Sunday, June 6, 2010

Carbon-free Footprints

 Peterborough Moves is a joint project of Peterborough Green-Up, City of Peterborough and the Peterborough County-City Health Unit. Every year Peterborough Moves runs a program for the month of May called Shifting Gears. Shifting Gears is a transportation competition and campaign encouraging people to use sustainable and less polluting ways to get to work: walk, bike, take transit, carpool, or work from home. For the last couple of years I have participated in this by riding my bike to work a few days throughout the month. I live 10k from work and this year I wanted to try to run to work. It is always a challenge to get in all the training distance that you want for a marathon and I thought that running to work and back would be a good chance to get 20k of running in every day without it using up all of my free time. Since my injury I have not planned any races and I am slowing getting back into running by doing a lot of walking with a little bit of running thrown in. On the last Friday of the Shifting Gears program, I decided I would take advantage of the warm weather we were having and get to and from work with just my bare feet for transportation. I had planned ahead by leaving food and my work clothes at work the day before. All I had to take with me was my keys and cell phone that fit nicely in the pocket of my hand held water bottle holder. I left my house that Friday morning 2hrs before I had to start work since I didn't know how much walking I would end up doing. The air was humid that morning with intermittent drizzle that stopped after about 30 minutes. I started out with a light run for about 10min. followed by 10min. of walking. I then reached the mostly downhill part so I ran until I was about 3k away and looked at the time and found it had only taken my 45min. to get that far. That meant I was going to be really early for work so I decided to walk the rest of the way. After drying myself with paper-towel, I felt energized and my legs, ankles and feet felt fine. The trip home in the afternoon found the weather to be humid like the morning but much hotter and sunnier. I walked the first half of the trip home and was covered in sweat. I ran the rest of the way home since I was already hot and sweaty. After I showered at home, I drank some watered down orange juice while I razed and iced my ankle for good measure. I felt proud of myself that I was able to go to and from work leaving "a carbon-free footprint".

My ankle still aches from time to time, but it is mild and I usually notice it after a couple of days of rest. So right or wrong, I take it as a sign I should give it some gentle exercise. I'm happy to say that the gentle exercise now includes a light track workout. On Tuesday, I went to one of Dave's Tuesday night track runs and was quite happy with the workout and pace he gave me. It felt slow and a little boring at first but I was able to focus on my form more. Again, I had elevated and iced my ankle when I got home from the track. After the workout and the next day I didn't feel any soreness in the ankle so I would call it a success. During my recovery I have been doing a lot of walking since I haven't been able to run. My feet felt a lot more comfortable running on the rough track than they had last year. I credit all the walking I have been doing with toughening up my soles. The varying terrain and the reduced friction of the walking seem to have allowed the skin to thicken more than the running. I am going to try to incorporate more walking into my routine even when I am back to full running.

Tuesday was a good day to be barefoot and not just at the track. The City of Peterborough council had proclaimed June first "Barefoot Challenge Day, in support of International Children's Day" as posted on the City's website. The proclamation made me feel (rightly or wrongly) like there was more social support for the benefits of going barefoot. I don't however like the idea of linking being barefoot with raising awareness of the poor. I feel that the poor have much greater needs such as good food, shelter and access to medicines and education. The last thing they need is blisters, athlete's foot, plantar warts, plantar fasciitis, neuroma, hammer toe, corns, bunions, heel spurs, arthritis and ingrown toenails caused by shoes. I would much rather see bare feet being associated with health, sport, fitness, adventure, spirituality and environmental awareness.

As a final note, I just received my copy of Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler. From the small bits I have read so far it looks like and excellent book and I will be posting about it in the future.


  1. Good run! 20k a day will keep the doctor away.

    Do you intend on doing this every day?

  2. Hi I'm an old shod runner/new BF runner from Whitby. I started running in VFF in Feb and finally took them off and started running completely unshod in early April. I'm up to running about 30-45 minutes at a time, and working my way up to completing my first race. Just wondering if you could recomend some BF friendly races to a beginner BF runner. My email is

  3. Wallisp, I don't think I would call any of my races "BF friendly", but the more your feet are conditioned the more friendly the races feel. If you read my race reports in the blog archive you will get a sense of the race conditions from a barefoot running perspective.