I have been doing some tests the last few runs. On Sunday I ran 13 miles, just because it was so nice out. I chose to wear a conservative pair of trainers, my New Balance 769s, because that's what I always wear. The run progressed nicely, I had been afraid that it wouldn't since I hadn't eaten in two days (a-whole-nother story) and I kept up a nice pace. By mile ten I was getting a bit tired though and began to pay attention to how I was running. I noticed that I was stomping my feet down much more than I had in the beginning and so I started thinking about why. The obvious answer was that I tired.. You get tired and it gets harder to run with good form. Nothing too shocking about that.
Or was that really the answer? I decided on a plan. I continued to run while concentrating on good form for the next few miles but I still noticed that I was slapping down my feet. When I pulled into my street with a half mile left I stopped, took off my shoes, and began to run the final length home. Suddenly the heavy feet were gone. Even though I had been dragging the last couple of miles now I was bounding down the road. My feet felt light as they flitted along the street with barely any signs of fatigue from the previous 12.5 miles. They carried me home without any loss of pace and felt as fresh that last half mile as the first half mile.
What I think was going on was in fact that I was getting tired. With the rising fatigue and the decline in good, strong form I believe that my feet were attempting to compensate and keep everything in balance. With the heavy trainers with their thick padded soles on I think that my feet were slamming into the ground in an attempt to gain increased sensory feedback. Feedback it needed to try and keep me in balance but which it wasn't getting because of the shoes. Once I removed my shoes the feet fell into a naturally light rhythm because it no longer needed to try and pound through the shoes to get a sense of the road. I have tested this on a few runs now and each time I take off my shoes I find that my feet feel so free and running is so easy.
So why are my feet killing? Well I may have been overdoing it a tad. The scratchy pavement and today's 1.25 mile barefoot run have left my soles a bit tender. Time to take it down a bit and let them recover. But can you really blame me for getting out there and having fun when the weather has been so great? I didn't think so.