Diing doong diing dooong... diing doong diing dooong.. yes folks, Big Ben is starting to chime out 2010 and chime in 2011 so it's time for my annual summary of the year gone by.
This year started off with a bang with 9 inches of snow and then birth of my daughter. Sadly, this delight was soon turned to immense sadness as my little girl was born with a heart defect and sadly didn't make it through surgery. It was during the tough time of waiting for my daughter to grow big enough for surgery that I switched to predominantly running completely barefoot and I haven't looked back. I still go out for the occasional run in shoes of sorts, but most of my runs are now barefoot.
2010 saw quite a huge rise in popularity and interest in barefoot running with Born to Run becoming quite a motivator for a lot of people along with the Lieberman Paper - this last post even saw me getting a comment from the king of barefooters - Barefoot Ken Bob. This interest and enthusiasm was further amplified by the introduction of the first pair of barefoot-like shoes specifically designed for running when Terra Plana released the Evo. I was lucky enough to be provided a pair for review. This year also saw other manufacturers release their own "barefoot" running shoes, though I've not had the privilege to try any of these yet.
We also saw several prominent barefoot runners release books, including Michael Sandler's Barefoot Running book (note to self: I still need to write my review on this book) and Jason Robillard's The Barefoot Running Book. There have been other books, but I don't think they're really much more than jumping on the bandwagon type of books. Next year however will see what I'm hoping will be the "Bible" of barefoot running: Barefoot Ted's book - The Complete Book of Barefoot Running.
This year I was also quoted in two printed articles. First was an article for the University of the West of England's student paper The Western Eye and the second saw Runner's World quote me in a pretty one-sided (against) article on barefoot running. It was nice to see my name in print and good to see the likes of Runner's World start to take note.
When things started to warm up in the spring, my running really started to pick up too. I ran three of the Reading Parkruns completely barefoot. The first was a taster to see how I would get on. Once bitten by the racing bug, I ran my second a week later and smashed my previous time and dipped under 20 mins to finish with a time of 19:41. My third run was several weeks later and also a sub-20 finish time, though not quite as fast as my PB. Between the 2nd and 3rd Parkruns I also ran my first road race in the UK, the Yateley 10k, and I ran this completely barefoot too in a time of 46:05. A month later I ran the second in the series in a new PB of 44:43. Between the two 10k races I ran the Forest Five but as it was offroad and my research deemed it unsuitable for barefoot, I ran this in my Vibrams. This was a lovely race and one I'll definitely be doing again next year.
Unfortunately, all did NOT go well on the running front this year. During the second Yateley 10K I managed to really hurt my left foot with what I suspect may have been a stress fracture. This took me out of action for 6 weeks. Not long after returning to running after this forced rest I finally sought advice on the recurring pain I was getting in my lower back and right sacroiliac joint. My first visit to the physio quickly identified the problem and also the most probably cause for my foot injury: I had a hypo-mobile right sacroiliac joint caused by excessive use of my abs, back muscles and hamstrings for stability rather than using my glutes and core muscles. This immobility is likely to have caused over compensation elsewhere which in turn is likely to have led to odd foot placement or twisting when running. Thankfully, after a lot of core exercises designed to strengthen and engage my core muscles, I am now pain free and I think my running has improved too. The only thing is I need to keep doing these exercises regularly to ensure my core remains strong and I remain painfree, but as these aren't too long or intensive this can easily be done as part of my warm-ups and cool-downs.
My training went very well, especially when I start of following a programme, sort of. I didn't rigidly follow the programmes in the "Brain Training for Runners" book, but used it as a guide for my own running. Next year I plan to do the same thing, but more actively and schedule in some target races so I can see how I'm progressing. I've also now joined the local David Lloyd gym and even though I can't go barefoot in the gym, I plan on using the gym facilities to the full extent to cross-train to improve my running. This year also saw me becoming a bit more hard-core with some barefoot runs in the cold. Snow and Christmas has limited the number of these, but not significantly.
A quick look at my training log totals for the year is also quite telling (figures are in Km):
The high mileage in April and May along with my hip problems are likely to have led to the injury in July and the subsequent decrease in mileage for the subsequent months as I tried to ensure I didn't do too much too soon. October was an exception as I went on holiday and there was no running on this holiday and December, well Christmas and snow is all I need to say here. Not a bad total either.
So all in all, 2010 has been quite a busy year for me. Lets hope 2011 is a better year with more running, more racing, more happiness and less injuries. Time to draw up my list of goals for 2011 too.