Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Barefoot Running Experiment, Part 1

Yes, so Part 1 of The Barefoot Running Experiment took place nearly a week ago, and it has taken me this long to write the blog on it.  It has also taken this long for the biggest blister on my toe to finally start to deflate.

I decided to try barefoot running because, well, why not??  I have heard so much about barefoot running, and I even saw a guy out running without shoes on when I hit the trails a couple weeks ago.  I was like, 'realllllly?! that guy too??'  I knew it was my time.

I happened to have some hours to myself last Wednesday, and decided that it was a perfect time to run barefoot since I had already ran four miles that morning (I didn't want to waste a good workout on a barefoot run, not knowing how it might turn out).  I figured I would go easy for my first outing without shoes, and only do 1 1/2 miles.  That was dumb.

I stepped out of the house feeling naked and exposed...after lacing up for years, it feels quite strange to go out there without the essential piece of running equipment - shoes.  I thought, 'what if someone sees me?!  what will they think??'  Silly, yes, but I was self conscious.

Determination led me down the sidewalk, which I quickly discovered is more hazardous than the road for bare feet.  It is more likely that you will find mud, sticks, rocks, trash, etc on the sidewalk than on the road.  Trust me.  You don't truly become aware of the minute details of sidewalk vs. road until you attempt them both barefoot.

At first it felt....good!  I felt free, I could feel muscles from my toes to my thighs in completely new ways.  I was excited!

I ran cautiously and a bit slower than my regular pace.  If I could run without shoes, it truly would be the most minimalist sport out there - nothing required except clothes to cover your back - and in some places those aren't even necessary!  The prospect was thrilling.  It would certainly lighten the load (and relieve the smell) if I didn't have to tote my running shoes whenever I went out of town.

At about the half mile mark, I noticed that the repeated slapping of my soft and supple toes on the hard pavement was beginning to sting a bit.  Then the inevitable happened - I stepped on some of those tiny little pebbles that hurt almost as much as stepping on a Lego or Littlest Pet Shop accessory barefoot on the carpet.  After that, a hidden tree branch in the grass nearly took me down.  Grass, like people, can look quite deceiving, especially to bare feet seeking relief!

It was time to go home.  Unfortunately, I still had a 3/4 of a mile to go, either straight ahead or turning back.  This was not well planned.

Needless to say, my feet and I arrived home battered and exhausted.  The sting has finally disappeared from my little toes, and tomorrow is...Wednesday!  Do I see another barefoot running experiment in my day?! We will see....I will not give up so easily!


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