A year ago we shot Beth Tweddle the champion Gymnast for our cover and lead interview. One of the things that struck us most about her incredible physique were her feet, she could point her toes to such an extent that they actually arched over. Years of pointing, stretching and flexing – mostly in barefeet, have formed these incredible tools of her trade.
So the question is – will my feet change shape during my transition to barefoot running?
To help me assess any changes I am having my feet examined every month or so by local Foot Health Professional Caroline Peppercorn. I have never had any treatment on my feet except the very occasional pedicure, so it’s a treat to have them pampered.
Caroline begins by thoroughly examining my feet – normally my nails would be painted a lovely shade of Chanel purple or dark blue – but for the purpose of this examination they are cleaned and natural, and a rather unattractive yellow shade.
My big toe nails are thick in patches, which apparently is caused by friction. I have a small corn on the underside of my big toe and on the ball of my left foot the skin is quite a bit thicker that on my right foot. Aside from that I have the very early stages of a hereditary bunion – also on my left foot.
So all the problem areas are on my left foot, which is interesting because it was my left foot that Lee Saxby identified as dragging slightly making me a little bit asymmetric.
Caroline gets busy removing some of the dead skin and extracting the corn. The corn is tiny and I am amazed at how painful such a small thing could be. She then massages and moisturises them and it feels divine!
We then plot measurements on some graph paper and take some photos to help assess any changes. Of course they may not change much, but then that’s all part of the experiment. Either way I would certainly recommend the occasional treatment to any runner – it’s certainly worth looking after your feet, and I reckon most of us don’t.
The joy of hills
I have added a weekly hill run into my training schedule (3 runs a week – one long run, one steady 6 miles, one 5 miles with a hill). In Bath, it is not hard to find a long steep hill, in fact it’s harder to find a flat run!
I normally hate hills, I figure that I am just not cut out for them, but now with my new technique I barely notice them. It’s true and I can barely believe it myself.
My first hill run was quite a baptism of fire, after a mile and a half warm up on the flat I then tackled a hill that stretches for over a mile alongside the National Trust Prior Park gardens. Its steep, but I am not sure how steep – all I know is that I need to change down to second gear in my car to get up it! I was expecting to have to stop and walk.
I concentrated on my technique, chest up, head up, upright and small steps. I found it hard to maintain the 180 beat, but nonetheless, I arrive at the top without puffing, feeling absolutely fine and am able to ease into a faster pace immediately. Eureka ! I really cannot believe how easy it was and am delighted
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