runningman pavey

extreme runner and novelist

Sunday: I will attempt my sixth marathon… barefoot!

After six years of absence, I will attempt my sixth marathon. I’m going to do it barefoot.

It has been just under five years since Project Fuji. Time is relative. We get older. It goes faster and faster. In July 2011 I ran a half marathon up the side of Japan’s highest and most prestigious mountain, in memory of Christina, and to raise money for Oxfam. And, with all those who supported me, it proved a huge success. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. But it came at a cost.

After the Fuji Mountain Race, I was diagnosed with severe cartilage degradation in my left ankle. I knew something was wrong prior to going to the specialist, because I’d been training in pain for months prior to the race. I didn’t realise he was going to recommend I give up running.

With my diagnosis in hand, I had three alternatives:

  1. Give up running – not really an option for me
  2. Look at orthotics – described by the specialist as expensive, something to consider, but unlikely to help
  3. Transition to barefoot running – described by the specialist as something to consider but unlikely to help

I’d already read Born to Run. I’d already bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) as part of the growing barefoot craze. I’d entertained the idea of transitioning to barefoot, but wanted to wait until after Fuji. So that was it. It was time to give it a go. And so began a very long painful transition, with a few great races in amongst many more injuries. The myth that barefoot will decrease injuries, is exactly that, a myth. If you’re injury prone like me, it’s going to happen in shoes or without shoes… unfortunately.

Gold Coast Marathon: 2010My body is just not built for running. But worse, my heart, my mind and my soul is. So, I have persevered, and persevered, and persevered.

I’m not sure if this is comeback number three or 13. But here I am, giving it another go. I’ve trained throughout this year with one goal in mind: to see if I can run a marathon… barefoot (in VFFs). And if I am going to give the marathon another go, it had to be at one of my favourites: The Gold Coast Marathon.

The training has not been easy. It has been riddled with illness and injury. I’m carrying a tendonitis injury just for something different: peroneal tendonitis.  I may have to take yet another extended break after this.

But on Sunday, at 7:20am, I will line up for marathon number six, in a pair of VFFs I have come to love almost as friends. I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to do this!

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