Back in the Saddle

Two days ago I retrieved my Vibram 5-fingers from beneath a pile of discarded t-shirts and sports socks that form the floor of my wardrobe and took the lightweight slippers for their first outing of 2017. This might seem to be a little tardy on my part being that most of us are preparing to welcome the summer but here in North Karelia we still have snow on the fields and semi-solid slush covering our roadways and running tracks. All the same I decided to brave the elements and don my fire-red thin-soles and get in an easy 10K.
Needless to say the air was perfectly cool and fresh, low hanging cloud sweeping across the open sky, fields of migrating water fowl singing or swooping from on high to find food below. The dirt road was cool and soft to the touch and I gently relaxed in to my run questioning myself as to why I had waited so long to recall my barefoot runners from their Winter exile. With their thin soles and minimalist design every stride was a joy until the realities of dirt road running piercingly intruded on my Spring scuttle.
Throughout the long, dark and extremely cold Eastern Finnish Winters the roads require grit to combat the ice and packed snow that makes driving so hazardous in these parts. The dirt roads are maintained with loose chips and sometimes larger stones and at this time of year new layers of grit and dirt are spread to cover the fissures and pot-holes created by melting snow and ice. No sooner had the accusatory thought crossed my mind that I should have been barefoot running weeks ago than I came down on and upturned stone. I winced, slowed, cursed the gods but kept on moving. The weather was just too good to stop. I ran, I hobbled, I walked and then ran a little more. My feet absorbing and adjusting to the varied wet and dry textures along the route. I loved every moment of the run but knew I’d pay for it soon enough.
So, last night, while sinking a few with friends to celebrate Vappu (May Day) the slight swelling on the sole of my left foot was still gently throbbing; reminding me that there is often a cost for the experience – no matter if it is enjoying a relaxing run or imbibing a few with our nearest and dearest – the sore foot or the hangover are never that far away, so it’s important to know when to go easy.

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The dirt roads of Liperi – perfect for running…usually

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