It’s that time of the month again: hill sprints training day. I drive to Cleveland for our tough forty minute session. When I arrive early I go for a short 1km jog down to the water front to try running in my new shoes.
I’ve been running barefoot since I got back into triathlon in July 2011. I ran in shoes for the first few sessions but old injuries caused me pain. Then I read Born to Run, which included some discussion on barefoot running as a natural activity. I decided to give it a go and found that my running technique totally changed. I started to run lighter on my feet and reduced my heal striking considerably.
I’ve been slowly increasing my barefoot running distances, with the Convicts and Wenches half marathon last week being my longest continuous barefoot run to date. However, it also highlighted that there will always be times when I will need to wear shoes due to distance or trail surface. ‘Barefoot’ running shoes are hideously expensive here in Australia. For example, a pair of Vibrams costs around $AU200, which is money I could spend entering two races. Mind you, ‘normal’ running shoes are expensive here too.
I have been thinking about what I need in a pair of shoes. I identified that I need something with thin and flexible flat soles so that my feet have continue to work naturally despite the shoes. I also wanted something lightweight and reliable. The Dunlop Volleys fit the bill in all categories. And at just $30 a pair it doesn’t matter if I kill them. I know I won’t get as much mileage out of them as I would a ‘proper’ pair of ‘barefoot’ shoes but I will still be running barefoot most of the time. The shoes are for emergency situations, such as trail running or half marathons so I won’t really put that many miles on them anyway.
Back at training, I meet my friends at 6am ready for our hill session. We run our four strides: short sprints in which we warm up our legs to get the muscles ready for sprinting. I run my hill sprints, running so hard I am doubled over and gasping for breath at the top of each hill. We don’t get to relax running down the hill either – we have to sprint down to try to increase our leg speed. It’s almost tougher than running uphill. I run my three sprints and then our warm down back to the cars. It’s been a good session and the Dunlop Volleys hold up well. I think I will wear them in March when I run the Twilight Half Marathon.
© 2011 All Rights Reserved Andrew Gills