I have to admit that after last Wednesday's barefoot mile my right achilles was sore for a day or two. It wasn't so sore that I needed ibuprofen or ice, but it definitely let me know that this is still a very new experience for some of my muscles and tendons. Don't get me wrong - last week's foray in barefoot running was awesome, however, when I ran I immediately noticed how tight both of my achilles were, most likely due to the fact that running shoes prevent our achilles from stretching all the way. The initial tightness made my running so awkward, but then again everything feels awkward while trying to find a new stride. You're probably wondering, "why do you need to find a new stride? what's so special about barefoot running?" That is an important topic that needs a blog entry of its own (which I will write about soon). For now, check out this training video by Vivo Barefoot on the bottom right-hand side of the page. It is the best I've found so far that describes the difference between how we run with shoes and how we run barefoot.
I wondered if my achilles were extra sore last week because I ran on blacktop so today I tried the grass. I think it was gentler. I warmed up with 1.5 miles in my shoes, ran 1 mile barefoot, ran another 1.5 miles in my shoes and then went barefoot for a little over a mile while walking the dog. I think the walk helped loosen things up because I am still a little sore and tight. Most training suggestions I've found online suggest starting with a 1/2 mile run, take a day off, and then if there is no pain increase the mileage slowly (1/8 mile each time) until you reach 3 miles pain-free. Since I started at 1 mile instead of a 1/2 mile, I think I should be able to run 1 pain-free mile after 3 more times of running 1 mile. At least that's the plan for now. I'll give it a rest tomorrow and try again on Thursday.
Here's a picture of my feet after running and walking the dog today - notice how clean my arches are after running and walking on damp, sometimes muddy ground! They were definitely not this clean after running on blacktop. I have some pride looking at my arches, knowing how well they are holding me up.