Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Know You'll Think I'm Crazy...but What Else is New?

I need to let you in on a little secret. I just got back from a run. A nice 5 mile run. Easy pace. What's the big deal? I left my shoes at home. See here they are right where I left them.

Why would I run 5 miles barefoot (actually I was in socks)? First let me say that I have been working up to this. I didn't just go out today and do a quick barefoot 5er on a whim. The full secret is that I have been working in a few runs sans shoes for a couple of weeks now. But again, why would anyone run barefoot at all?

The short answer to why I would run barefoot

...I needed something extreme to motivate me back into my running... 

and here's how that motivation came about.

First, I needed something to kick start my motivation for running after now what has been a full year of stops and starts in my running efforts. I'd lost my running buddies as they continued to run for the past year without me. And starting a running regime by yourself is not really that fun, especially when you know how fun your old running group was. Hence the low motivation to be committed to just myself.

Second, I heard Christopher McDougall speak recently at our fab community college. McDougall is out peddling his new book, "Born to Run" and I, with a few of my old running buddies, showed up to hear what he had to say. Here's a quick summary of McDougall's talk:

After seeing McDougall speak, I got the book...just to see. I'm a reader and I like nonfiction and I love stories of people doing way-out-there things. So this seemed to fit perfectly on my book shelf. And I have not been disappointed. The story is very interesting, peppered with very colorful and REAL characters, and McDougall's arguments for barefoot running are very persuasive. And they are supported by MANY running experts, exercise physiologists, physicists, doctors and much more.

I know McDougall has on those snazzy Gladiator sandals in the video above, but I don't have any of those. Those were just for effect in the video, I think. He wasn't wearing those when he spoke with us.

And third, I am not afraid to try something new...and if it's not exactly mainstream, all the better. And guess what? My old running buddies are into it too! A few of them have been doing what I have been doing, sneaking in a few barefoot miles, just to see for ourselves. So I might be running with the group again soon.

Now I know this barefoot running idea raises many questions. But the main two questions that I am sure are on your mind are:

  • doesn't it hurt your feet?
  • what the heck are your feet going to look like after all this?

To answer, it doesn't hurt. Just like anything new, you start out slow and easy and clearly running on a nice smooth sidewalk or similar surface. Now if you hit a pebble or try to run on gravel, well you know that will smart. And you run "toe-heel" rather than "heel-toe" so the ball of you foot absorbs the impact shock rather than your heel. The book explains all of the physical ramifications of running with and without shoes. In short, our bodies were designed to run on our toes but our running shoes are designed to make us run on our heels.

And about what your feet will look like after barefoot running? My husband hopes not like a Yeti's. Soon I will invest in some running flats or sandals to fend off the curse of the Yeti feet, but until then my pedicurist just got a little busier.


  1. I am your running buddy with or without shoes. You are the leader of the no shoe group. Let's plan a morning to run barefoot together, our feet will be happy. Mondays are good for me :)


  2. I am just glad you do not ride horseback. You would probably ride naked with sticky chicken side saddle thru the streets of Frederick. I can see in now on Fox News.

    I think it has more to do with you are just a Tennessee barefooted hillbilly at heart stuck in the suburbs of life.

    Watch out for the pebbles..... Lisa

  3. Believe it or not, I have heard of barefoot running--from my younger son. He has a pair of those funky toe shoes and we went for a run (he ran, I walked) at a nearby park. Maybe the comment from Lisa D is's that Tennessee hillbilly in us (I mean you and my son!)

  4. Yes, Tina, those are the Vibram Five Finger shoes. They look like frog feet. Not sure if I can go there.

    And as far as the TN hillbilly factor goes, I'm sure that plays a part, especially when I run yelling, "yee-haw!"

  5. I heard about running barefoot recently, too. I also have a friend who has a pair of the Vibram shoes, but he doesn't run! He just thinks they're comfortable.

    I don't know... at least they look better than crocs?


Whaddaya think about that?