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Barefoot For a Year…

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Here is my story of being  barefoot for a year, in a page…

I was walking along Famara beach in Lanzarote with my husband Anadi… I love that beach. It is sandy and expansive, with a backdrop of volcanic cliffs, magical in their colour and stature.
The beach is 5k long when the tide is low, and very popular with surfers and kite surfers…

I was watching the surfers warming up… I loved watching them carrying out all their exercises and then they started to jog along the beach in a pack…

‘I wonder…’ I thought…

‘I wonder’, I said to Anadi ‘whether running barefoot would work for me…’

I started with just over a mile on the beach… Nothing in my body hurt.

It was September 9th and we were staying on Lanzarote Island until the end of September. I kept going back to the beach because when I tried to run on the road in my shoes, my legs still hurt with nerve pain from the injury I had sustained 6 weeks earlier in the Alpujarra mountains …

But barefoot I was free…

On the last day of our time there, I was trying to run around the running track in my shoes; but it hurt… A woman and her child appeared and lapped the blue asphalt track barefoot.
I took my shoes off and ran free…
I left my running shoes in the apartment, and travelled home with only my vivobarefoot shoes that I liked to walk around in…
I recognized that I barefoot was finding me; but I still ordered some Nike frees as I felt I would need them to transition…

The shoes never arrived and so as I was only in the UK for a short time I started to run in the vivobarefoot shoes…

I only ran ten times in October as my legs were very tired after each run in the very light shoes… I went to the gym a lot and my body and feet started to thrive…

Through November and December I got used to running in my barefoot shoes, and my completely bare feet when there was sand to run on…

I then read about beach socks….

So in January I ordered the socks and gave all my vivobarefoot shoes to my friend Jane…  Since then I have owned no shoes, and by February I had shed the socks too; made easier by my nomadic lifestyle and often being in sunny climes!

I listened to my feet…

I had let go of any goals in terms of mileage or running races… Before I was injured in July 2016 a lot of our travels had been to places where I could run a race… I was often winning the over 55 age group, and having a lot of fun…

My feet let all this go as they set off to run barefoot again…

I set myself no mileage aims, and I exercised my body with stretching and some strength and conditioning too, and noticed it aligning more and more… Long term pain and stiffness in my left hip left; long term knee pain faded and is still fading. My left arch that had dropped started to lift again and is still gaining in strength…

My feet lead me; when the left foot needed to do less we all did less; when my body and my feet needed to walk we walked…

I started to love my running in a new way – it was like the childhood joy had returned; I went ‘playing’ rather than ‘training’ and once again I felt more like a conduit for the run rather than trying to chase something…

Ten weeks ago I noticed that my feet had run 40 miles in a week, unbidden by me…

I was starting to feel fit again and at the same time my friend Katie contacted me to say she was running a race in Valencia in November… I entered the 10k and committed to ten more weeks on 40 miles, to build some race fitness – which has built to 50 in the last three weeks; my feet are loving it – my body too…!

During that time, the idea came to run for ‘Friends of Sussex Hospices’ from the North coast of Spain next spring, planning to arrive on the South coast in Almuñecar on my 59th birthday…

The idea came from my feet!
It certainly wasn’t from me 😄

 

 

I have been running all of my life – it feels I was born to run. In the running step I experienced freedom and my true expression. I came to see that I needed to ‘get out of the way of myself’ and let my energy flow through the running step; allow it to express itself in the dance and the motion of running. I ran for England and GB for some years. My first international was in 1979, a three mile cross country race; and I continued to run at international level until 1993. Two of my best results were first place in the Dublin City Marathon in 1985 and 7th place woman, 3rd British woman in the 1986 London Marathon in a time of 2.36.31, which gained me selection for the Commonwealth Games.

As a little girl I ran barefoot for many years, and then I put on shoes to race around the world. Fifty years later I am travelling the world as a nomad with my husband Anadi and I have taken off my shoes and I am running barefoot again….

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Email : juliachitaylor@gmail.com

 

 

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