Well, couple "hot spots" on my soles, just behind my toes from my double run last night. 3.6 miles barefoot is apparently still just a BIT much, but they didn't actually blister so I think with today's day off, I should be good. And, I got my younger son to run a whole W1D1 cycle with me, so worth some sore skin, without question. If I can set an example that my kids will follow, show them an active lifestyle that helps them buck the sedentary life I wasted far too much of my adult life on, then that is worth the world to me.
While I have a day off I figured I'd blog about something related, bare foot running. Now, I am by NO means an expert, nor am I trying to convince the world. But I do run barefoot. And I like it. Yet many times when I mention it or see someone on the street, I get regarded like I have three heads. So here are my thoughts on the subject
First, or anyone who's been hearing me talk about my barefoot adventures... let me be clear about a couple things. First, as I see it, there are generally two aspects of going barefoot. First is the "hippy, romantic, in touch with nature" element. And I happen to find that to be true. There are thousands of nerve endings in your feet and runnning free, or walking free, is like a continuous foot massage, without the tickling. For me, I enjoy that physical contact very much. It is part of what makes runnning fun for me. Plus, they never wear out, 100% waterproof, and always fit perfectly. and, like me, they are really, REALLY cheap.I'm not prone to touchy feely sentiment normally but in this case it is 100% true. To me, running and walking barefoot as much as possible just FEELS right.
But the second element involved is the barefoot running STRIDE, which more accurately is called the "forefoot landing" as opposed to a traditional "heel strike" landing that most shod runners fall into. And that "forefoot" landing" is what more and more research is showing can help prevent injury. It is what you will see most of those amazing Kenyan and Ethiopian marathoners using. It's what Roger Bannister used while wearing leather slippers when he became the first man to run a sub 4-minute mile. Even Scott Jurek, 7-time winner of the Western States 100 and 2-time winner of the Badwater 135 across Death Valley uses it. (He does heel strike but INCREDIBLY softly and only under his center of gravity. You watch him and he strides long but then actually pulls his foot back under him significantly before he actually makes ground contact.) And it's what the Maori bushmen still use when the persistence hunt, literally chasing an antelope for hours and hours until the animal literally drops from exhaustion. And that stride can be used by anyone, shod or barefoot. The whole "Nike Free" shoe, with it's return to thinner, less cushioned heels was created to cash in on. And This is the stride that for MANY people with chronic injuries, allows them to run pain free, sometimes for the first time in their lives.
Where the two meet, is that chucking off your shoes, slowly carefully for short distances at first, is that when you are truly barefoot those thousands of nerve ending will automatically change your stride. You Can NOT heel strike in bare feet, it is just way too painful. You WILL change that stride. And every time you forget and feel that *THUMP* of your heel remember one key fact. If you had your shoes on, you would not have felt that pain, but every pound of force, EVERY SINGLE POUND, would have been EXACTLY the same on your knees, hips and back. "Shoes don't block IMPACT, they only block PAIN! And Pain is what teaches us how to run more gently!"
So , when you hear someone talking about barefoot or minimalist footwear, or you see someone running barefoot... don't be so quick to judge. If we're out there and running and doing something good for ourselves, then isn't that the most important thing? And take a minute to TALK to some barefoot runners. I bet you will find that a much greater proportion of barefooters are actually ENJOYING their run than you'll find in the same number of shod runners. For them it's not about slamming out miles for the sake of the "greater health"... most barefoot runners actually, completely LOVE running. They're like kids, running around the neighborhood playing in sprinklers on a hot summer day. And I'd rather be in that group any day. And THAT is my $.02