier future.

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