The Coach Battles #Barefoot Through the #STWM Half Marathon

stwm barefoot jeff

Sunday, October 20, 2013 broke cool (3 degrees C) and sunny with a slight westerly wind, perfect running conditions for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront races.

There were over 7,000 runners in the 1/2 marathon, the selected race of yours truly. I was going after a sub  1:38 finishing time to break my barefoot record of 1:38:12 from last year. My training had been rather focused but not as deep regarding intensity as last year. However, I was still confident of going under 1:38.

Well, I started out strong with the 1:40 pace bunny but after 2 kms., I already realized the pace was too deep for me. At the 10 km. mark, I was just over 47 minutes – well below a 1:38 finishing time if only I could hold on. After hitting the 14 km. mark, I felt my pace drop off. It became a struggle to keep pushing. Mentally, I kept digging deeper but my body was not responding. I knew by the 18 km. mark that a sub-1:38 was out of the question. From there to the finish, I maintained a pace that would get me in under 1:45. Indeed, I came in at 1:43:22, 17th out of 139 in my age group (60 to 64) and 1,012th out of 4,765 men. All in all, not a bad race for the old coach BUT not what I had in mind. What went wrong, you ask? I’ve narrowed it done to the following:

  • NO EXCUSES – I just didn’t have it in me to go deep enough on October 20, 2013
  • I was 3.5 kilograms heavier than last year on race day – a big difference for someone my size as to speed
  • I truly had NOT trained as deep as last year (missing faster, harder runs especially in the 18 to 24 km. range over consecutive weeks). I convinced myself I had done so BUT, in reality, I hadn’t. As I always say, train at a B level, expect a B result
  • I ran with an inguinal hernia that acted up around the 13 km. mark during the race. I had surgery to repair it On Wednesday, Oct. 23, 3 days post-race

Having said that, I did hammer barefoot as hard as I could over the 21.1 kms. on the given day. I did bang up my right big toe numerous times on Toronto’s horrendously torn-up roads to where it was spurting blood. I did have to take off my long sleeve top along Lakeshore Rd. at the 12 km. mark – it got that hot as the morning unfolded. I did finish strong and was promptly approached by the CITY-TV crew for a post-race interview about running barefoot. You’d think that I was the 1st and only person to complete a race barefoot. I was shocked, actually, that I did not see a large number of barefooters racing in the Scotia. I did see a few Vibram FiveFinger racers and many in various types of minimalist shoes. Still, the majority of the mid to back-of-the-packers were running in ‘coffins’ – I have no idea why they do so! As those who follow my blog know, I run barefoot mainly to keep myself ‘avoidable’ injury-free. It’s as simple as that. Since throwing away my coffins 12 years ago and running barefoot, I have NEVER suffered an ‘avoidable’ running injury…NOT ONE.

Thus, to all the naysayers (and there are millions of them), so there! When you learn how to move as one with nature, you will NEVER turn back…no amount of ‘research’ will convince me otherwise!

the rapidly recovering coach Jeff


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