Run a lot…

And so how did I prepare to become fit enough to contemplate running across Spain in my bare feet?

The goal had emerged of itself, rather than me setting myself to do something…And ‘how to train for the goal’ also arrived of itself…

Run a lot….

Running training is very simple really. If you want to get better at something, do a lot of it – but of course with as ‘good form’ as possible.

I wanted to get better at barefoot running… So I did a lot of barefoot running!

This is the essence of accomplishing anything – to keep going… To have consistency and especially keep going when there seems to be no improvement….

And also when it’s repetitive and perhaps a little boring!

Although I have never found my running boring – I’ve never found anything that I have set myself to master boring… But this is because I rather like going deeply into things. This is my nature…. And so because it is my nature it’s a little more easy for me,

But it’s still a practice that can be learned – ‘how to develop the art of consistency’… It’s very important to never do so much one day that you don’t feel that you could do it again the next… This is the essence of a training program really and truly… To always to do the amount that you can keep repeating and from that base, to gradually improve or increase…

It is often not fully realised that this is the way to exponentially get better… Because the ability to do more comes out of the repetition… Of course there have to be times where we stretch to the next level – when we increase the mileage, do some more training,  heighten the quality of our speed work, do a bit more stretching or strength work…

For me, deepening of the practise works best if it ‘stretches the comfort zone’ rather than leaps too far out of it – because when we leap miles out of our comfort zone it can end in tears!

Of course some people can manage that, and it’s something that I have always asked my clients when they’re about to do a big endeavour…

I ask them imagine that they are jumping across a ravine, and whether they can see themselves reaching the other side in one leap? And if someone can’t imagine themselves landing on the other side – then I suggest that they take slower or smaller steps towards the goal…

And rather than leap out of the comfort zone – to stretch the comfort zone.

I have the capacity to adapt to leaping miles outside my comfort zone, but it’s not something that I would necessarily recommend – and as the years have gone by, I choose to stretch my comfort zone rather leap right outside it…

Now of course that’s a little bit of an irony with Barefoot Across Spain because I trained by stretching the comfort zone – but in all honesty the actual journey across Spain was way out of my comfort zone the whole way!

However because I just ‘stretched’, and I hadn’t destroyed myself in the training,.. I had grown and become stronger. I had built myself up not broken myself down, I was able to spend seven weeks ‘red lining’ it…!

This is another really important part of any training program…

To always keep building up, and not breaking down.

So it is a fine line, this red line of training – or of doing anything… We need to do enough to keep improving; and we need to do enough to keep stretching ourselves,  but not too much that means that become dull or that we give up…

Because many people give things up when they’re actually nearer than they think, and this is why it’s important to do an amount that feels good so that you don’t want to give up – because we’re often nearer than we think…

And what else?

Off course ran barefoot as much as I could, but I didn’t run all my running barefoot… When I was in the mountains and I wore  my Xero sandals, my feet actually developed incredible toughness…

I discovered for myself that running in mountainous land with Xero sandals actually strengthened my feet more than sometimes running on smooth grass, lovely sandy beaches or even smooth tarmac – because ultimately the stony stuff challenged my feet a little more.

I also discovered that you can only get your feet as strong as you can get them…

It is impossible to rush them or hurry them.

I did one practice of five days of 25K a day to simulate my upcoming challenge… I did it in the January and I discovered that I was very fit and that 25K a day was very ‘doable’, but I also discovered that I could only get the soles of my feet as strong as I could get them…

I saw in that practice run that I was going to need to deal with my feet breaking down…

I realised this because for two of the days of those 25K a day practice running, it rained and my feet did not like it! They started to break down and I realised that when the roads were wet, of course, the feet get wet and then it softened the skin and the road became like sandpaper… Not a recipe that is very good for feet!

But I recognised that I would just have to deal with it as it arose, and that I couldn’t do any more than I was doing… I could prepare my feet as best I could, but that was that…

The journey itself was going to be the place where I would simply have to work with things as they arose.