cross countryI started this year off fresh with a fifteen mile trail run on the LoBo Trail.  I launched late morning in 32° under low-hanging clouds.  After a tough seven mile run in yesterday’s wind, this was nice.  There were a few snow flakes but nothing like what is falling now.  I only planned on running twelve miles, but kept going.  Why not?

It feels good to run in my trail flats after running the last week in my barefoot Merrell Trail Gloves.  I packed my barefoot running flats rather than regular training shoes because they travel better in the suitcase – being so light.  I expected a bit of leg fatigue but man, I was near tears after day two.  I backed off my mileage and did not run at all on Christmas day, allowing my legs to recover.  I did toughen up near the end of the week but didn’t really notice the difference the shoes make until today.

Late last week, my knee pain began to abate marginally but my arches were sore – in both feet rather than simply my left foot where I generally incur pain and injury.  After yesterday’s run, which was in my standard trail shoes, my ankles could barely support my weight afterward.  It was as if I’d been ice skating.  It all came together for me today though.  No more pain.  And my form was outstanding – short stride and forefoot footfalls.  I honestly believe that running a bit in minimalist or barefoot shoes is a great way to work on your stride.  I’ve learned you have to be careful to not over do it.  I’ve been injured from running in these shoes.  Still, I highly recommend working them into your routine.  Probably not the barefoot bootcamp I did, but consider running in them once a week.

I’m currently training for my next event – a four mile cross country race in Boulder on January 26th.  I’ve formed a team of 5 or 6 harriers from my neighborhood.  The men’s open division will be competitive so we won’t likely win.  Still, do you think you could form a team of five master’s level cross country runners from within a few blocks of your house?  I can.  I plan to schedule a few team workouts.  Maybe some tempo running in the grass in my Merrell Trail Gloves.