In about a week I’m going to be running a local 5k race, and I’m hoping to get out there and have a great time. Oh, and I’m going to leave my shoes in the car. Why? Because barefoot running is something that I truly enjoy. I’ve learned the hard lessons already, and now it’s just a chance to feel free and happy while I’m getting in some miles.
What are the hard lessons, you ask? Well…
- Lesson one-don’t run an out-and-back on hot asphalt. By the time you realize it’s too hot the only thing you can do is turn around and run right back where you came. Not that I’ve done this. Well, not this month, at least…
- Lesson two-don’t start out thinking you’re going to run very far on your first try. The pain you feel on the next day will be a vivid reminder in the weeks and months to come that slow and steady wins the race every-single-time!
- Lesson three-barefoot running requires differences in stride, breathing, foot placement, and more. But once you get it down, there’s no going back. Shoes? Pfft.
Okay, so maybe this isn’t all supposed to be lessons just about barefoot running, eh?
A little back story
I’ve been running for several years now. Sometimes I’ll get on a kick and run barefoot; it’s pure, unadulterated fun. Feel free to insert a joke here about me growing up in Alabama and not wearing shoes for the first 12 years of my life. :-)
Back in high school when I was doing 5am football workouts with the team, I asked the coach if I could take off my shoes and run barefoot in the grass on the field. He gave me a strange look, and the rest of the team thought it was hilarious, but I felt pure joy.
A few years later when I was training for my first ultramarathon, I would do 7-9 miles and finish with 1.5 miles barefoot on a crushed gravel loop course. That. Was. Awesome!
So what’s the point?
I’ve learned to ignore what others think (or at least have fun with it). So they think running barefoot is _______ (weird/funny/dumb/gross/whatever)? That’s fine. I’m not asking you to take your shoes off, just don’t make me wear mine if I’m not interested.
At least initially, going back to barefoot is hard. It requires some changes that are, frankly, a little uncomfortable. You’ve trained yourself to need shoes on your feet, so they don’t like being out in the open. However, over time you regain the joy that comes with being free from the
shackles shoes that our society deems necessary.
Are others looking at you a little strange because you’re sticking to your convictions? You’re unwilling to bend on your principles? You’re not interested in letting things slide when it comes to your values? No worries, you’re just joining a very exclusive club of individuals that are unwilling to compromise on those things that are important to them. Welcome aboard–we’re glad to have you.
Oh, and if you’d like to take a minute today and get out of here, just say the word. My feet are itching to feel the grass and my running gear is packed. :-)